The old terrorism has become the new mask with which imperialism demonizes the governments that it wants to invade. Recall that George W. Bush, after his people were attacked by terrorism clearly linked to Saudi Arabia, the country with the largest oil reserves in the Middle East, already controlled by the United States, decided to attack Iraq without finding any tie to it, in order to control also the third-largest reserves: those in second place belong to Iran, which the U.S. also has in its sights.
During the meeting at the Capitol on November 17, 2010, the radicals of the Republican Party tried very hard to connect Venezuela, Bolivia y Ecuador –which are also oil-exporting countries– with the Islamic terrorism supposedly promoted by Iran. They began by saying that the mentioned governments are hostile to the U.S., and therefore anti-American; that they are growing closer to Iran, becoming “friends of our enemies,” and are therefore already a threat involving weapons of mass destruction.
I could feel the fear in the audience while I heard this, and I realized that that was exactly the objective of the Republicans: to terrorize with terrorism. I had to tie some loose ends to be able to understand the logic of that old Republican discourse. I began by wondering what could be their real reason for fearing change so much and for clinging to the status quo. They feel that their rights are intrinsic and of Divine origin –I thought– but I had to dig into history to prove it.
The settlers who established their colonies in America did so not only in search of religious freedom, but also to be able to govern themselves their own way in order to develop and protect their interests. Later they declared independence from England in order to avoid paying taxes without representation, and that’s how the United States was founded.
Searching beyond the rhetoric, one can see clearly that the concept of liberty for the people was missing from the real motives for independence, in a country that continued to be a slave country and in which millions of Indians were exterminated to make possible its expansion.
It’s undeniable that the country’s laws were intended to protect the economic interests to which everything else was subordinated. That is why the conservatives always have defended the status quo, which, nonetheless, because of its cruelty, could not be openly defended, forcing them to act as if they were clinging to the past only in order to maintain their “traditional family values.” The truth is that change and every evolution in thinking were always for them a threat to their original advantages with which they founded the country.
That explains why the humanization of U.S. society had to be fought for, and that it cost a river of blood. The emancipation of the slaves, for example, was inspired by change, which was ferociously resisted by the defenders of the status quo with a Civil War that cost 618,000 lives and 412,000 wounded. But the struggle did not end with the victory of the north, because the new union continued to be an oligarchic society, as unjust as it was contrary to every principle of humanity. Much blood was shed to end racial segregation, and to achieve human rights, public education, the breakup of the monopolies, the abolition of child labor, a minimum wage, the rights of women, etc. etc. All of those basic rights for human beings were resisted by the conservatives although they are now recognized by the world as the most admirable part of our country: the human part that has united us as a people and influenced the rest of the world.
The nation is in truth powerful, and the conservatives boast of defending their supremacy, although in doing so they omit mention of the enormous human cost. The history of North American power is therefore one of expansion with the extermination of the Indians, of agricultural prosperity with slavery, of industrial prosperity with the exploitation of labor, of wars waged to expand our power abroad while progressives fought for human rights at home, and, most recently, of wasting trillions in wars against “terrorism” abroad while the country falls apart economically.
It’s a largely-irrational reality that can be understood only by taking into account the U.S. is the result of two ideological currents with opposing objectives. Supremacy in the global context is without a doubt the Republican objective, and its foreign policy is, logically, the irritant in the relations with the rest of the world.
North American imperialism and its corresponding anti-imperialism are consequently no more than the globalization of the internal conflicts of North American reality. The Republicans call themselves patriots because they defend the original postulates of the republic, as wrong as those may have been. They quote frequently from the Bible to justify their “traditionalism,” while defending the interests of the rich who identify so much with money; and they are so few in relation to the people that they represent in reality the individualism and greed that generates poverty for the many. They accuse the Democrats of being anti-American, socialists, communists, and therefore traitors to the “capitalist” homeland founded by their ancestors.
Abroad, they also accuse progressives of being anti-American in order to mark them as “a danger to national security, and terrorists by association.” Terrorism, however, has nothing to do with anti-imperialism, as the former is a crime against humanity that caused deaths around the world long before it was used by Islamist extremists against the U.S. They, too, surely have their own reasons to fight against empires, but unlike the anti-imperialists they do not do it with the power of the vote in a democracy.
Terrorism is not justifiable under any point of view, and should be eliminated from the face of the earth, the same as imperialism. But, until that happens, humanity can not allow itself to be confused by the religious radicals of both extremes. Anti-imperialism is as legitimate as it is democratic, and represents, further, the internationalization of the noblest progressive North American ideals: the right to life, liberty, dignity, health, social justice, and, of course, family. That is our connection with others and therefore with the flow of life. The Republicans are so disconnected from that life that they invented the shortcut of attributing it to God, with whom they presume a direct connection.
The difference between the anti-imperialists and the imperialists, accordingly, reduces to the difference between progressives and conservatives: the old dilemma of “to be or not to be”… part of humanity.