October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Ignorant twat said:
“Oh, my friends from eastern Europe seem to differ with your assertion that the US has been the biggest exporter of state terrorism. Will you include Japan and Korea in the list of states fucked up by the US?
No need to hyperbolyze to make a point that is actually well-known.
Even the writer of the Latin American (uninformed) Leftist Bible -Open Veins of Latin America- has renounced his own work as poorly researched and argued. For one it falls in the victim-no-agency whatsoever archetype and portrays the US as an omnipotent entity calling all the shots in Latin America. Latin american elites loved the book because it gave them a scapegoat so they could engage in an unholy mix of nationalism and pseudo lefttist policies and remain in power- power they have yielded since the conquest and colonization. The true left in L.A. woke up to this a generation ago- what is taking you so long?”
The argument you are making is based on a false paradigm. Imperialism always produces a totem pole of conquered and allied states. Look at how the Nazis treated occupied France vs. how it treated occupied Poland. Would you argue that it would be “hyperbole” to suggest that the Nazi expansionist project was imperialist? Does the treatment of the French invalidate or negate the actual character of Nazi rule elsewhere? If not, then why would the U.S.’s treatment of Japan have anything to do with its treatment of Guatemala?
The U.S. exports dictatorship and state terrorism for the same reason the European Imperialist powers of the previous century did. Rule in the militarily weakest imperialist hinterlands, where the cheap raw materials and labor come from, is always characterized by brutality and the support of local collaborator elites who enrich themselves at the expense of their people.
The pattern of its behavior is really no different and fits a pattern common to the west for the last 200 years, but yet somehow, in the U.S.’s case it’s magically different?
Before American exceptionalism came to dominate the U.S.’s foreign policy, it was called “manifest destiny” during the 19th century and was so successful a foreign policy of conquest that we have to be periodically reminded that it was a foreign policy at all. And before that, it was called the Monroe Doctrine. Am I overestimating the U.S.’s influence in the continental interior it stole and opened for settlement?
In regards to 20th century nationalist and communist revolutions, they only existed at all because the world had already been carved up by the imperialist powers who were themselves driven by resource and security competition.
Preindustrial states, like China and Russia, had no real military viability against the Imperialist states which had industrialized in the previous century just as Latin American states have no real viability against the U.S.
Industrialization is the basis for military viability. Owing to this weakness, European and eventually American elites played Chinese factions against one another, for instance (the “Open Door’), and eroded China’s territorial and political sovereignty in just the same way the U.S. played Liberals and Conservative elements in Nicaragua against one another from William Walker to the installation of the Somoza dynasty with the creation of the national guard, the U.S. proxy military.
So if we want to understand where the Mao’s and Stalins (or the Castros) came from, maybe we should look at the general development of political economy and global trade in the previous century in which much of the globe was carved up by imperialist (capitalist) powers.
Where “free enterprise” exists, the “invisible hand” of rational economic self interest appears to lead to private financial interests shaping the foreign policies of states and turning the state itself into an arm of private industry, as was the case with the United Fruit Company lobbying the U.S. government for the ouster of Arbenz in Guatemala.
There’s nothing new about this. One of the reasons for the American revolution was the monopoly granted to the East India Tea Company by the British Crown. Was the relationship of East India to the British Crown appreciably different than the relationship between Bechtel or the United Fruit company and the U.S. government? Was it different in any relevant sense than the relationship of IG Farben to the Nazi regime? Would the question of the autonomy of the American elites in the colonies who were aligned with the British Crown even be relevant? If not, then why do you think it’s relevant in Latin America during the Cold War?
Half the world’s military spending is in the United States. It plays king maker in satrap states. Nobody suggested local elites don’t have autonomy, but only that they wouldn’t be in power without the U.S. using its unparalleled military and economic resources to tip the balance in militarily weaker “spheres of influence.” You apparently have never considered how “influence” works with any seriousness or precision.
In the case of Chile, Allende was elected fair and square. The U.S. toppled him. So whatever elite was in charge after, regardless if it was acting on its own prerogatives or someone else’s, was only there because the U.S. imposed that situation. Is this not the case? If it is, then how has anyone “over estimated” the U.S.’s influence in this specific example?
Chile is no outlier, it’s no exception, but the rule. The same is true in Brazil in the 1960s with Goulart’s ouster and elsewhere. This would be true even if we couldn’t say for certain that the U.S. was flooding them with arms, “advisors,” training their militaries and officer corps at the SOA, and providing diplomatic cover for them.
In the case of Nicaragua, the national guard was organized by the U.S. and that is the chief means by which the Somozas were able to turn the country into a private fiefdom. There is no other reason. You can’t do that when you don’t have recourse to force. Where did the force that made their dynasty possible come from? The latter Somoza preferred to speak in English and clearly understood where his dictatorial bread was buttered. The Nicaraguan currency even had the picture of a U.S. ambassador on it, for Christ’s sake. “Over estimating” the U.S.’s influence? Is that a joke?
In the case of Guatemala, it had already produced a democratic revolution in 1944. The U.S. toppled it. So the Guatemalan “civil war” wasn’t a civil war at all if it was an alliance between Latin American elites and their U.S. backers against a Guatemalan society with democratic aspirations that had already won.
During the Nazi occupation of France, no historian calls French Partisans vs. Frenchmen in the Vichy government a “civil war,” we all understand that the power behind the French government was the Nazi regime, and that Vichy wouldn’t have existed without it. And this would be true regardless of how much autonomy Vichy had. Do we “over estimate” the Nazi influence on Vichy, which it installed? Why do you think it’s any different in Latin America? From the examples I’ve given you, it’s clear there is no relevant difference.
The whole point of a proxy government is to plausibly deny responsibility. It’s the same reason militaries use paramilitaries and organized vigilante mobs to commit atrocities without having to take responsibility for them. The whole point is to allow for the erroneous interpretations you’ve made here.
We can all pretend, for instance, that Rios Montt in Guatemala and the landowners he represented were autonomous if we want to play make believe. But the reality is that they wouldn’t have been in power at all without the U.S.
Rios Montt — with Reagan’s diplomatic cover in telling the world press that he was getting a “bum rap” on human rights during the middle of a genocide; with endless military appropriations of U.S. and Israeli supplied arms/equipment, money, and training; with elements of U.S. society in congress in both parties ponying up the support; with a junta made up of SOA graduates whose entire careers were tied to U.S. policy and “counterinsurgency — was “autonomous” because you’d prefer not to connect the U.S.’s ideals or foreign policy to its real world social, political, and economic consequences, and in a state that would have been a democracy had the U.S. not intervened. If you say so.
Zury Rios Montt is married to a Republican congressman, for fuck’s sake.
The facts on the ground, if you simply look at military appropriations and history of U.S. foreign policy over the last half century tell a far different story. And this isn’t speculation. Read Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s Dictatorships and Double Standards. As an architect of the U.S.’s policy in Latin America, she defends death squad terror and the backing of dictatorships in no uncertain terms. There is no mystery or conspiracy here. That was written in 1979. If you haven’t read it yet, what’s taking so long?