Crisis of Command
America’s Broken Civil-Military Relationship Imperils National Security
On September 16, 1970, in a background briefing to the press, Henry Kissinger spoke about the September 4 electoral victory of Salvador Allende in the following way:
The election in Chile brought about a result in which the man backed by the Communists, and probably a Communist himself, had the largest number of votes by 30,000 over the next man, who was a conservative. He had about 36.1 percent of the votes. So he had a plurality. . . .
According to the Chilean election law, when nobody gets a majority, the two highest candidates go to the Congress. The Congress then votes in a secret ballot and elects the President. That election is October 24th. In Chilean history, there is nothing to prevent it, and it would not be at all illogical for the Congress to say, "Sixty-four percent of the people did not want a Communist government. A Communist government tends to be irreversible. Therefore, we are going to vote for the No. 2 man." This is perfectly within their constitutional prerogatives. However, the constitutional habit has developed that Congress votes for the man that gets the highest number of votes. But then, of course, it has never happened before that the man with the highest number of votes happens to represent a non-democratic party, which tends to make his election pretty irreversible. I have yet to meet somebody who firmly believes that if Allende wins there is likely to be another free election in Chile. . . .
Now it is fairly easy for one to predict that if Allende wins, there is a good chance that he will establish over a period of years some sort of Communist government. In that case you would have one not on an island off the coast which has not a traditional relationship and impact on Latin America, but in a major Latin American country you would have a Communist government, joining, for example, Argentina, which is already deeply divided, along a long frontier, joining Peru, which has already been heading in directions that have been difficult to deal with, and joining Bolivia, which has also gone in a more leftist, anti-U.S. direction, even without any of these developments.
So I don't think we should delude ourselves that an Allende takeover in Chile would not present massive problems for us, and for democratic forces and for pro-U.S. forces in Latin America, and indeed to the whole Western Hemisphere. What would happen to the Western Hemisphere Defense Board, or to the Organization of American States, and so forth, is extremely problematical. . . . It is one of those situations which is not too happy for American interests.1
I have quoted at length because the briefing is so revealing of the thinking of President Nixon and Mr. Kissinger about Chile and its implications: the cold war rhetoric of Allende as a Communist (he was of course a member of the Socialist Party and had devoted much of his political life to doing battle with the Communist Party); the suggestion that the Chilean Congress could and perhaps should vote the conservative Jorge Alessandri into the presidency; the concept of the "irreversibility" of the 1970 election because Allende would probably establish a "Communist government"; the notion that Chile-being on the continental landmass of Latin America-is even more of a threat than Cuba (which could be and was isolated); the references to Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia.
In retrospect the briefing is even more revealing because we now know that almost three months earlier, on June 27, the 40 Committee, chaired by Kissinger, met in the White House, considered actions to take if Allende were elected on September 4, and authorized the CIA to spend $400,000 covertly in opposition to the Allende candidacy. In July, the National Security Council Staff began work on its top secret Study Memorandum 97 on policy options toward Chile, and on September 18, Kissinger reportedly proposed to the 40 Committee that the CIA be authorized to expend $350,000 to bribe Chilean congressmen to vote for Alessandri.2 After the congressional vote confirmed Allende in office, as we know from CIA Director William Colby's testimony before a House Armed Services subcommittee, the Agency was authorized to spend eight million dollars to "destabilize" the Allende government in the period 1971-73. (Given Chile's inflation and the black market in dollars, the real purchasing power of the eight million dollars was probably closer to 40 or 50 million.) As dramatic and newsworthy as they are, however, all of these subsequent revelations should not be allowed to deflect attention away from the most basic fact of all, clearly stated in the briefing: at the highest levels of the American government, long before Chile moved to expropriate the copper companies, an Allende Presidency was seen as an extremely serious threat to the interests of the United States. Most of what came after was the "logical" working out of available responses to this perceived threat and thus essentially involved only the implementation of policies which were foreshadowed in the summer and fall of 1970.
Why was Chile, situated thousands of miles to the south, with less than five percent of the population and only a fraction of one percent of the gross national product of the United States, considered such a threat by the leaders of this country? A full explanation would have to include a patient detailing of Monroe Doctrinism-150 years of attempts to establish North American political and economic hegemony in the hemisphere (by fair means and foul), of multiple interventions (armed and otherwise) in Panama, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Central America and elsewhere. Also necessary would be a short course in the globalism of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Second World War, the ideology of anti-communism and the cold war, and the swelling of the national security apparatus. But the story could not end there, for all of this would only suggest the general backdrop against which the more specific drama of U.S.-Chile relations was played out.
This more specific drama was both national and global, involving not only Washington but also Washington's view of how the world works, ought to work, and can be made to work. At least five linked factors run through the drama; they are not exclusive of each other, nor is any taken individually a sufficient explanation of U.S. policy. Together they suggest the manner in which it was possible to view events in Chile as vital to and potentially disastrous for the United States.
The Nixon-Kissinger White House-who's in charge, who's in touch: Richard M. Nixon was only 18 months into his first term when the possibility of an Allende victory in Chile was first acted on. He was not a man to view that prospect with equanimity. All accounts agree that the President-a self-declared friend and protector of corporate interests and investments in Latin America, the man who had commissioned the hard-line, security-oriented Rockefeller Report on the Americas in 1969, and an unrelenting hawk on Cuba-took an active and leading role in defining Chile as an important problem. Moving in a circle dominated by business and corporate ideology and interests, he was undoubtedly in touch with others who shared his fears and perspectives. As E. J. Gerrity, the Senior Vice President of ITT, wrote to his Chairman of the Board, Harold Geneen, in October of 1970, "As we dig into this story, we find specific, clear signs that the Nixon Administration-that is, the President himself-views the developing situation in Chile with grave personal concern."3
This concern was fully shared by Henry Kissinger, the President's adviser on national security affairs. So all-consuming was his preoccupation (reflecting the President's) that for the first three months of its existence, he actually took over the chairmanship of the special group working on Chile policy in the autumn of 1970. Composed of officials from the State, Defense and Treasury Departments, as well as specialists from the National Security Council, the group would normally have been directed by Charles Meyer, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. But there are indications that Kissinger was too distrustful of Meyer and too personally concerned with Chile to supervise from a distance. Commenting on the workings of the group, one official recently said, "It was a big blow to the State Department. . . . It was a Kissinger group. . . . It stuck in my mind because Kissinger, in effect, became a Chilean desk officer. . . . He made sure that the policy was made in the way he and the President wanted it."4
The two faces of détente-our place, their place: The game of détente as played in the early years of the Nixon-Kissinger White House was extremely complex. While the Administration talked about peace in Southeast Asia, troops moved into Cambodia. New relations with mainland China were being explored while great care was being exercised to assure the U.S.S.R. that this was not an "anti-Soviet" move. The man and men who had made careers out of their anti-Communist toughness were busy covering their flanks whenever possible lest they now be accused (as they subsequently were) of being "soft" on communism.
In this context of Realpolitik-openings to established Communist regimes coupled with continuing toughness and aggressiveness toward national liberation struggles-the possibility and then the actuality of an Allende victory assumed a special meaning. Once again, as had happened before in Cuba, socialism-which is to say "communism"-threatened to get a foothold in the hemisphere. This could not be allowed, either domestically because of the potential charges of "softness," or internationally because of the encouragement that it might give to the Soviet Union.
Not since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and the Kennedy-Khrushchev agreements on Cuba and Western and Eastern spheres of influence had the notion that Latin America was "our turf" been so seriously challenged. It was precisely during the autumn of 1970 that the sharpest messages were sent to the Soviet Union concerning the alleged construction of a naval base at Cienfuegos, Cuba. Nor could "the electoral way to Marxist victory," the line pushed by the Soviets throughout the postwar period, be allowed to pass unnoticed and unacted upon. This was particularly the case in Latin America where a quarter-century of cold-war theory and practice argued, as one high official has said, that "the mere existence of a Marxist government was inimical to U.S. interests." It did not matter, in this view, that the Soviets were not directly "responsible" for the Allende victory, or even that once in power Allende would not necessarily be their "pawn." Historical, ideological, and tactical reasons-global in their reach but hemispheric and even domestic in their specificity-argued that the Popular Unity government would have to be opposed in hard-line fashion.
The Italian-French connection-European dominoes: Opposition to "the electoral way to Marxist victory" was deeply rooted in a larger vision of politics in the postwar world. As has been pointed out by a number of commentators, the political lessons taught by the Allende victory in Chile were thought to be most dangerous to an increasingly fragile Western Europe, particularly Italy and France. It was there that powerful Socialist and Communist parties were always threatening to coalesce into a popular front which, if given a bit of luck (plus negligence and incompetence on the part of the "democratic" forces) might actually be voted into office. Since the days of massive Marshall Plan aid to Europe and covert U.S. support to the anti-Communist parties in Italy in the late 1940s, the fear of an electoral transition to socialist or popular front rule in one or more key European countries had stalked the corridors of State, Treasury, the Pentagon, and the CIA. And few, by upbringing, temperament, experience, or world view were more sensitive to that possibility or more fearful of it than Henry Kissinger.
The domino thinking undergirding this fear begins with a hypothesis about the demonstration effect of Chile: if the Chileans can do it, so the argument goes, then certainly Italian and French Socialists and Communists will have new life breathed into their historical vision-as will the Soviets. They will redouble their efforts and refine their tactics, learning from the successes and failures of Chile. Should a popular front electoral victory actually come to pass in Western Europe, the demonstration effect will be even more direct and marked. If France or Italy, then??? Furthermore, the specific consequences for NATO, U.S. investments, European integration, and the five-pole balance of power are potentially disastrous. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Kissinger would see in such a scenario the possible unbuckling and eventually the destruction of much of what he values in Western civilization.5 And to think that it all began with Chile, that skinny country in South America so Latin in its language and culture, and yet so European in its politics and ethnicity!
The hemispheric connection-local dominoes: The domino thinking applied to Salvador Allende and Latin America was significantly different than in the European case, but in its own way equally complex. Only the most rigid of old-line cold warriors saw countries as diverse as Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina "going Communist" as a direct result of the election of Allende. Almost no one feared a demonstration effect à la France or Italy. Nowhere else in Latin America were the Communist and Socialist parties strong enough to make an electoral run for power in a classic popular front. In fact, in less than half the countries were elections even being held in any meaningful sense. What was feared was that the Popular Unity government would profoundly affect the correlation of political forces on the landmass of South America, link economic nationalism more directly to socialist forms and solutions, and give a new and difficult-to-counter legitimacy to anti-Americanism and the nationalization of banks, large industries, and subsoil resources.
The specific arguments (and fears) were diverse, involving strategic, economic, and political questions. To those concerned with guerrilla movements-especially with regard to Bolivia-a socialist Chile loomed as a potential "safe haven" from which insurgent bands could operate. For those unsure of the depth and direction of Peruvian nationalism under the military government, a socialist Chile was seen as strengthening the most anti-imperialist of the Peruvian officers. Allende's Chile and an increasingly nationalistic Peru were sure to give aid and comfort to each other in the struggle against North American corporate interests. For those preoccupied with troubled Argentina and fearing the second coming of Juan Peron-yet another unknown quantity-a socialist Chile was viewed as certainly strengthening the hand of the Left and the youth within the extensive Peronista movement. And so it went, country by country and problem by problem. One can almost hear the harassed U.S. officials sighing, "We've got enough problems without Allende; with him, everything doubles."
Chile the showcase-after all we've done!: Allende ran for the Presidency of Chile in 1958, his coalition of Socialists, Communists, and smaller parties losing by only 35,000 votes to Jorge Alessandri. Since that time, and dramatically during the 1964 election when Allende ran against Eduardo Frei, U.S. policy was steadfastly geared to preventing a Left victory in Chile. William Colby has testified that three million dollars of covert CIA funds went into the anti-Allende campaign in 1964, other estimates run as high as $20 million, and millions more entered Chile from European supporters of Frei and the Christian Democrats (U.S. policy-makers were not the only ones who feared the dominoes).6 In the first blush of the Alliance for Progress (1962-65), the United States gave Chile over $600 million in direct economic assistance, more per capita than any other country in Latin America. The Christian Democrats became the darlings of those U.S. policy-makers who saw Chilean constitutionalism and the reformist tendencies of Frei and his followers as the last best hope of Latin America. Reformist governments of this sort, they hoped, would save the continent from violent revolution fueled by obvious misery and injustice, on the one hand, and from the "virus" of Castroism on the other.
Thus the attention to and intervention in Chilean politics-and the hostility to Allende-were not recent arrivals on the policy scene in 1970. For a dozen years Chile had been considered a key country in Latin America, and Allende and the forces supporting him had been considered the chief threats to American interests. Directly and indirectly, perhaps a billion dollars in public funds had been committed by the United States during this period to the "battle to preserve democracy in Chile," largely defined as a battle to prevent the Left from coming to power. All of this, the investment of money, time, and prestige, was seen as in danger of going down the (Communist) drain. The showcase of democracy was about to betray its benefactors. Apocryphal or not, Kissinger's oft-quoted remark that "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people" perfectly captures the spirit of this tutelary relationship and the thinking that both sustained and emanated from it.
"Massive problems" call for serious attempts at resolution. They also call forth serious responses from the several parts of the relevant bureaucracies, especially when the word comes down that the top people in the White House are vitally concerned. A sense of urgency pervades the bureaucracy; position papers are written; coordination increases; problems are defined and redefined; options are discussed; and situations which previously were considered unimportant or easily managed now appear to be fraught with danger.
Thus, for example, several sources report that in 1970 the Defense Department floated within the government the thesis that the Popular Unity government posed a strategic threat to the United States. Since Chile had never before been considered of vital security importance, it was necessary to emphasize that it now posed a potential danger to free access to the Straits of Magellan, the last inter-ocean link in the hemisphere should there be "trouble at the Panama Canal." To minds not fully schooled in this kind of thinking, Chile-as-security-threat may have been a bit difficult to swallow. Kissinger's wry comment that Chile is "a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" is in this context both mocking and ironic.
Of much more importance in the long run were the responses to the perceived economic and political threats. In line with standard bureaucratic practice, a division of labor was established. The Treasury Department, especially under Secretary Connally, assumed responsibility for coordinating economic sanctions against the Allende regime and, with State, the defense of over $1 billion of U.S. private investment in Chile. The State Department assumed the primary public relations and propaganda responsibilities for U.S. policy, while coordinating and implementing specific plans and programs through the Embassy in Santiago. Meanwhile, the CIA assumed its classic role of covert intelligence gatherer and manipulator of the political process.7
What must be emphasized, however, is that this division of labor-and the hard line-soft line controversies that vibrated at many levels within and between the various bureaucracies-seldom if ever reflected real differences in policy goals. There is little to choose between Colby's reported statement that covert monies were spent "in an effort to make it impossible for President Salvador Allende Gossens to govern," and the State Department's position, according to reliable evidence, that "the challenge to the U.S. and to others who fundamentally oppose a Marxist Chile is, therefore, how best to capitalize on the anticipated weaknesses of the Allende program and on the strong latent opposition within Chile." In the same vein, Assistant Secretary Charles Meyer may have been a voice for moderation, and others may have opposed specific activities, but the motives, beliefs, and differences of opinion are of secondary importance. Basically, the entire bureaucratic apparatus was cooperating, under the direction of the White House, in the implementation of policies designed to make it difficult and eventually impossible for the Popular Unity coalition to govern Chile.
In the light of this coordinated hostility, what then are we to make of the continuing claims by official spokesmen-including President Ford-that the United States was, throughout the Allende period, only "defending democracy and constitutionalism" in Chile? This all seems so absurd in retrospect. If those goals were real and predominant, minimal consistency argues that the U.S. should now be spending at least 100 times as much to defend those cherished values, since the military junta ruling Chile has over the past 15 months scrubbed the last vestiges of democracy and constitutionalism from the face of that lovely land. All political parties, opposition newspapers, free trade unions, First Amendment rights, and due legal processes are gone. Thousands are dead or in jail, and the directorate of prisons and detention camps now occupies what was formerly the Chilean Hall of Congress. Surely this is a challenge that ought to be picked up by those in the White House and the State Department who claimed to believe so strongly in "the Chilean way."
Cynicism and mendacity in high places do, of course, enter into the picture, but they provide only a partial explanation. In addition, an understanding of the gulf between rhetoric and reality must be sought in the style and process of decision-making and policy implementation. At the top, as suggested earlier, the basic concerns of policy-makers were hardly the preservation of democracy and constitutionalism in Chile. Nevertheless, at lower levels in the bureaucratic apparatus, decent men and women undoubtedly entered with substantial innocence and sense of purpose into the manipulation of the Chilean economy and political process. They were, after all, only helping the groups and institutions that the United States had always helped. Surely many at first had no intention of putting dollars (and thus indirectly weapons) in the hands of paramilitary opposition groups like Fatherland and Liberty. And certainly, had these same persons known that the military in power would be so brutal and repressive, they would have been more careful and would have distanced themselves even further from those who rule Chile today.
But the political and economic drama unfolding in Chile had a dynamic of its own; and U.S. officials, blinded by their hostility to the Popular Unity government, were ill equipped to understand what was happening. Eduardo Frei, the model democrat of the Alliance for Progress, became one of the shrillest voices in the anti-Allende chorus. El Mercurio, the once respectable dean of daily newspapers in Santiago, came openly to call for the overthrow of the elected government. The National Party, at first confining itself to standard oppositional activities, soon turned into a conduit through which funds passed to strikers, Fatherland and Liberty, and armed terrorists on the right. As the good bureaucrats of Washington, acting under orders from above, set out down the well-worn road of support for Chilean democracy, they found that this time the path led deeper and deeper into the jungle. Some knew from the outset that it would be that way, others did not, but in the final analysis foreknowledge was not the critical factor; all became enmeshed in a situation for which they must ultimately share responsibility.
The subsequent double-think, double-speak, and attempts to put a fig leaf of explanation over the indecencies of policy are all too familiar to a nation which has lived through a decade of Vietnam. But the pattern would not occur and reoccur were it not so organically rooted in the realities of power, policy and policy implementation in Washington. Once one gets into the business of meddling in a volatile and delicate situation like Chile under Allende, willingly or unwillingly one is sucked deeper and deeper into the maelstrom. Lying, cover-up, and self-deception all follow as the night the day. The rationales persist long past the point where they can be sustained by objective analysis, but since there was once a kind of historical truth to them, they are clung to by desperate men subsequently hoist on their own words and actions in a rapidly changing world.
Some issues, however, were much more clear-cut. In the conflict which revolved around compensation for copper companies, for example, there was little mystifying rhetoric, and the actions taken were largely overt and straightforward. The multiplex machinery set in motion in 1970 to obstruct the Allende government was well suited to doing battle against the Popular Unity's formal decision in September of 1971 to nationalize Kennecott and Anaconda properties and to withhold $774 million in "excess profits" from the compensation to be paid.8 Since the book value of the properties was less than the calculation of excess profits, in effect Kennecott and Anaconda were expropriated without compensation, a move validated by the non-political Comptroller General of Chile.
What came to be known as the Allende Doctrine, the idea that compensation for nationalized properties could be reduced on the basis of an excess profits calculation (in the Chilean case, to the point where the copper companies were told that they actually owed Chile money!), was clearly anathema to U.S. policy-makers and investors. Once again, the specter of the dominoes arose, again with a global cast. If Chile were allowed to get away with this, the argument ran, the demonstration effect might well be catastrophic. At stake were not only the fortunes of Kennecott and Anaconda, but potentially the assets of every multinational corporation with long-term investments around the world, particularly those engaged in natural resource extraction. It was not a threat to be taken lightly; nor was it.
Responses were immediate and continuing. On October 13, Secretary of State William Rogers warned that this action could jeopardize the flow of private investment funds and foreign aid to Chile. In January of 1972, President Nixon said that the United States would, when faced with such situations, "withhold its support from loans under consideration in multilateral development banks," an action tantamount in most cases to killing the loans. In February, Chilean government accounts in the United States were blocked in two separate court orders deriving from the copper conflict. In a series of judicial actions instituted by Kennecott in Europe, Chilean copper and payments for sales were impounded. Throughout this period, short-term credits to Chile were drying up, and the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Export-Import Bank made no new loans.9
The temptation to dwell on the copper conflict as a key causative factor in the economic and other difficulties experienced by Chile is great. For our purposes, however, the issue should be turned around: we must ask what difference it would have made for overall U.S. policy if the copper conflict had never existed, at least not in the particular form it assumed under the excess profits doctrine. This is not an easy question to answer, but my understanding of the architecture of enmity toward Chile, of its historical and global logic, argues that no real reversal of U.S. policy would have taken place even if Chile had "been more reasonable" on the copper question. Had the excess profits doctrine been dropped and at least token payments been made as part of a negotiated settlement with Anaconda and Kennecott, certain lines of credit would have been eased (although when the situation so demands, bankers are skilled at finding other evidences of the non-creditworthiness of an inflationary economy like Chile's), some of the tension would have drained from U.S.-Chilean diplomatic exchanges, and copper marketing in Europe and elsewhere would have been somewhat less difficult. But the "massive problems" seen by U.S. policy-makers would not have disappeared, the CIA would probably not have been called off, nor would private and public American economic actions have been basically different.
For focusing, justifying, and implementing the broad lines of U.S. policy toward Chile, the copper question was therefore made to order. It was the perfect issue, a matter of genuine concern and importance which gave concreteness both to conflict and remedial action. At the same time, no hard-liner really had to fear that should the compensation issue by some miracle be settled, the larger rationale arguing for hostility toward the Allende government would suddenly melt away. The Popular Unity government was damned if it did, and probably just as damned if it didn't.
The issues and implications raised by U.S. actions toward Chile are many, some immediate, some more distant. In the wake of the disclosures concerning the CIA, there has been a flurry of discussion about both the morality and the pragmatics of what the Agency did in Chile. There has also been a related flap involving congressional-executive relations, truth-telling, and the control of covert operations. Mr. Colby's testimony was sufficiently candid to make it obvious that many government witnesses who went before the Congress in 1973 and 1974 to testify about U.S. involvement in Chile had been less than forthcoming. In fact, in a sharp report drawn up by the staff of the Senate Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations, it was suggested that Secretary of State Kissinger and ex-Ambassador Nathaniel Davis deceived Congress, that Charles Meyer and Richard Helms committed perjury in their various testimonies, and that former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury John Hennessy and former Ambassador Edward Korry were possibly in contempt of Congress. Although the relevant congressional committees have to date not shown much heart for investigating the whole affair, it is clear that questions of congressional scrutiny and the credibility and responsibilities of government witnesses are once again being raised.
As important as these kinds of issues are, and as healthy as it might be to have these and other witnesses recalled, put under oath, and urged to speak the truth, they do not strike at the heart of the matter. Rather, what Chile once again emphasizes is how inevitably the United States will be drawn into intervention and covert activities as long as the notion persists that our vital national interests may be threatened by almost any Third World experiment in socioeconomic transformation not directly under our control. In other words, the first-order problem is not congressional oversight of the CIA or the duplicity of government witnesses. These are merely the symptoms and consequences of a foreign policy which attempts to manage conflict and change on a global scale.
Originally, the political and ideological energies which informed this project of global management came from the cold war. For 25 years, national security "demanded" that both communism and Communism be fought by fair means or foul, from one corner of the globe to the other. U.S. policy toward Chile was conceived in the twilight of this era, and thus it must be understood, at least in part, as a consequence of cold-war thinking. But it would be quite mistaken to infer that because the cold-war consensus and rhetoric are now crumbling in certain respects, Chile holds no relevance for the future. On the contrary, U.S. Chile policy marks not only the twilight of an era, but also the transition to a new. And the new era is not likely to be much more congenial to the autonomy and interests of weak and marginal states than what existed before.
As has been pointed out by Richard Falk among others, the post-cold-war world view being promulgated and implemented in Washington today hardly bodes well for those who dare to experiment politically and economically in the Third World-and perhaps in the First World also. At the core of the evolving vision, and the attempts at global management that flow from it, is big-power politics, the notion that "it is possible to manage international relations mainly by moderating conflictual relations among governments in the Northern Hemisphere [including China, of course]." As a corollary, this vision "accepts as inevitable the persistence of large-scale misery and repression. It enables the disfavored many to be kept under control by the favored few."10 Its basic amorality derives from the expendability of any and all experiments and people who threaten the new world order now being assembled. As such, it is deeply committed to the perpetuation of the status quo, albeit a status quo which now fully accepts and integrates the U.S.S.R. and mainland China.
The struggle is thus recast in terms of the developed (or powerful) against the less developed (and less powerful), with the latter the subject of malevolent attention whenever interests clash or experimentation seems to be running unchecked in directions that include greater national autonomy. Today Venezuelans-hardly tools of Moscow or ideologically inclined toward communism-have good reason to fear the incursions and manipulations of the U.S. policy apparatus. Their sin? Leadership in OPEC's oil pricing policies and the promulgation of a variety of economic nationalism viewed in Washington as harmful to patterns of profit, consumption, and fiscal management in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. Again, the dominoes enter. What if the Venezuelan variety of economic nationalism and pricing leverage should prove generalizable to other Third-World producers of raw materials and basic commodities?
With appropriate local music and overtones, the story in Lisbon is the same. Here it is not economic nationalism that spearheads the "threat," but rather a political process no longer under the thumb of a repressive government friendly to the United States-a political process spinning toward outcomes which are predictable only in the sense that, whatever happens, life will never again be so easy for American corporations and NATO strategists. In this context is there any reason why Portuguese nationalists should rest easier today vis-à-vis the United States than they might have if they had come to power five or ten years ago? In fact, is there any indication that the moderating of the cold war has significantly diminished American determination to shape the marginal areas of the world as completely as possible to its own (albeit changing) image of how and to whose advantage life should be ordered on this planet?
None of this means that the Marines are about to be landed in Portugal, Venezuela, or other "trouble spots" around the globe. In a post-Vietnam world such armed aggressions have become increasingly difficult and costly, both domestically and internationally. Again, however, rather than leading to complacency, the Chile case only raises new questions about the future shape of U.S. interventions. In his congressional testimony, Colby reputedly spoke of the Chilean operation as a "prototype" for "destabilizing" a government through large infusions of cash, without involving U.S. troops either directly or indirectly. But anyone knowledgeable about CIA operations over the past 25 years realizes that little was done by the Agency in Chile that had not previously been attempted in settings as diverse as Italy and Bolivia. What was new in the Chile case was the complex mix of overt and covert pressures put on the Allende government. Public and private economic and political pressures were combined with substantial continuing support to the Chilean military; funds and other resources were funneled through Western Europe and other countries of Latin America; there was high-level coordination of overall policy, and the CIA's covert part of the package was not allowed to run autonomously as, for instance, had largely been the case with Cuba. What was prototypical was thus the total foreign policy mix and the fine-tuning-hardly innovations calculated to make economic and political nationalists outside of the big-power club sleep more soundly.
There is thus no reason to believe that the U.S. posture toward Chile and the array of hostile actions taken constitute an exceptional case, something we shall not see again. As long as the United States continues to evaluate the poorer and weaker countries of the world in terms of what each can contribute to the grand design-or the real and imagined threats that each poses to that grand design-there can be no assurances of nonintervention. In some place, at some time, some government or movement short on power but long on alternative visions of development will surely be questing after social justice at home, and more autonomy and a fairer shake in its international dealings. And as long as such quests tend to get defined as inimical to the national interests of the United States, the economic and political pressures against the recalcitrant government will mount, the CIA will sally forth from Langley, and eventually the deception and manipulation will touch the halls of Congress and the American people.
Oversight committees, citations for contempt, vigorous and watchful news media, and less secrecy in government may ameliorate the situation, but they will not end it. The root problems lie in the definitions of the national interest that are used and the policies that are based on them. Until the former change, until the Presidency of a Salvador Allende is not seen as presenting "massive problems for us," Chile-type operations will continue to be mounted. In fact, only when the election of a Salvador Allende is seen by U.S. policy-makers as the legitimate manifestation of a historic struggle for social justice by a people long exploited both domestically and internationally-a struggle with which the United States ought to be associated-will it be possible to say that a truly new era in foreign policy has dawned.
But we are clearly years if not decades away from a foreign policy based on such premises. In fact, it can be persuasively argued that America's privileged position in the world makes such a foreign policy impossible. In the meantime, the victims of our sporadic, malevolent attention to the Third World can only hope that the worst excesses of the foreign policy apparatus will be curbed by legislators and citizens fed up with the politics of Watergate, Vietnam and Chile.
2 State Department officials, while tacitly admitting that the money was authorized, vehemently deny that it was actually spent. The logic of the situation in Santiago supports their denial. Intelligence operatives on the spot certainly knew that Christian Democratic congressional votes were not for sale in sufficient numbers to prevent an Allende victory. They also knew that should the word of an attempt to buy votes get out, a scandal of hemispheric if not global dimensions would ensue. This pragmatic evaluation and advice should not be given a post facto moral interpretation, for the evidence suggests that it had no such moral content at the time.
4 "Kissinger Called Chile Strategist," The New York Times, September 15, 1974, p. 1.
5 There is much in his interview with James Reston, as published in The New York Times of October 13, 1974, to support this interpretation of Kissinger's view of Western civilization and the threats thereto.
7 It is also possible that the Nixon White House, through the "plumbers," had its share of the action. According to Tad Szulc, "a half-dozen unexplained break-ins into offices and homes of Chilean diplomats in Washington and New York in the spring of 1972, just before Watergate, have been attributed to the Plumbers although there is no proof." "How Kissinger Runs Our Other Government," New York, September 30, 1974, p. 61.
8 In July 1971, a constitutional amendment permitting the nationalizations had unanimously passed both chambers of the Chilean Congress.
9 Editor's Note. The question of American economic actions against Chile was addressed in Paul E. Sigmund, "The 'Invisible Blockade' and the Overthrow of Allende," Foreign Affairs, January 1974. A letter from Professor Sigmund, dealing with the impact of the latest evidence on his views, will be found in the "Correspondence" section of this issue, at page 375.