Twisting the ‘lessons of history’ to authorise unjustifiable violence: the Mediterranean crisis

Idler on a hammock

European Union political leaders have announced that their response to the staggering loss of life amongst migrants crossing the Mediterranean in unseaworthy vessels will be the use of force to smash the so-called ‘networks’ that operate out of Libya to orchestrate the perilous sea crossings. How? On May 11, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated that “No one is thinking of bombing. I’m talking about a naval operation,” but two days later, the Guardian reported on a leaked strategy paper for an EU mission in the Mediterranean and in Libyan territorial waters proposing an air and naval campaign. This, the paper said, would lead to ‘collateral damage’. In other words, adults and children boarding or aboard the vessels under attack might be killed. With or without bombs, such ‘collateral damage’ is already a known product of the measures being employed by the EU to push back, deter, and divert…

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