By Sherwood Ross
We Americans like to think of our country as a democracy, when, tragically, sadly, it has become a tyranny. Just because we enjoy the right to vote and speak at home does not mean we are not trampling the liberties of other nations. Webster's New World Dictionary defines tyranny as "to govern or use authority harshly or cruelly."
The U.S. has acquired any number of the characteristics of the tyrant state, notably the ascendance of the "military-industrial complex" of which President Eisenhower warned. Let's look at the facts:
# President Bush has pumped up military spending during his term from $343-billion to about $500-billion. Toss in the whopping $44-billion spent annually on 15 "intelligence" agencies and you have a warfare budget exceeding half a trillion dollars! More than the rest of the world's military spending combined.
# The Pentagon is operating 700 military bases in 130 countries from the Caribbean to Okinawa. It has spread its intimidating presence to every corner of the globe. What's more, the Pentagon is also spending $1.5-trillion to create 80 new terrifying weapons systems and is militarizing space.
# The U.S. military is holding thousands of prisoners indefinitely without charge, a tactic Hitler once used. President Bush denies torture occurs but as The Nation reports (Dec. 26), "prisoners have been kicked and punched, their bones broken. Their heads have been hooded, wrapped in duct tape and smashed. Their flesh has been seared with the chemicals in fluorescent lights. They have been frozen to death, suffocated, hung upside down until dead, starved, electrically shocked and waterboarded." Is this not the use of authority "harshly or cruelly"?
# The U.S. is the world leader in weapons sales, with close to $15-billion annually, almost as much as the rest of the world combined. These sales tend to fortify dictators in power and worsen tensions between troubled neighbors such as India and Pakistan.
# The U.S., which lavished $6-trillion on nuclear arms, has 5,000 nuclear warheads that can be detonated via ballistic missiles, planes and submarines, hundreds of them at the ready for use.
# Our popular culture reeks of Death, from violent video games to Hollywood films. USA suffers astronomical rates of crime and firearm murders, imprisons a record 2-million, and is one of the few nations to impose the death penalty.
If America armed solely for self-defense, its global prestige today would not be at an all-time low. However, President Bush's aggression is no new thing. His war has accelerated a process that has been in the making for some time.
Writing in The Atlantic Monthly 30 years ago, historian Henry Steele Commager noted America's post-WWII record was no better than Stalin's:
"Suffice it to say that the CIA has at least tried to be as subversive as the KGB in many parts of the globe...and that a 10-year undeclared war in Vietnam, with casualties of some two million, both military and civilian, and bombardment with three times the tonnage dropped on Germany and Japan in World War II contrasts unfavorably with the much-condemned Soviet invasion of Afghanistan."
Indeed, according to the authoratative Global Policy Forum, the CIA between 1960 and 2004 helped overthrow, among others, the governments of the Congo in both 1960 and 1965; Laos, (1962); Ecuador, (1963); Brazil, (1964); Indonesia, (1965); Ghana, (1966); Cambodia, (1969); Chile, (1973); and Haiti, (2004). This partial list does not include CIA counter-insurgency campaigns such as the attack on Cuba in 1961 and those in El Salvador and Nicaragua in 1981.
Accepting his Nobel Prize, British playwright Harold Pinter, noted: "The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror (it) inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven."
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