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Former Democratic Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton this week suggested a plan for Europe to prevent the rise of right wing populists; by essentially taking a leaf out of their book.
Talking with senior centre-left representatives as part of a range of interviews on the rise of the right-wing in Europe and the Americas, Clinton suggested that Europe’s leaders need a tougher approach to immigration; the same sort of approach which her opponent has taken since beating her to the Oval Office in 2016. She has blamed the immigration issue for her defeat to President Trump, criticising his heavy use of the issue.
“The use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one’s heritage, one’s identity, one’s national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here.”
Her words in many ways epitomise why she didn’t beat Trump to the White House. On many occasions since the election , Clinton has made excuses for her defeat in the polls and now she is now going on tour to Europe on her high horse. Her centre-left politics failed in America and now she is trying to give advice to a whole other continent.
“I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part and must send a very clear message – ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”
Whenever a western politician, particularly one from the UK or USA, gives their verdict on immigration problems in Europe its always worth remembering one of the major root causes. The bombing of countries such as Libya and Syria by NATO forces in the past ten years has murdered hundreds of thousands of people and made millions homeless; creating fertile ground for resentment. Clinton knew all about this; after all she was Secretary of State. She had a major role in her nations foreign policy, helping to force thousands to flee to Europe for safety. Would this have crossed her mind during the Guardian interview? Almost certainly not. It’s hard to grasp what exactly she wants Europe’s leaders to do.
It is no understatement that Europe will be divided by Clinton’s comments. The re-homing of immigrants is a factor which some European nations feel should be shared out more evenly. Other countries don’t share this view, with some more right-wing countries rejected requests to take in refugees.
With the greatest respect, Clinton is not the best person to comment on how Europe should approach the sensitive issue of refugees. As well as her comments in the Guardian article Clinton has a track record of being inconsistent on the significant topics, including immigration. In 2014 she was quoted in a CNN interview as saying the following,
“We have to send a clear message that just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean your child gets to stay.”
This comment being rather right wing for an apparent democrat was somewhat overturned two years later as the former First Lady of the USA felt it was important to take care of all children regardless of their nationality, “the children themselves need to be taken care of. They are children. They should be given every help that we can.” Clinton is not the only US politician to express this sort of ‘flip-flopping,’ as it has been so delightfully nicknamed by some parts of the American media, but immigration in Europe is a hot topic and has been so for a several years now. Any relationships which she may have had with the centre left in Europe may well have been reconsidered after her comments.
Immigration is never far from European news. The continent is increasingly becoming under pressure to devise a compassionate and effective plan to engage with the thousands in need of help. However, if the right wing continues to rise and if members of the centre and left join Clinton in moving towards the opposite end of the political spectrum on their stance on immigration then the chance for a humane and respectful plan for immigration could all but disappear. It may sound crude, but not destroying homes and killing thousands of people for very little reason would be one way of stopping people from risking their lives getting into Europe. This suggestion seems to fall on more and more deaf ears, Hilary Clinton is just one more set of them.