News and opinions on situation in Venezuela
20/9/04 Karl B. Koth: Rapprochement or truce with the USA is impossible! commentarist Karl B. Koth writes: Scarcely two weeks after President Chavez … fresh from victory in the referendum … welcomed the new US ambassador to Venezuela with words intimating he would seek a rapprochement with them, did George W. Bush begin a new series of accusations against the Venezuelan government. This time it was over alleged trafficking of women as sex slaves.

Since that matter has been dealt with elsewhere in VHeadline, I won't belabor readers with a rebuttal. But Bush's allegations coming on the heel of the recall referendum victory vividly demonstrate a significant impediment in dealing with the United States: it is that a rapprochement or truce with the USA is IMPOSSIBLE. Here's why!

Has US Foreign Policy Changed?

A few days ago, I read a very heart-rending article from a US journalist, Georgie Anne Geyer. Facing the 3rd anniversary of the horrors at the World Trade Center, she posed what she described as a “…deeper and endlessly haunting question: Have we changed as a people so as to be willing, as the polls show us, to re-elect men and women who have misled us and lied to us every step of the way?”

She then went on to ask why the United States has changed “…our mission of being an example to mankind to becoming its emperor?”

I can well appreciate her anguish, disappointment, and disgust. For years she, and many of us, had taken the trumpeted moral position of the United States seriously. Here was a country that really wished to improve the lot of the poor of the world, which genuinely believed in democracy and freedom, and which would stand up to tyrants and miscreants of all ideologies.

My heart goes out to Georgie Geyer and the many good people in the US who genuinely deplore what their country has come to; who negate the lying, mean-spirited machinations of a small clique in control of the White House, and who do their best in myriads of ways to counteract this new monster. For she might well have asked, (quoting Yeats), “what rough beast … slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

So what went wrong?

First, one must counter her suggestion that there is something new about US policies; that the US had changed for the worse. To the contrary, I believe that the headline to this article best describes a situation that an increasingly awake world is becoming aware of: that the United States was NEVER the idealistic and benevolent nation it purported to be.

Instead … but behind the mask of rhetoric … it was always bent on the domination of the world, in one way or another, by calumny or by force. It cares not to make the world “safe for democracy” but “safe” only for the United States, or rather, its ruling clique, its plutocracy.

Democracy and freedom mean the right of the US to force business and policies on its own terms, in any country, at any time, and in whichever way it sees fit.

The only difference now, is that for the first time in history it has blatantly stated what its real policy is: to intervene with preemptive strikes against any nation it SUSPECTS of being a threat! The danger and irresponsibility of such a policy needs no comment.

The Golden Opportunity that was!

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall was torn down, and again in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States was at a point where it could have made these principles, if not immediately accepted, at least appear to be sacrosanct. Here was the golden opportunity for that country to seize the day, to hold out the hope of mankind for a better world. All it had to do was to act selflessly, honestly, and in accord with the principles it had always espoused. For its real interests were not at stake. There was no one around to even remotely threaten its borders, its trade or political system. It could have had the world in its hand! It would have been admired by all.

Instead, it used the moral authority gained from participation in World War II to replace European imperialism with its own brand. I don't remember to whom one may attribute the quotation; but there certainly was never a more apt description of the foreign policy of the United States, since its foundation.

Consistently, it has operated on the principle that the whole world must be made to serve the interests of its people, and that no one else counts.

Or, let me be more specific: other peoples and nations only count in so far as they can be made or bought to serve the interests of the United States, which, as former president Calvin Coolidge once defined it, is pure and simple “business.”

Furthermore, there is no deceit, no lie, no violence that it will not commit in order to further this goal. Quite the contrary! It can and has broached almost all sane, logical, decent, legal and principled positions in order to increase its power and line its pockets. All one has to do is listen to Attila-the-Hun-Cheyne, (dressed in drag?) with his lies and his use of terror tactics.

What can we expect from the USA?

So what can one expect from a country, which has never operated on any principle, save the Main Chance? Nothing honorable or fair, to be sure. While it touts “democracy” it has embraced the most tyrannous nations on this earth. And while it constantly invokes “freedom” it has never hesitated to remove democratically elected governments, only because they were not willing to be US pawns.

As the following list tends to suggest, the US has and will stoop to the dirtiest and most illegal of practices to get its way. I don't have the space to list all the misdeeds of the USA, but here is a sampling. Besides the illegal invasion of Iraq last year (Kofi Annan):

1) After the Spanish American War the US trampled the democratic and civil rights of Filipinos causing the deaths of 16,000 Filipino and over 4000 US soldiers, and over 200,000 civilian deaths. Then, after WWII, the CIA subverted elections resulting in the brutal dictatorship of Marcos;

2) Edwin Black, in IBM and the Holocaust, shows the complicity of that US firm with furnishing the Gestapo with the means to hunt down and murder Jews;

3) Leading Nazis were protected in the US after the war as Norman J. W. Goda, an Ohio University historian, shows by analyzing myriads of pages from the FBI, CIA and the US Army archives, in a new book, U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis;

4) Chalmers Johnson has reported on the 700, yes, seven hundred military bases the US maintains world wide so as to ensure its domination;

5) Michelle Goldberg, writing in Salon (”Outlawing Dissent”), shows how US agencies spy on peace meetings, crack down on protesters and keep secret files on innocent people — how Bush's war on terror has become a war on freedom

6) the US is the only nation to have been declared a terrorist state by the United Nations and the World Court;

7) the systematic development and use by the CIA of torture is discussed in a new book by Alfred W. McKoy;

8) the US has bombed 22 different countries since WW II;

9) it has tortured children, women and men in Iraq since the illegal invasion, and consistently murders civilians through “targeted” bombing.

What should Venezuela do?

In his latest attack on Venezuela, George W. Bush has demonstrated the continuation of these questionable and ubiquitous policies. President Hugo Chavez' intention … during his current trip to the US, to seek a truce with the United States … must, therefore, be considered in this context.

If the US halts its clandestine and illegitimate financial support of the Venezuelan opposition … and if it puts and end to attempts to remove the constitutionally-elected President of Venezuela, this will be only for the time being.

Truces are, historically, tactics to gain time. If the US extends a truce to Venezuela, it will be because it is too busy elsewhere: not because it has reconsidered anything.

So, don't expect the truce to last … and if Venezuela seeks and achieves a truce, it should be for tactical purposes, to gain time to implement the humanitarian and social policies that have characterized his government.

And for time to arm itself!

For in effect, there is only one way in which to counteract the intransigence of a terrorist USA … and that way is to continue to forge Venezuela's independence in realistic terms.

Venezuela should continue to extend regional trade reciprocity with its neighbors through MERCOSUR. In this respect Brazilian President Lula's call to his businessmen to invest in Venezuela is welcome.

But Venezuela should also arm itself to the teeth … and with the most modern weapons … displaying a readiness to fight to the finish. In other words, it must ensure that it would be too expensive for the US to attack it physically.

For really, there is no other way to counteract and to fight the greedy monster from the north. Truces and rapprochements are improbable delusions.

Dr. Karl B. Koth

Dr. Karl B. Koth is former professor of Latin American History at Okanagan University College in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. He is the author of Waking the Dictator: Veracruz, the Struggle for Federalism, and the Mexican Revolution, 1870-1927, Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press, 2002. He divides his time between Canada and Brazil.

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