Refugee migrations have a history that is as old as the human race, sometimes caused by hunger and natural disasters, but most often by war.
“People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions and that makes life complicated”, Helen Keller pointed out so poignantly.
I’m well aware that SearchAmelia is not really the platform anymore to discuss ‘worldly’ matters, but since we have departed our house for the preparation of a last farewell estate/moving sale and are now temporarily residing at the Inn for a couple of days before saying farewell, I felt that a personal take on the refugee crisis and the terrorism fall-out in Europe and the Middle East, could answer some of the questions my local friends, acquaintances and even family have been sending my way in recent months; especially the few that know of my brief encounters with the Middle Eastern problems some 45 years ago when I spent time researching the Palestinian problem in the Bekaa Valley’s ghettos in those days, resulting from a Palestinian revolt that was violently crushed in Jordan, sending tens of thousands of refugees to the valley.
My take on today’s problems maybe a little colored by those experiences, yet I still am of the opinion that the Daesh (acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham.”)/Isil or Isis leadership should be eradicated now and without prejudice. Failure to do so by allied force, will only escalate their promise to make this a global threat.
If the following story is a bit long for you, you may want to play this Carlos Santana Live Concert in the background, knowing that it has always been my opinion that if you give a kid an instrument and teach him to play, he will very unlikely turn into a gun toting “Mexican criminal” Mr. Trump!
Why is Paris a Preferred Target?
First let me explain a few things about why Paris France is an often preferred target for Muslim terrorist. Today’s Parisians pay the price for atrocities committed by their leaders about 100 years ago (1918) when after World War I, the League of Nations (predecessor of today’s United Nations) gave France the Mandate over Greater Syria (including Lebanon). The first thing the French government did was extending the borders of the Mt. Lebanon province to include all of what is now Lebanon. This was done to enhance the political situation of the Maronite community who’s population would now exceed that of the Sunni Muslims in the new district. A very political move with harsh consequences, it would turn out.
The root of all evil to fester in the Middle East and parts of Africa comes from shifting tribal powers by arbitrarily drawing straight lined nation states with no consideration for who is being cut off from their historic roots. Colonial powers had a habit of doing just that.
If you are interested in a short data chronology of what happened in the Syria/Lebanon area between January 1, 1918 and now, go here.
The French today are paying the price for the political policy sins of their great grand fathers in the Middle East and their Grandfathers in Algeria and other parts of North Africa.
Where are Terrorists Grown?
The next thing to understand about extremism and violence is that the flame ignites usually in well educated and connected upper middle classes, where causes are formulated and over time taken down to the uneducated, disenfranchised and downtrodden of the world. Carlos “the Jackal” was the son of a lawyer, studied at the world renown London School of Economics and Lumumba University in Moscow, Rudi Dutschke who advocated “long march through the institutions of power” came from well established Berlin parents. The attempt on his life in 1968 in a way “created” Germany’s Rote Armee Fraktion, as founder Ulrike Meinhof, the daughter of two professors in Art History and languages, reacted to this attempt with the words: Protest is when I say this does not please me. Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me, will not happen anymore.
Andreas Baader was the son of a post doctorate historian archivist, his girlfriend and Red Army Fraction founder Gudrun Ennslin’s father was a pastor. Ernesto Che Guavara was an Irish/Basque descendant from a politically active rightwing family who became a doctor and revolutionary. Fidel Castro’s father was a first generation successful cane sugar farmer. Fidel’s catholic upbringing included numerous prestigious catholic schools in Cuba. In 1950 he graduated as doctor of law after which he co-founded a legal partnership that catered to poor Cubans. His beginnings were focused on improving the lives of the poor and the victims of corruption and abuse of power, soon after to be replaced by the awareness that absolute power corrupts as a minuscule part of what time perceives as evolution and natural progression.
There are numerous examples in old and recent history that tell the story of how social awareness is expressed. Revolution is just one way and it is always bloody and violent and creates refugee problems.
Attila the Hun and Gengis Khan are still vaguely known in Europe as two “conquerors” who pushed millions of refugees into Europe and actually changed the continent’s history entirely as one can witness even today, when the Germans are still called “Huns” by some.
Africa remembers Hannibal and Hatseputh and many others and if I were a native from the American continent I would mark Columbus Day as a dark day in my people’s history. By the way did you know that Columbus’ son was the first African Slave Trader?
More recently Napolean and Hitler‘s Wars of conquering moved millions from their native grounds and even today’s Israel is the result of a massive refugee exodus after World War II.
Perspective does not make the atrocities committed any less, but it makes the understanding a bit more palatable, without any form of justification.
Those who make it worse
In all ignorance currently sprouting from idiots that think they can bomb this problem away, I have news. You won’t. You couldn’t in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. Refugees are a problem of humanity and yes these people are with their back against the wall knowing that if more radical elements hide in their ranks, they will not find welcome anywhere and millions will die – children first. But don’t think they would not give up these radicals if given the opportunity to speak up in protection. Do we trust our governments to vet refugees properly maybe the 64 thousand dollar question to deal with, given the abject mission failure of organizations like the TSA?
One thing is however for sure, a hardline approach will finish everything America ever stood for and building walls on the borders is ludicrous, because once you’re down with Mexico’s borders, you may as well start with the Canadian border, considering the election of Pierre Trudeau’s son into the prime minister’s office recently.
The Refugee Culture in Europe
Following is what I get in translation from my brothers and friends in Europe, living in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, Berlin, Rome, Beirut and Norway, who are all intimately familiar with and aware of the history of the middle east.
There’s a meme going around that the refugee crisis in Europe (the largest since World War II) is part of a secret plot to subvert the West.
Of course the locals in any country wouldn’t be happy about waves of foreigners pouring in. Especially if they’re poor, unskilled, and not likely to assimilate in the prevailing culture.
It leads to huge problems. Infrastructure gets strained. All at once more people are sucking at the teat of the welfare system. while the unwelcome newcomers compete for bottom-of-the-ladder jobs. Things easily turn nasty and then turn violent.
But the idea that the refugee crisis in Europe is part of a hidden agenda – rather than a predictable outcome – is at least a little strange. And it’s a notion that conveniently deflects blame away from the people and factors that deserve it.
As I shared in the beginning of this story, the civil wars in the Middle East have over many decades produced millions of refugees. In 1970/71 Lebanon took in several hundred thousand refugees from neighboring Jordan. I saw their camps in the Bekaa Valley and I knew that history would keep on repeating itself.
The ongoing civil war in Syria has now turned the country into a refugee-maker and Syria’s neighbors have reached the physical limit on their ability to absorb refugees.
That’s one of the reasons so many are heading to the West.
Lebanon has received over 1 million Syrian refugees. That’s an enormous number for a country with a population of only 4 million – a 25% increase. Jordan and Turkey also have millions of Syrian refugees. They’re saturated.
The number of refugees heading to the West, by contrast, is “only” in the hundreds of thousands. So far.
But it’s not just Syria that’s sending refugees.
Many more come from Iraq and Afghanistan, two other countries shattered by bungled Western military interventions.
Then there are the refugees from Libya. A country the media and political establishment would rather forget because it represents another disastrous military decision.
Actually, it’s not just Libyan refugees. It’s refugees from all of Africa who are using Libya as a transit point to reach Europe.
Before his overthrow by NATO, Muammar Gaddafi had an agreement with Italy, which is directly to Libya’s north, across the Mediterranean Sea. Gaddafi agreed to prevent refugees heading for Europe from using Libya as a transit point. It was an arrangement that worked. So it’s no shocker that when NATO helped a coalition of ambitious rebels overthrow the Gaddafi regime, the refugee floodgates opened.
When there’s war, there are refugees. It’s a one plus one outcome.
It’s a bit like kicking a beehive and being surprised that angry bees fly out. Nobody should be surprised when that happens. And nobody should be surprised that people are fleeing war zones in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
If Western governments didn’t want a refugee crisis, they shouldn’t have been so eager to topple those governments and destabilize those countries without a solid plan and timeline. The refugees should camp out in the backyards of the individuals who run those governments.
we should not forget to mention the Saudis. They were very much involved in the Libyan war and Egypt’s volatility. They’ve also devoted themselves to ousting the Assad government in Syria, for geopolitical and sectarian reasons.
Then there’s the war in Yemen that the Saudis have sponsored. It’s another mess the media don’t discuss often. But it will likely produce even more refugees.
The Saudis make no secret about not welcoming refugees, even though the Kingdom is a primary instigator of the wars that are forcing people to flee their homelands. One reason is the Saudis don’t want more people leeching off their welfare system, especially amid budget crunches from lower oil prices.
This brings up another interesting point. For the first time in decades, observers are calling into question the viability of the Saudi currency peg of 3.75 riyals per US dollar.
The Saudi government spends a ton of money on welfare to keep its citizens sedated. But with lower oil prices cutting deep into government revenue, there’s less money to spend on welfare. Then there’s the cost of the wars in Yemen and Syria.
There’s a serious crunch in the Saudi budget. They’ve only been able to stay afloat by draining their foreign exchange reserves. That threatens their currency peg.
The next clue that there’s trouble is Saudi officials telling the media that the currency peg is fine and there’s nothing to worry about. An official government denial is almost always a sign of the opposite. It’s like the old saying: “believe nothing until it has been officially denied.” In my opinion there is another refugee stream in the making, probably more shifted towards the US, considering their longstanding ties and investments.
If you have nothing, a welfare state is paradise
It’s no coincidence that the refugees are flowing to the countries with the most generous welfare benefits, especially Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Scandinavian nations.
If there weren’t so many freebies in these countries, there wouldn’t be so many refugees showing up to collect them. Humanitarian aid is one thing, but freebies that elevate them far beyond their lifestyles, is narcissism.
The whole refugee crisis was easily predictable. It was the foreseeable consequence of shortsighted interventions in the Middle East and the welfare-state policies of nearby Europe.
Instead of facing facts, blaming it all on a scheme to subvert the West conveniently deflects any responsibility from the authors of the mess.
If the individuals who run Western governments really wanted to solve the refugee problem, they would throttle way back on welfare-state policies and then stay out of the Middle East free-for-all. It’s really as simple as that. Of course Israel does not agree with me, as do fractions with financial interests.
I don’t count on the mainstream media to figure this out any time soon. They effectively operate as an organ of the State. I bet they’ll keep prescribing more of the same bad medicine that caused this crisis to begin with.
This will help to cover the tracks of the real perpetrators, and it will obscure other real problems. I expect the media to ramp up the “blame the foreigner” sentiment, as it helps the US and EU governments distract the anger of their citizens from failed policies, the sputtering economy and the shrinking of their civil liberties. From the politicians’ perspective, it’s a win-win. But it’s a lose-lose for citizens hoping for accountable government.
Bernie Sanders is starting to look a bit better to me. He’s old enough to give it one last shot to make a difference. Who knows.