Under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’ and the struggle for ‘democracy’, the United States has justified dozens of military and political interventions in the world during the 20th and 21st centuries. In their most recent campaign they have focused on Venezuela as part of a strategy to undermine progressive governments in the region.
With coordinated media manipulation, economic blockade and diplomatic pressure, the imperialist offensive on the Latin American nation has been going on for more than a decade. They have branded the Venezuelan government a ”dictatorship”, presenting it as a ”failed state” plunged into social chaos, with high rates of poverty, malnutrition, and insecurity; arguing that the cause is the progressive model and not exogenous factors such as international discrediting or blockade.
For the United States, and much of the West, these are sufficient grounds to justify political and diplomatic intervention, which would even be military. But if these are triggers for intervention, it is actually time for the United States to take the initiative to invade its own country—in defense of human rights and democracy of the people of the United States.
The American situation is highly worrying and qualifies the nation to be a suitable recipient of ‘humanitarian aid’ made in the USA. According to a report by Philip Alston, special rapporteur of the United Nations (UN) on extreme poverty and human rights, it was revealed that by 2018, 40 million people in the United States live in poverty, 18.5 million live in extreme poverty and more than five million live in conditions of absolute poverty.
The country has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the highest infant mortality rate among comparable states in this group. Not surprisingly, Alston described the country as the most unequal society in the developed world.
No wonder the United States can no longer be called a “first world” nation. According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for the majority of its citizens, approximately 80% of the population, the United States is a nation comparable to the “Third World”.
To arrive at this conclusion, economists applied the model of Arthur Lewis, Nobel laureate in economics (1979), which was designed to identify the factors on the basis of which a country country could be classified as a developing country.
According to Peter Temin, co-author of the study, America can be called a developing country on the basis of this model: it is a dual economy (a huge gap between a small part of the population that is enormously rich and the vast majority that lives in poverty) in which the poor have little influence over public policy; the rich keeps wages of the working people low so that they can benefit from cheap labour; societal control is used to prevent the low-wage sector from challenging policies that favour the high-income sector; high rates of incarceration; the tax system is oriented towards keeping taxes on the rich low; and it is a society where social and economic mobility is low.
This is especially relevant when one of the main arguments for aggressions by the USA on other countries is the supposed ‘welfare’ and human rights of citizens. Americans should first turn their gaze back on themselves.
According to a 11-country analysis of the Commonwealth Fund (2017), the United States, for the sixth consecutive time, had the worst health system amongst the wealthy nations. Despite having the most expensive health care system on the planet, with an annual expenditure of three trillion dollars, its performance is the lowest on measures of health system equity, access, administrative efficiency, care delivery, and health care outcomes.
Meanwhile, life expectancy in the United States declined for the third consecutive year to 78.6 years, the longest sustained decline since 1915–18, when the first world war and the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic were among the causes of death. In comparison, Cuba, which according to John Bolton (National Security Advisor of the USA) is a part of the ‘Troika of Tyranny,’ has a life expectancy of 79.74 years (in 2018).
And as regards education, over the years 1990 to 2016, the United States’ ranking plummeted from 6 to 27 in the world, making it’s education system one of the worst in the ‘developed’ world. Public spending on education in the US fell between 2010 and 2014 by 4% (per student), while education spending, on average, rose 5% per student across the 35 countries in the OECD.
Falling life expectancy, an expensive and inequitable health system and an education system that is one of the worst among developed nations—if this is not enough justification for the US government and the rest of the West to intervene in the USA, then constant human rights violations must be enough cause for mobilising troops to the border and initiating a military intervention.
The United States has systematically directed or influenced interventions in Latin America and the rest of the global South. It has assigned to itself a ‘license to kill’ anywhere in the world, as evidenced in the recent covert operations, ethnic wars and military invasions that it has conducted / fuelled in countries around the world.
Prisons where human rights are grossly violated such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib are of course well-known examples of the impunity with which the USA violates human rights. People such as Gina Haspel, who was deeply involved in the US government’s torture program, have risen to powerful positions such as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
But the most glaring instance of the contempt the United States has for human rights is its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, an international body charged with ensuring that such violations do not happen. This decision came days after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced the Trump administration’s practice of forcibly separating migrant children from their parents and imprisoning them in what can only be called modern concentration camps.
Domestically, police accountability for the use of excessive force has declined, especially in black and Latino communities. According to a Boston University study, the systematic killing of black men in the United States by use of excessive force reflects an underlying structural racism in American society, which is also reflected in a biased justice system against black communities. “If the police patrolled the white areas as they do poor black neighborhoods, there would be a revolution,” says Paul Butler, author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men, which recounts what it means to be a black man in the United States.
Such human rights violations are the daily reality for ethnic minorities and historically discriminated groups. This is coupled with the strengthening of fascist-leaning groups, which have the direct and indirect support of central and local government in several states—a worrying scenario for millions of black, Latino and other ethnic citizens.
Instead of intervening in its own country to resolve these human rights issues and social welfare issues, the US has shown false ‘concern’ for welfare and human rights in Venezuela, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Ukraine and under that pretext, launched invasions and aggressions on these countries. Behind these illegal actions are an ulterior motive, that is revealed by another indicator—the US is ranked number one in the world in military spending. As of 2019, the United States has a military budget of over 680 billion dollars, more than the combined military spending of the next seven nations with the largest military budgets: China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The US is not the world leader in economic freedom—it ranks 12th in the Index of Economic Freedom published annually by the Heritage Foundation; nor is it the world leader in GDP growth, where it is ranked 147 out of 224 countries. The United States is a military empire, its economy is based on war, and no action taken in the name of ‘humanitarian aid’ is meaningful when its government’s interest is to promote chaos for its own benefit.
Against this background, what the world is experiencing is a drowning kick from a declining superpower. That is why it is trying so desperately to cling to its last remaining bastion of influence in the world—Latin America—ergo its fixation with Venezuela and other nations in the region. For if the US was really interested in helping, it is time for it to seriously consider intervening, with the same intensity, in its own country.
Meher Engineer: A Requiem for a Man of Reckonable Height Meheryar Hosang Engineer was born on December 20, 1940 in