FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

No, Mr. Dorfman, This is Not Chile

Photo by Toxic5 | DeviantArt

Photo by Toxic5 | DeviantArt

In the days following 9/11, the Chilean-born writer Ariel Dorfman wrote what, for me, were the truest and most indelible words about that tragic event. Right here in CounterPunch, in an article published on October 3, 2001, and titled “America’s No Longer Unique,” Mr. Dorfman expressed grief and sympathy for the lives lost, while also pleading for a compassionate response from a country that had just experienced what other, “less fortunate peoples” had experienced before; an America that had just had the bubble of its “famous exceptionalism” burst.

I still repost that story every anniversary of 9/11, awaiting the day that never comes, the day when the United States eschews violence and, in Mr. Dorfman’s eloquent prose, the “new Americans forged in pain and resurrection are ready and open and willing to participate in the arduous process of repairing our shared, our damaged humanity.”

The country Mr. Dorman used for comparison, of course, was his native Chile, which, on another 9/11 in 1973, had experienced a catastrophic coup that featured the bombing of the presidential palace in Santiago. That event was brought about, not surprisingly, with the collusion of the CIA.

Fifteen years later, Mr. Dorfman, now a professor at Duke University, is back, this time on the op-ed page of The New York Times, again invoking the Chilean disaster of yesteryear. Only this time he compares it to the Russian hacking fiasco of the 2016 election.

It pains me that Mr. Dorfman swallows this dubious fairy tale hook, line, and sinker. “And yes,” he writes, “it is ironic that the C.I.A. — the very agency that gave not a whit for the independence of other nations — is now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival.” And yet that doesn’t give him a moment’s pause to question the veracity of the CIA’s claims?

Apparently not. “Nothing warrants that citizens anywhere should have their destiny manipulated by forces outside the land they inhabit,” he intones. “The seriousness of this violation of the people’s will must not be flippantly underestimated or disparaged.”

Worse, anyone who underestimates the truthfulness of these (insubstantial) claims—up to and including President-elect Trump—is guilty of the same denialism that infected some of Mr. Dorfman’s compatriots in the 1970s. “When Mr. Trump denies, as do his acolytes, the claims by the intelligence community that the election was, in fact, rigged in his favor by a foreign power, he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal interventions in our internal affairs. He is using now the same terms of scorn we heard back then: Those allegations, he says, are ‘ridiculous’ and mere ‘conspiracy theory,’ because it is ‘impossible to know’ who was behind it.”

But, Mr. Dorfman readily admits, “Thanks to the Church Committee and its valiant, bipartisan 1976 report, the world discovered the many crimes the C.I.A. had been committing, the multiple ways in which it had destroyed democracy elsewhere — in order, supposedly, to save the world from Communism.” More importantly, as he well knows, those “many crimes” consisted of openly-supported coups, assassinations, fomenting of unrest, economic warfare, and other dirty tricks, not to mention a pattern of meddling that extended far beyond one country and that continues to this day with color revolutions and all the rest.

Mr. Dorfman knows all this, and he must know that in the case of the 2016 election, all we have are unnamed sources, allegations of leaked or hacked e-mails (the contents of which are not in dispute), vague and inchoate assertions of “fake news” and favoritism, a dearth of real, verifiable evidence, and, yes, the “ridiculous,” SNL-fueled notion that Trump is some kind of Russian puppet or agent.

To his credit, Mr. Dorfman uses his piece, in a close parallel to his 9/11 essay, to push for self-reflection on the part of the exceptional nation, and, one can only hope (probably in vain), an end to our country’s baldfaced interference in the affairs of other nations.

But the context and conclusion are all wrong. This is not Chile in the 70s, and we lack proof of this grand Russian conspiracy. Interestingly, the tone in this piece, despite Mr. Dorfman’s protestations to the contrary, has more than a whiff of gloating about it. Take that, he seems to say, for all your past sins.

Sorry, Professor. The CIA fooled you once: shame on them. Fool you twice: shame on you.

Fred Baumgarten is a writer living in Sharon, Connecticut.

More articles by:

Fred Baumgarten lives in Sharon, Connecticut.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail