PREFATORY NOTE • Anything that helps to open the eyes of people to the crimes of the Western empire is to be welcomed, and from that perspective I am grateful to RT and Kinzer for this work. That said, I do have some issues with it. Kinzer has long been an establishment journalist, and that kind of mentality is not easily expunged of all its sense of remoteness from the truth and imperial entitlements. He is now ensconced in one of the nation’s Ivy League schools, again an establishment venue. Hence his words are soft, and vague, and excusatory of the imperial perps when they should be hard and precise—the record supports that—and his examples of imperialist meddling and outright criminality, as in the case of Libya, already vastly outranked by the horrors, magnitude, and sheer depravity of the assault on Syria—which continues to this day. And who are these “we”? By the way Kinzer uses this “we” it’s clear he’s using here the old dishonest notion that US crimes in foreign policy are the product of muddy knowledge and very human mistakes wrapped in good intentions, in other words, errors, instead of deliberate actions ruthlessly carried out to advance imperium at any cost to the target populations.—The Editor
In the new RT documentary Coups R US, prominent American journalist Stephen Kinzer examines the rationale and impact of Washington’s interventions, from complacent colonialism in Hawaii to regime change in Libya.
“There are three stages. In the first one, the government that we don’t like shows bad faith by bothering an American company. Then we convince ourselves that this country is our geo-political enemy. And we sell the intervention as humanitarian intervention,” says Kinzer, who currently lectures at Brown University, in his introduction.
“We only do it to help them. We don’t do anything for ourselves; in fact we sacrifice ourselves for the good of others,” he adds sarcastically.
Guatemala, where the CIA installed a right-wing government in 1954 before backing a series of strongmen, shows the more covert Cold War-style meddling. Libya serves as a more modern example, where the media, activists, and international organizations created a public campaign of demonization and “red lines” leading to armed involvement.
“In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi looked like he might be about to carry out a human rights atrocity. So we decided it was time to participate in an operation to overthrow Gaddafi. In that operation, of course, he was killed,” says Kinzer. “So we succeeded in the short term goal: get rid of Gaddafi and depose that government. But then what happened, we didn’t have a plan for what was going to come next. We thought that by magic, some peaceful regime would emerge, everybody would cooperate, sing songs together.”
But after the 15-year disaster of Iraq, the disappointment of the Arab Spring, and the brutality of Syria where even Washington seems to have forgotten who it supports, will lessons be learned?
“The United States, at least in a relative sense, is declining in power in the world,” reasons Kinzer. “We’re not used to this. We’re not ready for this. Psychologically, Americans have always been on top. We think of ourselves as always getting our way. And we’re entering into a period when that’s not going to be so easy.”
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Parting shot—a word from the editors The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found
In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all.—Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report
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