Saturday, October 26, 2013

US Foreign Policy: ‘Endless Enemies’ Inflict US Foreign Policy

By Julio Godoy | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - During the early 1980s, distinguished U.S. international affairs journalist Jonathan Kwitny started a journey throughout the world, to analyse his country’s foreign policy since the late 1940s. Kwitny, who had reported among other media for the Wall Street Journal, came to a disparaging conclusion: The U.S., which had emerged as the champion of the “free” world for its decisive intervention against Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan, and as such stood against the Soviet Union, did not care for democracy and human rights, but only for what its governments considered as “national interests”.

Misguided by the principle that nations do not have moral but only so-called national interests, U.S. governments, Democrats and Republicans alike, tutored and trained torturers all over the world, from Iran to Greece, from Zaire to Nicaragua, as long as these criminals were perceived as useful to the U.S. “national interests”.

Where did the Latin American military psychopaths who killed hundreds of thousands in their countries learn to torture? At the infamous U.S. Army School of the Americas [now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)], which had the specific goal of teaching "anti-communist counterinsurgency training" to Latin American military officers and policemen. The school’s curriculum explicitly included the teaching of torture techniques. No wonder that its absolvents would brutalise pregnant women, and throw the bodies of their victims to sharks, as the Argentinian and Guatemalan military did during the 1960s and 1970s.

Was the decade-long Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo a “son of a bitch”? Yes, no doubt. But as U.S. president Franklyn D. Roosevelt has been repeatedly quoted as saying, Trujillo was “our son of a bitch”. Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961.

Kwitny presented his findings in a book, which he aptly titled Endless enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World: The U.S. foreign policy had indeed helped numerous thugs – from the Somoza family in Nicaragua to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran – to gain or remain in power, at the price of alienating millions of people around the world. Those millions had every reason to see the U.S. government as their enemy.

More than 30 years have gone past since Kwitny’s book made the rounds in Washington, but nothing has apparently changed in his assertion that the U.S. could not care less making endless enemies. The U.S. foreign policy principles remain the same: It finances corrupt, inept, even criminal regimes, such as those in Pakistan and Egypt, which could not exist as states were not for the money lifeline from Washington.

Egypt alone has received some two billion U.S. dollars per year since 1979 – that is, during the period Hosni Mubarak misruled the country under military law. Similarly, the U.S. provided some 67 billion dollars between 1951 and 2011 to Pakistan, despite the evidence that the Central Asian country’s governments support terrorist groups, especially against yet another U.S. ally, India. The U.S. aid to Israel is as steady, regardless of whether Israel respects or not international law or its own commitments toward Palestine.

Unfriendly acts

By the same token, the U.S. government showed no scruples in supporting military putsches against democratic elected regimes, as it did in Honduras in 2009 – Nobel Prize winner Barack Obama was already serving as president, and the much praised Hillary Clinton was his foreign minister. The closest U.S. ally in Latin America throughout the 2000s was Alvaro Uribe, of Colombia, a ruthless politician with links to death squads and drug dealers. It goes without saying that many Palestinians, Hondurans, or Colombians see U.S. intromissions as unfriendly acts.

Under the cover up of the “war against terrorism”, the U.S. even cooperated with such regimes as Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, to capture and torture alleged Muslim terrorists. In all these cases, the U.S. never lived up to its own words, of defending democracy and freedom and justice above all matters. Surely it is not an exaggeration to say that Obama’s government would continue to support dictatorships in Latin America if there were any left.

But, as if that were not enough, the present U.S. government obviously sees even its closest allies as enemies. As the National Security Agency (NSA) documents which Edward Snowden continues to disclose show, the U.S. secret services have been spying on … everybody, including the heads of governments of countries so close to Washington as Germany, Spain, and Mexico. By so doing, the U.S. government has systematically abused the confidence and support these countries provided during the past decade, after the attacks of Sept 2001, and violated the most elementary rights of citizens around the world.

Beyond this breach of trust, what most impresses is the impudence and arrogance with which the U.S. services celebrate their successes in spying befriended governments. In the case of Mexico, the NSA hacked former Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s public email account, and also of incumbent head of state Enrique Pena Nieto, who succeeded Calderon in December, and even state computer systems.

According to the documents revealed by Snowden, the NSA celebrated these acts by saying that the “targeted domain … contained diplomatic, economic and leadership communication … provide(ing) insight into Mexico’s political system.” It added that this access “into several Mexican agencies are just the beginning – we intend to go much farther against this important target.” Nearly 80 percent of Mexican exported goods go to the U.S.

The U.S. government has tried to justify this spying of its allies as a security measure to prevent international terrorism, but it is obvious that this justification is a lie. Bugging Angela Merkel’s cellular will never prevent a terrorist attack by, say, a Saudi Arabia (or Qatar, for that matter) supported radical Muslim.

To say the evident: Hacking the computer system of one of the U.S. most important commercial partners can only serve the U.S. commercial interests. Bugging the cellular phones of the heads of governments of allied nations can only serve to unspeakable political purposes. Obviously, misguided by the late Middle Age principle “Much foe, much honour”, the U.S. government does not care that, by so doing, it continues to alienate its friends and, as Jonathan Kwitny concluded 30 years ago, multiply its already endless enemies.

*Julio Godoy is an investigative journalist and IDN Associate Global Editor. [IDN-InDepthNews – October 25, 2013]

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2013 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Picture: Attack thru burning tank in Syrian town of Al Mumidiyah | Credit: Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)