Blowback from the School of the Americas

Fourth of July Editorial by Don Chapin

Blowback, politically a CIA-coined word, adapted from firearms usage, for reactions to adversely-programmed situations… the unintended/unforeseen/unexpected adverse results of an action or situation.

The School of the Americas was established in 1946 in the U.S.-controlled Panama Canal Zone as the Latin American Center—Ground Division. In July 1963, the school acquired its current name, and Spanish became its official language.
Since 1946, more than 57,700 officers, cadets, and non-commissioned officers from Latin America and the United States have been trained at the School of the Americas. The School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, now located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Critics have labeled the School of the Americas a “school for dictators.” Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” From this Spanish-only curriculum, the SOA, supported by U.S. taxpayers, have left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. For this reason the School of the Americas has been historically dubbed the “School of Assassins.” While it ignores congressional concern and public outcry over the SOA’s past and present link to human rights atrocities, due to such outcries, on January 17, 2001 it was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). However, a comparison of the mission and classes shows that there no change in purpose between the new school and the ‘old’ SOA.

The new school is substantially the same as the SOA it purports to replace. The issues raised by critics of the SOA are not addressed by the recently enacted changes. As the United States is pouring money, military hardware and military training into Colombia and SOA human rights abusers continue to operate with impunity in Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere, these issues remain as crucial and immediate as ever. “South American militaries have been sending soldiers to the U.S. for ‘ethics’ and ‘human rights’ training for years, but history shows that many of these alumni go on to become notorious torturers and murderers, not defenders of peace.” ~ Ramona Wadi

Why this emphasis on the SOA and its successor? The influx of Latin American refugees is a direct result of the military training our U.S. Army provides to the South American militaries and police, who then use that training to ‘control’ their own people, stifling dissent and democratic processes…blowback. Therefore, WE, the U.S., are directly responsible for those refugees that tRump’s administration is abusing at our border…those seeking internationally-recognized asylum (and being refused) from U.S.-financial violence inflicted by our own capitalist system as pointed out by Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler in his 1935 book “War is a Racket” and reinforced by today’s references such as “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins.

“Confessions of an Economic Hitman” is an account of the career of John Perkins. He worked as an economic consultant to a mid-sized firm that worked hand in hand with the US government in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. 

He explains how the system of economic control of underdeveloped countries work. Something like this…

The US would approach a country’s leaders to get them softened up. A consultant firm (like the one John Perkins belonged to) would go to the country and draw up plans for development of their resources/economy. They would fudge figures and recommend building dams, power plants, mines etc. Usually these plans would have no comprehensive reasons to be, but it looked good on paper. 

They then would go the World Bank, IMF and get loans to build these infrastructures. The work would be mainly contracted out to foreign (US or European) companies which would take great profits in construction, while giving kickbacks to the governments in charge. 

In the end, outside of ruling elites, the people of the country benefited little, the foreign corporations benefited greatly and the country would be saddled with the debt owed to taxpayers of developed countries. In a way it allowed large corporations to get rich off of the taxes of first world countries. 

In the case of LDC (less developed countries) leaders not going along with the plans of development, Perkins explains that if he (the economic hitman) failed to reel the country in, the ‘jackals’ (CIA et al) would arrange for that leader to be removed. If the ‘jackals’ failed, the ‘boots’ (SOA-trained ‘foreign’ military…i.e. invasion) would likely occur. 

So basically, an economic hit man was the first step in making a non-aligned underdeveloped country align itself to democratic developed nations and become chained in debt it couldn’t afford.

Peasants eventually objecting to the high taxes imposed to support such activities would “run into” the troops trained and equipped at the SOA.

Ergo, the blowback from the SOA activities, its successor and Wall Street economic predators is the stream of asylum seekers that the tRump administration calls ‘animals’ while ripping apart non-white families (therefore non-human in his mind, but exactly in tune with the military training which he carefully avoided with “documented” “bone spurs”).

Sound too simplistic? Not really when you consider the frustrations of a U.S. electorate that put someone as ill-qualified as tRump in office…blind, non-thinking reactions on the part of the public to a seemingly hopeless status quo of corruption well entrenched among both political parties.

Inspired by the article “Blood, Soil and Trauma,” by Patricia J. Williams, “The Nation” magazine of July 16/20, 2018.

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