Crimes Against Humanity
excerpted from the book
Lying for Empire
How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face
by David Model
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
Crimes Against Humanity
Crimes Against Humanity
excerpted from the book
Lying for Empire
How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face
by David Model
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
The International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia describes crimes against humanity as:
Serious acts of violence that harms human beings by striking what is most essential to them: their life, liberty, physical welfare, health, and dignity. There are inhumane acts that by their very extent and gravity go beyond the L tolerable limits of the international community.
Michael Parenti in Dirty Truths:
The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labour, and the accumulation of enormous profits.
Brutal dictators such as the Shah of Iran in 1953, General Suharto in Indonesia in 1967, and Pinochet in Chile in 1973, were all installed in power by the CIA, and relied on American support and weapons to hold on to power. Their dependence on U.S. support all but guaranteed a friendly regime.
In 1954 in Honduras, American military specialists trained anti-government invasion forces to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. After the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua overthrew the corrupt and brutal dictator Somoza, the United States organized, trained, and supplied a guerrilla force known as the Contras in order to restore a friendly government in Nicaragua.
The United States has a high degree of control in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund because of the extent of its financial contributions and the formula used for weighting votes. The IMF, in particular, imposes strict conditions on debtor nations that force them to concentrate on producing cheap exports in order to increase foreign reserves needed to pay interest on their debt. These structural adjustment programs include currency devaluation, reduced wages, cutbacks to social programs, and reliance on the market system. All of these programs benefit creditor nations such as the United States at the expense of the debtor nations.
When New Zealand refused American nuclear submarines access to its ports, the U.S. retaliated by refusing to buy their butter, one of their major exports.
To overcome these obstacles, a president and his top advisors are forced to engineer or "manufacture consent" for policies that might not be acceptable. Edward Bernays, a leading figure of the public relations industry, explains that:
A leader frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at even [a] general understanding... Democratic leaders must play their part in... engineering... consent to socially constructive goals and values.
Panamanian leader Manuel Nora had been a CIA operative for many years despite the fact that he was a notorious drug dealer. Two factors militated against Noriega remaining a U.S. ally much longer. First, a treaty had been signed in 1978 transferring control of the Canal Zone, a ten mile-wide strip encompassing the Panama Canal, from the United States to Panama. President Reagan wanted to regain control of the Canal Zone and the only justification for revoking the treaty was to demonstrate that the Panamanian Defence Forces (PDF) were incompetent and not capable of defending it. Second, despite the fact that Noriega was working for the American Government, he was also a strong nationalist and did not always take orders from American officials. The American Government needed a strategy for replacing Noriega and for proving that the PDF were incompetent. Therefore, the American administration of George H. W. Bush embarked on a campaign to lure Panama into a war to destroy Noriega and to weaken the PDF.
First Noriega was accused of being a major drug dealer (which was well known for many years while he was an asset for the CIA) who would have to be captured to face drug charges in the U.S. Then to create an incident that would provide the United States with an excuse for invading Panama, they hatched a deceitful scheme to discredit the Panamanian Defence Forces. The Southern Command (headquarters for U.S. forces in Panama) encouraged a group of leaders of the PDF to execute a coup against Noriega with American support. The American forces were to block all routes to Noriega's headquarters so that the mutinous PDF forces would meet with very little resistance. The Americans did not provide the promised support condemning the coup to failure. The next step in the plot was to send a group of American marines known as the Hard Chargers into Panamanian territory to provoke an incident. After extensive harassment, an exchange of shots took place killing a U.S. marine. The Bush administration could now claim that American lives were in danger in Panama and the PDF were incompetent to protect them. Shortly thereafter, the United States invaded Panama ostensibly to capture the "narco-terrorist" Noriega. Between 2000 and 4000 innocent Panamanians lost their lives and entire neighborhoods were leveled to the ground. American forces eventually captured Noriega and installed American-friendly leaders as President and Vice President. J
To convince the American public and Congress to approve a foreign or defence policy, the government frequently invents a crisis to instill fear in Americans, and generate support for the chosen policy. First, George W. Bush's administration warned Americans about the development and accumulation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq with no evidence to support their allegations. Then Bush warned about Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda and possible involvement in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. without evidence. Neither of these claims were valid. By calling colour-coded security alerts and asking the American public to buy duct tape to protect themselves from chemical attacks, the administration further exacerbated American's fear of terrorism. The resulting atmosphere was a pervasive fear that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to American security.
In the 2003 American bombing of Iraq, American propagandists, to create an inflated sense of the threat to American security, warned that Saddam was prepared to use his weapons of mass destruction. There was no evidence that he either possessed WMD or that he intended to use them. The only evidence was the word of people such as Bush, Rumsfeld, and other government spokespersons.
To ensure protection from criticism which might undermine their propaganda efforts, American administrations employ a strategy referred to as "marginalizing dissent" (Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent, 1988). Valid criticism might begin to resonate with the American people and it is imperative to avoid any such criticisms.
George W. Bush set the stage for marginalizing dissent during the 2003 assault on Iraq by uttering, "you are either for us or against us." In other words, anyone who dares to criticize the government is unpatriotic. Bill Maher was fired from the program "Politically Incorrect" for challenging the administration's refusal to ask what motivated the terrorists of 9/11. The Dixie Chicks, a country music group who criticized the Iraq bombing in 2003, were booed at the 2003 ACM awards, had their number one song "Travelin' Soldier" dropped by radio stations, and had radio stations across the country ban their music. Robert Fisk is one of the most respected and experienced journalists on Middle East affairs but is despised by the administration for his refusal to be embedded and for an interview he gave on Iraqi television. You rarely see his name on a column in the United States press any longer because he had the temerity to seek the truth.
Gaining control over the world's second largest oil reserves in Iraq ... was not openly discussed by the administration. The United States did not need to import the oil immediately but control over oil reserves guaranteed them access in the future when new sources of oil might be necessary. Also, the establishment of American military bases in Iraq would help secure control over the entire region.
Most American military interventions are motivated by the need to protect American economic and military interests. The objective of the invasion of Panama was to regain control over the Panama Canal Zone, a vital American economic and military asset. In Guatemala the economic motive was to regain the land confiscated from the United Fruit Company by the government of Guatemala. The economic motive in the 2003 bombing of Iraq was to gain control over the world's second largest reserves of oil.
When the Belgian Congo gained its independence on June 20, 1960, the new Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was viewed as a threat by the Eisenhower administration because of his call for political and economic liberation. The U.S. government's objective was to maintain access to the Congo's rich resources. Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA under President Eisenhower, ordered the assassination of Lumumba in August 1960. Before the CIA could act, Mobutu Sese Seko, Lumumba's private secretary, intervened militarily and removed Lumumba from power. The CIA and Mobutu were implicated in his assassination in January 1961. President Kennedy supported Mobutu despite his record of human rights abuses and corruption.
The Kennedy administration supported conspiracies that overthrew six popularly elected governments in Latin America. Military dictators took power in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala and El Salvador with the support of President Kennedy. These dictators employed brutal methods to maintain themselves in power including the destruction of their civil opponents.
President Ford supplied the arms and gave the green light to General Suharto of Indonesia for the invasion of East Timor. President Carter rearmed the Indonesian military when their supply of arms ran low.
World War II - Crimes against humanity
During World War II, Allied Forces decided to prosecute the leaders of the Nazi regime as war criminals. On October 7, 1942, the Allied Forces announced that a United Nations War Crimes Commission would be created to investigate Nazi war crimes. The Commission was established on October 20, 1943. The decision was reached in the Moscow Declaration on October 30, 1943, signed by the United Kingdom, United States, and USSR, to prosecute and punish German war criminals at the end of the war.
The Moscow Declaration states that:
Accordingly, the aforesaid three allied powers, speaking in the interest of the thirty-two United Nations, hereby solemnly declare and give full warning of their declaration as follows: those German officers who have been responsible for or have taken a consenting part in the above atrocities... may be judged and punished...
The London Agreement of August 8, 1945, authorized the establishment of a tribunal for prosecuting and sentencing war criminals. The Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal was drawn up at a conference in London and delineated the structure, jurisdiction, role of the chief prosecutor, and procedures of the International Military Tribunal.
The International Law Commission of the United Nations was commissioned to formulate the principles of international law which were recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. All subsequent international laws involving crimes against humanity are based on these principles. The Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, drafted in 1950, include the following principles:
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime in international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law. J
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace;
(b) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression in violation of international treaties;
(c) Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
"I am not an Athenian, or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."
The International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded was established in 1862. In 1863 fourteen countries sent delegates to a conference in Geneva, and in 1864 representatives of 16 governments adopted a treaty entitled the "Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field." This was the first international agreement to define international humanitarian law. In time, the movement became known as the Red Cross. The Geneva Convention was subsequently expanded to four conventions and two protocols signed by 115 nations:
1. The First Convention (1864) dealt with wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field.
2. The Second Convention (1899) added wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea as well as shipwreck victims.
3. The Third Convention (1907) included prisoners of war.
4. The Fourth Convention (1949) was about civilians in time of war.
5. The First Protocol (1977) added protection of the victims of international military conflicts.
6. The Second Protocol (1977) brought in protection for victims of local conflicts.
The essential principles of the Geneva Conventions are
* respect for human beings and respect for their dignity;
* individuals who do not take direct part in hostilities and those who can not take part due to illness, wounds, captivity, or other reasons, are entitled to respect and protection from the conflicting sides' military operations;
* warring sides and combatants are obliged not to attack civilians and civilian objects.
The Third Convention, pertaining to the protection of prisoners of war, includes the following clauses:
Part 1, Article 3 Clause 1
Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms and those who suffer from sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion, faith, sex, birth, wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees that are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
Part 1 Article 4A
Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
Part 1 Article 5
The present convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and patriation.
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.
Part 4 Article 118
Prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities
American Presidents have regularly violated the clauses prohibiting violence against the life and dignity of civilians ...
The third Geneva Convention's protection for prisoners of war has been completely ignored by the United States ...
Convention IV of the Geneva Conventions pertains to the protection of civilians and includes the clauses below.
Part 1 Article 3
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory in one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) All persons including armed forces who have surrendered must be treated humanely.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murders of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.
Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions pertains to the protection of civilians and non-military targets and includes the following clauses:
Chapter 11, Article 51:
(1) The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy protection against dangers arising from military operations.
[(4) Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:
(a) those which are not directed at specific military objectives;
(b) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
(c) those that employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilian or civilian objects without distinction.
Chapter 111, Article 52:
(1) Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals. Civilian objects are all objects that are not military objectives.
(2) Attacks should be limited strictly to military objectives.
One example of weapons that violate international law are cluster bombs. Cluster bombs disperse bomblets over a wide area significantly expanding the radius of the area destroyed. They can be fired from surface artillery or from rockets or airplanes. Those dropped from airplanes explode above the ground and break up into hundreds of little bomblets which saturate the target area. Because it is impossible to isolate any target with pinpoint accuracy, these bombs often destroy non-military targets.
When the United States bombed Iraq in 1991 for invading Kuwait, it dropped 62,000 air-delivered cluster bombs and delivered 110,000 by other means, littering the country with 24 to 30 million unexploded sub munitions literally a disaster waiting to happen. (Human Rights Watch)
NATO bombed Serbia into submission under the pretext of a humanitarian war. During the bombing, the United States, Britain, and Holland dropped 1,765 cluster bombs containing more than 295,000 cluster bomblets. Not only did the cluster bombs result in civilian casualties and destroy non-military targets, but an estimated 20,000 unexploded bombs remained after the war waiting for innocent civilians to set them off. (Human Rights Watch)
After 9/11, the United States launched its War on Terrorism. The first acts were the bombing of Afghanistan to eradicate the Taliban accused of harbouring terrorists, the destruction of terrorist training camps, and the attempted capture of terrorists, including the head of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 bomblets leaving an estimated 12,400 duds with the potential to kill years after the conflict. (Human Rights Watch)
The use of cluster bombs violates the First Protocol, Chapter II, Article 51 of the Geneva Conventions. This falls under the category of protection of civilians, "indiscriminate weapons" and weapons which "are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilian or civilian objects without distinction."
In April 1991, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority claimed that U.S. ground forces fired between 5000 and 6000 rounds of depleted radiation ordnance in Iraq. In addition, U.S. and British aircraft launched approximately 50,000 DU rockets and missiles. DU weapons burst into flames creating uranium oxide that spreads and contaminates bodies, equipment, and the ground. The uranium-238 that is used to make the weapons causes cancer and genetic defects. According to the report of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, 40 tonnes of radioactive debris could kill 500,000 people.
Nicaragua responded to American attacks on its territorial integrity and independence by filing charges at the World Court. Nicaragua claimed that its territorial integrity was threatened by the mining of its harbours and by an American-sponsored guerrilla force called the Contras. The Court ruled that "...the US was under duty to cease and desist immediately from the use of force against Nicaragua, [and] from all violations of the sovereignty and political independence of Nicaragua..." In achieving this ruling Nicaragua accomplished two important victories. First, it proved to the world that it was under attack. Second, it identified the U. S. as a rogue state: the U. S., under President Reagan at the time, ignored the ruling.
When presidents commit war crimes they must be held accountable by an international tribunal.
Presidents aren't just war criminals; they seek to undermine the institutions that create and adjudicate international law.
The Charter of the United Nations [June 26, 1945] expanded the domain of laws r pertaining to crimes against humanity by extending them to acts of aggression and breaches of the peace. While the Geneva Conventions provide protection to individuals, specifically civilians and the wounded, the Charter refers to the actions of states. These actions could include unilateral acts of aggression, failure to seek means other than aggression to resolve disputes, and declaring war without the authorization of the Security Council.
George W. Bush's decision to attack Iraq in 2003 was a clear violation of both the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter.
According to Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, "I've indicated that it [the War on-Iraq] was not in conformity with the U.N. Charter from our point view, and from the Charter point of view it was illegal." (ABC Online, March 2003)
.... Britain and the United States used cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons ... Iraq Body Count reports that
Among these incidents [of civilian deaths] are included reliable reports of at least 200 civilian deaths due to cluster bombs, with up to a further 172 deaths which were probably caused by cluster bombs. Of these 372 deaths, 147 have been caused by detonation of unexploded or "dud" munitions, with about half of this number being children.
The exact amount of depleted uranium used in the bombing of Iraq is not known but it has been estimated to be greater than the 340 tonnes in the 1991 war. The radiation from these weapons does not discriminate between military personnel and civilians. Depleted uranium may be a contributing factor to cases of "Gulf War Syndrome" affecting American veterans of the 1991 bombing of Iraq.
The North Atlantic Treaty which established NATO, and the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS)...
The OAS Charter states that:
Chapter I Article 2
The Organization of American States, in order to put into practice the principles on which it is founded and to fulfill its regional obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, proclaims the following essential purposes:
(a) To strengthen the peace and security of the continent;
(b) To promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention;
The United States breached the OAS charter when it mined the harbours of Nicaragua and when it organized a guerrilla force to undermine the government of Nicaragua. The OAS Charter was violated when the U.S. organized the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and also when it sent the marines into the Dominican Republic in 1963.
President Harry Truman and Hiroshima
excerpted from the book
Lying for Empire
How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face
by David Model
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
On November 25, 1941, after a meeting of the War Cabinet, Secretary of War Stimson wrote in his diary that the President:
Brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps (as soon as) next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without too much danger to ourselves. (A. Russell Buchanan, The United States and World War II)
This reveals that the U.S. was angling for a fight, for an excuse and justification to enter the war. Because the Roosevelt administration understood that it had cut off 88% of the oil supply, they knew it was only a matter of time before Japan, starved for oil, would attack in an attempt to regain access to oil. The subsequent claim that Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked surprise attack that "shall live in infamy" counts as one of the most important presidential lies of all time.
After the B-29s were shifted to the Marianas the Americans conducted I a raid against an aircraft plant in Tokyo. During this mission, the planes flew at 32,000 feet and were impervious to Japanese flak and fighters. For the next three months, the bombing raids targeted the aircraft industry. General Curtis LeMay, who was in command of the B-29s, concluded that to inflict greater damage during bombing raids, the aircraft would need to shift to incendiary bombs which contained napalm, a jellied form of petroleum that exploded upon impact engulfing everything in the vicinity in flames.
On February 4, 1945, bombers carrying incendiary bombs struck at Kobe, Japan's sixth largest city. The result was that five of the twelve main factories were damaged as well as one of the two shipyards. A second raid with incendiary bombs struck Tokyo on February 25 and destroyed 28,000 structures (homes, factories etc.). On March 8, 1945, LeMay ordered a largescale bombing of Tokyo involving 334 bombers. Almost sixteen square miles of the city was incinerated and 267,000 buildings were destroyed. More than 83,000 people were killed and another 41,000 were injured. By early June, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kawasaki were subject to further bombings. Ronald H. Spector in Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan, described the destruction as:
Over 40% of the total urban area of these cities had been gutted; millions had been rendered homeless. LeMay next turned to the destruction of Japan's smaller cities. His bomber force, now almost 600 strong, ranged over Japan almost at will, visiting destruction on half a hundred smaller cities and manufacturing centres.
At this point in the war, Japan's cities had been severely damaged, the industrial base virtually destroyed, the navy and air force rendered useless, and the people left suffering from starvation.
... Despite the massive victories scored against Japan, American leaders were not celebrating because they were dreading the invasion of Japan itself. U.S. military planners were very apprehensive about Japanese soldiers fighting in their homeland because they had already demonstrated their unyielding tenacity and truculence elsewhere. A number of options were discussed including:
* invade Japan and fight until the Japanese surrender;
* demand a surrender with terms other than an unconditional surrender and threaten to use a new highly destructive weapon (atomic bomb);
* demand unconditional surrender with the same threat;
* demand either conditional or unconditional surrender and not warn the Japanese about the new weapon;
* demand either conditional or unconditional surrender and demonstrate the new weapon;
* respond to Japanese attempts (mostly through the Soviet Union) to negotiate the terms of the surrender.
Many high level meetings and committees discussed these and other options at great length for many months. The events leading up to the conclusion of the war as well as the behind-the-scene discussions and diary entries of key figures are instrumental in understanding the motives of President Truman (President Roosevelt died in April) in making the decision about how to end the war.
