Category Archives: NATO

The Killing of History

   The lone survivor of an all-women anti-aircraft battery near Hanoi. Most were teenagers. (Photo: John Pilger 1975)

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”. Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans — it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

In the series’ press release in Britain — the BBC will show it — there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying.  How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression.  The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”.

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual.

His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism.

Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against “repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War … All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders’ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signalled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted.  The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented a historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again.

He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.

The German Election: The West’s Nervous Breakdown Continues

Following Sunday’s nationwide parliamentary election here in Germany I can hear the mocking laughter of 1989’s ghost, echoing throughout Europe and around the world. The great victory march of the “Free Market” Religion, which featured pompous, self-righteous politicians, pundits, and other worshippers at the altar of Big Finance strutting and crowing in the years following the fall of the Wall about the final demise and alleged failure of the supposedly evil and misguided socialist idea, has come to a grinding halt.

The rapid growth of the anti-immigrant, anti-EU party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany – which received almost 13% of the vote and will now be the third biggest party in the new Bundestag or parliament — has been driven, above all, by widespread rage and frustration in Germany’s Eastern states, the former communist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR), over the broken promises made at the time of German reunification regarding “blooming landscapes” (former Chancellor Helmut Kohl) and the associated affluence that was to be expected there within a few years, if the people there would only discard the socialist ideal and rush to the protective bosom of the West. They rushed — delirious with dreams of trading their funny little two-cylinder Trabant cars for big powerful Mercedes, and being able to buy the scarce luxury good, bananas, every day of the week. They were promised that raising their standard of living to that of their fellow Germans in the West would be the country’s top priority.

Almost 30 years later, that has not happened. There is widespread nostalgia in the Eastern states for the DDR and the modest but stable and generally stress-free life that most citizens there led, free from the threat of losing their dwellings or their jobs. And the same is true in the other Eastern European nations which joined the European Union and NATO after 1989.

As Stephen Gowans writes in his recent essay “We Lived Better Then”:

Of course, none of the great promises of the counterrevolution were kept. While at the time the demise of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was proclaimed as a great victory for humanity, not least by leftist intellectuals in the United States, two decades later there’s little to celebrate. The dismantling of socialism has, in a word, been a catastrophe, a great swindle that has not only delivered none of what it promised, but has wreaked irreparable harm, not only in the former socialist countries, but throughout the Western world, as well. Countless millions have been plunged deep into poverty, imperialism has been given a free hand, and wages and benefits in the West have bowed under the pressure of intensified competition for jobs and industry unleashed by a flood of jobless from the former socialist countries, where joblessness once, rightly, was considered an obscenity. Numberless voices in Russia, Romania, East Germany and elsewhere lament what has been stolen from them — and from humanity as a whole: “We lived better under communism. We had jobs. We had security.” And with the threat of jobs migrating to low-wage, high unemployment countries of Eastern Europe, workers in Western Europe have been forced to accept a longer working day, lower pay, and degraded benefits. Today, they fight a desperate rearguard action, where the victories are few, the defeats many. They too lived better — once.’

While the often racist and xenophobic manner in which East Germans and Eastern Europeans express their anger at what they see as an influx of foreigners who go to the front of the line for Western largesse — while the 30-year betrayal of the promises and misleading propaganda directed at themselves from 1989 to 1991 continues, although unacknowledged — is ugly and despicable, it is not hard to understand in its historical context. Somehow the assurances of the good life for all, thanks to the benevolent “invisible hand of the free market”, and the forecasts of blooming landscapes of prosperity across Eastern Europe, have failed to materialize. After more than a quarter of a century, prosperous areas exist but are exceedingly rare. In East Germany many small towns and villages are dying, and the population is shrinking as many follow the jobs westward, since few major employers have chosen to come eastward to them. Unemployment is much higher than in West Germany, and the cultural divisions between the citizens of the old DDR and West Germans have proven very stubborn and difficult to overcome. But the damage has not been confined to those in the formerly socialist countries. As Stephen Gowans points out:

But that’s only part of the story. For others, for investors and corporations, who’ve found new markets and opportunities for profitable investment, and can reap the benefits of the lower labor costs that attend intensified competition for jobs, the overthrow of socialism has, indeed, been something to celebrate. Equally, it has been welcomed by the landowning and industrial elite of the pre-socialist regimes whose estates and industrial concerns have been recovered and privatized. But they’re a minority. Why should the rest of us celebrate our own mugging?

Prior to the dismantling of socialism, most people in the world were protected from the vicissitudes of the global capitalist market by central planning and high tariff barriers. But once socialism fell in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and with China having marched resolutely down the capitalist road, the pool of unprotected labor available to transnational corporations expanded many times over. Today, a world labor force many times larger than the domestic pool of US workers — and willing to work dirt cheap — awaits the world’s corporations. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the implications are for North American workers and their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan: an intense competition of all against all for jobs and industry. Inevitably, incomes fall, benefits are eroded, and working hours extended. Predictably, with labor costs tumbling, profits grow fat, capital surpluses accumulate and create bubbles, financial crises erupt and predatory wars to secure investment opportunities break out.  Growing competition for jobs and industry has forced workers in Western Europe to accept less. They work longer hours, and in some cases, for less pay and without increases in benefits, to keep jobs from moving to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other former socialist countries — which, under the rule of the Reds, once provided jobs for all. More work for less money is a pleasing outcome for the corporate class, and turns out to be exactly the outcome fascists engineered for their countries’ capitalists in the 1930s. The methods, to be sure, were different, but the anti-Communism of Mussolini and Hitler, in other hands, has proved just as useful in securing the same retrograde ends. Nobody who is subject to the vagaries of the labor market – almost all of us — should be glad Communism was abolished.

This is the big picture, which is missing utterly from the political analysis in the “Extreme Center” which governs the West at the behest of the Finance Markets through neoliberal economic policy, and controls its corporate and government media. Pointing out the reality of this massive failure which has followed the much-lauded so-called historic victory of the capitalist model is taboo, as is the admission that the United States bears a huge share of the responsibility for the rapid expansion of the influx into Europe by refugees and economic migrants, a great many of whom are fleeing US-NATO war zones or their aftermath (see my recent article “Taboo Subject in NATO Media: Refugees, America’s Gift to Europe”) in nations including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. It is far easier to blame the rise of right-wing nationalism on ignorant racists who are so impatient as not to understand that blooming landscapes don’t spring up overnight, or that equality is an antiquated socialist concept which these “losers” will simply have to outgrow. In the USA, it’s a bit more complicated to deflect responsibility for the outbreak of unrepentant racism since, by and large, the malcontents have always been there, and are simply the economic rejects in a system returning rapidly to the Social Darwinism which held sway in the “land of the free” before World War II.

One of the main subjects among the few issues that dominated the relentlessly self-obsessed and sleep-inducing campaign which preceded the German election was INNERE SICHERHEIT (“Internal Safety” or “Security”). For conservatives and those who swallow racist propaganda – either the openly racist hysterical stuff spread by neo-Nazis and the AfD, or the more subtly suggestive xenophobic variety used by Angela Merkel’s Christian conservatives to try to appeal to their own substantial number of anti-immigration and racist voters – this is understood to mean safety from crimes committed by dangerous foreigners, refugees and other criminals, whether real or imagined. There has been a small but increasing number of crimes committed by refugees here, and nearly every one of them receives extensive media coverage, while the far greater number of attacks on foreigners by neo-Nazis, skinheads and other racist thugs is rarely mentioned in the official media.

However, the big-picture problems with the Orwellian linguistic and political fog conjured up by any deeper focus on this approach to the idea of “security” are, predictably, myriad. The Extreme Center promoted this fear of crime during the German election campaign while simultaneously refusing to address or even mention the true sources of growing danger and instability in Europe and elsewhere: the US-NATO destabilization of the Middle East through wars of “regime change” and the upward spiral of terrorism and refugee displacement that decades of intervention have produced, largely with the EU’s support or obedient subservience; the reduced economic security of many even in economically booming Germany, thanks to reforms and cuts to the social system begun several years ago, similar to those now being undertaken in France by Macron, in the name of “economic competitiveness”, and resembling on a smaller scale austerity government in the UK under the Tories which has produced increasing political chaos there too — reforms and social cutbacks which are now producing growing old-age poverty and other forms of economic hardship; the drain on Western economies produced by growing military expenditures, largely associated with the New Cold War being pushed by US neocons and put in high gear by Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s support for the coup in Ukraine, which has provoked major tensions with Russia, and sanctions which the EU has pathetically felt compelled to support against its own self-interest; the growing societal fears and unease stemming from the knowledge (or in some sectors of society a less conscious osmotic absorption of the associated psychic stress) that major environmental disaster looms as an ever more likely reality, which beneath the happy-face of reassuring public pronouncements and the ridiculous fig leaf of the Paris Accords is not being addressed in any meaningful way. The response of many Germans and other citizens of the European Union to the faux threats, which they are encouraged to think of as coming from somewhere outside of Europe, is to try to wall off their still comparatively comfortable and affluent part of the world. For many, this goes hand in hand with nationalism, since support for the transnational EU has never been enthusiastic among large segments of the European population, and recent EU infighting around issues of refugees and austerity have reinforced or inflamed anti-EU sentiment.

Merkel’s election posters featured a close-up (years old) of her smiling face with a caption about voting for a country “in which we live well and gladly”. In essence, that was her campaign message: the economy is doing very well (no mention of those who are not sharing in the bounty), and after 12 years in office much of the credit must go to her – although, in fact, the reforms which lowered the unemployment rate and pumped up the profit margin were initiated by the previous Chancellor’s government of Social Democrats and Greens. After a total of eight years as her junior coalition partner, during which she has characteristically claimed and received credit for many Social Democratic policies both positive and (from the standpoint of those of us on the Left) negative, the Social Democrats have now been slaughtered at the polls, retaining only 20% of the vote, and have declared that they are no longer available as coalition partners. But it is probably too late to save Europe’s Social Democratic heritage, which is now crumbling in every European country except the UK, where Jeremy Corbyn has had the courage to return to truly socialist policies.

Germany now faces a more fractured landscape of political parties, more like those in countries including The Netherlands and Belgium, which have been unable to form new governments for many months following elections. And, as in many other European countries, it will now attempt to fight a far-right party fed by racism and xenophobia, sounding the alarm that this party is a “Danger to Democracy” – although that party was founded, organized and became successful through the democratic process – while refusing to acknowledge the fact that the ruling conservatives are trying to win back those racists and xenophobes by moving closer to them politically. Although Merkel continues to verbally defend her refugee policies of 2015, in fact, she has altered those policies in a 180-degree reversal over two years, to maintain the support of her own party and prevent further defections.

The changes were successful enough to keep her in the Chancellor’s office, but her support has fallen lower than ever, and 13% of the voters refused to forgive and forget what they see as her betrayal. Heralded by the increasingly clueless New York Times and other desperate Trumped-out presstitutes as the “New Leader of the Free World” – wherever that might be! – she will now enter extremely challenging coalition negotiations with the Green Party and others feeling herself to be, at least here in Germany, on much shakier ground.

The Myth of Canada’s “Benevolent” Foreign Policy

A house built on an imaginary foundation may be a “dream home” but it can never be lived in. The same holds true in politics.

One need not mythologize Canadian foreign policy history to oppose the Trudeau government’s egregious position on nuclear arms. In fact, ‘benevolent Canada’ dogma weakens the critical consciousness needed to reject the policies of our foreign policy establishment.

In “Canada abandons proud history as ‘nuclear nag’ when most needed” prominent leftist author Linda McQuaig writes:

There have been impressive moments in our history when Canada, under previous Liberal governments, asserted itself as a feisty middle power by supporting, even occasionally leading, the push to get nuclear disarmament onto the global agenda.

Nonsense! If one were to rank the world’s 200 countries in order of their contribution to the nuclear arms race Canada would fall just behind the nine nuclear armed states.

Uranium from Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories was used in the only two nuclear bombs ever dropped on a human population. In Northern approaches: Canada and the search for peace James Eayrs notes, “the maiming of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a byproduct of Canadian uranium.”

Canada spent millions of dollars (tens of millions in today’s money) to help research the bombs’ development. Immediately after successfully developing the technology, the US submitted its proposal to drop the bomb on Japan to the tri-state World War II Combined Policy Committee meeting, which included powerful Canadian minister C.D. Howe and a British official. Though there is no record of his comments at the July 4, 1945 meeting, apparently Howe supported the US proposal. Reflecting the racism in Canadian governing circles, in his (uncensored) diary King wrote:

It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe.

Only a few years after the first one was built Ottawa allowed the US to station nuclear weapons in Canada. According to John Clearwater in Canadian Nuclear Weapons: The Untold Story of Canada’s Cold War Arsenal, the first “nuclear weapons came to Canada as early as September 1950, when the USAF [US Air Force] temporarily stationed eleven ‘Fat Man’- style atomic bombs at Goose Bay Newfoundland.”

Canadian territory has also been used to test US nuclear weapons. Beginning in 1952 Ottawa agreed to let the US Strategic Air Command use Canadian air space for training flights of nuclear-armed aircraft. At the same time, reports Ron Finch in Exporting Danger: a history of the Canadian nuclear energy export programme, the US Atomic Energy Commission conducted military tests in Canada to circumvent oversight by American “watchdog committees.” As part of the agreement Ottawa committed to prevent any investigation into the military aspects of nuclear research in Canada.

Canadian Forces also carried nukes on foreign-stationed aircraft. At the height of Canadian nuclear deployments in the late 1960s the government had between 250 and 450 atomic bombs at its disposal in Europe. Based in Germany, the CF-104 Starfighter, for instance, operated without a gun and carried nothing but a thermal nuclear weapon.

During the past 70 years Canada has often been the world’s largest producer of uranium. According to Finch, by 1959 Canada had sold $1.5 billion worth of uranium to the US bomb program (uranium was then Canada’s fourth biggest export). Ottawa has sold at least 29 nuclear reactors to foreign countries, which have often been financed with aid dollars. In the 1950s, for instance, Atomic Energy Canada Limited received large sums of money through the Colombo Aid Plan to help India set up a nuclear reactor.

Canada provided the reactor (called Cyrus) that India used to develop the bomb. Canada proceeded with its nuclear commitment to India despite signals from New Delhi that it was going to detonate a nuclear device. In The Politics of CANDU Exports Duane Bratt writes, “the Indians chose to use Cyrus for their supply of plutonium and not one of their other reactors, because Cyrus was not governed by any nuclear safeguards.”

On the diplomatic front, Ottawa has long supported its allies’ nuclear weapons. In August 1948 Canada voted against a UN call to ban nuclear weapons and in December 1954 voted to allow NATO forces to accept tactical nuclear weapons through the alliance’s policy called MC 48, The Most Effective Pattern of NATO Military Strength for the Next Few Years. According to Canada and UN Peacekeeping: Cold War by Other Means, 1945-1970, external minister Lester Pearson “was integral to the process by which MC 48 was accepted by NATO.”

In his 2006 book Just Dummies“: Cruise Missile Testing in Canada Clearwater writes, “the record clearly shows that Canada refuses to support any resolution that specifies immediate action on a comprehensive approach to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.” Since then the Harper/Trudeau regimes’ have not changed direction. The Harper government opposed a variety of initiatives to curtail nuclear weapons and, as McQuaig points out, the Trudeau government recently boycotted a UN effort to sign a treaty, supported by two thirds of 192 member states, to rid the world of nuclear weapons and prohibit the creation of new ones.

But, it’s not only nuclear policy. The Trudeau government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia, attacks on Venezuela’s elected government, support for Rwanda’s brutal dictatorship, empowerment of international investors, indifference to mining companies abuses, military deployment on Russia’s border, support for Israel’s illegal occupation etc. reflect this country’s longstanding corporate-military-Western centric foreign policy. While Harper’s foreign policy was disastrous on many fronts, it was a previous Liberal government that instigated violence in Afghanistan and the most flagrant Canadian crime of this century by planning, executing and consolidating the overthrow of democracy in Haiti.

Leftists need to stop seeking to ingratiate themselves with the liberal end of the foreign policy establishment by exaggerating rare historical moments when Ottawa apparently did right. Power relations — not morality — determine international policy and the ‘benevolent Canada’ myth obscures the corporate and geostrategic interests that overwhelmingly drive policy. Progressive writers should focus on developing the critical consciousness needed to reign in the foreign policy establishment.

Only the truth will set us free to make this country a force for good in the world.

The People of Afghanistan have had Truly Enough of Western Imperialist Barbarism

Alessandro Bianchi: The geographic location of Afghanistan has always occupied a central role. The April peace talks between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Russia and China seemed to have put an end to the persistent and dominant American presence in the country. What’s your opinion?

Andre Vltchek: What you have mentioned is extremely important, but I’m not ready to celebrate, yet. This could be, at least in theory, the first step towards the end of one of the most destructive and brutal occupations in NATO’s history, or in what the US mainstream press likes to describe as “the longest American war.”

Let us also not call it only the “American presence”. I know some Europeans lately love to portray themselves as some kind of victims, but they are definitely not. Europe is at the core of this entire global nightmare. And the US is nothing else other than its creation: it is Europe’s offspring. In many ways, the United States is Europe.

The UK is now well behind this horror through which Afghanistan is being forced to go through, at least theoretically; a sadistic revenge for all former British defeats in the country. The UK is responsible for more massacres worldwide than any other country on Earth. And now it is shaping the US and, in fact, the entire Western imperialism, ideologically. Its Machiavellianism, its propaganda machine is second to none.

What I can confirm from my first-hand experience is that by now the people of Afghanistan have had truly enough of this Western imperialist barbarism. They are exhausted after 16 years of the horror invasion. They dislike the West; mistrust the West… But most of them are silent, because they are constantly being frightened into submission. And also remember: collaboration with the Western occupation forces is now the greatest ‘business’ in the country. Afghan diplomats, many politicians, countless military commanders, Western-funded NGO’s, even thousands of educators, are all serving the occupiers. Billions of dollars are being made from such shameful collaboration. It is all one huge business, and the mafia of servile Afghan ‘journalists’, diplomats, governors and ‘educators’ will never leave their lucrative positions voluntarily.

Western colonialism corrupts! It corrupts one generation after another in all conquered, occupied countries.

Afghans who are pure, Afghans who are proud, true patriots with beautiful hearts (and there are still many of such people in this country that became one of my favorite places on Earth) have presently no power, no say.

Fortunately, even the elites are now realizing that there is no way forward under the present regime, and under the present foreign rule.

In Kabul and in the provinces, people are beginning to look towards Russia, China, but also Iran, even India. Despite its terrible past track record in this part of the world, even Pakistan cannot be ignored anymore. Anything is better than NATO.

AB: Like in other parts of the world, the presence of American troops does not fully explain the long-term goals of military planners. Afghanistan in some respects resembles a similar situation to Southeast Asia. In South Korea, the American presence has persisted since 1950, and with it the destabilization of the Korean peninsula. The American surge will not change the delicate balance negotiated between the parties back in April and it will not affect the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to stabilize the country. How do you define the US presence today in Afghanistan?

AV: I define it as inhuman, barbaric and thoroughly racist. And I’m not talking about the US presence only, but also about the European presence, particularly the British one.

There could be absolutely no doubts regarding how deep once-socialist Afghanistan has sank under the NATO cruelty. It is enough to go even to the sites of the UNDP or the WHO and it all there, in details: Afghanistan is now the least ‘developed’ (using HDI criteria) country in Asia. Afghan people have the lowest life expectancy on their continent.

The US alone claims that it has managed to spend, since the invasion in 2001, between 750 billion and 1.2 trillion dollars. That’s huge, an astronomical amount, even bigger than the entire Marshall Plan after WWII (adjusted to today’s dollar)! But has it been spent to help the Afghan people? Of course not! It has gone mainly into corrupting of ‘elites’ and their offspring, into the military, into the salaries of foreign contractors. Huge military bases were built; some were at some point decommissioned, others were moved somewhere else. Airports were constructed – all of them military ones. Private Western security firms are having a ball. I once calculated that if all that money were to be equally divided between all Afghans, the country would have had a much higher income per capita than relatively affluent Malaysia, for 16 consecutive years!

What the West has done to Afghanistan is insane! It is Orwell meeting Huxley, and all mixed with the worst nightmares of painters like George Grosz and Otto Dix.

Old trolleybus lines built by the former Czechoslovakia are gone; only stumps are left. But so much is still surviving. Soviet apartment buildings, so-called Makroyans, are still standing and flats there are in great demand to date. Water ducts in the countryside were built by the Soviet Union, and so were irrigation canals around Jalalabad and elsewhere. India built dams. China constructed public medical facilities. What did the West create? Nothing else other than total misery, armed conflicts and above all – countless military barracks, tall concrete walls and fences, the drug trade, intellectual prostitution and as always, dark and complete nihilism!

In 2007, around 700 Afghan civilians were killed by Western airstrikes alone, a great increase even when compared with 2006.

Georgian military contractors who are working for the US occupation army recently told me: US have total spite for Afghan people. They even destroy unused food at its military bases, instead of giving it to starving children.

People of Afghanistan know perfectly well who are their friends, and who are enemies.

AB: The world is changing, and more and more fruitful efforts to replace the chaos wrought by US policies can be seen. The road to economic prosperity and a re-established unity among the Afghan people is still a work in progress, but once the country manages to establish its independence, Washington will have a hard time dictating conditions. Will countries like Russia, China and India be able to prevent a dangerous escalation in Afghanistan?

AV: Many people in Afghanistan are actually dreaming about true independence, and most of them remember with great love, all the kindness and internationalism given to them by the Soviet people. Unlike the Westerners, the Soviets came here first as teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers. They shared with the locals all that they had. They lived among them. They never hid behind fences. To date, in Afghanistan, you say you are Russian, and dozens of people will embrace you, invite you to their homes. It is all in stark contrast to the Western propaganda, which says that Afghans dislike Russians!

When it comes to Russia and China, yes, both countries acting in concert would be able to bring economic prosperity and social justice to Afghanistan. I’m not so sure about India, which is, until now, clearly sitting on two chairs, but definitely China and Russia are ready and able to help.

The problem is that Afghanistan is still very far from any sort of independence. The West has occupied it for 16 years, that’s terrible enough. But the country has also been sacrificed for the even more sinister designs of the US and NATO, for much longer than that: Afghanistan has been, for decades, a training ground for the pro-western jihadi cadres, starting with Al-Qaeda/Mujahedeen (during the ‘Soviet War’ and the war against Afghan socialism). Now the Taliban is ruining the country, but also, increasingly, ISIS are murdering all in sight here. Recently, ISIS have been arriving from Syria and Lebanon, where they are in the process of being defeated by the Syrian army, by the Russians, but also by the Lebanese forces and Hezbollah. The ISIS was, as is well known, created by the West and its allies in the Gulf.

This is essential to understand: two countries that the West wants to fully destabilize are Russia and China. In both of them, Islamist fundamentalists have been fighting and bringing horrible damage. The West is behind all this. And it is using and sacrificing Afghanistan which is absolutely perfect for the Western imperialist designs due to its geographical location, but also because it is now fully destabilized and in a state of chaos. In Afghanistan, NATO is maintaining ‘perpetual conflict’. Jihadi cadres can be easily hardened there, and then they can be ‘exported’; to go and fight somewhere in Northwest China or in the Central Asian parts of Russia.

The destruction of Afghanistan is actually a well-planned genocidal war of the West against the Afghan people. But the country is also a training ground for jihadists who will eventually be sent to fight against Russia and China.

AB: While the United States exhales the last breaths as a declining global power, no longer able to impose its will, it lashes out in pointless acts like lobbing 60 cruise missiles at Syria or sending 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Such acts do not change anything on the ground or modify the balance of forces in Washington’s favor. They do, however, have a strong impact on further reducing whatever confidence remains in the US, closing the door to opportunities for dialogue and cooperation that might have otherwise got on the table.

AV: Here I have to strongly disagree. I’m almost certain that the West in general, and the United States in particular, are clearly aware of what they are doing. The US has some of the most sinister colonial powers as its advisers, particularly the United Kingdom.

The US will not simply go down the drain without a great fight, and don’t ever think that Europe would either. These two parts of the world were built on the great plunder of the planet. They still are. They cannot sustain themselves just from the fruits of their brains and labor. They are perpetual thieves. The US can never be separated from Europe. The US is just one huge branch growing from an appalling trunk, from the tree of European colonialism, imperialism and racism.

Whatever the US, Europe and NATO are presently doing is brilliantly planned. Never under-estimate them! It is all brutal, sinister and murderous planning, but from a strictly strategic point of view, it is truly brilliant!

And they will never go away on their own! They will have to be fought and defeated. Otherwise they are here to stay: in Afghanistan, in Syria, or anywhere else.

AB: What is the role of Italian troops that you have seen in your last visit to Afghanistan?

AV: It is a usual cocktail consisting of what Italian fascism has been made of throughout its colonialist, fascist and NATO eras: a medley of cruelty, hypocrisy, as well as some great hope in Rome that Italy could finally become a competent and ‘respected’ occupier… I saw the Italian troops in Herat… They occupied an ancient citadel of the city, jumping like members of some second-rate ballet troupe all around, just because some high-ranking Italian officer was bringing his family to visit the site. It was all tremendously embarrassing… I still have some photos from that ‘event’. But the best thing about Italians as occupiers is that they can hardly be taken seriously; they are disorganized, chaotic, and hedonistic even during war.

Italian troops took over ancient Citadel in Herat City.

I actually love to see them in such places like Afghanistan, because they do very little damage. They are true showoffs. The French, Brits, and the US – they are efficient and brutal, true killing machines. Italians are still better at making movies, writing poetry and cooking, than murdering locals in occupied foreign countries.

*****

• Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel Aurora and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

Rename the Lester B. Pearson Airport

Many monuments, memorials and names of institutions across Canada celebrate our colonial and racist past. Calls for renaming buildings or pulling down statues are symbolic ways of reinterpreting that history, acknowledging mistakes and small steps towards reconciling with the victims of this country’s policies.

At its heart this process is about searching for the truth, a guiding principle that should be shared by both journalists and historians.

In an article headlined “Everything is offensive: Here are Canada’s other politically incorrect place names” Tristin Hopper concludes that “Lester Pearson’s record still holds up pretty well” unlike a dozen other historical figures he cites who have streets, institutions and statues named in their honour. Notwithstanding the National Post reporter’s portrayal, there are compelling historical arguments for renaming the airport, school board, road, college, peace-park, civic centre, housing project, schools and foreign affairs headquarters celebrating the long-time diplomat.

As I outline in Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: the truth may hurt, the former Nobel Peace Prize winner was an aggressive militarist and imperialist. There is even a case to be made that the former external minister and prime minister could be posthumously tried for war crimes.

In the foreword to my book Noam Chomsky argues that Pearson abetted war crimes by having Canadian International Control Commission (ICC) officials deliver US bombing threats to the North Vietnamese leadership in 1964. As prime minister, Pearson also had ICC officials spy on North Vietnam for Washington, approved chemical weapon (Agent Orange, Purple and Blue) testing in Canada, ramped up weapons sales to the US and provided various other forms of support to Washington’s violence in Indochina.

A decade and a half earlier Pearson aggressively promoted Canadian participation in another conflict that left millions dead. He threatened to quit as external minister if Canada failed to deploy ground troops to Korea. Ultimately, 27,000 Canadian troops fought in the 1950–53 UN “police action” that left up to four million dead. At one point the US-led forces only stopped bombing the north of the country when they determined no building over one story was still standing.

Pearson had a hand in many other unjust policies. During the 1947 UN negotiations over the British Mandate of Palestine Pearson disregarded the interests of the indigenous Palestinian population. He also played an important role in the creation of NATO, describing its 1949 formation as the “most important thing I participated in.” In the 1950s he backed CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala as well as the violent suppression of independence struggles in Algeria, Kenya and elsewhere. As Prime Minister in the mid 1960s, Pearson brought nuclear tipped Bomarc missiles to Canada, supported the US invasion of the Dominican Republic and military coup against Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah.

Expect liberals (of both the big and small l variety) to react emotionally to any effort to remove Pearson’s name from public entities. As part of the promotion for my Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy I put together a press release titled The Top 10 Things You Don’t Know About Canadian Foreign Policy. Number 1 was “Many commentators, including the world’s leading intellectual, Noam Chomsky, consider Lester Pearson a war criminal.” I sent the list and offered a review copy to a reporter at Embassy, Canada’s leading foreign policy newsletter at the time. He responded with outrage: “Frankly, I’m not that interested in Chomsky’s opinions, especially when they smear great Canadians like Mike Pearson. I know you’re a radical, but have some pride in Canada!”

Chomsky describes a similar experience with former CBC radio host Peter Gzowski. Happy to have him criticize US foreign policy, the long-time Morningside host became furious when Chomsky said, “I landed at war criminal airport”. Gzowski questioned: “What do you mean?” to which Chomsky responded, “the Lester B. Pearson Airport”, detailing Pearson’s contribution to the US war in Vietnam. In response, writes Chomsky, Gzowski “went into a tantrum, haranguing me for a number of minutes”, which prompted an outpouring of listener complaints.

The reality is many people are emotionally tied to the self-serving myths created to justify the actions of important historical figures. But the job of historians and journalists is to seek the truth, not to simply repeat propaganda.

The Lies of 9/11 Miracle Workers

America’s fate was sealed when the public and the anti-war movement bought the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory. The government’s account of 9/11 is contradicted by much evidence.  Nevertheless, this defining event of our time, which has launched the US on interminable wars of aggression and a domestic police state, is a taboo subject for investigation in the media.  It is pointless to complain of war and a police state when one accepts the premise upon which they are based.”

— Paul Craig Roberts, How America Was Lost

David Ray Griffin is an international treasure and truth teller, who, while being ignored by the mainstream corporate media (MSM) for his extraordinary series of books exposing the false flag attacks of September 11, 2001, will someday be lauded as a modern prophet.  To those who know and have studied his work, he is an inspiration for his persistent insistence in a dozen books since 2004 that the truth about the US treachery of that infamous day is essential for understanding the violence, planned by neo-conservatives and embraced by neo-liberals, that the United States has subsequently inflicted on the world. He has consistently argued that to believe in the government’s explanation for 9/11, one has to reject logic, scholarship, and the basic laws of modern science.

Bush And Cheney: How They Ruined America And The World is Griffin’s latest, and probably last, effort to reach those people who, out of fear, ignorance, or laziness, have walled themselves into a cyclopean labyrinth of denial about the defining event of our time.  Without the clarifying truth about the attacks of September 11, 2001, there will be no exit from the continuing nightmare the world is experiencing.

If you are reading this review, you are probably not one of those people Griffin is trying to reach.  Ay, there’s the rub!  As the title of his book suggests, he is using reversed logic to try and reach those who have accepted the official fiction that is The 9/11 Commission Report (No doubt without having read it. Outside of serious researchers, I have never met a person who has, except for some of my students) and all the antecedent and subsequent government and MSM propaganda.

To this end, the first three-quarters of the book is devoted to the “destructive transformations of America and the world as a whole” that were initiated and justified by 9/11, many of which have been accepted by innumerable people as being based on government lies, most notably the war against Iraq.  Griffin’s hope is that if he can convince skeptical readers that the government would lie about Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, etc., resulting in the deaths and maiming of millions of innocent people and the destruction of their countries, it would also lie about the attacks of September 11 that “legitimized” such carnage and the ongoing shredding of the US Constitution.

The Will to Examine Miracles?

It’s an ingenuous and compelling method, culminating with his concluding section on “15 major miracles” of 9/11, by which he means “violations of the laws of nature” in the strictest scientific sense.  Astutely logical, deeply sourced, and scientifically compelling, the book’s conclusion can only be rejected by one adamantly closed to accepting the ugly truth about the US government and its media accomplices.

But getting skeptical people to read the book is the trick.  I think that is very hard but much easier than to get the MSM to do so and give it a fair shake.  People have friends whom they trust, and sometimes friends can convince friends to at least take a look. Speaking of the MSM, Griffin puts it thus:

However, while granting that the Bush-Cheney administration told big and disastrous lies, which led to millions of deaths, most mainstream commentators have considered the idea that this administration engineered the 9/11 attack to to be so absurd that they can render judgment without checking the evidence.

“Judging without checking the evidence” is the job of the MSM, who are stenographers for the government, but regular people might be persuaded to check the evidence before reaching a conclusion, if they can be led to that assessment one logical step after another.  One can even hope that left-wing alternative media critics of the government, many of whom avoid this issue like the plague, might find the courage to reassess their anti-scientific denials in light of Griffin’s work. After all, “the laws of physics don’t lie,” and logical reasoning has generally been a strength of many dissenters, especially those well-skilled in the art of disputation.

The Birth of the Tangled Web

Griffin is a master logician, so he begins with the obvious fact that the Bush-Cheney administration failed to prevent 9/11 and therefore failed to keep America safe that day, as Donald Trump said in a 2016 election debate, for which he was castigated by his opponents and the media.  But he was right; it is a fact, whatever Bush-Cheney’s deceptive excuses. As a result of those attacks, the US attacked Afghanistan, claiming that was because Osama bin Laden orchestrated the attacks from that country.  No evidence of bin Laden’s guilt was ever presented, though Colin Powell initially said it would be shortly forthcoming (he quickly reneged on the promise). The invasion of Afghanistan, planned well in advance of 9/11, was the start of the war on terror that’s been going on for 16 years with no end in sight.  A 16-year-old war based on no evidence, just lies.

Griffin shows how the alleged “evidence” that was eventually produced – the bin Laden videos – were fraudulent; that they were indeed “produced,” and not by bin Laden; they were “bogus” according to Professor Bruce Lawrence of Duke University, the leading academic expert on bin Laden.  And the FBI reported that it had “no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”  But the administration and the media sang of bin Laden’s guilt in unison.  The public, beaten down in fear and trembling, accepted the claim as a fact, as they were further traumatized by additional lies about the anthrax attacks that are a key component of the entire propaganda campaign of fear and intimidation that resulted in The Patriot Act. (Graeme MacQueen’s masterful analysis, The 2001 Anthrax Deception, should be required reading; for he shows how the often forgotten anthrax attacks are intimately linked to those of September 11 and when studied closely, prove that 9/11 was an inside job.)

So Griffin begins with the lie about bin Laden that led to the lie about Afghanistan that led to the illegal and immoral and ongoing war against Afghanistan and all the millions of deaths and destruction that have ensued.

So knowing how lie leads on to lie, let us count some of the lies that followed.  Griffin documents these in deeply sourced details, but I will list them concisely:

US Government Lies Subsequent to the 9/11 Attacks:

  • That the 9/11 attacks were surprises, a “New Pearl Harbor.”
  • That there was solid evidence for bin Laden’s guilt.
  • That the invasion of Afghanistan (and Pakistan) was therefore justified.
  • That the “war on terror” and therefore The Patriot Act were necessary.
  • That Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, was developing nuclear weapons, and had weapons of mass destruction.
  • That the attacks on Muslim countries were not based on Islamophobia.
  • That the chaos and destruction unleashed throughout the Middle East were not pre-planned and intentional.
  • That the Obama administration’s attack on Libya was a humanitarian response to the “madman” Gaddafi, who adopted a rape policy fueled by Viagra drugged troops ready to unleash a blood bath.
  • That the war against Syria was not a CIA-instigated plan to overthrow Assad under the guise of “liberating” the Syrian people.
  • That the jihadists in Syria, including ISIS, were not armed and supported by the US, with many of those arms being shipped out of Benghazi, Libya, under the direction of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, General David Petraeus, and Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya.
  • That the Syrian “White Helmets” are independent volunteer do-gooders, not a propaganda outfit funded by the US and UK governments.
  • That the wars against Muslim countries throughout the Greater Middle East are not connected to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and serve as American support for Israel’s agenda in the region.
  • That drone killings are legal and morally justified.
  • That the US Constitution has not been shredded.
  • That the coup d’état in Ukraine was not a US operation as part of a continuing US aggression toward Russia and a growing threat of a nuclear annihilation.
  • That the US buildup of military forces along Russia’s western borders and the massive transfer of US Naval forces to China’s east are not US acts of aggression making nuclear war more likely, but are acts of self-defense.
  • That the threat of ecological holocaust is not connected to a 770 billion dollar “defense” budget, a trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization program, and US wars against countries containing vast amounts of fossil fuels and rare minerals.

That is only a sample of the lies that Griffin uses to lead the reader back to 9/11, the alleged reason for the death and destruction justified by such lies.  If the US government would lie in all these ways, he is saying, why would they not have lied with the Big Lie that started this string of destructive deceptions.

September 11, 2001

Thus the last section of the book (a little more than 25%) is devoted to “9/11: A Miraculous Day.”  Herein he explains why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should not be trusted on 9/11. They did not want an investigation into the September 11 attacks; wanted the public to just trust them.  They were eventually forced into an investigation by public pressure; originally named Henry Kissinger to head it (don’t laugh – ha! ha!); rigged its makeup and had Philip Zelikow, arch neo-con and Bush insider, appointed its Executive Director.  In short, they did everything possible to prevent an honest investigation.  And we know that the result was The 9/11 Commission Report that is a piece of legerdemain on a par with The Warren Commission Report. In other words, a cover-up.

Griffin shows that “Bush and Cheney lied about their activities on 9/11” and that their relationship to the subsequent anthrax attacks, a key motivator for The Patriot Act and “the war on terror,” suggest that their administration was the source of those attacks and therefore the 9/11 attacks. (see Graeme MacQueen’s The 2001 Anthrax Deception). Griffin further notes how declassified official accounts refute “central features of the Bush-Cheney account of 9/11.”

And then – the coup de grace – he shows how the official account of 9/11 depends on “miracle stories.”  Yet, “a look at the evidence shows that many people who accept science on tobacco, evolution, and global warming, accept miracles, implicitly, on the subject of 9/11, especially in relationship to the World Trade Center (WTC).”  Herein lies the great stumbling block to convincing people of the truth of 9/11. Science, logic, careful reasoning, evidence, documentation, what you can observe with your own eyes, etc. – none of this matters when you are intent on being deceived (or pretending to be) because of the implications of examining the evidence and reaching conclusions that are deeply disturbing to your world view, ideology, or sense of self.

To admit that you have believed a pack of lies for years is very difficult to accept.  But regular people of good will can do so.  These are the people Griffin is trying to reach.  To convince those who have for years publicly and professionally dismissed those who have questioned the official version of 9/11 as conspiracy nuts is probably an impossible task.  To convince the MSM that have worked hand-in-glove with the government to conceal the truth is preposterous.  To convince those fine people who are devoted to truth in other areas to reconsider their positions on this core issue is conceivable.  Surely the world is full of weird events that logic and science cannot explain. But when the defining event of recent history that has resulted in the world teetering on the edge of final destruction is explained by at least the following 15 miracles that Griffin lists, only a delusional person or one whose will to untruth is set in stone would not be moved to ask how these could be possible, and draw the obvious conclusions.

A Miraculous Precedent: The Assassination of JFK

I am reminded of that other foundational case in modern American history: the CIA-directed assassination of JFK.  Dan Rather, the famous CBS news anchor, was in Dallas that day, and after seeing the Zapruder film (which was then kept from the American public for a decade), went on television to say that when the president was shot in the head he violently lurched forward, clearly implying that the shot came from Oswald from the rear.  Of course, once the public was able to see the film, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that he was violently thrown back and to his left, therefore having been shot from his front right, not by Oswald. Bingo: a conspiracy.  Then in 2012, another famous TV personality, Bill O’Reilly wrote a book called Killing Kennedy in which he claims that he and his co-author watched the Zapruder film “time after time to understand the sequence of events,” but still concluded that The Warren Commission was correct and that Oswald shot Kennedy from behind despite the obvious visual evidence to the contrary.  Miracles then, miracles now – they seem to define the two key events of modern American history for those wanting to obfuscate the truth.

Do you believe in miracles?

Here is a Summation of Griffin’s 15 Major Miracles:

  1. The Twin Towers and WTC 7 were the only steel-framed high-rise buildings ever to come down without explosives or incendiaries.
  2. The Twin Towers, each of which had 287 steel columns, were brought down solely by a combination of airplane strikes and jet-fuel fires.
  3. WTC 7 was not even hit by a plane, so it was the first steel-framed high-rise to be brought down solely by ordinary building fires.
  4. These World Trade Center buildings also came down in free fall – the Twin Towers in virtual free fall, WTC 7 in absolute free fall – for over two seconds.
  5. Although the collapses of the WTC buildings were not aided by explosives, the collapses imitated the kinds of implosions that can be induced only by demolition companies.
  6. In the case of WTC 7, the structure came down symmetrically (straight down, with an almost perfectly horizontal roofline), which meant that all 82 of the steel support columns had to fall simultaneously, although the building’s fires had a very asymmetrical.
  7. The South Tower’s upper 30-floor block changed its angular momentum in midair.
  8. This 30 floor block then disintegrated in midair.
  9. With regard to the North Tower, some of its steel columns were ejected out horizontally for at least 500 feet.
  10. The fires in the debris from the WTC buildings could not be extinguished for many months.
  11. Although the WTC fires, based on ordinary building fires, could not have produced temperatures above 1,800℉, the fires inexplicably melted metals with much higher melting points, such as iron (2,800℉) and even molybdenum (4,753℉).
  12. Some of the steel in the debris had been sulfidized, resulting in Swiss-cheese-appearing steel, even though ordinary building fires could not have resulted in the sulfidation.
  13. As a passenger on AA Flight 77, Barbara Olson called her husband, telling him about hijackers on her plane, even though this plane had no onboard phones and its altitude was too high for a cell phone call to get through.
  14. Hijacker pilot Hani Hanjour could not possibly have flown the trajectory of AA 77 to strike Wedge 1 of the Pentagon, and yet he did.
  15. Besides going through an unbelievable personal transformation, ringleader Mohamed Atta also underwent an impossible physical transformation.

Griffin examines each of these “miracles” in detail.  Taken together, they reduce the official explanation of 9/11 to a story told to credulous children who are afraid of the dark.  One can only hope that Americans are ready to grow up and accept that the bogeyman is real and that he is out to devour them and the rest of the world if they don’t awaken from their hypnotic sleep.

The Overwhelming Consensus of Experts

It is important to note that David Ray Griffin is not alone in his assessment that 9/11 was an inside job done to legitimize disastrous policies at home and abroad.  There are thousands of scholars, religious leaders, scientists, engineers, airline pilots, firefighters and countless others who agree with him after studying the evidence. Griffin names many of these experts in his conclusion.  And they are not afraid of the absurd way the government and media accuse them of being “conspiracy theorists,” since they know “as Lance deHaven-Smith explained in his book Conspiracy Theory in America, [that] the CIA started using ‘conspiracy theory’ as a pejorative term in 1964 to ridicule the growing belief, contrary to the Warren Report, that President Kennedy was killed by people within the US government, including the CIA itself.”  Thoughtful people know, and the evidence has long proven, that the US government is guilty of an extensive list of conspiracies, ranging from the alleged Gulf of Tonkin attack to its conspiracy to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and extending back through many CIA-engineered coup d’états, the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, etc.  The name calling has lost its sting when the documentary records confirm that the name callers are the conspirators.

So if you care about truth, your country, and the world; if you hate to be lied to; if you care about the victims of American violence everywhere – you should read Bush And Cheney: How They Ruined America And The World. It is a brave and brilliant book. Look at the evidence. Show others.  Pass the book on. Give it as a gift.

And tip your hat to David Ray Griffin, a truth teller extraordinaire, who for thirteen years has been asking us to wake out of the hypnotic state of denial that has allowed the liars to bring the world to the edge of destruction.  Griffin’s persistence is the sign of hope we all need to join him in the fight against these unspeakable forces of evil.

On the Beach 2017: The Beckoning of Nuclear War


The US submarine captain says: “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming. Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.”

He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

These lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.

I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world’s second most lethal nuclear power.  There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

The “sanctions” are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

Their main aim seems to be war – real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies – the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called “a noble cause” and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an “exceptional people”. He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. “Listen up,” he said. “We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom.”

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls “an eternal present”. Harold Pinter described this as “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously “the left” are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man – not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system – beckons great danger for all of us.

While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a “Soviet agent”), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was “clearly unconstitutional”.

A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the “national security” managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them “the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today”.

They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia’s “borderland” – the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people.  Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

In response, “partnership” is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin – anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China’s economic lifelines.

The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, “if required”, he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute’s fiction.

None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 – during the Cuban missile crisis – he and his colleagues were “told to launch all the missiles” from their silos.

Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded – but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not “stand down”.

At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 – the year Shute wrote On the Beach – no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world’s most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms “left” and “right” are meaningless. Most of America’s modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America’s longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings – murder – by drones.

