Thursday, May 29, 2014

The future visible in St Petersburg By Pepe Escobar

The future visible in St Petersburg
By Pepe Escobar

The unipolar model of the world order has failed. 
Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg, May 22

In more ways than one, last week heralded the birth of a Eurasian century. Of course, the US$400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched only at the last minute in Shanghai, on Wednesday (a complement to the June 2013, 25-year, $270 billion oil deal between Rosneft and China's CNPC.)

Then, on Thursday, most of the main players were at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - the Russian answer to Davos. And on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh
from his Shanghai triumph, addressed the participants and brought the house down.

It will take time to appraise last week's whirlwind in all its complex implications. Here are some of the St Petersburg highlights, in some detail. Were there fewer Western CEOs in town because the Obama administration pressured them - as part of the "isolate Russia" policy? Not many less; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may have snubbed it, but Europeans who matter came, saw, talked and pledged to keep doing business.

And most of all, Asians were ubiquitous. Consider this as yet another chapter of China's counterpunch to US President Barack Obama's Asian tour in April, which was widely described as the "China containment tour". [1]

On the first day at the St Petersburg forum I attended this crucial session on Russia-China strategic economic partnership. Pay close attention: the roadmap is all there. As Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao describes it: "We plan to combine the program for the development of Russia's Far East and the strategy for the development of Northeast China into an integrated concept."

That was just one instance of the fast-emerging Eurasia coalition bound to challenge the "indispensable" exceptionalists to the core. Comparisons to the Sino-Soviet pact are infantile. The putsch in Ukraine - part of Washington's pivot to "contain" Russia - just served to accelerate Russia's pivot to Asia, which sooner or late would become inevitable.

It all starts in Sichuan
In St Petersburg, from session to session and in selected conversations, what I saw were some crucial building blocks of the Chinese New Silk Road(s), whose ultimate aim is to unite, via trade and commerce, no less than China, Russia and Germany.

For Washington, this is beyond anathema. The response has been to peddle a couple of deals which, in thesis, would guarantee American monopoly of two-thirds of global commerce; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which was essentially rebuked by key Asians such as Japan and Malaysia during Obama's trip - and the even more problematic Trans-Atlantic Partnership with the EU, which average Europeans absolutely abhor (see Breaking bad in southern NATOstan, Asia Times Online, April 15, 2014). Both deals are being negotiated in secret and are profitable essentially for US multinational corporations.

For Asia, China instead proposes a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific; after all, it is already the largest trading partner of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

And for Europe, Beijing proposes an extension of the railway that in only 12 days links Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, to Lodz in Poland, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The total deal is the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe network, with a final stop in Duisburg, Germany. No wonder this is bound to become the most important commercial route in the world. [2]

There's more. One day before the clinching of the Russia-China gas deal, President Xi Jinping called for no less than a new Asian security cooperation architecture, including of course Russia and Iran and excluding the US. [3] Somehow echoing Putin, Xi described NATO as a Cold War relic.

And guess who was at the announcement in Shanghai, apart from the Central Asian "stans": Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and crucially, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The facts on the ground speak for themselves. China is buying at least half of Iraq's oil production - and is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure. China has invested heavily in Afghanistan's mining industry - especially lithium and cobalt. And obviously both China and Russia keep doing business in Iran. [4]

So this is what Washington gets for over a decade of wars, incessant bullying, nasty sanctions and trillions of misspent dollars.

No wonder the most fascinating session I attended in St Petersburg was on the commercial and economic possibilities around the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose guest of honor was none other than Li Yuanchao. I was arguably the only Westerner in the room, surrounded by a sea of Chinese and Central Asians.

The SCO is gearing up to become something way beyond a sort of counterpart to NATO, focusing mostly on terrorism and fighting drug trafficking. It wants to do major business. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers, and sooner rather than later will be accepted as full members.

Once again that's Eurasian integration in action. The branching out of the New Silk Road(s) is inevitable; and that spells out, in practice, closer integration with Afghanistan (minerals) and Iran (energy).

The new Crimea boom
St Petersburg also made it clear how China wants to finance an array of projects in Crimea, whose waters, by the way, boasting untold, still unexplored, energy wealth, are now Russian property. Projects include a crucial bridge across the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to mainland Russia; expansion of Crimean ports; solar power plants; and even manufacturing special economic zones (SEZs). Moscow could not but interpret it as Beijing's endorsement of the annexation of Crimea.

As for Ukraine, it might as well, as Putin remarked in St Petersburg, pay its bills. [5] And as for the European Union, at least outgoing president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso understood the obvious: antagonizing Russia is not exactly a winning strategy.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been one of those informed few advising the West about it, to no avail: "Russia and China are likely to cooperate even more closely ... Such an outcome would certainly benefit China, but it will give Russia a chance to withstand US geopolitical pressure, compensate for the EU's coming energy re-orientation, develop Siberia and the Far East, and link itself to the Asia-Pacific region." [6]

On the (silk) road again
The now symbiotic China-Russia strategic alliance - with the possibility of extending towards Iran [7] - is the fundamental fact on the ground in the young 21st century. It will extrapolate across the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Of course the usual shills will keep peddling that the only possible future is one led by a "benign" empire. [8] As if billions of people across the real world - even informed Atlanticists - would be gullible enough to buy it. Still, unipolarity may be dead, but the world, sadly, is encumbered with its corpse. The corpse, according to the new Obama doctrine, is now "empowering partners".

To paraphrase Dylan ("I left Rome and landed in Brussels"), I left St Petersburg and landed in Rome, to follow yet another episode in the slow decadence of Europe - the parliamentary elections. But before that, I was fortunate to experience an aesthetic illumination. I visited a virtually deserted Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where two dedicated, extremely knowledgeable researchers gave me a private tour of some pieces belonging to arguably the most outstanding collection of Asian manuscripts on the planet. As a serial Silk Road traveler fanatic, I had heard about many of those documents, but I had never actually seen them. So there I was, on the banks of the Neva, a kid in a (historical) candy store, immersed in all those marvels from Dunhuang to Mongolia, in Vedic or Sanskrit, dreaming of Silk Roads past and future. I could stay there forever.

Notes: 1. China Thwarts U.S. 'Containment' With Vietnam Oil Rig Standoff, Forbes, May 8, 2014.
2. Le president chinois appelle la Chine et l'Allemagne - construire la ceinture economique de la Route de la Soie (in French), Xinhua, March 30, 2014.
3. China calls for new Asian security structure, Washington Post, May 21, 2014.
4. Russia plans to build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, Reuters, May 22, 2014.
5. Naftogaz Debt to Gazprom Stands at $4 Bln - EU Energy Commissioner, Ria Novosti, May 28, 2014.
6. See here.
7. China, Iran and Russia: Restructuring the global order, Al Jazeera, May 20, 2014.
8. In Defense of Empire, The Atlantic, March 19, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Europe and Ukraine: A tale of two elections by Pepe Escobar

Europe and Ukraine: A tale of two elections

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
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)
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)
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)
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

Russia, Chechnia and the Ukraine - the *choice* to keep hoping for the impossible - THE VINEYARD OF THE SAKER - A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE VINEYARD

MONDAY, MAY 26, 2014

Russia, Chechnia and the Ukraine - the *choice* to keep hoping for the impossible

As you probably know, the two Russian journalists who worked for the LifeNews, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, were finally freed and brought back home via Grozny in Chechnia.  You might even have heard that the President of Chechnia, Ramzan Kadyrov, played a special role in their liberation.  I think that the importance of this event might be under-estimated by many observers and I want to briefly comment on that.

It all really began in Crimea where, before the operation of the Russian Polite Armed Men in Green (PAMG), when there were some very serious tensions between the various parties including the Muslim Tatars.  At that time, Ramzan Kadyrov for the first time made a statement from faraway Grozny saying that he will not tolerate any "abuses against the Chechen" minority in Crimea.  Since there are not all that many Chechens in Crimea and since soon thereafter PAMG solved the problem anyway, this statement was rapidly forgotten.  But think again, besides being a statement in support of the Chechens in Crimea, who was that statement directed against?  Clearly, the threatened party was not the pro-Russian one, but the pro-Ukrainian forces, including those Tatars (mainly linked to Turkey) who had been manipulated by the USA to take action against the pro-Russian population of Crimea.  It is now clear that what happened in this instance is that Kadyrov did openly say that which Putin could not (for obvious political reasons).  In the end, it was Putin who eventually engaged his PAMG, but it was Kadyrov who had made the threat.

