Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Los Insurgentes de Historia - Edicion de Chile

[R]evisionists are like...insurgents: they don't need to disprove the truth, they need only to make you think that the truth and a lie are equal possibilities-they just need to stop the truth from winning, in other words.

-Spencer Ackerman

Documenting the efforts of history's insurgents, and other assorted revisionists, has been a familiar endeavor for me, as well as others. Still, the death of Augusto Pinochet, and the predictable dissembling that it has sparked, reminded me of the Generalissimo of all insurgents de historia: Henry Kissinger.

From the Washington Post editorial page, we get this curiosity - which may have been at least partially inspired by one of Henry's many allies, concerned with preserving (or rehabilitating) his legacy:

Allende['s] responsibility for creating the conditions for the 1973 coup is usually overlooked.

Perhaps, but that probably has to do with the fact that any "responsibility" he bore was dwarfed by the considerable efforts undertaken by the CIA beginning in the years preceding the coup (under Kissinger's guidance) in sowing chaos, destabilization, violence and other conditions conducive to the eruption of the coup.

These excerpts are from Kenneth Maxwell's review of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, a book by Peter Kornbluh, one of the lead researchers and co-founders of the National Security Archive, a non-profit, non-partisan research library dedicated to the acquisition and cataloguing of declassified government documents:

But what is very clear in all of this is that the coup in Chile is exactly what Kissinger's boss wanted. As Nixon put it in his ineffable style, "It's that son of a bitch Allende. We're going to smash him." As early as October of 1970, the CIA had warned of possible consequences: "you have asked us to provoke chaos in Chile. ... We provide you with a formula for chaos which is unlikely to be bloodless. To dissimulate the U.S. involvement will be clearly impossible." [...]

Kornbluh's bill of particulars and the supporting documents he has uncovered confirm the deep involvement of the U.S. intelligence services in Chile prior to and after the coup. In outline, this story has been known for many years and will be no surprise to Chileans. The extent of the involvement was originally hinted at during the Senate hearings conducted by the late Frank Church in the mid-1970s. The scope and nature of these clandestine activities are significantly amplified by the documents released in the extensive declassification ordered by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000 and reprinted in Kornbluh's book. These documents include: transcripts of top-secret discussions among President Nixon, Kissinger, and other cabinet members on how "to bring Allende down"; minutes of secret meetings chaired by Kissinger to plan covert operations in Chile; new documentation of the notorious case of Charles Horman, an American murdered by the Chilean military and subject of the movie Missing; comprehensive documentation of the Letelier case and the extensive CIA, National Security Council, and State Department reports surrounding it; and U.S. intelligence reporting on Operation Condor.

The rest of the Washington Post editorial is similarly riddled with illogical arguments, and half-truths, presented, with sleight of hand, as penetrating insight. The Washington Post, though, is not the only esteemed institution to be tainted by such mendacity with respect to the history of US involvement in Chile.

The story goes back to the Kenneth Maxwell review cited above, as it appeared in Foreign Affairs (the respected periodical put out under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations) and the reaction it received from Henry Kissinger and some of his close relations at the CFR. Kissinger was able to use his considerable influence and access to cloud the historical record surrounding this chapter in US-Chilean relations, or at least that magazine's treatment of it.

In response to this perversion of empiricism, Maxwell was left with what he considered to be no option other than to resign both his position at the magazine as well as his endowed chair as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in May 2004 - positions he had held for fifteen and eleven years respectively.

A more in-depth treatment of this story is contained in this post from a couple of years back that has once again been made timely by the arc of events. The lessons are as germane as ever.

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