Of the great America and its need for coups around the world

Published: January 16, 2018
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Monarchist demonstrators in Tehran downtown, August 26, 1953. PHOTO: AFP

In the past few months, there has been a successful coup in Zimbabwe, preceded by a failed attempt in Turkey. While local elements involved in such a takeover are in view of the public, the same cannot be said about foreign conspirators. Talk of foreign involvement is often shrugged off as a “conspiracy theory” by the global mainstream media, and evidence implicating outside actors is often ignored. However, a brief review of recent history (post World War II) unveils the role played by the strongest power in history – the United States (US) – in coups around the world.

The history presented in this piece is not based on the opinions of people, but rather on official declassified documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is not an exhaustive list of the interference of the US in the affairs of other nations; it is only a summary of some of the actions of the US government revealed through their documents. But even this pithy account will be sufficient to reveal a narrative that the media fails to mention – an empire supporting coups around the globe, in its pursuit of power and wealth while espousing the values of democracy and liberty.

The first documented case of regime change took place in 1953 in Iran. This was a joint covert operation involving the British and American intelligence services. “Operation TPAJAX” was initiated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow the democratically elected, popular government of then Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq.

The operation involved subversion, sabotage, assassinations and bribes to protect the oil interests of the British and give a foothold to the US in the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). Mosaddeq wanted to nationalise the oil company and change the terms of the contract with the British. He wanted Iranian oil to be used for the benefit of the Iranian people, not for foreign interests. Unfortunately for the people of Iran, the operation was successful. Mosaddeq was overthrown and replaced by a stooge, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who protected American oil interests for the next 26 years and ran one of the most repressive monarchies in the Middle East.

In 1954, the US successfully orchestrated a coup against President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala. The operation was called “PBSUCCESS”, and it replaced the reformist leader with the CIA’s point man, Carlos Castillo Armas. The operation once again involved extremely vicious and violent tactics, and was enacted to protect American business interests in Guatemala (such as the United Fruit Company).

Later in the 1960s, the US launched an unsuccessful operation to remove Cuba’s communist leader, Fidel Castro. The operation involved a covert invasion and bombing of the country planned and launched by the CIA – the Bay of Pigs invasion. Once again, the operation involved murderous tactics and even a failed assassination plot against the leader of Cuba.

In the 1970s, in order to protect American business interests in Chile (such as copper mines), the US launched “Operation Fubelt against the democratically-elected government of Chile, headed by Salvador Allende. The operation involved the creation of a severe economic crisis, along with various ferocious subversion tactics aimed at destabilising the government. President Nixon is famously quoted as saying, “make the economy scream”, a common tactic aimed at invoking popular unrest within a country against the sitting government.

At first, the then sitting General of the Chilean army refused to support the American plan. The US then had General Rene Schneider kidnapped and killed, and managed to convince General Augusto Pinochet to overthrow the government. In the violent coup of 1973, the plan of regime change was successful and Allende committed suicide. General Pinochet ruled Chile with an iron fist for the next 27 years, with the backing of the US. In 1998, Pinochet was arrested and charged in London for various human rights violations and crimes that he had committed against his own people, while preserving America’s economic interests in his country.

In the 1980s, the US was once again planning regime change, this time in Nicaragua. The operation, which became commonly known as the Iran-Contra Affair, was aimed at overthrowing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The US was funding and supporting drug traffickers against the local government, but the operation failed miserably after the covert agency had to abandon its operation once it became public in late 80’s. The then American president, Ronald Reagan, apologised for his government’s role in the affair.

The examples mentioned earlier represent only a small portion of covert operations carried out by the US – they do not represent isolated events by rogue elements. Instead, they portray the continuing legacy of an empire which is involved in protecting, maintaining and increasing its power and wealth, through the use of any and all means necessary. In light of the aforementioned, irrefutable historical record, to dismiss claims of foreign involvement in the recent coup in Zimbabwe and the attempt in Turkey would be the definition of ignorance.

In Zimbabwe’s case, a leaked US embassy cable, dated January 30, 2007 and published by WikiLeaks, outlined a plan to remove Mugabe by 2010. In Turkey’s case, no official US documents have come to light regarding the failed coup attempt, but it is no secret that the US was extremely irate with the Turkish leader due to his stance on a number of domestic and foreign issues where he had directly challenged American objectives.

Domestically, over the past decade, Recep Erdogan has introduced reforms that have increased his grip on power and revived an expansionist Ottoman legacy that appeals to Turkey’s Islamist roots, beginning to overturn secular policies implemented by successive military regimes with US backing.

On the regional front, Erdogan continues to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In Iraq and Syria, he has repeatedly targeted the Kurds, who have been in an alliance with the US since 2003. Furthermore, he has refused to support the US policy regarding Israel and Iran. Later, the relationship between the two countries came to a standstill after the coup, as Erdogan asked for the extradition of the right-wing preacher and political leader, Fethullah Gulen, who is in exile in the US.

For many in Turkey, US protection and support of a man officially charged by Turkey in the coup attempt is another sign of foreign involvement and support. This pushed Erdogan to ally with Russia, something unthinkable and intolerable for the American administration.

Given the above, one can safely assume that the plans to bring about regime change are being implemented by the US (against Turkey and other countries) even at present, and future generations will probably be privy to the ‘documented’ dismemberment of nationalistic states unwilling to accept hegemonic control. I would like to conclude this article by quoting a recommendation that seems to have been implemented in both letter and spirit, made by General Jimmy Doolittle to President Eisenhower,

“It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy (the Soviet Union) whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever costs. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the US is to survive, longstanding American concepts of “fair play” must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more effective methods than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.”

Khawaja Akbar

Khawaja Akbar

The author works at an office during the day and teaches part time in the evening. He enjoys reading and writing and, in an ideal world he would spend his entire time studying history. The history of everything. He tweets @KhawajaAkbar1 (twitter.com/KhawajaAkbar1)

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