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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-19-07 08:34 PM
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The Roots and Consequences of U.S. Overseas Imperialism
No nation in modern history has deposed foreign leaders so often, in so many places so far from its own shores as the United States of America Stephen Kinzer

In his book, Overthrow Americas history of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq, Kinzer explores all 14 instances of regime change, overt or covert, by the United States since 1893, including only those episodes where the intended regime change was successful and where the United States played the decisive role, rather than where it acted in concert with other nations or as part of a larger war (as in WW II or the Korean War). The 14 episodes describe regime changes in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This is one of the most enlightening books Ive ever read, and I believe that it is crucial to the future of our nation and our world that Americans become much more familiar with and learn to think critically about the issues covered by it. Unfortunately, we as a nation have a very long way to go in that regard. Far too many Americans merely accept the explanations provided to them by their government. Indeed, far too many Americans believe that patriotism is gauged by the extent to which one accepts their governments explanations, and that it is unpatriotic to question or criticize their government during war time. The result of that has been the passive acceptance by too many Americans of immoral and cruel policies and actions perpetrated by our government in our name, throughout the history of our nation. Ours would be a much better nation and world if Americans more often considered the reasons for and consequences of those policies and actions.

The American people are now faced with the most unlawful and immoral presidential administration in the history of their country. And though Americans are taught and like to believe in the concept of American exceptionalism the concept that whatever the United States does is unquestionably good in fact we have a long history of highly destructive and immoral behavior. I used the term overseas imperialism in this post to differentiate its subject from similar activity practiced within the North American continent, which long predates our overseas imperialistic adventures. For our morally repugnant behavior was established long before the birth of our nation, with our treatment of the native inhabitants of North America, as well as our African slaves. And those behaviors too were justified and rationalized by those who practiced them, just as those who have perpetrated atrocities on other peoples have sought to justify them from the dawn of history to the present time.

I do not mean to say by this that Americans are worse than other peoples. Most if not all nations of the world have at times been guilty of morally repugnant behavior. Similarly, nations change over time. For example, the great majority of Americans today consider slavery to be immoral. Yet I am very troubled by actions that Americans continue to accept and justify on the part of their leaders, conducted in their name.

Dont be fooled by the fact that most Americans are now against our Iraq War. Many Americans are against it not because they believe it to be immoral, but rather only because it has been unsuccessful. Our national news organizations, in discussing the Iraq War, talk about our interests in the area, the need to stabilize Iraq, the need to stay until the job is done, and even the need to win the war. By contrast, very little attention is given to what the war has done and is doing to the Iraqi people (including the fact that the war has been responsible for the deaths of over 600 thousand Iraqi civilians) or the fact that there is a strong desire among the Iraqi people that we leave. At least to some extent, this unbalanced news coverage reflects the concerns (or lack thereof) of the American people.

In this post I discuss the roots and consequences of our overseas imperialism, which set the stage for the virulent imperialistic practices of our present day country*. That will cover the first six regime changes explored in Kinzers book, which took place over the short span of only two decades, from 1893 to 1913. So abrupt was this rise of American imperialism that a journalist for the London Times described it as a break in the history of the world. I will first briefly discuss the reasons for the regime changes, along with the events themselves, and then the long term consequences, as described by Kinzer.

This post represents somewhat of a change for me. Dozens of my DU posts have been scathingly critical of our current President, including 15 in which I advocated his impeachment. I, like most DUers, have felt at least some reluctance to talk unfavorably about our nations past, since we dont want to detract from the urgent need to take aggressive actions to counteract our current presidential administration. But the immoral acts of our nation did not begin with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and they are not likely to cease until the bulk of the American people adequately confront their origins and consequences:

* Note: I am mindful of the inordinate length of this post, the longest Ive ever posted on DU. I make the main points that I wish to make in the first (above) and last sections of this post. The two middle sections describe, respectively, specific examples of early U.S. sponsored regime changes and the consequences of those actions. I felt it necessary to include those examples in order to support my conclusions. However, for those who are interested in this subject but dont have the time to go through all the examples, I suggest that you consider the middle two sections of this post as an appendix for reference and skip to the last section.

The first six regime changes perpetrated by the United States of America

Under pressure from American businessmen planters, the King of Hawaii signed a reciprocity treaty with the United States in 1876, making Hawaii into a virtual American protectorate, and eventually a situation developed where a small wealthy and White minority ruled over more than 40 thousand native Hawaiians through their puppet King. This angered and spurred violent protest among native Hawaiians, resulting in the use of the American marines to act as bodyguards for the King. But in 1891 the King died, which caused the ascension to the Hawaiian throne of his more courageous, independent and liberal minded sister, Queen Liliuokalani.

In January 1993 word got out that the Queen was planning to proclaim a new constitution, one that would place more power in the hands of the Hawaiian people and weaken the power of the wealthy White landowners who essentially ruled Hawaii. The ruling clique was not pleased about that, and they conspired to overthrow the Queen. Following some brief military actions they prevailed upon John L. Stevens, the American Minister to Hawaii, to officially proclaim the following:

A Provisional Government having been duly constituted in the place of the recent Government of Queen Liliuokalani, and said Provisional Government being in possession of the Government Building. I hereby recognize said Provisional Government as the de facto Government of the Hawaiian Islands.

In making this proclamation, Stevens knew that he had the support of the U.S. Secretary of State, James Blaine, and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. He made his announcement with an American gunboat waiting in the harbor and 162 armed American soldiers standing close by. Queen Liliuokalani, recognizing the futility of challenging American military power, wrote and signed the following statement:

I Liliuokalani, by the Grace of God under the Constitution of the Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a provisional government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, John L. Stevens, has caused the United States troops to land at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said provisional government.

Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

In early 1898 the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule appeared to be on the verge of success, and Cuban rebel leaders were promising that once Cuban rule was established they would initiate sweeping social reforms, including land redistribution. This was very displeasing to American businessmen who had investments in Cuba, as well as to U.S. President William McKinley. So to show his interest in the situation McKinley dispatched the battleship Maine to Havana.

Shortly thereafter, on February 15, 1998, the Maine was blown up, killing 250 American sailors. Though the cause of the explosion was never determined, American expansionists blamed it on Spain in order to provide an excuse for war. McKinley, recognizing that successful peace negotiations would preclude the establishment of American control over Cuba, rejected repeated peace overtures from the Spanish Prime Minister.

Even more problematic than that for the war hawks was the fact that the Cuban rebels, fearful that U.S. intervention would end in the replacement of one colonial power for another, rather than the independence for which they had been fighting for several years, wanted no part of U.S. assistance in their rebellion. The American people were aware of that fact, and therefore they had little inclination to support American intervention in Cuba. Thus, Congress added an Amendment to McKinleys proposed war resolution, stating the following:

The people of the island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.

Congress approved the Teller Amendment and declared war on Spain. The passage of the Teller Amendment was sufficient to persuade the Cubans to allow the United States to assist them in concluding their war for independence.

American forces landed in Cuba in July 1898, and by August 12th a protocol of peace was signed between the United States and Spain. Ominously for Cubans, The United States would not allow them to participate in the ceremonies.

President McKinley then rejected the Teller Amendment, claiming that Cubans were not capable of self-government and that U.S. control of Cuba was necessary for our own defense. Over the next year these arguments were used to mold public opinion in the United States, along with the additional totally false assertion that American military force was necessary for the defeat of Spain.

On May 22, 1903, the United States and Cuba finalized the Platt Amendment, the treaty that determined the relationship between Cuba and the United States for the next several decades. Kinzer summarizes its terms:

Under the Platt Amendment, the United States agreed to end its occupation of Cuba as soon as the Cubans accepted a constitution with provisions giving the United States the right to maintain military bases in Cuba; the right to veto any treaty between Cuba and any other country; the right to supervise the Cuban treasury; and the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence or the maintenance of government adequate for the protection of life, property and individual liberty. In essence, the Platt Amendment gave Cubans permission to rule themselves as long as they allowed the United States to veto any decision they made.

