How the U.S. Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries: A Review

“Trump’s use of ‘sh*thole’ offered an opportunity to explain the realities of U.S. foreign policy to the people.”

  • Danny Haiphong

Cynthia McKinney has been on the frontlines of the struggle for global peace for decades. Known first as a dissenting voice in Congress and then for her work in exposing the truth about the U.S.-led wars on the Palestinian, Libyan, and Black people here in the United States, McKinney’s voice is seldom heard in the arena of corporate politics. She has long understood that one of the most critical tasks of this historical juncture is the mobilization of the masses to stop the endless wars waged by U.S. Empire. In a series of essays written by activists, scholars, and analysts from across the political spectrum, McKinney shows through practice what this should look like. Her new book How the U.S. Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries is an invaluable piece of literature that seeks to transform anti-war ideas into an anti-war movement.

The book challenges the liberal ethos that Trump’s vulgar “sh*thole” comments in January of 2018 were some aberration or detached from reality. Liberal elites work hard to erase the realities of racism and war by claiming the moral high ground of respectability politics. Their criticisms of Trump center around his foul language to distract from the role that they play in the creation of “sh*thole” countries. McKinney and the rest of the authors condemn Trump for characterizing Haiti and African nations such as Nigeria as “sh*tholes while attempting to answer a question that neither racist demagogues nor liberal elites dare to ask: What exactly causes the massive suffering experienced around the world?

“How the U.S. Creates ‘Sh*thole’ seeks to transform anti-war ideas into an anti-war movement.”

The text wastes no time in identifying the U.S. as the primary source of the “sh*thole” conditions found in every corner of the planet. U.S.-led devastation is broken down into four sections. The first section lays bare the broad effects of U.S. imperialism worldwide and the millions of people that the system has displaced, impoverished, and murdered. More specific cases are presented in the next section, including the U.S. role in the colonial occupation of the Palestinian people and the contemporary impact of the U.S.’ use of Agent Orange chemical warfare and landmines to kill and poison the Vietnamese people. The last two sections deal with the propaganda mill of the U.S.  Empire. Contributors end the text by conducting a thorough analysis of how the U.S. is itself a “sh*thole” country.

What makes this book special is the purpose behind it. From the first page, it is obvious that the authors are not merely attempting to teach others about the horrors of U.S. foreign policy. This is an important function of the text but not its central one. As McKinney herself explains in the introduction, “This book presents new analyses of old narratives that wither under scientific scrutiny and calls for a new, innovative vision for US policy created by courageous leadership, like that shown everyday by the contributors of this book.” …


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