Russia’s Criminal Oligarchy: The Role of Bush Senior and the CIA

 

This Guns and Butter interview is full of astonishing information (that you will never find in the corporate media) about the role of Bush senior and CIA-funded foundations in the creation of Russia’s criminal oligarchy and the systematic dismantling of communist Poland and the Soviet Union. Bonnie Faulkner and F William Engdahl are discussing his new book Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance.

In the first 15 minutes of the interview, Engdahl describes Reagan’s creation of the CIA-funded National Endowment for Democracy and its sister groups National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI) Freedom House, and Solidarity Center. The formation of the so-called independent foundations enabled the CIA to fund a full range of illegal covert activities without being subject to congressional scrutiny. All worked closely with various foundations funded by George Soros to deliberately destabilize the Warsaw Pact.

15.30 Engdahl discusses the CIA conspiracy to bring down Poland’s communist government, starting with the secret pact Reagan and Pope John Paul II (the first Polish pope) formed in 1982. In this clandestine campaign, NED invested tens of millions of dollar in fax, copy machines, etc, which they smuggled into Poland with the help of Polish priests. This equipment, in turn, was used to facilitate mass protests supposedly organized by Solidarnosc, the dockworkers union led by Lech Walesa.

20.19 Engdahl talks about the 300 CIA agents left over from George Herbert Walker Bush’s tenure as CIA director – and how Bush senior regrouped them into private entities to engage in covert activities in Poland and the USSR.

21.00 Engdahl covers the mass protests leading to the collapse of the communist government in 1989 and the election of Lech Walesa as president. Walesa, in turn, opened the door for George Soros and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs to strip the Polish economy of all its assets and impose harsh austerity measures.

32.00 Engdahl discusses Executive Order 12333 (signed by Reagan), which put Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush in charge of all US foreign and national security policy after 1981 – and Executive Order 13233 signed by George W Bush, which severely limited public access to the records of prior presidents.

36.00 Engdahl talks about the Enterprise, a private intelligence/security network created by George Herbert Walker Bush that included teams run by Oliver North and Richard Secord. In addition to organizing illegal weapons sales to Iran (Iran Contra), The Enterprise recruited corrupt KGB generals to help  bring down Gorbachev’s government. According to Engdahl, these generals were the real origin (not the Russian mafia) of Russia’s corrupt billionaire oligarchs. The oligarchs were young proteges of these generals.

39.00 Engdahl explains Operation Hammer which financed the KGB generals’ coup against Korbachev in 1991 and installed Boris Yeltsin as president. The latter allowed the oligarchs, with the help of George Soros, Jeffrey Sachs and other Harvard economists to loot Russia exactly as they had looted Poland.

49.54 Engdahl describes how the Open Russia Foundation bribed corrupt legislators in the Duma to privatize all Russia’s natural resources and richest industries (minerals, oil, gas, the largest aluminum smelter in the world) and how Sachs, Soros and their cronies assisted the oligarchs in selling off all these industries for pennies on the dollar. When the giant Russian oil company Yukos was privatized, international banker Jacob Rothschild, George Soros and Henry Kissinger were appointed as Yukos board members.

52.00 Engdahl traces the downfall of Yeltsin starting in 1998 when the Duma refused to approve Chernomyrdin as prime minister. Yeltsin then appointed Yevgeny Primakov, who immediately filed criminal charges against oligarch Boris Berezovksy, who fled to London. When Clinton began bombing Serbia in March 1999, Primakov was en route to Washington DC and order his pilot to turn around and return to Moscow. When he demanded Yeltsin support the Serbs, Yeltsin sacked him.

54.00 After Yeltsin lost control of the Russian military, which dispatched troops to seize the airport in Kosovo, he appointed Putin as Prime Minister. Engdahl attributes this decision to KGB  deception operation that convinced Yeltsin and his oligarch buddies that Putin would play along. Instead Putin threatened Yeltsin with corruption charges unless he resigned. Putin would serve as acting president until he was elected in his own right in March 2000.

 

 

Reflections on the Overthrow of Communism – Michael Parenti

Reflections on the Overthrow of Communism

Michael Parenti (2009)

Michael Parenti maintains that the Soviet Union didn’t collapse of its own accord in 1991 – that it was overthrown by the US and their allies.  He details the US-backed coup undertaken by Boris Yeltsin’s in 1993 when the Russian parliament refused to approve his extreme market-based reforms. Parenti also discusses the extreme misery Wall Street elites and the State Department inflicted on the Russian people in the effort (prior to Putin’s rise to power) to transform their country into a third world sweatshop. He highlights the massive increase in gang inequality and crime, and the increase in gender inequality (as the right to maternity leave, day care, divorce and abortion were stripped from the Russian constitution), sexual harassment, domestic violence and murder of women by their husbands.

