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January 15, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-01-15

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0

OPINION
Wednesday, January 15, 1986

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

0

be ftiCgan 4atl
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Media1
By Brian Leite
This article concludes a threes

distort foreign policy

r
part series

Vol. XCVI, No. 74

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

i

Building a dream

M ARTIN Luther King Jr.
devoted his life to fighting
bigotry and promoting racial un-
derstanding. This great leader's
birthday provides an excellent op-
portunity to reaffirm his ideal of
nonviolent resistance and to vow
the fulfillment of his dream.
King, inspired by the example of
Gandhi and the writings of
Thoreau, led the civil rights
struggle through peaceful demon-
strations. From the Montgomery
boycott of 1957 to the March on
Washington in 1963, King showed
the effectiveness of nonviolence as
a means toward reform. King's ef-
forts led to passage of the
monumental voting and civil rights
acts of 1965, the first legislation of
its type since the Civil War.
Despite these achievements,
King died with his work incom-
plete, and 18 years later his dream
remains unfulfilled. Bigotry still
lives, as is clear in the racist grafit-
ti permeating the campus.
Minority enrollment, though up
slightly from years past, still in-
dicates a disproportionately small
percentage of black students at the
Wo man
Three cheers for Barbara Black,
the 52 year old mother of three and
recently appointed dean of Colum-
bia Law School. Her position as the
first woman to lead an elite school
marks an encouraging signal to
professional women.
The brilliant and most important
message of Black's achievement
is that a career encompasses an en-
tire life, and does not have to be
limited to a narrow focus or a
single job. The willingness of
women to adopt this attitude is
essential to their personal
fulfillment.
Black has shown that
motherhood and professionalism
are not mutually exclusive. On the
contrary, such richness of personal
experience brings a priceless depth
and perception to any job.
Black's accomplishment
necessitates the support of in-
dividuals in her life, like her
husband and children, as well as

University. With these facts in
mind, civil rights advocates here
on campus will commemorate
King's achievements while
focusing on the difficult work that
lies ahead. Included in the com-
memoration activities will be a
speech by Joseph Lowery,
president of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, and a
unity march from Trotter House to
the Diag.
The institution of King's birthday
as a national holiday demonstrates
a national appreciation of the im-
portance of King's message and the
need to continue his fight. Im-
proving affirmative action laws
and enforcement of the Voting
Rights Act are of crucial importan-
ce, as are efforts at combatting
poverty, a condition that hurts
blacks disproportionately.
King's accomplishments are
many. He improved the American
racial climate and made
significant gains for blacks and
other minority groups. The obser-
vation of his birthday signifies the
recognition of a great man, an in-
comparable leader, and the ar-
chitect of an essential struggle.
Swork
the farsightedness and wisdom of
people at Yale who appreciated the
contribution she could make to
academia by gaining the incom-
parable experience of raising
children.

How does one account for U.S. sponsorship
of systematic violence and exploitation
throughout the world? Noam Chomsky has
remarked, "Across the entire spectrum of
debate it is pre-supposed that the U.S., alone
in modern history, acts out of a commit-
tment to abstract moral principles rather
than rational calculation by ruling groups
concerned for their material interests."
The ruling group in the U.S. is that class of
individuals who control and profit from the
dominant enterprises of the private sector
(which, of course, includes much of the
national media): the top corporate
executives and owners, stockbrokers and
investment bankers, corporate lawyers.
These individuals have since WWII, as a
matter of fact, staffed most of the key
foreign and domestic policy-making
positions of the federal government. (In the
Reagan Administration, for example, Shultz
and Weinberger are former corporate
executives, Baker a corporate lawyer,
Regan a top N.Y. stockbroker, and Deputy
Sec. of State Whitehead a retired invest-
ment banker.) Policy, accordingly, is
designed to protect and advance the in-
terests and needs of the major enterprises of
the private sector.
It is not surprising, of course, that this
should be so. After all, the livelihood of the
policymakers has derived from this sector,
and their hearts and minds are closest to the
needs and realities of this sector.
What is remarkable, however, is the ex-
tent to which those not intimately connected
with this ruling group (e.g. academics,
reporters, lesser political functionaries)
have internalized the legitimizing message
that the U.S is a moral foreign policy actor.
In this way, the system perpetuates itself
throughout.
Thus, one could not imagine a New York
Times reporter submitting, say, an article
documenting U.S. support for the genocide
in East Timor, though comparable articles
have appeared in the European press. The
reporters and his editors have already inter-
nalized the message that the U.S. basically
serves noble ends through its foreign policy,
though it sometimes makes mistakes. A
vivid account of U.S.-backed atrocities
would make them uneasy; it would be met
with incredulity, suspicion. Such an account
would not fall into the realm of understan-
dable or acceptable phenomena:
psychologically speaking, it is therefore
likely that it will be rejected. Given that we
can hardly ever know the full facts of any
situation, we frequently fall back on
seemingly intuitive organizing conceptions
of the world in assessing new information;

the difficulty is that the organizing concep-
tions surrounding U.S. foreign policy are not
supported by the historical record.
It is worth digressing a moment to note
that it is particularly disturbing to observe
the extent to which many academics -
whose very enterprise is critical reflection
and study - subscribing to the very
language and model of foreign policy which
the evidence fails to support. It almost
defies belief that in the wake of the brutal
aggression and war in Vietnam, the con-
tinued and bloody U.S. involvement in Cen-
tral America, and the endless series of ex-
poses of government lies and inventions
(e.g. the Pentagon Papers, the White Paper
on El Salvador), that we should still find
academic writing on international affairs
talking calmly, almost platonically, about
U.S. "security" interests, U.S. policies for
promoting democracy, U.S. strategies for
resisting the spread of communism and U.S.
concern for the developing countries. The
activities of large and essentially amoral
power constellations, whether they be
Soviet or American, are simply not
adequately described by a language of
reasons and motives more appropriate to a
philosophical dialogue. This is not to
suggest, by the way, that adoption of a rigid
Marxist framework would be a positive
development: quite the contrary, though
illuminating, the limitations of such
analyses are, I take it, apparent to most at-
tentive scholars of contemporary affairs.
What is called for is an abandonment of an
Enlightenment descriptive apparatus in
favor of a critical approach which pays at-
tention to non-rational forces.
In any event, why should we accept the
thesis of ruling class interests as deter-
minative of American foreign policy as a
more plausible analytic framework? Con-
sider these facts:
* The U.S. depends on getting all its
tropical foodstuffs (e.g. cocoa, coffee) from
Third World nations.
*American industry depends on getting
much of its: manganese from Brazil and
South Africa; chromium from South Africa;
foreign copper from Chile and Peru; tin
from Indonesia, Thailand, and Bolivia.
*U.S.-backed fascist regimes have always
welcomed and protected U.S. investments
and U.S. exploitation of natural resources
and labor. Following the '64 Brazilian coup,
enormous iron ore concessions were gran-
ted to Hanna Mining and Bethelehem Steel;
following the '65 Dominican Republic in-
vasion, Gulf & Western moved in to take
over much of the food industry; the list goes
on. Wherever the U.S. has installed a fasc-
ist regime, the pattern is the same: an im-
mediate influx of investment. In addition,
because these regimes terrorize and sup-
press reformist movements and labor
unions, maximum profits on investments

are reaped by the local and U.S. elite, while
poverty remains the local norm.
*Even where the immedite economic in-
terest is not strong, the U.S. still has a
general interest in crushing populist
movements lest a precedent be set for
widespread resistance to U.S. domination
(this seems to have been one of the main
motives and goals in Vietnam - unable to
achieve this goal, the U.S. settled for
devastating the country and its agricultural
base). This theory by the way is merely the
widely cited Domino Theory stated in
slightly different terms.
Even if these facts are unconvicing, there
remain numerous instances where ruling
groups and their spokesmen have ar-
ticulated U,.S. policy fairly straightforwar-
dly. During WWII, the Council onfForeign,
Relations produced a revealing set of reports
stressing the need for limiting the*
sovereignty of foreign nations to the extent
that such sovereignty hinders U.S.
economic prosperity and noting that, "The
interests of other people should be stressed,
not only those of Europe, but also for Asia
Africa and Latin America. This would have
a better propaganda effect."
In 1969, Assis. Sec. of State Charles Meyer
publically affirmed the need to "protect;
American .investment" (though not in-
dicating at what cost). With the U.S. loss of
Vietnam, Business Week in an editorial of
4/7/75 remarked that "the international
economic structure under which U.S. com-
panies have flourished since the end of
WWII, is in jeopardy,;" and reminisced that
"No matter how negative is a development
(e.g. Third World populism), there was
always the umbrella of American power to
contain it ... The rise of the multinational
corporation was the economic expression of
this political framework."
And in 1977, at the height of the Nazi-like
bloodbath in Argentina, David Rockefeller
made most apparent America's foreign-
policy value system: "I have the impression
that finally Argentina has a regime which┬░
understands the private enterprise
system."
A relatively humane political system at
home does not guarantee humane conduct of
external affairs. Nor does the affirmation of:
moral ends by popular and seemingly
civilized leaders necessarily correspond to
the real pursuit of other ends and interests
these leaders are also committed to serve.
The prevalence of continued sentimentality
about America's objectives and the recent.
upsurge in infantile macho rhetoric assumes'
that Reagan's reassertion of traditional
hegemonic drives should be successful. It 6
remains to be asked what university com-
munities are making to the understanding
and alteration of these events.

Leiter is a graduate student in law and
philosophy.

Rather than c
into structural
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