Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gates' advocacy of military strikes against Nicaragua

"Robert M. Gates, President Bush's nominee to lead the Pentagon, advocated a bombing campaign against Nicaragua in 1984 in order to "bring down" the leftist government, according to a declassified memo released by a nonprofit research group.

The memo from Gates to his then-boss, CIA Director William J. Casey, was among a selection of declassified documents from the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal posted Friday on the website of the National Security Archive, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ .

In the memo, Gates, who was deputy director of the CIA, argued that the Soviet Union was turning Nicaragua into an armed camp and that the country could become a second Cuba. The rise of the communist-leaning Sandinista government threatened the stability of Central America, Gates asserted.

Gates' memo echoed the view of many foreign policy hard-liners at the time; however, the feared communist takeover of the region never materialized.
"It sounds like Donald Rumsfeld," said National Security Archive Director Thomas S. Blanton. "It shows the same kind of arrogance and hubris that got us into Iraq."

In the memo, Gates noted he was advocating "hard measures" that "probably are politically unacceptable."

Indeed, Blanton said, Gates' advocacy of military strikes against Nicaragua was extreme."

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