How Many Governments Has the US Overthrown?

John Glaser, August 21, 2013

Foreign Policy has posted a nifty map of the world noting “the 7 governments the U.S. has overthrown.” It’s cool and all, but this number 7 is a significant undercount.

J. Dana Stuster, who posted this map, does specify that these are covert CIA-supported coups only and mentions it doesn’t include “a number of U.S. military interventions against hostile regimes and U.S.-supported insurgencies and failed assassination attempts, including a plan to kill Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar.”

But if you go by Stephen Kinzer’s book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, this map leaves out quite a bit of history. In addition to Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, Brazil, and Chile, the U.S. also had a hand overthrowing the governments of Hawaii in 1893, Cuba in 1898, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, and of course Iraq.

That’s quite a record. And no, these acts of aggression against foreign governments were not aimed at eliminating an existential threat to Americans, nor were they intended to spread democracy. For the most part, as Kinzer points out, these cases were ones in which the U.S. was attacking a much weaker nation, and it was “usually because it [sought] to impose its ideology, increase its power, or gain control of valuable resources.” In other words: Empire.

Keep in mind that this list includes regime change specifically. The record of U.S. interventionism in general is much uglier. For a detailed yet partial history, I highly recommend William Blum’s Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II - although you’ll miss out on many hideous pre-war misadventures.




13 Responses to “How Many Governments Has the US Overthrown?”

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  2. Glad you mentioned Blum. I'll just say right here, Blum says that since WW2, the US has overthrown or attempted to overthrow almost 60 government, and the majority of them have been democracies.

  3. Looks like Blum's book left out Singapore. The US tried very hard to prevent the election of Lee Kwan Yew because of Lee's anti-colonial rhetoric and the US in all its wisdom concluded that Lee must be a crypto-communist. But Lee succeeded in getting elected and became Singapore's first prime minister and the US including Britain and Australia ostracized Singapore in the few decades of Singapore existence as an independent country.
    http://www.gregoryclark.net/jt/index.html

  4. What about Libya?

  5. Correction. It should be "…in the first few decades of Singapore existence as an independent country."

    Today the US of course view Singapore as a friendly country if not an ally and Lee an elder statesman.

  6. Missing Serbia.

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  8. What about the Confederate States of America???????

  9. Waht about the Conferate States of America????

  10. I was also searching related stuff from long time.You have solved my problem.Thanks for sharing this great stuff with us.

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States

  12. "What about the Confederate States of America?"

    Seriously? That was the US preventing the split of the country. Even if for some reason someone were to believe that the Confederate actions – not to mention slavery – were just, the US did not initiate the war.

  13. rich(GREEDY)white people is the cause; 2me. Have a nice day.