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Posted: September 24, 2001

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American State Terrorism
A Critical Review of The Objectives of U.S. Foreign Policy in The Post-World War II Period

by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
    II.I The U.S. in Central America
    II.II U.S. Support of the Somozan Dictatorship
    II.III The Sandinista’s Revolution
    II.IV The Context of U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua
    II.V U.S. Backed Terrorism in Nicaragua
    III.VI Post-Terror Conditions of Nicaragua
    III.I Making Chile Scream
    III.II Invading Vietnam
IV. Post-Cold War Imperialism in Colombia
    IV.I Slaughter in the Name of Democracy
    IV.II Complicity of the State
    IV.III U.S./Western Complicity in State Terror
    IV.IV Brief History of the ‘War on Drugs’

“I believe we can have a foreign policy that is democratic, that is based on fundamental values, and that uses power and influence, which we have, for humane purposes… Our policy is based on an historical vision of America’s role. Our policy is derived from a larger view of global change. Our policy is rooted in our moral values, which never change. Our policy is reinforced by our material wealth and by our military power. Our policy is designed to serve mankind.”[1]

Contrary to this traditional perspective endorsed by then President of the United States Jimmy Carter, the aims of U.S. foreign policy - which has consistently dominated international relations in the post-war period - were essentially to attain and enforce a global system in which the Western powers under American leadership would maintain global dominance. This essentially meant being in control of the world’s resources at the expense of non-Western nations. This fundamental objective of foreign policy in the post-war period is candidly indicated by a notorious declassified top-secret report produced by the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff, headed at the time (February 1948) by George Kennan:

“We have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 per cent of its population... Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming… We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction... We should cease to talk about vague and... unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we will have to deal in straight power concepts.”[2]

Both American and British military interventions, often in terms of a joint effort, were accordingly undertaken in the attempt to establish and maintain this global “pattern of relationships”. These have been well documented by foreign policy analysts, and certain significant aspects of them can be clearly derived from British and American internal documents.[3] The well-known U.S. academic Professor Noam Chomsky at MIT is probably the leading critic of American foreign policy, and has discussed many of these military operations in detail. British historian Mark Curtis, former Research Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, has similarly documented the anti-humanitarian nature of British foreign policy, including brutal Anglo-American military operations in Iran, Kuwait, Egypt, Aden, Jordan, Chile and Oman, amongst others.[4]

In his study, The Ambiguities of Power, Mark Curtis – who is now with the UK-based charity Action Aid – concludes that:

“Mutual Anglo-American support in ordering the affairs of key nations and regions, often with violence, to their design has been a consistent feature of the era that followed the Second World War… Policy in, for example, Malaya, Kenya, British Guiana and Iran was geared towards organising Third World economies along guidelines in which British, and Western, interests would be paramount, and those of the often malnourished populations would be ignored or further undermined. Similarly, US interventions overseas - in Vietnam, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Chile, etcetera - were designed to counter threats to the Western practice of assigning the Third World to mere client status to Western business interests. British and US forces have acted as mercenary - and often extremely violent - mobs intended to restore ‘order’ in their domains and to preserve the existing privileges of elites within their own societies.[5]

U.S. foreign policy analyst Edward Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, in like manner observes:

“As to the record, the United States has given frequent and enthusiastic support to the overthrow of democracy in favor of ‘investor friendly’ regimes, including Marcos’s Philippines in 1972, Pinochet’s Chile in 1973, and that of the Brazilian generals in 1964; and it has often shifted policy from the support of friendly fascists like the Somozas in Nicaragua and Ubico in Guatemala to hostility and active subversion of successor reformist or radical democrats like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Arevalo and Arbenz in Guatemala.[6]

This category of profit-orientated policies has been a systematic feature of international relations since the colonial era of the 1500s into the 21st century’s age of globalisation.[7] Such policies are thus an inherent dimension of the centuries old structure of Western institutions. The internationally acclaimed American political analyst Michael Parenti[8] provides a particularly acute overview:

“Since World War II, the US government has given more than $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in more than eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of domestic anti-capitalist insurgency. Among the recipients have been some of the most notorious military autocracies in history, countries that have tortured, killed or otherwise maltreated large numbers of their citizens because of their dissenting political views… US leaders profess a dedication to democracy. Yet over the past five decades, democratically elected reformist governments… were overthrown by pro-capitalist militaries that were funded and aided by the US national security state.”[9]

But as the former CIA official John Stockwell indicates, many others include Angola, Guatemala, Brazil, Guyana, Chile, the Congo, Iran, Vietnam, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Equador, Uruguay, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, El Salvador and Korea.[10] As already indicated, the anti-humanitarian nature of these interventions is well documented.[11] Majid Tehranian for example, who is Professor of International Communication at the University of Hawaii and Director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, points out that:

“In their scholarship, William Appleton Williams, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Ramsey Clark, Ali Mazrui, and other critics of US foreign policies have provided an abundance of evidence to support the charges on the counter-democratic role of the United States in much of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.”[12]

Through this programme of Western consolidation, the Western powers under the lead of the United States have succeeded in institutionalising their hegemony in the form of a global politico-economic system, in which they and their multinational corporations are dominant over largely impoverished, unstable Third World countries, while being in control of the world’s resources.

Development economist and Director of Research of the California-based Institute for Economic Democracy (IED), Dr. J. W. Smith, has lucidly explained the essence of this rarely acknowledged global holocaust: “No society will tolerate it if they knew that they (as a country) were responsible for violently killing 12 to 15 million people since WW II and causing the death of hundreds of millions more as their economies were destroyed or those countries were denied the right to restructure to care for their people…

“Unknown as it is, and recognizing that this has been standard practice throughout colonialism, that is the record of the Western imperial centers of capital from 1945 to 1990... While mouthing peace, freedom, justice, rights, and majority rule, all over the world state-sponsored terrorists were overthrowing democratic governments, installing and protecting dictators, and preventing peace, freedom, justice, rights, and majority rule. Twelve to fifteen million mostly innocent people were slaughtered in that successful 45 year effort to suppress those breaks for economic freedom which were bursting out all over the world.


“... All [Western] intelligence agencies have been, and are still in, the business of destabilizing undeveloped countries to maintain their dependency and the flow of the world’s natural wealth to powerful nations’ industries at a low price and to provide markets for those industries at a high price, identical to those raiding parties who raided the countryside 800 to 1,000 years ago to destroy their capital, maintain their dependency, and force the countryside to sell their raw material to, and purchase the manufactured products from, the city. The defeated/impoverished former colonial world is the countryside for today’s wealthy imperial centers of capital. The military of today’s powerful nations are for the same purpose as those Middle Age raiding parties. Thus, with per capita natural wealth many times that of Europe, those defeated nations remain impoverished, as that wealth is continually siphoned to powerful imperial centers of capital.”[13]

This paper contains several case studies of U.S. foreign policy, all of which clarify that the fundamental values of policy-making do not concord with humanitarian concerns, but on the contrary systematically conflict with such concerns. Although the West has always publicly affirmed its benevolence, altruism, and passionate concern for human rights, an impartial analysis of the record reveals that this is essentially a dubious public front behind which other appropriate policies can be more vigorously pursued. While professing their interest in human values, the Western governments instead appear to be oriented towards subjugating the world for the self-interested benefit of their own elites, at any human cost. This predictably results in the oppression, impoverishment and devastation of the lives of non-Western populations. In simple terms, if the non-Western governments do not comply with Western orders, they must pay the price in blood. The United States, in other words, routinely sponsors terrorism to secure its strategic and economic interests. Such U.S. sponsored acts of terrorism are so frequent and brutal, that they far outweigh in scale even such horrifying atrocities as occurred on American soil on 11th September 2001.

II. Pursuing “Fundamental Values” in Nicaragua

II.I The U.S. in Central America

The US intervention in Nicaragua provides a powerful and fairly recent historical example of the nature of Western covert operations, in context with the general tenore of U.S. policy toward Central America. It therefore serves as a useful case study of the Western powers’ attempts to violently enforce their strategy for dominion. Central America has been a traditional target for U.S. dominion since 1820, from which other industrial powers from Europe are unequivocally excluded.[14] For example, between 1900 and the Second World War, the U.S. had 5,000 marines in Nicaragua for a total of 28 years, had invaded the Dominican Republic four times, had occupied Haiti for twelve years, had deposited troops into Cuba four times, into Panama six times, into Guatemala once, and into Honduras seven times.[15] In Guatemala alone, the governments supported by the U.S. had killed about 80,000 people by 1987, according to Amnesty International.[16]

In the ensuing analysis we shall be referring frequently to the disclosures of former CIA official John Stockwell. Stockwell was the highest-ranking CIA official ever to leave the CIA and go public. He ran a CIA intelligence-gathering post in Vietnam, was the task-force commander of the CIA’s secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he eventually resigned. As a a former U.S. Marine Corps major who was then promoted to the CIA’s Chief of Station and National Security Council coordinator – making him a 13 year CIA veteran - Stockwell is a leading authority on the CIA and the clandestine workings of U.S. foreign policy, whose revelations must therefore be taken very seriously indeed. Stockwell confirms that the millions of dollars invested by the United States in Central America were, in fact, siphoned to the rich rather than the general population of the countries involved, and consequently culminated in destabilising the region to a tremendous degree. For example, the CIA and the United States recruited, trained and funded the police units that were to become the death squads in El Salvador - and continued to support them when that became the case. Under the ‘Alliance for Progress’ in the early 1960s, the CIA developed the treasury police who, as John Stockwell relates, used to “haul people out at night... and run trucks over their heads”, and who “have killed something over 50,000 civilians in the last 5 years [by 1987]”, as reported by the Catholic Church. According to testimony before the U.S. Congress leaders of the treasury police were still on the CIA payroll as late as 1982.[17]

Another example of the results of the United States investment is also discussed by John Stockwell: the ‘public safety program’ which had operated throughout Central and Latin America for 26 years. This consisted of “teaching police units to break up popular subversion by interrogating people”, including “instruction in torture techniques”. According to Stockwell, Dan Metrione, “the famous exponent of these things”, “did 7 years in Brazil and 3 in Uruguay, teaching interrogation, teaching torture. He was supposed to be the master of the business, how to apply the right amount of pain, at just the right times, in order to get the response you want from the individual”. Stockwell remarks that this operation was so conspicuously brutal, that Amnesty International complained and published reports. This was followed by United Nations hearings and eventually - under international pressure - even a U.S. Congress investigation, to investigate the inaccurately titled ‘public safety program’.[18]

As for the purpose of such policies, this was summed up in an inviolable principle indicated by U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski: “[W]e have to demonstrate that we are still the decisive force in determining the political outcomes in Central America and that we will not permit others to intervene” - even if those “others” constitute the indigenous population.[19] This is a clear illustration of the blatantly anti-democratic philosophy of U.S. foreign policy.

II.II U.S. Support of the Somozan Dictatorship

The principle espoused by Brzezinski reveals the actual pretext for U.S. policy towards Nicaragua. The conditions under the U.S. client state under the Somozan dynasty of 1937-47 and then 1950-79 had been horrendous. The last of the U.S.-backed dictators of the Somozan dynasty, Anastasia Somoza Debayle, like his forefathers, pursued policies that perpetuated a huge economic disparity in the country, such that only a small minority prospered under his reign while the majority remained in poverty. In 1975, the poorest 20 percent of the population received 4 percent of the national income while the richest 20 percent received 55 percent.[20] The impoverished masses were subdued with the aid of the U.S.-funded National Guard. Education, proper nutrition, sanitation and other basic needs were privileges that pertained only to the wealthy minority.[21]

The results were therefore devastating for the majority of Nicaraguan people. Over half the population was illiterate; two thirds of children under five were malnourished; and nine out of ten rural homes had no safe drinking water. According to the United Nations, over 60 per cent of the population lived in critical poverty; two thirds were too poor to fulfill even their most elementary needs; one third lived in “extreme poverty”. Meanwhile, large landowners and U.S. agribusiness interests were enriched thanks to export crops, with the inevitably devastating implications for the majority of the population; 90 per cent of agricultural credit and 22 times more arable land than that used to grow basic food crops to feed the malnourished population, was taken up by export crops for the already wealthy elite.[22]

Nevertheless, like his predecessors Anastasia Somoza was a U.S. ally and his regime was one of the highest per capita recipients of U.S. aid in Latin America, including critical military aid. Historian Walter La Feber notes that “two months before Somoza fled” in July 1979, “the United States supported his request for a $66 million loan from the IMF”. It was not long after this that the U.S.“declared [that] the Guard [i.e. Somoza’s troops] had to be kept to ‘preserve order’”, even while “at that moment Somoza’s troops were dive-bombing slums, murdering unarmed people in the streets, and looting the cities, ...killing thousands of women and children.”[23] Some 40,000 civilians were slaughtered by Somoza’s National Guard before his regime collapsed despite U.S. efforts to keep him in power.[24]

II.III The Sandinista’s Revolution

The Sandinista Front toppled Somoza’s illegitimate government in the revolution of 1979. Four years after the collapse of his U.S.-supported regime in this popular movement, whose aim was primarily to implement a programme of socio-economic development accruing to the population, a 1983 report of the World Council of Churches recognised the new hope presented to the Nicaraguan people by the Sandinistan government:

“What we see is a government faced with tremendous problems, some seemingly insuperable, bent on a great experiment which, though precarious and incomplete at many points, provides hope to the poor sectors of society, improves the conditions of education, literacy and health, and for the first time offers the Nicaraguan people a modicum of justice for all rather than a society offering exclusively to the wealthy... and the powerful.”[25]

The Sandinstan government, in other words, whose members had toppled the U.S.-backed Somozan regime, from its inception attempted to democratically address the grievances of the population. Oxfam reported in its aptly titled 1985 report, The threat of a good example?:

“The cornerstone of the new development strategy, spelled out by the Sandinista Front some years before taking power, was to give priority to meeting the basic needs of the poor majority. This was to be achieved by involving people in implementing change at a local level, through their neighbourhood groups, peasant associations and other organisations; at a central level, representatives of these organisations were to cooperate closely with the government ministries.”

The conclusion of the report was that “in Oxfam’s experience of working in seventy-six developing countries, Nicaragua was to prove exceptional in the strength of that government commitment”.[26] Genevieve Howe who co-organised the Women’s Observer Mission to the Elections in Nicaragua in 1996 similarly details the social gains under the popular government:

“The Nicaraguan revolution had accomplished small miracles for the mass of poor citizens oppressed by 45 years of the Somoza family dictatorship. Literacy had increased from 25 percent to 80 percent. Free education and health care had become state priorities. Land reform had benefited thousands in the cities and countryside. Countless projects had been completed with the help of international donations, including construction of schools, hospitals, and clinics, establishment of drinking water supplies and waste water disposal, agricultural irrigation, and environmental protection.”[27]

The U.S. response to the 1979 revolution, when the country’s health and education budget rose rapidly, when an effective land reform was instituted, when the infant mortality rate had dropped dramatically, is revealing. Rather than praising the new government’s unprecedented successes and popular legitimacy, the country which calls itself the leader of democratic civilization had in fact discovered a new enemy. The U.S. accordingly adopted a brutal programme of terror designed to subvert the new government and re-install a Somoza-style regime.

II.IV The Context of U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua

The state of Nicaragua’s neighbours – e.g. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras - during the ensuing U.S. attempt to subvert the Nicaraguan government, clearly demonstrates the lack of humanitarian concern behind U.S. policy. Both the Guatemalan and El Salvadorian regimes were military dictatorships responsible for the sheer institutionalisation of state terror, installed and propped up by the United States. Tens of thousands of civilians were regularly slaughtered by government death squads trained and armed by the CIA. The vast majority of the populations were impoverished. U.S. academic Joachim Maitre of Boston University observes that the America had “installed democracies of the style of Hitler Germany” in both El Salvador and Guatemala.[28] Paul Ekins, a Research Fellow at the Department of Economics, Birkbeck College (University of London) aptly observes that “the absolutely justified U.S. condemnation of Soviet human rights abuses domestically and abroad came across to the international community as little more than ideological point-scoring, because the U.S. was simultaneously backing some of the most bloody regimes in Latin America, including Guatemala and El Salvador” throughout the 1980s.[29] Indeed, the liberal press in the U.S. awarded “Reagan & Co. good marks” for the policy, urging that further military aid be sent to “Latin-style facists… regardless of how many are murdered”, because “there are higher American priorities than Salvadoran human rights”.[30]

Nicaragua thus stood far above its neighbours in terms of its human rights record, its democracy, and its successful focus on egalitarian socio-economic reforms. Indeed, this appears to be the fundamental reason why the Nicaraguan government had to be targeted by the U.S. for subversion: It was not subservient to the requirements of United States investors, but was orientated toward the mobilisation of domestic resources for the benefit of the indigenous population. In contrast, U.S.-backed Guatemala and El Salvador, whose governments were “of the style of Hitler Germany”, were entirely open to the requirements of U.S. corporations; this is why the indigenous populations were so impoverished - resources were largely monopolised by North American investors.[31]

Indeed, to fully understand what exactly was implied by the United States’ installation and support of Latin American dictatorships, one may undertake at least a cursory inspection of some independent reports on these regimes. The following was noted, for instance, by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

“More people have died in El Salvador during the past year, largely as the result of government-condoned right-wing ‘death squad’ killings, than in all other nations of Latin America combined... The death toll... reached almost 10,000, with the vast majority of the victims falling prey to right-wing terrorism sanctioned by key government officials... [T]hese countless killings have gone unpunished and even uninvestigated as the government’s own military and police forces are almost always involved in them”.[32]

As a result approximately 35,000 refugees, mostly women and children, had been living on the Honduran border in conditions of poverty, starvation and disease, as reported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. These people were attempting to escape the regular raids of the Salvadorian army and the government’s paramilitaries, ORDEN. The latter would cross the border to attack the refugee camps, which had formed out of the population attempting to escape domestic state-terror.[33]

After visiting these border regions in January 1981 on a fact-finding mission, a U.S. congressional delegation submitted a report to Congress. The report provided extensive documentation of the U.S.-backed Salvadorian army’s systematic atrocities against its civilian population, noting that the refugees “describe what appears to be a systematic campaign conducted by the security forces of El Salvador to deny any rural base for guerrilla operations in the north…

“By terrorizing and depopulating villages in the region they have sought to isolate the guerrillas and create problems of logistics and food supply... The Salvadorean method of ‘drying up the ocean’ involves, according to those who have fled from its violence, a combination of murder, torture, rape, the burning of crops in order to create starvation conditions, and a program of general terrorism and harassment.”[34]

In the introduction to his collection of papers, Towards a New Cold War, U.S. academic Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT comments extensively on the congressional report:

“The report then presents some sample interviews in which refugees describe the bombing and burning of villages by the army, mass murder of fleeing civilians, shooting of defenseless peasants from helicopters, and extraordinary brutality (e.g.: mutilation; decapitation; ‘children around the age of 8 being raped, and then they would take their bayonets and make mincemeat of them’; ‘the army would cut people up and put soap and coffee in their stomachs as a mocking. They would slit the stomach of a pregnant woman and take the child out, as if they were taking eggs out of an iguana. That is what I saw’). With regard to the guerrillas, refugees report: ‘We don’t complain about them at all,’ ‘they haven’t done any of those kind of things,’ ‘it’s the military that is doing this. Only the military. The popular organization isn’t doing any of this.’ As for the military: ‘They were killing everybody. They were looking for people to kill - that’s what they were doing.’...  The report concludes that the security forces of El Salvador, ‘operating independent of responsible civilian control... are conducting a systematic campaign of terrorism against segments of their own population.’ In fact, the government is effectively under right-wing military control, the reformist officers having been driven out of the junta.”[35]

Unfortunately, the government was also in receipt of a U.S. “program of support for repression and massacre in El Salvador”, which included “domestic programs of militarization and alms for the wealthy.”[36]

The New York Times has further recorded the aftermath of the U.S. operation, noting that “Because the United States armed and financed the army whose brutality sent them into exile, few Salvadoreans were able to obtain the refugee status granted to Cubans, Vietnamese, Kuwaitis, and other nationalities at various times.” The conflict “lasted from 1979 until 1992”, during which “more than 70,000 people were killed in El Salvador, most of them by the American-backed army and the death squads it in turn supported”, thus forcing “many people here to flee to the United States” where they have often been denied asylum.[37]

The U.S.-backed junta in Guatemala faired similarly. According to the National Council of the Jesuit Order in Guatemala, “it is only necessary to open one’s eyes to realize that here we are ruled by a system of anti-Christian power which destroys life and persecutes those who fight for life... This anguishing situation is being maintained with a repression among the most severe in Guatemala’s recent history. A regime of unjust force is trying to prevent the working people from reclaiming their just rights.” The Council reported over three thousand killings in the first ten months of 1979 alone, by government-backed death squads acting “with total impunity. It is axiomatic that in Guatemala there are no political prisoners, only the dead and disappeared.”[38] Right-wing death squads backed by the U.S.-installed government were killing tens of thousands with impunity. Amnesty International (AI) reported that the systematic massacre of the population, as well as the “tortures and murders”, “are part of a deliberate and long-standing program of the Guatemalan Government” and that the “selection of targets for detention and murder, and the deployment of official forces for extra-legal operations can be pin-pointed to secret offices in an annex of Guatemala’s National Palace, under the direct control of the President of the Republic”. Subsequent AI reports detail the increase of violence since 1980.[39]

As this continued Guatemala’s grim socio-economic conditions degraded to appalling levels. British journalist Anthony Wild reported that:

“Migrant labour is at the core of Guatemala’s economic system. Four million rural poor, most of them Indians descended from Maya, scratch a bare existence from growing maize on plots that are shrinking by inheritance with each generation; with no jobs in their home villages, an estimated 1.5 million workers migrate for up to three months of the year, often taking wives and children with them... The appalling living and working conditions in which [the haciendas] keep them are the foundation on which the fabulous fortunes of Guatemala’s elite are built.”[40]

The government in Guatemala responsible for this state of affairs had been violently established by America with British support by overthrowing the reformist Arbenz government in 1954. The operation occurred under the false pretext of saving the Guatemalan people from Soviet/Communist aggression.[41] Once the Arbenz administration was removed, the new U.S. installed regime continued to receive U.S. support and investment. Contrary to the prevailing myth that in toppling Arbenz the United States was fighting against an illegitimate Communist dictatorship, the real reason for the intervention was that Arbenz’s policies were based on agrarian reform, designed therefore to redistribute hundreds of thousands of acres to previously landless Guatemalan peasants. This led to conflict between the interests of U.S. corporate investors and the Guatemalan people. The United Fruit Company was the largest landowner, concentrating on the production of bananas for export to the detriment of the production staple foods for the consequently malnourished population. Arbenz’s policies echoed the programme of the Arevalo government before him, a programme that a 1949 CIA assessment referred to as “distinctly unfriendly to U.S. business interests”; the U.S. State Department similarly recognised that such policies constituted a threat to Guatemala as “a place for capital investment”.[42]

Other internal documents disclose U.S. intentions with clarity. In 1952, for instance, U.S. intelligence noted the rise of “militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies identified with the Guatemalan revolution of 1944”, which resulted in 10 years of democracy before the U.S. intervened to secure its own interests in the region. “The radical and nationalistic policies” pursued by the democratic government included “the persecution of foreign economic interests, especially the United Fruit Company”, and had won “the support or acquiescence of almost all Guatemalans.” The government had generated “mass support for the present regime”, proceeding “to mobilize the hitherto politically inert peasantry” via agrarian reform and labour organization, undermining the hegemony of large foreign landowners. “Guatemalan official propaganda, with its emphasis on conflict between democracy and dictatorship and between national independence and ‘economic imperialism’, is a disturbing factor in the Caribbean area”, the U.S. concluded.[43]

In other documents, the U.S. admitted that the democratic revolution of 1944 had contributed to “a strong national movement to free Guatemala from the military dictatorship, social backwardness, and ‘economic colonialism’, which had been the pattern of the past”. The “social and economic programs of the elected government met the aspirations” of the impoverished, and “inspired the loyalty and conformed to the self-interest of most political conscious Guatemalans.” Hence, “neither the landholders nor the [United] Fruit Company can expect any sympathy in Guatemalan public opinion.”[44] Furthermore, the government’s “agrarian reform is a powerful propaganda weapon; its broad social program of aiding the workers and peasants in a victorious struggle against the upper classes and large foreign enterprises has a strong appeal to the populations of Central American neighbours where similar conditions prevail.”[45] As far as America was concerned, then, democracy and social justice were the principal problems. These dire threats to U.S. hegemony in the region had to be violently eliminated. Referring to the decades of bloodshed consequently imposed by U.S.-sponsored terrorists on the Guatemalan population, the chair of the UN Historical Clarification Commission, Law Professor Christian Tomuschat, stressed when presenting the UN report on the crisis that the U.S. government and private companies “exercised pressure to maintain the country’s archaic and unjust socioeconomic structure.”[46]

This hegemonic imperative was consistently carried out throughout the region, for example, in Cuba, which was once again targeted for the familiar reasons. Historian Arthur Schlesinger, writing “as one involved in the Kennedy administration’s Cuban policy”, reported to President Kennedy on the conclusions of a 1961 Latin American Mission. He characterised Cuba’s threat to the United States as “the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands” – a serious problem due to the fact that “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes” throughout Latin America, a situation favourable to U.S. interests. He highlighted the fundamental threat of the fact that “the poor and under-privileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” As for the linkage with the threat of international Communism emanating from the Soviet Union, Schlesinger revealed that “Meanwhile, the Soviet Union hovers in the wings, flourishing large development loans and presenting itself as the model for achieving modernization in a single generation.”[47]

Nicaragua in the 1980s can therefore be seen to have stood out in only two fundamental ways from its neighbours such as El Salvador and Guatemala. Firstly, the Sandinistan government did not slaughter its population. Secondly, the Sandinistan government had successfully generated serious efforts to mobilise resources for radical social reform in the interests of the general population, particularly the poor. In contrast, tpproximately half the populations of the U.S.-backed regimes of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador were impoverished, if not starving to death. In particular, the U.S. client regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala regularly massacred their own populations, slaughtering over 100,000 civilians during the 1980s and into the beginning of 1990s. Yet the U.S. continued to sponsor such terrorism, propping up the dictatorships responsible for such violence while actively helping them carry it out, choosing only to militarily subvert the vastly more democratic and egalitarian Nicaraguan government of the Sandinistas.

The judicial wing of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (or World Court) prohibited the American military operation to topple the Sandinistan administration in 1986, calling on the United States to pay substantial reparations. Condemning the “unlawful use of force” against Nicaragua, the Court further ruled that aid to the forces attacking Nicaragua was not humanitarian, but military. The U.S. reacted by dismissing the ruling and escalating the violence. A UN Security Council resolution that subsequently called on all states to observe international law was vetoed by the U.S. The U.S. went on to vote against similar UN General Assembly resolutions in virtual isolation. U.S. Secretary of State of the time, George Shultz, scoffed at those who called for “utopian, legalistic means like outside mediation, the United Nations, and the World Court, while ignoring the power element of the equation.”[48] His view was echoed by Abraham Sofaer, the U.S. Department of State legal adviser, who declared that the majority cannot “be counted on the share our view”, because the “majority often opposes the United States on important international questions.” We must “reserve to ourselves the power to determine” which international questions fall “within the domestic jurisdiction of the United States, as determined by the United States.”[49]

From all this the following correlation can thus be clearly discerned: The U.S. is willing to support dictatorship, state terror and mass impoverishment when these are conducive to opportunities for investment and access to regional raw materials. However, the absence of dictatorship, terror, and so on generally also involves the appearance of independent development and egalitarian socio-economic growth. As was clarified by Head of U.S. Policy Planning Staff George Kennan in 1948, independence has to be eliminated to permit unimpeded access to regional resources, and to ensure that the overall system of order under U.S. hegemony remains stable. Within this world system, the US remains unaccountable and free to operate at will outside the framework of international law.[50]

II.V U.S. Backed Terrorism in Nicaragua

Describing the U.S. military operation to oust the Sandinistas, former CIA official John Stockwell relates that on 16 November 1981, President Reagan allocated $19 million to develop an army out of ex-Somoza national guards - the ‘contras’ - who would serve U.S. ends. These were the very same “monsters who were doing the torture and terror in Nicaragua” under the Somozan regime with U.S.-support, “that made the Nicaraguan people rise up and throw out the dictator, and throw out the guard” in the 1979 revolution.[51] Stockwell affirms that this is in accord with traditional policies: When the Western powers do not like a government, he observes, they input resources into manufacturing the collapse of the social and economic fabric of the country, as a technique for putting pressure on the government to conform to Western requirements. Otherwise, the West ensures that the government collapses altogether via the engineering of a coup d’etat, so that more appropriate ‘friendly hands’ may retrieve power. It is important to note, therefore, that the contra force of Somoza’s ex-national guardsmen was created entirely under U.S. tutelage and funding. Prior to the U.S. allocation of money, training, arms, leadership, and supplies, it did not exist - it therefore had no connection to the wishes of the Nicaraguan people.[52]

In May 1988, a Defense Department official explained America’s basic objective in creating the contras: “Those 2,000 hard-core guys [maintained by the US within Nicaragua] could keep some pressure on the Nicaraguan government, force them to use their economic resources for the military, and prevent them from solving their economic problems”. Ex-CIA analyst David MacMichael similarly testified to the World Court that the U.S. was using the contras to “provoke cross-border attacks by Nicaraguan forces and thus serve to demonstrate Nicaragua’s aggressive nature”, as well as to pressurise the popular government to “clamp down on civil liberties within Nicaragua itself, arresting its opposition, demonstrating its allegedly inherent totalitarian nature, and thus increase domestic dissent within the country.”[53]

As for the implications of such policies for the non-Western victim, Stockwell elaborates:

“What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market, where children can’t go to school, where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside their homes, where government administration and programs grind to a complete halt, where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people, where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt. If you ask the State Department today what is their official explanation of the purpose of the contras, they say it’s to attack economic targets, meaning, break up the economy of the country. Of course, they’re attacking a lot more”. 

The U.S. thus utilised its proxy army to engage in a programme of “killing, and killing, and terrorizing people”, the aim being to reinforce US hegemony. Under US direction, the contras systematically blew up “graineries, sawmills, bridges, government offices, schools, health centers. They ambush trucks so the produce can’t get to market. They raid farms and villages. The farmer has to carry a gun while he tries to plough, if he can plough at all.”[54]

The former CIA official adds that the contras also systematically assassinated religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials and government administrators. He also provides graphic examples of such U.S. sponsored acts of terrorism:

“They go into villages, they haul out families. With the children forced to watch they castrate the father, they peel the skin off his face, they put a grenade in his mouth and pull the pin. With the children forced to watch they gang rape the mother, and slash her breasts off. And sometimes for variety, they make the parents watch while they do these things to the children... This is nobody’s propaganda. There have been over 100,000 American witnesses for peace who have gone down there and they have filmed and photographed and witnessed these atrocities immediately after they’ve happened, and documented 13,000 people killed this way, mostly women and children. These are the activities done by these contras. The contras are the people President Reagan calls ‘freedom fighters’. He says they’re the moral equivalent of our founding fathers. And the whole world gasps at this confession of his family traditions.”[55]

The U.S. also employed propaganda techniques to discredit the Sandinistan government. President Jimmy Carter authorised the CIA to launch a powerful propaganda campaign to defame Nicaragua’s leaders - the image to be generated was one of totalitarian Marxism. This involved not only attacking them in the press, but also funding a newspaper within Nicaragua itself - La Prensa - which went on to play its crucial role as a U.S. propaganda arm.[56] In pursuing this campaign, the U.S. also accused the Nicaraguan government of “building a war machine that threatened the stability of the whole of Central America.” The facts were actually quite the contrary. Stockwell points out that “US Navy ships were supervising the mining of harbors and US planes were sent in to bomb the Nicaraguan capital, as well as to fly over the country, photographing it” for the purpose of “aerial reconnaissance.” In contrast to the enormity of U.S. firepower, Nicaragua was devoid of missiles or jets with which to defend its sovereignty. The U.S. nevertheless put forth the basically ridiculous charge that the force which was eventually built up by Nicaragua was aggressive in intent, threatening the stability of the entirety of Central America. Yet as Stockwell points out, prior to the anti-Sandinistan U.S. operation this military force did not exist in Nicaragua - it was only established as a direct response to U.S. intervention, to defend itself from the combination of U.S. bombing and the mass atrocities perpetrated by U.S.-backed contras. To buttress its propaganda, the U.S. also declared that arms were flowing from Nicaragua to El Salvador. But as Stockwell stresses, in five years of this alleged activity there was simply no evidence of any arms flowing from Nicaragua into El Salvador; hence, no genuine evidence was ever cited to support America’s assertions.[57]

Nicaragua was thus eventually forced to obtain arms from Russia to defend itself from the U.S. operation. The U.S. was consequently empowered to contend that its justification for attacking Nicaragua was the Soviet Union’s investment of $500 million in arms to convert Nicaragua into its client state - “the Soviet bastion in this hemisphere”. Russia was, however, only invited into Nicaragua, once again, in response to the U.S. attack against the country. For example, Newsweek reported in September 1981 that neither the White House nor the CIA even pretended that the contras had a genuine chance of winning. Newsweek therefore concluded that the purpose of the U.S. creation of the contras was as follows: By attacking the country with this proxy force, one will eventually force the Sandinistas into a more radical position. One can then cite this more radical position as justification to attack them on a much larger scale, ignoring the factors of US aggression that forced them to adopt this position.

Nicaragua was, in other words, compelled as a matter of sheer self-defence to acquire Soviet military aid in order to protect itself from U.S. aggression. Once this aid was acquired, the U.S. was in a convenient position to highlight the fact and misconstrue its implications. In Stockwell’s words: “They’ve had to get Soviet aid to defend themselves from the attack from the world’s richest country, and now we can stand up to the American people and say, ‘See? they have all the Soviet aid’.”[58] In this way, the U.S. attempted to justify its intervention by claiming that Nicaragua was the Soviet Union’s foothold into America - a notion which was contrary to fact. Foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky comments:

“The people who are committed to these dangerous heresies, such as using their resources for their own purposes or believing that the government is committed to the welfare of its own people, may not be Soviet clients to begin with and, in fact, quite regularly are not. In Latin America they are often members, to begin with, of Bible study groups that become self-help groups, of church organizations, and so on and so forth. But by the time we [via American/Western aggression] get through with them, they will be Soviet clients. The reason they will be Soviet clients by the time we get through with them is that they will have nowhere else to turn for any minimal form of protection against the terror and the violence that we regularly unleash against them if they undertake programs of the kind described.”[59]

Another crucial aspect of the U.S. propaganda campaign was the discrediting of the 1984 elections that had brought the Sandinistas to power. Stockwell notes: “International observer teams said these were the fairest elections they have witnessed in Central America in many years.”[60] Contrary to yet further U.S. deception, the Sandinistas won a much higher percentage of the vote in their elections than even President Reagan.[61] The U.S., however, continued to insist that Nicaragua under the Sandinistas was a totalitarian state. According to the U.S. the elections held in El Salvador were an ideal model of democracy to be emulated elsewhere in the world - perhaps highlighting the kind of a world genuinely envisaged by this superpower. The horrifying reality of the situation in U.S.-backed El Salvador, as well as other regional countries, has already been indicated. In terms of supporting democracy in El Salvador, Stockwell reports that the CIA had invested $2.2 million there to ensure that the U.S. choice of candidates - the dictator Duarte - would win power.[62] As noted above, even Joachim Maitre, a leading academic supporter of U.S. policies towards Central America, admits that the ‘democracies’ installed and supported by the US in the region were “of the style of Hitler Germany”.[63]

The next elections in Nicaragua occurred in 1990. Conventional wisdom has it that the Sandinistas only agreed to free and fair 1990 elections under pressure from the U.S.-backed contras. The facts, as illustrated above, are entirely different. A Boston Globe Editorial reported that Washington was sending “an implicit message... to the Nicaraguan people: If you want a secure peace, vote for the opposition.” In other words, if you wish to stop being slaughtered by the thousand, raped, mutilated, and economically strangulated, “vote for the [U.S.-backed] opposition” (the UNO).[64] Thus, a Canadian observer mission sponsored by unions, development agencies, human rights organisations and academic groups, concluded after a four-week enquiry into election preparations that the U.S. “is doing everything it can to disrupt the elections set for next year... American intervention is the main obstacle to the attainment of free and fair elections in Nicaragua”. As for the contras who constituted the key components of the American intervention, they were attempting to sabotage elections by “waging a campaign of intimidation with the clear message, ‘if you support the [Sandinista government] we will be back to kill you’.”[65]

The U.S.-backed opposition therefore won the elections. This victory clearly constituted nothing other than the triumph of terror over the wishes of the people. The independent Central America Report, while noting that Nicaragua alone lived up to the August 1987 Central American Accords (unlike the U.S. and its contra-puppets), reported: “Most analysts agree that the UNO victory marks the consummation of the U.S. government’s military, economic and political efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas.” “U.S. President George Bush emerged as a clear victor in the Nicaraguan elections. The decade-long Reagan/Bush war against Nicaragua employed a myriad of methods - both covert and overt - aimed at overthrowing the Sandinistas. Bush’s continuation of the two-pronged Reagan policy of economic strangulation and military aggression finally reaped tangible results.” The report added:

“While many observers today are remarking that never before has a leftist revolutionary regime handed over power in elections, the opposite is also true. Never has a popular leftist government in Latin America been allowed to undertake its reforms without being cut short by a coup, an invasion or an assassination.”[66]

II.VI Post-Terror Conditions of Nicaragua

Now that the West’s “invisible government” of the World Bank and IMF[67] tightly control Nicaragua’s government policies through restrictions tied to loans, Nicaragua has once more plunged into deepening poverty. According to the video Deadly Embrace produced by Compas de La Primavera for the Nicaragua Network Education Fund, structural adjustment under IMF demands operates “not part as an economic recovery programme but [is] meant only to create a cheap labour force, cheap raw materials and a Nicaraguan market for transnational corporations.”[68] While U.S. and Western corporations have thus been able to profit enormously from their plundering of Nicaragua’s resources, the majority of the country’s population have sunk inextricably deeper and deeper into a cycle of impoverishment and social chaos. Nicaragua was ranked 85th on the UN’s human development index in 1991 - a measure that incorporates life expectancy, average education level, and average per capita income - plummeting to 117th by 1995. By 1997, 80 per cent of the population were living in poverty, half of those in abject poverty.[69] Genevieve Howe further reports:

“Armed groups continue to harass people in rural areas, usually in a sort of highway bandit approach to survival, but also with periodic political assassinations. Innocent civilians continue to be attacked and/or robbed… Excessive levels of unemployment and poverty have contributed to higher levels of crime in the cities and an alarming increase in drug use and suicides. National Police statistics reported 6.3 crimes per hour and 2 suicides every 3 days in 1996. The police reported 33 suicides in the first 48 days of 1997. There were a total of 206 suicides in 1996, up from 132 in 1995. Most of the victims are men under the age of 30. Meanwhile, women and children bear the brunt of structural adjustment policies. Domestic violence and sexual crimes against both women and children have also increased markedly.”[70]

This, indeed, is the U.S. “victory” in Nicaragua. John Stockwell has summed up the grim implications aptly:

“We can’t take care of the poor, we can’t take care of the old, but we can spend millions, hundreds of millions of dollars to destabilize Nicaragua... Why arms instead of schools? ... [Because they] can make gigantic profits off the nuclear arms race because of the hysteria, and the paranoia, and the secrecy. And that’s why they’re committed to building more and more and more weapons, because they’re committed to making a profit. And that’s what the propaganda, and that’s what the hysteria is all about.”[71]

III. A Systematic Policy of Domination

The policy perpetrated in Nicaragua was not unique, but indeed, undertaken systematically by the United States and other Western powers throughout the world. Central and Latin America in particular was to be integrated into U.S. hegemony without exceptions. A brief inspection of other such instances of this policy provides us with a comprehension of the degree to which this policy was not accidental, but consistently oriented toward securing hegemonic dominion over territories for strategic and economic reasons.

III.I Making Chile Scream

Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official John Stockwell has discussed the unpublicised ramifications of CIA intervention in Chile, in his study The Praetorian Guard: The U.S. in the New International Security State. “Twice in the 1960s, the CIA spent large sums of money to influence the outcome of elections in Chile and to install a president of the United States’ choosing. Eventually it failed and democracy prevailed in the election of President Salvador Allende Gossens.”[72] President Allende introduced numerous programmes of social reform, mobilising domestic resources for the benefit of the Chilean population at large. One can therefore understand the reasons behind the subsequent U.S. destabilisation of Allende’s popular, democratically elected government, considering the egalitarian policies that this government implemented. Allende’s government pursued a welfare state model of economic development in accord with its socialist priorities, therefore falling directly under the intolerable category of a government that takes responsibility for the welfare of its own people. Allende’s reforms included improvements in health care, education, housing facilities and the raising of wages: Thus, resources would be mobilised for the benefit of the impoverished population.[73] Furthermore, in accord with these reforms, the new Chilean government had nationalised U.S. copper companies, resulting in the deduction of “excess profits” that had been earned in previous years from the compensation.[74] Aides to Secretary of State Kissinger were therefore aware that “Allende was a living example of democratic social reform in Latin America”. Kissinger himself noted in this light that the “contagious example” of Chile would “infect” Latin America, as well as southern Europe - unless something was done to eradicate it.[75]

Traditional Western goals therefore led the CIA - under the direction of President Nixon - to organise “the famous Track I and Track II destabilization of Chile in order to oust Allende.” Stockwell relates that the CIA Deputy Director for Operations at the time, Richard Helms (who later became CIA Director), lied in his testimony before the congressional Oversight Committee. He was later indicted for lying to Congress about the U.S. operation in Chile, though he managed to “plea-bargain a suspended sentence and a fine, which the association of CIA exes paid for him. Finally, he offered a copy of the notes he had made in the National Security Council meeting in the White House where he was ordered to mount the Chilean operation. He had jotted down the following instructions: ‘Make the Chilean economy scream’.”[76]

The CIA henceforth mounted its highly successful operation to oust the democratically elected president of Chile. The clandestine organisation’s task was made easier due to the help of both the U.S. military - which had infiltrated the Chilean military through the American-sponsored international military fraternity - and of certain multinational corporations. The extent of this Western contempt for Third World democracy was further highlighted by the fact that, as Stockwell relates:

“At one point prior to the coup, General Rene Schneider, the pro-U.S. head of the Chilean military, was an obstacle because he was stubbornly supporting democracy and the constitutional process. So they killed him too and installed the monster Pinochet in power. About 30,000 people were killed by Pinochet, whose secret police were so violent that they even engineered bombings [in Washington DC].”

A remark at the time by then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when grilled by Congress about the Chilean operation, therefore clarifies the reality of America’s concerns for the political participation of the Chilean people in their own affairs: “Yes, the issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”[77] Evidently, these “issues” spoken of by Kissinger amount only to the West’s desire to monopolise the wealth and resources of the world, and are directly opposed to genuine democratistion.

Hence, the “contagious example” of Allende’s administration in Chile had to be eliminated to make way for the installment of a more subservient regime under the reign of Pinochet. It is a fact that even though Latin America has had a long experience of dictatorship and military brutality, the violent intensity of the subsequent U.S.-backed coup and the deliberate use of torture, ‘disappearances’ and murder had at that time no parallel in the history of the continent. As democracy was swept away at the hands of America’s puppet-tyrant Pinochet, 11,000 people were killed in the first three months alone, with 2,400 ‘disappearing’ in the next three years. Thus, the new Western-backed Pinochet regime institutionalised what the Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR) describes as a “policy of permanent terror”.[78] Meanwhile, economic reforms along free market capitalist guidelines that were open to foreign investment under the instruction of Western institutions (e.g. the IMF, the World Bank) resulted in the predictable impoverishment of the Chilean masses, and the further enrichment of the already wealthy elite.[79] Under Allende’s government, the majority of the population had maintained a reasonable standard of living. In contrast, the violent installment of Pinochet heralded the dismantling of industry, the devaluation of currency and the impoverishment of the majority. The eventual result was that 40 per cent of Chileans were so poor, with calorie consumption at such a low level, that most of them were suffering from hunger and malnutrition.[80]

The new military dictatorship received $350 million in US bilateral aid three years after the coup. The U.S. Administration voted for over $400 million in loans to Chile from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in 1984,[81] while a little earlier in 1982, the British Trade Minister had decided that Chile constituted a “moderating and stabilising force in Latin America”, affirming that Britain was “interested in deepening and strengthening political relations”.[82] This was despite the fact that since 1982, the U.S.-backed Chilean government had implemented numerous techniques of repression to resist and clamp down upon mounting protests. These techniques included individual detention, internal exile, mass arrests in poor districts, murder and torture. The escalating numbers of people who fell under the devastating impact of such policies constituted a firm base of popular opposition to the government, clearly manifesting its political bankruptcy.[83] Coinciding with the business opportunities, Western elites managed to amass further profits via arms sales to Chile.[84] Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois, Robert W. McChesney, reports that: “After fifteen years of often brutal and savage dictatorship - all in the name of the democratic free market - formal democracy was restored in 1989 with a constitution that made it vastly more difficult, if not impossible, for the citizenry to challenge the business-military domination of Chilean society” instituted by the West in 1973.[85] Continued Western indifference to the cause of justice is evident today, in light of Britain’s tremendous reluctance to convict Pinochet for his massive crimes against humanity, crimes whose immensity can be gauged from British MP Jeremy Corbyn’s estimate that Pinochet was responsible for 50,000 civilian deaths in total since having overthrown the democratically elected Allende government.[86] The same policy of aversion to justice has been followed by the United States. Joe Stork, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, comments that “embarrassment over revelation of U.S. complicity with Pinochet’s reign of terror is the motivation” for this aversion.[87]

Newly released files declassified by the State Department on 30th June 1999 - making public over 5,000 documents relating to U.S. policy on Chile in response to the demands of members of Congress and the recent Spanish prosecutors of Pinochet - provide detailed confirmation of the anti-humanitarian nature of the intervention. In a special report on the documents by the American political journal, The Progressive, investigative journalist Lucy Komisar observes:

“For the Spaniards, the documents provide detailed proof that Pinochet controlled DINA, the Chilean Directorate of Intelligence, which was responsible for the most egregious human rights violations in the three years following the coup. For US citizens, they are a fascinating and sometimes surreal window onto a US policy fraught with arrogance and, for the most part, unconcerned about the wholesale human rights abuses Pinochet was carrying out. His regime detained 40,000 people, tortured large numbers of them, exiled 9,000, and murdered 4,000. The papers, redacted and incomplete, cover 1973-1978. They show that Washington had knowledge of Pinochet’s coup plans, his barbarism upon seizing power, and the establishment of his international terrorist network. They also show that the US government, at the highest levels, covered up for Pinochet, lied to the American public, and did everything in its power to support the junta. These documents are crucial in setting the historical record straight.”[88]

Utilising the documents, Komisar elsewhere reports the extent to which the U.S. went to seal the American-Chilean alliance: “Kissinger tried to shield the Chilean general from criticism and assure him that his human rights violations were not a serious problem as far as the U.S. government was concerned.” One internal State Department memorandum for example details a meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Chilean dictator himself on 8 June 1976:

“The memo describes how Secretary of State Kissinger stroked and bolstered Pinochet, how - with hundreds of political prisoners still being jailed and tortured - Kissinger told Pinochet that the Ford Administration would not hold those human rights violations against him. At a time when Pinochet was the target of international censure for state-sponsored torture, disappearances, and murders, Kissinger assured him that he was a victim of communist propaganda and urged him not to pay too much attention to American critics… Kissinger was dogged by charges he had promoted the military coup against an elected Allende government, and he sought to maintain a cool public distance from Pinochet. But at his confidential meeting, he promised warm support… Then he made clear that the US government was squarely behind Pinochet. ‘In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here,’ Kissinger told Pinochet… Kissinger dismissed American human rights campaigns against Chile’s government as ‘domestic problems’. And he assured Pinochet that he was against sanctions such as those proposed by Senator Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, which would ban arms sales and transfers to governments that were gross human rights violators… As if Pinochet could have had any doubt, Kissinger said, ‘We welcomed the overthrow of the Communist-inclined government here.’ By overthrowing Allende, you have done a great service to the West, Kissinger told him.”[89]

It is interventions such as these that the U.S. euphemistically referred to as self-defence against Communist aggression; in reality, they evidently consisted of the terrorisation of non-Western populations for the purpose of subjugating them to Western dominance and retaining Western control over their resources. To maintain this terrorisation and subjugation of non-Western populations, Western-friendly puppet regimes were installed to institutionalise hegemony. This is what is clearly implied by the following internal U.S. document:

“It is important to maintain in friendly hands areas which contain or protect sources of metals, oil and other national resources, which contain strategic objectives, or areas strategically located, which contain a substantial industrial potential, which possesses manpower and organised military forces in important quantities.”[90]

In accord with this scheme, it is often necessary to quell independent economic growth even in lands which appear relatively insignificant to Western interests, since if real socio-economic progress can take place in very poor and resource-empty areas, it will serve as a “contagious example” which may “infect” other neo-colonised nations to make similar efforts, given that success is possible even in very bad conditions - this is the real import of the domino theory. Noam Chomsky has referred to this actual meaning of the domino theory with irony: “... if a tiny-nothing country with no natural resources can begin to extricate itself from the system of misery and oppression that we’ve [the US, leading the Western nations] helped to impose, then others who have more resources may be tempted to do likewise.”[91] Therefore, the solution is to bomb such countries as soon as they begin to embark on a slightly constructive course of independent development; the U.S. interventions in Grenada, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, for example, were all perpetrated in the name of assuring that the “rot does not spread”,[92] the “rot” being autarkic economic growth. Michael Parenti has elaborated on this, noting that the motives for intervention are not necessarily just specific investments in particular resources within a region, but also include “the overall commitment to safeguarding the global class system, keeping the world’s land, labor, natural resources, and markets accessible to transnational investors…

More important than particular holdings is the whole process of investment and profit. To defend that process [the] state thwarts and crushes those popular movements that attempt any kind of redistributive politics, sending a message to them and others that if they try to better themselves by infringing upon the prerogatives of corporate capital, they will pay a severe price.”

Citing the example of the U.S. intervention in Grenada, Parenti observes that this “served notice to all other Caribbean countries that this was the fate that awaited any nation that sought to get out from under its client-state status… Today, with its unemployment at new heights and its poverty at new depths, Grenada is once again firmly bound to the free market world. Everyone else in the region indeed has taken note.” For this reason, investments within a particular Third World country are not necessarily what is at stake. Rather, the long-range security of the entire system of transnational capitalism needs to be protected - and this is achieved essentially by punishing those who attempt to extricate themselves from the world system under U.S./Western hegemony. “No country that pursues an independent course of development shall be allowed to prevail as a dangerous example to other nations.”[93]

III.II Invading Vietnam

All this throws significant light on why the U.S. resolved to invade Vietnam - yet another classic example of the nature of Western benevolence, the horrifying implications of which have been dispensed to the memory hole. The government that the U.S. detested in North Vietnam was that of the Viet Minh, which was a nationalist-communist movement headed by Ho Chi Minh. Following the expulsion of imperialist France by the Viet Minh in 1954, the 1954 Geneva Accords called for national elections in 1956. These would be held throughout Vietnam with the ultimate aim of uniting the country. Instead of supporting free national elections and the unification of the country, the U.S. refused to sign the Geneva agreement, noting that “if the scheduled national elections are held in July 1956, and if the Viet Minh does not prejudice its political prospects, the Viet Minh will almost certainly win”.[94] After the Geneva Accords, U.S. President Eisenhower admitted regarding the Vietnamese elections which the US refused to support: “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, a possible 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader”.[95

Thus, the conventional opinion that the Viet Minh was party to a global Communist conspiracy to violently take over the world is an entirely ludicrous explanation of the U.S. position, simply because there is no evidence for this. While aid from the Communist countries, Russia and China, had certainly been provided to Vietnam, this must be understood in context with the fact that the history of Vietnam in the twentieth century is largely one of fighting off hoards of voracious colonialists. Before 1954, for example, the Vietnamese were attempting to defend themselves against French colonialists. America was, in fact, primarily responsible for financing France’s military expenses in its endeavour to extend French hegemony over Vietnam, as French forces attempted to annihilate the Viet Minh, resulting in the deaths of up to one million Indochinese civilians. The U.S. Consul in Vietnam had noted with admiration of this colonial genocide that the Vietnamese “have, under the French ‘colonialist’ regime of the past 60 years, witnessed the creation of a most efficient machine of exploitation and self-interest, centering in the Bank of Indochina and the fabulous import-export firms, but also extending throughout all grades and ranks of French commerce and officialdom”.[96] Indeed, the U.S Secretary of State was happy to acknowledge in 1947 that “we have fully recognized France’s sovereign position in that area and we do not wish it to appear that we are in any way endeavouring [to] undermine that position”.[97]

The first arms supplies to the independence movement in Vietnam arrived from China in 1950. This was only four years after France had embarked upon its colonial bombardment of Vietnam; it is therefore highly inaccurate to interpret this military aid as a step towards a momentous East-West confrontation of global implication. This exaggeration is merely a distortion of the fact that the Vietnamese were supplied such aid to defend themselves against French colonialist hordes backed by the U.S. The fact remains that the Viet Minh essentially constituted a nationalist movement led by the popular Vietnamese Communist Party, which was fighting for the sake of the overall independence of Vietnam; independence meant freedom from colonial control by both the East and the West. U.S. academic Harry Piotrowski confirms that the Viet Minh leader, Ho Chi Minh, “grafted the national liberation movement onto communism, which gave him a vision of the future, the certainty of an historic process that promised victory and an organisational blueprint”. Communist ideology “scarcely played a role in motivating resistance”, observes Piotrowski of the Viet Minh.[98] Similarly, Vietnam War veteran Jeff Drake points out having reviewed Ho Chi Minh’s history that “for anyone to claim that Ho Chi Minh’s primary interest was the promotion and spread of communism is to deny his entire life’s work. It is a lie, pure and simple. And the people at the topmost echelon of our government who were spreading this lie knew better.”[99]  Indeed, the policy planners were well aware of the real nature of the Vietnamese independence movement. However, they did not wish to defend the freedom of the Vietnamese, but wished to ensure that they remained subjugated under Western neo-colonial domination, thus also ensuring that Vietnam could not constitute an example of democratic socialist reform for other nations to follow.[100

Thus, the U.S did not wish the Viet Minh to attain power through free elections, not due to any global communist conspiracy, but due to the fact that this essentially nationalist movement threatened to bring Vietnam - and its resources - free from Western domination, by mobilising domestic resources for egalitarian gains for the population. This was reflected in the system established by the Viet Minh in which land ownership had been expanded for the benefit of the impoverished. In 1952, the U.S. noted that if Indochina did not succumb to Western domination, other nations would be inspired to follow this example in accord with the ‘domino’ theory; hence, “the principle source of natural rubber and tin and a producer of petroleum and other strategically important commodities” would be lost in Malaya and Indonesia. Historian Gabriel Kolko points out that in the 1960s “raw materials, though less publicly cited than earlier, were still prominent in the decision makers’ vision. This included the preservation of existing markets” in which plundering of other people’s resources was the traditional policy. The U.S. therefore did not want “the rot” of independent economic growth “to spread” elsewhere,[101] since it would hinder U.S. domination over the world’s resources. Hence, “the rot” in Vietnam had to be bombed into oblivion.

The U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam, which was later replaced since it had not been following orders, was further boosted by the U.S. before the latter directly invaded the region, on the alleged pretext of ‘defending’ South Vietnam against the attack of North Vietnam. Ngo Dinh Diem’s U.S.-friendly regime of the south, in contrast to that of Ho Chi Minh’s in the north, was an unpopular police state in which the masses were impoverished and regularly slaughtered by government forces, who were armed and trained by the U.S. In 1958, for instance, the regime had held at least 40,000 political prisoners, and had managed to kill 12,000 people.[102] In fact, U.S. regimes in Vietnam had nothing to do with the interests of the population, and only existed due to U.S. aid, lacking indigenous support. Hence, Kolko comments that “the process of conflict” in Vietnam “after 1954 was essentially a struggle between a radical Vietnamese patriotism, embodied in the Communist Party, and the United States and its wholly dependent local allies”.[103]  

Former CIA official Ralph McGhee, who worked with the agency for 25 years, admits that the U.S.-backed Diem’s “minions killed, tortured and imprisoned tens of thousands who resisted his unfair rule.”[104] In January 1965, orders were issued to U.S. special forces in South Vietnam “to conduct operations to dislodge VC-controlled officials, to include assassination” and to employ “pacification” techniques, such as “ambushing, raiding, sabotaging, and committing acts of terrorism against known VC personnel.”[105] A 1965 internal memorandum by field operation coordinator of the U.S. Operations Mission, John Paul Vann, similarly reveals that the U.S. wished to utilise “effective political indoctrination” against the “unsophisticated, relatively illiterate rural population” in South Vietnam, under a U.S.-instituted “autocratic government”, headed by Diem at the time, which would be “orientated toward the exploitation of the rural and lower class urban population”, to the benefit of U.S. investors, who could then be free to plunder domestic resources.[106] McGhee observes that: “It was this vicious repression that eventually forced the North Vietnamese to join with their compatriots in the South to fight against Diem and his US backers.”[107]

The U.S., of course, could not tolerate any threat to its hegemony in the form of Ho Chi Minh’s popular policies of egalitarian reform; the U.S. invaded because such “rot” had to be prevented from spreading. The result of the U.S. invasion was the complete devastation of Vietnam. In 1962, the U.S. attacked rural South Vietnam, where more than 80 per cent of the population lived. The virtually defenceless civilian population was deliberately targeted. This included the employment of chemical weapons such as napalm and Agent Orange, along with heavy bombing. In 1964, the U.S. began planning the ground invasion of South Vietnam. This eventually occurred in 1965, along with the bombing of North Vietnam and an intensification of the bombing of the south. The bombing of the south was at triple the level of the more publicised bombing of the north, not to mention America’s implementation of the so-called ‘pacification’ policy of rounding up civilians against their will into concentration camps known as ‘strategic hamlets’, for the purpose of controlling the population and depriving the liberation movement of support. Millions of civilians were killed, survivors were severely traumatised, while the region remains devastated in numerous ways, all as a result of the US bombardment.

Moreover, much of the devastation continues to this day thanks to US efforts to ensure that both itself and others do not give aid to the war-torn Vietnam.[108] Respected Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk reported on his visit to Vietnam in 1988 that “thousands of Vietnamese still die from the effects of American chemical warfare”. According to official estimates, there are about a quarter of a million victims in South Vietnam, many of whom were children infected with fatal birth deformities and cancer, witnessed firsthand by Kapeliouk during “terrifying” sequences at southern hospitals.[109] The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that as a consequence of the chemical bombardment of South Vietnam by U.S. forces in an effort to destroy crops and ground cover, half a million Vietnamese children may have been born with dioxin-related deformities. Japanese and Vietnamese scientists have discovered birth defects to be four times as high in the South than in the North. Aid from Europe and Japan to attempt to alleviate the disastrous impact of U.S. intervention has been “paid no heed” by an “emotionally spent” America.[110]

The conventional opinion is that the U.S. lost the Vietnam War. This is not accurate. As is now clear from previous analyses, U.S. aims in Vietnam were to devastate the country to such an extent that it could not follow through with successful policies of independent egalitarian development, which may have brought Vietnam out of U.S. sphere of influence and served as an example for other nations to do the same. Though the U.S. was not able to re-install another repressive government, its primary aim of preventing the country from implementing egalitarian policies were fulfilled: The Vietnamese suffered approximately four million deaths; the standard of living remains almost the same as it had been in 1950; all egalitarian hopes and incentives have virtually disappeared. In other words, as far as the Vietnamese are concerned, the war was pointless. The only result for Vietnam has been devastation. The U.S. has ensured that Vietnam remains in a state of underdevelopment by pressuring other countries not to give aid to the country, as well as by imposing embargoes and sanctions, despite strenuous objections from allies in Europe and Japan. India, for example, tried to donate 100 water buffalo to Vietnam to replace the herds that were wiped out during the war, and which are so crucial to Vietnamese survival. In opposition to the Indian gesture, the U.S. threatened to cancel Food for Peace aid, and so India, a country that is itself highly dependent on foreign aid, withheld its support. The message to the Third World heralded by the U.S. invasion of Vietnam is therefore clear. Anyone who attempts to protest against Western hegemony will be ruthlessly smashed - and they will stay smashed.[111]

IV. Post-Cold War Imperialism in Colombia

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has had a particularly freehand to impose its hegemony as elite interests require, without obstruction from its former Cold War rival. Yet since the pretext of international Communism thus no longer constitutes a viable scapegoat, it has been necessary to construct other alleged Third World threats that provide the just noted pretext for strategically motivated military intervention. The case of Colombia provides a particularly apt example of this.

IV.I Slaughter in the Name of Democracy

Colombia falls into that brand of Third World ‘democracies’ that the U.S. prides itself in defending, as it had done in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Indeed, the nature of Colombian ‘democracy’ can be understood in consideration of its two political parties - Liberals and Conservatives - who have been responsible for waging violent power struggles against one another at the expense of the general population for decades. From 1948-53, 300,000 were left for dead because of one of the latest of such struggles, and killings have continued up to this day. The fact is that there is no fundamental ideological difference between these two parties, who hold the same position on social and economic issues. As a consequence of this socio-economic consensus, 3 per cent of the population own 70 per cent of the arable land, the result being that a third of the population control 70 per cent of the country’s wealth, leaving the rest in a state of hunger and impoverishment.[112] According to a 1986 report of the National Administration Bureau of Statistics, 40 per cent of Colombians are toiling under conditions of “absolute poverty” in which rudimentary subsistence needs go unmet. Eighteen per cent are unable to fulfil their basic nutritional requirements and consequently live in “absolute misery”. Four and a half million children under 14 - equivalent to one out of every two children - go hungry.[113]

With Colombian ‘democracy’ in such a meaningless state of violently repressive oligarchy, guerrilla movements that wished to overthrow the ruling government began forming in the late 1980s in response to government brutality (the main groups are the FARC and ELN). In 1985, the government offered amnesty to the guerrillas who would give up their arms to form a peaceful political party that could compete in elections. Thus was formed the popular Union Patriotica Party (UP), offering meaningful alternatives to the Colombian masses whose rights and needs had been trampled by the Liberals and Conservatives. With the arrival of elections, the UP proved to be the party favoured by the Colombian people, as members were elected into the city council, state assembly, national Congress, and so on. However, the ‘amnesty’ revealed itself to be an insidious fraud, when almost all the UP’s elected officials - about 4,000 - including its presidential candidates, were killed by the Colombian army under the orders of the established government. Subsequently, the guerrilla movements have returned with the only method of change they conceive to be viable in light of the fact that all peaceful political dissent is violently rooted out by the government - overthrowing the established dictatorial regime by force. The official political agenda of the major guerrilla movements is to protect the interests of the Colombian masses by fighting against the existing oligarchy; they call openly for agrarian reform, democratisation, and the protection of domestic resources from foreign/Western multinational corporations. This explains why the U.S. is so keen to eliminate them.[114]

The context of the tremendous scale of the violence and poverty in Colombia - continuing into the new millenium - was explained clearly by the former Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfred Vasquez Carrizosa, now President of the Colombian Permanent Committee for Human Rights. He observes that “poverty and insufficient land reform” “have made Colombia one of the most tragic countries of Latin America”, by constituting the source of the violence. The land reform legislated for in 1961 “has practically been a myth” that remains so because wealthy landowning elites “have had the power to stop it”. Carrizosa dismisses Colombian ‘democracy’ as a mere “facade” under which lurks “the dual structure of a prosperous minority and an impoverished excluded majority, with great differences in wealth, income, and access to political participation.” The “violence” that has arisen as a consequence of this institutionalised disparity “has been exacerbated by external factors” - primarly U.S. support of the regime. This enthusiastic American support for Colombian state-terror is “a way to make the military establishment the masters of the game”. U.S. policy therefore establishes “the right” of Third World elites “to combat the internal enemy”: “it is the right to fight and to exterminate social workers, trade unionists, men and women who are not supportive of the establishment, and who are assumed to be communist extremists.”[115]

The results of this are that in total, an estimated more than 40,000 Colombians have been victims of politically motivated killings, the vast majority being poor peasants. According to Father Giraldo’s Intercongregational Commission of Peace and Justice, over 67,000 Colombians were killed between 1988 and 1995. More than 3,000 people have ‘disappeared’. The killers have not been members of the aforementioned guerrilla movements - this is not surprising, since these movements originated solely to represent the interests of the Colombian masses. On the contrary, the perpetrators are the Colombian military, co-working with paramilitary death squads, all of whom are murdering and terrorising people on behalf of the Colombian government with the support of the United States – a policy perpetrated on the official pretext of the “war on drugs”.[116] More than one million people have been internally displaced due to the escalating armed conflict. The victims have primarily been civilians, including community leaders, trade unionists, political and social activists, human rights defenders and peasant farmers living in areas whose control is disputed between armed forces, their paramilitary allies and guerrilla organisations.[117] Every year, many hundreds of non-combatant civilians are killed during counterinsurgency operations. Scores of people, largely poor peasants, ‘disappear’ after having been detained by the armed and security forces or paramilitary forces, and torture is widespread.[118]

IV.II Complicity of the U.S.-backed Colombian State

To understand the scale of the violence, we should consider the fact that in the first eight months of 1998 an estimated 150,000 people were displaced. Human Rights Watch (HRW) records in its 1998 World Report that an additional 619 people were killed in the first six months of the same year. In cases where a perpetrator was suspected, 73 per cent of these killings were attributed to paramilitaries, 17 per cent to guerrillas, and 10 per cent to state agents. The Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Colombia reports the total number of killings in 1998 to have been 3,832.[119] Even the U.S. State Department has confirmed the general level of violence in 1998, reporting 2-3,000 killed and 300,000 new refugees, with 80 per cent of massacres attributed to the Colombian military and its paramilitary associates.[120]

Moreover, the violence has only systematically escalated. The Colombian Commission of Jurists reported near the end of 1999 that the rate of killings had increased by 20 per cent compared to the previous year. Paramilitary atrocities rose from 46 per cent in 1995 to 80 per cent in 1998 and 99.[121] Human rights activist Daniel Bland, who conducted research in Colombia for most of the 1990s, observes that from 1997-2000 “more than a million people have been forced from their homes in the countryside, and between 5,000 and 7,000 unarmed peasants have been slaughtered by right-wing paramilitaries.”[122] From June to August 1999 alone, another 200,000 civilians were deported from their homes according to the estimate of UNICEF and the Colombian Human Rights Information Bureau.[123]

The testimony of independent observers, including human rights activists, similarly confirms that the main perpetrator of these atrocities is the Colombian state army, which has continued to commit serious violations with little apparent will to investigate or punish those responsible. In eastern Colombia, for instance, HRW reported that the army was directly implicated in the killing of civilians and prisoners taken hors de combat, as well as torture and death threats. In the rest of the country, where paramilitaries had developed a pronounced presence over the past decade, the army not only tolerated their activity, including egregious violations of international humanitarian law; it provided some paramilitary groups with intelligence and logistical support to carry out operations, actively promoting and coordinating joint manoeuvres with them.[124]

As the Bogotá-based office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights noted in its March 1998 report:

“Witnesses frequently state that [massacres] were perpetrated by members of the armed forces passing themselves off as paramilitaries, joint actions by members of the armed forces or police and paramilitaries, or actions by paramilitaries enjoying the complicity, support or acquiescence of the regular forces.”

The report thus came to the same crucial conclusion as other independent observers: that there was abundant evidence of continued joint Colombian military and paramilitary actions that resulted in human rights violations as well as a disregard for the laws of war by all parties to the conflict.[125] The Director of the Colombian Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, similarly attributes responsibility for “the magnitude and complexity of the paramilitary phenomenon” to the Colombian government.[126]

The paramilitary forces’ close link with the Colombian military is extensively documented by both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations in studies released at the beginning of 2000. The UN study concludes that the military has “undoubtedly enabled the paramilitary groups to achieve their exterminating objectives,”[127] a picture even admitted by the U.S. Department of State in its annual report which states that “security forces actively collaborated with members of the paramilitary groups”, while “government forces continued to commit numerous, serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, at a level that was roughly similar to that of 1998” – when the State Department’s annual report estimated that around 80 per cent of atrocities were attributable to the military co-working with paramilitaries.[128] Amnesty International similarly reports that the war against drugs is “a myth”, with Colombian security forces working closely with paramilitaries, narco-traffickers and landlords to target political opposition, community leaders, human rights and health workers, union activists, students, and most of all peasants. Indeed, “almost every Colombian military unit that Amnesty implicated in murdering civilians two years ago was doing so with U.S.-supplied weapons”.[129]

IV.III Complicity of the West

HRW reported that according to the Displaced Support Group (Grupo de Apoyo a Desplazados, GAD) - an alliance of human rights, church, and humanitarian aid groups - over one million Colombians have been displaced by violence. By the time of writing this has almost doubled to two million. The primary cause of forced displacement includes violations of human rights and the laws of war. HRW points out that “displacement was also caused by powerful business interests” originating with the Colombian government and the Western multinational corporations co-working with the government, “which joined forces with paramilitaries to force poor farmers from their land, then occupied it or bought it for paltry sums. Several regions buffeted by massacres, fighting, targeted killings, and threats produced forced displacement in 1998”.[130] As Matthew Knoester of the U.S.-based human rights group Colombia Support Network (CSN) reports:

“Evidence suggests that military aid to Colombia is being used for purposes other than to fight a ‘war on drugs’. Instead, U.S. dollars are used to fund counterinsurgency campaigns and a vast land grab by those who already have large tracks of land. Large landowners hire paramilitary groups to ‘defend’, and in fact increase their holdings. The paramilitary groups work hand in glove with the Colombian military.”

This has resulted in the increased suffering of the Colombian people while rich landowners get richer:

“Between 1990 and 1994, Colombians living below the poverty line increased by one million, to include about half of Colombia's population of 33 million people. In the countryside, 48% of the land is owned by rich absentee landowners making up 1.3% of the rural population while the campesinos, comprising 63% of the rural population own less than 5% of the land, according to [Father] Giraldo’s Justicia y Paz magazine.”[131]

Despite the mass atrocities committed jointly by Colombian military and paramilitary forces, the U.S. has been supplying these forces with military training and equipment. HRW reports that: “In fiscal year 1998, Colombia was slated to receive at least $119 million in counternarcotics assistance, including military equipment and training.” This military aid has accrued to Colombian forces in the name of ‘counter-narcotics assistance’ (otherwise known as the ‘war on drugs’), despite the fact that these forces concentrate their training and equipment not on counter-narcotics operations, but on slaughtering and displacing civilians in the name of America’s “powerful business interests”. According to the State Department’s own human rights report of 1998, “the armed forces” receiving U.S. military equipment and training “committed numerous, serious human rights abuses”. The report also noted that: “the Samper administration has not taken action to curb increased abuses committed by paramilitary groups, verging on a policy of tacit acquiescence.”[132]

Thus, although the armed security forces receiving military training and equipment are fundamentally responsible for the massacres and mass displacements of Colombian civilians, “the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Defense Department continued to work with Colombian security force units”, such that as HRW states, “according to the Washington Post” U.S. officers continued to train Colombian units in “shoot and manoeuvre” techniques - conveniently labeled “counterterrorism” and “intelligence-gathering”. Such skills, as the U.S. is well aware, are systematically employed by Colombian units to repress, slaughter and displace Colombian civilians, as well as to silence legitimise political opposition to the regime.[133] In a February 2000 report HRW thus presented once more “detailed, abundant, and compelling evidence of continuing close ties between the Colombian Army and paramilitary groups responsible for gross human rights violations… military support for paramilitary activity remains national in scope and includes areas where units receiving or scheduled to receive US military aid operate.”[134]

The results of U.S. aid have therefore continued to be predictably anti-humanitarian, serving to prop-up an illegitimate regime while supporting its war against its own people. The Universal Press Syndicate reports: “In Colombia, the genocide against the poor is indiscriminate and includes indigenous people, Afro-Colombians, campesinos and anyone who expresses political dissent” against the Colombian tyranny so frequently and falsely described as a ‘democracy’ by the US - revealing once again the real American conception of ‘democracy’. “In Colombia, the military and paramilitary troops” being funded and armed by Uncle Sam, “are primarily responsible for perhaps 85 per cent of the human rights violations.”[135]

Yet again, such lack of significant Western benevolence continues to illustrate the West’s real objectives and concerns. A report in London’s respected daily newspaper, The Guardian, summarises the situation:

“In Colombia, according to US state department estimates, the annual level of political killing by the government and its paramilitary associates matches that of Kosovo, and more than a million people have fled the atrocities. Colombia has been the leading western recipient of US arms and training as violence has grown through the 90s. That assistance is now increasing under a ‘drug war’ pretext that is dismissed by almost all serious observers. Bill Clinton’s administration has been particularly enthusiastic in its praise of [Colombia’s] President Gaviria, whose tenure in office was responsible for appalling levels of violence, according to human rights organisations.”[136]

Naturally, without the sort of significant public pressure that arose in regard to countries like East Timor, the U.S. has been quite content to overtly continue - in fact escalate - its anti-humanitarian policies. The New York-based International Action Center (IAC), founded and headed by former U.S. Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, reported in 1999 that “U.S. government intervention in Colombia has grown tremendously” and that “U.S. military aid has tripled in the last year alone, to nearly $300 million.” Additionally, “U.S. Special Forces are [continuing their] training [of] the Colombian army in counterinsurgency tactics”, the same army whose units, working closely with its paramilitary subordinates, are responsible for murdering and displacing civilians. Meanwhile, “Human rights groups have documented Pentagon and CIA support for the death squads in Colombia.” Gloria La Riva, award-winning videographer and West Coast Co-ordinator of the IAC, reports that “the US government and their Colombian proxies have the blood of tens of thousands of trade unionists, indigenous people and other progressives on their hands.” Another Co-ordinator of the IAC, Sara Flounders, has thrown light on such policies, as well as on the role of the previously mentioned ‘powerful business interests’:

“The U’was [indigenous people of Colombia] have waged a tremendous legal and political battle against Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum, which has tried to exploit U’wa land. Oil companies in Colombia often fund private armies to battle against the people’s movement there - armies which are intimately connected to the paramilitary death squads and US military funding.”[137]

Such ‘powerful business interests’ originating in the U.S., exist simply because Colombia has abundant resources, such as oil, coal, gold, emeralds, platinum and uranium. The country is therefore a primary target of U.S. hegemony, under the sacred principle of America’s absolute access to world resources at the expense of the vast majority of the population of that world. We may take the region Magdalena Medio as an example of the strategic importance of Colombia. According to another American human rights organistion, the Colombia Support Group of Minnesota, “The Magdalena Medio is a strategic zone in that it is rich in gold, uranium, petroleum, silver, emeralds and fertile land. Unfortunately, the civilian population in this region is caught in the middle of a power struggle between paramilitary, government and guerrilla forces”, perpetuated by the U.S. and U.S.-based corporations which are supporting the joint operations of government and paramilitary forces to eliminate people’s movements, and thereby control and exploit Colombian resources.[138] The U’wa Defense Working Group - a coalition of U.S.-based human rights and environmental organisations working with the indigenous U’wa people of Colombia - reviewing the latest U.S. policies in this regard, reports the testimony of Carwil James from Project Underground who has been working in support of the U’wa since 1997: “The truth on the ground in Colombia is that a U.S.-backed police and military force is using violent tactics to serve a U.S. company - Occidental Petroleum - against a peaceful community, all in the name of oil.”[139]

The redundant justification for these policies is the aforementioned fraudulent ‘war on drugs’. As the independent Colombia Support Network (CSN) points out, the very U.S.-backed “Colombian military and the paramilitaries that receive their [American] support are seriously involved in the drug trade.”[140] The CSN refers to “the continued providing of military aid by the US government to Colombia, which this year [1999] ranks third among all military aid recipients of this country. This aid, supposedly granted to fight the so-called War on Drugs, is increasingly used to support military and police forces in Colombia who collaborate with paramilitary leaders, such as Carlos Castano, who themselves are participants in the drug trade.”[141] Even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that “all branches of government” in Colombia are deeply involved in “drug-related corruption”.[142] Journalist John Donnelly reported in March 2000 that: “The leader of the paramilitaries [Carlos Castano] acknowledged last week in a television interview that the drug trade provided 70 per cent of the group’s funding.” Castano admitted that his militias are “financed by extortion and income from 30,000 hectares of coca fields in Norte de Santander.” Notably, “the U.S.-financed attack stays clear of the areas controlled by paramilitary forces” implicated in systematic massacres of civilians.[143]

In contrast, in some areas the FARC “are not involved at all” in coca production, whereas in others “they actively tell the farmers not to grow” the drug crop.[144] While FARC leaders agree that some of their funds derive from the taxing of coca production alongside other businesses, according to Klaus Nyholm who runs the UN Drug Control Program “the guerrillas are something different from the traffickers”. FARC fronts are “quite autonomous”.[145] They have, furthermore, called for “a development plan for the peasants” that would “allow eradication of coca on the basis of alternative crops.” “That’s all we want”, stated FARC leader Marulanda.[146] In contrast, the U.S. refused to attend the Conference of Illicit Drug Crops and Environment on 29-30 June, which was held as part of talks between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government. “The FARC presented the government with a five year test plan to stop coca growing completely in one region of Colombia through government aid that would allow farmers to plant alternative crops”, reported the IAC. Spokesman for the FARC, Raul Reyes, had stated: “Money is needed for social investment in order to begin plans to replace cocca, poppy and marijuana with healthy products”. But as the IAC observes: “The government rejected the plan completely. The U.S. refused even to attend the conference.”[147]

The fabricated war on drugs is therefore being utilised as warrant for the U.S. to increase its military assistance to the current anti-humanitarian Colombian regime, with the view to aid its violent eradication of all political dissent - including the guerrilla movements - which are threatening to remove the government and replace it with a system representative of the masses and their legitimate needs. The U.S. wishes to maintain and enforce the hegemony of its multinational corporations, thereby retaining monopoly over Colombia’s rich resources; the war on drugs is an adequate pretext by which to mislead the public and embark on yet another brutal, self-interested military operation. “It is the same policy”, observes Amnesty International, “that backed death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s.”[148] Indeed, the real intentions are clear from the fact that the most effective possible measures to tackle the drug problem are treatment and prevention, not current U.S. strategies. For example, a Rand Corporation study sponsored by the U.S. Army and Office of National Drug Control Policy concluded that funds invested in domestic drug treatment were 23 times more effective than “source country control” – the essence of the Colombia Plan – 11 times more effective than interdiction, and 7 times more effective than law enforcement. Yet when California Democrat Nancy Pelosi called for an amendment for the funding of drug demand-reduction services in a U.S. House Committee on Clinton’s Colombia Plan, her proposal was rejected.[149]

With hegemonic interests high as usual on the agenda, in June 1999 the U.S. proposed the creation of a multinational force for Latin America during a meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The proposal called for a “group of friendly countries” to intervene in internal conflicts threatening “democracy” in Latin American countries.[150] The CSN dismissed the U.S. proposal, “which stunned Latin American nations, [as] an apparent effort to obtain OAS approval for a US led strike force, similar to that used by NATO in Kosovo-Yugoslavia, which would intervene in any country with a ‘democratic’ facade whose government is under attack, such as is currently happening in Colombia.” The U.S. was therefore attempting to manufacture a legal basis for invading any Latin American country in the name of protecting its ‘democracy’, just as was done in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Chile and all the other victims of the U.S. conception of Third World ‘democracy’. In other words, the U.S. was hoping for a way to legitimise military interventions in Latin America to enforce or stabilise U.S. hegemony under “a ‘democratic’ facade”, by which to fulfil U.S. corporate interests. The CSN reports:

“The U.S. is already distrusted at best, detested at worst, throughout Latin America because of a long list of ignominious actions in nearly every country - Chile, Guatemala, Brazil - actions that years later the U.S. seems to deny, distance itself from or even (and rarely) apologize for. It is apparent to the citizenry in Latin America that such heavy handed U.S. intervention is not to promote democracy, but is a thinly disguised effort to protect U.S. companies’ access to raw materials, cheap labor, and their markets by intervening militarily to establish ‘stability’.”[151]

Co-founder of the CSN, Cecilia Zarute-Laun, similarly reports that the “facts contradict the speeches by U.S. politicians”. She describes the war on drugs as “a pseudo-ethical argument for perpetuating violence for the economic benefit of the elites of both countries”.[152] A study by the Institute for Health and Social Justice similarly noted that: “While the War on Drugs only occasionally serves and more often degrades public health and safety, it regularly serves the interests of private wealth: interests revealed by the pattern of winners and losers, targets and non-targets, well-funded and under-funded,” according to “the main interests of U.S. foreign and domestic policy generally,” particularly the private sector which “has overriding influence on policy.”[153]

Such corporate interests, along with the increased fear of losing the war against the Colombian people, have led the U.S. to boost its military aid to its proxies in the region. Towards the end of October 1999, the Clinton administration decided to seek Congressional approval for a massive $1 billion in military aid to Colombia, to implement a low-level air war under American supervision with Blackhawk helicopters, satellite surveillance and cluster bombs. The reasons for this boost were reported by The Guardian which noted that in Colombia, “matters are getting out of hand”, as far as American hegemony over the country is concerned. In September 1999, “a general strike all but stopped the cities and towns…

Ten thousand Indian people blockaded the south; the majority of high school and university students walked out of their classes. Like most of Latin America, Colombia’s economy is prescribed by the International Monetary Fund. Almost half the gross domestic product goes on paying off an unrepayable debt, while the Pastrana government is selling off most of the infrastructure, from telecommunications to the water supply, at well below its true value but at too high a price for domestic capital. The beneficiaries are, as ever, US and other western multinationals. In that respect, it is simply globalisation at work, a war of the rich versus the poor.”[154]

Thus, as a direct consequence of the “neoliberal reforms” instituted in the 1990s, “the effective participation of civil society” in what is inaccurately called a ‘democratic’ government, was degraded still further, according to the assessment of Arlene Ticker, General Coordinator of the Center for International Studies at the University of the Andes in Bogota. The “reforms intended to enhance executive power and reduce the autonomy of the judicial and legislative branches”, and succeeded in “concentrating macroeconomic planning in the hands of a smaller circle of technocrats.” These “neoliberal reforms have also given rise to alarming levels of poverty and inequality; approximately 55 percent of Colombia’s population lives below the poverty level”, a situation which “has been aggravated by an acute crisis in agriculture, itself a result of the neoliberal program” under the tutelage of Western financial institutions.[155] Meanwhile, Western corporate investors such as Occidental Petroleum, among others, reap lucrative profits.[156]

Accordingly, another $1.3 billion aid package directed primarily at the police and military was approved by the U.S. Senate in June 2000.[157] A part of this ‘Plan Colombia’ package is dedicated to the large-scale distribution of a toxic fungus (Fusarium oxsporum, EN-4 strain) over coca-producing regions. The U.S. government maintains that the mycoherbicide or fungus is not harmful to humans, animals or plants, other than the intended target. However, this view is contravened by the facts. Head of the Center for International Physics in Colombia, Eduardo Posada, stated in a letter to the Colombian Minister for Environment: “The mortality rate for people infected by Fusarium is 76 percent.” Posada noted that extensive scientific literature indicates that fusarium toxins are “highly toxic” to humans and animals. As leading ethnobotanist Jeremy Bigwood commented at the 13th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform: “To then apply a myoherbicide from the air that has been associated with a 76% kill rate in hospitalized human patients is tantamount to biological warfare.”[158] It is in this context that Colombia specialist Andy McInerny of the International Action Center observes:

“The U.S. plans to spread this toxic fungus are only part of the Plan Colombia, 90% of which is military aid and includes 18 Blackhawk and 42 Huey II helicopters. The US had to enact Plan Colombia, heightening the war against the impoverished Colombian people, in order to maintain its imperialist domination of the region. The spraying of the Fusarium fungus as a Biological Warfare agent is just another example of US escalation of the Colombian civil war.”[159]

America is not alone in its war against the Colombian people. British journalist John Pilger reports:

“The British are flying the flag. The Blair government has approved weapons sales to the Colombian military - ammunition, grenades. British Petroleum, whose former chairman, Lord Simon, made the smooth transition to Blair’s minister for competitiveness, ‘is the most aggressive oil company in Colombia’, says the national workers’ union. An investigation by ITV’s World in Action in 1997 revealed that BP had contracted former British SAS soldiers to train paramilitaries.”[160]

IV.IV Brief History of the ‘War on Drugs’

America’s own record on drugs bellies its claims to be sincerely pioneering a war on drugs. It is worth undertaking a cursory inspection of the recent history of U.S. drugs policies, further illustrating the redundancy of the Anglo-American pretext for their war against the Colombian people. Early in 1997, The Independent summarised the conclusions of investigative journalists working for Britain’s ITV television network: “The CIA actively encouraged drug-trafficking in order to fund right-wing contra rebels in Nicaragua during the 1980s, and a CIA agent in Nicaragua was employed to ensure the money went to the contras and not into the pockets of drug barons.” These findings were aired on 12th December in a highly regarded programme called ‘The Big Story’. This programme echoed the conclusions of the San Jose Mercury News investigation of 1996, which established that the CIA was involved in funnelling cocaine to Los Angeles gang members during the 1980s. In fact, it was this CIA operation that helped spark a crack explosion in urban America, providing the cash and connections needed for LA’s gangs to buy automatic weapons.[161]

This striking U.S. hypocrisy, where proud rhetoric is contradictory to actual policies, is nothing novel. For example, the violent U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989, which involved the input of 26,000 troops and resulted in the slaughter of 2-3,000 Panamanians, was conducted in part, according to standard U.S. dogma, to depose and arrest a drug trafficker, General Noriega. The excuse was taken seriously by most commentators despite the fact that Noriega himself had engaged in drug trafficking with U.S. knowledge under the CIA payroll, for several decades before the invasion.[162] Evidently then, Noriega, whose evilness had for so long been actively enrolled by the CIA, was not the real reason for the invasion. Rather, the primary reason was that Noriega was becoming independent from U.S. control, along with the fact that Panama’s military was becoming similarly resilient to U.S. infiltration. Obviously, this meant that Panama as such was moving away from U.S. domination, hence threatening the prospects of U.S. investment. Thus, the devastating invasion of Panama for the sake of ‘maintaining the disparity’ was necessitated. Although the Panamanian Defense Forces were an instrument of U.S. power, Noriega himself had become too independent and was not under control. Therefore he had to be replaced and the Defense Forces reconstructed, “with essentially the same officers, the same drug-running, the same everything else, except now under U.S. control.”[163]

The invasion happened to be in monumental violation of the UN Charter, the Rio Treaty, and the Organization of American States (OAS), all of which the U.S. was a signatory to. Once U.S. forces partially withdrew from Panama, having successfully installed the desired puppet regime, the U.S. had to veto two UN Security Council resolutions, as well as vote against a General Assembly resolution that condemned the United States’ “flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states”, and ordered a withdrawal of the “U.S. armed invasion forces from Panama”. The UN condemnation had been 70 votes to 20, with 40 abstentions. The OAS condemnation had been 20 votes to one - the “one” being the U.S. itself. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Hurd, expressed the predictable British apologetics for American atrocities[164] stating that Britain “fully support[ed] the American action”.[165]

The results are unsurprising, though typically grotesque. Panama’s Human Rights Commission reported in its annual report (January 1994) that Panama’s right to self-determination continues to be violated by the “state of occupation by a foreign army”. U.S. army, air force and DEA operations in the country have effectively nullified a democracy that has now been reduced to nothing more than formal voting. Accordingly, government policies “do not attend to the necessities of the most impoverished”, the numbers of which have escalated to ludicrous extremes. The Church and the State Social Emergency Fund note that half the entire population lives in “poverty”, meaning that their income is half that required for “basic necessities”. A third live in “extreme poverty” - which is below half the income of the “poverty” level.[166] Once more, the importance given to considerations of human rights in Western foreign policy - as compared to the pre-eminence of the economic interests of corporate elites - is unambiguously clear: human rights are irrelevant in the face of prospects for profit.

V. World Order Under U.S./Western Hegemony

Despite the extensive documentation of this consistent record of U.S. imperialism, terrorism and anti-humanitarianism, members of the academic community often continue to espouse inaccurate and benign interpretations of these interventions in contradiction to the wealth of objective evidence. It is therefore interesting to observe the degree to which the relevant facts are rarely examined by those who hold fast to the dogma of Western benevolence in understanding Western policy - and when examined, their logical consequences ignored. Most often the very question of whether Western policies are justified is incomprehensible; analysis is framed on the basis of assuming the righteousness of Western intentions, and this assumption constitutes the fundamental foundation of political discourse.

The attempt to dismiss “the more familiar and more sinister motives” of Western neo-liberal imperialism, in which policies are determined by a variety of factors related ultimately to the protection of profit and its unlimited pursuit, actually results in ignoring masses of empirical data. Richard Barnet, for instance, argues that all industrial states seek to project power and influence in the cause of security. As Michael Parenti remarks:

“In fact, the case studies in Barnet’s book Intervention and Revolution point to business, rather than the national security bureaucracies, as the primary motive of US intervention. Anti-communism and the Soviet threat seem less a source for policy than a propaganda ploy to frighten the American public and rally support for overseas commitments. The very motives Barnet dismisses seem to be operative in his case studies of Greece, Iran, Lebanon, and the Dominican Republic, specifically the desire to secure access to markets and raw materials and the need, explicitly stated by various policymakers, to protect free enterprise throughout the world.”[167]

Essentially, the theories of Barnet and analysts like him, rely for their plausibility on simply ignoring historical and empirical facts in which the anti-humanitarian/economic agenda behind Western policy is evidenced not only by the reality of the very policy itself, but by the documented statements of policy-makers. For instance, in his historical study The Ambiguities of Power, British scholar Mark Curtis shows that the Cold War was not motivated primarily by security concerns - but that the primary motive was hegemonic economic domination resulting in a clash of interests; the imminent security concern barely existed in reality, but was exaggerated to justify the pursuit of neo-imperialistic economic interests. Professor of Politics & International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in Princeton University, Richard Falk, points out in this respect that: “Despite a strong pretense of defensiveness, the actual course of American foreign policy has been much more contradictory in practice, seeking above all else as much space as possible for capitalist expansion.” However, as Falk also notes: “The main challenges to capitalist control in recent decades, have been the largely indigenous pressures of revolutionary nationalism.” For this reason, “the consistent, bipartisan pattern of U.S. anti-nationalist intervention in the Third World... certainly has as its primary character a quality of ‘aggression’... This pattern of aggression has translated into massive human suffering for many non-western societies, often prolonged over a span of many years.”[168]

A particular example of ignoring rather obvious facts can be seen when liberal writers point out that empires are actually more costly to maintain than they are profitable. This is true in the sense that empires can cost more than they bring in. For example, from 1950 to 1970, the U.S. government spent several billions of dollars to support a corrupt dictatorship in the Philippines, with the objective of protecting only about $1 billion in U.S. investments in that country. It is thus concluded that therefore, the maintenance of such a global empire is to the detriment of U.S. interests. However, as Michael Parenti observes, this conclusion is based on ignoring another critical fact - that although the government of an imperial nation may spend more than it takes in, the people who foot the bill constitute the masses of the domestic population; whereas the people who absorb the gains consist of an elite minority. This point was eloquently noted by Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Business Enterprise (1904), where he observed that the profits of empire are siphoned into the hands of the privileged business elite. Meanwhile, the often massive costs which may far surpass the gains, are extracted from what Veblen aptly termed “the industry of the rest of the people.” In other words, transnational corporations reap the  private returns of empire, but they carry little or nothing of the public cost.

“The expenditures needed in the way of armaments and aid to make the world safe for General Motors, General Dynamics, General Electric, and all the other generals are paid by the US government, that is, by the taxpayers... In sum, there is nothing irrational about spending three dollars of public money to protect one dollar of private investment - at least not from the perspective of the investors. To protect one dollar of their money they will spend three, four, and five dollars of our money. In fact, when it comes to protecting their money, our money is no object.”[169]

The usual argument employed to discredit an analysis in which neo-imperialistic economic imperatives are found to be the overriding driving force of policy, does not even attempt to deal with the wealth of empirical data provided in its support, but rather complains about the alleged “simplicity” of the conclusion, since it apparently ignores other variables such as geopolitics, culture, ethnicity, nationalism, ideology, and morality. In fact, this argument does not expose any logical deficiency in the conclusion. All it shows is that the West’s hegemonic-economic agenda - the existence of which is already proven - is not insulated from these other variables, but indeed must be buttressed by them. This only points to further areas of research in which the analyst can discover the exact way in which Western culture, ideology and morality provide internal justification and motivation for the already proven hegemonic-economic agenda of Western policies, and their interplay with the phenomena of geopolitics and nationalism. To disprove the conclusion one has to show that the evidence galvanised for it is false - yet this is never done.

As Dr. Parenti points out:

“The existence of other variables such as nationalism, militarism, the search for national security, and the pursuit of power and hegemonic dominance, neither compels us to dismiss economic realities, nor to treat these other variables as insulated from class interests. Thus, the desire to extend US strategic power into a particular region is impelled at least in part by a desire to stabilize the area along lines that are favorable to politico-economic elite interests - which is why the region becomes a focus of concern in the first place. In other words, various considerations work with circular effect upon each other. The growth in overseas investments invites a need for military protection. This, in turn, creates a need to secure bases and establish alliances with other nations. The alliances now expand the ‘defense’ perimeter that must be maintained. So a particular country becomes not only an ‘essential’ asset for our defense but must itself be defended, like any other asset.”[170]

VI. Conclusions

The facts discussed in this paper constitute a significant challenge to the orthodox interpretation of the benign nature of U.S. policy. Indeed, they clarify that the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world is actually the United States, the self-appointed leader of what is euphemistically described as “civilisation”. This not only casts severe doubt on the legitimacy of the concept of “humanitarian intervention” as a viable way of understanding U.S./Western foreign policy; it demonstrates the consistently brutal nature of U.S. policy in the pursuit of corporate interests. Any meaningful attempt to understand developments in U.S. policy has to take this into account to remain accurate and insightful.

In this context, we can no longer pretend that it is meaningful to discuss the phenomenon of terrorism in the manner in which Western governments and mass media are now phrasing the matter, in the wake of the 11th September attacks. The United States does not possess a credible greater moral authority to label others as “terrorists” or “supporters of terrorism”, because it cannot truthfully disentangle itself from the horrid web of its own bloody record of terrorism. On the contrary, terrorism is an integral dimension of U.S. foreign policy, and is utilised almost whenever elite strategic and economic interests are at stake.

Naturally this has broad implications for the nature of the current crisis unfolding since the acts of terrorism against America which brought the World Trade Center down, killing and injuring thousands of innocent civilians in the process. There can be no justification for such a disgusting atrocity. Yet what occurred on that tragic day, unfortunately, is lesser in scale than the acts of terrorism inflicted by the United States on other countries around the world to secure its own interests. It is obfuscatory and ridiculous to claim that the terrorists behind this month’s attacks on America were simply attempting to wage war on the concepts of freedom and democracy. There is, indeed, no substantial evidence at all for that assertion. It is, on the other hand, reasonable to deduce that what happened is the very opposite.

For America is clearly not the bastion of freedom or democracy. The documentary record illustrates unequivocally that the United States, leading the Western powers, opposes genuine freedom and democracy throughout the world to impose its own hegemony and thereby secure its own elite interests. The terrorists behind the September attacks most probably saw themselves as waging war on the concept of America as the leading supporter of terrorism and dictatorship worldwide. In truth, these terrorists, whoever they were and are, fell into the same trap by unconscionably murdering innocent civilians to achieve this objective. And this is wrong. Yet it is also wrong to assume that America is innocent. It is also wrong to assume that America’s own policies had nothing to do with the tragedy of the 11th.

George Bush has told us that a new war has begun, a war against international terrorism. The reality is rather different. The West has been waging war on the weaker countries of the Third World for decades. And that war, war which extinguishes hope, which slaughters by the hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions, which impoverishes ruthlessly, which denies basic civil rights, which represses basic social and economic rights, is a war so brutal that it creates individuals who feel that the only way to resist is to fight back with the same tactics of terror taught to them by the policies of the West. Now this war has come home.

We must condemn the acts of terror of the 11th September with all our hearts, minds and souls. But we must also condemn the acts of terror carried out by the Western powers under U.S. leadership throughout the 20th – and into the 21st – centuries. And we must condemn the acts of terrorism which the West is preparing to commit in Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond, by exploiting the current crisis to secure long-standing interests in these regions.


[1] Carter, Jimmy, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, Vol. 1, No. 954, 1977

[2] Policy Planning Staff, ‘Review of current trends: US foreign policy’, 24 February, 1948, FRUS, Volume 1, Part 2, pp. 510-29

[3] See for example, Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq, America in Terror – Causes and Context: The Foundational Principles of Western Foreign Policy and the Structure of World Order, Media Monitors Network, September 2001,

[4] See note 10 for references.

[5] Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy Since 1945, Zed, London, 1995.

[6] Herman, Edward, ‘The Human Rights Charade’, Z Magazine, January 1998, . This url is the homepage of ZNet, the Internet-arm of the American political monthly Z Magazine, the archives of which are hosted at ZNet (  ). ZNet has been awarded by the Encyclopaedia Britannica for being a site of extraordinary depth, substance and integrity, and also comes recommended by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center.

[7] See Ahmed, Nafeez, The Colonial Holocaust and its Legacy: Colonialism and its Contemporary Legacy in the Establishment of Western Civil Society, Media Monitors Network, July 2001, 

[8] Michael Parenti received his PhD in political science from Yale University in 1962 and is the author of 14 widely acclaimed books on various aspects of US policy, all of which are worth studying in the context of the subject matter of this paper. He has taught at several colleges and universities, including the State University of New York, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Vermont, the City University of New York, and Howard University. His articles have appeared in respected journals, both mainstream and alternative, including Covert Action Quarterly; Monthly Review; Prevailing Winds; The Humanist; New Political Science; Nature, Society and Thought; The Nation; Z Magazine; Dollars and Sense; etc. His books, which have a large international readership, are enjoyed by both lay readers and scholars, and have been used extensively in US college courses (Michael Parenti Political Archive, ).

[9] Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, City Light Books, 1995, Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’.

[10] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, The Other Americas Radio, Santa Barbara, October 1987.

[11] For further information on U.S. foreign policy and its sysytematic opposition to human rights see especially Chomsky, Noam and Herman, Edward, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights, South End, Boston, 1979; Blum, William, The CIA: A forgotten history, Zed, London, 1986; Prados, John, President’s secret wars: CIA and Pentagon covert operations since world war II, William Morrow, New York, 1986; Kolko, Gabriel, Confronting the Third World: United States foreign policy 1945-1980, Pantheon, New York, 1988; Chomsky, Noam, Deterring Democracy, Vintage, London, 1994; Herman, Edward and Chomsky, Noam, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Vintage, London, 1994; Curtis, Mark, The Ambiguities of Power: British foreign policy since 1945, Zed, London, 1995; Blum, William, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 1995.

[12] Tehranian, Majid, ‘A Requiem for Realism?’, Peace & Policy, 3:1, Spring 1998.

[13] Smith, J. W., ‘Simultaneously Suppressing the World’s Break for Freedom’, Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the Twenty-First Century, M. E. Sharpe, New York, Armonk, 2000. Excerpts of this study can be found at Institute for Economic Democracy,  /. In his Killing Hope, former State Department official and investigative journalist William Blum confirms an even larger number of direct deaths than that produced by Smith.

[14] see LaFeber, Walter, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, Norton, 1984.

[15] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, The Other Americas Radio, Santa Barbara, October 1987.

[16] cited in ibid.; also see Kinzer, Stephen and Schlesinger, Stephen, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Doubleday, 1983 - Kinzer: a New York Times journalist; or Kwitny, Jonathan, Endless Enemies: America’s World Wide War Against Its Own Best Interests, Congdon and Weed, 1984 - Kwitny: a Wall Street Journal reporter.

[17] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, The Other Americas Radio, Santa Barbara, October 1987.

[18] ibid.

[19] cited in Pastor, Robert, Condemned to Repetition, Princeton, 1987.

[20] Burns, E. Bradford, At War in Nicaragua, Harper & Row, New York, 1987, p. 3.

[21] ibid., p. 2.

[22] cited in Melrose, Dianna, The threat of a good example?, Oxfam, Oxford, 1985, p. 11; Sklar, Holly, Washington’s war on Nicaragua, Between the Lines, Toronto, 1988, p. 36; see Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, op. cit., p. 157-8.

[23] La Feber, Walter, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, op. cit., p. 239.

[24] Kornbluh, Peter, Nicaragua: The Price of Intervention, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC, 1987, Chapter 1.

[25] cited in Melrose, The threat of a good example?, op. cit., p. 12.

[26] ibid., p. 13-14.

[27] Howe, Genevieve, ‘Nicaragua: Nearly gone & almost forgotten signs of hope admidst controversy and chaos’, Z Magazine, May 1997.

[28] discussion after ‘Chronicle’, ABC TV, Boston, 20 December 1989; cited in Chomsky, Noam, Deterring Democracy, Vintage, London, 1992, p. 143.

[29] Ekins, Paul, A New World Order: Grassroots Movements for Global Change, Routledge, London, 1992.

[30] New Republic, 2 May 1981; 2 April 1984. Also see New York Times, 14 March 1986; Washington Post National Weekly, 1 March 1986.

[31] see Herman, Edward and Chomsky, Noam, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Vintage, London, 1994, for a detailed analysis of the US bombardment of Nicaragua in comparison to US relations to Guatemala and El Salvador, and the subservience of the mainstream media to the government agenda; also see Blum, William, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 1995.

[32] from the 1980 Annual Human Rights Report and the 5 January 1981 press release of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, in Human Rights Internet Reporter, February-March 1981.

[33] ‘Salvador rightists accused of raiding Honduran sites’, Christian Science Monitor, 23 March 1981.

[34] Representative Gerry E. Studds (Mass.), ‘Central America, 1981’, Report to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, March 1981, Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1981.

[35] Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War, op. cit., p. 37.

[36] ibid., p. 45.

[37] Rohter, Larry, New York Times, 19 April 1997.

[38] Kinzer, Stephen, Boston Globe, 18 February 1980.

[39] AI report, Guatemala: a Government Programme of Political Murder, Amnesty International, London, 1981.

[40] Wild, Anthony, Manchester Guardian, 31 March 1980.

[41] See Ahmed, Nafeez, America in Terror – Causes and Context, op. cit.

[42] Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, op. cit., p. 152.

[43] Memorandum by Director of Central Intelligence to the Under Secretary of State, 12 December, 1952; NIE, 19 May 1953; in Foreign Relations of the United States 1952-1954, Vol. IV, 1055ff.

[44] For references see Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, South End Press, Boston, 1989, p. 263-64 and Deterring Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1991, 1992, p. 262-63.

[45] cited in Gleijeses, Piero, Shattered Hope, Princeton University Press, 1991, p. 365.

[46] cited in Hegstrom, Edward, Houston Chronicle, 26 February 1999.

[47] ‘American Republics’, Foreign Relations of the United States, US Department of State, 1961-63, Vol. XII, 13f, p. 33.

[48] Shultz, George, ‘Moral Principles and Strategic Interests’, speech at Kansas State University, 14 April 1986; in US Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Current Policy, p. 820.

[49] Sofaer, Abraham, ‘The United States and the World Court’, statement before Senate Foreign Relations Committee, December 1985; in Current Policy, p. 769. Also see Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Chapter 4; ‘Consent Without Consent: Reflections on the Theory and Practice of Democracy’, Cleveland State Review, 44.4, 1996.

[50] For more on US policy towards El Salvador and Guatemala, see McClintock, Michael, The American Connection, Vol. I State Terror and Popular Resistance in El Salvador, Vol II State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala, Zed, London, Also see Herman, Edward and Chomsky, Noam, Manufacturing Consent, op. cit.

[51] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, The Other Americas Radio, Santa Barbara, October 1987.

[52] ibid. See Melrose, Dianna. Nicaragua: The threat of a good example?, Oxfam, Oxford, 1985; Norsworthy, Kent and Robinson, William I., David and Goliath: The War Against Nicaragua,  Monthly Review Press, 1987.

[53] cited in Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Vintage, London, 1992., p. 296-7 and 315.

[54] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, op. cit.; Norsworthy, Kent and Robinson, William I., David and Goliath: The War Against Nicaragua,  Monthly Review Press, 1987.

[55] ibid. Elsewhere in this lecture Stockwell refers to an example of hard proof of the US terrorisation of Nicaragua: “If you want one example of hard proof of the CIA’s involvement in this, and their approach to it, dig up ‘The Sabotage Manual’, that they were circulating throughout Nicaragua, a comic-book type of a paper, with visual explanations of what you can do to bring a society to a halt, how you can gum up typewriters, what you can pour in a gas tank to burn up engines, what you can stuff in a sewage to stop up the sewage so it won’t work, things you can do to make a society simply cease to function.” Also see references noted by Stockwell himself: Brodie, Reed, Contra Terror - Reed is former assistant Attorney General of New York; Eich, Dieter, The Contras: Interviews with Anti-Sandinistas, Synthesis, 1985; Dickey, Christopher, With the Contras - Dickey is a mainstream journalist, who was in Nicaragua on a grant with the Council on Foreign Relations. He gives accounts of going on patrol with the contras, and describes their activities; Witness for Peace: What We have Seen and Heard; the Lawyer’s Commission on Human Rights; Americas Watch, The Violations of War on Both Sides.

[56] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, op. cit.

[57] ibid. CBS News, 7-8 November 1984.

[58] ibid.

[59] Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader, op. cit.

[60] ibid. Of relevance is Herman, Edward S., ‘`Objective` News as Systematic Propaganda: The New York Times on the 1984 Salvadorean and Nicaraguan Elections’, Covert Action Information Bulletin 21, Spring 1984.

[61] ibid.

[62] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, op. cit. See Hans, Dennis, ‘Duarte: The Man and the Myth’, Covert Action Information Bulletin, 26, Summer 1986.

[63] cited in Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, Vintage, London, 1992,. p. 143.

[64] Boston Globe, 26 October 1989.

[65] Associated Press, 26 October 1989; Norsworthy, Kent and Robinson, William I., David and Goliath: The War Against Nicaragua,  Monthly Review Press, 1987.

[66] Central America Report, Guatemala, 9 March, 2, 1990. Also see ‘The Electoral Process in Nicaragua: Domestic and International Influences’, Report of the LASA Delegation to Observe the Nicaraguan General Election of November 4, 1983, Latin American Studies Association (LASA), 19 November 1984; Norsworthy, Kent and Robinson, William I., David and Goliath: The War Against Nicaragua, Monthly Review Press, 1987. To derive a better idea of the US conception of Third World democracy and its purposes (i.e. installation of subservient tyrants, who allow Western monopolisation of regional resources), see Herman, Edward S. and Brodhead, Frank, Demonstration Elections: US-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador, South End Press, Boston, 1984.

[67] Phrase coined by French historian Marc Ferro.

[68] cited in Howe, Genevieve, ‘Nicaragua: Nearly gone & almost forgotten signs of hope admidst controversy and chaos’, Z Magazine, May 1997.

[69] ibid.; Envio, December 1996-January 1997.

[70] Howe, Genevieve, Z Magazine, May 1997.

[71] Stockwell, John, ‘The Secret Wars of the CIA’, op. cit. Stockwell points out that the evidence for these kinds of US operations is abundant. He refers to “Investigations by the Congress, testimony by CIA directors, testimony by CIA case officers, books written by CIA case officers, documents gotten out of the government under the freedom of information act, books that are written by pulitzer-prize-winning journalists who’ve documented their cases. And you can go and read from these things, classic CIA operations that we know about, some of them very bloody indeed. Guatemala 1954, Brazil, Guyana, Chile, the Congo, Iran, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Equador, Uruguay - the CIA organized the overthrow of constitutional democracies.” Some of the references Stockwell cites are as follows: Godswood, Roy (ed.), Covert Actions: 35 Years of Deception, Transaction, 1980; Stone, I. F., The Hidden History of the Korean War, Monthly Review, 1969; McGhee, Ralph, Deadly Deceits: My Twenty Five Years in the CIA, Sheridan Square, 1983 for Vietnam analysis. Also see Chomsky,  Deterring Democracy, op. cit. For documentation of the situation in Latin America in the 1990s thanks to US policies see Chomsky, Noam, World Orders, Old and New, Pluto Press, London, 1997.

[72] Stockwell, John, The Praetorian Guard: The US  in the New International Security State, South End Press, December 1990. For more on the Chile coup, see Kornbluh, Peter, ‘The Chile Coup - the US Hand’, iF magazine, The Media Consortium, 25 October 1998.

[73] Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, op. cit.

[74] Catholic Institute of International Relations (CIIR), Chile, CIIR, London, 1986, p. 8-10.

[75] cited in Chomsky, Noam, Turning the tide, Black Rose, Montreal, 1987, p. 67-8.

[76] Stockwell, The Praetorian Guard, op. cit.

[77] cited in ibid. For the documentation that unequivocally refutes Kissinger’s later attempts to justify the US subverstion of Allende’s democractically elected government, see Uribe, Armando, Le Monde diplomatique, December 1979.

[78] CIIR, Chile, op. cit., p. 25-7.

[79] CIIR, Chile, op. cit., p. 16; Foxley, Alejandro, ‘The neoconservative economic experiment in Chile’, in Valenzuela, Samuel and  Valenzuela, Arturo, Military rule in Chile: Dictatorship and oppositions, John Hopkins University Press, London, 1986, p. 44.

[80] Bello, Walden, et. al., Dark Victory: The United States, Structural Adjustment and Global Poverty, Pluto Press, London, p. 42-5.

[81] CIIR, Chile, op. cit., p. 27-8.

[82] Letter from Janet Johnstone, Director of Amnesty International’s British section, to The Guardian, 30 November 1982; cited in Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, op. cit.

[83] CIIR, Chile, op. cit., p. 27-8

[84] see ‘Nuclear deal with Chile is on’, The Guardian, 10 February 1983; ‘Chile defence pact confirmed’, New Statesman and Society, 7 June 1985; ‘Whitehall backs arms sales to Chile’, Guardian, 2 May 1985.

[85] McChesney, Robert W., ‘Introduction’, in Chomsky, Noam, Profit Over People: neoliberalism and global order, Seven Stories Press, London, 1999, p. 9.

[86] cited in Pilger, John, Hidden Agendas, Vintage, 1998, p. 123. For an overview of Chilean terror and its Western supporters, see O’Shaughnessy, Hugh, Pinochet: The Politics of Torture, Barnes & Noble, 2000.

[87] Stork, Joe, ‘Human Rights and US Policy’, Foreign Policy In Focus, Vol. 4, No. 8, March 1999.

[88] Komisar, Lucy, ‘Documented Complicity’, The Progressive, September 1999, Vol. 63, No. 9; for an analytical glimpse of the documents see Komisar’s paper.

