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CIA Covert Action in Guatemala: A long term analysis

By kwsNI in Op-Ed
Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 11:19:14 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The successful CIA-orchestrated operation in 1954 to overthrow the Guatemalan ruler Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, PBSUCCESS, resulted in long-term problems for the United States. The overthrow of the Arbenz regime led to Civil War in Guatemala, a war that lasted 36 years and created more than 100,000 casualties and 1,000,000 refugees. Despite countless mistakes made during the operation, the CIA believed the operation should be a model for future operations, a belief that led to disastrous results in Cuba seven years later. Operation PBSUCCESS resulted from the CIA's erroneous belief that the Soviets were using the democratically elected government of Guatemala as a communist beachhead into the Americas. America's role in overthrowing the Arbenz regime resulted in political condemnation worldwide, damaged the United States's reputation in Latin America, angered American allies, and drew criticism from the United Nations.


BACKGROUND

The Cold War escalated in the late 1940s and early 1950s. President Truman, in a speech to a joint session of Congress on 12 March 1947, announced what became known as the Truman Doctrine, "...that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."1 In August 1949, the USSR became a nuclear superpower and, after the USSR backed-invasion of South Korea by the North Korean army in 1950, the United States feared that conventional or nuclear warfare with the Soviet Union was unavoidable.2

In 1944, as World War II drew to a close, Guatemalans overthrew the dictatorial regime leading the country in favor of democracy. Jacobo Arbenz was one of the military heroes in the Guatemalan Revolution. In 1949, he played a key role in putting down a military rebellion led by Major Francisco Arana and in 1950 he detained Arana's protégé, Castillo Armas, for his failed role in another attempted coup. Armas bribed his way out of prison and fled to Honduras. In 1950, Jacobo Arbenz won the Guatemalan Election and took power March 1951.

According to CIA historians, Operation PBSUCCESS was the CIA's most successful and ambitious project ever. It used an intensive paramilitary and psychological campaign to overthrow the popular, elected government of Arbenz and replaced it with Castillo Armas.3

LONG-TERM RESULTS ON GUATEMALA

The overthrow of the Arbenz regime led to Civil War in Guatemala, a war that lasted 36 years and created more than 100,000 casualties and 1,000,000 refugees. A peace treaty was finally ratified by the government in 1996, establishing a Constitutional Democratic Republic.4

During this civil war, Guatemala suffered through countless dictators. The CIA-installed leader, Castillo Armas, was assassinated in 1957, three years after gaining control of Guatemala. During his tenure as the leader of Guatemala, he reversed many of the progressive reforms that Arbenz had implemented to help the Guatemalan people. Following Armas's assassination, there was a period of political unrest before the legislature appointed General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes president in 1958. In 1960, Fuentes faced a rebellion sponsored by Fidel Castro. Although the rebellion was unsuccessful, the rebels escaped into the mountains and formed the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR). Fuentes was overthrown in March 1963 and was replaced by General Enrique Peralta Azurdia, who held power until 1966. During Azurdia's reign, right-wing terror groups were formed to wage war against the FAR guerillas.

The military allowed a civilian-led government to rule Guatemala from 1966 to 1970, on the condition that the military had free reign in the tactics used against FAR. Various military leaders controlled Guatemala from 1970 to 1982 as rebel forces, including the FAR and PGT (communist party) joined together to form the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG). In 1982, a military coup installed General Efraín Ríos Montt as the Guatemalan leader. Montt initially offered the URNG amnesty, but when they refused his offer, he launched the most intensive military campaign against them to date. This intensified the Civil War, requiring the forced service of indigenous labor and the destruction of more than 400 indigenous villages.

Montt was ousted by the military in 1983. In 1985, the military allowed civilian leadership of Guatemala for the first time in 15 years. This was not enough to end the civil war, however, and the human rights abuses continued by the military. In 1990, the US cut off most military aid to Guatemala for civil rights issues. Jorge Serrano Elías became president in 1991. With the support of the army, Serrano seized dictatorial control of the government in May 1993, but protests forced him to resign. In 1996, the Guatemala government and the rebel forces signed a peace treaty putting an end to the civil war and returning Guatemala back to a stable democracy.5

THE CIA'S MISTAKES

Despite countless mistakes made during the operation, the CIA believed the operation should be a model for future operations, a belief that led to disastrous results in Cuba seven years later. Richard Bissell, the CIA Deputy Director of Plans (DDP) was the driving force behind both the Cuba operation as well as the Guatemala operation. According to Marlise Simons, "The language, arguments, and techniques of the Arbenz episode were used in Cuba in the early 1960s, in Brazil in 1964, in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and in Chile in 1973."6 It was not until much later that the CIA recognized the fatal flaws the Guatemalan operation faced. The CIA's classified report, published in 1992, was the first in-depth look at all of the factors that contributed to the success and near failure of operation PBSUCCESS.

The operation in Cuba relied heavily on civilian uprisings to overthrow the Castro government. Bissell expected the mass amphibious landing of Brigade 25067 to inspire a string of uprisings and defections that would lend paramilitary support to the exile brigade and force the overthrow of the Cuban leader. Bissell believed this was one of the successful components of PBSUCCESS and that it would work again in Cuba.8 CIA reports indicate that although recruits did join the rebel forces in Guatemala, it was only in areas where they met no military resistance. When the rebels engaged in combat, there is no evidence of recruits joining the rebel forces. In contrast, the exile forces in Guatemala had high desertion rates in combat.9 Bissell's apparent disregard for this knowledge played a large role in the military defeat of Brigade 2506.

The CIA's inability to keep secret its involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion proved counterproductive to the operation. It gave Castro credibility for withstanding an American attempt to overthrow his government. Castro's spies knew about the training of anti-Castro exiles in Guatemala as early as November 1960. On 9 April, eight days before the Cuban invasion, the New York Times ran a front-page story proclaiming "Anti-Castro Units Trained to fight at Florida Bases."10 Bissell's overconfidence of his operational security may be attributed to similar instances in Guatemala. During PBSUCCESS, a double-agent gave near-complete details of the operation to Jacobo Arbenz. However, when Arbenz published detailed papers of PBSUCCESS in Guatemalan newspapers, it was treated by the Guatemalan people as a ploy to improve Arbenz's reputation.11

PERSPECTIVE

Operation PBSUCCESS resulted from the CIA's belief that the Soviets where using the democratically elected government of Guatemala as a communist beachhead into the Americas. Recently declassified reports have proven this untrue.

The Guatemalan Communist party, Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo (PGT), had less than 4,000 members and less than 200 active members in a country of nearly 3,000,000. PGT members held only four of the 61 seats in the Guatemalan congress. They held no more than six or seven sub-cabinet positions, heading the state's media and social security administration. They held no major military positions. Although the PGT held no positions in Arbenz's cabinet, Arbenz was close personal friends with a number of the PGT's founding members.12

The CIA believed that the PGT was working in conjunction with the USSR to create a communist foothold in the Americas. They believed that the land reforms Arbenz enacted were influenced by the PGT as a way to gain influence.13 In fact, the land reforms Arbenz implemented were similar in nature to the reforms the United States was sponsoring in Japan and Formosa after World War II. Investigations of the documents found in the PGT's headquarters after Armas gained power showed no evidence that the PGT had any Soviet influence but that they were working alone.14

Arbenz's regime offered Guatemala everything the US hoped future rulers would be able to offer. According to Nick Cullather, the CIA historian who wrote the CIA's report on PBSUCCESS in 1992, "The overthrown Arbenz government was not, many contend, a Communist regime but a reformist government that offered perhaps the last chance for progressive, democratic change in the region."15 Piero Gleijeses, professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies at The School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University and author of Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, describes the benefits the Arbenz regime offered to Guatemala:

The Guatemalan revolution - Jacobo Arbenz above all, with his Communist friends - challenged this culture of fear. In eighteen months, from January 1953 to June 1954, 500,000 people (one-sixth of Guatemala's population) received the land they desperately needed. For the first time in the history of Guatemala, the Indians were offered land rather than being robbed of it. The culture of fear loosened its grip over the great masses of the Guatemala people. In a not unreachable future, it might have faded away, a distant nightmare.16
IMPLICATIONS

America's role in overthrowing the Arbenz regime resulted in political condemnation worldwide, damaging the United State's reputation in Latin America, angering American allies and drawing criticism from the United Nations. The CIA's failed attempt at keeping the Guatemalan operation covert led to enduring American resentment throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It directly damaged the stability of not only Guatemala but all of Latin America. According to historian James Dunkerly, "The Guatemala intervention shaped the attitudes and stratagems of an older generation of radicals, for whom this experience signaled the necessity of armed struggle and an end to illusions about peaceful, legal, and reformist methods."17

Internationally, the US was condemned by enemies and allies alike. Newspapers in Britain and Germany published scathing attacks on America's "modern forms of economic colonialism." The UN Secretary General charged that the United States actions went against the UN charter.18

The CIA's attempt to repeat PBSUCCESS in Cuba helped move the Castro regime from borderline communism to a full alliance with the Soviet Union. The air bombings preceding the invasion of Brigade 2506 led Castro to declare Cuba as a communist state on 16 April 1961. Fearing a second attempt to overthrow his government, Castro signed a military alliance with the Soviet Union in 1962. Castro's acceptance of Soviet SA-2 missiles on Cuba led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and put the world on the edge of a nuclear war.

