intervention" is the latest brand name for imperialism as it
begins a return to respectability
28th June 1999 By
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In Newsweek last week Tony Blair described the "new moral crusade"
that is to follow NATO's attack on Yugoslavia. "We now have
a chance to build a new internationalism based on values and the
rule of law," he wrote. George Robertson was more blunt. The
"Rubicon has been crossed", he said, paving the way for
the end of the UN charter that protects the sovereignty of nations.
Robin Cook chimed in, making threats towards "governments using
aggression against their own people". The warning did not apply
to the government of Turkey, a NATO member, whose aggression against
its own people has left 3,000 Kurdish villages ethnically cleansed,
30,000 people dead and three million refugees. Atrocities committed
by the authorities in Indonesia, Israel, Colombia and other countries
where western "interests" are in safe hands will also
Those who recognize the
standard hypocrisy will easily translate the euphemisms. In these
days of political disorientation, translation is all important;
for imperialism is not part of the modern lexicon in the west. In
the best Stalinist tradition, it no longer exists. What western
power does is always benevolent. Blair can spout his breathtaking
drivel about internationalism and morality while zealously enforcing
genocidal sanctions that kill 4,000 Iraqi infants every month, and
the connection is seldom made. NATO's aggressive expansion into
eastern Europe, the Balkans and the oil-rich Caucasus, attended
by a $22 billion Anglo-American arms bazaar, is unworthy of mainstream
This is understandable.
Since fascism expounded its notions of racial superiority, the imperial
"civilizing mission" has had a bad name. Since the end
of the cold war, however, the economic and political crises in the
developing world, precipitated by debt and the disarray of the liberation
movements, have served as retrospective justification for imperialism.
Although the word remains unspeakable, the old imperial project's
return journey to respectability has begun. New brand names have
been market tested. "Humanitarian intervention" is the
latest to satisfy the criterion of doing what you like where you
like, as long as you are strong enough. The killing or maiming of
10,000 innocent civilians in Serbia and Kosovo by a bombing machine
representing two-thirds of the world's military power and the clear
provocation of the "entirely predictable" Serb atrocities
- all of it avoidable, since Slobodan Milosevic had agreed in effect
to give up Kosovo six weeks before the bombing began - is called
a "moral victory". George Orwell could not better it.
The ideological climate
and disorientation among those on the liberal left, created by the
western powers' hijacking of "human rights", is especially
dangerous. The other day Mikhail Gorbachev sought to interrupt the
victory celebrations with a speech in which he warned that NATO's
assault on Yugoslavia had given impetus to a new global nuclear
arms race. He said: "Smaller countries - among them 31 'threshold'
states capable of developing nuclear weapons - are looking to their
own security with growing trepidation. They are thinking they must
have absolute weapons to be able to defend themselves, or to retaliate
if they are subjected to similar treatment."
Under Blair's "internationalism"
any country can be declared a "rogue state" and attacked
by the US and Britain, with or without NATO. Read the NATO and US
planning literature; it is all on the record. There is a Pentagon
strategy called "offensive counter-proliferation", which
means that, if the Americans cannot prevent a "rogue"
country developing and building types of weapons of which they disapprove,
they may well nuke it. North Korea is a likely candidate, allowing
Washington to settle a historical score.