Unbecoming American: Diplomacy and Distraction


The importance of “peace” in the rhetoric of the West lies not in the sincerity with which it is preached. Rather “peace”, like the DIE dogma emerging from the recent Awakening Crusade (Wokism) is a term of invidious distraction. The intensity and frequency of its use is determined by the underlying concept of domination. As opposed to actual peace, i.e. the absence of hostilities, “peace” is a political and psychological warfare device deployed for what could be called “terminological” or “linguistic” denial.

Just as the US Forces, operating behind the United Nations banner in Korea, wantonly destroyed civilian infrastructure from 1951-1953 in order to deny Koreans access to their own country, the strategic aim of “peace”, in whatever form it is praised or promoted, is to deny enemies not only the control of the story line (the cliché “narrative” applies here) but also of the vocabulary to express their interests. Saturation bombing, the West’s tactic of choice, applies to language as well as to dropping high explosive as a means to silence the foe.

Deprived of the use of the terminology of peace, the defendants opposing Western aggression are forced to use the language of war. As a result, pleas to avoid or prevent war can be translated into belligerent intentions. The West has led the world in the development and proliferation of public deliberative bodies, electoral machinery and mass media. The constant praise and attention given to parliaments, congresses and legislative assemblies is not an expression of vital democratic processes or the active translation of popular will into government action. Instead the purpose of these bodies and the mechanisms for filling them with people is to create and maintain what are best understood as public language machines. Qualifications for membership, beyond certain demographic specifications, demonstrate potential capacity to produce and reproduce the systemic language output the surplus of which is deployed to overwhelm or occlude any other forms of expression.

This overproduction of verbiage and cant is often decried as a malfunction of deliberative assemblies. However that is an error. Just as a jury trial should not be confused with scientific fact-finding and assessment, the written product of deliberative assemblies is not the distillation of popular will.

The difference between philosophy and science, a relatively recent distinction, is that philosophy comprises exercises in how to respond to explanations (hierarchical verbal behaviour) while science comprises the exercises in verbalizing the non-verbal, sometimes known as facts or the real world, i.e. the empirical frontier. Philosophy was once subsumed by theology and science was nothing more than a more detailed articulation of the statements subsumed by philosophy, in turn subsumed by theology. So human experience at the empirical frontier was subsumed by religious categories and thus governed by those especially privileged and empowered to approve or disapprove the order in which those statements were subsumed. These approvals in turn were subsumed by theocratic explanations the termination of which was “god”.

For what has turned out to be a brief period, less than two hundred years, science comprised practices and explanations that largely dispensed with theological termini. Toward the end of the 20th century, that changed. Science was reintegrated into religion. Instead of science being the collective and individual activity of investigating the empirical frontier and producing statements and practices that facilitated the useful manipulation of the environment, Science became the system in which Truth was uttered through rituals and sacraments prescribed by largely inaccessible sacred texts. The trigger for this reversal of humanism and return to a sacerdotal system was the Manhattan Project. The largest single scientific research project in modern history, the Manhattan Project captured virtually every scholarly and technical faculty in the US to produce the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever invented. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the ultimate demonstration of Western nihilism. This gratuitous crucifixion of two entire cities not only raised the United States to the primacy of violence. It also demonstrated the culmination of Western imperialism. As Harvard professor Samuel Huntington concisely remarked in his notorious book Clash of Civilizations (1994):

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

The organization that produced these weapons and gave the United States the power of international extortion also destroyed what remained of independent science. At the same time the enormous – billions in today’s money—funds that built the fission bombs and later the thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs also began the rampant manipulation of living matter known as genetic engineering. Together these two technologies of future terror were wrapped in permanent secrecy. A new priesthood was created. Instead of doctors of divine theology ordained by bishops and ruled by an absolutist pope in Rome, this new sacerdotal class was ordained with security clearances, i.e. access to secrets and sacred oaths to keep them. The possession of superhuman destructive power was initially concealed by myths of wartime necessity. Until the 1970s, the pontiffs on the Potomac preached that such a horrible weapon would be sinful to use. They also did whatever was possible to prevent other nations from sharing this weaponry. Then the rhetoric of “peace” was applied once the Soviet Union had detonated its own atomic bombs, culminating with the Tsar Bomba. Disarmament and arms control were pursued by the US Government as a means of concealing the original intent of the weapons and the subsequent technological advances as well as impeding Soviet weapons development. Conveniently ignoring the acquisition of atomic bomb building capacity by the state that occupied Palestine after 1947, the US also successfully concealed the fact that its atomic bomb was built to destroy the Soviet Union (and eventually the People’s Republic of China). Despite the declassification of the Sandia oral history of US strategic policy—in which these objectives had been very clearly articulated—the “peace” screen has hidden the atomic core of US aggressive policy from most of the public, both in the US and abroad.

