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Post-WWII U.S. undeclared and/or secret wars and “war triggers”

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Compiled by Dr. Eric T. Karlstrom, Professor of Geography, California State University, Stanislaus (ca. 2001)

ETK Introduction:

I have decided to include notes of events that I had compiled during the 1990’s and early 2000’s even though this information is far from complete.

According to John Stockwell (1991), for every war there has been a “trigger”, or an incident that was seized upon or sometimes engineered and used to galvanize pubic opinion into supporting a war. The orchestration of the war against Mexico in 1846 gives a good example. First, the govt. offered $2 dollars to any soldier who would volunteer. Then it offered 100 acres of free land. Still, there were not enough volunteers. Then when all else failed they sent Zachary Taylor with a small force to raid Mexico along border towns. When the Mexicans responded, the headline read: “Mexicans killing our boys in Texas”. Then they had enough volunteers to fight the war that resulted in US taking what is now New Mexico, Arizona, southern Colorado, and California.

World War II. (1941) The “trigger” for American intervention in WWII was Pearl Harbor. FDR, British Intelligence and other high ranking US officials knew of Japan’s plan to attack Pearl Harbor (they were even tracking the Japanese fleet across the Pacific), but did nothing- they did not even warn the generals at Pearl Harbor of the impending attack. They remained in harbor and were sitting ducks. Over 2000 American servicemen were killed. These lives were clearly sacrificed in order to rally American support for the war. After the war, US admirals wrote a scathing letter condemning FDR for not warning the admirals at Pearl Harbor.

Korea (1945-53). The actual American war in Korea was between 1950 and 1953. The U.S. supported a corrupt, ruthless government in S. Korea and blocked re-unification of South and North Korea.

Vietnam (1945-1973) 11 year war and two coups. The U.S.sided with the French against the former French colony of Vietnam, even though Ho Chi Minh had appealed to the U.S. for help and even modeled the new Vietnamese declaration of independence on the American. Ho had also helped the CIA near the end of WWII in to rescue downed US pilots. The Geneva Accords partitioned the country into north and south and guaranteed a national election in 1956 in which the Vietnamese people would decide their own fate. The US quashed those elections because it was obvious that Ho would win. A CIA coup in 1963 resulted in assassination of South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem (an exiled priest and CIA puppet), as well as his brother Bho Dhin Nhu. (Nhu was one of largest heroin brokers in S. Vietnam). CIA installed Marshall Nguyen Cao Ky (van Thieu) as S. Vietnam’s new leader.

The “Gulf of Tonkin” incident which “triggered” official US entry into full-scale war occurred on July 30, 1964. CIA crews aboard Norwegian built SWIFTS (ships) attacked a radar station in North Vietnam on Hon Me Island. The N. Vietnamese issued a formal protest to the US. The USN Maddox was patrolling inside N. Vietnamese waters to provide cover for the CIA marauders. N. Vietnamese pursued the CIA marauders and confronted the Maddox. The Maddox fired upon the N. Vietnamese, who returned fire- with torpedoes that missed. After a 20 year-non-declared war, with over 2 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans dead, an good development option (that is a nationalistic) development model for Asia was prevented. The country was in ruins, the environment was decimated.

Laos (1958, 59, 60) Coup and secret war. A series of C.I.A. coups forced Pathet Lao to arm itself. The CIA assembled an army of 30,000 “L’Arme Clandestine” mostly Hmong teenagers under General Vang Pao to defeat neutral government. When the ground war failed in 1968, The U.S. rained down two million tons of carpet bombs over the Plain of Jars between 1965 and 1973. Richard Secord, head of CIA operations at the time, presided over this bombing campaign which was greater than all the bombs the US dropped in WWII. Hundreds of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands more maimed. CIA also practiced scorched earth policy- using herbicides to destroy any traces of the opium crop. Government of Laos estimates that even today, 20,000 (mostly villagers and children) die each year , when they accidentally trip unexploded bomlets remaining from the U.S. cluster bombs.

Cambodia (1970). Coup and secret war, terrorism.
Prince Sihanouk overthrown in coup after secret Nixon-Kissinger “carpet bombings” of 1969 and 1970. Over a million people killed.

