Getting Out of Iraq: The Return of Tricky Dick?





Mr. Marina is Prof. Emeritus in History, FL Atlantic U., Research Fellow, the Independent Inst., Oakland, CA, & Exec. Dir., the Marina-Huerta Educational Foundation.

Today, Henry Kissinger must be smiling!

In a lead article in The Sunday New York Times (Aug. 12, ’07) assessing the positions of the Democratic candidates for president, the newspaper suggested that all of the various Democrats’ plans for leaving Iraq “may take years.”

This is “withdrawal?” It appears to be “déjà vu, all over again,” to quote that philosopher, pundit, Yogi Berra.

One is reminded that in 1968, Richard Nixon had a secret “plan” for getting the US out of Vietnam, that “quagmire” into which the Democrats had led the nation.

Some plan!

By 1973, when Kissinger and the Vietnamese negotiator shared a Nobel Peace Prize, over 22,000 more American soldiers had died in order that this non-existent plan be implemented.

Two years later, the Civil War there concluded with the North winning totally over the Franco-American backed South, and the remaining US forces rather unceremoniously fleeing Saigon.

That result could have been achieved in 1945, had the US not, in violation of its stated war aims of WWII, armed the French and allowed them to return to power in Vietnam, a decision even Gen. Douglas MacArthur called “despicable.”

A peace could have been achieved as well in 1955 after the defeat of the French, but at the Peace Conference the arrogant US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, refused even to shake the hand of the Chinese delegate, Chou En-Lai. The US proceeded to set up its own puppet, Ngo Dinh Diem, later killed by his own generals, only several weeks before the murder of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

One can understand how Dulles was rather optimistic about this “nation-building” effort to bring “Democracy” to many parts of the world. Two years earlier, in 1953, even before he officially took office, John Foster, and his brother, Allen W., the new director of the CIA, had engineered the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister, and placed Shah Reza Pahlevi in power.

The next year, 1954, saw an even easier overthrow of an elected government in Guatemala, so that the US did not have to deploy the thousands of Marines which President Dwight Eisenhower had off shore, just in case.

In the end, however, the American effort at neo-colonialism in Vietnam failed, at a cost of billions of dollars, a price inflation in the US, and the loss of over 58,000 soldiers. We need not mention the 3,000,000 Vietnamese who, Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, acknowledges were killed in our bombing of the North and counter-insurgency tactics in the South aimed at “winning the hearts and minds” of the people.

Tricky Dick never openly discussed his “secret plan” to end the War, and, after all, which American would not trust a President, who later told us repeatedly, “I am not a crook!”

We are suffering through the last months of perhaps the most disingenuous of a whole host of American Presidents who have been less than candid about their actions in taking the nation into war, starting at least with James Polk, Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, simply to name several of the more obvious ones. So devious have these actions become since WWII, that none of our Presidents have sought a declaration of war from the Congress as prescribed in our Constitution. Ah well, so much for the idea of the rule of law.

Given that history, I suppose the Democrats are to be commended for their candor, in admitting that they don’t really mean withdrawal in the foreseeable future!

It is a sad commentary on the state of Democracy in America, however, that none of the candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul among the Republicans, or perhaps Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel among the Democrats, even attempts to discuss what has obviously been the major thrust of American history for over a century.

It is clear that the moguls who control the Republican Party and those presiding over the Corporate Media, are unhappy that someone named Ron Paul even exists.

The Democratic candidates need to level with the American people with regard to three questions:

  1. How much will this add to our already bloated military spending which is already distorting the whole US economy?
  2. How many lives will this cost in the years ahead?
  3. And, most importantly, how will this really improve the incredible mess in the Middle East in which this nation has played a major role in creating since WWII?

The real issue is Empire, a project in which the US has now been engaged for over a century. Oswald Spengler was correct that Empire is “centralization unadulterated,” as was John Adams, that it is “despotism,” lacking “a rule of law.”

It is one thing to create a centralized welfare state, in which the Democrats have specialized since the New Deal,* and are now joined by the Republicans; it is quite another to create a vast military apparatus with which to go abroad in search of “monsters to destroy,” becoming in the process the world’s great, counter-revolutionary power.

We have, of course, done both, and “decentralization” hardly seems on the marching agenda of the Empire, in either area, or for discussion by either Party.

Cullen Murphy has written a rather insightful new book entitled, Are We Rome?, although I was rather surprised at the conceptual and factual sources that he ignored. I agree with him that Rome did not so much “fall,” as break off into Western Civilization. If the overextended US does not vaporize much of our planet with nuclear weapons first, it most likely will suffer a similar decline since it simply can’t continue to pay the bills for both its welfare state on the one hand, and its warfare state on the other. In the process it is apt to suffer considerable “blowback” from revolutionary forces, “out there,” however reactionary we may view them, for they see us as in that way as well.

Some suggestions for further reading, related to this article:

*HJ Haskell, The New Deal in Old Rome (1938. 1943).
Cullen Murphy, Are We Rome? (2007).
Carroll Quigley, The Evolution of Civilizations (1961, 1979).
Amaury de Riencourt, The Coming Caesars (1957).
_______________, The Soul of China (1958).
_______________, The Soul of India (1961).
_______________, The American Empire (1967).

