Results we are after
When that U.S. spy plane was snooping around the coast of China, crashed into a Chinese military plane, killing its pilot, the "liberal" media swung into action and gave us constant coverage of the international incident.
Even though a Chinese pilot was dead and no American lives were lost, MSNBC - on one of its news shows - put forward a revealing question: Should America retaliate?
Then last week a small plane carrying American missionaries was shot down by the Peruvian government, killing Veronica Bowers and her adopted daughter Charity. It's an alleged case of mistaken identity in the farcical war on drugs. Compared to the spy plane incident, the coverage has been scant. And noticeably absent in the aftermath of the "mistake" over Peru is any talk of U.S. retaliation.
So what gives? How could there be serious discussion about retaliation against China when no American lives were lost and a Chinese pilot was killed, but no one is even raising the question of retaliation over Americans killed by Peru's government?
For some insight, one might begin with foreign policy scholar Charles Lipson, who wrote "Standing Guard: Protecting Foreign Capital in the 19th and 20th Centuries." In that book, Lipson details what every military planner knows: The centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy is not humanitarian intervention but the protection of the divine right of the rich to pry open foreign markets, with military might if necessary, and extract huge profits despite the vast poverty afflicting these societies.
This is known as "anti-expropriation politics" in the literature. It's discussed openly in business and academic journals, safely out of the purview of public scrutiny with the complicity of the "free" press. Meanwhile, the rabble is fed ideological drivel about "freedom" and "democracy" and "human rights." Lipson notes that the policy debate has never been about democracy, only a discussion about tactics - "bounded by the consensus that the protection of corporate investments was a fundamental and long-standing goal of U.S. foreign policy." He cites a memorandum from U.S. AID administrator David Bell to President Kennedy, regarding the anti-expropriation Hickenlooper amendment.
"We seek the same objectives Hickenlooper does. But formal amendments of this type may arouse nationalistic feelings and exacerbate rather than ease the problems at issue. Working quietly but forcefully behind the scenes is a far better way to bring about the results that we are after."
In Peru, as is the case throughout Latin America, "the results that we are after" are undermining the agrarian economy with subsidized U.S. agricultural exports and other pressures to drive Peruvian peasants into export production.
In the words of another Latin America scholar, "when peasants are compelled to function on the capitalist market, they do it just the way Milton Friedman says they should: They look for the most profitable crop per hour of labor input. By any measure, that's going to be coca. So we drive them to produce it. Then when we don't like it, we go there and defoliate the farms. We don't defoliate the farms in North Carolina which are producing tobacco, (although) it would be a lot easier than sending bombers out to Peru."
Keep in mind that Peru (and Colombia) have the most inequitable land distribution in all of Latin America, which is noted by State Department analysts as the major cause of the various civil wars in the region, pitting wealthy landowners and their U.S. corporate allies against the landless peasants.
For example, in 1968, the Peruvian government tried to address the problem with land reform. The International Petroleum Co., a subsidiary of Standard Oil now known as Exxon, was expropriated. Never mind that these American businesses were pulling profits out of a struggling economy. Something had to be done.
Aid to Peru was immediately but quietly suspended. Standard Oil initially asked Washington to invoke the Hickenlooper amendment but later backed off after being convinced by State Department officials that such harsh legislation serves only to enflame nationalist sentiment in foreign countries.
Lipson concludes: "Most multinational companies now think that inflexible threats to suspend foreign aid are either ineffective deterrents or self-defeating retribution... . This new attitude is best summarized by the president of Exxon Services in Caracas.
"After Venezuela nationalized billions of dollars in foreign oil concessions, including Exxon's, he told Business Week: 'The government has gained control of the oil industry without risk, and we have found an attractive income for technology that we would have to develop anyway... . This is the way the world is going and it is, in itself, a profitable business'."
No war-drum beating over Peru as was done over China. Makes sense. Only innocent Americans were killed by the Peruvian government. No profits are at stake.