Colonization in the Modern World

Colonization in the Modern World

By Nicholas Miano, Assistant Reporter

Colonization is the process of a foreign power settling and establish control over a group of people in a certain area. When people think of colonization, most people tend to think of the European nations in centuries past, such as the British Empire and France. It is a general belief that colonization came to a close shortly after World War II, where most of these European powers where too damaged from the war to maintain control over foreign areas. This common belief is actually false. Colonization has existed since the time of the first great nations, and it continues to exist to this very day, undergoing some changes throughout the ages. Now, in the modern world, it is important to clarify what is meant by the word “colonies”. Colonies today are not like what colonies where in years past. Colonies today are usually either territories under the protection of a foreign country or are client/vassal states, which are states that are independent but have close ties, politically and economically, with a foreign country.

It is often overlooked that many of the nations that had colonies in pervious centuries (like France and Britian), still have some colonies today. These colonies exist as territories to these countries, where the territories have self-governing but are under the protection of the country. These territories were created out of previous colonies. Britian, for example, has fourteen overseas territories. These include the Caymen Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, and the South Sandwich Islands, to name a few. These territories remain close to Britian due to economic aid, while possessing self-governing. This cannot be said for all of Britian’s territories, however.  In 2009, Britian had suspended parts of the constitution in the territory of the Turks and Cakos Islands. Furthermore, Britian appointed a UK governor for the islands.  The reasoning behind this was that the British government believed that the government in Turks and Cakos was filled with corruption.

Colonization is still alive and well with many “newer” nations. For starters, the United States is a colonial power. Ever since its founding, the United States has always been a colonizing nation by westward expansion, which was fueled by a belief that justified this act, called “Manifest Destiny”.   Like Britian, the United States has many overseas territories, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Samoa. These territories have an established population as well as some form of a military base (port, fort, etc.). These bases allow the Unite States to have control over the region as well as enforce government policies. The United States first came to posse some of these territories in 1898, after a war with Spain (Spanish-American War), where the United States received the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Not only does the United States possessed territories, but the United States is also involved in many foreign affairs. This includes interference in elections, specifically by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the establishment of many puppet governments. The United States government would examine elections and internal issues in a foreign country to try to make it agree with the interest of the United States.  A key example of this was the power struggle in Bolivia in 1971. In 1971, the United States government supported the rebellion coup of General Hugo Banzer in his fight to overthrow the then president of Bolivia, Juan Jose Torres. The United States allied with Banzer over Torres due to the United States taking part in the large removal of right-winged dictatorships in South America, a campaign known as Operation Condor. Backed by United States support, Bolivia became a nation with its whole government created by the United States. When the United States lost interest in Bolivia after the Cold War, Bolivia fell and still is in a state of unstableness and internal turmoil. This is what usually happens when a colonizing power decides to pull out of an area where they have been investing in for some time. Most often than not, the creation of these puppet governments does not end well. The United States experienced this with Castro in Cuba, in which the United States was the one to push him into power, and the more recent example of Afghanistan, where the United States created a puppet government that completely fell to Taliban control once the United States withdrawn from the area. With the United States following the same past as previous colonizing powers, it is clear to infer the United States as a modern colonizing power.

While this type of colonizing is occurring with the United States and many other countries, there is also another type of colonizing taking place, one that involves using economic advantages to seize assets in faraway countries. This is prevalent in the rising superpower of the far east: China. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has rapidly risen to the status of a global economic (and military) superpower. China, like the United States, does follow the same traditional colonization method of acquiring territories (that is, the growth of China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea), but it is also trying a different method as well. This new approach is under the guise of the investment plan called China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In it, China would offer loans/ infrastructure to third world countries, knowing full well that the countries cannot repay the loans.  As such, China would seize land assets (mines, airports, railroads, etc.) as their own. This is currently the situation for many African and Balkan nations, where they have to rely on China for economic relief but end up losing valuable assists in the long run. China, after all, is responsible for most of the paved roads and governmental establishments in these countries. An example of this is the Chinese funding of a highway project in Montenegro. The proposed highway was supposed to be a 270-mile-long project, running from the sea to the neighboring country of Serbia. This project remains unfinished and has put Montenegro in extreme debt to China. The contract signed by China and Montenegro (which will be heard in a Chinese court, mind you) states that if the loan is not paid back, China has the right seize land inside of Montenegro. This story is the same for numerous countries in eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. China is now forging its own way in a new style of colonization.

Colonization is not over in the world. It has existed since the time of the first great nations, and it will continue to do so until the last. Colonization is like an infectious bacterium, changing forms throughout the ages but keeping to the same essential idea: foreign dominance. Colonization will continue to change in the future, as new governments and forms of methods rise. What could result of this I am not entirely sure, but if history has taught us anything, there could be some conflicts in the near future. Look, as of March 2022, Russia is attempting to colonize Ukraine. Russia plans on splitting the country into two, perhaps creating a puppet state of Russia (similar to the North and South Korea divide). As of now, the Ukrainians are holding their ground, but only time will tell the victor of this conflict. In short, colonization has taken a taken a new form, and as the world is already experiencing, will continue to exist under different appearances in the ages to come.



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