Thursday, May 29, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Europe and Ukraine: A tale of two elections
Published time: May 27, 2014 09:26
Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko walks in front of screen displaying results of the presidential elections in Ukraine prior his press-conference in Kiev on May 26, 2014. (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)
The regime changers in Kiev decided to hold a presidential election on May 25, the same day as European Parliament elections, in order to demonstrate their desire to follow a European-centric foreign policy.Circumstances surrounding the European and Ukrainian elections were far from being a mere coincidence.
Talk about two elections somewhat joined at the hip! In the end, the Ukraine election did actually represent European foreign policy in action – manifested in regime change leading to the specter of civil war.
Few in Europe would have noticed how this process is so far away from “democracy” –instead enshrining intolerance and an ideology of blind confrontation, as represented by this “debate” in Kiev driven by a clueless Yale historian.
Key facts that should be understaood are how the West ignored the Odessa massacre, as well as the detention of Russian journalists; and how the West dismissed the aspirations of eastern and southern Ukrainians as the work of “pro-Russians” or “terrorists.” These people simply became objects of repression - fully supervised by the West, with now the whole regime change theatre of the absurd in Kiev legitimized through an election charade.
Way beyond the established fact of an Atlantic push against Russian western borderlands, Ukraine remains a catfight of local oligarchies. No wonder the new Ukrainian president is also an oligarch; the 7th wealthiest citizen in the land, who owns not just a chocolate empire, but also automotive plants, a shipyard in Crimea and a TV channel. The only difference is that he’s a NATO oligarch
It’s the economy, stupid
Meanwhile, in NATOstan, local and transnational elites have been desperately trying to spin a measure of success. Abstention remains notable – only roughly 4 in 10 Europeans take the trouble to vote on what goes on in Strasbourg, with a majority alienated enough to legitimize the mix of internal European austerity and international belligerence.
Yet the vote on Sunday went way beyond “anti-establishment,” nationalist – and frankly xenophobic or even fascistic – parties consolidating the rejection of “more EU.”
Hardly discussed in the pre-vote campaigns were the Snowden NSA revelations; the shady negotiations between Washington and Brussels over a free trade agreement which will be a boon for US Big Business; and how the financial casino supervised by the European Central Bank, the IMF, and the European Commission (EC) will remain untouched, further ravaging the European middle classes.
The anti-EU crowd performed very well in France, the UK, Denmark and Greece. Not so well in Italy and the Netherlands. The mainstream did relatively well in Germany and ultraconservative Spain – even though losing votes to small parties.
A general view shows press crews working in the hemicycle of the European Parliament during the announcement of the European Parliament elections results on May 25, 2014 in Brussels. (AFP Photo / Georges Gobet)
In Italy, the ruling Democratic Party of current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi did very well (almost 41 percent). The Italian Tony Blair keeps promising a vague “radical reform” – whatever that means. As for the anti-establishment 5 Star party of comedian Beppe Grillo, it lost a lot of votes.
In regions such as northwest France, which includes Normandy – a traditional bastion of the Left – Marine Le Pen’s National Front got a whopping 32.6 percent of the vote. With Francois Hollande’s pathetic socialists in power, Le Pen could not but have the last laugh.
And that duly prompted a portentous intellectual nullity such as the former executive editor of the International Herald Tribune to roar that Marine Le Pen is the French Vladimir Putin.
Essentially, European voters said two things out loud: either “the EU sucks,” or “we couldn’t care less about you, Eurocrat suckers.”
As if that sea of lavishly pensioned Brussels apparatchiks – the Eurocrats - would care. After all, their mantra is that “democracy” is only good for others (even Ukrainians…) but not for the EU; when the European flock of sheep votes, they should only be allowed to pick obscure Brussels-peddled and Brussels-approved treaties.
Brussels, anyway, is bound to remain the Kafkaesque political epitome of centralized control and red tape run amok. No wonder the EU is breathlessly pivoting with itself as the global economy relentlessly pivots to Asia.
Follow the money
To believe that an EU under troika austerity will bail Kiev out of its massive outstanding debts is wishful thinking. The recipe - already inbuilt in the $17 billion IMF “rescue” package is, of course, austerity.
Oligarchs will remain in control, while assorted plunderers are already lining up. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – for whom hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children were expendable –“observed” the elections, and most of all observed how to privatize Telecom Ukraine, as she is doing now with Telekom Kosovo.
There’s no evidence Right Sector and Svoboda will cease to be crypto-fascist, racist and intolerant just because Poroshenko – the King of Ukrainian Chocolate – is now the president. By the way, his margin for maneuver is slim, as his own markets – not to mention some of his factories – are in Russia. Heavy industry and the weapons industry in eastern Ukraine depend on Russian demand. It would take at least a whopping $276 billion for the West to “stabilize” eastern Ukraine. The notion of the EU “saving” Ukraine is D.O.A.
Moscow, once again, just needs to do what it is doing: nothing. And make sure there will be no economic or political help unless a federalized – and Finlandized - Ukraine with strong regions sees the light of day.
Even the Brookings Institution has reluctantly been forced to admit that the US neo-con gambit has failed miserably; there’s no Ukraine without Russian help.
A man assists a woman with the casting of her ballot at polling station in the southern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk on May 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatolii Stepanov)
So it’s up to the Chocolate King to prove himself a leader of all Ukrainians, and only then will he have a shot at entente cordiale with – and even help from - Moscow.
Signs so far are mixed. Poroshenko said Ukraine could “possibly” become an EU member state by 2025 (it won’t happen). He ruled out entering NATO (wise move). He rejects federalization (dumb move). He believes that with a strong economy Crimea would want to be back (wishful thinking). Still, he believes in reaching a compromise with Moscow (that’s what Moscow always wanted, even before regime change).
What a mess
Back in NATOstan, there’s the crucial point of what happens to the ultra-right-wing anti-EU brigade in the Parliament in Strasbourg. They may all abhor the EU, but the fact is this ideological basket case will hardly form an alliance.
An alliance would mean at least 25 Parliament members coming from at least 7 different countries. Marine Le Pen has already stepped into the ring. She has an agreement with the nasty Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and could also count on the Austrian FPO and the Belgian Vlaams Belang. The Swedish Democrats – which are in fact crypto-Nazis – are sitting on the fence. The Greek neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn and the Hungarian Jobbik are out. As for UKIP, they definitely don't see themselves as part of this “family.”
What this ultimately means is that conservative and moderate parties, as per the status quo, will remain in control, expressed via an extremely likely coalition of the European People’s Party (center-right) and the Socialists and Democrats (center-left).
What comes next, in the second half of 2014, is the appointment of a new EU Commission. That’s Kafka redux, as in the bureaucrat-infested executive arm of the EU, which shapes the agenda, sort of (when it’s not busy distributing subventions in color-coded folders for assorted European cows.)
There are 5 candidates fighting for the position of EC president. According to the current EU treaty, member states have to consider the result of EU Parliament elections when appointing a new president. Germany wants a conservative. France and Italy want a socialist. So expect a tortuous debate ahead to find who will succeed the spectacularly mediocre Jose Manuel Barroso.
The favorite is a right-winger of the European People’s Party, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker. He is an avid defender of banking secrecy while posing himself as a champion of“market social economy.”
Then there’s more Kafka: choosing the new president of the EU Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. Translation: the EU won’t decide anything, or “reform” anything for months. That includes the critical negotiations with the Americans over the free trade deal.
It’s absolutely impossible to spin these Sunday elections as not discrediting even more the EU project as it stands.
As I’ve seen for myself, since early 2014, in 5 among the top EU countries, what matters for the average citizen is as follows: how to deal with immigration; how to fight the eradication of the welfare state; the implications of the free trade agreement with the US; the value of the euro –including an absurdly high cost of living; and what the ECB mafia is actually doing to fight unemployment.
With Kafka in charge for the foreseeable future, what’s certain is that Paris and Berlin will drift further and further apart. There will be no redesign of the EU’s institutions. And the next Parliament, filled with sound and fury, will be no more than a hostage of the devastating, inexorable political fragmentation of Europe.“Saving” Ukraine? What a joke. The EU cannot even save itself.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Sunday, May 25, 2014
FROM WOUNDED KNEE TO LIBYA:
A CENTURY OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS
by Dr. Zoltan Grossman
The following is a partial list of U.S. military interventions from 1890 to 2011.
Below the list is a Briefing on the History of U.S. Military Interventions.
The list and briefing are also available as a powerpoint presentation.
This guide does not include:
- mobilizations of the National Guard
- offshore shows of naval strength
- reinforcements of embassy personnel
- the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration)
- military exercises
- non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers)
- the permanent stationing of armed forces
- covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role
- the use of small hostage rescue units
- most uses of proxy troops
- U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes
- foreign or domestic disaster assistance
- military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat
- civic action programs
- and many other military activities.
Versions of this list have been published on Zmag.org, Neravt.com, and numerous other websites.
Translations of list: Spanish French Turkish Italian Chinese Greek Russian Czech Tamil Portuguese
Quotes in Christian Science Monitor and The Independent
Turkish newspaper urges that the United States be listed in Guinness Book of World Records as the Country with the Most Foreign Interventions.
|COUNTRY OR STATE||Dates of intervention||Forces||Comments|
|SOUTH DAKOTA||1890 (-?)||Troops||300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.|
|ARGENTINA||1890||Troops||Buenos Aires interests protected.|
|CHILE||1891||Troops||Marines clash with nationalist rebels.|
|HAITI||1891||Troops||Black revolt on Navassa defeated.|
|IDAHO||1892||Troops||Army suppresses silver miners' strike.|
|HAWAII||1893 (-?)||Naval, troops||Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.|
|CHICAGO||1894||Troops||Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.|
|NICARAGUA||1894||Troops||Month-long occupation of Bluefields.|
|CHINA||1894-95||Naval, troops||Marines land in Sino-Japanese War|
|KOREA||1894-96||Troops||Marines kept in Seoul during war.|
|PANAMA||1895||Troops, naval||Marines land in Colombian province.|
|NICARAGUA||1896||Troops||Marines land in port of Corinto.|
|CHINA||1898-1900||Troops||Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.|
|PHILIPPINES||1898-1910 (-?)||Naval, troops||Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos|
|CUBA||1898-1902 (-?)||Naval, troops||Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.|
|PUERTO RICO||1898 (-?)||Naval, troops||Seized from Spain, occupation continues.|
|GUAM||1898 (-?)||Naval, troops||Seized from Spain, still use as base.|
|MINNESOTA||1898 (-?)||Troops||Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.|
|NICARAGUA||1898||Troops||Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.|
|SAMOA||1899 (-?)||Troops||Battle over succession to throne.|
|NICARAGUA||1899||Troops||Marines land at port of Bluefields.|
|IDAHO||1899-1901||Troops||Army occupies Coeur d'Alene mining region.|
|OKLAHOMA||1901||Troops||Army battles Creek Indian revolt.|
|PANAMA||1901-14||Naval, troops||Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone; Opened canal 1914.|
|HONDURAS||1903||Troops||Marines intervene in revolution.|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||1903-04||Troops||U.S. interests protected in Revolution.|
|KOREA||1904-05||Troops||Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.|
|CUBA||1906-09||Troops||Marines land in democratic election.|
|NICARAGUA||1907||Troops||"Dollar Diplomacy" protectorate set up.|
|HONDURAS||1907||Troops||Marines land during war with Nicaragua|
|PANAMA||1908||Troops||Marines intervene in election contest.|
|NICARAGUA||1910||Troops||Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.|
|HONDURAS||1911||Troops||U.S. interests protected in civil war.|
|CHINA||1911-41||Naval, troops||Continuous occupation with flare-ups.|
|CUBA||1912||Troops||U.S. interests protected in civil war.|
|PANAMA||1912||Troops||Marines land during heated election.|
|HONDURAS||1912||Troops||Marines protect U.S. economic interests.|
|NICARAGUA||1912-33||Troops, bombing||10-year occupation, fought guerillas|
|MEXICO||1913||Naval||Americans evacuated during revolution.|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||1914||Naval||Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.|
|COLORADO||1914||Troops||Breaking of miners' strike by Army.|
|MEXICO||1914-18||Naval, troops||Series of interventions against nationalists.|
|HAITI||1914-34||Troops, bombing||19-year occupation after revolts.|
|TEXAS||1915||Troops||Federal soldiers crush "Plan of San Diego" Mexican-American rebellion|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||1916-24||Troops||8-year Marine occupation.|
|CUBA||1917-33||Troops||Military occupation, economic protectorate.|
|WORLD WAR I||1917-18||Naval, troops||Ships sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.|
|RUSSIA||1918-22||Naval, troops||Five landings to fight Bolsheviks|
|PANAMA||1918-20||Troops||"Police duty" during unrest after elections.|
|HONDURAS||1919||Troops||Marines land during election campaign.|
|YUGOSLAVIA||1919||Troops/Marines||intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.|
|GUATEMALA||1920||Troops||2-week intervention against unionists.|
|WEST VIRGINIA||1920-21||Troops, bombing||Army intervenes against mineworkers.|
|TURKEY||1922||Troops||Fought nationalists in Smyrna.|
|CHINA||1922-27||Naval, troops||Deployment during nationalist revolt.|
|Airpower defends Calles from rebellion|
Landed twice during election strife.
|PANAMA||1925||Troops||Marines suppress general strike.|
|CHINA||1927-34||Troops||Marines stationed throughout the country.|
|EL SALVADOR||1932||Naval||Warships send during Marti revolt.|
|WASHINGTON DC||1932||Troops||Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.|
|WORLD WAR II||1941-45||Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear||Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.|
|DETROIT||1943||Troops||Army put down Black rebellion.|
|IRAN||1946||Nuclear threat||Soviet troops told to leave north.|
|YUGOSLAVIA||1946||Nuclear threat, naval||Response to shoot-down of US plane.|
|URUGUAY||1947||Nuclear threat||Bombers deployed as show of strength.|
|GREECE||1947-49||Command operation||U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.|
|GERMANY||1948||Nuclear Threat||Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.|
|CHINA||1948-49||Troops/Marines||evacuate Americans before Communist victory.|
|PHILIPPINES||1948-54||Command operation||CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.|
|PUERTO RICO||1950||Command operation||Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.|
|KOREA||1951-53 (-?)||Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threats||U.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.|
|IRAN||1953||Command Operation||CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.|
|VIETNAM||1954||Nuclear threat||French offered bombs to use against seige.|
|GUATEMALA||1954||Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat||CIA directs exile invasion after new gov't nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.|
|EGYPT||1956||Nuclear threat, troops||Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.|
|LEBANON||l958||Troops, naval||Army & Marine occupation against rebels.|
|IRAQ||1958||Nuclear threat||Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.|
|CHINA||l958||Nuclear threat||China told not to move on Taiwan isles.|
|PANAMA||1958||Troops||Flag protests erupt into confrontation.|
|VIETNAM||l960-75||Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats||Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.|
|CUBA||l961||Command operation||CIA-directed exile invasion fails.|
|GERMANY||l961||Nuclear threat||Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.|
|LAOS||1962||Command operation||Military buildup during guerrilla war.|
|CUBA||l962||Nuclear threat, naval||Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.|
|IRAQ||1963||Command operation||CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba'ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.|
|PANAMA||l964||Troops||Panamanians shot for urging canal's return.|
|INDONESIA||l965||Command operation||Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||1965-66||Troops, bombing||Army & Marines land during election campaign.|
|GUATEMALA||l966-67||Command operation||Green Berets intervene against rebels.|
|DETROIT||l967||Troops||Army battles African Americans, 43 killed.|
|UNITED STATES||l968||Troops||After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.|
|CAMBODIA||l969-75||Bombing, troops, naval||Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.|
|OMAN||l970||Command operation||U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.|
|LAOS||l971-73||Command operation, bombing||U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; "carpet-bombs" countryside.|
|SOUTH DAKOTA||l973||Command operation||Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.|
|MIDEAST||1973||Nuclear threat||World-wide alert during Mideast War.|
|CHILE||1973||Command operation||CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.|
|CAMBODIA||l975||Troops, bombing||Gassing of captured ship Mayagüez, 28 troops die when copter shot down.|
|ANGOLA||l976-92||Command operation||CIA assists South African-backed rebels.|
|IRAN||l980||Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing||Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.|
|LIBYA||l981||Naval jets||Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.|
|EL SALVADOR||l981-92||Command operation, troops||Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.|
|NICARAGUA||l981-90||Command operation, naval||CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.|
|LEBANON||l982-84||Naval, bombing, troops||Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions. 241 Marines killed when Shi'a rebel bombs barracks.|
|GRENADA||l983-84||Troops, bombing||Invasion four years after revolution.|
|HONDURAS||l983-89||Troops||Maneuvers help build bases near borders.|
|IRAN||l984||Jets||Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.|
|LIBYA||l986||Bombing, naval||Air strikes to topple Qaddafi gov't.|
|BOLIVIA||1986||Troops||Army assists raids on cocaine region.|
|IRAN||l987-88||Naval, bombing||US intervenes on side of Iraq in war, defending reflagged tankers and shooting down civilian jet.|
|LIBYA||1989||Naval jets||Two Libyan jets shot down.|
|VIRGIN ISLANDS||1989||Troops||St. Croix Black unrest after storm.|
|PHILIPPINES||1989||Jets||Air cover provided for government against coup.|
|PANAMA||1989 (-?)||Troops, bombing||Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.|
|LIBERIA||1990||Troops||Foreigners evacuated during civil war.|
|SAUDI ARABIA||1990-91||Troops, jets||Iraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.|
|IRAQ||1990-91||Bombing, troops, naval||Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.|
|KUWAIT||1991||Naval, bombing, troops||Kuwait royal family returned to throne.|
|IRAQ||1991-2003||Bombing, naval||No-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south; constant air strikes and naval-enforced economic sanctions|
|LOS ANGELES||1992||Troops||Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.|
|SOMALIA||1992-94||Troops, naval, bombing||U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.|
|YUGOSLAVIA||1992-94||Naval||NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.|
|BOSNIA||1993-?||Jets, bombing||No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.|
|HAITI||1994||Troops, naval||Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.|
|ZAIRE (CONGO)||1996-97||Troops||Troops at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.|
|LIBERIA||1997||Troops||Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.|
|ALBANIA||1997||Troops||Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.|
|SUDAN||1998||Missiles||Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be "terrorist" nerve gas plant.|
|AFGHANISTAN||1998||Missiles||Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.|
|IRAQ||1998||Bombing, Missiles||Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.|
|YUGOSLAVIA||1999||Bombing, Missiles||Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.|
|YEMEN||2000||Naval||USS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.|
|MACEDONIA||2001||Troops||NATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.|
|UNITED STATES||2001||Jets, naval||Reaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC|
|AFGHANISTAN||2001-?||Troops, bombing, missiles||Massive U.S. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. More than 30,000 U.S. troops and numerous private security contractors carry our occupation.|
|YEMEN||2002||Missiles||Predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.|
|PHILIPPINES||2002-?||Troops, naval||Training mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.|
|COLOMBIA||2003-?||Troops||US special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.|
|IRAQ||2003-?||Troops, naval, bombing, missiles||Saddam regime toppled in Baghdad. More than 250,000 U.S. personnel participate in invasion. US and UK forces occupy country and battle Sunni and Shi'ite insurgencies. More than 160,000 troops and numerous private contractors carry out occupation and build large permanent bases.|
|LIBERIA||2003||Troops||Brief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.|
|HAITI||2004-05||Troops, naval||Marines & Army land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.|
|PAKISTAN||2005-?||Missiles, bombing, covert operation||CIA missile and air strikes and Special Forces raids on alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban refuge villages kill multiple civilians. Drone attacks also on Pakistani Mehsud network.|
|SOMALIA||2006-?||Missiles, naval, troops, command operation||Special Forces advise Ethiopian invasion that topples Islamist government; AC-130 strikes, Cruise missile attacks and helicopter raids against Islamist rebels; naval blockade against "pirates" and insurgents.|
|SYRIA||2008||Troops||Special Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians|
|YEMEN||2009-?||Missiles, command operation||Cruise missile attack on Al Qaeda kills 49 civilians; Yemeni military assaults on rebels|
|LIBYA||2011-?||Bombing, missiles, command operation||NATO coordinates air strikes and missile attacks against Qaddafi government during uprising by rebel army.|
(Death toll estimates from 20th-century wars can be found in the Historical Atlas of the 20th Century by alphabetized places index, map series, and major casualties .)
