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Stephen Kinzer is a former foreign correspondent of The New York Times. He wrote such famous books as All the Shah’s Men about Iran and Bitter Fruit about Guatemala. His book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq was first published in 2006. Stephen Kinzer analyzed the foreign policy of the United States from the very beginning to the present day. The author came to the conclusion that the United States was involved in various inner problems of different countries and helped to change their legal governments. Moreover, Stephen Kinzer defines reasons for those changes, describes inner situations, determines the differences between various overthrows and how the United States helped local rebels during various historical periods and analyzes various coups according to the historical periods. Moreover, Stephen Kinzer analyzes the results and consequences of such a foreign policy of the United States. He tries to understand the past and current foreign policy of the United States, and the role of America in solving various global problems including famine, genocide, local wars, and armed conflicts. Although the author has his own attitude to the foreign policy of the United States, his book helps to study the history of international relations between the United States and countries of the third world.
According to Kinzer, there are three historical periods in the world that determine the foreign policy of the United States. They are the imperial phase, the post-World War II and the Cold War period, and the contemporary period after the decline and collapse of the world socialist system. Each period influenced the foreign policy of the United States. They are characterized by certain approaches of the United States to the changes in the world and how the American government solved global problems by helping certain countries to change their regimes according to American interests. These approaches and aids were different in each specific case, but the main goal was unchangeable: to provide protection of the American interests in the world with the help of changing regimes in the third world’s countries.
According to the book, the imperial period of the United States foreign policy began in 1893 when the United States helped with the overthrow of the monarchy in Hawaii. As Stephen Kinzer (2006) states, “several hundred American missionaries, most of them from New England, sailed off to what were then called the Sandwich Islands to devote their lives to, as they would have put it” teach the local inhabitants Christianity and European civilization. Thus, American missionaries discovered that native people produced sugar. Then, white people bought land from them and began producing sugar from a series of Hawaiian giant plantations. Of course, they exported sugar to the United States. In the 1890s, the United States passed the law forbidding import sugar from Hawaii. As a result, economic panic began. It caused riots among native people because they could not sell their sugar without paying high import duties. The very way was to join the United States of America. Therefore, the queen of Hawaii had to demise the crown for the sake of improving the economic condition in the country. In this example, the United States did not seize the country with the help of the armed forces but created a special economic situation that forced the Hawaiian queen to give up independence. Thus, the United States possessed a new territory with a profitable branch of industry.
After World War II, the United States was in an ideological, political, cultural, and economic confrontation with the Soviet Union and its socialist satellites. Although the American economy was much stronger, the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons, and anytime the World War III could have broken out. At that time, the American foreign policy was defined by various corporations and international giant companies like United Fruit and International Nickel. Therefore, the main task of American policy was to protect American corporations. Moreover, almost the whole of Congress was a shareholder of the United Fruit. Thus, the main doctrine to develop foreign relations with the countries of the third world was a doctrine of Dulles. “Dulles was one of the key figures in shaping the second half of the 20th century”. Dulles was the most successful corporate lawyer, who strived to protect the business interests of all giant American companies all around the world. Thus, he defined that American foreign policy should protect the economic interests of the most successful American corporations. At the same time, Dulles considers America as a God-blessed country to protect the interests of democracy and progress all over the world. According to Dulles, the whole world is black and white. The black part of the world in countries with totalitarian and anti-democratic governments, and the white one is the United States, West-European powers and all their allies. Therefore, Dulles considers that the United States should establish democracy in countries of the third world to protect the world from totalitarianism, famine, genocide, wars, and other disasters.
At the same time, Dulles considers the communist regime as the most dangerous for the United States and the whole of humanity. At that time, the greatest confrontation exists between Western civilization and the Soviet Union. The world was divided into two parts and World War III with the use of nuclear weapons could have broken out at any time. The Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the Iranian Revolution, and Afghan events determined political thought in the United States. Thus, the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union deeply influenced the further development of American foreign policy. For instance, the dream about the world socialist revolution and the Soviet activity after 1917, the Pact of Molotov-Ribbentrop, the World War II, and creation of the nuclear weapon with the nuclear arms race gave every opportunity to blame the Soviet totalitarian regime as the real threat to the western civilization.
In order to avoid escalation of the international confrontation, the United States changed its tactics to influence countries of the third world. Thus, the United States began using clandestine coups to change regimes. For instance, America changed the regime in Chile in 1973. The socialist regime of Alliende did not cope with poverty in the country. Moreover, it was a totalitarian regime because socialism could not exist without eliminating the private property on means of production, land, and capital, but Kinzer claims it was the Chilean democracy. Thus, the author excused the Chilean totalitarian regime because socialists were elected by the people. According to Kinzer, Chilean people chose the democratic way, despite the fact that socialists took away the property of the world-known companies such as Kennecott, Anaconda, and I.T.T. Therefore, the United States was forced to support Pinochet to seize power in the country. In this case, American troops did not take part in the Chilean overthrow, but the United States provided Pinochet with money, weapon, and other technical facilities. As a result, the totalitarian regime of Pinochet seized power in Chile. Of course, human rights in Chile were not observed properly. Thousands of socialists were arrested at that time; however, in twenty years, Chile has turned into a modern and powerful state. Cuba with the totalitarian regime of Fidel Castro, on the contrary, remained a backward country, entirely depended on the Soviet Union.
The next example is the American intrusion in Guatemala in 1954. In this case, the United Fruit Company controlled the whole economic life of Guatemala. At that time, the company purchased over half of million acres of the richest rural land, which was not used, while thousands of Guatemalan peasants were starving. Therefore, President Arbenz requested the United Fruit Company to sell the vacant land for the real coordinated price, but the Company wanted to sell it ten times more expensive. Thus, the Guatemalan people were doomed to famine. To make things worse, the United Fruit Company assured the American government that President Arbenz was about to establish the socialist totalitarian regime with the help of the land reform, and it was a part of the Kremlin operation against the United States. The Secretary of State Dulles did his best to protect the United States' interests with the help of a coup. As a result, a new totalitarian regime was established in Guatemala. Thus, the United States doomed the Guatemalan people to genocide with the help of the foreign policy dictated by the Fruit United Company. As a consequence, thirty years of civilian war broke out in Guatemala. Of course, it was one of the crudest errors of the American foreign policy caused by the deliberate deception. The best solution was to cease fire and conduct democratic elections. At the same time, the United States had to aid Guatemala to overcome the aftermath of the civil war and to establish democratic principles in the Guatemalan society.
Over 2 million people were killed in Cambodia by the totalitarian regime of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary of the Khmer Rouge Communist Party between the years 1975 and 1979. The exact number of tolls is unknown. The regime proclaimed the prohibition on the existence of Vietnamese, Chinese, and twenty other ethnic minorities. It was about 15 percent of the total population of Cambodia. Reagan administration gave 5 million dollars to support movements against the regime in 1989.
The Rwandan Genocide took place in 1994. It was a mass slaughter of the ethnic Tutsi by Hutus. Of course, many Hutus were killed in the process as well. The total number of people killed constituted about a million men, women, children, and elderly citizens. About 2 million civilians became refugees. The genocide lasted between April and July 1994, for a hundred days. It happened because France, Belgium, and the United States refused to send additional troops to support the peacemakers from the UN. As a result, about 260 soldiers remained from four and a half thousand of the UN peacemakers. About half million a Rwandans were killed till mid-May, but American officials continued arguing with the UN. The genocide lasted until July when the Hutu Regime was overthrown. Therefore, the United States was responsible for the innocent victims and for its delay in supporting the UN peacemaking mission.
Over 5.4 million people were killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The first and the Second Congo Wars were the bloodiest ones since World War II. Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, Libya, and Sudan took part in them in 1996. The Congo was rich in mineral resources. Such mineral as coltan is the world’s strategic mineral used in modern computers and cell phones. The estimated cost of all mineral deposits is over 24 trillion US dollars. At the same time, 63 million inhabitants had to live in poverty. As a result of the ethnic slaughter in Rwanda, over 2 million Hutus went to live in the neighboring countries. Therefore, ethnic armed conflicts took place in the bordering regions. The war between the Congo and Rwanda lasted until the end of 2008. To make things worse, Mbuti pygmies (the indigenous people of the Congo) began being killed and eaten like animals by the so-called “erasers” in 2003 for clearing certain areas to develop mineral depositions. The UN had to send the largest mission to protect the indigenous peoples of the Congo. It was recognized as Genocide in the Congo. According to it, the law has been passed to make companies developing mineral deposits to be responsible for identifying places of excavation of minerals. Therefore, American companies became responsible for their activities, connected with minerals from the Congo.
The Islamic regime of Bashir killed tens of thousands of people of non-Arab ethnic groups. President Obama recognized it as the genocide act. Over 300 thousand people were killed and about 5 million were forced to go away from their homes as the result of violent actions of the regime of Bashir between 2004 and 2006 in Sudan. They were bombed by the Sudan military aircraft and helicopters.
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