Friday, June 21, 2013

Trapped Inside the Oval Office, Part 3

Trey Smith

The U.S. Executive Branch agencies that conduct U.S. foreign military and domestic police operations - the White House, National Security Council, Pentagon, CIA, Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, National Security Agency and FBI - have an overall budget of well over $1 trillion, employ 3-4 million people, and spend more money on the military than the next 10 nations combined. Its enormous power has allowed it to operate unilaterally since the end of WWII, with little meaningful oversight or even the knowledge of Congress and the American people.

The Executive has had one overriding purpose since it emerged from the ashes of World War II: to keep foreign governments deemed "pro-U.S." in power, and to weaken or overthrow those considered "anti-U.S." The first key feature of a "pro-U.S." government is that it permits U.S. corporations and Wall Street investors access to its natural resources and cheap labor. As former Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan stated, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." The second is that it allows the U.S. military and spy agencies to operate freely in its territory, including building military bases and conducting clandestine operations.

While convincing its own people that its policies are meant to support “freedom” and “democracy” around the world, its practice has often been exactly the opposite. It has installed and/or supported dozens of brutal, police-state regimes and paramilitary forces in every corner of the globe which are the very antithesis of democracy – including the Somoza family (1936-79) and then Contras in Nicaragua (1980s); death squads in El Salvador (1980s); vicious military regimes in Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil in Latin America from WWII until the 1990s; the Mobutu (1965-97) and South African apartheid regimes (until 1990) in Africa; police-state and military governments in South Vietnam (1956-75), Cambodia (1970-5) and Indonesia (1967 until the present); and the despotic regimes of Mubarak in Egypt (1981-2011), Ben Ali in Tunisia (1987-2011), the Shah of Iran (1952-79), Saudi Arabia (1945-present), and Bahraini (1971-present) in the Middle East. It has also supported the Israeli government’s mistreatment of the Palestinians and refusal to negotiate a settlement based on countless U.N. resolutions.

In general the U.S. Executive prefers to achieve its goals without overt violence. As President Bill Clinton himself later acknowledged with regard to Haiti, for example, his Administration's "free trade" policies featuring NAFTA and the World Trade Organization impoverished hundreds of millions of poor rural and slum dwellers around the world by giving U.S. corporations unprecedented access to Third World markets and labor, and extending loans that enriched local elites while forcing the population as a whole to repay them by cutting health, education and other social services.

But when such nonviolent means have not sufficed to fulfill Executive Branch aims, it has ruthlessly used massive violence to achieve its goals - from dropping 6.7 million tons of bombs on Indochina and invading it with 550,000 troops; imposing and supporting brutal police-state regimes around the world; and, more recently, relying on drone and ground assassination.
~ from America's Most Anti-Democratic Institution: How the Imperial Presidency Threatens U.S. National Security, by Fred Branfman ~
As I have pointed out again and again to readers, if you want to know WHY government does anything these days, you simply need to follow the money. This may sound simplistic, but economics generally explains the chief motivation. In this case, as Branfman notes, we're talking about a staggering amount of taxpayer dollars per year: over $1,000,000,000,000.

If you happen to be on the receiving end of a portion of this largess, wouldn't you be willing to do or say just about a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g to insure that the spigot is not turn off or even decreased by a smidge? The perception of threat is like having a hen that lays golden eggs! The more threat you can conjure up, the more eggs the hen lays.

And that is why this whole situation is so pernicious. It is not about security. It is not about safety. It is not about freedom. It certainly isn't about democracy. No, the driving force behind all this death, destruction, intimidation and the evisceration of human and civil rights is about GREED. It is about a very small cadre of individuals who lust after more wealth, more power and more control.

I'm serious. If you boil everything down, the rationale is as old as the hills. The rich and powerful want to become richer and more powerful. Anything and anyone who they perceive to be standing in their way is expendable. 

This post is part of a miniseries: Part 1 & Part 2.

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