الاثنين، أغسطس 27، 2007

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.


We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.


Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.


A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

  • and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.


Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.


Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.


So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence:

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]


I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

  1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
  2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
  3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
  4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
  5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.

The Declaration of Independence - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq

The Evils and Lies of American Imperialism - Ummah.com - Muslim Forum

Friday, April 21st, 2006
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq



Author Stephen Kinzer discusses his new book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." In it, he writes that the invasion of Iraq "was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons." [includes rush transcript]
"The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode. It was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons."

So writes author Stephen Kinzer in his new book "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq."

Kinzer writes that "The "regime change" in Iraq seemed for a time -- a very short time -- to have worked. It is now clear, however, that this operation has had terrible unintended consequences. So have most of the other coups, revolutions, and invasions that the United States has mounted to depose governments it feared or mistrusted."

Stephen Kinzer, author of "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." He is a former New York Times foreign correspondent and author of several books, including "All the Shah's Men" and "Bitter Fruit."

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer joins us today in Chicago. He is a veteran New York Times foreign correspondent, author of several books, including All the Shah's Men and Bitter Fruit. He has just recently left the New York Times. We welcome you to Democracy Now!

STEPHEN KINZER: It’s great to be with you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to be in your city, Stephen.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, you are looking at 14 coups that the U.S. was involved with. What was the primary reason for the U.S. government's involvement in overthrowing other countries' governments?

STEPHEN KINZER: A lot of these coups have been studied individually, but what I'm trying to do in my book is see them not as a series of isolated incidents, but rather as one long continuum. And by looking at them that way, I am able to tease out certain patterns that recur over and over again. They don't all fit the same pattern, but it's amazing how many of them do.

You ask about the motivations, and that is one of the patterns that comes through when you look at these things all together. There’s really a three-stage motivation that I can see when I watch so many of the developments of these coups. The first thing that happens is that the regime in question starts bothering some American company. They start demanding that the company pay taxes or that it observe labor laws or environmental laws. Sometimes that company is nationalized or is somehow required to sell some of its land or its assets. So the first thing that happens is that an American or a foreign corporation is active in another country, and the government of that country starts to restrict it in some way or give it some trouble, restrict its ability to operate freely.

Then, the leaders of that company come to the political leadership of the United States to complain about the regime in that country. In the political process, in the White House, the motivation morphs a little bit. The U.S. government does not intervene directly to defend the rights of a company, but they transform the motivation from an economic one into a political or geo-strategic one. They make the assumption that any regime that would bother an American company or harass an American company must be anti-American, repressive, dictatorial, and probably the tool of some foreign power or interest that wants to undermine the United States. So the motivation transforms from an economic to a political one, although the actual basis for it never changes.

Then, it morphs one more time when the U.S. leaders have to explain the motivation for this operation to the American people. Then they do not use either the economic or the political motivation usually, but they portray these interventions as liberation operations, just a chance to free a poor oppressed nation from the brutality of a regime that we assume is a dictatorship, because what other kind of a regime would be bothering an American company?

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer, I want to begin where you do in the book, and that is, with Hawaii.

STEPHEN KINZER: Many Americans I don't think realize that Hawaii was an independent country before it was brought into the United States. In brief, this is the story. In the early part of the 19th century, several hundred American missionaries, most of them from New England, sailed off to what were then called the Sandwich Islands to devote their lives to, as they would have put it, raising up the heathen savages and teaching them the blessings of Christian civilization.

It wasn't long before many of these missionaries and their sons began to realize that there was a lot of money to be made in Hawaii. The natives had been growing sugar for a long time, but they had never refined it and had never exported it. By dispossessing the natives of most of their land, a group that came from what was then called this missionary planter elite sort of left the path of God, went onto the path of Mammon and established a series of giant sugar plantations in Hawaii, and they became very rich from exporting sugar into the United States.

In the early 1890s, the U.S. passed a tariff that made it impossible for the Hawaiian sugar growers to sell their sugar in the U.S. So they were in a panic. They were about to lose their fortunes. And they asked themselves what they could do to somehow continue to sell their sugar in the U.S.

They came up with a perfect answer: We’ll get into the U.S. How will we do this? Well, the leader of the Hawaiian revolutionaries, if you want to call them that, who were mostly of American origin, actually went to Washington. He met with the Secretary of the Navy. He presented his case directly to the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. And he received assurances that the U.S. would support a rebellion against the Hawaiian monarchy.

So he went back to Hawaii and became part of a triumvirate, which essentially carried out the Hawaiian revolution. He was one part of the triumvirate. The second part was the American ambassador, who was himself an annexationist and had been instructed by the State Department to do whatever he could to aid this revolution. And the third figure was the commander of the U.S. naval vessel, which was conveniently anchored right off the shores of Honolulu.

This revolution was carried out with amazing ease. The leader of the Hawaiian revolutionaries, this missionary planter elite, simply announced at a meeting one day, “We have overthrown the government of Hawaii, and we are now the new government.” And before the queen was able to respond, the U.S. ambassador had 250 Marines called to shore from the ship that was conveniently off the coast of Honolulu and announced that since there had been some instability and there seemed to be a change of government, the Marines were going to land to protect the new regime and the lives and property of all Hawaiians. So that meant that there was nothing the queen could do. The regime was immediately recognized by the United States, and with that simple process, the monarchy of Hawaii came to an end, and then ultimately Hawaii joined the U.S.

AMY GOODMAN: The queen called in ambassadors from other countries for help?

STEPHEN KINZER: The queen was a little bit shocked by all this, as were her cabinet ministers. In fact, they appealed to the United States and asked, “What instability is there? Who's in danger? Tell us, and we'll protect them.” The queen had about 600 troops at her disposal. That was the whole Hawaiian military force. And her cabinet ministers actually called the ambassadors from foreign countries in Honolulu -- there were about a dozen of them then -- and said, “What should we do? Do you think we should fight the Marines?” And the ambassadors quite prudently told her that that would be foolish. “You should just accept it and then try to regain your throne by some other means.” That never proved possible. But even then, it was clear to the ruler of this small, weak country that there was no hope in resisting U.S. military intervention.

AMY GOODMAN: It still took a few years before Hawaii was ultimately annexed.

STEPHEN KINZER: It's a very interesting story. Immediately after the revolution, the revolutionaries went back to Washington and, sure enough, President Harrison, as he promised, submitted to the U.S. Congress a law to bring Hawaii into the U.S., but there was a great resistance to this when it was understood how the coup was organized and on whose behalf it was organized, so the Congress did not immediately approve the annexation of Hawaii.

And right at that time, the presidency changed. The Republican, Benjamin Harrison, was out of office, and the new president, a Democrat, Grover Cleveland, came in. He was against annexation. He was an anti-imperialist. He withdrew the treaty. And that meant that Hawaii had to become an independent country for a few years, until the next Republican president came into office, McKinley. And then, at the height of the Spanish-American War, when the U.S. was taking the Philippines, Hawaii was presented to the U.S. as a vital midway station between California and the Philippines. And it was at that time, five years after the revolution, that Hawaii was actually brought into the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Stephen Kinzer. So, first came the missionaries, then came the Marines.

STEPHEN KINZER: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes we hear the phrase “Business follows the flag.” But in my research, I found that it's actually the opposite. First comes the business operations, then comes the flag. It's the flag that follows business.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to take a break, and then we're going to come back to this discussion about, well, the title of his book is Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.


AMY GOODMAN: We're broadcasting from Chicago, where Stephen Kinzer is based, longtime foreign correspondent for the New York Times, author of a number of books, including All the Shah's Men, about Iran, Bitter Fruit, about Guatemala. His latest is Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. He just recently left the New York Times. You talk about 14 countries that the U.S. intervened in: Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Chile, Honduras, Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Panama. Let's talk about Cuba. What happened?

STEPHEN KINZER: The Cuban story is really a fascinating one, partly because it illustrates one of the main themes of my book, and that is how these interventions in the long run always produce reactions and ultimately lead to the emergence of regimes that are much more anti-American than the regimes we originally set out to overthrow. Here was the story in Cuba. Americans have had their eye on Cuba for a long time, ever since Thomas Jefferson was president. But it was in 1898 that this attachment to the cause of Cuba Libré really seized the hearts of many Americans.

Bear in mind that in 1898, the Cuban economy was totally dominated by Americans. It was a big sugar producer, and all the sugar plantations in Cuba were owned by Americans. Also, it was a very big market for American manufactured goods. About 85% of anything you could buy in Cuba had been made in the United States, so American business had very big interests there.

Now, Cuban patriots spent much of the late 19th century rebelling against Spanish colonial rule. In 1898 they seemed very close to succeeding. This was a little bit troubling to some of the American interests in Cuba, because the revolutionaries were also social reformers. They advocated land reform, which would have meant breaking up the big sugar plantations owned by Americans. They also supported a tariff wall around Cuba to allow the growth of domestic manufacturing, which would have made it more difficult for American companies to export their goods to Cuba.

