Invisible History Blog
We'll explore anomalies we discovered while researching the causes of the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan. We look forward to your comments. Paul & Liz.
Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire
Focuses on the AfPak strategy and the importance of the Durand Line, the border separating Pakistan from Afghanistan but referred to by the military and intelligence community as Zero line. The U.S. fought on the side of extremist-political Islam from Pakistan during the 1980s and against it from Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. It is therefore appropriate to think of the Durand/Zero line as the place where America’s intentions face themselves; the alpha and omega of nearly 60 years of American policy in Eurasia. The Durand line is visible on a map. Zero line is not.(Coming February, 2011) (read more)
"A serious, sobering study... illuminates a critical point of view rarely discussed by our media...results of this willful ignorance have been disastrous to our national well-being."
Read the document that reveals an invasion of Afghanistan by the Shah of Iran was being prepared years before the Soviets invaded. Read more...
A 19th century philosophy still in use by Washington that infuses a sense of divine mission into the politics of empire building. Read more...
We'll explore anomalies we discovered while researching the causes of the Soviet and American invasions of Afghanistan. We look forward to your comments. Paul & Liz.
America’s conflict with Russia regarding the Ukraine and the transformation of Muslim extremists into the leadership of the Islamic State (ISIS) were both triggered by a legacy US policies towards Central Asia and the Soviet Union going back to the post-World War II era. This process reached a peak at least 6 months prior to the December 27, 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when President Jimmy Carter signed a secret directive allowing his national security adviser Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski to empower Muslim extremists in Central Asia to trick the Soviet Union into an invasion of Afghanistan
In a 1998 interview in Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski boasted, “That secret operation was an excellent idea. Its objective was to lead the Russian to the Afghan trap, and you want me to regret it? The very same day the Soviets crossed the Afghan border I wrote the following to President Carter: This is our chance to give Russia its Viet Nam.” The reporter then asked, “Aren’t you sorry either for favoring Islamic fundamentalism and providing weapons and consultancies to future terrorists?” Without hesitation Brzezinski responded, “What is the most important thing when you look at world history, the Taliban or the fall of the Soviet empire? Some excited Islamists or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?” Brzezinski clearly was convinced that his 1979 policy was correct. Winning the “Cold War” was all that mattered back then.
Ironically, once the anti- Muslim backlash began to grow after 9/11, Brzezinski started calling for an end to irrational hostilities towards the Muslim world as a solution to the spread of Islamic extremism. In a 2008 Kommersant.com interview Brzezinski even referred to himself as an optimist in Russian-American relations and that the younger generation of both countries would find much in common as soon as “the dinosaurs of the Cold War” die out. Since the Ukraine crisis erupted it is obvious that Dr. Brzezinski miscalculated not only the negative long-term effects of his policies on the US and the region but how tenaciously those “dinosaurs of the Cold War” could continue to hold the Washington bureaucracy in its grip.
WATCH our presentation-Afghanistan and Mystical Imperialism: An expose of the esoteric underpinnings of American foreign policy Read a review from Examiner.com: Afghanistan bedeviled by ‘Mystical Imperialism’.
“… the Supreme Court has held that in matters of legislation, law, and public programs, the religious positions of one person (and of course they have recently reaffirmed the original 1880s railroad-lawyers-Court decision that corporations are people (see “Citizens United”), can outweigh the religious position, or non-religious but ethical/moral position, of another.”
“And so, what the Court has done here is to take one set of religious beliefs, that of the owners of a company incorporated under public law (and gaining the tax benefits of so doing), and placed them above the religious beliefs of their employees, all in the name of religious freedom.”
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/7/2014 at 09:47:03
On the Road to Theocracy: The Hobby Lobby Decision
The Hobby Lobby decision has many implications. First, one must agree with Justice Ginsburg that regardless of Justices Alito’s caveats, the tide unleashed by the decision of the Right-wing Five is not going to stop at the shoreline of the separation of church and state any time soon. And for the long-range future of the United States, that is the most significant element of the decision. That is not to say that it also has horrible outcomes for women and their sexual behavior, their private lives, and their private decision-making.. Read more…
Ignoring Russia’s peace plan today is a repeat of what happened when we brought back the news from Kabul in 1981 of what it would take to get the Soviet’s out of Afghanistan and the Reagan administration ignored the opportunity with the same dismissive attitude as Obama’s today. Here is the story of our effort from a presentation we gave recently:
“The footage from our 1981 trip did not conform to what CBS NEWS expected to see. We were told by the CBS producer that the front office had thrashed around for a month trying to figure out how to make our story conform to the official narrative. They finally settled on comparing what we saw to Soviet propaganda. What CBS expected was the official narrative that Dan Rather had presented to the country a year earlier: That the Soviets were bent on controlling Persian Gulf oil and that the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to stop them. Dan Rather did show Afghan President Babrak Karmal praising the presence of the Soviets. What Rather didn’t show was Babrak Karmal citing the undeclared war by the United States being waged from Pakistan and the conditions under which the Soviets would withdraw. This of course is what complicated the telling of our story for CBS News because at the time the official line out of Washington held that the U.S. wasn’t supporting the Mujahideen even though everybody on both sides of the Durand line knew it.
Our return trip in the spring of 1983 for ABC NIGHTLINE was to follow up on Karmal’s statement. Was this just more Soviet propaganda put out to weaken America’s resolve in the war against the Soviet empire? Or was it true? And if so what would it take for the Soviets to go home? Roger Fisher of the Harvard Negotiation Project had already been approached by the Soviets in the fall of 1982 to help them get out of Afghanistan when we offered him the opportunity to go with us to Kabul and the results were startling. The Soviets did wish to withdraw their forces as long as the United States would pull back support for the resistance, allow them to save face and help in establishing a non-aligned coalition government that would be acceptable to everyone. Roger’s recommendation that the U.S offer up a Golden bridge was never seriously considered in Washington because at that moment Charlie Wilson’s war was gaining political traction as a vindication for Vietnam. As the momentum grew, everybody in Congress climbed on board the effort to hurt the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, despite concern at the CIA and the Pentagon that the war could never be turned off.”
“The re-assertion of Russian identity, meanwhile, is as brutal a business as Russian self-assertion has been since the time of Peter the Great. Putin’s patriotism is not my patriotism. I don’t particularly like what Putin did in Crimea, but it was delusional to expect any other course of action. Russia is short of Russians, and it cannot ignore the 22 million Russians left stranded in newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union.”
By Spengler Asia Times
An Obama administration official leaked to the New York Times on Sunday the fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Obama she wasn’t sure if Putin was in touch with reality. “In another world,” Merkel reportedly said, according to the leak. Then in a conference call with reporters later in the day, three administration officials took turns firing rhetorical shots: “[B]eing inside Putin’s head is not someplace anyone wants to be.”
Read more here.
“When Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) reflected on the history of civilization, he envisioned a special role for Russia, because he considered Russia the country that could best embody the spirit of a new cultural epoch. In Russia, Anthroposophy developed beyond the mere study of an esoteric doctrine and its theory of knowledge. Anthroposophy sought to evaluate Russian and Soviet reality concretely, to interpret Russia’s historical development in the context of world history, and to become the basis of action for Russian cultural activities. Russian Anthroposophy is more than a variant of the Anthroposophical movement. Russia occupies a prominent place in the Anthroposophical conception of culture.
Steiner structured the history of civilzation in seven (post –Atlantean) periods: Indian, ancient Persia, Egyptian-Chaldean, Greek-Roman, Central European, Slavic, and American. According to his scheme, humanity at the end of the fifth ,the central European period-that is, at the threshold of the end of the fifth, the Central European period-that is, at the threshold of the sixth period, the Slavic period. The fifth post-Atlantean epoch began in the first half of the fifteenth century among the Germanic peoples. It manifested itself through an increase in individualism and through a growing interest in the sciences and technology. Around the year 3500, this era of perception was to be succeeded by the sixth epoch, the epic of the “Spirit Self” the characteristics of the Slavic people were to prevail: a sense of community, selflessness, patience, and the ability to accept a higher truth. These qualities constitute the basis for the ’seed’ of the world spirit incarnation in the Russian people, according to Steiner, the broad Russian masses already carried in them the seed of the coming civilization. Steiner used the image of ’seed’ repeatedly to describe the state of Russia’s development, the embryonic, nuclear state of the East as opposed to the ‘hypertrophy’ of the West. The spirit of the Russian people was ‘young and fresh in it’s hopes’ and ‘yet to confront it’s task.’ This task, to suffuse all aspects of life with new meaning, would be realized only in the course of history. Steiner called the Russian a child, in whose very soul one could find the questions that must be answered if humanity was to master the future. From the Russian character traits Steiner derived the capability of holistic thinking. In the Russian way of thinking, as he saw it, two opposing concepts can hold sway simultaneously so that rationality was mysticism and mysticism is rationality. ‘The Russian does not have the slightest understanding of what Westerners call ‘reasonableness.’ He is accessible to what we term ‘revelation. Basically, he will accept and integrate into the content of his soul anything he owns to a kind of revelation.”
In Soloviev’s ideas Steiner saw the seed of the philosophy of the ‘Spirit Self’ of the sixth epoch, for here the religious and philosophical worldviews merged. Soloviev’s philosophy spoke the language of religion, while his religion strove a philosophical worldview.” According to Steiner, this was where the superiority of the Russian philosophy over the aging Western philosophy lay: it transcended the limits of reason and it built a basis for a new holistic understanding. In order to develop the capacities and to fulfill its mission, Steiner said, the Russian people needed contact with the West; the ‘female East’ should be impregnated by the ‘male West.’ Intellectuality and technology, the achievement and problem of the fifth epoch of civilization, had led the life force to stagnate in Europe. Meanwhile this life force was at work in Russia, but was so lacking in form that it could fall into chaos. That was why Steiner felt that Russia depended on a Western awareness of form and consciousness. ‘To imagine that the East, at its present state, would develop on its own would be comparable to the foolish hope of a woman who wanted to have a child without a man. In the past, Eastern Europe had proved its receptiveness to the West. Steiner pointed to the reception of the Byzantine religion in Russia. Thus the Slavic peoples showed that they were also capable of absorbing higher truths- that is, the spirit of the sixth epoch.”
We made a documentary with economist John Kenneth Galbraith and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) negotiator Paul Warnke on the eve of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Our timing with this issue made the Soviet invasion seem all too convenient. As we point out at the very end, it was President Carter who asked the Senate to hold back on ratification of SALT II following the invasion while having secretly authorized Brzezinski’s black project to lure the Soviets into Afghanistan in the first place. The Soviet invasion enabled the military/industrial/congressional complex to shift the political discussion permanently away from the civilian sector and towards the need for an unending military escalation of all sectors of the economy. It’s the basis of the false narrative of triumphalism our country is dying from today.
America’s Financial Armageddon and Afghanistan is an article we wrote that goes more deeply into the Cold War effects on today’s economy.
America’s Financial Armageddon and Afghanistan
by PAUL FITZGERALD and ELIZABETH GOULD
The U.S. economy grinds down to a finish, it becomes increasingly difficult to measure whether Washington understands the importance of how to deal realistically with the worsening crisis in Afghanistan. Left off the front pages during the recent obsession with the debt crisis, Afghanistan has lurched back onto the scene in ways that are reminiscent of the Soviet collapse of two decades ago. After ten years of war, it seems Washington not only continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of Afghanistan, but it lacks an understanding of its own role in creating both the economic and political catastrophe it now faces.
Even less understood is how the political decisions of the late 1970s are tied to the current simultaneous financial and foreign policy crisis. Nor is it understood how Washington and Wall Street set the stage for America’s financial downfall by using Afghanistan as an investment bank throughout the 1980s to renew the Cold War instead of reinvesting in America’s civilian economy.
Much like today, the America of 1979 faced a crossroads. Vietnam, two oil shocks, a disintegrating infrastructure, a beleaguered manufacturing base and the loss of strategic ally Iran had shown that America was a vulnerable colossus. Thirty five years of economic Cold War against the Soviet Union and China had produced a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons that were proving as useless as they were unusable. World War II had set the stage for the happy marriage of war production to business — pulling the U.S. out of the depression by doubling the Gross National Product in one year (1940). The Cold War ushered the financial benefits of the 1940s into the 1950s and 1960s. But these expenditures came at a massive expense to the civilian economy and not just in terms of tax dollars. Weapons development of the post World War II years lured America’s best and brightest away from the civilian economy and even the real world of guns, tanks and armies into a world detached from time, space and money. While Germany and Japan rebuilt their civilian industries free from defense spending, the U.S. moved into ever higher levels of technology, glorifying and expanding the influence of the defense industry into every fabric of American life.
Originally termed Military Keynesianism to describe the buildup of the German defense industry prior to World War II, America’s military Keynesianism of the Cold War was the unseen hand of government supporting the American economy, balancing the cyclical ups and downs of the market by providing 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 1950s and 9 percent in the 1960s. By 1963 defense spending accounted for 52 percent of all the research and development done in the United States. But by the mid-1970s, a stagnant American economy combined with the Arab oil embargo and inflation brought on by the Vietnam War exposed the weakness in the system. As German and Japanese manufacturers battered their American competition in the marketplace, the defense-heavy American economy faltered.
