The men and women who were shipped in from Europe since then have been nostalgised and heroised as refugees who were looking for a country that offered them political, religious and economic freedom (at that time, freedom of speech was not considered more important than food, and no one had to be ashamed of being an economic refugee). And while this is true about a good deal of the immigrants, the other part isn’t mentioned at all - lawless adventurers, criminals on the run, convicted felons (many mass murderers and serial killers were given the choice between the old gallows and the New World, and not all of them picked the rope) and religious fanatics (foremost the Puritans and the Pilgrims who did happen to be persecuted, but who insisted on burning witches and finishing off all those of other beliefs and races themselves).
The extent of religious fanaticism became obvious in 1692 in the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts. Three years previously, Rev Cotton Mather of Boston had published a pamphlet about witchcraft in which he detailed the persecution and execution of an alleged witch in his parish which caused a widespread hysteria. Quarrelling neighbours in Salem started accusing each other of sending their spectres to afflict and torment them; hundreds were accused, and with the advice of Rev Mather on the use of ‘spectral evidence’, thirty persons were convicted; nineteen of them were hanged while one was crushed to death. Five more died in prison, including two infants.
(Salem was also the arena for the – so far – last court case of witchcraft in the US in 1878. The cult with the oxymoronic name Christian Science had just emerged, and one follower accused another of mesmerising her. The court dismissed the case, pointing out that imprisoning him wouldn’t prevent the accused from exerting mental control over her.)
There was land for every European at the Frontier - the most Western line beyond which no land had been claimed yet. All one had to do was go there, stake the claim and get rid of the Indians.
Of course, as in any other colony, it was also tried to enslave them. But Indians don’t last long in captivity, so African slaves were imported and the Indians exterminated.
The growing population of the East coast kept pushing northwards, and the British colonies clashed with the French territories in the North which resulted in the French and Indian War, 1754-1763 (the American side of the Seven Years’ War). For their battles, both parties repeatedly allied themselves with Indian tribes whom they killed after the conflicts.
Most history books render the impression that the random killing of unarmed civilians and the dismembering and mutilating of dead and living children, men and women was the exception. It wasn’t.
The genocide of the Indians lasted for over 300 years. Over this period, they have been pushed westwards until no West was left, into ‘reservations’ that were guaranteed to remain theirs (yep, we know what to think of American guarantees).
After President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, he declared the Mississippi to be the Permanent Indian Frontier which would forever separate the Europeans in the East from the Indians in the West. Of course the only permanent aspect about it was that the Frontier was permanently moved westwards until it disappeared in the Pacific in 1903 with the removal of a Cupeno tribe from their homeland in San Diego County.
There are many supposedly amusing stories about Indians selling land for glass beads and the like. According to British (and later American) law these people were considered aliens (!!!) - they had no citizenship and therefore couldn’t own property in the first place. Apart from that, if someone put a gun to your head and asked you to sell your Rolex for a dime, what would you do?
Many governments paid a reward for every killed Indian (usually the reward for adult males was higher than for children and women). Of course they demanded proof, and some governors got so fed up with the Indian corpses in their offices that they declared their scalps to be sufficient proof. (A handful of Indians copied this habit and created the myth of the savage scalp-hunting Indian.)
Apart from the old shotgun, the Americans used other methods as well, such as providing them with alcohol, knowing it would kill them. One of the most gruesome was to appear charitable and provide them with blankets they had infected with smallpox.
(Some sources contend that the infections were unintentional. This is not the case. William Trent, commander of the local militia at Fort Pitt, wrote in his journal during the 1763 siege, 'We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect.' – It did.
In the account book of Fort Pitt he entered, ‘To Sundries got to Replace in kind those which were taken from people in the Hospital to Convey the Smallpox to the Indians Viz:
2 Blankets @ 20/ £299 099 0
1 Silk Handkerchef 10/
& 1 linnen do: 3/6 099 1399 6’.
A few weeks later, unaware that someone else had put the same strategy into place and that the smallpox was raging amongst the Indians already, Colonel Henry Bouquet suggested to Lord Jeffrey Amherst, 'I will try to inocculate the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's Method, and hunt them with English Dogs. Supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.' - Amherst replied, 'You will Do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race.')
Louisiana became a state in 1812, Indiana in 1816, Mississippi in 1817 and Illinois in 1818.
Whig Congressman Abraham Lincoln kept bothering the president with a number of spot resolutions in which he damanded information about the exact location ('the spot') where American blood had been spilled on American soil, the claim that had served as the pretext for the war.
Around the same time the United States claimed the area Northwest of the Louisiana purchase up to 54°40' from Great Britain who claimed it for Canada. After the war against Great Britain, the United States themselves had suggested the 49th parallel as the border, but now that was not good enough any more.
And since Polk had expanded the US territory so far into the South, the Northerners expected him to put the same effort into Northern expansion. Their slogan was ‘54°40 or fight!’ (short, aggressive, catchy and unimaginative - you can almost see the cheerleaders).
However, years of negotiations and joint government in Oregon Country didn’t bear any fruit, and in 1846 the Oregon Treaty was signed, setting the border at 49°, with the exception of Vacouver Island which remained British.
By then slavery had become a major issue. Freed slaves started moving into the few free states that would allow them in, but had no rights and couldn’t find work. The Northern Americans were annoyed that they had to put up with them and feared that over time their cities would be flooded with Afro-Americans. The Southerners, on the other hand, were worried that some day slavery might be abolished due to these fears - after all, their wealth depended entirely on slave labour on their cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations.
Most Northern states didn’t allow slavery, and the government itself put restrictions on it - since 1808 the import of new slaves from Africa was illegal, and no new state North of Arkansas (36°30', with the exception of Missouri) or in the yet unorganised territories in the West was allowed to become a slave state (with exceptions, naturally). At the same time the slave states were reassured that slavery would not be abolished in the South, and since 1850 a stricter Fugitive Slave Act forced free states to return escaped slaves to their owners.
For reasons of propaganda or ignorance, all opponents of slavery are referred to as abolitionists today, but there were two distinct groups which opposed slavery for entirely different reasons: one were the abolitionists, a handful of idealists who considered Afro-Americans human beings and demanded equal rights for them. Nobody took those few weirdoes seriously until John Brown tried to organise a slave rebellion in 1859 (and was hanged for it) - this, of course, raised fears that some day a slave rebellion might actually take place.
The second group were the colonizationists. The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, known as the American Colonization Society (ACS), was founded in 1816: they considered all other races inferior (seriously, who the hell could be inferior to a racist?) and were opposed to slavery as it prevented white labourers from getting work; their aim was to rid the United States of all those who weren’t white Protestants. For this purpose they occupied an area in Africa in 1822 and started deporting Afro-Americans to Sierra Leone and what they called Liberia (which, of course, was populated by Africans already, creating tensions that last until the present day).
Some slave owners joined the society as well – of course they didn’t want to abolish slavery, but they wanted to make sure that no free Afro-American would live in the US.
The organisation became very influential; in 1854 they formed the Republican Party, and Abraham Lincoln was their first member to become president.
His opponents tried to discredit him and his party, claiming that he intended to grant Afro-Americans citizenship and equal rights, but Lincoln vehemently denied those allegations, stressing that he was ‘not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office.’
Despite his repeated promise not to abolish slavery, he also stated that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently one half slave and one half free.’ He was sitting on the fence, trying to reassure both sides (and make them vote for him, of course).
Another aspect of the conflict shouldn’t be forgotten: the South was rich and the North comparatively poor, and it was only a matter of time before the government would try to adjust the situation by means of increased taxes on cotton, tobacco, rice and sugar.
Lincoln was elected in November 1860, and throughout his presidency he organised the deportation of freed slaves to Liberia and Haiti.
South Carolina declared its secession from the Union a month after his election; Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas followed, and in 1861 they founded the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis as their president.
Many Northerners saw an upside to this as the United States would not have to deal with the freed slaves of these states any more, but Lincoln didn’t intend to become famous for the separation of the United States. He left no doubt that he wouldn’t tolerate the Secession; a few years ago he had strongly defended the right of every state to decide its own form of government - but of course this right didn’t apply to a member of the US! According to the Declaration of Independence, the United States were a Perpetual Union, he argued, and after being admitted to it nothing could alter a state’s membership.
In his First Inaugural Address in March 1861, he repeated his guarantee of having ‘no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery’.
In the same speech, he also endorsed the Corwin Amendment (‘No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State’) which Congress had passed under outgoing President Buchanan as a last-ditch effort to keep the Union together, and which would have guaranteed the states’ right to remain (or become) slave states. Lincoln said, ‘Holding such a provision to now be implied Constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.’
(Technically, the Corwin Amendment is still awaiting ratification.)
All Union forces were sent away from the Confederate States, but the soldiers in Fort Sumter refused to leave.
Virginia (apart from West Virginia which seceded from Virginia to remain in the Union and subsequently abolished slavery), North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee joined the Confederation.
What followed is usually called the ‘American Civil War’, a term as incorrect as the word ‘Indians’ for the real Americans. A civil war is a war between two (or more) rivalling parties striving for power in one nation or province; this was a war between two nations, the United States of America and the Confederate States of America which they intended to annex. For this purpose Lincoln introduced male slavery (‘conscription’) for the working classes in the US (the better-off could buy themselves out with $200), an institution that would last, on and off, for more than 100 years.
The Confederation called for assistance from Europe, but to no avail. The Americans hadn’t made many friends there (Americans, unto this day, make slaves and not friends), and the idea of them tearing each other apart seemed very appealing (especially to Great Britain).
In order to have a united front against the Confederation, Lincoln admitted members of all factions to his cabinet, including the Radical Republicans. These were the handful of abolitionists in the Congress who successfully took the opportunity to promote their cause and were determined to use the war to put an end to slavery. The most influential ones were Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, who was also the most radical of them all: not only did he demand freedom and equality for all Afro-Americans, he even went as far as including Asians, Jews, Hispanics, Irish, women and - most extremely - Indians.
In 1862, U.S. Congress (at this stage only consisting of Northerners) refused to pass a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. And later that year, when preparing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln wrote, ‘My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. [SPOILER: He chose the third option.] What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.’
And his General U.S. Grant stated, ‘If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission, and offer my sword to the other side.’
Things looked bad for the Union, and Lincoln decided to stir up the South by making the slaves turn against their masters: in 1863 he proclaimed the end of slavery in the Confederation (and no, he did not free a single slave within his jurisdiction in his lifetime). Besides trying to incite a slave revolt in the Confederation (which could easily have backfired if the slaves of the Union had joined them), he also hoped to get support from Europe by giving the impression this war was about slavery. Neither happened.
But his luck changed with the appointment of General William Tecumseh(!) Sherman (who was infamous for abusing his slaves). Lincoln gave him the order to ‘Kill and Destroy’, and that’s exactly what he did! He left the Confederate troops where they were and marched through the countryside with an army of plundering and marauding soldiers, burning absolutely everything and everyone in his path, leaving behind a trail of blood and complete destruction. His scorched earth policy and his deliberate targetting of civilians earned him a place in history books as the first modern general. - That’s how the South was won.
Soon the freed slaves flooded into the North from the destroyed plantations in the South. Needless to say they weren’t welcome. (At the same time, a flood of carpetbaggers was moving in the opposite direction.)
Five days after the Confederation’s surrender, on Good Friday 1865, Lincoln was shot. He died the following morning.
During the war, Nevada had joined the United States in 1864 as a free state.
Union General Benjamin Butler had asked the President what was going to become of the millions of slaves that were freed in the Confederation, to which Lincoln replied, ‘I think we should deport them all.’
This sounded good in theory. But in the 50 years of its existence, the American Colonization Society had removed some 20,000 freed slaves from US territory - now they faced the deportation of more than four million freedmen, a task that was completely unfeasible, technically as well as financially. It was considered to give them an isolated area within the United States or in South America, but no state was willing to give up part of its territory.
The freed slaves still had no rights. They were heavily fined for not finding work, those who couldn’t pay the fine (guess how many of them could) were imprisoned, and those imprisoned could be hired out for work - which, in my humble opinion, is nothing short of slavery.
Eight months after Lincoln’s death, on the 18th of December, 1865, the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the whole of the United States, came into force after it had been ratified by the required number of states. From that day, the slaves of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri (the slave states that hadn’t joined the Confederation) were free as well.
In 1866 the Ku Klux Klan was founded in the South, aiming - just like the colonizationists in the North - at a purely white Protestant American society. Abolitionists and Afro-Americans (amongst other minorities) were permanently terrorised and murdered.
Riots and street battles caused by racists attacking freedmen remained a common sight for decades.
Seeing they had no possibility of getting rid of the Afro-Americans, the Republicans - who feared a defeat in the upcoming elections - decided to use them as ballot fodder, convinced they’d vote for their unwitting liberators. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was passed (overruling President Andrew Johnson’s veto) which granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalised in the United States, except Indians.
In order to get the necessary majority of states to ratify the amendment, the former member states of the Confederation who refused to do so (which were all of them except Tennessee) remained under military rule and were only readmitted on ratification of the amendment between 1868 and 1870 (An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States, known as Reconstruction Acts).
For a number of years, equal rights for Afro-Americans, including their suffrage, were enforced. In 1870 and 1871, Congress passed a number of Force Acts, making the use of terror, the intimidation of voters, the attempt to prevent anyone from exercising their civil rights etc a federal offence. Hundreds of KKK members and supporters were tried an convicted, and soon the others went into hiding. The Ku Klux Klan was dead - for the time being.
After the Reconstruction Period ended in the early 1870s, the South fell back to the racists who passed Jim Crow laws to disfranchise the freedmen and who applied a ‘separate but equal’ segregation policy, denying Afro-Americans the use of the same services and facilities as white Americans.
This policy was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1896 (Plessy v Ferguson).
In 1883, the Supreme Court also ruled that the 14th Amendment only forbids discrimination by the state, not by individuals; official segregation went on for another century (until a Supreme Court ruling in 1957), and their voting rights were restricted until the passing of the Voting Rights Act exactly 100 years after the war (when federal police finally stopped local police from hindering them to vote).
New member states were Nebraska in 1867, Colorado in 1876, North and South Dakota, Montana and Washington in 1889, Idaho and Wyoming in 1890 and Utah in 1896.
By 1893, less than 400 wild buffalo were left.
America always had an eye on Cuba, and it watched with interest how it got more and more difficult for the Spanish to suppress the Cubans. By 1898, the civil war was in full swing, and as the Spanish empire was falling apart all over the world, they felt their time had come.
The United States offered to negotiate between them, but their ‘help’ was declined.
They decided to send a battleship anyway, claiming to fear for the safety of American residents, and on February 15th, 1898, the Maine anchored in Havana.
The same evening, the Maine was blown up, and 266 soldiers were killed; the cause has never been established.
Several theories are still spread - the accidental explosion of the fuel tank for example, or an attack by Cuban rebels trying to blame it on the Spanish and get the US involved on their side (which doesn’t really make sense as they had declined US intervention before).
But the main theories claim it was an attack by the Spanish (though they wouldn’t have had a reason to conceal their identity), or that the ship was blown up by US forces themselves in order to justify a war, which is the only one that sounds plausible to me.
However, the United States blamed the Spanish and declared war. In their view, Spain had started the hostilities by the supposed attack; the Americans have always made a big deal about the ‘first shot’, and they have worked out a lot of ways to let others fire it. In my opinion, a war starts either with a declaration of war or with armed forces entering foreign territory (or refusing to leave it, as was the case in Fort Sumter). This war, as I see it, started with an American battleship entering Cuban waters, regardless of the cause of the explosion.
