from the book

Killing Hope

by William Blum


Our fear that communism might someday take

over most of the world blinds us to the fact

that anti-communism already has.

Michael Parenti, The Anti-Communist Impulse


[This introduction is presented, with some modifications, as it appeared in 1986. At that time the Soviet Union still

existed and the cold war was very much alive. It is presented here because it offers a concise history of the cold

war and a background to understanding the impetus behind, and the nature of, the many American interventions

throughout the world.]


It was in the early days of the fighting in Vietnam that a Vietcong officer said to his American

prisoner: "You were our heroes after the War. We read American books and saw American films,

and a common phrase in those days was `to be as rich and as wise as an American'. What



An American might have been asked something similar by a Guatemalan, an Indonesian or a

Cuban during the ten years previous, or by a Uruguayan, a Chilean or a Greek in the decade

subsequent. The remarkable international goodwill and credibility enjoyed by the United States at

the close of the Second World War was dissipated country by country, intervention by

intervention. The opportunity to build the war-ravaged world anew, to lay the foundations for

peace, prosperity and justice, collapsed under the awful weight of anti-communism.


The weight had been accumulating for some time; indeed, since Day One of the Russian

Revolution. By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found in the

newly-born Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the

American troops left, having failed in their mission to "strangle at its birth" the Bolshevik state, as

Winston Churchill put it.{2} The young Churchill was Great Britain's Minister for War and Air

during this period. Increasingly, it was he who directed the invasion of the Soviet Union by the

Allies (Great Britain, the US, France, Japan and several other nations) on the side of the

counter-revolutionary "White Army". Years later, Churchill the historian was to record his views of

this singular affair for posterity:


Were they [the Allies] at war with Soviet Russia? Certainly not; but they shot Soviet

Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They armed the enemies

of the Soviet Government. They blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They

earnestly desired and schemed its downfall. But war -- shocking! Interference --

shame! It was, they repeated, a matter of indifference to them how Russians settled

their own internal affairs. They were impartial -- Bang!{3}


What was there about this Bolshevik Revolution that so alarmed the most powerful nations in the

world? What drove them to invade a land whose soldiers had recently fought alongside them for

over three years and suffered more casualties than any other country on either side of the World



The Bolsheviks had had the audacity to make a separate peace with Germany in order to take

leave of a war they regarded as imperialist and not in any way their war, and to try and rebuild a

terribly weary and devastated Russia. But the Bolsheviks had displayed the far greater audacity of

overthrowing a capitalist-feudal system and proclaiming the first socialist state in the history of

the world. This was uppitiness writ incredibly large. This was the crime the Allies had to punish,

the virus which had to be eradicated lest it spread to their own people.


The invasion did not achieve its immediate purpose, but its consequences were nonetheless

profound and persist to the present day. Professor D.F. Fleming, the Vanderbilt University

historian of the cold war, has noted:


For the American people the cosmic tragedy of the interventions in Russia does not

exist, or it was an unimportant incident long forgotten. But for the Soviet peoples and

their leaders the period was a time of endless killing, of looting and rapine, of plague

and famine, of measureless suffering for scores of millions -- an experience burned

into the very soul of a nation, not to be forgotten for many generations, if ever. Also

for many years the harsh Soviet regimentations could all be justified by fear that the

capitalist powers would be back to finish the job. It is not strange that in his address

in New York, September 17, 1959, Premier Khrushchev should remind us of the

interventions, "the time you sent your troops to quell the revolution", as he put it.{4}


In what could be taken as a portent of superpower insensitivity, a 1920 US War Department report

reads: "This expedition affords one of the finest examples in history of honorable, unselfish

dealings ... under very difficult circumstances to be helpful to a people struggling to achieve a

new liberty." {5}


History does not tell us what a Soviet Union, allowed to develop in a "normal" way of its own

choosing, would look like today. We do know, however, the nature of a Soviet Union attacked in

its cradle, raised alone in an extremely hostile world, and, when it managed to survive to

adulthood, overrun by the Nazi war machine with the blessings of the Western powers. The

resulting insecurities and fears have inevitably led to deformities of character not unlike that

found in an individual raised in a similar life-threatening manner.


We in the West are never allowed to forget the political shortcomings (real and alleged) of the

Soviet Union; at the same time we are never reminded of the history which lies behind it. The

anti-communist propaganda campaign began even earlier than the military intervention. Before

the year 1918 was over, expressions in the vein of "Red Peril", "the Bolshevik assault on

civilization", and "menace to world by Reds is seen" had become commonplace in the pages of

the New York Times.


During February and March 1919, a US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings before

which many "Bolshevik horror stories" were presented. The character of some of the testimony

can be gauged by the headline in the usually sedate Times of 12 February 1919.







