Defeating Nazi…

Questioner: The U.S. opposed and defeated the Nazis and the Communists. Doesn’t this evidence U.S. humanitarianism for the rest of the world?

The “history” assumed in this argument is so radically and uncontroversially false that it is hard even to comment.

Take Nazism. I was a child at the time, but even so I was appalled at the refusal of the US to become involved in the war against Nazism. The US went to war only when it was attacked by the Axis powers, at Pearl Harbor, followed by a German declaration of war against the US. Up to 1939, the US was quite supportive of Fascism and even Nazism. As late as 1941, US consul George Kennan in Berlin was sending favorable reports back home about the Nazis. The State Department picture through the 30s was, basically, that Hitler was a kind of moderate, fending off the extremists of right and left, and blocking the radicalization of the feared and hated “masses.” Mussolini was greatly admired, and since the current hoopla is about the liberation of Rome, we might recall that the US forces very quickly moved to restore pretty much of the traditional Fascist structure, appointing a Fascist war hero to run Italy, undermining the resistance and labor movement, even more as they moved up to northern Italy, in large part already liberated by the resistance, which the US-UK dispersed and worked hard to eliminate, including the worker-based economy that was developing.

After the war, the US of course wanted to reconstruct the industrial economies, and to place them firmly within the US-dominated global system, but ensuring that the would preserve the traditional order to a large extent, offer investment opportunities and markets to the US, and purchase the huge US surplus production. That’s the basis for the modern multinationals. There’s plenty of work on these topics. The propaganda images are not totally false — propaganda never is — but so misleading that they simply have to be abandoned if one wants to pay attention to what was happening.

As for “Communism” — meaning, the form of state-led extremely reactionary development instituted by Lenin and carried forward by Stalin and his successors — it’s true that the US did intervene, along with other Western powers, in 1918, and there is a complex relation since. The intervention was pretty much of the normal North-South variety (though different in scale, of course): The Bolsheviks were pursuing a path of independent development in what had been a virtual economic colony of the West, which is intolerable in itself, and furthermore, there was great fear, well into the 1960s, that development was so successful that it would serve as a model for others, even within the industrial countries. Vast differences of scale apart, the structure of the relationship and conflict is not very different from a host of small third world countries that moved towards what is called internally “successful defiance” and a possible model for others, the basic reason for military intervention, subversion, terror, economic strangulation, and other familiar features of modern history

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