An ill-considered foreign policy

The U.S.A.'s foreign policy since the second world war has concentrated more fiercely on stopping the spread of socialist ideologies and fostering the interests of monied corporations than on aiding the propagation of liberty and democracy. While it is easy enough to point to nasty regimes they have opposed, it is equally easy to point to equally nasty regimes that they have installed, often displacing democratic regimes to achieve this; and to regimes who have been crushed for espousing socialist rhetoric while practicing humane and liberal policies.

In the most glaring example of all, a socialist movement in Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, ousted a repressive government which had long been sponsored by the U.S.A. and replaced it with a democracy. For twelve years they survived in the face of the U.S.A.'s implacable (and illegal) opposition: their crime was to stand up for the poor and the opressed, voicing socialist ideology (though in practice they tempered it with ample liberal pragmatism). While the U.S.A. employed everything in its power to crush the Sandinista regime, it supported repressive regimes throughout the rest of Latin America. The U.S.A. was caught, and convicted of, breaking international law by mining the port of Managua, Nicaragua's capital; and got out of the billions of dollars of fines it was sentenced to pay by corrupting democratic elections in order to replace the Sandinistas with a regime which would consent to waive its entitlement to the compensation.

Both the neighbouring regimes the U.S.A. supported and the mercenary army the C.I.A. harboured, funded, trained and equipped inside Nicaragua routinely murdered teachers, health workers, community leaders and trades unionists; the U.S.A.'s friends strove to uphold a climate of terror among the civilian populations in a concerted effort to ensure that Latin America have governments willing to bow to the wishes of international corporations at the expense of the rights, needs and dignity of the governed. As such, the U.S.A.'s clients in Latin America can only be described as terrorists, making the U.S.A. guilty of the crime it now charges other nations with (on weaker evidence) – giving every kind of succour to terrorists.

The `leaders of the free world' should be shy of declaring that countries which give succour to terrorism are fair game for bombing, invasion and economic sanctions, lest it be hoist on its own pétard.

It has, usually through the C.I.A., orchestrated the overthrow of many elected governments, routinely replacing them with repressive regimes whose sole `virtue' is that they'll let international corporations practice that variety of `free trade' in which the mighty: pay as little as they can get away with in exchange for as much as they can get away with; bribe officials to grant them what the law will not; have the ear of the legislators, and keep these deaf to the rights and needs of the governed; and supress all efforts by the down-trodden to better their bargaining positions. While this may serve the U.S.A.'s commercial interests, the down-trodden have learned to blame the corporations and, by extension, the nation which is their flag-ship for what they suffer in consequence. Though the public in the U.S.A. may have attention-spans little better than those of goldfish, the memories of opressed peoples around the world put elephants to shame – they last for generations, not mere decades.

The U.S.A.'s foreign policy, designed to entrench corporate control of developing economies while stifling the (often socialist) political aspirations of the world's poor, has created a global climate of ill-will. Military action against countries already desperately poor may kill the terrorists of today: but if terrorism is ever to be stamped out, the U.S.A. is going to have to embark on an radical re-design of its foreign policy. The only way a military `solution' will put a stop to acts of violence against those perceived as the cause of the world's ills is by obliging the victims of those ills all to live in such fear of punishment that they never dare to do what their righteous anger cries out for them to do: in such a case, the world shall have been subjected to the terrorism of the few who are thus defended.

The wealthy nations of the world need to genuinely foster liberty in the impoverished world, showing tolerance for a broad diversity of peaceful ideologies, allowing nations the independence to conduct their own experiments in how they wish to govern themselves, without fear of interference save such as is proportionate to any human rights abuses within their borders or military infractions against their neighbours. We must learn to judge developing nations primarily by these criteria, to the exclusion of our own immediate commercial interests: though our businesses may be hurt when developing nations nationalise their heavy industry, renounce `intellectual property' treaties or repudiate debts left to them by erstwhile dictators with whom we did business, still our long-term interests may be served by respecting (and being seen to respect) their right to govern themselves as they see fit. At the same time, those who would hold themselves up as champions of liberty and justice must learn the humility to submit to the authority of international courts – for, if they will not, how can they expect others to respect those courts ? – and deal generously and honestly with those they aspire to lead.

These changes must be real: a public relations make-over, charm offensive or propaganda war will not wash. The citizens of the U.S.A. may fall for these ploys, but the oppressed masses of the world are wise to them and will simply take offence if we even attempt such deception.

It may be an easy thing to make a Republic; but it is a very laborious thing to make Republicans; and woe to the republic that rests upon no better foundations than ignorance, selfishness, and passion. Such a Republic may grow in numbers and in wealth. As an avaricious man adds acres to his lands, so its rapacious government may increase its own darkness by annexing provinces and states to its ignorant domain. Its armies may be invincible, and its fleets may strike terror into nations on the opposite sides of the globe, at the same hour. Vast in its extent, and enriched with all the prodigality of nature, it may possess every capacity and opportunity of being great, and of doing good. But if such a Republic be devoid of intelligence, it will only the more closely resemble an obscene giant who has waxed strong in his youth, and grown wanton in his strength; whose brain has been developed only in the region of the appetites and passions, and not in the organs of reason and conscience; and who, therefore, is boastful of his bulk alone, and glories in the weight of his heel and in the destruction of his arm. Such a Republic, with all its noble capacities for beneficence, will rush with the speed of a whirlwind to an ignominious end; and all good men of after-times would be fain to weep over its downfall, did not their scorn and contempt at its folly and its wickedness, repress all sorrow for its fate …

Horace Mann

Written by Eddy.
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