I just watched David Cameron on the BBC news (02-09-15) telling us all that we did not need to take in more ‘migrants’; rather that we had to bring peace and stability to the countries the ‘migrants’ were coming from.
All the BBC reporter had to say on this comment was that the UK was donating to humanitarian aid in Syria. There is so much wrong with both Cameron’s words and the objectionable BBC response.
If people are fleeing a war zone they are refugees, not migrants. Who has ever read (or watched) any history of the First or Second World Wars in which the people fleeing from Belgium, the Netherlands and France were referred to as migrants? If Western Europeans fleeing a war zone during the World Wars were refugees, then the people fleeing from war in the Middle East and Asia are also refugees. Refugee status is not predicated on colour or religion, but on why people are leaving their country.
While Cameron and NATO were bombing Libya for ‘democracy’ the Saudi tanks were rolling into Bahrain to crush the pro-democracy protestors. When Cameron was asked if they would bomb Saudi tanks in support of democracy in Bahrain he replied, “No, it is not in our national interest”. This is simply part of a long history of the UK interfering in other countries not for democracy, nor from any sense of moral decency, but to further our national interest. It is a long history, stretching from the British East India Company to the multination profits made in Iraq with the assistance of the ‘Middle East Peace Envoy’ Blair. No UK Prime Minister can talk of bringing peace and stability to countries until he accepts that the rule of international law applies to the UK, the US and Israel every bit as much as it does to any other nation or group of individuals.
Consider these few excerpts from the history of the Middle East:-
• Following WWI Churchill and ‘Bomber Harris’ slaughter Kurdish civil populations using poison gas. Harris notes that he can clear a small town in less than an hour. Churchill observes that he can see nothing wrong with using gas on uncivilized tribes.
• The UK and the US arm the future Taliban. (I know that Afghanistan is not in the Middle East, but clearly the war in Afghanistan has had repercussions in that zone).
• UK, Israel and France go to war with Egypt because it decides that the Suez Canal might actually be Egyptian. This is an example of autarchic growth, one of the reasons the US and UK helped overthrow the government of Indonesia.
• The UK and the US overthrow the parliamentary government of Iran and install the brutal Shah.
• The UK and the US invade Afghanistan. During a very long war they provide weapons and support to brutally vicious and oppressive war lords.
• The US and UK provide the material Saddam needs to build and deliver poison gas to be used in his war against Iran.
• The UK and the US impose sanctions on Iraq which kill around 1,000,000 people including an estimated 500,000 children under the age of 5. Various UN officials resign referring to the sanctions as genocide.
• The UK and the US go to war with Iraq on the grounds that Saddam possess weapons of mass destruction. (This causus belli is not of course a reason for nations to go to war with the UK, US or Israel.)
• The UK and US, defined as occupying powers under international law, fail to protect Iraqi museums and cultural heritage. The US puts military bases in the centre of major archaeological sites and sets ISIS an example of how to inflict major cultural destruction.
• Egyptians overthrow their dictatorship; the US president talks not of a victory for democracy, but of the need for stability.
• The UK and US begin to ramp up pressure for war with Iran, claiming Iran is building nuclear weapons. Incredibly, given the complete lack of evidence for an Iranian nuclear weapons programme and given all that happened in Iraq, the ‘free press’ vigorously support the campaign.
• The UK and the US want to provide more support for Syrian rebels. Later the US and the UK decide that some of these rebels (ISIS in particular) may not be such nice people after all.
• After ‘victory’ in Libya black prisoners are found with their hands tied behind their backs and bullets in their head – no action from NATO. Ethnic cleansing in Misrata – no action by NATO
That is a very brief potted history which highlights my basic point: no UK Prime Minister has the right to talk about bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
Until the UK adopts the Kampala definition of the Crime of Aggression, until the UK follows international law, then all UK military intervention should cease. That will be a significant step towards bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.
Peace and Stability is ‘jam tomorrow’, the refugees need jam today. The refugees are here now, they are fleeing war now. Peace and stability might encourage people to return, it might reduce the future flow of migrants, but it does not help the desperate thousands now. And they are fleeing war, ten years ago this refugee crisis did exists, it exists because of the ongoing conflicts. People do not risk their lives, and the lives of their children, unless they are desperate. Look at the photograph in the link at the end of this article (it is very disturbing), and tell me they are simply fleeing for a better economic life.
They are human beings, they are human beings fleeing from countries we have helped destabilise. And, even if we had not been involved in Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. would it really matter? In the 1930’s we took in Jewish children, but not their parents. Most people look back on these actions with disgust. How will our children view our actions?
Peace and stability will come too late for this little boy.