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The Age of Neo-Imperialism:
Western Hypocrisy in Ukraine and Capitulation in Palestine

By Henry D' Souza

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 21, 2014


There are three aspects about the use of the terms, Imperialism, colonialism and their derivatives that need clarification: definitions need to be clearer; dates need to be more accurate, and it should be noted that some powerful countries are following others.

The entry in which states that Neo-Imperialism began in 1830 and ended in 1945 is entirely misleading.

Imperialism involves colonies, and colonial rule in Africa began with the Partition of Africa by the Treaty of Berlin in 1870 and ended at different times. In Africa south of the Sahara, the “wind of change” came in the nineteen sixties. Colonial rule in Asia and North Africa ended after the end of World War Two.  Consequently, Imperialism began and ended at different times in different geographical areas. Wikipedia’s “neo-Imperialism” should consequently be read as “Imperialism.”

Some Imperialists treated colonies as extension of the homeland.  France and Portugal, for instance, treated people of the colonies as citizens of the “mother country.”  Britain was ambivalent about her colonies; sometimes they treated their overseas people as citizens and sometimes they were “Commonwealth citizens,” with no rights of entry to Britain.

From the late nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century, Western Imperialists struck a deal.  By the Monroe Doctrine, the US treated the Americas as their “sphere of influence” and the Europeans were allowed to dictate terms in the rest of the world. The US, therefore, had an imperialist framework for the Americas south of the US, but operated in a neo-imperialist mode. 

Russia’s intended expansion is similar to the US’s. Whereas Russia extended its territory eastwards towards the Pacific, the US had to wage a war with Mexico to gain access to the Pacific.  Both, Russia and USA, take a neo-Imperialist approach towards their southern neighbors. Crimea, which Russians claim as theirs, is Russia’s equivalent of warm-water Hawaii which was annexed by guile.  

Given a time gap, China followed the Imperialist model by annexing independent states, like Tibet and Uyghuristan, after 1945.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea annoyed the West since an independent country, Ukraine, was invaded and taken by force.  Russia’s claim that it was reclaiming territory that was made part of Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union, was unacceptable to the West and Ukraine. The annexation of Crimea and the separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008 by armed force, are recent examples of Russian Imperialism.

Palestinians, on the other hand, note that they are experiencing what Lenin called “the highest form of Capitalism – Imperialism”1 which started after 1945.  Gaza is an open air prison and the West Bank is steadily losing territory.  The Palestinians are neither fully independent nor are they inhabiting a colony.  Israel uses the Russian model in administering the Palestinians: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, West Bank and Gaza are non-states and therefore in limbo. 

What distinguishes Imperialism from Neo-Imperialism is that with the latter the former colonies and others in a similar situation are fully independent, each country theoretically running its own foreign and domestic policies.  

We would have to agree, however, with Scientific American that each former colony will continue to have “strong elements of neo-colonialism …in the economic relations between rich and poor countries.”2   But a better word for “neo-colonialism” in this quote is “neo-Imperialism.”

For neo-Imperialism to function smoothly, the British and French introduced the term “Commonwealth.”  By the 1931 Statute of Westminster, the modern British Commonwealth was created and within two decades it had 53 members, which includes monarchies, republics and commonwealth realms.  

Ten countries, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, St Lucia Seychelles and Vanuatu, joined the French Commonwealth, or Francophonie, where decisions are arrived at by majority voting, unlike the British Commonwealth where decisions are arrived at by consensus.3

Russia followed with its Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991 when the Soviet Union imploded.  But CIS was found to be weak. 

The Russians, therefore, created the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC) to improve economic activity, like energy and water coordination.  The Treaty signed in 2001 included founding members, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and new members, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia had observer status.

Meanwhile, the EU was pushing for an Eastern (Economic) Partnership a year after the Georgian War of 2008.  Many states which were part of Russia’s Near Abroad want to join this Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.  But Russia takes objection to this interference.4

Since, in today’s world, independent states are more numerous than colonies and states in limbo, we have to conclude that this is an Age of Neo-Imperialism where large states dominate weaker independent ones, through economic and indirect political means.  Imperialism, a relic of the past, is an anomaly which crops up from time to time.

We have to conclude, too, that when independent countries do not complain about neo-imperialism they feel that they are benefiting from an association with the “mother” country or benefactors.  This explains why the United Nations General Assembly collaborates with a Security Council where only former imperialists have veto power.

As the world takes on a new political shape, we have to agree with Saker, a pseudonym, that a new Cold War is developing between the “Anglo-Zionist world power structure” and a Eurasian bloc.5   A Russian general suggested that China and Russia should have a more effective military alliance to counteract NATO.  But China feels that the time has not come for such a move.

It is ironic that the West should object to Imperialism in Ukraine while participating in Imperialism in Palestine.


  1. Vladimir Illych Lenin, Selected Works, Progress Publishers, 1963, Moscow, vol.1, pp. 667-766.
  2. The American Heritage, Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Co., 2009.
  4. ibid.
  5. The Saker, “Let’s embrace the new Cold War,”, April 4, 2014.





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