(Speech given in Rome at the Italian Parliament on January 29, 2016)
Friends and Comrades, it is a great honor to be standing here – at the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament.
One year ago I was driving through the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, monitoring the situation in the refugee camps there. Winter was approaching and the mountains on the Lebanese–Syrian border were covered by snow. It was cold, very cold.
Some 20 minutes, after leaving Baalbek, I spotted an extremely humble makeshift refugee camp, growing literally from the road, in the middle of nowhere.
I stopped. Together with my interpreter, I walked inside and engaged several people in conversation.
The situation was desperate. Children were hungry and could not register for schools through the UNHCR or through the Lebanese government, which, by that time, had almost collapsed. Many electronic food cards that were issued to the migrants did not function. Work permits were not offered, and without proper paperwork, local social services could not be used. In brief: a total disaster.
I was told that in this area, some Syrian migrants had already been starving.
This was Bekaa Valley, a tough place to start with, and full of ancient traditions, clans, gangs and narcotic-business. Refugees were expected to keep their heads down, or else…
Before I left, two little girls, two sisters, approached me. Both had swollen bellies, suffering from malnutrition. Both were dressed in rugs. Both looked deprived.
But after spotting my cameras, they were mesmerized, smiling at me, showing tongues, laughing.
Their country was in ruins, their future uncertain.
But these were just two little girls in the middle of the mountains, two girls excited about each and every little detail of life. Such innocence! Such hope! People are people, and children are children, everywhere, even during wars.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed too many of them; too many wars. Too many barbarities performed by NATO, by the Empire, by the United States and Europe.
Later, working on the Greek island of Kos and in Calais in France, I kept thinking about those two girls, again and again.
The West (or call it NATO, or anything you like – we all know what I mean!) has, in the most cynical manner, destabilized and destroyed the entire Middle East. As it has in virtually all the continents of the world, it ruined tremendous cultures, plundered all it could put its hands on, turned proud people into slaves. Libya and Iraq are no more! I can testify, as I work all over the Middle East.
And then the West enclosed itself into its gold-plated bunker, slowly and disgustingly digesting its booty!
How many refugees are there that Europe says: “it cannot accept”? 1 million? Tiny, miniscule Lebanon has 2 million, and it is coping; badly but coping!
And Lebanon did not destroy Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or Iraq.
You know how it all feels like? Like observing a woman who was gang-raped, whose husband was murdered in front of her own eyes, and whose beautiful house was looted. Now this woman, just in order to save her starving children from the rubbles, is forced to go to Europe, to the rapists and thieves who destroyed her life, asking for shelter and food. And they spit into her face! They say: “It is too much for us, too difficult to accommodate you and others like you! Woman, you came to take advantage of us. You came to have a better life at our expense!”
This is how it looks from the outside. This is how I see it.
And I want to puke. But there is no time… One has to work, day and night, to stop this madness.
The West, of course including Europe, is too hardened by its own crimes, too cynical, and too unrepentant.
It remains blind, because it simply does not pay to see!
There is no Left Wing in Europe, anymore. Not the Left as we understand the term in Cuba and other revolutionary nations.
To us, true left means “Internationalism”, solidarity!
True left is global, egalitarian, and color-blind.
European so-called Left is only concerned with the benefits of its own citizens. It does not care at all where the funds are coming from.
As long as French, Greek, Spanish or Italian farmers get their subsidies and perks, who cares that agriculture in Africa or Asia gets thoroughly ruined. The most important is that European farmers could drive their latest BMW’s, for producing something or not producing anything at all.
I saw absolutely grotesque concepts implemented in countries like Senegal, and other former French colonies: heavily subsidized French food produce flooded West Africa, supermarkets opened, local production collapsed. Then the prices spiked to 2-3 times higher levels than those in Paris. And so, in Senegal where incomes are perhaps only 10% of those in France, a yoghurt costs 3 times more than in Monoprix.
Who pays for those 35-hour workweeks? Who pays for socialized medical care and free education in the European Union? Definitely not the Europeans themselves! Most of the funds used to come from the colonies, from that unimaginable plunder of the world performed by the West.
Colonialism and imperialism are still there, but they often changed forms, although the toll on people in non-white countries continues to be the same.
The Belgian King Leopold II and his cohorts, in what is now Congo, massacred 10 million people, at the beginning of the 20th Century. Between 1995 and now, the West plundered the Democratic Republic of Congo once again, mercilessly, by using its closest allies in Africa – Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. Again, between 7 and 10 million people died there, in just 20 years, and these are not some inflated numbers, these are numbers provided by the United Nations and its reports, including the so-called “Mapping Report”. All that horror, only so the West could have access to coltan (used in our mobile phones), to uranium, and other strategic materials. I compiled the evidence in my feature documentary film “Rwanda Gambit”.
All those ruined lives and countries, so that European citizens could have their benefits, long vacations, and social services.
When I discussed the issue with my friend, an Italian filmmaker from Naples, he snapped at me: “We don’t want to be like the Chinese. We don’t want to work hard like them!”
I replied: “Then live within your means! Do not allow your corporations and governments to massacre tens of millions of people, so that the companies could have their insane profits, and citizens those outrageous benefits.”
Recently, in Thailand, I overheard a group of unemployed Spaniards laughing about having a vacation in Southeast Asia, paid for by their unemployment benefits.
I know many countries, dependencies of the West, where losing one’s job is synonymous to a death sentence! But we are asked to feel sorry for Spaniards, Italians and Greeks. We are expected to see them as victims.
I am saddened to say, but it is not only the United States, but also Europe, which is totally, blissfully ignorant about its role in the world, and about the harm, about the horrors that it is spreading all over our Planet.
This discovery shocked me so much, that I spent 4 years crisscrossing the world, compiling the evidence and testimonies that illustrate the colonialist, neo-colonialist and imperialist legacy of the West, as well as the current neo-colonialist barbarities. The book is 840-pages long and it is called “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. I hope, one day, it will be available in the Italian language!
The book has been receiving enthusiastic reception, but for me, this thick volume is not the end. Now I am compiling the second installment. The topic is just too enormous. The crimes, genocides, holocausts committed by the West on the people of our Planet, are too enormous.
Everything is linked to them! The entire arrangement of the world uses them as pillars.
In our book “On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”, written together with my friend Noam Chomsky, I was asked whether the Europeans actually realize what they have done to the world, during the last centuries.
(Just a side note – this book is now available in the Italian language “Terrorismo Occidentale”).
I replied to Noam: “They definitely don’t!”
And I repeat here, again: most of them, the great majority of them, do not realize it! They don’t want to see, to admit, that their opera houses, hospitals, museums, parks and promenades, are all constructed on the corpses of those who were robbed of everything: from Latin America and its open veins, to Asia and Africa. Slavery, unimaginable extermination campaigns, tremendous lists of horrors!
Before Noam and I began our discussion, I spent some time with several top statisticians, and our conclusion was chilling: directly or indirectly, the West massacred between 40 and 50 million people, between the Hiroshima A-bomb explosion, and the time of my long dialogue with Noam – in 2012.
The number of people, who were murdered throughout history, directly or indirectly, by European empires, all over the world, can only be calculated in hundreds of millions, and one of my statistician friends believes that the total accumulative number actually exceeds 1 billion.
When I was recently speaking at the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, and later in Moscow, having been invited by Russian philosophers and by several members of the Russian Academy of Science, I publicly declared that I am fundamentally against “free medical care and free education in Europe”.
When asked “why?” I explained that the cost is too high, and those robbed and destroyed people, all over the world, are almost exclusively expected to cover it.
But I continued: “I am totally, decisively, supportive of universal free medical care, education and essential social benefits. Or as we say in Cuba: everyone dances, or nobody does!”
Of course I also can tolerate and support free medical care, education and benefits in those countries that do not plunder the world, like Cuba, China, Venezuela, Bolivia, South Africa or Ecuador.
Not only the West refuses to face its responsibility for, by now, the almost absolute total destruction of the world, it is also using all sorts of smoke screens and propaganda tactics to divert the attention of the people; it is spreading nihilist economic concepts, propaganda and outright lies.
It is using education as a weapon, offering scholarships to children of elites in the countries it is robbing and controlling. After being indoctrinated, they return home and continue violating their own countries on behalf of the United States and Europe.
And so the vicious cycle continues!
I encountered so many grotesque moments, when for instance, an Indonesian upper class family returning from its vacation in Holland, begins a long litany, about how great are the theaters, trains, museums and public spaces in Netherlands, compared to those in Indonesia.
Of course they are! All built from centuries of Dutch plunder of Indonesia, like those Spanish cathedrals stuffed with gold, growing from corpses.
As Noam Chomsky often says: “not to see all this truly takes great discipline!”
The brutality of the Western Empire is unmatchable. Its cynicism is monumental!
Look at those so-called “terrorists” in Muslim countries, scarecrows that Western governments and media keep waving in front of our eyes!
Islamic culture is greatly socialist and socially oriented. After World War II, secular, socialist, revolutionary and anti-Western governments ruled the most important Muslim nations: Egypt, Iran and Indonesia.
Within two decades, the West overthrew them all, implementing fascist regimes.
It then invented the Mujahideen and injected them into Afghanistan, in order to finish with the Soviet Union.
And once it felt the need for some monumental enemy to replace Communism, it manufactured and then armed, trained and educated groups like al-Qaida, al-Nusra and ISIS.
This move served two important goals: to justify astronomical military and intelligence budgets, and to portray the Western/Christian civilization as “culturally superior”, fighting “Arab terrorist monsters”.
Of course, the great majority of the people in Europe and North America are so indoctrinated, intellectually self-righteous and defunct, that they remain blind when faced with those Machiavellian pirouettes.
For the European public, there are plenty of “good reasons” to stick to those inherently racist beliefs, and to protectionism. There are even better reasons for hiding those millions of heads in the sand!
And so it goes.
I am here, in Italy, and today I do not want to discuss the United States, Israel, or other colonies and client states of the West. We can do it some other time, if I am invited back.
I spoke about Europe.
And I spoke about those two Syrian girls I met in Lebanon.
They are your responsibility, too, Italy! They suffer from malnutrition because your part of the world is ruining their country. It is because your country is a member of NATO, and NATO is behaving like a fascist thug with some clear mafia behavioral patterns.
I know you have heart!
I grew up on you films, on Fellini and de Sica, Rossellini, Antonioni and others. I greatly admire your poetry and music. They had tremendous influence on my work, and on how I see the world.
But your heart, it seems, lately goes only to your own people. It is not an internationalist heart. It does not believe that all people are equal.
I came here to say this, because not too many people dare to.
I came here because I still care for your country.
But as a determined socialist realist, I care about Italy as it “could and should be”, not “as it is” at this moment.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.