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Friday, August 3, 2012

William Blum-Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II (A)

Killing Hope
U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II

a book by William Blum


 1. China - 1945 to 1960s: Was Mao Tse-tung just paranoid?
 2. Italy - 1947-1948: Free elections, Hollywood style
 3. Greece - 1947 to early 1950s: From cradle of democracy to client state
 4. The Philippines - 1940s and 1950s: America's oldest colony
 5. Korea - 1945-1953: Was it all that it appeared to be?
 6. Albania - 1949-1953: The proper English spy
 7. Eastern Europe - 1948-1956: Operation Splinter Factor
 8. Germany - 1950s: Everything from juvenile delinquency to terrorism
 9. Iran - 1953: Making it safe for the King of Kings
10. Guatemala - 1953-1954: While the world watched
11. Costa Rica - Mid-1950s: Trying to topple an ally - Part 1
12. Syria - 1956-1957: Purchasing a new government
13. Middle East - 1957-1958: The Eisenhower Doctrine claims another backyard for America
14. Indonesia - 1957-1958: War and pornography
15. Western Europe - 1950s and 1960s: Fronts within fronts within fronts
16. British Guiana - 1953-1964: The CIA's international labor mafia
17. Soviet Union - Late 1940s to 1960s: From spy planes to book publishing
18. Italy - 1950s to 1970s: Supporting the Cardinal's orphans and techno-fascism
19. Vietnam - 1950-1973: The Hearts and Minds Circus
20. Cambodia - 1955-1973: Prince Sihanouk walks the high-wire of neutralism
21. Laos - 1957-1973: L'Armée Clandestine
22. Haiti - 1959-1963: The Marines land, again
23. Guatemala - 1960: One good coup deserves another
24. France/Algeria - 1960s: L'état, c'est la CIA
25. Ecuador - 1960-1963: A text book of dirty tricks
26. The Congo - 1960-1964: The assassination of Patrice Lumumba
27. Brazil - 1961-1964: Introducing the marvelous new world of death squads
28. Peru - 1960-1965: Fort Bragg moves to the jungle
29. Dominican Republic - 1960-1966: Saving democracy from communism by getting rid of democracy
30. Cuba - 1959 to 1980s: The unforgivable revolution
31. Indonesia - 1965: Liquidating President Sukarno … and 500,000 others
    East Timor - 1975: And 200,000 more
32. Ghana - 1966: Kwame Nkrumah steps out of line
33. Uruguay - 1964-1970: Torture -- as American as apple pie
34. Chile - 1964-1973: A hammer and sickle stamped on your child's forehead
35. Greece - 1964-1974: "Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution," said
    the President of the United States
36. Bolivia - 1964-1975: Tracking down Che Guevara in the land of coup d'etat
37. Guatemala - 1962 to 1980s: A less publicized "final solution"
38. Costa Rica - 1970-1971: Trying to topple an ally -- Part 2
39. Iraq - 1972-1975: Covert action should not be confused with missionary work
40. Australia - 1973-1975: Another free election bites the dust
41. Angola - 1975 to 1980s: The Great Powers Poker Game
42. Zaire - 1975-1978: Mobutu and the CIA, a marriage made in heaven
43. Jamaica - 1976-1980: Kissinger's ultimatum
44. Seychelles - 1979-1981: Yet another area of great strategic importance
45. Grenada - 1979-1984: Lying -- one of the few growth industries in Washington
46. Morocco - 1983: A video nasty
47. Suriname - 1982-1984: Once again, the Cuban bogeyman
48. Libya - 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan meets his match
49. Nicaragua - 1981-1990: Destabilization in slow motion
50. Panama - 1969-1991: Double-crossing our drug supplier
51. Bulgaria 1990/Albania 1991: Teaching communists what democracy is all about
52. Iraq - 1990-1991: Desert holocaust
53. Afghanistan - 1979-1992: America's Jihad
54. El Salvador - 1980-1994: Human rights, Washington style
55. Haiti - 1986-1994: Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?
56. The American Empire - 1992 to present
Appendix I: This is How the Money Goes Round
Appendix II: Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1945
Appendix III: U. S. Government Assassination Plots


          Excerpts from the Introduction, 1987 edition

A brief history of the Cold War and anti-communism

Our fear that communism might someday
take over most of the world blinds us
to the fact that anti-communism already has.
Michael Parenti(1)

It was in the early days of the fighting in Vietnam that a Vietcong officer said to his American prisoner: "You were our heroes after the War. We read American books and saw American films, and a common phrase in those days was "to be as rich and as wise as an American". What happened?" (2)
     An American might have been asked something similar by a Guatemalan, an Indonesian or a Cuban during the ten years previous, or by a Uruguayan, a Chilean or a Greek in the decade subsequent. The remarkable international goodwill and credibility enjoyed by the United States at the close of the Second World War was dissipated country by country, intervention by intervention. The opportunity to build the war-ravaged world anew, to lay the foundations for peace, prosperity and justice, collapsed under the awful weight of anti-communism.
     The weight had been accumulating for some time; indeed, since Day One of the Russian Revolution. By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found in the newly-born Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to "strangle at its birth" the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill put it. (3)
     The young Churchill was Great Britain's Minister for War and Air during this period. Increasingly, it was he who directed the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Allies (Great Britain, the US, France, Japan and several other nations) on the side of the counter-revolutionary "White Army". Years later, Churchill the historian was to record his views of this singular affair for posterity:

Were they [the Allies] at war with Soviet Russia? Certainly not; but they shot Soviet Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They armed the enemies of the Soviet Government. They blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed its downfall. But war -- shocking! Interference -- shame! It was, they repeated, a matter of indifference to them how Russians settled their own internal affairs. They were impartial -- Bang! (4)

     What was there about this Bolshevik Revolution that so alarmed the most powerful nations in the world? What drove them to invade a land whose soldiers had recently fought alongside them for over three years and suffered more casualties than any other country on either side of the World War?
     The Bolsheviks had had the audacity to make a separate peace with Germany in order to take leave of a war they regarded as imperialist and not in any way their war, and to try and rebuild a terribly weary and devastated Russia. But the Bolsheviks had displayed the far greater audacity of overthrowing a capitalist-feudal system and proclaiming the first socialist state in the history of the world. This was uppityness writ incredibly large. This was the crime the Allies had to punish, the virus which had to be eradicated lest it spread to their own people.
     The invasion did not achieve its immediate purpose, but its consequences were nonetheless profound and persist to the present day. Professor D.F. Fleming, the Vanderbilt University historian of the Cold War, has noted:

For the American people the cosmic tragedy of the interventions in Russia does not exist, or it was an unimportant incident long forgotten. But for the Soviet peoples and their leaders the period was a time of endless killing, of looting and rapine, of plague and famine, of measureless suffering for scores of millions -- an experience burned into the very soul of a nation, not to be forgotten for many generations, if ever. Also for many years the harsh Soviet regimentations could all be justified by fear that the capitalist powers would be back to finish the job. It is not strange that in his address in New York, September 17, 1959, Premier Khrushchev should remind us of the interventions, "the time you sent your troops to quell the revolution", as he put it.(5)

     In what could be taken as a portent of superpower insensitivity, a 1920 Pentagon report on the intervention reads: "This expedition affords one of the finest examples in history of honorable, unselfish dealings ... under very difficult circumstances to be helpful to a people struggling to achieve a new liberty." (6)
     History does not tell us what a Soviet Union, allowed to develop in a "normal" way of its own choosing, would look like today. We do know, however, the nature of a Soviet Union attacked in its cradle, raised alone in an extremely hostile world, and, when it managed to survive to adulthood, overrun by the Nazi war machine with the blessings of the Western powers. The resulting insecurities and fears have inevitably led to deformities of character not unlike that found in an individual raised in a similar life-threatening manner.
     We in the West are never allowed to forget the political shortcomings (real and bogus) of the Soviet Union; at the same time we are never reminded of the history which lies behind it. The anti-communist propaganda campaign began even earlier than the military intervention. Before the year 1918 was over, expressions in the vein of "Red Peril", "the Bolshevik assault on civilization", and "menace to world by Reds is seen" had become commonplace in the pages of the New York Times.
     During February and March 1919, a US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings before which many "Bolshevik horror stories" were presented. The character of some of the testimony can be gauged by the headline in the usually sedate Times of 12 February 1919:


     Historian Frederick Lewis Schuman has written: "The net result of these hearings ... was to picture Soviet Russia as a kind of bedlam inhabited by abject slaves completely at the mercy of an organization of homicidal maniacs whose purpose was to destroy all traces of civilization and carry the nation back to barbarism." (7)
     Literally no story about the Bolsheviks was too contrived, too bizarre, too grotesque, or too perverted to be printed and widely believed -- from women being nationalized to babies being eaten (as the early pagans believed the Christians guilty of devouring their children; the same was believed of the Jews in the Middle Ages). The story about women with all the lurid connotations of state property, compulsory marriage, "free love", etc. "was broadcasted over the country through a thousand channels," wrote Schuman, "and perhaps did more than anything else to stamp the Russian Communists in the minds of most American citizens as criminal perverts". (8) This tale continued to receive great currency even after the State Department was obliged to announce that it was a fraud. (That the Soviets eat their babies was still being taught by the John Birch Society to its large audience at least as late as 1978.) (9)
     By the end of 1919, when the defeat of the Allies and the White Army appeared likely, the New York Times treated its readers to headlines and stories such as the following:

30 Dec. 1919: "Reds Seek War With America"
9 Jan. 1920: "`Official quarters' describe the Bolshevist
menace in the Middle East as ominous"
11 Jan. 1920: "Allied officials and diplomats [envisage] a
possible invasion of Europe"
13 Jan. 1920: "Allied diplomatic circles" fear an invasion of
16 Jan. 1920: A page-one headline, eight columns wide:
"Britain Facing War With Reds, Calls Council In Paris."
"Well-informed diplomats" expect both a military invasion
of Europe and a Soviet advance into Eastern and Southern
The following morning, however, we could read: "No War With
Russia, Allies To Trade With Her"
7 Feb. 1920: "Reds Raising Army To Attack India"
11 Feb. 1920: "Fear That Bolsheviki Will Now Invade Japanese

     Readers of the New York Times were asked to believe that all these invasions were to come from a nation that was shattered as few nations in history have been; a nation still recovering from a horrendous world war; in extreme chaos from a fundamental social revolution that was barely off the ground; engaged in a brutal civil war against forces backed by the major powers of the world; its industries, never advanced to begin with, in a shambles; and the country in the throes of a famine that was to leave many millions dead before it subsided.
     In 1920, The New Republic magazine presented a lengthy analysis of the news coverage by the New York Times of the Russian Revolution and the intervention. Amongst much else, it observed that in the two years following the November 1917 revolution, the Times had stated no less than 91 times that "the Soviets were nearing their rope's end or actually had reached it." (10)
     If this was reality as presented by the United States' "newspaper of record", one can imagine only with dismay the witch's brew the rest of the nation's newspapers were feeding to their readers.
     This, then, was the American people's first experience of a new social phenomenon that had come upon the world, their introductory education about the Soviet Union and this thing called "communism". The students have never recovered from the lesson. Neither has the Soviet Union.
     The military intervention came to an end but, with the sole and partial exception of the Second World War period, the propaganda offensive has never let up. In 1943 Life magazine devoted an entire issue in honor of the Soviet Union's accomplishments, going far beyond what was demanded by the need for wartime solidarity, going so far as to call Lenin "perhaps the greatest man of modern times". (11) Two years later, however, with Harry Truman sitting in the White House, such fraternity had no chance of surviving. Truman, after all, was the man who, the day after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, said: "If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious in any circumstances." (12)
     Much propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the Soviet-German treaty of 1939, made possible only by entirely ignoring the fact that the Russians were forced into the pact by the repeated refusal of the Western powers, particularly the United States and Great Britain, to unite with Moscow in a stand against Hitler; (13) as they likewise refused to come to the aid of the socialist-oriented Spanish government under siege by the German, Italian and Spanish fascists beginning in 1936. Stalin realized that if the West wouldn't save Spain, they certainly wouldn't save the Soviet Union.
     From the Red Scare of the 1920s to the McCarthyism of the 1950s to the Reagan Crusade against the Evil Empire of the 1980s, the American people have been subjected to a relentless anti-communist indoctrination. It is imbibed with their mother's milk, pictured in their comic books, spelled out in their school books; their daily paper offers them headlines that tell them all they need to know; ministers find sermons in it, politicians are elected with it, and Reader's Digest becomes rich on it.
     The fiercely-held conviction inevitably produced by this insidious assault upon the intellect is that a great damnation has been unleashed upon the world, possibly by the devil himself, but in the form of people; people not motivated by the same needs, fears, emotions, and personal morality that govern others of the species, but people engaged in an extremely clever, monolithic, international conspiracy dedicated to taking over the world and enslaving it; for reasons not always clear perhaps, but evil needs no motivation save evil itself. Moreover, any appearance or claim by these people to be rational human beings seeking a better kind of world or society is a sham, a cover-up, to delude others, and proof only of their cleverness; the repression and cruelties which have taken place in the Soviet Union are forever proof of the bankruptcy of virtue and the evil intentions of these people in whichever country they may be found, under whatever name they may call themselves; and, most important of all, the only choice open to anyone in the United States is between the American Way of Life and the Soviet Way of Life, that nothing lies between or beyond these two ways of making the world.
     This is how it looks to the simple folk of America. One finds that the sophisticated, when probed slightly beneath the surface of their academic language, see it exactly the same way.
     To the mind carefully brought to adulthood in the United States, the truths of anti-communism are self-evident, as self-evident as the flatness of the world once was to an earlier mind; as the Russian people believed that the victims of Stalin's purges were truly guilty of treason.

The foregoing slice of American history must be taken into account if one is to make sense of the vagaries of American foreign policy since the end of World War II, specifically the record, as presented in this book, of what the US military and the CIA and other branches of the US government have done to the peoples of the world.
     In 1918, the barons of American capital needed no reason for their war against communism other than the threat to their wealth and privilege, although their opposition was expressed in terms of moral indignation.
     During the period between the two world wars, US gunboat diplomacy operated in the Caribbean to make "The American Lake" safe for the fortunes of United Fruit and W.R. Grace & Co., at the same time taking care to warn of "the Bolshevik threat" to all that is decent from the likes of Nicaraguan rebel Augusto Sandino.
     By the end of the Second World War, every American past the age of 40 had been subjected to some 25 years of anti-communist radiation, the average incubation period needed to produce a malignancy. Anti-communism had developed a life of its own, independent of its capitalist father. Increasingly, in the post-war period, middle-aged Washington policy makers and diplomats saw the world out there as one composed of "communists" and "anti-communists", whether of nations, movements or individuals. This comic-strip vision of the world, with righteous American supermen fighting communist evil everywhere, had graduated from a cynical propaganda exercise to a moral imperative of US foreign policy.
     Even the concept of "non-communist", implying some measure of neutrality, has generally been accorded scant legitimacy in this paradigm. John Foster Dulles, one of the major architects of post-war US foreign policy, expressed this succinctly in his typically simple, moralistic way: "For us there are two sorts of people in the world: there are those who are Christians and support free enterprise and there are the others." (14) As several of the case studies in the present book confirm, Dulles put that creed into rigid practice.
     The word "communist" (as well as "Marxist") has been so overused and so abused by American leaders and the media as to render it virtually meaningless. (The Left has done the same to the word "fascist".) But merely having a name for something -- witches or flying saucers -- attaches a certain credence to it.
     At the same time, the American public, as we have seen, has been soundly conditioned to react Pavlovianly to the term: it means, still, the worst excesses of Stalin, from wholesale purges to Siberian slave-labor camps; it means, as Michael Parenti has observed, that "Classic Marxist-Leninist predictions [concerning world revolution] are treated as statements of intent directing all present-day communist actions." (15) It means "us" against "them".
     And "them" can mean a peasant in the Philippines, a mural-painter in Nicaragua, a legally-elected prime minister in British Guiana, or a European intellectual, a Cambodian neutralist, an African nationalist -- all, somehow, part of the same monolithic conspiracy; each, in some way, a threat to the American Way of Life; no land too small, too poor, or too far away to pose such a threat, the "communist threat".
     The cases presented in this book illustrate that it has been largely irrelevant whether the particular targets of intervention -- be they individuals, political parties, movements or governments -- called themselves "communist" or not. It has mattered little whether they were scholars of dialectical materialism or had never heard of Karl Marx; whether they were atheists or priests; whether a strong and influential Communist Party was in the picture or not; whether the government had come into being through violent revolution or peaceful elections ... all have been targets, all "communists".
     It has mattered still less that the Soviet KGB was in the picture. The assertion has been frequently voiced that the CIA carries out its dirty tricks largely in reaction to operations of the KGB which have been "even dirtier". This is a lie made out of whole cloth. There may be an isolated incident of such in the course of the CIA's life, but it has kept itself well hidden. The relationship between the two sinister agencies is marked by fraternization and respect for fellow professionals more than by hand-to-hand combat. Former CIA officer John Stockwell has written:

Actually, at least in more routine operations, case officers most fear the US ambassador and his staff, then restrictive headquarters cables, then curious, gossipy neighbors in the local community, as potential threats to operations. Next would come the local police, then the press. Last of all is the KGB -- in my twelve years of case officering I never saw or heard of a situation in which the KGB attacked or obstructed a CIA operation. (16)

     Stockwell adds that the various intelligence services do not want their world to be "complicated" by murdering each other.

It isn't done. If a CIA case officer has a flat tire in the dark of night on a lonely road, he will not hesitate to accept a ride from a KGB officer -- likely the two would detour to some bar for a drink together. In fact CIA and KGB officers entertain each other frequently in their homes. The CIA's files are full of mention of such relationships in almost every African station. (17)

     Proponents of "fighting fire with fire" come perilously close at times to arguing that if the KGB, for example, had a hand in the overthrow of the Czechoslovak government in 1968, it is OK for the CIA to have a hand in the overthrow of the Chilean government in 1973. It's as if the destruction of democracy by the KGB deposits funds in a bank account from which the CIA is then justified in making withdrawals.

What then has been the thread common to the diverse targets of American intervention which has brought down upon them the wrath, and often the firepower, of the world's most powerful nation? In virtually every case involving the Third World described in this book, it has been, in one form or another, a policy of "self-determination": the desire, born of perceived need and principle, to pursue a path of development independent of US foreign policy objectives. Most commonly, this has been manifested in (a) the ambition to free themselves from economic and political subservience to the United States; (b) the refusal to minimize relations with the socialist bloc, or suppress the left at home, or welcome an American military installation on their soil; in short, a refusal to be a pawn in the Cold War; or (c) the attempt to alter or replace a government which held to neither of these aspirations; i.e., a government supported by the United States.
     It cannot be emphasized too strongly that such a policy of independence has been viewed and expressed by numerous Third World leaders and revolutionaries as one not to be equated by definition to anti-Americanism or pro-communism, but as simply a determination to maintain a position of neutrality and non-alignment vis-ˆ-vis the two superpowers. Time and time again, however, it will be seen that the United States was not prepared to live with this proposition. Arbenz of Guatemala, Mossadegh of Iran, Sukarno of Indonesia, Nkrumah of Ghana, Jagan of British Guiana, Sihanouk of Cambodia ... all, insisted Uncle Sam, must declare themselves unequivocally on the side of "The Free World" or suffer the consequences. Nkrumah put the case for non-alignment as follows:

The experiment which we tried in Ghana was essentially one of developing the country in co-operation with the world as a whole. Non-alignment meant exactly what it said. We were not hostile to the countries of the socialist world in the way in which the governments of the old colonial territories were. It should be remembered that while Britain pursued at home co-existence with the Soviet Union this was never allowed to extend to British colonial territories. Books on socialism, which were published and circulated freely in Britain, were banned in the British colonial empire, and after Ghana became independent it was assumed abroad that it would continue to follow the same restrictive ideological approach. When we behaved as did the British in their relations with the socialist countries we were accused of being pro-Russian and introducing the most dangerous ideas into Africa. (18)

     It is reminiscent of the 19th-century American South, where many Southerners were deeply offended that so many of their black slaves had deserted to the Northern side in the Civil War. They had genuinely thought that the blacks should have been grateful for all their white masters had done for them, and that they were happy and content with their lot. The noted Louisiana surgeon and psychologist Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright argued that many of the slaves suffered from a form of mental illness, which he called "drapetomania", diagnosed as the uncontrollable urge to escape from slavery. In the second half of the 20th-century, this illness, in the Third World, has usually been called "communism".

Perhaps the most deeply ingrained reflex of knee-jerk anti-communism is the belief that the Soviet Union (or Cuba or Vietnam, etc., acting as Moscow's surrogate) is a clandestine force lurking behind the facade of self-determination, stirring up the hydra of revolution, or just plain trouble, here, there, and everywhere; yet another incarnation, although on a far grander scale, of the proverbial "outside agitator", he who has made his appearance regularly throughout history ... King George blamed the French for inciting the American colonies to revolt ... disillusioned American farmers and veterans protesting their onerous economic circumstances after the revolution (Shays' Rebellion) were branded as British agents out to wreck the new republic ... labor strikes in late-19th-century America were blamed on "anarchists" and "foreigners", during the First World War on "German agents", after the war on "Bolsheviks".
     And in the 1960s, said the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, J. Edgar Hoover "helped spread the view among the police ranks that any kind of mass protest is due to a conspiracy promulgated by agitators, often Communists, 'who misdirect otherwise contented people'." (19)
     The last is the key phrase, one which encapsulates the conspiracy mentality of those in power -- the idea that no people, except those living under the enemy, could be so miserable and discontent as to need recourse to revolution or even mass protest; that it is only the agitation of the outsider which misdirects them along this path.
     Accordingly, if Ronald Reagan were to concede that the masses of El Salvador have every good reason to rise up against their god-awful existence, it would bring into question his accusation, and the rationale for US intervention, that it is principally (only?) the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies who instigate the Salvadoreans: that seemingly magical power of communists everywhere who, with a twist of their red wrist, can transform peaceful, happy people into furious guerrillas. The CIA knows how difficult a feat this is. The Agency, as we shall see, tried to spark mass revolt in China, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Albania, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe with a singular lack of success. The Agency's scribes have laid the blame for these failures on the "closed" nature of the societies involved. But in non-communist countries, the CIA has had to resort to military coups or extra-legal chicanery to get its people into power. It has never been able to light the fire of popular revolution.
     For Washington to concede merit and virtue to a particular Third World insurgency would, moreover, raise the question: Why does not the United States, if it must intervene, take the side of the rebels? Not only might this better serve the cause of human rights and justice, but it would shut out the Russians from their alleged role. What better way to frustrate the International Communist Conspiracy? But this is a question that dares not speak its name in the Oval Office, a question that is relevant to many of the cases in this book.
     Instead, the United States remains committed to its all-too-familiar policy of establishing and/or supporting the most vile tyrannies in the world, whose outrages against their own people confront us daily in the pages of our newspapers: brutal massacres; systematic, sophisticated torture; public whippings; soldiers and police firing into crowds; government-supported death squads; tens of thousands of disappeared persons; extreme economic deprivation ... a way of life that is virtually a monopoly held by America's allies, from Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador to Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia, all members in good standing of the Holy War Against Communism, all members of "The Free World", that region of which we hear so much and see so little.
     The restrictions on civil liberties found in the communist bloc, as severe as they are, pale by comparison to the cottage-industry Auschwitzes of "The Free World", and, except in that curious mental landscape inhabited by The Compleat Anti-Communist, can have little or nothing to do with the sundry American interventions supposedly in the cause of a higher good.
     It is interesting to note that as commonplace as it is for American leaders to speak of freedom and democracy while supporting dictatorships, so do Russian leaders speak of wars of liberation, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism while doing extremely little to actually further these causes, American propaganda notwithstanding. The Soviets like to be thought of as champions of the Third World, but they have stood by doing little more than going "tsk, tsk" as progressive movements and governments, even Communist Parties, in Greece, Guatemala, British Guiana, Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere have gone to the wall with American complicity.

During the early 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency instigated several military incursions into Communist China. In 1960, CIA planes, without any provocation, bombed the sovereign nation of Guatemala. In 1973, the Agency encouraged a bloody revolt against the government of Iraq. In the American mass media at the time, and therefore in the American mind, these events did not happen.
     "We didn't know what was happening", became a cliché used to ridicule those Germans who claimed ignorance of the events which took place under the Nazis. Yet, was their stock answer as far-fetched as we'd like to think? It is sobering to reflect that in our era of instant world-wide communications, the United States has, on many occasions, been able to mount a large- or small-scale military operation or undertake another, equally blatant, form of intervention without the American public being aware of it until years later, if ever. Often the only report of the event or of US involvement was a passing reference to the fact that a communist government had made certain charges -- just the kind of "news" the American public has been well conditioned to dismiss out of hand, and the press not to follow up; as the German people were taught that reports from abroad of Nazi wrong-doings were no more than communist propaganda.
     With few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact, quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten, bursting into the foreground only when extraordinary circumstances have compelled it, such as the Iranians holding US embassy personnel and other Americans hostage in Teheran in 1979, which produced a rash of articles on the role played by the United States in the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953. It was as if editors had been spurred into thinking: "Hey, just what did we do in Iran to make all those people hate us so?"
     There have been a lot of Irans in America's recent past, but in the absence of the New York Daily News or the Los Angeles Times conspicuously grabbing the reader by the collar and pressing against his face the full implication of the deed ... in the absence of NBC putting it all into real pictures of real people on the receiving end ... in such absence the incidents become non-events for the large majority of Americans, and they can honestly say "We didn't know what was happening."
     Former Chinese Premier Chou En-lai once observed: "One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory."
     It's probably even worse than he realized. During the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident in Pennsylvania in 1979, a Japanese journalist, Atsuo Kaneko of the Japanese Kyoto News Service, spent several hours interviewing people temporarily housed at a hockey rink -- mostly children, pregnant women and young mothers. He discovered that none of them had heard of Hiroshima. Mention of the name drew a blank. (20)
     And in 1982, a judge in Oakland, California said he was appalled when some 50 prospective jurors for a death-penalty murder trial were questioned and "none of them knew who Hitler was". (21)
     To the foreign policy oligarchy in Washington, it is more than delightful. It is sine qua non.
     So obscured is the comprehensive record of American interventions that when, in 1975, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress was asked to undertake a study of covert activities of the CIA to date, it was able to come up with but a very minor portion of the overseas incidents presented in this book for the same period. (22)
     For all of this information that has made its way into popular consciousness, or into school texts, encyclopedias, or other standard reference works, there might as well exist strict censorship in the United States.
     The reader is invited to look through the relevant sections of the three principal American encyclopedias, Americana, Britannica, and Colliers. The image of encyclopedias as the final repository of objective knowledge takes a beating. What is tantamount to a non-recognition of American interventions may very well be due to these esteemed works employing a criterion similar to that of Washington officials as reflected in the Pentagon Papers. The New York Times summarized this highly interesting phenomenon thusly:

Clandestine warfare against North Vietnam, for example, is not seen ... as violating the Geneva Accords of 1954, which ended the French Indochina War, or as conflicting with the public policy pronouncements of the various administrations. Clandestine warfare, because it is covert, does not exist as far as treaties and public posture are concerned. Further, secret commitments to other nations are not sensed as infringing on the treaty-making powers of the Senate, because they are not publicly acknowledged. (23)

     The de facto censorship which leaves so many Americans functionally illiterate about the history of US foreign affairs may be all the more effective because it is not so much official, heavy-handed or conspiratorial, as it is woven artlessly into the fabric of education and media. No conspiracy is needed. The editors of Reader's Digest and U.S. News and World Report do not need to meet covertly with the representative from NBC in an FBI safe-house to plan next month's stories and programs; for the simple truth is that these individuals would not have reached the positions they occupy if they themselves had not all been guided through the same tunnel of camouflaged history and emerged with the same selective memory and conventional wisdom.

"The upheaval in China is a revolution which, if we analyze it, we will see is prompted by the same things that prompted the British, French and American revolutions." (24) A cosmopolitan and generous sentiment of Dean Rusk, then Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, later Secretary of State. At precisely the same time as Mr. Rusk's talk in 1950, others in his government were actively plotting the downfall of the Chinese revolutionary government.
     This has been a common phenomenon. For many of the cases described in the following pages, one can find statements of high or middle-level Washington officials which put into question the policy of intervention; which expressed misgivings based either on principle (sometimes the better side of American liberalism) or concern that the intervention would not serve any worthwhile end, might even result in disaster. I have attached little weight to such dissenting statements as, indeed, in the final analysis, did Washington decision-makers who, in controversial world situations, could be relied upon to play the anti-communist card. In presenting the interventions in this manner, I am declaring that American foreign policy is what American foreign policy does.

Excerpts from the Introduction, 1995 edition

     In 1993, I came across a review of a book about people who deny that the Nazi Holocaust actually occurred. I wrote to the author, a university professor, telling her that her book made me wonder whether she knew that an American holocaust had taken place, and that the denial of it put the denial of the Nazi one to shame. So broad and deep is the denial of the American holocaust, I said, that the denyers are not even aware that the claimers or their claim exist. Yet, a few million people have died in the American holocaust and many more millions have been condemned to lives of misery and torture as a result of US interventions extending from China and Greece in the 1940s to Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s. I enclosed a listing of these interventions, which is of course the subject of the present book.
     In my letter I also offered to exchange a copy of the earlier edition of my book for a copy of hers, but she wrote back informing me that she was not in a position to do so. And that was all she said. She made no comment whatsoever about the remainder of my letter -- the part dealing with denying the American holocaust -- not even to acknowledge that I had raised the matter. The irony of a scholar on the subject of denying the Nazi Holocaust engaging in such denial about the American holocaust was classic indeed. I was puzzled why the good professor had bothered to respond at all.
     Clearly, if my thesis could receive such a non-response from such a person, I and my thesis faced an extremely steep uphill struggle. In the 1930s, and again after the war in the 1940s and '50s, anti-communists of various stripes in the United States tried their best to expose the crimes of the Soviet Union, such as the purge trials and the mass murders. But a strange thing happened. The truth did not seem to matter. American Communists and fellow travelers continued to support the Kremlin. Even allowing for the exaggeration and disinformation regularly disbursed by the anti-communists which damaged their credibility, the continued ignorance and/or denial by the American leftists is remarkable.
     At the close of the Second World War, when the victorious Allies discovered the German concentration camps, in some cases German citizens from nearby towns were brought to the camp to come face-to-face with the institution, the piles of corpses, and the still-living skeletal people; some of the respectable burghers were even forced to bury the dead. What might be the effect upon the American psyche if the true-believers and denyers were compelled to witness the consequences of the past half-century of US foreign policy close up? What if all the nice, clean-cut, wholesome American boys who dropped an infinite tonnage of bombs, on a dozen different countries, on people they knew nothing about -- characters in a video game -- had to come down to earth and look upon and smell the burning flesh?

It has become conventional wisdom that it was the relentlessly tough anti-communist policies of the Reagan Administration, with its heated-up arms race, that led to the collapse and reformation of the Soviet Union and its satellites. American history books may have already begun to chisel this thesis into marble. The Tories in Great Britain say that Margaret Thatcher and her unflinching policies contributed to the miracle as well. The East Germans were believers too. When Ronald Reagan visited East Berlin, the people there cheered him and thanked him "for his role in liberating the East". Even many leftist analysts, particularly those of a conspiracy bent, are believers.
     But this view is not universally held; nor should it be.
     Long the leading Soviet expert on the United States, Georgi Arbatov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for the Study of the U.S.A. and Canada, wrote his memoirs in 1992. A Los Angeles Times book review by Robert Scheer summed up a portion of it:

Arbatov understood all too well the failings of Soviet totalitarianism in comparison to the economy and politics of the West. It is clear from this candid and nuanced memoir that the movement for change had been developing steadily inside the highest corridors of power ever since the death of Stalin. Arbatov not only provides considerable evidence for the controversial notion that this change would have come about without foreign pressure, he insists that the U.S. military buildup during the Reagan years actually impeded this development. (25)

     George F. Kennan agrees. The former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of "containment" of the same country, asserts that "the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish." He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. "Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union." (26)
     Though the arms-race spending undoubtedly damaged the fabric of the Soviet civilian economy and society even more than it did in the United States, this had been going on for 40 years by the time Mikhail Gorbachev came to power without the slightest hint of impending doom. Gorbachev's close adviser, Aleksandr Yakovlev, when asked whether the Reagan administration's higher military spending, combined with its "Evil Empire" rhetoric, forced the Soviet Union into a more conciliatory position, responded:

It played no role. None. I can tell you that with the fullest responsibility. Gorbachev and I were ready for changes in our policy regardless of whether the American president was Reagan, or Kennedy, or someone even more liberal. It was clear that our military spending was enormous and we had to reduce it. (27)

     Understandably, some Russians might be reluctant to admit that they were forced to make revolutionary changes by their arch enemy, to admit that they lost the Cold War. However, on this question we don't have to rely on the opinion of any individual, Russian or American. We merely have to look at the historical facts.
     From the late 1940s to around the mid-1960s, it was an American policy objective to instigate the downfall of the Soviet government as well as several Eastern European regimes. Many hundreds of Russian exiles were organized, trained and equipped by the CIA, then sneaked back into their homeland to set up espionage rings, to stir up armed political struggle, and to carry out acts of assassination and sabotage, such as derailing trains, wrecking bridges, damaging arms factories and power plants, and so on. The Soviet government, which captured many of these men, was of course fully aware of who was behind all this.
     Compared to this policy, that of the Reagan administration could be categorized as one of virtual capitulation. Yet what were the fruits of this ultra-tough anti-communist policy? Repeated serious confrontations between the United States and the Soviet Union in Berlin, Cuba and elsewhere, the Soviet interventions into Hungary and Czechoslovakia, creation of the Warsaw Pact (in direct reaction to NATO), no glasnost, no perestroika, only pervasive suspicion, cynicism and hostility on both sides. It turned out that the Russians were human after all -- they responded to toughness with toughness. And the corollary: there was for many years a close correlation between the amicability of US-Soviet relations and the number of Jews allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union. (28) Softness produced softness.
     If there's anyone to attribute the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to, both the beneficial ones and those questionable, it is of course Mikhail Gorbachev and the activists he inspired. It should be remembered that Reagan was in office for over four years before Gorbachev came to power, and Thatcher for six years, but in that period of time nothing of any significance in the way of Soviet reform took place despite Reagan's and Thatcher's unremitting malice toward the communist state.

The argument is frequently advanced that it's easy in hindsight to disparage the American cold-war mania for a national security state -- with all its advanced paranoia and absurdities, its NATO-supra-state-military juggernaut, its early-warning systems and air-raid drills, its nuclear silos and U-2s -- but that after the War in Europe the Soviets did indeed appear to be a ten-foot-tall world-wide monster threat.
     This argument breaks up on the rocks of a single question, which was all one had to ask back then: Why would the Soviets want to invade Western Europe or bomb the United States? They clearly had nothing to gain by such actions except the almost certain destruction of their country, which they were painstakingly rebuilding once again after the devastation of the war.
     By the 1980s, the question that still dared not be asked had given birth to a $300 billion military budget and Star Wars.
     There are available, in fact, numerous internal documents from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the CIA from the postwar period, wherein one political analyst after another makes clear his serious skepticism of "The Soviet Threat" -- revealing the Russians' critical military weaknesses and/or questioning their alleged aggressive intentions -- while high officials, including the president, were publicly presenting a message explicitly the opposite. (29)
     Historian Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, described this phenomenon:

Architects of U.S. policy would have to make their case "clearer than the truth," and "bludgeon the mass mind of top government," as Secretary of State Dean Acheson ... puts it. They do. The new Central Intelligence Agency begins a systematic overstatement of Soviet military expenditures. Magically, the sclerotic Soviet economy is made to hum and climb on U.S. government charts. To Stalin's horse-drawn army -- complete with shoddy equipment, war-torn roads and spurious morale -- the Pentagon adds phantom divisions, then attributes invasion scenarios to the new forces for good measure.
   U.S. officials "exaggerated Soviet capabilities and intentions to such an extent," says a subsequent study of the archives, "that it is surprising anyone took them seriously." Fed by somber government claims and reverberating public fear, the U.S. press and people have no trouble. (30)

     Nonetheless, the argument insists, there were many officials in high positions who simply and sincerely misunderstood the Soviet signals. The Soviet Union was, after all, a highly oppressive and secretive society, particularly before Stalin died in 1953. Apropos of this, former conservative member of the British Parliament Enoch Powell observed in 1983:

International misunderstanding is almost wholly voluntary: it is that contradiction in terms, intentional misunderstanding -- a contradiction, because in order to misunderstand deliberately, you must at least suspect if not actually understand what you intend to misunderstand. ... [The US misunderstanding of the USSR has] the function of sustaining a myth -- the myth of the United States as "the last, best hope of mankind." St. George and the Dragon is a poor show without a real dragon, the bigger and scalier the better, ideally with flames coming out of its mouth. The misunderstanding of Soviet Russia has become indispensable to the self-esteem of the American nation: he will not be regarded with benevolence who seeks, however ineffectually, to deprive them of it. (31)

     It can be argued as well that the belief of the Nazis in the great danger posed by the "International Jewish Conspiracy" must be considered before condemning the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
     Both the Americans and the Germans believed their own propaganda, or pretended to. In reading Mein Kampf, one is struck by the fact that a significant part of what Hitler wrote about Jews reads very much like an American anti-communist writing about communists: He starts with the premise that the Jews (communists) are evil and want to dominate the world; then, any behavior which appears to contradict this is regarded as simply a ploy to fool people and further their evil ends; this behavior is always part of a conspiracy and many people are taken in. He ascribes to the Jews great, almost mystical, power to manipulate societies and economies. He blames Jews for the ills arising from the industrial revolution, e.g., class divisions and hatred. He decries the Jews' internationalism and lack of national patriotism.
     There were of course those Cold Warriors whose take on the Kremlin was that its master plan for world domination was nothing so gross as an invasion of Western Europe or dropping bombs on the United States. The ever more subtle -- one could say fiendishly-clever -- plan was for subversion ... from the inside ... country by country ... throughout the Third World ... eventually surrounding and strangling the First World ... verily an International Communist Conspiracy, "a conspiracy," said Senator Joseph McCarthy, "on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man."
     This is the primary focus of this book: how the United States intervened all over the world to combat this conspiracy wherever and whenever it reared its ugly head.
     Did this International Communist Conspiracy actually exist?
     If it actually existed, why did the Cold Warriors of the CIA and other government agencies have to go to such extraordinary lengths of exaggeration? If they really and truly believed in the existence of a diabolic, monolithic International Communist Conspiracy, why did they have to invent so much about it to convince the American people, the Congress, and the rest of the world of its evil existence? Why did they have to stage manage, entrap, plant evidence, plant stories, create phony documents? The following pages are packed with numerous anti-commiespeak examples of US-government and media inventions about "the Soviet threat", "the Chinese threat", and "the Cuban threat". And all the while, at the same time, we were being flailed with scare stories: in the 1950s, there was "the Bomber Gap" between the US and the Soviet Union, and the "civil defense gap". Then came "the Missile Gap". Followed by "the Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) Gap". In the 1980s, it was "the Spending Gap". Finally, "the Laser Gap". And they were all lies.
     We now know that the CIA of Ronald Reagan and William Casey regularly "politicized intelligence assessments" to support the anti-Soviet bias of their administration, and suppressed reports, even those from its own analysts, which contradicted this bias. We now know that the CIA and the Pentagon regularly overestimated the economic and military strength of the Soviet Union, and exaggerated the scale of Soviet nuclear tests and the number of "violations" of existing test-ban treaties, which Washington then accused the Russians of. (32) All to create a larger and meaner enemy, a bigger national security budget, and give security and meaning to the Cold Warriors' own jobs.

Post-Cold War, New-World-Order time, it looks good for the military-Industrial- Intelligence Complex and their global partners in crime, the World Bank and the IMF. They've got their NAFTA, and soon their World Trade Organization. They're dictating economic, political and social development all over the Third World and Eastern Europe. Moscow's reaction to events anywhere is no longer a restraining consideration. The UN's Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations, 15 years in the making, is dead. Everything in sight is being deregulated and privatized. Capital prowls the globe with a ravenous freedom it hasn't enjoyed since before World War I, operating free of friction, free of gravity. The world has been made safe for the transnational corporation. (33)
     Will this mean any better life for the multitudes than the Cold War brought? Any more regard for the common folk than there's been since they fell off the cosmic agenda centuries ago? "By all means," says Capital, offering another warmed-up version of the "trickle down" theory, the principle that the poor, who must subsist on table scraps dropped by the rich, can best be served by giving the rich bigger meals.
     The boys of Capital, they also chortle in their martinis about the death of socialism. The word has been banned from polite conversation. And they hope that no one will notice that every socialist experiment of any significance in the twentieth century -- without exception -- has either been crushed, overthrown, or invaded, or corrupted, perverted, subverted, or destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States. Not one socialist government or movement -- from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in Salvador -- not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home.
     It's as if the Wright brothers' first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon this, took notice of the consequences, nodded their collective heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Man shall never fly.

