The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series: Read it and weep!
By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
1892 Caricature of Cecil Rhodes, master British imperialist of the 19th century, was the consummate empire builder with a philosophy of mystical imperialism. As intended, the Rhodes Scholarship continues its influence on American thinking from a British perspective. [Public Domaine].
“Brzezinski however couldn’t do much until the death of Dubs. And the death of Dubs removed the last obstacle. Then came Herat… They killed a lot of Russians and the Russians were very upset. But it gave a shot in the arm to the resistance in this country [the U.S.]. That was March of ‘79. So the coincidence of Dubs’ death and the Herat uprising gave Brzezinski control of the policy from then on.” Interview: Selig Harrison February 18, 1993
The kidnapping and assassination of Ambassador Adolph Dubs on February 14, 1979 at the Kabul Hotel ended any meaningful effort by the U.S. to prevent a Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. The death was employed however from that day forward by President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski as the opportunity to increase the level of provocation for luring the Soviets into their own “Vietnam quagmire” and keeping them pinned down for as long as possible. Because of “Spike” Dubs’ death, Zbigniew Brzezinski finally got control of foreign policy; got his hard line neoconservative policy toward the Soviet Union pushed through, ended support for détente once and for all, and put Strategic Arms Limitation on hold. Hafizullah Amin continued to seize power for himself, sew discord throughout the countryside with his education and land reform programs, fracture his political party the PDPA and game the Soviet leadership by asking them to intervene militarily fourteen times, knowing full well they were dead set against a military intervention.
Selig Harrison writes in his 1995 book with Diego Cordovez, Out of Afghanistan, “On the one hand, he [Amin] continued to call upon massive Soviet help in financing his regime, equipping it militarily and providing technical personnel for military operations against rebels. On the other, he resisted Soviet control, brushing aside pressure for a slowdown in reforms and for greater Soviet involvement in running the secret police and the military.”
Continuing his coup d’état in Washington, Brzezinski and his military assistant General William Odom proceeded with plans for the radical transformation of America’s nuclear doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction – MAD (directed mainly at the Soviet Union) into one of nuclear “war-fighting” through a series of Presidential Directives. Most of these directives excluded the State Department in the decision-making and remain in force to this day. Based entirely on the fallacious assumption that the Soviet Union believed they could fight and win a nuclear war, President Carter, Brzezinski and General William Odom set out to win one of their own and build the weapons with which to do it.
Contrary to Jimmy Carter’s glowing public image as a peace-president and future Nobel Peace Prize winner, behind the scenes the former Navy man would embrace Brzezinski’s vision of an inevitable conflict with the Soviet Empire and relish his role as the nuclear war-fighting Commander in Chief fighting it to his last breath.
Author Tim Weiner quotes General Odom in his 1990 exposé, Blank Check, “Carter became the first President to immerse himself in the details of nuclear war-fighting scenarios. The President ‘really got into the procedures, ran through numerous scenarios, and became very comfortable with it,’ Odom told a Harvard seminar in 1980.” Knowledge of Carter’s dark side has gone unrecognized over the years but despite the end of the Cold War in 1991, the horrifying product of his decision-making has remained intact with each succeeding administration. Presidential Directives (PDs) 53, 58 and 59 didn’t just lower the threshold for nuclear weapons use, they encouraged it; making it appear probable that America’s elites could save themselves in a protracted nuclear war of up to six months, regardless of the consequences to the nation or its population. Based on an invented threat of nuclear annihilation carried into the Carter administration by Brzezinski, PD 59 would form the groundwork of the unnecessary Reagan buildup in the 1980s which would then form the groundwork of the post-Soviet Wolfowitz Doctrine of American imperial supremacy that followed. As Tim Weiner noted with irony in 1990, “The President who vowed to rid the world of warheads wound up signing the first truly significant war-fighting plan since the heyday of Curtis LeMay.”
