Tracking Covert Actions into the Future
From Issue No. 42, Fall, 1992

by Philip Agee

Over May Day weekend I was one of several thousand people attending an international solidarity conference in Brussels organized by the Belgian Labor Party. Among the participants were representatives of progressive and revolutionary parties and movements from around the world. The atmosphere was a refreshing reminder that the ideal of socialism, and resistance to exploitation and oppression, are very much alive.

My role was to outline U.S. efforts during the Cold War- mainly through the CIA-to suppress Third World national liberation movements. Additionally, I was asked to speculate on what these movements could expect from the U.S. under the Bush-proclaimed New World Order. Inevitably, questions arose about the much televised burning of Los Angeles. Would it affect Bush in the November elections? Could it be only the beginning? Was it another sign of overall U.S. decline? Los Angeles, I suggested, was the result of the U.S. system working exactly as it is supposed to-the failure being not the existence of poverty, rage, and despair, but the momentary inability of the dominant class and culture to dissuade or distract the "underclass" from taking mass action. The Rodney King beating verdict simply lifted the lid.

The events in L.A. and other cities underlined the domestic system that produces, and is in turn affected by, U.S. foreign policy, including CIA activities. They were also a vivid reminder that the 1990s is a period of transition, with enormous opportunities for change in national priorities-a potential not seen since the late 1940s. The possibilities for positive change in those post-World War II years, not overwhelming to be sure, disappeared when Truman and his team decided in 1950 to start a permanent war economy in the United States. The reason? The U.S. economy, in its traditional trickle-down structure, needed militarism at home and abroad to generate jobs and exports to avoid a return to the 1930s conditions of depression-toward which the economy was then feared to be moving.

Moreover, we cannot recall too often, the ideologists of that time believed that the Soviet Union was out to conquer the world. At stake, as Paul Nitze, former Dillon Read investment banker, wrote in the secret re-militarization plan known as NSC-68, was "the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself." Intensification of the Cold War would plant "the seeds of destruction within the Soviet system" resulting in a fundamental change in the system or its collapse. The plan admitted to being "in effect a policy of calculated and gradual coercion."

Public and congressional opposition to rearmament (the grand plan was kept secret for 25 years) only broke when China entered the war in Korea in late 1950. By 1952, the military budget had more than tripled to $44 billion while the services doubled to 3.6 million men and women. The permanent war economy was a reality. Meanwhile repression of domestic political dissent reached near hysteria.

In the process the CIA's covert operations, already in progress in Europe, expanded worldwide. By 1953, according to the 1970s Senate investigation, there were major covert programs under way in 48 countries, consisting of propaganda, paramilitary, and political action operations. The bureaucracy also grew. In 1949, the Agency's covert action arm had about 300 employees and seven overseas field stations; three years later it had 2,800 employees and 47 field stations. In the same period, the budget for these activities grew from $4.7 million to $82 million.

Covert operations became a way of life, or better said, a way of death, for the millions of people abroad who lost their lives in the process. By the Reagan-Bush period in the 1980s, covert operations were costing billions of dollars. CIA Director William Casey would be quoted as saying that covert action was the "keystone" of U.S. policy in the Third World.

Throughout the CIA's 45 years, one president after an- other has used it to intervene secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, in the domestic affairs of other countries, presuming their affairs were ours. Almost always, money was spent for activities to prop up political forces considered friendly to U.S. interests, or to weaken and destroy those considered unfriendly or threatening.

The friends were easy to define: those who believed and acted like us, took orders, cooperated. Until the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, enemies were also readily recognized: the Soviet Union and its allies, with China having ambiguous status since the 1970s. But how to explain covert action taken against others, not associated with the Soviets? Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia in 1958, Cuba in 1959, Ecuador in 1963, Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1970, Nicaragua in 1979, and Grenada in 1983-to name a few. These governments, and others attacked by the U.S., were left, nationalist, reform-minded, populist or simply uncooperative-and U.S. hostility did indeed drive some of them to seek arms and other support from the Soviet Union. But why initially were they seen as threatening?

What U.S. interests needed protection from these governments or from like-minded movements seeking power? The answers to these questions from the past show the need for continuity in the future. Although the Cold War has ended, the covert and overt interventions which characterized it will surely continue undiminished in the post-Soviet era.

Around 100 years ago, U.S. leaders, like their European counterparts before them, recognized a fundamental strategy for enhancing the domestic economy and at the same time increasing international power. Already U.S. production was too great for the domestic market to absorb, and excess capital was looking for investment overseas. It was essential to ensure access to foreign markets, as well as to cheap resources and labor. These goals required an interventionist foreign policy wherein "their" resources were theirs only by accident of geography. Today the U.S. economy is more dependent than ever on access to foreign resources through the operations of transnational corporations, especially in the Third World. But this access is constantly at risk because those countries so often have grossly unjust, and therefore unstable, domestic systems. Some are autocratic, but many are akin to the U.S., with formal democracy and an entrenched elitist ruling minority. The difference, of course, is that their "underclass" is the mass of the population whereas ours, although increasing, is still proportionally much smaller.

