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ership, both in the House and in the Party. Reeves discusses this issue in a section on the Democratic Party’s identity. He walked the floor of the 1984 Democratic National Convention and found that the party was split between the “old” and the “new.” He talked to delegates and found that there were those who viewed their party as the party of assimilation, the party of immigrants, the party of issues of fairness; and then there were those who, like their leader, Gary Hart, wanted to separate themselves from the unions, who were “culturally liberal, economically conservative.” These are the “neoliberals,” and Reeves makes the point that many of them could switch permanently to the Country Club party unless the Democrats begin to address their needs. Reeves suggests that the Democratic Party, to regain power, must somehow change its image, must cease to appear as the “Party of the Past.” But how? Reeves believes the Democrats should focus on three areas: “a redefining of ‘national interest’ as the keystone of a modern foreign policy. . . ; a persuasive reaffirming of the best of the traditions of American HOW UNFORTUNATE for the Reagan administration that a CIA report rebutting charges of atrocities by the Nicaraguan contras was released just as Christopher Dickey’s book was hitting the bookstores and being reviewed in the press this month. The CIA was able to muster twelve pages to show that the contras had been given, as the President might put it, a “bum rap.” Especially irksome were charges that the rebels our rebels had used knives to slit their prisoners’ throats. Aside from the fact that this was against official contra policy, the CIA stated, the forces were “normally not equipped with either bayonets or combat knives.” This authoritative and penetrating government analysis came to us by way of seven hours of interviews with top contra officials. Meanwhile, Christopher Dickey, who covered Central America for three years as a Washington Post correspondent, tells a story bound populism, even a little bit of class warfare in some of the more exclusive corners of the country; and some creative pioneering on a coming range of issues concerned with the relationship between the work of each American and the productivity of the nation.” On the foreign policy issue Reeves states that, . . there is a common sense in maintaining a certain distance from peoples and situations beyond comprehension, be they French revolutionaries or Shiite Muslims.” His position is clear on the subject of populism, too. The issue is simply one of Who Pays. Reeves asks, “Are you with the frustrated farmers and workingmen who shouted for ‘progressive’ taxation back in the 1890s to make the rich and the banks and the corporations pay their share a greater share for those getting bigger shares of the national wealth? Or are you with Ronald Reagan and his friends who consider almost any redistribution of wealth as the beginning of something like the Russian Revolution.” It’s an attractive thought that the best and worst of us vote for ideas, not for people. But if so, why didn’t we go the limit for the Republicans in Washington and on the state and local to displease the CIA, right down to new allegations of knife use in the jungle “heavy-bladed knives,” as Dickey would have it, “that [had] replaced machetes in the soldiers’ belts” because of United States funding. WITH THE CONTRAS: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua By Christopher Dickey Simon and Schuster, 1986 327 pages, $18.95 With the Contras is a remarkable account of a shadowy war. The book has already been faulted by a conservative reviewer in the Wall Street Journal because the title and subtitle overpromise; indeed, Dickey only spent six days “in the wilds of Nicaragua” traveling with the contras. No doubt friends of the Reagan administration will try to dismiss most of Dickey’s reportage, as did the Wall Street Journal levels? Why have the voters forced a Democratic house on a Republican President? I suspect that the President won re-election partly because he convinced the majority of the voters that they would have more money to spend if they went with him and the nation “voted its pocketbook.” Also, as Reeves points out, Reagan stressed the “old values of God, nationalism and family.” That usually plays well, and Reagan seems unusually sincere. There are no genuinely “new” ideas in Reaganism the President simply wants to cut domestic spending and beef up the military, and he doesh’t want his friends to pay any of the costs. The reasons for the Republican Party’s success are complex, and The Reagan Detour is a thoughtful and perceptive analysis of much that went wrong for the Democrats and right for the Republicans in 1980 and 1984. I think Richard Reeves lends an undeserved dignity to the Republican Party when he says that they won the Presidency on the basis of their ideas, but he offers valuable suggestions to help the Democratic Party cut the Reagan detour short and get the country back on the road of American liberalism again. reviewer, with the horrified complaint that he reports on events at which he was not present. But this is one thing that makes Dickey’s book an achievement. How does one report on a covert war if not by reconstructing events based on testimony of inside sources and former participants? Dickey’s narrative is well-constructed and his writing is polished. This is no compendium of allegations and countercharges; it is the story of the guerrillas we’ve heard about as “freedom fighters,” and the war we’ve been told is a noble struggle for democracy. It starts with the escape in 1979 of a boatfull of soldiers from the overthrown dictator Anastasio Somoza’s National Guard. It follows a band of guerrillas led by a man known as “Suicida,” as they reorganize in Guatemala and Honduras, trying to prove themselves “if not as leaders, then as killers.” At that time 1980 Suicida’s men numbered as few as six or eight, as many as twenty. But 1980 was also the year America elected a new President, one committed to fighting communism in the Third World. By December of 1981, William Casey, the director of the CIA, was telling Congressional intelligence committees that the President had decided on a major covert plan of action for Central America. CIA specialists Weapons were shipped. The Sandinistas Carte Blanche for Killing By Dave Denison 18 FEBRUARY 21, 1986