Making the Economy ‘Scream’

Americans who have studied CIA destabilization campaigns around the world may see some striking parallels to the strategy of Tea Party Republicans who have provoked a government shutdown and now are threatening a credit default. The idea is to make the country appear ungovernable and to make the economy “scream.”

This approach is similar to what CIA operatives do to get rid of disfavored political leaders in other countries, such as when President Richard Nixon ordered the spy agency to sabotage Chile’s economy and upset its political stability in the early 1970s.

President Barack Obama runs to the stage at the M. Luis Construction Company in Rockville, Maryland, before delivering remarks about the government shutdown, Oct. 3, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The CIA’s thinking is that most people just want a chance to make a living. So, if an economic crisis can be ginned up – while propaganda outlets put the blame on the government leaders who are ostensibly in charge – then the people will ultimately turn against those leaders in an effort to restore normality.

In effect, the CIA takes the political process hostage by inflicting economic pain on the average citizen, sponsoring “populist” disorders, spreading confusion through propaganda outlets and then waiting for a weary population to give in. This technique has worked in many countries over the years – and surely the idea long predated the formation of the CIA in the late 1940s.

The Chilean Episode

But some of the best-studied examples of CIA operations have similar patterns to what the American Right is doing now to destabilize the U.S. economy and discredit President Barack Obama. For instance, in the early 1970s, Salvador Allende, a socialist politician, won the presidency of Chile through free and fair elections and began taking steps aimed at improving the conditions of the country’s poor.

To stop this perceived spread of “socialism,” President Nixon directed the CIA to engage in psychological warfare against Allende’s government and to make the Chilean economy “scream.” U.S. intelligence agencies secretly sponsored Chilean news outlets, like the influential newspaper El Mercurio, and supported “populist” uprisings of truckers and housewives. On the economic front, the CIA coordinated efforts to starve the Chilean government of funds and to drive unemployment higher

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