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In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

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Five Important Books on U.S. Foreign Policy—What, Why, and Where?
by Bill Becker

"And as for the modern press, the sentimentalist may beam with contentment when it is constitutionally ‘free’— the realist merely asks at whose disposal it is."
Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

ALL THE SHAH’'S MEN, by New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer. In four parts.
NOTE: The original version of this review has been updated to account for Stephen Kinzer's recent book The Brothers. (2013)
The Brothers is a masterful, even moving account of the influence of the Dulles brothers, John Foster, and Allen, on American foreign policy in the late 1940s and the '50s. During the eight years of the Eisenhower administration, Foster was Secretary of State, and Allen was the Director of the CIA. Their roles are described below as per the original review, and per the new information Kinzer presents in The Brothers. I do not present a separate review of The Brothers here; rather, I hope the reader will be intrigued enough to purchase and read it.

ROGUE NATION, by former U.S. State Department official Clyde Prestowitz.


THE SORROWS OF EMPIRE, by the late Chalmers Johnson, Far East expert and former consultant to the CIA.

My apologies for the disparate lengths of these home-grown reviews. After reading Rogue Nation and All the Shah's Men, I was literally driven to produce the very long discussions below. I recently finished Hegemony or Survival and Sorrows of Empire, and simply did not have the energy to write more, or even better, than I did. I hope that the briefer treatment of these two books does not disincline the visitor from reading them. For those Americans with an honest desire to understand the hostility felt by millions of global citizens toward the U.S. government —not toward them personally—each of the four books is of major value. Sorrows is perhaps the most unique of this genre to date—it is the first I know of to offer the bold suggestion that for the first time in our history, we are on the verge of losing the republic itself.

Hegemony or Survival and Sorrows of Empire are published by Metropolitan, an imprint of Henry Holt Co.   These two books are a part of a new project at Holt: The American Empire Project.   The AEP website hosts a forum for the discussion of U.S. foreign policy, and links to interviews with Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson.

Comments and corrections are welcome. I reserve the right to post comments anonymously, with my replies.


by Stephen Kinzer.    (Wiley, 2003)
Part I.  (With thanks to Bonnie.)

Stephen Kinzer is arguably the top foreign correspondent for the New York Times, with extensive experience reporting from Central America and Europe during those regions’ recent eras of turmoil. His new book, ALL THE SHAH’S MEN  is a chilling narrative of the successful overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in August, 1953.

The people of Iran had for centuries been repressed by corrupt rulers and foreign powers – in this period, the British. Mossadegh was a genuinely incorruptible politician – passionately nationalist, and a secular, pious, and progressive Muslim. He wanted nothing more for Iran than a decent life and future for the Iranian people. In 1952 he committed the unforgivable sin of nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which, in the finest imperialist tradition, had become filthy rich while maintaining the vast majority of Iran’s population in abject poverty. The British government held a 51% share of Anglo-Iranian. Mossadegh was phenomenally popular with virtually all Iranians except the de-nationalized elites who had benefitted from their arrangements with the British: die-hard monarchists, military right-wingers, and much of the up-scale business class. Only a heartless wretch can read with equanimity Kinzer’s contrast between the sumptuous living standards of Anglo-Iranian’s British managers and the squalid conditions the company provided for its workers. In fact, Anglo-Iranian was in direct violation of promises made to Reza Shah, the immediate monarch’s father, to provide decent working and living conditions for its Iranian laborers. The de-nationalized sectors would be instrumental in the plot to depose Mossadegh, even though many of them had to be bribed to overcome their fear of reprisal in case the coup failed. Mossadegh was such a decent man, however, that it is unlikely that any plotters would have received much more than a slap on the wrist.

America's first covert action against a soverign government was code-named Operation Ajax by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. (The British retained their original code name: Operation Boot.) Mohammad Reza Shah had replaced his father, Reza Shah, as monarch when the British forced the latter from the throne in 1941. In the subsequent opening of political space, Mohammad Mossadegh attained formidable political powers, and effectively nullified the influence of the younger, child-like monarch. During the CIA-organized violence against Mossadegh, the Shah had fled the country; the successful coup returned him to the Peacock Throne in triumph. But whereas the Shah had literally been a puppet of the British for over a decade, with a new-found independence born of the effective end of British influence in Iran he soon gathered total power in his own hands and established one of the most brutally repressive regimes the world has known. Washington loved him. (See Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Shah of Shahs, Vintage, 1986.)

Kinzer’s meticulously researched work is virtually bullet-proof. The only reasonable conclusion we can draw is that the post-war anti-communism that gripped America, and which provided the excuse to remove Mossadegh form power, was at best a true psychopathology, and at worst, genuinely evil. That psychopathology went on to beget many other CIA-sponsored covert actions against progressive Third World governments, which over time inspired the virulent, global anti-American sentiment that so puzzles millions of well-meaning but historically naive Americans today. Kinzer is entirely correct, and not alone, in his observation that "it is not farfetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."

(For example, Monty Woodhouse, the British agent who snuck into Washington in January 1952 to persuade the Dulles brothers to support a coup against Mossadegh, observed in his 1982 memoirs: "It is easy to see Operation Boot as the first step towards the Iranian catastrophe of 1979. What we did not foresee was that the Shah would gather strength and use it so tyrannically, nor that the US government and the Foreign Office wold fail so abjectly to keep him on a reasonable course. At the time we were simply relieved that a threat to British interests had been removed." By then, of course, it was too late. As one of Iran’s top religious leaders, the Ayatollah Ali Khameinei said, "we are not liberals like Allende and Mossadegh, whom the CIA can snuff out." Considering that the Shah’s father, whom the British had both installed and deposed, was himself a vicious tyrant, Woodhouse reveals nothing less than colossal stupidity; on his part, and on the part of the British government. We are reminded of the not-so-famous quip by [I believe] George Bernard Shaw: "power does not corrupt; fools corrupt power when they attain to it.")

Like father, like son

"All the world’s a stage," said the Bard, and with the overthrow of Mossadegh, the U.S. government set on that stage the first act of a long-running tragic farce. From the coup against Guatemala’s popular and progressive president Arbenz the next year, in 1954, through Vietnam, through president Reagan’s criminal attack on Nicaragua, millions of people have died, either through direct military action, or through massively disrupted economies. And for what? For nothing more than to feed the appetite of the U.S. business community.

President Bush and his advisors are directing the current act of this farce. Rather than engage in honest soul-searching toward understanding the sources of global American sentiment, and genuine effort toward making America respected and honored once again, the Bush administration instead has effectively adopted the mentality of our British forbears: military might, globally deployed, brutally employed if necessary, will subdue our enemies and ensure our security. Thus has the Bush administration made it virtually impossible for the American people to engage in a collective examination of the national soul — to genuinely understand that other nations have legitimate aspirations that do not fit the American plan for them, and that many of them have legitimate grievances against the U.S. Thus are we, as a nation, kept in an state of junvenility, continually marching to the drums of war, while we are lulled into moral complacency by memories of our quintessential fantasy hero and his blazing six-shooters: John Wayne.

ALL THE SHAH’S MEN is a stellar treatment of modern Iranian history. Kinzer fills in many of the blanks in our knowledge of the profoundly destructive role America has played in Iran.

Part II
(With more thanks to Bonnie.)

In this important book, Kinzer provides information that should give even the most fervent anti-communist reason to doubt that the U.S. action in Iran was either intelligent or necessary. (Kinzer also provides a useful, and arguably sympathetic, discussion of Shiism , the version of Islam predominant in Iran. When the Arabs conquered Persia, they forced Islam on the population, but this Islam was modified by the precepts of Persia’s original, much older religion, Zoroastrianism. Kinzer notes the Zoroastrian emphasis on social justice and just rule, which is a major element of Shiism.

First, we learn that after failing to intimidate Mossadegh into returning the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company under effectively the same rules that led to its nationalization in the first place, Britian's newly re-elected, super-imperialist Prime Minister Winston Churchill tried mightily to persuade the Truman administration to join Britain in a covert action to remove him from power. Truman and his Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, rejected Churchill’s underhanded request out of hand. Truman and Acheson held British imperialism in contempt, and while recognizing that Mossadegh was a frustratingly difficult national leader to deal with, they also approved of his progressive reforms and his democratic aspirations for Iran. Contrary to the British, they also took seriously the fact that Mossadegh had been democratically elected and enjoyed the genuine support of the vast majority of Iranian citizens. In essence, they wanted to see Mossadegh succeed.

Second, we learn that the British did not once invoke a "communist threat" to the entire Middle East and beyond if Anglo-Iranian was not returned to them. In fact, the British and the Russian monarchy had in 1907 formally partitioned Iran between them, with the Russians taking the north sector. During WWII, the U.S., the British, and the Soviet Union worked together in Iran for crucially important strategic purposes. In 1944, the pro-Soviet wing of Iran’s first true political party, Tudeh, gained control of the party, and in 1946 even succeeded in winning a majority in Iran’s parliament. Tudeh implemented significant progressive reforms: limitations on child labor, a 48-hour workweek, guaranteed maternity leaves, and a minimum wage. Tudeh’s growing political strength led Stalin to attempt a takeover of Northern Iran in early 1946. He envisioned a "People’s Republic of Azerbaijan" run by Tudeh. Azerbaijanis resisted, and the Iranian Prime Minister at the time, Ahmad Qavam, persuaded Stalin to withdraw his troops as required by the agreement reached before the end of the war. "Jubilant Azerbaijanis celebrated by summarily executing all the Tudeh leaders they could find," writes Kinzer.

Tudeh also suffered in Iran proper. In 1949, a attempt was made to assassinate Mohammad Reza Shah. In spite of the evidence that the would-be assassin was a religious fanatic, the Shah blamed Tudeh, and took repressive measures against it. Thenceforth, Tudeh was only one of several players on the Iranian political field.

This history hardly speaks of a Soviet Union that presented a dire threat to Iranian sovereignty, or even to British commercial interests. The British knew this, and President Truman and Secretary of State Acheson, both savvy and far more scrupulous, knew it. In fact, Kinzer makes it clear that Truman and Acheson believed that the most effective way to forestall a communist Iran was to bring more democracy, more education, more freedom, and higher living standards to the Iranian people. They thought Mossadegh was the man for the job. Thus the British had no choice but to keep their mouths shut regarding a non-existent "communist threat." (More on Kinzer’s treatment of the "communist threat" in Part III of this review.)

Truman chose not to run for re-election, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, running as a Republican on a strong anti-communist platform, won the Presidency in 1952. Even before the inauguration, the British, knowing of the rabid anti-communist sentiments of Secretary of State-designate John Foster Dulles, purposefully played the "communist threat" card. Dulles and his younger brother Alan, who had been appointed to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, easily manipulated Eisenhower into approving a coup against Mossadegh. (Poor Ike: going into his Presidency, he held the same view of Mossadegh as did Truman and Acheson. "I’d like to give the guy ten million bucks," he told British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden before the Dulles brothers worked their magic on him. Our current President, George W. Bush, is clearly as manipulable as Eisenhower was, but in Bush a humanity comparable to Eisenhower’s is much less in evidence.)

Following are a few pertinent tidbits from All The Shah’s Men. Kinzer is indented, others are in single quotes. My clarifications are in brackets.

In 1951 Iranian Prime Minister and British lackey Ali Razmara tried, unsuccessfully, to hold the line against nationalization of Anglo-Iranian.

[British] Ambassador [Francis] Shepherd went so far as to send him [Razmara] a letter advising him to take ‘a strong line’ against ingrates who did not appreciate ‘the immense contributions of the British people in recent times.'   p. 78.

In August 1952 Truman finally caved in to Churchill’s pressure and asked Mossadegh to return Anglo Iranian to the British and submit to the opinion of the World Court, into which the British had dragged the nationalization controversy. Truman offered a bribe, in the form of a $10 million aid package and the end of the British embargo of Iranian oil, which was literally strangling Iran. Mossadegh rejected the offer in a scornful address to the Iranian parliament.

He concluded with a telling moral observation: ‘Abiding by law and respecting the rights of the weak should not only not diminish, but would greatly enhance the position and prestige of the strong.’  p. 146.

After the initial coup attempt appeared to fail, the CIA agent in charge, Kermit Roosevelt, regrouped and decided on his own to make another attempt. Just as his second effort appeared on the brink of success, Roosevelt received a cable from Washington, ordering him to 'flee immediately.'

‘Never mind, chum,’ he told the confused radio man. ‘.... the tide has turned! Things are going our way! Right will triumph! All for the best, in the best of all possible worlds!’  p.181.

After the coup succeeded:

For Roosevelt and his co-conspirators, this was, as the CIA post-mortem put it, ‘a day that should never have ended, for it carried with it such a sense of excitement, of satisfaction, and of jubilation that it is doubtful that any other can come up to it.’  p. 188.

Those who opposed the coup were right after all:

[Subsequent events] eerily vindicate those who opposed the use of force against Mossadegh. President Truman predicted that mishandling the Iran crisis would produce ‘a disaster to the free world.’  p. 215.

Finally, Kinzer’s own statement:

It is not farfetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.  (p. 203)

In 1984, I heard former CIA agent John Stockwell speak at a meeting of activists opposing President Reagan’s war against the people of Nicaragua. Stockwell had been the CIA station chief in charge of the not-so-covert action against Angola, conceived by President Nixon and his Secretary of State – or National Security Advisor, I don’t recall which – Henry Kissinger. Stockwell later wrote a book about the Angola operation, In Search Of Enemies

In his talk, Stockwell said that CIA recruits were taught how to get a handle on the enemy-designate’s core persona and values by imagining him or her as a 5-year-old child. Kinzer’s description of Kermit Roosevelt and the Cold War CIA agents makes clear that this method is also useful in understanding many of America’s so-called defenders of freedom.

CIA agents in those days shared a profound idealism, a conviction that they were doing the vital dirty work of freedom. Many combined the best qualities of the thinker and the adventurer. None epitomized that combination more fully than did Kermit Roosevelt."

As Roosevelt surreptitiously entered Iran:

"he could barely contain his excitement: ‘I remembered what my father wrote of his arrival in Africa with his father, [Theodore Roosevelt] ... It was a great adventure and all the world was young! I felt as he must have felt then. My nerves tingled, my spirits soared as we moved up the mountain road....’"

Children at play: cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. To those who opt for violence as the first response to serious international issues, the advice of peace activist Alice Walker will forever be unintelligible:

"Look carefully at the present you are constructing.
It should look like the future you dream of."

Part III

All The Shah’s Men was obviously a labor of love for Kinzer. Early in the book he reveals his respect for the famously eccentric Mossadegh, and for the Iranian people: "In intellect and education he towered above almost all of them [his countrymen], a drawback for a politician in some countries but not in Iran, where those who do not live the life of the mind have always admired those who do." (Alert readers will naturally wonder what countries Kinzer had in mind.)

In 2002, Kinzer went to Iran "looking for traces of Mohammad Mossadegh." On August 19, 49 years to the day Mossadegh was overthrown, he is alone at the compound where the incorruptible Iranian democrat spent the last eleven years of his life, under house arrest. Leaning against a back wall of the compound, Kinzer finds "the tall double doors of a sturdy iron gate." It is the only artifact remaining of Mossadegh’s home in Tehran. "What history this gate has seen!" Kinzer writes. "The house before which this gate stood was wrecked and burned on the night of August 19, 1953, and later the debris was bulldozed to make way for an apartment building. All that remains is the gate. This gives it great historical importance, ... an almost spiritual aura. I placed my hand on it and held it there for a long time." [I was quite moved by Kinzer’s words myself. B.B.]

NOTE: The following section contains my original comments on All The Shah's Men, before I read Kinzer's new book The Brothers. I kept them for historical reasons. The short "update" reflected in the title of this page, "Five Important Books," appears in Part IV.

All The Shah’'s Men is a very painful read, but it is of enormous value just because it presents in one compelling narrative a monumental event in U.S. foreign policy, and because it comes at a time when Americans are critically in need of understanding such events. I recommend it without reservation.

Nevertheless, All The Shah’s Men cannot be entirely satisfying to those of us who had already become familiar with much of the information Kinzer presents. For reasons we will probably never know — and to the detriment of his account — Kinzer withholds useful information.

As noted earlier, John Foster Dulles and his younger brother Allen joined the Eisenhower administration as Secretary of State and Director of the CIA, respectively. In fact, Kinzer gives an inadequate account of their history. Kinzer correctly reports that the brothers were born into wealth. Later, before being tapped by Eisenhower for government work, he tells us that they were both lawyers for the "legendary firm of Sullivan & Cromwell." Kinzer notes that "the Dulles brothers developed a special interest in Iran," and that "Foster always mentioned Iran when he spoke about countries he believed might soon fall to communism." What Kinzer fails to reveal is that Sullivan & Cromwell represented two of the world’s largest companies, Exxon and Mobil (each controlled by the Rockefeller family), and that each company had large contracts for oil with Anglo-Iranian, the super-greedy, and blatantly exploitative British oil company nationalized by Mossadegh. No wonder the Dulles Brothers were so concerned about Mossadegh.

The cynical reader will say "So? Nothing new here. Everyone knows that self-interest is what drives businessmen. That’s just politics as usual." Just so. Nevertheless, it is certain that many of Kinzer’s readers will be well-meaning, uncynical Americans who might naively attribute the Dulles brothers’ anti-communism to a sincere desire that the Iranian people be truly free. Contrasted with Truman’s, Acheson’s, and even Eisenhower’s original view that patience, and even assistance to Mossadegh was the best way to prevent a communist take-over in Iran (which, as we will see, under Mossadegh was not in the cards in any case) the Dulles brothers’ choice of violent covert action against him comes across as pathological. There is no valid reason for leaving this information out of any account of the coup. (The lamest excuse would be that there wasn’t room for it.)

Kinzer compounds this narrative lacuna by failing to make proper journalistic use of his long-departed New York Times predecessor, Kennett Love. Love was the Iran correspondent for the Times at the time of the coup, and Kinzer’s highly selective, even mysterious, references to him make for an interesting story in itself.

Mossadegh’s tolerance of Tudeh, the Iranian communist party, played right into the hands of the rabidly anti-communist Dulles brothers. Kennett Love, on the other hand, was equally clear that Mossadegh was firmly anti-communist, and that he had severely suppressed Tudeh when the occasion called for it. But the reader will not learn about this from Kinzer.

To learn more, and more that is interesting, of Kennett Love’s experience in Iran, we must go to a different book, written by Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny seventeen years before the "fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York": Endless Enemies -- The Making of an Unfriendly World. (Congdon & Weed, New York, 1984.)

In the chapter Upsetting the Balance: Iran and Afghanistan, Kwitny tells us that in 1960, Kennett Love wrote a forty-one page report on the coup. We learn that the report was not published, but was instead handed over to then Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, the same man who directed the coup from Washington seven years earlier. Ultimately, Love’s paper disappeared, with all of Dulles’s papers, into the bowels of the Princeton University archives. At the time Kwitny wrote, the Dulles papers were administered by a panel headed by a former CIA legal counsel. They were made available only to selected researchers, on condition that "any articles to be based even indirectly on material from the papers" be submitted to advance review (read: prior censorship). Kwitny says that the Wall Street Journal was refused access to the papers several times, just because it would not agree to advance review.

But, the truth will out, as the saying goes. Kwitny received a copy of Love’s paper from an independent source, and thus did not feel bound to submit Endless Enemies to prior censorship, In fact, Kwitny and Congdon & Weed were pretty gutsy.

Kwitny did not give the title of the Love document in his possession, but Kinzer’s bibliography refers to it follows:

Love, Kennett. The American Role in the Pahlavi Restoration on August 19, 1953 (unpublished), the Allen Dulles Papers, Princeton University, 1960.

As we will see below Kinzer is familiar with Love’s paper.

On May 28, 1953, Mossadegh asked President Eisenhower for help in breaking the British-led boycott of Iranian oil, which was strangling Iran. Instead of helping Mossadegh, Eisenhower waits until June 29 to suggest that he cave in to the British. In the following sections from Endless Enemies — indented, Love is in double quotes, with Kwitny’s clarifications in square brackets. Italics are Kwitny’s, for emphasis; they do not appear in Love’s original paper. My intervening text is full-left-justified.:

"Thus far, Dr. Mossadegh had taken no positive steps to suggest to the United States that it had better help Iran or the country might turn to the communists.... He had been anticommunist throughout his career. During his first year in office the outlawed Tudeh [Communist] party fought him with the bitterness the communists usually reserved for Social Democrats. ..."

"There was no real abatement of Dr. Mossadegh’s anticommunism until after [the denial of] his appeal for aid to President Eisenhower... 28 May 1953 ...."

"The letter was a blow to the Iranian premier. It was evidently intended as such....

"There are several theories as to why he [Mossadegh] did not resign ..."

After a nicely objective presentation of the self-serving theories of Mossadegh’s foreign and domestic enemies, Love suggests, au contraire:

"Dr. Mossadegh may also have felt responsible for carrying to completion his campaign to make the Shah a truly constitutional monarch, limited to reigning rather than ruling. He often stated this principle as well as his loyalty to the Shah."

Further on, Love reinforces the impression that Mossadegh was a nationalist first and foremost:

"The Mossadegh regime was as vigorous as any in suppressing overt communist activities and in combating the party in the streets until receipt of President Eisenhower’s letter [which came after Eisenhower and the Dulleses had ordered Mossadegh’s overthrow]."

Later, Love describes the behavior of Tudeh, the communist bogey-man that Washington evoked to justify the coup. Mr. Carroll is the CIA agent in charge of recruiting street thugs to create the chaos that would be blamed on the communists:

"It is conceivable," he says, "that the Tudeh could have turned the fortunes of the day against the Royalists. But for some reason they remained completely aloof from the conflict. ... As it turned out, Mr. Carroll’s bands had the streets largely to themselves. Resistance was concentrated at government buildings.... My own conjecture is that the Tudeh were restrained by the Soviet Embassy because the Kremlin, in the first post-Stalin year, was not willing to take on such consequences as might have resulted from the establishment of a communist controlled regime in Tehran."


So far, then, we have a report by the New York Times’s man in Iran that Mossadegh opposed communism as much as he opposed British hegemony, and that the communist party in Iran might well have been a paper tiger. While certain of Love’s conjectures may well have been the product of seven years’ hindsight, the events on the ground in 1953 Iran were known to him, and these conclusions might easily have been drawn then. At the least, it is certainly of interest to the modern reader of All The Shah’s Men to know that even in 1960, Love’s observations suggested that the fanatical American anticommunists were wrong; wrong about the Soviet Union and wrong about Mossadegh. It is of interest to know that these observations were, and still are, being kept under lock-and-key. Truman and Acheson were right, and Kinzer does us a disservice by not giving them stronger posthumous support for their views through Love’s comments.

It gets worse. Kinzer refers to the Love paper just twice in the notes, each time conjoined with a public reference to the same event. (Interestingly, in the notes Kinzer also refers to Love’s forty-one page paper for Dulles as an "article.") The first reference is about a CIA-recruited Iranian thug, Shaban the Brainless. Kinzer includes with it the reference to Love’s New York Times article of August 23, 1953, in which he mentioned Shaban. The second reference to Love’s "article" is about Love’s secret meeting with Ardeshir Zahedi, the son of General Fazlollah Zahedi, Mossadegh’s replacement-designate. Included with it is a reference to a book by Stephen Dorril, M16: Inside the World of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (New York: Free Press, 2000). (Dorril does not appear anywhere in All The Shah’s Men, but he apparently revealed Love’s meeting with Zahedi in his book.) Let us now look at how Kinzer and Kwitny treat this event. (The two authors are either indented and/or in double quotes. My comments within quotes are in square brackets.)

Kennet Love appears in All The Shah’s Men three days before the coup succeeds. On Sunday, August 16th Kermit Roosevelt was desperately trying to recover from an attempt that had failed the night before. He had in his possession two firmans, "decrees that the Shah had signed dismissing Prime Minister Mossadegh and naming Zahedi to replace him." The firmans were of questionable legality, but the army was used to respecting royal power, and "the firmans gave the plotters of Operation Ajax a way to wrap themselves in that tradition." (Much as American politicians wrap themselves in Old Glory when they want to deflect attention from their questionable behavior.) The plotters decided to distribute the firman naming Zahedi prime minister "throughout the city, especially in the tough southern neighborhoods where mobs were recruited [by CIA operatives]." As Kinzer tells it:

"To be sure that the firman reached as wide an audience as possible, Roosevelt sent a message to the two American news correspondents in Tehran.... Both eagerly accepted. ..."

Upon arriving at the safe house, Kennett Love and Don Scwhind of the Associated Press were surprised:

"‘Lo and behold, there was a huge copying machine,’ Kennett Love of the New York Times recalled later. ‘Now this was 1953, and a copying machine is about the size of two refrigerators. But at that time neither I nor most American journalists or most American people would have been able to tell you what the initials CIA stood for.’" (In fact, Love’s quote here is not from his Dulles "article" but from a History Channel video Anatomy of a Coup.)

Here Kinzer leaves us hanging. We do not learn from him if, or how, the two newsmen helped to ensure that "the firman reached as wide an audience as possible." Kwitny is more forthcoming (Love in double quotes):

"Ardeshir told us about the Shah’s issuance of the two firmans. He showed us the one appointing his father premier. Then he handed it to the occupant of the house who took it into the adjoining dining room where there stood a large photoduplicating machine... As Ardeshir talked, two operatives made sheafs of copies of the firman. Each of us took a handful back to town. I distributed mine at the Park Hotel, except for one copy, which I still have."

We can be sure that some copies of this firman found their way to the streets, where CIA hooligans could force passers-by to read them and shout their hearty approval. Too bad Kinzer doesn’t let us in on this little secret, too.

The reader may think that I am being too hard on Kinzer. Me too, at first. After my initial annoyance with him, my softer instincts kicked in and I surmised that he had probably agreed to the same requirement of prior censorship that Kwitny had successfully skirted, and was thus forced — reluctantly, I hoped — to omit unsavory details of Love’s "article." Then I reviewed some materials I had downloaded from the New York Times archives in anticipation of this review.

On April 16, 2000, the New York Times printed a by-line by Kinzer’s colleague, James Risen: C.I.A. Tried, With Little Success, to Use U.S. Press in Coup. There, Risen fearlessly shares with Times readers precisely the same information found in Endless Enemies. Risen is indented, Love in double quotes:

In a 1960 paper he wrote while studying at Princeton University, Mr. Love explained that he ''was responsible, in an impromptu sort of way, for speeding the final victory of the royalists.''

Seeing a half-dozen tanks parked in front of Tehran's radio station, he said, ''I told the tank commanders that a lot of people were getting killed trying to storm Dr. Mossadegh's house and that they would be of some use instead of sitting idle at the radio station.'' He added, ''They took their machines in a body to Kokh Avenue and put the three tanks at Dr. Mossadegh's house out of action.''

Risen checked with Love on this meaty item:

Mr. Love, who left The New York Times in 1962, said in an interview that he had urged the tanks into action ''because I wanted to stop the bloodshed.''

According to Kwitny, "Kennett Love later explained, rather lamely perhaps, that he acted as he did because of ‘misguided patriotism.’" In any case, if Risen can quote Love without fear, so Kinzer could have quoted him in far more depth than he did.

But Kinzer, clever guy that he is, does indeed refer to Love’s direction of the tanks to Mossadegh’s house. In the text, the event is sandwiched between CIA chief Kermit Roosevelt listening to the takeover of Tehran Radio by his minions, and his departure to "fetch" General Zahedi for a triumphal entrance as the new premier. As Kinzer describes the action (my italics):

Military units led by anti-Mossadegh officers had already begun converging on the house. Inside, loyal soldiers built fortifications and prepared for battle. They were armed with rifles, machine guns, and Sherman tanks mounted with 75-millimeter cannons. Late in the afternoon the assault began. Defenders beat back wave after wave, leaving the sidewalks littered with bodies. Then after an hour of one-sided combat, the assailants gave a great cheer. Friendly army units had arrived with tanks of their own. A close quarters artillery duel soon broke out. Operation Ajax was approaching its climax.

Virtually every jot and tittle of Kinzer’s narrative has a reference note. He provides such a note for Roosevelt’s listening to the takeover of Tehran Radio, and for his "fetching" of General Zahedi. Why then, is there no reference note at all given for the arrival of "friendly army units ... with tanks of their own" — obviously the same tanks Kennett Love has publically admitted directing to Mossadegh’s house. How did Kinzer know that "the assailants gave a great cheer" upon their arrival? Kwitny doesn’t mention it. Did Kinzer learn of it in an interview with Kennett Love while researching for the book? Did he make it up to provide some extra color? Whatever the case, we must admit that Kinzer’s little gambit here is very, very slick.

(Patience, dear reader; the end of this review is in sight.)

In his penultimate chapter, wherein he discusses the joy felt by the Dulleses and other plotters at the success of the coup, Kinzer shows signs of the strain he has been under while presenting such an overwhelmingly dark picture of U.S.-British greed and duplicity. It is as if there is a program running in his head that tells him he has gone too far. There is a danger that readers of All The Shah’s Men might conclude that the coup was actually a mistake. Even worse, they might conclude that it was morally wrong. So, Kinzer "goes academic." He presents a masterfully "objective" and "unbiased" account of why the Dulles’s violent approach was chosen over Truman’s and Acheson’s recommendations of patience and assistance. He uses what I call the "he believed, she believed" variant of the "he said, she said" school of reporting. Here is how he does it:

"From the vantage point of history, it is easy to see the catastrophic effects of Operation Ajax. They will continue to plague the world for many years. But what would have been the effect of not launching the coup? President Truman insisted until his last day in office that the United States must not intervene in Iran. What if President Eisenhower had also held this view?"

We then read somewhat over a page of accurate presentations of what Eisenhower’s plotters [purportedly] believed, and suggestions by other analysts that they were mistaken. The scales are perfectly balanced. Thus, Kinzer is able to conclude:

"The crucial question of whether the American coup was necessary to prevent the Soviets from staging a coup of their own cannot be conclusively answered. No one will ever know how the Soviets might have acted or how successful they might have been. The coup certainly had disastrous aftereffects. What might have been the effects of not carrying it out must remain forever in the realm of speculation."

Of course it must. All conclusions following counterfactual historical premises are by definition speculative. It is also speculation that I will roll snake eyes with each of my next 100 throws of the dice. In fact, there is nothing in either Kinzer’s or in Love’s narratives that suggest the Soviets were planning a coup, or that they would have had the chutzpah to even make an attempt in the face of honest and massive U.S. support for Mossadegh.

In effect, Kinzer seriously proposes here that if Eisenhower had squashed the British oil embargo, had helped Mossadegh and his millions of passionately devoted supporters build Iran into a modern nation, had let it be known that America would defend true democracy in Iran (as opposed to corporate-friendly oligarchy or tyrannical monarchy), the Soviets would nonetheless have found the same fertile ground for subversion as if America had remained at arm’s length. This is preposterous on its face, and I think Kinzer knows it.

As I said above, I am deeply, and personally grateful to Kinzer for giving us this fine book. But, the coup against Mossadegh was a monstrous crime, even given the ambiguities of the day. In my view Kinzer should have said so. My best guess is that he has spent too long a stretch as a New York Times reporter.

Buy and read All The Shah’s Men, and Endless Enemies. (Get either the Viking or Congdon & Weed version of Endless Enemies — even without the references to Love, the Viking version is highly educational. It would be a nice tribute to one of America’s finest journalists. Tragically, and at great loss to our country, Jonathan Kwitny died of cancer in 1998. ) Draw your own conclusions.

Part IV

First, I am not sure, but perhaps I owe Kinzer an apology for accusing him of "withholding" important information about the Dulles brothers, and of being "slick" in All The Shah's Men. I don't know. But, whatever his lapses there, he has more than compensated for them in The Brothers.

