Thursday, June 25, 2009

American Imperialism and Friedman's Clean Slate

"The theories of Milton Friedman gave him the Nobel Prize,
they gave Chile General Pinochet."
- Eduardo Galeano

The United States proved their imperialism when it came to Brazil and Indonesia. As both countries began to nationalize and cut international business profits the US decided to call them communists to justify taking out their governments. In reference to preparations for the 1964 coup in Brazil Lyndon Johnson was recorded saying "I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do." Weapons and funding were sent to the rebels through the CIA and according to the National Security Archive a naval task force was dispatched to "intimidate Goulart's backers and be in position to intervene militarily if fighting became protracted."Where President Goulart had been a strong backer of labor unions and welfare programs his replacement General Humberto Castello Branco immediately banned all unions and any criticism of the new government, as well as opening Brazil wide for foreign investors - following a plan designed by graduates of the University of Chicago. In the beginning Branco created a pretense of democracy by allowing limited press and limited freedom of assembly. However by the late '60s the countrey's poverty was so severe that groups began to blame the junta's Chicago School business plan and General Branco altered his methods: all democracy and civil liberties were abolished, torture and killing by the state became everyday occurrences. Indonesia's President Sukarno made enemies of the Western world by redistributing wealth, protecting their economy and banning the IMF and World Bank from the country, claiming that they were puppets of Western multinationals - which they were. Sukarno, a nationalist, worked closely with the Communist Party, consequently the US decided to remove him from office. One declassified document gave the CIA directions to "liquidate President Sukarno depending on the situation and available opportunities."The 'available opportunity' came in 1965 when CIA backed General Suharto began to seize power by eradicating a list of 5,000 leftists compiled by the CIA. The CIA would not be happy until the entire "shooting list" had been eliminated, effectively destroying any leftist support. Suharto's better known massacre was carried out by an army of religious students that he armed with clubs, knives and guns and directed them to purge the countryside of communists. In little more than a month nearly 1,000,000 people were murdered, the river ran red and river travel became impossible due to overwhelming congestion of mutilated bodies.

The Indonesian coup was especially exciting for those plotting Allende's fall from power. Most interesting was not Suharto's brutality but the role played by Indonesian economists trained in Western economics at UC Berkley - known as the Berkley Mafia. While Suharto crossed names off of his shooting list the Berkley Mafia outlined his new economic plan. Just as in Brazil the Ford Foundation not only paid the way for the Berkley Mafia to study in America but paid for Berkley professors to help setup the economic department at the University of Indonesia. Ford funded students worked on campuses to raise unrest against Sukarno and the Berkley Mafia worked alongside Suharto training him in economic policies - giving him a detailed blueprint for his new economic strategy. Suharto was such a big fan of their work that he gave members of the Berkley Mafia every financial post in his cabinet.Not as radical as the Chicago Boys the Berkley Mafia was none the less huge supporters of international investors, passing laws that allowed multinationals to completely own Indonesia's natural resources. In only 24 months the countries rich deposits of copper, rubber, hardwood, nickel, and oil were controlled completely by the world's largest mining corporations - all owned by the West.

Allende's enemies compared the two coups and recognized that while Indonesians spirit was broken the Brazilian people continued to fight General Branco several years later. It occurred to them that Suharto's immense brutality had so cowed his people that they had put up little resistance, where Branco's pretenses of democracy had backfired against him. Furthermore they recognized that the relationship between Suharto and the Berkley Mafia had not only demolished nationalism but split the borders wide open for international privatization of Indonesia's natural resources. Recognizing a good idea when they saw one they modeled their plans after their Indonesian predecessors.

Within months of Allende's election the Chicago Boys began their preparations for the coming coup. Chilean businessmen formed a secret group, funded of course by our own CIA, and began planning the actions they would take once the government was overthrown. The two groups began to meet weekly and create proposals for how to transform their country along neo-conservative lines. While the military planned the destruction of Allende's support system the economists planned the destruction of his nationalist ideals. With the help of the CIA they created a 500 page guide, known as 'The Brick', for the junta taking them step by step from the earliest stages through their attainment of power. 80% of the creators of The Brick were University of Chicago alumni.When the coup finally came it was a three pronged attack. The first was the overthrow of the heads of state, second the Friedmanite economists readily stepping in to positions of power, and lastly an overwhelmingly brutal show of force breaking the back of any opposition - a plan that you will see repeated over and over again in the coming weeks, and which was mirrored in the US occupation of Iraq. This three stage attack systematically destroyed everything that had been built up in Brazil and replaced it with a Chicago School structured system, creating a clean slate for Friedman's theories to be tested in.

Ironically enough, on September 11th, 1973 (Karma much?) General Pinochet declared a one-sided war on Allende and the Chilean government, unleashing tanks and fighter jets on government buildings. From the get go Pinochet had full control of every branch of the military as well as the police force, leaving Allende with nothing. Allende and his 36 supporters held their last stand on the roof of the Presidential Palace, attempting to hold the Chilean military off, as two dozen rockets were launched to reduce the building to rubble. The Chilean people were leveled by this violence due to their 160 years of peaceful democratic rule: the President was dead, the Presidential Palace destroyed, and Orlando Letelier was ambushed by a dozen soldiers and taken into custody.In the years leading up to the coup United States operatives had convinced the Chilean military that their country was infested with Russian communist spies and persuaded them to turn against their own people. With Allende dead and the surviving government officials shipped to labor camps General Pinochet recognized that his job was only half done. In the days to follow 13,500 people were taken from their homes and off the streets and transported to large holding centers, including two football stadiums. Hooded militiamen picked people at random and took them to makeshift torture and execution chambers. Their bodies were dumped in canals and on the sides of main roads with messages tied around their necks warning that this was an example of what resistance would bring.

To spread Pinochet's terror far and wide he formed his cruelest underlings into a "Caravan of Death" that would tour the countryside by helicopter publicly executing lines of high profile targets. In all, more than 3,200 people were kidnapped or murdered, more than 80,000 were imprisoned and tortured and 200,000 refugees fled the country. As if Pinochet's brutal regime change was not horrific enough it pales in comparison to the death and suffering that resulted from Milton Friedman's economic policy changes - the underlying cause of Allende's annihilation.


Dawson said...

This is not the first time I've been surprised to see no comments on one of your posts. It seems to me that this post in particular deserves some serious response.

As per usual the clear logical structure of your writing, the cadence and depth of your language and the profoundly important and mind blowing content of your post is enough to turn any man over to your way of thinking.

I don't know what the wellspring you draw your ideas and information from is, but each time you post something so historically incredible I take the time to read up on the subject in different areas of the internet... and each time the result is the same.

You are absolutely right, the timeline that you lay out is incredible, the facts that you assert are easily verifiable and the conclusions that you draw are unquestioningly logical and accurate. The only question I am really left asking is, "How is it that I am only NOW hearing about these major events in the history of the world?"

Ultimately, thank you for the time and effort you expend bringing these vital points from out of the dark mists of the past and into the light of the public eye.