PDA

View Full Version : U.S. history lesson: stop meddling


Warrior
May 16th, 2006, 03:49 PM
In the last 100 years, the U.S. has ousted the governments of at least 14 countries and forcibly intervened in dozens of others -- to what end?
By Stephen Kinzer

May 13, 2006

THE UNITED STATES is facing a major crisis in Iran, where the clerical regime, despite its denials, is evidently embarked on an effort to develop nuclear weapons. Because American leaders say they will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, this has led to intense speculation that the Bush administration is preparing a military attack.

History suggests, however, that such an attack would have disastrous long-term consequences. Iranians know as well as anyone how terribly wrong such foreign interventions can go.

Iran was an incipient democracy in 1953, but Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh — chosen by an elected parliament and hugely popular among Iranians — angered the West by nationalizing his country's oil industry. President Eisenhower sent the CIA to depose him. The coup was successful, but it set the stage for future disaster.

The CIA placed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi back on the Peacock Throne. His repressive rule led, 25 years later, to the Islamic Revolution. That revolution brought to power a clique of bitterly anti-Western mullahs who have spent the decades since working intensely, and sometimes violently, to undermine U.S. interests around the world.

If the Eisenhower administration had refrained from direct intervention against Iran in 1953, this religious regime probably would never have come to power. There would be no nuclear crisis. Iran might instead have become a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim Middle East.

Overthrowing a government is like releasing a wheel at the top of a hill — you have no idea exactly what will happen next. Iranians are not the only ones who know this. In slightly more than a century, the United States has overthrown the governments of at least 14 countries, beginning with the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and forcibly intervened in dozens more. Long before Afghanistan and Iraq, there were the Philippines, Panama, South Vietnam and Chile, among others.

Most of these interventions not only have brought great pain to the target countries but also, in the long run, weakened American security.

Cuba, half a world away from Iran, is a fine example. In 1898, the United States sent troops there to help rebels overthrow Spanish colonial rule. Once victory was secured, the U.S. reneged on its promise to allow Cuba to become independent and turned it into a protectorate.

More than 60 years later, in his first speech as leader of the victorious Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro recalled that episode and made a promise. "This time," he vowed, "it will not be like 1898, when the Americans came in and made themselves masters of the country."

Those words suggest that perhaps if the U.S. had allowed Cuba to go its own way in 1898, the entire phenomenon of Castro communism might never have emerged.

The U.S. deposed a visionary leader of Nicaragua, Jose Santos Zelaya, in 1909 and sent his unlucky country into a long spiral of repression and rebellion.

Forty-five years later, still believing that "regime change" can end well, the U.S. overthrew the left-leaning president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, and imposed a military regime. That regime's brutality set off a 30-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands died.

Today, Latin America and the Middle East are the regions of the world in the most open political rebellion against U.S. policies. It is no coincidence that these are the regions where the U.S. has intervened most often. Resentment over intervention festers. It passes from generation to generation. Ultimately it produces a backlash.

Countries that have been victimized by past interventions are especially determined to resist future ones. Iran is one of these. Over the last 200 years, the British, Russians and Americans have sought to dominate and exploit Iran. If the U.S. intervenes there now, it will face the pent-up anger many Iranians harbor against all outside powers.

Some in Washington evidently believe that it is worth trying to set off upheaval in Iran because any new regime there would be an improvement.

This is a dangerous gamble, as intervention would strengthen the most radical factions in Iran. Militants, including the bombastic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would use it as an excuse to crack down on dissent. That could lead to a wave of repression, produce a regime more dangerously anti-American than the current one and set back the cause of Iranian democracy by another generation.

This looming crisis might be resolved by direct and unconditional negotiations between Washington and Tehran, but American leaders refuse to bargain with the mullahs. The trauma of the Islamic Revolution, and the hostage crisis that followed it, left a deep scar on the American political psyche — so deep that it prevents the U.S. from engaging Iran in ways that could have great benefits for American security.

Yet far from being doomed to conflict, these two proud nations are potential allies. Both want to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, assure the free flow of Middle East oil and crush radical Sunni movements like the Taliban and Al Qaeda. What prevents talks from materializing is the deep resentment both sides feel over past interventions.

Iran has intervened across the Middle East, sometimes using the extreme weapon of terror, to attack U.S. interests. For its part, the U.S. intervened to crush Iranian democracy in 1953, imposed the shah and supported his repressive rule for 25 years.

The cure for the effects of past intervention is not more intervention. Given the seriousness of the nuclear crisis with Iran, American leaders should put aside their self-defeating and increasingly dangerous refusal to negotiate. The alternative may be violent intervention in Iran. Americans have tried that before. The results would be no happier this time.


