Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Other 9/11

Another September 11 that the progressive/left like to discuss is September 11, 1973 - the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. With the usual US/CIA bad guys behind it. Particularly with alleged declassified documents that show funds and sterile weapons were handed to Allende's opponents to assist in a coup. A coup the same documents show the US decided it wanted no part of and aborted after the botched kidnapping and killing of Rene Schneider, head of the Chilean military. With Schneider's death, Allende won the election by 39,000 votes.

What the one-siders fail to mention is the part the Soviets played in Chile during that time period.

Vasili Mitrokhin (1922-2004) worked for 30 years in foreign intelligence, archivist for the KGB where, at great risk to himself, he made notes of the contents of highly secret files that passed through his hands. Over many years, he assembled a huge collection of material, some in manuscript and some typed. He retired from his job in 1985, never officially defected; he left Russia in 1992 after the fall of the USSR. In 1999 Mitrokhin published his material in The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. He first approached the American embassy around 1992 but the CIA was not convinced he was credible, however, the British were and helped relocate him, his family and the retrieval of his documents.

Remember though, this was during the Clinton/Gore era of peace and prosperity and the headiness of having "won" the Cold War, etc. which may have influenced the CIA's reception of an old codger with reams and reams of paperwork on decades of KGB activity, or because US intelligence, after the fall of the USSR had more talkative "defectors" than they could handle. Or maybe the CIA just isn't as spyful as it was in its youth. After all, the CIA has done very little to thwart the recent rise of "socialists" to power in Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc.

Now, granted, we could say Mitrokhin the man spent a lifetime making up things, hiding and hoarding tens of thousands of documents and notes in tin containers under his floor boards, that he invented the intel from the creative recesses of his own mind. Or, he might have genuine KGB information. After publication, the FBI described the archive as "the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source."

In the Mitrokhin Archives, Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, KGB case officer in Chile during Allende, noted that "In the KGB's view, Allende's fundamental error was his unwillingness to use force against his opponents. Without establishing complete control over all the machinery of the State, his hold on power could not be secure... According to Allende's KGB file, he "was made to understand the necessity of reorganizing Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile's and the USSR's intelligence services", and he was said to react positively... In 1972, Moscow downgraded its assessment of the prospects of the Allende regime. The "truckers' strike", backed by CIA funding, virtually paralyzed the economy for three weeks, which Moscow saw as evidence of the weakness of the Popular Unity (Allende's) government.

Allende was the first Marxist anywhere in the world to win power through the ballot box. He was unlike any stereotype of a Marxist leader. During his visits to Havana in the 1960s, he had been privately mocked by Castro's entourage for his aristocratic tastes: fine wines, expensive objets d'art, well-cut suits and elegantly dressed women. Allende was also a womanizer. He was described as "a gallant with a touch of the old school about him, perfumed notes and furtive rendezvous."

Despite the private mockery which was aroused in Allende's Communist allies, however, his bourgeois appearance and expensive lifestyle were electoral assets, reassuring middle-class voters that their lives would continue normally under an Allende presidency. As even his opponents acknowledged, he had enormous personal charm.

In October 1971, on instructions from the Politburo, Allende was given $30,000 "in order to solidify the trusted relations" with him. Allende also mentioned to Kuznetsov his desire to acquire "one or two icons" for his private art collection. He was presented with two icons as a gift.

---- A man of the people - or an aristocratic fop for himself? Or the typical politician... looking for trusted relations.

In 1972 the mounting evidence of chronic economic mismanagement made Moscow reluctant to provide large-scale support.

The KGB later complained that Allende paid too little attention to its warnings of an impending disaster. When Pinochet and a junta launched their coup in the early hours of 11 September, the Communist leadership, who had also been kept informed by the KGB, were better prepared than Allende.

Allende, however, failed to live up to his promise six weeks earlier to summon the people to arms to defend his regime. Instead of seeking support in the working-class areas of Santiago, he based himself in the presidential offices in La Moneda, where he was defended by only 50 to 60 of his Cuban-trained guards and half a dozen officers from the Servicio de Investigaciones. Allende’s lack of preparation to deal with the coup partly derived from his preference for improvisation over advance planning. His French confidant, Régis Debray, later claimed that he "never planned anything more than 48 hours in advance."

Conspiracy buffs prefer to believe that Allende was murdered by Pinochet's men, but "In reality, it seems almost certain that, faced with inevitable defeat, Allende sat on a sofa in the Independence Salon of La Moneda, placed the muzzle of an automatic rifle (a present from Castro) beneath his chin and blew his brains out."

---- But isn't this what it seems to always come down to? One superpower or the other is going to control the game. Does the domino theory make more sense now? Do you really think the US will be better off as #2? Or are you dufus enough to believe no one is planning to fill the #1 spot? No matter how you look at it, you can squint, wear tinted lenses, cross your eyes but - eventually you have to pick a side. And if you choose the losing side, and there's always a losing side, you may end up on the couch with a muzzle under your chin, especially if your efforts to redistribute wealth result in stagnant production, food shortages, rising inflation, and widespread strikes.

(The backlashes are a bitch - to wit Pinochet, a rancid man. Oddly enough, Mexican drug lords and corrupt officials have murdered more civilians than Pinochet but the American "left" hasn't noticed - or think the solution is open borders and legalization of drugs.)

Régis Debray is/was the 1960s "radical" who's name usually shows up whenever reading romanticized b.s. about Cuba, Fidel, Che, Allende, Bolivia, Chile, etc. A guerrilla warrior with a pen, a sort of traveling cheerleader for revolutions. I probably have a couple of his works in a box in the attic smelling as musty as his ideas.

When "leftist" Francois Mitterrand was elected president of France in 1981 he appointed Debray as a "special adviser" on foreign affairs. "At first sight it was an odd choice. After what had happened to Guevara and Allende, Debray could hardly be seen as a lucky mascot. And given the quality of his previous predictions, the standard of advice he could offer was scarcely guaranteed.

It seems more likely that Mitterrand imagined that Debray's reputation would enhance the president's "left" image while he pursued ever more right wing policies. Debray did, however, do a number of odd jobs for Mitterrand, and acted as ghost writer: "I could churn out kilometers of pure Mitterrand nonstop." Debray finally resigned in 1988, noting that there was nothing socialist or even republican about Mitterrand's policies. True enough, but he took his time noticing it."

---- Hmmm, I guess the "left" is often smitten for those presidents with a "left image" who pursue right wing policies. Remind you of anyone in US politics recently?

In Debray's autobiography Tears of a Clown he bashes the Soviets, Castro, and Che. The "world-weary French writer and ex-revolutionary turned minor statesman" today writes about himself and other uninteresting topics, brooding that the left is not left enough, but too comfortable and too old now for trotting behind phony revolutions. Rumor is Debray has apparently came "to a total rejection of the idea that collective human action could change the world for the better." Well he should, he's 70.

But then ... some folks have always instinctually known that.

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