"I think there is no real argument that the historical lesson for the United States in the 20th Century has been the need for continued strong American involvement. I'm one of those individuals who is looking at the emerging debate as to the direction of American foreign policy, and I'm thinking about three writers in particular: Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan's article called for continued American benevolent hegemony as the pole star of American policy - this is the article in Foreign Affairs magazine setting forth a Republican foreign policy on the one hand, and Richard Haass' latest work analyzing the various strands in the foreign policy debate, dismissing the hegemony call, and arguing for the sheriff, the tough sheriff on the beat. Parenthetically, there is a bit of confusion there, because I think he's actually calling for hegemony, and I asked him the question why he dismissed the hegemony argument so readily, and I wasn't particularly convinced by his answer."
The US maintains to this day over a dozen direct dependencies, the largest of which is Puerto Rico. Its military forces are active over most of the globe: at last audit about 226 countries have US military troops, 63 of which host American bases, while only 46 countries in the world have no US military presence - a projection of military power that makes the Roman, British, and Soviet empires pale in comparison. The bulk of this document will deal with what is alternatively referred to as "neo-colonialism", "hegemony", "proxy rule", or "informal empire": roughly, a system of "dual elite" political rule, in which domestic elites (the proxy) recieve backing from (are dependent on - to varying degrees) a foreign elite, and in return protect (to varying degrees) the foreign power's interests in the country (security, economic, or domestic political interests). This is, at least, the framework within which I use the terms - as it is generally accepted by students of history. To take an explanation cited by Ariel Cohen as "One of the more successful attempts made to create a coherent theory of empires" in Russian Imperialism:
"Empire is a relationship, formal or informal, in which one state controls the effective political
sovereignty of another political society. It can be achieved by force, by political collaboration, by
economic, social, or cultural dependence. Imperialism is simply the process or policy of establishing or
maintaining an empire."
--Michael Doyle, Empires
As a point of reference formal American imperialism begins (or not - one would have to completely ignore the genocide of the native population, African and Native-American slavery, rapid and continuous expansion of the national borders through war, rapid and continuous expansion of mercantilism through war and the threat of war, the ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples, the mid 1800s mercantilist state established in Nicaragua, 100 uninhabited islands of bat shit, etc.) with the aquisition of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Phillipines after the Spanish-American War of 1898. It's a good point to remember how that war started: part hoax, part sensationalized, war mongering "journalism", and of course much talk about the brutality of the enemy and the necessity of our intervention on behalf of the suffering - in this case on behalf of the Cubans and their savage treatment at the hands of the tyrannical Spaniards: much better for them to suffer at our hands.
For the sake of what has become a very very poor attempt at brevity, or in recognition of the precedent set by the Nuremberg Tribunal and principles laid out under the UN charter, these notes will mostly focus on post-WWII history - though it would seem imperative to include interventions that fly in the face of the popular misconception that the United States ended its imperial project at the end of the Spanish-American war. There were military involvements during the 1890s by the United States Government ("USG" hereafter: it's not like it's your or somebody else's fault -- it's an institution with its own prerogatives which rarely accord with those it preposterously claims to represent) in Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Hawaii, Nicaragua, China, Korea, Panama, Samoa, in extremely brutal labour conflicts within the nation, and something akin to a war on working Americans waged by the National Association of Manufacturers that will otherwise go undiscussed. The Phillipines makes a decent representative example of the US' first official exercise in colonial imperialism and formal empire [*], also referred to as "civilizational imperialism" - a project we're presently repeating.
"Lest this seem to be the bellicose pipedream of some dyspeptic desk soldier, let us remember that the military deal of our country has never been defensive warfare. Since the Revolution, only the United Kingdom has beaten our record for square miles of territory acquired by military conquest. Our exploits against the American Indian, against the Filipinos, the Mexicans, and against Spain are on a par with the campaigns of Genghis Khan, the Japanese in Manchuria and the African attack of Mussolini. No country has ever declared war on us before we first obliged them with that gesture. Our whole history shows we have never fought a defensive war. And at the rate our armed forces are being implemented at present, the odds are against our fighting one in the near future."
U.S. Brig. Gen. Jacob H. Smith: "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States."
Major Littleton W. T. Waller: How young?
Smith: Ten years and up.
--Exchange on October 1901, quote from
the testimony at Smith's court martial by the New York Evening Journal (May 5, 1902).
General Smith, a veteran of the Wounded Knee massacre, was popularly known as
"Hell Roaring Jake" or
The "Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation" of the McKinley presidency in 1899 annouced America's intention to be the benevolent dictator over various foreign nations that just happened to all be filled with ruthless, pagan savages.
In a savage conflict America repressed the Filipino independence movement. As in most cases of massacre on the part of the US the number of casualties remains a matter of debate; in this instance 5,000 (of some 120,000 involved) Americans killed with additional casualties later due to disease contracted in the Phillipines, but anywhere between 16,000-20,000 Filipino soldiers and 200,000-600,000 civilian Filipino deaths resulted due to the war, war induced famine, disease, and multiple atrocities, but one would be mistaken to describe the conflict as characterized by brutality. The US continued occupying the Phillipines for another 48 years.
In 1904 the USG takes control of Dominican customs houses by force to collect on international debts, shortly thereafter signing a treaty, with the DR essentially at gun point, ratifying the debt relationship.
Between 1916 and 1924 the US occupies and rules the Dominican Republic. Shortly thereafter General Rafael Trujillo takes control of the country with the National Guard that was created and put under his control by the USG before its exit. During the 30s Trujillo wiped out some 30,000 Dominicans and Haitians in an effort to make his side of the island 'more white'. Trujillo recieved US backing until the mid 1950s, when he was finally placed under economic sanctions for attempting to assassinate the president of Venezuela. A few years later the USG began supporting the conservative opposition to overthrow him, successfully assassinating him in 1961, out of fear that the liberal Constitutionalist opposition would get to it first. Trujillo's son Ramfi was escorted out of the country by the US military.
In 1963 USG-backed militants remove the recently elected president of the Dominican Republic, Juan Bosch - a centrist liberal - to "prevent another Cuba". Two years later Lyndon Johnson sent 22,000 US Marines to land on the island and take control of the country for 17 months after falling sugar prices and political conflict stirred an uprising against the new regime of Donald Reid Cabral. The Marines assist in supressing the rebellion, killing over 4,000 Dominicans and solidifying conservative control over the country, leading to the reinstatement of Trujillo-frontman turned Washington-frontman Joaquin Balaguer, who dragged the country into a nightmare of political violence, electoral fraud, and death squad activity that, by and large, eliminated any possible political opposition to the regime - minus one or two times when Balaguer's masters in Washington yanked his leash for the cameras. The USG continued lavishing military support onto the regime throughout the waves of terror.
A sort of defacto American colonial holding during the mid 19th century - per the East India Company model of a private corporation taking control of a foreign nation with state assistance - US Marines occupy Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933.
In 1927 US Marines enter into a protacted struggle with the guerilla forces of Augusto Sandino, eventually suffering their first defeat against a third world insurgency.
Afterwards, the USG arms, trains, and otherwise props up the barbarous, nepotistic Somoza dictatorship and the National Guard, which holds on to dictatorial power until the Sandinista revolution of 1979.
399 african american sharecroppers are denied treatment for syphilis as part of a US government medical study in 1932.
Exposed by the press in 1972, the government finally shuts down the program over 30 years after
a cure was discovered.
The Federal Housing Administration - a mortage insurance program that helped millions of American families to develop their own property, accumulate capital, and lift them into the middle-class - became an effective state-mandated ghettoization program under blankly racist standards that prevented black neighborhoods and families from recieving the development assistance that their taxes otherwise helped pay for. Likewise, housing deeds included 'restrictive covenants' that prohibited blacks from occupying homes in white neighborhoods, until a 1948 Supreme Court ruling was implemented in 1950 that ruled such contracts unconsistutional. Similar policies excluded most black workers from Social Security coverage and agricultural assistance programs.
These policies re-inforced the status quo on the ground - the racist municipal and business practices of the dominate culture - lifting white America further above its black counterpart while encouraging urban decay and racial segregation. In terms of home ownership the gap between white and black home ownership jumped by 5.5% during the life of the program and left cities highly polarized between underdeveloped inner-city black neighborhoods and highly developed white suburbs. The black home ownership rate doesn't reach the white rate of 1900 until 1970. Fair housing legislation was passed in 1968 but subsequent court rulings show that individual acts of similar discrimination continued well into the present.
--President Johnson to Greek Ambassador, Alexander Matsas, June 1964.
The USG creates the Greek secret police (KYP) and backs military coups in 1949, 1967 and 1973. Dictatorships ruled with US backing during the periods of 1949-1952 and 1967-1974.
Under the ostensible rubric of defending Greece from Soviet aggression the US takes over British efforts to destroy the Greek left, establishing a brutal rightwing dictatorship. Since the original intervention of the Truman Doctrine the USG continued attacking Greece, overthrowing the elected government twice more when Greeks had the terminity to elect governments without Washington's approval.
One apology for this brand of imperialistic hubris is that the 1948 Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia fueled fears in the US government of various nefarious Soviet plots seen and unseen, demanding action. We defer to the US government as to the reality of such fears:
The Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia in 1948 therefore flowed logically from the inauguration of the Marshall Plan program, and was confidently predicted by United States government observers six months in advance of the event.
It is clear from the above that the sudden consolidation of Communist power in Czechoslovakia in 1948 was not a sign of any "new Soviet aggressiveness" and had nothing to do with any Soviet decision to launch its military forces against the West.
Whether US leaders believed their own delusions about the Kremlin or not, it's difficult to lend such pretentions much credit by the time of 1967 coup. As Kennan comments in the Moscow Embassy report, "The attempt to portray the outside world as menacing, whether or nor it actually was so at any given moment, has been part of the stock in trade of Soviet rule." He does not shrink from making the same observation about the West.
But perhaps the easiest question to answer is whether a defense against Communist dictatorships required uncritical moral, political and material support for proto-fascist dictatorships - a highly dubious assumption, and an expensive one in this instance, costing some 150,000 lives. Alternatively one could - for instance - try promoting democracy and human rights.
With their capacity to defend themselves in part defining them as the "second world" the USSR and communist China benefit from little direct Western intervention in the post-war period. Mao, like other Communist leaders, was a close ally during the WWII, and was more effective in organizing resistance to the Japanese Empire than Chiang Kai-Shek because - to paint with a broad brush - Marxist euphimisms played better with peasant serfs long repressed by Chiang's army than reactionary feudal-nationalist doctrines.
During the post-war assemblage of the United Nations China was officially inducted, but the USG officially recognized Kai-Shek's exiled dictatorship in Taiwan as the legitemate government of China (US sponsorship of Kai-Shek lasted for decades, and it was he who cast China's vote in favor of the Korean war on the United Nations Security Council), as compared to Mao's insane dictatorship in China. By at least one count Kai-Shek's US-supported efforts to remain in power cost some 18 million lives, on par with Mao's campaigns to retain power after the revolution, excluding the horrendous famines he unknowingly presided over.
In an attempt to discredit Mao's China the US funnels covert economic aid and directs reforms in Taiwan, working with Kai-Shek's son Chiang Ching-kuo, instituting land reform and providing guidance in modern farming techniques and technology while heralding it as an example of the "free market". The successful development program, which lasted for about ten years, was then used as propaganda, absurdly, for market liberalization elsewhere in the third world - though the US continued to overthrow governments that attempted to institute similar land reforms, as they were indicative of "Communist sympathies" and "Soviet direction".
Amid this diplomatic rivalry between Taiwan and China the US and China were vying over Tibet, with the Chinese-incited Marxist rebellion stirring under the Tibetian aristocratic religious order and the CIA organizing and funding counter-revolutionary groups to compete with competing Red groups, having no better idea to sell, let alone any idea how to intervene productively in the madness swallowing China and, through it, Tibet. It doesn't seem unlikely that the USG would have happily supported the 1950 invasion of Tibet had Chinese Nationalists - who had already made failed efforts to re-aquire Tibet - won the civil war.
No stone among the remaining empires to be left unturned or uncontested. So it goes.
--Ambassador John J. Muccio to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
The USG, with Japanese and South Korean collaborators (under Syngman Rhee - a Korean-American chosen by Chiang Kai Shek to preside over South Korea - curtesy Washington DC), slaughtered one third of the population of Cheju Island in anti-communist purges during the occupation of South Korea from 1945 to 1949. The repression of the population by US, ROK, and Japanese forces purged anywhere between 100,000 and 800,000 'suspected leftists' in the civillian population.
Among other things the anti-communist policy of the USG and the cooperation against the formation of an independent, unified Korea by both Soviets and Americans lead to the North Korean invasion on June 25th, 1950. During the war the USG deliberately targetted civillians caught in the war path, and with some 4 million casualties between all players in the war well over half were civillian casualties.
After the war the anti-Communist doctrine of the USG and Taiwanese governments lead to forced "voluntary" repatriation, where Chinese POWs were terrorized and tortured if they volunteered to be repatriated to China to rejoin their families and loved ones.
"Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. ...
In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers' keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague, and for the Far East, unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."
The historical record suggests that Kennan - for all his somewhat more sound advice on East Asia: the warning of overextension and admittal of US political failure (meaning the simple inability to offer an alternative to Communism that had any popular appeal, despite the existence of numerous alternatives that would undermine Soviet influence but not, per the stated goal, maintain economic disparities) - was largely ignored except on this particular point, as "our unsound commitments" to China continued in Taiwan for many decades. At least until 1979 when the Chinese government was finally formally recognized and given - in what I suppose would be considered sound commitment - backing in the Chinese invasion of Vietnam. The USG has continued "interfering in the internal affairs" of the Phillipines up to the present by propping up one cooperative despot after another, and directly assisting in the repression of internal rebellions. Nevermind that the US more than overstretched itself in Vietnam. The USG did, however, manage dealing in "straight power concepts" to a surreal and terrible degree, and has had little discernable trouble maintaining its "position of disparity". That's such a strange phrase. I would have thought the objective would have been expanding American prosperity, even if it was, as you might imagine it would necessarily be, to the benefit of others.
Vietnam: "Remember! Only you can prevent forests."
"nobody ever told us they were human"
--Lt. Calley, My Lai hearings. 'Calley Pleads for Understanding', New York Times, March 31, p. 1
In a campaign that is probably best described as institutionalized genocide some 1 million Vietnamese combatants and 2-4,000,000 South East Asian civillians (DRV statistics, including Laos and Cambodia) were killed during this US stage of the war (estimated anywhere between 10-20% of the population), with over half the Vietnamese casualties inflicted in South Vietnam, the ostensible protectorate of the United States. Likewise the US managed to kill some 17,000 US troops - one third of all US casualties were reportedly caused by American-deployed landmines and unexploded cluster ordinace.
The CIA's Phoenix program lead to the extra-judicial assassinations of some 20-40,000 civillians alone - or "suspected Communists", nevermind the hundreds of thousands that were subjected to brutal interrogations and internment in American re-education camps. Military intelligence programs differed little in their essential brutality, including torture by field telephone. In violation of international law, among other things, the US utilized chemical warfare (sarin per operation Tailwind is largely discredited, VX perhaps remains a possibility, and massive amounts of toxins - the carcinogen Agent Orange comes to mind - were dumped into the Vietnamese ecosystem, defoliating vast swathes of the country) and scorched earth policies which afflicted not only US and Vietnamese soliders, the former of whom were awarded damages for the exposure, but caused massive civilian casualties and harm that continue to this day, as unexploded ordance and damage to the gene pool caused by chemical agents take their slow toll:
The Vietnamese government estimates 500,000 children have been born with birth defects caused by contamination with Agent Orange and two million suffered cancers and other ill effects - innocent victims of a chemical intended to harm plant life, not humans. But unlike the American soldiers who sprayed the defoliant, they have never received compensation.
--The Independent, "Agent Orange: the legacy of a weapon of mass destruction", 4/3/2006.
The main thrust of this violence was directed towards South Vietnam, who we were purportedly there to protect, or whatever it is we were purpotedly doing; protecting America from Vietnam, I suppose, against their plan to sail over in rafts and crush us with sheer numbers. To have Michael Lind tell it I'm supposed to believe that the NLF's refusal to surrender makes them responsible for the victims of US invasion. So far as Soviet involvement is concerned Ilya Gaiduk argues that Russia was partly responsible for the war due to their lack of actual involvement, however that works. US involvement in Vietnam increased neighboring alliances with the Soviets and forced the Vietnamese into a position of dependency on China and the USSR (they had, after WWII, sought alliances and support from the US to preserve their independence from the French and the Chinese - the latter position eventually lead to their alliances with the Soviets). The Sino-Soviet split in 1960 resulted in China becoming a US ally after the end of the war in 1975, at which point Vietnam turned even further to the Soviets for support against China's history of hegemony over the region.
The US paid for the French campaign between 1945 to 1954 before taking it over directly, beginning a US phase in the Vietnam wars that lasted until 1975. After the end of direct US involvement in Vietnam the US continued waging the conflict for almost two decades afterward. In 1979 China invaded Vietnam with US backing when the USG deployed the carrier Constellation to the Gulf of Tonkin to deter a Soviet response, and gave diplomatic and political backing for the Chinese action - to "teach the ex-colony a lesson" for deposing the pro-Chinese, genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. During the invasion the Chinese destroyed the dikes and canals that were the fundamental basis of agrarian production in Vietnam, and with them much of the country's rice reserves, inducing food shortages exacerbated at the same time by the US-led blockade on the country that, incidentally, lasted until 1994.
In 1986 Nguyen Van Linh, former leader of the NLF, took control of Vietnam's communist party and persued market policies and attempted to re-integrated Vietnam into the global economy. The latter was prevented by successive administrations, which continued the embargo and blocked Western access to - to quote Eisenhower - "the specific value of a locality in its production of materials that the world needs": tin, tungsten, rubber plantations, "and so on".
This curious justification for the war was self-fulfilling: when a population elected a communist (Ho Chi Mihn) with 90% of the vote (an early result that was never called into question) who was extremely friendly towards - and a former operative of - the US, the response was to wage an invasion until, against impossible odds, the population expelled the invader. After the war, which was - by Eisenhower's own lame admission - in part to secure access to raw materials, the response of the invaders was to turn around and block access to those materials with no discernable, rational goal (to "teach Vietnam a lesson"?) for 25 years. The pathology of blind anti-Communism prevented a Western response that quite easily could have curbed a Communist regime's worst excesses and defects by working with a country and its elected leaders that were considerably pro-American, and surprisingly still are.
To prevent Communist atrocities - as the justification for the war was argued even as it was waged - was clearly no long term committment. During the normalization process of the early 1990s the subject of human rights was conspiciously absent, as before and as after. The familiar justifications of spreading humane values such as liberty, justice, and life with military force were entirely absent from post-war relations, when they might have been persued in a nonviolent manner.
Thusly there is the generally acknowledged fact that "In the years since we lost the war, we have won it." In consideration that the French had already bailed on the war as a hopeless enterprise in the mid 50s, that the British told Washington in 1954 that "None of us in London believe that intervention in Indonchina can do anything" (Eden to Dulles, April 25th, refusing Eisenhower's request for British support of the US-French war) and made further efforts to end the war in 1967. Our allies were by and large opposed to the war. The only realistic conclusion is that the war, the deaths of millions upon millions of innocents and the ensuing rise of repressive security states throughout the region due to meaningless destructive games amongst imperial powers, was never in any way justified.
Whoever can sort out the logic behind this insanity wins a cookie.
To state ... that Vietnam wishes to be dependent on Soviet aid ignores entirely its intensive efforts during 1976-1978 to establish economic ties with the West via loans, aid, and investments - efforts it has not abandoned. Its present dependence on the USSR is the consequence of a conscious US and Chinese policy which Assistant Secretary of State John H. Holdridge summed up last June 8: "It is important to keep the Vietnamese isolated politically and economically, and there is agreement on that score."
Agent 19 has yet to receive commendations from the US for his resistance against the Japanese during World War II.
"About the war in Vietnam, all I have to say is [...inaudible...] and that's all I have to say about the war in Vietnam."
After taking control of the Phillipines during WWII the US disarms the largest Filipino anti-Japanese guerilla movement, the Hukbalahap, and installs Manuel Roxas, a Japanese collaborator that General MacArthur pardoned, to run the new government. Roxas' government issues an amnesty for collaborators, bans peasant political organizing, refuses to seat opposition congressmen, and directs a campaign of repression throughout the country.
Formal independence is granted to the Phillipines shortly thereafter, with provisions for a large and perpetual American military presence and special privelidges for American business. Roxa's failed policies, however, lead to the resurgence of the Huk movement.
Roxas and his successor Quirino continue those same policies, using US aid primarily to enrich themselves and wage US supported violence to suppress the Huks. The USG begins supporting Ramon Magsaysay by 1950, who, assisted to power by American Colonel Lansdale, manages to use large quantities of economic aid and political reforms, including land reform, to undermine the primary grievances of the Huk movement, which eventually subsides.
However, Magsaysay and his successors fail to implement long term reforms that could resolve the country's problems and extreme poverty, leading later to further popular unrest, a new insurgency, and another US supported strongman and kleptocrat by the name of Ferdinand Marcos.
Nuclear testing during Operations Crossroads, Sandstone, Greenhouse, Ivy, Castle, Redwing, and Hardtack involved over 60 known atomic and hydrogen bomb tests at Enewetak and Bikini. The testing involved USG imposed exile for thousands of islanders to neighboring atolls, hundreds of whom suffered from radiation poisoning and other exposure related diseases, and dozens committed suicide admidst the derilect conditions of their displacement. The USG could have decided to do anything to avoid this constant string of fiascos at little relative expense (how's an army-engineered ocean-side community in SoCal on a cushy government stipend sound, while we nuke your motherland?): it chose to do nothing.
Also affected by radiation poisoning were Japanese fishermen on a boat called the Lucky Dragon - in part inspiring the Non-Proliferation Treaty between the US and the Soviet Union six years later - and a number of US military personel.
The IEER has apparently estimated the excess deaths from atmospheric testing on all sides and related fallout between 1940-2000 to be 430,000.
General Li Mi retreats with his army of Chinese nationalists into Burma during the Chinese civil war. The US, supporting retreating KMT forces elsewhere, also backs Li Mi's army, which continues to make incursions into China for over a decade.
The Congressional Pike Report, as leaked uncensored to the Village Voice and thusly abandoned by the House in embarassment (the Church Committee was the parallel intelligence review in the Senate), revealed that the since 1948 the USG spent over $65 million dollars (including some Marshall Plan aid) interfering in Italian elections, joining Moscow in support of European anti-communism, by way of neo-fascists and known terrorists.
According to Tim Weiner [Legacy of Ashes, p.298] "every Christian Democrat who ever won a national election in Italy" was backed by the CIA.
Interference in Italy included buying every election from 1948 to 1972 and destroying [search for "Federico Romero", also discussed here] the anti-fascist resistance that had organized powerful unions and worker committees in its fight against Germany, coming to dominate northern Italy shortly after WWII, threatening the old order, and so the USG reaction. Anti-left violence continued well beyond world war two, into the 70s, with CIA backing for the Gladio[*]. Gladio operations were formed throughout Western Europe, for example in Norway (exposed in '78 when an associated arms cache was discovered), which included the operation to track suspected communists as part of the intelligence service.
Similar actions were taken against anti-nazi resistance groups in other liberated territories, for example in Germany, where an average of $6 million was spent supporting the Nazi intelligence network of General Reinhard Gehlen until he was replaced by the CIA in 1954. Related support for Nazis, including giving them safe harbor in the US, was the basis for Operation Paperclip.
US military attache to the CIA, Stephen Meade, with CIA agent Miles Copeland, help coordinate a military coup against the elected government of Syria, establishing Colonel Al-Zaim's military dictatorship, who was promised de facto recognition by the USG in exchange for Syrian ratification of the Trans Arabian Pipeline project. Four and a half months later he is deposed and executed by his co-plotters, leading to a rapid succession of military regimes amid continued US meddling until the present Ba'athist regime took power in 1963.
Organizational and material support for Ukrainian anti-communist resistance movement,
cooperation with the war criminal Mykola Lebed and support for the Prolog Research Corporation extends to the end of the Cold War.
After the war in Thailand - the only state in Southeast Asia to support the Japanese war against the allies - the US supports the Thai military (some $2 billion from 1949-1969), leading to Phibun Songkhram reaquiring dictatorial control after a brief exile to Japan in 1949. With a cooperative military junta in total control of Thailand the US was able to use it as a major base of operations from which to mount its attacks on neighboring Southeast Asian countries throughout its involvement in the Vietnam wars.
USG later supports a military coup in 1976, precipitated by the Thammasat Massacre (carried out by forces that had previously been trained by the CIA) and followed by arrests of over 10,000 students, academics, politicians, and labor activists.
1950-?: Congress for Cultural Freedom/International Association for Cultural Freedom
The locus for a broad cultural black-op, the CIA founds the Congress for Cultural Freedom in 1950 under project QKOPERA, and with support from various foundations and through relationships within the AFL-CIO and media, use it to organize and disseminate propaganda supporting American foreign policy goals. One of the less trivial offenses committed against humanity in this octopus of inanity was a vast criminal conspiracy to impose Abstract Expressionist painting on a distracted world that had enough problems without it.
1950-1999: Puerto Rico
A US colony since the Spanish-American war, the US repeatedly crushed Puerto Rican independence rebellions during the 1950s. For many decades afterward - the last attack was in 1999 - the Puerto Rican independence movement is the primary source of terroristattacks in the United States. Puerto Rico remains under colonial rule.
The US and UK send teams of "free Albanians" to infilitrate and establish paramilitary organizations within Albania to topple Enver Hoxha. The missions are compromised by Kim Philby, a Soviet assett at the head of the British operation [*].
Backing for Polish Freedom and Independence Movement.
After reimposing the old leadership and imposing a new constitution on defeated Japan the US continues to interfere in this new "democracy":
In Japan, in order to prevent the Socialist Party from coming to power through the polls, which seemed likely during the 1950s, we secretly supplied funds to the representatives of the old order in the Liberal Democratic Party. We helped bring wartime Minister of Munitions Nobusuke Kishi to power as prime minister in 1957; split the Socialist Party by promoting and financing a rival Democratic Socialist Party; and, in 1960, backed the conservatives in a period of vast popular demonstrations against the renewal of the Japanese-American Security Treaty.
USG performs chemical and biological weapons tests on US citizens in over 230 US cities and use "hundreds of thousands of military personnel" as human guinea pigs, often without their knowledge or consent.
US suppports Franco's fascist, anti-semitic dictatorship in Spain which had been responsible for executing some 40,000 political prisoners after defeating Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, during which he executed another 100,000.
President Truman begrudgingly begins dealing with Franco in 1950, sending him some $62 million in aid. Eisenhower sends him $1.5 billion. Successive US administrations are openly supportive of Franco's regime until his death in 1975.
Despite the often-cited but unreliable narrative of CIA officer Miles Copeland there is little evidence that the United States had the foreknowledge of the Free Officers Movement coup against King Farouk in July of 1952. Declassified State Department cables uniformly register surprise at the events and confusion about who was in charge (not that it would be completely unheard of for the CIA to keep secrets), and no other party involved in US-Egypt relations corroborates Copeland's account, which is nevertheles recycled endlessly in histories of the coup.
What is well corroborated is that Kermit Roosevelt advised Farouk to form a personal army when they met in February, that Acheson and the Pentagon approved the subsequent $1M military sale to Farouk in April, and that the aid was not shipped in time to make a difference: the officers staged the coup only three months later. The US supported the monarchy to the end.
By 1955 the CIA was actively plotting to remove Nasser.
Matthew Holland, America and Egypt: From Roosevelt to Eisenhower, pp. 22-31. offer's the strongest case that can be made for US persuing a strategy of intentional inaction, but this case still relies too heavily on a single unreliable narrator and an unsourced claim that Acheson actively delayed shipment of military aid.
Coup overthrows elected government of Carlos Prio Socorras. Fulgencio Batista's ruthless regime and his secret police force, the Buro de Represion Actividades Communistas (BRAC) - created by the CIA in 1956 - tortures and kills thousands with US assistance.
Before January 1959, Cuba's economy was dominated by US interests, which owned 40% of the sugar production, including seven of the ten largest estates, 90% of the telephone and electricity utilities, the oil refineries, most of the mining industry, and some of the banks.
After the Korean war the USG re-installs and backs the autocracy of Syngman Rhee until 1960, when the CIA flies Rhee and $20 million in government funds to Hawaii to protect him from the population. Chang Myong is then elected for an unnaturally brief nine-month term, when in 1961 further unrest and the USG supported military coup and dictatorship of Japanese collaborator and suspected commie General Park Chung He overthrows Chang's Second Republic.
Elected to office in 1963, Park later declares martial law in 1972, suspending democracy indefinitely. He also creates the KCIA, an organization 370,000 strong by its third year of existence, the head of which shot Park in the head in 1979. See: Koreagate.
The Iranian parliament nationalizes British oil concessions that were reaping 88% of the profits from the Iranian oil industry. They had offered the British 25% of the profits, rather than 88%, and the British responded by imposing a blockade on Iran and freezing Iranian assets. British embassies are closed, and so the British make proposals to Truman to intervene.
Truman, whose administration considered Prime Minister and Time 'Man of the Year' Mohammed Mossadegh a nationalist and an anti-communist, rejects the proposal, believing the enlargement of the middle-class made possible by the oil nationalization would protect Iran from communism. When Eisenhower takes office the British repeat the proposal, but Ike's Sec. of State John Foster Dulles and the Director of Plans in the CIA Allen Dulles happen to be partners in the lawfirm Sullivan and Cromwell, which coincidentally is the legal counsel for Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Eisenhower is sold a trumped up anti-communist story (also trumped up in the press by the CIA, as was common: see MOCKINGBIRD) and sends Kermit Roosevelt to the American Embassy in Iran to foment a coup as part of Operation AJAX, overthrowing Iran's Prime Minister and liquidating the elected Iranian parliament.
The underlying Cold War justification was that because Mossadegh was supported by, among others, the communist Tudeh Party, which had supported Mossadegh's social reforms when resisted by conservative clerics, and so Mossadegh must therefore be Communust: this 'logic', of course, wasn't. The declassified CIA records suggest the opposite: it's apparent that Mossadegh preconditioned a spring 1953 contract with Count Della Zonca (an Italian hauling Iranian oil) on a guarantee that no oil be sold to the Eastern bloc, and with most of the oil continuing to be sold through AIOC the British would effectively have control over the rest of it - essentially an anti-communist contract. The CIA cable on March 31st, 1953 says quite plainly that the "Communists did not create the crisis nor are they playing a significant role in its outcome". Hence a CIA directed plot was necessary to deepen the crisis, improving the insignificant Communist position, and thus make it appear necessary to disband all democratic institutions in favor of years of state violence and terror against anyone who would resist the Shah.
The Shah's dictatorship introduces one of the more totalitarian regimes of the third world, but the British oil concessions became a largely American oil consortium and the day was won for Democracy: the Shah's SAVAK police (organized by US intelligence) proceeded to brutalize, repress, divide, isolate, and torture the Iranian population for a quarter of a century until he was exiled in 1979 by Khomeini's Islamic Republic, which did more of the same, supported in turn by tons of US arms, initially funnelled through Israel, via Carter and Reagans' "illegal-arms-for-CIA-operatives" and "illegal-arms-for-an-illegal-war-in-Nicaragua" deals.
With varying degress of success liberalization programs are undertaken in Soviet Russia and its satellites to undo the worst of the persisting crimes of Stalin's regime. Most, but not all, political prisoners are rehabilitated, religious freedoms expand, and the use of torture reduced. In 1956 Krushchev delivers a limited but accurate enough condemnation of Stalin and Lysenko to the Party. Military suppression of protests against the state and people's movements, vast state censorship, partocracy, militarism, Soviet economic hegemony, and other forms of control for the most part continue - ie. the political life of citizens begins to bear - lacking in violent purges and religious intolerance, torture, famine, and personality cults - more resemblance to that in the US than in China. After 1964 and Brezhnev's rise to power the decline in repression reverses somewhat, and cultural and political dissidence meets with forceful "damage control".
Around the same time in the United States a concerted propaganda campaign is waged to whip up anti-communist hysteria, causing a purge of much of the State Department as numerous diplomats and experts are accused baselessly of 'communist sympathies', to be replaced by comparatively uninformed, ideological wingbats who go on a rampage across the globe in search of enemies to destroy. The effects of McCarthyism on foreign policy makers prolonged a relatively quick and painless three month war on the Korean penninsula, when accepting an armistice would have been seen as "soft on communism", and turned it into a three year long massacre that killed millions. Similarly discussion of Vietnam turns from one of French colonialism to one of "communist expansionism", leading to the deaths of millions upon millions, one massacre after another.
"We have created a more humanitarian, less costly strategy, to be more compatible with the democratic system. We instituted civil affairs [in 1982] which provides development for 70 percent of the population, while we kill 30 percent. Before, the strategy was to kill 100 percent."
--General Hector Gramajo, 1980s Guatemalan Minister of Defense, interview with Harvard International Review, cited here
United Fruit Co., aka Chiquita Banana, and the CIA lobby the Eisenhower administration to overthrow President Jacobo Arbenz, who attempted to institute land reforms that threatened United Fruit's extortion of Guatemalan agriculture, and expanded on the ideal of democracy to end disenfranchizement of communist sympathizers at the table of government. The Eisenhower administration and CIA, apparently in confusion about what democracy means, prompty organized a botched assassination attempt on Arbenz, trained and armed a military regime to take over, and lent military assistance to the counter-revolution. The ensuing civil war lasted 40 years and left some 160,000 dead and 40,000 "disappeared" (in 1999 there was some light cast on the fate of the disappeared).
"The social and economic programs of the elected government met the aspirations" of labor and the peasantry, and "inspired the loyalty and conformed to the self-interest of most politically conscious Guatemalans. Worse still, the government of Guatemala had "become an increasing threat to the stability of Honduras and El Salvador. Its agrarian reform is a powerful propaganda weapon; its broad social program of aiding the workers and peasants in a victorious struggle against the upper classes and large foreign enterprises has a strong appeal to the populations of Central American neighbors where similar conditions prevail."
So therefore a military solution was necessary. It went on for 40 years, and its left the same culture of terror as in Central American neighbors.
--Chomsky, summarizing internal US documents discussing the communist threat in Guatemala, Kiva Auditorium, NM. A similar quote from the linked essay by Streeter is attributed to the State Department, discussing regional stability for Honduras and El Salvador; quote attributed citation by Gjeijeses, Shattered Hope, p 152.
In addition to death squad activity, executions, rape, and torture, US government suppression of the murder of an American, etc., US backed goons engaged in scorched earth campaigns. While US military aid was halted in 1990, the CIA continued its own funding for another 5 years until reports in the US press made the funding public.
Guatemalan suffering continues to this day:
UN Truth Commission on Guatemala: "during the period from 1981 to 1983 these acts descended to the level of genocide directed against elements of the country's indigenous Mayan population".
NSA - US-Guatemalan policy documents: including a 1982 accusation by the U.S. Embassy that Amnesty International, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Network in Solidarity with Guatemala and the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission are supporting Guatemalan Communism because of their reports on human rights abuses in Guatemala - which have since been confirmed by declassified documents.
US military aid to Pakistan helps reinforce the military's position in society and assists it in seizing power in 1958. Overconfident in the strength of its US backing, Pakistan blunders into a war with India in the mid 60s. This and shifts in alignment towards China result in LBJ issuing an arms embargo on Pak and India in 1965, producing a cease-fire. The embargo weakens shortly there-after, and under Nixon military aid resumes, to genocidal effect.
"No wonder Sukarno doesn't like us very much. He has to sit down with people who tried to overthrow him." - President Kennedy, 1961
The CIA interfers in Indonesia's first parliamentary elections since it acquired independence from the Netherlands in 1945 by providing $1 million to the Masjumi Party against Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta's Nationalist Party. Sukarno, who had lead the independence movement, wins the elections. Enraged by Sukarno's "unity through diversity" policy, which allowed the communist PKI to run (and consistently lose) in elections, the CIA advocates for a military coup, culminating in President Eisenhower issuing an order on September 25th, 1957 for Sukarno's overthrow.
By early 1958 the CIA established a revolutionary government on Sumatra and Sulawesi that calls for uprisings against the government. The US-trained and armed Indonesia military destroys the rebel base a week later, even recieving maps of the islands from the US military attache in Jakarta, who was unaware of the CIA operation. In March the US State Department, under John Foster Dulles, publically echoes the calls for uprisings against Sukarno, declaring that "all-out Communist despotism is taking over". Overrun, the CIA assets are evacuated to saftey by the US navy in April.
In late April the CIA started sending warplanes to strike military and civilian targets. These sorties killed hundreds. When the Indonesian military downed one of the craft and captured the pilot, Allen Lawrence Pope, revealing the direct American involvement in the war, the CIA was forced to shut down the operation. Al Pope was sentenced to death (released in August 1962) and his capture demonstrated that rumors of American involvement in the attempted overthrow were true, making the dire predictions about Sukarno's loyalties entirely self-fulfilling, leading eventually to further US intervention and the massacres of 1965.
Of roughly 20,000 people investigated by the FBI solely on the basis of their political views between 1956-1971, about 10 to 15% were the targets of active counterintelligence measures per se. Taking counterintelligence in its broadest sense, to include spreading false information, it's estimated that about two-thirds were COINTELPRO targets. Most targets were never suspected of committing any crime.
Harkening back to the first red scare and the Palmer raids after World War I, the US government moves to target its real enemies: US citizens.
The FBI assisted right-wing hate groups in carrying out bombings, shootings, murder, and other assorted manifestations of violence against activist groups, as exemplified by the siege at Pine Ridge, South Dakota (1973-76) and the Greensboro Massacre (1979).
The CIA was utilized for the same ends, spying on the student movement, collecting information on some 300,000 Americans, distributing LSD to unwitting participants, American and foreign, as part of MKULTRA (leading in one case to the 1953 death of Dr. Frank Olson). It included enticing heroin addicts to use the drug in return for heroin (part of the long history of CIA involvement with the drug trade) and testing it on "unwitting subjects in social situations". All records pertaining to MKULTRA were destroyed by the order of CIA director Richard Helms in 1973, so what these findings from the Church Committee entail exactly we'll never fully know.
Operation MOCKINGBIRD is a welldocumentedprogram in which the CIA made (and continues to make) infiltrations into domestic media organizations, as well as creating front organizations poising as media groups, giving the intelligence community a high level of influence and occasional instances of direct control in the "free press". This is what democracies do in lieu of having direct state control over media, and one can readily observe that it's a far more effective policy in guiding public opinion and covering up state secrets, since the citizen is left unaware that any influence is being exerted, or if he is he is left unaware of when. Of course, since these activities are never verified by the government until decades after they happen anybody claiming that such activities continue are easily labelled as cranks, as was the case for most instances of covert activity listed in this document.
Government intelligence services in general often being conspicious, rottenfucks, leading rational, sane people into the bowels of paranoia when government secrecy prevents the public from knowing the full extent and details of operations that targetted US citizens, leaving fear, manufactured or not, to fully disembowel the credibility of people who have reasonable questions but choose instead to fill the gaps in themselves with mindwasting conjecture.
Laos is mainly affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) dating back to the Indochina War, especially the period from 1964 to 1973, when it is estimated that more than two million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos. Fifteen of the country.s eighteen provinces are significantly affected by UXO; the most heavily contaminated provinces are Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Saravane and Khammouane. Over 85 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and UXO seriously constrains the livelihood and food security of large sections of the population.
The US government made little or no effort to help with ordnance clearing projects until 1996.
US supports 30 years of rule by the Duvalier dictatorships in Haiti. Rule was transferred from Francois Duvalier to his son Jean-Claude in 1971, who now resides comfortably in France. Our nepotistic friends massacre some 40-60,000 political opponents and torture countless more.
The relationship was not without its early complexities. Used as a base for attacks against Cuba in the early 60s, the Kennedy administration reduces some aid and has the CIA make wavering attempts towards overthrowing the regime between 1962 and 1968. The CIA - observing that the regime had "crushed all opposition and destroyed almost all Haitian institutions" - concludes in the end that Duvalier must be propped up against the threat of a devastated and demoralized general population. Even while supporting coup attempts by Haitian exiles in the US they assist the regime against coup attempts by non-exiled Haitians.
The UK and US governments approve a plan to stage fake incidents to excuse invasions by neighboring pro-Western Arab countries, in an effort to install a government that "would probably need to rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power".
The plan is abandoned after Syria's neighbors refuse to go along with the project.
The Khmer Serei movement is not a genuine part of the Cambodian political life. It is an external organization covertly supported by the Thai and South Vietnamese governments with the object of overthrowing the Sihanouk regime. Its chief methods are subversion and terrorism.
--British Embassy, Phon Phem, April 22, 1966
Cambodian minorities from southwestern Vietnam and Thailand's Surin province making up Son Ngoc Thanh's Khmer Serei movement are supported by the CIA and used to wage cross-border attacks against the Cambodian army in order to pressure Prince Sihanouk into a stronger pro-Western alliance through SEATO. The operation fails, making Sihanouk more popular and more resolute in his determination to maintain neutrality. The attacks also bog down the small Cambodian army along the Thai border, forcing Shihanouk to seek assistance from China, which is then used by the CIA to justify continuing support for the Khmer Serei's attempts to undermine the government.
By 1964 US Special Forces, on loan to the CIA, are joining in the cross-border raids from South Vietnam as "advisors" along with South Vietnamese Army units. On top of the initiation of US bombing raids on Cambodia, Shihanouk breaks off relations with the US in the spring of 1965. The steady escalation of US bombing, ostensibly to target communist Vietnamese forces, leads to one of the largest and most destructive bombing campaigns in history, as the order came down for an escalation of the attacks by Henry Kissinger, "Anything that flies on anything that moves".
"The fact is that the United States dropped three times the quantity of explosives on Cambodia between 1970 and 1973 than it had dropped on Japan for the duration of World War II. Between 1969 and 1973, 539,129 tons of high explosives rained down on Cambodia; that is more than one billion pounds. This is equivalent to some 15,400 pounds of explosives for every square mile of Cambodian territory. Considering that probably less than 25 percent of the total area of Cambodia was bombed at one time or another, the actual explosive force per area would be at least four times this level."
--The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea, Craig Etcheson, 1984
American support for the ouster of Sihanouk (viewed by the rural populace as the father of the country), in a coup by General Lon Nol and the subsequent invasion of Cambodia by U.S. troops in April 1970 prompted a backlash that strengthened support for the insurgent Khmer Rouge (KR) guerrillas.
The data released by Clinton shows the total payload dropped during these years to be nearly five times greater than the generally accepted figure. To put the revised total of 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the Allies dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the bombs that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons, respectively. Cambodia may well be the most heavily bombed country in history.
The CIA estimated that the US bombing campaign killed some 600,000 Cambodians, but between four years of US bombing, the Khmer Rouge's self-immolation of the country from 1975-1979, the 1979 Vietnam invasion, and a mass famine induced by the destruction of farm land, cluster bombs effectively mining tracts of countryside (even now a continuing problem, with over 400 casualties from unexeploded ordnance in 2002), the flood of refugees fleeing from US bombing to urban centers that could not sustain the population, and later a US-led blockade after 1979 (except for Khmer Rouge-lead groups opposing the new government, which the US "tilted" towards), nobody really knows how many died to what by whose hand.
In Lebanon in 1957, the CIA supported Christian parties with U.S. government money and donations by American oil companies that wanted to insure a friendly government in Lebanon, a pivotal Middle Eastern country.
Wilbur Crane Eveland, a CIA officer, later described driving his gold and white DeSoto onto the grounds of President Camille Chamoun's residence in Beirut and delivering political payoffs.
"Throughout the elections, I traveled regularly to the presidential palace with a briefcase full of Lebanese pounds, then returned late at night to the embassy with an empty twin case" to be replenished with CIA money, Eveland wrote in "Ropes of Sand" in 1980, a history of American policy failures in the Middle East.
Shortly thereafter 14,000 marines occupy Lebanon to repress dissidents opposing Chamoun's government, intervening in a small civil war to prop him up.
Continuing an old feud, that being that Cuba is United States territory and not Cuban, the USG has continued intervening on it's own behalf in Cuba. With the overthrow of the US imposed and supported Batista dictatorship the CIA starts directing bombing raids from US soil, manned by exiled Cubans, against Cuba. The Cuban government sought redress in the UN in 1960, and the CIA bungled attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro 6 times between 1961 and 1963. The US ordered Britain not to provide arms to Cuba, forcing it to eventually seek aid from the Soviet Union, providing a pretext for further intervention. Direct support for sabatoge and terror attacks continue until 1966, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs operation, strafing attacks on beach-side resorts, contamination of agricultural imports, and attacks on British cargo ships.
US embargos, continuing long past the end of the cold war, strangle the Cuban economy and deprive all but the highest American elites of fine Cuban cigars. To be fair to Cuba - and it's unlikely that this has much to do with Castro's administrative "genius" - it rates somewhere around 3rd or 4th in the Western hemisphere on basic human development indicators, its infant mortality rate is in fact lower than that of the United States. On human rights it's useful to compare notes on Cuba versus the United States and the top recipient in the hemisphere of US military aid, Columbia, before trying to explain or justify USG policy against Cuba as a response to Castro's human rights abuses.
According to a book by ex-CIA agent Philip Agee, the CIA staged a Communist takeover of Ecuador before backing a military coup, ousting elected President J. M. Velasco Ibarra, and again in 1963 the government of Carlos Julio Arosemena. Agee now lives in Cuba and is accused of being a "KGB shill", which all around is probably better for the health than staying in the US and being a CIA target.
CIA assists Turkish Military Intelligence (MIT) in designing plans for mass arrests and repression of political opposition from 1960-69. In 1971 the CIA assists a military coup, and the plans are carried out, leading to the arrests and torture of 4,000 "suspects" in a single night.
Shortly after the Congo wins its independence from the brutal rule of Begium [*] - which received support from the USG - the USG assists in assassination attempts of the newly elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (including one attempt via a viral agent, delivery courtesy Sidney Gottlieb), bringing the former European colony into the US "sphere of dominance" under the USG backed reign of Joseph Mobutu Sese-Seko. As an informal colony of a troika between Belgium (for prestige), France (for trade), and the US (resource exploitation and supporting reactionary forces in neighboring states), the backers of Mobutu's regime set about some 37 years of supporting a brutal despot and kleptomaniac, leaving the Congo drownd in $12 billion of international debt. International propping of the regime continued well beyond IMF advisor Erwin Blumenthal's exposing the kleptocracy in 1982 and the IMF's and World Bank's continued support of it because of Western dominance in those organizations. Funds supplied by Western kickbacks and aid were used by Mobutu to bribe off select military, familial, and regional elites in order to maintain his position in the country.
After his rise to power Mobutu proceeded to rape and brutalize the country and its citizens. Replaced by Laurent Kabila and then his son Joseph Kabila, things still aren't looking any better. Part of a general juggling and inadvertent discombobulation of African "nations" (artificial constructs based on the generally arbitrary borders established and afterwards maintained by "exiting" colonial powers) between world powers the Soviet role was "largely rhetorical". Saner imperial powers might have entered into an Anti-Circus-Ring Pact.
In 1964 the CIA provided air support for Mobutu, Cyril Adoula, and Moise Tshombe in Katanga, against Lumumba supporters in Stanleyville.
During the 1970s the USG and France organized military support for Mobutu during rebel invasions from Angola into Shaba.
Whatever finger-waving one might direct upon various outside actors, the IMF and WB institutions that are subsidiaries to Western interests, the problems of a corrupt and repressive state supported by them, and a helpless, repressed, and disorganized society, one has to admit that "the disaster had its roots in a history of extraordinary outside interference. ... Zaire's free fall was generated not by one man but thousands of compliant collaborators, at home and abroad." (Foreign Affairs, 2001)
In a region inunduated with US arms, torn over competition for cashcow exports to the West, three to five million people have been raped or slaughtered in the Congo War since 1998. While US administrations are waging one war after another on grounds of "humanitarian intervention" (Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq) they've done nothing about the Congo War besides pour weapons into the project (including training and aiding the militaries of contributing parties, such as Uganda and Rwanda). Life evidently doesn't mean much when the loss of it serves the so-called "national interest".
