Sunday, June 8, 2008

Separatism and Empire Building in the 21st Century

Throughout modern imperial history, ‘Divide and Conquer’ has been the essential ingredient in allowing relatively small and resource-poor European countries to conquer nations vastly larger in size and populations and richer in natural resources.

A Great Article
By Professor James Petras

"Introduction: The Historical Context

It is said that for every British officer in India, there were fifty Sikhs, Gurkhas, Muslims and Hindus in the British Colonial Army. The European conquest of Africa and Asia was directed by white officers, fought by black, brown and yellow soldiers so that white capital could exploit colored workers and peasants. Regional, ethnic, religious, clan, tribal, community, village and other differences were politicized and exploited allowing imperial armies to conquer warring peoples. In recent decades, the US empire builders have become the grand masters of ‘divide and conquer’ strategies throughout the world. By the 1970’s, the CIA made a turn from promoting the dubious virtues of capitalism and democracy, to linking up with, financing and directing, religious, ethnic and regional elites against national regimes, independent or hostile to US world empire building.

The key to US military empire building follows two principles: direct military invasions and fomenting separatist movements, which can lead to military confrontation.

Twenty-first century empire building has seen the extended practice of both principles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, China (Tibet), Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Somalia, Sudan, Burma and Palestine – any country in which the US cannot secure a stable client regime, it resorts to financing and promoting separatist organizations and leaders using ethnic, religious and regional pretexts.

Consistent with traditional empire building principles, Washington only supports separatists in countries that refuse to submit to imperial domination and opposes separatists who resist the empire and its allies. In other words, imperial ideologues are neither ‘hypocrites’ nor resort to ‘double standards’ (as they are accused by liberal critics) – they publicly uphold the ‘Empire first’ principle as their defining criteria for evaluating separatist movements and granting or denying support. In contrast, many seemingly progressive critics of empire make universal statements in favor of the ‘right to self-determination’ and even extend it to the most rancid, reactionary, imperial-sponsored ‘separatist groups’ with catastrophic results. Independent nations and their people, who oppose US-backed separatists, are bombed to oblivion and charged with ‘war crimes’. People, who oppose the separatists and who reside in the ‘new state’, are killed or driven into exile. The ‘liberated people’ suffer from the tyranny and impoverishment induced by the US-backed separatists and many are forced to immigrate to other countries for economic survival........

Why Separatism?

Empire builders do not always resort to separatist groups, especially when they have clients at the national levels in control of the state. It is only when their power is limited to groups, territorially or ethnically concentrated, that the intelligence operatives resort to and promote ‘separatist’ movements. US backed separatist movements follow a step-by-step process, beginning with calls for ‘greater autonomy’ and ‘decentralization’, essentially tactical moves to gain a local political power base, accumulate economic revenues, repress anti-separatist groups and local ethnic/religious, political minorities with ties to the central government (as in the oppression of the Christian communities in northern Iraq repressed by the Kurdish separatists for their long ties with the Central Baath Party or the Roma of Kosova expelled and killed by the Kosova Albanians because of their support of the Yugoslav federal system). The attempt to forcibly usurp local resources and the ousting of local allies of the central government results in confrontations and conflict with the legitimate power of the central government. It is at this point that external (imperial) support is crucial in mobilizing the mass media to denounce repression of ‘peaceful national movements’ merely ‘exercising their right to self-determination’. Once the imperial mass media propaganda machine touches the noble rhetoric of ‘self-determination’ and ‘autonomy’, ‘decentralization’ and ‘home rule’, the great majority of US and European funded NGO’s jump on board, selectively attacking the government’s effort to maintain a stable unified nation-state. In the name of ‘diversity’ and a ‘pluri-ethnic state’, the Western-bankrolled NGO’s provide a moralist ideological cover to the pro-imperialist separatists......."

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