By Clinton L. Cox
24 November, 2007
U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its
leaders spout words about spreading democracy.”
“I spent thirty-three
years and four months in active military service as a member of this
country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served
in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And
during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man
for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was
a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....
“I helped make
Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914.
I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank
boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen
Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record
of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international
banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the
Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I
helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
“During those years,
I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking
back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The
best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated
on three continents.” – Major-General
General Butler was the most
decorated U.S. military officer of his day. His experiences helping
the United States Government subvert democracy throughout the world
so that multinational corporations could steal the land and resources
of other nations, prompted him to write a short but politically devastating
book, War is a Racket, in 1934. The use of military, economic and political
power to control weaker nations is a thread that runs throughout the
history of the United States from the past to the present – though
most Americans either deny that fact or are ignorant of it.
The recent death of Augusto
Pinochet, the Chilean torturer and murderer whom the United States helped
bring to power in a coup in 1973 – toppling the democratically-elected
government of Salvador Allende – was simply one of the latest
reminders of the history of the U.S. government in subverting democracy
in order to advance the interests of U.S. bankers, oil companies, sugar
interests and other economically powerful groups. Far from being a force
for good in the world, the U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout
the globe while its leaders spout words about spreading democracy: words
Condoleezza Rice invoked while helping supply the Israelis with bombs
they dropped on Lebanese children in what may have been a death blow
to Lebanese democracy. Words George Bush invokes while killing hundreds
of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children so that major U.S. companies
can steal Iraq’s oil.
“The fear of democracy
exists, by definitional necessity, in elite groups who monopolize economic
and political power,” declared Haitian historian Patrick Bellegarde-Smith.
Bellegarde-Smith was writing about Haiti’s history, but his observation
applies equally well to the history of the United States, including
its current history: those who rule this country fear democracy, especially
in lands populated by people of color, because democracy in those lands
and in those hands threatens the vast wealth and political power of
“Those who rule
this country fear democracy, especially in lands populated by people
This fear is especially
strong in a nation that was born from a decision by privileged white
males to craft a Constitution that protected their privileges, whether
their wealth had been gained from buying and selling enslaved Africans,
stealing Native American land, or in some other kind of “business”
“We have a security
that the general government can never emancipate them (slaves),”
said Gen. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina in praising the advantages
the new Constitution gave slaveowners, “We have obtained a right
to recover our slaves in whatever part of America they may take refuge,
which is a right we had not before. In short, we have made the best
terms for the security of this species of property it was in our power
The men who ratified the
Constitution invoked words about “democracy,” while making
sure that Black people, Native Americans, women and white males without
property, were not represented at their Constitutional Convention. Patrick
Henry and other “patriots” successfully argued for passage
of the Bill of Rights, in order to make sure the federal government
could not free their slaves under any circumstances, such as it did
with some of the Black men who fought in the Revolutionary War.
“May Congress not
say that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this
last war?” Henry asked in arguing for the Bill of Rights. And
once Congress passed such a law freeing some Black men, he warned, it
could also declare “that every slave who would go to the army
should be free.”
Thus the Constitution of
the United States and the Bill of Rights were adopted on the premise
that slavery should be legally protected in the new nation. This pro-slavery
decision shocked the Marquis de Lafayette and other freedom fighters,
including the 5,000 Black American men who had risked their lives to
build a new nation based on democracy.
And so when Black men, women
and children in Haiti rebelled against the French who enslaved them
and created a free Black republic, the reaction of those in power in
the United States was not to embrace their democracy: rather, the so-called
Founding Fathers were terrified at the thought of a Black-ruled democracy
and passed even harsher laws to control slaves in the United States,
lest the “infection” of freedom threaten slavery in this
Founding Fathers were terrified at the thought of a Black-ruled democracy
The result was the Fugitive
Slave Act of 1793, which was authored by Pierce Butler of South Carolina,
and was the first federal act making it a crime to harbor an escaped
slave or to try and prevent a slave’s arrest or capture. The Act
also made it mandatory to transport a recaptured slave to any state
or territory that demanded his or her return.
