'The CIA Did It': Conspiracy Theories in the Service of the 'Common Good'

Perhaps the most stomach-turning recurrence of Yuri Andropov's anti-American narrative is Osama bin Laden's 2007 taped speech, in which the leader of al-Qaeda recycled Vietnam-era leftist legends, applying them to Iraq:

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation. And so Kennedy was killed, and al-Qaeda wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing.

Compare this to a statement by Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's leftist president, with regards to Honduras: "If the oligarchies break the rules of the game as they have done, the people have the right to resistance and combat, and we are with them." True to the established template, Chavez rejects the possibility of common people resisting a leftist takeover, so the culprit must be some mysterious unidentified "oligarchies." Painting by numbers, he predictably ends up with a picture of a CIA conspiracy.

Only this time, given President Obama's ideological affinity with the ousted would-be dictator, Chavez's caricature of defenders of liberty as CIA puppets isn't working.

An expert in the region, J. Michael Waller, explains that the CIA indeed has been involved in Latin American politics with varying degrees of success:

One of its state-of-the-art operations occurred in the early 1950s when President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow the elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, who was subverting Guatemala's fragile democratic institutions to set up a leftist regime. The U.S. correctly joined many Guatemalans in fearing that Arbenz would bring his country into the Soviet camp. This was early in the Cold War, and it pre-dated Fidel Castro's revolution.

But that successful operation also happened to be the last of its kind:

Had President Kennedy not gotten cold feet and aborted the CIA-run attempt to overthrow Castro in 1961, abandoning Cuban resistance fighters at the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro never would have consolidated his power and subverted the hemisphere and other parts of the world, and we never would have had a Cuban Missile Crisis.

Most of the other CIA political operations in Latin America were aimed at defeating the pro-Soviet left; interestingly, the CIA covertly funded the center-left, including socialists, to keep them from falling into the Soviet camp. The CIA almost never covertly supported right-wing forces; those forces were perfectly capable of operating on their own, and many were clumsy and even unnecessarily brutal in crushing the extreme left.

When the Marxists took power in Nicaragua in 1979, with the help of Jimmy Carter, it was the poor rural peasants who led the counter-revolutionary revolt. Campesinos from the countryside took up arms to fight the socialist revolution, because the Sandinistas began taking away their land, forcing them to work on collective farms, and conscripted them into a gigantic revolutionary army with Soviet weapons and Soviet-bloc trainers. The peasant resistance was supported by elements of the old Somoza regime who were the only ones at the time with military leadership experience, but the rank-and-file combatants were overwhelmingly poor peasants. Many of the fighters were former Sandinistas who had grown disillusioned with the socialist ideal.

Waller does not hide his sympathies:

I know this firsthand because I was with the Nicaraguan "contra" fighters at the time, between 1983 and 1989. They got started on their own and, without any foreign assistance, formed Latin America's largest peasant guerrilla army since the Mexican Revolution. The "contras" had a functioning army two or three years before receiving American military support, authorized by Congress and administered through the CIA. They succeeded in preventing the Marxists from establishing a socialist dictatorship.

Today the CIA operates more tightly than ever under strict laws and bureaucratic guidelines, and the oversight committees in Congress are informed of every significant covert operation. Every such operation requires a presidential "finding." The CIA cannot operate on its own. So if the CIA was involved in ousting former Honduran President Zelaya, as Hugo Chavez is claiming, then it was with the personal authorization of President Barack Obama and with the knowledge of the Democrat leadership in both houses of Congress.

The lunatic left like Hugo Chavez need the CIA boogeyman to justify their own extremism. We don't hear such anti-CIA accusations coming from the more mature, "responsible" left as in the leaders of countries like Chile and Brazil. Not even the newly elected president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes of the Marxist FMLN party, is accusing the CIA of being involved in the Honduran events.

So if the CIA was behind the ouster of Hugo Chavez's Honduran ally, it would be because Barack Obama personally authorized it. The idea is an absurdity on its face.