9/14/10

Heroes and American values

These right-wing politico-religious groups like the so-called "Freedom Congress" have really latched onto Ollie North as a True American Hero .

Aside from an ability to sell books and spout pseudo-patriotic pablum and look good in uniform, I am not sure what qualifies North as an American Hero.

In 1979 we saw the Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the U.S. supported fascist Shah of Iran. The Shah, though an ally of the U.S., had a poor and well-documented human rights record.

After the revolution, the West imposed an arms embargo against the Iranian Islamic Republic. In the mid-80’s the Reagan administration decided to violate that embargo to build “good will” with the Republic. Enter now Oliver North. North “facilitated” an arms deal with the Iranians. It was all under the table because of that pesky arms embargo. And, there were those hostages held in Lebanon. As we all know, the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists. We can, however, buy them off through people like the Iranians if no one knows about it. Apparently this is an expression of “American values.”

Then North diverted money from the arms sales - these days we call it 'money laundering' - and used it to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. There was also that interesting financial relationship with drug kingpin Michael Palmer.

The Contras were a right-wing fascist outfit at odds with the Sandinistas, an unabashedly socialist revolutionary movement bent on overthrowing the far right and extremely oppressive Somoza regime. The Somoza regime understood “American values” about as well as the Shah, but what the hey, at least they weren’t communists. By 1979 the Sandinistas had succeeded with their revolution.

The Sandinistas were also big on that liberation theology stuff that drives Glenn Beck up the wall. But Glenn Beck has never lived in abject poverty under totalitarian right-wing fascist dictators, so he can afford to rant about the evils of liberation theology.

The Sandinistas took their name from Augusto C├ęsar Sandino, leader of the revolt against the US occupation of Nicaragua in the 1920's and 1930's. Sandino had this quaint idea that he and his fellow citizens didn't have to put up with foreign troops occupying their country. Clearly Sandino did not appreciate “American values.”

By the time Oliver North got his fingers into the pie, the modern-day Sandinistas were in power. The U.S. couldn’t have another communist regime in Latin America. So the U.S. backed the Contras, as vicious a collection of political thugs as you would find anywhere, including the Sandinistas.

How is backing murderous thugs with money laundered from illicit arms sales to a hostile Islamic republic and tied in with Latin American drug smuggling in any way reflective of "American values"?

How is supporting morally corrupt, oppressive right-wing regimes that deprive their own people of those ‘inalienable rights’ we Americans hold so dear, an expression of “American values?” How can we as a nation buy into the lie that all of this was for the good of those people, that our actions somehow “protected” them?

Where are the "Christian values" in all this? And tell me how violating the Constitution with lies, deceit, and flagrantly illegal activity is living up to an oath to protect and defend that Constitution?

North excelled in the unsavory tactics of international politics. Till he got caught. And then he and his henchmen wrapped themselves in the flag and hollered about "American values." A number of Americans, especially the Christian Right, bought it hook, line, and sinker.

The Christian Right are politico-religious ideologues who rely upon you and me to not do our own critical thinking. They whine about ‘revisionist history’ and then present their own skewed version as the “truth,” in the process reducing God to a mere political pawn.

It is as contemptible as it is insulting.

On the drug smuggling connection:

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 2: The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations

On the thuggery of the Contras:

"Right to Survive: Human Rights in Nicaragua" (print). The Catholic Institute for International Relations: "The record of the contras in the field, as opposed to their official professions of democratic faith, is one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping."

On the idea that North took the hit for Reagan, we have this excerpt from North’s book Under Fire: An American Story:

"Ronald Reagan knew of and approved a great deal of what went on with both the Iranian initiative and private efforts on behalf of the contras and he received regular, detailed briefings on both ... I have no doubt that he was told about the use of residuals for the contras, and that he approved it. Enthusiastically.” See NYT article: North Says Reagan Knew of Iran Deal