from the chapter
Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy
from the book
by Michael Parenti
publisher - City Lights Books
261 Columbus Avenue
Sand Francisco, CA 94133
Why has the United States government supported counterinsurgency
in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other places around
the world, at such a loss of human life to the populations of
those nations? Why did it invade tiny Grenada and then Panama?
Why did it support mercenary wars against progressive governments
in Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Indonesia,
East Timor, Western Sahara, South Yemen, and elsewhere? Is it
because our leaders want to save democracy? Are they concerned
about the well-being of these defenseless peoples? Is our national
security threatened? I shall try to show that the arguments given
to justify U.S. policies are false ones. But this does not mean
the policies themselves are senseless. American intervention may
seem "wrongheaded" but, in fact, it is fairly consistent
and horribly successful.
The history of the United States has been one of territorial and
economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S.
business class in the form of growing investments and markets,
access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation
of enormous profits. The American people have had to pay the costs
of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their
taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic
services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives
in overseas military ventures.
The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples
of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease,
dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction
of their lands, cultures, and lives.
Support the Good Guys?
If revolutions arise from the sincere aspirations of the populace,
then it is time the United States identify itself with these aspirations,
so liberal critics keep urging. They ask: "Why do we always
find ourselves on the wrong side in the Third World? Why are we
always on the side of the oppressor?" Too bad the question
is treated as a rhetorical one, for it is deserving of a response.
The answer is that right-wing oppressors, however heinous they
be, do not tamper with, and give full support to, private investment
and profit, while the leftists pose a challenge to that system.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European
communist governments, U.S. Ieaders now have a freer hand in their
interventions. A number of left reformist governments that had
relied on the Soviets for economic assistance and political protection
against U.S. interference now have nowhere to turn. The willingness
of U.S. Ieaders to tolerate economic deviations does not grow
with their sense of their growing power. Quite the contrary. Now
even the palest economic nationalism, as displayed in Iraq by
Saddam Hussein over oil prices, invites the destructive might
of the U.S. military. The goal now, as always, is to obliterate
every trace of an alternative system, to make it clear that there
is no road to take except that of the free market, in a world
in which the many at home and abroad will work still harder for
less so that the favored few will accumulate more and more wealth.
That is the vision of the future to which most U.S. Ieaders are
implicitly dedicated. It is a vision taken from the past and never
forgotten by them, a matter of putting the masses of people at
home and abroad back in their place, divested of any aspirations
for a better world because they are struggling too hard to survive
in this one.
Michael Parenti page