Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 8: The Agenda of the Doves: 1988 Segment 3/11
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3. The Freedom to Act Responsibly

As in 1980, it is worthwhile attending carefully to the words of the experts as the new Administration took charge in 1988, particularly the liberal doves who set the limits of permissible dissent, in effect announcing: "Thus far, and no further." As amply documented elsewhere,6 through the Reagan years the media allowed virtually no challenge to the project of "establishing democracy" in the U.S.-backed terror states of Central America and "restoring democracy" in Nicaragua, a "noble cause" even if the means were flawed in the latter case because the proxy forces attacking Nicaragua proved to be an "imperfect instrument." Later assessments rarely depart from these doctrinal conditions.

An enlightening perspective is provided by political scientist Robert Pastor, director of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs on the National Security Council through the Carter years, in a valuable study of U.S. policy towards Nicaragua.7 The basic "question of substance" that he raises is whether it is "possible for a powerful, idealistic nation like the United States and small, poor nations on its periphery to establish fair and respectful relationships." His policy proposals have to do with "ways in which future succession crises and revolutions could be managed more effectively by the United States"; the role of "manager" is assumed, along with the principle that "U.S. interventionism" had been "almost always undertaken with good intentions."

There has hardly been a figure in the political or ideological system more committed to liberal values and avoidance of forceful means, so Pastor's perceptions gain particular interest in assessing the prospects for a New World Order. Pastor is highly critical of the Reaganite effort to "promote democracy in Nicaragua" by supporting the contras. He rejects the common belief that the Sandinistas alone are to blame for the tensions and conflict. Rather, he sees the problem as one of "mutual obsessions" on the part of Managua and Washington: "both governments were insecure and distrusted each other so completely that they were unable to consider any way to influence the other except by force."

By recognizing "mutual obsessions" and "insecurity" on both sides, Pastor stakes out a position at the far left extreme of the admissible spectrum, opposed to the dominant view that the Sandinistas alone bear responsibility for the violence and suffering of these years. On similar grounds, President Carter held that we owe the Vietnamese no debt because "the destruction was mutual." In contrast, those who are not given to his "moralistic excesses" (p. 255) assign sole responsibility to Hanoi and its Vietcong minions (or their masters in the Kremlin and Peking) for the "mutual destruction."

Despite the sharing of responsibility, the blame for the reliance on force by Nicaragua and the United States "to influence the other" falls primarily on the Sandinistas, Pastor holds. Because of Sandinista "preconceptions of imperialism, the United States was limited in its ability to influence them positively," for example, to influence them to accept negotiations, which they " a sign of weakness" (and in reality, regularly advocated, while the U.S. consistently ruled out these and other peaceful means, unattractive to a contestant who is politically weak though militarily and economically strong).

Sandinista responsibility goes still deeper, Pastor continues:

By calling their opponents class enemies and mercenaries, the Sandinistas have precluded a dialogue that could permit them to negotiate an exit from their war and their national predicament. Instead, the harder they fight, the further they move from their original aims. The Sandinistas sought independence, but they have been forced to become more dependent on the Soviet Union. They sought to build a new nation, but they have turned their nation into an army. They sought to improve the quality of life for the poor, but it is the poor who are fighting and dying. The important advances made at the beginning of the revolution in health care and literacy and their commendable efforts at land reform have been jeopardized by the militarization of the country and the diversion of scarce resources to the war.

Thus, while the Reaganites overreacted to Sandinista provocations, nevertheless the responsibility for the virtual demolition of Nicaragua falls primarily on the Sandinistas, because of their verbal denunciation of the domestic opposition. Such harsh treatment of dissidents is deeply offensive to the United States. To measure the depth of this concern, we need only reflect upon the reaction of the Carter and Reagan administrations to what was happening in El Salvador and Guatemala during the same years, or the treatment of dissident opinion in the United States itself during the first and second World Wars.8

A second cause for the conflict, Pastor continues, was the support of the Sandinistas for those driven to the hills by U.S.-backed terror in El Salvador. Reacting with excessive zeal to this crime, the U.S. produced "the Reagan Doctrine on national liberation [which] came to resemble the Sandinistas' `revolution without borders'." This last reference is a tribute to one of the great achievements of Reaganite Agitprop ("public diplomacy"): a speech by Tomás Borge, in which he emphasized that Nicaragua would not try to export its revolution but rather hoped to be a model for others, was brilliantly converted by U.S. commissars into a threat to conquer the hemisphere ("a revolution without borders") -- a propaganda coup so useful that it remained quite immune to the exposures from the first days of these conscious State Department lies, and has by now been established as virtual official history.9

Go to the next segment.

6 See Culture of Terrorism, Necessary Illusions.

7 Pastor, Condemned to Repetition (Princeton, 1987).

8 For comparison of the record in Nicaragua with that of the United States and its most favored client (Israel; comparison with the U.S. terror states is an absurdity, of course), see Necessary Illusions, Appendix II, sec. 2, and Appendix V, secs. 6-8. Also Michael Linfield, Freedom Under Fire (South End, 1990).

9 See Turning the Tide, 270; Culture of Terrorism, 219f.; Necessary Illusions, 71f. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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posted by u2r2h at 10:26 PM


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