Second, The Brothers makes clear, on the basis of more recently available evidence, that Eisenhower was not so much an unwitting, doofus-like pawn of manipulative Cold-warriors, as he was an active and enthusiastic player in the game of toppling foreign governments and even plotting ot assassinate their leaders. Eisenhower comes off very badly in The Brothers.

Third, I mention above that Kennet Love, the CIA officer in charge of the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, fit perfectly the profile of the 5-year-old boy whom CIA trainees were taught to imagine their targets to be. The only conclusion I can draw from The Brothers is that CIA Director Allen Dulles was himself little more than a 5-year-old in an adult body. Allen was not interested in the effective and efficient management of his sprawling clandestine empire, but revelled in the "down-and-dirty" details of espionage and covert action. He spent hours with even "lowly" case officers, planning and refining the action of the day against whatever foreign target he had chosen. He was also completely indifferent to the fates of the many unwitting and idealistic young foreign expatriots and refugees whom the CIA recruited and trained to gather information and foment discord in their home country. In spite of their training and forged IDs, they were quickly caught and executed.

Finally, Kinzer places the blame where it should be placed — with us, the American people. A people less fearful; less arrogant; more knowledgeable about the history of the exploitation of the Third World peoples whom the CIA targeted under the specious rubric of "bringing them freedom;" a people more sympathetic to their aspirations for freedom on their own terms, would not have tolerated a CIA of the type created by the Dulles brothers.

"The half century of history that has unfolded since Foster and Allen passed from the scene suggests that they share responsibility for much that has gone wrong in the world. The blame, however, does not end with them. To gaze at their portraits and think "They did it," would be reassuring. It would also be unfair. Americans who seek to understand the roots of their country's trouble in the world should look not at Foster and Allen's portraits, but in a mirror.

"Foster and Allen exemplified the nation that produced them. A different kind of leader would require a different kind of United States."



Henry Holt makes it easy to request permission to quote from its books, and I was granted permission to quote up to 750 words, with the following credit line:

"From the Book HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL: Americas' Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky. Copyright (c) 2003 by Aviva Chomsky, Diane Chomsky, and Harry Chomsky. Reprinted by arrangement with Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. All rights reserved."  I used about 300 words. In Hegemony, Chomsky makes it clear that, like elites throughout history, American elites have no interest in true democracy, and only allow so much democracy as will allow them to accumulate wealth and power while disarming efforts by true democrats to put more power in the hands of the people. This fragment from Chapter 1 makes the point:

"Those who want to face their responsibilities with a genuine commitment to democracy and freedom—even to decent survival—should recognize the barriers that stand in the way. In violent states these are not concealed. In more democratic societies barriers are more subtle. While methods differ sharply from more brutal to more free societies, the goals are in many ways similar: to ensure that the 'great beast,' as Alexander Hamilton called the people, does not stray from its proper confines."

But the ‘great beast' must be persuaded to support the elites' drive for hegemony. Thus, Chomsky notes:

"... no matter where we turn, there is rarely any shortage of elevated ideals to accompany the resort to violence." But, when it came to assessing the purported noble ideals of other great powers, the early American imperialist Thomas Jefferson was quite clear: "We believe no more in Bonaparte's fighting for the freedom of the seas than in Great Britain's fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object is the same, to draw to themselves the power, the wealth, and the resources of other nations." The blind spot regarding America's own ambitions persists to the present. "A century later," writes Chomsky, "Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state, Robert Lansing ..., commented scornfully on ‘how willing the British, French, or Italians are to accept a mandate' from the League of Nations, as long as ‘there are mines, oil fields, rich grain fields, or railroads' that will ‘make it a profitable undertaking.' These ‘unselfish governments' declare that mandates must be accepted ‘for the good of mankind': ‘they will do their share by administering the rich regions of Mesopotamia, Syria, &c.' The proper assessment of these pretensions is ‘so manifest that it is almost an insult to state it.'" Certainly one reason the United States Senate refused to ratify U.S. entry into the League of Nations was because American capital wanted freedom of unilateral action to pursue its own "lofty" global pretensions, which unilateralism is now the baldly stated and defining characteristic of U.S. foreign policy.

Further on in the book, Chomsky suggests that elites will seek hegemony even at the cost of survival. (As it happens, the liberal Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galibraith agrees with him: "People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage." Los Angeles Daily News, Oct or Nov '88.) In his final chapter A Passing Nightmare?, taken from his closing quote of the pacifist philosopher Bertrand Russell, Chomsky observes:

"One can discern two trajectories in current history: one aiming toward hegemony, acting rationally within a lunatic framework as it threatens survival; the other dedicated to the belief that "another world is possible," ... challenging the reigning ideological system and seeking to create constructive alternatives of thought, action, and institutions. Which trajectory will dominate, no one can foretell. The pattern is familiar throughout history; a crucial difference today is that the stakes are far higher."

Hegemony or Survival will perhaps be more satisfying to his loyal fans (count me as one such) than to those who are not familiar with his earlier work. Many of Chomsky's citations are not easily accessed, in the sense that they often refer to his earlier books, wherein the original citations can be found. Moreover, many quotes have no references, and it is unclear whether they come from a just-cited source, or are Chomsky's own rhetorical fragments from earlier work. It is something of a tough read for the non-specialist.


In Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson focuses on the inextricable ties between imperialism and militarism, and suggests that America will go the way of Rome:

"Roman imperial sorrows mounted up over hundreds of years. Ours are likely to arrive with the speed of FedEx."

A simple list of Johnson’s four sorrows, encyclopedically described in the text, should suffice to suggest the meaning and importance of the book.

1. Perpetual war. On purpose?

"In fact, given the widespread political unrest and a strong revival of militant Islam, the United States seems inexplicably intent on providing future enemies with enough greivances to do us considerable damage."

2. Threat to democratic government. Johnson documents the attacks on our civil rights and on Constitutional guarantees for the survival of the republic. Brings to mind Ben Franklin’s answer to a question as to the kind of government the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had given Americans: "A republic, if you can keep it." Whether Franklin meant that the "great beast" was not responsible enough to "keep it," or whether he foresaw that elite interests, or perhaps the military, would recreate autocracy is unclear.

Indeed, an internal threat to the republic has not been unthinkable:

"The most illustrious of World War II's militarists, General Douglas MacArthur, chalenged the donstitutional authority of President Truman during the Korean war, writing that it was 'a new and heretofore unknown and dngerous concept that the members of our armed forces owe primary allegiance or loyalty to those who temporarily exercise the authority of the Executive Branch of the Government rather than to the country and its Constitution which they are sworn to defend. No propostition could be more dangerous.'"   Truman fired MacArthur for insubordination on April 11, 1951.

Or, perhaps Franklin had a different threat in mind.

Candidate Bush, during the second presidential debate in 2000:

"If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator."

A year later President Bush tells it like it is to reporter Bob Woodward,

"I’m the commander—see, I don’t need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

Under the protection of the Praetorian Guard, Roman Emperors didn’t think they owed anyone an explanation either.

3. "...the replacement of truth by propaganda and disinformation and an acceptance of hypocrisy as the norm for declarations coming from our government." Where’s the WMD?

4. Financial ruin. To paraphrase Porgy: "Oh, Lord, we’re on our way."

Johnson neatly sums up the exquisitely Roman attitude that underlies the Bush administration’s foreign policy. "From Cato to Cicero, the slogan of Roman leaders was

"Let them hate us, so long as they fear us" (Oderint dum metuant). (p 285.)



[Note: Most quoted material is indented without quotation marks. So as not to mislead the reader, I try to identify all of Prestowitz’s commentary as specifically his, and thus distinguish it from my own opinions. I hope I have not done him injustice. (Prestowitz is a much nicer guy than I am.) B.B., August 23, 2003]

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us;
To see ourselves as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.

To A Louse
      (1786) Robert Burns, Scottish poet

If ever a nation needed the Pow’r to see itself as others see it, it is America today. And, we’re in luck. In Rogue Nation, “rock-ribbed” conservative Clyde Prestowitz makes it his mission to provide that vision out of his own extensive and expert experience with the diplomats and peoples of other countries.

His credentials are unassailable — as a State Department official stationed in Europe in the ‘70s, he “remained a supporter of the [Vietnam] war long after many conservatives had abandoned it.” Later, he became a “trade hawk” for President Reagan in negotiations with Japan. Prestowitz is now deeply concerned about the direction the Bush administration is taking America.

Thus, Rogue Nation is not a rant by a mush-headed, bleeding-heart liberal like the owner of this site. Hillary-haters are out of luck, though - Prestowitz does not mention Hillary Clinton even once in the book. This book is a gift to the American people, and we ignore its message at our peril.

Footnotes are plentiful, and there is a comprehensive recommended reading list.

Clyde Prestowitz is president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Trading Places (Basic Books, 1989). He lives in Potomac Maryland.

Rogue Nation is arranged in a sequence of chapters with telling titles and catchy subtitles. A sample:

At Odds with the World - and Ourselves;

America’s Game: including Do as I say, not as I do, Steel is forever, But America owns the sandbox, Backlash

Running on Empty: including Bubba’s Birthright, Bubba Mortgages His Freedom, Changing Bubba’s Ways

In Arms We Trust: including Sowing the fields with mines, Sovereignty trumps human rights, the armed economy, Teach them to fight-not to write;

Peaceful People, Endless War;

This review is organized around two themes emphasized in Rogue Nation: first, How Others See Us, and Why They See Us As They Do.

How Others See Us

The Guardian of London, writing in the spring of 2001 in response to President Bush’s decision to reject the Kyoto treaty on global warming:

America, the ‘indispensable nation,’ begins to resemble the ultimate rogue state. Instead of leading the community of nations, Bush’s America seems increasingly bent on confronting it. Instead of a shining city on a hill ... comes a nationalistic jingle: we do what we want ... and if you don’t like it, tough.

A British ambassador:

America always preaches the rule of law, but in the end always places itself above the law.

Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf:

The United States has had such a fantastic asset in the world’s identity of it’s interest with U.S. interests, but all that is now being thrown away. The United States today is frightening because it won’t be constrained. The left has always thought of the United States as a rogue state, but now the center is thinking the same way.

Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt:

The nation-state is dead as an independent actor. [An oblique swipe at the U.S., included by Prestowitz as a dose of reality. -- B.B.]

French columnist Dominique Moisi:

1970s anti-Americanism was a reaction to what America did, but today’s anti-Americanism is a response to what America is. [My emphasis. - B.B.]

Prestowitz, on America’s self-image as a peace-loving nation:

The United States is widely seen to have interests but not friends, and to be primarily interested in material gain and power. It is in no way seen as peace-loving. Indeed, another Latin American ambassador to the United States asked: "Peace loving? Are you kidding? No one believes that nonsense in Latin America."

Why They See Us As They Do

America’s current violent streak is the primary reason why millions of people around the world, consider President Bush to be a greater threat to peace than was Saddam Hussein. But the loss of respect for America, the sense that America has turned its back on its most hallowed values (at least on what America says are its hallowed values), has a different source: the clear understanding by foreigners - an understanding of many decades duration -- that the U.S. is fundamentally a hypocrite. Three major themes make this clear: The Paternal Attitude, Subsidies, and Violence.

The Paternal Attitude

An important subtext of the Bush administration’s reasoning in deciding that America will "go-it-alone" in dealing with the terrorist issue (and many others as well), is the accusation that the rest of the world is really not "grown-up" enough to handle important global problems. Only the U.S. has the maturity; the means; the will; and above all, the moral force, to tackle these problems (on behalf of all the world’s people’s, of course). Bush is not alone in this attitude. For example, in spite of its popularity as a vacation destination, Europe is held in contempt by millions of American patriots, who note that we "saved Europe’s ass" twice, but since WWII, it has been content to prosper behind the American defensive shield even while bashing American prosperity and culture. Ungrateful SOBs. The hell with Europe, they snort.

The truth is, though, that while historic inter-European rivalries and hostilities have delayed European unification, the U.S. has purposefully kept Europe in a state of arrested development, much as a neurotic father might stunt the growth of a son who he fears might someday challenge his authority. As Europe stumbles its way toward unification, the U.S. imperialist lobby makes it clear that no rival to U.S. power should be tolerated. Senator Jesse Helms called the proposed "Euro army" a "dangerous and divisive dynamic within NATO." President Bush’s transition team "called the rapid reaction force [apparently another term for the 'Euro army'] a dagger aimed at NATO’s heart." (NATO, of course, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the U.S.) National Review editor John O’Sullivan warns of Europe’s "drift to a rival and hostile set of policies." According to O’Sullivan, "There is no need for a European security force or policy. It is a pure expression of bourgeoning statehood and nationalism masquerading as anti-nationalism."

Prestowitz presents a corrective to the popular view. He explains how the U.S. "systematically moved to hobble European weapons development," and how the U.S. "uses NATO as a way of trumping the EU (European Union) in Europe." He observes that "if the Europeans are living in fantasy land, it is a fantasy land created and maintained by the United States," and suggests "if we are not willing to let them take on the responsibilities of full-fledged sovereign powers, we can’t simultaneously gripe that they are wimps." Prestowitz sums up the hypocrisy of U.S. paternalism:

The term "adult supervision" has been to describe America’s relation with Europe and Japan. Other observers ... argue that these countries are living in an artificial paradise that enables them to indulge in empty posturing and selfish cosseting because they leave to America the burden of dealing with the real world. ... What goes unsaid, as I have suggested, is that the United States prefers to keep them in a state of extended adolescence as a condition of its own dominance. Unfortunately, we buy this dominance at increased cost.


The U.S. mantra today is that, among other policies under the rubric of what is called the "Washington consensus," the "free flows of capital, goods, and services" between nations will bring peace and the good life even to the tiniest Third World hamlet. Secretary of State Colin Powell:

"The reality is that free trade and globalization promote worker and human rights over the long run, one that helps the environment and improves economic equality for greater wealth for all."

Concomitantly, the U.S., and millions of its citizens, demand that other countries open their markets to U.S. products, and that the governments of these nations refrain from subsidizing their own agriculture and industry. Too bad that all this lofty rhetoric is part of a massive scam. Two examples from Rogue Nation make the point.


Despite the (NAFTA) agreement [North American Free Trade Agreement], strict quotas prevented most Mexican sugar from entering the U.S. market. Meanwhile, Mexican sugar workers lost their jobs as heavily subsidized U.S. corn sweeteners replaced sugar in Mexican soft drinks.


Prestowitz points out that America is the largest exporter of cotton in the world, competing with poor cotton farmers in countries like West Africa’s Mali. This in spite of the fact that American cotton is the highest production cost cotton in the world. American subsidies make up the difference between the American cotton farmers production cost and the world price. As a result of a recent agricultural subsidy act signed by president Bush, Mississippi Delta cotton farmer Ken Hood expects to receive a nearly $1 million subsidy. While the family of the poor cotton farmer in Mali goes hungry, subsidies bring the "average net worth of American cotton-farming households" to $800,000.

And, as if to rub salt in the wound, figuratively speaking, it is not uncommon for conservative American patriots (very likely including Mr. Hood) to look with contempt on the failure of poorer nations to "lift themselves up by the bootstraps" as we did. As if to prove American good-will, this same patriotic American might well point to the $40 million in annual aid that the U.S. spends in Mali on "education, health, and other development programs." But, says Prestowitz, "that sum is almost totally negated by the state cotton company’s loss of $30 million caused by sinking world cotton prices." "So much for trade, not aid," as another critic remarks in a different context.

Prestowitz suggests that America’s economic hypocrisy should not be dismissed lightly:

... the impoverished citizens of West Africa are increasingly crowding into European cities, and those who stay behind are seeing more mullahs from Pakistan and the Middle East in their mosques and Quranic schools, ... In West Africa, the face of American-style globalization and free trade is not the hope-inspiring one of Colin Powell, but a harsh, hypocritical one that inspires a drift toward radicalism and perhaps to more terrorism. The cost of dealing with that would, of course, far exceed anything spent on subsidies or aid.

He quotes the fall 2002 comment, made directly to him, by former Mexican Finance Minister Angel Guria:

There is a huge weapon of mass destruction located just south of the U.S. border, and it’s about to explode. It’s called Latin America.


As suggested above, Americans who believe that the United States is a peaceful nation, which resorts to force only as a last resort, are living in a dream world. The examples of U.S. military pro-activity on the global scale are also too numerous to discuss here, but one from Rogue Nation suffices to capture the spirit of U.S. methods and goals. That it occurred over 100 years ago does not detract from its symbolism, as many of today’s Third World countries can affirm.

In 1898, the U.S. had finally decided to expel Spain from Cuba. The mysterious sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor provided one excuse. Undoubtedly real brutality by the Spanish in suppressing Cuban revolutionary fighters provided another excuse. U.S. troops were dispatched to Cuba, and after defeating the Spanish in what Secretary of State John Haye called ‘that splendid little war,’ the United States came into possession of the Philippines. "Ironically," writes Prestowitz, "American control of the Philippines entailed both refusing to recognize a Filipino Declaration of Independence modeled on America’s and putting down Filipino independence fighters with at least as much brutality as the Spanish had used in Cuba. But it did give us the chance, as President William McKinley said, to 'Christianize' the Filipinos who had been Roman Catholics for 350 years." My own experience is as an opponent of President Reagan’s Central America policy, particularly the contra war against the poorest of Nicaragua's people. They overwhelmingly supported the Sandinista government that had led the insurrection against the psychopath Anastasio Somoza, who had fallen from Washington's favor during President Carter's term. Unwilling to tolerate the slightest challenge to U.S. power, the Reagan administration hired thugs and human rights violators of the nastiest stripe to do America's dirty work. And dirty it was. Naturally, it was sold to the American people as necessary to contain the evil Russkies.

In pursuit of the contra war, the Reagan Administration was more than willing to destroy Costa Rica’s democracy, with the virtually certain result that the only nation in Latin America without an army would have become a military dictatorship—eager to dance to Washington’s tune, of course. Today, it is universally understood that these movements, including that of the Vietnamese, were nationalistic in character. The only threat that Nicaragua, for example, posed to the U.S., was the threat of a "good example," namely a government that actually cared about its people.

Reprise: Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, two among the former architects of Reagan’s violent Central America policy, and deeply implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, are now serious players in the present Bush administration. That does not bode well for the world or for America.

By the end of Rogue Nation, the reader understands perfectly why the U.S. rejected the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Al Capone would have been jealous.


Prestowitz opens Rogue Nation with an epigraph by Governor John Winthrop, who led the Puritans to Massachusetts:
"Consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill, the eies of all people upon us." He closes with a chapter of that name, City on a Hill, in which he summarizes his eloquent plea for a more decent, more honest American foreign policy, and for less jingoism from the American public. On the moral cost of Washington’s intent to impose American values on the world, Prestowitz warns: "... an American crusade won’t work because it will increasingly involve us in the kinds of alliances of convenience and ruthless actions that only complicate our lives in the long run even as they corrupt our character and institutions." Prestowitz closes the book with something like a prayer: "An America that stressed its tolerance rather than its might, its tradition of open inquiry rather than its lifestyle, and that asked for God’s blessing on all the world’s people and not just its own, would be the America that the world desperately wants. It would be something else, too. I’ll never forget my first glimpse of Assisi, home of Saint Francis. As I turned a curve in the road just before sunset, there it was, white and shining on the hill."
America needs more patriots like Clyde Prestowitz.

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Created March 7, 2004
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