Volume 2 ● Number 4 ● Autumn 2000—Terrorism: Image and Reality
Unfair to America
The articles in that issue were very readable and addressed real and practical issues in a helpful way. However, there was one, “UN Reform: Addressing the Reality of American Power” [by Geoff Simons], which I found deeply disappointing because of its completely one‑sided and therefore unfair presentation of United States policy and practice with regard to the international community. I was particularly dismayed at the casual charges of genocide (Cuba, Iraq, Korea) which not only undermined the credibility of the article but were offensive to those peoples who have been victims of the real thing.
We all know that US foreign policy has many times been deeply flawed, not to say, on occasion, somewhat childish, but that is far from the full story. I do not know what the author’s motives were in writing such a slanted account but surely he cannot have expected it to influence the American people and government into adopting more enlightened behaviour. My experience of human nature, which I assume is not unique, whether it be with regard to raising children, or dealing with individual adults, or reviewing the interactions of states in history, is that speaking unjustly to or of them is not going to result in improved behaviour; on the contrary, it is likely to cause anger and even worse behaviour. What does have a chance of improving behaviour is fair and objective comment with particular, but not exclusive, emphasis on encouraging the positive aspects of the individual or nation in question.
In my view the article would have been vastly more useful if, as background to the list provided of US foreign policy flaws, it had made at least minimal reference to:
• The many vital contributions that the American people and their democratically elected government have made to the promotion of world peace, both in the last decade and in this century as a whole.
• The fact that in this regard the US record is certainly better than that of other major powers (including the other permanent members of the UN Security Council) and that it is only bettered by those of a handful of relatively minor (democratic) nations.
• That not all the failures listed are of equal weight, and that they range from those that are clearly of great significance and therefore highly deplorable, to those that are minor and of a technical nature only.
• That a distinction should be made between the activities of the executive and legislative branches of the US government.
• That some of the offences arose when the US government was dealing with utterly unscrupulous and thuggish authoritarian regimes and had to make a choice (perhaps questionable on occasion) between two evils.
The United States has a remarkable, and indeed in my view (I am not an American), unique inheritance of idealism and good works which, when encouraged and functioning properly, could make America the true leader of nations in achieving a lasting peace with the enthusiastic support of the peoples of the world. Hints of such hope are indicated in that informative article “The Myth of American Rejectionism” [by Steven Kull, Clay Ramsay and Phillip Warf], which is also included in your spring 2000 issue. The challenge is to motivate the American people to be more true to their “spiritual” inheritance.
He is dismayed at my “casual charges of genocide”. Is it casual to quote an American academic referring to the “oceans of napalm” deliberately used by the United States to incinerate two million Korean civilians? Is it casual to cite US legislation designed to block Cuban access to food, to block Cuban access to cancer drugs for dying children? Is it casual to quote the Unicef-approved figure of 878,856 Iraqi children killed by economic sanctions imposed by a US-dominated Security Council?
Mr Huddleston is right to remember other genocides. But is he aware of American complicity in the Holocaust?
In Mein Kampf (Hutchinson edition, p. 583) Adolf Hitler praised Henry Ford for his avowed racism. Wall Street helped Hitler to power (Antony C. Sutton, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, 1976) and throughout the Second World War, US corporations (ITT, Standard Oil, Ford, etc.) continued to supply Nazi Germany (Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy, 1983). After the war the United States gave sanctuary to many Nazi mass murderers, including ones from Adolf Eichmann’s SS section Amt IV B 4 (Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War, 1988).
During the Rwandan genocide the United States refused to use the very word lest Washington be forced to act.
Mr Huddleston’s basic confusion derives from his fantasy that the United States is a humane democracy. It is a plutocracy that shapes foreign policy in the cynical calculation of elitist commercial advantage. There can be no international peace where a relatively small plutocratic elite, backed by unassailable military power, continues to plunder the world.