Sunday, September 14, 2008

American Myths & Delusions of Racial Superiority & Empire

Update: Sept. 14, 1:14 pm 2008

Anyway, the United States has had a long history of allying itself with various Repressive Regimes whether dictatorships , or Oligarthies and other authoritarian regimes which denied the mass of their peoples basic human rights , freedoms & liberties.

Behind this policy of intervention in the affairs of foreign nations is based on various National Myths such as American Exceptionism and Manifest Destiny combined with Anglo-Saxon racism . These views were held by both the religious and the secular. The religious form is that America is somehow a nation chosen by God to evangelize the world and to subdue all those who are not Chritian. The secular view is based in part on racism that is that there are various races but they are not equal . Europeans or Anglo-saxons are at the top of the hierachy the rest of the races therefore act in one way or another to the benefit of the White Race. Though the notion of race is also found wrapped in religiuos garp instead of some form of pseudoscience. This of course goes against the very principles of democracy as in " all men are born equal..." Racism as we see still has a hold on a large number of Americans. So born out of such a racist based mythology America as a nation or by way of its leaders & its government have a less than benevolent attitude towards the rest of the world . So anyone who runs for office in America is supposed to be an interpret of these myths and put them into policy and action.Those who seek reform are seen as a threat, as dangerous, a risk by those in power and those who have bought into the mythology of America's Exceptionalism .

God has not made America the chosen nation and it is not necessarily its destiny or in its genetic makeup to be the world's no. 1 nation or the ruler of the world or its saviour . If only America and Americans could shed these myths, dreams and delusions it could take its place as one among equals and not superior. But America as a personality it is deluded & Arrogant.

From: David F. Schmitz on Dictatorships
Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy

American Foreign Relations Dictatorships by David F. Schmitz

By the middle of the century, a clear policy had emerged in Washington that the United States would recognize any government that could maintain itself in power and meet the minimum obligations of government. In 1848, Secretary of State James Buchanan, summarizing this policy, stated: "We do not go behind the existing government to involve ourselves in the question of legitimacy. It is sufficient for us to know that a government exists, capable of maintaining itself; and then its recognition on our part inevitably follows."

Simultaneously, however, Americans developed other positions that would come to shape the nation's attitudes toward dictatorships in the twentieth century. Central to these were the notions of the racial inferiority of other peoples, the desire for stability and order in the world as necessary for the promotion and protection of American economic interests, and a growing fear of revolution. The concept of race has been an all-pervasive one in American history from the first contact with Native Americans and the importation of Africans as slaves. By the nineteenth century, an essentialist outlook dominated white Americans' thinking on race. Different people were placed in categories based on what were believed to be their inherent traits as peoples, groups, and nations. Anglo-Saxons were considered the most advanced race, carrying civilization wherever they went.

Groups were ranked in descending order of civilization and ability to govern and maintain stability. Other western Europeans were seen as near equals to Anglo-Saxons. The rest of the peoples of the world were categorized as either inherently dangerous or unfit for self-rule, and usually both. Latin Europeans and Slavs were seen as fundamentally undemocratic as people, and all non-Europeans were seen as inferior and in need of guidance and direction from "their betters." These views were buttressed by the development of the "scientific" idea of social Darwinism that held that the domination of western Europe and the United States over world affairs as well as their greater wealth were merely the working out of natural selection and the survival of the fittest.

These ideas were consolidated at the beginning of the twentieth century in the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. In the wake of the Spanish-American War and the acquisition of the Panama Canal zone, the maintenance of order in the Caribbean and Central America was becoming an ever-growing concern to the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt worried about the negative impact of unrest to the south on American trade and investments, and sought various means to preserve order through the assertion of police power over the other nations in the hemisphere. Roosevelt believed that the increasing interdependence and complexity of international political and economic relations made it incumbent on what he saw as the civilized powers to insist on the proper behavior of other nations. In 1904, Roosevelt provided his rationale for why revolutions were dangerous and justification for American intervention in Latin America in what became the Roosevelt Corollary:

If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotency, to the exercise of an international policy power.
Soon after, U.S. troops were dispatched to Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras to maintain order.


The upheavals of World War I also led to a reevaluation of American views on right-wing dictatorships after the war. Republican policymakers rejected Wilson's criticism of autocracy and sought to back any individual or group they thought could ensure order and stability while opposing communism and protecting U.S. trade, investments, and interests. Beginning in the 1920s, American policymakers developed and institutionalized the logic, rationale, and ideological justifications for U.S. support of right-wing dictatorships that has influenced American policy ever since.

American officials first articulated their emerging rationale for supporting right-wing dictatorships in response to the post–World War I events in Italy. The United States came to support the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini based on a view that there was a Bolshevik threat in Italy and that the Italian people were not prepared for democratic rule. This unpreparedness and inability at self-government, American policymakers believed, created the instability that bred Bolshevism. These beliefs served to legitimize U.S. support of Mussolini in the name of defending liberalism. America's paternalistic racism combined with anticommunism to lead American officials to welcome the coming to power of fascism in Italy. The fascists, they believed, would bring the stability that would prevent Bolshevism and that was a precondition for economic recovery and increased trade.

This logic and rationale was quickly extended to other right-wing dictatorships, often after the overthrow of democratic governments, that were perceived to meet all of the qualifications for U.S. support: promise of political stability, anti-Bolshevism, and increased trade with the United States. The quest for order in a framework acceptable to Washington led the United States to support Anastasio Somoza Garcia in Nicaragua, General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez in El Salvador, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, and Francisco Franco in Spain, and the Fourth of August regime in Greece during the interwar years. Similar to the situation in Italy, the specter of communism and the argument that the people of these nations were not yet ready for democracy underlay the United States support for these dictators. Moreover, in Latin America this policy had another benefit to U.S. officials. It allowed the United States to find a new means to establish order in the region without direct military intervention. American forces had intervened no fewer than twelve times in different nations in the Caribbean basin. These actions, however, failed to provide long-term stability. Rather, as Henry L. Stimson, secretary of state from 1929 to 1933, noted, disorder continued to grow. Yet, if the United States tried to take the lead in the area, Latin Americans complained of American domination and imperialism. Right-wing dictators provided the desired solution by providing both imposed order while ending the cry against American imperialism.

and after WWII :

By 1947 the United States came again to prefer "stable" right-wing regimes in the Third World over indigenous radicalism and what it saw as dangerously unstable democratic governments. The pronouncement of the Truman Doctrine and the adoption of containment as the global policy of the United States brought about the change. Truman announced in March 1947 that the United States now faced a global contest between two competing and incompatible ways of life: democracy and totalitarian communism. Democracy represented government "based upon the will of the majority" expressed through "free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression." Communism meant the "will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies on terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms." It was now a bipolar world. It did not matter that many of the governments the United States came to support more resembled Truman's description of communism than democracy. If it was now a contest between only two ways of life, governments had to fit into one side of the divide or the other. Right-wing regimes became part of the free world no matter what the composition of their governments.
and : dictatorships and authoritarian regimes which were not associated with Communism would be suported no matter how oppressive they were for what mattered was stability and America's ability to carry on business activities with the regime ...


... Critics charged that in addition to the questionable morality of supporting right-wing dictators, the policy, while providing short-term benefits, usually led to larger problems for the United States in the long run, mainly long-term instability... Dictatorships created political polarization, blocked any effective means for reforms, destroyed the center, and created a backlash of anti-American sentiment that opened the door to radical nationalist movements that brought to power the exact type of governments the United States most opposed and originally sought to prevent. From Cuba to Iran to Nicaragua, and most tragically in Vietnam, the limits of this policy were discovered.
Support of authoritarian regimes was not completely abandoned by any means, as Richard Nixon's policy in Chile of supporting General Augusto Pinochet's overthrow of the government of Salvador Allende and the continued good relations with leaders such as the shah of Iran demonstrate. But the political climate had changed and policymakers were now forced to defend their position in public and take into account sustained criticisms of American support of dictatorships. For many, the Vietnam War and the postwar revelations of American covert actions in the Third World provided convincing evidence that the old policy of support for dictators was flawed and, more importantly, damaging to American interests and doomed to fail. Critics called for the United States to reorient its moral compass and to find methods other than covert activity and support of brutal dictators to advance American interests in the world. Although no complete swing of the policy pendulum took place, new views were heard and different approaches would be implemented, most notably President James Earl Carter's emphasis on human rights.
The establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Church Committee) provided a central focus for investigations into American covert actions and support of right-wing dictators. The committee chair, Senator Frank Church of Idaho, summarized the position of many critics when he argued during the bicentennial year of 1976 that it was time to return to the objective of the nation's founders and place the United States at the helm of moral leadership in the world. Yet, as his committee revealed, that notion had fallen by the wayside, replaced by the support of brutal dictators, Central Intelligence Agency–orchestrated coups in democratic nations, and assassination plots against foreign leaders. For all of its efforts, the nation found itself involved in a divisive, immoral war in Vietnam and allied to countries that mocked the professed ideals of the United States. Church concluded that American foreign policy had to conform once more to the country's historic ideals and the fundamental belief in freedom and popular government.
and President Carter went further claiming that these covert operations & military actions went against America's basic values and thereby diminished its claim to moral superiority :
Carter succinctly summarized the criticisms of supporting right-wing dictators. "For too many years," the president announced, "we've been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs. We've fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is better quenched with water. This approach," he noted, "failed, with Vietnam the best example of its intellectual and moral poverty." Carter, therefore, called for a policy based on a commitment to "human rights as a fundamental tenet of our foreign policy." The nation's policy must be guided by "a belief in human freedom." The old policy was, according to Carter, based on an inaccurate reading of history and the development of democracy. Strength and stability were not the prerequisites of freedom: "The great democracies are not free because we are strong and prosperous." Rather, Carter concluded, "we are strong and influential and prosperous because we are free."

(and then came Jeanne Kirkpatrick & Ronald Reagan & Real Politik sounds a lot like Condoleeza Rice & Dick Cheney)

The key to Kirkpatrick's argument lay in her claim that because right-wing dictators left traditional societies in place, "given time, propitious economic, social, and political circumstances, talented leaders, and a strong indigenous demand for representative government," their nations could evolve from autocratic states into democracies. Totalitarian communist states, she flatly asserted, could not. Indeed, by their very nature, communist nations shut off any of these avenues toward development and, therefore, democratic change. Hence, right-wing dictatorships were an inevitable and necessary stage of government for Third World nations. Support by Washington was not only in the national interest but was helping to provide the necessary conditions for modernization and the development of democracy

then the Cold War abrubtly ended:

The end of the Cold War challenged many of the ideas previously used to justify American support of right-wing dictators and opposition to left-wing regimes. Anticommunism no longer provided a unifying theme for American policy, and no other single policy replaced it. Still, the conflict between the American efforts to promote democracy in other nations and the need to protect other interests remains. While the 1990s provided examples of Washington's support for the democratic process from the Balkans to Southeast Asia, the United States has also continued to support many dictators in the name of stability and economic development. Moreover, as the only superpower, the United States has found itself drawn into conflicts around the world. Some of these interventions have led it to back local efforts at democracy and self-determination, while others have seen it support the status quo. Without a full commitment to make the promotion of democracy and human rights as the top priority over other interests and claims, the only thing certain is that the dilemma of what attitudes to take toward dictators will remain.

From Blog " The Experiment "
US Selling More Weapons to Undemocratic Regimes That Support ‘War on Terror’ May 26, 2005

The United States has ramped up arms sales to some of the world’s most repressive and undemocratic regimes in a misguided attempt to bolster counter-terrorism efforts since the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. soil, says a new report from leading arms trade researchers.

