Shoot Leftists, Don't They?
October 30, 2002
"Left wing President elected in Brazil - how long before
a US led coup? Place your bets!" So began a topic for discussion
on London's Guardian website. A few days later, Insider
Magazine disclosed the contents of a Henry Hyde letter
to President Bush, which targeted Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba
as a new "Axis of Evil." Openly calling for the ouster of
Hugo Chavez, Hyde stacked the odds in favor of yet another
stab at a US-led coup. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe,
an American poster weighed in with views of his own: "Dolts
who make comments that 'we overthrew a democratic socialist
government in Chile thirty years ago and that's why there
is so much anger in the Third World,'" he wrote, "have yet
to come to grips with the exact nature of our enemy."
How can there be such disconnect between how Americans see
our foreign policy and how others do? Is it truly just a matter
of US citizens being woefully uninformed? Or do they choose
to be? Chances are, even if the Dickensonian spirits of Howard
Zinn, Studs Terkel and Charles Dickens visited this guy, his
attitude would not falter. In his mind, destroying the enemy
is what matters - even if his method actually creates more
of them in the long run. Conveniently, in this myopic argument,
U.S intervention merely amounts to something we did 30 years
ago, certainly nothing we should presently rethink.
Yet intervention after intervention, it's always the same.
If a democratically-elected leader of a third world country
champions his people over American business interests, or
if God forbid, a leftist government is elected, that government
is doomed. The real, hidden history of U.S. foreign policy
entails overthrowing legitimate governments and installing
tyrannical puppets who do corporate bidding at the expense
While many coups, like those in Iran, Vietnam and Iraq (the
1963 installation of Iraq's Baath party was reportedly the
ClA's "favorite coup") eventually involve blowback, others,
such as the overthrow of Guatemala's democratically-elected
president Jacob Arbenz, involve horrors that span a generation.
Conducted on behalf of the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit
Company, this coup resonated for 40 years, and according to
former State Department official William Blum, was "every
bit as horrible as what was done to the Jews in Europe."
Given this, is it a leap to suggest populist, progressive
leaders are at risk on the home front, too?
It's happened too often in this country, particularly when
an immoral, unpopular war loomed large. The deaths of John
F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King haunt this
nation, and the mysteries surrounding their deaths add to
our distrust. We've never gotten satisfactory answers, and
in some cases, have been given explanations that defy rationality.
And yet, we're made to feel foolish in the asking. But even
Bill Clinton reportedly asked Webster Hubbell to find answers
to two questions: "One, who killed JFK? And, two, are there
UFOs? " He never found out. Odds are we won't either.
When Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane went down, many of us were
seized by the gnawing uncertainty which has become far too
commonplace, especially since the 2000 selection. That feeling
in the gut that tells us, over and over, that something is
wrong in George Bush's America, and that this is worse than
anything we can remember.
Maybe it's because it's always the good ones, the ones who
can save us, who are taken away. Wellstone was everything
his detractors could never hope to be. Honest, self-made,
kind and well-intentioned, he was as incorruptible as the
other Mr. Smith who went to Washington. "Getting rid of Wellstone,"
reported the Nation last May, "[was] a passion for
Rove, Dick Cheney [and] George W. Bush." Wellstone was George
Bailey in a sea of sneering Mr. Potters. George Bush had no
intention of attending Senator Wellstone's funeral. Dick Cheney
was asked to stay away.
Moreover, our unease is fueled by the litany of plane crashes
that plague American politicians and scandal mavens. Why don't
Europeans seem to have the same problem? Wellstone's accident
invokes Gov. Mel Carnahan's plane crash, just weeks before
the 2000 election. Then, too, Israeli agent Amiram Nir's aircraft
was shot down by a missile before he could testify in Iran/Contra
proceedings; Iran/Contra investigative committee head Sen.
John Tower perished in a plane crash and Pakistan dictator
Mohammed Zia al-huk (also an Iran/Contra figure) died in an
airplane accident under mysterious circumstances. Warren Commission
member and dissident Hale Boggs also died while flying and
Mrs. Dorothy Hunt, wife of Watergate conspirator E. Howard
Hunt, died in an airline accident the same year. Her purse,
found in the debris, contained $10,585 in cash, fueling speculation.
Of course, none of this proves anything. It never will. But,
in 2000, after criticizing drug-war policy meant to disguise
U.S involvement in Columbian counter-insurgency, Sen. Wellstone
traveled to Columbia, where, according to an AP press report,
he was reportedly a target in an assassination attempt. Like
human rights activists before him, Wellstone was a champion
of the people and a thorn in the side of corporate interests
and the government officials who serve them. Former cop Mike
Ruppert reports that at least two members of the House of
Representatives have expressed concerns that Wellstone was
murdered. As always, we'll never know.
In a recent interview, American icon Walter Cronkite shared
concerns that Americans are learning less about what their
government does, and don't seem to care. Noted author Mark
Hertsgaard wondered, too, if people realized how "little information
we Americans receive about our government's foreign policy."
Citing the media's failure, both said that without an educated
populace and a free press to inform them, democracy cannot
Yet Wellstone never lost hope. "This is race is going to
be a case study of whether you can maintain liberal, progressive
positions and win in this country in 2002," Wellstone said
of the upcoming election. Regardless how one feels about the
circumstances surrounding Wellstone's death, and no matter
how many painful memories it invokes, one thing is certain:
the underlying forces that cause us to question and give our
feelings credence are very real. And we owe it to all that
is good, true and just in America to fight back - and do everything
we can to insure that Paul Wellstone's vision survives.