Despite brutal repression, people throughout the Third World disputed not only the right of the U.S. to erode their national sovereignty, but they also challenged the legitimacy of their own ruling minorities-often remnants from colonialism. Their nationalist political and economic agendas meant reduced dependence on, and, therefore reduced control by, the North. Government programs to favor peasants, the working class, and the poor violated free market principles, and were a bad example. Agrarian and urban reform programs violated individual property rights, including those of foreigners. And, worst of all, they were seen to breach U.S.-led anticommunist solidarity. Usually, the CIA mounted covert operations to weaken and destroy the the programs-and with no small success. Local elites, whose privileged position was also threatened by movements for social change, were the CIA's natural allies.

The economics of Cold War domination meant large transfers of wealth from South to North. Consider only the last decade. From 1982-when the debt crisis reached critical mass-to 1990, the net flow of wealth from South to North was $418 billion. This net transfer resulted from average monthly payments of interest and principal of nearly $12.5 billion or a nine-year total of $1.3 trillion. Such payments, as Susan George points out in her recent book, The Debt Boomerang, were only possible through accumulation of new debt by the poor countries, which by the end of 1990 owed 61 percent more than in 1982. Mass misery and environmental destruction in the South are part and parcel of the continuing net transfer.

While the East-West dimension of the Cold War was a stand-off from the beginning, it was here, within the North-South dynamic, that both the economic battle and the shooting wars raged. As long as the underlying rationale-control of resources, labor and markets- remains, these conflicts are bound to continue irrespective of the disappearance of the East-West conflict. And as long as injustice, exploitation, and repression prevail, whether in the form of "structural adjustments" or death squads, people will resist. The U.S. will react to the resulting "instability" as it has for decades: with covert operations mounted against movements for independence, reform, and social justice, whether they have achieved power, as in Cuba, or whether they are struggling for power. Until U.S. definitions of threats, friends, and enemies change - -and they are unlikely to without profound alterations in the U.S. domestic system-its need for covert operations will continue.

For a hint of covert operations in the 1990s and beyond, it is instructive to reconsider some recent examples from the 1980s with emphasis on means and ends.

Central America was a major focus of U.S. attention during this period. Through CIA covert and semi-covert operations, and overt activities as well, the U.S. tried simultaneously to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and to destroy the movement for revolutionary reform in El Salvador, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). In Nicaragua the means were terrorism and destruction through a 10,000-strong surrogate paramilitary force, along with economic blockade, propaganda and diplomatic pressures. About one percent of the population, some 35,000 people, died. In El Salvador, the CIA and U.S. military expanded local military and security forces, and by extension the infamous death squads, to enable the government to fight the FMLN to a standoff. In the effort, the U.S.-backed forces killed over 70,000 people. Although they targeted trade unionists, student activists, human rights advocates and peasant organizers, the majority of the casualties-randomly selected campesinos-were killed or disappeared simply to instill terror. Under the guise of exporting democracy, the CIA and other U.S. agencies in El Salvador promoted "demonstration elections" as public relations exercises to cover their clients' atrocities. The military-controlled civilian government could then be renamed a "fledgling democracy."

In the 1980s, in both Nicaragua and El Salvador, the U.S. introduced a new vehicle for exporting U.S.-style democracy-the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Its origins go back to the early catastrophic scandal that erupted after Agency covert operations were revealed in 1967. I remember the gloom in the CIA when Ramparts magazine revealed the Agency's control and funding of the U.S. National Student Association's (NSA) foreign activities program. Suddenly, because of overlapping funding through U.S. foundations and front groups, the links between the Agency and scores of foreign trade unions, student and youth organizations, political institutes, and publications spread in the U.S. and foreign press. Usually the money flow was from the Agency to a real or bogus foundation, then to a U.S. private organization like NSA or a trade union, and from there to the foreign recipient.

Two months after the revelations began, some members of the House of Representatives, led by Dante Fascell (D-Fla.), proposed legislation to create an "open," government-financed foundation to carry on financing the activities recently revealed as CIA-connected. The idea was to make money available "over-the-table" to foreign political parties, trade unions, student groups and other private organizations-not to eliminate secret CIA money but to provide an alternative, given the perennial problem of recipients in "covering" the CIA money.

The Fascell proposal went nowhere because of the breakdown of the Democratic-Republican "bipartisan" consensus during the Vietnam war. But by 1979, the idea resurfaced with the establishment of the American Political Foundation. Backed by "internationalist" Republicans and "Cold War" Democrats, this institute set out to study the feasibility of government financing of the foreign activities of private U.S. organizations. Participants came from rightwing think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The study-made through "task forces" set up by the two political parties, the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-became known as the "Democracy Program." The participants eventually adopted the West German model of government-financed private foundations linked to each of that country's four main political parties. The program was used in the 1950s to channel CIA "democracy-building" money to the West German parties. By the 1960s these foundations were supporting parties and organizations around the world with West German government money-and at the same time they served as conduits for CIA money to third country organizations.

