WHAT EXACTLY IS AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY?
(And why it has created so much hatred of the U.S. in the world)
From the book “Rogue States” by Noam Chomsky
As the most powerful state, the U.S. makes it’s own laws, using force and conducting economic warfare at will. It also threatens sanctions against countries that do not abide by it’s conveniently flexible notions of “ free trade” Washington has employed such threats with great effectiveness to force open Asian markets for U.S. tobacco exports and advertising, aimed primarily at the growing markets of women and children. The U.S. Agriculture Department has provided grants to tobacco firms to promote smoking overseas. Asian countries have attempted to conduct educational anti-smoking campaigns, but they are overwhelmed by the miracles of the market, reinforced by U.S. state power through the sanctions threat. Philip Morris, with an advertising budget of $9 billion in 1992, became China’s largest advertiser. The effect of Reaganite sanction threats was to increase advertising and promotion of cigarette smoking (particularly U.S. brands) quite sharply in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, along with the use of these lethal substances.
The United States had become the world’s major industrial economy by the turn of the century, and it’s leading creditor by World War I, a position maintained until the Reaganites took command, quickly converting the U.S. into the world’s leading debtor. During World War II, quasi- totalitarian measures at last overcame the effects of the Great Depression, more than tripling U.S. industrial production and teaching valuable lessons to the corporate managers who ran the wartime economy. There has been no serious challenge since to their conclusion that private wealth and power, which were nurtured by large-scale state intervention in the first place, can be sustained and enhanced only through the same means; only in rhetorical flourishes, or on the remote margins, is capitalism regarded as a viable system. With much of the world in ruins, the U.S. had attained a historically unparalleled peak of economic and military dominance. State and Corporate planners were well aware of their unprecedented power, and intent on using it to construct a global order to benefit the interests they serve.
The highest priority was to ensure that the industrial heartland, German - based Europe and Japan, would be firmly within the U.S. dominated world order, controlled by domestic financial - industrial sectors linked to U.S. state - corporate power. The first order of business, then, was to undermine the antifascist resistance with it’s popular base in the “ rascal multitude,” to weaken labor, and to restore traditional conservative rule, often including fascist collaborators. This task was undertaken on a global scale in the late 1940’s, with considerable violence when that proved necessary, notably in Greece and South Korea.
In this New World Order, North-South relations were reconstructed though not in any fundamental way. The U.S. sought a generally open world based on the principles of liberal internationalism, expecting to prevail in a competition that was “free and fair.” These considerations led to a measure of support for the rising anti-colonial forces. BUT WITHIN LIMITS. A 1948 CIA memorandum observed that a balance must be struck between “ supporting local nationalist aspirations and maintaining the colonial economic interests of countries to whom aid has been pledged in Western Europe” ( The implication here is that the U.S. has never been a benevolent supplier of humanitarian aid, but rather, it has been an “ investor” in it’s own interests)
Similarly, the imperial system that Japan had sought to construct had to be restored to it, under over-arching U.S. control. These considerations led to tactical decisions to favor traditional colonial preference systems for rival/ allies; temporarily, in the context of postwar reconstruction and reestablishment of trade patterns with the industrial powers on which the U.S. economy relied.
Given U.S. power, that goal was easily attained, irrespective of wartime agreements. In the Middle East and Latin America, the ideological system confers on the U.S. the right to pursue it’s “needs” and “wants” respectively. The plan, therefore, was to restrict foreign interference, apart from an occasional subordinate role assigned to client powers, notably Britain in the Middle East. Britain serves as “our lieutenant” (the fashionable word is partner),” as a senior Kennedy adviser put it; the British are to hear only the fashionable word.
(worth noting here is the fact that 50 years later, Britain was the only real U.S. ally in the war in Iraq)
The character of planning is well-illustrated by the case of Italy. Like Greece, its importance extended to the Middle East. “U.S. strategic interests” required control over “the line of communications to the Near East outlets of the Saudi-Arabian oil fields” through the Mediterranean, a September 1945 inter-agency review observed. These interests would be threatened if Italy were to fall into “the hands of any great power” - in translation: if it were to escape from the hands of the proper great power. Italy “could be used to guarantee, or, in the wrong hands, impair-oil supplies from the Near East”
It was expected that the Communist Party, with its strong labor support and the prestige conferred by its role in the struggle against Fascism and the Nazi occupiers, would win the 1948 elections. That result could have a “demoralizing effect throughout Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East” U.S. policymakers warned. It would be the “first instance in history of a communist accession to power by popular suffrage and legal procedure,” and “so unprecedented and portentous an event must produce a profound psychological effect in those countries threatened by the Soviets and striving to retain their freedom.” To translate again to English, it might influence popular movements that sought to pursue an independent and often radical democratic course, thus undermining the U.S. policy of restoring the traditional order dominated by conservative business and often pro-fascist sectors (“freedom”) In short, Italy might become a “virus infecting others.” The U.S. planned military intervention if the election could not be controlled by other means. A combination of force, threats, control over desperately needed food, and other measures succeeded in overcoming the threat of a free election. Substantial U.S. efforts to subvert Italian democracy continued at least to the mid-1970’s.
Apart from subversion, policymakers sought other ways “to stablize Italy,” Sallie Pisani writes in her study of the early days of the CIA. Subversion to acheive stability is standard procedure, quite intelligible to those who have mastered PC rhetoric; it is even possible to "destabilize a freely elected Marxist government in Chile because we were determined to seek stability” (James Chace) One idea for Italy was to thin the disruptive population by inducing emigration. Marshall Plan money was used to rebuild the Italian merchant marine to “ double the number of Italian emigrants who can be carried overseas each year,” the chief of the ECA(Marshall Plan) mission for Italy reported. It was also used to retrain workers, “thereby making them more acceptable to other countries,” he added. Europe had unemployment problems, and more “wops” was the last thing wanted in the U.S.
Congress therefore authorized funds for the “purpose of transporting emigrants to parts of the world other than the United States.” The ECA decided upon South America, with its “relatively less developed areas” It funded an emigration survey “to locate specific lands suitable for Italian settlement” in South America, and to help prepare the ground. The first recipient of such aid was Brazil, in 1950.
The project was considered highly sensitive, and concealed from Italians completely. “Propaganda to stabilize the remaining Italians was equally important,” Pisani writes, and a “sophisticated campaign” was conducted in Italy, as in France, another potential “virus.” A problem in France, the ECA mission noted, was that “ The French are allergic to propaganda. They often confuse what we call information with what they call propaganda.” Washington policymakers agreed that “overt American propaganda” would not be a good idea for Europeans, because of their experiences with the Nazis. The ECA therefore adopted the concept of “indirection,” defined as the ability to “get across the ECA and U.S. Government foreign policy point of view, without either the ECA or the U.S. Government being identified as the source of the material.” At home, where the population is better trained, “information” suffices.
In the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. had largely displaced its European rivals by World War II, and therefore rejected the principles of the new world order for “our little region over here which has never bothered anybody,” as Secretary of War Henry Stimson described the hemisphere when explaining why all regional systems must be dismantled apart from our own, which are to be extended. The U.S. insisted that hemispheric affairs be handled by regional organizations, which it is sure to dominate; very much the principle for which Saddam Hussein was roundly condemned in 1990, when he proposed that the problems of the Gulf be dealt with by the Arab League. But here too there are limits. If the Latin Americans “ attempt irresponsible use of their numerical strength in the O.A.S.,” John Dreier explains in his study of the organization, “if they carry to extremes the doctrine of non-intervention, if they leave the U.S. no alternative but to act unilaterally to protect itself, they will have destroyed not only the basis of hemispheric cooperation for progress but all hope of a secure future for themselves.” The guardians of world order must be ever alert for signs of irresponsibility.
