It seems like trolls and cyber-moles are everywhere, these days. Russian interference in our democracy is both worrisome and irritating. To subvert another country’s political process by propaganda, disinformation and divisive provocation is as dangerous, potentially, as outright military attack, though lots more furtive and oblique. 

My wife and I used to visit Guatemala regularly, she to deliver babies and I to collect trinkets. (See: Division of Labor – Key to A Happy Marriage.) The Guatemalans welcomed us warmly despite knowing that we were Americans; despite knowing that the American government had destroyed their democracy and their budding land-reform movement 50 years earlier. “And why had the U.S. done that?” you may ask. It wanted, as it always does, to save The Haves from the Have-Nots. That time, it was to protect the United Fruit Company, an American enterprise. 

In the Capitalist mind, land-reform means Communism. Back then, in 1956, the Red Scare was at fever pitch – the era of McCarthy and John Birch. How dare these swarthy peasants claim a share of what is ours (now that we’ve stolen it from them?) We’ve got to stop them right away before they dream of taking back The Alamo, Los Alamos, Los Angeles, or Montpellier, Vermont! 

My son had lived in Egypt and he spoke good Arabic. I called him in 2001, right after watching 9/11 on the TV. My son said, “Well, I’m horrified, of course. But most Americans have no idea how many bombing raids we’ve staged in the Mideast over the years – which have cancelled far more than a few thousand lives. It’s not reported in the U.S. press.”

Meddling and subversion have been standard U.S. operating policy for well more than a century. To protect our own interests (Read: those of the ownership class) we support corrupt puppets -The Shah in Iran, for example, and, yes, even Saddam Hussein for a time, and shore up brutal autocrats like August Pinochet. Morality and justice do not enter into it. We do what’s cheapest and what works for us: “Stability,” I think they like to say. 

The list of foreign countries in whose domestic affairs we have meddled – and, often, with woeful results – is approximately endless, and that’s beside the countries we have simply overthrown. These names and others come to mind: AFGHANISTAN, CHILE, CUBA, EGYPT, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, IRAN, IRAQ, IRAQ, IRAQ, ISRAEL, KOREA, LEBANON, LIBYA, MEXICO, NICARAGUA, PALESTINE, PANAMA, THE PHILIPPINES, SOMALIA, SYRIA, UKRAINE, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM, YEMEN, ETC.

To this most sordid history, now add the brutish conduct of our current government with its self-serving watchword, “America First,” and its perverse refusal to acknowledge climate change, as well as all the treaties we have just abruptly dumped. It’s not hard to fathom how hated America is by four-fifths of the world, including by many who were, till quite recently, friends. There’d be nothing wrong with America First! if it didn’t also mean And Screw Everyone Else!

In the late ’50’s, as a teenager, I hitchhiked around Europe with an army-surplus rucksack on top of which was sewn a U.S. flag. Most people loved the U.S.A., back then, a dozen years after we slew the Hun. I was treated like family wherever I went. 

These days, American tourists in Europe often pretend to be Canadian. Kinda sad, don’tchya think?