America’s Own Color Revolution

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, June 17, 2020

Color Revolution is the term used to describe a series of remarkably effective CIA-led regime change operations using techniques developed by the RAND Corporation, “democracy” NGOs and other groups since the 1980’s. They were used in crude form to bring down the Polish communist regime in the late 1980s. From there the techniques were refined and used, along with heavy bribes, to topple the Gorbachev regime in the Soviet Union. For anyone who has studied those models closely, it is clear that the protests against police violence led by amorphous organizations with names like Black Lives Matter or Antifa are more than purely spontaneous moral outrage. Hundreds of thousands of young Americans are being used as a battering ram to not only topple a US President, but in the process, the very structures of the US Constitutional order.

If we step back from the immediate issue of videos showing a white Minneapolis policeman pressing his knee on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, and look at what has taken place across the nation since then, it is clear that certain organizations or groups were well-prepared to instrumentalize the horrific event for their own agenda.

The protests since May 25 have often begun peacefully only to be taken over by well-trained violent actors. Two organizations have appeared regularly in connection with the violent protests—Black Lives Matter and Antifa (USA). Videos show well-equipped protesters dressed uniformly in black and masked (not for coronavirus to be sure), vandalizing police cars, burning police stations, smashing store windows with pipes or baseball bats. Use of Twitter and other social media to coordinate “hit-and-run” swarming strikes of protest mobs is evident.

What has unfolded since the Minneapolis trigger event has been compared to the wave of primarily black ghetto protest riots in 1968. I lived through those events in 1968 and what is unfolding today is far different. It is better likened to the Yugoslav color revolution that toppled Milosevic in 2000.

Gene Sharp: Template for Regime Overthrow

In the year 2000 the US State Department, aided by its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and select CIA operatives, began secretly training a group of Belgrade university students led by a student group that was called Otpor! (Resistance!). The NED and its various offshoots was created in the 1980’s by CIA head Bill Casey as a covert CIA tool to overthrow specific regimes around the world under the cover of a human rights NGO. In fact, they get their money from Congress and from USAID.

In the Serb Otpor! destabilization of 2000, the NED and US Ambassador Richard Miles in Belgrade selected and trained a group of several dozen students, led by Srđa Popović, using the handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy, translated to Serbian, of the late Gene Sharp and his Albert Einstein Institution. In a post mortem on the Serb events, the Washington Post wrote, “US-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. US taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by student activists to scrawl anti-Milošević graffiti on walls across Serbia.”

Trained squads of activists were deployed in protests to take over city blocks with the aid of ‘intelligence helmet’ video screens that give them an instantaneous overview of their environment. Bands of youth converging on targeted intersections in constant dialogue on cell phones, would then overwhelm police. The US government spent some $41 million on the operation. Student groups were secretly trained in the Sharp handbook techniques of staging protests that mocked the authority of the ruling police, showing them to be clumsy and impotent against the youthful protesters. Professionals from the CIA and US State Department guided them behind the scenes.

The Color Revolution Otpor! model was refined and deployed in 2004 as the Ukraine Orange Revolution with logo and color theme scarves, and in 2003 in Georgia as the Rose Revolution. Later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the template to launch the Arab Spring. In all cases the NED was involved with other NGOs including the Soros Foundations.

After defeating Milosevic, Popovic went on to establish a global color revolution training center, CANVAS, a kind of for-profit business consultancy for revolution, and was personally present in New York working reportedly with Antifa during the Occupy Wall Street where also Soros money was reported.

Antifa and BLM

The protests, riots, violent and non-violent actions sweeping across the United States since May 25, including an assault on the gates of the White House, begin to make sense when we understand the CIA’s Color Revolution playbook.

The impact of the protests would not be possible were it not for a network of local and state political officials inside the Democratic Party lending support to the protesters, even to the point the Democrat Mayor of Seattle ordered police to abandon several blocks in the heart of downtown to occupation by protesters.

In recent years major portions of the Democratic Party across the US have been quietly taken over by what one could call radical left candidates. Often they win with active backing of organizations such as Democratic Socialists of America or Freedom Road Socialist Organizations. In the US House of Representatives the vocal quarter of new representatives around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib and Minneapolis Representative Ilhan Omar are all members or close to Democratic Socialists of America. Clearly without sympathetic Democrat local officials in key cities, the street protests of organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa would not have such a dramatic impact.

To get a better grasp how serious the present protest movement is we should look at who has been pouring millions into BLM. The Antifa is more difficult owing to its explicit anonymous organization form. However, their online Handbook openly recommends that local Antifa “cells” join up with BLM chapters.

FRSO: Follow the Money

BLM began in 2013 when three activist friends created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to protest the allegations of shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin by a white Hispanic block watchman, George Zimmermann. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi were all were connected with and financed by front groups tied to something called Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one of the four largest radical left organizations in the United States formed out of something called New Communist Movement that dissolved in the 1980s.

On June 12, 2020 the Freedom Road Socialist Organization webpage states, “The time is now to join a revolutionary organization! Join Freedom Road Socialist Organization…If you have been out in the streets this past few weeks, the odds are good that you’ve been thinking about the difference between the kind of change this system has to offer, and the kind of change this country needs. Capitalism is a failed system that thrives on exploitation, inequality and oppression. The reactionary and racist Trump administration has made the pandemic worse. The unfolding economic crisis we are experiencing is the worst since the 1930s. Monopoly capitalism is a dying system and we need to help finish it off. And that is exactly what Freedom Road Socialist Organization is working for.”

In short the protests over the alleged police killing of a black man in Minnesota are now being used to call for a revolution against capitalism. FRSO is an umbrella for dozens of amorphous groups including Black Lives Matter or BLM. What is interesting about the self-described Marxist-Leninist roots of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) is not so much their left politics as much as their very establishment funding by a group of well-endowed tax-exempt foundations.

Alicia Garza of BLM is also a board member or executive of five different Freedom Road front groups including 2011 Board chair of Right to the City Alliance, Board member of School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), Forward Together and Special Projects director of National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The Right to the City Alliance got $6.5 million between 2011 and 2014 from a number of very established tax-exempt foundations including the Ford Foundation ($1.9 million), from both of George Soros’s major tax-exempts–Open Society Foundations, and the Foundation to Promote Open Society for $1.3 million. Also the cornflake-tied Kellogg Foundation $250,000, and curiously, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation (ice cream) for $30,000.

Garza also got major foundation money as Executive Director of the FRSO front, POWER, where Obama former “green jobs czar” Van Jones, a self-described “communist” and “rowdy black nationalist,” now with CNN, was on the board. Alicia Garza also chaired the Right to the City Alliance, a network of activist groups opposing urban gentrification. That front since 2009 received $1.3 million from the Ford Foundation, as well as $600,000 from the Soros foundations and again, Ben & Jerry’s ($50,000). And Garza’s SOUL, which claimed to have trained 712 “organizers” in 2014, when she co-founded Black Lives Matter, got $210,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation and another $255,000 from the Heinz Foundation (ketchup and John Kerry family) among others. With the Forward Together of FRSO, Garza sat on the board of a “multi-racial organization that works with community leaders and organizations to transform culture and policy to catalyze social change.” It officially got $4 million in 2014 revenues and from 2012 and 2014, the organization received a total of $2.9 million from Ford Foundation ($655,000) and other major foundations.

Nigeria-born BLM co-founder Opal Tometi likewise comes from the network of FRSO. Tometi headed the FRSO’s Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Curiously with a “staff” of two it got money from major foundations including the Kellogg Foundation for $75,000 and Soros foundations for $100,000, and, again, Ben & Jerry’s ($10,000). Tometi got $60,000 in 2014 to direct the group.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization that is now openly calling for a revolution against capitalism in the wake of the Floyd George killing has another arm, The Advancement Project, which describes itself as “a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization.” Its board includes a former Obama US Department of Education Director of Community Outreach and a former Bill Clinton Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The FRSO Advancement Project in 2013 got millions from major US tax-exempt foundations including Ford ($8.5 million), Kellogg ($3 million), Hewlett Foundation of HP defense industry founder ($2.5 million), Rockefeller Foundation ($2.5 million), and Soros foundations ($8.6 million).

Major Money and ActBlue

By 2016, the presidential election year where Hillary Clinton was challenging Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter had established itself as a well-organized network. That year the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), “a six-year pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition” in which BLM was a central part. By then Soros foundations had already given some $33 million in grants to the Black Lives Matter movement. This was serious foundation money.

The BLMF identified itself as being created by top foundations including in addition to the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundations. They described their role: “The BLMF provides grants, movement building resources, and technical assistance to organizations working advance the leadership and vision of young, Black, queer, feminists and immigrant leaders who are shaping and leading a national conversation about criminalization, policing and race in America.”

The Movement for Black Lives Coalition (M4BL) which includes Black Lives Matter, already in 2016 called for “defunding police departments, race-based reparations, voting rights for illegal immigrants, fossil-fuel divestment, an end to private education and charter schools, a universal basic income, and free college for blacks.”

Notably, when we click on the website of M4BL, under their donate button we learn that the donations will go to something called ActBlue Charities. ActBlue facilitates donations to “democrats and progressives.” As of May 21, ActBlue had given $119 million to the campaign of Joe Biden.

That was before the May 25 BLM worldwide protests. Now major corporations such as Apple, Disney, Nike and hundreds others may be pouring untold and unaccounted millions into ActBlue under the name of Black Lives Matter, funds that in fact can go to fund the election of a Democrat President Biden. Perhaps this is the real reason the Biden campaign has been so confident of support from black voters. What is clear from only this account of the crucial role of big money foundations behind protest groups such as Black lives Matter is that there is a far more complex agenda driving the protests now destabilizing cities across America. The role of tax-exempt foundations tied to the fortunes of the greatest industrial and financial companies such as Rockefeller, Ford, Kellogg, Hewlett and Soros says that there is a far deeper and far more sinister agenda to current disturbances than spontaneous outrage would suggest.

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F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from NEO

Don’t Hold Your Breath for ‘World War III’: World War IV Has Already Begun

February 27, 2020

A. B. Abrams on Today’s Great Power for The Saker Blog


“A. B. Abrams is the author of the book ‘Power and Primacy: A History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific.’ His second book covering the history of the United States’ conflict with North Korea is scheduled for publication in 2020.

He is proficient in Chinese, Korean and other East Asian languages, has published widely on defence and politics related subjects under various pseudonyms, and holds two related Masters degrees from the University of London.”


The world today finds itself in a period of renewed great power conflict, pitting the Western Bloc led by the United States against four ‘Great Power adversaries’ – as they are referred to by Western defence planners – namely China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. This conflict has over the past 15 years escalated to encompass the military, economic and information spheres with global consequences – and appears to be coming to a head as signs of peaking tensions appear in multiple fields from military deployments and arms races to harsh economic wars and a harsher still information war.

While the term ‘World War III’ has been common since the 1940s, referring to the possibility of a global great power war on a greater scale than the first and second world wars, the Cold War between the Western and Soviet Blocs was at its height as total, as global and as heated as the prior conflicts. As weapons technology has evolved, the viability of a direct shooting war has diminished considerably – forcing major powers to seek alternative means to engineer their adversaries’ capitulation and assert their own dominance. This has been reflected in how the Cold War, and the current phase of global conflict some refer to as ‘Cold War 2’ have been distinct from the first two world wars despite the final objectives of the parties involved sharing many similarities. I would thus suggest redefining what a ‘world war’ is and acknowledging that this current phase of global conflict is every part as intense as the great power ‘hot wars’ waged in the first half of the 20th century.

