“The underdeveloped world’s growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations will create a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies. These insurgencies have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources. This situation will become critical as our Nation and allies and potential adversaries become more and more dependent on these strategic resources.
Our superpower political and military status is dependent upon our ability to maintain the economic base derived from our ability to compete in established and developing economic markets throughout the world. If we are to maintain this status, we must have unimpeded access to these markets and to the resources needed to support our manufacturing requirements.”
These are the words of U.S. General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987 to 91, and come from “Hearings before and special reports made by Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives on subjects affecting the naval and military establishments”. Here is illustrated in perfectly concise language the opinions of leading figures in the US establishment as of 1991, and it reflects the foreign policy of the US government throughout much of history. Similar sentiments, though different sympathies are expressed by another officer of the Marine Corps, a Major Smedley Darlington Butler, who served from 1898 to 1931, and whose name any true gentleman would be proud to bear:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and 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 benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might 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.”
One could argue that just as individuals operate in their own self-interest, so do collectives and indeed nations. But the empirical fact that a nation built upon such a progressive constitution and enlightened bill of rights has conducted itself across the world with such disregard for the values it claims to protect is more than jarring. One wonders how much money certain men within the United States would have lost, had the people of El Salvador, Chile, been allowed to exercise their democratic rights, free of US interference. One also wonders how much innocent lives might have been saved.
One can only hope that the good influence of the enlightenment and the Rights of Man, as referenced in the previous post, indeed the contents of the founding documents of the United States, have finally filtered through the collective minds of the US military and political class. After more than two hundred years one hopes.