Regime Change: An American Addiction
- Regime Change: An American Addiction
by William Hughes
"The seizure of faraway lands by America...is a perversion of our
national mission." - President Grover Cleveland, in 1893.
It didn't start with the U.S.'s Neocon-inspired invasion of Iraq in
March, 2003. Whether knowingly or not, the morally bankrupt
Bush-Cheney Gang was following an imperial script which is over 110
years old. During that period, the U.S. has "overthrown fourteen
governments that displeased it for various ideological, political and
economic reasons," writes Stephen Kinzer, in his riveting book,
"Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq."
Why did America betray its values and become itself a brutal
colonizer? Well, after you blow away all the baloney about "national
security and liberation," Kinzer reveals: "The U.S. acted mainly for
`economic' reasons--specifically, to establish, promote and defend the
right of `Americans' to do business around the world without
interference." By "Americans," Kinzer mostly means the giant
Each of the respective countries on which the U.S. forced a regime
change followed a basic kind of pattern, an M.O., if you please.
Unfortunately, for our closest neighbors in Central and South America,
they felt, more than any other nations, the consistent brunt of our
greedy, violent, murderous and racist reach. Destabilization and
intervention were two of our tactics, which often times resulted in
horrific consequences for the targeted country and their inhabitants.
Kinzer puts it this way: "Almost every American overthrow...left in
its wake a bitter residue of pain and anger. Some have led to the
slaughter of innocents...The U.S. was willing to support any governing
clique, `no matter how odious,' as long as it did America's bidding."
Over time, Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rica, Panama, Chile, Grenada,
Nicaragua and Honduras to our South were subjected to some type of
coercive, gangster-like intervention from the U.S. bully. Sometimes,
it took the form of a direct invasion by military forces, like in
Panama and Grenada. In other cases, the CIA initiated covert activity
to bring the targeted regime to its knees.
Take Honduras as a prime example of how "regime change" worked in
Central America. What the U.S. did there reads like a script of
fiction. Yet, it's all true. It really did happen. Kinzer shows that
in 1910, a "soldier of fortune," Lee Christmas, conspired with the
rapacious Sam Zemurray, a wheeler-dealer planter in Central America,
along with an Honduras native, Manuel Bonilla, to take over that
country. The conspiracy was hatched in New Orleans. All the wrongdoing
was accomplished with the support, on a nod and wink basis, of the
U.S. government. Christmas was to supply the muscle for the illegal
coup, (think mercenary army). Zemurray provided the money to pay the
hired thugs and to purchase the necessary weapons, and Bonilla was to
be installed as "The President." Thanks to some timely gunboat
diplomacy from the U.S., via its naval vessels, Marietta and Tacoma,
it became a done deal by Nov. 1912. Honduras, a liberal democracy
under its then President Miguel Davila, was never the same again.
Here is how the author describes Zemurray: "`Sam the Banana Man' was
one of the most colorful figures in the history of... capitalism...
Some Jews considered him an exemplary figure of their Diaspora, an
immigrant from Eastern Europe...[who] rose to great wealth and power.
In Honduras, people know him as the man who `overthrew' their
government and `took over' their country."
After "President Bonilla" was installed, he rewarded Zemurray "10,000
hectares of banana land--about 24,700 acres--near the north coast.
Later he added 10,000 hectares near the Guatemala border." Zemurray
was also allowed "to import whatever he needed, duty-free. Finally,
[President Bonilla] authorized Zemurray to raise a $500,000 loan in
the name of the Honduran government, and to use the money to repay
himself for what he claimed to have spent organizing the
revolution...With assets like these, it is no wonder Zemurray soon
became known as the `uncrowned king of Central America'...Later
[Zemurray] merged his enterprises with UNITED FRUIT...Four decades
later, this uniquely powerful company would help overthrow another
Central American government."
The corrupt takeover in Honduras was repeated time and again, with
various schemes, by U.S. interests, (corporate and government
combined], in Central America. When I think about how a slippery
character, like Zemurray, was permitted to profit so unfairly at the
expense of generations of Honduran citizens, the word "Reparations"
jumps out at me. If ever there was a case that cries out for justice,
it's this one!
Recently, I was in Costa Rica for a holiday. It's located south of
Nicaragua and north of Panama. It's a lovely little country that has
mostly been spared the blood-stained upheavals experienced by many of
its unfortunate neighbors, who fell under the hegemony of Wall
Street-based interests. Bananas and coffee are its main exports and
the people are very friendly, with a high literacy rate. In 1948 Costa
Rica abolished its army! Tourism is booming in this Caribbean paradise
of myriad natural wonders. (1) Although it has its share of problems,
its outlook is positive. If we ever learn to keep our
corporate/government hands off of other countries, Costa Rica can be
the future for all of our neighbors.
On another front, the U.S., with the Brits as a partner, orchestrated
a violent coup in Iran back in 1953. This subject comes up in Kinzer's
book, although his definitive account of that massive crime against
the Iranian people is recorded more fully in his excellent tome, "All
the Shah's Men." I'm also highly recommending that book to readers. It
is well documented and you will find it difficult to put down. Query:
Why doesn't Hollywood do a movie about that U.S. induced "regime
Enter Ted Koppel! I remember when that gabby news-reader first started
out in 1979, with his popular "America Held Hostage" shows about the
Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. What Koppel never
told his ABC-TV audiences, however, was how the U.S. and British
governments (on behalf of "Big Oil') had plotted a coup d'etat
("Operation Ajax") in Iran, in 1953. It unseated the
then-democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad
Mossadegh. They (the CIA and British Intelligence] replaced him with a
tyrannical stooge, one Mohammad Reza Shah. It was the Shah's ultra
corrupt regime which in turn inspired the student-led 1979 Islamic
Revolution in Iran. If you want to know why we're really hated in the
Islamic World, this is one of the many reasons why. Think BLOWBACK! (3)
As I had written earlier, the 1953 Iranian coup "was critical
background material that I don't recall Koppel ever revealing. In
addition, by `Nightline' playing, ad infinitum, the hostage situation,
it helped to undermine [support for] Democratic President Jimmy Carter
and, eventually, it led to the GOP's Ronald Reagan capturing the White
House, in 1980. Once in office, Reagan began to systematically
undercut the social justice programs enacted under FDR's `New Deal.'
He also greatly enlarged the Pentagon's budget, assaulted Organized
Labor, [introduced the `Racket of `Deregulation' all to the glee of
the Wall Street Wirepullers], and created national deficits of
unprecedented proportions." (4)
Finally, the U.S. record in overthrowing governments around the world
is a sordid one. It is also a stain on our Republic as Kinzer's book
so resounding shows. On a karmic level, some of the evil we've
unleashed by our numerous criminal enterprises has, indeed, come home
to roost. It is long past the time for our Republic to end this
"perversion of its historic mission."
2. See, "All The Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle
East Terror," by Stephen Kinzer.
3. "Blowback" by Chalmers Johnson. Check out:
William Hughes is a video and print journalist. His videos can be
found at: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=liamh2.
Email Contact: liamhughes @ comcast.net.
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