Saturday, December 28, 2013

Will Obama's Covert Actions In Egypt Haunt America In Future Decades The Way Eisenhower's Covert Actions In Iran Haunt Us Today?


Everyone blames Nazi-sympathizer John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's Secretary of State, and his bumbling and incompetent brother, Allen, head of the CIA, for the unintended consequences brought on by the violent CIA overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh. History blames them-- and history was meant to blame them. Eisenhower's fingers are nowhere near any of that stuff-- only on his revered speech warning Americans about the Military-Industrial Complex. Eisenhower, who desperately wanted a cheap "victory" against communism, is more to blame than the venal Dulles brothers. He bought in to the fabrication-- a direct precursor of the Big Lie about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction-- that the anti-Communist Mosaddegh was a Soviet puppet or, when that became too implausible even for the most simpleminded of foreign policy observers, that he was so weak that the Soviets could and soon would overthrow him... and the next step would be landings in Omaha and Salt Lake City.

Eisenhower cut taxes on the rich and paid for that, in part, with slashing the Pentagon budget, primarily shrinking the size of the military. But he decided it would be cheaper and more effective to use covert wars against fifth-rate powers to project a sense of supposed American omnipotence around the world. The effects of the policy were an unmitigated disaster that is still playing out in Iran, the Congo, Cuba and several other countries. It was such an unmitigated disaster that Obama seems to have embraced an updated version of the dreadful strategy in, among other places, Egypt. We'll get back to Egypt in a moment. This is from Stephen Kinzer's fantastic new book about the Dulles brothers, The Brothers.
"Moscow's involvement with Iran was negligible," the historian Richard Immerman later concluded, but [Foster] Dulles could not distinguish between indigenous nationalism and imported communism."

..."Eisenhower participated in none of the meetings that set up Ajax [the overthrow of Mosaddegh's popular government and the installation of a repressive fascist dictatorship]; he received only oral reports on the plan; and he did not discuss it with his cabinet or the NSA," Stephen Ambrose wrote in his biography of Eisenhower. "Establishing a pattern he would hold to throughout his presidency, he kept his distance and left no documents behind that could implicate the President in any proposed coup. But in the privacy of the Oval Office, over cocktails, he was kept informed by Foster Dulles, and he maintained a tight control over the activities of the CIA."
Wednesday, the NY Times reported that the Obama-backed repressive military junta that overthrew Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has now outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a very big deal and it is bound to play out over decades.
Egypt’s military-backed leaders on Wednesday designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, outlawing the country’s most successful political movement and vowing to treat anyone who belongs to it, or even takes part in its activities, as a terrorist.

Egypt’s leaders have been in conflict with the movement since July, when the military deposed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president and a former Brotherhood leader. State forces have killed hundreds of the group’s supporters during protests against Mr. Morsi’s removal. Most of its leaders and thousands of its members have been imprisoned.

Now, with Wednesday’s decision, the government signaled its determination to cut off any air to the more than 80-year-old Islamist organization.

Analysts said the designation opened the door to the most severe crackdown on the movement in decades, requiring hundreds of thousands of Brotherhood members to abandon the group or face prison, and granting the military and the police new authority to suppress protests. The decision makes it a crime to promote the Brotherhood and could also outlaw hundreds of welfare and charitable organizations affiliated with the movement that help Egyptians with little access to government services.

The move came a day after officials blamed the Brotherhood for a suicide bombing at a police headquarters north of Cairo that killed 16 people, though on Wednesday a separate group-- Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has derided the Brotherhood for its lack of militancy-- claimed responsibility for that bombing.

The government was not swayed. In announcing the designation, it again blamed the Brotherhood for bombing the police headquarters, without supplying evidence that the Brotherhood was responsible.

Officials framed their decision as part of a long struggle between the state and a militant movement, making no mention of the Brotherhood’s more recent emergence as the most successful force in democratic elections after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. “The Muslim Brotherhood remains as it has been,” the cabinet said in a statement. “It only knows violence as a tool.”

The designation represented a victory for government hard-liners who have sought to eradicate the Brotherhood since the military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi in July and who cast doubt on the repeated promises by officials of an inclusive, democratic transition. It appeared to set Egypt, which has been in crisis since the military takeover, on an even more precarious course.

Khalil al-Anani, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington who studies the Brotherhood, called the designation “a turning point” and said it could lead Egypt to a civil conflict like the one in Algeria in the 1990s.

“This is a big miscalculation from the government,” he said. “It is a massive social movement, whose supporters might retaliate or fight back.”

With most of the Brotherhood’s senior leaders already imprisoned, he said, “there is a lack of communication between the leadership and young Brotherhood members. And these people can be dragged to the violent path.”

With the decision on Wednesday, the current government moved against the group even more aggressively than had been the case under Mr. Mubarak, who ruled for three decades before being deposed by the uprising in 2011. In the Mubarak era, the Brotherhood was banned and its leaders were imprisoned, but some members could participate in politics, and the group’s social organizations and charities were permitted to operate.

Mr. Anani said that the cabinet decision would not have been announced without the blessing of the military and the powerful defense chief, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. The military was giving the police “carte blanche,” he said. “They don’t have a political solution,” he said.

In a statement, the cabinet said that the authorities would punish anyone who joined the Brotherhood or remained a member, as well as “those who take part in the activity” of the group or “promotes it by speech, writing or any other means and all those who fund its activities.” The law mandates a maximum five-year sentence for joining a banned group, but allows judges to impose lengthier sentences if terrorism is involved.
The Times dug deeper Thursday as the junta went on the offensive against Brotherhood members, announcing "dozens of arrests across the country, and the seizure of land, stocks and vehicles belonging to the Islamist movement’s members."
Social and charitable groups even loosely associated with the group struggled after their funds were frozen by the state. It was a new level of disruption to a society already riven by violence and suspicion in the months since the military ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president and a Brotherhood leader.

Egypt’s new leaders clearly signaled that they had opened a wide-ranging and possibly protracted war on every facet of the Brotherhood’s activities, with the terrorism designation giving the security forces greater latitude to stamp out a group deeply rooted in Egyptian social and civic life. The government had also sought to deny the group foreign help or shelter, urging other Arab governments to honor an antiterrorism agreement and shun the organization.

...The defense minister, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, set the official tone, vowing to eradicate those who try to harm Egypt from “the face of the Earth,” according to a statement released by the military.

“Don’t let these treacherous terrorist incidents affect you or your spirits,” he said, speaking of recent bombings by militants for which the government has blamed the Brotherhood. “We’re on the side of pronounced righteousness.”

The police announced the first arrests under the terror designation, charging 16 Brotherhood supporters in Sharqiya Province with belonging to a terrorist group. That charge carries a five-year prison sentence, the Interior Ministry said, but leaders of the Brotherhood potentially face execution.
Now let's skip back to an interview Terry Gross of NPR did with Kinzer in October. "The way you describe it, John Foster Dulles, as secretary of state, plotted a new kind of war; and then Allen Dulles, as head of the CIA, waged those wars covertly. So describe what their working relationship was when plotting to overthrow leaders they thought opposed what was in America's best interest," asked Gross.
KINZER: We have very little written record of the relationship between the two of them. And the reason is, they would speak on the phone several times a day; they would meet after work sometimes or on weekends; and it just took a wink or a nod, sometimes literally, for these huge operations to be carried out. They had the full blessing of President Eisenhower, and they didn't do anything behind his back. But he gave them, more or less, free rein, and they functioned as kind of two jaws of a serpent that are kind of not connected but working towards the same goal. Foster Dulles would provide the diplomatic backdrop and the political motivation that American citizens would hear, and then Allen would carry out the operation secretly.

GROSS: What were the major coups or overthrows they engineered?

KINZER: I think the main theme of this book that is new is that during the 1950s - which according to most histories, was a period of peace in the world - actually, we were involved in a continual secret war. Nobody noticed it because it was covert. I use this phrase monsters to describe the enemies that the Dulles brothers struck out against. That's a word that John Quincy Adams used in a famous speech, when he said America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. But the Dulles brothers did.

They saw enemies everywhere, and they waged one war after another, in a sense merging these into one single conflict. The first two monsters they struck out against were people against whom they had grudges from their days as corporate lawyers. Their job was to protect the interests of big American corporations in foreign countries, and in 1951they failed twice.

Two of their major clients were attacked by foreign leaders, and they couldn't do anything to protect their clients. In Guatemala, the United Fruit Company, which was a longtime client of the Dulles brothers, was affected by a land reform law. And around the same time, the government of Iran nationalized its oil industry, and the oil company that they nationalized had used as its financial agent a bank that the Dulles brothers represented and on whose board Allen Dulles sat.

So this represented an unaccustomed failure for the Dulles brothers. They developed deep grudges against President Arbenz of Guatemala and Prime Minister Mosaddegh of Iran. They carried those grudges into office, and within the first 18 months of their terms in office, they had disposed of both of those leaders. So those were the first two.

Then they began developing new ideas of who the real monsters in the world were. In my book I talk about their efforts to foment civil war in Indonesia; their terribly tragic decision to get involved in Vietnam, which led to the entire American war there; and their actions against Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in The Congo and Fidel Castro in Cuba.

There were some others that they were interested in trying to topple, like Nassir in Egypt and Nehru in India, all of them believers in neutralism, which was a horrible concept to the Dulles brothers, but those operations didn't succeed, and we are now living with the legacies of both their failed operations and their successful ones.

GROSS: Yeah, we'll get to some of the legacies a little bit later. When you say neutralism, they saw the world as divided between communism and the free world, and if a country was neutral, why was that a bad thing?

KINZER: Actually, President Sukarno asked that question to Foster Dulles, and Dulles told him our policy is global. He even used the word immoral to describe the concept of neutralism. He believed that everything that happened in the world during the 1950s was part of the Cold War.

For example, it wasn't conceivable to him that land reform in Guatemala could be a project that Guatemalans had designed to deal with a Guatemalan situation. He just assumed that it had been ordered by the Kremlin. They had this view of the world, which I think was implanted in them from a very young age, that there's good and evil, and it's the obligation of the good people to go out into the world and destroy the evil ones.

...They had no concept of what we now call blowback. They had no idea that operations that seemed successful at first might have terrible long-term effects that wouldn't even be visible for decades, or even generations.

...The prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the parliament of Iran decided in the early 1950s to nationalize their oil industry. That was a challenge not only to the oil industry worldwide but to the entire economic system by which the world was ruled. That system was based on the idea that corporations in rich countries had the right to extract resources from poor countries and find markets in poor countries.

And it also assumed that those companies should have the right to operate in those countries under rules that they themselves set. So Mosaddegh's nationalization of the oil industry was profound. In addition, it directly affected a key Dulles brothers client, that was the Schroder Bank, which was a bank on which Allen Dulles served as a board member, and both of the brothers represented it.

So that bank lost a huge client in Iran when Mosaddegh nationalized his oil industry. As a result, they saw Mosaddegh as a challenge to the stability of the world. Why? Because he didn't allow large international companies, in this case Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, to operate freely in Iran. The Dulles brothers were terribly afraid of the precedent this might set.

They could not let anyone get away with tinkering with the system that allowed large corporations to operate freely in weak countries. They saw Mosaddegh as a challenge, and they felt that if they let him get away with it, the entire edifice of the way the world economy was run might crumble.

...What would happen, and this happened in Iran and almost simultaneously in Guatemala, Is that John Foster Dulles would make speeches to the American people explaining that dangerous forces were at work in Country X. He wouldn't say what we were going to do about it. In fact he always denied that we had done anything about it.

But while he was creating the public climate in which Americans would come to sense Country X as an enemy, his brother would be actively working to bring down that government. Foster Dulles' role was to tell Americans that huge numbers of people in Iran opposed Mosaddegh, or huge numbers of people in Guatemala opposed Arbenz. That wasn't true in either case.

However, when Allen Dulles and the CIA brought those governments down, Foster Dulles was then able to complete the circle by going on television and saying the people of Country X have done just what we thought they might do. They've risen up to overthrow their tyrant. So he was certainly not above distorting what had really happened, and in fact he specifically said in his television address after the overthrow of the Guatemalan government the problem was solved by the people of Guatemala themselves.

This was completely untrue; he knew that. The problem had been solved by Allen Dulles. But Americans didn't know that and didn't realize it for decades.
Ironic that Obama is working to clean up the mess Eisenhower (and the Dulles brothers) left us in Iran 60 years ago, even while he is making a mess in Egypt for a future president to clean up.

Painted in 1954 by Diego Rivera, Glorious Victory has as its subject the infamous CIA coup in Guatemala of the same year. At the center of the mural, CIA Director John Foster Dulles is shaking hands with the newly installed U.S. puppet, Colonel Castillo Armas. Resting at their feet is an anthropomorphized bomb bearing the smile of President Eisenhower. Allen Dulles and the U.S. Ambassador are handing out money to members of the fascist junta as Mayan workers salve away loading bananas onto a United Fruit Company ship.

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At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Kenfolk said...

You give a good historical analysis of what Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers did in Iran and Guatemala. You raise the question of whether Obama's actions will end the same way. However, you offer NOTHING in the way of proof regarding how Obama is acting like Eisenhower. Without such evidence, there is nothing but a non sequitur in your assertion that Obama is acting in a similar way!

At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Obumma administration has diminished the aid we had been giving Egypt as a provision of the 1978 Camp David Accords.

This is in apparent reaction to the military coup that unseated Morsi, such "undemocratic" action, by law compels the US to withdraw the support.

The article linked below explains: "Although the administration declined to declare that a military coup had taken place in Egypt, it has been bound by a U.S. law that prohibits providing funds to governments that come to power through the use of force."

The accord afforded funds to each Egypt and Israel as incentive to restrain themselves from warring on each other.

Apparently, Obumma thinks the reduced payment will suffice for that purpose and still serve as a public wrist slap for the coup.

John Puma

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