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"Why, This Isn't Cuba"

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Back in the 1890s those who believed conquering a continent was killing enough (without taking over Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc.) included Speaker of the House Thomas Reed. He clipped an article out of a newspaper about a lynching in South Carolina. He clipped a headline about "Another Outrage in Cuba." He pasted the two together (fake news!) and gave them to a Congressman from South Carolina who was pushing for a war on Cuba. The Congressman eagerly read the article, then stopped, looked puzzled, and remarked "Why, this isn't Cuba."


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I recommend trying this trick. Clip an article about Israelis murdering Palestinians, or some outrage in a U.S. prison or a Saudi square or under the rain of humanitarian bombs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, or elsewhere; paste it below a headline about Iran, North Korea, Bashar al Assad, or Vladimir Putin. Show it to the person closest to your Congress member or senators with whom you are able to get into the same room or reach by email. Or just show it to someone who has the misfortune to own a television.

Outrages should be outrages because of what they are, not because of who commits them. Good luck finding that to be the case in the United States today!

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Here's an excerpt from my new book, Curing Exceptionalism:

In exceptionalist nationalism, as perhaps in all nationalism, "we" are to adopt a first-person plural identity alive for centuries, so that "we fought the British" and "we won the Cold War." This self-identification, especially when combined with the belief in exceptional superiority, inclines the believer toward focusing on noble things "we" did, and away from shameful things "we" did, even though personally he or she deserves neither credit for the former nor blame for the latter. "The nationalist," wrote George Orwell, "not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."[i]

On page 1 of the Cheneys' book: "We have guaranteed freedom, security, and peace for a larger share of humanity than has any other nation in all of history."[ii] Such claims are, as here, generally not footnoted or explained. In the context of what follows it, the claim seems based largely on an analysis of World War II as the promotion of freedom and peace, and on a history of World War II that leaves out the lion's share of the Allies' fighting in Europe that was done by the Soviet Union.

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The claim that "we" are the leading bringers of peace and freedom may, of course, also be based on U.S. wars and weapons production since World War II. Certainly, if whoever fights the most wars and produces the most weapons brings the most peace and freedom to the earth, then the United States takes the title. But outside the United States, this logic is far from universally accepted -- quite the contrary. Most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world. [iii] A survey by Pew in 2017 found similar results. [iv]

Since World War II, during what some U.S. academics think of as a golden age of peace, the U.S. military has killed or helped kill some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 84 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. [v] The U.S. military costs nearly as much as the rest of the world's militaries combined, while the U.S., NATO members, and their allies account for three-quarters of the world's military spending. U.S. weapons dealing is exceptional in the sense of leading all others, but quite inclusive in terms of its clients. The United States, as noted above, as of 2017 provided weapons and in most cases training to 73 percent of the world's dictatorships. [vi] It is certainly possible to find good results from some of this, but a clear-eyed understanding requires weighing the good against the bad. Is the globe that fails to appreciate all of this global policing made up of a bunch of ingrates? Or is the policing model seriously flawed?

Avoiding national criticism, or self-reflection on "us," risks allowing generosity to serve as a cover for a double standard. What might Americans think if another nation were to do some of its own freedom-promoting around the world? Such would be the behavior of a "rogue nation." Here is a count of military bases in the world that exist outside their nations' borders:[vii]

United States -- 800

Russia -- 9

France -- 8

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United Kingdom -- 8

Japan -- 1

South Korea -- 1

The Netherlands -- 1

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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