Restoring the Traditional Order

Noam Chomsky

Excerpted from What Uncle Sam Really Wants, 1992

that it was going to be vital for the health of US corporations that the other Western industrial societies reconstruct from wartime damage so they could import US manufactured goods and provide investment opportunities. (I’m counting Japan as part of the West, following the South African convention of treating Japanese as "honorary whites.") But it was crucial that these societies reconstruct in a very specific way.

The traditional, right-wing order had to be restored, with business dominant, labor split and weakened, and the burden of reconstruction placed squarely on the shoulders of the working classes and the poor.

The major thing that stood in the way of this was the anti-fascist resistance, so we suppressed it all over the world, often installing fascists and Nazi collaborators in its place. Sometimes that required extreme violence, but other times it was done by softer measures, like subverting elections and withholding desperately needed food. The pattern was set in 1942, when President Roosevelt installed a French Admiral, Jean Darlan, as Governor-General of all of French North Africa. Darlan was a leading Nazi collaborator and the author of the antisemitic laws promulgated by the Vichy government (the Nazis’ puppet regime in France).

But far more important was the first area of Europe liberated-southern Italy, where the US, following Churchill’s advice, imposed a right-wing dictatorship headed by Fascist war hero Field Marshall Badoglio and the King, Victor Emmanuel III, who was also a Fascist collaborator.

US planners recognized that the "threat" in Europe was not Soviet aggression (which serious analysts, like Dwight Eisenhower, did not anticipate) but rather the worker and peasant based antirascist resistance with its radical democratic ideals, and the political power and appeal of the local Communist parties.

To prevent an economic collapse that would enhance their influence, and to rebuild Western Europe’s state-capitalist economies, the US instituted the Marshall Plan (under which Europe was provided with more than $12 billion in loans and grants between 1948 and 1951, funds used to purchase a third of US exports to Europe in the peak year of 1949).

In Italy, a worker- and peasant-based movement, led by the Communist party, had held down six German divisions during the war and liberated northern Italy. As US forces advanced through Italy, they dispersed this antifascist resistance and restored the basic structure of the prewar Fascist regime.

Italy has been one of the main areas of CIA subversion ever since the agency was founded. The ClA was concerned about Communists winning power legally in the crucial Italian elections of 1948. A lot of techniques were used, including restoring the Fascist police, breaking the unions
and withholding food. But it wasn’t clear that the Communist party could be defeated.

The very first National Security Council memorandum, NSC 1 (1948), specified a number of actions the US would take if the Communists won these elections. One planned response was armed intervention, by means of military aid for underground operations in Italy.

Some people, particularly George Kennan, advocated military action before the elections- he didn’t want to take a chance. But others convinced him we could carry it off by subversion, which turned out to be correct.

In Greece, British troops entered after the Nazis had withdrawn. They imposed a corrupt regime that evoked renewed resistance, and Britain, in its postwar decline, was unable to maintain control. In 1947, the United States moved in, supporting a murderous war that resulted in about 160,000 deaths.

This war was complete with torture, political exile for tens of thousands of Greeks, what we
called "re-education camps" for tens of thousands of others, and the destruction of unions and of any possibility of independent politics.

It placed Greece firmly in the hands of US investors and local businessmen, while much of
the population had to emigrate in order to survive. The beneficiaries included Nazi collaborators, while the primary victims were the workers and the peasants of the Communist-led, anti-Nazi resistance.

Our successful defense of Greece against its own population was the model for the Vietnam
War-as Adlai Stevenson explained to the United Nations in 1964. Reagan’s advisors used exactly the same model in talking about Central America, and the pattern was followed many other places.

In Japan, Washington initiated the so-called "reverse course" of 1947 that terminated early steps towards democratization taken by General MacArthur’s military administration. The reverse course suppressed the unions and other democratic forces and placed the country firmly in the hands of corporate elements that had backed Japanese fascism-a system of state and private power that still endures.

When US forces entered Korea in 1945, they dispersed the local popular government, consisting primarily of antifascists who resisted the Japanese, and inaugurated a brutal repression, using Japanese fascist police and Koreans who had collaborated with them during the Japanese occupation. About 100,000 people were murdered in South Korea prior to what we call the Korean War, including 30-40,000 killed during the suppression of a peasant revolt in one small region, Cheju Island.

A fascist coup in Colombia, inspired by Franco’s Spain, brought little protest from the US government; neither did a military coup in Venezuela, nor the restoration of an admirer of fascism in Panama. But the first democratic government in the history of Guatemala, which modeled itself on Roosevelt’s New Deal, elicited bitter US antagonism.

In 1954, the CIA engineered a coup that turned Guatemala into a hell on earth. lt’s been kept that
way ever since, with regular US intervention and support, particularly under Kennedy and Johnson.

One aspect of suppressing the antifascist resistance was the recruitment of war criminals like Klaus Barbie, an SS officer who had been the Gestapo chief of Lyon, France. There he earned his nickname: the Butcher of Lyon. Although he was responsible for many hideous crimes, the US Army put him in charge of spying on the French.

When Barbie was finally brought back to France in 1982 to be tried as a war criminal, his use as an agent was explained by Colonel (ret.) Eugene Kolb of the US Army Counterintelligence Corps: Barbie’s "skills were badly needed….His activities had been directed against the underground French Communist party and the resistance," who were now targeted for repression by the American liberators.

Since the United States was picking up where the Nazis had left off, it made perfect sense to employ specialists in antiresistance activities. Later on, when it became difficult or impossible
to protect these useful folks in Europe, many of them (including Barbie) were spirited off to the
United States or to Latin America, often with the help of the Vatican and fascist priests.

There they became military advisers to US supported police states that were modeled, often quite openly, on the Third Reich. They also became drug dealers, weapons merchants, terrorists and educators-teaching Latin American peasants torture techniques devised by the Gestapo. Some of the Nazis’ students ended up in Central America, thus establishing a direct link between the death camps and the death squads-all thanks to the postwar alliance between the US and the SS.