Fighting terrorism is now morphing into clamping down on human migration, as far as the European Union is concerned.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron is leading the charge, claiming at a conference in Paris last week that terrorism and human trafficking are part of the same problem, requiring the deployment of a military force spread across Africa.
The melding of the two concepts provokes serious legal and moral questions.
But so desperate, it seems, is the EU to halt illegal migration into the bloc that it is moving to militarize the problem in Africa – under the guise of “fighting terrorism”.
This is tantamount to European Neo-imperialism. That is, attempting to sort out deep-seated socio-economic problems down the barrel of a gun. Not only that, but using futile heavy-handed methods to deal with problems that European powers themselves are responsible for creating.
Such an approach will only worsen humanitarian problems for millions of displaced war-torn and impoverished people. In typical arrogant imperialist fashion, the EU is not addressing root causes of the problem – its own role in shattering African societies from illegal wars and predatory economics.
The panicky reaction this week in Brussels to the formation of the new Austrian government led by populist Chancellor Sebastian Kurz shows that the other European powers are still rattled by the rise of nationalistic politics across Europe and the underlying long-term problem of migration into the EU.
Kurz’s People’s Party has formed a coalition government with the Freedom Party. Both share anti-immigration policies and are deeply critical of the EU. The new Austrian administration has been described with trepidation in the news media as the first “far-right” government in the European Union. That epithet appears to be aimed at demonizing the new Austrian authorities with the taint of “fascism”.
However, what seems to be the real concern among the pro-EU governments of Germany and France is that Austria rekindles wider fears in regard to large uncontrolled flows of refugees entering into Europe and the knock-on effect of rising anti-EU populist politics that those fears tend to fan.
Another sign of the EU’s concern over the flow of migrants into the bloc is the attempt by France, Germany and Italy to morph the issue of refugees into one of “fighting terrorism”. This is an audacious, not to say reprehensible, step of treating a humanitarian crisis with military force. But because the emotive “anti-terror” card is invoked, the intention is to mask the controversial, unethical move with a veneer of humanitarianism.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a summit in Paris which was billed as countering terrorism in the Sahel – the vast Northwest desert region of Africa. Macron has taken the lead earlier this year in forming what is known as the Group of Five (G5) countries straddling the Sahel region, comprising Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
The leaders of the G5 were hosted by Macron at a chateau near Paris on December 13. Also in attendance were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy’s premier Paolo Gentiloni. Significant too was the attendance at the summit by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In a brazen appeal for financial funding, Macron asked the Saudis and Emiratis to stump up money for the G5 military force. Both the oil-rich states responded with pledges of $100 million and $30 million, respectively. Other donors to the G5 “anti-terror operations” were the EU and the United States, each pledging $60 million. In other words, the Saudis and Emiratis are bankrolling the G5 “anti-terror” military coalition to the tune of nearly half its total budget.
The G5 comprises some 4,000 troops from the five mentioned African countries – all of them former French colonies. The French forces in the region are believed to number around the same. There are also American special forces operating, as was shown by the dramatic deadly shootout in Niger in October when four US troops were killed in an ambush.
What Macron is claiming to do is to replace the French forces with local troops from the G5. That move will save Paris millions of euro it is currently shelling out on the presence of its military in the Sahel. Knowing that these poor African countries would never be able to finance the operations, the French president is deftly involving the Saudis and Emiratis in the funding.
Macron’s proposal beggars belief. Given the record of the Gulf Arab hardline Sunni regimes in sponsoring terrorism across the Middle East, it is absurd to propose that these same regimes could support “anti-terror” operations in the Sahel.
The contradiction raises the real issue and purpose. France, Germany and Italy, on behalf of the EU, are actually using the moral and political cover of “fighting terrorism” in Africa to further their agenda of stemming the flow of migrants from the continent to Europe. And getting the Gulf Arabs to pay for it. The latter get PR value in return.
It is reckoned that the total African population will double in the next three decades to some 2.5 billion people. That presents European leaders with a formidable headache of worsening migration flows. Already in the last two years, there is estimated to have been 1.5 million refugees entering the EU, many of them from Africa. That phenomenon has, in turn, fueled anti-immigrant political parties across Europe who blame the EU political establishment for the problem. The populist backlash poses a threat to the cohesiveness of the EU. It was one of the issues that drove the British electorate to vote last year for leaving the bloc.
