By Steven Walker
Listening to Vice President Biden of the USA lecture Russia about National Sovereignty, Non-interference in adjacent countries' affairs and the right to self-determination must rank among the most breathtaking load of cant this century. Let's just take a small step back in time to see how American policy compares with Russia's current activity. In Latin America the USA has plenty of form in dealing with democratic governments that do not conform to what Capitalism wants.
Essentially, the post 2nd World War foreign policy USA has been to ensure that American Business is free to trade on its' terms anywhere in the Capitalist World. The government's job is to use military and economic measures to enable unfettered access to raw materials, food and especially oil. In practice this has meant supporting right-wing dictatorships hostile to Leftist parties trying to establish fairer distribution of wealth and greater democracy. When populist opposition reaches a critical point threatening right-wing militaristic regimes the USA is happy to sell the ruling juntas arms for use as instruments of political suppression. Countries that have attempted to reverse this pattern such as Guatemala and the Dominican Republic by electing leftist governments, are then squeezed economically and subverted by CIA-backed forces loyal to the former dictatorships.
Or the USA simply resorts to cultivating very friendly relationships with the military hierarchy and use them to overthrow a government that has not played ball with the USA. This is what happened in Indonesia in 1965 and Chile in 1973. As Noam Chomsky wrote in How The World Works, when describing the tactics used by successive American administrations to sustain Capitalist hegemony: "Keep good relations with the right military officers and they overthrow the government for you."
The Kennedy administration prepared the way for the 1964 military coup in Brazil, helping destroy Brazilian democracy which was becoming far too independent from American Business. The USA supported the coup while its military leaders developed a taste for torture, repression and the use of death squads to terrorize the population. Don't expect the inconvenience of a bloody political anniversary to take the sheen off the World Cup festivities 50 years later.
In El Salvador in the 1970's the USA became worried about the growth of populist organisations such as peasant associations, co-operatives, trades unions and faith groups concerned about poverty and the lack of democracy. The military junta running the country was buying arms from the USA on very favourable terms in exchange for snuffing out any hint of Leftist opposition. In 1980 the archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero begged USA President Carter not to keep sending arms to the military junta. A few weeks later Archbishop Romero was assassinated.
When the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza was overthrown by the Sandinistas in 1979 USA President Carter and then Reagan recruited the top military commanders of the former dictator, trained them with CIA advisors and re-branded them as Contras (freedom fighters). The Iran-Contra scandal, was a huge political scandal in the USA that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan Presidency senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which was meant to be the subject of an arms embargo because the USA was backing Saddam Hussain's Iraq war with Iran at the time.
The arms sales allowed U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Contras thereby helping American Arms Manufacturers while simultaneously undermining a Socialist government. Of course even though Saddam Hussein was trained and installed by the CIA as Iraq's President, he outlived his usefulness and inevitably was disposed of after the USA-led illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now American Business is in control of the oil wealth and making money on re-building what their military destroyed, while ignoring a country more unstable and unsafe since before the invasion.
In 1989, America invaded Panama, ruled by Manuel Noriega - another example of a ruthless dictator whose drug trafficking activities and murderous regime were tolerated by the USA as long as he continued to serve USA Business interests and ensuring that the Panama Canal remained open. In addition he was doing what the USA wanted in opposing the Sandinistas popular revolution with troops and munitions for the Contras while simultaneously brutally suppressing Leftist groups advocating fairer distribution of wealth and greater democracy.
The former British colony of Grenada was invaded by the USA in 1983. The pretext as so often used, was to bring order and stability to a country in turmoil and political uncertainty. There was a precarious situation developing soon after a Leftist revolutionary government began to disintegrate into factional bloodshed. However, the prospects of another Socialist government which would threaten American Business was not acceptable to the Reagan administration. The invasion was declared unacceptable by most Western countries, criticized by Margaret Thatcher and the United Nations General Assembly condemned it as "a flagrant violation of international law".