By the 1980s, the German foundations had programs worth about $150 million in some 60 countries. And they operated in almost total secrecy. Equally appealing was the way the German foundations had been able to sustain like-minded political organizations in countries under dictatorships such as Greece during the "Colonels" regime, Spain under Fran- co, and Portugal under Salazar and Caetano. The arrangement allowed correct government-to-government relations with simulta- neous "private" support to political forces opposed to their governments. These forces, beholden to their donors, would then be in position to fill the political gap on the eventual fall of the dictatorship, excluding communists and others to the left of social democrats. Ronald Reagan, an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Democracy Program, described it in his speech to the British Parliament in June 1982 as building "an infrastructure of democracy" around the world.

Originally he set up a "Project Democracy" in the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) by secret Executive Order, which included participation by CIA Director Casey. When his connection leaked to the press, the CIA's role was supposedly canceled. An early project under this set-up was a $170,000 grant to a U.S. public relations firm, MacKenzie, McCheyne, Inc., which had earlier represented the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. In a kind of finishing school, image-improvement course for murderers, it taught "media officials" in El Salvador and similarly besieged client governments how to deal with U.S. media.

Since the whole idea was to "privatize," and USIA was part of government, its role was only a temporary solution. The future pattern of intervention was more clearly filled out when Congress established the private, non-profit foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, and appropriated $18.8 million in November 1983. The law appropriating the money gave an idea of how private NED was. It stipulated that NED could have no projects of its own- it is purely a funding channel-and that the U.S. government would have full access to NED's files, papers, and financial records. NED officers would have to testify before Congress whenever called. In practice, the Department of State and other government agencies like the CIA are part and parcel of the formulation and approval process of NED projects. Monies appropriated by Congress would pass through NED to any of four private foundations, known as "core groups," set up for the purpose by: 1) the AFL-CIO (the Free Trade Union Institute); 2) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the Center for International Private Enterprise); 3) the Republican Party (the National Republican Institute for International Affairs); and 4) the Democratic Party (the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs). NED, for its part, encouraged others in the private sector to set up foundations for getting money into foreign activities, e.g., media, academics, lawyers and clergy. In the available documentation on NED, I never came across any consideration that these private U.S. organizations might raise funds through public appeals or ask their membership to pay for their foreign programs-i.e., real "privatization." What happened with NED, in fact, was simply a continuation of public funding for intervention in foreign countries using new conduits, with the "private" organizations serving as instruments of U.S. foreign policy. The means and ends, formerly secret and justified by anticommunism, were transformed into an open agenda devoted to promoting U.S.-style democracy.

Each of the four recipient foundations, in statements of purpose, followed the central theme of the Democracy Program study: political action abroad to meet the Soviet "global ideological challenge." Projected beneficiaries covered the spectrum: governments, political parties, information media, professional associations, universities, cooperatives, trade unions, employers' associations, churches, women, youth, and students-in short, all traditional CIA covert action targets.

As for the Soviet Bloc, NED money would be used to promote anticommunist dissidence through propaganda and support to émigré groups and internal opposition movements. Projected activities included conferences, exchange-of-persons, seminars, training programs, publications, and, above all, financial support. NED as a mega-conduit also expanded possibilities for "open" funding of activities controlled behind the scenes by the Agency, as well as the means for spotting potential recruits as sources of intelligence and agents of influence.

Panama was an early example of political intervention through NED. For the 1984 elections, General Manuel Antonio Noriega selected an economist, Nicolas Ardito Barletta, as presidential candidate of the military-controlled Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). Barletta was a vice president of the World Bank and former student of Secretary of State George Shultz at the University of Chicago. The other candidate was no friend of the U.S. Arnulfo Arias' long political career had centered on nationalism and populism. The U.S. feared that, if elected, his anti-military platform would bring instability to Panama.

The U.S. interest was to ensure that a new Panamanian president would continue to cooperate with U.S. efforts to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and to defeat the insurgency in El Salvador. Noriega, a long-time CIA "asset," was at the time providing services of great importance to the U.S., allowing Panama to be used for Contra training and resupply bases, as well as for training Salvadoran military officers. Barletta's election would assure untroubled continuation of these activities.

During the election campaign, NED money passed through the AFL-CIO's Free Trade Union Institute to finance Panamanian unions which actively supported Barletta. A vote-count fraud organized by Noriega gave Barletta his election victory, but the Reagan-Bush administration made no protest even though the U.S. Embassy count showed Arias the winner by 4,000-8,000 votes.

