Category Archives: Osama Bin Laden

Obama: the Greatest War President

Jeremy Kuzmarov has written a seminal book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Clarity Press, August 2019), on the US Military Empire led for eight years by a black-faced president residing in the African slave-constructed White House.

The author peals the imperial white mask off the black skin in an analogy to Frantz Fanon’s classic work. Racism, colonization and contemporary neo-colonialization have distorted the psyches of many people of all colors. Barak Obama’s black Kenyan roots allowed him to do the white man’s bidding throughout Africa, and many other nations. While George Bush founded the US African Command (AFRICOM), in 2007, it was Obama, who set about implementing military (and economic) domination over African governments and lands.

Kuzmarov’s impeccable and extensive research reveals the reality of Obama’s eight presidential years favoring the rich class’ economic and military-warring interests. Like a few other seminal books about the US Military Empire—Oliver Stone/Peter Kuznick The Untold History of the USA and Douglas Valentine The CIA & Organized Crime—this historian has read, skimmed through and compiled thousands of books and pertinent articles about his subject. One might dispute the author’s analysis or conclusions but an honest reader cannot dispute the facts with which he shows how jingoist, brutal and unjust US foreign policy is.

Obama, the drone president, stood for seven aggressive wars at once, more than any other US president. In my view, he was the worst president in US history, because he hypocritically offered hope to the downtrodden, the discriminated against and the general working population, all the while doing the rich white man’s dirty deeds. He beguiled these folks, and he could get away with it, namely, because he had black skin and a Harvard voice, which he used to cheat people of all colors and nations.1

Speaking to white and black readers sans condescension, Kuzmarov shows how many white progressives, who, in their anxiety to reject any racist appearance, embraced this warmongering president. Obama also convinced most African-Americans to give him leeway to do them justice, which he never did. Deluded African-American men joined the military in greater numbers than at any other time in history, and so they too fight for the weapons industry’s wars for profits.

Obama followed a traditional American Exceptionalism war-making approach with Woodrow Wilson as his principle idol. Wilson sent 13,000 US troops to invade Russia as the young revolution started, and set the tone for permanent bellicosity against this nation. Obama liked to be compared with him as he did with John F. Kennedy, who oversaw the Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba, in 1961, who brought the world close to a world war nuclear catastrophe the next year, and who backed multiple coups and right-wing regimes under the benign sounding Alliance for Progress.

Like Kennedy, Obama provided a liberal front for policies that exacerbated internal inequalities and setback movements for progressive change, keeping us locked in the Cold War, and setting the basis for a new Cold War. Kuzmarov points out that the ramping up of police training and other alleged security measures had a “disturbingly negative impact on public safety, human rights, violence against women and democratic institutions,” quoting from an NGO study.

Obama was also a terrible manager of tax monies. Kuzmarov wrote:

The Obama administration is estimated to have added as much as $10 trillion to the U.S. national debt, the largest total of any president in history, and oversaw an increase in the debt to GDP ratio from 64.8% to 104.7% and a balance of payments deficit of $463 billion in 2015. China’s ownership of over one trillion of the U.S. debt helped to shift the economic balance in its favor as the U.S. dollar began losing its appeal as a global currency exchange, further undercutting the claim that Obama was a deft manager of empire. His administration wasted taxpayer money on billion dollar boondoggles like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, which military analyst Pierre Sprey called ‘an inherently terrible airplane,’ while adversaries like Russia began to develop greater electronic and cyberwarfare capabilities and long-range missiles capable of threatening U.S. military bases.

In chapter two, using lies to market Obama, Kuzmarov wrote:

Strategically casting himself in Dreams from My Father as an heir to the early 1960s organizing tradition, Obama underplays the significance of his employment for a Manhattan-based consulting house to multi-national corporations, Business International Corporation (BIC)… Headed by a close friend of former vice president Hubert Humphrey, BIC had functioned as a CIA front with a subspecialty in recruiting left-wing organizers to use as assets, and in infiltrating foreign labor unions with the goal of promoting disruptions in targeted economies.

Instead of real community organizing, he worked for the Gamaliel Foundation, a satellite of the Ford Foundation. Once Obama became president, he closed down the only child welfare office in Chicago’s south side ghetto, and cut funds to black colleges. He made political friendships with other major capitalists such as Henry Crown and his son Lester, billionaires who merged their Material Service Corporation with the world’s sixth largest weapons company, General Dynamics. The Crowns own one-fifth of GD. Throughout his presidency, General Dynamics always benefited from the wars Obama oversaw.

In “Black Skin, White Masks” chapter, we read Frantz Fanon’s warning that the deep psychological effects of colonialism,

would yield a breed of post-independence leaders in Africa, who were submissive to white Western interests, and willing to keep their own people subordinate not just because they were cynically out for themselves but, because they believed in their own inferiority.

[Obama] status as a civil rights icon was undercut by many of his policies and aloofness from the plight of the black underclass. Obama’s yearning for peace was also a mirage and only apparent when he thought it might benefit him politically.”

He convinced 53 of 54 African nations to accept this militarization for neo-colonial profiteering. Obama’s agricultural policy promoted genetic engineering and chemical intensive agriculture at the urging of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DuPont and Monsanto, whose former executives served in his administration.

Obama’s “Power Africa initiative” relied heavily on US-Europe-African private sector investment. Obama also aided oil and mineral corporations in taking natural resources through massive bloodshed in many countries. The U.S. had amassed over 60 military outposts and was running one and a half military missions per day. Obama “intervened” in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Niger, Rwanda & Congo, Sudan & South Sudan internal conflicts on the side of right-wing factions and governments. He sent them military equipment, bombs and specially trained killer Special Forces.

“The Libyan intervention in particular shows Obama to be the kind of leader Frantz Fanon warned about: a black who served the interests of the white masters and helped legitimize their exploitative practices. Muammar Gaddafi was a long-time foil of the American Empire,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Gaddafi led a bloodless revolution, in 1969, against the Sanussi King Idris, a corrupt U.S. and British ally who gave concessions to Western oil companies in return for military and technical aid. Under Gaddafi, no Libyan went to bed hungry. Every newly-weds received $50,000 to start a family. Full education and health care were paid for out of the national oil income and taxes.

A Pan-Arab and African supportive of the Palestinian cause, Gaddafi kicked out the U.S. military when he came to power in 1969 and placed Libya’s high quality, light sweet crude oil under national control, reinvesting profits in health and education. Life expectancy increased from fifty-four to seventy-one years under his rule, the literacy rate went from six to 88 percent, and homelessness was eliminated. Through its state-owned bank which did not charge interest, Libya also financed an African satellite that slashed communications costs and became a world leader in hydrological engineering due to development of a man-made river that won a major UNESCO award for ‘remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas.’

Obama and NATO invaded Libya in 2011 to protect “innocent civilians”.

“The Obama administration spent about $1 billion on Libya’s ‘revolution,’ and helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft, carrying out roughly 20 percent of the over 26,000 bombing sorties in the seven-month NATO mission that included dropping cluster munitions, phosphorus and Fuel Air Explosives which are outlawed under international law.”

“Hillary Clinton jubilantly told a reporter. ‘We came, we saw, he died,’”. “CIA director John Brennan told speechwriter Ben Rhodes that Qaddafi’s death ‘marked a fitting end for one of the biggest rats of the 20th century.’” Brennan later became the architect for fake news “russiagate.”

The tremendous progress for the entire population that the Qaddafi government had accomplished was destroyed by various terrorist factions backed by US/NATO. Since their “human rights victory”, estimates run at 600,000 killed and more displaced. Today, Libya is a haven for Al Qaeda and Islam State torturous warriors (numbering upwards to 10,000). They traffic in arms and international terrorism, make slaves of workers, sex slaves of women, and force African refugees to flee to Europe on boats that sink, causing the deaths of many thousands of people.

Re-colonializing Africa entailed Obama’s personal delivery of drones to murder Africans, also people in the Middle Eastern, whom he and his buddy, CIA chief John Brennan, considered enemies. The pair poured over “mug shots and biographies of presumed terrorists that looked like they came from a ‘high school yearbook’… One official termed them the ‘macabre baseball cards of unconventional war.’”

Sensitive to macho critiques that he wasn’t tough enough to be a Real American President, Obama sent out a press release, May 29, 2012, to the effect that he was the best drone president killer. Eighty-three of American Exceptionalists polled loved him for it.

Behind the scenes, one of 17 US intelligence services, the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned that this droning of weddings and other public events would backfire, and would create more terrorists than it kills.

During his eight years at the helm, Obama ordered 563 drone strikes against Middle Eastern and African peoples plus more than 1000 in Afghanistan. Internal communications leaked by Wikileaks shows that at least 1100 civilians were killed, plus some US soldiers, and that 90% hit were not the intended target. Obama’s favorite capitalist, Lester Crown, owns large shares in drone technology, and Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry owns such stocks as well.

Obama increased the war in Afghanistan, in order, he claimed, to decrease the war. In two separate waves, he sent in 51,000 additional troops (plus 117,000 civilian mercenaries). Just as his predecessors’ wars against the Indo-Chinese people, this warmonger knew this war can’t be won. Yet there is the advantage of opium. When in power, Taliban wiped out most of the opium. Since the US took over, 90% of the world’s opium comes from there, and the CIA has control over much of it. Thus millions of its enemies who border Afghanistan—Iran, China, Russia—are introduced to opium-heroin and become addicted.

Eighteen years into this war, Obama’s weapons industry donor friends also have the advantage of getting many new weapons tested for future use.

The alleged murder of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, on Mayday 2011, by two dozen Navy Seal Team 6 raiders under the direct command of the CIA probably did not take place, Kuzmarov wrote.

US American and Pakistan officials, and US sailors, differ about what took place.

No photos of the body, and others allegedly killed in the house that day, were made public nor were DNA tests allegedly conducted by CIA/DOD and Homeland Security. No independent sources were allowed to see test results, which the government said proved bin Laden was killed that day. They also said they buried him within hours, according to Muslim custom. His body was supposedly thrown from the US warship carrier Carl Vinson. Sailors spoken with said they saw nothing.

Kuzmarov cites expert sources that believe bin Laden had long been dead from an incurable renal failure requiring constant dialyses. Furthermore, how could it be that 30 of these special killer Navy Seal Team 6 were killed three months later when Taliban forces shot down a transport helicopter in which they were traveling? Obama spokespersons said they had not been at bin Laden’s death, but family members asserted the US government turned this elite force into a target by revealing their role in the bin Laden raid. They might have talked?

I skip over the war against Iraq (space limits), which Obama continued from George Bush period, to come to the “Pivot to Asia”.

“The Asia Pivot was symbolically introduced by Hillary Clinton on a U.S. naval destroyer in Manila Bay, the location for America’s original pivot in the 1898 Spanish-American Philippines War. The carefully choreographed event implied a proud continuity from an era most historians consider to be shameful since U.S. soldiers committed heinous atrocities, and at least 200,000 Filipinos were killed,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Resistance against continued US interference in both domestic and foreign policies has increased in many Asian countries since the Asian Pivot began. Islanders on Guam and many other islands dominated by US military are weary of its war games and pollution and want the Yankees to Go Home. This is the case as well for many South Koreans and Japanese.

China is not any military threat but the US has 200 military bases and many other military facilities in the Asian area. China has one outside its own territory (in Djibouti Africa). Yet China, just as Russia, must now spend funds and time building more weapons of defense as the US encroaches closer and closer.

Obama’s pivot failed to get his Trans-Pacific Partnership passed. China’s constructive development projects, such as the “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Seas, its “one belt, one road initiative,” a massive infrastructural development project aiming to connect the Pacific and Baltic Seas, helps bring it supporters and prestige while the US loses its.

As the United States and Western Europe were mired in growing debt, corruption, and economic and moral decline, China was gradually forging an effective counter-pole to Washington’s New World (dis-)order in conjunction with Putin’s Russia. In April 2015, China took a major step in their campaign to supplant the dollar as the world’s dominant reserve currency when European members of the IMF embraced China’s demand to include the yuan as a unit of IMF currency.

Again, US foreign policy is all about oil/money/dominance. It is estimated that the South China Sea, which the US wants to control, contains 213 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubicle feet of natural gas.

Chapters eight and nine—too many lies, the new cold war with Russia, and Obama’s betrayal of his Cairo vision—are the most detailed-researched of the ten chapters. They cover the war in Syria, the US-neo-fascist coup in Ukraine, the referendum of the Crimean people to join with Russia, Saudi Arabia/Yemen, Zionist Israel and Palestinians.

Obama sent his emissaries to Ukraine to back the right-wing factions against the duly democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who sought to trade and partner with both sides: Russia and US/EU. He would not join EU or NATO, so neo-fascists brought about the violent Maidan crisis in February 2014.

Three Georgian mercenaries told Italian TV journalist Glan Micalessin they were the snipers at Maidan on February 20, 2014 when 80-90 people were killed. They were ordered by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and paid $1000 each by his military advisor Mamuka Mamulashvilli. Former US 101 Airborn Iraqi war paratrooper Brian Christopher Boyenger accompanied them over several days of the Maidan violence leading up to the coup.

The three Georgians are: Koba Nergadze, Kvarateskelia Zalogi and Alexcander Revazishvilli.

Obama’s special envoy to Ukraine Victoria Nuland told the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who would lead the coup government, and that is what happened. The pro-fascist Svobada party’s hero, Stepan Bandera, became the new government national hero. He supported the Nazis and helped murder 900,000 of Ukraine’s 1.5 million Jews. Svobada got several seats in the coup government.

The US government, and one of its major capitalist partners, George Soros, spent several billion dollars to boost the coup, and even proudly announced this as evidence that “America’s taxes go to humanitarian causes”. The fact that hundreds of workers and demonstrators were killed by pro-fascist groupings was not worth considering.

Forcing a right-wing coup caused the March referendum in the Crimea, in which 96% of the 83% voting cast their ballot to join with Russia. One year later, the very capitalist Forbes magazine, wrote: “The US and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves, but the Crimeans are happy right where they are…mostly all [are] in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.” 93% said the referendum was legitimate, only 2% said it was not.

Obama sent money and arms for coup government and neo-fascist mercenary attacks on Eastern Ukraine. Russia offered some support to Donetsk insurgents, but would not bring them into the Russian Federation, which was their desire.

Vice-president Joe Biden, and his son, made big money from the coup government, and its rich associates. This fact is quite relevant today. As I write this review, the House of Representatives has just started an impeachment process against President Donald Trump for, namely, suggesting that Biden and son cheated.

Kuzmarov wrote:

The Biden family was one of the major beneficiaries of America’s interference in Ukraine. While the Vice-President was overseeing U.S. policy toward Ukraine, his son, Hunter joined the board of one of Ukraine’s most profitable and corrupt energy companies, Burisma, which gave the potential to the Bidens of becoming billionaires. Journalist Peter Schweizer points out that Biden regularly consulted with [President Petro] Poroshenko by telephone and made five trips to the Ukraine between 2014 and 2017 while his son’s business partners prepared to strike a profitable deal with controversial and reportedly violent oligarchs Kolomoisky and Zlochevsky, who would benefit from his actions. Schweizer’s investigation further pointed to the disappearance of $1.8 billion in U.S. taxpayer guaranteed money to Ukraine. The IMF loans disappeared after going through Kolomoisky’s private bank.2

Kuzmarov’s chapter nine deals primarily with the countries where the US backed Arab Spring protestors in those countries where the US sought regime change. These protestors rapidly became violent and received US armed support. Where the US backed the governments, protestors were not aided: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia.

The Arab Spring quickly turned into a long and dark winter, first in Libya, then in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria where America, promoting regime change, allied with jihadists who corrupted any hope of positive democratic transformation. Little progress was made in the Israeli-Palestine conflict as Obama increased arms shipments even as Israel pulverized Gaza in a murderous 51-day war. The double standards of U.S. foreign policy were vividly apparent in Obama’s copious arms sales to Saudi Arabia as it assaulted Yemen, and Obama’s support for other state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan and Turkey under strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which no longer required a State Department license to import American weapons.

Supporting Zionism and apartheid against Palestinians in Israel and surrounding areas also led Obama to be tight with the six Sunni Muslim Gulf States.

Over eight years, he sanctioned a record $115 billion in arms sales to the Saudis in 42 separate deals and protected the kingdom by refusing to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 report on Saudi Arabia, which could possibly detail their role in the terrorist attacks. Obama also vetoed legislation allowing 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Saudi government.

“The Obama administration further provided over $20 billion in new weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia after the Yemen war broke out and forty million pounds worth of jet fuel. Weapons included Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, F-15 jet fighters, cruise missiles, ‘smart bombs,’ white phosphorus, an incendiary that burns through the skin to the bone, and a $1.5 billion shipment of 152 Abrams battle tanks made by General Dynamics, twenty of which were destined to replenish vehicles from Yemen. Previously, the Obama administration sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia made by the Rhode Island Company, Textron, whose shell-casings were recovered at the site in Western Yemen.

Since Iran also demands to right to its sovereignty and is principally Shia, Zionist Israel and Sunni Gulf States attack it, the Shias in Yemen, and the multi-religious Baath government of Assad in Syria. Terrorist opponents to the Assad government attack Christians, while Assad’s government protect them. It is also a fact that the majority of Syrians living in Syria back the Assad government and view IS as backed by the US and its allies.3

US/NATO/Israel allowed terrorists IS and al Nursa to murder and expand its base until September 2014 when some effort to fight them began.

To cite one fact concerning such support, Kuzmarov wrote: “One group directly armed by the CIA, Nourredine al Zinki, formed a coalition with an outfit called ‘the bin Laden front.’ It was singled out by Amnesty International for carrying out gruesome atrocities in rebel-held Eastern Aleppo.”

That is why Russia had to come to Syria’s defense, to effectively crush these terrorists since enemy states of Syria would not. It was also Putin who convinced Assad to turn over whatever chemical weapons he had and did so to the world’s greatest producer and user of such horror weapons.

It was President Putin, again, who prevented a war against Iran by helping its government make a deal with the West not to develop atomic weapons, much to Obama’s surprise and perhaps chagrin.

“A key feature of the new Cold War has been the incessant demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and depiction of Russia as a neo-Soviet autocracy. Obama said that the main goal of U.S. policy was ‘to put him in a box to stop making mischief’. Such comments were part of Obama’s efforts to cast the new Cold War as a moral crusade against an evil dictator,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Obama began economic sanctions against the Russian government, in 2012, and expanded it many times—as has Donald Trump—to hurt the entire economy and population, all because President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia is sovereign and will not be dictated to. American Exceptionalism ideology will not accpt such rogue brashness.

I skip over the pathetic attempts to vilify Putin and Russia as responsible for the election of Donald Trump, russiagate, as there is so much information and evidence that it is a total lie. Kuzarmov covers it well using sources that know what they are talking about, including previous high-level NSA technicians and intelligence men who turned whistleblowers, William Binney and Edward Snowden.

The last chapter summarizes the many countries in Latin America that Obama “meddled” against, backing the far right and attempting to topple the progressive and pro-socialist oriented new governments, especially those in the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America) economic-political coalition.

This coalition began in 2004 on the initiative of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Cuba President Fidel Castro. The conservative Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya saw benefits for the people in joining it, and because of that, right-wing generals, backed by Obama and his Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton, overthrew Zelaya in a coup, June 28, 2009. Obama-Clinton immediately recognized the coup government while the rest of the Americas did not.

Just half a year later, I accompanied Bolivian President Evo Morales to the COP15 climate summit held in Copenhagen as one of two PR workers. I helped him, and sometimes President Chavez, meet the media. These two giants for Latin American sovereignty did not hold their tongues concerning the American Exceptionalist President Par Excellence. Kuzmarov opens thusly:

In December 2009, Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez gave a speech at the Copenhagen climate summit mocking President Obama, whom he referred to as having won ‘the Nobel Prize of War.’ Chavez considered Obama a phony who had won the peace prize ‘almost the same time as he sent 30,000 soldiers off to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.’ Referencing his famous 2006 speech at the UN when he had held up Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival and referred to George W. Bush as the ‘devil,’ Chavez said he ‘still smelled sulfur’ coming from Obama as he was perpetuating many of the same inhuman policies.

Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader in Bolivia’s history, followed Chavez by excoriating Obama for being the only leader to leave the summit’s stage from a concealed door. If Obama genuinely wanted to promote positive social change, Morales said that he should ‘use the money you are spending for wars against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, for militarizing Colombia with seven military bases to save lives, to save the planet, our Mother Earth.’

It was exhilarating to see and hear these two real leaders tell it like it is!

Obama’s policies in Latin American were worse than Bush II, who concentrated on the Middle East. When Ecuador’s leftist president Rafael Correa closed U.S. military base at Manta, the rightist Colombian government granted the US five military bases on its territory, to help fight peasants, unionists, left-leaning organizations, political parties and progressive governments.

Obama continued the “war on drugs” in Mexico, which causes the killings of two dozen people daily—around 8000 a year—and an increase in drug and weapons trafficking.

In Paraguay, Obama supported a right-wing parliamentary coup against the progressive president and bishop, Fernando Lugo.

The one bright spot was Obama’s easing of the blockade against Cuba, and the release of the last three of five Cubans imprisoned for infiltrating Cuban exile terrorists groups in the US, in order to prevent their terrorist activities against Cuban people—also something the CIA was behind.

If opening up somewhat to Cuba can be judged as positive (bearing in mind that many major US capitalists such as the Rockefellers had been calling for an end of the blockade for decades), the only other one positive action he took (which I can recall anyway) was to release Chelsea Manning from prison. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that it was the Obama administration that put her in prison, and tortured her, in the first place.

Kuzmarov concludes:

Obama’s presidency in many ways shows how liberal-progressive politicians can be more dangerous than their conservative counterparts, who tend to be more truthful in their aspirations to dominate the world and earn profits in whatever ways, thus making them easier to mobilize against.

Journalist Glen Ford aptly described Obama and his wife Michelle as a ‘two cynical lawyers on hire to the wealthiest and the ghastliest’ who are ‘no nicer or nastier than the Romneys and the Ryans [opponents in 2012 election], although the man of the house bombs babies and keeps a kill list.’ He also had a Big Brother complex. Every day during Obama’s presidency, the NSA intercepted and stored more than 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other forms of communications.

Glen Ford is Black Agenda Report’s chief editor. He wrote an excellent foreword to this book. Ford opens his foreword thusly, and so I close my long review.

“Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective—and deceptive—imperialist of them all.”

  1. See: “Obama: The Worst US President Ever.”
  2. Peter Schweizer wrote, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends (New York: Harper Collins, 2018)55-65. The NYT reported that Joe Biden threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan if Ukraine did not fire its top prosecutor who was mounting a case against Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma. Kenneth P. Vogel and Iulia Mendel, “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump.”
  3. December 2015 poll taken by ORB, an affiliate of WIN/Gallup. The Guardian, 12/19/2015.

“Triumphant War Hero” Gets Re-elected?

A bit splattered by the blood of thousands of its “collateral” victims, the old, tattered “Re-election Playbook” is being actively consulted once again.  Back in 1787, Thomas Jefferson had adamantly insisted that the new U.S. Constitution stipulate only one presidential term, but his prescient warning was ignored.  (Fortunately his other requirement, that a Bill of Rights be appended, was approved.)  Like so many well-read 18th century politicians (including the young Napoleon), Jefferson looked to the history of the Roman Republic for cautionary precedents.  He knew well that political opportunists like Julius Caesar had won their early mass popularity through their exploits as military conquerors.  In the early stages of his political career, victorious general Caesar would march into Rome, leading a “Triumph” — an endless procession of chained war-captives and cartloads of plunder – before the admiring crowds of plebeians.  His renown was such that, when he was off on his Gallic campaign, he convinced the Senate to pass a special edict allowing him to run for election as Consul in absentia (successful).  His older rival Crassus, financier and slumlord (“the richest man in Rome”), even re-invented himself as a conquering general for political advantage (but he was fortunately, as Plutarch relates, led to his own destruction in Parthia–now Iraq).

Turning to U.S. political history, one could draw up quite a list of military generals who, celebrated by the public as heroes, sought greater political power by running for president (often successfully).  And, of course, such cynical manipulation of the electorate continues up to the recent present.  One major, if not the major, objective for waging war against non-threatening Iraq was to secure this, almost invariable, political advantage as the election year 2004 loomed ahead.  As far as the timing of the attack was concerned (March 19, 2003), the self-impressed Rumsfeld had assumed that “victory” would be attained in a matter of weeks. And such “victory,” in the aftermath of the vicious “Shock-and-Awe” bombing campaign, was indeed soon proclaimed, thus enabling Rove and his ilk to plan a gala, Roman-style “Triumph,” with the military-attired and swaggering Bush landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, to a national frenzy of celebration and under a presumptuously boasting “Mission Accomplished” banner (May 1).  Allowing for such a hugely popular, “patriotic” kick-off for an 18-month re-election campaign, the timing of May 1 seemed advantageous. (That Iraq had never been a threat, and that the alleged WMDs were never found, barely moderated this wellspring of popular acclaim for the “war hero” — at least for some months.)

In any event, we may now jump exactly eight years hence — to on or about May 1, 2011.  Now it was Obama’s turn to play military hero — in his own kick-off for re-election!  So far, despite his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, as well as his well-publicized “kill list” (drones), he hadn’t yet demonstrated the kind of ruthlessly unprincipled crushing of a “foreign” people which the majority of potential voters seem to relish.  But he had a perfect, quicker, and far less expensive alternative: “take out” Osama bin Laden!  Although the majority of Americans passively or willingly understood little or nothing about the geopolitical distinctions between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, they had been certain that “Saddam Hussein” — this moniker repeated over and over by Bush! — was the personification of all-that-is-evil.  But by 2011 Saddam was dead — having been hanged after a kangaroo-court conviction — and Americans could once again redirect their hate toward an alternative Satan (“Goldstein” of Orwell’s 1984 being unavailable).  Obama’s political handlers, like Bush’s, agreed that an 18-month halo of heroic triumph would help considerably in the long march toward re-election–and they were right.  Of course, Obama, in announcing “the killing of Osama bin Laden” to an awestruck citizenry (May 1, 2011), lied about the actual circumstances, as Seymour Hersh and others have noted.  (E.g., the non-existent “fire-fight” which was claimed in order to re-sell the assassination team as heroic commandos.)  And, of course, with the universally impressed and fawning media adding to the “Triumph,” Obama virtually coasted, with only a few bumps, to re-election in November 2012.

As aforementioned, this “Re-election Playbook,” however old and frayed, has nonetheless proven its ongoing usefulness to the recent crop of lying, opportunistic and murderous presidents.  For Trump — as for virtually all insatiably ambitious presidents — political advantage will always trump any practical strategic (or even economic) considerations.  Thus, deceptively cooking up the usual “justifications” for imminent war, this time with Iran, a nation which, as attested by the EU and other agencies had abided by the signed agreement only to see the U.S. under Trump unilaterally withdraw.  Trump’s hand-picked “national security” advisers are offering him huge political dividends: immense re-election financing from the likes of billionaire casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson (AIPAC), as well as the usual Big Oil industry funders (such as the Kochs, conspicuously represented in policy by their protege Pompeo).

If May 1, 2019 has come and gone, Trump may still have ample time — with the enthusiastic support of his flag-waving base (and the reliably acquiescent media) — to ride the crest of a trumped-up Iranian war, into re-election in November of next year.  But if that scenario doesn’t quite materialize, there is always the tried-and-true fallback: the venerable “October Surprise”!

Islamic State Celluloid

Nothing turns on the charlatan class of terrorism expertise than a video from an elusive, unknown destination, adjusted, modified and giving all the speculative trimmings.  In reading, E.B. White suggested the presence of two participants: the author as impregnator; the reader as respondent.  In the terrorism video, the maker consciously penetrates the shallow mind of the recipient, leaving its gurgling DNA to grow and mutate.

When Islamic State began its gruesome foray into the world of terrorist snuff videos, experts resembled overly keen cinephiles seeking the underlying message of a new wave.  The burning of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh in a cage in 2015 caused a certain rapture amongst members of a RAND panel.  Was this, perhaps, a celluloid standoff with rival al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose affiliates had just slaughtered the staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in their Parisian offices?

Senior Adviser to the RAND President, Brian Michael Jenkins, could not “recall a single incident in modern terrorism where terrorists deliberately killed a hostage with fire.”  There was “no religious basis for it this side of 17th century witch burning.”  Senior political scientist Johan Blank turned to scripture, finding “at least one specific prohibition of death by fire in the ahadith literature” on “the grounds that it resembled hellfire.”  The inspiration had to stem from somewhere, and Blank’s judicious offering was Ibn Taymiyyah, “fountainhead of much current jihadi reinterpretation of longstanding Islamic orthodoxy.”  Andrew Liepman, senior policy analyst, saw the video as a lucid moment of proof. “I wonder how much more evidence we need to confirm that ISIS is acting outside the norms of Islam.” Not modish, it would seem.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, has begun to resemble, in no small part, previous heads of franchise terrorist groups who have become reproductions and simulacra of themselves.  Terrorism is big business, stage sets and props, all tweeted for good measure; it is bestial theatre that draws out the voyeurs, the google-eyed analysts, and the lunatic converts.  Whether such heads are dead or not is of little consequence past a certain point: Baghdadi had supposedly been dead yet his corpse seems more than capable of putting together a presentation for audiences.  It is also incumbent on those seeking his capture or death to claim his general irrelevance.  Everyone did know one thing: the last time he gave a public performance was the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in July 2014.

The video, aired on the Al Furqan network, is filmed in appropriately Spartan surrounds, but that is neither here nor there.  Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi thinks otherwise linking, erroneously, the making of the film with the current location of the protagonist.  “Regarding the location of Baghdadi, we can’t give intelligence information right now but it’s clear from the video that he’s in a remote area.”  As is the fashion, neither the date nor the authenticity of the recording is verifiable.  All else is a wonder, and even the Middle East Monitor is careful to suggest that the speaker was “a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance”.

Baghdadi lacks complexity in his message, never straying from the apocalyptic line.  “Our battle today is a battle of attrition, and we will prolong it for the enemy, and they must know that the jihad will continue until Judgment Day.” He is mindful of the fruitful carnage inflicted by the Easter Sunday bombers in Sri Lanka, and thanks them.  Such acts, he reasons, were retribution for the loss of Baghouz in Syria.

The speculations duly form a queue, and talking heads have been scrambled into studios and Skype portals.  This video may have been a retort, and reassurance, before the potential usurping moves of another ISIS figure of seniority, Abu Mohammed Husseini al-Hashimi.  Hashimi had staked a claim in stirring up discontent against Baghdadi’s more extreme tyrannical methods.  Not that he is averse to the application of hudud punishments (stoning for adultery excites him), and the quaint notion that the ruler of any Islamic State caliphate is bound to be a successor to the prophet Muhammed.  Modesty is a drawback in such line of work.

Colin P. Clarke, senior fellow at the Soufan Centre, aired his views that Baghdadi’s “sudden appearance will very likely serve as both a morale boost for ISIS supporters and remaining militants and as a catalyst for individuals or more groups to act.”  It was a reassurance that he remained the grand poohbah, atop “the command-and-control network of what remains of the group, not only in Iraq and Syria, but more broadly, in its far-flung franchises and affiliates.”

The teasing out and ponderings on minutiae are not far behind.  Resting upon a flowered mattress, and leaning against a cushion with an assault rifle by his side (nice touch for the old fox), it was bound to have an effect. The expansive beard caught the eye: The Washington Post noted that it “has greyed since his only other video appearance”. Previously, the paper noted, it had been “tinted with henna”.  Then there was the AK-74 prop, a rather popular Kalashnikov variant reprised from previous showings in the video work of Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden.

Such superficial renderings, the stuff of terrorism kitsch, lends itself to fundamental fact that Baghdadi might be somewhere, anywhere, or nowhere, a nonsense figure, to a degree, in a nonsense medium.  The modern terrorist franchise is fluid and far-reaching.  Followers need not feel estranged.  They can use social media, cosy-up and wait for eschatological endings.

The pioneer of this terror mania (global yet local) was al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, a figure who, along with his sparring counterpart US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, formed a perfect symmetry of simulative nonsense, the gobbledygook of post-2011 security.  Each time US forces and their allies sought to target the slippery Saudi, he vanished.  The raid and bombing of the Tora Bora complex in Afghanistan yielded no returns; the man was nowhere to be seen, having escaped, possibly, in female garb. Sightings, and rumoured killings, remained regular till the penultimate slaying in Abbottabad in May 2011.  The man, declared dead on numerous occasions, was Lazarus in reverse.

Rumsfeld, for his part, insisted on those known knowns, known unknowns and “things we do not know we don’t know”. Unwittingly, he had given the age its aptly absurd epitaph, and with that, much work and fare for the witch doctors of terrorism keen to gorge upon the next video offering from their beloved subjects.  Ignorance in this case, not knowledge, is power.

A Tool to Combat Washington’s Middle East Wars

The Plot to Attack Iran gives a readable and well-referenced look at Western — especially US — abuse of Iran. The author and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik presents a concise overview of US imperial conduct since World War II. The book is a reminder, which we need from time to time, of the outrageous hypocrisy and deceit of the US government and the corporate media. Kovalik also drives home that Washington’s foreign policy operations are not just a threat to other countries, but threaten the basic safety of the US people.

The US strove to crush any Iranian attempts to create their own development path for their country, particularly as oil became an important resource. The US has continuously sought to overthrow the government since the 1979 revolution. The book reviews the US-British coup against Iranian democracy in 1953 which installed the brutal Shah, who established the SAVAK torture network. The double standard of Jimmy “Human Rights” Carter, the struggle against the Shah’s murderous regime, the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, the background to Iran-Contra, the US playing both sides against each other during Iraq’s war on Iran, the US relations with the Taliban, and the US-Saudi war on Yemen are all covered.

One aspect that could be added to the book is a summary of the social gains made by the Iranian people in the Islamic Republic, particularly under President Ahmadinejad (2005-2013), who instituted many anti-neoliberal programs which helped the poor. For instance, poverty had been reduced to one-eighth of what it was under the Shah, while health care is free for those who can’t pay.

Kovalik does note that in 1970 only 25% of Iranian women could read and write. By 2007 it was 80.3%, compared to 88.7% for men, and 90% percent of women are enrolled in school, free for all even through university. While about one-third of university students were women before 1979, now women make up 65 to 70% of the students. Women are legally entitled to ninety days maternity leave at two-thirds pay, have an entitlement to employer-provided child care centers, both gains which are denied women in the US. Iran has an equal pay for equal work requirement, also denied women here.

1953: US Overthrows Iranian Democracy

That Iran has an Islamic government which the United States and Israel abhor, is a direct result of the US coup against Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953. The US’ subsequent support of the Shah made popular revolt inevitable, and when it broke out the US directly supported Islamists in Iran over the secular left.

Mossadegh had taken action to nationalize Iranian oil, then mostly under British control. Britain proceeded to sabotage Iran’s oil production and export, wrecking its economy.  Mossadegh actually appealed to President Eisenhower to mediate and resolve the issue in a way Eisenhower saw fit. The US reply came in the form of a coup, which showed many of the tactics we have seen in recent color revolutions and regime change interventions, one of the most current being in Venezuela.

CIA agents bought off secular politicians, religious leaders and key military officers, newspaper editors, hired thugs to run rampant through the street, sometimes pretending to be Mossadegh supporters, sometimes calling for his overthrow, anything to create a chaotic political situation. Thousands of demonstrators, unwittingly under CIA manipulation, surged through the streets, looting shops, destroying pictures of the Shah, and ransacking the offices of royalist groups. The impression was that Iran was sliding towards anarchy.

The Shah then took power and for a quarter century established one of the most barbarous regimes in the world.

US Trains Shah’s Military and SAVAK Torturers

The CIA helped train the Iranian security services in torture techniques—techniques borrowed, as in the case of Pinochet’s Chile, from the experienced experts, the Nazis. Every year 350 SAVAK agents were taken to CIA training facilities in Virginia, where they learned interrogation and torture. Top SAVAK brass were trained through the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Public Safety Program. SAVAK created torture prisons that outdid Dante’s Hell. The CIA filmed techniques it had taught SAVAK to use and made them available to torture centers in other countries.

The most common SAVAK instrument was an electrically heated table called the ‘frying pan,’ on which the victim was tied down by his hands and feet. Many died on these tables. Often, the accused was already raving by the time he entered the torture chamber—few people could bear the screams they heard while they waited, nor the smell of burning flesh.

This “Made in the USA” product makes it clear why Iran calls the US “The Great Satan.”

Amnesty International stated in 1974, 20 years after the US-backed coup and US training of repressive forces, that no country had a worse human rights record than Iran under the Shah. Yet Jimmie Carter maintained weapons supplies to Iran, and the human rights situation got even worse.

In 1978, anti-Shah street protests in Tehran drew more than a million strong. The Shah’s army, trained by the US, killed 4,000 demonstrators in Tehran’s Jaleh Square on September 8 alone. Kovalik notes that if such a thing happened in Venezuela or Cuba, or in Iran in 2018, this would be cause for the United States to invade. There was an explosion of corporate media condemnation against China during the Tiananmen Square protests ten years later, where probably one-tenth the number were killed. But who knows of this Jaleh Square massacre – not the only one – outside of Iran? Yet Washington approved of it, continuing to back the Shah and his methods for another half year.

1980s: US Provides Iraq with Chemical Weapons for their War on Iran

Kovalik notes the flagrant hypocrisy of the West’s noise about chemical weapon attacks in Syria, repeatedly and without evidence blaming the Assad government. Not only did the West arm Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with chemical weapons, but it downplayed their massive use against Iranian troops and civilians.  Kovalik reminds us of the US’ widespread and criminal use of chemical weapons in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently in Iraq in Fallujah and Mosul.

The US Department of Commerce and even the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) exported to Iraq items used for chemical weapons and nuclear weapons development. The US government approved 771 different export licenses of dual-use technology to Iraq.  The CDC sent Iraq 14 separate agents “with biological warfare significance.” The CDC was not involved in controlling disease, but in spreading it.

For its part, Iran itself refused to use chemical weapons against Iraq, and also pronounced a fatwa in 2005 against developing nuclear weapons. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency determined in 2003 and 2007 that Iran did not intend to build a nuclear weapon. This was confirmed by sixteen US intelligence agencies.

The US armed Iran the same time it aided Iraq in its war on Iran and used $18 million from the $30 million in weapons sales to illegally fund the Nicaragua contra terrorists after Congress had cut off their aid. This became known as the Iran-Contra Scandal. Israel, with US consent, also sold Iran hundreds of millions of dollars of US-manufactured weapons during the Iraqi war on Iran. Later Washington funded the contras by directing them to import crack cocaine into the US, fueling a drug addiction epidemic.

Kovalik notes that “the United States is continuing this cruel policy of playing both sides against each other today by supporting, but also trying to contain, ISIS forces in order to molest and undermine both Syria and Iran.”

Incredibly the US without shame justified its 2003 war on Iraq with the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” in particular, banned chemical weapons, which the West had previously sold him. That was, as is said now, “fake news” because Hussein’s chemical weapons had been destroyed under UN supervision years before.

To heighten the hypocrisy, the US itself used chemical weapons (white phosphorus and depleted uranium) in its war on Iraq in 2003, causing spikes in cancer rates and birth defects in areas like Fallujah.

US Trains Taliban in Afghanistan

During this whole period the US had been increasingly intervening in Afganistan. It was instrumental in ousting the progressive secular government in Afghanistan by supporting Islamic extremist forces, the Mujahideen, which included Osama bin Laden. The US later aided the Taliban taking power, and backed them until 2001. Al Qaeda then turned on the United States and, among other things, carried out the 9/11 attacks against the United States.

Osama bin Laden was himself a Saudi, and, as we now know, Al Qaida has received much support over the years from Saudi Arabia, the United States’ long-time partner in crime in the Middle East and mortal enemy of Iran. Yet, while Iran cooperated with the US in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban after 9/11, and while Saudi Arabia financed the 9/11 attack more than any other country, the US has remained closely allied with Saudi Arabia against Iran.

In early 2001, the US pledged $124 million in aid to the Taliban. But when negotiations between the two worsened over an oil pipeline project, the US threatened to carpet bomb and invade Afghanistan — even prior to the September 11 attacks.  Jane’s Defense Newsletter reported that in March 2001 Washington was planning an invasion.

Kovalik notes that in 2006 the FBI listed bin Laden on its “Most Wanted List,” but it did not include the 9/11 attacks as a basis for this listing. The FBI chief of investigative publicity stated, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

While ruling Afghanistan, the Taliban had basically eradicated opium production (from which heroin is made). Then just four years after the US invaded and allied with the drug lords there, 90% of the world’s heroin came from that country. We now have what Trump admits is a “national health emergency” due to opiate addiction, yet it was US policy that contributed to that epidemic.

This shows how Washington’s foreign policy threatens the US people: contributing to the present opiate epidemic; creating the previous crack epidemic and the ongoing cocaine epidemic (which comes from US ally Colombia); financing and supporting the Taliban allies who attacked the US on 9/11. The US aided the rise of ISIS with arms and funding and is closely allied to Saudi Arabia, the country more than any other responsible for 9/11, ISIS, and Al Qaeda affiliated groups. The US has sought to destroy secular left movements in the Middle East, in Egypt, in Iraq by putting Saddam Hussein in power, in Iran by working with the Shah to murder it off and bringing in Khomeini as the lesser evil, in Afghanistan by using the Mujahideen and Taliban to eliminate the previous progressive government. In sum, the US has helped to empower Islamic extremists.

US War on Iraq

After invading Afghanistan, the US invaded Iraq, though it had nothing to do with 9/11. Saddam Hussein, like the leadership of Iran, had been a mortal enemy of Al Qaeda. “Iran watched in 2003 as its neighbor Iraq was invaded by the United States and its coalition partners, suffering the worst destruction it ever had since the Mongol invasion of 1258 led by Genghis Khan. And Iranians are painfully aware that the United States is intent on doing the very same to their country.”

When the US overthrew Saddam Hussein, whose base was among Iraqi Sunnis, Iraqi Shiites came to power, who then allied themselves with Shiite Iran. Then Washington sought to weaken Iran, which it had just strengthened through the Iraqi invasion.

Washington turned to aiding the very forces who attacked on 9/11 as a tool to contain Iran. The US aided Sunni extremists in Libya and Syria to try to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad. The US supported the opposition in Syria from the beginning and has spent $12 billion funding it just from 2014-2017. Now Iran is lawfully in Syria (and Iraq) to fight ISIS and Al Qaeda at the invitation of the Syrian government. In contrast, the US intervention in Syria is in violation of international law. Trump has announced the US will stay in Syria, not to fight ISIS, but to counter Iran, which has become a regional power due to US miscalculations in its interventions in the Middle East.

Present Day Threats against Iran

The US under both Obama and Trump has been arming and aiding Saudi Arabia in bombing and blockading Yemen (dependent on imports for 90% of its food), alleging the Houthis are “proxies for Iran,” and creating starvation and slaughter of Yemeni civilians. In Yemen, 22.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, 17.8 million are food insecure, and 8.4 million people are severely food insecure at risk of starvation.

The Iran nuclear deal, which Trump wants to scuttle, did not serve to significantly alleviate the economic problems the Iranian people faced. Sanctions on Iran have cost the country $160 billion since 2012, and Trump has increased these sanctions.

The 2017 protests in Iran were sparked by cuts to social benefits, a consequence of sanctions and US-Saudi engineered fall in oil prices. Washington spent over $1 million trying to convert the protests into a push for regime change, and another $20 million on Voice of America’s Persian Service seeking to turn Iranians against the government.

This brutal anti-democratic US conduct against Iran is similar to what it has also inflicted on Greece, El Salvador, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, etc. – if the US did not resort to massive invasion, killing millions as in the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq.

We can see the brutal present world the US has created when we compare what humanitarian Third World leaders it overthrew or sought to, compared to the US-backed leader: Arbenz and the Guatemalan dictators, Sukarno and Suharto, Lumumba and Mobutu, the Sandinistas and Somoza, Goulart and the Brazilian generals, Allende and Pinochet, Mandela and apartheid, Mossadegh and the Shah, Chavez and the Venezuelan putschists, Fidel and Batista, Aristide and the Haitian generals, Juan Bosch and Balaguer, and so on. These are great losses to creating a more humane world.

Now the US blames Iran and Russia for the problems confronting the Middle East, and the US government wants us to believe that regime change in Iran will help fix the problem. This ignores the fact that none of the other regime changes the United States has been involved in have done anything but make matters worse. Millions have been killed, modern countries destroyed, and the US national debt has skyrocketed.

The Plot to Attack Iran gives us a well-referenced summary to the US war against Iranian democracy and the complex situation in the Middle East. The US has been backing groups it is also at times fighting, groups that still engage in terrorist attacks against the US, France, and Britain.

Kovalik’s book is a useful resource for our anti-imperialist movement. We get a taste of what liberal-lefts will say and do as the US advances its regime change strategy in Iran by looking at how they responded to the US attack on Libya and on Syria. The Plot to Attack Iran will aid us when we confront the same expected capitulation by much of this “left” when the US pushes ahead with its war plans on Iran.

The Moral Mask

It feels as if world events are in overdrive, and sometimes it’s hard to escape the thought that there is no longer much point in trying to analyse, or make sense of, a trajectory increasingly out of control.

I see little evidence that those of us in the segment of the world political spectrum likely to read these words need much persuasion — nor that those who consider us dupes of the Evil Vladimir, or apologists for what was once called the “Yellow Peril”, could ever have any inclination to even glance at the arguments and sentiments of those they consider so utterly deluded.

In fact, the plethora of information (both truth and lies), and the amazing communicative possibilities most of us now have at our disposal, have brought with them a world in which no one is very often persuaded of anything: for every fact we present, they have access to an official or cleverly crafted lie with convincing-looking documentation that demonstrates our ostensible mendacity and subversion.

What pre-internet thinker – is it possible that bygone age ended only 20 years ago for most of us? — would have ever thought that a technological world in which every voice can be heard worldwide would solidify, rather than threaten, the role of propaganda in public life? Or that near-universal access to technology enabling impressively thorough research at incredible speed would be one of the major factors in eliminating political consensus and rendering nearly obsolete the recognition of facts as such?

Well, perhaps there are brilliant minds out there who foresaw it all. But consider me dumbfounded. While there is a range of similarities between our world today and those described by Orwell and Huxley in their famous novels of future horror, there are other aspects that render this a different universe altogether, and one that continues to shock me.

Assuming that it WERE, in fact, possible to persuade people who accept their governments’ colossal lies and distortions that those same lies are, in fact, exactly that – lies — one would be required to acquaint most of them with the most basic facts of recent history. For remarkably, almost unbelievably, in a world where all of us have limitless information and history at our fingertips, most people know nothing about recent history – and the vast majority is not even curious about it.

Pointless though it may be, I continue to attempt to jog the memory of these amnesiacs. It seems somehow therapeutic to my own shaken sensibilities as well to see this recent history on paper or on the screen from time to time. Perhaps it is an act of self-defense against the fear that soon I, too, will be unable to remember what really happened. And so, repeatedly, I write about the real face behind the moral masks worn by the empire’s minions.

“Enemies” Custom Made to Order While You Wait

While I am not a Muslim, nor a Russian — as a matter of fact, I am American with no religion whatsoever — I feel it only fair to point out the following to those who view US-NATO-Israeli-Saudi propaganda as credible:

1. In 1953, American President Dwight Eisenhower used the CIA (which has admitted this) to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader Mossadegh, who wanted to nationalize the oil companies. The CIA and its allies put Shah Reza Pahlavi on the throne. The Shah murdered and tortured opponents and/or imagined opponents via his secret police SAVAK. He was eventually overthrown by Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini and the mullahs who transformed the nation into the Islamic Republic of Iran. Everyone in Iran knows all about this, but most Americans and many Europeans do not. Obviously, the USA had a major role in shaping modern Iran, whatever one thinks of Iran’s policies (I for one consider most of what the USA and Israel and Saudi Arabia say about Iran to be utter bollocks, largely in support of Israeli angst and Saudi Wahhabi-Sunni hostility to Shi’ism).

2. ISIS evolved out of the terror group “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”, which emerged AFTER the US invasion of Iraq and was led by former officers in Saddam Hussein’s army, an army that was disbanded and left to its own devices by the American forces in Iraq. Some of these officers developed the newer ISIS model while they were held in the infamous American torture prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib. Obviously, the USA bears major responsibility for the creation of ISIS, WHETHER OR NOT it is true that the US and Israel continue to work with ISIS consciously for strategic purposes. US ally Saudi Arabia is also known to have put much funding into ISIS through private channels, as Hillary Clinton and others have publicly admitted.

3. The original Al-Qaeda, like much else which is dangerous in today’s world, developed directly out of American — and interestingly, also Polish — hostility to the Soviet Union and Russia. US National Security Adviser to the President, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Polish-American and passionate Russia-hater, persuaded US President Jimmy Carter to attack the Soviet-supported communist government of Afghanistan in the 1970s by arming and funding Osama bin Laden and other jihadis (sound familiar?). Later, bin Laden turned against America because (in his own words) the US stationed troops in Islam’s Holy Land of Saudi Arabia, and Al-Qaeda was born. A huge percentage of modern Islamist terror evolved from this seed, not only in the Hindu Kush and Middle East but now in Africa as well. Obviously American catastrophic imperial foreign and military policy are responsible, both directly and indirectly, for much of the unrest and violence in the Islamic world and exported out of it, not to mention the colossal refugee crisis associated with that violence and the American wars there.

Red Alert: Unfiltered Truth on MSNBC

I posted a video of it in social media twice because I consider it so significant: famous economist Jeffrey Sachs stated emphatically on national American TV this week (“Good Morning Joe”, MSNBC) that the US and President Barack Obama started the war in Syria via the CIA. I have a feeling that they would never have allowed him on the show if they had known he was going to say that. TABOO BROKEN … imperialist media twits sit stunned with egg on faces, military man stutters incoherent bullshit in response … Sachs is not exactly a radical, and he is too renowned and respected to simply be told he is full of it by such habitual sycophants. Too bad he didn’t go even further and tell the show’s co-host Mika Brzezinski that her father put into action the policies that resulted in the existence of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and have left half of the Middle East and Hindu Kush in ruins and/or at war, millions dead, and created a horrific refugee crisis. But I am grateful for what he did say.

On the Value of Human Lives Outside of the USA and the EU

I should be used to it by now, but I continue to be stupefied by the following dynamic:  As John Steppling, in his recent article “The Sleep of Civilization” wrote:

Most White Americans, as a general statement, think they are better than the rest of the world. And most Americans have scant knowledge about the rest of the world. So the belief in cultural (and moral) superiority is based on what? The answer is not simple, but as a general sort of response, this trust in “our” superiority is built on violence. On an ability to be effectively violent. Most British, too, think they are superior to those “wogs” south of their emerald isle. But since the setting of the sun on Empire, “officially”, the British hold to both a sense of superiority and a deep panic-inducing sense of inferiority — at least to their American cousins. They are still better than those fucking cheese eating frogs or the krauts or whoever, but they accept that the U.S. is the sort of heavyweight champ of the moment. Meanwhile, the tragic and criminal fire at Grenfell Towers in London elicited a public discourse that perfectly reflected the class inequality of the UK, but also reflected, again, the colonialist mentality of the ruling party and their constituency … But that is exactly it. The colonial template is one etched in acid in the collective imagination of the West. At least the English-speaking West. Expendable natives…which is what Jim Mattis sees everywhere that he dumps depleted uranium and Willy Pete. It is what Madeleine Albright saw in Iraq or Hillary Clinton in Libya or Barack Obama in Sudan, Yemen, and…well… four or five other countries. It is what most U.S. police departments see in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty. As in those old Tarzan films, when the sound of drums is heard, the pith helmeted white man notes…”the natives are restless tonight”. When one discusses Syria, the most acute topic this week, remember that for Mad Dog and Boss Trump, or for the loopy John Bolton, these are just natives in need of pacification. Giving money to ISIS or Daesh, or whoever, as a cynical expression of colonial realpolitik, is nothing out of the ordinary. It is what the UK and US have done for a long while. It’s Ramar of the Jungle handing out beads to the *natives*.

Although every indicator and every new disaster outside of US-EU-NATO countries confirms once again, clearly and unmistakeably, that most citizens of the United States and Europe consider the lives of those in other parts of the world to be worth far less than their own … astoundingly (at least to me), it nonetheless continues to be possible for the US and European governments to build public support for military strikes in those parts of the world by feigning horror over civilian casualties in wars in such places – casualties occurring in many cases, as now in Syria, in wars for which the United States itself is responsible, wars which the USA encouraged quite deliberately with arms and money and CIA involvement.

But in this new presstitute House of Mirrors media world, no large media entities call the insane Nikki Haley to account when she stands in the United Nations Security Council holding up pictures of dead children in Syria – whether real (and there certainly are plenty of dead civilians there) or once again faked by Western-supported jihadis and their associates – and blames Russia for their deaths in a war organized and kept going by the US and Saudi Arabia. Recently Haley closed one such nauseating and vulgar mountebank performance by stating, “But pictures of dead children mean nothing to countries like Russia.” I’m sure that would come as news to the parents and families of the vast numbers of Russian children who died during World War II while the USSR was defeating Hitler, during most of which time America sat back and waited, hoping Hitler would conquer the Soviet Union. It is now estimated that 26 million Russians died before their time in that war, known euphemistically in the USA as “The Good War” and widely thought to have been won by the American military.

Ms Haley’s Dead Children Show contains no mention of Yemen where, according to the NGO Save The Children, 50,000 children are believed to have died from disease and starvation in 2017 alone as a result of the genocide against the Houthi people carried out by Saudi Arabia with massive support from allies including the USA, the UK, France, and Germany. But those who wear the Moral Mask are shameless and highly selective.

International Bodies Fail to Understand the Middle East Crisis

One sentence summarizes the Zionist expansion from an incursion to ultimate takeover of Palestinian lands – the Zionists act aggressively and the world bodies re-react passively. Institutions that defend the world community and protect regional interests have failed to understand the Middle East crisis, failed to recognize the dangers posed by the Zionist expansion, and have subverted their constituencies. These failures prevent formulation of an acceptable plan and a concentrated effort to resolve the perilous situation. Those who argue that the Middle East crisis is beyond comprehension and resolution are deceiving the world; proper thought leads to basic actions that can turn an impending catastrophe into a manageable situation.

International Bodies fail to recognize motives

Ardent discussions and symbolic votes that demonstrate support for international law and the justified Palestinian cause are meritorious. However, Israel uses the symbolic methods to show their ineffectiveness and contemptuously challenges them by doing the opposite of what they intend to accomplish. Although United States President Donald Trump declared his nation’s recognition of Jerusalem (not West) as Israel’s capital and intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the United Nations, European Union, and Arab League failed to digest the serious consequences of the intended move and responded with rhetoric rather than with a defined action plan that could definitely counter the egregious act. The U.S. president fulfilled a campaign pledge to his Religious Right constituency, which is determined to help move the huge granite stones that rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district, to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. Receiving approval that Jerusalem is its capital gives Israel an introduction to declare that to administer its capital it must have total legal control over all municipalities, including all neighborhoods of the Old City, which includes the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

International bodies fail to recognize why twisting reality poses risks

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complemented President Trump’s ego-tripping prevarications, his attitude of attacking all those who contradict him, and his doing it in a manner that is associated with mania. In a remark to official institutions that “Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3000 years and the present state of Israel for 70 years,” PM Netanyahu portrayed similar characteristics to those of President Trump.

