History, Volunteers

Henry Kissinger: War Criminal

kissingerKissinger’s Legacy

(National Security Adviser 1969-1975, U.S. Secretary of State 1973-1975)

When I read in depth about Henry Kissinger, it became clear that the United States isn’t as democratic as we claim that it is. The world’s watchdog, United States’s Henry Kissinger led a collusion to overthrow Chile’s government, funded opposition to its democratically elected president, and imposed U.S. supported terrorism on Chile.

The United States claims to be this great republican democracy. But when Chile, an important economic partner, elects a socialist, the United States takes on the responsibility to show Chile the superior political system, tyranny. Largely ignoring Chile’s politics and sovereignty, Kissinger threw away Chile’s political process and chased after U.S. economic interests.

His acts violated the U.S.’s principles of democracy and also uses this mentality that the United States knows what is best for Chile. It ignored the society, economics, and politics of a foreign country in favor of U.S.’s interests. Not only that but he also disrespected the U.S. political process.

Salvador Allende, a socialist who worked toward the interests of the working class, was elected by the Chilean population in 1970.

Kissinger feared the likely success of the elected socialist Allende leading to the loss of dependence from Chile’s copper mines on American entities. Without publicly declaring war, Kissinger sought to dismantle Allende’s presidency during friendly relations between the U.S. and Chile.

Responding with protecting the United States, his plan was tied to the fear of U.S. security being threatened.

The U.S. government wanted to prevent the “domino effect” of Chile’s big, “nasty” socialism, causing other Latin American countries following suit. The U.S. found that socialism threatened American liberties and capitalism, and feared the loss of Latin American countries as economic partners. But the having civil responsibilities and representing ideas of the public aren’t mutually exclusive.

Elected by the population and running a socialist campaign, Allende was referred to as democratic socialist. During his leadership, economic and political decisions were based on public need and collective ownership. He transferred power from private businesses to the state and had the state take over agricultural entities; thereby preventing the development of private property rights and private businesses.

Upon the election of Allende, CIA director Richard Helms met with Kissinger and Nixon to stop Allende from taking up Chile’s presidency. These government officials colluded in Virginia to  kidnap and assassinate Allende. They planned to subvert Allende’s regime.

The executive branch conspired against Allende’s regime without the knowledge of Congress. The Congress, elected by the people, is there to represent the people’s interests and enforce checks and balances. The United States, a so called republican democracy, didn’t even meet the minimum requirements of representing the public’s interests.

Kissinger, Helms, and Nixon sought assistance from Chilean General Rene Schneider to enlist Chile’s military to control Allende’s election. But Schneider didn’t want the military to be involved. A firm holder of Chile’s constitution, Schneider opposed the U.S. planned coup. He wanted to uphold Chile’s democratic process. Kissinger then decided that General Schneider should be taken out too.

Later, Kissinger convinced General Roberto Viaux, a military leader connected to the neo-fascist political party Patria y Libertad, to help the U.S. government get rid of General Schneider. The U.S. government supplied machine guns and tear gas to Viaux to execute the coup.

Imagine that. The United States supplied the opposition of another nation’s elected president with weapons, to take out Allende.

Under Kissinger’s authority, the CIA funded two attempts to kidnap General Schneider. Viaux successfully headed the kidnapping and eventual murdered General Schneider in October 1970. The Chilean police called the kidnapping and death of Schneider a “straightforward  murder,” according to Christopher.

The CIA also funded anti-Allende institutions opposing Allende. It found that the CIA had provided $8 million to armed forces which opposed Allende’s government, to weaken Allende’s leadership.  It included $350,000 in bribes of Chile’s Congress.

In his first year of office, Allende enacted socialist policies. He nationalized businesses, including the copper corporations. This act meant that the state owned these mining businesses. Therefore, the preceding owners didn’t profit from them. The state took over agricultural land that was run, before, by landowners.  Short term, his policies slowed down inflation in Chile and improved employment among Chilean people.

Long term, however, his measures failed. Chile’s government nationalized copper corporations, despite relying on foreign investments. The nationalization of industries caused foreign investors to lose faith in investing in Chile and to stop investing there. He also printed out unapproved currency to erase the fiscal deficit, causing the currency to lose value.

Turmoil and discontent rose among the upper and middle classes.

Social unrest and the failure of the economy, combined with the U.S. government supported armed forces destabilizing Allende’s government, created the perfect storm for a coup.  

Regardless, the CIA was informed well in advance of the intention to usurp Allende, passing the information on to President Nixon a day before the coup was to take place. Lack of action from the Nixon administration demonstrated its involvement.

On September 11, 1973, the national police and armed forces used  tanks, troops, and fighter jets to attack Allende’s palace. The forces intimidated his supporters into surrender. Then the fighter jets blasted rockets at the palace.

Allende survived the attack. But he committed suicide with a an AK-47 gifted by Fidel Castro. He shot himself under the chin.

In summary, all of these events amounted to U.S. “state-supported terrorism.”

Let all of that sink in. Running a socialist platform, Allende was democratically elected. Kissinger feared Chile’s success with socialism and its pervasion throughout Latin America.

Using Kissinger’s foreign policy, the United States government violated the democracy of Chile. Conspiring and taking action to overthrow a democratically elected leader of a foreign country disregards the public interest of the American people.

Through gift money, and bribes to political groups and global media sources that opposed Allende, Kissinger and the U.S. directly influenced and strengthened opposition to Allende. Moreover, funding of Allende’s opposition directly infringed upon Chile’s sovereignty.

When the Nixon administration came to know about the plan for the coup, Kissinger didn’t warn Allende’s office. Their silence was deafening.

As Americans, we take pride in our democracy and acceptance of many political ideals. Kissinger’s foreign policy in Chile, however, infringed upon these American ideals.  His disrespect of the U.S. Constitution and disregard for Chile’s foreign democracy warrants that he should be held accountable. Lack of recognition of his human rights and political violations means that the United States isn’t willing to recognize its mistakes and isn’t consistent with democracy. Democracy is for the people, by the people. Kissinger’s actions were neither. We must hold him accountable for his actions.

Works Cited

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Salvador Allende.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Salvador-Allende

Hitchens, Christopher. “The Case Against Henry Kissinger.” The Case Against Henry Kissinger Part One by Christopher Hitchens, www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Kissinger/CaseAgainst1_Hitchens.html.

“Allende Dies in Coup.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/allende-dies

Needleman, Ruth. “CIA Role in Chile Exposed.” Central Intelligence Agency

 

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History

Our Brief History and Background

The majority of this piece was written for the San Jose Peace & Justice Center’s 50th Anniversary in 2007. The last few paragraphs were added to update the piece to represent 10 years later in our 60th Anniversary.

The Peace Center was founded in 1957 by individuals profoundly concerned about peace and justice issues, especially the growth of nuclear arsenals and atmospheric nuclear testing. The Peace Times newsletter  began publication in the 1950s and has been published consistently since then.

With the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the expansion of the war in Southeast Asia, the Peace Center spearheaded local efforts to end the war in Vietnam. With seminars, flyers, TV appearances, and op-ed pieces in the newspaper, ads in newspapers, vigils in downtown San Jose and protests at recruitment centers, Peace Center volunteers mobilized public opinion against the war.

A major component of the anti-war work in that era  was draft counseling, which was offered at local schools and colleges and at the Peace Center on a regular basis every week. The San Jose Peace Center was also instrumental in assisting peace center start-ups in other communities, such as Berkeley, Modesto, and Santa Cruz.

Before and after the Vietnam war, the Peace Center made nuclear disarmament and the training in nonviolence its primary concerns, with many Peace Center members taking part in protests at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and at the Nevada nuclear test site. Activists were also involved in the Civil Rights Movement, support work for Native American struggles and support for the Farmworkers Movement. Anti-militarism and environmental concerns converged in the struggle against rocket maker United Technologies, a producer of ozone-depleting rocket motors which was burning waste solid rocket fuels in burn pits. Protesters had he goal of converting the facility to nontoxic, non-military production and succeeded in shutting down several of the burn pits. International issues such as apartheid in South Africa and the U.S. wars in Central America were also a focus.

Meeting first in a living room, next in a basement, then a second-story room, for several years in a rented office at 235 North First St.and then in an office at Grace Baptist Church, the Peace Center was finally able to buy the house at 48 S. 7th St. in 1985  On August 5, 1990, The Peace Poles, donated by the City of San Jose, were installed in front of the Collins House to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and the Peace Center’s dedication to ending war.  The house on 7th St. is named after peace activists George “Shorty” Collins and his wife Evelyn, who were among the founding members of the Peace Center.

In 2007, the Center served as an umbrella group and a meeting space for a number of peace and justice groups, and putting an emphasis on ending the war in Iraq and preventing an attack on Iran, the Peace Center continued its efforts to educate and engage the South Bay community around critical issues of peace and justice.

Throughout its 50-year history, the Peace Center has been a consistent voice for alternatives to the ever-increasing violence and militarism in this country and the world. We look forward to continuing that work as long as it is necessary. Please join us in this vital effort.

On our 60th Anniversary, we continue to serve as a resource for progressive activism in the South Bay.We seek to contribute toward building a just and sustainable society in which the gross and obscene concentration of corporate power and personal wealth is overcome by the achievement of basic economic rights for all.

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