Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(2) How U.S. Support for Sociopathic Dictators BACKFIRED: "The Root Doctrine"

This three part series will explore America’s attempts to build up and rely on sociopaths to protect U.S. strategic interests abroad. This policy assumed that the single-minded, conscienceless vigor such psychopathic dictators displayed in pursuing their own interests, would work for ours as well.  But alas, that tactic backfired – big time.  It precipitated the World Trade Center bombings, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now America's public embarrassment at having stifled rather than supported the push towards democracy in Egypt and other Arab countries.  

(1) How U.S. Support for Sociopathic Dictators BACKFIRED

(2) The Root Doctrine The primary force driving American policy abroad is not the same democratic ideals as that which animates its domestic policy. The goal of U.S. foreign policy is the protection of American economic interests abroad, a theme laid out in the early decades of the twentieth century by Elihu Root, a former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel prize winner. Root proclaimed “the sovereign right of a state to take early action to prevent a condition of affairs in which it will be too late to protect itself.”

In the early decades of the twentieth century, nations that promised a favorable climate for American business investment and trade received support by the U.S. government. With the advent of the Cold War, it was states that promised stability, anti-communism and investment and trade opportunities for American business that received American support.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established what came to be known as the Good Neighbor policy in 1933. He did so in response to growing public criticism of American interventionism. The U.S. sent troops abroad when businesses believed their interests were threatened, when a nation blocked export of its natural resources to the U.S., or when American bankers felt that a foreign debt was not being paid on time. By the turn of the twentieth century, the U.S. had carried out more than one hundred overseas interventions.

While Roosevelt’s policy sounded more “neighborly” than the Root Doctrine, it did not, in fact, contradict it. That is, Roosevelt’s new foreign policy initiative required that Washington substitute support of local dictators for its previous policy of invasions and occupations. The new policy. America’s stance began to resemble the British policy of indirect rule in Africa, where it controlled local leaders rather than intervening directly in a nation’s affairs.

What the “Good Neighbor Policy” demanded was support for the regimes of local autocrats, and all that came with it, including corruption, personal greed, and any other of the despot’s idiosyncracies. In return, these dictators suppressed communists and radicals in their nations, in whatever manner they saw fit, and protected U.S. business operations within their borders.

It was not that the U.S. set out to cultivate sociopaths. But once interventionism as an option because closed off, a certain pattern developed in Latin America that became entrenched in America’s dealings with Iran and other parts of the world. For instance, continuous instability in Nicaragua prompted then President Calvin Coolidge to decide that it would be in America’s best interests to have the U.S. Marines train the Nicaraguan national guard. They handpicked a former latrine inspector named Anastacio Somoza, who had impressed former Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson with his diligence.[5]

The Somoza’s, father and sons, used the national guard as a personal security force and vehicle for maintaining themselves in power. Washington, d.c. was aware of the corruption and brutal political repression being carried out by the regime. But rather than address the problem, President Roosevelt increased foreign aid to Nicaragua, and invited Somoza to visit Washington, where he was given the honor of addressing a joint session of Congress.

Bloodlines and Horse Stables
Making foreign dictators more palatable to the sensibilities of American audiences thus became part of the job description of U.S. diplomats in dictatorial client states. The Shah of Iran, for instance, was fed to the public in the U.S. as a progressive ruler, a man who abhorred violence, and the legitimate successor to the throne. His ghost-written memoirs, Mission for My Country, published in 1960, The White Revolution in 1967 and Answer to History published shortly after his death in 1980, spelled out lofty goals for modernizing Iran. What they left out was the Shah’s human rights record. In fact, by 1976, Amnesty International had declared that the Shah’s regime and his personally-controlled security force had racked up the worst human rights record in the world.

The Shah’s self-accounts also left out another important fact about his royal bloodline, namely that it was only one generation deep. His father had been an illiterate, but ambitious stable boy, who rose from gunnery sergeant to general in the ranks of the Persian Cossack Brigade and seized the throne in 1925. While a brutal dictatorship that suspended Iran’s constitution, his government was nevertheless known for launching a modernization campaign, establishing the University of Tehran and supporting such advancements for women as banning child marriage and their exclusion from public society. But the man himself, was described as cruel even to his own family. The mother of his son and successor, Reza Shah Pahlavi observed that “. . . anytime the King summoned his son, the present shah, the boy would come back in wet pants and for a few days would be totally confused.”[6]


(3) How U.S. Support for Sociopathic Dictators BACKFIRED "Torture & the Shah"

(4) How  U.S. Support for Sociopathic Dictators BACKFIRED  CIA Personality Tests

(5) How U.S. Support for Sociopathic Dictators BACKFIRED  Blowback Iran
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