by Greg Spearritt
ABC News reports that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has compared the USA's actions in Iraq with the British colonialism of past centuries:
"It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources in to administering it and normalising it," he said. "Rightly or wrongly, that's what the British Empire did - in India, for example."
"It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together - Iraq, for example."
No doubt he's right about Iraq, but his comment about the British Empire rather downplays the longer-term effects of British meddling in the 'colonies'. Gunboat diplomacy enforced English presuppositions in places like Fiji - for example that there had to be a 'supreme leader' in charge a la the British monarch. The result? Traditional political checks and balances corrupted and instability that continues to blight Fiji's citizens to this day.
Then there's the British arrogance, backed by brutality, in assuming Australia to be unoccupied. Aboriginal people, dispirited, living in third-world conditions in the midst of prosperity... arguably the product of Britain's actions in 'administering and normalising' the Great South Land.
The Arch may have a good case about Iraq, but he needs to look a bit harder to find some moral high ground from which to launch his criticism.
There's a line in a Willy Nelson song that goes,"You show me yours and I'll show you mine." It seems that on the world stage they are also singing some form of this song but there's no attractive melody to go with it. In fact it is darned scary at times.
In the history books the same line keeps appearing except that instead of "intervention" the word they use is "occupation" or "conquest" and each tries to find some sort of rationale or justification by claiming that one intervention/conquest brought better results for the conquered people.The singing goes back a long long way.
In the UK for example the Celts could have challenged the Jutes in the same way.Then came the Angles and the Saxons, the Romans, the Franks followed by the asylum seekers and econ refugees from all corners of the globe, each claiming they brought greater blessings than what there was to be found previously. There'll never be an end to the singing...except that I much prefer the Willy Nelson lyrics and melody where there are no dissonant notes and off key nerve shatterting howling of rage and hatred...
Robert of Perth
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