My Liberal Origins Explained

This piece explains how America’s Imperialism forged my political point of view
 My Liberal Origins Explained
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I don’t like how people defined me as a liberal. Sorry, it’s not what you think.

Economically, I lean left but have no problem with conservatives’ market based approach.  Ying and Yang and unfortunately the process suffers because the Republican Party has marginalized its message with nonsense like where people go to the bathroom, who can get married and denying evolution.

Content in the center, it began when I studied the Vietnam War.

I was horrified. The war was far more complicated and outright atrocious than the North-South communist split.

In the interest of space, I will encapsulate kindly in the words of Daniel

Ellsberg and his book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam.   Truman through Johnson, administrations knew the war wasn’t winnable, but for political expediency, the conflict was simply strung along.

For this, three million Vietnamese were killed and 58,000 Americans died. As for Nixon, he was willing to lay waste the country and nearly did.

I moved onto Latin America. Our intervention began with one William Walker. Opting out of the Civil War, this adventurer actually made himself President of Nicaragua.  He didn’t last long, and soon found himself at the end of a rope, but the idea caught on.

America eventually occupied the country from 1909-1933 and installed the ruthless Somoza dictatorship. Exceedingly friendly to American business, trickle down economics did not apply. 

Imperialism had a new name - hegemony.  

History left it to a two time Congressional Medal of Honor winner to spill the beans. “I helped make Mexico safe for American oil in 1914 and made Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 and brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar, lamented Smedley Butler, self-proclaimed “gangster for Capitalism." 

The unholy grail of intervention took place in Guatemala in 1953, and the pattern of tying popular movements to communism provided the rationale.

In 1952, 2% of the population owned 70% of the land, and prior to the toppling of the Jorge Ubico dictatorship, its leader sized up the peasant’s disposability. “Farm workers were roped together like animals by Ubico’s army and delivered to plantations where they were forced to work in debt slavery, wrote David Talbot in The Devil’s Chessboard

In turn, Jacobo Arbenz led the revolution, won the presidency and instituted land reform. Unfortunately, the moderate legislation, which seized only unused land and provided compensation, ran afoul of its owner.  “The powerful influence of United Fruit could be felt throughout Washington, where the company had high-placed friends and stockholders,” wrote Talbot. 

This included Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who sat on the company’s board. In charge of the dirty work, though, and claiming a “Soviet Beachhead” was his brother and CIA Director Allen Dulles.

A reign of terror supposedly encapsulating the countryside, US interest enlisted an unsavory band of mercenaries to recalibrate the situation.  

But the unraveling occurred as CIA pilots created havoc by bombing the capital.  Losing military support, Arbenz fled rather than provoking civil war. 

But a coup was not enough. The perils of taking on American elites had to be accentuated.  As he and his family embarked for exile, Arbenz was strip searched before a jeering crowd and packed into the Mexican Embassy for 73 days, while all future exiles were fraught with harassment. 

A global CIA

disinformation campaign alleged ties to Moscow, political assassinations and a personal run on Guatemala’s treasury.  Additionally, Arbenz’s personal life became fodder for the newspapers and embellished as needed. 

Broken, Arbenz was found dead in a scolding tub in 1971, which was suspiciously ruled a suicide. The actual suicides of his daughters aside,the CIA refused to leave any doubt. “An educated, articulate reformer who had stood up to the US Government, he was a threat to these powerful interests,” Talbot conveyed the words of Arbenz’s grandson, Dr. Erick Arbenz.

But tragedy on a much larger scale never found exile.    

At the behest of US backers, purges took the lives of over 250,000 people because the residue of Arbenz had to be eradicated. But communism wasn’t the cancer the elite feared, according to Talbot. “His followers believed that in a democracy the people chose the government. Guatemala needed land reform and the workers deserved protection under the law,”  Talbot specified.

Guatamala wasn’t alone, and movements in The Congo, Iran and Chile met similar ends. 

But even though I find both parties suspect, Democrats acknowledge the  Vietnam debacle and at least give lip service to CIA and foreign policy misadventures.

So my inclinations lay with the constituencies and their respective mouthpieces.  When Sean Hannity sermonizes on America’s exalted place, Arbenz and others get no airing. This offends me.

His audience is more troubling. As I observe, their introspection is dangerously superficial. 

Despite the continent conquered, our revolution did yield remarkable freedoms. Unfortunately, this helps pull the blinds in search of more.

WWII also provides cover. America’s heroism went a long way to undoing the Nazi’s, and drawing from above, patriotism dictates that everything else must follow suit.

Not a chance, but liberals aren’t the only literate ones.  

Conservatives see the Mossadeq's and Allende’s of the world as the price of self-preservation. There’s definitely legitimacy to the argument. 

But for my purposes, self-enrichment clouds the viewpoint. See Dick Cheney, and the web of intrigue surrounding the Clinton Foundation.

Talbot offers more nuance to feign the need for strength. “It is permanent war fever that empowers the country’s political and military hierarchies and the increasingly militarized corporate sector. It is the very life blood of the ruling group’s existence.”

Or not but you don’t see their mouthpieces discussing histories like Guatemala. It might not be conducive to Hannity's narrative.

So why take the chance, and I can’t be party to that.

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