Thursday, March 20, 2008

dd-c10-s10

Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 10: The Decline of the Democratic Ideal Segment 10/13
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Turning to the shining light of American liberalism, the lead editorial in the Boston Globe was headlined "Rallying to Chamorro." All those who truly "love Nicaraguans," editorial page editor Martin Nolan declared, "must now rally to Chamorro." Suppose that in 1964 someone had said that all Goldwater supporters "must now rally to Johnson." Such a person would have been regarded as a throwback to the days when the Gauleiters and Commissars recognized that everyone must rally behind the Leader. In Nicaragua, which has not yet risen to our heights, no one issued such a pronouncement. We learn more about the prevailing conception of democracy.44

Nolan goes on to explain that "Ortega was not an adept politician. His beloved masses could not eat slogans and voted with their stomachs, not their hearts." If Ortega had been more adept, he could have provided them with food -- by following Nolan's advice and capitulating to the master. Now, in this "blessing of democracy," "at long last, Nicaragua itself has spoken" -- freely and without duress.

Times correspondent David Shipler contributed his thoughts under the headline "Nicaragua, Victory for U.S. Fair Play." Following the liberal model, Shipler observes that "it is true that partly because of the confrontation with the U.S., Nicaragua's economy suffered terribly, setting the stage for the widespread public discontent with the Sandinistas reflected in Sunday's balloting." Conclusion? "The Nicaraguan election has proved that open, honorable support for a democratic process is one of the most powerful foreign policy tools at Washington's disposal" -- to be sure, after imposing "terrible suffering" to ensure the proper outcome in a "Victory for U.S. Fair Play." Shipler adds that now Nicaragua "needs help in building democratic institutions" -- which he and his colleagues are qualified to offer, given their understanding of true democracy.45

In Newsweek, Charles Lane recognized that U.S. efforts to "democratize Nicaragua" through the contra war and "devastating economic sanctions" carried "a terrible cost," including 30,000 dead and another half million "uprooted from their homes," "routine" resort to "kidnapping and assassination," and other unpleasantness. So severe were the effects that "by the end of 1988, it was pride alone that kept the Sandinistas from meeting Reagan's demand that they `cry uncle'!" But the population finally voted for "a chance to put behind them the misery brought on by 10 years of revolution and war." "In the end, it was the Nicaraguans who won Nicaragua." We must "celebrate the moment" while reflecting "on the peculiar mix of good intentions and national insecurities that led us to become so passionately involved in a place we so dimly understood."46

Editorials in the national press hailed "the good news from Nicaragua," "a devastating rebuke to Sandinistas," which "will strengthen democracy elsewhere in Central America as well" (New York Times). The editors do recognize that one question is "debatable," namely, "whether U.S. pressure and the contra war hastened or delayed the wonderful breakthrough." But "No matter; democracy was the winner," in elections free and fair. The Washington Post editors hoped that these elections would launch "Nicaragua on a conclusive change from a totalitarian to a democratic state," but are not sure. "The Masses Speak in Nicaragua," a headline reads, employing a term that is taboo apart from such special occasions. The Christian Science Monitor exulted over "another stunning assertion of democracy."47

For completeness, it is only fair to point out that at the outer limits of respectable dissidence some qualms were indeed expressed. In the New Yorker, often virtually alone in the mainstream in its departures from official theology, the editors observe that "As both Nicaragua and Panama have recently shown, it's one thing to drive a tyrant from power, another to take on the burden of bankrolling his country out of the resulting shambles." The cost to us of repairing the wreckage caused by Noriega and Ortega before we succeeded finally in driving the tyrants from power should, therefore, lead us to think twice about such meritorious exercises.48

Perhaps that is enough. I have sampled only the less egregious cases, keeping to the left-liberal spectrum. It would be hard to find an exception to the pattern.

Several features of the election coverage are particularly striking. First, the extraordinary uniformity. Second, the hatred and contempt for democracy revealed with such stark clarity across the political spectrum. And third, the utter incapacity to perceive these simple facts. Exceptions are rare indeed.


Go to the next segment.

44 Nolan, BG, Feb. 27, 1990. Nolan identified himself to the Nation as the author of these fine words.

45 Shipler, Op-Ed, NYT, March 1, 1990.

46 Lane, op. cit.,, possibly also the author of the unsigned New Republic editorial cited in note 8, to judge by the similarity of wording.

47 NYT, Feb. 27; WP-Manchester Guardian Weekly, March 11, WP weekly, March 5; CSM, Feb. 28, 1990.

48 "Talk of the Town," New Yorker, Aug. 27, 1990. 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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