Regime Change Never Works: The First Failure In Iraq Should Have Taught Us That.

With plans for regime change in Venezuela on the rise, it’s important to look at the long proof that regime change doesn’t work. The first regime change in Iraq is the perfect example of the failures of regime change.

For over fifty years the Central Intelligence Agency has been orchestrating regime changes and political assassinations in foreign countries. , The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein by Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, reveals how the CIA helped Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party take over Iraq. The CIA has not only helped right-wing coups come to power, but the CIA also maintains oppressive orders in countries where the United States has financial interests. The CIA does this to put economic systems and structures into place, and then the CIA maintains these unjust policies. For example, in 1963, the CIA plotted to overthrow Abd al-Karim Qassim in Iraq because they felt that Qassim was an extreme left-wing ruler and a threat to American business interests. Ironically, Qassim had overthrown King Faisal in 1958 because he had oppressed the people of Iraq. The CIA turned to the Ba’ath Party, of which Saddam Hussein was a member. The CIA then made it possible for Saddam Hussein to become the dictator of Iraq in 1979. In 1959, Hussein, at the age of 20, failed to assassinate the Qassim, but in 1963, the CIA gave Saddam a second chance at Qassim. After Saddam returned from exile in Egypt, the Ba’ath Party overthrew Qassim. After that, the CIA gave Saddam and the Ba’ath Party a list of leftist activists. The Ba’ath Party then ordered the extermination of thousands of people who supported the Qassim and his policies. Qassim supporters refused to believe that Qassim was dead, so the Ba’athists showed pictures of Qassim's bullet-riddled body. Thus, Saddam Hussein was appointed as head of the Al-Jihaz al-Khas. Hussein used his newfound position to order massacres of groups of people that the government thought were communists.

Saddam Hussein

Clearly, it was the CIA’s coup that began Saddam Hussein’s rise to power. Qassim was targeted because he took Iraq off of the Baghdad Pact, which was a US anti-Soviet alliance in the Middle East. The CIA’s involvement in the overthrow of the leadership in Iraq is a prime show of US aggression and arrogance. The Ba’ath Party also took over Syria as well as Iraq. Many anti-Saddam Iraqis, such as Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, began to resist Hussein. In the 1980s, members of the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom supplied Iraq with weapons to use in their fight against Iran, since Iran was backed by the Soviet Union. However, in the 1990s, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait--a move that would turn the United States and the United Kingdom against him. By this time, the Gulf War had begun and Iraq was now an enemy to the US, and the US government began plotting Hussein’s overthrow. George H.W. Bush had bombed Iraqi cities killing thousands of civilians in Operation Desert Storm in hopes of turning the Gulf War in the US’s favor. The Cold War had ended with the Gulf War. Bill Clinton could not cite any reason, including Hussein’s willingness to combat communism during the Cold War, for justifying why Hussein’s brutal regime should stay. The US then discovered a more difficult challenge, which was removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. With the September 11th attacks came George W. Bush’s chance to remove the US’s former friend, Saddam Hussein, from power. The Iraq War resulted in yet another regime change in Iraq since US actions led to the arrest, trial, and execution of Hussein in 2006.

History of Iraq and America

I am shocked that the United States would impose brutal regimes as opposed to leaving countries alone and allowing the countries to govern themselves as they please. It is one thing for a monarchy or dictatorship to conquer another country and impose its brutal government, and another for a democracy to overthrow a government and replace it with a brutal dictatorship to preserve corporate interests. I cannot help but find it unsettling that the US supported Saddam Hussein up until he started attacking our corporate interests in Kuwait. It shows that members of the US government choose to align our country with just about any regime that is not communist even if the regime strongly resembles communism. History shows what length our country will go to preserve our own private interests, not how far the US will go to preserve democracy. If the US was determined to preserve democracy, we would make other countries democracies, not dictatorships, to keep the communists out. The US prides itself on being past imperialism, yet our country’s government conducts missions that resemble the actions of a group of imperialists. When I read about Bush bombing Iraq, I learned a possible explanation for why the Middle East does not like the US and why some Middle Easterners attack our country.

The coup in Venezuela

Now how does this relate to Venezuela? The regime change efforts in Venezuela have the marking of a Dulles brothers regime change. When the CIA was established in 1947, the Dulles brothers had enacted various regime changes around the world, they had claimed it was to stop the spread of Communism. In the case of Iran, they had Mossadegh overthrown because he wanted to Nationalize the oil, and the CIA had given all governmental power to the Shaw, who was a brutal dictator. Eventually, the Shaw was overthrown and replaced by the Ayatollah. Setting the oil motive aside, the efforts in Venezuela bear a strong resemblance to the first regime change in Iraq, wherein which the CIA had a leader that they had chosen to lead Iraq to serve American interests. Much like Saddam Hussein, I feel as though Juan Guaidó will be someone who the United States will consider an ally until the private interests who back our leaders believe to be a threat. That’s why the story of Saddam Hussein’s rise to power is so important, it’s a story that’s been repeated multiple times, and it may be taking place now in Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro may not be a great leader, but do we really want a puppet of the American empire running Venezuela? Do we want another Saddam Hussein? Do we want another Iraq War? We must oppose all regime change efforts whether it’s Dick Cheney style regime change or Alan Dulles style regime change, it’s bad all around except for those in power and those who profit from regime change in general.

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Scotty Cameron

Progressive columnist, my focus is on history, politics, and pop culture.