The secret to understanding US foreign policy

The Anti-Empire Report

In one of his regular “Reflections” essays, Fidel Castro recently discussed United States hostility towards Venezuela. “What they really want is Venezuela’s oil,” wrote the Cuban leader.[1] This is a commonly-held viewpoint within the international left. The point is put forth, for example, in Oliver Stone’s recent film “South of the Border”. I must, however, take exception.

In the post-World War Two period, in Latin America alone, the US has had a similar hostile policy toward progressive governments and movements in Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and Bolivia. What these governments and movements all had in common was that they were/are leftist; nothing to do with oil. For more than half a century Washington has been trying to block the rise of any government in Latin America that threatens to offer a viable alternative to the capitalist model. Venezuela of course fits perfectly into that scenario; oil or no oil.

This ideology was the essence of the Cold War all over the world.

The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away. To express this striving for dominance numerically, one can consider that since the end of World War Two the United States has:

  • Endeavored to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  • Waged war/military action, either directly or in conjunction with a proxy army, in some 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of some 30 countries.
  • Suppressed dozens of populist/nationalist movements in every corner of the world.[2]

The United States institutional war machine has long been, and remains, on automatic pilot.


[1] Reflections by Comrade Fidel, “What they want is Venezuela’s oil“, September 27, 2010

[2] A link to any of the first five lists can be obtained by writing to William Blum at The sixth list has not yet been uploaded to the Internet.

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William Blum

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of numerous books, including "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower". 

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  • The USA is a ‘host body’ for large multinational corporations and powerful private interests which pursue neoliberal reform.

    They aim to privatise all public assets, deregulate prices, drop wages, increase profit.

    Oil is important insofar as it is also crucial to the ‘host body’s’ growth, and it is highly lucrative for the corporations that appropriate it.

    ‘Neoliberal imperialism’ defines US foreign policy perfectly.

  • Nation of the world always want some sort of security. This looks like a business security. The dreadful th ing about this is the fact that some nation overdo it, with hostility.

  • Non-Apologetic American

    Wow, we’re a horrible people aren’t we? Funny how many people want to come and be part of all this horror, isn’t it? We must really have a good sales pitch, wait, oh ya – freedom, and then there’s that Constitution thing. Then that little thing about freedom from religious persecution and maybe something to do with “the land of opportunity”. I can’t figure out why all those people want to join us in this grand experiment, I’m flummoxed…

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