America’s lost opportunities
In 1945 a small team of American military and intelligence personnel
belonging to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), parachuted into Vietnam, then
under Japanese occupation.
Its mission was to contact Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh
and to give his forces - the only real resistance to the Japanese in
Indo-China - whatever training and aid necessary.
Ho was influenced strongly by Major Archimedes Patti of the OSS, as
could be seen in the Proclamation of Independence which Ho made in Hanoi
on September 2, 1945, which began:
‘All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. This immortal statement was made in the
Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In
a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from
birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.’
Within a few months, the USA was backing the French colonialists who
tried to suppress the Vietnamese independence movement. A decade later,
the Americans used their hand-picked golden boy Ngo Dinh Diem to
engineer the failure of the Geneva Peace accord - later tossing his dead
body onto the rubbish-heap of history (a lesson to all collaborators).
As a result, they were sucked into a war which ended with the biggest
defeat in American history, nearly 60,000 American and three million
Vietnamese deaths later.
What caused the opportunity, for the USA and Vietnam to co-habit
peacefully, to be missed was the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt,
probably the greatest US President after Lincoln. His successor was the
expletive-spitting peasant Harry Truman, who was manipulated by the
oligarchy away from FDR’s dream of a de-colonialised world towards one
of American Imperium.
After the defeat in Vietnam, President Jimmy Carter attempted to
build up a new image of the USA, especially by promoting universal human
rights notwithstanding if the state concerned was an ally or an enemy.
The oligarchy put paid to that as well.
The history of the past three decades has been a history of American
aggression and subversion: from Granada and Nicaragua to Iraq and
Afghanistan. The rights of sovereign nations have been violated
repeatedly as the USA clutches at any straw to maintain its fading
dominance. All that remained of Carter’s championship of human rights
has been the high horse that the USA got on. The CIA’s Phoenix programme
of murder in Vietnam was replicated throughout the world, as militaries
trained by the USA implemented programmes of ‘disappearances’. The USA
itself has been guilty of more than its fair share of human rights
The litany of US human rights misdeeds has been in recent years
topped up with the scandals of the notorious Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo,
Abu Ghraib, ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ and the assassination of
journalists such as Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen. These, the
crimes which have come to light, are the mere tip of the iceberg.
The CIA maintains a ‘Kill List’ of people to be assassinated without
due process of the law, which it has been doing using its notorious
‘drone strikes’ in Pakistan and elsewhere; it probably included Libyan
leader Muammar Gadaffi - the evidence is that his convoy was hit by a US
drone, that he was shot in the legs by an allied Special Forces team and
only later murdered by rebel militiamen guided to the spot.
The Kill List is also an infringement of international law: killing
intentionally is prohibited without due process, the exception being
when the person concerned presents an imminent threat of death or
serious physical harm; even then lethal force is a last resort.
The USA had another historic opportunity recently, in regard to Sri
Lanka. The government here had been following a policy of due process in
regard to alleged human rights violations in the period leading up to
the end of the decades-long Eelam conflict. Following the release of the
report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and in
accordance with its recommendations, the authorities set in motion the
procedure to investigate individual allegations of war crimes and human
rights violations. Instead of rewarding the country and helping it
along, the USA is bringing an anti-Sri Lanka resolution to the Human
Rights Council in Geneva.
One wonders whether the numerous envoys sent to the island in the
past months had been reporting back correctly to their handlers in
Washington. Certainly the State Department’s reaction seems bizarre: to
punish Sri Lanka, which is doing what the USA ostensibly wishes it to