Friday, March 21, 2008

dd-c07-s01

Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
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C H A P T E R   S E V E N

The Victors

From Z Magazine, November 1990, January 1991.

According to the conventional picture, the U.S. has won the Cold War. Righteousness has triumphed over evil with the victory of democracy, free market capitalism, justice and human rights. As standard bearer of the cause, the United States now leads the way to a New World Order of peace, economic development, and cooperation among those who have seen the light, virtually everyone except for some holdouts like Cuba which still complains that the Third World isn't getting its due -- or Saddam Hussein, despite our dedicated efforts to improve his behavior by the carrot rather than the stick, an error of judgment to be rectified by the sword of the righteous avenger.

We have inquired into the validity of this picture from several points of view. Another natural approach is to have a look at the traditional domains of Western power and ask how their people fare at this historic moment, as they contemplate the victory of their side in the Cold War conflict. We may ask how they are celebrating the triumph of liberal capitalism and democracy, as they evidently should be, if the standard version is to be taken seriously.

1. The Fruits of Victory: Central America

Few regions of the world have been so dominated by a great power as Central America, which emerged from its usual oblivion in the 1980s, moving to center stage as the traditional order faced an unexpected challenge with the growth of popular movements, inspired in part by the new orientation of the Church towards "a preferential option for the poor." After decades of brutal repression and the destructive impact of the U.S. aid programs of the 1960s the ground was prepared for meaningful social change. The mood in Washington darkened further with the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship.

The reaction was vigorous and swift: violent repression, which decimated popular organizations. The ranks of the small guerrilla organizations swelled as state terror mounted. "The guerrilla groups, the revolutionary groups, almost without exception began as associations of teachers, associations of labor unions, campesino unions, or parish organizations..." with practical and reformist goals, ex-Ambassador Robert White testified before Congress in 1982. The same point was made by the assassinated Salvadoran Jesuit intellectual Father Ignacio Mart¡n-Baró, among many others.1

A decade later, the United States and its local allies could claim substantial success. The challenge to the traditional order was effectively contained. The misery of the vast majority had deepened while the power of the military and the privileged sectors was enhanced behind a façade of democratic forms. Some 200,000 people had been killed. Countless others were maimed, tortured, "disappeared," driven from their homes. The people, the communities, the environment were devastated, possibly beyond repair. It was truly a grand victory.

Elite reaction is one of gratification and relief. "For the first time, all five of the countries are led by presidents who were elected in contests widely considered free and fair," Washington Post Central America correspondent Lee Hockstader reports from Guatemala City, expressing the general satisfaction over the victory of "conservative politicians" in elections which, we are to understand, took place on a level playing field with no use of force and no foreign influence. It is true, he continues, that "conservative politicians in Central America traditionally represented the established order," defending the wealthy "despite their countries' grossly distorted income patterns." "But the wave of democracy that has swept the region in recent years appears to be shifting politicians' priorities," so the bad old days are gone forever.2

The student of American history and culture will recognize the familiar moves. Once again, we witness the miraculous change of course that occurs whenever some particularly brutal excesses of the state have been exposed. Hence all of history, and the reasons for its persistent character, may be dismissed as irrelevant, while we march forward, leading our flock to a new and better world.

The Post news report does not merely assert that the new conservatives are dedicated populists, unlike those whom the U.S. used to support in the days of its naiveté and inadvertent error, now thankfully behind us. It goes on to provide evidence for this central claim. The shift of priorities to a welcome populism is demonstrated by the outcome of the conference of the five presidents in Antigua, Guatemala, just completed. The presidents, all "committed to free-market economics," have abandoned worthless goals of social reform, Hockstader explains. "Neither in the plan nor in the lengthier and more general `Declaration of Antigua' was there any mention of land reform or suggestion of new government social welfare programs to help the poor." Rather, they are adopting "a trickle-down approach to aid the poor." "The idea is to help the poor without threatening the basic power structure," a regional economist observes, contemplating these imaginative new ideas on how to pursue our vocation of serving the suffering masses.


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1 White, cited in Schoultz, National Security and United States Policy, 91. Mart¡n-Baró, see chapter 12, pp. 386f.

2 Hockstader, WP, June 20, 1990. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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