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Osgerby: Continuing imperialism

BY PAUL OSGERBY | NOVEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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After months of planning, Britain’s last troops flew out in waves of aircraft from Camp Bastion in the Helmand province of Afghanistan on Oct. 27. As the 950 soldiers left, the base was handed over to the Afghan military.

This marks the end of 13 years in operation against the Taliban for the UK.

Both the United States and UK removed all troops from the facility, but U.S. involvement continues to remain in the country. The UK campaign saw 453 casualties, and now all combat personnel will be entirely removed by the end of the year.

Initially, the UK government said it planned to place troops in Bastion, which served as the head of British operations in Afghanistan since 2006, strictly for protecting reconstruction. Then the Taliban insurgency grew, and the troops were quickly swooped into conflict. Following years of complication and miscalculation in the desert, the UK government finally decided to pull the plug.

“It is with pride that we announce the end of UK combat operations in Helmand, having given Afghanistan the best possible chance of a stable future,” said Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

Overseeing the redevelopment of foreign countries is nothing strange to Western countries, especially the United States. The Stars and Stripes are always present across the globe to handle thorny governments — even those we “helped” set up in previous decades.

In a word, it’s imperialism.

The United States controls and operates more than 1,000 military bases and installations in 156 countries. There are permanent bases in 63 of those.

Looking back to the Cold War era of puppet governments in South American countries, the Middle East today just seems like the next episode of the series. It’s the famous plot line of giving rebels guns to take over their inadequate government, only to have them turn the barrels back on us.

Can it be said that the United States succeeded back then, and will now?

When I hear about diplomats, ambassadors, and former members of the Obama administration criticizing the president over his foreign policy (especially in regards to the Middle East), I am immediately ashamed by their mode of thought. Blaming the commander-in-chief for “allowing” extremist organizations such as ISIS to breed is sickening.

The United States should not see itself as responsible for taking care of every foreign country.
Our history of imposing Western ideologies has never been a particularly bright one, costing human lives and astronomical sums of money. Our militaristic efforts force reaction, then we historically react further by upping the ante, and the cycle continues to escalate. We’re stuck.

ISIS exists in part because of opposition to the persistent Western imperialist approach made by countries such as the United States and UK. When officials imply that we must take ownership of redeveloping countries, we are yet again trying to take on the role of puppeteer.

Fight the atrocities committed by extremist regimes such as ISIS. Don’t militaristically impose ourselves on other countries because the White House doesn’t see their current governments fit enough.

The United States should take a note from the UK and get out.


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