In this period, a new imperialism was taking shape, in which those being colonized were no longer designated as enemies. Instead of being classified as conflicts between sovereign powers, wars became clashes between “humanitarian interventions” and insurgents who refused to accept the “restructuring” of their state according to neoliberal conventions of international access to markets and resources. And with that came the false universality of an inclusion of those enemies who you don’t dare call as such: you are on our side, you just don’t know it yet. NGO’s, whose mission ran from hunger relief to debt “relief”, functioned as the humanizing face of these imperial projects, both laying a groundwork for larger organizations (such as states themselves) to get involved in these “troubled” areas and acting as a public relations band-aid on those areas already invaded or damaged from a century of exclusion from the global circuits of capital. In other words, beneath the “good intentions” of NGOs and the surface appearance of an under-funded group of “one world” humanitarians, ran a massive flow of money and military might largely responsible for the very problems addressed by the NGOs. They became, wittingly or not, an advanced tactic in the broader neoliberal program of privatization and new imperialism.
- Evan Calder Williams