The U.S. bitterly opposed
democracy in Haiti precisely because it threatened slaveocracy in the
This pattern of U.S. opposition
to the freedom of people of color, therefore, was seen from the earliest
days of this nation as a threat to white power and privilege. The destruction
of democratic governments whenever U.S. interests are threatened or
perceived as being threatened, is a goal that is pursued no matter which
party is in power.
The list of nations where the U.S. has subverted democracy is long and
there are so many places we could begin. But let us start with Cuba
and the Philippines in the Spanish-American war of 1898.
U.S. newspapers and politicians
filled the air with alleged sympathy for the Cubans and Filipinos suffering
under the brutality of the Spaniards. There were denunciations throughout
this country of concentration camps in Cuba run by Spain’s Gen.
Valeriano “Butcher” Weyler, a man described by the “New
York Journal” as “pitiless, cold, an exterminator of men....There
is nothing to prevent his carnal, animal brain from running riot with
itself in inventing tortures and infamies of bloody debauchery.”
And so the United States
went to war, including Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry
as well as other regiments of Black soldiers. While stationed in the
South, the Black soldiers were disarmed and more of them were killed
by sheriffs and other alleged upholders of the law than were killed
fighting in the war. An estimated 123 Black men, women and children
had been lynched the year before the soldiers went South: burned at
the stake, hung from trees, riddled with bullets or flayed alive by
white mobs. But still the soldiers went to fight for freedom for other
They were welcomed as liberators
by the Cubans and fought bravely, including saving Theodore Roosevelt
and his Rough Riders from near annihilation at a Spanish-held fort called
The Rough Riders could not
advance “and dared not retreat,” said one Black soldier,
“having been caught in a sunken place in the road, with a barbed-wire
fence on one side and a precipitous hill on the other....At the moment
when it looked as if the whole regiment would be swept down by the steel-jacketed
bullets from the Mausers, four troops of the 10th U.S. Calvary came
up on ‘double time.’”
“In justice to the
colored race,” wrote Rough Rider Frank Knox, who later became
Secretary of the Navy, “I must say that I never saw braver men
anywhere. Some of those...will live in my memory forever.”
But another man had a far
different opinion, especially of the Cubans. Winston Churchill, a young
military observer from England, had not realized--just as most of the
American public had not realized--that a large percentage of the Cuban
fighters were Black. “A great danger presents itself,” an
alarmed Churchill wrote. “Two-fifths of the insurgents in the
field, are negroes. These men, with Antonio Maceo (a Black general affectionately
nicknamed “The Bronze Titan” by his fellow Cubans) at their
head, would, in the event of success, demand a predominant share of
the government of the country....the results being, after years of fighting,
another black republic.”
But Churchill need not have
worried about the “danger” of Black participation in democracy.
Within months of the Black soldiers’ deeds of bravery in the name
of Cuban freedom, the U.S. government declared Cuba a “protectorate,”
stationed a permanent occupying force of White soldiers on the island
and seized its economy for the benefit of U.S. corporations.
Roosevelt, who would probably
have been killed if the Black soldiers hadn't saved him, launched the
political career that would carry him to the White House by turning
on his rescuers and saying they could not carry on a fight once they
lost their white officers. This appeal to White American racism was
successful, even though the soldiers had made what one Rough Rider called
“their great, fearless charges” under the command of Black
sergeants after their White officers were killed, a fact Roosevelt knew
The United States not only
grabbed Cuba to prevent the Cubans from establishing a democracy and
to open new markets for American corporations, but also stole Puerto
Rico, Wake Island, Guam and Hawaii.
“The U.S. declared
Cuba a ‘protectorate,’ stationed a permanent occupying force
of White soldiers on the island and seized its economy for the benefit
of U.S. corporations.”
Much of Hawaii’s land
had already been taken over by American pineapple plantation owners,
and much of its culture trashed and weakened by American missionaries.