Rather than sniffing at “populist” politics in Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands and Germany – and denigrating it as “fascist” – European leaders need to question their own responsibility. It is understandable that European communities can feel unnerved by the sudden influx of foreigners into their country. Given the relentless socio-economic austerity imposed on communities by Neo-Liberal capitalist governments, the anxieties over scarce public resources are accentuated, and understandable.
Moreover, the European members of the US-led NATO military alliance bear direct responsibility for opening the migration floodgates when they destroyed the state of Libya in an illegal war for regime change in 2011. France, Italy, Britain and Germany, among others, were complicit in that criminal war.
France too went on an illegal military expedition in Mali in 2013 to “defeat terrorism” – and its forces remain in that country today.
The real reason for that French intervention may likely have been securing uranium ore mines in Mali and Niger.
All those illegal military interventions by the Europeans in Northwest Africa unleashed militants, migration and human trafficking on a massive scale.
A report last week by Amnesty International also openly condemned European governments for colluding with human traffickers in Libya by forcibly sending would-be migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean back into the clutches of the traffickers on land.
Europe is so desperate to stem the flow of migrants because it is destabilizing the internal politics of the EU. So desperate is Europe that it is willing to force refugees back into the human trafficking networks to a fate of slavery in order to impede the flow into Europe.
Macron’s military “solution” for the Sahel is part of the same futile problem-solving. The French president, with the support of Germany, Italy and the rest of the EU, is using military force to combat “terrorism and human trafficking” which he equates as the same.
Furthermore, Macron and the EU are trying to do it on the cheap, by getting the Saudis and Emiratis to pay a large part of the budget.
This militarist policy is nothing short of a Neo-imperialist agenda in Europe, which can only make matters much, much worse.
European powers, as with the Americans, must stop interfering militarily in the affairs of Africa.
What is needed is a radical new economic and political model of massive public investment in Africa and Europe. The money is there, from the trillions of dollars that European corporations have stashed away in global tax havens. In short, what is required is a repudiation of neoliberal capitalism and the militarism that goes with it.
But there can be no solution under the current political leadership in Europe, as epitomized by French President Emmanuel Macron. Under the cynical guise of being a “liberal progressive”, he is offering the same old destructive policies that end up digging ever deeper holes for societies and the wider world.
So much for his recent corny slogan copying Trump, “Make the Planet Great Again”.
The false solution of dealing with European migration as a military problem of “terrorism” and “human traffickers” only lets the real perpetrators of the problems off the hook. France and the other European NATO powers have created their own problems from illegal wars and predatory economic policies. Now they want to “solve” those problems by adding more of the same problems. Make the Planet Groan Again.
News flash! Women’s Lives Now More Than Bearable
This is a contentious time for feminism. In the age of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and the Weinstein effect, just a few of the many products of the fourth-wave feminist movement, women are continuing to push forward a certain narrative about men and the Western culture’s effect on women in general. It seems as if the conversation surrounding women and gender equality has seeped into virtually every realm of life: politics, culture, religion, and even medicine and technology. Fourth-wave feminists are expressing their distrust in men in many ways…celebrities are calling out sexual predators in front of public audiences, politicians are using sexual assault as a political tool, and students are marching and demonstrating. Corporations, eager to jump on the “let’s make a political statement” bandwagon, are even using sexual assault as a marketing tool, spouting controversial messages about toxic masculinity and the like. A prime example is the recent Gillette ad, which garnered more than 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Many women are also writing about feminism. One example of this is an article, written last year in celebration of International Women’s Day, that has been circulating on social media for the past few months. The article, entitled “100 Easy Ways to Make Women’s Lives More Bearable” and authored by Dani Beckett, has been shared more than 300,000 times since its publication in March 2018. While we would not exactly call it “viral,” it is no secret that the article’s contents are becoming increasingly normalized, currently believed by a meaningful number of female millenials. Beckett’s article was published in Broadly, a subset of Vice Media, a digital media and broadcasting company that launched Vice, the Canadian-American print magazine that gave rise to Broadly. Broadly, a heavily leftist channel catering to women and designed to “provide a space for us to understand, express, and navigate our identities as we define who we are and where we’re headed next,” has quite a solid readership.