Reagan received Barletta in the White House and Shultz attended his inauguration. A more thorough study of the 1984 Panamanian elections would probably uncover more NED money and suggest the passage of CIA funds as well. By 1987, Noriega's usefulness to the U.S. was coming to an end. Procedures were under way for his indictment by the Justice Department for drug trafficking, and U.S. agencies, including the CIA, began plotting to remove him from power.

In the spring of 1987, NED financed a trip by the president of the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Aurelio Barria, to the Philippines. The purpose was for Barria to learn the operation of a Filipino national civic and political action organization, NAMFREL (National Movement for Free Elections). Originally set up by the CIA in 1951 as a vehicle for the presidential election of the Agency's man, Ramon Magsaysay, NAMFREL had played a key role in monitoring the 1986 Philippine elections. Through parallel tabulation, NAMFREL was able to expose the fraudulent "re-election" of Ferdinand Marcos and then help mobilize the "people power" that forced him out. As it happened, the Agency for International Development (AID) gave NAMFREL nearly $1 million for its work in the 1986 election. The funds were channeled through NED and the Asia Foundation (set up by the CIA in the 1950s as a funding front).

Aurelio Barria's planned role was to set up a NAMFREL-style organization in Panama in preparation for 1989 elections-still almost two years away-in the likelihood that Noriega would again manipulate the count. However, just as Barria returned from Manila, Noriega's number two in the Panamanian Defense Force, Col. Roberto Diaz Herrera, precipitated a national crisis by going public with sensational accusations against Noriega, including political murder and the rigging of the 1984 election. Spontaneous anti- Noriega demon- strations followed, with thousands rioting against No- riega's police.

Barria moved quickly into the lead of the anti-Noriega movement. On the first day of demonstrations, he launched his Panamanian NAMFREL as the Civic Crusade for Justice and Liberty. Some two hundred pro- fessional, business, religious and civic organizations participated.

For a week the demonstrations continued, with Barria's Civic Crusade leading the call for civil disobedience, a national strike, and Noriega's resignation. Noriega survived that crisis, but the Civic Crusade, which evolved into a minority White, upper-class movement, continued its campaign of agitation through, and beyond, the 1989 election. Noriega eventually nullified that election when the Crusade's (and the U.S.'s) preferred presidential candidate, Guillermo Endara, appeared to be winning. With the CIA behind the scenes manipulating the Civic Crusade, the events in Panama which culminated in the invasion followed a pattern well-established in many other countries besides the Philippines. One close observer of Panama, the journalist John Dinges, wrote of "at least five covert action plans to get rid of Noriega." In addition, the CIA reportedly had a budget of $10 million for support to Endara in the 1989 elections. In the end, only U.S. military invasion would end Noriega's rule, and the Civic Crusade, by creating a lynching atmosphere outside the Papal Nuncio's residence, would force the General to surrender. The lessons of the Noriega saga are clear enough. The Bush justification of the invasion-to combat drug trafficking and bring Noriega to justice- could not be the real reason because the CIA and other agencies had known of his drug dealing since the early 1970s. The real reasons were that Noriega was no longer needed for support of U.S. goals in Nicaragua and El Salvador, had become an embarrassment by defying U.S. hegemony, and was himself the source of instability in Panama. Using Noriega as a pretext for invasion, the Bush administration could destroy the Panamanian Defense Forces and reverse the social reforms favoring the poor majority, mostly Black and mulatto, that had been underway since the Torrijos period began in 1968. With the traditional White political elite back in power, the door was open to retaining U.S. military bases and control of the Panama Canal past the 1999 turnover date set by the Carter-Torrijos treaties.

On the night of the invasion, Guillermo Endara, representative of the White upper class, was sworn in as President on a U.S. military base, and democracy was "restored." Within a short time, drug dealing and money laundering in Panama would exceed that of the Noriega period, and poor Panamanians would presumably be back in their place--in poverty and under control. But resistance to U.S.-imposed rule continued, as George Bush could plainly see-through eyes smarting from tear gas-as he was whisked from the speakers' platform in Panama where he stopped in May 1992 on his way to the Rio Earth Summit.

Military force was also required to "restore democracy" in Nicaragua. In this case, however, the invasion was carried out by a surrogate army of 10,000 Contras built by the CIA around the remnants of the 43-year Somoza dictatorship's National Guard, itself a U.S. creation. Beginning in 1981, through terrorism, atrocity and destruction, this force gradually bled the economy, undermined Sandinista social programs, and demoralized a large sector of the population which had benefited during the revolution's early years. By 1990, faced with nothing but worsening poverty and continuing terror, the Nicaraguan electorate-as if with a loaded pistol to the head-gave victory to the Nicaraguan Opposition Union (UNO). This anti-Sandinista coalition was created and financed by various U.S. agencies, including the CIA and NED.

