We can say that those who govern the U.S. govern the world, or at least close to that, since it is the largest economy and has the strongest army on Earth. For that reason, when there are presidential elections in this country, as there is going to be in November, many people are watching and wondering who will win and become the future world ruler.
By PSTU Argentina
In 1823, while in Latin America independence wars were coming to an end, and in Europe monarchical restoration was triggered by the French Revolution, U.S. President James Monroe proposed an external policy declaring his country would act to avoid any intervention from non-American countries. It can be summarized by the expression “America for Americans”.
In that time’s context, this sentence – that later would be known as Monroe doctrine – could be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the independence of new countries, who were facing the threat of monarchy restoration, along with European colonialist ambitions. Undoubtedly, it led to the expansion of U.S. Imperialism, and gradually Latin American countries became its “backyard”.
Mexico is clearly an example of what this doctrine really meant: between 1845 and 1848, it lost 50% of its territory due to a direct U.S. intervention through expansion of the “gringos” (foreigners). However, when faced with both French interventions in this country – one from 1838 to 1839 and the other from 1862 to 1867 – the U.S. simply did not act.
In the beginning of the 20th Century, the U.S. reached its greatest territorial extension and reduced Cuba to its semi-colony. President Theodore Roosevelt started an external policy known as “Big Stick” to reaffirm the power he already had over Central America and the Caribbean.
The U.S. claimed the “right” to intervene in other countries to defend American citizens’ interests. If a country resisted against imperialism, there was a chance to press it with an invasion to make it reconsider. In Roosevelt’s words, “(…) the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power”. In other words, “America for Americans”.
However, as it is better to bribe than to pay the salary of fighting soldiers, the U.S. changed its foreign policy for a more efficient one: the dollar diplomacy. It consisted of an economic policy of pressure and cooptation, to expand its sphere of influence. In case it did not work, armed intervention was always an option.
In broad strokes, this foreign policy was kept until the end of the 60’s, even if with variations according to the world context. With the bipolar division of the world, and fearing the progress of Communism, especially after the Cuban Revolution, the U.S. tried to co-opt many governments with financial aid and a series of democratization reforms, to avoid a rise of social conflicts and the possibility of new revolutions (the famous Alliance for Progress).
However, in response to the outbreak of Santo Domingo in 1965, the U.S. decided to invade the island. The growing workers rise in the 70’s faced an increasingly repressive policy, which led to the implementation of “Operation Condor” to avoid the rise of new revolutions.
From the 80’s on, U.S. foreign policy in our continent was “Democratic Reaction”, i.e., giving democratic concessions in order to clean the blood off their hands after the repression of the 70’s. The goal of these concessions was to co-opt leaderships into peace pacts and encourage electoral way-outs against dictatorships, presenting “democracy” as a universal solution to all problems. All of that deepened “Neoliberal Plans”, that had already started being implemented by dictatorships, allowing the sale, surrender and plunder of our economies.
In the XXI Century, Latin America was again rising with many revolutions that confronted imperialism. They were a response to the attempts of deepening the economic policy carried out through a new Free Trade Agreement – the FTAA. The 9/11 World Trade Center attacks in 2001 (which, we know for sure now, were ‘allowed’ by the State Department, that was aware and did nothing to prevent them) were used as an excuse to start the U.S. “Preventive War” policy, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The military defeat in Iraq and the revolutionary processes in Latin America and the Middle East forced them to a policy change. It led them to try “cleaner” domination policies – “the soft power”. And so Obama appeared on the scene: son of a Nigerian immigrant, with his agreement and negotiation policies, and “concern” with the oppressed. The same who came to Argentina to talk about reconciliation and visit the grave of “the missing”!
As a world revolutionary situation continues, so does that policy. In the coming elections it is framed as “a woman for the white house”, i.e., another President who comes from an oppressed sector: women.
However, we can see how the American army has a real presence in different countries and works together with local repressive apparatuses. This fact shows that when people follow imperialist orders – even if they mean hunger and death for us – the master acts softly; but when people rebel, he has everything at hand to repress. Even changing Presidents and speeches, the U.S. have kept the same policy for over a century. Understanding that is strategic for Latin America, because being “so close to the U.S. and so far from God”, as a singer used to say referring to Mexico, means we are facing a vampire that sucks our blood.
Most people believe that depending on who wins the upcoming elections there will be either a good, permissive administration that only intervenes a little in other countries, or the complete opposite. In other words, there could be a good master or a bad master. The first is usually associated with the Democratic Party and the second with the Republican Party. But this country’s history shows the contrary, specially considering its latest Presidents: a Republican one, George W. Bush, and a Democratic one, Barack Obama. Both administrations have blood from Iraq and Afghanistan in their hands, among others.
Ultimately, there is an ongoing policy that can be expressed in different ways, sometimes softer, sometimes harder, but ultimately the same: colonial expansion of U.S. Imperialism.
Translation: Mariana Soléo.