Copyright 2007



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More Comments:


Arnold Shcherban - 8/25/2007

What the author of the article, you
commented on with the cynical arrogance of the single superempire in the world, basically meant to say is that it's as wrong to kill millions of human beings for the right (no pun intended) idea and goal, as it is for the wrong ones, period.


Rich superman - 8/22/2007

"Keeping the peace" boy, that is funny. Not much into reading history I presume. Let's see, we keep the peace by killing all potential revolutionaries. and their families. Can't beat that logic.


HNN - 8/21/2007

Dear Ms Reyes,
I have bracketed my responses to your observations.

I've been reading similar essays like this since I started reading newspapers in 1956. Evil America spending all this money against made up enemies and spreading it's evil all over the place...
[In no place did I say America was "Evil," although I did point out, I believe, some very mistaken policies by our leaders during a good part of the last century.]

It is 2007, and the Iron curtain fell a generation ago. Isn't it time to put away the Chomsky and start reading David Friedman instead?
[Nor did I refer to Noam Chomsky, or David Friedman, whom I met when he was a young physicist visiting the Institute for Humane Studies at a time in the mid-1970s when I was the Liberty Fund Senior Research Scholar there.]

Viet Nam, after losing 2 million of it's intellectuals as boat people, and another half million in reeducation camps, and 300 000 as refugees when they ethnically cleansed their Chinese population, has now embraced capitalism...Intel in Hanoi, thanks to California dudes who were born in Saigon going home to help.
[I would hardly call Vietnam an example of "capitalism," although much of the destruction of that society, some of which you mention, could have been avoided had the US honored its notion that WWII had something to do with self-determination in Asia. The Vietnamese had done a superb job of rescuing American flyers from the Japanese, whereas Chiang's troops often sold them to our enemy.]

If Ho had been allowed to win in 1950, then the "insurgents" would have similarly taken over Malaysia and the Philippines, and instead of the Asian tigers, we would all be cute peasants working behind our water buffalo on a socialist farm, worrying about the next harvest instead of eating spaghetti at Jolibee.
[This, of course, is simply speculative nonsense on your part, although I believe you mean 1945. You confuse nationalism, and anti-imperialism with socialism as did people like Dulles.]

Similarly, your analysis of the Middle East blames the US for the "mess". Does this mess include the Dubai Towers, the shopping malls in Mecca, and the Farsi internet?
[Here, again, apart from Dubai's oil money, what is the relevance of your observations to the mess?]

The middle East has had problems for 5000 years. Blame the Ottoman Empire for setting Sunnis in charge of Iraq. Or blame Ghengis Khan for looting Baghdad, or Darius for making Iraqis worry about Persian expansion.
[Again, irrelevant to the situation today.]

As for an American "empire", the main thing in common that the US has with Rome is that it keeps the peace.
[As Tacitus observed, the Romans destroyed an area and called it peace. We seem to be pretty good at that as well. We also call it "order."]

The Pax Americana, like the Pax Romana, was a good thing for the average man, allowing trade, peace, and prosperity for the average man.
[It was essentially a "slave" economy, which ultimately destroyed the middle class as even the welfare aspect disintegrated.]

And it's a heck of a lot better for most people that we had a Pax Americana than a Pax Stalin or a Pax Mao.
[There is no evidence the Soviet Union or Mao's China had the capability of carrying out such a policy, and little evidence either tried to do so.]


Nancy REYES - 8/20/2007

I've been reading similar essays like this since I started reading newspapers in 1956. Evil America spending all this money against made up enemies and spreading it's evil all over the place...

It is 2007, and the Iron curtain fell a generation ago. Isn't it time to put away the Chomsky and start reading David Friedman instead?

Viet Nam, after losing 2 million of it's intellectuals as boat people, and another half million in reeducation camps, and 300 000 as refugees when they ethnically cleansed their Chinese population, has now embraced capitalism...Intel in Hanoi, thanks to California dudes who were born in Saigon going home to help.

If Ho had been allowed to win in 1950, then the "insurgents" would have similarly taken over Malaysia and the Philippines, and instead of the Asian tigers, we would all be cute peasants working behind our water buffalo on a socialist farm, worrying about the next harvest instead of eating spaghetti at Jolibee.

Similarly, your analysis of the Middle East blames the US for the "mess". Does this mess include the Dubai Towers, the shopping malls in Mecca, and the Farsi internet?

The middle East has had problems for 5000 years. Blame the Ottoman Empire for setting Sunnis in charge of Iraq. Or blame Ghengis Khan for looting Baghdad, or Darius for making Iraqis worry about Persian expansion.

As for an American "empire", the main thing in common that the US has with Rome is that it keeps the peace.

The Pax Americana, like the Pax Romana, was a good thing for the average man, allowing trade, peace, and prosperity for the average man.

And it's a heck of a lot better for most people that we had a Pax Americana than a Pax Stalin or a Pax Mao.

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