Anyone with a modest acquaintance with U.S. national security doctrine since World War II would have assumed that the 1979 Sandinista revolution could never be acceptable to the elites who control the United States. After all, the Sandinistas were of a similar cut to the Cuban revolution which, in 1959, triumphed against another U.S.-backed dictator. Worse, the Cubans, and later the Sandinistas, established policies designed to benefit the majority of the people, especially peasants and workers, through agrarian reform, literacy campaigns, and expansion of education, health care, and mass organizations among women, youth and students, small farmers, and others. Property rights, especially of the minority upper classes, would have to yield if reform programs were to be effective, as would the rights of foreign capital. As occurred in Cuba and in Nicaragua, mass mobilization of the beneficiary population-the vast majority-was an ugly and threatening sight, another bad example breaking traditional apathy and fatalism by giving lower-class people hope, confidence, and dignity. Intervening in the human marketplace and upsetting the "natural order" of rewards and punishments for the defenseless smacked of "communism."

In order to undermine links between the Sandinistas and the people, the CIA deflected the Contras away from the Nicaraguan military toward "soft" targets having minimum defenses: cooperatives, clinics, schools, and infrastructure like roads and bridges, committing numerous atrocities along the way. Specialized teams of mercenaries destroyed port installations and mined harbors. As a result, average individual consumption dropped 61 percent between 1980 and 1988. One estimate puts the U.S. investment in the Contra war at $1 billion. Though the Contras successfully sabotaged the economy and terrorized large sectors of the rural population, they failed to defeat the Sandinista military or even to take and hold the smallest town for any length of time. Meanwhile the U.S. economic blockade, both the bilateral trade embargo and the blocking of loans from multilateral lending institutions, cost the economy $3 billion.

Eventually the World Court ruled that the United States was carrying on a war against Nicaragua in violation of international law and ordered $17 billion in reparations, an order which the U.S. predictably ignored.

From the beginning of the war against Nicaragua, the Reagan-Bush administration faced the problem of overcoming public opposition at home. The solution was to repeat Edward W. Barrett's 1950 domestic propaganda campaign to "sell the Soviet threat" and thus reduce opposition to the programs of NSC-68. In 1982, a CIA propaganda specialist, Walter Raymond, moved from the Agency to the National Security Council to head the campaign while the Contras, under CIA direction, began their own PR campaign in the U.S. Controlled behind the scenes by Raymond and officials running the Contra war, a public front was set up in the State Department as the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean. This office then handled the contacts with think tanks, researchers and, most importantly, the U.S. media.

The purpose was to place, in the public's imagination, black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on the Contras. In effect, it became a huge government campaign using taxpayer money to propagandize the same taxpayers and their representatives in Congress. Following various revelations, a congressional investigation concluded in 1987 that the campaign had been illegal. Nevertheless, this Ministry of Truth played a successful role in building the U.S. media consensus that the Sandinistas were unacceptable and must be driven from power.

By 1987 it was clear that, although they could continue to terrorize and destroy infrastructure, the Contras could never win a military victory. That year the Central American presidents, in the Esquipulas Accords, agreed to end Contra activities on their territories, thus beginning the process that eventually led to a ceasefire. The agreements also shifted attention to the political struggle within Nicaragua that would culminate in the 1990 elections. During the interim of two-and-a-half years, the CIA, NED, and other U.S. agencies would intervene with massive psychological, economic, and political engineering programs, probably unprecedented in relation to Nicaragua's population of 3.5 million. By then, they could lay the blame for Nicaragua's economic collapse on the Sandinistas as well as exploit the FSLN's own mistakes.

The U.S. plan called for mobilizing three main bodies: a political coalition to oppose the Sandinistas, a trade union coalition, and a mass civic organization. Within these three main sectors, sub-groups would focus on youth and students, women, religious organizations, and others. Media operations would be central to the campaign, which would include seminars, training of activists, and grass roots organizing.

The first sector, the political coalition, was forged by the U.S. Embassy in Managua from some two dozen disparate and conflicting factions by letting it be known that money would be available only to those that "got on board." The result was UNO, whose electoral budget was prepared in the U.S. Embassy, and whose presidential candidate, Violeta Chamorro, owned the anti-Sandinista daily La Prensa, which had received CIA money from early on.

The second sector, the labor coalition, came into being as the Permanent Workers Congress (CPT). This organization, crucial to using the economic crisis as a principal campaign issue, grouped five union centers for propaganda and voter registration. Some of these unions had also received prior U.S. funding. The third sector, the civic organization, became Via Cívica following the NAMFREL and Cruzada Cívica examples in the Philippines and Panama. Although self-described as "non-partisan," it functioned in concert with UNO and CPT.

The National Endowment for Democracy spent at least $12.5 million to finance this structure, passing out the money to the Democratic and Republican parties' institutes mentioned above, as well as to the AFL-CIO, which in turn passed the money to recipients in Nicaragua. Other NED money went to an array of intermediary organizations in the U.S. and other countries that spent it for programs in training, pro- paganda and support for the coalitions. In all, NED funds were the equivalent of a $2 billion foreign intervention in a U.S. election. The CIA, in addition, is estimated to have spent $11 million, possibly even more, in the election.

Not to be forgotten, the still-armed and U.S.-financed Contras played a key role in the election. During the summer of 1989, taking advantage of a Sandinista unilateral ceasefire then in effect, they began large-scale infiltration of forces from bases in Honduras. They ended months of relative calm, elevating their military actions from an average of 100 per month during the first six months of 1989 to 300 per month by October, four months before the election. In the seven months from August 1989 to the February 1990 election, the Contras killed dozens and kidnapped some 700 civilians, including 50 Sandinista campaign officials. During the same period, they openly campaigned for UNO, distributing leaflets and threatening peasants if they failed to vote UNO. By election time Nicaraguan voters, whose per capita standard of living was declining to the Haitian level, were given a grim choice in this "free and fair" election: Vote for the Sandinistas and the ten-year war will go on with ever- worsening poverty and violence; or, vote for UNO and the war and economic blockade will end and the U.S. will help finance reconstruction. UNO won 55 percent of the vote, the Contras were partially disarmed, and modest amounts of U.S. aid began to flow-nothing, however, in comparison with the destruction visited by the U.S. on Nicaragua during the Contra war. Two years into the Chamorro government, UNO had split over the depth and pace of rolling back the revolution and had failed to make good its pledges of land and other support for former Contras and Sandinista military alike. The Sandinistas still controlled the army and police and were still the largest and best organized of the political parties. The U.S. government was far from happy with Chamorro's failure to de-Sandinize Nicaragua, and the drug trade, never a problem during the 11-year Sandinista rule, was becoming a national plague, both in consumption and transshipment to the U.S. And conflict over such matters as land titles meant continuing instability. For many, if not most, the war and devastation continued.

The manner in which the U.S. "restored democracy" in Panama and Nicaragua taught rich lessons. Cuban leadership, fully aware that any opening for U.S.-exported elections would mean tens of millions of dollars of NED, CIA, and other foreign money for "electoral counter-revolution," rejected such an option. The FMLN in El Salvador, converting to a political party following the 1992 peace accords, will have the Nicaraguan experience to elucidate U.S. intervention against them in elections scheduled for 1994. And, back in Nicaragua, the CIA-NED-AID machinery is still operating to prevent the Sandinistas' return to power in the 1996 election.

The current U.S. defense plan, at $1.5 trillion for the next five years, suggests that the money will be there for covert interventions. The Bush plan, largely accepted by both houses of Congress, calls for a mere three percent reduction in defense spending under projections made before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. According to Robert Gates, Director of Central Intelligence, reductions in the intelligence community budget-hidden in the overall defense budget but generally believed to be in excess of $31 billion-will begin at only 2.5 percent. Meanwhile plans under discussion in Congress for reorganizing the whole intelligence community would maintain the capability and legality, under U.S. law at least, of covert operations.

As the Defense Department, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies have had to articulate new justifications for their budgets now that the Soviet menace is gone. In collection and analysis, announced targets include: arms control agreements; economic matters; the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; terrorism; the drug trade; Islamic fundamentalism; and regional, ethnic, and national disputes. Generally they argued: With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the world is far less stable, less predictable, and even more dangerous than before. More suggestive of future intelligence operations was the 1992 series of leaks of highly classified Pentagon documents on military planning. The first, in February, was a 70-page study projecting U.S. military requirements over the next ten years. The report outlined seven possible scenarios which U.S. forces would have to be prepared to face, and, presumably, would require those $1.5 trillion for the first five years.

  • war with Iraq
  • war with North Korea
  • simultaneous wars with both Iraq and North Korea
  • a war to defend a Baltic state from a resurgent and expansionist Russia
  • war to defend the lives of U.S. citizens threatened by instability in the Philippines
  • war to defend the Panamanian government and the canal against "narco-terrorists"
  • the emergence of an anti-U.S. global "adversarial rival" or an "aggressive expansionist international coalition."
  • The following month the New York Times published excerpts from another classified Pentagon document revealing the latest military policy to which the war scenarios were linked. This 46-page document, known formally as "Defense Planning Guidance-1994-99" was, according to the Times, the product of deliberations among President Bush, the National Security Council and the Pentagon. Its importance in prolonging U.S. militarism and the war economy into the 21st century could equal NSC-68's role in beginning the Cold War arms race in 1950.

    The goal of world hegemony expressed in the 1992 document should be as alarming to current U.S. friends such as Japan and NATO allies as to adversaries. "Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any future global competitor.... Our first objective is to prevent the emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere...."

    Notably lacking was any mention of collective settlement of disputes through the United Nations, although future multilateral actions through coalitions, as in the Gulf War, were not ruled out. And in order to prevent acquisition of nuclear weapons by potential adversaries, the U.S. asserted the need to be ready for unilateral military action.

    As for Washington's friends, both Japan and Western Europe would be locked into security arrangements dominated by the United States. Without mentioning countries, the U.S. "must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order.... [W]e must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

    The document went on to suggest how to prevent Europe, with Germany in the lead, from becoming an independent regional arbiter in its own territory. "Therefore it is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary channel for U.S. influence....[W]e seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance's integrated command structure, ...a substantial American presence in Europe is vital..."

    Publication of the globo-bully unipolar plan for the New World Order caused the diplomatic blowback one would expect, an unwanted new debate in Congress, and wide criticism in the media. To no one's surprise, two months later a secret rewrite of the plan leaked again to the media-this time no doubt intended to quell the uproar from the earlier plan. Gone was the potential threat from allies and the projected global U.S. unilateralism.

    The first goal of U.S. defense planning in the rewrite was deterrence of attack, followed by strengthening alliances, and preventing "any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies." Cooperation was now the theme, although the rewrite also reserved the U.S. right to unilateral military intervention. In addition, the original seven war scenarios remained the basis for budget requests.

    None of the three documents was published in full, and the New York Times refused to share copies. Nevertheless, three observations can be made on the commentaries and excerpts that came out in the leaks. First, the rewrite did not preclude or renounce any of the ideas contained in the previous version. Second, the budget of $1.5 trillion and the base force of 1.6 million remain. Third, the purpose of the rewrite was doubtless to assuage critics and allies, while the true goal remains U.S. world hegemony.

    The good news, sort of, is that the goals are unattainable. The U.S. economy cannot support global unilateralism or even war against a country like Iraq. How then, with its notorious debt and deficit, can it possibly impose its will on Japan and Europe, especially if the French-German Eurocorps takes hold in the military sphere independent of U.S. influence in NATO? This French initiative flies in the face of U.S. policy to keep European defense under U.S. domination in NATO and could be the beginning of the end of that policy. Little wonder that U.S.-French relations are so sour.

    Keeping in mind that covert operations, as well as overt diplomacy, are supposed to prevent war or the need to use military force-including the seven scenarios-consider how this would be done. To keep Russia from resurging, expanding, and again rivaling the U.S.-like the sci-fi "blob"-that country must remain hopelessly indebted and dependent on imports of basic necessities. Aid must be calibrated to keep Russia stable without allowing the economy to "take off" on its own steam. For these purposes the usual instruments will suffice: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Russia's military industries must be dismantled or converted to alternative production, and the country locked into security arrangements, perhaps eventually in NATO. Western experts, especially from the U.S., must penetrate its economic and political decision-making and its most advanced research in science and technology. No one political party should become dominant, and, where possible, Western parties should establish close working relations with Russian parties. Ultra-nationalists must be discredited and shackled along with unreconstructed remnants of the old regime. The media should be filled with Western and Western-style programming, including consumerism, info-tainment for news, and healthy doses of anticommunist and pro-free market propaganda. The same would hold for the other countries of the former Soviet Union.

    The whole area is like Germany and Italy after World War II, wide open for a double whammy from the CIA and its new sidekick, the NED-and all the Western "private" organizations they use. As with European fascists and the scant de-nazification that occurred, the new Russia can be built on communists-turned-liberals or social democrats, or even, why not, conservatives and Christian Democrats. As after World War II, the usual suspects can be targeted, neutralized or co-opted: political parties, military and security services, trade unions, women's organizations, youth and students, business, professional and cultural societies, and, probably most important, the media.

    Pure fantasy? Just imagine. If Carl Bernstein's long report in Time on the 1980s operations of the CIA, NED, Vatican, and their vast network to undo communism in Eastern Europe had any truth, and I believe it did, then can anyone imagine that, with their feet already through the door, they wouldn't follow up their success? The beneficiaries of this and other 1980s operations are now the key to transforming former Soviet bloc countries into traditional Third World-style markets and sources of raw materials and cheap labor. The CIA- NED team can be crucial in exercising political influence and in forming the permanent structures to assure that American transnationals get their hot hands, in the race against Germany, on the resource-richest land mass on the globe.

    How to avoid another war with Iraq? United Nations sanctions and reparations payments can keep Iraq weak for a long time, while Saddam's continuation in power avoids the possibly even worse alternatives. Meanwhile covert operations can be useful for planning a cooperative, post-Saddam Iraq. Until then, we can expect cultivation of contacts within the Ba'ath movement, support for exile groups, clandestine radio and television broadcasts, joint efforts with "moderate" Arab governments and allies, and occasional destabilization like flooding the country with counterfeit currency. The Bush administration, according to the New York Times, is seeking $40 million for these covert operations in 1993, a nearly three-fold increase over 1992.

