Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/345/5741
Iraq: Bush's Bloody 'Ambassador'
GEORGE BUSH has appointed John Negroponte, his former man at the United Nations, as governor-in-chief in Iraq. Negroponte is an expert in bloody repression, stretching back four decades.
From 1964-1968, during the US war on Vietnam, he was a political affairs officer at the US Embassy in Saigon. Such positions were often covers for CIA operatives and political assassins.
From 1969-1971, he was aide to Henry Kissinger who supervised the saturation bombing of Vietnam and attacks on Cambodia and Laos. Kissinger sacked Negroponte after he said the US was making too many concessions to the Vietnamese in 'peace' talks.
President Reagan's dirty war
Concessions weren't on the agenda when Negroponte became "ambassador" to Honduras from 1981-1985 during President Reagan's dirty war in Central America. Human rights abuses increased substantially after he took up his job and the embassy became a base for the CIA-organized Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which claimed some 50,000 lives.
Negroponte helped organise right-wing death squads that killed tens of thousands in El Salvador and Honduras to prop up pro-capitalist, pro-landlord, pro-US dictatorships. In Nicaragua they fought the radical Sandinistas who were having a revolutionary impact in this impoverished region.
Under Negroponte, military aid to Honduras grew twenty-fold, building up the Honduran armed forces, building bases, air fields and supply dumps. The military-dominated regime carried out murderous attacks on union leaders and other opponents.
Money from the US also funded right-wing killers in El Salvador and, in violation of restrictions imposed by the US Congress, right-wing Contra mercenaries in Nicaragua armed via the Honduran military.
A CIA-trained and equipped Honduran unit, Battalion 316, kidnapped, tortured, and killed hundreds of Hondurans. A Baltimore Sun expose says that reports prepared by the embassy under Negroponte's supervision "were crafted to leave the impression that the Honduran military respected human rights."
Negroponte even dismissed as 'unfounded' details about Battalion 316's deadly activities by the exiled head of Honduran military intelligence. Death squads in El Salvador killed 40,000 in one year alone, including an archbishop and 32 nuns who were tortured then thrown out of a helicopter.
Now Negroponte will be an imperial proconsul, with all the powers associated with ruling Iraq under military occupation. The embassy, in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, will be the largest ever by any country in the world, with a staff of nearly 4,000. It's a palace of an occupying force, keeping power and profits in 'safe' hands, not an embassy.
Negroponte thinks he knows how to snuff out Iraqi resistance to US occupation. He knows all about mass killing, covert operations and death squads. But this callous imperialist's appointment could increase resistance throughout Iraq.
It's Sovereignty But Not As We Know It
"I HOPE they will understand that in order for this government to get up and running - to be effective - some of its sovereignty will have to be given back, if I can put it that way, or limited by them.
"It's sovereignty but [some] of that sovereignty they are going to allow us to exercise on their behalf and with their permission."
That was US secretary of state Colin Powell tying himself in knots trying to convince Iraqis and the rest of the world that power would be transferred to the Iraqi people after 30 June.
In The Socialist 1 May 2004:
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis