31 March 2022

The Other Imperial War


Russia's invasion of Ukraine has held the world spellbound. Not since the Yugoslav wars has Europe seen such a conflict on its doorstep. The massive land-driven invasion brings to mind images of WWII.

As always in the fog of war, propaganda is flying on all sides. The first European conflict of the social media age has whipped up the western world into a frenzy of virtue-signaling.



Steve Sailer reports:    

The Metropolitan Opera said it would cut ties with Russian artists or institutions “allied” (to use state-funded NPR’s word) with President Vladimir Putin. … In Wales, an orchestra removed Tchaikovsky. … The University of Milano-Bicocca postponed a series of lectures on Fyodor Dostoevsky “to avoid any controversy.”

Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire signed an executive order directing state-run liquor stores to stop selling Russian products. Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah have done the same.  … FIFA has banned Russia indefinitely, meaning the country won’t be able to compete for the World Cup. The International Paralympic Committee has also banned Russian athletes.

What prides itself as the “United Nations of cat federations” (FIFe) has banned Russian-owned and Russian-bred cats from all competitions because it “cannot just witness these atrocities and do nothing.”


Russia's 'imperial' ambitions have shocked the West. Images of bombs falling on homes, tanks rolling through cities, dead children on stretchers—it is appalling. 

So appalling, in fact, that it is easy to forget the murder and mayhem perpetrated by that other great imperial power these last 80 years. As 'Physicist Dave' puts it, 

'Try to name all the countries that have been attacked, invaded, bombed, conquered, or had their governments overthrown by the US just during your lifetime.

Really — get a piece of paper and try to write them all down.

There are so many that I bet that you cannot even remember them all.'


We will take up the challenge.

America's imperial adventurism has become so omnipresent on planet Earth these last three-quarters of a century that we hardly seem to notice it.

In condemning the suffering caused by Mr. Putin's war, most Americans seem oblivious to the fact that their own tax dollars support a world-spanning empire that has its claws sunk into every inch of the globe, spying, prying, arming, meddling, funding, bombing, and starving. The 80-year 'Pax Americana' has come at an unimaginably heavy cost.


We thus propose to scrub off the blue and yellow greasepaint, just for a moment, and to remember that other long, long imperial war.



I. The Cold War


As the two big teams jockeyed for position on the planetary chessboard for half a century following WWII, the U.S. developed a mortal fear of anything even remotely redolent of socialism, be it near or far.


This led to regular covert and overt U.S. action against democratically-elected governments and in favor of dictators pledging allegiance to free-market capitalism.



A stroll down memory lane…






The US was an active participant in the Chinese civil war. The US airlifted many KMT (Kuomintang—Chinese nationalist) troops from central China to Manchuria. Approximately 50,000 U.S. troops were sent to guard strategic sites in Hubei and Shandong. The U.S. trained and equipped KMT troops, and also transported Korean troops and even imperial Japanese troops back to help KMT forces fight, and ultimately lose, against the People's Liberation Army.



In 1910, Imperial Japan annexed Korea, where it ruled for 35 years until its surrender at the end of World War II on 15 August 1945. The United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea along the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation. The Soviets administered the northern zone and the Americans administered the southern zone. In 1948, as a result of Cold War tensions, the occupation zones became two sovereign states. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.


North Korean military (Korean People's Army (KPA)) forces crossed the border and drove into South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United Nations Security Council denounced the North Korean move as an invasion and authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea to repel it.

…The fighting ended on 27 July 1953 when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict. 


The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, with approximately 3 million war fatalities and a larger proportional civilian death toll than World War II or the Vietnam War. It incurred the destruction of virtually all of Korea's major cities, thousands of massacres by both sides, including the mass killing of tens of thousands of suspected communists by the South Korean government, and the torture and starvation of prisoners of war by the North Koreans. North Korea became among the most heavily bombed countries in history.




After WWII, Greece exploded in civil war. By early 1947, the British government could no longer afford the huge cost of financing the war against DSE (Communists), and pursuant to the October 1944 Percentages Agreement between Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, Greece was to remain part of the Western sphere of influence. 
Accordingly, the British requested the US government to step in and the U.S. flooded the country with military equipment, military advisers and weapons. With increased U.S. military aid, by September 1949 the government eventually won, fully restoring the Kingdom of Greece.


Costa Rica

Christian socialist medic Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia of the National Republican Party reached power through democratic means in 1944, promoting a general social reform and allied to the Costa Rican Communist Party. Tensions between government and the opposition, supported by the CIA, caused the Costa Rican Civil War of 1948 that ended Calderón's government.




Operation Valuable, also known as the Albanian subversion, was one of the earliest covert U.S. paramilitary operations in the Eastern Bloc. The main goal of the operation was to overthrow the government of communist Albania. The US and UK recruited anti-communist Albanians who had fled after the USSR invaded. They formed the Free Albania National Committee, made up of many of the emigres, who infiltrated the country multiple times. Eventually, the operation was found out and many of the agents fled, were executed, or were tried. 

