I find it fascinating to watch the rightwing, conservative mindset unfold in response to what is occurring in Portland because it reminds me so much of the same rightwing, conservative mindset with respect to Chile in the 1970s.
In 1970, the Chilean people elected an extreme radical to be their president. His name was Salvador Allende. He wasn’t a member of Black Lives Matter or Antifa, but in the eyes of the U.S. national-security establishment and others within the U.S. rightwing, conservative movement, he was a far more dangerous radical than BLM or Antifa. That’s because Allende was a communist and a socialist. In the eyes of the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and the rightwing, conservative movement, there is no one more dangerous than that.
After all, don’t forget about the vast worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow that U.S. officials steadfastly maintained was threatening to take over the United States and the rest of the world during the entire Cold War. No matter how radical those BLM people might be — and the Antifa people as well — no one is saying that they are part of a vast worldwide conspiracy to conquer the U.S. and the world.
And don’t forget — when Allende was elected president in 1970, Cuba was still in communist hands. Just imagine: a spearhead of the communist conspiracy was only 90 miles away from American shores! How scary is that!
Also, don’t forget that the U.S. civil rights movement, which could be considered a predecessor to the BLM movement, was considered to be a Fifth Column for the communist conspiracy to take over the United States. That’s why the FBI was spying on Martin Luther King and blackmailing him into committing suicide (and maybe even orchestrating his assassination, just as the CIA was doing with other suspected communist sympathizers).
Also, don’t forget that the communists had succeeded in electing a communist president in Guatemala some 20 years before Allende’s election. The CIA had succeeded in thwarting that election by initiating a military coup that brought a brutal right-wing, conservative military general into power, who immediately began establishing “law and order” in the country,
To protect U.S. “national security,” the U.S. national-security establishment knew that it had to oust Allende from power but it didn’t want to do with it a military invasion. After trying bribery of the Chilean congress, which didn’t work, it chose a coup as a way to achieve its end.
But U.S. officials also knew that they had to establish a condition of economic crisis and chaos to get people acclimated to the idea of a coup and even eager for it. That way, the Chilean national-security establishment could be viewed as “saving” Chile from the radicals and establishing “law and order” in the country.
Of course, Allende didn’t help matters with his socialist programs and policies. Naturally, those policies generated all sorts of economic crises and chaos. But they weren’t enough to get the military to take over. In fact, notwithstanding the crises and chaos being generated by Allende’s policies, the overall commanding of Chile’s armed forces, Gen. René Schneider, opposed the U.S. idea of a coup. His position was that Allende had been elected president by the Chilean people and that a coup would violate the Chilean constitution.
The U.S. national-security establishment dealt with Schneider’s opposition to a coup by orchestrating his violent kidnapping, during which he was assassinated. That eliminated Schneider as an obstacle to the coup.
Then, CIA agents began doing everything they could to amplify and expand the economic crises and chaos within the country. As U.S. President Richard Nixon, who authorized the ouster of Allende, told the CIA, “Make the economy scream!”
That’s precisely what the CIA did. One of its more noteworthy achievements was to orchestrate a national truckers’ strike, with the aim of preventing food from reaching the Chilean people.
The CIA’s campaign worked. By the time the Chilean national-security branch of the government went on the attack against the executive branch of the government, many Chileans were ready for a coup to “save” the country.
The military general who took charge of Chile was Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was — and still is — extolled by the American conservative movement and, for that matter, by many conservative leaning libertarians. In their eyes, Pinochet saved Chile from the “radicals” — that is, from people who were considered much more radical than the people in Black Lives Matter or even those in Antifa.
Once he took power, Pinochet immediately began establishing “law and order,” much to the delight of conservatives both in Chile and here in the United States. When I see those unidentified federal gendarmes in unidentified cars grabbing protestors and demonstrators off the streets of Portland and whisking them away without charges, I can’t help but think of Pinochet because that is what he and his goons did to socialists, communists, and other extreme radicals in Chile.
To cleanse Chile of these radical elements that supposedly constituted a grave threat to “national security” both in Chile and the United States, Pinochet resorted to such measures as incarceration without trial and torture — yes, just like the U.S. national security establishment has done with its torture and prison camp in Cuba. Pinochet and his goons also resorted to rapes, sexual abuse, disappearances, or executions of their imprisoned radicals, much like the U.S. national-security establishment did to people in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They also established reeducation centers to teach the socialists and communists the virtues of “patriotism” and “nationalism.”
Given Trump’s love of generals, it is a virtual certainly that he holds Pinochet in high esteem, just as U.S. conservatives and many conservative-leaning libertarians do. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Trump is using the CIA-Pinochet playbook by sending federal agents into American cities with the aim of fomenting a violent reaction by demonstrators and protestors, all with the aim of providing Trump and his paramilitary goons with the opportunity of being perceived as establishing “law and order” and protecting America from “radicals” and “anarchists” who supposedly constitute a threat to “national security.”
And make no mistake about it: Even though Trump is so far relying on his paramilitary forces within the Border Patrol and Homeland Security, his national-security establishment stands in reserve, ready to loyally follow orders to “save” America from the socialists, communists, radicals, protestors, and demonstrators, just like in Chile 45 years ago.