Belaboring the Obvious

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ever since the moment...

... that Tommy Franks declared Dougie Feith to be the "dumbest fucking person on the planet," there have been right-wingers desperate to seize the title from Feith.

Sean Hannity, in the midst of fierce right-wing competition, makes a grab for the gold ring:

HANNITY: There’s two things I said. I say why isn’t Iraq paying us back with oil, and paying every American family and their soldiers that lost loved ones or have injured soldiers — and why didn’t they pay for their own liberation? For the Kuwait oil minister — how short his memory is. You know, we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation, as these sheiks, etcetera etcetera, you know were living in hotels in London and New York, as Trump pointed out, and now they’re gouging us and saying ‘oh of course we can withstand [these prices].’”

There's so much stupidity and rampant imperial ambition in this that it's not worth discussing, except to say that it's an attitude that the corporate right in this country is determined to fix firmly in the public mind.

For many decades, the object of such drivel has been to legitimize the notion that the United States deserves to profit mightily from the resources of the world. The object of military intervention around the world is not to secure "access" to resources, as so many in government and on the right have asserted. No, hell, no. It's about controlling those resources--and their routes of transport--for maximum profit. The great believers in the "free market" were always able to buy those resources on the open market. That wasn't enough, however. That was, umm, too expensive, and limited profit.

Thus has it been ever since the end of WWII. BP needed our help to take Iran's oil and for our help in arranging the coup there, we got a cut. When the Arbenz government of Guatemala sought to buy back United Fruit land for peasants (but used the extremely cheap tax values established under prior dictatorships as the basis for repurchase) and applied a tiny tax on the export of bananas (because the Guatemalan government was broke, thanks to United Fruit), United Fruit arranged for a coup carried out by the CIA.

It should be noted that both Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala were described in the popular press as "communists," which was the ultimate justification for any intervention by the U.S., even though it simply wasn't true in either case. Mossadegh--and the parliament which approved his oil industry nationalization plan--was popularly elected and had broad national support for nationalization. The fig leaf used to paint the democratically-elected Arbenz as a sympathizer of the Soviet Union? He didn't ban the Communist Party of Guatemala and allowed them to demonstrate publicly, the same as any other political party. This presumed extreme threat to U.S. interests had, in 1954, all of two hundred members in Guatemala. Nevertheless, the threat of communism was a convenient cover for what were essentially economic takeovers in both Iran and Guatemala. Not long after the coup, Richard Nixon appeared at a staged photo-op with America's new hand-picked Guatemalan president, Carlos Castillo Armas, which showed behind them thousands of pieces of communist literature supposedly seized from the Presidential Palace--all dutifully recorded by the weekly news cameras for distribution in American theaters.

It was an important fiction to impart to an American people already made fearful of "communism," along with the necessary fiction that the coups in Iran and Guatemala had been popular uprisings against communism, rather than carefully planned undemocratic plots orchestrated and carried out by the U.S. government. The coup in Iran set off a massive campaign of repression by the Shah to protect his place on the Peacock Throne, including the destruction of the nascent democracy movement there, and in Guatemala, initiated a series of brutal military takeovers of the government (America's choice for Guatemalan president, Carlos Castillo Armas, was himself assassinated just three years after the coup) and precipitated the death squads which, over forty years, killed an estimated 200,000 people, mostly indigenous mestizos and pro-democracy advocates.

One of the things least mentioned about the CIA--even within the CIA--is that it has been used as a tool of American big business. More to the point, it has always been politicized to that end. It has always been there to protect the business interests of the U.S. We've been told for decades that the government, and its covert units, were "fighting" communism. Balderdash. We've been doing any and every despicable thing necessary to make money for companies unable to make a profit without the help of the government and its military, and communism had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The 17th of this month is the anniversary of the assassination of another black man in the West's pursuit of power and profit--Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was excoriated by the West for decrying colonialism, and for that crime, was executed by rebel forces in the Congo with the tacit approval and acquiescence of the CIA. When he asked the West for economic aid and was rebuffed, he turned to the Soviet Union. For that, predictably, he was branded a communist by the U.S., and the CIA enabled his capture by rebels who beat him, tortured him and murdered him. Among those rebels was Mobutu Sese Seko, who systematically destroyed the Congo for personal gain, with the assistance and support of the United States.

Contrary to the drivel being drooled by our evangelicals and right-wingers and teabaggers, this is not a nation determined to act on high moral purpose. Rather, it is a cartel, a syndicate, using the considerable military and economic power of a very powerful state to further enrich its already wealthy, corporate and individual.

And for that, we are damned.

[edited to add a couple of explanatory paragraphs]