Thursday, March 20, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 12: Force and Opinion Segment 18/20
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At home, even tiny groups may be subject to severe repression if their potential outreach is perceived to be too great. During the campaign waged by the national political police against the Black Panthers -- including assassination, instigation of ghetto riots, and a variety of other means -- the FBI estimated the "hard core members" of the targeted organization at only 800, but added ominously that "a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 per cent of the black population has a great respect for the [Black Panther Party], including 43 per cent of blacks under 21 years of age." The repressive agencies of the state proceeded with a campaign of violence and disruption to ensure that the Panthers did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force -- with great success, as the organization was decimated and the remnants proceeded to self-destruct. FBI operations in the same years targeting the entire New Left were motivated by similar concerns. The same internal intelligence document warns that "the movement of rebellious youth known as the 'New Left,' involving and influencing a substantial number of college students, is having a serious impact on contemporary society with a potential for serious domestic strife." The New Left has "revolutionary aims" and an "identification with Marxism-Leninism." It has attempted "to infiltrate and radicalize labor," and after failing "to subvert and control the mass media," has established "a large network of underground publications which serve the dual purpose of an internal communication network and an external propaganda organ." It thus poses a threat to "the civilian sector of our society," which must be contained by the state security apparatus.77

Freedom is fine, but within limits.

In the international arena, tactical choices are bounded narrowly by the fundamental institutional imperatives. Positions along this spectrum are by no means fixed. Thus Henry Kissinger was a dove with regard to China, where he agreed with Richard Nixon that the hard line policy was unproductive and that other measures could draw China into the U.S.-dominated global system. At the same time he was a hawk with regard to the Middle East, supporting Israel's refusal to accept a full-scale peace treaty offered by Egypt and Jordan in early 1971 and blocking State Department moves toward a diplomatic resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, establishing a policy that still prevails and explains much of what is happening in that region today.78 His successor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has a record as an extreme hawk, but in the 1990 crisis in the Gulf he strongly opposed the strategic conception of the Administration, joining those who urged reliance on sanctions rather than seeking a victory through the threat or use of military force, with its likely consequences for U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. There are many other examples.

We can learn a good deal by attention to the range of choices. Keeping just to Latin America, consider the efforts to eliminate the Allende regime in Chile. There were two parallel operations. Track II, the hard line, aimed at a military coup. This was concealed from Ambassador Edward Korry, a Kennedy liberal, whose task was to implement Track I, the soft line; in Korry's words, to "do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty, a policy designed for a long time to come to accelerate the hard features of a Communist society in Chile." The soft line was an extension of the long-term CIA effort to control Chilean democracy. One indication of its level is that in the 1964 election, the CIA spent twice as much per Chilean voter to block Allende as the total spent per voter by both parties in the U.S. elections of the same year.79 Similarly in the case of Cuba, the Eisenhower administration planned a direct attack while Vice-President Nixon, keeping to the soft line in a secret discussion of June 1960, expressed his concern that according to a CIA briefing, "Cuba's economic situation had not deteriorated significantly since the overthrow of Batista," then urging specific measures to place "greater economic pressure on Cuba."80

To take another informative case, in 1949 the CIA identified "two areas of instability" in Latin America: Bolivia and Guatemala.81 The Eisenhower administration pursued the hard line to overthrow capitalist democracy in Guatemala but chose the soft line with regard to a Bolivian revolution that had the support of the Communist Party and radical tin miners, had led to expropriation, and had even moved towards "criminal agitation of the Indians of the farms and mines" and a pro-peace conference, a right-wing Archbishop warned. The White House concluded that the best plan was to support the least radical elements, expecting that U.S. pressures, including domination of the tin market, would serve to control unwanted developments. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles urged that this would be the best way to contain the "Communist infection in South America." Following standard policy guidelines, the U.S. took control over the Bolivian military, equipping it with modern armaments and sending hundreds of officers to the "school of coups" in Panama and elsewhere. Bolivia was soon subject to U.S. influence and control. By 1953, the National Security Council noted improvement in "the climate for private investment," including "an agreement permitting a private American firm to exploit two petroleum areas."82

A military coup took place in 1964. A 1980 coup was carried out with the assistance of Klaus Barbie, who had been sent to Bolivia when he could no longer be protected in France, where he had been working under U.S. control to repress the anti-fascist resistance, as he had done under the Nazis. According to a recent UNICEF study, one out of three Bolivian infants dies in the first year of life, so that Bolivia has the slowest rate of population growth in Latin America along with the highest birth rate. The FAO estimates that the average Bolivian consumes 78% of daily minimum calorie and protein requirements and that more than half of Bolivian children suffer from malnutrition. Of the economically active population, 25% are unemployed and another 40% work in the "informal sector" (e.g., smuggling and drugs). The situation in Guatemala we have already reviewed.83

Several points merit attention. First, the consequences of the hard line in Guatemala and the soft line in Bolivia were similar. Second, both policy decisions were successful in their major aim: containing the "Communist virus," the threat of "ultranationalism." Third, both policies are evidently regarded as quite proper, as we can see in the case of Bolivia by the complete lack of interest in what has happened since (apart from possible costs to the U.S. through the drug racket); and with regard to Guatemala, by the successful intervention under Kennedy to block a democratic election, the direct U.S. participation in murderous counterinsurgency campaigns under Lyndon Johnson, the continuing supply of arms to Guatemala through the late 1970s (contrary to illusory claims) and the reliance on our Israeli mercenary state to fill any gaps when congressional restrictions finally took effect, the enthusiastic U.S. support for atrocities that go well beyond even the astonishing Guatemalan norm in the 1980s, and the applause for the "fledgling democracy" that the ruling military now tolerates as a means to extort money from Congress. We may say that these are "messy episodes" and "blundering" (which in fact succeeded in its major aims), but nothing more (Stephen Kinzer).84 Fourth, the soft line and the hard line were adopted by the same people, at the same time, revealing that the issues are tactical, involving no departure from shared principle. All of this provides insight into the nature of policy, and the political culture in which it is formed.

The same methods apply generally, as in cases already discussed, and many others like them. The cover story throughout is that the subversion of democracy is undertaken in self-defense against the Soviet threat; we had no choice, as the editor of Foreign Affairs explains (see p. 13). John Lewis Gaddis comes closer to the mark when he observes that "the increasing success of communist parties in Western Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, and China" justifiably aroused "suspicion about the Soviet Union's behavior," even though their popularity "grew primarily out of their effectiveness as resistance fighters against the Axis."85 The rascal multitude are the problem, and they have to be brought to heel by other means if democratic processes cannot be properly channelled.

Go to the next segment.

77 Special Report of Interagency Committee on Intelligence (Ad Hoc), Chairman J. Edgar Hoover, along with the directors of the CIA, DIA, and NSA, prepared for the President, June 25, 1970, marked "Top Secret." A censored version was later released. Quotes below are from Book 7, Part 1: Summary of Internal Security Threat. For more extensive discussion, see my introduction to N. Blackstock, ed., COINTELPRO (Vintage, 1976); Kenneth O'Reilly, Racial Matters (Free Press, 1989).

78 See references of chapter 1, note 85.

79 Gregory Treverton, Covert Action (Basic Books, 1987), 18.

80 Memorandum for Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, 25 June 1960, Secret.

81 CIA, Review of the World Situation, 17 August 1949.

82 Bryce Wood, The Dismantling of the Good Neighbor Policy (U. of Texas, 1985). NSC 141/1, "Progress Report," July 23, 1953.

83 Turning the Tide, 198f.; Latinamerica press (Lima), Dec. 24, 1987.

84 Kinzer, NYT, Jan. 10, 1988. Kinzer is quite familiar with the facts, having co-authored an important book on the topic: Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit (Doubleday, 1982).

85 Gaddis, Long Peace, 37. 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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