High Principles

excerpted from the book

Year 501

The Conquest Continues

by Noam Chomsky

South End Press, 1993, paper


... consider the response when General Chun's military dictatorship in South Korea crushed the democracy movement in Kwangju in May 1980. Paratroopers "carried out three days of barbarity with the zeal of Nazi storm troopers," an Asia Watch investigative mission reported, "beating, stabbing and mutilating unarmed civilians, including children, young girls, and aged grandmothers." Two thousand people were killed in this rampage, they estimate. The US received two requests for assistance: the citizens committee that had called for democracy requested help in negotiations; General Chun requested the release of 20,000 troops under US command to join the storm troopers. The latter request was honored, and US naval and air units were deployed in a further show of US support.

"Koreans who had expected help from Carter were dumbfounded," Tim Shorrock writes, as "the news of direct support from the US was broadcast to the people of Kwangju from helicopters and proclaimed throughout the nation in blazing newspaper headlines." A few days later, Carter sent the head of the Export-Import Bank to Seoul to assure the military junta of US economic support, approving a $600 million loan. As Chun took over the presidency by force, Carter said that while we would prefer democracy, "The Koreans are not ready for that, according to their own judgment, and I don't know how to explain it any better."

Chun arrested thousands of "subversives" calling for democracy, sending them to military-run "purification" camps. Hundreds of labor leaders were purged; new legislation severely weakened unions, leading to a 30 percent drop in membership. Censorship became even more harsh. Gratified with this progress, the Reagan Administration honored Chun by selecting him as the first head of state to visit after the inauguration. Visiting Korea in 1986, Secretary of State George Shultz praised the "terrific job being done in security" and in the economy, and the "impressive movement" towards democracy. He expressed his strong support for General Chun. He harshly criticized the democratic opposition, refusing to meet with its leaders Kim Dae Jung and Kim Young Sam, and explaining that "how [countries] design things can vary and you can still call it democracy."

To show how much has changed with the Cold War over, President Bush chose the amiable Mobutu of Zaire as the first African leader to be received at the White House, hailing him as "one of our most valued friends" and making no reference to human rights violations. Among others rewarded for their contributions to democracy and human rights were Bush's friends in Baghdad and Beijing, and Romania's mad dictator Ceausescu.

... development economist Lance Taylor observes: "In the long run, there are no laissez-faire transitions modern economic growth. The state has always intervened to create a capitalist class, and then it has to regulate the capitalist class, and then the state has to worry about being taken over by the capitalist class, but the state has always been there." Furthermore, state power has regularly been invoked by investors and entrepreneurs to protect then from destructive market forces, to secure resources, markets, and opportunities for investment, and in general to safeguard and extend their profits and power.

With the conventional pretext gone, Washington sought new ways to maintain the subsidy to advanced industry. One method is foreign arms sales, which also help alleviate the balance-of-payments crisis. As the Cold War came to a definitive end, the Bush Administration created a Center for Defense Trade to stimulate arms sales while proposing government guarantees of up to $1 billion in loans for purchase of US arms. The Defense Security Assistance Agency was reported to have sent more than 900 officers o some 50 countries to promote US weapons sales. Pentagon officials trace the policy to a July 1990 order that Embassy officials should expand their assistance to US arms exporters; the Gulf war was then prominently featured as a sales promotion device. At a Pentagon-industry conference in may 1991, industry officials asked the government to pick up the costs of us military equipment and personnel sent to contractor trade shows around the world for sales promotion. The Pentagon agreed, reversing a 25-year policy. The first taxpayer-funded display was at the June 1991 Paris Air Show.

Lawrence Korb of the Brookings Institution, formerly Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of logistics, observed that the promise of arms sales had kept stocks of military producers high despite the end of the Cold War, with arms sales rising from $12 billion in 1989 to almost $40 billion in 1991. Moderate declines in purchases by the US military were more than offset by other aims sales by US companies. Since "President Bush called last May [1991] for restraint in weapons sales to the Middle East," AP correspondent Barry Schweid reported in early 1992, "the United States has transferred roughly $6 billion in arms to the region," part of the $19 billion in US weapons sent to the Middle East since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. From 1989 through 1991, US arms exports to the Third World increased by 138 percent, making the US far and away the leading arms exporter. The sales since May 1991 are "fully consistent with the president's initiative and the guidelines" in his call for restraint, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher announced-quite accurately, given the actual intent.

Bush Administration calls for restraint were timed for the triumphal celebration of the Gulf war, as part of the PR campaign on the new era of peace and tranquility that we are entering, thanks to the valor of our grand leader. On February 6, 1991, secretary of State James Baker told the House Foreign Committee that the time had come for concrete steps to stem the flow of armaments to the Middle East, "an area that is already overmilitarized." On March 6, in his triumphant address to a cheering joint session of Congress, the President announced that control of arms sales would be one of his major postwar goals: "it would be tragic," he said, "if the nations of the Middle East and Persian Gulf were now, in the wake of war, to embark on a new arms race."

In recognition of the scale of the tragedy, the Administration, a few days earlier, had provided the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a confidential listing of planned sales reaching to record levels, more than half for the Middle East; and informed Congress of a $1.6 billion sale of advanced fighter aircraft to Egypt. A week after the speech, Congress was informed of a $760 million deal for Apache helicopters to the United Arab Emirates. The Pentagon then used the Paris Air Show for an unprecedented sales pitch, displaying with pride (and hope) the goods that had so magnificently destroyed a defenseless Third World country. Secretary of Defense Cheney announced new arms transfers to Israel and plans to stockpile $200 million worth of US weapons there; another $7 billion in weapon sales, mainly to the Middle East, was announced in July. The UK followed the same path. China was the only weapons exporter to call for concrete limits on arms sales to the Middle East, a proposal quickly dismissed by the US and its allies?

Military Keynesian initiatives have not been limited to the taxpayer subsidy (R&D) and a state-guaranteed market. While the US lags far behind nations like Japan and Germany in per-capita spending on foreign economic aid," William Hartung points out, about one-third of its foreign aid budget 'is devoted to direct grants or loans to foreign governments for the purchase L of U.S. military equipment"; other programs are shaped to the same ends.

Such considerations, however, should not obscure the more fundamental role of the Pentagon system (including NASA and DOE) in maintaining high-tech industry generally, just as state intervention plays a crucial role in supporting biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, and most competitive segments of the economy. The Reagan Administration sharply increased protectionist measures along with steps to support failing banks and industries, and generally to assist US corporate power.

By IMP standards, the United States, after a decade of Reaganite folly, is a prime candidate for severe austerity measures. But it is far too powerful to submit to the rules, intended for the weak.

... the Times business section carries an item on a confidential memo of the World Bank leaked to the Economist. Its author is the same Lawrence Summers. He writes: "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the [Third World]?" This makes good sense, Summers explains: for example, a cancer-producing agent will have larger effects "in a country where people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country where under-5 mortality is 200 per thousand." Poor countries are "under-polluted," and it is only reasonable to encourage "dirty industries" to move to them. "The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that." To be sure, there are "arguments against all of these proposals" for exporting pollution to the Third World: "intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc." But these arguments have a fatal flaw: they "could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalisation."

"Mr. Summers is asking questions that the World Bank would rather ignore," the Economist observes, but "on the economics, his points are hard to answer." Quite true. We have the choice of taking them to be a reduction ad absurdum argument and thus abandoning the ideology, or accepting the conclusions: on grounds of economic rationality, the rich countries should export pollution to the Third world, which should cut back on its "misguided" efforts to promote economic development and protect the population from disaster. That way, capitalism can overcome the environmental crisis. Free market capitalism is, indeed, a wondrous instrument. Surely there should be two Nobel prizes awarded annually, not just one.

Confronted with the memo, Summers said that it was only "intended to provoke debate"-elsewhere, that it was a 'sarcastic response" to another World Bank draft. Perhaps the same is true of the World Bank "consensus" study. In fact, it is often hard to determine when the intellectual productions of the experts are intended seriously, or are a perverse form of sarcasm. The huge numbers of people subjected to these doctrines do not have the luxury to ponder this intriguing question."

Arthur MacEwan observes in a review of the uniform record of industrial and agricultural development through protectionism and other measures f of state intervention: "Highly developed nations can use free trade to extend 1 their power and their control of the world's wealth, and businesses can use it as a weapon against labor. Most important, free trade can limit efforts to redistribute income more equally, undermine progressive social programs, and keep people from democratically controlling their economic lives."

One aspect of the internationalization of the economy is the extension of the two-tiered Third World model to the core countries. Market doctrine thus becomes an essential ideological weapon at home as well, its highly selective application safely obscured by the doctrinal system. Wealth and power are increasingly concentrated among investors and professionals who benefit from internationalization of capital flow and communication.

Services for the general public-education, health, transportation, libraries, etc.-become as superfluous as those they serve, and can therefore be limited or dispensed with entirely. Some, it is true, are still needed, notably prisons, a service that must in fact be extended, to deal with useless people. As care for the mentally ill declines, prisons become "surrogate mental hospitals," a study of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Ralph Nader's Public Citizen observes. The psychiatrist who led the research observes that "there were far fewer psychotic people in jail 100 years ago than we have today," as we revert to practices reformed in the 19th century.

Almost 30 percent of jails detain mentally ill people without criminal charges. The drug war has also made a major contribution to this technique of social control. The dramatic increase in the prison population in the late 1980s is largely attributable not to criminal acts, but to cocaine dealing and possession, as well as the harsher sentencing favored by "conservatives." The US has by far the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, "largely because of drug-related crimes" (Mathea Falco). How fortunate we are not to be in China, where the "lingering police-state mentality leaves little room for the kinds of creative solutions the West favors in addressing social maladies such as drug addiction," the Wall Street Journal explains.

Prisons also offer a Keynesian stimulus to the economy, both the construction business and white collar employment; the fastest growing profession is reported to be security personnel. They also offer a method of economic conversion that does not infringe on corporate prerogatives and hence is acceptable. "Fort Devens top pick for US prison," a front-page Boston Globe headline happily proclaims; the new federal prison may overcome the harm to the local economy when the army base closes.

High on the list of targets for the New Evangelists is public education, dispensable, since the rich can buy what they want in the "education market" and the thought that one might be concerned about the larger society has been relegated to the ashcan of history along with other ancient prejudices. An upbeat story in the liberal Boston Globe describes an experiment in the "desperate city" of Baltimore, where schools are collapsing. Several schools are being handed over to a for-profit company that will introduce the "entrepreneurial spirit": "private-sector efficiency and a new educational model...means, for example, hiring nonunion custodians and placing special education students into mainstream classrooms." The former special education teachers, and the union custodians with their higher benefits, will be picked up by the schools that remain public. Another achievement of the "entrepreneurial spirit" is to replace high-cost teachers with low-wage interns and volunteers (parents). These miracles of capitalism should "provide valuable lessons as America seeks ways to improve its education system.

A central feature of the recent ideological offensive has been the attack on "big government" and pleas for relief for the poor taxpayer-undertaxed (with the least progressive taxes, by a good margin) in comparison with other developed countries, 15 a major reason for the steady deterioration of education, health, highways, indeed anything that might benefit the irrelevant public. At the same time, protectionist devices, subsidy, bail-outs, and other familiar elements of the welfare state for the rich are quietly extended, while praise for the free market resounds to the skies. The combination is a major achievement of the state-corporate-media alliance.

... one might look into the correlation between US aid and the human rights climate. That was done by the leading academic scholar on human rights in Latin America, Lars Schoultz, who found that US aid "has tended to flow disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens, ...to the hemisphere's relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights." The flow of aid includes military aid, is not correlated with need, and runs through the Carter period, when at least some attention was given to human rights concerns. A broader study by Edward Herman found the same correlation worldwide. Herman carried out another study that directs us to the reasons. Aid is closely correlated with improvement in the Investment climate, a result commonly achieved by murdering priests and union leaders, massacring peasants trying to organize, blowing up the independent press, and soon. We therefore find the secondary correlation between aid and egregious violation of human rights. These studies precede the Reagan years, when the questions are not even worth posing.

Another approach is to investigate the relation between the source of atrocities and the reaction to them. There is extensive work on that topic, again with sharp and consistent results: the atrocities of official enemies arouse great anguish and indignation, vast coverage, and often shameless lying to portray them as even worse than they are; the treatment is the opposite in all respects when responsibility lies closer to home. (Atrocities that do not bear on domestic power interests are generally ignored.) Without comparable inquiry, we know that exactly the same was true of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany.

After an alleged Communist coup attempt on September 30, 1965, and the murder of six Indonesian generals, pro-American General Suharto took charge and launched a bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands of people, mostly landless peasants, were slaughtered. Reflecting on the matter in 1969, Pauker noted that the assassination of the generals "elicited the ruthlessness that I had not anticipated a year earlier and resulted in the death of large numbers of Communist cadres."

The scale of the massacre is unknown. The CIA estimates 250,000 killed. The head of the Indonesia state security system later estimated the toll at over half a million; Amnesty International gave the figure of "many more than one million." Whatever the numbers, no one doubts that there was incredible butchery. Seven-hundred-fifty-thousand more were arrested, according to official figures, many of them kept for years under miserable conditions without trial. President Sukamo was overthrown and the military ruled unchallenged. Meanwhile the country was opened to Western exploitation, hindered only by the rapacity of the rulers.

The US role in these events is uncertain, one reason being the gaps in the documentary record. Gabriel Kolko observes that "U.S. documents for the three months preceding September 30, 1965, and dealing with the convoluted background and intrigues, much less the embassy's and the CIA's roles, have been withheld from public scrutiny. Given the detailed materials available before and after July-September 1965, one can only assume that the release of these papers would embarrass the U.S. government." Ex-CIA officer Ralph McGehee reports that he is familiar with a highly classified CIA report on the agency's role in provoking the destruction of the PM, and attributes the slaughter to the "C.I.A. [one word deleted] operation." The deletion was imposed by CIA censorship. Peter Dale Scott, who has carried out the most careful attempt to reconstruct the events, suggests that the deleted word is "deception," referring to CIA propaganda that "creates the appropriate situations," in McGehee's uncensored words, for this and other mass murder operations (citing also Chile). McGehee referred specifically to atrocity fabrication by the CIA to lay the basis for violence against the PM.

There is no doubt that Washington was aware of the slaughter, and approved. Secretary of State Dean Rusk cabled to Ambassador Marshall Green on October 29 that the "campaign against PM" must continue and that the military, who were orchestrating it, "are [the] only force capable of creating order in Indonesia" and must continue to do so with US help for a "major military campaign against PM." The US moved quickly to provide aid to the army, but details have not been made public. Cables from the Jakarta Embassy on October 30 and November 4 indicate that deliveries of communications equipment to the Indonesian army were accelerated and the sale of US aircraft approved, while the Deputy Chief of Mission noted that "The embassy and the USG were generally sympathetic with and admiring of what the army was doing.

The "good news" was not long in coming. "American officials soon recognized that the situation in Indonesia was changing drastically and, from their perspective, for the better," Brands continues. "As information arrived from the countryside indicating that a purge of the PM was beginning, the principal worry of American officials in Jakarta and in Washington was that the army would fail to take advantage of its opportunity," and when the army seemed to hesitate, Washington sought ways "to encourage the officers" to proceed. Green recommended covert efforts to "spread the story of the PKI's guilt, treachery, and brutality," though he knew of no PM role. Such efforts were undertaken to good effect, according to McGehee's account of the internal CIA record. George Ball, the leading Administration dove, recommended that the US stay in the background because "the generals were doing quite well on their own" (Brands's paraphrase), and the military aid and training programs "should have established clearly in the minds of the army leaders that the US stands behind them if they should need help" (Ball). Ball instructed the Jakarta embassy to exercise "extreme caution lest our well-meaning efforts to offer assistance or steel their resolve may in fact play into the hands of Sukamo and [his political associate] Subandrio." Dean Rusk added that "If the army's willingness to follow through against the PM is in anyway contingent on or subject to influence by the United States, we do not want to miss the opportunity to consider U.S. action."

Brands concludes that US covert aid "may have facilitated the liquidation of the PM," but "at most it speeded what probably would have happened more slowly." "Whatever the American role in these developments," he continues, "the administration found the overall trend encouraging. In mid-December Ball reported with satisfaction that the army's campaign to destroy the PM was 'moving fairly swiftly and smoothly.' At about the same time Green cabled from Jakarta: 'The elimination of the communists continues apace'." By early February 1966, President Johnson was informed that about 100,000 had been massacred. Shortly before, the CIA reported that Sukamo was finished, and "The army has virtually destroyed the PM."

Nevertheless, Brands continues, "Despite that good news the administration remained reluctant to commit itself publicly to Suharto," fearing that the outcome was still uncertain. But doubts soon faded. Johnson's new National Security Adviser Walt Rostow "found Suharto's 'New Order' encouraging," US aid began to flow openly, and Washington officials began to take credit for the great success.

According to this skeptical view, then, "The United States did not overthrow Sukarno, and it was not responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths involved in the liquidation of the PM," though it did what it could to encourage the army to liquidate the only mass popular organization in Indonesia, hesitated to become more directly involved only because it feared that these efforts would be counterproductive, greeted the "good news" with enthusiasm as the slaughter mounted, and turned enthusiastically to assisting the "New Order" that arose from the bloodshed as the moderates triumphed.

The public Western reaction was one of relief and pride. Deputy Undersecretary of State Alexis Johnson celebrated "The reversal of the Communist tide in the great country of Indonesia" as "an event that will probably rank along with the Vietnamese war as perhaps the most historic turning point of Asia in this decade" (October 1966.). Appearing before a Senate Committee, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was asked whether US military aid during the pre-coup period had "paid dividends." He agreed that it had, and was therefore justified-the major dividend being a huge pile of corpses. In a private communication to President Johnson in March 1967, McNamara went further, saying that US military assistance to the Indonesian army had "encouraged it to move against the P1(1 when the opportunity was presented." Particularly valuable, he said, was the program bringing Indonesian military personnel to the United States for training at universities, where they learned the lessons they put to use so well. These were "very significant factors in determining the favorable orientation of the new Indonesian political elite" (the army), McNamara argued. A congressional report also held that training and continued communication with military officers paid 'enormous dividends." The same reasoning has long been standard with regard to Latin America, with similar results.

There was no condemnation of the slaughter on the floor of Congress, and no major US relief agency offered aid. The World Bank restored Indonesia to favor, soon making it the third largest borrower. Western governments and corporations followed along.

Those close at hand may have drawn further lessons about peasant massacre. Ambassador Green went on to the State Department, where he presided over the bombing of rural Cambodia, among other achievements. As the bombing was stepped up to historically unprecedented levels in 1973, slaughtering tens of thousands of peasants, Green testified before Congress that the massacre should continue because of our desire for peace: our experience with "these characters in Hanoi" teaches that only the rivers of blood of Cambodian peasants might bring them to the negotiating table. The 'experience" to which he referred was the 1972 Christmas bombings of Hanoi, undertaken to force those characters in Hanoi to modify the agreements reached with the Nixon Administration in October but rejected by Washington, then restored without change after the US stopped the bombing because it proved too costly. The events and their remarkable aftermath having been concealed by the Free Press, Green could be confident that there would be no exposure of his colossal fabrications in the interest of continued mass murder."

Returning to Indonesia, the media were pleased, even euphoric. As the army moved to take control, Times correspondent Max Frankel described the delight of Johnson Administration officials over the "dramatic new opportunity" in Indonesia. The "military showed power," so that "Indonesia can now be saved from what had appeared to be an inevitable drift towards a peaceful takeover from within"-an unthinkable disaster, since internal politics was not under US control. US officials "believe the army will cripple and perhaps destroy the Communists as a significant political force," leading to "the elimination of Communist influences at all levels of Indonesian society." Consequently, there is now 'hope where only two weeks ago there was despair.

Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the opportunity to destroy the one popular political force in the country. Japan's leading newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, urged caution: "In view of the fact that the Communist influence is deeply entrenched among the Indonesian grassroots, it would cause further deterioration in the confused national state of affairs if a firm crackdown were carried out against them. "' But such more somber reflections were rare.

In mid-1966, well after the results were known, U.S. News & World Report headlined a long and enthusiastic story "Indonesia: 'HOPE.. .WHERE ONCE THERE WAS NONE.'" "Indonesians these days can talk and argue freely, no longer fearful of being denounced and imprisoned," the journal reported, describing an emerging totalitarian terror state with hundreds of thousands in prison and the blood still flowing. In a cover story, Time magazine celebrated "The West's best news for years in Asia" under the heading "Vengeance with a Smile," devoting 5 pages of text and 6 more of pictures to the "boiling bloodbath that almost unnoticed took 400,000 lives." The new army regime is "scrupulously constitutional," Time happily announced, "based on law not on mere power," in the words of its "quietly determined" leader Suharto with his "almost innocent face." The elimination of the 3 million-member PM by its "only possible rival," the army, and the removal from power of the "genuine folk hero" Sukarno, may virtually be considered a triumph of democracy."

The leading political thinker of the New York Times, James Reston, chimed in under the heading "A Gleam of Light in Asia." The regular channel for the State Department, Reston admonished Americans not to let the bad news in Vietnam displace "the more hopeful developments in Asia," primary among them being "the savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukamo to a defiantly anti-Communist policy under General Suharto":

Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized. General Suharto's forces, at times severely short of food and munitions, have been getting aid from here through various third countries, and it is doubtful if the coup would ever have been attempted without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.


... the Indonesian generals [1977], in addition to compiling one of the worst human rights records in the world at home, had escalated their 1975 attack on the former Portuguese colony of East Timor to near-genocidal levels, with another "staggering mass slaughter," which bears comparison to the atrocities of Pol Pot in the same years. In this case, the deed was done with the crucial support of the Human Rights Administration and its allies. They understand "reasons of state" as well as the Times editors, who, with their North American and European colleagues, did what they could to facilitate the slaughter by suppressing the readily available facts in favor of (occasional) fairy tales told by Indonesian generals and the State Department. US-Canadian reporting on Timor, which had been substantial before the invasion in the context of Western concerns over the collapse of the Portuguese empire, reduced to zero in 1978 as atrocities peaked along with the flow of US arms.

When the victims are classified as less than human ... Communists, terrorists, or whatever may be the contemporary term of art - their extermination raises no moral qualms. And the agents of extermination are praiseworthy moderates-our Nazis ...

In 1990-1991, several events elicited some uncharacteristic concern over US-backed Indonesian atrocities. In May 1990, States News Service released a study in Washington by Kathy Kadane, which found that

The U.S. government played a significant role [in the 1965 Indonesian genocide] by supplying the names of thousands of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian army, which hunted down the leftists and killed them, former U.S. diplomats say... As many as 5000 names were furnished to the Indonesian army, and the Americans later checked off the names of those who had been killed or captured, according to U.S. officials... The lists were a detailed who's who of the leadership of the party of 3 million members, [foreign service officer Robert] Martens said. They included names of provincial, city and other local PM committee members, and leaders of the "mass organizations," such as the PM national labor federation, women's and youth groups.

The names were passed on to the military, which used them as a "shooting list," according to Joseph Lazarsky, deputy CIA station chief in Jakarta at the time, who adds that some were kept for interrogation or "kangaroo courts" because the Indonesians "didn't have enough goon squads to zap them all." Kadane reports that top US Embassy officials acknowledged in interviews that they had approved of the release of the names. William Colby compared the operation to his Phoenix program in Vietnam, in exculpation of his own campaign of political assassination (which Phoenix clearly was, though he denies it).

"No one cared as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered," said Howard Federspiel, then Indonesia expert for State Department intelligence; "No one was getting very worked up about it." "It really was a big help to the army," Martens said. "They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad." "There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment."

The article that closed the books, to Rosenfeld's immense relief, was the Brands study reviewed earlier. That Brands is an "independent" commentator "without political bias" is demonstrated throughout: The US war in Vietnam was an attempt "to rescue South Vietnam"; the information reaching Washington that "The army has virtually destroyed the PEI" in a huge massacre was "good news"; "the most serious deficiency of covert warfare" is "its inevitable tendency to poison the well of public opinion," that is, to tar the US with "bum raps" elsewhere; etc. Much more significant are the "delights and surprises" that put any lingering doubts to rest. Since the study closes all questions for good, we may now rest easy in the knowledge that Washington did all it could to encourage the greatest massacre since the days of Hitler and Stalin, welcomed the outcome with enthusiasm, and immediately turned to the task of supporting Suharto's aptly named "New Order." Thankfully, there is nothing to trouble the liberal conscience.

One interesting non-reaction to the Kadane report appeared in the lead article in the New York Review of Books by Senator Daniel Moynihan. He fears that "we are poisoning the wells of our historical memory," suppressing unpleasant features of our past. He contrasts these failures with the "extraordinary period of exhuming the worst crimes of its hideous history" now underway in the Soviet Union. Of course, "the United States has no such history. To the contrary." Our history is quite pure. There are no crimes to "exhume" against the indigenous population or Africans in the 70 years following our revolution, or against Filipinos, Central Americans, Indochinese, and others later on. Still, even we are not perfect: "not everything we have done in this country has been done in the open," Moynihan observes, though 'not everything could be. Or should have been." But we conceal too much, the gravest crime of our history.

It is hard to believe that as he was writing these words, the Senator did not have the recent revelations about Indonesia in mind. He, after all, has a special personal relation to Indonesian atrocities. He was UN Ambassador at the time of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, and takes pride in his memoirs, in having forestalled any international reaction to the aggression and massacre. "The United States wished things to turn out as they did," he writes, "and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success." Moynihan was well aware of how things turned out, noting that within a few weeks some 60,000 people had been killed, "10 percent of the population, almost the proportion of casualties experienced by the Soviet Union during the Second World War." Thus he took credit for achievements that he compares to those of the Nazis. And he is surely familiar with the subsequent US government role in escalating the slaughter, and the contribution of the media and political class in concealing it. But the newly released information about the US role in mass slaughter did not stir his historical memory, or suggest some reflections on our practices, apart from our single blemish: insufficient candor.

Moynihan's successes at the UN have entered history in the conventional manner. Measures taken against Iraq and Libya "show again how the collapse of Communism has given the Security Council the cohesion needed to enforce its orders," Times UN correspondent Paul Lewis explains in a front-page story: "That was impossible in earlier cases like... Indonesia's annexation of East Timor. "

There was also a flicker of concern about Indonesia after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. It was hard not to notice the similarity to Indonesia's (vastly more murderous aggression and annexation. A decade earlier, when glimmerings of what had happened finally began to break through, there had been occasional notice of the comparison between Suharto's exploits in Timor and the simultaneous Pol Pot slaughters. As in 1990, the US and its allies were charged at most with "ignoring" Indonesian atrocities. The truth was well concealed throughout: Indonesia was given critical military and diplomatic support for its monstrous war crimes; and crucially, unlike the case of Pol Pot and Saddam, these could readily have been halted, simply by withdrawal of Western aid and breaking the silence

Year 501

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