by Wahida C. Valiante
November 16 2006
Since we live in a period that American policy planners have dubbed the “New World Order,” it is important that we examine U.S. foreign policy and its influence on geopolitical affairs in the recent past. Those who tend to become misty-eyed by the alluring words of democracy, liberty and freedom for the people of Middle East should read Policy Planning Study 23.
George F. Kennan was one of America's major figures in shaping the world as it recovered from World War II. In 1948, Kennan wrote Policy Planning Study 23; it is considered a key document in designing what the American administration calls the "New World Order." Here is an example of what it says:
"We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population … Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so … our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives … We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. 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 better."
This was, of course, a top secret document so to pacify the general public, it was necessary to trumpet the "idealistic slogans" Kennan despised (as is still being done constantly today), but in the pages of Policy Planning Study 23, planners were talking only to one another. Thus, the study continues: “Meanwhile, our own public has been grievously misled by the sentimentalists on the significance of the area to ourselves; and we are only beginning with the long and contentious process of re-education which will be necessary before a realistic Far Eastern policy can receive the popular understanding it deserves.”
Obviously America wanted to maintain its economic superiority, and to do that it was fully prepared to deal in clearly stated “straight power concepts.” In a briefing for U.S. Ambassadors to Latin American countries in 1950, Kennan observed that a major concern of U.S. foreign policy must be “the protection of our (i.e. Latin America’s) raw materials”!
Kennan also saw a “dangerous heresy” in the idea that a government should be held responsible for the welfare of its people. He went on to describe the means to be used against those who fall prey to this heresy: “The final answer may be an unpleasant one, but we should not hesitate before police repression by the local government …”
To ensure its economic mastery, the U.S. was advised to oppose the distribution of national wealth among its people, and to support governments that relegated their people’s economic interests behind those of America, even if those governments were repressive.
The repression of people's legitimate aspirations was seen as merely incidental to the economic interests and objectives of the United States. Interestingly, any governments that refused to buy into Kennan's "heresy" of social welfare and sought genuine economic independence could fall into a number of negative ideological groups; communist, socialist, nationalist, Islamic, liberal, etc.
A careful study of post-World War II American foreign policy reveals a ruthless pursuit of national economic goals at the expense of the lives and economic well-being of people from various regions, including South America and the Middle East. The total list is much longer than space permits here.
In Chile, for example, when the liberal and democratically elected government of Salvador Allende decided to nationalize the country's mining industry, the American CIA replaced him with the dictatorial Pinochet regime; a government that was guilty of gross human rights violations, political oppression, detentions without trial, and torture.
In the case of Nicaragua, American interference was so blatant and horrible that the world court found the U.S. guilty of criminal activity and ordered it to pay 17 million dollars in reparations.
In Vietnam, America unleashed its fury by dropping ten tons of bombs for each Vietnamese citizen! Vietnam's "crime" was that a dedicated group of nationalists decided to relieve rampant poverty among the people and to undertake concrete measures for their welfare. This was considered a threat to American interests.
Other regimes equally guilty of Study 23's heresy of social responsibility included Cuba, Libya and Iran. Cuba defied America not only by nationalizing its economy, but also by helping other countries to gain their independence. Cuban troops helped defeat the South African army at Cuito Cuanavale, leading to the independence of Namibia and Angola. Cuba was also a major player in persuading the South African government to negotiate with the African National Congress (ANC).
In the case of Libya, Mouamar Khaddafi’s regime nationalized oil fields, expelled British and American naval and air bases, sent 20,000 Italians out of the country, and undertook other acts of economic protection. America responded with destabilization measures, and an economic blockade; in 1986 the U.S. even launched direct bombing attacks.
The Shah of Iran, a notorious U.S. client, ruled through the brutal instrument of his American-trained Savak security forces until he was toppled and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution. America’s response was to impose war on Iran through Saddam Hussein’s client state in Iraq, to impose economic sanctions (including an arms embargo) and to plot the assassination of key government figures through local agents.
In reality, any regime, whether it adopts Islam, socialism, or any other ideology, will incur the implacable opposition of America. In fact, America does not see it as a matter of ideology alone, since it accepts Islam in its most shallow and regressive form -- such as it exists in many parts of the Muslim world. This is the brand of Islam that funds America’s wars (notably the Gulf War), as well as investing in American banks and serving American economic interests. So it would be a gross over-simplification to assume that the so-called “New World Order” is anti-Islamic, for it is not; it is, however, against the revolutionary aspect of Islam that demands a nation undertake the "heresy" of assuming direct responsibility for the welfare of its own people through the wealth of the land.
At a time when America feels it has won an incontestable victory over the Muslim world and is brimming with arrogance and over-confidence, it is worth remembering that revolution and economic redistribution form a feasible model for true independence -- one which oppressed nations may try to undertake within their own particular religious, political and socio-economic framework. As the above examples demonstrate, the price to be paid for this attempt may be a hefty one. But as the Qur’an says:
"Verily, God does not change the condition of a people unless they change their own condition." (13:11)
Mrs. Wahida C. Valiante is a family counselor and national vice-president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.