This posting comes to you late due mostly to a combination of 10% laziness and 90% I’ve been sick. Fortunately, I have healed and am ready to make more postings. This week’s topic is my first historical thesis, concerning America in the Cold War. My thesis is a follows: During the Cold War, America made countless military and diplomatic interventions around the world in support of capitalism and strongly against communism or socialism. The U.S.S.R. also intervened in neighboring European states along with other countries in order to stabilize and fund pro-communist governments. However, when the Soviet Union fell this attitude of Russian imperialism came to an end for the most part. As such, the United States was and still remains a kind of imperial power, and it will remain this way until we fall in a way similar to the Soviet Union. Or so I believe.
As stated in the introduction, the trend of effective American colonialism will not be brought to an end unless the United States falls in some way. This could come in the form of a coup. Whether from the left, right, or the military, either way it will most likely bring American intervention to a standstill. In a leftist coup, government would most likely refrain from any global intervention unless highly justified by principle. In a right-winged or military government, the U.S. would most likely intervene whenever deemed pragmatic to our interests. And while some intervention would continue under the new government, the toppling of the regime would take the cake. Once Americans realize the true pain bureaucratic authoritarianism can bring, they will be far less willing to ever inflict it on other countries again. The fall can also be brought on through massive social or economic change. If another Great Depression were to hit, all Americans would suffer harshly. The time spent by all trying just to get by would allow us to understand what poverty is like, and why we cannot allow other nations to soak in this squalor, especially by our own hands. In the social area, sweeping removal of basic and specific rights could make the fall come. For instance, were gay marriage to be banned in all states, along with the right to die, carry weapons, have more than one child, etc. banned, Americans would be repressed significantly. While I don’t believe we should carry weapons and that we should be allowed to have more than one kid, if these restrictions were imposed on us we would understand what “war on society” truly means, which most pundits really don’t. Lastly, significant war loss can bring us to stop our imperialistic ways. While the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan, in terms of both money and men (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html, http://usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/iraqdeath1000.htm), are great, this does not stop major groups from claiming that both were justified successes. While I really don’t want more war and am opposed to this option, absolute loss in a devastating war would hopefully foster anti-imperialist sentiments that could help to sober our attitude. However, this is not a guaranteed success, as shown by the Vietnam War.
Before I move on to how and why America has been imperialist, I’d like to move on to counterarguments. Many would have you believe that America is not imperialist, that it never has been, and anyone who believes it has hates America. Let me say that I do not hate America. While I don’t like our policies of today and those during parts of our past, I do enjoy our history and some of our customs. I enjoy basic life in America, while still seeing the problems we have. It’s called having a reform-minded personality. While I don’t hate us, we do need some change. I would never try to attack or destroy our country. That is what defines anti-Americanism. Moving on to the claim that America has never been imperialist, this is a poor argument. While our actions during the Cold War were not blatant imperialism, look at the facts. We occupied countless countries during the time period. We intervened against perceived “unfriendly” or “threatening” governments when we saw fit. We played the world as pawns in our quest to quash a rival. No matter what you think, it is undeniable that we were effectively an imperial power after World War 2. And while that imperialism slightly cooled down after the fall of the Soviet Union, it really wasn’t much, and by the end of the 1990s we were intervening even more. As to the argument that America is not imperialist now, I point to our actions in the 1990s and early 2000s. We bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that turned out to be making aspirin (http://www.democracynow.org/1999/5/5/us_admits_error_in_bombing_of). We invaded and toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq because he was an “unfriendly dictator.” While I understand that life under Hussein sucked, that doesn’t mean we can just rush in and eventually kill the guy based on reasoning which turns out to be bogus (he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/lieofthecentury.php). There are also people now who believe that while corrupt life under Hussein was ever present, the police state was stable and didn’t isolate the Sunni minority (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/war-zones/at-shrine-to-saddam-hussein-in-iraq-nostalgia-for-a-fallen-leader/2011/05/18/AFvW7u7G_story.html). As such, America retains its imperial position in an unchanging state.
Now, I will provide key examples proving just how horrible the effects of Cold War imperialism were on our society and even more so on the countries we intervened in. I will use examples from one country per region (excluding Australia/Oceania). Starting in North America, I point to Nicaragua as evidence of our crimes. During much of the 1980s, the Reagan administration funded and trained the rebel Contra movement by selling arms to Iran (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/reagan-iran/), which I will discuss later. Both the specific crimes brought on by intervention in Nicaragua in the 1970s and 1980s by us, along with the horrors of the Contras including drug trafficking and death squads (http://libcom.org/history/articles/nicaragua-contras), caused many deaths, imprisonments, and destabilization in the country for years. Not only did this damage thousands of people including some of our own, but it was illegal at the time due to the Boland Amendment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boland_Amendment). This betrayal of the legal process on harsh principle simply served to undercut our interests, rather than strengthen them. This was just one of our involvements in North America, where we made significant interventions in most of the Caribbean nations and several central American ones.
Next, I move on to South America, specifically Chile. On September 11, 1973, a right-winged military coup took power in Chile and instituted particularly harsh authoritarianism under General Augusto Pinochet. This was no simple coup, however. Earlier in 1970, the socialist candidate for the presidency Salvador Allende won the election and became the Chilean president. Allende was one of few leftist leaders in South America installed through a free and fair democratic process. He followed his ideology and began some nationalization projects along with other socialist policies. After losing American support early on, he sought Soviet support which he got. But the people of Chile were unsatisfied. Most were divided into two groups: the right, which vehemently opposed Allende and wanted a coup, and the left, which thought change wasn’t coming fast enough so a leftist coup was necessary. By 1973, a coup was likely. And at this point, we made our move. We supported a right-winged military coup under General Augusto Pinochet, which was quickly successful. The regime would go on to torture and kill dissidents in a trigger happy manner for years, with horrible results (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_government_of_Chile_(1973%E2%80%931990)). We had made propaganda moves in the country earlier, and at this point we took no more. But was preserving capitalism a worthwhile cause to justify the atrocities of what followed? I think not.
Now, onto Europe and Asia. In Europe, I point to the effective election rigs and funding we put in place in the late 1940s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_general_election,_1948, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/366654/Marshall-Plan). In Italy, there was a “threat” of communists being elected to power. So we funded opposition candidates, bought votes, and used propaganda to ensure that Italy had no chance to become a Soviet ally. Unfortunately, we subjugated the democratic process to do this. For the Marshall Plan, I point specifically to Greece, where we supported a right-winged government and countless leaders with deplorable human rights records for our benefit, and Turkey, a country which we buoyed so it wouldn’t want to give Russia access to ports. Is any of this even close to justified? We gave up our very own principles which we claimed to defend here. This makes us imperialist, and no better than the governments we have supported. In Asia, I point specifically to the southeast, where our interventions were strongly militaristic. Everyone knows the atrocities of our failed war in Vietnam (yes, we lost; when the objective is to prevent communism and it takes the country, you have lost). But we also bombed Laos and Cambodia significantly in the same time period, along with giving direct aid to anti-leftists in Thailand and supporting a military coup under Suharto in Indonesia (http://libcom.org/history/1948-1991-us-intervention-and-war-in-south-east-asia). Once again, our actions only hurt us. Not only did two of those countries beat us and become communist (Laos and Vietnam), but the others were severely damaged. Cambodia would experience significant suffering under the Khmer Rouge, a reaction to our attacks in the country. The atrocities our imperialism have created, simply put, mean that we can no longer continue in this fashion.
Lastly, I point to the Middle East and Africa. As noted earlier, in the Middle East I turn to Iran and Iraq. Specifically, the war between the two countries. From 1980 to 1988, both countries fought a brutal, deplorable war over land and control. Saddam Hussein led Iraq, using chemical and biological weapons on the Iranians and at times on Iraqis. Ayatollah Khomeini received rockets and used hatred as motivation for soldiers in the border conflict. During this time, the Reagan administration took up double containment (http://www.payvand.com/news/08/mar/1200.html), a policy which fostered effective support for both sides in the hopes they would destroy each other and give us an opening in the region. Once the Iran-Contra scandal erupted, both Iran and Iraq were shocked at this mistrust. This would serve to foster anti-Americanism in both countries, a fault purely our own. In Africa, I point to Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Angola, we supported South African backed rebels to prevent communism, resulting in a long, bloody civil war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angolan_Civil_War), and in the DRC we collaborated to assassinate Lumumba, setting off destabilization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrice_Lumumba). In both cases, we simply killed and backed anyone that represented a threat to communism, no matter how horrible. This is deplorable, and provides a furthering for my case.
In conclusion, these terrible events and more prove that America has acted in an imperial way since the end of World War 2, and that only a fall of some sort will bring us to stop these conflicts. I hope I have provided a full and thorough analysis that establishes my point well. If you have questions, comments, or anything else to say simply say it in the comments. My Facebook and Twitter are both active, along with my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. That is all for this week, and I am signing off.