Gangsters for Capitalism -- by Clinton L. Cox -- January 25, 2007
Although benign U.S. intentions are an article of faith among many
Americans, theft, murder and oppression have always been central to U.S.
policies and practices in the non-white world. George Bush’s crusade for
‘democracy’ is yet another chapter in the shameful saga.
“The U.S. has routinely destroyed democracy throughout the globe while its
leaders spout words about spreading democracy.”
“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 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. 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.” – Major-General Smedley
General Butler was the most decorated U.S. military officer of his day.
His experiences helping the United States Government subvert democracy
throughout the world so that multinational corporations could steal the
land and resources of other nations, prompted him to write a short but
politically devastating book, War is a Racket, in 1934. The use of
military, economic and political power to control weaker nations is a
thread that runs throughout the history of the United States from the past
to the present – though most Americans either deny that fact or are
ignorant of it.
The recent death of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean torturer and murderer
whom the United States helped bring to power in a coup in 1973 – toppling
the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende – was simply one
of the latest reminders of the history of the U.S. government in
subverting democracy in order to advance the interests of U.S. bankers,
oil companies, sugar interests and other economically powerful groups. Far
from being a force for good in the world, the U.S. has routinely destroyed
democracy throughout the globe while its leaders spout words about
spreading democracy: words Condoleezza Rice invoked while helping supply
the Israelis with bombs they dropped on Lebanese children in what may have
been a death blow to Lebanese democracy. Words George Bush invokes while
killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children so that
major U.S. companies can steal Iraq’s oil.
“The fear of democracy exists, by definitional necessity, in elite groups
who monopolize economic and political power,” declared Haitian historian
Patrick Bellegarde-Smith. Bellegarde-Smith was writing about Haiti’s
history, but his observation applies equally well to the history of the
United States, including its current history: those who rule this country
fear democracy, especially in lands populated by people of color, because
democracy in those lands and in those hands threatens the vast wealth and
political power of white elites.
“Those who rule this country fear democracy, especially in lands populated
by people of color.”
This fear is especially strong in a nation that was born from a decision
by privileged white males to craft a Constitution that protected their
privileges, whether their wealth had been gained from buying and selling
enslaved Africans, stealing Native American land, or in some other kind of
“We have a security that the general government can never emancipate them
(slaves),” said Gen. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina in praising the
advantages the new Constitution gave slaveowners, “We have obtained a
right to recover our slaves in whatever part of America they may take
refuge, which is a right we had not before. In short, we have made the
best terms for the security of this species of property it was in our
power to make.”
The men who ratified the Constitution invoked words about “democracy,”
while making sure that Black people, Native Americans, women and white
males without property, were not represented at their Constitutional
Convention. Patrick Henry and other “patriots” successfully argued for
passage of the Bill of Rights, in order to make sure the federal
government could not free their slaves under any circumstances, such as it
did with some of the Black men who fought in the Revolutionary War.
“May Congress not say that every black man must fight? Did we not see a
little of this last war?” Henry asked in arguing for the Bill of Rights.
And once Congress passed such a law freeing some Black men, he warned, it
could also declare “that every slave who would go to the army should be
Thus the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights were
adopted on the premise that slavery should be legally protected in the new
nation. This pro-slavery decision shocked the Marquis de Lafayette and
other freedom fighters, including the 5,000 Black American men who had
risked their lives to build a new nation based on democracy.
And so when Black men, women and children in Haiti rebelled against the
French who enslaved them and created a free Black republic, the reaction
of those in power in the United States was not to embrace their democracy:
rather, the so-called Founding Fathers were terrified at the thought of a
Black-ruled democracy and passed even harsher laws to control slaves in
the United States, lest the “infection” of freedom threaten slavery in
“The so-called Founding Fathers were terrified at the thought of a
Black-ruled democracy in Haiti.”
The result was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which was authored by
Pierce Butler of South Carolina, and was the first federal act making it a
crime to harbor an escaped slave or to try and prevent a slave’s arrest or
capture. The Act also made it mandatory to transport a recaptured slave to
any state or territory that demanded his or her return.
The U.S. bitterly opposed democracy in Haiti precisely because it
threatened slaveocracy in the U.S.
This pattern of U.S. opposition to the freedom of people of color,
therefore, was seen from the earliest days of this nation as a threat to
white power and privilege. The destruction of democratic governments
whenever U.S. interests are threatened or perceived as being threatened,
is a goal that is pursued no matter which party is in
The list of nations where the U.S. has subverted democracy is long and
there are so many places we could begin. But let us start with Cuba and
the Philippines in the Spanish-American war of 1898.
U.S. newspapers and politicians filled the air with alleged sympathy for
the Cubans and Filipinos suffering under the brutality of the Spaniards.
There were denunciations throughout this country of concentration camps in
Cuba run by Spain’s Gen. Valeriano “Butcher” Weyler, a man described by
the “New York Journal” as “pitiless, cold, an exterminator of men....There
is nothing to prevent his carnal, animal brain from running riot with
itself in inventing tortures and infamies of bloody debauchery.”
And so the United States went to war, including Buffalo Soldiers of the
9th and 10th Cavalry as well as other regiments of Black soldiers. While
stationed in the South, the Black soldiers were disarmed and more of them
were killed by sheriffs and other alleged upholders of the law than were
killed fighting in the war. An estimated 123 Black men, women and children
had been lynched the year before the soldiers went South: burned at the
stake, hung from trees, riddled with bullets or flayed alive by white
mobs. But still the soldiers went to fight for freedom for other people.
They were welcomed as liberators by the Cubans and fought bravely,
including saving Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders from near
annihilation at a Spanish-held fort called Las Guasimas.
The Rough Riders could not advance “and dared not retreat,” said one Black
soldier, “having been caught in a sunken place in the road, with a
barbed-wire fence on one side and a precipitous hill on the other....At
the moment when it looked as if the whole regiment would be swept down by
the steel-jacketed bullets from the Mausers, four troops of the 10th U.S.
Calvary came up on ‘double time.’”
“In justice to the colored race,” wrote Rough Rider Frank Knox, who later
became Secretary of the Navy, “I must say that I never saw braver men
anywhere. Some of those...will live in my memory forever.”
But another man had a far different opinion, especially of the Cubans.
Winston Churchill, a young military observer from England, had not
realized--just as most of the American public had not realized--that a
large percentage of the Cuban fighters were Black. “A great danger
presents itself,” an alarmed Churchill wrote. “Two-fifths of the
insurgents in the field, are negroes. These men, with Antonio Maceo (a
Black general affectionately nicknamed “The Bronze Titan” by his fellow
Cubans) at their head, would, in the event of success, demand a
predominant share of the government of the country....the results being,
after years of fighting, another black republic.”
But Churchill need not have worried about the “danger” of Black
participation in democracy. Within months of the Black soldiers’ deeds of
bravery in the name of Cuban freedom, the U.S. government declared Cuba a
“protectorate,” stationed a permanent occupying force of White soldiers on
the island and seized its economy for the benefit of U.S. corporations.
Roosevelt, who would probably have been killed if the Black soldiers
hadn't saved him, launched the political career that would carry him to
the White House by turning on his rescuers and saying they could not carry
on a fight once they lost their white officers. This appeal to White
American racism was successful, even though the soldiers had made what one
Rough Rider called “their great, fearless charges” under the command of
Black sergeants after their White officers were killed, a fact Roosevelt
knew full well.
The United States not only grabbed Cuba to prevent the Cubans from
establishing a democracy and to open new markets for American
corporations, but also stole Puerto Rico, Wake Island, Guam and Hawaii.
“The U.S. declared Cuba a ‘protectorate,’ stationed a permanent occupying
force of White soldiers on the island and seized its economy for the
benefit of U.S. corporations.”
Much of Hawaii’s land had already been taken over by American pineapple
plantation owners, and much of its culture trashed and weakened by
American missionaries. Hawaii, said U.S. officials, was “a ripe pear
waiting to be plucked,” and they plucked it. In 1898, while Black soldiers
died and were betrayed in the failed attempt to bring freedom to Cuba, the
U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution annexing Hawaii and assigning the
U.S. military to insure this country’s control of the islands.
Spain, seeing the futility of trying to stop the U.S. militarily, sold all
its possessions to the United States for $20 million. This also included
the Philippines, with Pres. William McKinley clothing the theft in the
following words: “...there was nothing left for us to do but to take them
all (all of Spain’s possessions) and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift
and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we
could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.”
The Filipinos, most of whom had already converted to Christianity in the
decades before the Americans arrived, didn’t feel they needed “God’s
grace” as defined by White Americans. In February 1899, under the
leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo (who had been brought back to the
Philippines from China by U.S. warships, in order to fight against the
Spaniards), the Filipinos launched a war for freedom and democracy
against the forces of the United States.
Though the war against the Filipinos is largely forgotten or ignored in
this country, it was a bloody and brutal conflict that saw American
soldiers and disease kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. While Black
men, women and children were being tortured and killed in this country,
White American soldiers slaughtered the brown-skinned inhabitants of the
Philippines so that American businesses could expand into the Pacific.
“We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under
God, of the civilization of the world,” said Sen. Albert Beveridge in the
U.S. Senate, speaking for the economic and political interests of this
country. “Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Georgraphy
answers the question. China is our natural customer....The Philippines
give us a base at the door of all the East.”
And so Americans unleashed their indiscriminate brutality in the name of
capitalism and democracy.
“Our fighting blood was up,” said one White soldier, “and we all wanted
to kill ‘niggers.’....This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all
In brutality reminiscent of that at Abu Ghraib and throughout Iraq, the
Manila correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger wrote: "Our soldiers have
pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners
people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour
later...stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one..."
The Black American soldiers were disgusted with the racism they saw their
"fellow" soldiers introducing to yet another land, and many of them
deserted. One, George Fagan of the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment,
accepted a commission in the rebel army and fought against the White
Another soldier, William Simms, wrote home (the letters by Simms and 113
other Black soldiers are in Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire, by
William Gatewood): "I was struck by a question a little Filipino boy asked
me, which ran about this way: 'Why does the American Negro come...to fight
us where we are much a friend to him and have not done anything to him. He
is all the same as me and me all the same as you. Why don't you fight
those people in America who burn Negroes, that make a beast of you...?’"
Approximately 1,000 Black soldiers married Filipino women and U.S.
officials were so alarmed at the friendships between Black soldiers and
Filipinos, that they ordered the soldiers shipped home early. While the
majority of White Americans supported the war against the Filipinos, there
were large protests from the Black American community, including many of
"The first thing in the morning is the 'Nigger" and the last thing at
night is the 'Nigger,'" wrote Sgt. Patrick Mason of the 24th to a Black
newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette about White soldiers' routine use of the
word to describe both the Filipinos and Black American soldiers. Another
Black infantryman, William Fulbright, wrote the editor of the Black-owned
Indianapolis Freeman: "This struggle on the islands has been naught but a
gigantic scheme of robbery and oppression."
“U.S. officials were so alarmed at the friendships between Black soldiers
and Filipinos, that they ordered the soldiers shipped home early.”
But while the majority of White Americans supported the war, there were
many exceptions. Speaking of the actions of the United States and other
Western nations in stealing land and imposing oppression in the name of
democracy and spreading "civilization," author Mark Twain wrote in the New
York Herald: "I bring you the stately matron of Christendom, returning
bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chou,
Manchuria, South Africa, and the Philippines, with her soul full of
meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious
Between the end of the Spanish-American War and the beginning of the
Great Depression in 1929, the United States sent its military into Latin
American countries thirty-two times. Haiti alone was occupied from
1915-1934, so that the U.S. could control both its politics and its
economy – just as the democratically-elected Bertrand Aristide was deposed
by U.S.-supported drug dealers and murderers in 2004 for the same reasons.
