Last December, I asked a very simple question: Would the U.S. national-security state permit self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders to serve as president and, if so, would they permit him to finish out his term? Now that it looks like Sanders is going to give Hillary Clinton a run for her money, the question becomes even more relevant.
Let’s face it: There isn’t any difference between the socialist economic philosophy of Bernie Sanders and that of Chilean president Salvador Allende. They might have disagreed on particular programs or on the priority of projects, but they would definitely be on the same page with respect to the overall principles of socialism and socialist philosophy.
Yet, Allende’s socialism was one of the principal reasons the U.S. national-security state removed him from office and replaced him with conservative dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. U.S. officials considered Allende’s socialist policies to be a threat to U.S. national security.
Moreover, the fact that Allende had been democratically elected by the people of Chile in a legitimate election was also seen as a grave threat to U.S. national security. After all, Allende hadn’t acquired power like Fidel Castro, who also was considered a threat to U.S. national security. Allende had run for office and won. Imagine if that model — the spread of socialism through the ballot — were to spread across Latin America and ultimately into the United States.
Now, it’s true that Allende is also sometimes described as a communist but it’s really a distinction without a difference. It was Allende’s socialist economic policies, which were plunging Chile into economic chaos and crisis (and intentionally aggravated by the CIA in order to pave the way to a coup), that are cited today to justify the coup. “If Pinochet and the military had not stepped in and removed Allende from power, Chile would have been lost to socialism and communism,” is the popular refrain among the rightwing both here in the United States and in Chile.
In the Chilean coup, the U.S. president, conservative Richard Nixon, and the U.S. national-security establishment were on the same page with respect to the threat to U.S. national security posed by Allende. So, when President Nixon ordered the U.S. military and the CIA to effect a regime-change operation in Chile, they were more than eager to oblige. They were as convinced as Nixon was that Allende posed a grave threat to U.S. national security.
That’s why the CIA even orchestrated the kidnapping of the head of the Chilean Armed Forces, Gen. Rene Schneider, knowing full well that he would likely be murdered during the kidnapping. Schneider was refusing to go along with the U.S. government’s plans for coup owing to his oath as a military officer to support and defend the constitution of Chile, which didn’t provide for a domestic regime-change operation to save the country from a duly elected president. Since Schneider was standing in the way of the coup, he was considered a threat to U.S. national security and, therefore, was targeted with a violent kidnapping attempt in which he was murdered.
There is an interesting question that Americans have never felt comfortable asking themselves ever since they converted the federal government into a national-security state after World War II: What would happen if a duly elected president himself ever becomes a threat to national security, just as Allende supposedly did in Chile? What if his policies are taking the country down to economic catastrophe and even foreign takeover? What then? Do Americans simply wait until the next election, knowing that there might not even be another election?
One option, which is provided in the Constitution, would be to impeach him. But what if there are insufficient votes in Congress to impeach him, as occurred with Allende? What then?
As much as people might not want to think about such a scenario, there is virtually no doubt that the Pentagon and the CIA would step in and remove the president from office in order to protect national security and save the country. They would view it as their solemn responsibility. And there is also no doubt that they would garner the support of most conservatives in the country. “The Constitution is not a suicide pact,” they would scream! “The military and the CIA have saved us, and it’s only going to be a temporary transition to democracy, just like it was in Chile.”
After all, that’s what happened in Chile, with the full support of the U.S. national-security establishment and the American right wing. While the U.S. government orchestrated the coup because Allende was a threat to U.S. national security, that’s not why the Chilean national-security establishment ousted Allende. Chilean national-security state officials ousted him because they concluded that he was a threat to Chilean national security.
And it was the U.S. national-security state that was telling them to do that. At the School of the Americas, the Pentagon was telling Chilean military officials that they had a solemn duty to protect their nation’s national security and to save their own country from socialism and communism.
Never mind that the Chilean constitution didn’t provide for such a thing. Never mind that a new presidential election would be held in a few years. That didn’t matter. What mattered was that the Chilean national-security establishment was charged with the job of protecting national security, including from a president whose policies posed a threat to national security.
Two days ago, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called for an increase in military spending to enable the U.S. national-security state to oppose an ever-growing array of enemies and rivals around the world. Russia, China, Assad, drug lords, terrorists. The list is endless. Never mind that all these “threats” have been produced by the national-security state itself, what matters is that if the military doesn’t get more money, national security will be threatened.
Now, suppose Sanders were to take office and decide to move America in a different direction. Suppose he secretly reached out to Vladimir Putin and said, “Let’s put aside our differences and work together for more peaceful, harmonious world.” Suppose he announced that the United States would no longer be part of NATO and, therefore, would no longer engage in actions designed to provoke Russia, including military alliances with Eastern European countries. Suppose he ordered all troops in Korea and the Middle East home and ordered their discharge. Suppose he decided to put a stop to the national-security state’s assassination program and regime-change operations. In fact, suppose he decided to war against the entire U.S. national-security establishment and its vision for more perpetual militarism, interventionism and imperialism for America.
Don’t forget, after all, that that’s what happened to President Kennedy after he took office. Coming into office as a pretty much a standard Cold Warrior, by the time he was assassinated he had gone to war against both the Pentagon and the CIA and was determined to move America in a totally different direction from that planned by the national-security establishment.
After the CIA’s Bay of Pig’s disaster, Kennedy vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds. That was because he figured out that the CIA had set him up and double-crossed him with respect to its invasion of Cuba. Later, Kennedy turned against the military, after it had proposed a first-strike nuclear war of aggression against the Soviet Union, proposed Operation Northwoods, which entailed fraudulent terrorist strikes to justify an attack on Cuba, and recommended an attack on Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which would have resulted in all-out nuclear war.
When Kennedy delivered his famous Peace Speech at American University in June 1963, calling for an end to the Cold War, he didn’t even advise the Pentagon and the CIA he was delivering it. The speech was a slap in the face of the national-security establishment (and the American right wing), who believed that any accommodation with the communists was akin to surrender.
Kennedy also entered into a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets, over the vehement objections of the military and the CIA. He began a total withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, thereby exposing America to the risk of falling dominoes. Worst of all, just prior to his assassination he reached out to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro in secret negotiations that totally circumvented the Pentagon and the CIA.
In fact, that’s one of the things that American conservatives cite today as a justification for ousting Allende from power — that he was reaching to the Soviets in an attempt to establish friendly relations, just like Kennedy was.
Kennedy himself was well aware of the dangers of a regime-change operation being applied to him. He knew that he was taking on extremely powerful and dangerous enemies. That’s why he asked that the novel Seven Days in May be made into a movie — to serve as a warning to the American people of the danger that the national-security state poses to America’s democratic system, just as the national security establishment in Chile posed a danger to Chile’s democratic system less than 10 years later. Kennedy’s warning echoed that of his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower who told Americans in his Farewell Address about the danger that the military industrial complex, a new way of life for America, posed to America’s liberties and democratic processes.
Did the national-security establishment remove Kennedy from office, just as it removed Allende from office a decade later? The mountain of circumstantial evidence, most of which was kept secret from the American people for decades (and much of which is still being kept secret), certainly points in that direction. See FFF’s three books on the JFK assassination: The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger (which is #13 today on Amazon’s list of best-selling ebooks on 20th-century American history more than a year after it was published), JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, and Regime Change: The JFK Assassination by Jacob Hornberger (which contains an extensive list of additional books and online articles, with links, that I recommend). Also see the following books: The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass; Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK by Douglas P Horne; Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace by Peter Janney; and Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by David S. Lifton.
Is it likely that Sanders will achieve the same breakthrough that Kennedy and Eisenhower experienced once in office. Maybe not. After all, look at President Obama — he turned out to be a more fervent exponent of the national-security state and its policy of perpetual war, foreign interventionism, assassination, militarism, and imperialism than his predecessor George W. Bush.
Yet, consider this paragraph from The Nation, which has endorsed Sanders:
An opponent of the Iraq War from the start, he criticizes the notion of “regime change” and the presumption that America alone must police the world. He rejects a new Cold War with Russia. He supports the nuclear-weapons agreement with Iran, and he would devote new energy to dismantling nuclear arsenals and pursuing nonproliferation. He has long been an advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba and for reviving a good-neighbor policy in the hemisphere.
Sounds like a lot of Kennedy’s foreign policy views in that paragraph!
People who are voting for Sanders might want to remember the words of Henry Kissinger, who was National Security Adviser. Justifying the regime change operation in Chile, Kissinger stated: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” That’s precisely how the Pentagon and the CIA felt too.
Maybe we’d all be better off if the national-security establishment would tell us in advance what the acceptable parameters are with respect to Sander’s socialist economic policies and foreign-policy views. That could spare everyone a lot of time, expense and trouble, not to mention the chaos and crisis associated with another national-security regime-change operation.