A Covenant With Death
Cairo UN population confab revealed an alarming global agenda
-- Isaiah 28:15
In Cairo, Egypt on September 13th, delegations from more than 180 countries approved the Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, a 20-year plan to "stabilize" the world's human population at a cost of no less than $17 billion. Although the delegations of 19 Catholic and Muslim nations expressed reservations concerning the program's approach to abortion, pre- and extra-marital sex, and other moral issues, not a single contingent rebelled against the document's misanthropic premise, which was that the growth of the human population must be restrained through the imposition of global controls.
The acceptance of this premise is a significant victory for the socialist worldview: If population growth creates a "crisis" exceeding the remedial abilities of free people, then the question is no longer whether global socialism is "necessary," but rather the specific form that system will take. Accordingly, it was appropriate that the major secondary theme of the conference was "development" -- meaning redistribution of wealth from the industrial "North" to the impoverished "South."
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member Timothy Wirth, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs and leader of the U.S. delegation to Cairo, exulted on September 13th that "the world will never be the same after Cairo." A glimpse of the radical impositions envisioned by the Cairo plan was provided on September 5th in a speech offered by J. Brian Atwood (CFR), director of the Agency for International Development (USAID). According to Atwood, "We will all be changed by this global discussion. In time, individuals will change their outlook. Societies will change their mores. Religions will interpret their beliefs differently..." (emphasis added).
The Cairo event attracted more than 15,000 people, most of them associated with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) clustered at the far left end of the political spectrum. Jane Fonda dropped by to inform her eager audience that severe alterations in human lifestyles are "inevitable." The conference also received a lecture from aging oceanographer and leftist Jacques Cousteau, who has publicly stated that population stabilization will require the eradication of 350,000 people every day.
Although the assembled eco-luminaries were unified in their insistence that the American "consumption-oriented" way of life is killing "Mother Earth," few of them were inclined toward asceticism or frugality. The delegates and organization representatives luxuriated in air-conditioned conference halls. Conference attendees dined on imported American beef -- the production of which, according to eco-extremists, contributes to ozone depletion. Furthermore, the production and revision of countless reports, charts, press releases, and other documents created the region's greatest deforestation threat since the Phoenician ship-building industry decimated the cedars of Lebanon. This world-class hypocrisy is an organic part of the vanguard conceit which animates those who presume to rule the globe: The rules don't apply to those who would rule humanity.
The Cairo conference, like every other significant UN assembly, was essentially an exercise in ratifying a preordained conclusion. Even before a single syllable had been uttered in the conference plenary sessions, officials of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) were proclaiming that a "consensus" had been achieved. Yet nobody was able to define exactly what the term "consensus" means. In Atwood's arithmetic, even opponents of the ICPD's objectives are included within the "new global consensus" which the Cairo conference supposedly represents: "Even those who chose not to endorse this conference's plan of action, and those who have seen fit to boycott this conference, will be influenced by the consensus we have already achieved."
During a September 6th press briefing, ICPD spokesman Ayman El-Amir told reporters that the Cairo program would be "adopted by consensus" and emphasized that "consensus is unanimity." However, El-Amir allowed that "nations may sign the document with reservations" and insisted that there could be "unanimity with reservations." He also observed that the ICPD program could not be defeated by a majority vote, because "that is not how things have historically been done at the UN."
However, during a press conference held the very next day, U.S. delegation leader Timothy Wirth offered yet another nuance to the increasingly elusive concept of "consensus," stating that "consensus is not unanimity." Wirth insisted that "consensus" had already been achieved despite persistent disagreements regarding abortion and other moral issues.
The ICPD insiders could have spared themselves such rhetorical exertions, as "consensus" was inescapable. In terms of both the conference leadership and the composition of national delegations, the event displayed more inbreeding than Cleopatra's pedigree. Fred Sai, president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), served as chairman of the ICPD Main Committee; Nafis Sadik, director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), acted as secretary-general for the conference.
The U.S. delegation, whose task it was to shepherd reluctant national delegations into the global "consensus," was larded with globalists, radical feminists, and abortion industry representatives. Of the 42 official delegation members, 17 represented anti-natalist NGOs. That number included Pamela Maraldo, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Jeanne Rossoff of the Alan Guttmacher Institute; and career feminist malcontent Bella Abzug. Delegation leader Wirth was associated with Planned Parenthood in Colorado.
Similar arrangements were made to assure that other national delegations joined the preferred "consensus." Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who was sent to Cairo as an unofficial U.S. delegate at the insistence of House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL), points out that IPPF was represented in no fewer than 60 national delegations; furthermore, USAID funds paid travel expenses for 123 members of foreign delegations, and the UNFPA also helped pay travel costs for an unspecified number of delegates.
The "NGO community," a worldwide constellation of private and quasi-private interest groups, also played a significant role in creating the counterfeit "global consensus." The ICPD "NGO Forum" opened on September 4th with a ritual "peace prayer" which invoked the blessings of an unspecified deity upon the four quarters of the globe. According to Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, it is the "NGO community" which will hold governments accountable to the objectives of the Cairo document and assist in implementing the program.
Mrs. Brundtland, who was easily the most popular speaker at the Cairo event, is one of the principal architects of the concept of "sustainable development," having served as chair of the United Nations Commission on the Environment and Development. Significantly, she is also vice president of the Socialist International (SI). Asked by THE NEW AMERICAN about the SI's influence on the "NGO community," Brundtland replied: "We are giving inspiration and support to the whole NGO community, where we share common concerns on many issues." In a sense, the "NGO community" may be referred to as the new Global International, refining and expanding the mission of the Socialist International.
