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Friday, February 02, 2007

USA and NAZI Germany -- business details

Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler

by Dr. Jacques R. Pauwels -- This article was first published by Global
Research on 8 June 2004.

While America is at war in the Middle East, this incisive and carefully
researched article by Jacques Pauwels provides with a historical
understanding of the relationship between war and profit.

In the United States, World War II is generally known as "the good war."

In contrast to some of America's admittedly bad wars, such as the
near-genocidal Indian Wars and the vicious conflict in Vietnam, World War
II is widely celebrated as a "crusade" in which the US fought unreservedly
on the side of democracy, freedom, and justice against dictatorship.

No wonder President George W. Bush likes to compare his ongoing "war
against terrorism" with World War II, suggesting that America is once
again involved on the right side in an apocalyptic conflict between good
and evil. Wars, however, are never quite as black-and-white as Mr. Bush
would have us believe, and this also applies to World War II. America
certainly deserves credit for its important contribution to the
hard-fought victory that was ultimately achieved by the Allies. But the
role of corporate America in the war is hardly synthesized by President
Roosevelt's claim that the US was the "arsenal of democracy." When
Americans landed in Normandy in June 1944 and captured their first German
trucks, they discovered that these vehicles were powered by engines
produced by American firms such as Ford and General Motors. 1 Corporate
America, it turned out, had also been serving as the arsenal of Nazism.

Fans of the Führer

Mussolini enjoyed a great deal of admiration in corporate America from the
moment he came to power in a coup that was hailed stateside as "a fine
young revolution." 2 Hitler, on the other hand, sent mixed signals. Like
their German counterparts, American businessmen long worried about the
intentions and the methods of this plebeian upstart, whose ideology was
called National Socialism, whose party identified itself as a workers'
party, and who spoke ominously of bringing about revolutionary change. 3
Some high-profile leaders of corporate America, however, such as Henry
Ford liked and admired the Führer at an early stage. 4

Other precocious Hitler-admirers were press lord Randolph Hearst and
Irénée Du Pont, head of the Du Pont trust, who according to Charles
Higham, had already "keenly followed the career of the future Führer in
the 1920s" and supported him financially. 5

Eventually, most American captains of industry learned to love the Führer.
It is often hinted that fascination with Hitler was a matter of
personalities, a matter of psychology. Authoritarian personalities
supposedly could not help but like and admire a man who preached the
virtues of the "leadership principle" and practised what he preached first
in his party and then in Germany as a whole.

Although he cites other factors as well, it is essentially in such terms
that Edwin Black, author of the otherwise excellent book IBM and the
Holocaust, explains the case of IBM chairman Thomas J. Watson, who met
Hitler on a number of occasions in the 1930s and became fascinated with
Germany's authoritarian new ruler. But it is in the realm of political
economy, not psychology, that one can most profitably understand why
corporate America embraced Hitler.

In the 1920s many big American corporations enjoyed sizeable investments
in Germany. IBM established a German subsidiary, Dehomag, before World War
I; in the 1920s General Motors took over Germany's largest car
manufacturer, Adam Opel AG; and Ford founded a branch plant, later known
as the Ford-Werke, in Cologne. Other US firms contracted strategic
partnerships with German companies. Standard Oil of New Jersey — today's
Exxon — developed intimate links with the German trust IG Farben. By the
early 1930s, an élite of about twenty of the largest American corporations
had a German connection including Du Pont, Union Carbide, Westinghouse,
General Electric, Gilette, Goodrich, Singer, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola,
IBM, and ITT. Finally, many American law firms, investment companies, and
banks were deeply involved in America's investment offensive in Germany,
among them the renowned Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, and the
banks J. P. Morgan and Dillon, Read and Company, as well as the Union Bank
of New York, owned by Brown Brothers & Harriman.

The Union Bank was intimately linked with the financial and industrial
empire of German steel magnate Thyssen, whose financial support enabled
Hitler to come to power. This bank was managed by Prescott Bush,
grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush was allegedly also an eager
supporter of Hitler, funnelled money to him via Thyssen, and in return
made considerable profits by doing business with Nazi Germany; with the
profits he launched his son, the later president, in the oil business. 6
American overseas ventures fared poorly in the early 1930s, as the Great
Depression hit Germany particularly hard. Production and profits dropped
precipitously, the political situation was extremely unstable, there were
constant strikes and street battles between Nazis and Communists, and many
feared that the country was ripe for a "red" revolution like the one that
had brought the Bolsheviks to power in Russia in 1917.

However, backed by the power and money of German industrialists and
bankers such as Thyssen, Krupp, and Schacht, Hitler came to power in
January 1933, and not only the political but also the socio-economic
situation changed drastically.

Soon the German subsidiaries of American corporations were profitable
again. Why? After Hitler came to power American business leaders with
assets in Germany found to their immense satisfaction that his so-called
revolution respected the socio-economic status quo.

The Führer's Teutonic brand of fascism, like every other variety of
fascism, was reactionary in nature, and extremely useful for capitalists'
purposes. Brought to power by Germany's leading businessmen and bankers,
Hitler served the interests of his "enablers." His first major initiative
was to dissolve the labour unions and to throw the Communists, and many
militant Socialists, into prisons and the first concentration camps, which
were specifically set up to accommodate the overabundance of left-wing
political prisoners.

This ruthless measure not only removed the threat of revolutionary change
— embodied by Germany's Communists — but also emasculated the German
working class and transformed it into a powerless "mass of followers"
(Gefolgschaft), to use Nazi terminology, which was unconditionally put at
the disposal of their employers, the Thyssens and Krupps. Most, if not all
firms in Germany, including American branch plants, eagerly took advantage
of this situation and cut labour costs drastically. The Ford-Werke, for
example, reduced labour costs from fifteen per cent of business volume in
1933 to only eleven per cent in 1938. (Research Findings, 135–6)

Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Essen increased its profitability
considerably because, in Hitler's state, workers "were little more than
serfs forbidden not only to strike, but to change jobs," driven "to work
harder [and] faster" while their wages "were deliberately set quite low." 7

In Nazi Germany, real wages indeed declined rapidly, while profits
increased correspondingly, but there were no labour problems worth
mentioning, for any attempt to organize a strike immediately triggered an
armed response by the Gestapo, resulting in arrests and dismissals. This
was the case in GM's Opel factory in Rüsselsheim in June 1936. (Billstein
et al., 25) As the Thuringian teacher and anti-fascist resistance member
Otto Jenssen wrote after the war, Germany's corporate leaders were happy
"that fear for the concentration camp made the German workers as meek as
lapdogs." 8 The owners and managers of American corporations with
investments in Germany were no less enchanted, and if they openly
expressed their admiration or Hitler — as did the chairman of General
Motors, William Knudsen, and ITT-boss Sosthenes Behn — it was undoubtedly
because he had resolved Germany's social problems in a manner that
benefited their interests. 9

Depression? What Depression?

Hitler endeared himself to corporate America for another very important
reason: he conjured up a solution to the huge problem of the Great
Depression. His remedy proved to be a sort of Keynesian stratagem, whereby
state orders stimulated demand, got production going again, and made it
possible for firms in Germany — including foreign-owned firms — to
increase production levels dramatically and to achieve an unprecedented
level of profitability.

What the Nazi state ordered from German industry, however, was war
equipment, and it was soon clear that Hitler's rearmament policy would
lead inexorably to war, because only the spoils resulting from a
victorious war would enable the regime to pay the huge bills presented by
the suppliers.

The Nazi rearmament program revealed itself as a wonderful window of
opportunity for the subsidiaries of US corporations. Ford claims that its
Ford-Werke was discriminated against by the Nazi regime because of its
foreign ownership, but acknowledges that in the second half of the 1930s
its Cologne subsidiary was "formally certified [by the Nazi authorities]
... as being of German origin" and therefore "eligible to receive
government contracts." (Research Findings, 21) Ford took advantage of this
opportunity, though the government orders were almost exclusively for
military equipment. Ford's German branch plant had posted heavy losses in
the early 1930s, however, with lucrative government contracts thanks to
Hitler's rearmament drive, the Ford-Werke's annual profits rose
spectacularly from 63,000 Reichsmarks in 1935 to 1,287,800 RM in 1939.