    How to avoid another war with North Korea? Keep South Korea strong as a deterrent and a U.S. troop presence to trigger military intervention should hostilities break out. Make certain that reunification talks lead toward the German solution, i.e., absorption of North Korea by the South. Use propaganda and cross-border contacts to foment dissidence in North Korea while conditioning any benefits on relaxation of internal controls, especially of the media. Repeat the CIA-NED strategy in Eastern Europe whenever an opening occurs. As for the Philippines, absent agrarian and other significant reforms, U.S. military intervention could be a last resort should the New People's Army achieve enough momentum to create significant destabilization or even victory. For the time being, continue the CIA-Pentagon "low-intensity" methods already under way. If unsuccessful, and stalemate continues, consider a negotiated settlement as in El Salvador and rely on CIA-NED electoral intervention to exclude the National Democratic Front from power.

    The projected scenario of defending the Panama Canal from "narco-terrorists" is ironic, given the drug connections of the people that Operation Just Cause put into power. And why "narco-terrorists" would threaten U.S. access to the canal is difficult to imagine. If reports are true that drug trafficking and money laundering in Panama now exceed the Noriega era, the dealers ought to be quite happy with things as they are. With Noriega out of the way, the CIA-NED duet can take care of the local political scene, preventing resurgence of nationalism and Torrijismo while assuring retention of U.S. bases and control of the canal.

    The same could be said of the electoral processes of any Third World country. CIA-NED preparations are no doubt already under way for defeating obvious coming electoral threats: the FMLN in El Salvador in 1994, the Workers' Party of Brazil in 1994, and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in 1996-to mention only three examples in Latin America. The goal is to exclude from power the likes of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose 1990 election in Haiti was a severe and unusual embarrassment for the system.

    Many other scenarios for overt and covert intervention come to mind. The Shining Path in Peru is particularly worrisome for CIA-Pentagon planners in "regional and national" conflict management. So far, it seems, the standard "low intensity" methods have not been notably successful, nor has Peruvian government and military cooperation been ideal. In a region where nearly half the population now lives under the official poverty line, a victory by this guerrilla force would reverberate like nothing since the Sandinista revolution in 1979. Collective action, including military intervention through the Organization of American States, might be possible in the case of Peru. Also possible is the whole range of covert and semi-covert interventions practiced against Cuba for many years and in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia, and elsewhere around the globe.

    One could go on, but the point is made. Worldwide opportunities and needs for covert operations will remain as long as stability, control, and hegemony form the cornerstone of a U.S. policy that permits no rotten apples or bad examples. And the Pentagon budget is not the only indicator of continuity. In late 1991, Congress passed the National Security Education Act providing $150 million in "start-up" money for development and expansion of university programs in area and language studies, and for scholarships, including foreign studies, for the next generation of national security state bureaucrats. Notable is the fact that this program is not to be administered by the Department of Education but by the Pentagon, the CIA, and other security agencies. Alternatives to continuing militarism abroad and social decay at home exist, as any reader of the alternative press knows quite well. The House Black Caucus/Progressive Caucus budget, providing for 50 percent reduction in military spending over four years, got a full day's debate last March on the House floor and won 77 votes, far more than Bush's budget-stirring no mainstream reporting, non-news as it had to be. Steps toward formation of new political parties, the green movement, and community organizing are also encouraging.

    Yet militarism and world domination continue to be the main national priority, with covert operations playing an integral role. Everyone knows that as long as this continues, there will be no solutions to domestic troubles, and the U.S. will continue to decline while growing more separate and unequal. Can anyone doubt that the events of Los Angeles will recur? Those struggling in the 1990s for change would do well to remember the repression visited on progressive movements following both World Wars and during the Vietnam War. The government has no more Red Menace to whip up hysteria, but the "war on drugs" seems to be quite adequate for justifying law enforcement practices that have political applications as well. The hunt for aliens and their deportation, and the use of sophisticated methods of repression following the Los Angeles uprising, reveal what has been quietly continuing below the surface for years. We should be on notice that in the current political climate, with clamor for change everywhere, the guardians of traditional power will not give up without a fight. They will find their "threats" and "enemies" in Black youths, undocumented immigrants, environmentalists, feminists, gays and lesbians, and go on to more "mainstream" opponents in attempts, including do- mestic covert operations, to divide and discredit the larger movement for reform.

    At the Brussels conference, I felt incoherent when asked by someone in the auditorium to comment on problems of the U.S. left in convincing people that progressive alternatives are in the majority's best interest. After I rambled for a while about media, education, divisions, and repression, a man stood up and said: "I'm from Brazil. They say we're Third World and you're First World, but I don't think we're that different. We have a lot of the same problems. But in 1989 the Workers' Party of Brazil, only ten years old, almost won the presidency and may win next time. Maybe the more you get like us, the more people in your country will start to listen."


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