excerpted from the book
The Greatest Story Never
A People's History of the
American Empire 1945-1999
by Michael K. Smith
Xlibrus Corporation, 2002,
YEARS OF STALEMATE
Contrary to conventional assumptions, the U.S. achieved its primary
political objective in Vietnam, though sustaining a military defeat.
The enemy in Vietnam, as elsewhere, was independent nationalism,
any successful experiment in non-Western development that could
serve as a model for other Third World states. As the internal
planning record of the state managers shows, Vietnam was regarded
as a "virus" threatening to infect healthy tissue throughout
Asia, a "rotten apple" that might "spoil the barrel."
3~9 Once the NLF and the peasant society of which it was a part
was destroyed, as they virtually were by the 1970s, there was
no danger that any successor state could put the country together
again, certainly not in any form that other Third World peoples
might be tempted to imitate. For consider: the U.S. had dropped
8 million tons of bombs and almost 400,000 tons of napalm, leaving
behind 21 million bomb craters. It had killed over 2 million Cambodians,
Vietnamese, and Laotians, wounded over 3 million more, and scattered
14 million traumatized refugees throughout Indochina. It had rained
down 18 million gallons of Agent Orange and other defoliants,
creating forests bereft of trees, animals, or birds, and cursing
the war's survivors with extraordinary rates of liver cancer,
miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects. It left in its wake
83,000 amputees, 40,000 blind or deaf, and hundreds of thousands
of orphans, prostitutes, disabled, mentally ill, and drug addicts.
With the NLF largely eradicated by the Phoenix program, the only
political option remaining for the Vietnamese was to have Hanoi
attempt to pick up the pieces, an outcome that Washington could
and did portray as Communist aggression, lending apparent retrospective
justification to the U.S. war effort and providing a convenient
scapegoat for the inevitable social catastrophe that followed.
Thus, though the U.S. was forced to withdraw, the incalculable
destruction it imposed before leaving constituted a political
victory, providing further ammunition for anti-Communist propaganda
to underwrite fresh imperial adventures. Surely, social change
movements throughout the world took note, scaling back their aspirations
for justice in accordance with the fearful price Washington could
make them pay.
East Timor Vs. Cambodia
The U.S. response to two bloodbaths of
genocidal proportions in the seventies highlighted Washington's
ludicrous rhetoric on human rights. In Cambodia, Khmer Rouge massacres
raised Western media criticism to fever pitch, triggering Pavlovian
fulminations about the inherent evil of Communism and its natural
termination in the Gulag state. The standard take dovetailed with
Richard Nixon's, who wrote after leaving office that "Communist
governments have killed over a half million Vietnamese and over
2 million Cambodians," mysteriously concluding that the U.S
blitzkrieg in Indochina had therefore been an attempt to "save
Cambodia and Vietnam" in a "moral cause."
Agreeing with Nixon, U.S. pack journalists
seized upon Cambodia as the very archetype of evil, devoid of
the slightest redeeming feature, committed only to slaughter and
mass starvation. Evidence suggesting popular support for the Khmer
Rouge, particularly among poor peasants, was dismissed with ridicule
and contempt. In a country pounded to dust by U.S. saturation
bombing, the peasants' nine-hour workday was regarded as the most
atrocious form of exploitation ever devised, and no comparisons
with brutal subjugations in the West's imperial domains were issued.
Peasant revenge, undisciplined troops, and the legacy of the U.S.
attack on Cambodia, all were disregarded as factors in Cambodian
genocide, hastily cast aside in preference for the more compelling
theme of Red Devils possessed by insatiable blood lust.
On the other hand, when Indonesia invaded
East Timor in the aftermath of the island's 1975 civil war, no
untoward questions were asked as the U.S. heaped arms and diplomatic
support on its client while it killed 200,000 indigenous people,
nearly a third of the population. This constituted the largest
massacre proportionate to population size since the Nazi Holocaust,
carried out with Washington ignoring U.N. condemnations of the
escalating atrocities and blocking sanctions against the Suharto
regime while the U.S. media looked the other way. On the eve of
the slaughter Henry Kissinger declared in Jakarta that, "the
United States understands Indonesia's position." U.S. Ambassador
to the U.N. Daniel Moynihan proudly compared the bloodletting
to Hitler's rampages in Eastern Europe, boasting in his memoirs
that, "The Department of State desired that the U.N. prove
utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. The task
was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable
The U.S. media chose not to notice. At
the peak of the carnage in 1978, coverage of East Timor in the
New York Times dropped from minimal to zero.
The revelations of the Church and Pike
Committees made clear that a police state had made significant
inroads into American society. The F.B.I. had infiltrated groups
like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Americans For
Democratic Action, the Black Panthers, the Socialist Workers Party,
the N.A.A.C.P., and Students For A Democratic Society, among others,
their operations, fomenting ideological
fights, instigating violent conflict between dissident groups,
conducting wiretaps, maintaining thousands of dossiers on private
citizens, planting bombs, and carrying out kidnappings, beatings,
robberies, and assassinations, including the murder of nineteen
Black Panthers around the country in the late 1960s and early
1970s.335 The C.I.A., supposedly prohibited from gathering domestic
intelligence, had carried out domestic break-ins to install wiretaps,
collected files on thousands of anti-war protesters and other
dissidents, opened the mail of private citizens, infiltrated Congressional
electoral campaigns, "donated" thousands of dollars
to private companies for undisclosed purposes, conducted electronic
and physical surveillance of newspaper reporters, infiltrated
various news services, and maintained dozens of journalists and
college professors on the Agency payroll. It had infiltrated student,
labor, scientific, and academic groups, secretly financed propaganda
in the guise of independent scholarship, experimented with LSD
on unsuspecting subjects, and trained local police departments
around the country in surveillance, detections, and counterinsurgency,
all in violation of a congressional ban on domestic spying.
The C.I.A. was also shown to have carried
out covert operations against the European labor movement, overthrown
the democratically elected governments of Iran, Guatemala, and
Chile, conducted a "secret" war in Laos, implemented
a program of political mass murder in Vietnam, subverted Italian
democracy, trafficked in the Southeast Asian heroin trade, and
hired gangsters to assassinate Fidel Castro.
In short, the national security state
had met the enemy, and it was everyone.
"Make the economy scream" barks
President Nixon to C.I.A. Director Richard Helms and Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger, demanding Chile be punished for electing
a professed socialist to the presidency. U.S. Ambassador Edward
Korry gets the message, vowing that, "Not a nut or bolt [will]
be allowed to reach Chile under Allende. "
International lending institutions cut
off aid while military funding continues to flow, inducement for
right-thinking generals to approach the throne. I.T.T. Director
John McCone offers $1 million to the C.I.A. to overthrow the Chilean
turncoat whose perverse priorities include milk for children,
land for the landless, and independence for Chile.
Awash in dollars, the Chilean press screams
of nationalization, Communist atrocities, and economic collapse.
General Rene Schneider blocks C.I.A. coup plans with obscure references
to the Chilean Constitution, but the petty obstacle is removed
when the General is ambushed and murdered on his way to work.
An I.T.T. memo to Henry Kissinger laments
that Allende's election has left "Private foreign enterprise
. . . groping for means of protecting its investments, "
and warns that Allende's social democratic plans may prove a "contagious
example. " Kissinger has already explained that the U.S.
doesn't accept elections that come out the wrong way: "I
don't see why we should have to stand by and let a country go
Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. "
1970 The Winter Soldier Investigation: Vietnam Vets Tell It Like
" . . they didn't believe our body
counts. So we had to cut off the right ear of everybody we killed
to prove our body count. "
"Now what we did to this man when
we strung him up is that he was stripped of all his clothes, and
then they tied a string around his testicles and . . . the guy
that was holding that string would just yank on it as hard as
he could about ten times . . . "
" . . we threw full C-ration cans
at kids on the side of the road. Well, just for a joke, these
guys would take a full can . . . and throw it as hard as they
could at a kid s head. I saw several kids' heads split wide open
. . .
"They went into the village and instead
of capturing her, they raped her-every man raped her.... and then,
the last man to make love to her, shot her in the head. "
"The philosophy was that anybody
running must be a Viet Cong; he must have something to hide or
else he would stick around for the Americans, not taking into
consideration that he was running from the Americans because they
were continually shooting at him. So they shot down anybody who
" . . . He took me down to this dungeon
where South Vietnamese troops were pulling fingernails out of
an old woman. There was an American captain standing by, rocking
on his heels, rather enjoying the show.
"We'd throw out the ration cans that
we didn't like and, after they thought we were getting a lot of
food, we'd hand them cans of 5606, which is helicopter hydraulic
fluid and very poisonous. And I observed one kid . . . take a
good healthy drink out of it before his mother knocked it over..."
"This was common policy. Kill anything
you want to kill, any time you want to kill it-just don't get
. . . two men were leading a young girl,
approximately 19 years old, very pretty, out of a hooch. She had
no clothes on so I assumed she
had been raped, which was pretty SOP,
and then she was thrown onto the pile of the 19 women and children,
and five men around the circle opened up on full automatic with
their M-16s. "
" ... he was .... the platoon hatchet
man. Any time that he had a prisoner that nobody in the room wanted,
this guy would take his ID card and tell him to "Di Di Mau,
" which is "run" in Vietnamese. The guy would get
about ten feet, and get a full burst of automatic, which is 20
rounds, in the back."
"You go out, fly your mission, you
come back to your air-conditioned hootch and drink beer or whatever.
You're not in contact with it. You don't realize . . . what you're
" . . the heads of the bodies were
cut off and they were placed on stakes, jammed down on stakes,
and were placed in the middle of the trails and a Cav patch was
hammered into the top of his head, with Bravo Company "B"
written right on the patch."
".... when the kids, and I do mean
kids-four years old, ranging up to sixteen years old-came around
the fence to sell GIs cigarettes, or candy, or beg for food, they
were CS'd. And what I mean is they were gassed.
" . . . we'd take C-ration crackers
and put peanut butter on it and stick a trioxylene heat tab in
the middle and put peanut butter around it and let the kids munch
on it the effect more or less of trioxylene is to eat the membrane
out of your throat and if swallowed, would probably eat holes
through your stomach. "
"I saw during my tour 20 deformed
infants under the age of one. . . . I thought it was congenital
or something, from venereal disease, because they had flippers
and things.... it was common knowledge that Agent Orange was sprayed
in the area .... "
"Fugas is a jelly-like substance.
It's flammable and .... they explode the barrel over an area and
this flaming jelly-like substance lands on everything . . . people
or animals or whatever."
"I didn't see any humane treatment
of prisoners . . . If it wasn't electrical torture, it was the
snake torture. If it wasn't the snake torture it was barbed wire
"There was a lot of mistreatment.
We stood there and watched these leeches on peoples' backs. They
would suck out enough blood (they would be about five inches long)
and these young guys would just fall over. . . "
" . . people in my unit were a little
bit weary of going out in the field with me. I started enjoying
killing people a little bit more than you're supposed to . .
"You could take the wires of a jeep
battery put it most any place on their body, and you're going
to shock the hell out of the guy. The basic place you put it was
the genitals. "
"The major that I worked for had
a fantastic capability of staking prisoners, utilizing a knife
that was extremely sharp, and sort of filleting them like a fish.
"I had a friend who was working with
USAID and he was also with CIA.... He went over there, ripped
her clothes off and took a knife and cut her from her vagina almost
all the way up, just about up to her breasts and pulled her organs
out, completely out of her cavity, and threw them out....
"You know, if Vietnam is not violently
painful then its such a crashing bore that you can't stand it."
"This is not an invasion of Cambodia"
announces President Nixon on national T.V., disclosing the U.S.
invasion of Cambodia. Nervous and perspiring, Nixon denounces
"the actions of the enemy, " which constitute an "unacceptable
risk" and "clearly endanger the lives of Americans in
Vietnam. " Since "thousands" of North Vietnamese
soldiers are "invading the country from . . . sanctuaries,
" the U.S. has no choice but "to go to the heart of
the trouble" and wipe out "the headquarters for the
entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam." It
is essential that the U.S. show resolve at this crucial moment
or else the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy that "threaten
free nations and free institutions throughout the world "will
conclude that the most powerful nation on earth is but 'a pitiful,
helpless giant. "
There is no time to waste, says Nixon
gravely, for already in the heart of the Free World "great
universities are being systematically destroyed."
College campuses explode in riots and troop morale sinks to a
new low following the expansion of the war. National Guardsmen
flash the V-sign to anti-war students and soldiers go into battle
with peace amulets around their necks.
In Cambodia, a GI jumps from a helicopter
under enemy fire, a scrawled helmet message advertising his disenchantment
with a cynical world: "We are the unwilling, led by the unqualified,
doing the unnecessary, for the ungrateful."
1970 Kent State
When the soldiers draw down their weapons
the students believe they are shooting blanks.
Jeff Miller catches a shot full in the
face that takes off the top of his skull. Allison Krause is hit
squatting behind a parked car. Sandy Scheuer is shot in the neck
on her way to an afternoon class. Bill Schroeder takes a bullet
that shatters a rib, tears through his lung and exits through
his left shoulder. All four die.
The students reel in shock. A young Ohio
National Guardsman rolls on the ground, moaning hysterically:
"I just shot two teenagers. '
With determined anguish a young man dips
an American flag in the freshly spilled blood and waves it defiantly
in the air.
In grief and stunned despair, Allison
Krause's father begs to know why his daughter had to die.
"Is this dissent a crime? Is this
a reason to kill her?"
1970 Kent State
Mother: Anyone who appears on the streets
of a city like Kent with long hair, dirty clothes or barefooted
deserves to be shot.
Researcher: Have I your permission to
Mother: You sure do. It would have been
better if the Guard had shot the whole lot of them that morning.
Researcher: But you had three sons there.
Mother: If they didn't do what the Guards
told them, they should have been mowed down.
Professor of Psychology (listening in):
Is long hair a justification for shooting someone?
Mother: Yes, we have got to clean up this
nation. And we'll start with the long hairs.
Professor: Would you permit one of your
sons to be shot simply because he went barefooted?
Professor: Where do you get such ideas?
Mother: I teach at the local high school.
1970 Jackson State college
Tensed for battle, lines of police confront
a jeering crowd of students outside the women's dormitory at Jackson
An officer raises his bullhorn to speak.
A hurled bottle shatters at the feet of the massed police.
A hail of gunfire is released into the
crowd, the dorm windows, and the midnight darkness. The students
flee wildly, convulsing into a screaming stampede that drops chaotically
to the ground and pitches headlong into shrubs. Bullets ricochet
off walls and shatter windows, sending a shower of glass, concrete,
and brick cascading onto the squirming mass of bodies outside
the dormitory doorway. Phillip Gibbs, a Jackson State student,
catches a bullet in the face and dies. High school student James
Green is shot dead coming home from work.
Inspector Lloyd "Goon" Jones
identifies the victims for his dispatcher: "They're nigger
Bodies cleared away and calm restored,
students sit on the lawn under the night sky, praying and singing
They pass the night sobbing and singing,
waiting for the dawn to come.
1970 Kent State / Spiro Agnew
Traitors and thieves and perverts made
the Kent State killings "inevitable," announces Vice-President
Spiro Agnew, the Administration's specialist in vituperative loathing.
He lambastes student protesters as 'misfits,"
'garbage," and "spoiled brats. " Anti-war organizers
are "an effete corps of impudent snobs" who ought to
be separated from society "with no more regret than we should
feel over discarding rotten apples from a barrel. " Such
"merchants of hate" are "vultures" who 'pervert
honest concern to something sick and rancid, " while their
liberal allies "have a masochistic compulsion to destroy
their countries' strength. " Liberal politicians are "ideological
eunuchs, " 'parasites of passion" who exploit "the
cause" in the interests of self-advancement.
In the aftermath of the riots attending
Martin Luther King's assassination Agnew remarked that he "never
did think that Martin Luther King was a good American, anyhow.
" He blamed the violence on "the circuit-riding, Hanoi-visiting
caterwauling, riot-inciting, burn America-down type of leader."
On the 1968 campaign trail he announced
that there wasn't "any particular gain" in talking to
ghetto residents about their problems because, "You don't
learn from people suffering from poverty but from experts . .
. " In a TV appearance he added that, "If you've seen
one city slum, you've seen them all. "
After calling a Japanese American reporter
a "a fat Jap," he refused to apologize, insisting that
the remark constituted a form of playful banter.
1970 Vietnam War protestors
Vice-President Agnew calls for the public
to look on Vietnam protesters as storm troopers or Ku Klux Klan
members and "act accordingly. "
Ten days later New York construction workers
charge police lines to beat up students chanting "Peace Now!"
The officers stand aside while a group of businessmen directs
the flag-waving hard hats to their targets. Longshoremen and office
workers join in, and for days New York is aglow with parades and
White House aide Charles Colson invites
the street fighters in for coffee with the President. A grateful
Richard Nixon confesses he found their thrashing of the anti-war
demonstrators "very meaningful. "
Covered with rolling savannah and forest,
the elevated plateau derives its name from the huge abandoned
urns left behind by an ancient civilization of which little is
known. Once it was one of the most beautiful and fertile spots
in the country, rich in salt, iron, cattle, and fruit, its grasslands
alternately golden in the dry season and bursting with green in
the spring. Today it is a vast and lifeless ruin.
The sixty thousand descendants of Laotian
civilization have fled underground or into lowland refugee camps
to escape the screaming rain of death from the American sky: jellied
gasoline and white phosphorous, delayed action, fragmentation,
flechette, and ball-bearing bombs, guided missiles that seek out
bodies even when hidden in caves. Village after village has been
blown to bits, the inhabitants buried alive by high explosives,
burned by liquid fire, riddled by steel splinters.
Deafened by the round-the-clock bombardments,
death-defying peasants emerge from underground at dusk and dawn
to farm among the cratered ruins of their ancient land, which
is devoid of stationary structures or surface human life for the
first time in over a thousand years.
To kill each "Vietcong" costs
a half a million dollars, which could support 3400 Americans in
college or build 50 new housing units. A heavy B-52 raid costs
$40 million, which is enough to purchase three 400-bed hospitals.
A single bridge in North Vietnam, attacked daily since 1965, has
claimed 99 American jets at an estimated total cost of $500 million.
The bombs exploding over Laos are equivalent
to several Hiroshimas a month.
The expenses falling on the U.S. taxpayer
mortgage the future doom the Great Society.
1971 Vietnam / Orwell
In jungles and rice paddies thousands
of miles removed from the United States, soldiers defend the American
way of life.
Bomb crates are marked Do Not Drop. Conscription
is called service. Ecocide and the obliteration of villages is
pacification. Pacification is designed to win hearts and minds.
The Vietnamese are foreign invaders in their own country. Stalinist
North Vietnam is the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; neo-fascist
South Vietnam is the defender of democracy. A C.I.A. assassination
program is run through a public agency for international development.
Torture is a function of military intelligence. Troops killed
by their own side are victims of friendly fire.
Lyndon Johnson was a peace candidate.
1971 Colby / Westmoreland
To undermine popular support for Vietnamese
guerrillas, the C.I.A. tortures and kills their "Communist"
relatives, friends, and supporters in a campaign of "selective
counter-terror" that claims the lives of tens of thousands.
C.I.A. Director William Colby declares
that the Phoenix program is necessary "to protect the Vietnamese
people against terrorism." In a Congressional appearance
he is asked about the U.S. ability to distinguish the "terrorists"
from ordinary civilians: 'Are you certain that we know a member
of the VCI (Vietcong Infrastructure) from a loyal member of the
South Vietnam citizenry?"
Colby replies: "No, Mr. Congressman,
I am not."
General Westmoreland explains the program's
military advantage: "It does deprive the enemy of the population,
Farmers work the fields with water buffalo.
Women wash clothes in polluted streams. Half the population lives
in hovels lacking electricity, water, or toilets. In rural areas
there are no paved roads, no irrigation, no doctors or dentists.
In malnutrition wards, haunting eyes stare from skeletal heads
perched over toothpick limbs and swollen bellies.
Ferdinand Marcos unveils a new Constitution
giving him all legislative and executive powers and imposing martial
law. To kick off the new era he orders a wave of arrests, muzzles
the press, and gives the green light to looting by family, friends,
and foreign investors. With torture and "disappearances"
proceeding as usual, opposition leaders appeal to the Supreme
Court, only to discover that Marcos has abolished it.
U.S. military aid continues to flow. Business
Week applauds the Philippine dictator for having "made it
abundantly clear that he wants to help American business as much
as domestic politics will allow. "
World Bank loans to Marcos quadruple.
1972 Vietnam President Thieu
One out of nine of his subjects are under
arms. He holds 200,000 political prisoners in jails and torture
cages. He is prepared to enlist children under the age of seven
in supporting units. President Nixon describes him as one of the
world's five greatest states men.
He tells a Saigon crowd that "we
have to kill the Communists to the last man. " Although his
vast army is no match for the popular support of the National
Liberation Front, he refuses to consider power sharing.
"Those in South Vietnam who want
to promote a coalition with the Communists should raise their
hands. I am sure . . . the soldiers will not let them live for
more than five minutes. ''
1972 Henry Kissinger
International relations is a system of
political hydraulics. Pressures and power vacuums precipitate
outcomes devoid of moral significance. Between the superpowers
mutuality of interest does not exist. More importantly, since
Marxists only understand self-interest, appeals to shared moral
concerns are naive and suicidal. The true goal of the statesman
is to establish "equilibrium," not promote justice or
Courage is the essential virtue of being
willing to crush opponents too weak to fight back and to "face
up to the risks of Armageddon." John Kennedy exemplified
it, establishing a 'psychological balance" by humiliating
the Soviet Union in the Cuban Missile Crisis. American policymakers
should follow his example.
United States policy in Vietnam is selfless,
carried out by "idealistic Americans working under impossible
conditions to bring government and health and development to a
terrified and bewildered people." By contrast, anti-war demonstrators
are "stimulated 6y a sense of guilt encouraged by modern
psychiatry and the radical chic rhetoric of upper-middle class
The saturation bombings of Cambodia that
are demolishing the country are not an ethical concern: "I
may have a lack of imagination, but I fail to see a moral issue
Tanks roll through the streets, soldiers
break down doors, shots ring out from stadiums jammed with General
Pinochet's enemies. Dead bodies bob to the surface of rivers and
lie fallen on the blood-splashed streets. Libraries of books are
tossed into bonfires and 24 hour torture centers open for business.
Marauding soldiers cut the legs from women's trousers, shouting
the new dress code: "In Chile women wear dresses!"
The U.S. Navy stands by offshore, monitoring
The nation is closed to the outside world
while the butcher's bill is paid. Vice-Admiral Merino, Commander
in Chief of the Navy, rebukes officers objecting to the slaughter:
"We are eradicating Marxism.... We are conducting a surgical
operation... Our work is humanitarian.
Explaining that political freedom "serves
the interests of Marxism," General Pinochet suspends the
Constitution, closes down Congress, outlaws political parties,
gags the press, and bans elections for the rest of his life.
American investment bankers open their
checkbooks while the U.S. media hails the Chilean "return
1973 Chile / Allende
U.S. Hawker Hunter missiles crash through
the windows of the Presidential Palace where President Allende,
rejecting exile, makes his final speech to the nation. "I
am not going to resign . . . they have the power, they can smash
us, hut the social processes cannot be held back either by crime
or by force. History is ours, and the People will make it."
After a hopeless battle, death comes swiftly
in the afternoon.
At the head of his patrol, Captain Roberto
Garrido bursts into the smoke and tear-gas filled palace, charges
up the main staircase and enters the state reception hall.
With a band of intimates, Allende fights-on
to the bitter end, armed with the AK-47 Fidel Castro wanted him
Captain Garrido lets loose a burst of
machine gun fire, leaving Allende writhing on the floor. He shouts:
"We shit on the President!"
Allende once promised that he would not
leave office unless he were riddled with bullets.
Garrido's men riddle him with bullets.
Campesinos passing over the Las Tejuelas
bridge gape in horror at the dozens of headless cadavers floating
down the Nuble River, hands bound behind their backs. Reporting
the crime to the military police, they are told to mind their
"You saw nothing. If you say anything,
we will arrest you and cut your throats, just like these corpses."
Under Pentagon tutelage at the School
of the Americas Latin American military officers learn to loathe
subversion, an elastic category that includes Catholic 'consciousness
raising work," demonstrations, strikes, "compromised
social sciences," and other ideological deviations supportive
of communal life.
According to the U.S. curriculum, notions
of institutional causes for poverty and injustice "deform"
history. Malcontents who insist otherwise are Kremlin agents or
Among Latin Americans the institute is
known as the 'school of coups." In the 1964 Brazilian coup
the U.S.-trained faction assumed the leadership in eliminating
Constitutional rule. In the recent Chilean coup, the junta that
deposed Salvador Allende boasted six graduates. One hundred and
seventy SOA graduates are current heads of state, cabinet ministers,
commanding generals, or directors of intelligence.
The American commandant of the school
tells a reporter that graduates are not forgotten.
"We keep in touch with our graduates
and they keep in touch with us."
1975 Nuclear war
Equipped with a nuclear arsenal containing
the explosive equivalent of 615,385 Hiroshima bombs, the Ford
Administration formulates plans for "limited" nuclear
war. Testifying before a Senate subcommittee Defense Secretary
James Schlesinger assures the august body that nuclear war would
not be catastrophic, that "the psychological impact of a
nuclear attack would result in some initial loss of confidence
in government, " but that 'positive, adaptive behavior would
The predicted Communist bloodbath does
not materialize. After two decades of Western terror retribution
deaths are close to zero. Hanoi's revenge creates nothing worse
than reeducation camps.
The miracle of reconciliation and restraint
passes unnoticed by American commentators, who prefer to denounce
Communist indoctrination methods. Those who Washington employed
to torture and destroy are portrayed as innocent victims, forced
to endure the agony of political lectures.
The hundreds of thousands of orphans,
drug addicts, prostitutes, and maimed survivors the U.S. Ieaves
in its wake, whom the Vietnamese must somehow rehabilitate while
overcoming a shattered economy, obliterated ecology, and demolished
social order, are ignored and quickly forgotten.
An Air Force general says the important
lesson is that "We could have won the war if political factors
had not entered in. " Secretary of State Rusk blames the
loss of Vietnam on the "impatience" of the American
people, adding that a future Vietnam-style war will require censorship.
"You cant fight a war on television," he laments.
General Maxwell Taylor contends that success
requires the banning of dissent, counseling that any President
would " be well advised to silence future critics by executive
With millions dead and Indochina in ruins,
President Ford urges Americans to forget. "The lessons of
the past," he says, "have already been learned . . .
and we should have our focus on the future."
1975 Excessive democracy
The Trilateral Commission, David Rockefeller's
elite planning group designed "to bring the best brains in
the world to bear on the problems of the future," releases
its report on the 'governability of democracies" in the wake
of the tumultuous 1960s.
The Commission finds an "excess of
democracy" responsible for undermining governmental authority
at home and encouraging a "decline in the influence of democracy
abroad. " Especially worrisome are the "value oriented
intellectuals," who "devote themselves to the derogation
of leadership, the challenging of authority and the unmasking
and delegitimization of established institutions," primarily
those entrusted with "the indoctrination of the young. "
With previously marginalized groups entering
the public arena and clamoring for institutional change, the Commissioners
wistfully long for a return to the Truman years, when the President
ran the nation with the help of a handful of Wall Street bankers
To restore authentic democracy the Trilateralists
request that groups pressing for change be returned to their customary
state of "apathy and noninvolvement."
1975 East Timor
Hours after Henry Kissinger and President
Ford depart Jakarta, bombs begin falling on Dili. At dawn Indonesia
The commanders shout "fire"
and the bodies fall like leaves. Begging for mercy, the Timorese
scramble to kiss the feet of the Indonesian killers, screaming
for their wives, their mothers, their children.
The soldiers, unmoved, line people up
facing the sea and riddle them with machine-gun fire. Friends
and neighbors of the dead attach bricks and pipes to the corpses
and hurl them into the water. Then they, too, are executed.
With U.S. advisers directing and participating
in killing missions, sixty thousand Timorese are slaughtered in
just a few months.
The American people never hear about it.
1975: Iran / SAVAK
Accountable only to the Shah, they are
the sole authority for political crimes. Among the tools of their
trade are whips, fists, electric shock, pliers, boiling water,
heavy weights, fire, and glass bottles. Many of their victims
vanish without a trace.
Suspects have no right to choose a lawyer
and are not permitted contact with anyone outside of prison. They
have no right to call witnesses or cross examine. Guilt is assumed
and the only hope for leniency is to confess and recant. Even
so, torture often continues after conviction.
Asked why he needs a secret police, the
Shah is nonplussed. "Why? Everybody has. Who hasn't got a
secret police?" In an interview with Le Monde he objects
to being singled out for human rights abuses: "Why should
we not employ the same methods as you Europeans? We have learned
sophisticated methods of torture from you. "
1976 South Africa
Anti-apartheid protests, strikes, and
riots break out in the black township, triggering upheaval throughout
the country. The South African police reassert control with mass
killing and imprisonment.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger meets
with South African Prime Minister Vorster for friendly discussions.
The U.N. General Assembly votes unanimously
to prohibit member nations from having diplomatic contacts with
a new Bantustan.
Standing by apartheid in glorious isolation,
only the U.S. abstains.
1976 South Korea
General Park Chung Hee describes his rule
as a "benevolent dictatorship" based on adoration of
his people with "love about love. "
Criticism of the tender Apostle of Love
is punishable by 15 years in prison. College students who skip
classes without authorization are subject to execution. For violating
Park's decrees hundreds of dissidents have been imprisoned or
executed, including an ex-president, a Roman Catholic bishop,
the nation's top poet, and the last candidate who dared oppose
Park in an election- Kim Dae Jung-kidnapped by the Korean C.I.A.
from a Tokyo hotel.
Amnesty International reports on a young
South Korean prisoner who appears in court missing his ears and
eyelids and with his fingers burned together.
President Ford and Defense Secretary Schlesinger
declare their intent to use nuclear weapons to defend South Korea.
Congress doubles military aid to the Park
Meeting with Augusto Pinochet Henry Kissinger
assures the dictator that, "In the United States . . . we
are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here. " On
his way back from a visit to Chile, U.S. Treasury Secretary William
Simon praises the General for having restored "economic freedom."
President Ford believes that bringing
Pinochet to power was "in the best interests of the countries
involved. " When Congress tries to reduce aid to his junta,
he approves a $9.2 million arms sale to the Chilean air force.
In gratitude, Chile sends the Esmeralda-a ship used for burnings,
electric shock treatments and sexual assaults-to the U.S. bicentennial
The House Intelligence committee reports
that efforts to subvert democracy make up "the largest covert
action category" of the C.I.A.. In Italy alone the Agency
spent $65 million blocking Communist electoral success between
1945 and 1965. The committee finds that the C.I.A. "has been
utterly responsive to the instructions of the President and the
assistant to the President for national security affairs. "
In the Senate, the Church Committee reports
that the F.B.I.'s COINTELPRO was a 'sophisticated vigilante operation"
directed at those the Bureau considered "threats to the existing
political and social order. " Infiltrating legal social change
organizations, the F.B.I. conducted wiretaps, maintained secret
files, instigated violent conflict, planted bombs, and carried
out kidnappings, beatings, robberies, and assassinations, including
the murder of nineteen Black Panthers.
The Congressional investigators conclude:
"We cannot dismiss what we have found as isolated acts which
were limited in time and confined to a few willful men. The failures
to obey the law and . . . the Constitution have occurred repeatedly
throughout administrations of 60th political parties going back
four decades. "
Following these revelations, President
Ford grants intelligence agencies broad new authority to carry
out political surveillance, harassment and disruption.
Congress declines to sponsor remedial
l976 Shah of Iran
Appearing on U.S. television, the Shah
of Iran discloses that his secret police "check up on"
Iranians living in the United States.
In the past four years the Shah has been
the U.S.'s best arms customer, purchasing more than $10 billion
in lethal technology, including air-to-air missiles, smart bombs,
and aerial tankers -"everything but the atomic bomb,"
according to a State Department official.
Amnesty International reports that the
Shah maintains a 20,000-man secret police apparatus, has abolished
all of Iran's civilian courts, holds 100,000 political opponents
in jail, and is currently presiding over the highest number of
official executions in the world, a rate characterized by Amnesty
International as "beyond belief"
Enthroned atop an ocean of oil, the staunchly
anti-communist Shah is a greatly admired leader of the Free World.
1977 Carter / Human Rights
President Carter promises that foreign
policy under his administration will promote "the basic right
of every human to be free of poverty, hunger, disease, and political
In his budget requests he maintains spending
levels for General Park in Korea, the Shah of Iran, the Brazilian
Generals, Ferdinand Marcos, and the dictatorships of Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Zaire.
A member of the American delegation to
the U.N. Human Rights Commission expresses his 'profoundest regrets"
for the C.I.A.'s role in General Pinochet's bloodbath. President
Carter scolds him, lecturing that the C.I.A.'s actions were "not
illegal or improper."
Affecting pious concern for human dignity,
Carter turns his attention to human rights victims in the Soviet
bloc, who have no embarrassing ties to Washington.
The London Sunday Times reveals that the
torture of Arabs implicates 'all of Israel's security forces"
and is so 'systematic that it cannot 6e dismissed as a handful
of 'rogue cops' exceeding orders. "
Israel denies the charges but refuses
to rebut, diverting discussion to side issues. It attacks Israeli
lawyers defending Arab victims.
Writing in the New Republic, Seth Kaplan
rises to the defense of Israeli torture, arguing that the issue
of how a government treats its people "is not susceptible
to simple absolutism, such as the outright condemnation of torture.
One may have to use extreme measures-call them 'torture' to deal
with a terrorist movement whose steady tactic is the taking of
Every state in the world using torture
on an administrative basis claims it is fighting a terrorist movement.
The walls are mirror, the chairs velvet,
the floors marble, the rugs Persian. The service is Ceralene Limoges
china, the glasses Baccarat crystal. The food is caviar, kebabs,
and ice cream aflame with cherry sauce, washed down with 25,000
bottles of the Shah's vintage Bordeaux. The music is Verdi, Chopin,
Bernstein, Sandjari, and Matesky, performed by live orchestra.
The occasion is the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.
The place is the Niyavaran Palace. The guest of honor is President
Jimmy Carter. Following the breathtaking meal, he delivers the
after dinner speech.
Praising "the great leadership of
the Shah, " he proclaims Iran 'an island of stability"
in a "troubled" region of the world. He declares this
a great tribute "to you Your Majesty, " and to "the
respect and the admiration and love" which the Iranian people
feel for their benevolent monarch. With thousands of political
prisoners suffering Nazi torture techniques in Iranian jails,
Carter declares that, "The cause of human rights is one that
also is shared deeply by our people and 6y the leaders of our
two nations. "
He concludes on a note of utter devotion:
"There is no leader with whom I have a deeper sense of personal
friendship and gratitude. "
A beaming Shah leaps to his feet in applause,
grasping Carter's right hand in both of his.
In the morning on the way to the airport,
the mutual admirers fail to notice thousands of young Iranians
pelting the army with rocks along the side streets.
Nationwide riots break out.
Opposition leader Benigno Aquino languishes
in jail. The Constitution, written by Marcos himself, stipulates
that he will remain president no matter how the vote turns out
and will retain absolute veto power over actions of the assembly,
a body he is entitled to dissolve at whim.
Six weeks in advance, the U.S. Embassy
reports to Washington that an "overwhelming majority"
for Marcos is "virtually certain.
On election day 200,000 paid Marcos supporters
are flown in from outlying provinces to cast their votes for "America's
boy." Voters arriving at the polls minutes after they open
find the ballot boxes already stuffed with the one million fake
ballots Marcos has printed up for the occasion.
The Carter Administration calls the elections
"a step toward eventual restoration of representative government"
and approves 3 separate aid packages, including $17 million in
bullets, 51 armored vehicles, and patrol boats.
A senior American oil official is shot,
expatriate workers are called home, oil production slows to a
near standstill, gangs of protesters roam the streets.
Iran's miserable subjects, fed up with
hunger, squalid huts, 13-hour workdays, and the ravages of untreated
disease, rock the capital with furious protests. The Shah nearly
slips off his oily throne.
Attempting to quell the growing turbulence,
troops machinegun a crowd in Jaleh Square, killing and wounding
hundreds. In Washington, President Carter expresses his approval
to the Shah's son: "We're thankful for this move toward democracy.
We know it is opposed 6y some who don't like democratic principles
but his progressive administration is very valuable, I think,
to the entire Western world."
The Shah's ambassadors query Washington
on its appetite for terror. "Would you accept five thousand
deaths? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand?"
An offshoot of his terrorist Irgun offered
to help the Nazis against the British in World War II. One of
his first acts as Israeli Prime Minister was to issue a postage
stamp honoring Abraham Stern, whose group made the proposal.
In his autobiography he speaks proudly
of blowing up the King David Hotel and massacring the villagers
of Deir Yassin.
Elected on a platform calling for the
annexation of the West Bank and the East Bank of the Jordan River,
his peace cabinet is a Jewish military junta that includes five
Generals. They maintain cozy relations with apartheid South Africa,
General Pinochet, and Nicaragua's Somoza.
He regards the Occupied Territories as
"liberated," and refuses to call them anything other
than Judea and Samaria," Biblical names for Jehovah's gift
to the Jews. He uses West Bank and Gaza Arabs as Israel's coolie
class, referring to them as "the Arabs of Eretz Israel."
Corralling them into Bantustans, he promises them full autonomy,
which he describes mystically as self-rule for people, but not
for the land on which they live.
A fraction of the Palestinian people (under
one-third of the whole) is promised a fraction of its rights (not
including the national right to self-determination and statehood)
in a fraction of its homeland (less than one-fifth of the area
of the whole); and this promise is to be fulfilled several years
from now, through a step-by-step process in which Israel is to
exercise a decisive veto power over any agreement. Beyond that,
the vast majority of Palestinians is condemned to permanent loss
of its Palestinian national identity, to permanent exile and statelessness,
to permanent separation from one another and from Palestine- to
a life without national hope or meaning."
U.S. Navy veteran Harry Coppola returns to Japan
Before leaving, he tells the crowd: "Harry
Truman is in hell . . . he should not have dropped the bomb on
Japan .... He didn't drop it on military targets, he dropped it
right in the middle of two cities, with women and children."
He departs with a long, loud, standing
ovation ringing in his ears.
Greatest Story Never Told