1. Michael Parenti, The Anti-Communist Impulse (Random House, NY, 1969) p.4
2. Washington Post, 24 October 1965, article by Stanley Karnow.
3. Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV, The Hinge of Fate (London, 1951), p. 428.
4. Winston Churchill, The World Crisis: The Aftermath (London, 1929), p. 235.
5. D.F. Fleming, "The Western Intervention in the Soviet Union, 1918-1920", New World Review (New York), Fall 1967; see also Fleming, The Cold War and its Origins, 1917-1960 (New York, 1961), pp. 16-35.
6. Los Angeles Times, 2 September 1991, p. 1.
7. Frederick L. Schuman, American Policy Toward Russia Since 1917 (New York, 1928), p. 125.
8. Ibid., p. 154.
9. San Francisco Chronicle, 4 October 1978, p. 4.
10. New Republic, 4 August 1920, a 42-page analysis by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz.
11. Life, 29 March 1943, p. 29.
12. New York Times, 24 June 1941; for an interesting account of how US officials laid the groundwork for the Cold War during and immediately after World War 2, see the first chapter of Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower (New York, 1981), a study of previously classified papers at the Eisenhower Library.
13. This has been well documented and would be "common knowledge" if not for its shameful implications. See, e.g., the British Cabinet papers for 1939, summarized in the Manchester Guardian, 1 January 1970; also Fleming, The Cold War, pp. 48-97.
14. Related by former French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau in a recorded interview for the Dulles Oral History Project, Princeton University Library; cited in Roger Morgan, The United States and West Germany, 1945-1973: A Study in Alliance Politics (Oxford University Press, London, 1974), p. 54, my translation from the French.
15. Michael Parenti, The Anti-Communist Impulse (Random House, NY, 1969) p. 35.
16. John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (New York, 1978), p. 101. The expressions "CIA officer" or "case officer" are used throughout the present book to denote regular, full-time, career employees of the Agency, as opposed to "agent", someone working for the CIA on an ad hoc basis. Other sources which are quoted, it will be seen, tend to incorrectly use the word "agent" to cover both categories.
17. Ibid., p. 238.
18. Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana (London, 1968), pp. 71-2.
19. The full quotation is from the New York Times, 11 January 1969, p. 1; the inside quotation is that of the National Commission.
20. Mother Jones magazine (San Francisco), April 1981, p. 5.
21. San Francisco Chronicle, 14 January 1982, p. 2.
22. Richard F. Grimmett, Reported Foreign and Domestic Covert Activities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency: 1950-1974, (Library of Congress) 18 February 1975.
23. The Pentagon Papers (N.Y. Times edition, 1971), p. xiii.
24. Speech before the World Affairs Council at the University of Pennsylvania, 13 January 1950, cited in the Republican Congressional Committee Newsletter, 20 September 1965.
25. Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times Book Review, 27 September 1992, review of Georgi Arbatov, The System: An Insider's Life in Soviet Politics (Times Books, New York, 1992)
26. International Herald Tribune, 29 October 1992, p. 4.
27. The New Yorker, 2 November 1992, p. 6.
28. Los Angeles Times, 2 December 1988: emigration of Soviet Jews peaked at 51,330 in 1979 and fell to about 1,000 a year in the mid-1980s during the Reagan administration (1981-89); in 1988 it was at 16,572.
29. a) Frank Kofsky, Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948: A Successful Campaign to Deceive the Nation (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1993), passim, particularly Appendix A; the book is replete with portions of such documents written by diplomatic, intelligence and military analysts in the 1940s; the war scare was undertaken to push through the administration's foreign policy program, inaugurate a huge military buildup, and bail out the near-bankrupt aircraft industry.
   b) Declassified Documents Reference System: indexes, abstracts, and documents on microfiche, annual series, arranged by particular government agencies and year of declassification.
   c) Foreign Relations of the United States (Department of State), annual series, internal documents published about 25 to 35 years after the fact.
30. Los Angeles Times, 29 December 1991, p. M1.
31. The Guardian (London), 10 October 1983, p. 9.
32. a) Anne H. Cahn, "How We Got Oversold on Overkill", Los Angeles Times, 23 July 1993, based on testimony before Congress, 10 June 1993, of Eleanor Chelimsky, Assistant Comptroller-General of the General Accounting Office, about a GAO study; see related story in New York Times, 28 June 1993, p.10
   b) Los Angeles Times, 15 September 1991, p. 1; 26 October 1991.
   c) The Guardian (London), 4 March 1983; 20 January 1984; 3 April 1986.
   d) Arthur Macy Cox, "Why the U.S., Since 1977, Has Been Misperceiving Soviet Military Strength", New York Times, 20 October 1980, p. 19; Cox was formerly an official with the State Department and the CIA.
33. For further discussion of these points, see:
   a) Walden Bello, Dark Victory: The United States, Structural Adjustment and Global Poverty (Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland, CA, 1994), passim.
   b) Multinational Monitor (Washington), July/August 1994, special issue on The World Bank.
   c) Doug Henwood, "The U.S. Economy: The Enemy Within", Covert Action Quarterly (Washington, DC), Summer 1992, No. 41, pp. 45-9.
   d) Joel Bleifuss, "The Death of Nations", In These Times(Chicago) 27 June - 10 July 1994, p. 12 (UN Code).

2. Italy 1947-1948: 
Free elections: Hollywood style      

"Those who do not believe in the ideology of the United States, shall not be allowed to stay in the United States," declared the American Attorney General, Tom Clark, in January 1948.{1}
     In March, the Justice Department, over which Clark presided, determined that Italians who did not believe in the ideology of the United States would not be allowed to emigrate to, or even enter, the United States.
     This was but one tactic in a remarkable American campaign to ensure that Italians who did not believe in the ideology of the United States would not be allowed to form a government of a differing ideology in Italy in their election of 1948.
     Two years earlier, the Italian Communist Party (PCI), one of the largest in the world, and the Socialist Party (PSI) had together garnered more votes and more seats in the Constituent Assembly election than the Christian Democrats. But the two parties of the left had run separate candidates and thus had to be content with some ministerial posts in a coalition cabinet under a Christian Democrat premier. The results, nonetheless, spoke plainly enough to put the fear of Marx into the Truman administration.
     For the 1948 election, scheduled for 18 April, the PCI and PSI united to form the Popular Democratic Front (FDP) and in February won municipal elections in Pescara with a 10 percent increase in their vote over 1946. The Christian Democrats ran a poor second. The prospect of the left winning control of the Italian government loomed larger than ever before. It was at this point that the US began to train its big economic and political guns upon the Italian people. All the good ol' Yankee know-how, all the Madison Avenue savvy in the art of swaying public opinion, all the Hollywood razzmatazz would be brought to bear on the "target market".
     Pressing domestic needs in Italy, such as agricultural and economic reform, the absence of which produced abysmal extremes of wealth and poverty, were not to be the issues of the day. The lines of battle would be drawn around the question of "democracy" vs. "communism" (the idea of "capitalism" remaining discreetly to one side). The fact that the Communists had been the single most active anti-fascist group in Italy during the war, undergoing ruthless persecution, while the Christian Democrat government of 1948 and other electoral opponents on the right were riddled through with collaborators, monarchists and plain unreconstructed fascists ... this too would be ignored; indeed, turned around. It was now a matter of Communist "dictatorship" vs. their adversaries' love of "freedom": this was presumed 
a priori. As one example, a group of American congressmen visited Italy in summer 1947 and casually and arbitrarily concluded that "The country is under great pressure from within and without to veer to the left and adopt a totalitarian-collective national organization."{2}
      To make any of this at all credible, the whole picture had to be pushed and squeezed into the frame of The American Way of Life vs. The Soviet Way of Life, a specious proposition which must have come as somewhat of a shock to leftists who regarded themselves as Italian and neither Russian nor American.
      In February 1948, after non-Communist ministers in Czechoslovakia had boycotted cabinet meetings over a dispute concerning police hiring practices, the Communist government dissolved the coalition cabinet and took sole power. The Voice of America pointed to this event repeatedly, as a warning to the Italian people of the fate awaiting them if Italy "went Communist" (and used as well by anti-communists for decades afterward as a prime example of communist duplicity). Yet, by all appearances, the Italian Christian Democrat government and the American government had conspired the previous year in an even more blatant usurpation of power.
     In January 1947, when Italian Premier Alcide de Gasperi visited Washington at the United States' invitation, his overriding concern was to plead for crucial financial assistance for his war-torn, impoverished country. American officials may have had a different priority. Three days after returning to Italy, de Gasperi unexpectedly dissolved his cabinet, which included several Communists and Socialists. The press reported that many people in Italy believed that de Gasperi's action was related to his visit to the United States and was aimed at decreasing leftist, principally Communist, influence in the government. After two weeks of tortuous delay, the formation of a center or center-right government sought by de Gasperi proved infeasible; the new cabinet still included Communists and Socialists although the left had lost key positions, notably the ministries of foreign affairs and finance.
     From this point until May, when de Gasperi's deputy, Ivan Lombardo, led a mission to Washington to renew the request for aid, promised loans were "frozen" by the United States for reasons not very clear. On several occasions during this period the Italian left asserted their belief that the aid was being held up pending the ouster of leftists from the cabinet. 
The New York Times was moved to note that, "Some observers here feel that a further Leftward swing in Italy would retard aid." As matters turned out, the day Lombardo arrived in Washington, de Gasperi again dissolved his entire cabinet and suggested that the new cabinet would manage without the benefit of leftist members. This was indeed what occurred, and over the ensuing few months, exceedingly generous American financial aid flowed into Italy, in addition to the cancelation of the nation's $1 billion debt to the United States.{3}
      At the very same time, France, which was also heavily dependent upon American financial aid, ousted all its Communist ministers as well. In this case there was an immediate rationale: the refusal of the Communist ministers to support Premier Ramadier in a vote of confidence over a wage freeze. Despite this, the ouster was regarded as a "surprise" and considered "bold" in France, and opinion was widespread that American loans were being used, or would be used, to force France to align with the US. Said Ramadier: "A little of our independence is departing from us with each loan we obtain."{4}

As the last month of the 1948 election campaign began, 
Time magazine pronounced the possible leftist victory to be "the brink of catastrophe".{5}
     "It was primarily this fear," William Colby, former Director of the CIA, has written, "that had led to the formation of the Office of Policy Coordination, which gave the CIA the capability to undertake covert political, propaganda, and paramilitary operations in the first place."{6} But covert operations, as far as is known, played a relatively minor role in the American campaign to break the back of the Italian left. It was the very overtness of the endeavor, without any apparent embarrassment, that stamps the whole thing with such uniqueness and arrogance -- one might say swagger. The fortunes of the FDP slid downhill with surprising acceleration in the face of an awesome mobilization of resources such as the following:{7}                     
 go to notes 
* A massive letter writing campaign from Americans of Italian extraction to their relatives and friends in Italy -- at first written by individuals in their own words or guided by "sample letters" in newspapers, soon expanded to mass-produced, pre- written, postage-paid form letters, cablegrams, "educational circulars", and posters, needing only an address and signature. And -- from a group calling itself The Committee to Aid Democracy in Italy -- half a million picture postcards illustrating the gruesome fate awaiting Italy if it voted for "dictatorship" or "foreign dictatorship". In all, an estimated 10 million pieces of mail were written and distributed by newspapers, radio stations, churches, the American Legion, wealthy individuals, etc.; and business advertisements now included offers to send letters airmail to Italy even if you didn't buy the product. All this with the publicly expressed approval of the Acting Secretary of State and the Post Office which inaugurated special "Freedom Flights" to give greater publicity to the dispatch of the mail to Italy.
The form letters contained messages such as: "A communist victory would ruin Italy. The United States would withdraw aid and a world war would probably result." ... "We implore you not to throw our beautiful Italy into the arms of that cruel despot communism. America hasn't anything against communism in Russia [sic], but why impose it on other people, other lands, in that way putting out the torch of liberty?" ... "If the forces of true democracy should lose in the Italian election, the American Government will not send any more money to Italy and we won't send any more money to you, our relatives."
These were by no means the least sophisticated of the messages. Other themes emphasized were Russian domination of Italy, loss of religion and the church, loss of family life, loss of home and land.
Veteran newsman Howard K. Smith pointed out at the time that "For an Italian peasant a telegram from anywhere is a wondrous thing; and a cable from the terrestrial paradise of America is not lightly to be disregarded."
The letters threatening to cut off gifts may have been equally intimidating. "Such letters," wrote a Christian Democrat official in an Italian newspaper, "struck home in southern Italian and Sicilian villages with the force of lightning." A 1949 poll indicated that 16 percent of Italians claimed relatives in the United States with whom they were in touch; this, apparently, was in addition to friends there.
* The State Department backed up the warnings in the letters by announcing that "If the Communists should win ... there would be no further question of assistance from the United States." The Italian left felt compelled to regularly assure voters that this would not really happen. This, in turn, inspired American officials, including Secretary of State George Marshall, to repeat the threat. (Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.)* A daily series of direct short-wave broadcasts to Italy backed by the State Department and featuring prominent Americans. (The State Department estimated that there were 1.2 million short-wave receivers in Italy as of 1946.) The Attorney General went on the air and assured the Italian people that the election was a "choice between democracy and communism, between God and godlessness, between order and chaos." William Donovan, the wartime head of the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) warned that "under a communist dictatorship in Italy," many of the "nation's industrial plants would be dismantled and shipped to Russia and millions of Italy's workers would be deported to Russia for forced labor." If this were not enough to impress the Italian listeners, a parade of unknown but passionate refugees from Eastern Europe went before the microphone to recount horror stories of life behind "The Iron Curtain".* Several commercial radio stations broadcast to Italy special services held in American Catholic churches to pray for the Pope in "this, his most critical hour". On one station, during an entire week, hundreds of Italian-Americans from all walks of life delivered one-minute messages to Italy which were relayed through the short-wave station. Station WOV in New York invited Italian war brides to transcribe a personal message to their families back home. The station then mailed the recordings to Italy.* Voice of America daily broadcasts into Italy were sharply increased, highlighting news of American assistance or gestures of friendship to Italy. A sky-full of show-biz stars, including Frank Sinatra and Gary Cooper, recorded a series of radio programs designed to win friends and influence the vote in Italy. Five broadcasts of Italian-American housewives were aired, and Italian-Americans with some leftist credentials were also enlisted for the cause. Labor leader Luigi Antonini called upon Italians to "smash the Muscovite fifth column" which "follows the orders of the ferocious Moscow tyranny," or else Italy would become an "enemy totalitarian country".
To counter Communist charges in Italy that negroes in the United States were denied opportunities, the VOA broadcast the story of a negro couple who had made a fortune in the junk business and built a hospital for their people in Oklahoma City. (It should be remembered that in 1948 American negroes had not yet reached the status of second-class citizens.)
* Italian radio stations carried a one-hour show from Hollywood put on to raise money for the orphans of Italian pilots who had died in the war. (It was not reported if the same was done for the orphans of German pilots.)* American officials in Italy widely distributed leaflets extolling US economic aid and staged exhibitions among low-income groups. The US Information Service presented an exhibition on "The Worker in America" and made extensive use of documentary and feature films to sell the American way of life. It was estimated that in the period immediately preceding the election more than five million Italians each week saw American documentaries. The 1939 Hollywood film "Ninotchka", which satirized life in Russia, was singled out as a particularly effective feature film. It was shown throughout working-class areas and the Communists made several determined efforts to prevent its presentation. After the election, a pro-Communist worker was reported as saying that "What licked us was `Ninotchka'."* The Justice Department served notice that Italians who joined the Communist Party would be denied that dream of so many Italians, emigration to America. The State Department then ruled that any Italians known to have voted for the Communists would not be allowed to even enter the terrestrial paradise. (A Department telegram to a New York politico read: "Voting Communist appears to constitute affiliation with Communist Party within meaning of Immigration Law and therefore would require exclusion from United States.") It was urged that this information be emphasized in letters to Italy.* President Truman accused the Soviet Union of plotting the subjugation of Western Europe and called for universal military training in the United States and a resumption of military conscription to forestall "threatened communist control and police-state rule". During the campaign, American and British warships were frequently found anchored off Italian ports. Time, in an edition widely displayed and commented upon in Italy shortly before the election, gave its approval to the sentiment that "The U.S. should make it clear that it will use force, if necessary, to prevent Italy from going Communist."{8}* The United States and Italy signed a ten-year treaty of "friendship, commerce and navigation". This was the first treaty of its kind entered into by the US since the war, a point emphasized for Italian consumption.* A "Friendship Train" toured the United States gathering gifts and then traveled round Italy distributing them. The train was painted red, white and blue, and bore large signs expressing the friendship of American citizens toward the people of Italy.* The United States government stated that it favored Italian trusteeship over some of its former African colonies, such as Ethiopia and Libya, a wholly unrealistic proposal that could never come to pass in the post-war world. (The Soviet Union made a similar proposal.)* The US, Great Britain and France maneuvered the Soviet Union into vetoing, for the third time, a motion that Italy be admitted to the United Nations. (The first time, the Russians had expressed their opposition on the grounds that a peace treaty with Italy had not been signed. After the signing in 1947, they said they would accept the proposal if other World War II enemies, such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania were also made members.)* The same three allied nations proposed to the Soviet Union that negotiations take place with a view to returning Trieste to Italy. Formerly the principal Italian port on the Adriatic coast, bordering Yugoslavia, Trieste had been made a "free city" under the terms of the peace treaty. The approval of the Soviet Union was necessary to alter the treaty, and the Western proposal was designed to put the Russians on the spot. The Italian people had an intense sentimental attachment to Trieste, and if the Russians rejected the proposal it could seriously embarrass the Italian Communists. A Soviet acceptance, however, would antagonize their Yugoslav allies. The US prodded the Russians for a response, but none was forthcoming. From the Soviet point of view, the most obvious and safest path to follow would have been to delay their answer until after the election. Yet they chose to announce their rejection of the proposal only five days before the vote, thus hammering another nail into the FDP coffin.* A "Manifesto of peace to freedom-loving Italians", calling upon them to reject Communism, was sent to Premier de Gasperi. Its signatories included two former US Secretaries of State, a former Assistant Secretary of State, a former Attorney General, a former Supreme Court Justice, a former Governor of New York, the former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and many other prominent personages. This message was, presumably, suitably publicized throughout Italy, a task easy in the extreme inasmuch as an estimated 82 percent of Italian newspapers were in the hands of those unsympathetic to the leftist bloc.* More than 200 American labor leaders of Italian origin held a conference, out of which came a cable sent to 23 daily newspapers throughout Italy similarly urging thumbs down on the Reds. At the same time, the Italian-American Labor Council contributed $50,000 to anti-Communist labor organizations in Italy. The CIA was already secretly subsidizing such trade unions to counteract the influence of leftist unions,{9} but this was standard Agency practice independent of electoral considerations. (According to a former CIA officer, when, in 1945, the Communists came very near to gaining control of labor unions, first in Sicily, then in all Italy and southern France, co-operation between the OSS and the Mafia successfully stemmed the tide.){10}* The CIA, by its own later admission, gave $1 million to Italian "center parties", a king's ransom in Italy 1948{11}, although another report places the figure at $10 million. The Agency also forged documents and letters purported to come from the PCI which were designed to put the party in a bad light and discredit its leaders; anonymous books and magazine articles funded by the CIA told in vivid detail about supposed communist activities in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; pamphlets dealt with PCI candidates' sex and personal lives as well as smearing them with the fascist and/or anti-church brush.{12}* An American group featuring noted Italian-American musicians traveled to Rome to present a series of concerts.* President Truman chose a month before the election as the time to transfer 29 merchant ships to the Italian government as a "gesture of friendship and confidence in a democratic Italy". (These were Italian vessels seized during the war and others to replace those seized and lost.)* Four days later, the House Appropriations Committee acted swiftly to approve $18.7 million in additional "interim aid" funds for Italy.* Two weeks later, the United States gave Italy $4.3 million as the first payment on wages due to 60,000 former Italian war prisoners in the US who had worked "voluntarily" for the Allied cause. This was a revision of the peace treaty which stipulated that the Italian government was liable for such payments.* Six days before election day, the State Department made it public that Italy would soon receive $31 million in gold in return for gold looted by the Nazis. (The fact that only a few years earlier Italy had been the "enemy" fighting alongside the Nazis was now but a dim memory.)* Two days later, the US government authorized two further large shipments of food to Italy, one for $8 million worth of grains. A number of the aid ships, upon their arrival in Italy during the election campaign, had been unloaded amid ceremony and a speech by the American ambassador.
A poster prominent in Italy read: "The bread that we eat -- 40 per cent Italian flour -- 60 per cent American flour sent free of charge." The poster neglected to mention whether the savings were passed on to the consumer or served to line the pockets of the baking companies.
* Four days before election day, the American Commission for the Restoration of Italian Monuments, Inc. announced an additional series of grants to the Italian Ministry of Fine Arts.* April 15 was designated "Free Italy Day" by the American Sympathizers for a Free Italy with nation-wide observances to be held.* The American ambassador, James Clement Dunn, traveled constantly throughout Italy pointing out to the population "on every possible occasion what American aid has meant to them and their country". At the last unloading of food, Dunn declared that the American people were saving Italy from starvation, chaos and possible domination from outside. His speeches usually received wide coverage in the non-left press. By contrast, the Italian government prohibited several of its own ambassadors abroad from returning home to campaign for the FDP.

       In his historic speech of 12 March 1947, which came to be known as "The Truman Doctrine", the president had proclaimed:

I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.{13}
     It scarcely needs to be emphasized how hypocritical this promise proved to be, but the voices which spoke out in the United States against their government's crusade in Italy were few and barely audible above the roar. The Italian-American Committee for Free Elections in Italy held a rally to denounce the propaganda blitz, declaring that "Thousands of Americans of Italian origin feel deeply humiliated by the continuous flow of suggestions, advice and pressure put on the Italians, as though they were unable to decide for themselves whom to elect."{14}
     The Progressive Party also went on record, stating: "As Americans we repudiate our Government's threat to cut off food from Italy unless the election results please us. Hungry children must not go unfed because their parents do not vote as ordered from abroad."{15} The party's candidate for president in 1948 was Henry Wallace, the former vice-president who was an outspoken advocate of genuine detente with the Soviet Union. History did not provide the opportunity to observe what the reaction would have been -- amongst those who saw nothing wrong with what the United States was doing in Italy -- if a similar campaign had been launched by the Soviet Union or the Italian left in the United States on behalf of Wallace.

Though some Italians must have been convinced at times that Stalin himself was the FDP's principal candidate, the actual Soviet intervention in the election hardly merited a single headline. The American press engaged in speculation that the Russians were pouring substantial sums of money into the Communist Party's coffers. However, a survey carried out by the Italian bureau of the United Press revealed that the anti-Communist parties spent 7 1/2 times as much as the FDP on all forms of propaganda, the Christian Democrats alone spending four times as much.{16} As for other Soviet actions, Howard K. Smith presented this observation:
The Russians tried to respond with a few feeble gestures for a while -- some Italian war prisoners were released; some newsprint was sent to Italy and offered to all parties for their campaign. But there was no way of resisting what amounted to a tidal wave.
There is evidence that the Russians found the show getting too rough for them and actually became apprehensive of what the American and British reaction to a Communist victory at the polls might be. (Russia's concern about conflict with the West was also expressed within a month of the Italian elections in one of the celebrated Cominform letters to Tito, accusing the Yugoslavs of trying to involve the Soviets with the Western powers when "it should have been known ... that the U.S.S.R. after such a heavy war could not start a new one".){17}
     The evidence Smith was alluding to was the Soviet rejection of the Trieste proposal. By its timing, reported the New York Times, "the unexpected procedure caused some observers to conclude that the Russians had thrown the Italian Communist Party overboard."{18} The party's newspaper had a difficult time dealing with the story. Washington did as well, for it undermined the fundamental premise of the Italian campaign: that the Italian Communist Party and the Soviet Union were indistinguishable as to ends and means; that if you buy the one, you get the other as well. Thus the suggestion was put forth that perhaps the Soviet rejection was only a tactic to demonstrate that the US could not keep its promise on Trieste. But the Soviet announcement had not been accompanied by any such propaganda message, and it would not explain why the Russians had waited several weeks until near the crucial end to deliver its body blow to their Italian comrades. In any event, the United States could only come out smelling a lot sweeter than the Russians.      
      When the Broadway show had ended its engagement in Italy, the Christian Democrats stood as the clear winner with 48 percent of the vote. The leftist coalition had been humiliated with a totally unexpected polling of but 31 percent. It had been a crusade of the kind which Aneurin Bevan had ascribed to the Tories: "The whole art of Conservative politics in the 20th century," the British Labour leader wrote, "is being deployed to enable wealth to persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power."

NOTES -- ITALY 1947-1948                                                  return to mid-text

1. Addressing the Cathedral Club of Brooklyn, 15 January 1948; cited in David Caute, The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979), p. 15.

2. Robert T. Holt and Robert W. van de Velde, Strategic Psychological Operations and American Foreign Policy (University of Chicago Press, 1960) p. 169.

3. Dissolving the cabinet: New York Times, 21 January 1947, p. 5; 26 January, p. 31; 3 February, p. 1; 5 May, p. 13; 13 May; 14 May; 29 May, p.3; 2 June, p. 24.

4. New York Times, 5 May 1947, p. 1; 11 May, IV, p. 5; 14 May, pp. 14 and 24; 17 May, p. 8; 18 May, IV, p. 4; 20 May, p. 2; Howard K. Smith, The State of Europe (London, 1950), p. 151 (includes Ramadier quote; similar quote in New York Times, 20 May).

5. Time, 22 March 1948, p. 35.

6. William Colby, Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA (New York, 1978), p. 109.

7. Except where otherwise indicated, the items in the succeeding list are derived from the following:
a) New York Times, 16 March to 18 April 1948, passim;
b) Howard K. Smith, pp. 198-219;
c) William E. Daugherty and Morris Janowitz, A Psychological Warfare Casebook (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1958), pp. 319-26;
d) Holt and van de Velde, pp. 159-205;
e) E. Edda Martinez and Edward A. Suchman, "Letters from America and the 1948 Elections in Italy", The Public Opinion Quarterly (Princeton University), Spring 1950, pp. 111-25.

8. Cited in Smith, p. 202, no date of issue given.

9. Tom Braden, "I'm Glad the CIA is `Immoral'", Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1967; Braden had been a high-ranking CIA officer.

10. Miles Copeland, Without Cloak and Dagger (New York, 1974), pp. 235-6; also published as The Real Spy World.

11. CIA memorandum to the Forty Committee (National Security Council), presented to the Select Committee on Intelligence, US House of Representatives (The Pike Committee) during closed hearings held in 1975. The bulk of the committee's report which contained this memorandum was leaked to the press in February 1976 and first appeared in book form as CIA -- The Pike Report (Nottingham, England, 1977). The memorandum appears on pp. 204-5 of this book. (See also: Notes: Iraq.)

12. Stephen Goode, The CIA (Franklin Watts, Inc., New York, 1982), p. 45; William R. Corson, The Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire (The Dial Press, New York, 1977) pp. 298-9. Corson had an extensive career in military intelligence and was Staff Secretary of the President's Special Group Joint DOD-CIA Committee on Counterinsurgency R & D.

13. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1947 (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1963) pp. 178-9.

14. New York Times, 8 April 1948.

15. Ibid., 12 April 1948.

16. Smith, p. 200.

17. Ibid., p. 202.

18. New York Times, 15 April 1948.


10. Guatemala 1953-1954
While the world watched
excerpted from the book
Killing Hope by William Blum
To whom does a poor banana republic turn when a CIA army is advancing upon its territory and CIA planes are overhead bombing the country?
The leaders of Guatemala tried everyone-the United Nations, the Organization of American States, other countries individually, the world press, even the United States itself, in the desperate hope that it was all a big misunderstanding, that in the end, reason would prevail.
Nothing helped. Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles had decided that the legally-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz was "communist", therefore must go and go it did, in June 1954.
In the midst of the American preparation to overthrow the government, the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Guillermo Toriello, lamented that the United States was categorizing "as 'communism' every manifestation of nationalism or economic independence any desire for social progress, any intellectual curiosity, and any interest in progressive liberal reforms."
The Guatemalan president [Arbenz] , who took office in March 1951 after being elected by a wide margin, had no special contact or spiritual/ideological ties with the Soviet Union or the rest of the Communist bloc. Although American policymakers and the American press, explicitly and implicitly, often labeled Arbenz a communist, there were those in Washington who knew better, at least during their more dispassionate moments. Under Arbenz's administration Guatemala had voted at the United Nations so closely with the United States on issues of "Soviet imperialism" that a State Department group occupied with planning Arbenz's overthrow concluded that propaganda concerning Guatemala's UN record "would not be particularly helpful in our case". And a State Department analysis paper reported that the Guatemalan president had support "not only from Communist-led labor and the radical fringe of professional and intellectual groups, but also among many anti-Communist nationalists in urban areas".
The centerpiece of Arbenz's program was land reform. The need for it was clearly expressed in the all-too-familiar underdeveloped-country statistics: In a nation overwhelmingly rural, 2.2 percent of the landowners owned 70 percent of the arable land; the annual per capita income of agricultural workers was $87. Before the revolution of 1944, which overthrew the Ubico dictatorship, "farm laborers had been roped together by the Army for delivery to the low-land farms where they were kept in debt slavery by the landowners."
The expropriation of large tracts of uncultivated acreage which was distributed to approximately 100,000 landless peasants, the improvement in union rights for the workers, and other social reforms, were the reasons Arbenz had won the support of Communists and other leftists, which was no more than to be expected. When Arbenz was criticized for accepting Communist support, he challenged his critics to prove their good faith by backing his reforms themselves. They failed to do so, thus revealing where the basis of their criticism lay.
The first plan to topple Arbenz was a CIA operation approved by President Truman in 1952, but at the eleventh hour, Secretary of State Dean Acheson persuaded Truman to abort it. However, soon after Eisenhower became president in January 1953, the plan was resurrected. Both administrations were pressured by executives of United Fruit Company -- much of the vast and uncultivated land in Guatemala had been expropriated by the Arbenz government as part of the land reform program. The company wanted nearly $16 million for the land, the government was offering $525,000, United Fruit's own declared valuation for tax purposes.
United Fruit functioned in Guatemala as a state within a state. It owned the country's telephone and telegraph facilities, administered its only important Atlantic harbor, and monopolized its banana exports. A subsidiary of the company owned nearly every mile of railroad track in the country. The fruit company's influence amongst Washington's power elite was equally impressive. On a business and/or personal level, it had close ties to the Dulles brothers, various State Department officials, congressmen, the American Ambassador to the United Nations, and others. Anne Whitman, the wife of the company's public relations director, was President Eisenhower's personal secretary. Under-secretary of State (and formerly Director of the CIA) Walter Bedell Smith was seeking an executive position with United Fruit at the same time he was helping to plan the coup. He was later named to the company's board of directors.
Under Arbenz, Guatemala constructed an Atlantic port and a highway to compete with United Fruit's holdings, and built a hydro-electric plant to offer cheaper energy than the US controlled electricity monopoly. Arbenz's strategy was to limit the power of foreign companies through direct competition rather than through nationalization, a policy not feasible of course when it came to a fixed quantity like land. In his inaugural address, Arbenz stated that:
"Foreign capital will always be welcome as long as it adjusts to local conditions, remains always subordinate to Guatemalan laws, cooperates with the economic development of the country, and strictly abstains from intervening in the nation's social and political life."
This hardly described United Fruit's role in Guatemala. Amongst much else, the company had persistently endeavored to frustrate Arbenz's reform programs, discredit him and his government, and induce his downfall.
Arbenz was, accordingly, wary of multinationals and could not be said to welcome them into his country with open arms. This attitude, his expropriation of United Fruit's land, and his "tolerance of communists" were more than enough to make him a marked man in Washington. The United States saw these policies as being inter-related: that is, it was communist influence-not any economic or social exigency of Guatemalan life-which was responsible for the government's treatment of American firms.
In March 1953, the CIA approached disgruntled right-wing officers in the Guatemala army and arranged to send them arms. United Fruit donated $64,000 in cash. The following month, uprisings broke out in several towns but were quickly put down by loyal troops. The rebels were put on trial and revealed the fruit company's role in the plot, but not the ClA's.
The Eisenhower administration resolved to do the job right the next time around. With cynical glee, almost an entire year was spent in painstaking, step-by-step preparation for the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Of the major CIA undertakings, few have been as well documented as has the coup in Guatemala. With the release of many formerly classified government papers, the following story has emerged:
Headquarters for the operation were established in Opa Locka, Florida, on the out skirts of Miami. The Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza lent/leased his country out as a site for an airstrip and for hundreds of men-Guatemalan exiles and US and Central American mercenaries-to receive training in the use of weapons and radio broadcasting, as well as in the fine arts of sabotage and demolition. Thirty airplanes were assigned for use in the "Liberation", stationed in Nicaragua, Honduras and the Canal Zone, to be flown by American pilots. The Canal Zone was set aside as a weapons depot from which arms were gradually distributed to the rebels who were to assemble in Honduras under the command of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas before crossing into Guatemala. Soviet-marked weapons were also gathered for the purpose of planting them inside Guatemala before the invasion to reinforce US charges of Russian intervention. And, as important as arms, it turned out, hidden radio transmitters were placed in and around the perimeter of Guatemala, including one in the US Embassy.
An attempt was made to blow up the trains carrying the Czech weapons from portside to Guatemala City; however, a torrential downpour rendered the detonators useless, where upon the CIA paramilitary squad opened fire on one train, killing a Guatemalan soldier and wounding three others; but the convoy of trains made it safely to its destination.
After the Czech ship had arrived in Guatemala, Eisenhower ordered the stopping of "suspicious foreign-flag vessels on the high seas off Guatemala to examine cargo". The State Department's legal adviser wrote a brief which concluded in no uncertain terms that "Such action would constitute a violation of international law." No matter. At least two foreign vessels were stopped and searched, one French and one Dutch. It was because of such actions by the British that the United States had fought the War of 181.
The Guatemalan military came in for special attention. The US ostentatiously signed mutual security treaties with Honduras and Nicaragua, both countries hostile to Arbenz, and dispatched large shipments of arms to them in the hope that this would signal a clear enough threat to the Guatemalan military to persuade it to withdraw its support of Arbenz. Additionally, the US Navy dispatched two submarines from Key West, saying only that they were going "south". Several days later, the Air Force, amid considerable fanfare, sent three B-36 bombers on a "courtesy call" to Nicaragua.
The CIA also made a close study of the records of members of the Guatemalan officer corps and offered bribes to some of them. One of the Agency's clandestine radio stations broadcast appeals aimed at military men, as well as others, to join the liberation movement. The station reported that Arbenz was secretly planning to disband or disarm the armed forces and replace it with a people's militia. CIA planes dropped leaflets over Guatemala carrying the same message.
Eventually, at Ambassador Peurifoy's urging, a group of high-ranking officers called on Arbenz to ask that he dismiss all communists who held posts in his administration. The president assured them that the communists did not represent a danger, that they did not run the government, and that it would be undemocratic to dismiss them. At a second meeting, the officers also demanded that Arbenz reject the creation of the "people's militia'.
Arbenz himself was offered a bribe by the CIA, whether to abdicate his office or something less is not clear. A large sum of money was deposited in a Swiss bank for him, but he, or a subordinate, rejected the offer.
On the economic front, contingency plans were made for such things as cutting off Guatemalan credit abroad, disrupting its oil supplies, and causing a run on its foreign reserves. But it was on the propaganda front that American ingenuity shone at its bright ~t. Inasmuch as the Guatemalan government was being overthrown because it was communist. the fact of its communism would have to be impressed upon the rest of Latin America.
Accordingly, the US Information Agency (USIA) began to place unattributed articles in foreign newspapers labeling particular Guatemalan officials as communist and referring to various actions by the Guatemalan government as "communist-inspired". In the few weeks prior to Arbenz's fall alone, more than 200 articles about Guatemala were written and published in scores of Latin American newspapers.
Employing a method which was to become a standard CIA/USIA feature all over Latin America and elsewhere, as we shall see, articles placed in one country were picked up by newspapers in other countries, either as a result of CIA payment or unwittingly because the story was of interest. Besides the obvious advantage of multiplying the potential audience, the tactic gave the appearance that independent world opinion was taking a certain stand and further obscured the American connection.
The USIA also distributed more than 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled "Chronology of Communism in Guatemala" throughout the hemisphere, as well as 27,000 copies of anti-communist cartoons and posters. The American propaganda agency, more over, produced three films on Guatemala, with predictable content, and newsreels favorable to the United States for showing free in cinemas.
Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, a prelate possessed of anti-communism, a man who feared social change more than he feared God, was visited by the CIA. Would his Reverence arrange CIA contact with Archbishop Mariano Rossell Arellano of Guatemala? The Cardinal would be delighted. Thus it came to pass that on 9 April 1954, a pastoral letter was read in Guatemalan Catholic churches calling to the attention of the congregations the presence in the country of a devil called communism and demanding that the people "rise as a single man against this enemy of God and country", or at least not rally in Arbenz's defense. To appreciate the value of this, one must remember that Guatemala's peasant class was not only highly religious, but that very few of them were able to read, and so could receive the Lord's Word only in this manner. For those who could read, many thousands of pamphlets carrying the Archbishop's message were air-dropped around the country.
In May, the CIA covertly sponsored a "Congress Against Soviet Intervention in Latin America" in Mexico City. The same month, Somoza called in the diplomatic corps in Nicaragua and told them, his voice shaking with anger, that his police had discovered a secret Soviet shipment of arms (which had been planted by the CIA) near the Pacific Coast, and suggested that the communists wanted to convert Nicaragua into "a new Korean situation. A few weeks later, an unmarked plane parachuted arms with Soviet markings onto Guatemala's coast.
On such fare did the people of Latin America dine for decades. By such tactics were they educated about "communism".
In late January 1954 the operation appeared to have suffered a serious setback when photostat copies of Liberation documents found their way into Arbenz's hands. A few days later, Guatemala's newspapers published copies of correspondence signed by Castillo Armas, Somoza and others under banner headlines. The documents revealed the existence of some of the staging, training and invasion plans, involving, amongst others, the "Government of the North".
The State Department labeled the accusations of a US role "ridiculous and untrue" and said it would not comment further because it did not wish to give them a dignity they did not deserve. Said a Department spokesperson: "It is the policy of the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. This policy has repeatedly been reaffirmed under the present administration.
Time magazine gave no credence whatsoever to the possibility of American involvement in such a plot, concluding that the whole expose had been "masterminded in Moscow.
The New York Times was not so openly cynical, but its story gave no indication that there might be any truth to the matter. "Latin American observers in New York," reported the newspaper, "said the 'plot' charges savored of communist influence." This article was followed immediately on the page by one headed "Red Labor Chiefs Meet. Guatemalan Confederation Opens Its Congress".
And the CIA continued with its preparations as if nothing had happened.
The offensive began in earnest on 18 June with planes dropping leaflets over Guatemala demanding that Arbenz resign immediately or else various sites would be bombed. CIA radio stations broadcast similar messages. That afternoon, the planes returned to machine-gun houses near military barracks, drop fragmentation bombs and strafe the National Palace.
Over the following week, the air attacks continued daily-strafing or bombing ports, fuel tanks, ammunition dumps, military barracks, the international airport, a school, and several cities; nine persons, including a three-year-old girl, were reported wounded; an unknown number of houses were set afire by incendiary explosives. During one night-time raid, a tape recording of a bomb attack was played over loudspeakers set up on the roof of the US Embassy to heighten the anxiety of the capital's residents. When Arbenz went on the air to try and calm the public's fear, the CIA radio team jammed the broadcast.
Meanwhile, the Agency's army had crossed into Guatemala from Honduras and captured a few towns, but its progress in the face of resistance by the Guatemalan army unspectacular. On the broadcasts of the CIA's "Voice of Liberation" the picture was different: The rebels were everywhere and advancing; they were of large numbers and picking volunteers as they marched; war and upheaval in all corners; fearsome battles and more defeats for the Guatemalan army. Some of these broadcasts were transmitted over regular public and even military channels, serving to convince some of Arbenz's officers that reports were genuine. In the same way, the CIA was able to answer real military messages with fake responses. All manner of disinformation was spread and rumors fomented; dummy parachute drops were made in scattered areas to heighten the belief that a major invasion was taking place.
United Fruit Company's publicity office circulated photographs to journalists of mutilated bodies about to be buried in a mass grave as an example of the atrocities committed by the Arbenz regime. The photos received extensive coverage. Thomas McCann of the company's publicity office later revealed that he had no idea what the photos represented: "They could just as easily have been the victims of either side-or of an earthquake. The point is, they were widely accepted for what they were purported to be-victims of communism.
In a similar vein, Washington officials reported on political arrests and censorship in Guatemala without reference to the fact that the government was under siege (let alone who was behind the siege), that suspected plotters and saboteurs were the bulk of those being arrested, or that, overall, the Arbenz administration had a fine record on civil liberties. The performance of the American press in this regard was little better.
The primary purpose of the bombing and the many forms of disinformation was to make it appear that military defenses were crumbling, that resistance was futile, thus provoking confusion and division in the Guatemalan armed forces and causing some elements to turn against Arbenz. The psychological warfare conducted over the radio was directed by . Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame, and David Atlee Phillips, a newcomer to the CIA. When Phillips was first approached about the assignment, he asked his superior, Tracy Barnes, in all innocence, "But Arbenz became President in a free election. What right do we have to help someone topple his government and throw him out of office?"
'For a moment," wrote Phillips later, "I detected in his face a flicker of concern, a doubt, the reactions of a sensitive man." But Barnes quickly recovered and repeated the party line about the Soviets establishing "an easily expandable beachhead" in Central America.

Phillips never looked back. When he retired from the CIA in the mid-1970s, he found the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers, an organization formed to counteract the flood of unfavorable publicity sweeping over the Agency at the time.

American journalists reporting on the events in Guatemala continued to exhibit neither an investigative inclination nor a healthy conspiracy mentality. But what was obscure to the press was patently obvious to large numbers of Latin Americans. Heated protests against the United States broke out during this week in June in at least eleven countries and was echoed by the governments of Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile which condemned American "intervention and "aggression".
Life magazine noted these protests by observing that "world communism was efficiently using the Guatemalan show to strike a blow at the U.S." It scoffed at the idea that Washington was behind the revolt. Newsweek reported that Washington "officials interpreted" the outcry "as an indication of the depth of Red penetration into the Americas". A State Department memo at the time, however, privately acknowledged that much of the protest emanated from non-communist and even pro-American moderates.
On 21 and 22 June, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Toriello made impassioned appeals to the United Nations for help in resolving the crisis. American UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge tried to block the Security Council from discussing a resolution to send an instigating team to Guatemala, characterizing Toriello's appeals as communist maneuvering. But under heavy pressure from UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, the Council convened. Before the vote, while Lodge worked on the smaller nations represented on the Council, Eisenhower and Dulles came down hard on France and Great Britain, both of whom favored the resolution. Said the President of the United States to his Secretary of State: "The British expect us to give them a free ride and side with them on Cyprus. And yet they won't even support us on Guatemala! Let's give them a lesson.
As matters turned out, the resolution was defeated by five votes to four, with Britain and France abstaining, although their abstentions were not crucial inasmuch as seven votes were required for passage. Hammarskjold was so upset with the American machinations, which he believed undercut the strength of the United Nations, that he confided that he might be forced "to reconsider my present position in the United Nations".
During this same period, the CIA put into practice a plan to create an "incident'. Agency planes were dispatched to drop several harmless bombs on Honduran territory. The Honduran government then complained to the UN and the Organization of American States, claiming that the country had been attacked by Guatemalan planes.
Arbenz finally received an ultimatum from certain army officers: Resign or they would come to an agreement with the invaders. The CIA and Ambassador Peurifoy had been offering payments to officers to defect, and one army commander reportedly accepted $60,000 to surrender his troops. With his back to the wall, Arbenz made an attempt to arm civilian supporters to fight for the government, but army officers blocked the disbursement of weapons. The Guatemalan president knew that the end was near.
Castillo Armas celebrated the liberation of Guatemala in various ways. In July alone, thousands were arrested on suspicion of communist activity. Many were tortured or killed. In August a law was passed and a committee set up which could declare anyone a communist. with no right of appeal. Those so declared could be arbitrarily arrested for up to six months, could not own a radio or hold public office. Within four months the committee had registered 72,000 names. A committee official said it was aiming for 200,000.
Further implementation of the agrarian reform law was stopped and all expropriations of land already carried out were declared invalid. United Fruit Company not only received all its land back, but the government banned the banana workers' unions as well. Moreover, seven employees of the company who had been active labor organizers were found mysteriously murdered in Guatemala City.
The new regime also disenfranchised three-quarters of Guatemala's voters by barring illiterates from the electoral rolls and outlawed all political parties, labor confederations, and peasant organizations. To this was added the closing down of opposition newspapers (which Arbenz had not done) and the burning of "subversive" books, including Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Dostoyevsky novels, and the works of Guatemala's Nobel Prize winning author Miguel Angel Asturias, a biting critic of United Fruit.
Meanwhile, John Foster Dulles, who was accused by Toriello of seeking to establish a "banana curtain" in Central America, was concerned that some "communists" might escape retribution. In cables he exchanged with Ambassador Peurifoy, Dulles insisted that the government arrest those Guatemalans who had taken refuge in foreign embassies and that "criminal charges" be brought against them to prevent them leaving the country, charges such as "having been overt Moscow agents". The Secretary of State argued that communists should be automatically denied the right of asylum because they were connected with an international conspiracy. The only way they should be allowed to leave, he asserted, was if they agreed to be sent to the Soviet Union. But Castillo Armas refused to accede to Dulles's wishes on this particular issue, influenced perhaps by the fact that he, as well as some of his colleagues, had been granted political asylum in an embassy at one time or another.
One of those who sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy was a 25-year-old Argentine doctor named Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Guevara, who had been living in Guatemala since sometime in 1953, had tried to spark armed resistance to the invading forces, but without any success. Guevara's experience in Guatemala had a profound effect upon his political consciousness. His first wife, Hilda Gadea, whom he met there, later wrote:
"Up to that point, he used to say, he was merely a sniper, criticizing from a theoretical point of view the political panorama of our America. From here on he was convinced that the struggle against the oligarchic system and the main enemy, Yankee imperialism, must be an armed one, supported by the people."
In the wake of the coup, the United States confiscated a huge amount of documents from the Guatemalan government, undoubtedly in the hope of finally uncovering the hand of the International Communist Conspiracy behind Arbenz. If this is what was indeed discovered, it has not been made public.
On 30 June, while the dust was still settling, Dulles summed up the situation in Guatemala in a speech which was a monument to coldwar-speak:
"[The events in Guatemala] expose the evil purpose of the Kremlin to destroy the inter-American system ... having gained control of what they call the mass organizations, [the communists] moved on to take over the official press and radio of the Guatemalan Government They dominated the social security organization and ran the agrarian reform program ... dictated to the Congress and to the President ... Arbenz ... was openly manipulated by the leaders of communism ... The Guatemalan regime enjoyed the full support of Soviet Russia ... [the] situation is being cured by the Gualemalans themselves."
When it came to rewriting history, however, Dulles's speech had nothing on these lines from a CIA memo written in August 1954 and only for internal consumption no less: "When the communists were forced by outside pressure to attempt to take over Guatemala completely, they forced Arbenz to resign (deleted). They then proceeded to establish a Communist Junta under Col. Carlos Diaz."
And in October, John Peurifoy sat before a congressional committee and told them:
"My role in Guatemala prior to the revolution was strictly that of a diplomatic observer ... The revolution that overthrew the Arbenz government was engineered and instigated by those people in Guatemala who rebelled against the policies and ruthless oppression of the Communist-controlled government."
Later, Dwight Eisenhower was to write about Guatemala in his memoirs. The former president chose not to offer the slightest hint that the United States had anything to do with the planning or instigation of the coup, and indicated that his administration had only the most tangential of connections to its execution. (When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs were published in the West, the publisher saw fit to employ a noted Kremlinologist to annotate the work, pointing out errors of omission and commission.)
Thus it was that the educated, urbane men of the State Department, the CIA and the United Fruit Company, the pipe-smoking, comfortable men of Princeton, Harvard and Wall Street, decided that the illiterate peasants of Guatemala did not deserve the land which had been given to them, that the workers did not need their unions, that hunger and torture was a small price to pay for being rid of the scourge of communism.
The terror carried out by Castillo Armas was only the beginning. It was ... to get much worse in time. It has continued with hardly a pause for 40 years.
In 1955, the New York Times reported from the United Nations that "The United States has begun a drive to scuttle a section of the proposed Covenant of Human Rights which poses a threat to its business interests abroad." The offending section dealt with the right of peoples to self-determination and to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources. Said the newspaper: "It declares in effect that any country has the right to nationalize its resources ..."

14.  INDONESIA 1957-1958
War and pornography

"I think it's time we held Sukarno's feet to the fire," said Frank Wisner, the CIA's Deputy Director of Plans (covert operations), one day in autumn 1956.{1} Wisner was speaking of the man who had led Indonesia since its struggle for independence from the Dutch following the war. A few months earlier, in May, Sukarno had made an impassioned speech before the US Congress asking for more understanding of the problems and needs of developing nations like his own.{2}
     The ensuing American campaign to unseat the flamboyant leader of the fifth most populous nation in the world was to run the gamut from large-scale military maneuvers to seedy sexual intrigue.
     The previous year, Sukarno had organized the Bandung Conference as an answer to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), the US-created political-military alliance of area states to "contain communism". In the Indonesian city of Bandung, the doctrine of neutralism had been proclaimed as the faith of the underdeveloped world. To the men of the CIA station in Indonesia the conference was heresy, so much so that their thoughts turned toward assassination as a means of sabotaging it.
     In 1975, the Senate committee which was investigating the CIA heard testimony that Agency officers stationed in an East Asian country had suggested that an East Asian leader be assassinated "to disrupt an impending Communist [sic] Conference in 1955".{3} (In all likelihood, the leader referred to was either Sukarno or Chou En-lai of China.) But, said the committee, cooler heads prevailed at CIA headquarters in Washington and the suggestion was firmly rejected.
     Nevertheless, a plane carrying eight members of the Chinese delegation, a Vietnamese, and two European journalists to the Bandung Conference crashed under mysterious circumstances. The Chinese government claimed that it was an act of sabotage carried out by the US and Taiwan, a misfired effort to murder Chou En-lai. The chartered Air India plane had taken off from Hong Kong on 11 April 1955 and crashed in the South China Sea. Chou En-lai was scheduled to be on another chartered Air India flight a day or two later. The Chinese government, citing what it said were press reports from the Times of India, stated that the crash was caused by two time bombs apparently placed aboard the plane in Hong Kong. A clockwork mechanism was later recovered from the wrecked airliner and the Hong Kong police called it a case of "carefully planned mass murder". Months later, British police in Hong Kong announced that they were seeking a Chinese Nationalist for conspiracy to cause the crash, but that he had fled to Taiwan.{4}
     In 1967 a curious little book appeared in India, entitled I Was a CIA Agent in India, by John Discoe Smith, an American. Published by the Communist Party of India, it was based on articles written by Smith for Literaturnaya Gazeta in Moscow after he had defected to the Soviet Union around 1960. Smith, born in Quincy, Mass. in 1926, wrote that he had been a communications technician and code clerk at the US Embassy in New Delhi in 1955, performing tasks for the CIA as well. One of these tasks was to deliver a package to a Chinese Nationalist which Smith later learned, he claimed, contained the two time bombs used to blow up the Air India plane. The veracity of Smith's account cannot be determined, although his employment at the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1954 to 1959 is confirmed by the State Department Biographic Register.{5}
     Elsewhere the Senate committee reported that it had "received some evidence of CIA involvement in plans to assassinate President Sukarno of Indonesia", and that the planning had proceeded to the point of identifying an agent whom it was believed might be recruited for the job.{6} (The committee noted that at one time, those at the CIA who were concerned with possible assassinations and appropriate methods were known internally as the "Health Alteration Committee".)
     To add to the concern of American leaders, Sukarno had made trips to the Soviet Union and China (though to the White House as well), he had purchased arms from Eastern European countries (but only after being turned down by the United States),{7} he had nationalized many private holdings of the Dutch, and, perhaps most disturbing of all, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) had made impressive gains electorally and in union-organizing, thus earning an important role in the coalition government.
     It was a familiar Third World scenario, and the reaction of Washington policy-makers was equally familiar. Once again, they were unable, or unwilling, to distinguish nationalism from pro-communism, neutralism from wickedness. By any definition of the word, Sukarno was no communist. He was an Indonesian nationalist and a "Sukarnoist" who had crushed the PKI forces in 1948 after the independence struggle had been won.{8} He ran what was largely his own show by granting concessions to both the PKI and the Army, balancing one against the other. As to excluding the PKI, with its more than one million members, from the government, Sukarno declared: "I can't and won't ride a three-legged horse."{9}
     To the United States, however, Sukarno's balancing act was too precarious to be left to the vagaries of the Indonesian political process. It mattered not to Washington that the Communist Party was walking the legal, peaceful road, or that there was no particular "crisis" or "chaos" in Indonesia, so favored as an excuse for intervention. Intervention there would be.
     It would not be the first. In 1955, during the national election campaign in Indonesia, the CIA had given a million dollars to the Masjumi party, a centrist coalition of Muslim organizations, in a losing bid to thwart Sukarno's Nationalist Party as well as the PKI. According to former CIA officer Joseph Burkholder Smith, the project "provided for complete write-off of the funds, that is, no demand for a detailed accounting of how the funds were spent was required. I could find no clue as to what the Masjumi did with the million dollars."{10}
     In 1957, the CIA decided that the situation called for more direct action. It was not difficult to find Indonesian colleagues-in-arms for there already existed a clique of army officers and others who, for personal ambitions and because they disliked the influential position of the PKI, wanted Sukarno out, or at least out of their particular islands. (Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, consisting of some 3,000 islands.)
     The military operation the CIA was opting for was of a scale that necessitated significant assistance from the Pentagon, which could be secured for a political action mission only if approved by the National Security Council's "Special Group" (the small group of top NSC officials who acted in the president's name, to protect him and the country by evaluating proposed covert actions and making certain that the CIA did not go off the deep end; known at other times as the 5412 Committee, the 303 Committee, the 40 Committee, or the Operations Advisory Group).
     The manner in which the Agency went about obtaining this approval is a textbook example of how the CIA sometimes determines American foreign policy. Joseph Burkholder Smith, who was in charge of the Agency's Indonesian desk in Washington from mid-1956 to early 1958, has described the process in his memoirs: Instead of first proposing the plan to Washington for approval, where "premature mention ... might get it shot down" ...
we began to feed the State and Defense departments intelligence that no one could deny was a useful contribution to understanding Indonesia. When they had read enough alarming reports, we planned to spring the suggestion we should support the colonels' plans to reduce Sukarno's power. This was a method of operation which became the basis of many of the political action adventures of the 1960s and 1970s. In other words, the statement is false that CIA undertook to intervene in the affairs of countries like Chile only after being ordered to do so by ... the Special Group. ... In many instances, we made the action programs up ourselves after we had collected enough intelligence to make them appear required by the circumstances. Our activity in Indonesia in 1957-1958 was one such instance.{11}

     When the Communist Party did well again in local elections held in July, the CIA viewed it as "a great help to us in convincing Washington authorities how serious the Indonesian situation was. The only person who did not seem terribly alarmed at the PKI victories was Ambassador Allison. This was all we needed to convince John Foster Dulles finally that he had the wrong man in Indonesia. The wheels began to turn to remove this last stumbling block in the way of our operation."{12} John Allison, wrote Smith, was not a great admirer of the CIA to begin with. And in early 1958, after less than a year in the post, he was replaced as ambassador by Howard Jones, whose selection "pleased" the CIA Indonesia staff.{13}                         go to notes
     On 30 November 1957, several hand grenades were tossed at Sukarno as he was leaving a school. He escaped injury, but 10 people were killed and 48 children injured. The CIA in Indonesia had no idea who was responsible, but it quickly put out the story that the PKI was behind it "at the suggestion of their Soviet contacts in order to make it appear that Sukarno's opponents were wild and desperate men". As it turned out, the culprits were a Muslim group not associated with the PKI or with the Agency's military plotters.{14}
     The issue of Sukarno's supposed hand-in-glove relationship with Communists was pushed at every opportunity. The CIA decided to make capital of reports that a good-looking blonde stewardess had been aboard Sukarno's aircraft everywhere he went during his trip in the Soviet Union and that the same woman had come to Indonesia with Soviet President Kliment Voroshilov and had been seen several times in the company of Sukarno. The idea was that Sukarno's well-known womanizing had trapped him in the spell of a Soviet female agent. He had succumbed to Soviet control, CIA reports implied, as a result of her influence or blackmail, or both. "
     This formed the foundation of our flights of fancy," wrote Smith. "We had as a matter of fact, considerable success with this theme. It appeared in the press around the world, and whenRound Table, the serious British quarterly of international affairs, came to analyze the Indonesian revolt in its March 1958 issue, it listed Sukarno's being blackmailed by a Soviet female spy as one of the reasons that caused the uprising."
     Seemingly, the success of this operation inspired CIA officers in Washington to carry the theme one step further. A substantial effort was made to come up with a pornographic film or at least some still photographs that could pass for Sukarno and his Russian girl friend engaged in "his favorite activity". When scrutiny of available porno films (supplied by the Chief of Police of Los Angeles) failed to turn up a couple who could pass for Sukarno (dark and bald) and a beautiful blonde Russian woman, the CIA undertook to produce its own films, "the very films with which the Soviets were blackmailing Sukarno". The Agency developed a full-face mask of the Indonesian leader which was to be sent to Los Angeles where the police were to pay some porno-film actor to wear it during his big scene. This project resulted in at least some photographs, although they apparently were never used.{15}
     Another outcome of the blackmail effort was a film produced for the CIA by Robert Maheu, former FBI agent and intimate of Howard Hughes. Maheu's film starred an actor who resembled Sukarno. The ultimate fate of the film, which was entitled "Happy Days", has not been reported.{16}
      In other parts of the world, at other times, the CIA has done better in this line of work, having produced sex films of target subjects caught in flagrante delicto who had been lured to Agency safe-houses by female agents.
     In 1960, Col. Truman Smith, US Army Ret., writing in Reader's Digest about the KGB, declared: "It is difficult for most of us to appreciate its menace, as its methods are so debased as to be all but beyond the comprehension of any normal person with a sense of right and wrong." One of the KGB methods the good colonel found so debased was the making of sex films to be used as blackmail. "People depraved enough to employ such methods," he wrote, "find nothing distasteful in more violent methods."{17}
    Sex could be used at home as well to further the goals of American foreign policy. Under the cover of the US foreign aid program, at that time called the Economic Cooperation Administration, Indonesian policemen were trained and then recruited to provide information on Soviet, Chinese and PKI activities in their country. Some of the men singled out as good prospects for this work were sent to Washington for special training and to be softened up for recruitment. Like Sukarno, reportedly, these police officers invariably had an obsessive desire to sleep with a white woman. Accordingly, during their stay they were taken to Baltimore's shabby sex district to indulge themselves.{18}

The Special Group's approval of the political action mission was forthcoming in November 1957{19}, and the CIA's paramilitary machine was put into gear. In this undertaking, as in others, the Agency enjoyed the advantage of the United States' far-flung military empire. Headquarters for the operation were established in neighboring Singapore, courtesy of the British; training bases set up in the Philippines; airstrips laid out in various parts of the Pacific to prepare for bomber and transport missions; Indonesians, along with Filipinos, Taiwanese, Americans, and other "soldiers of fortune" were assembled in Okinawa and the Philippines along with vast quantities of arms and equipment.
     For this, the CIA's most ambitious military operation to date, tens of thousands of rebels were armed, equipped and trained by the US Army. US Navy submarines, patrolling off the coast of Sumatra, the main island, put over-the-beach parties ashore along with supplies and communications equipment. The US Air Force set up a considerable Air Transport force which air-dropped many thousands of weapons deep into Indonesian territory. And a fleet of 15 B-26 bombers was made available for the conflict after being "sanitized" to ensure that they were "non-attributable" and that all airborne equipment was "deniable".
     In the early months of 1958, rebellion began to break out in one part of the Indonesian island chain, then another. CIA pilots took to the air to carry out bombing and strafing missions in support of the rebels. In Washington, Col. Alex Kawilarung, the Indonesian military attach®, was persuaded by the Agency to "defect". He soon showed up in Indonesia to take charge of the rebel forces. Yet, as the fighting dragged on into spring, the insurgents proved unable to win decisive victories or take the offensive, although the CIA bombing raids were taking their toll. Sukarno later claimed that on a Sunday morning in April, a plane bombed a ship in the harbor of the island of Ambon -- all those aboard losing their lives -- as well as hitting a church, which demolished the building and killed everyone inside. He stated that 700 casualties had resulted from this single run.
     On 15 May, a CIA plane bombed the Ambon marketplace, killing a large number of civilians on their way to church on Ascension Thursday. The Indonesian government had to act to suppress public demonstrations.
     Three days later, during another bombing run over Ambon, a CIA pilot, Allen Lawrence Pope, was shot down and captured. Thirty years old, from Perrine, Florida, Pope had flown 55 night missions over Communist lines in Korea for the Air Force. Later he spent two months flying through Communist flak for the CIA to drop supplies to the French at Dien Bien Phu. Now his luck had run out. He was to spend four years as a prisoner in Indonesia before Sukarno acceded to a request from Robert Kennedy for his release.
     Pope was captured carrying a set of incriminating documents, including those which established him as a pilot for the US Air Force and the CIA airline CAT. Like all men flying clandestine missions, Pope had gone through an elaborate procedure before taking off to "sanitize" him, as well as his aircraft. But he had apparently smuggled the papers aboard the plane, for he knew that to be captured as an "anonymous, stateless civilian" meant having virtually no legal rights and running the risk of being shot as a spy in accordance with custom. A captured US military man, however, becomes a commodity of value for his captors while he remains alive.
     The lndonesian government derived immediate material concessions from the United States as a result of the incident. Whether the Indonesians thereby agreed to keep silent about Pope is not known, but on 27 May the pilot and his documents were presented to the world at a news conference, thus contradicting several recent statements by high American officials.{20} Notable amongst these was President Eisenhower's declaration on 30 April concerning Indonesia: "Our policy is one of careful neutrality and proper deportment all the way through so as not to be taking sides where it is none of our business."{21}
     And on 9 May, an editorial in the New York Times had stated:
It is unfortunate that high officials of the Indonesian Government have given further circulation to the false report that the United States Government was sanctioning aid to Indonesia's rebels. The position of the United States Government has been made plain, again and again. Our Secretary of State was emphatic in his declaration that this country would not deviate from a correct neutrality ... the United States is not ready ... to step in to help overthrow a constituted government. Those are the hard facts. Jakarta does not help its case, here, by ignoring them.
     With the exposure of Pope and the lack of rebel success in the field, the CIA decided that the light was no longer worth the candle, and began to curtail its support. By the end of June, Indonesian army troops loyal to Sukarno had effectively crushed the dissident military revolt.
     The Indonesian leader continued his adroit balancing act between the Communists and the army until 1965, when the latter, likely with the help of the CIA, finally overthrew his regime. 

   return to mid-text
1. Joseph Burkholder Smith, Portrait of a Cold Warrior (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1976) p. 205.
2. New York Times, 18 May 1956.
3. Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Foreign and Military Intelligence, Book 4, Final Report of The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (U.S. Senate), April 1976, p. 133.
4. New York Times, 12, 30 April 1955; 3, 4 August 1955; 3 September 1955; 22 November 1967, p. 23.
5. John Discoe Smith, I Was a CIA Agent in India (India, 1967) passim; New York Times, 25 October 1967, p. 17; 22 November, p. 23; 5 December, p. 12; Harry Rositzke, The KGB: The Eyes of Russia (New York, 1981), p. 164.
6. lnterim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (U.S. Senate), 20 November 1975, p. 4, note.
7. David Wise and Thomas Ross, The Invisible Government (New York, 1965, paperback edition) pp. 149-50.
8. Julie Southwood and Patrick Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, Propaganda and Terror (London, 1983) pp. 26-7.
9. Wise and Ross, p. 148.
10. J.B. Smith, pp. 210-11.
11. Ibid., pp. 228-9.
12. Ibid., p. 240.
13. Ibid., pp. 229, 246.
14. Ibid., p. 243.
15. Sex-blackmail operations: ibid., pp. 238-40, 248. Smith errs somewhat in his comment about Round Table. The article's only (apparent) reference to the Soviet woman is in the comment on p. 133: "Other and more scandalous reasons have been put forward for the President's leaning towards the Communist Party."
16. New York Times, 26 January 1976.
17. Truman Smith, "The Infamous Record of Soviet Espionage", Reader's Digest, August 1960.
18. J.B. Smith, pp. 220-1.
19. Referred to in a memorandum from Allen Dulles to the White House, 7 April 1961; the memo briefly summarizes the main points of the US intervention: Declassified Documents Reference System (Arlington, Va.) released 18 December 1974.
20. The military operation and the Pope affair:
a) Wise and Ross, pp. 145-56.
b) Christopher Robbins, Air America (US, 1979), pp. 88-94.
c) Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, US Air Force, Ret., The Secret Team: The CIA and its Allies in Control of the World (New York, 1974) pp. 155, 308, 363-6.
d) New York Times, 23 March 1958, p. 2; 19 April; 28 May, p. 9.
e) Sukarno, An Autobiography, as told to Cindy Adams (Hong Kong, 1966) pp. 267-71; first printed in the US in 1965; although a poor piece of writing, the book is worth reading for Sukarno's views on why it is foolish to call him a Communist; how he, as a Third-Worlder who didn't toe the line, was repeatedly snubbed and humiliated by the Eisenhower administration, apart from the intervention; and how American sex magazines contrived to make him look ridiculous.
f) J. B. Smith, pp. 246-7. There appears to be some confusion about the bombing of the church. Smith states that it was Pope who did it on 18 May before being shot down. Either he or other chroniclers have mixed up the events of April and May.
21. Wise and Ross, p. 145.

25. ECUADOR 1960 to 1963: 
A Textbook of Dirty Tricks

If the Guinness Book of World Records included a category for "cynicism", one could suggest the CIA's creation of "leftist" organizations which condemned poverty, disease, illiteracy, capitalism, and the United States in order to attract committed militants and their money away from legitimate leftist organizations.
     The tiny nation of Ecuador in the early 1960s was, as it remains today, a classic of banana-republic underdevelopment; virtually at the bottom of the economic heap in South America; a society in which one percent of the population received an income comparable to United States upper-class standards, while two-thirds of the people had an average family income of about ten dollars per month -- people simply outside the money economy, with little social integration or participation in the national life; a tale told many times in Latin America.
     In September 1960, a new government headed by José María Velasco Ibarra came to power. Velasco had won a decisive electoral victory, running on a vaguely liberal, populist, something-for- everyone platform. He was no Fidel Castro, he was not even a socialist, but he earned the wrath of the US State Department and the CIA by his unyielding opposition to the two stated priorities of American policy in Ecuador: breaking relations with Cuba, and clamping down hard on activists of the Communist Party and those to their left.
     Over the next three years, in pursuit of those goals, the CIA left as little as possible to chance. A veritable textbook on covert subversion techniques unfolded. In its pages could be found the following, based upon the experiences of Philip Agee, a CIA officer who spent this period in Ecuador.{1}
     Almost all political organizations of significance, from the far left to the far right, were infiltrated, often at the highest levels. Amongst other reasons, the left was infiltrated to channel young radicals away from support to Cuba and from anti-Americanism; the right, to instigate and co-ordinate activities along the lines of CIA priorities. If, at a point in time, there was no organization that appeared well-suited to serve a particular need, then one would be created.
     Or a new group of "concerned citizens" would appear, fronted with noted personalities, which might place a series of notices in leading newspapers denouncing the penetration of the government by the extreme left and demanding a break with Cuba. Or one of the noted personalities would deliver a speech prepared by the CIA, and then a newspaper editor, or a well-known columnist, would praise it, both gentlemen being on the CIA payroll.
     Some of these fronts had an actual existence; for others, even their existence was phoney. On one occasion, the CIA Officer who had created the non-existent "Ecuadorean Anti-Communist Front" was surprised to read in his morning paper that a real organization with that name had been founded. He changed the name of his organization to "Ecuadorean Anti-Communist Action".
     Wooing the working class came in for special emphasis. An alphabet-soup of labor organizations, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them. Union leaders were invited to attend various classes conducted by the CIA in Ecuador or in the United States, all expenses paid, in order to impart to them the dangers of communism to the union movement and to select potential agents.
     This effort was not without its irony either. CIA agents would sometimes jealously vie with each other for the best positions in these CIA-created labor organizations; and at times Ecuadorean organizations would meet in "international conferences" with CIA labor fronts from other countries, with almost all of the participants blissfully unaware of who was who or what was what.
     In Ecuador, as throughout most of Latin America, the Agency planted phoney anti-communist news items in co-operating newspapers. These items would then be picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America and disseminated through a CIA-owned news agency, a CIA- owned radio station, or through countless journalists being paid on a piece-work basis, in addition to the item being picked up unwittingly by other media, including those in the United States. Anti-communist propaganda and news distortion (often of the most far-fetched variety) written in CIA offices would also appear in Latin American newspapers as unsigned editorials of the papers themselves.
     In virtually every department of the Ecuadorean government could be found men occupying positions, high and low, who collaborated with the CIA for money and/or their own particular motivation. At one point, the Agency could count amongst this number the men who were second and third in power in the country.
     These government agents would receive the benefits of information obtained by the CIA through electronic eavesdropping or other means, enabling them to gain prestige and promotion, or consolidate their current position in the rough-and-tumble of Ecuadorean politics. A high-ranking minister of leftist tendencies, on the other hand, would be the target of a steady stream of negative propaganda from any or all sources in the CIA arsenal; staged demonstrations against him would further increase the pressure on the president to replace him.
     The Postmaster-General, along with other post office employees, all members in good standing of the CIA Payroll Club, regularly sent mail arriving from Cuba and the Soviet bloc to the Agency for its perusal, while customs officials and the Director of Immigration kept the Agency posted on who went to or came from Cuba. When a particularly suitable target returned from Cuba, he would be searched at the airport and documents prepared by the CIA would be "found" on him. These documents, publicized as much as possible, might include instructions on "how to intensify hatred between classes", or some provocative language designed to cause a split in Communist Party ranks. Generally, the documents "verified" the worst fears of the public about communist plans to take over Ecuador under the masterminding of Cuba or the Soviet Union; at the same time, perhaps, implicating an important Ecuadorean leftist whose head the Agency was after. Similar revelations, staged by CIA stations elsewhere in Latin America, would be publicized in Ecuador as a warning that Ecuador was next.
     Agency financing of conservative groups in a quasi-religious campaign against Cuba and "atheistic communism" helped to seriously weaken President Velasco's power among the poor, primarily Indians, who had voted overwhelmingly for him, but who were even more deeply committed to their religion. If the CIA wished to know how the president was reacting to this campaign it need only turn to his physician, its agent, Dr. Felipe Ovalle, who would report that his patient was feeling considerable strain as a result.
     CIA agents would bomb churches or right-wing organizations and make it appear to be the work of leftists. They would march in left-wing parades displaying signs and shouting slogans of a very provocative anti-military nature, designed to antagonize the armed forces and hasten a coup.
     The Agency did not always get away clean with its dirty tricks. During the election campaign, on 19 March 1960, two senior colonels who were the CIA's main liaison agents within the National Police participated in a riot aimed at disrupting a Velasco demonstration. Agency officer Bob Weatherwax was in the forefront directing the police during the riot in which five Velasco supporters were killed and many wounded. When Velasco took office, he had the two colonels arrested and Weatherwax was asked to leave the country.
     CIA-supported activities were carried out without the knowledge of the American ambassador. When the Cuban Embassy publicly charged the Agency with involvement in various anti-Cuban activities, the American ambassador issued a statement that "had everyone in the [CIA] station smiling". Stated the ambassador: "The only agents in Ecuador who are paid by the United States are the technicians invited by the Ecuadorean government to contribute to raising the living standards of the Ecuadorean people."
     Finally, in November 1961, the military acted. Velasco was forced to resign and was replaced by Vice-President Carlos Julio Arosemana. There were at this time two prime candidates for the vice-presidency. One was the vice-president of the Senate, a CIA agent. The other was the rector of Central University, a political moderate. The day that Congress convened to make their choice, a notice appeared in a morning paper announcing support for the rector by the Communist Party and a militant leftist youth organization. The notice had been placed by a columnist for the newspaper who was the principal propaganda agent for the CIA's Quito station. The rector was compromised rather badly, the denials came too late, and the CIA man won. His Agency salary was increased from $700 to $1,000 a month.
     Arosemana soon proved no more acceptable to the CIA than Velasco. All operations continued, particularly the campaign to break relations with Cuba, which Arosemana steadfastly refused to do. The deadlock was broken in March 1962 when a military garrison, led by Col. Aurelio Naranjo, gave Arosemana 72 hours to send the Cubans packing and fire the leftist Minister of Labor. (There is no need to point out here who Naranjo's financial benefactor was.) Arosemana complied with the ultimatum, booting out the Czech and Polish delegations as well at the behest of the new cabinet which had been forced upon him.
     At the CIA station in Quito there was a champagne victory celebration. Elsewhere in Ecuador, people angry about the military's domination and desperate about their own lives, took to arms. But on this occasion, like others, it amounted to naught ... a small band of people, poorly armed and trained, infiltrated by agents, their every move known in advance -- confronted by a battalion of paratroopers, superbly armed and trained by the United States. That was in the field. In press reports, the small band grew to hundreds; armed not only to the teeth, but with weapons from "outside the country" (read Cuba), and the whole operation very carefully planned at the Communist Party Congress the month before.
     On 11 July 1963 the Presidential Palace in Quito was surrounded by tanks and troops. Arosemana was out, a junta was in. Their first act was to outlaw communism; "communists" and other "extreme" leftists were rounded up and jailed, the arrests campaign being facilitated by data from the CIA's Subversive Control Watch List. (Standard at many Agency stations, this list would include not only the subject's name, but the names and addresses of his relatives and friends and the places he frequented -- anything to aid in tracking him down when the time came.)
     Civil liberties were suspended; the 1964 elections canceled; another tale told many times in Latin America.

And during these three years, what were the American people told about this witch's brew of covert actions carried out, supposedly, in their name? Very little, if anything, if the New York Times is any index. Not once during the entire period, up to and including the coup, was any indication given in any article or editorial on Ecuador that the CIA or any other arm of the US government had played any role whatever in any event which had occurred in that country. This is the way the writings read even if one looks back at them with the advantage of knowledge and hindsight and reads between the lines.
     There is a solitary exception. Following the coup, we find a tiny announcement on the very bottom of page 20 that Havana radio had accused the United States of instigating the military takeover.{2} The Cuban government had been making public charges about American activities in Ecuador regularly, but this was the first one to make the New York Times. The question must be asked: Why were these charges deemed unworthy of reporting or comment, let alone investigation?
1. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (New York, 1975) pp. 106-316, passim. Agee's book made him Public Enemy No. One of the CIA. In a review of the book, however, former Agency official Miles Copeland -- while not concealing his distaste for Agee's "betrayal" -- stated that "The book is interesting as an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British `case officer' operates ... As a spy handler in Quito, Montevideo and Mexico City, he has first-hand information ... All of it, just as his publisher claims, is presented `with deadly accuracy'." (The Spectator, London, 11 January 1975, p. 40.)

2. New York Times, 14 July 1963, p. 20. For an interesting and concise discussion of the political leanings of Velasco and Arosemana, see John Gerassi, The Great Fear in Latin America (New York, 1965, revised edition) pp. 141-8.

33.  URUGUAY  1964 to 1970
Torture -- as American as apple pie

     "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect."{1}
     The words of an instructor in the art of torture. The words of Dan Mitrione, the head of the Office of Public Safety (OPS) mission in Montevideo.
     Officially, OPS was a division of the Agency for International Development, but the director of OPS in Washington, Byron Engle, was an old CIA hand. His organization maintained a close working relationship with the CIA, and Agency officers often operated abroad under OPS cover, although Mitrione was not one of them.{2}
     OPS had been operating formally in Uruguay since 1965, supplying the police with the equipment, the arms, and the training it was created to do. Four years later, when Mitrione arrived, the Uruguayans had a special need for OPS services. The country was in the midst of a long-running economic decline, its once-heralded prosperity and democracy sinking fast toward the level of its South American neighbors. Labor strikes, student demonstrations, and militant street violence had become normal events during the past year; and, most worrisome to the Uruguayan authorities, there were the revolutionaries who called themselves Tupamaros. Perhaps the cleverest, most resourceful and most sophisticated urban guerrillas the world has ever seen, the Tupamaros had a deft touch for capturing the public's imagination with outrageous actions, and winning sympathizers with their Robin Hood philosophy. Their members and secret partisans held key positions in the government, banks, universities, and the professions, as well as in the military and police.
     "Unlike other Latin-American guerrilla groups," the New York Times stated in 1970, "the Tupamaros normally avoid bloodshed when possible. They try instead to create embarrassment for the Government and general disorder."{3} A favorite tactic was to raid the files of a private corporation to expose corruption and deceit in high places, or kidnap a prominent figure and try him before a "People's Court". It was heady stuff to choose a public villain whose acts went uncensored by the legislature, the courts and the press, subject him to an informed and uncompromising interrogation, and then publicize the results of the intriguing dialogue. Once they ransacked an exclusive high-class nightclub and scrawled on the walls perhaps their most memorable slogan: O Bailan Todos O No Baila Nadie ... Either everyone dances or no one dances.

Dan Mitrione did not introduce the practice of torturing political prisoners to Uruguay. It had been perpetrated by the police at times from at least the early 1960s. However, in a surprising interview given to a leading Brazilian newspaper in 1970, the former Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, Alejandro Otero, declared that US advisers, and in particular Mitrione, had instituted torture as a more routine measure; to the means of inflicting pain, they had added scientific refinement; and to that a psychology to create despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and telling the prisoner that it was his family being tortured.{4}
     "The violent methods which were beginning to be employed," said Otero, "caused an escalation in Tupamaro activity. Before then their attitude showed that they would use violence only as a last resort."{5}
     The newspaper interview greatly upset American officials in South America and Washington. Byron Engle later tried to explain it all away by asserting: "The three Brazilian reporters in Montevideo all denied filing that story. We found out later that it was slipped into the paper by someone in the composing room at the Jornal do Brasil."{6}
     Otero had been a willing agent of the CIA, a student at their International Police Services school in Washington, a recipient of their cash over the years, but he was not a torturer. What finally drove him to speak out was perhaps the torture of a woman who, while a Tupamaro sympathizer, was also a friend of his. When she told him that Mitrione had watched and assisted in her torture, Otero complained to him, about this particular incident as well as his general methods of extracting information. The only outcome of the encounter was Otero's demotion.{7}

William Cantrell was a CIA operations officer stationed in Montevideo, ostensibly as a member of the OPS team. In the mid- 1960s he was instrumental in setting up a Department of Information and Intelligence (DII), and providing it with funds and equipment.{8} Some of the equipment, innovated by the CIA's Technical Services Division, was for the purpose of torture, for this was one of the functions carried out by the DII.{9} "
     One of the pieces of equipment that was found useful," former New York Times correspondent A. J. Langguth learned, "was a wire so very thin that it could be fitted into the mouth between the teeth and by pressing against the gum increase the electrical charge. And it was through the diplomatic pouch that Mitrione got some of the equipment he needed for interrogations, including these fine wires."{10}
     Things got so bad in Mitrione's time that the Uruguayan Senate was compelled to undertake an investigation. After a five-month study, the commission concluded unanimously that torture in Uruguay had become a "normal, frequent and habitual occurrence", inflicted upon Tupamaros as well as others. Among the types of torture the commission's report made reference to were electric shocks to the genitals, electric needles under the fingernails, burning with cigarettes, the slow compression of the testicles, daily use of psychological torture ... "pregnant women were subjected to various brutalities and inhuman treatment" ... "certain women were imprisoned with their very young infants and subjected to the same treatment" ...{11}
      Eventually the DII came to serve as a cover for the Escuadr—n de la Muerte (Death Squad), composed, as elsewhere in Latin America, primarily of police officers, who bombed and strafed the homes of suspected Tupamaro sympathizers and engaged in assassination and kidnapping. The Death Squad received some of its special explosive material from the Technical Services Division and, in all likelihood, some of the skills employed by its members were acquired from instruction in the United States.{12} Between 1969 and 1973, at least 16 Uruguayan police officers went through an eight-week course at CIA/OPS schools in Washington and Los Fresnos, Texas in the design, manufacture and employment of bombs and incendiary devices.{13} The official OPS explanation for these courses was that policemen needed such training in order to deal with bombs placed by terrorists. There was, however, no instruction in destroying bombs, only in making them; moreover, on at least one reported occasion, the students were not policemen, but members of a private right-wing organization in Chile (see chapter on Chile). Another part of the curriculum which might also have proven to be of value to the Death Squad was the class on Assassination Weapons -- "A discussion of various weapons which may be used by the assassin" is how OPS put it.{14}
      Equipment and training of this kind was in addition to that normally provided by OPS: riot helmets, transparent shields, tear gas, gas masks, communication gear, vehicles, police batons, and other devices for restraining crowds. The supply of these tools of the trade was increased in 1968 when public disturbances reached the spark-point, and by 1970 American training in riot-control techniques had been given to about a thousand Uruguayan policemen.{15}

Dan Mitrione had built a soundproofed room in the cellar of his house in Montevideo. In this room he assembled selected Uruguayan police officers to observe a demonstration of torture techniques. Another observer was Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, a Cuban who was with the CIA and worked with Mitrione. Hevia later wrote that the course began with a description of the human anatomy and nervous system ...
Soon things turned unpleasant. As subjects for the first testing they took beggars, known in Uruguay as bichicomes, from the outskirts of Montevideo, as well as a woman apparently from the frontier area with Brazil. There was no interrogation, only a demonstration of the effects of different voltages on the different parts of the human body, as well as demonstrating the use of a drug which induces vomiting -- I don't know why or what for -- and another chemical substance. The four of them died.{16}
     In his book Hevia does not say specifically what Mitrione's direct part in all this was, but he later publicly stated that the OPS chief "personally tortured four beggars to death with electric shocks".{17}
     On another occasion, Hevia sat with Mitrione in the latter's house, and over a few drinks the American explained to the Cuban his philosophy of interrogation. Mitrione considered it to be an art. First there should be a softening-up period, with the usual beatings and insults. The object is to humiliate the prisoner, to make him realize his helplessness, to cut him off from reality. No questions, only blows and insults. Then, only blows in silence.
     Only after this, said Mitrione, is the interrogation. Here no pain should be produced other than that caused by the instrument which is being used. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect," was his motto.
     During the session you have to keep the subject from losing all hope of life, because this can lead to stubborn resistance. "You must always leave him some hope ... a distant light."
     "When you get what you want, and I always get it," Mitrione continued, "it may be good to prolong the session a little to apply another softening-up. Not to extract information now, but only as a political measure, to create a healthy fear of meddling in subversive activities."
     The American pointed out that upon receiving a subject the first thing is to determine his physical state, his degree of resistance, by means of a medical examination. "A premature death means a failure by the technician ... It's important to know in advance if we can permit ourselves the luxury of the subject's death."{18}
     Not long after this conversation, Manual Hevia disappeared from Montevideo and turned up in Havana. He had been a Cuban agent -- a double agent -- all along.
     About half a year later, 31 July 1970 to be exact, Dan Mitrione was kidnapped by the Tupamaros. They did not torture him. They demanded the release of some 150 prisoners in exchange for him. With the determined backing of the Nixon administration, the Uruguayan government refused. On 10 August, Mitrione's dead body was found on the back seat of a stolen car. He had turned 50 on his fifth day as a prisoner.
     Back in Mitrione's home town of Richmond, Indiana, Secretary of State William Rogers and President Nixon's son-in-law David Eisenhower attended the funeral for Mitrione, the city's former police chief. Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis came to town to stage a benefit show for Mitrione's family.
     And White House spokesman, Ron Ziegler, solemnly stated that "Mr. Mitrione's devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world will remain as an example for free men everywhere."{19}
     "A perfect man," his widow said.
     "A great humanitarian," said his daughter Linda.{20}                                    

The military's entry into the escalating conflict signaled the beginning of the end for the Tupamaros. By the end of 1972, the curtain was descending on their guerrilla theatre. Six months later, the military was in charge, Congress was dissolved, and everything not prohibited was compulsory. For the next 11 years, Uruguay competed strongly for the honor of being South America's most repressive dictatorship. It had, at one point, the largest number of political prisoners per capita in the world. And, as every human rights organization and former prisoner could testify, each one of them was tortured. "Torture," said an activist priest, "was routine and automatic."{21}
     No one was dancing in Uruguay.

In 1981, at the Fourteenth Conference of American Armies, the Uruguayan Army offered a paper in which it defined subversion as "actions, violent or not, with ultimate purposes of a political nature, in all fields of human activity within the internal sphere of a state and whose aims are perceived as not convenient for the overall political system."{22}
     The dissident Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, summed up his country's era of dictatorship thusly: "People were in prison so that prices could be free."{23}
     The film "State of Siege" appeared in 1972. It centered around Mitrione and the Tupamaros and depicted a Uruguayan police officer receiving training at a secret bomb school in the United States, though the film strove more to provide a composite picture of the role played by the US in repression throughout Latin America. A scheduled premier showing of the film at the federally-funded John F. Kennedy Arts Center in Washington was canceled. There was already growing public and congressional criticism of this dark side of American foreign policy without adding to it. During the mid-1970s, however, Congress enacted several pieces of legislation which abolished the entire Public Safety Program. In its time, OPS had provided training for more than one million policemen in the Third World. Ten thousand of them had received advance training in the United States. An estimated $150 million worth of equipment had been shipped to police forces abroad.{24} Now, the "export of repression" was to cease.
     That was on paper. The reality appears to be somewhat different.
     To a large extent, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) simply picked up where OPS had left off. The drug agency was ideally suited for the task, for its agents were already deployed all over Latin America and elsewhere overseas in routine liaison with foreign police forces. The DEA acknowledged in 1975 that 53 "former" employees of the CIA were now on its staff and that there was a close working relationship between the two agencies. The following year, the General Accounting Office reported that DEA agents were engaging in many of the same activities the OPS had been carrying out.
     In addition, some training of foreign policemen was transferred to FBI schools in Washington and Quantico, Virginia; the Defense Department continued to supply police-type equipment to military units engaged in internal security operations; and American arms manufacturers were doing a booming business furnishing arms and training to Third World governments. In some countries, contact between these companies and foreign law enforcement officials was facilitated by the US Embassy or military mission. The largest of the arms manufacturers, Smith and Wesson, ran its own Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, which provided American and foreign "public and industrial security forces with expert training in riot control".{25}
     Said Argentine Minister Jose Lopez Rega at the signing of a US-Argentina anti-drug treaty in 1974: "We hope to wipe out the drug traffic in Argentina. We have caught guerrillas after attacks who were high on drugs. The guerrillas are the main drug users in Argentina. Therefore, this anti-drug campaign will automatically be an anti-guerrilla campaign as well."{26}
     And in 1981, a former Uruguayan intelligence officer declared that US manuals were being used to teach techniques of torture to his country's military. He said that most of the officers who trained him had attended classes run by the United States in Panama. Among other niceties, the manuals listed 35 nerve points where electrodes could be applied.{27}
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Philip Agee, after he left Ecuador, was stationed in Uruguay from March 1964 to August 1966. His account of CIA activities in Montevideo is further testimony to the amount of international mischief money can buy. Amongst the multifarious dirty tricks pulled off with impunity by Agee and his Agency cohorts, the following constitute an interesting sample:{28}
     A Latin American students' conference with a leftist leaning, held in Montevideo, was undermined by promoting the falsehood that it was nothing more than a creature of the Soviet Union -- originated, financed and directed by Moscow. Editorials on this theme authored by the CIA appeared in leading newspapers to which the Agency had daily access. This was followed by publication of a forged letter of a student leader thanking the Soviet cultural attaché for his assistance. A banner headline in one paper proclaimed: "Documents for the Break with Russia", which was indeed the primary purpose of the operation.
     An inordinate amount of time, energy and creativity was devoted, with moderate success, to schemes aimed at encouraging the expulsion of an assortment of Russians, East Germans, North Koreans, Czechs, and Cubans from Uruguayan soil, if not the breaking of relations with these countries. In addition to planting disparaging media propaganda, the CIA tried to obtain incriminating information by reading the mail and diplomatic cables to and from these countries, tapping embassy phones, and engaging in sundry bugging and surreptitious entry. The Agency would then prepare "Intelligence" reports, containing enough factual information to be plausible, which then made their way innocently into the hands of officials of influence, up to and including the president of the republic.
     Anti-communist indoctrination of secondary-level students was promoted by financing particular school organizations and publications.
      A Congress of the People, bringing together a host of community groups, labor organizations, students, government workers, etc., Communist and non-Communist, disturbed the CIA because of the potential for a united front being formed for electoral purposes. Accordingly, newspaper editorials and articles were generated attacking the Congress as a classic Communist takeover/duping tactic and calling upon non-Communists to refrain from participating; and a phoney handbill was circulated in which the Congress called upon the Uruguayan people to launch an insurrectional strike with immediate occupation of their places of work. Thousands of the handbills were handed out, provoking angry denials from the Congress organizers, but, as is usual in such cases, the damage was already done.
      The Uruguayan Communist Party planned to host an international conference to express solidarity with Cuba. The CIA merely had to turn to their (paid) friend, the Minister of the Interior, and the conference was banned. When it was shifted to Chile, the CIA station in Santiago performed the same magic.
     Uruguay at this time was a haven for political exiles from repressive regimes such as in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. The CIA, through surveillance and infiltration of the exile community, regularly collected information on exiles' activities, associates, etc., to be sent to CIA stations in the exiles' homelands with likely transmission to their governments, which wanted to know what these troublemakers were up to and which did not hesitate to harass them across frontiers.
     "Other operations," wrote Agee, "were designed to take control of the streets away from communists and other leftists, and our squads, often with the participation of off-duty policemen, would break up their meetings and generally terrorize them. Torture of communists and other extreme leftists was used in interrogation by our liaison agents in the police."

