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U.S. neoconservatives also share blame for Central America child refugee crisis

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Robert Kagan, from the Hertog Program

Robert Kagan, from the Hertog Program

Israel/Palestine and Iraq are not the only places in the world where American neoconservatives have contributed to death and destruction. I have just been to the southernmost border of the United States, to learn more about the flood of refugee mothers and children who are fleeing gang violence in Central America. My first-hand report in The Nation makes clear that America’s disastrous policies in that region back in the 1980s are a major reason the kids are running for their lives today. As I state there, Americans have little understanding of those policies.

Americans, especially young Americans, probably know more about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda than they do about how their own government funded murderous right-wing dictatorships in Central America back in the 1980s.

Neoconservatives, both in and out of the Reagan administration, were major supporters of the immoral blunders that have caused the huge refugee problem today. Elliott Abrams, who worked at the State Department, is Exhibit A. This site has already explained at some length how he lied to cover up for death squads in El Salvador. It is quite extraordinary to remember that Abrams and the Reagan administration he served maintained friendly relations with colonels who had actually ordered the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a courageous man who is today being considered for sainthood. The U.S. actually gave these military murderers $5 billion.

Robert Kagan was not nearly as prominent back then. But Kagan, who today is publicly sucking up for a post in a Hillary Clinton administration (with the assistance of the New York Times), also worked in the Reagan State Department. Kagan later wrote A Twilight Struggle, his long, turgid account of the U.S. undeclared war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The book – I unfortunately had to read it to write a review – is a whitewash and a coverup of how the U.S. violated international law, by, among other crimes, mining the country’s harbors. Outside government, neoconservatives in the ’80s led raucous cheerleading for these callous, violent policies, even in the pages of supposedly liberal publications like The New Republic. What is astonishing about the mainstream press coverage of the present exodus from Central America – 90,000 unaccompanied children from there are expected to cross the border by September 30 – is that none of the reports take even a brief look at history; no mainstream accounts are making this vital connection, which shows American responsibility.

James North
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13 Responses

  1. Don
    Don on July 10, 2014, 11:06 am

    Great post, James.

  2. just
    just on July 10, 2014, 11:23 am

    Good article.

    This is a “crisis” now because looking into what Israel is doing is so uncomfortable for so many Americans.

    • Donald
      Donald on July 10, 2014, 11:43 am

      “This is a “crisis” now because looking into what Israel is doing is so uncomfortable for so many Americans.”

      I don’t follow you. James is saying that the kids who want to come to America are fleeing the violence that is in large part a result of the vicious killing that America supported back in the 80’s. But it’s a crisis, independent of how little attention America gives to Israeli crimes.

      I used to read Commentary back in the 80’s, and also National Review and the New Republic. Support for Israel’s worst actions was usually tied in with the general Cold War theme of supporting nasty regimes that were on “our side” against the evil commie/terrorists. So we supported Suharto in Indonesia, Savimbi in Angola, a succession of Guatemalan generals, the military/death squads in El Salvador, the contras in Nicaragua, and oh yes, Israel (which also supported some of these other people). The magazines I mentioned all generally supported Reagan’s foreign policy, with the exception of The New Republic, which was ostensibly liberal and sometimes was critical. Often, though, it wasn’t, which gave rise to the cliche “Even the liberal New Republic agrees with Reagan’s support of X”. Of course the New Republic was solidly in Israel’s corner.

      • just
        just on July 10, 2014, 11:48 am

        Donald– I understand the article. Isn’t it a bit more than interesting that the moment that Mohammed was torched alive and grabbed the headlines that the US media and officials started bleating about this crisis — an ongoing one?

      • Donald
        Donald on July 10, 2014, 11:56 am

        No. I don’t think everything is a conspiracy that revolves around the I/P conflict. There are a lot of important issues in the world, and for most Americans the I/P conflict isn’t at the top of the list. Even when the discussion is explicitly about that conflict, US officials have the ability to miss the obvious, as Jen Psaki demonstrates whenever the subject comes up. They don’t need the distraction. All they have to do is chant “rain of rockets” and all Israeli atrocities vanish.

      • just
        just on July 10, 2014, 12:15 pm

        Did I say anything about a “conspiracy”?

        2 days ago, Josh @ the WH briefing and all of the reporters switched the subject to immigration………1 question about P/I and 2- 3 about Afghanistan and Iraq…

        Short shrift given to US FP, don’t you think? All because Obama asked for 3.7 million to help with this “crisis” that is ongoing, while the US is funding a war on the indigenous people of Palestine to the tune of BILLIONS.

      • Donald
        Donald on July 10, 2014, 12:59 pm

        “All because Obama asked for 3.7 million to help with this “crisis” that is ongoing, while the US is funding a war on the indigenous people of Palestine to the tune of BILLIONS.”

        Obama asked for 3.7 BILLION from the articles I’ve read. And yeah, the idea that people are talking about the immigration issue to avoid talking about the I/P conflict is conspiratorial. There’s so much real garbage the US government engages in on the I/P conflict (like Psaki’s inability to grasp the notion of Palestinians needing to defend themselves) that there should be no need to engage in pointless speculation.

      • just
        just on July 10, 2014, 1:18 pm

        My mistake. 3.7 BILLION.

        What’s a billion or some trillions when the US Government/compliant MSM wants to change the subject?

        We’ve killed countless numbers of Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians and Palestinians directly and by proxy.

  3. Donald
    Donald on July 10, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Last post on this–

    The US press and the government often do talk about the I/P issue. The problem is in how they talk about it. I don’t think one should say talk about the immigrant issue is “changing the subject”, as though the immigrant issue is in competition with justice for Palestinians and we should change the subject back to the I/P conflict. We should change the content of how the I/P conflict is discussed, not complain that other issues are taking time away from it.

  4. DaveS
    DaveS on July 10, 2014, 6:20 pm

    James, thanks for reminding us of that particularly awful episode in our glorious history. The recollection that sums it all up for me is Jeane Kirkpatrick, our UN ambassador, on Nightline saying that we were training a Nicaraguan exile army to invade because Nicaragua was reinforcing its military to defend against the invasion. This idea of aggression against others for the crime of defending themselves against our agression has always been a mainstay of imperial propaganda.

  5. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on July 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

    There’s a song related to that period that I’ve always had in my mind. It’s written by someone I admire greatly. It’s a song which I always have in mind wrt to the I/P issue and it conveys the lengths to which an oppressed people can be pushed. As many not know him Bruce is a declared and avowed pacifist. He has another song which is on topic which is entitled “And they call it Democracy”

    I haven’t linked to a video here before and I haven’t coded html (too lazy to view source) since the 90’s so this may not work but..

    Bruce Cockburn – If I had a rocket launcher

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870 on July 11, 2014, 12:40 am

      A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of the new Über-Xtreme Ziocaine Ultra SR (Sustained Release) Transdermal Patch®: Let The Good Times Roll!™

      Here comes the helicopter — second time today
      Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
      How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
      If I had a rocket launcher…I’d make somebody pay

      I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate
      I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
      And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
      If I had a rocket launcher…I would retaliate

      On the Rio Lacantun, one hundred thousand wait
      To fall down from starvation — or some less humane fate
      Cry for guatemala, with a corpse in every gate
      If I had a rocket launcher…I would not hesitate

      I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
      Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
      Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
      If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die

      Lyrics source – http://cockburnproject.net/songs&music/iiharl.html

      ● Bruce Cockburn (live perfomance) : If I Had a Rocket Launcher [VIDEO, 05:027] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z02J_kPincA

      P.S. The Ziocaine concept was first used on Mondoweiss by “Mooser”.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on July 11, 2014, 12:22 am

    RE: “Neoconservatives, both in and out of the Reagan administration, were major supporters of the immoral blunders that have caused the huge refugee problem today. Elliott Abrams, who worked at the State Department, is Exhibit A. This site has already explained at some length how he lied to cover up for death squads in El Salvador.” ~ James North

    MY COMMENT: I have seen Elliott Abrams use a particularly lame neocon trick to excuse his role. He dismisses any and all criticism of his actions in regard to Latin America by saying that the only alternative was to accept having a communist Central/South/Latin America. This is the shameless use of what is called a “false dilemma”* (a/k/a black-and/or-white thinking, bifurcation, denying a conjunct, the either-or fallacy, false dichotomy, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of the false alternative, or the fallacy of the excluded middle).

    * False dilemma – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

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