In the previous chapter, we saw how the CIA was recruiting young men from the Middle East and training them to fight in Afghanistan. The obvious question to ask next is: why?
Between 1979 and 1989 the CIA ran Operation Cyclone, a program designed to arm and finance the mujahideen fighting the USSR in Afghanistan, as part of America’s cold war against the Soviet bloc.
According to a report published in TIME magazine in 2003, The official reason given for the operation was that the Soviets were running out of domestic oil and would soon begin seizing oil fields in the middle east.
Two years later, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter, apparently acting on the assumption that the Soviets were passing through the region on their way to the oil fields, warned: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
The TIME report continues: “When Ronald Reagan replaced Carter in the White House a year later, he turned up the heat. Administration officials insisted that the Soviet Union’s interest in Afghanistan was a prelude to a communist takeover of the Middle East oil fields. The CIA report on the Soviets’ running out of oil gave the Reagan Administration the ammunition to secure more money from Congress to arm Afghan insurgents and establish a permanent military presence in the Persian Gulf. Soon after Reagan took office, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger announced that it was essential for the U.S. to establish bases in the Persian Gulf region “to act as a deterrent to any Soviet hopes of seizing the oil fields.” The Reagan Administration began building those bases, sold sophisticated AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, and conducted joint military exercises with Egypt and other countries. And the CIA began one of its longest and most expensive covert operations, supplying billions of dollars in arms to a collection of Afghan guerrillas fighting the Soviets. The arms shipments included Stinger missiles, the shoulder-fired, antiaircraft weapons that were used with deadly accuracy against Soviet helicopters and that are now in circulation among terrorists who have fired such weapons at commercial airliners. Among the rebel recipients of U.S. arms: Osama bin Laden.”
But there was more.
Afghanistan wasn’t the only Middle Eastern country on America’s radar. The U.S. had also long been involved in regime change in Iran, deposing figures who sought to free Iran from the grip of American and British interventions, and replacing them with its chosen candidates.
In the 1950s, the CIA actively overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran on behalf of the British, when he moved to nationalise Iranian oil for the Iranian people. This CIA staged coup d’etat was called Operation Ajax.
Again, the TIME article takes up the story, which, the authors wrote: “begins with the rise of a member of Iran’s parliament, Mohammed Mossadegh, an impassioned speaker and popular politician who had long chafed at British domination over his country’s oil. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., partly owned by the British government and a predecessor of today’s British Petroleum, held the concession for all of Iran. It set production rates and prices as well as Iran’s token share of the proceeds. Mossadegh sought a fifty-fifty sharing agreement, which was then becoming the common arrangement between other oil-producing countries and U.S. companies. The British refused. In 1951 Mossadegh successfully pushed to nationalize Anglo-Iranian, became Iran’s Premier and established the National Iranian Oil Co.
“The British boycotted Iranian oil, and the U.S. joined them. No international oil company would buy Iran’s oil. The Iranians had no independent system for delivering it. They had no technical skills to produce it, since the British had long relegated Iranian workers to menial jobs. Even when Mossadegh threatened to flood the world with half-price oil, he was able to deliver only a trickle because of the economic blockade. As the Iranian government withered, the Eisenhower Administration cut off foreign aid. Unrest followed, and angry citizens took to the streets. This prompted suggestions that the communists were coming, even though Mossadegh was as anti-Soviet as he was anti-British. On Aug. 19, 1953, after the deaths of about 300 people in street riots, the 71-year-old Premier was overthrown. He was replaced by a retired army general, Fazollah Zahedi. The American-friendly Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who had earlier fled the country, returned triumphantly, resumed the throne and reasserted his control.
“Media accounts of the coup were seemingly straightforward. The Washington Post reported that Iran had been saved from falling into communist hands […] TIME reported: “This was no military coup, but a spontaneous popular uprising.” It was anything but.
“The CIA’s fingerprints were everywhere. Operatives paid off Iranian newspaper editors to print pro-Shah and anti-Mossadegh stories. They produced their own stories and editorial cartoons and published fabricated interviews. They secured the cooperation of the Iranian military. They spread antigovernment rumors. They prepared phony documents to show secret agreements between Mossadegh and the local Communist Party. They masqueraded as communists, threatened conservative Muslim clerics and even staged a sham fire-bombing of the home of a religious leader. They incited rioters to set fire to a pro-Mossadegh newspaper. They stage-managed the appearance of Mossadegh’s successor, General Zahedi, whose personal bank account they fattened. With Mossadegh gone, British Petroleum returned to the Iranian oil fields.”
In short, in order to maintain British hegemony in Iran, the CIA overthrew an independent leader intent on working for the good of the Iranian people and placed their own candidate in power instead, all the while blaming the Russians. Sound familiar?
After Mossadegh’s overthrow, power returned to the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled until 1979 when he in turn was overthrown during the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and deposed by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Again, the official line on Khomeni is that the Iranian people, tired of American involvement in their country, backed the traditionalist Islamist cleric and his supporters and instigated the revolution to purge ‘The Great Satan’ of America from the country.
But again, a closer look reveals CIA involvement behind the scenes.
In 2016, in an article titled “US had extensive contact with Ayatollah Khomeini before the Iran revolution,” The Guardian reported that recently declassified US diplomatic cables revealed extensive contact between the Ayatollah and the Carter administration just weeks before the Islamic Revolution.
“It is advisable that you recommend to the army not to follow [Shah’s prime minister Shapour] Bakhtiar,” Khomeini said in one message, according to the BBC Persian service. “You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans.”
In another message he wrote: “There should be no fear about oil. It is not true that we wouldn’t sell to the US.”
According to The Guardian, Carter agreed to hold the Iranian army back and the Ayatollah was able to launch his coup. Furthermore, a CIA analysis titled “Islam in Iran” showed that the Ayatollah’s attempts to reach out to the US dated all the way back to 1963, 16 years before the revolution.
The year after the revolution, in September 1980, Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The Carter and Reagan administrations initially remained neutral, but when it became apparent that Iran might win, the U.S. began to secretly back Iraq. In 1982 it removed Iraq from its list of countries supporting terrorism.
TIME reports: “According to a General Accounting Office report, this “made Iraq eligible to purchase aircraft, helicopters, and national security controlled items for military end use.” Yet another declassified State Department document makes clear that the Reagan Administration intended to implement regulations that would lift restrictions on exports “to both Iran and Iraq of five chemicals that could be used in chemical weapons production.” This made sense, as the U.S. was peddling arms to Iran as well via the Iran-contra conduit.”
Again: the official reason given for all this meddling in the Middle East was that the Soviet bloc was running out of domestic oil, and the U.S. needed to secure gulf oil in order to weaken the Soviets as part of the cold war strategy. But nearly 40 years on, not only has Russia not run out of oil, in 2020 it is one of the world’s largest producers of oil, second only to America.
Operation Cyclone ended ten years after it started, when Soviet forces finally withdrew from Afghanistan. Iran went from being a US ally to the Islamic Republic under the Shia psychopath named Khomeini. The operation left behind a vast network of logistical support for terrorist groups, out of which would emerge al-Qaeda. And the Russians were never after the oil in the first place.
Into the Lion’s Den
Arms and trained fighters were not the only benefits Osama bin Laden and his allies gained from Operation Cyclone.
In 1984 a Palestinian religious scholar named Sheik Abdullah Azzam founded an organisation known as Makhtab al Khadimat (MAK) in Peshawar, Pakistan, to recruit an Islamic army to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan.
Between 1980 and 1989, roughly the time that Operation Cyclone was in place, about $600 million was passed through Osama bin Laden’s charitable fronts to groups, largely to MAK, according to Michael Scheuer, head of the CIA’s first bin Laden unit. Much of the money came from donors in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf for the mujahideen in Afghanistan.
In his book Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, author Robert Dreyfuss wrote: “Mohammad Yousaf, a high ranking ISI official, will later say, “It was largely Arab money that saved the system,” since so much of the aid given by the CIA and Saudi Arabia was siphoned away before it got to Afghanistan. “By this I mean cash from rich individuals or private organizations in the Arab world, not Saudi government funds. Without those extra millions the flow of arms actually getting to the mujaheddin would have been cut to a trickle.”
According to author Joseph Trento in his book Prelude to Terror: the Rogue CIA, The Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network, MAK was bin Laden’s main charity front in the 1980s. The US government later named it the “precursor organization to al-Qaeda.” Trento further noted: “CIA money was actually funneled to MAK, since it was recruiting young men to come join the jihad in Afghanistan.” However, he was not able to say how much money or for how long it was supplied.
By 1985, there were MAK branches in 30 US cities to allow Muslim-Americans to donate millions of dollars to support the Afghan war against the Soviet Union.
The Operation also benefited bin Laden personally.
In June 2001, mere months before the towers fell, Mullah Mohammad Omar Akhund, the Taliban’s supreme leader at the time, told United Press International that bin Laden was America’s creation at the beginning of his career “and that was 16 years before the Taliban came to power.”
The UIP article continues: “After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan Dec. 27, 1979, bin Laden worked closely with Saudi, Pakistani and U.S. intelligence services to recruit Mujahideen (freedom fighters) from many Muslim countries. They became known as Arab Afghans.
“Encouraged by the CIA’s psychological warfare specialists, the Koran and the Islamic banner became the sword and the shield against atheist communism. After the Mujahideen forced a Soviet withdrawal after nine years of fighting, the United States closed down an operation that cost (shared 50/50 with Saudi Arabia) about $1 billion a year. Afghanistan, by then a war-ravaged country of 22 million with no working infrastructure, was left in the lurch by the earlier Bush administration.”
It further notes: “Bin Laden’s career took a new turn after Iraq invaded Kuwait and President George Bush hammered together a 29-nation coalition that moved 700,000 military personnel to the Gulf region and defeated Saddam Hussein’s army.
“Afghan officials in Pakistan, speaking not for attribution, said bin Laden remains convinced to this day that the United States “deliberately entrapped Saddam into invading Kuwait in order to occupy the region permanently and guarantee cheap oil from its corrupt Saudi puppets.””
If the reason for this was not to prevent the Soviets from gaining control of Middle Eastern oil, what was it ?
Obama: The Ultimate Continuity Candidate
When Zbigniew Brzezinski died in 2017, aged 89, the New York Times described him as “the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s.”
It noted: “In essays, interviews and television appearances over the decades, he cast a sharp eye on six successive administrations, including that of Donald J. Trump, whose election he did not support and whose foreign policy, he found, lacked coherence.”
Brzezinski was a Democrat, the Times said, but on one subject he was to the right of Republicans: “his rigid hatred of the Soviet Union,” which led him to “[support] billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan.”
Brzezinski’s son, Mark Brzezinski is a major player in the Democrats’ foreign policy program and was an advisor to John Kerry during his presidential run. Kerry and his running mate John Edwards were obsessed with Russia, and chose Russia’s nuclear disarmament as their main priority. It’s almost as if the long-term plan is to ensure perpetual war. Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC proved to be a mega anti-Trump activist, perpetuating the Russian Collusion myth.
Brzezinski meanwhile often painted himself in media appearances as a peace lover and opposer of the Soviet communist regime, but in truth his politics were far more complex.
In the introduction to his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, he wrote: “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played, and that struggle involves geostrategy — the strategic management of geopolitical interests. It is noteworthy that as recently as 1940 two aspirants to global power, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, agreed explicitly (in the secret negotiations of November of that year) that America should be excluded from Eurasia. Each realized that the injection of American power into Eurasia would preclude his ambitions regarding global domination. Each shared the assumption that Eurasia is the center of the world and that he who controls Eurasia controls the world. A half century later, the issue has been redefined: will America’s primacy in Eurasia endure, and to what ends might it be applied?
“The ultimate objective of American policy should be benign and visionary: to shape a truly cooperative global community, in keeping with long-range trends and with the fundamental interests of humankind. But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America.”
On the surface of it, this philosophy appears benign indeed. Surely it’s in the world’s best interests that America, with its values of freedom and democracy, dominate the global stage rather than any other prospective superpower?
But when one looks at the crater hewn into lower Manhattan by the felling of the twin towers, or at the graves of the thousands of American servicemen killed in the Middle East, or at the millions of Iranians and Afghanis living under the terror of Islamic regimes put in place to protect American hegemony, one is forced to ask: is global dominance any less terrible when it’s draped with an American flag?
Furthermore, when one inquires further into Brzezinski’s philosophy, we discover that his ultimate aim isn’t a strong beneficent nation state of America anyway. His 1970 book Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, paints a very different picture of the sort of world order Brzezinski hopes America will be at the forefront of.
“With the splitting and eclipse of Christianity man began to worship a new deity: the nation. The nation became a mystical object claiming man’s love and loyalty,” he wrote.
“The nation-state along with the doctrine of national sovereignty fragmented humanity. It could not provide a rational framework within which the relations between nations could develop.
“That is why Marxism represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing and man’s universal vision.” Marxism, he says, “was the most powerful doctrine for generating a universal and secular human consciousness.”
Brzezinski makes it clear that he believes humanity is moving beyond the nation state and into an age of “transnational elites,” although he concedes that this “could create a dangerous gap between them and the politically activated masses, whose “nativism” — exploited by more nationalist political leaders — could work against the “cosmopolitan” elites.”
In the 2016 election, the “politically activated masses” were given a new name. They were dubbed “the deplorables.”
Meanwhile, between 1979 and 1981 a young Barack Obama was enrolled at Occidental College, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles. At the end of his second year he dropped out and moved to Colombia College where he studied Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, graduating from there in 1983.
Brzezinski is listed on Colombia’s website as having been a member of the Graduate Faculty between 1960–76, and 1982–89. While at Colombia, Brzezinski was director of the university’s Research Institute on Communist Affairs and was a faculty member of the University’s Russian Institute.
According to one of Obama’s former professors at Colombia, Prof. Michael Baron, Obama wrote his senior thesis on Russian nuclear disarmament. Specifically, Prof Baron told NBC News, “My recollection is that the paper was an analysis of the evolution of the arms reduction negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States.
“At that time, a hot topic in foreign policy circles was finding a way in which each country could safely reduce the large arsenal of nuclear weapons pointed at the other […] For U.S. policy makers in both political parties, the aim was not disarmament, but achieving deep reductions in the Soviet nuclear arsenal and keeping a substantial and permanent American advantage. As I remember it, the paper was about those negotiations, their tactics and chances for success. Barack got an A.”
So on the one hand we have Brzezinski who, in the 1970s and 80s was dictating a White House foreign policy of maintaining American global hegemony through provoking continual warfare between opposing factions in the Middle East, drawing in the Soviet regime, and on the other we have a young Obama attending the same college that Brzezinski is a director at, writing his thesis on maintaining American global hegemony through disempowerment of the Soviet regime.
Is it any wonder that, in the run up to the 2008 Presidential elections, Brzezinski was the first foreign policy maker to back Obama as candidate, or that, following his successful election, in February 2008 Obama appointed Brzezinski as his advisor on Middle Eastern policy?
Similarly, John Brennan was the CIA operative in charge of directing American operations backing al-Qaeda on the ground during that time. Again, is it any wonder that in 2013 Obama, as President, named him CIA Director?