The new colonialism

Issue 

The new colonialism

As the United Nations holds an international conference on human rights in Vienna, its so-called peacekeeping forces terrorise the population of Mogadishu.

In Australia, there has been no angry government condemnation of the attacks by US/UN forces on unarmed civilians. Nor have the establishment media done more than expose the arbitrary and stupid character of some of the actions — a missile attack against a rusted rocket launcher, for example. Any editorial hesitation was a questioning of tactics only: too much too soon, or too much too late. No-one suggested that the US/UN should not be running Somalia at all, even if they managed to do it better than they have so far.

The Sydney Morning Herald exposed the real view of the powers that be in Australia. Having bombed the city, killed civilians and then declared that nothing was wrong, the UN's best way of winning the confidence of the people, said the SMH in a June 14 editorial, is to "declare Somalia a UN protectorate". Somalia would be "handed back" later, but only to "responsible Somalis". Responsible to Washington, that is.

The SMH editorial writers are not completely stupid. They admit that "there are extremely touchy issues here". Returning to direct colonial rule in Africa is "touchy" indeed.

How the writers must have regretted not being able to use the phrase "white man's burden". Thus they had to use a more clumsy version of the argument that the colonised are colonised for their own good: "A country that can't feed its own people has forfeited temporarily its claim to sovereignty".

Apart from what this argument suggests regarding the starving, destitute and homeless in the ghettos of the United States, it is a lie to

suggest that the Somalis cannot feed themselves if given the opportunity to do so. It took US backing for dictator Siad Barre through years of civil war to destroy Somalia's economic and social structure.

The US, the self-proclaimed "leader" of the newly assertive "international community", spends US$300 billion per year on its war machine. This is double the gross domestic product of all of sub-Saharan Africa in 1988. Can the US government really teach anyone anything about "responsibility"?

What Somalis need today is not a UN protectorate but protection from the UN. Their best chance of rebuilding their society will come if the "international community" restricts itself to providing no-strings-attached humanitarian, educational and development aid — not just handouts of bags of flour.

If the UN really wants to do something helpful, it might consider a levy equivalent to current military expenditures on the US and other wealthy countries, the proceeds going to help develop Somalia and other third world countries. Meanwhile, the UN/US presence only makes things worse. Colonialism is the cause of problems, not their solution.

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