Book Review of:

Chapter 21. Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus

As we expose Zinn’s lies and half truths, you will see how deceitful Zinn really is.

Quotes from this phony history book are in red.

The Review of this book will be completed by the end of 2017.

Chapter 21 last updated on 4 May 2017

Howard Zinn has brainwashed millions of young minds.

p. 564  (Talk Radio and the Fairness Doctrine) - “On commercial radio, the usual narrow band of consensus, excluding fundamental criticism, was especially apparent. In the mid-1980s, with Ronald Reagan as President, the "fairness doctrine" of the Federal Communications Commission, requiring air time for dissenting views, was eliminated.(1) By the 1990s, "talk radio" had perhaps 20 million listeners, treated to daily tirades from right-wing talk-show "hosts," with left-wing guests uninvited.”(2)

Comment -

1. There was no sinister conspiracy to bar liberals from the air waves. Many left-wing radio shows started but most never lasted because very few people listened to them. The country still had all the newspapers and network news - the vast majority being very biased against the conservative point of view. There was much fundamental criticism of the government, but Zinn is only against conservative commentators criticizing the government.

The Fairness Doctrine, an FCC regulation, went into effect in 1949 when radio and especially TV was limited. It required owners of broadcast licenses to present both sides of controversial issues considered to be in the public interest. Failure to comply risked a challenge to the owner's license. 

Two stations lost their license - one temporarily. WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi lost its license in 1969 due to bias against the Civil Rights Movement. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the license of WJIM-TV in Lansing, Michigan in 1973 on allegations it prevented a number of prominent political figures from appearing on it’s station. A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) judge ordered the license revoked in 1981, but a three-member review board at the FCC restored their license in 1982.

The fact was that the “Fairness Doctrine” was unevenly enforced because it was a political issue. The main stream media - ABC, NBC, CBS - was extremely biased against the conservative point of view but their license was never threatened. President Nixon and Vice-President Agnew became folk heros to middle America by criticizing the liberal bias of the network news in the early 1970s.

Reagan and his appointed commissioners argued that The Fairness Doctrine violated broadcasters' First Amendment free speech rights by giving government a measure of editorial control over stations. The Fairness Doctrine actually prevented, rather then encouraged, political commentary on radio and TV. Since any individual could file a complaint with the FCC, it was better to not get involved at all then risk your license. Reagan opposed giving politicians and bureaucrats control over taking a station off the air as this was uncomfortably similar to what was done in dictatorships. Venezuela’s fascist leader Hugo Chavez used alleged violations of government regulations to take EVERY radio and TV station that had programing opposing Chavez taken off the air waves. Reagan believed it was better - and much safer for freedom of speech - for the market place of ideas to decide what was broadcast. It you don’t like the programing on a station, change the station.

It’s been over 25 years since the “Fairness Doctrine” was abolished and political discussion on the airwaves has exploded. So the constant cries of the political left to bring back the “Fairness Doctrine” shows they are not interested in a fair exchange of ideas, rather they want to stifle opposing points of view. 

2. Tirade? Expressing a viewpoint that opposes Zinn’s is not a tirade, it’s common sense.


p 567 - Carter had presented himself as a friend of the movement against the [Vietnam] war, but when Nixon mined Haiphong harbor and resumed bombing of North Vietnam in the spring of 1973,(1) Carter urged that "we give President Nixon our backing and support-whether or not we agree with specific decisions." Once elected, Carter declined to give aid to Vietnam for reconstruction, despite the fact that the land had been devastated by American bombing. Asked about this at a press conference, Carter replied that there was no special obligation on the United States to do this because "the destruction was mutual."

Considering that the United States had crossed half the globe with an enormous fleet of bombers and 2 million soldiers, and after eight years left a tiny nation with over a million dead and its land in ruins, this was an astounding statement.(2)

One Establishment intention, perhaps, was that future generations see the [Vietnam] war not as it appeared in the Defense Department's own Pentagon Papers—as a ruthless attack on civilian populations for strategic military and economic interests—but as an unfortunate error.(3)

Comment - 

1. Zinn is wrong on the date. It was 1972, not 1973 and Nixon had little choice but to renew the bombing of the North.

After Nixon became president in January 1969, he begun withdrawing US troops from Vietnam and turn the war over to South Vietnamese troops. North Vietnam had been bombed from 1965 until 1968, when the bombing was ended by President Johnson in order to encourage Hanoi to begin negotiations to end the war. In May 1968, peace talks started and went no where. North Vietnam demanded withdrawal of all US forces from S. Vietnam, while the U.S. demanded that North Vietnam remove their forces from South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese never negotiated in good faith nor did they end their infiltration into South Vietnam. The North was convinced that the US would weary of the war and win an outright military victory. 

On 30 March 1972, the North launched a major offensive against South Vietnam. About 30,000 Communist troops, supported by tanks and artillery, rolled across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Vietnam. In retaliation, on April 16, President Nixon ordered the renewed bombing of Hanoi and the port city of Haiphong - where most war supplies entered the country. 

On May 8, President Nixon made a major concession - actually a surrender - to North Vietnam by announcing that the U.S. would accept a cease-fire in place as a precondition for its military withdrawal. But Nixon was determined to give South Vietnam a fighting chance to survive as a nation. Too much American blood had been spilled to abandon South Vietnam.

On May 9, Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor as well as other harbors and inland waterways in North Vietnam.  This escalation of the war was crucial to cut off the flow of supplies to North Vietnamese troops fighting in the South and to protect the lives of American forces still in Vietnam. This escalation was also intended to pressure the North Vietnamese government into resuming negotiations to end the war in Vietnam. 

The bombing had a positive effect. The South Vietnamese Army - backed by US air power - reconquered the land taken by the North in their 30 March 1972 offensive. On October 8, 1972, North Vietnam modified their negotiating position and by 18 October the North had reached a peace agreement with the U.S. Nixon ordered an end to the bombing campaign over North Vietnam on 23 Oct 1972. 

With the presidential election only two weeks away, the North Vietnamese attempted to sabotage Nixon’s reelection chances by charging the US had backed out of the agreement.  With no evidence, the political left in America (including Zinn) sided with communist N. Vietnam and condemned Nixon. Their scheme was to win more concessions from the US. But Nixon stuck to his guns and refused to make concessions. Nixon was reelected but with N. Vietnam continuing to refuse to conclude negotiations, the peace talks in Paris collapsed on December 13. 

On 18 December, 1972, an angry Nixon ordered an all out bombing of N. Vietnam with B-52 bombers. The bombing campaign, called Linebacker II, resulted in nearly every military target in North Vietnam being bombed. Naturally, the communists claimed we bombed civilian targets which was all a lie - although Zinn believed them. One example was the claim a hospital in Hanoi had been bombed. The truth was that the hospital had been constructed only 200 YARDS from a petroleum storage facility - an obvious military target - yet only one patient was slightly injured.(A) Communists are infamous for putting civilians in harms way, hoping they get killed and then use it as propaganda against the US.

The bombing continued until December 29, at which time the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the negotiating table. Negotiations resumed on 8 January and on January 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accords was signed, ending US involvement in the Vietnam War.

A. Vietnamese Communism by Robert Turner, pub. 1975, p 272

2. Zinn was totally brainwashed by communist propaganda. Communism slaughtered millions of innocent people since 1917. Zinn, supposedly a history professor, ignored these atrocities. Preventing South Vietnam from falling to communism was certainly a righteous moral stance. The tragedy of Vietnam was Johnson’s war policy that virtually guaranteed the war could not be won. The destruction of Vietnam was due to the North’s refusal to abide by the 1954 Geneva Convention. So they should rebuild the country since they were responsible for starting the war. The US bombed military targets.

3. Zinn’s claim that the Pentagon Papers revealed the US engaged in “a ruthless attack on civilian populations for strategic military and economic interests” is not true. The Pentagon Papers was simply a study of the history of United States involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The Pentagon Papers revealed proposed operations by the US to defeat communism in southeast Asia and contain Communist China. The Pentagon Papers did NOT reveal any policy for killing civilians. This is another Zinn lie. 

You can read the Pentagon Papers for yourself at: 

p. 581 - “In a two-party system, if both parties ignore public opinion, there is no place voters can turn.”

Comment - Another example of Zinn living in his delusions. The voters DO have a place to turn. As stated earlier, any body can run for political office and there are third parties available. YOU can start a third party. Ralph Nader started the Green Party. There have been numerous third party candidates for president of the US. George Wallace ran a strong challenge in 1968, George Anderson in 1980 received 6.6% of the vote and Ross Perot ran strong in1992. There are many third parties at local levels.


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The Invasion of Grenada

p. 588,589 - “Shortly after that, in October 1983 (with some analysts concluding this was done to take attention away from the Lebanon disaster), Reagan sent U.S. forces to invade the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada. Again, Congress was notified, but not consulted. The reasons given to the American people for this invasion (officially called Operation Urgent Fury) were that a recent coup that had taken place in Grenada put American citizens (students at a medical school on the island) in danger; and that the United States had received an urgent request from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to intervene.

An unusually pointed article in the New York Times on October 29, 1983, by correspondent Bernard Gwertzman demolished those reasons:


The formal request that the U.S. and other friendly countries provide military help was made by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States last Sunday at the request of the United States, which wanted to show proof that it had been requested to act under terms of that group's treaty. The wording of the formal request, however, was drafted in Washington and conveyed to the Caribbean leaders by special American emissaries.

Both Cuba and Grenada, when they saw that American ships were heading for Grenada, sent urgent messages promising that American students were safe and urging that an invasion not occur.. .. There is no indication that the Administration made a determined effort to evacuate the Americans peacefully.... Officials have acknowledged that there was no inclination to try to negotiate with the Grenadian authorities. ... "We got there just in time," the President said.... A major point in the dispute is whether in fact the Americans on the island were in such danger as to warrant an invasion. No official has produced firm evidence that the Americans were being mistreated or that they would not be able to leave if they wanted.


Comment -  Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. In 1979, the leftist New Jewel Movement, led by Maurice Bishop seized power, suspending the constitution. Bishop never held free elections as promised and opposition newspapers were repressed. Bishop strengthened ties with other communist nations like Cuba and the Soviet Union. On 16 October 1983, Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin led a military coup and seized power. Bishop and dozens of supporters were eventually murdered. The army under Hudson Austin then  formed a military council to rule the country. The governor-general, Paul Scoon, was placed under house arrest. The army announced a four-day total curfew where anyone seen on the streets would be subject to summary execution. Civil order began to deteriorate. 

Coard was viewed as a very menacing influence in the Caribbean by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and they wanted him removed from power. The (OECS) asked for military help on Oct. 22, 1983. Whether the formal request was drafted in Washington or not is meaningless. The Caribbean nations were not manipulated by the U.S. If any Caribbean nations didn’t want the US to invade, they could have stated their opposition. Since much of the world media has always enjoyed trashing the U.S. over anything, if any Caribbean country opposed the invasion, they would have had instant world wide coverage. 

Zinn and other critics argue that there was no need to rescue the students from Grenada as they were not in danger. This is fanciful, illogical thinking. They are accepting the word of honor of two murderers - Coard and Hudson - who could change their mind at any time they chose, and then it would be too late for a rescue. Coard and Hudson ordered the execution of Bishop and several dozen former government officials.(a) Vivid memories of the Iranian hostage crisis and the aborted hostage rescue attempt were fresh. Ronald Reagan was not about to trust the word of two thugs and hope for the best. Anxious to avoid a similar experience, U.S. policymakers hastily planned to invade Grenada to overthrow the dictatorship of Coard/Hudson and rescue American medical students on Grenada. On Oct. 23, forces from the United States and Caribbean nations massed on Barbados, 150 miles east of Grenada. On October 23, a truck bomb at a US base in Beirut, Lebanon killed over 240 Marines and this increased the urgency of the Reagan administration to get the students out. 

The invasion began early on 25 October 1983 and concluded on 15 Dec. 1983. It was later learned that Grenada's governor-general, Paul Scoon, had requested the invasion through secret diplomatic channels. Scoon was well within his rights to take this action under the reserve powers vested in the Crown.(b) During the fighting, the US suffered from a lack of sufficient intelligence data, which made it difficult to find some of the medical students who needed to be rescued. Documents captured by the US prove Coard/Hudson intended to establish a Communist outpost in the eastern Caribbean and destabilize neighboring countries.(c)

Scoon was rescued by U.S. troops. The eight thousand soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines rescued nearly 600 Americans and 120 foreigners. Austin and Coard were removed and replaced by a government appointed by Governor-General Paul Scoon until elections were held in 1984.

On Mar. 03, 1986, some 40,000 Grenadians waited for the first words from President Reagan and pay tribute to the island's liberator, "Uncle Reagan."(d) The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day. 

In 2004, Paul Scoon said he considered President Reagan to have been one of the greatest American presidents and a great world leader. “I think his men really saved us,” he said.(b)
























Members of the Eastern Caribbean Defense Force land on Grenada.
Governor General Paul Scoon (left) announcing the members of an interim governing council.(b)

p. 589 - “The real reason for the invasion, one high American official told Gwertzman, was that the United States should show (determined to overcome the sense of defeat in Vietnam) that it was a truly powerful nation: "What good are maneuvers and shows of force, if you never use it?"

Comment - And who was this unnamed person? How “high” was this American official? This is just one man’s opinion. Many other high ranking officials disputed this claim which Zinn didn’t bother to quote. There was legitimate reasons to launch the invasion - as noted above.

The Invasion of Panama

p. 594 - “Claiming that it wanted to bring Noriega to trial as a drug trafficker (he had been indicted in Florida on that charge) and also that it needed to protect U.S. citizens (a military man and his wife had been threatened by Panamanian soldiers), the United States invaded Panama in December 1989, with 26,000 troops.”

Comment - More lies by Zinn. Noriega was essentially Panama’s dictator since 1983. He was able to manipulate elections so that the winning presidents would be his puppet leaders. Relations between the US and Noriega had become increasingly tense since 1987. The two years before the US invasion were especially difficult. One of Noriega's principal lieutenants charged the dictator with murder, drug trafficking, and election fraud. Riots broke out in Panama City, and the internal crisis grew worse as the country's economy deteriorated. To deflect rising criticism within Panama, Noriega resorted increasingly to anti-American rhetoric. At his direction, Noriega’s paramilitary units began initiating increasing incidents of harassment against U.S. military personnel in the country - and then CHILDREN of US personnel. 

In October 1987, nine US soldiers were arrested without any cause. They were detained overnight, refused outside contacts, and then released. The frequency and seriousness of these incidents increased soon after two U.S. federal grand juries indicted Noriega on 4 February 1988 for drug trafficking. The Reagan administration responded to the increased tension by sending a company of U.S. Marines and several Military Police units to bolster the forces already in Panama.

In the weeks that followed, additional servicemen were detained and assaulted. In the late hours of 12 April 1988, at a fuel tank farm near Howard Air Force Base, gunfire was exchanged between the U.S. Marine Corps guards and armed intruders. By the end of 1988 there were over 300 incidences of U.S. military personnel and family members' having experienced harassment, threats, or assaults at the hands of the Panamanian military.

The tension continued throughout the following year. In February 1989 Panamanian soldiers detained a Navy civilian employee who was in Colon. They beat him and then threatened to kill him. That same month, the PDF seized an off-duty Navy lieutenant, strip-searched and beat him, and released him nine hours later. 

Two weeks later, an incident occurred that showed how vile Noriega’s henchmen were. Nine Department of Defense (DOD) school buses, loaded with 100 children, were seized for alleged traffic violations. The Fort Clayton provost marshal, assisted by about twenty military police, occupied the buses to prevent the PDF from removing the children or moving the buses to another location. Three hours later one of Noriega's lieutenants abruptly ended the negotiations with the provost marshal and permitted the school buses to return to Fort Clayton. 

During the Panamanian national elections of May 1989, opponents of Noriega, with help from the Roman Catholic Church, out foxed him this time by counting results from the country's election precincts before they were sent to election centers run by Noriega cronies. Their tally showed Guillermo Endara defeating Carlos Duque, Noriega’s candidate by a nearly 3–1 margin and these results were widely broadcast in Panama. Noriega's government insisted that it had won the presidential election and vowed to remain in power.

The next day, Endara’s motorcade was intercepted by a detachment of Noriega's paramilitary troops and he was badly beaten. The United States recognized Endara as the legitimate president of Panama.

On 16 December, 1989, four US military personnel were stopped at a roadblock around 9 PM outside Panamanian Army headquarters in the El Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama City. The four officers had left the Fort Clayton military base and were driving to a popular downtown Panama City restaurant Saturday night when they made a wrong turn and were halted by soldiers at the checkpoint. They were unarmed and in a private vehicle. When the Panamanian troops tried to pull the Americans from their car they attempted to flee. Panamanian Army troops opened fire and killed one of the officers and wounded another.

A US naval officer and his wife witnessed the incident and were subsequently detained by Panamanian Defense Force soldiers. While in police custody, the US naval officer was repeatedly beaten and kicked in the groin and head. He spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from his beating. His wife was repeatedly threatened and then slammed against a wall with such force that her head was cut.

