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Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest

Photo by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency | CC BY 2.0


Until the 17th century, 
India was the richest country in the world and had controlled a third of global wealth. Political unity and military security helped evolve a uniform economic system, increased trade and enhanced agricultural productivity. Once the British has colonised India and left, it was a basket case.

Indian politician and writer Shashi Kapoor has documented the state the British left India in. They looted the country and the British legacy was 16 per cent literacy, a life expectancy of 27, practically no domestic industry and over 90 per cent living below the poverty line.

Once Britain lost its empire, it managed to secure a degree of global influence by throwing in its lot with the US as a junior partner in Washington’s quest for global hegemony. And if the 21st century tells us anything so far, it is that the centuries’ old colonialist mentality of the British state has not gone away: the mindset of Empire, conquest and duplicity persists.

In 2015, the then UK prime minister David Cameron said he felt deeply moved by the image of a Syrian boy dead on a Turkish beach. As pressure mounted on the UK to take in more of those fleeing to Europe from Syria and other war zones, Cameron added that the UK would fulfil its “moral responsibilities.”

On hearing Cameron’s words about ‘morality’, how many would not have failed to detect the hypocrisy? According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009. And writing in The Guardian in 2013, Nafeez Ahmed discussed leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, that confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years,” starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.

In 2009, Syrian President Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets in direct competition with Russia. Assad refused to sign and instead pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran crossing Iraq and into Syria that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe. The West agreed that Assad must go.

And this is where Britain and the West’s concerns really lie: facilitating the geopolitical machinations of financial institutions, oil companies and war profiteers in the form of arms manufacturers. Ordinary people are mere ‘collateral damage’ left dying in or fleeing war zones that the West and its allies created. Any ‘outrage’ about an alleged chemical weapons attack by the ‘monster’ Assad on ordinary Syrians must be seen for what it is. The West’s brutal oil and gas wars are twisted as ‘humanitarian’ interventions for public consumption.

When it suits, for example, these people are to be showered with fake sympathy and mock outrage by politicians through a media-driven campaign orchestrated to stir up mass emotion about victims of a (staged made-for-TV) gas attack in Douma. The goal is to manufacture consent to get a war-weary public onside for further killing and mayhem in Syria.

Imperial conquest

In 2014, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray told a meeting at St Andrews University in Scotland that the British Government is deeply immoral and doesn’t care how many people its kills abroad if it advances it aims. He said the UK was a state that is prepared to go to war to make a few people wealthy.

He added that Libya is now a disaster and 15,000 people were killed when NATO (British and French jets) bombed Sirte. Murray told his audience: “I’ve seen things from the inside and the UK’s foreign interventions are almost always about resources. It is every bit as corrupt as others have indicated. It is not an academic construct, the system stinks.”

As far as Iraq is concerned, Murray said that he knew for certain that key British officials were fully aware that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction. He said that invading Iraq wasn’t a mistake, it was a lie.

Over a million people have been killed via the US-led or US-backed attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, so we were told. It did not. That was a lie and hundreds of thousands have paid with their lives. We were told that Gaddafi was a tyrant. He used the nation’s oil wealth well by presiding over a country that possessed some of the best indices of social and economic well-being in Africa. Now, thanks to Western backed terror and military conflict, Libya lies in ruins. Russia is a threat to world peace because of its actions in Ukraine, we are told. It is not. The US helped instigate the overthrow of the government in Kiev and has instigated provocations, sanctions and a proxy war against an emerging Russia.

But this is the plan: to turn countries into vassal states of the US, or for those that resist, to reconstruct (destroy) them into fractured territories.

And Britain continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the US throughout as much of Syria, Libya and Iraq now lies in ruins. Theresa May’s recent eulogies to morality and humanitarianism surrounding both the Skripal case and events in Douma are hollow rhetoric: part of the ongoing psyops being waged on the public to encourage people to regard what is happening in the world as a disconnected array of events in need of Western intervention.

These events are not for one minute to be regarded by the public as the planned brutality of empire and militarism, preservation of the petro-dollar system and the encircling and intimidation of Russia, China and Iran with military hardware.

Tim Anderson (author of ‘The Dirty War on Syria’) argues that where Syria is concerned western culture in general has favoured its worst traditions: “the ‘imperial prerogative’ for intervention, backed by deep racial prejudice and poor reflection on the histories of their own cultures and reinforced by a ferocious campaign of war propaganda.”

This assessment rings true for Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq as it does for Syria.

In the book ‘Late Victorian Holocausts’, the author Mike Davis writes that millions in India were dying of starvation when Lord Lytton (head of the British government in India) said, “There is to be no interference of any kind on the part of government with the object of reducing the price of food”. He dismissed any idea of feeding the starving as “humanitarian hysterics”. There was plenty of food, but it was held back to preserve prices and serve the market.

Returning to Shashi Tharoor, he notes a speech to the British House of Commons in 1935 by Winston Churchill who said that the slightest fall from the present standard of life in India means slow starvation, and the actual squeezing out of life, not only of millions but of scores of millions of people. That after almost 200 years of British rule. According to Tharoor, this “squeezing out of life” was realized at the hands of Churchill in the six to seven million Indian deaths in the WW2 Bengali Holocaust.

Fast-forward to 2018 and despite Theresa May’s crocodile tears, hundreds of thousands in various countries are still dying today due to the same imperialist mindset. “Humanitarian hysterics” are for public consumption as the “squeezing out of life” continues according to plan.

More articles by:

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

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