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December 22, 2016
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December 12, 2011
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July 1, 1985
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Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706570006-4 i i h~N; YORK TI~~ES li(10K REVIEW 1 July 1985 Brin in On Pinoche g g THE LAST TWO YEARS OF SALVADOR ALLENDE By Nathaniel Davis. 480 pp. I thaca, N. Y. Cornell University Press. :24.95. By Tad Szulc N his poignant and illuminating tale of the events surrounding the military coup in Chile and the death of the elected Marxist President, Nathaniel Davis describes the entire Chilean drama as a "morality play" in which "the United States assumed a central role." A career Foreign Service officer with a firm sense of morality, Mr. Davis was United States Am- bassador in Santiago from October 1971 to Novem- ber 1973. He draws from this experience judgments that are as penetrating as they are profoundly dis- turbing about the continuing American policies to- ward small countries that incur Washington's idea logical displeasure. The great importance and timeliness of Mr. Davis': ' `The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende" (the same years Mr. Davis was in Chile) lies not in any major revelations -.there are very few -but in what it tells philosophically and politically about the tendency of United States administrations of both major parties to intervene in the affairs of Latin American nations. For that matter, Amer- ican interventions are not confined to this hemi- sphere, and two years after his assignment to Chile Mr. Davis resigned as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs because he opposed the Ford Ad- ministration's plans for American covert opera- tions in Angola (his prestige, however, was enough to assure him immediately afterward the ambassa- dorship to Switzerland before his retirement). His book therefore is very relevant to the Reagan Ad- ministration's overt and covert operations designed to oust the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua -and to the changing justifications given for these endeav- ors. As in the case of Chile, the United States Gov- ernment does not acknowledge that its efforts are intended to overthrow the Government in Nicara- wa, and Mr. Davis provides a superb study of the theory and practice of covert interventions. To be sure, open United States interventions in Latin America after World War II did occur in Cuba (the Bay of Pigs in 1961), the Dominican Republic (1985), and Grenada (1983), but the interventionist enterprise in Chile was carried out indirectly and with relative sophistication. All these interventions were designed to stem the possible rise of Communism in this hemisphere -and in the eyes of Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger, the democratic election of Salvador Allende to the Chilean presi- dency in 1970 represented a Communist threat. Mr. Davis emphasizes that a National Security Decision Memorandum, issued by Mr. Kissinger on the Presidettt's behalf a month after Allende took of- fice, "established a policy of applying unacknowl- edged pressure on Allende': government to prevent its consolidation and to limit its ability to imple- mentpolicies contrary to U.S. interests and those of our friends." In_total secrecy, Mr. Nixon had also authorized a plan (the so-called Track II) for a coup d'~tat to prevent Allende': inauguration as Presi- dent, and it remains unclear whether these instruc- tions were ever canceled. In any event, Mr. Davis writes that he learned of Track II only in 1975, when a Senate committee investigated the Chileanopera- tions oJ' the Central Intelligence Agency. What appears to matter to Mr. Davis the most - and I imagine it should matter to ail Americans -'is the moral aspect of United States policies. He refutes very credibly the charges that the Amer- ican Government had ~ actually "masterminded" the 1973 soup, yet he instantly notes the existence of a debate over "U.S. moral complicity in Allende': murder." He writes that the impact of the coup and Allende': suicide (Mr. Davis explains in enormous detail why he believes. it was a suicide though in other instances he uses the word "murder" for the Allende death) was "searing," certainly to him; it is here that the former Ambassador assigns the "central role" to the United States in the Chilean "morality play." Mr. Davis chooses not to answer his own ques- tion about the American "moral complicity," but the clear conclusion emerging from his book Is that, if nothing else, the Nixon Administration had led the Chilean military to assume that a coup against Allende was desirable and therefore the United States. it~vitably shares the blame (or the credit) for it. His.~arrative shows how Washington had ap- plied intepse economic pressures to bring Allende down, and?rhere seems to be no doubt that the United States had helped create a political climate conducive to a coup even though - as Mr. Davis re- peatedlypoints out -Allende was guilty of colossal economic, political and ideological mismanage- ment. In fact, Mr. Davis presents a great deal of evidence that Allende would have been overthrown sooner or later because of his own policies, his vacil- lations, and the disarray he had allowed to develop Inside his Government. TILL, the crucial point remains that j+-mer- ican hands in Chile were not clean - Mr. Davis reports that the C.I.A. spent at least i6 million on covert operations during Al- lende': three yhars in power -and that the United States helped kill an experiment in alternatives tol rightist or leftist totalitariani'sms in the third world. Allende': concept was the "Chilean Way" to social-' ism -through elections and not revolution. This was the first time in history that a Marxist regime was elected, and Mr. Davis deplores Allende': tol- eration of the often foolish behavior of his leftist allies, which ultimately led to his defeat and death. "All this matters," Mr. Davi's writes, "because C~1V Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706570006-4 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706570006-4 z it is important that hopes of social transformation through democracy and law be kept alive if possi- ble, across the spectrum of the left. The Chilean Way was the highest expression we have yet seen of central-core Marxists trying to follow the peaceful road to socialism." Fifteen years after Allende was thus elected to travel this road, the Chilean experience is obviously crucial as the United States seeks rational solutions in Central America and beyond. Mr. Davis advo- cafes realism in dealing with the world around us when he comments [hat "Socialism may not be the best or even a good way to order a society's affairs, ~ but the ability of tree citizens to choose socialism, or capitalism, or some other economic system, is bevond Drice." ~ Tad Ssulc, author of "The Illusion of Peace" aad other books on foreign affairs, is working on a biography of Fidel Castro. Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/12 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706570006-4