Michael Hudson argues that military interventions in the Middle East created refugee streams to Europe that were in turn used by the anti-immigrant right to stir up xenophobia.
GREGORY WILPERT: Britain’s referendum in favor of leaving, or exiting, the European Union, the Brexit referendum, as the results are known, won with 52 percent of the vote on Thursday, June 23, stunning Europe’s political establishment. One of the issues that has raised concern for many is that what does the Brexit mean for Britain’s and Europe’s economy and politics. This was one of the main topics leading up to the referendum, but a lot of disinformation [reigned] in the discussion.
With us to discuss the economic and political context of the Brexit is Michael Hudson. He is a research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and author of Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. Also, he is an economics adviser to several governments, including Greece, Iceland, Latvia, and China. He joins us right now from New York City.
So let’s begin with the political context in which the Brexit vote took place. Aside from the right-wing arguments about immigrants, economic concerns, and about Britain’s ability to control its own economy, what would you say–what do you see as being the main kind of political background in which this vote took place?
HUDSON: Well, almost all the Europeans know where the immigrants are coming from. And the ones that they’re talking about are from the near East. And they’re aware of the fact that most of the immigrants are coming as a result of the NATO policies promoted by Hillary and by the Obama administration.
The problem began in Libya. Once Hillary pushed Obama to destroy Libya and wipe out the stable government there, she wiped out the arms–and Libya was a very heavily armed country. She turned over the arms to ISIS, to Al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda. And Al-Qaeda used these arms under U.S. organization to attack Syria and Iraq. Now, the Syrian population, the Iraqi population, have no choice but to either emigrate or get killed.
So when people talk about the immigration to Europe, the Europeans, the French, the Dutch, the English, they’re all aware of the fact that this is the fact that Brussels is really NATO, and NATO is really run by Washington, and that it’s America’s new Cold War against Russia that’s been spurring all of this demographic dislocation that’s spreading into England, spreading into Europe, and is destabilizing things.
So what you’re seeing with the Brexit is the result of the Obama administration’s pro-war, new Cold War policy.
WILPERT: So are you saying that people voted for Brexit because they are really–that they were concerned about the influence of the U.S.? Or are you saying that it’s because of the backlash, because of the immigration that happened, and the fact that the right wing took advantage of that…
HUDSON: It’s a combination. The right wing was, indeed, pushing the immigrant issue, saying wait a minute, they’re threatening our jobs. But the left wing was just as vocal, and the left wing was saying, why are these immigrants coming here? They’re coming here because of Europe’s support of NATO, and NATOs war that’s bombing the near East, that is destabilizing the whole Near East, and causing a flight of refugees not only from Syria but also from Ukraine. In England, many of the so-called Polish
plumbers that came years ago have now gone back to Poland, because that country’s recovered.
But now the worry is that a whole new wave of Ukrainians – and basically the U.S. policy is one of destabilization – so even the right-wing, while they have talked about immigrants, they have also denounced the fact that the European policy is run by the United States, and that you have both Marine Le Pen in France saying, we want to withdraw from NATO; we don’t want confrontation with Russia. You have the left wing in England saying, we don’t want concentration in Russia. And last week when I was in Germany you had the Social Democratic Party leaders saying that Russia should be invited back into the G8, that NATO was taking a warlike position and was hurting the European economy by breaking its ties with Russia and by forcing other sanctions against Russia.
So you have a convergence between the left and the right, and the question is, who is going to determine the terms on which Europe is broken up and put back together? Will it simply be the right wing that’s anti-immigrants? Or will it simply be the left saying we want to restructure the economy in a way that essentially avoids the austerity that is coming from Brussels, on the one hand, and from the British Conservative Party on the other.
And again, you have Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch nationalists, saying, we want Holland to have its own central bank. We want to be in charge of our own money. And under Brussels, we cannot be in charge of our own money. That means we cannot run a budget deficit and spend money into the economy, and recover with a Keynesian-type policy.(Continued at Counterpunch)
Related articles from Counterpunch :