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Let's just look at Allende since you've emphasized him. Whatever his bonafides may be, and I find many reasons to support him (not least of which is that he was elected by Chilean voters in well-conducted, transparent election), he was openly proud, as were the majority of Chilean voters who elected him, of the support he received from Cuba and the Soviet Union. It was part of Allende's new foreign policy that included a state visit from Fidel Castro himself.

There was no need for paranoia by the CIA, because Allende's foreign policy and domestic policy already publicly announced socialism and supporting policies of land confiscations and redistribution of anything over 80 hectares and similar initiatives, and he came to power in a a election on making a hard shift toward socialism and affinity toward Cuba and the USSR, not hiding it all.

The reason the CIA got involved in overthrowing Allende had nothing to do with falsely making Allende out to be an extreme socialist leader of a potentially new wave of anti-US governments in Latin America. Allende was openly exactly that kind of leader and had openly campaigned on that platform, similar to the leaders of Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia today. That's why such evidence does not support an argument that US intelligence agencies do not know how to do effective counterintelligence work.

Similarly with Trump today, he actively campaigned and won an election where he argued for supporting Russia in Ukraine and Syria instead of opposing, and his affinity with Russia has been public knowledge. The only additional information intelligence agencies have brought to bear is that Russia has expended effort to influence the election, on his behalf.

Whether Trump knew this and coordinated with Russia on this or not is immaterial, as is whether Russia could extort him to control like a low-level agent or not. What we do know from all that has been publicly acknowledged so far is that the Russians helped put Trump in the White House, so that must serve their interests.

This means, getting back to the argument of Luis's post, that we cannot use historical interpretations of national interests to explain what the US is doing anymore. We must include Russian interests in that analysis, and while supporting the EU and its development has always been an explicit part of US foreign, economic, and security policy since WWII, the fact that it has always been contrary to Russian interests have much more to do with the US putting anti-EU diplomat as its envoy, not historical US interests.

by santiago on Tue Feb 21st, 2017 at 08:38:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason the CIA got involved in overthrowing Allende had nothing to do with falsely making Allende out to be an extreme socialist leader
Except we know it had everything to do with that, because, again, the Church Committee helpfully declassified a lot of the internal goings-on. We know that they libeled Allende as plotting a coup, and we know that he wasn't - or at least US intelligence had no evidence or even indication that he was.

Similarly with Trump today, the allegations are not that he has a sensible Russia policy (which he pretended to have, although of course that evaporated as soon as he left the campaign trail). The allegations are that he is a Russian agent, and that the Russian state is actively colluding with him to illegitimately intervene in US elections.

What we do know from all that has been publicly acknowledged so far is that the Russians helped put Trump in the White House,
That is an exaggeration bordering on libel. Russia sponsors some English-language outlets for dissidents, most of whom are pretty crackpot. When the US does that to other people, it's called promoting democracy and a pluralist media landscape (and lord knows the US could use both, though I'm not convinced that the Kremlin is the best place to go learn about them). Everything beyond that is conjecture and claims of the same apparent veracity as the blood libels against Allende.

Trump, of course, is no Allende, so it's not laughably idiotic the way the smears against Allende were. But US intelligence has enough of a history of smearing Russia that merely passing the giggle test just isn't enough. Boy who cries wolf and all that.

This means, getting back to the argument of Luis's post, that we cannot use historical interpretations of national interests to explain what the US is doing anymore. We must include Russian interests in that analysis,
Except, of course, that Trump did a 180 on all of his sensible Russia and Syria policy as soon as he no longer needed to beat the Democrats over the head with the utter, blithering idiocy that was Candidate Clinton's Syria and Russia policies. He's gone right back to a very, very conventional American position on these matters since the coronation. The most parsimonious explanation that fits all the facts is that his campaign did a little polling and figured out that the rysskräck wasn't playing well with their target demographics, and that's really all there is to it. Now, maybe there's an elaborate conspiracy involved that only the brave patriots at the CIA have been able to penetrate, and which they can't prove because it would compromise their highly placed sources in the GRU. Maybe.