(In the months before the coup, Aristide had called for reparations from
France for the slavery that had made Haiti France's richest colony.
Aristide's demand angered both France and the U.S., as had his attempts to
bring jobs and justice to the poor, and helped spur his removal from
office. In a recent interview, Haitian folk-singing legend and political
activist Annette Auguste, told how she was arrested by U.S. Marines
shortly after the coup against Aristide and imprisoned for two years
without ever being charged. Her only "crime" apparently was supporting
Aristide and his attempts to help the poor. Auguste said that everyone in
her house, including a five-year-old girl, were arrested by the Marines
U.S. Marines suppressed Haitian revolts, used forced labor, destroyed
local democratic institutions, and jailed newspaper editors. Marine
Major-Gen. Smedley Butler, who had retired in 1931, said the main purpose
of the invasion of Haiti was so the Marines could act as bill collectors
for the National City Bank of New York.
National City and other U.S. and Western banks had managed to gain control
of Haiti's economy after the Haitians refused to pay Westerners for
construction of the National Railway of Haiti. The railroad, which was
largely financed by National City, was never completed. Its main terminal
for Port-au-Prince, in fact, was built in a swamp two miles outside of
town. The U.S. used the alleged default of the Haitian government toward
National City and other bankers, to take control of Haiti, including
collection of its money from customs and other sources.
When Woodrow Wilson became president, he took time off from introducing
racial segregation into federal offices in Washington, D.C., to appoint
William Jennings Bryant as Secretary of State. One of Bryant's first
concerns was to learn more about Haiti, and when he was told the Haitians
spoke French, he exclaimed: "Dear me, think of it! Niggers speaking
A 1918 law giving U.S. corporations the right to turn Haiti into a U.S.
plantation, was passed by just 5% of the population after Wilson's Marines
(led by Smedley Butler) disbanded the Haitian parliament at gunpoint as an
essential move in establishing "economic development."
But White American racism was so strong, it destroyed even the pretense
that the Marines had occupied Haiti for the good of the Haitian people. At
any rate, U.S. officials soon openly admitted that they intended to
control Haiti because of its strategic and military importance. They would
also open up the island to any American businesses that wanted to invest
there, but their main objective was to provide protection to the
newly-constructed Panama Canal and the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in
American-occupied Cuba. The United States also grabbed control of the
deep harbor of Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic in 1916, by launching
a military occupation of the island. Control of the bay had been a U.S.
objective since the days of Secretary of State William Seward in Abraham
Over seventy years later, President Bill Clinton secretly authorized the
Texaco Oil Company to illegally ship oil to the Haitian junta that had
overthrown Aristide. The next day Clinton once again sent the Marines into
Haiti to "restore democracy."
U.S. planners under Clinton well understood (as so many people in so many
previous administrations had understood), as writer and social critic Noam
Chomsky has said, that "the threat of democracy can be overcome if
economic sovereignty is eliminated.... The forces that reconquered the
country are mostly inheritors of the U.S.-installed army and paramilitary
“Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn
Chile and all Chileans to utmost poverty."
While the United States has always been determined to destroy any
democracy seen interfering with U.S. strategic and economic interests, the
words and deeds used to justify that destruction have changed with the
In 1970, when the Chilean people elected Socialist Salvador Allende as
their president, the U.S. ambassador to Chile said: "Not a nut or bolt
shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do
all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost
So much for respecting the results of a democratic election.
In 1973 (on Sept. 11th, fittingly enough) the U.S. used covert action
involving the Central Intelligence Agency and major corporations, to
overthrow Allende. His overthrow resulted in an estimated 3,000 deaths and
the torture of tens of thousands of ordinary Chileans – all with the
whole-hearted support of the United States, which even sent advisers to
help with the killings and torture.