GM's Opel factory in Rüsselsheim near Mainz fared even better. Its share
of the German automobile market grew from 35 per cent in 1933 to more than
50 per cent in 1935, and the GM subsidiary, which had lost money in the
early 1930s, became extremely profitable thanks to the economic boom
caused by Hitler's rearmament program. Earnings of 35 million RM — almost
14 million dollars (US) — were recorded in 1938. (Research Findings, 135–
6; and Billstein et al., 24) 10 In 1939, on the eve of the war, the
chairman of GM, Alfred P. Sloan, publicly justified doing business in
Hitler's Germany by pointing to the highly profitable nature of GM's
operations under the Third Reich. 11

Yet another American corporation that enjoyed a bonanza in Hitler's Third
Reich was IBM. Its German subsidiary, Dehomag, provided the Nazis with the
punch-card machine — forerunner of the computer — required to automate
production in the country, and in doing so IBM-Germany made plenty of
money. In 1933, the year Hitler came to power, Dehomag made a profit of
one million dollars, and during the early Hitler years the German branch
plant paid IBM in the US some 4.5 million dollars in dividends. By 1938,
still in full Depression, "annual earnings were about 2.3 million RM, a 16
per cent return on net assets," writes Edwin Black. In 1939 Dehomag's
profits increased spectacularly again to about four million RM. (Black, 76–
7, 86–7, 98, 119, 120–1, 164, 198, and 222)

American firms with branch plants in Germany were not the only ones to
earn windfalls from Hitler's rearmament drive. Germany was stockpiling oil
in preparation for war, and much of this oil was supplied by American
corporations. Texaco profited greatly from sales to Nazi Germany, and not
surprisingly its chairman, Torkild Rieber, became yet another powerful
American entrepreneur who admired Hitler. A member of the German secret
service reported that he was "absolutely pro-German" and "a sincere
admirer of the Führer." Rieber also became a personal friend of Göring,
Hitler's economic czar. 12

As for Ford, that corporation not only produced for the Nazis in Germany
itself, but also exported partially assembled trucks directly from the US
to Germany. These vehicles were assembled in the Ford-Werke in Cologne and
were ready just in time to be used in the spring of 1939, in Hitler's
occupation of the part of Czechoslovakia that had not been ceded to him in
the infamous Munich Agreement of the previous year. In addition, in the
late 1930s, Ford shipped strategic raw materials to Germany, sometimes via
subsidiaries in third countries; in early 1937 alone, these shipments
included almost 2 million pounds of rubber and 130,000 pounds of copper.
(Research Findings, 24, and 28)

American corporations made a lot of money in Hitler's Germany; this, and
not the Führer's alleged charisma, is the reason why the owners and
managers of these corporations adored him. Conversely, Hitler and his
cronies were most pleased with the performance of American capital in the
Nazi state. Indeed, the American subsidiaries' production of war equipment
met and even surpassed the expectations of the Nazi leadership.

Berlin promptly paid the bills and Hitler personally showed his
appreciation by awarding prestigious decorations to the likes of Henry
Ford, IBM's Thomas Watson, and GM's export director, James D. Mooney. The
stock of American investments in Germany increased considerably after
Hitler came to power in 1933. The major reason for this was that the Nazi
regime did not allow profits made by foreign firms to be repatriated, at
least not in theory. In reality, corporate headquarters could circumvent
this embargo by means of stratagems such as billing the German subsidiary
for "royalties" and all sorts of "fees." Still, the restriction meant that
profits were largely reinvested within the land of opportunity that
Germany revealed itself to be at the time, for example in the
modernization of existing facilities, in the construction or acquisition
of new factories, and in the purchase of Reich bonds and real estate. IBM
thus reinvested its considerable earnings in a new factory in
Berlin-Lichterfelde, in an expansion of its facilities at Sindelfingen
near Stuttgart, in numerous branch offices throughout the Reich, and in
the purchase of rental properties in Berlin and other real estate and
tangible assets. (Black, 60, 99, 116, and 122–3)

Under these circumstances, the value of IBM's German venture increased
considerably, by late 1938 the net worth of Dehomag had doubled from 7.7
million RM in 1934 to over 14 million RM. (Black, 76–7, 86–7, 98, 119–21,
164, 198, and 222) The value of the total assets of the Ford-Werke
likewise mushroomed in the 1930s, from 25.8 million RM in 1933 to 60.4
million RM in 1939. (Research Findings, 133) American investment in
Germany thus continued to expand under Hitler, and amounted to about 475
million dollars by the time of Pearl Harbor. (Research Findings, 6) 13

Better Hitler than "Rosenfeld"

Throughout the "dirty thirties," corporate profits in the US remained
depressed, at home firms like GM and Ford could only dream of the kind of
riches their branch plants in Germany were accumulating thanks to Hitler.
In addition, at home corporate America experienced problems with labour
activists, Communists, and other radicals. What about the vicious
trademarks of the Führer's personality and regime?

Did they not disturb the leaders of corporate America? Apparently not
much, if at all. The racial hatred propagated by Hitler, for example, did
not overly offend their sensibilities. After all, racism against
non-Whites remained systemic throughout the US and anti-Semitism was rife
in the corporate class. In the exclusive clubs and fine hotels patronized
by the captains of industry, Jews were rarely admitted; and some leaders
of corporate America were outspoken anti-Semites. 14

In the early 1920s, Henry Ford cranked out a vehemently anti-Semitic book,
The International Jew, which was translated into many languages; Hitler
read the German version and acknowledged later that it provided him with
inspiration and encouragement. Another notoriously anti-Semitic American
tycoon was Irénée Du Pont, even though the Du Pont family had Jewish
antecedents. 15 Corporate America's anti-Semitism strongly resembled that
of Hitler, whose view of Judaism was intimately interwoven with his view
of Marxism, as Arno J. Mayer has convincingly argued in his book Why Did
the Heavens not Darken? 16

Hitler claimed to be a socialist, but his was supposed to be a "national"
socialism, a socialism for racially pure Germans only. As for genuine
socialism, which preached international working-class solidarity and found
its inspiration in the work of Karl Marx, it was despised by Hitler as a
Jewish ideology that purported to enslave or even destroy Germans and
other "Aryans." Hitler loathed as "Jewish" all forms of Marxism, but none
more so than communism (or "Bolshevism") and he denounced the Soviet Union
as the homeland of "Jewish" international socialism.

In the 1930s, the anti-Semitism of corporate America likewise revealed
itself to be the other side of the coin of anti-socialism, anti-Marxism,
and red-baiting. Most American businessmen denounced Roosevelt's New Deal
as a "socialistic" meddling in the economy. The anti-Semites of corporate
America considered Roosevelt to be a crypto-Communist and an agent of
Jewish interests, if not a Jew himself; he was routinely referred to as
"Rosenfeld," and his New Deal was vilified as the "Jew Deal." 17 

In  his book The Flivver King, Upton Sinclair described the notoriously
anti-Semitic Henry Ford dreaming of an American fascist movement that
"pledged to put down the Reds and preserve the property interests of the
country; to oust the Bolshevik [Roosevelt] from the White House and all
his pink professors from the government services ... [and] to make it a
shooting offense to talk communism or to call a strike." 18 Other American
tycoons also yearned for a fascist saviour who might rid America of its
"reds" and thus restore prosperity and profitability. Du Pont provided
generous financial support to America's own fascist organizations, such as
the infamous "Black Legion," and was even involved in plans for a fascist
coup d'état in Washington. (Hofer and Reginbogin, 585–6) 19

Why Worry about the Coming War?

It was quite obvious that Hitler, who was rearming Germany to the teeth,
was going to unleash a major war sooner or later. Whatever misgivings
America's captains of industry may initially have had in this respect soon
dissipated, because the cognoscenti of international diplomacy and
business in the 1930s widely expected that Hitler would spare western
countries, instead attacking and destroying the Soviet Union as promised
in Mein Kampf. To encourage and assist him in the task that he considered
his great mission in life, 20 was the hidden objective of the infamous
appeasement policy pursued by London and Paris, and tacitly approved by
Washington. 21

Corporate leaders in all western countries, including most emphatically
the US, loathed the Soviet Union because that state was the cradle of the
communist "counter system" to the international capitalist order of
things, and a source of inspiration to America's own "reds." Furthermore,
they found particularly offensive that the homeland of communism did not
fall prey to the Great Depression, but experienced an industrial
revolution that has been favourably compared by American historian, John
H. Backer with the widely celebrated "economic miracle" of West Germany
after World War II. 22

The appeasement policy was a devious scheme, whose real objective had to
be concealed from the British and French publics. It backfired
spectacularly because its contortions eventually made Hitler suspicious
about the real intentions of London and Paris, which caused him to make a
deal with Stalin, and thus led to Germany's war against France and Great
Britain rather than the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, the dream of a German crusade against the communist Soviet
Union on behalf of the capitalist West refused to die. London and Paris
merely launched a "Phoney War" against Germany, hoping that Hitler would
eventually turn against the Soviet Union after all. This was also the idea
behind quasi-official missions to London and Berlin, undertaken by GM's
James D. Mooney, who tried very hard — as did the US ambassador in London,
Joseph Kennedy, father of John F. Kennedy — to persuade German and British
leaders to resolve their inconvenient conflict, so that Hitler could
devote his undivided attention to his great eastern project. In a meeting
with Hitler in March 1940, Mooney made a plea for peace in western Europe,
suggesting "that Americans had understanding for Germany's standpoint with
respect to the question of living space" — in other words, that they had
nothing against his territorial claims in the East. (Billstein et al., 37–
44) 23

These American initiatives, however, did not produce the hoped-for
results. The owners and managers of American corporations with
subsidiaries in Germany undoubtedly regretted that the war Hitler had
unleashed in 1939 was a war against the West, but in the final analysis it
did not matter all that much. What did matter was this: helping Hitler to
prepare for war had been good business and the war itself opened up even
more extravagant prospects for doing business and making profits.

Putting the Blitz in the Blitzkrieg

Germany's military successes of 1939 and 1940 were based on a new and
extremely mobile form of warfare, the Blitzkrieg, consisting of extremely
swift and highly synchronized attacks by air and land.

To wage "lightning war," Hitler needed engines, tanks, trucks, planes,
motor oil, gasoline, rubber, and sophisticated communication systems to
insure that the Stukas struck in tandem with the Panzers. Much of that
equipment was supplied by American firms, mainly German subsidiaries of
big American corporations, but some was exported from the US, albeit
usually via third countries. Without this kind of American support, the
Führer could only have dreamed of "lightning wars," followed by "lightning
victories," in 1939 and 1940.

Many of Hitler's wheels and wings were produced in the German subsidiaries
of GM and Ford. By the end of the 1930s these enterprises had phased out
civilian production to focus exclusively on the development of military
hardware for the German army and air force.

This switch, requested — if not ordered — by the Nazi authorities, had not
only been approved, but even actively encouraged by the corporate
headquarters in the US. The Ford-Werke in Cologne proceeded to build not
only countless trucks and personnel carriers, but also engines and spare
parts for the Wehrmacht. GM's new Opel factory in Brandenburg cranked out
"Blitz" trucks for the Wehrmacht, while the main factory in Rüsselsheim
produced primarily for the Luftwaffe, assembling planes such as the JU-88,
the workhorse of Germany's fleet of bombers. At one point, GM and Ford
together reportedly accounted for no less than half of Germany's entire
production of tanks. (Billstein et al., 25,) 24

Meanwhile ITT had acquired a quarter of the shares of airplane
manufacturer Focke-Wulf, and so helped to construct fighter planes. 25
Perhaps the Germans could have assembled vehicles and airplanes without
American assistance. But Germany desperately lacked strategic raw
materials, such as rubber and oil, which were needed to fight a war
predicated on mobility and speed. American corporations came to the rescue.

As mentioned earlier, Texaco helped the Nazis stockpile fuel. In addition,
as the war in Europe got underway, large quantities of diesel fuel,
lubricating oil, and other petroleum products were shipped to Germany not
only by Texaco but also by Standard Oil, mostly via Spanish ports. (The
German Navy, incidentally, was provided with fuel by the Texas oilman
William Rhodes Davis.) 26 In the 1930s Standard Oil had helped IG Farben
develop synthetic fuel as an alternative to regular oil, of which Germany
had to import every single drop. (Hofer and Reginbogin, 588–9)

Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and wartime armament minister, stated
after the war that without certain kinds of synthetic fuel made available
by American firms, Hitler "would never have considered invading Poland."
27 As for the Focke-Wulfs and other fast German fighter planes, they could
not have achieved their deadly speed without a component in their fuel
known as synthetic tetraethyl; the Germans themselves later admitted that
without tetraethyl the entire Blitzkrieg concept of warfare would have
been unthinkable.

This magic ingredient was produced by an enterprise named Ethyl GmbH, a
daughter firm of a trio formed by Standard Oil, Standard's German partner
IG Farben, and GM. (Hofer and Reginbogin, 589) 28 Blitzkrieg warfare
involved perfectly synchronized attacks by land and by air, and this
required highly sophisticated communications equipment. ITT's German
subsidiary supplied most of that apparatus, while other state-of-the-art
technology useful for Blitzkrieg purposes came compliments of IBM, via its
German branch plant, Dehomag. According to Edwin Black, IBM's know-how
enabled the Nazi war machine to "achieve scale, velocity, efficiency";
IBM, he concludes, "put the 'blitz' in the krieg for Nazi Germany."
(Black, 208) From the perspective of corporate America it was no
catastrophe that Germany had established its mastery over the European
continent by the summer of 1940.

Some German subsidiaries of American corporations — for example the
Ford-Werke and Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Essen — were expanding into
the occupied countries, riding the coat-tails of the victorious Wehrmacht.
IBM's president, Thomas Watson, was confident that his German branch plant
would gain advantage from Hitler's triumphs. Black writes: "Like many
[other US businessmen], Watson expected" that Germany would remain master
of Europe, and that IBM would benefit from this by "[ruling] the data
domain," that is, by providing Germany with the technological tools for
total control. (Black, 212)

On 26 June 1940 a German commercial delegate organized a dinner at the
Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to cheer the victories of the Wehrmacht
in western Europe. Many leading industrialists attended, including James
D. Mooney, the executive in charge of GM's German operations. Five days
later, the German victories were again celebrated in New York, this time
at a party hosted by the philo-fascist Rieber, boss of Texaco. Among the
leaders of corporate America present were James D. Mooney and Henry Ford's
son, Edsel. 29

What a Wonderful War!

Nineteenfourty proved an exceptionally good year for corporate America.
Not only did the subsidiaries in Germany share in the spoils of Hitler's
triumphs, but the European conflict was generating other wonderful
opportunities. America herself was now preparing for a possible war, and
from Washington orders for trucks, tanks, planes, and ships started
rolling in. Moreover, initially on a strict "cash-and-carry" basis and
then through "Lend-Lease," President Roosevelt allowed American industry
to supply Great Britain with military hardware and other equipment, thus
enabling brave little Albion to continue the war against Hitler

By the end of 1940, all belligerent countries as well as armed neutrals
like the US itself were being girded with weaponry cranked out by
corporate America's factories, whether stateside, in Great Britain (where
Ford et al., also had branch plants), or in Germany. It was a wonderful
war indeed, and the longer it lasted, the better — from a corporate point
of view.

Corporate America neither wanted Hitler to lose this war nor to win it;
instead they wanted this war to go on as long as possible. Henry Ford had
initially refused to produce weapons for Great Britain, but now he changed
his tune. According to his biographer, David Lanier Lewis, he "expressed
the hope that neither the Allies nor the Axis would win [the war]," and he
suggested that the US should supply both the Allies and the Axis powers
with "the tools to keep on fighting until they both collapse." 30

On 22 June 1941 the Wehrmacht rolled across the Soviet border, powered by
Ford and GM engines and equipped with the tools produced in Germany by
American capital and know-how.

While many leaders of corporate America hoped that the Nazis and the
Soviets would remain locked for as long as possible in a war that would
debilitate them both, 31 thus prolonging the European war that was proving
to be so profitable, the experts in Washington and London predicted that
the Soviets would be crushed, "like an egg" by the Wehrmacht. 32 The USSR,
however, became the first country to fight the Blitzkrieg to a standstill.

And on 5 December 1941, the Red Army even launched a counter-offensive. 33
It was henceforth evident that the Germans would be preoccupied for quite
some time on the Eastern Front, that this would also permit the British to
continue to wage war, and that the profitable Lend-Lease business would
therefore continue indefinitely. The situation became even more
advantageous to corporate America when it appeared that business could
henceforth also be done with the Soviets. Indeed, in November 1941, when
it had already become clear that the Soviet Union was not about to
collapse, Washington agreed to extend credit to Moscow, and concluded a
Lend-Lease agreement with the USSR, thus providing the big American
corporations with yet another market for their products.

American Aid to the Soviets...and to the Nazis

After the war, it would become customary in the West to claim that the
unexpected Soviet success against Nazi Germany had been made possible
because of massive American assistance, provided under the terms of a
Lend-Lease agreement between Washington and Moscow, and that without this
aid the Soviet Union would not have survived the Nazi attack. This claim
is doubtful.

First, American material assistance did not become meaningful before 1942,
that is, long after the Soviets had single-handedly put an end to the
progress made by the Wehrmacht and had launched their first
counteroffensive. Second, American aid never represented more than four to
five per cent of total Soviet wartime production, although it must be
admitted that even such a slim margin may possibly prove crucial in a
crisis situation. Third, the Soviets themselves cranked out all of the
light and heavy high-quality weapons — such as the T-34 tank, probably the
best tank of World War II — that made their success against the Wehrmacht
possible. 34 Finally, the much-publicized Lend-Lease aid to the USSR was
to a large extent neutralized — and arguably dwarfed — by the unofficial,
discreet, but very important assistance provided by American corporate
sources to the German enemies of the Soviets. In 1940 and 1941 American
oil trusts increased the lucrative oil exports to Germany; large amounts
delivered to Nazi Germany via neutral states.

