Since the 1960s the term ” colonialism” has been treated in the West with a level of contempt that has had it compared with genocide and mass slaughter. Critics of the European powers’ land grabs in Africa and Asia have consistently leveled their vitriol at European rapacity on this score and declared colonialism one of the greatest evils to ever befall mankind.
But as columnist Bret Stephens points out in today’s Wall Street Journal, the failed states of Africa and many other former colonial nations around the world, may need a new form of intervention from the civilized world to save them from barbarism.
What Stephens points out is that many of the African kingdoms were actually failed states before Western intervention, given over to constant warfare, cannibalism and self immolation. Western rule, as admittedly exploitative as they might have been, at the very least brought Western concepts of order to Africa – building roads, introducing electricity, providing massively improved health care and involving Western concepts of administration unknown in these areas.
One now only needs to look at the majority of the crumbling nations of Africa – from the Ivory Cost ( once lauded as the model of what an African state should look like) to the shining pearl of Rhodesia ( now reduced to the rotting corpse of Zimbabwe) to genocide plagued Sudan and the manifestly corrupt South Africa, to recognize how horribly wrong the post colonial world has gone since independence.
Those celebrities and pundits in the West who regularly decry Western exploitation of these lands ought pay a little more attention to the meager progress that has been made in former Western colonies since independence. Perhaps there is indeed a need, as Stephens argues, for a renewed form of stewardship for many of these countries which will restore a level of order and civilized conduct beyond anything they could achieve for themselves.