The Cold Hard TruthBy J.L. Chestnut, Jr.
Vol. 9, No. 3, 1987, p. 24
Mine enemies are legion and I can barely remember when that was not the case. In a somewhat perverse manner, I find that comforting and suffer no reason to embrace popular, superficial mainstream conclusions I know to be wrong and misleading.
There are no American heroes in our relations to South and Central America, now or ever. The Iran/Contra mess is a foul, dangerous scandal and international disgrace.
For centuries, America, for rank, selfish economic reasons, helped to sustain oppression and misery throughout South and Central America. The CIA toppled an entire government on behalf of United Fruit Incorporated. Rich multi-national corporations owning thousands of acres have opposed every effort at land reform. The result of systematic exploitation blankets the pitiful people of South and Central America like a suffocating cloud.
Unspeakable conditions were maintained by a line of dictatorial despots as bad as any the world has known. They were kept in power for almost 150 years primarily by American military might and power. In turn, powerful American economic interests enjoyed a virtual license to plunder and exploit.
As a rule, neither people nor nations turn from true friends to embrace an unknown--much less to welcome the bloodsucking Russian Bear; communists are in South and Central America because we created a perfect opportunity for them.
A desperate father in South America struggles daily to feed his hungry children and he has little or no education, health care or land. His very existence has been ruled by governments so opressive [sic] they are difficult to describe. That father really doesn't give a damn about Ronald Reagan or Mikhail Gorbachev. Would you?
The current administration in Washington invaded one Latin American neighbor, whose population is smaller than the City of Birmingham, and unlawfully mined the harbor and fomented civil war against another. All to halt the spread of communism and bring Jeffersonian democracy to that desperate land.
Latin American is a place where the rich always got richer and the poor systematically poorer until the bottom fell out. Hard-disciplined work might forestall starvation, but little else. A handful of super rich owned the continent. American power was always there to back them up.
Communism, as distinguished from the governmental mechanisms through which it is promoted, is an ideology. Guns, tanks, marines and missiles, by definition are virtually useless in halting the spread of an idea. One would assume official minds in Washington would eventually come to recognize that obvious and fundamental truth. Fortunately, communism consistently proves to be its own worse enemy. It is a wholly unrealistic and impractical concept weighted down with enormous bureaucratic burdens and a myriad of imperialist manipulations in behalf of Mother Russia. Those considerations, more than anything else, have impeded the spread of communism.
Every nation in the world seems to understand except America and possibly England. Not a single Latin nation, including Mexico, favors the U.S. clandestine-military activity in South and Central America. Indeed, the U.S. had to ignore the Organization of American States and the vital mutual security pact to wrangle a bogus invitation to invade Granada and engage in the "no-win" resurrection of the Contras in Nicaragua. If we are to stop the spread of communism we had better get busy with genuine and innovative efforts to stop the spread of poverty, ignorance and racism. Fidel Castro was intimately acquainted with all three before he took to the mountains.
The self-righteous crap we hear in the Iran/Contra hearing about fighting for freedom and halting communism is in reality a catalogue of inappropriate, off-base policies which violate international law and are singularly ineffective. We have even undermined the Constitutional basis of our own government [sic] .
To date, our efforts in South and Central America are unworthy of a great nation and a good people.
J. L. Chestnut is an Alabama trial lawyer and writer.