The war against Spain spread over several colonies and ended a few months later with the American annexation of the Philippines (for which they paid $20,000,000 to Spain), Puerto Rico, and Guam.
Resistance of the populations against American occupation remained as fierce as it was against the Spanish, and the atrocities committed by the US forces were nothing short of what their predecessors had done to them. (The Philippines had declared their independence on June 12th, but nobody took notice.)
While Cuba formally gained independence in 1902, the US officially retained the right to interfere in Cuban affairs, which they repeatedly did.
With the new century approaching, the US decided to become a world power rather than just meddling in the businesses of Northern and Southern American countries, and in 1900 they assisted European powers in the bloody suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China in which the Chinese tried to regain control of their country.
On this occasion the United States coined the term Open Door Policy, meaning that the US and the European countries may exploit China equally. (Around this time Mark Twain suggested to replace the American flag with a skull-spangled banner.)
After McKinley’s successful assassination in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became president. His first project was the completion of the Panama Canal which would connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, so no one had to sail around the tip of South America any more. It had been started by the French, but after the company went bankrupt in 1889, nobody had seriously worked on it.
In 1903, he negotiated with Colombia in whose territory the canal was planned, but even though the treaty was signed, it was rejected by the Columbian Senate.
No problem for Roosevelt: he promised to support the rebels in the Colombian province of Panama where the canal was planned and sent the US Navy to assist them. Panama declared its independence on November 3, 1903, while the USS Nashville impeded Columbian forces, and shortly afterwards the works (which were completed in 1913) commenced. (Leigh Mercer summarised the story in his brilliant palindrome A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!)
In 1906, Roosevelt has been awarded the Nobel Peace Price; not for this, of course, but for his negotiations in the Russo-Japanese War.
He still lives in every children’s room: the Teddy Bear was named after him, following an anecdote according to which he refused to shoot a bear that had been tied to a tree for him - in his opinion big game, other than Indians, deserved a ‘sporting chance’.
Euthanasia was also practiced. Although the most commonly suggested way were local gas chambers, most techniques used were subtler, such as feeding patients tuberculosis-infected milk, or simply by lethal neglect.
After the fall of Nazi Germany (whose eugenics policies had been inspired by the example of the United States), eugenics increasingly fell out of fashion, although forced sterilisations continued until 1981, with a focus on American Indian women.
Germany, in the meantime a theoretically perfect democracy, had faded from the mind of the Americans. It was nothing more than an unreliable income source for the reparations it owed (economically destroyed and with a starving population, it was hardly able to pay the interests of its debts), and no one really cared about what happened to it.
But democracy doesn’t go well with starvation: fourteen years after the United States had laid their egg in Versailles, the monster hatched. Hitler, an Austrian hobo whose shrill voice and low intellect had made him the undisputed leader of the NSDAP, appeared on the scene. In 1933, his party got 43.9%, and with the votes of the conservatives (including that of the first post-WWII president Theodor Heuss) the Enabling Act was passed which gave his government unlimited powers to ‘save the country from its enemies’.
The Americans didn’t care. Okay, okay, he refused to pay the reparations, but a strong Nazi Germany would keep the Soviets out of Europe. Hitler hated Communists, and he hated Jews - so what was the problem?
But there were warning voices as well, foremost that of Roosevelt who was aware that Hitler would not only reclaim the lost territories but also aim at dominating the European continent. Another power to be taken into account was the USSR. Roosevelt was disappointed that the United States who had proven to be the leading power had retired from world politics rather than looking for new conquests.
When the chance came to get involved, like in the Civil War in Spain, Congress reacted by passing Neutrality Acts that prevented the United States from even delivering weapons to belligerent countries (of course, Roosevelt and the arms industry found ways around that, which finally were legalised by the Lend-Lease Act in 1941).
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the French, British and Dutch had to focus their military activities in Europe which weakened their position in the Asian colonies. Many of these started to fight for independence, but two other powers saw their opportunity to take them over: Japan and the United States.
Japan reacted promptly by invading Indo-China. In return, Roosevelt placed an oil embargo on Japan which heavily relied on oil, and in September 1940 Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy requiring them to assist each other.
Roosevelt’s best bet was to get Japan to attack the United States - in that case, Germany would have to get involved, and he could send American troops to both Indo-China and Europe.
The embargo had paved the way, but still Japan didn’t react the way it was supposed to. On November 26th, 1941, Roosevelt set them an ultimatum to withdraw all their troops from the occupied territories.
There have been claims that US intelligence had decoded, in detail, Japan’s plans of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and informed President Roosevelt. Warnings about the imminent attack were also issued by other secret services and agents, such as Serbian triple agent Dušan Popov who informed the FBI.
On the morning of December 7th, Japan’s navy attacked the completely unprepared US Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, killing an estimated 2,400 men.
Japan declared war a few hours later; the declaration was meant to be delivered before the attack, but decoding it had taken the Japanese embassy longer than anticipated.
Roosevelt had reached his aim: the United States were at war, and the outraged American public was calling for revenge!
