Foreign Policy

The West’s history of violent expansionism

 Many commentators have remarked that the last few years has seen a strategic shift in International Relations with an ever more aggressive and expansionist spectre affecting nations of the West, led by the United States; For Muslims throughout the world this comes as no surprise since the Islamic lands have been subject the varying forms of occupation for the past 200 years starting with the European assault upon the Uthmani Khilafah in the 18th Century.  What is also clear is that the West's history of conquest and colonialism has been largely kept hidden from public view. However, closer scrutiny shows that western nations have been unrivalled in their application of organised and deliberate State sanctioned violence upon other peoples and nations.

Since the election of Bush, the junior, in 2000, the US administration has been dominated by the political leanings of neo-conservatives [neocons] and their influence upon the American government. These neo-conservatives first published a blueprint of their new empire project years before they got to power in the Project for a New American Century. America has since revised its nuclear doctrine, expounding and declaring the right to use nuclear weapons first and pre-emptively. Presently, America has embarked upon a brutal imperial conquest of the Muslim world, where many Muslims have lost their lives. Afghanistan was the first to be occupied, where many thousands of Muslims have been killed. In Iraq alone it is estimated that at least 1.2 million Muslims have been killed by the slaughter unleashed by American forces and their surrogates.

Yet it is the West that has the audacity to equate Islam and the Khilafah with violence and intolerance, while it deliberately forgets about it's own actions in exterminating whole tribes, peoples and civilisations. It is only right and proper that one examines the West's record of governance and interaction with the rest of the world. For over the last few centuries political leadership and ascendancy over the world has not been with Islam or Muslims. Rather, it is the West twinned with it's ideology of Capitalism and Secularism which has had the upper hand. However, during this time the world has witnessed the most systematic and brutal exploitation of the rest of the world. Spear heading this assault was the European powers that colonised whole swathes of the planet. At its peak the British Empire controlled a quarter of the world's land mass and people. Often this control was accompanied by brutal violence as western armies forcibly seized control of that which did not belong to them. The instability, desperation and poverty we see in the Muslim world, Africa, Latin America, euphemistically called the post-colonial era, is testament to the West's legacy of violent colonialism.

Amongst some of the most harrowing and infamous examples is the African slave trade. Between 1562 and 1807 European powers forcibly removed 11 million Black Africans from Africa's West coast. Forcibly removed into European ships, many endured atrocious conditions and died as they were taken to the ‘New World' of the Americas. They were forcibly made to work on plantations and other projects, which required human labour. European capitalists' grew rich off the trade of fellow men, women and children. One can only imagine the brutality and trauma that must have been inflicted upon these people, a significant number who also happened to be Muslim.  To this day America and European powers have been reluctant to apologise for this, let alone compensate the descendents of the survivors. Yet British plantation owners at the time were awarded £20 million by the British government as compensation, equivalent to about £1.1 billion in today's terms, for the ‘loss' of their slaves. This included the Church of England which was also awarded compensation and which has only recently apologised for its role. Moreover, western civilisation as recently as the 1960s was still denying Black people in America their rights by routinely keeping them segregated and treating them as second-class citizens.

Another brutal example is the slaughter and displacement of the American Indians by European powers and settlers throughout North America. American Indians were the native people. It is estimated that at the time when Christopher Columbus ‘discovered' North America in 1492 there were about 12 million native Indians, which fell to about 237,000 at the turn of the 20th century. Various researchers have labelled this as amongst the worst genocides in human history. There is evidence to suggest that the US government deliberately set about eradicating the Indian population by targeting the Buffalo herds, which were integral to the life of the American Indian. The Removal Act of 1830 passed by the US Congress officially sanctioned the seizure of various American Indian owned lands. In 1887 in an attempt to assimilate the remaining Indians, the General Allotment Act was also passed which broke up remaining Indian reservations for whole tribes to plots of land to single families, opening the door to continued appropriation of unallocated land to non-Indians. It's no small wonder that the American government today supports the taking of Palestine land by the Zionist State, they themselves have usurped a whole continent sized land mass.

