It really serves no useful purpose to reiterate the obstacles we face. They range from the Iraq War, to the environment, from the scandals in Washington, to the disaster we call health care. Least we think that we are living in a unique age, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins should lay that fantasy to rest. We, the American People, have been at it for a number of years. Maybe even since the founding of our Republic.
People tend to go on about the Roman Empire and how it was built on slavery and the oppression of the civilizations that they conquered (e.g. Carthage, see Salambo by Flaubert). We have had our share of conquests starting with the obliteration of native cultures in North and South America after 1492 (see The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz). I have worked on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona occasionally. While there are still remnants of the Navajo and Hopi culture extant there, Westernization of these native peoples has been a disaster for them in many ways. One of the more medically significant is not so subtly (via TV, unemployment and fast food) directing them towards a very unhealthy lifestyle vis a vis their genetic makeup. If you did not believe in evolution before, seeing how these once active and sleek warriors have developed massive obesity, diabetes and depression as a result of inactivity is a poignant lesson (if your genes say eat, you eat, because if you don't eat when food is available, you starve).
But there have been many recent instances of our Empire building activities that will stick in the caw of History. Peters, who I referred to above, mentions a number of which the probable assassination of Omar Torrijos of Panama (who preceded Noriega) and Jaime Roldos of Ecuador seem especially sinister. Involvement of the CIA in both is almost a given. The current treatment of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and the ongoing vituperative condemnation of Fidel Castro, also come to mind. Is it not at least possible that we have been wrong about Castro? That he has, in reality, provided a basic level of sustenance for his people, against overwhelming odds? The spectacle of 1,500 doctors ready and willing to come aid the poor of Louisiana after hurricane Katrina while our FEMA was off playing the guitar will come back to haunt us.
I've also worked with doctors from the main teaching hospital in Bucharest, Romania. As part of that project, I had dinner with Richard Helms (past director of the CIA) in the late 1990's, in a futile effor to raise money for the treatment of pediatric leukemia in Romania. He sat next to me and, of course, I was awed to be in the presence of what I thought was a great man. Reading Perkins, I realize that he, and all his cronies including, in particular, George H.W. and George W. Bush, are despicable and vile men. They have sold the soul of America for their personal gain. They are so emeshed in croney capitalism that they cannot see where they are taking us.
Least you doubt me about Helms, here is a quote from his biography:
Helms was named as his (Richard Bussel's) deputy. Together they became responsible for what became known as the CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). This including a coup d'état that overthrew the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after he introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company.My main concern at this time is a question: "Where are the honest men and women who will lead us out of this mess?"
Other political leaders deposed by Executive Action included Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, General Abd al-Karim Kassem of Iraq and Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of South Vietnam. However, his main target was Fidel Castro who had established a socialist government in Cuba. (emphasis added)
If you have the answer, let me know.