Front Page Titles (by Subject) II: Government, Violence and Social Instability - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1981, vol. 4, No. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
II: Government, Violence and Social Instability - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1981, vol. 4, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Government, Violence and Social Instability
In contrast to the interconnections among freedom, choice, and social stability, the following summaries reveal a disturbing connection among government policy, violence (including warfare and economic repression), and social instability. This distressing nexus is a theme treated in Literature of Liberty's Editorial, and also sounded repeatedly in Justus Doenecke's bibliographical essay, “The Anti-Interventionist Tradition: Leadership and Perceptions.”
The opening summaries focus on three public figures—William Jennings Bryan, Thornstein Veblen, and John Dewey—and reveal different ideological defenses for using war as an instrument to achieve notions of fundamentalist morality, progressive social change, or pragmatic philosophy. The rationalizations behind the political use of force in domestic or international affairs are quite complex and mutually contradictory.
A less idealized picture of the social, economic, and cultural consequences of militarism, political violence, and regulation is sketched in other summaries beginning with Michael Klare's demonstration of the difficulties of having both “guns and butter.” The victims of political violence in these summaries include the American taxpayer, South African blacks, the Hopi Indians, the Post-Civil War South, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and British soldiers of the Victorian era.
Bryan & Moralistic Foreign Policy
“Above the World: William Jennings Bryan's View of The American Nation In International Affairs.” Nebraska History 61 (Summer 1980): 153–171.
The image Williams Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) gained from the dramatic Scopes Trial (the 1925 trial involving the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools) has been paradoxically either a “defender of the faith” or mountebank of prohibition and Christendom, yet this perception has neglected one of the major elements in Bryan's intellectual and political life, his vital patriotism and nationalism. That neglect in turn has obscured the dynamic consistency of Bryan's diplomacy.
Central to Bryan's Populism of 1896 and his anti-evolutionary Puritanism in 1925 was his belief in the American nation, God's will embodied in and through the common people. America was not like European nations; it was uniquely Christian and democratic to the degree that “the people” were to have absolute power. Democratic Christianity and progressive patriotism were the pillars of Bryan's intellectual heritage and style. He was convinced that Americans had a destiny to civilize the world, yet he did not presume this destiny to be bestowed by a subjective God. Rather, a basic tenet of his Americanism was that the nation controlled destiny, not the reverse.
Bryan assumed that to remain potent, the United States must remain pure in terms of both ideal and racial composition. America must “insist upon the unity and homogeneousness of our nation” for its strength, thus Bryan was alarmed at the “Yellow Peril's” threat to “white supremacy.” This same belief was the basis of his case against the Scopes. The people had the right to exclude “false teaching” because they had a prior obligation as citizens—to be united and to be subordinate to the cause they served.
Bryan did not think in terms of individuals but in terms of “the people.” For Bryan national interest had to be understood as a people united in a cause. The national interest was totally separate from the interests of individual nationals. Because each individual needed to devote himself to the overriding purpose of the nation, private interests of individual Americans were subordinate to national interest rather than constituting it. For Bryan, not individuals, but “the people are the source of power.” Building from early emphasis on “homogeneousness,” Bryan's beliefs required unquestioning obedience to the will and voice of the people, and the nation's vitality depended on legitimate expression of the will of the people. America would triumph because there “the voice of the people...(is) the voice of God.”
But total domestic unity and harmony was only the foundation upon which Bryan built his proud Americanism. Inspired by the ever-newly-created unity, America had to be unique, an exemplary manifestation of idealism and God's will. As God's extraordinary people, the “voice of God” in the midst of an explosive and despotic world, Bryan's “conquering nation” was a dynamo to regenerate the world. To remain genuinely unique America had to be independent from and superior to European nations. As he fought to prove at the Scopes trial, evolution was an import from the Old World and therefore to be expunged by the people. Bryan's brand of Americanism required that America be involved in the world's affairs only on its own terms. The United States sought world cooperation only in order to secure its foremost position in international affairs.
The final element of Bryanesque nationalism was his belief that because of the United States' historical association, economic dependency, cultural affinity, and geographical proximity, she had special responsibilities as the civilizing benefactor to the world. Domestically, Bryan thought the United States could be a monolithic community. Internationally he thought America still dominated her hemisphere and could by sheer energy and purity of commitment re-order the world.
So enchanted was Bryan by the bright glow produced by the flame of American nationalism, that he understood neither the destructive potential in the coercive domestic power of American nationalism nor the limitations of other countries, nationalism and national interests. Yet the America he believed in was totally vulnerable to domestic intolerance and international arrogance, as events in the twentieth century have glaringly proven.
War and Social Change
“‘For the Period of the War:’ Thorstein Veblen, Wartime Exigency, and Social Change.” Mid-America: An Historical Review 62 (April-July 1980) 91–104.
Few of the participants in American history have been discredited more consistently than those people on the political left who supported American entry into the First World War and who served the government during that conflict. Though most historians concede that pro-war leftists supported the war and worked for the government because they thought the conflict would bring changes beneficial to society, this public reason masked a private lust for power, influence, and social approval.
