The Mechanics of Politics by Other Means, From the 50's to the 20's : A study in USA foreign political mechanics [updated]
A study in USA foreign political mechanics [updated]
[Image from here; no attribution given]
Publication date: 2021-09-07
Update: 2021-09-12, added a new source by James Corbett. It is wonderful. Notes on it appear at the end of the Sources section.
As the chaos of the USA uniformed withdrawal played out in the FCM (Fawning Corporate Media) with it interviewing those who advocated for the Afghan boondoggle in the first place, a more thoughtful analysis was happening in the independent media. While ignoring the former and enjoying the latter I got to thinking about the transition to covert operations post WWII and then taking that and placing it in geographic context of central Asia.
As I assembled a very coarse summary of the politics of a subsection of the region to geographically contextualize the article, a veil of deliberately disingenuous language was lifted. I hope the reader enjoys the historical tour and the semantic revelation.
The World Wars
Three simple observations can be made post the two world wars of the 20th century.
War can be profitable for the victor, and certainly allows for large changes in geopolitics, from redrawing borders to creating nations
War itself is horrific and generates massive public political pushback unless huge amounts of propaganda and media control are employed
Covert operations are effective. They are cheaper and do not require the same degree of propaganda because they are covert.
As a part of the massive reorganization of the USA's national defence infrastructure in the 1947 National Security Act, the CIA is born. With one tiny little passage (see sources for the section and citation of the law) the pre-existing Office of Strategic Services (OSS) is merged as the operations wing into the intelligence gathering agency.
As the decades roll by the CIA, often in cahoots with their UK brethren MI6, overthrow governments from Iran (53) to Guatemala (54) and Chile (73), with many more. Through the control of the drug trade largely established during the USA-Vietnam War the CIA's operations wing learn how to launder drug money via things like the Mafia and the Nugen-Hand Bank (Australia). Sufficient proficiency has been obtained by the time the CIA is getting their fingers around the Cocaine trade and funding the Contra's in Nicaragua that they deploy what came to be known as the "Off the Shelf Enterprise". They are selling TOW missiles to Hezbollah in Iran and transferring the money to the deposed Nicaraguan president whose "guard", the Contras, are fighting a guerrilla insurgency in which tens of thousands of civilians are massacred. Meanwhile, heroin from the previously established drug networks in the Golden Triangle are augmented with cocaine trafficking from Columbia to further finance many a "covert operation".
(Covert) War as Politics by Other Means
The 25 year period between 1961 and 1986 is a fascinating window into the cold war and USA/CIA/FBI skulduggery. USA President John F. Kennedy avoids getting entangled in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. A potentially world devastating nuclear war is avoided by a single Russian submarine commander during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Plans for a "draw down" of USA involvement in the USA-Vietnam War are buried with the assassination of JFK. The USA-Vietnam War is intensified as new forms of chemical mass murder are tested. Political movements emerge the likes of which the USA had not seen since the great depression and the labour movement. Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Robert Kennedy are assassinated to maintain control of the political system by varying actors including the Military, the CIA, the Mafia and the FBI, with approval by banking and monied interests.
Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq
In 1964 the Afghan King promulgates a constitution providing a legislative assembly with some liberal reforms. This lasts until 1973 when a republic is declared by coup leaders, thus overthrowing the monarchy. In 1978 a socialist/communist government overthrows the 1973 coup leaders.
In Iran in 1953 the USA/UK coup overthrows democratically elected Mohammed Mossedegh and reinstates the Shah (King) because Iran wanted to nationalize its oil which the now oil dependent British Navy could not tolerate. The Shah employed a national intelligence group called the SAVAK who were brutal. This drove underground resistance into the mosques. In 1979 a revolution lead by groups formed within the mosques takes, and still holds, power.
During the early 1960's both Syria and Iraq come under Ba'ath party rule and much very complex politics ensues in the region, not the least being the 1967 war by Israel. This Israeli war included the attempted “all hands” sinking of the non-combatant spy ship the USS Liberty. (The Liberty’s crew are the most decorated for a single action in USA naval history.) In 1972 Iraq signs a memorandum of friendship with the Soviet Union. In 1979 Saddam Hussein takes power.
All of this follows in the wake of a wave of anti-imperialism during the 50’s including leaders such as Egypt’s Nasser and his success in nationalizing the Suez Canal which broke the UK’s empire and mortally damaged France’s. This global anti-colonial struggle is whitewashed out of history by “THE Cold War”.
1979 is an incredibly important year for the middle east/central asian region including Hussein's rise to power, the Iranian revolution and early consolidation of the first socialist/communist government in Afghanistan. What follows is more chaos.
Hussein's Iraq launches a war in 1980 against Iran that would last until 1988 during which WWI type trench warfare is employed and Iraq uses USA supplied/sold chemical weapons against Iran. As noted, the CIA sells TOW missiles to Hezbollah in Iran. Thus, the USA is selling weapons to both sides of the conflict by different agencies for different political objectives on different continents.
In Afghanistan the CIA, matched "dollar for dollar" by the Saudis, through the Pakistan intelligence service (ISI), fund and train Sunni extremists to destabilize the Afghan socialist/communist government. Estimates vary between 6 and 40 USD billion for expenditure for these radical fighters, including one Osama bin Laden.
At the end of 1979 the USSR comes to the aid of the Afghan government to resist the USA/Saudi funded extremist insurrection composed of local Pashtun, Pakistani Pashtun and many foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia and India, amongst other countries.
If one takes a snapshot of these three neighbouring countries in say, 1981, one sees USA support for the Iraq war against Iran (vengeance for overthrowing the Shah), and a combined USA/Saudi/Pakistani support for a civil war in Afghanistan to give the USSR "its own Vietnam". Looking from an Iranian perspective they're being attacked by USA supplied Iraq on their west and watching a USA/Saudi/Pakistani civil war in Afghanistan on their east, with Pakistan on the other side of their southern border.
Sidebar: Historical Revisionism
In USA parlance the USSR "invaded" Afghanistan and thereafter the USSR "collapsed". These terms are idiotically stupid propaganda. Afghanistan had a socialist government, that the USSR likely had a strong hand in creating (I don't know, just guessing) and definitely financially supported. To what effect was that support? Building schools and hospitals and educating the people, and giving Afghan women the greatest support they have ever seen. Was political repression and extrajudicial killing happening? Yep, same as the entirety of Afghani history, and that of the USA to boot. If you say "no extrajudicial killing or political repression in USA history", I say: American Indians, Slaves and COINTELPRO. Nonetheless, the USSR was with its funding of social infrastructure also using that influence to promote its political agenda upon peoples of a very different political bent. Promoting atheism amongst a population dominated by Sunni and Shi'a Moslems is a Sisyphean task. But, "invade" they did not. You can tell by the reaction of the Afghan Army of the time. And withdraw they did after having reached a compact with neighbouring countries and having negotiated travel out of the country with the (perhaps purchased) consent of appropriate trial leaders (or warlords, call them what you will).
As for the "collapse" of the USSR, this really gets my goat. It was a political meeting in the Ukraine during which the dissolution was agreed. They knew that the USSR was in trouble and planned a "cut your losses" exit strategy. The "collapse" happens during the 1990's with Chicago Boys' engineered rapacious public asset fire sales leading to mass deaths, a huge reduction in life expectancy and the creation of a new financial elite. It is this which leads to Putin, a nationalist, autocrat with strong public support because under his leadership many people's lives were improved and national pride was restored. This is yet another example of short term financial gain blinding any greater strategic objective in the eyes of the USA policy elite. This is now so endemic that the USA’s “adversaries” assume that they can play against it.