Referred to today as "Camp Justice" by the Pentagon, this small island paradise in the Indian ocean was "sanitized" (ethnically cleansed) of its civillian population - their pet dogs gassed to death - by the British Empire and the American military. It remains the expropriated home for one of the largest American forward bases in the world.
CIA engages in a campaign to keep Joao Goulart from achieving control of Congress.
Shortly after independence from Britain - long delayed by US pressure - the CIA organizes overthrow of the elected president Cheddi Jagan. The US backs nationalists in future elections, beginning 28 years of increasingly militant rule by the People's National Congress party until Jagan won the election of 1992 with US support, in the country's first monitored elections: meaning the US has been choosing the winner of Guyana's elections for some 40 years.
The dictatorship Alfredo Stroessner receives $146 million in US aid, never receiving condemnations for its human rights abuses, the genocide of the indigenous Ache, drug trafficking and open arms policy for ex Nazis until the 1980s. The condemnation shortly preceded a 1988 coup. Stroessner took exile in Brazil.
Starting in 1962 the CIA begins interfering in Chilean elections, turning in 1964 to incubation of the military junta that in 1973 put Augusto Pinochet into power after a CIA backed overthrow of Salvador Allende (having failed to buy his opponents elections and a failed coup attempt in 1970, among others). Salvador's government was replaced by a military dictatorship that suppressed and brutalized the country until 1990, with full USG knowledge and complicity, and included assistance in the murder of political opponents. Allende's crime:
"Allende then proceeded towards strongly socialist policies based on his electoral victory, including a prices freeze, an increase in wages, nationalisation of the coal and steel industries, nationalisation of the main foreign copper firms, and of 60% of the private banks (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p127; Hudson 1994). Almost 500 firms would be nationalised (Hudson 1994). Workers often took the initiative, occupying the offices of foreign firms such as ITT and Ford until they were nationalised - this led to a partial financial blockade by the U.S., as well as the withholding of loans from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Skidmore & Smith 2001, p127)."
The USG was supporting "anti-communist" factions in Chile as early as 1950. CIA activities
received significant funding from the business community (allegedly Pepsi, from what I've read).
The AFL-CIO was also involved, continuing its long history of working against foreign labor unions. In addition to everything else, the State Department concluded that the CIA might have had "an unfortunate part" in the death of 30-year old American journalist Charles Horman, who had unwittingly recieved sensitive information about the US role in the coup from a US Navy Engineer.
Until the anti-apartheid movement managed to change US policy through congressional pressure in the late 80s - a policy change forcefully resisted by Reagan by veto (e.g. the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986), the rhetoric of "constructive engagement", and through the isolation of African states critical of the South African regime - South African apartheid formulated in 1948 received strong backing from Washington, making South Africa a defacto client state over the course of the Cold War. At the same time Washington was intermitently supporting different "alternatives" to the ANC, which also received occasional US funding, in attempts to build an anti-apartheid movement that would take its orders from Washington, regardless of whether this search meant delaying the end of apartheid indefinitely (thankyou Hubert Humphrey). A similar but shorter-lived situation existed in Rhodesia.
The South African regime used its generous assistance from Washington to support incursions into neighboring states against independent governments, targetting - among others - Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Seychelles ^, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
1962-1979: The Enemy of Communists are Islamic Fundamentalists are Our Kind of Bastards
With roots in the Eisenhower administration's coordination of policy with the UK against Egypt's Nasser under the "Omega" plan, the long-standing US political alliance with Saudi Arabia develops into a broadening and deepening level of - if often indirect - financial and political support for right-wing Islamist political movements as part of a policy to counter and weaken the forces of nationalism and pan-Arabism.
After the failure of Kennedy's attempt at rapproachment with Egypt due to Nasser's support for the Republicans in the North Yemen Civil War, the US - along with Israel, Iran, Jordan, and the UK - joined Saudi Arabia in supporting the Royalist factions against the anti-monarchists in a conflict that lasted until 1970, ultimately seeing the 1967 partition of north and south into separate states for 23 years: the north becoming the Yemen Arab Republic after the mediated withdrawal of Egyptian and Saudi forces in 1970, while the south became a soviet proxy. The failure of the nationalist coup in Yemen and the 1967 defeat against Israel permantently discredited pan-Arabism and drastically improved political Islam's image across the Muslim world, allowing it to emerge from the fringe of Middle Eastern politics.
With Nassers death in 1970 the CIA established a backchannel to his successor Anwar Sedat through Saudi intelligence chief Kamal Adham, transmitting Kissinger's promises to Sadat that Washington would assist Egypt against Israel if he broke off relations with the Soviet Union, which he did in 1972. To consolidate his position against the Nasserites and pro-Soviet left, Sadat entered into an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and allowed Egypt to become a center for Islamic political activism, declaring Islam the state religion and later adopting provisions for Shari'a into the constitution. Good as his word, Kissinger restrained Israel enough during the October War in '73 to engineer a stalemate, and Washington supported the new Egyptian regime with millions in annual economic aid. With political Islam flourishing across Saudi Arabia and Egypt the stage was set for Washington's crucial role in organizing the first global jihad.
The "Health Alteration Committee", a CIA assassination program, sends the disobedient Iraqi dictator Abdel Karim Qassim - who came to power in 1958 overthrowing the British puppet Nuri Said and then helped found OPEC - a poisoned handkerchief.
After a number of similarly failed coup attempts James H Critchfield finally stages a successful coup against Qassim supporting the Baath Party, ushering in a wave of bloodbaths against CIA-provided lists of leftists and communists, slaughter of the Kurds, and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Turkomans, and Shi'ites.
The CIA backs another coup in 1968 putting Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr into power, leading directly to the dictatorship of long-time American asset Saddam Hussein in 1979.
CIA organizes a right-wing coup of the Brazilian republic. The resulting dictatorship suppressed, censored, and tortured the opposition, the suspected opposition, everybody else, and it's economic policies drove the per capita GNP to one of the lowest in Latin American, in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
"The systematic use of torture was also condoned if not encouraged by U.S. AID officials.
A common torture routine consisted of a preliminary beating by a flat wooden paddle with holes drilled through it called a palmatoria. This would be followed by a more concentrated application of electric wires to the genitals designed to elicit information from the victim. If this method failed, the prisoner was subjected to another round with the palmatoria -- often for six hours at a time.46 Today, Brazil's terror technology has advanced beyond the electric prod and the wooden paddle. Testimony from political prisoners verified by the Brazilian College of Lawyers lists among the newest inventions a refrigerated cubicle called a geladeira. Nude prisoners are boxed in the geladeira for several days at a time and frequently doused with ice-cold water. All the time, loudspeakers emit deafening sounds. One prisoner described this as a "machine to drive people crazy."
Brazil has been more or less in the back pocket of US interests before and since, and makes a clear example of how US interests are protected by keeping peoples and governments in line, be it by hook or crook. The 2002 election of the liberal canidate Luiz Lula to the presidency demonstrates how foreign economic pressures are put to bear in the form of self-fulfilling prophecies: "For months international investment banks have been downgrading Brazil's government bonds, saying that a Lula presidency would likely lead to a default. This caused the collapse of the real, which has led to rising prices for all imports, including oil, and a spike in interest rates."
Acting through the US client state in Brazil the USG works to influence Uruguay's elections with voter and candidate initimidation amidst US supported violence, militant repression and increased use of torture as part of the counterinsurgency program.
1965-1987: Phillipines - the Democratizing Virtues of "Constitutional Authoritarianism"
USG supports rule of Ferdinand Marcos , the exemplar of "crony capistalism". Elected in 1965 and 1969, Marcos takes advantage of terrorist bombings (some of which were carried out by his government) in 1972 and seizes dictatoral power. He was praised by US leaders for his democratic virtues until his downfall in 1986, when he was exiled to California.
The new Aquino government is also supported by the US, and uses "counter-insurgency" death squads - organized under Marcos with CIA assistance - to purge opposition to the new government, which fails to make significant economic reforms.
FYI, we may have a pro-Western coup in Ghana soon. Certain key military and police figures have been planning one for some time, and Ghana's deteriorating economic condition may provide the spark.
The plotters are keeping us briefed, and State thinks we're more on the inside than the British. While we're not directly involved (I'm told), we and other Western countries (including France) have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah's pleas for economic aid.
--Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, May 27, 1965.
When Kwame Nkrumah publishes his book Neo-Colonialism, predicting that the US and other foreign powers would continue to cynically interfere in African affairs, the US reacts harshly by cancelling aid it had promised and noting that the USG "could not now foresee all consequences of book but that these would 'undoubtedly become evident in due course.'" Such an "attack of this nature" - that is a relatively accurate written work of non-fiction - by a "Head of State" was "unacceptable". One simply cannot feel free to write a book expressing criticism of US policy if one runs a third world country. That would be outrageous.
Overthrow of the elected government by the military dictatorship of School of Americas graduate Major General Juan Valesco Alvarado, initiating military rule for seven years. Alvarado's junta ousted Belaunde Terry, who was resistant to nationalizing oil production and had devalued the Sol by over forty percent. Alvarado's leftist junta immediately nationalized oil production in 1968, but allowed foreign investors back in after 1971 under somewhat, for Peru, more generous contracts. The USG had been providing training to Peruvian security forces for some time, similar in content to that elsewhere. At the same time, throughout much of the 1970s, Peru was the leading recipient of Soviet arms in South America.
Fujimori suspended democratic rule early in his first term and engaged in a violent, often indiscriminate but successful crack down against a resurgent Shining Path and Tupac Amaru. He used the suspension of democracy to enforce economic policies that plunged Peru deeper into poverty (minus an oppulent minority of Peruvian and Western business men) in one of the most thorough examples of 'shock therapy' in Latin America of the time. The SP is a brutal neo-Marxist/Leninist guerilla organization responsible for the murders of about 11,000 people, including a large number of "bourgeoisie" leftists.
As part of the counter-insurgency Fujimori's security services formed the Grupo Colina, headed by a former SOA graduate that was an officer in a Honduras death squad. Grupo Colina engaged in numerous atrocities against civillians and contributed to the dramatic rise of human rights abuses, many targetting political opponents and journalists. Caught between a minority militant left and a dictatoral militant right: everybody else, particularly indigenous peoples living in oil rich areas.
The principal features of this ruthless oppression were the indiscriminate killing of civilians, including women and children; the attempt to exterminate or drive out of the country a large part of the Hindu population; the arrest, torture, and killing of Awami League activists, students, professional and business men and other potential leaders among the Bengalis; the raping of women, the destruction of villages and towns; and the looting of property. All this was done on a scale which was difficult to comprehend.
In December 1970, elections held in East and West Pakistan (at the time a single nation where East Pakistan, some 1,000 miles from its counterpart, was ruled by the west - now Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively) result in a legislative majority for an East Pakistani nationalist party. The military dictator who chose to hold the elections and enact democratic reform in the first place, General Yahya Khan, suspends the election results. Resulting protests in East Pakistan lead to a rampage of violence by Khan's West Pakistani dominated military against the Awami League party and the Bengalese population in general.
President Nixon - against the advice of US diplomats and State Department officials who described the situation as genocide in the Blood Telegram and numerous subsequent reports to the White House - refuses to react to the campaign, or rather, reacts by supporting the perpetrators.
An arms "embargo" was issued (by congress? it's unclear) shortly after the onslaught began, on March 25th, but the embargo only applied to the issue of new arms licenses. Existing contracts for spare parts, ammunition, and other 'non-lethal' aid are honored, and through legal loopholes and third party allies, the US military aid continues to flow throughout much of the atrocites. The US ships some $15 million in military aid to Yahya Khan's government during the campaign, making it the only country in the world to continue support during the crisis by mid-year. When the India-Pak conflict steps up in December Pakistan is further assisted in the procurement of, among other things, American fighter planes via Iran and Jordan, supplying a squandron of 10 F-104As. While this was in response to rising tensions between India and Pakistan, the rising tensions were themselves created by events in East Pakistan, thus making any aid against India implicitly material and moral support for the continuation of atrocities.
Nixon and Kissinger, in the midst of persuing talks with China through Pakistan (alternative channels had also been opened in Romania, and later Paris), act in every possible way to support Yahya. China, arguably as complicit a supporter of the campaign as Washington, promised aid but never delivered. No condemnation is ever issued over Yahya's policies in East Pakistan, and little to no effort is made to negotiate an end to the atrocities.
Amid all this some ten million East Pakistani refugees had flooded into India en masse by December of 1971. On December 3rd, after months of mounting tensions, Pakistani air attacks on Indian bases resulted in India's two week invasion of East Pakistan in December 1971 to end the destabalizing campaign of genocide ('civillian invasion', as India referred to it in the UN), weaken Pakistan, and to prevent the formation of a radicalized and independent East Pakistan. During the invasion the US sends the nuclear sub, USS Enterprise, into the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India, threatened to cut off economic aid to India, and went so far as to offer China a green light to invade India.
When the UN finally takes up the issue of the events after the Indian intervention India makes appeals against the atrocities being perpetrated by the Pak army - the invasion effectively ends the atrocities and results in the repatriation of almost all East Pakistani refugees within a year. The Whitehouse response, and much of the rest of the world's, was to condemn India's 'aggression'.
After independence the new Bengalese government is torn by inter-faction fighting and military coups - revenge campaigns, property seizures and other conflicts take a heavy toll (up to 150,000) on the non-Bengali population (primarily Bihari), who were percieved as and in many cases were collaborating with the Pak army. Population transfer programs under the New Delhi Agreement in 1973 results in Pakistan's recognition of Bangladesh in 1974, but Pakistan, with domestic problems of its own, is slow to repatriate the Bihari population. As of 1999 some 200,000 were still living in 66 refugee camps within Bangladesh [see: Rupture in South Asia, pdf].
School of Americas graduate General Hugo Banzer Suarez leads a bloody coup in 1971 and installs a military dictatorship with strong US backing - recieving more US military aid in his first year than Bolivia had recieved in the previous 12. In 1974 he begins a campaign of repression against labor leaders, leftist politicians, and Catholic aid workers who were attempting to aid the indigenous Bolivians the regime had dispossessed.
USG backs overthrow of Philippine republic.
Overthrow of the elected government by the military dictatorship of School of the Americas graduate Major General Guillermo Rodriguez, initiating military rule for seven years.
US directs Iranian marine invasion in support of the Sultan, quelling the anti-monarchist
1973-Present: The "War on Drugs"
The effect on foreign nations, the biological, biochemical, and chemical warfare programs, CIA involvement in funding death squad activity with narcotrafficking proceeds, the massive influx of said narcotrafficking into American cities - nevermind dousing unwitting members of the general population with LSD - and other fall out from the war on drugs is dealt with intermintently elsewhere. At home the drug war policy of the past 40 years has become largely a matter of controlling sectors of the domestic population, primarily black men.
In an apparent effort to make China look good, the US has thrown over 500,000 drug "offenders" behind bars out of political expediency. A full third of the population has used illegal narcotics - funding in turn the secret wars waged by Uncle Sam with the drug money - and presumably belong in there with them. Instead it is overwhelmingly young black men who suffer the highest rates of incarceration.
300 million US citizens make up about 5% of the world's population, and it's 2,000,000 inmates make up about 25% of the world's imprisoned population, with another 4,000,000 citizens on probation. In comparison, China's police-state with a population of 1.3 billion people has 1.5 million inmates and an estimated 230,000 in laogai 're-education camps' - together approxiamately one fifth the incarceration rate of the world's greatest democracy.
About a quarter of all robbery, burglary, and larceny offenses were committed to obtain drugs. About 25% of the Federal prison population is put to forced labor, compensated at less than a dollar an hour. Many Americans have sought asylum in Canada, calling into question facile arguments about why nobody is trying to get out of this country.
Like most people I'd like to see an end to the heroin trade and a reasonable drug policy with respect to marijuana and other relatively harmless, none-to-low addiction, entertaining substances, with social programs that focus on rehabilitation, stress responsible drug use and provide accurate information, and national programs that focus on blocking the importation of illegal narcotics. Actually, I would have assumed that this is what a "war on drugs" would have originally entailed. The past 30 years of policy have been completely the opposite: non-rehabilitative treatment, invading foreign countries to destroy local agriculture, manipulating agriculture prices to drive out foreign competition and push third world farmers into drug production, funding, arming, and cooperating with narcotraffickers abroad, and using profits off drug traffic to fund covert operations. Sort of makes the sincerity of the anti-drug warriors sound a little disingenuous.
