News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Letter to

Regarding Jack A. Smith's "Bush's 'transfer of power' gambit": Why all the handwringing about colonialism? All of us grew up in colonies. Every nation on the planet has been colonized by some other nation at some point. Big deal. I grew up in colonies and ex-colonies such as Scotland, Nigeria, Uganda, Northern Ireland, America, and Canada. All of them benefited from being colonized. Now I live in Taiwan, which also benefited from being colonized. Many members of Taiwan's elder generation have fond memories of the Japanese colonial era. When the Japanese came, they ended the aboriginal tradition of headhunting and the Chinese tradition of clans massacring one another. When the Japanese went into Korea, they ended the cherished tradition of institutionalized slavery. Manchuria under Japanese rule was the most modern part of China at the time. Hong Kong, having profited from English colonial rule, remains the most modern part of China today.

If the United States leaves Iraq now, surely the country will erupt in civil war. After my family left Uganda, the local patriots threw all the white people out. Then the local patriots threw the Indians and the Chinese out. When there were no more demonic foreigners to throw out, the patriots looked for a new target and killed 600,000 fellow citizens by demonizing them as an unpatriotic tribe.

If the American forces were actually to be forced out, something similar would most likely happen. Although the public argument against colonialism is usually some version of the claim that wily omnipotent foreigners suppress naïve and cuddly locals, the subtext is usually a combination of racism and cultural chauvinism.

My barbarous ancestors in England benefited greatly from being colonized by the Romans. Iraq would be lucky to be colonized by the Americans. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

Biff Cappuccino (Taipei)

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