Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reagan and Bush's Not-So-Secret War: Part One

Through most of American history, conservatives have insisted on the strict observance of law and have opposed the expansion of executive power. The Reagan administration’s administration of legislation affecting the civil rights of African Americans sometimes seemed a bit lax, and it approached economic regulations and labor law with a business-friendly perspective.

But in its public manifestation, it did not appear bent on expanding executive power or on circumventing statutory law. However, in covert matters, its record was very different. In its dealings in Central America, it constantly circumvented the law and lied to Congress. Its weapons sales in the Middle East also circumvented the law and sometimes violated it outright. In matters involving PROMIS software, its representatives consistently lied to courts about government use and marketing of this software.

Reagan established the White House Working Group to coordinate efforts to sell his policies in Latin America and work with many other interests including the Heritage Foundation, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, and Pat Robertson’s Freedom Council in getting out their message. The seeds of a new American world order were here and made possible by a new alliance of nationalists, Neo Conservatives, the religious right, and free marketers. Over time, nationalists like Cheney and Rumsfeld allied so fully with the Neo Conservatives that some thought they had changed. Those involved in orchestrating these operations saw them as ultimately successful, but the Contras never dealt the Sandanistas a military defeat. The reform regime fell due to US economic pressure. 1

In battling Communists and their leftist allies, the actions of the Reagan administration strongly suggest that it believed there were almost no legal restraints on what it could do. In 1986, the United States government began selling arms to Iran and using the profits to help the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Both actions were illegal. Ronald Reagan denied having authorized this program. This turned out to be the tip of a massive iceberg of illegal activity. The US had been selling arms to Iran and Iraq since the beginning of the Reagan administration. 2

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