Born of necessity, diplomatic overtures to China and détente with the Soviets offered the first chance since World War II to get off the wartime treadmill. To that end, for most of the decade the U.S. and Soviet Union pursued Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
Endorsed by President Nixon in 1972, it was hoped that the agreement signed by President Carter and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev would enable the United States to back away from weapons manufacturing and reinvest those resources in the civilian economy. But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed all that.
Our involvement in this story began in the summer of 1979 when we began production of a documentary we called Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. During the next months numerous experts including economist John Kenneth Galbraith lent their experience to our understanding of the unseen damage that a massive new diversion of tax dollars and capital investment would represent to the civilian economy. The arms race wasn’t just about defending the United States. The arms race was also about jobs and money in a dark world of business, science, and politics ruled over by a self-described “priesthood” of experts. Galbraith insisted that accelerated defense spending and renewing the Cold War, which the neoconservative right was lobbying hard for at the time, would ultimately destroy the civilian economy. He was convinced that the Cold War had already helped rigidify the capitalist system by bureaucratizing a large part of production for non-productive uses. He saw American industry becoming more and more like the Soviet Union, ruled by a military-industrial-academic establishment immune from reality, living in a planned economy designed to suit its own needs at the expense of society.
Galbraith jokingly referred to his “First Law of Executive Talent” that he had formulated to describe the thinking of America’s military-industrial leadership. “It was that all great executives come to resemble intellectually the products they manufacture. Until you had done business with top officers of the steel industry, you didn’t really appreciate the intellectual qualities of a billet of steel.” So it was with the defense department. America’s militarized economy was already in essence a Soviet-style “planned economy,” to make it an even larger part of the economy would only lock the U.S. into the same dismal fate.
That fall, in Washington, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was one of the last holdouts of sanity in a rolling sea of hysterical accusations about American security. Was the Soviet Union really planning a sneak attack on the United States with nuclear weapons as the right wing claimed? Was SALT II really just a public relations scheme by Moscow to put the U.S. off its guard?
In hindsight we know that these claims were absurd. The Soviet Union was dying, driven to SALT by its weakness, not its strength. But when the Soviets crossed their southern border into Afghanistan that December of 1979 it played out on America’s TV screens like a World War II Hollywood B movie. Afghanistan was a far off South Asian country of no particular interest to the United States. A half dozen administrations had refused Afghan requests for military assistance. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s callous and careless diplomacy drove Afghanistan towards Moscow in the mid 1950s and its politics followed close behind. A low priority remnant from Britain’s colonial empire, President Carter labeled the invasion, “the greatest threat to peace since the second World War.” But the script had already been written long before the Soviet’s crossed their southern border on December 27, 1979.
A trap had been set to give the Soviets their own Vietnam and the Soviets had taken the bait. But no one outside a handful of policy experts and Wall Street wizards were supposed to know that. Instead, a crop of neoconservative experts appeared on the scene claiming the Soviets were running out of oil and using Afghanistan as a staging ground for Middle East conquest.
By the time our program aired that winter, the argument was no longer whether our government should call a halt to the nuclear arms race and reinvest in the civilian economy. The U.S. had stepped into the mirror with the media echoing a return to 1947 style Cold War rhetoric, and the debate refocused not on whether, but on how much was to be spent to counter Soviet aggression.
In the planning stages for most of the decade, the new right’s military stimulus program regained for them a strategic hold over the economy, raising American investment in new weapons systems to a new high, while setting in motion a series of changes to the fundamental economic order endemic to the previous iteration of the Cold War.
As it had in the 1950s and 1960s, military spending once again drove the American economy, accounting for up to 6.2 percent of GDP by 1984. But where previous defense spending had been carefully balanced against America’s industrial output as a percentage of GNP, the so-called Reagan agenda or Reaganomics required massive borrowing to finance the military budget while reducing regulation and oversight of where it was spent. This change would transform American thinking about the economy, sending it into a star wars unreality and more importantly from a creditor to a debtor economy.
Always detached from the real economy, the Reagan budgets lifted the arms race and its Wall Street backers into the stratosphere, focusing the nation’s attention away from the depression era roads, bridges, dams, schools and industry that were in desperate need of attention. Instead, America became transfixed by the phantom of an ever present danger of Soviet troops in Afghanistan and a stock market driven by the military’s expansion.