The US analyst remembered the 50th anniversary of the Chilean military coup, pointing out the power of American propaganda over the global imagination by despising the terror experienced in Chile during the dictatorship that started in 1973, while overstating the US 9/11, at the center of historical attention. “Washington was Al-Qaeda in Chile”, says the intellectual in an exclusive conversation with this report. Exposing CIA documents, confirming the US role in State terrorism lived in Chile at the time
“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” – William J. Casey, CIA Director (1981)
Last September marked 50 years since the violent military coup in Chile, which established the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). State terrorism planned and even funded by another State, the American one, under which more than 40 thousand people were killed and “disappeared,” in addition to more than 200 thousand people exiled according to official data.
The 17 years of military dictatorship have left serious consequences among the Chileans, which have been brought to the present. Without due memory throughout the world except in Chile itself, considering the real proportion of the horror lived in the South American country. And a US “democratic” and “humanitarian interventions” hallmark: no international justice.
From September 11, 1973, when the Chilean Armed Forces surprisingly surrounded and bombed the Palacio de la Moneda, the socialist Head of State Salvador Allende’s presidential home (1970-1973), the Chilean people started to experience “an underground war” that would endure nearly two decades, as told in the 1985 documentary Clandestino en Chile, directed by Miguel Littín.
Salvador Allende, a self-proclaimed Marxist and member of the Socialist Party of Chile, had promised in his presidential campaign to nationalize copper companies, mostly owned by Americans, a big business in Chile. Amidst the Cold War, facing the socialist island of Cuba in permanent revolution, against the historic American imperialism and the ills of the capitalist system, Washington was already expressing concern about Allende’s rise in the southern hemisphere, much before he took office as president of one of the more advanced countries at education in the region.
In the months leading up to the Chilean elections of September 4, 1970, a Friday, won by Allende, the US spent millions of dollars into the South American country in a “spoiling operation,” much of which was propaganda aimed at preventing Allende from taking power and intensifying political polarization among the Chileans.
Chilean general René Schneider opposed that plot: he ended up murdered on October 23, 1970. About that assassination, the CBS News’ 60 Minutes show reported, on September 9, 2001:
In Chile, the assassination of General Schneider remains the historical equivalent of the assassination of John F. Kennedy: a cruel and shocking political crime that shook the nation. In the United States, the murder of Schneider has become one of the most renowned case studies of CIA efforts to “neutralize” a foreign leader who stood in the way of U.S. objectives.
Below, a CIA report from October 23, 1973, declassified in 2000 and published on the National Security Archive (NSA) website, a US non-governmental body, confirms that Schneider’s murder was a plot to overthrow Allende. In this document, the CIA also raises the option of assassinating the newly elected president of Chile.
According to a 1975 US Senate report entitled Secret Action in Chile/1963-1973, the US spent $8 million on secret actions between 1970 and the 1973 coup alone. The newspaper El Mecurio, Chile’s largest and opposed to Allende, received $1,5 million from the CIA.
The US President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) and Henry Kissinger, his national security advisor, saw the new democratically elected president in Chile as a threat to US interests.
The Washington regime tried everything to prevent Allende from taking office. President Nixon acknowledged that he had given instructions to “do anything short of a Dominican-type action” to keep the democratically elected president of Chile from assuming office, according to a White House audio published by the NSA.
All that, in vain: on November 3, 1970, the elected socialist president took power (image above). “Chile voted calmly to have a Marxist-Leninist state, the first nation in the world to make this choice freely and knowingly,” dramatically reported U.S. Ambassador to Chile Edward Korry to the US State Department, in a cable titled “Allende Wins” sent on September 4, 1970.
“We have suffered a grievous defeat; the consequences will be domestic and international; the repercussions will have immediate impact in some lands and delayed effect in others,” wrote the American diplomat. As Kissinger told Nixon by phone about the Chilean military, for the failed coup: “a pretty incompetent bunch”, according to a documented transcript released by the NSA last August.
“The [congressional] election is tomorrow and the [presidential] inauguration is [November] third. What they could have done was prevent the Congress from meeting. But that hasn’t been done. It’s close, but it’s probably too late. “The next move should have been a government takeover [by the military], but that hasn’t happened,” added the powerful US State Secretary, and presidential advisor.
Peter Kornbluh, director of the Chile Documentation Project at the Washington-based U.S. National Security Archive, and author of the book The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, notes that in the conversation between Kissinger and Nixon, “They say nothing that alludes to regret over the assassination of General Schneider; they are totally focused on the incompetence of the Chilean military, which failed to execute the coup to seize power, shut down Congress and block Allende’s inauguration.”
The CIA then began to hold meetings with the Chilean military in order to provoke a coup. The document below from October 23, 1973, declassified in 2000 in the US, and published by the NSA, proves the plot.
“The station [the CIA in Santiago] has done excellent job of guiding Chileans to point today where a military solution is at least an option for them,” is read in the top secret cable reproduced above, which mentions conversations between American officials and Chilean coup plotters for the “military solution” in the South American country.
In this large memo entitled CIA Activities in Chile, the American Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged direct participation in the Chilean coup, and earlier.
“The CIA’s secret operations on Chilean ground date back to the previous decade. It also mentioned the participation of covert agents, and employees of all elements of the Intelligence Community, with respect to the assassination of President Salvador Allende in September 1973. It is believed that he committed suicide.”
All of this, according to an excerpt from the secret cable reproduced below.
In the other passage below, the CIA said that,
“In the 1960s and 1970s, as part of the US government’s policy of trying to influence events in Chile, the CIA undertook specific secret projects in Chile. (…) The main objective – strongly rooted in the politics of the time – was to discredit political leaders with Marxist tendencies, especially Dr. Salvador Allende, and to strengthen and encourage their civilian and military opponents in order to prevent them from taking power,”
The following excerpt states, too, that “the CIA actively supported the Military Junta after Allende’s overthrow,” and “many Pinochet officials were involved in systematic and widespread human rights abuses after Allende’s overthrow. Some of them were close to or agents of CIA, or US military.”
The following passage points out that “the CIA sought to instigate a coup in order to prevent Allende from assuming power” after the electoral victory of September 4, and before. “The CIA also provided assistance to military right-wing groups to undermine the President and create a tense environment. (…) The CIA worked with three types of plotters”, commenting that everyone had agreed that a military coup should include the assassination of General Schneider because, the CIA then noted, he firmly believed that the Constitution guaranteed Allende the right to assume power, which was evidently a fact. To one of those groups, the “CIA provided tear gas, submachine-guns and ammunition.”
The following excerpt shows that the CIA’s “ongoing propaganda projects, including support for news media committed to creating a positive image for the military Junta” assumed power in Allende’s place. It also mentions “a group of Chileans who collaborated with the CIA in drafting a ‘White Book’, a document with the aim of justifying Allende’s overthrow”. Noting further that the “White Paper” contained claims that “leftists had a secret ‘Plan Z’ to murder the high command in the months leading up to the coup.” And it added: “What the CIA believes was probably disinformation by the Junta.”
A secret memo dated November 16, 1973, sent to Kissinger by the US ambassador to Chile, Jack Kubisch, published on the NSA website (Department of State, Chilean Executions: scroll down the screen), states that summary executions of citizens favorable to Allende in the nineteen days following the coup already totaled 320 on that date – more than three times the number publicly recognized.
Crimes against humanity in the face of Washington’s stance far beyond conniving silence: at the same time, Kubisch reported on the new US economic assistance, recently authorized by the Nixon administration to the Chilean dictatorship. The memo provides information about the Chilean military’s justification for continuing the executions.
This series of top-secret cables issued in 1971 and 1972 by the American Diplomacy in Santiago, released in July 2009 under the NSA title Brazil Conspired with the U.S. to Overthrow Allende, also confirms close Brazilian military dictatorship support to the US when the president was Emilio Garrastazú Médici, for the Chilean coup as well as for other dictator regimes in the region.
“The [Brazilian] regime will not be above using the threat of intervention or tools of diplomacy and covert action to oppose leftist regimes, or keep friendly governments in office, or to help place them there in countries such as Bolivia and Uruguay,” the CIA reported in a 1972 memo.
