Freedom & Democracy, Indeed…..
The US claims to be admired the world over as a great champion of freedom and democracy. This is simply not true. Those making US foreign policy absolutely DO NOT want democracy in much of the world. The reason is very simple: If meaningfully democratic elections are held in a country where 60-70 percent of the population is living in poverty, the people will elect the candidates talking about education, health care, housing, land reform, jobs, food, etc. In other words, the people will elect candidates bearing more similarity to Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez than to the wealthy, conservative businessmen or the right wing military generals that the US typically likes to see running poor countries.
The world’s wealth is more poorly distributed than is commonly understood. This poor distribution of the world’s wealth is not a coincidence. It is not an unfortunate inevitability. It is not a mechanical result of pre-existing conditions that we are powerless to change. The poor distribution of the world’s wealth is a direct and deliberate result of foreign policies first pioneered by Europe and other colonizing countries and later honed to a fine art by the US through gunboat diplomacy and CIA dirty tricks. So many of the world’s ills would be remedied or at least addressed by US soul searching and atonement about our history – especially where spilling blood to extract wealth and resources is concerned. In her presidential bid, Marianne Williamson has discussed making reparations for the way black people have been treated throughout US history. This spirit of soul searching and atonement should be further extended to the history of US military intervention and meddling around the world.
For example, in 1953, fearing that he would nationalize his country’s oil resources, the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mosaddeqh and installed the Shah of Iran, a brutal dictator who ruled with an iron fist until 1979 when he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution. Unhappy at the removal of “our” dictator, the US began heavily arming the delightful Saddam Hussein of Iraq, knowing that he would wage war against Iran – including extensive use of chemical weapons – from 1980 to 1988. Any discussion of Iran should be in the context of the above history. In particular, we need to concede that the people of Iran are quite justified in not having a high opinion of US foreign policy in their region. Iran is certainly not without its faults, but for the US to claim that Iran is “destabilizing the region” after what the US has done to Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. is a towering example of the pot calling the kettle black.
The current matter of refugees coming to the US from Central America should be looked at, first and foremost, in the context of US history supporting the most horrific death-squad dictatorships there throughout the 1980’s and beyond. Governments lavishly supported by the US employed sadistic psychopaths to torture, rape and murder tens of thousands of people who might have otherwise voted for socialist-leaning candidates. Is it any wonder that the countries of Central America are now rife with gangs and violence? If meaningful democracy (socialist or otherwise) had been allowed to flourish there, people would be a lot less desperate and eager to escape now.
Throughout the Cold War, we were told of the importance of stopping the dreaded spread of “Communism” to keep the world safe for freedom and democracy. If “Communism” was such a terrible thing, why was it necessary to kill so many people in an effort to stop it from spreading? It seems like somebody WANTED this “Communism” thing. Why? Would it have been possible to stop “Communism” with a lot less bloodshed by simply allowing people in poorer countries to be happy under some more benevolent form of Capitalism? Or is “benevolent Capitalism” a contradiction in terms? Again, the US would earn towering credibility and good will in the world community by acknowledging and atoning for our history. The downside would be that we wouldn’t be able to extract as much wealth and resources out of poorer countries, but the upside would be that we could spend a lot less on the military.
Compounding matters, it is now clearer than ever that US foreign policy is being run by individuals and/or entities that WANT the world to be a turbulent, unstable place. THEY WANT WAR – presumably because they and their friends make lots of money in the process. We were all disgusted at the Bush Administration’s bald faced lies about “weapons of mass destruction” creating the mess in Iraq. But then, for all intents and purposes, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton looked at Iraq and somehow decided that it would make sense to do the same thing to Libya and Syria. We cannot go on like this. When you factor in what needs to be done to put civilization on a sustainable trajectory, the untold TRILLIONS of dollars pissed away on these stupid, utterly unnecessary wars has been a mistake of epic proportions. May future generations forgive us….
When the Abu Ghraib photos when viral, you could just HEAR the roar of young men’s boots running to the Al Qaida recruitment offices. They would have been quite justified in saying, “Yes, clearly the infidels are very bad and we must fight to stop them…” Every time there’s a US drone strike on an Afghan wedding party or a gathering of tribal elders or every time there’s “collateral damage”, the surviving children grow up to ABSOLUTELY HATE the US. How can the US be SO STUPID as to address the problem of radical Islamic terrorism by creating new terrorists faster than we can kill the existing ones? Can you spell U-N-S-U-S-T-A-I-N-A-B-L-E?
Just as we will never know what cures for cancer and other medical/chemical advancements have been squandered with the various plant and animal species allowed to go extinct, we will also never know how many potential Einsteins, Mozarts and Ghandis will have been allowed to die of childhood malnutrition – never realizing their potential value to society. The loss to society resulting from the poor distribution of the world‘s wealth and resources could be staggering and we will never even know.