Columbus's discovery of the New World, financed by Queen Isabella of Spain who was leading the Spanish Inquisition, facilitated European loot and plunder of the rest of the Americas. Columbus himself, presented as an adventurous explorer in many school textbooks, implemented policies of slavery and mass extermination of the Taino population in the Caribbean. This though was only the beginning. As the rest of Europe became aware of Columbus's newfound source of wealth, other Europeans also set out for the ‘New World' to make their fortunes. Millions were slaughtered throughout the Americas as Spanish and Portuguese colonisers looted Gold, Silver and other commodities. Known more infamously as the "Conquistadors", Spanish colonisers built the Spanish empire off South American gold.

It was not just the Americas that suffered. Africa has also been brutally colonized by the Europeans over a number of years. The European States between them carved up Africa. Italy carved up parts of Eritrea and Somalia. Spain established a foothold in western Africa. Parts of what are now Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Namibia were ruled by Germany. The Portuguese held onto Angola, Mozambique, and other smaller territories. Belgium brutally ruled over the Congo and Britain created its mandates in South Africa and throughout East Africa and in what is today Sudan, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Nigeria. France set itself up in a dozen West African nations, including what are today Senegal and the Ivory Coast, as well as in Chad, Madagascar, and the Comoros.

Central to these colonisation projects was the racist and supremacist belief that often accompanied such exploitation. The former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarked to the British Peel commission in 1936 regarding changes to the Mandate of Palestine in preparation for the creation of Israel "I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place."  

These are just some of the footnotes from the pages of history. There are many, many more. From the subjugation of the ‘crown jewel' India where the British alone killed many millions by deliberately creating food famines, to France's occupation of Algeria that killed up to 1 million Algerians by 1962, history is replete with such examples. The British together with the French, Dutch, Spanish and other European colonisers have undertaken so many campaigns that one could literally write volumes detailing their plunder and savageness as they collectively killed millions and brought destruction around the world. Just as recently in 1994 France aided the Rwandan genocidal massacres where up to a million people were killed. Central to all of this has been greed, to enrich one's self at the expense of others and to use any means possible, rhetorically and otherwise, to justify that. The West has never tried to bring on a par the various lands and nations it has dealt with. It has only exploited them, in the process killing millions of people directly or indirectly.

America today has simply displaced these previous colonialists. America's colonial arrival was heralded by the only use of nuclear weapons on a human population the world has ever seen, when America bombed Japan twice in 1945. Followed up by the 1953 Korean War and the infamous Vietnam War, America set about to occupy the colonial space left in the aftermath of World War II by France and Britain. During the 1980s, America ravaged South America by helping to depose regimes that were hostile to it's interests. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, infamously referring to Chile and the rise of General Augusto Pinochet once said, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."

As Europe's strength has eroded over the decades, western governments lead by America have embarked upon a new Imperial agenda for the world, using the excuse of the "War on Terror" in the past few years. Spurred on by the apparent defeat of their ideological nemesis the Soviet Union, America has set about to re-mould the world in it's favour, famously referred to as "a new World order" by George Bush Senior in 1991. Central to this project has been to seize control of much of the world's oil and gas supplies, which happen to be in the Muslim world. Western governments have helped create and support the many tyrannical regimes that rule in almost every part of the Muslim world since the Khilafah was destroyed in 1924.

Two hundred years ago the justification given by western politicians was that these colonial campaigns were necessary to ‘civilise' the savages. Today the world is told that the West is bringing ‘freedom and democracy' and ‘universal values' to the rest of mankind. The marketing and packaging may have changed but the objectives remain the same. The violent expansionist colonial polices seen in the past are alive and well today. What the world is witnessing in Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing but a repeat of history. With what face, with what cheek, does the West stand up and accuse Muslims and Islam of ideologically driven barbarity and violence when it has so much blood on it's hands in pursuit of material gain?

The irony is that the West did not just inflict tyranny upon others. But unleashed terror campaigns upon nations who were broadly within its political milieu. The western secular led world has ensured that the 20th century became the bloodiest in human history. Millions were killed, as Europe turned in on itself in two world wars. It is estimated that 120 million people were killed in the two world wars and the tyranny from despots such as Stalin, Hitler and China's Mao in the 20th century. Yet in all of this carnage, there was no Islam, no Khilafah State present. So how can an accusing finger be levelled at Muslims? In the same century that the Khilafah was destroyed, Muslims were inconsequential to the political map of the world. Therefore, far from the benign and pleasant image that is presented, western civilisation has a track record of slavery, brutality, exploitation and causing havoc and misery in its wake.

In future articles we will articulate Islam's view of the world and the Khilafah State's relationship with other nations.