This time again, Kadyrov got involved by issuing an amazing statement which most commentators overlooked.  Here is what he said about the two kidnapped reporters:
The Ukraine's leadership continues to use Fascist methodsWe demand the immediate release of Sidyakin and SaychenkoIf the folks in Kiev don't come back to their senses and do not let these journalists go back home, we will not stand by in silence and watch as mock them, for them to their knees and keep them with bags on their heads. We have the forces and the capabilities to influence those who are holding these journalists in captivity. I therefore advise them to free these journalists or otherwise we will have resort to some tough actions.
I don't know about you, but when I read that I went "wow!".  There is a Chechen President (who is also and-ex warlord) who is clearly giving the Ukies an ultimatum which they better not ignore.  They didn't.

During 4 days of secret negotiations a group of Chechen negotiators sent by Kadyrov flew to Kiev in his personal jet and had some very frank conversations with the right people in Kiev.  The Chechens probably used the typical mix of threats and bribes to prevail and, as a direct result of this operation, the two reporters were freed.

What is very interesting, is that there is mounting evidence that Putin was involved all along even though he never said a word about it.  First, it is well know that Putin is personally very close to Kadyrov and that a strong friendship binds these two men who have immense respect for each other.  But now we can also make sense of a comment made by Putin who declared that the kidnapped journalists were kept in a "zindan" (a prison hole in the ground), something which he apparently learned through Kadyrov's people in Kiev.  Finally, one has to know Kadrov's quasi obsession in stressing at every step that he is always acting exclusively with the full support of the Kremlin to completely exclude the possibility of a unilateral action on Kadyrov's side.

This time again, Kadyrov said that which Putin could not say.

It was also interesting for me to hear the testimony of the two reporters who told that they understood that something dramatic had changed in their condition when they heard a voice pick up the phone and say "salaam aleikum".  Soon thereafter their handcuffs were taken off and they were told "take off the hood off your heads, you are safe now, you are under the protection of the President of Chechnia".

Why do I consider this so important?

Because the image of Chechnia and the Chechens is radically changing in Russia.  The media openly calls Kadyrov a hero and Russian citizens rejoice when they hear the Islamic "salaam aleikum" because they know that they are now safe.  This is huge!  What a change from only 10 years ago.

Kadyrov in reality plays a role which is a much bigger one than "just" the President of Chechnia (and a hugely successful one at that!).  He is clearly Putin's "ally number 1", especially in security matters, and the two men clearly work closely together as a kind of "tag team".  This kind of special role does a lot to restore the pride of the Chechen people and it also does a lot to change the terrible image many Russians had of Chechens as a result of the horrors of the time when Chechnia was ruled by psychopathic Wahabis.  Instead of being "terrorist barbarians" the Chechens are now increasingly seen as tough and reliable allies of Russia and of the Russian President.

As for the Chechens, they are still feared, but this time outside Russia.  During the 08.08.08 war the Georgians ran as fast as they could as soon as they heard that the Chechen battalion had arrived.  Nowadays, the Ukraine is full of rumors that Chechens have arrived to support the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.  To my knowlege this has not happened (yet?) and apparently there is some confusion between a "Vostok battalion" (Eastern battalion) in the Ukraine and the Chechen "Vostok battalion" which saw action in 08.08.08.  The former is composed of local volunteers from the Donbass while the latter is now formally part of the 291st Motor-Rifle regiment of the 42nd Guard Motor-Rifle Division of the Russian armed forces.  But I would not put it past Kadyrov to send in Chechen special forces as "volunteers" into the Donbass if things get really ugly there. Of course,  the key thing would be to get Putin's go ahead for such a move.

I find that absolutely remarkable.  By 2000 Chechnia was in ruins, a huge amount of Chechens had been killed, Grozny was was completely destroyed and plans were made to abandon the city and build a new capital elsewhere.  Almost all western experts were unanimous in their conclusion that the guerrilla war and terrorism operations would never stop and that Chechnia would become a "constantly bleeding wound in the soft underbelly of Russia" or some equally stupid cliche.  Now, 14 years later, Grozny is a superb city, traditional Islam has completely replaced Wahabism, Chechen terrorists and warlords have all been eliminated one by one, Chechnia has a very low crime rate, French actor Gerard Depardieu has an apartment in downtown Grozny, Russians increasingly see Chechens as their toughest and most dependable allies and the enemies of Russia literally tremble in fear at the possibility that "the Chechens might come".  Who could have ever imagined that?!

Will that be enough to heal the wounds of the past?

I don't know for sure, but I fervently hope so.  For one thing I will always blame the regime of Eltsin and his Jewish oligarchs more than Dudaev and his Chechen followers for the first Chechen war.  True, what the Chechens did during and after that war was simply beyond barbaric and I fully supported the 2nd Chechen war in which Russia simply did what had to be done (and did so brilliantly).  So I believe that both sides share the guilt and the pain of what happened.  Still, Russia is so much bigger and more powerful that the Chechens who had no chance as soon as the Russian people supported the military action (which was not the case in the first Chechen war) and I believe that Akhmad Kadyrov had the wisdom to see that this war would end up in the quasi-total elimination of the Chechen people and that it had to be stopped.  I think that Putin also understood this and that he believed that such an outcome would also be a disaster for Russia.  So these two men did the unthinkable and stopped a war which was about to turn into a total war until one side would wipe out the other.  It is as easy for me to write these terrible words as it is for you to read them.  But think about it, we are truly talking about an unspeakable horror which almost happened.  And the murder of Akhmad Kadyrov could have made this outcome inevitable had it not been for his son Ramzan who replaced his father and did an absolutely brilliant job to make his dream come true: Chechnia today is both Islamic and free.  It has a huge degree of autonomy, but it also is the most faithful and strongest ally of the Russian President.  I would even say that Chechnia is the single most important factor of stability in the entire Caucasus region.

I am under no illusion about the possibility of a "Ukrainian Kadyrov" appearing on the world scene anytime soon.  But if such a miracle could happen in Chechnia, I want to at least hopethat it is possible in a future Ukraine, one freed from oligarchs and Nazis as much as Chechnia is now Wahabi-free.

Hope dies last and this is a hope I simply want to keep in my heart, no matter how naive it might seem to the "realists" out there.  I don't want to believe that a "Banderastan" can survive in what is a Christian holy land for which literally millions of people died to keep in Orthodox and free.  Right now the picture out of the Ukraine is a terrible one.  But Chechnia in 2000 was even worse.  So I will keep hoping.

The Saker

Sunday, May 25, 2014


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.
    Among sources used, beside news reports, are the Congressional Record (23 June 1969), 180 Landings by the U.S. Marine Corp History Division, Ege & Makhijani in Counterspy (July-Aug, 1982), "Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798-1993" by Ellen C. Collier of the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service, and Ellsberg in Protest & Survive.
Versions of this list have been published on Zmag.orgNeravt.comand numerous other websites.
Translations of listSpanish 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 STATEDates of interventionForcesComments
SOUTH DAKOTA 1890 (-?) Troops300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.
ARGENTINA1890TroopsBuenos Aires interests protected.
CHILE1891TroopsMarines clash with nationalist rebels.
HAITI1891TroopsBlack revolt on Navassa defeated.
IDAHO1892TroopsArmy suppresses silver miners' strike.
HAWAII1893 (-?)Naval, troopsIndependent kingdom overthrown, annexed.
CHICAGO1894TroopsBreaking of rail strike, 34 killed.
NICARAGUA1894TroopsMonth-long occupation of Bluefields.
CHINA1894-95Naval, troopsMarines land in Sino-Japanese War
KOREA1894-96TroopsMarines kept in Seoul during war.
PANAMA1895Troops, navalMarines land in Colombian province.
NICARAGUA1896TroopsMarines land in port of Corinto.
CHINA1898-1900TroopsBoxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.
PHILIPPINES1898-1910 (-?)Naval, troopsSeized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
CUBA1898-1902 (-?)Naval, troopsSeized from Spain, still hold Navy base.
PUERTO RICO1898 (-?)Naval, troopsSeized from Spain, occupation continues.
GUAM1898 (-?)Naval, troopsSeized from Spain, still use as base.
MINNESOTA1898 (-?)TroopsArmy battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.
NICARAGUA1898TroopsMarines land at port of San Juan del Sur.
SAMOA1899 (-?)TroopsBattle over succession to throne.
NICARAGUA1899TroopsMarines land at port of Bluefields.
IDAHO1899-1901TroopsArmy occupies Coeur d'Alene mining region.
OKLAHOMA1901TroopsArmy battles Creek Indian revolt.
PANAMA1901-14Naval, troopsBroke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone; Opened canal 1914.
HONDURAS1903TroopsMarines intervene in revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC1903-04TroopsU.S. interests protected in Revolution.
KOREA1904-05TroopsMarines land in Russo-Japanese War.
CUBA1906-09TroopsMarines land in democratic election.
NICARAGUA1907Troops"Dollar Diplomacy" protectorate set up.
HONDURAS1907TroopsMarines land during war with Nicaragua
PANAMA1908TroopsMarines intervene in election contest.
NICARAGUA1910TroopsMarines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
HONDURAS1911TroopsU.S. interests protected in civil war.
CHINA1911-41Naval, troopsContinuous occupation with flare-ups.
CUBA1912TroopsU.S. interests protected in civil war.
PANAMA1912TroopsMarines land during heated election.
HONDURAS1912TroopsMarines protect U.S. economic interests.
NICARAGUA1912-33Troops, bombing10-year occupation, fought guerillas
MEXICO1913NavalAmericans evacuated during revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC1914NavalFight with rebels over Santo Domingo.
COLORADO1914TroopsBreaking of miners' strike by Army.
MEXICO1914-18Naval, troopsSeries of interventions against nationalists.
HAITI1914-34Troops, bombing19-year occupation after revolts.
TEXAS1915TroopsFederal soldiers crush "Plan of San Diego" Mexican-American rebellion
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC1916-24Troops8-year Marine occupation.
CUBA1917-33TroopsMilitary occupation, economic protectorate.
WORLD WAR I1917-18Naval, troopsShips sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.
RUSSIA1918-22Naval, troopsFive landings to fight Bolsheviks
PANAMA1918-20Troops"Police duty" during unrest after elections.
HONDURAS1919TroopsMarines land during election campaign.
YUGOSLAVIA1919Troops/Marinesintervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.
GUATEMALA1920Troops2-week intervention against unionists.
WEST VIRGINIA1920-21Troops, bombingArmy intervenes against mineworkers.
TURKEY1922TroopsFought nationalists in Smyrna.
CHINA1922-27Naval, troopsDeployment during nationalist revolt.
Airpower defends Calles from rebellion
Landed twice during election strife.
PANAMA1925TroopsMarines suppress general strike.
CHINA1927-34TroopsMarines stationed throughout the country.
EL SALVADOR1932NavalWarships send during Marti revolt.
WASHINGTON DC1932TroopsArmy stops WWI vet bonus protest.
WORLD WAR II1941-45Naval, troops, bombing, nuclearHawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.
DETROIT1943TroopsArmy put down Black rebellion.
IRAN1946Nuclear threatSoviet troops told to leave north.
YUGOSLAVIA1946Nuclear threat, navalResponse to shoot-down of US plane.
URUGUAY1947Nuclear threatBombers deployed as show of strength.
GREECE1947-49Command operationU.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
GERMANY1948Nuclear ThreatAtomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
CHINA1948-49Troops/Marinesevacuate Americans before Communist victory.
PHILIPPINES1948-54Command operationCIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.
PUERTO RICO1950Command operationIndependence rebellion crushed in Ponce.
KOREA1951-53 (-?)Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threatsU.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.
IRAN1953Command OperationCIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.
VIETNAM1954Nuclear threatFrench offered bombs to use against seige.
GUATEMALA1954Command operation, bombing, nuclear threatCIA directs exile invasion after new gov't nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.
EGYPT1956Nuclear threat, troopsSoviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.
LEBANONl958Troops, navalArmy & Marine occupation against rebels.
IRAQ1958Nuclear threatIraq warned against invading Kuwait.
CHINAl958Nuclear threatChina told not to move on Taiwan isles.
PANAMA1958TroopsFlag protests erupt into confrontation.
VIETNAMl960-75Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threatsFought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.
CUBAl961Command operationCIA-directed exile invasion fails.
GERMANYl961Nuclear threatAlert during Berlin Wall crisis.
LAOS1962Command operationMilitary buildup during guerrilla war.
 CUBA l962 Nuclear threat, navalBlockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.
 IRAQ1963Command operationCIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba'ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.
PANAMAl964TroopsPanamanians shot for urging canal's return.
INDONESIAl965Command operationMillion killed in CIA-assisted army coup.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC1965-66Troops, bombingArmy & Marines land during election campaign.
GUATEMALAl966-67Command operationGreen Berets intervene against rebels.
DETROITl967TroopsArmy battles African Americans, 43 killed.
UNITED STATESl968TroopsAfter King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.
CAMBODIAl969-75Bombing, troops, navalUp to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.
OMANl970Command operationU.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.
LAOSl971-73Command operation, bombingU.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; "carpet-bombs" countryside.
SOUTH DAKOTAl973Command operationArmy directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.
MIDEAST1973Nuclear threatWorld-wide alert during Mideast War.
CHILE1973Command operationCIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.
CAMBODIAl975Troops, bombingGassing of captured ship Mayagüez, 28 troops die when copter shot down.
ANGOLAl976-92Command operationCIA assists South African-backed rebels.
IRANl980Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombingRaid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.
LIBYAl981Naval jetsTwo Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.
EL SALVADORl981-92Command operation, troopsAdvisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.
NICARAGUAl981-90Command operation, navalCIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.
LEBANONl982-84Naval, bombing, troopsMarines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions. 241 Marines killed when Shi'a rebel bombs barracks.
GRENADAl983-84Troops, bombingInvasion four years after revolution.
HONDURASl983-89TroopsManeuvers help build bases near borders.
IRANl984JetsTwo Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.
LIBYAl986Bombing, navalAir strikes to topple Qaddafi gov't.
BOLIVIA1986TroopsArmy assists raids on cocaine region.
IRANl987-88Naval, bombingUS intervenes on side of Iraq in war, defending reflagged tankers and shooting down civilian jet.
LIBYA1989Naval jetsTwo Libyan jets shot down.
VIRGIN ISLANDS1989TroopsSt. Croix Black unrest after storm.
PHILIPPINES1989JetsAir cover provided for government against coup.
PANAMA1989 (-?)Troops, bombingNationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.
LIBERIA1990TroopsForeigners evacuated during civil war.
SAUDI ARABIA1990-91Troops, jetsIraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.
IRAQ1990-91Bombing, troops, navalBlockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.
KUWAIT1991Naval, bombing, troopsKuwait royal family returned to throne.
 IRAQ1991-2003Bombing, navalNo-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south; constant air strikes and naval-enforced economic sanctions
LOS ANGELES1992TroopsArmy, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.
SOMALIA1992-94Troops, naval, bombingU.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.
YUGOSLAVIA1992-94NavalNATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
BOSNIA1993-?Jets, bombingNo-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.
HAITI1994Troops, navalBlockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.
ZAIRE (CONGO)1996-97TroopsTroops at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.
LIBERIA1997TroopsSoldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
ALBANIA1997TroopsSoldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
SUDAN1998MissilesAttack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be "terrorist" nerve gas plant.
AFGHANISTAN1998MissilesAttack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.
IRAQ1998Bombing, MissilesFour days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.
YUGOSLAVIA1999Bombing, MissilesHeavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.
YEMEN2000NavalUSS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.
MACEDONIA2001TroopsNATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.
UNITED STATES2001Jets, navalReaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC
AFGHANISTAN2001-?Troops, bombing, missilesMassive 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.
YEMEN2002MissilesPredator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.
PHILIPPINES2002-?Troops, navalTraining mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.
COLOMBIA2003-?TroopsUS special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.
IRAQ2003-?Troops, naval, bombing, missilesSaddam 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.
LIBERIA2003TroopsBrief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.
HAITI2004-05Troops, naval  Marines & Army land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.
PAKISTAN2005-?Missiles, bombing, covert operationCIA 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.
SOMALIA2006-?Missiles, naval, troops, command operationSpecial 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.
SYRIA2008TroopsSpecial Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians
YEMEN2009-?Missiles, command operationCruise missile attack on Al Qaeda kills 49 civilians; Yemeni military assaults on rebels
LIBYA2011-?Bombing, missiles, command operationNATO 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 indexmap series, and major casualties .)

By Zoltán Grossman, October 2001
Published in Z magazine. Translations in Italian Polish
Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, most people in the world agree that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice, without killing many thousands of civilians in the process. But unfortunately, the U.S. military has always accepted massive civilian deaths as part of the cost of war. The military is now poised to kill thousands of foreign civilians, in order to prove that killing U.S. civilians is wrong.
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 PhilippinesCuba, 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 NicaraguaHondurasPanamaHaiti, 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:
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 IranChileGuatemalaIndonesia, 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 VietnamLaos, 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.
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.