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Introductory Overview

The writing presented here is first, a summary, and next an evaluation of a chapter from a scholarly text that assesses the evidence of the deplorable behavior of the United States and its practices and policies of foreign relations exposing the United States executive branch’s inherent attitude of disregard toward human rights.As an instrument toward this assessment, the intensely investigated event of Chile’s government overthrow on September 11, 1973 is presented as a case study in extensive detail. The author states that, as to clarify the true track record of the United States and its actual concerns regarding human rights abroad, this “chapter will examine [the United State’s] respect for procedural and normative restraints against arbitrary governmental interference in people’s lives [abroad] and in the exercise of their rightful decision-making authority” (196).Summarily, this writing is a revelation of the genuine “hostility to human rights” of primarily the executive branch of the United States government where its actual concerns, conflicting with “professed values” and with behavior of “staggering immorality,” are mainly that of the interests of U.S. lead multinational corporations.Initially, the text addresses recent increasing awareness of a long history of human rights abuses by the United States discrediting a generally perceived idea of “an [unusually high] degree to which human rights are practiced within [American] society and honored in [the United States] external relations with other countries” (196). Additionally, defined are ideal aspects of human rights including its principle dimensions of “self-determination” of a nation and of “nonintervention by one state in another state’s domestic affairs” (197). Continuing in the first section is a lengthy discussion that details the events leading to the controversial death of the president of Chile, Salvador Allende Gossens, from just before Allende’s credible and democratic election to office, October 24, 1970, to the violent overthrow of the Allende government by the CIA supported Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, September 11, 1973.The second section of the chapter is a survey of the United State’s behavior toward Chile analyzing the U.S. government’s public assertion of “professed values” which conflicted greatly with its actions revealing the United State’s much more true “implicit value.” The third and concluding section of the chapter is a reflective perspective via the Global Humanist approach; the author emphatically confronts the fact that “United States policy (in Chile) directly violated fundamental human rights” (257) of not only the Chileans, but of the American citizens as well. Effectively, the text asserts, “The Chilean case shows that the most highly respected U.S. officials of both political parties consistently deceived their constituents about their own human rights policies” (261). Further, a reader understands clearly that “The gap between [the] professed values and [the actual] behavior [of United State’s officials] suggests the existence of a bureaucratic version of truth that includes a deeply entrenched distortion of reality” (258).Part II – Elaborated SummaryThe following primary questions are asked: What political processes constitute a violation of human rights, and when does such action amount to and justify manipulation? These questions provoke analysis and sensible appraisal throughout to the conclusion of the text’s presentation of events that lead to the Chilean coup d’etat; the facts presented as answers are drawn from extensive research and investigation.In The United States and Human Rights in Chile, the author begins by laying down a foundation by defining principles of self-determination and non-intervention, and outlining arguments to better assess and understand his presentation of the text’s case study: A description of U.S. Policy Toward Chile, Values Implicit in Policy, and Global Humanist Approach with regard to global humanism’s third value of the promotion of universal human rights and justice. Further, rumors dismissed, substantial evidence reveals the involvement of officials of United States officials together with multinational corporations, namely that of ITT, in the Chilean case and of their innate indifference to human rights of the Chilean people as well as that of American citizens.In an era of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam, the United States, by virtue of Communist paranoia, was active throughout the world in various methods (usually covertly) to prevent the expansion of communism including potential Marxist or Socialist factions from taking control of, or winning election into government leadership. This seemed to be the genuine concern regarding Allende and his growing popularity as the CIA had been engaged in activities for the previous seven years to prevent the ascension of Allende, the leader of the socialist party, to the Chilean presidency. These activities were extensive and primarily instigated by the top-secret “40 committee” headed by U.S. National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger. Described, these scrupulous activities included a plan known as the “Alessandri formula” (which involved manipulation of Chilean election law), bribery of Chilean officials, a widespread “black” propaganda campaign, secretly promoted economic chaos, as well as promotion and support toward a military coup d’tate. Despite these efforts, Allende won a democratic election by popular vote, then subsequently was elected by the Chilean congress inaugurating Allende as president of Chile on October 24, 1970.The people of Chile chose Allende their president in a free election. It is well established that Allende was an honorable leader, a lifetime supporter of democracy, an opponent to Marxist totalitarianism, and it has been attested of his adherence to democratic principles. As president with high democratic principles and reasonable socialist ideals, Allende implemented his domestic policies with regard to the people of Chile that, in part, meant the “nationalization” of primary industry and infrastructure owned and operated by U.S. corporations. A focus of the case study is the relationship of the multinational corporation ITT and high-ranking officials of the U.S. government including the executive branch, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. Though the general distain for communism was the U.S. governments initial focal point (conveniently used to overshadow actual agenda), U.S. lead multinational corporations business interests (in Chile) and the priority of profit dominated U.S. foreign policy.Through an Allende program of “expropriation” within the sound and legitimate “excess profits doctrine” for nationalizing ChilTelco, the Chilean telecommunications utility, ITT as the current owner/operator was essentially to sustain an immediate loss of 125 million 1973-dollars (this is the equivalent to approximately 600 million 2003-dollars). Although the Allende government was engaged in discussions with ITT to reach an equitable settlement, the ideas of the excess profits doctrine and expropriation frightened the U.S. Besides just the reality of Chilean economic independence from the U.S. via this Allende program, The United States feared this would set a precedent for other Latin American countries to follow where the U.S. and U.S. business interest would lose its power to control and manipulate these countries for U.S. gain. This greatly “intensified the determination of Washington officials already intent upon eliminating Allende” (221). On March 20, 1972, columnist Jack Anderson published an article that exposed ITT in double-dealings with the Allende government explaining the secret effort by ITT to avert congressional ratification of Allende’s presidential election of October 1970. Negotiations ended and U.S. – Allende government relations, for what they were, took a radical decline.Subsequently, the U.S. took on a Mafia like mantle of power and manipulative influence toward “an extremely hard, vengeful policy line against the [Allende] government” (222), taking several measures to inflict widespread devastation on the Chilean economy. This set the stage for the September 11, 1973, U.S. urged and supported, Chilean military coup d’tate deposing President Allende along with his democratic government.In consideration of the above, the text then addresses blatant U.S. public rhetoric as false “professed values” and refutes each by the examining the explicit behavior of the United States and U.S. lead multinational corporations to reveal actual “implicit values.” Paramount is the ironic, conflicting value that the U.S. justified intervention in the Allende government to protect democracy; as per a televised statement by President Gerald Ford asserting that concern “is in the best interest for the people in Chile.” This statement is contrary of the actual secretly planned undertakings and overall behavior of the United States executive branch resulting in deposing a democratic leader with a ruthless military dictator.Finally, various, more favorable outcomes of the Chilean case are explored within the Global Humanist approach, which the author acknowledges the futility of such speculation. Ultimately, the realization is that there are stark contrasts that “separate the picture of the world painted by U.S. officials from the picture envisaged by advocates of global humanism” (278).Part III – Contemplative EvaluationIn all cases, there are two sides to a story where the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many times, a concrete conclusion is not per objective review of the evidence presented and, the evidence may be slanted. Additionally, many facts may be obscured forever making an appraisal of one’s actions nearly impossible and possibly unfair and unjust altogether. In reading this article, as with any appeal of reason and assessment, I endeavored to consider as many viewpoints as possible along with factors of time and place.The author presents a fair and balanced case for consideration of extensive factual evidence of the United States government’s narrow devotion to the priorities of the corporate world. In reading the chapter as summarized above, I understand that the United States executive branch had complete disregard for the human rights of not only the Chilean people, but also for the American people as well. When I finished reading, I described it to a friend as “wrenching.”I agree with the revelation made by Laurence Birns at the conclusion of the chapter’s description section, attesting of “the staggering immorality of the [Chilean] policy’s architects and the ineffectuality and irrelevance of most scholars, journalists and Congressional leaders, whose professional obligation it was to oversee executive policies toward Chile” (255).Per the public rhetoric of the U.S. government, all Americans including government officials felt innately threatened by the possible expansion of Soviet Union influenced governments. Further, America’s media-influence fueled the idea of communism as being fundamentally evil. With this underlying sentiment, I can understand the consensus regarding the U.S. government’s concern with the spread of socialist and communist states as an agent for the Soviet Union (or China); this was perceived to be generally hostile toward the U.S in a threatening imperialistic sense. It would seem reasonable that, in the early 1970’s, there would be a surging tide of this sentiment with the elevated tensions of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the mounting costs of human lives and resources of the demoralizing Vietnam War (especially as presented by the mainstream media and especially the propagated behavior of Pol Pot and the events in Cambodia following Vietnam), and the memory of the Cuban missile crisis that frightened all Americans intensely.What seemingly began as a fervent effort to prevent a “socialist”, though not a communist agent, from taking political power of Chile grew into an assault on Allende himself and all who (and possibly) would support him. Yes, it became personal; the Goliath United States of Corporate America against the Latin American David, Allende. In this regard, illuminating were the aspects of the “excess profit doctrine” and the immediate reaction of the U.S. turning the tide toward a predator shark mentality as evident by the Assistant Treasury Secretary, John Petty’s statement quoted, “‘You’ll find the U.S. less prepared to turn the other cheek. It’s a new ball game with new rules'” (223).Also illuminating were the apparent facts of ITT’s interaction with the White House and the CIA with the extensive details of meetings between these entities and the key individuals involved, namely Henry Kissinger. In the Global Humanist point of view, I surmise that Kissinger possessed the greatest influence of the course of action in Chile; he could have steered the course toward “vested economic and hegemonic interests of both governments and corporate officials” (278) without devastatingly ignoring the human rights of Chileans and Americans. I have come across what seems to be ever increasing vehement criticism and ridicule of much that Kissinger was associated with; he is turning out to be the devil himself. It was frustrating to read as established fact that Kissinger formulated “distorted realities” and, using the perception of others of his honorable credibility, exhorted his influence to those U.S. officials making decisions in the best interest of the American people and with regard to the Chilean people’s human rights.Disturbing are several facts stated in the text regarding National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger: “[Kissinger] was wholly free of any constraint based on a set of moral beliefs and without feeling for human suffering [. . .] he did not let human beings interfere with policy” (240). Kissinger reportedly said, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people” (260). As read in the text, Kissinger “formed” several realities that were misrepresentations of the truth that mislead lawmakers and the American public; it also murdered and catastrophically affected thousands of Chileans. In fact, Kissinger’s agenda had nothing to do with Communism; “The issue of human rights had a very low priority in policy-making, ranking below capitalist ideological sympathies: human rights were [. . .] irrelevant to the protection of investment and profit advantages for U.S. corporations” (258).It affects me deeply in reading reports telling of political leaders such as Kissinger in this case. I recall during this period that I would see and hear Kissinger speak on the news, and I often noticed his name in the headlines. However, as I may have not understood then the events that our country was involved in nor comprehended the words that Kissinger spoke, I understood that Kissinger was a revered and greatly respected American leader. He advised the President (Nixon and Ford during this time). As a 10 year old impressed with American leaders as admonished by my parents, I am repeatedly saddened now to learn further details of their “immoral” political conduct; I was fooled as were my compatriots (or am I just a fool?). As a proud American and of what I know to be an American means: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness . . . freedom, as this was ingrained into my soul – a soul of an American patriot; I wonder how can an American, such as an esteemed American leader, Kissinger, purposely behaves in the manner as that described in the text? It is mind-boggling and disheartening.With the events of recent regarding the current White House and global capitalistic trends of the corporate world, I find it difficult to find disagreement with the text as presented as I see several parallels with the Chilean case. Namely, this would be the White House and corporate America taking advantage of idealistic values and using them for profit and gain. An example would be the publicly expressed concerns for the Iraqi people living under a repressive regime, a human rights platform, where obviously this is not the actual agenda. In Chile, a publicly expressed concern was that of the national security of the United States as well as that of the Chilean people when actually it was the private financial interests of a couple multinational corporations; there was never any threat to national security under the Allende government.Part IV – ConclusionI feel that it is shameful of the United States White House involvement in Chile. I value the perspective of a well-detailed report such as the one discussed. Further, with its analysis of the collected information, the text here discussed provides for provoking personal appraisal of current events. I recommend that all Americans study and contemplate the Chilean case as it may help provide for a clearer perspective of the present political-economic climate as well as provide for an awareness in recognizing similar conduct in that one may better be inclined toward appropriate action such as constructive discussion with those not so inclined to recognize similar destructive, indifferent behavior by their government. At the very least, a sound and informed dialogue by respect and result of such awareness may possibly increase the numbers of a more emphatic, knowledgeable voter.

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