FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In an Age of ‘Realists’ and Vigilantes

The most important anniversary of the year was the 40th anniversary of 11 September 1973 – the crushing of the democratic government of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state. The National Security Archive in Washington has posted new documents that reveal much about Kissinger’s role in an atrocity that cost thousands of lives.

In declassified tapes, Kissinger is heard planning with President Richard Nixon the overthrow of President Salvador Allende. They sound like Mafiosi thugs.  Kissinger warns that the “model effect” of Allende’s reformist democracy “can be insidious”. He tells CIA director Richard Helms: “We will not let Chile go down the drain”, to which Helms replies: “I am with you.” With the slaughter under way, Kissinger dismisses a warning by his senior officials of the scale of the repression. Secretly, he tells Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West.”

I have known many of Pinochet’s and Kissinger’s victims. Sara De Witt, a student at the time, showed me the place where she was beaten, assaulted and electrocuted. On a wintry day in the suburbs of Santiago, we walked through a former torture centre known as Villa Grimaldi, where hundreds like her suffered terribly and were murdered or “disappeared”.

Understanding Kissinger’s criminality is vital when trying to fathom what the US calls its “foreign policy”. Kissinger remains an influential voice in Washington, admired and consulted by Barack Obama. When Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain commit crimes with US collusion and weapons, their impunity and Obama’s hypocrisy are pure Kissinger. Syria must not have chemical weapons, but Israel can have them and use them. Iran must not have a nuclear programme, but Israel can have more nuclear weapons than Britain. This is known as “realism” or realpolitik by Anglo-American academics and think-tanks that claim expertise in “counter-terrorism” and “national security”, which are Orwellian terms meaning the opposite.

In recent weeks, the New Statesman has published articles by John Bew, an academic at Kings College war studies department, which the cold warrior Laurence Freedman made famous.  Bew laments the parliamentary vote that stopped David Cameron joining Obama in lawlessly attacking Syria and the hostility of most British people to bombing other nations. A note at the end of his articles says he will “take up the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations” in Washington. If this is not a black joke, it a profanity on those like Sara de Witt and Kissinger’s countless other victims, not least those who died in the holocaust of his and Nixon’s secret, illegal bombing of Cambodia.

This doctrine of “realism” was invented in the US following the second world war and sponsored by the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations, the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) and the Council on Foreign relations. In the great universities, students were taught to regard people in terms of their usefulness or expendability: in other words, their threat to “us”. This narcissism served to justify the cold war, its moralising myths and cataclysmic risks, and when that was over, the “war on terror”. Such a “transatlantic consensus” often found its clearest echo in Britain, with the British elite’s enduring nostalgia for empire. Tony Blair used it to commit and justify his war crimes until his lies got the better of him. The violent death of more than a thousand people in Iraq every month is his legacy; yet his views are still courted, and his chief collaborator, Alastair Campbell, is a jolly after-dinner speaker and the subject of obsequious interviews. All the blood, it seems, has been washed away.

Syria is the current project. Outflanked by Russia and public opinion, Obama has now embraced the “path of diplomacy”. Has he? As Russian and US negotiators arrived in Geneva on 12 September, the US increased its support for the Al-Qaeda affiliated militias with weapons sent clandestinely through Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Gulf. The Godfather has no intention of deserting his proxies in Syria. Al Qaeda was all but created by the CIA’s Operation Cyclone that armed the mujahedin in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Since then, jihadists have been used to divide and Arab societies and in eliminating the threat of pan-Arab nationalism to western “interests” and Israel’s lawless colonial expansion. This is Kissinger-style “realism”.

In 2006, I interviewed Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, who ran the CIA in Latin America in the 1980s. Here was a true “realist”. Like Kissinger and Nixon on the tapes, he spoke his mind.  He referred to Salvador Allende as “whatshisname in Chile” and said “he had to go because it was in our national interests”. When I asked what gave him the right to overthrow governments, he said, “Like it or lump it, we’ll do what we like. So just get used to it, world.”

The world is no longer getting used to it. In a continent ravaged by those whom Nixon called “our bastards”, Latin American governments have defied the likes of Clarridge and implemented much of Allende’s dream of social democracy – which was Kissinger’s fear. Today, most of Latin America is independent of US foreign policy and free of its vigilantism. Poverty has been cut almost by half; children live beyond the age of five; the elderly learn to read and write. These remarkable advances are invariably reported in bad faith in the west and ignored by the “realists”. That must never lessen their value as a source of optimism and inspiration for all of us.

John Pilger’s new film, Utopia, will have its premiere at the National Film Theatre in London on 3 October and open in cinemas in November. www.johnpilger.com

More articles by:

John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail