For a change, the US will not support military coups

  • 4 Mar 2021

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced his country will change its policy of supporting military interventions in foreign countries, admitting that such incidents have fuelled chaos and caused thousands of killings around the world.

( Reuters )

After Joe Biden assumed charge of the American presidency, the US has attempted to make some policy changes in order to reposition itself as a power that no longer follows former President Donald Trump’s exclusionary 'America First' policy.

The US seeks to address the long-standing criticism over its interventionist role in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as fix its image as a prying global policeman.

During his first big speech since taking the new role, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington's interventions abroad have hurt American confidence, as well as its reputation, on the world stage. 

“We will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force,” Blinken said in his speech.

“We have tried these tactics in the past. However well-intentioned, they haven’t worked,” he added. 

Here's a quick look at what he called the "well-intentioned" interventions. 

The US foreign policy since World War II

American presidencies, as far back as World War II, are full of contradictions and complexities, each president reversing the foreign policy goals of their predecessors in an attempt to "lead the world.”

From the beginning of the post-Cold War era, the US emerged as a military and economic powerhouse with a greater role to play in "bringing peace to the world."

The phrases like "the end of history" and "the end of international competition" became talk of the town. 

But the reality turned out to be harsh: instead of bringing peace to the world, the US played a menacing, if not a sinister, role to maintain its world dominance. 

Free trade, promotion of democracy and preventative diplomacy became a euphemism for full-scale military aggression and for the support of undemocratic forces, non-state actors and even dangerous terror groups, which threatens some of its allies until today. 

Supporting terror groups

Throughout the 20th Century, the United States supported terror groups from Asia to Latin America, while carrying out and supporting military coups and assassinations in various countries in order to protect its interests in those regions.

The United States has been directly or indirectly supporting armed groups from Latin America to Asia throughout history, especially since the second half of the 20th century.

Using its agencies and assets, the United States has also conducted military coups and assassinations in many countries which it sees as a threat to US interests.

With the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the wheels, the US has carried out numerous operations, both openly and covertly, across the world with the goal of its national interests at the cost of those of other nations.

These operations were often carried out with the pretext that the US was fighting against what it saw as a Communist threat, but what resulted was the bloodshed that devastated the political structure of those countries. 

American involvement in other countries included giving military and financial aid to paramilitary groups, which then killed on behalf of the sponsoring state. 

The main focus of the US, by supporting terrorism, is to destabilise local governments that have not succumbed to American pressure. 

Generally, these terrorist groups were targeting left-leaning governments in a bid to undermine the Soviet expansion.

However, not only was it enough simply having ties with the Soviet Union but having different international policies was another reason for the US-led destabilisation in a targeted country.

Iranian coup 1953

The US accepted its executive role in the 1953 Iranian coup against democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in 2013, marking the sixtieth anniversary of the coup.

This photo shows a selection of the huge crowd which massed in Tehran's parliament square, on August 16, 1953, after Mosaddegh announced he had smashed a pro-Shah coup d'etat.(AP)

The National Security Archive at George Washington University published a series of some declassified CIA documents, how the US intelligence planned the coup with the British help.

"The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of the US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government" appeared in a copy of an internal history of the CIA, the Battle for Iran.

Overthrowing Mosaddeq led to the consolidation of power for the Shah regime until the 1979 Islamic revolution. 

Especially after the Mosaddeq nationalisation of the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, lately known as BP, the UK regarded the Iranian leader as a threat to its economic and strategic interests. British administration easily persuaded the White House to act together.

Piazza Fontana Bombing in 1969

On December 12, 1969, a terrorist attack occurred in Piazza Fontana in Milan. It led to the deaths of 17 people and 88 were wounded. A bomb exploded at the headquarters of the National Agrarian Bank. After that, three more bombs also exploded in Milan and Rome, and one was found unexploded. 

1969, file photo of the bomb explosion in Piazza Fontana in downtown Milan.(AP)

An American navy officer was accused by a Milanese judge on charges of political and military spying over the Piazza Fontana bombing.

In the year 2000, the parliamentary commission said that the US intelligence already had information about right-wing terrorist bombings, including that of the Piazza Fontana bombing in 1969, however, it did not inform Italian officials in order to prevent incidents.

With the aim of blaming those on the left, the operation was carried out by right-wing extremists - three of them were sentenced to life in prison in 2001.

According to the court, the bombers had received support from the US and Italian intelligence agencies who were afraid of Italy’s shift away from the influence of the West.

Judge Guido Salvini said: "The role of the Americans was ambiguous, halfway between knowing and not preventing and actually inducing people to commit atrocities." 

How the US used ex-Nazis for its fight against communism

Following WWII, the first chief of West Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, Bundesnachrichtendienst, which is the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) of modern-day Germany, was Reinhard Gehlen, who headed Hitler’s intelligence community and oversaw the Soviet front.

Former General Reinhard Gehlen is caught by camera April 7, 1972 as he leaves cementary in Munich, Germany after funeral of Col. Gen. Franz Halder, World War II Wehrmacht chief of staff. Gehlen, wartime chief of German Intelligence East, later headed "Gehlen Bureau," gathering intelligence on Soviets for American CIA.(AP)

A loyal servant to Hitler to the very end, Gehlen became a turncoat and collaborated with American forces as the war came to an end. In return, he was allowed to keep his Nazi intelligence network intact. The US used him as a tool against the Soviet Union and its communist allies.

