Invisible History Blog
We'll explore anomalies we discovered while researching the causes of the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan. We look forward to your comments. Paul & Liz.
Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire
Focuses on the AfPak strategy and the importance of the Durand Line, the border separating Pakistan from Afghanistan but referred to by the military and intelligence community as Zero line. The U.S. fought on the side of extremist-political Islam from Pakistan during the 1980s and against it from Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. It is therefore appropriate to think of the Durand/Zero line as the place where America’s intentions face themselves; the alpha and omega of nearly 60 years of American policy in Eurasia. The Durand line is visible on a map. Zero line is not.(Coming February, 2011) (read more)
"A serious, sobering study... illuminates a critical point of view rarely discussed by our media...results of this willful ignorance have been disastrous to our national well-being."
Read the document that reveals an invasion of Afghanistan by the Shah of Iran was being prepared years before the Soviets invaded. Read more...
A 19th century philosophy still in use by Washington that infuses a sense of divine mission into the politics of empire building. Read more...
We'll explore anomalies we discovered while researching the causes of the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan. We look forward to your comments. Paul & Liz.
The Afghan think tank we collaborate with, New World Strategies Coalition, has released an important policy brief. Pashtun Awakening: Defeat the Taliban by Changing the Narrative outlines a solution for the disintegrating situation in Afghanistan that can work for all the Afghan people. ======================================================================================= FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Afghanistan Policy Brief
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The New World Strategies Coalition, a think tank founded by native Afghans which creates nonmilitary solutions for Afghanistan, released its latest policy brief today entitled, Pashtun Awakening: Defeat the Taliban by Changing the Narrative.
The policy brief outlines a solution for resolving the situation in Afghanistan by exposing how Pakistan has systemically weakened Afghanistan’s sacred tribal structure via its Taliban proxy. Pakistan and the Taliban have conspired to keep the Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, in the dark ages in order to advance Islamabad’s age-old agenda of controlling Kabul, by replacing the Afghan ancient tribal code with the extremist ideology of the Taliban – a process we refer to as “de-Pashtunization.”
The objective of this brief is to provide U.S. policymakers with a snapshot of the ground truth in Afghanistan so they can make informed decisions on how to best address the de-Pashtunization of Afghan society. The key to setting the Afghans free is by setting the truth free, as the brief explains:
There is still hope if the Pashtuns can restore their sacred tribal structure and identify the Taliban movement for what it really is – a religious mafia concocted on white boards in Rawalpindi.
In order to accomplish this, NATO and ISAF should focus on unifying the Pashtuns through a grassroots information campaign – a path that will be much more effective than the military option:
If the crux of the problem is a lost narrative the solution is taking it back from the jihadists who hijacked it. This calls for identifying, confronting and defeating propaganda through public diplomacy counterstrikes and preemptive psychological tactics.
The Policy Brief can be downloaded by clicking here.
We made a documentary with economist John Kenneth Galbraith and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) negotiator Paul Warnke on the eve of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Our timing with this issue made the Soviet invasion seem all too convenient. As we point out at the very end, it was President Carter who asked the Senate to hold back on ratification of SALT II following the invasion while having secretly authorized Brzezinski’s black project to lure the Soviets into Afghanistan in the first place. The Soviet invasion enabled the military/industrial/congressional complex to shift the political discussion permanently away from the civilian sector and towards the need for an unending military escalation of all sectors of the economy. It’s the basis of the false narrative of triumphalism our country is dying from today.
America’s Financial Armageddon and Afghanistan is an article we wrote that goes more deeply into the Cold War effects on today’s economy.
America’s Financial Armageddon and Afghanistan
by PAUL FITZGERALD and ELIZABETH GOULD September 14, 2011
The U.S. economy grinds down to a finish, it becomes increasingly difficult to measure whether Washington understands the importance of how to deal realistically with the worsening crisis in Afghanistan. Left off the front pages during the recent obsession with the debt crisis, Afghanistan has lurched back onto the scene in ways that are reminiscent of the Soviet collapse of two decades ago. After ten years of war, it seems Washington not only continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of Afghanistan, but it lacks an understanding of its own role in creating both the economic and political catastrophe it now faces.
Even less understood is how the political decisions of the late 1970s are tied to the current simultaneous financial and foreign policy crisis. Nor is it understood how Washington and Wall Street set the stage for America’s financial downfall by using Afghanistan as an investment bank throughout the 1980s to renew the Cold War instead of reinvesting in America’s civilian economy.
Much like today, the America of 1979 faced a crossroads. Vietnam, two oil shocks, a disintegrating infrastructure, a beleaguered manufacturing base and the loss of strategic ally Iran had shown that America was a vulnerable colossus. Thirty five years of economic Cold War against the Soviet Union and China had produced a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons that were proving as useless as they were unusable. World War II had set the stage for the happy marriage of war production to business — pulling the U.S. out of the depression by doubling the Gross National Product in one year (1940). The Cold War ushered the financial benefits of the 1940s into the 1950s and 1960s. But these expenditures came at a massive expense to the civilian economy and not just in terms of tax dollars. Weapons development of the post World War II years lured America’s best and brightest away from the civilian economy and even the real world of guns, tanks and armies into a world detached from time, space and money. While Germany and Japan rebuilt their civilian industries free from defense spending, the U.S. moved into ever higher levels of technology, glorifying and expanding the influence of the defense industry into every fabric of American life.
