Home is where the heart is for most of the world’s population. People do not readily leave home, family, jobs, friends and their familiar life to tramp across borders and take their lives in hock in perilous crossings.
Our public reflection on this issue is so shallow. We freeze on refugees drowning in hundreds or dying huddled in lorries, or bewail more immigrants coming to the UK, but do not ask why this great exodus has happened.
When we do ask, the answer has to be: This is our work through pursuing a policy of the international promotion and sale of arms, further militarising the areas which have now become ungovernable and riven with strife and danger. Most of these refugees are travelling with guns and bombs behind them.
Let us consider some of the Western background contribution to this process in the Middle East.
First, from 1979 onwards the United States through the CIA spent several billion dollars training and equipping terrorists in Afghanistan to fight the USSR. Groups, including Al Qaida, learned terrorism and carried on practising it.
Second, the United States armed first the Shah of Iran, and then through the Iran-Contra deal Reagan provided more weapons to the Ayatollah. Then Reagan and Rumsfeld backed Saddam against Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War and the West plied Saddam with arms for oil money. When, surprisingly, Saddam used his arms and invaded Kuwait (partly to pay for French weapons) the whole region was subjected to a major war, and Iraq faced disruption, sanctions and famine.
Then, following 9/11, Afghanistan was subjected to another military attack spreading further chaos in that country, further pushing the Islamic opposition into professional terrorism. Further, in 2003, when there were no weapons of mass destruction, and under pressure from the military-industrial complex in the United States, the Second Iraq War pushed the nation into breakdown. Militias looting western supplied arms caches then became another wave of terrorists involved in Shia-Sunni conflicts in Iraq.
Then finally massive supplies of arms to the Iraq Army from the United States were taken by ISIS and became the basis of their marauding expansion through Iraq and Syria. Russia also contributed by supplying Syria with the weapons, which allowed the Syrian Government to victimize its own people. Thus the chaos in the Middle East has been primed at all stages with mainly western arms.
The same pattern was evident in North Africa. The arming of the Egyptian military dictatorship has come from the West. Indeed, Cameron was in Egypt selling arms when the Arab Spring broke out. Even worse, Tony Blair, together with Berlusconi, set up a deal with Gaddafi, for the supply of conventional weapons to Libya, arming him with the kit he used against his own people. These arms were later looted, together with arms supplied to the rebels during the uprising, and the result again was Islamic terrorists marauding through North Africa and across the Sahara.
UK’s mean response
Now we face refugees fleeing from the destruction and fear caused by weapon-touting terrorists. The refugees from Syria alone total over four million mainly going to Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Palestine.
Those coming to Europe as asylum seekers are a minority of these and the focus of the present tragedy. Unlike the generous German response, the UK one is mean, tightening the conditions on obvious asylum seekers from Eritrea and elsewhere, closing our eyes to the tragedy millions face in having to leave their homes.
We are the problem
But even more we stay callous and impervious to the way in which our Western arms sales have militarised the Middle East and the Mediterranean, gradually creating terrorism, war and destruction. We are the problem, and yet the Cameron arms sales team carries on selling the means of suffering and death. Unless we stop, it will return to us. As Jesus (more or less) said, “Those who make the sword will die by the sword.”
Alan Storkey’s new book War or Peace? The Long Failure of Western Arms (£10) is just out.
9 thoughts on “We are the problem: Western militarism created this ‘refugee crisis’ – by Alan Storkey”
Totally – and what has happened, in our language, to the words “asylum seeker” and “refugee”? Why are all these people just “migrants”?
Well said! Iraqi tanks? Russian and Chinese, Syrian tanks? Russian. Iranian tanks…American! From the Shah before the Revolution. The Middle East at present is a civil war between Sunni and Shia….I doubt very much if the weapons have much of a causal bearing. In fact the Syrian opposition were so oppressed they rose up in protest against the security forces before anyone had a chance to arm them….
Your failure to mention the roles of places like the Yeman, Qatar and Saudi Arabria which all in some way support I.S. Al Qaida so one could say “we alone are not the problem” This makes me question “what are you actually saying in this blog” Are you just wanting us to know you have some understanding of Western Militarism and have written a book on the subject. Or are you asking us to seek answers to the problems of the migrants today. Surly the focus of any blog ect would be to look a ways in helping our fellow brothers, sister and children regardless of religion, Now. The way I see it is, if all religions unite and come together in the churches and mosques ect get food clothes blankets and take them to theses people and talk to them. Between us all we must be able to feel a lorry or two. If we can spend time writing about what we think we know then can’t we show action and do something we know will make a change.
Chris, I think this blog was written because Westerners, particularly the British and the Americans, have the impression that we are saints and that the world should be run for our benefit. I don’t think the writer wanted to stop us helping! You are right, we must do something: if nothing else, most of us can afford to send some money to the organisations that are helping. Let’s go!
Thank you Kathy for your reply. It’s always good to have a reply from a comment one makes, at least then you know it’s been read. I think you are right people in the west do have this way of thinking that we are all so righteous and saintly. I don’t feel we will ever stop people thinking this way because for most people it is always good to be on the right side. It kinda makes us feel comfortable with our self’s. My point was to say that we alone in the west are not responsible for the arming of dictators or terrorist groups. Many other countries in the East as I said must be held accountable for there part in aiding such groups. A point which the writer of this blog failed to say.As for giving money to organisations. This is great if the money sent gets to the people. I have been in France and I saw very little of money being spent on basic needs for people. There is more than just money needed voices need to be heard to assure our brothers sisters and children of mother earth are being seen, listen to and assured we care. These things money can not buy.When Jesus fed the 10,000 did he just give out food? You know the story, It was his words which gave the people strength and a sense of being as one. It is words which will be heard to make governments stand up on their feet and come together with a plan. A right plan I pray.
Sorry if I have gone on and on about this but I am very passionate like many others about this. I am going to a meeting with my MP on Friday 11th to talk to him about this Maybe we could all do that. Make a noise make them listen. I hope more people have views on his subject and write on here and then maybe we can come up with a plan to get aid to these people. Once again Thank you for your reply Kathy
Today I see a child being carried from the sea, DEAD. He is quiet now,. We will never hear his cries for help. I don’t know what to do, I am just one person. Will you help and get your churches and friends involved so we can all do something practical NOW TODAY
The problems in the middle east are 100% western created, but not by the people, but by puppet politicians of the international bankers, arms dealers and corporations.
We can always take everything down to a micro level. In this case, your neighbours, in your street are piling into your house because the man at number 23 is terrorizing them. Do you:
a. Do nothing and accept the whole street into your house?
b. Complain and refuse and be shunned by the neighbouring streets, who have the same situation and are accommodating them?
c. Go around to 23 and ‘sort him out’, thus allowing your neighbours to go home?
What the newspapers won’t tell you is this is nothing but the deliberate genocide of Europeans, as well as complete control, by business to keep wages low. It will also create civil tension as more indigenous become unemployed and start seeing minority status approaching incredibly fast, thus enabling government to create more anti terror and liberty destroying legislation in order to further control society in our CCTV surveillance society.
The blueprint of world domination under a new world order, one government and banking system is being implemented brilliantly. It won’t be stopped, even when the people do wake up because the one world state, of a homogenized world people and cultural destruction will already have happened and nationality will be nothing more than a word in a dictionary. So the obvious step will be a world government because with no nations there’d be no need for individual ones.
Not a great picture to go along with this piece. That boat load of people look very much like African migrants, not asylum seekers from the Middle East. Are we also responsible for the brutality in Eritrea and Sudan too?
You say that Afghanistan was “subjected to another military attack, spreading chaos…” Let’s not forget the sort of misery that was already being spread under Taliban rule. Or those being poisoned by the dictator Saddam.
I’m actually largely in agreement with you on Western militarism and botched interventions, but I dislike how this piece points the finger as if any of those decisions were easy. Was there corruption or economic interest involved? Possibly. Probably. Difficult to say to what degree. But equally, in each instance there have been persecuted groups begging for intervention. Famously, I remember one interview with a Kurdish woman who was essentially begging for her city simply to be razed to the ground in order to stop the brutality around her. None of this is even acknowledged in the article.
Certain people seem to applaud the giving of independence to countries, but then also seem to expect us to step in when things go wrong (“how long must we look on”, “something must be done”), but then also blame us for the inevitable chaos that this produces and say “it’s all our fault”. As if global diplomacy was easy.
So now you are thinking, ” but I do not have a good enough memory to memorize all of these terms”.
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