Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, told Fox Business Network this week that the ongoing European migrant crisis is a direct result of years of U.S.-backed regime change in the Middle East.
"It's interventionism of Republicans and Democrats and neo-conservatives that we have to re-make the Middle East - and we certainly did since 9-11 - we have re-made the Middle East, but I see no positives. We have created ISIS and al Qaeda - we've [supported] them. I mean it's an utter mess no wonder there [are] migrations," said Paul, a physician and 12-term congressman who ran for president in 2008. "We should have done a lot less a long time ago."
Paul expanded on the issue in an article published on his website this week: "The reason so many are fleeing places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that U.S. and European interventionist foreign policy has left these countries destabilized with no hopes of economic recovery. This mass migration from the Middle East and beyond is a direct result of the neocon foreign policy of regime change, invasion, and pushing 'democracy' at the barrel of a gun."
The most recent example of U.S. interventionism can be seen in the Syrian civil war, which started in 2011 and has internally displaced 7.6 million people and sent 4 million Syrians to neighboring countries. More than 200,000 civilians have been killed, according to Reuters.
The U.S. began providing funding to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad long before the war started, the State Department admitted in 2011, according to CBC News.
"We're working with a variety of civil society actors in Syria with the goal here of strengthening freedom of expression," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Secret diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that up to $6.3 million U.S. taxpayer dollars were funneled to a London-based dissident group that broadcasts anti-government news into Syria. Between 2006 and 2010, an additional $6 million went to support a number of other initiatives, including training for journalists and activists.
Protests agaisnt Assad started in Syria in March 2011 and quickly turned violent. The CIA soon began a covert program to deliver weapons, military equipment and other aid to so-called moderate Syrian rebels fighting against the Assad regime, an effort that continues to this day, as The New York Times reported.
In an Aug. 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that was circulated within the Obama administration, intelligence analysts predicted that the U.S.'s intervention in Syria would lead to the creation of an Islamic State, but concluded that this was exactly what the administration wanted, as it would work in their favor by weakening the Assad regime even more, as HNGN previously reported. Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former head of the DIA during the time the report was written, suggested in a recent Al Jazeera interview that the administration made a conscious decision to purposefully ignore the DIA report, rather than simply turn a blind eye or look the other way.
"I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision," Flynn said.
And now many migrants are fleeing those U.S.-created groups fighting to overthrow Assad.
"Assad may not be a nice guy," Paul wrote on his website, "but the forces that have been unleashed to overthrow him seem to be much worse and far more dangerous. No wonder people are so desperate to leave Syria ... As often happens when there is blowback from bad foreign policy, the same people who created the problem think they have a right to tell us how to fix it - while never admitting their fault in the first place."
He told Fox: "I think the more we are involved the more chaos there is. [There have] been periods of time in the history of that area where Christians and Jews and Muslims lived peacefully together. It's when outsiders come in and when there is a crusade from the Europeans and the Americans that come in and take over."