The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism by Noam Chomsky
The Nazi Parallel:
The National Security State and the Churches
excerpted from the book
The Washington Connection
and Third World Fascism
by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman
published by South End Press, 1979
The two statements quoted above bring out some central features of modern Latin America. A close study of recent trends-including the specific totalitarian ideology of the generals, the system of ideological manipulation and terror, the diaspora, and the defensive response of the churches (and their harassment by the military juntas)-reveals startling similarities with patterns of thought and behavior under European fascism, especially under Nazism. Fascist ideology has flowed into Latin American directly and indirectly. Large numbers of Nazi refugees came to Latin America during and after World War II, and important ingredients of fascist ideology have been indirectly routed into that area through the U.S. military and intelligence establishment. Whatever the source, however, it has met a need of the local and foreign elites that dominate the area, and has been modified to meet their special requirements.
The ideology designated the "National Security Doctrine" (NSD) now prevails among the military elites that rule at least eight Latin American states-Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The doctrine has three main elements: (1) that the state is absolute and the individual is nothing; (2) that every state is involved in permanent warfare, its present form being Communism versus the Free World; and (3) that control over "subversion" is possible only through domination by the natural leadership in the struggle against subversion, namely the armed forces. The first two elements of the NSD closely parallel Nazi ideology, which laid great stress on the organic Volkstaat and the deadly combat in process between the forces of good and evil (Bolshevism, Jewry). Geopolitics is also a favorite source of ideological nourishment to the Latin military elite, as it was for the Nazis. Nazi doctrine did not give primacy to the armed forces, although they were assigned an important place, but the Leader and the Party played an elite role. The special place of the' armed forces in the NSD reflects in part the self-interested rationalization of the privileged and dominant military elite; it also represents the choice of vehicle by the colossus of the north, which has long invested in the military establishment as potentially "a major force for constructive social change in the American republics" (Nelson Rockefeller).
An important ingredient of Nazi ideology, anti-Semitism, is absent from the NSD, although it has found a home with the military of certain countries (specifically, Argentina, where there has been a long anti-Semitic tradition). But the NSD also lacks any element of egalitarianism or notion of human community, both present in grotesquely perverted form in Nazi ideology, so that the Latin American version has been well adapted to justifying and institutionalizing extreme inequality and domination by a small elite. The NSD is not a doctrine with ugly potential consequences for specific minorities; it is one that fits the need for disregard and spoliation of the majority. The special place of army and police merely assures that the military elite will share in the spoliation along with the traditional elite group. It is, therefore, an appropriate doctrine for what we have been calling "subfascism."
Since the generals sponsoring the National Security Doctrine have been nurtured by and dependent on the U.S. military intelligence establishment, and look to the United States as the heartland of anti-Communism and Freedom, it is little wonder that the economic doctrinal counterpart to the NSD is quite congenial to the interests of multinational business. The military juntas have adopted a "free enterprise-blind growth" model on the alleged geopolitical rationale that growth means power, disregarding the fact that dependent growth means foreign power. Since profits equal investment equal growth equal power, it works out that state support for large interests-domestic and foreign- and neglect of the masses, is sound policy. We saw earlier that in the economics of client fascism, that is, National Security Economics, the welfare of the masses is no longer a system objective-the masses become a cost of goods sold, something to be minimized-so that although the military juntas sometimes speak of long run benefits trickling down to the lower orders, this is really an after-thought and is not to be taken too seriously.
Furthermore, since the world is one of good and evil, with "no room for comfortable neutralism" (Pinochet, echoing a familiar refrain of his U.S. mentor), and since free enterprise-growth profits-USA are good, anybody challenging these concepts or their consequences is ipso facto a Communist-subversive-enemy. This is a logical deduction from NSD principles, and it is also clearly just what General Maxwell Taylor had in mind in telling the students of the police academy of the lessons of Vietnam and the need for anticipatory counter-subversion. It also means that any resistance to business power and privilege in the interests of equity, or on the basis of an alternative view of desirable social ends or means, is a National Security and police problem. This applies to such organizations as peasant leagues, unions, student organizations or community or political groupings that might afford protection to the weak or threaten to become a political counterforce to elite domination. From the standpoint of the multinationals and latifundists, this is superb doctrine; reform is equated with subversion, the work force is kept in disarray by state power, and nothing stands in the way of organizing economic life in MNC-latifundist interests that can not be taken care of by a few well-placed bribes. As Nelson Rockefeller has said, in dealing with Latin American countries, for whom democracy "is a very subtle and difficult problem," we must be prepared to sacrifice some of our philosophical principles in the interest of helping meet the basic needs of the people of the hemisphere."
In Nazi Germany too, as in other totalitarian societies, a primary aim of the controlling leadership was the destruction of any organizational threat that might challenge the attainment of "state" ends; and unions, students and professional organizations, and community groups and political parties were infiltrated, harassed, destroyed, or brought under state control. The most powerful bases of organized resistance in Nazi Germany were the churches, which provided the "most active, most effective, and most consistent" opposition to Nazi terror. The churches were so deeply rooted in their communities that it was difficult to attack them openly, although the Nazis tried from the beginning to undermine and destroy church authority. The churches were not only the first large organizations left intact that began to resist Hitlerism as organizations, "they also remained unique in this respect throughout the period from 1933 to 1945, although their resistance remained limited to certain issues and methods. Throughout World War II one important segment of the Protestant Church (the Confessing Church) refused to pray for military victory, and by the war's end many hundreds of clergymen had died in concentration camps.
The analogy here with Latin American experience is striking, although it has been diligently avoided in the mass media of the United States. The National Security States, like Hitler, have used informers and force to destroy or bring under state control all protective organizations of the working class, peasants, rural workers and sub-proletariat: a church group's description of Paraguay, where "the government's objective is to suppress any person or organization that strives to help those living in miserable poverty, that is to say 80/ho of the population, is widely applicable in the NSD world. This repression is not undertaken out of sadistic impulses. Rather, as the church throughout the empire now recognizes, "this whole universe of atomized workers, powerless and obliged to humiliate themselves," are kept in that condition for sound economic reasons, given the ends sought and the model of economic development employed by the military juntas.
From the inception of this process, and especially since the Brazilian coup of 1964, the churches have been pressed into opposition to subfascism, just as under Nazism, as the last institutional refuge of the population against state terror and state-protected and state-sponsored exploitation. Initially, again in close analogy with Nazi experience, the coming into power of the National Security State was greeted by the church in a country like Brazil with mixed feelings, and some positive expectations on the part of the more conservative church leaders. But subfascist processes steadily drove the church into a position of increasingly unified hostility, despite efforts by the military junta to alternatively threaten and attempt to bribe the church leaders into quiescence, if not support. Church opposition has been bothersome to the Brazilian junta, in part because the church remains a competing institutional power still providing a base of opposition and some protective cover for the pack animals (the 80% plus). Furthermore, the church and religion are part of the ceremonial apparatus of the Christian-West-Free World, and however little the generals may regard Christian principles, the symbols should be available for manipulation of the lower orders. But they have not been readily available, and the conflict between the churches and military juntas has escalated in Brazil and throughout the empire.
The reasons for the scope and strength of church resistance in Latin America and elsewhere include certain features of the churches themselves, such as the post-Vatican II internal discussions and subsequent democratization, and the institutional shift in church constituency and support. With the middle and upper classes-the traditional basis of support and personnel- gradually abandoning the church after World War II, the constituency of the church has gradually shifted to the 80% plus that is voiceless, powerless and outside the orbit of interest under subfascism. As the church has reached into the communities of the poor it has been obliged to see and feel the problems of this exploited mass, and the result has been a further democratization of the church, expressions of remorse at its elite supportive role in the past, and a new concern for meeting the needs of all people now: "The Holy Spirit is no longer a privilege of the hierarchy or of the religious; the Spirit does not only teach piety and obedience in the teaching of the church. The Spirit shows itself in the new martyrs, in the daring of the communities and their ministers, in the testimony given to the world by the humble and poor people."
It is important to recognize that the dominant elements of the Catholic Church of Latin America were, and in important respects still are, quite conservative. It has been pushed into relatively unified and vigorous opposition against its desires and traditions, in large part by brutalities and injustice of a scale and severity that gave it no alternative.
The quality of the New Brazil that has evoked this church response can be illustrated by its treatment of abandoned children, vast numbers of whom wander and forage in the cities. These children are regarded strictly as a police problem. Nothing is done for them, but they are periodically rounded up, put into police trucks, and transported to other Brazilian states, with a warning to stay away. If something positive is done for them, this is regarded as a menace. Lernoux reports that "in a recent typical case, a young teenager was arrested in Vitoria for trying to organize the city's abandoned children into a work cooperative. After he was beaten and tortured, the boy was sodomized in the local jail."
The treatment of the mass of rural poor has been on the same humanistic plane. The military regime has encouraged and subsidized the shift to export crops such as soybeans and cattle, without the slightest concern, provision, or consideration for the (non-existent) opportunities for the millions of dispossessed:
"Their lands, houses and crops are wiped out by the savage growth of latifundia and big agribusiness. Their living and working conditions are becoming more difficult. In a tragic contradiction, in which the government economic favors multiply herds of cattle and enlarge plantations, the small laborer sees his family's food supply diminishing. "
Volkswagen, Tio Tinto Zinc, Swift Meat Packing, and others have been receiving tax write-offs to develop cattle ranches, while the indigenous people are written off in the process by their government. Italy's Liquigas was allowed to buy six million acres of land in the heart of the territory of the Xavantas Indians, with 60 Indians killed in the eviction process.
The state functions to prevent by force any defense of the rural majority and to allow the powerful to violate the already feeble law with impunity. A great many clergy have been brutalized for making the most elemental defenses of maltreated individuals. Although under Brazil's legal code peasants who have worked the land for 10 years or more are entitled to ownership rights, those rights are widely ignored and in any conflict are usually resolved by the force of the strong. In one contested case a land development company "simply bulldozed the village of Santa Teresinha off the map. When Father Francisco Jentel protested against the destruction of a health clinic built by the peasants, he was jailed and later sentenced to ten years in prison for 'incising the people to revolt'."
The Catholic Church has not been able to swallow passively the intensified post-1964 day-by-day spoliation of the Indians and peasantry. Bishop Dom Pedro Casadaliga has kept up a steady flow of denunciations of the policies of force, fraud and subsidization of rural dispossession by the military regime. He has exasperated the ranchers and military of Sao Felix by organizing peasant cooperatives, schools and health units and urging the peasants to "unite and know your legal rights." The Bishop points out that there is only one private doctor in the prefecture of Sao Felix, which covers 150,000 square kilometers, but the military regime still discourages church medical assistance efforts: "There used to be a nun nurse who worked in the hospital [the Santa Izabel Indian Hospital]. However, she was expelled and prohibited from taking care of Indians or posseiros. We opened a mobile health unit in Sao Felix which was closed by the Secretary of Health of Mato Grosso. Of the four mobile units of the region three are closed and the other is open only sporadically when a doctor of the army or air force is passing through." Efforts to organize the peasantry, even for limited self-help activities, have been viewed with the deepest suspicion by the leaders of subfascism, and this form of subversion has led to the arrest, harassment and exile of numerous clergy in Brazil and elsewhere in the empire.
Bishop Casadaliga was the first of many Brazilian bishops to be subject to military interrogation. Many have suffered more severely. Dom Adriano Hipolito, the Bishop of Nova Iguazu, who has often denounced the Brazilian Anti-Communist Alliance (AAB) as a "bunch of thugs directed and protected by the police" was kidnapped by the AAB, beaten, stripped, painted red, and left Iying on a deserted road. And in October, 1976, Father Joao Brunier, who had gone to the police station with Bishop Casadaliga to protest the torture of two peasant women, was simply shot dead by a policeman (who was eventually "apprehended" and then "escaped"). Hundreds of priests and higher officials of the Latin American churches have been tortured, murdered or driven into exile. Six aides of Archbishop Camara have been murdered, and he is quite aware that only his international reputation has so far saved him from a similar fate.
The Latin American churches have been unified and radicalized by subfascist terror and exploitation. They have learned by bitter experience the roots and consequences of these processes. The Church in Brazil now points out frequently and with great clarity and courage that the National Security Doctrine is a cover for totalitarian violence against ordinary people and is a means of class warfare. It is interesting to see the church preaching with passion for the rights of the individual against a state created and supported by the heartland of "freedom"-"On the level of purpose, the State exists for persons. The person, as a subject of natural inalienable rights, is the origin, center and end of society...It is in this right that the power of authority of the state is based. All force practiced beyond and outside of this right is violence." The church has also become more clear-eyed and explicit on the class bias and massive inhumanity of the development model of growth, and on the role of the U.S. and its military and economic interests in bringing into existence and sustaining the subfascist state. On the benefits of the Brazilian "miracle," one church document notes that
"Five percent (5 million out of 100 million) do attain something. But those who really have the advantage are the ones who are financing our "growth," those from abroad, the foreigners. If a bank will not extend credit without a guarantee of profit, much less will the foreigners finance our development and dispense with their profits. Our external debt amounts to about $10 billion."
External interests not only sustain oppression by their support of the military governments; they are more directly in the picture as developers, expropriators and strike-breakers. Bishop Casadaliga claims that in Sao Felix where latifundias are frequently owned by MNCs, the foreign entities have fought his mild efforts more aggressively than the locals: "Of the attacks I have suffered the majority have been ordered by the administrators and technocrats of the multinational latifundios." The Open Letter quoted at the beginning of this section is more passionate still in describing the sorrowful reality that has "demolished the image of 'the great democracy of the North'," including "the scandalous intervention of the United States in the installation and maintenance of military regimes" throughout Latin America; "the shameful Panamanian enclave with its military training centers" in which the murderers receive their higher education from U.S. instructors in techniques of "systematic persecution" and "scientifically perfected torture"; the activities of "the CIA and other agencies of penetration and espionage"; "the sometimes subtle and other times brazen domination and colonization practices" which have gradually eliminated the possibilities of independent economic development; and the "silent genocide, killing with hunger, with malnutrition, with tuberculosis the children of working families without resources."
The church-state struggle has become general in varying degrees throughout the expanding subfascist component of the empire. In Latin America, only in the few countries that retain a democratic order has an open conflict failed to emerge. In the now dominant terror states, including South Korea and the Philippines, the clergy is under attack and is fighting back with the non-violent weapons at its disposal. It cannot be over stressed that while the church increasingly calls for major social changes, the vast bulk of its efforts have been directed toward the protection of the most elemental human rights-to vote, to have the laws enforced without favor, to be free from physical abuse, and to be able to organize, assemble, and petition for betterment. Most sinister for the leaders of subfascism is any sponsorship of organizational or self-help efforts that might give the underclasses not only a sense of personal dignity but also some notion that they have rights and might exercise some small modicum of power.
The hostility of the National Security States to church support for the majority has reached the level of cooperative efforts at intimidation. In the summer of 1976 a major church meeting in Ecuador was interrupted when "40 barbarians armed with machine guns, revolvers, and tear gas bombs burst in on us. None of us was allowed to touch any of our personal belongings, not even to put on a pair of socks. We were pushed at gun point into a waiting bus-80 of us crammed into a space meant for 50. We had no idea what was happening, and it was useless to ask those gangsters for an explanation." The group, which included 15 foreign bishops and two foreign archbishops, was imprisoned overnight, and the foreign contingent was expelled the next day on the ground that it had been a "subversive meeting" (on subfascist principles, no doubt correct). One factor explaining the incident may have been the hostility to the host, Bishop Leonidas Proano, who had long been in conflict with the local ranchers over his defense of the ownership rights of the Indians. Church sources claim that a more potent factor was the increasingly close relations between Ecuador and the other subfascist states, particularly Brazil and Chile. At the time of the meeting 10 Chilean secret police were in Ecuador helping set up an intelligence and "security" network. The Chilean secret police arranged for a rock-throwing reception for the three Chilean bishops at the Santiago airport upon their return from Ecuador, and the Chilean press used the incident to demonstrate the Communist-subversive qualities of the bishops. The Chilean bishops concluded from their investigation of the episode that it had been a response to the pressures of "friendly governments" which had been applied to Ecuador.
The conflict between the church and the state intensifies as subfascist abuse becomes a more integral component of the reigning system, the church responds, and the National Security State brooks no opposition: "If we don't subscribe to 'their Church,' we are subversive. But how can we accept a mentality that endorses torture and murder, that is so totally unchristian?" And a Paraguayan priest says that "the bishops are arriving at a point where they must choose between their people and the military...It isn't a political choice between right and left but a humanitarian one. In Paraguay, for example, conservative and liberal bishops are united in their opposition to Alfredo Stroessner's regime. Even the military vicar signed the last pastoral letter denouncing government repression." But the churches resist without the huge resources of the state, without access to the government controlled media, and without the power of physical coercion. On the international plane the churches also face the most formidable obstacle of all-namely, United States sponsorship and support for the National Security State. Thus economic and military aid flows to the military juntas and the United States protects them diplomatically, economically and militarily-militarily, of course, mainly against their own populations via counterinsurgency and police aid. The United States has actively cooperated in overthrowing reformers or radicals in democratic systems (Brazil, Chile), but it has never quite been able to throw its weight towards democracy and away from subfascist gangsters even when the gangsters have stood alone with their U.S.-trained militias and weapons against a unified population, as we witness in Nicaragua at the time of writing.
Because the National Security State is U.S.-sponsored and supported and meets U.S. criteria on the fundamentals, there is another important international consequence: the mass media in the United States play down and essentially suppress the evidence of the enormous inhumanities and institutionalized violence of these U.S. satellites. The trial of a single Soviet dissident, Anatol Shcharansky, received more newspaper space in 1978 than the several thousand official murders in Latin America during the same year, not to speak of the vast number of lesser events such as tortures and massive dispossession. Information on Latin American horrors is readily available from church and other sources eager to tell the ghastly story, but-to put the matter baldly-the sponsors of class warfare under subfascism are hardly eager to focus attention on its victims. Just as in the case of warfare in Vietnam, both killing and ruthless exploitation at a distance are best done by proxy or through impersonal machinery, with eyes averted. The Free World establishment wisely chooses to focus on movements of the "gross national product" of Brazil, without too much attention to who gets what and how. The Free World media also concentrate on "terror," defined as we have seen so as to exclude official violence by definition; and the media allow the world of subfascism to be viewed largely through the eyes of the torturers and U.S. officials and businessmen. U.S. power and interest have put a communications lid on the fate of the great majority of the population of Latin America under U.S.-sponsored subfascism. Thus the churches fight a lonely battle as the last institutional protection of the mass of the population, with the primary enemy an absentee ownership interest supported by a super-power. In Latin America it is widely recognized that the origin and preservation of the National Security State rests on U.S. support. It is the ultimate Orwellism that this same superpower is thought in the West to be fighting a noble battle for "human rights."
The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism
To put it simply: in order to make more money and maintain their position of power, U.S. companies support (ie. fund, train, and provide diplomatic support for) repressive governments that will brutally repress their own population. When human rights are non-existent and people are sick and starving, sweatshops can be created and maintained. Once U.S. companies can exploit the repressed workers, they will eliminate (somewhat) well-paying jobs in the U.S. and take it to a third world fascist regime. The well-being of U.S. workers is intimately tied to the well-being of third world workers, The globalized economy of the last 30 years has meant the deterioration of worker status both inside and outside the U.S.
When Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman wrote the precursor to their 1979 book The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume I, they found their analysis of U.S. foreign policy unwelcome by the corporate media establishment. The parent company learned about the book in the fall of 1973, and quite predictably was horrified and condemned it’s " unpartiotic" scholarship. Warner Modular Publications, Inc. (at that time a subsidiary member of the Warner communications and entertainment conglomerate) chose to violate their contractual obligation with Chomsky and Herman. They explain:
Although 20,000 copies of the monograph were printed, and one (and the last) ad was placed in the New York Review of Books, Warner Publishing refused to allow distribution of the monograph at its scheduled publication date. Media advertising for the volume was cancelled and printed flyers that listed the monographs as one of the titles were destroyed. The officers of Warner Modular were warned that distribution of the document would result in their immediate dismissal
It seems that after this kneejerk reaction, Warner’s corporate leadership opted for a (slightly) more subtle means of censorship and formally agreed to not supress the book: reaching a compromise with the lower-level publisher (who struggled for distribution of the monograph). However, before the compromise could be enacted the publishing house was shut down, with Warner selling the house’s " stocks of publications and contracts to a small and quite unknown company" effectively killing the book.11
Any book that is so feared by the corporate media merits close attention. William Sarnoff, a high officer of the parent company was very clear about why the book upset him so much, citing Chomsky and Herman’s " unpatriotic" argument that" the leadership in the United States, as a result of its dominant position and wide-ranging counterrevoliutionary efforts, has been the most important single instigator, administrator, and moral and material sustainer of serious bloodbaths in the years that followed World War II." The 442 page book backs up what it claims. Even worse, the book documents how both the mainstream media and educational institutions have been fundamental in providing the propaganda that allows the genocidal death machine to operate.
Chomsky and Herman argue that the U.S. corporate state’s " ideological pretense" that the United States is dedicated to furthering the cause of democracy and human rights throughout the world, though it may occasionally err in the pusuit of this ojective" has been constructed to mask: "the basic fact" that the United States has organized under its sponsorship and protection a neo-colonial system of client states ruled mainly by terror and serving the interests of a small local and foreign business and military elite." 12
M.E.Ch.A and Che at Labor Rally: Che understood the importance of international solidarity as a weapon against transnational corporate imperialism.
They convincingly demonstrate that U.S. corporations purposefully support (and in many instances create) fascist terror states in order to create a favorable investment climate. In exchange for a cut of the action, local military police-states (which foster an image of third world autonomy from their colonial masters) brutally repress their population when it attempts to assert basic human rights:
The proof of the pudding is that U.S. bankers and industrialists have consistently welcomed the "stability" of the new client fascist order, whose governments, while savage in their treatment of dissidents, priests, labor leaders, peasant organizers or others who threaten "order," and at best indifferent to the mass of the population, have been accommodating to large external interests. In an important sense, therefore, the torturers in the client state are functionaries of IBM, Citibank, Allis Chalmers and the U.S. government, playing their assigned roles in a system that has worked according to choice and plan.13
In 1948, State Department planner George Kennan wrote Policy Planning Study 23, clearly stating that if the U.S. wanted to maintain (and expand) its position of world dominance, it could not truly respect human rights and democracy abroad. The document said:
We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only about 6 percent of its population" In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships that will permit us to maintain this disparity" To do so we will have to dispense with sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives" We should cease to talk about vague and" unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization." 14
Kennan elaborated on this concept in a 1950 briefing of U.S. ambassadors to Latin American countries. Of prime importance was to prevent the spreading of the idea " that governments are responsible for the well being of their people." To combat the proliferation of this idea: "we should not hesitate before police repression by the local government" It is better to have a strong regime in power than a liberal one if it is indulgent and relaxed and penetrated by Communist." Kennan would clearly define a "Communist" as someone who believed "that the governments are responsible for the well-being of their people." 15
Puppets mimicking capitalist devils march through town.
Crushing the human spirit and people’s desire to live free is a difficult task. State terror must be viewed in this context. It exists to destroy people’s hope and their desire to liberate themselves from oppression. This is the motive behind the U.S. -- directed counterinsurgency wars waged upon such countries in Latin America as Colombia and Chiapas, Mexico. The origins of U.S. counter-insurgency ideology reveal the fundamentally evil nature of the U.S. ruling class and the state apparatus that serves it.
The Roots of Counterinsurgency
To understand the evil of the U.S. ruling class in its full, one must investigate the historical origins of the state terror being practiced today by the Colombian government. Scholar/activist, Noam Chomsky writes that " US counterinsurgency doctrine was consciously modeled on the practices and achievements of World War II fascism, though it was the Nazis who were the preferred model." Chomsky cites Michael McClintock’s important 1989 study, Instruments of Statecraft, which examines 1950s US Army manuals and documents the disturbing influence of Naziism on U.S. counterinsurgency technique. Chomsky explains that the " manuals recognize Hitler’s tasks to have been much the same as those undertaken by the US worldwide as it took over the struggle against the anti-fascist resistance and other criminals (labeled " Communists" or " terrorists" ). The U.S. Army employed former Wermacht officers to help prepare the army manuals and explicitly drew upon the Nazi practice of " evacuation of all natives from partisan-infested areas and the destruction of all farms, villages, and buildings in the areas following the evacuations." 16
Military manuals made during Kennedy’s administration advocated "the tactic of intimidating, kidnapping, or assassinating carefully selected members of the opposition in a manner that will reap the maximum psychological benefit," the objective being "to frighten everyone from collaborating with the guerilla movement."17
In 1962, Kennedy also shifted the official focus of Latin American military from "hemispheric defense" to " internal security." According to Charles Maechling (who led counterinsurgency and internal defense planning from 1961 to 1966), this historic shift led to a change from toleration " of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military " to " direct complicity" in " the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads." 18
Columbia Yesterday & Today
Moving forward to today, Alfredo Vasquez Carrizosa, president of the Colombian Permanent Committee for Human Rights explicitly argues that the " violence has been exacerbated by external factors." The U.S. influence in Colombia has been to make things much, much worse. Concurring with Noam Chomsky’s assertion that the Kennedy Administration escalated the already brutal state repression in Colombia (and all of Latin America), Vasquez reports that " In the 1960s the United States, during the Kennedy administration, took great pains to transform our regular armies into counterinsurgency brigades, accepting the new strategy of the death squads." President Kennedy’s initiatives:
" ushered in what is known in Latin America as the National Security Doctrine," not defense against an external enemy, but a way to make the military establishment the masters of the game" [with] the right to combat the internal enemy, as set forth in the Brazilian doctrine, the Argentine doctrine, the Uruguayan doctrine, and the Colombian doctrine: it is the right to fight and to exterminate social workers, trade unionists, men and women who are not supportive of the establishment, and who are assumed to be communist extremists. And this could mean anyone, including human rights activists such as myself." 19
In order to understand the true horror of today’s political situation in Colombia it must be seen in relation to the rest of Latin America. In the 90s, Colombia has been compared to Central America in the 1980s, where the U.S. trained, funded, and armed death-squad style terrorists. In her book Resisting State Violence, Professor Joy James argues that in " the 1980s, domestic policing and police brutality, including the 1985 MOVE bombing, were upstaged by the grisly specter of terrorism in U.S. foreign policy" In El Salvador and Guatemala, torture and terroristic killings were employed to derail social, political, and guerilla movements by workers and indigenous peoples." 20
El Salvador’s quite successful state terror operations help illustrate the fundamentally evil nature of both the U.S. ruling class and the local wealthy elite in Latin America, who employ horrifying tactics to break the human spirit, and therefore maintain the status quo.
A January 1994 conference on state terror organized by Jesuits in San Salvador argued that " it is important to explore" what weight the culture of terror has had in domesticating the expectations of the majority vis-à-vis alternatives different to those of the powerful." In the Jesuit journal America, Rev. Daniel Santiago writes:
People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador--they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed in their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the national guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until their flesh falls from their bones while parents are forced to watch" The aesthetics of terror in El Salvador is religious." 21
Nicknamed " Blowtorch Bob," (after his favorite instrument of torture) longtime leader of El Salvador’s death squad ARENA party, Robert D’Aubuisson was an open admirer of Adolf Hitler. He once said: " You Germans were very intelligent. You realized that the Jews were responsible for the spread of Communism and you began to kill them." In 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission concluded that a total of 63,000 Salvadorans were killed between 1979 and 1992.22
Banner of Emiliano Zapata and his famous quote.
(The Zapatistas name themselves after this radical anarachist from Mexico.)
Mumia Abu-Jamal explains that " the Zapatistas draw their strength, their imagery, and their vision from the most oppressed segments of Mexican life, the indigenous, the conquered ones who have sustained themselves in the face of over 500 years of conquest." 23
The ruling classes of the United States were very threatened by the Zapatista insurgency because of the inspiration that it gave to many oppressed people throughout the world who have also been beaten down but continue to fight. A 1995 Chase Manhattan Bank memorandum written by Riordan Roett (a consultant on Latin American issues) argued that the Mexican government " will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy" [and] will need to consider carefully whether or not to allow opposition victories if fairly won at the ballot box." 24
This desire to crush the Zapatista rebellion is reflective of the U.S. ruling class’ reaction to the challenge made to white world supremacy and U.S. corporate control over Latin America.The war on drugs has been used as a guise for supplying the Mexican state the necessary military might to put down the rebelling Indians of Chiapas.
Cecelia Rodriguez, spokesperson for the Zapatistas in the U.S. explains that::
US-provided helicopters have been used in the past to attack unarmed populations" The Mexican armed forces have been accused by human rights monitors of murders, disappearances, kidnapping and rape. Nonetheless their requests for military equipment and expertise have been granted time and time again. Under the guise of fighting drug traffickers, the US government has bolstered an anti-democratic and corrupt Mexican government with a laundry list of high-tech military equipment that has been used to violate the basic human rights of the people of Mexico.25
The Counter-insurgency War at Home and the Rise of the Prison-industrial Complex
For the sake of simplicity I will outline the U.S. counterinsurgency war at home as manifesting itself in three major components. First, is the centralized state apparatus best symbolized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and it’s documented program " COINTELPRO" (short for counterintelli-gence program). Second are the police forces and the accompanying police brutality. Third is the prison-industrial complex apparatus. Among these three broad elements of state repression there is considerable overlap, as oftentimes, the FBI manip-ulates both the police and the prison/criminal justice system.
Counterinsurgency has long been in the thoughts of U.S. planners domestically as evidenced by the FBI’s COINTELPRO waged upon the U.S. left officially from the 1950s to the 70’s. Particularly important for this essay is its campaign against the Black liberation movement’s goal of liberating the U.S.’s domestic colonies.
Quite revealing is a March 3, 1968 COINTELPRO memo discussing the urgent need to prevent " the beginning of a true black revolution." Among several of this counterrevolutionary state program’s goals was to " prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement" . Perhaps most revealing in this " Black Nationalist-Hate Groups" memo is the reference to Martin Luther King (long a target of the FBI) as a potential " messiah" of the supposedly hateful and " violent" Black liberation movement. "Through counterintelligence it should be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them."26
Another stated goal was " to prevent the long-range growth of militant black nationalist organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed" " One specific tactical approach was expressed in an April 3, 1968 communique urged that " The Negro youth and moderates must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries." 27
In terms of scale, the FBI’s war of repression against the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s was greatest against the Black Panther Party. In addressing why the Black Panther Party was targeted so intensely by COINTELPRO, Noam Chomsky wrote in 1973 that:
A top secret Special Report for the president in June 1970 gives some insight into the motivations for the actions undertaken by the government to destroy the Black Panther Party. The report describes the party as " the most active and dangerous black extremist group in the United States." Its " hard core members" were estimated at 800, but " a recent poll indicates that approximately 25 percent of the black population has a great respect for the BPP, including 43 percent of blacks under 21 years of age." On the basis of such estimates of the potential of the party, the repressive apparatus of the state proceeded against it to ensure that it did not succeed in organizing as a substantial social or political force. We may add that in this case, government repression proved quite successful.28
Police Brutality and Repression
THE SPIRIT OF THE POLICE STATE: Taken at the time as a double-exposure, this has in the background the crowd filling the streets during the afternoon of Nov.30 , then I spun back around and took a photo of the police line on the edge of the crowd. For this exposure with police, you can see the backs of protesters heads immediately in the foreground.
Police violence against the colonized sectors of the U.S. population is another feature that makes the U.S. resemble a somewhat milder terror state than that in El Salvador or Colombia, but certainly as evil. Accompanying Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s criticism of both capitalism and militarism was a scathing critique of racist police brutality. King was most critical of the brutal dehumanization that accompanies this form of state terror.
COINTELPRO target and death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal explains that in the " 1960s and 1970s the Black panther Party defined a relationship between the police and the black community as one between an occupying army and a colony." 29
This analysis of the relationship between police and the colonized non-white inner cities was supported by evidence presented by the Warren Commission following the Rodney King inspired uprising. While generally a whitewash of the epidemic of police brutality, the commission did release transcripts from L.A.P.D. mobile digital terminal (MDT) communications between police cars and dispatchers (as well as those routed by central communications between two police vehicles. PART (People Against Racist Terror) activist Michael Novick explains that among a randomly selected 182 days between November 1, 1989 and March 4, 1991, almost every day examined revealed " outrageous examples of open racism, sexism, and homophobia towards other officers as well as civilians, bragging about violence, and a virtual blood lust about engaging in pursuits, beatings, and shootings."
Most importantly, these transcripts reveal a very serious complicity by the upper levels of police leadership. As Novick reports: " The commission found it particularly shocking that, and proof that the department’s top management was unconcerned about racism and the unjustified use of force, that so many officers felt so free over such a protracted period to engage in such remarks, knowing they were being recorded." A sampling of the transcripts reveals conversations like the following:
Where you be?
In the projects.
Roger" good hunting.
If you hear a help call from me, call in an airstrike with napalm.
Better than an M-16 is a Heckler-Koch-94
I’d love to drive down Slauson [in Watts] with a flame thrower. We could have a barbecue.
Mexican means a wetback with no papers and likes to give bullshit to the police, and doesn’t speak no English, until he pulls his i.d. out of his ass, then and only then does he become a Hispanic with papers.
I enjoyed that. Torture and sadism can be such a rrrush" hahahahaha
It must be done tastefully, of course. I was informing [omitted] of the standard procedure for dealing with such subhuman maggots in Central. Ahh, the good old days.
Too bad UCLA is not in session. We could look at all the good-looking bitches.
Show ‘em what a USC grad can do, like give ‘em the chorizo [sausage].
Did you arrest the 85-year-old lady or just beat her up?
We slapped her around a bit. She’s getting medical treatment now.30
In an essay (read during the May 12 demonstration for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom) recently written, Jamal argues that the May 13, 1985 MOVE bombing was highly symbolic in that it has opened the door for outright domestic military assaults upon U.S. citizenry. This draws a direct parallel to U.S. violence towards the third world. Jamal explains:
The twisted mentalities at work here are akin to those of Nazi Germany, or perhaps more appropriately, of My Lai, of Vietnam, of Baghdad, the spirit behind the mindlessly murderous mantra that echoed out of Dan Ang: " We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
As abroad, so here at home. For as the flames smothered life on Osage Avenue, police and politicians spoke of " destroying the neighborhood surrounding the MOVE house, in order to save it." Now cops patrol neighborhoods across America, armed like storm troopers, with a barely disguised urge to destroy the very area they are sworn to " serve and protect." Or perhaps we should say " sever and dissect." 31
The example of the MOVE bombing where police shot into the house while it was burning down (to ensure that those inside would burn to death and not escape) does provide a perfect parallel to U.S. sponsorship of state terror in colonies abroad. Just as the U.S. (and it’s surrogates in the third world) employ terror tactics to terrify conquered populations and ensure their subordination, so too it uses these tactics (in a somewhat milder form) at home. The MOVE bombing is reflective of the increased paramilitary nature of police forces.
The militarization of police has been accelerating, often times establishing explicit links between the U.S. military and the U.S. domestic police forces. Journalist Peter Cassidy reports that in " 1997 alone law enforcement agencies obtained 1.2 million pieces of military hardware. During the 1995-97 fiscal years, the Department of Defense distributed to civilian departments more than 3,800 M-16s, 2, 185 M-14s, 73 M-79 grenade launchers, and 112 armored personnel carriers." 32
These trends in policing are quite significant as they have taken police repression to a level beyond that faced by the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and 70s. SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams have become even larger and have had a profound effect on the rest of the police forces. Scholar/activist, Christian Parenti explains that " paramilitary policing units militarize the regular police by osmosis as the weaponry, training, and tactics of the police special forces are gradually passed on to the regular police." 33
In his book Lockdown America, Parenti dedicates an entire chapter analyzing the militarization of the non-white and poor areas of Fresno. Writing about Fresno and policing in general, Parenti argues:
"If there is a parable to be drawn from the story of paramilitary policing in the US, it is that the political theatrics of terror are by no means dead. Physical terror and spectacular displays of violence are still central to the state’s control of the dangerous classes. The helicopters, guns, and constantly barking dogs of the American tactical army are a blunt semaphore to the lumpen classes and working poor. So too are the frequent gang sweeps, field interviews, and curfew busts" The point is that ritualized displays of terror are built into American policing. Spectacle is a fundamental part of how the state controls poor people"(Parenti’s emphasis).34
The Rise of the Prison Industrial Complex and the Politics of Mass Incarceration
This current phase of globalization has created a dramatic rise in the role of prisons in society. While in 1980, there were only 500,000 prisoners total in the U.S., that number has now exceeded 2 million. Many have explained this rise of the prison population by citing the growing economic incentive to expand the population by such lobbying forces as prison guard unions, companies that employ prison labor, prison construction contractors, and private prison corporations.
However, in his 1999 book Lockdown America, it is Christian Parenti’s assertion that while these interest groups do have an economic interest in the proliferation of the prison system, this alone cannot explain the dramatic escalation of the prison population. Instead, Parenti argues that prisons have become a way to control the superfluous population that has been created as a result of downsizing (wherein well-paying jobs are taking to the third world where state repression insures low wages) since the 1970s.
Parenti asserts that while social welfare programs can also help to control the politically dangerous classes, these programs help to empower the poor against their corporate masters. In contrast, the prison system serves to further the conquest of U.S. domestic colonies. While it costs infinitely more to jail someone than to offer social welfare programs (and may therefore seem inefficient) it is highly beneficial for ruling class control of poor people.35
Today, Angela Y. Davis (one of the intellectual leaders of the prison abolitionist movement) has passionately argued that if we are to truly understand the criminal justice system, we must " disarticulate notions of punishment from crime," 36 and recognize that there are other highly rational motives behind the prison system.
The legal system has been designed to control poor people of color and poor people in general. The most obvious manifestation of creating laws to target poor people of color is with the War on Drugs. In September 2000, the U.S. produced-five years late its initial report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In a review of the report, Human Rights Watch argued that one of it’s " most significant weaknesses was in its consideration of the role of race discrimination in the criminal justice system." HRW writes that while it was mostly a typical government whitewash of institutionalized white supremacy:
The report did acknowledge the dramatic, racially disparate impact of federal sentencing laws that prescribe different sentences for powder cocaine versus crack cocaine offenses, even though the two drugs are pharmacologically identical. The laws impose a mandatory five year prison sentence on anyone convicted of selling five grams or more of crack cocaine, and a ten year mandatory sentence for selling 50 grams or more. One hundred times as much powder cocaine must be sold to receive the same sentences. By setting a much lower drug-weight threshold for crack than powder cocaine, the laws resulted in substantially higher sentences for crack cocaine offenders. Although the majority of crack users were white, blacks compromised almost 90 percent of federal offenders convicted of crack offenses and hence served longer sentences for similar drug crimes than whites." 37
Christian Parenti reports that " drug offenders constituted more than a third (36 percent) of the increase in state prison populations between 1985 and 1994; in the federal system drug offenders make up more than two-thirds (71 percent) of the prison population." 38
In their pamphlet " The Prison Industrial Complex and the Global Economy," Linda Evans and Eve Goldberg argue that the war on drugs can be seen as a pre-emptive strike: " Put poor people away before they get angry, Incarcerate those at the bottom, the helpless, the hopeless, before they demand change. What drugs don’t damage (in terms of intact communities, the ability to take action, to organize) the war on drugs and mass imprisonment will surely destroy." 39
Seen in light of CIA complicity in drug importation, we can expose what the criminal justice system is really all about. The war on drugs and the criminal justice system is designed to control colonized populations through terror. Parenti argues that:
This politics of punishment works in two ways: it contains and controls those who violate the class-biased laws of our society, but prison also produces a predator class that, when returned to the street, frightens and disorganizes communities, effectively driving poor and working people into the arms of the state, seeking protection. Thus both crime control and crime itself keep people down.40
The state (through the criminal justice system) has been manipulated by the corporate ruling classes to ensure the continuation of their dominant societal position. Instead of existing to assist communities in living a healthy and positive lifestyle, it is designed to assist in the colonization of poor people of color and the poor in general.
The WTO and Counterinsurgency
Counterinsurgency is the dirty work needed to enforce the unequal racial and class structures imposed by the WTO and the transnational corporations that the WTO serves. The WTO attempts to present an image of itself as making world laws to promote balance, equality, and democracy. This is a well-constructed propaganda campaign designed to mask the truth: the WTO provides public legitimacy to a violent and genocidal campaign of world conquest by (mostly U.S.-based) transnational corporations.
Propaganda like this was recently used in the 1999 bombing of Serbia, where a brutal military assault designed to worsen the situation for the oppressed, was officially done as a humanitarian venture to help the oppressed ethnic communities of the region. As I write this, the U.S. military is terrorizing Afghani civilians with cluster bombs and other brutal anti-human weaponry. At the same time it is dropping food shipments to give the impression that it is trying to help the oppressed and starving people of Afghanistan.
We must not let history be erased and remember that 98% of the North American indigenous population was murdered by 1900 in the name of Christianity and humanitarianism. So too, the Atlantic Slave Trade and black chattel slavery in the U.S. was done in the name of humanitarianism and good-will. The War on Drugs is the major pretext today for the rise of state terror and the dismantling of human rights. Unmasking this state terror campaign is fundamental for fighting the power of U.S. corporations.
1 James Baldwin, interviewed by The Black Scholar, 5 (December 1973--January 1974), 33-42. Reprinted in Fred L. Standley and Louis H. Pratt (eds.), Conversations With James Baldwin, (Jackson and London: 1989) pg.148.
2 On Webb’s story and the corporate media attack see:
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the
Press, Verso Press, New York and London, 1998 and Robert Parry, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press& " Project Truth" , The Media Consortium, Arlington (VA), 1999.
3 For solid scholarship proving CIA drug trafficking, see:
McCoy, Alfred W., The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago 1991, and Peter Dale Scott & Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, University of California Press, 1991. Dale Scott and Marshall devote most of the book to reviewing Senator Kerry’s findings.
4 Clarence Lusane, " Cracking the CIA-Contra Drug Connection," Covert Action Quarterly, Winter 1996-97, #59. Lusane specifically argues that " Black leaders must move beyond criticism of the Contra involvement in drug trafficking to questioning a foreign policy that shows little regard for democratic processes or the interests of the poor and working people in the developing world."
5 Newton received his PhD from University of California at Santa Cruz in the History of Consciousness department in 1980. His PhD
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