Making the World Safe for Democracy
The United States of America were formed with very high expectations in its people, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...
Unfortunately those ideals no longer apply to current governance nor to our foreign policy. The consent of the governed is not truly a concern of the American government. Governments of foreign countries are expected to cater to the multinational corporations or risk an overthrow. This has been our foreign policy for many years.
I find it quite appalling the United States is now simultaneously pursuing unrest and coups in both Ukraine and Venezuela, with the first having the real danger of initiating another world war, between the US and Russia, ironically 100 years after the 'first' world war that began in 1914, the war to end all wars, or as President Wilson put it in 1917 when the US entered the conflict: "to make the world safe for democracy".
With the US having special forces in so many countries around the world, we are certainly well positioned to make sure all those countries are properly following the wishes of American corporate interests, though that result is definitely not the same as having a stable popular democracy, which would prioritize the needs of the local population over those of foreign corporations.
Here is a link offering brief descriptions for 33 US instigated coups since World War 2. One can only wonder whether the US was involved in others not listed, when knowing both of the wide distribution of special forces and of the Operation Gladio program first initiated after WW2 but still recognized as threat to democracy in Europe in 1990 when condemned by the European Parliament, over 40 years later.
Here are several brief coup highlights. Since this is chronological and I was inspired to write this page by events in Ukraine in March 2014, comments about the Ukraine are at the bottom.
1953 Iran - overthrow of Mossadegh
In 1951 after the election of Mohammed Mossadegh to Prime Minister, Iran began the move to nationalize oil production in the country, so the benefits of the natural resources would remain in Iran, rather than flow to foreign countries. In 1953, the CIA organized large protests against Mossadegh and successfully put in place a new prime minister, who was later replaced by Shah Pahlavi. The brutality of the Shah's regime helped foster unrest leading to the 1979 Iranian revolution. The CIA's involvement in the 1953 coup is at the heart of current diplomatic difficulties between the US and Iran. Our nearby puppet dictator in Iraq of the 1980's, Saddam Hussein, even conducted an invasion and war with Iran, a conflict lasting about 8 years.
1954 Guatemala - overthrow of Arbenz Guzman
The term 'banana republic' was coined to refer to the servile dictatorships in Central America, where companies like the United Fruit Company asked the US to replace the popular government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, who in 1952 began socio-economic reform, to distribute unused prime farmlands back to the peasants, land which had been passed to the multinational corporation by previous dictatorships. Various military dictators ruled for many years to follow.
November 22, 1963 - assassination of JFK
Among the many books about the JFK assassination, JFK and the Unspeakable by James W Douglass also offers details about events during the Kennedy administration. Several quotes and descriptions below come from that book. While John F Kennedy was certainly elected President based on his strong Cold War stance, some of his later decisions during his term indicated a possible change from that confrontational perspective.
On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower gave his farewell address with the remarks "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."
In April 1961, the CIA trained a Cuban exile brigade and staged an invasion of Cuba with the expectation US armed forces would follow. JFK realized this was a CIA trap for escalation so he refused, saying he wants 'to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.'
In July 1961, JFK is presented a plan by the Joint Chiefs and CIA for a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in late 1963 preceded by a period of heightened tensions; Kennedy walks out of the meeting, saying "and we call ourselves the human race."
On September 29, 1961, Nikita Khrushchev smuggled a first confidential letter to JFK. On October 19, 1961, JFK responds privately, including, "whatever our differences, our collaboration to keep the peace is as urgent - if not more urgent - than our collaboration to win the last world war."
In April 1962, JFK forced the leaders of the American steel industry to rescind a price increase that violates an agreement to combat inflation, angering leaders of the military-industrial complex.
In July 1962, the US signed the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos, in opposition to the CIA and Pentagon.
In October 1962, JFK is confronted with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Upon the discovery of Soviet missiles, advisors push to bomb and invade Cuba but JFK does a blockade instead. A U2 plane is shot down over Cuba so a quick retaliatory attack is recommended. Instead John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy work back channels, like the Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, to communicate with Krushchev where an agreement is reached for the withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are outraged by the refusal to attack Cuba.
On June 10, 1963, Kennedy delivered his Commencement Address at American University, including ""What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war." He also announced: "I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume."
In September 1963, the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a report evaluating a projected nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union, in a time scheme up to 1968, with the remaining months of 1963 being the most advantageous. Kennedy responded "Preemption is not possible for us." Later in the month, the Senate approved the Limited Test Ban Treaty.
In September 1963, JFK worked through intermediaries to discuss the feasibility of rapprochement between Cuba and US. He also reopens a secret channel of communications between himself and Khrushchev because he no longer trusts the State Department. On November 19, 1963, he told a close friend, he "intended to be the first US president to visit the Kremlin, as soon as he and Khrushchev reached another arms control agreement."
In October 1963, JFK issued National Security Action Memorandum 263 to withdraw from Vietnam by the end of 1965 the bulk of US personnel.
When Fidel Castro got the news JFK was assassinated, he said, "Everything is changed. Everything is going to change." According to a high official of the Soviet Embassy in Washington (as described by Press Secretary Pierre Salinger), when Khrushchev was informed of the JFK assassination he first wept, then withdrew in a shell. "He just wandered around his office for several days, like he was in a daze." Neither is a reaction to be expected from one involved in the murder.
There are many theories about the assassination of JFK, and the book by James Douglass suggests it was an 'inside job.'
One thing is certain. The military industrial complex is not truly accountable to Congress nor to the American people. The recent Edward Snowden revelations made that clear.
However this lack of accountability has existed for decades. In 2006, whistle blower Russ Tice wanted to inform a Congressional committee about unlawful acts by American intelligence agencies. This was denied because: "On January 09, 2006, NSA sent a letter addressed to Mr. Tice and asserted that no senators, congressmen or staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) or the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) possessed high enough security clearance to be briefed by Mr. Tice."
As pointed out by former NSA executive Bill Binney, this means the NSA is "violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they're running so they can have effective oversight, which they've never had anyway."
1964 Brazil - overthrow of Goulart
In 1963 President Joao Goulart instituted his Basic Reforms Plan, which aimed at socializing the profits of large companies towards ensuring a better quality of life for most Brazilians. This was labelled as a socialist threat so within a year the US supported a military coup.
The current president of Brazil in the elections of 2010, Dilma Rousseff, was captured, tortured, and jailed by the US-backed military dictatorship between 1970 and 1972.
September 11, 1973 Chile - overthrow of Allende
After the 1970 election of Salvadore Allende, he began implementing a socialist program, including government run health care, an educational system, and an expansion of a land seizure and redistribution program. It also included nationalization of large industries like copper mining and banking. This program resulted in Nixon and Kissinger ordering the CIA to unseat him, whose efforts were successful by organizing opposition groups and labor strikes, eventually resulting in a military takeover. Immediately after the coup, hundreds of Allende's supporters were tortured and executed. During Pinochet's 17 years of repression, many political opponents simply disappeared.
As part of the coup, the Chicago Boys brought the free market economy to Chile. Economist Milton Friedman called this the Miracle of Chile. However the years of this shock therapy were marked by mass unemployment, extreme economic inequality, and several socio-economic damage.
1980s - Contras in Nicaragua
After the Sandinistas took power in 1979, they instituted a policy of mass literacy, devoted resources to health care, and promoted gender equality. In response, the CIA funded and trained the Contras to overthrow this government.
In 1984, the International Court of Justice began the case of the Republic of Nicaragua v The United States of America and in 1986 ruled in favor of Nicaragua. Despite the loss the US refused to comply, leading to the non-binding UN resolution in 1986, passed by a vote of 94-3 urging the US to comply.
A few extracts from the 1986 judgment:
3. The US has acted in in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State;
4. The US has acted in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to use force against another State;
5. The US has acted in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to violate the sovereignty of another State;
6. The US has acted in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce;
Unfortunately, the US continues to intervene in the affairs of other states, to the detriment of their citizens. Like a bully, American foreign policy is marked by violence, intimidation, and subversion. The ICJ ruling in 1986 is still relevant to American actions in 2014.
1980s - militant Islam in Afghanistan
Operation Cyclone was the CIA program to arm and finance the Afghan mujahideen prior to and during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The program favored the militant Islamic groups in Pakistan, which managed most of the training and support (funds came from the US), rather than groups within Afghanistan. The Pakistani ISI also favored the vigorous Islamists. This group based on militant Islam later became Al Qaeda. In 1989 Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto warned the first President George Bush, "You are creating a veritable Frankenstein." However Al Qaeda has been very useful for the US whenever unrest is needed in any of the Islamic countries in the Middle East.
Recent interventions in the Middle East
Only a few weeks after the 9-11 airplane attacks in 2001, the United States military was already planning to invade 7 countries in the next 5 years, to make sure we had that portion of the world (the Middle East) under our military and economic control. An interview of General Wesley Clark included that revelation.
Since then, the United States has certainly been involved in the affairs of these 7 countries. The US militarily invaded and occupied both Aghanistan (2001 invasion) and Iraq (2003 invasion).
In 2003, the US invaded Iraq on the grounds Saddam Hussein continued to possess significant chemical and biological weapons capability, in violation of UN resolutions, though none were found during or after the invasion. Perhaps there was another justification for the regime change; in 1999 Iraq switched to trading its oil in euros not dollars. Over the course of the war more than 3 million Iraqis were displaced.
The civil war in Sudan was somewhat ended in 2005 when an agreement was reached allowing South Sudan to become independent in 2011.
In 2006, Israel invaded and bombed Lebanon, a 34 day conflict that was certainly conducted with American approval given the actions by Secretary of State Rice delaying its conclusion.
In 2011, the United States initiated a civil war that successfully led to the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, through the use of the alliance between the US and Al Qaeda.
Apparently another reason Libya became a threat to America is Gaddafi (or Gadhafi) intended to push other African and Middle Eastern governments away from the US dollar. This destabilization effort in Libya was also accompanied by insurgencies elsewhere in Africa.
In 2013, the United States initiated a civil war in Syria, with the goal of overthrowing the government of Bashar al-Assad. As in Libya, the US has used our ally Al Qaeda to generate the great unrest that would destabilize the government, even arming the rebels with chemical weapons. At the time of this writing (March 2014), the Assad regime has survived this insurgency driven by foreigners.
Drone attacks continued in Yemen, in 2013 including on a wedding party.
Drone attacks continued in Somalia, in 2014.
After the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the US froze billions of dollars in Iranian assets, and after the invasion of Iran by Iraq, the US increased sanctions against Iran in 1984. Sanctions continue against Iran, as the US is apparently still determined to overthrow the Islamic regime. Currently, further sanctions are justified as preventing Iran from furthering a nuclear weapons program, but it is often portrayed in the mainstream media as though Iran has this non-existent weapons program, as American intelligence has confirmed only programs for nuclear power and nuclear isotopes. Israel has assassinated a number of Iranian scientists in recent years, in an apparent attempt to slow down any nuclear programs.
Recent interventions in Latin America
2002 Venezuala - overthrow of Chavez
The United States had many problems with the policies of Hugo Chavez over his 14 years in office. In 2002, a coup was attempted to remove Chavez from office but it lasted only 47 hours, due to the massive public support for his government. Of course, the US was involved in the attempt against this vocal critic of US policies.
2004 Haiti - overthrow of Aristide
In 2004, cooperation between US, Canada, and France resulted in the removal of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was having mixed success with a populist agenda of higher minimum wages, literacy programs, and higher taxes on the rich.
The 2010 elections in Haiti were apparently a sham, with foreign involvement. The US and Haiti relations have not been fair over the years.
2009 Honduras - overthrow of Zelaya
In 2009, President Manual Zelaya was kidnapped and flown from the country, replaced by a dictatorship. Under his government, free education for all children was introduced, farmer subsidies were provided, the minimum wage was increased, and several measures were taken to help those in extreme poverty. Shortly after the coup, Canada sought a free-trade agreement.
2010 Ecuador - overthrow of Correa
In 2010, there was a brief coup attempt against President Rafael Correa, who has been a vocal critic of the US, but it could not succeed given his high approval rating. He has doubled spending on health care, and increased other social spending.
2014 Venezuela - pending, possible overthrow of Maduro
After being unsuccessful with deposing Chavez, the US is now working on getting rid of the new President, Nicolas Marduro elected in 2014. Here is one commentary about a memo from the Brookings Institute. The NED is ever present.
The US appears intent on initiating more regime changes in several countries in Latin America which recently gained some economic independence from American influence, like those in the Mercosur.
2014 Ukraine - installation of a pro-American government
The released transcript of a February 2014 phone conversation between the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, and the US Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, revealed the US was picking who would be in the new administration in the Ukraine. This is not 'consent of the governed' but instead regime change by a foreign government picking the next administration.
Though the US and allies helped defeat the Nazis in World War 2, the US has now installed a neo-Nazi government in the Ukraine.
President Putin has reacted to this US instigated regime change by protecting the Russian interests in the area, where the Western part of the Ukraine is pro-West while the Eastern part of the Ukraine is pro-Russian. This division in external orientation is partially because the boundaries of Ukraine changed in the 20th Century, when in 1919 Lenin gave the Ukraine the eastern and southern provinces and in 1954 Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine, but Russia kept its Black Sea port. The people in these eastern provinces have Russian ancestry. However American interests want control over those Eastern provinces because of the interdiction possibilities (for both military and economic reasons) on the Russian border, so that is why the current regime change is so important - especially to America.
The current situation in the Ukraine is very dangerous, both to the people in the area with their government in flux due to foreign influences, and to the world with the two nuclear powers US and Russia confronting each other with so much at stake. The hypocrisy of the US warning Russia not to intervene in the Ukraine, after the US just managed the current regime change, is just astounding!
With the recent US instigated unrest in Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine, it appears the neocons have returned to a dominant position in US foreign policy.
The United States appears, by its many interventions in the affairs of many other governments, quite intent on keeping the world safe for American business.
created - Mar. 2014
last change - 03/16/2014
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