I'm not sure what the controversy is, either in the accuracy of D'Escoto's assertion, or the supposedly urgent nature of his selection. It would be practically impossible -- intellectually dishonest at the very least -- to look at systematic US meddling in Central America since the days of William Walker and realize that it has been catastrophically brutal for the majority of the inhabitants there. What exactly does Brinkley think someone from that region who was not lucky enough to come from one of the oligarchic families that run those countries should say?
Brinkley ends his column ominously:
Sure, and it will be taken about as seriously as the japes of Ortega's buddy Hugo Chàvez. So what? Again, whatever the level of the Sandinistas' corruption, it doesn't remotely approach the violent kleptocracy of the Somozas or even the crude burglar Alemán. That certainly doesn't excuse the self-serving hypocrisy of autocrats such as Ortega and Chàvez, but it's fundamentally dishonest to completely decontextualize the situation the way Brinkley (and, to be fair, most American commentators on the region) has done here.
If D'Escoto wishes to be serious and comprehensive in his critiques of US policy, people will listen; if he decides to act like a buffoon and call Bush a dickhead or a devil, he'll just get an easy laugh. But the idea that we can't tolerate or discuss any grievance, no matter how legitimate, is ridiculous.
Johann Hari places things much more in their overall context:
What cheap criticisms and reflexive cries of "anti-Americanism" do is keep the discussion at the surface level, the better to muddle the substantial sociopolitical issues that might inform the antipathy of this or that individual. I mean, none of this destructive interference is a closely guarded secret; it's been going on for generations, to the point where, as Hari points out, phrases like "banana republic" become an uninformed cliché. But it means a bit more to the people who have had to endure the brunt of those policies.
The notion that we (or anyone) should be automatically inoculated from all dissent, that people are not only supposed to just forget decades of systematic expropriation and murder, but are also expected to put our interests before their own, is not automatically bad. It just displays a profound failure to understand human nature.