What You Never Learned in School About the Vietnam War

 

vietnam war

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burns and Lyn Novick (2017)

Film Review

Last night Maori TV started a ten-part series on the Vietnam War. The first episode covers the brutal French occupation of Vietnam (1858-1961) and the rise of Ho Chi Minh and General Giap, considered one of greatest military strategists of the 20th century. It was quite alarming to realize that so much I’ve been taught about Vietnam is pure disinformation.

Among other shocking facts I learned about this shameful chapter in US history:

  • The OSS (Office of Strategic Services – precursor to the CIA) dropped a secret team into Vietnam in 1941 to meet with Ho Chi Minh (who was fighting for independence from the French) and provide his men with arms and military equipment.
  • Immediately after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Ho Chi Minh and his followers overpowered French officials to declare independence, with the support of the OSS.
  • As a senator John F Kennedy unconditionally supported Vietnamese independence and self-determination. He later reverse himself as president.
  • Ho Chi Minh repeatedly wrote to Truman requesting US support after French troops re-invaded Vietnam in 1946. The CIA intercepted the letters and never gave them to the President.
  • The line dividing North and South Vietnam, drawn at a 1954 Geneva peace conference, was purely arbitrary. The Vietcong American troops were fighting was actually a South Vietnamese resistance movement against South Vietnamese dictator Ngo Dinh Diem.

This first episode is aptly named “Deja Vu” – this wouldn’t be the last time OSS/CIA- backed “freedom fighters” would go on to bite the US government in the butt.

I can’t wait for the next episode. People can watch episode 1 for the next week or so at the Maori TV website:Vietnam War Series Part 1

 

Robert Kennedy’s Lone Nut Assassin – Not

The Strange Case of Sirhan Sirhan

James Corbett (2016)

Film Review

In this 2016 documentary, James Corbett examines various evidence suggesting that Robert Kennedy’s alleged assassin was operating in a hypnotic trance. Like John Lennon’s alleged assassin Mark Chapman, he still has no conscious recollection of the shooting.

Although the Los Angeles police destroyed most of the forensic evidence, recent acoustic evidence has surfaced indicating 13 shots were fired – although Sirhan’s 22 only held eight bullets. In addition, all eyewitnesses report that Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy, whereas the fatal shots came from behind (and from a larger caliber weapon).

The evidence Corbett has assembled includes a 1977 interview researcher Mae Brussell conducted with Sirhan’s prison psychologist; Corbett’s interview with a trauma researcher familiar with the declassified documents related to CIA mind control programs (Artichoke, Bluebird and MK-Ultra); the results of a 2011 examination of Sirhan under hypnosis;* and an experiment conducted by British TV hypnotist Derren Brown, in which a hypnotized subject follows a command to shoot  British comedian Stephen Fry.

During the sixties and seventies, US intelligence experimented on 7,800 GIs with hypnosis and drugs, to determine if they could be hypnoprogrammed to kill (as portrayed in the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate).

As Corbett stresses, publicly available information regarding US intelligence mind control experimentation is at least 40 years old. Any material more recent than the 1970s has yet to be declassified. However the bizarre behavior of many alleged shooters in recent false flag events suggests they may have been victims of this type of experimentation.

For a detailed examination of the physical evidence that exonerates Sirhan, see The Robert Kennedy Assassination: Why the Official Story is a Fake


*While under hypnosis he recalled a suggestion he was given that he was at a shooting range and needed to fire at the target.

 

 

 

 

Oral History: CIA Contractor Reveals Role in JFK Assassination

Inside the JFK Assassination

Secret History Productions (2003)

Film Review

This fascinating documentary is the oral history of Chauncy Holt, one of the infamous three tramps arrested in Dealey Plaza plaza following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Although it was recorded in 1997, it would be six years before Holt’s interview was released. He died eight days after its filming. Assassination researcher Jim Fetzer has uncovered evidence that Holt, while hospitalized, was deliberately overdosed on Coumadin by someone posing as a doctor.

The first hour of the video focuses on Holt’s early life as a bootlegger and petty criminal in Kentucky. He was a mathematical genius and firearms expert, with a pilot’s license and expertise in oil painting and forgery. It was his math skills that brought him to the attention of Florida mobster Meyer Lansky. After a brief spell as Lansky’s accountant, the latter referred him to the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division. Holt’s primary function was to oversee the Los Angeles  Stamp and Stationary Company, a CIA front that produced fake IDs and reconditioned firearms for Operation Mongoose, the CIA/Mob operation formed to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro. His immediate CIA supervisor was William King Harvey.

In April 1963, he was ordered to produce fake IDs for Lee Harvey Oswald under various aliases and deliver them to Guy Bannister, who Holt identifies as Oswald’s New Orleans control.

On November 22, 1963, Holt was ordered to deliver forged Secret Service IDs and lapel pins and refurbished rifles and ammunition to Dealey Plaza. He was also ordered to deliver fake Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF) IDs and handguns to CIA operatives Charles Harrelson (father of actor Willy Harrelson) and Richard Montoya.

Holt identifies Harrelson and Rogers as the two other tramps. The FBI ordered them released as they were carrying forged ATF IDs.

Holt claims he had no foreknowledge of the assassination prior to arriving in Dealey Plaza. His CIA handlers told him that Operation Mongoose had organized a violent pro-Castro protest to drum up popular support for a US invasion of Cuba.

How Elites Use Mass Immigration to Suppress Wages and Destroy Unions

The Making and Breaking of Europe

Al Jazeera

Film Review

The Role of the CIA in the Formation of the EU

This is a fascinating documentary tracing the political forces leading to the formation of the EU and the rise of right wing nationalist movements that threaten to break it up. I wasn’t a bit surprised to learn of the role the CIA played in the formation of the EU, via the millions they spent on the Action Committee for the United States of Europe (1955-1975). The CIA’s main goal was to create the false impression that European unification enjoyed wide popular support. There’s never been any doubt in my mind that the EU and the state-like bureaucracy it has created in Brussels mainly serves the interests of banks and corporations seeking to undermine and/or control the democratic process.

Working Class Communities Bear the Brunt of Mass Immigration

This film also takes a refreshingly honest look at mass immigration, a policy European elites championed to support the post-World War II economic boom – it was far cheaper than investing in technological innovation or retraining domestic workers. In fact, this is the first acknowledgement I have seen in mainstream media acknowledging that 1) working class communities have always born the brunt of mass immigration policies and 2) the massive influx of people from other cultures creates immense tensions in any community.

The Use of Immigrants to Crush Unions

In the late 1970s, Thatcher and other neoliberal leaders deliberately used mass immigration in strike breaking and other strategies aimed at crushing unions. The de-industrialization of northern Europe and the loss of good paying jobs would only amplify the tensions this created. As would the 2001 war on terror, the targeted Islamophobia propagated by US and British intelligence and ultimately the painful austerity cuts resulting from 2008 global economic collapse.

There seems to be strong agreement among the four “expert” panelists* that the anti-immigrant backlash should have been predictable – there is no possible way for the EU to accommodate the millions of refugees resulting from the US proxy war in Syria.

Since 2015 the strength of this backlash has fueled electoral victories for right wing nationalist groups in nearly all EU countries. All have campaigned on a dual anti-immigrant and anti-EU platform. In Britain, the rise of the United Kingdom (UKIP) party would lead to Brexit (and a 52% vote to leave the EU) in 2016.


*The panelists include a former Greek prime minster, a member of Hungary’s ruling party and Dr Alina Polykova, research director at the Atlantic Council and co-author of the 2015 The Dark Side of European Integration.

 

Israel’s Secret 40-year War with Iran

The Secret with Iran: The 30-Year Covert Struggle for Control of a “Rogue” State

by Ronen Bergman

Translated by Ronnie Hope

Oneworld (2009)

Book Review

This is a very depressing book. The “secret war” referred to is the covert war Israeli intelligence has fought with Iran over the last [40] years. Most of The Secret War with Iran is an endless chronology of lawless tit-for-tat revenge killings, car bombings, kidnappings and extrajudicial assassinations Israeli intelligence and Hezbollah* impose on one another.

While most of the narrative seems historically accurate, the author’s clear pro-Zionist bias results in a number of troubling inconsistencies. Examples include persistent claims about Iran’s mythical nuclear weapons arsenal – despite verification by US intelligence (see Iran Doesn’t Have a Nuclear Weapons Program) that their nuclear weapons program ceased in 2003; a clear attempt to minimize the role of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine in generating and perpetuating Middle East violence; repeated claims that Iran (rather than Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the CIA) was the key player in the birth of Al Qaeda; and an erroneous assertion that Saddam Hussein expelled UN nuclear inspectors in 1998 (Bill Clinton had them recalled so he could bomb Iraq – see Clinton’s Worst Crimes).

Despite these weaknesses, the book provides valuable insight about the Israeli origin of Iran bashing recently taken up by Trump and the Republican Congress. The book also contains important historical background on Ruhollah Khomeini and the 1979 Iranian revolution to overthrow the ruthless CIA-backed Shah. Prior to reading this book, I was unaware of the role Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) played in training Iran’s Revolutionary Guards nor the role of Iran in training, arming and funding Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia group operating on the Israeli border in southern Lebanon.

After 1948 when the new state of Israel forcibly evicted millions of Palestinians from their lands, a sizeable proportion fled to southern Lebanon where they’re housed in refuge camps to this day. It was these camps that gave rise to the PLO.

After their UN-mandated expulsion from Lebanon in 1987, many PLO fighter returned to Palestine – where they launched the first Intifada.


*Hezbollah is a Shi’ite Islamist political party and milita group based in Lebanon. They enjoy strong support from Lebanon’s civilian population owing to their programs offering health, education and social services the Lebanese government is too poor to provide.

Demise of the American Empire: Pinpointing the Timeline

 

In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

by Alfred W McCoy

Haymarket Books (2016)

Book Review

Prior to 2001 and the launch of the War on Terror, the US political elite adamantly denied (despite massive evidence to the contrary), that the United States was an empire rather than a republic. Because their sudden about face (ie acknowledgement and promotion of US imperialism) was so recent, there has been little opportunity for scholarly analysis of America’s effectiveness as an empire. It’s this void Alfred McCoy seeks to fill with In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.

Competition for Control of the Eurasian Landmass

McCoy traces America’s serious global empire building to their defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898, which won them Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Panama Canal Zone and the Philippines.* He maintains that us strategies for empire-building, like those of the former British empire, have mainly relied on seeking and maintaining control of the “World-Island.” This is a term coined by London School of Economics director Halford Mackinder’s World Island in 1904. Under this concept, the World Island consists of the vast European-Asian landmass that is home to 70% of the world’s population, 75% of its global energy resources and 60% of its current productivity.

How the US Maintains Military Control

After the US became the world’s preeminent superpower after World War II, they have used nine basic strategies to maintain military control of the Eurasian landmass: mass surveillance (based on a system of extensive personal data collection that began during their “pacification”** of the Philippines (1898-1907); CIA covert operations (involving electoral interference, military coups, installation of compliant puppet dictators, targeted assassinations, torture, advanced technological weaponry (electronic senors, satellite imagery, drones, etc) and, increasingly cyperwarfare and space-based weaponry (most information about the latter two is classified).

America Falling Behind China Economically and Militarily

For me the most interesting section of the book examines ways in which the US is rapidly falling behind China – not only economically but militarily. McCoy identifies Bush’s rash decision to invade Iraq as the start of the American empire’s steady decline. While the US has spent the last 16 years mired in unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, China is busily building alliances and investing their trade surplus (from selling Americans cheap consumer goods) in Russia and other countries located in the World Island. In Afghanistan alone, they are responsible for 79% of foreign investment.

Meanwhile China is rapidly creating a single economic zone across the Eurasian landmass, with a vast network of high speed trains and pipelines following historical Silk Road and Tran-Siberian Railway routes – and soon a high speed Southeast Asian and Moscow-Beijing line.

