In Jan., Max Boot, a prominent military historian, wrote an incredibly honest op-ed in The Washington Post about American involvement in foreign conflicts. Criticizing the Trump administration’s desire to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan, Boot wrote that the point is not to win. Instead, like the “Indian Wars” and British imperialism in India, America is patrolling “Pax Americana,” therefore the American public shouldn’t have any expectation of withdrawal from its overseas interventions and instead should view them as a multi-century project.
He uses analogies to the worst excesses of Western colonialism, in describing the current predicament in which America finds itself. Boot writes his piece in a very distant voice which ignores the genocidal aspect of this patrolling of our borders.
In the same sense, Boot doesn’t mention the real consequences of the supposed “Pax Americana.” The US invasion of Iraq killed conservatively hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and undoubtedly created the power vacuum which led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Additionally, America frequently kills civilians throughout the Middle-East with drone strikes. Our involvement in Syria has different US agencies funding different militias that fight each other or hand over weapons to ISIS, and our overthrow of Muammar Al Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya, in 2011, precipitated two civil wars which have killed tens of thousands of people.
Another area where the US heavily intervenes to maintain control is Latin America. The New York Times reports that in 2018 Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, warned that America was meeting with Latin American leaders to plot a coup against Maduro, and of course, in January, Juan Guiado unilaterally declared himself president of Venezuela with the backing of the Trump administration. On Jan. 27 Vice President Pence released a video in support of Juan Guido, calling Maduro an “illegitimate dictator.” This is the second US coup attempt in Venezuela this century.
To be clear, the Maduro administration has curtailed civil liberties and has accrued too much power. However, that does not necessitate US intervention. We can’t go around the world destabilizing every problematic regime, and the Trump administration certainly has no room to criticize dictators. Trump has repeatedly supported the Saudi government, an absolute monarchy, commended Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil who has praised Brazil’s military dictatorship and undermined a UN anti-corruption investigation into the US-backed Guatemalan government.
Additionally, the Trump administration claims to care about the welfare of the Venezuelan people, yet is levying sanctions on oil that will hit Venezuela’s poor hardest and will undoubtedly cause deaths. So, clearly America doesn’t care about democracy or human suffering; the Venezuelan government has refused to accommodate the American Empire and is facing the consequences.
This disregard for the rule of law and human rights is especially apparent with John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor in 2018, and Elliot Abram’s appointment as Special Envoy to Venezuela this year. John Bolton, who held prominent positions under Reagan and both Bush’s, has been on the wrong side of every foreign policy blunder in recent history. Bolton undermined a UN proposal to enforce the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and pulled America out of the International Criminal Court; Bolton also called for regime change in Iran, backed the Iraq War, called for pre-emptive strikes in North Korea and supported the Libyan intervention.
Elliot Abrams, another blood-soaked official, served in several positions during the Reagan administration, perhaps most infamously as Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. A day after he assumed office Abrams led a cover-up of the US-backed El Salvadoran junta’s massacre of 800 civilians. The Intercept reports that US-trained El Salvadoran soldiers entered the town of El Mozote and murdered, raped and tortured men, women and children. Abrams told the Senate that the story was propaganda and “not credible.” Throughout his tenure, Abrams fully supported the El Salvadoran government during its “civil war,” although a UN report showed that 95% of the violence was committed by the government, which employed death squads that killed tens of thousands of peasants.
Not to outdo himself, Abrams supported the military dictatorship in Guatemala, also in a “civil war.” The UN found that the Guatemalan government committed 93% of the human rights violations in a conflict which killed 200,000 people. Abrams wanted America to lift its arms embargo on Guatemala and claimed the Guatemalan government was improving relations with its indigenous communities. In 2013 a Guatemalan court indicted Efrain Rios Montt, the leader of the dictatorship, for genocide against native Mayans and human rights abuses.
This is only a taste of the atrocities and dictatorships that Abrams enthusiastically supported, and now he is the Special Envoy to Venezuela. This is a clear message of US intentions in Venezuela, in fact, The Guardian reports that Abrams was a key player in the 2003 Venezuelan coup.
So when Boot talks about protecting “Pax Americana” and endless wars this is what he means — supporting blood-thirsty dictatorships in impoverished countries while simultaneously overthrowing uncooperative governments. This is what global empire looks like, and its refreshing that some who support this state of affairs are finally being honest.
A humane US foreign and domestic policy would completely ostracize war criminals like John Bolton and Elliot Abrams from public life at the least. It would apologize to the people of Latin America and the world for intervening in their countries, killing millions. Additionally, refugees and illegal immigrants from Central America should get immediate amnesty and citizenship. Our malicious foreign policy directly contributes to their immiseration, and now we say its criminal to run away from our actions.