Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sept. 10: Home again - and the final part of U.S. imperialism

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/02/what-the-us-bombing-of-cambodia-tells-us-about-obamas-drone-campaign/273142/

http://legaciesofwar.org/about-laos/secret-war-laos/

http://thevietnamwar.info/how-many-people-died-in-the-vietnam-war/

The above are figures for those killed in American imperial wars. As they indicate, there are no reliable figures. Official ones  (the sort you will find in Wikkepedia) are very, very cautious - and almost certainly great under-estimates.

When I last wrote,  I promised to look at the American Empire from World War 2 on.

The U.S. was slow to get involved in World War 2. That was because, in the eyes of U.S. corporations, this presented a golden opportunity - but not in Europe. U.S. corporations could not have cared less about the Jews or the Naziis or Britain or Europe in general. No. The declaration of war in 1939 opened the way for what U.S. corporations had long wanted - a collapse of European empires, especially in Asia, so the U.S. could move in.

France and Britain at war with Germany and Italy could not possibly defend their empires in China, India, French Indo-China  (Vietnam). Japan was already moving into the vacuum created by European weakness. The U.S. had been preparing for a war with Japan since 1919. That was particularly noticeable in its development of aicraft carriers. They were built for long-range abilities, important in the great spaces of the Pacific.

But it would have to find an excuse to make American public opinion support a war. So, late in 1941, it cut off oil supplies to Japan. Japan had no oil reserves, and oil was essential to its invasion of China. it was essential for tanks, aircraft, for supply ships to bring food to Japan, and oil for its large fleet of warships. Oil was the key to Japanese survival. The U.S. knew Japan would have to respond.
The attack on Pearl Harbour was a desperate move. It was the Japanese copy of a British attack on an Italian naval base. It might have been effective if the Japanese had an army to hold Hawaii, and if the U.S. aircraft carriers had been in harbour at the time of the attack. But neither of those was true. So the result had no lasting effect on American military power. And it made it possible for the U.S. to claim  a need to go to war in its own defence.

Even the churches (as always) were brought into enthusiastic cooperation, and "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" became a best-selling pop song. This, at last, is what U.S. corporations had been looking for ever since the conquest of The Phillipines just 40 years earlier. (The U.S., by the way, had been 40 years under an American dictatorship. The dictator in 1941 was General Douglas MacArthur. The American empire has never been fond of democracies.)
It worked like a charm, with the Japanese no match for American numbers and production capacity. Even worse for Japan, it was an island nation without the oil to maintain its military needs or its food needs. The U.S. could also supply its China dictator of choice, Chiang kai-Shek, with weapons and even more direct help. The U.S. was on the edge of its great dream - the absorption of China and French Indo-China into the U.S. empire. But there were two hitches.

France wanted control of Indo-China back. Britain wanted Hong Kong, the centre of the magnificently profitable British Empire in China. The U.S. ordered both of them to keep out because it had its own plans for both.

But the Free French, with only a few, small ships in the region, sent a destroyer to "liberate" Hanoi. U.S. aircraft bombed the destroyer heavily. The French, still determined, sent more ships and troops. It became to embarassing for the U.S. to continue killing it's European allies. So the French began their long Indo-China/Vietnam war to reclaim their Asian empire.

The British, too, were warned to stay away from Hong Kong. But Churchill was furious at the order - and the British fleet in the region was too big to be attacked with nobody noticing. So the British did take Hong Kong back.

The French, it turned out, could not hold Vietnam. That is why the U.S. took over that war. And, remarkably, the most powerful and richest country in the world, despite the greatest bombing campaigns in history and despite its use of illegal weapons such as napalm bombs and Agent Orange, could not defeat a third world country.

They lost despite dropping more bombs on tiny, neighouring  countries like Laos and Cambodia than all bombs dropped by all the allies in all of world war 2. One third of those millions of bombs have not yet exploded. In all those years of bombing, the western news media complletely ignored it.

The killing in Vietnam was largely of civilians, and quite deliberately so. They were burned to death by napalm, poisoned and starved by Agent Orange which also produced  (and still produces) horribly disfigured children who usually die in childhood. (They are commonly born with no mouths, with severe brain damage, without eyes.....)  But don't look for any of this in the irving press.
To this day, there are cluster bombs by the millions lying around in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - all waiting for children to pick them up as playthings.
Nobody know how many civilians - men, women, children - were murdered in those wars. Official sources will offer estimates of hundreds of thousands. Scholars have placed the number at 4 million and higher. Then there are the crippled, the orphaned....

And in remembrance of that, Americans speak of the killers as "Vietnam war heroes" and,   with right hand over heart, sing  "God Bless America".
The British Empire lost Hong Kong (but more peaceably) to China.
All empires that I have known have been murderous, torturing, exploiting, looting bastards. And, in Hong Kong, I got a bellyful of the 'colonial administrators" that the ruling countries send out. They are arrogant, callous, racist and, for all their postuing, usually not very bright.

As well as all the above, empires are, commonly, destructive of national stability. We're watching that in the middle east where, beginning with the British after World War One, and continuing today with the Imperial U.S., artificial nations are created for the sake of, say, oil companies. They are so artificial, they can be held together only by dictators. But when the dictators are not obedient enough to the imperial power, they get invaded - like Libya and Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan - And then whole societies in them collapse.  That's what is now happening in the middle east.   We (including colonial kiss-ups like Canada) have created a turmoil we cannot settle.

Now, and ever since the release of Project for the New American Century, American corporations have decided to go all the way for mastery of all the world's economies. The rules (never popular with corporations) have ceased to exist. There is no scale of mass murder, of national suffering, of humiliation that is out of bounds. All that counts is corporate profits. And if that risks the destruction of all earthly life, so be it. Big business tells governments how to spend income taxes. Our job is to supply the taxes so governments can use them to feed the war machine.