AMY GOODMAN: And what year was this?

STEPHEN KINZER: These are in the late 1890s. So in 1898, the American press, in some ways excited by whisperings from American businessmen active in Cuba, began a campaign to portray Spanish colonial rule in Cuba as the most unspeakably brutal tyranny that could be imagined, and the American public was whipped up into a fervor about this. The fervor intensified when the U.S. battleship, Maine, was blown up in Havana harbor. “Our Warship Was Blown Up by an Enemy's Infernal Machine.” That was the headline in the New York Journal that I reproduce in my book. Actually, it wasn't until 75 years later that the Navy convened a board of inquiry, which turned up the fact that the Maine was actually blown up by an internal explosion. The Spanish had nothing to do with it, but we didn't know that then, and the press seized on this to intensify the anger in the U.S.

Now, the Americans then decided we would send troops to Cuba to help the patriots overthrow Spanish colonialism, but the Cuban revolutionaries were not so sure they liked this idea. They didn't know if they wanted thousands of American troops on their soil, because what would happen after the victory was won? In response to this concern, the U.S. government, the Congress, passed a law, the Teller Amendment, which said very explicitly, “We promise Cuba that the moment independence is won, all American troops will be withdrawn, and Cuba will be allowed to become fully independent.”

After that law was passed, the Cuban rebels agreed to accept American aid. American soldiers went to Cuba, including, famously, Teddy Roosevelt, who had his own uniform personally designed for him by Brooks Brothers in New York. In the space of essentially one day of fighting, the Spanish colonial rule was dealt its final death blow, Spain surrendered Cuba, and Cuba prepared for a huge celebration of its independence.

Just before that celebration was about to be held, the Americans announced that they changed their mind, that the Teller Amendment had been passed in a moment of irrational enthusiasm and that actually Cuban independence was not a very good idea, so the American troops were not withdrawn. We remained in Cuba for some decades, ruling it directly under U.S. military officers, and then, for a period after that, through local dictators.

Now, flash forward to 1959. That was when Fidel Castro's revolution succeeded. Castro came down from the hills and made his very first speech as leader of the revolution in Santiago, and in that speech, which I quote in my book, he does not talk about what kind of a regime he's going to impose, but he makes one promise. He says, “This time I promise you it will not be like 1898 again, when the Americans came in and made themselves masters of our country.”

Now, any Americans who might have read a report of that speech, I'm sure, would have been very puzzled. In the first place, they would have had no memory of what happened in 1898, but secondly, they would wonder, “What could an event 60 years ago possibly have to do with this revolution in Cuba today?” What they had failed to realize is that resentment over these interventions burns in the hearts and souls of people in foreign countries and later explodes violently.

It's quite reasonable to say today that had we not intervened in Cuba and prevented Cuba from becoming independent, had we carried out our explicit promise to the Cubans in 1898, we would never have had to face the entire phenomenon of Castro communism all these last 40 years. Now, of course, we would love to have back a moderate democratic regime like the one that was going to come to power in Cuba in 1898, but it's too late for that, and it's an example of how when we frustrate people's legitimate nationalist aspirations, we wind up not only casting those countries into instability, but severely undermining our own national security.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, something we see today, for example, in Iraq, is the critical role, not only of the U.S. government perhaps protecting U.S. corporations, but the role of the media in all of this. Going back to Cuba, what was the role of the media?

STEPHEN KINZER: The press played a really shameful role in the run-up to the Spanish-American War. The Americans had never been particularly fond of the Spanish rule in Cuba, but it wasn't until the press, actually in a circulation war, decided to seize on the brutality, as they called it, of Spanish colonial rule in the summer of 1898 that Americans really went crazy.

Now, there's one very interesting aspect of the Cuban press campaign that I think we see repeated periodically throughout American history, and that is, we never like to attack simply a regime. We like to have one individual. Americans love to have a demon, a certain person who is the symbol of all the evil and tyranny in the regime that we want to attack. We've had this with Khomeini, with Castro, with Qaddafi, various other figures over history.

Now, in the case of the Spanish-American War, we first thought we'd like to demonize the king of Spain, but there was no king of Spain. There was a queen, who was actually an Austrian princess, so she wouldn't work. The regent, her son, was actually just a 12-year-old kid, so he wouldn't work, either. So then, we decided to focus on the Spanish general, who was the commander of Spanish troops in Cuba, General Weyler, and for a time, Weyler was thought of as the epitome of all the carnal brutality that we attributed to Spanish colonialism.

