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Brussels attacks are the latest blowback against Western regime change, says Jean Bricmont, author of Humanitarian Imperialism

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: I’m Jaisal Noor for the Real News Network. It was scenes of panic as passengers fled through dust and debris ensued after a double bomb attack at Brussels’ airport on Tuesday. Passengers described the moments after the attack, part of two attacks on the Belgian capital, which left at least 34 people dead. SPEAKER: I just went to the toilet, and then, like, after five minutes I heard an explosion. And all the ceilings is coming down. And then I just go under the sink, and in the second explosion went and then everything is dark. And I see, when I go out, I see all the, a lot of people with blood. And I just go, just run out of the airport. And all the building, there is like, it’s like chaos there. INTERVIEWER: What was your feeling at that moment? SPEAKER: I’m so scared. I feel like it’s the end of the world. NOOR: Brussels airport said it canceled all flights, and the complex had been evacuated, and trains to the airport had been stopped. Passengers were taken to coaches from the terminal that would remove them to a secure area. Just minutes before the interview, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks. And police are seeking help identifying at least one potential suspect. Well, now joining us from Paris, France to discuss this is Jean Bricmont. Jean is the author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. Thanks so much for joining us. JEAN BRICMONT: Thank you. NOOR: So you’re joining us from Paris today, but you’re based in Brussels. Many are asking, why Brussels? The blast today occurred just four days after the arrest in Brussels of a suspected participant in November militant attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. BRICMONT: Well, I don’t know if it has anything to do, because they probably have planned these things in advance. And don’t forget that the guy who was arrested somehow defected. So I don’t know if there is any direct link. But of course, Brussels is the capital [inaud.]. That’s where the attack was, very close to the European parliament and European institutions, and also, you know, the airport is of course international. There are American businesses there. I mean, it’s a symbolic attack like the 9/11 was. I’m surprised [inaud.] to attack the Belgian government were [long] for some time that they would be attacked. So I’m not sure it’s linked to this arrest, this recent arrest. But of course, I don’t know. This is for the police to say. I’m not interested so much in that, but in the deep roots of the country that there is between us and the people who attack us. NOOR: So are people in Europe connecting the dots between Western policy in the Middle East, which helped sort of create the conditions for this type of extremism, for these types of attacks? BRICMONT: I think it depends. I don’t think there is much, you know, people who are interested in politics and getting their news outside of the mainstream media, connect the dots. But of course, the mainstream media don’t connect the dots very much. But you see, the dots are very complicated. Because the people who are attacking us are people whom we are actually helping, Libya and Syria. The foreign minister of France, Fabius, has said that, you know, I must have, we’re doing a good job in Syria by fighting Assad. We have been using these people to attack governments that we did not like, but that had done absolutely nothing to us. The government of Syria expressed its sympathies for the people in Brussels. And they have said repeatedly that if we play with terrorists, that’s going to backfire, that’s going to come on us now. And we did not listen to them. They were willing to give us to the French government, for example, names of French terrorists in Syria, and the French government declined this list because they didn’t want to collaborate with the Syrian government. I mean, at some point you’re seeing there’s a sort of an alliance, a strange alliance, between the neoconservative and the human rights people who, in the name of human rights, want to wage war on certain governments. But of course, it’s very selective. They say they want to protect people in Benghazi, but then let us protect people in [inaud.] in Libya, which was destroyed by NATO. They have not protected the Syrians who are being killed and fled from the terrorists in Libya. They are not protecting the people in Bahrain. They are not protecting the people in Yemen. It’s extremely selective. But nevertheless, this has been our policy. But the policy backfires just the same way the Taliban–you see, the Americans supported the [inaud.] the Taliban, Afghanistan, against the Soviet Union, and then it led eventually to al-Qaeda and 9/11. You see, policies backfire. And then if you go before the war, before World War II, there was a lot of sympathy for, you know, for Hitler in his fight against communism. And when, eventually when there was the war on the Soviet Union, they had to align with the Soviet Union against Hitler. And they began enemies of the Soviet Union after the war. I mean, these alliances are, you know, very–I mean, when you ally yourself with people who are not real allies, like the Islamists in the Islamic world, in order to overthrow secular governments, which are viewed as hostile to us or hostile to Israel, then you, you