Since the 1950s, the US has maintained a near-constant presence in many nations’ political affairs, funding conservative parties and working to sabotage progressive movements, workers’ unions, and liberal parties, all in the name of fighting
Child’s drawing from Laos, 1970
“communism”. This (incomplete) list is limited to military actions and CIA and other operations that created or fueled wars, toppled or nearly toppled regimes, or otherwise resulted in deaths of civilians. While many Americans are unaware of many of the interventions on this list, they are generally well-known by the people in the affected countries.
I will update this as needed. I also intend to make similar lists for earlier periods, including US military actions domestically against Native Americans and others.
Note that, because of the size of the US economy (generally consuming 25% of most of the world’s products), it is the primary import and/or export partner for many of these nations. Thus, US trade policies and embargoes have had equally significant impacts as the direct interventions listed here.
2017 Niger Small units sent to assist fight against Islamic extremist groups.
2015 Cameroon Small unit sent to assist fight against Boko Haram.
2014 Syria & Iraq Airstrikes against ISIS targets. On-the-ground training of Syrian rebels continuing into 2017.
2013 Somalia Provided air support for French rescue mission of aid worker.
2012 Somalia Conducted a short tactical mission to rescue two aid workers held by kidnappers.
2011 Uganda Small unit sent to assist Ugandan government fight against rebel group (Lord’s Resistance Army).
2011 Somalia Drone strikes against the al Shabaab militant group. Continuing thru 2017
2011 Pakistan Conducted a short tactical mission to kill Osama bin Laden. [Note: drone strikes (see 2004) continuing in western provinces of Pakistan.]
2010 Pakistan Dramatic increase in drone strikes (continuing from 2004).
2011 Libya Airstrikes and use of ground troops against Libyan military during civil uprising.
2009 Yemen Airstrikes and drone strikes against al-Queda targets kill over 100 civilians, continue thru 2017.
2009 Sudan Assisted Israeli airstrikes which killed over 60 civilians.
2009 Honduras Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Manuel Zelaya. Purge of opposition leaders leads to several deaths.
2007 Somalia Airstrikes and Special Forces attack al-Queda.
2007 Bolivia Assisted failed attempt by conservative provinces to break away, challenging democratically elected left-wing leader Evo Morales.
2004 Pakistan Started drone airstrikes and extensive covert operations to strike Taliban/Al-Queda targets. Approximately 3,000 people killed thru 2013, including several hundred civilians. See statistics here.
2004 Haiti Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Purge of opposition leaders leads to hundreds of deaths.
2003 Liberia Military invades to protect US embassy.
2003 Iraq [Major military intervention], removing Saddam Hussein and occupying the country for many years (Operation Iraqi Freedom). As many as 600,000 killed. Also includes US military presence in Kuwait and Qatar. US troop presence continues thru 2015.
2002 Yemen Drone strike against al-Queda targets kill several.
2002 Venezuela Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Hugo Chavez. Chavez regained power after two days.
2001 Afghanistan [Major military intervention], removing the Taliban and occupying the country for many years (Operation Enduring Freedom). US troop presence continues thru 2017.
1998 Iraq Airstrikes against Iraq to “degrade” any weapons of mass destruction (Operation Desert Fox).
1998 Afghanistan Airstrikes against al-Qaeda targets.
1998 Sudan Missile strikes destroy pharmaceutical factory said to be connected to al-Queda (Operation Infinite Reach). Thousands are estimated to have suffered from the loss of medicines and drugs.
1995 Bosnia/Serbia [Major airstrikes] launched to defend Bosnia from Serbian occupation.
1994 Haiti Military invaded and overthrew Haitian military leaders, re-installing Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
1993 Columbia Used Special Forces to hunt down and kill drug lord Pablo Escobar.
1992 Somalia [Major military intervention] to suppress warlords and provide famine relief (Operation Restore Hope).
1991 Iraq Military invaded briefly as part of Operation Desert Storm.
1991 Kuwait [Major military intervention] to overturn Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm). Also includes US military presence in Saudi Arabia.
1991 Haiti Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Military junta takes power. Purge of opposition leaders leads to hundreds of deaths.
1989 Panama [Major military intervention] to overthrow Dictator Manuel Noriega (Operation Just Cause). Civilian casualties estimated at 1,000 to 5,000. 20,000 were left homeless.
1987 Bolivia Created UMOPAR para-military unit to fight “war on drugs” and eradicate coca. Their use of torture and assassinations becomes widespread thru the 1990s.
1987 Angola Assisted UNITA rebel group to resume civil war.
1986 Haiti Assisted removal of Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc). He is replaced by a military regime.
1986 Libya Airstrikes against multiple targets (Operation El Dorado Canyon), killing 15 civilians.
1983 Grenada [Major military intervention] to overthrow the recent coup leader Bernard Coard (Operation Urgent Fury).
1982 Lebanon Military oversaw the withdrawal of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon in the wake of an Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon.
1982 Surinam Assisted coup attempt that failed.
1982 Nicaragua Created the Contra rebels and mined harbors, starting a civil war in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government. Over 50,000 civilians were killed. Also included US military presence in Honduras.
1981 Seychelles Assisted coup attempt to protect US military based; failed.
1981 Panama Assisted assassination (via mysterious plane crash) of left-wing leader Omar Torrijos, who wanted to build a second Panama Canal. He is succeeded by Manuel Noriega.
1981 Ecuador Assisted assassination (via mysterious plane crash) of left-wing leader Jaime Roldós, who opposed US oil companies.
1981 Honduras Assisted the Honduran army unit Battalion 3-16 in carrying out political assassinations and torture of hundreds of opposition leaders. Built Soto Cano military base (also known as Palmerola), which is maintained by the US thru today.
1981 El Salvador Assisted the right-wing military government against a left-wing revolutionary movement. Over 70,000 civilians were killed, the vast majority by the military or right-wing death squads. Also included US military presence in Honduras.
1981 Guatemala Assisted the right-wing military government against suspected communists, with continued campaign of assassinations, torture, and destruction of villages.
1980 Iran Attempted rescue of hostages held at the US embassy; failed.
1979 Seychelles Assisted coup attempt to protect US military based; failed.
1979 Afghanistan Assisted Islamic mujahedeen resistance to Soviet invasion.
1976 Jamaica Assisted opposition and terror campaign in attempt to overthrow Michael Manley; failed.
1975 Angola Assisted FNLA rebel group and helped create the Angolan civil war. Also includes US military presence in Zaire, Zambia, and South Africa. Over 300,000 were killed during the war.
1975 East Timor Assisted the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor, in which 100,000 people are killed.
1975 Australia Assisted removal of democratically elected left-wing leader Edward Whitlam to protect CIA operations in support of the Viet Nam War.
1973 Chile Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Salvador Allende, replacing him with military general Augusto Pinochet, who ruled thru 1990. Purge of accused communists leads to 3,000 deaths. Over 27,000 were tortured.
1972 Iraq Assisted Kurdish rebels, but only to the point of prolonging their civil war and producing a stalemate.
1971 Bolivia Assisted coup, removing left-wing leader Juan Jose Torres, replacing him with military colonel Hugo Banzer, who led a bloody purge of suspected communists.
1969 Cambodia [Major airstrikes] against Viet Cong forces in Cambodia (Operation Menu) killed over 100,000 civilians. The airstrikes actually began in 1966 and continued thru 1973 (under Operation Freedom Deal).
1967 Bolivia Assisted in the capture of Che Guevara.
1967 Greece Instigated coup, installing military colonel George Papadopoulos. A reign of terror to purge suspected communists included widespread use of torture. Over 8,000 are killed.
1967 Diego Garcia Began the forcible removal of the population of Diego Garcia Island to Mauritius, to make way for the construction of a US military base. 2,000 people are relocated and left to become second-class citizens in a slum in a different country.