Hawaii, said U.S. officials, was “a ripe pear waiting to be plucked,”
and they plucked it. In 1898, while Black soldiers died and were betrayed
in the failed attempt to bring freedom to Cuba, the U.S. Congress passed
a joint resolution annexing Hawaii and assigning the U.S. military to
insure this country’s control of the islands.
Spain, seeing the futility
of trying to stop the U.S. militarily, sold all its possessions to the
United States for $20 million. This also included the Philippines, with
Pres. William McKinley clothing the theft in the following words: “...there
was nothing left for us to do but to take them all (all of Spain’s
possessions) and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and
Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could
by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.”
The Filipinos, most of whom
had already converted to Christianity in the decades before the Americans
arrived, didn’t feel they needed “God’s grace”
as defined by White Americans. In February 1899, under the leadership
of Emilio Aguinaldo (who had been brought back to the Philippines from
China by U.S. warships, in order to fight against the Spaniards), the
Filipinos launched a war for freedom and democracy against the forces
of the United States.
Though the war against the
Filipinos is largely forgotten or ignored in this country, it was a
bloody and brutal conflict that saw American soldiers and disease kill
hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. While Black men, women and children
were being tortured and killed in this country, White American soldiers
slaughtered the brown-skinned inhabitants of the Philippines so that
American businesses could expand into the Pacific.
“We will not renounce
our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization
of the world,” said Sen. Albert Beveridge in the U.S. Senate,
speaking for the economic and political interests of this country. “Where
shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Georgraphy answers the question.
China is our natural customer....The Philippines give us a base at the
door of all the East.”
And so Americans unleashed
their indiscriminate brutality in the name of capitalism and democracy.
“Our fighting blood
was up,” said one White soldier, “and we all wanted to kill
‘niggers.’....This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting
all to pieces."
In brutality reminiscent
of that at Abu Ghraib and throughout Iraq, the Manila correspondent
of the Philadelphia Ledger wrote: "Our soldiers have pumped salt
water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who
held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later...stood
them on a bridge and shot them down one by one..."
The Black American soldiers
were disgusted with the racism they saw their "fellow" soldiers
introducing to yet another land, and many of them deserted. One, George
Fagan of the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment, accepted a commission
in the rebel army and fought against the White Americans.
Another soldier, William
Simms, wrote home (the letters by Simms and 113 other Black soldiers
are in Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire, by William Gatewood):
"I was struck by a question a little Filipino boy asked me, which
ran about this way: 'Why does the American Negro come...to fight us
where we are much a friend to him and have not done anything to him.
He is all the same as me and me all the same as you. Why don't you fight
those people in America who burn Negroes, that make a beast of you...?’"
Approximately 1,000 Black
soldiers married Filipino women and U.S. officials were so alarmed at
the friendships between Black soldiers and Filipinos, that they ordered
the soldiers shipped home early. While the majority of White Americans
supported the war against the Filipinos, there were large protests from
the Black American community, including many of the soldiers.
"The first thing in
the morning is the 'Nigger" and the last thing at night is the
'Nigger,'" wrote Sgt. Patrick Mason of the 24th to a Black newspaper,
the Cleveland Gazette about White soldiers' routine use of the word
to describe both the Filipinos and Black American soldiers. Another
Black infantryman, William Fulbright, wrote the editor of the Black-owned
Indianapolis Freeman: "This struggle on the islands has been naught
but a gigantic scheme of robbery and oppression."
were so alarmed at the friendships between Black soldiers and Filipinos,
that they ordered the soldiers shipped home early.”
But while the majority of
White Americans supported the war, there were many exceptions. Speaking
of the actions of the United States and other Western nations in stealing
land and imposing oppression in the name of democracy and spreading
"civilization," author Mark Twain wrote in the New York Herald:
"I bring you the stately matron of Christendom, returning bedraggled,
besmirched, and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria,
South Africa, and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her
pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies."
