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“Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments and to crush more than 30 populist- nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US has caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair” (William Blum(1)).
William Blum was an employee of the US state department who became aware of the scale of US crimes abroad and decided to document them. His book, Rogue State, is one of the best beginner’s guides to understanding what really goes on in the world. The following list is an updated version of his analysis of the US government’s most serious crimes.
Table 1: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War 2
China 1945–51 Korea 1945–53 The Phillippines 1945–53; 1970s -90s
Marshall Islands 1946–58 France 1947 Italy 1947–70s Greece 1947–49; 1967–74
Albania 1949–53; 1991–92 Eastern Europe 1948–56
Soviet Union Late 1940s – 60s Germany 1950s Iran 1953
British Guyana 1953–64 Guatemala 1953–90s
Costa Rica Mid 1950s; 1970–71 Syria 1956–57; 2011 — present
Middle East 1956–58 Indonesia 1957–58; 1965 East Timor 1975–99
Western Europe 1950s and 1960s Italy 1950s — 70s
Vietnam 1950–73 Cambodia 1955–73 Laos 1957–73
Iraq 1958–63; 1972–75; 1991 — present Cuba 1959 — present
Haiti 1959; 1987–2004 France/Algeria 1960s South Africa 1960’s — 80s
Diego Garcia 1960s — present Ecuador 1960–63; 2000
Congo/Zaire1960–65; 77–78 Brazil 1961–64 Peru 1965
Dominican Republic 1963–65 Chile 1964–73 Bolivia 1964–75
Thailand 1965–73 Ghana 1966 Uruguay 1969–72 Panama 1969–91
Australia 1972–75 Portugal 1974–76 Angola 1975-80s
Jamaica 1976 Seychelles 1979–81 Grenada 1979–83
Yemen 1979–84; 2015 — present Nicaragua 1979–90
Afghanistan 1979–92; 2001 — present South Korea 1980
Honduras 1980s; 2009 El Salvador 1980–92 Chad 1981–82
Libya 1981–89; 2011 — present Suriname 1982-84 Morocco 1983 Fiji 1987 Bulgaria 1990–91
Columbia 1990s — present Somalia 1993
Yugoslavia 1991–99 Venezuela 2001–04
Adapted From: William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide To The World’s Only Superpower
These are just the most thoroughly documented examples. Many records remain classified so this list is incomplete. More recent analysis adds 5 more countries (Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Pakistan) where US soldiers have invaded, occupied or bombed in the Middle East alone.(2)
Blum goes on to list US activities as follows:
“If you flip over the rock of American foreign policy of the past century, this is what crawls out…invasions, bombings, overthrowing governments, assassinating political leaders, death squads, torture, biological warfare, drug trafficking, mercenaries, suppressing movements for social change, perverting elections, manipulating labour unions, manufacturing “news”, depleted uranium…”
(William Blum, Introduction to www.killinghope.org)
Two of the wars mentioned above are worth highlighting because of their scale. In the war against Korea from 1945-1953, the US dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea, destroying everything of significance, and slaughtering millions of people. In their war with the three neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1950 – 1973, the US dropped over 7 million tons of bombs, approximately 3 times as much as were dropped by all sides during WW2(3), and again slaughtered millions of people. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger became notorious for ordering “a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia…everything that flies on anything that moves,”(4) meaning that all men, women and children were acceptable targets. This is an example of the US actually ordering genocide. The total number of deaths from all of the US’s interventions throughout the world during the last seventy-five years is estimated to be at least thirteen million(5). This has been termed the US holocaust. One would expect that slaughter on this scale would be discussed regularly by the mainstream media, and would be taught to schoolchildren, but in Britain and the US these crimes are almost never mentioned.
Many of these interventions have been analysed in detail, and some clear patterns have emerged. An excuse is created to justify the intervention. The media consistently present the government’s case without adequate scrutiny, even though supporting evidence is poor. Years after the events took place, classified documents become available or former government insiders come forward to explain what the true intentions were. In each case, the original justification for the war turns out to be untrue or exaggerated. The real reason is always US imperialism. (This will be discussed in more detail in later posts). US intervention almost always has terrible consequences for the targeted country. There is not a single example of the US or British governments carrying out these activities for humanitarian reasons. None of the wars can be described as ‘last resort’ – there were always non-violent courses of action that could have been pursued:
“War is never the only choice, and always the worst one”(6)
The US now has over 800 military bases around the world outside the USA, and covert (secret) operations in many areas of the world(7). These military activities are an attempt to gain what it calls Full Spectrum Dominance. This refers to control of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.
The British Government Is Just As Criminal (but with a smaller army)
The British government has followed similar policies using their military and their intelligence agency, MI6. Britain had a vast empire before 1945, but they were unable to maintain that empire after World War 2, so former colonies gained their independence. British leaders did not give up control graciously. They were worried that the new rulers might choose policies that would stop British corporations from exploiting each country, so British soldiers were sent to ensure that future rulers were acceptable to British decision-makers. Britain’s main goal in their brutal war in Malaya (1948-60) was to make sure that British tin and rubber corporations could continue to plunder the resources there(8). Britain committed atrocities including killing civilians and torture in many countries, such as Aden (South Yemen), Kenya, Palestine, Cyprus, Brunei and Borneo. The leading researcher into British atrocities has written:
“Britain bears significant responsibility for around 10 million deaths since 1945”(9).
In more recent decades, Britain’s actions have mostly been alongside the US. Their combined militaries are the main invaders, occupiers and mass murderers in the world. The US has ensured that torture is widespread. Whenever they turn a country into a war zone or a failed state, they create a zone of lawlessness where brutal, violent rape also becomes widespread, some of it committed by the occupying soldiers(10).
This first post is just a brief summary to give an overview of US and British criminality. Future posts will look in more detail at some of these issues.
The US and Britain have a long history of slaughtering large numbers of people in other countries.
There is not a single example of the US or Britain carrying out genuine ‘humanitarian intervention’
William Blum Rogue State: A Guide To The World’s Only Superpower
Mark Curtis Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role In The World
Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses
David Swanson War is a Lie
www.williamblum.org (no longer updated)
1) William Blum, Rogue State, p.1
Much more detailed information regarding the overthrow of foreign governments can be found in William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA interventions since World War II.
2) Glenn Greenwald, ‘How Many Muslim Countries has the U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980?’, 6 Nov 2014, at
4) John PIlger, ‘From Pol Pot to ISIS: Anything that flies on everything that moves’, 8 Oct 2014, at
5) Galtung, J. ‘Learning from Gandhi: Towards a nonviolent world order’, March 22, 2007, Death toll 13-17 million from non-secret operations
6) David Swanson (2011) War is a Lie, p.106
7) ‘US Defense Department Base Structure Report 2018’, at
8) Mark Curtis, ‘The War in Malaya, 1948-60’, 13 Feb 2007, at
9) Mark Curtis, Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses, 2004, p.2, pp.310-317
Rod Driver is a part-time academic who is particularly interested in de-bunking modern-day US and British propaganda. This is the first in a series entitled Elephants In The Room, which attempts to provide a beginners guide to understanding what’s really going on in relation to war, terrorism, economics and poverty, without the nonsense in the mainstream media.
This article was first posted at medium.com/elephantsintheroom-info