DISSIDENTS, DEMOCRACY, AND IMPERIALISMSeptember 21, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Sept. 9, 2011, delivered an informative speech in New York City at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The speech, for those who know the name, could have been written in the 1950s by George Kennan, or even Frank Wisner of the State Department's notorious Office of Policy Coordination. Clinton stated that the US would work to create strong stable democracies around the world and that "We are waging a broad, sustained and relentless campaign that harnesses every element of American power against terrorism, and even as we remain tightly focused on the terrorist network that attacked us 10 years ago, we’re also thinking about the next 10 years and beyond..."
Part of this effort has included encouraging and secretly funding the dissident movements' "spontaneous uprisings" in the Middle East, and the Obama Administration has been covertly funding Iranian dissident movements since 2009. Clearly, we are injecting power by any means possible into a volatile and dangerous region of the world, all in an effort - in my opinion an ultimately futile one - to preserve an empire and its energy resources.
There is a lesson, perhaps, from history here, in the Gladstone government's efforts in the 19th century to put down a similar "dissident" movement in the Sudan, a lesson we'd do well to remember. Then, British general and war hero General Charles "Chinese" Gordon led a small British expeditionary force to defend Khartoum against a horde of Islamic fundamentalists led by a man claiming to be the Islamic messiah, the Imam Mahdi. This episode was even made into a movie staring Charlton Heston and Sir Lawrence Olivier. Gordon's expedition was wiped out by the overwhelming numbers of the Mahdi's forces, notwithstanding all of General Gordon's tactical skill and superior British firepower.
We need only remember that the first modern populist movement in that region, led by Mossadegh in Iran, was popular in the West....until Mossadegh made moves to nationalize the Iranian oil industry and wrest control of it from the British and American petroleum interests...then, of course, the CIA mounting its now infamous coup d'etat planned by Kermit Roosevelt that installed Reza Pahlavi as the Shah, a man whose brutal regime brought the ultimate blowback and the even more brutal regime of the Ayatollahs. We have not, apparently, learned our lesson.
What intrigues me, and it surely must intrigue most people, is why all these dissident movements, while ousting notoriously corrupt and inhuman regimes like Mubarek's seem to be ushering in political philosophies ostensibly even more at variance with Western views and values? Why fund and aid and abet further instability in the region? While I do not like entertaining speculations or conspiracy theories, Secretary Clinton's speech gives me pause, for it is a clear statement of the intention to extend American power by all means available. It can only be, in my conclusion, that such "regime changes" are desired, as if to create the conditions for a war which will allow the unrestrained destruction of a culture, and the projection of unrestrained power into that region. We will be no more successful than Darius, Alexander, Titus, Justinian, Khosroe, or Gladstone. Their successes were fleeting, their empires have come and gone.