This concealment was an intentional product of the restructuring of Science as the cult of national war policy, euphemistically called “defence”. The complement to this restoration of religious control over the pursuit of scientific knowledge was the imposition of the private-public partnership known as the United Nations. Advertised as a “new and improved” version of the League of Nations formed after the Great War, this union of the victors from the Second World War was supposed to guard the world from future ravages of war. It initially comprised five bodies. The administration was vested in the Secretariat. The general powers were awarded to a representative General Assembly comprising all member-states on the principle of one state-one vote. The task of peacekeeping was vested in the Security Council selected by the General Assembly with each of the leading Allied powers (the US, UK, France, the USSR and Republic of China) endowed with a veto over any decision taken by the Security Council (and thus a check on potential majorities that might form in the General Assembly). In addition an Economic and Social Council was charged with social development issues and the Trusteeship Council was erected to deal with what the Charter called “non-self-governing territories”, i.e. countries still subject to League of Nations mandate or colonial rule. Quickly the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council were relegated to the backwaters of international diplomacy. The General Assembly was reduced to a debating society. In essence the Security Council and the international diplomatic corps employed by the Secretariat became the only functional organs of this great peacekeeping institution.

It did not take long before even the pretence of peacekeeping became a dead letter. The senior intergovernmental organization of the post-war era is itself party to the longest continuing war in modern history—the US invasion of the Republic of Korea in 1945, the civil war it triggered and the United Nations (US in cognito) forces, less the now defunct Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, against the people of Korea, since 1951 constituted as the People’s Democratic Republic (North) and the Republic of Korea (South). There has not been a single armed conflict since 1945 in which the United Nations, acting through the Security Council, has successfully prevented war or restored peace. On the contrary, the domination of the Security Council by the United States has assured that the so-called Blue Helmets have become the Trojan horses for the Western powers in every part of the world they were deployed. Their principal mission has been to prevent local populations from deciding their internal affairs in any way that might conflict with the interests of the United States, Great Britain or France.

How is it that such sacred trust as the world was told it could place in this great peacekeeping institution could be so consistently betrayed no sooner than the ink had dried in San Francisco? Surely the member-states, initially 45 and now 194, would object to such hypocrisy and aggressive exploitation of international organs. Wasn’t everyone agreed that the horrors of war, demonstrated in the carnage from the Oder to the Yalu between 1936 and 1945, were awful enough? After all the Kellogg-Briand Pact adopted in the interwar period as a cornerstone of international law has not been repudiated by any of the permanent members of the Security Council. Why do governments and peoples accept this regime of constant war against peoples and their human rights to peaceful development and self-determination?

There are major obstacles and they were built into the system, not accidentally but by virtue of the absolute command of destructive power held by the United States and its vassals. First of all there was the secret power of the atomic bomb and the US regime’s demonstrated willingness to use it against civilians en masse. Then there was the veto power bestowed upon three of the empires with the least interest in any change of the status quo. Although not formally part of the United Nations organization, the Bretton Woods accords created, under US control, the weapons of mass economic destruction known as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The Second World War had devastated most of the world’s industrial capacity and disrupted international trade. This left the US not only with its tools for financial manipulation. It created a global captive market for the only country whose industrial and agricultural capacity was untouched by the previous thirty years of violent havoc. Finally the destruction of state power in much of the world extended to both political and civil institutions. It gave the United States oligopoly in the market for consumer goods and information, including entertainment.

Although the Soviet Union had armed itself with powerful atomic weapons this was a purely defensive posture. As US experts knew the USSR would need at least 20 years to recover both in terms of population and economy to pre-war levels. When POTUS Harry Truman repudiated the Yalta agreements concluded by his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, he aggravated the conditions that would isolate the Soviet Union from the rest of the world. By refusing to recognize the People’s Republic of China, the US enforced the de facto blockade of most of Asia. This would be magnified by carpet-bombing Korea and Vietnam, instigating the murder of some one million Indonesians and the continuing slaughter of Congolese and other inhabitants of Central Africa. Cuba, still subject to a blockade the UN cannot end, is the only country that has been able to resist invasion by US/ UN troops or proxies.

So what does the United Nations really do, if it does not keep the peace?

As the pinnacle of international and intergovernmental diplomacy, the United Nations is the highest deliberative body on the planet. And there it is possible to see its true function. The United Nations is an institution created for distraction and denial. Within its chambers, talk of “peace” substitutes for peace. Its specialized agencies are staffed primarily by agents and assets of the US and its vassals, who owe their assignments and extensive diplomatic privileges to the patronage of the US and the corporations for which it stands. Instead of supporting member-states with the putative expertise available, these transnational bureaucrats apply the resources fed to the United Nations to manipulate national and local policies. Even the promise of appointments or the extension of membership privileges to the diplomatic corps of small and medium-sized states provides bribery or extortion at arm’s length for the corporate interests and foreign policies of the Allied permanent members. The absolute veto power prevents any serious initiative from the General Assembly from being carried into action even if adopted by large majorities in that house.

The “talk” of peace and peacekeeping is not only the inalienable prerogative of the paramount member. By virtue of the control US-based corporations hold over the global mass media, even that talk can erupt at will into a tsunami of “peace” and “reconciliation” or “human rights” or “free enterprise”. The subsequent flood drowns any alternative voices along with arguments and proposals that do not accord with the will of the US oligarchy. As recently as March of this year, a popular conservative journalist-commentator, Tucker Carlson, was told point blank by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, that even his most open, vocal and visible acts of goodwill toward the owners of the US and NATO would not be heard. Just like the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have no control over global mass media. There may be fans of genuine Russian vodka and millions may dine regularly on some version of Chinese cuisine. Yet none of this competes with Coca Cola and Levis. India may produce more films than Hollywood. Russian composers and authors may enjoy international fame. Everyone has heard of the Great Wall and has thousands of things stamped somewhere “Made in China”. Yet when peace is spoken in Moscow or Beijing it is still translated in the West as “not war”.

For decades the vast majority of UN member-states have demanded an end to the atrocities by which the occupation of Palestine is enforced through a settler-colonial state apparatus. Yet the onus for peace is placed not on those who monopolize not only armed force and the language of “peace”. Instead the language of “peace” is applied together with incarceration, torture, murder and mayhem against those who pray for peace itself. Intergovernmental instruments and diplomacy are used aggressively to suppress any peace not commensurate with abject surrender.

At least twenty million Soviet citizens died as a result of the West’s invasion of the Soviet Union by combined forces of Nazi Germany and occupied Ukraine. However the only deaths counted are the estimated six to seven million from Western Europe. The Western Allies in that massive slaughter regularly commemorate their Normandy invasion, only launched to deny the fruits of its unilateral defeat of the Wehrmacht. Until their viceroy, Boris Yeltsin, was replaced by the current President of the Russian Federation, this contempt and its underlying motives were ceremoniously concealed. Meanwhile the deliberative language machines have turned the invasion of the Soviet Union, known as Operation Barbarossa, into a boxing match between the Western devil and the Eastern devil. The Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS are honored today, e.g. in the Canadian parliament, as early heroes of the continuous battle against Russia. This is not hypocrisy or a mistake. Rather it is the admission of what “peace in our time” was intended to deliver. The some 20 million Chinese that were killed by the Japanese invasion, tolerated by the West in its morbid desire for the extermination of communists, do not count at all. Yet a fraction of the overall war deaths continues to justify the occupation of the Middle East by Euro-Americans. To begin the continuing body count in the Congo—well over ten million since Belgium withdrew (after assassinating its first prime minister)—would be pointless. “Peace” in Africa still means the size of the “piece” of Africa owned or controlled by Western corporations—the same corporations that also profited by the deaths in Eastern Europe from 1939 – 1945.

The United Nations is not useless as many are tempted to claim. On the contrary it has proven to be a very useful and highly profitable enterprise. By dominating international diplomatic language it diverts attention from the substance of diplomacy. As a cutout for covert military action and subversion, the United Nations diverts attention from the real belligerents in a world long dehydrated by war. Moreover, by its appropriation of the sacerdotal Science instituted since the Manhattan Project, the United Nations and its specialized agencies suppress genuine scientific investigation and the knowledge needed to remedy the illnesses caused by empires that refuse to die—or worse, that will only die by applying diversity, inclusion and equity to the graveyard to which their owners send people every day.

There is a place for true diplomacy in the world. Conflicts among peoples are just as natural as they are among individuals. Problems solved also expose or create new ones to investigate and solve. That is what science with a small “s” promises humans. In fact that is the essence of humanism. Every explanation implies an organization. Conversely every organization can be understood as an explanation. The United Nations is an organization based on the explanation whose regress is terminated with the atomic bomb. Nearly seventy years cannot alter the fact that an organization borne with the genetic code of atomic annihilation will reproduce death in every generation. If talk of “peace” is to be replaced by peaceful action then clearly a new explanation for international relations is necessary. The language machines created for perpetual war have to be abandoned and real human beings restored to their dignity which includes restoring their language and their voices.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is author of Unbecoming American: A War Memoir and also Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..