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A Critical Review of Three Episodes From US History

Myth and History: how to study history and think critically

As noted, the 2003 Iraq invasion is not a new episode but rather a culmination of the American government’s historical routine that has been taking place for over 110 years. The three reading further expounds critically by exploring the settings and motives behind overthrowing regimes. The patterns revealed behind the overthrow of government regimes clearly indicate that the U.S. targeted small democratic governments and was driven by corporate interests, the quest for power, ‘liberation’, to squash supporters (corporate) from viewing American as a weak nation, ‘national security, and gain control. However, as noted, ‘his true aim was to defend the right of American Companies to operate as they wished in Nicaragua. In a larger sense, he was asserting the right of United States to impose its preferred form of stability in foreign countries’ (Kinzer 7).

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We learn that in search of this, the American government terrorized, betrayed, and threatened other governments in an attempt to overthrow them. We are able to know that the American government used the ‘regime change’ operations whereby the government officials turned into patriots, scoundrels, cynics, cruel people, and extremely courageous persons as ways of overthrowing governments. As noted in the readings, the overthrows cast upheavals in the entire world causing instability which was reflected in Americans. We can therefore say that the reading main focus is on the historical ‘regime change’ and its repercussion in the United States. The government did this in an attempt to discredit the Cuban government to the public. For instance, the US Government planned to spread thallium salts on Fidel Castro’s clothes with the help of one of Fidel’s men and make his beard fall. The United States government also employed the mafia whose anger was driven at the Cuban president for closing their casinos and brothels to kill the Cuban president. All the overthrow actions such as sabotaging petroleum refineries, floating cranes, and power plants among others clearly put America in a position where it failed in its moral obligation and started supporting terrorist acts in another country (Cuba) (Kinzer, 20-34).

Even though Puerto Rico was in Spanish possession, Puerto Rico enjoyed the autonomy given to them by the Spanish regime and was therefore not rebellious as the Cubans. They had a well-functioning government that carried out its function within the Puerto Rican Policy provided within the Spanish rule. However, their own leaders Robert Todd and Julio Henna who were Cuban Revolutionary Party leaders were lured by the United States to gang up with them. After the invasion and overthrowing the Puerto Rico self-government, it imposed its military rule. The United States further took Puerto Rico’s coffee firms and made them into sugar plantations and as a result, most Puerto Ricans got dispossessed and had to earn money from American sugar companies. The change regime techniques were also used against Nicaragua. The United States made sure that it politically aided the conservative rebels to fight against their president, Zelaya. The United States wanted to prevent the president from regulating their access to their natural resources and therefore claimed that Nicaragua’s president had a destabilizing influence in the country.

Reconstruction: freedom and terrorism, 1865-1890

In Hawaii, only a few European families and Americans controlled the economy and the government in the 1980s. Queen Liliuokalani who ruled under monarchical rule tried balancing the powers by inducting a new constitution that barred non-Hawaiians to vote irrespective of the property one had. Thurston, an American cabinet minister steered the overthrow of the Hawaiian government. ‘Never before had an American diplomat helped organize the overthrow of a government to which it was officially accredited’ (Kinzer 10). Just like Hawaii, most of the countries that were taken over became America’s protectorates whereby Americans acquired land from them and conducted commercial activities. Individualism and imperialism arose. Most of the protectorates were unwilling to provide labor such as in the case of Hawaii and this made the American farmers import Chinese and Japanese laborers. The negative change of people’s lifestyles in the American protectorates led to upheavals in American colonies.

Most colonies we put under subjectivism, whereby persons were exported to America as slaves. However, the industrialization era emerged and electricity replaced human labor. This changed farming and most slaves who worked in factories became poor while others got killed while constructing railroads. The puny hours made them strike and as noted, ‘people rebelled against these conditions. Workers went on strike… radicalism grew. Anarchism and socialism took root’ (Zinn and Arnove 134). This threatened national security as people of color and other minorities began protesting. ‘For the past twelve years, we have been… disfranchised and robbed of our political rights. While denied the chance to vote for a candidate of our choice due to violent acts committed to compelling us (Zinn and Arnove 189). Besides Hawaii, the USA government also made sure that it overthrew any government that stood in its way using the ‘regime change’ tactics. In Cuba, the US government led by President J.F. Kennedy authorized covert operations against the Cuban government.

The United States government used sabotage, propaganda, and psychological welfare such as publishing information that was against the then Cuban President Fidel Castro in an attempt to overthrow Cuba’s communist government. The government did this in an attempt to discredit the Cuban government to the public. For instance, the US Government planned to spread thallium salts on Fidel Castro’s clothes with the help of one of Fidel’s men and make his beard fall. The United States government also employed the mafia whose anger was driven at the Cuban president for closing their casinos and brothels to kill the Cuban president. All the overthrow actions such as sabotaging petroleum refineries, floating cranes, and power plants among others clearly put America in a position where it failed in its moral obligation and started supporting terrorist acts in another country (Cuba) (Kinzer, 20-34). Even though Puerto Rico was in Spanish possession, Puerto Rico enjoyed the autonomy given to them by the Spanish regime and was therefore not rebellious as the Cubans. They had a well-functioning government that carried out its function within the Puerto Rican Policy provided within the Spanish rule. However, their own leaders Robert Todd and Julio Henna who were Cuban Revolutionary Party leaders were lured by the United States to gang up with them. After the invasion and overthrowing the Puerto Rico self-government, it imposed its military rule. The United States further took Puerto Rico’s coffee firms and made them into sugar plantations and as a result, most Puerto Ricans got dispossessed and had to earn money from American sugar companies. The change regime techniques were also used against Nicaragua. The United States made sure that it politically aided the conservative rebels to fight against their president, Zelaya.

The United States wanted to prevent the president from regulating their access to their natural resources and therefore claimed that Nicaragua’s president had a destabilizing influence in the country. The United States overthrew the government in 1912 and in place, the Nicaragua conservative party was allowed to rule. This allowed the U.S government to control the Nicaragua canal and other natural resources. However, Conflict between the conservatives and the liberals escalated. General Sandino led a guerilla war against the U.S marine and the conservatives. The United States trained a combined police force and military force to cater to U.S interests and Somoza Garcia who was an ally towards the U.S government was put in charge. Somoza managed to maneuver his way through and later turned out to be a dictator as he refused to step down after his term was over (Kinzer, 45-67). After most governments were overthrown, it was clear that most people became U.S subjects and were subjected to slavery. This resulted in the American Civil War as southern slave states formed the confederacy and fought against Union or the United States. The Southerners who were for the slave trade fear was that they may lose the government to the Northerners ant-slaver forces.

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There arose hostility that turned into an industrial war between the southerners and the northerners. Steamships, mass weapons, and telegraphs were used. The reconstruction era began in an attempt to solve the issue between the northerners and the southerners and the slave trade was therefore abolished. As a result, the slaves started demanding their rights. ‘Several strikes were broke by violence and the use of imported strikebreakers…. Ten thousand workers… walked off the sugar plantations when the planters refused to meet their demands for wages’ (Zinn & Arnove, 217). This enraged the whites (Americans) and there arose racial discrimination. “To arms, to arms! The Negros are killing the Whites!… came forth and fired volley after volley, into the houses, the churches and wherever a Negro could be found” (Zinn & Arnove, 223). This resulted in farming mechanization and farmers began borrowing money for equipment making a lot of people joblessness and terrorism arose in the United States as people began attacking each other in an attempt to fight for their rights.

Colonization of the West: freedom, Genocide, and imperialism

Most of the experienced we undergo are always determined by our histories. However, Americans seem not to have realized over the past 110 years that the ‘change regime’ has been in effect.

From the readings, it is clear that change regime approaches such as torture, propaganda, and bold lies carried out in an attempt to invade other countries have been the cause of fanned nationalism flames, extreme radical groups, and the root of terrorism or anti-Americanism that has caused destabilization of nations and resulted in the unintended consequences. The overthrow of the governments resulted in the occupation of governments that were operating on their own. Besides the occupation of the countries overthrown, the American government further took over its commercial activities and most people were subjected to slavery. The western people were exported to America to work as slaves in the American firms. However, as we have seen, the civil war brought a new era to slaves as the United States of America was torn between the northern and southern parts on the issue of the legalization of the slave trade. This led to the abolishment of the slave trade and once abolished, most people became free.

Radical groups fanned nationalism flames, and anti-Americanism spout up as slaves began fighting for their rights by organizing a strike in an attempt to increase their wages. Whites on the other hand escalated fanned nationalism as they became enraged towards the colored people and were ready to do anything in order to make sure that they would not become part of American citizens. This resulted in discrimination against the blacks and terrorism incidences started taking place as blacks attacked the whites for political goals and vice versa. From the three readings, we can therefore clearly come to the conclusion that the root of all major problems being faced by America such as terrorism attacks, discrimination, and nationalism flame is a result of the overthrow of governments. As it is written ‘No nation in modern history has done this so often, in so many places so far from its own shores” (Kinzer, 156). The American government has victimized itself and we should therefore not ignore the importance of these three readings that are of much significance in America History.

Works Cited

Kinzer, Stephen. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.. New York: Times Books. 2007.

Zinn, Howard and Anthony Arnove. A. Voices of a people’s history of the United States, 2nd ED. New York: Seven Stories Press 2008.

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