D-Day… More Drama Than Decisive in World War II Victory

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Finian Cunningham
June 6, 2019

Stealing the laurels of victory was a necessary act of treachery by the Western powers in order to facilitate their Cold War against the Soviet Union. The same treachery continues today as Washington and its NATO allies try to wage a new Cold War against Russia.

US President Donald Trump called it the “greatest battle ever” while attending a 75th anniversary ceremony this week to mark the Western allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Trump was joined by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and leaders from 15 other nations in the British harbor city of Portsmouth from where allied troops embarked for the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Looking back, Operation Overlord was indeed a huge military and logistical undertaking. Some 150,000 troops from the US, Britain and Canada, among others, crossed the narrow English Channel in 7,000 vessels. It is recorded as the biggest military land invasion from sea.

Allied forces were met by Nazi firepower as they stormed the Normandy beaches. But in truth the Nazi defenses were easily overwhelmed. That’s largely because Hitler had already shifted the best fighting units months before to the Eastern Front where the Third Reich was really in a war for its survival against the Soviet Red Army. The D-Day casualty figures would attest that American, British and German deaths from the brief battles in Normandy were of the order of 10,000. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front the casualties on both the German and Soviet sides were hundred-fold more, in the millions.

When the D-Day invasion was launched in June 1944, the pivotal battle at Stalingrad was long over, 16 months before that. The Wehrmacht was already being rolled back to German homeland. Some 90 per cent of all German military casualties – nearly six million soldier deaths – were to be inflicted on the Eastern Front fighting the Red Army.

The question remains: why did Western allies not launch their offensive on Nazi-occupied France much sooner? Soviet leader Josef Stalin had pleaded over the previous year with his American and British counterparts to do so on several occasions in order to relieve the Soviets. Did the Western allies finally act on D-Day because they could see that the Red Army was on the way to conquering all of Nazi Germany singlehandedly, and thus were motivated to claw some of the spoils? It was the Red Army that vanquished the Third Reich’s last stand in Berlin in May 1945. But the Soviet Union entered into a postwar carve-up of Germany with the US and Britain.

So, when President Trump talks about D-Day being the “greatest battle ever” he is being prone to unfounded exaggeration, relying on Hollywood fabulation than historical record.

There is little dispute that the opening of the Western Front did indeed help accelerate the final defeat of Nazi Germany. But it also indisputable that the greatest battles and decisive victories were achieved by the Soviet forces for the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny.

What we see in today’s celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day is more dramatics than actual historical reality. Official Western conceit pretends that that event was the key to defeating Nazi Germany.

Part of the reason is to arrogate a moral authority for Western states, which is hardly deserved. By claiming to have emancipated Europe from the scourge of totalitarian fascism, Western states are thereby given a political and moral cover to conduct their own otherwise blatant policies of aggression and militarism.

How many illegal wars and subterfuges have the US and its NATO allies, particularly Britain, carried out since the end of the Second World War? Some historians like the late William Blum, author of ‘Killing Hope’, or Mark Curtis, author of ‘Web of Deceit’, put the number in the hundreds. These genocidal, supreme crimes of aggression, are afforded an audacious moral license largely because these same aggressors continually invoke their supposed victory against Nazi Germany. The truth is that the US and its NATO allies have in many ways continued the same aggression of Nazi Germany in countless wars and covert operations around the world over the past seven decades. The genocides in Korea, Kenya, Malaya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, are just a few among many other US-UK atrocities.

The present looming conflicts involve the US threatening war and destruction against Iran and Venezuela based on transparently spurious pretexts. And yet Trump has the brass neck to eulogize during the D-Day commemorations this week about American forces standing up for “freedom and liberty”.

The US and its NATO allies are using the past and its presumed glories as a shield for their own criminal imperialism.

Dramatizing D-Day as an event is also crucial for the discrediting and demonizing of Russia, as it was previously with regard to the Soviet Union. Wouldn’t it have been appropriate to invite Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the D-Day events this week in order to pay respect to the colossal sacrifices of the Soviet people in defeating Nazi Germany?

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Stephen Lendman: Douma Chemical Incident a US-NATO False Flag… OPCW Is a US Imperial Tool

ST

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The chemical watchdog group is mandated “to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention to achieve a world free of” CWs.

Its mission includes conducting “credible and transparent” on-site inspections to verify use of and destruction of these weapons.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches its mandate, serving US-led Western interests, producing dubious reports with falsified, distorted rubbish, suppressing vital information.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier slammed the group for failing to discharge its duties as mandated by the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Last March, its falsified Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report on the alleged April 7, 2018 CW incident in Douma, Syria said the following:

“Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Douma (Syria)…evaluation and analysis…of information gathered by the FFM (gathered much too late to matter) provide(s) reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on April 7, 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

The incident was a US/NATO false flag, Syria wrongfully blamed for a victimless nonevent – no one killed, hospitalized or ill from exposure to toxins, not chlorine or any other banned substance, nothing. The OPCW lied suggesting otherwise.

Douma eyewitnesses and local medical personnel debunked the falsified narrative. Visiting the site days after the alleged incident, Russian technical experts found no evidence of chemical or other toxins in soil samples and other analysis.

Like many other times, Damascus was falsely blamed for what it had nothing to do with. At the time, Russia’s envoy to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin said testimonies from 17 witnesses, including physicians who were right at the scene on that day…recount(ed) the true story of the (false flag) incident.”

“We had no doubt that the allegations of chemical use in Douma are a fabricated and provocative play staged by the so called White Helmets and Western media outlets.”

We can prove that the video of the White Helmets is fabricated, and therefore there is no basis or validity to the signals of Western countries that this material is evidence of a chemical attack in the city of Douma.”

Instead of reporting accurately on what happened, the OPCW bowed to US interests, delivering a falsified report months later.

Damascus slammed the report, saying it “does not differ from the previous mission reports filled with distorted facts” — falsely blaming Syrian forces for CW incidents staged by US-supported terrorists.

Regarding the Douma incident, Syria’s Foreign Ministry blasted the OPCW’s “lack of professionalism,” adding: “It was easy for the Syrian specialists to discover that the OPCW experts were lying when claiming that they investigated the (Douma) incident in the report from various aspects.”

The organization “ignored the possession of toxic chemicals by terrorist groups, although the mission found those substances in the warehouses of terrorists when they visited them.”

The independent Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media obtained an unpublished OPCW report on the Douma incident — indicating it was staged, Damascus having nothing to do with it.

According to the group’s Piers Robinson,”We have confirmation from multiple sources that (the unpublished OPCW report) is authentic.”

Chlorine cylinders found on the scene were placed next to a pre-existing crater — by Western funded, al-Qaeda connected White Helmets. They were not dropped by Syrian aircraft or helicopters as falsely claimed.

Expert independent evaluation determined that two chlorine cylinders were manually placed at the scene to falsely blame Damascus for what it had nothing to do with.

The OPCW’s unpublished report refuted the findings of its published one last March. Ahead of the April 2018 incident, Moscow and Damascus warned of an impending false flag CW attack by US supported terrorists to be wrongfully blamed on Syrian forces.

On Friday, Russia presented a draft Security Council resolution, calling for the OPCW to fulfill its mandate, saying the following:

The Security Council “emphasizes the need to unite the efforts of States Parties to the (chemical weapons) Convention in order to enhance strict compliance with their obligations under the Convention avoiding politicization,” adding: The SC “calls on the States Parties to the Convention to cooperate with each other in a constructive manner and seek to restore the spirit of consensus in the OPCW for the sake of preserving the integrity and inviolability of the Convention.”

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia accused the OPCW of being “hijacked by politics,” adding: “We are trying to get the (organization) back on track because (it’s) off track and now it is so politicized.”

“It was always a technical organ where consensus prevailed, and now we see that it is completely politicized, with politicized agenda from various parties” — its credibility lost.

Throughout years of US launched aggression on the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, not a shred of credible evidence indicates CW use by government forces. Indisputable evidence shows US supported terrorists used banned toxins numerous times, incidents falsely blamed on Damascus.

A Trump regime veto of Russia’s draft resolution is likely, supported by Britain and France, wanting nothing interfering with their ability to manipulate the OPCW to serve their interests.

Source: Global Research

H.M

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Towards a Culture of World Peace

Global Research, May 16, 2019

The following text was presented at the closing session of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations, programme organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, May 15-16, 2019

***

The World is at a dangerous crossroads. A culture of war and military conquest is upheld. War is presented to public opinion as a US-NATO peace-making endeavor which will ultimately result in the spread of Western democracy.

Military intervention not to mention “economic warfare” (including sanctions) are routinely upheld as part of a humanitarian campaign.  War has been granted a humanitarian mandate under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

Culture which is the theme of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilisations (Beijing, May 15-16, 2019) is of utmost importance in resolving conflicts within and between nations. Culture defines perceptions and understanding as well as dialogue and diplomacy.

In this regard, “Towards a Culture of World Peace” constitutes a commitment to Human Livelihood. It is  an initiative  which consists in confronting the discourse in support of  war and military intervention emanating from NATO and the Pentagon. It requires reviving a Worldwide anti-war movement, nationally and internationally as well as establishing a resolve by the governments of sovereign nation states to reject this Worldwide process of militarization.  

The contemporary US-NATO “culture of war” (which has its roots in European colonial history) constitutes an obvious obstacle and impediment to the Dialogue of Civilizations and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013. 

The culture of peace is universal. It is shared by people and nations Worldwide. Today’s “culture of war” is a US hegemonic project predicated on the creation of conflict and divisions within and between countries. It is this (unilateral) project of global warfare which is intent upon destroying civilization.

“The culture of peace” which was addressed by President Xi Jinping in his opening address of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, constitutes an important instrument which has a bearing on broad geopolitical, economic and strategic relations. The procedure consists in ultimately confronting and dismantling “the culture of war”  which has a pervasive impact on the human mindset. 

This endeavour will not succeed through political rhetoric or a “war of words”.

It requires:

  • Translating the “culture of peace” into concrete actions at the geopolitical and diplomatic levels
  • Confronting media disinformation and war propaganda
  •  A cohesive anti-war movement at the grassroots of society (nationally and internationally)
  • An endorsement by the governments of sovereign countries, member states of the United Nations, namely a decisive inter-governmental rejection of the US-NATO “culture of war”, which is in blatant violation of the UN Charter.
  • The disbandment of military alliances, including NATO, which are supportive of global warfare.
  • The withdrawal of NATO member states and NATO partner member states from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • The adoption of a coherent and Worldwide disarmament programme coupled with major reductions in military spending.
  • The closing down of all military bases, some 800 US military bases in about 80 countries
  • The curtailment in the international trade of weapons
  • The restructuring of national economies with a view to downgrading and eventually closing down the war economy,
  • The reallocation of financial resources and tax revenues towards the civilian economy including social services.

So-called “Humanitarian Warfare”

The victims of U.S. led wars are routinely presented by the Western media as the perpetrators of war.

Realities are turned upside down. “War is Peace” said George Orwell. The Western media in chorus upholds war as a humanitarian endeavor. “Wars make us safer and richer” says the Washington Post.

When war becomes peace, the world is turned upside down. Conceptualization is no longer possible. The consensus is to wage war.

The building of this diabolical consensus consists in the militarization of the “cultural industries”. The latter are supported by the US Department of Defense which allocates a large share of its budget to upholding the “culture of war”.

[T]he ideology of militarism pervades society, glorifying the US state’s use of violence not diplomacy to achieve security in a world divided between a righteous American “us” and an evil and threatening “them,” representing war as the first and most appropriate solution to every problem that vexes America, and reducing patriotism to unquestioning support for each and every incursion. (Tanner Mirrlees, The DoD’s Cultural Policy: Militarizing the Cultural Industries, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, October 2017)

In turn Hollywood in liaison with the Pentagon has endorsed the culture of war and violence:

“[The] Hollywood–Pentagon connection represents a key dimension of the military–entertainment–industrial complex, where a film is simultaneously being used as a tool for recruitment, military public relations, and commercial profit.

According to Tom Secker and Matthew Alford, “A similar influence is exerted over military-supported TV”.

Meanwhile, the balance sheet of death and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria is casually ignored. Civilians in war torn countries are “responsible for their own deaths”. This narrative pervades the Western media:  233,000 estimated deaths in Yemen since 2015, according to a recent United Nations report. 140,000 children killed. The media is silent: who are the war criminals?

Global Warfare

In September 2000, a few months before the accession of George W. Bush to the White House, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) published its blueprint for global domination under the title: “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”. This document which has a direct bearing on US foreign policy refers to America’s “Long War”

  • defend the American homeland;
  • fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
  • perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;
  • transform U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs;”

“The revolution in military affairs” consists in developing advanced weapons systems as well as a new generation of nuclear weapons.

War Culture and Nuclear Weapons

The culture of war is marked by a radical shift in US nuclear doctrine. Starting in 2001, tactical nuclear weapons are heralded as “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”.  A new generation of  “more usable”, “low yield” tactical nuclear weapons (mini-nukes) was put forth. They are heralded as peace-making bombs.

The doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) which prevailed during the Cold War era has been scrapped. Under Bush’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) (endorsed by the US Senate in 2002), nuclear weapons are to be used on a “first strike” “pre-emptive basis”, as a means of “self-defense” against both nuclear and non-nuclear states.

This is an absurd and diabolical proposition which can only be sustained by misleading public opinion, i.e. by obfuscating the deadly impacts of  nuclear weapons. Moreover, while the US has waged countless wars in what is euphemistically described as “the post war era” (1945- present), the issue of “self defense” is erroneous: the national security of the United States of America has never been threatened.

While the US and its NATO allies have launched a military adventure which is sustained by the “culture of war”, the public is largely unaware that the use of these “more usable” nuclear weapons (with a variable explosive capacity between one third to twelve times a Hiroshima bomb) threatens the future of humanity.

There are powerful economic interests behind the culture of war: the oil industry, the military industrial complex, Wall Street. In turn, there are powerful lobby groups which influence US foreign policy. Dialogue and debate are required: It is important that these economic actors, including the weapons producers, be made aware of the inherent dangers of global warfare.

Financing the Culture of War

Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program constitutes a financial bonanza for the defense contractors. US media reports suggest that the nuclear weapons program “makes the World safer”.

The “culture of war” sustains a unilateral build up of the weapons industry funded by US tax payers.  The culture of war has triggered mounting military expenditures to the detriment of the civilian economy. Total military spending worldwide was of the order of 1.8 trillion dollars in 2018. US defense expenditure was of the order of 649 billion, which represents 36% of Worldwide military expenditure (all countries) (SIPRI).

The Trump administration has supported a significant hike in defense, war and related “National Security” expenditures. The defense budget presented by the presidency to the US Congress for 2020 is of the order of  750 billion dollars, of which 718 billion will go to the Pentagon.

But this figure of 740 billion is in some regards misleading: Accounting for a massive US intelligence budget, Homeland Security, and related war expenses, the requested annual US National Security (War) Budget for 2020 is estimated to be in excess of 1.2 trillion dollars.

“There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought”  (See, William D. Hartung, Mandy SmithbergerBoondoggle, Inc.: Making Sense of the $1.25 Trillion National Security State Budget  May 10, 2019).

Compare the figures: The total individual tax revenues for 2020 are of the order of $1.82 billion. Total defense, national security, intelligence, “to make the World safer”, etc is of the order of $1.25 trillion (68.7% of the individual income taxes paid by Americans)

While the weapons industry is booming, the civilian economy is in crisis, civilian infrastructure and social services including medicare are collapsing. Eventually what is required are policy mechanisms for the phasing out of the war economy and the national security apparatus, while channeling resources into rebuilding the civilian economy. No easy task.

The cultural dimension is crucial. US policy-makers believe in their own propaganda. The “culture of war” often combined with twisted ideological and/or religious undertones, influences government officials involved in acts of war.

In 1945, President Truman intimated in the immediate wake of  the bombing of Hiroshima, that God stands on the side of “Us Americans” with regards to the use of nuclear weapons. “We pray that He [God] may guide us to use it [nuclear weapons] in His ways and for His purposes” (August 9, 1945).

Hiroshima was designated as a “military base” in Truman’s historic speech on August 9, 1945. The stated objective of the Harry Truman was to “save the lives of innocent civilians”.

In the contemporary context, diplomatic relations and dialogue are at an all time low. At no time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis has the World been closer to the unthinkable: a global military conflict involving the use of nuclear weapons.

In this regard, what should be acknowledged is that US government officials in high office who decide upon the deployment and use of nuclear weapons do not have a full understanding of the consequences of their acts.

The Legacy of  History

The contemporary US-NATO “culture of war” has its roots in European colonial history. Starting in the late 15th Century, European colonization was invariably supported by military conquest, violence and political subordination. A colonial economy was established. “Western cultural values” and the language of the colonizers were imposed, civilizations were undermined or destroyed. The colonial system ultimately led to the establishment of hegemonic relations, leading up to the consolidation of the British empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, followed by US neo-colonial expansionism in the late 19th century and in the wake of World War I.

What is significant is that this culture of colonial violence inherited from the British empire has a bearing on the nature of  contemporary US foreign policy, which in large part is predicated on militarization at a global level. The US has currently more than 800 military bases in 80 foreign countries.

Many Asian countries which were the victims of US-led war, not only have military cooperation agreement with the US, they also host US military bases on their territory.

In South and Southeast Asia, European colonialism was marked by conquest coupled with the displacement of the pre-existing silk road trade relations.

Historically, China’s trading relations under the land and maritime silk roads were marked by dialogue and the extensive exchange of culture. China’s trade relations during the Antiquity and Middle Age extended into South and South East Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa and Western Europe. Starting during the Han Dynasty (207 BC- 220 AD), the land and maritime silk road played a key role not only in economic exchange between civilizations but also in the spread of social and cultural values.

In contrast to European colonialism, these relations largely respected the sovereignty, independence and identity of the countries with which China was trading with. The silk road  trade did not  seek to impose or develop a dependent colonial relationship. The language of diplomacy was marked by the benefits of bilateral exchange.

Asian Culture and China’s Belt and Road

The mindset in Asian societies, which historically have been the victims of colonialism and US led wars is in marked contrast to the dominant “culture of war”.

The legacy of history prevails. While the “culture of war” characterizes America’s hegemonic ambitions modelled on the legacy of the British empire, China’s contemporary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)which consists in developing trade relations with a large number of partner Nations states, is largely committed to a “Culture of Peace”.

Most Asian countries have been the victims of Western colonialism starting in the 15th Century, the impacts of which have led to the destruction of the pre-existing maritime and land trade routes as well as the demise of cultural exchange.

And numerous countries in Asia and the Middle East extending from the Mediterranean to the Korean Peninsula have been the victims of US led-wars in the course of what is euphemistically called “the post war era”. Today most of these countries are partners of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

As we speak, the US is threatening Iran. Washington has announced the deployment of 120,000 US troops to be dispatched to Persian Gulf . Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo (who has little understanding of history and geography) has justified this deployment, while casually  referring to the “clash of civilizations”.

US led wars are intent upon destroying civilizations as well dialogue between sovereign nation states.

As we conclude this closing session of  the Conference on the Dialogue of Asians Civilizations in Beijing, let us endorse “the Culture of Peace” as a means to ultimately abolishing all wars.

*

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, Editor of Global Research.  He has taught as visiting professor in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. He has served as economic adviser to governments of developing countries and has acted as a consultant for several international organizations. He is the author of eleven books including The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003), America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005), The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the Twenty-first Century (2009) (Editor), Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011), The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity (2015). He is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. In 2014, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit of the Republic of Serbia for his writings on NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia. He can be reached at crgeditor@yahoo.com

Waging War on Iran without Turkey? Is Turkey Sleeping with the Enemy? The Russia -Turkey -Iran “Triple Entente”

Global Research, May 09, 2019

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Recent reports suggest that Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are “doing everything possible to instigate a war with Iran”. Will they succeed?

Bolton-Pompeo are involved in deliberate acts of provocation. The Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group is currently en route to the Persian Gulf  “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime…”  

This is not the first time that threats of this nature have been formulated. War on Iran has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for the past 16 years.  Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. military sources intimated at the time that an aerial attack on Iran could involve a large scale deployment comparable to the U.S. “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003.

Without dispelling the dangers of the reckless Bolton-Pompeo initiative, a large scale US-NATO-Israel military operation directed against Iran from a strategic and geopolitical standpoint at this juncture is unlikely.

Why?

A shift in military alliances between “Great Powers” is unfolding, which is exceedingly more complex than that  pertaining to World War I. (i.e  the confrontation between “The Triple Entente” and “the Triple Alliance”).

Today, the structure of military alliances is in jeopardy much to the detriment of Washington.

You cannot successfully wage war on Iran when Turkey, your ally and NATO heavy weight is “sleeping with the enemy”. 

While Turkey is officially a member of NATO as well as a firm ally of the US, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been developing “friendly relations” with two of America’s arch-enemies, namely Iran and Russia.

Needless to say NATO is in crisis. Moreover, US and Turkey supported proxy forces are fighting one another in Northern Syria. 

There is also a Turkey-Israel military-intelligence alliance which dates back to the Security and Secrecy Agreement (SSA) signed with the government Tansu Çiller in 1993-94. This alliance which had been designed by the Clinton administration is no longer functional.  

The strategic bilateral US-Israel relationship as well as the US-Turkey alliance coupled with the Israel-Turkey military and intelligence cooperation agreement as well as the Israel-NATO agreement (2003), were the foundations of the US-Israel-Turkey “Triple alliance” or what the Brookings Institute called the US-Turkey- Israel Triangle.

This US sponsored triangular structure of alliances is dead and defunct, much to the detriment of Washington’s interests in the Middle East.

What is now unfolding is a new Triple Entente between Turkey, Iran and Russia

The Netanyahu-Putin “Love Relationship”

But there is another element which is absolutely crucial: Israel is also sleeping with the enemy. Netanyahu and Putin have developed over the years an informal and friendly relationship. They consult one another frequently on key political and strategic issues.

While the Netanyahu-Putin relationship is not a formal alliance, it nonetheless serves the interests of both Russia and Israel. “Putin has a friend in Bibi Netanyahu, and maybe even a soulmate”. According to Reuters, “Vladimir Putin is the closest thing to a friend Israel has ever had in Moscow”.

Turkey, NATO Exit

Contemporary developments point to a historical shift in the structure of military alliances which is contributing to weakening US hegemony in the Middle East as well as creating an unspoken crisis within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Waging US-NATO-Israel war on Iran with or without Turkey?

Turkey is NATO’s heavy weight, it is the only NATO member state which is (largely) situated in the Middle East bordering onto Iran.

In early April, Secretary State Mike Pompeo met up with his counterpart Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu  in Ankara. The Pompeo-Cavusoglu confrontation made the headlines, In turn, Vice President Pence openly threatened the Turkish government:

Vice President Mike Pence warned Turkey against going ahead with the purchase of the Russian-made [S-400] missile system, hours after the Turkish foreign minister said the acquisition was “a done deal” … Pence said the weapons purchase could “threaten the very cohesion of this alliance... We’ve also made it clear that we’ll not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries, Pence said. (CNN, April 3, 2019)

Mike Pence is right: The cohesion of NATO is at stake. And Turkey cannot be trusted as an ally of the US.

Turkey’s NATO-Exit? It is almost a done deal.

And if Turkey exits NATO, other countries might follow suit.Something which Washington would want to avoid.

In the course of the month of April (following Pompeo’s diplomatic blunder in Ankara) Turkey and Iran have strengthened their bilateral relations.

Pompeo’s counterpart Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has retorted: “We do not accept unilateral sanctions and impositions on how we build our relationship with our neighbors.” (quoted in Al Monitor, April 29, 2019)

US, NATO, Israel Military logistics are integrated, and Turkey is still (officially) part of NATO.

The evolving structure of military alliances (and cross-cutting coalitions) including the crisis within NATO does not favour the launching  of a large scale military operation against Iran. One assumes that Bolton-Pompeo are fully aware of this issue. Or are they?

Turkey is a NATO Member State which is sleeping with enemy. Given It’s relationship with Russia and Iran, from a logistical point of view the practice of coordinated US-NATO military planning is in jeopardy.

This does not exclude the conduct of other forms of warfare including economic sanctions, sabotage, Bolton-style spontaneous acts of provocation, covert support of terrorist organizations, etc.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, May 09, 2019


Is Turkey Sleeping with the Enemy? The Russia -Turkey -Iran “Triple Entente”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 10, 2018

Sleeping with the enemy:  “Our relations are not good with Turkey” says Trump.

US-Turkey military cooperation (including US air force bases in Turkey) dates back to the Cold War. Today Turkey is now sleeping with both Iran and Russia. 

Trump’s response takes the form of both military threats and economic sanctions coupled with financial manipulation of foreign exchange markets directed against Turkey’s Lira.

And their  currency “slides rapidly downwards against our very strong dollar”, says Trump.


Turkey has developed an alliance of convenience with Iran. And Iran in turn is now supported by a powerful China-Russia block, which includes military cooperation, strategic pipelines as well extensive trade and investment agreements.

But there is more than meets the eye.

While the US and Israel have for many years contemplated military action (including the preemptive use of nuclear weapons) against Iran, this military agenda –which relied on a longstanding military-intelligence alliance between Israel and Turkey– is currently in jeopardy. And so is Ankara’s  bilateral military alliance with Washington.

The Israel-Turkey alliance which dates back to the Security and Secrecy Agreement (SSA) signed under Turkey’s  Tansu Çiller government in 1993-94 included:

…A 1993 Memorandum of Understanding led to the creation of (Israeli-Turkish) “joint committees” to handle so-called regional threats. Under the terms of the Memorandum, Turkey and Israel agreed “to cooperate in gathering intelligence on Syria, Iran, and Iraq and to meet regularly to share assessments pertaining to terrorism and these countries’ military capabilities.”

“Turkey agreed to allow IDF and Israeli security forces to gather electronic intelligence on Syria and Iran from Turkey. In exchange, Israel assisted in the equipping and training of Turkish forces in anti-terror warfare along the Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian borders.” (see Michel Chossudovsky, 2004)

The SSA agreement was a carefully designed instrument of US foreign policy which set the stage for a firm and close Israel-Turkey relationship in military and intelligence cooperation, joint military exercises, weapons production and training.

Image on the left: Erdogan and Ariel Sharon (2004)

Already during the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”,  dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrated and coordinated military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara. ….

The triple alliance is also coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement which includes “many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and joint military exercises. These military cooperation ties with NATO are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, “Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, August 6, 2006)

In 2006,  shortly before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, the US and Turkey signed a “Shared Vision” (which committed Turkey to supporting Israel). The agreement was:

“characterized by strong bonds of friendship, alliance, mutual trust and unity of vision. We share the same set of values and ideals in our regional and global objectives: the promotion of peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity.”

The bilateral US-Israel and US-Turkey alliance coupled with the Israel-Turkey military and intelligence cooperation agreement as well as the Israel-NATO agreement (2003), constitute the foundations of the US-Israel-Turkey “Triple alliance” or what the Brookings Institute calls the US-Turkey- Israel Triangle.

This triangular structure of alliances is dead much to the detriment of Washington.

In turn,  Turkey wants to acquire Russia’s S-400 air defense system at a cost of 2 billion dollars. In practice, this would mean that Turkey would opt  out of the integrated US-NATO air defense system (which also includes the participation of Israel). In practice this also means that Turkey has “unofficially” chosen NATO-Exit.

Image on the right: Rouhani, Putin, Erdogan

What is unfolding is the building of  a new Triple Entente between Turkey, Iran and Russia. 

At this stage, this Triple Entente goes beyond an “alliance of convenience”. It constitutes a major restructuring of both military and economic alliances.

Who Benefits from Trump’s Foreign Policy Statements? Short-Selling Major Currencies. Insider Trade?

On a related matter, the Trump administration is involved in acts of manipulation on foreign exchange markets with the full support of Wall Street.

What is the consequence of Trump’s statements?

Trigger the collapse of the Turkish Lira, which constitutes a de facto act of financial warfare directed against Turkey.

Those who had advanced knowledge of  Trump’s statements (“inside information”) are making multibillion dollar profits on the foreign exchange markets. (This is an issue for further investigation)

An earlier statement by Trump regarding sanctions directed Russia was conducive to a significant decline in the Russian Ruble.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War. The Role of Osama bin Laden and Zbigniew Brzezinski

Part II

Global Research, May 08, 2019

Read Part I from the link below.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

By Janelle Velina, April 30, 2019

Below is the second half and conclusion of “Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War”. While the previous sections examined the economic roots of imperialism, as well as the historical context of the Cold War within which to situate the Mujahideen, the following explores the anatomy of proxy warfare and media disinformation campaigns which were at the heart of destabilizing Afghanistan. These were also a large part of why there was little to no opposition to the Mujahideen from the Western ‘left’, whose continued dysfunctionality cannot be talked about without discussing Zbigniew Brzezinski. We also take a look at what led to the Soviet Union’s demise and how that significantly affected the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and many other parts of the world. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for four decades now, and it will reach its 40th year on July 3, 2019. 

The original “moderate rebel”

One of the key players in the anti-Soviet, U.S.-led regime change project against Afghanistan was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire who came from a wealthy, powerful family that owns a Saudi construction company and has had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Before becoming known as America’s “boogeyman”, Osama bin Laden was put in charge of fundraising for the Mujahideen insurgents, creating numerous charities and foundations in the process and working in coordination with Saudi intelligence (who acted as liaisons between the fighters and the CIA). Journalist Robert Fisk even gave bin Laden a glowing review, calling him a “peace warrior” and a philanthropist in a 1993 report for the Independent. Bin Laden also provided recruitment for the Mujahideen and is believed to have also received security training from the CIA. And in 1989, the same year that Soviet troops withdrew, he founded the terrorist organization Al Qaeda with a number of fighters he had recruited to the Mujahideen. Although the PDPA had already been overthrown, and the Soviet Union was dissolved, he still maintained his relationship with the CIA and NATO, working with them from the mid-to-late 1990s to provide support for the secessionist Bosnian paramilitaries and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the destruction and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

The United States would eventually turn Bin Laden into a scapegoat after the 2001 terrorist attacks, while still maintaining ties to his family and providing arms, training, and funding to Al Qaeda and its affiliates (rebranded as “moderate rebels” by the Western media) in its more recent regime change project against Syria, which started in 2011. The Mujahideen not only gave birth to Al Qaeda, but it would set a precedent for the United States’ regime-change operations in later years against the anti-imperialist governments of Libya and Syria.

Reagan entertains Mujahideen fighters in the White House.

With the end to the cycle of World Wars (for the time being, at least), it has become increasingly common for the United States to use local paramilitaries, terrorist groups, and/or the armed forces of comprador regimes to fight against nations targeted by U.S. capital interests. Why the use of proxy forces? They are, as Whitney Webb describes, “a politically safe tool for projecting the U.S.’ geopolitical will abroad.”
Using proxy warfare as a kind of power projection tool is, first and foremost, cost-effective, since paid local mercenaries or terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda will bear the burden of combat and casualties rather than American troops in places like Libya and Syria. For example, it costs much less to pay local paramilitaries, gangs, crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other reactionary forces to perform the same military operations as U.S. troops. Additionally, with the advent of nuclear weapons it became much more perilous for global superpowers to come into direct combat with one another — if the Soviet Union and the United States had done so, there existed the threat of “mutually assured destruction”, the strong possibility of instantaneous and catastrophic damage to the populations and the economic and living standards of both sides, something neither side was willing to risk, even if it was U.S. imperialism’s ultimate goal to destroy the Soviet Union.
And so, the U.S. was willing to use any other means necessary to weaken the Soviet Union and safeguard its profits, which included eliminating the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan even if it had neither the intent nor the means of launching a military offensive on American soil. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had the means of producing a considerably large supply of modern weapons, including nuclear deterrents, to counter the credible threat posed by the United States. To strike the Soviet Union with nuclear missiles would have been a great challenge for the United States, since it would have resulted in overwhelming retaliation by the Soviet Union. To maneuver this problem, to assure the destruction of the Soviet Union while protecting the U.S. from similar destruction, the CIA relied on more unconventional methods not previously thought of as being part of traditional warfare, such as funding proxy forces while wielding economic and cultural influence over the American domestic sphere and the international scene.

Furthermore, proxy warfare enables control of public opinion, thus allowing the U.S. government to escape public scrutiny and questions about legal authorization for war. With opposition from the general public essentially under control, consent for U.S.-led wars does not need to be obtained, especially when the U.S. military is running them from “behind the scenes” and its involvement looks less obvious. Indeed, the protests against the war on Vietnam in the United States and other Western countries saw mass turnouts.

And while the U.S.-led aggression in Vietnam did involve proxy warfare to a lesser degree, it was still mostly fought with American “boots-on-the-ground”, much like the 2001 renewed U.S.-led aggression against Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In contrast, the U.S. assault on Afghanistan that began in 1979 saw little to no protest. The Mujahideen even garnered support from large portions of the Western left who joined the chorus of voices in the Western mainstream media in demonizing the PDPA — a relentless imperialist propaganda campaign that would be repeated in later years during the U.S. wars on Libya and Syria, with the difference being that social media had not yet gained prominence at the time of the initial assault on Afghanistan. This leads to the next question: why recruit some of the most reactionary social forces abroad, many of whom represent complete backwardness?

In Afghanistan, such forces proved useful in the mission to topple the modernizing government of the PDPA, especially when their anti-modernity aspirations intersected with U.S. foreign policy; these ultra-conservative forces continue to be deployed by the United States today. In fact, the long war on Afghanistan shares many striking similarities with the long war on Syria, with the common theme of U.S. imperialism collaborating with violent Sunni extremists to topple the secular, nationalist and anti-imperialist governments of these two former ‘Soviet bloc’ countries. And much like the PDPA, the current and long-time government of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party in Syria has made many strides towards achieving national liberation and economic development, which have included: taking land from aristocratic families (a majority of whom were Sunni Muslims while Shia Muslims, but especially Alawites, traditionally belonged to the lower classes and were treated as second class citizens in pre-Ba’athist Syria) and redistributing and nationalizing it, making use of Syria’s oil and gas reserves to modernize the country and benefit its population, and upholding women’s rights as an important part of the Ba’athist pillars.

Some of these aristocratic landlords, just like their Afghan counterparts, would react violently and join the Muslim Brotherhood who, with CIA-backing, carried out acts of terrorism and other atrocities in Hama as they made a failed attempt to topple the government of Hafez al Assad in 1982.

The connection between the two is further solidified by the fact that it was the Mujahideen from which Al Qaeda emerged; both are inspired by Wahhabist ideology, and one of their chief financiers is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (as well as Israel, a regional imperial power and a key ally of the United States). In either case, these Wahhabi-inspired forces were vehemently opposed to modernization and development, and would much rather keep large sections of the population impoverished, as they sought to replace the PDPA and the Ba’athists with Sunni fundamentalist, anti-Shia, theological autocracies — Saudi-style regimes, in other words.

These reactionary forces are useful tools in the CIA’s anti-communist projects and destabilization campaigns against independent nationalist governments, considering that the groups’ anti-modernity stance is a motivating factor in their efforts to sabotage economic development, which is conducive to ensuring a favourable climate for U.S. capital interests. It also helps that these groups already saw the nationalist governments of the PDPA and the Syrian Ba’ath party as their ‘archenemy’, and would thus fight them to the death and resort to acts of terrorism against the respective civilian populations.

Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in response to the following question:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

[Brzezinski]: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Once again, he makes it clear that the religious extremism of the Mujahideen fighters was not an issue for Washington because the real political value lay in eliminating the PDPA and putting an end to Soviet influence in the Greater Middle East, which would give the U.S. the opportunity to easily access and steal the country’s wealth. And in order to justify the U.S. imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to obscure the true nature of the Mujahideen fighters, the intervention needed to be accompanied by a rigorous mass media campaign. The Reagan administration — knowing full well that American mainstream media has international influence — continued the war that the Carter administration started and saw it as an opportunity to “step up” its domestic propaganda war, considering that the American general public was still largely critical of the Vietnam War at the time.

As part of the aggressive imperialist propaganda campaign, anyone who dared to publicly criticize the Mujahideen was subjected to character assassination and was pejoratively labelled a “Stalinist” or a “Soviet apologist”, which are akin to labels such as “Russian agent” or “Assadist” being used as insults today against those who speak out against the U.S.-backed terrorism in Syria. There were also careful rebranding strategies made specifically for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen mercenaries, who were hailed as “revolutionary freedom fighters” and given a romantic, exoticized “holy warrior” makeover in Western media; hence the title of this section. The Mujahideen mercenaries were even given a dedication title card at the end of the Hollywood movie Rambo III which read, “This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan”; the film itself added to the constructed romantic image as it portrayed the Mujahideen fighters as heroes, while the Soviet Union and the PDPA were portrayed as the cartoonish villains. The Rambo film franchise is well known for its depiction of the Vietnamese as “savages” and as the aggressors in the U.S. war on Vietnam, which is a blatant reversal of the truth.

The Hollywood blockbuster franchise would be used to make the Mujahideen more palatable to Western audiences, as this unabashed, blatantly anti-Soviet propaganda for U.S. imperialism attracted millions of viewers with one of the largest movie marketing campaigns of the time. Although formulaic, the films are easily consumable because they appeal to emotion and, as Michael Parenti states in Dirty Truths, “The entertainment industry does not merely give the people what they want: it is busy shaping those wants,” (p. 111). Rambo III may not have been critically acclaimed, but it was still the second most commercially successful film in the Rambo series, grossing a total of $189,015,611 at the box office. Producing war propaganda films is nothing new and has been a long staple of the Hollywood industry, which serves capitalist and imperialist interests. But, since the blockbuster movie is one of the most widely available and distributed forms of media, repackaging the Mujahideen into a popular film franchise was easily one of the best ways (albeit cynical) to justify the war, maintaining the American constructed narrative and reinforcing the demonization campaign against Soviet Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Now, outside of the cinema, CBS News went as far as to air fake battle footage meant to help perpetuate the myth that the Mujahideen mercenaries were “freedom fighters”; American journalists Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, although decidedly biased against the Soviet Union and its allies, documented this ruse in which the news channel participated. In terms of proxy warfare, these were just some of the ways used to distract from the fact that it was a U.S.-led war.

The dedication title card as it originally appeared at the end of the film Rambo III.

In Afghanistan, proxy forces provided a convenient cover because they drew attention away from the fact that U.S. imperialism was the root cause of the conflict. The insurgents also helped to demonize the targets of U.S. foreign policy, the PDPA and the Soviet Union, all the while doing the majority of the physical combat in place of the American military. In general, drawing attention away from the fact that it has been the United States “pulling the strings” all along, using proxy forces helps Washington to maintain plausible deniability in regard to its relationship with such groups. If any one of these insurgents becomes a liability, as what had happened with the Taliban, they can just as easily be disposed of and replaced by more competent patsies, while U.S. foreign policy goes unquestioned. Criminal gangs and paramilitary forces are thus ideal and convenient tools for U.S. foreign policy. With the rule of warlords and the instability (namely damage to infrastructure, de-industrialization, and societal collapse) that followed after the toppling of the PDPA, Afghanistan’s standard of living dropped rapidly, leading to forced mass migrations and making the country all the more vulnerable to a more direct U.S. military intervention — which eventually did happen in 2001.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: godfather of colour revolutions and proxy wars, architect of the Mujahideen

The late Brzezinski was a key figure in U.S. foreign policy and a highly influential figure in the Council on Foreign Relations. Although the Polish-American diplomat and political scientist was no longer the National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he still continued to play a prominent role in enforcing U.S. foreign policy goals in upholding Washington’s global monopoly. The liberal Cold War ideologue’s signature strategy consisted of using the CIA to destabilize and force regime-change onto countries whose governments actively resisted against Washington. Such is the legacy of Brzezinski, whose strategy of funding the most reactionary anti-government forces to foment chaos and instability while promoting them as “freedom fighters” is now a longstanding staple of U.S. imperialism.

How were the aggressive propaganda campaigns which promoted the Mujahideen mercenaries as “freedom fighters” able to garner support for the aggression against the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from so many on the Western left who had previously opposed the war on Vietnam? It was the through the CIA’s use of ‘soft-power’ schemes, because leftist opinion also needed to be controlled and manipulated in the process of carrying out U.S. foreign and public policy. Brzezinski mastered the art of targeting intelligentsia and impressionable young people in order to make them supportive of U.S. foreign policy, misleading a significant number of people into supporting U.S.-led wars.

The CIA invested money into programs that used university campus, anti-Soviet “radical leftist activists” and academics (as well as artists and writers) to help spread imperialist propaganda dressed up in vaguely “leftist”-sounding language and given a more “hip”, “humanitarian”, “social justice”, “free thinker” appeal. Western, but especially American, academia has since continued to teach the post-modernist “oppression theory” or “privilege theory” to students, which is anti-Marxist and anti-scientific at its core. More importantly, this post-modernist infiltration was meant to distract from class struggle, to help divert any form of solidarity away from anti-imperialist struggles, and to foster virulent animosity towards the Soviet Union among students and anyone with ‘leftist’ leanings. Hence the phenomenon of identity politics that continues to plague the Western left today, whose strength was effectively neutered by the 1970s. Not only that, but as Gowans mentions in his book, Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom:

“U.S. universities recruit talented individuals from abroad, instill in them the U.S. imperialist ideology and values, and equip them with academic credentials which conduce to their landing important political positions at home. In this way, U.S. imperial goals indirectly structure the political decision-making of other countries.” (pp. 52-53)

And so we have agencies and think-tanks such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has scholarly appeal and actively interferes in elections abroad — namely, in countries that are targets of U.S. foreign policy. Founded in 1983 by Reagan and directed by the CIA, the agency also assists in mobilizing coups and paid “dissidents” in U.S.-led regime change projects, such as the 2002 failed attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, as well as helping to create aggressive media campaigns that demonize targeted nations. Another instance of this “soft power” tactic of mobilizing U.S.-backed “dissidents” in targeted nations are the number of Sunni Islamic fundamentalist madrassas (schools) sponsored by the CIA and set up by Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan — which started to appear in increasing numbers during the 1980s, reaching over 39,000 during the decade. Afghanistan’s public education institutions were largely secular prior to the fall of Kabul in 1992; these madrassas were the direct, ideological and intellectual antitheses to the existing institutions of education. The madrassas acted as centres for cult-like brainwashing and were essentially CIA covert psychological operations (psy-ops) intended to inspire divisiveness and demobilize younger generations of Afghans in the face of imperial onslaught so that they would not unite with the wider PDPA-led nationalist resistance to imperialism.

The NED’s founding members were comprised of Cold War ideologues which included Brzezinski himself, as well as Trotskyists who provided an endless supply of slurs against the Soviet Union. It was chiefly under this agency, and with direction provided by Brzezinski, that America produced artists, “activists”, academics, and writers who presented themselves as “radical leftists” and slandered the Soviet Union and countries that were aligned with it — which was all part of the process of toppling them and subjugating them to U.S. free market fundamentalism. With Brzezinski having mastered the art of encouraging postmodernism and identity politics among the Western left in order to weaken it, the United States not only had military and economic might on its side but also highly sophisticated ideological instruments to help give it the upper hand in propaganda wars.

