War criminals as considerate bosses and polite dinner party guests.

One of the good things about Twitter is it’s ability to reveal the vapidity and unearned privilege of so many people in politics. It also serves as a regular reminder that we share little if any values with prominent #NeverTrump conservatives. Here’s shameless hack Max Boot defending the honor of his “colleague”. Apparently, questioning a war criminal on the impact of his destructive actions during a job interview is an “ad hominem attack”:

Max Boot is a WaPo columnist and fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations. Therefore a member of the “very serious person” clique that inhabits DC and thinks nothing of abuses of power that enhance their careers.

I’m sure when you’re sitting at a boardroom in DC discussing how to bring Democracy and Human Rights to some far-away place, it’s difficult to remember what the people around the table have done. Which is why it was essential that Rep. Omar Ilhan remind us what Abrams’ partners in bringing “Democracy” and “Human Rights” did in Guatemala. Let’s go to Corey Robin for that:

On 5 December 1982, Ronald Reagan met the Guatemalan president, Efraín Ríos Montt, in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for Reagan. ‘Well, I learned a lot,’ he told reporters on Air Force One. ‘You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.’ It was also a useful meeting for Ríos Montt. Reagan declared him ‘a man of great personal integrity . . . totally dedicated to democracy’, and claimed that the Guatemalan strongman was getting ‘a bum rap’ from human rights organisations for his military’s campaign against leftist guerrillas. The next day, one of Guatemala’s elite platoons entered a jungle village called Las Dos Erres and killed 162 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children. Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air, and smashed their heads against a wall. Older children and adults were forced to kneel at the edge of a well, where a single blow from a sledgehammer sent them plummeting below. The platoon then raped a selection of women and girls it had saved for last, pummelling their stomachs in order to force the pregnant among them to miscarry. They tossed the women into the well and filled it with dirt, burying an unlucky few alive. The only traces of the bodies later visitors would find were blood on the walls and placentas and umbilical cords on the ground. — www.lrb.co.uk/…

Here are two more members of the DC foreign policy clique defending Abrams:

If these hacks ever delete their tweets, images are here. No thanks, we don’t need to “build bridges” with “non partisan” war criminals or “try to see the best” in them.

Dave Harden’s bio reads: “Managing Director, Georgetown Strategy Group; CEO @Souktel; Board @kids4Peace; Former USAID Ass’t Administrator; led Yemen, Syria, West Bank/Gaza, Iraq & Libya.” 

Nicholas Burns is “Harvard Kennedy School Professor, former American Diplomat

Perhaps these are just run of the mill conservative armchair warriors itching to blow up some villages and villagers in the Middle East.

But they aren’t kidding about the “non partisan” or “bi-partisan” nature of the attempt to rehabilitate Elliott Abrams.

Kelly Magsamen is: “VP @CAPSecurity at @amprog. Former Bush and Obama NSC, DoD and State. Shadow Gov contributor @ForeignPolicy. ”  That’s right, she has a leadership role at the Center for American Progress (a prominent liberal think-tank) and worked in the Obama administration.

No Ms. Magsamen, we don’t give one fig whether Abrams was a good boss.  We care about the horrors his actions visited on the poor and powerless in Latin America.

We don’t believe facilitating genocide is a “serious professional mistake”. It is a war crime.

And Abrams has definitely not been “held accountable”. He was pardoned by Bush. The investigation into that administration’s crimes was squashed. He never faced justice.

Here’s what accountability looks like. The men Abrams aided in terrorizing Guatemala were convicted on charges of genocide. If you want Abrams to be held “accountable”, work on sending him to Guatemala to face charges. 

Ms. Magsamen worked for Abrams when he was appointed to the National Security Council by George W. Bush. Remember that next time someone sends you a cute picture of Bush handing out candy somewhere.

And here is a defense of Elliott that takes the cake. 

You heard that right, a Congresswoman performing her constitutional duty and vigorously questioning a war criminal nominated for a senior foreign policy position is an example of… anti-semitism. Amazingly, Knowles is not the only person to have advanced such an argument.

Let’s go back to our favorite VP at CAP, who had this to say about a few weeks ago about an article suggesting Democrats should not make common cause with neocons.

No. We are not agreeing on anything. Neocon is not an “anti-semitic term”. We aim to get rid of neocons and warmongers and war criminals. We’re not interesting in creating “bipartisan views” with them. We are interested in ending their influence on our country’s foreign policy. No part of that goal involves allying with them in any way.

Here’s what this entire episode underscores for us. If we are to have a real transformation in this country’s relationship with the world, we have to throw out all the foreign policy hacks who have spent their entire careers peddling militarist foreign policy and bouncing between Republican and Democratic administrations. People who are dumb and warped enough to support war criminals because they were polite to them at a DC cocktail party or “mentored” them should have no role in Democratic politics. 

Instead of tying ourselves up in knots over whether a war criminal can be a good guest at dinner, keep in mind what the Reagan/Bush administrations did, and what Elliott Abrams did for them. The only thing we need to consider is whether these people should ever come close to the awesome instruments of power which our government wields.

And the answer to that is No:

As Greg Grandin shows in The Last Colonial Massacre, Latin America was as much a battleground of the Cold War as Europe, and Guatemala was its front line. In 1954, the US fought its first major contest against Communism in the Western hemisphere when it overthrew Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had worked closely with the country’s small but influential Communist Party. That coup sent a young Argentinian doctor fleeing to Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro. Five years later, Che Guevara declared that 1954 had taught him the impossibility of peaceful, electoral reform and promised his followers that ‘Cuba will not be Guatemala.’ In 1966, Guatemala was again the pacesetter, this time pioneering the ‘disappearances’ that would come to define the dirty wars of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. In a lightning strike, US-trained security officials captured some thirty leftists, tortured and executed them, and then dropped most of their corpses into the Pacific. Explaining the operation in a classified memo, the CIA wrote: ‘The execution of these persons will not be announced and the Guatemalan government will deny that they were ever taken into custody.’ With the 1996 signing of a peace accord between the Guatemalan military and leftist guerrillas, the Latin American Cold War finally came to an end – in the same place it had begun – making Guatemala’s the longest and most lethal of the hemisphere’s civil wars. Some 200,000 men, women and children were dead, virtually all at the hands of the military: more than were killed in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador combined, and roughly the same number as were killed in the Balkans. Because the victims were primarily Mayan Indians, Guatemala today has the only military in Latin America deemed by a UN-sponsored truth commission to have committed acts of genocide. — www.lrb.co.uk/…

If we do not fully prosecute criminals like Elliott Abrams, it will enable and embolden the next generation of warmongers. There will be more victims, we will have more wars, there will be more injustice. We need to end this.

— @subirgrewal