Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

NATO was founded to protect ‘civilized’ people. That means White.

By Amoz JY Hor, Washington Post

The invasion of Ukraine has been horrifying to witness.

Early on, some observers repeatedly expressed the idea that the invasion of Ukraine is especially horrifying because, as CBS reporter Charlie D’Agata, who was in Kyiv, put it, “This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully too — city.” (D’Agata later issued an apology.)

People of color are not surprised. A large body of research finds that Whiteness informs who is deemed deserving of welfare, protectionism, property, security, freedom, humanitarianism and more. NATO’s very inception — too — was birthed through appeals to Whiteness.

To understand the selective empathy toward Ukraine, here are four historical examples that illustrate how race has always mattered when it comes to NATO and the concept of Western civilization, drawn from a large body of scholarship as well as my own dissertation research.

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