In pursuance of its expansionist and hegemonic agenda, the United States has been in the business of regime change in foreign countries for a long time. As the US economic and military power grew over the past two centuries, so did its ambitions. Monroe Doctrine, declared by US President James Monroe in December, 1823, was an initial indication of the US hegemonic designs in the Western Hemisphere. After its emergence as a world power at the end of the19th century, the US gave a broader interpretation to the Monroe Doctrine to assert that the Western Hemisphere was its exclusive sphere of influence. President Theodore Roosevelt further expanded the scope of the Doctrine in 1904 through the Roosevelt Corollary which stated that in cases of flagrant and chronic wrongdoing by a Latin American country, the United States could intervene in that country’s internal affairs.

Guided by its hegemonic ambitions, the US declared war on Spain in 1898, expelling it from the Western Hemisphere and acquiring Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; threatened Germany and Britain with war in 1902 unless they agreed to settle their disputes with Venezuela on American terms; and supported an insurrection in Colombia in 1903 to create a new country, Panama, in order to build a canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. American military intervened in Latin America 21 times in the thirty years following the announcement of the Roosevelt Corollary.

Washington’s interference in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, prompted by the desire to promote US economic and strategic interests, has not ceased by any means even in the post-World War II era. American opposition to the Cuban revolution, which succeeded in 1958 under the leadership of Fidel Castro, is a case in point. US covert role in the overthrow of the elected government of President Allende of Chile in 1973 and the establishment of military rule under General Pinochet is quite well-known. The US invaded Panama in December 1989-January 1990 in violation of its obligations under the Charters of the UN and OAS to overthrow the government of Manuel Noriega. The current US campaign to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela should also be seen against the background of earlier US attempts to maintain its hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.

Washington’s overt and covert operations to tame foreign governments or to bring about regime changes in pursuance of its hegemonic agenda have not remained confined to Latin America. Countries in other regions have also borne the brunt of these operations. Closer to home was the case of Iran where the elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown in August 1953 through a covert operation orchestrated primarily by the CIA. Latest documents made public by the US authorities provide interesting information about the role played by Iranian army generals, clergy and hired demonstrators in overthrowing Mossadegh and restoring Mohammad Reza Shah to the throne.

The overthrow of the government of Mohamad Morsi, the first democratically elected President of Egypt, by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013 is another interesting example of the US modus operandi for overthrowing foreign governments covertly even if they have been duly elected. It was well-known that President Morsi was not in the good books of the US because of his Islamist background. Soon after his election in 2012, the Egyptian army, which historically has had close links with the Pentagon, put in action a plan to destabilize Morsi’s government politically and criticize its economic performance through a sustained media campaign leading to Morsi’s ouster a year later. Latest reports indicate that Israel played an important role in orchestrating the military coup against Morsi with US blessings. This might also explain why the White House under President Obama refused to declare the military take-over by General el-Sisi as a military coup.

Under President Trump, the US has reinvigorated its overt and covert efforts to bring about regime change in Iran by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, weakening it economically through onerous economic sanctions, destabilizing it politically, and isolating it externally. Tehran, of course, is fighting back through pro-active diplomacy to secure support at regional and global levels. In the long run, however, it is Iran’s domestic political stability and the condition of its economy which will decide its future in the face of Washington’s attempts to bring it in line with the demands of the US strategy. US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively provide other examples of US regime change policies.

It is noteworthy that US overt and covert policies for regime change are undertaken against those governments which are perceived to be working against US strategic, security and economic interests. Secondly, without ruling out the use of military power, reliance is now placed increasingly on sophisticated propaganda techniques using electronic and print media as well as social media to undermine the moral authority, legitimacy and popularity of the target government. Thirdly, US exploits NGO’s, especially those benefitting from its funding, to build up domestic opposition against the target government. Fourthly, Washington uses its influence in the military establishment and other important centers of power like the judiciary in foreign countries for drumming up support for its campaign to bring about regime change. Fifthly, covert operations are employed to aggravate internal political instability in the target country and weaken it economically. Sixthly, a diplomatic campaign to isolate the target country at regional and global levels is an essential element in the US regime change policies. The final blow to achieve regime change may come through a coup supported by the judiciary or other centers of power, political implosion, economic collapse, external isolation, or a combination of all of these elements.

A noted American scholar, Graham Allison, in his recent book, “Destined for War”, suggests that for undermining political stability in China US could “use its cyber-capabilities to steal and then leak through third parties inside China damaging truths about past and present abuses, revealing, for example, how its current leaders became wealthy”(p.224). In view of the foregoing analysis, it would be interesting to examine carefully whether the US and its agencies like CIA have been engaged in destabilizing Pakistan politically, undermining its economy, embroiling it in internal and external conflicts, and encouraging institutional clashes in the country at different times in its history.

Without ruling out the importance of domestic factors, the question arises whether it was just a coincidence that after the nuclear tests in May, 1998 despite the US opposition, Nawaz Sharif was overthrown as Prime Minister in 1999? Is there any US involvement in fomenting instability in Balochistan? Is the current economic meltdown in Pakistan the result of a covert US plan to use its enormous economic power and its huge financial clout in international financial institutions like IMF and World Bank to bring Pakistan down on its knees and undermine CPEC for obvious strategic and economic reasons. If the answers to these questions indeed reveal US covert operations to destabilize Pakistan politically and weaken it economically, they would underscore the need for Pakistan’s political and military leadership to unite for defeating American anti-Pakistan conspiracies.A