Had the intercontinental range ballistic missile and the miniaturised nuclear warhead been invented twenty years earlier, the Allied Powers may have needed to rely more heavily on economic and information warfare to contain and eventually neutralise Nazi Germany. The Second World War would have been very different in nature to reflect the technologies of the time. When viewed from this paradigm, the Cold War can be seen as a ‘Third World War’ – a total conflict more vast, comprehensive and international than its predecessors stretched out over more than 40 years. The current conflict, or ‘World War IV,’ is ongoing. An assessment of prior ‘great power wars,’ and the unique nature of the current conflict, can provide some valuable insight into how warfare is evolving and the likely determinants of its victors.

As of 2020 it is clear that great power conflict has become almost as heated as it can short of an all-out hot war – with the Western Bloc applying maximum pressure on the information, military and economic fronts to undermine not only smaller adversaries such as Venezuela and Syria and medium sized ones such as North Korea and Iran, but also China and Russia. When exactly this phase of conflict began – sometime after the Cold War’s end – remains uncertain.

The interval between the third and fourth ‘world wars’ was considerably longer than that between the second and the third. This was due to a number of factors – primarily that there was no immediate and obvious adversary for the victorious Western Bloc to target once the Soviet Union had been vanquished. Post-Soviet Russia was a shade of a shadow of its former self. Under the administration of Boris Yeltsin the country’s economy contracted an astonishing 45% in just five years from 1992 (1) leading to millions of deaths and a plummet in living standards. Over 500,000 women and young girls of the former USSR were trafficked to the West and the Middle East – often as sex slaves (2), drug addiction increased by 900 percent, the suicide rate doubled, HIV became a nationwide epidemic (3) corruption was rampant, and the country’s defence sector saw its major weapons programs critical to maintaining parity with the West delayed or terminated due to deep budget cuts (4). The possibility of a further partition of the state, as attested to multiple times by high level officials, was very real along the lines of the Yugoslav model (5).

Beyond Russia, China’s Communist Party in the Cold War’s aftermath went to considerable lengths to avoid tensions with the Western world – including a very cautious exercise of their veto power at the United Nations which facilitated Western led military action against Iraq (6). The country was integrating itself into the Western centred global economy and continuing to emphasis the peaceful nature of its economic rise and understate its growing strength. Western scholarship at the time continued to report with near certainty that internal change, a shift towards a Western style political system and the collapse of party rule was inevitable. The subsequent infiltration and westernisation was expected to neuter China as a challenger to Western primacy – as it has other Western client states across the world. China’s ability to wage a conventional war against even Taiwan was in serious doubt at the time, and though its military made considerable strides with the support of a growing defence budget and massive transfers of Soviet technologies from cash strapped successor states, it was very far from a near peer power.

North Korea did come under considerable military pressure for failing to follow what was widely referred to as the ‘tide of history’ in the West at the time – collapse and westernisation of the former Communist world. Widely portrayed in the early 1990s as ‘another Iraq’ (7), Western media initially appeared to be going to considerable lengths to prepare the public for a military campaign to end the Korean War and impose a new government north of the 38th parallel (8). Significant military assets were shifted to Northeast Asia specifically to target the country during the 1990s, and the Bill Clinton administration came close to launching military action on multiple occasions – most notably in June 1994. Ultimately a combination of resolve, a formidable missile deterrent, a limited but ambiguous nuclear capability, and perhaps most importantly Western certainty that the state would inevitably collapse on its own under sustained economic and military pressure, deferred military options at least temporarily.

The fourth of the states that the United States today considers a ‘greater power adversary,’ Iran too was going to considerable lengths to avoid antagonism with the Western Bloc in the 1990s – and appeared more preoccupied with security threats on its northern border from Taliban controlled Afghanistan. With a fraction of the military power neighbouring Iraq had previously held, the presence of an ‘Iranian threat’ provided a key pretext for a Western military presence in the Persian Gulf after the Soviets, the United Arab Republic and now Iraq had all been quashed. With the new government in Russia put under pressure to terminate plans to transfer advanced armaments to Iran (9), the country’s airspace was until the mid 2000s frequently penetrated by American aircraft, often for hours at a time, likely without the knowledge of the Iranians themselves. This combined with a meagre economic outlook made Iran seem a negligible threat.

While the Cold War ended some time between 1985 and 1991 – bringing the ‘third world war’ to a close – the range of dates at which one could state that the ‘fourth world war’ began and the West again devoted itself to great power conflict is much wider. Some would put the date in the Summer of 2006 – when Israel suffered the first military defeat in its history at the hands of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Using North Korean tunnel and bunker networks, command structures, weapons and training (10), and bolstered by Iranian funding and equipment, the shock of the militia’s victory, though underplayed in Western media, reverberated among informed circles across the world.

Others would place the date two years later in 2008 during the Beijing Summer Olympics, when Georgia with the full support of the West waged a brief war against Russia – and Moscow despite harsh warnings from Washington and European capitals refused to back down on its position. Post-Yeltsin Russia’s relations with the Western Bloc had appeared relatively friendly on the surface, with President George W. Bush observing in 2001 regarding President Vladimir Putin that he “was able to get a sense of his soul,” and predicting “the beginning of a very constructive relationship.” Nevertheless, signs of tension had begun to grow from Moscow’s opposition to the Iraq War at the UN Security Council to President Putin’s famous ‘Munich Speech’ in February 2007 – in which he sharply criticised American violations of international law and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations.”

It could also be questioned whether, in light of what we know about Western support for separatist insurgents in Russia itself during the 1990s, the war against the country ever ended – or whether hostilities would only cease with a more total capitulation and partition and with the presence of Western soldiers on Russian soil as per the Yugoslav precedent. As President Putin stated in 2014 regarding continuing Western hostilities against Russia in the 1990s: “The support of separatism in Russia from abroad, including the informational, political and financial, through intelligence services, was absolutely obvious. There is no doubt that they would have loved to see the Yugoslavia scenario of collapse and dismemberment for us with all the tragic consequences it would have for the peoples of Russia” (11). Regarding Western efforts to destabilise Russia during the 1990s, CIA National Council on Intelligence Deputy Director Graham E. Fuller, a key architect in the creation of the Mujahedeen to fight Afghanistan and later the USSR, stated regarding the CIA’s strategy in the Caucasus in the immediate post-Cold War years: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvellously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power” (12). The U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare’s director, Yossef Bodansky, himself also detailed the extent of the CIA’s strategy to destabilize Central Asia by using “Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiralling violence and terrorism” – primarily by encouraging Western aligned Muslim states to continue to provide support for militant groups (13).

Much like the Cold War before it, and to a lesser extent the Second World War, great powers slid into a new phase of conflict rather that it being declared in a single spontaneous moment. Did the Cold War begin with the Berlin Blockade, the Western firebombing of Korea or when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – which accelerated the move into a nuclear arms race. Equally, multiple dates were given for the opening of the Second World War – the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war two years prior, the Japanese Empire’s attack on Pearl Harbour and conquest of Southeast Asia which marked the first major expansion beyond Europe and North Africa in 1941, or some other date entirely. The slide into a new world war was if anything even slower than its predecessors.

The shift towards an increasingly intense great power conflict has been marked by a number of major incidents. In the European theatre one of the earliest was the Bush administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 and subsequent deployment of missile defences and expansion of NATO’s military presence in the former Soviet sphere of influence, which was widely perceived in Russia as an attempt to neutralise its nuclear deterrent and place the Western Bloc in a position to coerce Moscow militarily (14). This threatened to seriously upset the status quo of mutual vulnerability, and played a key role in sparking a major arms race under which Russia would develop multiple classes of hypersonic weapon. Their unveiling in 2018 would in turn lead the United States to prioritise funding to develop more capable interceptor missiles, a new generation of missile defences based on lasers, and hypersonic ballistic and cruise missiles of its own (15).

Another leading catalyst of the move towards great power confrontation was the Barak Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ initiative, under which the bulk of America’s military might and considerable assets from the rest of the Western world would be devoted to maintaining Western military primacy in the Western Pacific. This was paired with both economic and information warfare efforts, the latter which increasingly demonised China and North Korea across the region and beyond and actively sought to spread pro-Western and anti-government narratives among their populations through a wide range of sophisticated means (16). These programs were successors to those sponsored by Western intelligence agencies to ideologically disenchant the populations of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union with their own political systems and paint Western powers as benevolent and democratising saviours (17). Economic warfare also played a major role, with efforts centred around the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ trade deal – or ‘Economic NATO’ as several analysts referred to it – to isolate China from regional economies and ensure the region remained firmly in the Western sphere of influence (18). The military aspect of the Pivot to Asia would reawaken long dormant territorial disputes, and ultimately lead to high military tensions between the United States and China which in turn fuelled the beginning of an arms race. This arms race has more recently led to the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which paves the way for deployment of American long-range missiles across the Western Pacific – all with China and North Korea firmly in their crosshairs (19).

It is arguably in the Middle East, however, where the new phase of global conflict has seen its most direct clashes so far. The nine-year conflict in Syria, although far less destructive or brutal, provides ‘World War IV’ with something of an analogue to the Korean War in the Cold War. The conflict has united the Western Bloc and a wide range of allies, from Turkey and Israel to the Gulf States and even Japan (which funds the jihadist-linked White Helmets) (20), in an effort to overthrow an independent government with close and longstanding defence ties to Russia, North Korea, Iran and China. The conflict has seen North Korean, Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian special forces (21) among other assets deployed on the ground in support of Syrian counterinsurgency efforts, with all of these parties providing considerable material support (the Koreans have built and fully staffed at least three hospitals as part of large medical aid packages and continue to be a major supplier of arms and training) (22). China too, particularly concerned by the presence of jihadist militants of Chinese origin in Syria, has played some role in the conflict – the exact details of which remain uncertain with much reported but unconfirmed (23).

Syria’s insurgency involving a range of jihadist groups, at times united only by their intent to end the secular Syrian government, have received widespread support from the Western Bloc and their aforementioned allies. This has involved both material support, which according to State Secretary Hillary Clinton included turning a blind eye to Gulf countries’ considerable assistance to the Islamic State terror group (24), and active deployments of special forces from a wide range of countries, from Belgium and Saudi Arabia to Israel and the U.S. The U.S., European powers, Turkey and Israel have at times directly attacked Syrian units in the field – while Russian reports indicate that close Western coordination with jihadist groups has been used to facilitate a number of successful attacks on Russian positions (25). The conflict in Syria arguably represents a microcosm of the macrocosm which is a new world war – one which pits the Western Bloc and those which support the Western-led order, both directly and through local proxies, against three of its four ‘great power adversaries’ in the field.

‘World War IV’ is unlikely to come to an end for the foreseeable future, and its final outcome remains difficult to predict. Much like in the Cold War, the Western Bloc retains considerable advantages – today most notably in the field of information war which allows it to extensively shape perceptions of the vast majority of the world’s population. This has included the demonization of Western adversaries, the whitewashing of Western crimes both domestically and internationally, and portraying westernisation and increased Western influence as a solution to people’s frustrations from corruption to economic stagnation. This has been a key facilitator of the pro-Western protests engulfing states from Sudan and Algeria to Ukraine and Thailand. Economically too, only China among the Western Bloc’s major adversaries has posed a serious threat to Western primacy. Indeed, it remains highly questionable whether the other three could survive economically under Western pressure without Chinese trade and economic support.

Russia has made a considerable economic recovery since the 1990s, but remains a shadow of its former self in the Soviet era. The country’s leadership has succeeded in reforming the military, foreign ministry and intelligence services, but the economy, legal system and other parts of the state remain in serious need of improvement which, over 20 years after Yeltsin’s departure, cannot come soon enough. Even in the field of defence, the struggling economy has imposed serious limitations – and in fields such as aviation and armoured warfare the country is only beginning to slowly go beyond modernising Soviet era weapons designs and begin developing new 21st century systems (26). On the positive side, the country does remain a leader in many high end technologies mostly pertaining to the military and to space exploration, while Western economic sanctions have undermined the positions of Europhiles both among the elite and within the government and boosted many sectors of domestic production to substitute Western products (27).

In the majority of fields, the ‘Eastern Bloc’ have been pressed onto the defensive and forced to prevent losses rather than make actual gains. While preserving Venezuelan sovereignty, denying Crimea to NATO and preventing Syria’s fall have been major victories – they are successes in denying the West further expansion of its own sphere of influence rather than reversing prior Western gains or threatening key sources of Western power. Pursuing regime change in Venezuela and Ukraine and starting wars in the Donbasss and in Syria have cost the Western Bloc relatively little – the Ukrainians and client states in the Gulf and Turkey have paid the brunt of costs for the war efforts. Material equipment used by Western backed forces in both wars, ironically, has largely consisted of Warsaw Pact weaponry built to resist Western expansionism – which after the Cold War fell into NATO hands and is now being channelled to Western proxies. Libyan weaponry, too, was transferred to Western backed militants in Syria in considerable quantities after the country’s fall in 2011 – again minimising the costs to the Western Bloc of sponsoring the jihadist insurgency (28). The damage done and costs incurred by the Syrians, Hezbollah, Russia and others are thus far greater than those incurred by the Western powers to cause destruction and begin conflicts.

Syria has been devastated, suffering from issues from a return of polio to depleted uranium contamination from Western airstrikes and a new generation who have grown up in territories under jihadist control with little formal education. The war is a victory only in that the West failed to remove the government in Damascus from power – but Western gains from starting and fuelling the conflict have still far outweighed their losses. In the meantime, through a successful campaign centred around information warfare, the Western sphere of influence has only grown – with further expansion of NATO and the overthrow of governments in resource rich states friendly to Russia and China such as Libya, Sudan and Bolivia. Commandeering the government of poor but strategically located Ukraine was also a major gain, with states such as Algeria and Kazakhstan looking to be next in the Western Bloc’s crosshairs. Thus while Syria was saved, though only in part, much more was simultaneously lost. The damage done to Hong Kong by pro-Western militants, ‘thugs for democracy’ as the locals have taken to calling them, who have recently turned to bombing hospitals and burning down medical facilities (29), is similarly far greater than the costs to the Western powers of nurturing such an insurgency. Similar offensives to topple those which remain outside the Western sphere of influence from within continue to place pressure on Russian and Chinese aligned governments and on neutral states seen not to be sufficiently pro-Western.

While the Western Bloc appears to be in a position of considerable strength, largely by virtue of its dominance of information space, which has allowed it to remain on the offensive, a sudden turning point in which its power suddenly diminishes could be in sight. From teen drug abuse (30) to staggering debt levels (31) and the deterioration of party politics and popular media, to name but a few of many examples, the West appears at far greater risk today of collapse from within than it did during the Cold War. A notable sign of this is the resurgence of both far right and far left anti-establishment movements across much of the Western world. Despite massive benefits from privileged access to third world resource bases, from France’s extractions from Francophone West Africa (32) to the petrodollar system propping up American currency (33), Western economies with few exceptions are very far from healthy. A glimpse of this was given in 2007-2008, and little has been done to amend the key economic issues which facilitated the previous crisis in the twelve years since (34). The West’s ability to compete in the field of high end consumer technologies, particularly with rising and more efficient East Asian economies, increasingly appears limited. From semiconductors to electric cars to smartphones to 5G, the leaders are almost all East Asian economies which have continued to undermine Western economic primacy and expose the gross inefficiencies of Western economies. The result has been less favourable balances of payments in the Western world, a growing reliance on political clout to facilitate exports (35), and increasing political unrest as living standards are placed under growing pressure. The Yellow Vests and the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are all symptoms of this. With very real prospects of another economic crash in the coming decade, in the style of 2008 but likely much worse, Western economies are expected to bear the brunt of the damage. Their ability to survive remains in serious question. Effects of a crash on North Korea, Iran, Russia and even China will be far less severe. While the previous crash hit Russia particularly hard (36), an economic turnaround from 2014 and the insulation provided by Western sanctions leave it far less vulnerable to the fallout from a Western economic crisis.

Ultimately China appears to be setting itself up for an ‘Eastern Bloc’ victory – a coup de grace which could see Western gains over the past several decades reversed and the power of the West itself diminished to an extent unprecedented in centuries. While the United States reluctantly outsourced much of its high end consumer technologies to East Asian allies during the Cold War – namely Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – China is going for the jugular of the Western world’s economy with its ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative, which will see some critical remaining fields of Western technological primacy shift to East Asian hands. The Coronavirus, bombings in Hong Kong, the trade war, and the wide range of tools in the Western arsenal for destabilisation can at best slightly delay this – but cannot prevent it. In a globalised capitalist economy the most efficient producers win – and East Asia and China in particular, with its Confucian values, stable and efficient political systems and world leading education (37), are thus almost certain to take over the high end of the world economy.

Much as the key to Western victory in the Cold War was successful information warfare efforts and isolation of the Soviet economy from the majority of the world economy, the key to determining the victor of ‘World War IV’ is likely lie in whether or not Beijing succeeds in its attempt to gain dominance of high end technologies critical to sustaining Western economies today. This is far from the only determinant of victory. Efforts to undermine the effective subsidies to Western economies from Central and West Africa, the Arab Gulf states and elsewhere in the third world, and to ensure continued military parity – to deter NATO from knocking over the table if they lose the game of economic warfare – are among the other fields of critical importance. Based on China’s prior successes, and those of other East Asian economies, the likelihood that it will meet its development goals is high – to the detriment of Western interests. The result will be an end to world order centred on Western might – the status quo for the past several hundred years – and emergence in its place of a multipolar order under which Russia, Asia (Central, East, South and Southeast) and Africa will see far greater prominence and prosperity.

(1) Menshikov, S., ‘Russian Capitalism Today,’ Monthly Review, vol. 51, no. 3, 1999 (pp. 82–86).

(2) Yulia V. Tverdova, ‘Human Trafficking in Russia and Other Post-Soviet States,’ Human Rights Review, December 11, 2016.

(3) Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, London, Penguin, 2008 (Chapter 11: ‘Russia Choses the Pinochet Option: Bonfire of a Young Democracy’).

(4) ‘The Death of the MiG 1.44 Program; How the Collapse of the Soviet Union Derailed Moscow’s Fifth Generation Fighter Development,’ Military Watch Magazine, September 16, 2018.  ‘Russia’s Sukhoi Unveils Images from Cancelled Next Generation Fighter Program,’ Military Watch Magazine, December 17, 2019.

(5) Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President of Russia, Kremlin, December 4, 2014.

Bechev, Dimitar, Rival Power: Russia’s Influence in Southeast Europe, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2017 (Chapter 1).

(6) Kristof, Nicholas D., ‘WAR IN THE GULF: China; Beijing Backs Away From Full Support of the War,’ New York Times, February 1, 1991.

(7) ‘Thaw in the Koreas?,’ Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, vol. 48, no. 3, April 1992 (p. 16).

(8) ‘Time to End the Korean War,’ The Atlantic, February 1997.

(9) Axe, David, ‘Iran Desperately Wants This Fighter Plane,’ The National Interest, January 4, 2020.

(10) ‘Hezbollah a North Korea-Type Guerrilla Force,’ Intelligence Online, No. 529, August 25–September 7, 2006.  “North Koreans Assisted Hezbollah with Tunnel Construction,” Terrorism Focus, The Jamestown Foundation, vol. III, issue 30, August 1, 2006.

Dilegge, Dave and Bunker, Robert J., and Keshavarz, Alma, Iranian and Hezbollah Hybrid Warfare Activities: A Small Wars Journal Anthology, Amazon Media, 2016 (p. 261).

‘Bulsae-3 in South Lebanon: How Hezbollah Upgraded its Anti-Armour Capabilities with North Korean Assistance,’ Military Watch Magazine, September 3, 2019.

(11) Kremlin, President of Russia, Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, December 4, 2014.

(12) Congressional Record, V. 151, PT. 17, U.S. Congress, October 7 to 26, 2005.

(13) ‘American political scientist: Western Intelligence used Azerbaijan to export terrorism into Russia,’ Panorama, May 30, 2015.

(14) Kremlin, President of Russia, Plenary session of St Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 17, 2016.

(15) Gregg, Aaron, ‘Military Industrial Complex Finds a Growth Market in Hypersonic Weapons,’ Washington Post, December 21, 2018.

(16) Mullen, Mike and Nunn, Sam and Mount, Adam, A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Independent Task Force Report No. 74, September 2016.

Cartalucci, Tony, ‘Twitter Targets Hong Kong in US-backed Regime Change Operation,’ Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, October 15, 2019.

Park, Kyung-Ae, ‘Regime Change in North Korea?: Economic Reform and Political Opportunity Structures,’ North Korean Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2009 (p. 23-45).

(17) ‘Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,’ New York Times, December 26, 1977.

(18) Wu, S., ‘Why the TPP is an “economic NATO,”’ Huffington Post, October 19, 2015.

(19) Ait, Abraham, ‘US Withdrawal From the INF Treaty Isn’t About Russia,’ The Diplomat, October 25, 2018.

(20) al-Jablawi, Hosam, ‘The White Helmets Struggle Without US Funding,’ Atlantic Council, June 11, 2018.

(21) ‘North Korean Special Forces in Syria; A Look at Pyongyang’s Assistance to Damascus’ Counterinsurgency Operations,’ Military Watch Magazine, June 10, 2018.

(22) ‘DPRK Ambassador affirms his country’s readiness to support health sector in Syria,’ Syrian Arab News Agency, July 25, 2016.

(23) Pauley, Logan and Marks, Jesse, ‘Is China Increasing Its Military Presence in Syria?,’ The Diplomat, August 20, 2018.

Hemenway, Dan, ‘Chinese strategic engagement with Assad’s Syria,’ Atlantic Council, December 21, 2018.

(24) ‘We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding Isis,’ The Independent, October 14, 2016.

(25) ‘Inquiry Into Death of Russian Lt. Gen. Asapov Shows Data Leaks to Daesh –      Source,’ Sputnik, September 26, 2017.

‘Drones used by Syrian terrorists “require advanced training” – Russian MoD in response to US,’ Sputnik, January 9, 2018.

(26) ‘Five Next Generation Russian Combat Jets We Will See in the 2020s: From MiG-41 Hypersonic Interceptors to PAK DA Stealth Bombers,’ Military Watch Magazine, January 1, 2019.

(27) Twigg, Judy, ‘Russia Is Winning the Sanctions Game,’ National Interest, March 14, 2019.

