Thursday, May 07, 2009

America's History of Regime Change

Stephen Kinzer gave a fascinating speech on America's history of interventionism in the affairs of foreign governments. A transcript of the speech is now available and is a fascinating read. He raises important concerns about the unintended consequences of intervening in the affairs of foreign nations. He writes specifically about Cuba, Vietnam, and extensively on Iran.

He summarizes his arguments:

"The lesson of all this is that when you violently intervene in the political development of another country, you’re doing something like releasing a wheel at the top of a hill. You can let it go, but once you let it go you have no control over how it’s going to bounce or where it’s going to end up. American foreign policy has gotten off onto a tangent that I think our own Founding Fathers never envisioned and would be horrified to see. We’ve decided there is only one way everyone in the world should live, and it’s the way we tell them they should live. This is the essence of the policy and the face that the United States is presenting to the outside world. We’ve decided that we’ve discovered something that other people can never discover and we’re going to force them to do it. This creates a kind of resentment that deeply undermines our security."

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