the cia and the marshall plan

The partnership with gangster drug traffickers in Sicily was mirrored in the CIA’s partnership with the Corsican underworld in Marseilles, a battleground in the Cold War. The labor unions, dominated by Communists, were strong and dockworkers were refusing to load military supplies on French ships headed to French Indochina, where Ho Chi Minh was leading the fight for independence. Also, Marseille was a major entrepôt for supplies shipped into Europe under the Marshall Plan.


In 1945 a coalition of Communists and Socialists swept to power in Marseilles and made it an early order of business to declare war on the Corsican gangs. Such developments alarmed not only the Corsican gangsters but the United States and Charles de Gaulle as well. A counterattack was swiftly organized.

The aim was to divide and conquer by splitting the fragile left coalition. The CIA turned to American organized labor in the form of the AFL-CIO, which, from the end of the war to the early 1950s, funneled $1 million a year to the Socialists, the price tag being severance of all political ties to the Communists. By 1947 De Gaulle’s party had regained power, and Marseilles’ new mayor was the right-wing Michele Carlini. He imposed an austerity regime that included hikes of bus fares that soon prompted strikes and boycotts, culminating in a large rally on November 12, 1947 after [Corsican mobster Berthelmy] Guerini’s thugs, acting on Carlini’s orders, had attacked Communist members of the city council.

In response to these attacks, people poured into the streets, only to be met by a fusillade of bullets fired into them by the Guerinis and their men. Dozens were wounded and one man was killed. Although there were plenty of witnesses identifying the Guerinis, Carlini’s prosecutors declined to press charges. A general strike broke out across France, with 3 million workers walking off their jobs. In Marseille the docks fell silent.

The CIA sent a team to Marseille with arms and cash for the Guerinis, which were duly delivered by CIA officer Edwin Wilson […]. The CIA’s gangster agents embarked on a swift program of executive action, killing key strike organizers, paying legions of scab workers and stirring up riots on the docks. By early December the strike had been broken.

Three years later the pattern was repeated. Once again a strike closed down the Marseilles waterfront, aimed specifically at shipments of weapons and supplies destined for French forces in Indochina. Once again the CIA, working with the French Secret Service (SDECE), rallied the Guerinisto lead a terror campaign against the strikers. CIA funds sluiced into Marseilles, and into the Guerini bank accounts. Again the strike was beaten down, with many union organizers murdered, often by being pitched off the docks.

–Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press

anonymous asked:

Do you thing America's imperialism was justified? We had a whole debate about this in history class and I'm not sure whether to support or condone the US actions.

I’m not sure why this is debatable tbh. To me it’s clear cut. Imperialism- whether committed by the US or any other country- is pretty much never justified. For the simple fact that it’s ultimately a parasitical system about entrenching one powerful country’s interest over others and this inevitably involves oppression and violence. It’s inherent in the very definition of the word. Yes, imperialism has been a thing throughout human history. But being ubiquitous =/= justified or good. It just says humans are pretty shitty…

For example, the Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union was hardly something where the US consistently fought to preserve democracy and human rights. Many hideous dictatorships that committed tremendous amounts of human rights abuses were supported with American money because those dictators promised to be staunch anti-Communists. Did US foreign policy benefit some countries after WW2? Sure it did. The Marshall Plan, the economic recovery of Germany and Japan. An example where US interests happened to coincide with those of the people in those countries. (The US believed giving Europe money to recover economically was essential to prevent the re-emergence of fascism or spread of Communism.) But you’re asking me about US imperialism- and for a lot of people in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle-East- there was no Marshall Plan, no encouragement of democracy but only awful dictators bankrolled with American dollars. Of course from the position of the CIA or whoever, that was acceptable collateral damage to check Soviet influence. The “lesser evil” from their point of view. 

US foreign policy has often been very, very far away from its stated ideals of supporting human rights and democracy. I will not say that the US is solely responsible for all the problems in the world today because in truth it isn’t (there are a lot of other players in this multipolar world). But any sort of imperialism- not just US imperialism- more or less tends to involve violence because it’s about a powerful country seeking to prioritise its interests and extend its influence. For every instance you had something like the Marshall Plan or the US supporting the Indonesian rebels fighting to end Dutch colonial rule, you had the likes of the Shah of Iran or Chile’s Pinochet (two American-backed dictators kept in power via a US-backed coup, who both committed tremendous amounts of human rights abuses against Iranians and Chileans). Lots of countries like Russia and China similarly proclaim all sorts of ideals to dress up their imperialist behaviour in something more palatable but imperialism is what it is.