Prior to the Cairo conference, the. Clinton Administration took great care to make certain that the "consensus" remained uncontaminated by mainstream opinion. On September 6th Tim Wirth stated that the Clinton Administration had laid the groundwork for the Cairo conference by conducting a series of public meetings concerning the issues of population and development. Wirth declared, "Those meetings looked like America." However, Wirth apparently resides in an America devoid of capitalists. During the September 9th press briefing, Wirth was asked about the complete absence of business organizations among the U.S. delegation's NGO contingent. Wirth's reply says volumes about the nature of the "consensus" which supposedly sustains the Cairo plan: "In choosing NGOs, we had a series of hearings in Washington and around the country, and people who were especially concerned, interested, or helpful were those that were chosen. And we did not receive testimony or input from a number of members of the business community."
Accordingly, the U.S. delegation's NGO representatives were selected, in part, on the basis of their helpfulness. This characteristic was further defined by Wirth in remarks about the Audubon Society, which was represented in the U.S. delegation. Wirth told a reporter that Audubon is "especially helpful" because "they bring out the arguments for public support" of population and "sustainable development" policies.
One of the most "helpful" American NGOs was Population Action International (PAI). On September 8th, PAI released a report which asserted that the Cairo program would require a fourfold increase in population control funding worldwide -- the greatest portion of that burden, predictably, to be borne by the United States. Among those who spoke at the PAI press conference was Undersecretary Wirth, who warmly endorsed PAI's "findings."
Following the press conference, PAI President James Speidel sought to minimize the financial impact of the fourfold increase in population control funds, telling reporters, "A lot of people seem to think this is a huge chunk of taxpayer money, but it's less than two cents out of every dollar spent. There is really a very small amount of foreign aid funds spent on population programs. The government spends billions and billions of dollars on all kinds of programs, from space to agriculture. With the billions that are already spent, what difference would a billion or two billion make?"
THE NEW AMERICAN asked Speidel to explain why population control efforts can't be privatized if the "necessary" funds are so trivial. Speidel, momentarily taken aback, exclaimed, "Well, then where would you get the money?" He insisted, "What works in the population field is a partnership between nonprofit organizations and the public sector. The most successful programs involve both NGOs and government." THE NEW AMERICAN raised the same question with PAI spokeswoman Sally Ethelson, who framed the question of tax funding as one of tutoring recalcitrant Americans about their "global responsibilities": "Governments are those that are best able to mobilize resources, and Americans need to realize that their tax dollars going overseas actually help them in the long run, rather than harm them. We're basically talking about whether we're going to have a quality of life for people around the world. And ultimately that will affect our own quality of life."
Millions of people around the world possess a vastly different concept of "quality of life" and want no part of the population control "consensus." Within that number can be found devout Christians, Jews, and Muslims whose religious principles are offended by their compelled complicity in population control programs. Prior to the Cairo conference, Muslim groups in Egypt and elsewhere loudly objected to the proposed plan of action, which included an effort to guarantee universal access to abortion. Muslim pro-life activist Dr. Kajid Katme, speaking at a press conference conducted by the International Right to Life Federation, earned an ovation from Egyptian journalists when he declared, "For Muslims, God is the only population controller." Efforts were made by the ICPD leaders to avoid a direct confrontation with Islam over abortion; however, they spared nothing in their confrontation with the Catholic Church.
The most heavily contested passage in the draft document was chapter 8.25, which identifies "unsafe abortion" as a threat to world health and contains language suggesting that decriminalizing abortion is necessary in the interest of "women's health." For most of the conference the Holy See, in tandem with allies in the Muslim world, sought to modify this paragraph. The final version began with the declaration, "In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning." This is the same language which had been contained in the 1984 UN population document -- language which has been summarily ignored by the UNFPA and IPPF, which have continued to offer financial and political support to Communist China's "one child" policy, which features coerced abortion.
During the debate over paragraph 8.25, a well-orchestrated campaign of anti-Catholicism took place. The three ICPD daily publications (Terraviva, ICPD Watch, and the Earth Times) ran cartoons, headlines, and "news" stories condemning the Holy See for "hijacking" the conference. Buttons proclaiming "I'm Poped Out" were displayed on every conceivable surface, including the laptop computers of numerous journalists. A petition was circulated demanding the eviction of the Holy See from the UN -- once again, in the interest of obtaining "consensus." A Spanish-language headline blared, "The Vatican Delays While Women Die." One cartoon proudly displayed at the booth of an anti-natalist NGO depicted Pope John Paul II as a simian in clerical garb, clutching the dead and naked body of a brutalized woman. Patricia Scalia of the Catholic Campaign for America complained to THE NEW AMERICAN: "The level of anti-Catholicism here is simply unbelievable."
The Holy See's position was that 90 percent of the Cairo document was acceptable. Still, on September 13th the Vatican delegation, led by Archbishop Renato Martino, expressed reservations about the draft final document, objecting that "while in identifying behavior which the text itself considers 'high-risk' or undesirable, all too often it limits itself primarily to suggestions as to how the 'risks' can be reduced or contained, shying away from proposing a change in such behavior at the roots." This is not because the document modestly shies away from suggesting radical changes in human behavior; it is because changes rooted in repentance are not compatible with the UN's objectives.
