How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit
Vote, TRNN, June 25, 2016.
Michael Hudson argues that military interventions in
the Middle East created refugee streams to Europe
that were in turn used by the anti-immigrant right
to stir up xenophobia.
WILPERT, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. Iím
Gregory Wilpert, coming to you from Quito, Ecuador.
referendum in favor of leaving, or exiting, the
European Union, the Brexit referendum, as the
results are known, won with 52 percent of the vote
on Thursday, June 23, stunning Europeís political
establishment. One of the issues that has raised
concern for many is that what does the Brexit mean
for Britainís and Europeís economy and politics.
This was one of the main topics leading up to the
referendum, but a lot of disinformation [reigned] in
With us to
discuss the economic and political context of the
Brexit is Michael Hudson. He is a research professor
of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas
City, and author of Killing the Host: How Financial
Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. Also,
he is an economics adviser to several governments,
including Greece, Iceland, Latvia, and China. He
joins us right now from New York City.
Michael, for joining us.
HUDSON: Good to be here again.
letís begin with the political context in which the
Brexit vote took place. Aside from the right-wing
arguments about immigrants, economic concerns, and
about Britainís ability to control its own economy,
what would you sayĖwhat do you see as being the main
kind of political background in which this vote took
Well, almost all the Europeans know where the
immigrants are coming from. And the ones that
theyíre talking about are from the near East. And
theyíre aware of the fact that most of the
immigrants are coming as a result of the NATO
policies promoted by Hillary and by the Obama
began in Libya. Once Hillary pushed Obama to destroy
Libya and wipe out the stable government there, she
wiped out the armsĖand Libya was a very heavily
armed country. She turned over the arms to ISIS, to
Al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda. And Al-Qaeda used these arms
under U.S. organization to attack Syria and Iraq.
Now, the Syrian population, the Iraqi population,
have no choice but to either emigrate or get killed.
people talk about the immigration to Europe, the
Europeans, the French, the Dutch, the English,
theyíre all aware of the fact that this is the fact
that Brussels is really NATO, and NATO is really run
by Washington, and that itís Americaís new Cold War
against Russia thatís been spurring all of this
demographic dislocation thatís spreading into
England, spreading into Europe, and is destabilizing
youíre seeing with the Brexit is the result of the
Obama administrationís pro-war, new Cold War policy.
are you saying that people voted for Brexit because
they are reallyĖthat they were concerned about the
influence of the U.S.? Or are you saying that itís
because of the backlash, because of the immigration
that happened, and the fact that the right wing took
advantage of that [crosstalk].
Itís a combination. The right wing was, indeed,
pushing the immigrant issue, saying wait a minute,
theyíre threatening our jobs. But the left wing was
just as vocal, and the left wing was saying, why are
these immigrants coming here? Theyíre coming here
because of Europeís support of NATO, and NATOs war
thatís bombing the near East, that is destabilizing
the whole Near East, and causing a flight of
refugees not only from Syria but also from Ukraine.
In England, many of the so-called Polish plumbers
that came years ago have now gone back to Poland,
because that countryís recovered.
But now the
worry is that a whole new wave of UkrainiansĖand
basically the U.S. policy is one of
destabilizationĖso even the right-wing, while they
have talked about immigrants, they have also
denounced the [inaud.] fact that the European policy
is run by the United States, and that you have both
Marine Le Pen in France saying, we want to withdraw
from NATO; we donít want confrontation with Russia.
You have the left wing in England saying, we donít
want concentration in Russia. And last week when I
was in Germany you had the Social Democratic Party
leaders saying that Russia should be invited back
into the G8, that NATO was taking a warlike position
and was hurting the European economy by breaking its
ties with Russia and by forcing other sanctions
So you have
a convergence between the left and the right, and
the question is, who is going to determine the terms
on which Europe is broken up and put back together?
Will it simply be the right wing thatís
anti-immigrants? Or will it simply be the left
saying we want to restructure the economy in a way
that essentially avoids the austerity that is coming
from Brussels, on the one hand, and from the British
Conservative Party on the other.
you have Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch
nationalists, saying, we want Holland to have its
own central bank. We want to be in charge of our own
money. And under Brussels, we cannot be in charge of
our own money. That means we cannot run a budget
deficit and spend money into the economy, and
recover with a Keynesian-type policy.
whole withdrawal from Europe means withdrawing from
austerity. If you look at the voting pattern in
London, in England, you had London to stay in. You
had the university centers, Oxford and Cambridge,
voting to stay in. You had the working class, the
old industrial areas of the north and the south. You
had the middle class and the industrial class
saying, weíre getting a really bad deal from Europe.
We want to oppose austerity. And we donít want
Brussels to give us not only the anti-labor,
pro-bank policies, but also the trade policy that
Brussels was trying to push onto Europe, the Obama
trade agreement that essentially would take national
economic policy out of the hands of government and
put it into the hands of corporate bureaucracy,
corporation courts. And the bureaucracy in Brussels,
then, is largely pro-bank, pro-corporate, and
That actually brings up the issue of the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or
the TTIP. It was one of the things that the Cameron
government was really pushing for, this relationship
between the European Union and the United States.
Now that Britain is presumably going to be leaving
the European Union, donít you think that this might
open the possibility of just a TTIP between Britain
and the United States? In other words, that it
willĖit has been one of the arguments, actually, of
those who were opposed to Britain leaving the EU,
that it will tie Britain even closer to the United
States than it was before, and by virtue of the fact
that itís leaving Europe.
think just the opposite. Iíve gotten phone calls
today from Britain, and Iíve been on radio with
Britain. The whole feeling is that this makes the
TTIP impossible, because you canít do a TTIP just
with Britain. You have to do it with all of Europe.
And this prevents Europe, and I think Britain, too,
from making this kind of trade policy. The rejection
of eurozone austerity is, essentially, a rejection
of the neoliberal plan that the TTIP is supposed to
be the capstone of.
And what do you think this means, then, in general
for Europeís future? One of the things thatĖone of
the dangers that many perceive is precisely that
Europe, as a European Union, is going to fall apart.
Do you think thatís the likely scenario here? OrĖ.
watched Marine Le Pen today in France, and you could
see from her face that she was overjoyed. She thinks
all of a sudden, almost every European interview
where the peopleĖthere was such unleashing of a
feeling of freedom, a feeling of yes, we can do it.
When Ireland voted not to join the European Union
people just ignored the popular vote. But now it
canít be ignored anymore.
And I think
that the British vote is a catalyst for moves in
Spain, Italy, the Five Star movement in Italy, the
Podemos in Spain, to say, we areĖwe have an
alternative to Europe. Europe is sort of like the
Soviet Union in the í30s and í40s. There was an
argument, is it reformable or not? There is a
feeling, and I think itís correct, that the European
Union, the eurozone, and the euro, is not reformable,
as a result of the Lisbon treaties and the other
treaties that have created the euro. Europe has to
be taken apart in order to be put together not on a
right-wing, neoliberal basis, but on a more social
ironically, the parties who call themselves
socialists are now moved to the ultra-right, to the
neoliberal. The French socialists, the German social
democrats. But youíre having real radical parties
arise in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and potentially in
Greece, again, that are going to say, well, the key
of any government, of any national government, has
to be the ability to issue our own money, to run a
deficit, spending into the economy to make the
economy recover. We cannot recover under the Lisbon
agreements, under the eurozone, where the central
bank will only create money to give to banks, not
money to spend into the economy, to actually finance
new investment and new employment. And we cannot be
part of a eurozone that insists that pensions have
to be cut back in order to make the banks whole and
save the one percent losing money.
So for the
first time youíre having the real left wing in
Europe talking about financial issues, not about
political philosophy, or the fact that countries are
not going to go to war again. Nobody ever believes
that France, Germany, and other countries in Europe
are going to go to military war again. There is a
fear that the countries in Europe may go to war
against Russia, pushed by NATO, pushed by
adventurism of the U.S. stance towards Russia.
And so all
of a sudden the eurozone that was supposed to be a
bulwark of military peace has become belligerent,
and even more so if Hillary would win in the United
States. And thereís a feeling we do want peace. That
means we have to withdraw from the eurozone. And
essentially, withdrawing from Brussels means
withdrawing from NATO and withdrawing from the
could say that the vote to withdraw from Europe is,
itís really a vote of the British middle class, the
working class, to withdraw from the U.S.
neoliberalism that has been running Europe for the
last ten years.
Okay. Unfortunately weíve run out of time, but
thanks so much, Michael, for your insight on this.
Iím sure weíll come back to you again, as we always
do. So thanks again for joining us.
Good to be here.
And thank you for watching the Real News Network.
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