The U.S. is backing Ukraine’s extreme right-wing Svoboda party and violent neo-Nazis whose armed uprising paved the way for a Western-backed coup. Events in the Ukraine are giving us another glimpse through the looking-glass of U.S. propaganda wars against fascism, drugs and terrorism. The ugly reality behind the mirror is that the U.S. government has a long and unbroken record of working with fascists, dictators, druglords and state sponsors of terrorism in every region of the world in its elusive but relentless quest for unchallenged global power.
Behind a firewall of impunity and protection from the State Department and the CIA, U.S. clients and puppets have engaged in the worst crimes known to man, from murder and torture to coups and genocide. The trail of blood from this carnage and chaos leads directly back to the steps of the U.S. Capitol and the White House. As historian Gabriel Kolko observed in 1988, “The notion of an honest puppet is a contradiction Washington has failed to resolve anywhere in the world since 1945.” What follows is a brief A to Z guide to the history of that failure.
In the 1980s, the U.S. worked with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Afghanistan’s socialist government. It funded, trained and armed forces led by conservative tribal leaders whose power was threatened by their country’s progress on education, women’s rights and land reform. After Mikhail Gorbachev withdrew Soviet forces in 1989, these U.S.-backed warlords tore the country apart and boosted opium production to an unprecedented level of 2,000 to 3,400 tons per year. The Taliban government cut opium production by 95% in two years between 1999 and 2001, but the U.S. invasion in 2001 restored the warlords and drug lords to power. Afghanistan now ranks 175th out of 177countries in the world for corruption, 175th out of 186 in human development, and since 2004, it has produced an unprecedented 5,300 tons of opium per year. President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was well known as a CIA-backed drug lord. After a major U.S. offensive in Kandahar province in 2011, Colonel Abdul Razziq was appointed provincial police chief, boosting a heroin smuggling operation that already earned him $60 million per year in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Between 1949 and 1953, the U.S. and U.K. set out to overthrow the government of Albania, the smallest and most vulnerable communist country in Eastern Europe. Exiles were recruited and trained to return to Albania to stir up dissent and plan an armed uprising. Many of the exiles involved in the plan were former collaborators with the Italian and German occupation during World War II. They included former Interior Minister Xhafer Deva, who oversaw the deportations of “Jews, Communists, partisans and suspicious persons” (as described in a Nazi document) to Auschwitz. Declassified U.S. documents have since revealed that Deva was one of 743 fascist war criminals recruited by the U.S. after the war.
U.S. documents declassified in 2003 detail conversations between U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentinian Foreign Minister Admiral Guzzetti in October 1976, soon after the military junta seized power in Argentina. Kissinger explicitly approved the junta’s “dirty war,” in which it eventually killed up to 30,000, most of them young people, and stole 400 children from the families of their murdered parents. Kissinger told Guzzetti, “Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed… the quicker you succeed the better.” The U.S. Ambassador in Buenos Aires reported that Guzzetti “returned in a state of jubilation, convinced that there is no real problem with the US government over that issue.” (“Daniel Gandolfo,” “Presente!”)
In 1964, General Castelo Branco led a coup that sparked 20 years of brutal military dictatorship. U.S. military attache Vernon Walters, later Deputy CIA Director and UN Ambassador, knew Castelo Branco well from World War II in Italy. As a clandestine CIA officer, Walters’ records from Brazil have never been declassified, but the CIA provided all the support needed to ensure the success of the coup, including funding for opposition labor and student groups in street protests, as in Ukraine and Venezuela today. A U.S. Marine amphibious force on standby to land in Sao Paolo was not needed. Like other victims of U.S.-backed coups in Latin America, the elected President Joao Goulart was a wealthy landowner, not a communist, but his efforts to remain neutral in the Cold War were as unacceptable to Washington as President Yanukovich’s refusal to hand the Ukraine over to the west 50 years later.
When President Nixon ordered the secret and illegal bombing of Cambodia in 1969, American pilots were ordered to falsify their logs to conceal their crimes. They killed at least half a million Cambodians, dropping more bombs than on Germany and Japan combined in World War II. As the Khmer Rouge gained strength in 1973, the CIA reported that its “propaganda has been most effective among refugees subjected to B-52 strikes.” After the Khmer Rouge killed at least 2 million of its own people and was finally driven out by the Vietnamese army in 1979, theU.S. Kampuchea Emergency Group, based in the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, set out to feed and supply them as the “resistance” to the new Vietnamese-backed Cambodian government. Under U.S. pressure, the World Food Program provided $12 million to feed 20,000 to 40,000 Khmer Rouge soldiers. For at least another decade, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency provided the Khmer Rouge with satellite intelligence, while U.S. and British special forces trained them to lay millions of land mines across Western Cambodia which still kill or maim hundreds of people every year.
When Salvador Allende became President in 1970, President Nixon promised to“make the economy scream” in Chile. The U.S., Chile’s largest trading partner, cut off trade to cause shortages and economic chaos. The CIA and State Department had conducted sophisticated propaganda operations in Chile for a decade, funding conservative politicians, parties, unions, student groups and all forms of media, while expanding ties with the military. After General Pinochet seized power, the CIA kept Chilean officials on its payroll and worked closely with Chile’s DINA intelligence agency as the military government killed thousands of people and jailed and tortured tens of thousands more. Meanwhile, the “Chicago Boys,” over 100 Chilean students sent by a State Department program to study under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, launched a radical program of privatization, deregulation and neoliberal policies that kept the economy screaming for most Chileans throughout Pinochet’s 16-year military dictatorship.
By the end of 1945, 100,000 U.S. troops were fighting alongside Chinese Kuomintang (and Japanese) forces in Communist-held areas of northern China. Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang may have been the most corrupt of all U.S. allies