Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraqby Stephen Kinzer
""Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush but has been an integral part of American foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the entire twentieth century and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to topple governments that stood in… See more details below
""Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush but has been an integral part of American foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the entire twentieth century and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to topple governments that stood in the way of its political and economic goals. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 is the latest, though perhaps not the last, example of these high-stakes operations." "In Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer tells the stories of the audacious politicians, spies, military commanders, and business executives who took it upon themselves to depose monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers. He recounts how America's long regime-change century began in Hawaii and gained momentum during the Spanish-American War, when Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines fell to American military and political power. Soon afterward, the United States started flexing its muscles in Central America, orchestrating coups that brought down the presidents of Nicaragua and Honduras." "Kinzer then shows how the Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union led American leaders to view all political disputes through the lens of superpower competition. During this period, they arranged covert actions that led to the murder of a South Vietnamese president and the fall of democratic governments in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. In recent years, invasions have once again become the preferred instrument of regime change, as operations in Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq attest." The United States usually succeeds when it sets out to depose a foreign leader, but Kinzer assesses these operations in the cold light of history and concludes that many of them have actually undermined American security. Overthrow is a cautionary tale that serves as an urgent warning as the United States seeks to define its role in the modern world.
- Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
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American leaders might be forgiven for intervening in countries about which they were so ignorant. What is harder to justify is their refusal to listen to their own intelligence agents. Chiefs of the CIA stations in Tehran, Guatemala City, Saigon, and Santiago explicitly warned against staging these coups. Officials in Washington paid no heed. They rejected or ignored all intelligence reports that contradicted what they instinctively believed.
Americans who think about and make foreign policy grasp the nature of alliances, big-power rivalries, and wars of conquest. The passionate desire of people in poor countries to assert control over their natural resources, which pushed them into conflict with the United States during the Cold War, lay completely outside the experience of most American leaders. Henry Kissinger spoke for them, eloquently as always, after Chilean foreign minister Gabriel Valdes accused him of knowing nothing about the Southern Hemisphere.
"No, and I don't care," Kissinger replied. "Nothing important can come from the south. History has never been produced in the south. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the south is of no importance."
This attitude made it easy for American statesmen to misunderstand why nationalist movements arose in the developing world.
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