Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 9: The Mortal Sin of Self-Defense Segment 2/7
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Congress and media responded in the expected manner. Ortega "united Congress and the Administration against him," the Times accurately reported. Both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn Ortega in bitter terms (the Senate, 95-0). The Sandinistas must "end their aggression in the region" and "their tyranny over their own people," the resolution read. Congressional doves trembled with indignation. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts described Ortega as without a doubt "Nicaragua's worst enemy," whatever Nicaraguans may think. Representative David Obey said "Daniel Ortega is a damned fool and he's always been a damned fool." Senator Patrick Leahy added that he has again demonstrated his "remarkable ability of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory." TV news, again displaying the objectivity and professionalism for which the media are renowned, referred to Ortega and General Noriega as "the bad boys in the backyard." The respected liberal commentator Daniel Schorr asked sarcastically whether Ortega is a double agent working for the CIA. The Times editors denounced him as "foolish and thuggish"; his "stunning misstep" has "confounded hopes for free elections and an end to his nation's interminable war," thrown "a grenade into a promising, arduously wrought regional peace plan," and "undermines Secretary of State Baker" and his carefully crafted efforts for peace and democracy. The theme that Ortega had again struck a blow at the liberals who have sacrificed so much for his cause was sounded with much dismay and anger. With the notable exception of Anthony Lewis, who asked whether we would "suffer in silence" in the face of unremitting military and economic warfare by some unimaginable superpower, the chorus of denunciation was marred by scarcely a discordant note.7

Commentators aghast at Sandinista perfidy trotted out the familiar litany of complaints. Daniel Schorr informed his readers that "Mr. Ortega kept the pot boiling with such things as joining Fidel Castro in endorsing the massacre of pro-democracy students in Beijing in 1989." This was one of the fables concocted by the propaganda system as it sought to exploit the tragedy in Tiananmen Square to defame its various foreign and domestic enemies, immediately exposed as a lie in the mainstream press by Randolph Ryan and Alexander Cockburn, and long ago conceded to have been a pure invention. Another "outrageous" act, Schorr continues, took place in 1985, when "virtually singlehandedly, Mr. Ortega made Congress reverse itself and vote for more aid for the contras." Ortega forced a reluctant Congress to abandon its efforts on his behalf by following Russian orders to show up in Moscow and embrace Gorbachev, Schorr explains. He is referring to what historian Thomas Walker describes as Ortega's "carefully balanced trip to Europe in May 1985" in an effort to obtain aid, with "stops in both Eastern Bloc and Western European countries," which "the Reagan administration, the media, and a surprisingly large number of liberals in the U.S. Congress characterized simply as `Ortega's trip to Moscow'." For Schorr, as for an unsurprisingly large number of other liberals, Nicaragua's attempt to obtain aid when the U.S. is trying to destroy its economy is a shameful act.8

The Times news columns presented the same picture of Ortega's skill at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, offering as proof two examples: Ortega's "trip to Moscow," "outraging American opponents and supporters alike"; and the "crackdown on internal dissent" which provoked "sharp, astonished international condemnation" in July 1988, when the Sandinistas again confounded their friends and "shot themselves in the temple," a "foreign expert" noted. The latter charge refers to another great triumph of the U.S. propaganda system. It is indeed true that there was sharp, astonished condemnation after the police broke up a rally at Nandaime, using tear gas for the first time ever (after having been "pelted...with sticks and rocks," the Times reported in paragraph 13, a fact that quickly disappeared), leading to an impassioned condemnation of this "brutal suppression of human rights" by Congress (91 to 4 in the Senate, 358 to 18 in the House) and indignant front-page stories and commentary on Sandinista barbarity that persisted for months. At the very same time, security forces used tear gas and force to break up rallies and protests in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, eliciting no indignation -- and virtually no news coverage. A reasonable judgment in the case of the U.S. terror states, where actions comparable to Nandaime are hardly noteworthy in the context of the regular atrocities continuing right through that period -- also with little notice and virtually no public condemnation.9

Just as the Times was recalling the famous case when the Sandinistas approached the regular lesser abuses of the U.S. clients, Israeli paratroopers used force to disperse a prayer service and sit-in by 100 Americans and local inhabitants at Beit Sahour who were protesting the brutal Israeli reaction to nonviolent disobedience in this West Bank town (Israeli peace activists and journalists were kept away by the army); and Cory Aquino's forces used water cannons and tear gas to drive off thousands of demonstrators protesting her refusal to allow Ferdinand Marcos's body to be brought home for burial. These are just two of the regular occurrences in U.S. client states that the Times considered unworthy of mention; again, with reason, since they pale into insignificance in the face of far more severe abuses by these and other U.S. clients that pass with little or no report or comment and no show of annoyance.10

The Times editors were particularly incensed that Ortega should respond with force to "the pinpricks of contras," thus revealing that his "new spirit of conciliation" is a fraud. Surely the U.S. would not resort to force if thousands of Cuban-run marauders were killing and kidnapping in the hills of Kentucky (hundreds of thousands, to make the analogy more accurate). Imagine how the editors would thunder in righteous anger if Israel were to call upon its army in response to the pinpricks of PLO infiltrators murdering and kidnapping Kibbutz members or reserve soldiers on their way to register.

At the presidential summit, "the pinpricks of the contras" were regarded somewhat more seriously than in the Times Manhattan offices. Brook Larmer reported that the Latin American presidents said "they sympathized with the ruling Sandinistas' frustration over the stalled plan to dismantle the contra camps in Honduras," "understood [Ortega's] anger at the escalating contra attacks within Nicaragua," and recognized that he "has legitimate gripes," while questioning whether suspension of the cease-fire was the right move. Larmer quoted a foreign diplomat in Managua who added that "There are so many Latin countries with insurgencies that a lot of countries would be hypocritical to criticize the Sandinistas for doing exactly what they are doing themselves -- carrying out an aggressive counterinsurgency effort."11

But hypocrisy is the name of the game, and anyone who knows the rules will understand the "universal storm of outrage" in Congress and the media.

Go to the next segment.

7 Robert Pear, NYT, Nov. 2; BG, Nov. 3. Kerry, CBS radio, 8:30 AM, Nov. 3; Adam Pertman, BG, Nov. 2. Brit Hume, ABC TV Evening News, Nov. 7. Editorials, NYT, Oct. 31, Nov. 1; Uhlig, NYT, Oct. 30; Schorr, Lewis, NYT, Nov. 5, 1989. See also Mary McGrory, WP Weekly, Nov. 13, 1989, dismissing Ortega as "obnoxious" but not without justification in announcing that "he intended to defend his people and fire when fired upon."

8 Ryan, BG, June 9; Cockburn, Wall St. Journal, June 15, Nation, July 10; Walker, Nicaragua (Westview press, 1986), 133; his emphasis.

9 See chapter 8, p. 276, and for many details, Necessary Illusions, 247ff.

10 AP, Nov. 5; AP, Nov. 3; UPI, BG, Nov. 4, 1989.

11 Editorial, NYT, Oct. 31; Larmer, CSM, Nov. 3, 1989. 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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