Coups R Us – American Regime Changes and Their Aftermath from Hawaii to Libya
Narrated by former New York Times foreign correspondent Steven Ginzer, this documentary covers three major US-orchestrated coups: the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala, overthrowing democratically elected Guatamalan president Jacobo Arbenz; the 2011 US/NATO military intervention to overthrow Libyan president Muamar Gaddafi; and the 1893 US invasion of the independent nation of Hawaii.
1954 CIA coup in Guatemala – relying on troops from neighboring Honduras, the CIA overthrow the Arbenz government at the behest of United Fruit Company. They objected to land reform initiative which sought to purchase vacant United Fruit Company land to transfer to landless peasants. The aftermath of the coup was 30 years of brutal dictatorship and the deaths of tens of thousands of indigenous peasants.
2011 Libyan regime change – after touching briefly on Libya’s ongoing civil war and its current failed state status, this segment follows the lives of two volunteers who devote hundreds of hours a year defusing landmines and unexploded shells left behind by ISIS militants.
1893 invasion of Hawaii – few Americans aware of the illegal US invasion and occupation of Hawaii, a highly advanced constitutional monarchy that installed electric lights and telephones before the US did. This segment also explores the growing indigenous movement seeking to end the US occupation of Hawaii.
Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi, Torture, Rendition and the West
Al Jazeera (2018)
This documentary is about a secret agreement between US, UK and German intelligence to kidnap anti-Gaddafi dissidents around the world and fly them to Libya – to be imprisoned, tortured and/or killed by Gaddafi’s security officials.
Following the 2011 Libyan revolution, rebels captured a trove of security documents verifying these secret agreements. One document reveals the CIA, as well as UK and German intelligence, met with Libyan intelligence officials one week after 9-11 (while Libya was still under UN sanctions) to agree the details of the program. Documents also reveal that western intelligence officers were fully aware that Gaddafi tortured and murdered dissidents he detained in his prisons.
Western intelligence referred to the secret kidnappings – of victims that included pregnant women and children as young as six – as extraordinary rendition.
Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Gaddafi claimed to have a nuclear weapons program and offered to give it up to have Libyan sanctions lifted. There followed an eight year period of improved relations involving billions in oil deals for British Petroleum, as well as Gaddafi’s alleged funding of French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign .
The film focuses on two anti-Gaddafi dissidents kidnapped and “rendered” to Libya by UK intelligence. Both filed suit against the British government in 2012. One withdrew from the lawsuit in 2015 after receiving a 2.2 million pound settlement. The other received a full apology from Prime Minister Theresa May in May 2018.
*Sarkozy has been indicted for violating French campaign financing laws but has yet to go to trial.
The Lust for Libya: How a Nation Was Torn Apart Part 2
Al Jazeera (2018)
Part 2 of Lust for Libya links the 2011 “uprisings” in Libya to the Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.
It makes no mention of the CIA role in fomenting and arming the rebellion in Libya, along with the more peaceful 2001 Arab Spring “color revolutions.” See The Arab Spring: Made in the USA
I was surprised to learn the 2011 NATO bombing campaign was spearheaded by French president Nicolas Sarkozy (whose 2007 election campaign was financed by Gaddafi) and former UK prime minister David Cameron. It was they who approached the Obama administration as a third partner.
In total NATO bombers embarked on 20,000 sorties and 67,000 total bombings to virtually destroy Libya’s civilian infrastructure. With US intelligence support, rebel fighters captured, tortured and executed Gaddafi as he was fleeing Tripoli. With his demise, Libya became a failed state as it descended into a civil war between rival armed militias.
Libya’s National Oil Company and its central bank continued to operate, and for some bizarre reason the new de facto government (National Transition Council) granted a salary to all past and present militia fighters – a move that clearly fuels the ongoing war.
Libya has held a number of parliamentary elections since 2011, but none has been able to control the militias or effectively rebuild state institutions.
In 2015, the UN created the government of National Accord, which meets in Tripoli, although any government institutions that continue to operate are run by militias. A CIA-linked exile General Khalifa Hafter has created a rival government run by the Libyan National Army and which has seized the oil ports and all oil production.
France, the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all supplying Hafter with weapons, in open violation of a UN arms embargo. Italy backs the Government of National Accord because they control natural gas resources Italy depends on – and, to some extent, the flow of African refugees departing from Libya for Italy.
This is a two part documentary about the 2011 US/UN invasion of Libya, which triggered its descent into civil war.
Part 1 is about pre-independence Libya and Muamar Gaddafi’s rise to power during the 1969 revolution. Prior to Gaddafi’s 2011 overthrow, Libya had no history as an independent state. It was continuously occupied from ancient times, by Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Italians and eventually a French/British and a British/US consortium.
Inspired by the pan-Arab movement started by Egyptian president Gamal Nasser, in 1969 Gaddafi led a successful revolution to oust the pro-US government. He went on to close the US/UK military bases and nationalize their oil companies and the Italian banks that controlled Libya’s economy.
With the 1973 oil embargo, the value of Libya’s oil doubled overnight. Gaddafi used the country’s new found wealth to rapidly build up Libya’s decaying infrastructure, as well as to provide free health care, housing and education (through university) for all residents.
Following Nasser’s death in 1970, Gaddafi sought to enshrine himself as the “man of the masses” who would unite the Arab world. In this role, he supported numerous international liberation struggle, including the Irish Republican Army, the African National Congress and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He also developed a bizarre and grandiose habit of claiming responsibility for terrorist bombings (including CIA/NATO Operation Gladio false flag bombings*).
In 1973 he revoked the Libyan constitution and ruled independent decree. Although he established thousands of Jamahiriya (people’s committees), they had no real power independent of the Libyan military. The analysts interviewed here view Gaddafi as a benevolent dictator who was genuinely concerned about the Libyan people but lacked any education or training in setting up democratic institutions of power.
Worried a prolonged Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) would hinder US access to Middle East Oil, the US would launch its first covert regime change operations against Gaddaffi in 1981. These included a 1981 assassination attempt (by bombing his palace) in 1981, as well as an effort to frame Libya for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am passenger jet over Lockerbie Scotland.
The incident would lead to UN sanctions against Libya from 1992 until 2003, when Gaddafi signed an agreement he would end his nuclear program, assume financial responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and assist the CIA in fighting global terrorism.
*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary. See 1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism
The Shadow War in the Sahara is a thumbnail history of the US military occupation of Africa. The documentary begins with the 1885 Berlin Conference, at which the major European powers divided up all of Saharan Africa to better exploit its rich resources of gas, oil, copper, uranium, coltan and other rare earth minerals.
France initially came out the winner, controlling three-fourths of Saharan Africa until World War II. Even after all their Saharan colonies won independence (1945-62), France continued to maintain a military presence, as well economic dominance over most of its former colonies.
With the discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea in the sixties, this began to change – with the covert US support of armed rebellions in Ethiopia and Angola and its failed invasion of Somalia. Over time, most French troops have been replaced by US troops. While this was done in the name of “fighting terrorism,” the real US agenda has always been to secure oil and mineral resources in the face of Chinese domination over African oil.
Instead of employing military force and direct political intervention via the International Monetary Fund and their “structural adjustment”* policies, China has gained a major foothold in Africa in offering debt-free development loans and a policy of non-interference in domestic policy.
The US is the only major power to divide up the entire world into military command and control regions: USNorthcom (North America), USSouthcom (South America), USEUCom (Europe), USCentcom (Middle East and Central Asia), USPACom (Pacific region and Australia) and USAfricom.
Former Libyan ruler Omar Gaddafi successfully blocked the US from locating the USAfricom headquarters in Africa – so the US built it in Germany instead.