Were Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arab Caliphates, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans aware of this “capital” during their combined rule of Jerusalem, which lasted almost three thousand years? More baffling is that the Prime Minister of a nation that calls itself the “Jewish State,” does not know that Jerusalem lay in an area called Judah and not Israel. Should not Netanyahu forfeit leadership for his inept statement?

Combine the psychological difficulties of the President of the United States with those of the leader of a nation that is closely allied with the United States and we have nations that have been culpable in immense crimes and killings in the last decades working together and determining the destiny for many of us.

International Bodies fail to recognize the ominous trajectories

The Zionist proposal at the 1919 Paris peace Conference defined intentions. Although, the proposal mentioned that “Palestine is not large enough to contain more than a proportion of the Jews of the world” and “The greater part of the fourteen millions or more scattered throughout all countries must remain in their present localities,” it has become obvious that the Zionists did not intend to follow their statements. Compound that deception with their description of the “General lines for the boundaries of Palestine,” shown as dotted lines on the map. Note their Greater Israel extends close to Beirut in Lebanon, Damascus in Syria, and Amman in Jordan. The boundary captures all the aquifers and facilitates use of the Hedjaz railway.

Continue to the 1948 war, when, contrary to the over-expressed statement that the Egyptians, together with other Arab armies, intended to “throw the Israelis into the sea,” the Arab forces did not have the military strength to accomplish the task. Egyptian troop movements indicate a defense of the new Palestinian state rather than intent to occupy the new Israeli state. The reality is that the Israelis figuratively threw the Palestinians “into the sea,” or at least into refugee camps, by being complicit in the leaving and expulsion of 750,000 of the 900,000 Palestinians who inhabited the British Mandate, and by barring them a return to the lands and homes their families had possessed for centuries. Already, in 1948, it had become obvious that the Zionists intended to achieve their objectives, and that two states were not included in their agenda.

It is no coincidence that Israel invaded and occupied the Sinai in 1956 before French and British coordinated attacks against Nasser’s Egypt. Rarely mentioned is a controversial meeting, known as the Protocol of Sèvres,1956, and reported in Anatomy of a War Plot1, which describes Israel Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s proposed plan to Great Britain and France, and executes the Zionist proposals. Although the meeting records are not available in French and British government archives, the meeting occurrence and parts of Ben Gurion’s plan are confirmed in Shimon Peres: the Biography by Michael Bar-Zohar.

The session started at 4 p.m. on Monday, 22 October, in the conservatory of the villa and it was intended to enable the leaders of the two countries to get to know each other and to have a preliminary discussion. Ben-Gurion opened the discussion by listing his military, political and moral considerations against ‘the English plan’. His main objection was that Israel would be branded as the aggressor while Britain and France would pose as peace-makers but he was also exceedingly apprehensive about exposing Israeli cities to attack by the Egyptian Air Force. Instead he presented a comprehensive plan, which he himself called ‘fantastic’, for the reorganization of the Middle East. Jordan, he observed, was not viable as an independent state and should therefore be divided. Iraq would get the East Bank in return for a promise to settle the Palestinian refugees there and to make peace with Israel while the West Bank would be attached to Israel as a semi-autonomous region. Lebanon suffered from having a large Muslim population which was concentrated in the south. The problem could be solved by Israel’s expansion up to the Litani River, thereby helping to turn Lebanon into a more compact Christian state. The Suez Canal area should be given an international status while the Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba should come under Israeli control to ensure freedom of navigation. A prior condition for realizing this plan was the elimination of Nasser and the replacement of his regime with a pro-Western government which would also be prepared to make peace with Israel.

At the start of the 1967 war, Israel claimed that Arab armies had prepared an attack, which forced the nation to initiate the offensive. After the war, Moishe Dayan has been quoted as saying, “at least 80 percent of two decades of border clashes were initiated by Israel. We would send a tractor to plow some (disputed) area…and we knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was.” Other disguised offensive actions.

As early as 1964, Israel diverted the headwaiters of the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to Israel’s South. Syria responded by building its own diversions in the Golan. The Israel forces attacked these facilities on several occasions.

On April 26, 1967, two months before the start of the 6-day war, Israeli jets shot down 6 Syrian planes over Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. Later that day Israeli jets flew over Damascus.

Israel bombed all Egyptian airfields and destroyed the Egyptian air force before any declaration of war.

Although Israel accused Egypt of preparing for an immediate attack, no Egyptian soldier set foot on Israeli territory.

Israel captured and occupied the entire Sinai.

Israel continued attacks in the Golan after a preliminary truce had been declared and did not stop the attacks until the entire Golan had been captured.

As in previous engagements, Israel fought a defensive war in an offensive manner and seized large amounts of territory. The war created another flood of Palestinian refugees, a total of 300,000 fled the West Bank and Gaza, of which 180,000 were first time refugees; the others were from previous actions. One clue to the reason for the war – Illegal settlements under direction of the Labor government quickly followed the occupation of the West Bank.

Several wars later, Israel occupies and has virtual control of much of British Mandate Palestine, including Jerusalem. Gaza remains a Palestinian territory but under constant surveillance, restriction in actions and movement, and subjected to intermittent attacks by Israel. Most of Israel’s adversaries have been subdued by war, internal strife, or agreements. Despite the violence, and after all the mayhem, Israel is not a defined state — no fully defined borders, no constitution, no Israeli nationality (based on ethnicity), sketchy laws, an unrecognized capital city (except for U.S.), failure to respect UN resolutions, severe human rights violations, chaotic political system, biased immigration policy, committing a great number of extra-judicial killings that violate sovereignty of other nations, and a large number of citizens living outside the country — and evidently, Israeli officials prefer the nation to remain that way.

The Zionists have temporarily compromised their original territorial demands but still remain in the position of wherever they go they will encounter a potential enemy, even at the Jordan River. Looking back in history at similar situations, more pronounced than Israel’s situation but still comparable, we find the following:

The United States could not expand without encountering antagonistic Native American tribes, Mexican landholders and Canadian nationalists. The former was virtually eliminated and the others subdued until the only contestants were the two oceans. No problem.

France, under Napoleon, met enemies at every doorstep until it ran out of soldiers and ammunition in Russia. Major problem.

Nazi Germany succeeded in vanquishing possible enemies in Germany’s northern and southern frontiers, succeeded in pushing France into the Atlantic Ocean, but still faced another enemy on the eastern front. As Napoleon, Hitler lost that war.

Similar to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Israel has and will always face enemies, and the last to stand — Iran, Shia militias in a revitalized Iraq, Turkey, and Hezbollah — seem willing to fight aggressively, unlike those who previously contested Israel. These foes might be temporarily contained, but Israel cannot subdue them forever. Imagine all of these nations, together with the militias that emerged during the latest Iraq and Syrian conflicts, confronting Israel. Will the major powers enter the conflict in a manner that occurred in World War I? When faced with defeat, will Israel exercise the Sampson option? Assuredly, without any doubt, it will, and a nuclear holocaust will destroy the Middle East.

Unrestrained warfare is one of the ominous trajectories that International Bodies fail to recognize. There are others.

With continued seizure of Palestinian lands, expanded settlement activity, and purposed denial of the Palestinians to agriculture, water rights, fishing rights, livelihood, and employment, Israel’s actions forecast the destruction of the Palestinian people. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and planned interference debilitates Palestinian communication, transportation, assembly and governance. Its willingness to intensify Palestinian pain and suffering, especially in Gaza, provides only one direction – more of the same – more generations who are denied basic rights, more generations who are subjected to subsistence living, and more generations who endure intense suffering. Israel has shown no sympathy with the Palestinian plight, and the international community has done nothing to reverse the negative trend. The severe Israeli repression assures that the Palestinians lack what they most need – ontological security – a stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity in regard to the events in one’s life. Because the absence of ontological security accelerates deterioration of the Palestinian community, the trajectory points to Israel propelling the destruction of Palestinian life to an eventual outcome, a genocide that few will notice; it is not a genocide until the vicious act is completed.

The ISIS Caliphate has been defeated and reduced, but what is not reduced are two causes of international terrorism — support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and Israel’s conflict with the Muslim world in Jerusalem. Osama bin-Laden clarified those positions in an interview with CBS reporter Joel Arak, October 30, 2004, who related that bin-Laden said he was first inspired to attack the United States by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were destroyed in the siege of the capital. “While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women.” Actions that provoke extremists increase their motives for international terrorism, and more terrorism follows. Until these situations are satisfactorily resolved, one driver of international terrorism will remain and create innocent victims for decades.

The trajectories to war, community destruction, terrorism, and devastation are clearly marked. Nevertheless, the world and regional institutions that have the power to prevent the gloom and doom react with a combination of confusion and complacency, which hastens the ultimate to occur. Time has become essential; ponderous steps by the world community to redo fall behind Israel’s rapid measures of doing. Much can be done but not without consideration to the mechanisms that prevent complete understanding of the crisis, which is sadly lacking, and how these mechanisms thwart capable minds from engineering capable solutions. Israel’s deceptive practices that confuse the issues, dupe the public, and muzzle attempts to resolve the Middle East crisis are the principal ingredients that give it clout and voice much above its fighting weight. Never in history have so many been fooled by an extensive, calculated, and ingenious plan to subvert minds and rearrange positions. Exposing the deceptions, delivering the antidotes to render them harmless, and stifling them are the first and necessary steps before turning an impending catastrophe into a manageable situation.

  1. Avi Shlaim International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), pp.509-530.

9/11: The Pentagon’s B-Movie

The events that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001 were real and they were extremely violent. As David Griffin has recently shown in detail, they also had catastrophic real-life consequences for both the United States and the world.1

But these events were also deeply filmic (like a film) and they were presented to us through a narrative we now know to be fictional. This “9/11 movie” reveals itself to careful investigators as scripted, directed and produced by the U.S. national security state. The movie does not represent the real world. It violates the rules operative in the real world, including the laws of physics. Audiences will remain in thrall to the spectacle and violence of the War on Terror only as long as they remain mesmerized by the B-movie of 9/11.

The Filmic Nature of the September 11 Events

Many people caught a whiff of Hollywood on September 11, 2001. According to Lawrence Wright (screenwriter of The Siege): “It was about an hour after the first trade centre came down that I began to make the connection with the movie, this haunting feeling at the beginning this looks like a movie, and then I thought it looks like my movie.”2 Steve De Souza (screenwriter, Die Hard I and II) has said: “Well it did look like a movie. It looked like a movie poster. It looked like one of my movie posters.”3

The 9/11 attacks were filmic in at least the following ways:

  • Given the complex and coordinated nature of these attacks, they had been scripted and given a timeline in advance;
  • Given the need to make decisions as the attacks progressed (for example, when an aircraft went off course or was delayed), it is clear that there was a director;
  • Given the overall vision, the need for funds, resources and international coordination over a period of years, it is obvious that there had been a producer; and,
  • Given the numerous roles played in this event (for example, by the “hijackers”), there were undoubtedly actors.

In addition, the event included the key dramatic elements of conflict, violence and spectacle.4 The entire production was filmed from several angles, and the films, sometimes in the rough and sometimes cleverly edited, were shown many, many times all over the world.

Official U.S. sources rapidly acknowledged the remarkably filmic nature of these events. In October, 2001 some two dozen Hollywood writers and directors were assembled “to brainstorm with Pentagon advisers and officials in an anonymous building in L.A.”5 The Army’s Institute for Creative Technologies was the lead organization.6 The assembled group was assumed to have relevant expertise and was asked to brainstorm about what future attacks might look like so that the Pentagon could be prepared. (“We want some left-field, off-the-wall ideas; say the craziest thing that comes into your mind”).7

While the bare fact of this consultation was widely reported by news media, further details about the three-day consultation have been hard to come by. Reporters have had their FOIA requests denied.8

Beneath this consultation lay the “failure of imagination” hypothesis. Although the hypothesis emerged almost immediately after September 11, it was given especially clear expression in a BBC Panorama programme aired on March 24, 2002.9 Steve Bradshaw interviewed representatives of Hollywood and of national security institutions. The Pentagon, we were supposed to believe, is a typical large bureaucracy characterized by inertia. It is unable to imagine, and to rapidly respond to, new and emerging threats. It is stuck in the past. It is also afraid to irritate the general population by appearing to be politically incorrect–by looking, in this case, at Islam as a threat. Fortunately, there are two sets of people with imagination and courage: a small number of people within the national security apparatus who were trying to warn the Pentagon but were ignored, and Hollywood screenwriters and directors, who had imagination, who had some contact with the national security dissidents, and who had the courage to risk being called Islamophobic.3

So the planes of September 11, when they burst on the scene, confirmed the imaginative prescience of Hollywood, supported the courageous faction of the national security apparatus, and embarrassed the national security bureaucracy, which had to lower itself in October, 2001 to meet with the purveyors of fiction in order to stimulate its sclerotic brain.

This failure of imagination hypothesis was supported by statements by George W. Bush10 and, even more famously, by Condoleeza Rice:

I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.11

The hypothesis became more or less official when it was adopted by the 9/11 Commission in its report on the attacks.12

Of course, given the filmic nature of 9/11, it is clear that, according to these official U.S. sources, there was another group — beyond Hollywood and a few national security malcontents — that had imagination, namely al-Qaeda.

Robert Altman (director of MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and many other films) said in 2002 that Hollywood was to blame for the 9/11 events. “The movies set the pattern, and these people have copied the movies…Nobody would have thought to commit an atrocity like that unless they’d seen it in a movie.”13

Presumably, by “these people” Altman meant al-Qaeda. Perhaps it was while munching popcorn and watching a Hollywood movie that Osama bin Laden and his high-level companions got the idea for 9/11? This is possible. But would it not make sense to ask if it is true that the Pentagon has no imagination, and that it was incapable of picturing attacks like those of the fall of 2001?

Collaboration between Hollywood and U.S. government agencies goes back at least as far as WW II. Indeed, a 1943 memo from the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) noted that, “The motion picture is one of the most powerful propaganda weapons at the disposal of the United States.”14 Many Hollywood films and TV programs have, therefore, been supported by the Pentagon, and some have been supported by the CIA. Such support can be crucial for films that require U.S. military assets such as planes and helicopters. But support is not automatic. The script must first be approved, and emendations may be demanded by the national security agency in question. In a recent book on this subject (National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood), authors Tom Secker and Matthew Alford list 814 films and 1133 TV titles that received DOD support.3

Since many of these films are highly imaginative constructions, how can it be that the national security agencies that have helped bring them to fruition have remained trapped in their grey, unimaginative world? Presumably, we are to believe that it is the nature of a bureaucracy to restrict these imaginative insights to one part of the organization — say, the Army’s Institute for Creative Technologies — while neglecting to disseminate them to other parts of the national security state. But is this true?

Those familiar with the History Commons research project on 9/11 will know that it is not true at all. Here are 16 titles from that project (selected from a much longer list) that refer to pre-9/11 exercises and simulations by U.S. government agencies:15

November 7, 1982: Port Authority Practices for Plane Crashing into the WTC

(1998-September 10, 2001): NORAD Operations Center Runs Five ‘Hijack Training Events’ Each Month

1998-2001: Secret Service Simulates Planes Crashing into the White House

October 14, 1998: ‘Poised Response’ Exercise Prepares for Bin Laden Attack on Washington

Between 1999 and September 11, 2001: NORAD Practices Live-Fly Mock Shootdown of a Poison-Filled Jet

Between September 1999 and September 10, 2001: NORAD Exercises Simulate Plane Crashes into US Buildings; One of Them Is the World Trade Center

November 6, 1999: NORAD Conducts Exercise Scenario Based around Hijackers Planning to Crash Plane into UN Headquarters in New York

June 5, 2000: NORAD Exercise Simulates Hijackers Planning to Crash Planes into White House and Statue of Liberty

October 16-23, 2000: NORAD Exercise Includes Scenarios of Attempted Suicide Plane Crashes into UN Headquarters in New York<

May 2001: Medics Train for Airplane Hitting Pentagon

June 1-2, 2001: Military Conducts Exercises Based on Scenario in which Cruise Missiles Are Launched against US [“Osama bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise”]

July 2001: NORAD Plans a Mock Simultaneous Hijacking Threat from inside the US

Early August 2001: Mass Casualty Exercise at the Pentagon Includes a Plane Hitting the Building

August 4, 2001: Air Defense Exercise Involves the Scenario of Bin Laden Using a Drone Aircraft to Attack Washington

September 6, 2001: NORAD Exercise Includes Terrorist Hijackers Threatening to Blow Up Airliner

September 9, 2001: NEADS Exercise Includes Scenario with Terrorist Hijackers Targeting New York

It is not necessary to find an exercise here that perfectly matches the attacks of the fall of 2001. The point is that there is far too much imagination and far too much similarity to the actual attacks of the fall of 2001 to support the “failure of imagination” hypothesis. Hollywood participants in the October, 2001 brainstorming exercise, who thought they were being tapped for their imagination, were conned.

Who was better prepared, through both imagination and logistical capacity, to carry out the attacks of the fall of 2001–Bin Laden’s group or the U.S. national security state? The latter had been practising steadily, in relevant scripted training operations, for years, and it had the power and resources to bring the imaginative scenarios to reality. Al-Qaeda was not remotely its match.

Not Just Filmic, But Exclusively Filmic

If this business of the filmic nature of the September 11 attacks involved only Hollywood scriptwriters we might be tempted to regard it as nothing but a minor distraction. But what we find is that even members of the Fire Department of New York, risking their lives at the scene, were shocked by the filmic nature of what they witnessed.16

I thought I was at an event at Universal Studios, on the side, watching a movie being taped.
— EMS Chief Walter Kowalczyk

I remembered hearing Lieutenant D’Avila coming over the radio and saying Central be advised, a second plane just went into the second tower. We ran out and we saw the second plane. It was like watching a movie. It really was.
— EMT Peter Cachia)

I looked over my shoulder and you could see the whole top of the south tower leaning towards us. It looked like it was coming over. You could see the windows pop out just like in the picture, looked like a movie. I saw one floor of windows pop out, like poof, poof. I saw one and a half floors pop out.
— Chief Steve Grabher

The building started collapsing, the north tower started collapsing. It tipped down first and then the thing fell within itself. It was an amazing sight to see. It was really unbelievable. I thought I was watching a movie with special effects.
— EMT Michael Mejias

As I’m looking up at this stuff that’s going on up there now, I just like — I’m saying to myself I’ve seen this in a movie. My whole recollection is going back to a movie or something I saw. I just saw this before.
— Fire Marshal Steven Mosiello

… it looked like a bomb, of course, had gone off, almost like a nuclear bomb. That’s all I could think of. I’ve never been at war. I equated it to being like when I saw something like when I was a kid and I saw Godzilla in the movies or something, when he crushes those buildings and stuff like that, that’s what it looked like to me.
— Firefighter Edward Kennedy

I’m standing on top of the rig between the bucket and the cab, between the ladder and the cab. People were blessing themselves in this gloominess of going down. It was like out of a movie. I couldn’t believe what was going on.
— Firefighter Tiernach Cassidy

I just recall that those first — those first minutes from the time that sound started, the rumbling started to occur and the dust started to fall and then stopped to get gear and equipment from the fire truck and then continue down to West Street and getting there and seeing the crushed fire trucks, crushed cars, vehicles on fire. It was like a movie set.
— Firefighter Daniel Lynch

Then like a Godzilla movie, everybody that had been standing in that little park there across from One Liberty Plaza and had been just looking up and watching the north tower burn just started running eastbound like they were being chased by someone.
— Battalion Chief Brian Dixon

Then, you started to run, your [sic] helping people, helping them run. You saw it, it was amazing…like out of a movie, you know, the cloud’s just chasing you. As you look back, you see it engulf people.
— EMP Peter Constantine

… as I turned on Albany I looked over my shoulder and I saw the big cloud of dust that was already on the ground like just making its way down the block, just like a movie.
— EMS Captain Frank D’Amato

The first thing came in my mind was the movie Armageddon, and this was reality, with the black smoke 30 floors high, debris falling everywhere….Because I have never seen anything like that in 21 years of emergency work.
— EMT Russell Harris

Then as soon as we got over there, as soon as we got off of the Brooklyn Bridge, the people were running like it was a Godzilla movie, and we had to stop there for a while. People were overcome, were shaken, were scared…
— EMT Christopher Kagenaar

But I ran and ran, and finally I could see the light. When I got to where the tunnel was, I’m looking everywhere. It was just like that movie the day after with the atomic bomb. They drop it and nobody’s left and I’m the only one.
— Paramedic Robert Ruiz

I remember seeing the rubble, seeing the rubble fall and actually start to chase down the street, and, you know, it’s strange because you wouldn’t expect — you wouldn’t expect debris to do that, but it literally traveled, like, you would see these movies with like a tidal wave that flows through the streets and hits down any path it can.
— Rosario Terranova

These comments, selected from a wider set of similar comments, are intriguing, but what is their significance? As we examine them closely we recognize that the September 11 event was not just filmic but exclusively filmic. By this I mean that the narrative presented to us by authorities could not have unfolded outside of a film.

Since at least as early as 1902, when the French film  A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) took its viewers into space, audiences have been enjoying the ability of movies to deliver dramatic action through special effects, and especially by suspending, fictionally, the laws of physics. This is part of the power of film and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. But it is important to know when we are in the theatre and when we are not.

In the original 1933 film, King Kong, director Merian Cooper was determined to make the appearance of his monster dramatically powerful, and to this end was prepared to change the monster’s size repeatedly to fit particular scenes.

I was a great believer in constantly changing Kong’s height to fit the settings and the illusions. He’s different in almost every shot; sometimes he’s only 18 feet (5.5 m) tall and sometimes 60 feet (18.3 m) or larger…but I felt confident that if the scenes moved with excitement and beauty, the audience would accept any height that fitted into the scene.17

Cooper understood what mattered in a movie. But imagine what would happen if audiences remained convinced by the suspension of the laws of physics after they left the theatre? This, it seems to me, is what has happened with the events of September 11, 2001. Many people are still deceived by the special effects. They are still captured by the movie of 9/11.

Consider two of the most traumatizing elements in the attacks, the disappearance of the Twin Towers and the ensuing debris cloud.

The destruction of the Twin Towers stunned first responders. Their previous experiences, including experiences with high-rise fires, did not lead them to suspect these buildings would come down.

I’ve worked in Manhattan my whole career in high rises and everything else…you looked back, all you see–you know how fast those buildings came down…it just doesn’t click that these buildings can come down…you just couldn’t believe that those buildings could come down…there’s no history of these buildings falling down.
— Lieutenant Warren Smith, 9110223.18

Whoever in their right mind would have thought that the World Trade Center would ever fall down…Nobody in the world, nobody ever would ever have thought those buildings were coming down.
— EMS Captain Mark Stone, 9110076.19

Investigations over the last 16 years have demonstrated that the first responders’ surprise was justified. The explanations offered by official U.S. agencies have been shown to violate basic laws of physics.20

Awed by the spectacle of the Twin Towers coming down, and by the later fall of World Trade 7, we are supposed to forget our high school physics. We are not supposed to notice that the official explanations given to us leave these spectacles every bit as peculiar as King Kong’s ever-changing size.

So this central dramatic element, as edited for TV, interpreted by ponderous official voices, and played repeatedly for a world audience, belonged to the 9/11 movie. Behind the scenes the director had ordered that explosive charges be set in the buildings.

Well over one hundred members of the Fire Department of New York witnessed explosions at the beginning of the so-called collapses of the Twin Towers.21 Their testimony fits with the controlled demolition hypothesis and does not fit with the script of the 9/11 movie. Since promotion of the government’s movie would have been difficult if these voices were heard, they were suppressed.

The second deeply impressive event of September 11, which appears repeatedly in the FDNY musings about the filmic nature of what they witnessed, was the cloud of material that rushed through the streets of Manhattan in the wake of the destruction of each of the Towers. Several films are mentioned by name in this connection, including those featuring Godzilla, King of Monsters, created for Japanese films less than ten years after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a deliberately provocative meditation on the forces of the nuclear age.22

The FDNY World Trade Center Task Force interviews give a lively sense of what it felt like to be trapped in this debris cloud.18

I’m about ten feet in front of it, running, actually sprinting because I’m an athlete and I’m running…Ash came around another building in front of me, and it caught me in front of me and in back of me, and everything was pitch-black. Where it hit me from the front and the back, it actually lifted me off the ground and threw me. It was like someone picked me up and just threw me on the ground.

Everything was pitch-black. You couldn’t see anything. All I saw was big bolts of fire, fire balls. I could feel the heat around me. It was pitch-black. I couldn’t see anything at all. My lungs, my airways, everything filled up with ash. I couldn’t breathe.
— EMT Renae O’Carroll

All of a sudden the noises stopped, the sound of the building falling stopped. We all turned around and it was dark now. We really couldn’t see…The cloud was in there. All eating the cloud, whatever it was like, very thick. I keep saying it was like a 3 dimensional object. It wasn’t smoke. It was like everything. It was like a sand storm.
— Firefighter Timothy Burke

So I’m running, and people are running in front of me. They stop. They turn around. I think everything’s over with. So I stop, all of a sudden the thing is coming at us. It was like in dark hell, like a nuclear blizzard. I couldn’t explain it. You couldn’t see in front of you. You couldn’t breathe. You’re inhaling. You’re coughing. You’re running. You can’t see anything.
— EMT Mary Merced

You still can’t see it because it’s dark as a mother. You can’t breathe. It’s so heavy with smoke and dust and ash.  I can’t breathe. I have, for lack of a better term, dust impaction in my ears, in my nose. I was coughing it out of my mouth. It felt like I had a baseball in my mouth. I was just picking it out with my fingers.
— Paramedic Louis Cook

As is clear from these testimonies, words like “smoke” and “dust” do not do justice to the cloud in which people were trapped. That is because the clouds were the Towers. Each Tower was converted in less than 20 seconds from a powerful, massive structure over 415 metres (1362 feet) high into cut steel and pulverized matter. While the steel lay on the ground, much of the remainder was rapidly propelled through the streets of Manhattan.

Just as the dramatic tale of building destruction involved deception, so did the equally dramatic tale of this engulfing cloud. This cloud was not the result of a gravitational collapse caused by Muslim terrorists flying planes into buildings. It was the result of an explosive building demolition.

That this cloud could not have been caused in the manner claimed by the official narrative has been argued several times, beginning at least as early as 2003.23 The demonstrations are independent of the proofs of explosive destruction of the buildings.

Credible scientists have calculated the amount of potential gravitational energy in the Twin Towers — the only major form of energy available, according to the official narrative, at the time of the “collapse” since the energy contributed at that point by the fires was minimal and indirect — and have compared it to the amount of energy that would have been required to create the pulverized debris cloud.

Professor emeritus of civil engineering, Robert Korol, has recently discussed this issue.24 He has calculated the gravitational potential energy of each of the Towers at 508.4 x 109 joules. He has calculated the energy required to pulverize the concrete of each Tower at 857.5 x 109 joules; the energy to destroy the perimeter columns at 219 x 109 joules; and the energy to destroy the core columns at 178 x 109 joules. The total energy required for the concrete and columns is 1,254.5 x 109 joules.

Simply put, these figures suggest that it would have taken about two and a half times the amount of energy available through gravity to have destroyed the Towers as witnessed.

Professor Korol’s calculations are based on experimental work he has done in the laboratory, the results of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals. He has pulverized concrete. He has buckled and crushed columns. He has measured the force required in each case. His calculations with respect to the Twin Towers are extremely conservative in that they do not attempt to include all forms of destruction attested, such as pulverizing of walls, furniture and human bodies.

If, moreover, we were to add to his calculations the energy required to propel the pulverized buildings in all directions through the streets of Manhattan, as some authors have done, we would find the impossibility of the official narrative even more striking.25 The comment by the FDNY’s Terranova, quoted earlier–“you wouldn’t expect debris to do that–” is an understatement.

We cannot avoid the conclusion that the gravity-caused debris cloud was exclusively filmic just like King Kong’s fluctuating height. Both honoured the rules of dramatic action by violating the laws of physics.

The apparently fanciful references to Godzilla by first responders are actually perceptive. Gravity was aided by an extremely muscular destructive force. But in Godzilla movies the monster is visible, while the monster of the 9/11 movie was invisible and must be made visible through investigation.

Our Challenge

In the 1958 trailer for the B-movie, The Blob, film-goers are shown sitting in a theatre as a horror movie begins.26 They are frightened, but only in the distant way that film audiences allow themselves to feel frightened by fictional representations. Then we notice the monster (“the Blob”) oozing into the theatre itself. As the movie-goers wake up to this reality and sense the real danger, they tear their eyes from the screen and run from the theatre.

As audiences today watch the War on Terror, hypnotized by the extremist evil-doers, a pitiless oligarchy creeps unseen into the room. Our challenge is to break the spell of the B-movie of 9/11. Only when people sense the genuine danger and leave behind fiction and special effects will they be in a position to deal with the real monster that confronts us.

  1. Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2017).
  2. September 11: A Warning from Hollywood,” BBC Panorama (BBC, March 24, 2002).
  3. Ibid.
  4. Spectacle, the visual aspect of dramatic action, was included in Aristotle’s Poetics as an essential element of drama. As for conflict and violence, see Lew Hunter, Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 (New York: Perigee, 1993), pp. 19, 22 ff.
  5. “Hollywood: The Pentagon’s New Advisor,” BBC Panorama (BBC, 2002); Sharon Weinberger, “Hollywood’s Secret Meet,” Wired, March 16, 2007.
  6. Weinberger, “Hollywood’s Secret Meet.”
  7. “Hollywood: The Pentagon’s New Advisor.”
  8. Weinberger, “Hollywood’s Secret Meet.”
  9. September 11: A Warning from Hollywood.”
  10. September 11: A Warning from Hollywood.”
  11. “Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice,” U.S. government archives, May 16, 2002.
  12. Alec Russell, “9/11 Report Condemns ‘failure of Imagination,’” The Telegraph, July 23, 2004.
  13. Sean Alfano, “Iconic Director Robert Altman Dead At 81,” CBS/AP, November 21, 2006.
  14. “The Motion Picture As A Weapon of Psychological Warfare.” Matthew Alford, National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood (Drum Roll Books, 2017), p. 31. The document itself can be found on the Internet.
  15. History Commons: Military Exercises Up to 9/11,” n.d. before_9/11=militaryExercises&timeline=complete_911_timeline.
  16. The New York Times, having obtained the World Trade Center Task Force interviews from the City of New York through a lawsuit, hosts the documents on its website. The interviews are in the form of separate PDF files. Each file is identified by the interviewee’s name. “World Trade Center Task Force Interviews” (City of New York, 2002 2001).
  17. From an interview with Cooper quoted in “King Kong,” Wikipedia, accessed August 6, 2017.
  18. “World Trade Center Task Force Interviews.” See note 18.
  19. Ibid. (See note 18).
  20. The best summary in recent years is Ted Walter, BEYOND MISINFORMATION: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7 (Berkeley, California: Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Inc., 2015).
  21. Graeme MacQueen, “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters’ Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, August 2006.
  22. Tim Martin, “Godzilla: Why the Japanese Original Is No Joke,” The Telegraph, May 15, 2014.
  23. The earliest attempt I know of is by Jim Hoffman. See “The North Tower’s Dust Cloud: Analysis of Energy Requirements for the Expansion of the Dust Cloud Following the Collapse of 1 World Trade Center, Version 3.1,” 9-11 Research, October 16, 2003.
  24. Walter, BEYOND MISINFORMATION: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7. See Chapter 3, note 13. Full references to Korol’s articles can be found at Adnan Zuberi’s compilation accompanying “9/11 in the Academic Community: Academia’s Treatment of Critical Perspectives on 9/11—Documentary.”
  25. Hoffman, “The North Tower’s Dust Cloud: Analysis of Energy Requirements for the Expansion of the Dust Cloud Following the Collapse of 1 World Trade Center, Version 3.1”; Reijo Yli-Karjanmaa, “Energetic Examination of the Collapse of the North Tower of the WTC, Version 3.1,” June 18, 2005.
  26. Trailer, The Blob, 1958.

U.S. “Jihadi Express”: Indonesia, Afghanistan, Syria, Philippines

It was late at night but the new Terminal 3 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport outside Jakarta was still bustling with families and friends waiting for their loved ones returning from abroad.

My friend Noor Huda Ismail was just arriving from Singapore, and I decided to pick him up and discuss ‘certain issues’ with him in the car, on the way to the capital. Lately he and I were busy, awfully busy, and a one-hour journey seemed to be the most appropriate setting for the exchange of at least some essential ideas and information.

Noor Huda Ismail and I

Huda could easily pass for the most knowledgeable Indonesian “expert on terrorism”; a Muslim man who grew up and was educated in the madrasahs that have produced some of the most notorious jihadi cadres in the country. Later he became the man who managed to ‘get away’ from the extremism, to study, and to finally become a respected filmmaker and a thinker.

For years, both of us have been studying a complex web produced by Western imperialism – a web, which has literally destroyed entire countries, while locking other ones ‘behind bars’, in virtual neo-colonialist slavery. All this done in the name of ‘freedom’ and democracy, naturally, and often using various religions as tools, even as weapons.

Inside the car we managed to quickly ‘compare notes’. Huda filled me in on his groundbreaking film Jihad Selfie, while I informed him about my political revolutionary novel Aurora, and my big work in progress, a book about Afghanistan. I also mentioned my future ‘Afghan’ film, a dark love story, a drama about betrayal, collaboration and the virtual collapse of one family; a film which I’m preparing to produce and direct sometime during the next year.

“Afghanistan,” he says, “that’s where the roots of so many things lie… You recall that in the 80’s, the U.S. was using some local, Indonesian, jihadi cadres, sending them to Afghanistan…”

I knew about it; I knew something, but not everything. The fact that both Indonesian and Malaysian citizens went to fight against the Soviet Union, Karmal, and then Mohammad Najibullah’s government in Afghanistan, was something that I have never yet addressed in my books or films. Now I suddenly felt that it was important, extremely important, to address this fact.

“Huda,” I asked, as we were slowly progressing through perpetual traffic jam of Jakarta, “how many Indonesian men went to fight in Afghanistan, after the 1979 Soviet intervention?”

Huda didn’t hesitate. He always knows the numbers:

Just from one group, there were 350 fighters. Indonesians fought in Afghanistan, and were based in a camp belonging to Ittehad-al-Islami (Islamic Union). Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf ran the camp. Of course Rab Rasul Sayyaf is Wahhabi, and the Wahhabis have been fully funded by the U.S. What we are seeing now, all those ‘terrorist threats’, is a blowback effect, of what the U.S. has done in the region, specifically in Afghanistan. And even the ISIS now: in 2003 they came to topple Saddam…

Could I meet one of the Afghan ‘alumni’ here in Jakarta?

“Of course you can,” he nodded, “I’ll arrange it, while you are here.”

*****

Before an encounter with an “Afghan” jihadi cadre, I travelled to the city of Bandung, where I met Iman Soleh, a professor at the Faculty of Social and Political Science (University of Padjadjaran – UNPAD). He is yet another renowned authority on ‘terrorism’. He came to my hotel, accompanied by his wife, Professor Antik Bintari, a conflict management expert who teaches at the same university.

Prof Iman Soleh and Prof Antik Bintar

For quite some time, professor Iman Soleh and I discussed the link between the ‘old guard’ Southeast Asian (mainly Indonesians and Malaysians) jihadi cadres, so-called ‘Afghan alumni’, and the vanguard, a ‘new wave’, that which is now trying to destabilize, even destroy both Syria and the Philippines.

While the name ‘jihad’ itself has been used habitually and ‘liberally’ all over the Western mainstream media, it was clear to all of us at the table that behind the brutal combat as well as most of the horrors unleashed in such places like Syria and Philippines, hidden are the geopolitical interests of the West in general and of the United States in particular.

Professor Soleh has explained the latest ‘dynamics’:

Since World War Two, the U.S. was afraid of so-called ‘domino effects’. Among other things that are now happening in the Philippines under president Duterte, the government is curbing activities of the multi-national mining conglomerates, and the West cannot accept that. Philippines are putting its environmental concerns above the short-term profits! For the millions of left-wing activists here in Indonesia and all over Southeast Asia, Duterte is a role model.

Therefore, following the imperialist logic, the Philippines have to be attacked and destabilized, as has already been done to Syria. Defiance is punishable by death. And how else other than through the most effective weapons which the West has been utilizing for years and decades: extremist religious terrorist groups. What better assembly of fighters to choose for that difficult task than the jihadists from the groups that had already proven to be so effective and lethal in places such as Afghanistan?

Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) goodies on display in Jakarta

By now, almost nobody who is at least to some extent informed on the subject has any doubts that the West is mainly interested in maintaining ‘perpetual conflict’ in several regions of the world. As Professor Soleh observes:

I think all this is not just to ‘destabilize’ the Philippines, but also because the country has conflict areas that could be ‘nurtured’. The best example is predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao, vs. the rest of the Philippines, which is predominantly a Catholic country. As we know, the Philippines is also involved in the South China Sea dispute with the PRC, and the U.S. is trying to fully dominate the region…

And President Duterte is committing an ‘unpardonable crime’ in the eyes of Washington and London, by trying to resolve the territorial conflict with China, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

*****

But back to the “Jihadi Express…” It is important to understand the background:

The Indonesian jihadi, Salafi group Darul Islam, fought for a caliphate and against the secular and socialist state headed by President Sukarno, in the 1950’s and well into the 1960’s. “Terror is halal”, they used to say.

Professor Saleh further clarifies:

Eventually the Indonesian state dismantled ‘Darul Islam’, but there was an off-shoot of it created soon, ‘Komando Jihad’.

Komando Jihad later transformed into a transnational Southeast Asian group Jamaah Islamiyah (with its spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir). The group has been maintaining active links and cooperation with al-Qaeda and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, to name just two religious guerillas.

Fighters from Komando Jihad then went to Afghanistan. Ideologically they were hard-core Salafis, but with the Western support. They received Western help to acquire weapons and other basics. According to my contacts in the Indonesian intelligence community, the U.S. was backing this infiltration of Afghanistan by ‘Komando Jihad’ and by others. I’m also in possession of a piece of information that the Indonesian army (TNI) commander in the 1980’s, General Moerdani, was supporting Indonesian and Afghan jihadists, by supplying them with the weapons (including the AK-47’s).

Again, according to my Indonesian intelligence sources, the ‘departure’ itself of the Indonesian jihadists for Afghanistan was also directly helped by the U.S., under the cover of ‘Islamic study groups’ and other ‘communities’, and the route that was utilized was: Indonesia – Malaysia – Philippines – Afghanistan.

These are not well-publicized facts, but they should not surprise anyone familiar with Indonesian history: after the brutal 1965 U.S.-sponsored military/religious coup, Indonesia rapidly transformed itself from an anti-imperialist, internationalist and progressive country into the closest Western ally in the entire Southeast Asia. The main ‘ideology’ of the new fascist pro-Western regime of General Suharto became “anti-Communism”. For months and years, the Communists as well as alleged ‘Communists’ were slaughtered all over the archipelago, while Communist ideology was banned, as were the Chinese language and culture, including dragons and cakes. The anti-Communist propaganda became the main sample of the ‘intellectual’ diet. The fourth most populous country on Earth went through a total reset, became one of the most ‘religious’ places on Earth, and soon after collapsed both socially and intellectually.

Poster of Radical FPI in Jakarta

Allegations of “atheism” against the Communists were used in Indonesia in order to stir and radicalize thousands of potential and already existing jihadi cadres. Anti-atheism, even anti-secularism, became the rallying cry of those who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the ultimate goal and dream – a caliphate.

The West in Afghanistan played the same ‘game’, during the “Soviet era”, as it did in Indonesia after 1965, and elsewhere. It is clear and obvious that the imperialist scheme designed in Washington and London has been interchangeable and successfully applicable in many different geographical locations.

In Kabul, in March 2017, a legendary Afghan intellectual, Dr. Omara Khan Masoudi, explained to me:

The biggest mistake the Soviet Union made here was to attack religion outrightly. If they’d first stuck to equal rights, and slowly worked it up towards the contradictions of religion, it could perhaps have worked… But they began blaming religion for our backwardness, in fact for everything. Or at least this is how it was interpreted by the coalition of their enemies, and of course by the West.

Now, why is the present Western invasion so ‘successful’; why is there so little in terms of intellectual opposition? Look at the regime in Kabul… During its rule, the US convinced people that Western intervention was ‘positive’, ‘respectful of their religion and cultures’. They kept repeating ‘under this and that UN convention’, and again ‘as decided by the UN’… They used NATO, a huge group of countries, as an umbrella. There was a ‘brilliantly effective’ protocol that they developed… According to them, they never did anything unilaterally, always by ‘international consensus’ and in order to ‘help Afghan people’. On the other hand, the Soviet Union never had the slightest chance to explain itself. It was attacked immediately, and on all fronts.

In reality, the West has always been using (and finally it has managed to divert) Islam. Some great Muslim scholars, including those that I met in Teheran, believe that Washington, London, Paris and other centers of the Western imperialism and neo-colonialism, actually succeeded, in many parts of the world, to create a totally new and (to many true and intellectual Muslims) unrecognizable religion.

