Europe’s refugee crisis is just another American bill for the latter’s legacy of global conflict – a bill that is being dumped at the European allies’ door to pay. Years of US-led wars waged in Central Asia, through the Middle East and across North Africa are arguably the major factor in the droves of migrants now straining the European Union, as they seek refuge from raging conflicts and deprivation. The nationalities of the refugees mirror the trail of countries that America has pulverised over the past decade.
The situation of Europe bearing the brunt of costs for its American ally’s recklessness not only finds its manifestation in the growing refugee crisis facing the European Union. The same disproportionate repercussions – «Europe pays while the US slays» – is seen with regard to the Ukraine conflict and the increasingly perilous confrontation with Russia.
As with the growing refugee calamity, in the conflict over Ukraine and the dangerous stand-off with Russia, it is Europe that is mainly incurring the manifold problems that have been created largely by Washington’s policies.
Germany’s farmers alone are reckoned to have lost € 600 million in export business to Russia from the sanctions and counter-sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. The total economic repercussions across the EU from the debilitating standoff with Russia are multiples more.
The Brussels bureaucracy and certain US-lackey European leaders indeed signed off the anti-Russian trade sanctions. But, it has to be said, that the hostile sanctions policy towards Moscow ever since the alleged annexation of Crimea in March 2014 has largely been initiated and pushed by Washington. The Europeans, somewhat pathetically, have allowed themselves to be railroaded into adopting the Washington-directed policy, with a lot of arm-twisting by the Obama administration.
But the bottom-line is this: it is European workers, farmers, businesses and the wider public who are suffering from the US-led sanctions on Russia. America’s bilateral trade is a fraction of Europe’s trade with Russia, and so the impact and repercussions of anti-Russian sanctions and counter-sanctions are consequently felt most painfully by Europe – not the US.
In other words, it is all very well for Washington to embark on Russian hostilities because from Washington’s cynical point of view it is not the one who is picking up the economic and social bill for the confrontation. Instead, it is the European «allies» who are picking up the American tab, so to speak. And how the arrogant Americans must be having a good old laugh at that too! It’s like taking pals out for a slap-up meal and rounds of drinks, and then at the end of the night the loud-mouth boor sits with his hands in his pockets and gets the sucker pals to settle the bill.
The same goes for the upsurge in the Mediterranean refugee crisis – a crisis that is threatening to overwhelm EU countries, economically and logistically. The crisis may even herald a collapse among political establishments across Europe from fuelling the rise of far-right and anti-immigrant political parties.
Xenophobic, racial tensions are escalating across Europe as incoming migrants are perceived as «stealing jobs» and social benefits, as well as bringing «alien cultures». Europe is fast becoming a nasty continent of racial discontent, far removed from its supposed humanitarian and enlightenment values. The rise of German anti-immigrant movement, Pegida, and other fascistic groups across Europe is a sign of the malevolent mood.
This week some 1,200 would-be migrants perished in the Mediterranean Sea when their overcrowded, dilapidated vessels capsized after leaving the North African coast in the dark of night. The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration estimates that by the end of this year, the death toll from refugees trying to reach Europe by this route may reach 30,000 – making it by far the worse year on record – 10 times the death toll for the previous record year in 2014.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants – 275,000 in 2014 estimated by Italian authorities – who are lucky enough to survive the journey to mainland Europe, land first on the so-called frontline states of Spain, Italy, Malta and Greece. From there, they travel on to other EU members.
In a Washington Post report on April 21, headlined ‘New migration crisis overwhelms European refugee system’, the article is billed as «examining the causes and impact of a global wave of migration driven by war, oppression and poverty».
The Post reports: «As Europe confronts a rapidly escalating migration crisis driven by war, persecution and poverty in an arc of strife from West Africa to Afghanistan, even high-level European officials are beginning to admit the obvious… The region’s refugee management system is broken.»
But what should be even more obvious, which the Washington Post astoundingly avoids examining and European leaders seem in denial of, is this: the «arc of strife from West Africa to Afghanistan» has been created directly by America’s warmongering across the globe. Strife-torn Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Yemen, through to Libya are all part of the dubious legacy of American «war on terrorism» or covert «regime change» operations.
In these pernicious military adventures, the US has been assisted by its European NATO allies and its Persian Gulf Arab client states, primarily Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented this week, the conflict and terrorism raging across these regions are a direct result of illegal US warmongering, both overt and covert. Why are European statesmen so blind to making similar deduction of the glaring truth? Is collective guilt inhibiting them?
For in the US-induced mayhem, the European Union is not blameless, of course. Britain and France in particular have been major players in perpetrating the US-led militarism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. France has singlehandedly contributed to the global «arc of strife» by conducting illegal military operations in Mali, Central African Republic and the Ivory Coast in recent years, where Paris launched those interventions/invasions without having a mandate from the United Nations Security.
All of those conflicts have greatly added to the surge in international refugee numbers that are now making their way to the European mainland. US-led and EU, Arab-assisted warmongering is by no means the sole cause. Among the migrants caught up in the Mediterranean maelstrom are Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, among others, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. This latter group are most readily explained as «economic migrants». But what is unmistakable is that the major share of the refugees are those nationals where America and its allies have been directly responsible for sowing conflict.
In the deadly boat-sinking this past week, for example, in which nearly 800 were drowned off Libya, most of the victims were reportedly from Syria. And Libya itself would not have become a launch-pad for human-traffickers had it not been for the US-NATO blitzkrieg on that country during 2011, which led to the overthrow of the central government in Tripoli and its degeneration into tribal and extremist chaos.
Who can blame the legions of desperate people in their attempt to reach the relative safety of Europe? Facing deadly hazards of extremist militias, unscrupulous human traffickers, scorching deserts and treacherous sea crossings, the desperate refugees keep on coming. It is estimated by Italian authorities that up to one million migrants are awaiting to board rickety vessels in Libya alone in order to make the perilous journey to Europe.
Germany – the EU’s strongest economy – has been a magnet for the refugees who eventually make it to Europe. With a population of 82 million, Germany has given shelter to 173,000 non-Europeans last year, according to the Washington Post report cited above. That compares with the United States’ intake figure for Mexican and other migrants of only 121,000 for the same period, yet the US has four times the total population of Germany. That is, despite a much greater capacity for accommodating refugees, the US is taking in less migrants than Germany, never the whole of the EU.
So while US wars and conflict-sowing are being waged in an arc from Central Asia, the Middle East and to Africa, it is Europe that is absorbing the humanitarian «collateral damage», not the US.
EU leaders this week are holding emergency meetings to find ways of addressing the refugee crisis that is assailing the bloc’s economic resources and logistics for accommodating the newcomers. Priority is being given to security measures to stop-and-search vessels off the North African coast and to turn back those suspected of being involved in people smuggling. Such narrow security measures are unlikely to work in the long term because they do not address the root causes of the problem: conflict and deprivation in the countries from where the migrants originate.
EU leading members, including Britain, France and Germany, have gone along with, indeed fully supported, Washington’s global militarism and conflict-making over the past decade. Just as those same European states have also done with regard to Washington’s meddling in Ukraine and aggression towards Russia. But in all these machinations, it is Europe that is picking up the huge bill for Washington’s baleful policies, as can be seen from the flood of refugees and the repercussion on Europe’s economy from anti-Russian sanctions.
It is high time Europe developed some independent foreign policy backbone and stopped being a colossal sucker for Washington’s warmongering. Repudiating Washington’s belligerence would be a start to addressing a whole swathe of problems afflicting Europe.