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February 16, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Foreign Policy in One Short Paragraph

This is from the March 10, 1919 diary entry of Cary Grayson, Woodrow Wilson's personal doctor:

…the President said…that if the present government of Germany is recognizing the soldiers and workers councils, it is delivering itself into the hands of the bolshevists [sic]. He said the American negro returning from abroad would be our greatest medium in conveying bolshevism to America. For example, a friend recently related the experience of a lady friend wanting to employ a negro laundress offering to pay the usual wage in that community. The negress demands that she be given more money than was offered for the reason that "money is as much mine as it is yours." Furthermore, he called attention to the fact that the French people have placed the negro soldier in France on an equality with the white men, and "it has gone to their heads."

That one paragraph truly contains everything you need to know about U.S. foreign policy:

1. It's built on a foundation on upper class twit urban legend. Who knows what really happened with the "friend of a friend" of Woodrow Wilson. But I think we can be certain that, if the "negress" actually did exist, she didn't ask for more money than usual because she was inspired by bolshevism to say "money is as much mine as it is yours."

This reminds me of the time shortly after the 1992 Los Angeles riots when the nephew of a huge Hollywood producer told me he'd heard that all the black people in Compton were making plans for next time, when they were going to come burn down the three B's: Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Sure, you bet.

2. The terrifying danger that the U.S. upper crust perceived in 1919 wasn't that the lower orders were going to stage a Bolshevik revolution. It wasn't even that they were going to try to get the right to vote and have a voice in the government. It was that they were asking for a raise.

(Also, worker councils were not a good idea that made workplaces run better, but pure revolutionary bolshevism. If you paid attention to the right-wing freakout over the UAW trying to organize the VW plant in Chattanooga, you saw nothing whatsoever has changed.)

3. The terrifying danger wasn't coming from just any part of the lower orders, it was from the teeming non-white masses who want to take all our money.

4. What was the the natural response to the threat of a slight change in political and economic power within the U.S.? It was to invade another country (in this case, the nascent Soviet Union), together with the other main white powers, the UK and France.

You can draw a direct line from this diary entry to every foreign policy action taken by the U.S. in the past 95 years.

P.S. The house where Cary Grayson and his family once lived in Washington, D.C. is now the administration building of Sidwell Friends, the private school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.


—Jon Schwarz

Posted at February 16, 2014 10:48 AM

Another 'pwoggie'. The more things change...

Posted by: par4 at February 16, 2014 03:51 PM

THE RICH will dive after a nickel rolling in front of a bus, like a pigeon after a bag of popcorn. They are scared shitless that it would be the last nickel in the world and without it they'd have to live like POOR PEOPLE.
TAX THE RICK AT 91%, JUST LIKE IKE DID.(and fuck'em if they don't like it)

Posted by: Mikre Meyer at February 16, 2014 11:53 PM

Please take the advice of these wise automated internet advertising robots and keep writing. It's not their fault they were only programmed to sell weight loss pills.

Posted by: Daruma at February 17, 2014 10:18 AM

Hi Jon,

I second Daruma's comment. It is sad that most of the comments to this post were produced by automated spamming bots, so I am posting to let you know that are some non-robotic persons also reading your posts. So, yes, please do keep writing. We enjoy reading your posts, and wish there were more of them.

Incidentally, the attach on Russia by the Western powers in 1918 seems to be a very obscure historical event, perhaps for understandable reasons. I have seen Noam Chomsky refer to it in one place, but otherwise cannot think of anyone else who has. Before now, that is. Of course, I don't make a habit of reading about Russian history.

The Wikipedia entry says "The Allied intervention and its foreign troops were effectively used by the Bolsheviks to argue that their enemies were backed by Western capitalists."

That Western capitalists were backing the atack strikes me as a factual observation, and hardly needs to be argued.

Posted by: Faheem at February 17, 2014 10:52 AM

I'm reading too, just to let you know there's another non-spam-bot in the audience. I enjoy the bots, though. They're much funnier than I am when I'm trying to be funny. On a comic's version of the Turing Test, they'd pass and I'd fail.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at February 17, 2014 12:14 PM

U.S. foreign policy is motivated by power & profit, not "upper class twit urban legend." Urban legends are one way to rationalize it, but they are not its foundation.

Mr. Schwartz doesn't know enough about that period in history. There is a huge difference between a works council (like what was discussed in Chattanooga recently) and the workers councils that spread around the world in 1917-20. Workers councils overthrew the provisional government in the Russian Revolution, putting the Bolsheviks in power. Those councils nominally ran the Soviet Union's government. The Russian word for "council" is "Soviet." There are a lot of other problems with this post, too.

Posted by: Robin at February 17, 2014 10:14 PM

Robin: I believe that power+profit+foreign policy= an upper class thang. TRUE, my only experience in foreign policy was as an Army Private, in which situation there was no power or profit, BUT I do understand that those who do profit from foreign policy power tend to end up rich and living well off= upper class. (example: Dick Cheney)(example: The Bush Family)(example: Tony Hayward of BP)example: Queen Of England + family)(example: The Clintons)(example: John Kerry&kin)(how about John Bolton or Negroponte)(the Rockefellers)(The Kennedys)(Jamie Diamond) (Blakenfeld)(Bono?)
That's just a few that I can think of for now. Pretty much the only middle class or poor folks that I could name "benefiting" from OUR foreign policy(I like to call it Frankenforeign policy) end up in a uniform of some sort, which Frankenly, looks more like a form of service than profitability, what with being shot at and all.
Personally, although I wasn't yet born back then, I can see THE RICH choking over anyone asking for a raise, ESPECIALLY a female of a minority persuasion.
Back then Bolshevism was the generic hate term used as every other word in "polite" hate conversation, much like communist is used today. (example: Ted " ass scratch fever" Nuggent)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 18, 2014 07:53 PM