A number of important events preceded the use of the atomic bombs. On April 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered their field commanders to make plans for the invasion of Japan. Discussions about where to begin the invasion were heated but a consensus was finally reached to invade Kyushu. The Joint Chiefs of Staff presented the plan to President Truman with an estimate of the number of American lives that would be lost. The number was mere speculation and was not based on any sound rational process but On an extrapolation based on the number of casualties in Okinawa. Some military officers contemplated the possibility of ending the war without an invasion
One of the most controversial issues in the Pacific theatre was t'' debate over the terms of surrender to be offered to Japan. In 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill and their military advisors met in Casablanca to discuss strategy. The British War Cabinet and President Roosevelt's advisors had already discussed the terms of surrender and at a press conference held at the end of the Casablanca Conference, Roosevelt announced that the Allied Powers were striving for an "unconditional surrender." The term was first coined by Ulysses S. Grant in the Civil War.
Unconditional surrender implied that the institution of Emperor would be abolished and this was one of the stumbling blocks to a Japanese surrender. Japanese fears about the Emperor were not groundless. American leaders such as Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, believed that the Emperor symbolized the military clique that dominated Japan and, therefore, must not survive the war. A June 1945 Gallup poll revealed that 33% of Americans wanted the Emperor to be executed as a war criminal.
In Japanese society, the Emperor was regarded as a deity similar to Jesus or Buddha. Gar Alperovitz in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb described the tradition of the Emperor:
The godhood of the Emperor was a tradition which traced back to 660 9) B.C. and the first Japanese Emperor, Jimmu, who was, according to legend, a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, made him and all of his successors also divine beings. 7 The status of the Emperor would explain Japanese consternation about an "unconditional surrender." It is not clear that losing the Emperor was a critical issue for the Americans since, in the end, the Emperor was retained anyway.
The terms of surrender and the use of the bomb were on the agenda of a high-level committee appointed by President Truman. As a result of a meeting on April 25, 1945, Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson and President Truman proposed the creation of the Interim Committee. Its mandate was to operate only between early May and the actual use of the bomb (the decision to use the atomic bomb had not been made yet). One of the recommendations of the committee was the retention of the Emperor. The Interim Committee also recommended that:
... the Secretary of War should be advised that, while recognizing that the final selection of the target was essentially a military decision, the present view of the Committee was that the bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible; that it be used on a war plant surrounded by workers' homes; and that it be used without prior warning.
In the months prior to the Potsdam meeting, the Allied leaders were very concerned about the strength and intentions of the Soviet Union after the war. Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew summed up their concern:
Already Russia is showing us-in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia-the future world pattern that she visualizes and will aim to create. With her certain stranglehold on these countries, Russia's power will steadily increase and she will in the not distant future be in a favorable position to expand her control, step by step through Europe. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
President Truman was advised that:
If expectations were to be realized, he [Stimson] told me, the atomic bomb would be certain to have a decisive influence on our relations with other countries. And if it worked, the bomb, in all probability, would shorten the war. Byrnes had already told me that the weapon might be so powerful as to be potentially capable of wiping out entire cities and killing people on an unprecedented scale. And he added that in his belief the bomb might well put us in a position to dictate our terms at the end of the war. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
The expression "dictating our terms" is in reference to the Soviet Union whose expansionist ambitions were no secret.
Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson reported that:
I told him [Assistant Secretary of War-John J. Mcloy] that my own opinion was that the time now and the method now to deal with Russia was to keep our mouths shut and let our actions speak for words. The Russians will understand them better than anything else. It is a case where we have got to retain the lead and perhaps do it in a pretty rough and realistic way. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
A War Department staff report recognized that:
In destroying Germany, the nation that set out to dominate Europe using force, we have made Russia, a nation with an economic system of national monopoly, the unquestionably dominant power in Europe. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
P. M. S. Blackett, a British Nobel Prize-winning physicist, concluded that:
... the dropping of the atomic bomb was not so much the last military act of the Second World War as the first major operation of the cold diplomatic war with Russia.
But using civilians from a third country as a warning of America's new, highly destructive weapon has to rank as one of the greatest crimes against humanity. To sacrifice two cities and about 150,000 people to inform your post-war adversary that they may be next is unadulterated insanity.
Leo Szilard, an atomic scientist who met with James F. Byrnes noted that:
Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war. He knew at the time, as the rest of the government knew that Japan was essentially defeated and that we could win the war in another six months. At that time Mr. Byrnes was much concerned about the spreading of Russian influence in Europe... [Mr. Byrnes view was] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
The Soviet Union's growing power, influence, and ambitions were causing the American leaders a gnawing disquietude about the distribution of power in the post-war world. Their apprehensions were based on Soviet ideology, as understood in the West, on Soviet ambitions for world domination and on their maneuvers to gain control of Eastern Europe and much of Japanese territory as possible. Both became critical factors in lied thinking about how to end the war. According to Bill Gordon in Reflections Hiroshima:
... American leaders had concerns that the Soviet Union would occupy Manchuria and would share the occupation of Japan with the U.S.; in addition, American leaders believed that dropping the bomb would strengthen their position with the Soviet Union concerning their sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.
As well, Gar Alperovitz, in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, observed that:
The primary focal point... is the fact that throughout the spring and summer of 1945 American officials developed their thinking on the use of the atomic bomb in close relationship in the planning of U.S. diplomacy towards the Soviet Union.
Truman's strong concern about the post-war Soviet threat was the primary factor in his repeated attempts to postpone the Potsdam conference. He was waiting for a successful test of the atom bomb before meeting with Stalin.
Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson suggested at a meeting with President Truman that:
... the greatest complication was what might happen at the meeting of the Big Three. He told me he had postponed that until the 15th of July on purpose to give us more time. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
When President Truman responded to Prime Minister Churchill's plea for a big three meeting as early as possible, he stated that ". . . it will be very difficult for me to be absent from Washington before the fiscal year (June 30)." Churchill responded on May 11 with "I would have suggested the middle of June but for your reference to your fiscal year (June 30) because I feel that every minute counts" and on May 13 "In this case I consider that we should try to bring the meeting off sometime in June, and I hope your fiscal year will not delay it..." Finally, in complete frustration, Churchill sent a cable to President Truman protesting that:
... I consider that July 15, repeat July the month after June, is much too late for the urgent questions that demand attention between us... 1 have proposed June 15, repeat June the month before July, but if that is not possible why not July 1, 2, or 3? (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
In a meeting with President Truman on May 21, Joseph E. Davies, former Ambassador to Moscow, explained that:
He did not want to meet until July. He had his budget on his hands. He also told me of another reason, etc. The test [of the bomb] was set for June, but had been postponed for July. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision the Use the Atomic Bomb)
President Truman's posture toward the Soviet Union shifted after he became aware that a test of the atomic bomb was imminent. Originally, he needed the Soviet Union to declare war against Japan to draw some of the Japanese resources away from the war against the U.S. After the successful test of the nuclear weapon, Truman decided that he could terminate the war with Japan without Soviet assistance and he did not want the Russians to have a share in the Pacific pie. Ronald H. Spector, in Eagles Against the Sun: The American War With Japan, observed that:
With the atomic bomb a reality, the participation of the Soviets in the war against Japan now appeared unnecessary, if not actually undesirable. Ever since Yalta some American leaders had had doubts about the value of Soviet participation, and now General Marshall again advised the President that the Soviets were not really needed.
Two crucial questions must be answered about the terms of surrender. Firstly, were the Japanese prepared to surrender if there was a guarantee to retain the Emperor? Secondly, if the Japanese were prepared to surrender on these terms, was Truman aware of it? According to Gar Alperovitz in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb:
Truman had been fully aware of the key intercepts (something he had privately confirmed to State Department interviewers four years earlier [than 1960 when the official Potsdam Papers were published], in January 1956).
Fragments of other intercepts to which President Truman was privy included:
* On May 12, 1942, William Donovan, Director of the OSS reported to Truman that Shunichi Kase (Japanese Minister to Switzerland) stated that he "...believes that one of the few provisions the Japanese would insist upon would be the retention of the Emperor..."
* On August 11, 1944, Magic reports of intercepted messages designated "Eyes Only" for the President, such as "Foreign Minister Shigemitsu has instructed Ambassador Sato [in
Moscow] to find out whether Russia is willing to assist in bringing about a negotiated peace... " It seems highly unlikely that he would have taken such a step without having consulted at least some members of the new Japanese Cabinet.
* On May 7, 1945, a peace feeler from Portugal directly to Truman from the OSS representative reported that "...the Japanese are ready to cease hostilities, provided they are allowed to retain possession of their home islands." Then again on May 19, "On this occasion Inoue declared that actual peace terms were unimportant so long as the term 'unconditional surrender' was not employed."
* On July 16, 1945, William Donovan sent the President a report on P. Jacobson (Swedish economic advisor to the Bank for International Settlements) informing Truman that "Throughout discussions with Jacobson, the Japanese officials stressed only two points: (a) the preservation of the Emperor, and (b) the possibility of returning to the constitution promulgated in 1889." (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
Secretary of State Byrnes was not only a friend of President Truman but became his closest advisor. Byrnes strong support for the use of the atomic bomb without any warning not only influenced the President but also influenced the Interim Committee whose recommendations comprised most of the Potsdam Declaration. According to the New York Times:
... it was understood that Mr. Byrnes would in effect, replace Harry Hopkins as Presidential confidant, and, it was asserted, receive far more authority than a President has yet yielded to any man.
Byrne's assistant Walter Brown observed that:
The President and Mr. Byrnes talked for an hour and it was apparent Truman was looking to Byrnes for guidance.. . Truman said he considered Byrnes one of his best friends and realized that he knew more about government than anyone else around and, therefore, he wanted Byrnes' help. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
Secretary Byrnes was single-minded with respect to his views about how to end the war. He was uncompromising about the terms of surrender. According to Gar Alperovitz in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb:
... Byrnes is a prime candidate for the advisor who helped Truman draft his still-unexplained June 1 no-compromise stand on unconditional surrender... So far as we can tell Byrnes was the only advisor whose views were fully compatible with this position at this time.
As well, Gar Alperovitz, in the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, concluded that:
In general, it appears that Byrnes not only regarded the atomic bomb as extremely important to his diplomacy towards Russia, but that in advising Truman he took a very narrow view of its role. Minimally, he seems to have seen it from the very beginning as leverage to help American diplomacy, and, more likely, as the critical factor which-if shrewdly handled-would allow the United States to impose its own terms once its power was demonstrated.
Given the context in which President Truman would be making the decision about ending the war, there would seem to be a predisposition toward using the bomb. The Interim Committee had recommended dropping the bomb; Truman's closest advisor strongly favoured the bomb; and the climate of apprehension about Soviet expansionism strengthened the case for using the atomic bomb.
The fear of an expanding Soviet Empire after the war was a major problem for American policy-makers because it would threaten the magnitude and strength of the American Empire. Apprehension of Soviet intentions and the expansion of the American Empire would play a key role in how to end the war with Japan.
Another major issue to be considered was whether an invasion of Japan would cost substantially more lives than dropping the bomb. One of the mythical justifications invoked to support the use of atomic weapons assumed a fraudulent dichotomy between dropping the bomb and invading Japan. The justification was mythical because the President did not have any serious discussions with the military about the potential loss of lives and most military leaders rejected the use of nuclear weapons. As well, there were many other options. American leaders were aware of Japanese peace feelers from diplomatic intercepts and therefore, negotiations offered the potential to end the war without the loss of any more live/s.
... The argument about minimizing the loss of life ignores the fact that most military leaders were opposed to using the bomb and were not consulted. Gar Alperovitz in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb pointed out that:
When we turn to the testimony of the top military leaders themselves, the evidence not only confirms that their advice was not seriously sought, but also (with one possible ambiguous exception) strongly suggests that none believed the use of the atomic bomb was dictated by overwhelming military considerations. Several expressed deep revulsion at the idea of targeting a city.
That lack of consultation doesn't represent blundering on the part of civilian leaders including Truman. Rather, it supports the idea that the use of the weapon was not going to be a military but a diplomatic decision. The decision was going to be based largely on considerations of empire and therefore military input was secondary.
Fleet Admiral William D. Leay, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered the opinion that:
... the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were almost ' defeated and ready to surrender.., in being the first to use it, we... adopted an J ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. (Gar Alperovitz, Was Hiroshima Necessary to End the War)
Major General Curtis E. during a press conference on September 20, 1945, made it clear that military considerations were not in play when he stated that:
The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians and without the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of Lt the war at all. (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)
Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, commander of the Third Fleet
"The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment It was a mistake ever to drop it... (the scientists) had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it... It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before."
