from the book

The CIAs Greatest Hits

by Mark Zepezauer


Some people justify the CIA's crimes by saying that we faced a brutal and ruthless enemy in the Cold War, and winning was of paramount importance. The problem with that argument is that no one could have been more brutal and ruthless than the allies we embraced. There's no clearer illustration of this than Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation in the world.

From 1945 to 1965, Sukarno was president of Indonesia. A star among Third World leaders, active in the nonaligned, anti-imperialist movement, he'd long been a thorn in the side of the US. Worse yet, the Communist party was part of his governing coalition. The CIA had backed a failed uprising against him (in 1958), had tried to assassinate him and had even attempted to embarrass him by making a porno film starring a Sukarno look-alike!

In 1965, they finally scored. The Indonesian military, trained and backed by the US, provoked a leftist coup against its leader, General Suharto. When the coup failed, the military used it as an excuse to depose Sukarno and replace him with Suharto. (According to diplomatic documents, the coup was a setup to justify the military takeover. )

What followed (as depicted in the film The Year of Living Dangerously) is almost beyond belief. In just a few weeks, between five hundred thousand and a million Indonesians were put to death, many in a grisly fashion. (But don't worry-the Suharto regime assures us they were all Communists.) It was later learned that the death squads had been working from hit lists provided by the US State Department (the usual cover for CIA agents).

The 1965 massacre was only the beginning for Indonesia's new military regime. In 1975, its army invaded the tiny nation of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony which has the bad luck to own significant oil reserves.

Since then, between a quarter and a third of East Timor's inhabitants, from all ethnic and religious groups, have been slaughtered by the Indonesian military, with arms largely supplied and paid for by the US.

On a per-capita basis, East Timor is the greatest genocide since the Holocaust. Combined with the 1965 killings and other Indonesian atrocities, it puts Suharto in the first rank of twentieth century mass murderers, right up there with Hitler, Stalin, the Turks who massacred the Armenians in 1915 and the generals who run Guatemala.

CIAs Greatest Hits

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