Every country, every ethnicity, every religion, contains within it the capability for extreme violence. Every group contains a faction that is intolerant of other groups, and actively seeks to exclude or even kill them. War fever tends to encourage the intolerant faction, but the faction only succeeds in its goals if the rest of the group acquiesces or remains silent. The attacks of September 11 were not only a test for U.S. citizens attitudes' toward minority ethnic/racial groups in their own country, but a test for our relationship with the rest of the world. We must begin not by lashing out at civilians in Muslim countries, but by taking responsibility for our own history and our own actions, and how they have fed the cycle of violence.OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONSBy Zoltán Grossman, October 2001
The media has told us repeatedly that some Middle Easterners hate the U.S. only because of our "freedom" and "prosperity." Missing from this explanation is the historical context of the U.S. role in the Middle East, and for that matter in the rest of the world. This basic primer is an attempt to brief readers who have not closely followed the history of U.S. foreign or military affairs, and are perhaps unaware of the background of U.S. military interventions abroad, but are concerned about the direction of our country toward a new war in the name of "freedom" and "protecting civilians."
The United States military has been intervening in other countries for a long time. In 1898, it seized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from Spain, and in 1917-18 became embroiled in World War I in Europe. In the first half of the 20th century it repeatedly sent Marines to "protectorates" such as Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. All these interventions directly served corporate interests, and many resulted in massive losses of civilians, rebels, and soldiers. Many of the uses of U.S. combat forces are documented in A History of U.S. Military Interventions since 1890: http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html
U.S. involvement in World War II (1941-45) was sparked by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and fear of an Axis invasion of North America. Allied bombers attacked fascist military targets, but also fire-bombed German and Japanese cities such as Dresden and Tokyo, party under the assumption that destroying civilian neighborhoods would weaken the resolve of the survivors and turn them against their regimes. Many historians agree that fire- bombing's effect was precisely the opposite--increasing Axis civilian support for homeland defense, and discouraging potential coup attempts. The atomic bombing of Japan at the end of the war was carried out without any kind of advance demonstration or warning that may have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
The war in Korea (1950-53) was marked by widespread atrocities, both by North Korean/Chinese forces, and South Korean/U.S. forces. U.S. troops fired on civilian refugees headed into South Korea, apparently fearing they were northern infiltrators. Bombers attacked North Korean cities, and the U.S. twice threatened to use nuclear weapons. North Korea is under the same Communist government today as when the war began.
During the Middle East crisis of 1958, Marines were deployed to quell a rebellion in Lebanon, and Iraq was threatened with nuclear attack if it invaded Kuwait. This little-known crisis helped set U.S. foreign policy on a collision course with Arab nationalists, often in support of the region's monarchies.
In the early 1960s, the U.S. returned to its pre-World War II interventionary role in the Caribbean, directing the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs exile invasion of Cuba, and the 1965 bombing and Marine invasion of the Dominican Republic during an election campaign. The CIA trained and harbored Cuban exile groups in Miami, which launched terrorist attacks on Cuba, including the 1976 downing of a Cuban civilian jetliner near Barbados. During the Cold War, the CIA would also help to support or install pro-U.S. dictatorships in Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and many other countries around the world.
The U.S. war in Indochina (1960-75) pit U.S. forces against North Vietnam, and Communist rebels fighting to overthrow pro-U.S. dictatorships in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. U.S. war planners made little or no distinction between attacking civilians and guerrillas in rebel-held zones, and U.S. "carpet-bombing" of the countryside and cities swelled the ranks of the ultimately victorious revolutionaries. Over two million people were killed in the war, including 55,000 U.S. troops. Less than a dozen U.S. citizens were killed on U.S. soil, in National Guard shootings or antiwar bombings. In Cambodia, the bombings drove the Khmer Rouge rebels toward fanatical leaders, who launched a murderous rampage when they took power in 1975.