The monitoring and harassment of Communist diplomatic missions by the CIA, as described above, was standard Agency practice throughout the Western world. This rarely stemmed from anything more than a juvenile cold-war reflex: making life hard for the commies. Looked at from any angle, it was politically and morally pointless. Richard Gott, the Latin America specialist ofThe Guardian of London, related an anecdote which is relevant:
In January 1967 a group of Brazilians and a Uruguayan asked for political asylum in the Czech embassy in Montevideo, stating that they wished to go to a Socialist country to pursue their revolutionary activities. They were, they said, under constant surveillance and harassment from the Uruguayan police. The Czech ambassador was horrified by their request and threw them out, saying that there was no police persecution in Uruguay. When the revolutionaries camped in his garden the ambassador called the police.{29}
Postscript: In 1998, Eladio Moll, a retired Uruguayan navy rear admiral and former intelligence chief, testifying before a commission of the Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies, stated that during Uruguay's "dirty war" (1972-1983), orders came from the United States to kill captive members of the Tupamaros after interrogating them. "The guidance that was sent from the US," said Moll, "was that what had to be done with the captured guerrillas was to get information, and that afterwards they didn't deserve to live." {30}

1. Manuel Hevia Cosculluela, Pasaporte 11333: Ocho Años con la CIA (Havana, 1978), p. 286.

2. A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors (New York, 1978) pp. 48-9, 51 and passim. Langguth was formerly with the New York Times and in 1965 served as Saigon Bureau Chief for the newspaper.
3. New York Times, 1 August 1970.
4. Langguth, pp. 285-7; New York Times, 15 August 1970.
5. Alain Labrousse, The Tupamaros: Urban Guerrillas in Uruguay (Penguin Books, London, 1973, translation from French 1970 edition) p. 103.
6. Langguth, p. 289.
7. Langguth, pp. 232-3, 253-4; Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (New York, 1975), see index (Otero's relationship to the CIA).
8. Major Carlos Wilson, The Tupamaros: The Unmentionables (Boston, 1974) pp. 106-7; Langguth, p. 236. Agee, p. 478, confirms Cantrell's identity.
9. Langguth, p. 252.
10. Interview of Langguth in the film "On Company Business" (Directed by Allan Francovich), cited in Warner Poelchau, ed., White Paper, Whitewash (New York, 1981) p. 66.
11. Extracts from the report of the Senate Commission of Inquiry into Torture, a document accompanying the film script in State of Siege (Ballantine Books, New York, 1973) pp. 194-6; also see "Death of a Policeman: Unanswered Questions About a Tragedy", Commonweal (Catholic biweekly magazine, New York), 18 September 1970, p. 457; Langguth, p. 249.
12. Death Squad, TSD: Langguth, pp. 245-6, 253.
13. Michael Klare and Nancy Stein, "Police Terrorism in Latin America", NACLA's Latin America and Empire Report (North American Congress on Latin America), January 1974, pp. 19-23, based on State Department documents obtained by Senator James Abourezk in 1973; also see Jack Anderson, Washington Post, 8 October 1973, p. C33; Langguth, pp. 242-3.
14. Klare and Stein, p. 19.
15. New York Times, 25 September 1968, 1 August 1970; Langguth, p. 241.
16. Hevia, p. 284, translated from the Spanish and slightly paraphrased by author; a similar treatment of this and other passages from Hevia can be found in Langguth, pp. 311-13.
17. New York Times, 5 August 1978, p. 3.
18. Mitrione's philosophy: Hevia, pp. 286-7 (see note 16 above).
19. Poelchau, p. 68.
20. Langguth, p. 305.
21. The Guardian (London) 19 October 1984.
22. Lawrence Weschler, A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts With Torturers (Penguin Books, 1991) p. 121
23. Ibid., p. 147, said to Weschler by Galeano.
24. Nancy Stein and Michael Klare, "Merchants of Repression", NACLA's Latin America and Empire Report (North American Congress on Latin America), July-August 1976, p. 31.
25. DEA, arms manufacturers, etc.: Stein and Klare, pp. 31-2; New York Times, 23 January 1975, p. 38; 26 January 1975, p 42; Langguth, p. 301.
26. Argentine Commission for Human Rights, Washington, DC: Report entitled "U.S. Narcotics Enforcement Assistance to Latin America", 10 March 1977, reference to a May 1974 press conference in Argentina.
27. San Francisco Chronicle, 2 November 1981.
28. Agee, pp. 325-493, passim.
29. From Gott's Introduction to Labrousse, p. 7.
30. Cable News Network en Español, 23 July 1998; El Diario-La Prensa (New York) 24 July 1998; Clarin (Buenos Aires) 22 July 1998, p. 45

37.  GUATEMALA  1962 to 1980s
      A less publicized "final solution"

     Indians tell harrowing stories of village raids in which
     their homes have been burned, men tortured hideously and
     killed, women raped, and scarce crops destroyed. It is
     Guatemala's final solution to insurgency: only mass
     slaughter of the Indians will prevent them joining a mass
This newspaper item appeared in 1983.  Very similar stories have
appeared many times in the world press since 1966, for
Guatemala's "final solution" has been going on rather longer than
the more publicized one of the Nazis.
     It would be difficult to exaggerate the misery of the
mainly-Indian peasants and urban poor of Guatemala who make up
three-quarters of the population of this beautiful land so
favored by American tourists.  The particulars of their existence
derived from the literature of this period sketch a caricature of
human life.  In a climate where everything grows, very few escape
the daily ache of hunger or the progressive malnutrition ...
almost half the children die before the age of five ... the
leading cause of death in the country is gastro-enteritis.
Highly toxic pesticides sprayed indiscriminately by airplanes, at
times directly onto the heads of peasants, leave a trail of
poisoning and death ... public health services in rural areas are
virtually non-existent ... the same for public education ...
near-total illiteracy.  A few hundred families possess almost all
the arable land ... thousands of families without land, without
work, jammed together in communities of cardboard and tin houses,
with no running water or electricity, a sea of mud during the
rainy season, sharing their bathing and toilet with the animal
kingdom.  Men on coffee plantations earning 20 cents or 50 cents
a day, living in circumstances closely resembling concentration
camps ... looked upon by other Guatemalans more as beasts of
burden than humans.  A large plantation to sell, reads the
advertisement, "with 200 hectares and 300 Indians" ... this, then
was what remained of the ancient Mayas, whom the American
archeologist Sylvanus Morely had called the most splendid
indigenous people on the planet.{2}
     The worst was yet to come.
     We have seen how, in 1954, Guatemala's last reform
government, the legally-elected regime of Jacobo Arbenz, was
overthrown by the United States.  And how, in 1960, nationalist
elements of the Guatemalan military who were committed to
slightly opening the door to change were summarily crushed by the
CIA.  Before long, the ever-accumulating discontent again issued
forth in a desperate lunge for alleviation -- this time in the
form of a guerrilla movement -- only to be thrown back by a
Guatemalan-American operation reminiscent of the Spanish
conquistadores in its barbarity.
     In the early years of the 1960s, the guerilla movement, with
several military officers of the abortive 1960 uprising prominent
amongst the leadership, was slowly finding its way: organizing
peasant support in the countryside, attacking an army outpost to
gather arms, staging a kidnapping or bank robbery to raise money,
trying to avoid direct armed clashes with the Guatemalan
     Recruitment amongst the peasants was painfully slow and
difficult; people so drained by the daily struggle to remain
alive have little left from which to draw courage; people so
downtrodden scarcely believe they have the right to resist, much
less can they entertain thoughts of success; as fervent
Catholics, they tend to believe that their misery is a punishment
from God for sinning.
     Some of the guerrilla leaders flirted with Communist Party
and Trotskyist ideas and groups, falling prey to the usual
factional splits and arguments.  Eventually, no ideology or
sentiment dominated the movement more than a commitment to the
desperately needed program of land reform aborted by the 1954
coup, a simple desire for a more equitable society, and
nationalist pride vis-ˆ-vis the United States.  New
York Times, correspondent Alan Howard, after interviewing
guerrilla leader Luis Turcios, wrote:  

Though he has suddenly found himself in a position of
     political leadership, Turcios is essentially a soldier
     fighting for a new code of honor.  If he has an alter
     ego, it would not be Lenin or Mao or even Castro, whose
     works he has read and admires, but Augusto Sandino, the
     Nicaraguan general who fought the U.S. Marines sent to
     Nicaragua during the Coolidge and Hoover Administrations.{3}  

In March 1962, thousands of demonstrators took to the
streets in protest against the economic policies, the deep-rooted
corruption, and the electoral fraud of the government of General
Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes.  Initiated by students, the
demonstrations soon picked up support from worker and peasant
groups.  Police and military forces eventually broke the back of
the protests, but not before a series of violent confrontations
and a general strike had taken place.
     The American military mission in Guatemala, permanently
stationed there, saw and heard in this, as in the burgeoning
guerrilla movement, only the omnipresent "communist threat".  As
US military equipment flowed in, American advisers began to prod
a less-alarmed and less-than-aggressive Guatemalan army to take
appropriate measures.  In May the United States established a
base designed specifically for counter-insurgency training.  (The
Pentagon prefers the term "counter-insurgency" to
"counter-revolutionary" because of the latter's awkward
implications.)  Set up in the northeast province of Izabal,
which, together with adjacent Zacapa province, constituted the area of
heaviest guerrilla support, the installation was directed by a
team of US Special Forces (Green Berets) of Puerto Rican and Mexican
descent to make the North American presence less conspicuous.
The staff of the base was augmented by 15 Guatemalan officers trained
in counter-insurgency at the US School of the Americas at Fort
Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone.{4}
     American counter-insurgency strategy is typically based on a
carrot-and-stick philosophy.  Accordingly, while the Guatemalan
military were being taught techniques of ambush, booby-traps,
jungle survival and search-and-destroy warfare, and provided with
aircraft and pilot training, a program of "civil action" was
begun in the northeast area: some wells were built, medicines
distributed, school lunches provided etc., as well as promises of
other benefits made, all aimed at stealing a bit of the
guerrillas' thunder and reducing the peasants' motivation for
furnishing support to them; and with the added bonus of allowing
American personnel to reconnoitre guerrilla territory under a
non-military cover.  Land reform, overwhelmingly the most
pressing need in rural Guatemala, was not on the agenda.
     As matters were to materialize, the attempt at "winning the
hearts and minds" of the peasants proved to be as futile in
Guatemala as it was in southeast Asia.  When all the academic
papers on "social systems engineering" were in, and all the
counter-insurgency studies of the RAND Corporation and the other
think-tanks were said and done, the recourse was to terror:
unadulterated, dependable terror.  Guerrillas, peasants,
students, labor leaders, and professional people were jailed or
killed by the hundreds to put a halt, albeit temporarily, to the
demands for reform.{5}
     The worst was yet to come.

In March 1963, General Ydigoras, who had been elected in 1958 for
a six-year term, was overthrown in a coup by Col. Enrique Peralta
Azurdia.  Veteran Latin American correspondent Georgie Anne Geyer
later reported that "Top sources within the Kennedy
administration have revealed the U.S. instigated and supported
the 1963 coup."  Already in disfavor with Washington due to
several incidents, Ydigoras apparently sealed his fate by
allowing the return to Guatemala of Juan José
Arévalo who had led a reform government before Arbenz and still had a
strong following.  Ydigoras was planning to step down in 1964,
thus leaving the door open to an election and, like the Guatemalan
army, Washington, including President Kennedy personally,
believed that a free election would reinstate Arévalo to
power in a government bent upon the same kind of reforms and
independent foreign policy that had led the United States to
overthrow Arbenz.{6}  Arévalo was the author of a book
called The Shark and the Sardines in which he pictured the US as
trying to dominate Latin America.  But he had also publicly
denounced Castro as "a danger to the continent, a menace".{7}
     The tone of the Peralta administration was characterized by
one of its first acts: the murder of eight political and trade
union leaders, accomplished by driving over them with rock-laden
trucks.{8}  Repressive and brutal as Peralta was, during his
three years in power US military advisers felt that the
government and the Guatemalan army still did not appreciate
sufficiently the threat posed by the guerrillas, still were
strangers to the world of unconventional warfare and the
systematic methods needed to wipe out the guerrillas once and for
all; despite American urging, the army rarely made forays into
the hills.
     Peralta, moreover, turned out to be somewhat of a
nationalist who resented the excessive influence of the United
States in Guatemala, particularly in his own sphere, the
military.  He refused insistent American offers of Green Beret
troops trained in guerrilla warfare to fight the rebels,
preferring to rely on his own men, and he restricted the number
of Guatemalan officers permitted to participate in American
training programs abroad.
     Thus it was that the United States gave its clear and firm
backing to a civilian, one Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro, in the
election held in March 1966.  Mendez won what passes for an
election in Guatemala and granted the Americans the free hand
they had been chafing at the bit for.  He served another
important function for the United States: as a civilian, and one
with genuine liberal credentials, Mendez could be pointed to by
the Johnson administration as a response to human rights critics
at home.
     However, whatever social conscience Julio Cesar Mendez may
have harbored deep within, he was largely a captive of the
Guatemalan army, and his administration far exceeded Peralta's in
its cruelty.  Yet the army did not trust this former law school
professor -- in the rarefied atmosphere of Guatemala, some
military men regarded him as a communist -- and on at least two
occasions, the United States had to intervene to stifle a coup
attempt against him.
     Within days after Mendez took office in July, US Col. John
D. Webber, Jr. arrived in Guatemala to take command of the
American military mission.  Time magazine later described
his role:  

Webber immediately expanded counterinsurgency training
     within Guatemala's 5,000-man army, brought in U.S. Jeeps,
     trucks, communications equipment and helicopters to give
     the army more firepower and mobility, and breathed new
     life into the army's civic-action program.  Towards the
     end of 1966 the army was able to launch a major drive
     against the guerrilla strongholds ... To aid in the drive,
     the army also hired and armed local bands of "civilian
     collaborators" licensed to kill peasants whom they
     considered guerrillas or "potential" guerrillas.  There
     were those who doubted the wisdom of encouraging such
     measures in violence-prone Guatemala, but Webber was not
     among them.  "That's the way this country is," he said.
     "The communists are using everything they have including
     terror.  And it must be met."{9}  

The last was for home consumption.  There was never any
comparison between the two sides as to the quantity and cruelty
of their terror, as well as in the choice of targets; with rare
exceptions, the left attacked only legitimate political and
military enemies, clear and culpable symbols of their foe; and
they did not torture, nor take vengeance against the families of
their enemies.
     Two of the left's victims were John Webber himself and the
US naval attaché, assassinated in January 1968.  A bulletin
later issued by a guerrilla group stated that the assassinations
had "brought to justice the Yanqui officers who were teaching
tactics to the Guatemalan army for its war against the
     In the period October 1966 to March 1968, Amnesty
International estimated, somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000
Guatemalans were killed by the police, the military, right-wing
"death squads" (often the police or military in civilian clothes,
carrying out atrocities too bloody for the government to claim
credit for), and assorted groups of civilian anti-communist
vigilantes.  By 1972, the number of their victims was estimated
at 13,000.  Four years later the count exceeded 20,000, murdered
or disappeared without a trace.
     Anyone attempting to organize a union or other undertaking
to improve the lot of the peasants, or simply suspected of being
in support of the guerrillas, was subject ... unknown armed men
broke into their homes and dragged them away to unknown places
... their tortured or mutilated or burned bodies found buried in
a mass grave, or floating in plastic bags in a lake or river, or
lying beside the road, hands tied behind the back ... bodies
dropped into the Pacific from airplanes.  In the Gual n
area, it was said, no one fished any more; too many corpses were
caught in the nets ... decapitated corpses, or castrated, or
pins stuck in the eyes ... a village rounded up, suspected of
supplying the guerrillas with men or food or information, all
adult males takenaway in front of their families, never to be
seen again ... or everyone massacred, the village bulldozed
over to cover the traces ... seldom were the victims actual
members of a guerrilla band.
     One method of torture consisted of putting a hood filled
with insecticide over the head of the victim; there was also
electric shock -- to the genital area is the most effective; in
those days it was administered by using military field telephones
hooked up to small generators; the United States supplied the
equipment and the instructions for use to several countries,
including South Vietnam where the large-scale counter-insurgency
operation was producing new methods and devices for extracting
information from uncooperative prisoners; some of these
techniques were finding their way to Latin America.{11}
     The Green Berets taught their Guatemalan trainees various
methods of "interrogation", but they were not solely classroom
warriors.  Their presence in the countryside was reported
frequently, accompanying Guatemalan soldiers into battle areas;
the line separating the advisory role from the combat role is
often a matter of public relations.
     Thomas and Marjorie Melville, American Catholic missionaries
in Guatemala from the mid-1950s until the end of 1967, have
written that Col. Webber "made no secret of the fact that it was
his idea and at his instigation that the technique of
counter-terror had been implemented by the Guatemalan Army in the
Zacapa and Izabal areas."{12}  The Melvilles wrote also of Major
Bernard Westfall of Iowa City who:  

perished in September 1967 in the crash of a Guatemalan
     Air Force jet that he was piloting alone.  The official
     notices stated that the US airman was "testing" the
     aeroplane.  That statement may have been true, but it is
     also true that it was a common and public topic of
     conversation at Guatemala's La Aurora air base that the
     Major often "tested" Guatemalan aircraft in strafing and
     bombing runs against guerrilla encampments in the
     Northeastern territory.{13}  

F-51(D) fighter planes modified by the United States for use
against guerrillas in Guatemala ... after modification, the
planes are capable of patrolling for five hours over a limited
area ... equipped with six .50-calibre machine guns and wing
mountings for bombs, napalm and 5-inch air-to-ground rockets.{14}
The napalm falls on villages, on precious crops, on people ...
American pilots take off from Panama, deliver loads of napalm on
targets suspected of being guerrilla refuges, and return to
Panama{15} ... the napalm explodes like fireworks and a mass of
brilliant red foam spreads over the land, incinerating all that
falls in its way, cedars and pines are burned down to the roots,
animals grilled, the earth scorched ... the guerrillas will not
have this place for a sanctuary any longer, nor will they or
anyone else derive food from it ... halfway around the world in
Vietnam, there is an instant replay.
     In Vietnam they were called "free-fire zones"; in
Guatemala, "zonas libres": "Large areas of the country have been
declared off limits and then subjected to heavy bombing.
Reconnaissance planes using advanced photographic techniques fly
over suspected guerrilla country and jet planes, assigned to
specific areas, can be called in within minutes to kill anything
that moves on the ground."{16}
"The military guys who do this are like serial killers.  If
Jeffrey Dahmer had been in Guatemala, he would be a general by
now." ... In Guatemala City, right-wing terrorists machine-gunned
people and houses in full light of day ... journalists, lawyers,
students, teachers, trade unionists, members of opposition
parties, anyone who helped or expressed sympathy for the rebel
cause, anyone with a vaguely-leftist political association or a
moderate criticism of government policy ... relatives of the
victims, guilty of kinship ... common criminals, eliminated to
purify the society, taken from jails and shot.  "See a Communist,
kill a Communist", the slogan of the New Anticommunist
Organization ... an informer with hooded face accompanies the
police along a city street or into the countryside, pointing
people out: who shall live and who shall die ... "this one's a
son of a bitch" ... "that one ... "  Men found dead with their
eyes gouged out, their testicles in their mouth, without hands or
tongues, women with breasts cut off ... there is rarely a witness
to a killing, even when people are dragged from their homes at
high noon and executed in the street ... a relative will choose
exile rather than take the matter to the authorities ... the
government joins the family in mourning the victim ...{17}
     One of the death squads, Mano Blanca (White Hand), sent a
death warning to a student leader.  Former American Maryknoll
priest Blase Bonpane has written:

     I went alone to visit the head of the Mano Blanca and asked
     him why he was going to kill this lad.  At first he denied
     sending the letter, but after a bit of discussion with him
     and his first assistant, the assistant said, "Well, I know
     he's a Communist and so we're going to kill him."
     "How do you know?" I asked.
     He said, "I know he's a Communist because I heard him say
     he would give his life for the poor."{18}  

Mano Blanca distributed leaflets in residential areas
suggesting that doors of left-wingers be marked with a black
In November 1967, when the American ambassador, John Gordon Mein,
presented the Guatemalan armed forces with new armored vehicles,
grenade launchers, training and radio equipment, and several
HU-1B jet powered helicopters, he publicly stated:

     These articles, especially the helicopters, are not easy
     to obtain at this time since they are being utilized by
     our forces in defense of the cause of liberty in other
     parts of the world [i.e., southeast Asia].  But liberty
     must be defended wherever it is threatened and that
     liberty is now being threatened in Guatemala.{20}

In August 1968, a young French woman, Michele Kirk, shot herself
in Guatemala City as the police came to her room to make
"inquiries".  In her notebook Michele had written:

     It is hard to find the words to express the state of
     putrefaction that exists in Guatemala, and the permanent
     terror in which the inhabitants live.  Every day bodies
     are pulled out of the Motagua River, riddled with bullets
     and partially eaten by fish.  Every day men are kidnapped
     right in the street by unidentified people in cars, armed
     to the teeth, with no intervention by the police patrols.{21}

The US Agency for International Development (AID), its Office of
Public Safety (OPS), and the Alliance for Progress were all there
to lend a helping hand.  These organizations with their
reassuring names all contributed to a program to greatly expand
the size of Guatemala's national police force and develop it into
a professionalized body skilled at counteracting urban disorder.
Senior police officers and technicians were sent for training at
the Inter-American Police Academy in Panama, replaced in 1964 by
the International Police Academy in Washington, at a Federal
School in Los Fresnos, Texas (where they were taught how to
construct and use a variety of explosive devices - see Uruguay
chapter), and other educational establishments, their instructors
often being CIA officers operating under OPS cover.  This was
also the case with OPS officers stationed in Guatemala to advise
local police commands and provide in-country training for
rank-and-file policemen.  At times, these American officers
participated directly in interrogating political prisoners, took
part in polygraph operations, and accompanied the police on
anti-drug patrols.
     Additionally, the Guatemala City police force was completely
supplied with radio patrol cars and a radio communications
network, and funds were provided to build a national police
academy and pay for salaries, uniforms, weapons, and riot-control
     The glue which held this package together was the standard
OPS classroom tutelage, similar to that given the military, which
imparted the insight that "communists", primarily of the Cuban
variety, were behind all the unrest in Guatemala; the students
were further advised to "stay out of politics"; that is, support
whatever pro-US regime happens to be in power.
     Also standard was the advice to use "minimum force" and to
cultivate good community relations.  But the behavior of the
police and military students in practice was so far removed from
this that continued American involvement with these forces over a
period of decades makes this advice appear to be little more than
a self-serving statement for the record, the familiar
bureaucratic maxim: Cover your ass.{22}
     According to AID, by 1970, over 30,000 Guatemalan police
personnel had received OPS training in Guatemala alone, one of
the largest OPS programs in Latin America.{23}
     "At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from
top to bottom with CIA people," disclosed John Gilligan, Director
of AID during the Carter administration.  "The idea was to plant
operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government,
volunteer, religious, every kind."{24}
By the end of 1968, the counter-insurgency campaign had all but
wiped out the guerrilla movement by thwarting the rebels' ability
to operate openly and casually in rural areas as they had been
accustomed to, and, through sheer terrorization of villagers,
isolating the guerrillas from their bases of support in the
     It had been an unequal match.  By Pentagon standards it had
been a "limited" war, due to the absence of a large and overt US
combat force.  At the same time, this had provided the American
media and public with the illusion of their country's
non-involvement.  However, as one observer has noted: "In the
lexicon of counterrevolutionaries, these wars are "limited" only
in their consequences for the intervening power.  For the people and
country under assault, they are total."{25}
     Not until 1976 did another serious guerrilla movement arise,
the Guatemalan Army of the Poor (EGP) by name.  Meanwhile, others
vented their frustration through urban warfare in the face of
government violence, which reached a new high during 1970 and
1971 under a "state of siege" imposed by the president, Col.
Carlos Arana Osorio.  Arana, who had been close to the US
military since serving as Guatemalan military attachç in
Washington, and then as commander of the counter-insurgency
operation in Zacapa (where his commitment to his work earned him
the title of "the butcher of Zacapa"), decreed to himself
virtually unlimited power to curb opposition of any stripe.{26}
     Amnesty International later stated that Guatemalan sources,
including the Committee of the Relatives of Disappeared Persons,
claimed that over 7,000 persons disappeared or were found dead in
these two years.  "Foreign diplomats in Guatemala City," reported
Le Monde in 1971, "believe that for every political
assassination by left-wing revolutionaries fifteen murders are
committed by right-wing fanatics."{27}
     During a curfew so draconian that even ambulances, doctors
and fire engines reportedly were forbidden outside ... as
American police cars and paddy wagons patrolled the streets day
and night ... and American helicopters buzzed overhead ... the
United States saw fit to provide further technical assistance and
equipment to initiate a reorganization of Arana's police forces
to make them yet more efficient.{28}
"In response to a question [from a congressional investigator in
1971] as to what he conceived his job to be, a member of the US
Military Group (MILGP) in Guatemala replied instantly that it was
to make the Guatemalan Armed Forces as efficient as possible.
The next question as to why this was in the interest of the
United States was followed by a long silence while he reflected
on a point which had apparently never occurred to him."{29}
As for the wretched of Guatemala's earth ... in 1976 a major
earthquake shook the land, taking over 20,000 lives, largely of
the poor whose houses were the first to crumble ... the story was
reported of the American church relief worker who arrived to help
the victims; he was shocked at their appearance and their living
conditions; then he was informed that he was not in the
earthquake area, that what he was seeing was normal.{30}
     "The level of pesticide spraying is the highest in the
world," reported the New York Times in 1977, "and little
concern is shown for the people who live near the cotton fields"
... 30 or 40 people a day are treated for pesticide poisoning in
season, death can come within hours, or a longer lasting liver
malfunction ... the amounts of DDT in mothers' milk in Guatemala
are the highest in the Western world.  "It's very simple,"
explained a cotton planter, "more insecticide means more cotton,
fewer insects mean higher profits."  In an attack, guerrillas
destroyed 22 crop-duster planes; the planes were quickly replaced
thanks to the genius of American industry{31} ... and all the
pesticide you could ever want, from Monsanto Chemical Company of
St. Louis and Guatemala City.
     During the Carter presidency, in response to human-rights
abuses in Guatemala and other countries, several pieces of
congressional legislation were passed which attempted to curtail
military and economic aid to those nations.  In the years
preceding, similar prohibitions regarding aid to Guatemala had
been enacted into law.  The efficacy of these laws can be
measured by their number.  In any event, the embargoes were never
meant to be more than partial, and Guatemala also received
weapons and military equipment from Israel, at least part of
which was covertly underwritten by Washington.{32}
     As further camouflage, some of the training of Guatemala's
security forces was reportedly maintained by transferring it to
clandestine sites in Chile and Argentina.{33}

Testimony of an Indian woman:

My name is Rigoberta Menchú Tum.  I am a representative of the
"Vincente Menchú" [her father] Revolutionary Christians ... On
9 December 1979, my 16-year-old brother Patrocino was captured
and tortured for several days and then taken with twenty other
young men to the square in Chajul ... An officer of [President]
Lucas Garcia's army of murderers ordered the prisoners to be
paraded in a line.  Then he started to insult and threaten the
inhabitants of the village, who were forced to come out of
their houses to witness the event.  I was with my mother, and
we saw Patrocino; he had had his tongue cut out and his toes
cut off.  The officer jackal made a speech.  Every time he
paused the soldiers beat the Indian prisoners.
When he finished his ranting, the bodies of my brother and the
other prisoners were swollen, bloody, unrecognizable.  It was
monstrous, but they were still alive.
They were thrown on the ground and drenched with gasoline.
The soldiers set fire to the wretched bodies with torches
and the captain laughed like a hyena and forced the inhabitants
of Chajul to watch.  This was his objective -- that they should
be terrified and witness the punishment given to the

     In 1992, Rigoberta Menchú Tum was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize.

Testimony of Fred Sherwood (CIA pilot during the overthrow of the
Arbenz government in 1954 who settled in Guatemala and became
president of the American Chamber of Commerce), speaking in
Guatemala, September 1980:

Why should we be worried about the death squads?  They're
bumping off the commies, our enemies.  I'd give them more
power.  Hell, I'd get some cartridges if I could, and
everyone else would too ... Why should we criticize them?
The death squad -- I'm for it ... Shit!  There's no
question, we can't wait 'til Reagan gets in.  We hope
Carter falls in the ocean real quick ... We all feel that
he [Reagan] is our saviour.{35}

The Movement for National Liberation (MLN) was a prominent
political party.  It was the principal party in the Arana regime.
An excerpt from a radio broadcast in 1980 by the head of the
party, Mario Sandoval Alarcon ...

I admit that the MLN is the party of organized violence.
Organized violence is vigor, just as organized color is
scenery and organized sound is harmony.  There is nothing
wrong with organized violence; it is vigor, and the
MLN is a vigorous movement.{36}

     Mario Sandoval Alarcon and former president Arana ("the
butcher of Zacapa") "spent inaugural week mingling with the stars
of the Reagan inner circle", reported syndicated columnist Jack
Anderson.  Sandoval, who had worked closely with the CIA in the
overthrow of Arbenz, announced that he had met with Reagan
defense and foreign-policy advisers even before the election.
Right-wing Guatemalan leaders were elated by Reagan's victory.
They looked forward to a resumption of the hand-in-glove
relationship between American and Guatemalan security teams and
businessmen which had existed before Carter took office.{37}
     Before that could take place, however, the Reagan
administration first had to soften the attitude of Congress about
this thing called human rights.  In March 1981, two months after
Reagan's inaugural, Secretary of State Alexander Haig told a
congressional committee that there was a Soviet "hit list ... for
the ultimate takeover of Central America".  It was a "four phased
operation" of which the first part had been the "seizure of
Nicaragua".  "Next," warned Haig, "is El Salvador, to be followed
by Honduras and Guatemala."{38}
     This was the kind of intelligence information which one
would expect to derive from a captured secret document or KGB
defector.  But neither one of these was produced or mentioned,
nor did any of the assembled congressmen presume to raise the
     Two months later, General Vernon Walters, former Deputy
Director of the CIA, on a visit to Guatemala as Haig's special
emissary, was moved to proclaim that the United States hoped to
help the Guatemalan government defend "peace and liberty".{39}
     During this period, Guatemalan security forces, official and
unofficial, massacred at least 2,000 peasants (accompanied by the
usual syndrome of torture, mutilation and decapitation),
destroyed several villages, assassinated 76 officials of the
opposition Christian Democratic Party, scores of trade unionists,
and at least six catholic priests.{40}
     19 August 1981 ... unidentified gunmen occupy the town of
San Miguel Acatan, force the Mayor to give them a list of all
those who had contributed funds for the building of a school,
pick out 15 from the list (including three of the Mayor's
children), make them dig their own graves and shoot them.{41}
     In December, Ronald Reagan finally spoke out against
government repression.  He denounced Poland for crushing by
"brute force, the stirrings of liberty ... Our Government and
those of our allies, have expressed moral revulsion at the
police-state tactics of Poland's oppressors."{42}
     Using the loopholes in the congressional legislation, both
real and loosely interpreted, the Reagan administration, in its
first two years, chipped away at the spirit of the embargo: $3.1
million of jeeps and trucks, $4 million of helicopter spare
parts, $6.3 million of other military supplies.{43}  These were
amongst the publicly announced aid shipments; what was
transpiring covertly can only be guessed at in light of certain
disclosures: Jack Anderson revealed in August 1981 that the
United States was using Cuban exiles to train security forces in
Guatemala; in this operation, Anderson wrote, the CIA had
arranged "for secret training in the finer points of
assassination".{44}  The following year, it was reported that the
Green Berets had been instructing Guatemalan Army officers for
over two years in the finer points of warfare.{45}  And in 1983,
we learned that in the previous two years Guatemala's Air Force
helicopter fleet had somehow increased from eight to 27, all of
them American made, and that Guatemalan officers were once again
being trained at the US School of the Americas in Panama.{46}
     In March 1982, a coup put General Efrain Rios Montt,
a "born-again Christian" in power.  A month later, the Reagan
administration announced that it perceived signs of an
improvement in the state of human rights in the country and took
the occasion to justify a shipment of military aid.{47}  On the
first of July, Rios Montt announced a state of siege.  It
was to last more than eight months.  In his first six months in
power, 2,600 Indians and peasants were massacred, while during his
17-month reign, more than 400 villages were brutally wiped off
the map.{48}  In December 1982, Ronald Reagan, also a Christian, went
to see for himself.  After meeting with RÁos Montt, Reagan,
referring to the allegations of extensive human-rights abuses,
declared that the Guatemalan leader was receiving "a bad
Statement by the Guatemalan Army of the Poor, made in 1981 (by
which time the toll of people murdered by the government since
1954 had reached at least the 60,000 mark, and the sons of
one-time death-squad members were now killing the sons of the
Indians killed by their fathers):
The Guatemalan revolution is entering its third decade.
Ever since the government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown
in 1954, the majority of the Guatemalan people have been
seeking a way to move the country towards solving the
same problems which were present then and have only
worsened over time.

The counterrevolution, put in motion by the U.S. Government
and those domestic sectors committed to retaining every
single one of their privileges, dispersed and disorganized
the popular and democratic forces.  However, it did not
resolve any of the problems which had first given rise to
demands for economic, social and political change.  These
demands have been raised again and again in the last quarter
century, by any means that seemed appropriate at the time,
and have received each time the same repressive response as in

Statement by Father Thomas Melville, 1968:
     Having come to the conclusion that the actual state of violence,
composed of the malnutrition, ignorance, sickness and hunger of the
vast majority of the Guatemalan population, is the direct result of a
capitalist system that makes the defenseless Indian compete against
the powerful and well-armed landowner, my brother [Father Arthur
Melville] and I decided not to be silent accomplices of the mass
murder that this system generates.
     We began teaching the Indians that no one will defend their
rights, if they do not defend themselves.  If the government and
oligarchy are using arms to maintain them in their position of
misery, then they have the obligation to take up arms and defend
their God-given right to be men.  We were accused of being
communists along with the people who listened to us, and were
asked to leave the country by our religious superiors and the
U.S. ambassador [John Gordon Mein].  We did so.
    But I say here that I am a communist only if Christ was a
communist.  I did  what I did and will continue to do so because
of the teachings of Christ and  not because of Marx or Lenin.
And I say here too, that we are many more than the hierarchy
and the U.S. government think. When the fight breaks out more
in the open, let the world know that we do it  not for Russia,
not for China, nor any other country, but for Guatemala.  Our
response to the present situation is not because we have read
either Marx or Lenin, but because we have read the New

Postscript, a small sample:

     1988: Guatemala continues to suffer the worst record of
human-rights abuses in Latin America, stated the Council on
Hemispheric Affairs in its annual report on human rights in the
Western Hemisphere.{52}
     1990: Guatemalan soldiers at the army base in Santiago
Atitl n opened fire on unarmed townspeople carrying white
flags, killing 14 and wounding 24.  The people had come with
their mayor to speak to the military commander about repeated
harassment from the soldiers.{53}
     1990: "The United States, said to be disillusioned because
of persistent corruption in the government of President Vinicio
Cerezo Arevalo, is reportedly turning to Guatemala's military to
promote economic and political stability ... even though the
military is blamed for human rights abuses and is believed to be
involved in drug trafficking."{54}
     This was reported in May.  In June, a prominent American
businessman living in Guatemala, Michael DeVine, was kidnapped
and nearly beheaded by the Guatemalan military after he
apparently stumbled upon the military's drug trafficking and/or
other contraband activities.  The Bush administration, in a show
of public anger over the killing, cut off military aid to
Guatemala, but, we later learned, secretly allowed the CIA to
provide millions of dollars to the military government to make up
for the loss.  The annual payments of $5 to $7 million apparently
continued into the Clinton administration.
     1992: In March, Guatemalan guerrilla leader, Efrain Bamaca
Velasquez, was captured and disappeared.  For the next three
years, his American wife, attorney Jennifer Harbury, waged an
impassioned international campaign -- including public fasts in
Guatemala City (nearly to death) and in Washington -- to pressure
the Guatemalan and American governments for information about her
husband's fate.  Both governments insisted that they knew
nothing.  Finally, in March 1995, Rep. Robert Torricelli of the
House Intelligence Committee revealed that Bamaca had been
tortured and executed the same year of his capture, and that he,
as well as DeVine, had been murdered on the orders of Col. Julio
Roberto Alpírez, who had been on the CIA payroll for
several years.  (Alpírez thus becoming another illustrious
graduate of Fort Benning's School of the Americas).  The facts
surrounding these cases were known early on by the CIA, and by
officials at the State Department and National Security Council
at least a few months before the disclosure.  Toricelli's
announcement prompted several other Americans to come forward
with tales of murder, rape or torture of themselves or a relation
at the hands of the Guatemalan military.  Sister Dianna Ortiz,
a nun, related how, in 1989, she was kidnapped, burned with
cigarettes, raped repeatedly, and lowered into a pit full of
corpses and rats.  A fair-skinned man who spoke with an American
accent seemed to be in charge, she said.{55}


The details of the events and issues touched upon in this chapter
through 1968 were derived primarily from the following sources:
a)  Thomas and Marjorie Melville, Guatemala -- Another Vietnam?
(Great Britain, 1971) Chapters 9 to 16; particularly for the
conditions of the poor, and US activities in Guatemala. Published
in the United States the same year in a slightly different form
as Guatemala: The Politics of Land Ownership.
b)  Eduardo Galeano, Guatemala, Occupied Country (Mexico, 1967;
English translation: New York, 1969) passim; for the politics of
the guerrillas and the nature of the right-wing terror; Galeano
was a Uruguayan journalist who spent some time with the guerrillas.
c)  Susanne Jonas and David Tobis, editors, Guatemala (Berkeley,
California, 1974) passim; particularly "The Vietnamization of
Guatemala: U.S. Counter-insurgency Programs" pp. 193-203, by
Howard Sharckman; published by the North American Congress on Latin
America (NACLA, New York and Berkeley).
d)  Amnesty International, Guatemala (London, 1976) passim; for
statistics about the victims of the terror.  Other AI reports
issued in the 1970s about Guatemala contain comparable
e)  Richard Gott, Rural Guerrillas in Latin America (Great
Britain, 1973, revised edition) Chapters 2 to 8; for the
politics of the guerrillas.

1. The Guardian (London), 22 December 1983, p. 5.
2. The plight of the poor: a montage compiled from the sources
cited herein.
3. New York Times Magazine, 26 June 1966, p. 8.
4. US counter-insurgency base: El Imparcial (Guatemala City
conservative newspaper) 17 May 1962 and 4 January 1963, cited in
Melville, pp. 163-4.
5. Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The
Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (New York, 1982),
p. 242.
6. Georgie Anne Geyer: Miami Herald, 24 December 1966.  Also see:
New York Herald Tribune, 7 April 1963, article by Bert Quint,
section 2, p. 1; Schlesinger and Kinzer, pp. 236-44.
7. Galeano, p. 55.
8. Ibid., pp. 55-6.
9. Time, 26 January 1968, p. 23.
10. Ibid.
11. Atrocities and torture: compiled from the sources cited
herein; also see A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors (New York, 1978)
pp. 139, 193 for US involvement with the use of the field
telephones for torture in Brazil.
12. Melville, p. 292.
13. Ibid., p. 291.

14. Washington Post, 27 January 1968, p. A4, testimony of Rev.
Blase Bonpane, an American Maryknoll priest in Guatemala at the
15. Panama: revealed in September 1967 by Guatemalan
Vice-President Clemente Marroquin Rojas in an interview with the
international news agency Interpress Service (IPS), reported in
Latin America, 15 September 1967, p. 159, a weekly published in
London.  Eduardo Galeano, p. 70, reports a personal conversation
he had with Marroquin Rojas in which the vice-president related
the same story. Marroquin Rojas was strongly anti-communist, but
he apparently resented the casual way in which the American planes
violated Guatemalan sovereignty.
16. Norman Diamond, "Why They Shoot Americans", The Nation (New
York), 5 February 1968.  The title of the article refers to the
shooting of John Webber.
17. Opening quotation: Clyde Snow, forensic anthropologist, cited
in Covert Action Quarterly, spring 1994, No. 48, p. 32.
Right-wing terrorism: compiled from the sources cited herein.
18. Washington Post, 4 February 1968, p. B1. The historic
dialogue in Latin America between Christianity and Marxism, begun
in the 1970s, can be traced in large measure to priests and nuns
like Bonpane and the Melvilles and their experiences in Guatemala
in the 1950s and 60s.
19. Galeano, p. 63.
20. El Imparcial (Guatemala City), 10 November 1967, cited in
Melville, p. 289.

21. Richard Gott, in the Foreword to the Melvilles' book, p. 8.

22.      AID, OPS, Alliance for Progress:

a)  "Guatemala and the Dominican Republic", a Staff Memorandum
prepared for the US Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere
Affairs, Committee on Foreign Relations, 30 December 1971, p. 6;
b)  Jonas and Tobis, pp. 199-200;
c)  Galeano, pp. 72-3;
d)  Michael Klare, War Without End (Random House, New York, 1972)
pp. 241-69, for discussion of the OPS curriculum and philosophy;
e)  Langguth, pp. 242-3 and elsewhere, for discussion of OPS
practices, including its involvement with torture; the author
confines his study primarily to Brazil and Uruguay, but it
applies to Guatemala as well;
f)  CounterSpy magazine (Washington), November 1980-January 1981,
pp. 54-5, lists the names of almost 300 Guatemalan police
officers who received training in the United States from 1963 to 1974;
g)  Michael Klare and Nancy Stein, "Police Terrorism in Latin
America", NACLA's Latin America and Empire Report (North American
Congress on Latin America, New York), January 1974, pp. 19-23,
based on State Department documents obtained by Senator James
Abourezk in 1973;
h)  Jack Anderson, Washington Post, 8 October 1973, p. C33.

23. AID figure cited in Jenny Pearce, Under the Eagle: U.S.
Intervention in Central America and the Caribbean (Latin American
Bureau, London, updated edition 1982) p. 67.
24. George Cotter, "Spies, strings and missionaries", The
Christian Century (Chicago), 25 March 1981, p. 321.

25. Eqbal Ahmad, "The Theory and Fallacies of Counter-insurgency",
The Nation (New York), 2 August 1972, p. 73.
26. Relationship of Arana to US military: Joseph Goulden, "A Real
Good Relationship", The Nation (New York), 1 June 1970, p. 646;
Norman Gall, "Guatemalan Slaughter", N.Y. Review of Books, 20 May
1971, pp. 13-17.
27. Le Monde Weekly (English edition), 17 February 1971, p. 3.
28. New York Times, 27 December 1970, p. 2; New York Times
Magazine, 13 June 1971, p. 72.
29. US Senate Staff Memorandum, op. cit.
30. New York Times, 18 February 1976.

31. Ibid., 9 November 1977, p. 2.
32.  Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, Jane Hunter, The
Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in
the Reagan Era (South End Press, Boston, 1987), chapter V,
passim; The Guardian (London), 9 December 1983; CounterSpy, op. cit.,
p. 53, citing Elias Barahona y Barahona, former press secretary
at the Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior who had infiltrated
the government for the EGP.
33. CounterSpy, op. cit. (Barahona) p. 53.
34. Pearce, p. 278; a book was published later which transcribed
Mench£'s own account of her life, in which she recounts many
more atrocities of the Guatemalan military: Elisabeth Burgos-Debray,
ed., I ... Rigoberta Mench£: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (London,
1984, English translation).
35. Pearce, p. 176; Sherwood's role in 1954: Schlesinger and
Kinzer, pp. 116, 122, 128.  His statement is partially quoted in
Penny Lernoux, In Banks We Trust (Doubleday, New York, 1984), p.
238, citing CBS News Special, 20 March 1982: "Update: Central
America in Revolt".
36. Washington Post, 22 February 1981, p. C7, column by Jack
Anderson; Anderson refers only to an "official spokesman" of the
MLN; the identity of the speaker as Sandoval comes from other
places -- see, e.g., The Guardian (London), 2 March 1984.
37. Washington Post, ibid.  For a discussion of the many ties
between American conservatives and the Guatemalan power
structure, see the report of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
(Washington), by Allan Nairn in 1981.
38. New York Times, 19 March 1981, p. 10.
39. Washington Post, 14 May 1981, p. A16.
40. Ibid.; New York Times, 18 May 1981, p. 18; Report issued by
the Washington Office on Latin America (a respected human-rights
lobby which has worked in liaison with the State Department's
human-rights section), 4 September 1981.
41. Washington Office on Latin America report, op. cit.
Presumably it was the traditional right-wing fear of the poor
being educated which lay behind this incident.
42. New York Times, 28 December 1981.
43. Ibid., 21 June 1981; 25 April 1982; The Guardian (London), 10
January 1983.
44. San Francisco Chronicle, 27 August 1981, p. 57.
45. Washington Post, 21 October 1982, p. A1.
46. The Guardian (London), 10 January 1983; 17 May 1983.
47. New York Times, 25 April 1982. p. 1.
48. Ibid., 12 October 1982, p. 3 (deaths, citing Amnesty
International); Los Angeles Times, 20 July 1994, p. 11 (villages,
citing "human rights organizations").  For the gruesome details
of death squads, disappearances, and torture in Guatemala during the
early 1980s, see Guatemala: A Government Program of Political
Murder (Amnesty International, London, 1981) and Massive
Extrajudicial Executions in Rural Areas Under the Government of
General EfraÁn RÁos Montt (AI, July 1982).
49. New York Times, 6 December 1982, p. 14.
50. Contemporary Marxism (San Francisco), No. 3, Summer 1981.
51. The National Catholic Reporter (Kansas City, Missouri
weekly), 31 January 1968.
52. Los Angeles Times, 25 December 1988.
53. Occurred on 2 December 1990; Report, Summer 1991, from
Witness for Peace, Washington, a religious-oriented human-rights
organization concerned with Central America.
54. Los Angeles Times, 7 May 1990.
55. DeVine and Bamaca cases:  New York Times, 23 March 1995, p.
1; 24 March, p. 3; 30 March, p. 1; Los Angeles Times, 23 March 1995,
p. 7; 24 March, p. 4; 31 March, p. 4; 2 April, p. M2; Time
magazine, 10 April 1995, p. 43.

41.  ANGOLA  1975 to 1980s
The Great Powers Poker Game

It is spring 1975. Saigon has just fallen. The last of the Americans are fleeing for their lives. Fallout from Watergate hangs heavy in the air in the United States. The Pike Committee of the House of Representatives is investigating CIA foreign covert activities. On the Senate side, the Church Committee is doing the same. And the Rockefeller Commission has set about investigating the Agency's domestic activities. The morning papers bring fresh revelations about CIA and FBI misdeeds.
     The CIA and its influential supporters warn that the crescendo of disclosures will inhibit the Agency from carrying out the functions necessary for national security.
     At CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, they are busy preparing for their next secret adventure: Angola.
     To undertake a military operation at such a moment, the reasons, one would imagine, must have been both compelling and urgent. Yet, in the long history of American interventions it would be difficult to find one more pointless or with less to gain for the United States or the foreign people involved.

The origin of our story dates back to the beginning of the 1960s when two political movements in Angola began to oppose by force the Portuguese colonialågovernment: the MPLA, led by Agostinho Neto, and the FNLA, led by Holden Roberto. (The latter group was known by other names in its early years, but for simplicity will be referred to here only as FNLA.)
     The United States, not normally in the business of supporting "liberation" movements, decided that inasmuch as Portugal would probably be unable to hold on to its colony forever, establishing contact with a possible successor regime might prove beneficial. For reasons lost in the mists of history, the United States, or at least someone in the CIA, decided that Roberto was their man and around 1961 or '62 onto the Agency payroll he went.{1}
     At the same time, and during the ensuing years, Washington provided their NATO ally, the Salazar dictatorship in Lisbon, with the military aid and counter-insurgency training needed to suppress the rebellion. John Marcum, an American scholar who walked 800 miles through Angola into the FNLA guerrilla camps in the early 1960s, has written:

By January 1962 outside observers could watch Portuguese planes bomb and strafe African villages, visit the charred remains of towns like Mbanza M'Pangu and M'Pangala, and copy the data from 750-point napalm bomb casings from which the Portuguese had not removed the labels marked "Property U.S. Air Force".{2}
     The Soviet Union, which had also given some support to Roberto, embraced Neto instead in 1964, arguing that Roberto had helped the discredited Moise Tshombe in the Congo and curtailed his own guerrilla operations in Angola under pressure from Washington.{3} Before long, another movement, UNITA by name, entered the picture and China dealt itself into The Great Powers Poker Game, lending support to UNITA and FNLA.
     Although MPLA may have been somewhat more genuine in its leftist convictions than FNLA or UNITA, there was little to distinguish any of the three groups from each other ideologically. When the press made any distinction amongst them it was usually to refer to MPLA as "Marxist", but this was ill-defined, if defined at all, and simply took on a media life of its own. Each of the groups spoke of socialism and employed Marxist rhetoric when the occasion called for it, and genuflected to other gods when it did not. In the 1960s, each of them was perfectly willing to accept support from any country willing to give it without excessive strings attached. Neto, for example, went to Washington in December 1962 to put his case before the American government and press and to emphasize the fallacy of categorizing the MPLA as communist. During the following two years, Roberto appealed for aid to the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, Algeria, and Nasser's Egypt. Later, Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, approached the same countries (with the exception perhaps of the Soviet Union) as well as North Vietnam, and accepted military training for his men from North Korea.
     Each group was composed predominantly of members of a particular tribe; each tried to discourage aid or recognition being given to the others; they each suffered from serious internal splits and spent as much time fighting each other as they did the Portuguese army. The Vietcong they were not.{4}
     Author Jonathan Kwitny has observed that the three tribal nations had a long history of fighting each other ...
It was not until the latter part of the twentieth century, however, that Dr. Henry Kissinger and other political scientists discovered that the real reason the Mbundu, the Ovimbundu, and the Kongo had been fighting off and on for the past 500 years was that the Mbundu were "Marxist" and the Ovimbundu and Kongo were "pro-Western".{5}
     That the CIA's choosing of its ally was largely an arbitrary process is further underlined by a State Department cable to its African Embassies in 1963 which stated: "U.S. policy is not, repeat not, to discourage [an] MPLA ... move toward West and not to choose between these two movements."{6}  
     Even in 1975, when the head of the CIA, William Colby, was asked by a congressional committee what the differences were between the three contesting factions, he responded:
They are all independents. They are all for black Africa. They are all for some fuzzy kind of social system, you know, without really much articulation, but some sort of let's not be exploited by the capitalist nations.
     And when asked why the Chinese were backing the FNLA or UNITA, he stated: "Because the Soviets are backing the MPLA is the simplest answer."
     "It sounds," said Congressman Aspin, "like that is why we are doing it."
     "It is," replied Colby.{7}
     Nonetheless, the committee, in its later report, asserted that in view of Colby's statement, "The U.S.'s expressed opposition to the MPLA is puzzling".{8}
Finally, it is instructive to note that all three groups were denounced by the Portuguese as communists and terrorists.
     Before April 1974, when a coup in Portugal ousted the dictatorship, the aid given to the Angolan resistance movements by theiråvarious foreign patrons was sporadic and insignificant, essentially a matter of the patrons keeping their hands in the game. The coup, however, raised the stakes, for the new Portuguese government soon declared its willingness to grant independence to its African colonies.
     In an agreement announced on 15 January 1975, the three movements formed a transitional government with elections to be held in October and formal independence to take place the following month.
     Since 1969, Roberto had been on a $10,000-a-year retainer from the CIA.{9} On 22 January, the Forty Committee of the National Security Council in Washington authorized the CIA to pass $300,000 to Roberto and the FNLA for "various political action activities, restricted to non-military objectives."{10} Such funds of course can always free up other funds for military uses.
     In March, the FNLA, historically the most warlike of the groups, attacked MPLA headquarters and later gunned down 51 unarmed, young MPLA recruits.{11} These incidents served to spark what was to be a full-scale civil war, with UNITA aligning itself with FNLA against MPLA. The scheduled elections would never take place.
     Also in March, the first large shipment of arms reportedly arrived from the Soviet Union for the MPLA.{12} The House investigating committee subsequently stated that "Later events have suggested that this infusion of US aid [the $300,000], unprecedented and massive in the underdeveloped colony, may have panicked the Soviets into arming their MPLA clients".{13}
     The Soviets may have been as much influenced by the fact that China had sent a huge arms package to the FNLA the previous September and had dispatched over one hundred military advisers to neighboring Zaire to train Roberto's soldiers only a month after the coup inPortugal.{14}
     The CIA made its first major weapons shipment to the FNLA in July 1975. Thus, like the Russians and the Chinese, the United States was giving aid to one side of the Angolan civil war on a level far greater than it had ever provided during the struggle against Portuguese colonialism.
     The United States was directly involved in the civil war to a marked degree. In addition to training Angolan combat units, US personnel did considerable flying between Zaire and Angola carrying out reconnaissance and supply missions,{15} and the CIA spent over a million dollars on an ambitious mercenary program.{16}  Several reports appeared in the US press stating that many American mercenaries were fighting in Angola against the MPLA -- from "scores" to "300" -- and that many others were being recruited and trained in the United States to join them. But John Stockwell, the head of the CIA's Angola task force, puts the number of American mercenaries who actually made it to Angola at only 24.{17}  However, Holden Roberto was using CIA money, with the Agency's tacit approval, to recruit many other mercenaries -- over 100 British plus a scattering of French and Portuguese.{18} The CIA was also directly financing the arming of British mercenaries.{19}  (The mercenaries included amongst their number the well-known Englishman and psychopath George Cullen who lined up 14 of his fellow soldiers-of-fortune and shot them all dead because they had mistakenly attacked the wrong side.){20}
     Subsequently, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger informed the Senate that "the CIA is not involved" in the recruitment of mercenaries for Angola.{21}
     There were also well over a hundred CIAofficers and American military advisers scurrying about Angola, Zaire, Zambia and South Africa helping to direct the military operations and practicing their propaganda skills.{22} Through recruited journalists representing major news services, the Agency was able to generate international coverage for false reports of Soviet advisers in Angola. One CIA story, announced to the press by UNITA, was that 20 Russians and 35 Cubans had been captured. Another fabrication concerned alleged rapes committed by Cuban soldiers in Angola; this was elaborated to include their capture, trial, and execution, complete with photos of the young women killing the Cubans who had raped them.{23}
     Both stories were reported widely in the American and British press and elsewhere. Some of the major newspapers, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian of London, were careful to point out that the only source of the information was UNITA and their articles did not attempt to ascribe any special credence to the reports.{24} But this could not of course prevent the placing of seeds of belief in the minds of readers already conditioned to believe the worst about communists.
     The disinformation campaign took place within the United States as well. FNLA delegates came to New York in September to lobby for support at the UN and with the New York press, distributing as they went copies of a "white paper" on the Angolan conflict prepared at CIA headquarters but made to look like it was produced in Zaire, French and all.{25}  John Stockwell described the paper as sometimes "false to the point of being ludicrous" and other times "simply inaccurate".{26}
     Afterward, representatives of UNITA went to Washington and presented to members of Congress, the State Department, theWhite House and the media, verbal reports about the situation in Angola which were the product of briefings given them by their CIA case officers.{27}
     In January 1976, William Colby sat before the Senate investigating committee and solemnly assured the Senators:
We have taken particular caution to ensure that our operations are focused abroad and not at the United States to influence the opinion of the American people about things from the CIA point of view.{28}
     There was virtually no important aspect of the Angolan intervention which Colby, Kissinger, and other high officials did not misrepresent to Congress and the media.

The odds never favored a military victory for the US-backed forces in Angola, particularly in the absence of a relatively large-scale American commitment which, given the political atmosphere, was not in the cards. The MPLA was the most organized and best led of the three factions and early on controlled the capital city of Luanda, which housed almost the entire governmental machinery. Yet, for no reason, apparently, other than anti-Soviet spite, the United States was unwilling to allow a negotiated settlement. When Savimbi of UNITA sent out feelers to the MPLA in September 1975 to discuss a peaceful solution he was admonished by the CIA. Similarly, the following month when an MPLA delegation went to Washington to once again express their potential friendliness to the United States, they received a cool reception, being seen only by a low-level State Department official.{29}
     In November MPLA representatives came to Washington to plead for the release of two Boeing jet airliners which their government had paid for but which the State Department would not allow to beexported. John Stockwell relates the unusual development that the MPLA men were accompanied by Bob Temmons, who until shortly before had been the head of the CIA station in Luanda, as well as by the president of Boeing. While the two Angolans and the man from Boeing petitioned the State Department, the CIA man made known to Agency headquarters that he had come to share the view of the US Consul General in Luanda "that the MPLA was best qualified to run the country, that it was not demonstrably hostile to the United States, and that the United States should make peace with it as quickly as possible."
     The State Department's response to the MPLA representatives was simple: the price for any American co-operation with the Angolan government was Soviet influence out, US influence in.{30}                                                                  go to notes

At one time or another almost two dozen countries, East and West, felt the urge to intervene in the conflict. Principal amongst these were the United States, China, South Africa and Zaire on the side of FNLA/UNITA, and the Soviet Union, Cuba, the Congo Republic and Katangese troops (Zairian rebels) supporting MPLA. The presence of South African forces on their side cost the United States and its Angolan allies dearly in support from other countries, particularly in Africa. Yet, South Africa's participation in the war had been directly solicited by the United States.{31}  In sharp contrast to stated American policy, the CIA and the National Security Agency had been collaborating with Pretoria's intelligence service since the 1960s and continuedåto do so in regard to Angola. One of the principal focuses of the intelligence provided by the US to South Africa was the African National Congress, the leading anti-apartheid organization which had been banned and exiled.{32}  In 1962, the South African police arrested ANC leader Nelson Mandela based on information as to his whereabouts and disguise provided them by CIA officer Donald Rickard. Mandela spent almost 28 years in prison.{33}
     In 1977, the Carter administration banned the sharing of intelligence with South Africa, but this was largely ignored by the American intelligence agencies. Two years earlier, the CIA had set up a covert mechanism whereby arms were delivered to the South Africans; this practice, in violation of US law, continued until at least 1978, and a portion of the arms were more than likely put to use in Angola.{34}  South Africa in turn helped to ferry American military aid from Zaire into Angola.{35}
     In fairness to the CIA, it must be pointed out that its people were not entirely oblivious or insensitive to what South Africa represented. The Agency was very careful about letting its black officers into the Angola program.{36}

A congressional cutoff of aid to the FNLA/UNITA, enacted in January 1976, hammered a decisive nail into their coffin. Congressmen did not yet know the full truth about the American operation, but enough of the public dumbshow had been exposed to make them incensed at how Kissinger, Colby, et al. had lied to their faces. The consequence was one of the infrequent occasions in modern times that the US Congress has exercised a direct and pivotal influence upon American foreign policy. In the process, it avoided the slippery slope to another Vietnam, on top of which stood Henry Kissinger and the CIA withåshoes waxed.{37}
     By February, the MPLA, with indispensable help from Cuban troops and Soviet military equipment, had all but routed their opponents. The Cuban presence in Angola was primarily a direct response to South African attacks against the MPLA. Wayne Smith, director of the State Department's Office of Cuban Affairs from 1977 to 1979, has written that "in August and October [1975] South African troops invaded Angola with full U.S. knowledge. No Cuban troops were in Angola prior to this intervention."{38}
     Savimbi at this time again considered reaching an understanding with the MPLA. The response from Washington was: Keep fighting. Kissinger personally promised UNITA continued support if they maintained their resistance, knowing full well that there was no more support to give. During the two weeks that Savimbi waited for his answer, he lost 600 men in a single battlefield.{39} Yet, incredibly, less than two months before, the Secretary of State had stated: "We are not opposed to the MPLA as such ... We can live with any of the factions in Angola."{40} The man was wholly obsessed with countering Soviet moves anywhere on the planet -- significant or trivial, real or imagined, fait accompli or anticipated. He was perhaps particularly driven in this case, for as he later wrote: "Angola represents the first time that the Soviets have moved militarily at long distance to impose a regime of their choice."{41}
     If this seems far removed from how the academics tell us American foreign policy is made, it's still more plausible than the other explanation commonly advanced for the policy in Angola, viz: it was done to please Sese Seko Mobutu, the head of Zaire, characterized as America's most important ally/client in Africa, if not in the Third World.{42} (Zaireåwas home to the CIA's largest station in Africa.) Mobutu desired an Angolan government he could sway, primarily to prevent Angola being used as a sanctuary by his arch foes, the rebels from Katanga province in Zaire. Accordingly, the Zairian leader committed his US-equipped armed forces into combat in Angola, on the side of the FNLA, for Holden Roberto happened to be a relation of his, although Roberto and the FNLA had little else going for them. As Professor Gerald Bender, a leading American authority on Angola, testified before Congress in 1978:
Although the United States has supported the FNLA in Angola for 17 years, it is virtually impossible to find an American official, scholar or journalist, who is familiar with that party, who will testify positively about its organization or leadership. After a debate with a senior State Department official at the end of the Angolan civil war, I asked him why the United States ever bet on the FNLA. He replied, "I'll be damned if I know; I have never seen a single report or memo which suggests that the FNLA has any organization, solid leaders, or an ideology which we could count on." Even foreign leaders who have supported Holden Roberto, such as General Mobutu, agree with that assessment. When asked by a visiting U.S. Senator if he thought Roberto would make a good leader for Angola, Mobutu replied, "Hell no!"{43}
     Kissinger himself told the House investigating committee that promoting the stability of Mobutu was one of the prime reasons for the American policy in Angola.{44} Yet, even if this were one of Kissinger's rare truthful remarks about the Angola situation, and even if this could be a valid justification for serious intervention in a civil war ina third country, his statement challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension; for in June 1975, a month before the United States shipped its first major arms package to the FNLA, Mobutu had accused the US of plotting his overthrow and assassination, whereupon he expelled the American ambassador (see Zaire chapter).
     The Secretary of State, never at a loss for the glib line custom-made for his immediate audience, also told Israeli officials that failure to stop the Russians in Angola "could encourage Arab countries such as Syria to run risks that could lead to a new attack on Israel, backed up by the Russians."{45}
     The American ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Moynihan, did not greatly enhance the level of discussion when he declared that if the United States did not step in "the Communists would take over Angola and will thereby considerably control the oil shipping lanes from the Persian Gulf to Europe. They will be next to Brazil. They will have a large chunk of Africa, and the world will be different in the aftermath if they succeed."{46}  A truly baroque train of thought, and another example of what cold- war conditioning could do to an otherwise intelligent and educated person.
     With only a change in place names, similar geo-political- domino theories have been put forth to give a veneer of rationality to so many American interventions. In this case, as in the others where the "communists" won, nothing of the sort ensued.
     "In all respect to Kissinger," Jonathan Kwitny has written, "one really has to question the sanity of someone who looks at an ancient tribal dispute over control of distant coffee fields and sees in it a Soviet threat to the security of the United States."{47}
å     The MPLA in power was restricted by the same domestic and international economic realities which the FNLA or UNITA would have faced. Accordingly, it discouraged union militancy, dealt sternly with strikes, exhorted the workers to produce more, entered into commercial contracts with several multinationals, and did not raise the hammer and sickle over the president's palace.{48} The MPLA urged Gulf Oil Co. to continue its exclusive operation in Cabinda province and guaranteed the safety of the American corporation's employees while the fighting was still heavy. Gulf was completely amenable to this offer, but the CIA and the State Department put pressure on the company to discontinue its royalty payments to the MPLA, thus jeopardizing the entire oil venture in a way that the "Marxist" government never did. One aspect of this pressure was a threat by Kissinger to open an investigation of international bribery by the company. Gulf compromised by putting its payments into an escrow bank account until the civil war came to an end of sorts a few months later, at which time payments to the MPLA were resumed.{49}

Contrary to accepted Western belief, Cuba did not enter the Angolan war as a Soviet surrogate. John Stockwell has noted that after the war the CIA "learned that Cuba had not been ordered into action by the Soviet Union" but that "the Cuban leaders felt compelled to intervene for their own ideological reasons."{50}  In 1977, the New York magazine Africa Report stated that "The Cubans have supported [MPLA leader Neto's] pragmatic approach toward Western investment and his attempts to maintain a foreign policy of non-alignment." The magazine also reported that on 27 May the Angolan government had announced that, aided by Cuban troops, it had crushed a rebellion by a faction of the MPLA whose leader claimed to have Sovietsupport.{51}

The civil war in Angola did not actually come to an end in 1976 as it appeared to, for the fighting lingered on intermittently, sometimes moderately, sometimes ferociously.
     In 1984 a confidential memorandum smuggled out of Zaire revealed that the United Statesand South Africa had met in November 1983 to discuss destabilization of the Angola government. Plans were drawn up to supply more military aid to UNITA (the FNLA was now defunct) and discussions were held on ways to implement a wide range of tactics: unify the anti-government movements, stir up popular feeling against the government, sabotage factories and transport systems, seize strategic points, disrupt joint Angola-Soviet projects, undermine relations between the government and the Soviet Union and Cuba, bring pressure to bear on Cuba to withdraw its troops, sow divisions in the ranks of the MPLA leadership, infiltrate agents into the Angolan army, and apply pressure to stem the flow of foreign investments into Angola.
     The United States branded the document a forgery, but UNITA's representative in Washington would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting took place. He stated, however, that UNITA had "contacts with US officials at all levels on a regular basis".
      The aim of the operation, according to the memorandum, was to force part of the Angolan leadership to negotiate with UNITA, precisely what Washington had successfully discouraged years earlier.{52}
     A month after the reported US-South Africa meeting, the UN Security Council censured South Africa for its military operations in Angola, and endorsed Luanda's right to reparations. Only the United States, abstaining, did not support the resolution.{53}
     In August 1985, after a three-year battle withCongress, the Reagan administration won a repeal of the 1976 prohibition against US military aid to rebel forces in Angola. Military assistance began to flow to UNITA overtly as well as covertly. In January 1987, Washington announced that it was providing the rebels with Stinger missiles and other anti-aircraft weaponry. Three months earlier, Jonas Savimbi had spoken before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France in an appeal for support. Following his talk, however, a plenary session of the Parliament criticized American support for the guerrilla leader and passed a resolution which described UNITA as a "terrorist organization which supports South Africa."{54}
     Finally, in September 1992, elections were held, but when it became apparent that the MPLA would be the winner in a run-off -- in polling which the UN certified to be free and fair -- Savimbi refused to accept the result. He ended a year-old cease-fire and launched one of UNITA's largest, most sustained offensives of the war, still being supplied by South Africa, and, in recent years, by American "private" airlines and "relief" organizations with interesting histories such as previous contacts to the Nicaraguan contras.{55}
     In May 1993, Washington finally recognized the Angolan government. In January, just before the Clinton administration took over, a senior State Department official had declared: "Unita is exactly like the Khmer Rouge: elections and negotiations are just one more method of fighting a war; power is all."{56}
     The war -- which had taken more than 300,000 lives -- was still raging in 1994, continuing to produce widespread hunger and what is said to be the highest amputee rate in the world, caused by the innumerable land mines.
return to mid-text    

1. New York Times, 25 September 1975; 19 December 1975.

2. John A. Marcum, The Angolan Revolution, Vol. I, 1950-1962 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1969) pp. 229-30.

3. New York Times, 17 December 1964, p. 14.

4. Comparison of the three groups:
a) Jonathan Kwitny, Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World (New York, 1984) chapter 9;
b) Marcum, Vol. II, 1962-1976 (1978) pp. 14-15, 132, 172 and elsewhere;
c) Basil Davidson, In the Eye of the Storm: Angola's People (London, 1972) passim;
d) Ernest Harsch and Tony Thomas, Angola: The Hidden History of Washington's War (New York, 1976) passim.
     International appeals for support made by Roberto and Savimbi: see also New York Times, 4 January 1964, p. 15; Kwitny, p. 136; Declassified Documents Reference System, 1977 volume, document 210D (cable, 17 July 1964, US embassy Congo to State Department).

5. Kwitny, pp. 132-3.

6. State Department Circular 92, 16 July 1963, cited in Marcum II, p. 16.

7. Hearings before the House Select Committee on Intelligence (The Pike Committee) published in CIA - The Pike Report (Nottingham, England, 1977) p. 218; hereafter referred to as Pike Report. (See Notes: Iraq for further information.)

8. Ibid., p. 201.

9. New York Times, 25 September 1975; 19 December.

10. Pike Report, p. 199, the words in quotes are those of the Pike Committee; the date comes from John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (New York, 1978) p. 67. Stockwell was a CIA officer and head of the Agency's Angola task force.

11. Stockwell, pp. 67-8; Marcum II, pp. 257-8 (he cites several international press accounts).

12. New York Times, 25 September 1975

13. Pike Report, p. 199.

14. Stockwell, p. 67.

15. New York Times, 12 December 1975; Harsch and Thomas, p. 100, citing CBS-TV News, 17 December 1975, and Senator John Tunney, 6 January 1976.

16. New York Times, 16 July 1978, p. 1

17. Interview of Stockwell by author.

18. Stockwell, pp. 223-4; see also Harsch and Thomas, pp. 99-100.

19. Chapman Pincher, Inside Story: A Documentary of the Pursuit of Power (London, 1978) p. 20

20. Stockwell, p. 225.

21. New York Times, 16 July 1978, referring to Kissinger's statement of 29 January 1976.

22. Stockwell, pp. 162, 177-8, plus interview of Stockwell by author.

23. Ibid., pp. 194-5

24. The capture of Russians and Cubans story appeared in the press 22 November 1975; the rape story, 12 March 1976.

25. Stockwell, p. 196.

26. San Francisco Chronicle, 9 May 1978.

27. Stockwell, pp. 196-8.

28. Foreign and Military Intelligence, Book 1, Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (US Senate), 26 April 1976, p. 129.

29. Stockwell, p. 193.

30. Ibid., pp. 205-6 ("Bob Temmons" is probably a pseudonym); after the war ended, the State Department did release the planes to Angola.

31. Newsweek (International Edition), 17 May 1976, p. 23, implicitly admitted to by South African Prime Minister Balthazar Johannes Vorster.

32. New York Times, 16 July 1978, p. 1; 23 July 1986, p. 1; Stockwell, pp. 208, 218; Stephen Talbot, "The CIA and BOSS: Thick as Thieves" in Ellen Ray, et al., eds., Dirty Work 2: The CIA in Africa (New Jersey, 1979) pp. 266-75 (BOSS is the South African Bureau of State Security); Bob Woodward, VEIL: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987 (New York, 1987), p. 269.

33. The Guardian (London), 15 August 1986; The Times (London) 4 August 1986, p. 10.

34. New York Times, 25 March 1982, p. 7, citing a report of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

35. Stockwell, p. 209.

36. Ibid., p. 75.

37. Stockwell, pp. 216-17 discusses how this came about.

38. Wayne S. Smith, "Dateline Havana: Myopic Diplomacy", Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.) Fall 1982, p. 170.
39. Stockwell, pp. 234-5.

40. New York Times, 24 December 1975, p 7.

41. Henry Kissinger, American Foreign Policy (New York, 1977, third edition), p. 317.

42. See, for example, New York Times, 25 September 1975.

43. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Committee on International Relations, 25 May 1978, p. 7.

44. Pike Report, p. 200.

45. New York Times, 9 January 1976, p. 3.

46. Washington Post, 18 December 1975, p. A23.

47. Kwitny, p. 148.

48. Harsch and Thomas, pp. 82-91; New York Times, 8 February 1981, IV, p. 5.

49. Stockwell, pp. 203-4, 241; plus interview of Stockwell by author.

50. Stockwell, p. 172.

51. Galen Hull, "Internationalizing the Shaba Conflict", Africa Report (New York) July-August 1977, p. 9. For further discussion of possible Soviet connection to the rebellion and the Russian attitude toward Angola, see Jonathan Steele, "Soviet Relations with Angola and Mozambique" in Robert Cassen, ed., Soviet Interests in the Third World (Published by Sage for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, 1985), p. 290.

52. The Observer (London), 22 January 1984.

53. The Guardian (London), 21 December 1983.

54. The Times (London), 23 October 1986, p. 8; the vote in the EuropeanåParliament was 152-150.

55. The Guardian (London), 25 June 1990, p. 10; Sharon Beaulaurier, "Profiteers Fuel War in Angola", Covert Action Quarterly (Washington, DC), No. 45, Summer 1993, pp. 61-65.

56. New York Times, 17 January 1993, IV, p. 5.

51.  BULGARIA  1990/ALBANIA 1991 
Teaching communists 
what democracy is all about

For American anti-communist cold-warriors, for Bulgarian anti-communist cold-warriors, it couldn't have looked more promising.
      The cold war was over. The forces of Western Civilization, Capitalism and Goodness had won. The Soviet Union was on the verge of falling apart. The Communist Party of Bulgaria was in disgrace. Its dictatorial leader of 35 years was being prosecuted for abuses of power. The party had changed its name, but that wouldn't fool anybody. And the country was holding its first multiparty election in 45 years.
     Then, the communists proceeded to win the election.
     For the anti-communists the pain was unbearable. Surely some monstrous cosmic mistake had been made, a mistake which should not be allowed to stand. It should not, and it would not.

Washington had expressed its interest early. In February, Secretary of State James Baker became the most senior American official to visit Bulgaria since World War II. His official schedule said he was in Bulgaria to "meet with opposition leaders as well as Government officials". Usually, the 
New York Times noted, "it is listed the other way around". Baker became deeply involved in his talks with the opposition about political strategies and how to organize for an election. He also addressed a street rally organized by opposition groups, praising and encouraging the crowd. On the State Department profile of Bulgaria handed to reporters traveling with Baker, under the heading "Type of Government", was written "In transition".{1}
      In May, three weeks before election day, a row broke out over assertions by the leader of the main opposition group. Petar Beron, secretary of the Union of Democratic Forces, a coalition of 16 parties and movements, said that during UDF's visits to Europe and the United States, many politicians pledged that they would not provide financial assistance to a socialist Bulgaria. This would apply even if the Bulgarian Socialist Party -- the renamed Communist Party -- won the elections fairly. Beron stated that:

Western leaders want lasting contacts with governments which are building Western-style democracy and economies. The British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, was particularly categorical. He said he was drawing up a declaration to go before the European Community to refuse help for the remaining socialist governments in Eastern Europe.{2}
      Meanwhile, the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington's specially created stand-in for the CIA (see Nicaragua chapter), with funding in this case primarily from the Agency for International Development, was pouring some $2 million into Bulgaria to influence the outcome of the election, a process the NED calls promoting democracy. This was equivalent to a foreign power injecting more than $50 million into an American electoral campaign. One major recipient of this largesse was the newspaper of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, Demokratzia, which received $233,000 of newsprint, "to allow it to increase its size and circulation for the period leading up to the national elections". The UDF itself received another $615,000 of American taxpayer money for "infrastructure support and party training" ... "material and technical support" ... and "post-electoral assistance for the UDF's party building program".{3}
     The United States made little attempt to mask its partisanship. On June 9, the day before election day, the US ambassador to Bulgaria, Sol Polansky, appeared on the platform of a UDF rally.{4} Polansky, whose early government career involved intelligence research, was a man who had had more than a passing acquaintance with the CIA. Moreover, several days earlier, the State Department had taken the unusual step of publicly criticizing the Bulgarian government for what it called the inequitable distribution of resources for news outlets, especially newsprint for opposition newspapers, as if this was not a fact of life for genuine opposition forces in the United States and every other country in the world. The Bulgarian government responded that the opposition had received newsprint and access to the broadcast outlets in accordance with an agreement between the parties, adding that many of the Socialist Party's advantages, especially its financial reserves, resulted from the party's membership of one million, about a ninth of Bulgaria's population. The government had further provided the printing plant to publish the UDF newspaper and had given the opposition coalition the building from which to run its operations.{5}
     The Socialists' lead in the polls in the face of a crumbling economy perplexed the UDF, but the Bulgarian Socialist Party drew most of its support from among pensioners, farm-workers, and the industrial workforce, together representing well over half the voting population.{6} These sectors tended to associate the BSP with stability, and the party capitalized on this, pointing to the disastrous results -- particularly the unemployment and inflation -- of "shock therapy" free enterprise in Russia.{7} Although the three main parties all proposed moving toward a market economy, the Socialists insisted that the changes had to be carefully controlled. How this would be manifested in practice if the BSP were in charge and had to live in an extremely capitalist world, could not be predicted. What was certain, however, was that there was no way a party named "Socialist", née "Communist", recently married to the Soviet Union, could win the trust and support of the West.
     As it turned out after the second round of voting, the Socialists had won about 47 percent of the vote and 211 seats in the 400-seat parliament (the Grand National Assembly), to the UDF's 36 percent and 144 seats. Immediately following the first round, the opposition took to the streets with accusations of fraud, chanting "Socialist Mafia!" and "We won't work for the Reds!" However, the European election observers had contrary views. "The results ... will reflect the will of the people," said the leader of a British observer delegation. "If I wanted to fix an election, it would be easier to do it in England than in Bulgaria."
      "If the opposition denounces the results as manipulated, it doesn't fit in with what we've seen," a Council of Europe delegate declared.
     Another West European observer rejected the opposition claims as "sour grapes".{8}
      "Utter rot" was the term chosen by a conservative English MP to describe allegations of serious fraud. He asserted that "The conduct of the poll was scrupulously fair. There were just minor incidents that were exaggerated."
      "The opposition appear to be rather bad losers," concluded one Western diplomat.{9}
     These opinions were shared by the many hundreds of observers, diplomats and parliamentarians from Western Europe. Nonetheless, most of the American observers were not very happy, saying that fear and intimidation arising from "the legacy of 45 years of totalitarian rule" had produced "psychological" pressures on Bulgarian voters. "Off the record, I have real problems with this," said one of the Americans. Asked if his team's report would have been as critical had the opposition won, he replied: "That's a good question."{10}
      Members of the British parliamentary observer group dismissed reports that voting was marred by intimidation and other malpractices. Most complaints were either "trivial" or impossible to substantiate, they said. "When we asked where intimidation had taken place, it was always in the next village," said Lord Tordoff.{11}
      Before the election, Socialist Prime Minister Lukanov had called for a coalition with opposition parties if his Bulgarian Socialist Party won the election. "The new government," he said, "needs the broadest possible measure of public support if we are to carry through the necessary changes."{12} Now victorious, he repeated the call for a coalition. But the UDF rejected the offer.{13} There were, however, elements within the BSP which were equally opposed to a coalition.
     The opposition refused to accept the outcome of the voting. They were at war with the government. Street demonstrations became a daily occurrence as UDF supporters, backed by large numbers of students, built barricades and blocked traffic, and students launched a wave of strikes and sit-ins. Many of the students were acting as part of the Federation of Independent Student Societies (or Associations), which had been formed before the election. The chairman of the student group, Aptanas Kirchev, asserted that the organization had documentation on electoral abuses which would shortly be made public. But this does not appear to have taken place.{14}
     The student movements were amongst the recipients of National Endowment for Democracy grants, to the tune of $100,000 "to provide infrastructure support to the Federation of Independent Student Associations of Bulgaria to improve its outreach capacity in preparation for the national elections". The students received "faxes, video and copying equipment, loudspeakers, printing equipment and low-cost printing techniques", as well as the help of various Polish advisers, American legal advisers, and other experts -- the best that NED money could buy.{15}
     The first victory for the protest movement came on 6 July, less than a month after the election, when President Mladenov was forced to resign after a week of protests -- including a hunger strike outside of Parliament -- over his actions during an anti- governmental demonstration the previous December. His resignation came after the UDF released a videotape showing Mladenov talking to his colleagues and appearing to say: "Shouldn't we bring in the tanks?" Said a UDF official of the resignation, "We are rather happy about all this. It has thrown the Socialists into chaos."{16}
      The demonstrations, the protests, the agitation continued on a daily basis during July. A "City of Freedom" consisting of more than 60 tents was set up in the center of Sofia, occupied by people who said they would stay there until all senior Bulgarian politicians who served under the old communist regime were removed. When they were denied what they considered adequate access to the media, the protesters added to their demands the resignation of the head of Bulgarian television.{17} At one point, a huge ceremonial pyre was built in the street in which text books from the communist era were burnt, as well as party cards and flags.{18}                                          go to notes
     The next head to fall was that of the interior minister, Atanas Smerdjiev, who resigned in a dispute over the extent to which the questioning of former dictator Todor Zhivkov should be public or behind closed doors. The Bulgarian people indeed had a lot to protest about; primarily a rapidly declining standard of living and a government without a president which seemed paralyzed and unable to enact desperately-needed reforms. But the question posed by some MPs -- as thousands of hostile demonstrators surrounded the parliament building during the Smerdjiev affair -- was "Are we going to be dictated to by the street?" "The problem," said Prime Minister Lukanov, "is whether parliament is a sovereign body or whether we are going to be forced to make decisions under pressure." His car was attacked as he left the building.{19} Finally, on 1 August the head of the UDF, Zhelyu Zhelev, was elected unopposed by Parliament as the new president.
     A few weeks later, another demand of the protesters was met. The government began to remove communist symbols, such as red stars and hammer-and-sickles, from buildings in Sofia. Yet, two days later, the headquarters of the Socialist Party was set afire as 10,000 people swarmed around it. Many of them broke into the building and ransacked it before it wound up a gutted and charred shell.{20}
     The protest movement in Bulgaria was beginning to feel and smell like the general strike in British Guiana to topple Cheddi Jagan in 1962, and the campaign to undermine Salvador Allende in Chile in the early '70s -- both operations of the CIA -- where as soon as one demand was met, newer ones were raised, putting the government virtually under siege, hoping it would over-react, and making normal governing impossible. In Bulgaria, women demonstrated by banging pots and pans to signify the lack of food in the shops,{21} just as women had dramatically done in Chile, and in Jamaica and Nicaragua as well, where the CIA had also financed anti-government demonstrations.
     In British Guiana, the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade had come down from the US to spread the gospel and money, and similar groups had set up shop in Jamaica. In Bulgaria in August, representatives of the Free Congress Foundation, an American right-wing organization with lots of money and lots of anti-communist and religious ideology, met with about one-third of the opposition members in Parliament and President Zhelev's chief political adviser. Zhelev himself visited the FCF's Washington office the following month. The FCF -- which has received money from the National Endowment for Democracy at times -- had visited the Soviet Union and most of the Eastern European countries in 1989 and 1990, imparting good ol' American know-how in electoral and political techniques and for shaping public policy, as well as holding seminars on the multiple charms of free enterprise. It is not known whether any of the students were aware of the fact that one of the FCF's chief Eastern European program directors, Laszlo Pasztor, was a man with genuine Nazi credentials.{22}
     By October, a group of American financial experts and economists, under the auspices of the US Chamber of Commerce, had drawn up a detailed plan for transforming Bulgaria into a supply-side free-market economy, complete with timetables for implementing the plan. President Zhelev said he was confident the Bulgarian government would accept virtually all the recommendations, even though the BSP held a majority in Parliament. "They will be eager to proceed," he said, "because otherwise the government will fall."{23}
      Witnesses and police claimed that Konstantin Trenchev, a fierce anti-communist who was a senior figure in the UDF and the leader of the Podkrepa independent trade union, had called on a group of hardcore demonstrators to storm the BSP building during the fire. He had also called for the dissolution of Parliament and presidential rule, "tantamount to a coup d'etat" declared the Socialist Party. Trenchev went into hiding.{24}
     Trenchev's Podkrepa union was also being financed by the NED -- $327 thousand had been allocated "to provide material and technical support to Bulgaria's independent trade union movement Podkrepa" and "to help Podkrepa organize a voter education campaign for the local elections". There were computers and fax machines, and there were advisers to help the union "get organized and gain strength", according to Podkrepa's vice president. The assistance had reached Podkrepa via the Free Trade Union Institute,{25} set up by the AFL-CIO in 1977 as the successor to the Free Trade Union Committee, which had been formed in the 1940s to combat left-wing trade unionism in Europe. Both the FTUC and the FTUI had long had an intimate relationship with the CIA.{26}
      In the first week of November, several hundred students occupied Sofia University once again, demanding now the prosecution, not merely the removal, of leading figures in the former communist regime, as well as the nationalization of the Socialist Party's assets. The prime minister's rule was shaky. Lukanov had threatened to step down unless he gained opposition support in Parliament for his program of economic reform. The UDF, on the other hand, was now demanding that it be allowed to dominate a new coalition government, taking the premiership and most key portfolios. Although open to a coalition, the BSP would not agree to surrender the prime minister's position; the other cabinet posts, however, were open to negotiation.{27}
     The movement to topple Lukanov was accelerating. Thousands marched and called for his resignation. University students held rallies, sit-ins, strikes and protest fasts, now demanding the publication of the names of all former secret police informers in the university. They proclaimed their complete distrust in the ability of the government to cope with Bulgaria's political and economic crisis, and called for "an end to one-party rule", a strange request in light of the desire of Lukanov to form a coalition government.{28} In June The Guardian of London had described Lukanov as "Bulgaria's impressive Prime minister ... a skilled politician who impresses business executives, bankers and conservative Western politicians, while maintaining popular support at home, even among the opposition."{29}
     On the 23rd of November, Lukanov (barely) survived a no- confidence motion, leading the UDF to storm out of Parliament, announcing that they would not return for "an indefinite period". Three days later, the Podkrepa labor organization instituted a "general strike", albeit not with a majority of the nation's workers.{30}
     Meanwhile, the student protests continued, although some of their demands had already been partly met. The Socialist Party had agreed to restore to the state 57 percent of its assets, corresponding to subsidies received from the state budget under the previous regime. And the former party leader, Todor Zhivkov, was already facing trial.
     Some opposition leaders were not happy with the seemingly boundless student protest movement. UDF leader Petar Beron urged that since Bulgaria had embarked on the road to parliamentary democracy, the students should give democracy a chance and not resort to sit-ins. And a UDF MP added that "The socialists should leave the political arena in a legal manner. They should not be forced into doing it through revolution." Student leaders dismissed these remarks out of hand.{31}
     The end for Andrei Lukanov came on 29 November, as the strike spread to members of the media, and thousands of doctors, nurses and teachers staged demonstrations. He announced that since his proposed economic program had not received the broad support he had asked for, he had decided that it was "useless to continue in office". A caretaker coalition would be set up that would lead to new general elections.{32}
      Throughout the period of protest and turmoil, the United States continued to give financial assistance to various opposition forces and "whispered advice on how to apply pressure to the elected leaders". The vice president of the Podkrepa union, referring to American diplomats, said: "They wanted to help us and have helped with advice and strategy." This solidarity gave rise to hopes of future American aid. Konstantin Trenchev, the head of Podkrepa, apparently out of hiding now, confirmed that opposition activists had been assured of more US assistance if they managed to wrest power from the former communists.{33}
     These hopes may have had as much to do with naiveté as with American support for the UDF. The Bulgarians, like other Eastern Europeans and Soviet citizens, had led very sheltered political and intellectual lives. In 1990, their ideological sophistication was scarcely above the equation: if the communist government was bad, it must have been all bad; if it was all bad, its principal enemy must have been all good. They believed such things as: American government leaders could not stay in office if they lied to the people, and that reports of homelessness and the absence of national health insurance in the United States were just "communist propaganda".
     However, the new American ambassador, H. Kenneth Hill, said that Washington officials had made it clear to Bulgarian politicians that future aid depended on democratic reform and development of an economic recovery plan acceptable to Western lenders, the same terms laid down all over Eastern Europe.
     The Bulgarian Socialists, while not doubting Washington's commitment to exporting capitalism, did complain that the United States had at times violated democratic principles in working against the leadership chosen by the Bulgarian people. One reform- minded Socialist government official contended that Americans had reacted to his party's victory as if it represented a failure of US policy. "The U.S. government people have not been the most clean, moral defenders of democracy here," he said. "What cannot be done at home can be gotten away with in this dark, backward Balkan state."{34}
      In the years since, the Bulgarian people, particularly the students, may have learned something, as the country has gone through the now-familiar pattern of freely-rising prices, the scrapping of subsidies on basic goods and utilities, shortages of all kinds, and IMF and World Bank demands to tighten the belts even further. Politically, there's been chaos. The UDF came to power in the next elections (with the BSP a very close second) but, due to the failing economy, lost a confidence vote in Parliament, saw its entire cabinet resign, then the vice president, who warned that the nation was heading for dictatorship. Finally, in July 1993, protesters prevented the president from entering his office for a month and demanded his resignation.
     By 1994, we could read in the Los Angeles Times, by their most anti-communist foreign correspondent:
Living conditions are so much worse in the reform era that Bulgarians look back fondly on communism's "good old days," when the hand of the state crushed personal freedom but ensured that people were housed, employed and had enough to eat.{35}
But for Washington policy makers, the important thing, the ideological bottom line, was that the Bulgarian Socialist Party could not, and would not, be given the chance to prove that a democratic, socialist-oriented mixed economy could succeed in Eastern Europe while the capitalist model was failing all around it.
     Nor, apparently, would it be allowed in nearby Albania. On 31 March 1991, a Communist government won overwhelming endorsement in elections there. This was followed immediately by two months of widespread unrest, including street demonstrations and a general strike lasting three weeks, which finally led to the collapse of the new regime by June.{36} The National Endowment for Democracy had been there also, providing $80,000 to the labor movement and $23,000 "to support party training and civic education programs".{37}

NOTES                                    return to mid-text

1. New York Times, 11 February 1990, p. 20.
2. The Guardian (London), 21 May 1990, p. 6.
3. National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, D.C., Annual Report, 1990 (October 1, 1989 - September 30, 1990), pp. 23-4. The NED grants also included $111 thousand for an international election observation team.
4. Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1990, p. 13.
5. New York Times, 6 June 1990, p. 10; 11 February 1990, p. 20.
6. The Guardian (London), 9 June 1990, p. 6.
7. Luan Troxel, "Socialist Persistence in the Bulgarian Elections of 1990-1991", East European Quarterly (Boulder, CO), January 1993, pp. 412-14.
8. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1990.
9. The Guardian (London), 12 June 1990, p. 7.
10. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1990; The Times (London), 12 June 1990, p. 15; The Guardian (London), 12 June 1990, p. 7.
11. The Times (London), 20 June 1990, p. 10.
12. The Guardian (London), 28 May 1990, p. 6.
13. The Times (London), 20 June 1990, p. 10.
14. The Times Higher Educational Supplement (London), 29 June 1990, p. 11.
15. NED Annual Report, 1990, op. cit., pp. 6-7, 23.
16. The Times (London), 7 July 1990, p. 11.
17. The Times Higher Educational Supplement (London), 13 July 1990, p. 9.
18. The Guardian (London), 12 July 1990, p. 10; The Times (London), 20 July 1990, p. 10.
19. The Times (London), 28 July 1990, p. 8; 30 July, p. 6.
20. Ibid., 27 August 1990, p. 8.
21. The Times Higher Education Supplement (London), 14 December 1990, p. 8.
22. Russ Bellant and Louis Wolf, "The Free Congress Foundation Goes East", Covert Action Information Bulletin, Fall 1990, No. 35, pp. 29-32, based substantially on Free Congress Foundation publications.
23. New York Times, 9 October 1990, p. D20.
24. The Guardian (London), 29, 30 August 1990, both p. 8.
25. NED Annual Report, 1990, op. cit., p. 23; Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1990, p. 13.
26. Howard Frazier, editor, Uncloaking the CIA (The Free Press/Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, 1978) pp. 241-8.
27. The Guardian (London), 7 November 1990, p. 10.
28. The Times Higher Educational Supplement (London), 16 November 1990, p. 11.
29. The Guardian (London), 9 June 1990, p. 6.
30. The Times (London), 24 November 1990, p. 10; 27 November, p. 16.
31. The Times Higher Educational Supplement (London), 30 November 1990, p. 8.
32. The Guardian (London), 30 November 1990, p. 9; The Times (London), 30 November 1990, p. 10.
33. Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1990, p. 13.
34. Ibid.
35. Ibid., 6 February 1994, article by Carol J. Williams.
36. Ibid., 13 June 1991, p. 14.
37. National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, D.C., Annual Report, 1991 (October 1, 1990 - September 30, 1991), p. 42.

52.   IRAQ  1990-1991 

Desert holocaust

     "This is the one part I didn't want to see," said a 20-year
-old private.  "All the homeless, all the hurting.  When we came
through the refugee camp, man, that's something I didn't need."
     "It's really sad," said the sergeant.  "We've got little
kids come up and see my gun, and they start crying.  That really
tears me up."
     "At night, you kill and you roll on by," said another GI. 
"You don't stop.  You don't have to see anything.  It wasn't
until the next morning the rear told us the devastation was
total.  We'd killed the entire division."{1}
     While many nations have a terrible record in modern times of
dealing out great suffering face-to-face with their victims,
Americans have made it a point to keep at a distance while
inflicting some of the greatest horrors of the age: atomic bombs
on the people of Japan; carpet-bombing Korea back to the stone
age; engulfing the Vietnamese in napalm and pesticides; providing
three decades of Latin Americans with the tools and methods of
torture, then turning their eyes away, closing their ears to the
screams, and denying everything ... and now, dropping 177 million
pounds of bombs on the people of Iraq in the most concentrated
aerial onslaught in the history of the world.
     What possessed the United States to carry out this
relentless devastation for more than 40 days and nights against
one of the most advanced and enlightened nations in the Middle
East and its ancient and modern capital city?
It's the first half of 1990.  The dismantling of the Berlin wall
is being carried out on a daily basis.  Euphoria about the end of
the cold war and optimism about the beginning of a new era of
peace and prosperity are hard to contain.  The Bush
administration is under pressure to cut the monster military
budget and institute a "peace dividend".  But George Bush,
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, former Texas oil man, and
former Director of the CIA, is not about to turn his back on his
many cronies in the military-industrial-intelligence complex.  He
rails against those who would "naively cut the muscle out of our
defense posture", and insists that we must take a cautious
attitude towards reform in the USSR.{2}  In February, it's
reported that "the administration and Congress are expecting the
most acrimonious hard-fought defense budget battle in recent
history"; and in June that "tensions have escalated" between
Congress and the Pentagon "as Congress prepares to draft one of
the most pivotal defense budgets in the past two decades".{3}  A
month later, a Senate Armed Services subcommittee votes to cut
military manpower by nearly three times more than recommended by
the Bush administration ... "The size and direction of the cuts
indicate that President Bush is losing his battle on how to
manage reductions in military spending."{4}
     During this same period Bush's popularity was plummeting:
from an approval rating of 80 percent in January -- as he rode
the wave of public support for his invasion of Panama the
previous month -- to 73 in February, down to the mid-60s in May
and June, 63 on 11 July, 60 two weeks later.{5}
     George Herbert Walker Bush needed something dramatic to
capture the headlines and the public, and to convince Congress
that a powerful military was needed as much as ever because it
was still a scary and dangerous world out there.
Although the official Washington version of events presented
Iraq's occupation of neighboring Kuwait as an arbitrary and
unwarranted aggression, Kuwait had actually been a district of
Iraq, under Ottoman rule, up to the First World War.  After the
war, to exert leverage against the abundantly oil-rich Iraq, the
British Colonial Office established tiny Kuwait as a separate
territorial entity, in the process cutting off most of Iraq's
access to the Persian Gulf.  In 1961, Kuwait became
"independent", again because Britain declared it to be so, and
Iraq massed troops at the border, backing down when the British
dispatched their own forces.  Subsequent Iraqi regimes never
accepted the legitimacy of this state of affairs, making similar
threats in the 1970s, even crossing a half-mile into Kuwait in
1976, but Baghdad was also open to a compromise with Kuwait under
which Iraq would gain access to its former islands in the
     The current conflict had its origins in the brutal 1980-88
war between Iraq and Iran.  Iraq charged that while it was locked
in battle, Kuwait was engaged in stealing $2.4 billion of oil
from the Rumaila oil field that ran beneath the vaguely-defined
Iraq-Kuwait border and was claimed in its entirety by Iraq; that
Kuwait had built military and other structures on Iraqi
territory; and worst of all, that immediately after the war
ended, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates began to exceed the
production quotas established by the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC), flooding the oil market, and driving
prices down.  Iraq was heavily strapped and deeply in debt
because of the long war, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
declared this policy was an increasing threat to his country --
"economic war", he called it, pointing out that Iraq lost a
billion dollars a year for each drop of one dollar in the oil
price.{7}  Besides compensation for these losses, Hussein
insisted on possession of the two Gulf islands which blocked
Iraq's access to the Gulf as well as undisputed ownership of the
Rumaila oilfield.
     In the latter part of July 1990, after Kuwait had continued
to scorn Iraq's financial and territorial demands, and to ignore
OPEC's request to stick to its assigned quota, Iraq began to mass
large numbers of troops along the Kuwaiti border.
     The reaction to all this by the world's only remaining
superpower and self-appointed global policeman became the subject
of intense analysis and controversy after Iraq actually invaded. 
Had Washington given Iraq a green light to invade?  Was there, at
a minimum, the absence of a flashing red light?  The controversy
was fueled by incidents such as the following:
     19 July: Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney stated that the
American commitment made during the Iran-Iraq war to come to
Kuwait's defense if it were attacked was still valid.  The same
point was made by Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for
Policy, at a private luncheon with Arab ambassadors. 
(Ironically, Kuwait had been allied with Iraq and feared an
attack from Iran.)  Later, Cheney's remark was downplayed by his
own spokesman, Pete Williams, who explained that the secretary
had spoken with "some degree of liberty".  Cheney was then told
by the White House: "You're committing us to war we might not
want to fight", and advised pointedly that from then on,
statements on Iraq would be made by the White House and State
     24 July: State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutweiler, in
response to a question, responded: "We do not have any defense
treaties with Kuwait, and there are no special defense or
security commitments to Kuwait."  Asked whether the United States
would help Kuwait if it were attacked, she said: "We also remain
strongly committed to supporting the individual and collective
self-defense of our friends in the gulf with whom we have deep
and longstanding ties" -- a statement that some Kuwaiti officials
said privately was too weak.{9}
     24 July: The US staged an unscheduled and rare military
exercise with the United Arab Emirates, and the same Pete
Williams then announced: "We remain strongly committed to
supporting the individual and collective self-defense of our
friends in the gulf with whom we have deep and longstanding
ties."  And the White House declared: "We're concerned about the
troop buildup by the Iraqis.  We ask that all parties strive to
avoid violence."{10}
     25 July: Saddam Hussein was personally told by the US
ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, in a now-famous remark, that
"We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border
disagreement with Kuwait."  But she then went on to tell the
Iraqi leader that she was concerned about his massive troop
deployment on the Kuwaiti border in the context of his
government's having branded Kuwait's actions as "parallel to
military aggression".{11}
     25 July: John Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Near
Eastern and South Asian Affairs, killed a planned Voice of
America broadcast that would have warned Iraq with the identical
party-line words used by Tutweiler and Williams.{12}  Hussein may
not have known of this incident, although in April he had been
personally assured by visiting Senate Minority Leader Robert
Dole, speaking in behalf of the president, that the Bush
administration dissociated itself from a Voice of America
broadcast critical of Iraq's human-rights abuses and also opposed
a congressional move for economic sanctions against Iraq.{13}
     27 July: The House and Senate each voted to impose economic
sanctions against Iraq because of its human-rights violations. 
However, the Bush administration immediately reiterated its
opposition to the measure.{14}
     28 July: Bush sent a personal message to Hussein (apparently
after receiving Glaspie's report of her meeting with the Iraqi
leader) cautioning him against the use of force, without
referring directly to Kuwait.{15}
     31 July: Kelly told Congress: "We have no defense treaty
relationship with any Gulf country.  That is clear. ... We have
historically avoided taking a position on border disputes or on
internal OPEC deliberations."
     Rep. Lee Hamilton asked if it would be correct to say that
if Iraq "charged across the border into Kuwait" the United States
did "not have a treaty commitment which would obligate us to
engage U.S. forces" there.
     "That is correct," Kelly responded.{16}
     The next day (Washington time), Iraqi troops led by tanks
charged across the Kuwaiti border, and the United States
instantly threw itself into unmitigated opposition.
     Official statements notwithstanding, it appears that the
United States did indeed have an official position on the Iraq-Kuwait 
border dispute.  After the invasion, one of the documents the Iraqis 
found in a Kuwaiti intelligence file was a memorandum concerning a 
November 1989 meeting between the head of Kuwaiti state security and 
CIA Director William Webster, which included the following:     

		We agreed with the American side that it was important to take 
     advantage of the deteriorating economic situation in Iraq 
     in order to put pressure on that country's government to 
     delineate our common border.  The Central Intelligence Agency 
     gave us its view of appropriate means of pressure, saying that 
     broad cooperation should be initiated between us on condition
     that such activities be coordinated at a high level.     

The CIA called the document a "total fabrication".  However,
as the Los Angeles Times pointed out, "The memo is not an obvious
forgery, particularly since if Iraqi officials had written it
themselves, they almost certainly would have made it far more
damaging to U.S. and Kuwaiti credibility."{17}  It was apparently
real enough and damaging enough to the Kuwaiti foreign minister
-- he fainted when confronted with the document by his Iraqi
counterpart at an Arab summit meeting in mid-August.{18}
     When the Iraqi ambassador in Washington was asked why the
document seemed to contradict US Ambassador Glaspie's avowal of
neutrality on the issue, he replied that her remark was "part and
parcel of the setup".{19}
     Was Iraq set up by the United States and Kuwait?  Was Saddam
provoked into his invasion -- with the conspirators' expectation
perhaps that it would not extend beyond the border area -- so he
could be cut down to the size both countries wanted?
     In February 1990, Hussein made a speech before an Arab
summit which could certainly have incited, or added impetus to,
such a plot.  In it he condemned the continuous American military
presence in the Persian Gulf waters and warned that "If the Gulf
people and the rest of the Arabs along with them fail to take
heed, the Arab Gulf region will be ruled by American will." 
Further, that the US would dictate the production, distribution
and price of oil, "all on the basis of a special outlook which
has to do solely with U.S. interests and in which no
consideration is given to the interests of others."{20}
     In examining whether there was a conspiracy against Iraq and
Saddam Hussein, we must consider, in addition to the indications
mentioned above, the following:
     Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat has
asserted that Washington thwarted the chance for a peaceful
resolution of the differences between Kuwait and Iraq at an Arab
summit in May, after Saddam had offered to negotiate a mutually
acceptable border with Kuwait.  "The US was encouraging Kuwait
not to offer any compromise," said Arafat, "which meant there
could be no negotiated solution to avoid the Gulf crisis." 
Kuwait, he said, was led to believe it could rely on the force of
US arms instead.{21}
     Similarly, King Hussein of Jordan revealed that just before
the Iraqi invasion the Kuwaiti foreign minister stated: "We are
not going to respond to [Iraq] ... if they don't like it, let
them occupy our territory ... we are going to bring in the
Americans."  And that the Kuwaiti emir told his military officers
that in the event of an invasion, their duty was to hold off the
Iraqis for 24 hours; by then "American and foreign forces would
land in Kuwait and expel them."  King Hussein expressed the
opinion that Arab understanding was that Saddam had been goaded
into invading, thereby stepping into a noose prepared for
     The emir refused to accede to Iraq's financial demands,
instead offering an insulting half-million dollars to Baghdad.  A
note from him to his prime minister before the invasion speaks of
support of this policy from Egypt, Washington and London.  "Be
unwavering in your discussions," the emir writes.  "We are
stronger than they [the Iraqis] think."{23}
     After the war, the Kuwaiti Minister of Oil and Finance
acknowledged:     But we knew that the United States would not let us be overrun.  
     I spent too much time in Washington to make that mistake, and 
     received a constant stream of visitors here.  The American 
     policy was clear.  Only Saddam didn't understand it.{24}     
	We have seen perhaps ample reason why Saddam would fail to
     Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz declared that a sharp drop
in the price of oil was something the Kuwaitis, with their vast
investment holdings in the West, could easily afford, but which
undercut the oil revenues essential to a cash-hungry Baghdad. 
"It was inconceivable," said Aziz, that Kuwait "could risk
engaging in a conspiracy of such magnitude against a large,
strong country such as Iraq, if it were not being supported and
protected by a great power; and that power was the United States
of America."{25}  There is, in fact, no public indication that
the United States, despite its very close financial ties, tried
to persuade Kuwait to cease any of its provocative actions
against Iraq.
     And neither Washington nor Kuwait seemed terribly concerned
about heading off an invasion.  In the week prior to the Iraqi
attack, intelligence experts were telling the Bush administration
with increasing urgency that an invasion of at least a part of
Kuwait was likely.  These forecasts "appear to have evoked little
response from Government agencies."{26}  During this period Bush
was personally briefed and told the same by CIA Director William
Webster, who showed the president satellite photos of the Iraqi
troops massed near the Kuwaiti border.  Bush, reportedly, showed
little interest.{27}  On 1 August, the CIA's National
Intelligence Officer for Warning (sic) walked into the offices of
the National Security Council's Middle East Staff and announced:
"This is your final warning."  Iraq, he said, would invade Kuwait
by day's end, which they did.  This, too, did not produce a rush
to action.{28}  Lastly, a Kuwaiti diplomat stationed in Iraq
before the invasion sent many reports back to his own government
warning of an Iraqi invasion; these were ignored as well.  His
last warning had specified the exact date (Kuwaiti time) of 2
August.  After the war, when the diplomat held a press conference
in Kuwait to discuss the government's ignoring of his warnings,
it was broken up by a government minister and several army
     In July, while all these warnings were ostensibly being
ignored, the Pentagon was busy running its computerized command
post exercise (CPX), initiated in late 1989 specifically to
explore possible responses to "the Iraqi threat" -- which, in the
new war plan 1002-90, had replaced "the Soviet threat" -- the
exercise dealing with an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia
or both.{30}  At a war-games exercise at the Naval War College in
Newport, R.I., participants were also being asked to determine
the most effective American response to a hypothetical invasion
of Kuwait by Iraq.{31}  While at Shaw Air Force Base in South
Carolina, another war "game" involved identifying bombing targets
in Iraq.{32}
     And during May and June, the Pentagon, Congress and defense
contractors had been extensively briefed by the Center for
Strategic and International Studies of Georgetown University on a
study of the future of conventional warfare, which concluded that
the most likely war to erupt requiring an American military
response was between Iraq and Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.{33}
     Another person who seems to have known something in advance
was George Shultz, who was Reagan's Secretary of State and then
returned to the Bechtel Corp., the multinational construction
giant.  In the spring of 1990, Shultz convinced the company to
withdraw from a petrochemicals project in Iraq.  "I said
something is going to go very wrong in Iraq and blow up and if
Bechtel were there it would get blown up too.  So I told them to
get out."{34}
     Finally, there was this disclosure in the Washington Post:     

		Since the invasion, highly classified U.S. intelligence 
     assessments have determined that Saddam took U.S. statements 
     of neutrality ... as a green light from the Bush administration 
     for an invasion.  One senior Iraqi military official ... has 
     told the agency [CIA] that Saddam seemed to be sincerely 
     surprised by the subsequent bellicose reaction.{35}     

On the other hand we have the statement from Iraqi Foreign
Minister Aziz, who was present at the Glaspie-Hussein meeting.    

	 She didn't give a green light, and she didn't mention a red 
     light because the question of our presence in Kuwait was not 
     raised. ... And we didn't take it as a green light ... that 
     if we intervened militarily in Kuwait, the Americans would not 
     react.  That was not true.  We were expecting an American 
     attack on the morning of the second of August.{36}     

But one must be skeptical about so casual an attitude toward
an American attack.  And these remarks, in effect denying that
Iraq was played for a sucker, must be considered in light of the
Iraqi government's stubborn refusal for some time to admit the
harm done to the country by US bombing, and to downplay the
number of their casualties.
     The Bush administration's position was that Iraq's Arab
neighbors, particularly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, had urged
the United States all along not to say or do anything that might
provoke Saddam.  Moreover, as Ambassador Glaspie emphasized, no
one expected Hussein to take "all" of Kuwait, at most the parts
he already claimed: the islands and the oilfield.
     But, of course, Iraq had claimed "all" of Kuwait for a

The invasion

When Iraq invaded, the time for mixed signals was over.  Whatever
devious plan, if any, George Bush may have been operating under,
he now took full advantage of this window of opportunity.  Within
hours, if not minutes, of the border crossing, the United States
began mobilizing, the White House condemned Iraq's action as a
"blatant use of military aggression", demanded "the immediate and
unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces", and announced that
it was "considering all options"; while George Bush was declaring
that the invasion "underscores the need to go slowly in
restructuring U.S. defense forces".{37}
     Before 24 hours had passed, an American naval task force
loaded with fighter planes and bombers was on its way to the
Persian Gulf, Bush was seeking to enlist world leaders for
collective action against Iraq, all trade with Iraq had been
embargoed, all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the United States had
been frozen; and the Senate had "decisively defeated efforts to
end or freeze production of the B-2 Stealth bomber after
proponents seized on Iraq's invasion of Kuwait to bolster their
case for the radar-eluding weapon"; the attack, they said,
"demonstrates the continuing risk of war and the need for
advanced weapons" ... Said Senator Dole: "If we needed Saddam
Hussein to give us a wake-up call at least we can thank him for
     "One day after using Iraq's invasion of Kuwait to help save
the high-tech B-2 bomber, senators invoked the crisis again
Friday to stave off the mothballing of two World War II-vintage
     Within days, thousands of American troops and an armored
brigade were stationed in Saudi Arabia.  It was given the grand
name of Operation Desert Shield, and a heightened appreciation
for America's military needs was the prevailing order of the day ...     

		Less than a year after political changes in Eastern Europe 
     and the Soviet Union sent the defense industry reeling under 
     the threat of dramatic cutbacks, executives and analysts say 
     the crisis in the Persian Gulf has provided military companies 
     with a tiny glimmer of hope.
          "If Iraq does not withdraw and things get messy, it will 
     be good for the industry.  You will hear less rhetoric from 
     Washington about the peace dividend," said Michael Lauer, an 
     analyst with Kidder, Peabody & Co. in New York.     

"The possible beneficiaries" of the crisis, added the
Washington Post, "cover the spectrum of companies in the defense
     By September, James Webb, former Assistant Secretary of
Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration,
felt moved to speak out:     

		The President should be aware that, while most Americans are 
     laboring very hard to support him, a mood of cynicism is just 
     beneath their veneer of respect.  Many are claiming that the 
     buildup is little more than a "Pentagon budget drill," designed 
     to preclude cutbacks of an Army searching for a mission as bases 
     in NATO begin to disappear.{41}     

Remarkably, yet another cynical former Assistant Secretary
of Defense was heard from.  Lawrence Korb wrote that the
deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia "seems driven more by
upcoming budget battles on Capitol Hill than a potential battle
against Saddam Hussein."{42}
     But can anything be too cynical for a congressman stalking
re-election?  By the beginning of October we could read:     

	The political backdrop of the U.S. military deployment in Saudi 
     Arabia played a significant role in limiting defense cuts in 
     Sunday's budget agreement, halting the military spending "free 
     fall" that some analysts had predicted two months ago, budget 
     aides said.  Capitol Hill strategists said that Operation Desert 
     Shield forged a major change in the political climate of the 
     negotiations, forcing lawmakers who had been advocating deep 
     cuts on the defensive.
          The defense budget compromise ... would leave not only 
     funding for Operation Desert Shield intact but would spare 
     much of the funding that has been spent each year to prepare 
     for a major Soviet onslaught on Western Europe.{43}     

Meanwhile, George Bush's approval rating had recovered.  The
first poll taken in August after the US engagement in the Gulf
showed a jump to 74 percent, up from 60 percent in late July. 
However, it seems that the American public needs the rush of a
regular patriotic-fix to maintain enthusiasm for the man
occupying the White House, for by mid-October, due to Bush's
extreme obfuscation of why the US was in the Persian Gulf, the
rating they granted him was down to 56 -- since Bush's first
month in office, it had never been lower; and it stayed close to
that level until the citizenry's next patriotic-invasion-fix in
January, as we shall see.{44}

Prelude to war
As Iraq went about plundering Kuwait and turning it into Iraqi
Province 19, the United States was building up its military
presence in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding waters, and --
employing a little coercion and history's most spectacular bribes
-- creating a "coalition" to support US-fostered United Nations
resolutions and the coming war effort in a multitude of ways: a
figleaf of "multinational" respectability, as Washington had
created in Korea, Grenada and Afghanistan, for what was
essentially an American mission, an American war.  Egypt was
forgiven many billions of dollars in debt, while Syria, China,
Turkey, the Soviet Union, and other countries received military
or economic aid and World Bank and IMF loans, had sanctions
lifted, or were given other perks, not only from the US but,
under Washington's pressure, from Germany, Japan and Saudi
Arabia.  As an added touch, the Bush administration stopped
criticizing the human rights record of any coalition member.{45}
     But Washington and the media were unhappy with Germany for
not enthusiastically jumping on the war bandwagon.  The Germans
who only yesterday were condemned as jackbooted fascists marching
through Poland, were now called "cowards" for marching for peace
in large demonstrations.
     Washington pushed a dozen resolutions through the Security
Council condemning Iraq, imposing severe economic sanctions, and 
getting "authorization" to wage war.  Only Cuba and Yemen voted
against any of them.  When Yemen's delegate received some
applause for his negative vote on the key use-of-force resolution
of 29 November, US Secretary of State Baker, who was presiding,
said to his delegation: " I hope he enjoyed that applause,
because this will turn out to be the most expensive vote he ever
cast."  The message was relayed to the Yemenis, and within days,
the tiny Middle-East nation suffered a sharp reduction in US
     UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar acknowledged
that "It was not a United Nations War.  General Schwarzkopf
[commander of the coalition forces] was not wearing a blue
helmet."{47}  The American control of the United Nations prompted
British political commentator Edward Pearce to write that the UN
"functions like an English medieval parliament: consulted, shown
ceremonial courtesy, but mindful of divine prerogative, it
mutters and gives assent."{48}
     The paramount issue in the United States soon became: how
long should we wait for the sanctions to work before resorting to
direct military force?  The administration and its supporters
insisted that they were giving Hussein every chance to find a
peaceful, face-saving way out of the hole he had dug himself
into.  But the fact remained that each time President Bush made
the Iraqi leader any kind of offer, it was laced with a deep
insult, and never offered the slightest recognition that there
might be any validity to Iraq's stated grievances.{49}  Indeed,
Bush had characterized the Iraqi invasion as being "without
provocation".{50}  The president's rhetoric became increasingly
caustic and exaggerated; he was putting it on a personal level,
demonizing Saddam, as he had done with Noriega, as Reagan had
done with Qaddafi, as if these foreigners did not have pride or
reason like Americans have.  Here's how the Los Angeles Times
viewed it:     

		Shortly after Iraq's invasion ... Bush carefully compared 
     Iraq's aggression with the German aggression against Poland 
     that launched World War II.  But he stopped short of a 
     personal comparison of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with 
     Adolf Hitler.  That caution went out the window last month, 
     when Bush not only compared Hussein to Hitler but also 
     threatened Nuremberg-style war crime trials.  Then, last week, 
     Bush went further, briefly maintaining that the Iraqi leader 
     is worse than Hitler because the Germans never held U.S.
     citizens as "human shields" at military sites.     

After this trivializing of the Holocaust, Bush went on to
warn that any acceptance of uncontrolled aggression "could be
world war tomorrow".  Said one of his own officials: "Got to get
his rhetoric under control."{51}
     Saddam Hussein could not help but soon realize that by
seizing all of Kuwait -- not to mention sacking and pillaging it
-- he had bitten off substantially more than he could chew.  In
early August and again in October, he signaled his willingness to
pull Iraqi forces out of the country in return for sole control
of the Rumaila oil field, guaranteed access to the Persian Gulf,
the lifting of sanctions, and resolution of the oil
price/production problem.{52}  He also began to release some of
the many foreigners who had had the misfortune of being in Iraq
or Kuwait at the wrong time.  In mid-December the last of them
was freed.  Earlier that month, Iraq began laying out a new
Iraqi-Kuwait border, which might have meant a renunciation of its
claim of Kuwait being a part of Iraq, though its meaning was not
clear.{53}  And in early January, as we shall see, his strongest
peace signal was reported.
     The Bush administration chose to not respond in a positive
manner to any of these moves.  After Saddam's August offer, the
State Department "categorically" denied it had even been made;
then the White House confirmed it.{54}  A later congressional
summary of the matter stated:     

	The Iraqis apparently believed that having invaded Kuwait, 
     they would get everyone's attention, negotiate improvements 
     to their economic situation, and pull out. ... a diplomatic 
     solution satisfactory to the interests of the United States 
     may well have been possible since the earliest days of
     the invasion.     
The Bush administration, said the congressional paper,
wanted to avoid seeming in any way to reward the invasion.  But a
retired Army officer, who was acting as a middle man in the
August discussions, concluded afterward that the peace offer "was
already moving against policy".{55}
     After a certain point in the American military buildup,
could the United States have given peace a chance even if it
wanted to?  Former Assistant Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb
observed in late November that all the components of the defense
establishment were pushing to get in on the action, to prove
their worth, to prove that there was still a need for them, to
assure their continued funding ...     

	By mid-January ... the United States will have over 400,000 
     troops in the Gulf [it turned out to be over 500,000] from 
     all five armed services (yes, even the Coast Guard is there).  
     This is about 100,000 more troops than we had in Europe at any 
     time during the Cold War.  The Army will eventually have eight 
     divisions on the ground in Saudi Arabia, twice as many as it had
     in Europe. ... two-thirds of the entire Marine Corps' combat 
     power [will be there] ... The Navy will deploy six of its 14 
     aircraft carrier battle groups, two of its four battleships and 
     one of its two amphibious groups ... The Air Force already has 
     fighters from nine of its 24 active tactical wings ... as well as 
     bombers ... Even the combat reserves are scheduled to be sent ... 
     The reserve lobby recognized that their future funding may be
     jeopardized if their units do not get involved. ... Just as every 
     service wants to be involved in the deployment, will not each want 
     a piece of the real action?     
And would the military high-command be able to resist the
pressures from each service, Korb wondered.  The Navy, which had
moved some its carriers into the narrow and dangerous waters of
the Gulf just to be closer to the action?  The Marines, who might
want to demonstrate the continuing viability of amphibious
warfare by staging an assault on the coast?  And could the Army
lay back while air power carried the day?{56}  [They couldn't,
and it prolonged the war.]
     The US military and President Bush would have their massive
show of power, their super-hi-tech real war games, and no signals
from Iraq or any peacenik would be allowed to spoil it.  Fortune
magazine, in an ingenuous paean to Bush's fortitude, later summed
up the period before the war began thusly:     

	The President and his men worked overtime to quash freelance 
     peacemakers in the Arab world, France, and the Soviet Union 
     who threatened to give Saddam a face-saving way out of the 
     box Bush was building.  Over and over, Bush repeated the mantra: 
     no negotiations, no deals, no face-saving, no rewards, and 
     specifically, no linkage to a Palestinian peace conference [a point
     raised by Iraq on several occasions].{57}     

On 29 November, the UN Security Council authorized the use
of "all necessary means" to compel Iraq to vacate Kuwait if it
didn't do so by 15 January.  Over Christmas, we have learned,
George Bush pored over every one of the 82 pages of Amnesty
International's agonizing report of Iraqi arrests, rape, and
torture in Kuwait.  After the holiday, he told his staff that his
conscience was clear: "It's black and white, good vs. evil.  The
man has to be stopped."{58}
     It's not reported whether Bush ever read any of Amnesty's
many reports of the period on the equally repulsive violations of
human rights and the human spirit perpetrated by Washington's
allies in Guatemala, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Angola and
Nicaragua.  If he did, the literature apparently had little
effect, for he continued to support these forces.  Amnesty had
also been reporting about Iraq's extreme brutality for more than
a decade, and only a few months before the August invasion had
testified about these abuses before the Senate, but none of this
had filled George Bush with righteous indignation.
     As the 15 January deadline neared, the world held its
breath.  Was it possible that in five and a half months no way
could have been found to avoid inflicting another ghastly war
upon this sad planet?  On the 11th, Arab diplomats at the UN said
that they had received reports from Algeria, Jordan and Yemen,
all on close terms with Iraq, that Saddam planned an initiative
soon after the 15th that would express his willingness "in
principle" to pull out of Kuwait in return for international
guarantees that Iraq would not be attacked, an international
conference to address Palestinian grievances, and negotiations on
disputes between Iraq and Kuwait.  The Iraqi leader, the
diplomats said, wanted to wait a day or two after the deadline
had passed to demonstrate that he had not been intimidated.
     For the United States, with half-a-million troops poised for
battle in Saudi Arabia, this was unacceptable.  Saddam Hussein
will "pass the brink at midnight, January 15", said Secretary of
State Baker, and could not expect to save himself by offering to
pull out of Kuwait after that time.{59}

The multiple explanations of George Bush      
go to notes     

		Our jobs, our way of life, our own freedom, and the freedom of 
     friendly countries around the world will suffer if control of 
     the world's great oil reserves fell in the hands of that one 
     man, Saddam Hussein.{60}     

Thus spaketh George Herbert Walker Bush to the people of
America.  As Theodore Draper observed:     

	These reasons were both mundane and implausible.  That "jobs" 
     should have been mentioned first suggested that Bush, as in a 
     domestic political campaign, sought primarily to appeal to the 
     voters' pocketbook.  It was, however, a peculiarly crass reason 
     to go to war, if it came to that, halfway around the world.{61}     

During the entire lengthy buildup to the war, during the
war, after the war, no one was sure they understood why Bush had
intervened in the Persian Gulf, and then taken the United States
into war.  Congressmen, journalists, editors, plain citizens kept
asking, almost pleading at times, for the president to clearly
and unambiguously explain his motivations, and without
contradicting what he had said the previous week.  (Economists
and think-tank intellectuals found it professionally awkward to
admit their uncertainty, and thus wound up writing lots of
authoritative-sounding mumbo-jumbo.)
     The prevailing bewilderment prompted the Wall Street Journal
to assemble a group of "voters" to discuss the issues.  "They are
confused about what's happening and are crying out for more
information," reported the newspaper about the participants. 
"And they are unsettled by the perception that Mr. Bush seems to
be switching his reasoning day to day."  Said one participant:
"So far it's been like David Letterman's Top 10 Reasons for Being
There.  There's a different story every week or so."{62}
     Taking place in the Persian Gulf, as it all did, of course
lent itself to the belief that the liquid gold had a lot, if not
everything, to do with the conflict.  This, however, is a thesis
which can not be supported by the immediate circumstances. 
Supply was not a problem -- the Energy Department acknowledged
that there was not an oil shortage, and Saudi Arabia and other
countries increased their production to more than make up for the
oil lost from Iraq and Kuwait, which, in any event, together
accounted for only about five percent of American consumption. 
There was a whole world ready to supply more oil, from Mexico to
Russia, as well as large untapped American sources.  This
indicates the difficulties faced by any single producer --
Hussein or anyone else -- who might try to control or dominate
the market; which in turn raises the question: what would such a
country do with all the oil, drink it?  By December it was
reported that "OPEC is pumping oil at the highest levels since
early summer, and unless a war in the Middle East disrupts
supplies, there's a prospect again of an oil glut and sharply
lower prices."{63}
     As to the price of oil: did oilmen George Bush and James
Baker and the depressed American oil states want it to go up or
down?  A case could be made for either hypothesis.  (In January
1990 the US had secretly urged Saddam to try to raise the OPEC
oil price to $25 a barrel.){64}  And how easily could Washington
control it either way in a chaotic situation?  As it is, oil
prices fluctuate on a regular basis, often sharply -- between
1984 and 1986, for example, the price of a barrel of oil fell
from around $30 to less than $10, despite the ongoing Iraq-Iran
war which cut into the production of both countries.
     However, this analysis of the immediate circumstances does
not take into consideration the formidable and continual
influence of the "mystique of oil" upon the thinking of American
policy makers.  If Bush was looking for a "crisis" to impress
upon the congressional mind the enduring danger of the world we
live in, then getting involved in a conflict between two major
oil producing countries would certainly generate the desired
effect much more readily than if he had seized upon Bolivia
attacking Paraguay, or Ghana occupying Ivory Coast.
     The president's remark about the American way of life and
everyone's freedom reflects the life-and-death seriousness that
he and other policy makers publicly ascribe to oil.  (What these
men really believe and feel in each instance is something we are
not privy to.)  Earlier in the year, CIA Director William Webster
had told Congress that oil "will continue to have a major impact
on U.S. interests" because "Western dependence on Persian Gulf
oil will rise dramatically" in the next decade; while General
Schwarzkopf, who had lifelong ties to the Middle East, testified:     

	Mideast oil is the West's lifeblood.  It fuels us today, and 
     being 77 percent of the Free World's proven oil reserves, is 
     going to fuel us when the rest of the world has run dry. ... 
     It is estimated that within 20 to 40 years the U.S. will have 
     virtually depleted its economically available oil reserves, 
     while the Persian Gulf region will still have at least 100 years
     of proven oil reserves.{65}     

It was actually 69 percent at the time, and since the Soviet
Union has joined the "Free World", it's even less.{66}  It should
also be noted that the good general's prediction for the US is
rather speculative, and that the term "economically available" is
a reference to the fact that US domestic oil reserves are more
costly to exploit than those in the Gulf.  But this only makes it
a profit problem, not an oil-supply problem.  Moreover, the vast
potential residing in alternative energy sources must be included
in the equation.
     At this time, the United States -- seemingly in a panic
about danger to the Gulf oil supply -- was receiving about 11
percent of its oil from the region, while Japan, which got 62
percent of its oil, and Europe which got 27 percent from there,
were hardly stirred up at all, except for Margaret Thatcher who
foamed at the mouth when it came to Saddam and former colony
Iraq.{67}  Germany's figure was about 35 percent, yet both Bonn
and Tokyo had to have their arms twisted by Washington to support
the war effort.  The two countries may, in fact, have been leery
about helping the United States acquire greater influence and
control over the region's oil.
     Official Washington's embrace of the oil mystique has given
rise to a long-standing policy, expressed as follows by political
analyst Noam Chomsky:     

	It's been a leading, driving doctrine of U.S. foreign policy 
     since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy resources 
     of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by the United 
     States and its clients, and, crucially, that no independent, 
     indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial influence 
     on the administration of oil production and price.{68}     

This has not always meant the use of force.  In 1973, when
OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, used substantial price increases and
an oil boycott in an attempt to force Washington to influence
Israel into withdrawing from its recently occupied territories,
the United States did not launch, or even threaten, an invasion. 
The matter was resolved through extensive diplomacy without a
shot being fired.  What saved the OPEC states from a violent fate
may have been the combination of the Vietnam war still hanging
heavy in the air in Washington, and the Nixon administration on
the verge of being swallowed up by Watergate.
     In addition to issuing several dire warnings early on about
the invasion's severe economic consequences for the United
States, which never came to pass, Bush warned of an even worse
fate if Iraq took over Saudi Arabia.  The danger-to-Saudi Arabia
explanation was a non-starter.  Iraq never had any designs on
Saudi Arabia, as a simple look at a map makes clear.  The Iraqis
have a long border with that country; they didn't have to go
through Kuwait to invade the Saudis; and even if they did, they
could have moved into Saudi Arabia virtually unopposed during the
three weeks following their takeover of Kuwait, as General Colin
Powell later conceded.{69}  Bush administration officials in fact
admitted that neither the CIA nor the Defense Intelligence Agency
thought it probable that Iraq would invade Saudi Arabia.{70}  The
Saudis didn't think so either, until Defense Secretary Cheney
flew to Riyadh on 5 August and personally told King Fahd that his
country stood in great potential danger and desperately needed a
very large infusion of American military forces to defend it.{71}
     Bush backed away from the oil rationale when critics charged
that he was only trying to protect the interests of the oil
industry.  In October, he was interrupted while making a speech
by some people calling out: "Mr. President, bring our troops home
from Saudi Arabia!  No blood for oil!"  To which George Bush
replied -- as the hecklers were hustled out -- "You know, some
people never get the word.  The fight isn't about oil.  The fight
is about naked aggression that [we] will not stand."  A month
later, if not sooner, the president again began to play the oil
card, tying America's economic security to that of Saudi Arabia. 
Shortly afterward, he returned to "the devastating damage being
done every day" to the US and international economies by the
disruption of oil markets.{72}
     As to Iraq's naked aggression -- a remark requiring
selective-memory skills of a high order coming from a government
that held all modern records for international aggression, naked
or otherwise, and from a man who, less than a year before, had
nakedly invaded Panama -- both Syria and Israel had invaded
Lebanon and still occupied large portions of that country, Israel
bombarding Beirut mercilessly in the process, without a threat of
war emanating from Washington.  Saddam Hussein, perhaps wondering
when they had changed the rules, said to the United States: "You
are talking about an aggressive Iraq ... if Iraq was aggressive
during the Iran war, why then did you speak with [us] then?"{73}
     During Iraq's epic struggle against the Ayatollah Khomeini,
the United States of course had more than spoken to Baghdad. 
Washington -- choosing Iraq as the lesser evil against Shiite
extremism -- was responsible for huge amounts of weaponry,
military training, sophisticated technology, satellite-photo
intelligence, and billions of dollars reaching a needy Hussein,
who was also lavishly supported by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, they
being concerned that Iran's anti-monarchist sentiments might
spread to their own realms.  Indeed, there is evidence that
Washington encouraged Iraq to attack Iran and ignite the war in
the first place.{74}  And during this period of American support
of Hussein, he was certainly the same odious, repressive, beastly
thug as when he later came under American moralistic rhetorical
fire.  Similarly, absent Washington's prodding, the UN did not
condemn Iraq's invasion, nor did it impose any sanctions or lay
down any demands.
     Even as it officially banned arms sales to either combatant,
the US secretly provided weapons to both.  The other bête noire
of the region, the Ayatollah, received American arms and military
intelligence on Iraq during the war, so as to enhance the ability
of the two countries to inflict maximum devastation upon each
other and stunt their growth as strong Middle-East nations.
     In contrast to Iraq-the-enemy now were the two "allies" most
involved, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  Although Washington did not
make a big thing about the "virtue" of either country, official
policy was always that the United States had a principled
commitment to defending the former and liberating the latter. 
And they were not a pretty pair.  Saudi Arabia regularly featured
extreme religious intolerance, extrajudicial arrest, torture, and
flogging.{75}  It also practiced gender apartheid and systematic
repression of women, virtual slavery for its foreign workers,
stoning of adulterers, and amputation of the hands of thieves. 
US chaplains stationed in the country were asked to remove
crosses and Stars of David from their uniforms and call
themselves "morale officers".{76}
     Kuwait, oddly enough, was virulently anti-American in its
foreign policy.{77}  Though more socially enlightened than Saudi
Arabia (but less than Iraq), it was nonetheless run by one family
as an elitist oligarchy, which closed down the parliament in
1986, had no political parties, and forbade criticism of the
ruling emir; no more than 20 percent of the population possessed
any political rights at all.  After the country had been returned
to its rightful dictators, it behaved very brutally toward its
large foreign-worker population, holding them without charge or
trial for several months; death squads executed scores of people. 
"Torture of political detainees was routine and widespread," said
Amnesty International, and at least 80 "disappeared" in custody. 
The targets of the campaign, which took place in the presence of
thousands of US troops, were primarily those who were accused of
collaboration with the Iraqis, although this was something most
of them had no choice in, and those who were involved in a
nascent pro-democracy movement.  Additionally, some 400 Iraqis
were forced to return to Iraq despite fears that they would be
harmed or executed there.{78}
     The elite of the region did not display much gratitude for
all that George Bush said America was doing for them.  Said one
Gulf official: "You think I want to send my teen-aged son to die
for Kuwait?"  He chuckled and added, "We have our white slaves
from America to do that."  A Saudi teacher saw it this way: "The
American soldiers are a new kind of foreign worker here.  We have
Pakistanis driving taxis and now we have Americans defending us." 
Explaining the absence of expressed gratitude on the part of Gulf
leaders, a Yemeni diplomat said: "A lot of the Gulf rulers simply
do not feel that they have to thank the people they've hired to
do their fighting for them."{79}  Apart from anything else,
people in the Arab world were very sensitive about the killing of
Muslims and Arabs by foreigners, as well as foreign military
presence on Arab soil, a reminder of a century of Western, white
     Bush also warned that Iraq posed a nuclear threat.  True
enough.  But so did the United States, France, Israel, and every
other country that already had nuclear weapons.  Iraq, on the
other hand, according to American, British and Israeli experts,
was five to ten years away from being able to build and use
nuclear weapons.{80}  It's unlikely that the president himself
believed there was any such danger.  His warning came only after
a poll showed that a plurality of Americans felt that preventing
Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons was the most persuasive
argument for going to war.{81}
     One factor not mentioned by Bush as a reason for the
intervention, but which, in fact, probably played an important
role, was the Pentagon's desire to make or strengthen agreements
with Gulf-region countries for an ongoing US military presence;
and considerable progress along these lines appears to have been
made.{82}  General Schwarzkopf had earlier told Congress that
"U.S. presence" in the Gulf is one of the three pillars of
overall military strategy, along with security assistance and
combined exercises, all of which lead to all-important "access",
which one can take as a euphemism for influence and control.{83} 
After the war, the existence of a network of military-communication
-systems "superbases" in Saudi Arabia was revealed. Ten years in the 
building by the United States, in maximum secrecy, its cost of almost 
$200 billion paid for by the Saudis, its use during the Gulf War 
indispensable, it may explain why Bush moved so quickly to defend 
Saudi Arabia, albeit against a non-existent threat.{84}

"Stop me before I kill again!"

Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood ... Adolf Hitler was a
vegetarian and anti-smoking ... Herman Goering, while his
Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office
that read: "He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the
German people." ... this fact Elie Wiesel called the greatest
discovery of the war: that Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read
deeply, played the violin ... Charles Manson was a staunch 
anti-vivisectionist ...
     About Panama, as we have seen, after he ordered the bombing,
George Bush said that his "heart goes out to the families who
have died in Panama."  And when he was asked, "Was it really
worth it to send people to their death for this?  To get
Noriega?", he replied, "... every human life is precious, and yet
I have to answer, yes, it has been worth it."
     About Iraq, Bush said: "People say to me: `How many lives? 
How many lives can you expend?'  Each one is precious."{85}
     Just before ordering the start of the war against Iraq in
January, Bush prayed, as tears ran down his cheeks.  "I think,"
he later said, "that, like a lot of others who had positions of
responsibility in sending someone else's kids to war, we realize
that in prayer what mattered is how it might have seemed to
     God, one surmises, might have asked George Bush about the
kids of Iraq.  And the adults.  And, in a testy, rather 
un-godlike manner, might have cracked: "So stop wasting all the
precious lives already!"
Tanks pulling plows moved alongside trenches, firing into the
Iraqi soldiers inside the trenches as the plows covered them with
great mounds of sand.  Thousands were buried, dead, wounded, or
     US forces fired on Iraqi soldiers after the Iraqis had
raised white flags of surrender.  The navy commander who gave the
order to fire was not punished.{88}
     The bombing destroyed two operational nuclear reactors in
Iraq.  It was the first time ever that live reactors had been
bombed, and may well have set a dangerous precedent.  Hardly more
than a month had passed since the United Nations, under whose
mandate the United States was supposedly operating, had passed a
resolution reaffirming its "prohibition of military attacks on
nuclear facilities" in the Middle East.{89}  Sundry chemical,
including chemical-warfare, facilities and alleged biological-
warfare plants, were also targets of American bombs.  General
Schwarzkopf then announced that they had been very careful in
selecting the means of destruction of these as well as the
nuclear facilities, and only "after a lot of advice from a lot of
very, very prominent scientists," and were "99.9 percent" certain
that there was "no contamination".{90}  However, European
scientists and environmentalists detected traces of chemical-
weapons agents that the bombings had released; as well as
chemical fallout and toxic vapors, also released by the air
attacks, that were killing scores of civilians.{91}
     The American government and media had a lot of fun with an
obvious piece of Iraqi propaganda -- the claim that a bombed
biological warfare facility had actually been a baby food
factory.  But it turned out that the government of New Zealand
and various business people from there had had intimate contact
with the factory and categorically confirmed that it had indeed
been a baby food factory.{92}
     The United States also made wide use of advanced depleted
uranium (DU) shells, rockets and missiles, leaving tons of
radioactive and toxic rubble in Kuwait and Iraq.  The United
Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, in an April 1991 secret report,
warned that "if DU gets in the food chain or water this will
create potential health problems."  The uranium-238 used to make
the weapons can cause cancer and genetic defects if inhaled. 
Uranium is also chemically toxic, like lead.  Inhalation causes
heavy metal poisoning or kidney or lung damage.  Iraqi soldiers,
pinned down in their bunkers during assaults, were almost
certainly poisoned by radioactive dust clouds.{93}
     The civilian population suffered in the extreme from the
relentless bombing.  Middle East Watch, the human-rights
organization, has documented numerous instances of the bombing of
apartment houses, crowded markets, bridges filled with
pedestrians and civilian vehicles, and a busy central bus
station, usually in broad daylight, without a government building
or military target of any kind in sight, not even an anti-
aircraft gun.{94}
     On 12 February, the Pentagon announced that "Virtually
everything militarily ... is either destroyed or combat
ineffective."{95}  Yet the next day there was a deliberate
bombardment of a civilian air raid shelter that took the lives of
as many as 1,500 civilians, a great number of them women and
children; this was followed by significant bombardment of various
parts of Iraq on a daily basis for the remaining two weeks of the
war, including what was reported for the 18th in The Guardian of
London as "one of [the coalition's] most ferocious attacks on the
centre of Baghdad."{96}  What was the purpose of the bombing
campaign after the 12th?
     The United States said it thought that the shelter was for
VIPs, which it had been at one time, and claimed that it was also
being used as a military communications center, but neighborhood
residents insisted that the constant aerial surveillance overhead
had to observe the daily flow of women and children into the
shelter.{97}  Western reporters said they could find no signs of
military use.{98}
     An American journalist in Jordan who viewed unedited
videotape footage of the disaster, which the American public
never saw, wrote:     

	They showed scenes of incredible carnage.  Nearly all the 
     bodies were charred into blackness; in some cases the heat 
     had been so great that entire limbs were burned off. ... 
     Rescue workers collapsed in grief, dropping corpses; some 
     rescuers vomited from the stench of the still-smoldering 

Said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater after the
bombing of the shelter: It was "a military target ... We don't
know why civilians were at this location, but we do know that
Saddam Hussein does not share our value in the sanctity of
life."{100}  Said George Bush, when criticized for the bombing
campaign: "I am concerned about the suffering of innocents."{101}
     The crippling of the electrical system multiplied
geometrically the daily living horror of the people of Iraq.  As
a modern country, Iraq was reliant on electrical power for
essential services such as water purification and distribution,
sewage treatment, the operation of hospitals and medical
laboratories, and agricultural production.  Bomb damage,
exacerbated by shortages attributable to the UN/US embargo,
dropped electricity to three or four percent of its pre-war
level; the water supply fell to five percent, oil production was
negligible, the food distribution system was devastated, the
sewage system collapsed, flooding houses with raw sewage, and
gastroenteritis and extreme malnutrition were prevalent.{102}
     Two months after the war ended, a public health team from
Harvard University visited health facilities in several Iraqi
cities.  Based on their research, the group projected,
conservatively, that "at least 170,000 children under five years
of age will die in the coming year from the delayed effects" of
the destruction of electrical power, fuel and transportation; "a
large increase in deaths among the rest of the population is also
likely.  The immediate cause of death in most cases will be
water-borne infectious disease in combination with severe
malnutrition."{103}  One member of both the Harvard group and a
later research group which visited Iraq testified before Congress
that "Children play in the raw sewage which is backed up in the
streets ... Two world renowned child psychologists stated that
the children in Iraq were `the most traumatized children of war
ever described'."{104}
Despite repeated statements by American authorities about taking
the greatest of care to hit only military targets, using "smart
bombs" and laser-guided bombs, and "surgical strikes", we now
know that this was little more than an exercise in propaganda,
just as referring to this suffering as "collateral damage" was.
After the war, the Pentagon admitted that non-military facilities
had been extensively targeted for political reasons.{105} 
Comprehensive post-World War II government studies had concluded
that "the dread of disease and the hardships imposed by the lack
of sanitary facilities were bound to have a demoralizing effect
upon the civilian population", and that there was a "reliable and
striking" correlation between the disruption of public utilities
and the willingness of the German population to accept
unconditional surrender.{106}
     In the Iraqi case there was a further motivation: to
encourage desperate citizens to rise up and overthrow Saddam
Hussein.  Said a US Air Force planner:     

	Big picture, we wanted to let people know, "Get rid of this 
     guy and we'll be more than happy to assist in rebuilding.  
     We're not going to tolerate Saddam Hussein or his regime.  
     Fix that, and we'll fix your electricity."{107}

Those who tried to escape the bombing horror in Iraq by fleeing
to Jordan were subjected to air attacks on the highway between
Baghdad and the Jordanian border -- buses, taxis, and private
cars were repeatedly assaulted, literally without mercy, by
rockets, cluster bombs and machine guns; usually in broad
daylight, the targets clearly civilian, with luggage piled on
top, with no military vehicles or structures anywhere to be seen,
surrounded by open desert, the attacking planes flying extremely
close to the ground ... busloads of passengers incinerated, and
when people left the vehicles and fled for their lives, planes
often swooped down upon them firing away. ... "You're killing
us!" cried a Jordanian taxi driver to an American reporter. 
"You're shooting us everywhere we move!  Whenever they see a car
or truck, the planes dive out of the sky and chase us.  They
don't care who we are or what we are.  They just shoot."  His cry
was repeated by hundreds of others. ... The US military, it
appears, felt that any vehicle, including those filled with
families, might be a cover for carrying military fuel or other
war materiel, some perhaps related to Scud missiles; and even
carrying civilian fuel was a violation of the embargo.{108}
     At the very end, when the hungry, wounded, sick, exhausted,
disoriented, demoralized, ragged, sometimes barefoot Iraqi army,
which had scarcely shown any desire to fight, left Kuwait and
headed toward Basra in southern Iraq, Saddam tried to salvage a
pathetic scrap of dignity by announcing that his army was
withdrawing because of "special circumstances".  But even this
was too much for George Bush to grant.  "Saddam's most recent
speech is an outrage," declared the president, forcefully.  "He
is not withdrawing.  His defeated forces are retreating.  He is
trying to claim victory in the midst of a rout."
     This could not be permitted.  Thus it was that American air
power in all its majesty swept down upon the road to Basra,
bombing, rocketing, strafing everything that moved in the long
column of Iraqi military and civilian vehicles, troops and
refugees.  The nice, god-fearing, wholesome American GIs, soon to
be welcomed as heroes at home, had a ball ... "we toasted him"
... "we hit the jackpot" ... "a turkey shoot" ... "This morning
was bumper-to-bumper.  It was the road to Daytona Beach at spring
break ... and spring break's over."
     Again and again, as loudspeakers on the carrier Ranger
blared Rossini's "William Tell Overture", the rousing theme song
of the Lone Ranger, one strike force after another took off with
their load of missiles and anti-tank and anti-personnel Rockeye
cluster bombs, which explode into a deadly rain of armor-piercing
bomblets; land-based B-52s joined in with 1000-pound bombs. ...
"It's not going to take too many more days until there's nothing
left of them." ... "shooting fish in a barrel" ... "basically
just sitting ducks" ... "There's just nothing like it.  It's the
biggest Fourth of July show you've ever seen, and to see those
tanks just `boom,' and more stuff just keeps spewing out of them
... they just become white hot.  It's wonderful."
     The British daily, The Independent, although it supported
the war, denounced the glee with which the Americans carried out
the barrage, saying it "turned the stomachs" and was "sickening
to witness a routed army being shot in the back".{109}
     A BBC Radio reporter summed up the attack by asking:  "What
threat could these pathetic remnants of Saddam Hussein's beaten
army have posed?  Wasn't it obvious that the people of the convoy
would have given themselves up willingly without the application
of such ferocious weaponry?"{110}
     And all this against a foe that had for five days been
calling for a cease-fire.
     But heaven forbid that the Americans should offend any of
the people of the Gulf.  Thus it was that GIs were taught things
like never to use their left hand when offering food or drink,
for that hand is traditionally reserved for sanitary functions;
and the proper way to beckon an Arab with one's hand and fingers,
so as not to confuse it with beckoning a dog.{111}
     We also have the story of the American pilot who, during an
earlier bombing operation, stuffed into his identification packet
a $20 bill and a note written in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and
English.  It said: "I am an American and do not speak your
language.  I bear no malice toward your people."  Then he was
off, roaring through the skies toward Iraq with his payload of
     Did the GIs bear any malice toward their female soldiers-
in-arms?  One post-war study found that more than half the women who
served in the Gulf War felt that they had been sexually harassed
verbally, while eight percent (almost 3,000) had been the objects
of attempted or completed sexual assaults.{113}
     And immediately after George Bush ordered the bombing to
begin, his rating with the American people jumped for joy: an 82
percent approval rating, the highest ever in his two years in
office, higher even than after his invasion of Panama.{114}  One
journalist later noted:     

	One minute of nightly truth on this "popular" war would 
     have changed American public opinion. ... if for just 60 
     seconds the 6 o'clock Monday news had shown 5,000 Iraqi 
     soldiers with hideous phosphorous burns that alter human 
     anatomy followed by 60 seconds Tuesday night of the slaughter
     at the Baghdad bomb shelter ... What if on Wednesday Americans 
     had seen 10,000 Iraqi soldiers incinerated by American high-tech 

Ever since the Iraqi invasion in August, and despite the many
confusing soundbites and heavy rhetoric emanating from the White
House, one thing seemed clear enough: if Iraq agreed to withdraw
from Kuwait, military attacks against it would not take place, or
would cease, whatever other punishment or sanctions might
continue.  Thus, it seemed like a ray of hope, however late, when
the Soviet Union succeeded on 21-22 February 1991 in getting Iraq
to agree to withdraw completely the day after a cease-fire of all
military operations went into effect.  The agreement came with
specified timetables and monitoring.{116}
     George Bush refused to offer a cease-fire, per se.  He could
not even bring himself to mention the word in his replies.  All
he would say was that the retreating Iraqi forces would not be
attacked (which turned out to be untrue), and that the coalition
"will exercise restraint."  Saddam could have chosen to take this
as the cease-fire, but he was as proud and stubborn as George.
     The point Bush emphasized the most during these two crucial
days, as well as earlier, was that Iraq must comply with all 12
UN resolutions.  In evaluating Bush's legalistic demands, it
should be kept in mind that the policy and practice of the
American war had repeatedly violated the letter and the spirit of
the United Nations Charter, the Hague Conventions, the Geneva
Conventions, the Nuremberg Tribunal, the protocols of the
International Committee of the Red Cross, and the US
Constitution, amongst other cherished documents.{117}
     In the end, Bush gave Saddam 24 hours to begin withdrawing
from Kuwait, period.  When the time came and went, the United
States launched the long-expected ground war, while the aerial
attacks -- including the carnage on the road to Basra --
continued until the end of the month.
     Said Vitaly Ignatenko, a spokesman for Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev:  "It seems that President Gorbachev cares more
about saving the lives of American soldiers than George Bush
In a postwar survey, a United Nations inspection team declared
that the allied bombardment had had a "near apocalyptic impact"
on Iraq and had transformed the country into a "pre-industrial
age nation" which "had been until January a rather highly
urbanized and mechanized society."{119}
     It will never be known how many hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis died from the direct and indirect effects of the war; the
count is added to every day.  With the United States refusing to
end the embargo against Iraq, everything has continued:
malnutrition, starvation, lack of medicines and vaccines,
contaminated drinking water, human excrement piling up, typhoid,
a near-epidemic of measles, several other diseases ... Iraq's
food supply had been 70 percent dependent on imports, now
billions of dollars were frozen in overseas accounts, and with
prohibitive restrictions on selling its oil ... an inability to
rebuild because vital parts could not be imported, industry
closing its doors, mass unemployment, transportation and
communications broken down{120} ... By September 1994, with 
Washington still refusing to release its death grip on the 
embargo, the Iraqi government announced that since the sanctions 
had begun in August 1990 about 400,000 children had died of 
malnutrition and disease.{121}
     After the war, when the Iraqi government was repressing a
Kurdish revolt -- which the US had encouraged, then failed to
support -- Bush said: "I feel frustrated any time innocent
civilians are being slaughtered."{122}
     This was the second time the United States had led the
Kurdish lambs to slaughter with a broken commitment.  (See Iraq
1972-75 chapter.)
     The United States had also encouraged the Shiite muslims in
Iraq to rebel, then did not back them, presumably because
Washington only wanted to drive Saddam up the wall some more,
make him irrational enough to incite a coup against him; but 
Washington was not looking to foster a pro-Iranian regime and
inspire muslim fundamentalists elsewhere in the Middle East.
American mental hospitals and prisons are home to many people who
claim to have heard a voice telling them to kill certain people,
people they'd never met before, people who'd never done them any
harm, or threatened any harm.
     American soldiers went to the Persian Gulf to kill the same
kind of people after hearing a voice command them: the voice of
George Herbert Walker Bush.
return to mid-text

1. Los Angeles Times, 17 March 1991, p. 8.
2. Washington Post, 13 January 1990, p. 11; 8 February 1990.
3. Ibid., 12 February 1990, 16 June 1990, p. 6.
4. Los Angeles Times, 11 July 1990, p. 1.
5. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1990 (Wilmington, Del. 1991)
6.  a) Ramsey Clark, The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the
Gulf (Thunder's Mouth Press, NY, 1992), pp. 12-13; this book is
based largely on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry for
the International War Crimes Tribunal, which gathered testimony
from survivors and eyewitnesses.
   b) Ralph Schoenman, Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed, pp.
1-11, a 21-page monograph published by Veritas Press, Santa
Barbara, CA.
   c) New York Times, 15 September 1976, p. 17; the incursion was
resolved without war.
7. a) "Note from the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tariq
Aziz, to the Secretary-General of the Arab League, July 15,
1990", Appendix 1 of Pierre Salinger and Eric Laurent, Secret
Dossier: The Hidden Agenda Behind the Gulf War (Penguin Books,
New York 1991), pp. 223-234.
   b) New York Times, 3 September 1990, p. 7.
   c) Los Angeles Times, 2 December 1990, p. M4 (article by Henry
Schuler, director of energy security programs for the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, Washington).
   d) John K. Cooley, Payback: America's Long War in the Middle
East (Brassey's [US], McLean, Va., 1991) pp. 183-6.
8. Murray Waas, "Who Lost Kuwait?  How the Bush Administration
Bungled its Way to War in the Gulf", The Village Voice (New
York), 22 January 1991, p. 35; New York Times, 23 September 1990.
9. New York Times, 23 September 1990.
10. Ibid., 25 July 1990, pp. 1, 8.
11. Ibid., 23 September 1990.
12. Ibid., 17 September 1990, p. 23, column by William Safire.
13. Waas, p. 31.
14. New York Times, 28 July 1990, p. 5.
15. Los Angeles Times, 21 October 1992, p. 8.
16. "Developments in the Middle East", p. 14, Hearing before the
Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the House Committee
on Foreign Affairs, 31 July 1990.
17. Kuwaiti document: Los Angeles Times, 1 November 1990, p. 14.
18. Washington Post, 19 August 1990, p. 29.
19. Los Angeles Times, 1 November 1990, p. 14.
20. Schoenman, pp. 11-12; New York Review of Books, 16 January
1992, p. 51.
21. Christian Science Monitor, 5 February 1991, p. 1.
22. Michael Emery, "How Mr. Bush Got His War" in Greg Ruggiero
and Stuart Sahulka, eds., Open Fire (The New Press, New York,
1993), pp. 39, 40, 52, based on Emery's interview of King
Hussein, 19 February 1991 in Jordan. (Revised version of article
in the Village Voice, 5 March 1991).
23. Ibid., p. 42; "they" also referred to the Saudis, for reasons
not pertinent to this discussion.
24. Milton Viorst, "A Reporter At Large: After the Liberation",
The New Yorker, 30 September 1991, p. 66.
25. Schoenman, pp. 12-13, from a letter sent by the Iraqi Foreign
Minister to the Secretary-General of the UN, 4 September 1990;
Emery, pp. 32-3.
26. New York Times, 5 August 1990, p. 12.
27. Waas, pp. 30 and 38.
28. New York Times, 24 January 1991, p. D22.
29. Washington Post, 8 March 1991, p. A26.
30. a) Major James Blackwell, US Army Ret., Thunder in the
Desert: The Strategy and Tactics of the Persian Gulf War (Bantam
Books, New York, 1991), pp. 85-6.
b) Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian
Gulf War (U.S. News and World Report/Times Books, 1992) pp. 29-30.
c) AIR FORCE Magazine (Arlington, Va.), March 1991, p. 82.
d) Newsweek, 28 January 1991, p. 61.
31. Los Angeles Times, 5 August 1990, p. 1.
32. Washington Post, 23 June 1991, p. A16.
33. Blackwell, pp. 86-7.
34. Financial Times (London), 21 February 1991, p. 3.
35. Waas, p. 30.
36. New York Times, 31 May 1991.
37. Ibid., 2 August 1990, p. 1; Washington Post, 3 August 1990,
p. 7; the Bush quotation is the Post summary of his remarks.
38. New York Times, 3 August 1990; Los Angeles Times, 3 August
1990, p. 1; Washington Post, 3 August 1990, p. 7.
39. Los Angeles Times, 4 August 1990, p. 20.
40. Washington Post, 10 August 1990, p. F1.
41. New York Times, 23 September 1990, IV, p. 21.
42. Washington Post, 25 November 1990, p. C4.
43. Los Angeles Times, 2 October 1990, p. 18.  See Washington
Post, 10 October 1990, p. 5, and 18 October, p. 1, for some of
the actual numbers and programs testifying to how Congress went
out of its way not to rock the new war boat.
44. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1989 (Wilmington, Del. 1990);
ditto for 1990, published in 1991.
45. Reported in many places; see, e.g., Wall Street Journal, 14
January 1991, p. 14; Fortune magazine (New York), 11 February
1991, p. 46; Clark, pp. 153-6; Washington Post, 30 January 1991,
p. A30 (IMF and World Bank); Daniel Pipes, "Is Damascus Ready for
Peace?", Foreign Affairs magazine (New York), Fall 1991, pp. 41-2
(Syria); Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1992, p. 1 (Turkey); Elaine
Sciolino, The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and
the Gulf Crisis (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1991), pp. 237-9
(China, Russia).
46. Sciolino, pp. 237-8.  Baker's exact words differ slightly in
several of the sources reporting this incident; also, whether he
said it out loud or not; the amount of aid lost by the Yemenis
differs widely as well.
47. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 1991, p. 8.
48. The Guardian (London), 9 January 1991.
49. For an analysis of the Bush administration's method of
negotiating, see John E. Mack and Jeffrey Z. Rubin, "Is This Any
Way to Wage Peace?", Los Angeles Times, 31 January 1991, op. ed.;
also see ibid., 1 October 1990, p. 1, and 2 November 1990, p. 18.
50. New York Times, 9 August 1990, p. 15.
51. Los Angeles Times, 6 November 1990, p. 4.
52. August: Robert Parry, "The Peace Feeler That Was", The
Nation, 15 April 1991, pp. 480-2; Newsweek, 10 September 1990, p.
17; October: Los Angeles Times, 20 October 1990, p. 6.
53. New border: Wall Street Journal, 11 December 1990, p. 3.
54. Newsweek, 10 September 1990, p. 17
55. Parry, op. cit.
56. Washington Post, 25 November 1990, p. C4.
57. Fortune, op. cit.
58. Ibid.
59. The Guardian (London), 12 January 1991, p. 2.
60. Theodore Draper, "The True History of the Gulf War", The New
York Review of Books, 30 January 1992, p. 41.
61. Ibid.
62. Wall Street Journal, 21 November 1990, p. 16.
63. New York Times, 3 August 1990, p. 9; 12 August, p. 1; Los
Angeles Times, 17 November 1990, p. 14; Wall Street Journal, 3
December 1990, p. 3.
64. The Observer (London), 21 October 1990.
65. Webster, 23 January 1990, p. 60, and Schwarzkopf, 8 February
1990, pp. 586, 594 of "Threat Assessment; Military Strategy; and
Operational Requirements", testimony before Senate Armed Services
66. Basic Petroleum Data Book (American Petroleum Institute,
Washington), September 1990, Section II, Table 1a, 1989 figures:
Middle East - 572 billion barrels of reserves, "Free World" - 824
billion, USSR - 84 billion.
67. "Threat Assessment; Military Strategy; and Operational
Requirements", op. cit., p. 600, for 1989 figures.
68. Speaking on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 11 September 1990.
69. Draper, op. cit., p. 41.
70. Judith Miller and Laurie Mylroie, Saddam Hussein and the
Crisis in the Gulf (Times Books, New York, 1990), p. 192.
71. Bob Woodward, The Commanders  (Simon & Schuster, New York,
1991), pp. 263-73.
72. Los Angeles Times, 17 October 1990 (hecklers); 17 November,
p. 14; 1 December, p. 5.
73. The Guardian (London), 12 September 1990, p. 7.
74. See, e.g., Christopher Hitchens, Harper's Magazine, January
1991, p. 72; Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military
Conflict (London, 1989), p. 71.  US policy had to do with the
hostages held in the US embassy in Teheran.
75. Saudi Arabia: Religious intolerance: The arrest, detention
and torture of Christian worshippers and Shi'a Muslims (Amnesty
International report, New York, 14 September 1993).
76. Miller and Mylroie, pp. 220, 225; Denis MacShane, "Working in
Virtual Slavery", The Nation, 18 March 1991.
77. Draper, op. cit., p. 38, provides details.
78. See, as a small sample, Los Angeles Times, 7, 13, and 17
March 1991, 12 June 1991, and 10 July 1992 (Amnesty).
79. All three quotations: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "White Slaves
in the Persian Gulf", Wall Street Journal, 7 January 1991, p. 14.
80. New York Times, 18 November 1990, p. 1.
81. Sciolino, pp. 139-40.
82. Los Angeles Times, 7 May 1991, p. 16; 6 September 1991, p.
17; Clark, p. 92, lists eight countries with whom Washington made
such arrangements.
83. "Threat Assessment; Military Strategy; and Operational
Requirements", op. cit., pp. 589-90.
84. Scott Armstrong, "Eye of the Storm", Mother Jones magazine,
November/December 1991, pp. 30-35, 75-6.
85. Los Angeles Times, 1 December 1990, p. 1.
86. Ibid., 7 June 1991, pp. 1, 30.
87. Los Angeles Times, 12 September 1991, p. 1; Washington Post,
13 September 1991, p. 21; this occurred on 24-25 February 1991.
88. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1991, p. 1; 26 September, p. 16;
occurred on 18 January 1991.
89. United Nations General Assembly Resolution: "Establishment of
a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East", 4
December 1990, Item No. 45/52.
90. New York Times, 24 January 1991, p. 11; 31 January, p. 12;
Los Angeles Times, 26 January 1991, p. 6.
91. Clark, pp. 97-8; Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, "Is
Military Research Hazardous to Veterans' Health?  Lessons from
the Persian Gulf", 6 May 1994, pp. 5-6.
92. Peacelink magazine (Hamilton, New Zealand), March 1991, p.
19; Washington Post, 8 February 1991, p. 1.
93. Clark, pp. 98-9.  The UKAEA report was obtained and published
by The Independent newspaper of London.
94. Needless Deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties During
the Air Campaign and Violations of the Laws of War, a report of
Middle East Watch/Human Rights Watch (US and London), November
1991, pp. 95-111, 248-272.
95. Washington Post, 13 February 1991, p. 22, citing Rear Admiral
Mike McConnell, intelligence director for the Joint Chiefs of
96. The Guardian (London), 20 February 1991, p. 1, entitled:
"Bombs rock capital as allies deliver terrible warning".
97. Needless Deaths ... op. cit., pp. 128-47; Clark, pp. 70-72,
for an explanation of the 1,500 number and for a particularly
gruesome description of the carnage and the horror.
98. "The Gulf War and Its Aftermath", The 1992 Information Please
Almanac (Boston 1992), p. 974.
99. Laurie Garrett (medical writer for Newsday), "The Dead",
Columbia Journalism Review (New York), May/June 1991, p. 32.
100. Needless Deaths ... op. cit., p. 135.
101. Los Angeles Times, 18 February 1991, p. 11.
102. Effects of the destruction of the electrical system:
Needless Deaths ... op. cit., pp. 171-93.  Also see Clark, pp.
59-72, for a discussion of the destruction of the infrastructure.
103. Washington Post, 23 June 1991, p. 16; Los Angeles Times, 21
May 1991, p. 1; Needless Deaths ... op. cit., pp. 184-5 (The
Harvard Study Team Report discusses the methodology used to
derive the figure of 170,000.)
104. Julia Devin, Member of the Coordinating Committee for the
International Study Team (87 health and environment researchers
who visited Iraq in August 1991), testimony before the
International Task Force of the House Select Committee on Hunger,
13 November 1991, p. 40.
105. Washington Post, 23 June 1991, pp. 1 and 16.
106. Needless Deaths ... op. cit., pp. 177-80.
107. Washington Post, 23 June 1991, p. 16.
108. Needless Deaths ...  op. cit., pp. 201-24; Clark, pp. 72-4;
Los Angeles Times, 31 January 1991, p. 9; 3 February, p. 8;
apparently these attacks took place mainly during late January
and early February 1991.
109. Road to Basra: Washington Post, 27 February 1991, p. 1; Los
Angeles Times, 27 February 1991, p. 1; Ellen Ray, "The Killing
Deserts", Lies Of Our Times (New York), April 1991, pp. 3-4
(cites The Independent).
110. Stephen Sackur, On the Basra Road (London Review of Books,
1991), pp. 25-6, cited in Draper, op. cit., p. 42.
111. Los Angeles Times, 24 August 1990.
112. Ibid., 21 January 1991.
113. Ibid., 30 September 1994, p. 26.
114. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1991 (Wilmington, Del.
115. Dennis Bernstein, quoted in the Newsletter of the National
Association of Arab Americans (Greater Los Angeles Chapter), July
1991, p. 2.  For an excellent description of the media as
government handmaiden during the war, see Extra! (Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting, New York), May 1991, Special issue on the
Gulf War.
116. Micah L. Sifry & Christopher Cerf, eds., The Gulf War
Reader: History, Documents, Opinions (Times Books, New York,
1991), p. 345, for the main provisions of the agreement arrived
at between the Soviet and Iraqi foreign ministers.
117. Clark, chapters 8 and 9 and appendices, plus elsewhere,
explores all this in detail.
118. Interview with Ignatenko on CBS-TV, aired in Los Angeles
during the evening of 22 February 1991.
119. "The Gulf War and Its Aftermath", The 1992 Information
Please Almanac (Boston 1992), p. 974.
120. Clark, pp. 75-84.
121. Los Angeles Times, 7 September 1994, p. 6.
122. International Herald Tribune, 5 April 1991

53. AFGHANISTAN 1979-1992 

America's Jihad

His followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces
of women who refused to wear the veil. CIA and State Department
officials I have spoken with call him "scary," "vicious," "a fascist,"
"definite dictatorship material".{1}
    This did not prevent the United States government from showering the man with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet- supported government of Afghanistan. His name was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He was the head of the Islamic Party and he hated the United States almost as much as he hated the Russians. His followers screamed "Death to America" along with "Death to the Soviet Union", only the Russians were not showering him with large amounts of aid.{2}
    The United States began supporting Afghan Islamic fundamentalists in 1979 despite the fact that in February of that year some of them had kidnapped the American ambassador in the capital city of Kabul, leading to his death in the rescue attempt. The support continued even after their brother Islamic fundamentalists in next-door Iran seized the US Embassy in Teheran in November and held 55 Americans hostage for over a year. Hekmatyar and his colleagues were, after all, in battle against the Soviet Evil Empire; he was thus an important member of those forces Ronald Reagan called "freedom fighters".

    On 27 April 1978, a coup staged by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) overthrew the government of Mohammad Daoud. Daoud, five years earlier, had overthrown the monarchy and established a republic, although he himself was a member of the royal family. He had been supported by the left in this endeavor, but it turned out that Daoud's royal blood was thicker than his progressive water. When the Daoud regime had a PDP leader killed, arrested the rest of the leadership, and purged hundreds of suspected party sympathizers from government posts, the PDP, aided by its supporters in the army, revolted and took power.
    Afghanistan was a backward nation: a life expectancy of about 40, infant mortality of at least 25 percent, absolutely primitive sanitation, widespread malnutrition, illiteracy of more than 90 percent, very few highways, not one mile of railway, most people living in nomadic tribes or as impoverished farmers in mud villages, identifying more with ethnic groups than with a larger political concept, a life scarcely different from many centuries earlier.
    Reform with a socialist bent was the new government's ambition: land reform (while still retaining private property), controls on prices and profits, and strengthening of the public sector, as well as separation of church and state, eradication of illiteracy, legalization of trade unions, and the emancipation of women in a land almost entirely Muslim.
    Afghanistan's thousand-mile border with the Soviet Union had always produced a special relationship. Even while it was a monarchy, the country had been under the strong influence of its powerful northern neighbor which had long been its largest trading partner, aid donor, and military supplier. But the country had never been gobbled up by the Soviets, a fact that perhaps lends credence to the oft-repeated Soviet claim that their hegemony over Eastern Europe was only to create a buffer between themselves and the frequently-invading West.
     Nevertheless, for decades Washington and the Shah of Iran tried to pressure and bribe Afghanistan in order to roll back Russian influence in the country. During the Daoud regime, Iran, encouraged by the United States, sought to replace the Soviet Union as Kabul's biggest donor with a $2 billion economic aid agreement, and urged Afghanistan to join the Regional Cooperation for Development, which consisted of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. (This organization was attacked by the Soviet Union and its friends in Afghanistan as being a "branch of CENTO" the 1950s regional security pact that was part of the US policy of "containment" of the Soviet Union.) At the same time, Iran's infamous secret police, SAVAK, was busy fingering suspected Communist sympathizers in the Afghan government and military. In September 1975, prodded by Iran which was conditioning its aid on such policies, Daoud dismissed 40 Soviet-trained military officers and moved to reduce future Afghan dependence on officer training in the USSR by initiating training arrangements with India and Egypt. Most important, in Soviet eyes, Daoud gradually broke off his alliance with the PDP, announcing that he would start his own party and ban all other political activity under a projected new constitution.{3}
    Selig Harrison, the Washington Post's South Asia specialist, wrote an article in 1979 entitled "The Shah, Not the Kremlin, Touched off Afghan Coup", concluding:

The Communist takeover in Kabul [April 1978] came about when it did,
and in the way that it did, because the Shah disturbed the tenuous
equilibrium that had existed in Afghanistan between the Soviet
Union and the West for nearly three decades. In Iranian and American
eyes, Teheran's offensive was merely designed to make Kabul more
truly nonaligned, but it went far beyond that. Given the unusually
long frontier with Afghanistan, the Soviet Union would clearly go to
great lengths to prevent Kabul from moving once again toward a
pro-western stance.{4}   

When the Shah was overthrown in January 1979, the United States lost its chief ally and outpost in the Soviet-border region, as well as its military installations and electronic monitoring stations aimed at the Soviet Union. Washington's cold warriors could only eye Afghanistan even more covetously than before.
    After the April revolution, the new government under President Noor Mohammed Taraki declared a commitment to Islam within a secular state, and to non-alignment in foreign affairs. It maintained that the coup had not been foreign inspired, that it was not a "Communist takeover", and that they were not "Communists" but rather nationalists and revolutionaries. (No official or traditional Communist Party had ever existed in Afghanistan.){5} But because of its radical reform program, its class-struggle and anti-imperialist-type rhetoric, its support of all the usual suspects (Cuba, North Korea, etc.), its signing of a friends hip treaty and other cooperative agreements with the Soviet Union, and an increased presence in the country of Soviet civilian and military advisers (though probably less than the US had in Iran at the time), it was labeled "communist" by the world's media and by its domestic opponents.
    Whether or not the new government in Afghanistan should properly have been called communist, whether or not it made any difference what it was called, the lines were now drawn for political, military, and propaganda battle: a jihad (holy war) between fundamentalist Muslims and "godless atheistic communists"; Afghan nationalism vs. a "Soviet-run" government; large landowners, tribal chiefs, businessmen, the extended royal family, and others vs. the government's economic reforms. Said the new prime minister about this elite, who were needed to keep the country running, "every effort will be made to attract them. But we want to re-educate them in such a manner that they should think about the people, and not, as previously, just about themselves -- to have a good house and a nice car while other people die of hunger."{6}
    The Afghan government was trying to drag the country into the 20th century. In May 1979, British political scientist Fred Halliday observed that "probably more has changed in the countryside over the last year than in the two centuries since the state was established." Peasant debts to landlords had been canceled, the system of usury (by which peasants, who were forced to borrow money against future crops, were left in perpetual debt to money-lenders) was abolished, and hundreds of schools and medical clinics were being built in the countryside. Halliday also reported that a substantial land-redistribution program was underway, with many of the 200,000 rural families scheduled to receive land under this reform already having done so. But this last claim must be approached with caution. Revolutionary land reform is always an extremely complex and precarious undertaking even under the best of conditions, and ultra-backward, tradition-bound Afghanistan in the midst of nascent civil war hardly offered the best of conditions for social experiments.{7}
    The reforms also encroached into the sensitive area of Islamic subjugation of women.  A1986 US Army manual on Afghanistan discussing the decrees and the influence of the government concerning women cited the following changes: "provisions of complete freedom of choice of marriage partner, and fixation of the minimum age at marriage at 16 for women"; "abolished forced marriages"; "bring [women] out of seclusion, and initiate social programs"; "extensive literacy programs, especially for women"; "putting girls and boys in the same classroom"; "concerned with changing gender roles and giving women a more active role in politics".{7a}
    The People's Democratic Party saw the Soviet Union as the only realistic source of support for the long-overdue modernization. The illiterate Afghan peasant's ethnic cousins across the border in the Soviet Union were, after all, often university graduates and professionals.
    The argument of the Moujahedeen ("holy warriors") rebels that the "communist" government would curtail their religious freedom was never borne out in practice. A year and a half after the change in government, the conservative British magazine The Economist reported that "no restrictions had been imposed on religious practice".{8} Earlier, the New York Times stated that the religious issue "is being used by some Afghans who actually object more to President Taraki's plans for land reforms and other changes in this feudal society."{9} Many of the Muslim clergy were in fact rich landowners.{10} The rebels, concluded a BBC reporter who spent four months with them, are "fighting to retain their feudal system and stop the Kabul government's left-wing reforms which [are] considered anti-Islamic".{11}
    The two other nations which shared a long border with Afghanistan, and were closely allied to the United States, expressed their fears of the new government. To the west, Iran, still under the Shah, worried about "threats to oil-passage routes in the Persian Gulf". Pakistan, to t he south, spoke of "threats from a hostile and expansionist Afghanistan"{12} A former US ambassador to Afghanistan saw it as part of a "gradually closing pincer movement aimed at Iran and the oil regions of the Middle East."{13} None of these alleged fears turned out to have any substance or evidence to back them up, but to the anti-communist mind this might prove only that the Russians and their Afghan puppets had been stopped in time.
    Two months after the April 1978 coup, an alliance formed by a number of conservative Islamic factions was waging guerrilla war against the government.{14} By spring 1979, fighting was taking place on many fronts, and the State Department was cautioning the Soviet Union that its advisers in Afghanistan should not interfere militarily in the civil strife. One such warning in the summer by State Department spokesman Hodding Carter was another of those Washington monuments to chutzpah: "We expect the principle of nonintervention to be respected by all parties in the area, including the Soviet Union."{15} This while the Soviets were charging the CIA with arming Afghan exiles in Pakistan; and the Afghanistan government was accusing Pakistan and Iran of also aiding the guerrillas and even of crossing the border to take part in the fighting. Pakistan had recently taken its own sharp turn toward strict Muslim orthodoxy, which the Afghan government deplored as "fanatic";{16} while in January, Iran had established a Muslim state after overthrowing the Shah. (As opposed to the Afghan fundamentalist freedom fighters, the Iranian Islamic fundamentalists were regularly described in the West as terrorists, ultra-conservatives, and anti-democratic.)
    A "favorite tactic" of the Afghan freedom fighters was "to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their noses, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another", producing "a slow, very painful death".{17} The Moujahedeen also killed a Canadian tourist and six West Germans, including two children, and a U.S. military attaché was dragged from his car and beaten; all due to the rebels' apparent inability to distinguish Russians from other Europeans.{18}
    In March 1979, Taraki went to Moscow to press the Soviets to send ground troops to help the Afghan army put down the Moujahedeen. He was promised military assistance, but ground troops could not be committed. Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin told the Afghan leader:

The entry of our troops into Afghanistan would outrage the international
community, triggering a string of extremely negative consequences in
many different areas. Our common enemies are just waiting for the moment
when Soviet troops appear in Afghanistan. This will give them the excuse
they need to send armed bands into the country.{19}    In September, the question became completely academic for Noor Mohammed Taraki, for he was ousted (and his death soon announced) in an intra-party struggle and replaced by his own deputy prime minister, Hafizullah Amin. Although Taraki had sometimes been heavy-handed in implementing the reform program, and had created opposition even amongst the intended beneficiaries, he turned out to be a moderate compared to Amin who tried to institute social change by riding roughshod over tradition and tribal and ethnic autonomy.
    The Kremlin was unhappy with Amin. The fact that he had been involved in the overthrow and death of the much-favored Taraki was bad enough. But the Soviets also regarded him as thoroughly unsuitable for the task that was Moscow's sine qua non: preventing an anti-communist Islamic state for arising in Afghanistan. Amin gave reform an exceedingly bad name. The KGB station in Kabul, in pressing for Amin's removal, stated that his usurpation of power would lead to "harsh repressions and, as a reaction, the activation and consolidation of the opposition"{20} Moreover, as we shall see, the Soviets were highly suspicious a bout Amin's ideological convictions.
    Thus it was, that what in March had been unthinkable, in December became a reality. Soviet troops began to arrive in Afghanistan around the 8th of the month -- to what extent at Amin's request or with his approval, and, consequently, whether to call the action an "invasion" or not, has been the subject of much discussion and controversy.
On the 23rd the Washington Post commented "There was no charge [by the State Department] that the Soviets have invaded Afghanistan, since the troops apparently were invited"{21} However, at a meeting with Soviet-bloc ambassadors in October, Amin's foreign minister had openly criticized the Soviet Union for interfering in Afghan affairs. Amin himself insisted that Moscow replace its ambassador.{22} Yet, on 26 December, while the main body of Soviet troops was arriving in Afghanistan, Amin gave "a relaxed interview" to an Arab journalist. "The Soviets," he said, "supply my country with economic and military aid, but at the same time they respect our independence and our sovereignty. They do not interfere in our domestic affairs." He also spoke approvingly of the USSR's willingness to accept his veto on military bases.{23}
    The very next day, a Soviet military force stormed the presidential palace and shot Amin dead.{24}
    He was replaced by Babrak Karmal, who had been vice president and deputy prime minister in the 1978 revolutionary government.
    Moscow denied any part in Amin's death, though they didn't pretend to be sorry about it, as Brezhnev made clear:

The actions of the aggressors against Afghanistan were facilitated
by Amin who, on seizing power, started cruelly repressing broad
sections of Afghan society, party and military cadres, members of
the intelligentsia and of the Moslem clergy, that is, the very
sections on which the April revolution relied. And the people
under the leadership of the People's Democratic Party, headed by
Babrak Karmal, rose against Amin's tyranny and put an end to it.
Now in Washington and some other capitals they are mourning Amin.
This exposes their hypocrisy with particular clarity. Where were
these mourners when Amin was conducting mass repressions, when
he forcibly removed and unlawfully killed Taraki, the founder of
the new Afghan state?{25}
    After Amin's ouster and execution, the public thronged the streets in "a holiday spirit". "If Karmal could have overthrown Amin without the Russians," observed a Western diplomat, "he would have been seen as a hero of the people."{26} The Soviet government and press repeatedly referred to Amin as a "CIA agent", a charge which was greeted with great skepticism in the United States and elsewhere.{27} However, enough circumstantial evidence supporting the charge exists so that it perhaps should not be dismissed entirely out of hand.
    During the late 1950s and early 60s, Ami n had attended Columbia University Teachers College and the University of Wisconsin.{28} This was a heyday period for the CIA -- using impressive bribes and threats -- to regularly try to recruit foreign students in the United States to act as agents for them when they returned home. During this period, at least one president of the Afghanistan Students Association (ASA), Zia H. Noorzay, was working with the CIA in the United States and later became president of the Afghanistan state treasury. One of the Afghan students whom Noorzay and the CIA tried in vain to recruit, Abdul Latif Hotaki, declared in 1967 that a good number of the key officials in the Afghanistan government who studied in the United States "are either CIA trained or indoctrinated. Some are cabinet level people."{29} It has been reported that in 1963 Amin became head of the ASA, but this has not been corroborated.{30} However, it is known that the ASA received part of its funding from the Asia Foundation, the CIA's principal front in Asia for many years, and that at one time Amin was associated with this organization.{31}
    In September 1979, the month that Amin took power, the American chargé d'affaires in Kabul, Bruce Amstutz, began to hold friendly meetings with him to reassure him that he need not worry about his unhappy Soviet allies as long as the US maintained a strong presence in Afghanistan. The strategy may have worked, for later in the month, Amin made a special appeal to Amstutz for improved relations with the United States. Two days later in New York, the Afghan Foreign Minister quietly expressed the same sentiments to State Department officials. And at the end of October, the US Embassy in Kabul reported that Amin was "painfully aware of the exiled leadership the Soviets [were] keeping on the shelf" (a reference to Karmal who was living in Czechoslovakia).{32} Under normal circumstances, the Amin-US meetings might be regarded as routine and innocent diplomatic contact, but these were hardly normal circumstances -- the Afghan government was engaged in a civil war, and the United States was supporting the other side.
    Moreover, it can be said that Amin, by his ruthlessness, was doing just what an American agent would be expected to do: discrediting the People's Democratic Party, the party's reforms, the idea of socialism or communism, and the Soviet Union, all associated in one package. Amin also conducted purges in the army officer corps which seriously undermined the army's combat capabilities.
But why would Amin, if he were actually plotting with the Americans, request Soviet military forces on several occasions? The main reason appears to be that he was being pressed to do so by high levels of the PDP and he had to comply for the sake of appearances. Babrak Karmal has suggested other, more Machiavellian, scenarios.{33}
    The Carter administration jumped on the issue of the Soviet "invasion" and soon launched a campaign of righteous indignation, imposing what President Carter called "penalties" -- from halting the delivery of grain to the Soviet Union to keeping the US team out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
    The Russians countered that the US was enraged by the intervention because Washington had been plotting to turn the country into an American base to replace the loss of Iran.{34}
    Unsurprisingly, on this seemingly clear-cut anti-communist issue, the American public and media easily fell in line with the president. The Wall Street Journal called for a "military" reaction, the establishment of US bases in the Middle East, "reinstatement of draft registration", development of a new missile, and giving the CIA more leeway, adding: "Clearly we ought to keep open the chance of covert aid to Afghan rebels."{35} The last, whether the newspaper knew it or not, had actually been going on for some time.
     For some period prior to the Soviet invasion, the CIA had been beaming radio propaganda into Afghanistan and cultivating alliances with exiled Afghan guerrilla leaders by donating medicine and communications equipment.{36}
     US foreign service officers had been meeting with Moujahedeen leaders to determine their needs at least as early as April 1979.{37}
     And in July, President Carter had signed a "finding" to aid the rebels covertly, which led to the United States providing them with cash, weapons, equipment and supplies, and engaging in propaganda and other psychological operations in Afghanistan on their behalf. {38}
     Intervention in the Afghan civil war by the United States, Iran, Pakistan, China and others gave the Russians grave concern about who was going to wield power next door. They consistently cited these "aggressive imperialist forces" to rationalize their own intervention into Afghanistan, which was the first time Soviet ground troops had engaged in military action anywhere in the world outside its post-World War II Eastern European borders. The potential establishment of an anti-communist Islamic state on the borders of the Soviet Union's own republics in Soviet Central Asia that were home to some 40 million Muslims could not be regarded with equanimity by the Kremlin any more than Washington could be unruffled about a communist takeover in Mexico.
    As we have seen repeatedly, the United States did not limit its defense perimeter to its immediate neighbors, or even to Western Europe, but to the entire globe. President Carter declared that the Persian Gulf area was "now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan", that this area was synonymous with US interests, and that the United States would "defend" it against any threat by all means necessary. He called the Soviet action "the greatest threat to peace since the Second World War", a statement that required overlooking a great deal of post-war history. But 1980 was an election year.
      Brezhnev, on the other hand, declared that "the national interests or security of the United States of America and other states are in no way affected by the events in Afghanistan. All attempts to portray matters otherwise are sheer nonsense."{39}
    The Carter administration was equally dismissive of Soviet concerns. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski later stated that "the issue was not what might have been Brezhnev's subjective motives in going into Afghanistan but the objective consequences of a Soviet military presence so much closer to the Persian Gulf."{40}
    The stage was now set for 12 long years of the most horrific kind of warfare, a daily atrocity for the vast majority of the Afghan people who never asked for or wanted this war. But the Soviet Union was determined that its borders must be unthreatening. The Afghan government was committed to its goal of a secular, reformed Afghanistan. And the United States was intent upon making this the Soviets' Vietnam, slowly bleeding as the Americans had.
    At the same time, American policymakers could not fail to understand -- though they dared not say it publicly and explicitly -- that support of the Moujahedeen (many of whom carried pictures of the Ayatollah Khomeini with them) could lead to a fundamentalist Islamic state being established in Afghanistan every bit as repressive as in next-door Iran, which in the 1980s was Public Enemy Number One in America. Neither could the word "terrorist" cross the lips of Washington officials in speaking of their new allies/clients, though these same people shot down civilian airliners and planted bombs at the airport. In 1986, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose emotional invectives against "terrorists" were second to none, welcomed Abdul Haq, an Afghan rebel leader who admitted that he had ordered the planting of a bomb at Kabul airport in 1984 which killed at least 28 people. Such, then, were the scruples of cold-war anti-communists in late 20th century. As Anastasio Somoza had been "our son of a bitch", the Moujahedeen were now "our fanatic terrorists".
    At the beginning there had been some thought given to the morality of the policy. "The question here," a senior official in the Carter administration said, "was whether it was morally acceptable that, in order to keep the Soviets off balance, which was the reason for the operation, it was permissible to use other lives for our geopolitical interests."{42}
    But such sentiments could not survive. Afghanistan was a cold-warrior's dream: The CIA and the Pentagon, finally, had one of their proxy armies in direct confrontation with the forces of the Evil Empire. There was no price too high to pay for this Super Nintendo game, neither the hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives, nor the destruction of Afghan society, nor three billion (sic) dollars of American taxpayer money poured into a bottomless hole, much of it going only to make a few Afghans and Pakistanis rich. Congress was equally enthused -- without even the moral uncertainty that made them cautious about arming the Nicaraguan contras -- and became a veritable bipartisan horn of plenty as it allocated more and more money for the effort each year. Rep. Charles Wilson of Texas expressed a not-atypical sentiment of official Washington when he declared:

There were 58,000 dead in Vietnam and we owe the Russians one ...
I have a slight obsession with it, because of Vietnam. I thought
the Soviets ought to get a dose of it ... I've been of the opinion
that this money was better spent to hurt our adversaries than other
money in the Defense Department budget.{43}   

The CIA became the grand coordinator: purchasing or arranging the manufacture of Soviet-style weapons from Egypt, China, Poland, Israel and elsewhere, or supplying their own; arranging for military training by Americans, Egyptians, Chinese and Iranians; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, totaling probably more than a billion; pressuring and bribing Pakistan -- with whom recent American relations had been very poor -- to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary; putting the Pakistani Director of Military Operations, Brigadier Mian Mohammad Afzal, onto the CIA payroll to ensure Pakistani cooperation.{44} Military and economic aid which had been cut off would be restored, Pakistan was told by the United States, if they would join the great crusade. Only a month before the Soviet intervention, anti-American mobs had burned and ransacked the US embassy in Islamabad and American cultural centers in two other Pakistani cities.{45}
    The American ambassador in Libya reported that Muammar Qaddafi was sending the rebels $250,000 as well, but this, presumably, w as not at the request of the CIA.{46}
Washington left it to the Pakistanis to decide which of the various Afghan guerrilla groups should be the beneficiaries of much of this largesse. As one observer put it: "According to conventional wisdom at the time, the United States would not repeat the mistake of Vietnam -- micro-managing a war in a culture it did not understand."{47}
    Not everyone in Pakistan was bought out. The independent Islamabad daily newspaper, The Muslim, more than once accused the United States of being ready to "fight to the last Afghan" ... "We are not flattered to be termed a `frontline state' by Washington." ... "Washington does not seem to be in any mood to seek an early settlement of a war whose benefits it is reaping at no cost of American manpower."{48}
    It's not actually clear whether there was any loss of American lives in the war. On several occasions in the late '80s, the Kabul government announced that Americans had been killed in the fighting,{49} and in 1985 a London newspaper reported that some two dozen American Black Muslims were in Afghanistan, fighting alongside the Moujahedeen in a jihad that a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran says all believers in Islam must do at least once in their lives.{50} Several of the Black Muslims returned to the United States after being wounded.

   Soviet aggression ... Soviet invasion ... Soviet swallowing up another innocent state as part of their plan to conquer the world, or at least the Middle East ... this was the predominant and lasting lesson taught by Washington official pronouncements and the mainstream US media about the war, and the sum total of knowledge for the average American, although Afghanistan had retained its independence during 60 years of living in peace next door to the Soviet Union. Zbigniew Brzezinski, albeit unrelentingly anti-Soviet, repeatedly speaks of the fact of Afghanistan's "neutrality" in his memoirs.{51} The country had been neutral even during the Second World War.
    One would have to look long and hard at the information and rhetoric offered to the American public following the Soviet intervention to derive even a hint that the civil war was essentially a struggle over deep-seated social reform; while an actual discussion of the issue was virtually non-existent. Prior to the intervention, one could get a taste of this, such as the following from the New York Times:

Land reform attempts undermined their village chiefs. Portraits of
Lenin threatened their religious leaders. But it was the Kabul
revolutionary Government's granting of new rights to women that
pushed orthodox Moslem men in the Pashtoon villages of eastern
Afghanistan into picking up their guns. ... "The government said our
women had to attend meetings and our children had to go to schools.
This threatens our religion. We had to fight" ... "The government
imposed various ordinances allowing women freedom to marry anyone
they chose without their parents' consent."{52}   

Throughout the 1980s, the Karmal, and then the Najibullah regimes, despite the exigencies of the war, pursued a program of modernization and broadening of their base: bringing electricity to villages, along with health clinics, a measure of land reform, and literacy; releasing numerous prisoners unlawfully incarcerated by Amin; bringing mullahs and other non-party people into the government; trying to carry it all out with moderation and sensitivity instead of confronting the traditional structures head on; reiterating its commitment to Islam, rebuilding and constructing mosques, exempting land owned by religious dignitaries and their institutions from land reform; trying, in short, to avoid the gross mistakes of the Amin government with its rush to force changes down people's throats.{53} Selig Harrison, writing in 1988, stated:

The Afghan Communists see themselves as nationalists and modernizers ...
They rationalize their collaboration with the Russians as the only way
available to consolidate their revolution in the face of foreign
"interference". ... the commitment of the Communists to rapid
modernization enables them to win a grudging tolerance from many
members of the modern-minded middle class, who feel trapped between
two fires: the Russians and fanatic Muslims opposed to social reforms.{54}
    The program of the Kabul government eventually encouraged many volunteers to take up arms in its name. But it was a decidedly uphill fight, for it was relatively easy for the native anti-reformists and their foreign backers to convince large numbers of ordinary peasants that the government had ill intentions by blurring the distinction between the present government and its detested and dogmatic predecessor, particularly since the government was fond of stressing the continuity of the April 1978 revolution.{55} One thing the peasants, as well as the anti-reformists, were undoubtedly not told of was the US connection to the selfsame detested predecessor, Hafizullah Amin.
    Another problem faced by the Kabul government in winning the hearts and minds of the people was of course the continuing Soviet armed presence, although it must be remembered that Islamic opposition to the leftist government began well before the Soviet forces arrived; indeed, the most militant of the Moujahedeen leaders, Hekmatyar, had led a serious uprising against the previous (non-leftist) government as well, in 1975, declaring that a "godless, communist-dominated regime" ruled in Kabul.{56}
    As long as Soviet troops remained, the conflict in Afghanistan could be presented to the American mind as little more than a battle between Russian invaders and Afghanistan resistance/freedom fighters; as if the Afghanistan army and government didn't exist, or certainly not with a large following of people who favored reforms and didn't want to live under a fundamentalist Islamic government, probably a majority of the population.
    "Maybe the people really don't like us, either," said Mohammed Hakim, Mayor of Kabul, a general in the Afghan army who was trained in the 1970s at military bases in the United States, and who thought that America was "the best country", "but they like us better than the extremists. This is what the Western countries do not understand. We only hope that Mr. Bush and the people of the United States take a good look at us. They think we are very fanatic Communists, that we are not human beings. We are not fanatics. We are not even Communists."{57}
    They were in the American media. Any official of the Afghan government, or the government as a whole, was typically referred to, a priori, as "Communist", or "Marxist", or "pro-Communist", or "pro-Marxist", etc., without explanation or definition. Najibullah, who took over when Karmal stepped down in 1986, was confirmed in his position in 1987 under a new Islamized constitution that was stripped of all socialist rhetoric and brimming with references to Islam and the holy Koran. "This is not a socialist revolutionary country," he said in his acceptance speech. "We do not want to build a Communist society."{58}
    Could the United States see beyond cold war ideology and consider the needs of the Afghan people? In August 1979, three months before the Soviet intervention, a classified State Department Report stated:

the United States's larger interests ... would be served by the
demise of the Taraki-Amin regime, despite whatever setbacks this
might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.
... the overthrow of the D.R.A. [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan]
would show the rest of the world, particularly the Third World, that
the Soviets' view of the socialist course of history as being
inevitable is not accurate.{59}
    Repeatedly, in the 1980s, as earlier, the Soviet Union contended that no solution to the conflict could be found until the United States and other nations ceased their support of the Moujahedeen. The United States, in turn, insisted that the Soviets must first withdraw their troops from Afghanistan.
    Finally, after several years of UN-supported negotiations, an accord was signed in Geneva on 14 April 1988, under which the Kremlin committed itself to begin pulling out its estimated 115,000 troops on 15 May, and to complete the process by 15 February of the next year. Afghanistan, said Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, had become "a bleeding wound".
    In February, after the last Soviet forces had left Afghanistan, Gorbachev urged the United States to support an embargo on arms shipments into Afghanistan and a cease-fire between the two warring sides. Both proposals were turned down by the new Bush administration, which claimed that the Afghan government had been left with a massive stockpile of military equipment. It is unclear why Washington felt that the rebels who had fought the government to a standstill despite the powerful presence of the Soviet armed forces with all their equipment, would now be at a dangerous disadvantage with the Russians gone. The key to the American response may lie in the State Department statement of the prior week that the United States believed that the Kabul government on its own would not last more than six months.{60}
     By raising the question of an arms gap (whether it was for real or not), Washington was assuring the continuation of the arms race in Afghanistan -- a microcosm of the cold war. At the same time, the Bush administration called upon the Soviets to support "an independent, nonaligned Afghanistan", although this was precisely what the United States had worked for decades to thwart.
    Two days later, President Najibullah criticized the American rejection of Gorbachev's proposal, offering to return the Soviet weapons if the rebels agreed to lay down their weapons and negotiate. There was no reported response to this offer from the US, or from the rebels, who in the past had refused such offers.
    It would appear that Washington was thinking longer term than cease-fires and negotiations. On the same day as Najibullah's offer, the United States announced that it had delivered 500,000 made-in-America textbooks to Afghanistan which were being used to teach Grades one through four. The books, which "critics say bordered on propaganda", told of the rebels' fight against the Soviet Union and contained drawings of guerrillas killing Russian soldiers.{61} Since the beginning of the war, the Moujahedeen had reserved its worst treatment for Russians. Washington possessed confirmed reports that the rebels had drugged and tortured 50 to 200 Soviet prisoners and imprisoned them like animals in cages, "living lives of indescribable horror".{62} Another account, by a reporter from the conservative Far Eastern Economic Review, relates that:

One [Soviet] group was killed, skinned and hung up in a butcher's
shop. One captive found himself the centre of attraction in a game of
buzkashi, that rough and tumble form of Afghan polo in which a
headless goat is usually the ball. The captive was used instead.
Alive. He was literally torn to pieces.{63}
    Meanwhile, much to the surprise of the United States and everyone else, the Kabul government showed no sign of collapsing. The good news for Washington was that since the Soviet troops were gone (though some military advisers remained), the "cost-benefit ratio" had improved,{64} the cost being measured entirely in non-American deaths and suffering, as the rebels regularly exploded car bombs and sent rockets smashing into residential areas of Kabul, and destroyed government-built schools and clinics and murdered literacy teachers (just as the US-backed Nicaraguan contras had been doing on the other side of the world, and for the same reason: these were symbols of governmental benevolence).
    The death and destruction caused by the Soviets and their Afghan allies was also extensive, such as the many bombings of villages. But individual atrocity stories must be approached with caution, for, as we have seen repeatedly, the propensity and the ability of the CIA to disseminate anti-communist disinformation -- often of the most far-fetched variety -- was virtually unlimited. With the Soviet Union the direct adversary, the creativity lamp must have burning all night at Langley.
    Amnesty International, with its usual careful collection methods, reported in the mid-'80s on the frequent use of torture and arbitrary detention by the authorities in Kabul.{65} But what are we to make, for example, of the report, without attribution, by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson -- who had ties to the American Afghan lobby -- that Soviet troops often marched into unfriendly villages in Afghanistan and "massacred every man, woman and child"?{66} Or the New York Times recounting a story told them by an Afghan citizen of how Afghan soldiers had intentionally blinded five children with pieces of metal and then strangled them, as a government supporter he was with just laughed. To the newspaper's credit, it added that "There is no way of confirming this story. It is possible that the man who told it was acting and trying to discredit the regime here. His eyes, however, looked like they had seen horror."{67} Or a US congressman's charge in 1985 that the Soviets had used booby-trapped toys to maim Afghan children,{68} the identical story told before about leftists elsewhere in the world during the cold war, and repeated again in 1987 by CBS News, with pictures. The New York Post later reported the claim of a BBC producer that the bomb-toy had been created for the CBS cameraman.{69}
    Then there was the Afghan Mercy Fund, ostensibly a relief agency, but primarily in the propaganda business, which reported that the Soviets had burned a baby alive, that they were disguising mines as candy bars and leaving other mines disguised as butterflies to also attract children. The butterfly mines, it turned out, were copies of a US-designed mine used in the Vietnam war.{70}
    There was also the shooting down of a Pakistan fighter plane over Afghanistan in May 1987 that was reported by Pakistan and Washington -- knowing with certainty that their claim was untrue -- to be the result of a Soviet-made missile. It turned out that the plane had been shot down by a companion Pakistani plane in error.{71}
    Throughout the early and mid-'80s, the Reagan administration declared that the Russians were spraying toxic chemicals over Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan -- the so-called "yellow rain" -- and had caused more than ten thousand deaths by 1982 alone, (including, in Afghanistan, 3,042 deaths attributed to 47 separate incidents between the summer of 1979 and the summer of 1981, so precise was the information). Secretary of State Alexander Haig was a prime dispenser of such stories, and President Reagan himself denounced the Soviet Union thusly more than 15 times in documents and speeches.{72} The "yellow rain", it turned out, was pollen-laden feces dropped by huge swarms of honeybees flying far overhead. Then, in 1987, it was disclosed that the Reagan administration had made its accusations even though government scientists at the time had been unable to confirm any of them, and considered the evidence to be flimsy and misleading.{73} Even more suspicious: the major scientific studies that later examined Washington's claims spoke only of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand; no mention at all was made of Afghanistan. It was as if the administration -- perhaps honestly mistaken at first about Indochina -- had added Afghanistan to the list with full knowledge of the falsity of its allegation.
    Such disinformation campaigns are often designed to serve a domestic political need. Consider Senator Robert Dole's contribution to the discussion when he spoke in 1980 on the floor of Congress of "convincing evidence" he had been provided "that the Soviets had developed a chemical capability that extends far beyond our greatest fears ... [a gas that] is unaffected by ... our gas masks and leaves our military defenseless." He then added: "To even suggest a leveling off of defense spending for our nation by the Carter administration at such a critical time in our history is unfathomable."{74} And in March 1982, when the Reagan administration made its claim about the 3,042 Afghan deaths, the New York Times noted that: "President Reagan has just decided that the United States will resume production of chemical weapons and has asked for a substantial increase in the military budget for such weapons."{75}
    The money needed to extend American propaganda campaigns internationally flowed from the congressional horn of plenty as smoothly as for military desires -- $500,000 in one moment's flow to train Afghan journalists to use television, radio and newspapers to advance their cause.{76}
    It should be noted that in June 1980, before any of the "yellow rain" charges had been made against the Soviet Union, the Kabul government had accused the rebels and their foreign backers of employing poison gas, citing an incident in which 500 pupils and teachers at several secondary schools had been poisoned with noxious gases; none were reported to have died.{77}

    One reason victory continued to elude the Moujahedeen was that they were terribly split by centuries-old ethnic and tribal divisions, as well as the relatively recent rise of Islamic fundamentalism in conflict with more traditional, but still orthodox, Islam. The differences often led to violence. In one incident, in 1989, seven top Moujahedeen commanders and more than 20 other rebels were murdered by a rival guerrilla group. This was neither the first nor the last of such occurrences.{78} By April 1990, 14 months after the Soviet withdrawal, the Los Angeles Times described the state of the rebels thusly:

they have in recent weeks killed more of their own than the enemy. ...
Rival resistance commanders have been gunned down gangland-style here
in the border town of Peshawar [Pakistan], the staging area for the
war. There are persistent reports of large- scale political killings
in the refugee camps ... A recent execution ... had as much to do
with drugs as with politics. ... Other commanders, in Afghanistan and
in the border camps, are simply refusing to fight. They say privately
that they prefer [Afghan President] Najibullah to the hard-line
Moujahedeen fundamentalists led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.{79}
    The rebel cause was also corrupted by the huge amounts of arms flooding in. Investigative reporter Tim Weiner reported the following:

The CIA's pipeline leaked. It leaked badly. It spilled huge quantities
of weapons all over one of the world's most anarchic areas. First the
Pakistani armed forces took what they wanted from the weapons shipments.
Then corrupt Afghan guerrilla leaders stole and sold hundreds of millions
of dollars' worth of anti-aircraft guns, missiles, rocket-propelled
grenades, AK-47 automatic rifles, ammunition and mines from the CIA's
arsenal. Some of the weapons fell into the hands of criminal gangs,
heroin kingpins and the most radical faction of the Iranian military. ...
While their troops eked out hard lives in Afghanistan's mountains and
deserts, the guerrillas' political leaders maintained fine villas in
Peshawar and fleets of vehicles at their command. The CIA kept silent as
the Afghan politicos converted the Agency's weapons into cash.{80}
    Amongst the weapons the Moujahedeen sold to the Iranians were highly sophisticated Stinger heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, with which the rebels had shot down many hundreds of Soviet military aircraft, as well as at least eight passenger planes. On 8 October 1987, Revolutionary Guards on an Iranian gunboat fired one of the Stingers at American helicopters patrolling the Persian Gulf, but missed their target.{81}
    Earlier the same year, the CIA told Congress that at least 20 percent of its military aid to the Moujahedeen had been skimmed off by the rebels and Pakistani officials. Columnist Jack Anderson stated at the same time that his conservative estimate was that the diversion was around 60 percent, while one rebel leader told Anderson's assistant on his visit to the border that he doubted that even 25 percent of the arms got through. By other accounts, as little as 20 percent was making it the intended recipients. If indeed there was a deficiency of arms available to the Moujahedeen compared to the government forces, as George Bush implied, this was clearly a major reason for it. Yet the CIA and other administration officials simply looked upon it as part of doing business in that part of the world.{82}
    Like many other CIA clients, the rebels were financed as well through drug trafficking, and the Agency was apparently as little concerned about it as ever as long as it kept their boys happy Moujahedeen commanders inside Afghanistan personally controlled huge fields of opium poppies, the raw material from which heroin is refined. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport some of the opium to the numerous laboratories along the Afghan-Pakistan border, whence many tons of heroin were processed with the cooperation of the Pakistani military. The output provided an estimated one-third to one-half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. US officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against t he drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies.{83} In 1993, an official of the US Drug Enforcement Administration called Afghanistan the new Colombia of the drug world.{84}

The war, with all its torment, continued until the spring of 1992, three years after the last Soviet troops had gone. An agreement on ending the arms supply, which had been reached between the United States and the Soviet Union, was now in effect. The two superpowers had abandoned the war. The Soviet Union no longer existed. And the Afghan people could count more than a million dead, three million disabled, and five million made refugees, in total about half the population.
    At the same time, a UN-brokered truce was to transfer power to a transitional coalition government pending elections. But this was not to be. The Kabul government, amidst food riots and army revolts, virtually disintegrated, and the guerrillas stormed into t he capital and established the first Islamic regime in Afghanistan since it had become a separate and independent country in the mid-18th century.
    A key event in the downfall of the government was the eleventh-hour defection to the guerrillas of General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum, who previously had been referred to in the US media as a "Communist general", now metamorphosed into an "ex-Communist general"
    The Moujahedeen had won. Now they turned against each other with all their fury. Rockets and artillery shells wiped out entire neighborhoods in Kabul. By August at least 1,500 people had been killed or wounded, mostly civilians. (By 1994, the body count in this second civil war would reach 10,000.) Of all the rebel leaders, none was less compromising or more insistent upon a military solution than Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
    Robert Neumann, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, observed at this time:

Hekmatyar is a nut, an extremist and a very violent man. He was built
up by the Pakistanis. Unfortunately, our government went along with
the Pakistanis. We were supplying the money and the weapons but they
[Pakistani officials] were making the policy.
    Washington was now very concerned that Hekmatyar would take power. Ironically, they were afraid that if he did, his brand of extremism would spread to and destabilize the former Soviet republics of large Moslem populations, the same fear which had been one of the motivations behind the Soviets intervening in the civil war in the first place.{85} It was to the forces of Hekmatyar that the "Communist general" Dostum eventually aligned himself.
    Suleiman Layeq, a leftist and a poet, and the fallen regime's "ideologue", watched from his window as the Moujahedeen swarmed through the city, claiming building after building. "Without exception," he said of them, "they follow the way of the fundamentalist aims and goals of Islam. And it is not Islam. It is a kind of theory against civilization -- against modern civilization."{86}
    Even before taking power, the Moujahedeen had banned all non-Muslim groups. Now more of the new law was laid down: All alcohol was banned in the Islamic republic; women could not venture out in the streets without veils, and violations would be punished by floggings, amputations and public executions. And this from the more "moderate" Islamics, not Hekmatyar. By September, the first public hangings were carried out. Before a cheering crowd of 10,000 people, three men were hung. They had been tried behind closed doors, and no one would say what crimes they had committed.{87}
    In February 1993, a group of Middle Easterners blew up the World Trade Center in New York City. Most of them were veterans of the Moujahedeen. Other veterans were carrying out assassinations in Cairo, bombings in Bombay, and bloody uprisings in the mountains of Kashmir.
    This, then, was the power and the glory of President Reagan's "freedom fighters", who had become yet more anti-American in recent years, many of them backing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf conflict of 1990-91. Surely even Ronald Reagan and George Bush would have preferred the company of "communist" reformers like President Noor Mohammed Taraki, Mayor Mohammed Hakim or poet Suleiman Layeq.
    But the Soviet Union had bled. They had bled profusely. For the United States it had also been a holy war.


1. Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon's Black Budget (Warner Books, New York, 1990), p. 149.

2. Ibid., pp. 149-50.

3. a) Selig Harrison, "The Shah, Not the Kremlin, Touched off Afghan Coup", Washington Post, 13 May 1979, p. C1; contains other examples of the Shah/US campaign.
b) Hannah Negaran, "Afghanistan: A Marxist Regime in a Muslim Society", Current History (Philadelphia), April 1979, p. 173.
c) New York Times, 3 February 1975, p. 4.
d) For a brief summary, from the Soviet point of view, of the West's attempts to lure Afghanistan into its fold during the 1950s and 60s, see The Truth About Afghanistan: Documents, Facts, Eyewitness Reports (Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1981, second edition) pp. 60-65.
e) Dwight D. Eisenhower, The White House Years: Waging Peace, 1956-1961 (New York, 1965) pp. 493, 495, 498 discusses his concern about Soviet influence in Afghanistan.

4. Selig Harrison, op. cit.

5. New York Times, 4 May 1978, p. 11; Louis Dupree, "A Communist Label is Unjustified", letter to New York Times, 20 May 1978, p. 18. Dupree had been an anthropologist who lived in Afghanistan for many years; he was also at one time a consultant to the U.S. National Security Council, and an activist, both in Pakistan and in the United States, against the leftist Afghan government, which declared him persona non grata in 1978.

6. New York Times Magazine, 4 June 1978, p. 52 (prime minister's quote).

7. New York Times, 18 May 1979, p. 29, article by Fred Halliday, a Fellow at the liberal Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, and author of several books on South Asia.
7a. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (Washington, DC, 1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232.

8. The Economist (London), 11 September 1979, p. 44.

9. New York Times, 13 April 1979, p. 8.

10. Newsweek, 16 April 1979, p. 64.

11. CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, 31 December 1979, p. S-13, cited in CounterSpy magazine (Washington, DC), No. 4-2, Spring 1980, p. 36, article by Konrad Ege.

12. New York Times, 16 June 1978, p. 11

13. Robert Neumann, in Washington Review of Strategic and International Studies, July 1978, p. 117.

14. New York Times, 1 July 1978, p. 4.

15 San Francisco Chronicle, 4 August 1979, p. 9.

16. New York Times, 24 March 1979, p. 4; 13 April 1979, p. 8.

17. Washington Post, 11 May 1979, p. 23. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that Islamic rebels killed Soviet male and female civilians and mutilated their bodies, New York Times, 13 April 1979, p. 8.

18. New York Times, 11 September 1979, p. 12.

19. Washington Post, 15 November 1992, p. 32, from the official minutes of the conversation, amongst declassified Politburo documents obtained by the newspaper.

20. Ibid., citing an article published in 1992 by the former KGB deputy station chief in Kabul.

21. Ibid., 23 December 1979, p. A8.

22. Selig Harrison, "Did Moscow Fear An Afghan Tito?", New York Times, 13 January 1980, p. E23.

23. The Sunday Times (London), 6 January 1980, reporting the interview with Amin by the newspaper Al Sharq Al Awast ("The Middle East") published in London and Mecca.

24. Washington Post, 15 November 1992, p. 32, citing a "recent" account in the Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

25. The Truth About Afghanistan, op. cit., p. 15, taken from Pravda, 13 January 1980.

26. The Times (London), 5 January 1980.

27. New York Times, 15 January 1980, p. 6. The newspaper stated that the CIA-accusations appeared to have been dropped by the Soviets at this time, perhaps because they were embarrassed by the incredulous reaction to it from around the world. But it was soon picked up again, conceivably in reaction to the Times' story.

28. Phillip Bonosky, Washington's Secret War Against Afghanistan (International Publishers, New York, 1985), pp. 33-4. The Washington Post, 23 December 1979, p. A8, also mentions Amin being a student at Columbia teachers college.

29. "How the CIA turns foreign students into traitors", Ramparts magazine (San Francisco), April 1967, pp. 23-4. This was a month after the magazine printed its famous exposé of the extensive CIA connection to the National Student Association, the leading organization of American students.

30. Bonosky, p. 34. When I spoke to Mr. Bonosky in 1994 about this claim, he said that he couldn't remember its source, but that it may have been something he was informed of in Afghanistan when he was there in 1981.

31. Charles G. Cogan, "Partners in Time: The CIA and Afghanistan since 1979", World Policy Journal (New York), Summer 1993, p. 76. Cogan was chief of the Near East and South Asia Division of the CIA's Directorate of Operations (Clandestine Services) from 1979 to 1984. He refers to Amin's connection to the Asia Foundation as "some sort of loose association", and says nothing further about it, but given his past position, Cogan may well know more than he's willing to reveal about a key point of the Afghanistan question, or else the article was censored by the CIA when Cogan submitted it for review, which he would have had to do.

32. Classified State Department cables, 11, 22, 23, 27, 29 September 1979, 28, 30 October 1979, among the documents found in the takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran on 4 November 1979 and gradually published in many volumes over the following years under the title: Documents from the Den of Espionage; hereafter referred to as "Embassy Documents". The cables referred to in this note come from vol. 30. These embassy documents and those which follow are cited in Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 30, Summer 1988, article by Steve Galster, pp. 52-4. Except where quotations are used, the language summarizing the documents' content is that of Galster. Amin's party knew of these covert activities long before the documents were published. On 16 January 1980, a PDP spokesperson told the Afghan News Agency (Bakhtar): "In September 1979, Amin began preparing the ground for a rapprochement with the United States. He conducted confidential meetings with U.S. officials, sent emissaries to the United States, conveyed his personal oral messages to President Carter." (cited in Bonosky, p. 52)

33. Interview with Karmal in World Marxist Review (Toronto), April 1980, p. 36.

34. New York Times, 2 January 1980, p. 1.

35. Wall Street Journal, 7 January 1980, p. 12.

36. Weiner, p.145

37. Amongst the "Embassy Documents", op. cit., vol. 29, p. 99: Classified Department of State cable, 14 May 1979, refers to a previous meeting with a rebel leader in Islamabad on 23 April 1979.

38. Robert Gates (former CIA director), From the Shadows (NY, 1996) p.146

39. Truth About Afghanistan, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

40. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981 (New York, 1983) p. 430.

41. The Guardian (London), 5 March 1986.

42. Washington Post, 13 January 1985, p. A30. The unnamed official may have been CIA Director Stansfield Turner who is quoted as saying something very similar in Weiner pp. 146-7.

43. Ibid.

44. Amongst the "Embassy Documents", op. cit.: Classified CIA Field Report, 30 October 1979, vol. 30.

45. New York Times, 22 November 1979, p. 1.

46. Weiner, p. 146

47. John Balbach, former staff director of the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan, article in the Los Angeles Times, 22 August 1993.

48. Cited in The Guardian (London), 28 December 1983 and 16 January 1987, p. 19.

49. Los Angeles Times, 17 October 1988, 13 March 1989, 16 March 1989.

50. The Daily Telegraph (London), 5 August 1985.

51. Brzezinski, p. 356, mentioned three times on this one page alone.

52. New York Times, 9 February 1980, p. 3; though written after the Soviet invasion, the article refers to April 1979.

53. For a discussion of some of these and related matters, see Selig Harrison, "Afghanistan: Soviet Intervention, Afghan Resistance, and the American Role" in Michael Klare and Peter Kornbluh, eds., Low Intensity Warfare: Counterinsurgency, Proinsurgency, and Antiterrorism in the Eighties (Pantheon Books, New York, 1988) pp. 188-190.

54. Ibid., p. 188; the portion about the middle class was attributed by Harrison to an article by German journalist Andreas Kohlschutter of Die Zeit.
55. For a fuller discussion of these matters see the three articles in The Guardian of London by their chief foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele, 17-19 March 1986.

56. Lawrence Lifschultz, "The not-so-new rebellion", Far Eastern Economic Review (Hong Kong), 30 January 1981, p. 32.

57. Los Angeles Times, 22 April 1989, pp. 12-13.

58. Ibid., 1 December 1987, p. 8.

59. Amongst the "Embassy Documents", op. cit., vol. 30 -- Department of State Report, 16 August 1979.

60. Los Angeles Times, 17 February 1989, p. 8.

61. Najibullah, textbooks: Ibid., 18 February 1989, p. 18.

62. Washington Post, 13 January 1985, p. A30. The article speaks of 70 Russian prisoners "living lives of indescribable horror"; it appears, although it's not certain, that they are included in the 50 to 200 figure given earlier in the article.

63. John Fullerton, The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan (London, 1984).

64. Los Angeles Times, 28 July 1989.

65. Amnesty International, Torture in the Eighties (London, 1984), Afghanistan chapter.

66. Jack Anderson column, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 May 1987. For his, and many other persons', ties to the Afghan lobby, see Sayid Khybar, "The Afghani Contra Lobby", Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 30, Summer 1988, p. 65.

67. New York Times, 11 September 1979, p. 12.

68. Washington Post, 13 January 1985, p. A30.

69. Cited by Extra! (published by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, New York, October/November 1989), p. 1, referring to a series of articles in the New York Post beginning 27 September 1989.

70. Mary Williams Walsh, "Strained Mercy", The Progressive magazine (Madison, Wisconsin) May 1990, pp. 23-6. Walsh, as the Wall Street Journal's principal correspondent in South and Southeast Asia, had covered Afghanistan The Journal refused to print this article, which led to her resignation

71. San Francisco Chronicle, 20 July 1987.

72. New York Times, 9 March 1982, p. 1; 23 March 1982, pp. 1, 14; The Guardian (London) 3 November 1983, 29 March 1984; Washington Post, 30 May 1986.

73. Julian Robinson, et al, "Yellow Rain: The Story Collapses", Foreign Policy magazine, Fall 1987, pp. 100-117; New York Times, 31 August 1987, p. 14.

74. Congressional Record, 6 June 1980, pp. S13582-3.

75. New York Times, 29 March 1982, p. 1.

76. San Francisco Chronicle, 16 September 1985, p. 9.

77. The Truth About Afghanistan, op. cit., pp. 85, 89, with a photo of the alleged victims lying on the ground and another photo of an American chemical grenade.

78. Los Angeles Times, 28 July 1989.

79. Ibid., 30 April 1990, pp. 1 and 9.

80. Weiner, pp. 150, 152.

81. Weiner, p. 151; Los Angeles Times, 26 May 1988. Shooting down passenger planes: New York Times, 26 September 1984, p. 9; 11 April 1988, p. 1.

82. San Francisco Chronicle, Jack Anderson's columns: 29 April and 2 May 1987; 13 July 1987; Time magazine, 9 December 1985; Washington Post, 13 January 1985, p. A30.

83.Drugs, the Moujahedeen and the CIA:
a) Weiner, pp. 151-2;
b) New York Times, 18 June 1986;
c) William Vornberger, "Afghan Rebels and Drugs", Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 28, Summer 1987, pp. 11-12;
d) Los Angeles Times, 4 November 1989, p. 14;
e) Washington Post, 13 May 1990, p. 1.

84. Los Angeles Times, 22 August 1993.

85. Hekmatyar, Neumann: Ibid., 21 April 1992.

86. Ibid., 24 May 1992.

87. Ibid., 4 January, 24 May, 8 September, 1992.