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How Humanitarian Imperialism Led to Europe’s Refugee Crisis

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Maidhc Ó Cathail: Do you see Cologne, 2015 as a turning point or the beginning of the end for European civilization? 

Jean Bricmont: I am not sure what European civilization means, but if it survived the two World Wars, it will survive Cologne 2015. One should not exaggerate what happens with the refugees. I am of two minds about that. On the one hand, I don’t think it is such a big deal; what are a few million refugees among 500 million Europeans? On the other hand, polls show that a majority of people in European countries do not want to “welcome” more refugees and I think it is their right to do so (even if personally I don’t think it is such a big deal).

What I call the moral left wants to force the population to be altruistic with respect to the refugees. But the population who is never consulted on the issue of refugees and who is constantly asked to make sacrifices because “there is no money” understandably does not accept this moral discourse.

Maidhc Ó Cathail: How is what you wrote in Humanitarian Imperialism related to the current refugee crisis?

Jean Bricmont: Well, the same people who encouraged “humanitarian” interventions and “support” for armed insurrections abroad, that have led to perpetual wars, generating a constant flow of refugees, are now demanding that the population of our countries “welcome the refugees”. They first generate chaos there, then they applaud chaos here. It cannot last forever. One can see signs of widespread popular revolt against that. Now, I am not optimistic about the way this revolt will go, because, since the left has been almost totally won over to the cause of humanitarian interventions and its corollary of welcoming the refugees, this revolt will almost certainly benefit mostly the (far) right.

Maidhc Ó Cathail: Do you believe that guilt over the Holocaust is the driving force behind Germany’s decision to accept over a million refugees?

Jean Bricmont: It was not “Germany” that made that decision but Mrs. Merkel, to the consternation of many and perhaps most Germans.  Her personal motives are unclear.  For a minority of Germans who actively welcome the refugees, the Holocaust is no doubt a factor. But the younger generations, all over Europe, are fed up with this artificial guilt (how can anyone be guilty of events that occurred before their birth?). So, also in Germany, there is a lot of negative feelings with respect to the refugees.

Maidhc Ó Cathail: Do you think that one can be against US wars and Israeli occupation and at the same time have reservations about Muslim immigration to Europe?

Jean Bricmont: Yes, of course. But I am very reluctant to see this immigration (as several people do) as a “plot” from the US and Israel to “Islamize” Europe. For one thing, the Zionists here are divided: it is true that some of them are for more open borders, but others are afraid of the “Islamisation” of Europe, since they know that Muslims are not exactly fond of the “Jewish state”. I don’t believe such Islamisation takes place, but I think one should be pragmatic about immigration. We will never have really open borders, unlike what some of the far left demands (otherwise we would really be quickly overwhelmed and a far right reaction would occur to stop that), nor will be have completely closed ones. It is only a question of degree. The problem is that some of our “elites” live in a dream world where more globalization is always viewed as good and the wishes of the population are despised and ignored. That creates the risk of a dangerous backlash.

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JEAN BRICMONT teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism. He can be reached at Jean.Bricmont@uclouvain.be MAIDHC Ó CATHAIL is a widely published writer and political analyst. In addition to having written a monthly column for Beo!, his work has been published by Antiwar.com, Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Consortium News, Forward Magazine (Syria), Journal of Turkish Weekly, Khaleej Times (UAE), Ma’an News Agency (Palestine), Middle East Monitor, Palestine Chronicle, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, RT, Tehran Times, The Nation (Pakistan), The Unz Review, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and many more.

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