Saturday, November 19, 2005

- James W. Fulbright (D), Senate Years of Service: 1945-1974

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: Some of us may know a friend or relative who has earned a study grant as a "Fulbright scholar," and thus familiar with the name.

Senator Fulbright wrote books such as the "Arrogance of Power" (1966), "The Pentagon Propaganda Machine" (1970), "The Crippled Giant: American Foreign Policy and its Domestic Consequences" (1972), "The Price of the Empire" (1989), etc.

Fulbright was the longest serving and most powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also the most prominent, and the most effective, of the first American critics of the Vietnam War.

Fulbright's criticism was particularly galling and damning to Lyndon Johnson because Fulbright was a principled internationalist who could not be dismissed as an ideologue. Fulbright used hearings by the Foreign Relations Committee as a forum in which to advance his powerful critique of the war.

Below is what he said about nationalism during the Vietnam War. It sounds familiar even today. Deja vu! Now with the quagmire brought about by the Iraqi Invasion, with the new excuse/spin of "fighting terrorism" and "spreading democracy", etc. as modeled from the U.S. intervention/occupation of our homeland. The new spin is now used since the old rationale of "containing or fighting communism" is now moot -given that communism is practically the God that failed.

America, due to its self-righteous ignorance/arrogance, desire and action to bully the world, and insatiable greed (the logic of capitalism), creates its own monsters, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

America's leaders never learn to respect other peoples' society and sovereignty. Despite being the wealthiest and militarily, the strongest country since the start of the 20th century; their war-mongering results only in their young soldiers fighting for nebulous rationalizations and thus dying needlessly.


Looking beyond a possible settlement of the Vietnamese War, it may be that the major lesson of trhis tragic conflict will be a new appreciation of the power of nationalism in Southeast Asia and, indeed, in all of the world's emerging nations.

Generally, American foreign policy in Asia, in Africa and in latin America has been successful and constructive as far as American aims have coincided with the national aims of the people concerned.

The tragedy of Vietnam is that for many reasons, including the intransigence of a colonial power and the initial failure of the United States to appreciate the consequences of of that intransigence, the nationalist movement became associated with and largely subordinated to the Communist movement.

In the postwar era it has been demonstrated repeatedly that nationalism is a stronger force than communism and that the association of the two, which has created so many diffilcuties for the United States, in neither inevitable nor neutral.

In the past, it has come about when, for one reason or another, the West has set itself in opposition to the natural aspirations of the emerging peoples. It is to be hoped that in the future the United States will leave no country in doubt as to its friendship and support for legitimate national aspirations.

If we do this, we will find ourselves in another conflict like the one in Vietnam.

Source: "The Vietnam Reader - Articles and Documents on American Foreign Policy and the Vietnam Crisis, M. G. Raskin and Bernard B, Fall

"From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair." - William Blum

"I spent thirty-three years in the Marines, most of my time being a hlgh class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism." - General Smedley Butler, former US Marine Corps Commandant,1935

"Why of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."- Hermann Goering, Hitler's righthand man (1893-1946)

"[American leaders] are perhaps not so much immoral as they are amoral. It's not that they take pleasure in causing so much death and suffering. It's that they just don't care ... the same that could be said about a sociopath. As long as the death and suffering advance the agenda of the empire, as long as the right people and the right corporations gain wealth and power and privilege and prestige, as long as the death and suffering aren't happening to them or people close to them ... then they just don't care about it happening to other people, including the American soldiers whom they throw into wars and who come home - the ones who make it back alive - with Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome eating away at their bodies. American leaders would not be in the positions they hold if they were bothered by such things." - William Blum

"To oppose the policies of a government does not mean you are against the country or the people that the government supposedly represents. Such opposition should be called what it really is: democracy, or democratic dissent, or having a critical perspective about what your leaders are doing. Either we have the right to democratic dissent and criticism of these policies or we all lie down and let the leader, the Fuhrer, do what is best, while we follow uncritically, and obey whatever he commands. That's just what the Germans did with Hitler, and look where it got them." - Michael Parenti

"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809

"If it is commercialism to want the possession of a strategic point [Philippines] giving the American people an opportunity to maintain a foothold in the markets of that great Eastern country [China], for God's sake let us have commercialism." --Senator Mark Hanna (1837-1904)

“Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation..keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States…The adherence of the Unted States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United the exercise of an international police power.” – American President Theodore Roosevelt (opening of 58th Congress, 1903-1905)

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