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”

Thirtieth Anniversary of the US Invasion of Panama

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the US invasion of Panama. Costing 000s of lives, it was a flagrant act of criminal aggression that signalled Washington’s ‘unipolar moment’.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 signified the collapse of the Soviet Union, leaving the United States as the world’s sole superpower. Meanwhile, President Bush I was known as a wimp on foreign policy. Washington needed to put the world on notice, and massage Bush I’s ego. An easy target, Panama was defenceless and already occupied by eighteen US bases.

The official bogeyman was Manuel Noriega, who had upset Washington recently by losing enthusiasm over assisting Washington’s Contra war. But his crimes, most of them committed while on Bush I’s (while CIA director) payroll, became the official pretext. Meanwhile limited control of the strategic Panama Canal was to be transferred to Panama in 1990. In 2000, it would be completely under Panamanian control. Washington would have none of this.

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Then CIA Director George H.W. Bush with employee Manuel Noriega

“Provocations against the Panamanian people by United States military troops were very frequent in Panama,” said Sabrina Virgo, National Labor Organizer, who was in Panama before the invasion. She said the provocations were intended “to create an international incident (to justify invading)“1.

Apocalypse Now

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Panama’s 9/11: the destruction of El Chorrillo

Beginning at dawn, the initial twelve hours of the invasion saw the equivalent of one major bomb blast every two minutes. According to eyewitnesses, neighbourhoods packed with women and children were deliberately attacked. 2-5000 innocent civilians, many of them deliberately shot and bombed by America’s brave marines, would perish.

“The North Americans began burning down El Chorillo at about 6:30 in the morning”, recounted an eyewitness.  “..They would burn a house, and then move to another and begin the process all over again. They burned from one street to the next. They coordinated the burning through walkie-talkies”1.

“People were crushed by tanks”, writes Matt Peppe, “captured Panamanians were executed on the street, and bodies were piled together and burned. Survivors were reportedly hired to fill mass graves for $6 per body“.

Rogue State

The United Nations General Assembly voted 75 to 20 with 40 abstentions, condemning Washington’s act of aggression. The U.S., Britain and France vetoed the resolution. The Organisation of American States (OAS) followed suite, with only the US voting against, decrying the rest of the world’s “narrow concern over ‘nonintervention’”.

A diplomat told the Los Angeles Times that he was “100% certain” of Noriega’s location, “but when I called, SouthCom (the U.S. Southern military command) said it had other priorities”. The razing of El Chorillo ensued.

The majority of Americans were enraptured by President Bush’s invasion. True, the horrific “collateral damage” was never shown on their TV screens, but then such carnage is easily inferable when you send 20,000 troops into a tiny urban country. The US had just committed the supreme crime for which the Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg, and US citizens – like the Good Germans who backed Hitler – were fine with it.

  1. The Panama Deception (Youtube); Central Americans Human Rights Commission investigation http://www.skepticfiles.org/socialis/pan_hr.htm

John Pilger’s urgent new film on ITV this December

A timely expose of the stealth selloff of Britain’s most vital public asset.

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The award-winning investigative journalist has produced over 60 films for ITV.

John Pilger’s new documentary, The Dirty War on the NHS, “goes to the heart of the struggle for democracy today”, he says. Britain’s National Health Service, the NHS, was the world’s first universal public health service. Designed to give millions of people “freedom from fear”, the NHS today is under threat of being sold off and converted to a free market model inspired by America’s disastrous health insurance system, which results in the death every year of an estimated 45,000 people. Now President Trump says the NHS is “on the table” in any future trade deal with America. Filmed in Britain and the United States, this timely, compelling documentary touches us all and reveals what may be the last battle to preserve the most fundamental human right.

Source: thedirtywaronnhs.com/about

Watch the trailer at https://youtu.be/ZTnIOh6yl6Y

Crowdfund Appeal for John Pilger’s Latest Film – Please Donate and/or Share!