But the real irony of the Carter presidency wasn’t in his reprise of the mad bomber role from Doctor Strangelove; the real irony was that the greatest success of his presidency – the U.S- Egypt-Israeli peace treaty of 1979 – was not arranged by his skill at diplomacy or his desire for a Middle East peace but by an off the books agency doing Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dirty work in Afghanistan known as the Safari Club. John K. Cooley writes in his 1999 exposé on U.S.-backed terrorism Unholy Wars, “Just before the Afghanistan war began, and because the Safari Club was keeping both Israeli and US intelligence informed of its actions, the Club was able to help bring about President Sadat’s historic peacemaking visit of November 1977 to Jerusalem, leading to the US-Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979… Morocco’s representative in the Safari Club hand-carried Rabin’s letter to Sadat. King Hassan then sponsored the first secret meeting in Morocco…”
Egypt’s Anwar Sadat would play an important role in the upcoming war in Afghanistan, supplying old Soviet weapons to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s so-called Freedom Fighters in an effort to fool the American public and Congress into thinking the weapons came from Soviet and Afghan defectors surrendering to CIA-backed rebels. Sadat would upset his handlers in Washington in September 1981when he spilled the beans on the secret operation and would die by assassination exactly two weeks later, but at that point his usefulness to the Safari Club had ended.
President Carter hadn’t been assassinated as “Spike” Dubs had been and Hafizullah Amin would soon be, but he was served up as an unwitting participant in his own coup d’état before he’d even entered the Oval office. In the wake of the Church Committee hearings and Watergate and with the President’s knowledge and assistance, Zbigniew Brzezinski had rewired authority for covert action from the State Department to the National Security Council in what has been described as “a bureaucratic first strike of the first order”. A Cercle of old European power had then detached the administration, sealed off the CIA in Washington from further damage and run its operations out of the Middle East. The head of French external intelligence, Pinay Cercle member and Safari Club coordinator Alexandre de Marenches had stepped in to fill the breach during the crisis, aided the operation through the Bank of Commerce and Credit International and set the stage for a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that would drag on for nearly 10 years. John K. Cooley writes, “The Safari Club player who probably helped most to draw the US into the Afghan adventure was Count Alexandre de Marenches… He had cooperated actively with the United States in warfare and covert operations since World War II. He believed it to be of advantage to France, as well as to his American friends and allies, to form a group like the Safari Club to protect and advance Western interests in the Third World.”
The death of Ambassador Dubs, the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late December 1979 doomed Carter’s reelection to failure. Afghanistan was soon to become the self-fulfilling prophecy of Soviet iniquity that the neoconservative, right-wing alliance had been trying to create for decades; a permanent, ongoing crisis in U.S.-Soviet relations which it had precipitated and then claimed to uncover and respond to. Alexandre De Marenches had done his part to put all the pieces in place. Brian Crozier and Robert Moss had written the script and Brzezinski had sold it to the highest levels of the American government. De Marenches had even knowingly tipped off his cousin, Newsweek’s Arnaud de Borchgrave to be in Kabul ahead of the invasion to catch the action; action that the President of the United States (Carter) would later claim he had no foreknowledge of. But without the constant propagandizing of Brian Crozier and his protégé Robert Moss working behind the scenes with their influential colleagues, the sale of a right-wing coup d’état of the U.S. might never have taken off.
1980: THE SPIKE
If anything represented the payoff to the decade of neoconservative/right-wing subversion being worked on the American psyche by the Institute for the Study of Conflict, it was the 1980 publication of the fiction/fantasy/spy-novel The Spike. Whether or not the title was a perverse inside joke or a veiled reference to the death of American Ambassador “Spike” Dubs in Kabul the year before, The Spike would prove to be the Pinay Cercle’s final nail in the coffin of U.S./Soviet relations. Viewed in hindsight The Spike plays out as poorly written paranoid political propaganda masquerading as fact. But viewed from the fevered perspective of the American mass media of 1980 in the run up to the election of Ronald Reagan, the #1 bestselling novel by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss was nothing less than proof of the KGB’s evil “plot to destroy the U.S., exposed.”
“A humdinger by two of the savviest foreign correspondents in the business.” Wrote William Safire in the New York Times. “A thundering rebuttal to the architects of détente, critics of the CIA and editors of the opinion-forming, powerhouse newspapers from the East.” Wrote the Dallas Morning News. “A thriller that is several steps ahead of the headlines.” Wrote the San Francisco Chronicle.
Praise from the mass media for The Spike and its two authors reads like an endorsement from Britain’s MI6 and the CIA. But to investigative journalist Fred Landis, who’d served as a consultant for the Subcommittee on CIA Covert Action in Chile of the Church Committee, Moss and de Borchgrave were anything but “two of the savviest foreign correspondents in the business”. To Landis they were coldblooded mercenaries, bought and paid to legitimize the right-wing’s agenda especially when the price was right. Landis writes in Inquiry Magazine that December, 1980 “Moss and de Borchgrave have built careers out of peddling gossip from right-wing French, Israeli, British and American intelligence agents that conforms to their one-dimensional ‘us versus them’ view of world affairs. The Spike is simply a logical, if paranoid extension of the propaganda they have hitherto seen fit to call fact. The book is thus an elaborate joke—the real disinformation lies between its two covers.”
But the elaborate joke of disinformation perpetrated by Moss and de Borchgrave was just what the neoconservative/right-wing had been using for decades to create their own reality. Thinly disguised fiction acting as fact would put the actor Ronald Reagan in the driver’s seat for eight years, keep the Soviets locked in a war to destabilize Central Asia for ten years and permanently destabilize the Middle East and South Asia with Islamic extremism.
As intended by the right-wing Pinay Cercle agenda, the coup of the century did turn the American government away from détente and peaceful coexistence. In befitting Brian Crozier’s “ultimate sophistication of subversion” it did get candidate Ronald Reagan elected who would complete the neoconservative/right-wing takeover of the American government while accelerating its privatization and politicization begun under Carter. And they would never give it back. The collapse of the Soviet Union did free Zbigniew Brzezinski’s treasured Eastern Europe from Soviet occupation and bring to an end the Soviet Empire. But as the intervening years have shown, ending Soviet Communism was not the end of history as claimed by the neoconservative pundit Francis Fukuyama. In fact, ending the Cold War only returned the world to an earlier and far more dangerous pre-World War I version of relations known as Great Power Competition and opened a Pandora’s box of old and new evils from which world stability is now reeling.
POSTSCRIPT: The lonely imperialist: Afghanistan, Brzezinski and the unintended consequences of Imperial Graveyards.
It’s 2018 and we’ve been here before. The pattern and the profile of events parading across our screens today mirrors the pattern and profile of events set out in the late 1970s by the Carter administration which paralleled the pattern and the profile of late 1940s and the genesis of the original Cold War. Following the death of Ambassador Adolph Dubs in February, 1979 we saw the outline of that pattern emerging in which a new reality centered on Afghanistan was beginning to form.
Our observation drew us personally into the debate over the arms race when we began production of a documentary on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) which we called Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. As production preceded numerous experts including Senator Ted Kennedy, SALT negotiator Paul Warnke and economist John Kenneth Galbraith clarified our understanding of the damage that a massive new diversion of tax dollars and capital investment into war spending would represent to the civilian economy, following Vietnam.
On the surface the mainstream media was selling a new arms race on the basis of a neoconservative-invented “Soviet threat” but the reality was very different. Galbraith insisted that accelerated defense spending and renewing the Cold War 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 America becoming more and more like the Soviet Union, ruled by a military-industrial-academic establishment immune from reality.
That fall, in Washington, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was one of the last holdouts in a sea of hysterical accusations about the Soviet Union. At the time we didn’t realize that a slow motion coup d’état against détente and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks had been going on since 1976 and was nearly complete. The bureaucracy was in thrall to the neoconservative’s Team B experiment which had discredited the CIA’s professional analysis of the Soviet “threat” and replaced it with an ideological one. Were the Soviets really planning a massive first-strike nuclear attack on the United States as the neoconservatives were predicting? Was SALT II really just a public relations scheme by Moscow to lock in American weakness while it prepared for war?
Looking back we know that these claims were based on the falsified intelligence, outright lies and fabrications of the neoconservatives. But when the Soviets crossed their southern border into Afghanistan it acted like a trance on the system, left and right. Afghanistan was of the lowest level of diplomatic interest to the United States. It was a far off South Asian country bordering the Soviet Union of absolutely no importance and had been relegated to the Soviet Sphere of influence during the Eisenhower administration. Numerous administrations had passed up Afghan requests for military assistance not wishing to disturb the balance of power in the region. Yet, when President Carter labeled the invasion, “the greatest threat to peace since the second World War” he gave the enemies of détente and SALT a new and reinvigorated Cold War and legitimized building the newest weapons with which to fight a nuclear war.
