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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Regime Change: The US’ favorite weapon?

Like their military interventions and occupations, removing unfavorable governments covertly through a regime change has long been Washington's tool of choice. Engaging in such activities since 1898, US President Woodrow Wilson once described it as a duty to "teach them to elect good men".

Once US Ambassador Anne Patterson explained the depth of anti-Americanism in Islamabad, especially in the middle class, had surprised her. She was wrong on two points – it is not only the middle class but an absolute majority of Pakistanis. Secondly, it is not directed at the American people. It results from Washington, the king and lord, dictating policies and propping up rulers in Pakistan. In purely Langley’s terms, this wrath is blowback – the fallout of Washington’s interventions.

Like their military interventions and occupations, removing unfavorable governments covertly through a regime change has long been Washington’s tool of choice. Engaging in such activities since 1898, US President Woodrow Wilson once described it as a duty to “teach them to elect good men”.

Moreover, these “good men” are Washington’s means to a trussed-up ruler’s loyalty at the cost of the ordinary citizen. These activities lead to a lack of honor and trust in the relationship with the citizens of these nations. It starkly reminds one of Lord Cromer’s words describing the British Empire’s influence on Egypt. He said, “We do not govern Egypt; we govern the governors of Egypt.” The US demands compliance; if any leader dares to pursue an independent policy, he is made an example through a regime change via coups, assassination, or other covert operations.

Read more: Afghanistan: Implications of a global failure for US and Pakistan! – Gen Tariq Khan

US-backed Assassinations & Coups

Official US documents (declassified now) showcase how Nixon tried to prevent Salvador Allende from coming to power by ordering the CIA to “make the economy scream in Chile.” Allende came to power, but Washington cleverly orchestrated a coup to initiate a regime change. Allende allegedly committed “suicide” on the day of the coup with an AK-47 that Fidel Castro had gifted to him. Castro avoided as many as 638 attempts on his own life and once quipped, “If surviving (Washington’s) assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would have won the gold medal.”

Afterward, the chilling extent of these assassinations and coups forced a formal US Senate investigation. The report concluded that the CIA had attempted to assassinate the leaders of Cuba and Congo and supported such assassination plots in Chile, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic. Resultantly, an “assassination ban” was placed. US President Gerald Ford had to issue an executive order which stated, “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

Read more: Trilateral summit between Afghanistan US and Pakistan: Will the afghan war finally end?

US presidents Carter and Reagan later reinforced the assassination ban, but the assassinations continued despite the order. In November 1984 (during the Reagan government), there was an assassination attempt on Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah because the administration suspected he had ties to Hezbollah. While he miraculously survived, 80 innocent bystanders perished.

After ordering the assassination of the notable Iranian General, Qasim Suleimani, Donald Trump openly bragged, “I would have taken him (President Assad) out. I had him all set up.” Current President Joseph Biden condemned Vladimir Putin, calling him “a butcher” and further stating, “this man can no longer remain in power.” By these standards, all the US presidents were butchers and should never have been in positions of power.

The King and the Thorn

During our decades of subservience, our wages of servility have seen false realism, crass demands, and moral insensitivity as Washington’s policies toward Pakistan. In the Pak-US relations, Washington calls for a compliant governing setup kowtowing to diktats and intoning “thou art king and lord and god.” I have been a personal witness to Washington’s total ingress and the absolute surrender of our politicians and bureaucrats. It was as unbelievable as it was shameful.

A friend served as a political advisor in the US embassy in Islamabad. Just one example had an MNA insisting that this political advisor accompany him for his prime minister nomination process. This, the politician said, would be a clear signal to all that he had the blessings of the king and lord. The embassy official obliged after a kingly nod from the US ambassador. The politician won the contest easily and became the prime minister of Pakistan. One can well imagine the interests that were pursued.

Another sinister example was Washington brokering the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO-1) – the magical ordinance granting to politicians, political workers, ambassadors, government officials, and bureaucrats accused of corruption, and money laundering, murder, and terrorism. It has repeated the same with NRO-2, through our very own, giving a clean chit to those accused of crimes and plunder.

This lot has, yet again, taken over the highest seats of power. This forever-in-power elite’s coffers have swelled perpetually at the cost of Pakistan sinking to unimaginable depths. It has been a grotesque contrast of elite grandeur and citizen squalor, grotesque wealth, and excruciating poverty with Washington props lording over a beggared nation.

Read more: US and Pakistan strive to improve relations

Washington’s absolute sway and the lust for personal riches have been the only constant of our ruling dispensations in an otherwise perpetually plummeting Pakistan. Imran Khan is the only leader who has challenged this travesty. He has honored him given the word and never made any compromises detrimental to the cause of Pakistan. He has given us awareness and a sense of pride as a nation—a cardinal sin for the king and its propped ones.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has done what no individual could do for decades. He has defied the king and lord and set a bar for sovereignty, trust, and personal integrity. Each of us must support him so that any vassal thrust upon us never alters this barometer. Any attempt to subvert it shall prove to be a harbinger of anarchy.


The writer is a lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Government College University Faisalabad. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.