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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Some things never change

Robert Cooper is a senior serving British diplomat. For more information on Cooper, see here. It should be noted: "Cooper is said to articulate many of Prime Minister [Tony Blair's] personal opinions on international politics. He continues to argue that Britain should play a more interventionist role in its foreign policy, from Iraq to Africa."

The following is an extract from his essay, "The post-modern state", published in "Reordering the World: the long term implications of September 11" in 2002:

"What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.

"Postmodern imperialism takes two forms. First there is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. This is usually operated by an international consortium through International Financial Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank - it is characteristic of the new imperialism that it is multilateral. These institutions provide help to states wishing to find their way back into the global economy and into the virtuous circle of investment and prosperity. In return they make demands which, they hope, address the political and economic failures that have contributed to the original need for assistance. Aid theology today increasingly emphasises governance. If states wish to benefit, they must open themselves up to the interference of international organisations and foreign states (just as, for different reasons, the postmodern world has also opened itself up.)

"The second form of postmodern imperialism might be called the imperialism of neighbours. Instability in your neighbourhood poses threats which no state can ignore. Misgovernment, ethnic violence and crime in the Balkans poses a threat to Europe. The response has been to create something like a voluntary UN protectorate in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is no surprise that in both cases the High Representative is European. Europe provides most of the aid that keeps Bosnia and Kosovo running and most of the soldiers (though the US presence is an indispensable stabilising factor). In a further unprecedented move, the EU has offered unilateral free-market access to all the countries of the former Yugoslavia for all products including most agricultural produce. It is not just soldiers that come from the international community; it is police, judges, prison officers, central bankers and others. Elections are organised and monitored by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Local police are financed and trained by the UN. As auxiliaries to this effort - in many areas indispensable to it - are over a hundred NGOs."

Such delusions - racist, colonial and arrogant - are commonplace in today's supposedly enlightened elites. Why not a world where an essay includes this phrase: "What is needed today then is a total end to imperialism, a world based on human rights and shared goals."

5 Comments:

Blogger Shabadoo said...

I'm not quite sure what you're offended by, except for the dirty "I" word. The whole human rights/shared goals is fine, but unrealistic: there will always be bad guys, tyrants, human rights abusers, bad neighbours, etc. This seems to me like a fairly orderly way of dealing with this, through the UN no less, which I know you are a big fan of. And the British, certainly, were some of the best imperial administrators going, and much of Africa's current crisis stems from their having left too soon.

Anyway, I'm not sure we should have a world where we all share the same goals...sounds awfully boring and totalitarian to me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 1:40:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

"And the British, certainly, were some of the best imperial administrators going, and much of Africa's current crisis stems from their having left too soon."

I'm sure many Africans share that view.

The world most certainly doesn't have the same goals, but perhaps, and only perhaps, certain goals can be agreed upon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 1:57:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

I can't find the link now because it's behind their silly TimesSelect firewall, but I think it was David Brooks who had a very powerful column in the NY Times a few months ago from Zimbabwe where black Africans were reminiscing about the good old days of the British administration, and how there was fair rule of law and food on the table.

For more on the independence movement and its aftermath, check out Martin Meredith's new The State of Africa.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 3:24:00 pm  
Blogger Nadia said...

Shabadoo wrote “And the British, certainly, were some of the best imperial administrators going, and much of Africa's current crisis stems from their having left too soon.”

And

“NY Times a few months ago from Zimbabwe where black Africans were reminiscing about the good old days of the British administration, and how there was fair rule of law and food on the table.”

shabadoo, I have heard Iraqis who say it was better under Saddam with regards to no car bombs it does not mean they want him back. A Russian friend of mine said "it was better under communism" when talking about having more and more poor people now, but she does not want it back either she is just reflecting that now we have some problems we did not have before. It is just that some things were indeed better but we don't need to go backwards to get the good things, because with that good thing came a lot of bad terrible things too. I mean see what the British did in Kenya, it was pure terror remember that, I hope you understand what I mean ; )

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 6:16:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

That's a point well made, Nadia.

As for Cooper, I see shades of the white man's burden in his thinking. In short: "Empire is necessary, because some people don't know what's good for them. And empire is ok as long as we are running it."

Nothing new there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 10:39:00 pm  

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