NOTES

1Christopher Andrew, For the President's Eyes Only (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996), p. 168
2Ibid. p. 191
3Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), p.7
4The CIA World Factbook (Washington DC: CIA, 2001), p. 'Guatemala'
5Encarta Encyclopedia, 'Guatemala'
6Simons, Marlise, "Guatemala: The Coming Danger." Foreign Policy 42 (summer 1981), p. 94
7Each brigade member was given a number when they joined. Brigade 2506 derived its name from the number for Carlos Rodríguez Santana, the brigade's first casualty, who was killed in training in Guatemala.
8Peter Kornbluh (ed.), Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on The Invasion of Cuba (New York: The New Press, 1998), p. 6-7.
9Cullather, Secret History, pp 95-96
10Kornbluh, Bay of Pigs Declassified, p. 2
11Cullather, Secret History, p. 56
12Ibid., pp 21-22, 24-25
13Ibid. p. 25-27
14Ibid. p. 107
15Ibid., p. 8
16Ibid. p. XX
17James Dunkerly, Power in the Isthmus: A Political History of Modern Central America (London: Verso, 1988) p. 429
18Cullather, Secret History, p. 111

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CIA Covert Action in Guatemala: A long term analysis | 93 comments (88 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Vote for Infinite Monkeys (1.00 / 10) (#3)
by notcarlos on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 09:34:40 PM EST

A vote for Infinite Monkeys is a vote for Lucasarts fans everywhere! Vote!

Shameless huckstering! Yeah!


He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
It's such a shame. (3.57 / 7) (#5)
by prometheus on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 09:46:16 PM EST

I like being a citizen of the USA, since I can read excellent articles like this which make the CIA look like the assholes they are.

But then I realize that those assholes are also part of a pretty good society.

Then I buy cheap fast food, watch commercial television, and drink crap pisswater, and forget the whole thing.
--
<omnifarad> We've got a guy killing people in DC without regard for his astro van's horrible fuel economy
Nice (3.42 / 7) (#6)
by MisterQueue on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 09:50:27 PM EST

I like seeing the Army of Infinite Monkeys getting some work in the story section. They spend far too much time in my diary and are getting lazy and drunk, now maybe they'll get back into shape. Shine on you crazy monkeys!

-Q
-------
"That's fucking great! I want a baby jesus buttplug!" -mrgoat

This sort of stuff amuses me (4.50 / 8) (#8)
by theboz on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 10:04:40 PM EST

I don't know the numbers for sure, but quite a few Guatemalans have come across the border illegally. As far as I know, they make up a decent size of all the illegals that cross from Mexico. These people sneak into Mexico, then sneak into the U.S. So, the U.S. works towards the destruction of another country's government, then gets angry when those people try to sneak across the border to get a better life. I find that beyond irony.

Stuff.

Your article reinforces existing lies. (3.23 / 13) (#9)
by valeko on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 10:07:20 PM EST

Your article essentially attempts to whitewash the fact that this CIA operation was an awful atrocity against the Guatemalan people. This is evident when you cite gross understatements and euphemisms such as:

"The overthrown Arbenz government was not, many contend, a Communist regime but a reformist government that offered perhaps the last chance for progressive, democratic change in the region."

Why is being a "Communist regime" and offering "progressive, democratic change" something that is mutually exclusive? While the Arbenz regime certainly professed to be Communistic(tm) in some of its land reforms, it was far from valid to accuse it of being part of the vast International Communist Conspiracy that American policymakers were envisioning to justify things like this. Guatemala had not even diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. The above statement is a blatant lie, and plays upon existing misconceptions and dogma that don't do the world any good -- that you should be trying to refute, not reinforce with more propaganda.

The only direct connection between Arbenz and self-styled Communists was that Arbenz accepted Communists into several key sub-cabinet posts -- but none were actually appointed to the cabinet itself. But, again, anything that the US could accuse the Guatemalan progressive reformers of, it cut down to a question of phraseology. Communists and other social reformers, unlike normal breathing human beings, couldn't simply be elected to jobs in the government, no no. They "infiltrated" the government. This played directly into the hands of American policymakers.

Much of Arbenz's land reform program had been directed at nationalising vast tracts of land owned by the American United Fruit Company, which essentially ran things in Guatemala to the best of its ability. Both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were relentlessly pressured by United Fruit executives to remove Arbenz's government, for the company had an enourmous stake in its properties.

From Killing Hope (William Blum):

United Fruit functioned in Guatemala as a state within a state. It owned the country's telephone and telegraph facilities, administered its only important Atlantic harbor, and monopolized its banana exports. A subsidiary of the company owned nearly every mile of railroad track in the country. The fruit copmany's influence amongst Washington's power elite was equally impressive. On a business and/or personal level, it had close ties to the Dulles brothers, various State Department officials, congressmen, the American Ambassador to the United nations, and others. Anne Whitman, the wife of the company's public relations director, was President Eisenhower's personal secretary. Under-secretary of State (and formerly Director of the CIA) Walter Bedell Smith was seeking an executive position with United Fruit at the same time he was helping to plan the coup. He was later named to the company's board of directors.

I think it is misleading and contrary to the interest of humanity to evaluate the CIA coup and the awful atrocities that ensued as a direct result in terms of its "success" as an "operation". If you're going to do that, you should make a minimal effort to present both sides of the situation, instead of coming off as glorifying yet another successful victory by valiant, ingenious western intelligence in preventing another takeover by evil commie dictators or whatnot.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Did you read it? (4.83 / 6) (#10)
by kwsNI on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 10:18:38 PM EST

You argue many of the same points that I made.

I don't know if you were reading this to pick out things you feel are wrong, but you missed the other half of my argument. I wrote that the CIA "erroneously believed" that Arbenz was being controlled by Communists. I also documented proof that this was not true. I cited examples of what history has shown really happened. I could have cited more but chose the strongest examples for length considerations.

I think it is misleading and contrary to the interest of humanity to evaluate the CIA coup and the awful atrocities that ensued as a direct result in terms of its "success" as an "operation". If you're going to do that, you should make a minimal effort to present both sides of the situation, instead of coming off as glorifying yet another successful victory by valiant, ingenious western intelligence in preventing another takeover by evil commie dictators or whatnot.
I classified the initial operation to overthrow Arbenz as a success. The CIA set out to overthrow Arbenz and they were successful. I believe I spent the rest of the article refuting that this was a long-term success. (My actual report is titled "Covert Action In Guatemala: Why Operation PBSUCCESS was not a long-term Success"). It was the whole crux of my report and one which I believe I made fairly clear if you read the report with an open mind.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
He doesn't read with an open mind (4.33 / 3) (#11)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 10:25:03 PM EST

I thought it was quite good.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Your contention is superficial. (3.33 / 3) (#14)
by valeko on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 11:05:13 PM EST

I'm not referring to the reasonable balance of rigid facts that you took such good care to present. I'm talking about the macrostructure of the article. The overall tone, choice of words, and somewhat selective review of the information reinforces existing misconceptions by failing to discredit them.

That said, I apologise if I came off as close-minded when reading your article. I could see how such an accusation could be made in light of the narrow scope of my comment, but I maintain that the spirit reflected in the article does not effectively utilise the information to convey that this whole operation was not a good thing.

One example where there isn't enough emphasis on culpability is here:

The CIA believed that the PGT was working in conjunction with the USSR to create a communist foothold in the Americas.

I think -- and this is only my opinion -- that you are diffusing the criminality of the broad foreign policy that lead to this by chalking it off as, "oh, the CIA believed [...]". Who actually believed what? Whose interests were being advanced? The CIA's? Was the valiant CIA single-handedly believing, even if in error, that it was protecting the "free world" from Communism and making an inroad for evil commie infiltration from the USSR? It sounds as though having a Communist-controlled government would make a nation deservant of a violent coup and civil war.

I think an indictment of the ruling class in general for this mythology is an untactful omission in that it fails to illustrate the absurdities of the Cold War that lead to such operations as this. You may not see this as a major deficiency in your article since it appears to be beyond its scope, but I would argue that its absence coats the details of the events that you cite ... in a layer of undue legitimacy.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Failing to recognize the scope of the report. (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by kwsNI on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 11:20:54 PM EST

This report covered the long-term implications of PBSUCCESS. It's not about the legality of the operation or even about the operation itself. I believe I presented a very neutral, fact-based argument that PBSUCCESS was a long-term failure. That was my intent.

We could get into a whole debate about the legitimacy of covert action, but I don't feel that my ommission of the actual operation affects the long-term results. Who believed Arbenz was leaning towards Marxism doesn't have any bearing the Civil War in Guatemala.

Again, the one sentence you cite was part of a paragraph/section in which I explain that the CIA believed incorrectly.

You complain that I don't have a balanced argument but you take sentences arguing your side of the argument out of context and ignore the arguments I use to refute those.

I still insist that my report makes many of the same claims you've made. I'm not even sure why we're having this debate. I think you're expecting this to cover a much broader scope than my intentions, but otherwise, I feel I have made the arguments you've made relating to my topic.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you're right. (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by valeko on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 12:03:30 AM EST

I still insist that my report makes many of the same claims you've made.

I agree. It does.

I'm not even sure why we're having this debate. I think you're expecting this to cover a much broader scope than my intentions, but otherwise, I feel I have made the arguments you've made relating to my topic.

I understand the intentinoally narrow scope of the report, but I stand by my original contention that in this form your article reinforces existing misconceptions. Sometimes failing to expand the scope of debate to a certain degree can make it a source of (mis/dis)information as much as any other tendency that results in the skewing of perspective. And I don't think that expanding the scope would have taken much effort or painstaking research on your part.

