Whose Side Are We On?

How The U. S. Lost World War Two

The current crisis in Egypt represents a profound dilemma for the United States, as Brookings Fellow, Shadi Hamid, notes in The Atlantic. For thirty years, the U.S. has been the largest supporter of the Mubarak dictatorship. The United States has struck that same devil’s bargain repeatedly all over the world, supporting regimes which abuse the human rights of their own citizens, but which offer regional “stability.” We pay governments to support American political and economic interests over and against the popular will of their own people.

We supported Saddam Hussein for many years, until he crossed us. We support the murderous Colombian government because they protect Chiquita Brands and Coca Cola and Occidental Petroleum. Many such private U.S. corporations are themselves human rights abusers outside their home country, with no fear of reprisal from governments, domestic or foreign. We bribe repressive Middle Eastern regimes like Egypt to make nice with Israel and repress their own dissidents. And, of course, we support the oppressive Israeli regime itself, which seems to be taking its revenge for the Holocaust of World War Two by re-inflicting it on the Palestinians.

The U.S. styles itself a beacon of liberty but has turned its back on the democratic aspirations of human beings in every region of this planet. We want to keep the world safe, not for democracy, but for U.S. corporate profit. Most Americans, and American mass media, are in denial about our muscular foreign policy, though it has remained consistent at least since the U.S.-Mexican War of the 1840s. Two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner, General Smedley Butler, laid out U.S. corporate-military strategy succinctly in his classic: War is a Racket.

Mr. Hamid’s article asks: “Could the U.S. find itself on the wrong side of history?” With all due respect, the U.S. has been proudly marching up and down the wrong side of history since World War Two. The U.S. military triumph in that conflict proved a Pyrrhic victory. The United States became a world power and adopted a paranoid, proprietary approach to the planet, a tragedy that continues to haunt us. We developed Frankenstein security agencies and mega-weapons: the CIA, the NSA, the atom bomb, the hydrogen bomb and on and on.

Our official paranoia conjured The Communist Menace as a monolithic bogeyman to justify our own interventions on behalf of capitalism worldwide. Tim Weiner’s account of the CIA’s creation and operation in its earliest decades – Legacy of Ashes – details how the early failures of the agency begot ever larger catastrophes as their secret budgets mushroomed. We began to overthrow democratically elected leaders (starting in Iran and Guatemala) and replace them with authoritarian rulers amenable to bribery, all in the name of national security and regional stability. But the world was neither more stable nor more secure.

We lost the Cold War too because the process of waging it demanded a cynicism that undermined our American ideals more effectively than any Soviet propaganda ever could. The simplistic Manichean sensibility we developed in the Cold War era – of East vs. West, Us vs. Them – continued after the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its own mismanagement. It continues today.

Remember the Peace Dividend? That was supposed to be the glorious redirection of our military expenditures to domestic and humanitarian projects after the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came down. We could at last beat our swords into plowshares and rebuild our schools and roads and medical system. Surprise! There was no dividend because peace was a non-starter. The U.S. government could not imagine how to function in a world without enemies.

We still propped up useful despots. George H.W. Bush told Ferdinand Marcos, the Filipino dictator who imposed martial law and jailed or killed his political opponents: “We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process…” When Bush the younger declared that the 9/11 suicide pilots “hate us for our freedoms,” perhaps it was the Marcos-Mubarak brand of freedom he inadvertently meant. We supplied weapons to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, but like all good things, it came to an end.

The United States needed a post-Cold War demonic other to justify metastasizing Pentagon budgets and military-industrial bloat. U.S. policy makers declared a war on drugs, but it proved a disappointing stop gap. Drugs were everywhere and nowhere. The more tons of drugs the U.S. interdicted and the more smugglers they busted, the more drugs and smugglers arose to take their place. Every victory showcased more defeat.

The War on Terror – featuring Radical Islam, Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden and a shadowy cast of millions – proved a godsend for the megadeath war machine the U.S. government has become, justifying Strangelovian expenditures on armaments and foreign bases, along with multiple invasions of “strategic” countries. But the U.S. tendency to support repressive regimes only works if those regimes play ball. We can’t invade them all. Can we?

Popular Democracy – once the acknowledged U.S. brand – now seems to threaten the American political establishment, at home and abroad. Right-wing demagogues and the corporate political stooges in Congress and the Supreme Court have thus far kept the locals in line by mis-directing popular anger, invoking Jesus and stoking nativist fears of foreigners and infidels, including the president. But Obama wants to show Wall Street he’s a pussycat, not a tiger: Let’s play. I won’t hurt you! The Mad Hatter runs the Tea Party but it doesn’t matter that it makes no sense, only that the party continues, with Glen Beck as the White Rabbit (o my o my) and Rupert Murdoch as March Hare. One lump or two?

Obama’s Chicago pastor, the Reverand Jeremiah Wright, drew self-righteous media scorn in 2008 when he described the September 11 attacks as payback for U.S. terrorism and said “American’s chickens are coming home to roost.” He was merely stating the obvious, but America failed to learn from that event or to do any soul-searching. The Bush-Cheney junta simply used those attacks to justify more waves of violence which have never ended.

American’s chickens will continue coming home to roost, in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and Latin America. Popular uprisings are not an Islamic plot against The Free World – wherever that may be now – but simply a logical consequence of denying people their basic human rights and hoping they’ll be too intimidated to object. But it is only the majority of Americans who appear intimidated.

We the people have outsourced our own justifiable political outrage and our capacity to protest wrongs. Do we figure others – in say, Egypt and Tunisia – can do it more cheaply that we can? Maybe this time the revolution will be televised and we can just sit back, relax with our favorite beverage and watch. No one does passivity better than we do. Ask any dittohead. And anyone who tells you any different is a liar or a foreigner or probably both.

So, uh, who we cheering for again? And… who’s cheering for us?

James McEnteer is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Documentaries (Praeger 2006). He lives in Quito, Ecuador. Read other articles by James.

25 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ismail Zayid said on February 1st, 2011 at 10:11am #

    The answer to this question,: “Whose side are we [the US] on?”, is very simple. The US governments have been consistently on the side of dictatorial regimes that put American and Israeli interests ahead of the interest of their own people. Mubarak is a clear example of that. His dedication to be Israel’s friend has been consistent for the last three years. There can be no better example of that than his shameful role in coordinating with Israel the blockade against Gaza, denying the 1.5 million Palestinians in that large open prison, the basic human needs of food and health care.

    The honorable role of the Egyptian people, in their current struggle to remove this evil regime, must be applauded.

  2. halifax said on February 1st, 2011 at 11:49am #

    A clear, cogent, and succinct summary of the true history of American foreign and domestic policy in action. I’m handing out copies of this to my kids, their friends, neighbours and coworkers. What do we do now, indeed. Certainly, as stated above, we applaud the honourable struggle of the Egyptian people to remove the Mubarek regime. And we keep telling the truth.

  3. bozh said on February 1st, 2011 at 12:30pm #

    “Whose Side Are We On?”
    “How The U. S. Lost World War Two.”

    i am on side of antipodal structure of governance and society to the one that existed until very recently in every land i know of.

    i don’t want to contemplate whether u.s. won ww2 or whether it is gonna win the new wars it is waging now.

    obviously, nobody can ever know what the statement means: u.s. lost ww2,; thus, there is not one answer to this statement.
    in fact, such contemplating wld lead to trns of conclusions and never-ending arguments, bitterness, hatred, deceptions, etc.

    we can find out why u.s. wages wars. and in order to end all wars– and not just that of u.s. — that’s all that wld matter.

    however, i conclude firmly, masters of people, warfare, helthcare wld not selves ever admit that there r cause for their mastery over us. tnx

    but i wonder why the ‘Left” follows our masters in regards to their mastery over us? tnx

  4. Don Hawkins said on February 1st, 2011 at 1:48pm #

    Probably a good idea to elect leaders if we must who live on Earth not the planet Zenon and or Oz. An enormous effort if we wish to survive will take the best minds we have not balloon heads. A good idea would be to know a few things like;

    The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the tendency that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential equilibrate in an isolated physical system. From the state of thermodynamic equilibrium, the law deduced the principle of the increase of entropy and explains the phenomenon of irreversibility in nature. The second law declares the impossibility of machines that generate usable energy from the abundant internal energy of nature by processes called perpetual motion of the second kind. Wiki

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    Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. Cree Indian Prophesy

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  5. Don Hawkins said on February 1st, 2011 at 2:14pm #

    [Update 2:30 p.m. ET] A large tent that was scheduled to shelter partiers Friday and Saturday at Super Bowl XLV has collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, CNN affiliates are reporting.

    [Update 12:25 p.m. ET] A partial roof collapse at Hard Rock Casino has occurred near Tulsa, Oklahoma. No injuries have been reported.

    [Update 11:55 a.m. ET] Chicago is expected to get two feet of snow in the next 24 hours, according to the Chicago Tribune – that’s more dire than what was reported earlier Tuesday. The National Weather Service is describing the storm as “potentially life-threatening” for people who venture outdoors. Winds in and near the city could gust up to 60 mph, the NWS says. Power outages are likely. Hundreds of flights at O’Hare airport have been reportedly canceled. The Chicago Weather Center is tracking. CNN

    The National Weather Service has issued a “Lakeshore Flood Warning”, stating that “strong winds will likely result in waves building to 14 to 18 feet,” which could cause flooding on Chicago’s streets. One of the city’s main downtown arteries, Lake Shore Drive, runs – you guessed it – right along the lakeshore and could face a washout of water and ice.

    That’s Earth not the planet Zenon and or Oz.

    {http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/goescolor/goeswest/overview2/color_lrg/latestfull.jpg}

  6. Don Hawkins said on February 1st, 2011 at 2:47pm #

    {http://www.bom.gov.au/gms/IDE00035.latest.shtml}

    That’s the best minds we have with soul you gotta have soul and how is the ice in the Arctic that is causing a few minor changes to weather pattern’s not well.

    {http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png}

    How’s the healthcare debate going in the greatest nation on Zenon did are so called leaders have an Epiphany moment?

  7. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 2:27am #

    A terrifying cyclone roaring towards Australia strengthened on Wednesday to the most dangerous threat level, as forecasters warned it could be the most life-threatening storm in generations.
    “Frankly I don’t think Australia has ever seen a storm of this intensity in an area as populated as this stretch of our coast,” she told reporters. freaky weather

    In the States look’s like ice falling from the sky and I see now there using in generations instead of 100 year storms.

    For the generations to come please read this;

    You’ve come to the right place for only after the last tree has been cut down gifts. Whether you’re looking for only after the last tree has been cut down t-shirts, bumper stickers or posters, a large collection of unique gifts to choose from. And for you last minute gift shoppers, we ship most orders within 24 hours. We back all products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can shop with confidence. If you are looking for items you can customize, be sure to check out our personalized gifts selection.

    Call call now 100% satisfaction guarantee and listen to your balloon head’s in the land of Oz.

  8. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 3:01am #

    Where’s a great place to see and hear balloon head’s in the greatest nation on Zenon and or Oz well turn on your television. C-span bingo balloon head’s well dressed of course and come in a few shapes and sizes men, women, old some a little younger and there dry cleaning bill is probably more than most Countries. When they talk you will here thing’s like the American people have spoken or drill baby drill oh here’s a big one it’s the economy stupid the debt what about future generations. Another great place to see and hear balloon head’s is the financial channel’s as the stock market is on a roll there all in seventh heaven at the moment it’s party time heck fly that beer in from the Caribbean cigar anyone. Yes with the great wisdom and knowledge of the balloon heads we will all be back to normal before you can say we back all products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can shop with confidence. The third planet from the Sun and just on the off chance there is intelligent life from far far away watching us somebody is getting a good laugh. Go shopping buy gold call call now 100% looney tunes. We could use knowledge and reason but there must be a force unknown to us that will not let us do that what could it be, what could it be?

  9. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 3:32am #

    Hay I thought about it for a minute or two and maybe it’s the balloon heads who while pursuing their institutional role: maximizing short-term profit and putting aside externalities might be why. What do you think and can we tax carbon return the tax back to the people not the balloon head’s? We can’t why oh that’s right the whole short term profit part. I guess to make a real try that would only be a start you know if we didn’t put aside externalities. These externalities what the heck are they anyway?

    Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton said the Arctic was changing faster than previous models had suggested.

    Over the last four years the surface area of Arctic ice had shrunk to levels predicted for 2070.

    He said the changes in conditions in the Arctic were ‘not just about polar bears and their habitats, it’s about the habitats in Britain and worldwide’. Daily mail

    Humm over the last four years the surface area of Arctic ice had shrunk to levels predicted for 2070 well like Yoda would say;

    Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.

    Always in motion is the future an enormous effort it will take may the force be with you there are no sides.

  10. Deadbeat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 4:22am #

    Obama’s Chicago pastor, the Reverand Jeremiah Wright, drew self-righteous media scorn in 2008 when he described the September 11 attacks as payback for U.S. terrorism and said “American’s chickens are coming home to roost.” He was merely stating the obvious, but America failed to learn from that event or to do any soul-searching. The Bush-Cheney junta simply used those attacks to justify more waves of violence which have never ended.

    What a shame that Zionism is such a TABOO topic on the Left. Speaking of Jeremiah Wright what finally got Obama to shove him under the bus was his support of Louis Farrakhan. Wright, at the press conference the day before Obama jettisoned him, made clear that he stood alongside Farrakhan as standing AGAINST Zionism. Zionism is the main reason why America won’t be doing any “soul” searching any time soon.

  11. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 4:42am #

    I can only pray that Fox New’s and people like Beck, Palin and all our leaders keep telling us the truth on how the World work’s. Granted a few people considered by some to be the best mind’s we have say other thing’s but they must be wrong as we never see or hear them maybe the History Channel once or twice but the fair and balanced people say they are nut’s very strange ideas indeed. I think I understand now the Earth is really only 8,000 years old and the Sun set’s in the East, right.

  12. Don Hawkins said on February 2nd, 2011 at 5:54am #

    A few minutes ago Phil didn’t see his shadow so and early spring, oh dear because for the new people on DV that’s called Earth the third planet from the Sun and the next few week’s or month’s will not be boring. Please note top left or is that right I get those mixed up sometimes since I started watching American media. Just on the off chance we do get an early spring with all this snow I hope some have rubber boot’s just might need them and or wader’s. Oh I just watched Fox New’s and this winter so far has nothing to do with climate change the greenhouse effect no no no it’s all just a normal cycle on the Earth that has now been here for at least 8,000 years and I think we walked with the Dinosaurs. Oh there throwing rock’s in Egypt as the tyrant put some of his people on the street. These tyrant’s do have there way’s.

    {http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/goescolor/goeswest/overview2/color_lrg/latestfull.jpg}

  13. mary said on February 2nd, 2011 at 6:01am #

    I for one am not at all interested in what somebody from the Brookings Institutution has to say about Egypt.

    He comes from an outfit controlled by this bunch of gangters-in-charge whose interest in Egypt will be solely about the control of their financial interests in the region, especially Israel.

    {http://www.brookings.edu/about/Trustees.aspx}

  14. Hue Longer said on February 2nd, 2011 at 6:13am #

    DB,

    “chickens coming home to roost” may upset your sense of cause and effect, but even if that’s not why 9-11 occurred (I have my doubts), suggesting it is is not allowed. Wright could have condemned Farrakhan for being an evil anti-Semite and he was still going to (and already did) get a severe tongue lashing–Ward Churchill dealt with more severe problems than that

  15. jayn0t said on February 2nd, 2011 at 7:53am #

    James McEnteer says “We pay governments to support American political and economic interests over and against the popular will of their own people”. Not necessarily. Eisenhower backed Egypt. Jimmy Carter opposed apartheid. Currently the US pays Israel and bribes the Egyptian government to leave Israel alone: this is not a case of supporting American interests! The old leftist clichés sometimes hide more than they reveal.

  16. Deadbeat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:11pm #

    Hue Longer writes …

    “chickens coming home to roost” may upset your sense of cause and effect, but even if that’s not why 9-11 occurred (I have my doubts), suggesting it is is not allowed. Wright could have condemned Farrakhan for being an evil anti-Semite and he was still going to (and already did) get a severe tongue lashing–Ward Churchill dealt with more severe problems than that

    As usual Hue your assumptions, assertions, and arguments are incorrect. The narrative that you defend actually doesn’t “upset [my] sense of cause and effect” because it is not about me it is about Zionism and actually the explanation you defend fits right into the Chomskyite narrative of “U.S. Imperialism ™” that diverts attention AWAY FROM the underlying INFLUENCE OF American policy in the Middle East — ZIONISM.

    You need to take a listen to Press TV and listen to the analysis there. The Egyptian interviewee there are unafraid to say that they are tired of taking their orders from Tel Aviv. The American Left is afraid to say that and therefore are spinning a misleading narrative.

    I don’t know why you’ve introduced Ward Churhill in my remarks about Jeremiah Wright. Obama didn’t abandon Wright based on any mention or ties regarding Churchill. Churchill wasn’t part of the media crucifixion of Wright. So you have your facts totally WRONG.

    Wright defended Farrakhan for his leadership within the African American community and his stance against Zionism. It was when Wright mention Zionism that forced Obama to dump him. Please go back and check the record before you try to confuse and misinform reader here.

  17. Hue Longer said on February 2nd, 2011 at 5:32pm #

    “Deadbeat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 12:11pm #”

    DB, you are the one who is confused but I am certainly not trying to do it to you.

    I think much points to Israel having a huge hand if not directing 9-11. I brought up Ward to show you that however wrong “chickens coming home to roost” may be , it is not an allowed narrative either and he suffered greatly for saying it even though he said nothing about Farrakhan. You can make your points (many with which I agree) without being such a fanatic. The truth doesn’t need dressing up.

  18. Hue Longer said on February 2nd, 2011 at 5:37pm #

    http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/churchill.html

    Now DB, understand I’m not arguing the validity of the essay. Please don’t confuse yourself in responding back to me…The readers need not be patronized

  19. Deadbeat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 7:56pm #

    Perhaps you didn’t understand my point Hue. Obama DID NOT dump Wright for his “chicken come home to roost” remark. He gave a speech in Philedephia essentially “excusing” Wright remark as a “poor choice of words” and used his White grandmother stereotypical fears of people of color as an offset. Recall Hue that Obama was praised for his speech.

    What forced Obama to dump Wright was his DEFENSE of Louis Farrakhan stance against Zionism.

    Thus my point was that the “chicken come home to roost” remark has LESS weight than a stance against Zionism. It’s OK to criticize the U.S policy but it’s NOT OK to defend the U.S. against Zionism.

  20. Hue Longer said on February 2nd, 2011 at 9:21pm #

    DB,
    I obviously understood your point and your negotiating at least tells me you now grasp what’s being said to you… However the truth won’t budge. It is NOT ok at the mainstream level to criticize US policy. Stand corrected or not, Ward Churchill and others have already proven that

  21. Deadbeat said on February 2nd, 2011 at 11:40pm #

    Hue Longer writes …

    However the truth won’t budge. It is NOT ok at the mainstream level to criticize US policy

    You are right Hue the truth won’t budge but my critique is NOT ABOUT the “mainstream level”. My critique is about the pseudo-Left and their unwillingness to face the truth about the power of Zionism in the U.S. and how the control of U.S. policy by Zionism has affected in this case the Arab world. What we are witnessing is a massive response against the yoke of that tyranny.

