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Overthrow: The Hidden Story of How America Toppled 14 Regimes



Overthrow Book Chapter Summaries: A Review of America's History of Regime Change




Overthrow is a book by Stephen Kinzer, a journalist and historian, that examines how the United States has intervened in foreign countries and overthrown their governments in the past century. The book covers 14 cases of regime change, from Hawaii in 1893 to Iraq in 2003, and analyzes the motives, methods, and consequences of each intervention. The book also explores how these interventions have shaped America's image and role in the world, as well as the challenges and risks they pose for the future.




Overthrow Book Chapter Summaries


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In this article, we will summarize each chapter of the book and provide some insights and critiques on Kinzer's arguments. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about the book at the end. If you are interested in learning more about America's history of regime change, this article is for you.


The Overthrow of Hawaii: How America Annexed a Sovereign Nation




The first chapter of the book tells the story of how America annexed Hawaii in 1893. Hawaii was an independent kingdom ruled by Queen Liliuokalani, who wanted to preserve her people's culture and autonomy. However, a group of American businessmen and planters, backed by the US Navy, staged a coup and overthrew her. They then declared Hawaii a republic and asked to be annexed by the US. President Grover Cleveland opposed the annexation, but his successor, William McKinley, approved it in 1898.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Hawaii was motivated by economic interests, as well as by racial and religious prejudices. He also claims that it was the first example of American imperialism, which would later expand to other parts of the world. He criticizes the US for violating international law and ignoring the wishes of the Hawaiian people, who resisted the annexation for decades.


The Overthrow of Cuba: How America Supported a Dictator and Fought a Revolution




The second chapter of the book focuses on Cuba, which was a Spanish colony until 1898, when the US intervened in the Spanish-American War and helped Cuba gain its independence. However, the US also imposed its influence on Cuba's politics and economy, supporting corrupt and repressive leaders like Fulgencio Batista. In 1959, Batista was overthrown by Fidel Castro, who led a socialist revolution that challenged US interests and aligned with the Soviet Union.


Kinzer argues that the US failed to understand Cuba's history and culture, and treated it as a subordinate and exploitable partner. He also claims that the US missed several opportunities to engage with Castro and prevent the escalation of the Cold War. He criticizes the US for imposing a trade embargo and supporting covert operations and assassination plots against Castro, which only strengthened his popularity and legitimacy.


The Overthrow of Iran: How America and Britain Orchestrated a Coup




The third chapter of the book deals with Iran, which was a monarchy ruled by Shah Reza Pahlavi until 1951, when he was forced to appoint Mohammad Mossadegh as prime minister. Mossadegh was a nationalist who wanted to nationalize Iran's oil industry, which was controlled by the British. The British opposed Mossadegh's plan and asked the US to help them overthrow him. In 1953, the CIA and MI6 staged a coup that removed Mossadegh and restored the Shah's power.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Mossadegh was motivated by oil interests, as well as by Cold War fears of Soviet influence in Iran. He also claims that it was a short-sighted and reckless decision, which undermined Iran's democracy and provoked a backlash that led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He criticizes the US and Britain for supporting the Shah's brutal dictatorship, which violated human rights and repressed dissent.


The Overthrow of Guatemala: How America and the United Fruit Company Toppled a Democracy




The fourth chapter of the book covers Guatemala, which was a dictatorship ruled by Jorge Ubico until 1944, when he was overthrown by a popular uprising that established a democratic government. The elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, pursued a progressive agenda that included land reform, which threatened the interests of the United Fruit Company, an American corporation that owned vast plantations in Guatemala. The UFC lobbied the US government to intervene and overthrow Arbenz. In 1954, the CIA orchestrated a coup that installed Carlos Castillo Armas as president.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Arbenz was motivated by corporate interests, as well as by Cold War paranoia of communism. He also claims that it was a tragic mistake, which destroyed Guatemala's democracy and unleashed a civil war that lasted for 36 years and killed over 200,000 people. He criticizes the US for supporting Castillo Armas and his successors, who committed atrocities and oppressed the indigenous population.


The Overthrow of Vietnam: How America Escalated a Civil War and Lost a Country




The fifth chapter of the book examines Vietnam, which was a French colony until 1954, when the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu and declared independence. However, Vietnam was divided into two states: North Vietnam, which was communist and allied with China and the Soviet Union; and South Vietnam, which was anti-communist and backed by the US. The US supported Ngo Dinh Diem as president of South Vietnam, but he proved to be unpopular and repressive. In 1963, Diem was assassinated in a coup supported by the CIA. The US then escalated its military involvement in Vietnam, trying to prevent North Vietnam from reunifying the country under communism. The US eventually withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, after losing over 58,000 soldiers and failing to achieve its objectives.


Kinzer argues that the US misunderstood Vietnam's history and culture, and saw it as a pawn in the global struggle against communism. He also claims that the US made several strategic blunders, such as supporting Diem, ignoring his opponents, rejecting negotiations with Ho Chi Minh, and bombing North Vietnam. He criticizes the US for causing immense suffering and destruction in Vietnam, as well as damaging its own credibility and morale.


The Overthrow of Chile: How America Backed a Military Junta and Crushed a Socialist Experiment




The sixth chapter of the book explores Chile, which was a democracy ruled by Salvador Allende, who was elected president in 1970. Allende was a socialist who wanted to implement radical reforms, such as nationalizing key industries, redistributing land, and improving social welfare. His policies alarmed the US government and corporations, such as ITT and Anaconda Copper, which had investments in Chile. The US tried to prevent Allende from taking office, but failed. The US then supported opposition groups and encouraged a military coup against Allende. In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a coup that killed Allende and established a dictatorship.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Allende was motivated by ideological interests, as well as by economic interests. He also claims that it was an immoral and illegal act, which violated Chile's sovereignty and democracy. He criticizes the US for backing Pinochet's regime, which tortured and killed thousands of people and suppressed civil liberties.


The Overthrow of Grenada: How America Invaded a Tiny Island and Claimed a Victory




The seventh chapter of the book describes Grenada, which was a former British colony that gained independence in 1974. In 1979, Maurice Bishop led a coup that overthrew the authoritarian government and established a leftist regime that aligned with Cuba and the Soviet Union. Bishop pursued social and economic reforms, but also faced internal opposition and dissent. In 1983, Bishop was killed in a power struggle within his party. The US seized this opportunity to invade Grenada and oust the revolutionary government. The US claimed that it was protecting American citizens and restoring democracy in Grenada.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Grenada was motivated by political interests, as well as by psychological interests. He also claims that it was a disproportionate and unnecessary intervention, which violated international law and Grenada's sovereignty. He criticizes the US for exaggerating the threat posed by Grenada and for using it as a diversion from its failures in Lebanon and Iran.


The Overthrow of Panama: How America Captured a Drug Lord and Violated International Law




The eighth chapter of the book discusses Panama, which was a strategic ally of the US since the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914. The US had a strong influence on Panama's politics and economy, supporting military leaders like Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega. Noriega was a CIA asset who helped the US in its covert operations in Central America, but he also became involved in drug trafficking and human rights abuses. The US turned against Noriega in the late 1980s, accusing him of drug charges and undermining democracy in Panama. In 1989, the US invaded Panama and captured Noriega, who was later tried and convicted in the US.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Panama was motivated by legal interests, as well as by personal interests. He also claims that it was a dubious and costly intervention, which violated international law and Panama's sovereignty. He criticizes the US for using excessive force and for causing civilian casualties and damage in Panama.


The Overthrow of Afghanistan: How America Armed the Mujahideen and Unleashed the Taliban




The ninth chapter of the book examines Afghanistan, which was a monarchy until 1973, when it became a republic under Mohammad Daoud Khan. Daoud Khan was overthrown in 1978 by a communist coup that sparked a civil war between the pro-Soviet government and the anti-communist rebels, known as the mujahideen. The Soviet Union intervened in 1979 to support the government, while the US supported the mujahideen with weapons and money. The Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, but the civil war continued until 1996, when the Taliban, an extremist Islamic group that emerged from the mujahideen, took over most of the country. The Taliban imposed a harsh regime that oppressed women and minorities, and harbored al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden. The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, after al-Qaeda attacked the US on September 11, 2001.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Afghanistan was motivated by strategic interests, as well as by ideological interests. He also claims that it was a shortsighted and reckless decision, which created a monster that turned against its creator. He criticizes the US for arming and funding the mujahideen without regard for their ideology or goals, and for abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal.


The Overthrow of Iraq: How America Invaded a Country and Ignited a Quagmire




The tenth chapter of the book explores Iraq, which was a dictatorship ruled by Saddam Hussein since 1979. Saddam Hussein was an ally of the US in its war against Iran in the 1980s, but he became an enemy of the US after he invaded Kuwait in 1990. The US led a coalition of forces that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991, but did not topple his regime. The US then imposed sanctions and no-fly zones on Iraq, accusing Saddam Hussein of developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and supporting terrorism. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq again, claiming that it had evidence of WMD and links to al-Qaeda. However, no WMD or al-Qaeda connections were found in Iraq. The US then faced an insurgency and sectarian violence that destabilized Iraq and killed thousands of people.


Kinzer argues that the overthrow of Iraq was motivated by security interests, as well as by ideological interests. He also claims that it was a disastrous and illegal intervention, which violated international law and Iraq's sovereignty. He criticizes the US for fabricating and manipulating intelligence, for ignoring the consequences and costs of war, and for failing to establish a stable and democratic government in Iraq.


Conclusion: What are the main lessons and implications of the book?




The book concludes by summarizing the main lessons and implications of America's history of regime change. Kinzer argues that the US has often intervened in foreign countries for dubious and selfish reasons, without considering the long-term effects and moral implications of its actions. He also argues that the US has often failed to achieve its objectives and has caused more harm than good, both for itself and for the countries it has overthrown. He suggests that the US should adopt a more humble and respectful approach to the world, and refrain from imposing its will on other nations. He also suggests that the US should learn from its mistakes and seek to repair the damage it has done, by apologizing, compensating, and cooperating with the countries it has wronged.


FAQs: Five common questions and answers about the book




Here are some common questions and answers about the book:



  • What is the main thesis of the book?



The main thesis of the book is that the US has a history of overthrowing foreign governments that do not suit its interests, and that this history has had negative consequences for both the US and the world.


  • What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the book?



Some of the strengths of the book are that it is well-researched, well-written, and well-argued. It provides a comprehensive and compelling account of America's interventions in different countries and regions. It also raises important questions and challenges about America's role and responsibility in the world. Some of the weaknesses of the book are that it is sometimes biased, simplistic, and selective. It tends to portray America as a villain and its targets as victims, without acknowledging their complexities and flaws. It also tends to ignore or downplay other factors and actors that influenced or contributed to the outcomes of each intervention.


  • How relevant is the book today?



The book is very relevant today, as it provides a historical context and perspective for understanding America's current foreign policy challenges and dilemmas. It also offers some lessons and insights for how America can improve its relations with other countries and avoid repeating its past mistakes.


  • Who is the author of the book?



The author of the book is Stephen Kinzer, a journalist and historian who has covered many international issues and events for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and other publications. He is also a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.


  • Where can I buy or read the book?



You can buy or read the book online or offline from various sources, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Goodreads, etc.


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