“Imperialism and the global expansion of the western powers are represented in unambiguously positive terms as a major contributor to human civilisation,” wrote Frank Furedi in The New Ideology of Imperialism.
The invocation of ‘morality’ by the most powerful to justify wars in order to ‘enhance civilisation’, presumably harks back to a Christian vision of a better world. Thus, having invoked morality to justify sending British forces off to war in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, ‘Christian’ Tony Blair colluded in bombing and preventing food from reaching starving children.
Blair’s moral evangelicalism is probably rooted in Kipling whose reinforcing of ‘civilising’ imperial goals since Lord Curzon’s ‘Great Game’ of the late 19th century have been retained and extended. Underpinning the Washington consensus’s imperial geostrategic and moral-based humanitarian interventionism is the prevention by the US and its allies of vassal state collusion and the protection and security of tributaries.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to several US presidents, underlined that economic subjugation of vassal states is one of the key imperialist blueprints. A student of Brzezinski, John Negroponte, masterminded US terror in Central America. As US ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980s, Negroponte oversaw the regime’s funding of death squads and the administering of the CIA’s ‘Contra’ war of terror against neighbouring Nicaragua.
This barbarism is the context in which the US fashioned the present ‘global economy’. At a 1944 conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, America’s military and corporate establishments were given unlimited access to minerals, oil, markets and cheap labour. With the World Bank and IMF operating from their bases in Washington and connected to the US Treasury whose members’ voting power is determined by wealth, their respective roles are to implement a US strategy pivoting on strategic planner, George Kennan’s assertion that in order for the US to maintain its position as global hegemon, the country “should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation”.
Kennan’s 1948 dictum has helped perpetuate the myth that successive governments’ have been powerless to act against the giant corporations intrinsic to the growing disparity of global wealth between nations.
Indeed, reducing the state to the role of servile lackey to big business is one of the key justifications for the continuation of neoliberalism.
Thomas Friedman, the guardian of US foreign policy, was if nothing else, honest in his assessment of the rigged nature of the market system: “The hidden hand of the market”, he wrote, “will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe from Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
Bretton Woods and the ‘hidden hand’ is the context for Washington’s ongoing economic meddling against the democratic government of Venezuela led by socialist Nicolas Maduro who was elected into power in 2013.
The said context has been entirely missing from corporate mainstream reportage on Venezuela. On the January 24 edition of BBC News at Ten, for example, presenter Sophie Raworth in her introduction, and reporter, Jon Sopel in a follow-up piece, focused on the country’s “economic freefall” and “economic collapse” without any mention of the history of US interference, including severe US sanctions which forms a key part of what is a strategic plan by the US to ruin the Venezuelan economy.
These sanctions, effectively amounting to the waging of economic warfare are, as journalist Tim Young pointed out, “part of an overall strategy to undermine and topple the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro and secure control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves and other natural resources and wealth.” Threats to assassinate Maduro have also been made as part of the strategy to bring about a US-friendly government in Caracas.
Previous attempts at illegal regime change were made against Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, most notably the attempted coup in 2002. In April of that year, the New York Times described in Orwellian fashion, the illegal military intervention that temporarily overthrew the then democratically-elected president, as “a positive step away from dictatorship towards democracy.”
President Nicolas Maduro, who has been entrusted by the Venezuelan people to continue the Bolivarian revolutionary path mapped out by Chavez, initially began facing a systematic backlash from a corporate media in lock-step to Western capitalists hell-bent on destroying a socialist government’s control of vast oil reserves, almost two years ago:
“Venezuela Leaps Towards Dictatorship” said The Economist. “Venezuela Flirts With Outright Dictatorship”, exclaimed The Independent. The New York Times headlined with “Venezuela’s Descent Into Dictatorship”, while The Guardian’s “Let’s Call Venezuela What it is under Maduro: a Dictatorship”, was even more forthright in its message. To top it all, Newsweekwent for the double whammy, “Putin Steps In To Bolster Venezuelan Dictator, Maduro.”
Recent news to have emerged from the corporate media concern what are clearly coordinated and identically worded threats made against Maduro. The governments of Spain, Germany and France have stated that unless the Venezuelan president holds snap elections within eight days, they will recognize the self-proclaimed “interim president”, Juan Guaido (who?) as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
This is an indication that the propaganda has entered a new phase. It also comes on the back of the claim reportedly made by UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt that “Maduro is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela,” which presumably explains why the Bank of England felt it could justify the theft of £1.4 billion of Venezuela’s money.
Maduro’s Constituent Assembly election victory, contradicts Hunt’s assertion. Indeed, the democratic gains that the Bolivarian revolution have inspired have been phenomenal. Since the revolution became established, poverty in the country has fallen from 43% to 26% and extreme poverty from 17% to less than 7%. Moreover, children’s attendance at school has increased from six million to 13 million, while college attendance has more than quadrupled. Infant mortality has been reduced by an astonishing 50%.
Transformative socialist policies of this kind that have benefited the poorest were described, perversely, by US senator Marco Rubio as Maduro’s attempt to “permanently change the democratic order”. In reality, the purpose of the recently constituted assembly is to make the democratic gains made by Chavez irreversible. However, with millions of US dollars flowing into the country to fund opposition groups, allied to the decision of the Venezuelan government to drop the US dollar, would appear in totality to indicate that Washington is preparing for an illegal coup anytime soon.
We met up with the broadcaster and film maker, Max Keiser, to discuss whether the American Empire is repeating history within the context of a global economy arguably at the point of collapse.
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