We have in the last several months and more observed with increasing alarm this terrible humanitarian crisis. The horrible images and stories tear at the soul of even the most hardened nationalist. It has been generally accepted, even by the countries against whose borders the refugees are flooding, that no human being should suffer in the ways we are witnessing.
The proposed solutions are a dime a dozen. However, I feel in order to arrive at a real and lasting panacea we must soberly understand and accept the underlying causes of this crisis. Hence the title of my article. I will not be exceedingly naive and suggest that there is a single causative factor at play here. However, looking at the histories and the data, I find it comes out quite clearly that there are patterns that are very indicative of the key problems at hand, one of which is the focus of this article.
UNHCR has stated that in 2014 over 70% of the refugees flocking to Europe were from Syria (79,000), Afghanistan (22,000) and Eritrea (34,000), with Syria as from 2014 taking over the highest number of refugees mantle from Afganistan, who prior to that had led for over a decade. It also recorded 22,000 from Kosovo and over 26,000 from unspecified African countries (read Sudan, Somalia, etc), as well as smaller numbers from a host of other African and Western Balkan States.
The data speaks quite clearly: the heavy majority of migrants and refugees to Europe come from Africa, The Middle East, the Western Balkans and South Asia. I need not underline the common link between these areas, although of course I will: they have been victims, for centuries, of ceaseless meddling, interfering, invasions and control by the west.
Indulge me for a moment as I digress. Due to the confluence of a myriad of factors, individuals and events, the subject of a whole other conversation, Europe and the United States, the west, gradually rose to power over centuries, even surviving a little sibling rivalry (aka WWI & II), and have thus far managed to stay there. It is indeed true that we do not know whether had a different people been present custodians of world power and influence, say Africans or Asians, their approach and attitude, whether past or present, toward global affairs would have been any different. Nevertheless, it can be observed that, save for a short few exceptions such as the Persian and Mongol Empires, Europeans, with the USA implied by extension after they obtained independence and joined in the fun, have historically exhibited the most appallingly voracious appetite for the interference, invasion and control of other people’s lands, homes, resources and affairs, whether directly or indirectly. This is a legacy that has spilled over into the present day, only now increasingly being repackaged into the slightly more palatable and diplomatic, albeit significantly more insidious form of “democracy”, with regime change as one of the many tools of selection for implementation.
The regions we mentioned earlier in this piece have been on the unenviable receiving end of these efforts for global dominance. This is a fact indisputable by an unbiased individual, mostly because it is on historical record. The divide and conquer tactics that have been employed need no further ink wasted in illustrating. The senseless indiscriminate drawing of borders. The assassination of uncooperative heads of state. Democratically elected. So as to instill democracy. Oh, the bittersweet irony. The funding, and even arming, of rebel groups around the world to take on unsavoury governments. One of the goals being to have in place governments that will subscribe to the requisite institutions and policies that will retain if not enhance the economic status quo. And finally, if all else fails, the finding of a justification for invasion of a country that is not yours. Regime change.
I will take another brief detour here to mention that the west and western media was silent as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and others absorbed for years with little hoopla the majority of the hordes of refugees since 2011 when the Syrian conflict began, and indeed refugees and migrants from previous conflicts . These benevolent nations have borne the brunt of crises that had nothing to do with them. It seems it was acceptable to the west for Syrian and other nations’ citizens to die in their own countries, regardless of the fact that they would be dying under the under the hail of bullets and other weaponry manufactured and provided by the west and facilitated by governments that prior to the bedevilled Arab Spring were darlings of the west. The images spanning the years this current crisis has lasted of lines of dead children’s bodies in Syria ostensibly were acceptable. These western leaders presently making morality statements without a doubt have been seeing the images and receiving the reports and intelligence since the beginning. Since 2011, death elsewhere was acceptable. But in 2015, when the problem significantly shifted to European borders, suddenly it became a crisis. How clearer to define a crisis of convenience?
Worse still when one looks at the reaction from the west to the highlighting of this crisis over the past several months. An insulting reaction aimed at reputation preservation, so that one can say we did something. The United States has so far taken in about 1500 Syrian refugees. David Cameron the other day magnanimously offered that the United Kingdom can afford 20,000 Syrians a home over the next five years, equating to 4000 per annum. He crowned this budget-breaking commitment by stating that it demonstrates to the world that the UK is a country of extraordinary compassion. To put this extraordinary compassion into context, of the estimated 4 million refugees that have fled Syria over the course of this crisis, Turkey has absorbed just under half. Lebanon to date has taken in over 1.1 million. Lebanon has a GDP of just over $68 billion. The UK has a GDP of approximately $2.5 trillion. The United Kingdom is about 35 times wealthier than Lebanon. I repeat: the United Kingdom is 35 times wealthier than Lebanon. Allow that a moment to sink in. Lebanon has already taken in over 55 times the people the UK is proposing to over the next 5 years, and without proclamations of how virtuous their admirable actions are. Granted, Germany has placed herself on the complete opposite end of the British stance, but I suspect I don’t need to point out that one cannot help but wonder about the sincerity of her motives, what with much of the global population presently still with a living memory of her actions 75 years ago.
What we are seeing in Europe is the west reaping what they have sown. Those masses attempting to get in may be economic refugees, civil strife refugees, war refugees or whatever other kind pleases your fancy, but they quite strikingly are also one thing: Regime Change Refugees. This is the disease that causes the other symptoms mentioned above – economic collapse, civil strife and wars. Regime change is of course itself one of the many tools in the arsenal employed by the west to advance their agenda, but it has proved simultaneously one of the most effective and devastating, depending on which side of the ponds you stand. In many of these areas, western influenced interference and conflict can be traced back into the 19th century and before (indeed some go back many, many more centuries), with various triggers over the decades routinely reopening old wounds and reigniting fires that result in innocent, hapless peoples leaving, seeking refuge, seeking a place to just live. The Western Balkans’ affairs for instance are old, deep-rooted and tragic, and in some instances so closely mirror that of the other regions mentioned that perhaps they can be taken to stand representative of our collective story, the highlight of which, if any single event from amongst the countless can indeed be selected, may perhaps be the act of assassination in the early 20th century carried out against European royalty by a Bosnian-Serb who today has a statue and museums in Sarajevo in his honour as a freedom fighter hero, Gavrilo Princip. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by the USA and its allies has knocked those countries back several decades and left them a violent mess. Libya had the 5th highest GDP Per Capita in Africa. Its untaxed populace enjoyed free housing, free education and free medical care. In a telling illustration of the simmering undercurrents in Europe surrounding responsibility and ownership of this present matter, in late August 2015 a government official of a small former Eastern European country that is now in the EU and is among those bearing the brunt of the migrant crisis was quoted saying, when asked by Europe to house the migrants, “Why should we provide homes for these refugees when we didn’t invade their countries?”
Our message, dear Europe and USA, is simple: Get out of our affairs. They do not concern you. You have absolutely no business in deciding who our leaders are. Their love for you, which translates to their slavish, unquestioning adherence to your institutions that maintain the status quo, does not fare as well on our checklist as you may think when we go to the ballot box. You have no stake in our natural resources, much as your post-colonial contracts and agreements say you do. Those shall be corrected in due course. We are not fools. We understand that you are quite fond of wealth and power, and you want to accumulate lots, perhaps all of it. So are we. We have all become capitalists, after all. BUT, the importance of your need to increase your power, influence, wealth and everything else on your shamedly long agenda stops where our borders start. We fully well understand that you do not possess an iota of concern for the mwananchi in any country other than your own, save for when it suits your purpose. This is clearly demonstrated in your selective interventions to solve the world’s problems; selection influenced by your motives. Stop your disingenuous democracy exports. We are not buying.
A quote that wonderfully aptly clarifies your intentions and staggeringly inventive range of approaches springs to mind here: when the Cubans were attempting to wrest control of their country from the Americans, Andrew Carnegie in 1898 asked Henry Cabot Lodge, “Why are you doing this the old fashioned way like the British and the French, using military force and dominating in the old white man’s style? That’s old fashioned, the new way to do it is to control them with financial organisations, using loans and debt. Dollar diplomacy.”
This mentality captured throughout this article must cease. Subsequently, inevitably, the repercussions of your policies, the refugees drowning attempting to escape the countries you have fucked, will stop knocking on your doors and washing up on your shores.
As an addendum to this article, I will bring to your attention an article by a British author, Douglas Murray, where he takes the high road on behalf of the continent. His article is well written and very lucidly lays out the best anti-migrant position. That said, I find it to be patently dishonest, especially where he pretty much sums up the position by asking the question “Is it the job of Europeans to give a better standard of living in our continent to anybody in the world who wants it?’’ I refuse to believe that a writer who can put forth a view point in the manner that he does is ignorant of the deeds spanning the last five centuries that have led Europe and the West to their better standards of living. As I was attempting to marshal my thoughts towards a response to this highly intellectually dishonest article, I chanced upon a comment to the same article that worded my thoughts I suspect significantly better than I ever would have, and I shall leave you with it:
“”Only in the modern West have we landed in the unnatural position of finding it easier to accept responsibility for things we have not done than to profess the truth of our innocence.” The West, innocent? Here is what the West is: a collection of largely ideologically, historically, geospatially, and economically aligned countries that have benefited immensely from historical exploitation through colonialism and slavery, and who continue to benefit immensely from economic exclusion and imperialism, military might and invasion. Murray writes with no acknowledgement that our privilege comes out of colonialism and slavery. Let’s not be too quick to pat ourselves on the back for being rich innocents, and let’s acknowledge that many of the most damaged countries in the world are so damaged because of historical and contemporary military and economic practices that Western countries have committed and continue to and that we benefit economically from this.”