Egypt’s Slippery Slope; will it be like Nicaragua’s?


The intellectual establishment and glitterati see the protest movement/chaos in Egypt as the first step to democracy.If the history of such movements holds true, there are powers behind the scenes who would manipulate these demonstrators and will likely eliminate any capable democratic leaders and plug in their own.

The demonstrators will eventually find their “leadership” has been killed by “the opposition,” mysteriously disappeared, been discredited by moral or criminal charges, and eventually, it will be subsumed by a radical element far worse than they’ve experienced under Mubarek.Nicaragua provides an excellent blueprint.

Egypt’s Mubarek is not unlike Nicaragua’s dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, an authoritarian who vowed to keep Cuban Communism out of his country and out of all of Central America.   Somoza, a West Point graduate, routinely commuted between Managua and Washington to chat with US legislators and his Academy classmates at the Pentagon, and was generally regarded as the anchor of stability in Central America in the face of Communist subversion from Cuba.

His tight grip resulted in a stable political environment which attracted foreign investment and industrial growth and modernization.  Not unlike Mubarek, Somoza had his fingers in much of the development process and was well-rewarded for his support.  After the earthquake in 1972, he helped himself to a percentage of the relief money, upsetting the intelligentsia and the growing middle class. 

When the emboldened Sandinistas engineered a kidnap attempt of the American Ambassador, killing a number of people in the process, they demanded and got a high ransom for the release of the kidnapped victims.  Somoza’s forces subsequently scoured the region for the perpetrators, whom they deemed terrorists, and left a trail of brutality which was quickly exploited by the Sandinistas and the press.  

La Prensa, Managua’s newspaper routinely railed against Somoza’s corruption and abuses, and Somoza would just as routinely have the publisher, Chamorro, arrested and thrown in jail.  Chamorro’s cell was comfortably furnished and Somoza would often join him for dinner and discuss the political situation with him.  They were adversaries, sometimes bitter, but always open.  After a few days, Chamorro would be released, go back to the newspaper, and renew his harangues against Somoza.

Meanwhile, protesters grew in strength and discovered skilled organizers in their midst anxious to lead the movement.  Sandinistas soon rose to the leadership positions and displaced the early dynamic leaders.  The foreign media swarmed to report this political movement and embraced the Sandinista agenda.   A longtime Washington Post journalist thoroughly familiar with the political situations and the Sandinistas maneuvering was pushed aside by the Post’s editors in favor of what he referred to as Bang Bang Reporting [i.e., exciting headline material which had no substance].  The Post preferred headlines to fact.

President Jimmy Carter was appalled at what the Washington Post and the New York Times were reporting.   Carter, a neophyte in international affairs, presumed the press accounts were on the mark; after all, the press would certainly never misrepresent a volatile situation.  Since he had let Stansfield Turner gut the CIA and fire two thirds of its operatives, he had no information from intelligence professionals to offset the press reports, so, he presumed all that he read in the press was true. 

[According to the UPI Latin American bureau chief at the time, most press organizations used university students as stringers in Central America; and most of the student reporters were either Communist Party members or sympathizers managed by Cuba, so what was fed into the press channels was essentially managed from Havana.  This process was followed a few years later in El Salvador when the press reported thousands of murders by police every week in San Salvador; at the time, I calculated the media-reported death toll exceeded the entire population of San Salvador – several times over.]

While Somoza queried his friends at the Pentagon on his status in Washington, Daniel Ortega’s thugs dressed up in army uniforms, committed wholesale atrocities, shot a few journalists and then murdered La Prensa‘s publisher Chamorro. And the media sucked it all up and reported it on the front pages in Washington and New York.  Leaflets were printed and radio broadcasts described real and imagined atrocities, and reported the murders blamed Somoza for the murders committed by Ortega’s thugs — and the movement gained momentum.Carter was incensed; he publicly condemned Somoza, toppling his regime; Daniel Ortega swept into power, along with his Cuban and Soviet “advisors” and created a regime far more repressive than Somoza’s.   Ortega did his best to establish Nicaragua as the keystone for spreading a Communist revolution in Central and South America, but was eventually displaced by the electorate.   He’s back in power now, with the full support of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and he is intent on spreading his political gospel – augmented by suspending Constitutional rights of the Nicaraguan citizens.This is the script which you’re likely to see followed in Egypt; substitute Iranian agitators for Sandinistas and it should unfold pretty closely.