Obsessed With Using Force
By Reason Wafawarova
Herald" -- -
Harare - SINCE the United States assumed global
leadership from Britain at the end of the Second World War;
when it emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the war, a
development that saw it declare the era of "the American
century", Washington has been obsessed with using force to
thwart small countries.
In fact, the US emerged as a superpower that is scared of
small countries. While this statement might seem
contradictory, political analyses of US behaviour over the
past 62 years proves otherwise.
During this period the US, among many other invasions went
into Cuba, Grenada, Panama, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican
Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Iraq (twice) and
It also sponsored and armed reactionary rebels in their CIA
engineered proxy wars in Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan,
Congo and Nicaragua, to mention just a few countries.
The Americans also led embargo campaigns on Iraq, Iran,
Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
The US portrays more concerns and worries about the
behaviour of small states than it has about its more
powerful rivals like India, China or the European Union.
When Ronald Reagan was asked to justify his administration's
trade embargo against Nicaragua in 1985 he said, "the
policies and actions of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and
extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign
policy of the United States."
Does this quotation ring a bell to Zimbabweans?
It should, given that both Condoleeza Rice and George W.
Bush have almost repeated it verbatim in their attempt to
justify the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act (2001), a sanctions law that bars multilateral
lending institutions, with dealings with the US, from
extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe.
It also bars American companies from trading with Zimbabwe.
In 1985, people outside the US questioned how an
underdeveloped peasant nation of three million people, as
was Nicaragua then, could possibly constitute an
"extraordinary threat" to the security of the US, then one
of the two most powerful superpowers of the world.
Today, many outside the US still wonder how a largely
peasant nation of 13 million people, Zimbabwe, can possibly
constitute "an unusual and extraordinary threat" to the
foreign policy of the US.
This writer says many outside the US would question this
kind of thinking because the mainstream US society has often
believed its ruling elite whenever it speaks this way. This
is precisely because the US and much of the western world;
has some of the most indoctrinated and brainwashed people of
this world as Noam Chomsky rightly pointed out in the book,
Latin America: From Colonisation to Globalisation, 1999.
In 1982, the Reagan administration, through the US Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went on air to tell the
American public that Grenada was a military threat to the
The mere fact that this was pronounced indicates the power
of indoctrination and brainwashing contained in the two most
powerful agents of imperialism, namely, western politicians
and their mass media.
The fact that the American public could hear their chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publicly utter this ludicrous
statement without exploding into raucous laughter, was yet
another indication of the degree of indoctrination.
This "extraordinary" military threat led to the invasion of
Grenada in 1983 and 6 000 American elite troops descended on
40 Cubans and a couple of hundred Grenadine military men,
earning themselves a total 8 000 medals for the "valour"
that led to this enormous victory. The American media went
berserk, spewing euphoric pugnacious and jingoistic
sentiments over the vainglorious accomplishment.
Noam Chomsky, in the fore-mentioned book, analysed why the
US is so scared of small states, in particular, he evaluated
the concepts of US national security and foreign policy.
He says the threat to the security of the US by these
oft-quoted small nations is too ludicrous to warrant any
discussion, but the threat to US foreign policy is quiet
real. Chomsky argues that it is the small, weak states that
actually pose the greatest threat to American foreign
This, he says, is the only explanation that can be given for
the extraordinary savagery the US has displayed against some
of the weakest and most inconsequential countries like Laos
It is like this, the weaker the country, the greater the
banditry and savagery. The logic behind this can only be
understood in the context of the underlying basis upon which
US foreign policy is formulated.
To understand this it may be necessary to revisit what
George Kennan, head of the policy planning unit in the US
State Department, 1948, said about American foreign policy.
Said Kennan: "We have about 50 percent of the world's
wealth, but only 6,3 percent of its population . . . In this
situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and
resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise
a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain
this position of disparity without positive detriment to our
national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with
all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will
have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national
"We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the
luxury of altruism and world benefaction . . . We should
cease to talk about vague and -- for the Far East -- unreal
objectives such as human rights, the raising of living
standards, and democratisation.
The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in
straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by
idealistic slogans the better."
Today, those very "unreal objectives" form the cornerstone
of US foreign policy on Zimbabwe, Iraq and Afghanistan, that
despite the fact that they remain nothing but "idealistic
The fundamental principles of American foreign policy and
indeed that of all imperialist countries are to ensure what
Kennan once called "the protection of our raw materials."
One would think that he was referring to raw materials found
within the United States but he was actually referring to
the raw materials of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East
Kennan did not bother to explain from whom he intended to
have those raw materials protected. The only plausible
explanation he could give was that there was need to protect
"our raw materials" against the Russians and other
"communists". The Russians and communists were the two major
factors that frightened the US and western communities the
most between 1945 and 1990. Today, the major source of fear
among the western communities is terrorism, ostensibly
fronted by the face of Al-Quaeda and Osama bin Laden.
The real threats against whom the Americans want to protect
"their" resources are indeed the indigenous people who are
the bona fide owners of those raw materials. Some of these
indigenous people have made the "mistake" of embarking on
policies aimed at making indigenous populations use and
benefit from their resources.
In the eyes of the US ruling elite, that kind of conspiracy
is totally intolerable; for it poses an "unusual and
extraordinary threat". It simply has to be stopped.
This kind of conspiracy is what makes little countries like
Laos, Grenada, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe so significant as to
warrant worldwide headlines in the western media.
The significance is derived from the fact that by embarking
on social policies that are welfare based, these small
countries may succeed in empowering their own populations
and if this leads to successful economic and social
development, it may constitute a model for others, thereby
having an undesired domino effect.
This is precisely why Henry Kissinger said Salvador
Allende's Chile had to be stopped as it stood a dangerously
high chance of infecting other countries -- it would be a
virus. In other words economic and social development for
any other country other than the US and its western allies
is a disease that might infect other countries to the
detriment of US foreign policy. When they are not calling
such development a disease they are calling it a "rotten
apple", "rot", or, as they prefer these days, "a rogue
The thinking behind the US' savagery on smaller states is
that the smaller the state the higher the chance of success
for these social policies and therefore the smaller the
state the greater the threat of the disease of social and
economic development in poor countries. This is precisely
why the US wants land reform in Zimbabwe to fail. If it
succeeds in a small country like Zimbabwe, what will stop
people of the much bigger South Africa from following suit?
Laos, a very small country next to Thailand became a target
of US savage attacks in 1958 as the Americans overthrew its
democratic government and installed its extremely brutal
right-wing dictatorial regime. The small country was to
later be a subject of ruthless US aerial attacks.
This was a small poor peasant country made up of isolated
peasant villages, inhabited by villagers who hardly knew
that there was an outside world until they began to see
those bird-like metal things appearing up in the sky and
dropping bombs on them.
The question is why would a sophisticated superpower
controlling half of the world's wealth destroy the misery
field life of a peasant society? Laos committed a grave
"crime" under Pathet Lao, a mild revolutionary who led a
low-level agrarian reform programme that began to yield
results by expanding the health and educational sectors. In
the eyes of the American ruling elite, the "stupid" peasants
were using raw materials in Laos for their own purposes and
such "insolence" had to be stopped.
The US would care nothing if a country like Grenada
disappeared from the face of the earth today. It is so small
and insignificant in terms of US material interests.
Nevertheless, Grenada was invaded in 1983.
The US began to put Grenada on their hostile media radar as
soon as Maurice Bishop's government came to power in 1979.
The US administration began to demonstrate its extraordinary
hostility by cutting off aid, carried out scaring military
threats, established an embargo and finally invaded the tiny
country in 1983.
Bishop's socialist government could not be allowed to
succeed, lest neighbouring countries would follow suit and
pose "unusual and extraordinary threats" to the foreign
policy of the US.
The Nicaraguan Sandinista programmes created more sorrow
than happiness for Nicaragua though they had a successful
land reform programme, increased literacy, improved the
health delivery system, reduced infant mortality and
increased life expectancy -- even earning an award from the
World Health Organisation. While WHO saw social and economic
development, the US ruling elite saw "an unusual and
extraordinary threat" since the Sandinistas were "stealing"
America's resources for their own purposes. And that is why
the US trained, armed, nurtured and partnered the Contras in
fighting the Sandinistas.
Of course, eventually the Sandinistas did fall just like
Bishop's government in Grenada.
The same threat the Americans saw in Nicaragua, Laos and
Grenada were also perceived in Angola, Congo, Ghana and
In Angola, the US sponsored Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebels for
more than 20 years. In Congo, they organised the overthrow
and murder of Patrice Lumumba before installing a ruthless
dictatorial regime led by Mobutu Sese Seko. In Ghana, they
sponsored and organised the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah while
in Mozambique they sponsored and trained the murderous
Renamo of Afonso Dhlakama.
In all these African countries, the excuse given by the US
was that the governments were communist, a development that
probably stood more threatening than terrorists in the eyes
of the western community during the Cold War era. They even
successfully assassinated Samora Machel, the then Mozambican
president, in 1986.
Of course, both the US and apartheid South Africa, on whose
soil the assassination was carried out, never admitted to
any wrongdoing although the US acknowledged that they viewed
Machel as the communist point-man in Southern Africa.
This analysis of historical events involving the US should
help put into perspective, Washington's sanctions regime
against Zimbabwe, which sanctions are supported by the
It is an analysis relevant to the course and direction of
the Third Chimurenga.
It is an analysis relevant to the relationship between the
MDC and its partners in the so-called civic society, and the
US led western alliance.
It is also an analysis of Zimbabwe's chances of standing its
ground the way Cuba has done since 1958; the way Venezuela
has done since 1999, about the same time Zimbabwe embarked
on the agrarian reform programme.
The reality behind the US led western alliance's
relationship with the Government as well as its opposition
has nothing to do with the rhetoric of human rights, rule of
law, democracy or freedom -- tenets the US generally views
as idealistic slogans.
In fact the US, like any other imperial power, regards rule
of law as a slogan to be used for three purposes, according
Firstly, it is a slogan to pacify the domestic populations
in the imperialists' own backyard. Secondly, it is a slogan
so effectively used to denounce official enemies of the US's
Thirdly, it is a last resort in dealing with problems where
all other covert means have proved ineffective. This is the
extent to which the US and its western allies are committed
to the doctrine of the rule of law, otherwise, apart from
those three concerns all imperialists are sworn to the Rule
of Force. It is high time all Zimbabweans reflected on and
saw the real challenge before us in its perspective and
decide the best way out of the prevailing challenges.
The US acts in the knowledge that it reversed agrarian
reforms and installed puppet regimes in many countries and
we, Zimbabweans, act in the knowledge that we have freed
ourselves from foreign domination before and some agrarian
reform programmes have succeeded elsewhere.
We would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer
Copyright © 2007 The Herald.
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