The most startling thing about this book is the extent to which the official propaganda about US imperialism has remained unchanged over the past century. In each case of ‘regime change’, the official explanation is always that the US is ‘intervening’ to ‘combat repression’ and ‘promote democracy’. The real reasons are usually evident to anyone who is paying even moderately close attention: the country in question either has resources that are wanted by US corporations, or the existing government has decided it does not want to be exclusively in the US imperial domain and so must be replaced, usually by a brutal dictatorship.
Beginning in Hawaii in 1893, and followed shortly thereafter by Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and continuing to the present day in Iraq, the US has had a foreign policy based on state terrorism in support of corporate interests. This policy is neutral with respect to democracy (as most of us understand the term) but is instead based on making resources and markets available to US and, increasingly, international corporations. Nonetheless, the official rhetoric is always centered on the notion that the US is on a mission to promote democracy around the world, never mind that more often than not, when the US ‘intervenes’, it is to overthrow a working democracy in order to replace it with a dictatorship more friendly to US corporate investment.
This is a fascinating book. Kinzer does not generalize about the history of US foreign policy, but simply describes the details of each major ‘regime change’ perpetrated by the US over the past 115 years. Definite patterns emerge, but the specific events, and crimes, are interesting in themselves.