What Afghanistan has done to us
|John More @ National Georgraphic|
Jeff Sparrow on the legacy of humanitarian imperialism @ Overland.
In 1955, Aimé Césaire, the great anti-colonial poet and agitator, published his classic Discours sur le colonialisme.‘Colonisation,’ Césaire argued, ‘dehumanises even the most civilised man; … colonial activity, colonial enterprise, colonial conquest, which is based on contempt for the native and justified by that contempt, inevitably tends to change him who undertakes it; … the coloniser, who in order to ease his conscience gets into the habit of seeing the other man as an animal, accustoms himself to treating him like an animal, and tends objectively to transformhimself into an animal.’The C-word sounds crass in the context of Western involvement in Afghanistan: this is, we’re told, a temporary deployment, nothing more. Colonialism implies rapine and despoliation, whereas our intervention in Afghanistan was framed, right from the start, by ostentatious declarations of high-mindedness.Nonetheless, with the occupation now lasting twice as long as the Great War, it seems well past time to investigate the domestic consequences of what’s becoming a decidedly neocolonial conflict: to ask, like Césaire, not only what we have done to Afghanistan but what Afghanistan has done to us.read more