1966 Guatemala Assisted the Guatemalan military and death squads, with use of US aircraft from the US military base in Panama, in a massive campaign to kill suspected communists (Operation Cleanup). Over 20,000 people are killed by 1972.
1966 Ghana Initiated coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Kwame Nkrumah. A series of coups follows, driving over one million into exile.
1965 Greece Assisted removal of democratically elected left-wing leader George Papandreau.
1965 Peru Assisted Peruvian military in fighting left-wing rebels.
1965 Indonesia Assisted coup, eventually removing left-wing leader Sukarno, replacing him with military general Suharto. Assisted the following purge of suspected communists, in which 500,000 to 1 million people are killed.
1965 Dominican Republic [Major military intervention] to prevent democratically-elected left-wing leader Juan Bosch from returning to power (Operation Powerpack), after he had be removed in a coup in 1963. The US installed Joaquin Balaguer, an associate of the former dictator Trujillo. A period of persecution of suspected communists ensues.
1965 Laos [Major military intervention] using airstrikes, thru 1973. More bombs are dropped on Laos villages by the US military than during all of WWII. Tens of thousands were killed. 11,000 more have died since then after encountering unexploded cluster bomblets.
1964 Vietnam [Major military intervention] to support the military government of South Vietnam against left-wing uprising, supported by North Vietnam. Continued thru 1975 with an estimated several million killed.
1964 Bolivia Assisted coup, removing left-wing leader Victor Paz, replacing him with military general Rene Barrientos. Hundreds killed in the break-up of the miners’ unions.
1964 Chile Implemented a massive propaganda campaign to prevent the election of left-wing leader Salvador Allende.
1963 Vietnam Assisted coup, removing and killing the dictator Ngo Dinh Diem, replacing him with a series of military governments.
1963 Dominican Republic Assisted coup, removing democratically elected left-wing leader Juan Bosch, replacing him with the military.
1963 Guatemala Initiated coup, removing democratically elected Miguel Ydigoras, installing military colonel Enrique Peralta, who immediately kills opposition and union leaders.
1962 Angola Assisted Portugal in violent suppression of independence movement.
1962 South Africa Provided information to South Africa directly leading to the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.
1961 Dominican Republic Assisted in the assassination of right-wing dictator and former ally Raphael Trujillo, eventually replacing him with Joaquin Balaguer. US military is used to control revolutionaries.
1961 Cuba Attempted military invasion at the Bay of Pigs; failed.
1960 Guatemala Used airstrikes to put down a rebellion against the US-supported military regime.
1960 Laos Assisted coup, removing neutralist leader Souvanna Phouma.
1960 Zaire Assisted coup, overthrowing and assassinating left-wing leader Patrice Lumumba and installing military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled thru 1997 with unparalleled corruption, embezzlement, and torture.
1959 Haiti Military assisted dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier in putting down a rebellion.
1959 Cuba Assisted airstrikes by Cuban exiles in Florida against Cuban industries, and carries out various attacks on Cuban economic targets during the next ten years.
1959 Laos Assisted removal of democratically-elected left-wing members of the National Assembly.
1958 Lebanon [Major military intervention] (Operation Blue Bat) to support the pro-US leader Camille Chamoun.
1957 Indonesia Initiated airstrikes to support rebels seeking to overthrow left-wing leader Sukarno.
1954 Vietnam Assisted the dictator Ngo Dinh Diem in maintaining power and purging suspected communists. Over 12,000 are killed.
1954 Guatemala Military invasion to overthrow democratically-elected left-wing leader Jacobo Arbenz, replacing him with Castillo Armas (Operation PBSUCCESS). This led to the military repression of suspected communists that killed over 200,000 civilians during the next 40 years.
1953 Iran Instigated coup, removing democratically-elected left-wing leader Mohammad Mosaddegh, replacing him with the dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Operation Ajax).
1950 Vietnam Assisted the French in fighting against Vietnamese independence.
1945 Japan [Major military intervention] Ended WWII by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing approximately 200,000 civilians.