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Monday, February 5, 2018

Deadly US interventionism began In 1950s with CIA trying to overthrow countries where it perceived a Moscow Stooge-then termed a 'Communist'-was on the premises or might be in the future. CIA 1954 coup against Guatemala killed Guatemala's young democracy and launched 40 years of war. Though barely 'successful,' Guatemala was model for CIA 'covert' operations globally including massive failures in Iran, Congo, Indonesia, Vietnam, and 1961 Cuban Bay of Pigs-Consortium News, Washington Post, NY Times...(All made possible by US taxpayers)

"In the end, the Guatemalan army deposed Arbenz because they feared that the United States was prepared to invade the country."

1997, "Guatemala--1954: Behind the CIA's Coup," Consortium News, by Kate Doyle

"Most historians now agree that the CIA-sponsored military coup in 1954 was the poison arrow that pierced the heart of Guatemala's young democracy. Code-named "PBSUCCESS," the covert operation overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the second legally elected president in Guatemalan history.

Over the next four decades, a succession of military rulers would wage counter-insurgency warfare that also would shred the fabric of Guatemalan society. The violence caused the deaths and disappearances of more than 140,000 Guatemalans. Some human rights activists put the death toll as high as 250,000.

In recent weeks, after five years of promises to come clean on the Guatemalan operation, the CIA has released 1,400 pages from its secret files on the coup. Those pages represent only about one percent of the CIA's records on the topic.

Still, the pages shed important light on the CIA's first covert operation in Latin America. Citizens can now examine the anatomy of a CIA covert operation, in all its gory details: assassination plots, paramilitary and economic warfare, provocation techniques, psychological operations, rumor campaigns and sabotage. Plus, because of its success in toppling Arbenz, PBSUCCESS became a model for subsequent CIA activities in the hemisphere, many of which also have included massive loss of life.

PBSUCCESS got its start when the U.S. government concluded that Arbenz was a danger of international dimensions. Although inside Guatemala, Arbenz was seen as a reformer bent only on changing the country's rigid oligarchy, Washington was nervous because he permitted the Guatemalan Communist Party to operate openly. Also, his land reform program threatened U.S. commercial interests, in particular those of the powerful United Fruit Company.

U.S. concerns coalesced in covert plans to destroy the Arbenz administration. By 1952, two years after Arbenz's election, the CIA had begun recruiting an opposition force to overthrow him. The CIA first looked to the Guatemalan military for a solution. A "General Plan of Action," written in 1953, stated that the CIA regarded the military as "the only organized element in Guatemala capable of rapidly and decisively altering the political situation." The CIA chose as its lead man for the coup a disgruntled officer named Carlos Castillo Armas.

The CIA was open to any means necessary to get rid of Arbenz. According to one secret report, a senior CIA official declared bluntly, "Arbenz must go; how does not matter."

Proposals to assassinate leading members of the Arbenz government and his military supporters permeated the CIA's planning. In an unsigned "Study of Assassination" -- perhaps the collection's most chilling document -- the CIA laid out in detail its options for murder.

The study offered tips about the most effective assassination techniques in sections marked "manual," "accidents," "drugs," "edge weapons," "blunt weapons" and "firearms." In the paper, assassins are advised which poisons to use, how to pick a site for "accidental" falls ("Elevator shafts, stair wells, unscreened windows and bridges will serve"), and the correct way to club a man to death.

The CIA went further, compiling hit lists in preparation for the coup and its aftermath. Even before receiving official approval for the paramilitary operation to begin, the CIA's Directorate of Operations was building an "elimination list," using data that Guatemalan military officers had gathered in 1949 on "top flight communists."

During planning for an abortive coup attempt in 1952, the CIA discussed training "special squads" to carry out executions. After that plan was dropped, "the Agency continued to try and influence developments and float ideas for disposing of key figures in the [deleted] government."

Deleted Names 

In recent press releases, the CIA has argued that the assassination proposals were "neither approved nor implemented" and were only "contingency planning." But one of the documents read, "no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded." Also, the five folders containing "CIA and Guatemala Assassination Proposals" have been purged of all names, making it impossible to check on the fate of proposed victims.

In addition, some of the assassination material was clearly meant for training Guatemalans. According to a 1995 analysis released with the collection, the "Study of Assassination" was requested by one of the CIA officials running the operation "to be utilized to brief the training chief for PBSUCCESS before he left to begin training Castillo Armas' forces in Honduras on 10 January 1954." The footnotes show that the murder manual was sent by pouch on Jan. 8, although the CIA deleted the manual's destination, messenger and recipient.

