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Bob Rigg's take on the refugee crisis

Bob Rigg's take on the refugee crisis

Bob Rigg
27th September

Towards the end of 2014 the EU adopted a Tony Abbott solution to the problem, then mainly affecting Italy, with refugees mainly arriving in droves via Nth Africa: restrict the budget for rescue operations. That is, as the Germans would say, im Klartext, let the buggers drown and hope that they will stop coming. Well, they kept on coming, they drowned in ever larger numbers, and the EU was simply forced to abandon its policy.

I have to simplify here, no time and space for complex differentiation and lots of relative clauses. The west is primarily responsible for the utter destruction, not just of societies from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, and is now living with the consequences of its own misbegotten policies in Central Asia and the Middle East. If you look at images of ruined Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi cities, not to speak of Libya, you are reminded of Dresden and Tokyo after US firebombing. Utter devastation, whose human consequences have been there for all to see for many years.

When I was little I was told that this region was the cradle of civilisation. We have now bombed it back into the stone age, and have forced its populations to live lives of abject misery, all in the name of freedom, democracy, and oil. Not just refugees but internally displaced persons - refugees in their own countries. Dehumanising and dehumanised living conditions for countless millions. One in four Lebanese is a refugee. Jordan is also sinking beneath the waves of refugees. The economies of these two small, politically vulnerable countries have been under enormous stress. The west has failed to support them. Although Turkey is far more powerful than these two countries it has also been struggling with a major refugee problem for years. Europe and the US have known all about this, but have provided very miserly support, while continuing to generously fund their malfunctioning war games in the ME. For example, the most recent US attempt, at a cost of $500 million, to train and arm 50 "moderate" insurgents, almost all of whom were captured and killed as soon as they went into battle! That amount would have been very gratefully received by refugee agencies in the region.

About one month ago the UN refugee agencies in Syria had to tell refugees in their refugee camps that they had run out of funds, and would be unable to continue to provide food. If I had been one of those refugees, I would have joined the flight to Europe.

Yes, if the US and the west had not persistently superimposed their own grand colonial misconceptions on the ME, if they had acted generously over the years to support the massive numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, and if they had sought peace, not war, what is now happening might well not have happened.

But it has happened. And all that the Europeans could do is what they are mostly doing, welcome the refugees. If they welcome the refugees and actively support their integration, not permitting them to form an alienated angry underclass, it could actually work out to their advantage. Germany's demography in particular means that it urgently needs immigration. The core EU countries such as Germany and France have ageing populations, with far too few young folk in 20 years’ time to sustain economic development. These migrants could serve the national self-interest in the medium term, if they are welcomed and integrated.

I am a great admirer of Angela Merkel. Germany is now the moral leader in the community of nations, something which most Germans are loving. It's a nice change! She is very canny, and is undoubtedly aware of how this grand gesture could go wrong, but is determined to make resolution of the refugee issue a major national priority and to take the German people with her, while she persistently refuses to allocate 2% of the national budget to defence, as the US is demanding.

ENDS

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