The Logic of Empire: A Quick Take

Just before WWII, the United States military developed a series of “what if plans,” in the case of war. These plans were color-coded, each color signifying a separate potential enemy. Together, these plans were named The Rainbow Plans. Taken together with the oft-repeated and analyzed sense of American exceptionalism, these plans reveal a logic that seemingly still controls the mind set of the power elite in the United States. It is the logic of empire.

At their essence, the Rainbow Plans asserted that simply guarding the U.S. proper cannot be enough of a deterrent, nor can that stop attacks on the country. Instead, their logic dictates that areas from which attacks could be launched against the U.S. must be either occupied or neutralized. Case in point can be found in the U.S. diplomatic and military interaction with Latin American in 1940. And central to this interaction was the Office of the Coordinator of Interamerican Affairs, (OCIAA) run by Nelson Rockefeller.

The OCIAA managed not only the propaganda aimed at the region, it also coordinated overt and covert military and diplomatic activity designed to deny any possible enemy the ability to strike either at the U.S. directly or at the Panama Canal..(the then linchpin for the U.S. ability to wage a two-ocean naval war) by neutralizing the space from which attacks could launched. As the Germans moved into North Africa, the U.S. military realized that even with current equipment (the FW-200 “condor” bomber), The German airforce could target the natal region of BRAZIL.and from there hit the Panama Canal. The OCIAA worked to neutralize this area. Covertly, the OCIAA worked with Pan American Grace Airline and the US Aircoprs to actually “occupy” this area. Pan Am Grace contracted with Brazil to build airfields throughout the Natal area, while secretly arranging with the Aircorps to provide pilots for the resulting flights. These pilots, acting as civilians, were joined by other Aircorps personnel to staff the airfields despite Brazil’s rejection of military activities. At the same time, the OCIAA essentially laundered money to anti-Falangist political parties in Brazil despite Brazilian law making such contributions illegal. In fact, it was a law passed in part by the urging of the U.S. State Department. The logic, here is clear. To prevent attacks on U.S. soil or interests, the U.S. was covertly establishing a presence on the ground, denying that space to any enemy use as well as acting politically to undercut any hostile political activities.

The U.S. extended this logic to other countries too. In CHILE, the OCIAA worked to set up public works projects designed to provide clean drinking water and other infrastructural improvements in the country. Secretly, however, OCIAA worked with the U.S. military to target such improvements to areas that would make good U.S. military bases in case of war. In COLOMBIA, the U.S. worked overtly and covertly, again through Pan Am Airlines, to drive German influences out of SCATA, the COLOMBIAN airline that would become AVIANCA as a result. And in 1940-41, the U.S. sent Army engineers throughout the western coast of South America, in Guatemala for example, to build airfields, just in case.

Today, the U.S. is publicly using this same logic to justify invasions, drone attacks on foreign soil, hit lists, spying and data collection from so-called friends and the like. The Wikileaks documents show quite clearly just how more advanced the U.S. infiltrations have become since 1940. The difference is that everyone knows it now… while most of the power elites in Congress and the White House justify such expansion using the same Rainbow Plan logic and simultaneously piously claiming that the U.S. is NOT an empire. Even with 870 world wide bases (and however many covert bases), military operations throughout the world requiring multiple deployments of the Guard and Reserves, the use of mercenaries, and a total military expenditure larger than the rest of the world combined, we cannot be an empire, they say; we are the exception. The logic, finally, has been taken to it own logical conclusion: since attacks can be launched by anyone located anywhere, then the U.S. must in the name of security, occupy everywhere and fear everybody. Circle the wagons.

Note: The documentation for this article comes from work I did in the 1980’s on the OCIAA. Much of it can be found in the OCIAA history published by the Government Printing Office after WWII. There is also ample evidence of U.S. involvement in ridding many South American airlines of German personnel and investments. Given time, I can produce the citations if necessary.

Theron P. Snell holds a PhD in American Studies. He currently works as an academic advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Read other articles by Theron.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 20th, 2010 at 10:55am #

    there is one god; thus, one planet. god wants all of it! god=u.s, supremacism.
    there in no other planet to go to; so, stay trapped or do smthing. and stop nagging, pleading, pointing things out on and on an don!
    chinese, cubans, korean, vietnamese are doing smthing; however, not much, if any, talking. tnx

  2. Don Hawkins said on December 20th, 2010 at 11:24am #

    Now with the reality of climate change and or climate disruption Circle the wagons doesn’t begin to explain it. There has been talk of the first climate crisis and then what well if the truth be known it has already happened and as we see it’s still go shopping oh and build more bases.

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 20th, 2010 at 3:43pm #

    The logic of the Empire and am watching Beck he’s seems to have it all figured out. Oh on Fox New’s a guy from the American Enterprise Institute was on before Beck and said climate change is a hoax still and now Beck is somewhat on the same lines. The people in Europe and now California seem to be finding out this very day about the hoax. Beck also said be careful because these revolutionary’s are trying to control the media. Oh Beck I think it’s already under control alright. Yes the truth is now banned.

  4. bozh said on December 21st, 2010 at 6:23am #

    while talking about cubans and vietnamese not talking, needs clarifacation.
    for one thing, u.s had wiped these peoples off the map when it comes to allow them to talk or a have a walk in u.s; unless, some of them are talking and walking american talk and walk.

    and by doing u.s walk and talk, i mean to say that at least 60% americans do the american talk, but do not participate in the walk.
    there r some people like beck, palin, lieberman who even do the american jog and not the mere walk.

    and politicos and judges always seem to run. i wonder, what all this means?

    don, can u shed a tear or a bit of light on all this? tnx