The American share of Germany's imports of vitally important oil for
engine lubrication (Motorenöl) increased rapidly, from 44 per cent in July
1941 to 94 per cent in September 1941. Without US-supplied fuel, the
German attack on the Soviet Union would not have been possible, according
to the German historian Tobias Jersak, an authority in the field of
American "fuel for the Führer." 35 Hitler was still ruminating the
catastrophic news of the Soviet counter-offensive and the failure of the
Blitzkrieg in the East, when he learned that the Japanese had launched a
surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The US were now at war
with Japan, but Washington made no move to declare war on Germany.

Hitler had no obligation to rush to the aid of his Japanese friends, but
on 11 December 1941, he declared war on the US, probably expecting —
vainly as it turned out — that Japan would reciprocate by declaring war on
the Soviet Union. Hitler's needless declaration of war, accompanied by a
similarly frivolous Italian declaration of war, made the US an active
participant in the war in Europe. How did this affect the German assets of
the big American corporations? 36

Business as Usual

The German subsidiaries of American corporations were not ruthlessly
confiscated by the Nazis and removed entirely from the control of
stateside corporate headquarters until the defeat of Germany in 1945, as
parent companies would claim after the war. Regarding the assets of Ford
and GM, for example, the German expert Hans Helms states, "not even once
during their terror regime did the Nazis undertake the slightest attempt
to change the ownership status of Ford [i.e. the Ford-Werke] or Opel." 37
Even after Pearl Harbor, Ford retained its 52 per cent of the shares of
Ford-Werke in Cologne, and GM remained Opel's sole proprietor. (Billstein
et al., 74, and 141)

Moreover, the American owners and managers maintained a sometimes
considerable measure of control over their branch plants in Germany after
the German declaration of war on the US. There is evidence that the
corporate headquarters in the US and the branch plants in Germany stayed
in contact with each other, either indirectly, via subsidiaries in neutral
Switzerland, or directly by means of modern worldwide systems of
communications. The latter was supplied by ITT in collaboration with
Transradio, a joint venture of ITT itself, RCA (another American
corporation), and the German firms Siemens and Telefunken. 38

In its recent report on its activities in Nazi Germany, Ford claims that
its corporate headquarters in Dearborn had no direct contact with the
German subsidiary after Pearl Harbor. As for the possibility of
communications via branch plants in neutral countries, the report states
that "there is no indication of communication with each other through
these subsidiaries." (Research Findings, 88)

However, the lack of such "indication" may simply mean that any evidence
of contacts may have been lost or destroyed before the authors of the
report were allowed access to the relevant archives; after all, this
archival access was only granted more than 50 years after the facts.
Moreover, the report itself acknowledges somewhat contradictorily that an
executive of the Ford-Werke did travel to Lisbon in 1943 for a visit to
the Portuguese Ford subsidiary, and it is extremely unlikely that Dearborn
would have been unaware of this. As for IBM, Edwin Black writes that
during the war its general manager for Europe, Dutchman Jurriaan W.
Schotte, was stationed in the corporate headquarters in New York, where he
"continued to regularly maintain communication with IBM subsidiaries in
Nazi territory, such as his native Holland and Belgium." IBM could also
"monitor events and exercise authority in Europe through neutral country
subsidiaries," and especially through its Swiss branch in Geneva, whose
director, a Swiss national, "freely travelled to and from Germany,
occupied territories, and neutral countries."

Finally, like many other large US corporations, IBM could also rely on
American diplomats stationed in occupied and neutral countries to forward
messages via diplomatic pouches. (Black, 339, 376, and 392–5) The Nazis
not only allowed the American owners to retain possession and a certain
amount of administrative control over their German assets and
subsidiaries, but their own intervention in the management of Opel and the
Ford-Werke, for example, remained minimal.

After the German declaration of war against the US, the American staff
members admittedly disappeared from the scene, but the existing German
managers — confidants of the bosses in the US — generally retained their
positions of authority and continued to run the businesses, thereby
keeping in mind the interests of the corporate headquarters and the
shareholders in America.

For Opel, GM's headquarters in the US retained virtually total control
over the managers in Rüsselsheim; so writes American historian Bradford
Snell, who devoted attention to this theme in the 1970s, but whose
findings were contested by GM. A recent study by German researcher Anita
Kugler confirms Snell's account while providing a more detailed and more
nuanced picture. After the German declaration of war on the US, she writes
the Nazis initially did not bother the management of Opel at all. Only on
25 November 1942 did Berlin appoint an "enemy assets' custodian," but the
significance of this move turned out to be merely symbolic. The Nazis
simply wanted to create a German image for an enterprise that was owned
100 per cent by GM throughout the war. (Billstein et al., 61)

In the Ford-Werke, Robert Schmidt, allegedly an ardent Nazi, served as
general manager during the war, and his performance greatly satisfied both
the authorities in Berlin and the Ford managers in America. Messages of
approval and even congratulations — signed by Edsel Ford — were regularly
forthcoming from Ford's corporate headquarters in Dearborn. The Nazis too
were delighted with Schmidt's work; in due course they awarded him the
title, "leader in the field of the military economy." Even when, months
after Pearl Harbor, a custodian was appointed to oversee the Ford plant in
Cologne, Schmidt retained his prerogatives and his freedom of action. 39
IBM's wartime experience with Axis custodians in Germany, France, Belgium,
and other countries was likewise far from traumatic.

According to Black, "they zealously protected the assets, extended
productivity, and increased profits"; moreover, "existing IBM managers
were kept in place as day-to-day managers and, in some cases, even
appointed deputy enemy custodians." (Black, 376, 400–2, 405, and 415) The
Nazis were far less interested in the nationality of the owners or the
identity of the managers than in production, because after the failure of
their Blitzkrieg strategy in the Soviet Union they experienced an
ever-growing need for mass-produced airplanes and trucks.

Ever since Henry Ford had pioneered the use of the assembly line and other
"Fordist" techniques, American firms had been the leaders in the field of
industrial mass production, and the American branch plants in Germany,
including GM's Opel subsidiary, were no exception to this general rule.
Nazi planners like Göring and Speer understood that radical changes in
Opel's management might hinder production in Brandenburg and Rüsselsheim.
To maintain Opel's output at high levels, the managers in charge were
allowed to carry on because they were familiar with the particularly
efficient American methods of production. Anita Kugler concludes that
Opel, "made its entire production and research available to the Nazis and
thus — objectively speaking — contributed to enhance their long-term
capability to wage war." (Billstein et al., 81) 40

Experts believe that GM's and Ford's best wartime technological
innovations primarily benefitted their branch plants in Nazi Germany. As
examples they cite all-wheel-drive Opel trucks, which proved eminently
useful to the Germans in the mud of the Eastern Front and in the desert of
North Africa, as well as the engines for the brand new ME-262, the first
jet fighter, were also assembled by Opel in Rüsselsheim. 41 As for the
Ford-Werke, in 1939 this firm also developed a state-of-the-art truck —
the Maultier ("mule") — that had wheels on the front and a track on the
back end. The Ford-Werke also created a "cloak company," Arendt GmbH, to
produce war equipment other than vehicles, specifically machining parts
for airplanes. But Ford claims that this was done without Dearborn's
knowledge or approval.

Towards the end of the war this factory was involved in the top-secret
development of turbines for the infamous V-2 rockets that wreaked
devastation on London and Antwerp. (Research Findings, 41–2) ITT continued
to supply Germany with advanced communication systems after Pearl Harbor,
to the detriment of the Americans themselves, whose diplomatic code was
broken by the Nazis with the help of such equipment. 42 Until the very end
of the war, ITT's production facilities in Germany as well as in neutral
countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain provided the German armed
forces with state-of-the-art martial toys. Charles Higham offers specifics:

After Pearl Harbor the German army, navy, and air force contracted with
ITT for the manufacture of switchboards, telephones, alarm gongs, buoys,
air raid warning devices, radar equipment, and thirty thousand fuses per
month for artillery shells ... This was to increase to fifty thousand per
month by 1944. In addition, ITT supplied ingredients for the rocket bombs
that fell on London, selenium cells for dry rectifiers, high-frequency
radio equipment, and fortification and field communication sets. Without
this supply of crucial materials it would have been impossible for the
German air force to kill American and British troops, for the German army
to fight the Allies, for England to have been bombed, or for Allied ships
to have been attacked at sea. 43

No surprise then that the German subsidiaries of American enterprises were
regarded as "pioneers of technological development" by the planners in
Germany's Reich Economics Ministry and other Nazi authorities involved in
the war effort. 44

Edwin Black also claims that IBM's advanced punch card technology,
precursor to the computer, enabled the Nazis to automate persecution. IBM
allegedly put the fantastical numbers in the Holocaust, because it
supplied the Hitler regime with the Hollerith calculating machines and
other tools that were used to "generate lists of Jews and other victims,
who were then targeted for deportation" and to "register inmates [of
concentration camps] and track slave labor." (Black, xx) However, critics
of Black's study maintain that the Nazis could and would have achieved
their deadly efficiency without the benefit of IBM's technology. In any
event, the case of IBM provides yet another example of how US corporations
supplied state-of-the-art technology to the Nazis and obviously did not
care too much for what evil purposes this technology would be used.

