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Imperialism in liberals' clothing

By Paul D'Amato | May 12, 2006 | Page 9

WHEN A wolf attacks one farm, breaks into the coop, and eats the chickens, no sane person demands that the wolf move to another farm where it can cause more mischief.

The Catholic Church is notorious for quietly moving priests implicated in child molestation cases to other parishes. The public rightly looks upon this behavior--enabling molesters to expand their pool of available victims--as a scandal and an abomination.

Yet this is precisely the kind of logic the "movement" for U.S. intervention in Darfur presents to us. The U.S. is the worst serial invader, the most frequent launcher of overseas wars, of any nation on the planet, responsible for millions of deaths. It is not only a wolf; it is the biggest, baddest wolf on the planet.

It would be tempting to think that the proponents of a U.S. military intervention in Darfur were simply duped by the sheep's clothing that the U.S. wolf drapes around itself. No doubt, some participants in the recent spate of protests to intervene in Darfur are confused by phrases like "humanitarian intervention," "alleviating suffering" and "the goodwill and compassion of the United States" that are used in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.

Perhaps they aren't aware of the fact that the U.S. is responsible for far more deaths in Iraq in the past 16 years--a million Iraqis as a result of the 13 years of sanctions alone--than the number of Sudanese who have died in what the U.S. calls "genocide" in Darfur--estimated around 200,000. If they were aware of that fact, surely they would not ask the nation responsible for mass murder in one country to prevent it in another.

Perhaps they are not aware of the fact that the Clinton administration in 1998 bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, based on questionable intelligence that it was making chemical weapons for al-Qaeda.

The plant made half Sudan's pharmaceutical supplies. The destroyed vaccines could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths, according the estimates of the Near East Foundation and the Harvard International Review.

The U.S. intervened in the Balkans conflict with the stated aim of preventing "ethnic cleansing," but it offered military and logistical support to the single biggest act of ethnic cleansing during the entire conflict--the Croatian army's expulsion of 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina.

The cynical manipulation of humanitarianism in the pursuit of imperialist interests dates back to the era of colonialism.

King Leopold of Belgium plundered the Congo of its rubber and murdered, starved or worked to death millions of Africans to get it (a fact carefully documented by historian Adam Hochschild). Leopold claimed he wanted the Congo in order to rid Africa of slavery, and make "lasting and disinterested services to the cause of progress."

The rise of the new "humanitarian intervention" coincided with the end of the Cold War, when unparalleled U.S. military power was seeking new justifications for its use. Its motives--to perpetuate itself as the world's hegemonic power--hadn't changed. But it needed a new template with which to pursue its strategic goals.

Liberal imperialism came to the rescue. Under the guise of humanitarianism, the Clinton administration intervened militarily more times than all of the three previous administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder combined.

September 11 permitted the American wolf to remove the sheep's coat and bare its fangs more openly--such was the meaning of the new Bush doctrine of unilateral intervention and perpetual "war on terror." The failures in Iraq, however, call for humanitarianism to be taken back off the shelf and redeployed by the U.S. ruling class.

In the 1990s, "humanitarian intervention" was promoted primarily by liberals. This time, its advocates also include right-wing evangelicals, Zionists and other assorted friends of suffering humanity.

What they all have in common is this: Instead of putting the wolf to sleep, they want to anesthetize its victims.

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