The US Left’s Virulent Anticommunism

Parenti freely acknowledges that Soviet citizens sacrificed civil liberties for economic democracy, ie a society in which all citizens are  lifted out of poverty and enjoy free health care and education, subsidized housing and public transport and an absolute guarantee against brutal exploitation. He contrasts this with life in the US, where working people enjoy neither economic democracy nor civil liberties. He’s also scathingly critical of the American left (he mentions Noam Chomsky by name), which is much more virulently anti-communist than their right wing counterparts.

He goes on to detail serious weaknesses of the Soviet system, which he believes contributed to its demise. Overall he feels the Soviet economic system suffered from an absence of independent analysis. While Karl Marx offers a thorough critique of capitalism, he has no counterpart to critique the socialist/communist model.

The Human Nature Debate

Where Parenti and I part company is is contention that “pure socialism” (ie total abolition of the state) is impossible. He makes the argument that if workers run everything, it’s impossible to accumulate enough surplus value to finance an army to 1) to break the stranglehold of the capitalist class and 2) to defend against counter-revolution. He also maintains a state is necessary to protect against the greedy, acquisitive nature of human beings.

These views are also contradicted by decades of sociological research that human beings (like all primates) are hard wired to be social animals and naturally inclined towards cooperation and interdependence (see Human Nature: Cultural or Genetic). There is also strong evidence that much of the greed and antisocial behavior that characterizes the capitalist system stems from traumatic child rearing styles.

A Cuban Novel About Trotsky’s Assassination

the man who loved dogs

The Man Who Loved Dogs

By Leonardo Padura

Translated by Anna Kushner (2013)

Book Review

The Man Who Loved Dogs is a fictional account of the Stalinist Conspiracy to assassinate Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. Havana author Leonardo Padura uses three distinct perspectives to relate his story: that of Trotsky and his family, that of his assassin Roman Mercader and that of a failed Cuban writer who accidentally encounters Mercader on a Cuban beach in the 1970s as he’s on the verge of death.

The conspiracy is vaguely reminiscent of the JFK assassination conspiracy, in that it was meticulously planned and took three years to set in motion. Mercader was a Spanish Communist recruited by Stalin’s agents and brought to the USSR for specialized intelligence training. Posing as a Belgian journalist, he cultivated an American Trotskyite girlfriend to facilitate his entry into the high security compound where Trotsky’s family lived in Coyoacan Mexico.

The early part of the book contains long sections about the Spanish Civil War. These focus on Stalin’s brutal efforts to undermine the Spanish Revolution by assassinating anarchist and Trotskyite rivals, including members of the International Brigades. He then proceeded to abandon Spain’s Republican government to Franco’s fascists to improve his negotiating position with Hitler.

The History of Trotsky’s Exile

The narrative from Trotsky’s perspective begins with his forced exile to Turkey in 1929. He’s eventually offered asylum in France and Norway, both of which expel him (under pressure from local communists) after a few months. These sections also focus on Trotsky’s dismay regarding Stalin’s decade of show trials and executions, which systematically eliminated the primary Bolshevik luminaries responsible for the 1917 revolution, as well as one-third of the leadership of the Soviet Army.

Prior to 1990 Books About Trotsky Banned in Cuba

The narrative based on the fictional Cuban writer focuses on the intellectual and artistic repression that characterized the early Castro regime and the severe hardship (literal starvation in many cases) that began when the USSR collapsed in 1989 and Cuba ceased to have access to cheap soviet oil essential to their system of industrial agriculture.

Prior to the 1990s, books by or about Trotsky were banned in Cuba, as they were in the USSR. As Padura reminds us in his acknowledgements, Cubans of his generation grew up totally unaware that Trotsky or Trotskyism even existed. From this perspective, one can’t help but marvel at his extensive research into Trotsky’s personal and political history, as well as the Spanish Civil War and Stalin’s show trials.

How the CIA Funds Jihad

The Power of Nightmares

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2003)

Part 2 The Phantom Victory

Film Review

Part 2 focuses on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 – and how the CIA funded and trained the Islamist Mujahideen to combat the occupation.

Both Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and the neoconservatives claim credit for the hare-brained and incredibly short sighted scheme to recruit, fund and train a jihadist army in Afghanistan. In addition to providing sophisticated weaponry, the CIA trained the Mujahideen in terror techniques, such as assassination, car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IDEs).

Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian who led the Mujahideen, put out a call for all Muslims to join Afghanistan’s holy war. He believed that victory in Afghanistan would inspire foreign fighters to return to their homelands and overthrow corrupt secular dictators the US was propping up.

One Saudi who answered this call was a phenomenally wealthy construction contractor named Osama bin Laden. He, too, provided funding for the Mujahideen.

Arab governments, recognizing a unique opportunity to expel their own jihadist troublemakers, opened their jails and exiled their Islamic extremists to Afhanistan. Egypt released Islamic Jihad founder Dr Zawahiri and his followers.

Gorbachov Orders Soviet Withdrawal

In 1987 when Gorbachov came to power, the Soviet Union was on the brink of economic collapse. Believing he could still save it through political reform, Gorby quickly commenced Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also reached out to the Bush senior administration to help install a stable government in Kabul. He warned that failure to do so would allow the Mujahideen to install an Islamic dictatorship. The neoconservatives who ran the Pentagon and State Department refused. With Pakistani support, the Mujahideen (renamed the Taliban) took control of Afghanistan and installed a brutal fundamentalist regime.

Both the neoconservatives and the Taliban/Mujahideen would claim sole credit for victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. Both groups (and Zbigniew Brzezinski) would also credit US intervention in Afghanistan for the demise of the Soviet Union. In reality the USSR collapsed due to gross economic mismanagement and internal decay.

The Split Between Azzam and Zawahiri

Following the Soviet withdrawal, a major rift occurred between Zawahiri and Azzam. As it turned out, torture also radicalized Zawahiri. Who now proclaimed that politicians who were in bed with the Americans – and their civilian supporters – were legitimate targets for assassination.

Azzam, in contrast, compelled Islamic freedom fighters to swear an oath not to kill innocent civilians. Osama Bin Laden, former deputy to Azzam, joined forces with Zawahiri shortly before the latter’s assassination in 1989.

By the early nineties, powerful movements the Islamic Jihad (and related groups) had built in Egypt and Algeria were on track to win national elections. Aided by the US and France, the Algerian military launched a coup and cancelled the Algerian elections. Egypt, in turn, banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested and tortured their leadership.

Islamic Jihad responded by attempting to launch violent jihad in both countries. Owing to their failure to attract a mass following, in May 1998 Zawahuri and Bin Laden would announce a new strategy: taking jihad to their real enemies: the US and Israel.

Meanwhile Back in Washington

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the neoconservatives were more committed than ever to promoting the myth that the US was the sole force for good in a world of evil regimes. Fingering Saddam Hussein as the next satan to be overthrown, in 1990 they put immense pressure on Bush senior to overthrow the Iraqi government during the first Gulf War. Bush wisely took the sage advice of Pentagon advisers who warned that a full scale invasion of Iraq would result in a hopeless quagmire.

Mainstream Republicans Back Clinton

In 1992, mainstream Republicans, frightened by the religious fundamentalism that had overtaken the Republican Party, voted for Clinton in droves. The neocons, in turn, latched onto Clinton as the new evil. They began a vicious propaganda campaign against him, spearheaded by the conservative American Spectator. The campaign widely disseminated spurious allegations that the Clintons had committed financial fraud in Whitewater*, murdered their friend Vince Foster and participated in drug smuggling at the Mena Airport in Arkansas.**

Under immense pressure, Clinton agreed to appoint Kenneth Starr as special prosecutor to investigate these allegations. Starr couldn’t find any evidence of Clinton wrongdoing until he stumbled onto the President’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Following their failure to impeach Clinton, the neocons became as marginalized in the US as Bin Laden, Zawahiri and their ragtag followers in the Arab world.

All this would change with 9-11, which would propel both the Islamists and the neocons.


*The Whitewater controversy involved a questionable real estate deal Clinton engaged in while he was attorney general of Arkansas. The Whitewater investigations would result in criminal convictions for several of Clinton’s associates. Although there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against the President, his conduct was clearly unethical: see Whitewater Scandal

**While there’s no evidence Governor Clinton was directly involved in cocaine smuggling, he was unresponsive to strong grassroots demand that he investigate the CIA’a drug-gun smuggling operation at the Mena Airport – and to Ross Perot’s (presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996) request that Clinton back the Internal Revenue’s investigation of Menta.

1968

1968

(More from my research for A Rebel Comes of Age)

1968: The Year that Rocked the World

by Mark Kurlansky (Vintage 2005)

Book Review

1968 was a year for citizen uprisings around the world. Kurlansky comprehensively reviews 19 of them.* Student activists and workers on both sides of the Iron Curtain learned from and copied one another and supported each other’s liberation struggles.

The most eye-opening section discusses the importance of violence in attracting media attention. No one understand the importance of the media in movement building better than Mohandas Gandhi, who went to great lengths to obtain Indian, British, and American coverage of every protest he organized. He also spoke and wrote about the value of British violence in enticing the media to cover the Quit India movement.

According to Kurlansky, Martin Luther King also understood the role of police violence in drawing national media attention – which would be essential in pressuring Attorney General Bobby Kennedy to enforce federal civil rights laws. Kurlansky talks about a police chief in Albany, Georgia who thwarted King’s organizing efforts by studying his nonviolent tactics and countering them with nonviolent law enforcement. Because there was no police violence in Albany, it received no national media attention. .

After Albany, King and other civil rights leaders deliberately targeted towns with hothead police chiefs and angry, volatile mayors. In a 1965 incident, a King protester named Annie Lee Cooper punched the sheriff. and then dared him to hit her. The photo of Sheriff Clark clubbing a defenseless woman made the front page of every mainstream newspaper.

The 1968 Democratic Convention

At August 1968 Democratic Convention, yet again it was police violence by Mayor Daley’s goons that drew national media attention to what was essentially a harmless prank by Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Phil Ochs and other Yippies (Youth International Party). Featured events at the Yippies’ Festival of Light included snaking dancing, poetry, mantras, the Yippie Olympics, a Miss Yippie Contest and Pin the Rubber on the Pope.

The police riot magically transformed the Yippies non-violent prank into front page news. Ironically, however, they had to share the limelight with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Violent Soviet repression of Dubcek’s freedom movement also made the front page..

Prague Spring

It’s quite common for the ruling elite and corporate media to attribute the collapse of the Soviet Union to the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which ultimately bankrupted their economy. Obama’s mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski still talks about ingeniously “luring” them into an unwinnable war by training and arming the Mujahideen freedom fighters.

Kurlansky believes the 1968 Soviet’s invasion of Czechoslovakia marks the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. The student/intellectual protest movement that brought Alexander Dubcek to power in January 1968 became less public but didn’t disappear in the government crackdown that followed the August invasion .It also served to strengthen reform movements in other Soviet Bloc countries – especially Romania and Poland – where government leaders were under pressure to condemn the invasion. In Kurlansky’s view the appearance of Soviet tanks on Czech streets killed the dream of eastern block reformers that socialism could be made more democratic.

His description of the background and personality of Alexander Dubceck, the father of “Prague Spring” is especially illuminating. Dubcek was no wild-eyed radical seeking to overthrow communism. In every respect he was the ultimate communist bureaucrat:  blindly loyal, dutiful, and deeply pro-Soviet. Dubcek and his subordinates, who considered the Soviets their friends and protectors, never dreamed they would invade.

In this respect, Czechoslovakia was unique among eastern bloc countries in voting in a communist government at the end of World War II (rather than having it forced on them).

Parallels Between Dubcek and Nixon

Dubcek, who was far more moderate than the students and intellectuals in the street, was actually somewhat dismayed at his sudden rise to power in January 1968. The student protest and Slovak nationalist movement had erupted simultaneously in late 1967, and Dubcek’s predecessor had been unable to quell the civil unrest.

Unlike many Communist Party officials, Dubcek who was deeply principled, viewed violent suppression of the protests as unthinkable. Aside from his refusal to invoke military force against the students, his situation parallels that of Richard Nixon’s in some ways. Nixon was also forced to enact a number of progressive initiatives  (e.g. the Clean Air Act, and legislation creating of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Social Security Supplemental Income for the disabled) in response to a large and militant protest movement.

Dubcek had no real platform until April 1968, when he issued an Action Program with three planks: 1) commitment to Czechoslovakia’s socialist political/economic system, 2) ending secret police repression of personal and political beliefs, and 3) ending the monopoly of power by the Communist Party.

The immediate result was liberalization of foreign travel, increased access to foreign periodicals, and media exposes about Czech and Soviet corruption and Stalin’s notorious purges. Freedom of artistic expression also increased, as Czech students and everywhere wore blue jeans and long hair, listened to rock and jazz, displayed psychedelic posters and even held an international film festival.

Soviets Forced to Keep Dubcek in Power

Brezhnev, one of Stalin’s henchmen in several purges, put extreme pressure on Dubcek to crack down on these “excesses.”  However even as Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia Dubcek, who was profoundly antiwar, explicitly ordered a robust, well-trained and armed Czech military not to fire on them. As in Tienanmen Square in China, the only opposition to the tanks was tens of thousands of unarmed civilians.

Kurlansky writes at length about an unsung hero named General Ludvik Svoboda, who the Soviets attempted to install in a puppet government after imprisoning Dubcek and three members of his cabinet. Though forced to agree to Soviet demands to gradually reinstate censorship and foreign travel restrictions, Ludvik released Dubcek and allowed him to remain in power until April 1969.

*Countries experiencing mass uprisings in 1968:

  • France
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Poland
  • Yugoslavia
  • Romania
  • Italy
  • West Germany
  • East Germany
  • Spain
  • UK
  • Russia
  • Nigeria
  • Palestine
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • US

***

Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

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