The Reagan Legacy

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by gifford1967, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. gifford1967

    gifford1967 Contributing Member

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    I'm starting this thread as a space where Reagan's policies can be freely discussed and debated. Personally, I have refrained from commenting in the threads about his illness and death out of respect for him and his supporters. However, I think it is very important to rigorously examine his presidency and it's consequences.

    My personal politics were heavily influenced by the Reagan Administration. As a teenager, I saw the movie Salvador, which deals with U.S. policy in El Salvador at the time of the transition between the Carter and Reagan administrations. I was stunned and found it very difficult to believe that the U.S. would support a regime like that in El Salvador, that was responsible for torturing and massacring thousands of their own people, as well as the rape and murder of U.S. nuns. So, I began to research the subject on my own and found the broad outlines of the situation depicted in Salvador to be accurate. That process began my active participation in politics.
     
    #1 gifford1967, Jun 8, 2004
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2004
  2. RocketMan Tex

    RocketMan Tex Contributing Member

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    The only thing you have to do in order to understand the legacy of Ronald Reagan's presidency is take a look at a homeless person at an intersection, begging for money.
     
  3. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    excellent oped in the WSJ today on reaganism, and how it differs from traditional conservatism and rightist movements in other nations. i agree that what truely distinguishes his legacy, and modern conservatism, be it neo, religious, or paleo, is it's optimism. i do wish modern conservatism could find a way to incorporate values in the moral sense w/o the accompanying culture war overtones. i'm largely uncomfortable with the influence of religion in politics, the left is just as guilty in its absolutist positions on some issues such as abortion (some restrictions are reasonable), the death penalty (with incontrovertible DNA evidence), gun control (hand guns and automatic weapons should be outlawed), and gay marriage (it's inevitable, and social conservatives should recognize it strengthens the family).

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/ac/?id=110005188

    --
    Reaganism
    The Gipper's brand of conservatism is unique to America.
    BY JOHN MICKLETHWAIT AND ADRIAN WOOLDRIDGE
    Tuesday, June 8, 2004

    There is one thing that virtually every obituarist, left, right or center, has agreed upon about Ronald Reagan: that he was a "conservative"--the embodiment of a movement that first appeared on the national stage with Barry Goldwater in 1964, seized the White House through the Gipper's 1980 victory and still holds the presidency under George W. Bush. But what exactly does "conservative" mean?

    For Mr. Reagan himself, his creed often seemed a matter of emotion rather than philosophy, and it was broad enough to include raising taxes (on occasion) and signing one of America's most liberal abortion laws (which he did in California). As if to underline those contradictions, Mr. Reagan has duly been hailed this week as an inspiration, both by Buchananite isolationists and by imperialist neoconservatives; by libertarians and by Christian moralists; by Arnold Schwarzenegger and by Jerry Falwell.

    This fuzzyness about Reaganism reflects a more general fuzzyness about American conservatism in general. Some of the American right's great chroniclers, including George Nash, have concluded that its contradictions make it pointless to define: American conservatism is simply what American conservatives do. Mr. Reagan plainly had no conservative equivalent of Mao's Red Book, no uniform that fitted all his followers. Indeed, the movement that gathered around him (and still gathers around Mr. Bush) was similar to a medieval army, with people wearing the tunics of different causes, such as property rights or the right to life.

    But stand back and compare Ronald Reagan's very American brand of conservatism with its counterparts around the world, and you can identify a clear mainstream. There has been, to put it bluntly, nothing like it anywhere else.

    American conservatives have been exceptional in two ways: in the ideas that they espouse and the movement they have created. Mr. Reagan typified both. The best way to think about the ideas he preached, from his speeches for Barry Goldwater in 1964 to his last letter in 1994, is as a reformation.

    Mr. Reagan may not have been an intellectual, but his sort of conservatism, just like the religious upheaval started by Martin Luther (another anti-intellectual populist) 500 years ago, combined renewal with heresy. The established faith that Mr. Reagan's generation of American conservatives reinterpreted was classical conservatism (the conservatism whose most eloquent prophet remains Edmund Burke), and the heresy they introduced was classical liberalism (the creed of the Enlightenment and John Stuart Mill).

    Traditional conservatism was based on six principles: a suspicion of the power of the state; a preference for liberty over equality; unashamed patriotism; a belief in established institutions and hierarchies; a pessimistic, backward-looking pragmatism; and elitism. This was the creed that Burke shaped into a philosophy in the 18th century--and that most famous conservatives, from Prince Metternich to Winston Churchill, understood in their bones. Mr. Reagan's conservatism exaggerated the first three of Burke's principles and contradicted the last three.

    The exaggerations are the easiest to spot. Ronald Reagan did not merely dislike taxation in the manner of the East Coast Rockefeller Republicans who ran his party in the 1950s; he saw government as the enemy. An early patron of Freedom Forum bookshops in California (where they sold books with titles like "The Naked Communist"), he also took a Western approach to individual freedom, whether it was allowing people to carry guns or tolerating a high level of inequality. As for patriotism, conservatives are a nationalistic bunch, but Mr. Reagan celebrated his country in religious terms--as "the city on the hill" that God had chosen as the special agent of His purpose on earth.

    If Reaganism had been merely a more vigorous form of old-style conservatism, then it would have been more predictable. In fact, Mr. Reagan-- who began his political life as a New Deal Democrat--took a resolutely liberal approach to Burke's last three principles: hierarchy, pessimism and elitism.

    The heroes of Burke's conservatism were paternalist squires, who knew their place in society and made sure everybody else did as well. Mr. Reagan's heroes were rugged individualists, defined by the fact that they do not know their place. He packed his kitchen cabinet with entrepreneurs who built up businesses out of nothing and he worshipped the cowboy. He kept a bronze saddle in the Oval Office and--rather magnificently--rushed to appoint Malcolm Baldridge as commerce secretary when he discovered that he liked going to rodeos.

    Mr. Reagan took an equally heretical attitude to the fifth attribute, pessimism. Churchill famously "preferred the past to the present and the present to the future." By contrast, Mr. Reagan was fond of Tom Paine's adage that "we have it in our power to begin the world over again." When Walter Mondale questioned the cost of America's space program, Mr. Reagan proclaimed that "the American people would rather reach for the stars than reach for excuses why we shouldn't."

    As for the sixth characteristic, elitism, instead of dreaming about creating an educated "clerisy" (as Coleridge and T.S. Eliot did) Mr. Reagan was a populist who argued that "Bedtime for Bonzo made more sense than what they were doing in Washington." His was the conservatism not of country clubs and boardrooms, but of talk radio, precinct meetings and tax revolts.

    Like all generalizations, ours come with exceptions. Mr. Reagan allied himself with authoritarian Evangelicals; some fairly feudal Southerners; elitist neoconservatives; and William Buckley, who founded The National Review in 1955 with the intention of standing "athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'" American conservatism, indeed, has many tributaries. Yet the mainstream that gathered around Mr. Reagan still looks distinct--not just from the more tepid Republicanism that preceded it, but also markedly from European conservatives.

    The only European who spoke the same language as Ronald Reagan was Margaret Thatcher; and, as time slips by, she seems an ever more heretical figure--an American conservative who happened to be born in Grantham, not Houston. Her heirs in Britain's Conservative Party seem unsure whether they should cut taxes, even though the state eats up roughly 10% more of the economy than it does in America--and Britain, remember, is the country which is closest to America.

    This points to the exceptional strength of the movement that Mr. Reagan helped foster. When he went searching for radical ideas in the 1950s, he turned to European intellectuals such as Friedrich Hayek; there was no rive droite of conservative think tanks or foundations. Nowadays, it is no exaggeration to say that one building--1150 17th St. in Washington, D.C., which houses both the American Enterprise Institute and The Weekly Standard, as well as some smaller conservative organizations--contains more conservative standard-bearers than most European countries; and there are similar idea-labs in every state in the union.

    As for brawn, there are no European equivalents of America's antitax crusaders, gun-rights activists or religious right. America has 200 Christian TV channels and 1,500 Christian radio stations; nothing similar exists in Europe.

    These footsoldiers have changed American conservatism since Mr. Reagan left office. In particular, social conservatives have given Mr. Bush's presidency a much harder line on moral issues than Mr. Reagan, an easy-going divorcee, would have appreciated. But it is still plainly the same movement, particularly in its Southern and Western heartland.

    The fundamental fact about American conservatism is not just that it is conservatism but that it is "American." Reaganism has survived in so much better shape than Thatcherism because it went with the grain of American culture, tapping into many of the deepest sentiments in American life: religiosity, capitalism, patriotism, individualism, optimism. Look at any comparative poll overseas of national attitudes, and these are the areas where the U.S. sticks out a mile. Which perhaps also helps to explain why no other country has a similar force. Reaganism may have had its contradictions; but, from a global point of view, it still looks like America--only more so.

    Messrs. Micklethwait and Wooldridge, of The Economist, are the authors of "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America," just published by Penguin. This is part of an occasional series.
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    riiiiiiight, because reagan created the homeless....
     
  5. B-Bob

    B-Bob Contributing Member

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    basso, I appreciate the WSJ article, and honestly agree with over half of the paragraph you first posted in your own words, but Reagan's domestic policies did augment the homeless population, particularly the mentally ill homeless population. Waves of people were quite literally turned out of group homes onto the streets. It's just true. I literally watched it in one case.

    There were certainly homeless people from the dawn of civilization onward, but if we're going to be honest about Reagan, he did decide to gut certain social programs. Some problems got a lot worse. He wasn't perfect.
     
  6. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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  7. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    I'm surprised he finished that low in a Federalist society poll. I would think they would have him in the top 5.
     
  8. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/07/1927239

    Noam Chomsky on Reagan's Legacy: Bush Has Resurrected "The Most Extremist, Arrogant, Violent and Dangerous Elements" of Reagan's White House
    BY AMY GOODMAN

    DEMOCRACY NOW - The network and newspaper coverage of the death of Ronald Reagan has brought forth a chorus of praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. Much of the reporting and commentary, under the guise of respecting the dead, has represented a dramatic rewriting of the history of the Reagan years in office.

    Looking back at the Reagan presidency doesn't mean we actually have to look back. Many of the same people who populated his administration are in the George W. Bush administration as well: James Baker, Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, John Poindexter, John Negroponte, just to name a few.

    We asked leading dissident Noam Chomsky to reflect on the policies of Reagan's administration during his 8 years in power and Reagan's influence on the current Bush Administration.


    AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, can you talk about this, the people that are now running the administration are some of the very people who ran the Reagan administration more than 20 years ago?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: That's quite true. The Reagan administration is either the same people or their immediate mentors for the most part. I think one can say that the current administration is a selection of the more extremist and arrogant and violent and dangerous elements of the Reagan administration. So on things like - I mean, that is true on domestic and international policy they are, both in the Reagan years and now, they are committed to dismantling the components of the government that serve the general population -- social security, public schools and so on and so forth, but in a more extreme fashion now. Partly because they think they have achieved a sort of higher stage from which to launch the attack, and internationally it's pretty obvious. In fact, many of the older Reaganites and Bush, number one people have been concerned, even appalled by the extremism of the current administration in the international domain. That's why there was unprecedented elite criticism of the national security strategy and the implementation in Iraq - narrow criticism, but significant. So, yes, they're there, in fact, you cannot -- some of the examples are remarkable, including the ones that you mentioned. And very timely they picked Negroponte, who of course has just been appointed, the new ambassador to Iraq where he will head the biggest diplomatic mission in the world. The pretense is that we need this huge diplomatic mission to transfer full sovereignty to Iraqis and that's so close to self-contradiction that you have to admire commentators who sort of pretend not to notice what it means, also to overlook, consciously, what his role was in the Reagan administration. He also provided -- he was an ambassador in the Reagan years, ambassador to Honduras where he presided over the biggest C.I.A. station in the world, and the second largest embassy in Latin America, not because Honduras was of any particular significance to the U.S., but because he was responsible for supervising the bases from which the U.S. mercenary army was attacking in Nicaragua, and which ended up practically destroying it. By now, Nicaragua is lucky to survive a few generations. That was one part of the massive international terrorist campaign that the Reaganites carried out in the 1980's under the pretense they were fighting a war on terror. They declared a war on terror in 1981 with pretty much the same rhetoric that they used when they re-declared it in September 2001. It was a murderous terrorist war. It devastated Central America, had horrendous effects elsewhere in the world. In the case of Nicaragua, it was so extreme that they were condemned by the World Court, by two supporting Security Council Resolutions that the U.S. had to veto, after which, of course, they rejected the court judgment and then escalated the war to the point where finally the effects were extraordinary. By the analysis of their own specialists, the per capita deaths in Nicaragua would be comparable to about 2.5 million in the United States, which as they have pointed out is greater than the total number of casualties in all U.S. wars, including the Civil War and all wars in the 20th century, and what's left of the society is a wreck. Since the U.S. took over again, it's gone even more downhill. Now the second poorest in the hemisphere after Haiti and not coincidentally, the second major target of U.S. intervention in the 20th century after Haiti, which is first. The recent health administration statistics show that about 60% of children under two are suffering from severe anemia caused by malnutrition and probable brain damage. Costa Rica, the United States is trying to - doing enough low-level work so that they can send back some remittances to keep the families alive. It's a real victory. You can understand why Colin Powell and others are so proud of it. But Negroponte was charge of it in the first half the decade directly, and in the second half more indirectly in the State Department and National Security staff where he was Powell's adviser. And now he is -- he is supposed to undertake the same role and similar role in Iraq. He was called in Nicaragua "The Proconsul," and the "Wall Street Journal" was honest enough to run an article in which they headlined "Modern Proconsul" on which they mentioned his background in Nicaragua without going into it much and said, yes he will be the proconsul of Iraq. Now, that's a direct continuity, but there's a lot more than that. What you mentioned is correct. Elliot Abrams is an extreme case. I mean, he's now the head of the Middle East section of the National Security Council. He was -- as you know, he was sentenced for lying to Congress. He got a presidential pardon, but he was one of the most -- he was in charge in the State Department of the Central American atrocities, and on the Middle East, he is way out at the extreme end of the spectrum. This does reflect the -- in a way the continuity of policies, but also the shift towards extremism within that continuity.

    AMY GOODMAN: There was a very little critical comment about President Reagan this weekend on his death perhaps explained by his death, what happens when a person dies, and what people say or perhaps also because there is a kind of rewriting of history that has been going on. But one of the few people who were quoted in the mainstream media was the Mexican foreign minister, Jorge -- the former Mexican Jorge Castenada, whose father served as foreign minister as well in 1979 to 1982 who said Reagan was extremely unpopular in Mexico when he was president because of his policies in Central America, and what was viewed in Mexico as a Mexico-bashing campaign over drug trafficking. Reagan's involvement in Nicaragua and El Salvador, viewed in Mexico, he said was unwarranted meddling that was "interventionist, rooted in cold war rivalries and disrespectful of international law." Castenada conditioned, "not only were his policies viewed negatively, but he pressured Mexico enormously to change its foreign policies."

    NOAM CHOMSKY: That's correct. Casteneda is being diplomatic. He's understating with regard to the international law and with regard to the intervention. It was - it ended up with a couple hundred thousand people being killed and four countries ruined. And even the world - the US - the people now in office in Washington have the unique honor of being the only ones in the world who have been condemned by the World Court for international terrorism. That's a little more than what he said, but that's what he's aiming at. The unpopularity continues. The latest figures show that this George Bush, number two, latest Latin American figures, among Latin American elites, the ones who tend to be more supportive of the United States, I think it was about close to 90% opposition throughout the hemisphere and approximately, if I remember, 98% opposition to him in Mexico. But to be accurate, we should say that this goes way back. So, John F. Kennedy was -- tried very hard to get Mexico to line up in his anti-Cuba crusade. A famous comment by a Mexican foreign minister when Kennedy tried to convince him that Cuba was to join in the terrorist war against Cuba and the economic embargo strangulation, in fact on the grounds that Cuba was a threat to the security of the hemisphere and the Mexican ambassador said he had to decline, the prime minister had to decline because if he tried to tell people in Mexico that Cuba was a security threat, 40 million Mexicans would die laughing, which is approximately the right answer. Here not so. The one point on which I think Casteneda's comment that you quote is really misleading is when he refers to cold war thinking and rivalries. There were no Russians in Latin America. In fact, the U.S. was trying very hard to bring them in. Take, say, Nicaragua, when the terrorist war against Nicaragua really took off, Nicaragua tried to get some military aid to defend itself. And they went first to European countries, France, others. The Reagan administration put extreme pressure on them not to send military aid because they were desperately eager for Nicaragua to get military aid from Russia or indirectly through Cuba. So they could then present it as a cold war issue. Nicaragua didn't fall into the trap as Guatemala had in 1954, basically the same scenario. So, they didn't get jet planes from Russia to defend their airspace against the U.S. attacks. They had every right to do it, but the responsibility to do it, but they understood the consequences. So, the Reagan administration had to float constant stories about how Nicaragua was getting MIG jets from Russia in order to try to create a cold war conflict. Actually it's very revealing to see the reaction here to those stories. Of course, Nicaragua had every right to do it. The C.I.A. had complete control over Nicaragua's airspace and was using it. It was using it to send communications to the guerrilla army, which was -- guerrilla is a funny word for it, computers and helicopters and so on to send them instructions so that they could follow the U.S. command orders to avoid the Sandinista army, the Nicaraguan army and to attack what are called soft targets, undefended civilian targets. It's a country that doesn't have a right to defend its airspace to protect that, I don't know what you can say. So obviously, they are a right to do it, but they didn't. They allowed the U.S. to have control of the airspace and to attack -- to use it to attack undefended targets.

    AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, you have written about the U.S. as being only country in the world to be convicted in the World Court of terrorism. And this had to do with the bombing of the Nicaraguan harbor, which took place under Reagan. Can you talk about that?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. That, too, is a little misleading. Nicaragua was hoping to end the confrontation through legal means, through diplomatic means.

    AMY GOODMAN: I mean the mining of the harbor.

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Yes, the mining of the harbors. They decided to -- they asked a legal team headed by a very distinguished American international lawyer, A. Chayes, professor of law at Harvard who had long government service, and that legal team decided to construct an extremely narrow case. So, they kept to matters that were totally uncontroversial, as the U.S. conceded like the mining of the harbors, but it was only a toothpick on a mountain. They picked the narrowest point in the hope that they could get a judgment from the World Court, which would lead the United States to back off from the whole international terrorist campaign, and they did win a judgment from the court, which ordered the U.S. to terminate any actions, any violent actions against Nicaragua, which went way beyond mining of the harbors. That was the least of it. So, yes, that was the narrow content of the court decision, although, if you read the decision, the court decision that goes well beyond, they're all conscious of the much wider terrorist campaign, but the Harvard - the Chayes run legal team didn't bring it up for good reasons. Because they didn't want any controversy at the court hearings about the facts. There was no controversy about that, since it was conceded. However, it should be read as a much broader indictment, and a very important one. I mean, the term that was used by the court was "unlawful use of force," which is the technical term for the informal notion, international terrorism. There's no legal definition of international terrorism in the international domain. So I bet it was in effect a condemnation of international terrorism over a much broader domain. However, we should bare in mind, it's important for us, that horrible as the Nicaragua war was, it wasn't the worst. Guatemala and El Salvador were worse. I suggest that in Nicaragua, the reason was that in Nicaragua, the population at least had an army to defend it. In El Salvador and Guatemala, the terrorist forces attacking the population were the army and the other security forces. There was no one to bring a case to the World Court that can be brought by governments, not by peasants being slaughtered.

    ...

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Chomsky, I wouldn't want to end this discussion without talking about the Reagan years and Africa, particularly southern Africa.

    NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the official policy was called "constructive engagement." I recall it during the 1980s, by then there was enormous pressure to end all support for the apartheid government. Congress passed legislation barring trade and aid. The Reagan administration found ways to evade the congressional legislation, and in fact trade with South Africa increased in the latter part of the decade. This is incidentally the period when Collin Powell moved to the position of national security adviser.

    The U.S. was strongly supporting the apartheid regime directly and then indirectly through allies. Israel was helping get around the embargo. Rather as in Central America where the clandestine terror made use of other states that served as -- that helped the administration get around congressional legislation. In the case of South Africa, just look at the rough figures. In Angola and Mozambique, the neighboring countries, in those countries alone, the South African depredations killed about million-and-a-half people and led to some $60 billion in damage during the period of constructive engagement with the u.s. support. It was a horror story.
     
  9. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member

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    Reagan was smarter than Bush when it came to tax cuts. He did make some tax cuts but at least he then immediately raised taxes in other areas to offset it somewhat. Yes the deficit and debt were increased by him, partially due to his economic policies and in part due to other factors only one of which was congressional spending. Reagan never had a balanced budget, and presided over the highest unemployment since the depression.

    In foreign policy there was his support of leftovers from the Samosa Regime in Nicaragua, he mined the harbors of that country which was never a threat to the U.S. He dealt arms to terrorist nations, and vetoed sanctions aimed at ending Apartheid rule in S. Africa. Luckily for Black South Africans congress overrode Reagan's veto.
     
  10. basso

    basso Contributing Member

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    hey, i didn't vote for the guy and i'm well aware of his shortcomings, and i've got many gay friends who blame him for the aids crisis, or at least the slow response to it. he also slashed funding for the arts, which i've got some problems with, although the NEA brought many of its problems on itself.

    mental institutions are state institutions however, and to blame nyc's or san francisco's homeless problems on reagan is reaching.
     
  11. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    No.......please, not this again!!!!! Are you guys channelling W or what?

    [​IMG]
    mmmmm........leftover samosas.....
    :mad: ;)
     
  12. RocketMan Tex

    RocketMan Tex Contributing Member

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    Wake up basso. Reagan's domestic policies literally pushed thousands of American citizens onto the street. If you don't believe this fact, then I suggest you take your blinders off and study the facts. Reagan cut federal funds to the states, which forced the states to close state programs that in turn forced these people onto the streets. To not blame this on Reagan is sheer naivete.
     
  13. Buck Turgidson

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    I would highly recommend reading Reagan: A Life in Letters. Definitely a more nuanced and intellectual man than is commonly portrayed.
     
  14. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/07/2022257

    Robert Parry On What the Corporate Media Forgot: The Reagan Administration's Manipulation of Intelligence and Exaggeration of Threats
    BY AMY GOODMAN

    DEMOCRACY NOW - "The U.S. News media's reaction to Ronald Reagan's death is putting on display what has happened to American public debate in the years since Reagan's political rise in the late 70's: a near total collapse of serious analytical thinking at the national level." So begins Robert Parry's latest piece at consortiumnews.com called "Raiding Reagan, A Bogus Legacy." Robert Parry is a veteran journalist. For years he worked as an investigative reporter for the associated press and "Newsweek" magazine. His reporting led to the exposure of what's now known as the Iran-Contra scandal.

    This is what President Reagan had to say as the Iran-Contra scandal was breaking:

    (Tape) PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: We did not -- repeat, did not -- trade weapons or anything else for hostages. Nor will we.

    AMY GOODMAN: That was President Reagan in 1986, but his statements changed a few months later.

    (Tape) PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

    AMY GOODMAN: President Reagan in 1986. Investigative reporter, Robert Parry, especially for listeners for viewers who were kids or not even born at the time, explain the Iran-Contra scandal, please.

    ROBERT PARRY: Well, Amy, the Iran-Contra scandal comes out of a couple of different initiatives that the Reagan administration was following. One was as Dr. Chomsky mentioned the war in Nicaragua, which had to be done with a great deal of deception surrounding it, because congress had opposed much of that effort. The international community had opposed much of that effort, so the Reagan administration essentially took it underground with the work people like Elliot Abrams and Oliver North and John Poindexter. On one side there was an effort to maintain support for the contras, who were engaged in fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. On the other side, there was a long-running policy, which we have traced back now to 1981 of secretly helping the Iranian government arm itself. That was in the context of the Iran-Iraq war where the U.S. policy became basically to secretly support both sides -- both the Iranian fundamentalist government of Khomeini, and the more secular government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. You had those two policies running in parallel form, and then when the financing for the contras became more and more problematic, the Reagan administration decided to use some of the profits from selling arms to the Iranians to help support the contras. So, that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal when it finally broke.

    AMY GOODMAN: And what about the context for this taking place. I wanted to play for you Ed Meese, the former attorney general, who is the one who broke to the national media the Reagan administration's admission of what had taken place. He was interviewed yesterday on Wolf Blitzer's "Late Edition" on CNN. This is former Reagan attorney general, Edwin Meese.

    (Tape) EDWIN MEESE: The association or relationship with moderate forces in Iran, and part of the agreement to show good faith was to provide some defensive weapons for them. Separately from that, we had the support of the freedom fighters. When you had some people in the White House that unauthorized -- took some of the profits from the sale of arms to Iran and diverted them to the support of the freedom fighters. That was the problem.

    AMY GOODMAN: He then went on to say, and I'd like to continue this quote of Edwin Meese, just to bring it right back up, to talk about president Reagan, what he did in terms of his admission. This is again former attorney general Edwin Meese.

    (Tape) EDWIN MEESE: I told the President what happened, and he said, Ed, we have to get this out to the American people as quickly as we can. He called the cabinet first and we had a meeting in which it was revealed to the cabinet. An hour later, he brought in the congressional leaders and presented the whole picture to them, and then at noon, brought the press together, had a press conference, and he introduced the subject and then he was actually entertaining the Supreme Court for lunch that day, and he had to excuse himself to do that, and he asked me, then, to explain the details to the press corps. It was something that he knew nothing about while it was going on in terms of the unauthorized activity, and which he was -- was quick to make sure that all of the facts came out to the public. I think that in itself probably saved his Presidency, at least enabled him to continue to be a successful president over the next two years, which were critical in ultimately our relationship with the Soviet Union and ending the cold war.

    AMY GOODMAN: Former Reagan attorney general, Edwin Meese. Your response, Bob Parry.

    ROBERT PARRY: Well, that really is not quite true. It is true that they -- that the -- Edwin Meese put out at a press conference in November of 1986, the basic facts that Oliver North and the team was working with made this transfer of money from the Iran shipment weapons to the contras. However, the -- what happened after that was simply a -- the placing of the original cover-up, which had been to protect Oliver North to making him the fall guy and essentially imposing a second cover-up. Which was designed to protect Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush, the Central Intelligence Agency and other entities of the administration that had been deeply involved in this operation in a very -- in various ways. It took a lot more work both from in the press and most significantly by Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor who investigated the Iran-Contra scandal to break through many, many barriers. Lawrence Walsh, a patrician republican, if you remember, named his book on this topic, "Firewall." The reason he used the name -- the title "Firewall" is because a firewall had been built to protect Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and other elements of the administration from the spread of the scandal. We learned later as the thing played out that there was a -- the C.I.A. remained directly involved in these operations, really through to the end. So, it wasn't a case of just Oliver North and a few men of zeal taking action, it was a case of an administration essentially bringing the policy underground and then when it was exposed in part, just replacing it with a new cover-up.

    AMY GOODMAN: Robert Parry today. The kind of discussion we're hearing over the last few days is more than the discussion of a man who has just died, but it's talking about a rewriting of the historical record. Can you talk about this discussion, whether it is in Central America or whether it's the discussion of President Reagan winning the cold war?

    ROBERT PARRY: Well, I think in essence Amy, what we have seen here is a continuation in this administration of some of the approaches that became -- that really became very prominent in the Reagan administration. First, there is the manipulating of intelligence, exaggerating dangers that occurred both in strategic level with the Soviet Union in trying to present the Soviet Union as much more aggressive and powerful and effective than it turned out to be. It was a country on the verge of collapse. Then also exaggerating the threats from praises like Nicaragua, which were a Third World countries that were very much on the defensive and they were presented as threats to the United States. This was a systematic falsification of U.S. Intelligence and occurred at the C.I.A. The analytical division of the C.I.A. was virtually destroyed during that period of the 1980's under Bill Casey and Robert Gates. This was very important because before then, there was much more independence within the C.I.A.'s analytical division. Afterwards, there became -- the C.I.A. basically became a conveyor belt for propaganda. We have seen that reoccur now with the Iraq situation when again, intelligence was falsified, and the threats were exaggerated, and then policies were put together to respond to those exaggerated threats. We have just seen the continuation of some very deceptive approaches to government and many of the people that took part in them has -- I think the first caller mentioned and Dr. Chomsky mentioned were the same people involved today. And they just continued to follow the same policies. It was also an important element of this, which goes to the idea of perception management, which was a concept that was put in place during the early 80's and the basic idea was that if you managed the perceptions to the American people about various event, particularly foreign events, that you can taken take actions that would not be supported by the American people, if seen in their full context. What we have seen with that is the idea if the people of the United States perceive Nicaragua to be a threat to their security, they would support the sending of weapons and the supporting the contras. If they saw the Sandinistas as being what they were, a struggling little government in Nicaragua, they probably wouldn't. The problem has often been that in the case of these kinds of events, perception management became the role. That's continued to today with Iraq.
     
  15. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    is this truly the Principals of Conservatism??

    this is the 1st time i've seen them wrote down

    Rocket River
     
  16. Faos

    Faos Contributing Member

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    Didn't Clinton have 8 years to fix the homeless problem?
     
  17. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    somethings cannot be so easily UN?FIXEd

    Try putting the toothpaste back in the tube

    Rocket River
     
  18. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    During how many of those years did the GOP control the Congress???
     
  19. Deji McGever

    Deji McGever Contributing Member

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    When I was working out yesterday, I watched the little scroll at the bottom of CNN that said all "non-essential federal employees" would be off from work out of respect to Reagan.

    I was thinking how ironic that was. It made me laugh.
     
  20. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

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    And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts.

    A great and frustrating and maddening read. Still holds up.
     

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