Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Brothers


When we think about contemporary brothers wreaking damage on America it's natural to immediately focus on the John Bircher extremists, David and Charles Koch, the billionaires financing a relentless campaign against American democracy itself. If they're successful, history will remember them as two of the most vile and destructive characters in American history. But this post is about two different brothers from David and Charles and set in a time many DWT readers may not have been following politics or even born yet.

Right now I'm reading two books about characters in American history who, though celebrated by the Establishment, the media and, to a great extent, the public, embody pure, unadulterated evil. One, Angler came out some time ago and recounts how Dick Cheney usurped the presidency for his own sick and twisted vision of America. The other, The Brothers, just came out and it is the story of U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA chief Allen Dulles. We've been looking at what Pulitzer Prize winner Barton Gellman says about Cheney already. Today I'd like to get into a little background on the Dulles brothers based on some of the fascinating information Stephen Kinzer sets the stage with.

Many people who keep track of 20th century history are aware of the murderous roles the Dulles brothers played in shaping post World War II American foreign policy. Our country is still reeling from the results of their horrifying activities in places from Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, the Congo and Cuba. Both men define what it means to be a war criminal. Neither was ever punished and when President Kennedy tried changing the name of Washington's big new international airport to anything other than Dulles, he was so violently assailed by the far right, that he backed down entirely. What most Americans who are even aware of the Dulles brothers' nefarious behavior around the world don't know is why. I certainly never di and I've long ranked them as among the most evil players in U.S. history, right up there with the Confederate traitors who dragged the country into a Civil War and as rotten to the core as Kissinger and, speaking of the devil, Cheney. OK, time for some excerpts from Kinzer. As way of introduction, he states right off the bat that "This story is rich with lessons for the modern era. It is about exceptionalism, the view that the United States is inherently more moral and farther-seeing than other countries and therefor may behave in ways that others should not. It also addresses the belief that because of its immense power, the United States can not only topple governments but guide the course of history. To these widely held convictions, the Dulles brothers added two others, both bred into them over the years. One was missionary Christianity, which tells believers that they understand eternal truths and have an obligation to convert the unenlightened. Alongside it was the presumption that protecting the right of large American corporations to operate freely in the world is good for everyone."

Aside from a very strict Christian missionary-oriented father, the brothers' two biggest influences were an uncle and a grandfather who were both secretaries of state, both of whom helped drive home a belief that "America's destiny was to go forth and raise up the world's benighted massed" by activities, it turns out, such as toppling Iranian and Guatemalen democracies and replacing them with brutal military dictatorships, as well as assassinating the Congo's first prime minister and sending that country spiraling into a half a century of instability, turmoil, human and ecological degradation and genocide.

Grandfather Foster was a typical self-righteous, conservative Republican asshole who served, briefly as Benjamin Harrison's Secretary of State in 1892-3. He inculcated his two grandsons with the idea that America was "a nation blessed by Providence, powerful to the point of invincibility, whose people were destined to spread, civilize and command. From him they also learned how profitable it can be to ingratiate oneself with men of wealth and influence." Gramps may well have been the nation's first corporate and international lobbyist. But he's better known for his singular accomplishment as Secretary of State. In 1893 he helped direct the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and that country's annexation by the United States with the help of the U.S. military. He was the first American secretary of state to participate in the overthrown of a foreign government. His grandson, John Foster, put him to shame with his string of "accomplishments."

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home