We now know that the decision to trap the Soviets in Afghanistan had already been decided long before their “surprise” invasion of December 27, 1979. The President’s reaction was political theatre. But at the time no one concerned about preserving SALT or détente inside the bureaucracy protested what they knew was really a politicized overreaction. Afghanistan had changed everything. 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 through the mirror back to 1947 and the debate refocused not on whether, but on how much was to be spent to counter Soviet aggression.
As the first Americans to gain access to Kabul after the Soviet invasion for an American TV crew in 1981 we got a close-up look at the American narrative supporting President Carter’s new anti-Soviet agenda and it simply didn’t hold up. What had been presented within days of the December 1979 invasion as an open and shut case of Soviet expansion toward the Persian Gulf by Harvard Professor and Team B Project leader Richard Pipes on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour could just as easily have been defined as a defensive action well within the Soviets’ legitimate sphere of influence. Three years earlier, Pipes’ Team B Strategic Objectives Panel on the CIA’s estimate of the Soviet threat had been accused of subverting the very process of making national security estimates by inventing threats where they didn’t exist and intentionally skewing its findings along ideological lines. Now those invented threats were being presented as facts by America’s Public Broadcasting System.
In 1983 we returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation Project Director Roger Fisher for ABC’s Nightline. Our aim was to establish once and for all the credibility of the American claims. We discovered first hand from high level Soviet officials that they wanted desperately to abandon the war but the Reagan administration simply refused to take their requests seriously. From the moment they entered office, the Reagan administration had taken a conflicting position, demanding on the one hand that the Soviets withdraw their forces, while at the same time keeping them pinned down through covert action with the intention of holding them there. This hypocritical campaign, though lacking in a foundation of facts and dripping in right-wing ideology, was embraced by the entire Washington political spectrum and left willfully-unexamined by America’s mainstream media.
The final blow to Roger Fisher’s efforts came when he offered the New York Times a detailed article describing his belief that a negotiated settlement could be quickly achieved. The Times’ editor responded that Roger could write the article but it wouldn’t necessarily be published.
At a conference conducted by the Nobel Institute in Lysebu Norway in 1995, a high level group of former U.S., European and Soviet officials faced off over the question: Why did the Soviets invade Afghanistan? Former National Security Council staff member Dr. Gary Sick established that the U.S. had resigned Afghanistan to the Soviet sphere of influence years before the invasion. So why had the U.S. chosen to overreact the way it did?
To Jimmy Carter’s veteran CIA Director Stansfield Turner, responsibility could only be located in the personality of one very specific individual who ironically wasn’t present. “Brzezinski’s name comes up here every five minutes; but nobody has as yet mentioned that he is a Pole.” Turner said. “This is an important part of the equation, it seems to me. None of us can escape our individual backgrounds; but in this case, the fact that Brzezinski is a Pole, it seems to me was terribly important.”
What Turner meant was that Zbigniew Brzezinski had punched an ethical hole into U.S. policy by infusing his old world ethnic hatred of Russia, into U.S.-Soviet relations. U.S. officials were not supposed to bring racist beliefs into the public policy-making-process. But anybody who knew Brzezinski at the time knew full well that is exactly what he was doing.
In the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Brzezinski ironically grew wary of America’s global overreach, much of which he had made possible with his actions as Carter’s National Security Advisor.
Although he had felt justified at using his imperial hubris to draw the Soviets into their own Vietnam and destroy Afghanistan in the process, he did not expect to see the same imperial process at work undoing the United States and in the same way he had undone the Soviet Union.
A year before he died in 2017, the architect of America’s use of Imperial power to attain global dominance made a startling about face in an article titled “Toward a Global Realignment” warning that “the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity, but given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.”
Brzezinski warned that the time for conflict among nations had come to an end because “During the rest of this century, humanity will also have to be increasingly preoccupied with survival,” a survival that could only be addressed “in a setting of increased international accommodation.”
Had Zbigniew Brzezinski used his powerful influence on American policymakers to be more accommodating to the Soviet Union over Afghanistan instead of using it as the bait to lure them to their destruction during the 1970s, the world and the United States today would, no doubt be in a very different and a much better place.
Copyright © 2018 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserve
The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series