The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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A glaring inconsistency

 A glaring inconsistency
A glaring inconsistency

A glaring inconsistency

Over the past year, it has become next to impossible to peruse any source of news without receiving the following message, loud and clear from the White House: The United States is currently engaged in a full-fledged effort to stamp out terrorism, whether practiced by groups acting independently or with sponsorship from governments. With terrorist cells being broken up around the world and with the United States taking a hard line against governments that allegedly support terrorists, this would seem to be a true statement. Yet there is one glaring inconsistency with regard to Bush’s so-called “War on Terror,” and after a year’s time it is still with us.

The United States government has a history of sponsoring terrorism. I’ll give you one particularly egregious example: In 1979, the US-backed dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, began to have his rule challenged by a pro-democracy movement of the Nicaraguan people, known as the Sandinistas. The Sandinistas aimed to ameliorate the crushing poverty and terrible living standards faced by the Nicaraguans, and in so doing they posed a threat to certain American corporations that were engaged in sucking what little wealth Nicaragua possessed out of the country. (This is comparable to the efforts by residents of small towns in New England to keep Wal-Mart and McDonalds out of their communities, though the results are dramatically different.)

This was intolerable to the US government, who referred to the whole thing as “communism” and immediately swung into action (the standard United States treatment of Latin America.) President Carter tried to assist Somoza’s own National Guard with keeping the tyrant in power, but despite their bombing campaigns that killed tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, Somoza still did not feel safe and decided to flee to Miami with whatever remained of the Nicaraguan national treasury. The Sandinistas were left in control of the country and promptly made enormous gains in the Nicaraguan standard of living through their various programs, representing the only real hope in Nicaragua for hundreds of years. It should come as no surprise, however, that it was not to last.

Carter’s government, in one of its last actions during his presidency, flew National Guard commanders out of the country and into Honduras in planes bearing Red Cross insignia (thus violating the Geneva convention.) Safely across the border, the CIA (now under Ronald Reagan) began recruiting Somoza’s thugs into a new fighting force, the contras. Over the next several years, the contras launched near-constant terrorist attacks against Nicaragua, forcing the fragile Sandinista government to divert its meager resources to protect its citizens. Not only did Reagan refer to the contras as “freedom fighters,” at one point likening them to America’s Founding Fathers, the United States dissuaded other nations and banks from assisting the Sandinistas (even after an earthquake), and planted mines in Nicaragua’s harbors (thus making Reagan the only head of state condemned by the World Court). The money to fund the contras at one point was being raised through weapons sales to Iran (of all places), which resulted in something most of us have heard of, but few of us can describe accurately: the Iran-contra scandal. This should have toppled the Reagan administration, but since there was no sex involved (unless you count brutal rapes perpetrated by the contras), Reagan stayed in the Oval Office.

When an election rolled around in 1990, the US made it clear that the atrocities would continue if the Sandinistas won. In a testament to the spirit of the Nicaraguan people, the Sandinistas still received 40 percent of the vote, but in any case Nicaragua was once again under a government acceptable to the United States, all thanks to a massively funded terror campaign. As stated above, this is just one example of typical US policy towards much of Latin America during the 20th century.

If our government were serious about ending terrorism worldwide, we would be seeing a flurry of arrests and war crimes trials of those Americans responsible for sponsoring terrorism, along with massive reparations to the nations victimized by this activity. Instead, many key figures of the contra war now occupy high-level posts in the Bush administration. Oliver North (who tried to conceal evidence of the Iran-contra link) has remained a public figure, at one point running for Senate as a “family values” candidate. (The irony is sickening.) Books laud Ronald Reagan as an “American hero” and ultra-conservative radio host Sean Hannity practically accuses liberals of treason for daring to criticize the CIA.

Terrorism certainly needs to be stopped, and not just the terrorism committed by somebody else or sponsored by somebody else’s government.

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