Thursday, 18 October 2007

US military interventions

A detailed checklist and commentary by an American academic here on US military interventionism during the 20th century. Although written six years ago [a month after 9/11], it’s still worth reading.

The author concludes that the presentation of many of these interventions to the American public has been at odds with the reality:

“First, they were explained to the U.S. public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations. Yet the military tactics employed often left behind massive civilian ’collateral damage’….The U.S. public always believe that in the next war, new military technologies will avoid civilian casualties on the other side. Yet when the inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are always explained away as ‘accidental’ or ‘unavoidable’.

“Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, nearly all of them in fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U.S. elites. Whether in Vietnam, Central America, or the Persian Gulf, the U.S. was not defending ‘freedom’ but an ideological agenda (such as defending capitalism) or an economic agenda (such as protecting oil company investments).

“Third, the U.S. always attacked violence by its opponents as ‘terrorism’, ‘atrocities against civilians’, or ‘ethnic cleansing’, but minimized or defended the same actions by the U.S. or its allies. If a country has the right to ‘end’ a state that trains or harbors terrorists, would Cuba or Nicaragua have had the right to launch defensive bombing raids on U.S. targets to take out exile terrorists? Washington's double standard maintains that an U.S. ally's action is by definition ‘defensive’, but that an enemy's retaliation is by definition ‘offensive’.

“Fourth, the U.S. often portrays itself as a neutral peacekeeper, with nothing but the purest humanitarian motives. After deploying forces in a country, however, it quickly divides the country or region into ‘friends’ and ‘foes’, and takes one side against another. This strategy tends to enflame rather than dampen a war or civil conflict, as shown in the cases of Somalia and Bosnia, and deepens resentment of the U.S. role.

“Fifth, U.S. military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U.S. goals and rationales. Rather than solving the root political or economic roots of the conflict, it tends to polarize factions and further destabilize the country. The same countries tend to reappear again and again on the list of 20th century interventions.

“Sixth, U.S. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power..…

“One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that ‘people like us’ could not commit atrocities against civilians.

· German and Japanese citizens believed it, but their militaries slaughtered millions of people.

· British and French citizens believed it, but their militaries fought brutal colonial wars in Africa and Asia.

· Russian citizens believed it, but their armies murdered civilians in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere.

· Israeli citizens believed it, but their army mowed down Palestinians and Lebanese.

· Arabs believed it, but suicide bombers and hijackers targeted U.S. and Israeli civilians.

· U.S. citizens believed it, but their military killed hundreds of thousands in Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere.

"Every country, every ethnicity, every religion, contains within it the capability for extreme violence. Every group contains a faction that is intolerant of other groups, and actively seeks to exclude or even kill them. War fever tends to encourage the intolerant faction, but the faction only succeeds in its goals if the rest of the group acquiesces or remains silent. The attacks of September 11 were not only a test for U.S. citizens attitudes' toward minority ethnic/racial groups in their own country, but a test for our relationship with the rest of the world. We must begin not by lashing out at civilians in Muslim countries, but by taking responsibility for our own history and our own actions, and how they have fed the cycle of violence.”

What a pity that this last piece of advice wasn’t heeded!


Richard W. Symonds said...

I believe the MEDIA of the countries mentioned - especially that of the US - has much to answer for...

....which puts me in mind of Herman-Chomsky's 'Propaganda Model...the truth of which becomes more so to me each passing day :

Emmett said...

THE Late Idries Shah (pbuh) in one of his many books and lectures noted that a professor at a large American university has mathematized lying and established a formula to determine how much of it goes on -- top-down & /vice versa/ -- in large organizations. Seemingly, lying is a direct function of hierarchical size, and I do not remember now in which article or lecture Shah mentions this all.

Emmett said...

AUNTY, I say, as far as being the /soi-disant/ 'Candid Friend' to these funny-sounding NA beggars, I think you need to bear in mind 'tis about on all-fours with being an /Old Camel/ -- and that THESE skunks & solipsists will simply keep loading it on!

anticant said...

EMMETT - Presumably most of the lying originates at the top, and is disseminated downwards by largely unsuspecting subordinates who believe the lies are true?

RICHARD - Yes, indeed. The American/Spanish war of 1898 was engineered almost single-handedly by William Randolph Hearst, whose papers campaigned ceaselessly for it against the reluctance of the US government and public apathy. When one of his staff reporters in Cuba wired him that "Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war.", Hearst famously replied: "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

The casus belli was the still mysterious explosion of the US battleship 'Maine' in Havana harbour. Hearst offered a $50,000 reward [never collected] for information leading to the arrests of those responsible, and his New York 'Morning Journal' ran banner headlines proclaiming 'THE WHOLE COUNTRY THRILLS WITH WAR FEVER'. When war was declared he triumphantly proclaimed it was 'THE JOURNAL'S WAR'.

[Source: 'Ambrose Bierce. Alone in bad company', by Roy Morris, Jr.]

Emmett said...

IN Fact, lying cuts both ways & that in a veritable /faecal/ storm. We simply must get shut of this rubbish about saintly underlings. No such critter! I've been on both sides, and you may sure that the underfolk are as adept at dumb insolence in their self-defence as their self-styled 'betters' are, at subjecting The Flunkies to regular & required, increasingly-statutory, doses -- of SCT.

THAT May be the point:

ALL Throughout late-modernity as well as to-day, I expect the objective number among the population, of emotional defectives & moral cripples, the self-absorbed & all of those with professionalist inclinations, altogether these are probably the same proportion transversely, of populations over generations. However, the proliferation of (until now) cheap energy, and ever-discounted waves of new technologies, altogether has made it ever-easier for proliferating orders of psychological scum in search of illegitimate power, to evade actual work and rise ever-more numerously into subsidised & credentiallist positions of control over others. Their accession to these privileges is entirely not warranted by anything in the way of objectively-desirable personal characteristics whatsoever. Excepting, of course, their own lusts for dominant postions in the burgeonong & globalising bureaucratic & corporate fields -- of SCT.

Michael said...

Just a few of the USA's incidents of interfering in other countries affairs. In many cases, subverting a democratically elected government to replace with a military junta

1953 U.S. (CIA) and UK (MI-6) succeed in removal of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran (Operation Ajax) - 1953.
1954 CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala (Operation PBSUCCESS) -
1959 U.S. support for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista (amongst others against Marxist insurgents) until his unpopularity and impending overthrow becomes clear in 1959.
1961 CIA involvement in the assassination of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, their former ally in the Dominican Republic
1963 Alleged CIA involvement in overthrow of Juan Bosch, the democratically elected leader of the Dominican Republic
Alleged CIA-backed overthrow of José María Velasco Ibarra of EcuadorU.S. backs coup against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem
1964 CIA-backed overthrow of João Goulart in Brazil
CIA covert support for the election of Eduardo Frei Montalva of Chile
Alleged CIA support to military coup against Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966.
Alleged CIA-backed military coup ushers in Regime of the Colonels in Greece in 1967
American support for Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War
Alleged CIA-supported military coup against President Juan José Torres of Bolivia in 1971
Political and economic intervention in Chile against president Salvador Allende; contacts with military officers planning to overthrow Allende.
Approval and support for Argentina's "Dirty War". (1976-1983)
Following overthrow of the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle in Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, the CIA supports the Contras from 1979 - 1989
Support of armed opposition parties, including Khmer Rouge, to Vietnamese-installed regime of Heng Samrin in Cambodia, 1979–1993.
Alleged support for Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, 1980s.
CIA support for José Napoleón Duarte and other anti-Communist politicians alleged to have links with right-wing death squads.
Sale of small arms and weapons production materials to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War
Sale of arms to Iran (see Iran–Contra Affair)
Training of Nicaraguan Contras and support to military regimes in Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and South America during the 1980s.
Alleged CIA support to Gwangju Massacre in 1980.
Alleged CIA and South African backing to a coup attempt in the Seychelles in 1981.
American support for Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War.
Support for military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala Alleged CIA support for the coup that brought him into power.
Support to coup against Timoci Bavadra, democratically elected Prime Minister of Fiji in 1987.
Intervention in Colombian civil war, 1990s
Corruption of elections in Bulgaria in 1990 and in Albania in 1999
Alleged CIA-backed abortive coup against democratically-elected President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela in 2002
Alleged American support in the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in 2004. (see: 2004 Haiti rebellion) Also threatened Jamaica if it provided residence to Aristide.
Alleged interference in Salvadoran presidential election. US threatened to take reprisals if the country would elect the socialist candidate Schafik Handal, 2004.

anticant said...

Yes, Emmett, I have come across a lot of lying, scheming, self-seeking underlings too. But having worked in both large and small organisations, I'm pretty well convinced that the prevailing ethos is set from the top. If there is scum at the top of the pyramid, the whole brew will be stinking rotten.

That is one of the biggest problems we in the West are facing now.

Emmett said...

I Will bet you a pinch'll get you a pound, that michael's list up above is preceded by a good LONG Limey one, plus a WHOLE historical shitaree of the old European crapola...and will be followed in good time by -- you guessed it! -- an honest-to-God Chinese laundrylist of international crimes and subversions. Nothing enjoys these monkeys more than getting over on each other and playing loose with "their" wimmen, and then whining like a poison pup when its their turn for -- the old SCT!

anticant said...

And when they get tired of playing 'pots and kettles' they'll start on 'yours is bigger than mine'.

Emmett said...

Ever Et tinned artichoke-marrows?

Michael said...

Well Emmett since you liked the first list here's another one. Can anyone seriously argue that the USA is a force for the good? Yes of course Bwitish history is litered with such incidents, well apart from recent times in regards to the UN, but the point is it's the USA behaving this way in recent times. Bwitish history cannot be used as an excuse.

1. In December 2001, the United States officially withdrew from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty, gutting the landmark agreement-the first time in the nuclear era that the US renounced a major arms control accord.

2. 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention ratified by 144 nations including the United States. In July 2001 the US walked out of a London conference to discuss a 1994 protocol designed to strengthen the Convention by providing for on-site inspections. At Geneva in November 2001, US Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated that "the protocol is dead," at the same time accusing Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Sudan, and Syria of violating the Convention but offering no specific allegations or supporting evidence.

3. UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms, July 2001: the US was the only nation to oppose it.

4. April 2001, the US was not reelected to the UN Human Rights Commission, after years of withholding dues to the UN (including current dues of $244 million)-and after having forced the UN to lower its share of the UN budget from 25 to 22 percent. (In the Human Rights Commission, the US stood virtually alone in opposing resolutions supporting lower-cost access to HIV/AIDS drugs, acknowledging a basic human right to adequate food, and calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.)

5. International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, to be set up in The Hague to try political leaders and military personnel charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Signed in Rome in July 1998, the Treaty was approved by 120 countries, with 7 opposed (including the US).

In October 2001 Great Britain became the 42nd nation to sign. In December 2001 the US Senate again added an amendment to a military appropriations bill that would keep US military personnel from obeying the jurisdiction of the proposed ICC.

6. Land Mine Treaty, banning land mines; signed in Ottawa in December 1997 by 122 nations. The United States refused to sign, along with Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey. President Clinton rejected the Treaty, claiming that mines were needed to protect South Korea against North Korea's "overwhelming military advantage." He stated that the US would "eventually" comply, in 2006; this was disavowed by President Bush in August 2001.

7. Kyoto Protocol of 1997, for controlling global warming: declared "dead" by President Bush in March 2001. In November 2001, the Bush administration shunned negotiations in Marrakech (Morocco) to revise the accord, mainly by watering it down in a vain attempt to gain US approval.

8. In May 2001, refused to meet with European Union nations to discuss, even at lower levels of government, economic espionage and electronic surveillance of phone calls, e-mail, and faxes (the US "Echelon" program),

9. Refused to participate in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-sponsored talks in Paris, May 2001, on ways to crack down on off-shore and other tax and money-laundering havens.

10. Refused to join 123 nations pledged to ban the use and production of anti-personnel bombs and mines, February 2001

11. September 2001: withdrew from International Conference on Racism, bringing together 163 countries in Durban, South Africa

12. International Plan for Cleaner Energy: G-8 group of industrial nations (US, Canada, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, UK), July 2001: the US was the only one to oppose it.

13. Enforcing an illegal boycott of Cuba, now being made tighter. In the UN in October 2001, the General Assembly passed a resolution, for the tenth consecutive year, calling for an end to the US embargo, by a vote of 167 to 3 (the US, Israel, and the Marshall Islands in opposition).

14. Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty. Signed by 164 nations and ratified by 89 including France, Great Britain, and Russia; signed by President Clinton in 1996 but rejected by the Senate in 1999. The US is one of 13 nonratifiers among countries that have nuclear weapons or nuclear power programs. In November 2001, the US forced a vote in the UN Committee on Disarmament and Security to demonstrate its opposition to the Test Ban Treaty.

15. In 1986 the International Court of Justice (The Hague) ruled that the US was in violation of international law for "unlawful use of force" in Nicaragua, through its actions and those of its Contra proxy army. The US refused to recognize the Court's jurisdiction. A UN resolution calling for compliance with the Court's decision was approved 94-2 (US and Israel voting no).

16. In 1984 the US quit UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and ceased its payments for UNESCO's budget, over the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) project designed to lessen world media dependence on the "big four" wire agencies (AP, UPI, Agence France-Presse, Reuters).

The US charged UNESCO with "curtailment of press freedom," as well as mismanagement and other faults, despite a 148-1 in vote in favor of NWICO in the UN. UNESCO terminated NWICO in 1989; the US nonetheless refused to rejoin. In 1995 the Clinton administration proposed rejoining; the move was blocked in Congress and Clinton did not press the issue. In February 2000 the US finally paid some of its arrears to the UN but excluded UNESCO, which the US has not rejoined.

17. Optional Protocol, 1989, to the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at abolition of the death penalty and containing a provision banning the execution of those under 18. The US has neither signed nor ratified and specifically exempts itself from the latter provision, making it one of five countries that still execute juveniles (with Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria). China abolished the practice in 1997, Pakistan in 2000.

18. 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The only countries that have signed but not ratified are the US, Afghanistan, Sao Tome and Principe.

19. The US has signed but not ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which protects the economic and social rights of children. The only other country not to ratify is Somalia, which has no functioning government.

20. UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, covering a wide range of rights and monitored by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The US signed in 1977 but has not ratified.

21. UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948. The US finally ratified in 1988, adding several "reservations" to the effect that the US Constitution and the "advice and consent" of the Senate are required to judge whether any "acts in the course of armed conflict" constitute genocide. The reservations are rejected by Britain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Mexico, Estonia, and others.

Emmett said...

michael, Sorry, I didn't mean to catch a tartar! If anything, I'm not so much saying even that our /common/ human nature is an 'excuse' as that we are the problem. It is worse in view of the fact, as Old Jung pointed out, that even when a human organisation is made up exclusively of morally high-up individuals, and all of exemplary consciousness & self-awareness, even so the /organisation/ will still act like a large, stupid, unwiledy and violent beast. How often have we not all in the democracies flang up our paws with not-so-secret relief and said 'let the government deal with it!'

anticant said...

In "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" [which I'm sure Emmett - if not YD and Falcon - would enjoy], John Perkins graphically describes his career as a US economic imperialist whose task was to enmesh client countries in an inextricable web of debt and exploitation by US companies. He says: "If we fail, an even more sinister breed steps in [whom we] refer to as the jackals, [who] are always there lurking in the shadows. When they emerge, heads of state are overthrown or die in violent 'accidents'. And if...the jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq...young Americans are sent in to kill and to die."