30 August 2007 By Reason Wafawarova
SINCE the United States assumed global leadership from Britain at the
end of the Second World War; when it emerged as the biggest beneficiary
of the war, a development that saw it declare the era of "the American
century", Washington has been obsessed with using force to thwart small
In fact, the US emerged as a superpower that is scared of small
countries. While this statement might seem contradictory, political
analyses of US behaviour over the past 62 years proves otherwise.
During this period the US, among many other invasions went into Cuba,
Grenada, Panama, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan.
It also sponsored and armed reactionary rebels in their CIA engineered
proxy wars in Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Congo and Nicaragua, to
mention just a few countries.
The Americans also led embargo campaigns on Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua,
North Korea and Zimbabwe.
The US portrays more concerns and worries about the behaviour of small
states than it has about its more powerful rivals like India, China or
the European Union.
When Ronald Reagan was asked to justify his administration's trade
embargo against Nicaragua in 1985 he said, "the policies and actions of
Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national
security and foreign policy of the United States."
Does this quotation ring a bell to Zimbabweans?
It should, given that both Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush have
almost repeated it verbatim in their attempt to justify the so-called
Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (2001), a sanctions law
that bars multilateral lending institutions, with dealings with the US,
from extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe.
It also bars American companies from trading with Zimbabwe.
In 1985, people outside the US questioned how an underdeveloped peasant
nation of three million people, as was Nicaragua then, could possibly
constitute an "extraordinary threat" to the security of the US, then one
of the two most powerful superpowers of the world.
Today, many outside the US still wonder how a largely peasant nation of
13 million people, Zimbabwe, can possibly constitute "an unusual and
extraordinary threat" to the foreign policy of the US.
This writer says many outside the US would question this kind of
thinking because the mainstream US society has often believed its ruling
elite whenever it speaks this way. This is precisely because the US and
much of the western world; has some of the most indoctrinated and
brainwashed people of this world as Noam Chomsky rightly pointed out in
the book, Latin America: From Colonisation to Globalisation, 1999.
In 1982, the Reagan administration, through the US Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff went on air to tell the American public that Grenada was
a military threat to the US.
The mere fact that this was pronounced indicates the power of
indoctrination and brainwashing contained in the two most powerful
agents of imperialism, namely, western politicians and their mass media.
The fact that the American public could hear their chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff publicly utter this ludicrous statement without
exploding into raucous laughter, was yet another indication of the
degree of indoctrination.
This "extraordinary" military threat led to the invasion of Grenada in
1983 and 6 000 American elite troops descended on 40 Cubans and a couple
of hundred Grenadine military men, earning themselves a total 8 000
medals for the "valour" that led to this enormous victory. The American
media went berserk, spewing euphoric pugnacious and jingoistic
sentiments over the vainglorious accomplishment.
Noam Chomsky, in the fore-mentioned book, analysed why the US is so
scared of small states, in particular, he evaluated the concepts of US
national security and foreign policy.
He says the threat to the security of the US by these oft-quoted small
nations is too ludicrous to warrant any discussion, but the threat to US
foreign policy is quiet real. Chomsky argues that it is the small, weak
states that actually pose the greatest threat to American foreign
This, he says, is the only explanation that can be given for the
extraordinary savagery the US has displayed against some of the weakest
and most inconsequential countries like Laos and Grenada.
It is like this, the weaker the country, the greater the banditry and
savagery. The logic behind this can only be understood in the context of
the underlying basis upon which US foreign policy is formulated.
To understand this it may be necessary to revisit what George Kennan,
head of the policy planning unit in the US State Department, 1948, said
about American foreign policy.
Said Kennan: "We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only
6,3 percent of its population . . . In this situation, we cannot fail to
be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period
is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to
maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our
national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all
sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be
concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.
"We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of
altruism and world benefaction . . . We should cease to talk about vague
and -- for the Far East -- unreal objectives such as human rights, the
raising of living standards, and democratisation.
The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight
power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans the
Today, those very "unreal objectives" form the cornerstone of US foreign
policy on Zimbabwe, Iraq and Afghanistan, that despite the fact that
they remain nothing but "idealistic slogans".
The fundamental principles of American foreign policy and indeed that of
all imperialist countries are to ensure what Kennan once called "the
protection of our raw materials." One would think that he was referring
to raw materials found within the United States but he was actually
referring to the raw materials of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East
Kennan did not bother to explain from whom he intended to have those raw
materials protected. The only plausible explanation he could give was
that there was need to protect "our raw materials" against the Russians
and other "communists". The Russians and communists were the two major
factors that frightened the US and western communities the most between
1945 and 1990. Today, the major source of fear among the western
communities is terrorism, ostensibly fronted by the face of Al-Quaeda
and Osama bin Laden.
The real threats against whom the Americans want to protect "their"
resources are indeed the indigenous people who are the bona fide owners
of those raw materials. Some of these indigenous people have made the
"mistake" of embarking on policies aimed at making indigenous
populations use and benefit from their resources.
In the eyes of the US ruling elite, that kind of conspiracy is totally
intolerable; for it poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat". It
simply has to be stopped.
This kind of conspiracy is what makes little countries like Laos,
Grenada, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe so significant as to warrant worldwide
headlines in the western media.
The significance is derived from the fact that by embarking on social
policies that are welfare based, these small countries may succeed in
empowering their own populations and if this leads to successful
economic and social development, it may constitute a model for others,
thereby having an undesired domino effect.
This is precisely why Henry Kissinger said Salvador Allende's Chile had
to be stopped as it stood a dangerously high chance of infecting other
countries -- it would be a virus. In other words economic and social
development for any other country other than the US and its western
allies is a disease that might infect other countries to the detriment
of US foreign policy. When they are not calling such development a
disease they are calling it a "rotten apple", "rot", or, as they prefer
these days, "a rogue state."
The thinking behind the US' savagery on smaller states is that the
smaller the state the higher the chance of success for these social
policies and therefore the smaller the state the greater the threat of
the disease of social and economic development in poor countries. This
is precisely why the US wants land reform in Zimbabwe to fail. If it
succeeds in a small country like Zimbabwe, what will stop people of the
much bigger South Africa from following suit?
Laos, a very small country next to Thailand became a target of US savage
attacks in 1958 as the Americans overthrew its democratic government and
installed its extremely brutal right-wing dictatorial regime. The small
country was to later be a subject of ruthless US aerial attacks.
This was a small poor peasant country made up of isolated peasant
villages, inhabited by villagers who hardly knew that there was an
outside world until they began to see those bird-like metal things
appearing up in the sky and dropping bombs on them.
The question is why would a sophisticated superpower controlling half of
the world's wealth destroy the misery field life of a peasant society?
Laos committed a grave "crime" under Pathet Lao, a mild revolutionary
who led a low-level agrarian reform programme that began to yield
results by expanding the health and educational sectors. In the eyes of
the American ruling elite, the "stupid" peasants were using raw
materials in Laos for their own purposes and such "insolence" had to be
The US would care nothing if a country like Grenada disappeared from the
face of the earth today. It is so small and insignificant in terms of US
material interests. Nevertheless, Grenada was invaded in 1983.
The US began to put Grenada on their hostile media radar as soon as
Maurice Bishop's government came to power in 1979. The US administration
began to demonstrate its extraordinary hostility by cutting off aid,
carried out scaring military threats, established an embargo and finally
invaded the tiny country in 1983.
Bishop's socialist government could not be allowed to succeed, lest
neighbouring countries would follow suit and pose "unusual and
extraordinary threats" to the foreign policy of the US.
The Nicaraguan Sandinista programmes created more sorrow than happiness
for Nicaragua though they had a successful land reform programme,
increased literacy, improved the health delivery system, reduced infant
mortality and increased life expectancy -- even earning an award from
the World Health Organisation. While WHO saw social and economic
development, the US ruling elite saw "an unusual and extraordinary
threat" since the Sandinistas were "stealing" America's resources for
their own purposes. And that is why the US trained, armed, nurtured and
partnered the Contras in fighting the Sandinistas.
Of course, eventually the Sandinistas did fall just like Bishop's
government in Grenada.
The same threat the Americans saw in Nicaragua, Laos and Grenada were
also perceived in Angola, Congo, Ghana and Mozambique.
In Angola, the US sponsored Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebels for more than
20 years. In Congo, they organised the overthrow and murder of Patrice
Lumumba before installing a ruthless dictatorial regime led by Mobutu
Sese Seko. In Ghana, they sponsored and organised the overthrow of Kwame
Nkrumah while in Mozambique they sponsored and trained the murderous
Renamo of Afonso Dhlakama.
In all these African countries, the excuse given by the US was that the
governments were communist, a development that probably stood more
threatening than terrorists in the eyes of the western community during
the Cold War era. They even successfully assassinated Samora Machel, the
then Mozambican president, in 1986.
Of course, both the US and apartheid South Africa, on whose soil the
assassination was carried out, never admitted to any wrongdoing although
the US acknowledged that they viewed Machel as the communist point-man
in Southern Africa.
This analysis of historical events involving the US should help put into
perspective, Washington's sanctions regime against Zimbabwe, which
sanctions are supported by the western alliance.
It is an analysis relevant to the course and direction of the Third
It is an analysis relevant to the relationship between the MDC and its
partners in the so-called civic society, and the US led western
It is also an analysis of Zimbabwe's chances of standing its ground the
way Cuba has done since 1958; the way Venezuela has done since 1999,
about the same time Zimbabwe embarked on the agrarian reform programme.
The reality behind the US led western alliance's relationship with the
Government as well as its opposition has nothing to do with the rhetoric
of human rights, rule of law, democracy or freedom -- tenets the US
generally views as idealistic slogans.
In fact the US, like any other imperial power, regards rule of law as a
slogan to be used for three purposes, according to Chomsky.
Firstly, it is a slogan to pacify the domestic populations in the
imperialists' own backyard. Secondly, it is a slogan so effectively used
to denounce official enemies of the US's ruling elite.
Thirdly, it is a last resort in dealing with problems where all other
covert means have proved ineffective. This is the extent to which the US
and its western allies are committed to the doctrine of the rule of law,
otherwise, apart from those three concerns all imperialists are sworn to
the Rule of Force. It is high time all Zimbabweans reflected on and saw
the real challenge before us in its perspective and decide the best way
out of the prevailing challenges.
The US acts in the knowledge that it reversed agrarian reforms and
installed puppet regimes in many countries and we, Zimbabweans, act in
the knowledge that we have freed ourselves from foreign domination
before and some agrarian reform programmes have succeeded elsewhere.
We would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer