In the light of the posts unfolding right now on this blog to outline the dark side of our civilisation’s development, this recent Guardian article by Seumas Milne seemed very relevant. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.
Never let it be said that Britain’s leaders miss an opportunity to inflame fear and loathing towards migrants and refugees. First David Cameron warned of the threat posed by “a swarm of people” who were “coming across the Mediterranean … wanting to come to Britain”. Then his foreign secretary Philip Hammond upped the ante.
The chaos at the Channel tunnel in Calais, he declared, was caused by “marauding” migrants who posed an existential threat. Cheer-led by the conservative press, he warned that Europe would not be able to “protect itself and preserve its standard of living” if it had to “absorb millions of migrants from Africa”.
With nightly television coverage of refugees from the world’s worst conflicts risking their lives to break into lorries and trains heading for Britain, this was rhetoric designed to stoke visceral fears of the wretched of the Earth emerging from its depths.
Barely a hint of humanity towards those who have died in Calais this summer has escaped ministers’ lips. But in reality the French port is a sideshow, home to a few thousand migrants unable to pay traffickers for more promising routes around Britain’s border controls. . . . .
The chaos at Calais and the far larger-scale upheaval and suffering across Europe could be brought under control by the kind of managed processing that northern European governments, such as Britain’s, are so keen to avoid.
But that would only be a temporary fix for a refugee crisis driven by war and state disintegration – and Britain, France and their allies have played a central role in most of the wars that are fuelling it. The refugees arriving in Europe come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia and Eritrea.
With the recent exception of the dictatorial Eritrean regime, those are a roll-call of more than a decade of disastrous western-led wars and interventions. In the case of Libya, the British and French-led bombing campaign in 2011 led directly to the civil war and social breakdown that has made the country the main conduit for refugee trafficking from Africa. And in Syria, the western funding, arming and training of opposition groups – while fuelling the rise of Isis – has played a crucial role in the country’s destruction.
If the current American and British-backed Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen continues, expect Yemeni refugees to join the region’s exodus in the months to come. So the first longer term contribution Britain and its allies could make to staunching the flow of refugees would be to stop waging open and covert wars in the Middle East and north Africa. That is actual marauding.
The second would be a major shift in policy towards African development. Africa may not be leading the current refugee crisis, and African migrants certainly don’t threaten European living standards. But as a group of global poverty NGOs argued this week, Africa is being drained of resources through western corporate profit extraction, extortionate debt repayments and one-sided trade “partnership” deals. If that plunder continues and absolute numbers in poverty go on rising as climate change bites deeper, migration pressures to the wealthy north can only grow.