In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the “reluctant liberal warrior”, dropped 26,171 bombs – three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.  Having pledged to help “rid the world” of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama – with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side – who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the “deporter-in-chief”.

One of Obama’s last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a “Center for Information Analysis and Response”. This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an “official narrative of facts” that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war – if we allow it.

Afghanistan is Right Here!

It often appears that “true Afghanistan” is not here in Kabul and not in Jalalabad or Heart either; not in the ancient villages, which anxiously cling to the steep mountainsides.

Many foreigners and even Afghans are now convinced that the “true” Afghanistan is only what is being shown on the television screens, depicted in magazines, or what is buried deep in the archives and libraries somewhere in London, New York or Paris.

It is tempting to think that the country could be only understood from a comfortable distance, from the safety of one’s living room or from those books and publications decorating dusty bookshelves and coffee tables all over the world.

“Afghanistan is dangerous,” they say. “It is too risky to travel there. One needs to be protected, escorted, equipped and insured in order to function in that wild and lawless country even for one single day, or just a few hours.”

When it comes to Afghanistan, conditioned Western ‘rational brains’ of tenure or emeritus professors (or call them the ‘regime’s intellectual gatekeepers’) often get engaged, even intertwined with those pathologically imaginative minds of the upper class ‘refugees’, the ‘elites’, and, of course, their offspring. After all, crème de la crème ‘refugees’ speak perfect English; they know the rules and nuances of the game. The results of such ‘productive interaction’ are then imprinted into countless books and reports.

Books of that kind become, in turn, what could be easily defined as the ‘official references’, a ‘certified way’ to how our world perceives a country like Afghanistan. Their content is being quoted and recycled.

How often I heard, from the old veteran opinion makers (even those from the ‘left’) – people that I actually used to respect in the past:

The Soviet era in Afghanistan was, of course, terrible, but at least many girls there had access to the education…

It is no secret that ‘many girls had access to education’ in those distant days, but was it really “terrible”, that era? Was it “of course, terrible?” Baseless clichés like this are actually shaping ‘public opinion’, and can be much more destructive than the hardcore propaganda.

Most of those old gurus never set foot in Afghanistan, during the Soviet era or before, let alone after. All their ‘experience’ is second or third-hand, constructed mainly on sponging up bitterness from those who betrayed their own country and have been collaborating with the West, or at least on the confusion and mental breakdowns of their children.

Based on such recycled unconfirmed ‘facts’, bizarre theories are born. According to them, Afghanistan is ‘officially’ wrecked; it is hopelessly corrupt; it is beyond salvation and repair. It is ‘so divided, ethnically and otherwise’, that it can never function again as one entity.

Then come liberals, and the children of corrupt Afghan diplomats and exiled ‘elites’, who commonly justify their passivity by blaming the entire world for the destruction of their nation: “every country in the world just wants to harm Afghanistan, take shamelessly advantage of it.”

Naturally, if everybody is responsible, than nobody truly is. Therefore, as expected, ‘the grand conclusion’ is –  “There is absolutely no hope.” Everyone who can is trying to leave; who in his or her right mind would want to dwell in such mayhem?”

Let’s just write the entire place off! Chapter closed. One of the greatest cultures on Earth is finished. Nothing can be done about it. Goodbye, Afghanistan! Ciao, bella!

For some, especially for those who left the country and slammed the door, it is a tempting and ‘reassuring’ way of looking at the state of things. It justifies their earlier decision. If one accepts such views, than nothing has to be done, because no matter what, things would never improve, anyway. For many, especially for those who are benefiting (even making careers) from doing absolutely nothing to save Afghanistan, such an approach and such theories are actually perfect. Very little of it matters to them, that almost all of this is total rubbish!

*****

I never saw any of those professors from the MIT or Cornell University anywhere near the dusty roads cutting through Samar Khel or Charikar. I never saw any reporters from the Western mass media outlets here, in the deepest villages that keep changing hands between Taliban and the government forces, either. If they were here, I’d definitely spot them, as they tend to travel ‘in style’, like some buffoons from bygone eras: wearing ridiculous helmets, bulletproof vests, and PRESS insignias on all imaginable and unimaginable parts of their bodies, while being driven around in armored vehicles, often even with a full military escort.

It would be quite difficult to talk to Afghan people looking like that. There is not much one could actually even see from such an angle and perspective, but that’s the only one they are choosing to have, that is if they come here at all.

*****

Let me back-track a bit: in case my readers in the West or elsewhere have never heard about Samar Khel. Well, it is a dusty town not far from Jalalabad, a former ‘grave’ for the Soviet forces and the National Afghan Army. During the “Soviet era”, the US and the Saudi-backed Mujahedeen used to fire between 500 and 1,000 missiles from here, all directly towards the city of Jalalabad, day after day.

It is very hard to imagine what went on and what went wrong in Afghanistan during the 1980’s, without feeling that 430C heat of the desert, without chewing dust, without facing those bare, hostile mountains, and without speaking to people who used to live here during ‘those days’, as well as people who have been existing, barely surviving here now.

It is also absolutely impossible to understand the Soviet Union and its ‘involvement’ in Afghanistan, without driving through the countryside and all of a sudden spotting in some ancient and god-forsaken village, a mighty and durable water duct built by Soviet engineers several decades ago, with electricity towers and high voltage wires still proudly spanning above.

Soviet water pipe in the village, Nangarhar Province

*****

By now I know that I don’t want to write another academic book. I wrote two of them, one about Indonesia and one about that enormous sprawl of water dotted with fantastic but devastated islands and atolls of the South Pacific – “Oceania”. To write academic books is time consuming and it is, in many ways, ‘selfish’. The true story gets buried under an avalanche of tedious facts and numbers, under footnotes and recycled quotes. Once such a book is read and returned to its place on a shelf, no one is really inspired or outraged, no one is terrified and no one is ready to build barricades and fight.

But most academic books are never even read from cover to cover.

I see no point in writing books that wouldn’t inspire people to raise flags, to fight for their country and humanity.

I don’t work in Afghanistan in order to compile indexes and footnotes. I am there because the country itself is a victim of the most brutal and ongoing imperialist destruction in modern history. As an internationalist, I’m not here only to document; I’m here to accuse and to confront the venomous Western colonialist narrative frontally.

Afghanistan is bleeding, assaulted and terribly injured. Therefore it deserves to be fought for and not just to be analyzed and described. No cold and detached historic accounts, no texts written from a safe distance, can help this beautiful country to stand on its own feet, to regain its pride and hope, and to fly as it used to in the not so distant past.

It doesn’t need more and more nihilism. On the contrary, it is thirsting for optimism, for new friends, for hope.

Not all countries are the same. Even now, Afghanistan has friends, true friends, no matter how much this fact is being obscured by the Western propagandists, no matter how much pro-Western Afghan elites are trying to prove otherwise.

*****

This is not what you are supposed to be reading. All remembrances of the “Soviet Era” in Afghanistan have been boxed and then labeled as “negative”, even “toxic”. No discussion on the topic is allowed in ‘polite circles’, at least in the West and in Afghanistan itself.

Afghanistan is where the Soviet Union was tricked into, and Afghanistan is where the Communist superpower received its final blow. ‘The victory of capitalism over communism’, the official Western narrative shouted. A ‘temporary destruction of all progressive alternatives for our humanity’, replied others, but mostly under their breath.

After the horrific, brutal and humiliating period of Gorbachev/Yeltsin, Russia shrunk both geographically and demographically, while going through indescribable agony. It hemorrhaged; it was bathing in its own excrement, while the West celebrated its temporary victory, dancing in front of the world map, envisioning the re-conquest of its former colonies.

But in the end Russia survived, regained its bearings and dignity, and once again became one of the most important countries on Earth, directly antagonistic to the global Western imperialist designs.

Soviet tanks cemetery

Afghanistan has never recovered. After the last Soviet combat troops left the country in 1989, it bled terribly for years, consumed by a brutal civil war. Its progressive government had to face the monstrous terror of the Western and Saudi-backed Mujahedeen, with individuals like Osama bin Laden in command of the jihadi genocide.

Socialists, Communists, secularists as well as almost all of those who were educated in the former Soviet Union or Eastern Block countries, were killed, exiled, or muzzled for decades.

Most of those who settled in the West simply betrayed; went along with the official Western narrative and dogma.

Even those individuals who still claimed to be part of the left, repeated like parrots, their pre-approved fib:

Perhaps the Soviet Union was not as bad as the Mujahedeen, Taliban, or even the West, but it was really bad enough.

I heard these lines in London and elsewhere, coming from several mouths of the corrupt Afghan ‘elites’ and their children. From the beginning I was doubtful. And then my work, my journeys to and through Afghanistan began. I spoke to dozens of people all over the country, doing exactly what I was discouraged to do: driving everywhere without an escort or protection, stopping in the middle of god-forsaken villages, entering fatal city slums infested with narcotics, approaching prominent intellectuals in Kabul, Jalalabad and elsewhere.

“Where are you from?” I was asked on many occasions.

“Russia,” I’d reply. It was a gross simplification. I was born in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, but an incredible mixture of Chinese, Russian, Czech and Austrian blood circles through my veins. Still, the name “Russia” came naturally to me, in the middle of Afghan deserts and deep gorges, especially in those places where I knew that my life was hanging on a thin thread. If I were to be allowed to utter one last word in this life, “Russia” was what I wanted it to be.

Author driving through Afghanistan

But after my declaration, the faces of the Afghan people would soften, unexpectedly and suddenly. “Welcome!” I’d hear again and again. An invitation to enter humble homes would follow: an offer to rest, to eat, or to just drink a glass of water.

‘Why?’ I often wondered. “Why?” I finally asked my driver and interpreter, Mr. Arif, who became my dear friend.

“It’s because in this country, Afghans love Russian people,” he replied simply and without any hesitation.

“Afghans love Russians?” I wondered. “Do you?”

“Yes,” he replied, smiling. “I do. Most of our people here do.”

*****

Two days later I was sitting inside an armored UNESCO Land Cruiser, talking to a former Soviet-trained engineer, now a simple driver, Mr. Wahed Tooryalai. He allowed me to use his name; he had no fear, just accumulated anger, which he obviously wanted to get out of his system:

When I sleep, I still sometimes see the former Soviet Union in my dreams. After that, I wake up and feel happy for one entire month. I remember everything I saw there, until now…

I wanted to know what really made him so happy ‘there’?

Mr. Wahed did not hesitate:

People! They are so kind. They are welcoming… Russians, Ukrainians… I felt so much at home there. Their culture is exactly like ours. Those who say that Russians ‘occupied’ Afghanistan have simply sold out. The Russians did so much for Afghanistan: they built entire housing communities like ‘Makroyan’, they built factories, even bakeries. In places such as Kandahar, people are still eating Russian bread…

I recalled the Soviet-era water pipes that I photographed all over most of the humble Afghan countryside, as well as the elaborate water canals in and around cities like Jalalabad.

“There is so much propaganda against the Soviet Union,” I said.

“Only the Mujahedeen and the West hate Russians,” Mr. Wahed explained. “And those who are serving them.”

Then he continued:

Almost all poor Afghan people would never say anything bad about Russians. But the government people are with the West, as well as those Afghan elites who are now living abroad: those who are buying real estate in London and Dubai, while selling their own country…those who are paid to ‘create public opinion’.

His words flowed effortlessly; he knew precisely what he wanted to say, and they were bitter, but it was clearly what he felt:

Before and during the Soviet era, there were Soviet doctors here, and also Soviet teachers. Now show me one doctor or teacher from the USA or UK based in the Afghan countryside! Russians were everywhere, and I still even remember some names: Lyudmila Nikolayevna… Show me one Western doctor or nurse based here now. Before, Russian doctors and nurses were working all over the country, and their salaries were so low… They spent half on their own living expenses, and the other half they distributed amongst our poor… Now look what the Americans and Europeans are doing: they all came here to make money!

I recall my recent encounter with a Georgian combatant, serving under the US command at the Bagram base. Desperate, he recalled his experience to me:

Before Bagram I served at the Leatherneck US Base, in Helmand Province. When the Americans were leaving, they even used to pull out concrete from the ground. They joked: “When we came here, there was nothing, and there will be nothing after we leave…” They prohibited us from giving food to local children. What we couldn’t consume, we had to destroy, but never give to local people. I still don’t understand, why? Those who come from the US or Western Europe are showing so much spite for the Afghan people!

What a contrast!

Mr. Wahed recalled how the Soviet legacy was abruptly uprooted:

After the Taliban era, we were all poor. There was hunger; we had nothing. Then the West came and began throwing money all around the place. Karzai and the elites kept grabbing all that they could, while repeating like parrots: “The US is good!” Diplomats serving Karzai’s government, the elites, they were building their houses in the US and UK, while people educated in the Soviet Union couldn’t get any decent jobs. We were all blacklisted. All education had to be dictated by the West. If you were educated in the USSR, Czechoslovakia, East Germany or Bulgaria, they’d just tell you straight to your face: Out with you, Communist! At least now we are allowed to at least get some jobs… We are still pure, clean, never corrupt!

“Do people still remember?” I wonder.

Of course they do! Go to the streets, or to a village market. Just tell them: “How are you my dear?” in Russian. They’d immediately invite you to their homes, feed you, embrace you…

I tried a few days later, in the middle of the market… and it worked. I tried in a provincial town, and it worked again. I finally tried in a Taliban-infiltrated village some 60 kilometers from Kabul, and there it didn’t. But I still managed to get away.

*****

I met Mr. Shakar Karimi in Pole Charkhi Village. A local patriarch, he used to be a district chief in Nangarhar Province.

I asked him, what the best system ever implemented in modern Afghanistan was?

First he spoke about the Khan dynasty, but then referred to a left-wing Afghan leader, who was brutally tortured and murdered by Taliban after they entered Kabul in 1996:

If they’d let Dr. Najib govern in peace, that would have been the best for Afghanistan!

I asked him about the Soviet invasion in 1979.

They came because they were given wrong information. The first mistake was to enter Afghanistan. The second, fatal mistake was to leave.

“What was the main difference between the Russians and Westerners during their engagement in Afghanistan?”

The Russian people came predominately to serve, to help Afghanistan. The relationship between Russians and Afghans was always great. There was real friendship and people were interacting, even having parties together, visiting each other.

I didn’t push him further; didn’t ask what was happening now. It was just too obvious. “Enormous walls and high voltage wires,” would be the answer. Drone zeppelins, weapons everywhere and an absolute lack of trust… and the shameless division between the few super rich and the great majority of the desperately poor… the most depressed country on the Asian continent.

*****

Later I asked my comrade Arif, whether all this was really true?

“Of course!” He shouted, passionately. “100% true. The Russians built roads, they built homes for our people, and they treated Afghans so well, like their brothers. The Americans never did anything for Afghanistan, almost nothing. They only care about their own benefits.”

If there would be a referendum right now, on a simple question: ‘do you want Afghanistan to be with Russia or with the United States, the great majority would vote for Russia, never for the US or Europe. And you know why? I’m Afghan: when my country is good, then I’m happy. If my country is doing bad, then I suffer! Most people here, unless they are brainwashed or corrupted by the Westerners, know perfectly well what Russia did for this country. And they know how the West injured our land.

*****

Of course, this is not what every single Afghan person thinks, but most of them definitely do. Just go and drive to each and every corner of the country, and ask. You are not supposed to, of course. You are told to be scared to come here, to roam through this “lawless” land. And you are not supposed to go directly to the people. Instead you are expected to recycle the writings of toothless, cowardly academics, as well as servile mass media reports. If you are liberal, you are at least expected to say: “there is no hope, no solution, no future.”

At Goga Manda village, the fighting between the Taliban and government troops is still raging. All around the area, the remnants of rusty Soviet military hardware can be found, as well as old destroyed houses from the “Soviet era” battles.

The Taliban is positioned right behind the hills. Its fighters attack the armed forces of Afghanistan at least once a month.

Right before Taliban moved in

Almost 16 years after the NATO invasion and consequent occupation of the country, this village, as thousands of other villages in Afghanistan, has no access to electricity, and to drinking water. There is no school within walking distance, and even a small and badly equipped medical post is far from here, some 5 kilometers away. Here, an average family of 6 has to survive on US$130 dollars per month, and that’s only if some members are actually working in the city.

I ask Mr. Rahmat Gul, who used to be a teacher in a nearby town, whether the “Russian times” were better.

He hesitated for almost one minute, and then replied vaguely:

When the Russians were here, there was lots of shooting… It was real war… People used to die. During the jihad period, the Mujahedeen were positioned over there… they were shooting from those hills, while Soviet tanks were stationed near the river. Many civilians were caught in the crossfire.

As I got ready to ask him more questions, my interpreter began to panic:

Let’s go! Taliban is coming.

He’s always calm. When he gets nervous, I know it is really time to run. We ran; just stepping on the accelerator and driving at breakneck speed towards the main road.

*****

Before we parted, Mr. Wahed Tooryalai grabbed my hand. I knew he wanted to say something essential. I waited for him to formulate it. Then it came, in rusty but still excellent Russian:

Sometimes I feel so hurt, so angry. Why did Gorbachev abandon us? Why? We were doing just fine. Why did he leave us? If he hadn’t betrayed us, life in Afghanistan would be great. I wouldn’t have to be a UN driver… I used to be the deputy director of an enormous bread factory, with 300 people working there: we were building our beloved country, feeding it. I hope Putin will not leave us.

Then he looked at me, straight into my eyes, and suddenly I got goose bumps as he spoke, and my glasses got foggy:

Please tell Mr. Putin: do hold our hand, as I’m now holding yours. Tell him what you saw in my country; tell him that we Afghans, or at least many of us, are still straight, strong and honest people. All this will end, and we will send the Americans and Europeans packing. It will happen very soon. Then please come and stand by us, by true Afghan patriots! We are here, ready and waiting. Come back, please.

*****

A son of the super elite Afghan ‘exiles’ living in London, once ‘shouted’ at me, via Whatsapp, after I dared to criticize one of the officially-recognized gurus of the Western anti-communist left, who happened to be his religiously admired deity:

I’m completely amazed that you’d do such a thing. Then again, you’re Russian… And Russians held a strange superiority complex about dominating the whole Asian & African continents – even when nobody invited or asked them to. Historical examples are plenty… Don’t go to a country to report about what’s actually going on when you can’t even speak the language!

This was his tough verdict on Russia and on my work; a verdict of ‘Afghan man in London’, who never even touched work in his entire life, being fully sustained by his morally corrupted family. He never travelled much, except when his father took him on one of the official diplomatic visits. He has been drinking, taking drugs and hating everything that fights, that defies the Empire. From President Duterte in the Philippines, to Maduro in Venezuela, and Assad in Syria. After he was taken out of Afghanistan at an extremely early age, he never set foot on its soil.

All of his knowledge was accumulated ‘second-hand’, but he is quick to pass endless moral judgments, and he is actually taken seriously by one of the most influential and famous ‘opposition’ figures in the West. It is because he is an Afghan, after all, and because he has a perfect English accent, and his ‘conclusions’ are ‘reasonable’, at least to some extent acceptable by the regime, and therefore trustworthy. He and others like him know perfectly well when to administer the required dose of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian sentiments, or when to choose well-tolerated anarcho-syndicalism over true revolutionary fervor.

Again in London, a lady from an Afghan diplomatic circle, who still takes pride in being somehow left-leaning (despite her recent history of serving the West), recalled with nostalgia and boasting pride:

Once when I got sick, I travelled with my husband from Kabul to Prague, for medical treatment. It was in 80’s, and we took with us 5,000 dollars. You know, in those days in Czechoslovakia this was so much money! Our friends there never saw so much cash in their lives. We really had great time there.

I listened politely and thought: ‘Damn, in those days, my two Czech uncles were building sugar mills, steel factories and turbines for developing countries like Syria, Egypt, Lebanon. I’m not sure whether they also worked in Afghanistan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. It was their internationalist duty and they were hardly making US$500 per month. The salary of my father, a leading nuclear scientist, who was in charge of the safety of VVR power plant reactors, was at that time (and at the real exchange) well under US$200 a month. These were very honest, hard-working people, doing their duty towards humanity. And then someone came from Kabul, from the capital of one of the poorest countries in Asia, recipient of aid and internationalist help from basically all Soviet Block countries, and blows 5.000 bob in just a few days!’

In those days, socialist Czechoslovakia was helping intensively, various revolutionary and anti-colonialist movements, all over the world. Even Ernesto Che Guevara was treated there, between his campaign in Congo, and his final engagement in Bolivia.

But the lady did not finish, yet:

Once we crossed the border and travelled to the Soviet Union by land. You cannot imagine the misery we encountered in the villages, across the border! Life was much tougher there than on our side. Of course Moscow was different: Moscow was the capital, full of lights, truly impressive…

Was that really so? Or was this official narrative that has been injected through the treasonous elites into the psyche of both Afghans and foreigners?

I listened, politely. I like stories, no matter from which direction they are coming. I took mental notes.

Then, back in Afghanistan, I asked Mr. Shakar Karimi point blank:

You were travelling back and forth, between Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union. Was life in the Afghan countryside better than in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan?

He stared at me, shocked. When my question finally fully sank into his brain, he began laughing:

Soviet villages were so much richer, there could not be any comparison. They had all necessary facilities there, from electricity to water, schools and medical posts, even public transportation: either train or at least a bus. No one could deny this, unless they’d be totally blind or someone would pay them not to see! Of course Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, was totally different story: it was a huge and very important Soviet city, with theaters, museums, parks, hospitals and universities. But even the villages were, for us, shockingly wealthy. Culture at both sides of the border was, however, similar. And while the Soviets were engaged here in Afghanistan, things began developing at our side of the border, too.

But who would listen to Mr. Shakar Karimi from Pole Charkhi Village, on the outskirts of Kabul. He hardly spoke English, and he had no idea how to be diplomatic and ‘acceptable’ to Londoners or New Yorkers. And what he was saying was not what was expected from the Afghans to say.

During my previous trip to Afghanistan, over the phone from Kabul, I suggested to my friend, another ‘elite’ Afghan exile, that the next time she should come with me, at least for a few days, in order to reconnect, to breath the air of the city that she has been claiming she missed so desperately, for so many years. Reply was curt, but somehow predictable:

Me, coming back like this; incognito? You don’t understand, my family is so important! When I finally go back, it will be a big, big deal!

It is very strange, but Afghans that I know from Afghanistan are totally different from those I meet in Europe and North America. So are Afghans who are going back, regularly, to their beloved country, and who are ‘connected’, even engaged.

In Rome, I met Afghan Princess Soraya. I was invited to Italy by several left-wing MP’s representing 5 Stelli (‘5 Star Movement’) and during our lunch together, when learning about my engagement in Afghanistan, they exclaimed: “You have to meet ‘our’ Afghan Princess!”

They called her on a mobile phone. She was in her 60s, but immediately she jumped on her bicycle and pedaled to the Parliament area in order to meet me. She was shockingly unpretentious, and endlessly kind. With her, nothing was a ‘big deal’. “Come meet me in the evening in the old Jewish Ghetto,” she suggested. “There will be an opening of a very interesting art exhibition there, in one of the galleries.”

We met again, in the evening. She was very critical of the occupation of her country by the NATO forces. She had no fear, nothing to hide. She had no need to play political games.

I’m going back to Kandahar, in couple of weeks. Please let me know when you are going back to my country. I’ll arrange things for you. We’ll show you around Kandahar.

*****

In the meantime, I got used to Afghanistan; to its terrain, its stunning beauty, to its bitter cold in the winter and stifling heat of the summers, to its curtness, its exaggerated politeness and even to its hardly bearable roughness, which always surfaces at least once in a while. But I never got used to all of those upper-class ‘refugees’, people who have left Afghanistan permanently; to those who later betrayed, and then betrayed again, spreading false information about their country, serving Western media/propaganda outlets or as diplomats of the puppet state abroad, making a lucrative living out of their treason and out of the misery of their own people. I don’t think that I will ever get used to them. In a way, they are even worse than NATO, or at least equally as bad, and more deadly and venomous than the Taliban.

There are many ways how one can betray his or her country. There are also countless reasons and justifications for treason. Historically, Western colonialists developed entire networks of local, “native” collaborators, all over the world. These people have been ready and willing to run down their devastated countries, on behalf of the European and later, US imperialists, in exchange for prominent positions, titles and ‘respect’. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is not an exception.

On 21 January 2010, even Kabul Press had apparently enough, and it published a damning article “Afghan UN Ambassador’s $4.2 million Manhattan apartment”, referring to the super-luxury residence of then Afghan UN Ambassador, Zahir Tanin:

Among the billions of dollars being spent propping up the Karzai government are some choice bits of New York City real estate. Number 1 is a 2,400 sq. ft. 3-bedroom corner apartment in the Trump World Tower, one of the world’s most expensive addresses. It was chosen by Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who lives there with his wife.

According to Kabul press sources, eight other diplomats working in the Mission’s offices live about one hour away. The average rent for them is over $20,000 per month—extremely pricey even for Manhattan real estate. The previous Ambassador, Mr. Farhadi paid only $7,000 per month for all rent and expenses.

Other ambassadors, like Taib Jawad (Afghan Abmassador to the U.S.) are living in luxury residences, why not me?” our source quotes Tanin as saying.

*****

So many Afghans have left, many betrayed, but others are refusing to bend, remaining proud and honest.

During my previous visit to the country, I worked along the road separating the districts 3 and 5 in Kabul, photographing literally decomposing bodies of drug-users.

In June 2017 I returned, but this time I dared to film the people living under the bridges, and in deep infested hovels. Later I walked on the riverbank, trying to gain some perspective and to film from various angles.

Someone was making threatening gestures from the distance; someone else aimed a gun at me. I ducked for cover.

“Not very welcoming place, is it?” I heard loud laughter behind my back. Someone spoke perfect English.

I turned back. A well-dressed man approached me. We exchanged a few words. I explained what I was doing here and he understood immediately.

“Here is my card,” he said. Muhammad Maroof (Sarwan), Vice-President of the Duniya Construction Company,” it read. He continued:

I came to this warehouse here to deliver my products, and I saw you filming. You’re lucky you were not hit by a bullet.

“I want to talk,” he said, pointing his hand at the bridge. “Don’t film me, just take notes. You can quote me, even use my name.”

He explained that he used to work for the US military, as an interpreter.

Then he began speaking, clearly and coherently:

The biggest mafias here are directly linked to both UK and US. The West lies that they want to stop trade with drugs in Afghanistan; they never will allow it to stop.

My brother is a writer and he has images of the U.S. army giving water pumps, studs and other basic stuff, for the growth of poppies. The biggest supporter of drugs production in Afghanistan, and the export, is the UK government. They are dealing directly with the locals, even giving them money… The UK is also the major market for the export. Helmand, Kandahar, you name it, from there, directly, transport planes are taking off and going straight towards Europe, even the US. The Westerners are people who physically put drugs into the airplane at our airports.

My relative was an interpreter for the British… He was killed by them, after he had been witnessing and interpreting at a meeting between the UK officials, and the local drug mafias.

I was wondering whether he was certain he wanted to speak on the record. My interpreter was standing by, apparently impressed by what he was witnessing. Mr. Maroof did not hesitate:

I have nothing to hide. They are destroying my country right in front of my eyes. What could be more horrifying than that? The Western occupation is ruining Afghanistan. I want the world to be aware of it, and I don’t care what could happen to me!

*****

Not all the opposition to the present regime in Kabul is fighting for true independence and progressive ideals. Some have close links with the West or/and with the Mujahedeen.

In Kabul, in June 2017, inside a makeshift camp built near the site of a devastating explosion which in May killed at least 90 people, injuring 400, I met with Ramish Noori, the spokesperson of Haji Zahir Qadir’s “Uprising for Change”. The powerful “Uprising” counts on at least a 1,000-men strong militia, one which is locked in brutal combat with ISIS (Daesh), and which has already beheaded several terrorist fighters in ‘retaliatory’ actions.

Mr. Noory clearly indicated that the goal of his group is to force the present government to resign, even if that would have to happen with the help of foreign countries:

We were shot at in Kabul and 6 protesters were killed, 21 injured. Professional Special Forces of Ashraf Ghani shot those who were killed point blank, in the face. Instead of killing terrorists, this government is killing innocent protesters; people who came to demand security after that barbaric terrorist attack which took lives of 90 people. We actually believe that many government officials are responsible for the killings. We also think that the government is helping to coordinate attacks of the terrorists.

Mr. Samir, one of the protesters, began shouting in anger:

The government is killing its own people, and so we want both Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to resign. We want an entire reset of the Afghan system. Look what is happening all around the country: killings, bomb blasts and unbridled corruption!

But when I press them hard, I feel that behind their words there is no sound ideology, just geographically swappable ‘civil society talk’. And perhaps some power struggle as well.

I don’t know who is supporting them, who is behind them, but I feel that someone definitely is. What they say is right, but it is how they say it that worries me.

I ask Ramish Noori about the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and suddenly there is a long pause. Then a brief answer in a slightly uncomfortable tone of voice:

We are ready to work with any country that is supporting our position.

“Can I stop by later today?” I ask.

Of course. Anytime. We’ll be here till the morning. We are expecting the Mujahedeen to join us in the early hours.

Mujahedeen?

Next time I will investigate further.

*****

I visited the British Cemetery in Kabul. Not out of some perverse curiosity, but because, during my last visit, I was given this tip by a Russian cultural attaché:

See how patient, how tolerant Afghan people are… After all that has been done to them…

I’m glad that I went. The cemetery puts the events of the last 2 centuries into clear perspective. To a clear British perspective…

Full of patriotic sentimentality, The Telegraph once described this place as: “Afghanistan: The corner of Kabul that is forever England.”

There was no repentance, no soul-searching, no questions asked, like: What was England doing here, thousands of miles away from its shores, again and again… and again?”

Above the names of fallen English soldiers, there was a sober but unrepentant dedication:

This memorial is dedicated to all those British officers and soldiers who gave their lives in the Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th century. Renovated by the officers and soldiers of the British Contingent of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. February 2002. “We Shall Remember Them”

The cemetery is well kept. There is no vandalism and no graffiti. In Afghanistan, the death of Englishmen, Spaniards and other foreigners is respected.

Unfortunately, the death of Afghan people is not even worth commemorating, anymore.

How many Afghans did those British troops massacre, in two long centuries? Shouldn’t there be a monument, somewhere in Kabul, to those thousands of victims of British imperialism? Perhaps there will be… one day, but not anytime soon.

Again I drove to Bagram, filming the monstrous walls of the US military and air force base.

Poppy growing next to US airforce base in Bagram

Again I saw children with toy guns, running and imitating landing combat helicopters.

Again I saw misery, right next to the gates of the base; poor women covered by burkas, babies in their arms, sitting in stifling heat on speed bumps, begging.

I saw amputees, empty stares of poor local people.

All this destitution, just a few steps away from tens of billions of dollars wasted on high-tech military equipment, which has succeeded in breaking the spirit of millions of Afghan people, but never in ‘liberating the country from terrorism’, or poverty.

I drove to the village of Dashtak, in Panjshir Valley, to hear more stories about those jihadi cadres who were based here during the war with the Soviet Union.

I was stopped, detained, interrogated, on several occasions, sometimes ten times per day: On the Afghan-Pakistani border which has recently experienced fighting between two countries, in Kabul, Jalalabad, Bargam. I lost track of who was who: police, army, security forces, local security forces, or militias?

In front of Jalalabad Airport I tried to film an enormous US blimp drone, on its final approach before landing. I asked my driver to make a U-turn, my drift HD camera ready. One minute later, the military stopped the car, aiming its guns at us. I had to get out, put my hands on a wall, and surrender my mobile phones. After our identity was verified from Kabul, one of the soldiers explained:

Yesterday, exactly the same Toyota Corolla drove by, made the same U-turn and then blew itself up, next to this wall…

In Jalalabad, I spoke to a police officer wounded at the national Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) station, during a terrorist attack.

It all felt surreal. The entire country seems to be dissolving; yet it is refusing to fall, to collapse. It is still standing. And despite rubble, fighting and the insane cynicism of the elites, there is still hope, and even some optimism left.

I’m trying to understand.

“Afghans living abroad keep spreading false rumors that we are finished, that everybody wants to leave,” explains Arif, my driver and interpreter. “But it’s not true. More and more people want to stay home, to improve things, to rebuild our motherland. She is beautiful, isn’t she?”

We are passing through a winding road, enormous mountains on both sides, and a river with crystal-clear water just a few meters away.

“She is,” I say. “Of course, she is.”

*****

We stopped near a small mosque, almost clinging to a cliff. It was the month of Ramadan. Arif was diligent; he went to pray. I also left the car and went to look into a deep and stunning ravine. Another car arrived; an off-roader, most likely an armored vehicle. The driver killed the engine. Three heavily armed men descended. They left their machine guns near the entrance to the mosque, washed their feet, and then went inside to pray.

Before they entered, we all nodded at each other, politely.

Surprisingly, I did not feel threatened. I never did, in Afghanistan.

The scenery reminded me of South America, most likely of Chile – tremendous peaks, a deep valley, serpentines and powerful river down below.

I felt strong and alive in Afghanistan. Many things have gone wrong in this country, but almost everything was clear, hardly any bullshit. Mountains were mountains, rivers were rivers, misery was misery and fighters were fighters, good or bad. I liked that. I liked that very much.

“Arif,” I asked, sipping Argentinian jerba mate from my elaborate metal straw, as we were gradually approaching Kabul. It was Malta Cruz, a common, harsh mate, but a decent one.

Do you think I can get Afghan citizenship if we kick out Yanks and Europeans, defeat Taliban and Daesh, and rebuild socialist paradise here?

I was joking, just joking, after a long and exhausting day of work around Jalalabad.

However, Arif looked suddenly very serious. He slowed the car down.

You like? You like Afghanistan that much?

“Hmmm,” I nodded.

“I think, if we win, they’ll make sure to give you Afghan nationality,” he finally concluded.

We were still very far from winning. After returning me to my hotel, he categorically refused to take money for his work. I insisted, but he kept refusing.

It all felt somehow familiar and good. Back in my hotel room, exhausted, I collapsed onto the bed, fully dressed. I fell asleep immediately.

Then, late at night, there were two loud explosions right under the hill.

Afghanistan is here. You love it or hate it, or anything in between. But you cannot cheat: you are here and if you know how to see and feel, then you slowly begin to know. Or you are not here, and you cannot understand or judge it at all. No book can describe Afghanistan, and I’m wondering whether even films can. Maybe poetry can, maybe a theatre play or a novel can, but I’m not sure, yet.

All I know is that it is alive, far from being finished. Its heart is pulsating; its body is warm. If someone tells you that it is finished, don’t trust him. Come and see for yourself; just watch and listen.

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

The US Empire, the CIA, and the NGOs

The Ancient Greeks knew: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” No less a figure than the late Zbigniew Brzezinski and the CIA made use of this saying by recruiting the Muslim Brotherhood to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which led to the withdrawal of the Soviets from the Hindu Kush. Since then, the CIA used the mercenaries to fight more proxy wars in the Balkans, Chechnya, and Azerbaijan. Due to the wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen the US and its vassal states created sectarian violence that led to civil wars. Right now, the CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood are present in the form of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

No one has studied this triad more intensively than F. William Engdahl who is a renowned geopolitical analyst, risk consultant, author, and lecturer. Engdahl was born in Minneapolis/MN, and grew up in Texas. After earning a degree in politics from Princeton University, and graduate study in comparative economics at Stockholm University, he worked as an economist and investigative journalist in the US and Europe. He was named Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology and delivers talks and private seminars around the world on different aspects of economics and politics with the focus on geopolitical events. For the last 30 years, Engdahl has been living in Germany.

He has written numerous best-selling books on oil and geopolitics: The Lost Hegemon: Whom The Gods Would Destroy, The CIA as Organized Crime, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, and not to forget: Target China to name only a few. His books are translated into 14 foreign languages.

His latest book on the role of the NGOs focuses on their involvement in US regime change operations and in steering up fabricated mass protests to facilitate the efforts of the US Empire and the CIA to replace resilient national oriented governments by obedient ones that will execute the Washington agenda. All this happens under the pretext of democracy à la US-American style.

The following interview focuses on Engdahl’s latest book in German Secret files NGOs (Geheimakte NGOs).

Ludwig Watzal:  I guess we could agree upon the fact that the CIA is the world’s worst terror organization. After WW II, hardly any coup d’état or organized uprising happened without the helping hand of the CIA. As I understood your book, in the last 25 years, the CIA got quite a few so-called little helpers in the form of NGOs. Please, could you elaborate on that?

William Engdahl: During the Reagan Presidency very damaging scandals were becoming public about CIA dirty operations around the world. Chile, Iran, Guatemala, the top secret MK-Ultra project, the student movement during the Vietnam War to name just a few. To take the spotlight away from them, CIA Director Bill Casey proposed to Reagan creating a “private” NGO, a kind of cut-out that would pose as private, but in reality, as one of its founders the late Allen Weinstein said in a later interview to the Washington Post, “doing what the CIA did, but privately.” This was the creation of the NGO named National Endowment for Democracy in 1983. Soon other Washington-steered NGOs were added like the Freedom House or the Soros Open Society Foundations, the United States Institute of Peace and so forth.

The money was often channeled via USAID of the State Department to hide its origin. Every major regime attack by the US Government since then including the Solidarnosc in Poland, the Yeltsin CIA-backed Russia coup, the 2004 Ukraine Orange Revolution, the 2008 Tibet riots, the Arab Spring of 2011 to today—all have been done by this group of very select “democracy” NGOs. Little wonder that countries like Russia and China or Hungary act to ban them as “undesirable NGOs.”   

LW: You quote Allen Weinstein, co-author of the founding act of the NGO National Endowment for Democracy (NED), saying; “Much of what we do today was done 25 years ago by the CIA.” Are the US NGOs such as NED, CIPE, USAID, NDI, not to speak of the Soros network, the fifth column of the CIA?

WE: As I indicated above, I would say so in my opinion. Invariably their NGO agenda fits the given agenda of Washington foreign policy. Coincidence? I don’t believe so.

LW: Your critic focused mainly on a few US NGOs or would you include all non-governmental organizations in general? Aren’t all these NGOs driven by a good mind and noble deeds to spread democracy and freedom around the world?

WE: This is the devil in the concept of Bill Casey. Hiding very black dirty anti-democratic CIA operations behind private political NGOs waving the banner of “Human Rights” has been very effective for Washington’s global agenda of toppling un-cooperative regimes around the world. In effect the CIA has weaponized human rights. Curiously useful regimes for Washington such as Saudi Arabia go unbothered by calls for democracy. Their oil billions finance Washington’s global terrorism agenda.

Take the recent case of the fake democracy White Helmets NGO in Syria doing propaganda in intimate cooperation with ISIS, to justify the US-led war against the duly elected Assad regime. White Helmets get money reportedly from Soros Foundations, from the US and UK governments and were created by a former British Army Intelligence officer James Le Mesurier. Their atrocity videos have repeatedly been exposed as fake, staged by actors. Their alleged Sarin gas video showing unprotected White Helmets “first responders” handling alleged Sarin gas victims with no protective HAZMAT protection is a joke, a fake as was exposed widely after by a number of HAZMAT Sarin gas experts.

The Washington–or EU in some cases—political NGOs are effective because they can attract many innocent good-willed people. I recently received a very touching personal letter from a European Medical Doctor who had been 18 months working with the best humanitarian intention with Doctors without Borders in South Sudan before their US-backed independence. She was so grateful after reading my NGO book as she could understand all the seeming irrational directions their American Doctors Without Borders leader gave the staff. She quit because of burnout and now said she understands why. Honest doctors were being used by Washington for secret political agendas. South Sudan was target because China was receiving a major share of her oil from there via Khartoum.

Of course, not all NGOs are doing the work of the CIA. I focus on the ones with a hidden political agenda, who, as I describe in the book, have weaponized human rights and the word democracy for devious ends.

LW: In 1984, the hedge fund-Billionaire George Soros, established in Budapest the Soros Foundation. His first target was Poland. Pope John Paul II and US President Ronald Reagan met in 1982 at the Vatican to discuss the destabilization of the Communist Bloc. In this endeavor, has there also been an involvement of the Soros Foundation?

WE: The Soros Foundation established the Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw in 1988 to train activists to ultimately topple the Communist regime. They played a major role “building democracy” and immediately after the collapse in Poland of the government of General Czesław Kiszczak in August, 1989. Soros brought Harvard University “Shock Therapy” economist Jeffrey Sachs into Poland to push privatization of state enterprises, create a hyperinflation and open choice Polish state assets for auction to western investors like friends of Soros for pennies or then, for pfennig.

LW:  The two chapters on the plundering of the former Soviet Union by the CIA, Soros and his Harvard Boys in cooperation with the Yeltsin clan and former KGB official is quite shocking. Please, elaborate on this Mafia-like undertaking.

WE: I have to refer readers to the book as the treatment has been cross-checked and is exhaustive. In brief, the CIA under the direction of then-President George H.W. Bush managed to corrupt several very high-ranking KGB generals who recruited a network of young Komsomol or Communist Union of Youth proteges such as Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky to become their hand-picked “oligarchs” to plunder the State assets for pennies compared to their true worth. This was the infamous “voucher” scandal that valued the entire state assets including oil and gas, machine-making companies, high-tech, all at a little under $16 billion. They literally raped Russia for personal gain. And the CIA and its network of Western banks such as Riggs Bank in Washington allowed them to launder the money out of Russia. Even I was shocked to verify the details. It was criminal. Yeltsin was their boy. Some said so long as his supply of good Vodka was guaranteed he would do anything Soros and his Harvard economists demanded.

The interesting point to note is that President G.H.W. Bush, former director of the CIA, ordered three simultaneous NGO destabilizations in the same year, 1989.  The three were Russia, China in Tiananmen Square and Yugoslavia. The book documents this in great detail.

LW:  After Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin as Russia’s President, he immediately stopped the robbing of Russia. Do you think that could be one cause why the political class in Washington hates and demonizes him to such an extent, which is irrational?

WE: Putin came from a Russian nationalist faction (as opposed to what were called cosmopolitan or internationalist faction) of the KGB and its successor. They knew they had to act with stealth until their grip was secure in 2000 when Yeltsin was forced to quietly “retire” or face revelations and Yeltsin was convinced to name Putin acting President.

There has been an undeclared war against a stable nation-state in Russia since well before 1917. The founder of Stratfor, George Friedman, one of the better informed American analysts of geopolitics and former consultant to the Pentagon and CIA among others, recently gave an interview after the CIA Ukraine “coup d’ etat” which Friedman called “the most blatant coup in US history.” That if you recall was the one where Viktoria Nuland as US Assistant Secretary of State went to Kiev and handed out candy bars to the protesters in Maidan Square and telephoned her contempt for the EU to the US Ambassador in Kiev.

Friedman noted what I have documented in my various other books such as Mit der Ölwaffe zur Weltmacht, that the foreign policy of the United States of America for at least the past century as the USA emerged on the decline of the British Empire, the US foreign policy priority has been to prevent at all costs the merging of economic interests and cooperation between especially Germany and Russia. The world has undergone two world wars because of this unfortunate geopolitical dogma of US foreign policy, a dogma taken over from the British and from the father of British geopolitics, Sir Halford Mackinder.

Washington hates and demonizes Putin for the reason he has moved deliberately to stabilize Russia as a great nation, which it truly is as I can attest from almost 25 years of personal experience. And as a result of Washington’s demonization, Putin’s influence in the world seems only to grow stronger—first with China, then Eurasia nations, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, even the Philippines and Latin America. The world is becoming fed up with the endless agenda of overt and covert USA wars everywhere. We need to look closely behind the Trump words and very soon we find the same old, degenerate oligarchs and their so-called deep-state of unelected bureaucrats at work.  

LW:  The dismantling of Yugoslavia was a catastrophe. The Germans under the chancellorship of Gerhard Schroeder and his infamous foreign minister Joschka Fischer joined forces with Clinton to overthrow the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. In this coup-like operation, were there also NGOs involved? And what was their strategy?

WE: Yes. Follow the subsequent career of Mr. Fischer. A street thug from the 1968 Frankfurt protests becomes crowned by the USA and its mainstream media as a statesman, apparently the reward for delivering the Green Party vote for bombing Yugoslavia in 1999. After office, Fischer got an honorary teaching post at my Alma Mater, Princeton. Later George Soros invites Mr Fischer on to his new European council on Foreign Relations think tank.

