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John Negroponte: Dorian Gray Goes To Iraq

John Negroponte: Dorian Gray Goes To Iraq

by Toni Solo

John Negroponte will be an appropriate appointment as US proconsul in Iraq for the current regime in Washington. Death-squad-friendly Negroponte is one of the suave-talking savages who misled the US Congress about US actions in Central America through the 1980s. That same group of people have now misled the US people into disaster and disgrace in Iraq.

They represent the corporate plutocracy that has always swayed US foreign policy against the interests of the United States people. As ever, they are happy to commit grotesque waste of human, material and financial resources to deliver corporate welfare to companies like Dick Cheney's Halliburton and George Bush Sr.'s Carlyle group. Corruption, mass murder, torture are part of the package - none of this is new.

Same old script, same old actors

The betrayal of the United States people could hardly be deeper or more sharp. The script was written years ago in South East Asia and Latin America by the same ruthless ideologues who stole into the White House after the electoral fiasco in Florida in 2000. Now these white-collar barbarians - Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Elliot Abrams and the rest - are unable to cover up the torture, murder and corporate corruption that invariably characterise colonial regimes such as theirs in Baghdad.

Only a Rip Van Winkle could plausibly pretend to be surprised. Support for Israel, Plan Colombia, war in Afghanistan and Iraq - all these foreign policy commitments serve the needs of the corporate plutocracy that dominates politics in the United States. The murder and torture reported in Iraq (and in Guantanamo, and in the air bases at Bagram and Diego Garcia) are as much White House stock in trade as it is that of allies like the governments of Israel and Colombia. It always has been - from Guatemala and Vietnam through the Philippines and East Timor, Nicaragua, Haiti and Colombia, to Afghanistan and now Iraq.

The bearable lightness of being John Negroponte's conscience

It may have been a long trek politically for John Negroponte from proconsul in Honduras to proconsul in Baghdad. But for a man with no noticeable moral conscience the distance is a very short step. Along with his colleague John Maisto, now US Representative to the Organization of American States, Negroponte worked efficiently to cover-up and explain away atrocities and human rights abuses so as to expedite Ronald Reagan's terrorist war in Central America.

In 1989, three years after the World Court judgement against the terrorist Reagan regime, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights finally got around to issuing a judgement on the matter of forced and involuntary disappearances. The test cases involved were not from Colombia, Chile or Argentina or Uruguay nor from Guatemala or El Salvador. The court ruled that Honduras was responsible for four disappearances (those of Francisco Fairen Garbi, Yolanda Solis Corrales, Saul Godinez Cruz and Manfredo Angel Velasquez).

All four cases occurred between 1981 and 1983, when John Negroponte as US ambassador was assisting the Honduran army to destroy civilian opponents of the Honduran government. In fact over 180 students, trades unionists, human rights activists and others were disappeared by the Honduran death squads. The murders helped crush opposition to the presence of Nicaraguan Contra in Honduras. For people in the US, of all those many murders that of US Jesuit priest James Carney may be the most poignant.

Non-abrasive AWOL journalism or totally Teflon armor?

Carney was caught by the Honduran army in 1983. He was chaplain to a group of guerrillas entrapped by Honduran and US forces then on military exercises. Honduran government Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares investigated Carney's case through the 1990s and concluded that Carney was interrogated, tortured and murdered by the Honduran army. Some testimony suggested the participation of US military personnel in the interrogation.

But Negroponte has never faced questions on the fact that the Honduran army at that time would hardly have murdered James Carney without the approval or knowledge of someone on Negroponte's embassy staff. Such approval or deliberate complacency might well have come from Negroponte himself. Given the general AWOL status of corporate media reporting he is unlikely ever to be directly challenged on his role in Carney's murder.

With his well-documented record in Central America, Negroponte is certainly the right man to represent the Bush regime in Iraq. He is the very model of a totally Teflon torture manager. The fact that neither Congress nor mainstream media ever grill Negroponte seriously on his record in Honduras does much to explain the catastrophe in Iraq. We can try and hide the truth about ourselves in the attic like the portrait of Dorian Gray. But the ugliness and the horror remain there all the same.

Toni Solo is an activist based in Central America. Contact:

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