The operation resulted in 300 deaths and was one of the most carefully concealed secrets of the Cold War. In 2006, some 2,300 pages of documents laying out major parts of the Albania Project under its two major cryptonyms, BGFIEND and OBOPUS, were declassified by a U.S. government interagency working group acting under the terms of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act.




In Operation Paper, which began in late 1950 or early 1951 following Chinese involvement in the Korean War, the CIA hired Chinese nationalist militants from Taiwan and transported them to Burma, reinforcing the Kuomintang insurgency. The insurgency was also known as the Yunnan Province Army. The nationalists were flown via the Civil Air Transport (CAT, later named Air America), an airline co-owned and operated by the CIA and the Kuomintang in Taiwan.

Kuomintang leadership hoped to eventually retake China, despite opposition from the US State Department. However, each attempted invasion was repelled by the Chinese army. The Kuomintang took control of large swaths of Burma, while the government of Burma complained repeatedly of the military invasion to the United Nations.




In February 1952, following January's riots in Cairo amid widespread nationalist discontent over the continued British occupation of the Suez Canal and Egypt's defeat in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt Jr. was dispatched by the State Department to meet with Farouk I of the Kingdom of Egypt.


American policy at that time was to convince Farouk to introduce reforms that would weaken the appeal of Egyptian radicals and stabilize Farouk's grip on power. The U.S. was notified in advance of the successful July coup led by nationalist and anti-communist Egyptian military officers (the "Free Officers") that replaced the Egyptian monarchy with the Republic of Egypt under the leadership of Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser. CIA officer Miles Copeland Jr. recounted in his memoirs that Roosevelt helped coordinate the coup during three prior meetings with the plotters (including Nasser, the future Egyptian president).



On Aug. 19, 2013, the CIA publicly admitted for the first time its involvement in the 1953 coup against Iran's elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.


Mossadegh was a beloved figure in Iran. During his tenure, he introduced a range of social and economic policies, the most significant being the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry. Great Britain had controlled Iran's oil for decades through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. After months of talks the prime minister broke off negotiations and denied the British any further involvement in Iran's oil industry. Britain then appealed to the United States for help, which eventually led the CIA to orchestrate the overthrow of Mossadegh and restore power to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.


The 1953 coup was later invoked by students and the political class in Iran as a justification for overthrowing the shah [in 1979].




In a 1954 CIA operation code named Operation PBSuccess, the U.S. government executed a coup that successfully overthrew the government of President Jacobo Árbenz, elected in 1950, and installed Carlos Castillo Armas, the first of a line of right-wing dictators, in its place.

United Fruit, one of America’s richest companies, functioned in Guatemala as a state within a state. It owned the country’s telephone and telegraph facilities, administered its only important Atlantic harbor and monopolized its banana exports. A subsidiary of the company owned nearly every mile of railroad track in the country. 

The Eisenhower Administration painted the coup as an uprising that rid the hemisphere of a Communist government backed by Moscow. But Arbenz’s real offense was to confiscate unused land owned by the United Fruit Company to redistribute under a land reform plan and to pay compensation based on the vastly understated valuation the company had claimed for its tax payments.




In 1957 Operation Wappen was a second coup plan against Syria, orchestrated by the CIA's Kermit Roosevelt. It called for assassination of key senior Syrian officials, staged military incidents on the Syrian border to be blamed on Syria and then to be used as pretext for invasion by Iraqi and Jordanian troops, an intense US propaganda campaign targeting the Syrian population, and "sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities" to be blamed on Damascus. This operation failed when Syrian military officers paid off with millions of dollars in bribes to carry out the coup revealed the plot to Syrian intelligence. 

After the coup attempt was exposed, the US government and media began describing Syria as a "Soviet satellite". In September 1957, the US deployed a fleet to the Mediterranean, armed several of Syria's neighbors, and incited Turkey to deploy 50,000 troops to its border.



As a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and host of the April 1955 Bandung Conference, Indonesia, which had been ruled by president Sukarno since 1945, was charting a course toward an independent foreign policy that was not militarily committed to either side in the Cold War. After a visit to the People's Republic of China in October 1956, Sukarno instituted a form of autocratic rule called Guided Democracy.

Starting in 1957, Eisenhower ordered the CIA to overthrow Sukarno. The CIA supported a failed coup plan by rebel Indonesian military officers in February 1958. CIA pilots piloted planes operated by CIA front organization Civil Air Transport (CAT) that bombed civilian and military targets in Indonesia. The CIA instructed CAT pilots to target commercial shipping in order to frighten foreign merchant ships away from Indonesian waters, thereby to weaken the Indonesian economy and thus to destabilize the government of Indonesia. The CIA aerial bombardment resulted in the sinking of several commercial ships and the bombing of a marketplace that killed many civilians. The coup attempt failed at that time, and Eisenhower denied any U.S. involvement.




The Vietnam War is the commonly used name for the Second Indochina War, 1954–1975. Usually it refers to the period when the United States and other members of the SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) joined the forces with the Republic of South Vietnam to contest communist forces, comprised of South Vietnamese guerrillas and regular-force units, generally known as Viet Cong (VC), and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The U.S., possessing the largest foreign military presence, essentially directed the war from 1965 to 1968. For this reason, in Vietnam today it is known as the American War.


It was a direct result of the First Indochina War (1946–1954) between France, which claimed Vietnam as a colony, and the communist forces then known as Viet Minh. In 1973 a “third” Vietnam war began—a continuation, actually—between North and South Vietnam but without significant U.S. involvement. It ended with communist victory in April 1975.

The war exacted an enormous human cost: estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed range from 966,000 to 3 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action. 



Operation MONGOOSE was a year-long U.S. government effort to overthrow the government of Cuba. The operation included economic warfare, including an embargo against Cuba, "to induce failure of the Communist regime to supply Cuba's economic needs", a diplomatic initiative to isolate Cuba, and psychological operations "to turn the peoples' resentment increasingly against the regime." 

The economic warfare prong of the operation also included the infiltration of CIA operatives to carry out many acts of sabotage against civilian targets, such as a railway bridge, a molasses storage facilities, an electric power plant, and the sugar harvest, notwithstanding Cuba's repeated requests to the United States government to cease its armed operations. In addition, the CIA planned a number of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, head of government of Cuba, including attempts that entailed CIA collaboration with the American mafia.



Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in May 1960, and in June 1960, the country achieved full independence from Belgium. In July, the Congo Crisis erupted with a mutiny among army, … Lumumba agreed to receive help from the USSR in order to stop the separatists, worrying the United States, due to the supply of uranium in the country. 

At first, The Eisenhower Administration planned to poison him with his toothpaste, but this was abandoned. The CIA sent official Sydney Gottlieb with a poison to liaison with an African CIA asset who was to assassinate Lumumba, but Lumumba went into hiding before the operation was completed. The United States encouraged Mobutu Sese Seko, a colonel in the army, to overthrow him which he did on September 14, 1960. After being locked in prison, Mobutu sent him to Katanga, and he was executed soon after on January 17, 1961.

After Lumumba was killed, the US began funding Mobutu. … Mobutu Sese Seko claimed democracy would return in five years and he was popular initially. However, he instead took increasingly authoritarian powers eventually becoming the dictator of the country.


Dominican Republic

In May 1961, the ruler of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo was murdered with weapons supplied by the CIA. An internal CIA memorandum states that a 1973 Office of Inspector General investigation into the murder disclosed "quite extensive Agency involvement with the plotters." The CIA described its role in "changing" the government of the Dominican Republic as a 'success' in that it assisted in moving the Dominican Republic from a totalitarian dictatorship to a Western-style democracy."



When Jânio Quadros, President of Brazil elected in 1960, resigned in August 1961, he was succeeded by Vice President João Goulart, despite the strong opposition of conservative powers within the military who tried to veto his rule. Goulart was a proponent of democratic rights, the legalization of the Communist Party, and economic and land reforms, but the US government insisted that he established a program of economic austerity. 

The United States government implemented a plan to destabilise the country, code named Operation Brother Sam, by cutting off aid to the Brazilian government, providing aid to state governors of Brazil who opposed the new president, and encouraging senior Brazilian military officers to seize power and to back army chief of staff General Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco. General Branco led the April 1964 overthrow of Goulart's government, bringing to an end the Fourth Brazilian Republic, and was installed as first president of the military regime, while the US government expressed approval and re-instituted aid and investment in the country.




The Indonesian mass killings of 1965–1966 were supported by the United States and other Western countries. It began as an anti-communist purge following a controversial attempted coup d'état by the 30 September Movement. According to the most widely published estimates at least 500,000 to more than one million people were killed.

In 2017, declassified documents from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta have confirmed that the US had knowledge of, facilitated and encouraged mass killings for its own geopolitical interests. US diplomats admitted to journalist Kathy Kadane in 1990 that they had provided the Indonesian army with thousands of names of alleged PKI supporters and other alleged leftists, and that the U.S. officials then checked off from their lists those who had been murdered. President Sukarno's base of support was largely annihilated, imprisoned and the remainder terrified, and thus he was forced out of power in 1967, replaced by an authoritarian military regime led by General Suharto.

Historian John Roosa states that "almost overnight the Indonesian government went from being a fierce voice for cold war neutrality and anti-imperialism to a quiet, compliant partner of the US world order." This campaign is considered a major turning point in the Cold War, and was such a success that it served as a model for other U.S.-backed coups and anti-communist extermination campaigns throughout Asia and Latin America.




Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who came to power by the 1955 parliamentary election, had for years kept Cambodia out of the Vietnam War by being friendly with China and North Vietnam, and had integrated left wing parties into mainstream politics. However, a leftist uprising occurred in 1967 and the communist Khmer Rouge began an insurgency against the prince the following year. Following the 1968 Tet Offensive, Sihanouk became convinced that North Vietnam was going to lose the war so he improved relations with the United States. Henry Kissinger suggested that Sihanouk approved U.S. bombing of North Vietnamese targets in Cambodia in 1969.


There is evidence that "as early as late 1968" Lon Nol floated the idea of a coup to U.S. military intelligence to obtain U.S. consent and military support for action against Prince Sihanouk and his government. The coup further destabilized the country and ushered in years of civil war between the right-wing government backed by intensified U.S. bombing and Khmer Rouge forces backed by North Vietnam. The communists eventually took Phnom Penh, winning the civil war.




The U.S. government ran a psy ops action in Chile from 1963 until the coup d'état in 1973, and the CIA was involved in every Chilean election during that time. In the 1964 Chilean presidential election, the U.S. government supplied $2.6 million in funding to presidential candidate Eduardo Frei Montalva, to prevent Salvador Allende and the socialists winning. The U.S. also used the CIA to provide $12 million in funding to business interests for use in harming Allende's reputation.

On September 11, 1973, President Allende was overthrown by the Chilean armed forces and national police, bringing to power the regime of Augusto Pinochet. The CIA, through Project FUBELT (also known as Track II), worked secretly to prepare the conditions for the coup. While the U.S. initially denied any involvement, many relevant documents have been declassified in the decades since.



The U.S. government supported the 1971 coup led by General Hugo Banzer that toppled President Juan José Torres of Bolivia, who had himself come to power in a coup the previous year. Torres had displeased Washington by convening a People's Assembly, in which representatives of specific worker sectors of society were represented (miners, unionized teachers, students, peasants), and more generally by leading the country in what was perceived as a left wing direction.


Banzer hatched a military uprising starting on August 18, 1971 that succeeded in taking the reins of power by August 22. The U.S. subsequently provided extensive military and other aid to the Banzer dictatorship. Torres, who had fled Bolivia, was kidnapped and assassinated in 1976 as part of Operation Condor, the U.S.-supported campaign of political repression and state terrorism by South American right-wing dictators.



On January 15, 1975, Portugal signed the Alvor Agreement giving independence to Angola and establishing a transitional government including the MPLA, FNLA and National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). However, the various independence groups started fighting one another. China, Yugoslavia, Cuba and the Soviet Union sent arms and troops to support the MPLA, while South Africa sent in troops to support the FNLA and UNITA.

The United States covertly supported UNITA and the FNLA through Operation IA Feature. President Gerald Ford approved of the program on July 18, 1975 while receiving dissent from officials in the CIA and State Department. This program began as the war for independence was ending and continued as the civil war began in November 1975. 

The funding initially started at $6 million but then added $8 million on July 27 and added $25 million in August. The program was exposed and condemned by Congress in 1976. The Clark Amendment was added to the US Arms Export Control Act of 1976 ending the operation and restricting involvement in Angola. Despite this, CIA Director George H.W. Bush conceded that some aid to the FNLA and UNITA continued.


East Timor 

On December 7, 1975, nine days after declaring independence from Portugal, East Timor was invaded by Indonesia. Whilst it was under the pretext of anti-colonialism, the actual aim of the invasion was to overthrow the Fretilin regime that emerged previous year.

American weapons were crucial to Indonesia during the invasion, with the majority of military equipment used by Indonesian military units involved being U.S. supplied. United States military aid to Indonesia continued during its occupation of East Timor, which ended in 1999 with East Timor's independence referendum. In 2005, the final Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor wrote that "[U.S.] political and military support were fundamental to the invasion and occupation of East Timor".




The Argentine Armed Forces overthrew President Isabel Perón [widow of Juan], elected in the 1973 presidential election, in the 1976 Argentine coup d'état, as part of the US-backed Operation Condor, starting the military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla known as the National Reorganization Process. Both the coup and the following authoritarian regime were endorsed and supported by the U.S. government with Henry Kissinger paying several official visits to Argentina during the dictatorship. According to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, Kissinger was a witness to the regime's crimes against humanity.



In 1978, the Saur Revolution brought the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan to power, a one-party state backed by the Soviet Union. In what was known as Operation Cyclone, the U.S. government provided weapons and funding for a collection of warlords and several factions of jihadi guerrillas known as the Afghan mujahideen fighting to overthrow the Afghan government. The program began modestly with $695,000 in nominally "non-lethal" aid to the mujahideen on July 3, 1979 and escalated following the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of neighboring Pakistan the U.S. channeled training, weapons, and money for Afghan fighters.



At the time, the U.S. government wanted a bulwark against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and saw Chad, Libya's southern neighbor, as a good option. Chad and Libya had recently signed an agreement to attempt to end their border conflict and "to work to achieve full unity between the two countries", which the United States was against.  The Reagan administration gave him covert support to exiled prime minister Habre through the CIA when he returned in 1981 to continue fighting, and he overthrow Goukouni Oueddi on June 7, 1982, making himself the new president of Chad.

The CIA continued to support Habre after he took power, including training and equipping the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), Chad's notorious secret police. They also supported Chad in their 1986–1987 war against Libya.



The FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) had overthrown in 1979 the Somoza family, friendly with the US. At first the Carter Administration tried to be friendly with the new government, but the Reagan Administration that came after had a much more anti-communist foreign policy.

The U.S. government attempted to topple the government of Nicaragua by secretly arming, training and funding the Contras, a rebel group based in Honduras that fought to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. As part of the training, the CIA distributed a detailed manual entitled "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla War," which instructed the Contras, among other things, on how to blow up public buildings, to assassinate judges, to create martyrs, and to blackmail ordinary citizens. In addition to backing the Contras, the U.S. government also blew up bridges and mined harbors, causing the damaging of at least seven merchant ships and blowing up numerous Nicaraguan fishing boats.

After the Boland Amendment made it illegal for the U.S. government to provide funding for Contra activities, the administration of President Reagan secretly sold arms to the Iranian government to fund a secret U.S. government apparatus that continued illegally to fund the Contras, in what became known as the Iran–Contra affair.




Despite irregularities in the 1989 Panamanian general election, Noriega refused to allow the opposition candidate into power. Bush called on him to honor the will of the Panamanian people. Coup attempts were made against Noriega and skirmishes broke out between U.S. and Panamanian troops. Noriega was also indicted for drug charges in the United States.

In December 1989, in a military operation code-named Operation Just Cause, the U.S. invaded Panama. Noriega went into hiding but was later captured by US forces. President-elect Guillermo Endara was sworn into office. The United States ended Operation Just Cause in January 1990 and began Operation Promote Liberty, which was the occupation of the country to set up the new government until 1994.




Alfredo Stroessner, a general and veteran of the Paraguayan Civil War and the Chaco War, came to power in the aftermath of the 1954 coup d'état. As president he declared a "state of siege" and instituted a number of laws and security reforms which gave him the power to suspend civil liberties, including habeas corpus and freedom of assembly.Between 1958 and 1988, Stroessner was reelected seven times by questionably high margins of victory. 

The United States was one of President Stroessner's most ardent supporters, due to his fervent anti-communism and Paraguay was the recipient of large amounts of U.S. military assistance during the 1960s and 1970s. The "state of siege" imposed by Stroessner soon after assuming the presidency was officially lifted in 1987; however, this move was largely symbolic as most of the country's stringent security provisions remained in place.

Lest we think that U.S. imperialism was purely a Cold War reaction to dangerous Soviet meddling, let's get reacquainted with their overseas shenanigans since the so-called 'end of history.'

II. Post-Cold War



In 1990-91, the U.S. intervened in Kuwait to repel invading Iraqi forces led by Saddam Hussein, in what became known as the Gulf War. 

On February 24, 1991 a few days after the ceasefire was signed, the CIA-funded and operated radio station Voice of Free Iraq called for the Iraqi people to rise up against Hussein. The day after the Gulf War ended on March 1, 1991, Bush again called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials stated in May—when it was widely expected that the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein faced collapse—that the sanctions would not be lifted unless Saddam was ousted.   
The U.S. was hoping for a coup, but instead a series of uprisings erupted across Iraq right after the war. The rebels assumed that they would be getting direct U.S. assistance, however the U.S. never intended to give them any. The Shia uprisings were crushed by the Iraqi military. The Bush Administration faced heavy criticism for not assisting the rebels after encouraging them to rise up. The U.S. worried that if Saddam fell and Iraq collapsed, Iran would gain power. 



The winter of 1990 marked a historic moment for Haiti, as Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president with an overwhelming majority in the nation’s first-ever democratic presidential election. The hope he and his government represented was cut short by a military coup, led by Raoul Cédras in 1991. The military junta led what U.S. President Bill Clinton called a reign of terror, raping civilians and killing around 5,000 Aristide supporters over the next three years.


On Sept. 19, the U.S. military arrived in Haiti. The intervention was intended to remove the military junta, restore President Aristide to power and ultimately transform Haiti into a democracy. While the U.S. was successful in the former two goals, experts say the rest is more complicated. “The intervention in Haiti was a short-lived success,” says [former envoy] Dobbins. Indeed, the U.S. led a new international intervention ten years later in 2004 when President Aristide’s government was again overthrown.


[Historian] Fatton is even more critical. “If you look at the operation now with hindsight, you can say that it was a major failure — it didn’t change Haiti, it didn’t democratize Haiti. If anything, the situation now is probably more catastrophic than it was in the mid-1990s… It was a euphoric moment, which ended in disaster.”



In a 2000 World Policy Institute paper, the authors opined:  

The ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) is a prime example of the devastating legacy of U.S. arms sales policy on Africa. The U.S. prolonged the rule of Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Soko by providing more than $300 million in weapons and $100 million in military training. Mobutu used his U.S.-supplied arsenal to repress his own people and plunder his nation’s economy for three decades, until his brutal regime was overthrown by Laurent Kabila’s forces in 1997. When Kabila took power, the Clinton administration quickly offered military support by developing a plan for new training  operations with the armed forces.

Although the Clinton administration has been quick to criticize the governments involved in the Congo War, decades of U.S. weapons transfers and continued military training to both sides of the conflict have helped fuel the fighting. The U.S. has helped build the arsenals of eight of the nine governments directly involved in the war that has ravaged the DRC since Kabila’s coup. U.S. military transfers in the form of direct government-to-government weapons deliveries, commercial sales, and International Military Education and Training (IMET) to the states directly involved have totaled more than $125 million since the end of the Cold War.



By the fall of 1995, Bosnia had become a complex, multidimensional conflict involving three major ethnoreligious factions within Bosnia—a tenuous alliance of the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats on one side battling against the Bosnian Serbs—with two offstage actors: the Croatian Army, participating directly on behalf of the Bosnian Croats, and the Serbian-led federal Yugoslav government.


Operation Deliberate Force was a sustained air campaign conducted by NATO, in concert with the UN Protection Force ground operations, to undermine the military capability of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), which had threatened and attacked UN-designated "safe areas" in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The Srebrenica genocide and Markale massacres precipitated the intervention. The shelling of the Sarajevo marketplace on 28 August 1995 by the VRS is considered to be the immediate instigating factor behind NATO's decision to launch the operation.


The operation was carried out between 30 August and 20 September 1995, involving 400 aircraft and 5,000 personnel from 15 nations. Commanded by Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr., the campaign struck 338 Bosnian Serb targets, many of which were destroyed. Overall, 1,026 bombs were dropped during the operation.


NATO's 1999 intervention was prompted by Yugoslavia's bloodshed and ethnic cleansing of Albanians, which drove the Albanians into neighbouring countries and had the potential to destabilize the region. NATO countries attempted to gain authorisation from the UN Security Council for military action, but were opposed by China and Russia, who indicated that they would veto such a measure. As a result, NATO launched its campaign without the UN's approval, stating that it was a humanitarian intervention. The UN Charter prohibits the use of force except in the case of a decision by the Security Council under Chapter VII, or self-defence against an armed attack – neither of which were present in this case.


By the end of the war, the Yugoslavs had killed 1,500 to 2,131 combatants, while choosing to heavily target Kosovar Albanian civilians, with 8,676 killed or missing and some 848,000 expelled from Kosovo. The NATO bombing killed about 1,000 members of the Yugoslav security forces in addition to between 489 and 528 civilians. It destroyed or damaged bridges, industrial plants, hospitals, schools, cultural monuments, private businesses as well as barracks and military installations.




Since 1996, Afghanistan had been under the control of the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a largely unrecognized unitary Deobandi–Islamic theocratic emirate administered by shura councils. On October 7, 2001, four weeks after the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda, the United States invaded Afghanistan and began bombing the country. George W. Bush said that the goal was to capture al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Although none of the hijackers were of Afghan nationality, the attacks had been planned in Kandahar.

From December 6–17, 2001, a team of Northern Alliance fighters, led by Boyce and U.S. General Tommy Franks, pursued bin Laden in the cave complex of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan, but he escaped to neighbouring Pakistan. That same month, the Taliban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan fell. Bin Laden was killed by a team of United States Navy SEALs in a raid on his clandestine residence in Pakistan in May 2011, nearly ten years after the initial invasion. Despite bin Laden's death, the U.S. remained in Afghanistan, propping up the government.




President Donald Trump struck an arrangement with the Taliban in February 2020 that would see U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan. In April 2021, his successor, Joe Biden announced that a full withdrawal would occur in August of that year. This was followed by the prompt disintegration of the puppet government. The Taliban swept through the country and took it over entirely, reducing 20 years of American nation-building, at a cost of 2.5 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, to dust.

Glenn Greenwald: 

U.S. political and military leaders have been lying to the American public for two decades about the prospects for success in Afghanistan generally, and the strength and capacity of the Afghan security forces in particular — up through five weeks ago when Biden angrily dismissed the notion that U.S. withdrawal would result in a quick and complete Taliban takeover. Numerous documents, largely ignored by the public, proved that U.S. officials knew what they were saying was false.

Any residual doubt about the falsity of those two decades of optimistic claims has been obliterated by the easy and lightning-fast blitzkrieg whereby the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan as if the vaunted Afghan military did not even exist, as if it were August, 2001 all over again.

 And in the geopolitical school of thought of 'You break it, you buy it':

A month after the Biden Administration pulled U.S forces out of Afghanistan, only seventeen per cent of the country’s more than twenty-three hundred health clinics were functional. Doctors in the hospital in Kabul told me that they hadn’t been paid since the Taliban seized power, in August, and that medicine is in short supply.

The new government is struggling to feed the country’s thirty-nine million people, and the chance that an Afghan baby will go hungry and die is the highest in twenty years. Half of the country’s population needs humanitarian assistance to survive, double the number from 2020. More than twenty million people are on the brink of famine.



The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 that began with the invasion of Iraq by the United States–led coalition which overthrew the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.  

The United States based its rationale for the invasion on claims that Iraq had a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program and posed a threat to the United States and its allies. Additionally, some US officials falsely accused Saddam of harbouring and supporting al-Qaeda. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission concluded there was no evidence of any relationship between Saddam's regime and al-Qaeda. No stockpiles of WMDs or active WMD program were ever found in Iraq. The rationale for war faced heavy criticism both domestically and internationally. Kofi Annan, then the Secretary-General of the United Nations, called the invasion illegal under international law, as it violated the UN Charter.


In total, the war caused at least one hundred thousand civilian deaths, as well as tens of thousands of military deaths. The majority of deaths occurred as a result of the insurgency and civil conflicts between 2004 and 2007. Subsequently, the War in Iraq of 2013 to 2017, which is considered a domino effect of the invasion and occupation, caused at least 155,000 deaths, in addition to the displacement of more than 3.3 million people within the country.

A domino effect of America's intervention in Iraq and Syria was a power vacuum that allowed non-state actor 'Islamic State' to take over vast swathes of territory:

The Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – emerged from the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a local offshoot of al Qaeda. It began to reemerge in 2011, and over the next few years, it took advantage of growing instability in Iraq and Syria to carry out attacks and bolster its ranks.

 Islamic State's caliphate, 2014

The group changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013. ISIS launched an offensive on Mosul and Tikrit in June 2014. On June 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi announced the formation of a caliphate stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq, and renamed the group the Islamic State. At its height, the Islamic State - also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh - held about a third of Syria and 40 percent of Iraq. 




The Bush Administration was displeased with the government formed by Hamas, which won 56 percent of the seats in the Palestinian legislative election of 2006. The U.S. government pressured the Fatah faction of the Palestinian leadership to topple the Hamas government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and provided funding, including a secret training and armaments program that received tens of millions of dollars in congressional funding. This funding was initially blocked by Congress, who feared that arms provided to Palestinians might later be used against Israel, but the Bush administration circumvented Congress.



In 2011, Libya had been led by Muammar Gaddafi since 1969. Amid the "Arab Spring", a revolution broke out against him, spreading from the second city Benghazi, to the capital Tripoli, sparking the First Libyan Civil War. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted, authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. 
Two days later, France, the US and the UK launched a military intervention in Libya with US and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French and British Air Forces undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces. A coalition of 27 states from Europe and the Middle East soon joined the NATO-led intervention. The Gaddafi government collapsed in August. Gaddafi was captured and killed in October by his enemies and NATO action ceased.


As Hillary Clinton cackled 'We came, we saw, he died,' Libya has slipped into failed-state status:

The Western bombing campaign left behind a lawless country, unimaginably over-armed and under-democratized, with a dispossessed population struggling to survive in conditions of civil war and violent chaos.


Public services and basic security have virtually collapsed. The country’s borders were left almost entirely unguarded as streams of migrants from poorer countries flowed into Libya, hoping to reach safety, security, and jobs across the Mediterranean in Europe. It’s been a field day for ruthless people-smugglers and traffickers, Libyan and otherwise. Smugglers collaborate with militias and quasi-governmental forces in Libya to imprison thousands of would-be refugees from all over Africa in horrific conditions—including, apparently, a new system of slavery.



Post-apocolyptic Damascus, more American handiwork


Shortly after the civil war broke out in 2011, the U.S. initially supplied the rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid (e.g. food rations and pickup trucks), but quickly began providing training, money, and intelligence to selected Syrian rebel commanders. At least two U.S. programs attempted to assist the Syrian rebels, including a 2014 Pentagon program that planned to train and equip 15,000 rebels to fight the IS, which was canceled in 2015 after spending $500 million and producing only a few dozen fighters. 

A simultaneous $1 billion covert program called Timber Sycamore conducted by the CIA aimed at fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was more successful, but was decimated by Russian bombing, and canceled in mid-2017 by the Trump administration.


U.S. convoy in Syria

The U.S. missile strike on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the U.S. deliberately attacked Syrian government forces, and marked the start of a series of direct military actions by U.S. forces against the Syrian government and its allies. 

Seymour Hersh has exposed how our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president set up the dominoes leading to the Islamic State's takeover:

Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office and that there are moderate rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The [Obama] administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him?'

The U.S. weakening Assad helped lead directly to the partial takeover of Syria by the Islamic State in 2014. The nightmare that followed has been well-documented:

The territory in Iraq and Syria which was formerly occupied by ISIS (areas which ISIS claimed comprised part of its self-dubbed "Caliphate") saw the creation of one of the most criminally active, corrupt and violent regimes in modern times, and it ruled that territory until its defeat. The ISIS organization and regime murdered tens of thousands of civilians, kidnapped several thousand people, and forced hundreds of thousands of others to flee. 
ISIS systematically committed torture, mass rapes, forced marriages, extreme acts of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, genocide, robbery, extortion, smuggling, slavery, kidnappings, and the use of child soldiers; in ISIS' implementation of strict interpretations of Sharia law which were based on ancient eighth-century methods, they carried out public "punishments" such as beheadings, crucifixions, beatings, mutilation and dismemberment, the stoning of both children and adults, and the live burning of people. ISIS committed mass rape against tens of thousands of children, mostly girls and women (mainly members of non-Sunni minority groups and families).
Thousands of women and girls sold into sex slavery by ISIS 




Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, have waged a relentless war against their impoverished neighbor Yemen in a bid to reinstate the pro-Saudi government toppled by a popular uprising. The unrest gave way to an armed rebellion led by the Houthis, which Riyadh accuses of being an Iranian proxy group. 
The United Nations has described Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe. The World Food Program estimates that half of all the country’s children under 5, about 2.3 million kids, are at risk of acute malnutrition, with 400,000 at risk of dying if they don’t receive treatment, according to a spokesperson for the organization who asked not to be named because even the U.N. fears the consequences of criticizing Saudi Arabia.

This list is in no way exhaustive. But it does, we hope, shed a somewhat different light on the current outrage about military meddling in 'sovereign nations.'

III. The Numbers


Anecdotes are one thing; what does the data say?

The National Interest has crunched the numbers of American foreign intervention since its founding:

If we look at the distribution of the 392 U.S. military interventions since 1800 reported by the Congressional Research Service in October 2017 by fifty-year increments, the data show a dramatic increase: from 1800–1849 there were thirty-nine interventions; forty-seven from 1850–1899; sixty-nine from 1900–1949; 111 from 1950–1999; and 126 from 2000–2017—a period of only seventeen years as compared to fifty years in the other periods.



If we further refine the data to compare Cold War and post–Cold War intervention rates, something truly striking emerges: while the United States engaged in forty-six military interventions from 1948–1991, from 1992–2017 that number increased fourfold to 188.




To again focus just on the post-WW2 era, from the Washington Post's Lindsay O'Rourke:

1. Between 1947 and 1989, the United States tried to change other nations’ governments 72 times. 

It includes 66 covert operations and six overt ones. These 72 U.S. operations were during the Cold War — meaning that, in most cases, the Soviet Union was covertly supporting anti-U.S. forces on the other side. However, a look at these U.S. actions allows us to survey the covert activities of a major power, so we can glean insight into such interventions’ causes and consequences.


2. Most covert efforts to replace another country’s government failed

During the Cold War, for instance, 26 of the United States’ covert operations successfully brought a U.S.-backed government to power; the remaining 40 failed.

Success depended in large part on the choice of covert tactics. Not a single U.S.-backed assassination plot during this time actually killed their intended target, although two foreign leaders — South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem and the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo — were killed by foreign intermediaries without Washington’s blessing during U.S.-backed coups.

Similarly, covert actions to support militant groups trying to topple a foreign regime nearly always failed. Of 36 attempts, only five overthrew their targets. Sponsoring coups was more successful: nine out of 14 attempted coups put the U.S.-backed leaders in power.


America's most successful tactic by far has been—wait for it, neo-McCarthyites—election meddling:

According to Dov Levin's research, there were 117 “partisan electoral interventions” between 1946 and 2000. That’s around one of every nine competitive elections held since Second World War. The majority of these – almost 70% – were cases of US interference.

And these are not all from the Cold War era; 21 such interventions took place between 1990 and 2000, of which 18 were by the US. “60 different independent countries have been the targets of such interventions,” Levin’s writes.

Levin told FactCheck he was surprised by how common US election interference was. “Such interventions can frequently have significant effects on election results in the intervened country, increasing the vote share of the assisted side by 3% on average – enough to determine the identity of the winner in many cases.”

*     *     *

Russia's recent military action has horrified millions, and no one with a conscience can be unmoved by such images of wanton destruction.

But today we ask to take just a minute, just one, and to wave a flag for a Yemeni or Afghan child dying of hunger, a Yazidi child raped by Islamists, an Iraqi child torn apart by a bomb, a Palestinian child who was born and will die of old age in a refugee camp--all thanks in part to our very own American goverment and the bottomless maw of its military-industrial complex.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

1 comment:

Andy said...

I'll think of a comment after I have wiped away my tears. Thank you for this article, I will share it with some other blogs I visit.