“Former President Ronald Reagan was named the ‘Greatest American’
of all time in an interactive contest tonight, topping fellow Republican Abraham
Lincoln,” reports WorldNetDaily. “Of more than 2.4 million votes in
the survey sponsored by America Online, Reagan… captured the title with
24 percent of ballots, just edging out Lincoln by 0.44 percent, according to host
Matt Lauer.” Unfortunately, this is more evidence the average American,
or at least the average AOL user who participated in this poll, knows absolutely
nothing about history (or maybe he does and approves of mass murder, torture,
rampant sadism, and repeated violations of international law). Consider the legacy
of the Reagan years, scrupulously avoided by the corporate media when the Gipper
cashed in his chips last year:
Like Bush, Reagan was fond of violating all manner of international law, including
the Charter of the United Nations, the UN General Assembly’s Declaration
on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and
the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty (1965), its Declaration
on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation
Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970), and
its Definition of Aggression (1974), among others. Like Bush, Reagan ignored
the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 as a matter of course.
Reagan’s 1983 invasion of Grenada was a violation of the UN Charter articles
2(3), 2(4), and 33 as well as of articles 18, 20, and 21 of the Revised OAS
Charter. It was a textbook example of aggression under article 39 of the United
Reagan intervened in El Salvador’s civil war, an act that contravened
the international legal right of self-determination of peoples as recognized
by article 1(2) of the United Nations Charter. AOL popularity contest winner
Reagan provided military assistance to El Salvador’s murderous and sadistic
government, fond of killing not only political opponents but American nuns and
missionaries as well. The US-trained Atlacatl Battalion paramilitary killed
around a thousand civilians in the village of El Mozote in the Department of
Morazan in 1981.
Reagan organized and trained the infamous Contras for the purpose of overthrowing
the legitimate government of Nicaragua in violation of the terms of both the
UN and OAS. Reagan thumbed his nose at the International Court of Justice on
May 10, 1984, when it ruled the United States had an obligation in accordance
with the Interim Order of Protection to stop supporting the terrorist group.
As if this was not enough, Reagan mined Nicaraguan harbors, a violation of international
law set forth in the 1907 Hague Convention on the laying of Submarine Mines,
to which both Nicaragua and the United States were parties (imagine if Nicaragua
had mined the harbors in Boston or San Francisco).
Reagan, the most popular man ever—well, for Americans, anyway—teamed
up with the Israelis to invade Lebanon in 1982, a crime against the peace as
defined by the Nuremberg Principles. Reagan was an accomplice to crimes against
humanity, war crimes, and grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions
of 1949 when he supported Israel and its Phalange and Haddad militia allies
in Lebanon (most notable in this context was the genocidal mass murder in the
Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut).
The Gipper, so revered by Americans, violated Article 39 of the UN Charter
when he parked the U.S. Sixth Fleet in Libya’s Gulf of Sidra and eventually
bombed Libya on April 14, 1986, killing civilians, including Moammar Gadhafi’s
In addition, Mr. Popularity, with his blood stained hands, supported South
African apartheid, obstructed the achievement of Namibian independence (a violation
of Security Council Resolution 435) by linking it to the withdrawal of Cuban
troops from Angola, and violated international law by illegal occupying the
island of Diego Garcia, (a violation of the international right of self-determination
of the people of Mauritius as recognized by the United Nations Charter).
But I guess I’m too negative and needlessly concentrating on the dark
side of this man’s legacy, which also includes starring in several good-humored
if completely forgettable movies.