The Other 1%


This staggers my brain and leaves me flailing around for words. 1% of the population of the planet are refugees.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are more internally-displaced, asylum seekers, or refugees than since the end of WWII.

65 million people.

That’s a bit more than the population of France. Global warming is certainly going to exacerbate the problem, but certain countries’ tendency to destructively replace political regimes isn’t helping a whole lot, either.

There was a lot of “regime change” going on during WWII but WWII “only” created 40 million refugees.

A large part of what is going on is that there are displaced populations that are being warehoused and forced to stay displaced. So, while WWII resulted in a lot of migrations, people migrated back when it was all over, or doors were open elsewhere in the world for migrants. Populations were absorbed into other cultures, and life resumed. Many of the 65 million displaced people right now are being put on hold: warehoused in tent camps.

We have absolutely no reason to expect them to be anything less than extremely pissed off.

Syrian Refugee's camp

Syrian Refugee’s camp

My ancestors came to America because of problems with potatoes in Ireland and in Norway; they came on “coffin ships” and some of them died on the way; then, at Ellis Island, they were told to head to Wisconsin because that’s where the Norwegians were. So they did, onto land that belonged to the Dakota or Chippewa – the Dakotas and Chippewas having been turned into refugees before then; those that survived.

When I first started learning about global warming, I thought “things are going to break very badly” (how’s that for understatement?) Well, things are breaking very badly. The US’ imperial efforts to re-balance regimes to be more favorable is adding gasoline to the fire: 12 million of the refugees are a result of the war in Syria – a war which the US didn’t start,* but certainly egged on, then armed one side (which made it worse) and ended by attracting other powers (which made it even worse)  Just to give you an idea of the scope of the disaster that caused: the genocide in Rwanda displaced 3.5 million people – one third of the refugee population created by the war in Syria. The US invasion of Iraq only displaced 2 million refugees (some of whom got really pissed off and are not being quiet about it)  The “regime change” in Libya created a mere million refugees. Every map that shows the projected effects of global warming shows that millions more people are going to be displaced.

F-15 dropping bombs on a town in Syria

F-15 creating refugees in Syria

As Secretary of State, John Kerry, said, climate change is going to create a lot more refugees. He even mentioned that thousands of people in Syria had been displaced because of drought. He didn’t say anything about the 44,000 air strikes the US has flown against targets in Syria. Drought, forsooth! It’s raining high explosive!

The US is spending $480,000/hr for its war effort in Syria. It’s a shame the people in the Pentagon aren’t living in the tent camps, and the people living in the tent camp aren’t getting to spend the $480,000/hr. Priorities, people.

1% of the world’s population are refugees, right now, and the effects of global warming haven’t really started to kick in yet. It’s too bad we can’t feed them our 1%. That’d be “regime change” I approve of.

 


(* Maybe. Regime change in Syria has been something discussed by many US Presidents including Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Obama. The various Secretaries of State have been equally vocal – which is inappropriate coming from an empire’s chief diplomat.)

 

Comments

  1. says

    It’s too bad we can’t feed them our 1%.

    With all the oil spilling all over, land being torn apart for leaky pipelines, explosions, poisons from frakking just under the skin of the earth we walk on, and most of the isht taking place in farm country, there’s gonna have to be an alernate food, because we’ll be growing much less, and you can’t put animals on sick, ravaged, wasteland either. I expect paper money is kinda tasteless. Lacking nutrition and all that. I wouldn’t want to hydrate with a paper smoothie, either. So maybe a certain 1% should be getting a tad scared around now.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the war in Syria – a war which the US didn’t start,* but certainly egged on, then armed one side (which made it worse) and ended by attracting other powers (which made it even worse)

    That footnote could go on for multiple thick books.

    Fact correction: the US armed several sides, out of literally hundreds. Would it have been less-worse to have armed all of them?

    And which of those “other powers” (UK, France, Russia) was not already decades-entangled in Syria before the first US spook set boot on the sands there?

  3. says

    Caine@#1:
    So maybe a certain 1% should be getting a tad scared around now

    There’s not enough rich people to go around. The 1% are the top 1% of wealth, not population – I think it’s about 400 people. They’re not even enough for canapes. :(

  4. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#2:
    That footnote could go on for multiple thick books.

    That reminds me I need to look uo Syria in Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” (which I officially recommend!) when I get home. There’s doubtless tons and tons of classified shenanigans but the unclassified stuff is going to be pretty disgusting.

    the US armed several sides, out of literally hundreds. Would it have been less-worse to have armed all of them?

    Why not arm none of them?

    Yes, maybe there is enough of a popular surge for a revolution in Syria, but the US’ arming the rebels when we did was simply enough to push them to a suicidal effort. That’s the problem with regime change – in principle, if there is enough of a popular mandate, it should happen organically. But of course it doesn’t because a dictator has disproportionate power. So you’re stuck in this “things have to get a lot worse before they get better” trap.

    I do think the US and the world community need to explore the question of how to gently depose dictators. I’ve actually given that topic quite a bit of thought and I even have a proposal (“the least bad option”) which is to have a UN-sponsored process in which the UN can vote a resolution that such-and-such dictatorship is going to break down and establish a republic. Once the UN resolves that, the dictatorship is on notice that it will not be allowed to be hereditary. The current dictator can live out the rest of their life in power but if they are not making a sincere effort to transition to a republic on their demise, their heirs have the choice of declaring that they do not want power, and leaving the country, or they become legitimate targets for assassination. If that doesn’t convince the dictator, then a bounty is placed on their head. The point is to make it so that dictators can’t enjoy the fruit of their actions, and their strategy is defeated in the long-term. Dictators would be offered a significant amount of money to leave, where they could live in moderate luxury. That, or a bullet in the head.

    The problem with US-style regime change is that it forces political unrest and is maximally destructive – of even the lives that are supposedly being helped. If the premise is that the people of Syria are innocent victims, then bombing them victimizes them twice. If we bomb them to no purpose and the revolution fails (as it looks to be doing) then we are trebly guilty.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 4: … Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” (which I officially recommend!) …

    Ehh. Some interesting material in there, but as I read my copy, a few years ago, I made notes on a blank endpage of significant items in CIA history which he’d left out. I wrote succinctly (“Nugan Hand.” “Heroin.” “Edwin Wilson.”) and in small lettering, or I’d’ve filled the whole page.

    Why not arm none of them?

    Do you wanna crash the economy, or what?

    … the US’ arming the rebels when we did was simply enough to push them to a suicidal effort.

    Dunno if a genuine grass-roots “Arab Spring” campaign could’ve gotten any reforms out of the Assad Dynasty v. 2.0, but we now know for sure that a trigger-happy foreign-funded one couldn’t. Thanks, Hillary.

    Somehow the US managed to install (sorta) democracies at gunpoint in Japan & Germany from the rubble of dictatorships, but we’ve plainly lost the knack since then. Dunno why the fantasy persists.

  6. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#5:
    CIA drug trafficking should have brought the who reeking pile of manure down. But it still stands, which tells me a lot about our leaders’ committment to democracy and justice.

    Do you wanna crash the economy, or what?

    Yeah, I think the US economy needs to reset itself away from hyper consumerism and military consumerism. It’s going to hurt but the US’ destructive activities worldwide are directly tied to the endless war economy.

    Dunno if a genuine grass-roots “Arab Spring” campaign could’ve gotten any reforms out of the Assad Dynasty v. 2.0, but we now know for sure that a trigger-happy foreign-funded one couldn’t. Thanks, Hillary.

    Yeah. I am amazed that she still has a job.

    omehow the US managed to install (sorta) democracies at gunpoint in Japan & Germany from the rubble of dictatorships, but we’ve plainly lost the knack since then.

    We committed culturecide – excuse me “culture change” – along with regime change. In both cases, the culture was crushed (to the point of taking swords away from the Japanese, letting Douglas McArthur write Japan’s anti-porn laws, banning right-wing speech in Germany, teaching that Wagner was a nazi, etc) Crush their culture and hook ’em on Starbucks and they’re ready to be another american colony!

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 6:I am amazed that she still has a job.

    H.R. Clinton voluntarily left her last known employment about 3.5 years ago, and – as one actively seeking a paid position now – qualifies as part of the officially counted unemployment stats.

    Crush their culture and hook ’em on Starbucks and they’re ready to be another american colony!

    Uh, I don’t think Truman planted Starbuckses all over the ex-Axis as part of the Marshall Plan. (One new thing I did learn from Weiner’s semi-history: about 10% of the Marshall Plan budget, in the forms of bags of cash distributed via US embassies, went to getting the CIA operational in mostly undocumented ways.) Nor even McDonaldses.

    And it probably would’ve started the war all over again if the US had attempted opening Budweiser distributorships in Germany.

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