Jean Kirkpatrick's recent intervention in Nicaragua's internal politics is a helpful reminder that US government foreign policy is marked not just by hypocrisy and sadism but also by delusional stupidity. Take this quote from an interview Kirkpatrick gave to the publication "Religion and Liberty" (1) :
"I don't think that Fidel Castro knows how to run a government that must provide the necessities in a society. He is quintessentially a revolutionary, committed to world revolution. Since that's his profession, I don't think he can last."
Despite decades of US economic blockade promoted hard by Kirkpatrick, Cuba's people enjoy better education, better healthcare and better disaster prevention and relief services than most people in the United States. This truth was dramatically highlighted last year by the contrast between the US government's response to Hurricane Katrina and the Havana government's response to a series of equally devastating hurricanes in Cuba. Jean Kirkpatrick's views on Cuba are absurdly counterfactual. Her policy advocacy on Cuba has been a complete failure.
Try this anti-historical gem from the same interview:
"... no authoritarian state has ever evolved out of a democratic welfare state, nor has a democratic welfare state ever evolved into an authoritarian state."
Even given the limited relevant historical period she corners in this foolish remark one has to assume that Kirkpatrick's European history studies wound up just before the Weimar Republic, to name only the most obvious example. Yet this person is a leading guru of the United States foreign policy elite. No wonder the Bush regime's criminal aggression against Iraq has involved the people of the United States in their country's worst foreign policy debacle since Vietnam.
Nicaragua at the UN. Kirkpatrick's career nadir?
Perhaps the most embarrassing diplomatic debacle of Kirkpatrick's career was the bungled attempt by US diplomacy to prevent the election of Nicaragua to the UN Security Council in 1982. Kirkpatrick and her colleagues desperately struggled to promote the candidacy of the Dominican Republic in order to prevent Nicaragua's election. She and her team failed dismally. Nicaragua's Chancellor at the time, Padre Miguel D'Escoto remembers,
"I spoke with all the foreign ministers of the world gathered there in the context of bilateral exchanges of about half an hour with each. But I was not alone. I could count on a marvellous support team from our foreign ministry and on Nora Astorga. But it was our heroic people under arms and Daniel (Ortega) who most accompanied us and made possible our victory thanks to the admiration and respect the world feels towards people of consequence."(2)
The vote was a personal triumph for D'Escoto and an almost unprecedented blow to US prestige. By rejecting the Reagan administration supported candidate, the vote indicated the contempt most of the world felt for the Reagan government's advocacy of vicious terror regimes and groups around the world at that time. For that flop, blame Kirkpatrick first.
Continuities : from El Salvador to Palestine and Iraq
Just as the career of Kirkpatrick's fellow death squad promoter John Negroponte spans from the Reagan government's crimes in Central America to the Bush regime's crimes in Iraq so too do the echoes of Kirkpatrick's pro-terror rhetoric from the early 1980s. When the US-trained Salvadoran army murdered three US nuns and a US woman lay missionary in 1982, Kirkpatrick notoriously tried to justify the killings by accusing the women of being political activists working for the Salvadoran guerrillas. What a contrast with the US government's reaction to the killing of four US mercenaries in Fallujah which led to the destruction of the city by thousands of troops backed up by artillery, armour and air-power.
On the other hand, Kirkpatrick's infamous lie about the four US women murdered in El Salvador is all of a piece with US government responses to the murder of Rachel Corrie by the Israeli army. Presumably we are to understand that activists have it coming to them simply for opposing US government policy - President Bush's puerile "with us or against us" indeed. Certainly, it is worth noting that this official US government mentality is nothing new. Hypocrisy and sadism have been the norm for decades engendered very clearly by ignorance and self-delusion.
More continuities : dictators, drugs, warlords, drugs
Throughout the 1980s Jean Kirkpatrick and prominent colleagues like George Bush Sr, George Schultz and Caspar Weinberger as well as lesser lights like Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Armitage, Elliot Abrams, and Condoleezza Rice, supported cruel, repressive, anti-humanitarian regimes around the world. They supported and supplied Saddam Hussein. They actively supported South Africa's apartheid regime.
They supported crooks and mass murderers like General Pinochet in Chile and General Videla's dirty war in Argentina. They made excuses for General Rios Montt's genocidal war against indigenous people in Guatemala. As the US ambassador to the United Nations, Kirkpatrick feted General Videla and was a constant ally of General Pinochet in Chile. Pinochet was a crook who stole millions of dollars as well as overseeing the murder of thousands of resisters to his military regime.
Kirkpatrick moved on from government in 1985 and so avoided the dirt that splattered around Reagan's White House as a result of the Iran-Contra scandal. Before she resigned her post at the UN, she held Cabinet level status as well as a being among Reagan's national security advisers. Her colleague Weinberger was not so lucky, but still got pardoned by their former partner in covert terror, George Bush Sr. In the end it became clear that the US government colluded in drugs dealing in order to illegally finance their Nicaraguan Contra allies. Now Bush Jr.'s regime tolerates drugs trafficking by murderous Afghan warlords because if they did not Afghanistan would very likely become untenable for them, as it almost is in any case.
Miss Havisham in the Americas
It is extraordinary how Kirkpatrick's career puts the banal evil of US government policy into clear focus. One finds the same sadistic support for vicious murderers and torturers around the world, from Haiti to Israeli-occupied Palestine to Afghanistan to Colombia. One hears the same hypocritical rhetoric about promoting democracy and freedom. On her recent trip to Nicaragua, Kirkpatrick was fronting for the quasi-non-governmental International Republican Institute that specialises in electoral interventions on behalf of the US government under the guise of promoting democracy.
One might think that Kirkpatrick suffers from Miss Havisham syndrome - like the character from Dickens' "Great Expectations" who refuses to change a single detail in her person or house from the day she was stood up at her wedding by the groom. In Dickens' novel Miss Havisham sought vindictively to poison her adopted daughter's future. Kirkpatrick and her fellow neo-conservative ideologues see all too well that their own dream of happiness-ever-after in an Americas-wide coporate-dominated, free-market nirvana is finished. So they are determined to make sure nobody else gets the chance of a happy ending either.
Perhaps it took Hurricane Katrina to reveal this truth. The very people who run for cover accusing the US government's critics of anti-Americanism are themselves the real anti-Americans. They despise and loath their own people. They also seek to demonise migrant people from all over the Americas who contribute incalculably to the United States economy and culture. The very word "America" has been hijacked by the political and media cabal that cheerleads for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. They use it delusionally to define a tiny conceptual fiefdom that exists only in their heads.
Beyond the borders of the United States, from Venezuela to Haiti to Bolivia one can see very plainly the efforts of this cabal to undermine and destroy democratic electoral outcomes not of their making or liking. It is they who hate freedom in the Americas. The record of Jean Kirkpatrick's support for Generals Videla, Pinochet and Rios Montt speaks for itself. But in the economic as well as the political sphere, the policies Kirkpatrick advocated through the 1980s - indisputably a "lost decade" for the whole continent - were disastrous for Latin America.
Miss Havisham bangs heads in Managua
Jean Kirkpatrick's latest sally forth in defence of ancien regime privilege and nineteenth century laissez-faire economics took her to the rarefied air-conditoned concrete jungles inhabited by Nicaragua's reactionary political elite in Managua. Her visit was the latest in a series from Bush regime enforcers - other interlopers have included lately Otto Reich and Robert Zoellick - to reinforce local US ambassador Paul Trivelli's attempts to knock right-wing heads together and arrange a common electoral front against the Sandinista FSLN and their political allies.
Neither Trivelli nor Kirkpatrick have the least scruple in intervening openly in Nicaragua's national politics. Nor, despite widespread public resentment, do their local partners object. Kirkpatrick met with right-wing leaders and with US-embassy approved centrist candidate Herty Lewites. The aim of US policy is to stop Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega winning the presidential elections in November this year. To do that comfortably they have to unify the Nicaraguan right and divide the Sandinista vote. It should be easy, but reaction to their blatant intervention may work against them.
Interviewed (3), Trivelli seems unfazed by that prospect. His fallback is the protection racket mobster tradition of US diplomacy as propagated by ideologues like Kirkpatrick and cynically honed by her successors, like "price worth paying" Madeleine Albright. In Trivelli's case, he juxtaposes US government opposition to Daniel Ortega with the fact that the majority of Nicaraguan families depend on family remittances from the US for their economic survival.
As Trivelli puts it, "we are trying to speak directly so people understand well our decision and I think it is important that there should be no doubt as to what we think."(4) Nicaragua has always suffered this kind of gangster diplomacy from United States administrations. It is only a question of time before the bluff is called. The massive recent demonstrations by Latin American immigrants in the United States are yet another clear sign that people at grass roots throughout the Americas have had enough of the baneful legacy of Jean Kirkpatrick.
2. "El servilismo nunca es respetado", Miguel dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Escoto Brockmann, article circulated to e-mail list 14/10/2005
3. "Injerencismo y veto" Interview with Paul Trivelli by Carlos Chamorro, Nuevo Diario, March 27th 2006
toni solo is an activist based in Central America. Contact via www.tonisolo.net