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Modern-Day American Imperialism: The Middle East and Beyond part 3

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They called for what they called “an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy” for the United States and bar any exercise of sovereignty by anyone who would interfere with it. And they would do this in a region that they called the “grand area.” Well, in the early part of the war, 1939 to 1943, the grand area was defined as the western hemisphere routinely, the former British Empire (which the US would take over), and the Far East. That would be the grand area. They assumed at the time that there would be a German-led world—the rest. So there would be a non-German world (that’s us) and a German world. As the Russians gradually ground down the Nazi armies after 1942, it became pretty clear that there wouldn’t be a German world. So the grand area was expanded to be as much of the world as could be controlled — limitless. That’s simply pursuing the old position that expansion is the path to security for the infant empire of 1736. These policies were laid down during the war, but then they were implemented right after the war. In fact, now that we have available in the declassified record the planning documents of the late 1940s, it turns out they’re (not very surprisingly) very similar to the wartime planning. One of the leading figures was George Kennan, who was head of the State Department policy planning staff. He wrote one of his many important papers in 1948 (PPS23 if you want to look it up), in which he noted that the United States has half the world’s wealth but only 6% of its population, and our primary goal in foreign policy must be, as he put it, to “maintain this disparity.” And in order to do so, we must put aside all “vague and idealistic slogans” about democracy and human rights. Those are for public propaganda, colleges, and so on. But we must put those aside and keep to “straight power concepts." There’s no other way to maintain the disparity. Then, in the same paper and elsewhere, he and his staff went through the world and assigned to each part of the world what would be what they called its function in the global system in which the US would have unchallenged power—unquestioned power. So, Latin America and the Middle East: The Middle East obviously would provide the energy resources that we would control, gradually pushing out Britain— throwing out France immediately and pushing out Britain slowly over the years and turning it into a “junior partner,” as the British Foreign Office ruefully described their role at that time. Latin America we simply control. It’s “our little region over here, which has never bothered anyone,” as Secretary of War Stimson said while the US was violating the principles it was establishing by setting up a regional organization in violation of the UN Charter, and so on. So, Latin America we keep, or at least we control. Southeast Asia would be—its function was to provide resources and raw materials to the former colonial powers. Meanwhile, we would purchase them, too. That would send dollars there, which the colonial powers would take, not the population. And they could use those. Britain, France, the Netherlands could use the dollars to purchase US manufactures. (It’s called a triangular trading arrangement), which would allow… The US had the only really functioning industrial system in the world and had a huge excess of manufacturing products, and there was what was called a “dollar gap.” The countries we wanted to sell it to didn’t have dollars—that’s Europe, basically. So we had to provide them with dollars, and the function of Southeast Asia was to play a role in that. Hence the support for French colonialism in recapturing its Indochinese colony, and so on. There were various variations, but that’s the basic story. And so Kennan went through the world and assigned them a function each part. When he got to Africa, he decided that the United States really didn’t have much interest in Africa at that time, and therefore we should hand it over to the Europeans to “exploit” (that’s his word)—to “exploit” for their reconstruction. He indicated that it would also give them a kind of a psychological lift after the damage of the war and while we were taking over all of their domains. Well, you could imagine a different relationship between Europe and Africa in the light of history, but that couldn’t even be considered. I mean, it was too outlandish to discuss and still is. So Africa was to be exploited by Europe for its reconstruction, with consequences we know. The US has since gotten into the act. Well, that was Kennan. He was removed from office soon after because he was considered too soft-hearted— not up to dealing with this harsh world. And he was replaced with real tough guys: Dean Acheson, Paul Nitze, and others. There’s no time to go through it, but if you want an education on hysterical jingoist fanaticism, you really should read their documents. If you study these issues, you’ve heard of at least NSC68, which is discussed by everyone but its rhetoric is omitted. And you have to look at its rhetoric to see what’s going on in these crazed heads of the great thinkers. And this is true of the whole National Security Council culture. There’s a wonderful book on it that came out a couple of years ago by James Peck, a Sinologist, called Washington’s China. It’s the first scholarly book to go through the whole National Security culture. And it’s like reading a collection of madmen. But it’s very much worth studying, much more worth studying than most of what people study in their courses on these issues. Well, anyway, what do we do about Latin America? It’s our domain. Well, Kennan was pretty explicit about that, too. He said in Latin America we should prefer police states. The reason is that, as he said, harsh government measures of repression should cause no qualms as long as the results are on balance favorable to our interests— in particular, as long as we guarantee the protection of “our resources.” Our resources happen to be somewhere else, but that’s a historical accident. They’re our resources, and we have to protect them, and if you have to do it by the mailed fist, okay, that’s the way you do it. As I say, he was removed. There is a long, ugly history. There’s no time to go through it, but the Cold War history essentially follows this pattern. The Cold War was a kind of a tacit compact between the superpower and the smaller power, the United States and Russia. The compact was that the United States would be free to carry out violence and terror and atrocities with few limits in its own domains, and the Russians would be able to run their own dungeon without too much US interference. So the Cold War in effect was a war of the United States against the Third World, and of Russia against its much smaller domains in Eastern Europe. And the events of the Cold War illustrate that. Each great power used the other’s threats as a pretext for repression and violence and destruction, the United States way more than Russia if you look at the record, reflecting their relative power. But that’s essentially the picture. In fact, for the United States, the Cold War was basically a war against independent nationalism in the Third World —what was called “radical nationalism.” “Radical” means “doesn’t follow orders.” So, there’s this constant struggle against radical nationalism, and in particular, the leading thesis all the way through is that even the smallest place if it becomes independent is a serious danger. It’s what Henry Kissinger called a virus that might infect others. Like, even a tiny place—Grenada, or something. If it has successful independent development, others might get the idea that we can follow, the rot will spread as Acheson put it. So you’ve got to stamp it out right at the source. It’s not a novel idea. Any mafia don will explain it to you. The Godfather does not tolerate it when some small storekeeper doesn’t pay protection money. Not that he needs the money. But it’s a bad idea. Others might get the idea. And in particular small, weak countries have to be—we have to crush them with particular violence because there it’s easy. Nobody can stop you. And others get the point. That’s a large part of international affairs right to the present.

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Duration: 9 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Views: 104
Posted by: sgentile on Apr 20, 2010

Discours énoncé par Noam Chomsky à l’Université de Boston le 17 mars 2009. Transcription par Steve Lyne

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