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The Karma of Terror

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Photo by Noah Sussman | CC BY 2.0

We have been here quite often recently. Screaming headlines, non-stop coverage in the mainstream corporate-government media which Paul Craig Roberts so aptly dubbed the “presstitutes”. Hours and hours of analysis of the event, at some point lots of information about the dead victims, endless soul-searching and a desperate spate of interviews with “experts” about how to fight this growing horror. This is not supposed to happen in The West. It is boring everyday stuff when it happens in the Middle East, Africa or Asia, but when it hits Barcelona or some other part of the empire’s heartland, the presstitutes go into overjoyed shock and scramble to present yet another extended and profitable feeding frenzy. A horrifying godsend for 24/7 media.

Always missing, however, from the “expert” analysis: the cause. How we got here. Why this has become a permanent feature of our modern world. That is very, very dangerous territory in such discussions. The witch’s magic mirror. The man behind the curtain. Taboo except in “extremist” media like this, and pretty sensitive stuff for many even here.

But taboos get my back up. So here goes. Probably destined for censorship by Facebook and Google, who are developing quite a taste for playing Big Brother, but that just provokes me.

How far back do we want to go? This will be a pretty short piece, so we will save the deeper roots for another piece. The modern historical causes of our current spreading epidemic of terrorism – the ISIS kind, the Al-Qaeda kind, I am not referring to State Terror at the moment — are all tied up with the West’s hysterical and violent response to communism, from the end of the First World War to the present. While that hysteria and that response were not confined to the United States, the disastrous historical chain of events that led us here was mostly forged by successive US governments, often with the support of a scared and brainwashed US population.

As Doris Lessing tells us in her brilliant semiautobiographical “Children of Violence” series of novels about her youth and young adulthood as a member of the tiny Communist Party in a South African British colony, the (first) Cold War began rapidly in its official, organized form immediately after the end of World War II. The fear of, and hostility toward, Russia and the Soviet Union that had existed among the capitalist powers before that war, and even in its first years, was put on hold as it became clear that the Red Army was all that stood between the West and a victorious Third Reich. It became socially acceptable, in Britain and the Empire, to admire communism and to see it as a possible future for the West, and a great deal of money was raised to help the suffering Soviet Union and to secure Hitler’s defeat. No sooner had the war in Europe been won, however, than the Soviets were officially returned to their status as the Great Menace, which was announced very effectively by the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in spite of the fact that the Japanese were clearly about to surrender. 200,000 civilians died, radiation sickness and birth defects were widespread, and the racist, power-drunk President Harry Truman was delighted. This historical episode, including the testimony of many who were directly involved to the effect that “warning” Russia was always the reason for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is told well in Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s book and video series “The Untold History of the United States”. The Soviet Union wanted a good and constructive relationship with its recent wartime allies. The Soviet government was quite aware that American industrialists, royal circles in Britain, and others had helped create Hitler in the hope that he would destroy communism. But Stalin had a few skeletons of his own in the closet, it was no time for a self-righteousness competition. Still, the Soviets might perhaps have expected that they would continue to receive credit due for defeating the Nazis and saving the West’s ass. Not a chance. It was not long before the popular perception was that America had stepped in and saved the day, and a massive Orwellian propaganda campaign was initiated to portray communism as more dangerous than Germany or Japan had ever been. The techniques of manipulative advertising, public relations, and the shaping of public opinion developed by Edward Bernays based on the theories of his uncle Sigmund Freud were employed by the American government and the CIA with great success.

I grew up in that period, as the son of an FBI Agent working under the communism-obsessed J. Edgar Hoover. There was no doubt about these things in our cultural milieu, the dominant one in the United States between the early 1950s and about 1967. We Americans were good. Russians were dangerous and threatening in spite of their status as brainwashed slaves. And communism was pure, godless evil.

Millions of North Koreans were massacred and bombed into oblivion as Truman’s run continued. The elected Iranian government was overthrown by the CIA under his successor President Eisenhower and the murdering, torturing Shah Reza Pahlavi was placed on the Peacock Throne to do our business in the Middle East (leading in a straight historical line to the birth of the Islamic Republic). A ring of US client states, military bases and atomic missiles began to take shape around the Soviet Union. President Kennedy’s CIA made many attempts to kill Fidel Castro and return the vicious, corrupt crowd around Fulgencio Batista to power, and the government took its paranoid struggle right down to the wire at 10 seconds before midnight during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Then the CIA turned on Kennedy, who may have learned a few things from the experience. The CIA certainly did not.

By the 1970s the American government was arming, organizing and financing islamist-jihadi forces in Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden and others to fight the Soviets’ client government and, after provoking the Soviet invasion, to fight the Soviets themselves. Supervision of anti-communist strategy on “The Grand Chessboard” had passed from the mass murderer and utterly amoral war criminal Henry Kissinger to Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Russian-hating Pole who became President Carter’s Svengali and can be considered directly responsible for much current terrorism, since the Reagan government continued and expanded his support of what eventually became Al-Qaeda, the world’s first international non-governmental terrorist franchise, which later gave birth to ISIS as well in the ruins of Iraq.

There is no need for much detail here. Those who wish to learn the details can find plenty of material on these events. It is all public, available information – even the CIA’s support of Al-Qaeda and overthrow of numerous elected governments has mostly been quietly confirmed on the record now – but still, the surreal presstitute taboo against discussing this stuff openly in public remains and, in fact, seems stronger than ever.

Here in Germany the mainstream public media make a pretty sophisticated impression compared to America’s presstitutes. One can read, watch and listen to documentaries with a great deal of very informative historical background about the Nazis, the colonial past, about racism in the USA (covering our own German neo-Nazis and the vast amount of racist, xenophobic violence and domestic terrorism which they perpetrate against refugees and other foreigners is rather out of style currently, however; apparently it reduces one’s capacity for moral outrage against others). We dwell at great length on ISIS terror attacks here in Europe and on fictional Russian “aggression” in Ukraine with nary a word about Obama’s support of the coup that set the New Cold War in motion. But, as is also the case with the cause of the refugee influx into Europe from US war zones in the Middle East and the Hindu Kush – that same refugee crisis being another big obsession here — it is not polite to badmouth Big Brother. It is also taboo to speak of the origins of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, though one may hint that, just perhaps, the invasion of Iraq was not a complete success. One may also rant and rage about the Horror of Trump and how he has destabilized the world, that is selling quite well on the European market. Obama has a halo here these days, his NSA sins and tapping of Merkel’s cellphone and destruction of Libya are forgiven and forgotten, and his drone control center at Germany’s Ramstein Air Force Base continues to kill (mostly) civilians with relative impunity, not an issue. But we do not go into detail about whom we have to thank for these terrorist attacks on European soil.

Who knows where so much honesty might lead!

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