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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.

Posted by Bulatlat

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]

Training, arming and directing Death Squads

Blatant pursuit of mass murder is another characteristic of U.S. foreign policy. Millions of innocent people striving to abolish imperialist plunder and feudal bondage or trying to advance socialism in their countries have been victimized. It continues unabated today.

The US military establishment, intelligence agencies (e.g., CIA, DIA, NSA) and U.S.-funded institutions like the USAID are among the principal architects of this continuing global holocaust. They are instrumental in creating, training, funding, providing with intelligence data and directing death squads tasked to eliminate – through mass murder – all enemies of US imperialism worldwide. Members of these death squads are elements of the regimes’ military and intelligence establishments, from the criminal underworld, private armies of local warlords, rightist religious cults and other anti-social elements. In many instances, military and intelligence agents of the U.S. serve as “leadership core” or officers of the death squads.

In his CIABASE Files on Death Squads (gathered from first-hand knowledge and from documented investigative reports of U.S. newspapers), Ralph McGehee, a former operative of the CIA[vi], divulged that the CIA provided and maintained a Watch List of anti-US imperialism elements, groups and organizations throughout the world – in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It imparted this watch List to the death squads and intelligence agencies of its puppet regimes in the third world and to other US intelligence agencies of the U.S. for proper action. According to the same document, the CIA is responsible for the establishment, training, funding and directing death squads in the following countries:

1.        Angola – the U.S.-backed rightist UNITA is engaged in extra-judicial executions of high-ranking political rivals and ill-treatment of prisoners.

2.        Argentina – General Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason oversaw the drug-financed Argentine death squads. Gen. Martin Balza, head of army, and President Carlos Menem, admitted the role of military in killing and disappearances of thousands in the puppet state’s "dirty war".

3.        Bolivia - Amnesty International reported that from October 1966-68 between 3,000 and 8,000 people killed by Bolivian death squads. One such group is the death squad "Black Hand" whose aim is to eliminate "undesirable" elements from society. Victims included prostitutes and homosexuals.

4.        Brazil - Death squads began appear after 1964 coup. After CIA-backed coup, military used death squads and torture. The death squads were formed to bolster Brazil’s national intelligence service. Many death squad members were merely off-duty police officers. U.S. AID (and presumably the CIA) knew of and supported police participation in death squad activity. Brazilian and Uruguayan death squads were closely linked and have shared training. The CIA co-coordinated meetings between the two countries’ death squads.

5.        Chile – the CIA provided DINA (the Chilean secret police) with intelligence data for the torture, massacre, and disappearance of thousands of patriotic citizens after the U.S.-instigated overthrow of President Allende.

6.        Columbia – The Columbian military and the Medellin and Cali drug cartels founded in 1981 the death squad MAS (Muerte A Secuestradores). The U.S is an accomplice. From 1986-1994 alone about 20,000 people were killed by the death squad. U.S. aid for anti-narcotics was diverted to finance the killings.

7.        Cuba – in 1956, the CIA established in Cuba the infamous Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities or BRAC, a secret police that became well known for torture and assassination of Batista’s political opponents.

8.        Dominican Republic – a total of 18 public safety program advisers – 6 of whom ere members of the CIA – organized the death squad La Banda.

9.        East Timor – from 1975-76, the Carter and Ford presidencies through the CIA and NSA, and their Australian collaborators in East Timor supported the genocide launched by the Soeharto regime against the Timorese people. About 200,000 or one-in-two Timorese died in massacres.

10.     El Salvador – from 1961 or when the CIA initiated the establishment of the vigilante group Democratic National Organization (ORDEN), especially during the height of the El Salvador civil war from 1980-1984, death squads terrorized the people of El Salvador. This reign of terror U.S.-sponsored and directed reign of terror is one of the one of the worst in terms of viciousness and one of longest running terrorism in world history. Even U.S. citizens pursuing humanitarian efforts in the country including religious people and private individuals were victimized. The entire world was shock by the death squads’ viciousness when they assassinated the country’s religious leader, the human rights activist Catholic Archbishop Romero while celebrating a mass in the cathedral. The members of the death squads became the core of the puppet state’s civil defense corps after the civil war.

11.     Ecuador – then CIA formed five squads composed of five agents from the country’s Social Christian Party. The agency supplied it with the names of 50-500 persons whom it suspected of “subversive activities.

12.     Germany – the discovery of the CIA-initiated Operation Gladio that called for the establishment of assassination teams in 1952 created a global uproar. The operation is linked to Bundes Deutscher Judged – a right-wing political organization in Hesse, Germany. Targeted for assassinations were German politicians whom the CIA suspected of having cooperating with the Soviet Union.

13.     Greece – the Greek military and police executed and jailed 10,000 citizens including left-wing militants, pride union members, journalists, writers and political leaders like the ousted Prime Minister Kanelopoulus and members of his cabinet, after the CIA-backed coup in 1967.

14.     Guatemala – the CIA bankrolled a man reported to be behind the right-wing terror in Central America, its protégé, Mario Sandoval Alarcon, the former Vice President of Guatemala. He is a pillar of the World anti-Communist League. He also became the head of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) founded by the CIA in 1953 as a paramilitary force to overthrow the nationalist Arbenz government.  Alarcon also headed the White Hand or La Mano, which is responsible for as many as 8,000 Guatemalan deaths in the 1960s.  Another vicious squad is the terrorist organization Ojo Por Ojo (An Eye for an Eye). The Guatemalan police trained by USAID, was responsible for the murder and disappearance of 15,000 people. About 2,000 Guatemalans were assassinated by the police and death squads from November 1970-May 1971 alone. Guatemalan intelligence units and the Archivo, its own death squad, on the other hand, killed more than 110,000 civilians from 1978-1994. Conservative political leaders in power that does not measure up to the level of puppetry required by the U.S. are not spared.   The CIA instigated bombings and assassination attempts against the military-reformist Christian Democratic Party (DCG) President Vinicio Cerezo whom the agency considered as being too soft against the perceived enemies of the U.S.

15.     Haiti – the CIA created Haiti’s intelligence body, the Haiti National Intelligence Service (SIN), which became the two Duvalier fascist dictatorships’ instrument of political terror. The CIA was also instrumental in the formation of FRAPH, a hit squad, which it guided together with the U.S.’ DIA in terrorizing the Haitian populace. After the temporary success of the CIA-instigated coup against the populist Aristide government, the army and paramilitary forces including the FRAPH killed at least 4,000 Haitians, tortured thousands, and created tens of thousands of refugees and 300,000 internally displaced people.

16.     Honduras – the CIA created, directed, and together with the FBI trained the death squads of Honduras including the notorious “Battalion 316.” This death squad was formed with the knowledge and assistance of the U.S. Embassy in the country. Battalion 319 is responsible for the murder of 200 Honduran teachers, students and labor leaders, and opposition politicians had been murdered. 200 Honduran teachers, students, labor leaders, opposition politicians in 1984 alone. Other death squads include the National Front for the Defense of Democracy, the Honduran Anti-Communist Movement (MACHO), and the Anti-Communist Combat Army. Violence tapered off after ouster of CIA
backed military commander Alvarez. The then CIA director William Casey and John Negroponte (who also served as US Ambassador to the Philippines) used Honduras as launching ground for U.S.-planned military incursions to subvert the anti-imperialist state of Nicaragua, complementing the Contra forces with Honduran death squads.

17.     Indonesia – the CIA provided the murderous monster General Soeharto with a list of members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) that helped the regime in murdering half a million of its citizens after its U.S.-supported coup to overthrown the then President Sukarno.

18.     Iran – the CIA trained and directed the dreaded SAVAK that terrorized anti-imperialist elements and members of the Tudeh Party and other elements that opposed U.S. domination of Iran and the puppetry of the Shah.

19.     Iraq – the CIA Iraq, 1963. CIA supplied lists of communists to Baath party group that led a coup so that they could be rounded up and eliminated.

20.     Israel – hit squads of Israeli intelligence Mossad were collaborators of the CIA in proving training to the Guatematelan and Honduran death squads in Latin America. They also trained the Inkatha hit squads of the racist South African regimes that pursued assassinations against members of the African National Congress during the country’s civil war.

21.     Italy – the CIA collaborated with the intelligence unit SIFAR that later on renamed SID under General de Lorenzo in implementing the Gladio project in Italy. The SID entered 150,000 individuals including priests, politicians and trade unionists into its lists of targets.

22.     Mexico – the Mexican DFS (Federal Security Directorate) was a creation of the CIA. It created, in turn, the Brigada Blanca, a right-wing death squad that killed thousands of Mexican students and political activists.

23.     Nicaragua – the U.S.-supported, funded, trained and directed Contras served as hit squads that sabotaged the anti-U.S. imperialism revolution of Nicaragua. Enrique Bermudez, a Contra leader, said that in Contra raids on economic targets in Northern Nicaragua, particularly coffee plantation and cooperatives, any resistance brought brutal retribution. Commandantes selected those to die. Cutting the peasants’ throats was a preferred method.

24.     Norway – the CIA collaborated with Norwegian intelligence to implement Operation Gladio.

25.     Philippines – the CIA (with the collaboration of the Philippine armed forces and intelligence units) formed, trained, directed and funded death squads from the time of anti-imperialist Huk rebellion in the 1950s and has not ceased to do so until the present. Divulged documents and the pattern of intensified state terrorism against the national democratic movement and the Filipino people today points to the United States and the Philippine puppet state’s experimenting on the implementation of the “El Salvador Solution” and the infamous “Operation Phoenix” executed by the CIA and other U.S. agencies to defeat the advancing people’s revolution.

26.      Puerto Rico – the CIA controls and doing cover-up work for the widespread murders executed by Puerto Rican police and death squads.

27.     South Africa – together with the Mossad-trained Inkatha, South African apartheid’s fiercest warriors during the civil war was the “Koevet,” an army special force engaged in campaigns of assassination against the ANC.

28.     Thailand – General Saiyut Koedphon of the CSOC admitted to collaborating with the CIA to counter subversive activities in the country. The Thai death squad under the Thai Special Branch (Santiban) where the CIA had a presence formed the Red Guars (Krathin Daeng) that undertook numerous bombings, killings, assassinations, shootings and harassment of labor leaders, peasants leaders and students.

29.     Turkey – after the CIA-supported coup, from 1960-1969, the agency assisted the Turkish Military Intelligence (MIT) in drafting plans for countering anti-imperialist elements similar to the pattern followed in Thailand, Indonesia and Greece.

30.     Uruguay – The CIA using USAID as cover established the DII or Uruguay Department of Information and Intelligence. The DII served as a cover for the fascist state’s death squad.

31.     Vietnam – the U.S. government employing its combined military, intelligence and civil establishments propping up the puppet Saigon regime implemented “Operation Phoenix” that spread absolute terror against the whole Vietnamese people through wholesale massacre, torture, warrantless arrest, disappearance, and other forms of the most brutal violations of human rights.

The United States is indeed the most notorious promoter of global lawlessness and anarchy in world history. The control of sources of information, vast army of apologists and ideologues, global dominance of conservative media establishments, and the support of other imperialist powers have enabled the U.S. to conceal its worldwide wanton violation of the human rights. Lately, it has once again showed absolute contempt to international law with its invasion of Iraq.

But no matter how powerful it is, the U.S. is a mere paper tiger if confronted by a determined resistance of the oppressed peoples. The victorious war of liberation of the Vietnamese people against the U.S. brutal war of aggression from the 1960s to 1975 demonstrated to the world’s oppressed peoples the inherent impotence of US global terrorism. The patriotic resistance of the people of Iraq where the U.S. is at present experiencing another politico-military nightmare once again and beyond doubt proves this point.



i] Originally prepared by Foreign Affairs Division, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1975.  The list is printed in  William Blum, “Killing Hope – US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, Zed Books Ltd., 7 Cynthia St., London NI 9JF, UK, 2003. William Blum is a former US State Department officer. He left the US State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration to become a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. He also wrote the book “Rouge State”.

[ii] Op.cit. pp.72-83.

iii] Ibid. pp. 290-305.

iv] Ibid. pp. 463-464

[v] Not in the book by Blum. Information divulged and condemned by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

vi] Ralph McGehee joined the CIA in 1952 as a paramilitary officer and served overseas in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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