You see that pattern repeating itself in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Everywhere. The same was true in Vietnam, in Cuba, in Guatemala, in Greece. That's always the worry -- the threat of a good example.
Kissinger also said, again speaking about Chile, "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."
As the Economist put it, we should make sure that policy is insulated from politics. If people are irresponsible, they should just be cut out of the system.
In recent years, Chile's economic growth rate has been heralded in the press.
Chile's economy isn't doing badly, but it's based almost entirely on exports --fruit, copper and so on -- and thus is very vulnerable to world markets.
There was a really funny pair of stories yesterday. The New York Times had one about how everyone in Chile is so happy and satisfied with the political system that nobody's paying much attention to the upcoming election.
But the London Financial Times (which is the world's most influential business paper, and hardly radical) took exactly the opposite tack. They cited polls that showed that 75% of the population was very "disgruntled" with the political system (which allows no options).
There is indeed apathy about the election, but that's a reflection of the breakdown of Chile's social structure. Chile was a very vibrant, lively, democratic society for many, many years -- into the early 1970s. Then, through a reign of fascist terror, it was essentially depoliticized. The breakdown of social relations is pretty striking. People work alone, and just try to fend for themselves. The retreat into individualism and personal gain is the basis for the political apathy.
Nathaniel Nash wrote the Times' Chile story. He said that many Chileans have painful memories of Salvador Allende's fiery speeches, which led to the coup in which thousands of people were killed [including Allende]. Notice that they don't have painful memories of the torture, of the fascist terror -- just of Allende's speeches as a popular candidate.
Would you talk a little about the notion of unworthy vs. worthy victims?
[NY Newsday columnist and former New York Times reporter] Sidney Schanberg wrote an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe in which he blasted Senator Kerry of Massachusetts for being two-faced because Kerry refused to concede that the Vietnamese have not been entirely forthcoming about American POWs. Nobody, according to Schanberg, is willing to tell the truth about this.
He says the government ought to finally have the honesty to say that it left Indochina without accounting for all the Americans. Of course, it wouldn't occur to him to suggest that the government should be honest enough to say that we killed a couple of million people and destroyed three countries and left them in total wreckage and have been strangling them ever since.
It's particularly striking that this is Sidney Schanberg, a person of utter depravity. He's regarded as the great conscience of the press because of his courage in exposing the crimes of our official enemies -- namely, Pol Pot [leader of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge rebel army]. He also happened to be the main US reporter in Phnom Penh [Cambodia's capital] in 1973. This was at the peak of the US bombardment of inner Cambodia, when hundreds of thousands of people (according to the best estimates) were being killed and the society was being wiped out.
Nobody knows very much about the bombing campaign and its effects because people like Sidney Schanberg refused to cover it. It wouldn't have been hard for him to cover it. He wouldn't have to go trekking off into the jungle -- he could walk across the street from his fancy hotel in Phnom Penh and talk to any of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who'd been driven from the countryside into the city.
I went through all of his reporting -- it's reviewed in detail in Manufacturing Consent, my book with Edward Herman [currently editor of Lies of Our Times]. You'll find a few scattered sentences here and there about the bombing, but not a single interview with the refugees.
There is one American atrocity he did report (for about three days); The Killing Fields, the movie that's based on his story, opens by describing it. What's the one report? American planes hit the wrong village -- a government village.
That's an atrocity; that he covered. How about when they hit the right village? We don't care about that.
Incidentally, the United States' own record with POWs has been atrocious --not only in Vietnam, where it was monstrous, but in Korea, where it was even worse. And after WW II, we kept POWs illegally under confinement, as did the British.
World War II POWs
Other Losses, a Canadian book, alleges it was official US policy to withhold food from German prisoners in World War II. Many of them supposedly starved to death.
That's James Bacque's book. There's been a lot of controversy about the details, and I'm not sure what the facts of the matter are. On the other hand, there are things about which there's no controversy. Ed Herman and I wrote about them back in the late 1970s.
Basically, the Americans ran what were called "re-education camps" for German POWs (the name was ultimately changed to something equally Orwellian). These camps were hailed as a tremendous example of our humanitarianism, because we were teaching the prisoners democratic ways (in other words, we were indoctrinating them into accepting our beliefs).
The prisoners were treated very brutally, starved, etc. Since these camps were in gross violation of international conventions, they were kept secret. We were afraid that the Germans might retaliate and treat American prisoners the same way.
Furthermore, the camps continued after the war; I forget for how long, but I think the US kept German POWs until mid-1946. They were used for forced labor, beaten and killed. It was even worse in England. They kept their German POWs until mid-1948. It was all totally illegal.
Finally, there was public reaction in Britain. The person who started it off was Peggy Duff, a marvelous woman who died a couple of years ago. She was later one of the leading figures in the CND [the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] and the international peace movement during the 1960s and 1970s, but she started off her career with a protest against the treatment of German POWs.
Incidentally, why only German POWs? What about the Italians? Germany's a very efficient country, so they've published volumes of documents on what happened to their POWs. But Italy's sort of laid back, so there was no research on their POWs. We don't know anything about them, although they were surely treated much worse.
When I was a kid, there was a POW camp right next to my high school. There were conflicts among the students over the issue of taunting the prisoners. The students couldn't physically attack the prisoners, because they were behind a barrier, but they threw things at them and taunted them. There were a group of us who thought this was horrifying and objected to it, but there weren't many.