(28) Hersh, Seymour, ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, vol. 36, no. 8, April 2014

Angelovski, Ivan and Patrucic, Miranda and Marzouk, Lawrence, ‘Revealed: the £1bn of weapons flowing from Europe to Middle East,’ The Guardian, July 27, 2016.

Chivers, C. J. and Schmitt, Eric and Mazzetti, Mark, ‘In Turnaround, Syria Rebels Get Libya Weapons,’ New York Times, June 21, 2013.

McCarthy, Andrew C., ‘Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Debacle: Arming Jihadists in Libya . . . and Syria,’ National Review, August 2, 2016.

(29)  ‘Militants Bomb Hospital, Torch Quarantine Center as Hong Kong Braces for Virus Outbreak,’ Military Watch Magazine, January 27, 2020.

(30) ‘Class A drug use “at record levels due to young people”,’ BBC News, September 20, 2019.

(31) Buchholz, Katharina, ‘Industrialized Nations Have Biggest Foreign Debt,’ Statista, February 7, 2019.

(32) ‘France’s Colonial Tax Still Enforced for Africa. “Bleeding Africa and Feeding

France,”’ Centre for Research of Globalization, January 14, 2015.

Bart Williams, Mallence, ‘The Utilization of Western NGOs for the Theft of Africa’s Vast Resources,’ TedxBerlin, January 26, 2015

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfnruW7yERA).

(33) Wong, Andrea, ‘The Untold Story Behind Saudi Arabia’s 41-Year U.S. Debt Secret,’ Bloomberg, May 31, 2016.

Spiro, David E., The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, New York, Cornell University Press, 1999.

(34) ‘Banks have not learnt lessons of 2008 crisis, says Gordon Brown,’ Financial Times, October 31, 2017.

‘A decade after the financial meltdown, its underlying problems haven’t been fixed,’ The Guardian, August 6, 2017.

(35)  ‘Fearing U.S. Sanctions Over Su-35 Purchase: What is Behind Indonesia’s Interest in New F-16V Fighters,’ Military Watch Magazine, November 6, 2019.

Rogan, Tom, ‘The very political reason Qatar buys different fighter aircraft from Britain, France, and the US,’ Washington Examiner, February 25, 2020.

Krishnan, Rakesh, ‘Countering CAATSA: How India can avoid American arm twisting,’ Business Today, March 6, 2019.

(36) Gaddy, Clifford G. and Ickes, Barry W., ‘Russia after the Global Financial Crisis,’ Eurasian Geography and Economics, vol. 51, no. 3, 2010 (pp. 281-311).

(37) Hobbs, Tawnell D., ‘U.S. Students Fail to Make Gains Against International Peers,’ The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2019.

Turner, Camiilla, ‘Chinese students are two years ahead of their white British peers by age 16, report finds,’ The Telegraph, July 30, 2019.

Iran Unrest: Protests and Provocations

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Source

Iran Unrest 44edf

When protests in Hong KongIraq, and Lebanon erupted, I was fully anticipating protests in Iran to follow. In 2018 alone, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) had spent millions of dollars in these countries (and elsewhere) to promote America’s agenda. However, I did not expect unrest in Iran to take place while I was visiting the country. In retrospect, I am glad that I was here to be witness to these latest events.

On Thursday, November 21st, friends took me to a very charming Iranian restaurant in the heart of the city. During our lunch, they talked about there being a price hike in gasoline. After lunch, we walked around the charming downtown area of Tehran, visited shops, and exhausted climbed into a cab. We asked the cab driver if he had heard anything about prices going up. He told us that this was just a rumor. As such, the increase in the price of gasoline took Iranians by surprise. Regrettably, the government of President Rohani had not explained the rationale behind the price increase PRIOR to the increase itself. In several parts of Iran, protests erupted. Perhaps justified, and they were peaceful. One could argue they were disruptive in that cars blocked roads, making it difficult for others, causing traffic jams, but there was no vandalism on the first day – not to my knowledge.

But calm soon gave way to violence. A friend who lives in the suburbs of Tehran, in Karaj, told me that on a single street in that sleepy suburb, protestors had set 4 banks on fire. Elsewhere, police stations were attacked, banks and gas stations set on fire. Businesses were set on fire and destroyed. People were sending text messages to each other giving locations of alleged protests in the hopes of gathering people in one spot or another.

This did not surprise me. I was certain that “swarming” tactic was being implemented (as I believe it was elsewhere mentioned above). First developed by RAND as a military and tactical tool, RAND’s publication “Swarming & The Future of Conflict” states:

In Athena’s Camp, we speculated that swarming is already emerging as an appropriate doctrine for networked forces to wage information-age conflict. This nascent doctrine derives from the fact that robust connectivity allows for the creation of a multitude of small units of maneuver, networked in such a fashion that, although they might be widely distributed, they can still come together, at will and repeatedly, to deal resounding blows to their adversaries. This study builds on these earlier findings by inquiring at length into why and how swarming might be emerging as a preferred mode of conflict for small, dispersed, internetted units. In our view, swarming will likely be the future of conflict.”

“Social conflict also features pack-like organizations, as exemplified by modern-day “soccer hooligans.” They generally operate in a loosely dispersed fashion, then swarm against targets of opportunity who are “cut out” from a larger group of people. The use of modern information technologies—from the Internet to cell phones—has facilitated plans and operations by such gangs (see Sullivan, 1997)”.

Swarming depends on robust information flow and is a necessary condition for successful swarming. In other words, by controlling communication and sending texts to ‘protestors,’ random groups are mobilized together in one or various spots. Chaos ensues, which naturally draws reaction. One is never aware of the origin of the messages. In one of her talks, Suzanne Maloney of Brookings seemed to know the exact number of cell phones in use in Iran. These messages increased in number, as did the vandalism and reaction to the destructive behavior. This was not the first time that this tactic had been used in Iran. But it was the first time that Iran’s adversaries were surprised, shocked even, to see that Iran was capable of shutting down the Internet so quickly in order to put a stop to the spread of violence and restore calm.

I drove around in Tehran from end to end, either with friends or in a cab, and took note of the streets. I watched both Iranian TV news and foreign media such as BBC Persian, VOA, Radio Farda, Saudi funded Iran International broadcasted into Iran through satellite (at times jammed) to encourage people to get out on the streets and to protest. Iran was covered under a blanket of snow. With freezing temperatures, I was amused to see BBC Persian show pictures of ‘demonstrators’ in T-shirts. I was angry to see Reza Pahlavi, the deposed Shah of Iran appear on Iran International encouraging people to get out onto the streets. I felt insulted on behalf of every Iranian when Secretary Pompeo retweeted an old tweet and then tweeted again that ‘he was with the Iranian people’ – not to eat, not to receive medicinal goods, not to address their desire for peace and security, but to endure all kinds of hardship and to be subjected to American terrorism (sanctions) and go out on the streets to protest in order to promote America’s agenda.

The hostile foreign media even showed pictures of a ‘protestor’ handing out flowers to security personnel – a symbol first used against the Pentagon in 1967 by a woman protesting the war in Vietnam (and later in the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine). Except I could not tell if the picture I saw streaming through the foreign media’s satellite television was Iran or not. The viewer was told it was. The symbol was powerful, but I doubt very much that it was an indigenous one.

With the Internet disconnected, foreign media propaganda then had its viewers believe people were calling from inside Iran; eyewitnesses were reporting events. A voice telling BBC, or Iran International, or …… what was going on. Just a voice which would not doubt then be picked up as eyewitness testimony and shared in all media outlets. The ease with which individuals in various target countries always manage to get directly through television stations has always fascinated me. No automated answer – just straight to the newsroom.

In all this, I can’t help but ask why it was that none of the banks and gas stations set on fire, buildings burnt and businesses ruined, were not located in the pro-West parts of Tehran. Their life continued without a hitch – homes safe, business safe. After all, the main reason for the gasoline price increase was to help the less affluent and the poor. Perhaps as Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute said of the CIA’s role behind the uprisings, Michael D’Andrea, aka “Ayatollah Mike” wanted them safe. Regardless of the reason, CIA/NED spent millions and failed – again.

Evidence Talks: US Government Propelled Coup in Bolivia

Global Research, November 25, 2019

A coup on November 10 removed the socialist government of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The U.S. government made preparations and orchestrated the final stages of the coup. It was in charge. In power for almost 14 years, Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera had won elections taking place on October 20. The two leaders would each have been serving a fourth term in office.

Evidence of the U.S. crime appears below.  It’s about money, U.S. influence within the Bolivian military, and U.S. control of the Organization of American States (OAS):

1. For many years the Santa Cruz Civic Committee and its proto-fascist Youth Union received funding from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. According to analyst Eva Golinger some years ago, the USAID provided $84 million to Bolivian opposition groups.

U.S. Embassy officials conspired with and paid the “civic committees” of Bolivia’s four eastern departments. Representing the European- descended elite of Bolivia’s wealthiest region, these groups promoted racist assaults. They concocted a separatist movement and tried to assassinate Morales. In response, the Bolivian government expelled the U.S. ambassador, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U. S. Agency for International Development.

2. Bolivian armed forces commander in chief Williams Kaliman Romero on November 10 “suggested” that Morales resign. That was the coup de grace. Within three days, Kaliman himself resigned and moved to the United States. Sullkata M. Quilla of the Latin American Center for Strategic Analysis explains that Kaliman and other military chiefs each had received $1 million and that top police officers received $500,000 apiece. U.S. Chargee d’affaires Bruce Williamson allegedly arranged for monetary transactions that took place in Argentina’s Jujuy Province under the auspices of Governor Geraldo Morales. The story first appeared on the website www.Tvmundus.com.ar.

3. Money flowed freely prior to Morales’s departure. Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti – a Morales supporter – reported that, “loyal members of [Morales’s] security team showed him messages in which people were offering them $50,000 if they would hand him over.”

4. According to the respected Argentinean journalist Stella Cattaloni, Ivanka Trump arrived in Jujuy on September 4-5 ostensibly to honor a small group of women entrepreneurs. Some “2,500 federal agents” and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan accompanied her. At the same time, Governor Gerardo Morales was informed that the United States would be delivering $400 million supposedly to pay for improvements to a big highway in Argentina. Cattaloni suggests that a freight train running through Jujuy en route to Santa Cruz, the center of anti- Morales plotting in Bolivia, was transporting military equipment to opposition groups.

There’s media speculation as to how Governor Morales may have facilitated the transfer of U.S. money to Luis Camacho, leader of the coup and head of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee. He may have done so in Santa Cruz, where he visited on September 4, or in Jujuy Province where Camacho may have showed up later that day or the next.

5. According to analyst Jeb Sprague:

“At least six of the key coup plotters are alumni of the infamous School of the Americas, while [General] Kaliman and another figure served in the past as Bolivia’s military and police attachés in Washington.”

For decades, Latin American military personnel have received training and indoctrination at that U.S. Army school now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Sprague notes also that the top commanders of police that mutinied had received training at the Washington-based Latin American police exchange program known by its initials in Spanish as APALA.

6. The OAS played a crucial role in the coup. Votes were being tallied on October 20 when the OAS, having audited preliminary results, announced that they showed irregularities. The U.S. government echoed the findings and street protests intensified. On October 24 the Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared first-round victories for Morales and García Linare. Protests mounted. The government, under stress, requested another OAS audit.

The OAS made its conclusions public on November 10, earlier than expected:

The OAS couldn’t “validate the results of this election [and called for] “another electoral process [and] new electoral authorities.”

This was the tipping point. Morales convoked another election but shortly thereafter General Kaliman forced him to resign.

The OAS findings were false. Walter Mebane and colleagues at the University of Michigan, having examined voting statistics, indicated that fraudulent votes in the election were not decisive for the result. The Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research performed its own detailed study and reached the same conclusion.

The OAS served as U.S. handmaiden. Headquartered in Washington, the organization took shape under U.S. auspices in 1948 with the assigned task of protecting Latin America and the Caribbean from Communism. More recently the OAS, under Secretary General Luis Almagro’s guidance, has spearheaded U.S. efforts to expel President Nicolas Maduro’s progressive Venezuelan government.

Paradoxically, Almagro in May 2019 gave Morales the go-ahead for a fourth presidential term. That was despite a referendum having been defeated that would have allowed the extra term. Almago’s intention may have been to lull Morales into cooperating with OAS overview of the election results.

7. Other signs of U.S. coup preparations are these:

  • Prior to the October 20 elections President Morales charged that U.S. Embassy officials bribed rural residents to reject him at the polls. They traveled, for example, to the Yungas region on October 16 with pay-offs to disaffected coca farmers.
  • According to Bolpress.com, the National Military Coordinator (Coordinadora Nacional Militar), an organization of reserve military officers, received and distributed money sent from the United States to create social crisis prior to October 20. The United States also used embassies in Bolivia and the evangelical church as facades to hide its activities. Mariane Scott and Rolf A. Olson, U.S. Embassy officials in La Paz, met with counterparts in the embassies of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina to coordinate destabilization efforts and to deliver U.S. financing to opposition forces inside Bolivia.
  • Weapons shipments from the United States arrived at the Chilean port of Iquique on their way to the National Military Coordinator group inside Bolivia.
  • The State Department allocated $100,000 to enable a company called “CLS Strategies” to mount a disinformation campaign through social media.
  • The CIA station in La Paz assumed control of Bolivia’s Whatsapp network in order to leak false information. More than 68,000 fake anti-Morales tweets were released.
  • In mid-October “political consultant” George Eli Birnbaun arrived in Santa Cruz from Washington with a team of military and civilian personnel. Their job was to support the U.S. – preferred presidential candidacy of Oscar Ortiz and to destabilize the country politically after the elections. They provided support for Santa Cruz Civic Committee’s youth organization – specialists in violence – and supervised the U.S. – financed “Standing Rivers” NGO, engaged in spreading disinformation.
  • Sixteen audio recordings of the plotters’ pre-election conversations were leaked and showed up on the internet. Several of the voices mentioned contacts with the U.S. Embassy and with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Robert Menendez, and Marco Rubio. Sprague reports that four of the ex-military plotters on the calls had attended the School of the Americas.

This presentation focuses entirely on the evidence. In a criminal investigation, evidence is central to determining guilt or innocence. Considerations of motive and context are of lesser importance, and we don’t deal with them here. But when and where they are attended to, they would logically fall into categories that include the following:

1. A socialist experiment was showing signs of success and capitalists of the world were facing the threat of a good example.

2. A people once held hostage by colonial powers was able to claim sovereign independence and in that regard had endeavored to retain much of the wealth provided through natural resources, lithium in particular.

3. Throughout its existence the Morales government, headed by an indigenous president, was up against anti-indigenous prejudice, racist in origin, and social-class divisions.

4. All the while, that government was the target of hostility, plotting, and episodic violence at the hands of the entitled classes.

So the evidence is clear. It points to a controlling U.S. hand in this coup d’état. The U.S. government bears heavy responsibility. There were Bolivian instigators, of course, but the U.S. plotters fall within the range of our own political processes. That’s why our accusing finger points at them.

In this instance, the U.S. government, as is its custom, disregarded international law, morality, respect for human life, and common decency. To stifle popular resistance the U.S. government evidently will stop at nothing, other than force in the hands of the people. What kind of force remains to be seen.

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W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist with a focus on Latin America and health care issues. He is a Cuba solidarity activist who formerly worked as a pediatrician.

Featured image is from Peoples Dispatch

Message for my Latin American friends (in the form of a song)

The Saker

Dear friends,

I have to admit that I am absolutely heartbroken at the news coming out of Latin America.  Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia – everywhere the people are struggling against what has been known as “Yankee imperialism” for decades.  The pendulum of history has swung back and forth many times in Latin America.  I remember the civil war in Argentina just before the coup of 1976, I was still a kid, but I remember it all.  Then the coup, the vicious and ugly “dirty war”, the disaster of the (just!) war for the Malvinas, then the years of “democracy”.  Rivers of blood, and still the new era of freedom and peace everybody kept hoping for did not come.  Now, four or five decades later, the people of Latin America are still dying and suffering under the yoke of a CIA-installed and CIA-controlled comprador class which would gladly sell their mothers and daughters to Uncle Shmuel for a few bucks.

And yet.

And yet 40 or 50 years are short when seen from the point of view of history, other struggles in history have lasted much longer.  So, as a poignant reminder that we will never lose hope, nor will we ever accept oppression, here is a song by Pedro Aznar whose beautiful lyrics will be understood by everyone from Patagonia to Mexico’s northern border (including my Brazilian friends) and which beautifully expresses the hope common to all of us!

Venceremos!

The Saker

PS: if somebody had the time to translate these lyrics into English, I would be most grateful.

We are all hostages of 9/11

Pakistanis raise their weapons in the border town of Bajour as they shout anti-US slogans before leaving for Afghanistan in October 2001. Thousands from this tribal area go to join the Taliban in its ‘holy war’ against the US. Photo: AFP /Tariq Mahmood

September 11, 2019

BWe are all hostages of 9/11y Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved

Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel).

Back in Peshawar, I learned that something really big was coming: my article was published by Asia Times on August 30. Commander Massoud was killed on September 9: I received a terse email from a Panjshir source, only stating, “the commander has been shot.” Two days later, 9/11 happened.

And yet, the day before, none other than Osama bin Laden, in person, was in a Pakistani hospital in Rawalpindi, receiving treatment, as CBS reported. Bin Laden was proclaimed the perpetrator already at 11am on 9/11 – with no investigation whatsoever. It should have been not exactly hard to locate him in Pakistan and “bring him to justice.”

In December 2001 I was in Tora Bora tracking bin Laden – under B-52 bombers and side by side with Pashtun mujahideen. Later, in 2011, I would revisit the day bin Laden vanished forever.

One year after 9/11, I was back in Afghanistan for an in-depth investigation of the killing of Massoud. By then it was possible to establish a Saudi connection: the letter of introduction for Massoud’s killers, who posed as journalists, was facilitated by commander Sayyaf, a Saudi asset.

Saudi-born alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is seen in a video taken at a secret site in Afghanistan. This was aired by Al-Jazeera on Oct. 7, 2001, the day the US launched bombing of terrorist camps, airbases and air defense installations in its campaign against the Taliban for sheltering bin Laden. Photo: AFP

For three years my life revolved around the Global War on Terror; most of the time I lived literally on the road, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Brussels. At the start of ‘Shock and Awe’ on Iraq, in March 2003, Asia Times published my in-depth investigation of which neo-cons concocted the war on Iraq.

In 2004, roving across the US, I re-traced the Taliban’s trip to Texas, and how a top priority, since the Clinton years all the way to the neo-cons, was about what I had baptized as “Pipelineistan” – in this case how to build the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, bypassing Iran and Russia, and extending US control of Central and South Asia.

Later on, I delved into the hard questions the 9/11 Commission never asked, and how Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign was totally conditioned by and dependent on 9/11.

Michael Ruppert, a CIA whistleblower, who may – or may not – have committed suicide in 2014, was a top 9/11 analyst. We exchanged a lot of information, and always emphasized the same points: Afghanistan was all about (existent) heroin and (non-existent) pipelines.

In 2011, the late, great Bob Parry would debunk more Afghanistan lies. And in 2017, I would detail a top reason why the US will never leave Afghanistan: the heroin rat line.

Now, President Trump may have identified a possible Afghan deal – which the Taliban, who control two-thirds of the country, are bound to refuse, as it allows withdrawal of only 5,000 out of 13,000 US troops. Moreover, the US ‘Deep State’ is absolutely against any deal, as well as India and the rickety government in Kabul.

But Pakistan and China are in favor, especially because Beijing plans to incorporate Kabul into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and have Afghanistan admitted as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, thus attaching the Hindu Kush and the Khyber Pass to the ongoing Eurasia integration process.

Praying for a Pearl

Eighteen years after the game-changing fact, we all remain hostages of 9/11. US neocons, gathered at the Project for the New American Century, had been praying for a “Pearl Harbor” to reorient US foreign policy since 1997. Their prayers were answered beyond their wildest dreams.

Already in The Grand Chessboard, also published in 1997, former National Security Adviser and Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, nominally not a neocon, had pointed out that the American public “supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

So, Brzezinski added, America “may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.”

As an attack on the homeland, 9/11 generated the Global War on Terror, launched at 11pm on the same day, initially christened “The Long War” by the Pentagon, later sanitized as Overseas Contingency Operations by the Obama administration. This cost trillions of dollars, killed over half a million people and branched out into illegal wars against seven Muslim nations – all justified on “humanitarian grounds” and allegedly supported by the “international community.”

Year after year, 9/11 is essentially a You Have The Right to Accept Only The Official Version ritual ceremony, even as widespread evidence suggests the US government knew 9/11 would happen and did not stop it.

Three days after 9/11, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that in June 2001, German intelligence warned the CIA that Middle East terrorists were “planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture.”

In August 2001, President Putin ordered Russian intel to tell the US government “in the strongest possible terms” of imminent attacks on airports and government buildings, MSNBC revealed in an interview with Putin that was broadcast on September 15 that year.

No US government agency has released any information on who used foreknowledge of 9/11 in the financial markets. The US Congress did not even raise the issue. In Germany, investigative financial journalist Lars Schall has been working for years on a massive study detailing to a great extent insider trading before 9/11.

While NORAD sleeps

Discrediting the official, immutable 9/11 narrative remains the ultimate taboo. Hundreds of architects and engineers engaged in meticulous technical debunking of all aspects of 9/11’s official story are summarily dismissed as “conspiracy theorists.”

In contrast, skepticism rooted in Greek and Latin tradition came up with arguably the best documentary on 9/11: Zero, an Italian production. Just as arguably the most stimulating book on 9/11 is also Italian: The Myth of September 11, by Roberto Quaglia, which offers a delicately nuanced narrative of 9/11 as a myth structured as a movie. The book became a huge hit in Eastern Europe.

Serious questions suggest quite plausible suspects to be investigated regarding 9/11, far more than 19 Arabs with box cutters. Ten years ago, in Asia Times, I asked 50 questions, some of them extremely detailed, about 9/11. After reader demand and suggestions, I added 20 more. None of these questions were convincingly addressed – not to mention answered – by the official narrative.

World public opinion is directed to believe that on the morning of 9/11 four airliners, presumably hijacked by 19 Arabs with box cutters, traveled undisturbed – for two hours – across the most controlled airspace on the planet, which is supervised by the most devastating military apparatus ever.

American Airlines Flight 11 deviated from its path at 8.13am and crashed into the first World Trade Center tower at 8.57am. Only at 8.46am did NORAD – the North American Aerospace Defense Command – order that two intercepting F-15s take off from Otis military base.

A hijacked commercial plane crashes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in New York. Photo: AFP / Set McAllister

By a curious coincidence a Pentagon war game was in effect on the morning of 9/11 – so air-controllers’ radars may have registered only ‘ghost signals’ of nonexistent aircraft simulating an air attack. Well, it was much more complicated than that, as demonstrated by professional pilots.

‘Angel was next’

World public opinion is also directed to believe that a Boeing 757 – with a wingspan of 38 meters – managed to penetrate the Pentagon through a six-meter-wide hole and at the height of the first floor. A Boeing 757 with landing gear is 13 meters high. Airliners electronically refuse to crash – so it’s quite a feat to convince one to fly five to 10 meters above the ground, landing gear on, at a lightning speed of 800 kilometers an hour.

According to the official narrative, the Boeing 757 literally pulverized itself. Yet even after pulverization, it managed to perforate six walls of three rings of the Pentagon, leaving a two-meter wide hole in the last wall but only slightly damaging the second and third rings. The official narrative is that the hole was caused by the plane’s nose – still quite hard even after pulverization. Yet the rest of the plane – a mass of 100 tons traveling at 800 kilometers an hour – miraculously stopped at the first ring.

All that happened under the stewardship of one Hani Hanjour, who three weeks before had been judged by his flight instructors to be incapable of piloting a Cessna. Hanjour, nonetheless, managed to accomplish an ultra-fast spiral descent at 270 degrees, aligning at a maximum 10 meters above ground, minutely calibrating the trajectory, and keeping a cruise speed of roughly 800 kilometers an hour.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, left, and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brief reporters at the Pentagon on Oct. 8, 2001 following the US bombing raids on Afghanistan in response to 9/11 attacks. Photo: AFP / Luke Frazza

At 9.37am, Hanjour hit precisely the Pentagon’s budget analysts’ office, where everyone was busy working on the mysterious disappearance of no less than $2.3 trillion that Defense Secretary Donald “Known Unknowns” Rumsfeld, in a press conference the day before, said could not be tracked. So, it’s not only Boeings that get pulverized inside the Pentagon.

World public opinion is also directed to believe that Newtonian physics was suspended as a special bonus for WTC 1 and 2 on 9/11 (not to mention WTC 7, which was not even hit by any plane). The slower WTC tower took 10 seconds to fall 411 meters, starting from immobility. So it fell at 148 kilometers an hour. Considering the initial acceleration time, it was a free fall, not the least impeded by 47 massive, vertical steel beams that composed the tower’s structural heart.

World public opinion is also directed to believe that United Airlines Flight 93 – 150 tons of aircraft with 45 people, 200 seats, luggage, a wingspan of 38 meters – crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and also literally pulverized itself, totally disappearing inside a hole six meters by three meters wide and only two meters deep.

Suddenly, Air Force One was “the only plane in the sky.” Colonel Mark Tillman, who was on board, recalled: “We get this report that there’s a call saying ‘Angel’ was next. No one really knows now where the comment came from – it got mistranslated or garbled amid the White House, the Situation Room, the radio operators. ‘Angel’ was our code name. The fact that they knew about ‘Angel,’ well, you had to be in the inner circle.”

This means that 19 Arabs with box cutters, and most of all their handlers, surely must have been “in the inner circle.” Inevitably, this was never fully investigated.

Already in 1997, Brzezinski had warned,

“it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America.”

In the end, much to the despair of US neocons, all the combined sound and fury of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror/Overseas Contingency Operations, in less than two decades, ended up metastasized into not only a challenger but a Russia-China strategic partnership. This is the real “enemy” – not al-Qaeda, a flimsy figment of the CIA’s imagination, rehabilitated and sanitized as “moderate rebels” in Syria.

 

CIA Afghan Paramilitaries Prevent Restoration of Peace

By Stephen Lendman

Source

US aggression in Afghanistan continues unabated in its 18th year. Prospects for restoring peace and stability to the war-torn are more illusory than likely.

Talks between Trump regime and Taliban representatives have been ongoing since July last year. 

Claims about concluding them successfully in the near-term are wishful thinking — not as long as CIA-controlled paramilitaries exist in the country.

A new study by Brown University’s Watson Institute (WI) for International and Public Affairs called the “CIA army” of Afghan paramilitary forces a “threat to human rights and an obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.”

It’s involved in the US war OF terrorism, not on it. State terrorism is longstanding US policy, especially post-9/11 when remaining constraints on its imperial rage ended.

CIA controlled paramilitaries in Afghanistan serve US imperial interests. Their existence makes restoration of peace and stability to the country unattainable.

So does keeping US “intelligence assets” in the country on the phony pretext of countering the scourge of terrorism the US created and supports.

Withdrawal of Pentagon forces won’t matter, if occurs, as long as a private CIA army in Afghanistan exists — with likely no intention of leaving.

Established shortly after US aggression on the country was launched, WI said they’ve “committed serious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings of

civilians,” adding: 

“CIA sponsorship ensures that their operations are clouded in secrecy. There is virtually no public oversight of their activities or accountability for grave human rights abuses.”

Langley paramilitaries are the modern-day equivalent of CIA-recruited Afghan mujahideen fighters against Soviet occupiers in the 1980s — today’s Taliban, combatting illegal US war and occupation of their country.

They want it back, US invaders out. It’s not likely as long as the CIA’s private army in the country exists.

“Little is publicly known about” it said WI, adding: It’s “an illegal armed group (that) no basis in Afghan law and no formal place in the state security apparatus” authorizes.

“(A)ll we know is that the CIA-sponsored forces are uniformed and well-equipped, sometimes work with American English-speaking men during raids,” and are supported by Pentagon terror-bombing, indiscriminately killing civilians time and again.

Human rights groups and investigative journalists documented their crimes of war and against humanity — “operating with impunity, unconstrained by political or judicial accountability,” WI explained, adding:

“(T)he CIA-sponsored program and activities of its Afghan Army are shielded from public oversight and accountability.” 

“Afghan authorities appear to be uninformed or unwilling to divulge anything about the program’s structure, funding or operations.” 

“UN officials investigating reports of abuses and intentional killings of civilians by (CIA paramilitaries) were unable to obtain any information from Afghan officials.”

The sinister, diabolical, secretive, unaccountable CIA operates extrajudicially at home and abroad. Its existence threatens world peace, stability and security.

Its dirty hands are all over plots against nations on the US target list for regime change — along with involvement in its wars of aggression.

Whatever the outcome of US/Taliban talks, Washington came to Afghanistan to stay, not leave, permanent occupation planned, wanting the country’s resources plundered.

They include barite, chromite, coal, cobalt, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, enormous amounts of highly-valued lithium and other rare earth metals vital for high tech products, natural gas, oil, precious and semi-precious stones, potash, salt, sulfur, talc, zinc, among other minerals.

They represent potentially trillions of dollars of economic value, a treasure Washington has no intention of relinquishing. US policymakers also aim to traverse the country with oil and gas pipelines.

Controlling it is also part of their plan to encircle Russia and China with US military bases, platforms for warmaking.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, used for heroin production. What the Taliban eradicated pre-9/11, the US restored.

It’s a bonanza for money-laundering Western banks. The CIA relies on drugs trafficking as a revenue source. 

Permanent war is official US policy, including war by other means by illegal sanctions and other hostile actions against targeted nations.

Whatever US and Taliban representatives may agree on won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

The history of US talks with other nations shows it can never be trusted.

The Spy Game: It Ain’t What It Used to Be

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August 1, 2019

The Tehran government has announced the arrest of seventeen Iranian citizens caught spying for America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Some of those arrested have already been sentenced to death. It is the third major roll-up of CIA agents in Iran that I have been aware of, the first occurring in 1991 involved 20 American agents. The second episode in 2011 led to the arrest of 30 spies. The earlier arrests reportedly eliminated what were presumed to be the entire networks of American agents operating inside Iran and it is to be presumed that the recent arrests will have the same impact.

The Iranians presented a considerable quantity of evidence, including photos and business cards of US government officials, to back up their claim of American spying but President Trump dismissed the report as “totally false” and “just more lies and propaganda” — while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken.”

Iran’s press release on the arrests together with a briefing by an intelligence official supplemented by local media coverage provided some of the details. The seventeen reportedly had “sophisticated training” but those who had sabotage missions did not succeed. Other objectives included “collecting information at the facilities they worked at, carrying out technical and intelligence activities and transferring and installing monitoring devices.”

Some of the agents had reportedly been recruited by falling into what is referred to as a “visa trap” set by the CIA for Iranians seeking to travel to the US. This has long been the preferred tool for recruiting Iranian agents. The intelligence official handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged CIA case officer speaking to an Iranian target, which was presumably recorded secretly. The video shows a blonde woman who speaks Persian with an American accent. The disc also included names of several US embassy staff in Dubai, Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were involved in the recruitment and training of the Iranian spies.

How exactly did the recruitments take place as there is no US Embassy in Tehran and few Americans resident in the country? Many of the Iranians were targeted when they walked into an American Embassy in a country to which they are free to travel, which includes Turkey and Dubai. In the words of the Iranian intelligence official, “Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them.”

Others were targeted and recruited as spies while attending scientific conferences around the world. Those recruited received promises of money, eventual resettlement and a job in the US or medical assistance. To maintain contact with its agents inside Iran, the CIA would reportedly conceal spyware and instructions in containers that look like rocks, which would be planted in city parks or in rural areas. The Iranian agents would then recover the material, which might include false identification documents. It should be observed that fake rocks are a standard espionage tool. They are hollowed out to conceal spy-gear and communications. After they are in place, a signal is made to alert the agent that there is something ready to be picked-up. In the trade they are referred to as “dead drops.”

Why does the United States continue to spy on Iran with such ferocity? The Mullahs became a major intelligence target for Washington in the wake of the 1979 US Embassy hostage crisis, in which fifty-two American diplomats and intelligence officers were held for 444 days. The CIA mounted a major intelligence operation run from Europe that collected a wide range of information on the Iranian government and, increasingly, on its technical capabilities, including a suspected nuclear development program. In 2015 the CIA under President Barack Obama and Director John Brennan ramped up collection efforts against Iran as part of the verification process for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). More recently, Mike Pompeo, when CIA Director, further increased efforts against Iran when the Trump Administration withdrew from that agreement in the belief that Iran represented a rogue nation and a threat to United States interests and allies. In reality, of course, there is no real American vital interest relating to Iran and Trump has been acting on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are hostile to Iran as a regional rival.

But running intelligence operations in a country without a US Embassy to serve as a base for spies proved difficult. Many spies have been caught, by one Iranian estimate, 290 agents arrested in recent years. Most often the exposure of the spies has been due to human error or technical problems in communications. Iran has benefited by boasting of those arrests and has long promoted its capacity to uncover American spy rings in the country. As the New York Times reports, Iran has recently aired a documentary featuring efforts to expose and rid the country of the CIA agents working there.

A recently produced and very popular Iranian fictional television series called “Gando” has also introduced the narrative of a perpetual fight against American spies into the country’s popular culture. The show features brave Iranian intelligence officials in pursuit of an American spy posing as a journalist.

According to a Yahoo News investigation, Iran was in 2009 enraged by reports that the CIA had possibly penetrated its nuclear program and its counter-intelligence agents immediately went on the hunt for moles. By 2011, Iranian officials had uncovered and arrested a network of 30 CIA sources, a fact that US officials later confirmed. Some of the accused informants were executed. The Iranian government was able to find the operatives because of failures in the systems and techniques that the CIA agents used to communicate with the agents. Once a flaw in communications is detected, it is possible to exploit that so one can sit back and wait and watch for all those linked to the network to reveal themselves.

One might observe that the continued massive American “maximum pressure” spying effort directed against Iran is a bit of an anachronism. It is agreed by nearly all observers that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and is unlikely to start one. The sanctions put in place against the country unilaterally by the US cannot produce a popular uprising that will bring down the regime, but they have indeed hurt the country’s economy badly and the people are suffering. Iran’s military cannot stand up against its neighbors, much less against the United States, and its ability to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors is extremely limited.

So, it is probably just as well that Iran has again rolled up most of the American spies in the country, though it will be a tragedy for the men and women involved. Many critics of the Agency have argued that the CIA has forgotten how to spy in an age of drones and electronic surveillance, which may be true. Certainly, the CIA record regarding Iran is nothing to brag about.

Also by this author

 

European Union Corruption Case Study: Ukraine

European Union Corruption Case Study: Ukraine

December 06, 2018

By Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

Over the past 4 years, since the coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014 orchestrated by the “civilised” West, a “team of reformers” has been at work in Ukraine. They promised to implement so-called “anti-corruption reforms” in cooperation with European countries, such as France and Germany, who, by the way, both placed a stake on installing project “anti-Russia” aka Euromaidan. But here is where things get interesting. The level of corruption in Ukraine has not decreased!!!! According to independent experts, the virus of corruption has spread even further!!!! In fact, corruption has also captured new anti-corruption bodies that were create post 2014, including the “National Agency of Ukraine for finding, tracing and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes”, also known as ARMA. On paper, it was conceived to combat unscrupulous business, but in practice it works under the protection of officials and has itself become a hotbed of corruption and lawlessness. But how did this happen?

The creation of so-called anti-corruption bodies in Ukraine, including ARMA, took place at the request and with the assistance of the institutions of the European Union. ARMA was created within the framework of the recommendations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the implementation of which was mandatory for Ukraine in order to obtain the carrot on a stick known as the visa-free regime.

The prerequisites imposed by the West concerning the creation of ARMA were Ukraine’s obligations to implement the UN Convention against Corruption and other acts of international law, to implement the recommendations of GRECO and FATF, as well as one of the main criteria for Ukraine – to implement the Action Plan on visa liberalisation with the EU and one of the conditions for Ukraine to receive macro-financial assistance from the European Union.

However, according to official statements, in the current Ukrainian realities ARMA does not function in the way that the “well-intended” European partners of Ukraine had expected. According to EU officials, it was created as a body to fight corruption in the best European practices, but in reality, ARMA has become a stronghold of corruption and a tool for literally looting local Ukrainian businesses. According to Ukrainian experts, this may be directly related to the person who leads ARMA – Anton Yanchuk, who influences the work of the agency, as well as the companies that are chosen to manage the confiscated assets. According to an internal document that I had the chance to study, Yanchuk is not an independent leader at all. He is someone whose appointment was lobbied by the “People’s Front” party, which is a part of the parliamentary coalition and is known as the “party of war”, since most of its members were responsible for illegally launching the war in Donbass. Members of “People’s Front” hold key positions in the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers, and the National Security and Defense Council. They have been repeatedly accused of being involved in legislative and other initiatives related to the political persecution of those who can be described as “anti-Maidan”, attacks on freedom of speech, and violations of other rights and freedoms enshrined in not only Ukraine’s constitution, but all such treaties ratified by Ukraine as the European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, it is natural that ARMA is also engaged in persecuting people and enterprises on political grounds.

Who became a victim of ARMA and who was chosen as its contractors?

An indicative example of the work of ARMA in this sense was the attack on the office of the “Vesti Ukraine” media company, which can be described as being anti-Poroshenko. ARMA arrested the property that this media agency rented on the 32nd floor of the “Gulliver” business center in Kiev (what a coincidence, from all the businesses that operate here!). Prior to this, the journalists of “Vesti Ukraine” had repeatedly investigated the activities of representatives of “People’s Front”, the chief military prosecutor’s officeАRМА, Yanchuk himself, as well as other structures and persons that are in the higher echelons of power. The active role played by state bodies in the attack on “Vesti Ukraine” give grounds to consider this attack as a way of putting pressure on media agencies whose position is inconvenient for the junta in Kiev.

At the beginning of February 2018 at about 6:00 a.m. representatives of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, the National Police, ARMA, the company that was granted the right to manage the assets confiscated by ARMA – “Navigator business center“, and unidentified persons in civilian clothes and masks (at least 50 people) forcefully occupied the office of “Vesti Ukraine” located in the “Gulliver” business center. The premises that “Vesti Ukraine” rented was arrested and transferred to the management of ARMA. At the same time, all the equipment belonging to “Vesti Ukraine” was stolen and destroyed. All property – including furniture, equipment, expensive radio equipment, and even the personal belongings of employees that were in the premises – belonged to “Vesti Ukraine” and was not burdened with any judicial arrests. Access to the premises and workplaces for journalists of the radio, paper newspaper, and website departments of “Vesti Ukraine” were blocked, and the newsrooms and broadcasting studios of the radio facility were occupied by the SBU, which made it impossible to broadcast the radio station live on the air. Journalists were in fact deprived of their right to carry out their legitimate professional activities, about 200 media employees lost access to the office infrastructure, working equipment, office equipment, and their personal belongings. The seizure of “Vesti Ukraine” also resulted in the editorial office being smashed up.

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Refusing any contact and to provide access to the personal belongings of the employees of “Vesti Ukraine”, a gas substance was sprayed at the journalists. There was smoke in the office of the agency, the fire alarm system was triggered, and the employees working in the entire premises of the business center were evacuated. The editor-in-chief of the “Vesti Ukraine” website Anastasiya Reyn suffered 1st degree retinal burns.

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In the aftermath of the seizure unknown persons in balaclavas – hired, as it turned out later, by ARMA’s managing company “Navigator business center” – settled in the office of the editorial staff. They barricaded themselves indoors and trashed the equipment of journalists and the expensive equipment of the “Vesti Ukraine” radio station. Surveillance cameras also captured the junta’s mob drinking alcohol. This situation lasted for several months. During all of this time there were unknown people on the 32nd floor who plundered the property of the editorial office, threw the personal belongings and documents of journalists out of the window, and proverbially bulldozed the offices that they allegedly “managed”. The guards of the “Gulliver” business center detained some men who tried to bring weapons inside the building, while others were detained when they tried to remove cameras, batteries, and even hand cream from the “Vesti Ukraine” office… As a result, a number of criminal cases were initiated. Officially, ARMA assures that this process was the transferral of assets – the room where the “Vesti Ukraine” editors are based – to the managing company. At the same time, ARMA and its managers refuse to be held accountable for the damage caused to property and the losses incurred by “Vesti Ukraine”, which are estimated in the tens of millions of hryvnia.

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The head of ARMA Anton Yanchuk dodges communication with journalists and refuses to comment on this situation. Meanwhile, the owners of the “Gulliver” business center and “Vesti Ukraine” appealed to another “bastion of democracy” – the National Anti-corruption Bureau (which is de facto headed by the CIA and used to keep the Maidan wolves in the pen) – with a request to investigate the damage caused to the office and to the journalists of “Vesti Ukraine”, as well as the non-transparent competition via which representatives of ARMA chose a company with a criminal past to manage the editorial office of “Vesti Ukraine” and didn’t even try to consider alternative propositions.

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This entire shame is not only an attack on freedom of speech – it is also a clear example of the very corruption that the EU claims to combat! The managing company “Navigator business center”, which was handed the office of “Vesti Ukraine”, was chosen by ARMA in violation of a number of laws of Ukraine. Thus, in the time period from December 2017 to January 2018, ARMA, via the database of state procurement contacts known as “ProZorro”, held three competitions involving real estate management. And what a surprise – only one manager participated in these competitions – the company “Navigator business center”. In all instances it won the right to dispose of confiscated property. At the same time, according to the current Ukrainian legislation, a competition that involves only one participant company cannot be recognized as valid. At the same time, the head of the Legal Department and the Tender Committee of ARMA Andrey Potemkin is the twin brother of Vladimir Potemkin, who is the managing director of “Navigator business center” and the personal lawyer of one of its ultimate owners – Lyudmila Rusalina. The existence of kinship and personal ties between the client and the winner of the competition is a conflict of interest under the Law of Ukraine “On the prevention of corruption”. In such cases, law enforcement bodies must check for the presence or absence of a conflict of interest between ARMA and the managing company, but this doesn’t happen.

The ultimate owners of the “Navigator business center” company are Nikolay Petrenko and Lyudmila Rusalina. They are also the co-owners of the holding company “Petrus-Konditer“, as well as the confectionery manufacturer and alcoholic beverages manufacturer “Petrus-Alko“. Nikolay Petrenko is also officially listed as an assistant of the people’s deputy from the “People’s Front” party Sergey Drauka. The company “Navigator business center” has repeatedly been involved in various criminal cases. According to the fiscal service in the Kiev region, the company “Navigator business center” used the services of a financial transit/conversion group – a tax credit was illegally formed by it. The company also appears in the investigation of the Prosecutor-General’s office concerning tax evasion (a classic EU “value”) in the amount of more than 20 million hryvnia! Thus, a company with a dodgy reputation simply couldn’t win an ARMA competition unless there is a dirty conspiracy.

Lyudmila Rusalina is the honorary Consul of Sierra Leone in Ukraine and one of the richest women in the country. In 2013, the Ukrainian media reported that Ukraine’s alcohol industry is completely under the control of a specialised organised criminal group, and its frontman was named as a certain Nikolay Petrenko. A person who, by “pure coincidence”, of course, has the same name as the business partner of Rusalina is the co-founder of “Petrus” and the co-owner of “Zlatogor“. In total, Rusalina is listed as the head or beneficiary of about 50 organisations – real estate, agriculture, the sale of medicines, the production of chocolate and confectionery, and the wholesale of food and drinks. In an interview with the “Stories of successful people” magazine Rusalina said that everything was achieved thanks to a “reliable man” – her husband Vladimir Garkushin. “The way of a woman is unthinkable without a reliable man. For me, such a person is my husband and partner Vladimir Garkushin. Vladimir managed to build for the company a distribution network in Ukraine almost from the ground up. In a couple of years, due to his organisational talent, he led the alcoholic beverages brand name ‘Petrus’ to the summit of the market,” said Rusalina in 2014. And in December 2017 she filed a lawsuit in a court of Kiev concerning the division of marital property. In another court of Kiev she is also suing her daughter Valeriya and mother Margarita Diesperova (a well-known mathematician), demanding to seize what she previously gave to them. In court the same lawyer who manages the “Navigator business center” – Vladimir Potemkin – defends the interests of Rusalina against her family members.

However, the list of persons with a questionable business reputation hasn’t yet ended. “Vesti Ukraine” has repeatedly investigated the business reputation of the employees of the “Navigator business center” company (chosen by ARMA) Andrey Gritsenko and Vladislav Zaitsev, who were directly involved in the seizure of the office of “Vesti Ukraine” and the eviction of tenants from the apartments transferred to ARMA from the company “Kiev City Apartments”, which is also a victim of the illegal actions of Ukrainian “democratic” officials. On their social network pages Gritsenko and Zaitsev publish videos of naked women, conduct strange experiments (for example, setting fire to their own tongues), and write obscene poems.

As is the norm for the Ukrainian political circle, Andrey Gritsenko has a criminal record. During the events on Maidan he – a self-proclaimed “patriot of the country,” as he called himself in a conversation with journalists from “Vesti Ukraine”, travelled to different regions of the country and poisoned Ukrainians with an alcoholic surrogate. According to the court ruling he received in 2015, he was able to sell, together with the native of Donetsk Vadim Moskalenko, 500,000 bottles of counterfeit vodka – accomplices palmed off bottles with unknown contents onto shops. According to the ruling published on the Judiciary of Ukraine website, the owner of the Kremenchug Distillery Moskalenko, along with the forwarder of LLC “Petrus-Alko” Gritsenko (by the way, the invaders of the “Vesti Ukraine” office drank vodka manufactured by this company), obtained half a million bottles of vodka of an unknown origin from an unspecified place. They pasted “Zlatogor” labels on them and sold them for almost three years all over Ukraine – in the Odessa, Sumy, Ternopol, Poltava, Kharkov, Transcarpathia, Ivano-Frankovsk, Vinnytsia, Khmelnitsky, Kiev, Volyn, Zhytomyr, and Cherkassy regions. Vladislav Zaitsev lives in one of the arrested properties in the residential complex “Pokrovsky Posad”, which was transferred by ARMA (an agency created at the order of the EU, remember!) to its management company.

The example of “Vesti Ukraine” is not a one-off instance, but rather the general practice that ARMA uses when choosing management companies. There are other examples of how ARMA finds companies to manage confiscated property in only a matter of days and in violation of Ukrainian law. One example: recently a Ukrainian court cancelled the transfer of the Odessa airport and 75% of the corporate rights to “Odessa airport development” to the ARMA. The investigating judge of a Kiev court made this decision. According to the sources of “Vesti Ukraine”, who wanted to remain unnamed, concerning the situation with the Odessa airport, the owner of the asset was just able to magically resolve the issue with ARMA in an amicable way.

As of the current moment only 38 companies cooperate with ARMA. Not all of them are respectable and have a good reputation. Some companies are registered in apartments, do not have staff, and were most likely created to rob someone else’s arrested property. ARMA, which is financed by Ukrainian taxpayers and generously supported by “well intended” international organisations, openly occupies the assets of parties in business conflicts, kind of a like, say… the mafia!

Albert Tochilovsky, a German businessman and owner of the clinic of reproductive medicine “BioTexCom” (anther US biolab?), believes that he suffered unfairly because of the actions of ARMA. He was under house arrest for several months, and the accounts of his clinic were arrested because of the suspicion of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of child trafficking and tax evasion.

Another example of ARMA’s handywork: the residents of two regional centers in the Lvov region – who, because of ARMA, now sit without hot water and heating – consider themselves as victims of the activities of ARMA. A thermal power station that belongs to Ukraine politicians – the Dubnevich brothers, who are representatives of the majority coalition in the Verkhovna Rada – was arrested and transferred – without the holding of a competition! – to “Garant Energo M”, whose beneficiaries are the former adviser to the Minister of Ecology Ostap Semerak, Vitaly Ushinsky, and Vladimir Kupchak, who is a former Rada politician and director of the state “Ivano-Frankovskgaz” enterprise. The hostages of the situation in this case were 70,000 residents of the region. They have been without hot water for already the fourth month and, obviously, will spend the winter in cold houses because of the lack of preparation for the heating season. And according to the Minister of Housing and Communal Services Gennady Zubko, this year the heating season in these regional centers will begin no earlier than December 30th, and this is if to be optimistic.

With all these seemingly obvious violations that smell of corruption, the activities of ARMA are covered by other structures created in the framework of that well-known slogan – “combatting corruption”. Thus, after the politicians Dubnevich and Svyatosh made a number of appeals concerning the legality of the actions of ARMA, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC; another “anti-corruption” body created by the West to ensure that only Brussels and Washington can loot Ukraine) said that it had initiated an audit. But not of ARMA. Of Dubnevich and Svyatash!

In August 2018, 56 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada tried to appeal to the Constitutional Court about the powers of ARMA in relation to the management of arrested property. Representatives of the Ukrainian Bureau of Transparency International – another mafia institution – defended ARMA! This structure, unsurprisingly, also finances ARMA officials. However, the results of the inspections are very easy to predict – “not guilty!”.

There is another family relationship that emerges in the ARMA scam. According to the information of “Vesti Ukraine”, the brother of Seregin, the lawyer of “Navigator business center”, which in turn is a permanent partner and contractor of ARMA, works at the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption. The co-founder of the lawyer association “Seregin and partners” Stanislav Seregin can be seen at almost every “Navigator” raid, when they try to take control of property transferred from ARMA. But his brother, Aleksandr Seregin, is a member of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption. What a coincidence!

The most interesting thing here is that the junta in Kiev persistently “doesn’t notice” the blatant violations of the law committed by ARMA: family ties, non-transparent competitions, and damaging property. As well as the fact that ARMA is somehow too embarrassed to publicly disclose its expenses and their real effectiveness vis-a-vis Ukraine’s state budget. “Vesti Ukraine” sent about a dozen inquiries to ARMA, but none of them received an answer, which is another violation of the law of Ukraine “On Information”.

Anton Yanchuk, trying to cover up his illegal actions, often resorts to manipulation and the dissemination of false information about the actions of the department under his control. In his public speeches, Anton Yanchuk often declares that ARMA performs the functions of bringing money into the state’s budget. Apparently, he behaves like Robin Hood, taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. However, in reality, this is absolute nonsense. The Law of Ukraine on the activities of ARMA clearly stipulates that the purpose of ARMA is to effectively manage seized property, and all proceeds from this management must be held in a savings account until the court makes the decision to confiscate this property or return it to its rightful owner. Therefore, all statements about bringing funds to the state’s budget are nothing more than PR and lies.

But the employees of ARMA believe that they are coping well with their duties. According to the documents that were obtained by “Vesti Ukraine”, the head of asset management of ARMA by the name of Reznik submitted a memo addressed to Anton Yanchuk with a request to award employees. The memo says that during October 2018 the employees of this department have proved themselves as specialists who “fully unlocked their potential”, and “qualitatively performed their duties and took the initiative”. It is separately stated that they have successfully fulfilled their “additional instructions”. According to the author of the memo, all the duties of his subordinates were performed on time and efficiently. It is also emphasised that they have not committed disciplinary violations. In this regard, Reznik proposes to award his subordinates with ~250% of their salary. But after “Vesti Ukraine” published this information, ARMA launched an internal investigation. The non-transparent funding of the activities of ARMA also require additional control. According to the Law of Ukraine regulating the work of ARMA, an independent external evaluation of the ARMA’s activities should be carried out every year. However, in practice this hasn’t happened even once.

There is a high probability that, after numerous scandals, Anton Yanchuk will nevertheless be dismissed. There is dissatisfaction with the huge number of criminal cases and the criticism of the international organisations (hello Brussels!) that initially lobbied ARMA as a state body designed to “combat corruption”.

What is probably the most vulgar in all of this is that property from the elite apartment complex “Diamant” that was also stormed and seized by “Navigator business center” (after being transferred from ARMA in January 25, 2018) was presented in the so-called “Park of corruption”, which ARMA presented in the summer of 2018 with the support of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine (EUACI) and sponsors – the EU and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). Yes! This property, which was illegally arrested, was used by ARMA during the presentation of the “Park of corruption”, with the participation of the head of the European Union Mission in Ukraine Hugh Mingarelli (2nd from right in the pic below) on June 1, 2018 in Kiev. This is the same Mingarelli who recently told Ukraine that it doesn’t receive aid from the EU, but loans, and they must be paid back – in full! He also frankly said that Ukraine would not be entering the EU anytime soon! This caused some in Kiev to questionwhy they threw their own country under the bus in the winter of 2014 in the name of the “EU Association Agreement”…

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The following are comments made to “Vesti Ukraine” by Ukrainian experts (yes, Ukrainian – not “Russian trolls”) about the work of ARMA:

Lawyer Aleksandr Dulsky“The National Agency receives property, which is then transferred to the management of the ‘correct’ company. When a business owner, being aware of the ordered nature of what is happening, starts to react, ARMA pretends that it has nothing to do with it. The crucial point is the rule of law, which is respected in Europe. In most of the cases related to the National Agency that I participated in there is an unlawful criminal case, which is ordered, politically motivated, and aims to destroy or seize businesses. In Ukraine, this is a shameful practice that is already included in the OSCE’s reports.”

Political scientist Aleksey Yakubin“Under the guise of reforms so-called deregulation is carried out, which leads to the fact that powers are transferred to private entities that thus earn money from them. And, as a rule, the management of these companies include persons who are close to the ministries and departments. This is a veiled step towards strengthening the corruption component. There is a logical question: what are the budget funds, taxpayers’ money, spent on if the powers of the public sector are redirected to third parties close to the political elite. There can be no talk about the competence of the employees of these newly created organs, because the practice of transferring government functions is in itself flawed”.

And it’s not just Ukrainians who are noticing the level of EU-induced corruption in their country. The French politician Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who is the president of the “Debout la France” (Stand up France) party, stated during a live debate on November 28th, 2018 on the BFM TV channel the following:

“…We already should remedy the injustices that the working French people see everyday. My second point, concerning just France. Can we revise the useless points [of expenditure]? We voted in the Assembly, on Monday, during two hours, concerning two additional billion of euros net – exactly the sum of the tax from January 1st [the new fuel tax that the “Yellow Vests” are protesting against] – for a European Union, which costs for us €9 billion, and which subsidies Turkey, Albania, and Ukraine – crazy expenses!”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qNFxSLg4cHB7Y4ANP0I9i76KakLK7cXg/preview

I.e., he knows exactly what is going on, although he is sadly very much in the minority.

 

A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War

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The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The ‘Smiling Pope’ had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today’s world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People’s Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican’s own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father’s egalitarian ethos stayed with him. “The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted,” he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. “He talked particularly of his concern over ‘Los Desaparecidos’, people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome,” noted David Yallop in his book ‘In God’s Name’.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: “His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him ‘tirare fuori le unghie’, to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power.”

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his “tremendous power.” He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had died from a heart attack. But it wasn’t long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health. The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. “The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?” wrote David Yallop.

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a “state within a state.” The murky world of P2, and its leaders’ links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in ‘In God’s Name’.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of ‘Murder by the Grace of God’, points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul’s feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48. Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I ‘the Bolshevik Pope’ and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. “Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard,” he writes.

While there’s no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name ‘John Paul II’ as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican’s financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. “The single fact of John Paul II’s election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began… Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to ‘Solidarity’ in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca’s confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money  “if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope’s life.”

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, “ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. ‘The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,’ Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.” 

In 2011, a new book entitled ‘To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II’, which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane ‘greed is good’ model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for “grave social injustices” and acknowledged that Marxism contained “a kernel of truth.” He said that “the ideology of the market” made solidarity between people “difficult at best.” In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down ‘The Reds’, the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn’t fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the ‘Smiling Pope’ had lived.

By Neil Clark
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