MAKING THE LEAP

Posted in No Politics Friday on November 9th, 2007 by Ed

Happy No Politics Friday ™!

So hopefully you'll get as big of a kick out of this as I did. In the 1980s, when America was still in the throes of its "support brutal autocrats as long as they oppose (democratically elected) Marxists" phase, our aid to Nicaraguan Contras took many forms. You're probably familiar with the more salacious aspects of our covert involvement (and somehow Ollie is still wringing a career out of that one big break) but we also tried to make subversives out of ordinary Nicaraguans. Enter the CIA-produced leaflet "Freedom Fighter's Manual." Illustrated in a child-like cartoon style, the pamphlet urges ordinary people to topple the Communist oppressors from within through subversive activities like "Dropping typewriters," calling in fake sick days, and making phony hotel reservations. If fake sick days could bring a government to its knees, I would have reduced America to anarchy and a barter economy when I was working in collections.

The best part is how slowly the pamphlet unfolds (pun intended). It starts the reader out with puerile, college dorm style pranks. Then it moves on to damaging property (and a particular obsession with puncturing tires). By the final page they're illustrating how to make a Molotov Cocktail, which the reader is instructed to throw into a Police station. That Cold War-era CIA, you've gotta hand it to them. They had tremendous faith in the intellectual abilities of those they tried to brainwash and use. To expect people to make the leap from phony sick days to killing cops in 15 comic book pages is pretty amazing. They also had faith that the citizenry would somehow forget these skills once the Dictator-of-the-Month was back in power.

Then again, that would imply that they thought ahead to the future ramifications of their actions. Snicker.

(Incidentally, and not to creep anyone out here, but that is a terrible way to make a Molotov Cocktail and it stands an excellent chance of setting its user on fire. The rag only gets stuffed into the bottle opening in A) movies and B) CIA manuals. The proper technique involves a sealed container to preclude the possibility of pre-ignition with a robust ignition source like storm matches or a powder wick taped to the bottle. Just sayin'.)