We pay a lot of lip service to the importance of the truth. The Gospel of John states the truth will set you free. Yet century after century the west refuses to accept its role as the villains in the whole middle east, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan debacle.
Until we accept the truth that we are the cause of the bloodshed in that part of the world the deaths and suffering will go on forever. As Al Capp the cartoonist once wrote during the Vietnam war “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.”
In my studies of British and Western Imperialism back in my university days in the 1970s it became clear that profit absorbed imperialists began as early as the 15th century with rise of the modern nation-state to fan out and stake out territories far, far from home in order to exploit its resources, its people and its wealth. In the process they set up exploitative and oppressive regimes from North Africa, the Middle East, India to Hong Kong. From China to the Cape of Good Hope, Central Africa, Western Africa; from Egypt to Morocco, From Mexico to Panama to Cuba, Colombia, to Argentina to Ireland, to Peru and Brazil, Chile and the Pacific Ocean Islands.
In a sense the pre-modern nation-state era of the Crusades and indeed the Roman and Hellenistic Empires dating to Before Christ were also exercises in imperialism. Maybe that is where the roots of our current embracing of imperialism in 2015 has its origins.
From those early days through the mercantile early Post Columbus empires of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries grew the hyper nationalistic, jingoistic 19th century imperialism that was enhanced by new speedier more impregnable warships the dreadnoughts that ramped up the arms race and competition for colonies as we entered a race for ever more resources such as oil and minerals to feed the increasingly mechanized western nations. The middle east was front and centre of our western imperialistic tendencies. World War 1 and its aftermath let to protectorates and mandates divided up between Britain and France and those imperialist moves further muddled the middle east in the 1920s and 1930s.
In the horrific aftermath of WWII,the bloodiest war among battling imperialisms The Allies vs. the Axis we saw hopeful signs that the old destructive ways were collapsing in the 1945-1975 era. Finally after two centuries of exploitation Britain withdrew from India and Pakistan and Africa. The French imperialist outposts were being liberated too though some were bloody awful carnage like Algeria and Vietnam. Other soon to be liberated countries, the Belgian Congo and Zimbabwe also went through bloody wars of liberation and retribution.
South Africa under the skillful and leadership of the inspiring Nelson Mandela was able to avoid the blood excesses of post colonial nations by holding a truth and reconciliation process that enabled South Africans to speak the truth about horrors on both sides and reconcile the nation.
We thought imperialism had been vanquished to the scrap-heap of history…but not so fast.. a sharp right-wing militaristic agenda swept into power under the likes of Margaret Thatcher, the baby milk snatcher in Britain and Ronald “We are Ready to Bomb Moscow” Reagan in the U.S., followed by the idiotic President George W. Bush.
The collapse of the old Soviet Union has given a sharp rise to a renaissance of Western Imperialism focused on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria,
The ill-considered and disgraceful Al Qaeda attack on New York’s Twin Towers gave the US and the west the cover to re-institute hardcore imperialism worst than what was seen in the jingoistic period leading up to WWI and WW2.
Two wrongs never lead to anything more than a proliferation of wrongs on all sides of the combatants. The wrong of the attack on the Twin Towers keeps on spawning wrong-headed action that has resulted in two fronted wars for the U.S. for the last 15 years in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The old imperialism never really left…it just has manifested itself now into a battle between the civilized west, which apparently can still consume tonnes of Kentucky Fried Chicken, despite sickening bombing raids over those countries that have killed 10s of thousand if not more innocent civilians. And yet we recoil in horror when the evening news carries a story about a single American, Westerner, Japanese citizen being beheaded.
I am not justifying either butchery…but lets be fair and see western butchery for what it is. What we have in play is a kick me I’ll kick you…gauge my eyes…I will gouge your eyes mentality between the west and the jihadis.
Personally I believe our religious leaders of all stripes need to convene a global truth and reconciliation processes where the sins both sides of the latest imperialistic battles are being fought..the west and the jihadist both need to confess their sins and wrongdoings and move to reconciliation.
Perhaps Reverend Desmond Tutu of South African can get the ball rolling. Maybe Pope Francis I with all his enthusiasm for doing the right thing is the man. Maybe there is an Imam or Rabbi who might stand up and take the lead in getting a Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up…maybe the United Nations.
Religious institutions still have not fully recovered from the shame and stain of sitting idle and doing nothing when the Allies and the Nazis were destroying civilization among them…The Pope sat on his rosary and dithered… the Lutherans cowed into fear or admiration of Hitler did nothing. The Anglicans, the Orthodox did nothing. Exceptions of gallantry of course can be found.
My point is can religious leaders afford to again sit around and let the slaughter continue like their predecessors did it WW2?
Get up off your ass and set up a Truth and Reconciliation Process now…bringing all parties together to end the insane war between the West and the Jihadis.
It was refreshing to listen to Professor Paul Rogers from Bradford University describe the battle 40 year war in Iraq-Afghanistan-Syria- Libya as the latest manifestation of western imperialism…what purpose do western nation have being so far from their borders? Western nations will never be perceived as liberators as Professor Rogers eloquently states on CBC’s Sunday Edition with Michael Enright. Yes you may have enclaves of local war lords using the west for armaments but as was seen after the Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan..the US was as despised or more than the Soviets…it is an endless war that the west seems bent on fighting for ever…because war is profitable.
Here is Professor Rogers interview with Michael Enright http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/valentina-tso-the-myth-of-military-intervention-online-namesake-writing-in-the-margins-being-responsible-1.3027812/does-military-intervention-in-the-middle-east-ever-work-1.3027866