Yves here. For some odd reason, even Americans who know we installed the Shah of Iran in 1953 seem remarkably unaware of the fact that we ousted Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1975. Key sections of a Guardian story:
Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, a giant vacuum cleaner which, as Edward Snowden revealed recently, allows the US to spy on everyone. “Try to screw us or bounce us,” the prime minister warned the US ambassador, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”.
Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”…
The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 was operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “[governor-general John] Kerr did what he was told to do.”
On 10 November 1975, Whitlam was shown a top-secret telex message sourced to Theodore Shackley, the notorious head of the CIA’s East Asia division, who had helped run the coup against Salvador Allende in Chile two years earlier.
Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. It said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country. The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA, where he was briefed on the “security crisis”.
On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
“For certain of their leaders, modern-day liberalism is a way of rationalizing and exercising class power.”–Thomas Frank
The real resistance occurred in 2016. It failed in both parties.–Yours truly
There’s something greatly troubling about what the media-fronted #Resistance has morphed into, but I’m having trouble writing about it (it’s lightly touched here: “A Nation in Crisis, Again“). Partly the problem is the marshaling of pages of proof; partly the problem is the unstoppability of the train wreck that will ensue. Perhaps I’ll write about the train wreck instead.
After all, as noted in the link above, “No Praetorian Guard, once it grows muscular, reverts back to a simple barracks unit just because new leadership arrives.” And the anti-Trump leadership in both parties is growing us a Praetorian Guard, if we don’t have one already. You may be cheering it onward as we speak, depending on the latest lashings from former and current security state personnel, but what you’re cheering, if you do, enables an unelected, uncontrolled and muscular security state, one you’ve certainly been appalled by in many other contexts.
Trump will go; but the unelected state will grow only stronger, now with help from the #Resistance. Do you see the dilemma? How to write about this to a nation in love with what it will come, but only later, to hate?
How Principled Is the #Resistance?
Another troubling aspects of the “professional resistance” — for example, the MSNBC version, which constantly offers the worst of the New Dems and neoliberals for cheers by the anti-Trump crowd — is that I suspect it’s not at all principled.
For example, the charge “Russia’s attack on our election is an act of war” has been made and platformed daily for almost a year — spoken by those for whom it would be heresy to say that U.S. interference in elections around the world are also “acts of war.”
At the beginning of Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State in 2009, the Honduran military ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in a coup d’etat. The United Nations condemned the military coup and the Organization of American States suspended Honduras from its membership, calling for Zelaya’s reinstatement. Instead of joining the international effort to isolate the new regime, Clinton’s State Department pushed for a new election and decided not to declare that a military coup had occurred.
“If the United States government declares a coup, you immediately have to shut off all aid, including humanitarian aid, the Agency for International Development aid, the support that we were providing at that time for a lot of very poor people,” Clinton said when asked about Honduras in April. “So, our assessment was, we will just make the situation worse by punishing the Honduran people if we declare a coup and we immediately have to stop all aid for the people, but we should slow walk and try to stop anything that the government could take advantage of, without calling it a coup.”
Clinton said that she didn’t want Zelaya returning to power. “Zelaya had friends and allies, not just in Honduras, but in some of the neighboring countries, like Nicaragua and that we could have had a terrible civil war that would have been just terrifying in its loss of life.”
Emails that have since surfaced show that Clinton and her team worked behind the scenes to fend off efforts by neighboring democracies through the Organization of American States to restore the elected president to power.
Is this also a declaration of war by the U.S. against Honduras? Did the U.S. declare war on Iran in 1953 when the CIA unseated the democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh?
The answer to all these question may well be Yes. But would the pro-Clinton hosts and guests at MSNBC, of which there are many, say so? Especially if Clinton herself were to be tarred with that same brush? Using Trump-Russia logic, would Rachel Maddow charge Clinton with abetting an “act of war” against Honduras? Hardly likely.
As I said, I suspect the “professional resistance” to Donald Trump is not at all principled, but opportunistic and entirely one-sided, however right or wrong that one side might be.
The Failed Electoral Revolution of 2016
All this has led me to wonder what the goal of this professional #Resistance really is. The Restoration of Democracy to America? Or the Restoration of Mainstream Democrats — the anti-Sanders, anti-progressive, “you can’t have that” crowd — to power again?
If just the latter, the nation may sink more slowly beneath the neoliberal waves than it would under solid Republican rule, a plus to many people’s way of thinking, but progressives will still have an enemy who hates all they stand for, armed, enabled and in the field against them. Does strengthening the professional, media-curated #Resistance, without at the same time fighting to dethrone the Clintonists and Obamists actively moved into its front ranks, serve either the cause of progressivism or, given the increasing power of the unelected state, the interest of American democracy? One has to wonder.
The real Resistance, of course, occurred in 2016, in that year’s electoral revolt against the money-bought in both parties, and it failed in both parties. Mainstream Democrats successfully fended off the actual populist in their race, Bernie Sanders, whom they hate even to this day. Mainstream Republicans successfully elected their “populist,” the fake swamp-drainer Donald Trump, and his voters are getting nothing nothing they wanted in terms of relief from the relentless greed and austerity they rebelled against.
The nation, meanwhile, is left with a still-unsatisfied populist anger, waiting like an abscess to erupt. What form that will take in 2018 and 2020 is anyone’s guess. Failed revolutions, like bad meals, often come back stronger.
The #Resistance, Mainstream Democrats and Harvey Weinstein
Who are these mainstream Democrats? According to Thomas Frank, they’re Harvey Weinstein:
Let us now consider the peculiar politics of Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie producer. Today Weinstein is in the headlines for an astonishing array of alleged sexual harassment and assaults, but once upon a time he was renowned for something quite different: his generous patronage of liberal politicians and progressive causes.
This leading impresario of awful was an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He was a strong critic of racism, sexism and censorship. He hosted sumptuous parties to raise money for the fight against Aids.
In 2004 he was a prominent supporter of a women’s group called “Mothers Opposing Bush”. And in the aftermath of the terrorist attack against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, he stood up boldly for freedom of the press. Taking to the pages of Variety, Weinstein announced that “No one can ever defeat the ability of great artists to show us our world.”
But lest you think Frank is tarring the Clintonist-Obamist wing of the Party with Weinstein in a guilt-by-association manner, he digs deeper (emphasis mine):
Most people on the left think of themselves as resisters of authority, but for certain of their leaders, modern-day liberalism is a way of rationalizing and exercising class power. Specifically, the power of what some like to call the “creative class”, by which they mean well-heeled executives in industries like Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood.
Worshiping these very special people is the doctrine that has allowed Democrats to pull even with Republicans in fundraising and that has buoyed the party’s fortunes in every wealthy suburb in America.
That this strain of liberalism also attracts hypocrites like Harvey Weinstein, with his superlative fundraising powers and his reverence for “great artists”, should probably not surprise us. Remember, too, that Weinstein is the man who once wrote an essay demanding leniency for Roman Polanski, partially on the grounds that he too was a “great artist”.
Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in.
And then the meat of Frank’s argument:
This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.
Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.
Is the anti-Trump #Resistance, the professional broadcast version with its behind-the-scenes security state actors, simply setting us up for a Restoration of those — a Pence, a Biden, or another darling of our dual mainstream parties — who “weep tears of admiration for their own virtue” as they tank or attempt to co-opt the next Bernie Sanders, or re-destroy the last one? Stay tuned. The answer is coming soon.
And if they do, will America weep tears of thanks, or something else?