Echoes of Vietnam reverberated in Central America during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration strongly backed the pro-U.S. regime in El Salvador, and right-wing exile forces fighting the new leftist Sandinista government inNicaragua. Rightist death squads slaughtered Salvadoran civilians who questioned the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands. CIA-trained Nicaraguan Contra rebels launched terrorist attacks against civilian clinics and schools run by the Sandinista government, and mined Nicaraguan harbors. U.S. troops also invaded the island nation of Grenada in 1983, to oust a new military regime, attacking Cuban civilian workers (even though Cuba had backed the leftist government deposed in the coup), and accidentally bombing a hospital.
The U.S. returned in force to the Middle East in 1980, after the Shi'ite Muslim revolution in Iran against Shah Pahlevi's pro-U.S. dictatorship. A troop and bombing raid to free U.S. Embassy hostages held in downtown Tehran had to be aborted in the Iranian desert. After the 1982 Israeli occupation of Lebanon, U.S. Marines were deployed in a neutral "peacekeeping" operation. They instead took the side of Lebanon's pro-Israel Christian government against Muslim rebels, and U.S. Navy ships rained enormous shells on Muslim civilian villages. Embittered Shi'ite Muslim rebels responded with a suicide bomb attack on Marine barracks, and for years seized U.S. hostages in the country. In retaliation, the CIA set off car bombs to assassinate Shi'ite Muslim leaders. Syria and the Muslim rebels emerged victorious in Lebanon.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. launched a 1986 bombing raid on Libya, which it accused of sponsoring a terrorist bombing later tied to Syria. The bombing raid killed civilians, and may have led to the later revenge bombing of a U.S. jet over Scotland. Libya's Arab nationalist leader Muammar Qaddafi remained in power. The U.S. Navy also intervened against Iran during its war against Iraq in 1987-88, sinking Iranian ships and "accidentally" shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner.
U.S. forces invaded Panama in 1989 to oust the nationalist regime of Manuel Noriega. The U.S. accused its former ally of allowing drug-running in the country, though the drug trade actually increased after his capture. U.S. bombing raids on Panama City ignited a conflagration in a civilian neighborhood, fed by stove gas tanks. Over 2,000 Panamanians were killed in the invasion to capture one leader.
The following year, the U.S. deployed forces in the Persian Gulf after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which turned Washington against its former Iraqi ally Saddam Hussein. U.S. supported the Kuwaiti monarchy and the Muslim fundamentalist monarchy in neighboring Saudi Arabia against the secular nationalist Iraq regime. In January 1991, the U.S..and its allies unleashed a massive bombing assault against Iraqi government and military targets, in an intensity beyond the raids of World War II and Vietnam. Up to 200,000 Iraqis were killed in the war and its imemdiate aftermath of rebellion and disease, including many civilians who died in their villages, neighborhoods, and bomb shelters. The U.S. continued economic sanctions that denied health and energy to Iraqi civilians, who died by the hundreds of thousands, according to United Nations agencies. The U.S. also instituted "no-fly zones" and virtually continuous bombing raids, yet Saddam was politically bolstered as he was militarily weakened.
In the 1990s, the U.S. military led a series of what it termed "humanitarian interventions" it claimed would safeguard civilians. Foremost among them was the 1992 deployment in the African nation of Somalia, torn by famine and a civil war between clan warlords. Instead of remaining neutral, U.S. forces took the side of one faction against another faction, and bombed a Mogadishu neighborhood. Enraged crowds, backed by foreign Arab mercenaries, killed 18 U.S. soldiers, forcing a withdrawal from the country.
Other so-called "humanitarian interventions" were centered in the Balkan region of Europe, after the 1992 breakup of the multiethnic federation of Yugoslavia. The U.S. watched for three years as Serb forces killed Muslim civilians in Bosnia, before its launched decisive bombing raids in 1995. Even then, it never intervened to stop atrocities by Croatian forces against Muslim and Serb civilians, because those forces were aided by the U.S. In 1999, the U.S. bombed Serbia to force President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw forces from the ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo, which was torn a brutal ethnic war. The bombing intensified Serbian expulsions and killings of Albanian civilians from Kosovo, and caused the deaths of thousands of Serbian civilians, even in cities that had voted strongly against Milosevic. When a NATO occupation force enabled Albanians to move back, U.S. forces did little or nothing to prevent similar atrocities against Serb and other non-Albanian civilians. The U.S. was viewed as a biased player, even by the Serbian democratic opposition that overthrew Milosevic the following year.
Even when the U.S. military had apparently defensive motives, it ended up attacking the wrong targets. After the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, the U.S. "retaliated" not only against Osama Bin Laden's training camps inAfghanistan, but a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was mistakenly said to be a chemical warfare installation. Bin Laden retaliated by attacking a U.S. Navy ship docked in Yemen in 2000. After the 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the U.S. military is poised to again bomb Afghanistan, and possibly move against other states it accuses of promoting anti-U.S. "terrorism," such as Iraq and Sudan. Such a campaign will certainly ratchet up the cycle of violence, in an escalating series of retaliations that is the hallmark of Middle East conflicts. Afghanistan, like Yugoslavia, is a multiethnic state that could easily break apart in a new catastrophic regional war. Almost certainly more civilians would lose their lives in this tit-for-tat war on "terrorism" than the 3,000 civilians who died on September 11.
Some common themes can be seen in many of these U.S. military interventions.
First, they were explained to the U.S. public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations. Yet the military tactics employed often left behind massive civilian "collateral damage." War planners made little distinction between rebels and the civilians who lived in rebel zones of control, or between military assets and civilian infrastructure, such as train lines, water plants, agricultural factories, medicine supplies, etc. The U.S. public always believe that in the next war, new military technologies will avoid civilian casualties on the other side. Yet when the inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are always explained away as "accidental" or "unavoidable."
Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of "freedom" and "democracy," nearly all of them in fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U.S. elites. Whether in Vietnam, Central America, or the Persian Gulf, the U.S. was not defending "freedom" but an ideological agenda (such as defending capitalism) or an economic agenda (such as protecting oil company investments). In the few cases when U.S. military forces toppled a dictatorship--such as in Grenada or Panama--they did so in a way that prevented the country's people from overthrowing their own dictator first, and installing a new democratic government more to their liking.
Third, the U.S. always attacked violence by its opponents as "terrorism," "atrocities against civilians," or "ethnic cleansing," but minimized or defended the same actions by the U.S. or its allies. If a country has the right to "end" a state that trains or harbors terrorists, would Cuba or Nicaragua have had the right to launch defensive bombing raids on U.S. targets to take out exile terrorists? Washington's double standard maintains that an U.S. ally's action by definition "defensive," but that an enemy's retaliation is by definition "offensive."
Fourth, the U.S. often portrays itself as a neutral peacekeeper, with nothing but the purest humanitarian motives. After deploying forces in a country, however, it quickly divides the country or region into "friends" and "foes," and takes one side against another. This strategy tends to enflame rather than dampen a war or civil conflict, as shown in the cases of Somalia and Bosnia, and deepens resentment of the U.S. role.
Fifth, U.S. military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U.S. goals and rationales. Rather than solving the root political or economic roots of the conflict, it tends to polarize factions and further destabilize the country. The same countries tend to reappear again and again on the list of 20th century interventions.
Sixth, U.S. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power. Take the list of current regimes most singled out for U.S. attack, and put it alongside of the list of regimes that have had the longest hold on power, and you will find they have the same names. Qaddafi, Castro, Saddam, Kim, and others may have faced greater internal criticism if they could not portray themselves as Davids standing up to the American Goliath, and (accurately) blaming many of their countries' internal problems on U.S. economic sanctions.
One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that "people like us" could not commit atrocities against civilians.
- German and Japanese citizens believed it, but their militaries slaughtered millions of people.
- British and French citizens believed it, but their militaries fought brutal colonial wars in Africa and Asia.
- Russian citizens believed it, but their armies murdered civilians in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere.
- Israeli citizens believed it, but their army mowed down Palestinians and Lebanese.
- Arabs believed it, but suicide bombers and hijackers targeted U.S. and Israeli civilians.
- U.S. citizens believed it, but their military killed hundreds of thousands in Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere.