I recently went to Honduras with the Michigan National Guard to see what the Guard troops were doing in that country and to inject a critical voice into the entire operation. I went with a strong conviction that what the Reagan administration is doing in Central America is deeply wrong. That conviction was reinforced by my Honduras experience. While the Guard expedition was a simple training mission, it had far more ominous overtones. Sending the National Guard to Honduras accomplishes several objectives, both political and military, for the Reagan administration. First and most obviously, the Guard is preparing (paving the way, literally!) for U.S. troops or U.S. surrogates to invade Nicaragua. Our tax dollars have already built eleven military airstrips and six base camps. We will soon drive another 1,200 peasants off their land by building yet another airstrip and army base. Second, the paving of Honduras, in part by the National Guard, is both cause and effect of a massive military presence designed to bolster the contras, lea ve unaccounted-for materiel, and put pressure on the Nicaraguan govemment. In the last few years, the United States has conducted 46 known military exercises in or off the shore of Honduras. More than 305,000 U.S. personnel along with 590 U.S. warships and 1,250 aircraft have been involved. In addition to putting incredible pressure on the government of tiny Nicaragua, this U.S. presence helps créate a crisis atmosphere in which the administration can promote its war expenditures. Third, U.S. troops in this area tend to "lose" or abandon as useless a large sum of weapons and related materiel. These arms and ammunition wind up in the hands of the contras, but are not included in calculating foreign military aid. Thus, U.S. troops are actively involved in circumventing Congressional control over U.S. foreign and military policy. Finally, Guard involvement providesa direct propaganda conduit between military commanders and our civilian population. After they receive their military briefings and learn of the "great evils" of the Sandinistas, Guard members go back to their communities and report these "f acts" to their relatives and coworkers. This propaganda conduit also provides a sort of "down home, we're in this together" flavor for military operation in Central America, reinforcing the administration's claims that the U.S. is directly threatened by Nicaragua because of its proximity to our own borders. My experience in Honduras reinforced my already strong conviction that what we are doing in the name of freedom and national defense in Nicaragua is deeply misguided, extremely counterproductive, and fundamentally wrong. We have forced the government of Nicaragua into a constant state of military preparedness, a situation in which democracy and personal liberties have never flourished in all of recorded history. We have unnecessarily militarized a nearby portion of the world and have diminished our own security in so doing. Worst of all, we have abandoned the principies of freedom and self-determination which are the moral strength of our society and which should serve as the fundamental guideposts of all U.S. foreign policy decisions. This is why the work being done in Ann Arbor by those who support peace in Central America is so vital. We must take action together to do all that we can to turn around current U.S. policy in Central America - To make it right, and moral, and just. That is why Proposal "A" is so crucial to the nationwide grass-roots movement for peace in this troubled corner of the world. Please vote Yes on Proposal A on Monday, April 7.
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