Puerto Rico
To back up a bit, a new and reform minded Spanish prime minister had taken office in 1897. Soon after taking office he offered increased autonomy to both Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Cubans rejected his offer because they believed that they were on the verge of military victory. But the Puerto Ricans, who had not rebelled against Spain, accepted Spains offer. On March 27, 1898, Puerto Ricans went to the polls to elect themselves a government, and on July 17th their new government began to operate.

Eight days later the U.S. marines landed in Puerto Rico and raised the American flag. Before freeing the Puerto Ricans from Spanish oppression, the American commander made clear the good intentions of his country:

We have not come to make war upon the people of a country that for centuries has been oppressed, but, on the contrary, to bring you protection This is not a war of devastation, but one to give to all the advantages and blessings of enlightened civilization.

The war in Puerto Rico was short and resulted in a mere nine American fatalities. Puerto Rican semi-independence had lasted eight days.

The Philippines
In April 1998, at the start of the Spanish-American War, the American Navy destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in the Philippines. The Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain, signed on December 10th, 1998, ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. The next day President McKinley officially proclaimed sovereignty over the Philippines.

There was only one small problem with all that: The Filipinos had declared independence on June 12th, and the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed on January 23rd, 1899, with the Filipino rebel leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, as its first President. The Filipinos wanted American rule over their country no more than they had wanted Spanish rule. So twelve days after proclaiming their new Republic, they declared war against the United States.

Now it was up to the U.S. Senate to decide whether to commit the U.S. to war against the Philippines by ratifying the Treaty of Paris, or to turn away from American imperial ambitions. Many Senators denounced the treaty as an imperialist land grab which it was of course. The main arguments in favor of approving the treaty were the commercial and strategic advantages that control of the Philippines would give to the United States, and of course our need to civilize and Christianize the Filipinos (Most Filipinos were Catholic, but few Americans knew that.) During the Senate debate a brief skirmish between the Filipino and American military forces gave several Senators all the excuse they needed to vote for the treaty, and it was approved by a vote of 57-27.

A vicious guerilla war ensued, lasting three and a half years, from February 1899 until the middle of 1902. It was characterized by widespread torture, rape, pillage, and the frequent refusal of the American military to make a distinction between civilians and the Filipino military. Rationalizations provided for this behavior included the brutal behavior by the Filipino savages (true, but who was invading whose country?) and the claim that the atrocities were the work of a few bad apples (not true at all). By the time that the U.S. had pacified the Philippines, the dead included 4,374 American soldiers, 16 thousand Filipino guerillas, and 20 thousand Filipino civilians.

President Jose Santos Zelaya of Nicaragua was a nationalist who did not like being pushed around by U.S. businessmen and did not want his country to be dependent upon the United States. His insistence that American businessmen who operated in his country either live up to their agreements or leave created a good deal of friction with them. As long as Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States that presented no great problem, since Roosevelt was not overly sympathetic to wealthy businessmen.

But in 1909 William Howard Taft, who was much more sympathetic to wealthy businessmen, came to the Presidency and appointed a strongly pro-business Secretary of State, Philander Knox. Taft and Knox were highly receptive to the complaints of wealthy American businessmen against Zelaya, and when Zelaya began to borrow money from European rather than American banks they became even more receptive.

A propaganda campaign was initiated against Zelaya, and Taft declared that the United States would no longer tolerate and deal with such a medieval despot. That statement by the President of the United States gave American businessmen the confidence to form a conspiracy to overthrow Zelaya. They financed a rebellion using a Nicaraguan provincial governor, Juan Jose Estrada, as their puppet and the rebellions leader.

However, the rebellion was no match for Zelayas troops and it was on the verge of failing. But then Zelaya provided an American excuse for intervention by ordering the execution of two of the rebellions leaders, who happened to be American citizens. Knox excoriated Zelaya for that, and Taft responded by ordering warships to Nicaragua, even though Zelaya had requested that an American commission come to Nicaragua to investigate and promised to resign if found guilty.

Recognizing that his military was no match for the United States of America, Zelaya resigned, saying that

He hoped his departure would produce peace and above all, the suspension of the hostility shown by the United States, to which I wish to give no pretext that will allow it to continue intervening in any way with the destiny of this country.

The new president, another liberal, tried to suppress the rebellion. He undoubtedly would have been successful in suppressing the rebellion, except that the United States Marines intervened to protect American lives. The American commander, Major Smedley Butler, later explained how the U.S. justified prohibiting government troops from firing at the rebels while allowing the rebels to continue fighting:

There was no danger of the rebels killing American troops because they would be shooting outwards, but the government troops would be firing towards us. We sent an American beachcomber on ahead to Rama to be sure there would be another American life to protect, and then re-enacted the farce at Bluefields. We forbade shooting by the government forces, and they finally melted away, convinced of the hopelessness of opposing the revolutionaries backed by the Marines. The revolution ended then and there.

The new President of Nicaragua resigned, and the United States installed Estrada as its puppet President in his stead. Thus began American rule over Nicaragua.

Sam Zemurray was a banana tycoon who owned a good deal of land in Honduras. Like many of todays wealthy Republicans, he resented having to pay taxes on his land and being subjected to Honduran regulation of his business. So he hired himself four men to organize an insurgency, including Manuel Bonilla, whom Zemurray intended for insertion as his puppet President of Honduras.

President Taft and Secretary of State Knox disapproved of the President of Honduras in 1911, Miguel Davila. They considered him too liberal and independent, and he borrowed from European banks. So they asked him to transfer his countrys debt to J.P. Morgan, who would then oversee the Honduran treasury.

Zemurrays mercenary insurgents invaded Honduras in December 1911, and with the U.S. military standing by to inhibit retaliation by the Honduran government, by January 25th, 1912, they had won some big battles. At that point President Davila recognized that he would have to make friends with Taft and Knox, so he agreed to the Morgan loan. But his National Assembly was outraged by that decision, so they voted it down. Taft responded to that by forbidding the use of Davilas army to fight the insurgency, which caused Davila to resign and be replaced by Bonilla in February, 1912.

Later, a New Orleans prosecutor indicted some of the Americans involved in the insurgency for the violation of neutrality laws. But Taft ordered the charges dropped, and the prosecutor complied.

The consequences of American overseas imperialism

Following the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, native Hawaiians were all but excluded from the government of their former country. A few years later several native Hawaiians, including the former Queen, staged an abortive uprising. Several were executed, and the Queen served two years in prison. In 1998, Hawaii was formally annexed to the United States, and in 1959 Hawaiians voted by a ratio of 17 to 1 to become our 50th state. One hundred years after Queen Liliuokalanis overthrow, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Clinton signed an official apology for that action.

The Platt Amendment beginning in 1903 formalized U.S. hegemony over Cuba. Following that, the U.S. supported a series of repressive Cuban dictators, until the Platt Amendment was finally cancelled in 1934 (except for U.S. control over Guantanamo Bay), during the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, as part of his Good Neighbor Policy towards Latin America. Another repressive dictator, Fulgencio Batista, then came to power and ruled Cuba for a quarter century, until he was deposed in 1959 by a rebellion led by Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba for almost the next half century. Incredibly, a series of American leaders and much of the U.S. public, apparently ignorant of Cuban-American history, could not understand Castros steadfast anti-American attitude or why he sided with the USSR during the cold war. In any event, the persistent tensions between the two countries benefited neither of them, and Cuba has never been a prosperous nation. Kinzer summarizes the effects of our interventions in Cuba as the quintessential result of a regime change operation gone wrong, one that comes back to haunt the country that sponsored it.

