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Kissinger and Chile The Myth That Will Not Die
American Enterprise Institute ^ | October 31, 2003 | By Mark Falcoff

Posted on 11/01/2003 6:27:48 AM PST by Huber

The 30th anniversary of the coup d'etat that deposed Chile's Marxist president Salvador Allende has come and gone, but not without a burst of accusations of American complicity with--if not responsibility for--that event. Even before the commemorations had gotten under way, Secretary of State Colin Powell took it upon himself to apologize for the U.S. role in Chile, though in terms so vague as to leave many wondering exactly what he was referring to.

The fact that the coup itself took place on the very same date--September 11--that the World Trade Center was destroyed by a sensational terrorist attack in 2001 was a coincidence too fraught to be overlooked. In an editorial titled "The Other September 11," the New York Times, with characteristic condescension, reminded its readers that "our nation's hands have not always been clean" and managed to suggest a smoking gun ("the United States . . . laid the groundwork for [the coup] and supported the plotters") without actually producing one. The foreign press was more categorical. In Le Monde, the flagship daily of anti-Americans worldwide, a front-page cartoon on September 11 depicted a plane about to hit the World Trade Center. But the roles of villain and victim had been grotesquely altered: the twin towers were labeled "Chile," the plane "USA."

The name invariably linked to our Chilean involvement is that of Henry Kissinger, today the leading survivor of the Nixon administration and at the time the evident architect of much of its foreign policy, first as National Security Adviser and then as Secretary of State. The case against him has been before the public for several years now, most notably in an article by Christopher Hitchens in Harper's that was subsequently reproduced in Hitchens's book The Trial of Henry Kissinger and then repeated with a wealth of lurid detail in a BBC "documentary" in which Hitchens appears as prosecutor-in-chief. In addition to his supposed role as the intellectual author of the coup, Kissinger has been accused in both film and book of responsibility for the murder of General Rene Schneider, commander-in-chief of the Chilean army--that is, of homicide. The sons of the late general, egged on by political sympathizers in Europe and the United States, have even filed suit against Kissinger in hopes of recovering substantial damages for their father's death.

Chilean politics past or present is not a particular specialty of Americans, even Americans normally well informed about world affairs. What people know--or think they know--about that country is often a digest of newspaper headlines and of vague allegations, rather than substantiated facts. But neither is Chilean politics a specialty of Christopher Hitchens, the New York Times, or Le Monde. As we shall see, their interests would appear to lie largely elsewhere.

II

The starting point for the Chilean drama was a presidential election that took place in September 1970, three full years before the military coup whose anniversary was recently marked. There were several candidates. One-- Salvador Allende, a socialist and avowed Marxist running in coalition with the Communist party--came in first, with 36.3 percent of the vote. Within a razor's edge behind him was former President Jorge Alessandri, the candidate of the Right, who received 34.9 percent. Radomiro Tomic, of the ruling Christian Democrats, came in third with 27.8 percent.

Such presidential elections, with no candidate receiving an absolute majority, were common in Chile. The constitutional procedures of the day specifically mandated that, instead of a runoff between the two leading candidates, the winner was to be selected by the Chilean congress, scheduled to meet several weeks hence. Although the legislature was not strictly required to opt for the frontrunner, firm custom suggested that it would do so. What raised the stakes in the 1970 race was the presence of Allende himself, a man with strong Soviet-bloc and Cuban connections and even more sinister associations within Chile's far Left. Consequently, between the election on September 4 and the congressional vote on October 24, Chile was awash in rumors and plots, most of them related to efforts to block Allende's accession to power.

In Washington, meanwhile, President Richard Nixon was hardly pleased by the prospect of an Allende presidency, and was taking steps to prevent it. This much has been a matter of public record for nearly 30 years. The primary sources are two reports by a committee led by the late Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho, one entitled Alleged Assassination Plots of Foreign Leaders and the other Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973 (both published in 1975). The findings of the Church committee exonerate the administration of unlawful activity-- a noteworthy fact in light of the circumstances that both the chairman and the majority of the members (and, even more, their staffs) were unremittingly hostile to the Nixon White House and anxious, if possible, to find embarrassing linkages between it and events in Chile.

There is another primary source as well. In 1998, the Clinton administration was moved by the arrest in London of Allende's successor, the dictator Augusto Pinochet, to order the (heavily redacted) declassification of some 17,000 official U.S. documents relating to the period. The most important of these have been placed on the website of the National Security Archive--a left-wing organization not to be confused with the U.S. National Archives. They also form the basis of a new book by the Archive's Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, released this past September 11.[1]

Great things have been claimed for the Clinton declassifications. Thanks to them, Christopher Hitchens has been able to boast that in his book "I produce [government] documents that plainly show the orchestration of a plot to murder General Rene Schneider." Likewise, he remarks, in the suit filed by the general's family, "every paper for the prosecution is a declassified document of the U.S. government." In fact, however, the Clinton declassifications are less rich in information than the findings of the Church committee, which was able to examine the documentary record in its unexpurgated form and also to interrogate the participants under oath. Nor do the Clinton declassifications contribute anything particularly useful to the case against Kissinger. Some of them actually corroborate the findings of the Church committee, and, what is even more ironic, support Kissinger's own version of events as laid out in the relevant volumes of his memoirs.

That version is itself buttressed at points by other information, especially transcripts of Kissinger's conversations with relevant figures in Washington and elsewhere. Some of these conversations took place by telephone. Records of Kissinger's telephone exchanges, covering the entire span of his government service, are now in the process of being released--they form, for instance, the primary basis of his new book, Crisis, dealing with the Yom Kippur war and the end of the Vietnam war. All of them have been given by him for inclusion in the Nixon Library. Although the records relating specifically to Chile are not yet in the public domain, they will be before long, and he has kindly let me review them in advance.

First and foremost, these transcripts establish that Chile was not an important part of the then-National Security Adviser's daily diet. This point is crucial, not least because in the BBC film we are continually being told that Kissinger micromanaged every detail of American foreign policy. While that may have been true for subjects of high geo-political import, Chile was not one of them. In fact, during September and October 1970--which is to say, between the Chilean election and the congressional vote the telephone record reveals a Kissinger preoccupied with a full-blown Middle East crisis, Vietnam, a Soviet submarine base in Cuba, the Black September plane hijacking, Nixon's planned visit to Europe and to the Sixth Fleet, the defense budget, and the Pugwash conference on U.S.-Soviet relations, but with Chile only slightly. Thereafter, there is nothing at all until June 1973, when he and Nixon discuss a failed military revolt against Allende, and then no further references until after Pinochet's assumption of power with the September 11 coup.

But this is not really surprising. During much of the Allende presidency, Kissinger was in Paris, Moscow, Beijing, or other locales of far greater importance to the U.S. than Santiago. And even when the subject was again broached at the time of the coup, Kissinger was principally concerned with the possible resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew and preparations for his own confirmation hearings as Secretary of State.

This is hardly to say, however, that the telephone documents are uninformative; far from it. In what follows I shall be drawing freely on them as well as on other pertinent sources to reconstruct the true course of events.

III

President Nixon was indeed deeply distressed at the prospect of an Allende presidency in Chile, and on September 15, 1970, he summoned Kissinger, Attorney General John Mitchell, and CIA director Richard Helms for a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the matter. As Helms's notes of the meeting reflect, Nixon was determined to "save Chile" from Allende "even if the chances [were] one in ten." At dais meeting there was even loose talk about spending $ 10 million to provoke a coup, and "more if necessary." Helms remonstrated with the President that Allende would in all likelihood be chosen by the Chilean congress and that only a "slight possibility" existed of a move by senior elements of the country's military to block his confirmation. "Moreover," Helms recalls in his posthumous memoir, A Look Over My Shoulder (2003), "I noted that the [CIA] lacked the means of motivating the military to intervene." But the President was unmoved: "Standing mid-track and shouting at an oncoming locomotive," recalls Helms, "might have been more effective."

Convinced that a conventional military uprising was still not possible in Chile, the CIA, acting with the approval of the 40 Committee--the body charged with overseeing covert actions abroad--devised what in effect was a constitutional coup. The most expeditious way to prevent Allende from assuming office was somehow to convince the Chilean congress to confirm Alessandri as the winner of the election. Once elected by the congress, Alessandri--a party to the plot through intermediaries--was prepared to resign his presidency within a matter of days so that new elections could be held.

The particular charm of this ploy was that an Alessandri presidency, even if it lasted a mere 24 hours, would render outgoing President Eduardo Frei eligible to run again, tiffs time in a two-headed race against Allende. (Chile's constitution, then as now, prohibited consecutive terms.) Under those circumstances, Frei--a Christian Democrat and still the most popular of modern Chilean presidents--could be reasonably expected to defeat Allende fair and square.

This plot, known colloquially as the "Alessandri" or "Rube Goldberg" gambit, required two things to succeed. Frei had to agree to play the role assigned to him, and he would also have to persuade his own followers in congress to cast their votes for Alessandri. Both obstacles proved insurmountable. As Ambassador Edward Korry's cables from Santiago show, though Frei was deeply troubled by the prospect of an Allende presidency-- accurately predicting that it would end in "blood and horror"--he was extremely reluctant to lend himself to a perversion of Chile's electoral traditions. And even had he been amenable, he would have been unable to persuade most Christian Democrats in Congress to vote for a conservative like Alessandri, no matter how brief his putative rule. For, by 1970, Frei's party was already leaning considerably further to the Left than Frei himself; its official candidate, Radomiro Tomic, had precipitously recognized Allende as president-elect on election night.

In the meantime, even as the U.S. embassy in Santiago was pursuing the "Alessandri gambit," an alternative line of activity was being looked into by the CIA station in Chile. This policy, later labeled Track II (to distinguish it from the constitutional coup), involved finding a general or generals who, if President Frei and the Christian Democrats would not play the role assigned to them, would overthrow the outgoing government, dissolve the congress, and send the president into temporary exile. Then the interim junta would call elections (at an unspecified but presumably early date) in which President Frei could return and run against Allende.

Or something like that. Nixon's instructions to the CIA were simply to forestall Allende's inauguration; he was not interested in the details, or apparently in the kind of government that would emerge in Allende's place.

IV

The search for a military man brought the CIA station into contact with General Roberto Viaux, who had been cashiered from the Chilean army in 1969 for leading a revolt against the Christian Democratic government (ostensibly in protest over military salaries and benefits). Since his dismissal, Viaux had continued to conspire, but with larger ideological and political objectives in mind. In early October, by which time Track I had run out of gas, he informed his CIA contacts that he was planning another coup and asked for a sizable drop of arms and ammunition.

Apart from the fact that (according to Helms) the CIA thought Viaux a bit "far out," the notion that a group of senior army officers required foreign arms to stage a coup did not inspire confidence. After subsequent discussion, the CIA decided Viaux was not a good bet, though it kept him on a long leash, disbursing some cash and even taking out an insurance policy on his life. Another group of generals was eventually selected for the task at hand. Before it could act, however, a roadblock had to be removed.

The chief obstacle to Track II was General Rend Schneider, commander-in-chief of the Chilean army. His view, simply stated, was that since the politicians had gotten the country into the mess in which it found itself, the politicians would have to find a way out. This position be maintained sturdily throughout September and October in the face of almost daily representations by retired officers, politicians, and businessmen begging him to "save the country" either by supporting a constitutional coup or by some other means. As General Carlos Prats, his second in command, has reported Schneider's words to him at the time, "the politicians are maneuvering to push the army into an adventure. They should understand that we are not so stupid as to not realize that they want to 'use' us, some to preserve their political unity, others as a 'trampoline' for Viaux." When Schneider proved intransigent, the intermediaries tried to persuade Prats, again to no effect. The architects of Track II then focused on circumventing Schneider by kidnapping him and sending him to neighboring Argentina for a season while the political situation was adjusted.

As far as Kissinger (and, for that matter, the White House) was concerned, Viaux had been told to stand down, and that was presumably the end of active American coup-plotting. As Kissinger told Nixon by telephone on October 15, reporting on a meeting with Thomas Karamassines of the CIA's Western Hemisphere division, "This looks hopeless. I turned it off. Nothing would be worse than an abortive coup." The President responded, "Just tell him to do nothing." The next day, CIA headquarters cabled its station in Santiago that although "we are to continue to generate maximum pressure" toward a coup, "a Viaux coup . . . would fail" and Viaux should be warned "against precipitate action." The message was delivered through an intermediary, leaving the CIA with the pious hope that once its wishes had been made known, Viaux would respect them.

Unfortunately, the cashiered Chilean general was pursuing agendas of his own. The kidnapping itself, which took place early on the morning of October 22, was badly bungled. Schneider resisted by extracting a handgun from his briefcase, provoking his abductors--mostly young and inexperienced--into shooting first, wounding him in four vital areas. Viaux's people panicked and took flight, some discarding their arms near the scene of the crime. The general was rushed to the capital's military hospital, where he died three days later.

V

Much has been made of the fact that between October 15, when Kissinger ordered the Viaux coup "turned off," and the death of General Schneider, the CIA station in Santiago continued to make preparations for a Track II- type coup. Thus, at some point in mid-October three submachine guns and some tear-gas canisters and gas masks were shipped to the Chilean capital through the U.S. diplomatic pouch and passed to Colonel Paul Wimert, an American military attache, who in turn gave them to officers representing General Camilo Valenzuela, head of the Santiago garrison. This was the group that had intended to kidnap General Schneider. The exchange occurred at two in the morning of October 22; but before any use could be made of the weaponry, General Schneider lay dying in the hospital.

Eventually, the machine guns were returned unused to Wimert, who discarded them in the Pacific Ocean. A Chilean military court subsequently found that Schneider had been killed by handguns, and the Church committee concluded that these weapons "were, in all probability, not those supplied by the CIA to the conspirators." The committee also noted that an unloaded machine gun had been found at the site of the killing, but professed itself "unable to determine whether [it] was one of the three supplied by the CIA." Schneider was therefore killed by conspirators who, although in contact with the CIA, were acting against its direct instruction, and apparently without its logistical assistance.

Just why the Chilean kidnapping plot went forward after Kissinger issued orders that General Viaux be "turned off" is not clear. Possibly it was because Nixon's express desire to prevent Allende's accession was so emphatic that Colonel Wimert and other CIA personnel felt somewhat at liberty to go ahead on their own. Kissinger, at any rate, seems to have been unaware of the second plot--that is, the one for which the three machine guns were sent down. In 1975, after testifying before the Church committee, Karamassines phoned the National Security Adviser and reported that he had been "asked . . . if I cleared everything in advance with you. I said no, you were too busy." In the same conversation, Kissinger remarks that, although he did not know about the second plot, he might have approved it. Then he adds: "I thought that after we turned off that one thing [the Viaux plot], nothing more had happened and in fact that other thing [the Schneider kidnapping] had happened."

In short, deplore as one might the interventionist intentions of Nixon, Kissinger, and the CIA, the fact remains that General Schneider was murdered as the result of a botched kidnapping attempt, which--as far as the White House was concerned--had been disavowed and ordered shut down a full week before it happened.

Even more has been made of a CIA cable dated October 16 instructing the Santiago station to tell Viaux that, although he was to stand down, he should "preserve [his] assets" and would "continue to have our support" if he joined forces with others either before or after Allende's inauguration and amplified his political planning for the future, in fact, Viaux played no future role whatsoever in Chilean politics. He was arrested almost immediately after Schneider's murder and sentenced by a military court to a long prison term. In August 1973, he was released and sent to Paraguay; neither he nor any of the officers involved in his plot was involved in the September 11 coup. When he finally returned to Chile, six or seven years later, the Pinochet government offered him no special consideration.

Neither Hitchens's book nor the film upon which it is based takes note of a crucial fact: namely, that the Schneider debacle had precisely the opposite effect of what was desired by the CIA and the Nixon administration. It transformed its victim into a martyr of the "constitutionalist" traditions of the Chilean army; it encouraged other constitutionalist officers to support an orderly transfer of power to the new Allende administration; it brought General Carlos Prats, another officer of firm constitutionalist leanings, to the head of the army; and it discredited right-wing cabals both inside the army and out.

It is strange that this outcome should go unremarked by critics who profess to care for Chile and who should presumably take comfort from it--but, given their invincible biases, perhaps it is not so strange after all.

VI

Kissinger has been charged with criminal responsibility not just for Schneider's assassination. He has also been charged with criminal responsibility for Allende's overthrow and death three years later.

The CIA's October 16 cable contained another passage that is quoted with much relish in the BBC movie The Trials of Henry Kissinger, even though there is no indication that Kissinger ever saw the document. In it, the CIA enunciates its

firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup . . . [E]fforts in this regard will continue vigorously. . . . We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource.

In the movie, these highlighted words are immediately followed by horrific images of the events of September 11, 1973, which included the bombing of the presidential palace, the arrest and torture of hundreds of dissidents, and the accession to power of an unusually cruel military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. As it happens, however, the quotation and the events depicted on the screen collapse two completely different moments in U.S. policy and in the history of Chile.

In the fall of 1970, Nixon certainly talked tough, at least in private, telling Kissinger by phone on October 15 that if Allende were to take office, "I am not going to do a thing for [Chile]," and that if he dared to nationalize U.S. property, "then we cut him off." Not surprisingly, a National Security Council memorandum (November 9, 1970), drafted several days after Allende's inauguration and released in the Clinton declassifications, called for a "correct but cool" public posture toward Chile while at the same time "maximiz[ing] pressures on the Allende government to prevent its consolidation and limit its ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemispheric interests." Specifically, the memorandum advocated eliminating financial guarantees for U.S. private investment in Chile; terminating existing guarantees where possible; bringing "feasible influence" to bear at multilateral lending institutions; and offering no new commitments of bilateral economic aid. (Humanitarian aid was to be considered on a case-by-case basis.)

Meanwhile, however, an "options paper" on Chile (November 3, 1970), sketching how these policies were to be implemented, included two provisions not mentioned in the memorandum. The first was "to give articulate support, publicly and privately, to democratic elements in Chile opposed to the Allende regime by all appropriate means." The second was to "maintain effective relations with the Chilean military, letting them know that we want to cooperate but that our ability to do so depends on Chilean government actions."

The former provision laid the groundwork for the transfer of at least $ 6 million in covert support to non-Marxist political parties, newspapers, radio stations, and oilier groups during the Allende period. Thanks to these transfers, Allende found it impossible to eliminate his political competition by confiscating the sources of their funding or by intentionally bankrupting independent newspapers or radio stations through politically inspired strikes. Without the American subventions, Chile's pluralistic political system--including an independent press and electronic media--would in all probability have disappeared long before General Pinochet and his associates overthrew the government and installed a dictatorship of their own. As for the latter provision, it merely outlined a "business-as-usual" relationship with the Chilean military while saying and doing nothing to encourage the military's involvement in politics.

The documentary evidence is thus unambiguous: the most serious charge that can be levied against the Nixon administration is that it contemplated economic sanctions against Chile at a time when Allende had yet to lay a hand on American investments in the country and was still making payments on Chile's debts. But even that envisaged policy was never truly implemented. In spite of Nixon's decision to end all bilateral assistance not already committed, new appropriations--however token in proportion to the past--were authorized during every year of the Allende government. Even after the increasingly bankrupt country defaulted on its debts to the United States in November 1971, "old" U.S. loans continued to be disbursed, amounting (according to one U.S. Treasury estimate) to $ 200 million for 1971 and 1972; nor was humanitarian aid withdrawn. Though Chile nationalized American holdings in the copper industry in 1971 without making a satisfactory arrangement for compensation--pushing the U.S. government-funded Overseas Private Investment Corporation to the brink of bankruptcy--the notorious Hickenlooper Amendment (requiring a suspension of aid to any country that expropriates U.S. property without payment) was never invoked.

Besides, Chile's default constituted a de-facto relief measure for the Allende regime, amounting in 1972 alone to $ 243 million--an effective transfer of resources greater by many orders of magnitude than that tendered to the Frei administration at a time when the latter was supposedly Washington's "showcase" in Latin America. In addition, Allende was able to tap new sources of credit in Western and Eastern Europe--in 1972, somewhere between $ 600 and $ 950 million. As a key functionary of his finance ministry would recall, by mid-1973 "Chile had rebuilt and diversified its system of external finance" and by June of that year had obtained short-term credits amounting to $ 547 million. To this should be added the fact that between November 1970 and September 1973, Chile was able to draw slightly more than $ 100 million from the International Monetary Fund, presumably over the protests of U.S. representatives there.

The one area where U.S. aid increased threefold during the Allende period was military assistance. If this sounds sinister, two crucial facts should be borne in mind. First, the aid relieved pressures on the Chilean budget, allowing money that would otherwise have been used for weaponry and training to be diverted to improved housing allowances and other amenities for the uniformed services. Second, Allende himself welcomed this assistance, which permitted him to boast, truthfully, that Chile's armed forces were better off under a Socialist-Communist government than under its Christian Democratic predecessor. Indeed, to the end of his regime President Allende saw the armed forces as an element on the chessboard to be used and manipulated for his own political purposes.

VII

What, then, brought about the September 11, 1973 coup? The real causes must he sought in the devastating collapse of the Chilean economy that took place during the Allende presidency, as well as in Chile's increasingly polarized political environment.

On November 4, 1970, Salvador Allende assumed the presidency in an atmosphere of euphoria and even good will almost unimaginable in retrospect. Apart from his own four-party coalition (Popular Unity) headed by the Socialist and Communist parties, the new president could count on the "critical support" of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), which historically had questioned the possibility of social change in Chile through peaceful electoral means. More important still, he took office, as we have seen, at a time when the leading opposition party, the Christian Democrats, was anxious to compete for the labels "progressive" and even "revolutionary." After his inauguration, Allende met with the Christian Democratic leadership in an atmosphere of good humor and camaraderie; the chief of the delegation even urged the president to "help us be good allendistas."

Instead, intoxicated by ideological triumphalism, Allende's people did everything they could to split the Christian Democrats, luring the party's left wing over to the governing coalition while wreaking political vengeance on the rest. As Allende supporters seized factories and farms throughout Chile, Christian Democratic workers were dismissed and their union leaders refused access to the premises. Political discrimination even extended to nonpolitical individuals for family reasons; the son of President Frei, an engineer, found himself in difficulty when his workplace passed into the hands of government "intervenors."

The net effect of these actions was, paradoxically, to discredit the "collaborationist" leadership of the Christian Democrats and bring about its replacement with more conservative figures. By 1973, the party had been pushed into a tactical electoral alliance with the Right, a development that would have been unthinkable three years earlier. In March 1973, in the last parliamentary election held under Allende, the combined Christian Democratic- Conservative list won a thumping 56 percent of the vote.

These and other ominous shifts in political allegiance were hugely facilitated by Allende's domestic economic actions--including the harassment of small business, planned dislocations in the country's food supply, and the uninhibited printing of unbacked currency. The constant threat to independent operators led to a major trucker's strike in 1972, which then spread disastrously to other sectors of the economy; tampering with the country's distribution system produced widespread shortages of food; and the flooding of the country with paper money ended in uncontrollable inflation.

One result of the ensuing chaos was that Allende found himself relying heavily on the military just to remain in power. Several times he was compelled to ask flag officers to serve in key ministries; in the final phase of the regime, General Prats was functioning as his minister of interior. These innovations introduced enormous stresses within the armed forces; Prats's growing closeness to Allende--it amounted to a kind of ideological seduction--undetermined his own position in the military, and in August 1973 he was forced to go into voluntary exile in neighboring Argentina.

VIII

By that time, Allende's problems had become so acute as to merit notice once more by the President of the United States. The immediate occasion was a failed military plot against Allende that had been quashed by loyalist troops. Nixon and Kissinger discussed the matter by telephone on July 4, 1973. Not surprisingly, the President expressed regret that the coup failed ("if only the army could get a few people behind them!"). For his part, Kissinger told the President that "we had nothing to do with it." Both agreed that the prospect of flag officers leaving the Chilean cabinet was bound to deepen the crisis and put Allende in an even more disadvantageous position.

For the next two months, no further phone conversations took place between Kissinger and the Nixon White House on the subject of Chile. Not until the events surrounding the September 11 coup did they resume.

Within hours of that event, the prestige American press was circulating rumors to the effect that Washington had had prior word of the plot. On September 13, for example, the New York Times carried a headline--"U.S. Had Warning of Coup, Aides Say"--leading readers to inter that knowledge possessed by Washington and deliberately withheld from the Allende government had spelled the difference between its survival and its demise. In fact, however, as Ken Rush, a White House aide, said to Kissinger on that same day, "What [Assistant Secretary, of State Jack] Kubish told me was that we knew nothing about it; that we had not been told about it and it came as a complete surprise to us." Rush added: "I didn't know that a coup was coming at any particular date. We'd been hearing coup rumors for about a year."

Kissinger was better informed than the White House. A few days before the coup, Ambassador Nathaniel Davis had been recalled to Washington, not to discuss Chile per se but to be looked over as a possible candidate for a high State Department post. As he walked into Kissinger's office, he was asked immediately about the possibilities of a coup. The recorded transcript of their conversation was reproduced by Kissinger in his memoir, Years of Upheaval (1982). "In Chile you can never count on anything," the ambassador said, "but the odds are in favor of a coup, though I can't give you any time frame." Kissinger: "We are going to stay out of that, I assume." Davis: "Yes. My firm instructions to everybody on the staff are that we are not to involve ourselves in any way. . . . Our biggest problem is to keep from getting caught in the middle."

Davis's "information" was no secret. The truth is that every cat and dog in Chile knew a coup was coming at some point in September 1973, and so did Allende himself. The only questions were who would lead it, who would replace Allende, and what ideological tendency would prevail once the government was dissolved. During a private lunch with the president a few days before his departure into Argentine exile, General Prats himself warned Allende that he would be overthrown within the next ten days. When the president asked whether Prats's ministerial replacement, General Augusto Pinochet, would remain loyal, Prats said he thought so but that the issue was irrelevant. "Even the most constitutionalist of officers," he later recalled telling the president in this most bizarre of exchanges, "will understand that a division within the armed forces would mean civil war." In effect, officers would either respect the decision of the coup-makers or be swept aside.[2]

Contrary, then, to what the film The Trials of Henry Kissinger suggests, there was no straight line between the events of 1970 and the coup of 1973. Rather, conscious choices by Allende and his own people drove the military into action that it would normally have been disinclined to carry out. This was certainly the impression conveyed, for example, by a U.S. naval attache who cabled a few days after the coup that the "decision to remove the Allende government was made with extreme reluctance and only after the deepest soul-searching by all concerned."

As for President Nixon, he was evidently pleased--how could he not have been?--but exhibited no sense of complicity with the coup-makers themselves. As he said on the phone to Kissinger on September 16, "Well, we didn't--as you know--our hand doesn't show on this one though." To which Kissinger replied, "We didn't do it."

IX

The United States did play a role in Chile, though not precisely the one ascribed to it. It attempted-- unsuccessfully--to forestall Allende's confirmation by the Chilean congress. But once he was in office, the thrust of U.S. policy shifted to sustaining a democratic opposition and an independent press until Allende could be defeated in the presidential elections scheduled for 1976. To the extent that this opposition was able to survive under extraordinarily difficult economic circumstances--winning control of the Chilean congress in March 1973-- one might even credit the Nixon administration with preventing the consolidation of Allende's "totalitarian project" (to use the apt expression of Eduardo Frei).

What then followed--a right-wing dictatorship that crushed not merely the Allende regime but Chilean democracy itself--was not and could not have been predicted, partly because of the military's own apolitical traditions and partly because, by mid-1973, the opposition to Allende was dominated by forces of proved democratic provenance. To the contrary, Washington's presumption--that in the 1976 elections, if they were allowed to take place, the opposition would win decisively--was amply supported by the facts. It was only the savagery of the subsequent Pinochet dictatorship that in hindsight altered the historical picture.

As the years passed, the contumely into which Allende and his associates had deservedly fallen in Chile at the time of their overthrow came to be neutralized, then canceled out, by martyrdom. Then, too, the undifferentiated contempt with which the military subsequently treated all political forces except those on the far Right threw together people who in August and September 1973 had been ready to face off in a kind of civil war. In that sense, General Pinochet--in spite of himself--may be considered the unanticipated progenitor of the Socialist- Christian Democratic coalition governments that have governed Chile from 1989 to the present.

The Allende regime also benefited retrospectively from its evident association with the old democratic order; it had, after all, been elected. How much longer it would have remained part of that order, which it was busily undermining, must remain a matter of controversy. But to the day of its demise, it enjoyed a marginal legitimacy that would elude its military successor. In this respect, too, Pinochet and his associates played an unexpected role--rescuing for Allende and his government a place in Chilean history they did not earn and to which they could not otherwise have looked forward.

Such are a few of the pesky but all-important details that "revisionists" like Hitchens and the makers of The Trials of Henry Kissinger are at pains to avoid, if indeed they were ever aware of them in the first place. Those who mourn the loss of a Marxist regime in Chile are free to denounce the adversarial efforts undertaken by Nixon, Kissinger, and the CIA, as are the legions of marchers with their placards equating American officials with Nazis and mass murderers. Those, like the editorialists of the New York Times, who are indifferent to the uses of anti- Americanism are likewise free to join the chorus. But anyone with a serious concern for historical truth--or for the long-term survival of democracy in Chile--or for the reputation of the United States and the policy it endeavored with honor to implement during the tortuous decades of the cold war--might well be moved to reexamine the record.

Notes

1. New Press, 551 pp., $ 29.95.

2. Prats's memoirs are of particular interest because they were written in exile at a time when he had become, post bog a virtual partisan of the Allende regime and was seen by many as a potential challenger to Pinochet's military government. They were completed just before he and his wife were killed by a car bomb in Buenos Aires planted by Pinochet's secret police, but remained unpublished until 1985 when book censorship was ended in Chile.

Mark Falcoff is a resident scholar at AEI.

Source Notes: This article appears in the November 2003 issue of Commentary


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: aei; allende; anniversary; chile; coulter; coup; kissinger; latinamerica; myths; pinochet; salvadorallende
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Future topic for Ann Coulter?
1 posted on 11/01/2003 6:27:49 AM PST by Huber
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To: Huber
read later ...rto
2 posted on 11/01/2003 6:40:04 AM PST by visitor (dems make it difficult to speak the TRUTH)
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To: visitor
Huber: Let me help make this more pallitable for the average busy Freeper.

(Summary Part I) The media, particularly Christopher Hutchins, are obsessed with "America's role" in the coup d'tat that deposed Chile's Allende 30 years ago.

(Summary Part II) Henry Kissinger was a very busy man who had very little time to bother with Allende and Chile.

3 posted on 11/01/2003 6:47:05 AM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: Argh
Bump.
4 posted on 11/01/2003 6:51:48 AM PST by Argh
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To: Huber
Future topic for Ann Coulter?

What? That the only good thing Kissinger ever did he didn't really do?

5 posted on 11/01/2003 6:56:50 AM PST by tallhappy
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To: Huber
Falcoff's declaration that the New York Times was "indifferent to the uses of anti-Americanism," was true not only for Chile but for most of its reporting on Latin America since 1960.
6 posted on 11/01/2003 7:04:09 AM PST by gaspar
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To: Huber
Pinochet was a hero who reluctantly put himself forward to save South America from the Communists. He then instituted free market reform and voluntarily stepped down and held free elections.

That he dished back out 10% of what the communists gave is the supposed reason for calling him a murderer and a war criminal.

7 posted on 11/01/2003 7:13:30 AM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
bump
8 posted on 11/01/2003 7:26:14 AM PST by KC_Conspirator (This space for rent)
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To: Huber
(Summary Part III) Nixon wanted to forestall Allende's inauguration, so the CIA devised Plan A (a constitutional coup and Plan B (a military coup).

(Summary Part IV) Kissinger ordered Plan B to be called off. CIA attempted to get General Viaux to stand down, but he did not. Viaux's people, in a bungled kidnapping attempt, murdered General Schneider who opposed a military coup.

(Summary Part V) The murder of General Schneider encouraged other "constitutionalist" officers to support an orderly transfer of power to the new Allende administration.

(Summary Part VI) During the 3 years(1970-73) that Allende remained in power, he built up the military using foreign lines of credit and confiscation of foreign and domestic investment within Chile.

(Summary Part VII) Allende's totalitarianism and confiscation of personal property and personal property rights caused unrest nationwide, forcing Allende to depend on the military to stay in power. Allende disenfranchised too many government officials.

(Summary Part VIII) Rumors of a coup were spread internationally. Even Allende knew he was about to be overthrown. When it was over, President Nixon thought we had a discrete hand in the final events. Ambassador Kissinger told President Nixon that we were not involved.
9 posted on 11/01/2003 7:50:02 AM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: Huber
(Summary Part IX) .."What then followed--a right-wing dictatorship that crushed not merely the Allende regime but Chilean democracy itself--was not and could not have been predicted."

Huber- You need to summarize the conclusion.

10 posted on 11/01/2003 7:57:07 AM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: tallhappy
What? That the only good thing Kissinger ever did he didn't really do?

LOL - If you say so. Kissinger's contributions to the US are debatable with valid arguments on both sides. Either way, however, it would be better if the history we teach our children were based on fact vs. the NY Times agenda.

11 posted on 11/01/2003 8:06:09 AM PST by Huber (Secularism is the opium of the elite.)
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To: Rodney King
That he dished back out 10% of what the communists gave is the supposed reason for calling him a murderer and a war criminal.

Are you saying that the commies weren't "fair and balanced?"

Saying that he was a hero, however, is a fairly broad statement. Can you provide any facts for us to back up your point?

12 posted on 11/01/2003 8:10:10 AM PST by Huber (Secularism is the opium of the elite.)
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To: Huber
Saying that he was a hero, however, is a fairly broad statement. Can you provide any facts for us to back up your point?

Well, the early 70's were a terrible time for the cause of Freedom in the world. The communists were on the march all over the world, and South America was looking good for them. Pinochet was not neccessarily the obvious choice to lead the coup. He led the coup because where other generals demurred in the face trouble, afraid of course of the consequences, Pinochet stood up to be counted because he did not want to see Chile and South America fall to the communists. And it's not like Pinochet did this on a whim, he ahd the support of both the congress and the supreme court.

After he won, he instituted sweeping free-market reforms, creating a retirment system that we ought to emulate. Later, when the communist threat was gone, he voluntarily stepped down and held free elections. Who knows what South America would look like if not for Piochet? Who knows whether or not hte Soviet Union would have collapsed had all of South America gone communist? Yes, some communists were killed by the government. It was war. You cannot expect a fragile government to stand idly by while communists financed by Cuba and the Soviet Union attempt to topple it and replace it with a communist dictatorship. If freedom is a natural right, then those who attempt to take away freedom by foreign financed insurrection should expect to be treated as foregin soldiers committing an act of war.

What is needed today is more leaders like Pinochet in Brazil and Venezuela.

13 posted on 11/01/2003 8:23:00 AM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Rodney King
He then instituted free market reform and voluntarily stepped down and held free elections.

He stepped down seventeen years later after his government murdered thousands of dissidents and he suffered a crushing defeat in a referendum.

I am sorry but a tyrant (left or right) is still a tyrant.

14 posted on 11/01/2003 10:24:13 AM PST by GoGophers
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To: weikel; Cacique
VIVA PINOCHET, Savior of Chile!
15 posted on 11/01/2003 1:38:09 PM PST by Clemenza (East side, West side, all around the town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York)
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To: Clemenza
Savior of all of South America is more like it!
16 posted on 11/01/2003 1:54:12 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: GoGophers
Both Franco and Pinochet used the same technique: They routed out civil dissenters that were remnants of the previous regime, and had them executed, usually after a trial, usually for treason and/or violent crimes. Treason is punishable by death in most countries, and so is murder. Criminally interfering foreigners were also executed.