The report, from the Arms Trade Resource Center at New York-based New School University’s World Policy Institute, says increased weapons sales and grants have been used to reward countries that have either joined what the White House calls its ”war on terror” or have backed the U.S. administration’s military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States ranks top among the world’s arms exporters and in developing countries, a majority of its arms are sold to regimes ”defined as undemocratic by our own State Department,” says the study released Wednesday.
The study acknowledges that the increased weapons transfers are aimed at rewarding coalition partners and ensuring continued U.S. military access to overseas bases.
But in the long run, it adds, the strategy risks undermining–not enhancing–U.S. security.

”Arming undemocratic governments all too often helps to enhance their power, frequently fueling conflict or enabling human rights abuses in the process. These blows to the reputation of the United States are in turn impediments to winning the ‘war of ideas’ in the Muslim world and beyond, a critical element in drying up financial and political support for terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda,” the report says.

and :-------

The United States transfers more weapons and military services than any other country in the world, according to the report. Between 1992 and 2003, the last year for which complete data are available, it sold $177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations.

”In 2003 alone, the Pentagon and State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of $5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry–nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty,” the study says.

”Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records,” it adds. In 2003, for example, $2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments branded as ”undemocratic” by the State Department.

U.S. programs are supplying arms to 18 of 25 countries embroiled in ”active conflicts,” or warfare against domestic or foreign foes, the study says. These include Angola, Chad, Colombia, Ethiopia, Israel, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
Additionally, U.S. arms transfers to Uzbekistan–where at least 169 anti-government demonstrators were killed last week–”exemplify the negative consequences of arming repressive regimes,” it says.

Countries deemed undemocratic by the State Department that nevertheless rank among the largest recipients of U.S. military aid and sales include Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion in 2003), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), United Arab Emirates ($110 million), and Uzbekistan ($33 million).
2. Found at Craig Murray 'war on terror' must not become a cover to support repressive regimes Robin Cook, Independent, 24 October 2003

Uzbekistan is a challenging case for human rights advocates. Amnesty International sums up its record with the blunt word, "dire". The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has reported that its use in Uzbekistan is "systematic". The Foreign Office, to its credit, provides a frank exposure of the failings of the regime in the recent edition of its Human Rights Annual Report, which Labour started publishing on taking office. The section on Uzbekistan registers the case of two prisoners who were tortured to death with boiling water, and is illustrated with a photograph of inmates at a "notoriously brutal" prison. Our ambassador's excellent speech on the need for Uzbekistan to improve its standards is reprinted as an annexe to the Annual Report (which suggests approval rather than reprimand from his ministers).

To describe the practices in such countries as human rights violations does not rise to the occasion. We are not contemplating simply a legalistic breach of a multilateral code, but brutal abuse of individual persons, who will have suffered excruciating agony and cowed in terror from the next interrogation. Silence is not an option for the international community in the face of the screams of the victims of torture. In Britain we enjoy the right to express ourselves freely without fear that we or our families will be imprisoned and beaten for our views. As Tony Blair never tires of reminding us, with rights come responsibilities, and the high standard of human rights that we enjoy puts on us a special responsibility to speak up for those peoples who are denied liberty.

Repressive regimes tend to resent criticism from outside as much as dissent from the inside. They are given to pleading that the West is committing a form of cultural imperialism when it imposes its standards of liberty, free speech and popular democracy. This is self-serving nonsense. There is no evidence that the peoples, rather than the governments, of any country regard torture and arbitrary imprisonment as an important part of their national heritage. As Kofi Annan memorably observed, African mothers also weep when their sons or daughters are killed or maimed. We see their tears on television in our living rooms. We are witnesses to their suffering, and if we stay silent we become accomplices in their oppression.

and the author concludes that it does little good to the West when it supports repressive regimes which beat and kill peaceful protestors and uses torture on its prisoners which now appears an oddity given the fact that Most Americans Canadians and Brits by their silence have given approval to those in authority to use torture on so called " terrorists Detainees". Our moral superiority was destroyed at Gitmo and Abu Ghraid and dozens of other prisons where detainees are now routinely tortured. Of course the Bush /MacCain regime defines torture in such a way that a detainee has to be on the verge of death before it can be called torture and they deny that brutal , inhumane or attacks on human dignity of detainees is just a lot of nonsense since these are just part of the detaining process. How far the West has now fallen. We have created our own Gestapo type techniques to be use at the discretion of prison guards or MPs or common soldiers in the name of what our dictatorial rule over the rest of the planet.
There is a similar message for the Bush administration to ponder. It is rumoured that the British ambassador to Tashkent has fallen out of favour not so much because he upset the government of Uzbekistan, but because that in turn upset the government of the US, which has secured a base from which to prosecute its operations in Afghanistan. We have been here before. Nothing more discredited the conduct of the West in the Cold War than its willingness to form alliances with reactionary regimes around the globe to whom freedom and democracy were strange and threatening concepts. It would be a tragedy if the Bush administration were to revert to turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in order to find allies in its War on Terror.
It would also be a political blunder. We will only beat the terrorists if we stand by the values of liberty, tolerance and non-violence which are the strengths of the open societies they want to destroy. We provide grist to the propaganda mill of the fundamentalists if we allow ourselves to be associated with regimes who have as little compunction as the terrorists in using violence for their own ends. Terrorism will not be beaten by security measures alone and must be defeated politically.
None of this means that making progress on human rights is going to be easy. But there are no voices more irritating than the world-weary who argue that because we cannot make the world perfect we should give up trying to make it better. The growing interdependence of countries gives us ever greater opportunities for economic leverage and political persuasion of repressive regimes. If we refuse to take these opportunities, we ourselves share responsibility for the agony and the terror of the tortured victims of the regimes with whom we connive without protest.

also see: Monday, June 13, 2005 by the Long Island, NY Newsday Hypocritical U.S. Fight for 'Freedom'
Bush arms repressive regimes, sends guns to nations in conflict, ties aid to support of America's terror war by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan
which was posted at

and: from AlterNet Ending Tyranny, The Bush Way
By Frida Berrigan, .Sept.13, 2005
The U.S. has a long-standing (and accelerating) policy of arming, training and aiding some of the world's most repressive regimes.

The U.S. has a long-standing (and accelerating) policy of arming, training and aiding some of the world's most repressive regimes. Close anti-terrorism allies include the authoritarian Uzbekistan and the thinly veiled military dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. In the Philippines, Colombia and elsewhere, U.S. weapons and military training have been turned against civilians. From Indonesia to the Sudan, U.S. geopolitical interests and access to resources are trumping concerns about human rights, ongoing conflict and the pressing need for development.
and from The Christian Science Monitor February 07, 2006: Supporting repressive regimes encourages extremism by Max Boot

NEW YORK – Hamas's victory in the Palestinian elections last week is widely seen as discrediting President Bush's desire to spread democracy. Actually, the electoral triumph of this pro-terrorist, anti-Western movement offers more evidence for the failure of the cynical approach that the United States pursued before Mr. Bush came into office - a pseudo-realistic policy of using supposedly benign dictators to repress Islamic extremists...

also see Human Rights Watch esp. article : US State Department Continues to Criticize Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of Detainees around the WorldMarch 2008

On March 11, 2008, the United States Department of State released its 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The State Department’s annual reports have consistently criticized treatment inflicted on detainees by other countries that amounts to “torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” Many of the techniques condemned by the State Department, however, have been known to be used by US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the “war on terrorism.” In 2005 Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibits the use of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and mandates that all military interrogators abide by what is known as the Army Field Manual on Interrogations.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration continues to authorize the Central Intelligence Agency to employ so-called “enhanced” interrogation methods that go beyond what is permitted by the Army Field Manual. The administration has acknowledged that it used a technique known as “waterboarding,” a form of controlled drowning in which a person begins to suffocate as water is forced up his nostrils and into his respiratory tract, and which has been prosecuted as torture by the United States for over 100 years. While the administration states that it no longer subjects prisoners to waterboarding, it has not ruled out doing so in the future. Several other techniques reportedly used by the CIA in the past may also remain authorized, including prolonged sleep and sensory deprivation, painful “stress positions” such as forced standing, and subjecting prisoners to extremes of heat and cold. The State Department has condemned all of these methods when they have been employed by other countries.

and so it goes,

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