Is Iraq really Cuba?
March 6, 2005 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Freedom's Defenders or Politicians' Pawns? No pretense of protecting Americans’ freedom went into the decision to enter into the Spanish-American War. It was out-and-out imperialism and nothing more. Veterans of that war may have helped to liberate Cuba , Guam , Puerto Rico , and the Philippines from Spanish rule; but those same veterans then turned around and rammed the jackboot of the U. S. military into the faces of those they had just liberated. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans and Filipinos, who had thought they were being freed only to find out they had merely exchanged one colonial master for another, were killed in their own independence-from-Uncle-Sam movements. When they finally did throw off direct U. S. rule, they were then saddled with dictators of Uncle Sam’s choosing. No credit for the defense of Americans’ freedom can be granted to veterans of this war. Compare to this: Gunning For Saddam We report, you decide indeed...
posted by Elim (23 comments total)
Ahh, good old Strike the Root.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:10 AM on March 7, 2005

I don't know if Iraq will be another Cuba. Probably in twenty-thirty years, as a result of installing a brutal and vicious secret police in the name of "security", just like we did with Savak in Shah-era Iran. Our leadership hasn't learned from mistakes made so far, so why stop now.

There is discussion, however, that Venezuela shares a number of similarities with Cuba, if only with respect to its unwillingness to be Bush's puppet.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:17 AM on March 7, 2005

You know, I don't know how I feel about this comparison. What happened to "Support Our Troops?" What, do you hate America, now? Anyone who doesn't support our troops hates America, so anyone who doesn't support Fidel... Castro... hates....

never mind.
posted by shmegegge at 1:06 AM on March 7, 2005

You know, this is the problem with "Support our troops." They are just regular folks caught up in something much bigger than themselves, so of course they deserve "support," whatever that means.

But at the same time, I always hear the refrain "the troops are over in Iraq defending our freedoms ..." Um, no, they're not. It's not exactly clear why they are over there in Iraq, but "defending our freedom" is not one of the reasons. They MAY be "defending our economic interests," which is very tangentially related to "defending our freedom," but even that one is sketchy.

Unfortunately, the folks I encounter in the "support our troops" crowd actually mean "don't you fucking dare criticize what is happening in Iraq, or Bush, you motherfucker" most of the time.

But asking whether or not our war over there is just is in no way a lack of support for the troops.
posted by teece at 1:46 AM on March 7, 2005

Dean, why do you hate freedom?

People have to choose to be free, not get Brand America (a completely rebranded version of freedom, doesn't taste like the real thing™) forced down their throats.
posted by twistedonion at 1:51 AM on March 7, 2005

If I'm not mistaken, the construction, "Why do you hate [whatever]?" is now always intended as irony, at least here on MeFi. Even those who post here in support of Bush & his policies never ask the question seriously. It has also been overused in that way, to the point of being pointless.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:37 AM on March 7, 2005

Overused in the ironic way, I mean.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 AM on March 7, 2005

The confederate soldiers were defending freedom? Hawaiians apparently are not important American's? The Japanese, who almost beat the Pacific Fleet, were no threat to America? The first link seems a bit uhm....crazy?
posted by srboisvert at 4:56 AM on March 7, 2005


Hmmm...I wonder if that apostrophe snuck in their to denote imperialism?
posted by srboisvert at 5:00 AM on March 7, 2005

Yeah, the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl was not as inappropriate as that guy made it out to be. Granted, the US provoked the attack by the oil embargo, but it is asinine to say that the US government should have not responded.

He also seems to forget that on December 7th, the Japanese also attacked Wake Island, the Philippines, Midway Island, Guam, Hong Kong, and Malaya (at least, that's what the president said).

U. S. Americans were no more threatened by the Japanese and the Germans than they were by the Peruvians.

posted by Tullius at 5:37 AM on March 7, 2005

Granted, the US provoked the attack by the oil embargo

So- when OPEC embargoed us in '73, that would have been attack worthy provocation?

(I kid, I kid!)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:44 AM on March 7, 2005

Clearly it was, it just took us awhile to get around to it...
posted by Tullius at 5:57 AM on March 7, 2005

Finally, a highly devout Christian, McKinley claimed to have been commanded in a dream to send the country to war

the more things change...
posted by brucec at 6:40 AM on March 7, 2005

more on this, from Kos (and Twain): "You, my imperialistic friends, have had your ideals and sentimentalities. One is that the flag shall never be hauled down where it has once floated. Another is that you will not talk or reason with people with arms in their hand. Another is that sovereignty over an unwilling people may be bought with gold. And another is that sovereignty may be got by force of arms...

"What as been the practical statesmanship which comes from your ideals and sentimentalities? You have wasted six hundred millions of treasure. You have sacrificed nearly ten thousand American lives, the flower of our youth. You have devastated provinces. You have slain uncounted thousands of the people you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentrations camps. Your generals are coming home from their harvest, bringing their sheaves with them, in the shape of other thousands of sick and wounded and insane..."

And then there were those on the other side of the 'debate', including Republican President Teddy Roosevelt ('cause Teddy just sounds do much more folksy and manly than Theodore... I wonder what his ranch was like?). Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge (hey, didn't I just read somewhere that Indiana is strongly pro Bush in the polls?) told the Senate that God "...has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America.... The Philippines are ours forever. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world."

There are way way too many parallels.

(and thanks to the_savage_mind from this thread)
posted by amberglow at 6:41 AM on March 7, 2005

Hawaiians apparently are not important American's?

Well, technically speaking, Hawaiians - native Hawaiians, anyway - were not Americans at all on the morning of December 7, 1941. They were residents of a territory that had been annexed by the US in 1898 under the administration of the avowedly imperialist William McKinley, and were ruled autocratically by a governor appointed by Washington (as were the islands' many Chinese and Japanese plantation workers). So Pearl Harbor was an attack on an American military installation on colonial soil - analogous to an attack on the "Green Zone" in Baghdad - which is a far cry from an attack on the freedoms of its people, as even FDR acknowledges in his "Day of Infamy" speech, which mentions only "American naval and military forces" and "American lives."

Which brings us back to the point of the linked article, which is that America has pretty much never gone to war to defend the rights and freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the United States themselves on their own soil.
posted by gompa at 10:08 AM on March 7, 2005

When I was a child, a veteran of the Spanish-American War still lived in my hometown. But then the last veteran of the Civil War died in my lifetime, too. A century ago is always still within the memory of some alive.
posted by y2karl at 10:32 AM on March 7, 2005

"pretty much never gone to war to defend the rights and freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the United States themselves on their own soil"
- I dunno. I'd call Rosa Parks & MLK, etc. etc. war vets. Of course it was against the government, but then isn't it always?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:50 PM on March 7, 2005

Way too much revisionist "history". The claim that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in response to an oil embargo ignores a lot of other world events between the end of WWI and the start of WWII. People should try to locate information that has reports and analysis from the time that events took place instead of what's been filtered by contemporary writers. I've got a full run of Fortune magazines from 1930 that have articles that shed some light on US/Japan relations. The mags are of course biased and a far from complete view but they are informative.

A group of newspapers from SF CA (Call, Examiner & Chronical) show how the news and peoples opinions were manipulated in 1898. One of the first hand reports in those papers was sardonically amusing. A US Navy warship steamed in to Guam's harbor, shelled the fort and then docked to demand the surrender of the Spanish Governor. The Governor came down to the dock and appologised that his troops weren't able to return their salute due to a lack of gun powder for the forts guns. He was dumfounded at the demand for surrender; he hadn't received word that his country and the US were at war.

Guam was taken by the Japanese on Dec. 8th, 1941. It's on the other side of the IDL.

Hafa Adai
posted by X4ster at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2005

People should try to locate information that has reports and analysis from the time that events took place instead of what's been filtered by contemporary writers.

I agree there's lot's of bad revisionist history out there, but why should analysis and commentary about the state of affairs from the past be any more reliable than analysis and commentary about the state of affairs from the present day (you even go on to talk about how the popular press manipulated people's opinions in 1898)? Do you trust most of the junk that passes for analysis today? It's probably just safest to regard any kind of analysis with a healthy dose of skepticism, regardless of when it was produced. My bet is you can find just as many conflicting versions of the story from the time of Pearl Harbor as you can find now. It's a cliche, but the winners really do get to write the history books.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:25 PM on March 7, 2005

I think one of the big questions about Pearl Harbour is if the American government suspected the attack was coming and did nothing to avoid damage, specifically so they'd have a lot of political credit to spend on war. If you'll recall, 9/11 did something spectacular for getting people behind the president, even though both situations were quite dissimilar.

If I recall correctly, before American involvement in both world wars, the US was helping out one particular side, and you know how it goes. People get mad. It's because everyone in a war is armed. They just start shooting and shit.

Sorry, that was a vague bit of history, but I've been studying the Holy Roman Empire of late, and that really doesn't help me wtih this thread.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 2:59 PM on March 7, 2005

all-seeing eye dog
My comments were written quickly and I concede that you're right to point out that more than one source of information is more reasonable. I agree with you about skepticism, for both current and past reports and analysis. It's a matter of comparing both for me. I read the reports of the day from a viewpoint many years after they took place and like to think that I can read a lot more between the lines of the older stuff. They're really helpful to try to understand attitudes and opinions, and try to understand how some decisions were made.

Kleptophoria, I'm convinced from what I've read that the US feared and suspected that there would be an attack from Japan but completely underestimated Japan and failed to anticipate tactics. And I remain convinced that there was no conspiracy to sacrifice lives to draw the US into either WWII or a war in Iraq. But then again I'm the anti-conspiracy theory guy. (don't get me started on JFK) Not sure what you mean by 'the US was helping out one particular side'. It's true that the US was helping the UK well before its involvement in WWI & WWII. The US also engaged in trade with Germany and Japan for years before the war.
posted by X4ster at 3:41 PM on March 7, 2005

I'm just saying that Hawaii was a good place to get bombed while assisting enemies of Japan. That should be understandable considering historically any number of nations has been willing to attack people harbouring and assisting their enemies.

Also, America tended to be fairly isolationist, so you need to get something good to get the population excited.

And I wouldn't put it past the US to sacrifice lives to further political gains, especially considering, well, they've consistently done it over the years.

I don't dwell too much on this particular theory, since I figure it was only a matter of time before the US went to war against Japan, and I'm sure the Americans were expecting it.

(Let's make it clear that I don't think the US caused 9/11, I'm just implying that Bush and Co. were probably pretty happy to have that extra political capital.)
posted by Kleptophoria! at 4:39 PM on March 7, 2005

I oppose the idea that fighting the Germans and Japanese had nothing to do with defending our freedom. To some degree this was psychological of course. You are fighting fascism and racism, meanwhile on the home front people were trying out communism and fascism and other 'isms' after the great depression and really you can't espouse something at home our boys are dying for overseas without getting a thumping.
And I think desegregation in the military aided the movement at home a bit (might have hurt it a bit too, but I suspect it helped it more.)

Other than that, we do mostly have to fight our own government to get freedom out of it.
The bait and switch is it's always some other country/group trying to take it away and we gotta go fight them before they do.
Protection rackets are older than prostitution.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:22 PM on March 7, 2005

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