In terms of the toppling of Slobodan Milosevic, the US government and its select NGOs including NED and Soros foundations, organized, financed, and trained key student leaders and others in a successful coup, under the name Otpor! (Resistance!), with the now -ubiquitous logo of the threatening clenched fist. Serbian translations of Gene Sharp’s writings on nonviolent action were used and the key leaders were personally trained by Sharp’s associate US Army colonel Robert Helvey in secret meeting places to avoid police. Otpor! got by some estimates as much as $30 million from U.S. government-linked organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency for International Development (USAID). The destruction of Yugoslavia was orchestrated since the 1980’s by Washington, first Bush Sr. then Clinton. The aim was to create a war in Europe to justify the continued presence of a NATO whose raison d’être after the collapse of the Soviet Union was hard to justify to American taxpayers or to the Europeans who were planning an independent European Defense Pillar apart from NATO. For Washington and the influential US military industrial complex such independence was tabu!. The second aim was to establish a huge US military presence later in Kosovo called Camp Bond Steel.

LW:  When the Arab masses went into the streets of Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli, the Western media, and political class were thrilled. Finally, democracy, freedom, and human rights found their way into the Arab world. Were these uprisings spontaneous or were they organized and orchestrated from outside forces?

WE: The entire Arab Spring was secretly planned and financed by Washington and US-financed NGOs. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a key figure along with her bizarre Muslim Brotherhood assistant Huma Abedin. The RAND Corporation, which is a Pentagon think tank responsible for developing the technique of mob “swarming” like bees, as a way using facebook and social media to steer protests, played a key role.

The protest student groups in Egypt were US-trained, again using translations of Gene Sharp, they were brought to Europe to be secretly trained by the leaders of Otpor!.

In the case of Libya’s Qaddafi, a more urgent regime change was deemed necessary as the now-famous DCLeaks and Wikileaks emails of Hillary to her private adviser Sidney Blumenthal reveal. Qaddafi, who contrary to his demonized image had built up Libya with the highest living standard in all Africa, was about to unveil creation of an alliance of Muslim central banks and introduction of a Gold Dinar currency for oil sales not US dollars. He was doing so together with Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. As Hillary wrote to Blumenthal, that had to be blocked by whatever means. The means to “block” were the illegal bombing of Libya and the assassination of Qaddafi and turning Libya into a field of rubble. The original Pentagon-CIA-State Department plan called for the immediate toppling of another thorn in Washington’s side immediately after Qaddafi, that was Bashar al Assad in Syria. That has not worked out well for the Washington planners and a great human tragedy unnecessarily has grown out of 6 years of what essentially is a US-led war there.

LW:  In the old days, the conquerors brought in its wake the missionaries. Today, the Western neo-colonial powers come with hundreds of NGOs who teach the indigenous population how Western democracy is supposed to function. Do you think the NGOs serve the interest of these people? What about the German NGOs who especially carry a lot of ideological ballast, for example, in the form of gender mainstreaming with them? What do you make of that?

WE: I think your analogy with the “Christian” missionaries of the past and the “Human Rights” or “democracy” NGOs today is very fitting. I am not competent to comment on the activities of various German NGOs. My main focus is Washington, the hegemonic power today and source of so much that is destructive, unfortunately.

LW: At the beginning and at the end of your book you refer to George Orwell’s double think that means “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.” Do we live in times where the original meanings of words become different contents? Do the US Empire and its vassal states wage war in the name of democracy and destroy the nation states with the same democratic rhetoric?

WE: This is why I found the Orwell quote so appropriate. His book 1984 in many ways is a description of what has been allowed to happen to our western democracies, especially in Britain and the USA.

LW: If you could give the NGOs a piece of advice, what would you tell them?

WE: For the honest persons who may have got caught up in nice rhetoric about values, human rights and such, I would suggest looking more closely at the money trail feeding your given NGO. For the NED or Soros foundations I would suggest they would all do mankind a favor by shutting their doors permanently. That you allow nations and individuals to decide their own sovereign future without your unwanted meddling. I would say, to paraphrase Cromwell to the British Long Parliament, ”You human rights NGOs, Go! You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

LW: Mr. Engdahl, thanks for the interview.

WE: Thank you for your interest and excellent questions.

On Which Side are You, Anyway?

Let’s be honest. The only reason anyone in the West, perhaps with the exception of Germans, is interested in the Ukraine is because since the current state was carved out of the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Poland following the Great War, it has been the focus of attacks on the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. The number of states or countries where political instability is aggravated by ethnic, religious or nationality conflicts is great. The number of places that draw attention or better said are targeted for mass media attention is far smaller. This is certainly not a question of just dessert.

It would do well to remember that the most notorious interest in the Ukraine as a territory was that of the German Empire under the rule of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP aka Nazis). Not only did the NSDAP recruit an enormous following during its reign, but the Ukraine also provided division strength Waffen SS units with which war against Jews, Communists, nationalists and the Soviet Union was waged. In fact, the British Empire adopted some 7,000 members of the Ukrainian 14th Volunteer Division SS Galizia who had surrendered in the wake of Soviet victory on 10 May 1945 and shipped them to Britain to become citizens and where they were to wait as silent reserves for the covert war to be fought subsequently against the Soviet Union. When people in Britain became aware of this fact the intervention of the US secret services prevented all but one or two of these war criminals from being indicted or tried as such. I say “war criminals” because one of the outcomes of the Nuremberg trials was to declare inter alia the NSDAP and the SS (Schutzstaffel) criminal organisations. Hence the Waffen SS, the paramilitary part of the SS attached to the German regular army (Wehrmacht), was prima facie a criminal organisation and not treated as a regular military branch of the German armed forces.1 This was so obvious that even the renowned German liberal author, Gunter Grass, felt compelled to conceal his youthful inspiration to join this outfit—not unlike many Americans who for generations have been impressed by the smart uniforms and elite reputation of the US Marine Corps.2

Leaving the individual guilt or innocence of those who spent their “national service” in this esteemed combat formation aside, there can be no doubt that much of the legacy of what we call war crimes, as opposed to simply being on the losing side, is based on the historically unique decisions taken by the International Tribunal constituted in London to dispense what US chief prosecutor Robert Jackson insisted ought not to go down in history as mere victors’ justice.3 So when a coup d’etat in Kiev led to the domination of the Ukraine government by members of parties whose acknowledged hero was the Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, anyone who had the least recollection of Ukrainian Nazis was bound to be disturbed—assuming they were of the anti-Nazi or anti-fascist persuasion.4

At the same time given the historical record of Western support for Nazis, the pretence that this event was merely a result of conflicts over potential alliance between the Kiev government and the EU/NATO is absurd on its face. However, instead of this history and continuous policy of the forces that have driven NATO since its founding, the focus of attention to the Ukraine crisis has been the question of whether an independent Ukraine is entitled to combine with the European Union and its armed wing or compelled by history or nature to remain in what 19th century-style geo-politicians (across the entire political spectrum) would call the Russian sphere of influence.

The issues are even further clouded by the unstated but deeply held belief—here again across virtually the entire Western political spectrum—that to oppose Russia’s interest in the Ukraine is nothing less than defending freedom itself.

The principal domestic issues for the Ukraine—aside from the question of who controls the country and its resources—is not much different from those that plague all countries who were “freed” from the Soviet Union in 1989-90 after its political and economic collapse. These include the targeting of their cheap labour, their agricultural potential, and the overall capacity for super-exploitation by a European Union, especially Germany, in search of higher profit rates. The rapacious investment practices which have plundered the Baltic States, turned the state-owned—albeit bureaucratic fiefdoms—of the former Soviet Union, and more importantly the population of Europe east of the Oder-Neisse border into a freebooter’s paradise, have forced many of the people inhabiting the “East” into paupers beyond what they had experienced in the worst years of the war and the Soviet reconstruction period.5 This has led to massive emigration—where possible—and the creation of islands where those highly skilled professionals remaining provide services to Westerners for pennies.6

The obvious counter-argument to this indictment is that the Russian Federation offers no alternative whether because it is still saturated with the remains of the moribund Soviet system under Vladimir Putin or it is dominated by corrupt oligarchies who are ultimately to blame for this poverty.

There is no doubt that neither the Soviet Union nor its successor, the Russian Federation, can defend, either ideologically or practically, claims to being socialist, let alone communist. So to the extent one feels compelled to defend Russia and its policies in comparison to the system the EU/NATO propagates and defends, this defence must be based on real political conditions. Perhaps it is necessary to contemplate—for the sake of argument—some long forgotten Enlightenment philosophy. Let us suppose that the really great and the less great powers compete among each other to offer the best possible conditions of human existence. This competition would be free but amicable. The objective would be to solve all the problems an economy and a polity could face in a manner to produce human happiness. Just for the sake of argument we might take the utilitarian model of the greatest good for the greatest number and given that almost no one pretends to believe in communism this objective is possible under what is called “capitalism”—or to take the US euphemism, “free enterprise”. This is a very generous supposition indeed but let us take its advocates at their word.

The NATO founded in 1949 to defend the US regime’s claim to 60+% of the world’s resources is the American “happiness team”. It would like to win the Ukraine to its side because the team has the best solutions for the happiness of the world’s latent Americans, also those Ukrainians who are just waiting to become American, at least in principle. The cause of the Ukrainian crisis is therefore the Russian refusal to let all these Ukrainians manifest their innately American souls. The reader may laugh. However, he, she or they (assuming a gender role has yet to be fixed) will certainly believe that the Western team is ultimately the one to which everyone should belong, if only to avoid disputes between teams. The great inconvenience lies in the residual idea held by many people; e.g., Russians, Chinese or Koreans, that they are satisfied being Russian, Chinese or Korean. This is incomprehensible even to much of the Left in the West since most believe that with all its faults, the US has only been fighting wars for the past century to free a world crying to become American. Big countries with strange alphabets, heretical religions and histories longer than that of the USA insist on obstructing the march to the Promised Land or at least consumption of the fantasy that one has arrived there.

The basic conflict therefore is between those who believe that everyone—at least in Europe (and white)– ought to be American in spirit or through membership in the EU vicariously sweat through the nightmare on the Potomac. Now add to this the political-economic reality that the EU’s armed wing in its subordination to the US “happiness team” is anything but benignly competitive. Nor is it in the least interested in human happiness for Ukrainians or its own citizens. Together we have a fundamental environmental condition within which any sane discussion of the Ukraine since 1989 must be conducted. Anything else is simply ridiculous.

Chris Kaspar de Ploeg is a journalist, not a historian. That is not a disparagement. It simply means that Ukraine in the Crossfire is an account of current events by someone whose metier is the daily reporting of events, analysis and opinion, as it is presented in mass media. The challenge facing any serious journalist is to render quickly unfolding events intelligible to readers, viewers and listeners. A good journalist not only knows how to produce intelligible reporting but ought to be able to appraise the work of others doing the same job. That is what makes de Ploeg’s book interesting reading.

The mass media is, despite its open access, a very opaque institution. There are several reasons for this. One is that there is a fundamental conflict between the witness to events and the organisational structure through which such witness is transmitted. Major mass media in the West is historically private property. Prior to the great fascist era, roughly from the 1840s until the 1930s, there was an important segment of the mass media owned and operated by political movements; e.g., workers’ associations and parties. These were subjected to heavy censorship but were mainly financed by members of those movements and organisations. They competed with the commercially-owned media and the organs of the Church.

By the end of the 19th century such media was largely subdued in North America by a combination of repression and professionalization. Pulitzer, the US newspaper magnate, founded the first journalism school in the US and stimulated the idea that the only credible journalism was professional—people trained (and later hired by commercial ventures) to produce “objective” news free from any ostensible political interest. In Europe the State intervened to suppress partisan media. This led to the creation of the dubiously renowned BBC in the British Empire and with the rise of fascism on the Continent the violent persecution of competition with the corporate and State-owned media. The State-owned journalist was slowly endowed with a quasi-civil service status giving job security. Under regimes where the commercial media was viewed by the State as insufficiently reliable, it was subjected to all sorts of restrictions some of which were tantamount to censorship or prior restraint.

As a result the independent journalist has actually become quite rare. Either such journalists have developed celebrity status, which insulates them from much official control or they have learned to write in such ways that their product does not directly offend those in power. Throughout the some two hundred years of popular literacy upon which mass print journalism and journalists have been able to thrive there have always been propagandists. These writers or reporters have either officially or unofficially generated product for interest groups who preferred anonymity in order to benefit from the appearance of independence by the journalist. Journalists have worked as spies—and often been treated as such in the countries where they go to report. Journalists have also served as witting and unwitting conduits for official (State and commercial) propaganda. This was the significance of the notorious CIA Operation Mockingbird but also the testimony by CIA director William Colby in which he said the agency maintained close relationships with many in the major media.7

The best a reader and a good and truly independent journalist can do is read multiple outlets and sources, preferably in more than one language. Here it is worth noting that even a common reference source today—Wikipedia—has entries that vary in content from one language to the next on the same subject. This may be a luxury for the average person in search of reliable information but it is one of the tasks that a well-versed and honest journalist can do; namely, analysing the foreign language media when reporting to the target readership/audience.

De Ploeg shows that he understands this. Ukraine in the Crossfire does not rely solely upon the English language coverage. Judging by his references he has spent considerable time reading and analysing the Russian and Ukrainian media. Those who know either language will find reference to those sources, too. He also explicitly tackles the conflicting reports of the same events by partisan media, calling attention to discrepancies as well as convergences. Common sense—if that means anything—will tell the reader that where two violent opponents admit the same facts a higher degree of credibility ought to be attached when drawing conclusions. Nevertheless as in all current events in highly charged conflicts it is unlikely that anyone has the whole picture—even of his or her own side.

Ukraine in the Crossfire comprises twenty-one chapters, a glossary and an index. The chapters are roughly chronological reflecting the beginning of the crisis as it was reported and continuing through different stages and theatres of conflict. He starts with the perception, widely held and disputed, that the crisis arose from a breach of faith by the West (US/ NATO) when as a condition for the peaceful dissolution of the barriers that created the German Democratic Republic and the subsequent withdrawal of the Red Army from Germany, there would be no advances of NATO to the Soviet (now Russian) border. He then briefly explains the composition of the current Republic of the Ukraine and how the mixture of Russians and Ukrainians posed conflict potential within the Ukrainian polity.

Then he moves onto the domestic developments, the decline in the economy and the decision of Ukrainian governments to seek economic aid from the US-dominated Bretton Woods institutions (IMF/World Bank). The foreseeable result (austerity doctrine has been a cornerstone of IMF/World Bank policy since de-colonisation began) aggravated tensions between the ethnically Ukrainian part of the country which is one of Europe’s breadbaskets and the industrialised Russian part with its historical integration into the Soviet/Russian economy. Corruption is then a central theme. With not even the façade of an operating market economy the system of trade and industry was unable to serve the legitimate needs of the people already strained by drastically declining income and living standards.

It is at this point that the economic conflict becomes salient. Industry is concentrated in the Russophone Eastern Ukraine. Its production had been directed to supplying Russia. Western Ukraine exported foodstuffs; e.g., grain to the West. Cheap grain from the Ukraine has enabled more expensive agricultural production in the EU (especially Germany to shift to the non-food sector, like tax-subsidised maize for bio-fuel). Ukrainian manufactured goods were undesired competition in the EU. Hence the emerging policy from the new Kiev regime was to turn as much of the economy toward the West as possible, to the disadvantage of East Ukrainian factories. Moreover a long-standing policy to weaken Russia has been to deny it access to markets. By spoiling Ukrainian industry Russia would be deprived of another traditional trading partner.

The final third of De Ploeg’s book is devoted to the foreign policy objectives of the West (US/NATO) of which subordinating Russia remains a high priority. The Western policy toward Russia is largely governed by the Anglo-American imperial elite. The Russian Empire was almost entirely agricultural until the 1930s when the Soviet Union completed an industrialisation process in approximately 20 years equivalent to what Britain, Germany and the US had taken over a century to accomplish.8

Thus the Soviet Union had become a virtually autarchic economy by the time Germany invaded in 1940. Like industrialisation in the West, the process of restructuring a huge landmass where some 80% of the population were peasants into the second largest industrial economy in the world was accomplished at tremendous human cost—adding to that a civil war prolonged by Western intervention and a world war in which between 20-30 million of the country’s population were killed and its European half burned to the ground.9

The potential for a country like the Soviet Union—never mind its official ideology—to compete with Britain and the US in the world marketplace was the single greatest fear driving the elite in London, New York and Washington. Unlike the new nations emerging as a result of de-colonisation, the Soviet Union/Russia had all the raw materials they needed and the technical capability to develop on their own. Worse than that they could defend themselves from invasion or colonisation and they were able and within their material limits willing to help with arms and technical support precisely those countries the West hoped to dominate despite reluctant grants of independence. All this went under the euphemism “Cold War”—a term intended to deceive citizens in the West about the real nature of US foreign policy since 1945. The “Cold War” was announced to have ended in 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hence most of the debate about the NATO–Russia policy is couched in the new euphemism of “a new cold war”.10 De Ploeg did not invent this confusion but it is one serious problem that his book among many have when trying to explain Russia’s role in the world and the position of NATO—which by all rights should have been abolished in 1989 (if the stated policy of the US were the same as the unstated one).

There are two problems with De Ploeg’s book. One is the limit of the journalistic format in which it is written. The chapters contain a lot of useful information from a variety of sources and thus the book can be seen as a reference for further study. Yet the book lacks an overall framework in which the reader can interpret what De Ploeg has written. In his professional attempt to keep a kind of neutrality of interpretation he fails to offer sufficient structure for the reader to find either a chronology or lines of argument that tie the separate issues together from beginning to end. Thus one has the impression of reading the daily press clippings without any summary of the important facts as they acquire significance later in the period under examination. He attempts to overcome this by drawing on the theoretical approach of one Associate Professor Gordon M. Hahn.11 Hahn is cited four times in the index but it is not quite clear why De Ploeg considers him an authority. The analyses offered about Russia—at least the US sources, rely much on articles that appeared in the US weekly journal, The Nation, as such they often have the archaic sound of that establishment journal’s liberal “Sovietology”, contributing more heat than light when it comes to understanding the Russian Federation.12

One incident that has caused substantial controversy, even among those who are ostensibly sympathetic to Russia’s legitimate interests, is the Crimea. Many who are willing to accept Russia’s interest in protecting Ukrainians of Russian descent or origin stop abruptly when the referendum on the Black Sea peninsula is discussed. It is asserted that Russia had no right to “annex” the Crimea. Mr Putin challenged this interpretation rhetorically with considerable poignancy when he demanded to know why it was considered perfectly legitimate for Kosovo to declare its independence from Serbia and then affirm this with a referendum but NOT legitimate for the inhabitants of the Crimean peninsula to decide their territory should be governed as Russian13—as it had been before Nikita Khrushchev detached the peninsula and assigned it to Ukrainian rule in February 1954—without asking anyone.14 One might add that the US regime has always been a master of annexation. Russia is accused of using its military presence (the Black Sea naval station) to unduly influence the vote. Yet the fact was that the majority of those living in the Crimea are ethnic Russians.

If the US were to be taken seriously, then it would be time to re-examine its Mexican immigrant policy—not from the point of view of permissible migrant labour but from the illegal annexation of Texas by white settlers from the US and the Indian and Mexican wars fought to seize approximately 1/3 of Mexican territory and declare its inhabitants foreigners.15

The seizure of most of the US was accomplished by such settler-colonialism schemes (from whom white South Africans in the NP readily acknowledged their heritage). No Mexicans were allowed to vote to keep Texas in their country. Instead paramilitary brigands together with support from the US regime in Washington helped these invited settlers to overthrow their adopted government and steal nearly a third of the landmass of the continental US. Voting is considered by the UN to be adequate display of the citizens’ will, US opinion not withstanding. The referendum held in Crimea and the reintegration of the peninsula region into the Russian Federation has certainly more legitimacy on its face than the naked use of armed force characteristic of Western practice. The term “annexation” is another case of deliberately deceptive language. It is the same kind of deception that presented the US war against Korea as “an act of unprovoked aggression” when, in fact, Koreans north of the border drawn by the US regime had engaged in a struggle to remove that artificial border and reunite their country.16 Neither Koreans nor Russians were “annexing” themselves.

De Ploeg takes a clear position against the US intervention in the Ukraine. He also gives reasons for his position. However, he does not err on the other side by maintaining an uncritical view of Russia’s policies, to the extent they may benefit ordinary Ukrainians. It is fair to say that no understanding can be gained by a blanket apology for Russian policies. But then a book about the Ukraine should try to tell the reader as much about what happens in that country and not be an alibi for dissecting Putin. Ukraine in the Crossfire is an attempt to tell as much as can be learned from the Media in a comprehensive way for those who cannot read all the relevant sources (e.g. for language reasons). He attempts to assess the impact of the new POTUS on US policy toward Russia. For the first time since the frenzies of the 1950s, associated with US Senator Joseph McCarthy, it seems a tenant in the White House is being accused of working with (or for) the Russians or at least with them against the interests of the US regime. More concern has been raised about alleged election manipulation in 2016 than in either Bush election although no reasonable observer doubts that the little Bush—who had much better relations with Mr Putin if photographs say anything—manipulated election results in key southern states—maybe with Saudi help.

It is by no means clear that a change in the tenant of No. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will change US regime policy toward Russia, except in its manner of presentation to the public. The struggles within the regime’s corporate and government bureaucracies remain largely invisible to the ordinary citizen while the change of faces creates an illusion of change among people focused on celebrity and not political processes. The US “happiness team” with its armed forces swarming about the globe is on the one hand driven by the insatiability of US capitalism/white supremacy to the extent it is the nation’s business model. On the other hand as long as the affairs of other nations are evaluated primarily in terms of “where we go right or wrong” we will continue to miss the point; namely, the responsibility for the conduct of governments and the survival of the regimes of which they are a part belongs foremost to its own subjects/citizenry. All the handwringing about the Ukraine notwithstanding, the real problem for citizens of the EU and US is their inability to control their own ruling class. That inability is then exacerbated when the wars and political terror are allowed to expand beyond the recognised territorial boundaries of states. It is well and good to critique how Ukrainians with or without foreign allies or support operate their State and economy.

However, there is no evidence that anyone in the “West” has the track record of disciplining the ruling class, which might constitute added value in the Ukrainian struggles. It would help enormously if at least the ordinary citizens of the West would learn to apply their common sense respect for neighbours at home to those abroad—by minding their own business. There is no great “freedom machine” and the US/EU does not run a “happiness team”. If Ukraine were in the Congo basin, no one in the West other than military and primary resource bandits, would care who rules the country or by what means. Putting the Ukraine situation in perspective for the non-Ukrainian requires open discussion and knowledge of the facts: facts about the NATO, what it is and does; facts about the relationship between the European and Bretton Woods financial bureaucracy and how this corps of suited felons organises wealth extraction throughout the world; facts about the various forms of overt and covert violence organised to enforce the financial regime; e.g., covert action agencies, military missions and mercenary cut-outs.

Mr De Ploeg is not the only journalist trying to make sense out of the traces. The compilation of articles he offers is a reasonable attempt to manage a very difficult and sensitive subject. The reader is left to himself to frame the data presented. The missing structure is certainly based on the author’s wish to stay as objective as possible. As argued above this is a conceptual weakness of all modern journalism. To that extent it would be unfair to fault him for it in particular.

Any sequence of events reported involves a construction by the reporter. The reporter helps the reader by explaining why an event is presented in a certain sequence. This is essential to good reporting and good history because our purported knowledge base is already thoroughly corrupted. The dictum “he who controls the past, controls the future” has been enhanced by the corollary, “there is neither a past nor a future” but like the never-aging faces in TV and film—we live in an eternal present, punctuated by orgasms and remote-control assassinations.

  1. An exception to the classification of members of the Nazi apparatus as “criminal” was made for those persons conscripted into the Waffen SS.

    This finding by the International Military Tribunal arises in part from the doctrine of “criminal conspiracy” in Anglo-American jurisprudence, whereby planning and attempting a crime is deemed punishable and that the offense extends to the corporate forms such planning and attempts may take. Since the planning as well as the prosecution of the invasions commencing WWII were held to be criminal, those entities directly involved—essentially the NSDAP regime—were deemed, per se, criminal organisations. (A British documentary film covers the action to move the members of SS Galizia to Britain.) Thus the SS formations in the Ukraine constituted criminal organisations too. The doctrine of “conspiracy” constitutes an extremely controversial aspect of criminal law since it contradicts the principle that a person may only be punished for a crime actually committed. Nonetheless, conspiracy remains an important weapon of the State. The US regime applies its so-called RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act 18 USC §§ 1961-1968) both for ostensible crime control as well as for political repression.

  2. Günter Grass (1927–2015) reveals “Ich war Mitglied der Waffen-SS”, Interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany, (August 11, 2006). Grass confessed that he had lied about his wartime history. But explained that what drew him to National Socialism was its “anti-bourgeois attitude”.
  3. Judge Robert H. Jackson, US Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, opening remarks to the IMT proceedings: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgement of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to reason… We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspirations to do justice.” See also the website of The Jackson Center.
  4. Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (1909-1959). Although there is no doubt that Bandera collaborated with the Nazis, this collaboration is often depicted as patriotic and justifiable since it was anti-Soviet nationalism. After the war Bandera worked with the successor organisation to Nazi foreign intelligence service, the Gehlen Organisation (today the BND), restored by the US CIA. He was assassinated in Munich in 1959.
  5. The so-called Oder – Neisse border is the border between the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland. It was agreed between Poland and the government that became the GDR as the final demarcation between the two countries. For decades the FRG refused to recognise this agreement, maintaining claims to territory in Poland that had been part of Prussia and the German Empire. Recognition of the Oder – Neisse border was tacitly given under FRG chancellor Willy Brandt but only became official with the dissolution of the GDR its absorption into the FRG, also known as reunification.
  6. See the extensive work by economist Michael Hudson on this topic, especially with regard to the Baltics.
  7. References to Operation Mockingbird inevitably imply that since it has been exposed it is no longer a program of other government agencies (e.g. CIA). The concept is analogous to money laundering. Propaganda is released to foreign media for dissemination. These reports are then recycled to the target country as “foreign news”—concealing both the original sources and avoiding suspicions that they constitute official lying or manipulation. In the German Wiki article about Mockingbird it is attributed to the US State Department, but under Frank Wisner (head of the Office of Policy Coordination, not explicitly named in the entry), whose department was, in fact, a part of the CIA. The English Wiki article refers to “allegedly a large-scale program of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that began in the early 1950s…”
  8. In fact, the Soviet Union effectively completed two massive industrialisation processes between 1917 and Stalin’s death. The second was occasioned by the West’s war led by Germany, which destroyed most of the infrastructure built in the European part of Russia. A massive relocation of industrial plant to the country’s Asian interior enabled it to continue to produce up to 80% of its war materiel until Germany’s defeat. After the war, deprived of reparations pledged at Yalta, the Soviet Union rebuilt its entire economy. Together the Soviet Union and China suffered more death and destruction than all the other belligerents in between 1939–1945. It is impossible for anyone to say how the Soviet Union would have developed without 70 years of Western aggression, even allowing for the enormous Tsarist legacy with which the country was burdened. The Ukraine was swept up in these processes. Any attempt to treat Ukraine – Soviet relations as if they were conditioned solely by the cultural, religious or political conflicts of the Russian Empire or “Soviet imperialism” is at best an oversimplification.
  9. For a sober history and analysis of the Soviet system, especially its political-economy from the time of the October Revolution 1917, see Moshe Lewin, The Soviet Century (2005) and The Making of the Soviet System (1985). V. I. Lenin’s Left-wing Communism—An Infantile Disorder shows just how much Lewin’s history reflects the rational perceptions and critique of those who founded the Soviet Union. One of the principal obstacles to intelligent debate about events in the former COMECON countries is the appalling and wilful ignorance of USSR history in the West.
  10. See “Is a New “Cold War” Coming? You can’t be serious”, Dissident Voice (19 May 2014).
  11. A CV attributed to Gordon M. Hahn identifies him as senior researcher, Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, and Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies. Among his previous appointments were as non-resident academic fellow of the Open Society Institute from 2005–2006 in Russia and numerous visiting scholar and fellowships at the Hoover Institute.
  12. Stephen F. Cohen (1938- ) professor emeritus in politics and Russian studies, advisor to other government agencies in the US and spouse of The Nation publisher and OSS diaper baby Katrina vanden Heuvel, during the so-called Cold War Cohen published a regular column in that journal called Sovietology.
  13. Putin: Crimea similar to Kosovo, West is rewriting its own rule book, RT, (18 March 2014). “Our Western partners created the Kosovo precedent with their own hands. In a situation absolutely the same as the one in Crimea, they recognised Kosovo’s secession from Serbia as legitimate while arguing that no permission from a country’s central authority for a unilateral declaration of independence was necessary.” Putin added that the UN International Court of Justice agreed: “That’s what they wrote, that’s what they trumpeted all over the world, coerced everyone into it—and now they are complaining. Why is that?”
  14. Various reasons are given for this low key decision by the Presidium: one was that Khrushchev was pursuing a policy of slow decentralisation and considered Crimea to be part of the Ukraine geographically.

    Another argument was the underlying status of disputes within the USSR as a result of the deportation of the Crimean Tartars in the wake of WWII. Nazi occupation reached to the gates of Sevastopol. Stalin took a very dim view of any group that was not unambiguously loyal to the Soviet Union and the implication that Tartar units had collaborated with the Nazi occupation just as Ukrainians did was a plausible motivation—if not a justification for such a policy. As a result, however, the region became dominated by ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

  15. In 1845 the Republic of Texas was annexed by the US. Previously the Mexican government had invited people to immigrate and settle in the sparsely populated country. The white settlers from the US declared their independence in 1836, independence (and secret annexation) the Mexican government refused to recognise until the US declared war in 1846 and imposed the Treaty of Guadalupe–Hidalgo in 1848.
  16. For a brief comment on this point see the author’s review of I F Stone’s The Hidden History of the Korean War. For more detailed information see The Origins of the Korean War, 2 Vols. by Bruce Cumings.