Sunday, March 6, 2016

Refugees of war are not migrants

Thousands of war refugees in Calais
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The European Union is concerned about the increase in what it refers to, among other things, as asylum seekers as applications for asylum doubled last year to 1.25 million. A third of these are trying to get in to Germany.

Surprisingly enough, the majority of the people applying come from three countries, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan with others coming from other parts of the Middle East and Africa.  There are no applicants from Canada or Australia or the US from what I can gather, although if Trump wins the US presidential race perhaps that could change.  What would cause this I wonder? What do these three countries have in common?

“This is a very huge number of arrivals and it will be difficult if not impossible to separate those who are really economic migrants. But unless the EU succeeds in doing this, the numbers will simply snowball”, a politician here who goes by the name of “Lord Green” told the Times. His Lordship is apparently from Deddington, a rather pretty village I drove through yesterday. I grew up not far from there for a while and went to school just down the road in Banbury where I am writing now.

Of these three dominant countries, 362, 800 are Syrians, 178,000 are Afghanis which is double the amount from last year and 125,500 are Iraqi’s a seven fold increase from last year.

The British government, not wanting to pollute the communities of the middle and upper classes with foreigners, especially Arabs, and poor ones at that, ensures that most of the applicants are sent to “….poorer urban areas in Scotland, Wales, and Northern England.” a practice that has been criticized by a recent government report.   Anyone that knows anything about Britain is aware that London and the surrounding area is almost like a separate country in terms of standard of living and opportunities.  Parts of northern England, in particular the northwest, are extremely depressed areas.  I was listening to a report on BBC radio 4 yesterday that was about the music from that area, folk and cultural music of the Geordies.  One guy said that Sunderland is a dead city with very little chance of any development at all if things do not change.  But the present Tory (Conservative Party) government is slashing public services much like the parties of the 1% are doing in the US.

One can only imagine the crises that inevitably arise as thousands of victims of imperialist foreign polices, particularly the US with its sycophantic British toadies in tow, destroy not only entire communities in the rapacious struggle for profits and influence on the world stage, but entire nation states.  Thousands descend on an already impoverished native population who do not speak the same language, have vastly different customs, religions and who are basically victims of mass shell shock.

And let’s keep in mind that these people are arriving at a time when the capitalist class in Britain is savaging their own working class. There is no possibility of a real solution for the thousands of Syrians, Iraqi’s, Afganis or others from Africa and the Middle East from this quarter.
His lordships Alma Mater

Meanwhile, his battleship the venerable lord Green, whose real name is Andrew Green, sits in the unelected House of Lords as a member of the Tory Party.  Green went to Haileybury school a $50,000 a year facility that was founded by the East India Company. This outfit was very much involved in commerce including the spice and opium trades. It was chartered by the British feudal state during the time of Queen Elizabeth the 1st and was an arm of the rising British mercantile capitalist class eager to plunder the far east, particularly India and China where British mercantile interests were in competition with the Dutch. It even had its own armies very similar to how US and British corporations use the armed forces of despotic regimes to protect their economic interests abroad. The Grasberg mine in Indonesia comes to mind here. The East India Company virtually ruled India for a period.

Anyway, his lordship went to on to Cambridge and like so many of them do, from there to government work, not caring for our parks or helping the sick in the NHS but advancing the interests of British capitalism abroad. He founded a group called Migration Watch in the UK (Wouldn’t the Indian people have loved such an organization 200 years ago) and also belongs to a couple of other organizations that can offer a veneer of respectability and a compassionate face to his imperialistic ventures.

These people and their strategy with regard to the movements of people are very calculated and crafty, even with the language they use in their media like the Times, the Wall Street Journal or even the more liberal papers of the 1% like the NYT.  The people they are talking about are not migrants. They are not simply asylum seekers or economic migrants even. They are refugees of war.

What they have in common in order to answer the question I asked above, what these war refugees have in common is that they are all victims of US and western foreign policy. They are fleeing US bombs and in Syria, British, Russian and French warplanes. The US increasing its bombing of Libya will force more Libyans north and it’s support of the Saudi war against Yemen  will do the same there.

US foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq is a humanitarian disaster and undoubtedly war crimes. Iraq is no longer a nation state as it once was. Syria is on the verge of disintegration and Afghanistan is no further ahead than it was 15 years ago. Up until 1999 remember, every Taliban official was on the payroll of the US government.

Sending the refugees of these imperialist wars (the term “war torn” is used in the 1%’s media but that is not as correct term) to poor areas in England, Scotland and Wales has a purpose.  They will be dumped among a native population already savaged by policies Lord Green supports with no real attempt to integrate them, they will be left to their own devices in the main. competition for dwindling resources will increase tension between the various groups as Lord Green’s media whip’s up xenophobia and portrays the immigrants as criminals and welfare abusers soaking up resources from English people much like papers in the US do with regards to economic refugees from Latin America.

Today’s Sunday Times reports of payouts to criminals who are found innocent and how a twenty million pound payout to a British Guantanamo Bay inmate is draining resources. The Guantanamo victim is now linked to Jihadi John.  Included is a centerpiece “Britain Decides” with the heading “We Fence off Europe and they Still Come”. This is the author’s argument for leaving the EU.

The propaganda is fierce. Nowhere in the 1% media is the savage destruction, the genocidal assault on these people in their own lands raised. Never is the US military machine blamed or attacked in any way or Britain’s recent decision to bomb Syria. Never is centuries of imperialist aggression suggested. Given the conditions and without an organized resistance to the propaganda of the 1%, it is only natural that xenophobia, racism and religious discrimination gets and echo and right wing nationalist and fascist elements fill the void.

The unions and the Labor Party in Britain should play that role and although this writer’s knowledge of the situation is limited, it is my understanding that the Labor Party where it has control in local areas actually carries out the Tory austerity agenda rather than organize and mobilize resistance to it.

There is a global crisis of unprecedented proportions. It is not just the increased tensions between nation states and a struggle for global influence between major powers like the US, China and Russia, but also in terms of the environmental catastrophe that is looming if capitalism is not overthrown.  I am confident that the working class globally will try to resolve the crisis that is facing us but it will not be a smooth ride and it is not guaranteed that it won’t arrive too late.  We must reject the divisive propaganda of the ruling class, the likes of Lord Green, Trump, and their various parties and media. 

The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote in the 1930’s that the crisis of the working class was a crisis of leadership. He saw the coming war and declared that we were facing socialism or barbarism. Well, barbarism is here, Trotsky never saw nuclear weapons and we are now facing socialism or the end of the world as we know it or socialism or annihilation.

We have an obligation to ourselves but more importantly to our children and grandchildren to act rather than passively accept or seek an escape from the tidal wave of violence that millions of people in the former colonial countries are facing at the moment.

It is the task of the working class to change society.  It is not over yet, but time is not on our side.

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