The same had been true of Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” which carried an “implicit obligation of reciprocity,” State Department Latin America official Robert Woodward pointed out: “the admittance into an American Government of an alien ideology” would “compel the U.S. to take defensive measures,” unilaterally. Others, needless to say, have no such right, in particular, no right to defend themselves from the U.S. and its “ideology,” which are not “alien” : indeed, the U.S. has no ideology, apart from “pragmatism,” in the technical sense. The general point was clarified by Carter’s Latin America adviser Robert Pastor, at the critical extreme: The U.S. wants other nations “to act independently, except when doing so would affect U.S. interests adversely”; the U.S. has never wanted “to control them,” as long as developments do not “get out of control.” Others can be quite free, as long as they are “pragmatic.”
To assist “countries striving to retain their freedom,” the U.S. has been forced regularly to launch terrorist attacks against them or invade them outright, and to use its unparalleled capacities for economic warfare and subversion. The mission requires a cooperative class of intellectuals to shape “information” properly for the rascal multitude, rarely a problem.
After World War II, the importance of the traditional service role of the South was enhanced by “the realization that the food and fuel of Eastern Europe were no longer available to Western Europe at prewar levels.” Each region was assigned its status and “function” by the planners. The U.S. would take charge of Latin America and the Middle East, in the latter, with the help of its lieutenant. (Britain) Africa was to be “exploited” for the reconstruction of Europe, while Southeast Asia would “fulfill its major function as a source of raw materials for Japan and Western Europe” (George Kennan and his State Department Policy Planning Staff, 1948-1949) The U.S. too would purchase raw materials from the former colonies, thus reconstructing the triangular trade patterns whereby the industrial societies purchase U.S. manufacturing exports by earning dollars from raw materials exports by their traditional colonies. The “dollar gap” that impeded export of U.S. manufactures to Europe was considered an extremely serious problem by Dean Acheson and other top planners; overcoming it was taken to be a critical necessity for the U.S. economy, which, it was assumed, would otherwise sink back into deep depression or face state intervention of the kind that would interfere with corporate prerogatives rather than enhancing them. By this reasoning, sophisticated and extensively articulated, former colonies could be granted nominal self government, but often little more.
The framework of postwar global planning entailed that colonial relations must be reestablished in new forms and “ultranationalist” tendencies suppressed, particularly if they threaten “stability” elsewhere; the destiny of the South remains much as before. Both the industrial core and its subserviant periphery were to be guarded against association with the “ Sino-Soviet bloc” (or its components, when the bitter antagonism internal to the “bloc” could no longer be denied). The latter “bloc,” a huge segment of the former Third World that had departed from its traditional role, had to be “contained” or, if possible, restored to the service function by “rollback.” A significant factor in the Cold War was the imposition of Soviet rule over traditional service areas, separating them from the U.S. dominated state capitalist world, and the threat that Soviet power might contribute to the breakaway of other areas, even influencing popular sectors within the industrial core itself, a threat considered particularly severe in the early postwar period.
WHAT FOLLOWS ARE EXCERPTS FROM PARAGRAPHS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT THAT ILLUSTRATE QUITE CLEARLY THE BASIC MODUS OPERANDI OF THE U.S. IN ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING CONTROL AND THE BASIS OF THE COLD WAR WITH RUSSIA.
1973: “ A new form of neo-colonialism” emerges - monopolizing control over the world economy and undermining the more democratic elements of the United Nations.
1990: George Bush Sr. appropriated the phrase “New World Order” as a cover for his war in the Gulf. The “New World Order” is perveived, not unrealistically, as a bitter international class war, with the advanced state capitalist economies and their transnational corporations monopolizing the means of violence and controlling investment, capital, technology, and planning and management decisions, at the expense of the huge mass of the population. The U.S. and the U.K., which wield the whip, may well continue their decline toward societies with notable Third World characteristics, dramatically obvious in the inner cities and rural areas; it is likely that continental Europe will not lag far behind, despite the impediment of a labor movement that has not yet been entirely restored to its proper place.
The U.S. designed global system required that order must reign while allowing its lesser members to pursue their “regional interests” within the overall framework of order” managed by the U.S., the only power with “global interests and responsibilities,” Kissinger informed Europe in 1973. In the early postwar years, A European third force could not be tolerated. The formation of NATO was in large part motivated by the need “to integrate Western Europe and England into an orbit amenable to American leadership,” Leffler observes: Neither an integrated Europe nor a united Germany nor an independent Japan must be permitted to emerge as a third force or a neutral bloc.” Neutralism would be a “shortcut to suicide,” Secretary of State Dean Acheson stated. The same was true outside the core industrial societies. While recognizing that the Russians were not responsible for conflicts in the Third World, Acheson warned in 1952 that the Russians might exploit such conflicts
in an effort to “force the maximum number of non-Communist countries to pursue a neutral policy and to deny their resources to the principal Western powers” - that is, to deny them on the terms the West demanded. General Omar Bradley also warned of “the suicide of neutralism,” with Japan in mind.
Western planners “did not expect and were not worried about Soviet aggression,” Leffler writes, summarizing a well-established scholarly consensus: “The Truman administration supported the Atlantic alliance primarily because it was indispensable to the promotion of European stability through German integration.” This was the basic motivation for the North Atantic treaty signed in Washington in April 1949, which led to the establishment of NATO, and in response, the Warsaw Pact. Preparing for the April meeting, U.S. policymakers “became convinced that the Soviets might really be interested in striking a deal, unifying Germany, and ending the division of Europe.” This was regarded not as an opportunity, but as a threat to the “primary national security goal”: to harness Germany’s economic and military potential for the Atlantic community” - and to block “ the suicide of neutralism.”
“The real issue,” the CIA concluded in 1949, “is not the settlement of Germany,” which, it was believed - and feared - might be reached by an accord with the Kremlin. Rather, it is “the long term control of the German power.” This “great workshop” must be controlled by the U.S. and its clients, with no participation from the Soviet Union, despite the well understood security interests of the country that had just been virtually destroyed by Germany for the second time in 30 years, and had borne the brunt of the war against the Nazis; and in violation of the wartime agreements on the Soviet role in Germany, which the U.S. had already violated by March 1946, Leffler observes. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany might be a desirable goal, Acheson held, but “the withdrawal of American and British troops from Germany would be too high a price. U.S. troops would therefore remain in Germany even if the Soviets proposed a mutual withdrawal; Germany would be integrated as a subsidiary part of the U.S. dominated global economy; and the Russians would have no significant voice in the outcome, would not receive reparations, and would not influence German industrial or military development.
By 1960, Europe had substantially recovered, thanks in large measure to the policies of “international military Keynesianism” under taken by Washington from shortly before the Korean war - which served as a pretext on the assumption, too convenient to require evidence, that the Russians were setting forth on world conquest. As recovery proceeded, fears of European independence and nuetralist tendencies increased. Kennedy’s Ambassador to London, David Bruce, saw “dangers” if Europe “struck off on its own, seeking to play a role independent of the U.S.” ; like others, he wanted “partnership” - with the U.S. in a superior position,” Frank Costigliola comments. Kennedy’s “Grand Design” was an effort to manage allies, but with mixed results. France was a particular annoyance. Kennedy feared that President Charles de Gaulle might make a deal with the Russians that “would be acceptable to the Germans,” and was “extremely concerned” about intelligence reports suggesting a Franco-Russian deal to shut the U.S. out of Europe, close associates recalled. A still further irritant was de Gaulle’s position on Indochina. His advocacy of diplomacy and neutralization was completely unacceptable to the Kennedy administration, which was committed to military victory and, at the time, was struggling to undermine and deflect Vietnamese initiatives on all sides to settle that conflict without a major international war. In Indochina, as in Europe and throughout the Third World, neutralism was anathema to U.S. planners, “a shortcut to suicide.”
Mounting difficulties in controlling the allies led to Kissinger’s 1973 admonitions. The “major problem” in the Western alliance, he felt, was “the domestic evolution in many European countries,” which might lead to an independent course. The development of Eurocommunism aroused new concerns - which Kissinger shared with Brezhnev, who also was not pleased by the call for a “democratic path to socialism” that opposed “all foreign intervention.”
KISSINGER: “ We cannot encourage dialogue with communist parties within NATO nations, the impact of an Italian Communist Party that seemed to be governing effectively would be devastating on France and on NATO, too.” As a result the U.S. “gave a higher priority to....protecting the Western alliance and American influence in it” than to “weakening Soviet influence in the East.”
Again, we see the dual problem: the combination of democratic developments that escape corporate control, and decline of U.S. power. Neither is acceptable; jointly, they pose a grave danger to “security” and “stability.”
By the 1970’s, the problems were becoming unmanageable, and a sharply different course was initiated. They persist into the 1990’s. An illustration is the controversy over a secret February 1992 Pentagon draft of Defense Planning Guidance, leaked to the press, which describes itself as “definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense” for budgetary policy to the year 2000. The draft develops standard reasoning. The U.S. must hold “global power” and a monopoly of force. It will then “protect” the “new order” while allowing others to pursue “their legitamate interests,” as Washington defines them. The U.S. “must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order,” or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
There must be no independent European security system; rather, U.S. - dominated NATO must remain the “primary instrument of Western defense and security, as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs.”
“ We will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but also those of our allies or friends”; the United States alone will determine what are “wrongs” and when they are to be selectively “righted.”
As in the past, the Middle East is a particular concern. Here “our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil” while deterring aggression, maintaining strategic control and “regional stability” and protecting “U.S. nationals and property.”
“Western European and third world diplomats here were sharply critical of some of the language in the document,” Senior White House and State Department officials have harshly criticized it as well, claiming that it “in no way or shape represents U.S. policy.” The Pentagon spokesman “pointedly disavowed some of the central policy statements” of the document, noting, however, that “its basic thrust mirrors the public statements and testimony of Defense Secretary DICK CHENEY.” ( This fucker just keeps showing up) This constitutes a “tactical withdrawal” by the Pentagon, Tyler suggests, prompted by the “reaction in Congress and from senior Administration officials.” Quite possibly Administration criticisms also reflect concerns over the alarms that the document set off in many capitals, and their harsh criticism too is a tactical withdrawal. Cheney and Undersecretary for Policy Paul Wolfowitz “endorsed the prinicipal views” of the document, senior officials acknowledged. There was also criticism in the press, notably from TIMES Foreign policy specialist Leslie Gelb, who objected to the “daydreaming about being the world’s policeman” and one “disturbing omission” : “the document seems to be silent about any American role in insuring Israeli security.”
Meanwhile France and Germany moved to implement a Franco-German military corps independent of NATO, over intense U.S. opposition. France also blocked U.S. efforts to extend the NATO alliance to include Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. U.S. officials allege that “the French don’t want an American - led NATO to take on further responsibilities in Eastern Europe” and perpetuate the alliance, the WALL STREET JOURNAL reported.
The debates reflect a real foreign policy dilemma. With its economy in relative decline and its social base in serious disrepair, particularly after a decade of Reaganite borrow-and-spend abandon, is the U.S. in a position to maintain the hegemonic role it has played for half a century? And will others accept a subordinate role? Will they be willing to pay the costs, as the U.S. exploits its comparative advantage in military force to maintain the particular version of global order demanded by the domestic power interests, costs that the U.S. is no longer in a position to sustain itself?
It is not clear that the other rich countries will agree to employ the U.S. as their “Hessians,” as widely advocated in the business press during the build up to the Gulf war, perhaps along with its British lieutenant. The latter is also in social and economic decline but “well qualified, motivated, and likely to have a high military profile as the mercenary of the international community,” - again, a regular theme during the Gulf war, accompanied by much triumphant breast beating among British jingoists, dreaming of the good old days when they had “the right to bomb niggers” with no whining from the left-fascists.
To understand the discussion, it is necessary to decode the conventional euphemisms in which it is framed (“responsibility,” “security,” “defense,” etc.) The code words disguise a basic question:
Who is going to run the show?
The basic framework of policy formation tends to remain in place as long as the institutions of power and domination are stable, with the capacity to deflect challenges and accomodate or displace competing forces. That has been true of the United States in the postwar period, indeed long before. Nevertheless, policies have to be adapted to changing contingencies.
A change in world order of lasting importance was recognized officially in August 1971, when Richard Nixon announced his “New Economic Policy,” dismantling the international economic order established after World War II (the Bretton Woods system), in which the U.S. served, in effect, as international banker, with the dollar as the world’s sole international currency, convertible to gold at $35 an ounce. By that time, “the affluent alliance had come to the end of the road” and “the disorder was getting too serious for aspirins,” international economist Susan Strange observed. German led Europe and Japan had recovered from wartime destruction, and the U.S. was facing the unanticipated costs of the Vietnam war. The world economy was entering an era of “tripolarity” - and also, crucially, of stagnation and declining profitability of capital.
The predictable reaction was a rapid intensification of the class war that is waged with unceasing dedication by the corporate sector, its political agents, and ideological servants. The years that followed saw an attack on real wages, social services, and unions - indeed any kind of functioning democratic structure - so as to overcome the troublesome “ crisis of democracy” brought about by the illegitimate efforts of the public to bring their interests into the political arena. The ideological component of the offensive sought to strengthen authority and habits of obedience, to diminish social consciousness and such human frailties as concern for others, and to instruct young people that they are confirmed narcissists. Another objective has been to establish a de facto world government insulated from popular awareness or interference, devoted to the task of ensuring that the world’s human and material resources are freely available to the transnational corporations and international banks that are to control the global system.
The U.S. remains the largest single economy, though declining relative to its major rivals, which are not without their own problems. Those faced by the U.S. are also too serious for aspirins, though little more is available thanks to doctrinal and policy triumphs that have diminished the capacity for constructive social action directed to the needs of the irrelevant majority, one happy consequence of Reaganite debt creation.
Nixon’s response to the decline of the U.S. economic hegemony was forthright: “when you’re losing, change the rules of the game,” economist Richard Du Boff observes. Nixon suspended the convertibility of the dollar to gold, overturning the international monetary system, imposed temporary wage-price controls and a general import surcharge, and initiated fiscal measures that directed state power, beyond the previous norm, to welfare for the rich: reduction of federal taxes and domestic expenditures, apart from the required subsidies to the corporate sector. These have been the guiding policies since. They were accelerated during the Reagan years, largely following Carter Administration prescriptions that were reshaped by the more doctrinaire Reaganites to bring about a huge growth in debt at every level ( federal, state, local, household, corporate), with little to show in the way of productive investment. One crucial element is the incalculable debt of unmet social needs, a mounting burden imposed upon the large majority of the population and future generations.
The world at large seems to want out from under Uncle Sams thumb, who has his greedy little fingers in every pie on the planet. Uncle Sam exploits the American People just as much, if not more than the people of the world.
IN CONCLUSION: If you look at the thoroughness and long range thinking with which the architects of the American mission formulated their plan, (under the guise of humanitarian aid and the spread of democracy) it might be easier to understand why the U.S. is compared to the Nazis. The chief difference being ideological. The Nazis ideology of racial purity and overt rule of the world, the actual invasion of other countries, taking of property and genocide of anyone who didn’t fit into the Aryan picture, REPLACED by the far more functional U.S. ideology of monopolistic capitalism and the simple exploitation of other people and the worlds resources. Setting up an almost mafia style hierarchy. (Trickle down economics mixed with force whenever necessary in order to maintain dominance)
But, also, let me be perfectly clear here...just like Richard Nixon....The comparison to the Nazis has an absurd quality to it, because America is not in the business of Murdering Millions of People, because we simply don't like them....but, this is not to let the U.S. off the hook for all of it's bad behavior. Keep in mind that dominant people and dominant countries do things to further their own well being, sometimes at the expense of other people and countries.
The point is the U.S. and Europe have much in common, primarily because their is very little that is actually different if you take the long view of things and understand that imperialistic conquest began in Europe and is continued today by the U.S. If we were to look at the present moment however, we would need to accept the fact that the U.S. is now the main offender in a world where environmental concerns are beginning to eliminate the luxury of unlimited aquisition and abuse of the planet and it’s limited resources.