Yesterday’s post – ‘The White Man’s Truth’ – provided some good discussion and debate. Terms like colonialism, imperialism and post-colonialism were all introduced and as one commentator put it, “I am well aware of how influential post-colonialism is in Western (and Eastern, from the opposite direction) academic thought. But it's simply the wrong framework.”
I wasn’t attempting to create any framework for academic thought. Without going into a deep academic analysis, I was attempting to make the point that the Middle East has long been, and remains today, a power-playground for many outside powers and for many different reasons. The Crusades, the rule of the Ottoman Empire and the British and French Mandates are good examples. And out of the French and British mandates came the carving up of their respective mandate areas into the countries we have today in the Middle East, a carving up which was more geared to solidifying their respective spheres of influence than anything else.
Unfortunately perhaps for the residents of the Middle East, that area has long been and continues to be one of the most strategically vital areas of the world for other people.
Once that importance was primarily due to its geographic location between Europe and Asia and since the discovery of oil obviously a vital economic dimension was added. And maybe since Alexander the Great, the people using the Middle East as their strategic playground have largely been Western powers. And using the Middle East as this ‘power-playground’ did not stop with the end of the British and French mandates and the establishment of ‘independent’ countries but clearly continues to this very day.
Whether it was colonialism, neo-colonialism or imperialism at work doesn’t change the fact that there may be no area in the world which has been so long, so continuously, so intensely and so violently played like a fiddle, again, largely by Western powers.
And for the fans of definitions, here are some. Take a look at them and I think you can recognize that these dynamics are still very much at work today in the Middle East. And these kinds of games just aren’t suited to the healthy and normal development of an indigenous people’s destiny of rightful self-determination. Hence one should not be surprised at the complex end result of great tension, violence and animosity as we witness today. One could say that we are finally being presented the bill for centuries of intensive use of the playground.
Control by one power over a dependent area or people. The purposes of colonialism include economic exploitation of the colony's natural resources, creation of new markets for the colonizer, and extension of the colonizer's way of life beyond its national borders.
A policy whereby a major power uses economic and political means to perpetuate or extend its influence over underdeveloped nations or areas.
State policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas.