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Colonialism and Human Rights, a contradiction in terms? The Case of West Africa and France, 1895-1914
Alice Conklin exposes in this essay the numerous misconceptions that surrounded the need for the invasion of Africa by the western states. In its claim, France tried to take advantage of the ignorance inherent in West Africa for its personal gains and not to assist the people there (Conklin 420). Although the initial efforts were veiled as the desire to enhance the nations and help them take advantage of their wealth, it is apparent that a more greedy purpose prevailed. The French understood, for instance, that by taking over the lands of the uninformed people and their economy, they would be subdued to them and hence have more control.
Expanding into the African territories, therefore, assures the colonists of more power and the thirst for it got worse after they successfully took into one (Conklin 425). When France wanted to go into the third war countries, they cited that they wanted to save the nations from the illnesses that they were facing at the time, ignorance and also empower them economically. Their selfish objective is however realized because they oppressed and violated the human rights of the states that resisted. The western countries believed in democracy and the voice of the people, but that was instead broken in their colonies. There are also many cases of the officers, taking away the property by force, killing and even jailing the Protestants against the colonialists. If the western nations sought to influence the countries positively, they would have taken a more subtle and a kind approach.
Question: What other strategies should the European states have used to conquer the African states? Would the whole process be completed without violence and dictatorship?
Opium for China
This article discloses the hidden agenda that accompanied the Opium trade in China. America, Japan, and Britain identified the demand that Opium had and the significant revenues it would generate for them thus taking a deep interest in India (Brook 30). The countries hence advocated for trade and supported the nation in getting more market and better sales. The primary objective, however, was to take the profits back to their governments and not to enrich the Indian countries. The relevant authorities yet sought to monopolize the trade and also restrict the Opium imports to China so that they could get an edge over their European competitors (Brook 35). Britain, however, relied on the profits that they were making from the sale of the drug for their survival in India and this move was hence fought against.
Although opium is an addictive drug, its use in the sixteenth century reveals that various states used the drugs to gain an advantage and more power over the rest. This article explores the use of Opium as a palliative medicine, a drug and what anchor the modern day China. British imperialism is evidenced in this article in that the nation took advantage of the Opium in India to make enormous profits that would be used to advance their economy back at home. While colonization was indeed meant to save the African states, it is evident that there was a higher agenda which was to fulfill one's selfish desires simply.
Although Jiaqin emperor in China banned the importation of Opium from India, the British used other means to acquire it. The colonist ensured that the drug was shipped directly to China from various states such as Turkey and Persia. Opium was too critical for China's finances to be abandoned at this time. China hence had an advantage over other countries in trade which prompted the British Indian company to lower prices and enhance exports to gain more market share. The East India Company attempted to control all the returns resulting from Opium by cutting access to it from their native states. This article hence reveals the extent that countries may go to gain power over other nations.
Question: Is trade an excellent mechanism for obtaining power? What can economies learn from the opium trade in China?
Brook, Timothy. Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952. Berkeley [u.a.: Univ. of California Press, 2000. Print.
Conklin, Alice L. "Colonialism and human rights, a contradiction in terms? The case of France and West Africa, 1895-1914." The American Historical Review 103.2 (1998): 419-442.
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