Recently Rachel Maddow mentioned Congressman Jim DeMint’s planned trip to Honduras, where he intended to encourage coup leaders to defy the U.S. government.
Maddow prefaced her remarks with a long homily on how badly the U.S. government hated military coups, because they ran counter to everything the U.S. government stands for, were so abhorrent to American values that the U.S. government cut off all ties to such repugnant pariah regimes, and blah blah woof woof.
This is amazingly stupid—almost as stupid as the Congressman I saw back in the ’90s, speaking in regard to Clinton’s Balkan wars, who said he’d learned in school that the U.S. never went to war to obtain a square foot of territory or a dollar of treasure. The U.S. government is opposed to coups, especially against democratically elected leaders? Yeah, maybe in the Bearded Spock universe. Um, ever hear of Armas? Suharto? Mourão Filho? Pinochet? I’m sure all those nice folks in the U.S. government cried over such coups, just like Iron Eyes Cody watching somebody litter Central Park—or rather just like Lewis Carrol’s Walrus, weeping even as he polished off the last of the oysters.
Maddow also suggested it was “treason” to encourage another government to defy the policies of the United States government.
That’s really a shame coming from her. It’s usually Olbermann who’s prone to this kind of liberal mirror-imaging of right-wing know-nothingism.
And why, exactly, is it so far beyond the pale to encourage the enemies of the U.S. government? Those people who put Suharto and Pinochet, et al, in power—they’re suddenly the good guys? In the specific case brought up by Maddow, I’ll concede that DeMint is an advocate for the worse cause, and Obama (at least to the extent that his administration’s net stance is against the coup) for the better. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, particularly in Latin America, the U.S. government has been a consistent force for evil. Until recently, any left-wing populist leader in Latin America who promoted land reform and undermined the position of the feudal landed oligarchy and the American corporate interests aligned with them, stood a very good chance of being overthrown by a U.S. sponsored coup—after which the landed oligarchs would be restored to full control of their former haciendas and latifundias, and labor organizers and peasant activists would be systematically tortured, murdered, and “disappeared” by governments hell-bent on terrifying their populations into submission.
I am overjoyed that, in recent years, almost all of Latin America has been swept by left-wing populist regimes that defy Washington. For the first time in many decades, the region is almost entirely free of American control. That’s because, thank God, the U.S. government is bogged down in foreign quagmires it can’t win, and has no forces to spare for another regional war against people like Hugo Chavez. If it weren’t for the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires, Venezuela would have experienced a replay of Guatemala 1954 by now. Not that Chavez isn’t a statist, mind you, or that he isn’t unsavory and authoritarian in lots of ways. But he sure as hell isn’t as bad as the kind of landlord-general oligarchy the U.S. would replace him with. And it’s really nice to see an entire continent coming out from under the thumb of Empire. It’s the kind of thaw that invites comparisons with Eastern Europe in 1989.
It’s worth noting, parenthetically, that Maddow may not have received the memo. No less an official personage than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes a “nuanced” position on the Honduran coup, a lot more nuanced than Maddow’s remarks would suggest. At best, Clinton can be said to have rebuked the coup with the energy of an anemic housefly. Her flack and quasi-official mouthpiece Lanny Davis is a lobbyist for the Honduran military regime. Davis is allied with another sometime Clinton associate, Bennett Ratcliff; both are associated with the Covington and Burling law firm, which is on retainer by the Chiquita company (better known under its previous name of United Fruit Company, of fond memory). You can almost hear Hillary on that 3AM phone, furiously warning Maddow to “Ixnay on Ondurashay!”
In any case, we should bear in mind that Washington, DC and Wall Street are not “our country.” The real America is the host organism, not the glorified corporate-state tapeworms living in our colon. But even more importantly, our real country is the “good guys”—wherever they may be found. When the bad guys in the American national security state are propping up transnational corporate rule all around the world, and killing innocent working people to make the world safe for United Fruit and ITT, I’ll side with the “foreigners” against Washington every time.