I think I'm paraphrasing Bill Maher when I point out that we're deforesting South America because we can't kick our cocaine habit.
Failing to bring about a subservient government by meddling in elections and political repression, the USG supports the military in their power grab. I've read that the military government created the highest percentage of a population imprisoned for political reasons in the world.
USG provides financial and military assistance to Mohammed Duad. While actively competing for influence in Afghanistan since the 1950s with economic assistance, the USG had refrained from providing military assistance without a signature on an anti-Communism pact - US policy being antagonistic to non-aligned nations. This begins the USG's long history of involvement in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
1970s, mid to late: "The Intelligence Reform Era".
This is where the US government, after some of the extent of past activities is revealed to the public, sends up a wall of salvos hailing reform, rehabilitation, and a new era in US benevolence. It reflected a renewed dedication to "plausible deniability".
Longtime bigwhig and hotspot bureaucrat Frank Carlucci - later to be Deputy Director of the CIA under Carter and Secretary of Defense under Reagan - begins a stint as Ambassador to Portugal immediately after the 1974 revolution, which came about due to shifts in military demographics away from the aristocracy towards working class conscripts, who were then being sent off to fight anti-colonial rebellions in Portugal's African dependencies (Angola, Mozambique, et. al.). Since World War II the USG had intermittently supported the repressive, colonialist regime - particularly under Nixon. When the Movement of the Armed Forces (MFA), consisting mostly of mid-rank officers who had no interest in dying for somebody else's colonial enterprise, lead a coup, the old government surrendered to the relatively conservative General Spinola. The US was initially unworried by these developments, until Spinola appointed General Vasco dos Santos Goncalves, who was a member of Portugal's Communist Party, as his replacement. The USG government then begins supporting more conservative liberal-socialist groups within the MFA, leading to strong electoral victories in elections that are held during 1975 and 1976.
No death squads or mass murders of "suspected leftists", Portugal remained within the "Western sphere" and became a typical liberal-capitalist state, with the economic disparities of the old system left intact. It could have easily happened, if Kissinger got his way. Given the alternatives, or the lack of them, one might agree with Ambassador Robert Hunter:
I don't know if you remember, Frank, when I worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy and we visited Lisbon in November 1974 and, when we came back - against the opposition of certain people in a certain administration - the Senator got $50 million for Portugal. Frank Carlucci was then sent out there to keep the lid on. But he took the lid off and helped produce democracy rather than a fall into communism in Portugal. I'm not so sure, Frank, that everybody's really thanked you as much as they need to do so, but Portugal is a free and democratic nation to a great extent because of this gentleman sitting here, to promote the aspirations of peoples for democracy.
After 1976 the CIA continues assisting South African backed nationalist rebels of FNLA and UNITA, fueling a conflict against the internationally recognized Angolan government of the MPLA. Covert aid increases dramatically after 1985, with over $50 million being delivered in 1989. At the same time American oil companies are in Angola being protected by Cuban troops. The USG supported violence resulted in over 100,000 deaths - mostly civillian, by 1989, and amidst cease-fire agreements continued to support UNITA's efforts to prolong the conflict.
The West supports Suharto's killing spree of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese, exterminating somewhere on the order of one third of the population in one of the most thorough acts of genocide committed in recent history. Expansive trade relations, military aid, and the sale of arms to Indonesisa continued unabated until 1999, and in 2002 began anew.
In 1989 the US congress passed a bill prohibiting lethal aid to Pol Pot, long
held up as evidence for the evil of Communism. Curiously it rarely is seen as
evidence of an utter, abject failure of
US foreign policy. In response to the Congressional ban, the Whitehosue
began directing arms shipments to the Khmer Rouge through Singapore.
In 1974 Spain began the process of decolonization in its holdings in Western Sahara and Northern Morocco, Arabs colonies on the Atlantic coast of Africa, promising them independence. Under pressure from the US, which was concerned about a left-leaning independence movement, Spain bowed out of the question, allowing the Moroccan monarch to invade and recolonize West Sahara. In violation of international law, but with the strong support of the United States, Morocco has occupied West Sahara for nearly thirty years, and has the sardines to prove it.
The USG cooperates in what is, essentially, an international conspiracy among dictorships the US originally assisted to power in South America to erradicate the remaining Latin American left by any means necessary.
CIA backs unsuccessful military coup against Michael Manley in 1976. Related activity leaves some 750 dead. Destabalizing trade measures and interference in elections leads to Manley's defeat in 1980. Manley returns to office in 1989 after he adopts Washington Consensus approved economic programs.
Known for using rape as an instrument of war, the use of child soldiers, and assorted bloody atrocities, Renamo invades Mozambique, starting a civil war (1976-1992) that killed some 1 million, primarily civillians, and some 5 million were displaced.
The USG indirectly supported Renamo through the US-supported Rhodesian apartheid regime of the late 70s that originally formed the organization, and when Mugabe took control and ended support for Renamo South Africa took over assistance programs, rapidly growing the organization and escalating attacks on Mozambique. This continued relatively unabaited until publicity of Renamo's brutality moved Washington to put pressure behind the 1984 Komati Treaty, a largely unsuccessful attempt to curb South African destabalization of Mozambique, which continued covertly. Renamo received vocal support and financial assistance from numerous Western conservative establishment figures (e.g. Jesse Helms, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, Pat Robertson) and organizations (e.g. the Heritage Foundation - which hosted Renamo's Washington Office - and the Scaife fund). Many intelligence establishment figures were also tied to Renamo.
South Africa was never named a "state sponsor of terrorism", even after Renamo was charged with genocide by Reagan's state department, after the destabalization campaign had helped bring about a shift in Mozambique's political alliances towards the West.
Under the Ford administration Argentina's military dictatorship, involved in wide ranging human rights abuses that were ignored by Washington, received on the order of $30 million a year in military aid. Congress and president Carter ended military support in 1978. This was reversed by Reagan in 1981 and was ended again in 1982, after Argentina's generals invaded the Falklands, a British colony. After the war and the consequential downfall of the military junta the USG obstructed efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, using them later to train and mobilize the Honduras military and the contras - both groups implicated in gross abuses of human rights. The USG withheld extensive information relating to the fate of the disappeared until 2002.
The Ethiopian monarch and founder of Rasta Haile Selassie had been strongly supported by the USG since 1953, when defense pacts were signed giving the US access to Kagnew, an ex-British military base. In return the USG supplied massive arms shipments to the Ethiopian monarch who was engaged in suppressing resistance movements in Eritrea, where Muslim groups opposed Ethiopian hegemony over the region. Earlier the UN had garunteed Eritrea automony as part of a federalized Ethiopia, but when Selassie took direct control over the region in 1962 Muslim segments of the population with ties to Somalia began a full scale civil conflict. Selassie's brutal policies to maintain control over Eritrea lead to a massive refuge crisis, and to fund the conflict turned to cash-crop agriculture, creating a famine that killed over 100,000. His policies also created a highly disaffected middle class and officer corps in the military that turned against him, with a military coup taking place in 1974 by an authoritarian leftist group called the Derg, eventually lead by Major Mengistu Haile Mariam (one of 4,000 ethiopian troops and 20-some Derg members who had recieved advanced training in the US). The USG maintained ties and continued supplying arms to the new regime, selling $35 million in arms in 1974 and 1975 - essentially backing the coup - citing the "arms imbalance in the region" and Soviet influence in the Horn of Africa (South Yemen and Somalia, among others, were highly dependent on Soviet aid).
When the Soviet client Siad Barre in Somalia invaded the Ogaden in 1977 - a region it laid claims to (along with northern Kenya and Eritrea) because much of the local populations were ethnically Somali due to divide-and-conquer map drawing by the old colonial powers - the Soviets began supplying the Derg with massive military assistance to resist the attack. Soviet and Cuban assistance to a country under foreign attack, of course, demonstrated another "rising wave of Soviet aggression", though Soviet support for brutal, aggressive regimes in the region by then was old hat.
The US, while also delivering arms to Ethiopia, had not supplied enough to keep Mengistu content, and the dictator turned to the Soviets for aid entirely, and soon was awash in Soviet arms and Cuban troops. The Somali regime, catching wind of this, kicked Soviet advisers and diplomats out of the country and appealed to the US for assistance. While Carter told Zbigniew Brzezinksi to "move in every possible way to get Somalia to be our friend", official US policy - to avoid greater Soviet-US tension and save face with African governments opposed to the Somali invasion - did not overtly support the Ogaden land grab, remaining officially neutral while moving in every other possible way, with numerous Washington allies - including Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - delivering aid to Somalia.
The Soviets supported Mengistu's murderous regime and the 'Red Terror' in exchange for those same British-built military bases, Mengistu became a loyal client until he fell from power in 1991 - though in the regime's dying days during the collapse of the Soviet bloc Israel moved to prop Mengistu up because he was jolly good at suppressing Islamic movements.
Once Somalia exited the Ogaden region the US propped up the increasingly murderous Somali regime in exchange for Soviet-built military bases near Berbera. Siad Barre became a loyal client until he fell from power in 1991. The US finally left Somalia after Barre's ouster. Along with the end of Somalia's usefulness to Cold War geopolitics came an end to US food aid, which the country was highly dependent on because of Barre's policies, which not two years later lead to the US going back in.
Former Carter administration Secretary of State claims that the US "induced" Soviet invasion of Afghanistan:
According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujaheddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
--Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1998 interview with
Le Nouvel Observateur
He goes on, "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" The answer to that question, in terms of American security, by now should be obvious.
Among other testimony is CIA Director Robert Gates ('91-93) who made a similar claim in his 1996 memoirs, saying that the US started aiding the mujahideen 6 months prior to the Soviet invasion, initially funding what would later become Operation CYCLONE to the tune of $500 million [sounds dubiously high, verify w/ source].
Muhammad Anvar Amin's recollections of the start of the first uprisings in Nurestan province were that they were instigated by mujahadeen crossing the border from Pakistan. John Reagan, who would have been CIA Station Chief when the US Embassy in Islamabad was torched by fundamentalists a month before the Soviet invasion, according to Jim Huck, "met with Hekmatyar in May 1979, seven months before the Soviets moved into Kabul, and agreed to make the first of many shipments of arms to the rebel army". Reagan's successor Howard Hart describes similar efforts to Amin's in Charlie Wilson's War. The program would eventually recruit tens of thousands of Arab Muslims to fight the Soviets.
These details make some rewriting of the historical record of the Soviet invasion necessary: usually it is explained as an exercise of the Breschnev doctrine in response to the Iranian revolution creating an additional independent power in the region that threatened to break away southern Soviet Republics in central asia. US support for such elements in Afghanistan would give some credence to Soviet claims of "armed interference from the outside" [see: M. Hassan Kakar, The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982. Why Did the Soviet Union Invade?].
What is known is that shortly thereafter the Soviets invade Afghanistan at the "request" of a puppet government - which never actually sent an invitation to those 100,000+ Soviet troops - and at the prodding of Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX) the US Government begins an escalating campaign of support and organization for the Afghan resistance in one of the largest covert operations in history. Aid was partially funnelled via US allies through Israel, Egypt, and China, and in the mid-1980s the Reagan administration organized matching efforts - the total aid amounting to tens of billions of dollars - from the Saudis. Most support was directed through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which supported the most radical Wahhabi currents within the Afghan Mujahideen, with one fifth of the aid going to just heroin kingpinGulbuddin Hekmatyar alone.
After the war, an Islamist Afghan student movement organized, harbored, and supported by the Pakistani ISI takes control of most of Afghanistan - known as the Taliban - by 1995. The civil war between the various factions of anti-Soviet resistance is devastating, destroying much of what little was left of the country.
The conflict, furthermore, spills over from Afghanistan, in terror attacks in the USSR, India, and later the United States and Europe, by the terrorist cells organized and financed by the US-Suadi-Pakistani alliance.
Sudan's internal division between a Muslim north and traditionalist/pagan/Christian south - excuse for numerous civil wars and internal strife - is a situation inherited from the Sudan's colonial history as part of the British Empire. Britain's Southern Policy, creating and enforcing the isolation and evangalism in the South lasted into the 1950s. This has been an underlying cause of subsequent Sudanese civil wars, the latest beginning in 1983 and continuing to the present, with millions of associated casualties.
US involvement for the most part begins in 1979 - after Jafaar Nimeiry, the head of state, broke relations with the Soviets and shortly after Chevron became the first to discover oil in the Sudan. That year the USG begins drastically increasing it's military sales and aid to the Sudan, peaking at $100 million in 1982.
With the discovery of oil deposits in the South and US might backing him up Jafaar begins weakening the basis for the peace accords, dividing the autonomous South into 3 regions and redrawing borders to annex oil deposits into the North, as well as projects to redirect the Nile river's water resources to irrigation projects in the same. This move is accompanied by a hard shift to the Islamist right in the early 80s, and Jafaar declares shari'a law over the Sudan and revokes Southern autonomy in 1983, re-igniting the civil war. Chevron, facing stiff resistance from Southern militant groups such as the SPLA - supported by the Soviet client in Ethiopia - had failed to develop the fields fully, and after numerous attacks suspended the project in 1984.
The US remains the largest supplier of military equipment to the Islamist Sudanese governent during the 1980s, supplying some $120 million in military arms and equipment between 1983 and 1988, along with additional arms from friendly Arab clients. Military aid is finally suspended by acts of congress in 1990, after a coup in 1989 cancels planned peace talks. Shortly thereafter, in 1992, Chevron sells it's Sudanese oil concessions.
In the mid to late 90s the US would again involve itself, with the Clinton administration - supported by congress and the Christian right - beginning a policy of US support for the SPLA in the mid to late 90s with political, humanitarian, non-lethal - and according to some lethal - military support. Curiously the Evangelical George W. Bush shifted policy away from this, pressured, presumably, by commercial interests - e.g. oil and gum arabic.
1979-1990: Nicaragua, "The Threat of a Good Example."
Continuing a long history of intervening in Latin American affairs, the USG begins waging a secret war against the Sandinistas in 1979 after the overthrow of the oppressive Somoza regime. The phrase "threat of a good example" comes from the title of a 1985 Oxfam report by Dianna Melrose, which outlined the successes of the Sandinista government in addressing the problems of Nicaragua's poor majority. Nicaragua was immediately put under economic embargo by the USG, as it pressures the IMF and World Bank to halt or limit loans.
The 80s contra war is part of a long list of transgressions against Nicaraguan sovereignty. The contras, trained and supported by the USG, tortured, mutilated, raped, robbed, and otherwise abused Nicaraguan civillians during a reign of terror that was illegally funded through US arms sales to Iran and hooking Americans on cocaine, ironically serving to assist the murderous ayatollahs in Iran who came to power in the first place due to 35 years of US-assisted oppression and an explosion in drug-related violence in the US. Ex-CIA analyst David MacMichael testified before the World Court that the CIA had repeatedly tried to fabricate evidence of Soviet arms supplies.
The Sandinistas engaged in their own crimes against humanity over the course of the conflict - the forced assimilation (the precursor program to later hostilities), exploitation, persecution, and mass expulsion of the native Miskito population. While a crime against humanity on it's own merits this has little to do with the initiation of hostilities by the US government against Nicaragua, as they started long before violence began on the Miskito coast (until 1981 indigenous groups were represented in the Council of State), and in fact offered up a facile justification for the Sandinistas to make efforts to control the area for fear of CIA recruitment of the indigenous population and resources into the contra struggle - as the CIA did to every one of Nicaragua's neighbors. It's relatively rare that defenders of the contra war on these grounds will mention the greater crimes against indigenous populations taking place at the same time by governments supported by the USG, namely El Salvador and Guatemala. As mentioned under the first Guatemala entry the activities there between 1981 and 1983 were classified as genocide by the UN Truth Commission. Of the three the Sandinistas' attempts to resolve the Nicaragua/Miskito conflict was "the only serious effort at peace in Central America" made. Likewise not only the Sandinistas were attacking Miskitos, but in Honduras and Costa Rica they were in turn attacked by contra forces, as the indigenous were no more interested in being assimilated into the CIA than they were in a Marxist inspired third world state. Reagan, Otto Reich, and their Samoza puppets were not defenders of indigenous rights by any measure. Niether was Red Lobster.