The released documents, however, do make clear that the CIA employed a full array of covert tactics to confuse and intimidate Arbenz and his government. According to the newly released documents, those tactics included:

--Provocation. A top secret memo dated June 1, 1954, lists proposals for stirring foreign and domestic outrage at the Arbenz government with such tactics as "simulated Guatemalan aggression against Honduras," faked kidnappings of prominent Guatemalan citizens and the desecration of Guatemalan churches with pro-communist slogans.

 --Nerve War. To frighten government officials and police, the CIA and its agents sent them death notices, made anonymous phone calls ("preferably between 2 and 5 a.m."), spread rumors about their personal and professional lives, and mailed threatening symbols to their homes, such as a coffin or a hangman's noose.

--Propaganda. The CIA [ie, US taxpayers] employed a network of anti-communist Guatemalan students to create the impression of a powerful opposition to Arbenz. Students leafleted public gatherings, covered walls with anti-government graffiti and distributed phony news articles written by CIA operatives. The tactics prompted Arbenz's government to crack down on these opponents. Dozens of young activists used by the CIA were arrested and tortured. 

Still, despite the millions of [US taxpayer] dollars poured into PBSUCCESS, it barely succeeded. The CIA's official history describes disastrous military planning and faulty security. In the end, the Guatemalan army deposed Arbenz because they feared that the United States was prepared to invade the country.

On June 27, 1954, having lost the army's support, Arbenz stepped down. In Washington, there was jubilation. The CIA pitched PBSUCCESS to the White House as a nearly bloodless victory, an unqualified success.

Lies at the Top 

The CIA's history reveals that when President Eisenhower summoned CIA director Allen W. Dulles and his top covert planners to give a formal briefing, the CIA team lied to the president. A CIA briefer told Eisenhower that only one of the CIA-backed rebels had died. "Incredible," responded the president. And it was. In fact, at least four dozen were dead, the CIA records show.

But the myths about PBSUCCESS took hold. It entered CIA lore as an "unblemished triumph" and gave boasting rights to the CIA for running clandestine operations that were safe, clean and efficient. The Guatemalan coup became the model for future CIA actions in Latin America, including the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

In Guatemala, the coup had other deadly consequences. According to the CIA's historical account, the meticulous CIA coup-plotters had "no plans for what would happen next." [They never do. US bombing of Libya in 2011 created flood of migrants to Europe, thus destabilizing two continents. All paid for by US tax dollars]. They considered democracy an "unrealistic" alternative for Guatemala and foresaw the best alternative as a moderate authoritarian regime that would be staunchly pro-American.

But Guatemala's center quickly "vanished from politics into a terrorized silence." The violence also caught up many of the coup-makers. Just three years after his grab for power, Castillo Armas died at the hands of his own presidential guard. His successor, Gen. Manuel Ydigoras Fuentes, was ousted by Defense Minister Enrique Peralta Asurdia.

When a small insurgency developed, Guatemala's military used U.S. military training, weapons and money to unleash a savage wave of repression that left thousands of peasants dead. The killing continued for four decades.

Now [1997], 43 years after PBSUCCESS swept aside Guatemala's young democracy, the country is finally at peace. As part of the peace accord signed last December, a United Nations "Clarification Commission" is preparing a study of the human rights abuses.

Headed by a German human rights expert named Christian Tomuschat, the commission will have only six months to do its work. Tomuschat has made clear that the commission plans to request documents from foreign governments, including the United States." ~  

(c) Copyright 1997


Added: Catastrophic Dulles brothers' failures include Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Congo, and the 1961 Bay of Pigs. Hunting down imagined Moscow Stooges--then known as "Communists"--Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles together with Ike and unlimited US taxpayer dollars popularized US interventionism which has yet to achieve a positive result except for feeding a parasitic Endless War Industry, or a "Security Industry" to which US taxpayer cash is laundered. (No war, no free money).

11/4/2013, "Book review: ‘The Brothers,’ on John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, by Stephen Kinzer," Washington Post, Gordon Goldstein

"Stephen Kinzer’s “The Brothers” tells the story of two siblings who achieved remarkable influence, serving as secretary of state and director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Eisenhower administration. It is a bracing and disturbing study of the exercise of American global power....

With the election of Republican Dwight Eisenhower as president in 1952, [John] Foster [Dulles] finally secured the job he coveted: America’s premier diplomat. [His brother] Allen, who had joined the recently created CIA in 1951, was selected by Eisenhower to be its director.... 

As commander in chief, Eisenhower “combined the mind-set of a warrior with a sober understanding of the devastation that full-scale warfare brings,” Kinzer writes. That led him to covert action. With the Dulles brothers as his right and left arms, he led the United States into a secret global conflict that raged throughout his presidency.” 

According to Kinzer’s reconstruction of the Eisenhower era, the president [Ike] was an enabler of the Dulles brothers’ obsession with six different nationalist and communist movements around the world that would provide successive case studies in the potential of covert action and its pronounced limitations.

The first test came in Iran, where nationalist Mohammad Mossadegh became prime minister in 1951 and swiftly moved to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, seizing control of the country’s petroleum wealth from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a primarily British enterprise. Operation Ajax, designed to oust Mossadegh, initially floundered. But the CIA paid street mobs to terrorize Tehran and recruited dissident military units that converged on Mossadegh’s home on Aug. 19, 1953. 

After a battle that killed hundreds, the Mossadegh government was overthrown. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was installed, “ruled with increasing repression for a quarter century, and then was overthrown in a revolution that brought fanatically anti-Western clerics to power.” 

The CIA next, in 1954, deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, a former defense minister and leftist political reformer who expropriated nearly 400,000 acres of land owned by the powerful United Fruit Company."... 

[Ed. note: "Washington feared Arbenz because he tried to institute agrarian reforms that would hand over fallow land to dispossessed peasants, thereby creating a middle class in a country where 2 percent of the population owned 72 percent of the land. Unfortunately for him, most of that territory belonged to the largest landowner and most powerful body in the state: the American-owned United Fruit Company. Though Arbenz was willing to compensate United Fruit for its losses, it [United Fruit] tried to persuade Washington that Arbenz was a crypto-communist who must be ousted.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen, the C.I.A.’s director, were a receptive audience. In the cold war fervor of the times, Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers believed a strike against Arbenz would roll back communism. And the Dulleses had their own personal sympathies for United Fruit: they had done legal work for the company, and counted executives there among their close friends.

It is true that Arbenz’s supporters in the Guatemalan Legislature did include the Communist Party, but it was the smallest part of his coalition. Arbenz had also appointed a few communists to lower-level jobs in his administration. But there was no evidence that Arbenz himself was anything more than a European-style democratic socialist. And Arbenz’s land reform program was less generous to peasants than a similar venture pushed by the Reagan administration in El Salvador several decades later." 6/3/2011, "Ghosts of Guatemala’s Past," NY Times op-ed, Stephen Schlesinger] 

(continuing): "Arbenz [in Guatemala] represented a potent threat comparable to Mossadegh and his seizure of Iran’s oil assets. “Their crackdown on corporate power led Foster and Allen to presume that they were serving Soviet ends,” Kinzer writes. “Two reasons for striking them — defending corporate power and resisting Communism blended into one.” 

These early victories in covert action were followed by a series of failed or unnecessary interventions that the author attributes to the brothers’ hubris and incompetence. In Vietnam, the communist and nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh proved to be as resilient and relentless an adversary as the United States ever confronted. In Indonesia, the American effort to unseat neutralist President Sukarno constituted one of the largest covert operations of the 1950s but also ended in failure.

In the African nation of Congo, a charismatic former postal clerk named Patrice Lumumba became leader after the end of Belgian colonial rule. The CIA perceived him as sympathetic to Moscow ["a Moscow stooge" in 2018 parlance] and in 1960 helped the Congolese military depose him. Lumumba was then abducted, beaten and murdered by his political rivals and Belgian police. Only 200 days separated his inauguration and his death.

The Bay of Pigs operation remains among the greatest debacles in CIA history, an epic mess for which Allen Dulles was eventually fired. By the time 1,400 American-sponsored Cuban exiles blundered ashore in April 1961 in an effort to spark a spontaneous revolution, their mission had already been exposed. Months before, a New York Times headline had blared: “U.S. Helps Train an Anti-Castro Force at Secret Guatemalan Air-Ground Base.”

Allen had a pattern of delegating operational responsibilities to a dangerous degree, in this instance entrusting the fate of the invasion to his deputy, Richard Bissell. Both men were mired in abject denial about the operation’s prospects. A Marine Corps amphibious-war expert advised them that the United States would “be courting disaster” if it did not neutralize Cuban air and naval assets by providing “adequate tactical air support.” Yet Allen and Bissell knew that a newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy had ruled out any intervention by U.S. forces, the precise condition upon which the invasion’s success depended.

Allen Dulles’s “mind was undisciplined,” Kinzer concludes. “A senior British agent who worked with him for years recalled being ‘seldom able to penetrate beyond his laugh, or to conduct any serious professional conversation with him for more than a few sentences.’ ” Kinzer is similarly blunt in his assessment of Foster’s intellect, quoting Winston Churchill’s disparaging verdict that the secretary of state was “dull, unimaginative, uncomprehending.” 

The author asserts that the Dulles brothers suffered from a form of sibling groupthink. “Their worldviews and operational codes were identical,” Kinzer writes. “Deeply intimate since childhood, they turned the State Department and the CIA into a reverberating echo chamber for their shared certainties.”" 


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