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 6/11
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4. Containment without Rollback

During the Carter years, the policy-planning spectrum ran from the hawkish National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to the liberal doves: Pastor at the National Security Council and Viron Vaky, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. Brzezinski's principle was that "we have to demonstrate that we are still the decisive force in determining the political outcomes in Central America and that we will not permit others to intervene."15 In the liberal journal Foreign Policy, Vaky offered his assessment of the Reagan years and his proposals for "positive containment in Nicaragua," avoiding the Reaganite fallacies.16 Let us consider the alternative promoted by the doves.

Vaky sees two "realistic" policy choices: "containment" or "rollback." The violent "rollback" option of the Reaganites has failed, so we must seek "alternatives for containing the Sandinista revolution." "The principal arguments" for supporting the contras "have been that a longer war of attrition will so weaken the regime, provoke such a radical hardening of repression, and win sufficient support from Nicaragua's discontented population that sooner or later the regime will be overthrown by popular revolt, self-destruct by means of internal coups or leadership splits, or simply capitulate to salvage what it can."

Vaky suggests no qualms concerning these aims, but he does see a problem. The contras "have been unable to elicit significant political support within Nicaragua even with declining Sandinista popularity" and have not "registered any significant military successes" -- a most remarkable fact, incidentally, given the historically unprecedented advantages afforded them by their superpower sponsor.17 It is, furthermore, a fact that can neither be acknowledged nor discussed within the U.S. ideological institutions. The media and assorted commentary cannot, for example, ask why it is unnecessary for the KGB to fly daily supply flights with arms, food and equipment to keep the Salvadoran rebels in the field, while the contras break for their Honduran sanctuaries when deprived of a regular flow of equipment and supplies on a scale, and of a quality, that no authentic guerrillas in history could have even imagined, and would have quickly been dispersed, all agree, had the U.S. not introduced military force and threatened further retaliation to protect them in their sanctuaries at the border.

To the extent that the Administration had a diplomatic objective, Vaky continues, it has been "a negotiation on the terms and schedule under which the Sandinistas would turn over power." But "however reasonable or idealistic these demands may seem," they are not realistic, and alternatives must be considered. Note that it is "reasonable and idealistic" to demand that the elected government should "turn over power" to U.S. proxy forces that "have been unable to elicit significant political support." Again we see clearly displayed the true meaning of "democracy" in the political culture.

The preferred alternative must rest on the recognition that "none of the contending forces in Central America, including the United States, can impose a negotiated settlement entirely satisfactory to itself"; that the U.S. should be one of the "contending forces in Central America" -- indeed, the decisive one -- remains the unquestionable premise of analysis. If indeed "allowing the Sandinistas to survive would by itself be devastating to U.S. security and the global balance of power," then we must fault the Administration strategy in that the means were inadequate to the "logically inevitable...conclusion that the regime must be ousted." But the premise is dubious; perhaps the U.S. might survive as a viable society even if Nicaragua is out of control. Assuming so, we must move "toward a realistic form of containment," meeting "the same objectives that rightly concern the administration: preventing Nicaragua from posing a military threat to the United States by becoming a platform for Soviet or Cuban power; keeping the Sandinista regime from subverting its neighbors; and promoting the evolution of Nicaragua's internal system into a more open, less virulent one," perhaps even one as benign as those we have sponsored in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. To this end, we should provide economic aid for these "Central American democracies" while "draw[ing] a line for the Sandinista regime." We should demand that Nicaragua refrain from accepting Cuban and Soviet "bases, missiles, and high-performance aircraft," an imminent threat to our security in the past years, apparently.

In our magnanimity, we should permit Nicaragua "to participate in a multilateral development program to the degree it moves toward a more open, pluralistic society" like its neighbors, which are "pluralistic" in that the efficient use of violence has eliminated any challenge to the "democrats": the security forces in effective control, the oligarchy, business interests, and rising professional classes, all "moderate" in that they recognize the need to satisfy the common interests of the master of the region. And we must take steps "to deal with the threat of Nicaraguan aggression or subversion against its neighbors" by means of a peace treaty calling for "no aggression, no cross-border subversion, no terrorism, no foreign bases, specified armed force levels, observance of human rights, and amnesty for combatants"; the events of the past decade do not, evidently, suggest that such conditions need be imposed on some actors in the Central American drama apart from the treacherous Sandinistas. The advantage of this approach is that "it would catch the Sandinistas in a web of international commitments" and "make it more difficult for the Soviet Union and Cuba to challenge or sabotage a settlement." This too is a most natural proposal, in the light of the firm commitment of the United States to such instruments of international order as the United Nations and the World Court, and its scrupulous observance of the legal obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force in international affairs. The U.S. should further insist on "border inspection teams" and other measures of verification -- of a sort that Nicaragua has requested since 1981, rejected consistently by the United States, and generally unreported.

In the light of the readily-established facts, these policy proposals from a knowledgeable Central American specialist at the liberal extreme of the spectrum provide considerable insight into the prevailing political culture. We might ask ourselves, again, how we would react to a similar performance on the part of some enemy commissar. Whatever the answer, at home it is regarded as the height of judicious assessment and responsible analysis.

Vaky observes that there is a "larger problem": to ensure compliance with any agreement. "The United States frankly will have to bear the major share of enforcement, and that means being prepared to use force if necessary -- for example, to repel an invasion, to patrol borders or sea and airspace, or to remove bases or installations established in violation of the treaty." Not falling under this injunction are U.S. bases in Honduras, or in Panama and Puerto Rico, or the sole foreign military installation in Cuba, the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo.

We should not suppose, Vaky continues, "that Americans do not have the will or staying power to support the use of force abroad and therefore will back down from enforcing any settlement or any security line drawn." We have "maintained a strategic containment line around Cuba for 25 years," and Americans will show the same fortitude in the case of the Nicaraguan threat, Vaky assures us. Thus if the liberal model prevails, Nicaraguans might look forward to economic strangulation; terrorist attacks to destroy industrial installations, blow up civilian aircraft, sink fishing boats, and bombard hotels; the spreading of epidemics to destroy livestock; and the other concomitants of our "strategic containment" of Cuba for 25 years, all happily forgotten here -- and, incidentally, eliminated from the new "scholarly discipline" of terrorology.

Finally, Vaky turns to "the most difficult" objective to achieve: "the objective of promoting Nicaraguan self-determination," which motivated our "reasonable and idealistic" effort to transfer power, by force, into the hands of terrorist elements unable to gain political support. But we will have to pursue "the objective of a more open Nicaraguan political system," and the "self-determination" to which we have been dedicated, "by other strategies"; those just outlined.

Go to the next segment.

15 Pastor, op. cit., citing Brzezinski's diaries.

16 Foreign Policy, Fall 1987.

17 See Culture of Terrorism, 90f. 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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