Deciphering the double-speak of U.S. foreign policy

One of the most crazy-making aspects of political news is having to listen to government double-speak, especially when it involves foreign policy. When the White House, or the State Department, or the military issues a foreign policy statement, I listen for the code words that are hiding the truth of what’s really going on. I listen because I know I’m not being told the truth about whose interests our government’s foreign policy agenda is serving.  The moral of the story is this:  In this age of American imperialism on steroids, when listening to the nightly news, you better be wearing your secret decoder ring.

“Stability” sounds reassuring, doesn’t it?

Terms like “humanitarian mission,”  “peace-keeping mission,” “American interests,” “national security,” or “stability” sound good. That’s because they are designed to elicit a sense of patriotism, idealism, and security for the majority of Americans. But they are sanitized terms that hide the real purpose of our hundreds of military bases around the world. This we can be sure of: those bases are not there to serve and protect you and me, or the people of our host countries. They are there to insure that corporations have access to natural resources, cheap labor, and markets. Many Americans vaguely know this, and, worse, believe that corporations having unfettered global access to what they want is good for America, but they know nothing of the ugly reality of U.S. aggression.

Young people are vulnerable to patriotic double-speak, which is used to manipulate them into joining our all volunteer army. If recruiters tell them they are needed to risk their lives to secure Wall Street profits, would they enlist?

Linguist Noam Chomsky on the code word “stability.”

Chomsky says “stability” means“conformity to American interests.” But, it helps to dig deeper. “American interests” are not your interests, or my interests, they are the interests of the upper 1%, and of Wall Street and  global mega-corporations. So, the question Chomsky urges us to ask when the word, “stability” shows up on the evening news is, stability for whom and for what purpose?

Stability is—it’s kind of like democracy. Stability means conformity to our interests. So, for example, when Iran tries to expand its influence in Afghanistan and Iraq—neighboring countries—that’s called “destabilizing.” It’s part of the threat of Iran. It’s destabilizing the region. On the other hand, when the U.S. invades those countries, occupies them, half destroys them, that’s to achieve stability. And that is very common, even to the point where it’s possible to write—[as did the] former editor of Foreign Affairs—that when the U.S. overthrew the democratic government in Chile and instituted a vicious dictatorship, that was because the U.S. had to destabilize Chile to achieve stability. That’s in one sentence, and nobody noticed it, because that’s correct, if you understand the meaning of the word “stability.” Yeah, you overthrow a parliamentary government, you install a dictatorship, you invade a country and kill 20,000 people, you invade Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of people—that’s all bringing about stability. Instability is when anyone gets in the way.

Iraq was defined as “unstable” as is Libya today. You may think the U.S. went to war with both countries to get rid of  “unstable dictators” who posed a military threat to the United States. But that would be wrong. The United States has installed plenty of dictators to manage it’s many client states around the world. And neither Iraq or Libya posed a direct threat to the United States. What Iraq and Libya have in common is that they were/are independent nations that did not allow access to American corporations, or enough access to make the U.S. and other Western nations happy. Because they were not compliant and amenable to “American interests,” their leaders were considered unreliable “loose canons.”

Getting rid of loose canons

After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, leveled much of Baghdad with a bombing campaign the Pentagon called “shock and awe,” and got rid of Saddam, Gadhafi tried to ward off threatened aggression on Libya by making political and economic concessions to the U.S and other Western countries. He opened the economy to foreign banks and corporations, and he agreed to IMF demands for structural adjustment, i.e., privatizing many state-owned enterprises and cutting state subsidies on necessities like food and fuel. But in 2010, he began to be “difficult” and demanded terms that were not to the oil companies, or the IMF’s liking. The U.S. supported rebels, who oppose Gaddafi, appeared in 2011, waving the flag of the Western backed monarch he deposed in a coup in 1969.

No matter what you hear from the podiums in the White House or the State Department, we are not in Libya for humanitarian reasons. We are there to remove Gaddafi and install a reliable U.S. dictator who will give oil companies unfettered access to large proven quantities of sweet crude (the most sought after oil in the world) and to limit China’s access to Libyan oil. Also, the old Wheelus Air Force Base near Tripoli will make a handy staging point for the recently formed U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.

If you believe otherwise, then you really need to get a decoder ring.