Socialist Worker

US intervention brings disaster

Issue No. 1767

The record speaks for itself

THE US has repeatedly intervened militarily on every continent. Everywhere it has brought disaster. This is true not only in countries such as Vietnam, where the naked defence of US power was obvious. Disaster has also been the result where the US military has intervened while wrapping itself in the banner of humanitarianism and the fight against terrorism.

George Bush Sr ordered the invasion of Panama in December 1989. It was supposedly to stop the 'evil' dictator General Noriega, though he had come to power with the West's blessing. Some 10,000 Panamanian civilians were killed during the invasion. Its real aim was to secure continued US access to the vital Panama Canal. A year later George Bush Sr got United Nations support for a US-led invasion of Somalia in East Africa.

The country had been wrecked by a terrible civil war. Far from ending the carnage, the US-led intervention led to another 10,000 Somali deaths. The US initially hoped it would be able to support General Aidid, one of the rival Somali warlords.

But when US helicopters attacked civilians it drove Aidid, and many ordinary Somalis, to oppose the US presence. US and UN troops responded with a reign of terror. Canadian and Belgian troops have since been charged with torturing Somali civilians. NATO's bombing campaign of Yugoslavia two years ago was another disaster in the name of fighting a humanitarian war against terrorism and rogue states. It immediately accelerated the violence in Kosovo and triggered the mass exodus of refugees it claimed it was trying to avoid.

Opponents of the war such as Socialist Worker said this at the time. Now a 900-page report from human rights monitors working for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe confirms this is what happened. Fighting between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army led to 33,000 people a month being driven from their homes in Kosovo in the three months before the bombing started.

During the bombing that figure leapt to 250,000 a month. NATO has not brought peace to the Balkans. It is now fuelling tensions in Macedonia that could erupt into all-out civil war. Kosovo itself has been largely 'ethnically cleansed' of its Serbian and other minorities.

Kosovans have little say in what goes on there. It is run as a NATO protectorate.

The gruesome price

THERE HAVE been other US interventions on an even more murderous scale. The war in Vietnam killed over two million civilians. During that war the US dropped more bombs on Vietnam's neighbour Cambodia than it did on Japan and Germany during the whole of the Second World War.

The Khmer Rouge emerged from the resulting chaos and carnage. The US then sided with that murderous regime against Vietnam. Over 150,000 civilians and conscripts were murdered in the US-led war against Iraq in 1991.

Sanctions imposed by the West since then have killed over half a million children. Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright says that is 'a price worth paying'.

US and British planes have also repeatedly bombed Iraq since the formal end of the war. They hit a village only two weeks ago.

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Sat 22 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1767
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