The Power Elite Playbook, Government by Gunpoint

Part 10

By Deanna Spingola
10 February 2008


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America’s long-term foreign policy, including passive and/or aggressive regime change, is driven by corporate greed. Trade agreements or reciprocity treaties, tariff-free trade akin to economic annexation or the creation of American protectorates, always favor business. These obligatory contracts generally include the exclusive right to extract resources, sell products, and maintain commercial properties and military bases despite the justifiable objections of the native populations. [1] Though foreign interventions became even more frequent after the creation of the CIA, they began over a century ago.


Greedy American sugar growers, eager to expand their Hawaiian production found a compliant duly-elected Hawaiian monarch, Kalākaua who signed the “Bayonet Constitution,” in other words - at the point of a gun, dated July 6, 1887. It was written by Hawaii’s Interior Minister Lorrin A. Thurston, an elite resident who considered his white supremacist mentality a form of patriotism. This document reduced the King’s executive power and deprived native Hawaiians of their voting rights. The composition of the Islands in 1890 was: 40,612 native Hawaiians, 27,391 Chinese and Japanese laborers and 6,220 Americans, Britons, Germans, French, Norwegians and Hawaii-born whites who were not the least bit interested in equality. Thurston had set up a secret organization called the Hawaiian League to overthrow the native monarchy. League members, fellow conspirators, were duly installed and controlled Kalākaua’s administration. [2]


Kalākaua, much to his non compliant sister’s horror, relinquished Pearl Harbor, the best natural port in the Pacific, to the United States. She regarded it as “a day of infamy in Hawaiian history.” She succeeded to the throne after Kalākaua’s death on January 20, 1891. To continue pro-business policies, Thurston was authorized by the Harrison administration to bribe Queen Liliuokalani and each of her like-minded associates with the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. She refused and instead introduced a new constitution restoring native political power and equal voting rights to every resident. [3] According to her detractors, democracy and decision-making were only suitable for the white elite.


Thurston and a group of sugar-stock-owning wealthy, immigrant collaborators, including Samuel Castle, the country’s largest landowner gathered to discuss the situation. In the dark of night, the conspirators visited John L. Stevens, American minister to Hawaii, who “joined an audacious plot to overthrow Hawaii’s queen.” Within a couple of days white land owners rallied; the queen’s supporters also rallied. A 3,000-ton cruiser, the U.S.S. Boston, was at anchor near Pearl Harbor. On January 16, 1893, Ambassador Stevens called on the approximately two hundred armed sailors and marines to disembark in Honolulu. The unwary citizens assumed the American military had been dispatched to protect the monarchy. Quite the contrary, they were hostile to the monarchy. The queen resisted but Ambassador Stevens had the support of the obedience-trained U.S. troops. Judge Sanford Dole, grandson of early missionaries, at the request of the conspirators, agreed to take control of a new provisional government which was recognized by the U.S. government within 48 hours. [4] “Dole took over the duties of ushering in annexation legislation to the U.S. Congress. Two attempts by the general population of Hawaii to restore their government resulted in death and fines for the insurgents.” [5]


The will of the people had been overturned in the interests of profit and strategic military operations despite anti-annexation petitions signed by 29,000 native Hawaiians. Those petitions were never seen by the Senate and the issue was never put to a popular vote. Queen Liliuokalani then went to Washington and gave a written statement to John Watson Foster (grandfather of John Foster Dulles) stating that the rebellion in her country occurred because of the actions of the American military. She further stated that the new government did not have the moral or physical support of the Hawaiian people. [6] “The United States Justice Department has confirmed that Hawaii's 1898 annexation wasn't under the authority of Congress and is therefore illegal. The United States government even signed into law Public Law 103-150 acknowledging not only its illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government but that Hawaiians never surrendered their sovereignty.” [7]


No matter, a precedent was established. The coup worked without dissent or even the knowledge of U.S. citizens. One isolated event is appalling, successive interventions indicate imperialism. History is prologue! Revised historical accounts stifle indignation. Big business profits preempt people, sheltered by compromised politicians.


General Smedley Darlington Butler, author of War is a Racket, known for his bravery in battle, is also distinguished for his courage against those who needlessly drag citizens into war for big business profit. From a long line of Quakers, Butler, born in Chester, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1881, enamored with the dashing uniform persuaded his mother to help him join the Marine Corps at the tender age of sixteen following the false flag explosion of the Maine on February 15, 1898 in Havana Harbor. That event led to the Spanish America War, what Theodore Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, John Hay, described as a “splendid little war” which opened up the Caribbean to U.S. influence. The right-wing populist Hearst media empire fanned the flames of hysteria and fear against Spain. Rupert Murdoch owns the contemporary pro-war, ministry of truth media empire. On May 20, 1898, Butler was appointed a second lieutenant then was indoctrinated in Washington, D.C. before being assigned to the Marine Battalion, North Atlantic Squadron. [8] Butler arrived at Santiago, Cuba on July 1, 1898 and then boarded a ship for Guantánamo Bay on the southern end of the island. He was commissioned a first lieutenant on April 8, 1899 and left four days later with three hundred other Marines for the Philippines. Next, Butler went to another hot spot – northern China. [9]


The 1842 Treaty of Nanking restricted China’s tariff autonomy. The treaties of Tientsin instituted additional regulations, all designed to benefit foreign companies. Some American products in foreign hands were free from local and national taxes. China was completely dependent on foreign sources of petroleum. By the early 1900s, the Standard Oil Company had recruited Chinese merchants and had developed a complex distribution system throughout China. Standard Oil owned the transport and storage facilities and promoted their petroleum products, especially kerosene for lamps and stoves. Their Asian assets totaled $18 million, most of which were in China. With four hundred million Chinese consumers, limited competition and no taxes or tariffs, Standard Oil profits soared. [10]


By June 1900, resentful Chinese citizens were opposing the foreign powers that had carved up the country and whose ships “dominated Chinese ports.” Most egregious were the “entrance signs” posted at the foreigner’s lavish clubs: “Forbidden to dogs and Chinese.” Ultimately, 100,000 troops were required to protect foreign business owners in what became known as the Boxer Rebellion. By August 14, 1900, the rebellion was crushed. [11] In 1925, because of the nationalist movement, Standard Oil would again seek military intervention from the U.S. government.


American imperialism entails “international military commitments,” and permanent military bases. At the beginning of the twentieth century it also required an increase in manpower – a 300% increase in the Marine Corps was authorized by the business-friendly Congress. [12] Therefore, Butler re-enlisted and on October 31, 1902 was in charge of a company of 101 men who were shipped to Culebra, an island twenty miles east of Puerto Rico allegedly because of trouble in Panama. In 1899, after the Spanish American War, Spain ceded the Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Guam to the U.S. for $20 million dollars. To facilitate future interventions, the United States, in 1902, established a permanent military base on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra from which Butler, leading his Marines, supported the pro-American president of Honduras, where the United Fruit and Standard Fruit companies had major interests. [13]


Sam Zemurray was a U.S. businessman who owned Cuyamel Fruit Company, Standard Fruit and United Fruit. He claimed that a mule in Honduras “cost more than a congressman.” He supported the 1911 coup in Honduras – at about the same time that Philander Knox brokered a sweet loan deal between J. P. Morgan and the struggling Honduras government. [14] Zemurray’s companies owned most of the fertile land, the ports, electric power plants, sugar mills and the largest bank. In exchange for these generous concessions, he promised to construct a 1000 mile railway network. He reneged on this promise. The only rail lines he built were the ones used exclusively for his business. His business monopoly and the resulting succession of corrupt, complicit politicians, both in Honduras and the U.S. have kept native citizens suppressed, miserably poor and dependent for decades. U.S. interventions in Honduras, over almost a century, have inflicted poverty, violence, and instability – a despicable situation. [15] Apparently "liberty and justice for all" is meaningless rhetoric or is simply reserved for special people who also happen to be white and wealthy.


Theodore Roosevelt became president after McKinley's assassination. Other presidents had long dreamed of a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific. Roosevelt, a pragmatist, felt that a canal was practical, vital and indispensable to the globalist destiny of supremacy over U.S. coastal waters. The globalist goal, even then, was U.S. control of key islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. [16] Roosevelt was a proponent of a doctrine proposed by U.S. naval officer and scholar Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), in his 1890 book Influence of Sea Power upon History. The theory was that supremacy at sea was an integral part of commercial and military prowess. Mahan’s supremacy mentality also included the Indian Ocean and islands like Diego Garcia which the U.S. currently controls. Mahan said: “whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean, the third largest in the world, would be a prominent player on the international scene.” [17]


An ideal canal site was Nicaragua, a pro-American country, led by President José Santos Zelaya, a progressive nationalist, highly praised by U.S. officials. However, he fell into disfavor immediately after the U.S. changed canal sites. Earlier, a Paris-based syndicate attempted to build a canal on a large tract of Panamanian land that they owned. They changed their mind and now wanted to sell the land. The best potential buyer was the U.S. government. In 1898, to facilitate the sale, the Paris syndicate hired New York lawyer, William Nelson Cromwell of the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, to lobby Congress to build their canal across Panama instead of Nicaragua. Planted news items, scare tactics and a $60 thousand dollar contribution to the Republican Party were enough to defeat the Nicaragua Bill in favor of the Panama route. Cromwell collected a sizable $800,000 fee for his efforts. There was, however, one problem – Panama was a province of Columbia. [18] Interestingly, John Foster Dulles, future Secretary of State, began his legal career as a law clerk at Sullivan and Cromwell.


To gain unfettered access to Panama, Roosevelt and the State Department orchestrated a rebellion against Columbia by some purportedly Panamanian “revolutionaries” and then used “American troops to prevent the Columbian army from re-establishing control.” Two American warships were close at hand: the Nashville and the Dixie. Four hundred marines from the Dixie went ashore. Maj. John Lejeune landed his marine battalion on November 5, 1903. Within three days from the inception of the “brazen gunboat diplomacy” Washington officials recognized their hand-picked rebels as leaders of the brand new government, the Republic of Panama. [19] Butler participated in that rebellion against Colombia which resulted in Panama’s declaration of independence. Less than two weeks later Panama ceded the ten-mile-wide strip that would become the Panama Canal Zone to the United States. [20] The U.S. paid the French syndicate $40 million, reduced from the $109 million sale price, and paid $10 million to Panama. Work on the canal began on May 4, 1904. The canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914.


