One of the first things the PT government did when it took office in 2003, after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won the presidency, was to create a ‘dirty list’ of hundreds of companies and individual employers who were investigated by labor prosecutors and found to be using slaves.
Wilson won re-election in 1916, his campaign running on the slogan, ‘He kept us out of war.’ But he could then betray his anti-war supporters knowing that a rising political coalition – made up, in part, of men looking to redeem a lost war by finding new wars to fight – had his back.
The CIA’s always-useful World Fact book says that a staggering 6.3 million Colombians have been internally displaced (IDP) since 1985, with ‘about 300,000 new IDPs each year since 2000,’ the year Bill Clinton enacted Plan Colombia. Added up, that’s 2.4 million people during Clinton’s eight-year presidency.
The first mention of a ‘ranger’ is as early as 1622, during the 1622 Powhatan rebellion, a near-successful effort to drive the British out of what is now Virginia.
In the early 1800s, both Spain and Portugal disseminated the smallpox vaccine throughout the Americas via the ‘arm to arm of the blacks,’ that is, enslaved Africans and African-Americans, often children, who were being moved along slave routes as cargo from one city to another to be sold.
Beyond institutional amnesia, a rejection of causal analysis is the existential rock on which American Exceptionalism sits. The United States unique sense of itself depends on an ambiguous relationship to the past. History is affirmed, since it is America’s unprecedented historical success that justifies the exceptionalism.
Kissinger celebrants inevitably point to two things to justify their admiration: an opening to China – ‘rapprochement’ – and improved relations with the Soviet Union – detente – which included SALT, a historic arms-limitation treaty.
‘Toughness’ and ‘credibility’ are leitmotifs that run through both Trumpian and Kissingerian deal-making. Both men insist that war and diplomacy are inseparable and that, to be effective, diplomats need to be able to wield threats and offer incentives in equal, unrestricted measure.
America is exceptional, it is asserted, because, with the exception of the abolition of slavery, it has been able to extend the promise of liberal reform mostly peacefully, through its democratic institutions.
There was a brief moment, after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, when even Bill Clinton recognized what had been done to Haiti in the name of ‘free trade’: the destruction of local markets and rice production.