Monday, July 26, 2010

Document leaks and Neo-Colonialism. . . .

There are already numerous condemnations of yesterday's leaks of documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, including one bizarre Liberal blogger calling for the death penalty. Of course how one feels about the leaks will largely reflect how one feels about the war. Only those with the most blind acceptance of the Western spin on the war could possibly talk about the death-penalty regarding such leaks. The Western spin is really pretty  simple and is very similar to the kinds of spin that the West has been using since the beginning of the era of colonialism with a few particulars for time and place. If you buy this story you essentially believe that the Western nations were essentially 'innocent' victims of a set of more or less crazy Muslim fundamentalists (the so-called Taliban) who, so the West would have us believe, were operating out of Afghanistan. According to this view, the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan were part of a concerted effort to undermine these Muslim organizations who have little more against Western nations than "hating our freedoms."

This view has as little to do with recent events than the "white-man's burden" of 'spreading religion and civilization to ignorant heathens' had to do with the real motivations of Western colonialism. First of all to accept the idea of an innocent West being the target or victim of an irrational radical Muslim movement is to ignore centuries of history. Whether one agrees with their reasons or not, one cannot ignore that Arabs and Muslims have much to be chagrined about when it comes to Western actions in various Muslim regions. If one payed close attention to the events immediately following the events of 911 you could discern the real political issues that were at stake. When Bin Laden was seen on video taking credit for the tragic events in NYC he gave three primary reasons for these events. These reasons were 1. the sanctions that the West used against Iraq in the 1990s which by all independent reports were responsible for literally hundreds of thousands of children. 2. The continued presence of Western military forces in Saudi Arabia, and 3. The brutality and hypocrisy with which the Palestinians have been treated by Western Nations. Regardless of one's political viewpoint, these are legitimate political concerns which, regardless of their source, need to be treated seriously. This does not justify the events of 911, but it does cast considerable doubt on the Western image of Bin Laden as nothing but a mad religious fanatic hell-bent on the destruction of the West simply because he hates modern social democracy. Furthermore, there were in fact few, or even no, genuine 'terrorist' camps in Afghanistan. Rural Pakistan was, and continues to be, the real location of most of the so-called 'terrorist' organizations about which the West professed to be concerned.

The Western nations later replaced their 'terrorist' camps arguments with talk of altruistic concerns about the people of Afghanistan. But if one takes a realistic political (that is to say 'real politik') viewpoint, one can hardly be fooled by all the spin concerning the Western motivations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And if one had been paying attention in the nineties one would know that men like Dick Cheney had long made plans for consolidating US power and influence in the Middle East and other geo-politically sensitive areas. To buy into talk of altruism or a defense of justice and democracy on the part of the West seems to me to be hopelessly naive. Though the altruistic spin is still prevalent in the days of neo-colonialism as it once was with real colonialism, it is just as specious. As with most, if not all, wars Afghanistan and Iraq are about money and power. The war in Iraq is now the most expensive war ever waged and much of the money spent has been diverted to large Western corporations. Billions of dollars of average tax-payers' money has been gathered and diverted to arms makers and dealers as well as other kinds of corporations. Other monies have been spent (largely in untraceable cash) buying support from warlords (both in Afghanistan and Iraq)  for Western interests. This support is much wider than it once was but also as shallow as the stacks of cash which will eventually run out. And despite the talk of 7% more girls going to school in Afghanistan, all the Western efforts in that country have done is to prop up a dubious government which has little or no democratic legitimacy and which continues to sponsor laws such as the death-penalty for homosexuality. While propping up the Afghan dictatorship (run by Pro-Western politicians and self-interested war-lords) the West continues to support numerous other dictatorships in the region where women have few or no legal rights and where the governments don't even go through the motions of 'democracy.' The existence of a perpetual enemy (a la  1984) which justifies not only the extension of Western power and the diversion of government funds from average people to powerful corporations, are the real motivations of these wars. If the West had really been interested in peace and the living conditions of people in the region they would have used a small portion of the monies spent in those wars and constructed a viable and prosperous Palestinian State as well as bringing greater democracy to other close Western allies.

With these issues in mind, I see the recent document leaks as part of an effort to lay bare the actions of governments engaged in a neo-colonial effort to further dominate a region where oil plays a central role in nation building. Just as anti-colonialists like Gandhi and Franz Fanon were engaged in concerted efforts to expose the real motivations of Western Colonialism, people must now engage in an effort to expose the real motivations behind the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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