International Endowment for Democracy
www.internationalendowmentfordemocracy.org or www.iefd.org

Against Empire

Chapter 3: Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?

By Michael Parenti

Today, the United States is the foremost proponent of recolonization and leading antagonist of revolutionary change throughout the world. Emerging from World War II relatively unscathed and superior to all other industrial countries in wealth, productive capacity, and armed might, the United States became the prime purveyor and guardian of global capitalism. Judging by the size of its financial investments and military force, judging by every imperialist standard except direct colonization, the U.S. empire is the most formidable in history, far greater than Great Britain in the nineteenth century or Rome during antiquity.

A Global Military Empire

The exercise of U.S. power is intended to preserve not only the international capitalist system but U.S. hegemony of that system. The Pentagon's "Defense Planning Guidance" draft (1992) urges the United States to continue to dominate the international system by "discouraging the advanced industrialized nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger global or regional role." By maintaining this dominance, the Pentagon analysts assert, the United States can insure "a market-oriented zone of peace and prosperity that encompasses more than two- thirds of the world's economy".

This global power is immensely costly. Today, the United States spends more on military arms and other forms of "national security" than the rest of the world combined. U.S. leaders preside over a global military apparatus of a magnitude never before seen in human history. In 1993 it included almost a half- million troops stationed at over 395 major military bases and hundreds of minor installations in thirty-five foreign countries, and a fleet larger in total tonnage and firepower than all the other navies of the world combined, consisting of missile cruisers, nuclear submarines, nuclear aircraft carriers, destroyers, and spy ships that sail every ocean and make port on every continent. U.S. bomber squadrons and long-range missiles can reach any target, carrying enough explosive force to destroy entire countries with an overkill capacity of more than 8,000 strategic nuclear weapons and 22,000 tactical ones. U.S. rapid deployment forces have a firepower in conventional weaponry vastly superior to any other nation's, with an ability to slaughter with impunity—as the massacre of Iraq demonstrated in 1990-91.

Since World War II, the U.S. government has given more than $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in more than eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of domestic anti-capitalist insurgency. Among the recipients have been some of the most notorious military autocracies in history, countries that have tortured, killed or otherwise maltreated large numbers of their citizens because of their dissenting political views, as in Turkey, Zaire, Chad, Pakistan, Morocco, Indonesia, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Cuba (under Batista), Nicaragua (under Somoza), Iran (under the Shah), the Philippines (under Marcos), and Portugal (under Salazar).

U.S. leaders profess a dedication to democracy. Yet over the past five decades, democratically elected reformist governments in Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Syria, Indonesia (under Sukarno), Greece, Argentina, Bolivia, Haiti, and numerous other nations were overthrown by pro-capitalist militaries that were funded and aided by the U.S. national security state.

The U.S. national security state has participated in covert actions or proxy mercenary wars against revolutionary governments in Cuba, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Portugal, Nicaragua, Cambodia, East Timor, Western Sahara, and elsewhere, usually with dreadful devastation and loss of life for the indigenous populations. Hostile actions have been directed against reformist governments in Egypt, Lebanon, Peru, Iran, Syria, Zaire, Jamaica, South Yemen, the Fiji Islands, and elsewhere.

Since World War II, U.S. forces have directly invaded or launched aerial attacks against Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Libya, Iraq, and Somalia, sowing varying degrees of death and destruction.

Before World War II, U.S. military forces waged a bloody and protracted war of conquest in the Philippines in 1899-1903. Along with fourteen other capitalist nations, the United States invaded socialist Russia in 1918-21. U.S. expeditionary forces fought in China along with other Western armies to suppress the Boxer Rebellion and keep the Chinese under the heel of European and North American colonizers. U.S. Marines invaded and occupied Nicaragua in 1912 and again in 1926 to 1933; Cuba, 1898 to 1902; Mexico, 1914 and 1916; Honduras, six invasions between 1911 to 1925; Panama, 1903-1914, and Haiti, 1915 to 1934.

Why Intervention?

Why has a professedly peace-loving, democratic nation found it necessary to use so much violence and repression against so many peoples in so many places? An important goal of U.S. policy is to make the world safe for the Fortune 500 and its global system of capital accumulation. Governments that strive for any kind of economic independence or any sort of populist redistributive politics, who have sought to take some of their economic surplus and apply it to not-for-profit services that benefit the people—such governments are the ones most likely to feel the wrath of U.S. intervention or invasion.

The designated "enemy" can be a reformist, populist, military government as in Panama under Torrijo (and even under Noriega), Egypt under Nasser, Peru under Velasco, and Portugal under the MFA; a Christian socialist government as in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas; a social democracy as in Chile under Allende, Jamaica under Manley, Greece under Papandreou, and the Dominican Republic under Bosch; a Marxist-Leninist government as in Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea; an Islamic revolutionary order as in Libya under Qaddafi; or even a conservative militarist regime as in Iraq under Saddam Hussein—if it should get out of line on oil prices and oil quotas.

The public record shows that the United States is the foremost interventionist power in the world. There are varied and overlapping reasons for this:

Protect Direct Investments. In 1907, Woodrow Wilson recognized the support role played by the capitalist state on behalf of private capital:

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 against him 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.

Later, as president of the United States, Wilson noted that the United States was involved in a struggle to "command the economic fortunes of the world."

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large U.S. investments in Central America and the Caribbean brought frequent military intercession, protracted war, prolonged occupation, or even direct territorial acquisition, as with Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Panama Canal Zone. The investments were often in the natural resources of the country: sugar, tobacco, cotton, and precious metals. In large part, the interventions in the Gulf in 1991 (see chapter six) and in Somalia in 1993 (chapter seven) were respectively to protect oil profits and oil prospects.

In the post cold-war era, Admiral Charles Larson noted that, although U.S. military forces have been reduced in some parts of the world, they remain at impressive levels in the Asia-Pacific area because U.S. trade in that region is greater than with either Europe or Latin America. Naval expert Charles Meconis also pointed to "the economic importance of the region" as the reason for a major U.S. military presence in the Pacific (see Daniel Schirmer, Monthly Review, July/August 1994). In these instances, the sword follows the dollar.

Create Opportunities for New Investments. Sometimes the dollar follows the sword, as when military power creates opportunities for new investments. Thus, in 1915, U.S. leaders, citing "political instability," invaded Haiti and crushed the popular militia. The troops stayed for nineteen years. During that period French, German, and British investors were pushed out and U.S. firms tripled their investments in Haiti.

More recently, Taiwanese companies gave preference to U.S. firms over Japanese ones because the U.S. military was protecting Taiwan. In 1993, Saudi Arabia signed a $6 billion contract for jet airliners exclusively with U.S. firms. Having been frozen out of the deal, a European consortium charged that Washington had pressured the Saudis, who had become reliant on Washington for their military security in the post-Gulf War era.

Preserving Politico-Economic Domination and the International Capital Accumulation System. Specific investments are not the only imperialist concern. There is the overall commitment to safeguarding the global class system, keeping the world's land, labor, natural resources, and markets accessible to transnational investors. More important than particular holdings is the whole process of investment and profit. To defend that process the imperialist state thwarts and crushes those popular movements that attempt any kind of redistributive politics, sending a message to them and others that if they try to better themselves by infringing upon the prerogatives of corporate capital, they will pay a severe price.

In two of the most notable U.S. military interventions, Soviet Russia in 1918-20 and Vietnam in 1954-73, most of the investments were European, not American. In these and other such instances, the intent was to prevent the emergence of competing social orders and obliterate all workable alternatives to the capitalist client-state. That remains the goal to this day. The countries most recently targeted being South Yemen, North Korea, and Cuba.

Ronald Reagan was right when he avowed that his invasion of Grenada was not to protect the U.S. nutmeg supply. There was plenty of nutmeg to be got from Africa. He was acknowledging that Grenada's natural resources were not crucial. Nor would the revolutionary collectivization of a poor nation of 102,000 souls represent much of a threat or investment loss to global capitalism. But if enough countries follow that course, it eventually would put the global capitalist system at risk.

Reagan's invasion of Grenada served notice to all other Caribbean countries that this was the fate that awaited any nation that sought to get out from under its client-state status. So the invaders put an end to the New Jewel Movement's revolutionary programs for land reform, health care, education, and cooperatives. Today, with its unemployment at new heights and its poverty at new depths, Grenada is once again firmly bound to the free market world. Everyone else in the region indeed has taken note.

The imperialist state's first concern is not to protect the direct investments of any particular company, although it sometimes does that, but to protect the global system of private accumulation from competing systems. The case of Cuba illustrates this point. It has been pointed out that Washington's embargo against Cuba is shutting out U.S. business from billions of dollars of attractive investment and trade opportunities. From this it is mistakenly concluded that U.S. policy is not propelled by economic interests. In fact, it demonstrates just the opposite, an unwillingness to tolerate those states that try to get out from under the global capitalist system.

The purpose of the capitalist state is to do things for the advancement of the entire capitalist system that individual corporate interests cannot do. Left to their own competitive devices, business firms are not willing to abide by certain rules nor tend to common systemic interests. This is true both for the domestic economy and foreign affairs. Like any good capitalist organization, a business firm may have a general long-range interest in seeing Cuban socialism crushed, but it might have a more tempting immediate interest in doing a profitable business with the class enemy. It remains for the capitalist state to force individual companies back in line.

What is at stake is not the investments within a particular Third World country but the long-range security of the entire system of transnational capitalism. No country that pursues an independent course of development shall be allowed to prevail as a dangerous example to other nations.

Common Confusions

Some critics have argued that economic factors have not exerted an important influence on U.S. interventionist policy because most interventions are in countries that have no great natural treasures and no large U.S. investments, such as, Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. This is like saying that police are not especially concerned about protecting wealth and property because most of their actions take place in poor neighborhoods. Interventionist forces do not go where capital exists as such; they go where capital is threatened. They have not intervened in affluent Switzerland, for instance, because capitalism in that country is relatively secure and unchallenged. But if leftist parties gained power in Bern and attempted to nationalize Swiss banks and major properties, it very likely would invite the strenuous attentions of the Western industrial powers.

Some observers maintain that intervention is bred by the national-security apparatus itself, the State Department, the National Security Council, and the CIA. These agencies conjure up new enemies and crises because they need to justify their own existence and augment their budget allocations. This view avoids the realities of class interest and power. It suggests that policymakers serve no purpose other than policymaking for their own bureaucratic aggrandizement. Such a notion reverses cause and effect. It is a little like saying the horse is the cause of the horse race. It treats the national security state as the originator of intervention when in fact it is but one of the major instruments. U.S. leaders were engaging in interventionist actions long before the CIA and NSC existed.

One of those who argues that the state is a self-generated aggrandizer is Richard Barnet, who dismisses the "more familiar and more sinister motives" of economic imperialism. Whatever their economic systems, all large industrial states, he maintains, seek to project power and influence in a search for security and domination. To be sure, the search for security is a real consideration for every state, especially in a world in which capitalist power is hegemonic and ever threatening. But the capital investments of multinational corporations expand in a far more dynamic way than the economic expansion manifested by socialist or precapitalist governments.

In fact, the case studies in Barnet's book Intervention and Revolution point to business, rather than the national security bureaucracies, as the primary motive of U.S. intervention. Anti- communism and the Soviet threat seem less a source for policy than a propaganda ploy to frighten the American public and rally support for overseas commitments. The very motives Barnet dismisses seem to be operative in his case studies of Greece, Iran, Lebanon, and the Dominican Republic, specifically the desire to secure access to markets and raw materials and the need, explicitly stated by various policymakers, to protect free enterprise throughout the world.

Some might complain that the foregoing analysis is "simplistic" because it ascribes all international events to purely economic and class motives and ignores other variables like geopolitics, culture, ethnicity, nationalism, ideology, and morality. But I do not argue that the struggle to maintain capitalist global hegemony explains everything about world politics nor even everything about U.S. foreign policy. However, it explains quite a lot; so is it not time we become aware of it? If mainstream opinion makers really want to portray political life in all its manifold complexities, then why are they so studiously reticent about the immense realities of imperialism?

The existence of other variables such as nationalism, militarism, the search for national security, and the pursuit of power and hegemonic dominance, neither compels us to dismiss economic realities, nor to treat these other variables as insulated from class interests. Thus, the desire to extend U.S. strategic power into a particular region is impelled at least in part by a desire to stabilize the area along lines that are favorable to politico-economic elite interests—which is why the region becomes a focus of concern in the first place.

In other words, various considerations work with circular effect upon each other. The growth in overseas investments invite a need for military protection. This, in turn, creates a need to secure bases and establish alliances with other nations. The alliances now expand the "defense" perimeter that must be maintained. So a particular country becomes not only an "essential" asset for our defense but must itself be defended, like any other asset.

