- Not to be confused with colonicism, which is less about forcing your ass into somewhere and more about forcing things into your ass.
Colonialism is the act of one country taking over some other area and settling it or ruling over it. It appears very similar to imperialism, although colonists can be invited by the receiving country. Colonialism has been around since at least the Classical World, as it is well known that the Phoenicians and the Greeks colonized much of Northern Africa.
Usually, when speaking of colonialism, people are referring to European colonialism. European countries - most notably Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands - engaged in large amounts of colonialism, starting in the 15th century and ending in the 20th. Most of the world's surface is composed of former colonies. For example, all of the Americas and Australia, and almost all of Africa and Asia were colonized at some point. Some states, such as France and Great Britain, still have overseas colonies. However, the largest colonial empire was that of Great Britain, which ruled much of Africa and the Middle East, along with India, China, Australia and a large part of North America.
Colonialism as a worldwide system ended after World War II, due to a multitude of causes. In part, many of the old colonial powers came to accept the need for self-determination in the colonies. At the same time, there had been great advances in "asymmetric warfare", as evidenced by the ability of the poorly-equipped Vietnamese forces to fight off both France and the United States.
These days, accusations of colonialism are most often leveled at the United States, Israel, and China. This might be unreasonable, since Russia, via the former Soviet Union, colonized much of eastern Europe and western and northern Asia. Attempts by East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and others to remove the colonial yoke were forcibly put down, though clearly in distant times - Germany is now one nation and Czechoslovakia is now the Czech Republic. Russia under Dmitry Medvedev shows signs of trying to revive this modality, though with little more military action than border-scuffles with small nations. It must be said that they pursue worldwide colonization with some trepidation when in comparison with that of the recent activities of the United States.
A particular branch of study, "postcolonialism", has arisen to study the effects and aftermaths of colonialism on different parts of the world, from the point of view of the former colonies. It particularly focuses on differences in colonial structures and their results.
 American colonialism
Some critics of American Foreign Policy argue that it amounts to little more than modern-day colonization. There are two main forms of colonization which the Americans pursue.
One is establishing "free markets", so that foreign markets can freely be flooded with American goods. This can also be associated with the privatization of national assets, which usually fall into the hands of private American contractors. The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq planned to sell approximately 150 of 200 state-owned enterprises in 2004, prompting critics from the Washington Post to claim: "It took L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Baghdad, no more than a stroke of the pen … to accomplish what eluded [Republicans] over the course of a decade and two presidential campaigns".
The other is military occupation. The American Armed Forces currently have permanent bases in 61 countries worldwide. They have a military presence in over 100 countries worldwide, including 100,000 troops in Europe, 77,000 in the Pacific and East Asia, and a total of 270,000 troops in foreign countries not currently in action. In 2012, there were an estimated 67,500 servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Seldom has history seen such a dominant, unilateral power astride the international scene." This is taken from a report to Congress and the President: "Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure of the United States". The ambitions of the American foreign policy are clearly stated and not at all secretive, as seen in this extract from the above Commission:
"We have undertaken a transformation of strategy that is far-reaching in its implications on our ability to defend ourselves at home and to pursue our interests in the world. We have formulated new doctrines, organized new unit structures, developed new weapons, communications, intelligence, logistics, and command and control systems, and sought new allies and altered basing locations at home and abroad. We are adopting new techniques and procedures, shifting our forces around the globe, and otherwise launching a myriad of innovations."
Any thinking person must wonder what could be implied by "our ability to defend ourselves at home and to pursue our interests in the world", when the American government insists its current military actions are purely defensive measures, put in place to "counter terrorism".