Originally termed Military Keynesianism to describe the buildup of the German defense industry prior to World War II, America’s military Keynesianism of the Cold War was the unseen hand of government supporting the American economy, balancing the cyclical ups and downs of the market by providing 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 1950s and 9 percent in the 1960s. By 1963 defense spending accounted for 52 percent of all the research and development done in the United States. But by the mid-1970s, a stagnant American economy combined with the Arab oil embargo and inflation brought on by the Vietnam War exposed the weakness in the system. As German and Japanese manufacturers battered their American competition in the marketplace, the defense-heavy American economy faltered.
Born of necessity, diplomatic overtures to China and détente with the Soviets offered the first chance since World War II to get off the wartime treadmill. To that end, for most of the decade the U.S. and Soviet Union pursued Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
Endorsed by President Nixon in 1972, it was hoped that the agreement signed by President Carter and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev would enable the United States to back away from weapons manufacturing and reinvest those resources in the civilian economy. But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed all that.
Our involvement in this story began in the summer of 1979 when we began production of a documentary we called Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. During the next months numerous experts including economist John Kenneth Galbraith lent their experience to our understanding of the unseen damage that a massive new diversion of tax dollars and capital investment would represent to the civilian economy. The arms race wasn’t just about defending the United States. The arms race was also about jobs and money in a dark world of business, science, and politics ruled over by a self-described “priesthood” of experts. Galbraith insisted that accelerated defense spending and renewing the Cold War, which the neoconservative right was lobbying hard for at the time, would ultimately destroy the civilian economy. He was convinced that the Cold War had already helped rigidify the capitalist system by bureaucratizing a large part of production for non-productive uses. He saw American industry becoming more and more like the Soviet Union, ruled by a military-industrial-academic establishment immune from reality, living in a planned economy designed to suit its own needs at the expense of society.
Galbraith jokingly referred to his “First Law of Executive Talent” that he had formulated to describe the thinking of America’s military-industrial leadership. “It was that all great executives come to resemble intellectually the products they manufacture. Until you had done business with top officers of the steel industry, you didn’t really appreciate the intellectual qualities of a billet of steel.” So it was with the defense department. America’s militarized economy was already in essence a Soviet-style “planned economy,” to make it an even larger part of the economy would only lock the U.S. into the same dismal fate.
That fall, in Washington, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was one of the last holdouts of sanity in a rolling sea of hysterical accusations about American security. Was the Soviet Union really planning a sneak attack on the United States with nuclear weapons as the right wing claimed? Was SALT II really just a public relations scheme by Moscow to put the U.S. off its guard?
In hindsight we know that these claims were absurd. The Soviet Union was dying, driven to SALT by its weakness, not its strength. But when the Soviets crossed their southern border into Afghanistan that December of 1979 it played out on America’s TV screens like a World War II Hollywood B movie. Afghanistan was a far off South Asian country of no particular interest to the United States. A half dozen administrations had refused Afghan requests for military assistance. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s callous and careless diplomacy drove Afghanistan towards Moscow in the mid 1950s and its politics followed close behind. A low priority remnant from Britain’s colonial empire, President Carter labeled the invasion, “the greatest threat to peace since the second World War.” But the script had already been written long before the Soviet’s crossed their southern border on December 27, 1979.
A trap had been set to give the Soviets their own Vietnam and the Soviets had taken the bait. But no one outside a handful of policy experts and Wall Street wizards were supposed to know that. Instead, a crop of neoconservative experts appeared on the scene claiming the Soviets were running out of oil and using Afghanistan as a staging ground for Middle East conquest.
By the time our program aired that winter, the argument was no longer whether our government should call a halt to the nuclear arms race and reinvest in the civilian economy. The U.S. had stepped into the mirror with the media echoing a return to 1947 style Cold War rhetoric, and the debate refocused not on whether, but on how much was to be spent to counter Soviet aggression.
In the planning stages for most of the decade, the new right’s military stimulus program regained for them a strategic hold over the economy, raising American investment in new weapons systems to a new high, while setting in motion a series of changes to the fundamental economic order endemic to the previous iteration of the Cold War.
As it had in the 1950s and 1960s, military spending once again drove the American economy, accounting for up to 6.2 percent of GDP by 1984. But where previous defense spending had been carefully balanced against America’s industrial output as a percentage of GNP, the so-called Reagan agenda or Reaganomics required massive borrowing to finance the military budget while reducing regulation and oversight of where it was spent. This change would transform American thinking about the economy, sending it into a star wars unreality and more importantly from a creditor to a debtor economy.
Always detached from the real economy, the Reagan budgets lifted the arms race and its Wall Street backers into the stratosphere, focusing the nation’s attention away from the depression era roads, bridges, dams, schools and industry that were in desperate need of attention. Instead, America became transfixed by the phantom of an ever present danger of Soviet troops in Afghanistan and a stock market driven by the military’s expansion.
