All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.
~ George Orwell
(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, February 15, 2017.)
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915 – 2006), pictured above, was President of Chile between 1973 and 1990 and Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army from 1973 to 1998. His rule of Chile was a dictatorship. Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup d’état on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Unidad Popular government of President Salvador Allende and ended civilian rule. Several academics have stated that the support of the United States was crucial to the coup and the consolidation of power afterward. During the period of Pinochet’s rule, various investigations have identified the murder of 1,200 to 3,200 people with up to 80,000 people forcibly interned and as many as 30,000 tortured.
Of course it is no secret that the USA has attempted to suppress democracy many times around the world since the end of WWII, and they have been successful in: Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Congo in 1960, Greece in 1961, Brazil in 1964, The Dominican Republic in 1965, Italy in 1970, Chile in 1973, and others. In fact, the involvement of the USA in regime change around the world since the mid 19th century—both successful and unsuccessful involvement against all kinds of governments—forms a list too long to detail here.
Now here’s my question. If the military and covert forces of the USA are willing to overthrow (especially) democratic/populist governments around the world, is it much of a stretch to think that authoritarian forces won’t continue to use any means possible to suppress democracy in their own country? Voter suppression, gerrymandering, misinformation, propaganda, and all the rest may just be the beginning. It is but a short step from the above to using anything, including violence, to get your way. Especially when you are fanatical ideologues, power seeking plutocrats, or profit-obsessed corporatists. And the job is made even easier if you can co-opt or delegitimize governmental agencies like the CIA, FBI, and the Justice Department.
I fear for the Republic.