While the "invading" of Afghanistan by the USSR is a blatant lie, the USA narrative which declares that the counter-insurgency campaign from which the USSR orderly withdrew then caused the "collapse" of the USSR is equally fallacious. Scholars of the USSR place the Afghan affair somewhere in the small to moderate categories for the dissolution. It certainly was not a "cause". Thus, one sees a consistent misrepresentation of history in the USA narrative for this period of Afghan and Soviet history and this misrepresentation has been going on for decades. Don’t even whisper “who won WWII?”
To top it all off the USA FCM is now, during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, talking about the ending of "the longest war in USA history". Smack yourself in the teeth with a pitchfork. The longest war was against the indigenous peoples of the land within the current USA borders. The July 4th 1776 declaration of independence is followed by the Revolutionary War which ends in 1783. So, lets count from 1783. Even damned Wikipedia lists wars against the indigenous population up to 1924. So, that's 141 years of war against the rightful custodians of the land who had been living there for at least 10 000 years. It makes the USA-Afghan war look like a bar brawl.
Saudi, Iraq and the "Spring"
Enough of arguing about verbs and adjectives. Back to modern history ...
Iraq's Hussein asked the USA what to do about the Kuwaiti "slant drilling" into their oil fields. The USA response was, to paraphrase, that they considered this a "local problem". The implication is that the USA would not become involved. Hussein had failed to "win" the war he instigated (with USA approval) against Iraq. (The war is little known in the "west" but when referred to it is the “Iran-Iraq” war, which is deliberately backwards. It was the Iraq-Iran war for Iraq started it). So, a quick attack on Kuwait to let them know that stealing Iraqi oil is not acceptable would be useful politically for Hussein to cover the failed war with Iran. Perhaps geographically strategic was that Iraq has a tiny little coastline and control of Kuwait would expand that greatly. Whatever. Mr Megalomaniac invades Kuwait and the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the USA is trained by a USA PR firm to cry in front of congress to generate the outrage necessary for a USA military campaign against the baby-killing-bastards.
To do "shock and awe 1.0" the USA needed local air fields. The logistics of aircraft carriers aren't up to snuff. So, a negotiation goes down with the Saudis for bases there, and the upgrading of harbors to permit USA naval vessels (more logistics). Dick Cheney shows the Saudis satellite photos of Iraqi divisions and implies that they wont stop in Kuwait but are coming for you. The solution is "give us bases" and "we'll defend you". A counter offer comes in from Osama bin Laden. "I have 30 000 trained troops which can defend us", or some similar number. If you let the infidels in, they will never leave! The counter-counter offer from the USA uses some extra cheese to get the Saudi's to agree to the bases they want. This is what sets a bin Laden IED off; the leading Saudi families have sold out to the "infidels". Thereafter follows the attacks on USA consulates in east Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, and the first attack on the World Trade Center.
With all of the covert operations around the world between the end of WWII and the dissolution of the USSR the USA fights two large scale overt wars, in Korea and Vietnam. The Korean War was theoretically a UN operation but staffed by 90% USA military. The war is still not over, but stalemated in an armistice where the nation with 50% of the world’s economic productivity could not win the war.
Vietnam was a gulf of Tonkin, false flag enabled, chemical warfare disaster in which more bombs were dropped than during WWII. But, the lesson is clear. Covert operations are successful and relatively cheap, if immoral, while overt warfare is a loss to all but the military contractors and leadership, and also immoral. Choose your poison.
Iraq War 1.0 was dominantly a psychological operation. Its purpose was "we are the single, exceptional Hegemon and we are over the 'Vietnam Syndrome'". Secondarily, of course, it was to support Israel and remove a strong Arab nationalist leader, Hussein. Following the "its worth it" killing of 500 000 Iraqi children during the first big "sanctions campaign" of the 1990's, and ignoring the millions strong protests against the obvious stupidity of Iraq War 2.0, comes the opportunity of the pan-Arab uprisings of 2011; the "Arab Spring", which actually started in the Winter.