We see this pattern again coming right up to the modern age, when we're always looking for some individual to point at. The idea behind this is that the natural state of all people in the world is to have U.S.-style democracy and to be friendly to the United States. If they're not, it must mean that there's only one person or one tiny clique that is preventing the people in this country from being the way they naturally would be, and if we could only just remove this one individual or this tiny clique, the people in that country would return to the normal state of all people, which is to wish to have the U.S. system of government and politics and economics and to embrace the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: William Randolph Hearst, was he a key figure then?

STEPHEN KINZER: Hearst was a crucial figure, who very cleverly realized that he could push the circulation of his newspaper dramatically higher if he hammered away on jingoistic issues by pointing at foreign nations as constantly seeking to undermine the United States. There's an undercurrent, which we're still seeing today, of seeing the world in this very Hobbesian way, that there are terrible dangers everywhere, and it's very important for the U.S. to go out and attack here and attack there before those dangers come to shore. Clausewitz, who I read a lot while I was researching my book, had a great phrase for this. He called it, “suicide for fear of death.” You are so afraid of what's happening to you in the world or what might happen to you that you go out and launch operations, which actually produce the result that you were afraid might happen if you didn't do these things.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about John Foster Dulles, who he was, his role in these interventions, Guatemala, and just before that, Iran?

STEPHEN KINZER: One of the things I do in my book that I haven't done in my previous books is focus a lot on Dulles. I really believe that Dulles was one of the key figures in shaping the second half of the 20th century, and I devote some time to try to analyze him and figure out why he played this role. First of all, Dulles spent almost all of his adult life as America's most successful and most highly paid corporate lawyer. He represented all of the giant multinational corporations in America, not just United Fruit, but International Nickel and all sorts of resource conglomerates all over the world. So the whole way he saw the world was economics. He thought that American policy in the world should be oriented towards protecting American corporations.

Dulles also came from a family of clergymen. He was a deep religious believer. His father was a preacher. His grandfather had been a missionary in India, and this gave him another strain, which is very important in the American regime-change era, and that is this sense of religious mission, this belief that since the United States has been blessed with prosperity and democracy, we have, not just the right, but perhaps even the God-given obligation to go to other countries and share the benefits of all we have with them, particularly to countries that may not even be advanced enough to realize how much they want our political system. So Dulles saw the world in a strictly black-and-white way.

He saw, at that time, a communist conspiracy all over the world as working relentlessly to undermine the United States. For example, he opposed all cultural exchanges with any communist country. He tried for years to keep U.S. reporters from visiting China. He was against summit meetings of all kinds. He didn't want agreement with communist countries on any subject, because he thought any agreement would be just a trick to get America to lower its guard.

Now, when Iran nationalized its oil industry, when Guatemala tried to restrict the operations of United Fruit Company, Dulles did not see this as a reflection of a desire by people in a foreign country to control their own resources. He rather saw it as an anti-American move, undoubtedly manipulated from the Kremlin, which had a much more profound goal than simply bothering an American company. This was just the beginnings of an anti-American attack.

Now, one of the things I ask in my book is: Why did we so tragically misjudge nationalist movements in developing countries, like Iran and Guatemala and later Chile? Why did we interpret them as part of an international conspiracy, which, as documents later proved, they were not?

I think it was for this reason. American statesmen and diplomats who study the history of diplomacy are actually studying the history of European diplomacy. We're very Eurocentric. Our diplomats and our statesmen are very well versed in European political traditions. They're familiar with alliance politics and wars of conquest and big powers that use small powers secretly for their own means, but the desire of poor people in poor countries to control their own natural resources has never been a part of European history. It's not a syndrome that Americans who study Europe are familiar with, and that, along with an instinctive desire to protect American companies, I think led them to misjudge nationalist movements and misinterpret them as part of a global conspiracy to undermine the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Or perhaps not care, but care about U.S. companies, as in Guatemala, United Fruit being able to have free reign.

STEPHEN KINZER: I think it was very much a sense that the companies must know what's best for the United States in those countries, but in addition, we managed to persuade ourselves that a government that was bothering American companies must also be harassing and oppressing its own people, and this is an argument that I think is very well tailored to the American soul. You know, we really are a very compassionate people, and Americans hate the idea that there are people suffering in some faraway country. American leaders who want to intervene in those countries for very ignoble reasons understand this, and they use that motive, they play on the American compassion to achieve support for their interventions.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about what fuels Iran today, the feeling Iranians have for America, based on the coup the U.S. was involved with in 1953.

STEPHEN KINZER: It's hard to believe today that we could even use the word “Iran” and “democracy” in the same sentence, but the fact is Iran was a functioning, thriving democracy in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Because Iran nationalized its oil industry, rather than allow it to continue being exploited by foreigners, Iran became a target for foreign intervention, and the U.S. did overthrow the democracy of Iran in the summer of 1953.

We placed on the throne the Shah. He ruled for 25 years with increasing repression. His repression produced the explosion of the late 1970s, the Islamic revolution. That revolution brought to power a fanatically anti-American clique of mullahs who began their regime by taking American diplomats as hostage, has then spent 25 years oppressing its own people and doing whatever it could, sometimes very violently, to undermine American interests in the world, and that is the regime with which we are now approaching a very serious world crisis regarding the nuclear issue.

Now, had we not intervened in 1953 and crushed Iranian democracy, we might have had a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim Middle East all these 50 years. I can hardly wrap my mind around how different the Middle East might be now. This regime that's now in power in Iran would never have come to power, and the current nuclear crisis would never have emerged. This is a great example of how our intervention ultimately leads us to regimes much worse than the ones we originally set out to overthrow.

Now, how do you think that people in Iran react when Americans point a finger at them and say, “You’re a tyranny over there. You’re a brutal dictatorship. You should have a democracy. You should have a free regime”? Well, they say, “We had a democracy here, until you came in and overthrew it.” Now, the United States today has some very legitimate complaints against the Iranian government, but we have to understand that Iranians also have some very legitimate complaints against us, and that should be a recognition that would lead us into negotiations with them at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer, we’re going to have to leave it there for today, but next week, part two of this discussion on Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, looking at 14 coups of the last more than a century that the U.S. was involved with.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877



Monday, May 8th, 2006
Part II...Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq



Author Stephen Kinzer discusses his book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." In it, Kinzer writes that over 110 years, the United States has deployed its power to gain access to natural resources, stifle dissent and control the nationalism of newly independent states or political movements. [includes rush transcript]
We play Part II of our interview with former New York Times foreign correspondent, Steve Kinzer. Kinzer's new book is titled, "Overthrow: America"s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." In it, he examines how the United States has thwarted independence movements in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Nicaragua; staged covert actions and coups d'etat in Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam and Chile; and invaded Grenada, Panama and Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kinzer argues that over 110 years, the United States has deployed its power to gain access to natural resources, stifle dissent and control the nationalism of newly independent states or political movements. I interviewed Kinzer in Chicago last month. This is Part II of our conversation.

Stephen Kinzer, author of "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq." He is a former New York Times foreign correspondent and author of several books, including "All the Shah's Men" and "Bitter Fruit."

Click for Part I of Interview with Stephen Kinzer

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AMY GOODMAN: We turn to part two of our interview with the former New York Times foreign correspondent, Stephen Kinzer. Kinzer's new book is called Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. I interviewed Kinzer in Chicago a few weeks ago. We talked about a number of coups the U.S. was involved with, from Hawaii to Iran. We started in part two with Guatemala, a year after the U.S.-backed coup in Iran.

STEPHEN KINZER: The coup in Guatemala that the United States carried out in1954 was another one of those that not only cast a whole part of the world into instability, but led to the intensification of anti-American sentiment, not only in Guatemala, but throughout Latin America and beyond. Guatemala had become independent from Spain, with the rest of Central America, in the 1820s. Like most of the rest of Central America, it had been under a series of tyrants up until 1944. There was then a revolution. And for ten years, Guatemala was a functioning democracy.

In Guatemala, economic life was totally dominated by one American company: the United Fruit Company. It was a uniquely powerful company, had great ties in Washington. Many of the senior people in the Eisenhower administration were either stockholders or former board members or otherwise closely connected with United Fruit. Now, in Guatemala, not only was United Fruit producing most of that country's banana exports, but it also owned more than half a million acres of land, some of the richest land in the country, that it didn't use. It was just holding this land for some potential future use.

Now, President Arbenz, who was in power in Guatemala in the early 1950s, wanted to take that land and use it to divide up among starving Guatemalan peasants. And with a democratic vote of the elected Guatemalan congress, a land reform law was passed that required the United Fruit Company to sell its unused land to the Guatemalan government at the price that United Fruit had declared on its last year’s tax returns as the value of that land. Well, naturally the fruit company went crazy when they got this request and said, “Of course, nobody puts down the real value of the land on their tax returns, and really the price should be about ten times higher than that.” But the government said, “I'm sorry. This is the way you have, yourself, valued the land, and so we're insisting that you sell it to us at this price.”

Well, this is what set the United Fruit Company in operation in Washington. It persuaded the Eisenhower administration that the Arbenz government would not have been taking steps like this, would not have launched a land reform program, would not have tried to take land from the United Fruit Company, if it were not fundamentally anti-American. In addition, there was the overlay of the Cold War. So the United Fruit Company was able to persuade the U.S. government that not only was this government hostile to an American corporate interest in Guatemala, but it was undoubtedly a tool of the Kremlin which was, as Americans then thought, working all over the world to undermine American interests.

Now, during the run-up to the Guatemala coup, the Brazilian ambassador actually came in to see Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and asked him if he was sure, if he had proof that the Soviets were manipulating Guatemala, and Dulles very frankly answered, “We do not have that proof, but we are proceeding as if it must be so.” So the United States with relative ease overthrew the government of Guatemala.

AMY GOODMAN: And just for one minute, John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State, had represented United Fruit as a corporate lawyer.

STEPHEN KINZER: Dulles was a perfect example of the tremendous influence that United Fruit had in Washington. The Secretary of State was the former attorney for the United Fruit Company. So when the United Fruit Company was aggrieved, he felt aggrieved. And as a militant anti-communist, he also assumed that this was part of a communist conspiracy. We now know from documents that have been released in Moscow that the Soviets didn't even know Arbenz and Guatemala existed, had not the slightest interest in that situation.

Now, what was the aftermath of the Guatemalan coup? We imposed a dictatorship. Within a few years, that dictatorship provoked a rebellion. That led to a 30-year civil war, which was actually just a long series of massacres in which hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans were killed. It was such a horrific period, and I covered part of it as a correspondent, that had someone else been doing it in some other part of the world, we certainly would have denounced it as genocide.

Now, this leads to another pattern that I see in so many of these coups. The crucial moment comes right after we overthrow the government. Then we have to decide who's going to be the new guy. Who do we want to put in as the leader of this country? We want a person who fulfills two conditions: first of all, somebody who's popular, who can stay in power and is supported by his people; and secondly, someone who will do what we want. We didn't overthrow the government just to have someone we don't like in power. So, we quickly realize that you can't have both. You cannot have somebody who's popular and also somebody who will do the bidding of the United States. A popular leader will place the interests of his own country first, ahead of the interests of the United States. That's not why we intervene.

So, we choose the other route: we choose someone who is not popular but will do what we want. What does that mean? He has to rule with increasing repression, because people don't like him. The United States then has to support him, often militarily. That means the opposition to the dictator also becomes opposition to the United States. Resentment festers. Ultimately, there's an explosion, and we wind up with a regime far more tyrannical than the one we originally intervened to overthrow.

AMY GOODMAN: And the Guatemalan coup of 1954, the U.S. overthrowing the democratically elected President Arbenz, came one year after the U.S. overthrew Mossadeq in Iran.

STEPHEN KINZER: After Mossadeq was overthrown in Iran, the C.I.A. agent who carried out that coup, Kermit Roosevelt, actually the grandson of Teddy Roosevelt, who was an early American intervener, came back to the White House to brief President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles and other members of the foreign policy team. And Kermit Roosevelt later wrote about this episode. He said, “As I was carrying on my briefing, I looked over at John Foster Dulles, and he had a big smile on his face, and he seemed to be purring like a giant cat.” Now, Roosevelt did not know what Dulles was thinking, but I think I know what he was thinking. I believe he was thinking, “This is great! Now I'm listening to the news of how easy it was to overthrow the government in Iran. It means that we have a whole new tool now, a whole new way to overthrow governments.”

AMY GOODMAN: And with Iran, it was for British Petroleum?

STEPHEN KINZER: With Iran, the sin that Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq committed, that ultimately -- that originally set this intervention in motion was nationalizing the oil company. So, actually, these two situations were very similar. Mossadeq in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala were nationalist leaders, not responding to any Soviet influence, who, responding to their own people's legitimate demands, decided that the wealth from their own natural resources should go to benefit their own people, rather than the Americans, the British or outside powers.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's stay in Latin America, going from 1954 to 1973, to another September 11th. You have a rare picture of Henry Kissinger shaking hands with the man who overthrew the democratically elected leader: Pinochet. Can you talk about what happened in Chile?

