Below is a conversation about imperialism, US and Pakistani, and my note about it.
What Fanon and Cesaire required of their own partisans, even during the heat of struggle, was to abandon fixed ideas of settled identity and culturally authorized definition. Become different, they said, in order that your fate as colonized peoples can be different; this is why nationalism, for all its obvious necessity, is also the enemy.
Imperialism takes varying and distinct forms in different places or colonies. At home it creates/shapes nation/nationalism as its anchor, and (eventually) in the colony as a reaction. In both cases, nationalism is the bastard child of empire. For the colonized, it was perhaps an anti-imperial necessity. Inter-national politics in the post-colonial era is still, however, formulated within the imperial field. If we were “strong,” the logic goes, we wouldn’t have been colonized in the first place, and so, we need to be “strong” and big to fight hegemonic designs of regional and global powers. In short, fight empire with empire.
Something of this convergence of these imperialisms can be seen in Pakistan’s “strategic depth” paradigm, a fantasy emerging within the context of Cold War super-power confrontation. The Pakistani state took the opportunity to expand, in imperialist terminology, its “sphere of influence.” As Eqbal Ahmad writes:
The attainment of “strategic depth” has been a prime objective of Pakistan’s Afghan policy since the days of General Ziaul Haq. In recent years the Taliban replaced Gulbadin Hikmatyar as the instrument of its attainment. Their latest victories, specially their capture of Mazar Sharif, the nerve centre of northern Afghanistan, brings the Pakistani quest close to fulfillment if, that is, such a thing as “strategic depth” does exist in the real world. … The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s support of the anti-communist Mujahideen ended Islamabad’s hostile relations with Kabul, and rendered its influence dominant over Afghanistan. Pakistan has misused this gain to its detriment. Its Afghan policy — the quest for a mirage mis-named “strategic depth” — has deeply alienated trusty old allies while closing the door to new friendships. Its national security managers have in fact squandered historic opportunities and produced a new set of problems for Pakistan’s security. … Policy-makers in Islamabad assume that a Taliban-dominated government in Kabul will be permanently friendly towards Pakistan. The notion of strategic depth is founded on this presumption.
A decolonizing force, nation-state is ultimately a mini-replica of the beast. As a hegemonic system, it is a foe to be fought. National politics may provide some relief, but solidarity and criticism needs to be formed above the nation and below it. Critique should not be against “both” nation as/and empire in a horizontal sense, as if the violence of/within the two forms is somehow disconnected and separate, but in a holistic manner, eschewing the analytic walls erected by them. We are complicit in, tied up with, and trampled on by both.