can have backlashes that are totally unexpected. But I think it’s not only the invasion of Iraq. It’s also the policy afterwards. It’s not just the–I mean, the policy has been very complicated. We help the Islamists and we’ve fought Islamists. The problem that the only people would actually be on our side actually fighting these terrorists are the governments of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah. And of course, Russia, to a certain extent. And we don’t want to talk to them. I mean, that seems to be absurd. And eventually, I think we are going to change our policies, because we have to. I mean, because we realize that our policy is totally suicidal. NOOR: Yes, so you’re saying essentially the U.S. and the West are supporting chaos, are supporting regimes that oppress their own people as well. BRICMONT: It’s not just that. They’re also supporting regime change. But the problem–I mean, this business about a regime that oppress their own people is complicated. This report, and sometimes, sometimes they use this argument in order to overthrow them. It’s a bit more complicated than that. But the backfire, I mean, it seems to me that one has to come back to more realistic policy, where we have to distinguish between our friends and our enemies. I mean, the government of Syria, for example, is not our enemy. The government of Russia is not our enemy, the government of Iran is not our enemy. And whatever quarrels they may have with Israel is none of our business. I mean, we should realize that, you know, the Islamists are our enemies. And we should not refuse the help of [inaud.] who help us, you know, in the [inaud.]. After all, we don’t care about human rights when we ally ourselves with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. So the problem is really to distinguish between our real friends and our real enemies. NOOR: Now, what sort of impact–. BRICMONT: [Doesn’t] seem to be–I mean, the problem of chaos, the chaos is there, we have to stop it somewhere. I mean, it’s too late to say we shouldn’t, I mean, [maybe in] Iraq that’s true. But we did. And now we are in a new situation. And I think it seems to be that there are further interventions that have not been done in the name of the war on terror, but in the name of human rights, namely Libya and Syria, have only made the situation even worse. NOOR: And so, I wanted to ask you, is this going to strengthen the far right, and you know, right-wing political parties in Europe. Obviously the refugee crisis is a major issue in Europe right now. BRICMONT: Yes. Of course it’s going to strengthen them. But of course, you see, the problem is that almost the entire–when there was a war in Libya, for example, there was a vote in the Belgian [inaud.] defense. It was absolutely unanimous in favor of the war, which means that the far right and the [inaud.] there was nothing to the left of the Greens then, they voted all for the war. I mean, there was no dissent. So there’s complete unanimity in the political class, in the media and so on, in favor of this military intervention. I participated in many debates about the Syrian rebellion. There was for the Syrian rebellion, there had been calling, even in France, there had been calling for intervention in Libya. I mean, given this policy, they have got the same people now say you have to welcome the refugees. But the people who didn’t want that intervention in the first place will say, why do we have to welcome the refugees? Why is it our fault, why is it our business? And the left has followed the policy which I think is completely suicidal, because they [inaud.] talk in holistic terms about what the effects are, were going to be of their policies. And the policy of welcoming the refugees, I’m all for welcoming the refugees, but you must realize that at this point it’s utterly impossible, and you try to impose it again by using international treaties and so on, which were violated in the humanitarian wars, but now you invoke these treaties that’s going to make a big rise for the far right, is an alternative to that, because people don’t want it. And they never want it for [inaud.] intervention. You see, there is a problem of this well-meaning left to think that they are going to solve all the problems of the world, and they’re going to solve them by what, by force. Not by negotiations, but by strengthening in the end, you know, the CIA and the United States, because these are the only strength that we have, or maybe some bonding or something. And that’s a total mistake. But this mistake has been prevalent in the left. And by left I mean the government of left, the far left, everyone. The Greens. I mean, they were the more adamant for humanitarian wars. There’s been a huge mistake, and we have to rethink everything. And of course, there’s going to be a big price. The refugees are going to be [inaud.], people of migrant immigration are going to, you know, people of migrant origin will pay a big price, that’s certainly true. But then we [inaud.] may before, one has to think about what one does. NOOR: I want to thank you so much for joining us. BRICMONT: Thank you very much. NOOR: Thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.


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Jean Bricmont is the author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. He is also a mathematical and statistical physicist at the University of Louvain, and he is the co-author of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science.