The United States has had four presidents who received the Nobel Peace Prize. I haven’t checked, but I presume that’s a record for heads of state. All four have left their imprint on Latin America, “our little region over here that has never bothered anybody.” That’s how Secretary of War Henry Stimson described the hemisphere in May 1945. He was at that time explaining to the world what the post-war global system would be, and one of its conditions would be that all regional organizations must be disbanded, with the exception of our own, which are to be expanded, including “our little region over here,” the Western hemisphere. . . . His position was correct, as others explained, for example a very influential liberal Democrat Abe Fortas, who said that for us to expand our system, including “our little region over here,” is “part of our obligation to the security of the world” because “what is good for us is good for the world.” That’s self-evident. Well, if we look through the four presidents and their imprint, it was significant. So, let’s start with Theodore Roosevelt, the first one.
Roosevelt was a shocking racist. I don’t use the analogy lightly, but it’s a fact that you have to go to the Nazi archive to find anything similar. So, here’s a couple of his examples about our little region here. “[T]he expansion of the peoples of white, or European, blood during the past four centuries . . . has been fraught with lasting benefit to most of the peoples already dwelling in the lands over which the expansion took place.” That’s despite what the remnants of Native Americans or Blacks or Filipinos or others might mistakenly believe. Actually, genocide denial has been a leading and highly valued feature of the intellectual and moral culture in the United States and remains so right until the present. . . . With regard to the conquest of a half of Mexico, Roosevelt explained that it was “inevitable,” and “in the highest degree desirable for the good of humanity at large, that the American people should ultimately crowd out the Mexicans.” It was “out of the question to expect” Texans to “submit to the mastery of the weaker race.” And, of course, stealing Panama from Colombia was also “in the highest degree desirable for the good of humanity.” I won’t go on with Teddy Roosevelt, whose statue graces Mount Rushmore.
The second Nobel Peace Prize laureate was Woodrow Wilson, the most honored and arguably the most vicious and brutal of the Nobel Prize laureates. His invasion of Haiti, for example, killed thousands of people, maybe 20,000 according to Haitian historians, restored virtual slavery, and left much of the country in ruins. Wilson is famous as an apostle of democracy, and he demonstrated his love of democracy by sending the marines in to disband parliament at gunpoint, for a good reason: they had refused to pass what was called a progressive legislation that allowed US corporations to buy up the country. Therefore they were kicked out, but since we do believe in elections, there was a referendum under marine rule in which 5% of the population participated and 99% voted for the progressive legislation, so American corporations proceeded to buy up what remained of Haiti, which was once the richest colony in the world — that’s worth remembering — now maybe the symbol of hopelessness and despair, a tribute to the West. At the same time, Wilson sent the marines to invade the Dominican Republic. That was almost as bad as Haiti, but not quite, because, as the military commanders pointed out, in the Dominican Republic, there were Spics, not niggers, so you had to treat them a little better — not much but some. Both countries were left under the rule of vicious National Guards, the policy that had been first instituted in the Philippines a few years earlier. . . . All of this comes down to us in history under the framework of what is called Wilsonian idealism, which is a leading principle of US foreign policy. . . .
The third presidential Nobel laureate was Jimmy Carter, for whom human rights was “the soul of our foreign policy.” His policies in Latin America were explained by Robert Pastor — he is a Latin American specialist and way at the dovish extreme. Pastor explained why the administration had to support the murderous Somoza regime in Nicaragua and, when they could no longer sustain him, they had to try to sustain, maintain, the US-trained National Guard even — I’m quoting Pastor now — even after it was massacring the population “with the brutality a nation usually reserves for its enemy,” killing some 40,000 people. And the reason why the Carter administration had to keep supporting them is elementary: to quote Pastor again, “The United States did not want to control Nicaragua or the other nations in the region, but it also did not want to allow developments to get out of control. It wanted Nicaraguans to act independently, except when doing so would affect U.S. interests adversely.” That’s a fair statement of policy at the dovish extreme. . . .
Well, onto the fourth Nobel laureate, our President Obama. . . .
Filmed by Paul Hubbard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on 15 December 2009. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the video.