Prior to his assassination by US-backed rebels, Gadaffi was a powerful advocate for African unity. His primary goal in founding and bankrolling (from his massive oil revenues) the African Development Bank and an African Monetary Fund was to assist other African countries to resist western colonialism.
In 2009, he was elected chairman of the African Union, and in 2011 he cancelled major contracts with the powerful (US) Bechtel corporation and with France (for millions of dollars of military hardware). The punishment inflicted by the US and France was swift – a NATO bombing campaign in support of CIA-backed rebels charged with overthrowing his government.
*Structural adjustment describes a process by which the US-controlled IMF forces countries to privatize public utilities, cut public services and open third world economies to western investment as a condition of debt refinancing.
Curtis, one of my favorite documentary makers, has a unique ability to conceptualize and describe the collective psychological conditioning the political elites subject us to – and the unintended consequences of their use of public relations (as opposed to diplomacy and statecraft) to retain power. In this fascinating documentary, he explores the link between the rise of Putin and Donald Trump, the Brexit vote in Britain and the fabricated War on Terror. He also explains Syria’s critical role in this process, dating back to Hafeez al-Asaad (1970-2000) and his dream of unifying the Arab world against western exploiting.
The Concept of Forced Hypernormalisation
According to Curtis, “forced hypernormalisation,” is a term coined by the Soviets to describe a psychological control technique in which politicians retain power by projecting a vastly oversimplified view of world. Curtis maintains that Ronald Reagan was the first president to embrace this version of popular control, as he projected US foreign policy as a simple matter of good vs evil and encouraged Americans to withdraw from frustrating social and political concerns by focusing on their individual selves.
Curtis begins his capsule history of forced hypnormalisation with the invention of the strategy of suicide bombing by Hafeez al-Asaad and Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini (when he was losing the Iran-Iraq WAR). Al-Assad (using Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia) would force US troops to withdraw from Lebanon with a dramatic suicide bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.
Through the 1980s, Syria would engage in several other dramatic anti-US suicide bombings. However because Reagan felt retaliation against Syria was too risky (due to the support al-Assad enjoyed from other Arab leaders), he would blame Gaddafi, who other Arab leaders viewed as a madman, and bomb Libya instead. Gaddafi, eager for the notoriety, was always happy to take the credit.
Incessant Shapeshifting in US and British Foreign Policy
Thus a pattern emerged where US and British foreign policy became an indistinguishable mixture of fabrication and reality. The public got their first clear view of this strategy with the fabricated reality (ie non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida) used to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This film also includes an intriguing account (the first I have seen from mainstream media) of the 30+ year Air Force Intelligence campaign to promote popular belief in UFOs.
Putin and Non-Linear Warfare
Curtis contends Russian information specialist Vladislav Surkoff, one of the dozen or so technocrats who keep Putin in power, is also a master of this ceaseless shapeshifting geared towards undermining people’s perception of the world. It is nothing for Surkoff to simultaneously promote Russia’s antifascist movement, nationalist neo-Nazi groups, human rights groups and the Russian Orthodox Church. In foreign policy, the Russians refer to this approach as “non-linear warfare, and they have used it in the Ukraine and Syria. The end result is the west never really knows what their real intentions are.
Enter Donald Trump
Donald Trump is also a master at this type of shapeshifting, with his unique blend of extreme right wing racism and anti-corporatism. He’s notorious for constantly reversing and contradicting himself, and his speeches are a complex mixtures of facts. The fact he’s so difficult to pin down makes it extremely difficult for the media to attack him.
Despite its length, this documentary should be compulsory viewing. Everyone with an IQ over 90 should see it at least once before they die. It was only in viewing this film that I fully grasped the insane, oil-inspired military aggression in the third world and the US fascination with despotic dictators.
The video below is actually an 8-part series shown over successive nights on Al Jazeera-English. I’ve summarized the highlights of each of the eight parts so you can fast forward to specific segments that interest you.
0.00 – 23.26
Part 1takes viewers from the founding of the secret Seven Sisters oil cartel in 1928 to the creation of the competing Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960. The latter is made up of oil producing countries that have nationalized their oil industries.*
The film begins by describing the secret (illegal) cartel formed in 1928 by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (which became British Petroleum), Standard Oil (which became Exxon) and Royal Dutch Shell. The goal was to end the cutthroat competition that was eating into profits. At a secret meeting in Scotland the three companies agreed to an orderly division of global production zones, as well as a process for fixing oil prices.
Later Mobil, Gulf, Texico and Chevron would join these three oil giants. The existence of the cartel remained secret until the 1950s, when it became known as the Seven Sisters.
This segment describes the totalitarian control BP exercised over Iran until 1951. A strike for higher wages led to a national uprising that overthrew the Shah and resulted in the democratic election of Mohammad Mosadegh as president. When the latter threatened to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, the British government requested CIA assistance to overthrow Mosadegh and restore the Shah to the throne. In return, the US government won the right for American oil companies to join BP in exploiting Iran’s oil resources.
In July 1956 after Egyptian president Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal (the main route for transporting Middle East oil to Europe), Britain, France and Israel declared war on Egypt. Nasser responded to an aerial bombing campaign by using concrete bunkers to blockade all Suez traffic. For once, the US and USSR collaborated to pressure the three aggressors to withdraw their forces and restore the transit of oil tankers through the canal.
23.26 – 46.00
Part 2 traces how the rise of OPEC worked to gradually erode the dominance of the Seven sisters – with violent repercussions.
In 1972 Saddam Hussein nationalized Iraq’s oil industry, with technical and military support from the Soviets and the French.
By October 1973, when Israel’s Arab neighbors launched the Yum Kippur War, OPEC members controlled 60% of the global oil supply. This enabled them to launch an oil embargo against the US in retaliation for their support of Israel in the 1973 conflict.
In 1978 Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, living in exile in Paris, called for a workers strike in the Iranian oil industry that caused a total shutdown of oil production. This, in turn, led the US to abandon their longtime support of the Shah and his secret police. The result was a national uprising, the forced exile of the Shah, the return of Ayatollah and the nationalization of Iran’s oil industry.
Determined to regain American corporate control of Iran’s oil industry, the US government backed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq in 1980. The sudden onset of peace in 1988 led to a period of “overproduction” and a dangerous drop in oil prices. In response, George Bush senior, whose Zapata oil company had made a fortune via offshore drilling in Kuwait, openly encouraged Saddam Hussein (through ambassador April Glaspie) to invade Kuwait. This would create a pretext for the first US invasion of Iraq in 1991.
In May 2001 (20 months before the US invasion), a secret energy task force headed by former oil executives Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, drew up a plan whereby Exxon, Shell and BP would divide up US occupied Iraq into eight oil extraction zones.
48.00 – 61.00
Part 3describes the decision by the Seven Sisters to open up Africa to increasing oil exploitation due to their gradual loss of control over Middle East oil.
In 1970, Colonel Omar Gaddafi led a coup against a corrupt Libyan monarchy that was allowing the Seven Sisters to pay 12 cents a barrel in royalties to extract high quality Libyan oil. Gaddafi immediately nationalized the oil industry, raised oil prices 33% and used the funds to finance generous public services for the Libyan world and to fund freedom fighters all over the world (including the Palestinians).
This section also traces the history of the French oil companies ELF and Total in Nigeria. After Algeria won independence from France in 1971, they nationalized their oil industry, and ELF began exploiting oil resources in Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Cameroon, and Angola, where they financed guerrillas and despotic regimes and participated in bribery and embezzlement schemes that massively increased the international indebtedness of these countries. In 2003 the CEO of ELF was sentenced to prison and the company was bought out by Total.
