‘We Had Nothing To Do With It’: 7 CIA-Backed Coups Abroad

June 30, 2023 in News by RBN Staff



“We dindu ‘NUFFIN!” 

– Resident jOe BiDEn


Source: Daily Caller


Liberal commentators cheered this weekend as it appeared the walls were closing in on the Putin regime. But the celebrations proved fleeting as the Wagner group’s supposed coup quickly came to an end.

Given President Biden’s lack of transparency since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, his statement on the administration’s lack of involvement in the coup lacked credibility. “We had nothing to do with it,” Biden announced, but many still weren’t buying it.

Some speculated that the U.S., or the CIA in particular, was behind the attempted coup. While we will likely never know what truly happened, CIA involvement is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. In fact, the CIA has a long record of supporting coups in foreign countries. Here’s seven examples:



The CIA declassified documents sixty years later, finally acknowledging its role in the 1953 Iranian coup. Iranians elected Mohammad Mosaddegh as prime minister in 1951, and he moved to nationalize the country’s British-controlled oil production, which was vital to rebuild Europe after World War Two. The CIA also worried Mosaddegh would align Iran with the Soviets. (RELATED: ‘There Wasn’t A Document’: Trump Denies He Had ‘Iran Attack Plan’ At Mar-A-Lago)

This led to a plan to overthrow the Mosaddegh government and reinstate the pro-Western Iranian shah. The documents show how over the course of four days, the CIA planted anti-Mossadegh stories in the Iranian media, whipped up protests and bolstered monarchist forces. The shah reclaimed power, and Mossadegh and his allies were imprisoned. In 1979, the shah was in turn overthrown by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamist movement, leading to the Iran hostage crisis.


The CIA also declassified documents in 1997 admitting its role in the 1954 Guatemalan coup against President Jacobo Arbenz. Arbenz initiated land reforms that clashed with American corporate interests and appeared too friendly toward communism. The CIA helped to arm and train guerrillas under General Carlos Castillo Armas, who then led an invasion to overthrow Arbenz. Given the small number of forces, the CIA also had a $270,000 budget devoted to “psychological warfare and political action” against the Guatemalan public. The coup was ultimately successful and Armas took control of the country with U.S. support.


The CIA led a series of covert operations in the Congo starting in 1960 after decolonization. State Department archives detail how the U.S. orchestrated a coup against the new Prime Minister Patrice Lamumba, after agents on the ground warned he would bring the country under communist control. The secretly-funded operations included “organizing mass demonstrations, distributing anti-Communist pamphlets, and providing propaganda material for broadcasts,” which ultimately helped install a pro-Western military leader. At the recommendation of the CIA, the Kennedy administration later set up a “contingency fund” to maintain operations until 1968. (RELATED: ‘Whole Houses Were Carried Away’: Massive Congo Floods Kill Over 100 People)

Dominican Republic

Rafael Trujillo was a Dominican dictator for over three decades until he was ambushed by political dissidents in 1961. While he was initially friendly with the U.S., the relationship soured over his human rights record and assassination attempt against the president of Venezuela. One of the gunmen later said, “Nobody told me to go and kill Trujillo.” However, the Church Committee revealed that “[m]aterial support, consisting of three pistols and three carbines, was supplied to various dissidents” with CIA approval and that “officials knew that the dissidents intended to overthrow Trujillo, probably by assassination.” (RELATED: State Department Slaps Travel Advisory On The Dominican Republic Over ‘High Level Of Criminality’)

South Vietnam

The U.S.-backed military coup against South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem is likely the most well-known of the seven, after being exposed in the Pentagon Papers. The documents show that the U.S. “authorized CIA participation in the tactical planning of the coup.” A trusted agent on the ground provided $40,000 in expenses to the plotters as well as “vital intelligence about the arms and encampments of pro‐Diem military forces.” President Kennedy “knew and approved of” the plan and was kept “informed every step of the way.” The successful coup ultimately revealed that the situation in the South was worse than expected, leading to deeper U.S. involvement in the war.


The CIA declassified operational documents forty years later revealing that it helped overthrow Brazilian President Joao Gumbert in 1964. U.S. officials feared that Gumbert was turning Brazil into the “China of the 1960’s,” and President Johnson urged “taking every step that we can” to support the coup plotters. The CIA ensured the “clandestine delivery of arms” to support rebels. It also provided “covert support for pro-democracy street rallies…and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business.” Gumbert was ultimately deposed with much less force than the U.S. anticipated and Brazil was controlled by a military junta until 1985.


The CIA also declassified documents on its role leading up to the 1973 coup against Chilean socialist leader Salvador Allende twenty five years later. After Allende’s support became clear in 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream”  in order to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.” The CIA orchestrated covert operations to instigate a military coup, but it ultimately never materialized. Efforts continued to “destabilize” the country and isolate it diplomatically, until Augusto Pinochet led a successful military coup in 1973.

In 2000, the CIA admitted it was “aware of coup-plotting by the military, had ongoing intelligence collection relationships with some plotters, and—because CIA did not discourage the takeover and had sought to instigate a coup in 1970—probably appeared to condone it.” Pinochet ultimately became one of the most murderous dictators in Latin American history.

All of these operations show that the CIA, with support from the highest levels of government, was willing to use any means necessary to overthrow regimes hostile to U.S. interests. It is also clear, however, that the operations often led to greater instability or U.S. entrenchment in the long-run.

While these tactics were justifiable under the existential threat of the Cold War, U.S. interests in Russia today are less clear. It is unlikely we will know the true story of the Wagner coup for decades, if ever. Yet given their track record, if the CIA is involved it is unlikely they have a plan to leave Russia more stable than they found it. In the worst case scenario, a half-baked coup could lead to direct U.S. involvement in Russia for years to come.