Saturday, August 22, 2015

Southern Europe swamped with victims of US Imperialism's wars.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Images source : NYT

A state of Emergency was declared in Macedonia Thursday as some 40,000 migrants amassed on the Greek, Macedonian border heading for Northern Europe. Yesterday, Friday Aug 21st, Macedonian police used stun guns and tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 3000 trying to cross from Greece.  This group, “…tired and frightened men, women and children…”, according to the New York Times, were mostly Syrians, Afghanis and others “fleeing war zones” in Syria and Afghanistan. The migrants have been penned within barbed wire enclosures surrounded by armed soldiers and cops.

This border crossing with Greece, at the Macedonian town of Gevgelija is where I crossed twice in 1968 and 1971. In 1971 I was on my way to Kuwait overland.  I eventually took a train from Istanbul to Baghdad, down through Turkey, Syria and after spending some time in Baghdad took the bus to Basra. Having no money, I was not welcome in Kuwait so had to head back north.

At that time Macedonia was the southernmost province of Yugoslavia. I enjoyed Yugoslavia and had a friend in Macedonia who I met in London in 1968. I visited him and his family again after the collapse of Yugoslavia and it’s break up.  When I arrived in the late 1990’s there was a huge demonstration in Skopje with people wearing big buttons with “Thank You Mr. President” boldly displayed.

I couldn’t quite figure that out as George W Bush was the president and surely they wouldn’t be thanking him. Most European’s couldn’t understand how such an imbecile could get elected. I learned that the favorable view of Bush was due to the US finally recognizing Macedonia as an independent republic. Meanwhile, across the border in Greece there were demonstrations against the US’s decision as the Greeks also claim the name “Macedonian” as the area of Macedonia in antiquity covers more than one of the 21st centuries nation states. Also, Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo/Serbia had driven thousands of Albanian Muslims in to Macedonia creating social problems and tensions between Christians and Muslims.

As if its short history as a nation state hasn’t been volatile enough, Macedonia  (and Greece) both very poor small countries are also facing an upsurge in migrants trying to escape war torn areas who now find themselves assaulted by security forces of states like Macedonia as well as hostile attacks from racists like the fascist Golden Dawn in Greece and other anti-immigrant forces.

There’s no doubt that the mass migration of people in this way is extremely disruptive especially to small countries like Macedonia and Greece.  But this situation is a direct result of US foreign policy in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and throughout western Asia. This is not U.S. bashing. The illegal and murderous assault on the Iraqi people by US capitalism and the so-called coalition it bribed, cajoled and dragged along with it has left a human and environmental catastrophe in its wake. Iraq as a nation state is practically non-existent. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the U.S assault many of them ending up in Syria, itself a small nation.

The crisis in Syria is also related to US imperialism’s assault on Iraq. By some accounts 600,000 war refugees ended up there.  The Afghan crisis is also a foreign import. The US armed and funded reactionary feudal war lords and Muslim fundamentalist groups including Osama bin Laden in order to combat Soviet influence there.

The migrants at the Greek Macedonian border are heading north for the same reasons the migrants from Central and South America head north to the US. Like them the migrants from the Middle East risk murder, rape, and starvation in an attempt to flee conditions not of their own making. They are all economic refuges, victims of capitalism and imperialist policies.

There is perhaps no other populace as distrustful and disgusted of its government as those of us in the US. The difference is that for the most part we can eat and have a roof of sorts over our heads. Sections of the population live in conditions that are more like war zones and are undoubtedly equal to poorer countries when it comes to important statistics like literacy, infant mortality rate, life expectancy and general health. We also incarcerate more people than any country in the world, a huge proportion of them people of color.

The national elections have numerous candidates running for office but all we get is the world view of the candidates of the two Wall Street Parties. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in the last elections was arrested trying to force her way ion to the presidential debates.

The power and influence of the tightly controlled and censored US mass media saturates society with inane stories about the sex lives of celebrities, sports trivia and other diversions; religion is also a valuable propaganda tool. Consequently the vast majority of Americans would not be even slightly aware of the events in a tiny country like Macedonia. In fact, it is most likely millions of Americans wouldn’t have a clue where Macedonia is.  Coupled with a feeling of powerlessness, that there is nothing they can do, most people immerse themselves in these diversions. 

The Union officialdom are a disgrace in their silence on major social issues. There is presently a strike at a major US steel plant and as usual, the union hierarchy’s demands center on how they can help the bosses remain profitable. For the union hierarchy, they see the unions as employment agencies with themselves as the CEO’s.

Despite this, responsibility, and lack of it, must be borne to a great degree by the mass of Americans taking the easy way out, of avoiding the reality that we cannot continue this way if we want a future for ourselves and our children. The environmental catastrophe alone is enough to force us to act in some way. There are movements springing up all over the country but very much isolated and independent of each other. The recent and ongoing protests against police murders and racism, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement have forced the state to actually indict a number of cops for murder. This is almost unheard of in this country.

The US is an explosion waiting to happen.

The media ensures that we are always afraid of some external threat.  The enemy now is terrorism.  After 911 we were told that people (foreigners) hate us because of our freedoms. What nonsense.  The thousands of displaced people in the Middle East, the thousand of relatives of the million or so the US has killed over the past period, the people on the Macedonian border, know why they are there and what force is responsible and that is the US government.   Along with the wars is the financing and arming of the Apartheid Zionist regime.  And now ISIS, this mad creation, like Pol Pot, is also the creation of US foreign policy. Imagine, the US has been bombing this region for the last 20 years. Picture growing up in the midst of that.

If we want to continue turning a blind eye to the actions of our government in the world then we must accept that it makes us unpopular and we must accept that US workers have to pay for it. The people amassed on the Macedonian border don’t hate Americans. They never get a chance to meet us. They are victims of a foreign policy I certainly never voted for, it’s a foreign policy developed by the Cheney’s Obama’s, Rumsfelds and Bush’s of this world.

Look at the faces of these kids in the images included.  Policies mapped out the Pentagon, Jackson Hole Wyoming and other gathering places of the 1% are responsible for their plight and believe me they know it.

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