A "Right" to Comply
According to the Cairo program's preamble, "All members of and groups in society have the right, and indeed the responsibility, to play an active part in efforts to reach [population control] goals." This fascinating concept of "rights" is also found in Chapter II of the document, which states that the implementation of the Cairo program "is the sovereign right of each country...." In other words, individuals and nations enjoy the "right" to comply with the UN's directives regarding population control, economic redistribution, and social reconstruction.
The most important subsidiary theme of both the ICPD and the program produced by the conference is the "empowerment of women," which will require nothing less than the reconfiguration of all private and public institutions in conformity with feminist demands. In a conference plenary address on September 6th, Johanna Dohnal, Minister for Women's Affairs, declared, "Equality and empowerment of women means more than just the right to birth control. It means power-sharing; it means better access to political leadership; it means economic self-reliance of women. Women want redistribution in all aspects of their lives."
The Cairo plan states, "The power relations that impede women's attainment of healthy and fulfilling lives operate at many levels in society, from the most personal to the highly public." It therefore follows that government intervention at all levels -- particularly within the family -- is necessary in order to achieve "empowerment" for women.
The Cairo program states, "While various forms of the family exist in different social, cultural, legal and political systems, the family is the basic unit of society and as such is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support." Lest this be taken as a casual endorsement of the conventional family, the program elaborates that the conditions of modern life have wrought "considerable change in family composition and structure" and that "traditional notions of gender-based division of parental and domestic functions ... do not reflect current realities and aspirations." Accordingly, the Cairo plan adumbrates a concentrated campaign to abolish the embattled remnants of the "patriarchal" family.
The program instructs governments to inaugurate "national campaigns to foster women's awareness of the full range of their legal rights, including their rights within the family"; it directs "leaders at all levels of society" to "speak out and act forcefully against patterns of gender discrimination within the family"; it decrees that "the equal participation of women and men in all areas of family and household responsibilities, including family planning, child-rearing and housework, should be promoted and encouraged by Governments."
According to Mrs. Brundtland, "Traditional religious and cultural obstacles can be overcome by economic and social development, with the focus on enhancement of human resources." It is through the government supervised "empowerment" of women that religious and cultural values will be dissolved. This is why the Cairo plan of action places heavy emphasis on the political empowerment of women, on women's "education," and on making women financially "autonomous." Brundtland and many others (particularly in the U.S. delegation) emphasized that changing the role of women is an indispensable prerequisite for "sustainable development." Accordingly, global lending institutions, led by the World Bank, gladly offer "microeconomic" loans to women in Third World countries. By "empowering" women economically, family unity is disrupted, thus making the task of religious and cultural reconfiguration less difficult. These loans also make women in Third World countries dependent upon globalist institutions and vulnerable to their anti-life priorities.
THE NEW AMERICAN asked Undersecretary Wirth to explain the distinction between "population control" and "population stabilization" -- an alleged distinction frequently cited by Wirth and other luminaries at the Cairo conference. Wirth replied, "Nobody likes to be 'controlled'" and insisted that the "population movement is moving away from targets and numbers. When you use targets and goals, there's a temptation to establish quotas; people become worried about meeting their quotas, and that's the wrong way to go about doing it." Wirth insisted that the "right way" to fulfill population objectives is through the use of education, "increased opportunities for women," and the other elements of the Cairo plan of action.
THE NEW AMERICAN pointed out that the rhetoric of the conference suggested that previous attempts to solve the population "crisis" through "education" had been unsuccessful and asked: "What comes after education? What if education doesn't 'take'?" Wirth replied: "Education will 'take,' unless there are a lot of people going around trying to kill this document." By this reasoning, those who resist the radical "reforms" embodied in the Cairo plan have only two choices: They may either conform to the Cairo agenda, or be blamed for the coercive measures which would be enacted after "education," "empowerment," and "sustainable development" fail.
Many of the Third World residents who came to Cairo did so to offer public testimony regarding the post-"education" means that are used to obtain "population stability." On September 7th, several feminist groups conducted an event entitled "Crimes Against Women Related to Population Policies" at the NGO Forum. Those crimes were described by feminists who accept the premises of population control but are appalled by the policies which flow from those premises. A summary statement issued at the hearing explained that testimonies had been taken from women around the world exposing "the widespread crimes against women and women's bodies and [identifying] the ideology of population control as the source of these crimes." The statement concluded that "population policies worldwide discriminate against the poor, the disabled, indigenous people," and that "population control policies remain racist and eugenicist" and make use of "bribery, inducements, misinformation on adverse effects of drugs as well as outright violence through forced sterilization...."
Among the accounts offered in Cairo was the testimony of Marie Souza de Farias of Brazil, who had been lured into accepting Norplant. Her doctors had assured her that she "would always be ready for sex." Implantation of the contraceptive caused dizziness, hemorrhaging, and heart problems; belated removal of the device led to hepatitis and early menopause. The Brazilian woman stated, "I believe that Norplant acceptance in the U.S.A. is due to misguided information provided by those who coordinate the tests around the world."
Numerous women offered similar stories about the use of Third World women as test subjects for Norplant and other contraceptives. Others, particularly those from the subcontinent, offered accounts of coerced sterilization. Ruth Monoroma described the plight of the Dalit women in India, who are among the poorest of that country's poor. Although "family planning" agencies will bring sterilization and contraception "services" directly to these women, they have no access to clean water and sanitary facilities. States Monoroma: "We call Family Planning the 'butcher camps.'" Women are still routinely forced to accept sterilization in India.
Others in the region are lured into "voluntary" sterilization by social service agencies and lending institutions. Halima Begum of Bangladesh, who underwent sterilization in exchange for promises of food and money to build a house, is now chronically ill and shunned by her relatives. Significantly, Bangladesh is the home of the Grameen Bank, the World Bank's most notable program for the economic "empowerment" of women. The Grameen Bank was cited by numerous speakers in Cairo -- including Jane Fonda -- as a model to be followed throughout the world.
Also found among those who have witnessed the "benevolence" of the global population control effort is Dr. Margaret Ogala, a Kenyan pediatrician. Speaking at a pro-life press conference on September 6th, Dr. Ogala related her experiences as director of a crisis pregnancy center and medical director of a pediatric hospital for children born with AIDS. Dr. Ogala testified that the "cultural imperialism" of population control has devastated her nation by disrupting "the African woman's natural capacity to nurture":
According to Dr. Ogala, poor mothers in Kenya have to make tremendous sacrifices to obtain medicines such as penicillin. However, she reports, "When we walk out of the emergency ward of my hospital, there is a family welfare center [family planning clinic] a few meters away where we have never lacked for each and every contraceptive, including IUDs, Norplant, condoms. Whatever the agencies can provide, you find it in our hospitals. They will never lack for those things; we never run short, despite the fact that we are always running short of many truly important things."
Dr. Ogala noted that the Kenyan population control effort has done nothing to improve the life of Kenyan women and much to deepen their misery. "If you repeat a story often enough people will believe you, particularly when they face a very hard life. But now their lives are actually harder. They cannot feed the children that they're having, despite the fact that they've done what the Kenyan government has told them. They've been told that if they have fewer children then their conditions would be better. And it's simply not true."
When Dr. Ogala was a college student, demographic texts predicted that Kenya's population would be 35 million in 1989. However, "What we found in 1989 was that the population was actually only 25 million Kenyans, and many of us fear that the number is actually even smaller than that. The government actually didn't want to publicize the number." The country's children and youth are being decimated by AIDS: "Young people are dying in the thousands. The leader of our delegation has said that by 2025 the number of Kenyans dying from AIDS will equal the number of Kenyans dying from all other causes. In some hospitals nearly one of every three infants is born with AIDS. Yet we are constantly being told that Kenya's population must be reduced even further."
According to Dr. Ogala, "In the name of population control, people are treated almost like rats -- there are too many, and they're unwanted. And in the name of controlling this human pestilence, anything is justifiable, so that things are done to poor Third World women that could not be done to anybody else. And this is something that I cannot accept. Anytime they want to test something, they bring it and they try it on the women of the Third World, because we have so many people; any method is justifiable, so long as it is used on a woman who is poor and helpless."
Mercy Wambui of Kenya's Energy and Environment Association shares Dr. Ogala's perceptions. Wambui was dismayed that the Cairo conference focused on population control rather than on economic development. "Don't tell me about family planning and contraceptives," Wambui stated rhetorically to THE NEW AMERICAN. "In my country it's easy to get contraceptives, but not aspirin." Wambui is outraged by the frankly anti-life priorities manifest by the World Bank, which has made "population stabilization" a top priority.
Wambui pointed out that the IMF's "structural readjustment" policies have created tremendous economic dislocations in Kenya, which have further exacerbated the country's health care system: "Our doctors are presently on strike, we have no basic medicines or equipment, women and children are dying -- but there's always money for population control." Kenya suffers from many things, notes Wambui, but "overpopulation" is not one of them. "Should we be aiming at reducing population, or should we be aiming at improving our quality of life? Our focus shouldn't be, 'reduce population for a better life' -- it doesn't work."
An Open Secret
The sentiments expressed by Ogala and Wambui were shared by numerous delegates and representatives of countries in the "developing world," many of whom complained that the Cairo conference focused on the population question to the exclusion of the question of economic development. The largely unaddressed subject of "development" -- that is to say, of global economic redistribution -- will be addressed at the UN World Summit for Social Development, which will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark next March.
Leonardo Casco, a Honduran attorney who advised his country's ICPD delegation, told THE NEW AMERICAN that the use of financial compulsion by USAID to obtain cooperation from his country is an open secret: "Nobody here will talk about it openly, but people understand it," he remarked. "There is a program of action carried out by the Ministry of Health in Honduras, a plan covering 1990 to 1994, funded with $50 million from AID. This includes several good things for the health [of Hondurans], but as well is included a section that establishes targets on contraception prevalence."
Casco reported that these "targets" are pursued by the Honduran Institute for Health and Social Security and the IPPF. "According to official statistics given by the Health Ministry, there are 15,000 a year in Honduras who are sterilized," Casco told THE NEW AMERICAN. Reports are accumulating of women who have been involuntarily sterilized: "We are preparing a lawsuit on behalf of these women, some of whom were sterilized by doctors who decided, without telling them, that they had had too many children already."
The intervention of UN agencies, USAID, and anti-natalist NGOs has created the same distortions in Honduras that Dr. Ogala described in Kenya, according to Casco. "Basic antibiotic medicines are lacking in my country, but the IPPF cabinets are full of contraceptives, while women are dying because of a lack of basic medicine."
Rwanda a Model?
How serious is the UN about the "need" for population control? Ask the Rwandans -- while they still exist. On the penultimate day of the Cairo conference, Patric Mazimuka, the Rwandan Minister for Youth and Cooperation, held a press conference in which he described his government's plans for "post-genocide population management." Although Rwanda has lost more that 1.5 million souls -- one-fifth of its population -- to fratricidal warfare, Mazimuka insisted that "the government will have to try to keep the family on track because we cannot afford a big population."
Mazimuka's statements provoked no controversy at the Cairo conference, as they were perfectly harmonious with the premises contained in the ICPD's world plan of action -- namely, that people are a "resource" to be managed by global supervisors in the interest of "sustainable development," and that the family is an administrative unit of the global mega-state. Those who wish to understand what "sustainable development" portends should imagine a Rwanda-style tragedy on a global scale.
Another useful glimpse into the population control mindset was offered on September 5th during a question/answer session involving Vice President Al Gore. A man who identified himself as a member of the United Nations Association from Pasadena, California made reference to the impending UN occupation of Haiti: "Why can't the United Nations send huge hospital ships to Haiti to deliver good medicine to an impoverished people. Giving good medicine establishes confidence in the doctors, which could then get an agreement to have small families, to accept contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion."
Gore's reply avoided a direct response to the proposition of family-planning-by-extortion. However, his interlocutor persisted: "What about hospital ships that can deliver family planning?" After a brief discussion with USAID Director Atwood, Gore delivered the following answer:
It is significant that Gore did not reject outright the suggestion that UN "aid" to Haiti may be used as leverage to compel Haitians to accept sterilization, abortion, and other "family planning" options -- perhaps because (as demonstrated above) such linkage is a common population control practice.
Just as individual women are browbeaten into abortions or sterilizations by population controllers, nations which retain their pro-life values will be compelled to surrender them under threat of political ostracism, economic sanctions, or worse. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), a dissident in the otherwise monolithically pro-abortion U.S. delegation to Cairo, condemned the Clinton Administration's "obsession with abortion on demand." Smith told THE NEW AMERICAN that the Administration's attempt to draw a distinction between a "global right to abortion" and "assuring access to abortion" is basically meaningless. "It is access to abortion that is causing all of the controversy in the states," Smith said, noting that the health care debate foundered on the issue of government funded .... to abortion in a access national health care system.
Asked how a global guarantee of "access" to abortion might be enforced, Smith told THE NEW AMERICAN: "If abortion becomes a so-called human right, any country that does not follow suit could be held in international fora to be in violation of that [right], and some actions might be taken against the government." According to Smith, "This has been one of the concerns of Ireland, with regards to its pro-life law, which courageously was put in by the people themselves by way of referendum."
At Cairo, the Clinton Administration and its globalist allies incessantly proclaimed their desire to make abortion and coercive population control measures "unnecessary." But it is also true that Lenin wanted to make the gulag "unnecessary"; he simply wanted to create a "New Soviet Man," and coercive measures would have been avoided had Lenin's subjects submitted to "education." Likewise, Hitler tried several "solutions" to the "problem" of racial impurities before the "Final Solution" became "necessary."
Because it sets forth the "necessity" of radical controls over human fertility, the Cairo program is a covenant with death. But, as Isaiah said of the corrupt political leadership whose earlier covenant with death he assailed, "... your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it."
"Interpretive" Abortion Policy
At Cairo, the Clinton Administration repeatedly issued assurances that it would not seek the establishment of a "new international right to abortion." These guarantees were a necessary political expedient in the quest for a "consensus" in support of the Cairo program. Unpersuaded national delegations from Catholic and Muslim countries approved the document with reservations, many of them stating in unambiguous terms that "life begins at conception." The history of the UN population control effort suggests that these expressions of pro-life values cherished by sovereign states will have little impact upon the world body's anti-natalist plans.
The Clinton Administration's record of support for abortion overseas suggests that its Cairo "compromise" position will be as revocable as Bill Clinton's promise of a "middle-class tax cut." One of Mr. Clinton's first acts as President was to repeal America's endorsement of the UN's "Mexico City" guidelines, which "forbade" funding of groups which use abortion as a method of "family planning." On April 1, 1993, Administration spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers announced that abortion was part of the Administration's "overall approach to population control."
On May 11th of the same year, Timothy Wirth gave an address to the UN in which he declared, "A government which is violating basic human rights should not hide behind the defense of sovereignty. Difficult as it is, we must also discuss thoroughly the issue of abortion .... Our position is to support reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion." This position was formally reiterated in an October 1993 State Department cable which was sent to diplomatic posts worldwide.
On March 16th of this year the State Department issued an "action cable" to all U.S. overseas diplomatic posts instructing them to conduct "diplomatic interventions" on behalf of U.S. "priorities" for the Cairo conference. Those "priorities" included "assuring ... access to safe abortion." The cable unambiguously declared, "The United States believes that access to safe, legal and voluntary abortion is a fundamental right of all women" (emphasis added). The action cable also insisted that the Administration would be seeking "stronger language on the importance of access to abortion services" at the Cairo conference.
Disclosure of the contents of the State Department cables created a public outcry and a diplomatic scandal. Shortly before the Cairo conference, both Vice President Al Gore and Timothy Wirth publicly denied that the Clinton Administration had ever sought to create a universal "right" to abortion. Gore was particularly emphatic during a National Press Club address, declaring that the "United States has not sought, does not seek, and will not seek an international right to an abortion" -- an unambiguous lie.
During a question/answer session on September 5th at the ICPD NGO Forum, Vice President Gore was challenged by Jim Miller of the Population Research Institute to explain the contradiction between the position claimed for the Administration by Gore and the position defined in the State Department cables. Gore reiterated his insistence that the Administration does not seek "to establish a new international right to abortion," and then launched into a labored and self-contradictory soliloquy:
This statement -- an involuted and petulant lie worthy of Bill Clinton himself -- is a capsule summary of the approach taken by the Administration when it gets caught. Gore was saying, in effect, "We never said it. You can't prove that we said it. Well, all right, we said it, but you've misinterpreted what we said."
Fidel Castro's Climb to Power
Fidel Castro's dictatorship in Cuba, contended Senator J. William Fulbright to President John F. Kennedy in March 1961, is a "thorn in the flesh, but it is not a dagger in the heart." Yet through U.S. actions, which helped put Castro in control in Havana, then ensured that he would be strong enough to hold that power, U.S. Presidents -- including, most recently, Bill Clinton -- have had to deal with the communist dictator of Cuba, who became much more than an irritation.
Early Revolutionary Days
Born in 1928 to a sugar cane contractor, Fidel Castro demonstrated an early affection for power, studying Hitler's Mein Kampf and spending hours mimicking before tape recorder and mirror the Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini. While some of his apologists have argued that Castro was somehow forced into communism (even after he boldly declared himself a Marxist/Leninist),his early history exposes him as a gangster and revolutionary. In 1947, for example, Castro participated in an invasion of the Dominican Republic. In 1948, when the meeting in Colombia of the Ninth International Conference of American States was attended by a large contingent of communist students, including Fidel, there were thousands killed in the Bogotazo riots. The bloody frenzy was touched off by the assassination of Liberal Party leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. Shortly before Gaitan's killing, Castro was seen in the presence of the assassin (who was himself killed); the communists were prepared to take advantage of the violence.
Subsequently, U.S. Ambassador to Peru and Brazil William Pawley testified before Congress that he had heard a voice on the radio saying (hyperbolically, it turned out): "This is Fidel Castro from Cuba. This is a Communist revolution. The president has been killed; all the military establishments in Colombia are now in our hands; the navy has capitulated, and this revolution has been a success." The police and even the president of Colombia uncovered Castro's role -- identifying him and another Red as "first-grade agents of the Third Front of the USSR in South America."
On July 26, 1953, Castro led an abortive coup attempt against Cuba's president, Fulgencio Batista. Although Castro and his brother Raul, a known communist, were sentenced to 15 and 13 years respectively, Batista amnestied them after 22 months. The Castros left Cuba for Mexico, where they hooked up with Argentine communist Ernesto "Che" Guevara and others to prepare for an invasion of Cuba. The resulting 82-man "invasion" in December 1956 was a dismal failure, and Fidel and a small band of survivors took to the Sierra Maestra.
Enter Herbert Matthews
The American media, in particular Herbert Matthews of the New York Times, built up the myth of Fidel Castro -- the supposed agrarian reformer. John Kennedy compared the Cuban revolution to the American one, and called Fidel "part of the legacy of Bolivar." JFK also bought the fable of U.S. exploitation of a downtrodden Cuba.
Matthews, who had earlier backed the communist side in the Spanish Civil War, also exaggerated such things as the alleged poor health care of Cubans and even a lack of shoes. Yet even Kennedy house historian Arthur Schlesinger admitted that pre-Castro Cuba ranked near the top in Latin America in "education, literacy, social services and urbanization." Cuba's communist revolution did not start from the "bottom up." Che Guevara, in the World Marxist Review, acknowledged as much: "The armed struggle was initiated by the petty bourgeoisie."
In a series of articles starting in February 1957, Matthews blasted Batista and fawned on Fidel, "the rebel leader of Cuba's youth," who was a "flaming symbol." General Batista, assured Matthews, "cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt." Fidel Castro's program, came the word from the Times, "amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic, and therefore anti-Communist."
Matthews' coverage of Castro in the New York Times was reprinted by Castro supporters and distributed in Cuba, leading to a series of public-relations successes. As a Castro publicist put it: "Both Matthews and the New York Times could be considered practically in our pockets, so it was better to keep them in reserve for the future." A succession of media puffs were run by NBC, CBS, and Life. At the time that Batista supposedly could not resist Castro, Castro and his men had been involved in but two minor actions -- one in which they butchered sleeping guards, according to Guevara. Little wonder, as Guevara later admitted when the revolution was over, "The presence of a foreign journalist, American for preference, was more important for us than a military victory."
Others in the media also helped in the same vein as Matthews, including Jean-Paul Sartre and C. Wright Mills. When a triumphant Fidel visited New York, in a stage-managed performance akin to the "guerrilla theater" in the Sierra Maestra, Norman Mailer proclaimed that "it was as if the ghost of Cortez had appeared in our century riding Zapata's white horse." Castro, wrote Mailer, was "the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second War."
Help at State
Obviously it took more than press clippings to communize Cuba -- it also took the U.S. State Department. When Ambassador Earl E.T. Smith was posted to Havana, he was told outright that (as later recounted before a Senate subcommittee by another ambassador, Robert Hill) he had been "assigned to Cuba to preside over the downfall of Batista. The decision has been made that Batista has to go. You must be very careful."
In charge of the project, as Smith found out, were Roy Rubottom, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, and William Wieland, director of the Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs. Both, as it happens, had been in Colombia at the time of the Bogotazo riots and knew about Castro's actions but had not reported about it at that time, nor did they deign to mention that most pertinent matter to Ambassador Smith when he went to Cuba in July 1957. As late as 1961, Wieland and Rubottom were officially peddling the line that Fidel was not a communist, though they knew otherwise, as was later determined in security hearings. Friends of Wieland, for example, testified that he had told them in 1957 and 1958 that he knew that Castro was a communist. There can be no doubt that Rubottom and Wieland were covering for Castro.
Smith, a brave man who risked the wrath of all those pushing the Red line -- in Havana and in Washington -- later recalled in The Fourth Floor:
All of which led Smith to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that the U.S. "Government and the United States press played a major role in bringing Castro to power." The turning point in ousting Batista, and opening the way to Castro, many agree, was the announcement in March 1958 that the U.S. was cutting off arms sales to the Batista government, a move engineered by Wieland and Rubottom, among others. Prior to that, Fidel (who never had more than 3,000 fighters) had not amassed more than 300 men. In cutting off support to Batista, the supposedly pro-Batista Eisenhower Administration signed the death warrant for resistance to communism in Cuba. Castro, in the meantime, was clandestinely supplied with arms from the United States while officials looked the other way.
Former Ambassador William Pawley, the organizer of the Flying Tigers in China, repeatedly tried to warn President Eisenhower as well as Wieland and Rubottom of Fidel's communist allegiance. To no avail. Pawley later wrote: "I believe that the deliberate overthrow of Batista by Wieland and Matthews, assisted by Rubottom, is almost as great a tragedy as the surrendering of China to the Communists by a similar group of Department of State officials fifteen or sixteen years ago and we will not see the end in cost of American lives and American resources for these tragic errors."
To imply that these were merely errors is, we believe, to be charitable. When Pawley was asked in 1961 by the general counsel of a Senate subcommittee about Wieland (who served as the ambassador's press attaché in Brazil) and about the possibility of Wieland's being a communist himself, Pawley demurred. Was Wieland serving "the cause of our enemies" intentionally? Answered Pawley: "I have got to say that he is either one of the most stupid men living or that he is doing it intentionally."
Embassy Assistance to Reds
Except largely for the ambassadors (Smith, and before him Arthur Gardner), the U.S. embassy in Havana was as pro-Castro as the State Department. New York Times correspondent Ruby Hart Phillips, who was presented with an orchid by Castro as he rolled into Havana, wrote that at the time of the revolution, "one man laughingly asked me if I knew of the 'Castro cell' in the U.S. Embassy. It was no secret that several of the officials there favored the overthrow of Batista and the assumption of power by Castro." The U.S. consul in Santiago was also sympathetic to Castro.
The public affairs officer of the U.S. embassy in Cuba helped to arrange press interviews with Castro in the mountains; he went so far as to hide an underground Castroite (a Matthews confidante and later minister in Castro's cabinet) in his house. The embassy even harbored an American pilot who was illegally supplying arms to Castro but whose plane had crashed on its 20th mission. A "Student Directorate" assassination attempt on Batista was known beforehand by the embassy, which did nothing.
His True Color
While the State Department and the leftist U.S. media whitewashed Castro, even after he took over officially on January 1, 1959, and the bloodthirsty cry of Paredon! (to the Wall!) preceded hundreds of executions, not all had been blind. Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, for instance, presciently wrote in the September 1958 American Opinion that Castro's whole past was evidence that "he is a Communist agent carrying out Communist orders...."
Confiscations of U.S. property took place; schools were turned into propaganda factories; civil liberties were suspended; free elections were dismissed; and alliances with Moscow were made. On October 13, 1960 nearly 400 locally owned firms -- sugar mills, banks, large industries -- were socialized. After that came the socialization of all commercial real estate. There was a takeover of the courts. The rival anti-Batista forces agreed to lay down their arms, sealing their fate. Revolutionary "justice" and purges began, as the non-Reds in Castro's movement learned they had been duped.
The horrendous suffering and torture in Castro's prisons has been painfully described by Armando Valladares, a 22-year veteran of such ordeals who was freed by Western pressure. In Against All Hope, Valladares writes movingly of condemned Cuban patriots crying, "Long Live Christ the King! Down with Communism!" -- until guards were unnerved and gags had to be applied before the firing squads took over.
In comparison, the words of Herbert Matthews, not that long before, are as dust: "Castro has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the constitution, to hold elections."
How about the alleged anti-communism'? Well, as Castro explained in Le Figaro magazine in June 1986, back in 1959 the U.S. wanted "us to make a strategic and tactical error and proclaim a doctrine as a communist movement. In fact, I was a communist .... I think that a good Marxist-Leninist would not have proclaimed a socialist revolution in the conditions that existed in Cuba in 1959. I think I was a good Marxist-Leninist in not doing that, and when we did not make known our underlying beliefs."
In the summer of 1960, Cuba was flooded with Soviet arms. In response to the growing threat to the U.S., a plan was formulated by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower Administration to oust Castro. Though JFK knew about this before the election (as, of course, did Vice President Nixon), Kennedy tried to make political hay of anti-Castro feeling in the presidential debates -- backing any exile effort against Castro. Nixon felt compelled to keep mum on the plans being considered. In short, JFK didn't inherit an out-of-control policy when he came into the White House.
The President-elect was also briefed during the interregnum about the idea (akin to a 1954 CIA effort in Guatemala) to get rid of Castro. The effort against Castro was not to be a military operation, however. And, as we know now, it was not going to get rid of Castro either. It is not far-fetched to think that the liberals in the new Administration, drawn into the notion begrudgingly (and some of whom favored "Castroism without Castro"), deliberately sabotaged the operation known now as the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco. Whether the effort might have worked may be debated, but that it couldn't work the way it was carried out seems indisputable -- with some 1,400 Cubans abandoned on the beaches to murderous fire from aircraft and tanks.
