NPJ Book Review: The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins

The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World by Vincent Bevins  (2020)

My take:  It was the 1960’s. Who was the enemy? Communists?

What does the average American today know about America’s foreign relations, in particular the CIA’s support of mass extermination of unarmed civilians that are identified as leftists, disinformation campaigns and murder under the guise of justifiable killing? But who was the enemy?  The communists? Or is there something more provocative at the core of murdering masses of other human beings? Is it psychopathic pleasure? The author through extensive and impressive research offers insight how one government can topple another government.

 In this case it’s how the CIA trained, armed and helped local military units among others attempt to overthrow governments in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and Central America. They aren’t the only ones. The question was what would they leave in place?

Why would the CIA create campaigns of disinformation? Why even plan to topple another government? Is it because of that government’s genocidal acts? Was it strictly anticommunism? Or, was it also the wish to create a competitive capitalist-oriented economy and open the door for American corporations and businesses? Power and money are intimate with each other.   

The influence of lobbyists can be felt throughout history. Who pays the price? Where is the dividing line between the desire for more power and greater wealth? What’s at stake? Civilians are collateral damage. What’s new? The wealthy seek to be above the fray. Are the soldiers mere pawns, for an idea, a cause and especially someone’s bank account? Who controls the debt that is caused? I suppose if you or your family are not a victim then turning your head is much easier. If you can’t see the damage or hear the screams of terror in the middle of the night…well, then at least it’s not in your backyard.

The Jakarta Method simply means mass killing or in reality mass nurder. If we can do it in one place why not others? What was the impact on the Cold War? The images provided by the author and the death of so many innocent people are a tragic portrait of the human need for control of other humans.

The Jarkarta Method is a chilling reminder of how brutal humans can be when they feel they are in the right or rather “exceptional, which means everyone else is some below the exceptional measuring bar….… and  the temples, churches and synagogues are still attended by the killers, the innocent and the few who seek redemption.

The result of man’s inhumane treatment of other humans is that violence achieved the grotesque shape of normalcy with fear as a tactic of abuse and intimidation. 

In summary,  an accessible,  thought-provoking well-researched work.  It raises questions about what we think we know and what we have yet to discover.