“Humanitarian intervention?” Imperialism still stinks, Part 4

Final in the series by guest author Dr. Dahlia Wasfi

Gaza libera. Free Palestine

Photo from WikiMedia Commons, used under CC Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The people of lands whose riches are coveted by imperial powers must endure an almost constant battle among those vying for external control. In addition, they must bear the burden of indigenous struggle for independence. Such is the history of much of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Such is the root of much of the conflict in the Middle East today.

The colonial state of Israel continues to expand its borders with illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israeli government maps suggest planned annexation of the majority of this land. Through their expulsion from the 1940s through today, Palestinians remain the largest refugee population in the world.

Countries like Iraq, Libya, and Syria finally gained their independence from foreign powers and took control of their oil industries. Along with Iran (following the Islamic revolution in 1979), these three countries were the major forces countering Western hegemony in the region. But those Western powers—and their multinational corporations—want their profitable colonial relationship back.

In the early 20th century, to honor “the spirit of the age” of national independence[1], the imperialists called their colonial possessions “mandates.” Now in the early 21st century, imperialists—armed with far more advanced weapons technologies—call their re-domination of these countries “humanitarian intervention for regime change.” These imperialists  claim that we must save the indigenous people in the Middle East from their states, in particular, from the use of weapons of mass destruction by local powers.

Those claims proved false in Iraq and remain unproven in Syria. In Iraq and Libya, the people are much worse off today than before our “humanitarian interventions” via military assault. Bombing raids and the subsequent replacement of secular states with theocracies have resulted in death, destruction, and further loss of freedoms for the survivors. As Western oil companies and military industries reap the profits, the parasitic colonial relationships are re-established.

No matter what euphemism our government uses for its policy, it’s still imperialism. And it still stinks.

[1] Owen, Roger. “State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, 3rd Edition.” Routledge, New York. 2004. p.6


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4 Responses to “Humanitarian intervention?” Imperialism still stinks, Part 4

  1. Dahlia Wasfi says:

    Here are some thoughts on the escalating (thanks to Western powers) crisis in Syria from Hans von Sponeck, Former UN Assistant Secretary General & UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
    “Syria Is Not”

  2. Ellie says:

    Interesting post and important connection to modern-day imperialism. How disturbing that we can reflect on “the age of imperialism” of the 18th-20th centuries with a critical eye, but we cannot make a connection to the motives behind our “humanitarian interventions” of today. It makes me sick to think that these “parasitic colonial relationships” are still driving our economy.

  3. Gold Dust Twin says:

    “”Humanitarian intervention” goes back to the beginnings of US history, only they didn’t use that term when foreign settlers little by little stole this country, with considerable violence, from the native people. Perhaps the settlers considered it a kindness to establish reservations for the evictees rather than kill them all, but it’s unlikely that the people forced to re-settle viewed the change in such a benign light. I think by today’s terms, the general treatment of the native people would be considered a genocide, and the survivors and their descendants have never been able to recover fully.

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