History though never ended: for where communism was once the worldÂ’s great evil; Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and new totalitarian states merely replaced it. This placed America on the defensive and thus she has been forced into reasserting herself on the world stage. Following September 11 this manifested itself into the neo-conservative led, imperialistic effort to rebuild nation-states in their own image.
Nation-building isnÂ’t really a new idea. Throughout the Cold War both the US and the USSR shuffled money and arms across the world in order to secure another outpost in their ideologically-driven proxy war. The world had hoped, perhaps too optimistically, that when the Soviet Union collapsed, this era would be over. After all we were entering into the post-modern, post-superpower end of history. But the disintegration of the Soviet Union only created a vacuum for another evil to take its place.
When the communism system imploded right the way across the Second World, capitalism was unleashed upon it in its place. China was ultimately the main beneficiary of the flowering of the free market. Her leaders abandoned the economic aspects of Maoism in the 1980s, while retaining the repressive political system. With her economic power came serious political clout, to such an extent that she is now a superpower and a threat to fair and free liberal societies.
Just as Britain and France did in the nineteenth century, and America and the Soviets in the twentieth, China has chosen Africa as the terrain on which to exercise her politico-economic power. Through brute strength sheÂ’s plundering the continent; some have described her inevitable and relentless drive as a second Â‘long marchÂ’. In 2005 for example China poured $1.6 billion in the coffers of African regimes.
Perhaps what shocked the world most of all is ChinaÂ’s unwavering support for some of the worldÂ’s most horrific governments. Over $300 million went into Sudan in 2005, while its government committed genocide in the region of Darfur. Whereas the West offers aid in return for humanitarian concessions, ChinaÂ’s dirty money comes with no strings attached. Perhaps it is this that has allowed China to so easily dominate Africa.
The truth of the matter is that for whatever reasons, perhaps guilt for past offences, governments like Britain feel a duty toward Africa. America for instance donates millions to fight Aids, while we offer our funds to end malaria. Yet, China is merely pillaging: for copper in Zambia; for iron ore in Gabon; for oil in Angola. They import all their own materials and workers at the expense of the indigenous population. Their work does little for the people of Africa.
Possibly the saddest and most worrying part of this whole sordid affair is that the West has allowed this to happen, up to a point where we can no longer control the situation. We continued with the old Cold War idea that an enemyÂ’s enemy is our friend, so long as they cooperate with us of course. ChinaÂ’s economy was permitted to expand as they were following capitalist principles, yet, at the same time we put little pressure on them to open up politically. On that front our chickens really have come home to roost.
Western ideas of liberty and freedom are now therefore, under direct threat more than ever. In the Middle East fundamentalist ideologues are taking over from moderate Islamists, as seen in Gaza. In Africa, China is crushing the continent with her economic fist. Back at home sheÂ’s suppressing the people of Tibet, and funding the violent junta in Burma thatÂ’s murdering her own peoples.
Truly, then, we are entering into a new political epoch. The communist threats are long dead and American supremacy is on the wane. In its place we have a new grand narrative, where Western liberalism is fighting an ideological war on two fronts, against Islamic fundamentalism, and Chinese economic imperialism. The naÃ¯ve promises of peace and prosperity failed to materialise. We have unwittingly returned to the age of conflict and of the superpower. History never ended, we merely turned the page.