After I kept encountering the article on Facebook for several months, I figured it was probably worth a read, but before reading it, I could not help but linger on the title. How to make women’s lives more…bearable? Bearable means tolerable, able to be endured, not even touching the realm of pleasurable or happy. The title implies that women in this country are struggling so much that someone desperately needs to make their lives “more bearable.” In a country where the vast majority of workplace fatalities befall men, the chief victims of non-fatal violence are men, men make up three quarters of all murder victims, women are outperforming men at all levels of education (they even outnumber men at most medical schools), women win custody battles, and women legally win half the earnings and belongings in a household, apparently women’s lives are not yet bearable enough. I was confused, but intrigued, and proceeded to make my way down the long list of male-targeted demands, some of which are too good not to highlight.
The article is written in an incredibly patronizing tone, as if men in America need to be taught that forcing sex upon a woman is probably not a good idea, as if they apparently grew up in a society that conditioned them to rape. The first item on Beckett’s list is, “Before explaining something to a woman, ask yourself if she might already understand. She may know more about it than you do.” Well, is that not general logical advice for anyone? I know the point is to call men out for supposedly always trying to explain things to a woman, but if you are versed in the basic tenets of communication, then it must be the case that you know not to prematurely lecture someone on a topic you suspect they are already well-versed in, regardless of their gender. And let us suppose this is not the case and you have a habit of being didactical when not needed. Well, then this advice should certainly go for everyone, not just men. The point is, gender has nothing to do with it. There is no evidence that men are somehow more likely than women to try to explain something to women, simply because they are women, before considering whether those women might actually understand the topic. Fourth-wave feminists are pushing the narrative that men inherently feel entitled and better than women, so they feel it necessary to always explain things to a woman without thinking if she might already understand. It is a dangerous and baseless narrative to push forward. While it was certainly true fifty years ago when male professors would not even call on their female students in lecture, today, men DO listen to women, whether they like it or not. By virtue of the professional empowerment of women, which has become normalized in Western society, men listen to women explain things to them every single day. Consider this: women now hold 49% of total faculty positions in American colleges and universities. Women lecture, and men listen.
Beckett then states, “Related: Never, ever try to explain feminism to a woman.” Well, what if she’s wrong? Beckett would tell you, “Trust women. When they teach you something, do not feel the need to go and check for yourself. And especially do not Google it in front of them.” So, if she’s wrong, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about facts anyway. Women are so privileged that they now also have the right to be wrong and to lie without getting called out. This is an important reminder of “Believe all women,” the Left’s mantra during the infamous Kavanaugh controversy. If you feel the need to check something JUST because the person who explained it to you is a woman, then maybe you need to treat your misogyny and perhaps Beckett’s list is actually for you. But we live in a society where women are leaders in every sphere – politics, business, medicine, science, the law. At this point, men get it. The need to overpower women, of which remnants will perhaps always exist, has largely dissipated through the years as evidenced by the fact that women now control 60% of the wealth in the United States, for example. If men are such misogynists, why are they collectively not fighting tooth and nail to tear down successful women? Certainly some are, but it’s virtually impossible to prove patriarchy-enforcing men outnumber matriarchy-enforcing women. Instead of acknowledging that, fourth-wave feminists are resorting to feelings, as opposed to facts, to craft their man-hating narrative. What’s more, they are lowering their standards for women.
Clearly, men and women are different, no matter what radical feminists want you to believe. But even though they are different, every society is founded upon a standard set of basic principles and values that every human, regardless of identity, should be obligated to follow in order to preserve civility. Lying does not all of a sudden become okay for a woman if it’s not okay for a man because women should not get special privileges. That is why Dani Beckett is also mistaken in suggesting “Be kind to women in customer service positions. Tip them extra.” Because they are a woman? This sentiment points directly to the pinnacle of feminists’ hypocrisy. Feminists want women to be treated equally, which naturally entails holding them to the same standards as men. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, if you don’t do your job well, then you should not be tipped extra. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, your customers should be nice to you if you do your job well because that’s the right thing to do.
