Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Monster-Chronicles: National Narcissism

The False View Americans Have of Themselves.

The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. The most slender eulogy is acceptable to them, the most exalted seldom contents them; they unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties, they fall to praising themselves. ... Their vanity is not only greedy, but restless and jealous; it will grant nothing, while it demands everything, but is ready to beg and to quarrel at the same time.

If I say to an American that the country he lives in is a fine one, "Ay," he replies, "there is not its equal in the world." If I applaud the freedom that its inhabitants enjoy, he answers: "Freedom is a fine thing, but few nations are worthy to enjoy it." ... I can imagine," says he, "that a stranger, who has witnessed the corruption that prevails in other nations, would be astonished at the difference.” At length I leave him to the contemplation of himself; ... It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism; it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, (1840) Bk II, ch. XVI

A post making the rounds on social media has noted that all four former presidents and the sitting one were unanimous in their non-support of Trump. The tweet concluded with, “Perhaps America should pay attention to the people who actually know what the job entails.”

Perhaps Americans should acquire a conception of themselves that is grounded in reality rather than in some Disneyfied fantasy.


It was Jimmy Carter who spawned the Taliban by aiding Afghanistan’s mujahideen in order to “push back” at the Soviet Union, as per the confrontational doctrine elaborated by his neocon national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Doing James Monroe one further, the “Carter Doctrine” announced that the U.S. would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. It's ours! So too Africa in which, Brzezinski announced, Russia was not to be allowed any commercial ties or influence.  Carter also has the distinction of founding the American Star Chamber, otherwise known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA)

To Ronald Reagan goes the credit of subversion and mass murder in Nicaragua and San Salvador. Under the so-called Reagan Doctrine, the United States provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist "resistance movements" in an effort to "roll back" Soviet-backed communist governments in Latin America.   But those native “resistance movements” were actually home-grown in Langley Labs. In the days before “twitter revolutions,” they were reactionary fifth columns drawn from the military and bourgeoisie aimed at “rolling back” social and economic justice. And.... murdering Catholic nuns. It behooves to recall exactly what “it's morning in america” entailed elsewhere.

Catholic nuns worked in rural areas with peasants who lived in fear of being kidnapped and killed by soldiers and right-wing death squads.  In the eyes of the Salvadoran military, working with the poor was synonymous with being a subversive, and “marked them for assassination” One such woman marked for assassination was Sister Diana Ortiz

After they tired of [burning her with cigarettes], they gambled to see who would rape me first. “Heads, I go first,” said the Policeman.  After he raped me, the proud winner whispered into my ear “Your God is dead.” (I didn’t argue.) And then the others took their turns

"I regained consciousness and found myself in a courtyard of some type.  They then lowered me into an open pit filled with human bodies—bodies of children, women, and men—some decapitated, some caked with blood—some dead—some alive.  I remember them, those barely alive—crying out.  Our cries joined together to become one terrible declaration of hopelessness—as the rats danced about, feasting on the already dead.

"The next step in my descent into hell—I was placed in a dark room. Gradually, I became aware of someone else there, terribly tortured herself, on a table, covered with a foul smelling, blood stained sheet. We spoke briefly. Then the torturers came in, one with a video camera.  They placed a knife in my hand and I felt grateful for I thought that, somehow, it was to be used to kill me.  Instead, as the filming began, hands were placed over mine and the knife was thrust into the woman.  Her screams met mine as my torturers gloated.  When it was finished they told me, “Now, you are just like us.”

Left alone in the dark cell, I prayed to a deaf God to be rescued from this nightmare.  Then I sensed someone—or—something approaching. For a moment, I thought I might actually be rescued but as it neared me, I saw the dog’s two dark eyes and snarling teeth.  It was then that all hope died.”  (Interview)

Ixil Maya Woman killed by Death Squads

According to Ortiz, her torture was witnessed by a tall, silent American standing in the shadows.

The Reagan Administration also encouraged the Iraq-Iran war by giving Saddam diplomatic, monetary, and military support, including massive loans, political clout, and intelligence on Iranian deployments gathered by American spy satellites. Reagan decided that the United States "could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran" and that the United States "would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran". Reagan formalized this policy by issuing a National Security Decision Directive to this effect in June 1982.  

Iraq's notorious use of gas on civilians was enabled by assistance in developing chemical weapon from the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France. The U.S. provided reconnaissance intelligence to Iraq around 1987–88 which was then used to launch chemical weapon attacks on Iranian troops. A senior defence intelligence officer for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency stated that the CIA fully knew that chemical weapons would be deployed and "the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" to Reagan and his aides, because they "were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose."

By 1988, Iran's losses were estimated to be 300,000 soldiers, while Iraq's losses were estimated to be 150,000 Iranian casualties up to 600,000

While the Reagan Administration was rolling back "subversive" elements in Central America and promoting war in the Middle East, it was also seeking to undermine the Soviet Union directly, by outspending it on tools of mass destruction (aka “military hardware”). According to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger “They can't sustain military production the way we can. Eventually it will break them, and then there will be just one superpower in a safe world – if, only if, we can keep spending.”

And spend he did, while social programs in the country were arrested or “roll backed.” In order to accomplish this feat of outspending, it was also necessary for the Reagan Administration to “roll back” unions and the standard of living their existence guaranteed.

Not content with warmongering abroad, Reagan ramped up the “War on Drugs” at home. That war was the first step in the militarization of the police and the subversion of the Fourth Amendment (i.e., the rule of law in the basic interaction between citizens and governmental action). An ever compliant Supreme Court gave the wink and the nod to the police to ferret out drugs by whatever means they felt expedient. Judicial rationales would follow and no penalty would attach. As we have said elsewhere before, police extra judicial violence and killings are entirely attributable to the judiciary. 

Of course, Reagan was unable to attend the line of former presidents naysaying  Trump. But his policies remained alive and well. The militarization of the homeland, extravagant military spending, cut-backs in social programs and confrontation or subversion of disfavored regimes abroad were all continued by his successors.

George H.W. Bush, negotiated NAFTA, waged the First Iraq War and declared the advent of the “New World Order.” His tenure represented a change of tone and tactics but not direction. The Reagan administration was notable for a certain inflated and charged rhetoric which would later reappear in the belligerent bluster of Bush II.   Bush I, preferred the more “reasoned” tone of George F. Kennan and traditional U.S. imperialists. These preferred the appearance of working with allies and under the nominal aegis of established international institutions, as was done in Korea and Vietnam. Bush also preferred the traditional emphasis on free trade, a euphemism for economic domination.   It was said of old that “Roman legions followed where Roman traders trod,” and that was very much the approach that Bush preferred. But the goal of economic hegemony and, if necessary, military elimination of non-compliant nations remained the same.

NAFTA was very much at the heart of the New World Order. The essence of “free trade” at all times has always been the removal of government impediments to commerce. That is what the word “free” refers to. Duh. But what exactly are these “government impediments”? They are measures designed to (1) foment national development and (2) provide economic and social security for a country's people. Free-traders disparage such protective regulation as something inherently bad. Anti-Freedom. Ugh.  Pooh!  But that is not true.  In all things, it is a question of balance and moderation.

Mexico was a classic example. The post (1910) revolutionary regime pursued a policy of national ownership and reinvestment of capital in Mexico in order to develop the country's industry and infrastructure. Following the European model, it nationalized certain industries (oil, electricity, telephones, airlines, trains) so that the profits could be used in part to fund social programs. Again, like Europe, it pursued a policy of agricultural price supports in order to sustain a particular mode of production. The maintenance of a peasant class was considered a socio-cultural good in and of itself over and above the isolated goal of growing corn and tomatoes. Such measures do not outlaw trade; they simply regulate it for a good beyond that of a company's shareholders. The United States itself developed its economic muscle behind protective tariffs. It raises the Holy Banner of free trade only when it wants to poach on someone else's turf.

And poach it did. Mexico has always traded with the United States. The real goal of NAFTA was to dismantle Mexico's regulatory and social model. It did this in cunning and nasty ways. The treaty forbade the Mexican government from supporting its “agricultural sector” (i.e. the peasantry and small producers).  Yet the same treaty did not forbid U.S. government assistance and support to A.D.M., Cargill, Tyson, et. al. The result was foreseeable and intended. Mexico's peasantry was destroyed virtually overnight.

When it came to industry, the treaty worked in the opposite direction. It opened up “investment” and “development” into Mexico's industrial sector. Nominally, Mexico “limited” this free trade to the northern border region. But this was a fig leaf. U.S. companies had no immediate interests in setting up assembly plants in the Yucatan. The point was to move factories just so far outside U.S. borders in order to escape from the “shackles” of union collective bargaining. Mexico itself was required to provide both the infrastructure and tax incentives for these assembly plants.
The whole thing was the U.S. version of English enclosures. U.S. workers were destituted and a destitute Mexican peasantry was reduced to working at slave wages in U.S. corporate owned factories and farms. Why would Mexico's leadership sign such a treaty? There were various reasons, but suffice to say, shortly and presently, that beginning with Miguel de la Madrid (1982-1988), all Mexican presidents have been Harvard or Yale trained. The one who wasn't (Luis Donaldo Colosio) was shot (1994) before he could assume office.   Perhaps the reader gets the point.

This then was the paradigm for Bush's New World Corporate Order: U.S. funded NGO's and American trained quislings, pushing an agenda of corporate globalization backed by military force.

When it came to domestic social policy, Bush reverted to the volunteerism of Herbert Hoover: "Points of Light are the soul of America. They are ordinary people who reach beyond themselves to touch the lives of those in need, bringing hope and opportunity, care and friendship.” Gubmint? Who needs gubmint?

As ought to be obvious by now to the dumbest ox, William Jefferson Clinton represented the GOP take-over of the Democratic Party. What Clinton realized was that  hobby horse “liberals” could be bought off with cheap and feel good rhetoric on “social and identity” issues. This was the hard meaning of “social liberal and economic conservative.” The reason the “triangulation” worked was that the bouregeois left (please not to laugh) had yet to wake up to its declining standard of living. Easy credit and inflating real estate gave it the illusion of asset-growth. As they say, boil the frog slowly.

In all essential respects Clinton continued Reagan-Bush policies. On January 1, 1994, Clinton signed NAFTA into law. A few years later as dispossessed Mexicans flooded into the U.S., Clinton went to San Diego, blamed Mexicans for stealing our jobs and promised tougher immigration controls. (Yes he did.)

In September 1994, Clinton signed the Omnibus Crime Bill into law. The law made many draconian changes to criminal justice and law enforcement including extending the death penalty to include 60 additional categories of crimes not resulting in death. Think about that: capital punishment for non-capital crimes.  Clinton was not solely responsible for the law and order hysteria that gripped the nation but he fanned the flames and rode the waves. It was under his administration that the U.S. gulag was built up.   This gulag included  “supermax” prisons soared and the use of 24/7 solitary confinement, a practice condemned in 1996 by the United Nations. Never mind, by 1999, the United States contained at least 57 state and federal supermax facilities.

While his wife blabbered about negro “predators,” Clinton blabbered about welfare mammies and destroyed welfare in order to supposedly save it. In pushing his 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, Clinton built on Ronald Reagan's oft-repeated story of a welfare queen from Chicago's South Side. Said Clinton, the act "gives us a chance break the cycle of dependency that has existed for millions and millions of our fellow citizens, exiling them from the world of work.” Exiling them from work! As the euphemising doubletalk had it: “The legislation was designed to increase labor market participation among public assistance recipients.”

It was capitalism at its most grotesque. The poor were blamed for being dependent on public charity while food assistance, housing supplements and medical care were blamed for inducing “laziness.” Solution to the false problem? Force “recipients” into low paying jobs that will (1) cause them to loose essential benefits while (2) not providing enough to live on. Clinton's reform represented a major departure from the protectionist legacy institutionalized in U.S. social welfare policy from the inception of "mother's pensions" beginning in the early 19th century.  Caring for children was subordinated to "labor market participation" by the no longer "public assistance recipients." The implicit policy regarding "women's roles" was that full-time mothering was a luxury reserved only for married and middle class women.   There is a special place in hell for the apologists of this type of feminism.

Clinton's Welfare Reform

In addition to implementing a Republican domestic agenda, Clinton continued Bush's foreign policy. In 1998 Clinton accused Saddam Hussein of “developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.” Later that year he signed the Iraq Liberation Act which instituted a policy of "regime change" though it did not provide for direct military intervention. The administration then launched a four-day bombing campaign named Operation Desert Fox.

Odd, is it not, that while le tout monde excoriates George W. Bush for lying about Iraq's WMDs, no one holds Clinton's feet to the fire.

More damaging than Desert Fox was Clinton's continuation of Bush's sanctions regime, which embargoed Iraqi oil. No doubt comfortable people fail to draw the connection between what is put in the tank and what you put in the stomach. Iraq was a net importer of food. Ergo, an embargo on oil = an embargo on food. Under the name of “sanctions” the United Stage instituted a good old fashioned starve-em-out siege against Iraq.

Shortly after the sanctions were imposed, the Iraqi government was forced to resort to a system of food rationing consisting of 1000 calories per person/day or 40% of the daily requirements, on which an estimated 60% of the population relied for a vital part of their sustenance. This remained unchanged until 1997 at which time small incremental changes were allowed.

Other essentials were included within the siege. Since chlorine could be used to make chlorine gas, it was included in the list of prohibited goods. But since chlorine is also used to purify water, the sanctions regime basically waged biological warfare. High rates of disease ensued from Iraq's lack of clean water. The U.S. inspired sanctions caused United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad to resign saying, “"I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide.” The successor to the post also resigned in protest, calling the effects of the sanctions a "true human tragedy." Indeed, it is estimated that the Bush-Clinton sanctions caused the deaths of 500,000 children under the age of five.

Interviewed in 2001 Madeleine Albright was asked, "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright replied "we think the price is worth it.” 

"Worth it"
While Clinton and Albright were laying seige to Iraq, they were also out Bombing in the Balkans. The Kosovo War is too complicated a topic for this article. It will suffice to note that Yugoslavia was one of those artificial concoctions put together at the Versailles Conference following the Allied breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When Tito died and the Soviet Union collapsed, Yugoslavia began to break apart along ethnic and religious lines. The break up was not entirely “homegrown” given that the U.S. with and through the U.K., was arming the Kosovo “rebels.” The denouement was the fragmentation of Yugolsavia under a NATO bombardment. (In addition to military targets NATO targeted several important civilian facilities (the Pančevo oil refinery, Novi Sad oil refinery, bridges, TV antennas, railroads, etc.)
The sum of the matter was distilled by Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin who stated that the US was using its economic and military superiority to aggressively expand its influence and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Chinese leaders called the NATO campaign a dangerous precedent of naked aggression, and a new form of colonialism. It was seen as part of a plot by the US to destroy Yugoslavia, expand eastward and control all of Europe. China was right. As part of the war the United States constructed Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. It remains the largest forward base of operations in Southeastern Europe. It was the first step in the implementation of Zbigniew Brzezinski's wet-dream of rolling back and breaking up Russia (See The GrandChessboard 1997.)

Given the execratory litany of the bourgeois left, little needs be said about George W. Bush's tenure other than to note that under his administration the National Security State became an open, notorious and entrenched fact. The suspension of civil liberties and constitutional rights, militarization of domestic police, the use of “full spectrum” occupational armies to destabilize regimes and to both provoke and control populations under their control, the use of torture and chemical weaponry, the wholesale dismantling and export of domestic industry and the unregulated financialized plunder of the economy were the incontestable hallmarks of the Cheney-Bush regime. But what the bourgeois left and social liberals refuse to recognize is the continuity of that regime with the past. Bush did not represent a “break” but rather a continuation of Clintonian policies to the next, inevitable and necessary phase. All the rest is People Magazine bullshit.

Nothing best demonstrates the continuity of U.S. policy that Dick Cheney's Defense Planning Guide of 1992, written by a team of neocons under the direction of Paul Wolfowitz. The gist of voluminous bureau-burble is distilled in its own summary,

"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia

There are three additional aspects to this objective: First the U.S must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

Cheney's Defense Planning Guide, was the cornerstone of neocon geopolitics. It's premises and implementations were lifted wholesale and tweaked by the more famous RebuildingAmerica's Defenses white paper put out in September /2000 by the defense-industry funded Project for the New American Century. The P.N.A.C. paper became official policy of the United States under George Bush's NationalSecurity Strategy of September 2002.   Since 2002, Woodchip has written numerous articles analysing the meaning and implications of these vicious spews.

Although Cheney's memorandum (1992) was not officially adopted before Bush handed office to Clinton (1993), it reflected the thinking of a majoritarian part of the U.S. defense and diplomatic establishment. It serves as a flashlight to illuminate the continuity in U.S. policy regardless of administration. It explains Afghanistan, Iraq/Iran Kosovo and Eastern Europe. It explains the U.S. confrontation with Russia and China the two principal and ultimate targets of neo-con strategies. It is all written in black and white for anyone who will take the trouble to read.

The essence of that policy is simply global bullying. When the memorandum states that the U.S. “must maintain ... mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role” what is meant is that the U.S. should engage in a “battered nation syndrome” to keep the bitches humble, unaspiring and in their place. It means nothing else.

Senator Kennedy called the Planning Guide “"a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” But not only have they been accepted they have become entrenched in the country's institutional and intellectual constructs.

All of these policies, domestic and foreign, have been continued under Barrack Obama. The change has been one of tone and tactics but the objectives remain the same. As we stated in Woodchip back on 6 November 2008,

I am sorry to rain on the party, but Obama is not going to introduce any fundamental change to the neo-liberal regime which has gotten us to where we are. Nor is he going to reverse the irreversible course of history, which is that all empires have to rise and fall.

A neo-con is simply a neo liberal gone punk. Domestically and diplomatically Obama will provide some emollients and better manners, but I doubt little else. He may take a few paltry steps towards realizing Bismarckian social benefits and he may go back to an Eisenhower-esque diplomacy of working "through" allies and international institutions. Otherwise the Flush Democrats are already "warning" us not to expect a new New Deal (i.e. a new faux social democracy) and the New York Times is peddling its usual demented ravings telling us it's time to leave off the "folly" of Iraq and focus on the "necessary" war in Afghanistan."  (Delirium Tremens.)

We are not loathe to toot our horn. Everything we forecast has been proven by the events. Everything.

With unparalleled cynicism, Obama campaigned on a platform of feel-good puff talk that exploited the yearning of ordinary Americans for peace, the rule of law and social justice. He implied much but committed to little. His one explicit promise – to bring about a public-option on health care – was jettisoned within the first month of his presidency. Within that first month, he also told a secret meeting of top bankers that he “had their backs” and went on to guarantee Big Pharma's obscene profits and prohibiting government purchases of drugs. His economic recovery has been a sham for anyone not in the upper 1% or 5%. The vaunted unemployment rate is based on Clinton's phoney U3 measurement instead of the discarded U6 measure which counts the absolute total of unemployed persons and which has at all times been at least double the U3 figure. Even this “recovery” is largely based on stock buybacks and other financial tricks. Aside from minor adjustment to some interest rates Obama did nothing to alleviate the crushing debt-burden of higher education. He did next to nothing to prevent foreclosures and has done absolutely nothing to guarantee affordable, secure and decent housing to those not in the Nine Percent. When it came to social security, he actually proposed a downward adjustment to the already inadequate COLA.


His signature achievement - “Obamacare” - is a massive ponzi scheme that enriches insurers while leaving the insured to pay ever increasing premiums, with ever higher deductibles both of which still leave them facing bankruptcy. This act of legerdemain, which leaves millions uninsured, was accomplished by a legal fraud befitting the national capitalist state. Obamacare is not a true public, state run system. It simply floods the private market with mandatory purchases of private health insurance, on the theory that this forced purchasing will fill insurance company coffers sufficiently for them to lower their exorbitant rates. One can always be forced to pay taxes to government but never, in the history of the “Republic” had anyone been forced into a private contract.   Never mind, the ever accommodating Supreme Court, ruled that Obamacare's insurance mandate was a “non-tax tax.” In other words, not only is health care in the U.S. privatized, private corporations are allowed to assume the position of governmental surrogates. The nominal government enforces the payment of non-tax taxes to private corporate entities discharging what everywhere else is a governmental function.

Aside from minor tweaks and chicken feed here and there, Obama's political-economy is based on feeding and empowering the corporate monster in all possible ways. Not only is public policy implemented through “incentives” to private business, but governmental functions are themselves privatized. The signature piece of this emerging corporate feudalism are the trade agreements which have nothing to do with “trade” and everything to do with enriching corporations and empowering them with supra-sovereign prerogatives. It might be recalled that Cheney's overriding domestic goal was to “destroy the beast” by which he meant a government taking charge of the public and general welfare. Obama's trade treaties and domestic economic policies are entirely consistent with Cheney's goal of returning government to its paleo-liberal role as keeper of the peace, guarantor of property and provider of national defense – all of which is simply a euphemism for capitalist mafia enforcer.  This is the underlying reason for the militarization of the police which has proceeded apace in tandem with legislation outlawing protests against or even disclosures of corporate corruption, cruelty or depredations. 


Needless to say, Obama has also done nothing to halt or reverse the entrenchment of the National Security State. His administration has opposed every legal challenge warrantless searches and spying. He has prosecuted lawful whistleblowers with a vengeance. He has asserted the prerogative to kill American citizens without trial on his own initiative, on the spurious rationale that they are “waging war” on the United States, notwithstanding the killings take place on a battlefield which exists only as a semantic metaphor. He has continued the devastating rampages of neo-con policy in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. He subverted the duly elected presidents of Honduras and the Ukraine, in the latter case by funding and instigating neo-nazis. True to prediction, he has sought to sanitize U.S. involvement by using drones, subversives and surrogates such as France or the U.K. Nevertheless, the policy remains the same: “rolling back” Russia, destroying possible rivals and forcing their people to accept corporate exploitation, privatization austerity, permanent indebtedness to Western banks.

History is a matter of currents not choices.  If the bourgeois left was led astray by their foolish hopes that was their foolish problem.   Facts are facts, and once a trajectory has been plotted on the graph the future course of that trajectory is clear. The difference between a neocon and a neoliberal is largely rhetorical. Neoliberals emphasize economic warfare coupled with use of surrogates whereas neocons a emphasize military warfare to install puppets. It could be said that if neocons are simply neoliberals gone punk, neoliberals are simply neocons greased with hypocrisy and treacle


But the continuity of “21st American imperialism” goes back far far further. To 1774 in fact. The Quebec Act of that year sought to regulate the administration of that province and to protect the economic and religious rights of its inhabitants. Well, so who cares? The Colonists cared, because in those days “Quebec” extended into the Ohio Valley and the full length of the Appalachian mountains

The provisions of the Quebec Act were seen by the colonists as a new model for British colonial administration, which would strip the colonies of their elected assemblies. Thus the Declaration of Independence accused King George III of,

abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies"
The Act introduced nothing into the Colonies. It simply applied Crown rule (consistent with English Law) into areas not occupied or governed by the colonists. What annoyed the latter was that the Act extended the boundaries of Quebec into the Ohio Valley, which the colonists had been surveying with avaricious eyes.

The Act extended Crown jurisdiction into the Ohio Valley in order to protect the French and Indians who lived there from being poached and picked off by the Colonists. This was intolerable!!! The Declaration went on to excoriate King George decrying that

and [he] has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

(Jefferson's near hysterical draft also included a rant against King George for at once causing slavery and urging the slaves to revolt against their peaceable owners.)

The Crown did not forbid gradual acquisition of land in the Ohio Valley. It simply regulated the expansion so that it would be something other than outright carnage and plunder. But the idea of protecting Indian property rights simply outraged decent men like George Washington whose family was engaged in real estate development. (Why does anyone think he was a “surveyor”?)

Once independent, the New Pygmy invaded and acquired Florida, drove the Cherokee from their lands, genocidally marching them to their deaths. It intrigued a revolt in Texas after which it invaded Mexico and stole half of its territory.

Polk not only called for an expansion that included Texas, California, but the entire Oregon territory as well. In those days. the northern boundary of Oregon was the latitude line of 54 degrees, 40 minutes. Polk rejected British offers to settle the dispute through arbitration. Newspapers in the United States clamored for Polk to claim the entire region. Headlines like "The Whole of Oregon or None” and "Fifty-four forty or fight!" called for war with the United Kingdom rather than accepting anything short of all of Oregon up through the entirety of British Columbia. In the end it was the overwhelming naval power which Britain could have brought to bear against the United States that poured cold water on the fevered inflammation of American Manifest Destiny. The conflict over Oregon illustrated how hyper-grandiose and insane the Americans were.

Instead, the sociopathic side of American policy manifested itself southward. The so-called Monroe Doctrine was actually the brain-child of Lord Canning, Britain's Foreign Secretary. Canning understood that an Anglo-American (i.e. U.S.) penetration of Ibero-America was more beneficial to Britain than continued Spanish or French influence. In effect, England used its Navy to give the U.S. a free hand in erstwhile Spanish America while restraining it in British North America.  Once cooled off from its northern ambitions, the U.S. resumed its southern expansion.

The following partial list will bridge the gap between 1847 and the Carter Administration.

First of five U.S. interventions in Panama to protect the Atlantic-Pacific railroad from Panamanian nationalists.
U.S. declares war on Spain, blaming it for destruction of the Maine. (In 1976, a U.S. Navy commission will conclude that the explosion was probably an accident.) The war enables the U.S. to occupy Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines where American repression caused the death 250,000 Filipino civilians from violence, famine, and disease.

U.S. sends customs agents to take over finances of the Dominican Republic to assure payment of its external debt.
U.S. Marines help Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz crush a strike in Sonora.

Liberal President José Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua proposes that American mining and banana companies pay taxes; he has also appropriated church lands and legalized divorce, done business with European firms, and executed two Americans for participating in a rebellion. Forced to resign through U.S. pressure. The new president, Adolfo Díaz, is the former treasurer of an American mining company.
U.S. Marines occupy Nicaragua to help support the Díaz regime.

U.S. Marines intervene in Cuba to put down a rebellion of sugar workers.
Nicaragua occupied again by the U.S., to shore up the inept Díaz government. An election is called to resolve the crisis: there are 4000 eligible voters, and one candidate, Díaz. The U.S. maintains troops and advisors in the country until 1925.
U.S. bombs and then occupies Vera Cruz, in a conflict arising out of a dispute with Mexico's new government. President Victoriano Huerta resigns.

President Coolidge strongly suggests the overthrow of Guatemalan President Carlos Herrera, in the interests of United Fruit. The Guatemalans comply.
U.S. Army troops occupy Panama City to break a rent strike and keep order.

U.S. establishes a military academy in Nicaragua to train a National Guard as the country's army. Similar forces are trained in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
"There is no room for any outside influence other than ours in this region. We could not tolerate such a thing without incurring grave risks... Until now Central America has always understood that governments which we recognize and support stay in power, while those which we do not recognize and support fall. Nicaragua has become a test case. It is difficult to see how we can afford to be defeated." --Undersecretary of State Robert Olds
The U.S. rushes warships to El Salvador in response to a communist-led uprising. President Martínez, however, prefers to put down the rebellion with his own forces, killing over 8000 people (the rebels had killed about 100).

U.S. Army School of the Americas opens in Panama as a hemisphere-wide military academy. Its linchpin is the doctrine of National Security, by which the chief threat to a nation is internal subversion; this will be the guiding principle behind dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Central America, and elsewhere.

Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, elected president of Guatemala, introduces land reform and seizes some idle lands of United Fruit-- proposing to pay for them the value United Fruit claimed on its tax returns. The CIA organizes a small force to overthrow him and begins training it in Honduras. When Arbenz naively asks for U.S. military help to meet this threat, he is refused; when he buys arms from Czechoslovakia it only proves he's a Red. 

The CIA broadcasts reports detailing the imaginary advance of the "rebel army," and provides planes to strafe the capital. The army refuses to defend Arbenz, who resigns. The U.S.'s hand-picked dictator, Carlos Castillo Armas, outlaws political parties, reduces the franchise, and establishes the death penalty for strikers, as well as undoing Arbenz's land reform. Over 200,000 Maya Indians are killed in the next 30 years of military rule.
A new junta in El Salvador promises free elections; Eisenhower, fearing leftist tendencies, withholds recognition. A more attractive right-wing counter-coup comes along in three months.
"Governments of the civil-military type of El Salvador are the most effective in containing communist penetration in Latin America." --John F. Kennedy, after the coup
U.S. Green Berets train Guatemalan army in counterinsurgency techniques. Guatemalan efforts against its insurgents include aerial bombing, scorched-earth assaults on towns suspected of aiding the rebels, and death squads, which killed 20,000 people between 1966 and 1976. U.S. Army Col. John Webber claims that it was at his instigation that "the technique of counter-terror had been implemented by the army."
"If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetary in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so." --President Carlos Arana Osorio
A coup in the Dominican Republic attempts to restore Bosch's government. The U.S. invades and occupies the country to stop this "Communist rebellion," with the help of the dictators of Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
"Representative democracy cannot work in a country such as the Dominican Republic," Bosch declares later. Now why would he say that?
U.S.-supported military coup kills Allende and brings Augusto Pinochet Ugarte to power. Pinochet imprisons well over a hundred thousand Chileans (torture and rape are the usual methods of interrogation), terminates civil liberties, abolishes unions, extends the work week to 48 hours, and reverses Allende's land reforms.
Military takes power in Uruguay, supported by U.S. The subsequent repression reportedly features the world's highest percentage of the population imprisoned for political reasons.

A right-wing junta takes over in El Salvador. U.S. begins massively supporting El Salvador, assisting the military in its fight against FMLN guerrillas. Death squads proliferate; Archbishop Romero is assassinated by right-wing terrorists; 35,000 civilians are killed in 1978-81. The rape and murder of four U.S. churchwomen results in the suspension of U.S. military aid for one month.
The U.S. demands that the junta undertake land reform. Within 3 years, however, the reform program is halted by the oligarchy.
A coup brings Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt to power in Guatemala, and gives the Reagan administration the opportunity to increase military aid. Ríos Montt's evangelical beliefs do not prevent him from accelerating the counterinsurgency campaign. Montt's pacification unleashing a scorched earth campaign on the nation's Mayan population, resulting in the annihilation of nearly 600 villages, killings averaging 3,000 a month and totaling 5.5% of the Ixil people. (Montt, was later convicted of genocide.) Te war did not end until 1996, leaving more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million as refugees.

CIA mines three Nicaraguan harbors. Nicaragua takes this action to the World Court, which brings an $18 billion judgment against the U.S. The U.S. refuses to recognize the Court's jurisdiction in the case

Marine Corps Commandant Smedly Butler, put it this way in 1933,

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Throughout history, the U.S.'s technique has been remarkably consistent. It uses the mantra of “free trade in goods and ideas” as a cover for interfering in the domestic affairs and politics of another country where it supports groupings of pro-American quislings. Today this is done through NGO's or trade and trade union associations. In the 19th  century through Masonic lodges. For example, following Mexico's “independence” in 1821, U.S. ambassador Poinsett promoted the creation of the Lodge of York Rite whose adherents were “Liberals” who favoured close ties with (i.e. annexation by) the United States. The so-called “saviour” of his country, Benito Juarez was quite willing to have Mexico chopped into three sections by U.S. duty-free “transit” corridors and one canal as collateral for the loans he was receiving from the United States. Upon assuming office after the civil war (mislabeled a “French Invasion”), he began to sell off Mexican assets to U.S. companies in order to repay the loans. (In pre IMF days, this was done outright and on the table) When Juarez's successor Lerdo de Tejada sought to put a brake on the process, First National Citibank of New York, called in all its loans and bankrupted the government on the spot.

General Porfirio Diaz, having lost the previous election to President Lerdo de Tejada, went to New York, where he met with the Stillmans, Harrimans and Taylors and then left for New Orleans, where he met with leaders of the Whitney Bank and the Morgan shipping lines, and thence to Brownsville where he stayed in Charles Stillman's house for six months, during the duration of a guerilla war which overthrew the Mexican government. Diaz then returned to Mexico as the incoming president, where he would rule the country from 1876 - 1910 directly as president, and four years indirectly through a subaltern. During that time, Americans took over 100 percent of Mexico's infrastructure. They acquired 70 percent of the country's coastlines and frontiers; 28 percent of the nation's surface; 100 percent of the railroads and 70 percent of all incorporated businesses; all the copper and with their Anglo allies, all of the oil. 

In 1910, after 40 years of constitutional dictators ship, Diaz began to think that maybe perhaps the process had gone too far. The U.S. suddenly discovered an urgent interest in “democracy” (see Creelman Interview) and a new hero in the “fair-election liberal,” Francisco I. Madero. This useless “revolutionary” hero, son a mining magnate, continued Diaz's war against the Zapatistas and when he failed to bring the country to heel, was assassinated with the connivance and knowledge of ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who supported installing the thug Victoriano Huerta as president, thereby plunging the country into outright civil war.

In an act of astonishing cognitive dissonance, Huerta's election led Woodrow Wilson to snort, “I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men" And teach he did. His instructional interventions included Mexico in 1914, Haiti from 1915 -1934, Dominican Republic in 1916, Cuba in 1917, and Panama in 1918. The U.S. maintained troops in Nicaragua throughout the Wilson administration and used them to select the president of Nicaragua.   U.S. meddling in Mexico continued unabated.

When Victoriano Huerta gained control of Mexico in 1913 Wilson refused to recognize him because, said Wilson quite forgetting the role of the U.S. ambassador, he had illegally seized power. The real reason was that Huerta actually sought to continue the Diaz's lately found policy of opening up Mexico to all foreign investment equally. Free trade with someone else??!! Never!!

In April 1914, Mexican officials in Tampico arrested a few American sailors who blundered into a prohibited area, and Wilson used the incident to justify ordering the U.S. Navy to occupy the port city of Veracruz. The move greatly weakened Huerta's control, and he abandoned power to Venustiano Carranza, whom Wilson immediately recognized as the president of Mexico.
As fate would have it, Carranza convoked a constitutional convention. Seeking to rectify the Diaz's laissez fair liberalism, the Constitution of 1917, embodied strong socialist and nationalist provisions which hurt many U.S. interests. As a result now, President Warren G. Harding refused to recognize as the legitimate the government of Carranza's succesor, Álvaro Obregón.  Harding also demanded the repeal of several articles of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 or at least that they be not applied to United States. This is what the U.S. calls “promoting democratic values.”

Many of Woodrow Wilson's ideas about moral diplomacy and America's role in the world derived from American exceptionalism –- the self-enfatuated proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. When you hear Obombo string-stroking his belief in American Exceptionalism, (which he does over and over again ad nauseum) think Wilson.

But Wilson was no fool.  He himself said,  “Is is there any man here or any woman, let me say is there any child here, who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?

What “exceptionalism” stacked up to was coating age-old commercial venality with thick icings of  hypocritical kitsch. The sort of inflated, smarmy rhetoric Americans thrill to and lap up.

"I have frequently noticed that the Americans, who generally treat of business in clear, plain language, devoid of all ornament and so extremely simple as to be often coarse, are apt to become inflated as soon as they attempt a more poetical diction. They then vent their pomposity from one end of a harangue to the other; and to hear them lavish imagery on every occasion, one might fancy that they never spoke of anything with simplicity." (De Tocqueville, op cit. Bk II, ch  XVIII.)
Viewing matters with the long arc of history, it can be seen that nothing has changed, except the geographical focus of U.S. interests.
Mexico and Ibero-America are paradigmatic of the U.S. modus operandi which is based on fomenting and then supporting such “local discontent” that is favourable to U.S. corporate interests and then directly intervening or supporting thugs and dictators to suppress that “local discontent” which seeks popular welfare and true national sovereignty. This is the technique of U.S. destabilization and conquest. It proceeded a pace under all these five “pragmatic” and “experienced” presidents. Cheney's neo-con defense planning guide was simply a restatement of what the U.S. has been about since day one. Obama continues that policy, but does so more in the inflated and pious Wilsonian manner as opposed to using the thug-speak of a Polk, Jackson or Bush II.
U.S. interests” is simply a national label slapped on capitalist enterprise. As such, Obama has also continued the neo-liberal domestic agenda, the essence of which is to incentivize private entities to deliver public functions. Of course, this is the most costly and inefficient way to provide for the public welfare because for every dollar spent on a public good a chunk of that dollar is diverted to enrich private investors. The system is a form of reverse tax farming which subordinates the public good in question to the imperatives of profit. Worse than being merely costly, the national capitalist system gradually endows private entities with attributes of sovereignty. It is a form of governmental divestment similar to the one initiated by Diocletian and the later Roman Emperors. This has been the paradigm of American political-economy since the founding of the colonies (all of which were private enterprises endowed with governmental attributes). The tepid attempt to impose some managerial oversight on the “delivery” mechanism – that is, to impose social responsibility on private corporations – was rejected Reagan and progressively abandoned by his successors.
In summary, domestic neo-liberal policies and neo-conservative militarism are the interweaved components of American policy, the essence of which is repression, aggression, plunder and destruction in the name of “growing the economy” and promoting democratic values. That is the continuity the five presidents represent. That is what “the job actually entails.”


The historical consciousness of les americains is an act of delirium. It bears no relation to the actual facts. US Americans think of themselves as a “little house of the prairie.” They think of their genocide of the Indians as
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

(O, please...)

They think of themselves as a big, well meaning oaf who “occasionally makes mistakes” closing their eyes to the monstrous gorgon the country really is.

American self-consciousness is pastiche of counter-factual platitudes and myths.  The country was not pioneered by hardy yeomen of yore, but by unemployed destitute men fleeing urban misery and setting up what were in effect homeless camps in dank hollers. 

From Moonshine to Meth.

It was little better out west.  “Settlement” was reserved for the lucky.  Large numbers looking for “sustainability” simply roamed from state to territory to province in search of some viable if circumstantial livelihood.

Our borders were not thrown open to the huddled masses of Europe so they could breath free, but in order to assure a huddled, cheap, labour force living in squalid tenements as bad as the Warsaw Ghetto.

Yearning to Breathe Free
The point is not that it was no better elsewhere but rather that it was not exceptionally better here. Our larger spaces simply enabled us to diffuse and ignore the malnutrition, the consumption and the misery.

From approximately 1900 to 1975, half the Western world experienced a remarkable upsurge in living standards.  (Germany of course, led the way.)  One might say that the first world was the world’s middle class neighborhood.  But this prosperity did not arise out of thin air.  Ultimately it arose from the plunder of third world resources and the exploitation and repression of its peoples.  The amount of trickledown is always proportional to the squeezing. 

After Lyndon Johnson, the owners of the United States and their political henchmen and whores renounced any notions of social solidarity (i.e., income distribution and guaranteed economic security.) Beneath the opiate of patriotism, exceptionalism and trashy spectacles, they set about to return the country to the hard-scrabble austerity of the 18th and 19th centuries. Only worse.  If in Smedly Butler’s day wars abroad at least brought prosperity at home, in the Era of the Five Wise Presidents, Americans are subjected to war and austerity.

National vanity is certainly not limited to Americans; and, vanity being what it is, national narratives are often bent mirrors. What distinguishes U.S. vanity from others is its stupendous self-ignorance and willingness to believe self-indulgent fictions.  Most other peoples we have been acquainted with tacitly accept the failings and foibles of their countries. It is taken for granted that their politics and  history were a cruel and sordid business as to which they are no exception.
Once when being taken to lunch at a garden restaurant overlooking the Eternal City, I asked my host how it was that all those monuments and buildings erected by Mussolini were still standing. “What do you mean,” my host asked. “Well, he was a fascist dictator wasn't he?” “Senti,” my host said with a mild air of pity, waving his arm over the panorama below, “if we tore down everything built by a dictator, there would be nothing left.”

In such places, sentiments of pride and patriotism are engendered by an ethnic and cultural legacy built up over centuries irrespective of politics and imperial ambitions. The stupendous cathedral at Alby, France, illustrates the point.

It was built in the aftermath of the Albigensian slaughter ("Caedite eos omnes. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius"); but although steeped in blood it remains an artifact of transcendental beauty  [Link] and this achievement embodies the paradox of pride tempered with regret.

The United States simply does not have much of a cultural legacy to point to.  It has stupendous natural beauty, but clapboard white churches, jazz and skyscrapers simply don't stack up.  Sorry; they don't.  Lacking a legacy, the paradox doesn't exist; and without paradox, national vanity is left to feed upon itself.

"No one would think of preventing young Germans from establishing a true ethnical community in a noble love of freedom and loyalty to their country. [But] Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, - however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God. – Pius XII, Mit Brennende Sorge (1937)
But that is precisely what Americans do and it what De Tocqueville signified when he said that American vanity will grant nothing, while it demands everything... The granting of nothing is founded in willful ignorance, in the refusal to look the national self squarely in the face for what it is and instead taking refuge in a sentimental and boastful narcissism that demands everything. That was the revolting spectacle we witnessed in the two recent conventions, which is now aided and abetted by idealizing five monsters as noble, sagacious, and accomplished statesmen