Nicaragua (1978-19900. Secret war, state-sponsored terrorism, election engineering. The Sandanistas overthrew the brutally repressive Samoza dictatorship in 1978, prompting Washington fears of “another Cuba”. Under Carter, Washington tried to sabatoge the new regime economically and diplomatically. Under Reagan, it became all out war for eight years- although one he was officially not allowed to pursue by Congress’ Boland Amendment. Nicaragua was under attack for 8 years by the Contras, Washington’s proxy army formed from Samoza’s National Guardsmen. Over 22,000 were killed in a war mainly on civilians which the World Court condemned as “illegal use of force”, i.e. state-sponsored terrorism. In 1990, the U.S. interfered with national elections resulting in the defeat of the Sandanistas. After a decade to free market rule, Nicaragua has become one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere, with over half its population suffering from malnutrition and with illiteracy widespread.

Grenada (1979-83). Coup and military invasion. In a 1979 coup, Maurice Bishop took control of the island of 110,000 people. He was enough of a leftist reformer that Washington feared another Cuba. Under Reagan, in Oct. 1983, the U.S. launched an attack upon the tiny island, which resulted in 400 Grenadans, 84 Cubans, and 135 Americans killed or wounded. A U.S. friendly government was installed.

Afghanistan (1979-92). Proxy war, training and support for terrorists.
Beginning in 1979 and throughout the 80’s, the C.I.A. poured over $3 billion dollars into training and funding the Mujihadeen (including Osama bin laden and other Islamic Fundamentalist mercenaries) in order de-stabilize the Afghan government, largely because it was supported by the Soviets. By aiding the fundamentalist opposition , the CIA helped instigate an invasion by the Soviets. It was then stated State Dept. policy to bleed the Soviets in a proxy war here to repel the Soviets who had invaded Afghanistan. Eventually the U.S.-supported Taliban won and the rest of the country lost.. More than a million dead, three million disabled, five million refugees, about half of the population

Panama. (1989) Coup, military invasion, and terrorism.
A U.S. invasion (Operation Just Cause) which killed thousands and wounded some 3,000 Panamanians was officially to oust Noriega on drug trafficking charges. Noriega had served as a CIA asset under 6 U.S. Presidents but was no longer favored. The real reason for the attack was to show the Nicaraguans what might happen if they re-elected the Sandanistas and to show Congress that military budgets needed to stay inflated even after the recent fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Noriega is interred in a Florida jail on trumped up charges and is serving a 45 year sentence. Guiermo Endara was installed by the US as puppet President. Shortly thereafter, Panama became the province of the Cali Cartel, which rushed in after the Medellin cartel was evicted along with Noriega. By the early 90s, Panama’s role in Latin American drug trade and transmission was more crucial than ever.

Iraq (1990s). Military invasion, sanctions, terrorism. The official reason for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s threat to invade Kuwait (which Iraq certainly has historical claims to and which the U.S. Asst. Secretary of State, April Glaspie, encouraged). But the real reason, of course, was to utilize the U.S. military (justifying large defense expenditures) and to weaken one of the strongest countries in the Middle East, thereby insuring American hegemony over the critical, oil-rich region. The U.S. attack began with 40 days of relentless and sustained bombing of Iraqi civilian targets: 177 million pounds of bombs fell , the most concentrated aerial attack the world had seen at that time. Cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used and the total Iraqi death toll during the war was about 200,000. U.N. and U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iraq since the war have resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians, of which an estimated half have been children. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was indeed not different from Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor, which had been carried out with Washington’s blessing. Noam Chomsky sums up U.S. strategic objectives in the area:

It’s been a leading, driving doctrine of US foreign policy since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by the United States and its clients, and crucially, that no independent, indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial influence on the administration of oil production and price.”

Meanwhile an estimated million innocent Iraqi civilians, of which about half or 500,000 are children, have died due to US/UN imposed sanctions. These deaths continue at the rate of 8,000 to 12,000 people a month of which about 5,000 are children. This has gone on for 11 years and amounts to the crime of genocide.

Sudan, Somalia

Yugoslavia. (1999). Sustained NATO bombing for x weeks. About 2 weeks after NATO bombing began, international law professionals from Canada, the UK, Greece and the American Association of Jurists started filing complaints with International Criminal Tribunal charging NATO leaders with war crimes, including “willfull killing, willfully causing great suffering and serious injury to body and health, employment of poisonous weapons and other weapons to cause unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages, unlawful attacks on civilian objects, devastation not necessitated by military objects, attacks on undefended buildings and dwellings, destruction and willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity, and education, the arts and sciences.” The Canadian suit names 68 leaders as war criminals, including William Clinton and Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and various NATO officers. The complaint alleges “open violations” of the UN Charter, the NATO treaty, the Geneva Conventions, and the Principles of International Law recognized by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Considerable evidence was submitted to support the charges. It was NATO’s bombing campaign that led to the bulk of the deaths, provoked most of the Serbian atrocities, caused an environmental disaster, and left legacy of unexploded depleted uranium and cluster bombs.

1. But NATO countries are above the law: they own the Tribunal and the judge. Therefore, by definition, they cannot violate their own laws.

Russian economist Michael Khazin believes that the US, Britain and Germany started the conflict in Kosovo in 1999 to stave off a collapse of western (drug) markets following the Asian collapse of 1997-8.
Afghanistan (2001)- U.S. favored Taliban government and worked to put them there. Taliban leaders were flown to Houston to discuss oil pipeline project. After Bush II became president, Taliban leaders were received at the State Dept., the CIA and National Security Council. Taliban visits to Washington DC continued up to a few months before 9-11. But the Taliban leaders told Afghani farmers to stop growing poppies (thereby removing $1-2 billion in drug profits from world economy). So the Taliban had to go. New President Karzai was a paid UNOCAL consultant.

U.S./British bombing in Afghanistan– 1000s of bombs, 5000 and 1000 lb bombs targeting every major town and rural area. AC-130 planes filled with 70,000 pbs of amo are firing huge Gatling-guns on population. Cluster bombs- prohibited by international law- producing hundreds of small bomblets or bombies packed with razor shrapnel are dispersed at super-high velocities over a wide area- Depleted uranium is also used. This is the terror unleashed on the Afghani civilian population- average income of about 50 cents a day- by the greatest power on earth.

Afghanistan citizen: Average life span – 43 years. Average per capita income- $180. 13% of population has access to clean drinking water. 12% has sanitation Literacy is about 20%. Infant mortality is 247 births/1000 live births- as opposed to about 9 or 10 for most nations. 1 of 17 mothers die in childbirth, the second worst maternal mortality rate in the world.

The real motive for the 1991 Gulf War was to maintain full control of the Persian/Arabian Gulf oil. 2/3 of known oil reserves in the world lie in that region. The U.S. Gulf war allowed the Pentagon to establish numerous military bases in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, etc.

The next key strategic area for fossil fuel reserves is the Caspian Region- of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Khzakhstan, and Azerbaijan- potential value in oil and natural gas is $5 trillion. These former Soviet states share a border with Afghanistan. And the US had already established military bases in Uzebekistan and Khzakstan prior to 9-11 and is now proceeding even more rapidly.

Unocal Oil Corp. spokesman John J. Maresca testified to the House of Rep Committee on International Relations in Feb. 1998:

“The Caspian region contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves… proven natural gas reserves… equal to more than 236 trillion cubic feet… and oil reserve estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels.”

When Sec. State Madeleine Albright heard of the potential bonanza in fossil fuels she stated: “working to mold the area’s future is one of the most exciting things we can do” (Time, May 1998).

U.S. firms which have moved into the area to exploit the potential have directors include:

Former Reagan, Bush and Clinton advisors Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brezezinski, Former White House Chief of Staff John Sinunu, former Defense Secretary and Vice President Richard Cheyney, Former Secretary of State James Baker, former Clinton treasury secretary, Lloyd Bentsen, Donald Rumsfeld,

Israel/Palestine conflict, 1945- present.

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