Thursday, February 4, 2010

Their Responsibilities and Ours

When it comes to terrorism there are those demands that the U.S. government places on others and then there are the standards to which the U.S. government holds itself.

Jose Posada Carriles is quite a prolific terrorist. He bombed a Cuban civilian airliner in Venezuela, but this is among the least of his crimes. Far more horrendous was his involvement in arming the Nicaraguan Contras. Terrorist action against Nicaragua was condemned by a World Court decision, a U.N. General Assembly Resolution, and Security Council resolutions if you ignore the U.S. veto.

He managed to escape a Venezuelan prison and enter the U.S. illegally. Venezuela requested his extradition. But this was a problem for the U.S. as explained in the "liberal" Boston Globe.
After his escape from a Venezuelan prison, Posada Carriles was hired by US covert operatives to direct the resupply operation for the Nicaraguan contras from El Salvador. Extraditing him for trial could send a worrisome signal to covert foreign agents that they cannot count on unconditional protection from the US government, and it could expose the CIA to embarrassing public disclosures from a former operative. It also would infuriate some members of Florida's Cuban exile community who gave George W. Bush crucial support in both his presidential election victories.

Tough choice. On the one hand you've got a terrorist. On the other you don't want to discourage CIA covert action (more terrorism). What to do? Well, the courts decided to reject Venezuela's request. Today Carriles lives in Miami with his wife.

A day following the court's decision FBI director Robert Mueller asked Europe to speed their extradition process. Here is how it is reported in the Financial Times.
“We are always looking to see how we can make the extradition process go faster,” Mr Mueller told the FT. “We think we owe it to the victims of terrorism to see to it that justice is done efficiently and effectively.”


HispanicPundit said...

Missing is the moral element. Killing communists is not that bad. :-)

I kid...sort of.

Jon said...

Here's my contention for you, though I can't say I've proved it. I understand your logic. If a country goes Communist, whether democratically or not, that's a threat to you, so you have moral grounds for opposing with violence.

My contention is that communism is not a threat to you. The Soviet Union was a threat. I'll agree on that. But not communism. The Soviets weren't really socialists. They called themselves that for the propaganda effect, but socialism at it's core is about worker control. The workers should own the mills. That's not what you had in the Soviet Union. The state owned everything. That's not socialism.

So a Venezuelan peasant thinks the public should share in the wealth of the natural resources of a country. That's not a threat to you. I think it is portrayed as a threat because in our political climate there's only one way to overthrow a government that the wealthy and powerful don't like. Portray them as a threat. Then you can swoop in and install a government to your liking and divert the profits generated from the resources from the public back to the corporate interests.

HispanicPundit said...

The soviet union having a more than sympathetic country in our backyard can be seen, by reasonable people, as a threat to us.

Soviet union indirectly funds FSLN, I think its only appropriate that the USA indirectly fund the Contras.

But my response, and joke, goes deeper than that. Communists, threat or no threat, were not good people. That philosophy makes nazi's look like saints.

So I dont get too worked up about it. Sure, this guy was bad...but certainly no worse than a guy who made it his life mission to kill 'peaceful' Nazi's. Not some guy I would invite to my house for dinner...but not the scum of the earth either.

Jon said...

No, you are mistaken about Soviet funding of the FSLN. What happened was the U.S. initiated a terrorist war and Nicaragua looked for arms. The U.S. blocked every avenue. The only unblocked entity was the Soviet Union, so yes finally they did accept arms. But they also pointed out that they would be happy to accept French Mirages if the U.S. would get out of the way. So what we had was the U.S. blocked every non-communist avenue of support and when they finally did accept the communist support the U.S. decried them as in league with the Soviets.

Their trade with the Soviet Union as a proportion was about the same as ours as well.

You don't have to be a Nazi to think that the wealth of your country belongs to the public and not private corporations. If someone votes as such and you won't worry if they are blown out of the sky in a commercial jet or if foreign funded mercenaries enter the peasant village and kill a few unarmed people? This is where we differ.

HispanicPundit said...

Thats one view...the other view is that the Soviets were influencing before...certainly the CIA thought so...though it was certainly indirect (ie, via Cuba, via Soviets).

I'm not going to get into whether the ideology itself was as innocent as you portray it. But I will say that communists, historically, have always resulted in the implementation of mass violence. Therefore killing communists and slowing the progress of communist countries might have...indeed likely has...resulted in net lives saved.

Just compare Cuba to Chile...if only the USA had succeeded in interfering in Cuba like it did in Chile, we'd have a very different world.

Jon said...

Certainly the CIA thought so? What are you basing that on? I don't think that's true.

So your position is that since leftist governments have in some cases killed a lot of people then we shouldn't be too concerned if civilians from left leaning countries are executed?

As I said, I don't think Nicaragua or Vietnam or Haiti was ever a threat to America. What it is in my view is that when governments are installed that certain powerful people don't like, then in our political climate the only way to justify violence against them in the mind of the public is to convince the public that they are a threat to you. Imagine if Liechtenstein was invaded by the Soviets and they claimed that this tiny country was a danger to them. We'd die from laughter. Why then would this be any different for tiny Vietnam or tiny Nicaragua?

So let's compare Cuba to Chile. In Cuba ever since around 1961 the U.S. has engaged in aggressive terrorism and economic warfare. Whereas in Chile the U.S. violently installed a brutal dictator that was on trial for war crimes at his death. He shipped thousands to concentration camps for extermination. So Chile is better than Cuba? Perhaps. War tends to impoverish countries.

HispanicPundit said...

If you put down the Chomsky book and read popular history, you would see. (teasing);-)

Check out Wiki, even they admit it as early as 1967:

see here

What, are you saying Chomsky left that out of his history of the situation??? No way! I am shocked!!! Shocked, I tell you!

Again, let me repeat, nobody in the Reagan administration thought that Nicaragua was a threat...they thought Nicaragua's relationship to the Soviet Union was a threat. Fundamental difference.

Also, what the United States is doing here is not unique. Europe, for example, will not extradite criminals to the United States if they believe we will execute them. Its their belief regarding executions that prevent them from following extradition treaties. Add in the moral dimension with the Contras and were not that different.

The difference between Cuba and Chile is in ideology: Cuba was left with a radical leftist, Chile a radical capitalist. The economic results afterwords are predictable.

Jon said...

Your link says nothing about Soviet involvement in Nicaragua. That's the claim you made that I was referring to.

So what was the relationship that Nicaragua had with the Soviet Union that was threatening? As I said before their trade with them was about the same as ours.

To see an equivalence between refusing to extradite because you believe the offending country would punish excessively and because you don't want to reveal secrets related to your own terrorist activities or compromise future terrorist activities sounds just a little strange to me.

Another difference between Cuba and Chile is that Cuba has been subjected to far more violence and has had far more extensive economic warfare committed against it. To point simply to left vs right when so many other circumstances are ignored is just far too much simplification.

I saw in this movie IOUSA that some believe the real end of the British Empire came when the U.S. made some demands regarding the extraction of the British military (can't remember which country they were in) and when they didn't agree the U.S. threatened to call in our debts and kick their butt financially. They then withdrew. Financial warfare is extremely devastating and powerful. We've been engaged in economic warfare against Cuba for 50 years. Isn't that a factor in their tough economic situation?

HispanicPundit said...

Cuba, certainly by 1967, had a strong relationship with the Soviet Union. So when you read that Nicaragua had a strong relationship with Cuba, and Cuba helped fund the FSLN...that doesnt send out any warning signs???

Come on Jon...if you are going to be conspiracy theorists, why dont you apply it equally? Add in the fact that much of Cuba's economy was supported by the Soviet Union and you get an almost A = B, B = C ==> A = C.

Trade relationships are really beside the point. Take for example, modern day Venezuela, we are one of the biggest purchasers of their primary export, oil. Would you then conclude that we have a decent or even great relationship with Hugo Chavez?

Regarding financial and trade sanctions...the difference is that such sanctions are consistent with the philosophy that Castro supports: communism. Of course he would still like to have remittances sent to his country but thats a different story.

Jon said...

I don't think it follows that it was Soviet support since Cuba had Soviet support. But even if it was it just seems like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. The U.S. is obviously intervening in your country and you're trying to start a political organization. In Guatemala or El Salvador with the power of the U.S. backed regimes you'll just be slaughtered if you belong to an opposition party. If Cuba comes in and tries to provide some support, now this is evidence of Soviet efforts to destroy us and once again these Latin Americans can be slaughtered with impunity. Either way the conclusion is the same. Those that think differently from you will be killed. This is not good.

Cuban/Soviet intervention is a big problem for you. Nobody approaches the U.S. in terms of intervention. And violent intervention. I think this is another illustration of their responsibilities as opposed to our own.

Castro's communism means isolation? Why am I working so much with China then? My point is your claim that Chile is rightward and Cuba is leftward and this proves that rightward is better is an oversimplification. There are many other important factors.

HispanicPundit said...

Of course you dont think Nicaragua had Soviet support...cuz if you did, you know it would seriously undermine your argument. But my point isn't to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was Soviet point was to show you that its reasonable to assume that there was Soviet support. The CIA believed it. The President of the United States believed it. And I think based on the connections, an objective observer without a priori commitments would believe it too.

The fact that it runs counter to the image Chomsky wants to portray is frankly beside the point.

Remember, the Contra's didn't start until long after 1967...long after Nicaragua had a strong relationship with Cuba (and indirectly to Soviet Union). If you want to get mad at foreign intervention...look to Cuba and Soviet Union first. The USA is just responding in kind.

Regarding Cuba, you write: "Castro's communism means isolation? Why am I working so much with China then?"

Wow. Are you really implying that China => Free Trade and China ==> Communism therefore Communism => Free trade? Are you denying my claim that communism is against free trade? This is not a radical claim here. It's a fact. Karl Marx and communism in general emphasize closed economies. It is part of their philosophy. A fundamental part even (your lack of economic knowledge continues to disappoint).

The fact that China is doing otherwise is NOT an argument against such a claim. It is merely an example of what the whole world already knows (and apparently you dont), namely: That China is no longer communist. It is, by many measures, moving in a free market direction. It has been going on since Deng Xiaoping in 1978. To imply otherwise is to be deeply ignorant of history.

The proper analogy is not to look at China today, but China yesterday...or North Korea. They were both communist and anti-trade and...not surprisingly...afflicted with severe poverty.

Jon said...

It doesn't seriously undermine my argument. I said "even if the Soviets were providing support" and went on to make the point that this is a kill if you do kill if you don't type of proposition, which I think is immoral.

The terrorist war against Nicaragua was not a "response in kind." The Samoza dynasty was nothing but a propped up U.S. dictatorship that had been around before the FSLN was formed. If anything it is Cuba responding in kind, not the other way around.

And even on your erroneous understanding, this is not a response "in kind." In El Salvador and Guatemala members of parties in opposition to the client U.S. regime were just executed on an enormous scale. Cuba didn't do that. Providing assistance is one thing. The question is, does that assistance undermine the ability for the people to freely elect a government of their own choosing? In El Salvador and Guatemala the answer is yes. In Nicaragua their elections were regarded as fair by non-U.S. bodies.

On your view Castro should be happy with the embargo. I don't think he is. I think that's a convenient straw man. "Yeah, we engage in economic warfare, but it must be that they like it." I don't think so.

Maybe I'm uninformed, but I take communism to be about abolition of private ownership and classes. People work in a sort of "commune" where it's output according to your ability and "wages" according to the need. I don't know why that means isolation, but maybe I'm wrong. Who cares though. That's not what they want. That's not what Nicaragua wanted. And it is destructive. That's what matters. So don't simplify their economic situation as you do.

HispanicPundit said...

How could you have free trade if there is no private property? Its fundamental to communism...this is why no communist society engages in free trade.

Regarding the FSLN, I've said everything I have to say on the topic. Readers can make up their own mind.

Jon said...

OK, so Cuba is not communist then. Niether is China. Neither is Venezuela. Does that now mean you would agree that slaughtering civilians from those countries is wrong?

Jon said...

And by the way I haven't noticed from you any reservations about engaging in terrorism. Would you say you are a supporter of terrorism?

Jon said...

Another by the way. I don't agree that Communism has always resulted in mass violence. In Vietnam the communist party enjoyed massive support without any need to resort to violence. In the 50's the U.S. was wiping out villages of supporters of communists, which was basically the majority of the population, and retaliation wasn't authorized by the North for years. Nicaraguan communists permitted free and critical press. Press that was funded by the U.S. They permitted free political association, unlike the right wing dictatorships near them, backed by the U.S.

It seems to me that basically large and powerful states tend to be violent. Small weaker states are less so. So the Soviet Union and China were violent. The U.S. is violent. Israel is very powerful and very violent. So it seems that the correlation is more between power and violence than leftism and violence.

HispanicPundit said...

I dont think Venezuela is communist...atleast not yet. Certainly modern day China is not communist. They, like India, have moved FAR AWAY from their socialist tendencies (and their vast economic growth since is no coincidence). They would be classified as mixed capitalist the United States and many European countries, with just varying degree of 'mixed'.

Cuba still is. They still heavily restrict private property. The government still produces most of the goods and services.

Also, I never denied that it was 'wrong' to slaughter civilians from even communist countries. Please Jon, try and read and atleast UNDERSTAND what I wrote - even if you disagree with it. I do it with your writing and I'd appreciate it if you did it with mine.

All I said was that it was less wrong to kill a communist. This makes sense to me.

For example, wouldnt you agree that it is less wrong to kill a gangster than a cop? Sure, both are humans and deserve human rights - so its definitely not right to kill either one. But wouldnt you agree that killing one carries a slightly different moral weight than killing the other? It was that point I was trying to make.

Simple concept for those of us who can think along gray lines. Very difficult for moralist, black and white, people to understand. But its a distinction everybody makes.

Jon said...

A gangster is a criminal. Someone that pulls the lever to elect Allende or the Sandinistas is not.

So do you support terrorism when it is your country engaging in it?

HispanicPundit said...

Not all gangsters are criminals...merely being from a gang makes you a criminal.

But you can substitute anything else in the definition. Gangster, Nazi, Racist, Fascist, Communist etc.

Jon said...

No answer to my terrorism question I see.