Next on Beckett’s list is a whole compilation of demands centered around how to describe women. She states, “Examine your language when talking about women. Get rid of ‘irrational, dramatic, bossy, and badgering immediately.” This implies that women cannot be any of these things, which they most certainly can. Or perhaps it implies that they can be some or all of these things but they should not be called out for it, which once again, means that according to Beckett, we should hold women to a lower standard. Let’s be clear, women should not get free passes just because they are women and their ancestors have suffered through years of misogyny and oppression. If feminists want true equality, then they should not be cutting women slack and lowering their standards for women out of pity. Women are perfectly capable of meeting those standards. Pushing forward women’s rights legislation should not be done out of a need to prop up identity politics. Women deserve equal rights not because they are women, but because they are humans.
If that was not enough, Beckett certainly has more! “Never comment on a woman’s body,” she says. When describing women positively, men should say she is “talented,” “clever” or “funny,” but not “gorgeous” “sweet” or “cute.” Men also cannot call her unique, and “unlike other girls” because all girls are awesome. Long gone are the days when it was flattering for a woman to be told she has a nice physical appearance. And long gone are the days when men were allowed to make their physical attraction, the very basis of biological reproduction, known to women. I am assuming Beckett wants men to assign more value to women than their physical appearance, which is understandable, but assigning more value to personality and assigning some value to physical appearance are not mutually exclusive acts. A 2017 study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science found that most women are likely to choose physical attractiveness over personality and intelligence in potential partners. For a group of people who supposedly hate double standards, fourth-wave feminists sure do love double standards.
And now we arrive at the scariest portion of Beckett’s list: the postgenderism demands. Beckett states, “If you read stories to a child, swap the genders. Cast women in parts written for men. We know how to rule kingdoms, go to war, be, not be, and wait for Godot.” Right, and that is exactly why the parts of Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Daenerys Targaryen, Mulan, and many, many more have been written. To show that women can indeed rule kingdoms, go to war, and do pretty much anything. Fourth-wave feminists are called “fourth-wave” because they are not the first. The women of the past have already proven that women are powerful and can rule kingdoms. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel by going to extreme measures (i.e. swapping genders) to show something that everyone, barring exceptions, already knows. Perhaps, then, the point of swapping genders is not so much to normalize powerful, masculine women. It is, in fact, to get rid of gender roles altogether. My prediction is that postgenderism will pave the way for fifth-wave feminism.
So why is one article like this one so important? It’s maybe just the opinion of one woman. Except it’s not. Between 70 and 80 percent of college women currently identify as feminists. The contents of Beckett’s article are at least somewhat representative of the mentality of young women in America today, even if some shy away from the label “feminist.” I fear that this association we have started to develop between feminism and fourth-wave values, some of which are exemplified in this article, will only become stronger until, eventually, first and second-wave feminists are shut out entirely. Women who are pro-life are shut out entirely. Women who want other women to be held accountable are shunned and considered anti-feminist. Criticizing obesity, pointing to false allegations of sexual assault, challenging the misconceptions surrounding the pay gap, holding conservative views about female sexuality, and acknowledging core differences between men and women will become wholly incompatible with any definition of feminism. Women should be encouraged to be strong, not feed their victimization complexes. Women should be encouraged to listen to other women, even if they disagree. Fourth-wave feminist indoctrination should not be something we stand for if we want to actually help gender equality.
Trump to Enact Massive Change to Prescription Drug Pricing, Sources Say
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration late Thursday afternoon proposed an effort to increase transparency when it comes to prescription drug pricing by cutting the widely used practice of middlemen — one of the major cost-drivers of drug prices.
President Donald Trump is strongly considering signing an executive order to do just that, according to four people inside the administration who asked for their identities to be withheld for various reasons.
The executive order which has already been drafted by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, would allow manufacturers of drugs to offer discounted pricing to customers, but would legally, stop them from giving rebates to pharmacy benefit managers.
“If you can’t manage a campaign, how do you manage the country?”: Chuck Todd schools Bernie Sanders
In a segment Thursday on MSNBC, network host Chuck Todd slammed Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders for allowing sexual misconduct to occur inside his 2016 presidential campaign.
“Could this derail his chances of another presidential bid,” host Chuck Todd wondered before playing a video clip.
“Boy, that is a tough answer to defend of course,” Todd said referring to Sanders telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that he didn’t know about ongoing sexual misconduct because he was “a little busy running around the country trying to…make the case.”
“Because if you’re running to be president of the United States…if you can’t manage your campaign, how do you manage the country,” Todd continued. “No potential 2020 candidates had a worse start to 2019 than Bernie Sanders”