Forty years since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

A genocidal war that lead to the creation of Al Qaeda

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, which led to a brutal neocolonialist war and the creation of Al Qaeda.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan on December 24 1979 in defence of a fledgling satellite regime in Kabul. After the 1978 pro-Soviet coup, a disastrous land reform programme and secular modernisation measures drew mass opposition from the traditional Muslim countryside. The ensuing decade of repression spelt the death and disappearance of 50-100,000 people. Villagers would often be massacred outright, while 000s more were tortured and executed by the communist regime1.

On July 3 1979, US President Jimmy Carter authorised the CIA to provide $500,000 to the Mujahideen (as the armed resistance to the regime was known). Though the intelligence consensus was that Moscow would not intervene even if the regime collapsed, national security advisor Zbniew Brzezinski advised Carter that in his estimation this fund “was going to induce a Soviet military intervention”2. Sure enough, six months after Carter’s decision, the Soviets invaded.

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Brzezinski (left) and President Carter (right)

The next ten years spelt genocide for the Afghan people: the Red Army and its proxies subjected entire provinces to depopulation programmes. In 1987, a Fallujah-type campaign in Kandahar reduced the city’s population by 87.5%. Indiscriminate bombing of the population, including the use of chemical weapons, was designed to neutralise and isolate popular support for the resistance3. By the war’s end, 1-2 million Afghan civilians had perished.

Operation Cyclone

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President Reagan with Mujahideen leaders in the White House

The biggest covert operation since the Second World War, the CIA’s Operation Cyclone armed, trained and funded the Mujahideen with the assistance of the Gulf states and the British and Pakistani intelligence services4. At the border with Pakistan, to whose pursuit of nuclear weapons the White House turned a blind eye, Brzezinski rallied the Mujahideen: “…your cause is right”, he told them, “and God is on your side”. A similar performance was given by Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, while Carter’s successor Ronald Reagan personally welcomed Mujahideen leaders to the White House for a photo-op. They were, he said, “the moral equivalents of our founding fathers”.

The most enduring Cyclone myth is that, like many a later foe of the United States, Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was directly supported by the CIA. In fact Cyclone only involved the 250,000-odd Mujahideen, not the 2000-odd non-Afghan volunteers, known as the Afghan Arabs, from across the Muslim world4.

Nonetheless, had the Russians not invaded, there’d have been no Afghan Arabs, and hence no bin Laden. And Carter’s fund, to quote Brzezinski, “knowingly increased the probability that they (Russians) would invade (Afghanistan)”2.

Blowback’

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Lower Manhattan on September 11 2001

When asked in 1997 if he regretted the blowback of global jihadism from Carter’s original 0.5m dollar fund for the Mujahideen, Brzezinski replied: “Regret what? That…was a great idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap, and you want me to regret it?…What’s more important to world history: a few stirred up Moslems, or the collapse of communism?”2. Three years later, Al Qaeda struck the twin towers.

The Afghan people have since endured another brutal foreign occupation, this time by the Western imperialists. And like so many former invaders of the ‘graveyard of empires’, the combined might of the world’s most powerful armies have yet to subdue this proud nation.

Citations

1. UN Conflict Mapping Report 1978-2005 as cited by https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/death-list-published-families-of-disappeared-end-a-30-year-wait-for-news/

2. Bruce Riedel; William Blum

3.

4. See Steve Coll, “Ghost Wars”; 911myths.com; for Britain’s role, see Mark Curtis, “Secret Affairs”

Top Five Worst US-Supported Dictators

With friends like these, who needs democracy?

1. Suharto

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Between 1965-6, Indonesian dictator Suharto carried out mass anti-“communist”pogroms that cost over a million Indonesian lives, mostly landless peasants. The CIA had a ‘kill list’ of some 5000 PKR leaders, ticking off their names as they were murdered. The American press welcomed what had happened. While accurately describing the horrific slaughter, Time Magazine insisted that it was “the West’s best news for years in Asia”. The New York Times called the bloodbath “a gleam of light in Asia”.

With Suharto’s nationalist predecessor Sukarno finally out of the way, capitalism was restored to the former Dutch colony: Western corporations and the IMF & World Bank swept in, literally redesigning Indonesia’s economy at a conference held in Switzerland.

In 1975, US President Ford gave a green light for Suharto to invade the small neighbour of East Timor. By the occupation’s end in 1999, 25-33% (125,000-200,000) of Timorese had been extinguished under the genocidal military occupation. When the Indonesians started running out of arms in 1978, the Carter administration began an annual $200 million arms flow to Suharto. In the 1980s, Reagan escalated the arms sales. Four years after the 1991 Dili massacre, Clinton proposed the sale of twenty F-15s to “our kind of guy” Suharto, continuing his predecessor Bush I’s illegal training of Indonesia’s Red Berets, behind some of the worst Timor atrocities.

2. Saddam Hussein

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Originally a Soviet client, Saddam Hussein was courted by the West following his aggression against post-revolutionary Iran in 1979, leading to a ten-year conflict that killed 1m+ on both sides. Hussein was armed to the teeth by the US, Britain, France and other Western countries.

His WMD components came from American, British and German firms. When 20,000 Kurds were gassed to death by Iraqi forces at Halabja, US President Reagan blamed the Iranians. When the Kurds rose up against Saddam following the Gulf War, Washington supported the tyrant again, reasoning that there was no opposition to replace him that “the free world” favoured.

At the height of friendly Iraq-US relations, Hussein wiped out 300,000 people in the Al-Anfal campaign. In addition to bogus WMDs, this was used to justify the 2003 invasion, long after the campaign had finished.

3. Shah of Iran

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Installed by a 1953 CIA coup that ousted Iran’s secular democratic government after it threatened to nationalise the country’s oil in accordance with popular aspirations, Pahveli ran a corrupt family dynasty while his CIA/Mossad-trained “SAVAK” police ran torture chambers and death squads. By 1975, Amnesty International described Iran as having “the highest rate of death penalties in the world…and a history of torture which is beyond belief”.

His opponents were sodomised by cattle prods and made to sit on hot grills, or in the electric chair; others were raped, pissed on, had their nails torn out, and subjected to near-drownings and mock executions. In 1979, US President Jimmy “human rights” Carter praised the Shah for transforming Iran into “an island of stability”. Months later, he was overthrow by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

4. Rios Montt

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After seizing power in Guatemala through a military coup in March 1982, the Christian televangelist launched a savage counterinsurgency campaign that soon became wholesale genocide of tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans in the northwest highlands.

Five months into the slaughter, US President Ronald Reagan warmly greeted Montt and praised him as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment”, while decrying the “bum rap” he was receiving from Amnesty International and other human rights groups reporting his massacres. Reagan’s spin doctor Elliot Abrams, currently Trump’s coup manager for Venezuela, rationalised and whitewashed this Indian holocaust.

In 2013, Montt was finally tried for crimes against humanity and genocide.

5. Batista

imageAfter presiding over 20,000 deaths, the US-backed thug was overthrown by Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959. During his brutal reign, Cuba became a playground for the American mafia while 40% of the economy was controlled by U.S. corporations. Castro’s reversal of this colonial relationship by nationalising US assets led to Cuba’s seemingly endless punishment by Uncle Sam.

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The Untold History of Terrorism against Cuba

Check out my ebook ‘Eurasian Tinderbox: The U.S. Buildup against Russia and China’

In the decades following the July 1959 revolution, Cuba faced a murderous terrorist campaign waged from Miami and South Florida by its exiled elite. Granted a free hand by successive U.S. administrations, it was responsible for the death and injury of almost 5,600 innocent civilians1. In a familiar case of blowback, the groups responsible were largely drawn from veterans of the CIA-trained Bay of Pigs fiasco.

From the very beginning in 1959, most of the exile operations were being waged under CIA and White House auspices via southern Florida and other bases in the Caribbean1. CIA agent David Atlee Philips aka Maurice Bishop, who co-ran the 1953 Guatemala coup, arranged the founding of Alpha 66 and guided its activities, which included the shoot-up of fourteen wood-homes in Boca de Sama village in 1971 (killing 2 and injuring 8, while damaging the local kids’ school)2 and . By 1973 the organisation had become a liability and was dropped by the CIA2, but its attacks against Cuba continued as Washington let them operate freely from bases in Miami and Florida.

Similar groups such as Omega 7, perhaps the most lethal of all in terms of bombings and assassinations both in Cuba and the U.S., were also given a free hand. This included the introduction of various biological agents into Cuba during the early 80s, including a Dengue-2 epidemic between June and November 1981 that afflicted 300,000+ victims across the island and killed over a hundred children2.

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Orlando Bosch (left) and Luis Carriles Posada (right)

The most notorious Cuban terrorists, Luis Carriles Posada and Orlando Bosch, arranged the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, murdering all 73 people onboard. Files declassified in 1978 showed how the CIA directed Posada’s activities between the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. According to far more sensitive records, the Agency directed Posada to “establish a training camp for guerrilla ops against Castro”4. “The CIA taught us everything”, Posada said. “…explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage”4.

By 1976, Posada had become a liability and the CIA dropped him3. But despite being informed of his involvement in the 1997 hotel/restaurant bombings, U.S. law enforcement took no action against the notorious mass murderer5. He was done briefly for lying to immigration agents, while the Bush II Administration refused to extradite him to Cuba and Venezuela for fear that they would be tortured. He died peacefully on May 23 2018.

Operation Mongoose: “the terrors of the earth”image.png
Robert Kennedy: “No time, no money, effort or manpower is to be spared”

Kennedy’s botched invasion of Cuba (‘the Bay of Pigs’) was an international embarrassment for the US. As an internal source recounts, Kennedy had indicated to his brother Robert that “the final chapter had not been written – it’s got to be done and will be done”6. To quote Noam Chomsky:

At the first cabinet meeting after the failed invasion, the atmosphere was “almost savage,” Chester Bowles noted privately: “there was an almost frantic reaction for an action program.” At an NSC meeting two days later, Bowles found the atmosphere “almost as emotional” and was struck by “the great lack of moral integrity” that prevailed. The mood was reflected in Kennedy’s public pronouncements: “The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong . . . can possibly survive,” he told the country…Kennedy was aware that allies “think that we’re slightly demented” on the subject of Cuba, a perception that persists to the present.

To lubricate the island for a second invasion (ultimately aborted by the presence of Soviet nukes on the otherwise defenceless island), he approved Operation Mongoose, an RFK-run and U.S. Army-trained1 sabotage campaign against Cuban ships, fishing boats, sugar mills, power plants, petrochemical facilities, oil refineries, warehouses, urban transportation and department stores: in a nutshell, “sabotage and more sabotage, place bombs, create fear, and carry out terrorist plans, so that agitation will engulf the country and the government will have to carry out a violent repression with much bloodshed which they can then use in their propaganda throughout Latin America”6.

Theoretically the world’s biggest terror operation (at least until Reagan’s terror policy in Central America), this elaborate campaign proved deadly: on March 13 1961, a CIA gunboat attacked an oil refinery in Santiago de Cuba, killing 27-year-old Rene Rodriguez Hernandez and seriously injuring 19-year-old Roberto Ramon Castro. A further 50+ people died when the CIA bombed the Citorro chemical plant on April 27 1962. Four months later, US planes escorted a group of armed vessels in their deadly assault on the Chaplin Theatre and a selection of homes in the Miramar neighbourhood of Havana4.

The 1963 proposals included the “placing of incendiary devices and/or explosives with suitable time delay within the hull or cargo to disable or to sink Cuban vessels and/or damage their cargos while at sea” and “introducing abrasive or other damaging materials into the propulsion, communication and other systems of the ship to inactivate the ship”7.

In September of that year, the U.S. Army Department confirmed a successful demolition beneath La Isabela harbour. Mongoose agent Bradley Ayers recounts the operation:

The single-track line [of the railway bridge] carried large amounts of freight and produce between the inland city of Sagua la Grande and the port of Isabela. It was one of the key supply lines in the central part of the Communist island. The commando force was to blow up the bridge and destroy telephone and telegraph lines running adjacent to the tracks6.

[I trained commando units] to infiltrate Cuba, reach human targets, and assassinate them. Anyone in a senior position in government was fair game, and it reached down to the provincial heads, police chiefs and so on…[Robert] Kennedy was aware of what we were doing down there. It wasn’t a case of the Agency mounting these assassination operations without the knowledge of the Special Group…RFK had a hands-on kind of control of the operations7.

Two months after the La Isabela attack, the CIA confirmed the bombing of a power plant, sawmill and multiple oil storage facilities, while announcing further scheduled attacks “against a large oil refinery and storage facilities, a large electric plant, sugar refineries, railroad bridges, harbor facilities, and underwater demolition of docks and ships*”.

“Remember the Maine”

The sheer number of CIA plots to assassinate Castro are alone extraordinary: 638 by a former Cuban intelligence officer’s account3. They even plotted to bomb/poison him on American soil, namely his New York visit in 1961. To quote Fabian Escalante6:

The head of the so-called Cuban Revolutionary Council, Jose milo Cardona, met with President Kennedy in the White House [in April 1962]. After the meeting Miro Cardona declared that Castro’s days were numbered. At the same time William Harvey, head of the CIA’s “executive action” group, was reactivating the plans with the Mafia and Tony Varona to assassinate Fidel Castro.

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1961: Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro delivers historic speech at the United Nations

Inside jobs hardly stopped there: the latest files released in 2016 reveal a CIA scheme to stage a false-flag terror campaign in Miami in order to legitimate the full-scale invasion of Cuba, echoing the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s notorious Operation Northwoods plan to blow up an American ship in Guantanamo Bay so as to provide “a ‘Remember the Maine’ incident”, or to stage “a Communist Cuban terror campaign [in Florida] and even in Washington”.

The Threat of Castroism

While rejected by a flabbergasted White House, such plans reflected Washington’s obsession with Cuba for defying the Monroe Doctrine. To quote Noam Chomsky:

From the timing alone, it is clear that concern over a Russian threat could not have been a major factor. The plans for forceful regime change were drawn up and implemented before there was any significant Russian connection, and punishment was intensified after the Russians disappeared from the scene. True, a Russian threat did develop, but that was more a consequence than a cause of US terrorism and economic warfare.

In July 1961 the CIA warned that “the extensive influence of ‘Castroism’ is not a function of Cuban power. . . . Castro’s shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change,” for which Castro’s Cuba provided a model. Earlier, Arthur Schlesinger had transmitted to the incoming President Kennedy his Latin American Mission report, which warned of the susceptibility of Latin Americans to “the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands.” The report did identify a Kremlin connection: the Soviet Union “hovers in the wings, flourishing large development loans and presenting itself as the model for achieving modernization in a single generation.” The dangers of the “Castro idea” are particularly grave, Schlesinger later elaborated, when “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes” and “the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” Kennedy feared that Russian aid might make Cuba a “showcase” for development, giving the Soviets the upper hand throughout Latin America.

In early 1964, the State Department Policy Planning Council expanded on these concerns: “The primary danger we face in Castro is . . . in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries. . . . The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half.” To put it simply, Thomas Paterson writes, “Cuba, as symbol and reality, challenged U.S. hegemony in Latin America.”

*On December 23 1963, CIA commandos sank the Revolutionary Navy’s LT-385 torpedo boat in Siguanea dock on the Isle of Pines, killing four crewmen.

Notes

1. Bradley Earl Ayers, The War That Never Was (Major Books: Canoga Park, California), pages 30 and 39
2. Keith Bolender, Stories From Th
e Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba (Pluto Press 2010); this is the most comprehensive account to date of this unknown history; to hear a presentation by Bolender and Noam Chomsky, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_AaFN5FHc8.
3. See http://www.jfk-online.com/daphscavec.html
4. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/13/world/bomber-s-tale-decades-intrigue-life-shadows-trying-bring-down-castro.html; according to his Cuban criminal record published in Granma (the official Cuban Communist Party newspaper), he enlisted in Bay of Pigs and, in July 1963 at Fort Benning, received training in demolition, propaganda and intelligence.
5. Bardach and Rohter, “Authorities Knew of Bombing Campaign, Says Cuban Exile”, New York Times 12/07/98
6. https://archive.org/details/FabianEscalanteSecretWarCubaCIA/page/n1
; ibid. Bolender
7. ibid. Ayers as quoted in https://nacla.org/news/2016/12/16/cost-covert-operations-cuba

The Long War on Central America

The story behind America’s immigration issues today

…150 Contras attacked two villages in the southern province of Rio San Juan with 88-mm mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, killing six children and six adults and injuring 30 others. Even cooperatives of religious pacifists who refused to bear arms were destroyed… In El Salvador too, the army attacks cooperatives, killing, raping and abducting members[1].

These were the killing fields of Central America. Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan administration armed, trained and funded terrorist death squads worthy of ISIS:

Many top Salvadoran, Honduran and Guatemalan army officers were trained at the School of the Americas in Panama, and then after 1984, Fort Benning in Georgia… The 15,000-men contra army – employing kidnapping, torture, rape and murder – targeted health clinics, schools, agricultural cooperatives, bridges and power stations (i.e. State Department-authorised ‘soft targets’[1]).

…Similar atrocities occurred in neighbouring El Salvador, where US-trained troops stabbed, decapitated, raped and machine-gunned 767 civilians in the village of El Mozote in late 1981, including 358 children under age thirteen. Congress ended up funding almost $6 billion to this tiny country, making it the largest recipient of US foreign aid per capita in the world. Wealthy landlords were running the right-wing death squads and murdered thousands of suspected leftists. The death toll from the war reached 70,000[2].

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The contras: America’s terrorists

In 1988, an Amnesty report accused Reagan’s El Salvadoran death squads of “killing and mutilating victims in the most macabre way…[bodies] mutilated, decapitated, dismembered, strangled or showing marks of torture…or rape”. Women were publicly hung from trees by their hair, their breasts cut off and faces painted red.

Two years earlier, the US had dismissed a World Court ruling against its “unlawful use of force” against Nicaragua, quickly vetoing a pair of subsequent UN resolutions to the same effect and providing an extra $100m in military aid to the contras in 1987[1].

Of the 20-30,000 civilians who ultimately perished in the Nicaraguan conflict, the contras were responsible for the vast majority[2]. Among the victims were six Jesuit intellectuals and archbishop Oscar Romero, “the voice of the voiceless” whose radical liberation theology favoured the empowerment of the poor: a threat to US finance capital.

The US war on Central America began long before Reagan. In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine asserting America’s divine right to singularly control the hemisphere. The first to challenge this was Augusto Sandino’s poorly-armed guerrilla insurgency against the US invasion of Nicaragua, launched in 1912 to defend its conservative puppet Adolfo Diaz against a Liberal revolt, secure US monopoly over canal construction and open the country up to international banking[3].

Sandino favoured the unification of all of Central America. “Nicaragua shall not be the patrimony of Imperialists”, he proudly declared. “I will fight for my cause as long as my heart beats”.

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Anastasio Somoza (left) and Augusto Sandino (right)

The outbreak of the Great Depression forced the US to withdraw its troops from Nicaragua in 1933 but, the following year, head of the US-commanded National Guard Anastasio Somoza ordered Sandino’s assassination and seized power in an eventual coup d’état.

For the next 44 years, Somoza ran a mafia-like dynasty that controlled whole swathes of industry and almost half the country’s arable land. Somoza’s opponents were often dumped alive into a live volcano from his US-supplied helicopters. The Carter administration sponsored a $65m IMF loan for Somoza even as he bombed his own people[3].

A month before his overthrow by the 1979 Sandinista revolution, a member of his National Guard shot dead American reporter Bill Stuart live on camera, cementing US antiwar opposition that forced Reagan to resort to clandestine terror: Somoza’s national guard regrouped in neighbouring Honduras with CIA funds, arms and training before launching a ferocious campaign to undermine the revolution’s remarkable social reforms.

During the 1980s, the Reagan administration also armed, trained and funded the Guatemalan army as it conducted a brutal genocide of some 100,000 indigenous Mayan peasants. The general responsible, finally sentenced in the Hague a few years ago, was welcomed to the White House by fellow born-again evangelical Reagan, who called him “a man of great personal integrity”[2]. According to documents seen by the late investigative reporter Robert Parry, Washington had full knowledge of the subsequent native Indian genocide, yet continued to give him aid[4].

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In 1989, Reagan’s successor and former CIA chief George Bush Sr. launched an invasion of Panama to secure US control of the strategic Panama Canal, indiscriminately killing thousands of civilians[5] and leading to the capture and sentencing of one of his ex-employees, Manuel Noriega, for crimes mostly committed while on the CIA payroll[1].

Washington’s long war on Central America continues today in different forms. In 1994, the Clinton administration passed NAFTA, a profit bonanza for US corporations and Wall Street while a disaster for Mexican agriculture unable to withstand the competition. Earlier that year, Clinton had the border militarized via Operation Gatekeeper, clearly anticipating – notes Chomsky – the exodus from Mexico that NAFTA would generate[1].

In 2009, the Obama administration engineered a coup against the elected government of Honduras. Since then, US “anti-drug” operations constitute an occupying force echoing previous US occupations of the island: the victims of a helicopter attack on a boat of Mothers Day celebrants included two pregnant women, one of them a single mother of six, and apparently no traffickers. Such helicopters are piloted by Guatemalan mercenaries on the US payroll.

Criminal violence related to the drug war in Central America is skyrocketing. Homicides are way up. There is massive deforestation, driven in many places by the demand for biofuels; intensified corporate mining, including open-pit mining, is poisoning water supplies. Political repression is likewise on the rise, in places like Honduras’s Aguán Valley and in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley. The old Cold War alliance between death squads and a landed class seems to be back in operation, albeit updated: “death squads” are now legal security companies, often staffed with veterans from global hot spots, including former paramilitaries from Colombia, while landlords now receive funding from international development agencies to convert their fields into biofuel plantations to supply the United States with its energy needs[1].

Today’s atrocious policy at the US-Mexico border is the latest chapter in this long war on Central Americans and Mexicans. Mexican protesters called Obama the “deporter-in-chief”: he warehoused and deported 2.7 million, more than any US president before him. Under Obama, they were systematically beaten, tortured and raped by CBF agents. In one case, hungry babies were deprived of milk, while others vomited from repeatedly receiving contaminated meat and milk[6].

His successor Donald Trump has accelerated this savage policy, including the now suspended (due to public outrage) family separation policy that violated the US-ratified Genocide Convention.

US-NATO wars this century helped create the conditions of “Europe’s” refugee/migrant crisis. Reagan, Clinton and Obama’s policies have had a similar contribution to the flight of Central Americans and Mexicans to North America.

Trump’s proposed wall epitomises the mentality of imperial self-entitlement that discards history and refuses to acknowledge responsibility. Such an attitude of blind arrogance brought down the Roman empire. History does not bode well for Donald Trump’s campaign slogan!

  1. Chomsky.info
  2. Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States (PBS Mini Series)
  3. Nicaragua (freely viewable at johnpilger.com)
  4. consortiumnews.com
  5. The Panama Deception
  6. ACLU report 05/18

Top Five Enemies Created by US ‘Blowback’

1. Pol Pot
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During the Vietnam War, the US dropped a conservative 0.5m tonnage of bombs on Cambodia. Killing an estimated 50,000-150,000 mostly innocent civilians, the indiscriminate bombing – requested by the Cambodian government – created a tide of anti-American/government hatred upon which Pol Pot’s horrific Khymer Rouge rose to power, leading to the horrific genocide of 1.7m people (21% of the population)[1].

Following this holocaust, the Carter Administration arranged an annual $100m in Chinese military aid for the Khymer Rouge, whose guerrilla allies received tens of millions in direct US money during the 1980s[1].

2. Ayatollah Khomeini
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In 1953, an MI6-CIA coup ousted the democratically elected president of Iran, Mohamed Mossadeq, in response to his popular nationalization of Iranian oil. He was replaced by the Shah of Iran, who restored the monopoly of Anglo-American Oil Company (now British Petroleum) over the Iranian economy. The brutal dictator was finally toppled in the 1979 Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, formerly on the CIA payroll during the 1953 coup[2].

3. Saddam Hussein
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Iraq’s Saddam Hussein received diplomatic and military support from the US and other Western countries for his brutal war against post-revolutionary Iran, which cost 1m Iraqi and Iranian lives.

Private American, British and German firms sold Saddam various biochemical components that would end up contributing to his WMD buildup, including its brutal deployment against the town of Halabja in which 25,000 Kurdish civilians were gassed to death[2].

The Reagan Administration sought to deflect attention by erroneously blaming the Iranians for the vicious massacre[2].

4. Osama bin Laden
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In July 1979, the US authorised a $0.5b fund for the Afghan Mujahideen, an Islamist rebellion against the then communist regime in Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbniew Brzezinski saw this as an opportunity to “give the Soviets their own Vietnam”, informing Carter that “in my opinion, this was likely to induce a Soviet military intervention”. But with the rest of the US intelligence community rejecting this view, Carter proceeded with the fund for the Afghan Mujahideen[2].

The following December, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, provoking a flood of foreign Muslim volunteers including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden*. When the US deployed 0.5m troops to Saudi Arabia (Islam’s holy land) during the 1991 Gulf War, bin Laden perceived a new ‘crusade against Islam’ and turned his guns on the West[3].

Two other major recruiting tools for bin Laden was US support for the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as the 0.5m Iraqi children who died from US-British economic sanctions[3].

In 1998, Brzezinski insisted that Europe’s “liberation from communism” was more important to history than “a few stirred up Moslems”[2]. Three years later, on September 11 2001, some of bin Laden’s “stirred up Moslems” brought down New York’s World Trade Center, killing 2996 people and ushering in a perpetual ‘War on Terror’ abroad and assault on democracy at home.

5. ISIS
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In late 2002, in response to the pending US invasion of Iraq, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi infiltrated the lawless north and founded AQI[3]. Later renaming itself ISI, it morphed into ISIS after extending its activities to neighbouring Syria as part of a Western-sponsored ‘jihad’.

By 2014, ISIS had overrun Western-backed “moderate” factions in the Syrian civil war and seized much of their US-supplied weaponry[4], as well as purchasing weaponry from the US-armed Free Syrian Army[5].

*A common myth is that he was a CIA asset. This is due to the false equivocation of the Muslim volunteers with the indigenous Afghan Mujahideen. The CIA armed and trained the latter but not the former. See 911myths.com

1. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/khmer-rouge-cambodian-genocide-united-states/
2. Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States
3. Peter Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know, Chapter 12: How al Qaeda Took Root in Iraq and the Story of Abu Musab al Zarqawi
4. http://www.conflictarm.com, Evidence from a 20-month investigation in Iraq and Syria
5. https://www.rt.com/news/322996-islamic-state-journalist-todenhofer/

“We Were This Close to Nuclear War”

Excerpt from “Eurasian Tinderbox: The U.S. Buildup Against Russia and China”, Jimmy Colwill. To purchase the entire eBook for just $3.01, visit https://www.amazon.com/Eurasian-Tinderbox-Buildup-Against-Russia-ebook/dp/B076VVH3CR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509133426&sr=8-1&keywords=eurasian+tinderbox

Kennedy’s strategy to ‘reverse’ the gap – in reality, aggressively expand America’s strategic advantage over the Soviets even further than it had already been – included what became, according to the preeminent international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz, “the largest strategic and conventional peacetime build-up the world has yet seen…even as Khrushchev was trying at once to carry through a major reduction in the conventional forces and to follow a strategy of minimum deterrence, and…even though the balance of strategic weapons greatly favored the United States”[4].

This included the stationing of more than a hundred Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey, the latter within striking range of the Russian capital of Moscow. In May 1962, faced with CIA terrorist campaign Operation Mongoose and the threat of imminent US invasion (following an initial US invasion attempt the previous year i.e. the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco), Cuba’s Fidel Castro requested the stationing of Soviet missiles on the island – just 90 miles away from Florida – as a nuclear deterrent against American aggression.

Recognising this opportunity to strike a deal with Kennedy, who had earlier spurned his offer of a mutual weapons reduction treaty, and get the US missiles out of neighbouring Turkey[5], Khrushchev granted Cuba’s request the following July.

The following month, while on holiday, Kennedy read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, a classic account of the build-up to World War One. Tuchman had argued that none of the key political figures welcomed war and that, given the chance, they would not have repeated their mistakes that led to conflict.

After the resumption of U2 reconnaissance flights over Cuba in October, pilot Major Richard Heyser took 928 photographs recording the recently station Soviet missiles on the island. The CIA identified the missiles thanks to intelligence provided by double agent Oleg Penkovsky[6], notifying the State Department on October 15 at 8:30pm.

Following an initial briefing he received from Bundy the following morning[7], President Kennedy convened his national security council and other key advisors at 6:30pm. Kennedy secretly tape recorded the meetings (the ‘Excomm meetings’), some of which have been subsequently transcribed by the Kennedy Library’s Sheldon Stern. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended a military strike on Cuba to take out the missiles. An invasion was already scheduled, hence (partially) the stationing of the missiles on the island to begin with. But McNamara countered that, seeing as the US already had 5000 strategic warheads compared with the Russians’ 300, the balance of military power was still overwhelmingly in Washington’s favour[8].

In any event, the JSC’s apocalyptic recommendation held consensus, despite the fact that a diplomatic solution was the elephant in the room during the first Excomm meeting: answering Kennedy’s query about Khrushchev’s possible motive for stationing the missiles in Cuba, Dean Rusk pointed out that it may have something to do with the US Jupiter missiles in neighbouring Turkey, within striking range of Moscow.

On October 18, Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in the Oval Office, the latter explaining the defensive nature of the missiles. Kennedy risked nuclear extinction by failing to offer US withdrawal of its Turkey missiles in exchange for a Soviet withdrawal of its Cuba missiles. The next day, Excomm agreed to a naval blockade of Cuba, to prevent any further Soviet missile shipments thereto.

In a televised address on the 22nd, Kennedy branded Soviet actions “a reckless and provocative threat to world peace”, stripping the crisis of its entire context: his missiles in Turkey, his brother Robert’s CIA terrorist campaign to raise “the terrors of the earth”[9] against the Castro regime, and (as it turns out, justified[10]) Soviet-Cuban fears of imminent US invasion of Cuba.

As Kennedy spoke, US forces were put on DEFCON 3. A quarter of a million US troops were on standby to invade Cuba. Nearly two hundred B47s, all armed with hydrogen bombs, dispersed to civilian airports across the United States. B52s on airborne alert increased more than fivefold, some 65 of them, each armed with thermonuclear warheads and 2-4 Hydrogen bombs, within striking range of the USSR[11]. On October 24, as the naval blockade began, Strategic Air Command was switched to DEFCON 2, the first time in its history.

