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by Peter Kornbluh

An incisive critique of Reagan's pro-Nicaraguan contra policy, by a former fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of the forthcoming (January) Low-Intensity Warfare. Kornbluh highlights the four fronts of the US war against Nicaragua: CIA involvement with the contras: economic sabotage; US military operations; and internal propaganda campaigns aimed at swaying Congress, foreign allies, and the American public to back the Administration. He researches the contra leadership, demonstrating that 46 of the 48 top military leaders are former Somozan National Guard officials--and have retained the embezzlement, theft, and cronyism that riddled Somoza's regime.

Kornbluh digs to the roots of US contra policy, noting that in 1980 Carter authorized the CIA to pass funds to anti-Sandinista labor, press, and political organizations. When Ronald Reagan took office on January 20, 1981, he inherited a CIA covert operation against the Sandinistas already in place. The author's research is complete, covering all grounds (citing one Georgetown study, he states that for the US to oust the Sandinistas would take two months of high-intensity warfare and a five-year military occupation, costing approximately 5,000 American war dead and nearly 20,000 other casualties). He criticizes US shortsightedness in cutting off economic assistance to the Sandinista government, assistance that could provide diplomatic leverage in the future.

"You're throwing away your chips, man," Ambassador Pezzulli once warned then-Secretary of State Haig. A timely and forceful analysis that makes a strong case for major revision of US-Nicaraguan policy.

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— Peter Kornbluh, Nicaragua