61.00 – 95.00
Part 4 covers the role of the Seven Sisters in stoking Sudan’s civil war (most of Sudan’s oil comes from South Sudan) and the role of Shell Oil Company in Nigeria’s trial and execution of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
95.00 – 118.00
Part 5 traces the longstanding battle between Russia and the US oil industry over control of the Baku oilfields on the Caspian Sea. It begins with Lenin’s capture of the oilfields in 1920. Hitler’s primary reason for attacking the USSR in 1941 was to gain control over Baku.
This section also details how a US-Saudi conspiracy to flood the market with oil in the late eighties (dropping the global oil price to $13) ultimately led to the Soviet collapse in 1989. At the time revenue from oil sales was the Soviet’s sole source of foreign currency.
118.00 – 142.00
Part 6 concerns the role of the color revolutions in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in keeping Caspian Sea oil out of Russian hands and under the control of US oil companies.
It briefly discusses the US role in Boris Yeltsin’s coup against the Russian parliament and his privatization of the Russian oil industry on behalf of the Seven sisters and a handful of Russian oligarchs (Putin has subsequently re-nationalized Russia’s oil industry).
Part 7discusses the concept of Peak Oil and the current dispute between the Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi government over the control of the Bakr oil terminal near Bazra. At present it’s illegal for the Kurds to export their own oil. Eighty-five percent of Iraqi oil is processed at the Bakr oil terminal and Iraqi Kurdistan on receives 17% of this revenue.
165.00 – 190.00
Part 8 is about the Seven Sisters exploitation of Mexican and Venezuelan oil prior to the election of Hugo Chavez as president. It also summarizes that status of the countries (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, and Malaysia) that have nationalized their oil industry. At present these countries control one-third of oil and gas production, and more than one-third of oil reserves. Despite their role in instigating western military aggression, the influence of the Seven Sisters continues to declines.
At present they control 10% of oil production and only 3% of oil reserves. Their monopoly on exploration, drilling and refining technology gives them disproportionate control over the industry.
*Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela
For more than 500 years, Europeans have invaded and looted the planet, yet their home civilizations are deemed so fragile that they must be insulated against the cultures of the formerly colonized peoples. Having created millions of Muslim and African war refugees, the Europeans now gear up to attack the boats that might bring them to Europe.
“The thousands of deaths at sea are crimes of Europe and the United States.”
The United States has been the big, bad leader of the imperial world for so long, we may sometimes forget that most of the evils that beset our world have their origins in Europe, a small corner of the Earth that has for 500 years grown fat off the blood and resources of the rest of the planet. This Europe is a greedy little place, most of whose inhabitants believe they have somehow earned what they have stolen from the world’s darker peoples, and that they are entitled to continue stealing in perpetuity.
In 2011, in league with the United States, European members of NATO launched a totally unprovoked 7-month bombing campaign against Libya, resulting in the murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the empowerment of Islamist jihadists throughout the northern tier of the African continent. Col. Gaddafi had warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia, with vast numbers of people desperately fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea to escape the turmoil. Gaddafi was right, of course. Not only has Libya been reduced to a state of sheer anarchy and terror, but thanks to Europe and the United States, Hell has descended on Syria, and conditions in Somalia have grown even worse. The Europeans and their American cousins are intent on wiping out every vestige of civilization in the Muslim world – all the while spouting the same twisted, racist logic that they have employed for half a millennium: that Muslims and Africans are unsuited to civilization, and must be guided by the white hands of Europe, for their own good.
“Col. Gaddafi warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia.”
The refugee crisis, the thousands of deaths at sea, are crimes of Europe and the United States. The Euro-Americans are just as unquestionably guilty as the arsonist who sets the fire that causes apartment dwellers to jump to their deaths from high windows to escape the flames. Now, the nations of the European Union, all 28 of them, are backing plans to launch air and naval attacks against boats in the ports of Libya and on the high seas, to make sure that the refugees that Europe and America have created do not wind up on European shores.