Puerto Rico
Following the U.S. takeover of Puerto Rico in 1898, Puerto Rico remained under tight U.S. influence for more than half a century. U.S. sponsored corporations took over most of the countrys best lands, at the expense of the native population, and Puerto Rico remained an impoverished country with a life expectancy in the 40s. At about mid-century, perhaps embarrassed by its imperialistic relationship to Puerto Rico, the U.S. began to relax its control, and life in Puerto Rico subsequently began to improve. It currently remains in a state of political limbo, neither a U.S. state nor an independent country. Kinzer sums up the consequences of U.S. imperialism there:

As colonial experiments go, American rule over Puerto Rico has been relatively benign. It did not produce the violent backlash that emerged in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Philippines. This is due mainly to the fact that the United States agreed to take direct political responsibility for governing Puerto Rico, rather than ruling it through local clients. A reasonable case can be made for the proposition that Puerto Rico would be better off today if the United States had not seized it in 1898. Given the realities of that history, however, it has emerged in better shape than most lands whose governments the United States overthrew.

The Philippines
For nearly a half century after the U.S. pacified the Philippines, it continued to rule them with a series of American governors. In 1946, formal independence was granted the Philippines, but the U.S. continued to exercise considerable influence over it, as it maintained two huge military bases housing thousands of American soldiers and employing tens of thousands of Filipinos, and supporting off base Filipino businesses, including prostitution. In 1965 a corrupt and repressive dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, came to power. He eventually closed Congress, suspended the constitution, declared martial law, arrested 30 thousand opposition figures, stole billions of dollars, and drove his country into poverty. Yet the U.S. continued to support him and provide him military aid, probably because of its interest in maintaining the military bases. In 1986, following the assassination of Marcos main opposition leader, Benigno Aquino, Filipinos rose up in peaceful opposition to Marcos and installed Corazon Aquino, Benignos widow, as their President, despite the opposition of U.S. President Reagan. Aquino returned freedom and civil rights to her people, and in 1992 negotiated an end to American control of the military bases. Kinzer summarizes the long history of U.S. involvement in the Philippines:

Americans waged a horrific war to subdue the islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, but once they won, their brutality ended. They did not impose murderous tyrants the way they did in much of Central America and the CaribbeanDuring their decades of power in the Philippines, however, Americans never sought to promote the kind of social progress that might have led the country toward long-term stability. As in other parts of the world, Washingtons fear of radicalism led it to support an oligarchy that was more interested in stealing money than in developing the country When the archipelago was finally allowed to go its own way, in the 1990s, it was as poor as it was unstable.

The overthrow of Zemaya by the U.S. Marines in 1909 set the stage for nearly a century of intermittent turmoil between the U.S. and Nicaragua. In 1912 the U.S. Marines staved off a Nicaraguan rebellion against U.S. rule. And fourteen years later they fought off another rebellion. Though the U.S. Marines were finally withdrawn from Nicaragua in 1933, the U.S. support for the Somoza dictatorships that followed helped to keep them in power for the next 46 years, until Anastasio Somoza Debayle was overthrown by the Sandinistas after President Carter terminated aid to him because of human rights abuses. However, Ronald Reagan was elected President shortly thereafter, and he responded by sponsoring several more years of war against the Sandinistas. Kinzer sums up U.S. involvement in Nicaragua like this:

In few countries is it possible to trace the development of anti-American sentiment as clearly as in Nicaragua. A century of trouble between the two nations, which led to the death of thousands and great suffering for generations of Nicaraguans, began when the United States deposed President Zelaya in 1909 Zelaya was the greatest statesman Nicaragua ever produced. If the United States had found a way to deal with him, it might have avoided the disasters that followed

That terrible miscalculation drew the United States into a century of interventions in Nicaragua. They took a heavy toll in blood and treasure, profoundly damaged Americas image in the world, and helped keep generations of Nicaraguans in misery. Nicaragua still competes with Haiti to lead the Western Hemisphere in much that is undesirable, including rates of poverty, unemployment, infant mortality, and deaths from curable diseases.

Kinzer summarizes U.S. intervention in Honduras:

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Americans deposed a government in Honduras in order to give banana companies freedom to make money there. For decades, these companies imposed governments that crushed every attempt at national development. In the 1980s, when democracy finally seemed ready to emerge in Honduras, the United States prevented it from flowering because it threatened the anti-Sandinista project that was Washingtons obsession That was the period when Honduran children turned up by the thousands in Los Angeles, where many of them fell into the criminality they later brought home. Honduras, a miserably poor country where the average person earns less than $3,000 a year, was unprepared for this plague. It sank into a tragedy more brutal than any it had ever known.

The tragedy of American exceptionalism

This post deals with the beginnings of U.S. overseas imperialism, but discusses only a small fraction of the total. Kinzers book deals with 14 episodes of overthrow of sovereign nations by the United States government, but it doesnt delve much into the numerous instances where it propped up brutal dictators over long periods of time, to the great detriment of the mass of ordinary people.

There are at least two vastly different kinds of patriotism in the United States today. Indeed, they are virtual opposites. One is the kind that proclaims love of our country by insisting that whatever the United States of America does is right and good. Criticism of a President (Democratic Presidents dont count as real Presidents) is akin to treason, especially during war time or at any time that the President attempts to use our military to bully another country. Preemptive invasion of a sovereign nation, mass slaughter of civilian populations, torture of thousands, or whatever it takes is ok as long as it furthers American principles and interests, as proclaimed by the Project for a New American Century.

The other kind of patriotism seeks to uncover and understand the truth about ones country, in an attempt to see it as it is rather than as one would like to see it. Only in this way can one take steps to make their country better. In this view, criticism of the immoral actions of ones country is not treasonous at all, but rather it is the height of patriotism.

The same principle applies to the ways that individuals see themselves. One can try to identify ones faults in order to improve upon them. Or, one can proclaim that he has no faults and stick to that assertion till hell freezes over. The former course of action leads to personal growth. The latter course leads to all manner of tragic consequences.

Kinzer makes these points through his summary of U.S. imperialism:

Americans came to believe that by establishing order in these unhappy lands, they could achieve two wonderful results simultaneously. They would bring economic benefit to themselves while at the same time civilizing and modernizing nations that seemed primitive and crying out for guidance. Caught up in the all encompassing idea of their countrys manifest destiny, they convinced themselves that American influence abroad could only be positive and that anyone who rejected it must be bad

Why did Americans support policies that brought suffering to people in foreign lands? There are two reasons, so intertwined that they became one. The essential reason is that American control of faraway places came to be seen as vital to the material prosperity of the United States. This explanation, however, is wrapped inside another one: the deep seated belief of most Americans that their country is a force for good in the world. Thus, by extension, even the destructive missions the United States embarks on to impose its authority are tolerable. Generations of American political and business leaders have recognized the power of the noble idea of American exceptionalism

They convinced themselves that American influence abroad could only be positive? Deep seated belief of most Americans that their country is a force for good in the world? Does Kinzer really believe that, or does he believe instead that these people simply believe what they want to believe because it makes them feel good and it benefits them to do so? His other statements in the same chapter suggest the latter:

The scandal over torture and murder in the Philippines might have led Americans to rethink their countrys worldwide ambitions, but it did not. Instead, they came to accept the idea that their soldiers might have to commit atrocities in order to subdue insurgents and win wars. Loud protests followed revelations of the abuses Americans had committed in the Philippines but, in the end, those protests faded away. They were drowned out by voices insisting that any abuses must have been aberrations and that to dwell on them would show weakness and a lack of patriotism

Thus, the American elite have learned how to handle public opinion. Kinzer continues:

When they intervene abroad for selfish or ignoble reasons, they always insist that in the end, their actions will benefit not only the United States but also the citizens of the country in which they are intervening and, by extension, the causes of peace and justice in the world.

The parallel between the story that Kinzer tells and 21st Century United States under the Bush/Cheney regime is mind boggling and alarming. Virtually the only difference is that it is worse now than it ever has been though making that case is beyond the ambitions of this post. But though it is worse now than it ever has been, we must acknowledge that our failure as a nation to adequately address the problems of our past has set the stage for our current tragic situation.

Our nation has a choice. We can continue down the road of imperial ambition and probably meet the fate of all past imperial powers. Or, we can somehow muster the courage to face up to the mistakes of our past and turn towards a different road one where we will put our vast amounts of energy and resources towards building a better world in cooperation with the other nations of the world.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-19-07 10:39 PM
Response to Original message
1. "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror"
Edited on Thu Apr-19-07 10:40 PM by Time for change
That is another great book by Kinzer -- It describes how we overthrow Iran's democratically elected President, Mohamed Mossadegh, in 1953, what that did to Iran's hopes for a progressive government, and how it affected Iranian attitudes towards us:
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #1
14. Short video, about 12 minutes, of the 1953 coup.

"Life of Dr. Mossadegh" -- A Look at the Iranian Leader Overthrown By the U.S.

"Democracy Now! airs an excerpt of a documentary about overthrown Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

* "Life of Dr. Mossadegh" produced by Brian Lapping and Grenada Television. Distriubted in the US. by"
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Nice video, thanks
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 07:51 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. YW n/t
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 02:07 AM
Response to Original message
2. kick
impressive work
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
9. Thank you bigtree -- I think it's really too bad that more history isn't taught in our schools
the way that Kinzer writes about it. If it was, I think that we'd have a much less militarily aggressive nation.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 07:04 AM
Response to Original message
3. The role of racism
Kinzer further speculates on the reasons why Americans are so willing to tolerate our imperialistic adventures:

A second fact that jumps from the history of this era is the absolute lack of interest the US showed in the opinions of those whose lands it seized. American leaders knew full well that most Hawaiians opposed the annexation of their country but proceeded anyway. No representative of Cuba, the Philippines, or Puerto Rico was present at the negotiations in Paris that ended the Spanish American War and sealed their countries' fates. In Nicaragua and Honduras the Liberal reform project was far more popular than the oligarchic regimes the US imposed. The idea that the victorious powers should listen to public opinion in these countries would have struck most Americans as absurd. They believed Latin Americans and Asians to be as they were portrayed in editorial cartoons: ragged children, usually nonwhite, who had no more idea of what was good for them than a block of stone

Little has changed. How often do we hear our corporate news media even discuss how the Iraqis feel about "our" war? We criticize them incessantly for "not doing their part". Gee, I wonder why they don't do their part. The good majority of them want us to leave, and a majority of Iraqis even support violent attacks on US troops, according to opinion polls, as in the OP.
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pnorman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 07:29 AM
Response to Original message
4. Kinzer has excellent credentials:
Edited on Fri Apr-20-07 07:41 AM by pnorman

I have that book as well as "All The Shah's Men", in format. That's not always the best way to take in such books, but it has it's advantages. Having my memory jogged here, I'll probably go through it again this weekend.

My first acquaintanceship of him was by his book: "Bitter Fruit", which I had bought some years back. I don't know if it's still available, but it too is an excellent read.

On edit: "Bitter Fruit" is still available at, at ~$23. That's higher than I had expected to see it, and probably a little steep for many here. But it's most likely available at the public library..
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Yes, and not only excellent credentials, but his approach to the subject is so refreshing
Most historians report the facts, or rather the facts as they are promulgated by our leaders -- at least to some substantial extent. For example, President so and so sent in the Marines to "restore order", yada yada yada.

Kinzer on the other hand goes to great lengths to explain the circumstances and meaning and consequences behind the actions. I find that so refreshing and much more meaningful than most historical accounts. It's like the difference between watching Keith Olbermann or Bill Moyers and ... take your pick of any number of today's talking heads.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 07:31 AM
Response to Original message
5. Thanks for this
Will order my copy later.

K & R
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Very good -- Kinzer is a great read, I'm sure you'll enjoy it
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:24 AM
Response to Original message
6. I'll have to read that. I'm not familiar with Stephen Kinzer, but the books sounds good. nt
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kiteinthewind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:44 AM
Response to Original message
7. Thank you for this compilation! nt
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. K&R!!!
Bookmarked too!!!
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
12. Still reading but wanted to kick and say thanks for the big picture


Operation Iranian Freedom - As American As Apple Pie.

Media Lens: 04/16/03

"The truth of the motivation behind US/UK foreign policy and of their atrocities around the world is all but inadmissible in our 'free press'. The problem is that without this basic, honest framework of understanding, nothing about the tragedy in Iraq, or anywhere else, can be understood - which is just ideal from the point of view of Bush and Blair."
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. I think that the Media Lens article says it all with this quote
"The fundamental media faith in the goodness of the US heart mandates some careful tiptoeing around history."

Thanks for the article.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. Great sentence and YW, the site has a good search feature. n/t
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Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
13. Kick and Rec n/t
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geardaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
15. Excellent post.
Just a heads up, there are some date issues though. Many of the dates that should be in the nineteenth century are listed as "19--" where they should be "18--"
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Thank you, and thank you for pointing that out
I thought I had gone over the post more carefully than that. I must have a blind spot with regard to that particular issue :blush:
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geardaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. No problemo
It's easy to miss that kind of stuff. :)
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 05:23 PM
Response to Original message
18. I feel that there is a very disturbing trend that is likely to blow up into WW III if
some big changes aren't made.

Reagan felt that he could wage war against Nicaragua secretly, even though he was explicitly told be Congress not to do it. And then when he was found out, though there was an investigation into the matter, nothing was ever done about it at the Presidential or VP level. Reagan should have been impeached for that.

Then, George HW Bush felt it was ok to wage a bombing campaign against Panama, just to go after to single man. And our country accepted that.

And now we have his son waging a preemptive war against a sovereign country, for which he had to lie repeatedly to the American public and to Congress in order to justify that war. The record is clear on that point. If a US President can't be impeached for lying his country into war, then what exactly would constitute an impeachable offense? And yet our Congress does nothing about it. Even if they do end up impeaching Bush and Cheney, it will be a big big mistake if lying us into war isn't included among the charges. That will just be an invitation for another President to do the same thing another time.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:47 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. The war between the parties, for the most part, is just to keep us
busy and until people take a larger view of our nation's policies I fear you may be correct.
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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
22. Excellent post.
On tonight's rerun of yesterday's Daily Show, they had a man on who had written a book about Blackwater. And he was describing how the private mercenaries didn't have to follow the same rules and how they weren't included in the withdrawal plan, allowing a 'shadow war' to go on even after we had 'left Iraq'. I knew that, but he went on to say that they weren't just hiring Americans. When Chile- which finally has a democratic government again- refused to sign its military up with the coalition of the willing, Blackwater went in and hired Chileans independently, including many former fighters from Pinochet's army. I shouldn't be surprised, but I was.

We're sending terrorists to Iraq. :yoiks:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #22
25. Thank you
I do believe that George Bush and his supporters have no moral principles at all. Nothing they would do would be so bad that I would be surprised that they would try it. I think that we've reached a point where if we don't do something to turn ourselves around we will no longer be a democracy. I'm really not happy that Congress does not seem to be moving on impeachment, which it seems to me is the only appropriate way to handle this kind of stuff, lest we set an example that says that it is ok for Presidents to lie their way into a preemptive war.

Yes, our whole war against Iraq is state sponsored terrorism.

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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-20-07 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
26. Blowback etc. a Chalmers Johnson interview

"Host: Center for the Pacific Rim
Location: San Francisco, CA
Date: Mar 6, 2007

Program Description: A Triumphal Trilogy: Blowback, Sorrows of Empire, and now Nemesis a conversation with Chalmers Johnson.

Sponsored by The Center for The Pacific Rim at The University of San Francisco in association with The Commonwealth Club.

Chalmers Johnson, one of America's leading public intellectuals, was awarded chairs by both U.C. Berkeley and U.C. San Diego during his long academic career. Among his two dozen books he set the standard for the study of the Chinese revolution (Peasant Nationalism) and the Japanese economy (MITI and the Japanese Economic Miracle). Upon retirement from U.C., Johnson founded the Japan Policy Research Institute in order to publish cutting-edge essays on current topics. His trilogy is a monumental study of American foreign and military problems in the 21st century. This program celebrates the publication this month of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic."
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