The Insatiable Empire

Friday, April 28, 2006

The insatiable Empire

I have been enjoying the back and forth regarding our Empire. In my last post on empire, Slicing up the Pie , Neil accused me of focusing only on the negative aspects of our foreign policy while ignoring the beneficial. Specifically he said I remember Teddy Roosevelt but forget Woodrow Wilson's defense of Self-Determination.

I didn't mention Wilson in the previous post, but I certainly could have included him. The man who entered us into World War I on the flimsiest of reasons was also a huge fan of the empire. Back in 1907, Woodrow Wilson had said in a lecture at Columbia University:

"Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the soveregnty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process…the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down." In his 1912 campaign he said: "Our domestic markets no longer suffice, we need foreign markets." In a memo to Bryan he described his aim as "an open door to the world," and in 1914 he said he supported "the righteous conquest of foreing markets."–Howard Zinn's a People's History

Wilson had nothing but contempt for other nations. They were markets to be exploited; those markets would be protected by U.S. force. Dissidents at home would be rounded up under the Espionage Act. Thus Woodrow Wilson effectively fought a war against self-determination both here and abroad. Breaking up unions and jailing union leaders for criticizing his war.

Actually in light of the recent immigrant debate, Wilson is a perfect president to discuss. Many of his interventions in Mexico still influence things today. Click here and you can see the effort by Wilson to deceive the American people about U.S. intervention in Mexico:

In 1916, Francisco Villa, leader of the peasant uprisings in northern Mexico, raided Columbus, New Mexico, in an attempt to expose Mexican government collaboration with the United States. President Woodrow Wilson responded by ordering an invasion of Mexico.

But the intervention and contempt for self-determination didn't end there:

Between 1914 and 1918, the United States intervened in Latin America, particularly in Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, and Panama. The U.S. maintained troops in Nicaragua throughout his administration and used them to select the president of Nicaragua and then to force Nicaragua to pass the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty. American troops in Haiti forced the Haitian legislature to choose the candidate Wilson selected as Haitian president.

Is this a man that believed in self-determination? Hardly. He was a capitalist bent on empire through and through. Capitalism is predicated on something that isn't possible in the real world: permanent growth. Once internal markets were saturated the natural choice for these men was to conquer foreign markets. It was U.S. marines who murdered Augusto Sandino and installed the butcher Somoza.

Contempt for self-determination is the irony of this great republic. In Vietnam's valiant step towads independence, Ho Chi Minh begins with the famous lines from our very own Declaration of Independence:

"All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

We intervened to crush their move toward self-determination. As we intervened in Iraq, Iraq, Italy, Greece, Indonesia, and throughout Africa, and South America. Wilson or Reagan, Republican or Democrat it hasn't seemed to matter much. Our quest for empire is real and not at all exaggerated.


Published in: on April 19, 2006 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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