These “soft power” schemes are highly effective in masking the brutality of U.S. imperialism, as well as concealing the exploitation of impoverished nations. Marketing the Mujahideen mercenaries as “peace warriors” while demonizing the PDPA and referring to the Soviet assistance as an “invasion” or “aggression” marked the beginning of the regular use of “humanitarian” pretexts for imperialist interventions. The Cold War era onslaught against Afghanistan can thus be seen as the template for the NATO-led regime change projects against Yugoslavia, Libya, and Syria, which not only involved the use of U.S.-backed proxy forces but also “humanitarian” pretexts being presented in the aggressive propaganda campaigns against the targeted countries. It was not until 2002, however, that then-American UN representative Samantha Powers, as well as several U.S.-allied representatives, would push the United Nations to officially adopt the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine into the Charter — which was in direct contradiction to the law that recognizes the violation of a nation’s sovereignty as a crime. The R2P doctrine was born out of the illegal 78-day NATO air-bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999. And although plans to dismantle Yugoslavia go as far back as 1984, it was not until much of the 1990s that NATO would begin openly intervening — with more naked aggression — starting with the funding and support for secessionist paramilitary forces in Bosnia between 1994-1995. It then sealed the 1999 destruction of Yugoslavia with with the balkanization of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In addition to the use of terrorist and paramilitary groups as proxy forces which received CIA-training and funding, another key feature of this “humanitarian” intervention was the ongoing demonization campaigns against the Serbs, who were at the centre of a vicious Western media propaganda war. Some of the most egregious parts of these demonization campaigns — which were tantamount to slander and libel — were the claims that the Serbs were “committing genocide” against ethnic Albanians. The NATO bombing campaign was illegal since it was given no UN Security Council approval or support.

Once again, Brzezinski was not the National Security Advisor during the U.S.-led campaign against Yugoslavia. However, he still continued to wield influence as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization and Wall Street think tank. The Council on Foreign Relations is intertwined with highly influential NGOs who are essentially propaganda mouthpieces for U.S. foreign policy, such as Human Rights Watch, which has fabricated stories of atrocities allegedly committed by countries targeted by U.S. imperialism. Clearly, unmitigated U.S. imperial aggression did not end with the destruction of the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, nor with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War years were a continuation of U.S. imperialism’s scramble for more spheres of influence and global domination; it was also a scramble for what was left of the former ‘Soviet bloc’ and Warsaw Pact. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was, figuratively speaking, the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of whatever ‘Soviet influence’ was left in Eastern Europe.

The demise of the Soviet Union and the “Afghan trap” question

Image on the right: Left to right: former Afghan President Babrak Karmal, and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Karmal took office at around the same time (December 1979) the PDPA requested that Moscow intervene to assist the besieged Afghanistan.

The sabotage and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union meant that only one global hegemon remained, and that was the United States. Up until 1989, the Soviet Union had been the barrier that was keeping the United States from launching a more robust military intervention in Afghanistan, as well as in Central and West Asia. While pulling out did not immediately cause the defeat of Kabul as the PDPA government forces continued to struggle for another three years, Mikhail Gorbachev’s decision to withdraw Soviet troops arguably had a detrimental impact on Afghanistan for many years to come. Although there was no Soviet military assistance in the last three years of Najibullah’s presidency, Afghanistan continued to receive aid from the USSR, and some Soviet military advisers (however limited in their capacity) still remained; despite the extreme difficulties, and combined with the nation’s still-relatively high morale, this did at least help to keep the government from being overthrown immediately. This defied U.S. expectations as the CIA and the George H.W. Bush administration had believed that the government of Najibullah would fall as soon as Soviet troops were withdrawn. But what really hurt the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s army was when the Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991; almost as soon as the dissolution happened and Boris Yeltsin (with U.S. backing) took over as Russia’s president, the aid stopped coming and the government forces became unable to hold out for much longer. The U.S. aggression was left unchecked, and to this day Afghanistan has not seen geopolitical stability and has since been a largely impoverished ‘failed state’, serving as a training ground for terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. It continues to be an anarchic battleground between rival warlords which include the ousted Taliban and the U.S. puppet government that replaced them.

But, as was already mentioned above, the “Afghan trap” did not, in and of itself, cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In that same interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski had this to say in response to the question about setting the “trap”:

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

[Brzezinski]: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Likewise with Cuba and Syria, the USSR had a well-established alliance with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, one of mutual aid and partnership. Answering Kabul’s explicit request for assistance was a deliberate and conscious choice made by Moscow, and it just so happened that the majority of Afghans welcomed it. For any errors that Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary at the time, may have made (which do deserve a fair amount of criticism, but are not the focus of this article), the 1979 decision to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan against U.S. imperialism was not one of them. It is true that both the Soviet and the U.S. interventions were military interventions, but the key difference is that the U.S. was backing reactionary forces for the purposes of establishing colonial domination and was in clear violation of Afghan sovereignty. Consider, too, that Afghanistan had only deposed of its king in 1973, just six years before the conflict began. The country may have moved quickly to industrialize and modernize, but it wasn’t much time to fully develop its military defenses by 1979.

Image below: Mikhail Gorbachev accepts the Nobel Peace Prize from George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990. Many Russians saw this gesture as a betrayal, while the West celebrated it, because he was being awarded for his capitulation to U.S. imperialism in foreign and economic policy.

Other than that, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Soviet Union imploded due to an accumulating number of factors: namely, the gradual steps that U.S. foreign policy had taken over the years to cripple the Soviet economy, especially after the deaths of Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov. How Gorbachev responded during the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan certainly helped to exacerbate the conditions that led to the dissolution. After the deaths of Brezhnev and Andropov, the Soviet Union’s economy became disorganized and was being liberalized during much of the 1980s. Not only that, but the Reagan administration escalated the arms race, which intensified after they had scrapped the ‘detente’ that was previously made in the mid-1970s. Even prior to Reagan’s hardline, bombastic rhetoric and escalation against the USSR, the Soviet Union was already beginning to show signs of strain from the arms race during the late-1970s. However, in spite of the economic strains, during the height of the war the organized joint operations between the Soviet army and the Afghan army saw a significant amount of success in pushing back against the Mujahideen with many of the jihadist leaders either being killed or fleeing to Pakistan. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that intervening in Afghanistan on behalf of the Afghan people “did the Soviet Union in.”

In a misguided and ultimately failed attempt to spur economic growth rates, Gorbachev moved to end the Cold War by withdrawing military support from allies and pledging cooperation with the United States who promised “peace”. When he embraced Neoliberalism and allowed for the USSR to be opened to the U.S.-dominated world capitalist economy, the Soviet economy imploded and the effects were felt by its allies. It was a capitulation to U.S. imperialism, in other words; and it led to disastrous results not only in Afghanistan, but in several other countries as well. These include: the destruction of Yugoslavia, both wars on Iraq, and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya. Also, Warsaw Pact members in Eastern Europe were no longer able to effectively fight back against U.S.-backed colour revolutions; some of them would eventually be absorbed as NATO members, such as Czechoslovakia which was dissolved and divided into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Without Soviet Russia to keep it in check, the United States was able to launch an unrestrained series of aggressions for nearly two decades. Because of his decision to withdraw from the arms race altogether, in a vain attempt to transform the Soviet Union into a social democracy akin to those of the Nordic countries, Gorbachev had deprived the Russian army of combat effectiveness by making significant cuts to its defense budget, which is partly why they were forced to evacuate. Not only that, but these diplomatic and military concessions with the United States gave them no benefit in return, hence the economic crisis in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Suffice to say, the Gorbachev-Yeltsin years are not remembered fondly in Russia and many regard Gorbachev as a traitor and Western agent who helped to bring the Soviet Union to its collapse. In more recent years, efforts are being made to assess the actions taken by Gorbachev with regards to Afghanistan; this includes going against and revising the resolution put forth by him which suggested that the USSR intervention was “shameful”.

In short, Afghanistan did not cause the Soviet Union’s demise even if it required large military spending. More accurately: it was Gorbachev’s impulsive decision to quickly discard the planned economy in favour of a market economy in order to appease the United States, who made the false promise that NATO would not expand eastward. If there was a real “trap”, it was this and Gorbachev played right into the hands of U.S. imperialism; and so, the Soviet Union received its devastating blow from the United States in the end — not from a small, minor nation such as Afghanistan which continues to suffer the most from the effects of these past events. For many years, but especially since the end of WWII, the United States made ceaseless efforts to undermine the USSR, adding stress upon stress onto its economy, in addition to the psychological warfare waged through the anti-Soviet propaganda and military threats against it and its allies. Despite any advances made in the past, the Soviet Union’s economy was still not as large as that of the United States. And so, in order to keep pace with NATO, the Soviet Union did not have much of a choice but to spend a large percentage of its GDP on its military and on helping to defend its allies, which included national liberation movements in the Third World, because of the very real and significant threat that U.S. imperialism posed. If it had not spent any money militarily, its demise would most likely have happened much sooner. But eventually, these mounting efforts by U.S. imperialism created a circumstance where its leadership under Gorbachev made a lapse in judgment, reacting impulsively and carelessly rather than acting with resilience in spite of the onslaught.

It should also be taken into account that WWII had a profound impact on Soviet leadership — from Joseph Stalin to Gorbachev — because even though the Red Army was victorious in defeating the Nazis, the widespread destruction had still placed the Soviet economy under an incredible amount of stress and it needed time to recover. Meanwhile, the convenient geographical location of the United States kept it from suffering the same casualties and infrastructural damage seen across Europe and Asia as a result of the Second World War, which enabled its economy to recover much faster and gave it enough time to eventually develop the U.S. Dollar as the international currency and assert dominance over the world economy. Plus, the U.S. had accumulated two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves by 1944 to help back the Dollar; and even if it lost a large amount of the gold, it would still be able to maintain Dollar supremacy by developing the fiat system to back the currency. Because of the destruction seen during WWII, it is understandable that the Soviet Union wanted to avoid another world war, which is why it also made several attempts at achieving some kind of diplomacy with the United States (before Gorbachev outright capitulated). At the same time, it also understood that maintaining its military defenses was important because of the threat of a nuclear war from the United States, which would be much more catastrophic than the Nazis’ military assaults against the Soviet Union since Hitler did not have a nuclear arsenal. This was part of a feat that U.S. imperialism was able to accomplish that ultimately overshadowed British, French, German, and Japanese imperialism, which Brzezinski reveals in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives: an unparalleled military establishment that, by far, had the most effective global reach which allowed the U.S. to “project forces over long distances”, helping it to assert its global domination and impose its “political will”. And what makes the American Empire distinct from the Japanese Empire, British Empire, and other European empires is that one of the bases for its ideology is the socially constructed international hierarchy of nations, and not races as was the case with the other aforementioned empires. This constructed international hierarchy of nations is more effective because it means not only greater expansionism, but also the greater ability to exercise global primacy and supremacy. More specific to Central Asia and the Middle East, the Wahhabist and Salafist groups propped up by the CIA were always intended to nurture sectarianism and discord in order to counter a mass, broad-based united front of nations against imperialism — an example of divide-and-conquer, which is an age-old tradition of empire, except this time with Neoliberal characteristics.

Therefore, the Mujahideen against Afghanistan should not be thought of simply as “the Afghan trap”, but rather as the U.S. subjugation and plundering of West and Central Asia and an important milestone (albeit a cynical one) in shaping its foreign policy with regards to the region for many years to come. If one thing has remained a constant in U.S. foreign policy towards West and Central Asia, it is its strategic partnership with the oil autocracy of Saudi Arabia, which acts as the United States’ steward in safeguarding the profits of American petroleum corporations and actively assists Western powers in crushing secular Arab and Central Asian nationalist resistance against imperialism. The Saudi monarchy would again be called on by the U.S. government in 2011 in Syria to assist in the repeated formula of funding and arming so-called “moderate rebels” in the efforts to destabilize the country. Once again, the ultimate goal in this more recent imperial venture is to contain Russia.

Cold War 2.0? American Supremacy marches on

The present-day anti-Russia hysteria is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet propaganda of the Cold War era; while anti-communism is not the central theme today, one thing remains the same: the fact that the U.S. Empire is (once again) facing a formidable challenge to its position in the world. After the Yeltsin years were over, and under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economy eventually recovered and moved towards a more dirigiste economy; and on top of that, it moved away from the NATO fold, which triggered the old antagonistic relationship with the United States. Russia has also decided to follow the global trend of taking the step towards reducing reliance on the U.S. dollar, which is no doubt a source of annoyance to the U.S. capitalist class. It seems that a third world war in the near future is becoming more likely as the U.S. inches closer to a direct military confrontation against Russia and, more recently, China. History does appear to be repeating itself. When the government of Bashar al Assad called on Moscow for assistance in fighting against the NATO-backed terrorists, it certainly was reminiscent of when the PDPA had done the same many years before. Thus far, the Syrian Arab Republic has continued to withstand the destabilization efforts carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups and Kurdish militias at the behest of the United States, and has not collapsed as Libya, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan did.

But what often gets overlooked is the repeated Brzezinskist formula of funding highly reactionary forces and promoting them as “revolutionaries” to Western audiences in order to fight governments that defy the global dictatorship of the United States and refuse to allow the West to exploit their natural resources and labour power. As Karl Marx once said, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” Such a phenomenon is no accident or a mere mistake. The geopolitical instability that followed after the overthrow of the PDPA ensures that no sound, united, and formidable opposition against U.S. imperialism will emerge for an indefinite number of years; and it seems that Libya, where the Brzezinskist-style of regime change also saw success and which is now a hotbed for the slave trade, is on the same path as Afghanistan. This is all a part of what Lenin calls moribund capitalism when he discussed the economic essence of imperialism; and by that, he meant that imperialism carries the contradictions of capitalism to the extreme limit. American global monopoly had grown out of U.S. foreign policy, and it should go without saying that the American Empire cannot tolerate losing its Dollar Supremacy, especially when the global rate of profit is falling. And if too many nations reject U.S. efforts to infiltrate their markets and force foreign finance capital exports onto their economies in order to gain a monopoly over the resources, as well as to exploit the labour of their working people, it would surely spell a sharp decline in American Dollar hegemony. The fact that the United States was willing to go as far as to back mercenaries to attack the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and fight the Soviet Union, as well as to spend billions of dollars on a highly elaborate but effective propaganda campaign, shows a sign of desperation of the American Empire in maintaining its global hegemony.

Since the end of World War II the United States has been, and is by and large still, the overwhelming world-dominating power. It is true that the American Empire is in decline, in light of increasing trends towards “de-Dollarization,” as well as the rise of China and Russia which pose as challenges to U.S. interests. Naturally, Washington will desperately try to cling on to its number one position in the world by accelerating the growth of its global monopolies — whether it is through placing wholly unnecessary tariffs against competitors such as China, or threatening to completely cut Venezuelan and Iranian oil out of the global market — even if it means an increasing drive towards World War III. The current global economic order which Washington elites have been instrumental in shaping over the past several decades reflects the interests of the global capitalist class to such an extent that the working class is threatened with yet another world war despite the unimaginable carnage witnessed during the first two.

When we look back at these historical events to help make sense of the present, we see how powerful mass media can be and how it is used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy to manipulate and control public opinion. Foreign policy is about the economic relationships between countries. Key to understanding how U.S. imperialism functions is in its foreign policy and how it carries it out — which adds up to plundering from relatively small or poorer nations more than a share of wealth and resources that can be normally produced in common commercial exchanges, forcing them to be indebted; and if any of them resist, then they will almost certainly be subjected to military threats.

With the great wealth that allowed it to build a military that can “project forces over long distances,” the United States is in a unique position in history, to say the least. However, as we have seen above, the now four decade-long war on Afghanistan was not only fought on a military front considering the psy-ops and the propaganda involved. If anything, the Soviet Union lost on the propaganda front in the end.

From Afghanistan we learn not only of the origins of Al Qaeda, to which the boom in the opioid-addiction epidemic has ties, or why today we have the phenomenon of an anti-Russia Western “left” that parrots imperialist propaganda and seems very eager to see that piece of Cold War history repeat itself in Syria. We also learn that we cannot de-link the events of the 2001 direct U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and what followed from those of 1979; Afghanistan’s colonial-feudal past, its break from that with the 1978 Saur Revolution, and the U.S.-led Mujahideen are all as much of a part of its history (and the Greater Middle East, by extension) as the events of 2001. It cannot be stressed enough that it is those historical conditions, particularly as they relate to U.S. foreign policy, that helped to shape the ongoing conflict today.

Obviously, we cannot undo the past. It is not in the interests of the working class anywhere, in the Global South or in the Global North, to see a third world war happen, as such a war would have catastrophic consequences for everyone — in fact, it could potentially destroy all of humanity. Building a new and revitalized anti-war movement in the imperialist nations is a given, but it also requires a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. Without historical context, Western mass media will continue to go unchallenged, weaning audiences on a steady diet of “moderate rebels” propaganda and effectively silencing the victims of imperialism. It is necessary to unite workers across the whole world according to their shared interests in order to effectively fight and defeat imperialism and to establish a just, egalitarian, and sustainable world under socialism. Teaching the working class everywhere the real history of such conflicts as the one in Afghanistan is an important part of developing the revolutionary consciousness necessary to build a strong global revolutionary movement against imperialism.

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Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velina is a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org and LLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

Afghanistan, the Forgotten Proxy War

Part I

July 3, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of when the United States’ first military assault against Afghanistan with the CIA-backed Mujahideen began. It would be a mistake to treat the present-day conflict as being separate from the U.S. intervention that began in 1979 against the then-government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not always known as the chaotic, ‘failed state’ overrun by warlords as it is now; this phenomenon is a product of that U.S.-led regime change operation. The article below, originally published on March 30, 2019, summarizes and analyzes the events that transpired during and after the Cold War years as they relate to this often misunderstood, if not overlooked, aspect of the long war against Afghanistan. 

When it comes to war-torn Afghanistan and the role played by the United States and its NATO allies, what comes first to mind for most is the ‘War on Terror’ campaign launched in 2001 by George W. Bush almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks. And understandably so, considering that the United States and its allies established a direct “boots-on-the-ground” military presence in the country that year. Not only that, but during the Bush-Cheney years, there was an aggressive propaganda campaign being played out across U.S. media outlets which used women’s rights as one of the pretexts for the continued occupation. The irony of this, however, is not lost on those who understand that the conflict in Afghanistan has a long history which, much like Syria, stretches as far back as the Cold War era — especially when it was the United States that provided support for the Mujahideen in destabilizing the country and stripping away the modernizing, progressive economic and social gains, including Afghan women’s emancipation, which the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) had fought for. With the overthrow of the independent Soviet-aligned PDPA government, the Taliban emerged as a powerful faction of the Mujahideen; the U.S. would develop a working relationship with the Taliban in 1995. The war was never truly about women’s rights or other humanitarian concerns, as Stephen Gowans explains:

“Further evidence of Washington’s supreme indifference to the rights of women abroad is evidenced by the role it played in undermining a progressive government in Afghanistan that sought to release women from the grip of traditional Islamic anti-women practices. In the 1980s, Kabul was “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs.” There were female members of parliament, and women drove cars, and travelled and went on dates, without needing to ask a male guardian for permission. That this is no longer true is largely due to a secret decision made in the summer of 1979 by then US president Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to draw “the Russians into the Afghan trap” and give “to the USSR its Vietnam War” by bankrolling and organizing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists to fight a new government in Kabul led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

The goal of the PDPA was to liberate Afghanistan from its backwardness. In the 1970s, only 12 percent of adults were literate. Life expectancy was 42 years and infant mortality the highest in the world. Half the population suffered from TB and one-quarter from malaria.”

Moreover, and contrary to the commonly held belief that the conflict in Afghanistan started in 2001, it would be more accurate to say that the war started in 1979. As a matter of fact, the Carter Administration’s 1979 decision to overthrow the PDPA and destabilize Afghanistan is at the root of why the country is in the state that it continues to be in today.

Afghan women during the PDPA era vs. Afghan women today.

The Cold War – a new phase in the age of imperialism

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’s military welcome their Soviet counterparts

The 1979 to 1989 period of the Mujahideen onslaught is often referred to as the ‘Soviet-Afghan War’ because of the Soviet army’s heavy involvement. Although it is true that they were heavily involved, it is not an entirely accurate descriptor because it completely ignores the fact that it was a war that was actually crafted, instigated, and led by the United States. In what was also known then as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the years from 1978 to 1992 are inextricably linked with Soviet history — but not because it was a Soviet “invasion” of Afghanistan and that the West had to intervene to stop it, as U.S. imperialist propaganda would have us believe. The Carter administration had already begun the planning, recruitment, and training for the Mujahideen in 1978 and had launched the attack on Afghanistan months before the Soviet army militarily intervened near the end of 1979. Also, the “Afghan trap” alone did not cause the dismantling of the Soviet Union; however, it was related. But more on that when we look at the Gorbachev years. Nevertheless, the destruction of Afghanistan was declared as a final blow to the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution was celebrated as “the victory of capitalism over communism” by the United States. To begin to understand the conflict in Afghanistan, it is important to examine the context in which it began: the Cold War.

In the early 1900s, Vladimir Lenin observed that capitalism had entered into its globalist phase and that the age of imperialism had begun; this means that capitalism must expand beyond national borders, and that there is an internal logic to Empire-building and imperialist wars of aggression. Lenin defines imperialism as such:

“the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.”

It should be clear that imperialism is not just merely the imposition of a country’s will on the rest of the world (although that is certainly a part of it). More precisely: it is a result of capital accumulation and is a process of empire-building and maintenance, which comes with holding back development worldwide and keeping the global masses impoverished; it is the international exercise of domination guided by economic interests. Thus, imperialism is less of a cultural phenomenon, and more so an economic one.

Lenin also theorized that imperialism and the cycle of World Wars were the products of competing national capitals between the advanced nations. As he wrote in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, World War I was about the competition between major imperialist powers — such as the competing capitals of Great Britain and Germany — over the control of and the split of plunder from colonies. Thus, finance capital was the driving force behind the exploitation and colonization of the oppressed nations; these antagonisms would eventually lead to a series of world wars as Lenin had predicted. During the First World War, the goals of the two imperial blocs of power were the acquisition, preservation, and expansion of territories considered to be strategic points and of great importance to their national economies. And during the Great Depression, protectionist measures were taken up by Britain, the United States, and France to restrict the emerging industrial nations — Germany, Italy, and Japan, also known as the Axis states — from access to more colonies and territories, thereby restricting them from access to raw materials and markets in the lead up to World War II. In particular, the two advanced capitalist industrialized powers of Germany and Japan, in their efforts to conquer new territory, threatened the economic space of Britain, the U.S., and France and threatened to take their territories, colonies, and semi-colonies by force — with Germany launching a series of aggressions in most of Europe, and Japan in Asia. WWII was, in many ways, a re-ignition of the inter-imperialist rivalry between the Anglo-French bloc and the German bloc, but with modern artillery and the significant use of aerial assaults. It was also a period of the second stage of the crisis of capitalism which saw the rise of Fascism as a reaction to Communism, with the Axis states threatening to establish a world-dominating fascist regime. For the time being, WWII would be the last we would see of world wars.

At the end of WWII, two rival global powers emerged: the United States and the Soviet Union; the Cold War was a manifestation of their ideological conflict. The Cold War era was a new phase for international capital as it saw the advent of nuclear weapons and the beginning stages of proxy warfare. It was a time when the imperialist nations, regardless of which side they were on during WWII, found a common interest in stopping the spread of Communism and seeking the destruction of the Soviet Union. By extension, these anti-communist attacks would be aimed at the Soviet-allied nations as well. This would increase the number of client states with puppet governments acting in accordance with U.S. interests who would join the NATO bloc with the ultimate aim of isolating the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that the end of WWII marked the end of competing national capitals such that now, financial capital exists globally and can move instantaneously, with Washington being the world dominating force that holds a monopoly over the global markets. Those countries who have actively resisted against the U.S. Empire and have not accepted U.S. capital into their countries are threatened with sanctions and military intervention — such as the independent sovereign nations of Syria and North Korea who are, to this day, still challenging U.S. hegemony. Afghanistan under the PDPA was one such country which stood up to U.S. imperialism and thus became a target for regime change.

In addition to implementing land reforms, women’s rights, and egalitarian and collectivist economic policies, the PDPA sought to put an end to opium poppy cultivation. The British Empire planted the first opium poppy fields in Afghanistan during the 1800s when the country was still under the feudal landholding system; up until the king was deposed in 1973, the opium trade was a lucrative business and the Afghan poppy fields produced more than 70 percent of opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. These reforms in 1978 would eventually attract opposition from the United States, which had already embarked on its anti-communist crusade, providing backing to reactionary forces dedicated to fighting against various post-colonial progressive governments, many of which were a part of the ‘Soviet Bloc’ — such as the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua who mounted violent opposition to the Sandinista government. Despite having gained independence on its own merits, Afghanistan under the PDPA — much like other Soviet-allied, postcolonial successes such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Libya, and North Korea — was seen as a “Soviet satellite” that needed to be brought back under colonial domination, and whose commodities needed to be put under the exclusive control and possession of the United States. Not only that, but it was considered a strategic point of interest that could be used to enclose upon the Soviet Union.

In order to undermine the then-newly formed and popular PDPA government, the Carter administration and the CIA began the imperialist intervention by providing training, financial support, and weapons to Sunni extremists (the Mujahideen) who started committing acts of terrorism against schools and teachers in rural areas. With the assistance of the Saudi and Pakistani militaries, the CIA gathered together ousted feudal landlords, reactionary tribal chiefs, sectarian Sunni clerics, and cartel drug lords to form a coalition to destabilize Afghanistan. On September 1979, Noor Mohammed Taraki — the first PDPA leader and President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan — was assassinated during the events of the CIA-backed coup, which was quickly stopped by the Afghan army. However, by late 1979, the PDPA was becoming overwhelmed by the large-scale military intervention by U.S. proxy forces — a combination of foreign mercenaries and Afghan Ancien Régime-sympathizers — and so they decided to make a request to the USSR to deploy a contingent of troops for assistance. The Soviet intervention provided some much-needed relief for the PDPA forces — if only for the next ten years, for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “upped the ante” by pouring about $40 billion into the war and recruiting and arming around 100,000 more foreign mercenaries. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev would call on the Soviet troops to be withdrawn, and the PDPA was eventually defeated with the fall of Kabul in April 1992. Chaos ensued as the Mujahideen fell into infighting with the formation of rival factions competing for territorial space and also wreaking havoc across cities, looting, terrorizing civilians, hosting mass executions in football stadiums, ethnically-cleansing non-Pashtun minorities, and committing mass rapes against Afghan women and girls. Soon afterwards in 1995, one of the warring factions, the Taliban, consolidated power with backing from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. On September 28, 1996 the last PDPA Presidential leader, Mohammad Najibullah, was abducted from his local UN compound (where he had been granted sanctuary), tortured, and brutally murdered by Taliban soldiers; they strung his mutilated body from a light pole for public display.

A renewed opium trade, and the economic roots of Empire-building

U.S. troops guarding an opium poppy field in Afghanistan.

After the fall of Kabul in 1992, but some time before the Taliban came to power, the reactionary tribal chiefs had taken over the Afghan countryside and ordered farmers to begin planting opium poppy, which had been outlawed by the Taraki government. Prior to that, the Pakistani ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) set up hundreds of heroin laboratories at the behest of the CIA so that by 1981, the Pakistani-Afghan border became the largest producer of heroin in the world. Alfred McCoy confirms in his study, “Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade”:

“Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin.”

It is apparent that by putting an end to the cultivation of opium poppy, in addition to using the country’s resources to modernize and uplift its own population, the independent nationalist government of the PDPA was seen as a threat to U.S. interests that needed to be eliminated. A major objective of the U.S.-led Mujahideen — or any kind of U.S. military-led action for that matter — against Afghanistan had always been to restore and secure the opium trade. After all, it was during the 1970s that drug trafficking served as the CIA’s primary source of funding for paramilitary forces against anti-imperialist governments and liberation movements in the Global South, in addition to protecting U.S. assets abroad. Also, the CIA’s international drug trafficking ties go as far back as 1949, which is the year when Washington’s long war on the Korean Peninsula began. The move by the PDPA to eradicate opium-poppy harvesting and put an end to the exploitation brought about by the drug cartels was seen as “going too far” by U.S. imperialists. A significantly large loss in opium production would mean a huge loss in profits for Wall Street and major international banks, which have a vested interest in the drug trade. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that money-laundering made up 2-5% of the world economy’s GDP and that a large percentage of the annual money-laundering, which was worth 590 billion to 1.5 trillion dollars, had direct links to the drug trade. The profits generated from the drug trade are often placed in American-British-controlled offshore banks.

The rationale behind the PDPA’s campaign to eradicate the opium poppy harvest was based not only on practical health reasons, but also on the role played by narcotics in the history of colonialism in Asia. Historically, cartel drug lords enabled imperialist nations, served bourgeois interests, and used cheap exploited slave labour. Oftentimes, the peasants who toiled in these poppy fields would find themselves becoming addicted to heroin in addition to being, quite literally, worked to death. Cartels are understood to be monopolistic alliances in which partners agree on the conditions of sale and terms of payment and divide the markets amongst themselves by fixing the prices and the quantity of goods to be produced. Now, concerning the role of cartels in ‘late-stage capitalism’, Lenin wrote:

“Monopolist capitalist associations, cartels, syndicates and trusts first divided the home market among themselves and obtained more or less complete possession of the industry of their own country. But under capitalism the home market is inevitably bound up with the foreign market. Capitalism long ago created a world market. As the export of capital increased, and as the foreign and colonial connections and “spheres of influence” of the big monopolist associations expanded in all ways, things “naturally” gravitated towards an international agreement among these associations, and towards the formation of international cartels.

This is a new stage of world concentration of capital and production, incomparably higher than the preceding stages.”

International cartels, especially drug cartels, are symptoms of how capital has expanded globally and has adapted to create a global wealth divide based on the territorial division of the world, the scramble for colonies, and “the struggle for spheres of influence.” More specifically, international cartels serve as stewards for the imperialist nations in the plundering of the oppressed or colonized nations. Hence the mass campaigns to help end addictions and to crack down on drug traffickers which were not only implemented in Afghanistan under the PDPA, but in Revolutionary China in 1949 and by other anti-imperialist movements as well. Of course, the opium traffickers and their organized crime associates in Afghanistan saw the campaign against opium poppy cultivation, among other progressive reforms, as an affront; this made them ideal recruits for the Mujahideen.

But why the “breakdown” in the relationship between the U.S. and the Taliban from the early 2000s and onwards? Keep in mind that, again, the members of the Taliban were amongst the various factions that made up the Mujahideen whose partnership with the United States extends as far back as the late 1970s; and it was clear that the U.S. was aware that it was working with Islamic fundamentalists. The human rights abuses committed by the Taliban while in power were well-documented before their relations with the U.S. soured by the year 2000. What made these relations turn sour was the fact that the Taliban had decided to drastically reduce the opium poppy cultivation. This led to the direct U.S. military intervention of 2001 in Afghanistan and the subsequent overthrow of the Taliban; the U.S. used the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a pretext even if there was no proof that the Taliban had a hand in them or had been in contact with Osama bin Laden at all during that time. The U.S. would soon replace the Taliban with another faction of the Mujahideen that was more compliant with the rules that the imperialists had set out. In other words, the Taliban were ousted not necessarily because they posed a significant challenge to U.S. hegemony as the PDPA had, or because of their treatment of women — nor were they hiding Osama bin Laden; it was because they had become more of liabilities than assets. It is yet another case of the Empire discarding its puppets when they have outlived their usefulness due to incompetence and being unable to “follow the rules properly” — not unlike the U.S. removal of military dictator Manuel Noriega who was staunchly pro-American and who, in collaboration with fellow CIA asset and notorious cartel drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, previously sold drugs for the CIA to help finance the anti-communist campaign in Central America.

George W. Bush visits Hamid Karzai, who participated in the Mujahideen in the past and led the puppet government that replaced the Taliban.

By 2002, and as a result of the 2001 intervention, the lucrative opium poppy production had seen a huge boom once again. In 2014, Afghanistan’s opium poppy production made up 90% of the world’s heroin supply, leading to a decrease in opium prices. And according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the opium production in Afghanistan increased by 43% to 4,800 metric tons in 2016.

Although the United States has always been one of the top producers of oil in the world, another reason for establishing a permanent U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was to gain control over its vast untapped oil reserves, which the U.S. had known about prior to 9/11. Oil is yet another lucrative commodity, and ensuring that Afghanistan had a compliant government that would acquiesce to its demands was important for the U.S. in this aspect as well. Naturally, the nationalist government of the PDPA was also seen as a threat to the profit-making interests of U.S. oil companies, and any nation that was an independent oil producer (or merely a potential independent oil producer, in Afghanistan’s case) was seen as an annoying competitor by the United States. However, Afghanistan would not begin its first commercial oil production until 2013, partly because of the ongoing geopolitical instability, but also because opium production continues to dominate the economy. Plus, it is likely that neither the monarchy nor the PDPA realized that there existed such vast untapped oil reserves since there were very limited volumes of oil (compared to the higher volumes of natural gas) being produced from 1957 to 1989, and which stopped as soon as the Soviet troops left. Later, reassessments were made during the 1990s; hence the U.S. ‘discovery’ of the untapped petroleum potential. But, when intensive negotiations between U.S.-based oil company Unocal and the Taliban went unresolved in 1998 due to a dispute over a pipeline deal that the latter wanted to strike with a competing Argentine company, it would lead to growing tensions between the U.S. and the Taliban. The reason for the dispute was that Unocal wanted to have primary control over the pipeline located between Afghanistan and Pakistan that crossed into the Indian Ocean. From this point on, the U.S. was starting to see the Taliban as a liability in its prerogative of establishing political and economic dominance over Central and West Asia.

In either case, oil and other “strategic” raw materials such as opium are essential for the U.S. to maintain its global monopolistic power. It is here that we see a manifestation of the economic roots of empire-building.

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Continued in Part 2.

Originally published by LLCO.org on March 30, 2019. For the full-length article and bibliography, click here.

Janelle Velinais a Toronto-based political analyst, writer, and an editor and frequent contributor for New-Power.org andLLCO.org. She also has a blog at geopoliticaloutlook.blogspot.com.

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Brzezinski visits Osama bin Laden and other Mujahideen fighters during training.

US Global Power: The Trump Period, The End of Unipolarity

Global Research, May 02, 2019

Introduction

US global power in the Trump period reflects the continuities and changes which are unfolding rapidly and deeply throughout the world and which are affecting the position of Washington.

Assessing the dynamics of US global power is a complex problem which requires examining multiple dimensions.

We will proceed by:

  • Conceptualizing the principles which dictate empire building, specifically the power bases and the dynamic changes in relations and structures which shape the present and future position of the US.
  • Identifying the spheres of influence and power and their growth and decline.
  • Examining the regionsof conflict and contestation.
  • The major and secondary rivalries.
  • The stable and shifting relationsbetween existing and rising power centers.
  • The internal dynamics shaping the relative strength of competing centers of global power.
  • The instability of the regimes and states seeking to retain and expand global power.

Conceptualization of Global Power

US global power is built on several significant facts.  These include:  the US victory in World War II, its subsequent advanced economy and dominant military position throughout five continents.

The US advanced its dominance through a series of alliances in Europe via NATO; Asia via its hegemonic relationship with Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Taiwan as well as Australia and New Zealand in Oceana; Latin America via traditional client regimes; Africa via neo-colonial rulers imposed following independence.

US global power was built around encircling the USSR and China, undermining their economies and defeating their allies militarily via regional wars.

Post WWII global economic and military superiority created subordinated allies and established US global power, but it created the bases for gradual shifts in relations of dominance.

US global power was formidable but subject to economic and military changes over time and in space.

US Spheres of Power:  Then and Now

US global power exploited opportunities but also suffered military setbacks early on, particularly in Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. The US spheres of power were clearly in place in Western Europe and Latin America but was contested in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The most significant advance of US global power took place with the demise and disintegration of the USSR, the client states in Eastern Europe, as well as the transformation of China and Indo-China to capitalism during the 1980’s.

US ideologues declared the coming of a unipolar empire free of restraints and challenges to its global and regional power. The US turned to conquering peripheral adversaries.  Washington destroyed Yugoslavia and then Iraq – fragmenting them into mini-states. Wall Street promoted a multitude of multi-national corporations to invade China and Indo-China who reaped billions of profits exploiting cheap labor.

The believers of the enduring rule of US global power envisioned a century of US imperial rule.

In reality this was a short-sighted vision of a brief interlude.

The End of Unipolarity: New Rivalries and Global and Regional Centers of Power: An Overview

US global power led Washington into  ‘overreach’, in several crucial areas:  it launched a series of costly prolonged wars, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had three negative consequences:  the destruction of the Iraq armed forces and economy led to the rise of the Islamic State which overtook most of the country; the occupation in Afghanistan which led to the emergence of the Taliban and an ongoing twenty year war which cost hundreds of billions of dollars and several thousand wounded and dead US soldiers; as a result the majority of the US public turned negative toward wars and empire building

The US pillage and dominance of Russia ended, when President Putin replaced Yeltsin’s vassal state.  Russia rebuilt its industry, science, technology and military power.  Russia’s population recovered its living standards.

With Russian independence and advanced military weaponry, the US lost its unipolar  military power.  Nevertheless, Washington financed a coup which virtually annexed two thirds of the Ukraine.  The US incorporated the fragmented Yugoslavian ‘statelets’ into NATO.  Russia countered by annexing the Crimea and secured a mini-state adjacent Georgia.

China converted the economic invasion of US multi-national corporations into learning experiences for building its national economy and export platforms which contributed which led to its becoming an economic competitor and rival to the US.

US global empire building suffered important setbacks in Latin America resulting

from the  the so-called Washington Consensus.  The imposition of neo-liberal policies privatized and plundered their economies, impoverished the working and middle class, and provoked a series of popular uprising and the rise of radical social movements and center-left governments.

The US empire lost spheres of influence in some regions (China, Russia, Latin America, Middle East) though it retained influence among elites in contested regions and even launched new imperial wars in contested terrain.  Most notably the US attacked independent regimes in Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Sudan via armed proxies.

The change from a unipolar to a multi polar world and the gradual emergence of regional rivals led US global strategists to rethink their strategy.  The Trump regime’s aggressive policies set the stage for political division within the regime and among allies.

The Obama – Trump Convergence and Differences on Empire Building

By the second decade of the 21stcentury several new global power alignments emerged:  China had become the main economic competitor for world power and Russia was the major military challenger to US military supremacy at the regional level.  The US replaced the former European colonial empire in Africa.  Washington’s sphere of influence extended especially in North and Sub Sahara Africa:  Kenya, Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia.  Trump gained leverage in the Middle East namely in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Jordan.

Israel retained its peculiar role, converting the US as its sphere of influence.

But the US  faced regional rivals for sphere of influence in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Algeria.

In South Asia US faced competition for spheres of influence from China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Latin America sharp and abrupt shifts in spheres of influence were the norm.  US influence declined between 2000 – 2015 and recovered from 2015 to the  present.

Imperial Power Alignments Under President Trump

President Trump faced complex global, regional and local political and economic challenges.

Trump followed and deepened many of the policies launched by the Obama- Hillary Clinton policies with regard to other countries and regions . However Trump also radicalized and/or reversed policies of his predecessors. He combined flattery and aggression at the same time.

At no time did Trump recognize the limits of US global power.  Like the previous three presidents he persisted in the belief that the transitory period of a unipolar global empire could be re-imposed.

Toward Russia, a global competitor, Trump adopted a policy of ‘rollback’.  Trump imposed economic sanctions, with the strategic ‘hope’ that  by impoverishing Russia, degrading its financial and industrial sectors that he could force a regime change which would convert Moscow into a vassal state.

At the beginning of his Presidential campaign Trump flirted with the notion of a business accommodation with Putin. However, Trump’s ultra-belligerent appointments and domestic opposition soon turned him toward a highly militarized strategy, rejecting military – including nuclear – agreements, in favor of military escalation.

Toward China, Trump faced a dynamic and advancing technological competitor. Trump resorted to a ‘trade war’ that went far beyond ‘trade’ to encompass a war against Beijing’s economic structure and social relations.  The Trump regime-imposed sanctions and threatened a total boycott of Chinese exports.

Trump and his economic team demanded China privatize and denationalize its entire state backed industry.  They demanded the power to unilaterally decide when violations of US rules occurred and to be able to re-introduce sanctions without consultations.  Trump demanded all Chinese technological agreements, economic sectors and innovations were subject and open to US business interests.  In other words, Trump demanded the end of Chinese sovereignty and the reversal of the structural base for its global power.  The US was not interested in mere ‘trade’ – it wanted a return to imperial rule over a colonized China.

The Trump regime rejected negotiations and recognition of a shared power relation: it viewed its global rivals as potential clients.

Inevitably the Trump regime’s strategy would never reach any enduring agreements on any substantial issues under negotiations.  China has a successful strategy for global power built on a 6 trillion-dollar world-wide Road and Belt (R and B) development policy, which links 60 countries and several regions. R and B is building seaports, rail and air systems linking industries financed by development banks.

In contrast, the US banks exploits industry, speculates and operates within closed financial circuits.  The US spends trillions on wars, coups, sanctions and other parasitical activities which have nothing to do with economic competitiveness.

The Trump regime’s ‘allies’ in the Middle East namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are parasitic allies who buy protection and provoke costly wars.

Europe complains about China’s increase in industrial exports and overlook imports of consumer goods.  Yet the EU plans to resist Trump’s sanctions which lead to a blind alley of stagnation!

Conclusion

The most recent period of the  peak of US global power, the decade between 1989-99 contained the seeds of its decline and the current resort to trade wars, sanctions and nuclear threats.

The structure of US global power changed over the past seven decades.  The US global empire building began with the US command over the rebuilding of Western European economies and the displacement of England, France, Portugal and Belgium from Asia and Africa.

The Empire spread and penetrated  South America via US multi-national corporations. However, US empire building was not a linear process as witness  its unsuccessful confrontation with national liberation movements in Korea, Indo China, Southern Africa (Angola, Congo, etc.) and the Caribbean (Cuba).  By the early 1960’s the US had displaced its European rivals and successfully incorporated them as subordinate allies.

Washington’s main rivals for spheres of influence was Communist China and the USSR with their allies among client state and overseas revolutionaries.

The US empire builders’ successes led to the transformation of their Communist and nationalist rivals into emergent capitalist competitors.

In a word US dominance led to the construction of capitalist rivals, especially China and Russia.

Subsequently, following US military defeats and prolonged wars, regional powers proliferated in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Regional blocs competed with US clients for power.

The diversification of power centers led to new and costly wars.  Washington lost exclusive control of markets, resources and alliances.  Competition reduced the spheres of US power.

In the face of these constraints on US global power the Trump regime envisioned a strategy to  recover  US dominance – ignoring the limited capacity and structure of US political , economic and class relations.

China absorbed US technology and went on to create new advances without following each previous stage.

Russia’s recovered from its losses and sanctions  and secured alternative trade relations to counter the new challenges to the US global empire.  Trump’s regime launched a ‘permanent trade war’ without stable allies. Moreover, he failed  to undermine China’s global infrastructure network; Europe demanded and secured autonomy to enter into trade deals with China, Iran and Russia.

Trump has pressured many regional powers who have ignored his threats.

The US still remains a global power.  But unlike the past, the US lacks the industrial base to ‘make America strong’.  Industry is subordinated to finance; technological innovations are not linked to skilled labor  to increase productivity.

Trump relies on sanctions and they have failed to undermine regional influentials.  Sanctions may temporarily reduce access to US markets’ but we have observed that new trade partners take their place.

Trump has gained client regimes in Latin America, but the gains are precarious and subject to reversal.

Under the Trump regime, big business and bankers have increased prices in the stock market and even the rate of growth of the  GDP, but he confronts severe domestic political instability, and high levels of turmoil among the branches of government.  In pursuit of loyalty over competence, Trump’s appointments have led to the ascendancy of cabinet officials who seek to wield unilateral power which the US no longer possesses.

Elliot Abrams can massacre a quarter-million Central Americans with impunity, but he has failed to impose US power over Venezuela and Cuba.  Pompeo can threaten North Kore, Iran and China but these countries fortify alliances with US rivals and competitors.  Bolton can advance the interests of Israel but their conversations take place in a telephone booth – it lacks resonance with any major powers.

Trump has won a presidential election, he has secured concessions from some countries but he has alienated regional and diplomatic allies.  Trump claims he is making America strong, but he has undermined lucrative strategic multi-lateral trade agreements.

US ‘Global Power’ does not prosper with bully-tactics.  Projections of power alone, have failed – they require recognition of realistic economic limitations and the losses from regional wars.

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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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