White Man's _Burden_ (was Re: Genocide In Rwanda, and US INaction)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Thu Oct 26 12:38:01 MDT 2000

Russel wrote to Leo:

>Leo Casey wrote:
>  >The question of the 'right' of the US to intervene in the Rwandan
>situation can
>  >not be separated, IMHO, from the obligations it -- and every other nation --
>>had to prevent and stop genocide.
>But isn't this the justification America and the other great powers gave for
>their "humanitarian" intervention over Kosovo?

Ah, "obligations"!  Not for nothing did they call imperialism the
White Man's _Burden_:

*****   The White Man's Burden

By Rudyard Kipling

McClure's Magazine 12 (Feb. 1899).

...Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine,
And bid the sickness cease...

<http://www.boondocksnet.com/kipling/kipling.html>   *****

BTW, imperialism has always been presented as humanitarian -- an
urgent moral obligation for the White Man:

*****   ...The ideology the European imperialists used to conquer
Africa was the 19th century's version of today's human rights
doctrine, anti-slavery.  Four years after the Berlin Conference, King
Leopold of Belgium--who commanded the most notorious regime of
slavery and genocide known in African history--presided over an
International Anti-Slavery Conference in Brussels.  The
"humanitarian" king proposed to the delegates from all the major
powers plans to hunt down the slave traders "that, it happened, bore
a striking resemblance to those for the expensive transportation
infrastructure he was hoping to build in the Congo.  The king
described the need for fortified posts, roads, railways, and
steamboats, all of which would support columns of troops pursuing the
slavers" [Adam Hochshild, King Leopold's Ghost (Boston: Houghton
Miflin Co., 1998), p. 93].  It turned out, of course, that the "Arab
slave traders" were suppressed so that the European imperialists
could be the sole, and much crueler masters of Africa....
<http://www.midnightnotes.org/pamphlet_usiraqyugointro.html>   *****

*****   Today, Washington lectures the new bonapartist rulers of the
Congo (formerly Zaïre) on the need for "democracy" (defined as
U.S.-supervised elections) and "human rights," cynically professing
concern for the fate of Rwandan Hutu refugees being slaughtered by
the new regime's forces.  Yet for three decades, U.S. imperialism
backed the dictator Mobutu, installed with the aid of the CIA, who
trampled on the human rights of all the peoples of the Congo as he
and his cronies plundered the wealth produced by toilers of the mines
and plantations.  This pattern is nothing new.  The United States has
always traded on its undeserved "anti-colonial" reputation due to the
fact that unlike its European imperialist allies and rivals, the U.S.
did not have direct colonies in Africa.  Of course, Liberia, set up
in the early 1800s by former slaves "repatriated" to the west coast
of Africa by the American Colonization Society, was a U.S. colony in
all but name.  And in the 1880s support from the United States was
instrumental in establishing the rule of Belgian King Leopold on the
Congo, the bloodiest colonial tyranny in the continent, all in the
name of fostering "free trade" and eliminating slavery!

In 1876, as the European powers were avidly slicing up Africa among
themselves, the Belgian king founded the International African
Association, professing scientific and humanitarian concerns, "to
open to civilization the only part of the globe where it has not yet
penetrated, to pierce the darkness shrouding entire populations,"
what he termed "a crusade worthy of this century of progress."  The
Anglo-American explorer H.M. Stanley was dispatched to the Congo to
sign treaties with the African tribal rulers to open the way for
occupation.  But as the British were relentlessly pushing to extend
their control from the Cape to Cairo and the French were racing from
West Africa to establish a foothold on the north bank of the Congo
River, the late-comers to colonial carve-up (Germany, Belgium and the
United States) joined to demand a share of the spoils in the Berlin
conference of 1884-85.  The U.S. favored the Belgian claims by
recognizing King Leopold's IAA, a private company, as a sovereign
state. The former American ambassador to Belgium joined the board of
Leopold's enterprise.

The host of the Berlin Conference, German chancellor Otto von
Bismarck, declared:

"All the Governments invited here share the desire to associate the
natives of Africa with civilization, by opening up the interior of
that continent to commerce, by furnishing the natives with the means
of instruction, by encouraging missions and enterprises so that
useful knowledge may be disseminated, and by paving the way to the
suppression of slavery, and especially of the slave trade among the

The American delegate to the conference, John Kasson, justified the
U.S. interest by calling up the dangers of a scramble for the Congo:

"It was evident that very soon that country would be exposed to the
dangerous rivalries of conflicting nationalities.  There was even
danger of its being so appropriated as to exclude it from free
intercourse with a large part of the civilized world.  It was the
earnest desire of the Government of the United States that these
discoveries should be utilized for the civilization of the native
races, and for the abolition of the slave trade and that early action
should be taken to avoid international conflicts likely to arise from
national rivalry in the acquisition of special privileges in the vast
region so suddenly exposed to commercial enterprises.  If that
country could be neutralized against aggression, with equal
privileges for all, such an arrangement ought, in the opinion of my
Government, to secure general satisfaction."

Thus under the banner of freedom of commerce and anti-slavery, an
entire continent was enslaved! And just as U.S. rulers called for an
"open door" in China in order to compete with the European colonial
empires which had arrived earlier, in Africa they demanded their
share of the spoils by championing "equal privileges for all."  All
the budding imperialist powers should have a chance to rake in
fabulous profits from the superexploitation of African labor.

Out of the Berlin Conference came the Congo Free State, one of the
most oppressive regimes in the history of mankind, under its
sovereign, the King of the Belgians, Leopold II.  American president
Grover Cleveland wrote to the king of the "lively interest" of the
U.S. in "the vast region now committed to your Majesty's wise care,"
and boasted that the U.S. was "the first among the Powers to
recognize the flag" of the new state.  Far from abolishing slavery,
the leading Arab slaver in the eastern Congo was added to the board
of Leopold's Congo Association.  Soon forced labor was introduced on
a massive scale in order to secure ivory, palm oil and rubber for
export.  And having gained equal access to this booty via the Berlin
Conference, an American Congo Company was formed, headed by
Guggenheim, Morgan and Rockefeller interests, securing "general
satisfaction" in the high spheres of finance capital by producing
general calamity for the African population, their victims....
<http://www.internationalist.org/USgodfather.html>   *****


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