Using evidence from various truth commissions, Professor Gareau, of Florida State University, presents detailed country studies. In El Salvador in 1980-91, 75,000 people were killed, of whom the government, its army, the National Guard and its death squads, killed 95%. The US gave El Salvador's state $6 billion, supporting the terror.
In Guatemala in 1962-96, the state's forces killed more than 90% of the 200,000 people killed. In Chile after the coup of 11 September 1973, the state, again, killed more than 95% of those killed. In Argentina in 1976-83, 8,960 were killed. In Colombia in 1986-95, 45,000 were killed, again 95% by the army and death squads.
Between 1980 and 1988 the South African state killed 1.5 million people in neighbouring countries. Indonesia's army killed at least 1.5 million people in 1965, 1975 and 1999: the US state supported elections on the back of these massacres.
In every case, the US state backed the state terrorism before, during and after it was committed. Gareau cites three studies proving that the more a state violated its citizens' rights, the more US aid it received.
This was state terrorism, not even-handed civil wars with half the violence committed by one side and half by the other. It was counter-revolutionary murder by US-equipped, US-trained armed forces against people with hardly any means of self-defence.
Why this one-sided ferocity? US military training teaches recruits to use pre-emptive terrorism - 'do it to them before they do it to us'. It tells recruits that the enemy will torture and kill them, take no prisoners and show no respect for the laws of war.
Gareau sums up, "Washington has the right, indeed the duty, to defend the United States against terrorism. The question arises as to how it should do this. ... the way the Bush administration has chosen ... is immoral, illegal, overly belligerent, and in many ways counterproductive."
This account of US interventions shows that its brutal and lawless occupation of Iraq is no aberration. Hopes that, this time, US intervention will bring democracy and independence are self-deception and delusion.