Empire Files with Abby Martin on Telesur English
Throughout it’s history, America’s leaders have echoed the mantra that it is the beacon of freedom and equality, that its actions abroad are based on democracy and morality, and that it’s the greatest country on Earth. America’s actions, we’ve been told, have been for the greater good, that it’s citizens are in this together, united under the banner of one nation under God. But history tells a different story.
When we think of empire, we think of ruthless civilizations like Rome where an emperor class reigns supreme over the masses, brazenly conquering and enslaving their neighbors. But these feudal remnants linger still today and despite the trappings the core system of empire remains.
As colonialism advanced, empires swallowed up the last indigenous lands. Most egregiously at the Berlin conference in 1884, European superpowers sat down at a negotiating table and divided up Africa for themselves, eviscerating the last bastion of autonomy on the continent.
But as empires expanded their appetite grew bigger than the planet. The feeding frenzy came to a head in 1914 when the rulers of competing empires led 17 million people like cattle to the slaughter. In the midst of the global massacre, empires continued to re-draw the world for themselves. Under the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, the U.K. and France drew their own borders in the Middle East, deciding the fate of millions and showing how arbitrary borders really are.
Their unquenchable thirst for power and profit led the empires to clash again barely 20 years later with unspeakable horrors claiming the lives of 16 million human beings, culminating with the most catastrophic weapon the world has ever seen. The use of the atomic bomb against the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a defining act of terror that cemented America’s standing as military supreme.
And from then on, it cast its shadow as the new reigning Empire. The centers of the world’s powers were left decimated, except one, and the victor built a new order under its hegemony. A club of Empires formed in its aftermath united against a common enemy, self-determination.
In 1949, the US, Canada and ten European states formed NATO insisting it was a defensive alliance. Yet NATO has carried out a strategy of containment through countless wars of aggression.
“For Saddam Hussein possession of the world’s most deadly weapons is the ultimate trump card, the one he must hold to fulfill his ambition” –Colin Powell as Secretary of State
Organizations like the UN give the facade of civilized diplomacy and legality, but time and again it’s shown that military might trumps morality. The U.S. routinely breaks international laws and treaties with no repercussions from the international body. And when it needs UN backing for illegal wars, well it just bullies its members for endorsement.
Intervention after intervention, this growing Empire has subverted the democratic processes of dozens of countries, undermined people the world over and installed countless dictators loyal to its will. War after war, it has swallowed up or attempted to destroy any land that is not capitulated to its demands. Even within their own borders, in cases where its own people dissented, the Empire deployed the military against them.
Incidentally, every intervention seems to follow a similar trend. In Latin America alone the US military has intervened 56 times to determine the destiny of other nations. But let’s just look at three examples:
In 1944, revolution in Guatemala overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Jorge Ubico and elected Juan José Arévalo in the first free elections. But his progressive reforms offended the United Fruit Company and other corporation’s rule of the island. So after bombing Guatemala City, President Truman authorized the overthrow Arevalo’s democratically elected successor, Jacobo Árbenz in 1952. The brutal display marked the beginning of a 36-year civil war ruled by U.S.- backed dictators and death squads where 200,000 Guatemalans were killed.
In the Dominican Republic, the people democratically elected Juan Bosch to power in 1962 after being ruled by a U.S.-trained dictator for 31 years, whose reign is considered one of the bloodiest in all of the Americas. Just one year later, Bosch was overthrown by a U.S.-supported fascist military coup. But growing resistance led President Johnson to deploy more than 22,000 troops to the D.R. in 1965, killing three-thousand people and enabling the military occupation to continue for decades.
Then there’s Chile, where the U.S. spent six million dollars to undermine leftist leader Salvador Allende before he was even elected in 1970. A mass movement of people backing Allende’s progressive reforms terrified the establishment. So a bloody CIA coup ensued followed by a 17- year military dictatorship by the notoriously heinous Pinochet, who carried out a reign of terror, torturing 28,000, executing 2,279 and leaving countless disappeared.
The U.S. rarely leaves any country it intervenes in. Now there’s an estimated 800 military bases around the world spanning 63 countries, officially. An absurd 179 exist in Germany alone. Yet the number is over 70 when you count anywhere with a sizable troop presence or combat operations. And, broadening the definition to any U.S. troop presence encompasses virtually every country on Earth.