The US war against Nicaragua left it one of the poorest countries in the world.
"The Iran/contra investigation will not end the kind of abuse of power that it addressed any more than the Watergate investigation did. The criminality in both affairs did not arise primarily out of ordinary venality or greed, although some of those charged were driven by both. Instead, the crimes committed in Iran/contra were motivated by the desire of persons in high office to pursue controversial policies and goals even when the pursuit of those policies and goals was inhibited or restricted by executive orders, statutes or the constitutional system of checks and balances."
Persuing economic relations with Eastern European countries on the basis of distance from Soviet foreign policy, Romania becomes a leading beneficiary of US trade relations through Most Favored Nation status, until 1988. By far the leading human rights abuser in Eastern Europe, the dictatoral Nicholas Ceausescu was the darling of Washington, and the last Eastern European regime to dissolve during the dissolution of the Soviet block, in one of the most violent struggles to take place in an otherwise largely peaceful process of liberation and assimilation. Along with most of the rest of Eastern Europe, Romania is now chained to IMF policies, and their deleterious effects.
Inconclusive ties to CIA in the assassination of Walter Rodney, opposition leader to Forbes Burnham. Other allegations of electoral interference, weirdness related to Jim Jones, the usual economic exploitation, and unreported CIA operations.
The US backs the Salvadorian junta's power grab and subsequent reign of terror with massive military aid and training, and without dealing at any point with the underlying causes of the violence. El Salvador becomes a top recipient of US aid globally as death squad activity proliferates. There are numbers of political assassinations, including the deaths of American aid workers, and between 78-81 some 35,000 civillians are murdered. One of the most heinous military organizations was the Atlacatl Battalion. By the end of the civil war in 1992 this number rises to 75,000, with over a quarter of the population internally displaced or in other countries as refugees, the total figure for US military aid is $6 billion.
"People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador; they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones while parents are forced to watch. The aesthetics of terror in El Salvador is religious."
Shortly after Samuel Doe's overthrow of a Liberian government ruled by a colonialist oligarchy (descended from freed US slaves - alternatively supported and exploited by the US) he becomes the recipient of $500 million in US support between 1980 and '85 despite gross human rights abuses and the creation of a military police state, almost double the total US assistance Liberia received between 1962 and 1980.
During the 80s the US uses Liberia as a staging area for attacks on Libya in Reagans attempts to overthrow Qaddafi, and provides a glut of US arms that preface the seven year anti-Doe insurgency in which hundreds of thousands were massacred and some 800,000 became refugees and another million become internally displaced. During the carnage the US blocked UN peace-keeping initiatives, refusing to contribute anything to peace-making efforts until 1993.
1980: The Nojeh Coup and the origins of the Iraq-Iran war.
Some allege that the US gave Saddam Hussein a green light to invade Iran, possibly even as part of a plot to support the aborted Nojeh coup against the revolutionary Iranian regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. The US had broken off relations with the Ba'athist regime it had assisted to power after the Iraqis had joined hostilities in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Signalling a shift undergoing in American thinking after the revolution, however, Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski declared on April 14th, 1980, "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the United States and Iraq... we do not feel that American-Iraqi relations need to be frozen in antagonisms."
Did Iraq seek American approval for an invasion? Did Brzezinski respond positively? Did the Carter administration share intelligence on Iran with Iraq before the invasion? There is some affirmative evidence, though the details remain fuzzy:
Kenneth R. Timmermann and former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr argue separately that Brzezinski met with Hussein in July 1980 in Amman, Jordan, to discuss joint efforts to oppose Iran. Hussein biographer Said Aburish writes that the Amman meeting did take place, but that Hussein met with three CIA agents, not Brzezinski.
In 1993 Christopher Hitchens quoted Carter's CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner as saying that "the CIA had known of an impending invasion and had advised President Jimmy Carter accordingly", and follows quoting Gary Sick - a member of Carter's National Security Council - "there was a very strong view, especially from Brzezinski, that in effect, Iran should be punished from all sides. He made public statements to the effect that he would not mind an Iraqi move against Iran." Sick then offered this reassuring apology, "We didn't think he'd take all of Khuzistan in 1980." [*]
Both Timmermann (*, "the Iraqis were very eager to get U.S. approval for their invasion of Iran and they dispatched senior government officials, including their then-foreign minister, to Saudi Arabia and to Amman, Jordan, to consult with American officials to make sure that we would not oppose the invasion of Iran.") and Howard Teicher (*, "They took the information that we provided them about our assessments of the Iranian military and provided it to Iraq. I believe that some of that information contributed to Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran in the first place") claim the Carter Administration passed Pentagon intelligence assessments of Iran's debilitated military capabilities to Saudi Arabia knowing they would be passed to Iraq. Hitchens makes the identical claim, citing a 1980 report in the London Financial Times.
Further corroboration from a Saudi source of pre-invasion intelligence sharing by the Carter Administration is noted by Archer Montague:
Additional evidence suggesting the sharing of intelligence between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq can be found in a 2006 biography of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. In it, Bandar describes his role as a fighter pilot for the Royal Saudi Air Force during the early days of the conflict. Bandar recalled, "I remember we worked with the Iraqis to give them AWACS [US high altitude reconnaisannce] information, as they [the Iraqis] were going to hit targets in the southern part of Iran. I remember them landing in Saudi Arabia where we refueled them so that they could go back home ... Of course, within a couple of years of that war ... I went to Washington, initially for the AWACS deal, and then to become military attache there." According to Bandar's timeline, this places the Saudis giving AWACS intelligence to Iraq during the fall of 1980.
Finally, Robert Parry reported in 1996 on a declassified 1981 memo written by Secretary of State Alexander Haig to Reagan, stating "IT WAS ALSO INTERESTING TO CONFIRM THAT PRESIDENT CARTER GAVE THE IRAQIS A GREEN LIGHT TO LAUNCH THE WAR AGAINST IRAN THROUGH FAHD."
Bizarrely, Saddam's act of naked aggression against Iran in September 1980 was never included in the charges levelled against him during the war-crimes tribunal in occupied Iraq. No doubt this is related to the fact that the United States never considered that act of naked aggression a crime in the first place.
At the same time the US was supplying Iran through Iran-Contra over the course of the conflict, keeping Iran in the war by supplying them with the parts necessary to keep the massive military apparatus built up during the Shah's regime in service.
The deadly support to Iraq included increasing supplies of chemical and biological agents well after the first reports of chemical weapon attacks against civillian Kurds in northern Iraq and against Iranian troops in the Gulf War. The first reaction was to deny the accounts. The second reaction was to declare any response to the attacks as "premature". The third response was to sharply escalate the delivery of arms and chemical and biological agents.
After the Senate unanimously passed the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988", which would have cut Iraq off from US loans, military, non-military assistance, credits, credit guarantees, items subject to export controls, and U.S. imports of Iraqi oil the Reagan administration worked to kill the bill in the House, successfully prevented its passage and drastically escalated arms shipments to Saddam to help put down a Kurdish insurgency. The US government, as 1983 State Department memos show, knew that Iraq was acquiring chemical weapons from Western firms, including the US, and it had confirmed that Iraq was using those same chemical weapons in the Iraq-Iran war since October 1982 and against Kurdish insurgents since mid-1983.
With public denunciations of chemical weapons in 1984 came efforts to strengthen the relationship with Saddam: the USG would "improve bilateral relations, at a pace of Iraq's choosing" regardless of chemical weapons. Up until the 1991 invasion of Kuwait the US continued selling chemical and biological weapons to Iraq, and had assisted in their deployment up until the end of the Iraq-Iran war in 1988.
UNSC denunciations - in the form of non-binding UN Presidential statements - of the use of chemical weapons were voted against by the US in 1986. No resolution was attempted because of veto threats. Even after international banks had cut off Iraq in 1989 due to attacks on Kurdish populations the USG issued NSD 26 mandating closer links with Iraq and $1 billion in agricultural loan guarantees. Dozens of arms and technology shipments were authorized.
Directives issued by the Iraqi government in June 1987, according to Human Rights Watch, "lay out, in the most explicit detail, a prohibition on all human life in designated areas of the Kurdish countryside, covering more than 1,000 villages, to be applied through a shoot-to-kill order for which no subsequent higher authorization is required."
Turkey becomes a long-running top recipient of US foreign military aid shortly after the 1980 coup, upon which time the new regime passes several laws banning cultural and literary expression of Kurdish identity: the Kurdish language becomes illegal, as were Kurdish broadcasts, publications, and other means of cultural expression - everything down to Kurdish first names (until August 2002, when such restrictions began being lifted with some relationship to reality under European pressure, though still not much).
Out from under the harsh state repression a Kurish seperatist movement forms in 1984, which the Turkish government duly attempts to wipe out with violence. Throughout the conflict, which by any standard is an explicit campaign of outright cultural genocide, Turkey remains a top recipient of US military support. In fact military aid escalates through the counter-insurgency campaign, in which some of the most brutal tactics are largely dependent on lethal resources generously delivered by the USG.
The war against Kurdish society and the PKK forcibly evacuated anywhere between 500,000 to 2,000,000 Kurds and killed over 30,000; Turkish military razed entire villages as part of the force evacuation program, burning nearly all Kurdish villages in southeast Turkey to the ground by the end of the campaign. Uncritical, unconditional support for Turkey continued despite ongoing political repression and numerous human rights abuses, including the use of torture, "virginity exams", and racist governmental policies.
The PKK in the meantime has the onerous distinction of being considered freedom fighters when in Iraq and terrorists when in Turkey, demonstrating once again Western politicians' inability to just call an indigenous nationalist movement an indigenous nationalist movement.
After the capture of the PKK's top leader the conflict diminished in intensity, but the conflict remains largely unsettled in terms of general Turkish repression of the Kurdish population.
US supports the regime of Hissene Habre, including CIA paramilitary support for his coup. While supporting Chad's resistance to Libyan incursions, the Reagan and Bush administrations turned a blind eye as Habre's secret police slaughtered some 40,000 Chadians and tortured as many as 300,000 others.
Gen. Efra?n R?os Montt stages successful coup in Guatemala, Reagan increases military aid.
CIA allegedly organizes unsuccessful coup attempts against Colonel Desi Bouterse under authorization from President Reagan (such authorization was testified to before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees by William Casey). In 1983 Netherlands security agencies uncover a plot by Florida based groups - often CIA assets for targetting Cuba - to invade the country.
US trainee Oscar Mej?a V?ctores replaces General Montt in another coup.
This is an interesting, somewhat unique case of US intervention, primarily because of the combined factors involving a) what appeared to be an actual Communist coup b) in a country receiving aid, both before and after, from Cuba (as well as from Britain - they were assisting Grenada in the construction of Grenada's first airport, to boost tourism, and which after the invasion the US later assisted in finishing (for tourism)) c) Army and Marine forces were deployed in a much-hyped, non-secret invasion without an accompanying entourage of journalists and d) the casualties altogether numbered under 500.
The liberal government under Bishop had been blacked out from aid and economically by the US, and when Bishop was assassinated in a nearly bloodless coup the US government fabricated a PR blitz to facillitate an overthrow of the new government and installment of another more in line with US interests.
The US pressures Honduras into hosting and training Nicaraguan contras in return for aid money. By 1985 President Suazo Cordova is receiving on the order of $230 million a year from his US partners. Death squad activity and human rights abuses drastically increased shortly after.
In an attempted assassinaton of Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah the CIA plants a car bomb near a mosque, killing 80 civilians and wounding 200 more, and, coincidentally, missing Fadlallah.
Air strikes against Libya, meant as a reprisal for Qaddafi's support of "terrorism" (one should ignore US "non-lethal" support for Libyan exile groups waging terrorism against Libya and the American attacks from 1981 to 1984) and as a limited implementation of plans to overthrow Qaddafi developed by the CIA under Reagan's direction in 1985 (dropped when the plans were leaked to the Washington Post) [*].
The US begins channeling increasing amounts of military aid into Haiti, supporting the represssive military of the failing Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship. The Duvaliers' brutal regimes had been supported by the US since it came to power in 1957, it was responsible for some 40-60,000 deaths through the death squads, known as the Tonton Macoutes. The CIA, at the same time, begins pouring an equal amount of money backing the elections of military candidates until Congress puts a hold on the campaign financing in the late 1980s, and in 1990 a Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is elected to the presidency. His term is cut short by a military coup later that same year and Artistide lives in exile until he is able to return with "assistance" from the US.
With friends like us how can it go wrong? The CIA formed FRAPH in the early 1990s, a paramilitary death squad headed by Emmanuel Constant that launched a terror campaign against Artistide's supporters.
Facing domestic opposition against the coup the Clinton administration began making motions against the military dictatorship, culminating in UN authorization of a military intervention and threats to use force, all the while supplying the military junta with oil in contradiction to its own Presidential Directives and with General Raoul Cedras - the coup leader - still on the CIA's payroll. The eventual change in policy hinged largely on ousted President Aristide's promises to enact the economic policies of his Washington backed opponent in the 1991 election, Marc Bazin. Cedras responded to the threats of force and loss of US support by issuing a letter to former President Jimmy Carter requesting negotiations. In the accords Cedras agreed to step down, and the military invasion became a peacekeeping mission to return Aristide to his broken nation.
Numerous human rights abusers from the military leadership (General Raoul Cedras, General Prosper Avril, Colonel Carl Dorelian, and Emmanuel Constant) took exile in the US after Artistide's re-instatement. These men have never been extradited.
Unlike the highly laudible open-arms policy towards Cuban refugees, Haitian refugees - with the apparent exception of those suspected of crimes against humanity - are sent back, to stay and suffer under the violence of whatever government has lately been appointed by the "international community". Preventing Haitian refugees from reaching the Florida coast is one of the overriding goals of US policy towards the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1988 the USG places an embargo on Panama, after the DEA indicts the US client Noriega on drug trafficking charges. Bush sends 26,000 US troops to invade Panama, killing thousands of Panamanians before capturing a CIA-employee of 30 odd years and bringing him to Florida to stand trial. Of all the charges brought only one took place after 1984, and the US government had known he was involved in the drug trade since 1972.
After years of helping Noriega steal elections despite his well-known abuses, this explanation for his removal does not suffice, nor is it explained as a response to violence against Americans, except as an indication of Noriega's recent unwillingness to follow US orders, in part concerning the canal. His being a thug, and a relatively minor one, was exaggerated to raise public support for the invasion - that the worst human rights abuses were committed by US trained forces is never mentioned.
Regardless of US motivation the intervention may well have been justified, as would operations to oust the US-assisted dictators in El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, etc., all of whom had far worse records of drug trafficing and/or human rights abuse. These having had hand-picked US agents committing the atrocities, no such operations occurred.
Since at least 1988 the US has been fucking with Columbia's internal politics and backing state sponsored and paramilitary violence, well beyond any legal involvement in the "war on drugs" or anything justifying the rape of another South American country, considering the military we're supporting is part of the drug racket and that the people profiting the most off the trade, both in arms and drugs, are Americans.
The violence between FARC and the Columbian military/paramilitary has pushed Columbia's inhabitants deep into poverty, causing cocoa production to explode as farmers move away from what is now unsustainable crop development, exacerbated further by US scorched earth polices, carried out by DynCorp . Caught in the middle of the violence are various Columbianautonomousmunicipalities.
In Colombia, it is well known that those who profit the most from the drug trade are members of the armed forces, the police, government officials, and the "big businessmen" of the urban centers.
The FARC taxes coca, a far cry from trafficking. The FARC also taxes gas, peanuts and furniture.
Coca also is the only crop left that keeps the campesinos' heads above water. The peasant who grows standard crops will have an average annual income of around $250 a year. With coca, they can feed a family on $2,000 a year. These are not robber barons. ...
After reflection on my two decades plus of service, I am convinced that I only served the richest one percent of my country.
What might so obviously be considered one of the bright spots in 20th century history probably deserves some reflection, for example, Russian President Vladmir Putin's statement in April of 2005 that:
"First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory. The epidemic of collapse has spilled over to Russia itself."
It would probably be safer to say that it was the events subsequent to the collapse - guided thoroughly by American economic advisers - that were tragic.
"Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world's economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality."
