By Christophe Chataigné
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Humanitarian Imperialism

This article is over 14 years, 8 months old
Jean Bricmont, Monthly Review Press, £12.99
Issue 317

Surprisingly, Jean Bricmont, the author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War, is a professor of theoretical physics. He became politically active in 1999 when Nato bombed former Yugoslavia. Bricmont was surprised by the lack of opposition to Nato’s aggression, especially from the left.

His book is an attack on this left which has fallen for the argument of going to war for human rights. Bricmont looks at and deconstructs the use of “humanitarian interventionism” by the leading powers since the Cold War.

One of the arguments imperialist powers use to justify going to war is that they are preventing the rise of new Hitlers. Bricmont reminds us that those same ruling classes were quite happy to let Hitler smash any sign of working class resistance and today are also promoting dictators who have nothing to do with human rights.

More than that, he argues that there can be no liberating wars waged by imperialism. He also dismisses the claims made by the pro-war left of being in the tradition of the International Brigades.

Although I’ve a few reservations on some of his arguments, Jean Bricmont’s anti-imperialism and case studies make his book a worthwhile read.

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