Tuesday, May 11, 2004

"Yes" men in Iraq, and El Salvador

Frank Smyth has a column in the May 5th Newsday that notes the U.S. tendency to promote like-minded rulers in its adventures abroad. He writes:

How did we end up in such a fix in Iraq? We did what we have long done abroad: We sought out not the foreigners whom we still need to work with, but the exiles who were most like us.

He notes that in El Salvador the U.S. chose José Napoleón Duarte (who even went so far as to write his autobiography in English for U.S. consumption--and as far as I know, it's never been published in Spanish), and in Iraq increasingly discredited figures like Ahmed Chalabi.

A colleague read this story and commented:

At least we agree on the lessons learned about exile communities and their tendency to sell highly questionable versions of reality on the ground either because they have been gone so long they don't know or because they have their own vested interests. My own reflections have run more towards the bay of pigs ( another fine mess exiles led us into) than to Duarte, but the lesson is the same.

Of course, we could continue the comparison and discuss one of the biggest "yes" men in the hemisphere, outgoing President Paco Flores....

Comments to dlholiday@yahoo.com

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