The scale of the migrant crisis Europe is facing today cannot be understated. It is truly unprecedented. What is habitually understated, however — and in fact almost completely ignored by mainstream media — are the real roots of the crisis, says Danielle Ryan.
The debate around migration into the EU is happening nearly entirely without reference to the causes of the recent influx of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The elephant in the room is NATO and nobody really wants to talk about it.
Hundreds of articles, laden down with numbers and proposals and predictions fail to make any direct link between cause and effect. News anchors sit seemingly baffled, mouths agape, at the apocalyptic-like pictures they are seeing land on their desks, and yet few are willing to draw the appropriate conclusions. But it is such a basic and logical connection that it’s hard to believe it is not being made very loudly and very persistently.
Maybe it’s just that these journalists are so conditioned to framing U.S. and NATO policy in a positive light that the links don’t even really occur to them. Or maybe they’re simply embarrassed and trying to shift focus from their long-recorded support for various military interventions in these countries.
Either way, the result is that the story is framed in such a way that it makes the timing of the crisis sound almost random. We’re witnessing a conversation about how to ‘deal’ with boats full of Libyans making their way across the Mediterranean — as if Libya was a country that had just self-imploded yesterday, and for no discernible reason.
A fierce debate is raging over ‘what to do’ about these migrants — and in a way that’s understandable because that is the more immediate problem — but the debate we really need to be having is about the policies, NATO’s policies, which were the catalyst.
Even if Europe unites in formulating a ‘solution’ to the problem, it will be nothing more than a bandaid fix because it will only deal with symptom. After all, what’s the point in covering your open wound with a bandaid when the guy who cut you is still wielding a knife in the same room? It doesn’t take a genius to work out how that story ends.
Whenever the cause is grudgingly mentioned by the media, it is mentioned briefly and abstractly where the author or anchor might refer to “conflict” or make mention of how violence has “reignited” in these countries in recent years and months.
The editors at the New York Times in particular, are big fans of loading all the blame squarely onto Europe’s shoulders. Here a Times piece argues that the migrant crisis “puts Europe’s policy missteps into focus”. Another piece, from the editorial board, lectures Europe on how to handle the situation.
In April, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called for a “comprehensive response” to the crisis and promised that NATO would help to stabilize the situation. The alliance’s role in “stabilizing” Afghanistan was part of its broader approach to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, he said.
That is rich coming from the head of a ‘security’ and ‘defensive’ alliance which for years has pursued a policy of offensive destabilization in the very regions which people are fleeing from in their hundreds of thousands. But Stoltenberg’s comments and NATO’s actions are easily decoded by the employment of some basic common sense.
The NATO modus operandi is clear. The pattern, repeated over and over, involves the complete destabilization of a region, to be swiftly followed up with another NATO-led ‘solution’ to the problem. When you couple that with the use of spokespeople who are unashamed to feign ignorance and lie blatantly (Jen Psaki, Marie Harf etc.), and a compliant media that will regurgitate the line without question, this is what you get.
The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya was authorized by the United Nations on “humanitarian” grounds and resulted in the deaths of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and the displacement of 2 million. Very humanitarian.
Similarly, after the U.S.-led campaign to destabilize Syria in an effort to topple Bashar al-Assad, facilitating (and even supporting) the rise of ISIS in the region, a staggering 10 million have been displaced (according to Amnesty International) and European countries are left to help pick up the pieces. Germany, for example, has pledged to resettle 30,000 Syrian refugees. Sweden, a non-NATO nation, has taken in similar numbers.
It should be made clear however, that the numbers European countries have taken or pledged to take pale in comparison to the numbers being hosted in other Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, is hosting 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Jordan is hosting more than 600,000. Iraq hosts nearly a quarter of a million. Turkey hosts 1.6 million.
There is one country that’s getting off scot-free in all of this — at least on the Syrian front. That country is the United States. The U.S. has taken in less than 900 Syrian refugees after four years of war. American officials have cited “national security” in their explanations for not yet taking more, although they have said they would like to see the number increase.
Maybe this has something to do with it?
Debate not allowed
There is a second media crime flying under the radar here and it is this: In European countries where the massive influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have caused serious societal divisions, where migrants have failed to assimilate (for a variety of reasons, including both government policies and often radical religious beliefs), Western media will allow no one to talk about it honestly — and woe betide the person who tries.
Take Sweden, where the disease of political correctness is at an even more advanced stage than it is in the rest of Europe. There, any attempt to debate the coherence of a ‘doors wide open’ immigration policy is branded as “racist”. A further irony in the Swedish context, is that the country is facing a housing crisis and has nowhere to put most of the people they are pledging to resettle. There’s some real forward-thinking, common sense policy for you.
This is a dangerous combination for Europe: An unsustainable influx of migrants, foreign policy which ensures its continuation, a docile media, and an epidemic of political correctness which has infected the entire continent.
Media 101 on the migrant crisis: Talk a lot about migrants, don’t mention why they fled and then call anyone who has a problem with it a “racist” — success! Oh, and you get an added bonus if you can somehow link it all to ‘Russian aggression’, Vladimir Putin and NATO as a ‘defensive’ alliance.
Some European countries are taking a more hardline approach and are getting slammed for it. Hungary, for example, is looking at building a barrier wall along its border with Serbia, similar to barriers along the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders. Again, this has sparked accusations of xenophobia and racism from media and political quarters.
But that’s part of the game, isn’t it? If NATO’s war supporters can focus the debate around the idea that anyone who wants to address or critically assess immigration policy is “racist” then we won’t have to talk about why the migrants are here in the first place or why they are facing such dire circumstances at home.
Russia Today’s Oksana Boyko tried recently, to broach this topic with Peter Sutherland, the UN’s special representative on international migration and development, but she got nowhere. She argued that the debate around migration into the EU can’t really be had without addressing the essence and heart of the problem, but found that NATO policy is apparently a topic not up for discussion.
Debating Europe’s migrant crisis without acknowledging the context in which it has been created it useless. It would be like asking Americans to debate police brutality without talking about race. The two are inescapably interlinked and any ‘solutions’ that come from an incomplete debate will ultimately fail.
For now though, it seems Europe will continue to debate this humanitarian crisis in terms of ‘what to do’ without addressing the ‘how to stop’ and we’ll keep running around in a vicious circle.
An easier solution, of course, would be for NATO to put an end to its campaign of destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa, but that would require the acceptance and acknowledgement of some very hard truths.
Danielle is an Irish journalist and blogger. She has a degree in Business and German from Trinity College Dublin and studied political reporting at the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism in Washington, DC. Special interests: American politics and foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias. Her blog can be found at journalitico.com.