Inventing Enemies

As noted in the previous chapter, the U.S. empire is neoimperialist in its operational mode. With the exception of a few territorial possessions, U.S. overseas expansion has relied on indirect control rather than direct possession. This is not to say that U.S. leaders are strangers to annexation and conquest. Most of what is now the continental United States was forcibly wrested from Native American nations. California and all of the Southwest USA were taken from Mexico by war. Florida and Puerto Rico were seized from Spain.

U.S. leaders must convince the American people that the immense costs of empire are necessary for their security and survival. For years we were told that the great danger we faced was "the World Communist Menace with its headquarters in Moscow." U.S. citizens accepted a crushing tax burden to pay for "defense," to win the superpower arms race and "contain Soviet aggression wherever it might arise." Since the demise of the USSR, our political leaders have been warning us that the world is full of other dangerous adversaries, who apparently had been previously overlooked.

Who are these evil adversaries who wait to spring upon the USA the moment we drop our guard or the moment we make real cuts in our gargantuan military budget? Why do they stalk us instead of, say, Denmark or Brazil? This scenario of a world of enemies was used by the rulers of the Roman empire and by nineteenth- century British imperialists. Enemies always had to be confronted, requiring more interventions and more expansion. And if enemies were not to be found, they would be invented.

Americans have little cause to take pride in being part of "our" mighty empire, for what that empire does to peoples abroad is nothing to be proud of. And at home, the policies of empire benefit the dominant interests rather than the interests of the common citizenry. When Washington says "our" interests must be protected abroad, we might question whether all of us are represented by the goals pursued. Far-off countries, previously unknown to most Americans, suddenly become vital to "our" interests. To protect "our" oil in the Middle East and "our" resources and "our" markets elsewhere, our sons and daughters have to participate in overseas military ventures, and our taxes are needed to finance these ventures.

The next time "our" oil in the Middle East is in jeopardy, we might remember that relatively few of us own oil stock. Yet even portfolio-deprived Americans are presumed to have a common interest with Exxon and Mobil because they live in an economy dependent on oil. It is assumed that if the people of other lands wrested control of their oil away from the big U.S. companies, they would refuse to sell it to us. Supposedly they would prefer to drive us into the arms of competing producers and themselves into ruination, denying themselves the billions of dollars they might earn on the North American market.

In fact, nations that acquire control of their own resources do not act so strangely. Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, Libya, and others would be happy to have access to markets in this country, selling at prices equal to or more reasonable than those offered by the giant multinationals. So when Third World peoples, through nationalization, revolution, or both, take over the oil in their own land, or the copper, tin, sugar, or other industries, it does not hurt the interests of the U.S. working populace. But it certainly hurts the multinational conglomerates that once profited so handsomely from these enterprises.

Who Pays? Who Profits?

We are made to believe that the people of the United States have a common interest with the giant multinationals, the very companies that desert our communities in pursuit of cheaper labor abroad. In truth, on almost every issue the people are not in the same boat with the big companies. Policy costs are not equally shared; benefits are not equally enjoyed. The "national" policies of an imperialist country reflect the interests of that country's dominant socio-economic class. Class rather than nation-state more often is the crucial unit of analysis in the study of imperialism.

The tendency to deny the existence of conflicting class interests when dealing with imperialism leads to some serious misunderstandings. For example, liberal writers like Kenneth Boulding and Richard Barnet have pointed out that empires cost more than they bring in, especially when wars are fought to maintain them. Thus, from 1950 to 1970, the U.S. government spent several billions of dollars to shore up a corrupt dictatorship in the Philippines, hoping to protect about $1 billion in U.S. investments in that country. At first glance it does not make sense to spend $3 billion to protect $1 billion. Saul Landau has made this same point in regard to the costs of U.S. interventions in Central America: they exceed actual U.S. investments. Barnet notes that "the costs of maintaining imperial privilege always exceed the gains." From this it has been concluded that empires simply are not worth all the expense and trouble. Long before Barnet, the Round Table imperialist policymakers in Great Britain wanted us to believe that the empire was not maintained because of profit; indeed "from a purely material point of view the Empire is a burden rather than a source of gain" (Round Table, vol 1, 232-39, 411).

To be sure, empires do not come cheap. Burdensome expenditures are needed for military repression and prolonged occupation, for colonial administration, for bribes and arms to native collaborators, and for the development of a commercial infrastructure to facilitate extractive industries and capital penetration. But empires are not losing propositions for everyone. The governments of imperial nations may spend more than they take in, but the people who reap the benefits are not the same ones who foot the bill. As Thorstein Veblen pointed out in The Theory of the Business Enterprise (1904), the gains of empire flow into the hands of the privileged business class while the costs are extracted from "the industry of the rest of the people." The transnationals monopolize the private returns of empire while carrying little, if any, of the public cost. The expenditures needed in the way of armaments and aid to make the world safe for General Motors, General Dynamics, General Electric, and all the other generals are paid by the U.S. government, that is, by the taxpayers.

So it was with the British empire in India, the costs of which, Marx noted a half-century before Veblen, were "paid out of the pockets of the people of England," and far exceeded what came back into the British treasury. He concluded that the advantage to Great Britain from her Indian Empire was limited to the "very considerable" profits which accrued to select individuals, mostly a coterie of stockholders and officers in the East India Company and the Bank of England.

Likewise, beginning in the late nineteenth century and carrying over into the twentieth, the German conquest of Southwest Africa "remained a loss-making enterprise for the German taxpayer," according to historian Horst Drechsler, yet "a number of monopolists still managed to squeeze huge profits out of the colony in the closing years of German colonial domination." And imperialism is in the service of the few monopolists not the many taxpayers.

In sum, there is nothing irrational about spending three dollars of public money to protect one dollar of private investment—at least not from the perspective of the investors. To protect one dollar of their money they will spend three, four, and five dollars of our money. In fact, when it comes to protecting their money, our money is no object.

Furthermore, the cost of a particular U.S. intervention must be measured not against the value of U.S. investments in the country involved but against the value of the world investment system. It has been noted that the cost of apprehending a bank robber may occasionally exceed the sum that is stolen. But if robbers were allowed to go their way, this would encourage others to follow suit and would put the entire banking system in jeopardy.

At stake in these various wars of suppression, as already noted, is not just the investments in any one country but the security of the whole international system of finance capital. No country is allowed to pursue an independent course of self-development. None is permitted to go unpunished and undeterred. None should serve as an inspiration or source of material support to other nations that might want to pursue a politico-economic path other than the maldevelopment offered by global capitalism.

The Myth of Popular Imperialism

Those who think of empire solely as an expression of national interests rather than class interests are bound to misinterpret the nature of imperialism. In his American Diplomacy 1900-1950, George Kennan describes U.S. imperialist expansion at the end of the nineteenth century as a product of popular aspiration: the American people "simply liked the smell of empire"; they wanted "to bask in the sunshine of recognition as one of the great imperial powers of the world."

In The Progressive (October 1984), the liberal writers John Buell and Matthew Rothschild comment that "the American psyche is pegged to being biggest, best, richest, and strongest. Just listen to the rhetoric of our politicians." But does the politician's rhetoric really reflect the sentiments of most Americans, who in fact come up as decidedly noninterventionist in most opinion polls? Buell and Rothschild assert that "when a Third World nation—whether it be Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, or Nicaragua—spurns our way of doing things, our egos ache. . ." Actually, such countries spurn the ways of global corporate capitalism—and this is what U.S. politico-economic leaders will not tolerate. Psychologizing about aching collective egos allows us to blame imperialism on ordinary U.S. citizens who are neither the creators nor beneficiaries of empire.

In like fashion, the historian William Appleman Williams, in his Empire As a Way of Life, scolds the American people for having become addicted to the conditions of empire. It seems "we" like empire. "We" live beyond our means and need empire as part of our way of life. "We" exploit the rest of the world and don't know how to get back to a simpler life. The implication is that "we" are profiting from the runaway firms that are exporting our jobs and exploiting Third World peoples. "We" decided to send troops into Central America, Vietnam, and the Middle East and thought to overthrow democratic governments in a dozen or more countries around the world. And "we" urged the building of a global network of counterinsurgency, police torturers, and death squads in numerous countries.

For Williams, imperialist policy is a product of mass thinking. In truth, ordinary Americans usually have opposed intervention or given only lukewarm support. Opinion polls during the Vietnam War showed that the public wanted a negotiated settlement and withdrawal of U.S. troops. They supported the idea of a coalition government in Vietnam that included the communists, and they supported elections even if the communists won them.

Pollster Louis Harris reported that, during 1982-84 Americans rejected increased military aid for El Salvador and its autocratic military machine by more than 3 to 1. Network surveys found that 80 percent opposed sending troops to that country; 67 percent were against the U.S. mining of Nicaragua's harbors; and 2 to 1 majorities opposed aid to the Nicaraguan contras (the rightwing CIA-supported mercenary army that was waging a brutal war of attrition against Nicaraguan civilians). A 1983 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that, by a 6 to 1 ratio, our citizens opposed any attempt by the United States to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. By more than 2 to 1 the public said the greatest cause of unrest in Central America was not subversion from Cuba, Nicaragua, or the Soviet Union but "poverty and the lack of human rights in the area."

Even the public's superpatriotic yellow-ribbon binge during the more recent Gulf War of 1991 was not the cause of the war itself. It was only one of the disgusting and disheartening by- products. Up to the eve of that conflict, opinion polls showed Americans favoring a negotiated withdrawal of Iraqi troops rather than direct U.S. military engagement. But once U.S. forces were committed to action, then the "support-our-troops" and "go for victory" mentality took hold of the public, pumped up as always by a jingoistic media propaganda machine.

Once war comes, especially with the promise of a quick and easy victory, some individuals suspend all critical judgment and respond on cue like mindless superpatriots. One can point to the small businessman in Massachusetts, who announced that he was a "strong supporter" of the U.S. military involvement in the Gulf, yet admitted he was not sure what the war was about. "That's something I would like know," he stated. "What are we fighting about?" (New York Times, November 15, 1990)

In the afterglow of the Gulf triumph, George Bush had a 93 percent approval rating and was deemed unbeatable for reelection in 1992. Yet within a year, Americans had come down from their yellow ribbon binge and experienced a postbellum depression, filled with worries about jobs, money, taxes and other such realities. Bush's popularity all but evaporated and he was defeated by a scandal-plagued, relatively unknown governor from Arkansas.

Whether they support or oppose a particular intervention, the American people cannot be considered the motivating force of the war policy. They do not sweep their leaders into war on a tide of popular hysteria. It is the other way around. Their leaders take them for a ride and bring out the worst in them. Even then, there are hundreds of thousands who remain actively opposed and millions who correctly suspect that such ventures are not in their interest.

Cultural Imperialism

Imperialism exercises control over the communication universe. American movies, television shows, music, fashions, and consumer products inundate Latin America, Asia, and Africa, as well as Western and Eastern Europe. U.S. rock stars and other performers play before wildly enthusiastic audiences from Madrid to Moscow, from Rio to Bangkok. U.S. advertising agencies dominate the publicity and advertising industries of the world.

Millions of news reports, photographs, commentaries, editorials, syndicated columns, feature stories from U.S. media, saturate most other countries each year. The average Third World nation is usually more exposed to U.S. media viewpoints than to those of neighboring countries or its own backlands. Millions of comic books and magazines, condemning communism and boosting the wonders of the free market, are translated into dozens of languages and distributed by U.S. (dis)information agencies. The CIA alone owns outright over 200 newspapers, magazines, wire services and publishing houses in countries throughout the world.

U.S. government-funded agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy and the Agency for International Development, along with the Ford Foundation and other such organizations, help maintain Third World universities, providing money for academic programs, social science institutes, research, student scholarships, and textbooks supportive of a free market ideological perspective. Right-wing Christian missionary agencies preach political quiescence and anticommunism to native populations. The AFL-CIO's American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), with ample State Department funding, has actively infiltrated Third World labor organizations or built compliant unions that are more anticommunist than pro-worker. AIFLD graduates have been linked to coups and counterinsurgency work in various countries. Similar AFL-CIO undertakings operate in Africa and Asia.

The CIA has infiltrated important political organizations in numerous countries and maintains agents at the highest levels of various governments, including heads of state, military leaders, and opposition political parties. Washington has financed conservative political parties in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Western and Eastern Europe. Their major qualification is that they be friendly to Western capital penetration. While federal law prohibits foreigners from making campaign contributions to U.S. candidates, Washington policymakers reserve the right to interfere in the elections of other countries, such as Italy, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, to name only a few. U.S. leaders feel free to intrude massively upon the economic, military, political, and cultural practices and institutions of any country they so choose. That's what it means to have an empire.


  
 
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