• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

maandag 14 augustus 2017

Ian Buruma en 'het betrekkelijk goedaardige imperialisme uit Washington' 11


Opvallend is de continuïteit in de opvattingen van de westerse mainstream-opiniemaker. In The Guardian van dinsdag 16 juli 2002 beweerde de journalist Ian Buruma met grote stelligheid dat ‘it was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who fathered the League of Nations in a wildly idealistic attempt to secure world peace.’ Klopt het journalistieke cliché dat Woodrow Wilson druk doende is geweest met een ‘onstuimig idealistische poging om de wereldvrede te verzekeren’? Nee, geenszins; de feiten maken dit overduidelijk. Zo definieerde de Amerikaanse historicus Norman Gordon Levin in zijn boek Woodrow Wilson and World Politics (1970) Wilson’s doel als

[t]he attainment of a liberal capitalist world order under international law safe both from traditional imperialism and revolutionary socialism, within whose stable liberal confines a missionary America could find moral and economic pre-eminence.

Buruma weet kennelijk ook niet dat de Amerikaanse socioloog en historicus James W. Loewen in zijn 'National Bestseller,’ getiteld Lies My Teacher Told Me. Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong (1996), op het volgende heeft gewezen:

My students seldom know or speak about two antidemocratic policies that Wilson carried out: his racial segregation of the federal government and his military interventions in foreign countries. Under Wilson, the United States intervened in Latin America more often than at any other time in our history... In the summer of 1918 he authorized a naval blockade of the Soviet Union and sent expeditionary forces to Murmansk, Archangel, and Vladivostok to help overthrow the Russian Revolution.

Zelf verklaarde Wilson tijdens een college aan Columbia University in 1907:

Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down… Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

Loewen: 

With hindsight we know that Wilson's interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua set the stage for the dictators Batista, Trujillo, the Duvaliers, and Somozas, whose legacies still reverberate.

Wilson zond bovendien troepen naar Mexico om daar Amerikaanse investeringen veilig te stellen. Piero Gleijesus, hoogleraar aan de Johns Hopkins University en expert op het gebied van ‘US intervention in Latin America,’ schreef: 

It is not that Wilson failed in his earnest efforts to bring democracy to these little countries. He never tried. He intervened  to impose hegemony, not democracy. 

Opnieuw Loewen:

The United States also attacked Haiti's proud tradition of individual ownership of small tracts of land, which dated back to the Haitian Revolution, in favor of the establishment of large plantations. American troops forced peasants in shackles to work on road construction crews. In 1919 Haitian citizens rose up and resisted U.S. occupation troops in a guerrilla war that cost more than 3,000 lives, most of them Haitian [...] George Barnett, a U.S. marine general, complained to his commander in Haiti: ‘practically indiscriminate killing of natives has gone on for some time,'

hetgeen Loewen tot de conclusie voert dat Wilson's politiek in de praktijk gebaseerd was op drie keiharde feiten: 'colonialism, racism, and anticommunism.' Het was dezelfde Woodrow Wilson die

personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations... Wilson's legacy was extensive: he effectively closed the Democratic Party to African Americans for another two decades, and parts of the federal government remained segregated into the 1950s and beyond... Wilson was an outspoken white supremacist who believed that black people were inferior. During his campaign for the presidency, Wilson promised to press for civil rights. But once in office he forgot his promises. Instead, Wilson ordered that white and black workers in federal government jobs be segregated from one another... When black federal employees in Southern cities protested the order, Wilson had the protesters fired.