STEPHEN KINZER: Chile is another one of those cases where we overthrew a leader who in many ways embraced and represented American principles, and we replaced him with a tyrant who despised everything the United States stands for. Allende was a democratically elected leader, and although he was a self-proclaimed Marxist, he had been within the Chilean democratic system all his life. He had been president of congress, and he had been a senator. He was fully integrated into the Chilean democracy and certainly would have left office at the end of his term, probably to be replaced by someone more conservative. But the United States couldn’t wait for that. It's a reflection of our impatience, our insistence that we get what we want not later, but now.

In Chile, just as in Guatemala, and just as in Iran, the great natural resource was controlled by foreign corporations. In Chile that resource was copper. And the two giant American corporations operating there were Kennecott and Anaconda. Allende moved to nationalize the Chilean holdings of those two companies. And those two companies, along with other companies like I.T.T. that were active in Chile panicked at this. They immediately went to the White House. One of the leading Chilean businessmen and the owner of the largest newspaper in Chile had a private audience with Henry Kissinger. Nixon was immediately set into motion. He became very upset about the prospect of Allende coming to power.

And this is another example of how the motivation morphs. If Allende had not bothered Kennecott, Anaconda and other American companies, or threatened to bother them, they never would have protested to the White House. But once they did protest, the White House embraced their cause and transformed it a little bit. The U.S. did not intervene in Chile directly, as it would have said, to protect American companies, but the fact that a government was bothering our companies led us to believe that that government must also be strategically and politically opposed to the United States. So that then became the motivation that pushed Nixon and Kissinger, who were not real defenders privately of American business, into action for what they perceived were a combination of economic and political reasons. But that intervention was carried out in a covert way, and it wasn't until years later that the very rich documentation came out to show how completely it was a made-in-Washington operation.

AMY GOODMAN: And that picture?

STEPHEN KINZER: The picture of Pinochet with Kissinger is wonderful. Shortly after the coup, about a year or two later, Secretary of State Kissinger arrived in Chile to address a meeting of the Organization of American States. In that speech, he had to make some pro forma references to human rights and the American interest in promoting human rights. But the day before he made the speech, he went to visit Pinochet privately. We now have the transcript of that meeting. And he essentially told Pinochet, “I'm going have to say some things about human rights tomorrow, but that doesn't apply to you. Don't take that seriously. We support you, and we're glad that you're here.” So, the public face of the U.S. policy toward Chile even then was very different from what we were directly telling Pinochet in private.

AMY GOODMAN: And speaking about Spanish-speaking countries, how about going back in time to Puerto Rico?

STEPHEN KINZER: Puerto Rico is another very interesting case, because Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. But during 1898, the new liberal regime in Spain offered Puerto Rico a tremendous amount of autonomy, which the Puerto Ricans greatly embraced. They were not rebelling against Spanish colonial rule the way the Cubans were. And they were offered an amount of autonomy that was greater than the British gave to Canada. They actually had an election. They produced a Puerto Rican domestic government, which was going to be able to have large control over the direction of Puerto Rican policy within the framework of Spanish rule. They had very visionary leader, Luis Munoz Rivera, who was to be the new prime minister of Puerto Rico.

His government lasted only about a week, when the U.S. invaded on the way to Cuba, more or less. The Spanish-American War was not aimed at Puerto Rico. It was never intended to bring Puerto Rico into the U.S., but Puerto Rico was just grabbed because it happened to be there, it was available, it was lovely, it was on some sea routes that the U.S. wanted to control. So the U.S. stepped in and essentially crushed the self-governing home-rule government of Puerto Rico. It placed Puerto Rico under military rule.

And very quickly, the first thing that happened in Puerto Rico over the next few years was that the small coffee farms were taken over and transformed into large sugar plantations. Coffee in Latin America is sometimes called the poor man's crop, because you can grow it on just a very small plot, but you can't grow sugar that way. So, essentially large numbers of Puerto Ricans were dispossessed to make way for four big American sugar companies, and Puerto Rico went from being a self-governing rising very confident new nation in 1898 to the status of a colony, and a greatly impoverished one, in the decades that followed.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happened in these ensuing years, for people to understand?

STEPHEN KINZER: In Puerto Rico, I think you can argue that in the long run things could have gone a lot worse. This was one intervention where the U.S., after a long period of time, decided to take responsibility for developments in the country. And that was for a very particular reason. It had a lot to do with the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Suddenly, the idea of the U.S. having a miserably poor colony in the Caribbean didn't look so good. It was a bad contrast to Cuba. So it wasn't until that period in the 1950s and 1960s that the U.S. began to try to develop Puerto Rico and pull it up from the underdevelopment into which we had cast it for the first half of the 20th century.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Stephen Kinzer. He is author of the book, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. Let's talk about Grenada and Panama. What happened, as we see Grenada, Panama, and then we move on to, well, today, Iraq?

STEPHEN KINZER: I place the American history regime change in three chronological groups. The first set of our overthrows of foreign governments came in the late 19th, early 20th century. That was the period when we could openly invade foreign countries. In the Cold War, we couldn’t do that anymore, because we were afraid there might be a counter-reaction from the Soviet Union. That's why we had to use the C.I.A. to overthrow governments covertly. But with the fading of the Soviet Union, we didn't have to do that anymore. We could go back to plan A, so to speak, which was invading governments.

Now, the Grenada situation started when a radical clique of ultra-militants within Grenada rose up and assassinated their own political leaders. A small group of a couple of hundred of American medical students were also on Grenada. Now, the U.S. could probably have evacuated those students quite easily. In fact, the new regime was eager to be rid of them, in order not to give a pretext to the United States.

But there was a larger global political context in which the Grenada operation happened. The United States was still recovering from the humiliation of the loss of Vietnam. And actually the very weekend before the Grenada invasion was launched was the weekend when the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon was blown up, with the loss of the lives of more than 200 Marines. The U.S. had been feeling very impotent in the world, and President Reagan had come to power with the promise that he would make America stand tall again. So the possibility of peacefully resolving the Grenada crisis, which is what some of the regional leaders wanted to do -- they wanted a blockade around Grenada, which has no natural resources, doesn’t even have water or gasoline or anything, so it would have been very susceptible to some kind of regional pressure. This did not appeal to the United States. Reagan and his aides immediately realized this as a chance for the U.S. to score a big military victory, something we hadn't had for many, many years.

Now, the whole population of Grenada can fit into the Rose Bowl. It’s a very, very small place. That's why, after the invasion, we had a spectacular opportunity at a very, very low price to transform Grenada into the garden spot of the Caribbean and show that something good could come after American interventions. The cost of that would have been so pitifully low -- it's 100,000 or 120,000 people -- but immediately, instead of doing that, we turned our back on Grenada, and we went on to the next project. But it did serve the purpose of the Reagan administration, which was to give America a victory, even though it was a victory over a pitifully small island, and to be able to show Marines doing something positive. That, I think, was the real reason we carried out that operation.

AMY GOODMAN: And Panama, the picture you have of President Bush, Sr., that is with Noriega, who’s now in a prison in the United States?

STEPHEN KINZER: We intervened and invaded Panama in order to overthrow General Noriega, but what I discovered upon working on my Panama chapter is that Noriega had been on the payroll of the C.I.A. for 30 years. He committed a number of sins. Part of it was his involvement in the drug trade, although the U.S. government and the C.I.A. had been completely aware of this for years. He was leading Panama out of the U.S. orbit. He was interfering with American plans to carry out the Contra war in Central America. You'll remember the Contadora process that was part of the peace process in Central America. Contadora is actually an island in Panama, so it was there that some of this peace process that undermined the Contra project took place.

In addition, Noriega could have been overthrown in a coup that Panamanians were carrying out just a few days before our invasion. And the Panamanian general who was carrying out this coup informed the U.S. -- he only asked the U.S. to block a couple of roads to prevent Noriega’s loyalists from coming into Panama. And that coup would have succeeded, but we didn't support it, and the American commander later explained why. He said that coup would have only overthrown Noriega. It would have left the very nationalist Panamanian defense force intact. We didn't only want to get rid of Noriega. We wanted to get rid of the entire military institution which had fallen away from American influence and become a reflection of some nationalist Panamanian aspirations. And that wasn’t a successful outcome of the Panamanian intervention.

AMY GOODMAN: We only have a minute left. But you end with, of course, Iraq today.

STEPHEN KINZER: When President Bush practiced the speech that day about two years ago, in which he announced the invasion of Iraq, he did it in a room in the White House called the Treaty Room. That was the very same room in which the Spanish document of surrender that gave the U.S. control over Cuba and Puerto Rico had been signed more than a hundred years earlier. And on the wall in that room is a picture of that episode, the signing of that treaty. That picture is dominated by the large figure of President William McKinley, so he was symbolically looking over Bush's shoulder when Bush was reading the speech announcing the invasion of Iraq. And no one would have understood better than President McKinley that Bush was not leading the U.S. into the regime change era. The U.S. had been in that era for more than a century.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Kinzer, author of Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. You can visit our website to hear or see part one of this interview.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877


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