Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 1: Cold War: Fact and Fancy Segment 13/20
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A few years later, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg declared that its programs of economic nationalism have placed Mexico "on trial before the world" and "created a serious situation" for U.S. interests. The State Department by then regarded Mexico as hardly more than an outpost of Bolshevism.61

Fletcher's warning to Wilson reflected the contempt for "miserable, inefficient Mexico" expressed by Walt Whitman and others. The Mexicans would not be "able to keep themselves going" without foreign investment, he believed, because "they have not the genius of industrial development, nor have they had the training required." A few years later, Ambassador James Sheffield wrote of "the futility of attempting to treat with a Latin-Indian mind, filled with hatred of the United States and thirsty for vengeance, on the same basis that our government would treat with a civilized and orderly government in Europe." The Mexicans have "an Indian, not Latin, hatred of all peoples not on the reservation. There is very little white blood in the cabinet -- that is it is very thin." Other officials spoke of the "low mental capacity" which renders the Mexicans -- like the Italians -- "utterly unfitted for self-government" and "easily dominated" by the "half-breeds" who control the government. Venezuelans too were regarded as "indolent" and suffering from "political immaturity" and "racial inferiority," along with other Latin Americans. In 1927, Elihu Root, whose long career as a statesman and peace movement leader had earned him the Nobel prize, questioned U.S. recognition of independence of Latin American countries because Latin Americans are "admittedly like children and unable to maintain the obligations which go with independence." The Mexican attempt at democracy was as futile as the granting of voting rights to Blacks after the Civil War, Root commented, "a dismal step, a terrible mistake, with most serious evils following." Forty years later, his distinguished successor Dean Acheson expressed similar thoughts to the White racists of southern Africa. Root proposed to Mexico the example of Fascist Italy, enjoying a "revival of prosperity, contentment and happiness under a dictator." A U.S. diplomat in Venezuela argued that "the Indian peon" should be given "a simple and paternalistic form of government," not formal democracy. He praised the Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gómez, who, with the example of Mexico before him, had "wisely decided that a benevolent despotism was preferable to an anarchical democracy."62

Some found the natives less hopeless. Banker Thomas Lamont felt that "ignorant as [the Mexicans] are, unwise as they are, untrusty as they are, nevertheless, if you once take time and patience, one can handle them." Similar sentiments were privately expressed in later years as well. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles advised President Eisenhower that it should be possible to bring Latin Americans to accept U.S. plans for their future as a source of raw materials and profits for U.S. corporations: "you have to pat them a little bit and make them think that you are fond of them." Following the same reasoning, Ambassador to Costa Rica Robert Woodward recommended to Washington that the United Fruit Company be induced to introduce "a few relatively simple and superficial human-interest frills for the workers that may have a large psychological effect," thus eliminating problems with the peons.63

Given the human material with which he has to work, one can easily appreciate the trials of "the benevolent but clearly egocentric professor, dispensing emancipation through knowledge of both righteousness and the right way to the deprived students of the world" (see page 17).

Impressed by the successful Fascist model, the United States turned to dictators and tyrants to fend off the threat of social change and economic nationalism, now interpreted in the context of the worldwide Bolshevik challenge to the survival of the capitalist order. Venezuela was a striking example. The brutal despot General Gómez enjoyed reasonably good relations with the United States until the Wilson administration, which opposed his tyranny, terror and corruption and his "preference for Germany in the present War for the Rights of Humanity," as the American minister to Venezuela put it in 1917. But a few years later, attitudes changed (though Gómez's practices did not). Untainted by the economic nationalism and radicalism that was threatening U.S. interests elsewhere in Latin America, the despot offered his country freely for foreign exploitation. The usual mix of racist contempt and antagonism to independent nationalism sufficed for him to be depicted as a moderate. He had saved the country from "a conflict between the privileged classes and the common people" and kept the country free from "communism, or some other form of extreme radicalism," the U.S. chargé informed the State Department in 1929. "Until the Venezuelan people could be trusted to make the right decisions concerning their political and economic direction," Michael Krenn writes, "and that time was deemed to be in the very distant future -- it was best for all concerned that they be kept safe from democracy."64

As example after example attests, economic nationalism elicits U.S. hostility. Where possible, the culprit is assigned to the Bolshevik conspiracy to destroy Western civilization. In any event, he must be slain. It is as close to a historical law as a complex world allows.

The essential point was captured in John F. Kennedy's celebrated remark that while we would prefer decent democratic regimes, if the choice is between a Trujillo and a Castro, we will choose the Trujillo. It is only necessary to add three points: (1) the concept of "a Castro" is very broad, extending to anyone who raises problems for the "rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations," who are to rule the world according to Churchill's aphorism, while enjoying the benefits of its human and material resources; (2) the chosen "Trujillo," however monstrous, will be a "moderate" as long as he fulfills his function; (3) The "Trujillo" will make a quick transition from favored friend to another beast to be destroyed if he shows the bad judgment of stepping on our toes. This story has been re-enacted time and time again, until today. Saddam Hussein is only the most recent example.

The post-World War I pattern does constitute a departure from U.S. intervention in an earlier period of less self-consciousness and global power. There is every reason to expect that pattern to persist, with whatever adjustments are required, after the Bolshevik challenge has lost its last shreds of credibility.

Go to the next segment.

61 Ibid., 44. See also Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (Norton, 1983).

62 Krenn, U.S. Policy, 58ff., 106-7. Acheson, see p. 00, below.

63 Ibid., 62. Dulles cited by Stephen G. Rabe, Eisenhower and Latin America (U. of North Carolina, 1988), 33. Woodward, see Necessary Illusions, Appendix V, sec. 1.

64 Krenn, op. cit., chapter 6. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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