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    World Focus: Ronald Reagan's Legacy
    Posted on Tuesday, June 08 @ 13:00:12 UTC
    Topic: RogueState
    RogueStateby William Blum

    Ronald Reagan was not the most interventionist American president of modern times. Dwight Eisenhower retains that honor, insofar as significant extralegal meddling in other countries' politics is concerned. Reagan intervened in the face of political obstacles which would most likely have inhibited Eisenhower or any other president to a marked degree.

    Reagan presided over an American public grown cynical and suspicious of the overseas adventures of the CIA, the U.S. military, and other arms of the U.S. government. World opinion was yet more cynical. The previous decade had brought Indochina, Chile, Angola, Watergate, seemingly endless revelations about CIA misdeeds, exposes by former Agency officers, lengthy and relatively antagonistic Congressional investigations, oversight committees, professional CIA-watchers of the left and the center, and a media that had finally learned to ask some of the right questions and follow up on some of the right leads.

    American destabilization and other covert operations of the 1950s did not have to deal with any of this; they did not face the glare of public exposure or censure until years after their occurrence, if ever.

    In the 1980s, the information was leaked often within days, yet, in most cases, Reagan, CIA director William Casey, Oliver North & Co., et al., seemed unfazed by any of this. In 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was set up to "strengthen democratic institutions throughout the world through private, nongovernmental efforts." Funded by Congress, i.e., the American taxpayers, NED engages in much of the same kinds of interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries which are the hallmark of the CIA.

    Some causes which have been supported by NED largesse were the following:

    - Several hundred thousand dollars since 1985 to La Prensa, the anti-Sandinista newspaper in Nicaragua, which can only be viewed as part of the Reagan administration's campaign to overthrow the government; several million more has been allocated to support organizations opposing the Sandinistas in elections scheduled for 1990.

    - Newspapers in other developing countries, including Grenada, Guyana, and Botswana.

    South Africa: Working closely with British intelligence, the U .S . provided South Africa with intelligence about the banned and exiled African National Congress, including specific warnings of planned attacks by the group and the whereabouts and movements of ANC leaders. As part of South Africa's reciprocation, it sent 200,000 pounds of military equipment to contra leader Eden Pastora.

    Grenada: The invasion by the U.S. military in October 1983 was accompanied by a battalion of falsehoods that stands out even in an administration noted for its creation of dial-a-lie. The "emocracy" installed in the country reached fruition this year when the government banned the importation, by name, of over 80 leftist books, and later suspended Parliament to block a no-confidence vote.

    Surinam: In December 1982, CIA Director William Casey told the House and Senate intelligence committees that President Reagan had authorized the CIA to try to topple Surinam ruler Col. Desi Bouterse, supposedly leading his country into "the Cuban orbit." Even though the committee refused to approve the covert operation, there is good reason to believe that the administration did what it wished. An invasion of the country was scheduled for July 1, 1983 by Florida-based mercenaries-Americans and others. It was called off only after being discovered by the internal security agency of the Netherlands, the former colonial power in Surinam.

    Seychelles: The country's leader, France Albert Rene, amongst other shortcomings in the eyes of Washington, was a socialist, pursued non-alignment, and wanted to turn the Indian Ocean into a nuclear-free zone. For this he was the object of various American destabilization conspiracies beginning in 1979. In November 1981, the CIA reportedly was behind a mercenary invasion of the island nation which originated in South Africa and got no further than an armed battle at the Seychelles airport.

    Dominica: "Financial support to the Freedom Party of Eugenia Charles to defeat Oliver Seraphin in the Dominican elections." In 1980 Charles won the election.

    Mauritius: In 1981-82, financial support was given to Seewoosagar Ramgoolam in an attempt to bring him to power in the 1982 elections. Ramgoolam did not win in the elections.

    Chad: In 1981, the administration formally decided to supply Hissene Habre in his attempt to overthrow the government of Goukouni Oueddei. Through the CIA, Habre was supplied with money, arms and ammunition, and other equipment. "The operation was coordinated with Egypt,...which furnished Habre with weapons and ammunition in exchange for U.S. replacements.'' Sudan provided a base of operations and a supply-line. American commitment increased several times during 1981, ending with a total of about $10 million. In June 1982 Habre's men "took control of N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, and set up a provisional government."

    Afghanistan: Approximately $625 million was appropriated between 1980-84, "including about $40 million reprogrammed from the Pentagon budget and as much as $250 million in fiscal year 1985 alone." Afghanistan has be come one of the most expensive covert actions in American history. This money was used in continuing military aid to the rebel forces of Zia Khan Nassery, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Sayed Ahmed Gailani and to conservative mullahs "to harass Soviet occupation forces and challenge the legitimacy of the government of Babrak Karmal." The Afghanistan rebels also received monies from the National Endowment for Democracy. This included one grant of $180,000 ostensibly for their school system; but in the extreme chaos of the war area, there can be no satisfactory way of determining what the ultimate disposition of the money was; this can only be viewed as part of the Reagan administration's campaign to overthrow the government supported by the Soviet Union. (This is ironic in light of the deep loathing Americans feel for the government of Iran, for if the Afghan rebels take power they will undoubtedly create a similar fundamentalist Islamic state.)

    Ethiopia: A support operation of about $500,000 per year for the opposition to the so-called Marxist government.

    Angola: In 1985 the Clark Amendment banning covert military aid to Angolan rebels was lifted and Reagan ordered the release of $13 million in covert aid to Jonas Savimbi. According to government sources, profits generated from the illegal sale of arms to Iran, as well as money intended for the Afghan rebels, also may have been used to fund UNITA.

    Honduras: Honduras was turned into a launching area and support base for the Nicaragua operation: landing strips, docks, radar stations and communication centers were built under the cover of repeated U.S.-Honduran military exercises. For seven years, attacks were carried out against Nicaragua from the soil of a supposedly neutral Honduras.

    The eight years of the Reagan administration brought an unparalleled growth in CIA covert activities and U.S. intervention abroad. This listing is only a sample of hundreds of operations that sought to destabilize foreign governments and have diminished the prospects for international peace. The victims of CIA interventions will remember the Reagan years far into the future.

    Now a new U.S. president is on the scene speaking of "a kinder and gentler America." How willing are the people of Angola, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cambodia to believe the former Director of Central Intelligence? George Bush will likely carry on the Reagan legacy, even in light of changes in U.S.-Soviet relations. It promises to be a long four years.

    William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

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