Saddam Hussein was poster-child for the "Our Kind of Guy" militant dictators club, and was supported by the US throughout his numerous violations of human rights, chemical and biological weapons use against Kurds, and numerous other travesties of justice. He invades western-oil-producing ally Kuwait over a border and debt dispute left over from the US fueled Iran-Iraq war, conflicting with the interests of American big-business and initiating in retalliation the usual disinformation campaign (read: Official Government Lies; Wag the Dog) to fuel support for a war that resulted in some 200,000 Iraqi dead and buried. Allied casualties were initially low, but side effects from unknown causes related to the war have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of veterans since the end of the war.
Despite a perfectly valid justification (that being Iraq did exactly what the US, via April Glaspie [*] and other channels, greenlighted: invade Kuwait) pursuit of the war involved the usual list of infractions in targetting civillian infrastructure and blocking humanitarian supplies through the embargo. Otherwise it can be seen as the invetiable outcome of past US policy in the region: unequivocal support for Iraq through worse atrocities than its Kuwaiti invasion, and including funding the provision to Iraq of the fourth largest standing army in the world prior to the Gulf War.
1991: Kuwait, or "Liberate this!"
Kuwaiti monarchy restored to throne by US, ensuing repression of pro-democracy forces and suspected Iraqi collaborators.
1991-2003: Iraq Sanctions, Disarmament, and Bombing
Following the Gulf War the US advances through the UN the most severe sanctions program in history and initiates a similarly unique decade-long bombing campaign. Between the war, bombing and sanctions the US sent a once-modern nation back to the dark ages.
The campaign of indiscriminate destruction during the Gulf War wiped out 90% of Iraq's water supplies and was responsible for deaths of some 100,000 to 600,000 children under the age of 5, nevermind other mounting casualties and suffering among the civillian population, and making them depedent upon the state for survival. Two directors of the UN humanitarian program in Iraq, Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, resigned in protest of the destruction of civillian life wreaked by the sanctions regime, calling them "genocidal".
Because of such "efforts" Hussein's grip over southern Iraq, if anything, tightened.
A much touted Iraqi defector, Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamel, reported in 1995 that shortly after the Gulf War Iraq destroyed its unconventional weapons. Few actual weapons were found by UNSCOM, no actual chemical weapons were found that the Iraqi government didn't lead inspectors to, and there certainly wasn't anything like the Whitehouse claimed in 2003. Despite Iraqi manuevering both the IAEA and UNSCOM were highly successful in destorying remaining bits and pieces of potential weapons programs, preventing the reconstitution of weapons programs, and verifying that much of Iraq's armaments had been unilaterally destroyed by Iraq. What remained were elements the UN had evidence of, but which Iraq had destroyed their own documents on, making it impossible to definitively prove the program's destruction in 1991. Instead Iraq simply insisted the programs didn't exist.
Rather than seeking disarmament US policy was that sanctions be conditional on regime change rather than disarmament per the UN mandate. Complicating the matter further the US was using inspections for that purpose, making the regime justifiably paranoid about exposure to weapons inspections. Paradoxically the situation feared by successive US administrations was that Iraq actually prove that it had disarmed in 1991 and begin normalizing relations with its neighbors.
1991-?: De-Industrialization of Russia
More a sin of ommission, but US economists played a part in developing the reform plan that more or less knocked the Russian economy back to 1916: Jeffrey Sachs v. Joe Stiglitz on alternatives to 'shock therapy'.
There are a number of prevailing narratives about international involvement in the Balkans that are difficult to sort out, all are convincingly wrong and few spread the blame as generously as it ought to be. One of the few notable exceptions is Burg & Shoup. Relevant to following policy planning is noting continued Washington support for mujahideen through the 90s, continuing from the Afghan-Soviet conflict, that becomes so key to future US policy when the same groups turned increasingly against the master:
During 1992-95, the Pentagon helped with the movement of thousands of mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia, even some Turks, into Europe to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs.
"It was very important in the rise of mujahideen forces and in the emergence of current cross-border Islamic terrorist groups who think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadi mission. In moving to Bosnia, Islamic fighters were transported from the caves of Afghanistan and the Middle East into Europe; from an outdated battleground of the Cold War to the major world conflict of the day; from being yesterday's men to fighting alongside the West's favored side in the clash of the Balkans. If Western intervention in Afghanistan created the mujahideen, Western intervention in Bosnia appears to have globalized it."
This is a quotation from a Dutch government report after investigations, prepared by Professor C Wiebes of Amsterdam University, into the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, entitled "Intelligence and the War in Bosnia", published in April 2002.
--Charles William Maynes, Foreign Policy no. 68, 1995.
Depending on who you talk to it may have been for humanitarian assistance, the hunt for black gold (the suggestion here being that big oil wanted a stable Somalia for commercial reasons, which doesn't negate the humanitarian cause; also big oil has these kinds of claims everywhere. I have a hard time seeing oil interests would have a serious impact on war-making policy unless the oil has already been found and American oil companies need encouragement in securing a claim), geopolitics (something more or less refuted by military command, who are in turn refuted by the US military presence in Somalia from 1980 to 1991, and Ethiopia prior to that), or more likely an ill-fated combination of propaganda, politics, the arms trade, and military budget security (humanitarian assistance on up and up in polls and somehow legitamizes $275 billion in military spending; famine already on the wane at the date of force deployment; history of US/USSR juggling Ethiopia and Somalia combined with the debt crisis imposed by the international community leads to national implosion and civil war that created the necessity of humanitarian assistance in the first place, etc etc).
Whatever the remaining likelihood of good intentions in our intervention in Somalia the possibility of a positive role for the US to play in such operations has been consistently undermined by the foolish imperative in US foreign policy - were we were to take its self-appointed role as "do-gooder" seriously - that any threat, minor as they might be, be crushed with overwhelming force.
During a US initiated mission (which had not been cleared through the UN) to capture General Mohammed Farah Aideed 18 US Rangers under US command were killed, 34 American troops during the entire engagement, leading to the US withdrawal from the UN mission to Somalia in 1994. The UN, of course, was blamed.
US and France support military coup that overthrows Algeria's first elected government (the Islamic Salvation Front). The coup spurs an insurgency, and in the resulting conflct some 100,000 civillians are killed.
Beginning in 1993 with Kazakhstan the US begins pumping military and economic aid to numerous dictatorships in and around Central Asia, effectively - with cooperative assistance from Russia that has the same effect - stabalizing tyrannical dictatorships, mostly left overs from the Soviet era. The unconditional aid, unlinked to human rights or democratization reforms with exceptions such as assistance for anti-nuclear proliferation projects, increases year by year through the late 90s as violent repression of dissent and religious prosecution continue unabaited - the purpose of the aid being for exactly that: to keep the former Soviet Republics in Moscow's orbit (now a partner in Western-dominated international systems) and from forming ties with neighboring independent regimes in Iran and Afghanistan, with whom the largely Muslim inhabitants have far more in common.
After 2001 and the 'war on terror' assistance takes a dramatic leap, with Uzbekistan - one of the worst of the lot - receiving in 2004 the total amount of military assistance it had between 1994 and 2001. The Uzbeki state recieved on the order of $500 million in total US funding in 2003, some $79 million of which is earmarked for torture as a routine investigation technique: "People have less freedom here than under Brezhnev. The irony is that the US Republican party is supporting the remnants of Brezhnevism as part of their fight against Islamic extremism."
Such aid effectively divorces any ties of common interest between the population and the state, allowing regimes to ruthlessly crack down with impunity and with little fear of popular overthrow. Development aid meant to build what is losely called 'civil society' and other "democratization" programs are rendered meaningless by the bribes necessary to allow such programs access to the country - as well as often being mere accessories to narrow US interests, such as most NED funding for "party building" campaigns.
Depending on the size of the bribes necessary to compel leaders to allow access - entirely a regime-by-regime consideration - such that similar Western engagement in Georgia assisted in the overthrow of a corrupt regime, replaced with one more oriented towards the West. The idea that engagement had delivered such a success by itself is misleading: Washington had also withdrawn its support for the regime itself preceeding the coup, even while backing utterly fraudulent elections in Azerbaijan around the same time, as the present tyranny in charge there maintains satisfactory levels of subservience to Washington - which is the critical factor in Washington's decisionmaking. Various brands of analysis, including the WSJ which hardly differs from this narrative, are available here.
The aid is accompanied by the slight rustling sound of human rights reforms, but with no progress to show for it the aid levels continued rising. Ostensibly this is part of an anti-terror campaign, but in effect US military assistance and boondoggle economic loans from the WB/IMF racket serve to legitamize and prop up the regime, sever the regime's ties to the population by making them independent of popular support, nevermind granting the regime greater capabilities for repressing its population with state terror. This is just trading tyranny for tyranny, rather than making some sort of progress. The result is rising anger towards US policies that will likely increase the terrorist threat such support is meant, ostensibly, to prevent.
The US unilaterally prevents UN intervention and refuses to act itself, even minimally, during the Rwandan genocide of some 75% of the Tutsi population, which - unlike in the past when genocidal violence occurred between Tutsi and Hutu in Burundi 20 odd years earlier - was possible and largely supported by many other governments.
USG trains and uncritically supports Croatian military forces, under the tyrant Franjo Trudjman, during the ethnic cleansing of some 200,000 ethnic Serbian civillians from the southern province of Krajina in Operation Storm and Operation Flash, slaughtering thousands of the elderly too weak to flee the area and destroying the bulk of Serbian villages - a campaign that possibly involved US air support.
"We did not think that kind of attack could do anything other than create a lot of refugees and cause a humanitarian problem. On the other hand, it always had the prospect of simplifying matters."
"Crash! boom! flash! .... For the past two weeks, the sounds of bombing have brought smiles to Sarajevans. The bombs are being dropped not by their enemies but by their protectors: the United States, France, Britain and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)."
Dyncorp and MPRI are US defense contractors who were hired by the US during the Balkan crisis to evade restrictions imposed on the use of US military:
"In Bosnia, employees of DynCorp were found to be operating a sex-slave ring of young women who were held for prostitution after their passports were confiscated. ....
In Croatia, MPRI was brought in to provide border monitors in the early 1990's. Then, in 1994, as the United States grew concerned about the poor quality of the Croatian forces and their ability to maintain regional stability, it turned to MPRI. A United Nations arms embargo in 1991, approved by the United States, prohibited the sale of weapons or the providing of training to any warring party in the Balkans. But the Pentagon referred MPRI to Croatia's defense minister, who hired the company to train its forces.
In 1995, MPRI started doing so, teaching the fledgling army military tactics that MPRI executives had developed while on active duty commanding the gulf war invasion. Several months later, armed with this new training, the Croatian army began Operation Storm, one of the bloodiest episodes of "ethnic cleansing" in the Balkans, an event that also reshaped the military balance in the region.
The operation drove more than 100,000 Serbs from their homes in a four-day assault. Investigators for the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague found that the Croatian army carried out summary executions and indiscriminately shelled civilians. "In a widespread and systematic matter, Croatian troops committed murder and other inhumane acts," investigators said in their report. Several Croatian generals in charge of the operation have been indicted for war crimes and are being sought for trial."
US trained and funded death squads to terrorize indigenous population of Chiapas, part of continued centuries long violence against indigenous Americans by the US government and its client states. Through various means the US has supported Mexico's 'low-intensity' war on the ELZN.
US Cruise Missile strikes against an alleged chemical weapons factory turns out to be the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant responisble for the manufacture of over half of Sudan's drug production, producing medicines at 20 percent of world market prices. The strike killed at least one and injured others. Independent investigation of the site was blocked by the US, and with Sudan already under sanctions the loss of available medical supplies had detrimental effects on health in the region causing an explosion in otherwise easily treatable diseases, the full extent of the human cost is impossible to ascertain because of the US prevention of independent investigations.
There are widespread reports that before and after the attack that Sudan repeatedlyoffered to assist the US in counter-terrorism efforts and offered files on Bin Laden (who was in Sudan until 1996). The US ignored these offers, apparently up until the 9/11 WTC and Pentagon attacks.
The World Court ruling finds the US in violation of international law for the Reagan administration's support of the contra war in Nicaragua. The US disregards the ruling out of hand, despite having recognized the court's authority at its inception; further proving the hypocrisy in the US stance towards the rule of law, nevermind the hypocrisy of constant rhetoric about freedom, democracy, and of all things "justice".
Similar rulings and condemnations of US actions in Nicaragua were levied by both the UN Security Council (except for a US veto) and General Assembly (minus the US, Israel and El Salvador).
In Kosovo, Kosovar Albanians, lead by Ibrahim Rugova, persued non-violent resistance to Serb rejection of Kosovar autonomy up until their exclusion from the US-lead Dayton accords, which discredited Rugova's non-violent tactics and lead to the rise of the KLA, a previously unpopular and violent extremist group founded in 1991 (possibly supported by US and German intelligence services, see Operation ROOTS). The KLA began attacking Serb targets, leading to predictably harsh retalliation by Serb forces. In 1990 Kosovars had voted overwhelmingly to declare their independence - forming Rugova's clandestine government - and later, in 1992, abstained from voting in the Yugoslav election, leading to the re-election of Milosevic and guarunteeing continued repression by the FYR. Through all of this, until the KLA rose out of the ashes of Rugova's government, while the USG essentially ignored Milosevic's violent repression of non-violent democratic movements.
The NATO intervention in 1999 was the result of a massive state-led propaganda campaign, where the crimes being committed the year previous to the bombing campaign were exaggerated a hundred fold, the crimes themselves deriving in part from Western unresponsiveness to the large pacifist movement that had - previous to its exclusion from the 1995 Dayton accords - been preventing violent factions from gaining wide support from the population but could not prevent eventual NATO support for the violent factions. In the demonization game inconvenient facts were wiped off the slate, an obvious example would be the massive numbers of Serbian refugees - who prior to the NATO campaign were the largest refugee population in the FYR according to NYT correspondent David Binder (Mediterranean Quarterly, Spring 1996).
UN Resolution 1203, passed in 1998, demanded that the FRY and KLA comply with previous resolutions and called for mutual ceasefires. Abstaining UNSC members Russia and China did not consider 1203 to authorize the use of force and had threatened to veto any resolution that would do so. NATO members asserted otherwise, though the resolution says absolutely nothing with regard to the use of force by outside parties. Subsequent negotiations over the Rambouillet accords in early 1999 broke down over NATO demands (in Appendix B) that required freedom of movement for NATO forces and immunity from legal prosecution throughout the entirety of the FRY - essentially demanding a surrender of FRY sovereignty never demanded by the appropriate body, the UNSC, or agreeable to the conflicting parties. Shortly thereafter bombing strikes were intiated to 'prevent a humanitarian catastrophe'.
The single crime listed in the indictment of Milosevic that occurred previous to the bombing campaign itself was the massacre of 45 residents of Racak, Kosovo. After the bombing campaign had begun in March, to ostensibly prevent further atrocities, atrocities escalated dramatically. In March there was an estimated 450,000 internally displaced ethnic Albanians inside the country - a number resulting from intercene violence between the KLA and FRY. When the NATO bombing began these numbers quickly swelled as 750,000 refugees fled the country and an additional 250,000 people were internally displace. The allied commander Wesley Clark stated three days into the campaign that the dramatic intensification of ethnic cleansing that was underway "was entirely predictable at this stage", contradicting the expressed intent to prevent further atrocity and effacing any possible humanitarian purpose the intervention may have had. Numerous others (CIA Director George Tenet, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D. Alema, military officials, human rights organizations, etc.) had made similar warnings prior to the bombing campaign.
Before the campaign began, of course, there was little evidence for the existence of any humanitarian intent. Looking at USG policies during the same time period elsewhere in the world suggests that, if anything, the opposite is the case. Far worse atrocities occurred in Rwanda where Clinton obstructed any attempt by the UN to intervene, the US-lead sanctions on Iraq were still eating away at Iraqi society from the inside out, and likewise East Timor (where the long awaited response that finally occurred, after many delays, with minimal effort was late by over 25 years) - where the US again obstructed efforts to prevent atrocity, despite the ease with which it could have done so - and Turkey and Israel and Columbia, where in all three cases equal or worse tradgedies were occurring with the active support of the US goverment.
