Question: How should the developed countries respond to the mass migrations created by war and climate change?
Noam Chomsky: Well certainly not the way they're doing it. What is called "the refuge crisis" is in fact a moral crisis in the West. I mean, there are cases in history of migrant crises that are severe. In fact we're living in such a case. The migrant crisis from Europe eliminated or destroyed the indigenous population. That's a pretty serious crisis. That's the extreme case of "migrant crisis."
Today, there are countries that are absorbing huge numbers of refugees. Lebanon, a poor country, has about 40 percent refugees. Lebanon had nothing to do with engendering the crisis, but it's taking the consequences. Jordan has a huge number of refugees, so does Turkey. The United States has practically none. Europe has a very limited number, but very small compared with not only its wealth but also its role in creating the crises. Our role in recent years is even greater.
So on the one hand you have rich, powerful countries, which have played a major role in creating the crisis, and now are groaning because maybe they have to accept a tiny bit of the consequences. On the other hand you have poor countries, which had nothing to do with the crisis, which are absorbing the refugees. So it's a moral crisis. We have in the United States the same crisis with regard to Central America. People fleeing from Central America, are fleeing for the most part from crimes that we committed. And then we tell Mexico to send that back and not let them near our border, pretty much as Europe does in the case of Turkey.
This is not only true for the migrants coming from Iraq, Syria, the Levant region, but also from Africa. One effect of the destruction of Libya, actually initiated by France and England with the US "leading from behind" as Obama put it, has been not only of destroying Libya and to vastly increase the human catastrophe and killings [there], but it has also opened a funnel for people fleeing from Africa. Well Europe has a certain relation with Africa over the past couple of centuries. I don't have to review it. Now, again, Europe is groaning over the flight of people of regions it has devastated. And it's not ancient history. It's recent, current history.
So take the richest country in Africa. Potentially the richest country, which could have led Africa to becoming a flourishing region: The Congo, enormous wealth, it was a Belgian colony. The treatment of Congo by the Belgians was horrendous even by the standards of European Imperialism which was horrible enough. It was one of the worst cases. In 1960 the Congo did achieve liberation. They had a political leader, a young political leader, very promising, very popular: Patrice Lumumba. What happened? The C.I.A. instantly targeted him for assassination, but they didn't make it. The Belgians managed to assassinate him first, through proxies. And they didn't take any chances, so his body was cut up in pieces and dissolved in sulfuric acid. That took care of Lumumba and the Congo hope for independence. Then the United States and its allies supported a murderous cleptomaniac, Mobutu, as long as they could.
Right now, the last couple of years, the worst atrocities in the world are carried out in the Congo. In Eastern Congo millions of people have been slaughtered in the last couple of years. One reason for it is your cellphones. The multinationals are hovering over the warring militias to get the minerals that are needed for high tech equipment like cellphones in the West. That's the Congo. It's not ancient history, and that extends over much of the region.
So yes, there's "the migrant crisis" in Europe, a moral crisis, and one of extreme danger to the world. I mean, I'm old enough to remember what it means when Austria and Germany have political parties that are effectively neo-Nazi. I can remember Hitler's speeches in 1936-37 and it's not a nice memory. And that's what's happening in reaction to what is called "the refugee crisis."
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