Toward a Homeland "Favorable Climate of Investment"
By Edward Herman
Several decades ago, in The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (with Noam Chomsky, 1979) and The Real Terror Network (Herman, 1982), we gave great weight to the demand for a "favorable climate of investment" as a driving force in explaining U.S. policy in Third World countries. If the business community and its interests have played a very significant role in shaping foreign policy—which I am confident is true—this helps explain why a democracy like ours could regularly align with dictators and regimes of torture, given its nominal commitment to democracy and human rights. U.S. companies, expanding steadily overseas, have always wanted friendly and cooperative leaders in areas of investment interest who would help assure their profitability and security from any "populist" threat. A Suharto in Indonesia would do this as would a Mobutu in Zaire, a Pinochet in Chile, and a Marcos in the Philippines. Truly democratic governments in those countries might well threaten to serve the local majority after many decades or centuries of colonial and comprador exploitation. This would never do, as even our leaders have acknowledged, especially behind the scenes. Thus, a National Security Council Policy Statement of 1953 on "United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Latin America" (a document never cited in the New York Times, believe it or not) expressed open hostility to "nationalist regimes maintained in large part by appeals to the masses" that sought an "immediate improvement in the low living standard of the masses." This document is clear that democracy and "populism" (i.e., majority welfare-oriented policies) are dangerous and bad. It is explicit in its heavy weight given to "a political and economic climate conducive to private investment." Unfortunately, quelling "populist" tendencies often requires harsh measures. For
many decades these were regularly provided by U.S.-sponsored and supported military dictatorships and regimes of state terror. Latin America became a hotbed of "national security states" (NSS) in the 1950s-1980s, right in the U.S. backyard (the real terror network). But somehow the mainstream media and liberal America never
saw a causal relationship between U.S. dominance, interests, aid, military training, and diplomatic support, and the rise of the NSS, as they did with the character of the puppet regimes in the Soviet Union's backyard in Eastern Europe. The Frontispiece of The Washington Connection, entitled "The Sun and Its Planets," showed that an estimated 26 of the 35 countries using torture on an administrative
basis in the 1970s were U.S. client states, all receiving military aid and training,
most of them getting police training as well, with dollar flows shown on lines running from the sun to the 26 planets. This book and The Real Terror Network also gave tabular data on the strong relationship between U.S. (and IMF-World Bank) military and economic aid and negative human rights conditions: increases in torture and death squads, repression of labor, increases in numbers of politicalprisoners.
Egypt: A U.S. Protected Dictatorship
The continuity to 2011 is dramatically displayed with the upheaval in Egypt against one more long-sponsored, lavishly aided and U.S.-protected dictator who served U.S. interests for decades, in this case not so much by providing a favorable climate of investment as by collaborating with U.S. client state Israel in ways strongly opposed by the Egyptian majority. This collaboration was made possible by undemocratic rule and state terror, including torture, underwritten by the U.S. taxpayer. The U.S. media acknowledge that Mubarak ruled by force and terror and that he has been a U.S.-funded ally for many years, but there are no recriminations and reflections on the immorality of supporting a ruthless dictator and state terrorism for over 30 years. It is just one of those things that happened.
In The Real Terror Network I put forward a "joint venture" model that showed how well the U.S. military, political, and business establishment cooperated in de facto
alliances with Latin American military and police thugs—often trained in the School of the Americas and U.S. police academies—to quash populism and establish and maintain a favorable climate of investment. In the 1960s, in particular, organizations within the Latin American Catholic Church published periodically on "The Cry of the People" and "Marginalization of the People," describing and objecting to what the joint venture partners were doing to the masses. But, as with
that NSC Policy Statement of 1953, readers of the New York Times did not know of these things; only that the red menace was being contained in Latin America. Today they know that the regime of "peace" and collaboration between Egypt and Israel is threatened, but not that that regime made it possible for Israel to ethnically cleanse in Palestine without obstruction and to twice break the peace and invade
Class War At Home
The longstanding joint venture policies and cries of many peoples involved a form of combined imperialist and class war, with the U.S. business and military elite and the local comprador elites cooperating to atomize, terrorize, and exploit the local
majorities in these countries under attack. At the same time, there was, of course, an ongoing class war in the United States and other major Western capitalist states, but this at-home class war was for many years somewhat muted, because of the shortrun
large gains of postwar economic growth, the willingness of labor to accept militarization, imperial expansion, and exploitation in exchange for some participation in income gains—and the importance to Western capitalist leaders of
showing the world that capitalism was better for ordinary people than Soviet or Chinese socialism. As a result, welfare states were built in the West and the class
war at home was kept for the most part at a low level and in no way comparable to the class war carried out in the pursuit of favorable climates of investment in Brazil, Guatemala, Chile, the Philippines, and elsewhere in the Third World.
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