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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Dark Time in U.S. History, March 31, 2006
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This review is from: The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (Paperback)
After September 11th 2001 the big question on the mind of American's was, `Why do they hate us?' Although the bloody military coup of Gen. Augusto Pinochet was over 30 years ago (ironically September 11th 1973) the lessons and ramifications still resound today. The main villain of the story is Nixon National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger but more so it's the belief that a purity of ideology trumps all other foreign relations concerns. Kissinger is quoted as saying "We [the United States] set the limits of diversity" and in Chile allowing a democratically elected Socialist to remain in power was unacceptable. The author writes, "This would be the first record of an American president [Nixon] ordering the overthrow of a democratically elected government".

I am no fan of neo-conservativism but one aspect of the movement I can appreciate is the desire to merge foreign policy with morality. Whether this has actually occurred is a debate for another book. Kissinger took such an amoral approach to foreign policy with his `realpolitik' that it's no wonder so many people around the world despise the United States. The United States did everything it could, including imposing economic sanctions using the World Bank, financing propaganda and fostering discontent among the military in order to bring down popularly elected president Salvador Allende. The goal was to wreck the economy and create conditions for a right wing takeover. So desperate to destroy Allende were Kissinger and Nixon that the CIA formed a working relationship with Patria y Libertad, a self-proclaimed neo-fascist paramilitary group that engaged in acts of terrorism including bombings who modeled themselves after Hitler's Brownshirts. After the violent coup that cost the lives of thousands of Chileans the U.S. government supported the brutally repressive Pinochet regime by reopening the spigot of foreign money and even selling military hardware while Pinochet's supporters rounded up and executed leftists. Chile wasn't just supported by the U.S. it was favored to the point where it was receiving 80% of all Title I Food for Peace in Latin America and $30 million from AID in housing guarantees compared to $4 million for the rest of Central and South America. Chile became the fifth largest customer of U.S. military weaponry falling just behind Iran.

There were at least as many people in government against what the United States was doing as for and the Republican leadership felt compelled to deliver endless and blatant lies to Congress in order to cover up their actions. This was a nasty, filthy piece of work that did incredible damage to the credibility of the United States and its place as a moral guidepost for emerging countries. So now Chile has come full circle with the election of Socialist Veronica Michelle Bachelet Jeria to the presidency. Venezuelian president Hugo Chavez has already learned that the United States still intends to set the limits of diversity with a U.S. backed coup attempt in 2002.

This is such an important book and if more American's were aware of history we might be less inclined to automatically blame others and spend more time correcting our own moral failings. When American's remain ignorant they become confused by the anger and resentment of others particularly in South America and the Middle East because people in those regions remember American actions quite well. This is not a blame America book but it is a look at actions that no American should be proud of. Chile is but one example of an amoral U.S. foreign policy and the more American's become aware the more we can improve in the future.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 16, 2008 9:23:07 AM PDT
Jen Mcc says:
This is a very important book and this review is wonderfully written. "We the poeple" may do well to read such books and keep ourselves informed of the realities and fallouts of "Realpolitick." Thank you for your review and when I finish the book, I will deliver a review as well.

Posted on May 13, 2010 8:50:27 PM PDT
Fred Mrozek says:
"I am no fan of neo-conservativism but one aspect of the movement I can appreciate is the desire to merge foreign policy with morality."

Say what? Neoconservatives are more likely to be represent the rejection of morality than any attempt to merge morality with politics. See this link:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5010.htm

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2010 5:48:04 AM PDT
That's why in my next sentence I write, "Whether this has actually occurred is a debate for another book." I maintain that the neoconsrvatives TALK of morality thus the focus on liberation in Iraq and freedom in the Soviet Union but I would agree that the morality angle in generally a facade.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2014 11:41:03 AM PST
Dagradix says:
Greg Grandin does treat this subject in his book, "Empire's Workshop." There he focusses primarily on the work of Reagan advisor and conservative intellectual, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who (along with neoconservatives like Eliot Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld, or Jesse Helms, for example) sought to restore the moral purpose and imperative of America's foreign policy in the malaise of the "Vietnam Syndrome". Grandin only devotes a chapter to it, but there are copious endnotes. It's worth a look if you're interested.Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (American Empire Project)
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