In response to Brazilian support, according to “a certain CIA document, President Nixon promised” help to Brazil whenever and in everything possible.
The governmental Archivo Nacional de Chile records that, “From September 11, 1973, the civil-military dictatorship began to strictly apply the National Security Doctrine, classifying Chileans as internal enemies, dangerous subjects, Marxists, or terrorists just for thinking differently. The exile and uprooting of thousands of compatriots was another tool of the regime to systematically violate human rights, and impose its ‘Cleansing’ Operation’ across the country.”
The Memoria Chilena website, from the National Library of Chile, recalls the sea of blood that became Santiago’s National Stadium, from the first moments after Allende’s overthrow:
“Thousands of men were confined to the National Stadium, while their wives and families gathered outside to find out what conditions they were in. Inside, the detainees were subjected to electrical torture and beatings, psychological harassment, poor nutrition, and overcrowding situations that led to the death of several dozen of them [in a very short period of time]. The places of detention were changing rooms, living rooms, and bathrooms. The periods of confinement in the facilities varied: some were released after a few weeks, others were transferred to concentration camps.”
Under the title Henry Kissinger’s Documented Legacy, the NSA published in May 2023 a series of documents about the activities of the then-American Secretary of State during the first years of the military dictatorship in Chile, including Kissinger’s private meeting with Pinochet, which until then was kept under a State secret.
“A Declassified Dossier on HAK’s Controversial Historical Legacy, on His 100th Birthday Archive Posts Revealing Records of Kissinger’s Role in Secret Bombing Campaigns in Cambodia, Illegal Domestic Spying, Support for Dictators and Dirty Wars Abroad” is read in the subtitle of the publications on the US non-governmental website.
Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State during the Republican administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (1974-1977), and served as Nixon’s assistant for national security.
In June 1976, when the military coup in Chile was about to reach its third anniversary and the American president was Ford, Kissinger secretly visited Pinochet, congratulating him on his “great service to the West in overthrowing Allende,” according to a documented transcript.
At that meeting, the American official, whose advisors in the US had recommended that he press on the Chilean dictator on human rights violations, also told Pinochet: “We want to help, not undermine you. We are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here,”
Much remains to be revealed on the United States’ involvement in Chile’s military coup, and its subsequent support for Pinochet’s bloody dictatorship: the CIA is reluctant to release the complete files on the issue.
The 9/11 in Chile, closely supported by the Washington regime, had unwanted consequences for the Chileans. Contacted by this report to comment on the anniversary of the military coup in Chile, Noam Chomsky regrets that the Chilean 9/11 has been forgotten in the region and ignored throughout the world, as a serious state terrorism sponsored by a foreign government. This is due to what the American intellectual considers a byproduct of American media imposition, “the United States’ backyard” as many in the US consider, or even openly say.
US academic stated, exclusively for this report:
“This year, I gave a talk [*] in Chile on the 50th anniversary of the first 9/11, by any standard incomparably worse than September 2001. Not discussed because Washington was al-Qaeda in Chile.”
“[For the West] there was only one 9/11, in 2001, in New York. Western ignorance on this matter is quite an important fact, of no little significance for today and for the future,” told Chomsky in the lecture to the Chileans via Zoom, fully transcripted at the end of this report.
As repeatedly told by the American Intellectual for this report, US propaganda is so powerful that global societies can’t understand that “the first 9/11, by any standard, is incomparably worse than September 2001.”
“[The fact that] the first 9/11 50 years ago, in September 1973, was incomparably worse than the 9/11 in 2001, is well understood in Chile, of course, where they are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the horror, but not elsewhere, where US propaganda is so powerful that people can’t understand it. Amazing how it’s been suppressed from consciousness. All of this has been erased from history in the US, along with much else like it. A testimony to the efficacy of the power of US propaganda.”
“The first 9/11 was a far more extreme act of terrorism and violence than the one recognized in the West. It was of course terror: State terror,” said Chomsky to the Chileans. “The US was instrumental in preparing the Pinochet coup, rejoiced in its success, and offered enormous diplomatic and material support to the dictatorship that was imposed.”
And added Chomsky, in his lecture via Zoom last May:
“The second 9/11 did not overthrow the US government, installing a vicious dictatorship. The second 9/11 had no lasting effects in the US,” observed the worldwide renowned analyst, author of more than one hundred books, to the Chileans. “In contrast, the effects of the first 9/11 have been drastic. Chile is still now, 50 years later, struggling to overcome the effects of the destruction of the flourishing Chilean democracy, and there is no need for me to say that it is a hard struggle.”
In every aspect, the Chilean 9/11 was much more serious than the American 9/11, as Chomsky pointed out in this report, above. And what’s more: there is much more solid evidence of Washington’s orchestration – a confessed defendant – of the Chilean coup, than the too fragile (to say the least) US 9/11 official version – from a cave in Afghanistan between hemodialysis sessions, Osama bin Laden (who has repeatedly denied the accusations) orchestrated air strikes in the safest places on the planet.
Furthermore, the Afghan state itself never attacked the United States, which would invalidate Washington’s “response” through “Operation Enduring Freedom” in the Central Asian country.
In Chile, as a result of memory and the tireless fight for truth based on the Chilean people’s sense of dignity, more and more former dictators have been convicted: last June, the 92-year-old General Santiago Sinclair was sentenced to 18 years in prison for participating in the Caravan of Death and coordinated the crime of 12 peasants, in addition to soldiers Juan Chiminelli aged 86, Pedro Espinoza aged 90 and Emilio de la Mahotiere aged 86, all for their participation in the aforementioned massacre. Despite their high ages, the former dictators have been behind bars.
It is worth remembering that former dictator Augusto Pinochet died in 2006 in prison, at the age of 91, sentenced to life imprisonment.
Last September, several other US lawmakers introduced a resolution that apologizes for the role the United States played in the toppling of the Latin American nation’s democratically elected government.
In 2002, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon issued an order seeking to interrogate Kissinger in London, as a witness to an investigation into alleged human rights crimes committed by former South American military dictatorships, especially over his alleged involvement in “Operation Condor,” a scheme by former military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, to persecute and eliminate their opponents during the 1970s and 1980s. As predicted, Garzon’s try ended up in nothing.
Kissinger opposes Universal Jurisdiction, arguing that it is a breach of each state’s sovereignty since, he argues, all states are equal in sovereignty as affirmed by the United Nations Charter.
“Widespread agreement that human rights violations and crimes against humanity must be prosecuted has hindered active consideration of the proper role of international courts. Universal jurisdiction risks creating universal tyranny — that of judges,” wrote the former US Secretary of State in the American magazine Foreign Affairs, in an article titled The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction. Nothing could be more pathetic. Predicted, coming from a dangerous international criminal.
Asked by this report about the possibilities of internationally punishing the US for the Chilean military coup, and the serious crimes during the 17 years that followed it in the country, Chomsky believes that “it’s not clear that there is any established framework for suing the US for its crimes, though in the case of some enemy state, legal teams could doubtless contrive one.”
He cites as an example the case in which exactly one Latin American country filed international litigation against the United States, winning the case. “There is an established legal framework for bringing charges against states for crimes: the International Court of Justice“, says the American analyst.
There have been several treaties approved and improved over the decades since the establishment of the Nuremberg Trials, a landmark in international law that punished the Nazis after the Second World War.
In this sense, Chomsky notes that there is an established legal framework for bringing charges against States for crimes: the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Nicaragua pursued that path in the 1980s and won its case. The ICJ condemned the US for “unlawful use of force” and ordered it to pay substantial reparations. The US responded by escalating the criminal attack while the press dismissed the Court as a “hostile forum,” as proven by the fact that it dared to condemn the US,” points out to this report Chomsky.
Nicaragua sued the United States in 1984 for “paramilitary activities on Nicaraguan soil, and against the Nicaraguan State”, the worldwide known as Iran-Contra “affair” (one of the worst scandals in history, involving a government), that threw then-US President Ronald Reagan into the mud of history.
The Central-American country won the case in June 1986, based on articles of the law on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, rules of international law that regulate the responsibility of States, among other things defining that:
“A state violates international law when it commits an ‘internationally wrongful act – a breach of an international obligation that the state was bound by at the time when the act took place. A state is bound to act according to international treaties it signed [emphasis added].”
Article 36 determines that “the State responsible for an internationally wrongful act is under an obligation to give satisfaction for the injury caused by that act.”
The United States is under that treaty, as well as UN member members. The military coup in Chile 50 years ago, was one of the most violent crimes in the history of Latin American states, as much as the state terrorism that would last 17 years, initiated by Pinochet at the time.
Especially about Kissinger, it’s worth pointing out Article 8 of that treaty, which says:
“The conduct of a person or group of persons shall be considered an act of a State under international law if the person or group of persons is in fact acting on the instructions of, or under the direction or control of, that State in carrying out the conduct.”
In 1970, former Italian jurist Roberto Ago at the ICJ (1979-1995), responsible for establishing the basic structure and guidance of the State accountability project, wrote in the Yearbook of the UN International Law Commission, about the articles of law of the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts:
“The principles governing the responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, maintaining a strict distinction between this task and the task of defining rules that impose obligations on States, the violation of which may give rise to liability… It is one thing to define a rule and the content of the obligation that it imposes, and another thing is to determine whether this obligation has been violated, and what the consequences of the violation should be.”
The issues put by Noam Chomsky on the Chilean military dictatorship and the US involvement in it, resume the discussion about the role that Washington historically plays in Latin American “democracy” – and the indigestible, urgent question: which lives are worth more?
* Below, the Noam Chomsky’s full talk to the Chileans last May:
This is the season of anniversaries. The 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, the 50th anniversary of the agreement to end the war in Vietnam, and the 50th anniversary of the first 9/11, the Chilean 9/11.
We learn a lot about the likely future by asking how these events are being commemorated by the most powerful country in world history and its allies.
Let’s start with the first 9/11. If I were to mention that in the US, or most of the West, few would have any idea what I’m talking about. There was only one 9/11, in 2001, in New York. Western ignorance on this matter is quite an important fact, of no little significance for today and for the future.
By any measure, the first 9/11 was a far more extreme act of terrorism and violence than the one recognized in the West. It was of course terror: State terror. The US was instrumental in preparing the Pinochet coup, rejoiced in its success and offered enormous diplomatic and material support to the dictatorship that was imposed.
Let’s turn to comparisons of the two 9/11s. The right way to compare their impact is in per capita terms: The US population in 2001 was about 30 times the Chilean population in 1973.
Suppose then that the toll in the US had been comparable to the first 9/11. That would mean 150,000 deaths and practically a million victims of torture. The second 9/11 was bad enough, but nothing remotely like that.
That’s considering only raw numbers. There was far more than that. The second 9/11 did not overthrow the US government, installing a vicious dictatorship. The second 9/11 had no lasting effects in the US. It had major effects in the central Asia-Middle East region, not attractive ones, but that’s a separate story.
In contrast, the effects of the first 9/11 have been drastic. Chile is still now, 50 years later, struggling to overcome the effects of the destruction of the flourishing Chilean democracy, and there is no need for me to say that it is a hard struggle.
Let’s turn to the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam peace agreement. Four years later, in 1977, President Carter was asked in a press conference whether the US owed some debt to Vietnam for the slaughter, ruin, and wreckage – which still persists as children die from the massive US chemical warfare in South Vietnam, always the main target of the US assault, the worst crime since World War II.
Carter responded by saying that we owe Vietnam “no debt” because “the destruction was mutual.”
Recall that Carter was unique among US presidents in his concern for human rights, and after leaving office compiled an honorable record, unmatched in presidential history, or the history of other imperial states.
Carter’s reaction to the Vietnam crimes elicited no comment in the mainstream, for good reasons. It was the norm in liberal opinion. At the war’s end in 1975, the most extreme opponents of the war in the US media wrote that the war began with “blundering efforts to do good,” but it turned out to be a mistake, because the US couldn’t bring democracy to Vietnam at a cost acceptable to itself.
I won’t insult your intelligence by comparing this comment with the very well documented facts.
Let’s turn to the third anniversary, the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the worst crime of this century. There was an interview with the perpetrator, President George W. Bush. In the Washington Post, one of the two national newspapers. In the Style section. He was portrayed as a lovable grandpa, playing happily with his grandchildren and showing off the portraits he painted of famous people he had met.
Again, no comment, apart from those who find him just adorable, like Michelle Obama, who said “I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man. He’s a funny man.”
Not everyone in the world laughs.
The US government officially commemorated the 20th anniversary. One of the most horrendous atrocities of the invasion was the murderous attack on Fallujah, destroying one of Iraq’s most beautiful cities with unknown numbers of civilian deaths: an imperial aggressor does not bother to calculate such trivialities as the toll of its depredations.
To commemorate the crimes in Fallujah, the US Navy commissioned its newest assault vessel, naming it the USS Fallujah, with an eloquent statement about the heroism of the marines who carried out this noble effort.
Such things are not reported in the mainstream US media, but it’s a free country so you can read about it in the margins, if you can find them.
You can also read the reaction of Iraqis, who were not amused. Journalist Nabil Salih writes that “US savagery didn’t end” with the wholesale massacre of women and children and “showering Fallujah in depleted uranium and white phosphorus… Twenty years and incalculable birth defects later, the US navy is naming one of its warships the USS Fallujah… This is how the US Empire continues its war against Iraqis. Fallujah’s name, bleached in white phosphorus implanted in mothers’ wombs for generations, is a spoil of war, too… What is left is the haunting absence of family members, homes bombed into nonexistence and photographs incinerated along with the smiling faces. Instead, a lethally corrupt system of cross-sectarian camaraderie-in-theft was bequeathed to us by the unpunished war criminals of Downing Street and the Beltway,” London and Washington, the first great western democracies.
You may compare all of this with the flood of infuriated rhetoric about Vladimir Putin, who ranks alongside Hitler as the most evil figure in history. Again, I will not insult your intelligence by commenting.
Why the difference in reaction in all of these cases? It was explained simply by the great Indian novelist and activist Arundhati Roy, commenting on the reaction in India to the impassioned pronouncements in the West about the cosmic struggle between democracy and autocracy in Ukraine: “Ukraine is certainly not seen here as something with a clear moral tale to tell. When brown or black people get bombed or shocked-and-awed, it does not matter, but with white people it is supposed to be different.”
This too is unintelligible in civilized western circles, where racism is so deeply embedded that it cannot be noticed. Reflecting on these matters, we learn some more about the likely prospects for the future.
Let’s turn to some other instructive lessons of recent history. Why was the US so intent on destroying Chilean democracy and instituting a horrific reign of terror, then celebrating it with high praise and lavish support?
The answer was given by Henry Kissinger, the leading figure in the crime – one of the many triumphs of one of the great mass murderers of recent history, and the most honored in the West. Kissinger explained that Allende’s Chile was a virus that might infect others: its success in bringing about social democracy by parliamentary means might encourage others, facing similar repression, to do the same, and the regime of US domination might be seriously eroded.
Kissinger was not inventing anything new. He was repeating one of the leading doctrines of imperial violence. The great statesmen of Europe had the same concern about the American revolution 240 years ago, to take one example. Another, more recent, is the US decision to go to war with Vietnam in 1950. Internal records reveal the same concern: a successful independent Vietnam would be a virus that might infect the region, undermining the postwar neocolonial order that the US was then constructing.
How can one deal with a virus that spreads contagion? Simple. You destroy the virus and inoculate potential victims. That is the actual history of the 25 year-long US war against Vietnam. The assault virtually destroyed the virus: Vietnam survived, but not as a model of successful independent development. The region was successfully inoculated by installation of vicious dictatorships. The final success was in resource-rich Indonesia, which had been a major target for US subversion because of its independence.
In 1965, the problem of Indonesia was solved. The US-backed Suharto coup destroyed the parliamentary government, murdered hundreds of thousands of people, demolished the main political party — a party of the poor — and opened the country to free exploitation by western capital.
In retrospect, Kennedy-Johnson National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, one of the main architects of the Vietnam slaughter, reflected that it might have been wise to end the war in 1965, after the Suharto coup. The virus was already smashed and the ring of US-backed dictatorships prevented any threat that the virus of successful independent development might spread. The US had achieved its major war aims. What followed was unnecessary.