By the time the anti-Castro move came, the plans had been revised drastically at JFK's orders. The President, however, seemed to have little idea of the dangers of an amphibious landing, especially at night. While the original plan did not involve direct U.S. forces, the CIA and military, it seems clear, expected that if need be U.S. forces would be available to prevent a failure. And, indeed, the Cubans were led to believe that they would have air cover and whatever other support was needed to succeed.
However, Kennedy seemed obsessed with keeping the official forces of the U.S. out of action. A larger plan, centered on the city of Trinidad, was the initial proposal presented. But this site (which had a fallback plan for guerrilla activity from the Escambray mountains) was scrubbed at the last minute for one that would make "less noise" at the Zapata swamp area near Bahia de Cohinos -- the Bay of Pigs, which happened to be one of Fidel's favorite fishing spots.
The Kennedy Administration, it has since been learned, was deeply involved (before and after the Bay of Pigs) in assassination plans against Castro; some involved a mobster who shared a mistress with JFK. LBJ, who said Kennedy was running "a damn Murder Incorporated in the Caribbean," later surmised that Kennedy "was trying to get Castro, but Castro got to him first."
Be that as it may, the Cuban patriots never got the backing they were promised. This despite the King of Camelot's noble promise to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Named for the serial number of a Cuban who died in training, Brigade 2506 was supposed to land intact on Cuba's southern coast and establish a beachhead. Operation Pluto, as Mario Lazo pointed out in Reader's Digest in 1964 and a subsequent book, was essentially an air operation that demanded that Castro's air force be first knocked out on the ground. That is exactly what didn't happen.
The planning for the operation was hardly a secret. There were early accounts of training in Guatemala (the brigade later transferred to Nicaragua before embarking) in the New York Times, La Hora out of Guatemala City, and in subsequent reports in The Nation and elsewhere. Shortly before the invasion, the New York Times (among others) had much of the pertinent information, editing its front-page account of the coming assault slightly when the White House found out about it. Press secretary Pierre Salinger, who said that Castro knew everything eight days before the invasion but the time and place, called it "the least covert military operation in history."
Two weeks before the Bay of Pigs, Nikita Khrushchev told Walter Lippman about the pending attack, saying it would fail. Secrecy was almost nonexistent. Even as the force was nearing its target, the New York Times actually called Revolución in Havana to see if they had any word on details yet; that publication alerted Fidel.
Two top agents running the operation wanted to quit due to all the debilitating changes, as Peter Wyden points out in The Bay of Pigs. They were convinced to stay, but when action began, matters got worse. The President, who had equivocated before, began to hedge even more -- even as the operation was underway. As the political risk was lessened (in his mind, ostensibly), the military risks grew.
The promised air "umbrella," it turned out, wasn't there for the Cuban exiles. There were supposed to be three air strikes, but after the first (largely ineffective) one caused a ruckus at the United Nations, the President cancelled the second one outright -- without even telling top military commanders. Chief of Naval Operations Arleigh Burke didn't find out until ten hours after that vital strike cancellation. Potential cover from the carrier Essex was vetoed. Only a moderate one and one-half strikes were permitted; of the 48 sorties that had been scheduled to knock out Castro's planes, only eight were allowed. Just a handful of Castro's planes were knocked out, with appalling results. Militarily, the operation was a fiasco, with ammunition and communications being early casualties. Then the bloodbath on the beaches began.
Betrayal and Beyond
Even so, CNO Burke thought the situation could have been retrieved by using a barrage from but one destroyer, but that too was refused by JFK, who said he didn't want the U.S. to become involved. "We are involved, sir," Burke reportedly argued. "We trained and armed these Cubans. We helped land them on the beaches. G**d***it, Mr. President, we can't let those boys be slaughtered there!"
But they were deserted. Cuban calls for help became more pitiful to those Americans who were handcuffed. A typical one from the beach commander: "Do not see any friendly air cover as you promised. Need jet support immediately. Pepe." Plea denied. The final message from the beach commander of the Free Cubans, sent to the U.S. vessels standing offshore of the Bay of Pigs: "I am destroying all my equipment. I have nothing left to fight with. The enemy tanks are already in my position. Farewell, friends!"
Arthur Schlesinger noted the irony that the President was then willing to take more risks to take the Cubans off the beach than to put them on. Some 114 in the invading force were killed; 1,189 were captured; of the 150 or so others, a few were rescued and some never landed. Though the anti-communist underground had not even been alerted, Castro rounded up perhaps 300,000 Cuban suspects and declared that his was a socialist revolution after all. It gave Castro, reported Paul Johnson, "the opportunity to wage a terror-campaign against the opposition."
The eventual ransom of the Cuban exiles was humiliating and complicated. At first, Castro's asking price was some $28 million in tractors. After show trials started, arrangements were finally made to get Brigade 2506 returned, at a cost of around $53 million in medical supplies and baby food, with the donating pharmaceutical companies given tax breaks by Robert Kennedy.
When the men of Brigade 2506 were released, after a year and a half, President Kennedy was handed the flag of the brigade in a dramatic Miami ceremony. He vowed, "I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana." In 1976, however, lawyers for the brigade were forced to hire a lawyer to get the flag back from the U.S. government; it had been crated up in the Kennedy Library in Massachusetts.
Some six months after the Orange Bowl event celebrating the release of the Cuban fighters, the President met with Herbert Matthews, as Matthews recounted in Revolution in Cuba. "Fidel Castro ought to be grateful to us," remarked Kennedy. "He gave us a kick in the a** and it made him stronger than ever." That is why some believe it was the perfect failure.