15 December, 2006

the orphans of Italian pilots who died in the war

Mickey Z: The U.S. government hates democracy (lessons from Italy)

Friday, December 08 2006 @ 10:32 AM PST

War Machine

As far as I concerned, we can't put forward enough reminders of how the
U.S. government -- and the corporations that own it -- do business.
Platitudes about peace, freedom, justice, etc. aside, the land of the
free is not even remotely interested in spreading democracy. There is an
abundance of evidence to back up this assertion. For now, I offer the
example of post-World War II Italy. Mussolini was gone but the U.S.
elites had no intention of letting Italy slip through the cracks.

When the war-weary Italian people went to the polls in 1946, the Italian
Communist Party and the Socialist Party combined to gain more votes and
more seats in the Constituent Assembly election than the U.S.-favored
Christian Democrats. This was not surprising, considering that a worker-
and peasant-based movement fought off six German divisions during the
liberation of northern Italy...with the invaluable aid of the Communist
party. As a 1948 election loomed on the horizon, however, the U.S.
realized that certain perceptions of reality needed to be seriously
altered. "It was at this point that the U.S. began to train its big
economic and political guns upon the Italian people," William Blum
explains in <i>Killing Hope</i>. "All the good ol' Yankee know-how, all
the Madison Avenue savvy in the art of swaying public opinion, all the
Hollywood razzmatazz would be brought to bear on the 'target market'."

Downplaying the quite impressive anti-fascist credentials of the
communists and the potentially embarrassing record of collaboration with
Mussolini displayed by the Christian Democrats, the U.S. cleverly framed
the battle around, what Blum calls "the question of 'democracy' vs.
'communism' (the idea of 'capitalism' remaining discreetly to one
side)," and the most powerful election issue was that of U.S. aid.

The influential American media obediently did its part with the January
21, 1947 <i>New York Times</i> proclaiming that, "Some observers here
feel that a further Leftward swing in Italy would retard aid." By March
22, 1948, <i>Time</i> magazine was labeling a potential leftist victory
in Italy to be nothing short of "the brink of catastrophe." As the
election neared, the CIA pulled out all the stops. Blum has documented
some of the steps taken in this "awesome mobilization of resources." A
few representative examples should offer an idea of the propaganda's
scope and depth:

A letter-writing campaign from Italian-Americans to their friends and
families in Italy was guided by "sample letters" provided by the U.S.,
that included such passages as: "A communist victory would ruin Italy.
The United States would withdraw aid and a world war would probably result."

Short-wave broadcasts to Italy warned that "under a communist
dictatorship in Italy," many of the "nation's industrial plants would be
dismantled and shipped to Russia and millions of Italy's workers would
be deported to Russia for forced labor."

The stars of Hollywood, like Gary Cooper and Frank Sinatra, were called
upon to make Voice of America radio broadcasts and/or engage in
fundraisers for causes like "the orphans of Italian pilots who died in
the war."

As for more direct aid, the CIA admitted to giving $1 million to Italian
"center parties," although Blum says the figure could be as high as $10
million. In case all the funny stuff failed, the CIA also took the
precaution of organizing Operation Gladio, a secret paramilitary group
in Italy, "with hidden stockpiles of weapons and explosives dotting the
map," says author Mark Zepezauer. While the rationale for such
intervention was the always-handy "threat of Soviet invasion," Zepezauer
reveals the actual purpose of Operation Gladio, e.g. its "15,000 troops
were trained to overthrow the Italian government should it stray from
the straight and narrow."

They needn't have bothered because, after the circus left town, the
Christian Democrats stood as the clear winner with 48 percent of the
vote. The future course of Italy had effectively been charted.

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

Mickey Z. can be on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

COMMENTS

Authored by: ilsott on Saturday, December 09 2006 @ 07:01 AM PST
There's an even more sordid and tragic story in post-ww2 italy as the US
tried to
break the back of the popular resistance movement built up. Chomsky details
the aid the US gave to to fascists to ruin the 'good example' of the italian
partisans.

Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 09 2006 @ 08:30 AM PST
Not sure how much more sorid it is. it was the same thing all the powers
did in the face of antifascist resistance: fuck it over and clean up
when the fascists are done with them. the soviets did it in poland, the
brits and the americans in italy, and those are just the prominent examples.

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20061208103247655

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, December 15, 2006

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