Exporting Democracy, A History of Failure
    When the U.S. invaded Iraq to find and found no WOMD, Washington created a new agenda. The U.S. would offer the citizens of Iraq freedom and the chance to live in a democracy. Of course that has not happened and a majority of Iraqi citizens want U.S. troops to leave their country.

     Throughout the 20th Century and into the new millennium, Washington has repeatedly tried to export America’s adept style of democracy to countries unable to comprehend it. Washington touted democracy as a form of government, a belief system, lifestyle, and philosophy. The Vietnamese people didn’t understand democracy any better than they understood communism, and their subsistence existence didn’t lend itself to research. I do not believe any government that refers to rural citizens as “peasants” would have the slightest bit of interest in empowering those peasants to change the status quo. Vietnam had nothing to do with democracy but its absence. There is hardly anything democratic about an Executive Office war decided in secret by un-elected and largely anonymous bureaucrats.
    Shortly after World War II, Washington announced that it intended to help other countries resist communism and promised to aid non-communist nations. It was a black-and-white policy that continues to fail miserably in a gray world because it ignores the quality of life and human rights of governed populations. Time and again, Washington has propped up unpopular or repressive regimes simply because they weren’t communist. Consequently, the U.S. has funded corrupt rulers like Samoza, Batista, Marcos, Chiang Kai-shek, Ngo Diem, Noriega and the last Shah of Iran. Samoza ruled and robbed Nicaragua for twenty-years before his assassination, only to be replaced by his sons. Washington helped overthrow other Nicaraguan dictators in a futile attempt to control the country.

    The U.S. had helped Cuba gain independence from Spain so it could become another “Banana Republic,” whose economy was dominated by American interests. The U.S. was happy to sit on the sidelines while Fulgencio Batista ruled Cuba as a dictator. Most Cuban citizens had long resented Batista’s blatant corruption, not to mention their own abject poverty. Castro’s revolution did not happen overnight nor did it take place in a vacuum.

     Cuba adopted a new constitution in 1940 and elected Batista president, but the constitution limited him to one term. Evidently, neither retirement nor democracy agreed with Batista. He overthrew President Prio in 1952, and cancelled the country’s scheduled elections in which a young attorney named Fidel Castro was a candidate for the Cuban House of Representatives. A year later, Castro headed a revolt against Batista, but he landed in prison where his punishment included castration. He was released two years later and briefly exiled himself to Mexico. He returned to Cuba with a small group of rebels, most of who were immediately killed in a gun battle with Batista’s troops. Castro and a handful of rebels managed to escape to the Sierra Mastera Mountains where they recruited a rebel army. Two years later, Castro led his rebel army down from the hills and ousted Batista. Washington didn’t react to the political developments in Cuba until Castro nationalized U.S. businesses, prompting Eisenhower to sever diplomatic relations.
    After the fact, attempts to destabilize Cuba or assassinate Castro were just as mindless as a State Department and intelligence community that either ignored or could not decipher Cuban public opinion. The problems in Cuba were not created by a communist dictator but a public so disaffected that they considered one an improvement. Forty-plus years of a trade embargo did not kill Castro nor endear Cuban citizens to America. The badly outdated policy is a sacred cow to Florida politicians who are afraid of offending Floridian extremists. Some older Cuban-born citizens see themselves as martyrs, but their suffering was not caused by Castro alone because he received help from C.I.A. Director Allen Dulles and the Pentagon. Despite Castro’s political and economic isolation, he has been a living reminder of failed American policy.

    The U.S. government knew Manuel Noriega was a corrupt, sadistic drug dealer while it supported him in Panama. He wasn’t a communist but a military dictator and a despised despot. The U.S. wasn’t concerned about Noriega's character as long as he met Washington’s political expectations.

    More than half a century ago, the C.I.A. had to work overtime to destabilize Iran’s fundamentalist government and help install the last Shah. The agency might have celebrated the event, but it caused immeasurable damage to U.S. credibility throughout the Islamic world. Washington liked the pro-American Shah, but citizens of Iran didn’t and they hated his secret police. It was obvious to Iranian citizens that Washington wasn’t concerned with their fate, and they rightfully resented the U.S, especially the C.I.A. The Shah turned out to be a brutally-repressive dictator who had to flee the country twenty years later just before Iranian fundamentalists, whom the media labeled “revolutionaries,” seized the U.S. Embassy and took its staff hostage. Former members of the fundamentalist government that the C.I.A. had helped oust and who had been in exile for two decades returned to their homeland with a vengeance. If the C.I.A.’s long-term goal in Iran was to create an extremist state that would blossom into a perennial enemy, they had done an excellent job. However, since the agency had no long term goal in Iran, its knee jerk response was a hideous failure. Unfortunately, neither the C.I.A. nor the government learned anything from the failure.

     While claiming to champion noble causes, Washington too often took the low road. After Sandinista rebels overthrew the government in Nicaragua, President Reagan supported the Contras who he called “freedom fighters.”  When Congress vetoed continued Contra support, Reagan helped them in secret. The Contras didn’t fight for freedom but for money, since most were mercenaries. They did a lot of killing but not much fighting. The legal defense used by those who were involved in the secret “arms for hostages” dealings with Iran, including President Reagan, simply made their criminal actions more repulsive. They tried to justify their activity by ascribing the lofty ideological motives of our forefathers to indiscriminate killers. I don’t mean to imply that the Sandinistas were “good guys,” since any troops who kill college students in their dormitory are at best murderous cowards, but the Contras were hardly “minutemen.”  After Reagan left office, the Sandinistas were voted from power, and the Contras eventually disbanded. Secret political schemes can’t stand the objective light of scrutiny, which is why they are always covert. The only time the public hears about such schemes is when they backfire, at which time citizens are misled about relevant details.

    America’s involvement in Vietnam began in secret during World War II when Vietnam was occupied by Japan. Understandably, the public wasn’t told of Washington’s support for Vietnamese resistance groups, including the Viet Minh who were then considered a nationalist army headed by Ho Chi Minh. Before the war, Vietnam had been under French colonial rule. A month after Japan surrendered, France sent its newly-organized army to re-conquer Vietnam and committed one of the most hypocritical acts in history. France itself had just been liberated from years of German army occupation by GIs who paid for France’s freedom in blood. Roosevelt’s disdain for “French Imperialism” in Southeast Asia was well known, but he died before he could address the future of Vietnam. When the French military entered Vietnam, the U.S. government publicly proclaimed itself neutral and even criticized France. Secretly, however, it supplied the French with everything they needed but troops. When French Legionnaires were under siege at Dien Bien Phu, the government considered using nuclear weapons to rescue them, but didn’t mention that or anything else to the public. The government established a precedent of dishonesty in Vietnam twenty years before it sent combat troops, and that precedent opened the door for the greatest error in America’s history. Lying to the public has since become the rule, and liars still justify it by claiming such lies are in the nation’s best interest. Consequently, America’s secret involvement in Vietnam, including its support for France, didn’t become part of the public’s awareness or the nation’s history.

    The precedent became firmly entrenched during four successive presidential administrations, all of which intentionally misled the public about Vietnam. The precedent finally evolved into policy and was used on issues unrelated to Vietnam. I don’t believe the Oval Office is truthful with the public anymore. The government no longer seeks to inform the public but instead manipulates citizens and leads them further from their history.

seeker561   seeker561 wrote
on 5/20/2008 5:57:56 PM
The only requirement a leader need profess to gain the unwavering support of the American government is to support the right of american corporations to commit business in his country.

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/20/2008 5:02:11 AM
Gee, it's amazing how history is so quickly forgotten by those in power. Great writing and a great history lesson

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It won't work in Iraq either.
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