Even the Pentagon-linked Rand Corporation predicts China’s will exceed that of the US by 2030 or sooner. In 2010, China became the world’s leading manufacturing nation. In 2014, it took the lead in the number of new patents it awards annually.

Even more concerning is the rapid decline of US educational standards compared to those of China, which has ominous implications for the development of high tech weaponry. Chinese students consistently score first in math, science and reading, while US students score 27th, 20th and 17th respectively.

By 2025, China is expected to have better long range cruise missiles than the US, better air defense aircraft, better electronic sensors, better digital communications capacity, better computer processing power and better cyber-security. At the same time, they have a significant strategic advantage because the US spreads its military resources so thin by fighting so many foreign wars simultaneously.

According to McCoy, they already have the ability to cripple critical US infrastructure (electrical and telecommunications grid and pipelines) via cyber warfare.

Collapse Predicted Between 2030-2040

McCoy predicts (and makes an excellent case for) the demise of the US empire some time between 2030-2040. It could happen gradually, as US economic and military prowess continues its steady decline – or suddenly, if the loss of its privileged status causes the US dollar to collapse. The impending implosion may be aggravated by climate change, especially if the Pentagon is drawn into wars over dwindling food and water resources or control of massive numbers of climate refugees.


*In a separate development, the Kingdom of Hawai’i was illegally overthrown by The Committee of Safety (a group of wealthy American/European businessmen) in 1998. The Committee of Safety used U.S. Marines to detain the Queen while they announced their takeover of Hawai’i.

**”Pacification” is a military euphemism for violently subjugating the indigenous population of an occupied country.

Originally published in Dissident Voice

 

 

Bill Clinton’s War Against Yugoslavia

The US War on Yugoslavia

Michael Parenti (1999)

This talk, one of my favorites, is 1999 talk about about US empire. It offers quite a stark depiction of a US foreign policy consisting primarily of continual wars of aggression against democratic governments that thwart Wall Street Interests in exploiting their natural resources and labor force.

Parenti begins with a brief overview of colonization, starting with Western Europe’s colonization of the Slavic peoples and England’s colonization of Ireland. He goes on to to describe how India and Africa both enjoyed advanced and wealthy (far more wealthy than Europe) civilizations until they were invaded by European armies and their economies destroyed.

He proceeds with a detailed inventory of America’s continual invasions, bombing campaigns and covert wars around the world. The last half of the presentation focuses on the deliberate break-up of Yugoslavia by the US security state, demolishing the myth perpetuated by the Clinton administration and the US media that ethnic conflict was the cause of the Balkan wars.

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Wall Street elites tolerated a socialist state in Yugoslavia (with free health care, education and public transport and housing) because they viewed Yugoslavian president Josip Tito’s independent socialism as a buffer against the Soviet Union.

The initial US attack against Yugoslavia was economic, when Bush senior, in 1990, persuaded Congress to end lending credits to the Yugoslav government. The legislation they passed stipulated that US banks could only loan money to autonomous Yugoslav regions (Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, etc) provided they declared independence and formed autonomous republics.

Parenti notes the new law was implemented somewhat unevenly, so that only right wing fascist governments qualified for loans. By 1992, internal sanctions against Serbia had resulted in 70% unemployment, widespread malnutrition and collapse of the health care system.

He goes on to provide fresh insight into the background of Slobodan Milosovic – who Clinton described as the “new Hitler” – an anti-communist banker who was the CIA’s first choice to run Serbia. When Milosovic refused to fully embrace US colonization, he was systematically demonized by the Clinton administration and corporate media. In 2006, he would die in prison in the Hague.* The war crimes he was accused of were never substantiated.

Parenti also details the NATO carpet bombing of Serbia (designed to maximize civilian casualty by targeting life support infrastructure, such as power and water filtration plants), the CIA penetration of the Kosova Liberation Army (enabling them to corner the European heroin market), Noam Chomsky’s support for Clinton’s war against Serbia, and the notorious Sarajevo false flag operation (actually carried out by Muslim extremists) used to justify the NATO war against Serbia.


*There is strong evidence he was covertly assassinated: Did NATO’s Kangaroo Court Poison Milosevic?