Saturday, March 07, 2009
The June 2004 death of former US President Ronald Reagan (1980-88) produced an outpouring of quite extraordinary rosetinted nostalgia for an apparent "Golden Age" (the 80s, for God’s sake), when America, and the world, were led by "The Great Communicator". A prime example of this is the Commemorative Issue of Time (14/6/04) devoted entirely to this myth. New Zealanders have plenty of reasons to not look back fondly on Reagan – his was the intransigent US Administration that tried to bully us out of our nuclear free policy, and didn’t say a word when French State terrorists bombed the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985, killing a man in the process. The peoples of America and the world have also got no shortage of reasons to not mythologise this most reactionary of US Presidents. There was a flood of critical material following his death. This one (World War 3 Report; 10/6/04; WW3Report.com) was my favourite. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Ed.
What a tsunami of bullshit has been unleashed by the demise of Ronald Wilson Reagan, architect of the conservative revolution we still suffer under today. The media blitz occasioned by the near-simultaneous presidential passing (June 5) and the 60th anniversary of D-Day* (June 6) has been a boon to the sitting President, himself the spawn of a dynasty that rode the Reagan revolution to power. America gets a time-out from the Iraq horror show to feel good about itself and celebrate past militaristic glories. It almost makes you wonder if news of the death wasn't withheld awhile to coordinate the spectacle. * June 6, 1944. The date when the Allies landed in Normandy, starting the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis. Ed.
The hideous irony of the implicit media linking of Reagan and D-Day is that Reagan's "revolution" was undoing the legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt (1932-45) - the "Welfare State" was dismantled in favor of "Reaganomics": radical corporate deregulation, with the hallucinatory sugar-coating that wealth would spontaneously "trickle down." It didn't, and as the ranks of the urban homeless swelled dramatically under his rule, '30s-style Hoovervilles* popped up all over the inner cities. Playing to nostalgia for an America that never really was, Reagan plunged the country back into horrors that had been all too real. * Hoovervilles. The ironic name for settlements of the countless ranks of the homeless, dispossessed by the policies of the former President Herbert Hoover, who took the US into the Great Depression of the 1930s. Ed.
Making The World Safe For Fascism
Simultaneously, the Reagan White House backed fascism abroad. The massively US-funded-and-directed bloodbath in El Salvador in the Reagan years claimed some 50,000 lives by the UN Truth Commission's estimate--and double that by many rights observers. The genocide of Maya Indians in neighbouring Guatemala, with the US aid more covert and the Israelis serving as proxies, claimed similar numbers--while Reagan advocated restoring overt aid to the military dictatorship, claiming it had received a "bum rap." Reagan called Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt, author of the genocide, "a man of great personal integrity and commitment... I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice." The (1976-80) Carter-era notion of "human rights" was replaced by "national security" as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Reagan's UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, theorised on the distinction between the mere "authoritarianism" of anti-communist regimes such as Augusto Pinochet's in Chile (at least 3,000 killed or "disappeared") and the intolerable "totalitarianism" of those such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Reagan's Victory in Europe (VE) Day 1985 visit to (the former) West Germany's Bitburg cemetery, where officers of Hitler's SS are buried, illustrated the historical and ideological shift....(Click for remainder.)