It Never Happened


Pinter

Can it be true? Are the other "major powers" in the
world finally moving towards a position where their contempt for
the assertion of U.S. power is actually being embodied in action?

For the fourth year running the United Nations has voted for
the motion condemning the U.S. embargo of Cuba, this time by 137
votes (including Great Britain) to 3. The countries against the
motion were the U.S., Israel, and Usbekistan. The European Union
is taking the U.S. to the World Trade Organization panel, arguing
that the Helms/Burton bill is illegal. Fourteen out of fifteen
members of the Security Council (including Great Britain) voted
against the U.S. veto of Boutros-Boutros-Ghali. The U.S. was on
its own.

How can any country stand out against such a consensus?:
137-3; 14-1. How can any country, in the light of such blanket
condemnation of its policies and actions, not pause to take a
little thought, not subject itself to even the mildest and most
tentative critical scrutiny? The answer is quite simple. If you
believe you still call all the shots you just don’t give a
shit. You say, without beating about the bush: Yes, sure, I am
biased and arrogant and in many respects ignorant but so what? I
possess the economic and military might to back me to the hilt
and I don’t care who knows it. When I say that I also occupy
the moral high ground you’d better believe it.

The U.S. is without a doubt the greatest show on the road.
Brutal, indifferent, scornful, and ruthless it may be but
it’s also very smart. As a salesperson it’s out on its
own. And its most salable commodity is self-love. It’s a
winner. The U.S. has actually educated itself to be in love with
itself. Listen to Clinton–and before him, Bush and before him,
Reagan and before him all the others–say on television the
words: "The American People" as in the sentence "I
say to the American People it is time to pray and to defend the
rights of the American People and I ask the American People to
trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf
of the American People." A nation weeps. It’s a pretty
brilliant stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep
thought at bay. The words The American People provide a truly
voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don’t need to think.
Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your
intelligence and your critical faculties but you don’t know
that. Nobody tells you. So the status quo remains where it is and
Father Christmas remains American and America remains the Land of
the Brave and the Home of the Free.

Except, of course, for the one and a half million people in
prison, the 50 million living under the poverty line, the
adolescents and mentally deficient about to be gassed or injected
or electrocuted in the 38 out of 52 states which carry the death
penalty. They don’t feel quite the same about this cushion
of reassurance but nobody listens to them anyway. As they are
mostly poor and black they are essentially subversive. They are
subversive because where they are resentful and critical and
degraded and angry they threaten the stability of the State. The
one thing they can have is God. If they want "him." God
belongs to every American. Successive American presidents have
made this quite clear.

Sometimes you look back in recent history and you ask: Did all
that really happen? Were half a million "Communists"
massacred in Indonesia in 1965 (the rivers clogged with corpses)?
Were 200,000 people killed in East Timor in 1975 by the
Indonesian invaders? Have 300,000 people died in Central America
since 1960? Has the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey
reached levels approaching genocide? Are countless Iraqi children
dying every month for lack of food and medicine brought about by
UN sanctions? Did the military coups in Argentina, Uruguay,
Brazil, and Chile result in levels of repression and depth of
suffering comparable to Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and the
Khmer Rouge? Has the U.S. to one degree or another inspired,
engendered, subsidized, and sustained all these states of
affairs? The answer is yes. It has and it does. But you
wouldn’t know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was
happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was
of no interest. The crimes of the U.S. throughout the world have
been systematic, constant, clinical, remorseless, and fully
documented but nobody talks about them. Nobody ever has. Of
course, it’s probably more than a newspaper or TV
channel’s life is worth to do so. It must be said that as
the absolute necessity of economic control is at the bottom of
all this, any innocent bystander who happens to raise his/her
head must be kicked in the teeth. This is entirely logical. The
market must and will overcome.

Perhaps the story that really takes the biscuit or beats the
band or finally makes the cat laugh is the story of Haiti, a
story virtually ignored by the world for decades. Haiti suffered
under the grisly Duvalier dictatorships and their paramilitary
force, the Ton Ton Macoutes, for 29 years. By 1986 popular
feeling was so powerful that the Duvalier regime collapsed. Other
military dictatorships followed but in 1990 the first actual
democratic election in Haiti took place. Aristide was elected
with 67 percent of the vote. His platform: "To bring the
Haitian people from misery to dignity." Eight months later
there was a coup d’etat. For three years the military again
ruled. During this period, 5,000 people were killed. The U.S. was
finally forced to act. It led a UN force to the island, to
"restore democracy."

What it actually did was to restore the status quo. To give
the generals various modes of asylum and protection and to
effectively emasculate Aristide. His economic policies, for which
the people had elected him, were discarded. The IMF and the World
Bank moved in. They insisted on the application of a structural
adjustment policy which threatens all hope of equitable
development and progress in the country. People in Haiti refer to
this plan as the "Death Plan." It will destroy the
country’s peasant economy. As a rider, the U.S. army took
from the Haitian army headquarters 160,000 pages of documents.
The U.S. government refuses to return these documents. Why?
Guess. The documents show the extent of CIA involvement in the
coup which overthrew Aristide in 1991.

Lastly, an elegy. Curtains are drawn, lights go out. It’s
as if it never happened. In 1979 the Sandinistas triumphed in a
remarkable popular revolution against the Somoza dictatorship.
They went on to address their poverty stricken country with
unprecedented vigor and sense of purpose. They introduced a
literacy campaign and health provisions for all citizens which
were unheard of in the region, if not throughout the whole
continent. The Sandinistas had plenty of faults but they were
thoughtful, intelligent, decent, and without malice. They created
an active, spontaneous, pluralistic society. The U.S. destroyed,
through all means at its disposal and at the cost of 30,000 dead,
the whole damn thing. And they’re proud of it.

The general thrust these days is: "Oh, come on, it’s
all in the past, nobody’s interested any more, it
didn’t work, that’s all, everyone knows what the
Americans are like, but stop being naïve, this is the world,
there’s nothing to be done about it and anyway fuck it, who
cares?" Sure, as they say, sure. But let me put it this
way–the dead are still looking at us, steadily, waiting for us
to acknowledge our part in their murder. <B><U>Z