The Crisis of ‘Regime Change Refugees’

The West’s dominant prescription toward the crisis of war-torn regions and the destabilizing refugee flow that has followed is to have more “regime change,” particularly in Syria. But the reality is that the West’s fondness for violent “regime change” is the core reason for the refugees, says James Paul.

By James Paul

The huge flow of refugees into Europe has created a political crisis in the European Union, especially in Germany, where neo-Nazi thugs battle police almost daily and fire-bombings of refugee housing have alarmed the political establishment. There is also the wider crisis in the EU over which countries will take in refuges and how many.

The public has been horrified by refugee drownings in the Mediterranean, deaths in trucks and railway tunnels, thousands of children and families, caught in the open, facing border fences and violence from security forces.  Religious leaders call for tolerance, while EU politicians wring their hands and wonder how they can solve the issue with new rules and more money.

Afghan commandos demonstrate their skills for U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Camp Morehead, Afghanistan, April 23, 2012. (Defense Department photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Afghan commandos demonstrate their skills for U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Camp Morehead, Afghanistan, April 23, 2012. (Defense Department photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Meanwhile, the refugee flow has been increasing rapidly, with no end in sight. The German government has estimated that it will take in 800,000 asylum-seekers during 2015. The overall flow into Europe for the year will probably be well above a million. Germany and Sweden are the main destinations.

Fences cannot contain the desperate multitudes. A few billion euros in economic assistance to the countries of origin, recently proposed by the Germans, are unlikely to buy away the problem. Only a clear understanding of the origins of the crisis can lead to an answer, but European leaders do not want to touch this hot wire and expose their own culpability. In the U.S., there is little sensible analysis either.

The migrants coming to Europe are mostly fleeing conflicts. The data on origins make that clear.  The migrants are coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent from Eritrea, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa. These are all countries with vicious conflicts conflicts that (with the exception of Nigeria) began with Western military intervention, direct or indirect and continued to be fueled by intervention In Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia the intervention was very direct. In Syria, Pakistan and Eritrea, it has been less direct but very clear nonetheless.

The term “regime change refugees” helps focus on where the primary responsibility lies. It changes an empty conversation in the direction of reality. Official discourse in Europe and the United States frames the civil wars and economic turmoil in terms of fanaticism, corruption, dictatorship, economic failures and other causes for which Western governments and publics believe they have no responsibility.

The Western leaders and media stay silent about the military intervention and regime change, interventions that have torn the refugees’ homelands apart and resulted in civil war, state collapse and extremely violent conditions lasting for long periods.

Some European leaders, the French in particular, are arguing in favor of further military intervention in these war-torn lands on their periphery as a way to “do something” and (ironically) “end the violence.” Overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to be popular among the policy classes in Paris, who choose to ignore how counter-productive their overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was just a short time ago and how counter-productive has been their clandestine support in Syria for the Islamist rebels.

The intensive Western bombing campaign in Syria (now joined by France), aimed in theory at the forces of the Islamic State, are killing many civilians and further destabilizing the war-ravaged country.

The aggressive nationalist beast in the heart of the political class of Europe and the United States is ready to engage in more military adventures. These leaders are not ready to learn the lesson, or to beware the “blowback” from future interventions. This is why we need to look closely at the “regime change” angle, to beware upcoming proposals for more intervention, and to increase public resistance to further war. It is clear enough that the crisis of migration and war has been “Made in Europe” and “Made in USA.”

Author of Syria Unmasked, James Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN. 

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13 comments for “The Crisis of ‘Regime Change Refugees’

  1. Joe L.
    September 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I have to say seeing this refugee crisis just makes me angry. Over 14 years of war, with the US bombing in 7 countries, along with my own country, Canada, also illegally bombing in Syria which violates the UN Charter Article 2(4). What is truly twisted and sickening is that our governments, and media, are taking no responsibility and trying to have us believe that all of the refugees are Syrians and that Assad is responsible for ISIS (who he is fighting in his own country) or blaming Russia in an attempt to push for another “regime change”. How has war solved anything in the Middle East? 14 years of war with failed states such as Libya, Iraq etc. which give us the very clear example of what will occur if Assad falls. I am just dumbfounded how stupid these times are and how oblivious many people are. I believe that Einstein coined it best when he gave us the definition of insanity being “doing the same thing over and over again meanwhile expecting a different result” – it is more then past time to start talking peace rather then more war and these refugees are a prime example of this.

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      I agree with you Joe L, this contemporary fighting goes on and on and gets more absurd with each iteration.
      I remember driving by the US Naval Ammunition Depot, near Hawthorne, Nevada noticing as I drove, roadside signage for various US wars: Memorial Mile honoring The Korean Conflict, Memorial Mile honoring The Vietnam Conflict, and so on until It came to the most recent honoring “GWOT” I thought, where is GWOT? and then it struck me that I was in the Orwellian world of Bush/Cheney; truly a heartbreaking experience.

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

        GWOT – Global War On Terrorism – It is authorized for award to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who deployed abroad for service in the GWOT Operations on or after 11 September, 2001 to a date to be determined.

        My friendly advice to you Bob is to find an alternative route. I noticed while driving the interstates that many bridge overpasses are now named in honor of deceased military people. I’m like you, this stuff makes me sad. Although, there are many who which to pay honor to these people who sacrificed their lives to keep us free. Okay, so far, but where is that freedom when you need to stand in line to board a plane. How many times have you heard, that since 9/11 we need this information filled out…we’re sorry, it’s not us? Attending a NFL game is a whole new experience. Between the see through bags, to being swept with that screwy bomb wand, it just makes me want to stay at home and watch the game on TV. Maybe, that’s what they want, is for us all to stay home and watch the game on TV. No, that can’t be right. Maybe, it is all about control. What do you think?

        • Bob Van Noy
          September 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

          I think….I feel like we’re in a parallel universe or something, i’m sick of it and it worries me…

      • Joe L.
        September 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

        Bob Van Noy… you know that everything has gone to the birds when, I believe it was General Petraeus, who suggested that we should support the Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in Syria. I think we are getting to the point where War is peace, freedom is slavery etc. How does this stuff continue? I think it is because people are devoid of history, real history and not the Hollywood version, and put patriotism above logic. One thing I found particularly disturbing that I glanced at today was an article in VICE entitled “We asked a Military Expert How to invade and Conquer Russia” from March 4, 2014. We are in cuckoo land these days and even during the Cold War, I don’t even think that I have heard of such idiocy which passes for popular culture these days. If we are not careful, while we are celebrating our latest iPhone, then we are going to end up in a very serious war with a country that is not some little third world nation but rather a large nuclear power with very large friends.

        • Bob Van Noy
          September 16, 2015 at 4:54 pm

          “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” I can’t even wrap my mind around the double-speak, too much war planning going on by too many simple minded warriors. I’m thinking we should just send Them out to fight and get it over with. Cheney, Bush 2, and General Petraeus lead the way!

          • Joe L.
            September 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm

            You hit on what I was thinking today! It would be nice if we had laws that if our leaders truly want to go to war that they have to be on the front lines to lead the charge. I can pretty much guarantee that if that was the case then we would see a lot more diplomacy and peace talks along with much less belligerence from our leadership. I think it is easy for our politicians to take our countries to war when they have nothing to lose and instead our young kids get brainwashed into “defending our freedom” which translates into big profits for the arms industries and whatever corporate interests they are inadvertently, and unknowingly, fighting for.

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 16, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Joe L. don’t despair too much over all of this, because if it is as I heard a retired general on TV once say, these Middle Eastern wars will last a good thirty years…well we are half way through. That would mean we have fifteen years to prepare for V-day…yippee! Seriously Joe L., you and I see these wars plagued with birthing pains that lead to chaos. Think about how many wars the U.S. has sponsored over the years, and then think of how many victories the U.S. has had with it’s sponsorship. Korea is still two regions. Vietnam was a loss cause, unless you are Macy’s. South America, is now struggling to be democratic, after all of our U.S. meddling. Rather than me go on about the U.S. success, I should just point out how many U.S. defense companies have done extremely well. Smedley Darlington Butler had it right when he wrote his book, “War is a Racket”. More people should read Major General Butler’s book, and then they might get how the money interest does become wealthy from all of this death.

      • Joe L.
        September 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm

        Joe Tedesky… I don’t know how not to have despair or frustration with 14 years, and counting, of wars based on very devious reasons disguised as “freedom” and “democracy”. You see, I look at 9/11 and I will never forget that day, that tragic day. I remember waking up that morning and I turned on the TV to watch the news before I went to work and what I saw on TV made me first think this was some movie. As tragic as that day was, what the US did to Iraq who had nothing to do with it, seems that most of the hijackers were Saudis, is by far the largest tragedy. Not only did Iraq lose between 1/2 Million to 1 Million people but it is a destroyed, failed state, at the mercy of Al Qaeda, ISIS etc. and it will take countless decades for them to recover (look at the people of Fallujah and babies being born deformed due to the US using depleted uranium munitions which harkens back to Agent Orange in Vietnam which the Vietnamese still deal with today). I am just to the point where I am actually hoping for the rise of China along with other world powers to hopefully bring us into check and rebalance the world. I truly believe that we are in desperate need to be taken down a few pegs, hopefully without another World War, and somehow find our humility. All I see is such brazen arrogance and entitlement by the entire western world, my country Canada included. We need to remember that “Pride comes before the fall” and we would well to remember the lessons of history and instead try to work with our fellow nations instead of resorting to childish belligerence. At some point, if we keep moving in the direction that we are going, the rest of world will shun us and I think that votes within the United Nations are already proving that we are well outside of what the majority of the world believes.

        • Peter Loeb
          September 17, 2015 at 7:01 am

          To Joe L… I too “despair” but only in an ultimate sense, if that
          evasion has any meaning at all.

          I am not a young man. (When I was younger I was mostly also
          “wrong”…at least on many issues.)

          I try to combat despair with action, with research in the years
          left to me.

          When I survey the Middle East, say Pallestine or Syria, I no longer
          am certain whether I am looking at American natives (aka “Indians”)
          after they had been mercilessly defeated and exterminated. In either
          case, I will not see the end of the story which will be after my demise.

          The lives of peoples considered “inferior” have never mattered to
          those who have chosen themselves as superior dating from the
          massacres of the Israelites now commended as “heroic”.

          Support where and when you can and as Marx said “according
          to your ability.”

          I am thankful that there are some Joe L’s and Tedeskys left in the
          world.

          —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  2. September 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t know how it is for other people but I live in a small New England town with a war monger Mayor named Martin who rents a downtown main-street store with a front window marketing war propaganda and calls it a veterans support office.

    The store front window is complete with a row of flags and a changing war propaganda message. Mayor Martin may be an isolated weirdo war monger yet I suspect there are probably many nice small towns with their mayors filling store front windows with US flags and pro war propaganda.

  3. Hillary
    September 17, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Thank you James Paul for an excellent piece & your justifiable designation of these MILLIONS of destitute ,displaced people as “regime change refugees”
    Every single American citizen should know the truth and who the REAL culprits were/are as neocons in authoritative positions continue to promote “Regime Change”.
    James Corbett in his excellent “follow the money” video reported that “by 2013 the unaccountable money in the Pentagon coffers had reached $8.5 TRILLION” .

  4. quelconque
    September 17, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Yes, the refusal by western governments, the beltway media, and doubtless millions of other people, to connect the dots is truly bizarre, but at the same time, not surprising.

    To aknowledge the sequence of events that has lead up to the point we are now at would mean to recognise the enormity of western countries’ actions and the slaughter it has provoked. Hard to imagine that happening under the cuurent regime. And hard also to imagine any institution that would have the cojones to prosecute the perpetators.

    It would be rather different if it were the actions of an individual. One who refused or failed to acknowledge the consequences of their actions. We would most certainly see their lack of repentence as a psychological disorder and have them shut up for life in a mental institution. Instead, these sociopaths are all running round free, patting each other on the back and planning their next nightmare. We live in a very immoral, upside down world.

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