The Road to Baghdad begins in El Salvador

I have just begun reading Gred Grandin’s book. It looks very valuable. Here are my notes from the first few pages.

Grandin, Greg. 2006. Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (NY: Metropolitan Books).

2: “Washington’s first attempts, in fact, to restructure another country’s economy took place in the developing world-in Mexico in the years after the American Civil War and in Cuba following the Spanish-American War. “We should do for Europe on a large scale,” remarked the u.s. ambassador to England in 1914, “essentially what we did for Cuba on a small scale and thereby usher in a new era of human history.”

3: “From the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, the U.S. military sharpened its fighting skills and developed its modern-day organizational structure largely in constant conflict with Latin America – in its drive west when it occupied Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century and took more than half of that country’s national territory. And in its push south: by 1930, Washington had sent gunboats into Latin American ports over six thousand times, invaded Cuba, Mexico (again), Guatemala, and Honduras, fought protracted guerrilla wars in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Haiti, annexed Puerto Rico, and taken a piece of Colombia to create both the Panamanian nation and the Panama Canal.”

5: “Reagan’s Central American wars can best be understood as a dress rehearsal for what is going on now in the Middle East. It was in these wars where the coalition made up of neo-conservatives, Christian evangelicals, free marketers, and nationalists that today stands behind George W. Bush’s expansive foreign policy first came together.”

6: “The domestic fight over how to respond to revolutionary nationalism in Central America allowed conservative ideologues to remoralize both American diplomacy and capitalism.”

6-7: “In other words, it was in Central America where the Republican Party first combined the three elements that give today’s imperialism its moral force: punitive idealism, free-market absolutism, and right-wing Christian mobilization. The first justified a belligerent diplomacy not just for the sake of national security but to advance “freedom.” The second sanctified property rights and the unencumbered free market as the moral core of the freedom it was America’s duty to export. The third backed up these ideals with social power, as the Republican Party learned how to channel the passions of its evangelical base into the international arena.”

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