I apologise if you misunderstand me; I do not disagree with you. I am not so much arguing with your perspective as I am with the mechanics of your article. You said that you aimed to show that this covert operation was a bad thing, yet I feel that you fail to convey that message effectively with your (by your observation) very "neutral" article. This is not an outpouring of moral indignation. I just feel that the use of certain words, the omission of certain details, and the overall mode of presentation could have better supported the thesis that the overthrow of Arbenz was a Bad Thing.

I digress - I think we've both arrived at an understanding. Not much to argue about. Just remember what I'm trying to say - omission of certain information or perspective can often be as damaging (in the sense that it strengthens existing stereotypes and misinformation) as actually including skewed information.

I gather that this is a report that was not prepared for the exclusive press of being posted on K5, as well. In that case, I'm sure you felt compelled to adhere to certain guidelines of political correctness as to not raise a fuss. I probably wouldn't write a broad, superficially damning indictment of Cold War policy that spawned these interventions if it were assigned to me at school either.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Uh. (none / 0) (#83)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 12:48:37 AM EST

It appeared that kwsNI was simply trying to present a fair and accurite example of what happened, rather then some screeching anti-US manifesto. I can see why you would be dissapointed if thats what you were looking for, I really don't belive that you can say this artical was pro-US.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Uh, no. (none / 0) (#91)
by valeko on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:16:54 PM EST

It appeared that kwsNI was simply trying to present a fair and accurite example of what happened,

Making selective omissions of vital information means that it's not so fair and accurate.

screeching anti-US manifesto. I can see why you would be dissapointed

No, that's not what I'm looking for. However, the lack of coverage in many vital subjects leading to a more complete understanding of what happened is not excusable in my eyes, especially if the author is trying to argue that the operation was a bad thing. Without the necessary support, it comes off as, "it was bad, but, it was good!"

And please quit making such retarded assumptions about people and what they're looking for. If I wanted an "screeching anti-US manifesto", I'd write my own.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Yeah. (none / 0) (#92)
by kwsNI on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:19:47 PM EST

And please quit making such retarded assumptions about people and what they're looking for. If I wanted an "screeching anti-US manifesto", I'd write my own.
Yeah, just read the rest of his comments.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
Yeehaw. (none / 0) (#93)
by valeko on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:28:16 PM EST

I conjecture that you're referring to mine, heh.

Last time I had an argument about whether unfavourable views of American policy (throughout history and now) constituted being rabidly anti-American on every fundamental level (as you seem to accuse me of doing), it was with a nice fellow named FcD. Yeah, the one that established his credibility in this thread.

I'm rather tired of having that debate. Think that one over.

Opposition to American policy is not opposition to anything and everything American or having some relationship to America, like it or not.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

"Fighting a Communist Foothold in Our Backyar (4.75 / 4) (#28)
by cowbutt on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 06:00:17 AM EST

...was nothing but a cover story.

At least according to a very interesting documentary series called "The Century of the Self" (produced by RDF Media and screened by BBC2 in the UK recently).

TCotS asserts that the power elite of the US in the 50s was put under great pressure by United Fruit (who basically ran everything in Guatemala at the time). When Arbenz was democratically elected, it was on a mandate of nationalising certain parts of the Guatemalan national infrastructure.

United Fruit perceived this as a threat to their business activities and applied pressure to the US government to "do something about it". The great and the good figured that the US people wouldn't accept military/seditious action on behalf of a corporation, but that they feared communist takeover greatly and would approve of virtually anything that purported to combat the "red menace".

Arbenz gave enough "evidence" for the CIA and others to paint him and his government as communist and thereby initiate the intervention process.

Fair synopses of the series can be found here and here.

The emphasis here is that the CIA didn't "wrongly belive" that Arbenz was a communist, but that they knew exactly what was going on and what cover story they could use to justify their actions.

It's interesting to investigate modern parallels involving gas/oil companies and defense manufacturers.

[ Parent ]

That's exactly what I was trying to say. (none / 0) (#31)
by valeko on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:09:32 AM EST

The emphasis here is that the CIA didn't "wrongly belive" that Arbenz was a communist, but that they knew exactly what was going on and what cover story they could use to justify their actions.

That, along with the rest of your comment, is _exactly_ what I mean. Putting the blame on the CIA "wrongly believing" something fails to demonstrate who is really at fault, why, and with what motivations. It's a great cover story. This article is, in that sense, reinforcing the cover story.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Oh come on. (none / 0) (#36)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:46:03 AM EST

I've cited multiple works, including the CIA-documents, as well as interviews with a CIA analyst that show the CIA did in-fact wrongly believe it. I've also shown that there was communist influence, but not on the level that was expected.

You've come back with one source and a conspiracy theory about corporate intervention.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

You come on. (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by valeko on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 04:15:52 PM EST

Corporate intervention and corporate interests are a dominant theme of the Cold War, in addition to most other parts of 20th century American history. There is no "conspiracy theory" here. It is common knowledge that the US had enourmous business interests vested in Latin America -- business interests which were intertwined with the American ruling class -- and that it aggressively sought to protect their existing position to exploit the resources of these countries from progressive reforms by discrediting them on the grounds that the International Communist Conspiracy had erected this opposition.

It is no conspiracy theory that to a large extent, this defined opposition of the pre-eminent capitalist countries to socialism in general.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well. (none / 0) (#35)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:42:52 AM EST

As someone who has spent hours going through the CIA records, I believe I can maintain that the US government was using United Fruit as much as United Fruit was using the government. As I mentioned in my report, the Arbenz regime was implimenting land reforms. Yes, these hurt United Fruit, but there is more than enough evidence in my cited works to prove that the State Department was using United Fruit as an excuse for overt political action.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
communist democracy (4.50 / 2) (#65)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:29:37 PM EST

Why is being a "Communist regime" and offering "progressive, democratic change" something that is mutually exclusive?

It isn't necessarily, but neither is there a citeable case of a communist regime which functioned along democratic political lines; and the example of Czechoslovakia in 1948, where the democratic state was overthrown by communist members of the government, has led most democrats to be reluctant to try it.

Both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were relentlessly pressured by United Fruit executives to remove Arbenz's government

I wonder if the people who were made homeless, or the descendants of those who were killed, as a result of this coup, could sue United Fruit under an analagous legal theory to that which allows holocaust victims to demand reparations from companies like Volkswagen?

[ Parent ]

re, communist democracy (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by linca on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:06:30 PM EST

More precisely, there has been no communist democracies because ever since the 30's, every attempt at a democratic communist/socialist government has been overthrown, either by the USSR (Hungary, Tchequoslovakia), the USA/capitalist backed forces (most of South America...), or both (Spain....). Indeed, in France in 1936, one of the argument of the right-wing parties against voting for th left-wing front populaire was that it woud eventually bring civil war...

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#72)
by kaffiene on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:43:22 PM EST

New Zealand was a democratic nation with strong socialist leanings until the early 80's. Norway and Sweden still are.

[ Parent ]
"socialist" as "non capitalist" (none / 0) (#73)
by linca on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:47:17 PM EST

That's what I am talking about. Scandinavian countries are usually called "Social-democracies" Of course they have socialist leanings, but they never came up shouting to the world, "enough with capitalism!".

[ Parent ]
There isn't? (none / 0) (#82)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 12:43:36 AM EST

It isn't necessarily, but neither is there a citeable case of a communist regime which functioned along democratic political lines

That's because they're called "socialist". And anyway, the Guatemalan government wasn't "communist" but had a few communists in it, as does a lot of other governments.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
communism != socialism (none / 0) (#88)
by aphrael on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 02:05:42 PM EST

except in the minds of Americans who haven't studied european politics and of nineteenth century european conservatives.

The fundamental political position of communism in the twentieth century has been that both the economic *and* the political structures of the liberal democratic state are profoundly harmful to the interests of the proletariat, and serve only the interests of the bourgeois; thus both sets of structures need to be torn down and replaced, by a socialist economic structure and by a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'.

The fundamental political position of socialism or social democracy in the twentieth century is that the *economic* structures of liberal democracy are profoundly harmful to the interests of the proletariat, but that the *political* structures of the liberal democratic state can be used by the proletariat to fix the economic system. Thus, rather than pursuing a revolution that would institute a new political order, social democrats would conduct a 'revolution from within' which brought about a new economic order using the existing political order.

While the *economic* results of these policies may be similar, their *political* results are quite different.

[ Parent ]

A personal anecdote (4.65 / 23) (#12)
by qpt on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 10:41:01 PM EST

Easy as it is to criticize the CIA for their admittedly frequent mistakes, it is important to not lose sight of the vast amount of good that CIA covert operations have accomplished. Rather than endlessly quote dry statistics that would doubtless be contested, I want to share a personal anecdote of my experience with the CIA.

It was the fall of 1969; I had just turned thirteen and was entering the eighth grade. Communism could not have been further from my cares, concerned as I was with sports, friends, and the cute redhead who lived down the block from me. However, Roosevelt Junior High was holding its annual bake sale to raise funds for the athletic department, and I had enthusiastically volunteered to help, thus unwittingly embarking on a course that would bring me face to face with the red menace.

A school bake sale is a veritable model of capitalism; shoddy goods are pushed off on consumers at inflated prices using psychological manipulation. This year, however, the tradition was under attack. A lobby headed by one Mrs. Winthrop was protesting the unsanitary conditions at the annual bake sales, demanding this year's be called off. Admittedly, food poisoning was a regular occurrence after the events, but the cause was noble and no one had ever died.

Many of us students were of course outraged. If the bake sale were not held, the athletic department would be under funded all year. We could do little, however, being merely children. That is what we supposed anyway, but events of the next few days would prove us wrong.

I was biking home from school four days before the bake sale was due to be held when I was stopped by a dark automobile holding two men in suits. One of the men motioned me over and asked me if I would like to fight communism. I pointed out that I was only thirteen years old and would not be able to join the military for another five. The man laughed, and then soberly replied that there was communism to fight even in my own neighborhood. I was appalled of course, having believed that the red menace was safely contained overseas in heathen lands.

The man continued, asking me what I knew about the Roosevelt Junior High bake sale. I told him how eager I had been to participate, but how Mrs. Winthrop had cast the whole enterprise in doubt. I also mentioned the indignation shared by my fellow students and me. The man nodded knowingly, and handed me a heavy manila envelope labeled "Anti-Communism Plans: Junior High Edition." The man then told me that Mrs. Winthrop was a communist, and that the packet he had given me told me everything I needed to know to fight her.

That evening, I could not sleep, so engrossed I was with the contents of that envelope. Everything was there, from recruitment strategies to guerrilla warfare tactics. Over the next few days, I enlisted the help of a few of my closest friends and we mounted operation after operation, all according the instructions in the envelope. We egged Mrs. Winthrop's house, threw toilet paper through her trees and hedges, and let the air out of the tires of her husband's car. We even tried a few of the more exotic tactics listed, including one involving dog feces, a paper bag, and a match.

Thanks to the instructions in the envelope, we were never caught, and we forced Mrs. Winthrop to miss a school board meeting at which she planned to argue her case. The bake sale was held as planned, and I never again saw those men in suits or had reason to open the envelope they had given me. I am thankful, though, that when we needed it most, someone was willing to help the students of Roosevelt Junior High help themselves.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

this made me laugh.... (none / 0) (#17)
by /dev/trash on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 11:26:26 PM EST

If I ever have kids this is the excuse I'll deliver to the school board if they ever get caught.

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
great article (4.00 / 5) (#16)
by infinitera on Tue Apr 09, 2002 at 11:26:11 PM EST

I'm sure I'll post something later, but for initial thoughts, I'm somewhat disappointed the involvement of CIA-saved SS officers was omitted. It's no big secret that the operations used successful nazi tactics, or where they got them, but I feel that linking history is an important endeavor.

yeah - you go on ... (1.00 / 2) (#27)
by gromgull on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:52:55 AM EST

... blame it on the germans.
--
If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

[ Parent ]
there was no blame assigned [nt] (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by infinitera on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:40:45 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Let the US foreign policy Flame War begin! (1.25 / 8) (#19)
by Quixato on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 12:09:27 AM EST

Someone else champion this one, I'm too tired. Heres a topic - the US's dependance on Oil has driven every major conflict in the Middle East.
Discuss.

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r

Uh. (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 12:33:16 AM EST

This was about the flaws of US policy over 40 years ago in South America. Nothing on oil or the Middle East this time around.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
Oh I know (none / 0) (#21)
by Quixato on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 12:57:14 AM EST

But isn't this one of the first in a long series of bad mistakes and incompetent meddling? Can we not look at the present, and see it's roots in experiments like this one currently being discussed?

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

Actually, (none / 0) (#22)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:00:26 AM EST

I believe there is a lot you could discuss in the article that is mentioned without getting into a Mid-East Flame Fest (TM).

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
Well what is there to discuss? (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by Quixato on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:16:00 AM EST

According to the facts in the article, the US overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan government out of fears of Communism rampant in the Americas. This led to decades of civil war, until finally a cease-fire was called 7 years ago. US Foreign policy and communism fears led to 40 odd years of strife and civil war for the Guatemalan people. I'd say that's pretty selfish and ignorant Foreign Policy!

"People are like smarties - all different colours on the outside, but exactly the same on the inside." - Me
"Learn to question, question to learn." - Sl8r
[ Parent ]

OT but I'll bite. (none / 0) (#40)
by sonovel on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:13:56 PM EST

U.S. dependence on oil drove every conflict?

This can be disproven with one counter example.

The crusades were't driven by the U.S.'s use of oil.

Q.E.D your premise is wrong.

---
To all -- feel free to rate this offtopic response to a troll _way_ down. Doesn't bother me at all.

[ Parent ]
Failure? (3.40 / 5) (#23)
by mech9t8 on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:08:26 AM EST

But... the communists didn't get a foothold in Guatamala, leading to a domino effect in South America where the entire continent became a communist ally of the Soviet Union. Maybe without US support of those dictators, there would be no one to prevent a communist takeover (armed or otherwise) of the country at a later date. It had already happened in Cuba, and the communists did have a foothold (however small) in the government. If the country's economy or Arbenz's reforms failed, it might've been enough to raise popular support for the communists.

By the point of the view of many right-wing hawks, it was a success... just like most of the other "interventions" of the Cold War - even Vietnam, which could be seen to have weakened the Communists enough to prevent their spread. They were all just battles in the overall Cold War, which ended with victory for our side when the USSR collapsed - thus justifying everything from rebuilding Japan and West Germany to Vietnam to Star Wars to isolating Cuba. Whether or not it ruined Guatamala (and countless other countries) is secondary. (No one who actually makes decisions takes the literal interpretation of the Truman Doctrine seriously.<g>)

So, you might wanna make the case that US intervention ruined Guatamala - or that Guatamala wouldn't become communist - or that US intervention in Guatamala, in the long run, has damaged US national interests and will come back to bite us on the ass.

But calling it an overall failure is a difficult case: the fact is that the Soviets didn't win the Cold War, and Guatamala isn't part of an obvious national security threat against us. Without that intervention and similar interventions, that might not be the case.

(Of course, I think that's probably bullshit, but I'm not a right-wing hawk.<g>)

[On an editorial note, overall, good article... but I wouldn't included *what* exactly the CIA did. The article seems to make the assumption that the reader (presumably your professor?<g>) knows what's involved when we're talking about "CIA interventions."]

--
IMHO
Actually, (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:20:12 AM EST

Read the full report. I addressed Cuba. The CIA's failure to address critical issues in the Guatemala operation led them to the Bay of Pigs operation - Castro's declaration of Cuba becoming a Marxist state was a direct result of the bombings that were part of the Bay of Pigs (which I argue resulted from Guatemala).

Also, as I also have proven, there was really no evidence of anything more than slight communist influence in the Guatemalan republic and it was independent intellectuals, the Soviet Union was actually uninvolved in Guatemala.

As for the editorial feedback, my original report was going to be on Guatemala compared to the Bay of Pigs, but reading about Guatemala I wanted to just focus on that. By the time I started doing the heavy research (about 200 hours of it for this report), I had to choose such a narrow topic that I couldn't even really cover the CIA operation, just it's effects. As I've stated previously, this has never really been researched so I really enjoyed doing ground-breaking research on a historical topic.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

hmm (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by mech9t8 on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:26:07 AM EST

Read the full report. I addressed Cuba. The CIA's failure to address critical issues in the Guatemala operation led them to the Bay of Pigs operation - Castro's declaration of Cuba becoming a Marxist state was a direct result of the bombings that were part of the Bay of Pigs (which I argue resulted from Guatemala).

Well, Castro had instituted Marxist policies pretty as soon as he took over - the Bay of Pigs may have hardened his resolve, but I don't think it significantly changed the direction of his government.

There's actually a much stronger connection that you didn't mention - Che Guevara was in Guatemala when the US overthrew the government. This was apparently a pivotal point at convincing him that the US would interfere with any leftist democracies, and the only way to institute communism was not through peaceful political action, but through violent worldwide revolution. He later met Fidel Castro, and these views obviously had a huge influence when the two of them took over Cuba. Never mind his later efforts in other countries.

Also, as I also have proven, there was really no evidence of anything more than slight communist influence in the Guatemalan republic and it was independent intellectuals, the Soviet Union was actually uninvolved in Guatemala.

The only way you'd convince rabid anti-communists is if you can prove there was *no* communist influence - instead, you've shown that the leaders were good friends with communists and that they had communists in positions in their government. The threat was seen as the "sourge of international communism" - even if the Soviet Union wasn't directly involved, it was assumed that all the communist countries would naturally be sympathic to each other and ally to destroy the West. And the Guatamala government was obviously sympathetic to communism.

I don't want to give the impression that I think your article was poor by any stretch... I thought it was quite interesting and well-researched, and it certainly provides more evidence that the CIA didn't really know what it was going when it went messing around with other countries. I just don't think it provides enough evidence to convince someone who thinks those actions were right that they were a failure. (Which, admittedly, is a pretty tough task.<g>)

--
IMHO
[ Parent ]

I don't disagree. (none / 0) (#37)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:53:43 AM EST

There's actually a much stronger connection that you didn't mention - Che Guevara was in Guatemala when the US overthrew the government. This was apparently a pivotal point at convincing him that the US would interfere with any leftist democracies, and the only way to institute communism was not through peaceful political action, but through violent worldwide revolution. He later met Fidel Castro, and these views obviously had a huge influence when the two of them took over Cuba. Never mind his later efforts in other countries.
From my report: It directly damaged the stability of not only Guatemala but all of Latin America. According to historian James Dunkerly, "The Guatemala intervention shaped the attitudes and stratagems of an older generation of radicals, for whom this experience signaled the necessity of armed struggle and an end to illusions about peaceful, legal, and reformist methods."17

Those radicals included Che Guevara as well as Castro. In fact, the last half of that quote, which was omitted, named names including Castro and Guevara. As I mentioned before, I was dealing with very strict limitations on this paper and that I could more than easily have written a book on the subject.

