Searching for the Holy Grail of Fail? U.S. foreign policy’s got you covered. Here are five U.S.-backed regimes that failed so hard, they totally won.
1. Augusto Pinochet - Chile
When the U.S. orchestrated the overthrow of socialist Salvador Allende to put a stop to—among other things—torture of Chileans and widespread human-rights abuses, who would’ve thought it would lead to 17 years of state-sanctioned torture and brutal oppression at the hands of dictator Augusto Pinochet? This U.S. foreign policy decision was so much FAIL, it was awesome.
2. Right-Wing Junta - El Salvador
How do you defeat the ideological threat posed by communist guerillas? By financing right-wing paramilitary death squads that, bolstered by U.S. funds, raped and massacred thousands, traveling from village to village to spread their ideology. This big time FAIL was definitely a big-time WIN.
3. The Shiite-Led Government - Iraq
The war in Iraq was an epic fail for sure, and even though it’s finished now, the fail just keeps on coming! The government that the U.S. established to replace Saddam Hussein is trying to break the world record in fail, ceding power and strategic interests to extremist militants pretty much on the reg despite a $14 billion U.S. investment to stabilize the country following the troop withdrawal. Gotta hand it to us, when we fail, we fail HARD!
4. Manuel Noriega - Panama
Because he transitioned from CIA operative to the military dictator of Panama, you’d think the U.S. could count on Manuel Noriega to defend its interests. But nope! Between all the extrajudicial killings and large-scale drug trafficking that characterized his regime, the fail reached such epic proportions that the U.S. eventually had to withdraw its support and detain him as a prisoner of war. We’d like to see someone else top this kind of fail! Any takers?
5. The Mujahideen - Afghanistan
Defending American economic interests from Soviet aggression, the Carter and Reagan administrations generously aided Afghan insurgents throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s, perpetuating a grueling decade of war that left over a million Afghans dead and 6 million displaced. But the fail didn’t end there! The disarray provided fertile conditions for the Taliban to rise up and take power, ultimately creating a whole new mess of problems for the U.S. From 1 to 10 on the Fail Scale, this would probably be a 20. EPIC FAIL!