Week 5 of the Responsible Innovation MOOC learns us about how to identify and manage risks of new technological innovations in order to protect future generations, safety, security and economic durability. In my previous columns, I mainly took environment-related issues as a topic to write about, like the Electric Vehicle and the gas drillings in Groningen. Quite easy issues to come up with innovative ideas when you compare these to the current refugee problem. As I saw a lot of columns about refugees and their impact on the Netherlands passing by, I now want to add some more nuance to this problem. Let’s have a look at the cause of the current ‘tsunami of refugees coming to conquer Europe and eventually the whole West’.
When you’re reading this column until now, you would probably argue what the refugee problem has to do with understanding and identifying risk in technological innovations. Well, I thought so too. But let’s take the bombing of several countries in the Middle East by coalitions of (mostly Western) countries as an innovative technology on how to fight terrorism. Now we can look for possible risks.
Let’s quickly go back to 20 March 2003, the day that the Iraq War started. A war between an international coalition led by the United States and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Main reasons for this war were US’s accusations against ‘Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘Iraq’s support for international terrorism’. Though, evidence for these accusations have never been provided and weapons of mass destruction have never been found, neither has Iraq’s support for terrorism. Later, several leading American military and political figures admitted that the great supply of oil in Iraq was key in starting the Iraq War. A war which all the Arab states have opposed to, foreseeing the further destabilization of the Middle East, a region the Arab states are located in, NOT the West.
Libya, 2011. Qadhafi’s regime is fighting against those seeking to take down his government. An international coalition of France, the US and the UK started bombing on Libya, trying to help the rebels get rid of Qadhafi. What the rebels and the international coalition left is an area which can’t be called a country no more, several militants and rebel groups fighting each other till death and a government unable to manage this violence up until today. Where is France now? Where are the US? Where is the UK?
Bombing countries seems NOT to be the solution for fighting Middle East regimes and terrorism. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, all show that bombing countries only leads to more violence and more hatred against the West. As it is very difficult to distinguish the several groups fighting each other today in Syria and Iraq, I won’t mention the right and wrong ones. All I want to mention is that Western intervention, led by the US, is NOT the solution for bringing back stabilization in this region. How many people in the Middle East have died in the past two decades? Millions.
Let’s go back to the statement I hear a lot now in the media and from political parties: reception of refugees should be organized in the own region. I can agree with that. But only when military intervention is also ONLY organized by the own region (the Arab Liga). You cannot simply make a mess in Syria and Iraq and then refuse refugees, expecting the Arab states cleaning up the mess. It’s a foreseeing risk of an ‘innovative technology’ like bombing that people will flee their country, seeking for safety. And for those who desire a big wall around Europe, keeping the refugees out, be responsible and consequent and please build the wall at such a height that Europe’s F-16’s cannot fly to Syria and Iraq either.