Antonio Caballero, Semana, Colombia, 30 March 2014 http://www.semana.com/opinion/articulo/antonio-caballero-dos-imperios/381891-3
Barack Obama is normally very careful in his rhetoric, but some days ago, he said something a little unfortunate. When criticizing Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, he said to the press: “We (the United States) have considerable influence on our neighbours. But generally, we do not need to invade them to enforce their cooperation.”
Generally? In its brief history of a little more than two centuries, the United States has invaded its neighbours on the American continent twenty nine times, beginning with its defeat in attempting to annexe Canada in 1812 (although even before that it had been casting its eye on Mexico and Haiti after its slave revolution). It was distracted for a period while it exterminated its internal enemy, the Indian tribes. Then it was full bore ahead.
After the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, the divine right of the United States to govern the whole hemisphere, its first big invasion was of Mexico in 1846, adding another fifty percent to its territory (now Texas and California). In 1855, it occupied Nicaragua to re-establish slavery there as well as in the territory of its neighbours, Salvador and Honduras. Then there was Cuba in 1898, and then the conquest of Puerto Rico and the far away Philippines in the Spanish American war. Then Panama in 1903 and the Dominican Republic in 1904. Then in 1906, Cuba once again, Panama again in 1908, and in 1910, back into Nicaragua.
The United States invaded another country almost every year from 1911 to 1927, occupying permanently or temporarily parts of Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua. Then they had a breather until 1954 when they invaded Guatemala. Then there were fleeting invasions through the agency of other people, like the anti-Castro Cubans in 1961, financed by the CIA or the military coups in Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala, Bolivia and the very bloody one in Chile in 1973, organized by the Secretary of State, Kissinger, and then there was the support for the Argentinean generals, the invasion of the little island of Granada in 1983, and the bombing of Panama City in 1989.
None of this takes into account the invasions of other countries in other continents, in Europe, Asia and Africa, and, as President Obama says, to “enforce the cooperation” of the people they invaded. And that is not taking into account their hundreds of military bases, just as Russia has in Sebastopol, in the recently annexed or rather re-annexed Ukrainian peninsula of the Crimea.
President Obama, so well educated in the best Universities, does not know his own country’s history. Or, it is not so much that he is ignorant, but he does not want to acknowledge it. It is not only part of his indispensable presidential function to tell lies, but it also comes from his puritanical education in hypocrisy.
The United States has never seen itself as an empire, and for that reason it allows itself the luxury of condemning the imperialism of other empires in the name of liberty. Russia, on the other hand, brutally boasts about having been an empire for centuries, and it aspires to continue being so. For that reason, its president, Vladimir Putin says that “the courage of the Russian soldiers has brought the Crimea into the Russian empire.” And he is referring back to the wars of Catherine the Great, who has that name because of her wars.
Russia and the United States are two empires, which, during the Cold War ended up enjoying hegemony over their respective halves of the world. But the collapse of communism has removed their masks to show them up as nakedly imperial. Russia cannot pretend that it is promoting a socialist revolution anymore, and the United States cannot pretend that it is the defender of liberty. Each of them is reduced to promoting and defending their respective interests.
How? Through what Obama calls “cooperation”. That is to say, through the use of force, the same thing for which he criticizes Putin.
Guest blogger, Kieran Tapsell, drew my attention to some good writing from Colombia on issues of international importance. Kieran is a Spanish translator. I hope you enjoy something a little different. John Menadue