Think tanks have emerged in Washington politics to provide sponsorship for politicians and to bring attention to policy issues. One of these is the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation. Its Web site claims it values and promotes limited government, "traditional American values" and national defense. Although these seem to be noble goals, the Heritage Foundation has a history of supporting terrorism in the developing world.
The Reagan Doctrine was a plan aided by Heritage Foundation "expert" Michael Johns. The plan was to rollback communism in the Third World, bring democracy to these countries and save them from the influence of the Soviets.
The Heritage Foundation recommended action in nine countries. The dictatorships that resulted in these nations were justified by the Kirkpatrick Doctrine, which declared pro-U.S. dictatorships were better, since they were authoritarian, while Soviet-backed dictatorships were totalitarian and therefore not subject to changing for the better.
Communists took power in the Central American nation of Nicaragua, spurring the resistance movement of the Contras and inciting the fearful U.S. to action. Reagan referred to the Contras as "freedom fighters," despite human rights abuses of amputation and killing children. CIA manuals detailed how to properly assassinate government officials and intimidate the civilians watching. Cocaine was sold by the Contras under the auspices of the CIA to support their civil war. The Contras were illegally funded by selling weapons to Iran, resulting in a scandal covered up by shredding documents.
Another country the Heritage Foundation targeted was Angola. The National Union of Total Independence of Angola, a group that fought the communist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, was funded by the U.S. Reagan met with the leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, and was excited by Savimbi bringing freedom to Angola. Savimbi spoke at a Heritage Foundation function in 1989, praising them for helping repeal the Clark Amendment, enabling the U.S. to send military aid to UNITA. UNITA destroyed medical facilities and schools, massacring civilians and arbitrarily placing landmines that maimed more than 15,000 people. Water and food supplies were targeted, leaving civilians to find and pay exorbitantly for these basic needs. Savimbi continued his terror spree well after the US recognized Angola’s government as legitimate.
The Mujahedeen in Afghanistan was recognized by the Heritage Foundation as "freedom fighters" against the invading Soviets. Despite this positive title, Amnesty International reported the Mujahedeen regularly raped women to terrorize their enemies and "reward" themselves. In a 1992 paper the Heritage Foundation called on the Mujahedeen to continue receiving funding as to not create "a new radical Islamic tyranny" that would destabilize the region. After the Soviets were expelled from Afghanistan, a civil war broke out, resulting in the rise of the Taliban. Osama bin Laden was indirectly given weapons by the CIA, and private funding from U.S. citizens was given to Maktab al-Khidamat, later taken over by bin Laden and turned into al-Qaida.
The Heritage Foundation now rails against the only terrorism that really matters to it – Islamic terrorism. It is ironic that it has adjuncts criticize global terror, yet they nurtured terrorism in the shining name of "democracy."
The Reagan Doctrine and the Heritage Foundation are a part of the reason why we have a problem with terrorism. We need to realize that democracy cannot be spread by force or at the end of a gun because disaster will ultimately ensue.
Corgey, a political science senior, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org