Thorstein Veblen was one radical who supported American entry and pursued a position in the Statistical Division of the United States Food Administration. Veblen was enthusiastic about the Allied cause, and he did hope the war would result in major economic and social changes, but Prof. Danbom contends that Veblen did not surrender his principles or become seduced by the image of power. In fact, Veblen's hopes that the war would lead to change never overwhelmed his basic belief that it would not. His support for the war and his government service entailed no violation of his fundamental principles, and he quickly resigned his Federal post when he recognized he was having no impact on policy.
Veblen's actions can be explained by his early perception of the war's importance. In Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution, published in 1915, Veblen expressed his belief in the importance of a German defeat in the war. He believed Germany was a particularly dangerous power, because its economic strength fed a state animated with dynastic ambitions of dominion. Germany had been able to retain a “retarded adherence to certain mediaeval or submediaeval habits of thought, including an extraordinary “fealty or subservience” of the people to the state, because it had adopted advanced industrial technology quickly and late. The dynastic state had survived because “modern technology has come to the Germans ready-made, without the cultural consequences which its gradual development and continued use had entailed among the people whose experience initiated it and determined the course of its development.
Despite Veblen's fear of Germany, he did not abandon his skepticism regarding the Allies. Veblen was extremely cynical of the vested interests of power which controlled and determined a capitalist society. His hopes lay in the slight possibility that the war might result in the removal of the vested interests from power. That possibility hinged on the length and severity of the military struggle. If the war were long and severe, two things might occur which would weaken the vested interests. First, “military exigencies may over-rule the current demands of business traffic,” thus elitists would relinquish the seat of power (temporarily) to engineers and managers who could produce far more efficiently. Secondly, the citizen might come “to distrust the conduct of affairs by his betters, and trust his own class.”
Neither Veblen nor the others on the left who glimpsed a chance for change were necessarily deluding themselves. In Russia the vested interests were crumbling, in the Central Powers they seemed to be weakening, and even in England and France Veblen perceived the “individious distinctions of class, sex, wealth and privilege...giving way before the exigencies of a war that is to be fought to a finish.”
Veblen's assignment for the Food Administration was to assess the situation of the grain farmers in the Mid-west, who were experiencing both a serious labor shortage from the draft and the accelerating rural-urban migration. Veblen contended early in his memorandum that fears of a labor shortage were justified, and that the situation would worsen as the harvest season approached. What made the labor situation particularly volatile was the fact that a large majority of migratory harvest workers were members of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, a component of the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, a revolutionary anarchosyndicalist labor organization. The A.W.I.U. had never been friendly to the farmers for whom its members worked, and the farmers returned the hostility. In addition, the Federal government had already stigmatized the Wobblies as unpatriotic and dangerous to the war effort. Veblen attempted to counteract this unfavorable image, contending the Wobblies were in a “prevailing loyal frame of mind and willing to work amicably with the farmers.” The problem as Veben believed, was not between the farmers and workers, but for the town-centered vested interests which opposed both. Most unfortunate, in Veben's view, was the Federal government's involvement in this quarrel on the side of the townsmen. Thus Veblen saw the situation in the wheat-producing states as a microcosm of the normal order of things throughout the world: the parasitic vested interests, supported by the state, oppressing the productive classes.
Veblen suggested that the government drop prosecutions and harassment directed at Wobblies, and make an alliance with them. Veblen's proposal should be seen as a test of the willingness of government to impart legitimacy to a despised group in the interest of wartime efficiency rather than as a plan for social control. The government's unwillingness to undertake any of Veblen's policy changes revealed the determination of the elite to cling to its power regardless of the exigency of war to make necessary changes.
Veblen was guilty of an intense and partisan interest in the war, but that interest did not lead him to abandon his principles. Although attracted to power, he was unwilling to alter his principles in order to get or hold it. Veblen's hopes had been high enough to tempt him to shed his characteristic diffidence and to enter government service, but he had always remained pessimistic about the probable results of the war. Veblen's experience, however, should at least indicate to us that the popular historical model of the behavior of pro-war leftists does not apply in every case.
Dewey, Pragmatism, and War
“John Dewey in Peace and War.” The American Scholar 50 (Spring 1981): 217–236.
Does Pragmatism work? Many scholars remained convinced that the rise of pragmatism not only liberated progressive thought from the deductive chains of nineteenth-century conservative ideology, but even resolved the crisis of authority that confronted an American mind coming to terms with twentieth-century modernity. Man thinking became man doing, and the challenge was not so much to contemplate life as to “experience” it. But, can pragmatism help resolve the crisis of authority in history by providing authoritative knowledge about history? In this connection how did John Dewey, the leading exponent of pragmatism in the twentieth century, respond to historical events and interpret the meaning and direction of history itself.
The outbreak of World War I confronted Dewey's pragmatism with one of its greatest challenges, as he always held up rational intelligence as the tool for settling disputes. However, Dewey came out in support of America's entry into the war and justified his new position with a well-developed rationale. He was convinced that America's entry into the war could not be resisted, thus Dewey argues that the war would compell the intellectual to reconsider the “intelligent use of force” in international affairs. Dewey justified America's entry by trying to show the compatibility of pragmatism and war, an effort that led him to distinguish force from violence, contending that force need not always be evil but sometimes has attributes of energy and power which lead to positive results.
The dilemma that Dewey courageously faced actually confronted the most sensitive minds of the entire World War I generation, in Europe as well as America: the “horror” of unexplained events. To overcome this sense of intellectual helplessness, Dewey advised the troubled liberal to “connect conscience” with the “forces” that were violating it. If the purpose of authority is to get itself obeyed, Dewey wanted to get intellectuals to obey the processes of history, “the moving forces of events.” In doing so, Dewey was assuming that one can control history by becoming its agent. This assumption would render individual judgment indistinguishable from the forces that are shaping it by counseling subjective obedience to objective events. Legitimate authority would thus become external to its subjects, while political consciousness, the ability to reflect on power, would be lost to the forces of history.
Here is where the fundamental paradox lies in the basis of Dewey's attitude toward history. Although he looked to human experience as the test of truth, historical experience could never be the source of history. The purpose of history is considered to be the discovery of the great moral lessons of the past that we should know in order to obey, yet this could hardly be endorsed by Dewey who saw historical reality as an indeterminate series of unique events from which no clear lessons could be drawn. Dewey was deeply convinced that the past, simply as past, is wholly unknowable and devoid of any antecedent reality; thus, if the past cannot authorize the present, why are we obligated to return to it? Only the future can verify our ideas about the past. Dewey always believed that the democratic spirit animating empirical method would provide a new basis for authority, a systematic means by which disputes could be settled without resorting to arbitrary, dogmatic authority, on the one hand, or force and violence on the other. In 1917, Dewey believed that democracy would be expanded by aligning itself with the forces of history.
However, the outbreak of World War II brought a theoretical impasse in the philosophical position of Dewey regarding politics and world affairs. By 1939, he argued that to resist force with force was to become the captive of the very thing America was fighting—the ideologies of a corrupt and corrupting continent. The lessons of World War I, the Versailles settlement and demands for its revision, and the “Red Scare” of 1919 taught Dewey that American democracy would collapse under the strain of another international war. This conviction reoriented Dewey's entire perspective on events and rendered pragmatism an unworkable tool of historical analysis. For history now emerged in Dewey's mind as something to be feared rather than mastered, a specter from the past endowed with a curious repetitive power that seemingly could be grasped by reason rather than by experiment. Dewey had spent almost his entire intellectual career advising Americans on how to use history to solve problems, insisting that we study the past in light of the present. Now he was approaching the present in light of the past, allowing the experience of World War I to shape his outlook toward World War II. Dewey symbolizes a mind divided against itself, the existential man who, as Kierkegaard might put it, desires to live forward and is condemned to think backward. Dewey ended his career a prisoner of the past, haunted by a memory that now came close to constituting the very seat of authority. The irony of pragmatism, Diggins concludes, is that because it is unable to certify as truthful that which we need to know before we act, the philosophy cannot provide knowledge precisely when it is most valuable. As Hobbes's observation wryly states “truth is hell seen too late.”
Militarism: A Domestic & Foreign Affair
“Resurgent Militarism.” In Holly Sklar (ed.), Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press, 1980, pp. 269–291.
Behind the resurgent militarism of the present day are powerful interest groups with important ties to the armaments industries or to the communities in which these industries are located. Among these special interest groups are members of the Trilateral Commission, a “policy studies” organization which is committed to U.S. military supremacy and to U.S. dominance within a tripartite alliance that includes the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. The consequences of renewed militarism are so dangerous that we need to understand and expose the political-economic forces that are promoting it.
In part, rising militarism is a calculated response to the diffusion of power throughout the world. The emerging decline of U.S. power is seen by the trilateralists as a good reason for renewing our commitment to the core interests upon which America's prestige and prosperity rest. First and foremost among these interests is the continued solidarity of the three leading centers of Western economic activity: Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. Military supremacy is seen as a good way to promote this solidarity by increasing Western power relative to Soviet power.
As long as the U.S. economy was expanding, it was believed that the Welfare State and U.S. military supremacy were compatible goals.
But when forced to choose between guns and butter, major interests have chosen to favor guns and militarism. In order to secure their dominance within the trilateral framework, trilateralists can see no other choice than to expand U.S. military capabilities—a choice that may be incompatible with solving U.S. internal problems.
The results of this rising militarism work against solving U.S. domestic problems. Groups fighting for public funds have to compete for the leftovers of an economic pie already carved up and devoured by military priorities. Military preparations require unassailable secrecy, and thus, in the name of national security, the powers of the military and the presidency grow with a commensurate loss in self-government.
Military spending also contributes to inflation and economic stagnation by rewarding corporations for maximizing their costs of production through “cost-plus-fixed-fee” contracts. Finally, military spending increases the risks of war by forcing us to carry out threats when things fail to work according to plan. We can no longer pretend that foreign policy is separate from domestic policy. We need to confront the new militarism as the number one domestic issue as well.
Western Support for Apartheid
“Apartheid and Trilateralism: Partners in Southern Africa.” In Holly Sklar (ed.), The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press, 1980, pp. 352–376.
Despite international boycotts and armed resistance against white South Africa, the trilateral countries have largely supported the regime of racism or “apartheid” in South Africa together with the bogus “reform” movement that seeks to extend and strengthen apartheid. Among the reasons for supporting apartheid, the critical ones are economic: the trilateral countries are heavily dependent upon the strategic minerals that are mined in South Africa. South Africa ranks fourth among the world's nations in known reserves and exports of minerals necessary for industrialization: chromium, manganese, cobalt, platinum, uranium, and gold. The mining industries themselves depend upon cheap Black labor, and the Black liberation movement represents a threat to securing needed minerals and metals at a price that favors Western capital.
Apartheid itself is based on government legislation which robbed the African farmers of their land, excluded Blacks from skilled job categories, shifted Blacks to resource-deficient areas, and denied Blacks any political participation in the government of South Africa. International capital supports apartheid by its mining investments—investments which attain high profits by the low costs of a largely nonunionized and mostly migrant labor force.
Criticism of trilateral countries' cooperation with the minority regime in South Africa has sparked a “reform” movement to improve the international image of apartheid. However, the “reforms” that have taken place actually strengthen apartheid, while doing little to dismantle it. Labor legislation, for example, denies Blacks the right to strike and empowers the government to control union membership and to deny any union affiliation with political parties. Influx control laws prohibit Blacks from remaining in urban areas without a job or approved housing, while increasing penalties for any employer hiring “illegal” urban Blacks. Even so, the national liberation movement is growing in strength, and it remains to be seen whether the trilateral-backed South African reform effort will revitalize the minority regime or hasten its demise.
U.S. Pacification of the Hopi
“Evangelists, Educators, Ethnographers, and the Establishment of the Hopi Reservation.” The Journal of Arizona History 21 (Winter 1980): 363–390.
Historians have heretofore described the establishment of the Hopi Reservation in the Arizona Territory by President Chester A. Arthur in 1882 as a reaction to two outside pressures. The first was the migration of the nomadic Navajo who had begun to settle on traditional Hopi lands. The second was the beginning of Mormon settlements near the reservation. The Navajo threats to Hopi crops and livestock, compounded by the prevailing hostility to the spread of Mormonism, led Indian agents to “recommend that a reservation, of sufficient extent...to meet their wants, be at once set apart by the Government for them before any further encroachments be made upon the domain which they have so long occupied.”
There is little reason to doubt that these factors played a role in the decision to set up the Hopi (Moqui) Reservation. McCluskey's search through manuscript records shows, however, that the immediate cause that instigated the action was a dispute between partisans of missionary Charles A. Taylor and former government Indian agent John H. Sullivan over the execution of Indian policy at the Hopi Agency.
The Indian policy of the 1870s and 1880s had been formulated during President U.S. Grant's administration (1869–1877) as an attempt to pacify the Indians with civilian rather than military means. The nomadic lifestyle of most native tribes caused continuous conflict with the expanding farms and ranches of the Anglo-American settlers, and the inevitable collision threatened to lead to the physical extermination of the Indians. The framers of the “peace policy” envisioned forcing them on reservations where they would be educated in the ways of white farmers during the transition from paganism, tribalism, and communal economy to Christianity, civilization, and individual homestead title to land.
The chosen instruments of the peace policy were to be Indian agents appointed by the President and the Senate on the basis of nominations by missionary groups; each tribe was assigned to a specific religious domination. In the 1870s scarcely anyone seriously considered, let along advocated, the preservation of Indian cultures in their pristine state. Sympathy for Indian culture, criticism of Anglo-American ways, and pessimism regarding the possibility of an immediate transformation of the Indians was perceived by some as a direct challenge to the government's Indian policy.
A long drawn out struggle for control of the Hopi Agency ensued between the enthusiastic and ethnocentric missionary Charles A. Taylor and the more sympathetic Indian agent John H. Sullivan, who advocated tolerant and slowly-evolving policies of assimilation for the Indians. On a more abstract level this conflict reflected the differing views of the participants on the proper relations between church and state, on the methods and goals of civilizing the Indians, and even on the ethnocentric assumptions underlying the government's Indian policy. The Indian Bureau's response in establishing the Hopi Reservation can be seen as a prime example of a bureaucracy making a fundamental decision in an atmosphere of crisis. This atmosphere did not arise out of an urgent need to protect the Hopi from Navajo and white settlers, but out of a need to protect the bureaucracy itself from those outsiders (Indian sympathizers) who might interfere with the agent's execution of its policies.
With the eventual dissolution of the agency and the establishment of the reservation, the Hopi were afforded a brief respite from the activities of teachers and missionaries. During this time they could begin to come to grips with Anglo-American culture on their own terms. The goals of the peace policy were not to be achieved in a short time by Taylor's methods of shaming the Indian to abandon his ways. Rather, a slow process of giving positive example was required. The peace policy proposed evangelizing and educating the Indians to free them from the ties of family, clan, and ritual society and to convert them into competitive individuals. The government framers of the peace ignored the reality, however, that not only the Indians but also Anglos found their main source of social and economic support within extended families and their secondary bases of support within the community of a religious society. Among the Hopi such close ties, traditional religion, tribal organization and customs, and communal land holding still endure today. However, despite recurring Hopi resistance, the government Indian Bureau was on the reservation to stay, and the program of “civilizing” began in earnest.
The Celtic South: The Aftermath of War
“The South from Self-Sufficiency to Peonage: An Interpretation.” American Historical Review 85 (December 1980):1095–1118.
Contemporary observers of the antebellum South frequently remarked that Southerners loved their leisure—or, as hostile observers used to say, they were lazy. “They (Southerners) seldom show any spirit of enterprise,” wrote Andrew Burnaby in 1759, “or expose themselves willingly to fatigue.... They are content to live from day to day.” Was this an accurate description of the pre-Civil War South?
According to Profs. McDonald and McWhiney, Southerners of all social classes would have rejected the naive and culture-bound assumption that people naturally seek to better their condition in the same way, and, in their article, they assemble considerable statistical evidence to demonstrate the abundance of leisure enjoyed in the South.
They estimate, for example, that, in 1850, a slave in rural Mississippi could have been expected to work, at the very most, 136 ten-hour days a year, compared with 310 such days for a “free” agricultural worker in the North. Work estimates for white farm laborers in Alabama in the same year run to only 11 forty-hour weeks per year. Of the South's nearly 557,000,000 total acres, fewer than 10 percent were improved by 1850. The undeveloped land and the ill-kept houses of the region gave to the causal observer the impression of grinding poverty. However, this impression was far from accurate.
Profs. McDonald and McWhiney comment that Southerners of this period lived quite literally “off the hog.” Virtually everyone, even those who owned no land, owned animals. They did not need to own land, since the open range prevailed throughout the South. Animals were simply branded or clipped and turned loose to graze the land—anybody's land. When the larder got low, plain folk simply went out and fetched another hog. For vegetables, almost no tillage was necessary. Green gardens once planted, grew wild, reseeding themselves year after year. Once a year—in the fall, after the livestock had fattened themselves on acorns and other nuts—herds were rounded up and driven to market as a cash crop. A few weeks of work in the spring and a few more in the fall, were all that was required to keep this marvelously self-sufficient system going.
The leisurely life style of the Southern plain folk was not a by-product of slavery, as many contemporary travelers thought. The authors see the Southern way as a classical example of what some cultural geographers have called “cultural pre-adaption.” Their preliminary data indicate that 70 percent of white Southerners were of Celtic extraction—mainly Welsh, Scots, Irish, and Scotch-Irish. Unlike Englishmen, but very much like Southerners, Celts preferred tending herds, which did not require the same physical toil involved in arable farming. As a result, visitors among Celtic peoples generally thought them indolent. These pastoral nations also preferred open-range husbandry—a way of life for most of the Scottish plain folk until well into the eighteenth century.
The postbellum period of Southern history witnessed a gradual, but inexorable transformation from leisurely plenty to toilsome misery. With the heavy loss of livestock during the Civil War, the disappearance of the open range, and the lack of capital among both freedmen and poor whites, tenancy and sharecropping reduced most whites and blacks to a system of virtual peonage. Burdened by debts, tenants were essentially fixed to the soil, leaving only at the landlord's bidding. By 1930, only 27 percent of farms in Alabama and Mississippi were operated by their owners.
This newly agriculturalized South was characterized by long work days and declining production. Hog production for instance, fell by 80 percent between 1860 and 1930, while, during the same period, the cotton crop dropped from 83,174,800 lbs. to 51,023,000 lbs. At the same time, poverty and disease sapped the strength of an overburdened and underfed population. Thus, a gigantic trap slowly and inexorably closed upon Southerners, until, by the first third of the twentieth century, almost no one in the once luxuriant region was free.
The U.S. & Mexico: The Drug Connection
“Operation Condor: Mexico's Antidrug Campaign Enters a New Era. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs Vol. 22 No. 3 (August 1980): 345–363.
In the past decade Mexico has become one of the world's largest heroin producers, along with a growing capacity to cultivate, process, ship, and transship vast quantities of other illegal drugs. Drug trafficking in Mexico has grown under the pressures from domestic poverty, enormous profits, and American demand. U.S. officials have long sought to persuade their Mexican counterparts to use herbicides to permanently eliminate some drugs. “Until such time that herbicides were applied on a massive scale against marijuana and opium poppies, they argue, the annual Mexican campaign would prove an exercise in futility.” The Mexicans responded in the fall of 1975 by launching a new campaign called Operation Canador (later called Operation Condor) — an antidrug offensive that included the use of defoliant chemicals.
The Mexican government employed the most modern aerial technology to discover and spray the fields: remote sensors, multispectral and infrared photography, over 40 aircraft (most of which were provided by the U.S.) and even spy satellites. To combat drug-related corruption involving military officers, politicians, and judges the government began a new policy of constantly rotating commanders and officers to remove the temptation of becoming involved in the multimillion dollar drug business.
The first year of the campaign was relatively successful. Yet despite impressive results, it revealed only the tip of a massive opium/heroin iceberg located in the triangulo critico — the northwestern states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The extent of the drug production in the triangle surpassed estimates: more opium plots, more processing laboratories, more weapons, more desparate campesinos, more corruption, more lawlessness, more money.
The eradication process began with high level multispectral reconnaisance photographs which revealed the numerous marijuana and opium plots. Following confirmation by low-level flights, the opium fields were sprayed by helicopter with 2 & 4-D, the marijuana plots with Gramoxone. Squads of soldiers were then ferried in by helicopter to secure the area and destroy any surviving plants. The process often proved extremely hazardous for pilot, soldier, and campesino.
Pilots flying at low-level often encountered heavy ground fire; others were killed when their helicopter blades struck well hidden cables strung between hill-sides. Many soldiers were killed leaving their helicopters when the campesinos defended their plots instead of hiding or replanting their fields as soon as the soldiers departed.
The government antidrug project has brought economic disaster to the agrarian society. Rendered unable to survive off the land, desperate campesinos are flooding the cities and streaming across the U.S. border as illegal immigrants. The army's efforts to pacify the country-side has been difficult and controversial; however, the restoration of law and order has had some success. During 1976 there were 2–3 drug related homicides daily in parts of the triangle. Following a year of martial law, the figure has been reduced to one killing every 3 days.
The impact of Operation Condor on the U.S. drug scene has been far-reaching. The percentage of the U.S. heroin market captured by “Mexican brown” has declined from 85% in 1974 to 50% in 1978. Deaths resulting from heroin overdose dropped 80% from 1976 to 1979.
Craig concludes by speculating as to why Mexico finally opted for the extensive use of herbicides and the massive military presence in eliminating its drug market. First, government officials were very embarrassed by the fact that Mexico has become a major source of heroin. Not only was Mexico's international image tarnished, but increased domestic drug use was becoming a major concern.
Second, the entire revitalized campaign was inexorably linked with Mexico-U.S. relations. Vast quantities of oil not-withstanding, friendly relations with Washington are politically and economically crucial to Mexico City. When Mexico replaced Turkey as the prime source of heroin for the U.S. market in the early 1970s, narcotics became a priority target for American diplomats in Mexico City.
Perhaps the more decisive factor in the minds of Mexican officials was the possibility that drugs would produce internal chaos and pose a serious threat to regional stability. The components—increasingly more violent defiance of Mexican law and authority, the infusion of enormous sums of money poured into rural areas that came to dominant economies and politics, and these combined trends breeding possible rural guerrilla movements—made local and regional governments increasingly insecure.
International and internal concerns, especially U.S. pressure, led to the creation of Operation Condor and its continued existence to rid Mexico of illegal drug production and export.
Political Violence in Guatemala
“A Guatemalan Nightmare: Levels of Political Violence, 1966–1972.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 22 (May 1980): 195–225.
The origins of political violence in the Central American state of Guatemala lie in a tradition of repression of rural labor dating back to the Spanish colonial era. Guatemala moved toward mid-twentieth century with a well-entrenched pattern of public and private violence to ensure conformity of workers with the rigid central government controlling the political and economic order.
The period beginning with the over-throw of dictator Jorge Ubico in 1944 brought dramatic changes in that order, leading to the contemporary political violence which now characterizes Guatemalan society. Democratization under the administrations of Juan Jose Arevalo (1944–1950) and Jacobo Arbenz (1950–54) encouraged redistributive policies, bringing campesinos and industrial workers previously unknown economic and political power. The resultant pressures struck hard at the local business and landed elites, at such U.S. interests as United Fruit, at the “containment” orientation of U.S. cold war foreign policy, and at Guatemala's neighboring dictatorships.
By 1954 conservative forces had rallied (with the support of the United States, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador) and the acquiescent army of Guatemala permitted the “liberators” to oust Arbenz. Among the techniques both government and others employed to dismantle the earlier revolution's programs were torture, beatings, imprisonment, and murder of labor leaders.
Guatemalan society had become increasingly split between bitterly opposed segments favoring either progressive reform or conservative reaction. Frightened conservatives began to take matters in their own hands after the liberal Julio Montenegro was elected president in 1966. Right wing “death squads” were formed to terrorize any targets associated with the left or with reform. With the beginning of right wing terror, violence on both sides quickly escalated to horrific proportions.
Booth explores two structural theories in analyzing the causes of such widespread social violence. The first theory suggests that extensive or abrupt social change causes violence. The rapid modification of economic structures—of patterns of exchange, employment relationships, values of goods and services—and the shifting of traditional sources of social control instigate and escalate violent clashes within a society. Thus, the more intense and rapid the social change, the greater the violence.
The second structural theory focuses on the strength of the contending parties as the criteria of violence. Conflict would be most intense when the groups are approximately equal in strength.
Through his extensive research, Booth has concluded that the conflict in Guatemala has been most intense where the two hostile partisan poles have claimed fairly similar strength and electoral support. Unfortunately, lasting peace will probably elude Guatemala, as nearly four progressively more violent decades may have caused irreparable tears in the Guatemalan social fabric.
The Monroe Doctrine & National Policy
“The Monroe Doctrine: Domestic Politics or National Decision?” Diplomatic History 5 (Winter 1981): 53–70.
With the publication in 1949 of Samuel Flagg Bemis' John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy, it seemed that all possible controversies concerning the origins of the Monroe Doctrine had been resolved. After close examination of the Adams family papers, Bemis concluded that the declaration of December of 1823 was the joint work of President Adams and Secretary of State Monroe, motivated by the desire to further the international interests of the fledging American republic. He also shared Perkins's view that the rejection of the British proposal for a joint policy statement stemmed from national and international objectives shared by both the president and his advisors.
Recently, however, Ernest R. May has challenged this view in his book The Making of the Monroe Doctrine. May wants to understand the motives behind the American decision to reject a joint statement with the British. He contends that the reaction of the president and his cabinet was shaped by the domestic political interests of the participants, especially those of three active candidates for the presidency: Secretary of State Adams, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. May argues that American officials knew that foreign intervention in Latin America was unlikely. As a result, they felt confident that they could trumpet their republicanism in this official statement and do little injury to the interests of the country.
Prof. Ammon reexamines the evidence provided by the Adams papers to ascertain whether May's contentions are well-founded. He concludes that May bases his ideas on circumstantial evidence but that the hard evidence of the papers supports the rival position taken by Bemis and Perkins.
Ammon finds that scanty and contradictory American intelligence reports made intervention in Latin America by the French or Spanish seem a distinct possibility. Thus, the American president and many of his advisors believed that the declaration was a response to an actual threat. Furthermore, the refusal to accept a joint statement with the British was most likely motivated by English reluctance to recognize the new revolutionary republics of Latin America, not by any fear of alienating an anti-British electorate. Monroe's characteristic staunchness in defending unpopular principles (as in the debate over Indian rights) does not suggest expediency.
Finally, Ammon points out that Adams' usual paranoia concerning the motives of political enemies appears only rarely in his description of events leading up to Monroe's statement. While he expresses contempt for the crass opportunism of Secretary of State Crawford, he does not voice the slightest suspicion of Calhoun, another political rival.
This evidence suggests that the Monroe Doctrine resulted essentially from considerations of national policy rather than domestic political struggles.
Imperialism's Cost in Human Suffering
“The Human Cost of Imperial Defence in the Early Victorian Age.” Victorian Studies 24 (Autumn 1980): 7–32.
On the balance sheet of British imperialism, during the Victorian era, the debit side was heavily weighted by the sacrifice of the common soldier, not only of those killed in action, but of the many thousands more ravaged by disease, drunkenness, bad food, and squalid living quarters. “The story of Britain's imperial legions,” writes Prof. Burroughs, “is...as much a record of callous indifference to human suffering, incompetence in high places, and the wanton of expendable cannon fodder as of bravery and honor, glory and self-sacrifice.” The apathy and neglect so often shown by British senior officers toward the health and welfare of the common recruit found at least partial justification in the belief that the rank and file consisted in the main of shiftless, dissipated, and brutish ne'er-do-wells. Indulgent treatment of such ruffians seemed wholly inappropriate, even dangerous. Nonetheless, in the years after Waterloo, a more generous, humane view was espoused by reformists, as well as many civilian administrators at the War Office.
This enlightened approach was noticeably accentuated once Henry George Grey, Lord Howick, assumed office as secretary of war in April 1835. Through a wide range of reforms (good conduct pay, savings banks, libraries, improvements in rations and barrack accomodations, etc.), Howick attempted to better the conditions of army life for the ordinary life for the ordinary soldier. His campaign against death and sickness among troops at foreign stations was largely inspired by the statistical studies of army medical returns carried out in 1836 by Dr. Henry Marshall and Lieutenant Alexander Tulloch.
With the rapid expansion of the Empire, infantrymen posted overseas could count on an absence from home of at least 10 or 13 years at a stretch, and closer to 20 years if destined for India. At the end of a tour of duty, soldiers would be fortunate if they spent 4 years in Britain before being sent abroad once again. The prospect of nearly perpetual exile adversely affected morale and health, particularly among those unlucky enough to be ordered to tropical stations.
According to figures compiled by Lieutenant Tulloch, the annual mortality rate among civilians for military age in Britain stood at 11.5 per thousand. On foreign duty, however, British troops suffered considerably higher death rates: 85 per thousand in the Windward and Leeward Islands, 483 per thousand in Sierra Leone, and 668 per thousand at the Gold Coast (the highest in the Empire) where the evils of the environment were aggravated by an unbridled intemperance and a frenzied despair verging on madness.
Tulloch studies into the origins of diseases established a connection between the impoverished diet of the infantrymen (with its heavy emphasis on salt meats) and the incidence of digestive ailments, such as endemic dysentery. Reports by other investigators highlighted overcrowding in ramshackled barracks where space allocated for each soldier at times did not exceed 22 to 23 inches across. In such crowded conditions, catarrhal infections and lung diseases abounded.
On the strength of this evidence, Lord Howick argued to budget-minded M.P.s and senior officers that a false economy prevailed in British military policy. The cost of erecting sound, airy barracks, of providing a constant supply of fresh meat and vegetables, as well as allowing shorter tours of foreign duty would have been far more economical than continued expeditures for recruiting, training, and transporting reliefs from Britain to replace condition-caused casualties.
Unfortunately for the welfare of the common soldier, Lord Howick could convince neither Parliament nor his cabinet colleagues of the wisdom of such radical prescriptions. It would take the harrowing debacle of the Crimean War, not the statistical revelations of Tulloch, to ensure that many of Lord Howick's proposed reforms would finally be implemented.
The Strategy and Logistics of Empire
“Technology and Imperialism: A Case Study of the Victorian Army in Africa.” Victorian Studies 24 (Autumn 1980): 83–104.
Writing in 1902, shortly after the early disasters of the South African War, Leopold Amery opened The Times History of the War in South Africa with an oft quoted indictment of the Victorian army. It was less a fighting force, he wrote, than an institution for elaborate pageantry and display. For two generations, Amery's criticisms and those of other contemporary proponents of reform have tended to color the lens through which historians view the Victorian army. In his paper, Prof. Bailes proposes a somewhat different view. Examining the conduct of two contrasting small wars (the Zulu War of 1879 and the Egyptian expedition of 1882), he argues that, despite the constraint under which the soldiers acted and the formidable logistical problems they faced, the Victorian army could be a highly effective and economical instrument of imperialism.
Among contemporary reformers, the Zulu War was generally regarded as a typical performance of the old school, characterized by ad hoc preparations and inital defeats which were then followed by hasty makeshifts at unwarranted expense. The part played by new-school strategist Sir Garnet Wolseley, who superseded Lord Chelmsford as high commissioner in eastern South Africa in May 1879, was limited to mopping-up operations, the capture of the Zulu king Cetewayo, and the suppression of the Basuto chief Sekukuni. The Egyptian expedition, on the other hand, was viewed as a campaign par excellence of the Wolseley school. To the general public, Wolseley's achievement seemed to be flawless—a repetition on a greater scale of his swift, economical performance on the Red River in 1870 and in Ashanti three years later.
Nonetheless, in comparing the failures and successes in supply, transport, and strategy of both campaigns, Prof. Bailes concludes that the Egyptian and Zulu wars were two of a kind, both sharing the chief features of Victorian warfare. Both were campaigns against distance and natural obstacles more than against man. In both we see organizations created for the moment and the deficiencies of the home contingents rectified by a variety of external assistance (native recruits, etc.). These operations also illustrate the gradual improvement in the imperial system of supply for expeditionary forces. They directly contributed, for example, to the formation of the Army Service Corps, a wholly military body established to conduct all executive duties of supply and transport.
The defects of the Victorian military system are clear enough from the history of both wars. One major weakness was that military reserves could be called out only by Parliament in the event of a national emergency. Thus, minor expeditions had to be provided for by various expedients: by volunteers called upon from regular and reserve units, by reducing standing garrisons, or by drawing upon the Indian army—in other words, by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Reformers continually pleaded for legislation to allow partial muster of the reserves whenever a home contingent was sent abroad. Until 1898, the reluctance of politicians to contemplate such a measure proved insurmountable. In that year, a new act allowed 5,000 reservists voluntarily to render themselves liable, in return for a small remuneration, to twelve months service in any expeditionary force.
Despite this belated and insufficient recognition of the needs of colonial campaigning, the Victorian army still faced formidable logistical and economic problems, which required continual improvisions in war. Nonetheless, Prof. Bailes concludes, Victorian soldiers could be quite capable of exploiting with intelligence and foresight their local resources and of discharging swiftly and effectively the aims of policy. After all, one final resemblance between the Zulu and Egyptian operations was that they were both victories for the British army and for the empire.
Presidential Power vs. the Press
“Presidents, Power, and the Press.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 10 (Summer 1980): 416–426.
In the continuing contest for power between the American press and the executive branch of government, the president would seem to enjoy distinct advantages over his journalistic adversaries. With a large staff of media manipulators, an ability to grant, limit, or deny access to reporters, powers of secrecy, carefully timed press releases, and his domination of news conferences, the president wields an impressive array of weapons which are uniquely his own.
Nevertheless, Profs. Paletz and Entman view these advantages as distinctly limited. Ultimately, the media succeed in undermining the chief executive's power. In their article, Paletz and Entman trace the broad outlines of this undermining process.
Given their political and propaganda advantages, presidents might be expected to reign from the heights of public enthusiasm, party acclaim, and legislative subservience. In actuality, presidential power slowly erodes under the influence of four factors.
First of all, presidents are frequently bedeviled by untoward events which they can do little or nothing to control—the Scylla of inflation and the Charybdis of unemployment, hostages in Iran, disastrous undertakings such as Vietnam or Watergate, etc. In the face of such intractable situations, a president will inevitably appear impotent.
These problems will be augmented by institutional strains inherent in the American political system. Every president suffers from his constant and intermittent critics and antagonists: leaders of the opposition party, ambitious rivals in his own party, and interest group leaders. These explicit or covert enemies will seize upon and magnify any presidential ineptitude.
Thirdly, a president may never acquire the knack of media management or may develop it in one office and lose it in another. Journalists treat different political institutions and their members in varying ways. President Johnson, for example, mistakenly expected the same intimate relationship with White House reporters as he had enjoyed with Congressional journalists when he was Senate majority leader. He never completely managed the transition from cloister to fish bowl.
Lastly, while the president's aura of authority can lend prestige to any policy he endorses, much of this influence is reduced when journalists report on presidential forays into opinion management. These reports strip away the aura by placing the president's actions firmly in the context of the political. As a result, he is viewed, not as a special leader, but as just another politician seeking to retain and enhance his power.
During the Carter administration, the euphoric honeymoon period engineered by the press and the government's own media wizards led inevitably to a chorus of dismay and disillusion when the president's performance fell short of overblown expectations. The lowering of living standards, the raising of oil prices, and rampant inflation highlighted Carter's supposed incompetence.
Efforts by advertising specialist Gerald Rafshoon to shore up decling Carter standings in opinion polls were greeted by headlines such as “Adman Called in to Polish Carter's Tarnished Image.” After initial “patriotic” support for Carter's handling of the Iran hostage situation, the press began to depict the predicament (somewhat simplemindedly) as proof of a world-wide decline of American power.
Profs. Paletz and Entman regard this cyclical sabotage of U.S. presidents as largely unintentional. They feel, however, that this process threatens the paralysis of the innovative capacities of the presidency, which they believe can achieve domestic reforms against the forces of private interests.
Why not share Literature of Liberty with a
|218 Goldwin Smith||$13.00/individuals|
|Ithaca NY 14853||$ 4.00/single issue|