Latin America

The Moderation of Danny O.

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Former Nicaraguan "dictator in designer glasses" Daniel Ortega learned his lesson. Following his November election, Newsweek said that "all signs suggest the chastened Sandinista firebrand will embrace moderation this time around." His mulligan government promised "moderate economic and social policies and continued ties with the U.S," according to the AP. And the Sandinista leader "sounded pretty moderate" to NPR's Renee Montagne. Well, fool me once…

Ortega turned up in Tehran this weekend sounding—surprise!—exactly like the Sandinista leader of 1979:

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who wants more aid from the United States, called on Sunday for a new world order to replace "capitalism and imperialism", at the start of a trip to arch U.S. foe Iran.

"We have chosen our friends by our own will and we haven't got permission from anyone," Ortega said shortly after arriving in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"In negotiation with America we have explained our personal and political positions towards imperialism … Imperialism and capitalism should be removed and we should create a peaceful and friendly world," Ortega added.

Ortega, a Cold War-era enemy of Washington, had earlier said he would travel to Iran on a jet loaned to him by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, a former U.S. foe who has been developing better ties with Washington.

Full story here.

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  1. Imperialism and capitalism should be removed and we should create a peaceful and friendly world,” Ortega added.

    The standard simplistic, wishful thinking that makes communism so appealing to the very stupid.

    Maybe we should just pass a law to whither the state and we can all work peacefully at our 30-hour-a-week union jobs at the co-op personal jetpack factory or flying unicorn stables

  2. The irony of this statement is that imperialism is anti-capitalistic. Imperialism could not exist in a truly capitalistic society.

  3. Danny better not fuck with my beach house…

  4. I wonder if Ortega is going to make a move against Contra Cafe.

    http://contracafe.com/

  5. and we should create a peaceful and friendly world

    Is that what he was trying to do when he imported Hind attack helicopters labeled “tractors” in the early 80’s?

  6. Lurker Kurt,

    I’m not going to defend the Sandinista regime of the 1980s, but those helicopters were used as a means to fight off contra attacks. They may have been used for other purposes as well.

  7. You know, during and right after the 1990 election numerous American officials promised all manner of aid to Nicaragua if the Sandinista’s lost the election. Now I’m not a big fan of such aid, but still I wonder how many of these promises came to fruition.

  8. Grotius,

    I’m not trying to pick a fight. Perhaps your memory is better than mine.

    I thought the helicopters came first and then the Contras got organized.

    Hopefully, the US will treat Nicaragua government the same way it is currently treating (and hopefully continues to) Hugo Chavez in Venezuela: harsh language from the State Department but otherwise leaving them free to run their economies into the groud.

    Hopefully we won’t fall into a Cuba-esque sanctions trap where our economic sanctios are blamed for their miserable economy.

  9. Lurker Kent,

    The Hinds came in 1983 or 1984. U.S. support for the Contras started in late 1981 through a National Security Directive signed by Reagan which ordered the CIA to fund, train, etc. them.

  10. Let’s be real, people.

    The Contras were a coalition of many people — both former Somocistas who would’ve fought AS WELL AS people who did fight for values that a libertarian would have supported (at least, in the context of Nicaragua in the 1980s,) such as Commandate Cero.

    The Sandanistas were Marxist-Leninists aligned with Soviet Russia and Castroite Cuba who formed the usual dictatorship of the proletariat, and whose economic policies represented the usual economic thuggery that has caused so much pain, suffering, and death in the Third World.

    American policies toward Central America generally and Nicaragua specifically have not always been wise, and often counterproductive. But let’s not fall over ourselves defending a group of Marxists thugs who ruled by force, nor condemn the United States for supporting those who opposed that Marxist brute force with force of their own. Was it a wise policy? Was it necessary for American security? Maybe, maybe not. Was it immoral? Hardly.

  11. Hopefully, the US will treat Nicaragua government the same way it is currently treating (and hopefully continues to) Hugo Chavez in Venezuela: harsh language from the State Department but otherwise leaving them free to run their economies into the groud.

    I’ll go along with that. At least in Nicaragua’s case, they don’t have oil to support their newly revived Worker’s Paradise, so we can expect them to be too poor to cause enough trouble to bother with.

  12. Oh, and is anyone surprised that Ortega was lying when he was being all Mr. Moderate and Mature Statesman, and is (still) hanging with the worst elements on the planet?

  13. JKP,

    But let’s not fall over ourselves defending a group of Marxists…

    No one here is.

    You’re right, the Contras were a hodge-podge of groups (indeed, lack of coordination was a major problem of theirs).

    At the very least supporting those elements of the Contras who committed human rights abuses was immoral. In other words, being “real” includes discussing the activities of “both sides.”

  14. “I’m a Contra too!”

  15. He always sounded pretty moderate to us, too.

  16. I just figured that Ortega was traveling out of Nicaragua to visit Roman Polanski in France. Then the two of them would jet off to Vietnam, to bring Gary Glitter those Alex Chilton CDs he was asking for.

  17. opefully, the US will treat Nicaragua government the same way it is currently treating (and hopefully continues to) Hugo Chavez in Venezuela: harsh language from the State Department but otherwise leaving them free to run their economies into the groud.

    You are kidding, right? The yes twice supported coup against Chaves. I guess in the era of pre-emptive wars that counts as “leaving them free to run their economies into the groud”.

  18. What is harsh language from the state department supposed to accomplish? Making us feel better?

    During the 1990s, when the streets of Iran were full of people demanding freedom, when the government was so insecure that they had to try and convict a senior security apparatchik for killing a protest leader, the State Department was pursuing a dialogue through back-room channels with the regime, and talking about wanting better relations in public.

    The State Department should say nothing about Ortega or Chavez. Maybe put links to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on their web page. Playing the Yankee Imperialist, eager to tell people in other countries how to run their governments, even if only done rhetorically, just allows these people to pose as brave resistors.

  19. What is harsh language from the state department supposed to accomplish? Making us feel better?

    The folks at the U.N. seem to think ‘strongly worded’ resolutions will accomplish things in North Korea, Sudan, and would have worked if we had just been a little more patient with Saddam Hussein.

    Sorry if I was being to oblique Joe. When I say the only thing we should do is have the State Department issue harshly worded statements I am saying we should do nothing because that is what ‘strongly worded resolutioins’ do.

  20. And I wasn’t being even remotely oblique when I wrote that your strongly-worded telegrams from the State Department do less then nothing – they actually help their target by enhancing his prestige. At least, they do in cases like this.

  21. Ok, for the second time in the same thread, let me say I am not trying to pick a fight, but do you really think some after Nicaruaga’s economy goes to hell and Daniel O. curtails civil liberties and the U.S. criticizes him for his mishanlding of the economy, some poor farmer will think “Well, the economy has gone to hell since Dan O. has taken power and I see no hope for the future. But since the U.S. State Departemnt is criticizing him with a ‘Strongly Worded’ telegram, I find him more prestigious.”?

    When I talk of using harsh language I am trying (obviously failing) to be funny and making a subtle reference to Aliens. 🙂

  22. JKP writes:
    “American policies toward Central America generally and Nicaragua specifically have not always been wise, and often counterproductive. But let’s not fall over ourselves defending a group of Marxists thugs who ruled by force, nor condemn the United States for supporting those who opposed that Marxist brute force with force of their own. Was it a wise policy? Was it necessary for American security? Maybe, maybe not. Was it immoral? Hardly.”

    Objecting to U.S. support for violent thugs is not the same thing as supporting the government those thugs were fighting against. The human rights violations of the Sandinistas and the Contras are well-documented. But the idea that meddling in Nicaraguan affairs was “necessary for American security” is about as plausible as the Soviets saying their intervention in Afghanistan was necessary for theirs. Big countries with large, intimidating militaries have nothing to fear from profoundly impoverished small countries, though it has always been useful for aggression to be cloaked in claims stating otherwise.

    As a principle of a moral (and libertarian) foreign policy, let’s remember the John Quincy Adams lines Charles Oliver posted a few days back.

    “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

    But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

    She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

    She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

  23. Lurker Kurt,

    In part because of the pressure of the international community Nicaragua held elections in 1984 and 1990. Then again, the Sandinistas went through with those elections and actually gave up power in 1990.

  24. Lurker Kurt,

    And while this puts me in the uncomfortable position of defending the Sandinistas, the 1984 election in Nicaragua was probably the first election of free of major corruption in Nicaragua’s history. The 1990 election was even better. Whatever one wishes to say about them they were a far cry better when it comes to rule of law and electoral fairness than the Somoza regime.

  25. joe,

    I guess you are eating this up, huh? 😉

  26. Grotius,

    Don’t forget the part where the Reagan administration denounced the 1984 elections as fraudulent, before they ever happened, and the contras carried out a terrorist campaign against voters and poll workers in an attempt to get them cancelled.

    Yes, I’m eating this up. It’s good to see at least one other person who understands that democratic institutions are more important than making sure “the right people” are in charge.

    I know you’ve got no love for the likes of Ortega, so tip o’ the cap for your principled stand.

  27. Gag… Joe’s got… gag… Joe’s got it… er… uh… Joe’s got it right.

    There… I said it.

    Damn. That didn’t hurt after all.

    CB

  28. The Contras were a coalition of many people…

    So is Hamas.

    Was it a wise policy? Was it necessary for American security? Maybe, maybe not. Was it immoral? Hardly.

    If giving money and training to an organization that regularly commits acts of terrorism isn’t immoral, then nothing is immoral.

  29. Les,

    The eyewitness descriptions of what some elements of the Contras did to the civilian population aren’t too terribly much different than the sorts of things one hears of Islamic terrorists.

  30. Grotius,

    Not too different at all. Torture, rape, all the good stuff. And I’ll remind JKP that we supported this terrorist organization with the explicit goal of overthrowing a democratically elected government. You don’t have to defend the wretched Sandinistas to have the stones to condemn our barbaric foreign policy at the time (and throughout the Cold War).

  31. You don’t have to defend Hugo Chavez or Jean-Bertrand Aristide to have the stones to condemn our barbaric foreign policy towards Latin America under Bush, either.

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