Regime Change, Bad and Unforseen Consequence, and Hypocrisy
by Jonathan A. Weiss
Widespread outrage about Russian interference in the 2016 election focuses on the abuse of Social Media and the dissemination of confidential emails from the Hillary Clinton camp. There does not appear to be solid evidence of any direct meddling with the voting process itself. That seems now be a major threat because 13 States have no paper trail with ancient machines while all electronic systems in place may be vulnerable to hacking. A return and general use of the old system in New York of punches and levers marking paper ballots (with electronic equipment available for the blind and otherwise limited voter) or the equivalent is clearly desirable. (Some States are opposed to such procedure in order to retain the power to corrupt State elections).
It is far from clear what the effect of the Russian actions in support of Trump was. Other factors are dominant. The electoral college thwarted the popular vote with a margin for Hillary Clinton approaching 3 million. There was widespread voter suppression and exclusion (still to be corrected.) Jill Stein and the Green Party siphoned off votes (the same amount in Wisconsin as Trump’s margin of victory.) Comey’s announcement just before the election of a new investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of emails (which then a few days later was admitted to turn up nothing) violated FBI rules was certainly negative. The media had covered Trump intensively from the beginning and often projected a perceived public dislike of the Democrat. Many now fault her campaign with its failure for her to campaign in crucial States which she lost narrowly.
The American outrage of “interference in our Democracy” has to be contrasted with American actions in the choice in governance of other countries. A long list of covert activities (and some quick direct action – e.g. Granada) can be compiled easily. We will just list a few dramatic highlights (not failures such as the Bay of Pigs invasion to topple Fidel Castro) which have occurred since World War II. There are others where the CIA may have been complicit. The Belgium government murdered Patrick Lumumba in 1960 and apologized for this act in 2001. He appeared to be made from the same mold as Mandela but was replaced by Mobuto, the ruthless dictator who participated in the subsequent plunder with extensive deprivations for the citizens.
General Douglas MacArthur created the background for the multitude of actions against government leaders. As soon as he took over the control of Japan, he forced the Emperor to renounce his divinity causing national trauma. Portrayed, for example, in the Nobel Laureate Kenzuboro Oe’s novels among many others.
After North Korea invaded South Korea driving that government into a fraction of control of the Country, MacArthur was apparently tasked to drive the North Koreans back to the 38th Parallel. With the superior forces, however, MacArthur continue North, rushing past that demarcation to attempt to conquer all of North Korea for the South Korea government. He reached the northern border of Korea at the Yalu river in July of 1953. Apparently, no one had informed anyone that Chinese troops were massed on the other side, who then came in and drove the American and South Koreans back . . . basically to the 38th parallel with a whole North Korean government controlling the North. There are now three generations of horrendous heads of State there who have inflicted devastating harm of the citizens and seem to have retained a paranoid view of American policy – leading to a massive allocation of resources to nuclear weapons. posing real dangers.
John Foster Dulles was undeterred. After the French fled Vietnam he went to exercise considerable influence over the Geneva accords in 1954 which established the divided country. He did not sign them but agitated successfully for American aid to the South with “advisors” sent. The subsequent history is well known as Kennedy when President sent in more “advisors” to the South reaching 25,000 military involved. The Diem regime did not please him as it seemed to fail. In May 1963 he changed that regime by the assassination of Diem himself. Obviously that did not solve the problem, while the war then greatly expanded to devastate the landscape and neighboring countries (thanks to Henry Kissinger), bloodied that landscape with extensive carnage; and suffering was escalated enormously but ended with ultimate complete American failure.
The Dulles brothers were not discouraged or restricted. (Allen was reappointed to head the CIA, Kennedy’s second appointment, after continuing the evil with Hoover in office). In 1953, Mosadeq was assassinated in Operation Ajax which led to the Shah, then the far right religious regime winning a revolution, American hostages kept there by a deal with Ronald Reagan for arms and release after his inauguration. In 1954, to the delight of United Fruit, Operation PBSuccess launched by the CIA ended the 10 year peaceful regime of Jacob Abenz to install a dictator who drove that country’s economy into the ground along with the people. It has been characterized as “the death of Democracy” (to be criticized in 1999 by President Bill Clinton ) but was justified by anti-communism, a constant justificatory invocation, serving for the 1981-8 Contra War against the Sandinistas who had ended the dictatorship of Samosa in Nicaragua. It does not seem a coincidence that these are two of the three countries in the Northern Triangle with refugees trying to come to the United States to survive. Instead of maltreatment, the solution lies in a Marshall Plan to help those countries recover.
A bizarre personal memory. I was living in Monteverde Nuovo in Rome in 1973 – which turned out to be an Italian Communist neighborhood. We acknowledge the enormous American contributions to the Christian Democrats who stayed in expanding and metastasizing corrupt power for many years, justified again as preventing the Communists from winning the first Italian election after WWII – joined by the Vatican and Mafia apparently. I heard on Armed Forces radio that Allende had been ousted in Chile with bloody details apparently an hour (actual, not time zone) before it happened and was reported as occurring – in that neighborhood, then put into shock. Pinochet replaced him. History and fiction exhibit him as one of the most murderous repressive tyrants of this period, or perhaps any – another coup by the United States government for regime change.
The “Arab Spring” started in Tunisia in 2010 creating the only lasting democracy from that popular explosion apparently succeeding without foreign involvement. The United States supported regime changes in all affected countries (including Libya where Gaddafi has fulfilled his denuclearization agreement with the USA.). The current chaos continues.
Dramatic events became unending (and divisive) wars throughout the region as the leaders, no matter how contemptible, had provided some stability with much less violence. Compare Yugoslavia under and after Tito. Syria is a catastrophe of failure. The movie Official Secrets details the Bush, Jr. administration’s clear fabrications, with British involvement, to justify the Second (after his father’s) invasion of Iraq with the hanging of Sadam Hussein, leaving a complete mess. Complementary, after Reagan had armed the anti-Russian forces who mainly metamorphosized into the revoltingly repressive Taliban, while the Russians gave up on the annexation and regime change. Bush, Jr. sent massive troops to Afghanistan in 2001 to kill Bid Laden, considered to be behind the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Towers. We will never know the details of many matters including hierarchy of those involved, since he was much later killed by the Seals, in Pakistan. There seems be no end to this war with the religious reactionary regime by Taliban. That enemy has more control of areas than before the commitment of United Stats troop and current commitment to a particular leadership. So much for the post justification of destroying Taliban shelter for terrorists and even bringing democracy. Trump makes noises about pulling out the military after which expectations should not be high.
Now Russia itself. Gorbachev had created many advances from the terrible tyranny that Stalin started (and was mainly continued after his death), including opening free speech and diplomacy. Herzog’s excellent documentary about him details the progress. Meanwhile, Boris Yelstin, a drunk, famous for climbing on a tank, became an American media darling who subsequently covered him outside of Clinton’s White House, plastered, and only in his underwear, hailing a cab. He continued his ascent to power, meanwhile, Nato was moving its military organization closer to incorporating former Russian allies from the Warsaw Pact, meant to be its balance. This incursion began to woo the Ukraine, literally in Russian, “at the border” which increased that country’s paranoia about the West and particularly the USA. Russians still have the memory of many incursions into their territory. WWII, was called “The Patriotic War” and caused over ten millions death there, much more than other allies attacked by the Nazis and Japan.
In February of 1996 when Yelstin was running for President the polls had him at only 6% popularity. Bill Clinton sent over three advisors who, among other projects, created negative ads demonizing the Communists who were leading in the polls. Yelstin won. A great deal on money came in to support him (not clear whether it was all corporations and banks or whether the United States government contributed). It all went downhill from there. After participating in the break up of the Soviet Union, he made his major appointment before disappearing into an alcoholic fog.
In August of 1999, Yeltsin appointed Putin as prime minister.
There is a saying “The Devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”. American foreign policy and domestic is often blinded by reactive anti-communism (with no distinction made for different manifestations as in Cuba and Italy) and supported by big interested companies has not been informed by good intelligence providing knowledge of ethnic and religious components of a society or forecasting the very contingent future. The regime changes sponsored have often led to dictatorships, repression, starvation – officially unexpected but bad consequences.
In particular, given the American involvement in Russia leading to the creation of Trump’s friend Putin, it is hypocritical to complain about theirs. Better to offer the proposition that foreign countries, including the USA with troops in 168 foreign territories and CIA agents widely dispersed, should not impose or influence regime changes in other sovereign States.
The energy spent on condemning Russian meddling is best spent on securing, what should be our freely available votes from computer hacking, while keeping all relevant papers not capable of misreading so that the Supreme Count can not wrongly crown another terrible President.
Diplomacy works better than assassination.
Talking is better than killing.