And the corporate bosses, of course, don't pay taxes.

After all, corporations have already demonstrated their contempt for international threats like climate change. So why would they give a damn about nuclear war?
I said, in a previous post, that the next couple of decades are crucial. That's because U.S. power, relatively, is in decline. Indeed, its magnificently huge and well-equipped military was not able to defeat Vietnam. It has not been able to defeat Afghanistan in 15 years. It scored a military victory over Hussein, mostly because Hussein didn't have much of a military. Nor was the U.S. really successful in Iraq because it is still in a social chaos that is nowhere close to solution. The only clear victory since 1945 was Grenada - an island with almost no military, and which was not nearly such a tough war as Clint Eastwood would lead us to believe.

The American people are nowhere close to understanding what is happening to them.  Raised on an American history that is almost pure fiction, kept ignorant by their news media, and led by churches who believe that God is an American who wakes up every morning to sing "God Bless America", they have little sense that their country is really led by profoundly cruel and greedy corporation bosses who are indifferent to what happens to the average american or to anybody else.
That's why Americans will respond to Donald Trump's racial and religious hatreds. It's because they have no sense of the real cause of their problems. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is a contender because she appeals to the very respectable who don't want to think at all for fear it would make them unrespectable.

But why the two decades? Because within that time, China is likely to be the world's dominant economic power. Even as things are, the U.S. that couldn't beat Vietnam or Afghanistan, is not likely to beat China in a conventional war.
It's not even likely now to beat Russia in a conventional war. After all, the great lesson of the Vietnam war was that the American people will not accept large casualties among their own military. And any such conventional war would create huge casualty lists.

No. If U.S. corporation bosses are gong to rule the world, they have to do it very soon. And such a war would have to be nuclear.

The U.S. is on a track it has been on since 1776. Americans accept that track because the American revolution created a patriotism designed to cover all the cracks in their society -rather like Britian in its glory days. The problem today, as we see daily in the presidential campaigns, is that the track is a mess. But American patriotism has been so hyped over the centuries that Americans have no sense there are other ways to travel.
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As a sub-note to all this, Americans - like Canadians and all western peoples - share an ardent belief in the goodness of serving God and country. The reality is that you cannot serve both. We should have learned that from the Naziis.  They believed they were serving God and country. And the Nazi tanks and other weapons were blessed by the clergy. In fact,  clergy of all western countries have routinely blessed weapons of war. I well remember an old photo of Cardinal Spellman sprinkling holy water on a bomb that was to be dropped on Cuba.
Loving one's country, I should think, would mean helping those who live in it. Instead, we use it to convince our people that they should murder foreigners.
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Incidentally, the first use of nuclear bombs was on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of course. Why those two cities? They were not significant military targets. So I'm not sure why they were chosen. It's possible the President Truman wanted the maximum dramatic effect  on the Japanese people - and killing civilians would do that. I know that was the reason for the massive fire-bombing of Tokyo a little earlier.

After the first bomb, the Japanese government knew it was all over. In fact, they had known it for at least a year. So why did Truman order a second bomb?
He wanted a quick surrender because the Russians were preparing to enter China. And the real reason the U.S. went to war in the first place was to get control of China.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not a student of history. That clarified, I read other people's accounts of their learnings from their teachers and whom share snippets of those teachings in stories they relate.
    Quite some time ago, I know not where I picked it up, only that the entire scenario sounded both plausible and probable, that the U.S. ha moved their active ships of war out of Pearl Harbor, leaving behind the scrap they had used to supply the carriers, which were the real threat to the Japanese. This because they knew of the imminent attack and let it happen to justify their participation in the conflict.

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  2. I don't know of any evidence that the U.S. knew the Japanese were going to attack Pearl. It was a very chancy thing for the Japanese to do - and I should think it unlikely the U.S. would have anticipated such a decision.
    It's quite true, though, that battleships proved themselves to be useful largely for jobs like shore bombardment - and then only when heavily protected by air cover. By world war 2, the carrier had become the ruler of the oceans.
    The Japanese had, foolishly, put enormous resources in the 1930s into building the biggest and most powerful battleships the world had ever seen - Yamato and Musashi. They proved a huge disappointment in the war. The last one was sent on a suicide mission close to the end of the war. It was suicide because there wan't enough fuel in all of Japan to fill its tanks for a return trip. It was supposed to run ashore at an American landing site, and bombard the American land forces. But carrier aircraft sank it before before it could even get into position.
    The British, unwisely, built the world's last battleship at the close of the war. It proved useful only for royal tours.

    The story I find it very hard (impossible) to believe is the recent one that the U.S. has placed NATO troops in Latvia to deter a Russian invasion.

    Even if Russia was planning such an invasion (which I doubt) the small number of troops sent would be quite useless. But, worse, the US announced it did this because of information received from Canadian intelligence.
    If Canada has any sizable foreign intelligence, I have never heard of it. Nor can I believe that the U.S. would take such a dangerously provocative action soley on the basis of intelligence from a small-time player like Canada. Nor would American intelligence sit quietly by to look like incommpetent asses if their massive service had really been ignorant of war preparations by Russia.
    Even worse, the only (so it is said) information is that Russia is preparing for war. Didn't it occur to anybody in the western media to ask why it is unusual for Russia to prepare for war at a time when it and China and being surrounded by American missiles. For that matter, almost every country in the world is preparing for war. So why do we get this silly "intelligence" that really tells us nothing?
    This one smells of set-up.
    And Justin has committed troops to this scheme. This is a prime minister who only accompmlshment so far in office has been to wear expensively-tailored suits with white shirts that have the top two buttons undone.

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