WHETHER the United States directly intervened to support the coup in Chile is a matter of great interest but little overriding significance. Less visible U.S. policies during the Allende years had already cleared the way for the generals. The Nixon government cut off all but military aid to Chile and blocked the country's attempts to secure credit and thereby relieve its staggering debt: The U.S. added to the country's economic problems. At the same time, the U.S. continued to channel funds to the Chilean armed forces, strengthening a powerful and conservative sector of Chilean society. The warplanes that bombed President Allende's palace were made in the U.S.
The U.S. quite obviously was pleased by the military takeover. The generals, as anticipated, have jumped to invite American investment back into the country, and democratic scruples have always taken a back seat to economic considerations in U.S. foreign policy.
Still, it was somewhat surprising to see how fast the Nixon government moved to recognize officially the military dictatorship. The People's Republic of China was established in 1949, yet the United States walled it off from the rest of the world until only a couple of years ago. Despite the highly touted relaxation of tension in recent years, the U.S. still has not recognized China.
Richard Nixon was always one of the most vocal opponents of liberals who argued that diplomatic recognition of a country did not imply moral approval of its policies. Opponents of U.S. recognition of the People's Republic, Nixon in their vanguard, retorted that as a great moral force in the world, the U.S. had a commitment to register its disapproval of repressive governments.
The Chilean military dictatorship is certainly repressive. It overthrew a legally elected president, subverted the Chilean constitution, and is at present murdering its opponents after outlawing their political parties. One would have difficulty in finding a government better suited for diplomatic ostracism from the international community.
The United States has acted once again to undermine the very principles it purports to uphold, and Chile has been plunged into the darkness of military dictatorship. A beacon of hope for the rest of Latin America has been extinguished. For the moment, we must try to pressure the U.S. government to stop the killing. For the future, we must hope that somehow the Left can regroup and that socialism will return to Chile. And we must strive to insure that in the future the American government does not kill any more dreams.