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Not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama declared the “End of
History,” arguing that the U.S. victory in the Cold War signaled “the end-point of mankind’s
ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form
of human government.” With the Soviet bloc no longer standing in their way, U.S. leaders set
out to organize a new world order, turning the “bipolar” Cold War world into a unipolar
Western world, with the U.S. at the helm.
Debates about the U.S. role in the world did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union, however.
After the invasion of Iraq, conservative British historian and advisor to John McCain’s 2008
presidential campaign, Niall Ferguson argued in his book Colossus that Americans needed
accept the idea that America is, and always has been, an empire. Ferguson argued that despite
denials by most Americans, a self-conscious American empire willing to occupy other places
and engage in “nation building” for decades would be the best outcome. For Ferguson, this
self-conscious American imperialism was far preferable to what he considers to be the
blundering, half-hearted, and timid American operations overseas. This thinking informed
John McCain’s 2008 election call to spend “100 years in Iraq” if necessary.
Others, such as political scientist Michael Parenti, articulated trenchant critiques of American
empire. Not long before splitting with his former friend Bernie Sanders over the latter’s
support for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Parenti wrote his 1995 work Against Empire.
For Parenti, imperialism was not a benign force but instead “the process whereby the
dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the
land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.” throughout the 20th century, and
continuing into the 21st, the U.S. was the most pernicious imperial actor. Invasions,
occupations, bombings, CIA-backed military coups, economic strangulation, sanctions,
blockades, and covert operations defined U.S. policy towards the “Third World.” These
actions, meant to serve the rapacious needs of U.S. capitalist expansion, were designed to
keep Third World countries poor and destitute while their resources were plundered and
extracted by transnational corporations and political elites, Democrat and Republican alike.
Throughout this course you have engaged with the overarching theme and empire and
imperialism. From the top-down, you have read primary source documents from stateplanners orchestrating the growth of American power and plotting covert operations overseas.
From the bottom-up, you have read opponents of American empire who sought to form
alliances with like-minded internationalist movements across the globe. Finally, you have
read Vincent Bevin’s book The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade & the
Mass Murder Program that Shaped the World.
Your task in this essay is to identify, explain, and analyze the main arguments of Vincent
Bevin’s work. Furthermore, based on what you have learned in this course and your own
knowledge, you must evaluate Bevin’s work in light of the other readings and sources you
have engaged this semester.
You will write a 5-6 page essay answering the following QUESTION: Is Vincent Bevin’s
analysis of the U.S. in The Jakarta Method an accurate portrayal of the U.S. role
in the world during the Cold War?
INTRO: In your introduction, you must forcefully articulate your THESIS (i.e., you must
STAKE A CLAIM). Your argument responding to the prompt should be clear, concise, and
succinct. You must UNDERLINE YOUR ARGUMENT (if you are not sure of your own
argument, how will your TA’s be able to identify it?).
BODY PT 1: In the first part of your essay, you should DISCUSS Bevin’s argument and
material. Address the following questions:
– What is Vincent Bevin’s main argument regarding the U.S. role in the world during
the Cold War? What does he mean by “Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade &
Mass Murder Program”?
– Explain the role of the U.S. in Indonesia during 1965. What happened in Indonesia,
and what did it have to do with the U.S.? Give background and context. How does
Indonesia fit in with Bevin’s main argument?
– Who were some of the main actors devising U.S. policy in the Third World during
the Cold War?
– How do places in South America like Brazil and Chile fit in with Indonesia and the
– In Bevin’s view, what are the 5 ways that the U.S. anticommunist mass murder
program shaped the world?
BODY PT 2: In the second part of your essay, you should EVALUATE Bevin’s arguments
and material. Address the following questions:
– Do you find Bevin’s analysis of the U.S. role in the world during the 20th century
convincing? Why or why not? Give specific examples from his book.
– What are some other historical examples from class, either readings or video
material, that support or detract from Bevins’ argument? You should include as