Roosevelt, in his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, claimed that America had a right to wield a “big stick” against any country in the western hemisphere that merited such intervention. William Howard Taft, his successor, closer to big business, chose as his Secretary of State, a corporate attorney, Philander Knox. He falsely declared the 16th amendment ratified in 1913. Knox had spent years representing big business – he was counsel for Carnegie and Vanderbilt and their corporate enterprises. [21]


The Fletcher brothers were also favorite Knox clients. They owned La Luz and the Los Angeles Mining Company, which had gold mining concessions in Nicaragua. One brother, Gilmore, managed the business and the other brother, Henry conveniently worked at the State Department. Both disliked President Zelaya who had threatened to terminate the La Luz concession. Based on the Fletcher’s recommendations, Knox viewed his options on getting rid of Zelaya. It didn’t help that Zelaya “signed an agreement to borrow £1.25 million from European banks” instead of U.S. banks to finance a project. Knox’s attempts to quash the European loans failed. Then Knox orchestrated “a campaign designed to turn American public opinion against Zelaya” who was vilified as the “menace of Central America” who had “imposed a reign of terror in Nicaragua.” [22] Does this scenario sound familiar? In addition, American troops could and would be used against the duly-elected president of Nicaragua.


President Taft also used “dollar diplomacy.” Foreign governments would have nothing to fear if they allowed “free rein” to American businesses and only sought loans from American banks. In 1909, President Zelaya, who was born on November 1, 1853, in Managua, Nicaragua, rejected those conditions – “a political death sentence.” [23] The U.S. gave financial support to his opponent, General Juan José Estrada, and otherwise made threats to him as noted in the New York Times, dated March 21, 1909. [24] General Estrada declared himself president of Nicaragua on October 10, 1909, a revolt that was apparently financed through the La Luz mining company. Zelaya officially resigned on December 17, 1909 and left his homeland, never to return. He later lived in New York City where he was hunted down, accused and arrested for the alleged murder of two American citizens who were actually duly tried and executed according to Nicaraguan law as reported in the New York Times on November 25, 1913. [25] He died on May 17, 1919, in his apartment in New York City. His people loved and respected him. They never accepted Estrada!


Major Smedley D. Butler was in command of the Marines' Panama battalion, sufficiently close to make frequent incursions into Nicaragua to meddle in their national politics. On August 14, 1912, Butler led the Marines ashore in Nicaragua, to force General Estrada out of office. [26] Estrada, who apparently failed to satisfy his sponsors, was replaced by his vice president, Adolfo Díaz, the former chief accountant of Fletcher’s La Luz Mining Company. “Secretary of State Knox immediately arranged for two New York banks, Brown Brothers and J. and W. Seligman, to lend Nicaragua $15 million and take over the country’s customs agency to guarantee repayment.” [27] “In later life, Butler would recall most shamefully the American manipulation of blatantly corrupt presidential elections in 1912. Butler's intrinsic personal honor was deeply offended by the growing interference of the American military in the economic and political life of Central America; he was beginning to recognize exploitative connections that would become increasingly inescapable as he grew older. “It is terrible that we should be losing so many men,” he wrote to his wife, “all because Brown Brothers have some money down here.” [28]


Click here for part -----> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 1718, 19, 20


[2] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 13-30

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[6] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 13-30

[9] The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer, Hawthorne Books, Inc., New York 1973, pg. 40-46

[10] Principles and Profits: Standard Oil Responds to Chinese Nationalism, 1925-1927 by David A. Wilson, The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Nov., 1977), pp. 625-647

[11] The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer, Hawthorne Books, Inc., New York 1973, pg. 40-46

[12] Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History, by Robin Kadison Berson - Publisher: Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1994. Page: 22

[13] Doing Business with the Dictators: A Political History of United Fruit By Paul J. Dosal, 1993, Rowman & Littlefield, pgs. 78-80

[14] Knox Signs Treaty For Honduran Loan; Contract with J.P. Morgan & Co. Will, It Is Asserted, Be Signed Within a Week, New York Times, January 11, 1911

[15] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 100-105 See also: The Expanded Role of the United States

[16] A History Of The Panama Canal, French and American Construction Efforts Prepared by the Panama Canal Authority Technical Resources Center and Corporate Communications Division, The American Canal Construction

[17] Indian Ocean and our Security, Lt Gen (Retired) Sardar F.S. Lodi analyses the effect of the Indian Ocean on our security

[18] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 56-77

[19] Ibid

[20] Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History, by Robin Kadison Berson - Publisher: Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1994. Page: 20-25

[21] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 56-77

[22] Ibid

[23] Ibid, pgs. 98-9

[27] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, pgs. 98-9

[28] Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History, by Robin Kadison Berson - Publisher: Greenwood Press, Westport, CT. 1994. Page: 20-25


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