The Syria Proxy War
Television journalism during the USA-Vietnam war undermined it. Lessons were learned. The old Afghan "Mujaheddin" campaign had some media support. The imagery from the nose cones of missiles during Iraq war 1.0 was successful. But the "embedding" of journalists for Iraq war 2.0 was a better strategy to supply the cable news channels with appropriate imagery and commentary to bolster domestic support and cover its blatant illegitimacy. As soon as the USSR and its propaganda, much maligned by the USA, were gone, the USA goes full bore on its propaganda to justify illegal aggression. Who woulda thunk?
The Syria proxy-war has been a trial of a more coordinated covert media campaign. The "White Helmets", an organisation founded by a now deceased MI6 operative James Le Messurier was proposed for an Oscar; stellar propaganda! The "moderate rebels" were in actuality mercenaries paid by a rather strange coalition of the USA, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The weaponry and fighters from the "moderate rebels" would move between different factions of Sunni religious extremists. But, whichever "parading women in cages" or "beheading people in public" extremist group was there, the White Helmets headquarters was next to theirs. The job of the White Helmets was to produce propaganda for the West to support the insurgency with staged videos of rescuing people who were not in danger or showing gruesome images of people who actually suffered with the implication being that it was always the Syrian government to blame while the beheadings continued.
Similar tactics of implanting snipers to fire on both peaceful protesters and the police can be seen during the early protests of the Arab Spring in Syria (2011) and later in Maidan Square in the Ukraine (2014). Those indiscriminate sniper tactics are the spark, but to keep the fire burning fuel from the media is needed. Exposés of British networks from the Institute for Statecraft officially located at an abandoned lumber mill in the middle of a Scottish nowhere to the Integrity Initiative housed in inner London have been shown to be military intelligence operations funded by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO's contracts for media influence run to the Reuters Foundation and many other minor players like Bellingcat.
The new tactic is covert public funding for a "human rights/saving people" group in the case of the White Helmets with other media influence operations running in parallel.
The lies about "chemical weapons" in Syria are an interesting component. For these are classic false flag operations which included political subversion of the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (see sources; Aaron Mate). This last influence operation is very, very nasty for it undermines an effort to eradicate chemical weapons. Similar past stories can be told about efforts to outlaw the use of mines and cluster munitions which kill civilians, more civilians, the odd army sapper and a british royal who eloped with a moslem.
The funding and arming of the Mujaheddin by the USA/CIA and Saudi Arabia was successful in drawing the USSR into a conflict. A decade later the USSR runs an orderly retreat and leaves in place a government that survives for two and half years. The USA comparison is very instructive.
They choose to invade and stay and bribe warlords and a puppet government. A nationalist and religious resistance sees the corrupt government and occupation for what it is and resists. Two decades later the USA performs a disorderly retreat having delivered very little social infrastructure (water, sanitation, power, roads, schools, hospitals) but having successfully spent lots of mulla on its military industrial complex. On the "final" date of the USA withdrawal there is no Afghan government. Indeed the USA funded and trained ex-World Bank technocrat presidential puppet, Ghani, boards a plane with USD 169 million in cash and flees the country summarizing the entire escapade.
Repositioning bribed religious extremist forces in the middle east has been, and will continue to be the regional CIA Operations modus operandi. The USA's seizure of 9 billion USD of the Afghan state's reserves and its pressure to deny aid to Afghanistan shows an intent to create suffering and social chaos in Afghanistan, especially during the upcoming winter. This, of course, creates the opportunities for remote funded opposition forces to fuel a new proxy war. It also creates financial pressure on the local regional powers (China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India) to support Afghanistan to prevent this starvation and a proxy war.
Russian intelligence agencies have learned how to penetrate extremist networks via their experience in aiding Syria. The Syrian Arab Army did become a proficient fighting force, but the Russian military have also honed their skills against this type of extremist insurgency.
