[sixties-l] [Fwd: The Propaganda War]

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: Tue Nov 13 2001 - 11:48:12 EST

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    Passing these two items along, since they tend to concentrate on what
    Americans don't hear about today's war... The first deals with a little
    80s history, while the second is a report from Robert Fisk a longtime
    Middle-East correspondent for the Independent (UK).


    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Weisbrot / Fisk; Nicaragua / Terror; Nov 9
    Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2001 18:17:30 -0800
    From: ZNet Commentaries <sysop@zmag.org>
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    ZNet Commentary
    What Everyone Should Know About Nicaragua
    by Mark Weisbrot

    The United States' first post-September 11 foray into Latin American
    politics -- in Nicaragua's election -- provides a glimpse of how
    Washington's new "counter-terrorism" policy may play out in this region.

    Conservative candidate Enrique Bolanos defeated the Sandinistas' Daniel
    Ortega, in an election that had been cast as too close to call. US
    officials publicly warned against a Sandinista victory, accusing them of
    "links to terrorism," and openly supported Bolanos.

    But to understand the meaning of these events, we need a bit more
    history than most press accounts are providing. The Sandinistas took
    their name from Augusto Cesar Sandino, a Nicaraguan who led a guerilla
    war from 1927-33 against US Marines who had invaded his country. T

    he Marines finally left in 1933, but not before setting up a National
    Guard, led by Anastasio Somoza Garcia, to run the country. Sandino was
    murdered by the Guard, and Somoza established a family dictatorship that
    ruled the country with US support until the Sandinista-led revolution in

    When Anastasio Jr. fled to Miami -- our haven for retired dictators --
    in 1979, Nicaraguans celebrated the departure of "the last Marine." Tens
    of thousands of people had been killed in the insurrection, as Somoza's
    air force bombed poor residential neighborhoods of Managua, figuring
    that all of the people living there were his enemies.

    Partly because of the church-based, pacifist background of the
    organizations that joined their movement, the Sandinistas broke with the
    pattern of modern revolutions and rejected vengeance. They set a 30-year
    maximum sentence, even for the most vicious of their former tormentors
    and torturers.

    But their enemies in Washington were not so forgiving. While the
    Sandinistas were rebuilding the war-ravaged economy -- it quickly
    reached the highest growth rate of Central America -- Washington was
    planning violence. While the Sandinistas built health clinics and waged
    literacy campaigns that won international acclaim and awards from the
    United Nations, the Reagan Administration built an army to overthrow the
    new government.

    The "Contras" as they were called -- from the Spanish for
    counter-revolutionaries -- were recruited, armed, trained, and paid by
    the CIA. They waged war not so much against the Nicaraguan army as
    against "soft targets:" teachers, health care workers, elected officials
    (a CIA-prepared manual actually advocated their assassination).

    They blew up bridges and health clinics, and with help from a US trade
    embargo beginning in 1985, destroyed the economy of Nicaragua.

    The Sandinistas took the United States to the World Court for its
    terrorist actions -- the same Court where the US had won a judgment
    against Iran just a few years earlier, for the taking of American
    hostages. The Court ruled in favor of Nicaragua, ordering reparations
    estimated at $17 billion. The US refused to recognize the Court's

    In 1984 there were elections in Nicaragua. Over 400 observers from 40
    countries, including the Latin American Studies Association of scholars
    from the United States, found that the election was basically free and

    Although there was no doubt the country had voted for the Sandinistas --
    including Ortega as president -- Washington continued its violent
    efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government. But the
    Contras' extreme brutality sickened many Americans, especially among the
    religious community.

    Within a couple of years a grassroots movement persuaded Congress to cut
    off funding to the Contras. That's when Oliver North and his friends
    sought out creative new sources of financing, such as illegal arms sales
    to Iran -- leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

    By 1990 the Nicaraguans had suffered more than they could take from the
    war and economic embargo, and so when President George Bush I made it
    clear that their misery would continue until the Sandinistas were voted
    out of office, a majority cried uncle.

    Washington got the government it wanted, but of course it did not end
    Nicaragua's suffering. A decade of IMF and World Bank tutelage has left
    Nicaraguans with the most crushing debt burden in the hemisphere, 70
    percent of its people in poverty, and -- alone among Latin Americans --
    less income per person than they had 40 years ago.

    Bolanos' victory assures a grim future, although neither Ortega nor the
    Sandinistas represent the kind of hope that they did 20 years ago. It is
    not surprising that Nicaraguans would, after once again hearing the
    threats from the North, decide they could not afford another Sandinista

    But as the ignorant and depraved breathe their sighs of relief in
    Washington, they would do well to consider the warning of John F.
    Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make
    violent revolution inevitable."

    Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy
    Research (www.cepr.net), in Washington, DC.

    ZNet Commentary
    Hypocrisy, Hatred And The War On Terror
    by Robert Fisk

    "Air campaign"? "Coalition forces"? "War on terror"? How much longer
    must we go on enduring these lies? There is no "campaign" -- merely an
    air bombardment of the poorest and most broken country in the world by
    the world's richest and most sophisticated nation. No MIGs have taken to
    the skies to do battle with the American B-52s or F-18s. The only
    ammunition soaring into the air over Kabul comes from Russian
    anti-aircraft guns manufactured around 1943.

    Coalition? Hands up who's seen the Luftwaffe in the skies over Kandahar,
    or the Italian air force or the French air force over Herat. Or even the
    Pakistani air force. The Americans are bombing Afghanistan with a few
    British missiles thrown in. "Coalition" indeed.

    Then there's the "war on terror". When are we moving on to bomb the
    Jaffna peninsula? Or Chechnya -- which we have already left in Vladimir
    Putin's bloody hands?

    I even seem to recall a massive terrorist car bomb that exploded in
    Beirut in 1985 -- targeting Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the spiritual
    inspiration to the Hezbollah, who now appears to be back on Washington's
    hit list -- and which missed Nasrallah but slaughtered 85 innocent
    Lebanese civilians. Years later, Carl Bernstein revealed in his book,
    Veil, that the CIA was behind the bomb after the Saudis agreed to fund
    the operation. So will the US President George Bush be hunting down the
    CIA murderers involved? The hell he will.

    So why on earth are all my chums on CNN and Sky and the BBC rabbiting on
    about the "air campaign", "coalition forces" and the "war on terror"? Do
    they think their viewers believe this twaddle?

    Certainly Muslims don't. In fact, you don't have to spend long in
    Pakistan to realize that the Pakistani press gives an infinitely more
    truthful and balanced account of the "war" -- publishing work by local
    intellectuals, historians and opposition writers along with Taliban
    comments and pro-government statements as well as syndicated Western
    analyses -- than The New York Times; and all this, remember, in a
    military dictatorship.

    You only have to spend a few weeks in the Middle East and the
    subcontinent to realize why Tony Blair's interviews on al-Jazeera and
    Larry King Live don't amount to a hill of beans.

    The Beirut daily As-Safir ran a widely-praised editorial asking why an
    Arab who wanted to express the anger and humiliation of millions of
    other Arabs was forced to do so from a cave in a non-Arab country. The
    implication, of course, was that this -- rather than the crimes against
    humanity on 11 September -- was the reason for America's determination
    to liquidate Osama bin Laden.

    Far more persuasive has been a series of articles in the Pakistani press
    on the outrageous treatment of Muslims arrested in the United States in
    the aftermath of the September atrocities.

    One such article should suffice. Headlined "Hate crime victim's diary",
    in The News of Lahore, it outlined the suffering of Hasnain Javed, who
    was arrested in Alabama on 19 September with an expired visa. In prison
    in Mississippi, he was beaten up by a prisoner who also broke his tooth.

    Then, long after he had sounded the warden's alarm bell, more men beat
    him against a wall with the words: "Hey bin Laden, this is the first
    round. There are going to be 10 rounds like this." There are dozens of
    other such stories in the Pakistani press and most of them appear to be

    Again, Muslims have been outraged by the hypocrisy of the West's
    supposed "respect" for Islam. We are not, so we have informed the world,
    going to suspend military operations in Afghanistan during the holy
    fasting month of Ramadan. After all, the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict
    continued during Ramadan. So have Arab-Israeli conflicts. True enough.

    But why, then, did we make such a show of suspending bombing on the
    first Friday of the bombardment last month out of our "respect" for
    Islam? Because we were more respectful then than now? Or because -- the
    Taliban remaining unbroken -- we've decided to forget about all that

    "I can see why you want to separate bin Laden from our religion," a
    Peshawar journalist said to me a few days ago. "Of course you want to
    tell us that this isn't a religious war, but Mr Robert, please, please
    stop telling us how much you respect Islam."

    There is another disturbing argument I hear in Pakistan. If, as Mr Bush
    claims, the attacks on New York and Washington were an assault on
    "civilization", why shouldn't Muslims regard an attack on Afghanistan as
    a war on Islam?

    The Pakistanis swiftly spotted the hypocrisy of the Australians. While
    itching to get into the fight against Mr bin Laden, the Australians have
    sent armed troops to force destitute Afghan refugees out of their
    territorial waters.

    The Aussies want to bomb Afghanistan -- but they don't want to save the
    Afghans. Pakistan, it should be added, hosts 2.5 million Afghan
    refugees. Needless to say, this discrepancy doesn't get much of an
    airing on our satellite channels. Indeed, I have never heard so much
    fury directed at journalists as I have in Pakistan these past few weeks.
    Nor am I surprised.

    What, after all, are we supposed to make of the so-called "liberal"
    American television journalist Geraldo Rivera who is just moving to Fox
    TV, a Murdoch channel? "I'm feeling more patriotic than at any time in
    my life, itching for justice, or maybe just revenge," he announced this

    "And this catharsis I've gone through has caused me to reassess what I
    do for a living." This is truly chilling stuff. Here is an American
    journalist actually revealing that he's possibly "itching for revenge".

    Infinitely more shameful -- and unethical -- were the disgraceful words
    of Walter Isaacson, the chairman of CNN, to his staff. Showing the
    misery of Afghanistan ran the risk of promoting enemy propaganda, he

    "It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in
    Afghanistan ... we must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian
    shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for
    killing close up to 5,000 innocent people."

    Mr Isaacson was an unimaginative boss of Time magazine but these latest
    words will do more to damage the supposed impartiality of CNN than
    anything on the air in recent years.

    Perverse? Why perverse? Why are Afghan casualties so far down Mr
    Isaacson's compassion? Or is Mr Isaacson just following the lead set
    down for him a few days earlier by the White House spokesman Ari
    Fleischer, who portentously announced to the Washington press corps that
    in times like these "people have to watch what they say and watch what
    they do".

    Needless to say, CNN has caved in to the US government's demand not to
    broadcast Mr bin Laden's words in toto lest they contain "coded
    messages". But the coded messages go out on television every hour. They
    are "air campaign", "coalition forces" and "war on terror".

    [ 2001 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd]

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