November 9th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

Unattractive Gloating, I Know

Excuse me while I do some really, really unattractive gloating. But you see, we weren't the only country having an election this week. And Nicaragua just elected Daniel Ortega as president. With Jimmy Carter as an election monitor. After Oliver North went to Nicaragua to campaign against him. And great is my cold and bitter glee. Not that I care who governs Nicaragua, or have any strong opinions about whether or not Daniel Ortega will be a good president, this time. I just smile a wrathful smile as I contemplate the sick feeling in Jimmy Carter's stomach as he contemplated that result, and grin like a maniac when I think of what this has to mean to various surviving Reagan administration alumnae -- not least of whom Bush's new nominee for Secretary of Defense. I'll bet they all instantly developed a three-bottle-a-day pepto habit. And that just makes my world a little brighter.

For those of you who don't remember, in the closing years of Jimmy Carter's term as President of the US, a coalition of military, business, Catholic, and peasant socialist leaders conspired to overthrow, and eventually assassinate, the hereditary dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza. Upon taking power, those groups picked the leader of the peasant socialist Sandinista Liberation Front, Daniel Ortega, to be the first new, non-hereditary, president of Nicaragua. And since the USA believed that the Sandinistas were receiving financial assistance from both Cuba and the USSR, and since American companies owned or leased huge plantations in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas campaigned on land reform, politicians in the US went nuts. We later found out that Daniel Ortega contacted the US ambassador and offered President Carter the following deal: we will break ties with Moscow and Havana, and guarantee that US owned and leased land will be immune from land reform redistribution, and all we ask is that you offer us diplomatic recognition as the new government of Nicaragua and refrain from arming the ousted Somozista national guard. Carter, we're told, thought it sounded like a pretty good deal. And it was a pretty good deal. But he was up for re-election the next year, and his political advisers told him that no Democrat who wanted to be re-elected could afford to be seen as "soft on Communism." So he took no action, allowed the CIA to begin shipping arms to the Somozista "Contras," tried to buy time until after the election ... and lost anyway, to Ronald Reagan. Who almost immediately appointed a joint CIA/NSC team to ship cocaine into Los Angeles and anti-tank missiles to our enemies in Iran as ways of funding yet more weapons deliveries to the Somozista contras. Who used those weapons to murder doctors and teachers, burn schools and clinics, and rape nuns (including 4 American women).

You know that phrase you've heard from bitter old comedians lately, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter?" That quote originated from a Reagan official during the Iran/Contra hearings. That's right, kids, back when I was your age, it was America that was the world's leading exporter of state-sponsored terrorism. And Nicaragua was our leading involuntary customer. The Reaganites even went so far as to mine the harbor of Managua, Nicaragua in an attempt to sink civilian shipping, a blatant war crime for which we were convicted in abstentia in the Hague but for which nobody in the US has yet ever been put on trial. Eventually, the Nicaraguans were forced to surrender, or more or less. Ortega stepped down, and new elections were held. To the US's embarrassment, even though the Sandinista party lost, so did the pro-Somoza party. But it was good enough; the US ended up paying our UN-ordered fine ... as financial aid to the new government we'd helped to impose on Nicaragua.

And this Monday, it all came to nothing. Massive corruption going all the way up to the top of the US government, a crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles that gave birth to the modern Crips and the Bloods, and enough dead Nicaraguans to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools with blood. And all it achieved was to keep Daniel Ortega out of office for 16 years. And the former US President who started the whole mess by listening to his political advisers rather than his conscience had to stand there and help count the votes, and with (I hope) a sinking heart and bile in his throat he had to announce that the man he should have recognized as president of Nicaragua back in 1979 is, once again, inescapably really president of Nicaragua. All that blood on his hands, and for nothing. I hope he chokes on it. And I hope that Ollie North bursts a blood vessel in apoplectic rage and dies. Then, maybe, the healing can begin from one of the most evil periods in my lifetime.