Not The First 'Closed' Case For Negroponte

Alan Ramsey

John Dimitri Negroponte has a birthday today, his 65th. He has been a warrior from the dark side a long time. Almost 40 years ago, when the Menzies government committed Australian troops to the American military and political tragedy of Vietnam, Negroponte was a young “political affairs officer” at the United States embassy (1964-68) in what was then Saigon.

Twenty years later Negroponte was the Reagan administration’s odious envoy (1981-85) in Honduras and a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal that covertly financed the CIA-run war against the Sandinistas, the elected left-wing government of neighbouring Nicaragua.

It was wee George who, another 20 years on, would resurrect Negroponte’s career, first as his ambassador to the United Nations in 2001, the year the Twin Towers came down, and most recently as Washington’s man with the real power in Iraq.

If history has a tendency to repeat itself, then John Negroponte will be a fitting player in the next ignoble, lengthy, and disastrous USA imperial defeat.

If history has a tendency to repeat itself, then John Negroponte will be a fitting player in the next ignoble, lengthy, and disastrous USA imperial defeat.

In January two years ago the Oxford-educated, Pakistani-born editor and author Tariq Ali told an interviewer: “History has become too subversive. The past has too much knowledge embedded in it.”

A month ago, writing of the parody that became the “transfer of sovereignty” to Washington’s hand-picked Iraqi “interim” government, Ali said: “Nothing will change in Iraq after June 30, except in the make-believe world of George Bush where things are made to mean what the [Americans] want them to mean.”

Jump forward to Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, prattling on morning television two days ago.

It is never easy to take our Foreign Minister seriously, with or without his net stockings. Monday was no different as he played the wide-eyed innocent in George Bush’s make-believe Iraq.

Q: “You’ve just heard from Paul McGeough. He is standing by his story [in The Sydney Morning Herald] and these rather alarming allegations about Iraq’s Prime Minister Allawi. They’re pretty shocking, aren’t they?”

Downer: “We’ve checked them out with our embassy in Baghdad. Our people there are not familiar with the story. Neither the Americans nor the British have heard of them, either. No one else in Iraq appears to be aware of them. In any case, the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights has said he will investigate them ...”

Q: “Is it enough to allow the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights to investigate [the executions of six prisoners] allegedly done by his own Prime Minister?”

Downer: “Iraq is a sovereign country now. Who else is supposed to investigate wrongdoing in Iraq? I think Mr McGeough should present his material to the Iraqi police so they can fully investigate these matters … I would have thought, knowing what I know about Mr Allawi - and I’ve met him - it would be, on the whole, rather surprising if he has done this.”

Dear me, Alexander, does your office, on the whole, still have to tell you when to come in out of the rain?

Prime Minister Allawi, formerly a Saddam Hussein associate before he fled into exile to team up with the CIA, denied, before publication, the entirety of McGeough’s two witness accounts.

For the sake of his health, McGeough had by then already felt it prudent to leave Iraq. John Negroponte’s office responded to him by email: “If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy’s press office is concerned, the case is closed.”

Of course. One only has to consider Negroponte’s record as US ambassador in Honduras to know he is a loyal servant of Republican Washington who sees and knows nothing. An estimated 10,000 Nicaraguans and Honduran political opponents died at a time when, as The New York Times reported in September 2001: “The diplomat who presided over that embassy from 1981 to 1985 was a great fabulist.

“John Negroponte saw, or professed to see, a Honduras almost Scandinavian in its tranquillity, a place where there were no murderous generals, no death squads, no political prisoners, no clandestine jails or cemeteries. [He] exercised US power in ways that still reverberate throughout that small country. His most striking legacy, though, is the Honduras of his imagination.

“Most people who lived or worked in Honduras during the 1980s saw a nation spiralling into violence and infested by paramilitary gangs that kidnapped and killed with impugnity. Negroponte would not acknowledge this. He realised the Reagan policy in Central America would lose support if truths about Honduras were known, so he refused to accept them.”

This same man, with an embassy regime of more than 1000 American “foreign service officers”, plus American advisers “salted throughout Iraqi ministries” as well as 140,000 US military personnel, now has absolute covert power in Iraq.

Of course “the case is closed”.


Published Tuesday, July 20th, 2004 - 06:58pm GMT

Article courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald

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