In part 1, we reviewed the emergence of the modern world system through a process of systematic genocidal violence conducted across disparate continents, killing in total thousands of millions of indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia and America.
But this “hidden holocaust” didn’t end with the demise of colonization: Because colonization never underwent a genuine demise. Rather, it underwent a fundamental re-configuration, prompted by rising demands for freedom and independence from around the world.
By 1945, the end of the Second World War, the contours of a new international order were in place. According to US professors Lawrence Shoup and William Minter its design was being prepared several years earlier. It was known as the “Grand Area Strategy”, drawn up by US State Department policy-planners in liaison with experts from the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC.
If you want evidence for a plan for empire, you won’t get better than this. The planners identified a minimum “world area” control over which was deemed to be “essential for the security and economic prosperity of the United States and the Western Hemisphere.” This “world area” included the entire Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire and the Far East.
Grand Area Strategy saw that US policy was “to secure the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty by foreign nations that constitutes a threat” to this world area. But this policy could only be pursued on the basis of “an integrated policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States.” So the concept of “security interests” had to be extended beyond traditional notions of territorial integrity to include domination of these regions “strategically necessary for world control.” Sounds strangely familiar right? (Think “PNAC” or “Defense Planning Guidance”)
In other words, national security, economic security and imperial consolidation were interconnected components of Grand Area Strategy. State Department planners had no illusions about what this meant. Indeed, they candidly recognized that “the British Empire as it existed in the past will never reappear”, and that therefore “the United States may have to take its place.” Grand Area planning was about fulfilling the “requirement[s] of the United States in a world in which it proposes to hold unquestioned power.” [War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Cited in Lawrence H. Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and US Foreign Policy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977). This edition is now out of print but I believe it is available in print-on-demand format.]
2. The Problem of “Freedom”
So what next? The contradiction between revamped American plans for the extension of a new imperial order, and the struggle for national independence breaking out across Africa and Asia, to be resolved. American and British policy planners recognized the need to subvert the process of decolonization, to sustain control. D. K. Fieldhouse, Professor Emeritus in Imperial History at Oxford University, notes that the economic dependence of the colonies was “the intended result of decolonialism.” [D. K. Fieldhouse, Black Africa 1945-80: Economic Decolonization and Arrested Development, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), p. 5] Similarly, Robert Winks, Randolph W. Townsend Professor of History and chair of the Department of History at Yale University, explains that “the imperial nation controlled the process [of decolonization] to the end.” [Robin W. Winks, ‘On Decolonization and Informal Empire’, American Historical Review (Vol. 18, No. 3, June 1976), p. 540-42]
Part of the plan to obviate decolonization was implemented through direct force. Since 1945, the United States, with routine support from Britain, has conducted military interventions into more than 70 nations in the South. Many of these were conducted in the context of the Cold War, supposedly to fight off the Soviet Union, which, we were told, was intent on imminent invasion of Western Europe and possibly even the American mainland.
But in truth, the vast majority of interventions conducted had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, but were indeed fought to put down nationalist independence movements across the Third World. The paranoia and fear over the USSR allowed Western policymakers to label anything that threatened Western domination as Communist. According to former State Department official Richard J Barnet:
“Even the word ‘communist’ has been applied so liberally and so loosely to revolutionary or radical regimes that any government risks being so characterised if it adopts one or more of the following policies which the State Department finds distasteful: nationalization of private industry, particularly foreign-owned corporations, radical land reform, autarchic trade policies, acceptance of Soviet or Chinese aid, insistence upon following an anti-American or non-aligned foreign policy, among others.” [Intervention and Revolution: The United States in the Third World (1968)]
3. 1945-1990: Third World Holocaust?
The scale of the death toll from these interventions is staggering. William Blum, another ex-State Department official, describes the vast loss of life resulting from post-1945 military interventionism in the Third World as a full-scale “American holocaust.” [Killing Hope: CIA and US Military Interventions Since World War II (Zed, 2003)]
How many innocent civilians died as a consequence of these military interventions? A detailed break-down of figures can be found in Unpeople, by the British historian Mark Curtis, a former research fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs. Curtis’ conservative calculations confirm that Britain has been complicit in the deaths of over 10 million “unpeople”, expendable people from far-off foreign lands whose lives are worthless compared to the significance of a specific set of overriding strategic and economic interests.
Here’s another overall estimate from the American development expert, Dr J. W. Smith, director of the Institute for Economic Democracy in Arizona:
“No society will tolerate it if they knew that they... were responsible for violently killing 12 to 15 million people since WW II and causing the death of hundreds of millions more as their economies were destroyed or those countries were denied the right to restructure to care for their people. Unknown as it is, and recognizing that this has been standard practice throughout colonialism, that is the record of the Western imperial centers of capital from 1945 to 1990.” [J. W. Smith, Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century (Arizona: Institute for Economic Democracy, 2003)]