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
I voiced my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary and secondly because the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives."
There are two ways to assess whether President Truman committed crimes against humanity.
The first is the Charter of the International Military Tribunal for the Nuremberg trials which applies to this case. President Truman violated the following clauses in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal:
b. War Crimes: namely violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include... murder, ill-treatment.., of civilian population... wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
c. Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination .... of civilian population...
The other way to evaluate President Truman's culpability is to apply international laws which were created after the end of WW II. He violated the following clauses in the Geneva Conventions:
1. Convention IV, Part 1, Article 3, clause 1,-protection of civilians;
2. Convention IV, Chapter III, article 52-protection of nonmilitary objects:
3. Protocol I, Chapter II, Article 51, clause 4-indiscriminate attacks.
President Truman lied to the American people about his motives for dropping the two atomic bombs. He also misled the public about the nature of the first target. In a radio speech on August 9, 1945, he gave assurances that "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base." (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States) The killing of over 100,000 civilians, the devastation of two cities, the deaths and diseases resulting from radiation poisoning, and the ominous precedent of using nuclear weapons are categorically crimes against humanity.
President Dwight Eisenhower and Guatemala
excerpted from the book
Lying for Empire
How to Commit War Crimes With A Straight Face
by David Model
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
In 1954, the American government successfully orchestrated the overthrow of the freely elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and replaced him with their hand-picked alternative.
... nationalist ambitions in developing country where the government sought to become independent of Washington's influence were usually interpreted on the surface as communist subversion whereas the greater threat was a weakening of the American sphere of influence. As well, redistributing wealth or land was usually a sign that the government was apparently poisoned by communist subversion. Gabriel Kolko, in Confronting the Third World: United States Foreign Policy 1945-1980, points out that:
Both privately and publicly, each [Eisenhower and Truman] attributed to the Russians a transcendent ability to shape events in the most remote countries, and even when they did not initiate them they almost invariably knew how to exploit them... Russia "seeks world rule through the domination of all governments by the International Communist Party" as John Foster Dulles typically put it in 1957. Such conspiracies included "extreme nationalism" as one of its tools. And he found their alleged ability "to get control of mass movements" uncanny.
According to a number of scholars, the hypothesis that international Communism infiltrated developing world political and economic structures for the purpose of establishing a communist government was inaccurate and missed the real motivations for American foreign policy which was to expand the American Empire.
One possible rationale for American anti-communist policies was their notion that a government which implemented a social and economic system fundamentally different from the U.S. system must be infiltrated with communist conspirators. Governments which attempted to construct an economic system which was not based on the market system threatened the sanctity of the United States social and economic system which, in fact, serves the interests of the wealthy. The fear was that an alternative system that was perceived as more fair and equitable might undermine faith in the American system. The fear was well founded since today the United States has one of the highest poverty rates, infant mortality rates, incarceration rates, and murder rates in the industrialized world. It also has some of the poorest educational, health-care, and welfare systems. So when freely elected governments in Nicaragua or Guatemala implemented progressive land reforms, labour laws, and welfare systems that benefited everyone, they evoked fear in American elites that such ideas might become infectious. To discredit governments that posed these threats, the U.S. government condemned them as having been infiltrated by Communists. The United States claim that Nicaragua and Guatemala were threats to the U.S. because of communist infiltration was ludicrous. When President Reagan warned that Nicaragua was only two days from Brownsville Texas, his administration's intention was not to warn of a real threat (a silly notion) to U.S. security, but to evoke fear in order to justify intervention. William Blum, in Killing Hope: US. Military and CIA Intervention Since World War II, points out that:
In cases such as the above-mentioned Grenada, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, even if the particular target of intervention does not present an immediate lucrative economic opportunity for American multinationals, the target's socialist-revolutionary program and rhetoric does present a threat and a challenge, which the United States has repeatedly felt obliged to stamp out, to maintain the principle, and as a warning to others; for what the US has always feared from the Third World is the emergence of a good example: a flourishing socialist society independent of Washington.
Noam Chomsky, in Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, echoes the same theme when'-
Why do we have to get rid of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua? In reality it's not because anybody really thinks that they're a communist power about to conquer the Hemisphere-it's because they were carrying out social programs that were beginning to succeed, and which would have appealed to other people in Latin America who want the same things.
... Edward Herman, in Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in the Age of Propaganda, offers the same analysis that:
A basic feature of the MIC [Military-Industrial Complex] is that it keeps developing weapons that the contractors want to sell. The point is to command resources, maintain and enlarge profits, and produce jobs. Missions are needed to justify weapons acquisition, and they are usually couched in terms of some threat, some niche that has to be filled to protect our national security.
William Blum, in Killing Hope, suggests that:
... one must examine the role of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. The members of this network need enemies-the military and the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency]-because enemies are their reason d'etre; industry, specifically the defense contractors, because enemies are to be fought with increasingly sophisticated weaponry and aircraft systems.. . The executives of these corporations... who continue to use their positions, their wealth, and their influence ... to nourish and to perpetuate the fear of communism, the enemy ...
Seventy percent of the land [in Guatemala] was owned by only 2.2% of the population.
... the United Fruit Company whose major crop was bananas. The United Fruit Company was originally the Boston Fruit Company founded by Minor C. Keith whose original project was to build railways in Central America. In order to finance his railway business he began to sell bananas and by 1883 owned three banana companies which became known as the United Fruit Company in 1899. It had become the largest producers of bananas in the world. Much of the cultivated land was providing food for the United States and not for the hungry people of Guatemala.
United Fruit Company's president persuaded other landowners to support Jorge Ubico for president in the mid-nineteen thirties. The United Fruit Company was then granted more land and a 99-year lease on all its land which now comprised half of the land in Guatemala. The Company was also relieved of virtually any taxation, import duties, and export taxes and was allowed to greatly undervalue the worth of its land for taxation purposes. By 1936, the Company paid virtually no taxes.
Arbenz won the next election in 1951 with the support of everyone but the upper class receiving 60 percent of the vote. His intention was to expand the reforms and programs which were introduced by Arévalo. His objectives were to create an independent modern industrial economy in order to raise the living standards of Guatemalans and to reach out to the Mayan population in order to assess what they wanted.
While his programs were egalitarian, they were not communist in nature. He believed in capitalism with a heart.
The large landowners constituted 2.2% of the population but owned 70% of the land.
An example of the frustration of the Arbenz government over idle land was the fact that only 15% of the 550,000 acres of the United Fruit Company's land was under cultivation.
Washington's position toward Guatemala had begun to change after the revolution, particularly with every act of the Guatemalan Government that threatened U.S. corporate interests. It was a classical case of interpreting every attempt by the Guatemalan Government to improve conditions for its people as further proof that the government was infiltrated by communists whose ultimate aim was to take power and then infiltrate other countries in Latin America.
Labour codes were one of the first ostensible threats to American corporate interests. It raised suspicions in Washington about Guatemala succumbing to communist infiltrators. Beginning in 1946, a number of strikes were called against the United Fruit Company over wages, overtime, and vacations. One of the responses of the Company was to fire any workers who were actively involved. After the government threatened to confiscate some of the company's land, the company conceded but did not rehire the workers. Paying time and a half for overtime, granting workers ten days vacation every year, and paying $1.50 per day was not acceptable to the Company. Negotiations broke down and another strike occurred between 1948 and 1949. The United Fruit Company refused to negotiate in good faith and attacked the Labour Code as unfair despite the fact the Government was willing to send the dispute to arbitration. The United Fruit Company threatened to shut down its operations. In 1952, the Guatemalan labour court ordered the company to take back the workers who had been fired.
Washington's first reaction to events in Guatemala was that the government was discriminating against American companies and, therefore, threatening relations between the two countries. The CIA concluded that Guatemala was unfriendly to American corporations.
Even before the new labour codes, President Truman ordered the FBI to send agents to Guatemala to search for radical influences and assess the politics of both major and minor persons in the government. The FBI forwarded a number of reports to Washington in which the agents provided an analysis of the extent of communist infiltration. The objectivity of these reports was completely undermined by the fact that the sources of information were people who worked in the Ubico regime and who considered any activism to improve the lives of Guatemalans as subversive. Dictators in surrounding countries, such as Somoza in Nicaragua, who were clients of the United States and opposed to any progressive measures that might threaten their own positions continually condemned Guatemala as a communist threat. The American House Subcommittee on Communist Aggression was constantly identifying communists in the Guatemalan government. William Blum in Killing Hope reported that:
The party formed by the communists.., held four seats in Congress [in Guatemala], the smallest component of Arbenz's ruling coalition which commanded a total of 51 seats in the 1953-54 legislature. Communists held several important sub-cabinet posts but none was ever appointed to the cabinet.
Jim Huck, in 1954: Covert War in Guatemala, also points out the lack of communist influence in the legislature by explaining that:
In the 1953-1954 legislatures, Arbenz had a majority [government] and the communists only had 4 of 51 seats. But Secretary of State John Foster Dulles claimed that Guatemala was living under a "communism type of terrorism" and President Eisenhower portrayed the government in Guatemala as a "communist dictatorship."
William Blum noted that:
The Soviet Union could be excused if it was somewhat bewildered by all the rhetoric for the Russians had scant interest in Guatemala, did not provide the country with any kind of military assistance, did not even maintain diplomatic L relations with it, thus did not have the normally indispensable embassy from which to conduct such nefarious schemes.
In 1947, the unions in Guatemala celebrated May Day by marching ( through the capital. May Day or International Labour Day is celebrated in many countries around the world but the United States treated the celebration in Guatemala as a symptom of Communism because International Labour Day is also celebrated in the Soviet Union.
By the time that Arbenz implemented his new land reform program, Washington was completely convinced that the Soviet Union had successfully infiltrated the Arbenz administration and was preparing to take over the reigns of government as a stepping-stone to infiltrating other countries in the hemisphere.
As suspicions of Communism escalated, pressure in Washington intensified for some kind of response not only to the threat of Communism but also to the threat to American corporate interests. In 1950, Truman's administration decided that some action was needed but it was important that America's role be completely invisible. From the first action to the eventual overthrow of Arbenz, the American government was tenaciously committed to maintaining secrecy in order to prevent public knowledge of America's role.
Another dimension of Washington's plan was to launch a propaganda I campaign to create public awareness of events in Guatemala. Truman set up the Psychological Strategy Board. Truman's most effective propaganda weapon was the United Fruit Company's public relations counsel, Edward Bernays. He embarked on a campaign to clearly demonstrate the communist threat in Guatemala to the public. Bernays' greatest asset was the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. His Central American correspondent, Crede Calhoun, hired Will Lissner who wrote a number of stories with a powerful impact for the New York Times about the threat in Guatemala. Other major publications followed suit and published similar articles about Guatemala. In general, reporters were indoctrinated with cold war propaganda which shaped their perceptions of events and frequently determined how they framed their stories.
One of Bernays' coups was to invite a number of important publishers and editors on a fact-finding junket to Guatemala at the United Fruit Company's expense. Not only did the company's officials select the sights to be observed, but they were the major source of information for their guests ...
Under Eisenhower's administration, the State Department established the United States Information Agency. William Blum, in Killing Hope, observed that the operations of the United States Information Agency commenced when it:
... began to place unattributed articles in foreign newspapers labeling particular Guatemalan officials as communist and referring to various actions by the Guatemala Government as "communist-inspired." In the few weeks before Arbenz's fall alone, more than 200 articles about Guatemala were written and placed in scores of Latin American newspapers... articles placed in one country were picked up by newspapers in other countries, either as a result of CIA payment or unwittingly because the story was of interest.
The objective of the propaganda campaign was to persuade the American public that Communist infiltration in Guatemala posed a threat to American security. Fear of communism was an easier sell than the real motive which was the U.S. determination to protect American corporate interests in Guatemala. One of the explanations for this determination was the close ties between the government and the corporate sector.
By the time that President Eisenhower assumed office, the momentum for removing Arbenz from office was virtually unstoppable. According to Gabriel Kolko, in Confronting the Third World:
The principle of overthrowing the Arbenz government received the Eisenhower Administration's blessing immediately upon coming to office, and from this time onward it mounted a vast, sustained public-relations campaign to convince the U.S. public and the world that Guatemala had been taken over by communists. As before, United Fruit was involved in every phase of the administration's efforts...
Within months of assuming office, the Eisenhower administration began plotting the overthrow of the Arbenz government.
