Global Policy Forum

Green Imperialism: Wolfowitz, Wars and the


By Abhinav Aima*

Common Dreams
March 17, 2005

The nomination of Neoconman Paul D. Wolfowitz for the presidency of the World Bank has sent a clear signal to the sovereign nations across the world – forget charity. Now you must squeal support for the United States for every penny you need to feed, house and medicate your poor.

In the heady days of the rise of Arab nationalism and socialism the world was introduced to the ideas of the Green Book, Muammar Gaddafi's answer to communism. In his rants, Gaddafi warned of the coming of economic imperialism, wherein the very nations that had once ruled the Arabs at the point of bayonets would now rule them by owning and dictating their economic lives. After all, what good is political freedom if you have no bread on your plate, no roof over your head, no pills for your ills and no potable water to wash them down with. The provider of such basic amenities, when given the authority to withdraw them at will, can completely enslave the dependant populations.

Walk down the street to your local homeless shelter and you will get a quick earful on the value of freedom and democracy from your local poor and hapless. Gaddafi was not talking of merely an Arab phenomenon – the political power of a citizen in a democracy is meaningless if he or she has lost sovereign control over their economic lives.

While wars are all nice and newsworthy, the greater danger to global stability is the gradual yet massive subjugating of the economic rights to life and liberty of the citizens of third world countries. While this campaign was gloriously wrapped in the garb of anti-communism in the post-World War Two years, the post-1991 period has increasingly seen the use of economic institutions as a means for the United States to muscle sovereignty away from the third world.

Today, this campaign is wrapped in the garb of post-9/11 righteousness and the virtuous rhetoric of victims empowering themselves to free the world. However, one does not have to dig too deep to understand the inherent contradictions of this Neocon campaign – one that supposedly liberates the citizens from oppressive political regimes only to subject them to oppressive economic regimen. In Iraq, the United States government has passed such sweeping decrees as Order 39, issued by Paul Bremer, which effectively sells off Iraq's national industries to foreign bidders. And guess who gets to own Iraq? The very corporations who filled the electoral coffers of the Bush administration but who, we were told, would not benefit from the Iraqi invasion. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

As the principal financial institution for channeling developmental funds, the World Bank can make or break nations. So why has President Bush nominated the architect of Iraq's economic enslavement to this global economic giant? Why not nominate Nobel Prize winning global economists, such as Amartya Sen, or exhibit a gesture of goodwill by handing the stewardship of the bank over to un-American Americans? The reason is obvious – the World Bank is an indispensable tool of foreign policy that this administration wants to employ to the fullest extent to break the sovereign will of the third world.

Will Paul Wolfowitz steer the World Bank towards aiding Venezuela? Not so long as Hugo Chavez is in power. In fact, one should expect Wolfowitz to use the World Bank to destabilize all the "rogue states" and reduce them to the chaos of Iraq – the kind of chaos that allows the thieves to steal an entire country while the world is distracted.

At the end of the day such political machinations of economic freedoms will result in a backlash that will be crippling to American political and economic aspirations. When the United States refused to allow loans to subsidize crop substitution plans in Lebanon in 2001, for instance, the farmers went right back to growing narcotic-yielding plants. The financial pressure, exerted to seek a disarming of the Hezbollah, did nothing to dull the radical group's popularity, Lebanese journalists told me in Beirut in June 2001. It only made the reformers look foolish, while leading to a spike in the export of Lebanese Gold Hashish.

Gautam Buddha once advised his priests that they should first feed the hungry and then lecture them on how to save their souls. This ancient Buddhist doctrine is based in the inherent human wisdom that the hand that withholds nourishment shall never receive a friendly embrace. Neocons might argue that the use of financial institutions is an indispensable instrument of foreign policy, the carrot to the stick, but I have yet to see a horse happy at receiving carrots while its hind legs are chopped off.

The Neocolonization of the third world, with the affirmation of Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, is a blatant effort to chop the third world off at its knees.

About the Author: Abhinav K. Aima is instructor of Journalism Department of Composition at the University of Minnesota.

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