Turning the Wheel
What we are seeing with the uniformed USA withdrawal from Afghanistan is a turning of the kaleidoscope of hybrid warfare. Uniformed are out. Covert, informational and economic brigades are to take up the slack.
The CIA will do everything it can to destabilize whatever government emerges in Afghanistan because it will be under the influence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, predominantly China and Russia. A stable Afghanistan is an important linkage in the economic unification of Asia, and that unification is a deep threat to the already collapsing USA hegemony.
I am not blaming the CIA here, although I detest their covert funding via drugs and arms running. They are trained for the job that they do to support the USA's financial elite as most eloquently articulated by the USA's most decorated Marine General Smedley Butler:
“National Security Act of 1947” ,Sec. 104A. [50 U.S.C. §403-4a] part (d) sub-section 4, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (USA)
(4) perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the Director of National Intelligence may direct.
Special Operations Field Manual - Special Services, The Director of Strategic Services, United States Army Special Operations Command, publication date unknown
The Ghosts of Nugan Hand: A New Chapter in a Long-Running CIA Bank Mystery, Jeff Stein, Newsweek, 2015-11-12
Iran Contra Affair, (no author), Romero Institute, (publication date unknown)
How the Bay of Pigs Invasion Changed JFK, Peter Feuerherd, Daily JSTOR, 2019-04-11
Thank you Vasili Arkhipov, the man who stopped nuclear war, Edward Wilson, The Guardian, 2012-10-27
JFK and the Unspeakable (Book), James W. Douglass, Simon and Schuster
Agent Orange, Encyclopedia Brittanica
Interview 1272 – William Pepper Reveals Who Really Killed MLK, James Corbett interviews William Pepper, Corbett Report, 2017-04-29
The Great Game of Smashing Nations, John Pilger, Consortium News, 2021-08-24
The breakup of the Soviet Union ended Russia's march to democracy, Stephen Cohen (RIP), The Guardian, 2006-12-13
U.S. EX-ENVOY INDICTED IN KUWAITI 'FRONTS', John M. Goshko, Washington Post, 1992-06-08
Profile: Osama bin Laden, (no author), Council on Foreign Relations, last updated 2007-09-01
I would not depend on much of the above article, but it does at least acknowledge bin Laden's offer of troops trained in the Afghan war to defend Saudi Arabia against the unlikely threat of Iraqi invasion. It is difficult to find this acknowledged. It is mentioned on bin Laden's wikipedia page, though. I dont know which is worse, CFR or Wikipedia? Oooooh, indistinguishable …
Interview 1342 – Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets, James Corbett and Vanessa Beeley, Corbett Report, 2018-08-02
Inside the temple of covert propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s scandalous information war, Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone, 2018-12-17
Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat participated in covert UK Foreign Office-funded programs to “weaken Russia,” leaked docs reveal, Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone, 2021-02-20
Ex-OPCW chief defends Syria whistleblowers and reveals he was spied on before Iraq war, Aaron Mate, Pushback (The Grayzone), 2020-10-18
How elite US institutions created Afghanistan’s neoliberal President Ashraf Ghani, who stole $169 million from his country, Ben Norton, The Grayzone, 2021-09-02
Episode 123 – Meet Smedley Butler, James Corbett, Corbett Report, 2010-03-28
[update; new source]
Just released is James Corbett’s look at the history of Al Qaeda. It contains that information and a wonderful background in the transfer of influence in the middle east region post WWI from the British and French as they carve up the Ottoman empire to the USA post the Suez crisis in 1956. Following is a summary of local political history through the key year of 1979 (which he covers wonderfully) and into the Afghan war, before pushing on and focusing on the main topic of Al Qaeda. Highly recommended.
Episode 407 – False Flags: The Secret History of Al Qaeda — Part 1: Origin Story, James Corbett, Corbett Report, 2021-09-11
Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mine
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