The European Union is employing the same dissociation tactics utilised by governments and media to speak about the ramifications of violence while negating the role of foreign intervention. The intentional manipulation of the UN resolution that justified NATO's destruction of Libya is no longer an issue for the EU.
Instead, European leaders are now preoccupied with the escalating number of people attempting to seek refuge in countries across the continent. Ahead of talks to be held on 14 September in Brussels, EU leaders have called for action "to defend the dignity of migrants". However, the right-wing sentiment engulfing the union, militarised approaches to the issue and the construction of barriers on borders to prevent migrants from seeking refuge point to one stark truth: it is quite possibly preferable, as far as EU leaders are concerned, that those escaping persecution and atrocities in their own lands perish before they reach what they had hoped would be safety.
The recent discovery of 71 decomposing corpses in an abandoned truck in Austria and the widely-circulated photos of drowned Syrian children, have unleashed a wave of passive compassion and simultaneous brutal resentment. Considerable segments of Europe's population are unmoved by the horrors, thus facilitating EU leaders' impunity with regard to participation in foreign intervention under the guise of "saving people"; this is the accepted euphemism for regime change, push-back policies and excessive focus upon smuggler networks. All serve as a veneer for Europe's continued colonial endeavours. However, diplomacy has made it possible for the EU to maintain its duplicitous stance and ensure that more families become displaced or face annihilation.
For all the rhetoric about maintaining migrants' dignity, the EU has been consistently clear in its racist, xenophobic attitude. As long as people seeking refuge perish away from the Mediterranean or any of Europe's borders, EU leaders will remain ensconced safely within their roles of oppressors and feign limited benevolence when facts explode in their faces. When corpses become too obvious, it is time for serious action. That includes further efforts to "bring democracy" to countries singled out for destruction, ensuring soaring death tolls of civilians and refusing refuge to people escaping the consequent mutating violence.
Hence the EU focuses on secondary concerns, such as trafficking networks and border controls, in order to sustain violence and a degree of control that prolongs humanitarian catastrophes. In turn, the EU garners support from a large percentage of the population which aligns itself with the exclusionary politics preached and practiced by the West. Encouraging other trajectories becomes a plausible option, allowing international organisations some respite from their criticism and condemnation discourse. In the background, however, the cycle of further plunder of resources and domination continues, creating more victims with absolute impunity.
Meanwhile, Germany, France and Britain — all of which have played major roles in ensuring death and displacement in the Middle East and North Africa through their foreign policies — are insisting that Southern European countries embark upon "better processing of migrants". According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "Those who do need protection should be integrated more quickly into our life, while those who don't should he sent home quickly." One might well ask to what "home" displaced and persecuted people should be returned to. Clearly, the EU is uncomfortable with offering refuge but, true to its character, has no qualms about participating in what to all intents and purposes amounts to mass murder.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.