Profits über Alles!

The owners and managers of the parent firms in the US cared little what
products were developed and rolled off the German assembly lines. What
counted for them and for the shareholders were only the profits. Branch
plants of American corporations in Germany achieved considerable earnings
during the war, and this money was not pocketed by the Nazis. For the
Ford-Werke precise figures are available.

The profits of Dearborn's German subsidiary rose from 1.2 million RM in
1939 to 1.7 million RM in 1940, 1.8 million RM in 1941, 2.0 million RM in
1942, and 2.1 million RM in 1943. (Research Findings, 136). 45 The Ford
subsidiaries in occupied France, Holland, and Belgium, where the American
corporate giant also made an industrial contribution to the Nazi war
effort, were likewise extraordinarily successful. Ford-France, for example
— not a flourishing firm before the war — became very profitable after
1940 thanks to its unconditional collaboration with the Germans; in 1941
it registered earnings of 58 million francs, an achievement for which it
was warmly congratulated by Edsel Ford. (Billstein et al, 106; and
Research Findings, 73–5) 46

As for Opel, that firm's profits skyrocketed to the point where the Nazi
Ministry of Economics banned their publication to avoid bad blood on the
part of the German population, which was increasingly being asked to
tighten its collective belt. (Billstein et al, 73) 47 IBM not only
experienced soaring profits in its German branch plant, but, like Ford,
also saw its profits in occupied France jump primarily because of business
generated through eager collaboration with the German occupation
authorities. It was soon necessary to build new factories. Above all,
however, IBM prospered in Germany and in the occupied countries because it
sold the Nazis the technological tools required for identifying,
deporting, ghettoizing, enslaving, and ultimately exterminating millions
of European Jews, in other words, for organizing the Holocaust. (Black,
212, 253, and 297–9)

It is far from clear what happened to the profits made in Germany during
the war by American subsidiaries, but some tantalizing tidbits of
information have nevertheless emerged. In the 1930s American corporations
had developed various strategies to circumvent the Nazis' embargo on
profit repatriation. IBM's head office in New York, for example, regularly
billed Dehomag for royalties due to the parent firm, for repayment of
contrived loans, and for other fees and expenses; this practice and other
byzantine inter-company transactions minimized profits in Germany and thus
simultaneously functioned as an effective tax-avoidance scheme. In
addition, there were other ways of handling the embargo on profit
repatriation, such as reinvestment within Germany, but after 1939 this
option was no longer permitted, at least not in theory.

In practice, the American subsidiaries did manage to quite considerably
increase their assets that way. Opel, for example, took over a foundry in
Leipzig in 1942. 48 It also remained possible to use earnings in order to
improve and modernize the branch plant's own infrastructure, that too,
happened in the case of Opel.

There also existed opportunities for expansion in the occupied countries
of Europe. Ford's subsidiary in France used its profits in 1941 to build a
tank factory in Oran, Algeria; this plant allegedly provided Rommel's
Africa Corps with the hardware needed to advance all the way to El Alamein
in Egypt. In 1943 the Ford-Werke also established a foundry not far from
Cologne, just across the Belgian border near Liège, to produce spare
parts. (Research Findings, 133) It is likely, furthermore, that a portion
of the lucre amassed in the Third Reich was transferred back to the US in
some way, for example, by way of neutral Switzerland. Many US corporations
maintained offices there that served as intermediaries between stateside
headquarters and their subsidiaries in enemy or occupied countries, and
that were also involved in "profit funnelling," as Edwin Black writes in
connection with the Swiss branch of IBM. (Black, 73) 49

For the purpose of profit repatriation, corporations could also call on
the experienced services of the Paris branches of some American banks,
such as Chase Manhattan and J.P. Morgan, and of a number of Swiss banks.
Chase Manhattan was part of the Rockefeller empire, as was Standard Oil,
IG Farben's American partner; its branch in German-occupied Paris remained
open throughout the war and profited handsomely from close collaboration
with the German authorities. On the Swiss side there also happened to be
some financial institutions involved that — without asking difficult
questions — took care of the gold robbed by the Nazis from their Jewish
victims. An important role was played in this respect by the Bank for
International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, a presumably international bank
that had been founded in 1930 within the framework of the Young Plan for
the purpose of facilitating German reparation payments after World War I.

American and German bankers (such as Schacht) dominated the BIS from the
start and collaborated cozily in this financial venture. During the war, a
German and a member of the Nazi Party, Paul Hechler, functioned as
director of the BIS, while an American, Thomas H. McKittrick, served as
president. McKittrick was a good friend of the American ambassador in
Berne and American secret service [OSS, forerunner of the CIA] agent in
Switzerland, Allen Dulles. Before the war, Allen Dulles and his brother
John Foster Dulles had been partners in the New York law firm of Sullivan
& Cromwell, and had specialized in the very profitable business of
handling American investments in Germany. They had excellent connections
with the owners and top managers of American corporations and with
bankers, businessmen, and government officials — including Nazi bigwigs —
in Germany. After the outbreak of war, John Foster became the corporate
lawyer for the BIS in New York, while Allen joined the OSS and took up a
post in Switzerland, where he happened to befriend McKittrick. It is
widely known that during the war the BIS handled enormous amounts of money
and gold originating in Nazi Germany. 50 Is it unreasonable to suspect
that these transfers might have involved US-bound profits of American
branch plants, in other words, money hoarded by clients and associates of
the ubiquitous Dulles brothers?

Bring on the Slave Labour!

Before the war, German corporations had eagerly taken advantage of the big
favour done for them by the Nazis, namely the elimination of the labour
unions and the resulting transformation of the formerly militant German
working class into a meek "mass of followers." Not surprisingly, in Nazi
Germany real wages declined rapidly while profits increased
correspondingly. During the war prices continued to rise, while wages were
gradually eroded and working hours were increased. 51 This was also the
experience of the labour force of the American subsidiaries. In order to
combat the labour shortages in the factories, the Nazis relied
increasingly on foreign labourers who were put to work in Germany under
frequently inhuman conditions.

Together with hundreds of thousands of Soviet and other POWs as well as
inmates of concentration camps, these Fremdarbeiter (forced labourers)
formed a gigantic pool of workers that could be exploited at will by
whomever recruited them, in return for a modest remuneration paid to the
SS. The SS, moreover, also maintained the required discipline and order
with an iron hand. Wage costs thus sank to a level of which today's
downsizers can only dream, and the corporate profits augmented

The German branch plants of American corporations also made eager use of
slave labour supplied by the Nazis, not only Fremdarbeiter, but also POWs
and even concentration camp inmates. For example, the Yale & Towne
Manufacturing Company based in Velbert in the Rhineland reportedly relied
on "the aid of labourers from Eastern Europe" to make "considerable
profits," 52 and Coca-Cola is also noted to have benefitted from the use
of foreign workers, as well as prisoners of war in its Fanta plants. 53
The most spectacular examples of the use of forced labour by American
subsidiaries, however, appear to have been provided by Ford and GM, two
cases that were recently the subject of a thorough investigation.

Of the Ford-Werke it is alleged that starting in 1942 this firm
"zealously, aggressively, and successfully" pursued the use of foreign
workers and POWs from the Soviet Union, France, Belgium, and other
occupied countries — apparently with the knowledge of corporate
headquarters in the US. 54 Karola Fings, a German researcher who has
carefully studied the wartime activities of the Ford-Werke, writes:

[Ford] did wonderful business with the Nazis. Because the acceleration of
production during the war opened up totally new opportunities to keep the
level of wage costs low. A general freeze on wage increases was in effect
in the Ford-Werke from 1941 on. However, the biggest profit margins could
be achieved by means of the use of so-called Ostarbeiter [forced workers
from Eastern Europe]. 55 The thousands of foreign forced labourers put to
work in the Ford-Werke were forced to slave away every day except Sunday
for twelve hours, and for this they received no wage whatsoever.

