Emilio Horner is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not reflect the editorial coverage of Mustang News.
About a week or so ago I found myself eavesdropping on some strapping young gentlemen planning out a fraternity function in the library. One particularly “swoll” gentleman suggested to the excited approval of his peers a Reagan-Bush ’84 flag be produced for the event. This confirmed in my mind what had been a suspicious hunch, that there has become a strange affiliation between universities’ seediest social organizations and one of America’s B-movie actors who masqueraded as president.
Though there has long been a link between the greek system and jingoism, Reagan/Bush shirts and apparel gained a massive amount of popularity after being produced by Total Frat Move. The problem is that this contributes to the idolatry of a man whose record includes thousands of human casualties, the destruction of governments, infrastructure and the environment by means of imperialism, voodoo economics and structural violence. Ronald Reagan was a war criminal.
The short version is that in order to maintain hegemony, U.S. corporate interests within the government have continuously supported funding, training and arming repressive governments, rebel groups and death squads worldwide. Once companies can assure the exploitation of repressed workers overseas, they can eliminate the higher paying, commonly unionized, jobs in the United States. Therefore, the economic well-being of U.S. workers is linked to the well-being of the workers of the world. The globalized status of the world economy has led to the deterioration of the working class, both domestically and abroad.
Post World War II, George Kennan, considered a liberal diplomat, wrote a memo to the policy planning staff arguing that if the United States wants to maintain its disproportionate share of the world’s wealth (in 1948 the U.S. has 6.3 percent world’s population but about 50 percent world’s wealth), human rights and altruistic goals would have to be abandoned.
This mindset has led a majority of foreign interventions to have been motivated by protecting corporate interests. Clearly, this was the case with the 1954 coup in Guatemala in which the CIA deposed of democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz due to the fact that Arbenz called for land reforms that would have hurt the United Fruit Company’s bottom line. The following military junta and Guatemalan Civil War led to the military committing massive human rights violations, including the genocide of the Mayan population in Guatemala.
Economic motivation for intervention can similarly be found in Iran during the 1953 coup that deposed of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh attempted to nationalize the assets of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (currently British Petroleum), and was subsequently removed by the CIA. This led to the counterrevolution of 1979 in which the current theocratic regime was able to take power.
Every post-war president has committed or been responsible for horrible violence on the international stage, causing America to be known as ” the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” according to Martin Luther King Jr. Despite all this, no administration was as blatantly immoral as that of Ronald Reagan.
During the Iran-Contra Affair, senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of weapons to Iran, who was subject to an arms embargo at the time. Then, the money made on the deal was illegally sent to fund the Contra death squads in Nicaragua, in violation of the Boland Amendment, prohibiting further funding of the Contras by the American government.
From 1983 to 1984, the CIA set fire to Nicaraguan oil storage tanks and in 1984 mined Nicaraguan ports. During the same time, the Contras killed 23 primary school teachers and 135 volunteer adult education teachers. They destroyed 15 rural schools, forced the closing of 138 elementary schools and 64 adult education schools. There were reports of attacks on civilian targets causing killings, rapes, beatings, mutilations and torture. Former National Security Council staff member Oliver North even had ex-Rhodesian mercenaries bomb a hospital just to show Congress that the Contras could operate easily within the capitol.
Additional crimes of the Reagan Administration include the 1986 bombing of Libya, invasion of Grenada, CIA smuggling of cocaine to support rebel groups in Latin America, the supporting of Apartheid in South Africa and the funding of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan who later became Al-Qaeda. Finally, Reagan sold chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein, including anthrax and the bubonic plague that were used in the Iran-Iraq War, in which the United States also sold weapons to Iran.
Post World War II, the United States has subjected millions of people worldwide to a lower quality of life, all because of the devastating impacts of a foreign policy that prefers corporate profit over human dignity. The nation’s ideological pretense of human rights further masks the fact that the United States sponsors state terrorism and a neo-colonial system ruled by fear, while serving the interest of business elites.
Graphic by Roston Johnson
Poet Gil Scott Heron once remarked that America is a country of nostalgia. A country scared to face the future that has instead been socialized to look for cinema heroes to come tall in the saddle and save the day. America, he argues, would have elected John Wayne, had he been available, but since John Wayne was not available, America had to settle for Ronald Reagan. And he says “it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at … like a ‘B’ movie”.
But life isn’t a movie. There isn’t always a clear line drawn between good and bad guys. As much as Reagan wanted us to think all we had to do was kill another Soviet or Commie and everything would be fine, that’s nothing more than ideology. For those on the left who think that Trump is just a racist reality TV clown and isn’t to be taken seriously, remember America once elected a mediocre movie star as president, to devastating consequences.
A Reagan Bush ’84 shirt is not a mere fashion statement but a symbol of the United States’ effort to condition the people of the world into believing that if they used their resources to benefit the needs of the people as opposed to the desires of corporate interests, their lives would be ruined. It’s time to stop believing that lie.