The Case for Colonialism

“Daniel Kruger [The Spectator]says that we should not be frightened of being ‘imperialist’. It is the job of the West to plant the seed of liberty in lands now ruled by despots.” Kruger spins his argument from the black and white threads of unilateralism (power) and multilateralism (collaboration and negotiation). Defending the “moral superiority” of the unilateralists (lead by the U.S. and U.K.) and their manifest destiny, i.e. “protecting the poor natives and advanced civilization” (Queen Victoria). The argument is for colonialism as humanitarian intervention.

And how is the moral high-ground seized? By claiming that for 19th century Britain, colonialism was a tool for the unilateral abolition of slavery. “The task today for Britain’s imperial heir [the U.S.] is to reverse the debilitating effects of socialism and tyranny in the developing world” and to “plant the seeds of liberty”. [emphases added]

It looks as if the “seeds” will be planted in the bombed-out terrain of Iraq largely by U.S. corporations. As Elizabeth Becker reported in the NYTimes yesterday, “Bush administration plans for the rebuilding of Iraq call for private American corporations to undertake much of the work, with the United Nations development agencies and other multilateral organizations sidelined, according to administration officials who have seen confidential documents outlining the plans. With the administration offering $1.5 billion in work to private companies and just $50 million to American aid groups like Save the Children, the plan will leave out many large international organizations.” And one of the companies from which bids are being privately solicited is Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Company, which Vice President Dick Cheney once led.

But, of course, all of this is “morally justified” once you’ve reaffirmed your commitment to colonialism.

Daniel Kruger, in case you don’t know, is Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, a British think-tank founded by Margaret Thatcher in 1974.

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