Thursday, January 12, 2006



"Contra Cross: Insurgency and Tyranny in Central America, 1979-1989" is a new book by William R. Meara. It is published by Naval Institute Press.

You can order the book here: http://www.usni.org/webstore/shopexd.asp?id=48862


“A boots-in-the-mud personal memoir from the battlefields of El Salvador’s Marxist revolution and Nicaragua’s Contra War, Contra Cross is also an eerily timely admonition of the challenges and pitfalls of today’s ‘transformational’ efforts to democratize the world. It is a warning that victory will require both a very long-term commitment of major national resources and some serious attitude adjustments by us, beginning with our military and diplomatic corps.” -- Dr. Timothy C. Brown, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, author of The Real Contra War

Why does the United States have such difficulty dealing with insurgency?

A look back at the Central American wars of the 1980s sheds light on the problem. Contra Cross presents one young American officer’s journey through Central America’s violent decade of revolution and counterrevolution. Bill Meara started out as a teacher at a Catholic school in Guatemala, but he went on to become one of fifty-five U.S. military advisers assisting the Salvadorans in their fight against communism. By the end of the decade, he was in the U.S. Foreign Service working as a liaison officer to the Nicaraguan contras. Meara was one of very few Americans to work on both sides of insurgency in the region: in El Salvador he supported efforts to defeat insurgents; with Nicaraguans he worked to keep an insurgency alive.
Contra Cross takes readers into the world of an American adviser struggling with cultural differences and human rights violations while trying to stay alive in murderous El Salvador. We join Meara on dangerous helicopter rides into contra base camps on the Honduran-Nicaraguan border, and learn what it’s like to be in a U.S. embassy under attack. From Special Forces school at Ft. Bragg, to lunch with Communist defectors in El Salvador, to a contra POW camp deep in the jungle, we get a taste of life on the cutting edge of America’s controversial Central America policy.

More than a collection of war stories, Contra Cross explores the difficult moral and ideological issues of the Central American wars. Meara’s experiences with insurgency and counterinsurgency allow him to provide critically important insights on why the United States has such difficulty dealing with ragtag armies of third-world rebels.

“Dead-on accurate, readable, and honest, this book will give no comfort to those gringo politicians still mourning the communist failures in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Bill Meara is someone who has the insurgency-counterinsurgency era in Central America nailed.”
-- Col. John Waghelstein, USA (Ret.), Naval War College, former commander of U.S. Military Group – El Salvador and of the 7th Special Forces Group

"Contra Cross is not only a refreshing and an uplifting change from most war memoirs, it is also punctuated with the beautifully written highs and lows of everyday life. Meara studiously avoids both personal aggrandizement and being an apologist for American politicians. His clear and uncommon common sense is refreshing and does much more: It adds weight to his observations both as a Green Beret--trained officer and a U.S. State Department foreign service officer. For the military historian as well as anyone seeking a deeper understanding of how American overseas assistance worked, this book is a must. The fact that the writing reflects intelligence, candor, and fairness to all sides is a terrific bonus.”
-- Loyd Little, former Green Beret
author of the award-winning Vietnam novel Parthian Shot


William R. Meara served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1988, attaining the rank of captain, and then joined the U.S. Foreign Service where he has served as a diplomat in Honduras, Spain, the Dominican Republic, the Azores, and the United Kingdom.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Joseph Meissner said...

We are the PSYOP Association. We have received info about your book. Please contact us. I am the Editor of the PSYOP Journal PERPSPECTIVES which comes out bimonthly, and of FRONTPOST which is the daily PSYOP Email letter distributed worlwide. Your book looks very interesting and worthwhile. Take care.

Joseph Meissner
email address

meissnerjoseph@hotmail.com

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Max Singer said...

I've just been reading your book "Contra Cross" and I think you have a lot of things right. I spent some time both in ES and flew into Yamales, once, with Enrique Bermudez and had exactly the same impression of the Contras as you. The first real peasant revolution of the century and our "revolutionaries" in the universities missed it.
However in your discussion of ES I'm not sure you gave sufficient weight to the ESAF revolution made by Gutierrez, Garcia, and their colleagues. We were supporting genuine revolutionaries; the FMLN was a counter-revolutionary force. I wrote about what happened in the Salvadoran officer corps in testimony to Congress, and I think some articles. This is something our State Dept did not understand and we never used it effectively in our psyops.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Author said...

Max: Thanks for the comment. I don't often hear from people who have actually been to Yamales! What (if I can ask) brought you there?
Also, I'm interested in where you came across or heard about the book.
On ES, when I was there, I didn't have the sense that the country was going through anykind of revolution. There had been a big shift away from military dictatorship, and they were making slow progress toward democracy, but I wouldn't have called any of ot revolutionary.
Thanks again, Bill

5:46 AM  
Blogger Art said...

Contra Cross is unique among personal memories of former soldiers, government officials, diplomats, and intelligence officers. He is humble. The author had a front row seat at the numerous Central American proxy wars the United States engaged in during the 1980s. Despite this experience, the author never believed he was as important as the events around him, a trait that so many memories lack. He was a Cold War grunt and he knew it.

The numerous insurgencies and counter-insurgencies fought in Central America are slowly being forgotten in U.S. history. Located between the large and divisive Vietnam War and the even larger Global War on Terror, the proxy wars in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador are now seen as the last gaps of the Cold War. Despite this hindsight, during the 1980s it was were the action was.

Since the author was always involved at the ground level, he is able to give the people of the area a real human feel, which is lost in the Cold War rhetoric of policy makers from Washington.

The author makes several outstanding points about the need for cultural and language skills when dealing with local conflicts. While our current conflict is called the Global War on Terror it is the really combination of thousands of local conflicts tied together. Having the deep local cultural knowledge is the real key to winning our current war. While the book is far from being the seminal book on U.S. involvement in Central America, it really never tries or claims to be. Its true strength is how dedicated Americans, whether military or Department of State attempt to implement strategic policy made thousands of miles away in Washington into actual action on the ground amongst real people.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Art said...

Great book. I work as an analyst for DoD. Made first trip to Central America last fall. Below is a copy of my review I wrote for Amazon.Com

Contra Cross is unique among personal memories of former soldiers, government officials, diplomats, and intelligence officers. He is humble. The author had a front row seat at the numerous Central American proxy wars the United States engaged in during the 1980s. Despite this experience, the author never believed he was as important as the events around him, a trait that so many memories lack. He was a Cold War grunt and he knew it.

The numerous insurgencies and counter-insurgencies fought in Central America are slowly being forgotten in U.S. history. Located between the large and divisive Vietnam War and the even larger Global War on Terror, the proxy wars in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador are now seen as the last gaps of the Cold War. Despite this hindsight, during the 1980s it was were the action was.

Since the author was always involved at the ground level, he is able to give the people of the area a real human feel, which is lost in the Cold War rhetoric of policy makers from Washington.

The author makes several outstanding points about the need for cultural and language skills when dealing with local conflicts. While our current conflict is called the Global War on Terror it is the really combination of thousands of local conflicts tied together. Having the deep local cultural knowledge is the real key to winning our current war. While the book is far from being the seminal book on U.S. involvement in Central America, it really never tries or claims to be. Its true strength is how dedicated Americans, whether military or Department of State attempt to implement strategic policy made thousands of miles away in Washington into actual action on the ground amongst real people.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

am looking forward to reading this book, haveing spent much time from 1985-the first free elections side by side with the contra, they wer my freinds my borthers and my chamblians

6:12 AM  
Blogger NavyChaps said...

Sir,

I am interested in your book, but thought I might ask you a few questions before I order it. Does your book address the role religion played in furthering the insurgency? Does your book address how religion might have been used to an advantage against the insurgency, or as an aid in strengthening friendly relationships? tcook@digitalcooks.com

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir,
I just finished reading your book Contra Cross and I found it as a great piece of work. I'm currently serving in Honduras and I have worked in many of the areas that you mention to include "PL". I think that this book should be required reading for those of us who are assigned to work in CENTAM. Thank you for sheding a new light in my world and helping me gain a new perspective in the reasons behind my work.

4:59 AM  
Blogger m931a2 said...

Bill, I'm stationed in Honduras and have your book here in front of me. I am trying to make the bullet cross that you have on the cover. Do you have any info on it? I have made a few so far that are close but I'm trying to duplicate the look that you have. Do you know what tools where used? From that I can figure out the rest.

The guys that have read your book like it alot.

Thanks,
Mark

5:46 PM  
Blogger Steve Finnell said...

PRACTICING SIN? BY STEVE FINNELL

Practicing playing a piano makes for a better piano player. Practicing basketball will lead to becoming a more accomplished player. Practicing most things is a good thing. Practicing sin leads to forfeiting entrance to the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. )NKJV)

The clear message is that Christians were washed clean from sin and that they need to stop practicing sin.

If you are a Christian or not a Christian you need to stop practicing sin. How much practice is necessary to be a competent sinner?

Non Christians need to have their sins washed away. How? By Faith: John 3:16 Repentance: Acts 2:38 Confession: Romans 10:9 Water Immersion: Acts 2:38. Then, they need to stop practicing sin.

DO CHRISTIANS SIN? YES.

1 John 1:7-10 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from sin. 8 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him liar, and His word is not in us. (NKJV)

Being a Christian, who on occasion, sins is not the same as continuing to practice sin. God says those who practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God.

IF YOU CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SIN YOU WILL EXCEL AT SINNING. THAT IS NOT A DESIRED RESULT.


YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

10:25 AM  

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