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Is U.S. Foreign Policy Just Colonialism By Another Name?

This is for fnord12 and Banana Larry and the rest of you people who actually paid attention in history and civics class.

And what Francis is saying is that capitalism and our growing environmental disasters are rooted in an even older, larger problem: centuries of European colonialism. Moreover, he suggests this colonialism has never really ended, but merely changed forms -- and much of U.S. foreign policy that's purportedly about terrorism, or drugs, or corruption, or "free trade," is actually colonialism in disguise.

That's a perspective that no one in Congress -- from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders or anyone in between -- is going to get behind.

The Pope's most extensive denunciation of colonialism is probably his speech last June at the World Meeting of Popular Movements (an event nurtured by the Vatican at the Pope's initiative) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It's genuinely startling. Read this and try to imagine what would happen if it were spoken at the U.S. Capitol:

The Earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called "the dung of the devil." ... Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women ...

Let us always have at heart the Virgin Mary, a humble girl from small people lost on the fringes of a great empire. ... Mary is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. ...

[W]e see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice. ... The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain "free trade" treaties, and the imposition of measures of "austerity" which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor. ... At other times, under the noble guise of battling corruption, the narcotics trade and terrorism -- grave evils of our time which call for coordinated international action -- we see states being saddled with measures which have little to do with the resolution of these problems and which not infrequently worsen matters.


More recently, in a faint echo of Potosí, the International Monetary Fund tried to force the Bolivian city of Cochabamba to lease its water system to a consortium of international investors. Enormous, successful protests helped make then-Congressman Evo Morales famous -- enough so that he went on to become Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president.

And whether white people are ready to hear it or not, Bolivia's experience is the norm across the planet, not the exception. It's why President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina said what happened to Morales' plane was "the vestiges of a colonialism that we thought was completely overcome." Or why most of the world sees the Israel-Palestine conflict as not about democracy vs. terrorism, but about colonialism. Or why it sees the Trans-Pacific Partership as not about free trade vs. protectionism, but about colonialism. Or why it saw the invasion of Iraq as not about weapons of mass destruction, but colonialism.

Based on the current presidential race, I'd estimate that the U.S. political system will have the maturity and grace to hear this in maybe 300 years. And if the Pope brings any of this up at the Capitol, it's safe to say he's not going to be invited back.

By min | September 24, 2015, 8:38 AM |


I don't doubt the point that the exploitation of other peoples and resources for wealth and power continues to this day. I find it ironic though that this critique comes from the Catholic Church of all places.

But! But Pope Francis is totally fixing that now!

I can't think of any reason Sanders wouldn't buy what the pope is selling, it's just that that's why people still expect him to end up on the fringes of the race no matter how popular he is now.