    In fact Hue you again are shown to be incorrect in your assumption about critiquing U.S. policy. The Tea Party is a result of the critique of U.S. policy especially policy surrounding the bailout of the banks. The rise of the Tea Party has tremendously upset the “Left” that they report about the Koch Brother as being the funding source of the Tea Party while ignoring the Haim Saban and his near complete buyout of the Brookings Institute and funding of the Democrats — at levels that exceeds many corporations.

    Clearly what was inconvenient about Churchill’s remarks was the TIMING of his remarks — right after 9-11. Since many more “mainstream” Americans are angry with the government today is remarks are likely to be more accepted.

    Thus Hue we finally stand in agreement. The TRUTH WON’T BUDGE!

  22. Don Hawkins said on February 3rd, 2011 at 3:47am #

    President Hosni Mubarak’s power may have visibly crumbled before the world on Jan. 25 when protesters took to the streets of Cairo, but his personal wealth will likely be intact when he leaves office as pledged at the end of the year, or sooner if the crowds have their way. ABC

    New York – Less than three years after the financial sector was brought to the brink of collapse, bankers on Wall Street are once again making more money than ever.

    The 25 largest financial firms paid their employees a record total of 135 billion dollars last year, up 6 per cent from 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Salaries and bonuses had fallen to 112 billion dollars in 2008.

    About one third of financial firms’ revenues went into worker earnings. The average Wall Street banker enjoyed earnings of 141,000 dollars, up 3 per cent.

    Part of the expansion came from firms hiring new workers as the US financial sector has stabilized. The salaries varied widely – from an average of 431,000 dollars for Goldman Sachs employees to 257,000 dollars at rival Morgan Stanley. M&C

    The show must go on is it. Let’s see 135 billion and how much money from Corporations to MSM for messages you know messages. Then of course more money to elected official’s for guess what more messages. BAU the show must go on with messages and the messages we see and hear on a scale between one and ten are about .05 and yes that could be pushing it. Just on the off chance that’s true seem’s like a total waste of time, money and energy. Why is the question again Noam put it well; All done while pursuing their institutional role: maximizing short-term profit and putting aside externalities. We could add while keeping as many people as possible in La La land, Oz. Can only imagine the messages coming up in the present State of the Union and or Earth.

  23. Deadbeat said on February 3rd, 2011 at 4:06am #

    Why is the question again Noam put it well; All done while pursuing their institutional role: maximizing short-term profit and putting aside externalities.

    What’s going on in Egypt cannot be boiled down to bland economics Don. Mubarak “wealth” stolen from the Egyptian people can be made back. This is about Liberation from Zionism and their Arab quislings that has retarded Arab development.

    Once Arabs can free themselves from Zionist tyranny carried out VIA U.S. policy then the people of the Arab world will be able to develop their societies. I didn’t hear Noam today but if he put the liberation movement into terms of “short-term profits” he is just spinning the Chomskyite narrative of deflection while minimizing the importance of the movement.

    It’s difficult to take Noam seriously since he himself admits to being emotionally tied to Zionism and a supporter of Israel. I’d suggest Don that you broaden your sources of information and take a look at Press TV where you can here emotional Arabs not situated or emotionally tied to the United States provide a much broader perspectives of the REVOLUTION in Egypt that is not limited to solely economic considerations.

  24. Deadbeat said on February 3rd, 2011 at 4:24am #

    Really not all that hard to understand if we can look through the messages the illusion of knowledge.

    Which is why you have to include a broad spectrum of perspectives and weigh them carefully to gain the experience in order to filter out the bullshit to find the truth.

  25. Don Hawkins said on February 3rd, 2011 at 5:04am #

    Here’s when this might come into play if we wish to survive.

    “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    Albert Einstein

    So far what we see and hear is complex illusion help’s with the counting of a few and how long about 10k years should cover it. It’s a tuff one.