Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Recent news depicts the shift in attitudes in Europe regarding immigration. The actions of Muslim extremists have brought fear into the hearts of the native born. The bombing in London, the assassination of persons critical of extremism in Belgium and /or Netherlands, the banning of burkhas in France and dissatisfaction against immigrants in Sweden are signs of this phobia. It’s regrettable that this should arise in liberal Europe glaringly expressed in the opposition to Turkey’s membership to the European Union. It’s regrettable and hypocritical as immigrations from the Middle East and Africa result from turmoil in their native lands due to the historical excursions of Europeans themselves. These historical excursions resulted in colonies that disrupted the normal social fabric of these nations resulting in an unfortunate dependency.
England is the paramount example. Recent rhetoric from the new Conservative government marks a shocking lack of ideas that inevitably stimulate xenophobia. The former English empire held sway in a large part of the globe; in the East from Hong Kong and India to the Middle East and Africa. England became a beacon for a cosmopolitan society with maharajahs and African kings comfortably existing in polite English society. The empire also stimulated migrations of Indians to the Malayan peninsula to tend rubber plantations or in Africa for coffee and tea plantations, sold opium in China and set the national boundaries of India, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Rhodesia, South Africa and numerous other countries in the world. It’s the first action to impose a global society with English ideals. This brought migration of English peoples to the colonies and native immigrants to England to seek a better life.
This example of a multicultural mix occurred in various flavors throughout the West including the New World. The introduction of new ideas also brought a native reaction through the decades that expressed itself in extremism such as the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, influenced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and, eventually, Al Queda and other terrorist sects. The formation of Israel initiated with the Balfour Declaration and the withdrawal of English troops from Jerusalem are the roots of the Palestinian problem. The turmoil brought about by foreign interventions is the driving force of emigration to Western lands. Oil deposits are just one of the recent motivations for foreign control whereas in the past it was the Crusades in their quest to liberate the Holy Land. Of course it was not helped by Muslim victories through the ages with the Ottoman Empire and various Eastern dynasties that held sway for certain periods since the time of Alexander the Great.
So it’s sad that Europe would start having second thoughts on their liberal traditions of immigration. It will start a new round of conflict that may result in a North and South stand-off, collapse of World Trade and other multinational organization like the United Nations. The only hope is the New World being the melting pot of many cultures and races. But there are also signs of a change in attitude with the opposition to immigration reform also attributed to the rise of conservative views. The attacks on the twin towers were possibly the start of this reaction. But a great power is not without resources and the Middle East is just one problem to be resolved. The usual answer is regime change and more freedom and democracy by removing the despots that have ruled the Middle East for many decades.
Is this the end game of the neo-conservatives? Following the removal of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines (and thereby reduce the rise of the Communist New People’s Army and its threat to the then military bases) and despite the failure of the Tiananmen Square revolt in China, the formula remains the same. Social engineering at it’s covert best. The main goal is to reduce the influence of extremist (and thereby threats to Western interests) by engineering the fall of despotic regimes that fuel local discontent. At the same time stimulate economic and political liberalization and free trade. It’s a grand strategy by a super power to stem the tide of extremism and, indirectly, reduce the rising xenophobia to European immigration. Perhaps even reduce the rise of Chinese influence in the region.
The worst case would be the rise of national barriers and the collapse of free trade. The best case would be a new era of openness, free trade and more global prosperity. The formula succeeded in the Philippines but with mixed results. The game began with new information released to the media; government corruption in the Marcos regime and now Wiki Leaks in the current exercise. It is a brilliant move to end the foreign adventures in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the last piece of the puzzle would be a Palestinian state in Israel. Perhaps the recent Middle East turmoil, with its promise of more democracy and openness in Israel’s neighbors is the remaining demand before achieving a deal with the Palestinians. Peace in Gaza and the West Bank would be a fitting end to regime change and extremism.