United States involvement in regime change

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United States involvement in regime change has involved both overt and covert actions aimed at altering, replacing, or preserving foreign governments. Early actions in the latter half of the 19th century occurred within the Americas and the southwest Pacific, and included the Mexican-American, Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. At the onset of the 20th century the United States shaped or installed friendly governments in many countries including Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

In the aftermath of World War II, U.S. overt and covert regime change or actions and interventions expanded geographically, as the country struggled with the Soviet Union for global leadership and influence within the context of the Cold War. Significant involvements included the 1950 Korean War, the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion targeting Cuba, the Vietnam War, and support for the Argentinian Dirty War, but included other operations throughout the world.

Following the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has led or supported wars to determine the governance of a number of countries. Stated U.S. aims in these conflicts have included fighting the War on Terror as in the 2001 Afghan war, or removing dictatorial and hostile regimes in the 2003 Iraq War and 2011 military intervention in Libya.

19th century interventions[edit]

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American forces occupied New Mexico and California, then invaded parts of Northeastern Mexico and Northwestern Mexico; Another American army captured Mexico City, and the war ended in victory of the U.S.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo specified the major consequence of the war: the forced Mexican Cession of the territories of Alta California and New Mexico to the U.S. in exchange for $18 million. In addition, the United States forgave debt owed by the Mexican government to U.S. citizens. Mexico accepted the loss of Texas and thereafter cited the Rio Grande as its national border.

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  • 1893 Hawaii. The overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii refers to an event of January 17, 1893, in which anti-monarchial elements within the Kingdom of Hawaii, composed largely of American citizens, engineered the overthrow of its native monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani. Hawaii was initially reconstituted as an independent republic, but the ultimate goal of the revolutionaries was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which was finally accomplished in 1898.


See also: Banana Wars
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  • 1898 Cuba and Puerto Rico, as part of the Spanish–American War, U.S. intervention in Cuba and invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898. Cuba was occupied by the U.S. from 1898–1902 under military governor Leonard Wood, and again from 1906–1909, 1912 and 1917–1922; governed by the terms of the Platt Amendment through 1934.
The Puerto Rican Campaign was an American military sea and land operation on the island of Puerto Rico during the Spanish–American War. The United States Navy attacked the archipelago's capital, San Juan. Though the damage inflicted on the city was minimal, the Americans were able to establish a blockade in the city's harbor, San Juan Bay. The land offensive began on July 25 with 1,300 infantry soldiers.
All military actions in Puerto Rico were suspended on August 13, after U.S. President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice whereby Spain relinquished its sovereignty over the territories of Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines and Guam.

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  • 1899 Philippines, the Philippine–American War was part of a series of conflicts in the Philippine struggle for independence. Fighting erupted between U.S. and Filipino revolutionary forces on February 4, 1899, and quickly escalated into the 1899 Battle of Manila. On June 2, 1899, the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States.[4] The war officially ended on July 4, 1902.[5]

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  • 1912 Nicaragua, which, after intermittent landings and naval bombardments in the previous decades, was occupied by the U.S. almost continuously from 1912 through 1933.

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  • 1915 Haiti. Haiti was occupied by the U.S. from 1915–1934, which led to the creation of a new Haitian constitution in 1917 that instituted changes that included an end to the prior ban on land ownership by non-Haitians. Including the First and Second Caco Wars.[9]

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Interwar period[edit]

The Aftermath of World War I saw drastic political, cultural, and social change across Europe, Asia, Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved in the war. Four empires collapsed due to the war, old countries were abolished, new ones formed, boundaries were redrawn. The Great War saw changes of government in Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, China, Mexico, Greece, Ireland, and Egypt.

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Post-World War II[edit]

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  • 1958 Lebanon crisis. The President of the United States, Eisenhower authorized Operation Blue Bat on July 15, 1958. This was the first application of the Eisenhower Doctrine under which the U.S. announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international communism. The goal of the operation was to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun against internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt.


  • 1965 Dominican Republic. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, convinced of the defeat of the Loyalist forces and fearing the creation of "a second Cuba"[14] on America's doorstep, ordered U.S. forces to restore order. The decision to intervene militarily in the Dominican Republic was Lyndon Johnson's personal decision. All civilian advisers had recommended against immediate intervention hoping that the Loyalist side could bring an end to the civil war.
President Johnson took the advice of his Ambassador in Santo Domingo, W. Tapley Bennett, who suggested that the US interpose its forces between the rebels and those of the junta, thereby effecting a cease-fire. Chief of Staff General Wheeler told a subordinate: "Your unannounced mission is to prevent the Dominican Republic from going Communist."[15] A fleet of 41 vessels was sent to blockade the island, and an invasion was launched. Ultimately, 42,000 soldiers and marines were ordered to the Dominican Republic.

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  • 1973 Chilean coup d'état was the overthrow of democratically elected President Salvador Allende by the Chilean armed forces and national police. This followed an extended period of social and political unrest between the right dominated Congress of Chile and Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by US President Richard Nixon.[16] The regime of Augusto Pinochet that followed is notable for having, by conservative estimates, disappeared some 3200 political dissidents, imprisoned 30,000 (many of whom were tortured), and forced some 200,000 Chileans into exile.[17][18][19] The CIA, through Project FUBELT (also known as Track II), worked to secretly engineer the conditions for the coup. The US initially denied any involvement, and though many relevant documents have been declassified in the decades since, a US president has yet to issue any apology for the incident.[20]

  • 1989 Panama The United States Invasion of Panama, code-named Operation Just Cause, was the invasion of Panama by the United States in December 1989. It occurred during the administration of George H. W. Bush, and ten years after the Torrijos–Carter Treaties were ratified to transfer control of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama by the year 2000.
During the invasion, de facto Panamanian leader, general, and dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed, president-elect Guillermo Endara sworn into office, and the Panamanian Defense Force dissolved.

After the dissolution of the USSR[edit]

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  • 1991 Kuwait - The Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a UN-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

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  • 1991 Haiti. Eight months after what was widely reckoned as the first honest election held in Haiti, the newly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed by the Haitian army. The CIA "paid key members of the coup regime forces, identified as drug traffickers, for information from the mid-1980s at least until the coup."[21] Coup leaders Cédras and François had received military training in the United States.[22]

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Covert involvements[edit]

During the modern area, Americans were involved in numerous covert actions to support international regime change. During the Cold War era, American influence helped support change of regime in Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964.


  1. ^ Stevenson, Robert Louis (1892). A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 1-4264-0754-8. 
  2. ^ Ryden, George Herbert. The Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa. New York: Octagon Books, 1975. (Reprint by special arrangement with Yale University Press. Originally published at New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928), p. 574; the Tripartite Convention (United States, Germany, Great Britain) was signed at Washington on 2 December 1899.
  3. ^ Ryden, George Herbert. The Foreign Policy of the United States in Relation to Samoa. New York: Octagon Books, 1975. (Reprint by special arrangement with Yale University Press. Originally published at New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928), p. 574; the Tripartite Convention (United States, Germany, Great Britain) was signed at Washington on 2 December 1899 with ratifications exchanged on 16 February 1900
  4. ^ Kalaw 1927, pp. 199–200
  5. ^ Worcester 1914, p. pageno=180 180
  6. ^ Spence, In Search of Modern China, pp. 230–235; Keith Schoppa, Revolution and Its Past, pp. 118–123.
  7. ^ In a state speech in December 1903, President Roosevelt put the number of "revolutions, rebellions, insurrections, riots, and other outbreaks" in Panama at 53, within the space of 57 years. in "Theodore Roosevelt's third state of the union address":http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt%27s_Third_State_of_the_Union_Address
  8. ^ http://www2.truman.edu/~marc/resources/interventions.html
  9. ^ GILES A. HUBERT, WAR AND THE TRADE ORIENTATION OF HAITI, http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1053341.pdf
  10. ^ The date of the coup in the Persian calendar.
  12. ^ Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization. I.B.Tauris. 2007. pp. 775 of 1082. ISBN 9781845113476. 
  13. ^ U.S. foreign policy in perspective: clients, enemies and empire. David Sylvan, Stephen Majeski, p.121.
  14. ^ Stephen G. Rabe, "The Johnson Doctrine", Presidential Studies Quarterly 36
  15. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968 Volume XXXII, Dominican Republic; Cuba; Haiti; Guyana, Document 43". US Dept. of State. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  16. ^ Peter Kornbluh. "Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973". 
  17. ^ [1] Valech Report
  18. ^ Gómez-Barris, Macarena (2010). "Witness Citizenship: The Place of Villa Grimaldi in Chilean Memory". Sociological Forum. 25 (1): 34. doi:10.1111/j.1573-7861.2009.01155.x. 
  19. ^ "El campo de concentración de Pinochet cumple 70 años". El País. 3 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Chile President Pinera to ask Obama for Pinochet files". BBC News. 23 March 2011. 
  21. ^ Whitney, Kathleen Marie (1996). "Sin, Fraph, and the CIA: U.S. Covert Action in Haiti". Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas. 3 (2): 303–332 [p. 320]. 
  22. ^ Whitney 1996, p. 321
  23. ^ "Security Council Approves 'No-Fly Zone' over Libya, Authorizing 'All Necessary Measures' To Protect Civilians in Libya, by a Vote of Ten For, None Against, with Five Abstentions". United Nations. 17 March 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  24. ^ "Libya Live Blog – March 19". Al Jazeera. 19 March 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Libya: US, UK and France attack Gaddafi forces". BBC News. 20 March 2011. Archived from the original on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  26. ^ "French Fighter Jets Deployed over Libya". CNN. 19 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  27. ^ "France Uses Unexplosive Bombs in Libya: Spokesman". Xinhua News Agency. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  28. ^ Gibson, Ginger (8 April 2011). "Polled N.J. Voters Back Obama's Decision To Establish No-Fly Zone in Libya". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 


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