At the same time, in 1917 the US landed troops on Cuba and kept them there for over fifteen years. In 1918, troops landed in Panama and remained on police duty there for over two years. In 1918, US troops landed in Russia and fought the Russians for over five years. Between WWI and WWII, the US invaded Haiti, China, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Dalmatia, Turkey, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Greenland, Dutch Guiana, and Iceland.
In February, 1941, while Europe was engulfed in its third year of war and the Sino-Japanese war was in full force, the US decided to do something completely insane. They moved their entire US Pacific naval fleet from the safe and easy confines of San Diego, California, to a small island lost in the middle of the Pacific even though they new that this meant they’d be half-way to Japan and the mighty Japanese warships. Within ten months, the US fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor was attacked and the US entered WWII. It was later discovered that the Americans had broken the Japanese code weeks prior to the attack and knew full well of the Japanese intentions yet refused to let the commanders at Pearl Harbor in on the pending attack. The US deliberately played opossum allowing the Japanese to inflict the maximum amount of damage against the American forces stationed in Hawaii. 2,400 US soldiers went to their graves that day because the US government kept secret the pending attack.
At the conclusion of WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea into two separate nations. South of the 38th parallel, the US imposed a strict military rule which lasted until 1948. In 1946, the US opened its famous School of the Americas intended to “modernize” Latin American armies. Since then, more than 60,000 students have become experts in counter-insurgency, weapons training, psychological warfare and interrogation techniques. With many dictators, assassins, and hatchet men included among its graduates, this school is held in contempt throughout Latin America. Some of the graduates include Manuel Noriega, Bolivia’s Hugo Suarez and the assassins of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In just one of their courses, they teach how to eliminate potential political rivals, how to obtain information involuntarily, and how to neutralize people.
In 1948, the US invaded Nanking and Shanghai in China to evacuate Americans when Mao Tse-Tung took over mainland China. In Korea over 2.5 million people died as the US and Soviet forces battled each other on their soil. This war was never about the Koreans nor their future. Rather it was training ground for US and Soviet militaries to test their latest weapons and fighting techniques. Both sides tried to outdo the other at the complete expense of the Korean people.
Not long after Iranian President Mohammed Mosadegh vowed to nationalize British Petroleum’s holdings in his country in 1953, he was overthrown in a military coup backed by the CIA. He was replaced by the Dictator Pahlevi Shah. In 1954, after Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz expropriated 234,000 acres of unused land owned by Rockefeller’s United Fruit Company, American President Eisenhower authorized a military coup ousting Arbenz. The 1950s also saw US military intervention into Indonesia, Laos, Lebanon and Haiti.
On July 21, 1954, the Geneva Accords divide Vietnam into two countries at the 17th parallel. Ho Chi Minh is granted control of North Vietnam and Bao Dai is given South Vietnam. The Accords stipulate that a unifying election must be held within two years of the signing of the Accords, but the US refuses to allow them to proceed fearing a victory by Ho Chi Minh. On October 23, 1955, Bao Dai is ousted from power, defeated by Prime Minister Diem in a U.S.-backed plebiscite which was rigged. Diem is advised on consolidating power by U.S. Air Force Col. Edward G. Lansdale, who is attached to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In January 1957, the Soviet Union proposes permanent division of Vietnam into North and South, with the two nations admitted separately to the United Nations. The U.S. rejects the proposal, unwilling to recognize Communist North Vietnam. Meanwhile, the US steps up its military aid to South Vietnam in the form of armament, weapons, and intelligence advisors. On August 2, 1964, three North Vietnamese patrol boats attack the American destroyer U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin ten miles off the coast of North Vietnam. They fire three torpedoes and machine-guns, but only a single machine-gun round actually strikes the Maddox with no causalities. U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Ticonderoga, led by Commander James Stockdale, attack the patrol boats, sinking one and damaging the other two.
At the White House, it is Sunday morning (twelve hours behind Vietnam time). President Johnson, reacting cautiously to reports of the incident, decides against retaliation. Instead, he sends a diplomatic message to Hanoi warning of "grave consequences" from any further "unprovoked" attacks. Johnson then orders the Maddox to resume operations in the Gulf of Tonkin in the same vicinity where the attack had occurred. Meanwhile, the Joints Chiefs of Staff put U.S. combat troops on alert and also select targets in North Vietnam for a possible bombing raid, should the need arise.
On August 3, 1964, the USS Maddox, joined by a second destroyer U.S.S. C. Turner Joy begin a series of vigorous zigzags in the Gulf of Tonkin sailing to within eight miles of North Vietnam's coast, while at the same time, South Vietnamese commandos in speed boats harass North Vietnamese defenses along the coastline. By nightfall, thunderstorms roll in, affecting the accuracy of electronic instruments on the destroyers. Crew members reading their instruments believe they have come under torpedo attack from North Vietnamese patrol boats. Both destroyers open fire on numerous apparent targets but there are no actual sightings of any attacking boats.
On August 4, 1964, although immediate doubts arise concerning the validity of the second attack, the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly recommend a retaliatory bombing raid against North Vietnam. Press reports in America greatly embellish the second attack with spectacular eyewitness accounts although no journalists had been on board the destroyers. The all out invasion of Vietnam by US troops had begun. When the US finally admitted defeat and left Vietnam some eleven years later, over 56,000 US troops had died and over two million Vietnamese had gone with them. Ho Chi Minh had finally achieved his life’s dream, a free and independent Vietnam. This dream had started back in 1919 when he first approached the French at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles requesting a free and independent country from the French. Though it had taken 56 years, and cost the lives of over ten million people, Ho Chi Minh finally achieved his goal.
The 1960s also saw US intervention in Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, Zaire, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Bolivia and El Salvador. In the 1970s, the US military intervened in Cambodia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Iraq, Cypress, Angola, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan. In this last country, the CIA along with the Pakistani secret service, ISI, provided weapons to the mujahideen fighting the Soviet puppet government in Kabul eventually leading to a Soviet invasion of the country and their subsequent defeat. Funding of these groups lasted well into the 1990s and was eventually used to create both al Qaeda and the Taliban government.
The 1980s saw US intervention into Iran, El Salvador, Honduras, Libya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Cambodia, Guatemala, Grenada, Angola, Syria, Bolivia, Haiti, the Persian Gulf, Panama, Colombia, and Peru. Many of these countries were attacked multiple times during the decade. In particular, Nicaragua was attacked by the CIA-led Contras stationed in Honduras. For years these guerrilleros would randomly attack small villages and kill innocent civilians indiscriminately. In 1986, the media uncovered the sourcing of their funds which came in the form of military weaponry sold to Iran even though this had been outlawed by the Boland Amendment.
In the 1990s, the US attacked Bulgaria, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Haiti, Zaire, Sudan, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Yugoslavia. The attacks on Iraq alone cost the lives of over 500,000 infants, more than those who died at Hiroshima. In 1996, when asked if this was a just price for the sanctions against Iraq President Saddam Hussein, then UN Secretary Madeleine Albright said, “We think the price is worth it.”
And so far in the 21st Century, the US has two major conflicts raging in Afghanistan and Iraq. But they have also intervened in the Philippines, Venezuela, and Haiti. By the end of the decade the US will have lost both major conflicts it is now engaged in. That will not stop, however, its insatiable desire to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. The list I have provided is but a partial one, but it is reflective of the nature of US foreign policy since its inception and into the future. Small countries around the world can definitely fear the wrath of the US if they dare to affect US interests within their country. The United States has shown over the past two centuries that it is capable of causing complete regime change and invoking totalitarian practices in any country it so desires. For the third world, the Latin phrase “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware” still applies.