The Forgotten US Interventions

Source: Jacobin Magazine

The long history of US intervention in other countries’ elections has been omitted from discussions of Russia’s alleged meddling.

The collective hysteria over fake news, Russia’s alleged role in the DNC hack, and the unsubstantiated kompramat that supposedly links Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin has reached a fever pitch. But mainstream cable news and the Washington intelligentsia have somehow neglected to connect it to a crucial piece of the US history: its long-standing tradition, euphemistically known as the Truman Doctrine, of intervening in democratic elections abroad to promote its commercial and ideological interests.

Truman’s doctrine would “support free peoples,” he proclaimed in March 1947, “who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Indeed, he and his successors would go to great lengths to keep this promise during the Cold War. American presidents repeatedly directed the CIA to overthrow freely elected leaders in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile because they nationalized industries, threatened corporate interests, and obstructed the United States’ imperial ambitions. American officials falsely branded these leaders as Communists, framed them as threats to national security, and authorized covert operations to replace them with dictators who would serve US interests.

Omission of this history from today’s discourse on Russia and our adversaries prevents our leaders, and especially the American public, from realizing the same tools the United States used to interfere in others’ affairs are now being used against us.

Shielded by this ignorance, it is easy for US officials to portray us as the victims of attacks rather than the inventors of the weapons. When Senator John McCain, for example, says, “If you’re able to change the results of an election, then you have undermined the very fundamentals of democracy,” he forgets to mention this is precisely what the United States did in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile when they were just beginning to experience democracy.

In 1953, a US-backed military coup overthrew Iran’s first democratically elected leader, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, in response to his decision to nationalize the highly lucrative oil industry, cutting off the gravy train the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company had been riding since 1909.

Time had honored the Western-educated leader the year before the coup as its man of the year, hailing him as “the most world-renowned man his ancient race had produced for centuries.” Suddenly, because he wanted to use Iran’s oil wealth to benefit his country, he was deemed a pinko.

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