Militarism, Terrorism and Political Repression: Hallmarks of U.S. Foreign Policy

Militarism, terrorism, and political repression are distinct characters of U.S. foreign policy. Sponsoring state terrorism by fascist dictatorships, undertaking political assassinations, and creation death squads are among the most common features of the United States’ foreign policy to secure its power over its colonies and semi-colonies.


Since becoming a capitalist power, the U.S. has been the world’s foremost militarist and terrorist state. Its global militarism and terrorism, which include genocide and ethnocide, far surpass the notoriety of the Nazis of Germany in terms of viciousness, number of victims and magnitude. The American Indians, who were practically wiped out as a race, were the first victims of its wholesale terrorism. In the Philippines, the U.S. Army killed 1.4 million Filipinos or about one-fourth of the population during its conquest of the country so that, in the words of U.S. President William McKinley, “the U.S. can civilize the Philippines and prepare the Filipinos for democracy.”

Worldwide militarism

The U.S. uses phrases like “exercising its manifest destiny,” “protecting the free world against communism,” “protecting the world against terrorism” to impose its will on the world. In his book Killing Hope, William Blum enumerated 223 instances where the United States employed its military might to subdue states and peoples to promote its rising imperialist before gaining superpower status in 1945.[i] Its militarist record include:

1. Launching wars on independent peoples and states and other capitalist powers to colonize vast territories in the North American continent and expand its national boundaries. Its military forcefully annexed (through ethnocide) the biggest part of the country from the Indians and Mexicans. Other parts of the present U.S. territory were confiscated through wars with other colonial powers like the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

2. Launching wars against independent states and against other capitalist powers to protect its commercial interests abroad.

3. Launching wars against independent states and against other colonial powers to establish U.S. colonies that later on became its semi-colonies. Among its first ventures on this kind establishing colonies through terrorist war was in the Philippines in the latter years of the 19th century through the early years of the 20th century.

4. Joining inter-imperialist global wars to re-divide the world like its involvement in the First and Second World Wars.

5. Making war against countries striving for socialism like its invasion of the then newly established Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1918, its continuing military threat and blockade of Cuba and its wars of aggression against Vietnam, North Korea and others.

6. Making war to control a particular country’s strategic natural resource like its present aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, and its declared threat of launching aggression against Iran.

Indeed, political repression and terrorism are distinct characters of U.S. foreign policy. Sponsoring state terrorism by fascist dictatorships, undertaking political assassinations, and creation death squads are among the most common features of the United States’ foreign policy to secure its power over its colonies and semi-colonies.

Instituting fascist dictatorships and promoting state terrorism

History has shown that the U.S. has had a hand in the establishment of dictatorships in the Third World. These regimes employ state terrorism to subjugate their people and secure their joint interest with the U.S. Usually, these U.S.-sponsored dictatorships arise out of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-instigated coup d’état against Third World governments that refuse to kowtow to foreign dictates. These dictatorships are the most atrocious violators of their citizens’ human rights. Their armed and security forces are notorious for their employment of torture, illegal arrest, involuntary disappearance, assassination and other methods learned from their training in U.S. military schools or from operatives of the intelligence services of the U.S. like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The biggest numbers of fascist dictatorships directly instituted or sponsored by the U.S. are in Latin America. The continent is the first vast expanse of the world that constituted the so-called Great American Lake.

Among the most notorious Latin American dictators installed by the U.S. is Castillo Armas of Guatemala from where the term “banana republic” originated. After a coup d’état engineered by the CIA and financed by the U.S. multinational firm United Fruit Company, the Armas regime launched widespread political killing and torture against the people of Guatemala[ii]. The regime also returned to the United Fruit Company the lands nationalized and subjected to land reform by the Arbenz government. Since then, the U.S. has installed one puppet and fascist regime after another to rule the country.

Another U.S.-installed Latin American dictator is Anastacio Somoza of Nicaragua. The U.S. government installed Somoza before leaving the country it subjugated as direct colony from 1927 to 1933. The U.S. established, trained and armed the Nicaraguan National Guards under Somoza. From 1934 to 1978, the U.S.-controlled National Guard under the Somoza family dynasty passed their time on Martial Law, rape, torture, murder, of the opposition, and massacres of peasants, as well as less violent pursuits such as robbery, extortion, contraband and running brothels.[iii]

Earlier than 1933, the U.S. in 1924 installed Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Trujillo himself was a victim of CIA-instigated assassination in 1961. The U.S. replaced him with his son Rafael Trujillo, Jr. whose fascism equaled that of his father.

Then there is the Jose Napoleon Duarte and Major Roberto d’Aubuisson of El Salvador. Others of equal prominence are Fulgencio Batista of pre-revolution Cuba, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, the 1963 U.S.-installed military junta in Ecuador, and the dictatorships in Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Panama.

In Asia, one the most notable is Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Under Martial Law, the Marcos regime murdered, tortured, massacred and incarcerated without cause tens of thousands of Filipinos. In Indonesia, Soeharto is accountable for the massacre of 500,000 Indonesians and another 200,000 in East Timor. The Ngo Dinh Diem and Thieu regimes of Vietnam are the principal collaborators of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. There is also the present Musharraf regime of Pakistan.

In the Middle East, there is the dictator Shah Reza Mohammed Pahlavi of Iran. The Iranian Intelligence Agency SAVAK – created, taught torture techniques and guided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad – spread its terrorism even abroad against Iranian citizens who fought against U.S. imperialism and Pahlavi’s puppetry. The state terrorism in Iran led the Amnesty International to declare in 1976 that “Iran has the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.” Ironically, the U.S. upon the overthrow of the Shah supported the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to sabotage through intermittent wars the anti-U.S. Islamic regime of Iran. Saddam Hussein is accountable for ethnocide against its Kurdish citizens and massive repression of the rights of the Iraqi people.

Another notable U.S.-supported fascist dictatorship whose extreme notoriety invited worldwide condemnation is the Duvalier dynasty of Haiti – Francois “Papa Doc Duvalier from 1957 to 1971 and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier from 1971 to 1986. The military elements of the Duvalier dynasty are guilty of murdering thousands of Haitians, of systematic torture, widespread rape, and leaving severely mutilated bodies in the streets.

Political assassinations

Another mark of US foreign policy is the patronage and direct involvement in political assassinations. Political assassinations have victimized tens of thousands of people who fight against imperialism and the puppetry of local reactionaries. U.S.-trained military elements and intelligence agents of fascist dictatorships installed by the United States in different parts of the world are the principal perpetrators of these crimes. Various agencies including the U.S. State Department, the military establishment and intelligence agencies especially the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA, provide systematic planning, intelligence gathering and technical support for these crimes.

These US agencies are themselves directly involved in high-profile assassinations against prominent personalities especially anti-US national leaders of countries belonging to the Third World. Among the cases of assassinations where the CIA has been directly involved are the following:[iv]

· 1949 – Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader

· 1950s – CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of more than 200 political figures in West Germany to be “put out of the way” in the event of Soviet invasion

· 1950s – Zhou Enlai, Prime Minister of China, several attempts on his life

· 1950s, 1962 – Sukarno, president of Indonesia

· 1951 – Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea

· 1953 – Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran

· 1950s (mid) – Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader

· 1955 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India

· 1957 – Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt

· 1959/63/69 – Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia

· 1960 – Brig. General Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq

· 1950s-70s – Jose Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life

· 1961 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, leader of Haiti

· 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of Congo

· 1961 – General Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic

· 1963 – Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam

· 1960s-1990s – Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, many attempts on his life

· 1960s – Raul Castro, high of official in government of Cuba

· 1965 – Francisco Caamano, Dominican Republic opposition leader

· 1965-66 – Charles de Gaulle, President of France

· 1967 – Che Guevarra, Cuban leader

· 1970 – General Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile

· 1970 – Salvador Allende, President of Chile

· 1970s, 1981 – General Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama

· 1972 – General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence

· 1975 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire

· 1976 – Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica

· 1980-86 – Moammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life

· 1982 – Ayatollah Khomeini – leader of Iran

· 1983 – Miguel d’Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua

· 1984 – The nine comandantes of the National Directorate of Nicaragua

· 1985 – Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader

· 1991 – Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq

· 1998, 2001 to present – Osama bin Laden, leading Islamic militant

· 1999 – Slobodan Milosevic, president of Yugoslavia

· 2002 – Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan Islamic leader, warlord, former U.S. ally

· 2003 – Saddam Hussein and his family

· Jose Maria Sison – Chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).[v]

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