Gould and Fitzgerald’s books on Afghanistan, Invisible History and Crossing Zero, have won praise from the likes of Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone and Daniel Ellsberg. They were also the first Western journalists allowed back into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan during the early 1980s, when Paul discovered a story that wasn’t being reported in the mainstream press.
While conducting research for their books, Paul and Liz discovered a trove of esoteric history surrounding the West’s attraction to Afghanistan, dating back to the 1800s when the British set out to colonize the non-Christian world. During the lecture, Liz provided this brief explanation of an age-old esoteric ideology which continues to infect our current political and military leaders:
“Simply put, Mystical imperialism rationalizes the expansion of a nation’s authority, by conquest over other nations, by infusing a sense of the divine into the raw politics of empire building. Today’s practitioners of American Mystical Imperialism are a hardened core of ideological defense intellectuals and military officers who infuse their own esoteric and religious beliefs into Washington policymaking.”
Mystical imperialism can be traced back about 400 years to the British East India Company’s draconian pursuit of profits at any cost, as the Russians were demonized to protect the Raj’s interests in Central Asia and India. Somewhere along the line the British convinced themselves and the world that Russia was bent on controlling routes to the Persian Gulf – a neurosis that forced the British to do everything in its power to transform Afghanistan into a protective bulwark against Czarist Russia’s inevitable expansion.
This type of thinking was then embraced by the U.S. at the dawn of the Cold War. In the 1970s American policymakers and the media came to view the struggle in Afghanistan through a Manichean prism, and the Soviets were on the wrong side of this black and white world which saw the U.S. find common cause with violent Islamist fanatics, purportedly to ensure Afghanistan remained a Cold War “buffer zone.”
The blinding Cold War paradigm became like a religion, bemoaned by Senator William Fulbright as early as 1972: “Our ‘faith’ liberated us, like the believers of old, from the requirements of empirical thinking… Like medieval theologians, we had a philosophy that explained everything to us in advance, and everything that did not fit could be readily identified as a fraud or a lie or an illusion.”
Even when the U.S. had an opportunity to detangle itself from Afghanistan it resisted. In fact, the U.S. aimed to draw the Soviets into Afghanistan in what later became known as the “Bear Trap”, designed by Zbigniew Brzezinski to give communist Russia its own Vietnam War.
An underreported historical fact is how the U.S. began funding terrorists in Pakistan before the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Years later Brzezinski admitted as much and saw the rise of the Taliban as an acceptable side effect of the CIA’s shadowy program because, in his mind, it led to the fall of communism.
The U.S. also embraced the British tactic of empowering backward elements within Afghan society who seemed intent on keeping Afghanistan in the dark ages, including reactionaries who continually sabotaged Kabul’s attempts at modernization. In the 1920s King Amanullah brought on a period of rapid liberalization which included a democratic constitution, universal suffrage and civil rights. In 1922 U.S. envoy Cornelius Van Engert reported that the Afghans were not savage fanatics, but highly cultivated people in the midst of a major effort to modernize.
In fact, near the end of a 40-year era of peace, King Zahir Shah’s “experiment in democracy” was thwarted in the 1970s when the superpowers began using Afghanistan as a geopolitical chessboard. As a result of foreign meddling, Afghanistan regressed in terms of security, prosperity, human rights, education and culture over the past four decades at an unprecedented pace.
Flash forward to today’s “AfPak” policy, which is also void of reason and underpinned by an outdated mythology, as the U.S. continues to operate based on flawed assumptions left over from the British colonial era. And like its predecessors, the U.S. now finds itself mired in the “graveyard of empires.” And just like it did during the Afghan war against the Soviets, the U.S. continues to rely on its wayward ally Pakistan, who in turn continues to support virulently anti-American jihadists.
What makes Liz and Paul’s story especially compelling is the synchronicity that exists between their personal lives, their dreams and the historical drama as it unfolds in Central Asia. Their story is retold in the novel The Voice, in which they make esoteric connections between Templar Knights, the mujahideen and the CIA.
Underlying what appears to be irrational foreign policy is a twisted spirituality, an American exceptionalism and crusading impulse the U.S. inherited from its British forebears. Perhaps Gould and Fitzgerald were meant to serve a higher purpose themselves as they try to decode a mystery that has caused the people of Afghanistan endless suffering. Perhaps they were meant to “shed some light” on dark unseen forces swirling at the center of one of America’s biggest foreign policy catastrophes.
Afghanistan has always contained an esoteric element known to insiders. Now that “hidden” Afghan story is available to all who seek it. Our INN World Studio presentation of Afghanistan and Mystical Imperialism: An expose of the esoteric underpinnings of American foreign policy was filmed by Zev Deans & Jacqueline Castel and is available here. It will open the world to an Afghanistan most have never seen.
The Voice, the esoteric side of our Afghan experience as a novel
“Mysticism is just tomorrow’s science dreamed today.” Marshall McLuhan March 1969
by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
Ten years ago this fall we sat in the walled garden of a bullet-pocked Kabul villa on a brilliant sunlit afternoon, interviewing American reporters about what they thought the prospects were for a U.S. success in Afghanistan now that the “war” was over.
At that particular moment Afghans were open to American solutions and for the first time in decades, hopeful. Kabul was ruined but peaceful, but just below the surface was the unshakeable feeling that something was wrong. The young, thoughtful and concerned photo journalist Chris Hondros of Getty Images spoke of the fractured nature of Afghan society and doubted that the West could help the country overcome the deep divisions caused by twenty five years of war. He complained that his job had been made much tougher because an entire generation of Americans had never been informed of what they needed to know in order to comprehend why Afghanistan was so important. USA Today’s Berlin bureau chief Steve Komarow, who’d rotated back into Kabul after taking part in the brief American invasion, echoed the American confusion about what to do about a mission and a country no one seemed to really understand. “Nobody wants Afghanistan to revert to what it was, but on the other hand there’s a tension between that and being seen as a colonial power,” Komarow said. “The United States doesn’t want to own Afghanistan. It really wants the Afghans to work it out, however they want to work it out.”
Tension might still be the best of a slew of inadequate words to describe Washington’s schizophrenic relationship to Afghanistan. Tension between the Obama administration and a Republican Congress over the longest running war in American history and how to end it, tension between Washington and the government of Hamid Karzai, tension between President Obama and the wisdom of his own military commanders and tension over Pakistan’s perennial role as an alleged U.S. ally while continuing to use the Taliban as an advance guard for its military’s strategic ambitions in Central Asia. And tension between the reality of people’s lives and the invented reality of a war machine that has long lost any relevance to the real nature of American security.
U.S. objectives in Afghanistan from day one were never clear and in fact were mostly irreconcilable with the ground reality. American policymakers in the 1980s never thought through the consequences of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Peshawar seven Mujahideen groups, and in fact deferred to Pakistan’s ISI in halting any Afghan efforts at creating an exile nationalist government following the Soviet invasion. Pakistan’s strategy meshed perfectly with the extremist philosophy of the Saudi trained extremists who targeted Afghan nationalists and moderates along with Soviet soldiers and Afghan communists. For over two hundred years, Afghanistan’s identity had been centered on Pashtun nationalism. Annihilating Pashtun tribal leadership was key to Pakistan’s long term planning and beginning in the early 1970s ISI supported the rise of the Tajik Burhanuddin Rabbani’s Jamaat I Islami and the de-Pashtunized Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hesbe Islami, in order to replace it.
The anti-Soviet Jihad of the 1980s was a time in which the U.S., Pakistani and Saudi interests converged over Afghanistan but as U.S. attention waned following the end of the Cold War, the interests of these former partners began to diverge. The instability caused by that divergence was made apparent on 9/11, but instead of responding with workable solutions to complex ground realities inside Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, the U.S. plowed ahead with a pre-cast ideological blueprint that was at once astonishingly inappropriate, profoundly unworkable and in the end self-defeating.
Did President George W. Bush’s neoconservative policymakers really expect to reconcile Afghanistan’s complex mix of tribes and ethnicities and heal the war’s wounds without the blessing of Afghanistan’s recognized Pashtun leader, King Zahir Shah? 75 percent of the delegates to the U.S. brokered Loya Jirga (tribal council) that created the new Afghan government petitioned to have the king nominated as head of state. Just weeks before being assassinated in 2001, Ahmed Shah Massoud had agreed to support the return of the king as the only way to establish a lasting peace. Did Washington really believe it could force brutal and corrupted warlords – men that Steve Komarow described as “charming killers” – onto a government as powerless as Hamid Karzai’s and expect them to establish a democracy? And did the Bush administration really believe it could blindly hand over responsibility and billions of dollars to Pakistan’s military establishment, march off to Iraq and then expect Pakistan to uphold America’s interests?
It is not hard to understand the growing sense of institutional desperation surrounding the latest events. Headlines that tell of U.S. soldiers urinating on Taliban corpses, Koran burnings, increasing incidents of Afghan soldiers attacking NATO and American trainers and the slaughter of Afghan men, women and children in their sleep, are evidence of disintegration, not a winning end game. But news reports that America’s own soldiers were ordered to disarm in the presence of their own Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta while on an official visit to Camp Leatherneck in Kandahar in mid-March indicate that Washington may not just be losing the war, but as in Vietnam, may also be losing the army that is fighting it.
Should this happen – and from reports on the morale of American troops who’ve been forced into repeated combat tours it appears that it is – the U.S. experience in Afghanistan may soon match the Soviet experience in Afghanistan and with a similar conclusion. For the last year the Pentagon has insisted that its strategy of handing off responsibility to a U.S./NATO funded Afghan National Army of 350,000 troops is going according to plan, that the U.S. intends to stay on only in an advisory capacity after 2014, and that all is well. Even if all was well, the idea that Afghanistan’s economy could ever provide the $6 billion annually necessary to support an army of that size is a complete fantasy as are mostly all the other assumptions underpinning such an army.
If, as Washington’s numerous critics of Afghan policy insist, Afghanistan can’t be expected to operate as a centralized European-style democracy, then why should anyone expect Afghanistan to produce a centralized European-style army? As the Soviets learned over their ten year occupation, Afghanistan’s decentralized tribal society doesn’t really do standing armies. According to the Center for Advanced Studies’ Chris Mason, the Afghan National Army really has something like 100,000 men on a good day and there are very few good days. More than 40 percent of what remains disappears every year, 75 percent is on drugs, and the rest is so riddled with Taliban infiltrators as to make the concept of an Afghan army meaningless. Add to that the fact that the U.S. has largely built an army of Northern Tajiks who use the U.S. to intimidate their traditional opponents, the Pashtuns and you have a formula for civil war when the U.S. leaves, with or without the Taliban.
Another critic of the official narrative is Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis. Reporting after a12 month second tour of Afghanistan which covered 9,000 miles and visits to troops in multiple provinces Davis maintains that there is virtually no reality backing the U.S. narrative. Davis wrote in the Armed Forces Journal in early February 2012, “In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described – and many, more I could mention – had been in the first year of the war, or even the third of fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.”
Afghanistan played a major role in the 1980s as a first step in curing the so called Vietnam syndrome in the United States. But the American decision to use Afghanistan to give the Russians their own Vietnam syndrome (instead of reassessing the Cold War assumptions that had produced the devastating Vietnam quagmire in the first place) was a double edged sword.
In a remarkably self-effacing 1972 New Yorker article titled “Reflections: In Thrall To Fear,” Senator J. William Fulbright traced the origins of the devastation caused by Vietnam to the intellectual corruption of the Cold War. But his shock was in realizing that the actual thinking behind the Cold War and the Truman Doctrine was not based on facts or logic or even the metrics of modern warfare, but on a medieval ideological methodology that in effect defied reason.
“Our leaders became liberated from the normal rules of evidence and inference when it came to dealing with Communism… The effect of the anti-Communist ideology was to spare us the task of taking cognizance of the specific facts of specific situations. Our ‘faith’ liberated us, like the believers of old, from the requirements of empirical thinking… Like medieval theologians, we had a philosophy that explained everything to us in advance, and everything that did not fit could be readily identified as a fraud or a lie or an illusion.”
The United States has had 90 years to formulate a working relationship with Afghanistan. It had numerous opportunities to help Afghanistan grow and modernize before Soviet Communism and Afghan nationalism made it a Cold War target, but it chose to defer to British and then Pakistani interests. Even after the Soviet defeat from which it benefited, the U.S. had the chance to intervene but chose instead to back away and leave its fate to others. On 9/11 Afghanistan’s fate became interlocked with America’s, but once again Washington chose a path which allowed Afghanistan to drift into chaos.
Senator Fulbright’s reflections are a tragic and largely forgotten commentary on the Cold War. But were he here today to witness the futile debates over policies that were always irreconcilable and the Vietnam-like quagmire they have caused in Afghanistan, he would be the first to recognize that the medieval theologians had been at it again, only this time around the fraud, the lie and the illusion had hardened into a permanent and perhaps terminal reality.
Copyright © 2012 Gould & Fitzgerald All rights reserved
Written: Nov 09 ‘11 on Epinions.com by vicfar
The 200-page book, just released, is a brilliant indictment of the insane US military occupation of Afghanistan. It also casts grave doubts on the rationale for continuing American interventionism and makes a strong case for retrenchment.
The book is very concise, and the obligatory historical introduction is kept to a minimum: it begins in 1577 with the earliest British colonial adventures in the region, and is especially critical of the disastrous policies following British retreat and the creation of seriously flawed borders.
But the Great Game of Central Asia has become recently important in view of the natural resources the region contains, and after WWII it has drawn the attention of the remaining superpowers. In a strategic effort to bring the USSR to its knees, the US and its secret services have engineered and built an extensive web of paramilitary groups, stoking religious fundamentalism and terrorism. The Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other groups,- the authors remind us are all creature of the Cold War. Now the fundamentalist forces unleashed by the US are wreaking havoc across the whole territory, and threaten the spread of political chaos all the way from Iraq to India.
At the outset, the authors trace the rise of the Taliban movement. At the origin is the massive funding, recruiting and training by the CIA and the ISI, the Pakistani secret service, acting in concert against the USSR. The book then details the early years of the Bush involvement, when Iraq was the more prized target, and the recent Obama strategy toward counterinsurgency, with a modest troop surge, the extension of the war into Pakistan and the growing assassination program, which cannot but remind the reader of the bloody Operation Phoenix in Vietnam.
The case presented against the military strategies created by the Pentagon is overwhelming: the US could not control the country even with 500,000 troops (just as the Russians could not), and large sections of it are in the hands of tribal leaders, with whom the US is desperately trying to make a deal. Much of the focus is on the covert support of the Talibans by the ISI and by the Pakistan government, all of it through the massive injections of US funds into Pakistan. Indeed, the US taxpayer is financing its troops and also the resistance movements to US occupation.
Of course, the game Pakistan is playing is understood in Washington, hence the recent forays across the border and the assassination program. The US, however, still has no viable strategy, continues to fund Pakistan, which funds the Talibans as part of its own strategic games against India, and is negotiating with the worst terrorists, hoping for a strategic retreat. Needless to say, a coalition government composed of warlords and terrorists is unlikely to return Afghanistan to a peaceful existence, and especially to to the secular administration which, like in Iraq, existed before the CIA fanned the flames of Islamic radicalism.