In February 1942 Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which authorised the internment of persons of Japanese origin or ancestry on the Pacific Coast, most of whom were US citizens, leading to the incarceration of more than 110,000 of them. There was no indication of their disloyalty, and nowadays it is generally accepted that the motives were entirely racist.
Later that year, after negotiations with Lima, this treatment was extended to persons of Japanese descent who lived in Peru. They were arrested and deported to the US where they were kept in internment camps as well.
The Germans and British had already commenced what would become the warfare of the future, and the Americans were only too happy to embrace the new strategy: instead of soldiers killing soldiers, air raids were carried out on large cities, killing thousands of civilians without putting one’s own people in danger; at the same time it destroyed the enemy’s already damaged economy.
The war spread over three continents - Europe, Africa and Asia, with some Japanese attacks in Oceania as well (Pearl Harbour and Australia) - and left half of the world in ruins. An estimated 60 million people got killed, the vast majority being civilians.
Besides the war dead, another 11 millions were killed in Hitler's concentration camps: 6 million of them for being Jews, the others for being Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled persons or regime critics.
Roosevelt was insistent to talk to Stalin in person, and the Soviet leader finally agreed to a meeting in Tehran in November 1943 and another one in Yalta in February 1945.
Descriptions of Roosevelt’s attitude towards Stalin range from conciliatory to servile, yet before the war he had portrayed him as a dangerous dictator. Most historians put this down to senility, but I am convinced that Roosevelt had worked out a detailed post-war plan for the world already, and he pussyfooted around Stalin in an effort not to endanger it.
After the defeat of Germany and Japan (Italy had surrendered already), the United States once more would emerge as the world’s leading power, followed closely by the USSR. I am certain that at this stage Roosevelt had the vision of an American empire covering all countries between the poles; but he knew that the time wasn’t ripe.
There were two possible scenarios for the post-war world: one was that a couple of empires would continue gaining and losing territories, creating alliances and fighting wars, and this was too much of a risk for American supremacy; the second was to divide the planet amongst the two strongest powers and then work on each other’s downfall, and that’s what he aimed at. A mastiff has a better chance against another mastiff than against a pack of hyenas.
For this purpose he intended to set up the United Nations; he was aware that they’d be as powerless as the League of Nations was, because the strongest countries would have to be given a veto, but they would succeed in preventing the emergence of other superpowers beside the US and the USSR.
(Oh yes, Churchill was at these meetings as well. But his presence was merely symbolic; in both World Wars he had schemed to get the United States involved at the earliest stage, demonstrating Great Britain’s dependence on them. Apart from that, Britain was actually the big loser of the war - within a few years, they lost most of their colonies, including India. To my knowledge, Great Britain was the first country ever to be dominated by one of its former colonies.)
However, Roosevelt couldn’t openly discuss his vision of American world rule, and many of his subjects who didn’t grasp his subtle master plan thought he sympathised with Communism. He died of a heart attack on April 12th, 1945, just after having been re-elected for a fourth term, and just before the defeat of Germany; maybe the excitement of finally reaching his aim was too much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of his oblivious fellowmen had been involved, thinking he was doing damage control before the post-war conferences.
Roosevelt’s vice-president Truman succeeded him and met with Stalin in Potsdam to ask for his support against Japan, discuss the world’s future and distribute the loot.
After their unconditional surrender on May 8th, 1945, Austria and Germany were divided into four zones (the American, British and French zones in the West and the Soviet one in the East), and so was the German capital Berlin itself, which lay in the centre of the Soviet sector.
After the disastrous result of the last German defeat, and fearing the spread of Communism, the Americans decided to introduce a new system of domination: rather than plundering the defeated European countries and leaving them on their own, they let them work for the United States while allowing them to elect governments that acted within their parameters. This was called the European Recovery Program, known as Marshall Plan, which was offered to the European countries affected by the war but declined by the USSR and the states of their zone because it would have given the US too much influence.
The West Germans were leniently punished - at the Nuremberg Trials the figureheads of the Third Reich (who hadn’t committed suicide like Hitler or Goebbels) were executed, and a few others were sentenced to long prison terms some of which were suspended after just a few years.
The others got away; the Americans, with their knowledge of the German mentality, rightly believed that they had just been carrying out Hitler’s orders, and that they would serve the US just as enthusiastically. Thus it was still possible for members of the Nazi party to become president or chancellor of West Germany.
A number of Nazi criminals were also employed by the US (such as Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, who was recruited by the CIC in 1947 at the time he was sentenced to death in France). Operation Paperclip, a US programme to recruit leading German scientists, engineers and technicians (many of whom had worked for the Nazi regime, such as Wernher von Braun), was put in place right after the war.
The Americans generously invested in the destroyed countries, set up American businesses, helped them manage their debts and taught them of the dangers of Communism (and for those who didn’t listen they got out the cane). The American economy (which had been booming since entering the war) kept on booming, the West Germans had their Wirtschaftswunder, the British colonies got their independence: the war had done everyone a world of good!
Well, maybe not the other countries... After 1945, no nation was able to remain completely neutral (apart from Switzerland, where the Communists and the Capitalists had their offshore bank accounts). Any country claiming independence was either sacked by one of the superpowers, or accused of having been sacked by the other one - this would lead to sanctions and embargoes that automatically forced them to establish ties with the other one, making them more or less dependent on it.
