Humanitarian Imperialism..

..the title of a book, is also what author Jean Bricmont describes as an ideology that legitimises modern Imperialism (and war) using pseudo-humanitarian reasoning and rhetoric.

It’s a book I would seriously recommend to anyone calling themselves a humanitarian or liberal.

It has a lot of case examples and scenarios to highlight the points made and therefore is highly readable.

Bricmont has interesting points on:

  • The rhetoric and illusions of war
  • The duty of conscientious objecters
  • The role of the United Nations
  • The arguments against war
  • The prospects for the future

I’m dying to give some excerpts, but they’d have to be quite lengthy ones to make sense and give context. The best I can do is these snippets:

“…The logical lesson of [the 1938 Munich Agreement that allowed Hitler to seize the Sudetenland] is that the great power gambit of using the discontents of minorities to destabilize weaker countries is extremely dangerous, at least for world peace…”

“…When we see that the principal recommendation given by international organisms to Third World countries is to follow the Western example, we can only wonder what on earth they have in mind. Do they want India and Pakistan to solve the Kashmir problem the way France and Germany solved the problem of Alsace-Lorraine?…”

“Moreover, to call on an army to wage a war for human rights implies a naive vision of what armies are and do, as well as a magical belief in the myth of short, clean, “surgical” wars.”

“…That interrupted honeymoon [of the West briefly welcoming Al Jazeera] illustrates a broader phenomenon. Democracy in the Arab world, which Westerners claim to love so much, would be the worst catastrophe that could happen there, because what the peoples of the region want is a better price for their oil, a more economical management of that resource, and more active solidarity with the Palestinian cause. This is by no means what we want…”

Quotes from Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights To Sell War (Bricmont, 2006 Monthly Review Press New York)

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