It is amusing to watch the never-ending battle of opinions, often devoid of all but the tiniest sliver of fact, if that, in the political arena in the U.S. and Canada. It is particularly entertaining when observing the scene in the United States where fantasies and off-the-wall ideas seem to be a staple in political discourse between the major parties and groups like the Tea Party.
So much of what is said and taken for gospel by one side or the other appears myopic, as if people only pay attention to those parts of history that they find favourable while ignoring the rest. One might reasonably conclude that many do not pay any attention to history at all, aside from the spin that they pick up, created to push one view or another.
Talk about budgets, debt, deficit or all of the above and each side cherry-picks their facts to blame the other for the problems that we have to deal with. Talk about security, foreign affairs, human rights, you name it; the story is the same. The contrasting views of each side makes one wonder if there aren’t completely separate realities for each. The fact is that neither reality may reflect accurately how our world got to be what it is today.
From my studies, and admittedly in my opinion, what follows is a list of a few things that happened over the past 110 years, in more or less chronological order, that have had a major impact on shaping our world. Though the fault for many of these is shared by a number of countries, the U.S. political parties supporting them are listed to show that everyone’s hands are dirty.
1) The policies that steered the Japanese into a position where they felt that in order to survive as a modern industrial nation they had to go to war with the United States. — Republicans and Democrats
2) The Balfour Declaration (British) and subsequent decisions that allowed Zionists to push the Arabs of Palestine off their land and establish and maintain a Jewish colony in the Levant. — Republicans and Democrats
3) The Treaty of Versailles making Germany the scapegoat for WWI. — Democrats
4) Invading the Soviet Union and occupying parts of it after WWI. — Democrats
5) Aiding Hitler and Mussolini by failing to support the Republicans in Spain, thereby allowing the Fascists to win the civil war. This is the place that Hitler should have been stopped. — Democrats
6) Allowing Churchill’s vision of preserving the empire to prevail over FDR’s of breaking up empires and ending colonialism. — Democrats
7) Taking out the democratically elected government of Iran and replacing it with the monarchy. — Republicans
8) Taking out popular leaders in Latin America and supporting brutal dictators friendly to foreign business interests. — Republicans and Democrats
9) Betraying WWII ally Ho Chi Minh and returning Indo China to France, then aborting the 1954 election on unification of Vietnam, and finally directly intervening in the Vietnam civil war. — Democrats and Republicans
11) Supporting reactionary forces in Afghanistan against the Soviets and a relatively progressive regime. — Democrats and Republicans
12) Setting up ally Saddam Hussein and fighting two wars in Iraq to secure control of Iraqi oil. — Republicans and Democrats
13) Invading Afghanistan and starting another war instead of dealing with the Taliban who were willing to negotiate on Al Qaeda. — Republicans
14) Spending money without raising taxes to cover the cost, especially the huge cost of war. — Everybody
One cannot help but wonder what the world would be like today had the powers behind these decisions made different, more far-sighted choices instead of ones based on protecting national advantage and an economic system built on exploitation. One also wonders what the world could be like tomorrow if society spent more time on examining its history beyond the slogans and abbreviated accountings of the past to understand in more depth the consequences of prior decisions and how many of the problems that we face today are a result of what was done previously.
Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast.