Thursday, March 20, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 11: Democracy in the Industrial Societies Segment 6/7
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Washington's intention to resort to violence if free elections come out the wrong way is not very easy to deal with, so it has been generally suppressed, even in the scholarly literature. One of the two major scholarly monographs on this period discusses the NSC memoranda, but with no mention of the actual content of the crucial section; the second passes it by in a phrase.26 In the general literature, the whole matter is unknown.

The CIA operations to control the Italian elections, authorized by the National Security Council in December 1947, were the first major clandestine operation of the newly formed Agency. As noted earlier, CIA operations to subvert Italian democracy continued into the 1970s at a substantial scale.

In Italy too, U.S. labor leaders, primarily from the AFL, played an active role in splitting and weakening the labor movement, and inducing workers to accept austerity measures while employers reaped rich profits. In France, the AFL had broken dock strikes by importing Italian scab labor paid by U.S. businesses. The State Department called on the Federation's leadership to exercise their talents in union busting in Italy as well, and they were happy to oblige. The business sector, formerly discredited by its association with Italian Fascism, undertook a vigorous class war with renewed confidence. The end result was the subordination of the working class and the poor to the traditional rulers. In the major academic study of U.S. labor in Italy, Ronald Filippelli observes that American aid "had largely been used to rebuild Italy on the old basis of a conservative society" in a "rampant capitalist restoration" on the backs of the poor, "with low consumption and low wages," "enormous profits," and no interference with the prerogatives of management. Meanwhile AFL President George Meany angrily rejected criticism of his anti-labor programs on the grounds that freedom in Italy was not the exclusive concern of its own people; the AFL would therefore pursue its higher goal of "strengthening the forces of liberty and social progress all over the world" -- by ensuring that U.S. business interests remain in the ascendant, class collaboration with a vengeance. The result was "a restoration to power of the same ruling class that had been responsible for, and benefited from, fascism," with the working class removed from politics, subordinated to the needs of investors, and forced to bear the burden of the "Miracolo italiano," Filippelli concludes.

The policies of the late 1940s "hit the poorer regions and politically impotent social strata hardest," Harper observes, but they did succeed in breaking "rigid labor markets" and facilitating the export-led growth of the 1950s, which relied on "the continuing weakness and remarkable mobility of the Italian working class." These "happy circumstances," he continues, brought further economic development of a certain kind, while the CIA mounted new multimillion dollar covert funding and propaganda campaigns to ensure that the "felicitous arrangements" would persist.27

Later commentators tend to see the U.S. subversion of democracy in France and Italy as a defense of democracy. In a highly-regarded study of the CIA and American democracy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones describes "the CIA's Italian venture," along with its similar efforts in France, as "a democracy-propping operation," though he concedes that "the selection of Italy for special attention...was by no means a matter of democratic principle alone"; our passion for democracy was reinforced by the strategic importance of the country. But it was a commitment to "democratic principle" that inspired the U.S. government to impose the social and political regimes of its choice, using the enormous power at its command and exploiting the privation and distress of the victims of the war, who must be taught not to raise their heads if we are to have true democracy.28

A more nuanced position is taken by James Miller in his monograph on U.S. policies towards Italy. Summarizing the record, he concludes that

In retrospect, American involvement in the stabilization of Italy was a significant, if troubling, achievement. American power assured Italians the right to choose their future form of government and also was employed to ensure that they chose democracy. In defense of that democracy against real but probably overestimated foreign and domestic threats, the United States used undemocratic tactics that tended to undermine the legitimacy of the Italian state.29
The "foreign threats," as he had already discussed, were hardly real; the Soviet Union watched from a distance as the U.S. subverted the 1948 election and restored the traditional conservative order, keeping to its wartime agreement with Churchill that left Italy in the Western zone. The "domestic threat" was the threat of democracy.

The idea that U.S. intervention provided Italians with freedom of choice while ensuring that they chose "democracy" (in our special sense of the term) is reminiscent of the attitude of the extreme doves towards Latin America: that its people should choose freely and independently, "except when doing so would affect U.S. interests adversely," and that the U.S. had no interest in controlling them, unless developments "get out of control" (see chapter 8, p. 261).

The democratic ideal, at home and abroad, is simple and straightforward: You are free to do what you want, as long as it is what we want you to do.

Go to the next segment.

26 Miller, United States and Italy, 247; Harper, America and the Reconstruction of Italy, 155, noting the NSC recommendation that "In the case of communist victory, there should be military and economic assistance to the pro-Western forces."

27 Harper, op. cit., 164-5.

28 Jeffreys-Jones, The CIA and American Democracy (Yale, 1989), 50-1.

29 Miller, United States and Italy, 274. 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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