by Ryan McMaken
By 1989, it had become apparent to all - everyone except
the CIA, of course - that the
Soviet economy, and thus the Soviet state was in very deep trouble.
In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down in the face of
And, with the Cold-War
corpse not even cold yet, president
George H.W. Bush used the newly
apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to expand U.S. foreign
interventionism beyond the limits that had been imposed on it by a
competing Soviet Union.
Over the next decade,
Bush and his successor
Bill Clinton - who very much
carried on Bush's ideals of global interventionism - would place,
...in the crosshairs.
But first on Bush's list was Panama in December 1989.
At the time, the
Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power
largely due to U.S. support, and functioned as an American puppet
state in Central America where Communists were often successful in
overthrowing right-wing dictatorships.
The U.S. regime's man in
Panama was Manuel Noriega.
But, after he stopped
taking orders from Washington, Noriega became the first in a long
line of foreign politicians who were held up as the next "Hitler" by
the American propaganda machine.
This was done in order to
justify what would become an endless policy of invading tiny foreign
countries that are no threat to the U.S. - mostly done
in the name of "humanitarian" intervention.
Writing in April 1990, Murray Rothbard summed up the
situation in Panama:
The U.S. invasion of
Panama was the first act of military intervention in the new
post-Cold War world - the first act of war since 1945 where the
United States has not used Communism or "Marxism-Leninism" as
the effective all-purpose alibi.
Coming so soon after
the end of the Cold War, the invasion was confused and chaotic -
a hallmark of Bushian policy in general.
Bush's list of
alleged reasons for the invasion were a grab-bag of haphazard
and inconsistent arguments - none of which made much sense.
The positive vaunting was, of course, prominent:
what was called,
idiotically, the "restoration of democracy" in Panama.
When in blazes did
Panama ever have a democracy?
Certainly not under
Noriega's beloved predecessor and mentor, the U.S.'s Panama
Treaty partner, General Omar Torrijos. The alleged
victory of the unappetizing Guillermo Endara in the
abortive Panamanian election was totally unproven.
The "democracy" the
U.S. imposed was peculiar, to say the least:
Endara and his "cabinet" in secrecy on a U.S. army base.
It was difficult for
our rulers to lay on the Noriega "threat" very heavily:
whatever his other sins, is obviously no Marxist-Leninist,
and since the Cold War is over anyway it would have been
embarrassing, to try to paint Noriega and his tiny country
as a grave threat to big, powerful United States.
And so the Bush
administration laid on the "drug" menace with a trowel, braving
the common knowledge that Noriega himself was a longtime CIA
creature and employee whose drug trafficking was at the very
least condoned by the U.S. for many years.
The administration therefore kept stressing that Noriega was
simply a "common criminal" who had been indicted in the U.S.
(for actions outside the U.S. - so why not indict every other
head of state as well - all of whom have undoubtedly committed
crimes galore?) so that the invasion was simply a police action
to apprehend an alleged fugitive.
But what real police
action - that is, police action over a territory over which the
government has a virtual monopoly of force -involves total
destruction of an entire working-class neighborhood, the murder
of hundreds of Panamanian civilians as well as American
soldiers, and the destruction of a half-billion dollars of
The invasion also contained many bizarre elements of low comedy:
There was the
U.S. government's attempt to justify the invasion
retroactively by displaying Noriega's plundered effects:
porno in the
desk drawer (well, gee, that sure justifies mass killing
and destruction of property)
obligatory picture of Hitler in the closet (Aha! the
Nazi threat again!)
the fact that
Noriega was stocking a lot of Soviet-made arms (a Commie
as well as a Nazi, and "paranoid" too - the deluded fool
was actually expecting an American invasion!)
It's almost darkly
comedic how easy it has been to convince the American
'people' to go along with nearly any justification for invading
a foreign country, no matter how flimsy.
It may be hard for my
younger readers to comprehend, but in the late 80s, the American
public was so hysterical with fear over street drugs, that it struck
many Americans as perfectly reasonable to invade a foreign country,
burn down a neighborhood, and send the U.S. Army to lay siege to
Panama's presidential headquarters to catch a single drug kingpin.
After Panama, President Bush moved
on to Iraq...
In 1991, Saddam Hussein became the next Hitler, with
the media hinting that if left unchecked, Hussein would invade the
entire Middle East.
"He gassed his own
people!" was the endless refrain.
The other justification
was that Saddam's government had invaded another country.
Rothbard, of course,
noted the irony of this "justification":
But, "he invaded a
small country." Yes, indeed he did.
But, are we
ungracious for bringing up the undoubted fact that none other
than George Bush, not long ago, invaded a very small country:
And to the unanimous
huzzahs of the same U.S. media and politicians now denouncing
The Iraq War was an even
greater political success than the Panama war.
But more importantly,
George Bush provided an immeasurably wonderful service to the
national security state by making war popular again, after
more than a decade of the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome."
As Bush so
enthusiastically declared after the end of the Gulf War,
"The ghosts of
Vietnam have been laid to rest beneath the sands of the Arabian
Americans, however, would
have done well to keep up with a healthy dose of post-Vietnam
After all, the 1991 Gulf
War - a war said to be 'humanitarian' in nature - accomplished
little more than to empower Saudi Arabia, a brutal Islamist
dictatorship ruled by friends of the Bush family, and
which currently wages a blood-soaked war in Yemen against women and
But, thanks to Bush's efforts, war in America was made popular
again, and the stage was set for years of follow-up wars waged by
By the mid-1990s, Slobodan Miloević was the new Hitler,
stepping in to replace Noriega and Hussein as the world's greatest
threats to peace.
The downside of these new Hitlers, of course, was that any
reasonable person could see that none of them were any threat
whatsoever to the United States.
Even the call for "humanitarian" action rung a little untrue for
more astute observers.
After all, it struck many
people as curious as to why Serbia required bombing for its human
rights violations while the genocide in Rwanda - which was occurring
right around the same time - was steadfastly ignored by Washington.
If human rights were such
a major concern for the U.S. state in the 90s, why was there no
invasion of North Korea in response to the horrors of the
death camps there?
New life was breathed into the military-interventionist camp
after 2001 by Osama bin Laden.
But "humanitarian" missions and the search for the next Hitler
continue to this day.
In 2011, the usual tactics were employed (by
Barack Obama) to justify the
invasion of Libya - which only made
the country a breeding ground for ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
And today, of course, we hear the same things about Bashar Assad
...before him, Assad is
obviously no threat to the U.S. or its residents.
Indeed, Assad is fighting
people who potentially are a threat to U.S. residents. But, since
the U.S. military establishment wants Assad gone, some excuse must
be manufactured for an invasion.
Ultimately, Rothbard concluded that these methods can be employed
against any regime on earth, and wrote sarcastically in 1994:
"'we cannot stand
idly by' while anyone anywhere starves, hits someone over the
head, is undemocratic, or commits a Hate Crime":
We must face the
fact that there is not a single country in the world that
measures up to the lofty moral and social standards that are
the hallmark of the U.S.A.: even Canada is delinquent and
deserves a whiff of grape.
There is not a
single country in the world which, like the U.S., reeks of
democracy and "human rights," and is free of crime and
murder and hate thoughts and undemocratic deeds.
Very few other
countries are as Politically Correct as the U.S., or
have the wit to impose a massively statist program in the
name of "freedom," "free trade," "multiculturalism," and
And so, since no other countries shape up to U.S. standards
in a world of Sole Superpower they must be severely
chastised by the U.S.
I make a Modest
Proposal for the only possible consistent and coherent
must, very soon, Invade the Entire World...!
peanuts; we must invade every country in the world, perhaps
softening them up beforehand with a wonderful high-tech
missile bombing show courtesy
George Bush's wars would prove
to be only an introduction to what was to come during the next 25
years of American foreign policy: target a foreign regime that poses
no threat to the U.S., and manufacture a nice-sounding reason for
Today, the methods are
the same, and only the names have changed....