Foreign Policy News Stories
What is Really Happening in Central America?
SYNOPSIS: The 1982 media coverage of the deadly and widespread
battles taking place in Central America was limited and confusing.
The paradoxical media reports on El Salvador and the Nicaragua/Honduras
situation has made it virtually impossible to ascertain what is
really going on. But while the media reports from El Salvador,
Nicaragua, and Honduras might be limited and often incomprehensible,
we hear even less from Guatemala, where the situation may be even
worse. When General Efraim Rios Montt took power in a military
coup in Guatemala on March 23, 1982, he was lauded by some as
a savior. For example, commenting on the situation in Guatemala
at the time, The New York Times said, "Left-wing terrorism
is quiet after a decade and a half of turmoil."
Montt, a born-again Christian, once was forced to leave the
country because of public outcry over his repression and bloody
campaign against Indian campesinos. When he returned to power,
the Vietnamization of Guatemala was stepped up with pacification
programs, fortified hamlets, and search-and-destroy missions in
what Montt referred to as a "beans and rifles" program.
UPDATE: It was not until March of 1995 that Guatemala was
finally put on top of the media's news agenda with revelations
that a Guatemalan military officer on the CIA payroll had been
involved in the murders of an American citizen and a guerrilla
commander. Questions raised by Project Censored were finally answered
with sordid disclosures of the complex web of relations between
various agencies of the U.S. government and the Guatemalan military
over the last 40 years.
Guatemala's civil war was the longest and deadliest in Central
America, having taken the lives of up to 200,000 unarmed civilians,
primarily highland Indians. It started in 1960, six years after
the 1954 U.S. intervention ousted the popularly elected government
of Jacobo Arbenz, and ended in 1995. The war officially ended
with an accord signed December 29, 1996.
Today, Guatemala has a new president, Alvaro Arzu, who has
plans to advance peace negotiations and to establish civilian
control over the army. Additionally, the Clinton Administration
does not seem ideologically committed to the Guatemalan army,
as was the case with Reagan and Bush (Foreign Policy, 6/22/96).
The United States Against the World on Nuclear Issues
SYNOPSIS: On December 9, 1982, the United Nations General
Assembly voted on three resolutions concerning the nuclear issue
and world peace.
Two of the resolutions, both opposed by the United States,
would ban testing nuclear weapons but not nuclear explosions for
peaceful purposes. The votes were 124 votes for and 2 against
with 19 abstentions on the first resolution; 114 for and 4 against
with 26 abstentions on the second.
The third resolution called for a treaty outlawing all nuclear
It was overwhelmingly adopted by a vote of 111 to 1 with 35
abstentions. The United States alone voted against the rest of
Kenneth L. Adelman-accused of lying to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee when it was considering his nomination by
President Reagan to head the nation's Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency-defended the U.S. vote, saying the resolution would not
reduce the nuclear threat.
UPDATE: In 1996, ironically on the 51st anniversary of the
nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, delegates from 61 nations
of the Conference on Disarmament met in Geneva, Switzerland, to
complete negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Negotiations reached an impasse when India vetoed the treaty,
but a group of nations agreed to informally present the U.N. General
Assembly with a report on the conference's work. On September
10, 1996, the General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed a global
treaty to ban all nuclear test blasts (Associated Press, 9/11/96).
The vote was 158 for the treaty, with three against (India, Libya,
and Bhutan) and five abstentions.
Fourteen years after the United States was the lone dissenter
in the world for banning nuclear tests, it finally joined the
rest of the world community and voted for the Comprehensive Nuclear
Test Ban Treaty. On September 24, 1996, using the same black pen
that John F. Kennedy used 33 years earlier to sign the world's
first nuclear pact, President Clinton put the opening signature
on the global treaty (USA Today, 9/25/96). However the treaty
still requires passage by a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate,
where some Republicans have reservations about the pact (Associated
American Industrialists Traded with the Nazis
SYNOPSIS: In a shocking expose of American corporate greed,
investigative author Charles Higham revealed a disgraceful if
not criminal collaboration of some of America's largest corporations
with Nazi Germany not only before but during World War ll.
Higham documents his claims with information gathered through
the National Archives and the Freedom of Information Act. His
book, Trading with the Enemy, gives evidence that such industrial
and financial giants as DuPont, Rockefeller, Ford, Chase Manhattan
Bank, ITT, General Motors, and Standard Oil collaborated with
the Nazis either for monetary gain or because they were Nazi sympathizers
hoping for a German victory.
Higham claims that Standard Oil, among other examples, supplied
fuel for German U-boats through neutral Spain. It continued providing
fuel until 1944 and in the process contributed to the deaths of
numerous American merchant seamen.
ITT was the supplier of communications and other equipment
for the buzz bombs that devastated London.
Ford maintained a motor plant in Vichy France that turned
out tanks and troop carriers for the Third Reich.
Chase Manhattan Bank trafficked in the gold market through
the Nazi controlled Bank for International Settlement in Basel.
The source for some of the gold it bought and sold: dentures and
wedding rings from death camps.
Most of the corporations were interlocked with the German
industrial giant I.G. Farben, the company that produced the poison
gas for the death camps and ran the largest camp, Auschwitz, for
its slave labor.
UPDATE: Charles Higham, author of the 1982 source, Trading
with the Enemy, wrote a follow-up book, American Swastika, published
by Double day in 1985. In this well-researched book about spies,
Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semitic public officials, Higham concluded
that "forces of camouflage, protection, and support for the
anti-Semitic cause still exist in the United States" (The
New York Times, 6/23/85).
In 1953, the assets of I.G. Farben, which American companies
worked with during World War II, were divided; the company today
remains basically a trust to settle claims and lawsuits from the
Nazi era (Des Moines Register, 8/27/95). While I.G. Farben rejected
claims from survivors in the past, on July 3, 1996, the German
Constitutional Court ruled that slave laborers from the Nazi era
can at last press their claims in court (The London Times, 7/4/96).
On August 21, 1996, about 70 surviving slave workers sold by the
Nazis to I.G. Farben more than 50 years ago protested outside
a shareholders' meeting in Frankfurt to press for compensation
(USA Today. 8/22/96).
Additionally, while the story of looted Nazi gold in Swiss
banks made headlines in late 1996, there was no mention of Chase
Manhattan Bank's alleged trafficking in the gold market through
a Nazi-controlled bank.
Ironically, the 1917 Trading With the Enemy Act, which was
ignored by the U.S. government during World War II when American
corporations traded with the Nazis, is now being used to sanction
Cuba (Washington Post. 6/24/95).