It is always comforting to read American history. North Americans are always portrayed as the good guys in these narratives. We have this great national model for government and all with grand and dignified institutions. A history filled with giants and legends, slave holders, power brokers and of course, land speculators. But we do still have democracy to fall back on, right, don’t we? We as a nation have gathered together all of our collective wisdom and we have distilled it down, and out of that elixir we have determined that either Willard “Mitt” Romney or Barack Hussein Obama are the two best, uniquely qualified candidates to lead our nation for the next four years.
“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” -Mark Twain
“The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.” – Joseph Stalin
Still, we are so great a nation and so blessed by the creator that we have gone out and built many wonders upon the Earth. In December of 1823, when the United States of America was barely fifty years old, we issued a proclamation to the world. The Monroe Doctrine declared that the United States would consider any attempts at colonization or interference by any other state in the Western Hemisphere an act of war. No one had a vote on the Monroe Doctrine, it was declared unilaterally, that this hemisphere was ours and we would fight to keep it.
There were only twenty two states at the time of the Monroe Doctrine. The Louisiana Purchase was less than twenty years old and yet we had declared to the world that this hemisphere was ours and ours alone to exploit. It had begun as a dream of two German brothers to build a canal across the isthmus joining North and South America. The French began a project to build a sea level canal in 1880. Between 1880 and 1889, 22,000 mainly Afro-Cubans died digging in the Isthmus and the French project eventually collapsed in May of 1889 after spending over $234 millions. The collapse of the company created a scandal in France and it wasn’t until 1894 before investors understood that their only way to salvage any return was to complete the project, only now there was a new problem.
Speculators in the United States had announced they were considering a rival canal route through Nicaragua. The investors in France were panicked, they estimated that another $109 million would be needed to complete the canal, but because of the US speculators they were having a difficult time finding investors for the project. In 1899, the US government formed the Isthmian Canal Commission. The commissions made a recommendation that unless the French would sell the canal project to the US for $40 million dollars the US should build an alternate canal through Nicaragua.
It was no different than the Godfather making you an offer that you couldn’t refuse. The US speculators had no intention of building an alternate canal, only in making it look like they would build an alternate canal. They simply used their influence inside government circles to ruin the French plan and then forced them to sell it to the US at a bargain.
Two government panels decided that Nicaragua was a superior cite for the canal and two years of tax payer funded survey work performed by the Army Corps of Engineers was wasted. After the speculators obtained title to the canal by strong arming the French project the Nicaraguan project was ruined and investors lost everything after its stock collapsed.
Do you see how this democracy of ours works?
Still, there was a lot of work left to be done; the elected government of United States demanded that it must hold sovereignty over any canal zone. The Colombian government offered to negotiate a lease for the land to the United States. In August of 1903, the United States government decided instead to support separatist movements inside of Panama. Just ten weeks later Panamanian separatist declared their independence from Columbia, as the US gunboat USS Nashville just happened to be waiting off the Colombian Coast. Instantly, the US government unofficially recognized the government of Panama on the day of its birth.
In return, the first act of the new Panamanian legislature was to cede the sovereignty of the Canal Zone to the United States. News of the Panamanian declaration was delayed two days from reaching the Colombian Capital because of problems with undersea cables. Powerful forces had used the government of the United States to ruin two capitalist enterprises leaving thousands of investors ruined, So that a few insiders could grow rich. Whenever governments fail to do as they are told by the United States they are either subverted or replaced by more friendly governments.
Do you see how this democracy of ours works?
In 1897-98, Cuban’s were fighting for independence with their Spanish Colonial masters. Newspaper reports of Spanish atrocities against the innocent civilian populations inflamed American public opinion. In February, the US Battleship Maine arrived in Havana Harbor to negotiate with Spain. The Maine was the second steel battleship constructed for the US navy and the Maine was obsolete before her bottom was ever wet. Her prow was designed to ram enemy vessels and her guns were mounted on her sides rather than in modern turrets. So bad was her design that if both main guns were pointed in the same direction the ship would lean dramatically.
The Captain of the Maine wrote in his private journal that negotiations were going well and he was optimistic that a diplomatic solution could be reached. Oh, but that wasn’t to be because on February 15, 1898, the Battleship Maine exploded and sank in Havana Harbor with the loss of 261 American sailors. Journalists such as William Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst inflamed American public opinion by condemning Spain as responsible for the disaster. Subsequent forensic investigations of the wreck show damage consistent with a fire in a coal bunker.
In 1898, a blue ribbon commission was named to investigate. The Sampson Board’s Court of Inquiry determined that a coal fire igniting ammunition stored on the other side of a wall separating the ammunition from the coal bunker was an unlikely scenario and without any evidence whatsoever, then declared that the Maine was sunk by an underwater mine.
Whether this was a false flag event or not, it certainly was well timed and convenient pretext for a war. Less than ten years before a book entitled, “The Influence of Sea Power upon History” by Alfred T. Mahan made the rounds of influential circles in Washington. It advocated that the United States should take the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and the Philippines for bases to protect U.S. commerce. The book also advocated the building of a Panama Canal to enable fleet movements from ocean to ocean and the building of the Great White fleet of steam-driven armor plated battleships. What a coincidence, what are the chances?
Do you see how this democracy of ours works?
- On June 12, 1895 President Cleveland issues a proclamation of neutrality because of course, we are such a peaceful people.
- December 7, 1895 President Cleveland declares the United States might take action in Cuba if Spain fails to resolve the crisis.
- February 15, 1898 the US Battleship Maine explodes in Havana Harbor.
- March 9, 1898 Congress authorizes fifty million dollars to “strengthen the Military.”
- March 17, 1898 U.S. Senator Redfield Proctor (R-Vt.) influences Congress and U.S. business community in favor of war with Spain.
- March 29, 1898 the U.S. issues ultimatum to Spain to leave Cuba.
- On April 11th President McKinley requested authorization from the U.S. Congress to intervene in Cuba, with the object of putting an end to the war between Cuban revolutionaries and Spain.
- April 13, 1898 Congress agrees to the authorization but deletes any recognition of Cuban sovereignty.
- April 19th, The U.S. Congress by vote of 311 to 6 in the House and 42 to 35 in the Senate adopted the Joint Resolution for war with Spain.
- Beginning on May 1st Commodore Dewey gave his famous quote, “You may fire when ready Gridley,” and within six hours had defeated the Spanish Fleet in Manila Bay.
- May 2, 1898 Congress authorizes an additional $34 million in credit to fund the war.
- May 4, 1898 a joint resolution was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of President William McKinley, calling for the annexation of Hawaii.
- May 10, 1898 Secretary of the Navy orders Captain William Glass to capture Guam on his way to the Philippines.
- May 25, 1898 First troops leave San Francisco for the Philippines.
- May 28th, the US Army begins mobilization to invade Cuba.
- June 11, 1898 the McKinley administration revives debate in Congress on Hawaiian annexation, using the argument that “we must have Hawaii to help us get our share of China.”
- June 15, 1898 Congress passed the Hawaii Annexation Resolution, 209-91. On July 6, the U.S. Senate affirmed the measure.
By July, 18th it was all over and America was a colonial power for the cost of 3,289 service men killed plus 3,000 more who succumbed to disease; all to fight a war that no one had ever voted for. Cuba was technically free just ninety miles from American shores and what does this teach us? What are we to gather from this academic exercise? That there is nothing new under the sun in the United States. We see with our modern eyes the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as war criminals and monsters yet, they are merely the latest incarnation of our democratically elected Capitalist war-lords.
WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows. – General Smedley Butler, U.S.M.C.
Syria – 1949
Iran – 1953
Tibet – 1950’s
Guatemala – 1954
Cuba – 1959
Democratic Republic of the Congo – 1960
Iraq – 1963
Brazil – 1964
Republic of Ghana – 1966
Iraq – 1968
Chile – 1973
Afghanistan – 1973-74
Iraq – 1973-75
Argentina – 1976
Afghanistan – 1978 to 80’s
Iran – 1980
Nicaragua – 1981 to 1990
El Salvador – 1980 to 1992
Cambodia – 1950 to 1995
Iraq – 1992 to 1995
Afghanistan – 2001
Venezuela – 2002
Does anyone remember voting for these atrocities? It would appear that our democracy is a sham.
David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, The Servants of Pilate.