[89] Komisar, Lucy, ‘Kissinger Declassified’, The Progressive, May 1999, Vol. 63, No. 5. For an insight into the dictatorial legacy of the Western-backed regime in today’s Chile see, for instance, HRW report, Limits of Tolerance: Freedom of Expression and the Public Debate in Chile, Human Rights Watch, New York, November 1998.

[90] US report of the Special ‘Ad Hoc’ Committee of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, 21 April 1947, FRUS, 1947, Vol. III, p. 209.

[91] Chomsky, Noam, The Chomsky Reader, op. cit., p. 322.

[92] US officials; for discussion see Chomsky, Noam, For Reasons of State, Pantheon, New York, 1973, chapter 1, section 5.

[93] Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, op. cit., Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’.

[94] the CIA, cited in Kolko, Gabriel, Vietnam: Anatomy of a war, 1940-1975, Pantheon, New York, 1985, p. 84.

[95] Eisenhower, Dwight D., ‘Mandate for Change’; cited in McGhee, Ralph, ‘The American Invasion of Vietnam’, NY Transfer News Collective, 1 November 1997,  .

[96] Secretary of State to the Embassy in France, 3 February 1947, FRUS, 1947, Vol. VI, p. 67.

[97] Consul in Saigon to Secretary of State, 20 November 1947, FRUS, 1947, Vol. VI, p. 149.

[98] cited in Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, op. cit., p. 149.

[99] Drake, Jeff, ‘How the US Got Involved in Vietnam’, Vietnam Veterans Home Page, 1994, 

[100] See the analyses of US operations in Vietnam in Chomsky, Noam, Towards a New Cold War, Sinclair Brown, London, 1982, where Chomsky points to the documentary record - in particular the Pentagon Papers - which show beyond doubt that US motivations for the invasion of Vietnam had nothing to do with aiding the Vietnamese along the path of self-determination. Rather, as the Pentagon Papers reveal for instance, the US knew full well that Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh was a popular nationalist movement with no connection to international communism. For further discussion see Nighswonger, William A. Rural Pacification in Vietnam, Praeger, New York, 1967; Patti, Archimedes, L. A., Why Vietnam: Prelude to America’s Albatross, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980; Porter, Gareth, Vietnam: The Definitive Documentation, Coleman, Stanfordville, New York, 1979; Chomsky, Noam, At War with Asia, Pantheon, New York, 1970; Chomsky, Noam, For Reasons of State, Pantheon, New York, 1970.

[101] according to US officials; cited in Chomsky, Noam and Herman, Edward, Turning the Tide, op. cit.; also cited in Chomsky, Noam and Herman, Edward, The Washington Connection and Third World fascism, South End, Boston, 1979.

[102] Kolko, Vietnam: Anatomy of a war, 1940-1975, op. cit., p. 89-90

[103] ibid., p. 107. According to Pentagon Paper analysts, “... we must note that South Vietnam (unlike any of the other countries in Southeat Asia) was essentially the creation of the United States. Without US support Diem almost certainly could not have consolidated his hold on the South during 1955 and 1956. Without the threat of US intervention, South Vietnam could not have refused to even discuss the elections called for in 1956 under the Geneva settlement without being immediately overrun by the Viet Minh armies. Without US aid in the years following, the Diem regime certainly, and an independent South Vietnam most certainly, could not have survived.” (Analyst, The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Vol. 2, p. 22, Beacon Press, Boston, 1971). Also see Drake, Jeff, ‘How the US Got Involved in Vietnam’, Vietnam Veterans Home Page, 1994,  .

[104] McGhee, Ralph, ‘The American Invasion of Vietnam’, NY Transfer News Collective, New York, 1 November 1997,  /; McGhee’s op-ed in the Washington Post, 1 May 1981. McGhee served 25 years in the CIA, 14 years overseas as an operations officer and 11 years at its headquarters. Upon leaving the CIA, McGhee wrote the book Deadly Deceits and began the multi-year process of compiling the research software CIABASE. McGhee is a recognised authority on the CIA, has testified many times both in Congress and in the courts, and has appeared numerous times on radio and TV.

[105] McClintock, Michael, Instruments of Statecraft, Pantheon, 1992, p. 227. Also see McClintock, ‘American Doctrine and Counterinsurgent State Terror’, in George, A. (ed.), Western State Terrorism, Polity-Blackwell, 1991.

[106] cited in Chomsky, For Reasons of State, op. cit., 1973, pp. 232-33.

[107] McGhee, Ralph, ‘The American Invasion of Vietnam’, op. cit.; Washington Post op-ed, op. cit. Also see McGhee’s CIA Covert Activities database.

[108] ‘Invasion Newspeak: US and USSR’, Extra!, December 1989; Extra! is the journal of the US-based media-watch & research organisation, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR),  . Also see Kolko, Gabriel, Vietnam: Anatomy of a war, 1940-1975, op. cit.; Kolko, Vietnam: Anatomy of a peace, Routledge, London, 1997, p. 102; Chomsky, Noam and Herman, Edward S., After the cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the reconstruction of imperial ideology, Spokesman, Nottingham, 1979; Chomsky, Towards a New Cold War, op. cit.; Chomsky, For Reasons of State, op. cit.; Nighswonger, William A. Rural Pacification in Vietnam, op. cit.; Patti, Archimedes, L. A., Why Vietnam: Prelude to America’s Albatross, op. cit.; Porter, Gareth, Vietnam: The Definitive Documentation, op. cit.

[109] cited in Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, p. 38f.

[110] Waldman, Peter, ‘In Vietnam, the Agony of Birth Defects Calls an Old War to Mind’, Wall Street Journal, 18 February 1997.

[111] See note 108.

[112] Zarute-Laun, Cecilia, ‘The War On Drugs From The Supply Side: Report from the front’, Z Magazine, August 1998. Zarute-Laun is co-founder of the US-based Colombia Support Network (CSN).

[113] cited in Chomsky, Noam, World Orders, Old and New, Pluto Press, London, 1997, p. 61.

[114] Zarute-Laun, Cecilia, ‘The War On Drugs From The Supply Side: Report from the front’, Z Magazine, August 1998.

[115] Colombian Human Rights Committee, Colombia Update, December 1989; cited in Chomsky, World Orders, Old and New, op. cit., p. 61.

[116] Chien, Arnold, Margaret Connors, Kenneth Fox, ‘The Drug War in Perspective’, in Kim, J. Y., J. Millen, A. Irwin, J. Gersham (eds.), Dying for Growth, Institute for Health and Social Justice/Partners in Health, Cambridge, Common Courage Press, 2000.

[117] AI news release, ‘Colombia: Fundamental human rights are not negotiable: President Andres Pastrana must take urgent action end Colombia’s escalating reign of terror’, Amnesty International, London, 9 September 1998; Giraldo S. J., Javier, Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1996.

[118] AI news release, ‘Colombia: One Million People Internally Displaced by the Armed Conflict’, Amnesty International, London, 1 October 1997.

[119] HRW, World Report 1998, Human Rights Watch, New York, 1999; figures from Permanant Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia (March 1999), cited by Colombia Support Network (CSN), web-site at .

[120] US State Department, ‘Colombia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998’.

[121] Colombian Commission of Jurists, ‘Panorama de los derechos humanos y del derecho humanitario en Colombia: 1999’, September 1999, in Colombia Update 11:3-4, Winter/Spring 2000.

[122] Bland, Daniel, ‘Colombia: Don’t forget the lessons of Salvador’, Los Angeles Times, 10 April 2000

[123] cited in Lemoine, Maurice, ‘The Endless Undeclared Civil War’, Le Monde diplomatique, May 2000.

[124] HRW, World Report 1998, op. cit.

[125] Ibid.

[126] Carrigan, Ana, ‘Dogs of war are loose in Colombia’, Irish Times, 6 May 2000.

[127] UN report cited in Hodgson, Martin, Christian Science Monitor, 26 April 2000; HRW report, The Ties That Bind: Colombia and Military-Paramilitary Links, February 2000.

[128] US Department of State, Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Washington DC, 1999, 1998.

[129] AI report, Amnesty Action: The Colombia Papers, Amnesty International, London, Winter 1997.

[130] HRW, World Report 1998, op. cit.

[131] Knoester, Matthew, ‘Washington’s Role in Colombian Repression’, ZNet, /

[132] Human Rights Watch, World Report 1998, op. cit.

[133] ibid.

[134] Human Rights Watch, The Ties That Bind: Colombia and Military-Paramilitary Links, Human Rights Watch, New York, February 2000, Vol. 12, No. 1 (B).

[135] Gonzales, Patrisia and Rodriguez, Roberto, ‘The Guatemalization of Colombia’, News Column of the Americas, Universal Press Syndicate, March 1999, at CSN web-site,  .

[136] ‘Nato’s Balkan intervention marks a turning point in the global order’, Guardian, 17 May 1999. For further documentation of the linkage between US Cold War strategies, violence in Colombia, and CIA and Pentagon support of paramilities in Colombia since the 1950s, see especially HRW report, Colombia’s Killer Networks: The Military-Paramilitary Partnership and the US, Human Rights Watch, New York, November 1996; also see HRW report, The Ties That Bind: Colombia and Military-Paramilitary Links, February 2000. Noam Chomsky has also discussed the history of US - along with British, German, Taiwanese and Israeli - support of Colombian military and paramilitary atrocities; see Chomsky, Noam, ‘No Human Being is Disposable’, Noam Chomsky Archive web-site,  ; also see Chomsky, World Orders, Old and New, op. cit., p. 54-62.

[137] International Action Center, ‘Three US activisits killed in Colombia: Their deaths must not serve the Pentagon’s war plans’, International Action Center, New York, 1999, web-site at  .

[138] Colombia Support Group of Minnesota, ‘Denounce Paramilitary Threats toward San Pablo’, Colombia Support Group of Minnesota, Minnesota, 29 July 1999, cited by Colombia Support Network (CSN), web-site at  .

[139] U’wa Defense Working Group press release, ‘USA: Oil Project Ignites More Violence Against Colombian Tribe’, 26 June 2000.

[140] Colombia Support Network Urgent Action alert, ‘Protest NBC Nightly News Report’, Letter from CSN National Office to NBC Nightly News, Colombia Support Network, Madison, September 1999, .

[141] Colombia Support Network Urgent Action alert, ‘Protest Misuse of US Military Aid to Colombia’, Colombia Support Network, Madison, June 1999, .

[142] US General Accounting Office, Drug Control: Narcotics Threat from Colombia Continues to Grow, June 1999.

[143] Donnelly, John, Boston Globe, 9 March 2000; ‘Paramilitary Lead Goes Public’, Latinamerica Press, 20 March 2000.

[144] Cala, Andres, ‘The Enigmatic Guerrilla: FARC’s Manuel Marulanda’, Current History, February 2000.

[145] De Young, Karen, ‘Colombia’s Non-Drug Rebellion’, Washington Post National Weekly, 17 April 2000.

[146] Cala, Andres, ‘The Enigmatic Guerrilla: FARC’s Manuel Marulanda’, op. cit.; Meza, Ricardo Vargas, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Illicit Drug Trade, Accion Andina, TNI, Washington Office On Latin America, Washington DC, June 1999.

[147] IAC press release, ‘US Biowarfare Against the Colombian People’, International Action Center, New York, 7 July 2000,

[148] cited in Pilger, John, ‘Phony War: The US is planning a massive intervention in Colombia under the pretext of fighting the `narco-guerrilla`’, The Guardian, 19 October 1999.

[149] Dissenting Views of Hon. Nancy Pelosi and Hon. David Obey in House Committee Report 106-521 on H. R. 3902, 14 March 2000; distributed by Washington Office on Latin America, Washington DC.

[150] Stratfor Global Intelligence Update, ‘US Proposes Intervention Forces for Latin American Crises’, Stratfor, Austin, 10 June 1999. Of interest in relation to the purely logistical problems of US policy is Robinson, Linda, ‘Where Angel’s Fear to Tread: Colombia and Latin America’s Tier of Turmoil’, World Policy Journal, Vol. XVI, No. 4, Winter 1999/2000.

[151] Colombia Support Network Urgent Action alert, ‘Protest US for Latin American Intervention’, Colombia Support Network, Madison, June 1999, ; for more on Colombia see Giraldo, Javier, Colombia: The Genocidal Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1996; also see Human Rights Watch annual report on Colombia, War Without Quarter, Human Rights Watch, New York, 1998.

[152] Zarute-Laun, Cecilia, ‘The War On Drugs From The Supply Side: Report from the front’, Z Magazine, August 1998.

[153] Chien, et. al., ‘The Drug War in Perspective’, in Kim, J. Y. et. al. (eds.), Dying for Growth, Institute for Health and Social Justice/Partners in Health, op. cit.

[154] Pilger, John, ‘Phony War: The US is planning a massive intervention in Colombia under the pretext of fighting the `narco-guerrilla`’, The Guardian, 19 October 1999.

[155] Ticker, Arlene, ‘Colombia: Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold’, Current History, February 1998.

[156] Robinson, Gwen and Wilson, James, Financial Times, 30 March 2000; Isikoff, Michael, Gregory Vistica, Steven Ambrus, ‘The Other Drug War’, Newsweek, 3 April 2000.

[157] U’wa Defense Working Group press release, ‘USA: Oil Project Ignites More Violence Against Colombian Tribe’, 26 June 2000. Of interest in relation to the purely logistical problems of US policy is Robinson, Linda, ‘Where Angel’s Fear to Tread: Colombia and Latin America’s Tier of Turmoil’, World Policy Journal, Vol. XVI, No. 4, Winter 1999/2000.

[158] IAC press release, ‘US Biowarfare Against the Colombian People’, International Action Center, New York, 7 July 2000,

[159] ibid.

[160] Pilger, John, The Guardian, 19 October 1999.

[161] Solomon, Norman, ‘British Media Exposes CIA-Cocaine Links’, Media Beat, distributed by Creators Syndicate, available at the web-site of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR),  . Also see work by Norman Solomon with a team of researchers at the media watch group FAIR (  ) to evaluate attacks on the San Jose Mercury News series; their report is titled Snow Job, and is available at . See especially Blum, William, ‘The CIA, Contras, Gangs and Crack’, Foreign Policy In Focus, Vol. 1, No. 12, November 1996.

[162] Weeks, John and Gunson, Phil, Panama: Made in the USA, LAB, London, 1991, pp. 13-14.

[163] Chomsky, Noam, Chronicles of Dissent, Common Courage Press, Monroe, 1992. For extensive documentation see especially Dinges, John, Our Man in Panama, Random House, New York, 1991; Waas, Murray, ‘Cocaine and the White House Connection’, Los Angeles Weekly, 30 September-6 October and 7-13 October, 1988; National Security Archive Documentation Packet, The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations Washington, DC. Also see Franklin, Jane, The US Invasion of Panama: The Truth Behind Operation “Just Cause”, South End Press, Boston, 1991.

[164] See Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power, Zed, London, 1995, for analysis of this dimension of the Anglo-American ‘special-relationship’.

[165] Hurd, Weekly Hansard, No. 1505, Vol. 164, No. 20, 20 December 1989, Col. 357; ‘Washington’s illegal invasion’, Foreign Policy, No. 79, Summer 1990; Quigley, John, ‘The invasion of Panama and international law’, International Progress Organisation, Vienna, 1990; Weeks, John and Gunson, Phil, Panama: Made in the USA, op. cit.

[166] For references see Chomsky, Noam, World Orders, Old and New, op. cit., p. 13.

[167] Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, op. cit., Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’.

[168] Falk, Richard, ‘Forward’ in Bodenheimer, Thomas and Gould, Robert, Rollback: Right-wing power in US foreign policy, South End Press, Boston, 1989.

[169] Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, op. cit., Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’. See especially Shields, Janice C., Special Report, ‘Corporate Welfare and Foreign Policy’, Foreign Policy In Focus, ; Hartung, William D., ‘Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: How Weapon Makers Are Shaping US Foreign and Military Policies’, Foreign Policy In Focus, 8 June 1999, .

[170] Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, op. cit., Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’.

Mr. Nafeez Ahmed is a political analyst and human rights activist based in London. He is Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and a Researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission.


by courtesy & © 2001 Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

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