Monday, April 28, 2008

Old, old story

On this day in 1965 the United States sent more than 22,000 troops to the Dominican Republic in order to prevent the establishment of what President Lyndon Johnson described as a 'communist dictatorship'. Utter nonsense of course. The Socialist Standard of June that year explains why:

"In yet another flare-up in the endless round of minor conflicts, the focus of attention swung last month to the Western Hemisphere.

Once again the United States Marines landed in that trouble spot of the centuries; the island of Hispaniola. This time it was the Eastern half of the Dominican Republic; not very long ago the marines were hovering of the coast of Haiti.

President Johnson's statement that

All we are in the Dominican Republic for is to preserve freedom and save those people from conquest.

was rich, even from such a poker-faced operator as the President. As any brief glance at the blood-stained history of Dominica will show, the people there have never had any freedom to lose.

In fact, for most of the time they have been ruled by corrupt and vicious dictatorships with occasional periods of civil war. And if the occupation of a State by the armed forces of a foreign power is not conquest, the the word has changed its meaning.

However, almost in the same breath the Americans came out with the real reason - fear of another Cuba. Dominica was in fact Viet-Nam in reverse. The United States has always been extremely touchy about Non-American states having a foot in the American Continent.

The Monroe doctrine of 1823 was proclaimed to prevent this, and the conditions of the modern world, with its nuclear weapons and its long range missiles, makes the idea of a possible Russian base so near home particularly unattractive.

Whether or not there were actually any so-called Communists in Dominica, is unimportant the possibility was enough. Russia and China made all the expected noises, and the usual moves in the United Nations, but obviously did not intend to risk a major war over a possible minor gain.

There was however a further complication for the USA, - namely the Latin American States with their fears and suspicions of their gigantic neighbor. In the 19th Century the United States could afford to treat South and Central America with contempt, but today they prefer to have amicable relations with them.

They have, over the last 30 years, devoted much energy to their "good neighbour" policies and to the Organisation of American States (OAS).

If the situation really demands it, and American Capitalism is threatened, Washington is quite prepared to go ahead and damn the consequences. Dominica, luckily, was not that serious, which saved all that good neighbourliness from going up in nuclear dust."

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