Monday, June 14, 2010

US Foreign Policy part 8: CIA

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The Central Intelligence Agency, also known simply as the CIA, is tasked with providing national security information to US policymakers (Congress, Senate, President), including information on corporations, individuals and foreign governments. Gathering information doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Well, if that's where it stopped then *perhaps* it wouldn't be, though the level of information gained on citizens would need a great deal of discussion. However, the CIA has a history of more than "information gathering", it practices a great deal of tinkering in the internal affairs of other governments. There's a vast well of information on the ways in which the CIA manipulates around the globe, so I'll stick to a few highlights to show you how they place America on the wrong side of danger by involving us with clandestine intelligence operations.

In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup (Britain's SIS was also involved, but we're talking about US Foreign Policy) to topple the democratically elected government of Iran, setting up a dictatorship for the next 25 years. This dictatorship was held in place with the Iranian secret police (SAVAK) trained and supplied by the CIA. (Simply google SAVAK CIA for a plethora of accounts.)

Perhaps you've heard of the "Bay of Pigs Invasion"? This was an attempt in 1961 to overthrow Fidel Castro by a group of Cuban exiles, trained and supplied by the CIA, as directed by President Eisenhower. ("Bay of Pigs" is actually a small body of water on the southern coast of Cuba, FYI.) Not to mention the numerous assassination attempts on Castro himself.

In 1954 the CIA implemented a coup in Guatemala to overthrow their democratically elected President.

In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Nicaragua that the US was guilty of violating international law by supporting Contra guerrillas in their rebellion against Nicaragua's government.

This is the short version of what I'm sure could be a very long list of the CIA intervening in the affairs of other nations. Directly affecting the stability of foreign nations.

I'm not making the point that Castro is a good guy, or that Iran's government would've been the peak of civilization. I'm saying that when you decide to covertly interfere with the fabric of another government that it creates animosity towards us. None of this even includes domestic spying programs (that's programs to spy on you and I, US citizens), CIA torture policies, or the other countless things the CIA has probably done without our knowledge or permission.

These are acts of war, but all we see is the blowback. Imagine if a foreign nation attempted to covertly overthrow our government? We need to start thinking about reciprocation, how do we want to be treated? Then we must stop perpetuating underhanded hostile acts towards other nations, because it isn't safe.
part 1: Blowback
part 2: Sanctions
part 3: Just-War
part 4: Preventive War
part 5: Declaration of War
part 6: Torture
part 7: Finances
part 8: CIA
part 9: War on Terror
part 10: War on Terror part 2, Suicide Terrorists
part 11: Conclusion


Regina Anaejionu said...

Man this is tough content. The reality is that no government or organization is perfect but that to some extent they should operate by the golden rule when dealing with each other. The problem with that lies in the differing moral codes. If your neighbor (or someone across the world) was being mercilessly beaten, or stolen from, or persecuted, etc. and you had the means to help, would you? Each person, each country, each government feels differently about what classifies as unjust treatment, and each person and each government feels differently about intervention. I guess in some cases America has taken it too far and in other cases not far enough. I'm not in support of every decision, nor do I support some of the things happening in the world. It's further difficult to make a judgment call when we have limited information. Our government (and all the research one could do on the Internet) can't possibly tell us all the factors that go into making such important decisions. Honestly, it is tough all around and I wish we had more God-fearing people as decision-makers across the globe.

Wes Hemings said...

I know the idea of "doing what's right when you have the power" seems philosophically sound, and as you pointed out it's nearly impossible to tell what goes into every decision, but that further tells me that we need transparency from our government. It should be us, the citizens, who have a right to not have our privacy infringed upon by the government, but instead the government has turned the tables and says that if we have nothing to hide then why not open up to inspection? Because the 4th Amendment says I don't have to submit myself to unlawful searches and seizures, that's why.

As far as "helping" other nations, I'll refer back to my post about "Moral Wars", or the idea of helping other countries struggling in a dictatorship, or oppression, or whatever. As Americans, we can't even decide what's best *for each other*, how the deuce could we determine that for another country? It's an easy call to declare genocide as wrong. However, I think it's wrong to put American lives in danger for something that doesn't pertain to American safety, as an official government action. If a coalition of citizens desired to mount an effort to put their own lives on the line outside of official US government involvement then that's an argument I could listen to, but the military should be used in our defense, not as international policeman. It's a dark tangled web of danger you enter into, because once you decide to help out someone then you're actually picking a side, and who you like today may not be who you like tomorrow, and that's exactly how Saddam came to power, WE did it, WE helped him, and then we didn't like what the result was and "had" to remove him from power. It's never ending, and best to stay on the sidelines and choose to instead show the world what a great country looks like by remaining neutral and trading in commerce, then if that's something foreign citizens desire then they'll cause their own revolution, just like we did a couple hundred years ago.

Even if we disagree I appreciate you putting your opinion out there Reg!

(my post on "Just War"

Wes Hemings said...

Interesting post from NYTimes:

It's regarding Somali children used in a war effort that we partially fund. I'll just copy/paste from another website that I think sums it up quite well (the rest is all from

(NYT) "It is well known that Somalia's radical Islamist insurgents are plucking children off soccer fields and turning them into fighters. But Awil is not a rebel. He is working for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, a critical piece of the American counterterrorism strategy in the Horn of Africa."

"According to Somali human rights groups and United Nations officials, the Somali government, which relies on assistance from the West to survive, is fielding hundreds of children or more on the front lines, some as young as 9."

"Child soldiers are deployed across the globe, but according to the United Nations, the Somali government is among the "most persistent violators" of sending children into war, finding itself on a list with notorious rebel groups like the Lord's Resistance Army." (/NYT)

No one is saying that the U.S. knowingly aids the Somali government in recruiting child soldiers, but we do know that it is going on. The point here is that these are just some of the problems the U.S. must contend with when it injects itself into the dealings of other nations. The U.S. government is giving aid to the Somali government particularly for this conflict, so by extension America gets the blame for any wrongs inflicted, and by further extension American citizens pay for those wrongs in more ways than one.

(NYT): "Somali government officials concede that they have not done the proper vetting. Officials also revealed that the United States government was helping pay their soldiers, an arrangement American officials confirmed, raising the possibility that the wages for some of these child combatants may have come from American taxpayers." (/NYT)

So we, American citizens, are deemed as guilty as the "Great Satan" for what our leaders decide to do, and who they do business with in our name, and when people decide they hate us enough to die for it--we are left clueless because no one really knows just what is going on with our name on it.

To be sure, that in the name of chasing terrorists, Somalia is one of the next hot battle grounds in this unending war on islamofascism, or overseas contingency, or whatever they are calling it today. And these child soldiers will grow up, and be angry that their childhoods were stolen, and they will be looking for someone to blame.

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