These are more observations that are correct, but incomprehensible in well-disciplined western societies. The standard view is that the US lost the war – meaning that it only achieved its major war aims, but did not achieve anything like the conquest of the Philippines in the early 20th century, or many similar exploits.
Chileans were well aware of the Indonesian massacres. They may remember the warnings that “Jakarta is coming” as the ground was being prepared for the Pinochet coup.
The same logic applied in the case of the Allende virus. The virus was destroyed by the coup inspired by Nixon and Kissinger, and surrounding regions were inoculated by imposition of neoNazi-style National Security States.
The Pinochet coup was a late comer. The process was already underway, in reaction to another virus spreading contagion: Cuba. A year after Cuba’s liberation in January 1959, in March 1960, the Eisenhower administration secretly determined to overthrow the government.
There were reasons, the usual ones: the virus concern. One of the good things about the United States is that it is a very free and open society, by comparative standards. We have a rich documentary record of internal planning. We learn from it that the CIA informed the White House that overthrow of the Castro regime “was the key to all of Latin America; if Cuba succeeds, we can expect most of Latin America to fall.” The State Department Policy Planning Council soon expanded on these concerns: “the primary danger we face in Castro,” it concluded, is “in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half” – that is, back to the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted Washington’s intention and right to dominate the hemisphere.
Other top planners understood as well, including Chile’s torturers. Nixon’s National Security Council warned that if we cannot control our own backyard in Latin America, we will not be able “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world”: that is, to impose our rule over the world. Henry Kissinger elaborated while expressing his support for Reagan’s terrorist wars in Central America: “if we cannot manage Central America, it will be impossible to convince threatened nations in the Persian Gulf and in other places that we know how to manage the global equilibrium”; to translate into accurate language, we will not be able to rule the world effectively – always for the good of mankind, by definition.
Kissinger’s concerns about US control of the Middle East energy-producing regions echoed an old refrain in US policy-making circles. As World War II ended, and the US prepared to run the post-war world, the State Department described these regions as one of the greatest material prizes in world history, the strategically most important region of the world. Controlling these regions will provide Washington with “substantial control of the world,” in the words of the influential planner A.A. Berle, a prominent figure in the Roosevelt and later liberal administrations.
It’s worth remembering that the US is a global empire. Policies implemented in one region are commonly duplicated in others. The US has global responsibilities, as Kissinger put it; allies have only regional responsibilities. That has been Washington’s role ever since it took over global management from Britain after World War II, though with far greater scope and ambitions.
The Kennedy Administration responded at once to Cuba’s crime of successful defiance of US imperial policy. The first step was the Bay of Pigs invasion. When that failed, Kennedy launched a major terrorist war to bring “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba, in the words of his close confidant and Latin America adviser, liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger. Kennedy also imposed a sanctions regime of unprecedented savagery, which still persists.
Irrelevantly, the sanctions regime is opposed by the entire world. That fact is illustrated every year in the annual vote on the sanctions at the UN General Assembly. Opposition is unanimous, apart from the US and Israel, which is forced to vote with its protector. That irrelevance is barely reported, and is of no concern to the imperial hegemon. US allies who oppose the sanctions nevertheless obey them. It is not wise to offend the Godfather.
There should be no need to review the details of this exercise in international sadism.
Kennedy also understood standard imperial logic: when there is a virus that spreads contagion, you must not only destroy the virus but also inoculate victims. Accordingly, in 1962 Kennedy changed the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” to “internal security.”
The US of course was able to determine the mission of the Latin American military, a routine matter.
Hemispheric defense was an anachronism, a holdover from World War II. Internal security, in contrast, is no joke. In the Latin American context, it means war against the civilian population. The predictable consequences were described by Charles Maechling, who led U.S. counterinsurgency and internal defense planning in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Kennedy’s 1962 decision, he wrote, shifted the US stand from toleration “of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military” to “direct complicity” in their crimes, to US support for “the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads.”
The first major target was Brazil. In 1964, a military coup overthrew the parliamentary government and established the first of the murderous dictatorships that spread over the continent with a hideous plague of repression. All were strongly supported, in some cases virtually created, by the US government.
The Brazilian coup was lauded by Kennedy-Johnson Ambassador Lincoln Gordon, who hailed it as “the most decisive victory for freedom in the mid-twentieth century.” It was, he said, a “democratic rebellion” that would help in “restraining left-wing excesses” and should “create a greatly improved climate for private investment.”
Gordon went on to become the president of John’s Hopkins, one of the great US universities.
The pattern resounded through the hemisphere. Chile was only one victim. The plague reached Central America in the Reagan years, ending in 1989 with the murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, by the elite Atlacatl brigade, fresh from renewed training by US special forces, on direct orders of the top military command, which was always in close contact with the US Embassy.
Few Americans even know the names of the murdered priests. Or have any awareness of the grisly record. That is another testimony to the success of deep indoctrination in free societies, what is sometimes called “brainwashing under freedom.” It is routine, and with severe consequences.
The great American novelist and anti-war activist Mark Twain wrote long ago that “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”
It is all rather like England, the first great modern democracy. In England, George Orwell wrote, “unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.” One device is a good education, which inculcates the understanding that there are certain things “it wouldn’t do to say”—or even to think.
His essay, intended as the introduction to his famous book Animal Farm, was not published.
Latin America now, once again, has an opportunity to escape from its troubled history of internal violence and repression, and subjugation to external power. The recent elections in Chile, Colombia, Argentina, most recently Brazil, offer renewed hope. Renewed, because there have been hopes before that have been dashed by Latin America’s twin demons.
There is a famous adage in Mexico about the twin demons, the roots of the country’s failed promise: Mexico is too close to the United States, and too far from God.
The former phrase – too close to the United States – is self-explanatory in the light of history. We can understand the latter phrase – too far from God — to refer to Mexico’s internal malady, that of Latin America more generally. The malady is highlighted by comparison of Latin America with East Asia. By objective measures, Latin America seems to have every advantage over East Asia: abundant natural resources, no external enemies, a rich intellectual culture.
Why then the radical differences in development in the past years? Half a century ago, South Korea was at the level of a poor African country. Today it is one of the world’s leading industrial powers. Taiwan emerged from harsh repression to become not only a vibrant democracy but the world’s leader in production of the computer chips that are the core of the modern economy. Much the same is true throughout the region — with the notable exception of the Philippines, the one country that has not freed itself from the bitter legacy of the murderous US conquest 120 years ago.
Latin America, despite its advantages, lags well behind.
The paradox has been investigated by distinguished international economists. They identify one primary way in which Latin America is too far from God, metaphorically speaking: its elites have escaped public control, and show little responsibility for their countries.
In East Asia, imports are capital goods, and foreign investment is directed by national planning to targeted development goals. In Latin America, imports are luxury goods for the wealthy, and investment is for resource extraction. The rich in Latin America export capital freely. In East Asia, it has been banned, and could face severe penalties. Capital is directed to economic development. There are many similar divergences.
While these are broad brushstrokes, they nevertheless have considerable validity.
In the emerging global system, Latin America has the opportunity to free itself from being too close to the United States. There are moves towards a more diverse system of global order, towards a kind of multipolarity. During Lula’s first two terms in office, Brazil became a major actor on the world scene, highly regarded in much of the world for its initiatives. There are early signs that this status might be recovered, along with the initiatives towards cooperation and mutual support among the countries of Latin America: among them UNASUR, more broadly CELAC, the forthcoming EU-CELAC summit, enhanced commercial and diplomatic relations with China.
Elsewhere in the world there are also indications of diffusion of traditional power centers. A dramatic recent example is the China-brokered accord between Iran and Saudi Arabia, previously bitter enemies, an accord that might end the horrific proxy war in Yemen, one of the major humanitarian catastrophes of recent years. It is a move towards peace that throws a wrench into long-standing US policy, eliciting much concern in high places.
Internal to Latin America, recent developments once again offer some hope of dealing with the maladies that have poisoned what should be prosperous and flourishing societies – though not without dedicated struggle, as the people of Chile know all too well.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Edu Montesanti