Persuing the bombing campaign lead to the removal of humanitarian organiations - international observation and relief workers - that put some restraints on Serb forces: their removal was officially denounced by the Serbian government. After the 4th week of bombing NATO ran out of military targets and held a conference in which it was decided to engage targets in the FYR and generally expand the bombing to civillian infrastructure [a timeline of indiscriminate bombing]: The bombing of electric and water facilities, factories, residential districts, broadcasting stations, area bombing, and the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium. From a report by the Independent International Commission on Kosovo the NATO bombing resulted in the following:
"59 bridges (seven on the Danube), nine major highways (including Belgrade-Nis or Belgrade-Zagreb), and seven airports were destroyed. Most of the main telecommunications transmitters were damaged, two thirds of the main industrial plants were nearly destroyed. According to NATO, 70% of the electricity production capacity and 80% of the oil refinery capacity was knocked out."
The conditions for ceasing the bombing campaign was not a cease fire to end the atrocities but the unnegotiated surrender of Milosevic, hence the continuation of the bombing regardless of Milosevic's proposition for a ceasefire in late March, which came a week after the bombing began - just as Clinton had predicted before the campaign and contradicting the IICK's and others' similar claims that "After four weeks of bombing, the Yugoslav leadership still would not respond to negotiation proposals."
The result of the campaign has been the placement of more or less permanent US military bases, such as Camp Bondsteel [*], placed throughout the region, yet "some Western diplomatic sources scoff at the idea of Kosovo having any real strategic value." One strategic value, as many commentators noted, was by doing something it maintained a technically defunct organization's existence - which having no enemy set to invade Western Europe must find new reasons for existence - i.e. NATO and its "credibility".
NATO bombs "killed about 1,200 civilians - or one civilian for every 10 tons dropped", a ratio "remarkably similar to that of ... Vietnam". Like Vietnam unexploded ordinance from over 1300 cluster bombs will produce further casualties for years down the road. The bombing campaign, an atrocity itself, increased "predictably" the ongoing atrocity of Serbian counter-insurgency operations in Kosovo to the scale of ethnic cleansing. Regardless of whatever good intentions might have vocalized, in human terms the Kosovo intervention was an abject and utter failure. The situation since the bombing hasn't improved, in fact, it's gotten much worse.
The ex-junta had originally been trained, organized, and funded by US intelligence services and had killed thousands of Haitians during their four years of rule in the early 90s - their founder, Emmanuel Constant, continues to reside protected in the US. The former dictator they had been trained to replace, Jean-Claude Duvalier, himself resides in France.
In February of 2004, after years of political wrangling groups with ties to the Haitian junta of the early 90s begin an armed revolt in Northern Haiti, and with cooperation from the US military enable a coup against the elected president.
10/2001-Present: US campaign in
Afghanistan. You Too Can Make a Desert and Call It Peace.
"Every principle needs a vanguard to carry it forward and [to] put up with heavy tasks and enormous sacrifices. This vanguard constitutes the strong foundation (al qaeda al-sulbah) for
the expected society."
Last time I checked there were as many as 3,000 direct casualties, a number based off press clippings collected by Marc Herold, though others have since made similar estimates. This number is a) probably wrong, b) even wildly inaccurate, as it is c) probably an undercount. Tallies based of limited sets of confirmed incidents give totals of around 1500. Presumably alongside the WTC monument for the thousands of innocents killed on 9/11 there won't be any burdensome mention of thousands of innocents killed in the American attack on Afghanistan.
Granting the Taliban's ruthlessness, the forces standing in line for control of Afghanistan in their absence didn't provide much of a mock-up for an available, peaceful, freedom loving replacement (a situation guaranteed by past US incubation of 'Islamofacism' in Afghanistan). Such proposals were not unique, as the Taliban had previously offered to extradite Bin Laden before the 1998 US cruise-missile strikes. Reasons to believe extradition was a possibility are not implausible, it was even reported that the ISI supported extradition, wishing to neutralize Bin Laden rather than threaten the Taliban regime.
"a route through Afghanistan appears to be the best option with the fewest technical obstacles. It is the shortest route to the sea and has relatively favorable terrain for a pipeline. The route through Afghanistan is the one that would bring Central Asian oil closest to Asian markets and thus would be the cheapest in terms of transporting the oil.
--Testimony by John J. Maresca VP, International Relations Unocal Corporation To House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia And The Pacific, Feb 12, 1998
While counter-terrorism funding increased from $2 billion in 1990 to $12 billion in 2000, middle-east counter-terrorism programs in the CIA were weak and little effort was apparently made to strengthen them significantly [* Atlantic Monthly, 8/01]. Niether was airport security stepped up as often requested [* Village Voice, 5/16/02]. According to the NYT (5/18/02): "The F.B.I. had been aware for several years that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network were training pilots in the United States and elsewhere around the world". If indeed protecting Americans from terrorism was a major priority for the US government one would expect at the same time that they would have beefed up domestic security - they didn't. Terrorism certainly wasn't enough of a priority to divert funding from ballistic missile programs towards prevention: (NYT, 5/17/02) "As late as Sept. 9, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld threatened a presidential veto when the Senate proposed to divert $600 million to counterterrorism from ballistic missile defense.". But they did have plans to topple the Taliban, the order for their design coinciding with failures to schmooze the Taliban into a pipeline deal. We would perhaps suggest that the framework behind pre-9/11 strike plans against the Taliban were drafted in relation to some priority greater than counter-terrorism.
In terms of anti-terrorism a strong case can be made that the Afghanistan campaign has been an abject failure, even disregarding the massive terrorism the campaign itself involved, as is usually required. According to senior government officials, quoted by the NYT "Classified investigations of the Qaeda threat now under way at the F.B.I. and C.I.A. have concluded that the war in Afghanistan failed to diminish the threat to the United States". Thus far attempts to gather intelligence about, target and destroy the Al-Qaeda organization appears to have failed to achieve much besides confusing the bejeezus out of US officials, nevermind that The Evil One remains at large.
Progress on human rights issues and "liberation" have been slow to inconsequential. The post-Taliban situation for women has so far "in large measure rendered women's participation in public life almost impossible", according to HRW, which is a far cry from the propaganda efforts by the US government about bringing the gravy train of liberty to Afghanistan. Reports on human rights violations as of mid-2003 are even more devastating.
Weber, a power player in GOP political circles who retired from Congress in 1993, has served as chairman of the board for the obscure but influential National Endowment for Democracy since January 2001. The NED, a private nonprofit agency, was founded in the early Eighties with the express goal of fostering democratic ideals abroad...In all, some $877,000 in NED funds has been distributed in Venezuela in the past year. Most of those funds were funneled to opposition movements by the four NED affiliates, including the International Republican Institute (IRI). The day after Chavez's removal, IRI President George Folsom--an advisor to former President George H.W. Bush--issued a statement praising the coup, saying, "The Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country." Defending it against the 60% of the people who voted for Chavez, not once but twice?
US invades Iraq officially to find WMD and a host of other nutty conspiracy theories that were peddled to drag America into a war to maintain hegemony over the region without depending on Saudi Arabia, making it one of America's first ass-backwards capitulations to the demands of Al Qaeda. The first results of the decision were to step up the bombings of command and control structure in mid-2002. Saddams' documented use of chemical weapons, particularly againt Kurdish civillians, was used repeatedly as justification for the war: yet since the US ended material support for Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War the government's own documents point out that there have been no documented uses of chemical warfare "against his own people".
The argument on humanitarian grounds, with possible exceptions made for ongoing campaigns against the Marsh Arabs, falls apart when considering three things: a) the largely undiscussed effect a major war would have on the population at large; b) an unnecessary march into Baghdad and Sunni areas where Saddam has broader support, when the problem is solved in Kurdish areas - who had autonomy thanks to US intervention - and the real problem is in the Shi'ite south; c) the lack of an ongoing campaign of genocide that would justify such an intervention; d) the likelihood that removing economic sanctions while reinforcing the arms embargo would have been sufficient to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi masses; and e) the well documented but undiscussed total lack of post-war planning that would be necessary for successful humanitarian intervention, as well as the lack of broad international support that is always, likewise, a necessary component of such missions.
'Humanitarian' justification regarding Saddam's use of torture and the police state were rendered meaningless when compared to US allies in the region and elsewhere - Saudi Arabia would only be the most obvious example, Israel, Columbia, Uzbekistan, and Egypt all offer up similar examples of the dedication to human rights - which the US uses to bypass its own laws and torture suspected criminals: perhaps Canada should invade the US to end its use of torture.
Regarding the Marsh Arabs specifically, after a year of occupation many joined with the Muqtada al-Sadr's followers and began fighting "coallition" forces. They are now being killed by US forces for the same reasons they were once being killed by Saddam's. There was no humanitarian intervention, there was no planning for one, and judging from the actions of those in command, no interest in one.
The US engages in direct colonial rule over a foreign nation for the first time since granting Hawaii statehood in the 50s. Child mortality rates, three months after taking Baghdad, actually start rising under US administration. Oil production remains below pre-invasion levels. Electrity is extremely unstable. Mortality rates steadily rise, primarily due to violence, indicating a death toll over half a million between 2003 and 2006.
2004-2009: Somalia - The Hard Power of Reverse Psychology
"The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia"
--State Department internal memo, quoted in the New York Times, December 27, 2006, Section A, Page 6, Column 3.
CIA support beginning sometime around 2004 for the Mogadishu warlords that kicked us out of Somalia in 1994 brings together a coalition that non-descriptly calls itself the "Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism". They get their asses kicked in the second battle of Mogadishu by the Islamic Court Union, support for whom across all sectors of Somali society appears to be not a little influenced by simple widespread opposition to American meddling and the business community's desire for stability.
Somalia experts seem to consider this defeat for the US as a positive change for Somalia, noting the horrible human rights records of the warlords and the positive stability and protection for business under areas of ICU control, perhaps demonstrating the new efficacy of reverse psychology when America backs criminal elements in foreign societies.
At the end of 2006 the United States backs a full Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to push the ICU out of power, even allowing arms transfers from North Korea to Ethiopia, in an apparent effort to ignite another Islamist insurgency against occupying powers. The intense fighting in Mogadishu displaces hundreds of thousands.
When Ethiopia withdraws after three years of fighting in January 2009, new Islamist groups formed to fight an insurgency against the invasion fill the vacuum and take the seat of the UN-backed transitional Somali government within hours. The transitional parliament expands to include 200 Islamists, and proceeds to elect the former chairman of the ICU, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as president.
Escalating CIA and US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) drone attacks in Northwest Pakistan.
2004-Present: Everywhere, Nowhere, and the Places In Between
Originally established in 1980 as a hostage rescue team, the Bush administration expands the role of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), under the command of General Stanley McChrystal, to become a clandestine hit squad, paramilitary, and intelligence unit, operating in about 60 countries. On one of their first non-hostage related missions, an early deployment of JSOC's Military Liaison Elements lead to the successful permanent neutralization of a petty thief in Paraguay.
President Obama signed an Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order further expanding their field of operations to 75 countries in the Pacific, South and Central America, Central Asia, and the Near East. While the Bush administration had little qualms about ordering the assassination abroad of swarthy foreigners, Barack Obama has taken the additional step of putting hit orders on American citizens by simple executive fiat, with no congressional or judicial oversite, let alone due process. In a peculiar disregard for tourism safety, the State Department has yet to release a travel advisory for Americans travelling outside the US, who may be attacked by flying robots at the whim of the President.
In addition to assassination and torture and perhaps waging undeclared war against foreign states - all illegal under US and international law - JSOC operates as a clandestine military unit, often outsourcing operations to private contractors, and carries out missions feigning civilian status, or worse yet, aid worker status, a perfidy violation under the Laws of War.
The US begins backing revolutionary and separatist groups inside and outside Iran that are engaged in various terrorist campaigns against the Iranian government.
Funding for their separatist causes [inside Iran] comes directly from the CIA's classified budget but is now "no great secret", according to one former high-ranking CIA official in Washington who spoke anonymously to The Sunday Telegraph.
During the Honduran coup the US State Department delays an official State Department determination that a coup in fact took place for months as a run around a law that prohibits military and economic aid to coup regimes, and recognizes election results that take place under a climate of state terror.
Present: The New Colonialism - US Military Cities Abroad
It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.
These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.
For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.
1944-Present: The US government tries to
erase its own history.
Not only by controlling the manifolds of public/academic/media access to government agencies but by outright destruction of its own historical documents. The demands of national security require that certain agencies are not held accountable for their actions for some finite length of time, but a nation is only damaged by wiping out its past.
The State Department's own historians hired to review the declassification process have been duly outraged by such policies. Dr. Warrant Cohen resigned as chairman of HADCOM in 1989 because of distortions of the documentary record regarding US policy towards Iran.
The US, which may be the last "hegemon", has taken the lead on behalf of the agenda of transnational elite. The World Bank estimates that by the early 1980's, intra-firm trade within the largest 350 transnational corporations contributed about 40% of global trade. The nation-state is increasingly becoming obsolete as the unit of analysis. Though economy and decision-making interacts, the 'independent' variable which ultimately counts is the economic globalization.
A military history and status reports for US military actions are provided in detail by Global Security. The Federation of American Scientists also has a large body of work on arms sales monitoring that is key to this discussion:
U.S.-origin weapons find their way into conflicts the world over. The United States supplied arms or military technology to more than 92% of the conflicts under way in 1999. The costs to the families and communities afflicted by this violence is immeasurable. But to most arms dealers, the profit accumulated outweighs the lives lost. In the 1990's, over 65% of world arms deliveries were sold or given to developing nations, where lingering conflicts or societal violence can scare away potential investors.
It was largely the Senior Bush and then president Clinton that catapulted the US into domination of the global arms market. In 1988 we had a 25% share, by 1994 that share was over 50%, and that number has kept rising since. I understand that this is partly due to an overall decrease in the international arms trade - which makes the subject indicative of US attitudes towards internationally cooperative policies that would contribute in some way towards real reductions in arms.
School of the Americas: Now
the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - an old dog with a new name.
Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians.
School alumni include: 48 out of 69 Salvadoran military members cited in the U.N. Truth Commission.s report on El Salvador for involvement in human rights violations (including 19 of 27 military members implicated in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests),2 and more than 100 Colombian military officers alleged to be responsible for human rights violations by a 1992 report issued by several human rights organizations.3 School graduates have also included several Peruvian military officers linked to the July 1992 killings of nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University, and included several Honduran officers linked to a clandestine military
force known as Battalion 316 responsible for disappearances in the early 1980s.
Andrew Bacevich expresses clearly a view that is increasingly encountered in mainstream American commentary, acknowledging for better or worse, a new imperial role for the United States: "..the question that Americans can no longer afford to dodge&emdash;is not whether the United States has become an imperial power. The question is what sort of empire they intend theirs to be." [Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002)244] Bacevich ends his book by stressing the importance of this acknowledgement of empire, insisting that concealing such an imperial reality will lead to "..not just the demise of the American empire but great danger for what used to be known as the American republic."
There's a fine line of difference between playing global hegemon and playing empire, but it's an important distinction. Though the phrase "benevolent hegemony" is absurd when applied to a nation routinely relies on violent force to expand or protect its political, economic, and cultural influence, if the USG allowed the exercise of its dominance over other nations to diffuse into more democratic structures it doesn't follow that China or Russia would be able to swoop in and dominate those nations as though the US had disappeared. That was something of the promise of the UN beyond it's being a tool for inter-power management, and it's still there if we want it, waiting for phrases like "cooperative security" and "globalization" to be injected with some meaning for real people.
There are always those dipsetic bores that shrug and issue forth such fatalistic banalities as "history is cruel", "mankind is inhuman", or "rape is like the weather". We should remember that history is filled with great romances, that to be human is to love, and that most days the weather is really quite nice and ought not be so brutally anthropomorphized.
the above material being my notes on American foreign policy and relevant 20th century history, comments, suggestions, and the like about errors, contentions, or affirment can be mailed to buermann[at]flagrancy.net. All materials linked to, quoted from, and disabused of their appropriate context within the context of fair use, without permission from authors, organizations, or appropriate government agencies, foreign or domestic, all rights presumably reserved by the original authors.
Original material in the present document may be copied, distributed, and altered as prescribed by the
Open Content License (OPL),
The history of the American invasion of Haiti is only additional evidence that the United States is among those Powers in whose international dealings democracy and freedom are mere words, and human lives negligible in face of racial snobbery, political chicane, and money.