Between the end of the Spanish-American
War and the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929, the United States
sent its military into Latin American countries thirty-two times. Haiti
alone was occupied from 1915-1934, so that the U.S. could control both
its politics and its economy – just as the democratically-elected
Bertrand Aristide was deposed by U.S.-supported drug dealers and murderers
in 2004 for the same reasons.
(In the months before the
coup, Aristide had called for reparations from France for the slavery
that had made Haiti France's richest colony. Aristide's demand angered
both France and the U.S., as had his attempts to bring jobs and justice
to the poor, and helped spur his removal from office. In a recent interview,
Haitian folk-singing legend and political activist Annette Auguste,
told how she was arrested by U.S. Marines shortly after the coup against
Aristide and imprisoned for two years without ever being charged. Her
only "crime" apparently was supporting Aristide and his attempts
to help the poor. Auguste said that everyone in her house, including
a five-year-old girl, were arrested by the Marines and handcuffed.)
U.S. Marines suppressed Haitian revolts, used forced labor, destroyed
local democratic institutions, and jailed newspaper editors. Marine
Major-Gen. Smedley Butler, who had retired in 1931, said the main purpose
of the invasion of Haiti was so the Marines could act as bill collectors
for the National City Bank of New York.
National City and other U.S.
and Western banks had managed to gain control of Haiti's economy after
the Haitians refused to pay Westerners for construction of the National
Railway of Haiti. The railroad, which was largely financed by National
City, was never completed. Its main terminal for Port-au-Prince, in
fact, was built in a swamp two miles outside of town. The U.S. used
the alleged default of the Haitian government toward National City and
other bankers, to take control of Haiti, including collection of its
money from customs and other sources.
When Woodrow Wilson became
president, he took time off from introducing racial segregation into
federal offices in Washington, D.C., to appoint William Jennings Bryant
as Secretary of State. One of Bryant's first concerns was to learn more
about Haiti, and when he was told the Haitians spoke French, he exclaimed:
"Dear me, think of it! Niggers speaking French."
A 1918 law giving U.S. corporations
the right to turn Haiti into a U.S. plantation, was passed by just 5%
of the population after Wilson's Marines (led by Smedley Butler) disbanded
the Haitian parliament at gunpoint as an essential move in establishing
But White American racism
was so strong, it destroyed even the pretense that the Marines had occupied
Haiti for the good of the Haitian people. At any rate, U.S. officials
soon openly admitted that they intended to control Haiti because of
its strategic and military importance. They would also open up the island
to any American businesses that wanted to invest there, but their main
objective was to provide protection to the newly-constructed Panama
Canal and the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in American-occupied Cuba.
The United States also grabbed control of the deep harbor of Samana
Bay in the Dominican Republic in 1916, by launching a military occupation
of the island. Control of the bay had been a U.S. objective since the
days of Secretary of State William Seward in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet.
Over seventy years later,
President Bill Clinton secretly authorized the Texaco Oil Company to
illegally ship oil to the Haitian junta that had overthrown Aristide.
The next day Clinton once again sent the Marines into Haiti to "restore
U.S. planners under Clinton
well understood (as so many people in so many previous administrations
had understood), as writer and social critic Noam Chomsky has said,
that "the threat of democracy can be overcome if economic sovereignty
is eliminated.... The forces that reconquered the country are mostly
inheritors of the U.S.-installed army and paramilitary terrorists."
“Once Allende comes
to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans
to utmost poverty."
While the United States
has always been determined to destroy any democracy seen interfering
with U.S. strategic and economic interests, the words and deeds used
to justify that destruction have changed with the times.
In 1970, when the Chilean
people elected Socialist Salvador Allende as their president, the U.S.
ambassador to Chile said: "Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile
under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our
power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost poverty..."
So much for respecting the
results of a democratic election.
In 1973 (on Sept. 11th, fittingly
enough) the U.S. used covert action involving the Central Intelligence
Agency and major corporations, to overthrow Allende. His overthrow resulted
in an estimated 3,000 deaths and the torture of tens of thousands of
ordinary Chileans – all with the whole-hearted support of the
United States, which even sent advisers to help with the killings and
The Beat Goes On
The history of the U.S. destruction
of democracy would be tragic enough if it had stopped at this country's
actions in Haiti and Latin America. Or even if it had stopped with the
1953 coup against the prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, because
he had nationalized his country's oil industry and was going to make
sure most of the profits went to the Iranian people rather than to multinational
oil corporations. His overthrow was engineered by Kermit Roosevelt,
the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, thus continuing the family
tradition of subverting democracy and spreading imperialism.
The U.S. destruction of democracy
continued with its complicity in the 1961murder of the democratically-elected
leader of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba had declared that he was
going to run the country for the Congolese and not for the American
and European corporations who were determined to keep raping the wealth
of the Congo.
"Everyone has realized
that if the Congo dies, all Africa will be plunged into the night of
defeat and servitude," Lumumba said in explaining why he had fought
for the immediate independence of the Congo from Belgium. "The
choice that was offered to us was none other than this alternative:
freedom or the prolongation of our enslavement. There can be no compromise
between freedom and slavery."
administration and the Central Intelligence Agency wholeheartedly backed
the murder of Patrice Lumumba.”
And so the United States
joined with other Western powers to make sure that Lumumba could not
lead his people – and perhaps the rest of Africa – to freedom,
rather than to the neo-colonialism that continues to this day in so
much of that continent.
The murder of Lumumba was
wholeheartedly backed by the Eisenhower administration and the Central
Intelligence Agency. And the killers of Lumumba are said to be active
in Congolese politics to this day, still subverting democracy and selling
the country's riches to the West.
It was natural, then, that
the U.S. supported the mass murderer and torturer, Jonas Savimbi, in
Angola – where landmines Savimbi was given courtesy of rightwing
politicians in the United States, South Africa and Israel, continue
to maim and kill men, women and children to this day. Savimbi was seen
as the West's best "hope" for stopping Angola from becoming
an independent nation in control of its own resources, especially its
The U.S. destruction of democracy
also continued in countless other countries, including East Timor in
Indonesia. While millions mourn the passing of ex-President Gerald Ford,
few remember and the corporate media never mention that the U.S. government
– with Ford's approval and the whole-hearted support of then-Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger – gave the go-ahead for the Indonesian
government to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Timorese because they
wanted democracy. Ninety per cent of the weapons the Indonesians used
to murder the Timorese, were supplied by the United States, which knew
they would be used for that purpose.
Today the U.S. supports the regime in Nigeria that has spent years helping
major oil companies to destroy the land and livelihood – and often
the lives – of ordinary Nigerians. In the eyes of this government,
and in the eyes of the military men in Nigeria, oil is much more important
than the lives of innocent people. And so today the people in the Niger
Delta continue to fight to preserve the land and air that has always
given them life, against the combined forces of U.S. multinational corporations
and the U.S.-supported Nigerian military.
But the most massive destruction
of democracy by the United States is being done in the name of spreading
democracy in the Middle East: its invasion and occupation of Iraq, and
the measures it has taken to control Iraq's oil. One consultant –
in referring to the deposits in Iraq's vast Western desert – called
them the "Holy Grail" of the oil industry, a view echoed by
most big oil executives.
Vice-President Dick Cheney
and other neocons had been working for decades to get their hands on
that oil, and accelerated their efforts once George W. Bush became president.
By the time Bush invaded Iraq, his administration and oil executives
had planned exactly what to do.
Just one month before the
U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, investigative journalist Greg Palast
was given a State Department document that laid out the United States
government's plan to seize Iraq, its oil and everything else of value
in the country.
The document, called "Moving
the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth," was a dream come true
for neocons and their corporate supporters. It called for lowering taxes
on big business, quick sales of Iraq's banks, bridges and all other
"state enterprises" to foreigners (mainly Americans), allowing
foreign corporations to take all of their profits out of Iraq, eliminating
tariffs so U.S. imports would not be taxed and even revising Iraq's
copyright laws to provide fifty years of retroactive royalty payments
to the U.S. recording industry and twenty years of royalties to Microsoft.
“J. Paul Bremer promptly issued 100 orders designed to carry
out the goals of big oil and other corporate interests in Iraq.”
But most of all it concentrated
on taking the oil industry out of the hands of Iraqis and placing it
in the control of Americans and other Westerners. The one law they didn't
change was Saddam Hussein's ban on unions. There was no talk about bringing
democracy to Iraq, but there was plenty of talk about controlling Iraqi's
oil. Executives from Chevron-Texaco, Royal Dutch-Shell and other oil
industry representatives, met at the White House and came up with a
300-page addendum to the plan. This addendum called for the complete
turnover of Iraq's oil industry to international oil companies.
J. Paul Bremer, who had been
the managing director of Kissinger Associates, was installed in Saddam
Hussein's old palace to run Iraq as head of the Coalition Provisional
Authority. He promptly issued 100 orders designed to carry out the goals
of big oil and other corporate interests. Cargill – the world's
biggest grain dealer – was able to dump hundreds of thousands
of tons of wheat on the Iraqi market, thanks to the U.S. elimination
of taxes and tariffs on imported foreign products. One result of this
dumping was the devastation of the livelihoods of Iraqi farmers, who
could not compete with the cheaper surpluses that flooded their country
(Australian surpluses were also dumped on them).
Although Although U.S. officials
from Bush on down like to brag about bringing democracy to Iraq, Bremer
cancelled scheduled elections and only allowed them to be held after
Ayatollah Ali Husaini Sistani threatened to bring a million Shi'ites
into the streets to protest Bremer's action.
General Jay Garner, who
preceded Bremer as head of the CPA but was quickly fired after refusing
to carry out the Economy Plan, said he was bitterly opposed to U.S.
attempts to seize Iraq's oil, pipelines, refineries and ports.
"That's one fight you
don't want to take on," he told Palast.
But the U.S. is taking it
on. While the corporate media in this country have virtually ignored
those parts of the Iraq Study Group report dealing with Iraq's oil,
a simple reading of the report shows that in Chapter 1, Page 1are these
words: "It (Iraq) has the world's second-largest known oil reserves."
The report then goes on to show what the United States can and should
do to gain control of Iraq's oil, including privatizing it, opening
Iraq to private energy and oil companies, and "helping" the
Iraqis draft a new national oil law. This proposed law, which American
"advisers" are working on virtually every day, would assure
U.S. and Western control of Iraq's oil for decades to come. Under this
law, as under the rule of the previous colonial powers, the people of
Iraq would have virtually nothing to say about who gets their oil and
how much they have to pay for it.
Two of the report's authors,
James A. Baker III (the first President Bush's secretary of state) and
Lawrence Eagleburger, have spent most of their adult lives representing
oil companies. In 1982, when then-President Ronald Reagan removed Iraq
from the list of companies sponsoring terrorism, Baker and Eagleburger
took steps to expand trade with Iraq. The two ultimately helped Saddam
Hussein's Iraq receive billions of dollars, which the dictator then
used to buy U.S. goods. In 1984, when Baker became treasury secretary
and Eagleburger became president of Kissinger Associates, Reagan opened
full diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Baker and Eagleburger were
especially interested in Iraq's "vast oil reserves," and wasted
no time in helping both their oil company clients and their law firms
get their hands on Iraqi oil money. It is worth noting that the Iraqi
Study Group report was written, not only by these men, but by several
other conservatives who have long expressed a desire to control Iraq's
U.S. oil companies have
said that passage of a new Iraqi oil law is even more important than
security concerns in deciding when they will move into Iraq. Many people,
therefore, see the continuing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq as necessary
both to pressure Iraqi lawmakers to pass the new law, and to try and
guarantee security for the oil companies.
“Most Iraqi lawmakers
don't even know details about the law the U.S. is trying to force down
When Bremer quickly left
Iraq (some would say when he "fled"), he left behind nearly
200 American "experts" to oversee each new Iraqi minister
(these ministers also had to be approved beforehand by the U.S. government).
The proposed new law is
being worked on feverishly by these American "advisers" and
would require Iraqi lawmakers to sign what are called "production
sharing agreements" (PSAs). PSAs are usually negotiated with weak
governments and typically last for at least 15 to 20 years. Most Iraqi
lawmakers don't even know details about the law the U.S. is trying to
force down their throats. Iraqi knowledge or consent isn't considered
necessary in the taking over of Iraq's oil, though, anymore than it
is considered necessary whenever the U.S. decides that controlling another
country's resources is more important than helping sustain or establish
Greg Gregg Muttitt, a member of a social and environmental NGO (Non-Governmental
Organization) operating in Iraq, said he was recently at a meeting of
members of the Iraqi Parliament (MPs) and asked how many "had seen
the law. Out of twenty, only one MP had seen it."
The same lack of Iraqi participation
was evident when Iraq's constitution was drafted, giving Americans and
other Westerners the ability to assume effective control of the country's
oil. The U.S. has even locked in its new laws, rules and regulations,
so that it will be almost impossible for any future Iraqi government
to change them.
Said one Sunni negotiator:
"This constitution was cooked up in an American kitchen, not an
Though the corporate media
in this country say virtually nothing about the subject, the U.S. has
spent billions of dollars to build permanent military bases in Iraq.
This country has also built the biggest embassy with the biggest staff
in the world in Iraq: a staff that includes many CIA agents. Paul Wolfowitz,
former deputy defense secretary and one of the architects of the invasion
of Iraq, is now president of the World Bank, In that position, say many
critics, he is pressuring Iraqis to sign the new oil law quickly, before
Chinese, Russian and Indian oil firms can move in. To put more pressure
on the Iraqis, Wolfowitz recently opened a World Bank office in Baghdad.
A Nation of Locusts
The hypocrisy inherent in
the deeds of the U.S. government as opposed to its words, has thus continued
unchanged from the writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by
a few privileged white males intent on protecting their economic, political
and social privileges.
John F. Kennedy, who is
revered by millions of Americans, including African Americans, directed
the overthrow of Bolivia's democratically elected government because
he saw it as threatening U.S. corporate control. Kennedy then supported
installation of one of the many neo-Nazi governments this country has
inflicted on Latin America (Successive U.S. governments, for instance,
were perfectly happy with a Cuba riddled by drugs, prostitution, racial
discrimination, and lack of health care and schools, as long as the
rightwing dictators who controlled Cuba put American interests above
the interests of their own poor and largely Black and Brown population).
In 2000, the U.S. hailed
the overthrow of the democratically elected Black Indian president of
Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and his replacement by a rightwing publisher
who immediately dissolved parliament, the judiciary and other instruments
of democracy. Chavez was quickly returned to power by a popular uprising,
but not before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other officials
praised what they hoped and thought would be another pro-rich regime.
Chavez's "crime" consisted mainly of using Venezuela's resources,
including its oil, to benefit poor Venezuelans instead of rich Americans.
Rightwing individuals and organizations intent on destroying Venezuela's
democracy, are still being supported financially and politically by
the United States.
“The Pentagon is
now training soldiers to destroy teachers, doctors, writers and anyone
else in Latin America who tries to bring democracy to that region's
largely Indian and Black populations.”
U.S. training of the Latin
American military has sharply increased in the last few years. And that
training has been shifted from the State Department, which demanded
at least minimal supervision and investigation of human rights abuses,
to the Pentagon, which asks for none. The new training mission for the
Latin American military, as defined by the Pentagon, is now the fighting
of "radical populism." In plain English, that means the Pentagon
is now training soldiers to destroy teachers, doctors, writers and anyone
else in Latin America who tries to bring democracy to that region's
largely Indian and Black populations.
And so today in Venezuela, Nigeria, Haiti, Iraq and probably many other
countries we're not even aware of, democracy is being destroyed or threatened
by the United States, as it has been throughout history when big business
wanted it destroyed.
In "Confessions of
an Economic Hit Man," John Perkins describes how he was often sent
by the U.S. government into some Third World country that had something
the U.S. wanted: from oil or other natural resources to strategic location.
He then tried to persuade the country's leader to agree to a project
like building oil pipelines or a power plant or a dam. Anything that
would cost a lot of money.
The cost of the project,
which would be grossly inflated, would be paid for by loans from the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund. All work would be done by
American firms, which received huge profits. Inevitably the Third World
country would be unable to repay the loan and would then become, in
effect, an American puppet doing whatever the U.S. wanted – from
giving control of its resources to multinational corporations to voting
whatever way the U.S. wanted in the United Nations to allowing the U.S.
to build military bases in the country.
If the hit man's plan didn't
work, Perkins said, then the U.S. government sent in "jackals"
from the CIA to try and foment civil disorder. If the leader of the
Third World country still resisted, "accidents" happened to
them. In the 1980's, Panama's Omar Torrijos, who insisted on retaining
control of Panama's resources and helping the poor in his country, and
Ecuador's Jaime Roldas, whose goals were the same for his country, were
both killed in mysterious plane crashes.
Torrijos had taken land
from the rich and given it to peasants, and initiated other economic
and social programs that antagonized powerful Panamanian families and
their American supporters.
“If the leader
of the Third World country still resisted, ‘accidents’ happened
"Their deaths were
not accidental," Perkins said of Torrijos and Roldas in an interview
on the radio and television show Democracy Now. "They were assassinated
because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking
heads whose goal is global empire. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring
Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned
jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in... It's only in
rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort
(as of 2006, the U.S. maintained 725 military bases in 132 countries,
including a huge new base in the nation of Djibouti to help control
Africa, its resources and its politics. The CIA Fact Book, in describing
Djibouti’s importance to the West, said it has a "strategic
location near (the) world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian
oilfields..." Djibouti, in fact, can control access to the Red
Sea, which is why both France and the U.S. maintain a strong military
presence in that small African nation).
If Torrijos and Roldas had
gone along with U.S. wishes, their nations would have been plunged into
widespread poverty, and large American corporations would have taken
over their infrastructure, resources and political decision-making.
And so while the military
is still used to control other nations and their resources, as we can
easily see in Iraq, the economic controls in the so-called Free Trade
Agreements the U.S. has forced on much of Latin America, are now increasingly
used to steal the riches of other regions. Even the forgiveness of the
debt of poor nations that Bush has bragged about, said Perkins, is a
"complete sham" that forces the poor nations to allow large
American corporations to take over their water, gas, power, telephone
and education systems.
The U.S. destruction of
democracy can be compared to the actions of locusts. I used to spend
every summer on my grandparents' farm in Ohio, and I helped my grandfather
plant, repair fences, bring in the hay, whatever needed doing. He was
a man who could go hours without saying more than a few dozen words.
But he said one thing I've never forgotten, because it applies to so
many situations in life, including U.S. history: "When locusts
move on, they leave nothing behind."
This nation has acted like
a plague of locusts in other lands throughout its history (and as slave-owning,
land-stealing locusts within this country, starting with the enslavement
of Africans and the slaughtering of Native Americans because Whites
wanted their land and labor). While the method of this country's greed-driven
destruction has sometimes changed, the goal remains the same as it has
always been: to steal in order to make rich Americans richer, even if
that means creating generation after generation of locusts swarming
around the world, seizing everything they value.
Or, as Marine Major-General
Smedley Butler described them when he summed up his career decades ago:
creating generation after generation of "gangsters for capitalism."
Clinton L. Cox
is a veteran journalist living in upstate New York. He can be reached
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