As far as trying to convince people who think the actions were right that they were wrong, it was not my intent. This was mearly an argument that the operation was not the long-term success that they had hoped it would be.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

How Vietnam-esque... (4.00 / 3) (#39)
by ethereal on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 12:37:50 PM EST

They were all just battles in the overall Cold War, which ended with victory for our side when the USSR collapsed - thus justifying everything from rebuilding Japan and West Germany to Vietnam to Star Wars to isolating Cuba. Whether or not it ruined Guatamala (and countless other countries) is secondary.

"We had to destroy the country to save it, sir!"

Yes, I know you're not the right-winger here; I just thought I'd sum up that point of view.

On the topic of exactly what the CIA did, there was a pretty good report on Public Radio International's This American Life about the intervention, including the use of subversive "live" rebel broadcasts (actually taped in Florida previously) to convince the populace that the anti-government forces had a lot of support, were going to win anyway, and were being ruthlessly persecuted by the government. This whole thing would be hilarious if it weren't such a giant crime against humanity.

I'd love to see an American president run for office on the foreign policy platform of supporting the Truman Doctrine and the right of self-determination for all peoples. It would make our foreign policy so much simpler and at the same time more ethical. But unfortunately, such a man or woman could probably never get elected.

--

Every time you read this, God wishes k5 had a "hide sigs" option. Please, think of the
[
Parent ]

I think you missed the point (none / 0) (#42)
by cevik on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:42:04 PM EST

"We had to destroy the country to save it, sir!"

I think your quote is slightly off.. It should read more like:

"We had to destroy their country to save ours, sir!"

I don't agree with the sentiment in the statement.. but it's a more telling truth. We didn't care about their country, we only know that we wanted the communists to stay out of Latin America for our own benefit.. :)



[ Parent ]
To call it a success, you'd have to overlook a lot (4.50 / 2) (#43)
by dachshund on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 02:12:53 PM EST

There is, and has been, a Communist Party in the United State of America. We even have a Socialist congressman (although the newspapers report him as an Independent.)

If some hypothetical superpower entered the US and overthrew our government in order to prevent the spread of communist influence, would you seriously be arguing that the mission was a "success" if, after 40 years, Communism hadn't overrun North Ameria? Or would you be willing to at least consider that the absence of a Communist revolution might have indicated the absence of influence in the first place?

Better yet, just look at McCarthyism. Would you honestly claim that McCarthyism was a "success", or anything other than an exercise in paranoia, just because 50 years down the line America is not a communist state?

It's one thing to argue the point with no definite evidence, but after all these years we know a lot more-- as the guy stated in his article, with hindsight we can say with some certainty that there was no strong Soviet influence, and that those communists in the government were elected and not terribly influential.

For even the most wildly anti-communist ideologue to argue, with all of this information available to him, that the operation was a success is simply laughable-- right up there with defending McCarthyism because there was no ultimate communist takeover of the US. The best such a person can say now to defend the operation is "we thought it was worse than it really was, and we felt we had to act". But that's an excuse, certainly not vindication.

[ Parent ]

Democracy not for poor people (4.09 / 11) (#24)
by mikelist on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:11:07 AM EST

Poor people vote for outlandish stuff like things that might lead to a better standard of living or getting the military police off their land. That stuff doesn't pay the bills in the US. Sometimes it just slaps me in the face, what pricks some of my countrymen are.

100,000 casualties and 1,000,000 refugees (2.17 / 17) (#29)
by minmax on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 07:48:38 AM EST

People, are you nuts? 100,000 casualties and 1,000,000 refugees. You are defending this kind of actions and then asking others why spet 11. has happened? Stop thiking about your american capitalistic pockets. Stop patronizing the whole world. You are noot the smartest, your idea how the world should look like is hated. It brings poverty, war and hopelessness to everyone that is picked for a daily target by american goverment. Do something, stop your goverment. Read again: 100,000 casualties and 1,000,000 refugees. is it worth it?

What the fsck? (4.66 / 3) (#30)
by wiredog on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:01:33 AM EST

Who is defending this? Have you actually bothered to read the story, or the comments?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
sorry (none / 0) (#51)
by minmax on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:11:34 PM EST

By talking about defending of this actions I was pointing at most of the comments... not the story itself most of the comments talk about interests of american people. well interests or no interests 100k people dead and 1M refuges is too much.

[ Parent ]
I think its pretty obvious.. (2.00 / 10) (#41)
by Judgment on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 01:14:00 PM EST

I think its pretty obvious he hasn't read it completely, he is another asshole looking to blame all the world's problems on Americans.

In all honesty I'm getting more and more agitated by these mindless fools critisizing America when they don't even know all the relevant facts (not that I do either all the time).

Each time America has one flaw everyone points the finger and then people who don't understand the situation jump on the "down with Americans" bandwagan. Think about it, do you believe the wrong doings our government has acted out were done with the intentions of hurting those people? Think again.

As if all governments are perfec .. HAH! Especially the one from your own countries if you believe ours is so horrible.

It all comes down to this... there is more good that has come from American interfernce in some issues then the bad that has come from the ones they should not have been involved in.

The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also...

In a war that threatened the destruction of American lives, and a weak link right outside our borders... the safety of citizens comes first. Numbers are thrown out there about the casualties and refugees, which I think is steaming pile of doo. I'm sure those figures are fairly accurate, but that doesn't mean those numbers would not have been worse if the Americans had not taken action and let Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán continue to rule. Who knows how many dead/refugees there would have been dead.. of course this would only lead to speculation but nevertheless it is something to consider.

[ Parent ]
Oh really? (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by Tr1st4n on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 03:27:44 PM EST

I think its pretty obvious he hasn't read it completely, he is another asshole looking to blame all the world's problems on Americans.

How, pray tell, did you reach that conclusion? S/He merely pointed out that Americans (which could of course be applied to others as well) interfering in the affairs of other countries can have serious, damaging effects, and that it should only be done with the greatest of care and with everyone's interests in mind. Or perhaps I'm projecting.

Think about it, do you believe the wrong doings our government has acted out were done with the intentions of hurting those people? Think again.

Do intentions matter; and how does that proverb go? "The road to hell is marked with the best intentions."

As if all governments are perfec .. HAH! Especially the one from your own countries if you believe ours is so horrible.

I'm sure the author doesn't think his/her country's government is any better than ours (you'll note, if you should happen to reread it, that s/he makes no such claims). The failures and mistakes of other governments are entirely irrelevant to this discussion.

The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also...

That is debatable - Please provide proof.

In a war that threatened the destruction of American lives, and a weak link right outside our borders... the safety of citizens comes first.

It is my understanding that this very reasoning or priority (or what have you) is what the author condemned.

...I'm sure those figures are fairly accurate, but that doesn't mean those numbers would not have been worse if the Americans had not taken action and let Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán continue to rule.

If you read the article in its entirety you'd realize that the chances of that are rather slim.



[ Parent ]
I was not commenting on the article (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by Judgment on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 04:15:27 PM EST

You are in the wrong mindset, do you think I was commenting on the original article? I was not commenting on the article, which did not take such an offensive stance towards Americans as the one I actually responded to. My rebutle was geared towards the comment about Americans acting only with the thoughts of their "capitalist pockets" and

You are noot the smartest, your idea how the world should look like is hated. It brings poverty, war and hopelessness to everyone that is picked for a daily target by american goverment.

Of course I realize, and agree with this statement:

interfering in the affairs of other countries can have serious, damaging effects, and that it should only be done with the greatest of care and with everyone's interests in mind

But the author of the comment which I responded too puts the blame, and the intervention by the U.S. to blame as a result of the US's greed. This is completely wrong. The US was acting in the face of a possible threat on its soil due to somewhat turmoil close by. We we're on the brink of the most horrific war on the face of the planet and it would be utter stupidity to not look at all weak points and evaluate and take action to remedy the situation.

The other of the comment I responded too also went on to say that each time the U.S. interfered that it has ruined the country it tried to influence. Surely its foreign policy and intervention has not been flawless, and I'm not trying to claim it was, but to say that each time the government interfered that it utterly devistated the country is a crock of shit.

As for our government being despised, how can you read this:

Stop thiking about your american capitalistic pockets. Stop patronizing the whole world. You are noot the smartest, your idea how the world should look like is hated. It brings poverty, war and hopelessness to everyone that is picked for a daily target by american goverment.

And not see that it is a biased, ill informed opinion out of pure hatred for the US government? If this person does not think that their government is any better then that of the US, why would they hate the US so much? The statements made are clearly pointing to the idea that they believe the area they live in is superior to that of the US.

I have little to no problem with the statements made in the actual article, but the comment I responded to had an overly biased view point, they were clearly acting out of pure hatred for the United States regardless of what the article said they would still have this same hatred. Every country tries to protect its own interests and its citizens, it is my belief that a lot of the hatred that comes towards American is founded on jealousy that their own country cannot do the same for them in as profound ways. This is not always the case though, of course mistakes are made. I'm not saying the situation the article was based on wasn't a mistake on the US government's part, but to hate them for it is stupid.

You ask for proof that America would not be hated less if it did not get involved in international affairs so much? I'm guess you ment the part about less people suffer as a result of them being actively involved worldwide. Can you actually debate that the US provides more hunger relief, and donates more money to needy countries then any other single nation, or many combinations of several nations even? Right now the involvement in Afghanistan, which also stemmed from a threat to American citizens, has completely thrown out their corrupted government. Who can denie that Afghanistan will most likely be a better place to live for its citizens when the US is done there? There will be less people starving, out of work, less persecution etc... at least for the time being until everyone forgets about the nation and some other corrupt powers come into play.

No one and no thing is flawless, but the US tries to hard to protect its citizens and help other people and comes under scrutiny for it more often then not. A lot of this comes about after the media in the US plays their own government off as hypocrites and war mongers.



[ Parent ]

comment (none / 0) (#52)
by minmax on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:22:26 PM EST

i was commeting other comments actually, not the original story (sorry for being unclear) original story has a point, but most of the comments simply miss it. They talk about what effect had actions of american goverment on lives of american people. They should take in account both sides: what effect did the actions have on american AND on other people. The question should be: why are we doing this to other people? are we really in such a danger that only way out is attacking others? i am not saying i live in a society that is any better than american nor that i am any better than avarage american nor that our goverment is any better (actually i live in a small country that has a goverment that is sucking up to US like no other) Yes I am biased. I think the world should be different. I cannot stand aside, but try to do something very very little to change it. (yes i know arguing here is not a good way to do it, that's why i am doing other things too)

[ Parent ]
I didn't think you were (none / 0) (#57)
by Tr1st4n on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 06:57:56 PM EST

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Where to begin? How about...

My rebutle was geared towards the comment about Americans acting only with the thoughts of their "capitalist pockets"...

The author (and by author I mean the author of the comment you were responding to. I can't be bothered to write s/he each time I wish to refer to him/her as I have 'author' in muscle memory unlike 's/he') does not claim that Americans act only out of greed. If that were the case, I would agree with you.

...the author of the comment which I responded too puts the blame, and the intervention by the U.S. to blame as a result of the US's greed. This is completely wrong. The US was acting in the face of a possible threat on its soil due to somewhat turmoil close by. We we're on the brink of the most horrific war on the face of the planet and it would be utter stupidity to not look at all weak points and evaluate and take action to remedy the situation.

I agree in that greed might not have been a major influence in bringing about the subject of our discussion, however I believe that the actions taken by the CIA were not necessary, nor were they in the apparent best interests of anyone (except, perhaps, the United Fruit corporation as is argued elsewhere). Weakness are to be assessed, yes, but no action should be taken if the cost is that substantial and at the expense of the innocent.

...but to say that each time the government interfered that it utterly devistated the country is a crock of shit.

Indeed

As for our government being despised, how can you read this: [citation omitted, refer to parent] And not see that it is a biased, ill informed opinion out of pure hatred for the US government?

The intention behind that excerpt was seemingly to humble the American government and people so that the next time they plan on interfering in the affairs of others they will be sure to affirm its necessity beforehand. If I am wrong in this assumption then I agree with you.

If this person does not think that their government is any better then that of the US, why would they hate the US so much? The statements made are clearly pointing to the idea that they believe the area they live in is superior to that of the US.

The author might just hate it for what it did in instances like this. I don't see the hint in his/her comment.

I'm not saying the situation the article was based on wasn't a mistake on the US government's part, but to hate them for it is stupid.

Indeed

You ask for proof that America would not be hated less if it did not get involved in international affairs so much? I'm guess you ment the part about less people suffer as a result of them being actively involved worldwide.

Yes, I meant just that. "Feeding the starving poor only increases their number." (- Ben Bova). Letting them all die off would seem to be the most humane of all actions. (This was of course said in jest, before I get any death threats from those more unfortunate than myself).

...and the rest I agree with.



[ Parent ]
The road to hell... (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by broken77 on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:00:42 PM EST

...is paved with good intentions. Good quote, too.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Yes, that's it. (none / 0) (#58)
by Tr1st4n on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 07:01:20 PM EST

My thanks

[ Parent ]
Um... (3.00 / 1) (#59)
by epepke on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 07:11:32 PM EST

The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also...

That is debatable - Please provide proof.

World War II? You know, the one with the Third Reich?

Now, it could be argued that some level of involvement by the U.S. is good, but going beyond that level of involvement is bad. But, where do you draw the line, and when? I think much of our policy in South America was bad, and we should have done less. However, our policy in Vietnam was bad because we didn't do enough and not early enough. IMO, what we should have done is declare war on France and get them the hell out of Vietnam; the only reason that the country went communist is because we wouldn't help them, but communists would.

I am not saying that the U.S. is totally good. What I am saying, and I think the earlier poster was saying something similar, is that this kind of America-bashing is unthinking and reflexive. It isn't criticism; it's just opportunistically finding anything bad and bashing America. It doesn't even seem to matter if the U.S. did too much or not enough--e.g., we used to keep Israel on a very short leash, and we're told that's why the Islamic world hates us. Of course, now that Isreal is off the leash, that's our fault, too.

Look folks. It's really easy to look back on something and judge it in hindsight. I think that in this case, it's even true. I don't like what the U.S. used to do in South America and consider it to have been wrong. What's difficult is to do something and have it work out right.

Look at all those leftists who, ten years ago, said that sanctions against Iraq were the way to go. If just a few of them came public and said, "Well, I thought that way, but I was wrong," then I might have some respect for the current wave of America-bashing and treat it as criticism. But it's always, "Not me! I never said that! It was the baby-killing non-vegetarian Right Wing Conspiracy! And if you don't agree with me, it's because you think the U.S. is perfect!" Wheras, in fact, it's the bashers who think they can never do wrong, and they project their attitudes on their opponents.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
To hell with the baby-killing non-vegetarian Right (none / 0) (#60)
by Tr1st4n on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 07:58:03 PM EST

"The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also...

That is debatable - Please provide proof."

World War II? You know, the one with the Third Reich?

All US involvement therein was negligible up until Pearl Harbor, at which point the war became its business.

Now, it could be argued that some level of involvement by the U.S. is good, but going beyond that level of involvement is bad. But, where do you draw the line, and when?

That question merits an article of its own, but for a quick generalized method we might try: Staying the hell out countries that are not an immediate threat to us, and whose citizens have not made attempts to ask for our support. Should we receive such a request, we should assess the situation to ensure that our help really is required and would be in the best of interests for everyone (save the oppressor, if applicable).

What I am saying, and I think the earlier poster was saying something similar, is that this kind of America-bashing is unthinking and reflexive.

...or perhaps it is a genuine request for the US Government to learn from its mistakes, albeit badly phrased.

However, our policy in Vietnam was bad because we didn't do enough and not early enough. IMO, what we should have done is declare war on France and get them the hell out of Vietnam; the only reason that the country went communist is because we wouldn't help them, but communists would.

If I recall correctly France still had military alliances from World War 2. War against France and her allies would probably have been more catastrophic than against Vietnam.

Look at all those leftists who, ten years ago, said that sanctions against Iraq were the way to go. If just a few of them came public and said, "Well, I thought that way, but I was wrong," then I might have some respect for the current wave of America-bashing and treat it as criticism.

Would you have heard about it if they did? I'm sure a few of them did.

But it's always, "Not me! I never said that! It was the baby-killing non-vegetarian Right Wing Conspiracy! And if you don't agree with me, it's because you think the U.S. is perfect!"

LOL Lovely, but still an overgeneralization of the attitudes of "Bashist" Left-Wingers (tm).



[ Parent ]
Bzzzt. (none / 0) (#64)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:24:07 PM EST

All US involvement therein was negligible up until Pearl Harbor, at which point the war became its business.

Wrong on two counts. :) First, the economic support the US provided to Britain, which included loaning it the money needed to buy weapons almost certainly prevented British economic collapse in 1940-41, and was essential to the ability of Britain to fight the war.

Second, Pearl Harbor was an attack on the US by Japan. It did not require US intervention in the European front.

[ Parent ]

wrong on one count (none / 0) (#78)
by Tr1st4n on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 10:55:04 PM EST

Wrong on two counts. :) First, the economic support the US provided to Britain, which included loaning it the money needed to buy weapons almost certainly prevented British economic collapse in 1940-41, and was essential to the ability of Britain to fight the war.

You're right of course. n/m

Second, Pearl Harbor was an attack on the US by Japan. It did not require US intervention in the European front.

Japan was at the time allied with Germany and Italy. An attack by one member of a military alliance is, for all practical purposes, an attack by all members, as when one member declares war on a country the rest follow suit. So yes, it did necessitate US intervention in the European front.



[ Parent ]
I agree to an extent.. (none / 0) (#79)
by Judgment on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:17:58 PM EST

Since there was an alliance between the axis powers it can be assumed that the European countries would have aided Japan but, it is my belief for all practical purposes that by the time the US attacked Japan that the axis powers were starting to waver in strength and they would have been very hesitant to aid Japan against the US.

I'm fairly sure they would have rather avoided full US involvement in the war, instead of just monetary support.

Of course I could be a little misled, my history in that time period isn't as good fresh in memory as it used to be.

[ Parent ]

declarations (none / 0) (#80)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:21:00 PM EST

it is my belief for all practical purposes that by the time the US attacked Japan that the axis powers were starting to waver in strength and they would have been very hesitant to aid Japan against the US.

You'd think so, and any rational analysis of the strategic situation in late 1941 would suggest so, but five days after Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the US, one of the truly bizarre and inexplicable acts of the year.

[ Parent ]

Actually ... (none / 0) (#90)
by aphrael on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 02:17:26 PM EST

Japan was at the time allied with Germany and Italy. An attack by one member of a military alliance is, for all practical purposes, an attack by all members, as when one member declares war on a country the rest follow suit. So yes, it did necessitate US intervention in the European front.

That may be true in the modern world of alliances, but it was not necessarily true then. Take for example WWI, prior to which Italy was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary; it did not join in the war when it started, and eventually (years later) joined the Allies.

Hitler did declare war on the US, 5 days after Pearl Harbor, which made the question moot. But it appears to be generally accepted in the historical literature on the period that, given the widespread nature of opposition to participation in the european war, absent that declaration Roosevelt would have had a difficult time mobilizing public support for intervention in Europe (as opposed to Japan, for which support was almost unanimous and instantaneous).

[ Parent ]

More on Pearl Harbor (none / 0) (#85)
by cowbutt on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 05:09:09 AM EST

Second, Pearl Harbor was an attack on the US by Japan. It did not require US intervention in the European front.

Robert B. Stinnett asserts that Pearl Harbor was a setup by FDR to allow the US to formally enter the war in Europe without dissent from the US public:

"Yet, Roosevelt believed that provoking Japan into an attack on Hawaii was the only option he had in 1941 to overcome the powerful America First non-interventionist movement led by aviation hero Charles Lindbergh. These anti-war views were shared by 80 percent of the American public from 1940 to 1941. Though Germany had conquered most of Europe, and her U-Boats were sinking American ships in the Atlantic Ocean - including warships - Americans wanted nothing to do with "Europe's War."

However, Germany made a strategic error. She, along with her Axis partner, Italy, signed the mutual assistance treaty with Japan, the Tripartite Pact, on September 27, 1940. Ten days later, Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum, a U.S. Naval officer in the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), saw an opportunity to counter the U.S. isolationist movement by provoking Japan into a state of war with the U.S., triggering the mutual assistance provisions of the Tripartite Pact, and bringing America into World War II."

A transcript of a talk Stinnett gave can be found here.

I'm aware that some believe Stinnett to be a "crackpot conspiracy-theorist loon", but he does seem to have good credentials and has gathered plenty of plaudits for his research.

[ Parent ]

I've seen variations on that argument before (none / 0) (#89)
by aphrael on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 02:10:07 PM EST

and it has some merit; certainly the US was made more distrustful of European powers after the (in the view of the US) disgraceful way the WWI peace conferences were conducted, and there was a large German-American community which would have resisted open participation in the european war.

But it has two problems:

  • it requires that the US have been able to manipulate the Japanese high command into attacking it. There is little evidence that that is what happened.
  • it requires that the US also have manipulated Hitler into declaring war; he was not necessarily bound to do so by the treaty with Japan (and could have violated that treaty just as easily as he violated his treaty with Stalin, and with lesser repurcussions) --- and without that declaration, the US would still have found no popular support for the war on Germany.
Basically, it seems to make plausible-sounding extrapolations from the US political situation in 1940 and assert them as fact without any substantiating evidence.

[ Parent ]
FYI (none / 0) (#87)
by strumco on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:23:46 AM EST

Second, Pearl Harbor was an attack on the US by Japan. It did not require US intervention in the European front.

FYI, Germany declared war on the USA, immediately after Pearl Harbor, so the US was involved in Europe, like it or not.

By the way, you missed out an important element in the US support for Britain. Yes, the US did lend resources - but they did it in return for permanent leases on British territories (including Diego Garcia). It was called Lend-Lease.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

Debatable (none / 0) (#63)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:22:27 PM EST

The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also... That is debatable - Please provide proof.

I think you can make a really strong case that if the US had stayed out of the European portion of the second world war, two generations of life under the Nazi regime would have been miserable for most Europeans, let alone whatever effect it had on the rest of the world.

[ Parent ]

please explain... (none / 0) (#68)
by KiTaSuMbA on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:50:10 PM EST

What has WWII to do with the cold war afterwards between the 2 main players of the victory against nazis?
Facts are rather simple: after the nazis lost, europe was left in a miserable state, half destroyed. Old "Big Bosses" like france and britain were gathering their pieces. On the other hand, USA merely felt the war on their own soil, WWII was ironically enough, "good business": disoccupation to zero, technology pouring down on everyday people, money earned and huge influence (both economic and strategic) on the european allies. The soviet union suffered a lot too but still the resources (human and material) were almost infinite and USSR respawned in a rapid way. So, by the time WWII ended there were only two "Big Bosses", lines were drawed over Europe and the rest of the world and the chess game begun. Plus, there was the good old excuse for the "fight": communism. Please remember that fascists' and nazis' contendents were the communists and that both Hitler and Mussolini used them as "buzzword" to gain public acceptance, while the japanese have been in war with the russians already. The WWII alliance with the russians was only a "my enemy's enemy is my friend" thing. Isn't that ironic?
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
good business indeed (none / 0) (#84)
by kingcnut on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 01:58:57 AM EST

US industrial capacity tripled during WW2 spurring the prosperity of the 50's, it secured sole access rights to Japans markets, instructed the British to dismantle their empire and kept the Russians from owning all of Europe. It is certainly true to say that the Americans "won" the war.

[ Parent ]
who the asshole could be... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by KiTaSuMbA on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:33:50 PM EST

Quoting you:
"do you believe the wrong doings our government has acted out were done with the intentions of hurting those people?" YES! I've said it before I'll say it again: diplomacy is made of interests not justice.
"As if all governments are perfec .. HAH!" The point is that people should suffer the errors of their OWN bleeding government not the ones of a government someone else voted somewhere else for their own interest...
"Especially the one from your own countries if you believe ours is so horrible." Just what makes you believe american governments are so darn superior to others?
"The United States would be a lot less hated in this world if they had stuck to their own business and not interfered with others, but then again there would also be a lot more people suffering right now also..." The world would have less problems if USA and the former USSR left the rest of the world out of their shit!
Again, oh once again, there is no black and white, good guys and bad ones: there are bad ones and victims so please update your brains to support true color (TM)!
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
(Sarcasm) Yeah! that would have been smart... (none / 0) (#71)
by Judgment on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:20:37 PM EST

Lets just ignore all the things going around us!

Kind of like driving on a highway, watching a drunk driver swerve towards you, and back away, and not taking any action to prevent an accident!

Lets just forget about the welfare of citizens of each nation, as the countries who have problems obviously would NEVER take actions against us to take our citizens lives, or the innocent lives of defenseless people all over the world. Screw them, if they don't have the power to protect themselves from tyranny and oppression we should just let them rot until their oppresors are strong enough to take military action on a larger scale that will directly effect your life.

What kind of demented person thinks that way? I think you need to rethink your opinion.

[ Parent ]

so kill first, kill better huh? (none / 0) (#81)
by KiTaSuMbA on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 12:23:54 AM EST

also, "tyranny and oppression": did you read the article or what? They were democratically elected!
Nah, too bored to get into a flame war.
There is no Dopaminergic Pepperoni Kabal!
[ Parent ]
Side notes... (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:30:04 AM EST

1) How did United Fruit play into all of this?

2) Looking at Wikipedia I see that the Guatemala entries all come from ... drum roll ... the CIA World Factbook and the US Dept of State website. It's pretty bad. I think you should throw this up there as an entry, maybe?



The US overthrew Guatemala for fruit. (5.00 / 4) (#49)
by moxie on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 04:49:03 PM EST

There are a bunch of really entertaining documents that were recently released by the CIA under the FOIA. At first I was completely shocked that they released the information at all (even if it was 20 years late), but it doesn't seem like anyone actually cares about what they did.

First of all, the CIA did not genuinely believe the USSR was using Guetamala as a beach-head for communism. They actually admit to having flown unmarked aircraft over Guetamala to drop crates full of weapons stamped by the Soviet Union, so that it would look like the Soviets were involved.

What was their motivation, then?

When Arbenz came to power, he correctly realized that some sort of agrarian reform was necessary. The United Fruit Company owned almost all of the land in Guatemala, so Arbenz mandated a buy-out of the UFC land. He cleverly paid them $500,000 for the land, because that's what they'd declared it to be worth (for tax purposes). They were (naturally) outraged, and lobbied heavily for action in Guatemala.

The CIA did a lot of interesting stuff. They invented a "fake" rebel army, simulated using mock intra-army radio transmissions and spoofed transmissions/replies from the real Guatemalan army. The result was that the real army felt they were losing huge battles and began to retreat, even though nothing of the sort was really happening.

Of course they didn't tell us about this until 20 years after the fact. It makes you wonder what's happening now.




--
http://www.thoughtcrime.org
[ Parent ]
Quite right they did. Excellent summary. (none / 0) (#53)
by valeko on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:28:00 PM EST

Your comment pretty much hit the nail on the head. Good stuff.

First of all, the CIA did not genuinely believe the USSR was using Guetamala as a beach-head for communism

I think, though, that in this article and in the comments that there is an off-base overemphasis on what the CIA believed or didn't believe. It doesn't really matter. The CIA, in a very loose sense, is there to accomplish policy objectives by covert means, although it obviously has a frighteningly wide mandate of its own that has been used to carry out horrible atrocities over the years.

But what matters is that this "Communist containment" crap is a farce. Neither the American leadership nor the CIA had any illusions about whether Communists were in power in Guatemala, and in particular whether the Guatemalan state was being used as a "beachhead" by the Soviet Union and/or the International Communist Conspiracy to Take Over the World and Destroy Freedom and Democracy. What mattered was that the American grip on Guatemala was being threatened by progressive reforms, so what better way to discredit them and justify their overthrow to the masses than to label Arbenzo & company as Communist infiltrators? What mattered is what the American leadership, with its omnipresent corporate ties, thought ... not necessarily the CIA.

The information available about the gruesome tactics employed and the senseless, relentless lying perpetrated by the American government inside and outside the US is fairly common knowledge. I imagine some of the more criminal bits of that operation continue to remain classified -- which is why I find it amusing that the author of the article asserts his self-righteousness by pointing to the official CIA documents that he so proudly cites. Yep, that's gotta be The Truth(tm), the Whole Truth(tm), and Nothing But the Truth(tm).


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Heh. (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 05:31:45 PM EST

I like your summary better than the history I linked to... (which is the Official US Gubmint Version, I think):

Social reforms initiated by Arevalo were continued by his successor, Col. Jacobo Arbenz. Arbenz permitted the communist Guatemalan Labor Party to gain legal status in 1952. By the mid-point of Arbenz's term, communists controlled key peasant organizations, labor unions, and the governing political party, holding some key government positions. Despite most Guatemalans' attachment to the original ideals of the 1944 uprising, some private sector leaders and the military viewed Arbenz's policies as a menace. The army refused to defend the Arbenz government when a U.S.-backed group led by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas invaded the country from Honduras in 1954 and quickly took over the government.

Makes me laugh, it does.



[ Parent ]

*giggle* (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:20:46 PM EST

He cleverly paid them $500,000 for the land, because that's what they'd declared it to be worth (for tax purposes).

*laugh* that's true justice. :)

[ Parent ]

Cold War (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by bayers on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 11:59:52 AM EST

Here is a list of Cold War battles--is 'battles' the right word?--we lost:

China
Vietnam
Cuba
And nobody knows about North Korea because you can't get in.

Here's a list of countries who allied with us against North Korea. Norway? Why did all these countries help? They had first hand experience of the horrors of WWII. They knew the price of inaction. They said 'never again'. The optimal word in 'Cold War' is 'War'. All wars are evil. The best you can hope for is that your motives are ethically sound. Preventing WWIII and the possible extermination of mankind is ethical. Guatemala was a Cold War pawn.

cold war (none / 0) (#45)
by btb on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 04:00:50 PM EST

I would say that Cuba had more to do with colonialism/imperialism than communism. We threw out the old colonial power, in order to establish our own puppet government. Castro then threw us out. He allied with the USSR out of necessity, in much the same way as we ally with the Saudis and dictators like Musharraf.

The cold war was about black versus white. Guatemala didn't see it that way, and for that they became our enemy?

And I don't think we've ever "lost" anything to China. In fact, we "gained" Taiwan.


[ Parent ]
Taiwan (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by pbryson on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 04:44:43 PM EST

Just a semi-ignorant person's remark, but I think the "fight for Taiwan" hasn't been finished yet. Now if it is going to be more of the political fight, or come down to the Chinese invasion of the island, I don't really have a clue.

I do agree 100% with the rest of your post, and have been trying to convince people for years that the only reason Cuba chose communism and allied with the Soviet Union was to gain some protection from Washington and it's "our way or the highway" views about government.




- - - - - - - - -
Paul
http://www.technocore.org
- - - - - - - - -

[ Parent ]
Oddly enough (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:34:31 PM EST

taking Cuba from Spain and making it a state was widely discussed in southern circles during the period between the independance of Texas (1836) and the Kansas-Nebraska war (1854), by which time it had become clear that there wouldn't be enough support from the north to get the needed measures through Congress.

[ Parent ]
Lost to china? (none / 0) (#76)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 10:43:48 PM EST

And I don't think we've ever "lost" anything to China. In fact, we "gained" Taiwan.

What do you mean, the KMT was very Pro-US (after all we helped them fight off the Japanese) and anti-communist in a manner that would make Joe McCarther blush (not with out good reason, I mean they did lose their whole country).

before that, the Qing dynasty was pretty passive and let the western powers walk all over it. The US, UK and Japan all had a lot of intrest in China, and a lot of sway before WWII. After that for about 30 years we had zero.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Er... (none / 0) (#77)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 10:44:42 PM EST

McCarthy, not mccarther. bleh.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
What's the evidence? (none / 0) (#61)
by aphrael on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 08:19:27 PM EST

What's the evidence for Soviet involvement in Guatemala? While the paranoid US political culture saw Stalinist shadows behind every challenge to the international order in the late 40s and early 50s, it wasn't so --- even the countries that did adopt a communist policy didn't always embrace the enemy we so feared (China and Yugoslavia, for example).

The US attitude during the early cold war was in fact much like the Hapsburg attitude during the middle of the 19th century --- any challenge to the status quo might undermine US power and would be a bad thing; many of the revolutions the US attempted to put down were no worse than, say, the attempted German revolutions of 1848.

[ Parent ]

Evil vs Long-term issues (4.00 / 4) (#55)
by svampa on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 06:36:54 PM EST

They helped to overthrow a democratically elected government, communist or not. It cost thousands of lifes, drived a country to a permanent state of war for years. It was a perfect instance of strong one pissing weaker one, a criminal act. It was evil.
And it was only the begining.

USA soil may mean the promised land, the Eden, and as particular American citizen you may be welcome in Latinoamerica. But American government, for most Latinoamerican people, even nowadays, means greedy, or worse, terror, via monstrous dictators used as pets. I can tell you personal cases.

The common feeling is that it had little to do with soviets interference and a lot with American companies interests (fruits, mines, wood....), "America for Americans" doctrine, that is, "America for USA"

In the cases where you don't listen "Bullshit, blatant lie!. Liberals/Communists propaganda, it never happened", the explanation for those horror times is "It was cold war... We though..." and that excuses anything and forgives anything.

You have gone futher, that wasn't evil, that was a mistake, bad for USA long-term interests

Do you mean that if another deeper aseptic analisys concludes it was good for USA interest then it was well done?

I would prefer to hear, "It was an inmoral behavior, it is a shame in our history. It will never happen again" to a cold study saying "it was a wrong movement that lead us to a weak position" like a chess match.



Yeah, right. (none / 0) (#56)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 06:45:29 PM EST

So you're saying America pissed off its friends? As one of my history teachers has always say, "Countries don't have friends, they have interests. Sadly, it's true. Countries only do things because it benefits them. If we aid someone or help someone, it's because we have it in our interest to do so. Whether the reason is colonialism, furthering an ideology or to expand resources, countries act on their own interest.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
There is no "We" (4.75 / 4) (#69)
by Eloquence on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:03:50 PM EST

The greatest fallacy of all is that there is truly a "We" behind these actions. The CIA's actions throughout history are a mockery of the very concept of democracy. They do not care about your interests -- sure, some CIA decision makers truly believe, and will always believe that they are acting in national security interests. But that attitude is more common in the FBI; the CIA is usually too involved in things to not know what's going on. Which makes the whole "You all hate America" meme worthless, because most of America is simply irrelevant (and most of Europe or any other country as well -- face it, we're effectively powerless).

And their greatest accomplishment was to make people stop talking about them, and to incite Pavlovian reflexes like "conspiracy theory, conspiracy theory!" whenever their name comes up. They are responsible for rape and mass murder of mothers and children, and that responsibiltiy has nothing at all to do with "your interests". It has a lot to do with corporate domination and regional strategic control -- control you, personally, probably couldn't care less about. If they acted in "your interest", why not just ask the population for approval? They know full well that they would never get it if they admitted what they are doing (they will give you a nice spin about exciting secret operations that were necessary to stop communism). The sad fact is that they keep doing the exact same stuff long after the Soviet Union is gone, which further discredits the thesis that they acted out of a false belief in doing the right thing.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Interests (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by strumco on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:01:52 AM EST

So you're saying America pissed off its friends? As one of my history teachers has always say, "Countries don't have friends, they have interests.

More than that.

By extension, these adventures ended up damaging the USA's own interests, by:-

  • Convincing downtrodden people across the world that they could not look to 'the land of the free' for their salvation; they had to look elsewhere
  • Producing a mindset within the USA which restricted diversity of thought - which has its own consequences
  • Delivering substantial powers to the state to fight a mythical enemy. This power has since been used against its own citizens
  • Fostering a belief that foreign policy didn't matter at home - that someone else would take care of it. When people talk about Sept 11th being 'chickens coming home to roost', these are those very chickens

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

Good But Slightly Unbalanced (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by RHSwan on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:47:20 PM EST

While you have done a good job in listing the American side of things, what about the Soviet's? Was there any involvement by the Soviets in Guatemala?

While I can't remember any specifics, I seem to remember after the opening of the KGB files, a lot of the celebrated espionage cases, Alger Hiss (I'm not sure if it was him or the other guy) and the Rosenbergs to name a couple, the accusations turned out to be true. And contrary to their stated position, the American Communist party was funded by the KGB.

Realizing this, a completely balanced accounting of what went on in Guatemala would list what the Soviets were doing during this time. Did any of the sources listed access the KGB files?

The only mentioning I saw of possible of outside Communist involvement was the rebellion supported by Castro. I very seriously doubt this was done without the explicit agreement of the Soviet Union. It would be interesting to read what else the Soviets did in Guatemala in relationship to what the US did.

I covered it. (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by kwsNI on Wed Apr 10, 2002 at 09:57:45 PM EST

Read the perspective section. There was no involvement of the KGB in the Guatemalan republic. The communists were operating on their beliefs and no outside support.

Furthermore, after the propaganda had started to take effect, Arbenz sent his friends to get support from the Soviet block and found little help. They ended up purchasing arms from the communist Czechs (not to be mistaken for receiving for free). That was really a rather strong example of Russia not supporting the Guatemalan communists.

kwsNI
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]

CIA Covert Action in Guatemala: A long term analysis | 93 comments (88 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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