*****

Indonesian jihadi cadres hardened in Afghanistan and trained by the Pakistanis eventually returned to their country. There, they went to “work”, participating in such bloodlettings and killings as those in Ambon (Maluku) and Poso (Sulawesi). In Ambon the conflict continued from 1999 to 2002, and while it lasted, allegedly 8,000 people died, while thousands belonging to both sexes were involuntarily and brutally circumcised and genitally mutilated. In Ambon, I saw the jihadi cadres in action, hacking to death a young innocent boy, right in front of the eyes of a cheering crowd of onlookers. I later described the horror of this incident in my novel Point of No Return.

Little did I know, then, what I was really witnessing and trying to document. Only much later, in Bandung, in May 2017, a couple of professors, Iman Soleh and Antik Bintari, explained to me:

Poso and Ambon, that’s the “Afghani Link”. During those massacres, there were still some ‘old jihadists’ from the Afghan days, participating in the actual fighting. However, there were also some ‘fresh’ fighters there, many of them undergoing exercises with the Indonesian ‘Afghans’. Poso and Ambon conflicts were in fact serving as two training grounds. After that, a new generation of combatants had risen.

*****

That same night – very late at night – after driving for hours on hopelessly congested highway that connects the cities of Bandung and Jakarta, I met Mr. Farihin, an active member of the outlawed “JI” (Jamaah Islamiyah), a man who personally met Osama bin Laden, a warrior who fought in Paktia and other provinces in Afghanistan, a former Mujahedeen, an unapologetic jihadist.

I was longing to know, to understand, how the old ‘Afghan alumni’ were thinking, how they saw the world, and what their goals were.

JI fighter Farihin

Mr. Farihin was actually an impressive human being: upright, strong, manly, proud, extremely polite, and totally brainwashed…

His hatred for Communism knew no boundaries; it was epic. He dreamed, he ‘saw’ Communists everywhere, all over the world: in Syria, in the present-day Russia, even in Karzai’s and Ghani’s Afghanistan. Anything remotely secular, anything that was not a caliphate, was “Communist” in his simple but determined mind of a combatant.

We began with Osama bin Laden:

I met Osama fleetingly, in 1987 and 1988, but in those days he was not an ‘ulama’. He was funding Mujahedeen. He was a contractor in Paktia Province and he was based in the north of that province, in an Arab camp, helping Mujahedeen and also building the roads. After Soviets entered Afghanistan, Osama’s people made a ‘council’; it was like a shadow Mujahedeen government.

Mr. Farihin came to Afghanistan in 1987. After his group NII (Negara Islam Indonesia – Islamic State of Indonesia) received ‘an invitation’ from Mujahedeen.

What prompted him to go to Afghanistan?

There was news all over Indonesia, that a Muslim country was attacked by the Soviet Union. My initial desire was to fight the USSR. At the beginning I was not allowed to fight, and it was not Afghanistan where I was sent; it was Pakistan. I was ordered to study at Etihad Islami Military Academy there. At some point, all foreign jihadis had to leave Pakistan, so we were moved directly to Afghanistan. In Paktia Province they built an entire camp for us. We were attacked by the Soviets there, on several occasions; us, as well as the ‘Arab Camp’. MIG-21 jet fighters were used. But by then, Russians were already beginning their withdrawal. After the Soviets left, Afghanistan was still governed by a Communist government, so we fought it, too. I was ready to fight: first the Soviets, than that Communist Afghan governments. I saw Russian prisoners, pilots, shackled, in Pakistan. I was not affraid of them.

I quickly noticed that Mr. Farihin was not proud of the support his group and Mujahedeen in general were receiving from the United States and the rest of the West. He kept repeating that he did not “see” any direct U.S. support, that supplies just kept coming from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Muslim countries. For him, it was essential that his fight in Afghanistan would be seen as a ‘pure’, pan-Islamic struggle.

I was not there to contradict him, I was there to listen.

He spoke about the fronts on which he had fought: Nangarhar, Jalalabad among others: “I was rotating between the fronts. The war, the battles were ‘orderly’”.

“But what was the goal?” I asked.

He didn’t hesitate one single moment.

The goal was simple: in Afghanistan we wanted to prevent the Communist ideology from being accepted.

How much did he know about the Communism?

Actually, my knowledge about it was very shallow. That’s fine: we were war machines for Mujahedeen. What we were told was that the Communists don’t believe in God, and that they are professing secularism.

I wondered whether they knew anything about the improving medical system, about the all of a sudden decent education, about public housing, transportation, and culture?

Almost everything done by the Communists was good, I know… But because they believed in Communism and socialism, it was not right, it was ‘haram’. Our pledge to God was what really mattered. In terms of importance, God was Number 1, and only then came the world of humans.

I asked him how he sees Afghanistan now.

As long as their government is Communist, we’ll fight it… And I pray that Taliban wins.

For a moment I thought that I had misunderstood: the Afghanistan government is Communist? Doesn’t he know anything about the U.S., about the Western occupation?

Yes but the U.S. went to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, not Communism. The government is still Communist; a puppet regime of Russia.

I quickly changed the subject, but things did not improve. I asked him about Syria, about Iraq. He replied politely:

I train, we train volunteers who are ready to go and fight in Syria. It is because Syria is not only Communist, you know – Assad and Russians – but also it is Shi’a.

Being Shi’a is an arch crime in today’s Indonesia. People are getting killed, ostracized, and intimidated for being Shi’a. I witnessed it once, on the island of Madura.

‘Aghan alumni’ are training fighters that are ready to go abroad, both ideologically and militarily. Whether the government knows, I’m not sure. Perhaps intelligence knows. During Suharto era, the fight against Communism was supported. I saw Indonesian intelligence operating in the Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar, Pakistan. We were told by the Pakistani intelligence that the Indonesian intelligence was deployed in the region. Indonesia was then supporting Mujahedeen, and we were receiving some Indonesian supplies, including food. Indonesia and Pakistan were then very good friends; Pakistani intellegence made our life very easy: we were going back and forth, freely, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the border, while civilians were not allowed…

And what was their fee? Certainly jihad is not fought for free?

The lowest pay was then US$150 per month, a lot of money in poor Indonesia, in the late 1980’s. Between US$300 and US$400 for the officers.

Before we parted, we talked about Afghanistan, the country. He remembered it fondly:

I like the country, it is beautiful. I liked religious life there. Afghans were very kind to us, treated us like guests… We were offered their women, too, to marry, but the dowry was too high. Some had blue eyes, and we wanted to marry them, badly, but really: we couldn’t afford their women with our modest ‘salaries’.

Does he miss Afghanistan?

“Yes.”

“Me, too,” I nodded. “But I’m going back, soon.”

We didn’t embrace. By then he sensed that we belonged to the opposite sides of the barricade, and that most likely we were arch enemies. But until we parted, both of us remained polite, excessively polite: the Afghan way.

*****

Dina Y. Sulaeman

“Jihad in Indonesia – against the Western imperialism? Oh no, no way…” smiles Dina Y. Sulaeman, an Indonesian political analyst, an author of the book Salju Di Aleppo (Snow of Aleppo):

Jihad in which Indonesians want to participate is based on hate… In my book, I explain that the Indonesian fighters in Syria are mainly affiliated with several groups: ‘Ikhwanul Muslimin’, ‘Hizbut Tahrir’ and Al Qaeda/ISIS. Unfortunately these groups have supporters in Indonesia. They keep spreading fake photos and videos about Syria, to ignite sympathy, even anger of Indonesian people, so they give donations or even join jihad. It’s a good deal for them. They are waging ‘holy war’, they’ll go to heaven, and plus they get paid. They accuse president Assad of being ‘infidel’. That’s their rallying cry.

Indonesian mass media ‘coverage’ is only directly translating what is said by the Western media: the CNN, the BBC and others…. If not those, then at least Al-Jazeera which is often even worse… As a result, Indonesians are ‘very concerned’ about Syria.’ Of course, in my books I’m trying to correct the misconceptions, but the propaganda apparatus is so powerful.

“Like in Afghanistan,” I add.

Earlier I asked Noor Huda Ismail: “But the Afghan ‘alumni’ and the ISIS do not necessarily like each other, do they?”

Huda nods, but then he adds:

Al-Qaida and ISIS do not get along well. In the context, most of the fighters, those who support ISIS, they have been gathering in the same mosque. They are using social media. Maybe the Afghan ‘alumni’ and the ISIS supporters do not like each other, but they share the same ideology; the root, the matter is the same, which is toppling and challenging the secular systems.

“Including the one in Indonesia.”

“Yes, including the one here.”

Jihadi Express is now rolling, gaining speed. One country after another is being shred to pieces under its merciless wheels.

Those who think that it is “all about oil” are mistaken.  The West is, of course, trying to control, fully and brutally, all that moves in the Middle East, North Africa and as far as Iran and Afghanistan. But that’s definitely not all: jihadi groups, created by the West and its allies in the Gulf, have been used to destabilize the two greatest adversaries of the West: Russia and China.

Soviet Union was tricked into Afghanistan in 1979, and then brutally destroyed. Afghanistan itself was ‘sacrificed’ in the process, its social structures broken, and all hope its people were enjoying, choked. China is now also greatly suffering from the operations of several Muslim terrorist groups, as well as from other religious implants, which are without exception supported by the West.

The Philippines is most likely the next ‘front’. It has been for years and decades, in Sulu and elsewhere, but as this report goes to print, things are deteriorating, getting more and more desperate there.

To fight terrorism in such places like Syria and Afghanistan, has been and will be increasingly, one of the main foreign policy goals of both Moscow and Beijing; in order to help those countries under siege, but also in order to prevent them from becoming the training grounds of the ‘anti-Communist’ and anti-secularist terrorist armies.

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

The Mother of All Bombs Goes to Afghanistan

These are the times where magnitude and size matters. Bombs in number with much heft and presence are being sought to root out those non-state jihadists of the Prophet, destructively maiming and killing all before them in the name of the next heavily drawn out cause.

On Friday, United States armed forces busied themselves with dropping such a weapon of truly lethal size against a country that has had more bombs directed at it than worthy industrial incentives in half a century.

It seemed to rival the announcement of a birth, and it was, in fact, sanctified as the “Mother of All Bombs” known less romantically as the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast. (The only other conventional weapon of greater scale is the physically suggestive Massive Ordnance Penetrator, coming in at a busting 30,000 pounds.)

The use of this particular weapon was tediously familiar, reminding villagers on the ground in Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan how their country has become fun and fodder for US air strikes since Trump came to power.

The new president, in turn, has built on the murderous momentum ushered in by the outgoing Obama presidency, which stepped up airstrikes in dramatic fashion with the departure of the majority of coalition troops two years ago. Afghanistan remains a vacuum repeatedly filled by failed missions and violent urges.

Bombs of enormous power, short of the nuclear variety, were deployed against an elusive Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  The issue then, as now, was his use of labyrinthine tunnel complexes.  The weapons of choice then were 15,000 pound “daisy cutters” with a supposedly adept pulverising capability.

In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Air Force Research Laboratory wished to add more punch to such weapons, designing a MOAB, ostensibly as a deterrent against the soon-to-be-deposed Saddam Hussein.

The 21,600 pound beast was used against a complex of tunnels supposedly designed by Islamic State, killing 36 militants.  A subsequent report from Afghan authorities raised that number to almost a hundred, though their US counterparts were staying mum.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously,” claimed the historically challenged White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, “and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did.”

General John W. Nicholson, US commander in Afghanistan, referenced the desperate tactics of the ISIS group as a justification for the weapon.  “As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defence.”  He further explained that, “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

In the meantime, WikiLeaks insisted on a dark irony to the whole story: those very same tunnels now being pulverised by mother bombs and what not were actually funded with resources from the Central Intelligence Agency.

WikiLeaks was hardly being controversial in mentioning it, citing a report from the New York Times by Mary Anne Weaver noting how the Tora Bora tunnel complex was envisaged and constructed during the war against the Soviet Union. “It’s miles of tunnels, bunkers and base camps, dug deeply into the steep rock walls, had been part of a CIA-financed complex built for the mujahedeen.”

There was a repeated sense that this entire episode was one for show, the usual bullyboy psychology power tends to encourage.  For one, would the North Koreans take note of this phallocentric display of might?  The regime in Pyongyang has been more erratic, and theatrical, of late, keeping up with the Trump administration’s own sense of thespian bluster.

Using such a weapon also carried various risks, not least of all the prospect of obliterating villagers in proximity of the oxygen hungry blast.  In the optimistic and unconvincing overview given by Dawlat Waziri, Afghan ministry spokesman, the bomb had avoided causing mayhem to the civilian population.  “No civilian has been hurt and only the base, which Daesh use to launch attacks in other parts of the province, was destroyed.”

Where such a monstrosity fits into the legitimate canons of international law is hard to see. At worst, it has been destructive to sovereignty and the restrained use of force.  “Through its use of blunt military force on non-state actors in South and West Asia,” Arun Mohan Sukumar solemnly notes, “the US had systematically weakened the restraints that the United Nations imposes on all countries, big and small.”

Blanket justifications for such actions keep pivoting on UN Security Council Resolution 1373, deeming terrorism to be a “threat against international peace and security”, granting states the authority to target terrorism “by all means”. An unfortunate and unguarded choice of words.

The actual impact of the weapon in terms of overall strategy is also shrouded in vague Pentagon speak and speculation, the sort typical in this long, misnamed period called the “War on Terror”.  It was, according to one spokesman, merely “projected… that the bomb has the ability to collapse the tunnels” upon combatants operating within them.  Assessments would have to follow, and these would not necessarily be conclusive.

What a wonderful sense of purpose for this Easter: a massacre, another sovereign violation and an entire compromise of values in the name of military bravado.  All of this merely adds to the fact that Afghanistan has become a military test site for the United States, one where belligerent big boys may test their murderous toys with minimal restraint.