This is why the US invaded Panama. The legal justification was to protect the integrity of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties which gave the Panama Canal to Panama. Noriega threatened the neutrality of the Panama Canal and the U.S. had the right under the treaties to intervene militarily to protect the canal. The US also has a moral obligation to protect its citizens. 


p. 594 - “It was a quick victory. Noriega was captured and brought to Florida to stand trial (where he was subsequently found guilty and sent to prison). But in the invasion, neighborhoods in Panama City were bombarded and hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians were killed. It was estimated that 14,000 were homeless.(1) Writer Mark Hertsgaard noted that even if the official Pentagon figure of several hundred civilian casualties was correct, this meant that in Panama the U.S. had killed as many people as did the Chinese government in its notorious attack on student demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in Beijing six months earlier.(2) A new president friendly to the United States was installed in Panama, but poverty and unemployment remained,(3) and in 1992 the New York Times reported that the invasion and removal of Noriega "failed to stanch the flow of illicit narcotics through Panama."

"The United States, however, succeeded in one of its aims, to reestablish its strong influence over Panama. The Times reported: "The President [of Panama] and his key aides and the American Ambassador, Deane Hinton, have breakfast together once a week in a meeting that many Panamanians view as the place where important decisions are taken."(4)

Comment - 

1. The high casualties usually associated with all-out urban warfare did not occur in Panama. The United States suffered 23 killed and 324 wounded, with estimated enemy casualties around 450. There were an estimated 200 to 300 Panamanian civilian fatalities. Some civilians were killed by Panamanian troops, others inadvertently by US troops. More civilians would certainly have been killed or wounded had it not been for the discipline of American troops and their restrictive rules of engagement. The United Nations (UN) put the civilian death toll at 500. Other organizations that hate the US put out inflated figures. An inquiry by former Attorney - General Ramsey Clark claimed over 4,000. But Ramsey Clark is a fool who will believe anything critical of the US without proof. The most important fact in the aftermath of the invasion is that the invasion did NOT turn the Panamanian people against the US intervention or the nation-building program that followed it. In Human Rights Watch World Report 1989, the organization reported the Panamanian population was generally sympathetic to the US invasion.(A)


The neighborhood that suffered the most damage was the slum of El Chorrillo, mostly wooden shacks destroyed by fire. Some 3,000 residents fled to a sports field under the protection of American troops.(B) Panamanian troops and residents started some of the fires, apparently seeing an opportunity to get a nice new house from the US government once Noriega was captured. About 2,700 families that were displaced by the Chorrillo fire were each given $6,500 by the U.S. to build a new house or apartment.  Had the US bombarded El Chorrillo, there would have been many burned bodies of children or old persons on the nightly news. 

2. For Zinn to compare the deliberate murders of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing six months earlier with the deaths of civilians during the invasion of Panama is asinine. The protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in Communists China were triggered in April 1989 by the death of former Communist Party General Secretary, Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer who opposed nepotism and widespread corruption of the communist party elite. Hu Yaobang was thrown out of office after losing a power struggle with hardliners over the direction of political and economic reforms. University students marched and gathered in Tiananmen Square to mourn and protest. 
The protesters called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers' control over industry.  At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square. Pro democracy demonstrators erected a “Goddess of Democracy” that partially resembled the Statue of Liberty. The 30-foot statue made from Styrofoam and plaster became a symbolic monument to the pro-democracy movement.
The Chinese government condemned the protests as a "counter-revolutionary riot". On June 4, 1989, troops with assault rifles and tanks opened fire on unarmed civilians trying to block the military's advance towards Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing. Tanks crushed the homemade “Statue of Liberty” when troops took the square. Due to the lack of independent observers, the death toll is unknown, but estimates range from several hundred to a few thousand.(C)

It’s obvious Zinn doesn’t understand the moral difference between civilians being killed in the course of defeating an evil government - Noriega and his army - in order to win a war and bring about peace versus an evil government (Communist China)  who deliberately killed unarmed protestors seeking democratic rule. It’s a fact that many civilian deaths were caused by Panamanian troops rather then US troops. Actually, Noriega is morally responsible for all Panamanian civilian deaths as well as the deaths of US troops. Noriega’s actions caused the US invasion.

3. Zinn implies that Endara was a puppet of the US who we put in power. As noted above, Endara won the presidential election in May but Noriega refused to allow him to take office. The invasion did, in fact, restore democracy to Panama and Endara took the oath of office as President of Panama.

4. There is nothing wrong with the President of Panama having dinner with the American Ambassador once a week. It’s called communication. Zinn sees a conspiracy in everything. 
U.S. Army soldiers prepare to take La Comandancia in the El Chorrillo neighborhood of Panama City, in December 1989.

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