Bovendien stond de Amerikaanse president bekend als iemand die

displayed little regard for the rights of anyone whose opinions differed from his own... In fact Wilson tried to strengthen the Espionage Act with a provision giving broad censorship powers directly to the president. Moreover, with Wilson's approval, his postmaster general used his new censorship powers to suppress all mail that was socialist, anti-British, pro-Irish, or that in any other way might, in his view, have threatened the war effort. Robert Goldstein served three years in prison for producing The Spirit of '76, a film about the Revolutionary War that depicted the British, who were now our allies, unfavorably. Textbook authors suggest that wartime pressures excuse Wilson's suppression of civil liberties, but in 1920, when World War I was long over, Wilson vetoed a bill that would have abolished the Espionage and Sedition acts. Textbook authors blame the anticommunist and anti-labor union witch hunts of Wilsons's second term on his illness and on an attorney-general run amok. No evidence supports this view. Indeed, Attorney General Palmer asked Wilson in his last days as president to pardon Eugene V. Debs (presidentskandidaat voor de Socialistische Partij. svh), who was serving time for a speech attributing World War I to economic interests and denouncing the Espionage Act as undemocratic. The president replied ‘Never!’ and Debs languished in prison until Warren Harding pardoned him. 

De gerenommeerde Amerikaanse historicus Richard Hofstadter concludeerde dat

Roosevelt ever had deep faith in the United Nations as an agency of world peace is doubtful. His original and spontaneous reaction was to seek for peace and stability not through a general concert of all the nations but rather through a four-power establishment of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and China, which was to police the world... Rather than an overall world organization he favored regional organizations, which were to leave all questions of peace and security to the four great powers.

Op zijn beurt stelde de Amerikaanse emeritus hoogleraar Robert Langbaum dat de pedanterie van Woodrow Wilson:  

also stems from our wealth and fortunate geographical position, which has given us the idea that in international affairs we, unlike other nations, have no selfish interests. It stems from the essential American idea which, shaping our characters as well as our politics, has been the source of our greatness and our foolishness — the idea that our fate is not to be like that of other nations, that having started anew on a new continent we will avoid their mistakes and sins.

Langbaum geeft hiervan het volgende, zowel typerende als lachwekkende voorbeeld:

Lloyd George’s description, in his Memoirs of the Peace Conference, of Clemenceau opening 'his great eyes in twinkling wonder' over the 'idealistic President' who must really have 'regarded himself as a missionary whose function it was to rescue the poor European heathen from their age-long worship of false and fiery gods.' 'Wilson’s most extraordinary outburst was when he was developing some theme — I rather think it was connected with the League of Nations — which led him to explain the failure of Christianity to achieve its highest ideals. ‘Why,’ he said, ‘has Jesus Christ so far not succeeded in inducing the world to follow His teaching in these matters? It is because He taught the ideal without devising any practical means of attaining it. That is the reason why I am proposing a practical scheme to carry out His aims.’ Clemenceau slowly opened his dark eyes to their widest dimensions and swept them round the Assembly to see how the Christians gathered around the table enjoyed this exposure of the futility of their Master.'

De econoom, professor Yashpal Tandon concludeert op grond van eigen ervaringen en decennialange studie in zijn boek Trade is War. The West's War Against the World (2015):

One: The experience of Africa in relation to Europe shows that trade is only a soft word for war. Europe's threat to impose sanctions as its final weapon of 'persuasion' in the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement. svh) negotiations was an act of war…

Two: We are dealing here with embedded structures left behind in Africa by a hundred years of colonial rule. One would have thought that fifty years was enough to get rid of these structures…

Finally, without being reductionist, it would be correct to say that the war for access to resources is a key to understanding the West's strategy in the South. In the chapter on EPAs, I cited the authority of the historian Robert Skidelsky to show how the US and Britain were vying for African resources in the period after the Second World War. I also showed how Europe is twisting the arm of African states to sign EPAs in order to have access to Africa's commodity resources for European industries. The resource war is part of the trade war. 

