Que la esclavitud se proscriba para siempre y lo mismo la distinción de castas, quedando todos iguales, y sólo distinguirá a un americano de otro el vicio y la virtud…Que en la nueva legislación no se admita la tortura… Jose Maria Morelos y Pavón, 1815

Most casual students of history do not realize it but in the 20th century the average time required for a “revolution” to occur was about 12 years. From the January 1905 Russian Revolution to the 1917 takeover by the Bolsheviks, from the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1920 until Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1932 and from Allende’s rise in the 1960’s until his suicide in 1973 the pattern holds.

We are used to these new leaders entering our consciousness almost instantly as they first appear on our television in the illusion of massive popular support. It is only after the Castro’s build their Caribbean Gulag or some corporal in Africa declares himself “president for life” and – if he lives long enough – slaughters the people not of his own tribe unfortunate enough to be trapped within his borders that we become aware that these people have all had a long march to power. By then we very often have neither the principle, the will nor even the means to do anything about them – and just as often refrain from doing so for reasons of perceived economic advantage.

Chile is one of our few success stories of aiding a country free itself from a marxist revolution. To be sure it is presented by the left leaning academics in the country as the brutal repression of a freely elected government but if you look at Chile in 1974 and today, almost 40 years later, there can be very little doubt that the Chilean people were the winners. Gustafson does a good job of debunking the conventional wisdom about American involvement in the coup and the book is well worth consideration as a part of the larger history of the century.

It often starts with the unions and ironically ends up with the workers losing everything

It often starts with the unions and ironically ends up with the workers losing everything

Hostile intent : U.S. covert operations in Chile, 1964-1974 Washington, D.C. : Potomac Books, c 2007 Kristian Gustafson Subversive activities Chile Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiv, 317 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 291-302) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Kristian Gustafson’s Hostile Intent re-examines one of the most controversial chapters in U.S. intelligence history, the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert operations in Chile from 1964 to 1974. At the request of successive U.S. presidents, the CIA in conjunction with the State Department and the Defense Intelligence Agency first acted to prevent Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from usurping the presidency of his country and then tried to undermine his efforts to subvert democracy once he was in office.

Allende’s government eventually fell in a Chilean led coup on September 11, 1973. Nixon’s administration was not sorry to see him go, but did U.S. covert operations actually play a decisive role in Allende’s downfall? The declassification of thousands of U.S. government documents over the last several years, while inconclusive, provides revisionists with enough mud to throw on the wall in an effort to make some of it stick.

Since 1973, leftists observers have maintained that U.S. machinations were responsible for the success of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s coup that forced Allende’s fall and suicide. This assessment has been based on a thin documentary record of U.S. activity, the myth of an all-powerful CIA, and the CIA’s history of covert action in Latin America.

Gustafson convincingly shows the conventional wisdom about the impact of U.S. actions is badly flawed. His research is based upon an intensive examination of previously unavailable U.S. records as well as interviews with key figures. Hostile Intent is the most comprehensive account to date of U.S. involvement in Chile, and its judgements of this involvement will help shape future debates.

It may just turn out that the Chileans wanted their country back and were willing to thow out a dictator to get it. The United States may have aided them – along with the cause of freedom – just as it helped Violeta Chamorro’s democratically elected government break the Cuban backed Sandinistas stranglehold on Nicaragua. The demise of our willingness to be the champions of liberty in our own hemisphere has led to the current state in Venezuela and the coming interference by the Chinese in Latin America will be more subtle – and more deadly – than the Russians ever dreamt possible.

Comments Off

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.