The central part of the book (Obamas Vietnam) examines the parallels between the two military disasters and confirms that Americans are using again a failed strategy, consisting of bombing, systematic assassination and inability to understand the reality under which they operate. Later, the book examines the variety of factions the constitute the anti-American resistance and succeeds in impressing upon the reader two major facts: the resistance landscape is unbelievably complex, and the US military does not have a clue about it.
The US continues to believe that bringing death from the skies and targeted assassinations can lead to victory, without trying to understand the socio-political reality they are trying to influence and mold into a stable democracy. To what extent is this strategy dictated by powerful lobbies who stand to gain fortunes by selling Washington useless but lethal hi-tech gadgets? Does Washington really believe that the drone assassination program is a viable alternative in state-building to the establishment of civil authority and political justice? In what amounts to a transfer of funds from the US tax-payer (or the foreign lender) to the booming defense industry, the US military may have found the Holy Grail: an interminable war, in the style of Orwells 1984, complete with a disinformation campaign by the compliant, corporate press, and accompanied by conservative think tanks whose members enjoy the profits of the war machine, while claiming the US is trying to defend freedom and democracies, two values the US has squelched more than any other country in the world since the beginning of the Cold War.
The book ends with a set of sensible recommendations, like establishing ties with the population, understanding their customs and culture all recommendations sure to fall on deaf years. As an example, the authors cite a complaint by president Karzai about the US stepped-up counterinsurgency program consisting of bursting into peoples homes at night to arrest suspects. Karzai remarked that it generates hate against the US and, indirectly, Karzai himself, because it violates the sanctity of Afghan homes. General Petraeus responded, dismayed, that he was astonished and disappointed by the statement, which was making Karzais position untenable.
Finally, in its epilogue, the authors trace a line of continuity spanning from early post-WWII US interventions up to Obamas war regime today. In spite of the seemingly increased insanity of the war operations, the authors claim to see a logical sequence of events, framed in the lunatic language of American exceptionalism and a boundless inability to acknowledge global overstretch. In this perspective, the US is unable to change course, because it is controlled by a single doctrine and cannot readapt its myths and beliefs to a changing reality. America is destroying, throughout the world, what is claiming to protect.
Hence the suggestion that a complete retreat (very unlikely) would do more good than harm. This brutal but fair conclusion quotes an article in the leftist British newspaper The Guardian, which reminds its readers that the US cannot offer the world its model, because the model has failed:
The US…has nothing substantial to offer Afghanistan beyond feeding the gargantuan war machine they have unleashed. In the affluent West itself modernity is now about dismantling the welfare system, increasing inequality and subsidizing corporate profits this bankrupt version of modernity has little to offer to Afghans other than bikini waxes and Oprah imitators. In other words, if the US really must engage in nation building, it ought to start with the most bankrupt nation of them all: itself.
I found this short book highly informative, well structured and devastating in its conclusions. If you believe the substance of its claims, the world is in the hands of a group of mad men (Pentagon, White House, US secret services) who administer death and misery throughout a vast region, without a realistic objective and mired in a war without possible end. It is the stuff of nighmares. I hope the authors are wrong but I feel they are absolutely correct in their analysis.
Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald’s novel The Voice takes its audience on a quest for the real Holy Grail, entwining scientific mythology with geopolitical intrigue in an esoteric thrill-ride Dan Brown couldn’t dream up, as a frustrated journalist unravels a 5,000-year-old mystery involving Templar knights, Celtic priests and Sufi mystics. Throughout the story the authors challenge Western linear views of reality by offering multidimensional paradigms that are perhaps more conducive to helping us better understand the unseen spiritual and quantum nature of our universe.
Commissioned by Oliver Stone as a screenplay in 1992 and originally published in 2000, The Voice is being reissued now because it is more relevant today than ever. Written before 9/11, The Voice eerily presages the “war on terror” on a number of occasions.
This mythological journey was inspired by the authors’ real world adventures as the first Western journalists allowed into Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion. Gould and Fitzgerald tried to report a picture of the Soviet “jihad” that stood in sharp contrast to the propaganda Dan Rather and the mainstream media had been peddling to the world.
The Voice’s protagonist is none other than Paul Fitzgerald, a middle-aged American writer living with his daughter Alissa in London and a former network news reporter whose wife had been killed while covering the war in Afghanistan. Not unlike real life, the character Paul’s Afghanistan experience changed the way he perceives the world as he begins to make esoteric connections between the Crusaders, the mujahideen and the CIA.
His distrust of the global elite can be felt early on when during inner dialogue he explains how he came to see events and the course of history itself as “an ancient and ongoing struggle between the forces of darkness and light with the ultimate goal being the evolution of the human soul.”
The book allows the authors to channel their own frustration and ironically tell the truth about past events as illustrated when Paul gives Rick Kendall from Transitron, a FOX-like communications conglomerate, a piece of his mind about being censored during the war:
“I don’t need to be reminded of what you caused in Afghanistan. If you had told people the truth about what we were doing in the first place maybe those Chinese nuclear weapons wouldn’t be in Pakistan. Maybe Osama bin Laden would still be in Saudi Arabia selling insurance to oil sheiks and there wouldn’t be a crisis. For ten years you knew we drew the Russians into Afghanistan and you lied about it. You and your friends had to turn the whole affair into a holy war. So this is what you get.”
Paul wonders aloud how the U.S. and CIA could “activate” Afghan holy warriors on the eve of the Apocalypse and not expect blowback, describing the power of the “freedom fighters” as mystical and real “just the way it was for the Crusaders in 1099.”
Ironically, Paul has vivid dreams about a Black Knight calling him to go on his own personal crusade and soon begins remembering numerous lifetimes of his ancestors from the Geraldine bloodline, stretching back to 1170 A.D. — the year the grail was brought to Ireland from Jerusalem.
The story integrates actual historical events, myth and Paul’s dreams which he comes to realize represent the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. Paul is the Black Knight, guardian of the grail, who must now act as a conduit between two realms and transform myth into reality in order to protect the grail’s secrets.
A mysterious astrologer named Mad Mary tells Paul that the powers of the grail were at one point well known, but had to be hidden for fear of being abused by demagogues:
“Everybody who comes along from Nebuchadnezzar on down wants the power of creation for himself — the magic rituals, the words of power. First it’s the Pharaoh, then Sargon, then Solomon, Alexander, Julius Caesar and the Pope. Now it’s Bill Gates and Rubert Murdoch hoarding the numbers and locking them up in little boxes, counting out their Shekels or Dinars or Pounds. But what are their qualifications for such wealth and power?”
Paul also stumbles upon riveting accounts of strains of an ancient pre-Celtic metaphysics that spanned Europe, the Near East and the Middle East in the fourth millennium B.C. that evidenced itself in all world religions. He also discovers that Irish monks practiced a mixture of paganism and Christianity that included rituals for communicating with spirits and demons, raising the dead and walking between worlds. He learns that all religion is a vast syncretion of beliefs accrued over a long period of time, but humanity needs to get back to the original idea in order to make sense of it.
During trips to the other dimension and through detective work in England and Ireland with help from Alissa, Paul pieces together the reality that the Crown has retained a colonial vice-grip on human destiny through secret societies since the beginning of recorded history — from the ancient Babylonian Brotherhood to the Masons of the current era.
The Brits had become masters of the game by the time of the Faerie Queene’s reign in the 16th century and, according to Paul, “The mystical past and the modern intelligence professional merged for the first time in the Elizabethan police state. It was the perfect marriage for seeking the Grail.”
Even more shocking is when he learns that Transitron executives have been monitoring his dreams through cutting-edge technology and that the company president, Lord Gilbert De Clare, is really the head of a group of technocratic illuminati obsessed with controlling history and acquiring the power to conquer death. Lord Gilbert has actually been stalking Paul from lifetime to lifetime, using powerful virtual reality software to divert Paul from his mission and the role he must play as the end time nears.
The Voice is an enthralling fast-paced read that is even more enjoyable when read with an open mind. Many of the historical assertions about religion and power are somewhat disturbing — and they should be. Belief in a world beyond our senses is a difficult one for a materialist society guided by rationalism and reason to digest. What is far easier to accept is the book’s other premise, that governments and corporations would try to secure and retain power by any means possible — both seen and unseen.
Visit grailwerk.com for more background information.
The Question of “what has become of the America I knew and loved?”
By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
A question asked by many shocked observers today both inside and outside of the United States is “what has become of the America I knew and loved?”
Beginning in the late 1930s as an overt propaganda campaign against fascist Germany and Imperial Japan, the world was treated to a Hollywood version of America as a democratic society that despite its flaws managed to maintain the egalitarian principles of its founding fathers and continued to press forward as a beacon of liberty, individualism and human rights.
As a romanticized ideal, the narrative of that America was of a “great melting pot” for all races where upward mobility, modernism and economic and religious freedom promised a better life for all those willing to make it work. And for millions it once did.
With a manufacturing and farm economy the envy of the world, a burgeoning middle-class and a huge military establishment garrisoning the world, the ideal was temporarily sustainable. But as the years wore on, the economy and political system constricted and the Pentagon grew to gargantuan proportions, the yawing schism between the real America and the illusory bygone America of Hollywood’s imagination began to take on a frightening dimension.
We have illustrated in our two multi-part series, 9/11, Psychological Warfare and the American Narrative and House of Mirrors that whatever America once appeared to be, at least since World War II and the beginning of the Cold War up to 9/11, it never was the country we thought it to be.
Although still theoretically governed by rules, democratic laws and financial regulations, the real America of today has come to be controlled by the private and personal agendas of a handful of people and the vast majority of the American public disapproves of it. Over the years, organizations such as the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg group and the Club of Rome are known to have exerted a decisive role over government policies and mass media. We have been warned of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Rothschilds and their desires for political control of the world through financial manipulation. Yet, despite their monopolistic and anti-democratic efforts their power and their money continue to fuel popular allure. We have written of secret intelligence organizations such as Le Cercle, the Safari Club and the 61 which at the behest of international business cartels both legal and illegal have secretly undermined democratic elections, overthrown governments and generally subverted the will of the people for the benefit of a chosen few.
But who are these few, and what are their plans for our country and the world? Where are we headed and most of all, what principles are guiding what increasingly resembles an international governmental, financial and geopolitical shipwreck brought on by years of Laissez-faire fiscal abuse, corporate greed and political delusion?
Our personal understanding of the present dilemma starts with another shipwreck, this one off the coast of Ireland in the year 1577. That was the year a notorious English pirate and slave trader named Martin Frobisher smashed a schooner filled with what was thought to be gold bullion onto the isolated, rocky, western coast of Ireland at a place known as Smerwick. According to one account, Frobisher’s mission was intended to find the fabled Northwest Passage to China as part of a “Protestant adventure that would rival the Catholic quest as well as enrich the queen’s [Elizabeth I] treasury.” The “gold”—which was soon revealed to be nothing more than iron pyrites (fools gold)—spilled from the broken ship’s hull, littering the base of the cliffs.
An Irish rebel-captain by the name of James Fitzmaurice raised a fort at the summit of the cliffs and named it Fort Del Oro, (Fort of Gold) to mock Queen Elizabeth’s greed and her vain quest to challenge Rome for wealth and power. Fitzmaurice’s family, the Fitzgeralds had been in conflict with London over land and authority since initiating the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the twelfth century at the behest of their lord, Richard de Clare, otherwise known as Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke.
Chafing under the rule of King Henry II of England, Strongbow pictured himself as the King of Ireland and his marriage to the daughter of Irish King Dermot MacMurrough was intended to seal the agreement. But fate and the driving ambitions of Henry II soon scuttled the plan and upon Strongbow’s death a short time later, the equally ambitious Fitzgeralds assumed his mission.
Known for their loyalty to a Catholic Rome, their embrace of Ireland’s Celtic culture and their fierce desire to establish their control over Ireland, the next four hundred years found the family drawn deeply into English as well as European politics with numerous Geraldines (the family name) interned in the Tower of London. The coming of the Reformation to England in the 16th century turned four hundred years of border disputes and jurisdictional feuding into holy war. And in 1580, the Holy See in Rome sent an army of Italians and Spaniards to help the Geraldines under the authority drafted by the “Just War Doctrine,”to help in the fight against Queen Elizabeth’s Protestant forces.
Dubbed by author Richard Berleth as the “Twilight Lords” for their role as the last doomed, feudal barons of Ireland, the Fitzgeralds and their struggle to fight off the Elizabethans and the Renaissance Neoplatonism of men such as Edmund Spencer and Walter Raleigh offers a glimpse into more than just another stale moment in history. It offers a revelation into a secret esoteric struggle between the spiritual forces of London, Rome, Moscow, Washington and Berlin that exploded openly into war numerous times during the 20th century and whose ominous final confrontation looms over today’s geopolitical arena like a sword of Damocles.
Allegorized by the Elizabethans as evil and representative of the darkness in Spencer’s Faerie Queene, the Fitzgeralds came to embody the “Other” in the English propaganda of the day, while Elizabeth as both the Faerie Queene and Britomart and her knights embodied only the most chaste and blessed in the tradition of the Arthurian Round Table.
Far from being only a war over ecclesiastical principles, this “holy war” fought between the Catholic Geraldines and their Protestant others was also a war against economic domination and colonization from London. From London’s perspective, the war was a just war because it was a struggle to the death against the Papal forces of the Counter Reformation, which were encircling it militarily and economically and rolling back Protestant reforms. In the end, the war depopulated the Irish countryside, shifted the balance of power from local landowners to mercantilists in London and instilled a lasting fear and anger between Protestants and Catholics. As an experiment in colonization, Ireland set the standards of behavior that marked the beginnings of Britain’s empire that live on as much today in the neighborhoods of Kabul, Kandahar and Peshawar as they do in Derry and Belfast. But it also marked a turning point in the Holy Roman Empire’s ability to control events through military force and a shift from the ecclesiastically sanctioned violence of “just war” to the secular/state sanctioned violence of “just war.”
When in 1980 Colin Gray and Keith Payne attempted to stretch that concept of just war to justify nuclear war-fighting by transforming immorality into morality, it came as a cruel awakening to us that despite the gulf of four hundred years little had changed in the need to bend reality to justify war.
But in the thirty years since, the savage carnival of endless war with its attendant think tanks and lobbyists has only made the darkness blacker. In fact, the spiritual inspiration that propels today’s Washington/London/Berlin/Paris alliance and its so called humanitarian interventions could be considered nothing less than diabolic in which – as stated in the opening chapter to this series – America has turned from the light into its very opposite as it seeks to emulate “the dark matter… the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen.”
In battling the Elizabethans, the Fitzgeralds exhausted the very idea of Just War by plunging themselves and their hopeless cause into darkness. We can only hope as the U.S. continues to wander through the many facets of darkness contained within this House of Mirrors that someday soon, it will heed the lessons of history and find its way back to the clarity and sanity of the light.
Copyright © 2011 Gould & Fitzgerald All rights reserved
Published on Sibel Edmonds Boiling Frogs Post
House of Mirrors Series
Part I A Campaign Where the Lie Became the Truth and the Truth Became the Enemy of the State
Part II Building the Afghan Narrative with Black Propaganda, the People, the Process & the Product