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by Róbinson Rojas Sandford (1996)

During the period 1948 to 1990 there was one military coup per
developing country every five years.

Between 1960 and 1980, three-fourths of Latin American states, one-half
of less developed societies in Asia and two-thirds of the African
states experienced military coups.

This period was the period when the U.S. military-industrial complex
developed and have its political satellites practicing the doctrine of
national security in those less developed societies "menaced" by
anti-capitalist revolutions real or imagined.

The widespread incidence of coups by professional militaries in Africa,
the Middle East and Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s with the
specific goal of fundamentally reshaping the rules of the political
game, was an outcome of doctrine of national security, as created in
the U.S. Army for the consumption of the Third World countries under
the influence of the U.S. military-industrial hegemonic power.

In the Latin American continent, the armies in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay
and Brazil were developing, in the early sixties, a political programme
which involved:

1.- restore social order
2.- deal firmly with "subversives"
3.- eliminate corruption
4.- rule to protect the national interest
5.- emphasis on efficient governance -technocratic and unbiased
6.- uproot political conflicts
7.- achieve military law and order as an environment for economic
8.- when all the above has been achieved and the nation re-educated
    both politically and economically, power could gradually be
    transferred to "responsible" politicians.

Of course, the above were only draft points as the outcome of a new
point of view about the role of the military in a modern society as
developed in the U.S. army and political establishment.

The old point of view (old military professionalism) focused in external
warfare, the new professionalism focused in internal warfare, the aim
now was secure internal security and national development through the
creation of a new model for development, a model that was going to be
military-bureaucratic and authoritarian-developmentist.

In the 1960s, under U.S. military leadership, the Indonesian, Brazilian,
Peruvian and Chilean armies underwent a period of ideological and
technical transformation.

In the late 1950s and 1960s the old military professionalism was not
adequate anymore to face the "communist" threat in Africa, Asia and
Latin America.

The old military professionalism had the following points of view:

a) on the nature of modern warfare and the requisite skills: modern
   warfare demands highly specialized skills;
b) on the impact of pursuit of professionalism: there was
   incompatibility between being an officer and social and political
c) on the relation between political and military spheres: the functions
   of the officer became distinct of those of the politician and the
d) on the scope of the military concern: extreme distinction between
   military and civilian leaders;
e) on the impact of professionalism on military attitudes to politics:
   indifferent to political ideologies of society;
f) on the impact of professionalism on civil-military relations:

But, by the 1950s and 1960s, the success of revolutionary warfare
techniques against conventional armies in China, Indochina, Algeria
and Cuba, led the military establishment controlled by the U.S. to
turn their attention to think about military and political strategies
to combat and prevent internal revolutionary warfare.

By 1961, the U. S. military assistance programs to Latin America were
largely devoted to exporting doctrines concerned with the military's
role in
       1.- counterinsurgency;
       2.- civic action, and
       3.- nation building.

The U.S. School of the Americas (in the Panama Canal Zone) devised
curricula emphasizing the study of answers to the following:
-what are the main social, political and economic conditions which
 facilitate the appearance and growth of revolutionary protest?
-what are the best military techniques to prevent or crush insurgents

From the above, a "new professionalism" evolved:


Function of the military   External security        Internal security

Civilian attitudes         All civilian accept      Segments of society
toward governments         legitimacy of            challenge government
                           government               legitimacy. They are
                                                    the "internal enemy"

Military skills required   Highly specialized       Highly interrelated
                           skills incompatible      political, economic
                           with political skills    and military skills

Scope of military          Restricted to military   Unrestricted.
professional action        affairs                  Military and
                                                    political affairs
                                                    are connected.

Impact of professional     Renders the military     Politicizes the
socialization              politically neutral      military

Impact of civil-military   Contributes to an        Contribute to
relations                  apolitical military      military-political
                           and civilian control     managerialism and
                                                    role expansion

Military attitude toward   Neutral                  Military see all
political challenge                                 political challenges
                                                    as menaces to
                                                    internal security

Therefore, the new concept of "internal war" involved the military in
a process of surveillance and intelligence-gathering as if a section
of the population in their country were "enemies" in a "war". From
here, internal war was a political process in which a section of the
population had to be not only defeated, but also destroyed.


Since the 1950s, the Chilean military schooling system was very
sophisticated and mirrored the civilian academic establishment.

By and large, to be eligible for promotion to the rank of general an
army line officer was required to graduate from

1.- The Military Academy (equivalent to secondary school)
2.- The Junior's Officer's School (foundation courses for entrance to
3.- The General Staff School (equivalent to university)
4.- Superior War College (postgraduate studies)
5.- The School of the Americas (U. S. Army's Southern Command in the
                                Panama Canal Zone)

In Latin America and Indonesia there was a U.S. military advisory
mission in their Superior War College.

The Superior War College in Chile and Brazil had 7 academic divisions:
1.- Political affairs
2.- Psychological-social affairs
3.- Economic affairs
4.- Military affairs
5.- Logistical and mobilization affairs
6.- Intelligence and counterintelligence
7.- Doctrine and coordination

There was also a close connection with civil academic organizations.
In Chile, el Instituto de Estudios Internacionales (International
Studies Institute) was the establishment where high ranking officers
studied international politics, marxism, political economy and

The major ideological points of the doctrine of national security

-we live in a climate of worldwide undeclared war that will decide the
 destiny of Western civilization (by Western civilization meaning the
 societies having capitalist systems of production and led by the
-an effective policy of national security demands a strong government
 that can rationally maximize the output of the economy and effectively
 disarticulate attempts to disunite the country.
-an effective policy of national security demand to eliminate old
 political forces and destroy communist political forces which
 are "the internal enemy".

In 1969, the United States vice-president, Nelson Rockefeller, after
visiting some countries in Latin America released a "Rockefeller
Commission Report on The State of the America" stating that:

..."a new type of military man is coming to the fore and often becoming
a major force for constructive social changes in the American republics.
Motivated by increasing impatience with corruption, inefficiency and a
stagnant political order, the new military man is prepared to adapt
his authoritarian tradition to the goals of social and economic

On the night of 11th September 1973, after murdering the President of
Chile, Salvador Allende, to start "constructive social changes", one of
the four members of the military junta, Admiral Merino, explained
publicly why they were killing thousands of civilian in a systematic
"We are the nation's surgeons. When a patient has cancer in his leg,
it is eradicated and the patient is saved. We are eradicating Marxism...
We are conducting a surgical operation...Our work is humanitarian".
(R. Rojas, "The Murder of Allende", Harper&Row, 1975, sections
 "Now what?" and "A problem for the U.S.")
After that, during twenty years, the generals slaughtered political
enemies to create conditions for a return to "democratic" governments
under military vigilance, of course.

As already documented several times over in the United Nation's
Commission for Human Rights, military and civilian interrogators use
the following methods of torture to extort confessions and prepare
conditions for a return to "democratic" governments:

 1.- Both men and women are given electric shocks in the genitals. This
    happens on a metal bed to which the naked victim is bound with
    his/her arms and legs spread apart. This torture is called
 2.- Blows are dealt to all parts of the body an in many cases this
    results in the deliberate rupture of the ear-drum.
 3.- The victim receives burns to parts of the body by cigarettes or
    other forms of direct naked flame.
 4.- The person to be interrogated has his/her nose and mouth blocked
    in order to bring on suffocation.
 5.- For periods at a time the prisoner's head is put into a bucket
    filled with water or excrement.
 6.- Women detainees are raped.
 7.- Women detainees are forced to have sexual intercourse with dogs.
 8.- Hot iron objects are inserted into the vagina of women.
 9.- Iron objects are inserted into the victim's anus.
10.- Detainees are made to comply by threats that if they refuse to
     make any statement their families will be tortured. Sometimes
     these threats are really carried out.
11.- Pharmaceutical products, especially drugs, are commonly used in
     the interrogations.
12.- Hypnosis is part of the interrogation procedure.

In the last few years, "protected democracies" in Chile, Brazil,
Argentina and Uruguay have been managing the economic system implanted
by the generals. The results are rather dramatic: more poverty and
more wealth.

For an account of the above, see
R.Rojas: 15 years of monetarism in Latin America: time to scream