Postcolonialism, Or: If it’s broke, run away and be assured it can fix itself
When I was on the debate team a few years back, one of our biggest arguments was Post-Colonialism. It was great. We had some really talented and intelligent coaches and members of the team, and they would come up with these positions, which included PoCo, as we called it, and these were winning positions. When confronted with it, most opponents cried.
Problem was, it was total bullshit. I felt bad arguing it, and I was just glad that nothing about debate was real. Then again, it gets argued in the real world, in Congress and in the UN and in Western administrations.
The argument is essentially that we, the Western world, fucked up royally, and, through interference with the developing world, created all sorts of problems. Henceforth, we should not do anything ever again and just leave them alone and give them what they want when they ask for it.
Truth be told, it was England, France, Spain, and those damn Dutch who screwed up. We didn’t do too much of the colonization. Little Brown Brothers aside, we’re probably the least-sinful of the Western powers. And the East isn’t totally blameless. China never left its “colonies”. And Russia only left a decade ago. But it was horrendous, and led to every major conflict we hear about today. Israel? Britain handing over its chunk of the Middle East which wasn’t theirs to give (I don’t mean that to sound as horrible as it might sound, so please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not some pro-palestinian weirdo). Iraq? Didn’t even exist. Britain made that one out of nothing. Africa? Yeah, they didn’t exactly have nice neat arranged little nations.
And that brings me to my point. Africa is horribly screwed up. Almost the entire continent is engulfed in strife, from the Muslim/Christian divide in Sudan to the corrupt government in Kenya. African countries, and here I’m generalizing but most fit this description, are marked by excessive corruption, instability, poverty, and severe conflict. To be more specific, presidents change every other month, several governments find themselves taken over by rebels, in the north the muslim christian is so bad that Sudan has two separate governments, and corrupt leaders seize money, food, and medical supplies. In addition, armed groups seize humanitarian aid to prevent their opponents from getting it, and kill civilians for fun, especially in Sierra Leone, where rape, murder, and amputation are rampant. To what do we owe this legacy? Colonial powers propping up puppets in order to exploit resources, and then leaving once the money’s gone (in many cases colonial governments were also forced/guilted out). The prevailing wisdom is to stay out of African affairs while providing as much humanitarian aid as is prudent. That’s not enough. It amounts to giving someone half an advil for a brain tumor. It helps, but just barely, and doesn’t treat the disease. The West has a responsibility to roll up their sleeves and engage in a multilateral effort to reform Africa, including but not limited to substantially increased food and medical supplies, school-building, and, in some cases, invasions to depose corrupt regimes, and fortifying legitimate governments so they aren’t subject to a roving band of rebels with guns. I believe we have the money. We just don’t have the interest.