[Marxism] William Blum on the new Cold War

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 5 14:22:45 MDT 2010

 From William Blum's latest Anti-Empire report 

The Cold War is over. Long live the Cold War.

I recently attended a showing of Oliver Stone's new documentary film, 
"South of the Border", which concerns seven present-day government 
leaders of Latin America -– in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, 
Paraguay, Cuba and Brazil — who are not in love with US foreign policy. 
After the film there was a discussion panel in the theatre, consisting 
of Stone, the two writers of the film (Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbrot) and 
Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program of the Woodrow 
Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington; the discussion 
was moderated by Neal Conan of National Public Radio.

It perhaps was not meant to be a "debate", but it quickly became that, 
with Arnson leading the "anti-communist" faction, supported somewhat by 
Conan's questions and more vociferously by a segment of the audience 
which took sides loudly via applause and cries of approval or 
displeasure. Twenty years post-Cold War, anti-communism still runs deep 
in the American soul and psyche. Candid criticism of US foreign policy 
and/or capitalism is sufficient to consign a foreign government or 
leader to the "communist" camp whether or not that term is specifically 

In the late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev was steering the Soviet Union 
away from its rivalry with the West in a bid for a "new thinking" 
foreign policy, Georgiy Arbatov, director of the Soviet's Institute for 
U.S. and Canadian Studies, declared to the United States: "We will do 
the most horrible thing to you; we will leave you without an enemy." 21

The American military-industrial-intelligence complex understands the 
need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is U.S. Col. Dennis 
Long, speaking in 1992, shortly after the end of the Cold War, when he 
was director of "total armor force readiness" at Fort Knox, Kentucky:

     For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a 
week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable 
qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice 
day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We 
won't have his playbook, we won't know where the stadium is, or how many 
guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military 
establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence 
of your organization and your systems. 22

Arbatov was right about the United States fearing a world without an 
enemy, but wrong about the United States actually being left without 
one. In addition to all the enemies produced in the Middle East by 
military interventions and the War on Terror, the US has had a 
continuous supply of "communists" challenging Washington's militant 
hegemony – from Yugoslavia, Cuba and Haiti to the present large crop in 
Latin America. We should realize that the Cold War was essentially not a 
struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was more a 
struggle between the United States and the Third World. The US sought to 
dominate the Third World and intervened in many countries even when the 
Soviets were not playing any significant role at all in the political 
tumult in those places, albeit Washington propaganda routinely yelled 
"communist". There existed a strong push in the United States to stand 
tall against communism, particularly communism of the invisible variety, 
since that was the most dangerous kind.

In actuality, Bolshevism and Western liberalism were united in their 
opposition to popular revolution. Russia was a country with a 
revolutionary past, not a revolutionary present; and the same could be 
said about the United States.

In the post-film discussion, Stone replied to a charge of the film being 
biased by stating that the US media is generally so slanted against the 
governments in question that his film is an attempt to strike a needed 
balance. Indeed, it must be asked: How many of the 1400 American daily 
newspapers or the numerous television stations even occasionally report 
on Washington's continually ongoing attempts to subvert the governments 
in question or present the programs and policies of their leaders in a 
positive light? Particularly Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of 
Bolivia, the two main focuses of the film; not forgetting of course that 
American journalists accuse Cuba of violating human rights first thing 
upon their awakening each morning.

While we no longer hear about the "international communist conspiracy", 
American foreign policy remains profoundly unchanged. It turns out that 
whatever Washington officials and diplomats at the time thought they 
were doing, the Cold War revisionists have been vindicated; it was not 
about containing something called "communism"; it was about American 
supremacy, expansion and economic interests.

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