The denial of Empire

Sometimes, if an immature child wants to keep something he or she knows doesn’t belong to them, they will create all kinds of delusional stories to justify holding onto the object. When analysing the ramblings of a crumbling “British Empire” mentality, such an image seems to be the most appropriate analogy.

The Falkland Islands are located just off the coast of Argentina. Why would any rationally-minded human being think that England, thousands of miles away, has a “sovereignty claim” to those pieces of land? The very thought is absurd, but according to a recent report by the United Kingdom National Defence Association, the Falklands, described as a “plum ripe for the picking”, are a prime example of the inevitable “expensive and possibly catastrophic mistakes” that cuts to military spending will cause.

The UKNDA use language that Orwell’s Big Brother would happily print onto posters in Oceania. Conquests such as that of the Falklands, or Islas Malvinas, are our “interests around the globe” that need to be protected. The NATO bombing of Libya, and the bloodshed and misery it has caused, is described as a “success… [that] has to be put into context”. In fact, why should we bat an eyelid; this is, after all, a call to increase “defence spending”. Who it is we are defending is not made clear.

Of course, any imperialist entity needs an existential threat to justify its continued attempts to plunder the resources of other nations, and here, we are offered a range to choose from; North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and China. But the most important threat is omitted, and that is, people living in the “third world” are sick and tired of being ruled and controlled by a country on the other side of the planet. We have seen it in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our armies have been bogged down in long and pointless wars; they do not refer to the latter as the “graveyard of all Empires” without reason. We have seen it in Lebanon, where Hezbollah sent the US-supplied Israeli military packing. We have seen it in Tunisia and Egypt, where European and American puppets were torn from their strings, even if other members of the cast remain. Despite all of this, the pretence of supremacy, and the facade of humanitarian concern at the victims of the governments we sponsor (if they are the right victims) persists.

Signs of waning British-US influence are becoming increasingly clear. Every single Empire in history has fallen, and the current hegemony will be no different. What is open to question, however, is what the nature of that potential change will be. We are witnessing the devastating effects of an Empire in denial, as it lashes out against the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and now, Libya. Our governments may have been studying and developing their methods of intervention for many decades, but they have failed to learn the most basic lesson; no amount of firepower will subdue a people forever. Patience and determination will eventually trump the violent lashing out of a wounded beast.

It can be difficult for a child to adapt to a changing environment, but eventually they have to grow up. How long will it be before the British and US governments stop throwing their toys out of the pram?

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