Backed by the US, Gehlen soon founded "Gehlen Org" which gathered intelligence against the former Soviet Union and fed it to the CIA and the Pentagon. Gehlen Org also launched  the Operation Gladio, a secret “stay-behind” paramilitary network, which operated against the communists in numerous countries.

During the Cold War, the Gladio network worked outside the rule of law in the name of 'saving democracy' against the communist threat. Not much is known about what happened to these “stay-behind” networks after the Cold War.

Assassination of General René Schneider in Chile

On October 22, 1970, Chilean army commander General René Schneider was assassinated during a botched kidnapping operation by one of three groups supported by the CIA. 

Police experts look at the bullet-ridden car in which Chile's Army Commander in Chief Gen. Rene Schneider was shot early today. This photo was taken at the Military hospital(AP)

The main intention of the operation was to prevent the Chilean Marxist leader, Salvador Allende, from becoming president.

The CIA had also made a public statement on activities in Chile, itsaid: “CIA was working with three different groups of plotters.  All three groups made it clear that any coup would require the kidnapping of Army Commander Rene Schneider, who felt deeply that the Constitution required that the Army allow Allende to assume power.”

Despite the CIA's admission it supported these groups by providing weapons, the agency denied killing general Schneider or having any knowledge of it.

“The CIA provided tear gas, submachine-guns and ammunition to the second group. The third group attempted to kidnap Schneider, mortally wounding him in the attack” also stated by CIA.

The family of General Rene Schneider opened a lawsuit, later against the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger over his role in the assassination of Schneider. However, Kissinger always denied allegations.

Khmer Rouge

After the end of the US-Vietnam War and the Cambodian civil war in 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime took control of Cambodia turning it into a socialist country by using the policy of ultra-Maoism.

The regime were behind mass genocide between 1975-1979, killing some two million people, nearly 25 percent of the country.

Chief Khmer Rouge torturer, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, said: “Mr Richard Nixon and Kissinger allowed the Khmer Rouge to grasp golden opportunities,” at the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal in 2009.

Visitors view human skulls and bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime on display at Choeung Ek memorial on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.(AP)

In 1970, then Prince Norodom Sihanouk was ousted in a coup led by American-backed General Lon Nol, who cranked up the war against the Vietnamese and Cambodian communists. Sihanouk later formed an alliance with the Khmer Rouge and he urged Cambodians to join the fight against Lon Nol’s regime, which fell to Pol Pot’s army in 1975. 

“Prince Sihanouk called on the Cambodian people to go and join the communist Khmer Rouge in the jungle and that allowed the Khmer Rouge to build up their troops from 1970 to 1975,” he said. 

Without these events, Duch said: “I think the Khmer Rouge would have been demolished.”

Contra rebels in Nicaragua

The US provided military, logistical and financial support to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990. 

The Contra rebels organised more than 1300 terrorist attacks against the Sandinista National Liberation Front(FSNL) in Nicaragua. 

The US saw the leftist FSNL as undemocratic and totalitarian and tried to show the Contras as freedom fighters.

The Nicaraguan government appealed to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) against the US in 1984. The ICJ convicted the US for encouraging and playing a very large role in terrorist activities that caused violations of international human rights.

Despite the ICJ’s conviction of the US, America blocked the way to any compensation demanded by Nicaragua by using its veto power at the United Nations Security Council.

Toppling President Evo Morales in Bolivia

Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Evo Morales, won a fourth term in office in 2019.

However, he was faced with immediate resistance from opposition parties that sought to challenge the election results. Protesters took to the streets claiming the ballot was rigged.

After weeks of upheaval, Morales resigned under pressure from the military and moved to Mexico, where he was offered political asylum. He was then granted asylum in Argentina.

Meanwhile, conservative Senator Anez proclaimed herself the interim president and received the support of the Trump government.

However, Morales claimed the coup against him is backed by the US.

On the other hand, former US senator Mike Gravel’s established Gravel Institute, a think tank, has sarcastically criticised the CIA for the military coup in Bolivia, hinting US involvement in the downfall of elected president Evo Morales.

"Congratulations on winning power in Bolivia, @CIA!" Gravel Institute said on Twitter, in an apparent hit at the global spy agency. 

The Democratic former Senator for Alaska has long criticised the US policies in Latin America. 

US support for the YPG terror group

The YPG terror group was set up with a Marxist mentality that sees the state as an instrument of “oppression” and works towards eliminating it.

The US support to the YPG in Syria, an offshoot of the PKK terror group, has been a source of tension between Ankara and Washington since 2014 after the US sent military support to the YPG in Ayn al Arab. The escalating tensions between Turkey and the US reached a climax with Turkey’s operation in Afrin against the terrorists.

Turkey has long been calling on the US to cut its support of the YPG in Syria, reminding it that the PKK is a designated terrorist organisation, not only by Turkey but also by the US, as well the European Union.

The US has not responded to the calls, has kept up its support, and now the YPG terrorists control nearly a quarter of Syria. Most of these areas are home to a majority Arab population, which couldn't return back to its cities after the fighting ended. Turkey and global right groups have accused the YPG of ethnic cleansing.

On February 13, 2018, US Intelligence Community released its report on the Worldwide Threat Assessment, where they call the YPG Syrian branch of the PKK: "Kurdish People’s Protection Unit—the Syrian militia of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—probably will seek some form of autonomy but will face resistance from Russia, Iran, and Turkey."