Franco's people and Pinochet's people both saw their leaders as interim, benevolent dictators. They were tough on crime and focused on rebuilding their countries economically. They had few restrictions on religion.

Pinochet and Franco are both painted as bad guys by the main stream media. That fact, in and of itself, should be enough to make one want to do a little more research.

17 posted on 11/01/2003 1:59:32 PM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: Rodney King
Odd, isn't it that the same "Human Rights" organizations that decry executing criminals, terrorists and those guilty of treason, are silent when it comes to the removal of feeding tubes for the disabled.
18 posted on 11/01/2003 2:09:15 PM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: GoGophers
Yeah, after a Marxist seized power with 31% of the vote and proceeded to nationalize the economy, supress dissent and invite Cuban terrorists to train in Chile.
19 posted on 11/01/2003 2:15:24 PM PST by Clemenza (East side, West side, all around the town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York)
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To: TaxRelief
Both Franco and Pinochet used the same technique: They routed out civil dissenters that were remnants of the previous regime, and had them executed, usually after a trial, usually for treason and/or violent crimes.

I don't know about Franco, but Pinochet's government executed or "disappeared" thousands of dissidents and most of them did not have the luxury of a trial.

20 posted on 11/01/2003 2:55:33 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: Clemenza
Yeah, after a Marxist seized power with 31% of the vote and proceeded to nationalize the economy, supress dissent and invite Cuban terrorists to train in Chile.

A tyrant is a tyrant regardless of his political persuasion.

21 posted on 11/01/2003 2:56:17 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: TaxRelief
Franco's people and Pinochet's people both saw their leaders as interim, benevolent dictators.

Seventeen years is not interim and executing thousands of political prisoners is not benevolent.

22 posted on 11/01/2003 2:57:39 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: KC_Conspirator; Huber
Thank you for the ping and the post.

Bookmarked for later.

23 posted on 11/01/2003 3:02:17 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: TaxRelief
Franco's people and Pinochet's people both saw their leaders as interim, benevolent dictators.

If the Chilean people saw Pinochet as a benevolent dictator, then why did hundreds of thousands of them risk their lives in a non-violent movement designed to force him out of office?

24 posted on 11/01/2003 3:24:07 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: GoGophers
Seventeen years is not interim and executing thousands of political prisoners is not benevolent

Political prisoner is a loaded term. A marxist rebel armed by Cuba, who is essentially a foregin agent trying to take over your country is not the same as a poet who writes stuff against the government - which is what the term political prisoner brings to mind.

25 posted on 11/01/2003 4:07:13 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Rodney King
Political prisoner is a loaded term. A marxist rebel armed by Cuba, who is essentially a foregin agent trying to take over your country is not the same as a poet who writes stuff against the government - which is what the term political prisoner brings to mind.

And Pinochet had both types of prisoners killed.

26 posted on 11/01/2003 4:24:56 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: Clemenza
yes, it was really a house wife revolt.
27 posted on 11/01/2003 4:37:19 PM PST by camas
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To: GoGophers
in time people tend to forget the past and react to the present, only.
28 posted on 11/01/2003 4:43:39 PM PST by camas
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To: TaxRelief
Re:(Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)

Interesting tag lie, care to elaborate?

29 posted on 11/01/2003 5:05:32 PM PST by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
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To: GoGophers
Pinochet's government executed or "disappeared" thousands of dissidents and most of them did not have the luxury of a trial.

Cite? No US press sources please.

30 posted on 11/01/2003 5:20:14 PM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: TaxRelief
http://www.desaparecidos.org/chile/eng.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1109861.stm

http://www.lakota.clara.net/derechos/victims.htm
31 posted on 11/01/2003 5:34:12 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: ChadGore
I would hate to change the subject around here by explaining the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.

Documenting the answer will take several posts (and days), but in a nut shell:

Drug money and drug money laundering, aided by certain Florida law firms, funds government coups (Panama for instance). Communist country acquires vast property rights, for a 'song and a dance', that affect our national security (China at Panama canal ports, for instance). Drug war can never be won because socialists want drugs available (and vodka) to keep the masses happy and the green activists stupid. Drugs remain illegal but available and fund the next communist infiltration or communist activity...and on and on. Lawyers make loads off drug warlords and are primary donors to democratic/socialist candidates who support socialist and communist infiltrated organizations (like Pal Solidarity, in US and everywhere).

Feel free to pick it apart.
32 posted on 11/01/2003 6:00:11 PM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: GoGophers
Your links proved that many disappeared. There really is little to prove that Pinochet had them executed without a trial though. Thousands and thousands were detained. Most were released. Approx. 1200 were executed.

Are you an activist for Amnesty International?
33 posted on 11/01/2003 6:16:49 PM PST by TaxRelief (Ask me about the connection between Socialism, Communism, Drug Warlords and Vodka.)
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To: Clemenza; Huber; Rodney King
General Pinochet was a man of honor. When he fixed the country he did what no leftist dictator has ever, or will ever do. Turn the country back to the constitutional process of electoral democracy.

What did he get for his troubles? Persecution, even as he has one foot in the grave.

The same can be said for the Argentine Generals who defeated a leftist insurgency insurgency when the left was being victorious everywhere else. Their reward? being hounded and arrested by leftist scumbags who just can't stand the fact that socialism has been exposed for the failed ideology that it is.

It is well to heed Simon Bolivar's warning. "El qué hace la revolucíon, ara el mar" (He who makes the revolution, ploughs the sea)

34 posted on 11/01/2003 6:17:13 PM PST by Cacique
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To: Cacique
Excellent summary. The real crim of Pinochet is that he stopped communism cold. This explains the disparate treatment between him and Castro by the media.
35 posted on 11/01/2003 6:28:30 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Cacique; GoGophers
By Chuck Morse

No one alive today is more loathed by the Communists and their fellow travelers and camp followers than Chilean General and former President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. The reasons are two fold. Pinochet defeated the internationally armed and financed communist terrorist militias, hated by the Chilean people, and, and by doing so, ended the communists attempt to conquer Chile. Pinochet then proceeded to transform Chile into a peaceful democracy with a prosperous and stable economy. With an extraordinary record of achievement in social and economic reform, the establishment of democratic institutions, and a free election, Pinochet voluntarily relinquished the Presidency in 1990 leaving a grateful Chilean people free of communist terror.

International leftist media has banged a steady drumbeat of lies about Pinochet. The success of their atrocity propaganda is a testament to the enduring influence of the communist idea. Their big lie has gone over everywhere except in Chile. It goes without saying that the leftist media will always ignore or downplay the real atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao, Castro, Paul Pot et al who have been part of the liquidation of over 100 million people.

An excellent example of communist standards is the activities of Willy Meyer, the parliamentary spokesman for Izquerida Unida, the renamed Communist Party of Spain. Meyer, commenting on the recent arrest of Pinochet in Britain, stated, "We do not consider that Fidel Castro is a dictator We respect the Marxist-Leninist legality by whose definition political persecution, torture, and disappearances cannot exist in Cuba. We are dividing the world between good guys and bad guys there is a vacuum in the international enforcement of human rights and we realize that whoever seizes the initiative to punish violators wins the high ground."

In Chile, Pinochet dealt with a force that would stop at nothing to achieve victory. A communist victory would have, and almost did, lead to complete subjugation under a communist jack-boot. Meyer was right, this really was a battle between good guys and bad guys except Mayer was on the wrong side. Pinochet took action against the communist threat in direct response to formal requests made by the Chilean Judiciary, the Legislature, and prominent citizens who believed that a military intervention was required to save the country from Salvador Allende.

Pinochet was Army Chief of Staff to Allende during his three years in power and was the quintessential career military man with no ambition to involve himself in civilian affairs. Documents and arms captured after Allende was overthrown, Sept. 11, 1973, proved that he was planning a coup scheduled for Sept. 19, which would have involved the liquidation of his opposition by means of Castro type firing squads. At that point, much property had been expropriated, civil rights were curtailed, starvation seemed imminent, and the atmosphere was downright Stalinist. Pinochet was motivated to act out of a traditional code of military honor to save his country.

On Sept 8, days after the coup, at a ceremony at the Church of National Gratitude, three former Chilean presidents endorsed the Pinochet government. Socialist Gabriel Gonzalez Videla stated "I have no words to thank the armed forces for having freed us from the clutches of Marxism. They have saved us because the totalitarian apparatus that was prepared to destroy us has been itself destroyed" Eduardo Frei, himself a Marxist, stated, "The military has saved Chile and all of us from a civil war well prepared by the Marxists. And that is what the world does not know, refuses to know."

Pinochet, once in power, acted with amazing restraint toward those who were plotting a communist takeover. Allende declined his offer of safe passage and instead chose suicide. He deported thousands of Communist foreigners who were planning firing squads if they achieved power, and released Chilean citizens involved in treasonous activities including the dangerous KGB and Cuban agent, as well as darling of the American left establishment, Orlando Letelier. After Pinochet assumed control, 68% of Chileans would go on to vote to approve a new constitution presented by his government in a first step on the road to the democracy Chile is today.

Under the guidance of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, Pinochet cleared out economic regulations, reduced tariffs from 100% to 10% and returned businesses and property "expropriated" by Allende to the rightful owners. Foreign investment poured in as confidence and stability returned. Taxes and inflation were reduced, Social Security was privatized, and government bureaucrats were able to find jobs in a thriving private sector. Our American government could learn some valuable lessons from Chile.

A relentless war was waged against Pinochet and the Chilean people during the years 1973-1990. In 1984 there were 735 terrorist bombings with responsibility clamed by the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (MRPF) the Communist cadre supported by Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. On Sept. 7, 1986, Pinochet and his 10-year-old grandson narrowly escaped an ambush by Communists armed with automatic rifles, rocket launchers, bazookas, and grenades. Many terrorists and their supporters were killed in this war of attrition both by Pinochet's forces and by civilians seeking vengeance and. given the situation; many of their bodies went unidentified. Writer William F. Jasper states that "we have seen no evidence to sustain the charges that Pinochet ordered, knew of, or approved of, any plan for the use of murder or torture against his political opponents."

In 1988, Pinochet called for elections and a return to civilian rule. In an unprecedented move, he retired from public life in 1990 a hero to freedom loving Chileans. Communism makes inroads during economic crisis and often employs violence and terror as well to make the argument for totalitarianism. Allende deliberately created dire economic conditions and introduced an unprecedented level of violence so as to create the right "conditions" for a Castro style takeover. His dastardly plot was dashed by the heroic efforts of General Pinochet. The bloody soaked, International Communist behemoth was defeated and for this, they will forever despise General Pinochet.

Page URL: http://www.chuckmorse.com/pinochet_hero.html

36 posted on 11/01/2003 6:41:12 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Cacique; GoGophers
Pinochet receives a hero's welcome on his return



Alex Bellos and Jonathan Franklin in Santiago
Saturday March 4, 2000
The Guardian

As the helicopter carrying Augusto Pinochet landed on the roof of Santiago's military hospital yesterday morning, swirling gusts of wind thrust into the air thousands of pink leaflets saying "Welcome back, Chile's liberator".
Rising high above a chanting crowd waving Chilean flags and posters of the former dictator, the floating pamphlets gave the appearance of a presidential tickertape parade.

Yesterday was the day General Pinochet lived again. Almost 24 hours after his Chilean airforce plane left RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, marking an end to 503 days of international humiliation under house arrest in a Surrey mansion, the general, 84, returned to a hero's welcome.

At 10.39am local time, the man judged too unfit by doctors to undergo extradition procedings to Spain on torture charges was wheeled backwards out of the plane and lowered on to the tarmac of Santiago's international airport. He was helped to his feet, clasping a white stick for support.

He hugged the army chief, General Ricardo Izurieta, followed by his own daughter, Lucia. He then walked on his own, slowly but steadily, waving with a big grin to the crowd of military dignitaries, family and friends. A brass band played his favourite military marches. It was as if he had never stood down.

In central Santiago up to 5,000 supporters had gathered around the military hospital. The atmosphere was like a national jubilee. People - overwhelmingly women - wore Pinochet T-shirts and badges, and were draped in the blue, red and white of Chile's flag.

A sound system in a derelict building opposite played Chilean folk music as couples danced on the pavement. A school bus dropped off 200 pupils in uniform, who sang: "Chi-chi-chi. Le-le-le. Viva Chile Pinochet."

Many had driven hours to be there. Omar Silva, 34, a farmworker, had come 200 miles. "Pinochet is like a father to me. He made the country great. I am here to pay my respects. It is a very happy day for Chile," he said.

Fernanda Ortega, 17, had played truant from school with four other friends. "I am here so that he knows that we still love him," she said.

Minutes after landing at the military hospital, a beaming Gen Pinochet appeared at the top-floor window and waved to the crowds with both hands. He had changed out of his blue suit and purple tie and was wearing a white hospital top.

According to Raul Troncoso, the interior minister, the hospital will conduct "a thorough exam to see if Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The Chilean justice system will make its own decisions following the democratic laws of Chile."

The general is expected to stay there for three or four days before moving to one of his residences.

While he is obviously weak, the ease with which Gen Pinochet walked on the tarmac put the government on the defensive. "The fact that a person gets off a plane walking doesn't mean he is well enough to go on trial," Mr Troncoso said.

In the only violent flashpoint of the day, a group of 50 anti-Pinochet protesters near the hospital were quickly surrounded by military police with dogs, water cannon, guns and batons and forcibly escorted down a sidestreet. Pinochet supporters tried to charge them, throwing stones and plastic bottles.

The main anti-Pinochet demonstrations were around the presidential palace. A few hundred protesters - mostly relatives of those killed under the general's regime - had stayed up all night in the Plaza de la Constitucion. They waved black flags and posters of relatives who disappeared.

Gen Pinochet faces 60 civil lawsuits in Chile alleging human rights abuses, and these could lead to criminal proceedings if courts strip him of his immunity from prosecution as a life senator. But legal experts say that, despite recent human rights trials, successful court action will be difficult because of the armed forces' continuing influence.

In a national broadcast, President Eduardo Frei - who hands over to Ricardo Lagos on March 11 - said: "No Chilean citizen is above the law. The Chilean courts must say their word now. That is what a large majority of Chileans want."

But the grandiose welcome ceremony, which included the top military brass, exposed the tense relationship between the army and the government. Neither President Frei nor any of his officials were on hand; Mr Frei had left to inaugurate a dam in northern Chile.

Stark social divisions were evident. Many houses in the capital's richer neighbourhoods hoisted Chilean flags to celebrate. The wounds of his rule have not healed.

"We don't believe this story about Pinochet's illnesses. He's not just laughing at his victims - he's made fools of the whole world," said Patricia Silva, head of the group of relatives of executed political prisoners.

Carlos Reyes of the London exile group Chile Democratico said: "He was given a hero's welcome and red carpet treatment. He's fooled the doctors and fooled the British authorities... It's what we said would happen all along."

Gen Pinochet had been expected to land in the early hours at the northern desert port of Iquique. But the Boeing refuelled on the British-held island of Ascension and flew straight to Santiago.

37 posted on 11/01/2003 6:43:15 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: TaxRelief
Look at GoGophers posts, I'd say he's a Democrat or simply a contrarian. You can't post anything without a challenge from GoGophers. ANd I don't mean substantive challenge on the underlying truth--he'll nitpick you.
38 posted on 11/01/2003 6:44:02 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: Skywalk
he'll nitpick you.

Challenging a heroic characterization of a brutal dictator is hardly nitpicking.

39 posted on 11/01/2003 7:00:23 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: TaxRelief; Rodney King

History is full of such dilemmas. Innocent people as well as criminals die during the process of "civilizing" nations. In the political chaos of the environment still to be civilized, due process is not always politically possible. The leader's focus is on eradicating the destablizing influences that prevent a civil society from taking root, and sometimes drastic measures are taken. Later, a tradition of the rule of law, property rights and participatory government reinforces the establishment of a democratic tradition, yielding a long term stable democracy. However, without a leader ferociously protecting that tradition, destablizing forces can prevent this maturation from occurring.

A number of writers have picked up on this theme in the past few years, in different ways. Hernando de Soto, Fareed Zakaria and Niell Fergusen all yield insights that perhaps justify Pinochet's heavy hand. Chile has certainly benefited as a result. The question before us now, is how far we are willing to go to ensure the evolution of civil society in the Middle East and Southern Asia.

40 posted on 11/01/2003 7:08:55 PM PST by Huber (Secularism is the opium of the elite.)
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To: TaxRelief
Your links proved that many disappeared. There really is little to prove that Pinochet had them executed without a trial though. Thousands and thousands were detained. Most were released. Approx. 1200 were executed.

You have to avoid all rational thought to conclude that thousands of Chileans were tortured and executed without the knowledge of Pinochet. I suggest you spend a little (lot) more time on the following website.

http://www.lakota.clara.net/index.html

41 posted on 11/01/2003 7:13:46 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: GoGophers
Referring to a dictator who could at most have been responsible for 1200 deaths as "brutal", makes me wonder what you consider Sadam Hussein who gassed 100,000 of his own people including women and children.

Stop reading that liberal trash, and put things into perspective.

42 posted on 11/01/2003 7:14:57 PM PST by TaxRelief (Welcome to the only website dedicated to the preservation of a Freerepublic.)
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To: GoGophers
But that's not to what I'm referring. Sorry, if I gave that impression.

I'm stating what I've seen from your other posts. The meanings of terms like "generalization" or "underlying truths" or facts "in balance" do not seem easily comprehended by you.

Besides, people have challenged your assertions(and I've seen plenty of other sources that challenge it as well.) Do you have any other sources that support your view? Any by non-leftist sources? Heck, even center-left sources might be OK.

And who has the strongest amount of detail and historical facts on their side? All I ever hear from the Left are claims of "Coup," "brutality" and "disappearances." Thing is, who was disappeared? When did it happen? Who was actually expelled vs. who was killed? How were they killed, during the many skirmishes that could be defined as military in nature, or during outright executions?

BTW, How would a Soviet Pinochet have been able to turn his country around? No doubt by killing and jailing people merely on ideology. It's called de-Nazification or de-Communization. It means you're going to abrogate the basic rights of some individuals because they cannot even be allowed to stir up a conflict that will enslave your people and your country.
43 posted on 11/01/2003 7:15:45 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: GoGophers
Dude you keep citing this Lakota source, but did you know that it attempts to "poke holes" in myths like the economic change in Chile?

It's purely leftist garbage. Anyone with half a brain would recognize and acknowledge that Chile's economic environment was vastly improved from the time Allende was in charge.

A site that tries to say that Pinochet's rule was ALL bad, even economically or that tries to lie about numbers or circumstances has ZERO CREDIBILITY.

Can I ask---are you a leftist?
44 posted on 11/01/2003 7:18:31 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: TaxRelief
http://www.derechoschile.com/derechos/dictadura_victimas_eng.html
45 posted on 11/01/2003 7:18:38 PM PST by GoGophers
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To: GoGophers
Are you aware that this is a conservative web forum? We generally are not interested in hanging around web sites sponsored by Amnesty International. (Being conservatives and American and all that...)
46 posted on 11/01/2003 7:19:01 PM PST by TaxRelief (Welcome to the only website dedicated to the preservation of a Freerepublic.)
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To: TaxRelief; GoGophers
Stop reading that liberal trash, and put things into perspective

I second that motion. Gophers links named one guy who was murdered. The head of the communist party. The same group of people who abrogated the Chilean constitution, stole property from its rightful owners, and were planning Soviet Style food dislocation programs and firing squads. I'm glad Pinochet had the SOB killed.

47 posted on 11/01/2003 7:20:11 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Skywalk
BTW, How would a Soviet Pinochet have been able to turn his country around? No doubt by killing and jailing people merely on ideology. It's called de-Nazification or de-Communization. It means you're going to abrogate the basic rights of some individuals because they cannot even be allowed to stir up a conflict that will enslave your people and your country.

You could almost call it a civil war with casualties. Most of those who "disappeared" did so in the early Pinochet days.

48 posted on 11/01/2003 7:22:19 PM PST by TaxRelief (Welcome to the only website dedicated to the preservation of a Freerepublic.)
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To: GoGophers
"In Chile, there exists a high degree of consensus, that during the military regime, human rights were repeatedly violated with the aim of annihilating the political opposition to the regime as a necessary condition for laying the foundations of a new state whilst making the economic model of this new state a reality."

That is the quote from one of they guys on the page you just cited. You know what, he's exactly right. Pinochet wanted to wipe out the marxists, the same bunch that had murdered 100 million people already in the century and were planning the same for Chile. Good for him.

49 posted on 11/01/2003 7:25:08 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: GoGophers
At the end of November 1976, the men and women concentration camp prisoners were transferred to the Tres Alamos camp in Santiago. Then the iron gates opened and they were free to go. Nobody ever provided any explanation as to why they had spent one, two or three years of their lives behind those wire fences."

Gee, if they didn't know by then they couldn't have been too bright. I've heard that prison camp gossip spreads like wild fire.

...then the iron gates opened and they were free to go.

Why didn't these folks get exterminated? That's not consistent with a "brutal dictator".

50 posted on 11/01/2003 7:30:11 PM PST by TaxRelief (Welcome to the only website dedicated to the preservation of a Freerepublic.)
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