Crises in Iraq and Haiti Expose the Failure of Militarized Neoliberalism

October 12, 2019
Posted in Blog
October 12, 2019 Editor

Crises in Iraq and Haiti Expose the Failure of Militarized Neoliberalism

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It should be no surprise that the new governments installed by all these U.S. wars and coups are among the most corrupt regimes on earth. 

Published on Thursday, October 10, 2019 by Common Dreams

by Medea Benjamin and by Nicolas J S Davies

photo above: Not only are they reeling from protests against government corruption and austerity programs, like Ecuador and Algeria, but in both Haiti and Iraq, their corrupt neoliberal governments were imposed on them by the use of U.S. military force. (Photo: Iraqi Protesters/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

WN: “Militarized capitalism” is the preferred term of  Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass. I discuss their book in “Worried About Those Global Cyber Attacks? They Were Started by Washington.”

The article highlighted below is succinct and tragically accurate.

excerpts:

This season could be called the Autumn of Discontent, as people from the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean have been rising up against corrupt neoliberal governments. Two of the countries in crisis, Haiti and Iraq, are on opposite ends of the earth but have something important in common. Not only are they reeling from protests against government corruption and austerity programs, like Ecuador and Algeria, but in both Haiti and Iraq, their corrupt neoliberal governments were imposed on them by the use of U.S. military force.

In 2003 and 2004 respectively, U.S. forces illegally invaded Iraq and Haiti, removed their internationally recognized governments from power and replaced them with U.S.-backed regimes. Both countries have since been governed in line with the dominant neoliberal ideology that the U.S. and its allies have imposed on most of the world since the 1980s. The protests and savage repression in Iraq and Haiti today are only the latest evidence of the utter failure of neoliberalism and the extraordinary human cost of U.S. efforts to impose it by military force on countries that resist.

In the first week of October, more than 100 people were killed and 6,000 wounded in Baghdad, Nasiriyah and other Iraqi cities, as the Iraqi Army and police fired into large demonstrations. Young Iraqis have risen up against government corruption, unemployment and poverty that leaves them with dismal prospects, even as record oil production fills the pockets of the ruling elite in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Meanwhile, at least 17 people have been killed in the Haitian government’s repression of protests calling for the resignation of U.S.-backed President Juvenal Moise. Public anger has boiled over into the streets as Moise faces credible charges of embezzlement and corruption. His government has utterly failed to improve the lives of most Haitians. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with a per capita GDP of only $870 per year and 60% of the population living below a poverty line of $2.41 per day. 

In a Foreign Affairs article in January 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren explained how the U.S. “began to export a particular brand of capitalism, one that involved weak regulations, low taxes on the wealthy, and policies favoring multinational corporations. And the United States took on a series of seemingly endless wars, engaging in conflicts with mistaken or uncertain objectives and no obvious path to completion. The impact of these policy changes has been devastating.”

What Senator Warren skated over, without connecting the dots, was that the real objective of those wars, coups and other regime change operations was precisely to impose the “particular brand of capitalism” she described, and, if necessary, to do so by the illegal and deadly use of military force.[7]

U.S. officials of both major parties, from neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz to “humanitarian interventionists” like Madeleine Albright, peddled the simplistic notion that the U.S. war machine could be repurposed to impose neoliberalism by force on dissident countries around the world. Twenty years on, the results of those policies have been universally catastrophic.

Even in the U.S., at the very heart of the neoliberal empire, a new generation raised on the myths of neoliberalism now rejects its absurdities: trickle down economics; the magic of the market; union-busting; privatized healthcare and education; the best Congress money can buy; the shrinking middle class; the rampant destruction of the natural world; and so on.  As British economist J.M. Keynes reportedly said in the 1930s, “Laissez-faire capitalism is the absurd idea that the worst people, for the worst reasons, will do what is best for all of us.”

But as corrosive as neoliberalism has been to working people in the U.S., it has been far more destructive wherever the U.S. and its allies have tried to impose it by military force.

Neoliberalism Begets Resistance

Neoliberalism is an inherently corrupt system. It creates a vicious circle in which ruling classes can leverage their wealth to gain dominant political power and then use that power to cut taxes and rewrite laws to further enrich themselves. This is a powerful engine to generate ever more concentrated wealth and political power for the 1%, with impoverishment and political marginalization for everybody else.

Neoliberalism reduces politics mainly to a choice between politicians and parties who represent factions of the same corrupt ruling class, which retains a monopoly on power whichever party wins. But the fatal flaw in the neoliberal view of the world is the presumption that ruling classes can safely ignore the 99% of the population they disenfranchise, exploit or even kill.

This idea that only the elites in each country matter has led directly to the U.S. policy of “regime change,” in which leaders who resist neoliberalism are overthrown by whatever means necessary.  It should be no surprise that the new governments installed by all these U.S. wars and coups are among the most corrupt regimes on earth. 

But as U.S.-led occupation armies have discovered in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and as we can see right now in Iraq and Haiti, ordinary people still insist on having their say about the future of the world we all live in. U.S. policy is largely responsible for the life or death predicaments now facing young people in these countries, so they deserve our solidarity as they rise up to resist.

Nicolas J S Davies

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq and of the chapter on “Obama At War” in Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

 
  1. [2]“The hidden hand of the market,” [Thomas] Friedman notes in a particularly telling fragment, “will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglass, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps (The Lexus and the Olive Tree).” It continued:
    ‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.
  2. [1]Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
  3. [3]Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
  4. [5]
  5. [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  6. [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
  7. [7]“The hidden hand of the market,” [Thomas] Friedman notes in a particularly telling fragment, “will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglass, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps (The Lexus and the Olive Tree).”

Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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