PBSUCCESS became the code name of the plot and its headquarters; was set up in Opa Locka, Florida, on the outskirts of Miami. The estimate of the costs of the operation was about $7 million and it utilized 100 CIA agents. About 30 planes were stationed in Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Canal Zone, which were to be flown by American pilots. To reinforce the charges of Soviet infiltration, Soviet-marked weapons were acquired to be o planted in Guatemala. Once Arbenz was overthrown, the planners would need someone from the Guatemalan opposition to become leader who was acceptable to the United States. The CIA finally decided on Carlos Enrique Castillo Armas, who received military training in the U.S. and was the son of a wealthy landowner in Guatemala.
As part of the propaganda campaign, the CIA had to promulgate the lie that the people of Guatemala revolted against the harsh dictator, Arbenz, and succeeded. Several quotes from President Eisenhower and others contributed to the propaganda about the dissatisfaction of the peasants with Arbenz, such as:
* "The major factor in the successful outcome was the disaffection of the Guatemalan armed forces and the population as a whole with the tyrannical regime of Arbenz." (Eisenhower, from Mandate for Change, The White House Years, 1953-1956)
* "...the people of Guatemala, in a magnificent effort, have liberated themselves from the shackles of international Communism." (Eisenhower from The CIA in Guatemala)
o "The Guatemalan regime enjoyed the full support of Soviet Russia... [the] situation is being cured by the Guatemalans themselves." (Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA, in Killing Hope)
o "In conclusion, Mr. Chairmen, let me state that the menace of communism in Guatemala was courageously fought by the Guatemalan people themselves... Communist power was broken by the Guatemalans alone... They fought the battle which is the common battle of all free nations against Communist oppression." (John E. Peurifoy, Ambassador to Guatemala, Testimony before the Congressional Subcommittee on Latin America).
Since the fall of Arbenz and the installation of an American handpicked leader, conditions in Guatemala have harshly degenerated in terms of basic freedoms, human rights, poverty, land ownership, health-care, and democracy. Armas was the first in a succession of dictators who, with American support, have inflicted a reign of terror and oppression on the Guatemalan people. The American-supported dictators converted the economy from one that served the interests of the people to one that served the interests of Americans and in particular American corporate interests.
These dictators depended on the United States for financial aid and for training of their army in counterinsurgency techniques. The U.S. set up a school called the School of the Americas, located in Fort Benning, Georgia, for the purpose of training soldiers and officers in Latin America in counter-insurgency and torture techniques. Guatemalan dictatorships were confronted with a number of insurgencies caused by a lack of freedoms and growing poverty. The United States' objective was to ensure that the Guatemalan army was prepared. In January 2001, the name of the school was changed to The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation because of reports from human right's groups condemning it as a school for training soldiers to violate human rights.
The economy was transformed into an export-oriented economy to serve the interests of the American multinationals located in Guatemala. Now there was an inverse relationship between the growing beef and agricultural exports and the prosperity of most Guatemalans. As exports grew, the population suffered. Land reform policies were reversed and the same concentration of land ownership, where two percent of the people owned twenty percent of the land, prevailed.
General Efráin Rios Montt took power by a coup in 1982 and promptly announced a state of siege. In the first six months of power he had not only murdered 1600 Mayans and peasants but he also brutally wiped 400 villages off the map. By 1993 conditions in Guatemala had degenerated to the point where:
* Guatemala had a higher level of malnutrition than Haiti; (UNICEF)
* One-quarter million children were orphaned;
* 87% of Guatemalans lived below the poverty line;
* 72% could not afford a minimal diet;
* 6 million had no access to health services;
* 3.6 million lacked clean drinking water;
* 2% controlled 70% of the land.
Richard H. Immerman, in The CIA in Guatemala, sums up the history since 1944 as follows:
Castillo Armas was but first in a line of Guatemalan presidents, all supported by the United States, who in the name of anti-Communism have ruled by terror and repression. Their effort to reverse the movement toward reform that began in 1944 has not produced the stability so eagerly sought in Washington. Rather, by pursuing programs inimical to the majority of Guatemalans... They must live with chronic unemployment, chronic malnutrition, high rate of illiteracy and infant mortality, and, for hundreds of thousands of peasants, little or no land.
William Blum, in Killing Hope
... the educated, urbane men of the State Department, the CIA, and the United Fruit Company, the pipe-smoking men of Princeton, Harvard, and Wall Street, decided that the illiterate peasants of Guatemala did not deserve the land which had been given to them, that the workers did not need their unions, that hunger and torture were a small price to pay for being rid of the scourge of Communism.
If the United States was so confident about their Communist-infiltration theory, then why was it necessary to manufacture outright lies about Arbenz imprisoning thousands of his opponents and the Guatemalan people leading the rebellion against Arbenz?
The United Fruit Company's publicity office distributed fake photographs of mass graves filled with victims of the atrocities committed by Arbenz. UFC's motive is easy to understand but why did Washington perpetrate lies to convince the world that there was a Communist threat to the entire hemisphere?
The CIA undertook a propaganda campaign directed at the people of Guatemala in an effort to turn them against Arbenz. According to Jim Huck, in 1954: Covert War in Guatemala:
.CIA planes dropped leaflets demanding Arbenz's resignation, while radio stations broadcast the same message. The CIA distributed over 100,000 pamphlets entitled "Chronology of Communism in Guatemala" and made three films critical of Arbenz. Over 27,000 anti-Arbenz posters and cartoons were distributed in Guatemala.
There is no doubt that Eisenhower lied. The evidence clearly reveals that there was no communist infiltration in Guatemala to establish a base from which to infiltrate other countries in the hemisphere. Arbenz was influenced by the ideals of the revolution of 1944 and set out to implement land, labour, educational, health, and political reforms to ameliorate conditions for the majority of Guatemalans. All the arguments invoked to reach the conclusion that Guatemala was infiltrated by communists are invalid and border on the absurd.
Eisenhower's lies were very costly. For the next 35 years, Guatemala was ruled by brutal dictators who were supported by the United States and who reversed all the progressive reforms of the revolution in addition to murdering approximately 200,000 people.
The example of American intervention in Guatemala is very instructive because of the pattern of American justification, motivation, scare tactics, and lies which repeats itself in many other cases of American intervention. The threat of Communism, protection of American corporate interests, and the threat to American security have characterized American foreign policy during the cold war.