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Pimp ma’ ride
Stronger nations station their forces to intimidate weaker ones

You thought imperialism was dead? Hardly, since none can beat Uncle Sam’s current record with more than 369,000 of its 1.3 million troops stationed in 150 countries outside its own. A distant second in terms of troops stationed outside is Britain – with 41,000 out of 217,000 active duty military personnel stationed in Cyprus and Germany, having training missions in South East Asia and Middle East and on active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. Close on the heels of the Brits are the French with 34,000 out of their total 360,000 defence personnel deployed abroad; the biggest contingent being positioned in Haiti, Lebanon, Cot d’Ivoire, and Afghanistan. Next on the ladder are Germany with 7551 contingents (Afghanistan & Kosovo) and Russia with 5000 (Tajikistan & Moldova).

No matter how they camouflage their occupation of foreign land, no country or citizen wants their nation to be under the control of outsiders. That’s what Hamid Karzai is realising. Despite his vouching for the support of the US-led coalition forces, common Afghans are greatly opposed to foreign military presence in their homeland. Iraqis are also getting impatient with the slow pace of American withdrawal. Even in their nascent democracy, the Iraqi government is forced to pay heed to the popular sentiment; forcing US to commit complete withdrawal by end of 2011. There was a massive rally in Tokyo on January 30 this year to protest against US military’s presence in Okinawa. In Germany as well, the government is echoing the popular sentiment against the presence of US troops.

This new version of imperialism is another way in which stronger countries try to retain positions of power and influence in weaker countries and arm-twist them as per their needs. Such tendencies have to be curbed; as they are self defeating. In the long term, this is a dangerous strategy and breeds hatred and extremism. It backfired for Russia in Afghanistan. It backfired for US in Vietnam. It backfired for India in Sri Lanka. It will backfire even today. The solution is evident – just move out and do something more... stay out!

By:- Sayan Ghosh

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