Historian Frederick Lewis Schuman has written: "The net result of these hearings ... was to

picture Soviet Russia as a kind of bedlam inhabited by abject slaves completely at the mercy of

an organization of homicidal maniacs whose purpose was to destroy all traces of civilization and

carry the nation back to barbarism."{6}


Literally no story about the Bolsheviks was too contrived, too bizarre, too grotesque, or too

perverted to be printed and widely believed -- from women being nationalized to babies being

eaten (as the early pagans believed the Christians guilty of devouring their children; the same

was believed of the Jews in the Middle Ages). The story about women with all the lurid

connotations of state property, compulsory marriage, "free love", etc. "was broadcasted over the

country through a thousand channels," wrote Schuman, "and perhaps did more than anything else

to stamp the Russian Communists in the minds of most American citizens as criminal perverts".{7}

This tale continued to receive great currency even after the State Department was obliged to

announce that it was a fraud. (That the Soviets eat their babies was still being taught by the John

Birch Society to its large audience at least as late as 1978.){8}


By the end of 1919, when the defeat of the Allies and the White Army appeared likely, the New

York Times treated its readers to headlines and stories such as the following:


30 Dec. 1919: "Reds Seek War With America"

9 Jan. 1920: "`Official quarters' describe the Bolshevist menace in the Middle East as


11 Jan. 1920: "Allied officials and diplomats [envisage] a possible invasion of


13 Jan. 1920: "Allied diplomatic circles" fear an invasion of Persia

16 Jan. 1920: A page-one headline, eight columns wide: "Britain Facing War With

Reds, Calls Council In Paris."

"Well-informed diplomats" expect both a military invasion of Europe and a Soviet

advance into Eastern and Southern Asia.

The following morning, however, we could read: "No War With Russia, Allies To

Trade With Her"

7 Feb. 1920: "Reds Raising Army To Attack India"

11 Feb. 1920: "Fear That Bolsheviki Will Now Invade Japanese Territory"


Readers of the New York Times were asked to believe that all these invasions were to come from

a nation that was shattered as few nations in history have been; a nation still recovering from a

horrendous world war; in extreme chaos from a fundamental social revolution that was barely off

the ground; engaged in a brutal civil war against forces backed by the major powers of the world;

its industries, never advanced to begin with, in a shambles; and the country in the throes of a

famine that was to leave many millions dead before it subsided.


In 1920, The New Republic magazine presented a lengthy analysis of the news coverage by the

New York Times of the Russian Revolution and the intervention. Amongst much else, it observed

that in the two years following the November 1917 revolution, the Times had stated no less than

91 times that "the Soviets were nearing their rope's end or actually had reached it."{9}


If this was reality as presented by the United States' "newspaper of record", one can imagine only

with dismay the witch's brew the rest of the nation's newspapers were feeding to their readers.


This, then, was the American people's first experience of a new social phenomenon that had

come upon the world, their introductory education about the Soviet Union and this thing called

"communism". The students have never recovered from the lesson. Neither has the Soviet Union.


The military intervention came to an end but, with the sole and partial exception of the Second

World War period, the propaganda offensive has never let up. In 1943 Life magazine devoted an

entire issue in honor of the Soviet Union's accomplishments, going far beyond what was

demanded by the need for wartime solidarity, going so far as to call Lenin "perhaps the greatest

man of modern times".{10} Two years later, however, with Harry Truman sitting in the White

House, such fraternity had no chance of surviving. Truman, after all, was the man who, the day

after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, said: "If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to

help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as

many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious in any circumstance."{11} Much

propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the Soviet-German treaty of 1939, made possible

only by entirely ignoring the fact that the Russians were forced into the pact by the repeated

refusal of the Western powers, particularly the United States and Great Britain, to unite with

Moscow in a stand against Hitler;{12} as they likewise refused to come to the aid of the

socialist-oriented Spanish government under siege by the German, Italian and Spanish fascists,

and even sold arms to Hitler and Mussolini..


From the Red Scare of the 1920s to the McCarthyism of the 1950s to the Reagan Crusade against

the Evil Empire of the 1980s, the American people have been subjected to a relentless

anti-communist indoctrination. It is imbibed with their mother's milk, pictured in their comic books,

spelled out in their school books; their daily paper offers them headlines that tell them all they

need to know; ministers find sermons in it, politicians are elected with it, and Reader's Digest

becomes rich on it.


The fiercely-held conviction inevitably produced by this insidious assault upon the intellect is that

a great damnation has been unleashed upon the world, possibly by the devil himself, but in the

form of people; people not motivated by the same needs, fears, emotions, and personal morality

that govern others of the species, but people engaged in an extremely clever, monolithic,

international conspiracy dedicated to taking over the world and enslaving it; for reasons not

always clear perhaps, but evil needs no motivation save evil itself. Moreover, any appearance or

claim by these people to be rational human beings seeking a better kind of world or society is a

sham, a cover-up, to delude others, and proof only of their cleverness; the repression and

cruelties which have taken place in the Soviet Union are forever proof of the bankruptcy of virtue

and the evil intentions of these people in whichever country they may be found, under whatever

name they may call themselves: and, most important of all, the only choice open to anyone in the

United States is between the American Way of Life and the Soviet Way of Life, that nothing lies

between or beyond these two ways of making the world.


This is how it looks to the simple folk of America. One finds that the sophisticated, when probed

slightly beneath the surface of their academic language, see it exactly the same way.


And lest we think that such beliefs belong to an earlier, less enlightened period, it should be

noted that in the fall of 1987, two years after Gorbachev, when a Gallup poll asked Americans

whether they agreed that "There is an international Communist conspiracy to rule the world", 60

percent replied in the affirmative; only 28 percent disagreed.{13)


To the mind carefully brought to adulthood in the United States, the truths of anti-communism are

self-evident, as self-evident as the flatness of the world once was to an earlier mind; as the

Russian people believed that the victims of Stalin's purges were truly guilty of treason.



The foregoing slice of American history must be taken into account if one is to make sense of the

vagaries of American foreign policy since the end of World War II, specifically the record, as

presented in this book, of what the CIA and other branches of the US government have done to

the peoples of the world.


In 1918, the barons of American capital needed no reason for their war against communism other

than the threat to their wealth and privilege, although their opposition was expressed in terms of

moral indignation.


During the period between the two world wars, US gunboat diplomacy operated in the Caribbean

to make "The American Lake" safe for the fortunes of United Fruit and W.R. Grace & Co., at the

same time warning of the Bolshevik threat to righteousness from the likes of Augusto Sandino.


By the end of the Second World War, every American past the age of 40 had been subjected to

some 25 years of anti-communist radiation, the average incubation period needed to produce a

malignancy. Anti-communism had developed a life of its own, independent of its capitalist father.

Increasingly, in the post-war period, middle-aged Washington policy makers and diplomats saw

the world out there as one composed of "communists" and "anti-communists", whether of nations,

movements or individuals. This comic-strip vision of the world, with American supermen fighting

communist evil everywhere, had graduated from a cynical propaganda exercise to a moral

imperative of US foreign policy.


Even the concept of "non-communist", implying some measure of neutrality, has generally been

accorded scant legitimacy in this paradigm. John Foster Dulles, one of the major architects of

post-war US foreign policy, expressed this succinctly in his typically simple, moralistic way: "For

us there are two sorts of people in the world: there are those who are Christians and support free

enterprise and there are the others."{14} As several of the case studies in the present book

confirm, Dulles put that creed into rigid practice.



It is as true now as ever that American multinationals derive significant economic advantages

from Third World countries due to their being under-industrialized, under-diversified,

capitalist-oriented, and relatively powerless.


It is equally true that the consequence of American interventions has frequently been to keep

Third World countries in just such an underdeveloped, impotent state.


There is thus at least a prima-facie case to be made for the contention that the engine of US

foreign policy is still fueled predominantly by "economic imperialism".


But that the consequence illuminates the intent does not necessarily follow. The argument that

economic factors have continued to exert an important and direct influence upon United States

interventionist policy in modern times does not stand up to close or "micro" examination. When all

the known elements of the interventions are considered, scarcely any cases emerge which

actually conform to the economic model, and even in these the stage is shared with other factors.

The upshot in the great majority of cases is that tangible economic gain, existing or potential, did

not, and could not, play a determining role in the American decision to intervene. The economic

model proves woefully inadequate not only as a means of explanation, but even more so as a tool

of prediction. In each of the most recent cases, for example -- Grenada, El Salvador, and

Nicaragua -- American intervention was foreseen and warned of well in advance simply, and only,

because of the "communist" nature of the targets. But no one seriously suggested that some

treasure lay in these impoverished lands luring the American pirates. Indeed, after the conquest

and occupation of Grenada, the US business community displayed a marked indifference to

setting up shop on the island, despite being implored to do so by Washington for political

reasons. In other cases, where the American side failed to win a civil war, such as in China,

Vietnam and Angola, Washington put up barriers to American corporations having any commercial

dealings with the new regimes which were actually eager to do business with the United States.


But this, as mentioned, is the "micro" way of looking at the question. One can just as legitimately

approach it from a "macro" point of view. Seen from this perspective, one must examine the role

of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. The members of this network need enemies -- the

military and the CIA because enemies are their raison d'être, industry, specifically the defense

contractors, because enemies are to be fought, with increasingly sophisticated weaponry and

aircraft systems; enemies of our enemies are to be armed, to the teeth. It's made these

corporations wealthier than many countries of the world; in one year the US spends on the

military more than $17,000 per hour, for every hour since Jesus Christ was born. The executives

of these corporations have long moved effortlessly through a revolving door between industry and

government service, members in good standing of the good ol' boys club who continue to use

their positions, their wealth, and their influence, along with a compliant and indispensable media,

as we shall see, to nourish and perpetuate the fear of "communism, the enemy" now in its seventh

decade and going strong. Given the nature and machinations of the

military-industrial-intelligence complex, interventions against these enemies are inevitable, and,

from the complex's point of view, highly desirable.


In cases such as the above-mentioned Grenada, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, even if the

particular target of intervention does not present an immediate lucrative economic opportunity for

American multinationals, the target's socialist-revolutionary program and rhetoric does present a

threat and a challenge which the United States has repeatedly felt obliged to stamp out, to

maintain the principle, and as a warning to others; for what the US has always feared from the

Third World is the emergence of a good example: a flourishing socialist society independent of



Governments and movements with such programs and rhetoric are clearly not going to be

cold-war allies, are clearly "communist", and thus are eminently credible candidates for the

category of enemy.


Inextricably bound up with these motivations is a far older seducer of men and nations, the lust

for power: the acquisition, maintenance, use and enjoyment of influence and prestige; the

incomparable elation that derives from molding the world in your own beloved image.


In all these paradigms, "communist" is often no more than the name ascribed to those people who

stand in the way of the realization of such ambitions (as "national security" is the name given for

the reason for fighting "communists"). It is another twist of the old adage: if communists didn't

exist, the United States would have to invent them. And so they have. The word "communist" (as

well as "Marxist") has been so overused and so abused by American leaders and the media as to

render it virtually meaningless. (The Left has done the same to the word "fascist".) But merely

having a name for something -- witches or flying saucers -- attaches a certain credence to it.


At the same time, the American public, as we have seen, has been soundly conditioned to react

Pavlovianly to the term: it means, still, the worst excesses of Stalin, from wholesale purges to

Siberian slave-labor camps; it means, as Michael Parenti has observed, that "Classic

Marxist-Leninist predictions [concerning world revolution] are treated as statements of intent

directing all present-day communist actions."{15} It means "us" against "them".


And "them" can mean a peasant in the Philippines, a mural-painter in Nicaragua, a

legally-elected prime minister in British Guiana, or a European intellectual, a Cambodian

neutralist, an African nationalist -- all, somehow, part of the same monolithic conspiracy; each, in

some way, a threat to the American Way of Life; no land too small, too poor, or too far away to

pose such a threat, the "communist threat".


The cases presented in this book illustrate that it has been largely irrelevant whether the

particular targets of intervention -- be they individuals, political parties, movements or

governments -- called themselves "communist" or not. It has mattered little whether they were

scholars of dialectical materialism or had never heard of Karl Marx; whether they were atheists or

priests; whether a strong and influential Communist Party was in the picture or not; whether the

government had come into being through violent revolution or peaceful elections ... all have been

targets, all "communists".


It has mattered still less that the Soviet KGB was in the picture. The assertion has been frequently

voiced that the CIA carries out its dirty tricks largely in reaction to operations of the KGB which

have been "even dirtier". This is a lie made out of whole cloth. There may be an isolated incident

of such in the course of the CIA's life, but it has kept itself well hidden. The relationship between

the two sinister agencies is marked by fraternization and respect for fellow professionals more

than by hand-to-hand combat. Former CIA officer John Stockwell has written:


Actually, at least in more routine operations, case officers most fear the US

ambassador and his staff, then restrictive headquarters cables, then curious, gossipy

neighbors in the local community, as potential threats to operations. Next would

come the local police, then the press. Last of all is the KGB -- in my twelve years of

case officering I never saw or heard of a situation in which the KGB attacked or

obstructed a CIA operation.{16}


Stockwell adds that the various intelligence services do not want their world to be "complicated"

by murdering each other.


It isn't done. If a CIA case officer has a flat tire in the dark of night on a lonely road,

he will not hesitate to accept a ride from a KGB officer -- likely the two would detour

to some bar for a drink together. In fact CIA and KGB officers entertain each other

frequently in their homes. The CIA's files are full of mention of such relationships in

almost every African station.{17}


Proponents of "fighting fire with fire" come perilously close at times to arguing that if the KGB, for

example, had a hand in the overthrow of the Czechoslovak government in 1968, it is OK for the

CIA to have a hand in the overthrow of the Chilean government in 1973. It's as if the destruction

of democracy by the KGB deposits funds in a bank account from which the CIA is then justified in

making withdrawals.




What then has been the thread common to the diverse targets of American intervention which has

brought down upon them the wrath, and often the firepower, of the world's most powerful nation?

In virtually every case involving the Third World described in this book, it has been, in one form or

another, a policy of "self-determination": the desire, born of perceived need and principle, to

pursue a path of development independent of US foreign policy objectives. Most commonly, this

has been manifested in (a) the ambition to free themselves from economic and political

subservience to the United States; (b) the refusal to minimize relations with the socialist bloc, or

suppress the left at home, or welcome an American military installation on their soil; in short, a

refusal to be a pawn in the cold war; or (c) the attempt to alter or replace a government which

held to neither of these aspirations.


It cannot be emphasized too strongly that such a policy of independence has been viewed and

expressed by numerous Third World leaders and revolutionaries as one not to be equated by

definition to anti-Americanism or pro-communism, but as simply a determination to maintain a

position of neutrality and non-alignment vis-...-vis the two superpowers. Time and time again,

however, it will be seen that the United States was not prepared to live with this proposition.

Arbenz of Guatemala, Mossadegh of Iran, Sukarno of Indonesia, Nkrumah of Ghana, Jagan of

British Guiana, Sihanouk of Cambodia ... all, insisted Uncle Sam, must declare themselves

unequivocally on the side of "The Free World" or suffer the consequences. Nkrumah put the case

for non-alignment as follows:


The experiment which we tried in Ghana was essentially one of developing the

country in co-operation with the world as a whole. Non-alignment meant exactly what

it said. We were not hostile to the countries of the socialist world in the way in which

the governments of the old colonial territories were. It should be remembered that

while Britain pursued at home co-existence with the Soviet Union this was never

allowed to extend to British colonial territories. Books on socialism, which were

published and circulated freely in Britain, were banned in the British colonial empire,

and after Ghana became independent it was assumed abroad that it would continue

to follow the same restrictive ideological approach. When we behaved as did the

British in their relations with the socialist countries we were accused of being

pro-Russian and introducing the most dangerous ideas into Africa.{18}


It is reminiscent of the 19th-century American South, where many Southerners were deeply

offended that so many of their black slaves had deserted to the Northern side in the Civil War.

They had genuinely thought that the blacks should have been grateful for all their white masters

had done for them, and that they were happy and content with their lot. A Southern physician,

Samuel Cartwright, argued that many of the slaves suffered from a form of mental illness, which

he called "drapetomania", diagnosed as the uncontrollable urge to escape from slavery. In the

second half of the 20th-century, this illness, in the Third World, has usually been called



When Washington officials equate nationalism or self-determination with "communism", there are

times when they are "correct". At other times, they are "wrong". It doesn't particularly matter, for in

either case they are referring to the same phenomenon. Although, in this book, the Soviet Union,

China, various communist parties, etc., are sometimes referred to as "communist", this is primarily

a shorthand convenience and a bow to custom, and is not meant to infer a political ideology or

practice necessarily different in any way from those governments or parties not referred to as

communist. Emphasis is placed upon what these bodies have actually done, not upon reference

to what Marx or Lenin wrote.



Perhaps the most deeply ingrained reflex of knee-jerk anti-communism is the belief that the

Soviet Union (or Cuba or Vietnam, etc., acting as Moscow's surrogate) is a clandestine force

lurking behind the facade of self-determination, stirring up the hydra of revolution, or just plain

trouble, here, there, and everywhere; yet another incarnation, although on a far grander scale, of

the proverbial "outside agitator", he who has made his appearance regularly throughout history ...

King George blamed the French for inciting the American colonies to revolt ... disillusioned

American farmers and veterans protesting their onerous economic circumstances after the

revolution (Shays' Rebellion) were branded as British agents out to wreck the new republic ...

labor strikes in late-19th-century America were blamed on "anarchists" and "foreigners", during

the First World War on "German agents", after the war on "Bolsheviks".


And in the 1960s, said the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, J.

Edgar Hoover "helped spread the view among the police ranks that any kind of mass protest is

due to a conspiracy promulgated by agitators, often Communists, `who misdirect otherwise

contented people'."{19}


The last is the key phrase, one which encapsulates the conspiracy mentality of those in power --

the idea that no people, except those living under the enemy, could be so miserable and

discontent as to need recourse to revolution or even mass protest; that it is only the agitation of

the outsider which misdirects them along this path. Accordingly, if Ronald Reagan were to

concede that the masses of El Salvador have every good reason to rise up against their

god-awful existence, it would bring into question his accusation, and the rationale for US

intervention, that it is principally (only?) the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies

who instigate the Salvadoreans: that seemingly magical power of communists everywhere who,

with a twist of their red wrist, can transform peaceful, happy people into furious guerrillas. The

CIA knows how difficult a feat this is. The Agency, as we shall see, tried to spark mass revolt in

China, Albania, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe with a singular lack of

success. The Agency's scribes have laid the blame for these failures on the "closed" nature of the

societies involved. But in non-communist countries, the CIA has had to resort to military coups or

extra-legal chicanery to get its people into power. It has never been able to light the fire of

popular revolution.


For Washington to concede merit and virtue to a particular Third World insurgency would,

moreover, raise the question: Why does not the United States, if it must intervene, take the side of

the rebels? Not only might this better serve the cause of human rights and justice, but it would

shut out the Russians from their alleged role. What better way to frustrate the International

Communist Conspiracy? But this is a question that dares not speak its name in the Oval Office, a

question that is relevant to many of the cases in this book.


Instead, the United States remains committed to its all-too-familiar policy of establishing and/or

supporting the most vile tyrannies in the world, whose outrages against their own people confront

us daily in the pages of our newspapers: brutal massacres; systematic, sophisticated torture;

public whippings; soldiers and police firing into crowds; hunger, runaway unemployment, the

homeless, the refugees, the tens of thousands of disappeared persons ... a way of life that is

virtually a monopoly held by America's allies, from Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador to Turkey,

Pakistan and Indonesia, all members in good standing of the Holy War Against Communism, all

members of "The Free World", that region of which we hear so much and see so little.


The restrictions on civil liberties found in the communist bloc, as severe as they are, pale by

comparison to the cottage-industry Auschwitzes of "The Free World", and, except in that curious

mental landscape inhabited by The Compleat Anti-Communist, can have little or nothing to do

with the sundry American interventions supposedly in the cause of a higher good.


It is interesting to note that as commonplace as it is for American leaders to speak of freedom and

democracy while supporting dictatorships, so do Russian leaders speak of wars of liberation,

anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism while doing extremely little to actually further these causes,

American propaganda notwithstanding. The Soviets like to be thought of as champions of the

Third World, but they have stood by doing little more than going "tsk, tsk" as progressive

movements and governments, even Communist Parties, in Greece, Guatemala, British Guiana,

Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere have gone to the wall with American complicity.



During the early 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency instigated several military incursions into

Communist China. In 1960, CIA planes, without any provocation, bombed the sovereign nation of

Guatemala. In 1973, the Agency encouraged a bloody revolt against the government of Iraq. In

the American mass media at the time, and therefore in the American mind, these events did not



"We didn't know what was happening", became a cliché used to ridicule those Germans who

claimed ignorance of the events which took place under the Nazis. Yet, was their stock answer as

far-fetched as we'd like to think? It is sobering to reflect that in our era of instant world-wide

communications, the United States has, on many occasions, been able to mount a large- or

small-scale military operation or undertake another, equally blatant, form of intervention without

the American public being aware of it until years later, if ever. Often the only report of the event or

of US involvement was a passing reference to the fact that a communist government had made

certain charges -- just the kind of "news" the American public has been well conditioned to

dismiss out of hand, and the press not to follow up; as the German people were taught that

reports from abroad of Nazi wrong-doings were no more than communist propaganda.


With few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With

some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together

to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact,

quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten, bursting into the foreground only

when extraordinary circumstances have compelled it, such as the Iranian hostage crisis which

produced a rash of articles on the role played by the United States in the overthrow of the Iranian

government in 1953. It was as if editors had been spurred into thinking: "Hey, just what did we

do in Iran to make all those people hate us so?"


There have been a lot of Irans in America's recent past, but in the absence of the New York Daily

News or the Los Angeles Times conspicuously grabbing the reader by the collar and pressing

against his face the full implication of the deed ... in the absence of NBC putting it all into real

pictures of real people on the receiving end ... in such absence the incidents become non-events

for the large majority of Americans, and they can honestly say "We didn't know what was



Former Chinese Premier Chou En-lai once observed: "One of the delightful things about

Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory."


It's probably even worse than he realized. During the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant

accident in Pennsylvania in 1979, a Japanese journalist, Atsuo Kaneko of the Japanese Kyoto

News Service, spent several hours interviewing people temporarily housed at a hockey rink --

mostly children, pregnant women and young mothers. He discovered that none of them had heard

of Hiroshima. Mention of the name drew a blank.{20}


And in 1982, a judge in Oakland, California said he was appalled when some 50 prospective

jurors for a death-penalty murder trial were questioned and "none of them knew who Hitler



To the foreign policy oligarchy in Washington, it is more than delightful. It is sine qua non.


So obscured is the comprehensive record of American interventions that when, in 1975, the

Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress was asked to undertake a study of

covert activities of the CIA to date, it was able to come up with but a very minor portion of the

overseas incidents presented in this book for the same period.{22}


Yet, all the information is there for the reading. I have not had access to the secret archives of the

CIA or other government agencies. The details of the interventions have been gathered from

books, newspapers, periodicals, and US Government publications freely available in one library

or another. But for all that has made its way into popular consciousness, or into school texts,

encyclopedias, or other standard reference works, there might as well exist strict censorship in

the United States.


The reader is invited to look through the relevant sections of the three principal American

encyclopedias, Americana, Britannica, and Colliers, after completing this book. The image of

encyclopedias as the final repository of objective knowledge takes a beating. What is tantamount

to a non-recognition of American interventions may very well be due to these esteemed works

employing a criterion similar to that of Washington officials as reflected in the Pentagon Papers.

The New York Times summarized this highly interesting phenomenon thusly:


Clandestine warfare against North Vietnam, for example, is not seen ... as violating

the Geneva Accords of 1954, which ended the French Indochina War, or as

conflicting with the public policy pronouncements of the various administrations.

Clandestine warfare, because it is covert, does not exist as far as treaties and public

posture are concerned. Further, secret commitments to other nations are not sensed

as infringing on the treaty-making powers of the Senate, because they are not

publicly acknowledged.{23}


The de facto censorship which leaves so many Americans functionally illiterate about the history

of US foreign affairs may be all the more effective because it is not official, heavy-handed or

conspiratorial, but woven artlessly into the fabric of education and media. No conspiracy is

needed. The editors of Reader's Digest and U.S. News and World Report do not need to meet

covertly with the man from NBC in an FBI safe-house to plan next month's stories and programs;

for the simple truth is that these men would not have reached the positions they occupy if they

themselves had not all been guided through the same tunnel of camouflaged history and emerged

with the same selective memory and conventional wisdom.



As extensive as the historical record presented here is, it is by no means meant to be a complete

catalogue of every instance and every kind of American intervention since the Second World War.

We are, after all, dealing largely with events which were covert when they occurred and which, for

the most part, remain officially classified. Moreover, with but a few exceptions, this study does not

concern itself with espionage or counter-espionage other than in passing. These areas have been

well documented in countless "spy" books. Generally speaking, the study is confined to the more

significant or blatant cases of intervention: the use of armed aggression by American and/or

native troops acting with the United States; an operation, successful or not, to overthrow a

government; an attempt to suppress a popular rebellion or movement; an attempted assassination

of a political leader; gross interference in an election, or other flagrant manipulation of a

country's political or economic system.


To serve these ends, the CIA over the years has made use of an extraordinary arsenal of

weapons. Because of space considerations and to avoid excess repetition, only selected

examples are given here and there amongst the cases. In actuality, at least one, and usually

more, of these tactics was brought to bear in virtually every instance. Principal among them are

the following:


1) CIA schools: in the United States and Latin America, where many tens of thousands of Third

World military and police personnel have been taught modern methods of controlling insurgency

and "subversion"; instruction includes techniques of "interrogation" (often a euphemism for

torture); members of the labor movement learn the how and why of organizing workers within a

framework of free enterprise and anti-communism.

2) Infiltration and manipulation of selected groups: political parties, women's organizations,

professional, youth and cultural associations, etc., for electoral and propaganda purposes; the

creation of unions -- local, regional, national and international -- set up to counterpoise and

weaken existing labor groups too closely oriented towards social change and the left.

3) News manipulation: the "hiring" of foreign editors, columnists and journalists ... "I guess I've

bought as much newspaper space as the A & P," chortled a former CIA officer one day{24}; the

creation and/or subsidizing of numerous periodicals, news services, radio stations, books, and

book publishers. Considering all assets, the CIA, at least until the late 1970s, has run what

probably amounts to the largest news organization in the world; its propaganda and

disinformation effect is routinely multiplied by world-wide replay.

4) Economic means: in concert with other US government agencies, such as AID, private

American corporations, and international lending institutions, the methods of manipulating and

applying pressure to selected sectors of a country's economy, or the economy as a whole, are

without number.

5) Dirty tricks department: bugging, wire-tapping, forged documents, bogus personal letters,

planting of evidence, spreading rumors, blackmail, etc., etc., to create incidents or obtain

information to embarrass the left, locally and internationally, particularly to lend credence to

charges of a Moscow or Havana conspiracy; to provoke the expulsion of communist-bloc

diplomats or the breaking of relations with those countries; to foster distrust and dissension within

the left.


Although the cases which follow are presented as more or less discrete stories, fixed in time and

with beginnings and ends, this is done mainly to keep the information within manageable bounds

and to highlight the more dramatic turns of events, and is not meant to indicate that there was no

significant CIA activity in the particular country before or after the years specified. The reader

should therefore keep in mind that the above types of operation as well as others are all ongoing

programs, carried out routinely in numerous countries, including many not listed in this book. This

is the Agency's "job", what its officers do for a living.



"The upheaval in China is a revolution which, if we analyze it, we will see is prompted by the

same things that prompted the British, French and American revolutions." {25} A cosmopolitan

and generous sentiment of Dean Rusk, then Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, later

Secretary of State. At precisely the same time as Mr. Rusk's talk in 1950, others in his

government were actively plotting the downfall of the Chinese revolutionary government.


This has been a common phenomenon. For many of the cases described in the following pages,

one can find statements of high or middle-level Washington officials which put into question the

policy of intervention; which expressed misgivings based either on principle (sometimes the

better side of American liberalism) or concern that the intervention would not serve any

worthwhile end, might even result in disaster. I have attached little weight to such dissenting

statements as, indeed, in the final analysis, did Washington decision-makers who, in

controversial world situations, could be relied upon to play the anti-communist card. In presenting

the interventions in this manner, I am declaring that American foreign policy is what American

foreign policy does.



Though I am clearly opposed to the American interventions on both political and moral grounds, I

have striven to not let this color my selection of facts; to not fall prey to that familiar failing:

choosing one's facts to fit one's thesis. Which is to say, I have not knowingly omitted any facts

which contradict in any significant way the information I have presented, or the implications of

that information. Further, I have chosen not to take into account a number of intriguing

disclosures concerning American interventions where I felt that the source could not be

sufficiently trusted and/or the information was not presented or documented in a manner which

made it credible to me. In any event, it is not demanded of the reader that he accept my biases,

but that he reflect upon his own{26}




return to beginning return to mid-text


1. Washington Post, 24 October 1965, article by Stanley Karnow.


2. Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, The Hinge of Fate (London, 1951), p. 428.


3. Winston Churchill, The World Crisis: The Aftermath (London, 1929), p. 235.


4. D.F. Fleming, "The Western Intervention in the Soviet Union, 1918-1920", New World Review

(New York), Fall 1967; see also Fleming, The Cold War and its Origins, 1917-1960 (New York,

1961), pp. 16-35.


5. Los Angeles Times, 2 September 1991, p. 1.


6. Frederick L. Schuman, American Policy Toward Russia Since 1917 (New York, 1928), p. 125.


7. Ibid., p. 154.


8. San Francisco Chronicle, 4 October 1978, p. 4.


9. New Republic, 4 August 1920, a 42-page analysis by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz.


10. Life, 29 March 1943, p. 29.


11. New York Times, 24 June 1941; for an interesting account of how US officials laid the

groundwork for the cold war during and immediately after World War 2, see the first two chapters

of Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower (New York, 1981), a study of previously

classified papers at the Eisenhower Library.


12. This has been well documented and would be "common knowledge" if not for its shameful

implications. See, e.g., the British Cabinet papers for 1939, summarized in the Washington Post,

2 January 1970 (reprinted from the Manchester Guardian); also Fleming, The Cold War, pp.



13. Los Angeles Times, 15 December 1987; the figure of 28% disagreeing was obtained by the

author from the Times reporter. For a highly insightful and readable description of the

anti-communist mentality in the United States, see Michael Parenti, The Anti-Communist Impulse

(Random House, New York, 1969).


14. Related by former French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau in a recorded interview for the

Dulles Oral History Project, Princeton University Library; cited in Roger Morgan, The United

States and West Germany, 1945-1973: A Study in Alliance Politics (Oxford University Press,

London, 1974), p. 54, my translation from the French.


15. Parenti, p. 35.


16. John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (New York, 1978), p. 101. The expressions "CIA officer"

or "case officer" are used throughout the present book to denote regular, full-time, career

employees of the Agency, as opposed to "agent", someone working for the CIA on an ad hoc

basis. Other sources which are quoted, it will be seen, tend to use the word "agent" to cover both



17. Ibid., p. 238.


18. Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana (London, 1968), pp. 71-2.


19. The full quotation is from the New York Times, 11 January 1969, p. 1; the inside quotation is

that of the National Commission.


20. Mother Jones magazine (San Francisco), April 1981, p. 5.


21. San Francisco Chronicle, 14 January 1982, p. 2.


22. Richard F. Grimmett, "Reported Foreign and Domestic Covert Activities of the United States

Central Intelligence Agency: 1950-1974" (Library of Congress report) 18 February 1975.


23. The Pentagon Papers (N.Y. Times edition, 1971), p. xiii.


24. Newsweek, 22 November 1971, p. 37.


25. Speech before the World Affairs Council at the University of Pennsylvania, 13 January 1950,

cited in the Republican Congressional Committee Newsletter, 20 September 1965.


26. The last sentence is borrowed from Michael Parenti, op. cit., p. 7.


Taken from Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II;

by William Blum

Killing Hope