Elliot Abrams is one of the darkest figures ever to walk the stage of US foreign policy. As adviser to three presidents – Reagan and the two Bush’s – Abrams brought a swashbuckling version of neoconservative intervention to South and Central America and to the Middle East, inter alia helping the dictators ruling Guatemala and El Salvador deflect criticism of vast human rights abuses – including massacres of opponents – and conspiring with Israel and Iran to finance right-wing rebels in Nicaragua.
He was convicted of lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra affair but was spared jail time when President George H W Bush pardoned him.
George H W Bush’s son, George W Bush appointed Abrams as a special assistant in 2001, in which capacity Abrams left his neocon mark on the Irish peace process.
The Bush White House’s first special advisor to the peace process was former academic and State Dept official Mitchell Reiss who was known for his tough approach to the Provos, at one point curtailing Gerry Adams’ ability to raise funds in the US for Sinn Fein until and unless the IRA decommissioned fully and recognised the PSNI.
But not tough enough for Abrams. When Reiss finally relented and, following Sinn Fein’s acceptance in January 2007 of the new police arrangements, withdrew sanctions against Adams, Abrams got Reiss sacked, apparently telling colleagues that the Sinn Fein leader should never be treated as a normal politician.
Reiss was replaced by career diplomat Paula Dobrianski, whose Ukrainian-born father was a renowned anti-Communist activist in the 1950’s.
Now that Donald Trump has brought Abrams out of retirement and given him the job of overseeing the opposition to the Maduro government in Venezuela – arranging the anticipated coup, in other words – Sinn Fein can expect an even cooler reception at the White House.
Below is a profile of Abrams produced by the estimable Real News Network: