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December 22, 2016
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July 7, 2010
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September 17, 1983
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flT /, T Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/07: CIA-RDP90-00552R000201400003-3 STAT ARTICLE AP EARED BOSTON GLOBE ON PAGE --.15 17 September 1983 US not the 'mastermind of Chile's coup- JEFFREY DAVIDOW WASHINGTON - The clash of police and protesters on the streets of Santiago has be- come a recurring event. The turmoil. and vio- lence stimulates a kalaidescope of nightmar- ish memories of the coup which toppled the Al- lende regime. With America's gaze already-fo- cused southward, Chile's continuing problems and the 10th anniversary of-the overthrow of Allende this. week provoked a considerable amount of commentary and editorializing about-the perceived responsibility of the Unit- ed _States for the coup of 1973.- The complicity of the US government 1n the coup has entered the American political psyche as an accepted fact. It forms the basis for .the popular film "Missing," and insinu- ates-itself into much of the current debate about?US policy in Central America. But the assumption of American responsibility for the Chilean coup is misplaced and promotes a dis tortion of reality which benefits neither this' country nor Chile. The facts about American involvement in Chile,were well documented by investigators led by Sen. Frank Church. The record shows - that after Allende won a slight plurality over two other candidates in the 1970 presidential election, the White House went bonkers. Presi- dent Nixon, fearful of a "second Cuba," whipped the CIA into frenetic activity designed to prevent the Chilean Congress from validat- ing the election results. Nixon failed. Allende was inaugurated, promising the Chilean peo- plea peaceful path to socialism. In Washing- ton, Chile was placed on a back burner, but not.forgotten.. For the next three years the -United States covertly financed opposition political parties and newspapers and manifested a policy of - generalized financial and commercial hostility towards the Allende regime. At the same time, the United States offered Allende the possibil- ity of better relations. if he would drop his in- sistence on. nationalizing American compan- ies without compensation. US policy was de- signed to pressure Allende and to preserve a democratic political option for the presidential elections scheduled for 1976. The ethics and wisdom.of the policy can, and should, be de- bated. But the debate should recognize that what the US Government did or did not. do was. peripheral to the struggle taking place.: among the Chilean people themselves. Domestic opposition intensified through 1972 and 1973 as large segments of Chilean society became fed up with Allende's broken promises to protect the country's democratic traditions. Chile's system of governmental checks and balances was destroyed as Allende disregarded court orders and congressional dictates. Illegal takeovers of farms, factories, and businesses rampaged, instigated by the most radical elements of the governing coali- tion. Finally., when convinced of the futility-of finding a political solution and alarmed by-the growing public violence and government- sponsored dissension within their own ranks, the military intervened. As the Church Com- mittee found, the military conspirators nei- ther sought nor received American assistance in the coup.. The events of Sept. i 1.-.11.973 buried Chilean democracy, but it had been dy ing for several years Suspicion of ;American complicity in the coup was immediate. Congressional investiga- tors had already overturned the rock under which ITT's unaccepted offer to the CIA to f1= nance anti-Allende activities had been hiding. More importantly, the Chilean coup caught us. at a painful point in our history. The stench of political and moral corruption hung over Washington. Vice President Agnew resigned shortly after the coup and Nixon, of course, followed. Unlike Chile, the American system. proved stronger than its leaders, but the odor of decay lingered. adding our suspected in- -volvement in the coup as another noisome ele- ment. The resulting self-flagellation was consis- tent with the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam perversion of,the myth of American omnipo- tence which .had once powered the Cold War. Our self-image changed from knight in shin- ing armor to accomplice of the Prince of Dark- ness, but the essential conceit ? remained: American involvement is the crucial determi- nant In the unfolding of every political drama. ' Does It really make any difference if we as- :sumeresponsibility for a coup that was not of our making? Why make a fuss? Quite apart_ from reinforcing a sentimental attachment to I the truth, an understanding -of what ` hap- pened in Chile would serve our, interests by . reminding us that we are neither-as malevo - lent as we sometimes fear .nor as powerful as we' often foolishly believe. G~ravci~ Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/07: CIA-RDP90-00552R000201400003-3 Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/07: CIA-RDP90-00552R000201400003-3 2. Chile would also profit from a dispassionate review of the events which led to Allende's de- mise. One way or another Chile will get an- other opportunity to construct a democratic society. If that effort is not based upon a frank recognition of the domestic weaknesses which destroyed the fabric of democracy from 1970 to 1973, the stage will be set for another failure and for the return to more dictatorial rule. Jeffrey Davidow, a State Department of cer, was a fellow at Harvard's Center for in- ternational Affairs in 1982-1983. The views expressed are his own. Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/07: CIA-RDP90-00552R000201400003-3