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Issue #1794      September 13, 2017

Culture & Life

The real “rogue state” Part 2

See Part 1, Guardian #1791

Continuing our saga as to which country is the real “rogue state”. In this instalment, which is by no means exhaustive, we will deal mainly with the 1960s.

The US – an interfering bully on a global scale.

North Korea, which is routinely given the “rogue state” designation by the capitalist media, has never tried to assassinate the leader of another country. The USA, on the other hand, between 1959 and 2000 made over 600 (six hundred!) attempts to assassinate Cuba’s leader, Fidel Castro, using everything from exploding cigars to poison pills hidden in a cold-cream jar.

Documents released under the Clinton administration confirmed that on one occasion, aware that Castro was a keen scuba-diver, the CIA invested in a large volume of Caribbean molluscs with the intention of finding a shell big enough to contain a lethal quantity of explosives. The idea was that the molluscs would be painted in vivid colours to attract Castro’s attention while diving.

In 1959, the US took part in the so-called “Bangkok Plot”, a conspiracy to topple Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia who was considered in Washington to be too friendly towards China with which he had established relations. Sihanouk’s intelligence services discovered details of the plot and the conspiracy was crushed.

In 1960, the national liberation movement in the Belgian Congo led by Patrice Lumumba succeeded in gaining independence for the country. Belgian imperialism conspired with their US counterparts to destabilise the new regime which was once again deemed too left-wing. Belgium sent troops to “protect” Europeans and two areas of the country, Katanga and South Kasai, seceded with Belgian support. Prime Minister Lumumba called for assistance from the Soviet Union, the US (and Belgium) engineered a coup by army leader General Mobutu, Lumumba was murdered and around 100,000 people are believed to have also been killed during the crisis.

In 1961, still convinced that all that was necessary to overthrow “Communist tyranny” was for some stout fellows to proclaim “we are here to liberate you” and the oppressed people would rush into the streets to start a revolt, the CIA arranged for a contingent of anti-Communist Cuban exiles to land in Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. The invasion was serious but was promptly suppressed by the Cuban army with the full support of the Cuban people, to the confusion of the CIA’s strategists. After this fiasco, an angry President Kennedy established a new intelligence agency to provide an alternative source of intelligence to that provided by the CIA.

However, as early as March 1960, the US had initiated another covert operation against Cuba called Operation Mongoose. It was put into effect immediately after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In the words of Harvard historian Jorge Domínguez: “Operation Mongoose was a secret program against Cuba aimed at removing the Communists from power, which was a prime focus of the Kennedy administration.” A document from the US State Department disingenuously confirms that the project aimed to “help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime”, including its leader Fidel Castro, and it aimed “for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962”. They had obviously learnt nothing from the Bay of Pigs fiasco. US policymakers also wanted to see “a new government with which the United States can live in peace”, as though the Cuban government was the one carrying out military assaults and acts of terrorism.

The democratic election of historian and writer Juan Bosch, as President of the Dominican Republic in February 1963, alarmed the USA as well as pro-US business magnates in the Dominican Republic. While Bosch had been exiled from the Dominican Republic, he had aroused the fears of the US administration by spending time in countries like Cuba and Venezuela, developing his ideas.

US fears were quickly realized as Bosch undertook progressive steps the Dominican population had never known before (or since), initiating plans to reduce poverty, declaring labour rights, strengthening unions, rights for farmers, and so on. Predictably, Bosch was declared “a Communist” and less than seven months after his election, a group of army commanders, with crucial US support, expelled Bosch from the country.

Another country to come under the watchful eye of an interfering US government was Brazil. Considering its vast size and abundant natural resources, Brazil should long have been one of Latin America’s richest countries. Instead, its people have been repressed and brutalised by successive military dictatorships as the USA – the great superpower of the region – sought to maintain absolute control over the hemisphere.

In September 1961, left-wing nationalist Joao Goulart became the nation’s democratically elected president, and began implementing progressive structural reforms in the country, spreading panic in the Kennedy administration. Kennedy began preparing the groundwork to oust Goulart, a process continued after Kennedy’s assassination. His successor as US president, Lyndon Johnson, was hell-bent on ensuring Brazil did not become “the China of the 1960s”. In 1964, less than five months into Johnson’s presidency a coup toppled Goulart with crucial CIA funding and arms. Brazil was placed under a neo-Nazi dictatorship that tortured its people for over 20 years.

On February 24, 1966, the government of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was overthrown through a military and police coup d’état. The files of the US Central Intelligence Agency declassified in 1999 showed that the USA had been trying to bring about the overthrow of President Nkrumah since 1964. President Nkrumah was seen as an ally of the Soviet Union and the Socialist countries of Eastern Europe. The CIA- backed coup was the culmination of this effort.

The ’sixties ended as they had begun, with the US interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, overthrowing elected governments to please US business interests and installing and supporting hideously brutal dictatorships wherever popular movements threatened US hegemony. Behaving, in short, as a rogue state.

Part 3, the real rogue state rampages across the 1970s.

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