Like the threads of an intricate tapestry, a remarkable homogeneity runs through the course of American history, regardless of which political party has occupied the Whitehouse, or which controls Congress. Either there is powerful collusion involved, or American foreign policy has been forged by the same forces that have gotten us into hundreds of military conflicts around the world. Those forces have consistently enriched a select few and impoverished multitudes. They have overseen the collapse of the middle class and stealthily promoted class warfare in America.
Whatever military conflicts we have been embroiled in was not because of the differences inherent in the Democratic and Republican Parties; it is because both parties are under the control of the ruling class; and neither party has adequately represented the interests of working class people. While there are some minor differences between the two major political parties, they are primarily cosmetic. Under the guise of capitalism and so called free trade, the two parties long ago merged into a single political force that is fueled by corporate money. This single party system not only caters to the rich–it exploits the shrinking middle class and especially harms the working poor.
In this repressive substitution for democracy only those who have amassed substantial wealth have a voice in government. Those with the most wealth have the greatest influence on how the country is run. In a corrupt political system money equates to free speech. Those with money have a voice; those without do not. The American form of corporate governance allows the poor and the working class virtually no voice in government. Nevertheless, this is a kind of representative government–the kind in which the rich and powerful are represented but the working poor are not. Under the rules of corporate governance, the working poor and the eroding middle class–indeed more than ninety-five percent of the population–are left out in the cold to fend for themselves. The result is that the vast majority of the people are left to feed upon the crumbs that fall under the table from the incestuous players who are wealthy enough to afford a seat at the table. This shameful deception is what passes for democracy in the public mind.
As William Blum documents in his book “Killing Hope,” the United States government has been directly involved in thirty-six foreign political assassination attempts between 1949 and 1999 alone. These are the ones we know about. There have been many more since then, some successful, others not. We have permanent military bases in one hundred and thirty countries and plans for many more; many of them in the Middle East and Asia. There are fifty-four documented instances of the U.S. military abroad between the dawn of the twentieth century and the beginning of World War Two in 1941. U.S. military actions have been sharply on the rise since the end of World War Two in 1945.
These events coincide with the growth of U.S. imperialism, hegemony and the pursuit of empire. The Bush-led invasion of Iraq last year was only the latest incarnation of the many instances of manifest destiny that have sullied the reputation of the U.S. abroad for more than a century. Coincidentally, this is why so much of the world hates us; and this is why 9/11 happened. Those events are the manifestation of cause and effect: a reaction to U.S.–Israeli Middle Eastern policies.
Between 1900 and the year 2000 the United States has sponsored or undertaken over a hundred military incursions upon foreign soil. During that time we elected eighteen presidents: eleven Republicans and seven Democrats. The second half of the twentieth century was particularly bloody. Beginning with Harry S. Truman and running through Bill Clinton, the United States elected ten presidents: half of them Republicans, half Democrats. Throughout most of the century the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Recently, however, the Republicans have gained the upper hand.
During the past century the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow numerous democratically elected governments, including Salvador Allende in Chile and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. These CIA initiated interventions, assassinations and invasions have always occurred against leftist, people-oriented governments, often with socialist leanings. Thus the question arises: Why does the United States have a long history of invading and destabilizing democratic countries that do not embrace capitalism? The answer lies in capitalism’s top down distribution of wealth. Capitalism demands cheap resources–often other people’s resources (Iraqi oil for instance)–cheap labor and unfettered access to global markets for the further spread of capitalism. The mentality of the high priests of capitalism is akin to the ideology of the cancer cell. The principle is based upon unsustainable consumption and unrestrained growth.
With the realization that these military actions occurred almost equally regardless of which party was in power comes strong evidence that a single force is driving those destructive policies–a force that clearly does not operate in the public interest. That party unifying force is the ruling class power structure of corporate governance. It is driven by the economic engine of capitalism that concentrates wealth at the top of the economic ladder. Capitalism makes the rich richer by exploiting the poor much in the way that slave labor built the pre-civil war south into an economic power–a power that could not endure because it rested on the precarious underpinnings of social injustice.
Since those who are conscripted to fight and die in wars are disproportionately the poor (especially the black poor), it follows that they could not have favored these policies unless they are suicidal or deliberately deceived by the ruling class with the aid of a complicit media. A trenchant example of this kind of deception and public relations campaign is the recent invasion and occupation of Iraq championed by George Bush and his ilk in the oil industry. After all, t is not the ruling class who are being ambushed, maimed and killed in Iraq; it is the working poor; ordinary people like you and I. Likewise, it is the working poor we are killing in Iraq, not the likes of Saddam Hussein and George Bush–both of whom, I suggest, have much in common. Would the working poor be over there dying for the likes of Dick Chaney and Halliburton if they understood this truth? Or would there be rebellion resulting in the overthrow of King George or whoever happens to be president when the truth is finally uncovered and acted upon by the huge majority of Americans?
The fact is that the United States has never intentionally furthered the cause of democracy anywhere in the world, as it has so often claimed. In fact, the U.S. has steadfastly opposed democratic governments. I know that this sounds unduly harsh and critical; but understanding our past leads to no other conclusion. Democracy is the avowed enemy of fascism; just as it is the adversary of capitalism. The U.S. has a troubling history of overthrowing democratically elected governments. Why? By now the answer should be obvious.
So let us not waste too much time and energy spitting hairs over who wins the next presidential election: Bush or Kerry. In the grand scheme it makes little difference. In a corrupt system like ours’ the ruling class will win and the working class will lose. At the outset the media winnows real champions of Democracy such as Dennis Kucinich from the field. In two short weeks it took former Democratic front runner Howard Dean and relegated him to the scrap heap of obscurity–not that Dean was ever very radical or particularly progressive in his politics. When the system precludes all real and substantial choices the outcome has already been decided. Although it would be hard to imagine a worse president than George Bush, we have bigger problems to contend with. Bush is a symptom of a disease that is far more insidious and systemic–a political system that is riddled with the cancer of special interest influence. It is true that Bush must go–but so too must the despicable system that spawned him.
CHARLES SULLIVAN is a veteran wild forest activist, writer and cabinetmaker who resides on twenty acres of land in the rural countryside of West Virginia.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org