STEPHEN KINZER, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is the author of "All the Shah's Men," about the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran, and, most recently, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq."



http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/sf/latimes5_13_06.htm

Dana Marcy
May 16th, 2006, 10:58 PM
Thanks for posting this. I'm not really knowledgable about international politics but I've always had this very thought (like in the article) about what if we stopped intervening and as a country put all that energy and money into getting our own "stuff" together. It sounds naive I know but this is something I've often wondered about!!

John A Roark
May 16th, 2006, 11:13 PM
what if we stopped intervening, and as a country put all that energy and money into getting our own "stuff" together?
People!
Pay attention to this woman!!
She keeps showing us the wisdom we need.

Johno_uk
May 16th, 2006, 11:15 PM
Yip, especially in Latin America, where it has medled with just about every country going...probably every country going... But I think the days of US "intervenions" are coming to end now, as the international community isn't going to support them anymore, as they don'T work..technically they didn't for Iraq, but even GB won't support an Iran invasion, just aint gonna happen.

Still can't say every US intervention was a bad thing, remember Kosovo? Thousands of Albanians must have been saved from genocide there.

pav
May 17th, 2006, 09:32 AM
Yip, especially in Latin America, where it has medled with just about every country going...probably every country going... But I think the days of US "intervenions" are coming to end now, as the international community isn't going to support them anymore, as they don'T work..technically they didn't for Iraq, but even GB won't support an Iran invasion, just aint gonna happen.

Still can't say every US intervention was a bad thing, remember Kosovo? Thousands of Albanians must have been saved from genocide there.
wasn't that a NATO force?

Solitaire
May 17th, 2006, 11:03 AM
I say the US should mind its own bizz and focus on itself. Let the UN handle international affairs. All they do is debate while real people die. Both options are bad in my eyes.

azdaja
May 17th, 2006, 11:24 AM
Yip, especially in Latin America, where it has medled with just about every country going...probably every country going... But I think the days of US "intervenions" are coming to end now, as the international community isn't going to support them anymore, as they don'T work..technically they didn't for Iraq, but even GB won't support an Iran invasion, just aint gonna happen.

Still can't say every US intervention was a bad thing, remember Kosovo? Thousands of Albanians must have been saved from genocide there.
the poster who started this thread also started another one a few months ago. that one asked the question whether kosovo was a test case for future wars like that against iraq. it's worth reading:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=225073

there was no genocide in kosovo, and prior to bombings there were displaced people in kosovo, but no ethnic cleansing (in the sense that they were expelled from there). whatever the reasons for the bombings really were, that war was also based on lies.

Rollo
May 17th, 2006, 05:47 PM
the poster who started this thread also started another one a few months ago. that one asked the question whether kosovo was a test case for future wars like that against iraq. it's worth reading:
http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=225073 (http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=225073)

there was no genocide in kosovo, and prior to bombings there were displaced people in kosovo, but no ethnic cleansing (in the sense that they were expelled from there). whatever the reasons for the bombings really were, that war was also based on lies.

I know a woman who worked with the UN forces in Kosovo-she had a different story to tell.

azdaja
May 17th, 2006, 05:52 PM
I know a woman who worked with the UN forces in Kosovo-she had a different story to tell.
a lot of people have stories to tell, that does not make them accurate.

each way, people who oppose meddling will be confronted with this example all the time. unless they try to find out more about "humanitarian interventions" in kosovo and elsewhere they won't be able to do much about this problem at all. which was the point of my post.

Rollo
May 17th, 2006, 09:08 PM
a lot of people have stories to tell, that does not make them accurate.

each way, people who oppose meddling will be confronted with this example all the time. unless they try to find out more about "humanitarian interventions" in kosovo and elsewhere they won't be able to do much about this problem at all. which was the point of my post.

Point taken about people having stories to tell-but I could say the same about the sources you cited couldn't I?

Lets stick with facts then-there WAS a war going on-right? We can debate it's intensity, but it was a conflict that had been ongoing for almost a decade-which neither Serbia, the other states, or Europe had bothered to stop.

After the NATO bombing at least the major fighting has stopped-correct?

azdaja
May 17th, 2006, 09:36 PM
Point taken about people having stories to tell-but I could say the same about the sources you cited couldn't I?
not quite. there are stories and there are facts. you need to see the broader picture, which you often can't if you are just a foot soldier.


Lets stick with facts then-there WAS a war going on-right? We can debate it's intensity, but it was a conflict that had been ongoing for almost a decade-which neither Serbia, the other states, or Europe had bothered to stop.

After the NATO bombing at least the major fighting has stopped-correct?
no. the only thing that changed after the nato intervention is that albanians were able to conduct ethnic cleansing of the province which is bound to get permanent. to put it other way nato the us just decided to support one side in an ethnic conflict (for whatever reasons). and of course the conflict is bound to be settled once a powerful nation decides to support one of the sides. it is a kind of a solution, but not of the kind that supporters of that war claim was achieved.

and there were attempts to reach a peaceful settlement. perhaps they could have worked, who knows. each way, the point is that the war in kosovo had nothing to do with preventing a genocide (because nothing of the sort was going on). so what was it about? even if we assume that the intentions were humanitarian, why all the lying?

Rollo
May 17th, 2006, 10:20 PM
no. the only thing that changed after the nato intervention is that albanians were able to conduct ethnic cleansing of the province which is bound to get permanent. to put it other way nato the us just decided to support one side in an ethnic conflict (for whatever reasons). and of course the conflict is bound to be settled once a powerful nation decides to support one of the sides. it is a kind of a solution, but not of the kind that supporters of that war claim was achieved.

and there were attempts to reach a peaceful settlement. perhaps they could have worked, who knows. each way, the point is that the war in kosovo had nothing to do with preventing a genocide (because nothing of the sort was going on). so what was it about? even if we assume that the intentions were humanitarian, why all the lying?

But there's been no outright war after the bombing-right? "Ethnic cleansing" was being pursued by all sides of course, but until US intervention Milosevic and Serbia had the upper hand in it as the largest ethnic group.

As for "no genocide"-I'll agree you're right about the exaggerations leading up to the conflict,etc. But what term do you prefer to use for all the years of killing minorities? Is the Hague (surely no ally of the US in general) totally wrong then in convicting Milosevic and company for war crimes? My point is after years of seeing people slaughtered it was easy for the media and Clinton to buy into large numbers being killed.

As for any ulterior motives the Clinton administration had-I'd put it down to the Monica Lewinshy affair before any "test run" theory. Clinton's principal worry in 1999 was keeping his job.

Lord Nelson
May 18th, 2006, 12:25 AM
I know a woman who worked with the UN forces in Kosovo-she had a different story to tell.
Oh really and naturally you believe her?? Show me the facts wich says that there was a genocide there. Just because she works for the UN does not mean anything.W hat counts are sources not what one person tells you. Oh and my sister and her husband who work for the UN also agree with me that there was no genocide there so I assume that they are right because they work for the UN. Facts are what count, not what one or 2 people tell you. In this case my relatives were right since the sources backed what they said.
There were kosovars who were killed but that was no genocide. A lot of them were booted out of Kosovo and that was practiculary it. Kosovars were killed and so were serbs by the kosovars. In Bosnia that was another story though.

TF Chipmunk
May 18th, 2006, 04:30 AM
Well firstly, Hawaii was not overthrown by the US Government. Queen Lily was overthrown by American planters in Hawaii. The US President, Cleveland, actually did not want to annex Hawaii BECAUSE of the fact that these American planters brutally uprooted the native government.

But the rest is true. However, to say that some things may not have happened if the US did not intervene is just a desperate attempt to incriminate the US. It is not like one can simply turn back time and say, if this didn't happen, then this other thing wouldn't have happened.

For example, even if the US did give Cuba its complete independence after the Spanish-American War, Cuba could still have become a communist nation later on if their economy went sour and communist leaders convinced the Cuban people that their lives would be better if Communism was put into place.

Of course, this is not to say that I support all the US meddling. I just don't support his arguments.

azdaja
May 18th, 2006, 10:18 AM
But there's been no outright war after the bombing-right? "Ethnic cleansing" was being pursued by all sides of course, but until US intervention Milosevic and Serbia had the upper hand in it as the largest ethnic group.
and? i mean, i know that until foreign intervention the serbs had the upper hand. after that they were the ones that were expelled - to the point that serbs became the largest refugee group in the region. do you support ethnic cleansing or what?


As for "no genocide"-I'll agree you're right about the exaggerations leading up to the conflict,etc. But what term do you prefer to use for all the years of killing minorities? Is the Hague (surely no ally of the US in general) totally wrong then in convicting Milosevic and company for war crimes? My point is after years of seeing people slaughtered it was easy for the media and Clinton to buy into large numbers being killed.
well, "killing minorities" is an interesting term. there was an armed group within kosovo carrying attacks against the police and civilians, so killing definitely went both ways. it's comparable to what was going on in turkey with the kurds. turkey is a nato member, mind. and you are right that the people were prepared to accept inflated numbers, but that does not mean that correct estimates were not available. they were and still are. it just goes to show that people know very little about what was going on.

as for hague not being an ally of the us - sorry, but that court depends totally on the us and nato to the point that they said they cannot persecute nato members for war crimes even though according to its official mission statement it should. it is often accused of being a political court and their inability to convince milosevic for years (it would have taken them at least another 3 years) speaks volumes - the case they made was too weak.


As for any ulterior motives the Clinton administration had-I'd put it down to the Monica Lewinshy affair before any "test run" theory. Clinton's principal worry in 1999 was keeping his job.
each way the question whether there were some ulterior motives is legitimate and everyone can think of something. but it is very important that people be careful not to blindly follow their leaders the next time they start a "humanitarian" war.