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Monday, July 4, 2016

Have a Happy 4th! (In Memory of Ben Linder)


(This piece also appears at CounterPunch under the title "Too Close for Comfort: Ben Linder, Elliott Abrams and Hillary Clinton.")

You cannot stress the point too much.  When (not if) Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States of America, U.S. foreign relations will take a step back thirty years to the dark ages of Ronald Reagan.

By comparison, the age of Obama’s drone wars will appear delicate.

The danger of a Hillary Clinton presidency will rear its ugly head from day one, when she officially huddles with the Council on Foreign Relations and its Middle East policy “educator,” Elliott Abrams.

Because neocons like Hillary Clinton more than they do the unpredictable villain Donald Trump, this setup is not a secret and Abrams is but one of Clinton’s many neoconservative champions.

Elliott Abrams is a dangerous man, and everything he scribbles proves it.  Read at your leisure.

One of the most infuriating and shameful acts of U.S. foreign policy in my time, excluding the Vietnam War, which amounted to a genocide beyond the pale, was the Reagan Administration's support of the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s. The Sandinista rebel, Daniel Ortega, had come to power on the promise of economic reform in the Central American nation after the overthrow of the U.S. backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza.

Somoza, a U.S.-educated elite from a family of dictators, initially fled, his suitcases stuffed with cash, to Miami in 1979.  President Jimmy Carter threw him out and he alit in Paraguay, where Sandinista hitmen finished him off in 1980.

Along came the Reagan Revolution after Carter’s perfunctory humanism—recall Carter was as anti-Soviet Union as the next American politician.

Ortega's promise to attack poverty and illiteracy in Nicaragua had swept him into power via free elections and threatened U.S. influence in the region. Reagan and his underlings fought back with all the poison the CIA could muster, including the illegal arms-for-hostages deal with Iran and the arming of anti-Ortega rebels—the so-called Contras, mainly the malingerers of Somoza’s security forces.

Reagan used the long-dead horse of falling dominoes to justify his policy, while later claiming ignorance of the deal.  A mostly complacent America went along with the ruse, one of the last incongruities of Cold War containment philosophy.

Into the Nicaraguan conflagration walked a Portland, Oregon kid named Ben Linder, an idealistic and committed activist with a recently-earned engineering degree from the University of Washington. Ben was working on a small hydroelectric project in a rural area north of Managua, April, 1987, when the Contras found him and two local co-workers, tossed grenades at them, and finished the trio off with bullets to the head. Ben and his friends were assassinated by a U.S. sponsored death squad. Our nation was, in the very least, morally culpable.

But you couldn't tell that to Florida Rep. Connie Mack III, grandson of the baseball legend, and State Department functionary Elliott Abrams after the brutal act. They blamed Ben Linder.

Going before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ben's parents sought answers about why their son had to die, and blamed U.S. policy-makers for his death. What transpired at those hearings is one of the most despicable and disgraceful abuses of power in the U.S.'s long history of despicable and disgraceful abuses.

Abrams and Mack seemed to relish their roles as protectors of the CIA-sponsored right-wing death squads controlling the Nicaraguan countryside.

Ben’s mother, Elizabeth, pleaded that the U.S. government should go after the killers.  Abrams and Mack angrily told her to mind her own business.

They were heartless, and the entire fiasco was on television for all to see.

That Elliott Abrams could resurface on George W. Bush's team, after being convicted in 1991 of obstruction charges related to his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, is all you need to know about the deep corruption of the power-elite lineage in America.

Now Abrams, who has grown up to become the senior fellow for Middle East studies at the CFR is counting Hillary Clinton among his friends.  The courting and first kiss is about to happen.

Wait for it.


TS

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