FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bankrupt and Belligerent

by ROBERT FANTINA

While a frantic Senator John McCain is running around the country trying to link Senator Barack Obama with revolutionary activities that took place when Mr. Obama was eight years old, and while the economy of the U.S. is imploding and taking much of the world down with it, people seem to have lost sight of the fact that there are still two U.S.-spawned wars going on. Certainly, the candidates managed to mention them at their most recent debate, but most of the talk was about how each’s opponent had or hadn’t lived up to the ideal of perfection that citizens seem to want in their elected representatives, an ideal that no candidate has come anywhere near since the nation’s founding.

As tragic as such things as unemployment, bankruptcy and home foreclosure are, perhaps we can once again return to the topic of war. President George Bush’s worn out clichés are still there: the war in Iraq is the central front on the war on terror; that nation threatens the security of the U.S.; more troops are needed for victory; Iraq will become a model of democracy in the Middle East, etc. etc. Each has been completely debunked, but that does not stop the president, on the rare occasions that he comes out of his house, where his lease is fast expiring, to comment to the people he has oppressed these last eight years.

Does it seem that we have heard this all before? Let’s take a look at the latter part of the twentieth century.

In March of 1965, General William Westmoreland cautioned that defeat in Vietnam was imminent, and recommended that the U.S. ‘take whatever actions are necessary’ in order to ‘postpone indefinitely the day of collapse.’ His recommendation included the deployment of additional combat units, what was then called ‘escalation,’ but today is called either ‘augmentation’ or, more commonly, ‘the surge.’ This resulted eventually in the huge escalation of the Vietnam War and the deaths of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese, and over 50,000 U.S. soldiers. The U.S. was nearly bankrupt as a result of that war, the country was polarized between ‘hawks’ and ‘doves,’ and its international reputation was in tatters. Sound familiar?

In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon, well-known for paranoia, saw the probable election of Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist, as president of Chile as somehow threatening to the U.S. Six years earlier the U.S., through the CIA, had spent millions to defeat Mr. Allende, and now Mr. Nixon was fearful of a Marxist president being democratically elected. With the complicity of his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger he worked to prevent Mr. Allende’s election and, failing that, sought means to prevent his inauguration. Not managing to accomplish that either, he had to be content with destabilizing his nation, and supporting an eventual coup d’etat. So much for democratic elections.

In 1983, the government of the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada was overthrown. President Ronald Reagan, possibly still smarting from the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, needed to flex American muscle to show that the U.S. was still a military leader. In Operation Urgent Fury (why on earth does the U.S. insist on naming its invasions? And who comes up with these idiotic names?), the U.S. invaded Grenada ostensibly to protect U.S. medical students in that nation. However, on October 29 of that same year, the following was reported in the New York Times:

“The formal request that the U.S. and other friendly countries provide military help was made by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States last Sunday at the request of the United States. The wording of the formal request… was drafted in Washington and conveyed to the Caribbean leaders by special American emissaries.”

The U.S. needed a victory, and it would manufacture one, if necessary.

Today, Mr. McCain persists in his opinion that the U.S. must ‘win’ in Iraq. His definition of victory is elusive; he never expounds on it, being content to let the word ‘win’ entice his audience. Even Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, is looking for an end to the U.S. presence in his nation, agreeing with Mr. Obama on a sixteen month timeframe for withdrawal. This is one difference between Iraq in 2008 and Vietnam in 1972. At that time, Vietnam’s president Nguyen Van Thieu predicted to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird that “the war would go on for many years and that we should be talking about U.S. participation.”

What can be learned from these few examples of U.S. foreign policy? Perhaps one lesson is how misnamed is the title ‘Secretary of Defense.’ In nearly all situations in which the U.S. has invoked military action, it has been offensive rather than defensive. Even though the mask of defense is generally used to camouflage the real intent, a cursory investigation is all that is required to reveal the truth.

With all the talk about the economy, one still needs to keep an eye on Mr. Bush’s intentions toward Iran and Cuba. And it is not only Mr. Bush who presents a danger there; at the most recent presidential debate, both candidates affirmed their belief that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. It was somewhat ironic to hear Mr. McCain blather on about how the U.S. is the greatest force for good in the world, despite its long and ugly history of racism, genocide and imperialism, and then state that Iran must not have the same weapons that the U.S. has been stockpiling for years. In 1969 Mr. Nixon considered using those weapons during Operation Duck Hook (see comment above about ridiculous names for military operations). Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, but why is Iran’s possible possession of nuclear weapons so much more dangerous than the U.S.’s possession of them?

During the debate, Mr. McCain was highly critical of Mr. Obama’s reasonable, sensible statement that the U.S. meet with the leaders of Iran, Cuba and other nations it considers hostile. He said that such meetings should only occur following the agreement of preconditions set by the U.S. Mr. Obama responded by saying it is as important that the U.S. talk to its friends as to its enemies. If one wants to consider the consequences of not talking to the U.S.’s ‘enemies,’ one only has to look at the situation the world is currently in due to the U.S.’s failure to do just that.

The presidential election is less than a month away. Current indications are that Mr. Obama will make history by being the first African-American elected to the presidency. Should that be the case one fervently hopes that he will honor his commitment to withdraw from Iraq; to meet with nations who, frequently with every good reason, are hostile to the U.S., and will take other steps to right the grievous wrongs the U.S. has committed at least within the last eight years. Its long history of crimes cannot be undone by one president, but at least some of the horrific damage inflicted by the incompetent, oil-lusting and power-mad Mr. Bush can be undone.

If, on the other hand, Mr. McCain is elected, the world can expect the same macho belligerency that it has witnessed under Mr. Bush. The nation somehow has survived the eight years of the Bush reign, but with the economy imploding, the outlook for relief dim, and two unwinnable wars raging, four years under Mr. McCain will only prolong the suffering. By then it may be too late to turn back.

ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

February 21, 2018
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein’s on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail