- Spitfire List - http://spitfirelist.com -

FTR #680 Interview [#2] with Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald

[1]MP3 Side 1 [2] | Side 2 [3]

Introduction: Accessing information from the vitally important recent (in 2009) book Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story [1], this second interview with the book’s authors [4] sets forth covert history of the Cold War and the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. (Subsequent interviews with the authors will present more information from this landmark book, bringing the Afghan tragedy up to date, through the Soviet withdrawal, the birth of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing U.S. military involvement in that nation.) NB: this description features text excerpts that illustrate the major points the authors make in this interview. The text is not transcribed from the interview.

The program begins with a reading of one of the many critical passages in this vitally important book. A RAND [5] analyst and wife of Zalmay Khalilzad [6] notes that the absence of moderate interests in Afghanistan is due to the fact that the U.S. and its allies precipitated the outright slaughter of moderates in order to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

Next, the authors set forth the role of private intelligence networks in building the covert operation that lured the Soviets into Afghanistan at the end of 1979. In addition to the Safari Club, Enterprise and other networks discussed in past programs, the broadcast notes veteran British intelligence agent Brian Crozier’s development of the “6I.”

Throughout their magnificent book, the authors repeatedly address the incoherent nature of U.S. policy in the region. In part, that incoherence stems from the fact that individual parties and players have been able to successfully manifest their agendas, even when those agendas conflict with official policy. A stunning example of this occurred when a Pentagon Special Forces operation was mounted in conjunction with Pakistani special operations troops that were assisting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Running counter to administration policy, Clinton staffers were shocked when the operation was disclosed.

Highlighting the fundamental role of the Pakistani national security establishment in the creation and operation of the Taliban, the authors then note that the force–engaged in combat by U.S. and NATO troops–is an extension of the ISI [7] (Pakistani intelligence).

Next, the authors relate how the Taliban came to be seen by the United States as a useful commercial vehicle for the fossil fuel industry. Seeking to recapitulate the status quo in Saudi Arabia, the U.S.–acting on a private corporate agenda–saw the Taliban as a vehicle to pave the way for a Unocal [8]-developed pipeline to cross Afghanistan. The authors note that, eventually, the U.S. openly pressured the late Benazir Bhutto [9] to accede to Unocal’s demands.

Program Highlights Include: Elaboration of private interests’ “dining out” on the United States–using national public policy to realize the goals of private interests; analysis of the role of the permanent war economy on U.S. foreign policy; U.S. and British attempts to block Russian access to the fossil fuel resources of central Asia. (Listeners interested in the authors’ work are encouraged to check out FTR #’s 678 [10]683, [11]685 [12].)

1. The program begins with a reading of one of the many critical passages in this vitally important book. A RAND analyst and wife of Zalmay Khalilzad notes that the absence of moderate interests in Afghanistan is due to the fact that the U.S. and its allies precipitated the outright slaughter of moderates in order to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

“. . . the real Afghanistan was lacking one important ingredient. In the words of Cheryl Bernard, a RAND analyst and expert on the Middle East who is married to Zalmay Khalilzad, ‘In Afghanistan, we made a deliberate choice . . . At first, everyone thought, There’s no way to beat the Soviets. So what we have to do is throw the worst crazies against them that we can find, and there was a lot of collateral damage. We knew exactly who these people were, and what their organizations were like and we didn’t care,’ she says. ‘Then we allowed them to get rid of, kill all the moderate leaders. The reason we don’t have moderate leaders in Afghanistan today is because we let the nuts kill them all. They killed the leftists, the moderates, the middle-of-the-roaders. They were just eliminated, during the 1980’s and afterward.'”

Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould; City Lights Books [SC]; Copyright 2009 by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould; ISBN-13: 978-0-87286-494-8; p. 285. [1]

2. After reviewing some of the key points highlighted in the second part of FTR #678, the authors set forth the role of private intelligence networks in building the covert operation that lured the Soviets into Afghanistan at the end of 1979.

“. . . Referred to by various names, including the Safari Club, the Cercle, the Enterprise, the Consortium, and the 6I, the covert effort aimed at destabilizing Afghanistan could be traced back to the earliest meetings between Henry Kissinger and his Communist Chinese counterparts. Kissinger had used these various groups as proxies during the waning stages of the Vietnam War to accomplish missions that an increasingly beleagured Nixon administration could not be seen doing on its own. A kind of foreign-policy version of his Watergate plumbers unit, the ‘others’ as Kissinger referred to them, set the stage for what was to become the largest covert effort in American history. Cooley writes, ‘The ‘others’ in Kissinger’s era of the early 1970’s, a time of rehearsal for the approaching adventure in Afghanistan, were a set of unlikely colleagues and allies of circumstance. These allies, in a rough order of their actual value rendered to the U.S. were: France’s late Count Alexandre de Marenches, chief of external French intelligence from 1972 to 1982; President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt from 1970 until his murder in 1981; the Shah of Iran, until his dethronement in 1979 by Khomeini’s revolutionaries, and King Hassan II of Morocco, a discreet but valuable friend of the United States since his enthronement in 1960.’ Together with Saudi intelligence chief Kamal Adham and the young Baathist Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, the Safari Club proved a highly effective method of destabilizing Afghanistan. Under a comparable set of allies, in 1977 Brezinski took up where the Safari Club left off. . . .”

Ibid.; pp. 153-154. [1]

3. Many of the private networks alluded to above have been discussed elsewhere, such as the Safari Club and the Enterprise. (The Safari Club is discussed in FTR #’s 522 [13], 524 [14].) Discussing a network put together by veteran British intelligence agent Brian Crozier, the authors highlighted the “6I.”

“. . . A year and a half earlier, just as the divided Carter administration team first set foot in the White House, an influential group of intelligence operatives gathered in London drawn together by veteran British intelligence officer Brian Crozier, the object of the meeting was to address the crisis caused by Stansfield Turner’s new policies. From Crozier’s perspective, Turner’s efforts at cleaning house by firing four hundred Soviet experts had left the entire security apparatus of the United States in a state of near collapse. What was needed–and urgently–was a privatized international intelligence operation that would bypass the official intelligence services of the world in order first to provide reliable intelligence in areas which governments were barred from investigating, either through recent legislation (as in the United States) or because political circumstances made such inquiries difficult or potentially embarrassing, and to conduct secret counter-subversion operations in any country in which such actions were deemed feasible.

Called ‘The 6I.’ Crozier’s elite group, which included unnamed American congressional staffers and ‘the remarkable General Vernon (‘Dick’) Walters,’ would provide a unique venue for directing an unseen and for the most part unknown war of subversion against perceived or imagined Soviet threats around the world–while simultaneously preparing the final chapter in an internal Communist feud that had had spanned four decades.

Crozier writes, ‘Why the ‘6I’? I asked. ‘Because the Fourth [Communist] International split,’ he replied. The reasoning was abstruse. There had been four Internationals, of which the third was Lenin’s Comintern. The Fourth International was the Trotskyist one, and when it split, this meant that, on paper, there were five Internationals. In this numbers game, we would constitute the Six International or ’61.’ On this tenuous basis, the organization was known among its members, as ‘The 6i.’ and members or conscious contacts were known as ‘numerical.’ . . .”

ibid.; p. 156. [1]

4. One of the points made by the authors repeatedly concerns the incoherent nature of U.S. policy in the region. In part, that incoherence stems from the fact that individual parties and players have been able to successfully manifest their agendas, even when those agendas conflict with official policy. A stunning example of this occurred when a Pentagon Special Forces operation was mounted in conjunction with Pakistani special operations troops that were assisting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Running counter to administration policy, Clinton staffers were shocked when the operation was disclosed.

“. . . One example of how little oversight the administration asserted over its own military’s agenda emerged in the summer of 1998 during Operation Inspired Venture. A Joint Combined Exchange Training operation (JCET), Inspired Venture was due to take place with Pakistan that August despite sanctions imposed after the testing of five underground nuclear devices that May. Authorized by Section 2011 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, the 1991 law specifically allowed U.S. training operations to sidestep the U.S. government’s own restrictions on numerous occasions, ‘unencumbered by public debate, effective civilian oversight or the consistent involvement of senior U.S. foreign affairs officials,’ according to the Washington Post. Having sidestepped sanctions on Pakistan since 1993, Operation Inspired Venture was to ‘bring together 60 American and 200 Pakistani special operations forces for small unit exercises outside Peshawar near Afghanistan and for scuba attacks on mock targets in Mangla Lake, n the endge of the contested mountain region of Kashmir.

Given their support for Osama bin Laden and the numerous terrorist training camps under his supervision near Peshawar and Kandahar, including the Kashmiri terrorist group Harakat ul-Ansar, the operation to further train Pakistani military–in what could only be regarded as up-to date terrorist techniques–raised some additional unpleasant questions about the real nature of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. Put n hold following the Washington Post expose, Clinton’s national security staff were stunned by the revelation–apparently unaware that such a program exised. Sandy Berger, Clinton’s national security advisor, responsible for coordinating the president’s diplomatic and military polic, at first admitted that he was ‘not familiar with the program’s details,’ then later refused to talk about it. Secretary of Defense William Cohen finally defended the JCET program, issuing a terse, one-paragraph statement saying that ‘JCET’s are the backbone of training for Special Operations forces, preparing them to operate throughout the world . . . they encourage democratic values and regional stability.'”

Ibid.; pp. 231-232. [1]

5. Highlighting the fundamental role of the Pakistani national security establishment in the creation and operation of the Taliban, the authors note that the force–engaged in combat by U.S. and NATO troops–is an extension of the ISI (Pakistani intelligence).

“. . . Referred to as ‘the Seekers,’ the Taliban were (Pakistani) Lt. Gen. Naseerullah Babar’s answer to Hekmatyar’s failure to secure Afghanistan for the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, as the seventysomething interior minister to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Babar’s closeness to ISI enabled him to exact a grand plan. Inspired by Bhutto’s desire to ‘market Pakistan internationally’ as the gateway to ancient and lucrative trade routes, Babar’s plan was textbook 1840’s British Great Game, bypassing Kabul completely while cutting a path to Central Asia through Kandahar and Herat. Steve Coll writes, ‘Babar spearheaded the effort. In October 1994, he arranged a heavily publicized trial convoy carrying Pakistani textiles that he hoped to drive from Quetta arrived on the Afghan border above Kandahar just as Mullah Omar and his Taliban shura opened their preaching campaign in the area.’

Drawing from the orphans of displaced Afghan Pashtun tribal groups living in refugee camps in the North-West Frontier Province in the summer of 1994, funded by wealthy Saudi businessmen like Osama bin Laden and trained by the Jamaat-i Ulema Islam in religious madrassas, the Taliban–‘my boys,’ as Babar referred to themn–represented a new and virulent hybrid of Islamist extremism. . . .”

Ibid.; p. 223. [1]

6. The Taliban came to be seen by the United States as a useful commercial vehicle for the fossil fuel industry. Seeking to recapitulate the status quo in Saudi Arabia, the U.S.–acting on a private corporate agenda–saw the Taliban as a vehicle to pave the way for a Unocal-developed pipeline to cross Afghanistan.

“. . . Added to the incentive was Pakistan’s1993 agreement with Turkmenistan to construct a pipeline between the two countries through Afghanistan with the help of the Argentinian energy company Bridas. That year, California-based oil giant Unocal also joined the game, opaying ten million dollars to the former Soviet republic for a one-year study that was anticipated to yield a massive $8-billion project. According to Benazir Bhutto, the U.S. embassy was quick to jump on her plan for the pipeline just as long as she dropped her Argentine partner Bridas in favor of Unocal. ‘Bridas said ‘We want to get this thing through Afghanistan.’ We said fine. But everybody in my cabinet laughed. When I called them over they said, ‘Ha, ha, ha. Look at them thinking they’re going to build this.’ But anyway, we’ll keep them on board, because fighting was still going on in parts of AFghanistan. And then suddenly one day Unocal arrived. And then we were under enormous pressure by . . . the American embassy in Islamabad to break off the Bridas contract. We didn’t know what was happening.’

The question was, did Washington? For fifty years, policy centering on South Central Asia had been driven through Iran and Pakistan by dualist Cold War thinking and Cold War practices. Without a new conceptual framework that put Afghanistan in the picture, the Clinton regime foundered. ‘The USA dealt with issues as they came up, in a haphazard, piecemeal fashion, rather than applying a coherent, strategic vision to the region,’ wrote Pakistani authority Ahmed Rashid in his 1999 analysis Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. ‘Between 1994 and 1996 the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Talliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia and pro-Western. . . Between 1995 and 1997, US support was even more driven because of its backing for the Unocal project.

In a tribute to former CIA director Bill Casey, some Washington bureaucrats blindly identified with the Taliban ‘as messianic do-gooders–like born-again Christians from the American Bible Belt,’ Rashid wrote. ‘There was not a word of criticism after the Taliban captured Herat in 1995 and threw out thousands of girls from schools. In fact, the USA, along with Pakistan’s ISI, considered Herat’s fall as a help to Unocal and tightening the noose around Iran.

Was the United States actively sponsoring the Taliban or just acting as cheerleader? John K. Colley wrote in 1999 what most careful observers knew at the time to be true: ‘Pakistan’s ISI and Saudi Arabia, the former with arms and logistical support, the latter with its seeminly inexhaustible supply of money which had flowed during and since the CIA’s jihad against Russia, supported the Taliban advance. Many regional observers believed that the U.S. did too. . . .'”

Ibid.; pp. 223-225. [1]

7. The authors note that, eventually, the U.S. openly pressured the late Benazir Bhutto to accede to Unocal’s demands.

“. . . It is hard to imagine how Simons’s ‘historic context’ could fail to include any mention of how American policy itself had laid the groundwork for these most extreme radical Islamic movements. It is also hard to imagine what exactly a seasoned diplomat like Simons was doing by calling Bhutto an extortionist–to her face–for resisting his pressure to drop the Bridas contract in favor of Unocal. Steve Coll writes, ‘Simons said directly that Bhutto should cancel her memo of understanding with Bridas and sign with Unocal instead. Bhutto didn’t like his tone. Members of her government had been under U.S. pressure over the Unocal pipeline for months. Simons seemed to be issuing a demand, not a request. ‘We could never do that because that’s breaking the contract,’ she told him. ‘But that’s extortion!’ Simon shot back forcefully.’

During this period, talk surfaced that the CIA secretly supported Taliban aims, with Raphel meeting with Taliban representatives in Kandahar. The meeting produced a rosy assessment of Taliban intentions. Both Raphel and Ambassador Simons aggressively supported the Unocal pipeline, accepted Bhutto’s lies that she was not behind the Taliban’s military campaign, and angrily derogated Massoud’s plans for a representative democracy in Afghanistan after meeting with him in Kabul. So inflexible was Raphel’s position that Massoud’s camp came to believe that Raphel and Simons had marked Massoud as an enemy of the United States for signing a $1-million agreement with Unocaol rival Bridas.

Coll writes, ‘It was a tawdry season in American diplomacy. After years of withdrawal and disengagement American policy had been captured by the language of corporate dealmaking. In the absence of alternatives, the State Department has taken up Unocal’s agenda as its own. . . .”

Ibid.; pp. 227-228. [1]