On October 26, Kennedy received a letter from Khrushchev offering to withdraw the Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for US assurances that neither America nor its proxies would attack Cuba. Excomm agreed to the deal, but would respond the next morning after some shuteye. By radio, a frantic Khrushchev offered to publicly withdraw the missiles if the US publicly withdrew its Turkey missiles.

Naturally, the granting of both proposals would have guaranteed a definitive resolution to the most dangerous crisis in world history, pulling humanity back from the brink of nuclear annihilation. Within Excomm, the confusion caused by the second letter only intensified calls for an airstrike, which intensified even further after an American U2 was shot down (without Khrushchev’s authorisation) later that day.

Nonetheless, Kennedy only accepted the first offer (US pledge not to attack Cuba, quickly broken as Operation Mongoose resumed, lasting well into the 1970s at the cost of thousands of Cuban lives), insisting instead that the US secretly withdraw the missiles from Turkey, while Russia publicly withdraw its missiles.

Kennedy made this move despite his own guess that nuclear war was 33-50% probable, and having already ordered the withdrawal of the obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey for replacement by far more lethal Polaris submarines[12]. In other words, he risked nuclear extinction of humanity for sheer imperial prestige.

“It is hard to think”, says Noam Chomsky, “of a more horrendous decision in history – and for this, he is still highly praised for his cool courage and statesmanship”[12]. As it happens, Khrushchev had already ordered the missiles’ withdrawal while awaiting a reply from Kennedy, delighted by the latter concession[13].

Graham Allison’s judgement is even more damning[14]:

Although he appreciated the dangers of his predicament, Kennedy repeatedly made choices he knew actually increased the risk of war, including nuclear war. He chose to confront Khrushchev publicly (rather than try to resolve the issue privately through diplomatic channels); to draw an unambiguous red line requiring the removal of Soviet missiles (rather than leave himself more wiggle room); to threaten air strikes to destroy the missiles (knowing this could trigger Soviet retaliation against Berlin); and finally, on the penultimate day of the crisis, to give Khrushchev a time-limited ultimatum (that, if rejected, would have required the US to fire the first shot). In each of these choices, Kennedy understood that he was raising the risk that further events and choices by others beyond his control could lead to nuclear bombs destroying American cities, including Washington DC (where his family stayed throughout the ordeal.

By far the most dangerous moment in the entire crisis (and, arguably, human history) was when, on the day of Kennedy’s gamble, one of the Soviet Foxtrot submarines approaching Cuba received US warning depth charges, which one of the submarines misinterpreted as an attack. Six hours later, the three commanders, authorised by Soviet protocol to launch a torpedo, made the decision to do so, except one: Visal Arkhipov, “the man who saved the world”.

Thus, Kennedy’s gamble was more like an unwitting 99%. Indeed, without his knowledge, and on the same day as the U2 shoot-down, an Atlas long-range missile test was carried out from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Soviets could have easily misinterpreted this as the first firing shot. Meanwhile, another U2 was tailed by Soviet pilots after straying into Siberian airspace before being safely escorted back to Alaska by atomic-armed US warplanes which, under DEFCON 3, were authorised to shoot down Soviet aircraft[13]. Even this barely scratches the surface of the additional dangers involved.

Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser observes[13]:

Although Khrushchev never planned to move against Berlin during the crisis, the Joint Chiefs had greatly underestimated the strength of the Soviet military force based in Cuba. In addition to strategic weapons, the Soviet Union had almost one hundred tactical nuclear weapons on the island that would have been used by local commanders to repel an American attack. Some were as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Had the likely targets of those weapons – the American fleet offshore the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo – been destroyed, an all-out nuclear war would have been hard to avoid.

At a Senate hearing following the merciful resolution of the crisis, McNamara adamantly denied that the Soviet missile withdrawal from Cuba was traded for the US missile withdrawal from Turkey: “Absolutely not…The Soviet government did raise the issue…[but the] President absolutely refused even to discuss it”. Off the record, officials even concocted that Kennedy had spurned a proposal by his UN ambassador to trade the Soviet missiles in Cuba for NATO missiles in Turkey, Italy and Britain[13].

Following the resolution of the crisis, a Moscow-Washington hotline was established, as well as the landmark Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited nuclear detonations in the atmosphere, ocean and outer space. Nonetheless, over the next five years, US nukes would grow by more than 50% (as would tactical nukes deployed to Europe) from Eisenhower’s 19,000 to a total of 31,255[15]. And the progress in US-Soviet relations would be severely damaged by the reckless brinksmanship of the 1980s Reagan Administration, bringing us once again to the brink of catastrophe.

John F Kennedy and US Imperialism

Kennedy was the first US president to authorize chemical warfare and napalm

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Liberals have a nostalgia for John F Kennedy, many of whom believe he was assassinated by the CIA for defying their pressure to invade Cuba.

Even if this entirely plausible scenario were true (the question is academic since the CIA has committed many, many crimes, which the obsession with Kennedy’s assassination only serves to distract from), that Kennedy’s spat with the CIA was due to its warmongering is purely illusory. As Youssef El-Gingihy explains[1]:

“The Kennedys may have fallen out with the CIA over Cuba, but this was more a question of methodology than ideology. For both parties, the ultimate prize remained the overthrow of the Castro regime…JFK authorized multiple CIA ops against Cuba in 1963. True, Operation Mongoose had been disbanded and they ordered the FBI to clamp down on the more extreme groups such as Alpha 66. However, the Kennedys were merely transferring the Cuban project under their aegis”.

An honest appraisal of JFK shows him up to be a committed servant of the US empire. He didn’t want to directly invade Cuba only because that risked nuclear suicide with the Soviets, which would mean the mutual destruction of both superpowers.

As Noam Chomsky once remarked, if the Nuremberg Principles applied today, then every US president since 1945 would have been hanged. Kennedy, he says, “was one of the worst”.

Kennedy was the first American president to authorize chemical warfare and napalm, launching Operation Ranch Hand against South Vietnam in 1962. This Operation damaged or destroyed some 4 million acres of forest and 500,000 acres of food crops with Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants and herbicides[2], destroying/poisoning the food supply of countless civilian families. Millions were directly sprayed with Agent Orange, inflicting subsequent generations with horrific deformities[3].

This Operation was modeled on Britain’s ‘strategic hamlets’ in 1950s Kenya, when the Mau Mau revolt against British colonial rule was savagely suppressed. As revealed in 2011 with the release of declassified files from Britain’s Foreign Office, British troops stabbed/shot, tortured, raped and mutilated up to 1 million Kenyan detainees. Read Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Elkins’ comprehensive account, ‘Britain’s Gulag’.

Like Britain’s Malay Emergency, Kennedy’s Ranch Hand was also a counter-insurgency operation: the Saigon regime, “a Latin American-style terror state” (Chomsky) installed by Washington in the 1950s, had killed 20,000 people. American money and guns, however, were proving insufficient in sustaining the despised regime. To keep its client regime propped up, Washington had to intervene. LBJ sent in the troops following the (fake) Gulf of Tonkin incident, but it was JFK who initiated the war’s most devastating dimension: air raids.

Then there’s Cuba. Kennedy implemented his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower’s plans to oust the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, whose courageous guerillas had toppled the murderous junta of Gen. Batista, a CIA stooge who had ruthlessly guarded Wall Street’s interests in the de facto corporate colony.

The President’s brother, Robert Kennedy, masterminded the most vicious crimes against Cuba: Operation Mongoose, a CIA terrorist/sabotage campaign, was designed (in his words) to “raise the terrors of the earth” against Havana.

He almost succeeded: Mongoose, perhaps the biggest campaign of international terrorism until that of Al Qaeda, involved attempted bombings of oil/sugar refineries. For decades, the US allowed terrorists to launch tourist shootings and hotel bombings from their base in Miami. Cue Bush II: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them!”.

And of course there’s the gamble with nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis (https://flashpointssite.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/we-were-this-close-how-the-cuban-missile-crisis-brought-the-world-to-the-nuclear-brink/).

Internal Security

“Nordic races appear to be definitely superior to their Latin counterparts”.

The following chapter, “Destabilization Policies,” focuses on Kennedy-era efforts to undermine Argentina’s Arturo Frondizi (who declined to support the U.S. anticommunist crusade against Cuba), Brazil’s João Goulart (who was considered a closet communist), and Guatemala’s Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes (whose only sin was to allow former president Arévalo to return from exile).

Next comes a chapter on the “Kennedy Doctrine”–JFK’s assertion of the right to intervene in cases involving the potential for communist expansion–a chapter designed around the case of Guyana, where the British were transferring power to the electorate which, in turn, seemed intent upon electing a prime minister that Washington perceived as a dangerous radical…the Kennedy administration strong-armed the British into rescheduling elections under a new form of proportional representation, and that ended Cheddi Jagan’s electoral hopes.

Turning the coin over, Rabe’s next chapter on “Constitutional Defenses” explains how…Kennedy’s highly selective embrace of constitutionalism also included covert funding to ensure that the Chilean Christian Democrats could triumph over their more radical democratic adversaries…

1. https://newint.org/blog/2014/11/21/jfk-assassination-anniversary
2. http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/111/quy060409.pdf.
3. http://www.nature.com/articles/nature01537

Nuclear Apocalypse: A True Possibility

How the US buildup against Russia and China threatens to unleash nuclear catastrophe

On August 6 1945, the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Japan. The subsequent Cold War between the West and Soviet Russia witnessed the most dangerous flashpoints in human history.

Today, as NATO carries out the biggest military buildup on Russia’s borders since Hitler’s invasion of the USSR in 1941, the spectre of an accidental nuclear war has returned with a vengeance.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. conducts a parallel encirclement strategy against China, whose economic and military rise marks the end of American dominance in the Asia Pacific.

Author Jimmy Colwill journeys through the genesis of the nuclear age and the string of dangerous historical flashpoints ever since 1945, culminating in today’s Eurasian tinderbox.

Order the book for just $3.01 at visit https://www.amazon.com/Eurasian-Tinderbox-Buildup-Against-Russia-ebook/dp/B076VVH3CR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509133426&sr=8-1&keywords=eurasian+tinderbox. See Colwill’s explosive NATO/Russia Documentary ‘Flashpoints’ for free at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1vEqhVf618