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Such phrases as "United in Joy" are not entirely unknown. One might find them, perhaps, in the North Korean or Albanian press. Obviously the issue was contentious, certainly to Nicaraguans, to others in Latin America as well. But not to educated U.S. elites, who are quite eager to depict themselves as dedicated totalitarians.
The review of opinion opens by noting that "the left and the right and those in between [have] a fresh opportunity to debate one of the United States's most divisive foreign policy issues of the last decade." The left-right debate now reduces to who can justly claim credit. Sciolino begins with eleven paragraphs reviewing the position of the right, followed by five devoted to the left. In the former category, she cites Elliott Abrams, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Fred Iklé of the Pentagon, Oliver North, Robert Leiken of the Harvard University Center for International Affairs, and Ronald Reagan. They portray the outcome as "spectacular," "great, wonderful, stunning," a tribute to the contras who, "when history is written,...will be the folk heroes," a victory "for the cause of democracy" in a "free and fair election."
Sciolino then turns to the left: "On the other side, Lawrence A. Pezzullo, who was appointed Ambassador to Nicaragua by President Carter, called the election results `fantastic'." We will return to Pezzullo's left-wing credentials shortly. The second representative of "the other side" is Sol Linowitz, who, as Carter administration Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), sought in vain to mobilize Latin America in support of Carter's program of "Somocismo sin Somoza" ("Somozism without Somoza") after the murderous tyrant could no longer be maintained in power, and later urged pressures to make Nicaragua more democratic -- like El Salvador and Guatemala, both just fine and hence needing no such pressures. The final representative of the left is Francis McNeil, whose credentials as a leftist lie in the fact that he quit the State Department in 1987 when his pessimism about contra military prospects aroused the ire of Elliott Abrams.12
The last paragraph of Sciolino's report observes that some "were not entirely comfortable with the results" of the election, citing Lawrence Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, who "seemed to side with the Sandinistas," expressing his "inner rage that the corner bully won over the little guy."
Sciolino remarks incidentally that "Sandinista supporters expressed sadness, and said that the defeat was a product of Nicaragua's economic troubles -- a result of the American trade embargo and other outside pressures" -- thus lining up with much of Latin America. But recall that Americans were United in Joy. By simple logic, it follows that these miscreants are not Americans, or perhaps not people.
In summary, there are "two sides," the right and the left, which differed on the tactical question of how to eliminate the Sandinistas in favor of U.S. clients and are now "United in Joy." There is one person who seems to side with the Sandinistas, but couldn't really be that far out of step, we are to understand. And there are some non-Americans who share the exotic opinions of Latin Americans as to what happened and why. Having failed to obey state orders, these strange creatures are off the left-right spectrum entirely, and do not participate in the great debate over the sole issue still unresolved: Who deserves the credit for the happy outcome?
The Times conception of the spectrum of opinion is, then, very much like that of Time magazine and Foreign Policy editor Charles Maynes. Or former Undersecretary of State David Newsom, now director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, who urges "the ideological extremes of the nation's political spectrum" to abandon the fruitless debate over the credits for our victories. Or Jimmy Carter, who explained to the press that his observer commission was "carefully balanced -- half Democrat and half Republican," thus carefully balanced between two groups that satisfy the prior condition of objectivity: passionate opposition to the Sandinistas and support for Washington's candidates.13
Throughout, we see with great clarity the image of a highly disciplined political culture, deeply imbued with totalitarian values.
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12 On Linowitz, see below and Culture of Terrorism, 119. McNeil, War and Peace in Central America (Scribner's, 1988), 33.
13 Newsom, Christian Science Monitor, March 22; Mike Christensen, NYT news service, Feb. 7, 1990.