Historic.ly essay notes pt 2

When reading up on the history of the interventions in Russia it is remarkable at the similar foreign policy goals and ploys that still are being used today. The United States is a far younger country than many others and well, it was only an unchallenged empire for a miniscule portion of that time. Arguably similar justifications were given by all great powers. One of the things most people who read about politics understand is that terms and systems of government are very fluid. For instance, fascism is actually a more nebulous term than it might appear. The German fascism, as imagined by Hitler’s Nazi party was very different to Mussolini’s Italian version. The culture and history of the country in question, and the national character would allow it to be unique. Folks are quick to make equivalence between the authoritarian governments of Stalin and Hitler. Nobody ever takes the time to figure out the context of the world at the time of those regimes. Politics requires that people dumb down the real nuances of the real world. This is why lies can often be useful because they require no effort to spout many times. If you care about truth and history, then you cannot in good conscience do that. The manner in which American foreign policy has remained fairly similar is remarkable. However, I will make a few guesses as to why America has managed to remain static in certain ways.

  • The seperation of the Atlantic Ocean and the fact that the last major war on the North American continent was the civil war can certainly make it easier to do interventions abroad.
  • The reliance on the managing of public opinion as opposed to other forms of government control.
  • The founding of this country by businessmen and landowners is no small factor. Please realize that this is similar to a rich merchant founding their own nation and using other people to win their independence. All the major powers attempted to use the North American continent for their needs. Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and France were active on land grabbing before the British were.
  • We learned from our former King’s country in that, the  British and French were both active in supporting our enemies in various wars, including the French-Indian war and the war of 1812.

Because of my readings I have come to the conclusion that Woodrow Wilson’s administration set the stage for future types of intervention by organizations like the CIA. Wilson valued order and was wary of public opinion but he was also very anti-socialist and of course hated the Bolsheviks. He conflated socialism with anti-Americanism. Do these things sound familiar? He even came to the conclusion that he would rather have a strongman in power to quell rebellion in order to re establish order. Of course they had to be open to United States interests. Now he was willing to be sneaky and use both the United States embassy and the two other interested powers, Britain and France(the Allies) to get what they wanted. The other excuses for intervention, that they wanted to eliminate Germany as  major threat, while balancing the supposed good will towards the United States of the Russian people, were all just formalities. Wilson was willing to make sacrifices in his principles if it meant satisfying his own base moral principles, that he felt were most American. The Puritan work ethic and his own determination that certain, better men were more worthy, of governing, were more important in the end. All of the major changes in this era that were, for the betterment of women for example, like suffrage, were only there in order to mollify the left who had far more influence than we do today. The mere presence of the Soviet Union was enough to challenge the United States’s central tenants. Disgust with totalitarianism wasn’t the reason that socialism or communism were anthathema to the government of the United States. They thought that the very notion of true democracy was immoral. The ideas behind socialism and communism was not only immoral but irrational. The central narratives the United States constructed for itself, were more important then actual human lives. But Wilson understood how the ideas would appeal to many Americans. This is why he big on propaganda and even used his agents to spread propaganda. His people would be given autonomy to cause chaos in order to divide the Russian people. In Russia, during the the revolution and even afterwards, had many different factions attempting to disrupt the Bolshevik government. The reason that it was able to be consistant was because of the United States and the Allies were able to secure funding to always have somebody trying to prevent the socialist experiment from working. It is true that many of these experiments turned into authoritarians. For the sake of protecting the socialist experiment and in reaction to unwavering hostility from a foreign power that wouldn’t be content to simply just see if it was successful on its own merits. This isn’t me saying that authoritarianism is okay. In fact, I hate it. Indeed, the very things the Soviet Union had to do to catch up to the United States, technologically and economically speaking were horrendous. They had to industrialize faster and while under consistent economic, military and diplomatic warfare. This created horrifying consequences but it was only because of the insanity that made it impossible for them to take it slower. The United States for instance, could industrialize with the other major European powers. It didn’t have to worry about a major power, with far more development and other allies, attempting to sabotage you at every conceivable point. The world doesn’t stand still for any system to just test itself without other powers noticing. The changing world means that possibilities change. Capitalism, in many ways, was lucky it had an enemy like the Soviet Union. Without it, the system wouldn’t have been able to course correct slightly in order to prevent it from collapsing. Without the threat, of other economic systems or government systems, and the sheer misery of the Great Depression, I would argue, the United States wouldn’t have been able to avoid turning towards full facism. In order words, capitalism cannot save itself. Socialism, if not intervened in, would definitely work. The different styles of intervention Wilson perfected would inspire people like Alan Foster Dulles and other infamous jerks. The imprisonment of Eugene Debs and the propaganda campaign for the first World War, would be a way of ensuring that the American people wouldn’t be an obstacle to what the men in office felt was best for them. The threat of setting an example, for what could make their lives better, is what the true threat of the Bolsheviks were. The challenge to the status quo was the real insult not the actual crimes against humanity. At least according to the powerful. The powerful, while comfortable, will never be able to help. So make them uncomfortable. It is the only way they will listen. They will be hostile and will show you venom. But power isn’t going to give you anything unless you take it for granted, that they are not your ally. Treat them with contempt if you want. The powerful aren’t powerful because of their moral clarity or their supreme intelligence. They are powerful because they are willing to do what needs to be done to maintain it.

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