Turkey and Mexico; Honey and Vinegar

By David North on May 31, 2019

The old expression is, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Once there was a huge flow of illegal aliens (largely from Syria) going through Turkey to Europe; as there is currently a huge flow of them from Central America traveling through Mexico to the U.S.

Europe took the advice about honey. It has worked out an agreement with Turkey to close its southern border and to absorb millions of Syrian refugees; Europe has agreed to pay six billion euros to Turkey for its cooperation. That's close to seven billion U.S. dollars.

By and large, the deal seems to be working, and there are no floods of Syrians refugees at every

Balkan border, as was the case a few years ago. And one could argue that bad as things are in the Northern Triangle of Central America, they are worse in Syria. After all Russian planes are not bombing Central American villages.

Meanwhile, the U.S. president has decided on a different approach, notably the most recent announcement that all goods from Mexico will face a 5 percent tariff starting June 10, growing by steps, to 25 percent later in the year, unless Mexico does a Turkey for us.

Will this program based on threats as well as real impositions of tariffs – at some cost in terms of the damage it will do to both countries' economies – have a truly beneficial impact on the flows across our southern border? One wonders.

There are a lot of parallels here:

  • the US has a land border with Mexico, as Europe does with Turkey;
  • Mexico is a less prosperous nation than the U.S. but it much more so than the three nations of the Northern Triangle.
  • similarly Turkey is not as rich as Europe, but is much better off than her southern neighbor, Syria.
  • the worrisome movements are from the southern nation or nations, in each case, through the transit countries, Turkey and Mexico.
  • in both cases, the population of the sending nations is quite small as opposed to that of the receiving nations; the US, with 327 million people is worried by the emigration from the Northern Triangle nations with some 32 million; Europe, with a population of 508 million, is threatened by refugees from Syria, with a population of 18 million and dropping.

But there is one big difference.

Europe is not afraid to tax its people, including its rich, in an effort to solve social problems, such as too many refugees. Our president seems to prefer bluster and tariffs and threats, rather than working out a multi-billion dollar deals with Mexico, and with the Northern Triangle nations.

Trump, in short, prefers vinegar even though honey may be the better approach.