Outside observers looking at U.S. foreign and military policy since World War II can wonder at its essential global imperialism, its heavy reliance on military force, either threatened or actual, and its many negative outcomes for millions of people, ranging from eternal poverty to premature death, all around the world. They may also wonder at the mentality of the tens of thousands of U.S. government employees who, over the years, have developed and implemented these policies. Mean, evil, totally unethical, totally lacking in principle, totally devoted to the expansion of finance/Petro capitalism, in total denial of what their polices produce. And then we might possibly add, none of the above but totally self-delusional.
Roger Cohen writes regularly for the (newly re-named) Opinion Page of The New York Times. In a recent column he quotes extensively from comments made by one Daniel Fried, a specialist in Central and Eastern Europe, who, on the arrival of the Trumpites in Washington, retired from the Foreign Service, which had employed him since 1977. Cohen published a lengthy quote from Mr. Fried's retirement statement, which is really quite revealing. First on Eastern Europe:
"Few believed that Poland's Solidarity movement could win, that the Iron Curtain would come down, that the Baltic States could be free, that the second of the 20th century's great evils -- Communism -- could be vanquished without war. But it happened, and the West's great institutions -- NATO and the E.U. -- grew to embrace 100 million liberated Europeans. It was my honor to have done what I could to help. I learned never to underestimate the possibility of change, that values have power, and that time and patience can pay off, especially if you're serious about your objectives. Nothing can be taken for granted, and this great achievement is now under assault by Russia, but what we did in my time is no less honorable. It is for the present generation to defend and, when the time comes again, extend freedom in Europe."
Then on the U.S. and its essential nature (according to Fried):
"We are not an ethno-state, with identity rooted in shared blood. The option of a White Man's Republic ended at Appomattox. On the contrary, we are 'a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.'
"And so, ...that rough sense of equality and opportunity, embedded in us, informed the way that we brought our American power to the world, America's Grand Strategy. We have, imperfectly, and despite detours and retreat along the way, sought to realize a better world for ourselves and for others, for we understood that our prosperity and our values at home depend on that prosperity and those values being secure as far as possible in a sometimes-dark world."- Advertisement -
I suppose that in order to continue to serve the U.S. State Department, one has to really believe what Mr. Fried says he believes (and I would not doubt that he believes it), for one reason or another. But let's take a look at some reality. Take for example, the "Iron Curtain." So many like to think that it was set forth across Europe by the Soviet Union, as Winston Churchill told us in his famous speech made at Fulton, MO on March 5, 1946.
It was actually a creation of the Western Powers, not the Soviet Union, announced by Churchill and attributed by him to the USSR. Stalin had actually thought that one of the original leaders of the Intervention against the Russian Revolution that started shortly after that revolution occurred in 1917, that is Winston Churchill, after opportunistically joining in an alliance with the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany, would not once again turn against it. But Churchill did.
Stalin actually wanted to engage in peaceful co-existence with the capitalist West (see Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-53, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2206, chaps. 10-12). Stalin thought that the Soviet Union could be one of the beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan. Stalin actually thought that what would in the end become The 75 Years War Against the Soviet Union by the Western Imperialist powers, of which Winston Churchill was one of the primary architects, would not be renewed. As for the "captive Eastern Europe," since Russia/the Soviet Union had suffered two massive invasions from the West in a 27-year period (1914-41), at Yalta it was recognized that they would have a "sphere of influence" in Eastern Europe, as a buffer against the power they feared most -- a resurgent Germany. For in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany the Soviet Union had suffered about 25,000,000 dead, civilians and military. In the Battle of Berlin alone, the Red Army lost about 80,000 dead, or one fifth of the total dead the U.S. sustained, 1941-45, in all the theaters of war in which it was engaged.
But then this buffer was gradually undermined. The final round started with by the accession of the "Polish Pope," John Paul II. One of his primary tasks was to work closely with the Catholic Church in Poland to help undermine the Polish Government, in part by supporting, openly and covertly, the "Solidarity" movement. But then, further, as the Communist governments in Eastern Europe were falling apart (with the assistance of the State Department, the CIA and various U.S. NGO's, as more recently happened in Ukraine, this time against Russia), the then Soviet Union was guaranteed (but unfortunately for them, not in writing) that NATO, which had been formed as an openly anti-Soviet military arm of Western imperialism, would not expand into Eastern Europe. We know for how long that promise was kept by Mr. Fried's State Department, following the final victory of U.S.-led Western Imperialism in The 75 Years War Against the Soviet Union, in 1992.
As to the second quote from Fried, one could write a book about it, and many have. And, I could write a very long column on it, but I won't. Just a few comments. The U.S. is indeed a multi-cultural state. The problem is that going back to its founding the 1850s, when one of its original coalition member was the nativist American Party, with a few exceptions over time, following the end of Reconstruction the Republican Party has never accepted this.
Rep. Steven King is only the latest in a long line of Republican xenophobes. This battle has only been re-intensified by the election of Donald Trump. As for the "White Man's Republic," that concept as a stand-alone has never died. It has just taken different forms, as the Doctrine of White Supremacy spread over the whole nation from the South, following the end of the First Civil War.
Then there is that "rough sense of equality and opportunity." Well let's see, since the killing off of the major parts of organized labor, as is well-known, wealth in the United states has become ever more concentrated. An increasing number of people think that their children will be worse off than they are. And then, according to Mr. Fried, that "rough sense" "informed the way that we brought our American power to the world." Really? Oh my. That's why wealth concentration around the world is getting ever-tighter, I suppose.
Finally, the U.S. "sought to realize a better world for ourselves and for others." Tell that to the people of those countries in which since the end of World War II the U.S. intervened in "seeking to realize a better world" (and this list is far from complete): Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Vietnam (1956-75), the former Belgian Congo (1960), South Africa (1948-93), Brazil (1965), the Dominican Republic (1965), Argentina (the 1970s), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1977-present), Honduras, Korea (1945-present), The Philippines (1945-1954), Nicaragua (1981-89), Iraq (2003-present), Syria (2011-present).
And so on and so forth. Anyone who thinks, given the above list, that the U.S. has done great things around the world since World War II either thinks that U.S. Imperialism is just a great thing or is just self-delusional. Some choice, eh wot?