Thursday, March 20, 2008

FLASHBACK: The Cancer Called Imperialism

Written March 19, 2003

As I begin this writing, the United States government and its allies are beginning a new phase in the 12-year war against the people of Iraq. This is not a new conflict, for U.S. and British warplanes have been patrolling and bombing that nation for over a decade. The first assault in 1991 severely weakened the Iraqi military. 12-years of sanctions have all but crippled the Iraqi people, and now the second Bush regime is going in for the kill. The goal -- to create another colony in Southwest Asia which will provide both an important economic jewel and a crucial strategic outpost for the continued growth of the American empire.

I am deeply saddened by the escalation of this conflict, but I am not surprised. This is merely the growth of the parasitic cancer called Western Imperialism that has been running rampant on this planet for over 600 years. The four nations who lead this fight -- Portugal, Spain, Britain and the United States -- are the most successful Imperialist powers of the last millennium. This Transatlantic Alliance, as they have dubbed themselves, were not only key figures in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, but between them they have attempted to colonize nearly every corner of every continent. Indigenous people all over the globe have been at war with these empires off and on for nearly 1000 years.

It was the Portuguese who first made African slavery big business by developing the triangular trade between Europe and their colonial possessions in West Africa and South America (by the way "Africa" is a Portuguese word). It was the Spanish who slaughtered millions of indigenous people and destroyed entire cultures in what is now called "Latin America".

For many years the sun never set on the British Empire. In fact, British colonialism invented the country of Iraq in 1921. Who can forget the countless genocides suffered by native peoples from Australia to Zimbabwe. You want chemical warfare? What about the Opium Wars that were waged against the people of China? How about the biological warfare used against the indigenous people of North America. The Brits invented "weapons of mass destruction" even if they had other names back then.

Last but not least, the former British colony called the United States of America has outgrown its parent to become the largest monster of them all. The U.S. has used a combination of economic and military muscle to intimidate its friends and enemies alike, all under the guise of "spreading democracy" all over the world.

"Democratization" is the new term being used to replace the less PC "civilization", because it is no longer acceptable to say that the West will "civilize" the savage inhabitants of a foreign land. Fancy terms like "development" and "Western-style democracy" are now the justification for these military invasions. Just as America "liberated" Afghanistan from the Taliban and replaced it with a neo-colonial puppet regime, the same plans of "liberation" are in place for Iraq.

You will get no argument from me that Saddam Hussein, like the Taliban, is a horrific and ruthless leader. Hussein, like the Taliban, Manuel Noriega, Mobutu Sese Seko, and the Shah of Iran to name a few, was a criminal despot put into power and kept in power by the United States government in its attempt to control the resources of a sovereign nation. There would be no need to "disarm Saddam" if the U.S. had not armed him in the first place in their bid to control the region.

U.S. military forces have been in armed combat somewhere in the world nearly every year since 1778. Once again young and mostly poor men and women from America will die while fighting an unjust war designed to steal the natural resources and control the people of another land. We must say a prayer for these young people who will put their lives on the line for what they believe is right. Most of them simply wanted money for college so they could have some hope of escaping the economic despair and disparity in this country. Isn't that ironic? Poor young people will die protecting a system that oppresses them and has for over 200 years. This is truly the American way.

And that brings us to both the final problem and the final solution: The people of the world have always resisted the sword of imperialism. The struggle continues in Cuba, in the Congo, in Venezuela, in Ireland, in Palestine and in Afghanistan. The people of Iraq have vowed to defend their land from those who would replace one dictatorship with another. Now is the time for those of us who have been the beneficiaries (or dupes) of Western imperial greed to stand for justice.

Some have criticized the peace movement for not being focused on Iraq, but humans all over the world have been fighting to keep their lands and their cultures alive for centuries. This is about more than just "peace" in Iraq. The war against Iraq is only a symptom of the cancer of imperialism that has eaten the soul of this planet, and we hold the cure in the palm of our hands.

For too long, the people of the West have gotten rich and fat at the expense of others. If you live in North or South America, your home is on Native American land. The Western economic system was built on the backs of African slaves. Your sugar is harvested, your clothes are sewn and your grapes are picked by workers who are economically enslaved if they are not in physical bondage. Your dollars support global imperialism, slave labor, and genocide every single day. It's time for you to do something about it. Anything! Boycott somebody's corporation. Volunteer in poor communities. Tell your children the truth about the world, but do something!

All people who hope for justice in this world must work together to find the cure for this cancer. This is a late diagnosis, but we still have time to root this sickness out before it destroys us all.

Jonah Nadir Omowale

"I'll never make peace with this world as long
as the enemies of self-determination have the
running of things." - George Jackson

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2 Comments:

Blogger Nadir said...

When this essay was originally circulated on the Internet through several listservs, the main comment of disagreement was that I failed to criticize France for its role as an imperialist power. My thought process at the time was that the four powers I mentioned, Portugal, Spain, the UK and The US, were the primary actors in this newest round of imperialism. France and fellow imperial power Germany were actually engaged in blocking the Iraqi invasion. Of course, we learned later that these actions were primarily for political reasons as well. France and Germany had cut oil deals with Saddam Hussein, and they were not happy about losing out due to the US led invasion.

Five years later, the "Coalition of the Willing" as Bush renamed the "Transatlantic Alliance" has dwindled. American taxpayers and American soldiers have shouldered most of the financial burden of this war. This imperial adventure has contributed to a financial crisis in the United States that reverberates around the world. Thousands of Iraqi people have lost their lives. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Oil prices are above $100 a barrel.

Was it worth it? No way.

March 20, 2008 11:18 AM  
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April 08, 2008 6:55 AM  

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