by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
The United States has savaged Central America for most of its history. America’s crimes against generations of people now redound against the perpetrator. “The unaccompanied minors at our Southern border are Malcolm’s ‘chickens coming home to roost.’”
Pax Americana vs. The Arc of the Moral Universe
by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
“Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967
“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is "ending" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so...” Dick and Liz Cheney, WSJ 2014
Former VP Cheney and his daughter Liz have recently been trying to blame President Obama for the failures in Iraq. According to the Cheney’s, “…the establishment of terrorist safe havens across a large swath of the Arab world, present a strategic threat to the security of the United States. Mr. Obama's actions—before and after ISIS's recent advances in Iraq—have the effect of increasing that threat.”
What the Cheney’s conveniently forgot or intentionally omitted from their analysis is the role that VP Cheney played in creating the “Iraq myth” and the “War on Terror”. As he misused the events of 9-11 to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq, he conveniently omitted from that argument that the think-tank he co-founded, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) had petitioned President Clinton as far back as 1998 to overthrow Saddam. “We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy…That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.” Initiating that senseless invasion with over $816B wasted, 4,489 Americans killed and 32,021 wounded presented a much greater strategic threat to the security of the United States than the Cheney’s will ever admit.
“Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism have resulted in or at least contributed to many of the problems America faces today.”
In 2004, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) released “Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administrations Public Statements on Iraq”. In this report Waxman highlights “237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials about the threat posed by Iraq. It contains statements that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made.” VP Cheney made fifty-one of those “misleading” statements.
In his book The Shadow World James Bamford writes, “After Cheney left the DoD in 1992, his appointment as CEO of Haliburton in 1995 led to a remarkable improvement in the company’s fortunes…Under Cheney’s five year leadership, Haliburton received…$1.5bn” in government credit guarantees. “Cheney was paid well for his services: for fifty-eight months he received $45m…some of these payments were made to him while he was Vice President” As the late Gil Scott-Heron wrote, “ask them what their fighting for and they’ll never tell you the economics of war…”
The Cheney’s also forgot to mention the role that the American overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 played in laying the groundwork for the rise of the “Islamic fundamentalism” that America finds itself battling around the globe.
Cheney’s failed attempt at revisionist history is bad enough in-and-of itself but it also speaks to a much larger issue. The larger issue is the failure of the concept of Pax Americana when considered over a larger historical timeframe or the arc of the moral universe.
Pax Americana is a concept used to describe America’s ability to impact and direct world events through its post-WWII military and economic strength. Concepts such as this and others such as Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism have resulted in or at least contributed to many of the problems America faces today. In Blowback Chalmers Johnson wrote, “Instead of demobilizing after the Cold War, the US imprudently committed itself to maintaining a global empire.”
America is experiencing this Blowback with the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the decimation of Iraq, the struggles with Iran, the resistance in Libya, and even an estimated seventy thousand unaccompanied minors predicted to arrive at the US southern border by the end of 2014.
Any historical understanding of US foreign policy in Central America demonstrates that it is not an accident that as much as seventy-four percent of this new wave of unaccompanied minors are coming from three countries; Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. US interventionist foreign policy has decimated the economies of these countries and created a climate of lawlessness and fear, forcing families and now children to flee for their lives.
In 1954, at the behest of the United Fruit Company the CIA orchestrated a coup d'état and overthrew Jacobo Arbens Guzman, the second democratically elected president of Guatemala.
In 1963, at the behest of United Brands (the company that absorbed United Fruit) the CIA orchestrated a coup d'état and overthrew Ramon Villeda Morales as he vowed to pass land reform laws in Honduras.
In 1981 the Reagan administration weighed into the civil war in El Salvador supporting the military and further destabilizing the country.
“US interventionist foreign policy has created a climate of lawlessness and fear, forcing families and now children to flee for their lives.”
In 1852 Frederick Douglass said, “Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” Douglass’ analysis is as correct today as it was them. The tragedy is that the only people who cannot see this reality are Americas who are blinded by this false vision of Pax Americana.
In 1967 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?” As democratically elected presidents in Guatemala and Honduras worked to bring land reform to their people, the U.S. sided with the landlords. As King said, “They must see Americans as strange liberators.”
Today, the unaccompanied minors at our Southern border are Malcolm’s “chickens coming home to roost.” The unraveling of Iraq is the result of greed, failed logic, and a weak American democracy. No matter how hard the Cheney’s try to impose or inflict their revisionist history upon the American narrative, they will fail; just as he did in Iraq.
Here’s why, “When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1967.