That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
-Declaration of Independence
These words, which some might suggest are the most important words in the Declaration of Independence suggest that when a people are being overtly oppressed and placed “under absolute Despotism” that they ought to throw off that government and institute a new one. Whether or not these lines apply simply to the American people or to the people of the world is a difficult question to answer. However, history has shown that Americans have applied these passages to various other countries as a means of world empire. Even today we justify our reasons for going to war on account that the opposing regime is despotic and that the people should be freed to choose their own regime. Yet there is one example in which modern America has yet to take this stance, arguably the most important place for us to attempt such a coup on behalf of the people: Mexico. With the large amounts of illegal and legal immigrants crossing our borders daily it would seem prudent to suggest that the Mexican government has become despotic and that the people have chosen to leave their homeland in search of a security and safety.
Our views towards Mexico have remained the same since the Mexican-American War yet since then we have helped countless countries over throw their regimes in hopes of finding successful allies. To begin the Civil War is not counted among these wars as we never officially recognized the government of the Confederate States of America and the C.S.A. had no right to secede from the Union per the arguments in the Declaration sited above. Instead, the first example comes in the Spanish-American War when the United States, under an agreement with the Spanish colony of Cuba, agreed to help overthrow Spanish rule in Cuba and give the Cubans their unconditional freedom: some will argue that this was the dumbest mistake the United States has ever made. Among other countries we helped to free from under Spanish tyranny include the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Of these only Puerto Rico and Guam remain under U.S. control as commonwealths, while the Philippines is an independent country with close ties to the United States.
The Spanish American War was partially influenced by Progressive ideas that every country should be given the opportunity to self-determination, which ultimately meant a parliamentary style democracy. This is most blatantly seen in America’s causes for going to war with Germany in World War I. Rather than going to protect American interests in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson decided we should only go to war to help throw off the reigns of Totalitarianism. We helped to create an unstable Democratic German state under the Wiemar Republic, which we all know eventually lead to the rise of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. World War II for France and Great Britain came under the flag of granting Polish freedom (which wouldn’t be attained until the 1990’s.) For the U.S. states World War II was not necessarily a war to free a people from under despotism, but rather to defend America’s freedom from the Japanese and later the Germans. Ultimately, however, we helped to overthrow a regime that had existed for millennia in Japan and helped to create a free and democratic West Germany.
Less than five years after war ended with Germany and Japan the United States began engagements in two separate nations: Korea and Vietnam. The Korean War was fought by the U.N. with large amounts of U.S. troops. The entire purpose of going to war in Korea was to maintain South Korean independence and democracy from the invading North Koreans, Soviet Union and Chinese. Of the two wars fought in South-East Asia the Korean War is the only one where we succeeded in our goal of creating a stable democracy. To this day the South Korean regime is a model democracy in Far-East Asia. In the late 1940’s then U.S. President Harry S. Truman sent American advisers to Vietnam to advise the French on their efforts. By the 1960’s the French had left Vietnam leaving the United States as the last hope for South Vietnam to maintain a democratic regime. With the assassination of the Diem Brothers by President John F. Kennedy, our efforts to maintain the democratic south was slipping. By 1972 the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam under the condition that if the North attempted to attack the South again we would intervene; the South Vietnamese are still awaiting our help.
Of course the most well-known U.S. sponsored coup in our history happened with Cuba. Following Communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro’s victory in Cuba the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency helped sponsor a group of Cuban Nationals invade the tiny island and overthrow Castro’s new Communist regime. Ultimately the coup failed as the U.S. failed to supply sufficient support for the Cuban Nationals allowing the oppressive and despotic regime of Fidel Castro to rule Cuba until 2008.
This brings us to the 1980s with a little known revolution that took place in a Middle Eastern nation called Afghanistan. The Afghanistan revolt revolved around two parties, one backed by the Soviet Union and the other backed by the United States via Representative Charlie Wilson (D-TX). Our support of freedom fighters called Mujahideen is one of the greatest blunders in our history. The U.S. CIA helped defeat the Soviet Union lead opposition by supplying weapons to the Mujahideen. When the Soviet Union pulled out in 1989 so did the U.S., leaving a devastated Afghanistan and the Taliban with an Anti-American flavor in their mouths.
In the 1990’s the U.S. once again attempted to help overthrow despotic regimes. The U.S. lead invasion of Iraq, in an attempt to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait would have ended with the U.S. lead overthrow of Saddam Hussein but instead the U.N. forced troops to leave having completed their mission. We would eventually return to Iraq only to complete our overthrow of Saddam and his regime. Along the way though President Bill Clinton got the U.S. involved in a number of wars including Kosovo and Bosnia. Kosovo is the only direct evidence of this theme of American involvement in overthrowing regimes. Yet we lead efforts at least three times in the 1990’s to attempt to establish democracies throughout the Middle East and former Soviet Bloc.
By the year 2000 the U.S. was primed to go to war on behalf of other nations once again, this time under President George W. Bush. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while continuations of efforts made in the late 80’s and early 90’s, were also fought under the old Progressive banner of self-determination. To this day the American military has maintained a presence in both nations despite popular American support against the wars. Meanwhile, the U.S. has refused to take similar actions in nations on our own continent including Mexico, and Venezuela (who happens to be the largest U.S. oil supplier in the world.) A simple observation of the Mexican regime makes it clear that it is beyond despotic and that the Mexican people need to overthrow such a regime. But Mexico has a long history of revolution followed by revolution and thus it would be prudent if the U.S. were to engage supporting a new revolution. Or maybe the long history of American involvement in revolutions is a clear indicator that it was only proper for America to revolt back in 1776. We have largely failed in our efforts to provide democratic regimes to the world. This does not mean that the U.S. should back down from securing it’s own boarders against various enemy regimes.
Mexico is a hopeless cause that we should only engage in helping if Mexico becomes a threat to the United States; which it has already become. The United States has just cause for going to war with a country that has been invading it for decades.