In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 – an invasion which many Iraqis believe left their country in the worst condition it has been since the Mongol invasion of 1258 — there was much discussion in the media about the Bush Administration’s goal for “nation-building” in that country. Of course, if there ever were such a goal, it was quickly abandoned, and one hardly ever hears the term “nation-building” discussed as a U.S. foreign policy objective anymore.
The stark truth is that the U.S. really has no intentions of helping to build strong states in the Middle East or elsewhere. Rather, as we see time and again – e.g., in Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Ukraine – the goal of U.S. foreign policy, whether stated or not, is increasingly and more aggressively the destruction and balkanization of independent states. However, it is important to recognize that this goal is not new.
Indeed, South Korean human rights scholar Dong Choon Kim, writing of the U.S. war in Korea (1950 – 1953) – a war which he opines was at least arguably genocidal – explains that even back then, the nation-building of Third World peoples was viewed as an act of subversion which had to be snuffed out. As he explained, “[t]he American government interpreted the aspiration for building an independent nation as an exclusive ‘communist conspiracy,’ and thus took responsibility for killing innocent people, as in the case of [the] My Lai incident in Vietnam.”  Thanks to the U.S. war on Korea, Korea to this day remains a country divided in half, with no prospects for unification anytime soon. Kim explains that the Korean War “was a bridge to connect the old type of massacres under colonialism and the new types of state terrorism and political massacre during the Cold War. . . . And the mass killings committed by US soldiers in the Korean War marked the inception of military interventions by the US in the Third World at the cost of enormous civilian deaths.”
Similarly, the U.S. objective in Vietnam was the destruction of any prospect of an intact, independent state from being created. As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote as part of the International War Crimes Tribunal that he and Bertrand Russell chaired after the war, the U.S. gave the Vietnamese a stark choice: either accept capitulation in which the country would be severed in half, with one half run by a U.S. client, or be subjected to near total annihilation.  Sartre wrote that, even in the former case, in which there would be a “cutting in two of a sovereign state . . . [t]he national unit of ‘Vietnam’ would not be physically eliminated, but it would no longer exist economically, politically or culturally.” Of course, in the latter case, Vietnam would suffer physical elimination; bombed “’back to the Stone Age’” as the U.S. threatened. As we know, the Vietnamese did not capitulate, and therefore suffered near-total destruction of their country at the hands of the United States. Meanwhile, for good measure, the U.S. simultaneously bombed both Cambodia and Laos back to the Stone Age as well.
To understand the purpose behind such violent and destructive actions, we need look no farther than the U.S.’s own post-WWII policy statements, as well articulated by George Kennan serving as the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning in 1948:
We must be very careful when we speak of exercising “leadership” in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have answers to the problems, which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples. Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction…
Read more here (Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús )
Original post from CounterPunch which TLB recommends as reading for an expanded world view.