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Tue Jun 1, 2021, 01:03 AM

Ronald Reagan Made Central America a Killing Field


AN INTERVIEW WITH
GREG GRANDIN

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration used Central America as a testing ground to rehabilitate US imperial "hard power" after defeat in Vietnam. The results were predictable: death squads, massacres, and murderous repression of left-wing movements.

INTERVIEW BY
Sasha Lilley

Latin America has played a crucial role in the history of US empire — and not simply because of its proximity to the US. As historian Greg Grandin argues in the recently reissued Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States and the Making of an Imperial Republic (reviewed by Hilary Goodfriend for Jacobin here), countries south of the border have been used as a crucible in the formation of US policy, a testing ground for its imperial theories, and a touchstone for domestic movements.

One critical moment was the rise of Reaganism, when neoconservatives like Jeane Kirkpatrick and Elliott Abrams steered the US’s foreign policy and rank-and-file members of the New Right took a keen interest in fighting left-wing movements in Central America. Right-wing leaders later used the lessons they gleaned from brutal counterinsurgency programs in El Salvador in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a recent appearance on the California-based progressive radio show Against the Grain, Grandin spoke with radical journalist Sasha Lilley about the many ways Latin America’s resistance to US empire has reshaped American politics. Their conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

How important has Latin America been for the United States as an imperial power?

GG
It’s been critically important. It’s easy to talk about Latin America as a site in which the US imposes its imperial will, carries out coups and regime changes, and pays no attention to the consequences and disastrous results. But there’s another story to tell. Latin America was a challenge to the founders of the United States. They immediately had to deal with the fact that the Western Hemisphere had multiple republics, and that they shared with the founders of the United States a sense of American exceptionalism.

More:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/05/greg-grandin-empires-workshop-latin-america

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 01:07 AM

1. Yep. Among all the other crimes and moral disasters of that abbreviated brain stem. N/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 01:40 AM

2. And no one in administration paid price

In fact many got jobs in later administrations, or got shows on Fox,vsome minor sentences, some pardoned if I recall correctly.
Sad times indeed.

Peace

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Response to hibbing (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 03:56 AM

5. Despite being called the

Reagan administration, it was in reality the HWBush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration....Same players in the HWBush administration, and brought back for the W administration.

HW had to pardon a whole bunch from the Reagan years so they could go back to work in HW's admin.....

HW brought in that same group repeatedly. So in the past 40 years, that group controlled everything for 20 years.
This Republican mess we are in started in 1980.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 03:12 AM

3. K&R

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 03:17 AM

4. Hey, it was for a cause. The cause of making more killing fields in Iran and Iraq.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 04:35 AM

6. Well...

... not to quibble with the main point of this piece, but my belief is that is that it misses one important point. Ron and Nancy were not all that interested in this area. They allowed the VP and his ideas to take over... he was not "out of the loop" at all. Again, not to take away their responsibility... but I don't believe the Reagans had an interest or understanding about what we were doing in Latin America.

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Response to Mike Nelson (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 08:08 AM

7. Didn't Reagan actually say, after a trip to Latin America,

"You'd be surprised, they're all different countries down there," or words to that effect?

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 10:00 AM

8. I don't know if it's true, but I can easily imagine him saying that.

His ignorance so clear despite his successful disguise of his "folksy" demeanor.

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Response to Mike Nelson (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 10:09 AM

9. It may easy be that you're unaware of a longer view of Reagan's history, but it does extend.....

back to his earlier days in California, when his career as an actor was less than stellar, and he became the head of the Screen Actors Guild, and started throwing fellow actors under the Joe McCarthy Communist Witch Hunt bus:

Hollywood blacklist


The blacklist begins (1946–1947)
On July 29, 1946, William R. Wilkerson, publisher and founder of The Hollywood Reporter, published a "TradeView" column entitled "A Vote For Joe Stalin". It named as Communist sympathizers Dalton Trumbo, Maurice Rapf, Lester Cole, Howard Koch, Harold Buchman, John Wexley, Ring Lardner Jr., Harold Salemson, Henry Meyers, Theodore Strauss, and John Howard Lawson. In August and September 1946, Wilkerson published other columns containing names of numerous purported Communists and sympathizers. They became known as "Billy's List" and "Billy's Blacklist".[13][14] In 1962, when Wilkerson died, his THR obituary stated he had "named names, pseudonyms and card numbers and was widely credited with being chiefly responsible for preventing communists from becoming entrenched in Hollywood production – something that foreign film unions have been unable to do."[15] In a 65th-anniversary article in 2012, Wilkerson's son apologized for the paper's role in the blacklist, stating that his father was motivated by revenge for his own thwarted ambition to own a studio.[16]

In October 1947, drawing upon the list named in The Hollywood Reporter, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed a number of persons working in the Hollywood film industry to testify at hearings. The committee had declared its intention to investigate whether Communist agents and sympathizers had been planting propaganda in American films.[14][17]

The hearings began with appearances by Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors Guild. Disney testified that the threat of Communists in the film industry was a serious one, and named specific people who had worked for him as probable Communists.[18] Reagan testified that a small clique within his union was using "communist-like tactics" in attempting to steer union policy, but that he did not know if those (unnamed) members were communists or not, and that in any case he thought the union had them under control.[19] (Later his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, stated in her biography written with Joe Morella [1985] that Reagan's allegations against friends and colleagues led to tension in their marriage, eventually resulting in their divorce.) Actor Adolphe Menjou declared: "I am a witch hunter if the witches are Communists. I am a Red-baiter. I would like to see them all back in Russia."[20]

More:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_blacklist

It picked up speed when he was the Governor of California, and started acting as the hand of right-wing racist reactionary god, attacking poor people of color who needed government assistance, making it a central point of his public posture, then moved on to end government involvement in providing care for mentally ill Americans, closing hospital care sections for them, literally sending them out into the streets without anywhere to go. Some towns actually herded them onto buses and sent them to other towns.

He also prided himself on his extreme treatment of war protesters during the VietNam war.

~ ~ ~

Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon
In newly unearthed audio, the then–California governor disparaged African delegates to the United Nations.

JULY 30, 2019
Tim Naftali
Clinical associate professor of history at NYU

The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.

https://soundcloud.com/user-154380542

More:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/ronald-reagans-racist-conversation-richard-nixon/595102/

~ ~ ~

US citizens at the time he was doing these things, long before his Presidency, were well aware of the path he took to get there, and it was an unpleasant one, I'm sorry to say. I feel sorry for his biological son when I see him on TV, as he is such a bright, personable man, and I regret he has had to pretend he is proud of his dad's career, as it's clear he cared for him.

Reagan of course had so many supporters, just like Nixon, and they are clearly everywhere now as evidenced by the awakening created by Trump which brought the very loud "silent majority" out in droves.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 01:08 PM

10. Well...

... I don't think Ronald Reagan's career was an actor was ever "stellar" - Jane Wyman was an A-lister, for sure, but Ronnie was a second tier actor. I think Disney and Reagan were wrong for supporting Joe McCarthy. I'm a Californian and people do still recall his time as Governor - but not fondly. I do like Ron Reagan Jr. tho... great guy!

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 01:55 PM

11. One incident that sticks in my mind:

Last edited Wed Jun 2, 2021, 09:05 AM - Edit history (1)

When Reagan was governor there was a report issued by disability advocates detailing the horrific conditions in California's state hospitals and institutions. There was nothing especially unique about California in that regard--all across the country the massive state institutions that housed tens of thousands of disabled people were all pretty inhuman. But Reagan's reaction was rather special: he accused the people exposing these conditions of being communists seeking to undermine the American way of life.

The man was just so despicable. His election in 1980 was the beginning of the long slide into the sewer that gave us four years of the Slobfather.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 11:26 PM

13. Very interesting he was carrying slinging "commie" labels at investigative journalists!

Of course, it's 100% Republican quality behavior, through and through. If anyone does anything you don't like, your next step is to sling a "commie" label, or a racially offensive insult. They are so limited.

Delighted to hear your "Slobfather" handle. It really, really fits.



No one human would stoop this low. "Slobfather" would definitely apply.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jun 1, 2021, 09:24 PM

12. Contributing to Immigration Problem

By creating chaos and disorder, instead of building alliances and economic cooperation, the situation has become desperate. Hence the people being forced to choose between staying in the countries they love and fleeing to stay alive. Pathetic.

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