Presumably even worse was the treatment reserved for the relatively small
number of inmates of the concentration camp of Buchenwald, who were made
available to the Ford-Werke in the summer of 1944. (Research Findings, 45–
72) In contrast to the Ford-Werke, Opel never used concentration camp
inmates, at least not in the firm's main plants in Rüsselsheim and
Brandenburg. The German subsidiary of GM, however, did have an insatiable
appetite for other types of forced labour, such as POWs. Typical of the
use of slave labour in the Opel factories, particularly when it involved
Russians, writes historian Anita Kugler, were "maximum exploitation, the
worst possible treatment, punishment even in the case of
minor offences." The Gestapo was in charge of supervising the foreign
labourers. 56

A Licence to Work for the Enemy

In the US, the parent corporations of German subsidiaries worked very hard
to convince the American public of their patriotism, so that no ordinary
American would have thought that GM, for example, which financed
anti-German posters at home, was involved on the distant banks of the
Rhine in activities that amounted to treason. 57

Washington was far better informed than John Doe, but the American
government observed the unwritten rule stipulating that "what is good for
General Motors is good for America," and turned a blind eye to the fact
that American corporations accumulated riches through their investments
in, or trade with, a country with which the US was at war.

This had a lot to do with the fact that corporate America became even more
influential in Washington during the war than it had been before; indeed,
after Pearl Harbor representatives of "big business" flocked to the
capital in order to take over many important government posts.

Supposedly they were motivated by sterling patriotism and offered their
services for a pittance, and they became known as "dollar-a-year men."
Many, however, appeared to be there in order to protect their German
assets. Former GM president William S. Knudsen, an outspoken admirer of
Hitler since 1933 and friend of Göring, became director of the Office of
Production Management. Another GM executive, Edward Stettinius Jr., became
Secretary of State, and Charles E. Wilson, president of General Electric,
became "the powerful number-two man at the War Production Board." 58

Under these circumstances, is it any wonder that the American government
preferred to look the other way while the country's big corporations
squirreled in the land of the German enemy? In fact, Washington virtually
legitimated these activities. Barely one week after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor, on 13 December 1941, President Roosevelt himself discreetly
issued an edict allowing American corporations to do business with enemy
countries — or with neutral countries that were friendly with enemies — by
means of a special authorization. 59

This order clearly contravened the supposedly strict laws against all
forms of "trading with the enemy." Presumably, Washington could not afford
to offend the country's big corporations, whose expertise was needed in
order to bring the war to a successful end. As Charles Higham has written,
Roosevelt's administration "had to get into bed with the oil companies
[and with the other big corporations] in order to win the war."
Consequently, government officials systematically turned a blind eye to
the unpatriotic conduct of American investment capital abroad, but there
were some exceptions to this general rule. "In order to satisfy public
opinion," writes Higham, token legal action was taken in 1942 against the
best-known violator of the "trading with the enemy" legislation, Standard
Oil. But Standard pointed out that it "was fueling a high percentage of
the Army, Navy, and Air Force, [thus] making it possible for America to
win the war."

The Rockefeller enterprise eventually agreed to pay a minor fine "for
having betrayed America" but was allowed to continue its profitable
commerce with the enemies of the United States. 60 A tentative
investigation into IBM's arguably treasonous activities in the land of the
Nazi enemy was similarly aborted because the US needed IBM technology as
much as the Nazis did. Edwin Black writes: "IBM was in some ways bigger
than the war." Both sides could not afford to proceed without the
company's all-important technology. "Hitler needed IBM. So did the
Allies." (Black, 333, and 348) Uncle Sam briefly wagged a finger at
Standard Oil and IBM, but most owners and managers of corporations who did
business with Hitler were never bothered at all. The connections of ITT's
Sosthenes Behn with Nazi Germany, for example, were a public secret in
Washington, but he never experienced any difficulties as a result of them.
Meanwhile, it would appear that the headquarters of the Western Allies
were keen to go as easy as possible on the American-owned enterprises in
Germany. According to German expert Hans G. Helms, Bernard Baruch, a
high-level advisor to President Roosevelt, had given the order not to bomb
certain factories in Germany, or to bomb them only lightly; it is hardly
surprising that the branch plants of American corporations fell into this
category. And indeed, while Cologne's historical city centre was flattened
in repeated bombing raids, the large Ford factory on the outskirts of the
city enjoyed the reputation of being the safest place in town during air
attacks, although some bombs did of course occasionally fall on its
properties. (Billstein et al, 98-100) 61

After the war GM and the other American corporations that had done
business in Germany were not only not punished, but even compensated for
damages suffered by their German subsidiaries as a result of
Anglo-American bombing raids. General Motors received 33 million dollars
and ITT 27 million dollars from the American government as
indemnification. The Ford-Werke had suffered relatively little damage
during the war, and had received more than 100,000 dollars in compensation
from the Nazi regime itself; Ford's branch plant in France, meanwhile, had
managed to wrest an indemnification of 38 million francs from the Vichy
Regime. Ford nevertheless applied in Washington for 7 million dollars
worth of damages, and after much wrangling received a total of 785,321
dollars "for its share of allowable losses sustained by Ford-Werke and
Ford of Austria during the war," which the company has acknowledged in its
recently published report. (Research Findings, 109)

Corporate America and Post-War Germany

When the war in Europe ended, corporate America was well positioned to
help determine what would happen to defeated Germany in general, and to
their German assets in particular. Long before the guns fell silent, Allan
Dulles from his observation post in Berne, Switzerland, established
contact with the German associates of the American corporations he had
earlier served as a lawyer in Sullivan & Cromwell, and as Patton's tanks
pushed deep into the Reich in the spring of 1945, ITT boss Sosthenes Behn
donned the uniform of an American officer and rode into defeated Germany
to personally inspect his subsidiaries there. More importantly the
administration in the US occupation zone of Germany teemed with
representatives of firms such as GM and ITT. 62 They were there, of
course, to ensure that Corporate America would continue to enjoy the full
usufruct of its profitable investments in defeated and occupied Germany.
One of their first concerns was to prevent the implementation of the
Morgenthau Plan. Henry Morgenthau was Roosevelt's secretary of the
Treasury, who had proposed to dismantle German industry, thereby
transforming Germany into a backward, poor, and therefore harmless
agrarian state.

The owners and managers of corporations with German assets were keenly
aware that implementation of the Morgenthau Plan meant the financial death
knell for their German subsidiaries; so they fought it tooth and nail. A
particularly outspoken opponent of the plan was Alfred P. Sloan, the
influential chairman of the board of GM. Sloan, other captains of
industry, and their representatives and contacts in Washington and within
the American occupation authorities in Germany, favoured an alternative
option: the economic reconstruction of Germany, so that they would be able
to do business and make money in Germany, and eventually they got what
they wanted. After the death of Roosevelt, the Morgenthau Plan was quietly
shelved, and Morgenthau himself would be dismissed from his high-ranking
government position on 5 July 1945 by President Harry Truman. Germany — or
at least the western part of Germany — would be economically
reconstructed, and US subsidiaries would turn out to be major
beneficiaries of this development. 63

The American occupation authorities in Germany in general, and the agents
of American parent companies of German subsidiaries within this
administration in particular, faced another problem. After the demise of
Nazism and of European fascism in general, the general mood in Europe was
— and would remain for a few short years — decidedly anti-fascist and
simultaneously more or less anti-capitalist, because it was widely
understood at that time that fascism had been a manifestation of
capitalism. Almost everywhere in Europe, and particularly in Germany,
radical grassroots associations, such as the German anti-fascist groups or
Antifas, sprang up spontaneously and became influential. Labour unions and
left-wing political parties also experienced successful comebacks; they
enjoyed wide popular support when they denounced Germany's bankers and
industrialists for bringing Hitler to power and for collaborating closely
with his regime, and when they proposed more or less radical
anti-capitalist reforms such as the socialization of certain firms and
industry sectors.

Such reform plans, however, violated American dogmas regarding the
inviolability of private property and free enterprise, and were obviously
a major source of concern to American industrialists with assets in
Germany. 64 The latter were also aghast at the emergence in Germany of
democratically elected "works' councils" that demanded input into the
affairs of firms. To make matters worse, the workers frequently elected
Communists to these councils. This happened in the most important American
branch plants, Ford-Werke and Opel.

The Communists played an important role in Opel's work's council until
1948, when GM officially resumed Opel's management and promptly put an end
to the experiment. The American authorities systematically opposed the
anti-fascists and sabotaged their schemes for social and economic reform
at all levels of public administration as well as in private business. In
the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim, for example, the American authorities
collaborated only reluctantly with the anti-fascists, while doing
everything in their power to prevent the establishment of new labour
unions and to deny the works' councils any say in the firm's management.
Instead of allowing the planned democratic "bottom-up" reforms to blossom,
the Americans proceeded to restore authoritarian "top-down" structures
wherever possible.

