“The definition of Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonisation, by use of military force, or other means.”
So in that context what does that mean in modern 21st century life? When in the past Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan etc, all had their own Empires and were Colonial in nature. Therefore all conquests and wars were in fact true Imperialist Colonialism. These wars were for either the protection of or for the expansion of these same Colonies and Empires.
The First World War was the last real Imperialist war under that old definition. It was for Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Japan and Britain to increase their own Empires. Germany in the east, south and in Africa. Russia in the west, the Dardanelles and the Ottoman Empire. Britain to defend its Empires in sub Saharan Africa and increase its Empire through Arabia, or through the Ottoman Empire. Italy in the Balkans and southern Europe, etc, etc. I will have to write a blog on this at some point. (I have a presentation I show on WW1 and I really need to convert that into a more concise article, possibly.)
This conflict and the scramble to control and carve up the Ottoman Empire, actually created the basis for all the ills in the Middle East today.
The Second World War, although Imperialists in nature was at the end of the day a war primarily against the spread of Fascism. Yes each of the proponents were looking to either increase or protect their Empires. But the overriding motivation was to prevent Nazism from spreading. Each of the allies used this conflict to supplement their control and even increase their Empires. But countries like Britain and France started to lose control over their Colonies. The USA of course was then able to set itself up as the dominant and guiding force within the western alliance.
Since then some wars were purely politically motivated, the Korean war, the Vietnam war and even the “Falklands war”. Korea and Vietnam were to halt the spread of Communism and the Falklands to win Thatcher an election.
All western interventions since then have been much more economic, politically of course when it is designed to destabilise even pseudo socialist countries, or countries not compliant with western outcomes. All latter day interventions have been to destabilise what the NATO allies now view as the common enemy. Enemies that refuse to conform to NATO ideology. These enemies perpetually change on the whim of NATO’s ever changing views.
Originally twelve countries were part in the founding of NATO in 1949: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Then Greece and Turkey in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary joined in 1999. Later Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia joined the alliance. With the Ukraine now being courted as the next strategic ally. It matters not that they have known Nazi/Fascist organisations in power.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was founded in response to the supposed threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true. In fact, the Alliance’s creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.
Most people only ever focused on the first supposed reason for the creation of NATO and if that was its main reason for existence, why is it still in existence when the Soviet Union is no more. Simply because the other main reason for NATO was the drive for greater political integration and the expansion eastwards of the EU. This is true imperialism I suppose, but not an individual countries imperialism, but NATO’s.
The latter day NATO interventions, in actuality are not imperialist in the old meaning but more economical. They have more to do with increasing corporate control and corporate profit than actually expanding an empire. These new empires are not owned and fought over by countries, but are owned and fought over by global corporations. For global control of the natural resources, control of the Government and control of the people. Or Monopoly Capitalism. If any government, whether “democratically” elected or not, is viewed by NATO as an enemy, or will not conform to NATO, then it is fair game for plunder.
So who are the imperialists here and now? It must be the original NATO alliance. It must be the expanded NATO allied countries, who all had and controlled their own empires at one point. Who in the end had to relinquish control of these empires. Relinquish day to day control yes, but not readily relinquish the control of the resources or the political outlook of the individual “freed” countries.
We on the left are far too quick to jump to the past and class every global action as imperialism and look to our historical philosophers for answers. Forgetting that their own first hand philosophies were based on a reality of actual empires and the imperialism that was in existence as a real force at the time.
This is our problem. Today our rulers are not involved in the expansion of individual Empires, but are more concerned with expanding the EU and NATO control over all areas and expanding the concept of the EU. That is why NATO and soon the EU’s borders will be as far east as the Ukraine. It is not imperialism off old where you invade and conquer. It is about destabilising a country and then supporting whatever faction suites your particular agenda at the time, even when that faction is highly suspect politically.
NATO and its construct the EU are the ultimate Imperialist force today. Both are linked to a global corporate takeover. Both are a result of the latent Neo-Liberal Capitalist construct that was dormant in the 40’s and 50’s, but was given vent in the 70’s and 80’s. The current trade deals, TTiP, CETA, TPP etc are all part of this Imperialism. Imperialism for corporate control over all nations.
When we talk of Imperialism today we need to be talking about NATO and the EU in the same breath. It is not American, British, European or any other nations Imperialism, it is a combined “western NATO” Imperialism.