Oh Gawds, when Chomsky puts his mind to remind us of US history, the result is very depressing, even if one is aware of it beforehand.
The most important victory of the Indochina wars was in 1965, when a US-backed military coup in Indonesia led by General Suharto carried out massive crimes that were compared by the CIA to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The “staggering mass slaughter”, as the New York Times described it, was reported accurately across the mainstream, and with unrestrained euphoria.
It was “a gleam of light in Asia”, as the noted liberal commentator James Reston wrote in the Times. The coup ended the threat of democracy by demolishing the mass-based political party of the poor, established a dictatorship that went on to compile one of the worst human rights records in the world, and threw the riches of the country open to western investors. Small wonder that, after many other horrors, including the near-genocidal invasion of East Timor, Suharto was welcomed by the Clinton administration in 1995 as “our kind of guy”.
It is telling in how everyone knows and remembers Pol Pot, Mao and Kim Jong-il when they have to talk about how much worse “Communism” is than everything else, but people like Suharto, Pinochet and Franco are conveniently forgotten.