They pushed the anti-fascists aside in favour of conservative,
authoritarian, right-wing personalities, including many former Nazis. At
the Ford-Werke in Cologne, anti-fascist pressure forced the Americans to
dismiss the Nazi general manager Robert Schmidt, but thanks to Dearborn
and the American occupation authorities he and many other Nazi managers
were soon firmly back in the saddle. 65

Capitalism, Democracy, Fascism, and War

"About the things one cannot speak about, one ought to remain silent,"
declared the famous philosopher Wittgenstein, and a colleague, Max
Horkheimer, paraphrased him with regard to the phenomenon of fascism and
its German variety, Nazism, by emphasizing that if one wants to talk about
fascism, one cannot remain silent about capitalism.

Hitler's Third Reich was a monstrous system made possible by Germany's top
business leaders, and while it proved a catastophe for millions of people,
it functioned as a Nirvana for corporate Germany. Foreign-owned
enterprises were also allowed to enjoy the wonderful services

Hitler's regime rendered to das Kapital, such as the elimination of all
workers' parties and labour unions, a rearmament program that brought them
immense profits, and a war of conquest that eliminated foreign competition
and provided new markets, cheap raw materials, and an unlimited supply of
even cheaper labour from POWs, foreign slave labourers, and concentration
camp inmates. The owners and managers of America's leading corporations
admired Hitler because in his Third Reich they could make money like
nowhere else, and because he stomped on German labour and swore to destroy
the Soviet Union, homeland of international communism.

Edwin Black wrongly believes that IBM was atypical of American
corporations in flourishing from capitalism's great fascist feast on the
banks of the Rhine. Many, if not all of these corporations, took full
advantage of the elimination of labour unions and left-wing parties and
the orgy of orders and profits made possible by rearmament and war. They
betrayed their country by producing all sorts of equipment for Hitler's
war machine even after Pearl Harbor, and they objectively helped the Nazis
to commit horrible crimes.

These technicalities, however, did not seem to perturb the owners and
managers in Germany and even in the US, who were aware of what was going
on overseas. All that mattered to them, clearly, was that unconditional
collaboration with Hitler allowed them to make profits like never before;
their motto might well have been: "profits über Alles." After the war, the
capitalist masters and associates of the fascist monster distanced
themselves à la Dr. Frankenstein from their creature, and loudly
proclaimed their preference for democratic forms of government. Today,
most of our political leaders and our media want us to believe that "free
markets" — a euphemistic code word for capitalism — and democracy are
Siamese twins. Even after World War II, however, capitalism, and
especially American capitalism, continued to collaborate cozily with
fascist regimes in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Chile,
while supporting extreme-right movements, including death squads and
terrorists, in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere.

One might say that in the headquarters of the corporations, whose
collective interest is clearly reflected in American government policies,
nostalgia has lingered on for the good old days of Hitler's Third Reich,
which was a paradise for German as well as American and other foreign
firms: no left-wing parties, no unions, unlimited numbers of slave
labourers, and an authoritarian state that provided the necessary
discipline and arranged for an "armament boom" and eventually a war that
brought "horizonless profits," as Black writes, alluding to the case of

These benefits could more readily be expected from a fascist dictatorship
than from a genuine democracy, hence the support for the Francos,
Suhartos, and other Pinochets of the post-war world. But even within
democratic societies, capitalism actively seeks the cheap and meek labour
that Hitler's regime served up on a silver platter, and recently it has
been by means of stealthy instruments such as downsizing and
globalization, rather than the medium of fascism, that American and
international capital have sought to achieve the corporate Nirvana of
which Hitler's Germany had provided a tantalizing foretaste.

Important References:

See Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between
Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation (London: Crown
Publishers, 2001) Walter Hofer and Herbert R. Reginbogin, Hitler, der
Westen und die Schweiz 1936–1945 (Zürich: NZZ Publishing House, 2002)
Reinhold Billstein, Karola Fings, Anita Kugler, and Nicholas Levis,
Working for the Enemy: Ford, General Motors, and Forced Labor during the
Second World War ( New York: Berghahn, 2000) Research Findings About
Ford-Werke Under the Nazi Regime (Dearborn, MI: Ford Motor Company, 2001)


1 Michael Dobbs, "US Automakers Fight Claims of Aiding Nazis," The
International Herald Tribune, 3 December 1998.

2 David F. Schmitz, "'A Fine Young Revolution': The United States and the
Fascist Revolution in Italy, 1919–1925," Radical History Review, 33
(September 1985), 117–38; and John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The
View from America (Princeton 1972).

3 Gabriel Kolko, "American Business and Germany, 1930–1941," The Western
Political Quarterly, 25 (December 1962), 714, refers to the "'skepticism'
displayed by the American business press with respect to Hitler because he
was 'a political and economic nonconformist.'"

4 Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (New
York 2001), especially 172–91.

5 Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American
Money Plot 1933–1949 (New York 1983), 162.

6 Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, "The Hitler Project," chapter 2
in George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (Washington 1991). Available
online at < >.

7 Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized
History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It
(New York 1993), 221.

8 Cited in Manfred Overesch, Machtergreifung von links: Thüringen 1945/46
(Hildesheim Germany 1993), 64.

9 Knudsen described Nazi Germany after a visit there in 1933 as "the
miracle of the twentieth century." Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 163.

10 Stephan H. Lindner, Das Reichskommissariat für die Behandlung
feindliches Vermögens im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Eine Studie zur Verwaltungs-,
Rechts- and Wirtschaftsgeschichte des nationalsozialistischen Deutschlands
(Stuttgart 1991), 121; Simon Reich, The Fruits of Fascism: Postwar
Prosperity in Historical Perspective (Ithaca, NY and London 1990), 109,
117, 247; and Ken Silverstein, "Ford and the Führer," The Nation, 24
January 2000, 11–6.

11 Cited in Michael Dobbs, "Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi
Collaboration," The Washington Post, 12 December 1998.

12 Tobias Jersak, "Öl für den Führer," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11
February 1999.

13 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, xvi.

14 The authors of a recent book on the Holocaust even emphasize that "in
1930 anti-Semitism was much more visible and blatant in the United States
than in Germany." See Suzy Hansen's interview with Deborah Dwork and
Robert Jan Van Pelt, authors of Holocaust: a History,<
http:/ >

15 Henry Ford, The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem
(Dearborn, MI n.d.); and Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 162.

16 Aino J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens not Darken? The Final Solution in
History (New York 1988).

17 Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate,
279; and Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 161.

18 Upton Sinclair, The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America (Pasadena, CA
1937), 236.

19 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 162–4.

20 See Bernd Martin, Friedensinitiativen und Machtpolitik im Zweiten
Weltkrieg 1939–1942 (Düsseldorf 1974); and Richard Overy, Russia's War
(London 1998), 34–5.

21 See Clement Leibovitz and Alvin Finkel, In Our Time: The
Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion (New York 1998).

22 John H. Backer, "From Morgenthau Plan to Marshall Plan," in Robert
Wolfe, ed., Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Governments in
Germany and Japan, 1944–1952 (Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL 1984), 162.

23 Mooney is cited in Andreas Hillgruber, ed., Staatsmänner und Diplomaten
bei Hitler. Vertrauliche Aufzeichnungen über Unterredungen mit Vertretern
des Auslandes 1939–1941 (Frankfurt am Main 1967), 85.

24 Anita Kugler, "Das Opel-Management während des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Die
Behandlung 'feindlichen Vermögens' und die 'Selbstverantwortung' der
Rüstungsindustrie," in Bernd Heyl and Andrea Neugebauer, ed., "... ohne
Rücksicht auf die Verhältnisse": Opel zwischen Weltwirtschaftskrise and
Wiederaufbau, (Frankfurt am Main 1997), 35–68, and 40–1; "Flugzeuge für
den Führer. Deutsche 'Gefolgschaftsmitglieder' und ausländische
Zwangsarbeiter im Opel-Werk in Rüsselsheim 1940 bis 1945," in Heyl and
Neugebauer, "... ohne Rücksicht auf die Verhältnisse," 69–92; and Hans G.
Helms, "Ford und die Nazis," in Komila Felinska, ed., Zwangsarbeit bei
Ford (Cologne 1996), 113.

25 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 93, and 95.

26 Jersak, "Öl für den Fühier"; Bernd Martin, "Friedens-Planungen der
multinationalen Grossindustrie (1932–1940) als politische
Krisenstrategie," Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 2 (1976), 82.

27 Cited in Dobbs, "U.S. Automakers."

28 Jamie Lincoln Kitman, "The Secret History of Lead," The Nation, 20
March 2002.

29 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 97; Ed Cray, Chrome Colossus: General
Motors and its Times (New York 1980), 315; and Anthony Sampson, The Seven
Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Made (New York 1975),

30 David Lanier Lewis, The Public Image of Henry Ford: an American Folk
Hero and His Company (Detroit 1976), 222, and 270.

31 Ralph B. Levering, American Opinion and the Russian Alliance, 1939–1945
(Chapel Hill, NC 1976), 46; and Wayne S. Cole, Roosevelt and the
Isolationists, 1932–45 (Lincoln, NE 1983), 433–34.

32 The hope for a long, drawn-out conflict between Berlin and Moscow was
reflected in many newspaper articles and in the much-publicized remark
uttered by Senator Harry S. Truman on 24 June 1941, only two days after
the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union:
"If we see that Germany is winning, we should help Russia, and if Russia
is winning, we should help Germany, so that as many as possible perish on
both sides ...." Levering, American Opinion, 46–7.

33 Even as late as 5 December 1941, just two days before the Japanese
strike against Pearl Harbor, a caricature in Hearst's Chicago Tribune
suggested that it would be ideal for "civilization" if these "dangerous
beasts," the Nazis and the Soviets, "destroyed each other." The Chicago
Tribune caricature is reproduced in Roy Douglas, The World War 1939–1943:
The Cartoonists' Vision (London and New York 1990), 86.

34 Clive Ponting, Armageddon: The Second World War (London 1995), 106; and
Stephen E. Ambrose, Americans at War (New York 1998), 76–77.

35 Jersak, "Öl fürden Führer." Jersak used a "top secret" document
produced by the Wehrmacht Reichsstelle für Mineralöl, now in the military
section of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives), File RW 19/2694. See also
Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 59–61.

36 James V. Compton, "The Swastika and the Eagle," in Arnold A. Offner,
ed., America and the Origins of World War II, 1933–1941 (New York 1971),
179–83; Melvin Small, "The 'Lessons' of the Past: Second Thoughts about
World War II," in Norman K. Risjord , ed., Insights on American History.
Volume II (San Diego 1988), 20; and Andreas Hillgruber, ed., Der Zweite
Weltkrieg 1939–1945: Kriegsziele und Strategie der Grossen Mächte, 5th
ed., (Stuttgart 1989), 83–4.

37 Helms, "Ford und die Nazis," 114.

38 Helms, "Ford und die Nazis," 14–5; and Higham, Trading With the Enemy,

39 Silverstein, "Ford and the Führer," 15–6; and Lindner, Das
Reichskommüsariet, 121.

40 Kugler, "Das Opel-Management," 52, 61 ff., and 67; and Kugler,
"Flugzeuge," 85.

41 Snell, "GM and the Nazis," Ramparts, 12 (June 1974), 14–15; Kugler,
"Das Opel-Management," 53, and 67; and Kugler, "Flugzeuge," 89.

42 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 112.

43 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 99.

44 Lindner, Das Reichskommissariet, 104.

45 Silverstein, "Ford and the Führer," 12, and 14; Helms, "Ford und die
Nazis," 115; and Reich, The Fruits of Fascism, 121, and 123.

46 Silverstein, "Ford and the Führer," 15–16.

47 Kugler, "Das Opel-Management," 55, and 67; and Kugler, "Flugzeuge," 85.

48 Communication of A. Neugebauer of the city archives in Rüsselsheim to
the author, 4 February 2000; and Lindner, Das Reichskommissariat, 126–27.

49 Helms, "Ford und die Nazis," 115.

50 Gian Trepp, "Kapital über alles: Zentralbankenkooperation bei der Bank
für Internationalen Zahlungsausgleich im Zweiten Weltkrieg," in Philipp
Sarasin und Regina Wecker, eds., Raubgold, Reduit, Flüchtlinge: Zur
Geschichte der Schweiz im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Zürich 1998), 71–80; Higham,
Trading With the Enemy, 1–19 and 175; Anthony Sampson, The Sovereign State
of ITT (New York 1973), 47; "VS-Banken collaboreerden met nazi's," Het
Nieuwsblad, Brussels, 26 December 1998; and William Clarke, "Nazi Gold:
The Role of the Central Banks — Where Does the Blame Lie?," Central
Banking, 8, (Summer 1997),< >

51 Bernt Engelmann, Einig and gegen Recht und Freiheit: Ein deutsches
Anti-Geschichtsbuch (München 1975), 263–4; Marie-Luise Recker, "Zwischen
sozialer Befriedung und materieller Ausbeutung: Lohn- und
Arbeitsbedingungen im Zweiten Weltkrieg," in Wolfgang Michalka, ed., Der
Zweite Weltkrieg. Analysen, Grundzüge, Forschungsbilanz (Munich and Zürich
1989), 430–44, especially 436.

52 Lindner, Das Reichkommissariat, 118.

53 Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola, 228.

54 "Ford-Konzern wegen Zwangsarbeit verklagt," Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 6
March 1998 as cited in Antifaschistisck Nochrichten, 6 (1998),< >

55 Karola Fings, "Zwangsarbeit bei den Kölner Ford-Werken," in Felinska,
Zwangsarbeit bei Ford, (Cologne 1996), 108. See also Silverstein, "Ford
and the Führer," 14; and Billstein et al., 53–5, 135–56.

56 Kugler, "Das Opel-Management," 57; Kugler, "Flugzeuge," 72–6, quotation
from 76; and Billstein et al., 53–5.

57 GM-financed patriotic posters may be found in the Still Pictures Branch
of the National Archives in Washington, DC.

58 Michael S. Sherry, In the Shadow of War:The United States Since the
1930s (New Haven and London 1995), 172.

59 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, xv, and xxi.

60 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 44–6.

61 Helms, "Ford und die Nazis," 115–6; Reich, The Fruits of Fascism, 124–
5; and Mira Wilkins and Frank Ernest Hill, American Business Abroad: Ford
on Six Continents (Detroit 1964), 344–6.

62 Higham, Trading With the Enemy, 212–23; Carolyn Woods Eisenberg, "U.S.
Policy in Post-war Germany: The Conservative Restoration," Science and
Society, 46 (Spring 1982), 29; Carolyn Woods Eisenberg, "The Limits of
Democracy: US Policy and the Rights of German Labor, 1945–1949," in
Michael Ermarth, ed., America and the Shaping of German Society, 1945–1955
(Providence, RI and Oxford 1993), 63–4; Billstein et al., 96–97; and
Werner Link, Deutsche und amerikanische Gewerkschaften und Geschäftsleute
1945–1975: Eine Studie über transnationale Beziehungen (Düsseldorf 1978),
100–06, and 88.

63 Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign
Policy, 1943–1945 (New York 1968), 331, and 348–9; Wilfried Loth, Stalins
ungeliebtes Kind: Warum Moskau die DDR nicht wollte (Berlin 1994), 18;
Wolfgang Krieger, "Die American Deutschlandplanung, Hypotheken und Chancen
für einen Neuanfang," in Hans-Erich Volkmann, ed., Ende des Dritten
Reiches — Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs: Eine perspektivische Rückschau
(Munich and Zürich 1995), 36, and 40–1; and Lloyd C. Gardner, Architects
of Illusion: Men and Ideas in American Foreign Policy 1941–1949 (Chicago
1970), 250–1.

64 Kolko, The Politics of War, 507–11; Rolf Steininger, Deutsche
Geschichte 1945–1961: Darstellung und Dokumente in zwei Bänden. Band 1
(Frankfurt am Main 1983), 117–8; Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of
Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945–1954 (New York
1972), 125–6; Reinhard Kühnl, Formen bürgerlicher Herrschaft: Liberalismus
— Faschismus (Reinbek bei Hamburg 1971), 71; Reinhard Kühnl, ed.,
Geschichte und Ideologie: Kritische Analyse bundesdeutscher
Geschichtsbücher, second edition (Reinbek bei Hamburg 1973), 138–9; Peter
Altmann, ed., Hauptsache Frieden. Kriegsende-Befreiung-Neubeginn 1945–
1949: Vom antifaschistischen Konsens zum Grundgesetz (Frankfurt-am-Main,
1985), 58 ff.; and Gerhard Stuby, "Die Verhinderung der
antifascistisch-demokratischen Umwälzung und die Restauration in der BRD
von 1945–1961," in Reinhard Kühnl, ed., Der bürgerliche Staat der
Gegenwart: Formen bürgerlicher Herrschaft II (Reinbek bei Hamburg 1972),

65 Silverstein, "Ford and the Führer," 15–6; and Lindner, Das
Reichskommissariat, 121.


Gangsters for Capitalism by Clinton L. Cox

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
Butler, 1933.

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
“business” transactions.

 “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
this country.

“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
to pieces."

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 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 soldiers.

"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
and handcuffed.)
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
Lincoln's cabinet.

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
its oil.

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
Iraq's oil.

 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
political decision-making.

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}

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