Noam Chomsky Correspondent
On October 14, the lead story in the New York Times reported a study by the CIA that reviews major terrorist operations run by the White House around the world, in an effort to determine the factors that led to their success or failure, finally concluding that unfortunately successes were rare so that some rethinking of policy is in order.
The article went on to quote Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to carry out such inquiries to find cases of “financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.”
So he has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.
There were no cries of outrage, no indignation, nothing.
The conclusion seems quite clear.
In Western political culture, it is taken to be entirely natural and appropriate that the leader of the Free World should be a terrorist rogue state and should openly proclaim its eminence in such crimes.
And it is only natural and appropriate that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and liberal constitutional lawyer who holds the reins of power should be concerned only with how to carry out such actions more efficaciously.
A closer look establishes these conclusions quite firmly.
The article opens by citing US operations “from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba.” Let us add a little of what is omitted.
In Angola, the US joined South Africa in providing the crucial support for Jonas Savimbi’s terrorist UNITA army, and continued to do so after Savimbi had been roundly defeated in a carefully monitored free election and even after South Africa had withdrawn support from this “monster whose lust for power had brought appalling misery to his people,” in the words of British Ambassador to Angola Marrack Goulding, seconded by the CIA station chief in neighbouring Kinshasa who warned that “it wasn’t a good idea” to support the monster “because of the extent of Savimbi’s crimes. He was terribly brutal.”
Despite extensive and murderous US-backed terrorist operations in Angola, Cuban forces drove South African aggressors out of the country, compelled them to leave illegally occupied Namibia, and opened the way for the Angolan election in which, after his defeat, Savimbi “dismissed entirely the views of nearly 800 foreign election observers here that the balloting . . . was generally free and fair” (New York Times), and continued the terrorist war with US support.
Cuban achievements in the liberation of Africa and ending of apartheid were hailed by Nelson Mandela when he was finally released from prison.
Among his first acts was to declare that “During all my years in prison, Cuba was an inspiration and Fidel Castro a tower of strength . . . (Cuban victories) destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor (and) inspired the fighting masses of South Africa . . . a turning point for the liberation of our continent — and of my people — from the scourge of apartheid . . . What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?”
The terrorist commander Henry Kissinger, in contrast, was “apoplectic” over the insubordination of the “pipsqueak” Castro who should be “smash(ed),” as reported by William Leogrande and Peter Kornbluh in their book Back Channel to Cuba, relying on recently declassified documents.
Turning to Nicaragua, we need not tarry on Reagan’s terrorist war, which continued well after the International Court of Justice ordered Washington to cease its “illegal use of force” — that is, international terrorism — and pay substantial reparations, and after a resolution of the UN Security Council that called on all states (meaning the US) to observe international law — vetoed by Washington.
In a few weeks we will be commemorating the Grand Finale of Washington’s terrorist wars in Latin America: the murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, by an elite terrorist unit of the Salvadoran army, the Atlacatl Battalion, armed and trained by Washington, acting on the explicit orders of the High Command, and with a long record of massacres of the usual victims.
In Cuba, Washington’s terror operations were launched in full fury by President Kennedy to punish Cubans for defeating the US-run Bay of Pigs invasion.
The phrase “terrors of the earth” is quoted from Kennedy associate and historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his quasi-official biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility for conducting the terrorist war.
The terrorist war launched by the Kennedy brothers was no small affair. It involved 400 Americans, 2,000 Cubans, a private navy of fast boats, and a $50 million annual budget, run in part by a Miami CIA station functioning in violation of the Neutrality Act and, presumably, the law banning CIA operations in the United States. Operations included bombing of hotels and industrial installations, sinking of fishing boats, poisoning of crops and livestock, contamination of sugar exports, etc. Some of these operations were not specifically authorised by the CIA but carried out by the terrorist forces it funded and supported, a distinction without a difference in the case of official enemies.
The Mongoose terrorist operations were run by General Edward Lansdale, who had ample experience in US-run terrorist operations in the Philippines and Vietnam.
His timetable for Operation Mongoose called for “open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime” in October 1962, which, for “final success will require decisive US military intervention” after terrorism and subversion had laid the basis.
There has been some notice of one rather minor part of the terror war, the many attempts to assassinate Castro, generally dismissed as childish CIA shenanigans.
Apart from that, none of what happened has elicited much interest or commentary.
The first serious English-language inquiry into the impact on Cubans was published in 2010 by Canadian researcher Keith Bolender, in his Voices From The Other Side: An Oral History Of Terrorism Against Cuba, a very valuable study largely ignored.
The three examples highlighted in the New York Times report of US terrorism are only the tip of the iceberg.
Nevertheless, it is useful to have this prominent acknowledgment of Washington’s dedication to murderous and destructive terror operations and of the insignificance of all of this to the political class, which accepts it as normal and proper that the US should be a terrorist superpower, immune to law and civilized norms.
Oddly, the world may not agree. An international poll released a year ago by the Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA) found that the United States is ranked far in the lead as “the biggest threat to world peace today,” far ahead of second-place Pakistan (doubtless inflated by the Indian vote), with no one else even close.
Fortunately, Americans were spared this insignificant information. — ICH.