The Beat Goes On
The history of the U.S. destruction of democracy would be tragic enough if
it had stopped at this country's actions in Haiti and Latin America. Or
even if it had stopped with the 1953 coup against the prime minister of
Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, because he had nationalized his country's oil
industry and was going to make sure most of the profits went to the
Iranian people rather than to multinational oil corporations. His
overthrow was engineered by Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President
Theodore Roosevelt, thus continuing the family tradition of subverting
democracy and spreading imperialism.
The U.S. destruction of democracy continued with its complicity in the
1961murder of the democratically-elected leader of the Congo, Patrice
Lumumba. Lumumba had declared that he was going to run the country for the
Congolese and not for the American and European corporations who were
determined to keep raping the wealth of the Congo.
"Everyone has realized that if the Congo dies, all Africa will be plunged
into the night of defeat and servitude," Lumumba said in explaining why he
had fought for the immediate independence of the Congo from Belgium. "The
choice that was offered to us was none other than this alternative:
freedom or the prolongation of our enslavement. There can be no compromise
between freedom and slavery."
“The Eisenhower administration and the Central Intelligence Agency
wholeheartedly backed the murder of Patrice Lumumba.”
And so the United States joined with other Western powers to make sure
that Lumumba could not lead his people – and perhaps the rest of Africa –
to freedom, rather than to the neo-colonialism that continues to this day
in so much of that continent.
The murder of Lumumba was wholeheartedly backed by the Eisenhower
administration and the Central Intelligence Agency. And the killers of
Lumumba are said to be active in Congolese politics to this day, still
subverting democracy and selling the country's riches to the West.
It was natural, then, that the U.S. supported the mass murderer and
torturer, Jonas Savimbi, in Angola – where landmines Savimbi was given
courtesy of rightwing politicians in the United States, South Africa and
Israel, continue to maim and kill men, women and children to this day.
Savimbi was seen as the West's best "hope" for stopping Angola from
becoming an independent nation in control of its own resources, especially
The U.S. destruction of democracy also continued in countless other
countries, including East Timor in Indonesia. While millions mourn the
passing of ex-President Gerald Ford, few remember and the corporate media
never mention that the U.S. government – with Ford's approval and the
whole-hearted support of then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – gave
the go-ahead for the Indonesian government to slaughter hundreds of
thousands of Timorese because they wanted democracy. Ninety per cent of
the weapons the Indonesians used to murder the Timorese, were supplied by
the United States, which knew they would be used for that purpose.
Today the U.S. supports the regime in Nigeria that has spent years helping
major oil companies to destroy the land and livelihood – and often the
lives – of ordinary Nigerians. In the eyes of this government, and in the
eyes of the military men in Nigeria, oil is much more important than the
lives of innocent people. And so today the people in the Niger Delta
continue to fight to preserve the land and air that has always given them
life, against the combined forces of U.S. multinational corporations and
the U.S.-supported Nigerian military.
But the most massive destruction of democracy by the United States is
being done in the name of spreading democracy in the Middle East: its
invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the measures it has taken to control
Iraq's oil. One consultant – in referring to the deposits in Iraq's vast
Western desert – called them the "Holy Grail" of the oil industry, a view
echoed by most big oil executives.
Vice-President Dick Cheney and other neocons had been working for decades
to get their hands on that oil, and accelerated their efforts once George
W. Bush became president. By the time Bush invaded Iraq, his
administration and oil executives had planned exactly what to do.
Just one month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, investigative
journalist Greg Palast was given a State Department document that laid out
the United States government's plan to seize Iraq, its oil and everything
else of value in the country.
The document, called "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth,"
was a dream come true for neocons and their corporate supporters. It
called for lowering taxes on big business, quick sales of Iraq's banks,
bridges and all other "state enterprises" to foreigners (mainly
Americans), allowing foreign corporations to take all of their profits out
of Iraq, eliminating tariffs so U.S. imports would not be taxed and even
revising Iraq's copyright laws to provide fifty years of retroactive
royalty payments to the U.S. recording industry and twenty years of
royalties to Microsoft.
“J. Paul Bremer promptly issued 100 orders designed to carry out the goals
of big oil and other corporate interests in Iraq.”
But most of all it concentrated on taking the oil industry out of the
hands of Iraqis and placing it in the control of Americans and other
Westerners. The one law they didn't change was Saddam Hussein's ban on
unions. There was no talk about bringing democracy to Iraq, but there was
plenty of talk about controlling Iraqi's oil. Executives from
Chevron-Texaco, Royal Dutch-Shell and other oil industry representatives,
met at the White House and came up with a 300-page addendum to the plan.
This addendum called for the complete turnover of Iraq's oil industry to
international oil companies.
J. Paul Bremer, who had been the managing director of Kissinger
Associates, was installed in Saddam Hussein's old palace to run Iraq as
head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He promptly issued 100 orders
designed to carry out the goals of big oil and other corporate
interests. Cargill – the world's biggest grain dealer – was able to dump
hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat on the Iraqi market, thanks to the
U.S. elimination of taxes and tariffs on imported foreign products. One
result of this dumping was the devastation of the livelihoods of Iraqi
farmers, who could not compete with the cheaper surpluses that flooded
their country (Australian surpluses were also dumped on them).
Although Although U.S. officials from Bush on down like to brag about
bringing democracy to Iraq, Bremer cancelled scheduled elections and only
allowed them to be held after Ayatollah Ali Husaini Sistani threatened to
bring a million Shi'ites into the streets to protest Bremer's action.
General Jay Garner, who preceded Bremer as head of the CPA but was
quickly fired after refusing to carry out the Economy Plan, said he was
bitterly opposed to U.S. attempts to seize Iraq's oil, pipelines,
refineries and ports.
"That's one fight you don't want to take on," he told Palast.
But the U.S. is taking it on. While the corporate media in this country
have virtually ignored those parts of the Iraq Study Group report dealing
with Iraq's oil, a simple reading of the report shows that in Chapter 1,
Page 1are these words: "It (Iraq) has the world's second-largest known oil
reserves." The report then goes on to show what the United States can and
should do to gain control of Iraq's oil, including privatizing it, opening
Iraq to private energy and oil companies, and "helping" the Iraqis draft a
new national oil law. This proposed law, which American "advisers" are
working on virtually every day, would assure U.S. and Western control of
Iraq's oil for decades to come. Under this law, as under the rule of the
previous colonial powers, the people of Iraq would have virtually nothing
to say about who gets their oil and how much they have to pay for it.
Two of the report's authors, James A. Baker III (the first President
Bush's secretary of state) and Lawrence Eagleburger, have spent most of
their adult lives representing oil companies. In 1982, when then-President
Ronald Reagan removed Iraq from the list of companies sponsoring
terrorism, Baker and Eagleburger took steps to expand trade with Iraq. The
two ultimately helped Saddam Hussein's Iraq receive billions of dollars,
which the dictator then used to buy U.S. goods. In 1984, when Baker became
treasury secretary and Eagleburger became president of Kissinger
Associates, Reagan opened full diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein's
Baker and Eagleburger were especially interested in Iraq's "vast oil
reserves," and wasted no time in helping both their oil company clients
and their law firms get their hands on Iraqi oil money. It is worth noting
that the Iraqi Study Group report was written, not only by these men, but
by several other conservatives who have long expressed a desire to control
U.S. oil companies have said that passage of a new Iraqi oil law is even
more important than security concerns in deciding when they will move into
Iraq. Many people, therefore, see the continuing presence of U.S. troops
in Iraq as necessary both to pressure Iraqi lawmakers to pass the new law,
and to try and guarantee security for the oil companies.
