What would Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, make of the current migrant crisis?
Might I suggest my own “modest proposal” in light of a suggestion by François Crépeau of McGill (and special UN rapporteur for refugees) that Europe should “open official channels and their labour markets to migrants”.
Daily news reports show migrants trapped at borders, desperately seeking asylum in Europe; Syrian children caught between Macedonian police shields and crowds of refugees, or migrants washed up on Mediterranean shores after harrowing sea journeys that only the lucky survive — only to absolutely ruin the vacations of beach going tourists from England — are all most distressing.
Economic opportunities from military interventions
Whereas the crises in Libya, Iraq and Syria, to name a few countries, have contributed to the displacement of millions of people, and whereas the thousands of unwashed hordes arriving at the EU’s doorstep threaten to de-stabilize Fortress Europe, not to mention distract television viewers from more pressing stories about Kardashians and lions in safari parks, and whereas said hordes have the nerve to try to invade sovereign countries in a manner most illegal, I propose a solution.
Namely that a humanitarian corridor be opened for refugee families fleeing war torn countries, one that would insure both gainful employment for the miserable migrants, (who obviously lack the work ethic necessary to survive war zones and in the case of Syrians and Iraqis, seem to actually enjoy flitting back and forth to each others’ countries, depending on which situation is the most dire) as well as contributing to the global economy.
Whereas the U.S. and the U.K. remain the top arms exporters globally, and whereas Syria, Iraq. Libya and the Horn of Africa are all emerging markets for the weapons trade (with Israel creating its largest naval base outside the country in Eritrea, where it also dumps nuclear waste and turns a blind eye, along with the UN, the U.S. and the EU, to rather brutal human trafficking rings that lure victims with promises of jobs in Tel Aviv — and where Russia arms both Ethiopia and Eritrea).
Whereas so many refugees remain deeply ungrateful for the economic opportunities allowed to them by frequent military interventions by foreign powers in their homelands, here is the solution I propose.
Why not open special areas in economically disadvantaged regions (Bradford, perhaps? Or sites of derelict munitions factories in the U.K.? Perhaps Detroit in the U.S.?) where migrants can get special working visas as employees in new arms factories. With 51.2 million people displaced by conflict in the world, I’m frankly surprised that no one has thought of this before. Top arms exporters in the U.S. and U.K. could lead the way, but there’s no reason competitors in Russia and China shouldn’t also follow suit. Even Saudi Arabia and Qatar could contribute to such a program.
With war and conflict zones being such obvious make-work opportunities for international arms manufacturers, aid agencies, venture capitalists, and anti-terror legislators, and with so many migrants seemingly oblivious to the abundant economic opportunities afforded to them by their privileged positions as actual residents of war zones, and with their deeply held entitlement mentalities (the belief, for instance, that they have the right to live free from aerial bombardment, or say foreign funded mercenaries destabilizing their nations) they should be relocated to said areas, and employed in the manufacturing of armaments. Thus, they would be contributing – giving back as it were – to the very agents of their new economic opportunities.
Age should be no barrier to employment, and indeed whole families – from children to grandparents — could benefit from such work. Should the migrants have any free time after daily 12-hour shifts in arms factories, they could be educated in neo-liberal theory about the new opportunities available for cross-border trade.
Opportunity of sorts
They might also benefit from lectures on the “war on terror” and learn about cases like Bherlin Gildo, the Swedish man living in London who was accused of terrorism in Syria. That is until his case fell apart when it turned out that British intelligence had armed the same groups he was charged with supporting.
Or they might also enjoy learning about how M16 and the CIA collaborated on a “rat line” of arms transfers to the Syrian rebels from Libya, after Gaddafi’s “fall” (or rather his bayoneting in the streets of Sirte by “rebels” after a NATO bombardment — or “humanitarian intervention” which in turn lead to many economic opportunities for new armed-to-the-teeth militias.)
And they might even enjoy reading back issues of Vogue magazine, like the one that featured a glowing profile of Madame Asma al-Assad, as the chic wife of a dictator, whose role as a villain seems to depend on whether we were farming out torture to his prisons or arming his adversaries. (Fashion can be so fickle!)
So my friends, a solution is at hand to the current migrant crisis (really an opportunity of sorts). And if all goes to plan, soon distressing scenes of unwashed migrants rushing policemen will be banished from our television screens and we can all go back to worrying about the possible alien origins of Donald Trump’s hairpiece.
Call me a dreamer if you like, but please, consider my modest proposal.
Hadani Ditmars is the author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone and is working on a new book about ancient sites in Iraq. She has been reporting from the Middle East for two decades and is also a singer and musician.