The United States prides itself on the fact that we fought communism, thereby restoring “democracy” and spreading capitalism in many parts of the world. History books highlight the direct influence of the United States on South Korea and its successes, versus North Korea and its failures, as well as the successes of Israel, often deemed Middle East’s only true “democracy.” Although it may seem as if the international community has prospered from American imperialism, further research proves that is not the case. Looking to Latin American countries, specifically Guatemala, one can see that U.S. imperialism results in terrible consequences, and begin to question what kind of future is in store for countries currently suffering from this faulted foreign policy.
In the 1960s Guatemala was an extremely turbulent nation. American-imposed capitalism put many people at a disadvantage. To no one’s surprise, the lower class got together, creating revolutionary groups that would challenge the regime and its ideologies. The revolutionary groups were fighting for a more fair, socialistic society, essentially dissolving the current class warfare and monopolies.
Cue the United States. After working so hard to design a coup d’état that delegated a noncommunist leader in 1954, the U.S. would make it a priority to stop the revolutionary groups again in the early 1960s. The U.S. equipped and trained Guatemalan military against the revolutionaries. The Guatemalan government went on to murder thousands of civilians, using brutal tactics that violated countless human rights laws. Throughout the 60s and 70s, the U.S. reaffirmed its support with $33 million in aid to the Guatemalan regime. Despite having knowledge of Guatemalan government’s human rights violations, the United States would continue to support them for the remainder of the war.
Today, Guatemala suffers from extreme systematic oppression. The indigenous populations are marginalized in numerous ways including land distribution, wealth distribution, and voting rights. The indigenous community is about 51% of the population. Despite this fact, less than one percent of agricultural producers occupies 75% of the best land. This leaves the rest of Guatemala struggling, and makes the chasm between the rich and poor grow even larger. Further, legislation has been passed that makes requirements to vote harder to achieve for an indigenous person than a non-indigenous Guatemalan. And if that wasn’t all enough, leading politicians in the developing nation have been linked to corruption, and scandals involving drug trafficking.
The disenfranchisement of the Guatemalans today is a direct consequence of U.S. imperialism. By studying various countries throughout Latin America, one can see the unfortunate similarities with Guatemala’s case. U.S. imperialism breeds oppression. Despite these failures, the U.S. continues to oversee other countries with this same foreign policy. The results? 500,000 dead in Iraq, 149,000 dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan, thousands of Syrian refugees, and annual bombings on Gaza. And these are only the immediate effects. Imagine the future Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian, and Pakistani governments. Western Imperialism continues to take effect in Yemen as the U.S. aids Saudi Arabia against the Yemeni rebels. The consequences aren’t limited to the death tolls, but are exposed through destroyed communities, economies, and social order.
The solution is simple: Stop enforcing Western ideologies upon other nations. Unfortunately, today’s leading politicians believe – or act as if they do – that the U.S. is the only developed nation practicing freedom, and it’s their job to impose this “freedom” on other countries. Neither of the leading Democrats have a great track record, as candidate Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the Iraq War, and then went on to claim that it was “lawful.” (Half a million deaths and a run for president later, she has finally realized her mistake). Further, she promises to have a more muscular foreign policy, as if President Obama’s drone-obsessive tactics aren’t muscular enough. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist, is only marginally better; he chose to vote in favor of the Afghanistan War, but against both Iraq wars. Similar to everyone else choosing to run for office, he is critical but supportive of Israel. Thus, despite his progressive domestic policies, Senator Sanders fails to upkeep his liberal principles and serve as the cure to our imperialism addiction.
Across the aisle, the GOP candidates all plan to take on the international community without fear, and thereby attempt to gain admiration and respect from all nations. One of these candidates in office would guarantee more unnecessary wars, resulting in the Arab world suffering even more.
Hillary Clinton herself once said,“Economic inequality in Latin America was still among the worst in the world,” and Middle Eastern countries are destined to have the same fate as long as Mrs. Clinton and her fellow candidates follow through with their imperialistic foreign policy. For the idealized United States, bettering society and imperialism go hand in hand. In reality, an imperialistic mindset promotes societies that tolerate a system where the advantaged will continue to thrive and limit the chances of prosperity for the disadvantaged. Forcing ourselves into foreign affairs has historically bred a marginalizing society, and has stripped many people of their basic human rights. The United States needs to stop imposing ourselves and our ideologies upon other countries, because it promises well for no one.
(Title image via).