Refugees


You all should forgive my many posts today. I know it’s hard to keep up and some of you may not even see some of them. I will understand.

If you read the international press, you certainly have read of the refugee crisis facing Europe with refugees coming from war torn Syria where Europe is bombing to make Europe safe, and Russia and Turkey, you know anyone with an airforce and an idle army within km of Syria is doing that. I think the US could be offering support in form of tactical missile technology and I don’t know what else.

Now that we have the background story, the question is, is it a crisis because for once, in a long time, Europe is faced with so many refugees it doesn’t know what to do? Or is it something deeper that I am unable to fathom?

Let’s have a little perspective. Kenya has refugees from Somali, South Sudan, DRC,  I don’t know where else. Even Somali has refugee camps for the internally displaced and those fleeing conflicts from South Sudan.

In my estimation, Europe and America sell between them, around 90% of all the weapons used in these conflicts. That is, to put it plainly, they are the major players in the conflict providing the necessary fuel or should I call it consumables for conflict. Why in the name of all that is holy, and I mean a well aged Scotch whisky, would they want to run away from the problem they have contributed heavily, in terms of profits, to create?

I will very quickly, with justice, I think, excuse the average Jane or John from this profiteering.  But is it not time the profiteers said enough with these wars. We will from now own distribute books and flowers, and maybe condoms instead of bombs, guns and more guns?

I could be wrong in my analysis but I think there is a case to be made?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

86 thoughts on “Refugees

  1. john zande says:

    Tax bullets, make them $1,000 each.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. violetwisp says:

    Yes, condoms and ipads. Although they might not be as profitable as weapons … Anyway, you missed the bit where refugees are terrorists in disguise and they’re going to change our cherished way of life!!!

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    • makagutu says:

      I forgot to add to make 4G internet available everywhere cheaply so they can stream online movies on end.
      I should have mentioned that. My problem has been statistics that I keep seeing. Take for example the Cologne attacks on New Year’s eve. I saw that only 3 of the 58 already arrested were migrants, if I read correctly. You can excuse my not including it on that basis 😂

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      • fojap says:

        You probably read correctly, but it was not reported correctly.

        Sur les 58 suspects, seuls trois d’entre eux sont originaires d’un pays en guerre: deux Syriens et un Irakien. Les 55 autres sont pour la plupart Algériens et Marocains et ne seraient pas arrivés récemment en Allemagne. Trois Allemands figurent aussi parmi les personnes arrêtées. Ces chiffres ont été fournis par le procureur de Cologne dans une interview à Die Welt, l’un des plus gros quotidiens du pays. Source: RTBF.

        Three were “refugees,” ie. from Syria or Iraq. There were “German.” Most of the others (Les 55 autres sont pour la plupart = The 55 others are for the most part) are “Algerian and Moroccan.”

        Lots of fudging going on on all sides about this. It seems to me that the big problem isn’t the refugees themselves, but the people who have taken advantage of the chaos created by the refugee situation.

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  3. tildeb says:

    You assume the weapons are the root problem, that without Western weapons the conflict and the refugees fleeing it would magically resolve. This assumption is wrong but I won;t go into that here.

    Most Western countries are bringing in a lot of refugees. The ‘a lot’ is from this perspective. That’s the perspective that matters if this the location is the one being sought.

    The trick here is to figure out how refugees can be brought in and assimilated so that it is not accompanied by social dysfunction. Mass migrations don’t allow the time necessary for this controlled flow so the typical response from militarily developed countries is going to be to close and bar the door from the refugee mob and enforce how many and under what rules and regulations will be allowed in at a time. That is not unreasonable. What is unreasonable is the building of large camps that concentrate the refugees near border areas that provide insufficient basic services and are badly underfunded by a few countries that by geographical accident must then bear the brunt of these costs. This is where all countries and not just Western ones should share the costs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      No no, I wouldn’t make the assumption that western weapons are the problem. If you read that in my post, I must have communicated poorly.
      Take the case of Burundi. There are refugees because for reasons best known to the incumbent, he shouldn’t quit. That is if my information is correct. But that would be going too far. The election we had here where there was violence after that led to displacement of thousands of people. Some are still in camps! So no, Western weapons are not a problem all the time.
      I was, however specific in the case of Syria where western nations are bombarding it with bombs in the name of making Europe safe. This has led to a great influx of refugees from there into Europe.
      Of course, the camps are horrible places. I don’t think anyone wants to live in any one of them.
      A long term solution should be found to the conflicts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Ah, you are such a skeptic, maka.

        We are bombing Syria because Assad is a BAD MAN*. And we need to bring the joys of FREEDOM to Syria (like the secular paradise Europe and the Peace Prize President created in LIBYA!.

        Not Islamist freedom, of course, so the bombing is intended to help only MODERATE, peace-loving rebels. Except for the bombing being committed by that evil, evil man, Putin. Jeez. It’s complicated.

        * Of course Assad is a bad man. All dictators are inevitably. But then, almost any government facing a rebellion will call out the troops and start shooting people. Even the Y’All Qaeda situation in Oregon resulted in a shooting and guns.

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        • makagutu says:

          Forgive me my friend.
          I forget that in this world to spread love, the Crusaders killed as many as they possibly could.
          The French to spread freedom, justice and order killed so many men and women in Africa, Russia, Italy, Spain etc.
          Every time we have a new idea we want to share, bomb them.
          Oh yes, all dictators inevitably are bad. The question is how does one person manage to subdue a whole nation? And why do others help him/ her?

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    • Scottie says:

      I wonder why our country ( the USA ) puts pressure on and insists that other countries take in refugees, yet we refuse to do so in any amount to make a difference. We demand they take millions while we only accept a few thousand? When did you become so sure we are so much better than everyone else? When did we become so afraid of other people? When did we become so sure we get to tell others what to do? It totally confuses me. Thanks and hugs

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  4. archaeopteryx1 says:

    As an American, I agree completely – not all Americans agree with what other Americans do. When is your munitions company’s stock price high enough? How many human lives have been given or every point of that stock price’s increase?

    Sadly, we have the best government that money can buy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      When is your munitions company’s stock price high enough? When they are so expensive a share is divided into two for it trade in the open stock market and even then only a few people can afford it

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    • tildeb says:

      Ummm… lest we forget, a lot of those munitions are also Chinese and Russian.

      Like

      • fojap says:

        And French. I believe (I’m too lazy too look up the source, but please go ahead and double-check. I like basing my ideas on correct facts.) the French have armaments as the largest part of their economy when considered on a per capita basis.

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        • All weaponry bought from the French comes with a free box of delicious pastries and 6 huge wedges of French toast. It’s why I always purchase my weapons from them.

          Liked by 1 person

        • tildeb says:

          Yes, and even Canada. Armaments come from all over so the idea that it’s the West who should be more responsible for refugees because they have supplied the munitions is a fallacious argument. We should accept more refugees because we can (and we will) but also do a better job of funding refugee camps… also because we can.

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          • makagutu says:

            China has joined the club, I think Ukraine sells some and so on.
            If I implied anywhere that

            the West who should be more responsible for refugees because they have supplied the munitions

            I stand corrected, but I don’t think I have done so. In the specific case of Syria, I have said the major players are Europe and Saudi Arabia to an extent under whatever pretexts and I think they all should be held responsible

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          • tildeb says:

            I didn’t pull this out of thin air, Mak. You said,

            In my estimation, Europe and America sell between them, around 90% of all the weapons used in these conflicts. That is, to put it plainly, they are the major players in the conflict providing the necessary fuel or should I call it consumables for conflict. Why in the name of all that is holy, and I mean a well aged Scotch whisky, would they want to run away from the problem they have contributed heavily, in terms of profits, to create?

            You are suggesting they want to ‘run away’ from the problem of refugees that they mostly created by providing armaments and ammunition and profited by this. I pointed out that there are lots of contributors – and not just the sellers of armaments so to suggest that it is the West that created the conflict and so should accept responsibility for the refugees is a fallacious argument. All I am saying is that there are much better reasons for helping than to do so out of some (i think) misplaced sense of guilt.

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          • makagutu says:

            And I agree there should be a good reason for helping, other than a perceived sense of guilt.

            Liked by 1 person

          • basenjibrian says:

            And….we cannot forget the Syrians have their own agency. The Baath Party (Assad’s structure for governing) is a Syrian creation. The Islamic obscurantism raping and pillaging is Arab, not Western.

            Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        that we can’t forget.
        Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen if I am not wrong and I think they also do make some of the hardware

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  5. Me love guns. Me American. Me have guns. Me careful with guns. Me..BANG!!!! Me shoot kid! Accident! Kid should have known better. Get in way. Stoopid kid! Me sell guns to you! You kill too! Me American! Me LOVE guns! Me kill those who do not! Me smart. Me bright. Me rich. Me love Jesus! Me American! Bang! You love me too or me kill you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. shelldigger says:

    This, as with the terrorist problem the world faces today, has no easy answers I can see. War has always created such issues I believe. Knowing that helps no one I know… If I had a solution I’d offer one.

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  7. The crisis in Syria has peaceful people everywhere on high alert because it could easily escalate into a global problem. Its causes are myriad and complex and, for that reason, there are no simple solutions. Yes, American weapons manufacturers are profiting mightily. Yes, U.S. interventionism is driven by pro-capitalist, pro-Israeli interests which have aligned themselves with the Sunni Muslim states in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.) who are at war with Iran and the other Shiite Muslim governments in Syria and Iraq. Yes, Russia has taken sides by supporting the Shiites partly to protect its economic interests and partly to fulfill the Cold War desires of its leader Vladimir Putin.

    But, underneath all that intrigue lays a more fundamental problem. The Middle East has been rocked in recent years by a series of destabilizing events. The failure of the Arab Spring uprisings left political power vacuums all across the region. Climate change-induced droughts have devastated countries like Syria. Weak global economic conditions, resulting from the 2008 financial crash, have ended the oil boom that provided the greatest source of revenue in the Middle East.

    As a result of all this turmoil, the centuries-old sectarian divide within Islam has erupted into violent conflict and is threatening to consume the entire world.

    Liked by 6 people

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Excellent analysis, Robert.

      Liked by 1 person

    • fojap says:

      Was the Middle East every stable?

      There was an interesting article in the Atlantic a few months ago about how Russia has the misfortune to have very indefensible borders and that is one of the reasons is has historically always been somewhat expansionist. The same article mentioned that part of Russia’s interest in Crimea was the fact that without it they don’t have a warm water port that isn’t frozen for some portion of the year. Interesting point I might have missed.

      The Soviet Union used to border on Iran and Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkey, has clearly abandoned it’s twentieth century attempt to turn itself into a modern, secular republic. Both Iran and Turkey appear to have aspirations beyond their own borders. I don’t like Putin at all. However, I can see why he is jumpy and thinks the conflict concerns Russia. Don’t forget that Russia has been dealing with Islamic terrorism longer than we have. At first, it seemed to be more nationalist in nature, but they have since made connections with international Islamists.

      I don’t disagree with anything you said, by the way. I’m just adding that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your assessment of Russia makes sense, and it closely matches my understanding as well.

        Was the Middle East ever stable? Relatively speaking, yes it has. When Europe was mired in its Dark Ages, the Middle East was flourishing. The region has given rise to many advanced civilizations such as ancient Sumeria and Egypt. A strong case could be made that the current destabilization in the Middle East, which traces back to the 19th century, began with western imperialism.

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        • makagutu says:

          Was the middle East unstable when Europe was busy butchering themselves? I don’t know. I may have t check.

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          • Has any populated region on Earth ever been truly stable? It’s a relative question. Under the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was surely more stable than it is now. The living conditions of its various peoples are another matter.

            The discovery of oil in the Middle East, the advent of western imperialism there, the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, and the establishment of Israel, all led to the current era of instability. See: https://newrepublic.com/article/119181/western-powers-middle-east-are-stuck-tragic-cycle

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Don’t you think it has pretty much always been in a state of flux?

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          • From a historical perspective, I don’t think the Middle East has been more in flux than any other region considering its convergent location at the hub of the world’s human population. Our memories are short. What’s happened there over the last century or two is not reflective of the previous five or six millennia. Much has changed.

            The Americas, for example, were a wild, wild west of lawlessness, war, and revolution from the 15th century into the 20th. Even today, Central America is highly unstable. Why doesn’t it get the same attention as the Middle East? Little commercial value (i.e. oil), perhaps?

            Look at the history of Europe. Until its imposed post-WWII stability, Europe’s diverse ethnic groups and cultures have been waging war on each other and everyone else at a prodigious rate.

            Everywhere else we look, the story is much the same. Social instability is the norm, not the exception. That’s why it’s a relative issue. The Middle East today is unquestionably the most unstable region; but historically, no more so than the others.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Maybe the best we can do is to find ways of dealing with the humanitarian crisis that result from these mass movements

            Liked by 1 person

          • Carpet bomb ’em. You can’t get more humanitarian than that.

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          • makagutu says:

            when you think about it, carpet bombing is really humanitarian, it eliminates the case for refugees

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          • makagutu says:

            That was an interesting read.
            This

            Even in those instances where they periodically supported “progressive” nationalist forces, as in Syria and Egypt, they ended up fuelling the tendency towards military authoritarianism by encouraging the hurried formation of Bonapartist states. Such attempts to cajole and create also facilitated the rise of bastardised political philosophies such as Ba’athism. There was, in all of this, a residue of the “orientalism” that they claimed to reject. As Nasser once told Copeland: “The genius of you Americans is that you never made clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves.”

            and

            The dilemma thrown up by the collapse of the Ottoman empire is the same as it ever was. Second-guessing the future and anointing the would-be leaders of the “next phase” of Middle Eastern history has proved to be beyond the gift of western policymakers for a hundred years. Yet shutting the door on the region, and hoping they just get on with it, is no sort of solution at all.

            point to the problem we have. Not the causes, but just part of the bigger issue at play

            Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Nothing to add.
      No easy causes and no easy solutions.
      And I think bombardment isn’t a solution, even by a long short unless the aim is to kill all the Syrians and that way end the Syrian problem

      Liked by 1 person

  8. nannus says:

    The problem is not that there are two many refugees coming to Europe. I am in Germany and it is a rich country. You rightly point out that a country like Kenya has lots of refugees and Kenya is not as rich.
    The problem here is not the refugees. We don’t have a refugee problem, this country and Europe as a whole can afford having these people here and quite some more. We are having a racism problem and a problem with egoists who are rich by world standards and don’t want to share. And there are politicians who are trying to get an advantage out of this by using right-wing resentments of people to gain power.

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  9. fojap says:

    There are a few different things going on.

    For starters, you’re absolutely right that the conflict is the source of the refugee problem and there is no solution without a solution to the conflict.

    Definitely there are arms profiteers, and those people have in the past been shown to stir up conflicts for profits. I read some interesting stuff about that as regards the IRA, Irish Republican Army, so it is hardly limited to conflicts in “non-Western” countries. The profiteers have no allegiance and don’t care who dies in the conflict.

    One of the reasons I don’t have a strong position about what the U.S. should do in the Syrian conflict is because I don’t know that there are any good options. It sounds trite to say that there has always been conflict in the Middle East, but when you go backwards in time to trace the origins of the conflict, and I’ve tried, I just keep going back and back and the next thing I know, I’m reading about ancient Persia!

    The U.S. has made such mistakes in the region, I’m not sure we can do any good there militarily at the moment. Since we had a hand in destabilizing the region when we went into Iraq, I don’t think it’s a morally tenable stance to say we’ll do absolutely nothing, but I actually don’t think we should take a leading role unless we can see a clear way to a durable peace. There are so many players involved right now, any government that thinks the situation can be manipulated towards it’s own ends is deluding itself.

    (I should probably confess here that my own attitude towards foreign policy could best be described as “passive-aggressive.” I have no illusions about how nasty the world can be, but I generally advocate for a defensive posture.)

    I’m not going to go on more about the Middle Eastern conflict. There’s huge amounts more to be said, but I’m certainly not going to cover it in a comment.

    So, yes, the ultimate solution to the refugee crisis is to end the conflict, but I don’t see that happening soon.

    It’s hard, from this side of the Atlantic, to get a clear idea of what is happening with the “refugee crisis” in Europe. I strongly suspect that a person in one European town might not know what is going on in another. That is certainly the case in the U.S. You are entirely correct to note that Kenya has had far more extensive experience dealing with refugees. Perhaps European countries should ask Kenya for advice.

    I, myself, have not been fond of the way the “crisis” has been handled. No one seems to be looking at it in a logical, dispassionate manner. You can feel bad for people all you want, and that can motivate your actions, but when you act you have to be a clear-eyed as possible.

    First of all, there seem to be several groups of people who are coming under the title of “refugees” or “migrants.” I don’t like the term “migrant” because it’s too vague. Farm laborers who follow the seasons in the U.S. are considered “migrants.” Migrants are just anyone who moves about, and is not a meaningful term.

    So, we have 1. refugees coming from war torn areas, 2. asylum seekers coming from places with political persecution, 3. economically motivated illegal immigrants, 4. economically motivated legal immigrants, 5. others who don’t fit into a category. Each one of these groups has different characteristics and different needs and discussing them like one big group does a disservice to all.

    Let’s start with the refugees coming from war torn areas. As it happens, I have taught English as a second language to teenagers coming from Bosnia, Haiti and El Salvador. Normally, refugees don’t get permission to work in the host countries because they are seen as being “temporary.” In that case, you basically want to keep people safe and sound until they can go home. That still means food, shelter, medical care, other social services, education of the children and, importantly, psychiatric care. The teenage boy from El Salvador had witnessed his entire village murdered. He was a sweet kid, generally, well-liked by the American kids overall, but not without residual emotional problems. Some years later, I would meet an adult man from the former Yugoslavia had a former friend try to kill him because he was from a different ethnic group. It does a disservice to the victims to pretend that all they need is a hug and a hot meal. In these cases, however, you’re really not that interested in integration, learning a new language, job training and so on. Actually, the El Salvadoran kid was here permanently, which is why he was in the class, which leads to a second point….

    Unfortunately, sometimes if the conflict continues, “temporary” can mean literally years and an entire generation, even multiple generations, can grow up as “refugees.” Here is an article about someone who grew up in the world’s largest refugee camp, located in, yes, Kenya. (Checking those facts, Noel. 😉 ) From the article:

    I am now 27, but cannot not go back to Somalia. There is no strong government in place in my country to protect me. In addition, being a journalist puts me at risk, as Somalia is among the world’s most dangerous place for reporters. There are a lot of youth like me who have spent their whole lives in the camps. Some say they feel like they are living in an “open prison”. But there is no possibility of movement beyond the camps now. And there is no chance of getting a job or integrating into “the real Kenya”, as the Kenyan government doesn’t want Somali refugees to integrate. The Kenyan government offers no freedom of movement as described in the UNHCR’s 1951 Refugee Convention.

    What is the best thing to do? I don’t think there is an easy answer. Should Kenya try to integrate some, all, none. The man in the article says he would most like to return to Somalia, but since that is not likely, he’d like to move to a third country. That sounds very realistic for him, but how about all the others. Where do they go?

    Boy, this comment is getting long. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get into the other types of immigrants, but I think I’ve made my basic point. It doesn’t help people to just let them in. You have to have something in place for them when they get there. That means being realistic and not rosy-eyed. When I hear some of the rhetoric from the left, I worry that they are not in touch with the real needs of people and will create problems that can be avoided. And, yes, that will create a backlash. The people who are afraid of the backlash should work on avoiding the problems that will cause one.

    Oh, yeah, it all takes money, by the way. No avoiding that fact.

    I’ll probably just add, that when I became an immigrant to Canada, after months of paper work, (you can’t even begin to imagine the amount) one day, at the border, the guards stapled a big piece of paper into my passport, stamped it, handed it back to me and one of them snarled at me, “Learn French!” That was it. Welcome to Canada. Paying taxes the first time was difficult because the form had two options, a reference to your last tax return or a box saying “I’m eighteen and paying taxes for the first time.” There was no third option. I tried filing without filling that part out. Got my form returned to me with a note that there was a problem. Went to the tax office. The first person couldn’t help me. I had to return several times.

    Also, the first few times I got sick, I paid out of pocket because I didn’t know how to get a social insurance card. Finally, I found out and went to the office, but I couldn’t get one because I didn’t speak French well enough to communicate and no one there spoke English. (Yes, I know legally they’re supposed to, but in practice that’s not always the case.)

    I was isolated, I couldn’t find a language class, my husband turned out to be verbally abusive and I couldn’t speak to anyone and didn’t know where to turn. He took advantage of my lack of language skills to control me.

    Now, I’m not relating that to complain about Canada or my own lot, but consider that Canada is a pretty orderly, well-run, prosperous country. I speak one of the two official languages as my native language and had studied the second one in school. I knew enough of the law to know that I could insist on being served in English even if they didn’t want to. I come from the country culturally most similar to it. I have a college degree. I was married to a Canadian. And, still, there were difficulties. Now, imagine someone without those advantages. I’m not sure that most people realize that when you immigrate, they just stamp your passport and that’s the end of it. There you are, on the other side of the border. Legal, it’s true, but you could have just been dropped from outer space.

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    • makagutu says:

      I don’t know where to start. One of my friends has worked with refugees for ages.
      There are Somalis who have been in the camp ever since it was established, I think 25 or 26 years ago when Said Barre became insane or something of that kind. From our keyboards it is easy to talk about refugees. The reality is not so rosy. A person comes, if they manage to arrive as a family with nothing. Sometimes all you have is a few clothes and your identification papers if you had time. And your case puts the problem into perspective.

      I notice it is easy to pick from just one aspect of what I said and say this is a fallacious argument. I don’t think I have said Europe is the cause of the conflict. If the cause of the conflict were easily discernible, I think ending it would not be too hard, but causes of conflicts, just as motivations for human actions, are for most times hidden from us. I ask myself how did Europe, especially Western Europe stabilize after the Franco-Russian wars, the Prussian wars and all the many upheavals that rocked it in the 18th and 19th centuries? What happened? What suddenly led to the end of the mass movement, the pillage, the repine and murders? This is the question that may help us come to a solution of the Middle East and African problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • fojap says:

        I didn’t mean to imply that you thought that Europe was the cause. I’m partly responding to the voices in my head of other Americans, isolationists, internationalists and so on, and all the arguments I’ve heard them make for or against U.S. involvement, and to a lesser extent British and French involvement. It’s always interesting to hear your perspective because I am so overwhelmed first and foremost by U.S. arguments, then secondly by British, thirdly by the French, with a little Canadian commentary on the side.

        I ask myself how did Europe, especially Western Europe stabilize after the Franco-Russian wars, the Prussian wars and all the many upheavals that rocked it in the 18th and 19th centuries?

        This is really a good question, and perhaps the way we should be looking at it. How have we solved such situations in the past?

        I haven’t gotten a chance to consider at length Robert Vella’s response to me, and probably won’t tonight, but off the top of my head I want to say that the periods of peace he has in mind were do to the domination of one empire or another. I’ll have to double check that, but I think it was military force that brought periods of peace. A few weeks ago, Manuel Valls said something to the effect that we’ve forgotten that history is essentially tragic.

        I’ve got a longish post kicking around in my mind which I won’t write anytime soon, but a few weeks ago, I watched a documentary about the Congo, “White King, Red Rubber, Black Death.” In school, we had to read The Heart of Darkness. In school, it was basically taught in a sort of modernist way, the journey as a psychological journey. Then later I read Edward Said’s criticism of it. Although Said says he’s not a “post modernist,” his criticism revolves around “western” representations of “non-western” peoples. I put the quote there because, although Said is “non-western” he’s not from the Congo, either. He is just as distant from it as any European. A like Said, though, and I was influenced by what he had to say. Then I read a magazine article that talked about the novel, and I decided to reread it. Suddenly, a decade after reading it the first time, it hit me that it’s reportage. When Conrad talks about men lying in the forest dying, there’s nothing symbolic about that. There really were men dying. I know that sounds incredibly naive to realize, but, somehow, the truth of the matter didn’t hit me until years later.

        So, recently, I saw that documentary. I came across it on the internet entirely by accident. And, again, I’m going to sound incredibly naive, but I didn’t realize how brutal the colonization of the Congo was. Anyway, I’m not really sure where I’m going here. But, yes, how do we get past the brutality of the past and move into a more peaceful future? I don’t think I’m uninformed, but if I could be so misinformed about a major historical episode, I’m quite certain that many other people are ignorant as well. I think understand the past is a necessary part of moving into the future.

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        • makagutu says:

          I didn’t mean to imply that you thought that Europe was the cause.

          I am certain you didn’t do that. And I think you are quite fairly informed about what happens around you, I think much more than most people one interacts with on the web.

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  10. ejwinner says:

    Anyone who doesn’t think the international arms industry/market doesn’t play a role in the ceaseless violence in the Mid-East and parts of Africa should definitely watch the film “Lord of War.” It starts out amusing but becomes a sobering – and depressing – experience by the end.

    As to the refugee problem facing Europe: it’s not a refugee problem, it’s an immigrant problem. Syria will never heal, and these people are not going home. The European governments need to rethink how to find these people proper employment and means of integrating with their surrounding culture, because they are there to stay.

    And yes, Europe did help create the problems in the Mid-East, by drawing ‘national’ boundaries around, in-between, and dividing through what were boundariless cultures. Prior to colonization, Saharan/Mid-east potentates had capital cities, and centers of administration, military emplacements, etc.; but the populations of the region were geographically fluid. Trade routes were more definitive of cultural regions than lines in the sand. All that was changed by the end of WWI.

    And America contributed its share by developing a policy of destabilization that has misfired terribly.

    However, there’s no denying that the region has internal political problems that date back centuries – to the extent that the Europeans and Americans should never have gotten involved there in the first place, and will be dealing with the mess and its consequences for many decades – perhaps generations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      When you talk of boundaries, reminds me of the arbitrary boundaries the colonisers drew in Africa, setting clan/ kingdom against each other and sometimes forcing diverse groups to live together and dominion by one group- divide and rule they called it in most of the British held territories.
      The conflict in Burundi- made possible by Belgian and French failures over the ages in colonising and exiting that small country.

      Liked by 2 people

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        …French failures over the ages in colonising” were also a major cause of the war in Viet Nam.

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          And then the Yankees went to help them sort out the mess. Interesting how fast we forget history.
          Russians went to Afghanistan were beaten and then the Americans went and they have never sold more opium as they do now. I think the Americans won

          Liked by 1 person

          • tildeb says:

            It’s not so much the American government wanted to help the French be or remain colonizers in Vietnam (they wanted France to should some of the responsibility for keeping Vietnam communist free); WWII had already ended that kind of colonial power. They wanted to avoid another Korea and stop the easy expansion of communism. That’s why the north received so much aid from Russia and why China needed to flex its muscle over its claim to this suzerain nation (people seem oblivious to the repeated Chinese invasions of the north so busy as they are to vilify the Americans as if they quested to be a replacement colonial power).

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          • makagutu says:

            Thanks for the clarification.
            I can’t ignore China. If they have their way, Tibet will be In China, maybe even Taiwan and I can’t say where else

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          • tildeb says:

            Oh, they already are. Tibet knows it but Taiwan will be more along the lines of a Hong Kong. China plays the long game and these are suzerain nations whether they like it or not..

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          • makagutu says:

            Yes, Hong Kong. They can’t even demonstrate. Those poor folk!

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          • makagutu says:

            By the way tildeb, why was communism seen as a threat? Was it because of the way the communist governments were run or was there a problem with the idea?

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          • tildeb says:

            Communism was seen – and remains – a totalitarian form of nationalized government hostile to Western secular liberal values (the Scottish enlightenment writers whose influence on the French and American revolutions and resulting Constitutions is central). The basis of these values lies in the legal recognition of the individual from whom legitimacy of government is drawn. The basis for Communism is with the group whose individual members are interchangeable and expendable. The mass murder by government over its people that occurred in both Russia and China was practical evidence of this. Arm these governments with nuclear weapons, load up an island just off the coast of Florida with them, and you have a recipe for constant cold war on the brink of hot. From the American perspective, Communism was the number one public enemy… especially against private business interests… the foundation of Western economic clout.

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          • makagutu says:

            Thanks for your answers. I have some follow up questions, if you can bear to indulge me further.
            There are states, Uganda, Kenya that are capitalistic but at the same time there is/ has been a tendency to dictatorship. So is it a question of perception or is it really the nature of communism to be totalitarian?
            I understand the part of the commune being the centre and not the individual. If this were to be changed to allow for more human freedom, would it be a desirable system?
            Mass murder of a group by their government is deplorable. But isn’t it more deplorable to kill people in the name of freedom? Or do we treat their deaths as collateral? A necessary thing to achieving a greater good?
            Do you think the problem of the recluse state of N. Korea is so because of communism or because they have been unfortunate to be led by despots?

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          • tildeb says:

            Nazi Germany certainly was capitalist so there isn’t some kind of associated or inherited ‘goodness’ to capitalism per se that stops such countries from becoming totalitarian. I suspect oligarchies prefer dictatorship so that they can use this form to their own economic advantage. When there is a power vacuum, that when we see ‘strongmen’ brutalize their way into authority… by offering advantages to those most able to help them economically. This is why I wrote long ago that the inevitable result of the Arab Spring – or any overthrow of a despot, was going to be civil wars until a strongman could take power and enforce its rule. That’s why I understand how Putin could say what he was saying condemning the Iraqi invasion, why Obama’s equivocating policies there and in Syria were doomed to allow for massive civilian deaths, and for Putin to do what he did and feel his authoritarian way was a greater ‘good’ than all the empty talking from the West.

            The solution is for the West to impose its own values – enlightenment values – on these societies (I can hear the criticism now: But that’s so disrespectful!, so intolerant!, so despotic! Yes, but it also works.).

            And the necessary step to success is the one never taken: one must completely dismantle the old regime and all the institutions that support it. That means the total annihilation of that civil society and the introduction of a new one… one based on superior values that lead to peace, order and good government… the necessary ingredients for widespread economic stability and prosperity for all. And I say this not be brutal but to be honest: the only compelling evidence we have for such radical change that leads to long term peace and prosperity is from the Marshall Plan that recast Japan and Korea and conquered Europe into the political and economic leaders they are today.

            I am a firm supporter that if we go to war, we do so for total victory and shoulder the responsibility and costs to rebuild from the ground up with new social institutions based on legal protection for individual autonomy in law. That’s the key. Under good governance, one will produce levels of socialism in these institutions that are the regulatory equivalent of those most powerful businesses as well as an ongoing participant in evolving social institutions. And for this we have compelling evidence of their long term social success in the Lowlands and the Western Nordic countries, and to a lesser extent the warmer European countries.

            Back to your other questions, it is the fundamental step in creating a communist system that requires the dictatorship of the proletariat. The system never advances past what is supposed to be a transitory step. That’s why it also gets moored in totalitarianism. And any political system that doesn’t have a legal system to protect the individuals who constitute its population from excessive and/or arbitrary power of the State is doomed to produce much higher levels of social dysfunction.

            Yes, killing civilians is deplorable. That’s why the focus should not be on ‘saving’ individuals from ongoing despotic power no matter what the regime change might be but to dismantle the dysfunctional system itself and replace it wholesale. That will ‘save’ every future generation from the brutality chained to keeping the dysfunctional regime in place. Putin is more pragmatic: because we’re always going to have a dysfunctional despotic form of government, it doesn’t matter who is in power or what excesses of violence and death they produce. The problem from his point of view is whatever prods this form of government into a violent response. Get rid of those guys, and aggregate peace and prosperity shall return. The West’s current policy of simply arming those who wish to have more ‘freedom’ is to entice more violence that begets more civilian deaths. There is no greater good being achieved as long as the fundamental problems remain. And the fundamental problem is a lack of legal protection backed by military power for individual autonomy.

            People here in Canada are often shocked to learn that the government isn’t in charge. The military is. It is the military who by Constitutional power serves the Monarch who serves the subjects by upholding the Constitution! Yes, we have courts and police and correctional facilities but it all operates because the military allows the government to do so… as long as the government maintains the triumvirate charges of ‘peace, order, and good governance’. And that means upholding individual autonomy in law. You see, the civilians ARE the military and they happen to know first hand if each individual’s rights and freedoms are being protected or infringed upon and holds each level of government to account by means of elections. Should any government try to advance a strongman or alter this Constitutional arrangement, the Monarch is held accountable who then is responsible for calling upon the military to correct this problem. We’ve had to overcome by violence just about every major hurdle to achieve peace, order, and good governance. That’s why Ireland used Canadian expertise to produce a workable peace plan, why the Iraqi fiasco called upon Canada to fix that mess, why Canada is focusing on a federal system unsupported by the US and so is doing an end-around by training and arming the Kurds… the only stable local force that no one can militarily defeat… not Russia, not Turkey, not Iran, not Syria, not Saudi Arabia, all of whom are actively working to defeat them. That’s our natural ally in this region.

            As for North Korea, the Hermit Kingdom is trapped in a time warp of its own making. Because it was used as a Russian platform for advancing Communism and was militarily smashed, China was forced to step in and expend hundreds of thousands of troops to keep this suzerain nation (notice I keep using that term? It matters in real politiks) from being conquered by the UN… not because it was Communist but because it was right next door and if conquered could lead to China becoming destabilized. Not going to happen. So North Korea was left hanging between real statehood and complete dependence on China. It serves China’s long game interests to keep North Korea frozen in time. And it’s much easier for China to deal with one man at the top of a totalitarian but weak state than a ever-changing democratic government supported by significant portions of the population.

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          • makagutu says:

            Thanks again.
            You will excuse my other questions if they seem repetitive.
            Don’t you think that you are guilty of thinking your way as superior to the other? Take the case of America. It is said to be the land of freedom. But to a far away observer like me, whereas they do seem to enjoy enormous freedoms, the government or the state is being run by corporations. These corporations bribe, lobby, manipulate the elected representatives of the people so that one can say it is not the will of the people they represent but the corporations.
            On economic prosperity to the people; had the west not put economic sanctions on communist countries, don’t you think they would not be as worse off?
            When you say total victory in war, do you mean killing as many people? I need to understand this concept. Always in war, the general who is victorious is one who kills the most people. I don’t know of one who was praised for saving the most lives, maybe it could be because I find war very abhorrent.
            I have heard or read that the west changes its allies depending on interests. There has never been a permanent ally, well maybe excepting Israel which they created. So that the Kurds are just pawns in a bigger power struggle between Shia and Sunni Muslims going on in the region.

            Liked by 1 person

          • tildeb says:

            Don’t you think that you are guilty of thinking your way as superior to the other?

            I don’t presume western liberal secular democracy is a superior culture because of implementing enlightenment values of legal respect for individual autonomy; I conclude it is far superior to all others because it produces the greatest welfare and human knowledge advancements.

            Take the case of America.

            Don’t mistake the abuse of business privilege in the US with its principles… principles founded on enlightenment values and laid out in the Constitution.

            On economic prosperity to the people; had the west not put economic sanctions on communist countries, don’t you think they would not be as worse off?

            No.

            When you say total victory in war, do you mean killing as many people?

            No. I mean the utter dismantling of that country’s laws and public institutions and wholesale replacement. All violent resistance must be eliminated by violent means. The new basis is legal respect for the autonomy of the individual. That is the opposite of ‘killing as many people’ as one can get.

            I find war very abhorrent.

            Indisputably. That’s why it is a last resort but accompanied by a dedication to the utter and absolute destruction of the enemy, which is not people but those institutions and laws and cultural practices (and those who protect them) that do not respect individual autonomy. That’s why I speak of dismantling and wholesale replacement.

            I have heard or read that the west changes its allies depending on interests.

            Really? You think the US will go to war with Britain any time soon? That Canada will invade Denmark? That Sweden cast its greedy eyes on Portugal? That Australia is on the brink of being invaded by New Zealand?

            It’s convenient to avoid all these examples by simply claiming that all are a part of ‘the West’… as if that was one thing in some actual alliance. It’s not. It’s a shared value of legal autonomy for the individual. That’s it. But it suffices and lasts! Ask yourself why and the answer you come to might surprise you in how you then view the rest of the world’s politics.

            Don’t confuse the US selling of arms to Saudi Arabia to be equivalent to the shared NORAD command structure with Canada. Our alliances are steadfast but have yet to be activated… even after 9/11. Alliance countries simply offered full support… just like all offered France full support after the Paris massacre.

            The Kurds – as the only nationalistic group available in the region – offer us a natural ally in their cultural support for secular law. We should militarily support that and build much closer links with them while offering real world benefits of becoming part of the West. All one has to do is respect the autonomy of the individual in law to make this happen to a much greater extent than is currently undertaken (because of the problems with Turkey, an ally who should have had NATO membership threatened and even withdrawn as soon as Erdogan even mentioned changing Ataturk’s secular legacy).

            But we have to stop coddling those here and abroad who demand our destruction, who work tirelessly to undermine our fundamental values of individual autonomy in the name of tolerance and cultural respect. That includes people foreign and domestic whose brains are so addled that they think supporting fascist tactics against natural allies is the politically correct thing to do.

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  11. Thanks for sharing your view–you bring up an interesting point. Unfortunately, war is good business. We saw that during WWII. Somebody is going to profit from all those weapons. I think weapons are too easy to come by and that those who sell them should take more responsibility for the fallout of what happens with those weapons. I don’t think that will actually happen, though. There would have to be reform on a global scale that would make these manufacturers accountable.

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