September 3, 2016
By Ron Read
So it’s that time of year again, and you want to do something that will preserve U.S. dominance and corporate control of a faraway nation’s resources. Here is a recipe to make sure “democracy” wins out that will make your presidential administration one to remember:
- A position as a high-ranking White House official
- Journalists willing to compromise integrity for access to government sources
- Academic think tank reports that prioritize use of military force over diplomacy
- Support from influential Congress members
- Military generals and executive branch officials who are eager to start a new war
- Have your journalist contacts create stories about what an evil dictator the target nation’s leader is and how he or she is ruining the country. If a war is going on, tell the press that war crimes and genocide are occurring. None of this has to be true.
- Use the academic think tanks reports to provide legitimacy to the news stories and help shape the opinions of policymakers indirectly.
- Form a coalition of generals and executive branch officials who will advocate for regime change anytime they are on television or alone with a policymaker.
- Call for economic sanctions on the targeted country. They will help destroy its economy which will hurt the popularity of the new leader even more.
- Tell the media that diplomatic solutions are on the table, but only at the least favorable terms of the country you want to attack.
- Support the local opposition to the current regime by sending in “military advisors” to the country. Also ask Congress for military aid and for a no-fly zone over the target country for increased support.
- Use your contacts in Congress to write a resolution authorizing the use of force in the target country to get a full-scale attack. If it fails, don’t worry, you can always try again after a few months.
- Once military action has been authorized, call for the target leader to surrender or they will feel the wrath of the world’s largest war machine.
Remember you may not need all of these steps; you just need to make sure the leader is forced out of power. For good examples of where variations on this recipe have worked, look at: Iraq, Libya, and/or Nicaragua. With Iraq, members of the Bush administration utilized excellent propaganda to create the illusion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to urge the U.S. to invade. In Libya, members of the Obama administration, including Hillary Clinton, told the press that the Libyan government brought in “mercenaries” to commit genocide so NATO would launch a bombing campaign in support of rebels at war with the regime. And in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration portrayed the Sandinista regime’s overthrow of the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship as a threat to U.S. security in an effort to get support for the Contra fighters at war with the Sandinista’s.
This recipe for regime change can have some minor setbacks. Keep in mind that the recipe led to refugee crises, civil wars, and general regional instability in the examples mentioned above. There are also political and legal costs that come with launching propaganda campaigns and covert wars to facilitate regime change. Members of the Reagan administration faced criminal charges for their secret war against the Sandinista regime. Some of the largest protests in the world took place against the Iraq War during the Bush administration. And the last thing Hillary Clinton wants people to discuss right now is how we got into Libya and the refugees displaced by the conflict.
But despite the cost of using the recipe, in all three cases the target leader was removed from power and U.S. hegemony was preserved. Another important thing was that the threat of a foreign government showing some resistance to the demands of global capitalism was averted. Journalists and activists will say these are the wrong priorities, but remember the general public does not care about the lives of “foreigners.” They just want a tough leader who will stand up against threats to national security whether those threats are real or not. So until people in the U.S. start caring about the effect our wars have on the rest of the world, go ahead and Rock the Casbah.
Ron Read is a law student at the University of Pittsburgh and an intern for the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center.