Today five billion people, arguably all in the South, starve so that a billion may live in comfort. It is odd that mainstream economics quote figures of 'growth' and prosperity even as the system of capitalism-imperialism is facing what looks like an epochal crisis. This is yet another example of the state of denial under which the West continues to pursue its relentless imperial hostilities all over the world. Could it be that the West needs wars to boost its arms industry in order to generate the 'growth' their economists talk about? What is known as military Keynesianism has its theorists — including, somewhat surprisingly, the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman. According to Neo-Keynesians, the United States was pulled out of the Great Depression of the 1930s by, among other events, the Second World War, and then following that, the Korean War (1950-53). They argue that wartime production increased aggregate demand, thus restoring the nation to prosperity. 

It is no wonder, then, that there are 'revisionist nations' — which includes, broadly, the whole of the Global South — that want to change the world. 

Deze constatering toont aan wat de concrete consequentie is van Woodrow Wilson opmerking, meer dan een eeuw eerder, dat ‘[s]ince trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed must be battered down.’ Door de geschiedenis heen is oorlog om grondstoffen altijd onderdeel geweest van de handelsoorlog. Dit feit demonstreert tevens dat Ian Buruma’s bewering dat ‘Woodrow Wilson’ druk doende zou zijn geweest met ‘a wildly idealistic attempt to secure world peace’ slechts de propagandistische visie is van een ideologisch gemotiveerde journalist, wiens ambitie een grotere drijfveer is dan zijn verlangen de werkelijkheid te beschrijven. De Oegandese politiek actieve intellectueel Tandon stelt, vanuit een brede ervaring van binnen uit, het volgende daar tegenover:

the West, despite the endless rhetoric about 'development,' has no interest in the development of the rest of the world and is in fact in a relentless 'war' against it. If the rest of the world develops, it is through their own persistent struggle to carve out a space for themselves. The West's chosen instruments of domination are aid, trade, investment, and technology.

Kortom, Buruma’s voorstelling van zaken — ‘a wildly idealistic attempt to secure world peace’ — is slechts propaganda die, net als alle propaganda, gebaseerd is op een leugen, ‘even when it is telling the truth,’ zoals George Orwell heeft benadrukt. Maar voor de opportunist is die leugen nodig om aanzien te verwerven, aangezien de macht geen kritiek duldt, nooit, in welke systeem dan ook. De dissident wordt overal en altijd gehaat. De macht is per definitie totalitair, de rest is mythe. James Baldwin wees er terecht op dat ‘[w]hat passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one's heroic ancestors.’ Hier naderen we de kern van het probleem waarmee de witte westerse opiniemaker worstelt, hij weet dat de universele rechten van de mens geenszins universeel zijn. Sterker nog: hij weet dat de geclaimde rechten van de westerse mens alleen te verwezenlijken zijn ten koste van de overgrote meerderheid van de wereldbevolking. Hij weet tevens dat zijn propaganda een leugen is. Desalniettemin negeert een mainstream-opiniemaker als Buruma de feiten. Bovendien ziet hij zich verplicht het werk van de grote denkers en auteurs te loochenen. Het tragische aspect hierbij is dat hij zowel wil doorgaan voor een intellectueel als voor een opiniemaker van de mainstream. Die rol is onmogelijk, aangezien een opiniemaker van de commerciële pers als belangrijkste taak heeft een zo groot mogelijk publiek te behagen. Hoe hoger namelijk de oplage des te meer winst voor zijn opdrachtgever. Ondertussen wordt de opiniemaker net als de politicus meer en meer gewantrouwd door een almaar groeiende groep burgers. ‘Punditti,’ noemde de Amerikaanse auteur Norman Mailer de praatjesmakers. ‘Pundits’ en ‘Bandits.’ De Britse auteur John Berger wees erop dat:

[p]eople everywhere -- under very different conditions -- are asking themselves -- where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible vision of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime? 

The well-heeled experts answer: Globalization. Post-Modernism. Communications Revolution. Economic Liberalism. The terms are tautological and evasive. To the anguished question of Where are we? the experts murmur: Nowhere! 

Might it not be better to see and declare that we are living through the most tyrannical -- because the most pervasive -- chaos that has ever existed? It's not easy to grasp the nature of the tyranny, for its power structure (ranging from the 200 largest multinational corporations to the Pentagon) is interlocking and diffuse, dictatorial yet anonymous, ubiquitous yet placeless. It tyrannizes from offshore -- not only in terms of fiscal law, but in terms of any political control beyond its own. Its aim to delocalize the entire world. It's ideological strategy -- besides which Bin Laden's is a fairy tale -- is to undermine the extent so that everything collapses into its special version of the virtual, from the realm of which -- and this is the tyranny's credo -- there will be a never-ending source of profit.

Binnen dit ‘Nowhere,’ die angstaanjagende leegte, functioneert de opiniemaker als een valse profeet, als propagandist van de maniakaal geworden macht. Het enige fatsoenlijke dat de mens nu kan doen is in verzet komen tegen de doodsdrift van het technologisch geavanceerde neoliberalisme, dat voor onze ogen in alle openheid een nieuwe wereldoorlog voorbereidt. In zijn essaybundel Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance (2008) vat Berger die vervreemdende leegte als volgt samen:

The key term of the present global chaos is de- or relocalization. This does not only refer to the practice of moving production to wherever labour is the cheapest and regulations minimal. It also contains the offshore demented dream of the ongoing power: the dream of undermining the status and confidence of all previous fixed places, so that the entire world becomes a single fluid market.

The consumer is essentially somebody who feels or is made to feel, lost, unless he or she is consuming. Brand names and logos become the place names of the Nowhere.

De westerling is verloren geraakt in het  onbegrensde ‘nergens,’ en hij weet dat hij meegesleurd wordt door de doodsdrift van de macht. In Massa & Macht (1960) zette Nobelprijswinnaar Elias Canetti uiteen dat

Men zich niet [kan] onttrekken aan het vermoeden dat achter elke paranoia, zoals achter elke macht, dezelfde diepere tendens schuil gaat: de wens de anderen uit de weg te ruimen, om de enige te zijn of, in de mildere en vaak toegegeven vorm, de wens zich van de anderen te bedienen, zodat men met hun hulp de enige wordt.

Over de machtige zelf schreef Canetti, die als Sefardische jood voor de nazi’s moest vluchten:

Of hij al dan niet metterdaad door vijanden wordt belaagd, altijd zal hij een gevoel hebben bedreigd te zijn. De gevaarlijkste dreiging gaat uit van zijn eigen mensen, die hij altijd beveelt, die in zijn naaste omgeving verkeren, die hem goed kennen. Het middel tot zijn bevrijding, waarnaar hij niet zonder aarzeling grijpt maar waarvan hij geenszins geheel afziet, is het plotselinge bevel tot massadood. Hij begint een oorlog en stuurt zijn mensen naar de plaatsen waar ze moeten doden. Velen van hen zullen daarbij zelf omkomen. Hij zal er niet rouwig om zijn. Hoe hij zich naar buiten toe ook mag voordoen, het is een diepe en verborgen noodzaak voor hem dat ook de gelederen van zijn eigen mensen uitgedund worden.

Canetti, die de ‘dood als dreiging de munt van de macht’ beschouwde, stelde naar aanleiding van het verraad van Flavius Josephus, de auteur van De Joodse oorlog:

Het bedrog is volkomen. Het is het bedrog van alle leiders. Zij doen het zo voorkomen alsof zij hun mensen in de dood voorgaan. In werkelijkheid echter sturen ze hen vooruit de dood in, om zelf langer in leven te blijven. De list is altijd dezelfde. De leider wil overleven; daaruit put hij zijn kracht. Als hij vijanden heeft om te overleven is het goed; zo niet, dan heeft hij eigen mensen. In elk geval gebruikt hij beiden, afwisselend of tegelijkertijd. De vijanden gebruikt hij openlijk, daar zijn ze immers vijanden voor. Zijn eigen mensen kan hij slechts verkapt gebruiken.

Vandaar de absolute noodzaak van holle woorden en behaagzieke formuleringen van hedendaagse opiniemakers die als ‘hollow men’ blijven herhalen dat de macht ‘in a wildly idealistic attempt’ tracht ‘to secure world peace,’ terwijl ondertussen astronomisch hoge bedragen besteed worden aan de voorbereidingen of uitvoering van nieuw massaal geweld, hetgeen nogmaals bevestigt hoe juist T.S. Elliot’s besef was dat 

Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow

Wij worden beheerst door ‘The Horror’ van de ontzielden, die ons proberen wijs te maken dat zij het wiel opnieuw hebben uitgevonden. Over een belangrijke oorzaak van de Amerikaanse hybris zei de Amerikaanse filmregisseur Quentin Tarantino in 2013 

I think America is one of the only countries that has not been forced, sometimes by the rest of the world, to look their own past sins completely in the face. And it’s only by looking them in the face that you can possibly work past them. And it’s not a case where the Turks don’t want to acknowledge the Armenian holocaust, but the Armenians do. Nobody wants to acknowledge it here…

If there were a Nuremberg trial, he (Tarantino. svh) says in the same interview, then D. W. Griffith, the director of The Birth of a Nation (1915) — the silent film that inspired the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan — would be judged guilty of war crimes. And The Clansman (1905) — the book by Thomas Dixon on which that film was based — can for Tarantino ‘only stand next to Mein Kampf when it comes to its ugly imagery… it is evil. And I don’t use that word lightly.’
Susan Neiman. History and guilt. Can America face up to the terrible reality of slavery in the way that Germany has faced up to the Holocaust? 2013

Tenslotte nog dit: tekenend voor Woodrow Wilson is het volgende:

Woodrow Wilson believed in segregation. In fact, he allowed his cabinet officials to expand segregation within government departments in ways that hadn't been allowed since the end of the Civil War. Wilson supported D. W. Griffith's film 'The Birth of a Nation' which even included the following quote from his book, 'History of the American People': 'The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation... until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.’

D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film The Birth of a Nation, inspired by and adapted, in part, from Thomas Dixon Jr.’s novel The Clansman, was the prototype for the filmic celebrations of American vigilante violence.

President Woodrow Wilson held a screening of The Birth of a Nation. It was the first motion picture shown at the White House. Wilson praised Griffith’s portrayal of savage, animalistic black men — portrayed by white actors in blackface — humiliating noble Southern men and carrying out sexual assaults on white women. ‘It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true,’ Wilson reportedly said. The film swept the nation. White audiences, including in the North, cheered the white vigilantes. The ranks of the Ku Klux Klan exploded by a few million following the film’s release.

The really rapid growth of the Klan did not occur in the early years when The Birth of a Nation was at the peak of its influence and availability. By 1919, the Klan had only a few thousand members. Not until the summer of 1920 [five years after the film’s release] . . . did the real expansion of the Klan begin. By the summer of 1921, it had around 100,000 members. . . . By the middle years of the 1920s, the Klan, according to Nancy Maclean, may have reached a peak of 5 million members spread across the nation. . . . It is impossible to say with any certainty what the precise role of The Birth of a Nation was in encouraging this increase; but as African-American scholar Lawrence Reddick noted in 1944, ‘Its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan was at least one factor which enabled the Klan to enter upon its period of greatest expansion.’ James Baldwin called the film ‘an elaborate justification of mass murder.’

Dit is het ware gezicht van Woodrow Wilson, de president die zich als idealist, volgens Ian Buruma, zou hebben ingespannen om de ‘wereldvrede’ te ‘verzekeren.’ Nooit zal de mainstream-opiniemaker in staat zijn te beseffen wat T.S. Eliot in zijn gedicht 'The Hollow Men' wel wist:

    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow
                                   For Thine is the Kingdom






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