Perks include your name in the end credits (£20). a copy of the DVD hand-signed by Pilger (£50), and a ticket to the London premier with Q/A and a chance to meet the legendary documentarian (£150).

http://johnpilger.com/articles/a-message-from-john-pilger-about-his-latest-film:

My last film, The Coming War on China, was only completed because of the generosity and solidarity of the hundreds of people whose names appear in the end-credits. For me, watching those names roll is one of the proudest moments of the film.

Initially, I was reluctant to crowd-fund and said so in the preamble on the crowd-funding site; I believed most people needed the money in their pockets and it was up to me and my colleagues at Dartmouth Films to convince likely institutions or rich donors with a conscience (yes, they exist) to impart their loose change.

But when one of the major funders of the film suddenly pulled out, it looked like the film and its editing would grind to a halt.

The crowd-funders came to our rescue: people who gave a fiver or what they could afford (and often couldn’t afford). What struck me was the entirely gracious way people offered to help. They weren’t giving charity, they said; they were delighted, even honoured, to be partners in the making and success of a film they considered important.

Today, I am again making an appeal for support – this time for a film whose urgency touches all our lives, literally.

It’s about the NHS, the last bastion of a truly people’s institution without which so many of us would stumble and fall and perhaps not survive.

The film is certainly a tribute to the NHS; but, above all, it’s a warning.

Under our noses, often secretly and deceptively, our National Health Service is being undermined and sold off: piece by precious piece to the likes of Richard Branson and the giant American health insurance companies that are at the root of the misery that is American healthcare.

The privatisation of the NHS has been mostly insidious – by “stealth”, as one of Mrs Thatcher’s cohorts once advised. But since 2010, the “reforms” have speeded up. It’s got to the point that if we don’t act now, we’ll wake up one day to an unrecognisable health service that is no longer ours.

As with my previous films, this film will be in cinemas and on network TV, bringing a vital public message, and warning, to a mass audience.

With this urgency in mind, please support this work – again, with whatever you can afford. Your name will appear with special honour as the credits roll… https://igg.me/at/Pilgerhealthdoc

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 Truth About UK Knife Crime

This week I saw a rather blatant piece of BBC propaganda designed to legitimate Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s expansion of police powers on the pretext of combating knife crime in the UK. As the propaganda piece’s own victim interviews indicate, the recent knife crime epidemic is very real. But the aim, by presenting the working-class testimonials, is to channel public sympathy behind the expansion of police stop-and-search powers as a remedy to the problem.

It is noteworthy that no one has sought to consider what documented impact stop-and-searches actually have on UK crime. The impact, according to the latest study, is literally 0%. Conversely, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, this year’s UK knife murders are almost the exact same amount as those following contact with police. This is why the right-wing press, with its newly found concern for working class people, has to rely on emotions rather than facts.

That London is one of the world’s safest cities (and we’d do well to compare it to, for instance, cities in Yemen we’ve helped ravage) does not prevent racist tabloid headlines from branding it a lawless “Wild West” overrun by black gangs, a thinly veiled slur on the capital’s multiculturalism. Nor for that matter does it prevent opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Blairite councillors continue to obey his dictum that they stick to May’s budget cuts, from lamenting the withdrawal of 21,000 police officers from the streets, vowing in his manifesto to finance an additional 10,000.

Since austerity began in 2010, UK child poverty has gone from 25% to 33%, while mental health problems have increased in tandem with government mental health cuts. Meanwhile, just 1000 people in the UK control 33% of the country’s wealth[] while £69.9 billion is annually dodged/evaded by corporations and the super-rich.

Despite 2,400+ children killed or disabled by road accidents in David Cameron’s first year, no equivalent calls for extra road safety have been made by the Tories, who have undoubtedly exacerbated the problem by closing 760-odd youth centres in the name of austerity.

The ruling elites see France’s Yellow Vest revolt and tremble. Still reeling from the economic crash of 2008 and the impact of austerity, they are seeking to militarise their societies in order to contain the damage the capitalist system is generating. Any doubts about the real agenda can be seen by the intervention of Tony Blair into the phony debate.