Also, many satrapies declaring their independence were immediately invaded (‘liberated’ or ‘protected’) by their original owners to re-establish their rule, especially those providing crucial materials and those located on their doorstep. South American countries, for example, had been exploited by US companies and citizens for ages, and every emerging democracy was at once removed by the United States, like in Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973 or Honduras in 2009. They also supported terrorists against democratically elected governments like in Chile and Nicaragua.
The one nation that hadn’t surrendered by May 1945 was Japan. But once the war was over in the West, the US were able to focus on Asia, and after some major victories negotiations for Japan’s surrender were under way.
This put Truman under a lot of pressure: the United States had just finished building the atomic bomb, and this could be the last opportunity in a long time to test its effects under authentic conditions.
On August 6th, 1945, the first atomic bomb (uranium) was dropped on Hiroshima, killing a quarter of a million people instantly or after weeks of agony, and crippling, disfiguring or causing cancer to millions of others. On August 8th, the USSR thought it safe to declare war on Japan, and on August 9th another A-bomb (plutonium) was dropped on Nagasaki - it slightly dropped off target, thus only killing an eighth of a million people instantly or after weeks of agony, and crippling, disfiguring or causing cancer to millions of others. The most macabre experiment in history was concluded, and on August 15th, Emperor Hirohito surrendered unconditionally.
In Iran, which had been terrorised by its leader Shah Reza Pahlavi for almost four decades, opposition to the monarchy increased rapidly, despite police shooting into the crowds of protesters. He had allowed the country to be shamelessly exploited by the United States while torturing and killing all critics and opponents of his regime.
He had to flee the country in January 1979 and was welcomed in the United States which provided him with free medical treatment.
There were emerging democratic voices in Iran, but the overwhelming majority hailed the return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile, a radical fundamentalist who, following a referendum, created an isolationist Islamic state.
Riots all over Iran continued for over a year, and massacres on Khomeini’s opponents became a regular feature.
In November 1979, an angry mob stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took the remaining staff hostage, demanding Pahlavi’s extradition to try him for his crimes.
The negotiations led nowhere as President Carter refused the exchange; after the Iranian despot died of cancer in July 1980, negotiations continued with a new set of demands. In the end an agreement was reached (the Algiers Accords), the main points being that the United States return Iranian assets that had been frozen under Carter and refrain from interfering in internal affairs.
On January 20th, 1981, while Ronald Reagan (who had left Hollywood to become President) was sworn into office, the remaining 52 hostages were released. According to Abolhassan Banisadr, who was president of Iran at the time, the release had been delayed until after the US presidential election at the behest of the Reagan campaign to prevent Jimmy Carter's re-election.
Also in 1979, US protégé Saddam Hussein took over the reigning Ba’ath Party in Iraq.
In 1980, taking advantage of the unstable situation in Iran, Hussein used the continuous border disputes to wage war on his neighbour, and Reagan and several Western European countries gladly supplied him with weapons.
In order to keep Iran safe from being sucked into the Soviet sphere, Reagan would have liked to provide them with arms, too, but an arms embargo against them prevented that. Also, he would have liked to help the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua to overthrow their democratically elected government, but the Boland Amendment stood in the way. The solution was simple: Israel supplied Iran with weapons and got resupplied from the United States. The proceeds were used to arm and train the Contras. Besides, the deal also helped to release the Hezbollah hostages in Lebanon. The Iran-Contra Affair was exposed in 1986.
Besides the United States, the USSR and Yugoslavia also provided weapons to both sides of the conflict.
The war ended in 1988, with neither side having achieved anything.
During his presidency, Reagan launched an arms program unequalled in history, including his massive futuristic SDI (‘Star Wars’) Program, just in case.
The logic of those days was that if the US had the capacity of destroying the planet twenty times over while the USSR could only manage to destroy it a dozen times, they had some serious catching up to do. The arms race had reached its peak.
In 1982, General Secretary Brezhnev died. Two successors followed his example within three years, and in 1985 the Politburo elected one of its few members not suffering from old age. Enter the most tragic character of the century: Mikhail Gorbachev.
The USSR, just like their satrapies, were in dire straits. Economical mismanagement had forced them to buy more and more grain from other countries, mostly the US, and the arms race as well as the strenuous war against Afghanistan had exhausted their international financial credibility. Communism was bankrupt.
On top of this, the population had become restless. The Communists had eliminated starvation and homelessness, but at a price not everyone was willing to pay. Personal freedom was almost non-existent; everybody’s life was organised and controlled in every detail, and since the 60s the right to travel to countries outside of the Warsaw Pact had been severely restricted, due to the amount of people heading for the ‘Golden West’. A lot of products were not available, for others there were long waiting lists, and sometimes even food was rationed. (Much of this was due to the fact that the colonies of the USSR, which covered about a third of the globe, were less resourceful than the US’ colonies.)
While trying to hold on to the achievements of Communism, Gorbachev aimed at a society that provided personal freedom, democracy and transparency. But things got out of hand: the people didn’t want to wait any longer and went on the streets, strikes and demonstrations paralysed the system, and every little province declared its independence.
In East Germany, the leading Stalinist party SED was banned; the other Stalinist parties were bought over by West German parties and in 1990 voted to be unconditionally annexed to West Germany.
To interfere the old-fashioned way by sending in troops and tanks would have defeated the purpose, and therefore Gorbachev didn’t even consider it. And as there was no other way of dealing with the situation, he just had to watch as things happened.
In August 1991, a coup of Communist Party hardliners attempting to re-establish the old order failed, but their defeat elevated the Russian President Boris Yeltsin to the position of a hero. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if he had incited the coup himself for exactly this purpose.)
In December 1991, the USSR formally disbanded, despite a referendum in March of that year in which 77% voted in favour of preserving the union (the only referendum ever held in the USSR), and Gorbachev delegated all his powers (including the use of nuclear weapons) to Yeltsin. I still believe that the world was never as close to a nuclear disaster as when this megalomaniac drunkard was in control (and this takes into account the Cuban Missile Crisis) before Trump’s presidency.
He introduced unfettered capitalism to Russia almost overnight, causing drastic inflation, falling incomes and widespread poverty, unemployment and homelessness.
In 1993, after they repeatedly refused to vote as he had instructed and objected his strive for dictatorial powers, Yeltsin declared the Russian parliament dissolved and repudiated the constitution, without the authority to do either. Because of this breach of the constitution, the parliament (whose deputies had refused to leave the building) impeached him and declared Vice-President Rutskoy president. Thousands of protesters gathered as the army surrounded the building, and when parliament supporters tried to take over a nearby TV station, they opened fire and killed between 187 (according to police) and 2,000 (according to witnesses) of them. The incident was not reported by Russian state media. - But Yeltsin was not a Communist, and that’s what made him a democrat in the eyes of the US.
During the Cold War, the basic ideas of Socialism - providing free access to education, health care, housing etc for everybody, regardless of their financial situation or social standing, as well as legislation concerning workers' rights, equality and so forth - had led to a kind of moral competition during which the US satrapies, to a greater or lesser extent, did the same. Now, since there is no more competition around, the world returned to the strict class system of the late 19th century.
To choose a single nation would have been silly, because after its defeat a new enemy would have to be found; this only left a race, an ideology or a religion to pick from.
As I mentioned earlier, the US support of the genocide in Palestine had always put a great strain on their relations with the Arab world, so Bush picked War on Islam.
The ideal point to start with was Iraq. Hussein (the Americans still call their old buddy by his first name) had fought the tiring war against Iran, he had used up the chemical and biological weapons the US had provided to get rid of the Kurds, and his country was worn out. He needed money - and his best bet was to get oil.
- Hussein wanted to expand Iraq, he needed money to pay off his debts from the war against Iran, and there had always been border disputes with Kuwait (which, as he argued, was historically a part of Iraq, anyway); what better way of starting the war than encouraging him to invade his neighbour?
In a meeting in 1990, US ambassador Glaspie assured Hussein, ‘We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instructions first given in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America!’
The Iraqi leader took the bait and invaded and annexed Kuwait in August 1990. Bush and the world were appalled, the UN condemned the invasion, and the US led a coalition to liberate Kuwait in the First Gulf War. (Hussein offered to withdraw from Kuwait in return for the cessation of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, but of course this wasn’t considered acceptable.) One month later Iraq was defeated, and the Carlyle Group was saved. Bush even pretended that the United States were suddenly concerned about the Kurds.
After the war Hussein remained in office, but he was not allowed to possess biological or chemical weapons any more.
On September 11th, 2001, while the Carlyle Group were holding their annual conference at the Ritz (attended by its members George Bush sr and Shafiq Bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden), four passenger planes were hijacked and used as missiles against several targets in the United States; almost 3,000 died.
Initially Bush intended to pin the attacks on Saddam Hussein as a pretext for another war against Iraq, but his advisors convinced him that it would be impossible to create an even remotely credible link between Iraq and 9/11. So after Bush had organised the safe departure of the bin Laden family from the States (while all other aircraft were still grounded), he blamed Osama bin Laden, one of Daddy’s mates from the Carlyle Group and leader of Al-Qaeda, and accused Afghanistan of harbouring him. The Taliban agreed to hand him over, pending evidence of his guilt, to which Bush replied, ‘We know he’s guilty.’
(Speaking of the Carlyle Group: George Bush jr had been secured a position on the Board of Directors of its Caterair International, Inc. investment by his father in 1990, which subsequently was sold off for being unprofitable; obviously the running of a business, other than the running of the United States, requires organisational skills.)
There are three points that seem quite dodgy to me:
1. The first plane crashed into the Northern tower of the World Trade Center with such a precision that it hit the exact spot at which it would cause the entire tower to collapse. The second plane crashed into the Southern tower of the World Trade Center with such a precision that it hit the exact spot at which it would cause the entire tower to collapse. The third plane scratched the Pentagon, destroying some new offices that were not occupied and didn’t contain any equipment or information. (The forth plane, meant to hit the United States Capitol, didn’t reach its target; some heroic passengers and crew members who had heard of the other planes took control of it and crashed it in a field.)
2. Nobody claimed ‘responsibility’ (I never understood how anyone massacring civilians dare use this term) for the attacks.
3. At the time of the attacks, Bush was visiting a school. After having been informed of the second attack on the Twin Towers, he didn’t show any reaction at all and absent-mindedly kept listening to the kids reading The Pet Goat to him. He didn’t worry about his security; he obviously was aware that he himself was not in any danger. - On several occasions he claimed to have seen the first attack on TV while waiting outside the classroom, thinking, ‘There’s one terrible pilot’, despite the fact that footage of it hadn’t surfaced until the next day.
Now I would expect anyone who is able to plan attacks on civilian targets with such precision to plan his attacks on military targets with equal precision - unless he doesn’t intend to do any damage.
Terror is supposed to spread fear, and it is spread so the terrorists would be feared. (Apart from this, attacks are usually followed up with certain demands.) Terrorist attacks without anyone claiming what they call responsibility don’t make sense.
This led me to believe that the Bush administration was involved in the planning of 9/11 to be provided with a free pass for a never-ending ‘War on Terror’ and severe restrictions of civil liberties.
While the idea of US involvement in the attacks is generally ridiculed as a ‘conspiracy theory’, it has to be taken into account how much both the Bush and the bin Laden families were to gain from it. Apart from that, it wouldn't be the first far-fetched conspiracy theory in American history to turn out being correct. (For example, those who were laughed at for believing the Johnson administration had made up an alleged attack in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify the escalation of the Vietnam War were proven right 41 years later.)
Also, many experts claim that the airplanes crashing into the WTC did not explain the collapse of the buildings, and that the collapse must have been a result of controlled demolition by having the buildings wired with explosives. If this was the case, it certainly helped that George Bush’s brother Marvin Bush was on the board of directors of Securacom, the company in charge of the WTC’s security.
US and UK troops invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to ‘smoke them out of their holes’ and were soon joined by others for a war that lasted for thirteen years and cost the lives of more than 2,300 US troops, more than 20,000 Taliban and more than 26,000 civilians.
Despite all the efforts the US supposedly put into the manhunt, bin Laden was not captured during George Bush’s presidency. His killing by US Navy in Pakistan was reported in 2011, but the Obama administration refused any requests to release evidence to the public.
A delightful side effect of 9/11 was that Bush had no problem in eliminating civil rights by having the USA PATRIOT ACT (The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) passed just a month after the attacks.
In 2002, the Bush administration established the Guantanamo Bay detention camp on their naval base near Cuba. It serves as a military prison, mostly for those captured (or purchased from bounty hunters) during their invasions of Muslim countries. Inmates are detained indefinitely without trial and severely tortured.
Only days before the next presidential elections in 2004, taking place under similarly dubious circumstances as the previous one, Bush’s campaign was given a final boost by 58,000 absentee ballots that were ‘lost’ on their way to the post, as well as by a guest appearance of bin Laden on American TV. He threatened the United States and thus supported Bush’s policy of fear – once again this proves to me that the Bush and the bin Laden families work together to promote their joint weapons business.
Bush won the election which cost the lives of thousands of Muslim families. He has always stuck to the motto of his administration which he outlined when he signed the Defense Bill in August 2004, ‘Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we!’
His greatest achievement was the introduction of a public healthcare system similar to the ones most European nations had implemented after WWII (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, generally knows as Obamacare).
In 2011, several Arab nations experienced increasing unrest in what was called the Arab Spring. Protests against their oppressive regimes, many of whom were close trading partners of the United States, swept through the Arab world and were often met with violent responses from authorities. Civil war broke out in some of these countries, and the Islamic State, denounced as a terror group by most Islamic nations, used the opportunity move into these countries, trying to absorb them into their caliphate.
In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi who – trying to avoid a fate similar to Hussein – had announced the destruction of his nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal in 2003 and invited weapons inspectors, was not able to save himself from the wrath of his people, and during the Lybian Civil War in 2011 he was killed by rebel forces, assisted by NATO forces (including the US).
The worst affected arena is Syria where a civil war is raging since 2011, with four different belligerents: the Syrian government and their allies (including Russia), the Free Syrian Army with their allies (including the United States), the Syrian Democratic Forces and their allies (including Russia and the United States) and the Islamic State. Estimates of civilian deaths in the conflict are close to half a million. 8 million have been displaced, which led to the worst refugee crisis in decades.
Between 9/11 and Trump’s inauguration, 94 people had been killed in the United States by Islamic extremists, all of whom were legal residents of the country. He keeps insisting on an imminent threat of an attack from Muslim immigrants, and his administration - lacking real life events - keep making up terror attacks that never happened. His attempts at creating an anti-Muslim hysteria could indicate a plan for an event similar to 9/11 to consolidate his power, curtail the rule of the courts and govern by executive orders alone, effectively ending the separation of powers in the US.
Besides these orders, he also used his presidency to promote not only his own business but those of his daughter and current wife, authorised the Dakota Pipeline, discussed matters of national security in public restaurants, managed to become the first president to deliver a Holocaust Remembrance Day message without mentioning the Jews and repeated his intention to introduce a registry for all Muslims in the United States. (In comparison, Hitler didn’t require Jews to register until his 6th year in power.)
Life, as Darwin and Hitler said, is survival of the fittest, and we have to deal with the fact that the United States have eliminated all competitors for world rule. But the civilised countries should not allow them to lecture us about freedom, morals or human rights; we should measure our cultural standards against a more challenging benchmark.