Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oh, that fun thing called historiography -- part I

This post will be a two-parter.  Almost all historical events have different interpretations, but when it comes to a CIA-backed coup of an alleged communist president, historians are still trying to make sense of the events.

Your reading is one interpretation.  In class tomorrow, we will watch part of a documentary on Allende that provides another.

So for part I -- according to the Wall Street Journal article, why might the US have been justified in staging its coup?  What were elements of Allende's rule that may have been misunderstood by the public?

Does it matter that we take into consideration the source of this article (Wall Street Journal).  Why?


  1. there was a misunderstanding about what connection Allende's had with Russia. it was thought that he and the KGB were close. Allende also was seen as a "ends justify the means" which was associated with Stalin and Castro. This association caused the US to rethink its alliance and increase secret operations. the link between chile's soldiers and the training they received in Cuba also made the US weary of the leadership Allende brought to Chile.

  2. the article states that under Allende's rule there was utter chaos. he believed that the means he took would be justified by the end all for the greater good, and this is a much debated political tactic in terms of ethics. America used this and Allende's misunderstood relationship with Russia to justify the coup. However, the public may have misunderstood this about Allende and believed him to not be the cause of the chaos.

  3. "Of the three souls of Allende -- the social
    democrat, the communist and the soldier -- none was prevalent, and that brought on the chaos."
    "Allende was never committed to a single approach and that made him exceedingly ineffective."
    "Our research shows that Allende was neither a social
    democrat nor a euro-communist. He was a Marxist."
    "Whether the sins of the left and the impending threat of Marxist
    totalitarianism should be considered in any trial against the general is something best left to legal debate."

    So basically, the people could not entirely figure out Allende and his methodology anddd he was a Marxist, so this pretty much justifies the coup. Given that the Wall Street Journal is a US source, it is important that we consider that because the US has different views than the Chileans themselves.

  4. The US may have been justified in staging its coup because although he was not a communist, he was a Marxist. The article says that he had "a Socialist head and Communist hands", so even if he wash't a Communist, his actions were Communist-like. Another issue was that the Soviet Union was the "big brother" of Chile during the period of Allende. The elements of his tactics that were similar to Communists were misunderstood by the public. It does matter that we take into consideration the source of this article because it is written in American perspective, not Chilean.

  5. Allende's view of "the ends justify the means" is enough to make anyone nervous, especially the US who were against all things remotely communist...or Marxist in this case. This may have been misunderstood by the public as perhaps took his phrasing the wrong way

  6. Like Mikey, I believe that there is a definite misunderstanding between the intentions of Allende and the United States. He good a lot of his ideas from communist leaders and during the Cold War that basically mean that you too were communist so that is why the United States decides that he is a threat. Even as the article says, Chilean born victor farias describes that Allende had "a socialist head and communist hands."

  7. Allende's Problem was that, although he was communist, never really stated clearly how much he believed into the Marxist ideals and how close he was to the Soviet Union and the Russian. The documentary today had people who knew him personally talking about his political beliefs. They said that he was not at all as extreme as the Soviets or the Russians. He rejected for example the idea of having a single party. But to the Americans, any kind of communist seemed to pose a threat. In the Wall Street Article, they picture Allende as a lot more extreme, for example they said he had close relationships to the KGB. This makes their involvement seem more justified. They also say that Allende wasn't popular with the people in Chile, which I am also hesitating to believe after today's documentation. It is hard to decide which interpretation is more believable.

  8. One glaring justification that the article brings up is the fact that Allende can be compared to Stalin and Castro in his "ends justify the means" mentality. Stalin and Castro were some of the most brutal and threatening leaders of the time, so I assume that this connection would produce fear and hence justify the ousting of Allende. In addition the article talks about how he was causing "anarchy" in Chile because he could not choose if he was a "democrat, communist, or soldier" and that was a large problem because his lack of direction would only deteriorate in the future.

  9. Allende seem to remain as a piece of human tissue that looks grayish, which made us nervous and starting to telling ourselves that it is a cancer cell and inclined to have it removed anyways.