Or maybe the mirrorshade brigade is as full of shit as they usually are, and using the excuse of state secrets to avoid having to cop to not having done their homework. As usually turns out to be the case on those occasions where the public gets to read long courtesy of a subpoena or a whistleblower.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2017 at 10:05:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia sponsors some English-language outlets for dissidents, most of whom are pretty crackpot. When the US does that to other people, it's called promoting democracy and a pluralist media landscape (and lord knows the US could use both, though I'm not convinced that the Kremlin is the best place to go learn about them). Everything beyond that is conjecture and claims of the same apparent veracity as the blood libels against Allende.

Yes. That is the whole point. When the US does, in fact, fund democracy activities that benefit selected sides in political contests like elections, we know whose interests can no longer be separated from the interests of the United States. It does not matter at all whether such activities were even helpful or competent in any way. Just the fact that US made a serious effort to help one side in an election is enough to prove the connected interests of the beneficiary of US help and the US cannot be ignored.

For that reason alone, even if Russian help for Trump was ultimately amateurish, just the fact that they they sided with Trump and actively intervened in the election on his behalf, and whose isolationist policy changes across the board help Russia first and foremost, are enough evidence to conclude that Russian and US interests cannot be easily separated as long as Trump is president.

by santiago on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 04:48:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or maybe Russia just hates Clinton, and would seek to harm her even if she'd been running against a certified paranoia case like McCain. It's not as though they don't have plenty of reasons to have a personal grudge against the Clinton clan.

Or just generally destabilize the US, on the theory that anything that falls out of the chaos is going to be preferable to the previous trajectory. That's usually a stupid theory, but spies seem to like it. It's certainly one that the US mirrorshade brigade has subscribed to often enough.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 09:22:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Family friends happened to escape the coup because the wife had an exhibition in Venezuela. They subsequently emigrated to the USA and became citizens. My wife went and stood with them as they took the oath. There were a few things they didn't quite understand about the USA. When they were registering to vote they asked where the Communist Party was. She had to explain that there was no sizeable Communist Party. I suppose they might have registered in the Peace and Freedom Party. It may have still been around back then, ('80s), but she suggested registering for the Democratic Party. Later I described the McCarthy era and the Hollywood Black List.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 07:24:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether Trump knew this and coordinated with Russia on this or not is immaterial, as is whether Russia could extort him to control like a low-level agent or not.

I can't parse this. You say it doesn't matter if the US president's policies are in the interest of another country ( and every change in policy creates winners and losers so that is true of all presidents all the time ) or if the president is outright remote controlled by another government. Is that your position?
So what about Reagan who won the presidency partly because Iran delayed the resolution of the hostage crisis? Does the same apply here? Can US behavior no longer be understood without including Iranian interests? What about Nixon and South Vietnam?

by generic on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 08:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your examples are a lot worse, because they were done in secret and had nothing to do with what they were campaigning on. Trump's Russia policy, like it or not, was exactly what he was claiming in his campaign, and is exactly what the Electoral College (i.e., the "American People") voted for.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 08:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which makes this all the more puzzling. What is supposed to be so new and exciting that Russia's alleged role in the election?
by generic on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 09:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But context is important here. One of the problems with Allende, IMO, is that 'Communist', in the US vernacular of the time and really to this day, to some extent, meant 'Leninist' - people who did not believe in 'the will of the people' and who, once in power, never considered not using force to remain. Once they are in they have to be overthrown. Very few US citizens had much idea of what French or Italian Communists Parties were about, but they certainly were not seizing power and never relinquishing it. And in the USA being a Communist meant being blacklisted, etc. Perhaps one could get a job for Harry Bridges - if they were good at their job.

As best as I can tell, Allende never intended and was never in the position to usurp constitutional power by force and maintain his grip on power for life - though that was how he was portrayed and perceived by most US citizens. Chile had the oldest functioning representative democracy in South America and Allende won his election by getting the most votes. Chile's military, on the other hand, held attitudes that would have been quite appropriate in Franco's Spain. More than anything, Allende was naive, and that is what led to his death and the death of much of Chile's intellectual elite, of whom my friends had been two.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2017 at 04:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have some personal experience with this, given my own connections with present day Ecuador, where the current government is pretty much exactly like Allende's and following the same policies that Allende ran on and briefly started implementing after being elected president, including land confiscations of any farms over 80 hectares in size (which is not really a very big, oligarch-sized farm at all).

The subsequent, 21st century success in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela of equally radical, socialist policy objectives to confiscate property, eliminate freedom of the press, and through constitutional changes cement institutions systems in place through which which ruling socialist parties retain extreme advantages in winning re-elections through control of courts, legislatures, election commissions, and even the media, were also all publicly part of Allende's vision for Chile decades earlier.

The fact that such policy objectives through non-violent, majoritarian politics were all eventually successfully implemented in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador a few decades later, explicitly following Allende's model and learning from his mistakes, shows that the threat perceived by people of moderate or higher wealth in Chile at the  time was perfectly rational.

Without excusing the horrendous, criminal mistake that Pinochet turned out to be, if you were at least moderately wealthy at the time in Chile, you had a very good reason to be asking the US Embassy for help in getting rid of the mobs of goons with the power of the state who were taking away your life's savings and work, as happened to many people in Chile after Allende was elected.

Likewise, for those of us who have farms of that size in Ecuador, Bolivia, or Venezuela today, it makes perfect sense, moral or not, to want overthrow the "21st Century Socialism" governments by any means necessary as our property gets confiscated and our advocates are jailed for speaking out against government corruption and things like that. Or, for those of us living in the US today, we have an equally rational reason, regardless of morality or legitimacy, to want to overthrow Trump's fascist administration before anything worse happens. Many people in Chile felt the same back then about Allende, and with perfectly good reason.

by santiago on Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 10:30:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that it is rational for you and others with similar sized possessions to object, but, surely, it is just as rational for those with nothing to object to the preexisting situation. It is not like it was ever ordained by God, even if there was long great pretense that this was so. So some solution is required.

Land reform is popular in Latin America because it is practical for the people. 80 hectares is not a tiny farm. It is about 200 acres. The problem is that a lot of people, freshly given such a plot of land, would not immediately be able to make productive use of it. That would cause a drop in agricultural productivity in the country which would hurt everyone. And there will always be economies of scale for some types of agricultural endeavors.

The problem with a gradual approach is that it would likely be overturned before it bore fruit by the large land owners who would naturally be opposed. That is a recipe for bloodshed. It would seem that an alternative should be found - one superior to a repeat of the events of '72 except with a different set of victims.

It is quite reasonable to consider land as something that is a public common good and that the right to exclusive use should be a privilege obtained at a cost. That cost, in the form of a tax, could finance a gradual approach that included education and training before being able to undertake running your own farm, which, after all, would then also be paying the same tax, perhaps phased in over five or ten years. And, with good education, many more opportunities should open for young adults in non-agricultural occupations. But such a probaram would also be opposed by the beneficiaries of the existing system.

The great sin in Chile was the slaughter of such a large portion of the intelligentsia of the country in the stadium. The chief US interest served by that action was the protection of profit flows to US corporations and to a tiny number of very wealthy individuals who profited from the existing situation. Those mid-sized land owners should be preserved and/or indemnified.

The types of regimes Allende had and that Equator, Bolivia and Venezuela have do not pose a threat to any US interest other than the economic interests of a few wealthy individuals and the maintenance of the appearance that There Is No Alternative to the current world order. That might be more justifiable were the existing world order functioning a bit more effectively and better serving the interests of all, not just those who can afford to gather in Davos or attend a Bilderberg event. But it manifestly is not.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 04:48:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no real disagreement with you on any of your points about land reform here.  However, on this issue of US interests it is important to note the different geopolitical contexts between the 1970's when Allende was elected and the 2000's when the 21st Century Socialism wave occurred in Latin America.

In the 1970's the US was weaker politically, in still in a real contest for power over the world it conquered in WWII, due to certain rebellious Communist powers armed with nuclear weapons. A wave of anti-US, democratically elected governments throughout Latin America of the kind that occurred in the mid-2000's would have been very precarious for a US that was still struggling for supremacy with the USSR at the peak of its power.

By 2005, the US was supreme again in the world by any objective measure, with its own military expenditures being more at the time then those of the entire rest of the world combined, while still being a very low percentage of total US GDP historically and compared to other countries. There was no threat from communism, so if some Latin American countries wanted to experiment with it on their own, so be it, was the US foreign policy at the time.  President Obama would subsequently make statements to that effect when criticized why he wasn't more harsh with people like Hugo Chavez. But this was not the world in 1970 for a US seeing communism on a winning streak everywhere.

 

by santiago on Fri Feb 24th, 2017 at 05:04:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eliminate freedom of the press.
snicker

Because of course having five families own all the local language TV stations and newspapers is the very definition of a free press...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 09:26:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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