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Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala

Ronnie Reagan At 100.

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I am told that Reagan would have been 100 years old a few week agos Sunday, had he lived that long.

I suspect that he was probably eulogised. People who benefited from his misrule would have applauded him. His ideological bedfellows would have praised him endlessly.

Yet in light of the dictators falling across the Middle East we shouldn’t forget that Ronnie Reagan’s real legacy was death.

He liked dictators. Ronnie Reagan funded dictators.

And when he wasn’t funding them he was trying to whitewash them and help organised their death squads as Spartacus relates:

“After his election as president, Ronald Reagan, appointed Michael Deaver as Deputy White House Chief of Staff under James Baker III. He took up his post in January 1981. Soon afterwards, Deaver’s clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina, began to receive their payback. On 19th March, 1981, Reagan asked Congress to lift the embargo on arms sales to Argentina. General Roberto Viola, one of the junta members responsible for the death squads, was invited to Washington. In return, the Argentine government agreed to expand its support and training for the Contras. According to John Ranelagh (The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA): “Aid and training were provided to the Contras through the Argentinean defence forces in exchange for other forms of aid from the U.S. to Argentina.”

Reagan had more difficulty persuading Congress to provide arms to Guatemala. During a 4th May, 1981, session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was announced that the Guatemalan death squads had murdered 76 leaders of the moderate Christian Democratic Party including its leader, Alberto Fuentes Mohr. As Peter Dale Scott pointed out in the Iran-Contra Connection: “When Congress balked at certifying that Guatemala was not violating human rights, the administration acted unilaterally, by simply taking the items Guatemala wanted off the restricted list.”

Reagan and Deaver also helped Guatemala in other ways. Alejandro Dabat and Luis Lorenzano (Argentina: The Malvinas and the End of Military Rule) pointed out that the Ronald Reagan administration arranged for “the training of more than 200 Guatemalan officers in interrogation techniques (torture) and repressive methods”. “

NPR had more:

“Sunday would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and Time’s recent cover story, “The Role Model: What Obama Sees in Reagan” — with its photoshoped picture of Ronnie’s arm around Obama — has largely been met by derision on the right, including Rush Limbaugh: “Here comes Time magazine and the rest of the Drive-By Media trying to tell us, and Obama himself trying to tell us that he’s Reagan. . . . Well, we know what he really thinks about Reagan.”

It is true that Obama, in his memoir, did say opposition to the “dirty deeds” carried out by “Reagan and his minions” pushed him into politics, citing in particular Reagan’s intervention in Central America and support for Apartheid in South Africa. In Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, Reagan’s actions directly led to the death of over 200,000 people, genocide against Mayans, and the exile of over a million refugees. It’s a safe bet to assume that this blood-soaked legacy won’t be mentioned in many of today’s birthday celebrations, though Time did obliquely admit that Reagan “backed what Obama called ‘death squads’ in El Salvador” — an interesting use of secondary attribution and scare quotes that would be akin to Der Spiegel writing in the 1970s that that Hitler “backed what Willy Brandt called ‘death camps’ in Poland.””

Not forgetting the Iran-Contra scandal or how Reagan sent Rumsfeld to support Saddam Hussein.

A little reminder:

Reagan had blood on his hands, up to his elbows, many times over. That’s something we shouldn’t forget, his real legacy, death and death squads.

Update 1: The Guardian had a good piece:

“US support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war as a bulwark against Shi’ite militancy has been well known for some time, but using declassified government documents, the Washington Post provided new details yesterday about Mr Rumsfeld’s role, and about the extent of the Reagan administration’s knowledge of the use of chemical weapons.

The details will embarrass Mr Rumsfeld, who as defence secretary in the Bush administration is one of the leading hawks on Iraq, frequently denouncing it for its past use of such weapons.

The US provided less conventional military equipment than British or German companies but it did allow the export of biological agents, including anthrax; vital ingredients for chemical weapons; and cluster bombs sold by a CIA front organisation in Chile, the report says.

Intelligence on Iranian troop movements was provided, despite detailed knowledge of Iraq’s use of nerve gas.

Rick Francona, an ex-army intelligence lieutenant-colonel who served in the US embassy in Baghdad in 1987 and 1988, told the Guardian: “We believed the Iraqis were using mustard gas all through the war, but that was not as sinister as nerve gas.

“They started using tabun [a nerve gas] as early as ’83 or ’84, but in a very limited way. They were probably figuring out how to use it. And in ’88, they developed sarin.”

On November 1 1983, the secretary of state, George Shultz, was passed intelligence reports of “almost daily use of CW [chemical weapons]” by Iraq.

However, 25 days later, Ronald Reagan signed a secret order instructing the administration to do “whatever was necessary and legal” to prevent Iraq losing the war.

In December Mr Rumsfeld, hired by President Reagan to serve as a Middle East troubleshooter, met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and passed on the US willingness to help his regime and restore full diplomatic relations.”

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