“Most Iraqi lawmakers don't even know details about the law the U.S. is
trying to force down their throats.”
When Bremer quickly left Iraq (some would say when he "fled"), he left
behind nearly 200 American "experts" to oversee each new Iraqi minister
(these ministers also had to be approved beforehand by the U.S.
The proposed new law is being worked on feverishly by these American
"advisers" and would require Iraqi lawmakers to sign what are called
"production sharing agreements" (PSAs). PSAs are usually negotiated with
weak governments and typically last for at least 15 to 20 years. Most
Iraqi lawmakers don't even know details about the law the U.S. is trying
to force down their throats. Iraqi knowledge or consent isn't considered
necessary in the taking over of Iraq's oil, though, anymore than it is
considered necessary whenever the U.S. decides that controlling another
country's resources is more important than helping sustain or establish
Greg Gregg Muttitt, a member of a social and environmental NGO
(Non-Governmental Organization) operating in Iraq, said he was recently at
a meeting of members of the Iraqi Parliament (MPs) and asked how many "had
seen the law. Out of twenty, only one MP had seen it."
The same lack of Iraqi participation was evident when Iraq's constitution
was drafted, giving Americans and other Westerners the ability to assume
effective control of the country's oil. The U.S. has even locked in its
new laws, rules and regulations, so that it will be almost impossible for
any future Iraqi government to change them.
Said one Sunni negotiator: "This constitution was cooked up in an
American kitchen, not an Iraqi one."
Though the corporate media in this country say virtually nothing about
the subject, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars to build permanent
military bases in Iraq. This country has also built the biggest embassy
with the biggest staff in the world in Iraq: a staff that includes many
CIA agents. Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary and one of the
architects of the invasion of Iraq, is now president of the World Bank, In
that position, say many critics, he is pressuring Iraqis to sign the new
oil law quickly, before Chinese, Russian and Indian oil firms can move in.
To put more pressure on the Iraqis, Wolfowitz recently opened a World Bank
office in Baghdad.
A Nation of Locusts
The hypocrisy inherent in the deeds of the U.S. government as opposed to
its words, has thus continued unchanged from the writing of the
Constitution and Bill of Rights by a few privileged white males intent on
protecting their economic, political and social privileges.
John F. Kennedy, who is revered by millions of Americans, including
African Americans, directed the overthrow of Bolivia's democratically
elected government because he saw it as threatening U.S. corporate
control. Kennedy then supported installation of one of the many neo-Nazi
governments this country has inflicted on Latin America (Successive U.S.
governments, for instance, were perfectly happy with a Cuba riddled by
drugs, prostitution, racial discrimination, and lack of health care and
schools, as long as the rightwing dictators who controlled Cuba put
American interests above the interests of their own poor and largely Black
and Brown population).
In 2000, the U.S. hailed the overthrow of the democratically elected
Black Indian president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and his replacement by a
rightwing publisher who immediately dissolved parliament, the judiciary
and other instruments of democracy. Chavez was quickly returned to power
by a popular uprising, but not before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
and other officials praised what they hoped and thought would be another
pro-rich regime. Chavez's "crime" consisted mainly of using Venezuela's
resources, including its oil, to benefit poor Venezuelans instead of rich
Americans. Rightwing individuals and organizations intent on destroying
Venezuela's democracy, are still being supported financially and
politically by the United States.
“The Pentagon is now training soldiers to destroy teachers, doctors,
writers and anyone else in Latin America who tries to bring democracy to
that region's largely Indian and Black populations.”
U.S. training of the Latin American military has sharply increased in the
last few years. And that training has been shifted from the State
Department, which demanded at least minimal supervision and investigation
of human rights abuses, to the Pentagon, which asks for none. The new
training mission for the Latin American military, as defined by the
Pentagon, is now the fighting of "radical populism." In plain English,
that means the Pentagon is now training soldiers to destroy teachers,
doctors, writers and anyone else in Latin America who tries to bring
democracy to that region's largely Indian and Black populations.
And so today in Venezuela, Nigeria, Haiti, Iraq and probably many other
countries we're not even aware of, democracy is being destroyed or
threatened by the United States, as it has been throughout history when
big business wanted it destroyed.
In "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," John Perkins describes how he
was often sent by the U.S. government into some Third World country that
had something the U.S. wanted: from oil or other natural resources to
strategic location. He then tried to persuade the country's leader to
agree to a project like building oil pipelines or a power plant or a dam.
Anything that would cost a lot of money.
The cost of the project, which would be grossly inflated, would be paid
for by loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. All work
would be done by American firms, which received huge profits. Inevitably
the Third World country would be unable to repay the loan and would then
become, in effect, an American puppet doing whatever the U.S. wanted –
from giving control of its resources to multinational corporations to
voting whatever way the U.S. wanted in the United Nations to allowing the
U.S. to build military bases in the country.
If the hit man's plan didn't work, Perkins said, then the U.S. government
sent in "jackals" from the CIA to try and foment civil disorder. If the
leader of the Third World country still resisted, "accidents" happened to
them. In the 1980's, Panama's Omar Torrijos, who insisted on retaining
control of Panama's resources and helping the poor in his country, and
Ecuador's Jaime Roldas, whose goals were the same for his country, were
both killed in mysterious plane crashes.
Torrijos had taken land from the rich and given it to peasants, and
initiated other economic and social programs that antagonized powerful
Panamanian families and their American supporters.
“If the leader of the Third World country still resisted, ‘accidents’
happened to them.”
"Their deaths were not accidental," Perkins said of Torrijos and Roldas
in an interview on the radio and television show Democracy Now. "They were
assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate,
government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We Economic Hit
Men failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit
men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped
in... It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as
a last resort (as of 2006, the U.S. maintained 725 military bases in 132
countries, including a huge new base in the nation of Djibouti to help
control Africa, its resources and its politics. The CIA Fact Book, in
describing Djibouti’s importance to the West, said it has a "strategic
location near (the) world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian
oilfields..." Djibouti, in fact, can control access to the Red Sea, which
is why both France and the U.S. maintain a strong military presence in
that small African nation).
If Torrijos and Roldas had gone along with U.S. wishes, their nations
would have been plunged into widespread poverty, and large American
corporations would have taken over their infrastructure, resources and
And so while the military is still used to control other nations and their
resources, as we can easily see in Iraq, the economic controls in the
so-called Free Trade Agreements the U.S. has forced on much of Latin
America, are now increasingly used to steal the riches of other regions.
Even the forgiveness of the debt of poor nations that Bush has bragged
about, said Perkins, is a "complete sham" that forces the poor nations to
allow large American corporations to take over their water, gas, power,
telephone and education systems.
The U.S. destruction of democracy can be compared to the actions of
locusts. I used to spend every summer on my grandparents' farm in Ohio,
and I helped my grandfather plant, repair fences, bring in the hay,
whatever needed doing. He was a man who could go hours without saying more
than a few dozen words. But he said one thing I've never forgotten,
because it applies to so many situations in life, including U.S. history:
"When locusts move on, they leave nothing behind."
This nation has acted like a plague of locusts in other lands throughout
its history (and as slave-owning, land-stealing locusts within this
country, starting with the enslavement of Africans and the slaughtering of
Native Americans because Whites wanted their land and labor). While the
method of this country's greed-driven destruction has sometimes changed,
the goal remains the same as it has always been: to steal in order to make
rich Americans richer, even if that means creating generation after
generation of locusts swarming around the world, seizing everything they
Or, as Marine Major-General Smedley Butler described them when he summed
up his career decades ago: creating generation after generation of
"gangsters for capitalism."
Clinton L. Cox is a veteran journalist living in upstate New York. He can
be reached at clintie [at} earthlink.net