Secret Third World Wars
excerpts from the book
The Praetorian Guard
by John Stockwell
former CIA agent
... In April 1974, the [Angolan] army rebelled in a coup in
Portugal, making it clear that the colony of Angola, where a prolonged
independence struggle had been fought, would be granted its freedom.
The superpowers quickly chose sides between the three competing
factions. The United States automatically sided with the FNLA
(Front for the National Liberation of Angola), with whose leader,
Holden Roberto, it had maintained contact over the years. In fact,
Roberto was close to the Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seku, whom
the CIA had installed and maintained in power since 1961. Historically
the Soviet Union had generally sided with the MPLA (Popular Movement
for the Liberation of Angola), although contact had been disrupted
in the years preceding 1974. Reacting to Soviet policy, Communist
China sent 400 tons of arms to the FNLA, and over 100 advisors.
A third movement, UNITA (the National Union for the Independence
of Angola), was left without a major sponsor. Led by Jonas Savimbi,
it was historically the most radical of the three parties having
received aid from China, North Korea, South Africa, and others
over the years.
In January 1975, leaders of the three movements met under
Portuguese arbitration and signed the Alvor Accord in which they
agreed to compete peacefully in elections that would be held in
October. November 11 was fixed as the anticipated date of independence.
Within a week, the National Security Council met in Washington
D.C. and allocated $300,000 for the FNLA's use in the political
campaign. The FNLA had sufficient arms from the Chinese and from
Zaire and a record of bloody violence against the Portuguese and
the MPLA. The CIA station chief in Kinshasa urged Roberto to move
his FNLA forces inside Angola. His men went in armed and soon
attacked and killed a team of MPLA organizers. At that moment
the Alvor Accord was effectively sabotaged and the fate of Angola
sealed in blood.
During the spring all of the factions scrambled to organize,
obtain arms, and establish control over whatever territory they
could. The MPLA was by far the most successful. By mid-summer,
it controlled 13 of the 15 provinces. The National Security Council,
which was dominated by Henry Kissinger, demanded a paper outlining
possible options from the CIA. This was July 1975, just three
months after the last helicopter had left the embassy rooftop
in Saigon, marking the decisive end of the Vietnam War. Many,
including CIA Director William Colby were surprised that the CIA
would move so quickly into another adventure.
The CIA's paper offered four options: one for $600,000 which
would provide political support for the FNLA, one for $6 millionwhichwould
include some military support, one for $14 million which would
involve substantial military; and one for $40 million. The $40
million, it was estimated, would equal anything the Soviet Union
was likely to try in Angola. These options and the estimate of
the Soviet reaction were not the result of a massive study. The
CIA's Africa Division chief and his staff plucked the figures
out of a round table discussion, and Colby relayed them to Henry
Kissinger as authoritative. It must be noted that neither the
Africa Division chief nor his deputy had any substantive experience
in Africa. One had spent his career in Europe, the other in the
Pacific Basin. Only the deputy had any substantive experience
in managing paramilitary activity: he had been part of the programs
that had just dramatically failed in Southeast Asia, and had never
set foot in Africa.
A fifth option, staying out of the conflict and letting Angola
make its own way toward independence, was not included in the
paper. Was this a viable option? The Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs, Ambassador Nathaniel Davis, firmly believed
so. Of the proposed CIA program, he said, "It's the wrong
game for a great nation, and the players we've got are losers."
The U.S. Consul General in the Angolan capital of Luanda, Tom
Killoran, who was the only senior American diplomat who had worked
with all three Angolan movements, firmly believed that the MPLA
was in fact the best organized, the most likely to prevail, and
ultimately the friendliest to U.S. interests.
Kissinger picked the second option, then decided $6 million
didn't sound impressive and cabled Langley from a Paris trip authorizing
$14 million. The CIA quickly mobilized to support the FNLA, fighting
Just returned from the evacuation of Saigon, I was ordered
to put the CIA's task force together and manage the secret war
under the supervision of the CIA's Africa Division chief in Langley
and the National Security Council's Interagency Working Group
on Angola. One month after we were formally committed to the secret
war, I was sent inside Angola to assess the competing forces.
I found that Roberto's forces were disorganized and numbered one-hundredth
as many as he told us. Savimbi's UNITA forces seemed determined
and he was scrupulously honest in the counts and estimates he
gave us. We decided to co-opt him into our program.
It should be noted that, at this point, I was skeptical of
the CIA and of covert action in general. What I had seen in Vietnam
had amounted to a debacle. However I had spent my career out in
the field. I couldn't resist the opportunity to see for myself
how these operations worked from the level of the National Security
Council. I truly hoped I would find that they were better reasoned
and managed than they had seemed. I quickly abandoned this forlorn
Throughout the fall of 1975, arms were jammed into Angola,
mercenaries were hired, battles were fought, and several thousand
people were killed and wounded. The United States actively discouraged
United Nations and other formal efforts to mediate. Our budget
eventually totalled $31.7 million, a good part of which was siphoned
off into corruption. We encouraged South African forces to support
our Good Guys, while Cuban soldiers joined the MPLA Baddies.
By winter, the program was thoroughly exposed and the Congress
mercifully passed the Tunney Amendment to the FY 76 Defense Appropriation
Bill that ordered our operation closed down. In the field, our
forces had been routed and the MPLA effectively controlled all
of the provinces. We had given Jonas Savimbi the wherewithal to
keep the Benguela Railroad closed, which was our client-state
Zaire's only economically viable egress to the sea for its copper.
We had lied to nearly everyone, lies that were quickly exposed.
Some of those lies to the U.S. Congress, covering up what we had
done, amounted to perjury and could have been prosecuted as such.
We had allied the United States with South Africa in military
activities, which was illegal and impolitic. We had delivered
white mercenaries into Angola to kill blacks as a technique of
imposing our policies on that black African country. Meanwhile,
we-not the "Communists"-had interfered with U.S. commercial
interests. We had withdrawn Boeing Aircraft Corportion's licenses
to sell five jetliners to the Angolan airlines, and we had blackmailed
Gulf Oil Company into putting its $100 million payments in escrow
instead of delivering them to the Bank of Angola. We had poisoned
the missionaries' efforts to run vital schools and hospitals.
Our experience with Gulf Qil Company and Boeing Aircraft Corporation
left me with an initial misperception of the CIA's involvement
with multinational corporations. These two companies were frustrated
and inconvenienced by the CIA's secret war in Angola. It cost
them money. George Wilson, the President of Boeing, flew to Washington
to protest and clear the licenses to sell his airliners to the
Angolan government. In my first lectures after leaving the government,
I reported that the CIA and the big corporations were, in my own
experience, out of step with each other. Later I realized that
they may argue about details of strategy-a small war here or there.
However, both are vigorously committed to supporting the system.
Corporate leaders fight amongst themselves like people m any human
endeavor. They raid and hostilely take over each other's companies.
Losers have been known to commit suicide. However, they firmly
believe in the capitalist system. In two short meetings in Washington,
we managed to turn the Boeing President George Wilson around to
the point where he sent a letter that we had drafted to the new
government of Angola, warning them that the price of crossing
the U.S. (secret) government was the loss of access to U.S. technology.
In sum, we had severely damaged U.S. national security interests
and nailed our own country with another defeat on the heels of
In one of the classic, ironic follies of intelligence charades,
Gulf Oil Company employees returned immediately to resume pumping
the Angolan oil-protected militarily by Cuban soldiers from CIA
mercenaries who were still marauding and destabilizing the countryside.
Nor did the Angola tragedy end with the CIA's defeat in the winter
of 1976. Under President Reagan, congressional restraints were
lifted and the CLA resumed its support of Jonas Savimbi and his
UNITA forces. Over the years the continued destabilization has
taken a horrendous toll: the Red Cross counts over 20,000 walking-maimed
in Angola today and the central part of the country, which used
to be its bread basket, is now a recognized zone of famine.
... The first year of the Nicaraguan operation was almost
eerily like the one in Angola. There were three competing factions
in each: the leaders in the north, Holden Roberto of the FNLA
(in Angola) and Adolfo Calero of UNO (in Nicaragua) were rebarbative
characters, while the leaders of the southern movements in each
country, Jonas Savimbi (in Angola) and Eden Pastora (in Nicaragua)
were remarkably charismatic. In each country, the CIA purchased
SWIFT attack launches for coastal operations and put together
ragtag air-transport proprietaries. After a couple of years, the
Nicaraguan operation began to manifest a substantially different
personality. For one thing it became a major artery in drug smuggling,
which was not a factor in Angola.
For analytical purposes, the Nicaraguan operation will remain
one of the best historical examples because the target country
was closer to the United States culturally and geographically,
and because the Nicaraguan destabilization was quite open on both
ends, i.e., in Washington and in Managua.
Usually these activities are closed-they are secret. In most
cases our government covers them and hides them to the greatest
degree it can, and the country we are attacking becomes hostile
and seals its borders to us. Nicaragua, until quite recently,
had a policy of remaining open. Anyone from the United States
who wanted to go down and have a look could do so without a visa.
Meanwhile in Washington the program was debated quite openly as
the administration battled for funds and operational details were
discussed publicly. Throughout the 1980s, I traveled back and
forth from Washington to Nicaragua and elsewhere, informing myself,
witnessing and analyzing the operation, and also discussing it
in hundreds of lectures.
Nicaragua is unlike Angola in that there never was a chance
in Angola that we would make it into another Vietnam, by putting
in U.S. troops, whereas this was a very real possibility in Nicaragua
during the mid-1980s. The United States has had a fixation on
Nicaragua since the mid-l800s. It has long been the ideal site
of a possible second canal, better than the Panama canal, connecting
the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and the target of military intervention.
The United States put the Marines into the country half a dozen
times early in this century to occupy it, to dominate it, to force
elections, to control business interests in that country.
The Marines were eventually withdrawn in 1933 as a result
of international pressure, of the international peace movement,
and the United States switched to a more subtle form of control
than gunboat diplomacy. We created and left behind a National
Guard with officers trained in the United States who would be
loyal to our interests. This arrangement was the decisive feature
of the new era of neocolonialism.
With a brief interruption during World War II, the creation
l of military oligarchies became a standard U.S. policy of control.
We set up schools and eventually trained tens of thousands of
military and police officers in countries all over Latin and Central
America, in Africa in three cases (Zaire, Ethiopia, and to a lesser
extent in Uganda), and in Asia. We put them through our military
and police academies, armed them, directly or indirectly paid
their salaries when they returned home, and created an international
military fraternity of people in power in these countries who
were more closely identified with our own military, and hence
U.S. national interests and capitalist values, than they were
with the people of their own countries.
Meanwhile the cat-and-mouse game that we played with Nicaragua
starting in 1981 isle classic case of "destabilization".
The strategy, according to the State Department, was to "attack
the country's economy." Note how indifferent that sounds
from "brutal wreckage" and perhaps you can understand
how those people in Washington, most of whom are perfectly decent
human beings, can manage activities that cause so much human suffering.
It is the magic of rationalization. After all, attacking a Communist
country's economy was something every patriotic citizen of the
United States was expected to applaud every morning before breakfast.
The point of a destabilization is to put pressure on the targeted
government by ripping apart the social and economic fabric of
the country. These are only words, "social and economic fabric,"
but what they mean is making the people suffer as much as you
can until the country plunges into chaos, until at some point
you can step in and impose your choice of government on that country
a strategy that was ultimately successful in the Nicaraguan elections
when the people of that country "cried uncle" and voted
for the CIA collaborator, Violeta Chamorro.9 The rationales we
used in Nicaragua were classic Cold War slogans: we were "fighting
Communism" in the interests of our "national security";
they were a "Marxist bastion in our ownbackyard"; etc.
More specifically, our leaders said at first that the purpose
of this program was to "interdict the alleged flow of arms
from Nicaragua to the rebels in El Salvador." Unable to prove
any flow of arms whatsoever from Nicaragua into El Salvador, the
Reagan team, followed eventually by George Bush, developed the
propaganda line that they were "returning Nicaragua to democracy."
When it was pointed out that Nicaragua had never had a democracy-certainly
not under the brutal Somoza dictatorship-they began to speak of
the "democratization of Nicaragua," ignoring the fact
that Nicaragua had held elections in 1984 that were demonstrably
more democratic than the elections that we have in our own Republic.
We will never know exactly what the Sandinistas would have
done with Nicaragua if we had left them alone to tackle the country's
staggering problems (many of which were the legacy of the Somoza
regime) according to their own interests and ideology and compulsions.
Everything they did after taking power in 1979 had been in the
shadow of U.S. manipulations and covert military attacks on their
country. We do know however that there was no blood bath when
they took over. They abolished the death sentence at exactly the
same time the United States was reinstituting it. The maximum
penalty in their courts is 30 years in jail. They released thousands
of the hated National Guardsmen that they had in their custody,
saying that they would not jail anyone just for having belonged
to an organization; the Guardsmen would have to be convicted of
individual crimes. This contrasts dramatically with Cuba: when
Castro triumphed in 1959, there were a number of executions, generally
following trials and sentencing. Of course, the Sandinistas' generosity
cost them: many of the Guardsmen they released joined the contras
in attacking the country.
The Sandinistas launched a literacy campaign to teach every
Nicaraguan to read and write and they set out to build 2,500 clinics
so Nicaraguans would have access to some kind of medical treatment.
These are things that Somoza, the dictator backed by the United
States, had not gotten around to doing, and in fact were openly
scorned by the dictator and his family.
The first official action taken by the Sandinistas was to
establish a ministry of the environment to tackle the damage done
under Somoza, who had permitted commercial interests to dump toxic
wastes in and thereby "kill" the country's two huge,
beautiful lakes. The Sandinistas then launched the most ambitious
land reform campaign in the history of Central America. They did
this by maintaining a free-enterprise economy with less governmental
interference and corruption than Mexico, Peru, or Brazil. Private
businessmen could obtain permits, rent an office, install a telephone,
and open a business. They could buy land and farm it. If you owned
land and you were working it, you kept it. They expropriated the
lands that Somoza and his family, and the people who fled, had
earned or stolen or taken, and they turned those lands back to
the people in cooperatives and different programs, feeling their
way, making mistakes as they went, trying this solution and that
one, but with the purpose of getting the land back to the people
so farmers would own the land, relate to the land, and profit
from the land that they worked on in their own country.
In the first four years after the revolution, Nicaragua had
the greatest rate of growth of any Latin American country.
The Sandinistas insisted that the church should be a church
of the people, the church of the poor-not another tool of the
oligarchy and the rich and the wealthy. I visited Tomas gorge's
office, the Minister of the Interior, and counted the 25 Catholic
icon collector items that he had mounted on the wall.
During the Somoza years, Borge was imprisoned and tortured.
His wife was imprisoned, raped, tortured, and killed. As Minister
of the Interior, he had the men responsible in his power but he
did not take revenge on them.
In the 10-year continuous attack-"war" is what the
World Court called it-that the United States waged on Nicaragua,
Nicaragua did not commit one act of war against the United States.
But instead of joining them in building the healthiest, most dynamic,
most enthusiastic country in Central America, the U.S. spent over
$1 billion to attack and destabilize the country. We set out systematically
to create conditions where farmers could not get their produce
to market, where children could not go to school, where women
were terrified of being attacked, inside their homes as well as
outside, where the hospitals were treating wounded people instead
of sick people, where government administration ground to a halt,
where the trucks didn't run, the bridges were blown up, the salaries
weren't paid, and the infrastructure broke down. Eventually, of
course, international capital was scared away and the country
plunged into chaos and bankruptcy.
We created the contra program beginning in about 1981. Here
we go again, said Newsweek in November 1982, we have done this
before; it has been a mistake before; once again we are supporting
the wrong side. We had elected to support the only "truly
evil, totally unacceptable faction in the Nicaraguan equation"-the
remnants of Somoza's hated Guardia Nacional (National Guard).
Using Argentine trainers at first, and then eventually CIA mercenaries,
we armed and directed this small army from bases mostly in Honduras
to attack inside Nicaragua and destabilize the country. They systematically
blew up granaries, sawmills, bridges, government offices, schools,
health centers, mines. They mined roads, ambushed trucks, and
raided farms and villages. There is massive documentation of all
this- because, as I said, the country was kept open for foreign
witnesses to record what was happening.
For the first few years, CBS, NBC, ABC, BBC, CBC all had crews
in Managua, and when there would be atrocities they would rush
to film them. We also had what eventually totaled thousands of
witnesses for peace from this country, Canada, Europe, and Australia,
going down and visiting or even living right in the Nicaraguan
towns and villages with the people, and when there were atrocities
they filmed and photographed and documented them.
There was also direct U.S. military involvement in mining
harbors, overflying the country, and blowing up installations
in the ports. There were assassinations of hundreds of religious
leaders, teachers, health workers, elected officials, and government
administrators by U.S.-backed contrast CBS, NBC, and others have
footage of all of this; Americas Watch and Witness for Peace have
documented it. There was the admission by President Ronald Reagan
in his national television debate with Walter Mondale in 1984
that the famous "assassination manual," used to train
the contras, was the work of the CIA Station Chief in Tegucigalpa.
On national television, Reagan acknowledged the CIA's involvement
with the contras and in the plotting of assassinations.
After that faux pas, the media asked for clarification from
the White House on the President's policies. Did President Reagan
in fact approve of assassinations, which had been declared at
least officially taboo by President Gerald Ford in 1974? In an
exercise of doublespeak, the White House said that the word "assassination"
only applied to world leaders and chiefs of state. Murdering regional
officials was not assassination. The policy, they said was unchanged.
Terror has been a part of this program, terror as raw as anything
that happens in the Middle East or elsewhere. The contras habitually
went into villages and hauled families out of their homes. They
forced children to watch while they castrated and killed their
fathers, while they raped their mothers and slashed off their
breasts, or they forced parents to watch while they mutilated
The New York Times has cited 45,000 as the number of people
killed and wounded in this destabilization. This is nobody's propaganda.
It was all documented and condemned by the World Court, by the
Presbyterian Church, by the Methodist Church, by broad segments
of the Catholic Church, and by thousands of witnesses who went
down from other countries to see for themselves.
Throughout, President Reagan remained unapologetic for this
grotesque activity and President Bush continued the same policies.
Reagan took pride in saying, "I am a contra. " He took
pride in saying that these people were the moral equivalent of
his founding fathers. And of course George Bush has never missed
a chance to identify himself with the contras.
Destabilization has required a relentless propaganda program
to discredit the Sandinistas and label them as totalitarian dictators.
At first, we were told that they were flying arms into El Salvador.
Then, when the Sandinistas put together a military machine to
defend their country from the U.S. attack, we were told that they
were building a war machine that "threatened the stability
of all of Central America. " It was never mentioned that
the Nicaraguans did not have strategic weapons and did not have
tanks or an air force that could attack other countries, although
El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama had been given jet
fighter-bombers by the United States.
We charged them with censorship after they closed down the
La Prensa newspaper. In time it came out that La Prensa had been
financed by the National Endowment for Democracy and the CIA.
This newspaper was owned by the Chamorro family, which means that
Violeta Chamorro, victorious in the 1990 elections and supported
by George Bush, was a funded collaborator of the CIA during the
period when the CIA was directing the brutalization of her country.
Obviously, the United States would never put up with activity
like that of La Prensa inside its own borders, especially during
a war. In fact, there are laws carefully governing our press on
the sensitive issues of capitalism. It is very much against the
law, for example, for journalists deliberately to print stories
that would cause fluctuations on Wall Street, or even to use "insider"
information they obtain in their journalistic research to profit
from the exchange. Editors of the Wall StreetJournal have been
disciplined for this infraction during the same years that the
United States was funding and directing La Prensa to create panics
inside Nicaragua and castigating the Sandinistas for "censorship."
In 1984, we launched a vigorous campaign to discredit the
Nicaraguan elections, elections that were supervised and witnessed
by the United Nations and other groups who said that they were
as fair as any elections they had seen in Central America in many
years. These elections were quite an embarrassment to Ronald Reagan,
who was then the champion of the contra program, and I am sure
to George Bush today, because they were quite a bit more democratic
than the elections that we held in this country during the same
year, or in 1988. They had seven parties with candidates running
for election; the United States had two. They turned out 75.4
percent of the vote; we turned out 53 percent. They voted directly;
we voted for electors who selected our leaders. They passed a
law that every legitimate party would have an equal subsidy of
funds to spend for campaign purposes; in this country if you can
raise more money you can buy more television time and you have
a much better chance of the winning the election.
Another element of the propaganda program was the claim that
they were smuggling drugs to finance their revolution. The CIA
staged scenes with the pilot Barry Seales, plea-bargaining a deal
with him to land a plane in Panama, to kick some bales of marijuana
out on the runway that could be photographed by satellite so President
Reagan could put pictures on television saying that it proved
the Sandinistas were smuggling drugs. The record, however, proves
that the contrasand their CIA managers were smuggling drugs. There
was a massive flow of drugs through the CIA/contra aircraft into
the United States, where they had clearances to land at Air Force
and National Guard bases without being inspected by customs. Senator
Kerry's investigation revealed this and there are dozens of cases
where people in the contra program, including Adolfo Calero's
brother-in-law, were caught smuggling cocaine into this country,
using informal "national security" passes or telephone
numbers from the White House to get themselves cleared when FBI
or Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers caught them. This is
nothing new. DEA records have been made public revealing that
the CIA intervened on behalf of drug dealers at least two dozen
times during the 1970s.
The United States also claimed the Sandinistas were responsible
for terrorism in Central America, but this case, too, falls flat.
The Sandinistas were not involved in terrorist acts- any crimes
committed by their soldiers were punished with trials and severe
sentences-but the United States has been and still are, slaughtering
people in countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. Using the
magic of words, U.S. spokespersons like UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick
found a way out. It wasn't "terrorism" if the people
responsible for the violence were wearing uniforms provided by
The United States blamed the Sandinistas for misery in Nicaragua,
and the country was (and is) in fact miserable that was exactly
the stated purpose of the U.S. destabilization. The words in Nicaragua
are, "No hay," "There isn't any." There are
shortages of everything. The country is suffering; its people
are suffering. But U.S. Congressional representatives would go
down to Managua and have a look and come back and go on television
and say, "You won't believe that place; it is the most miserable
country I have ever visited. The Sandinistas have not been able
to manage it. Look what happens when you have a Marxist government...."
To be honest, obviously they would have said, "Our stated
purpose back since 1982 was to break the Nicaraguan economy; we
spent a billion dollars destabilizing the country to break its
economy. Now here are my snapshots of the results of our successful
program." Of course, they do not do that because they are
playing propaganda. The country is muserable and it was never
the fault of the Sandinistas; misery was the stated purpose of
the U.S. contra destabilization program. One can only imagine
what schools and clinics and irrigation projects could have been
built with $1 billion.
And then there was "the Soviet threat." For years,
President Reagan said that in Nicaragua we had the Soviets and
Cubans in our own backyard. He said there were Russians flying
airplanes in this hemisphere meaning into Nicaragua-for the first
time in all of history. And like much of what Reagan said-he was
never a stickler for accuracy-this was not true. Aeroflot had
been flying into Canada, into Mexico, into Latin America, into
New York City, for 30 or 40 years on a daily basis, not to mention
flying in and out of Cuba continuously.
In the end, the Nicaraguan operation was a bittersweet success
for Ronald Reagan. He swore, and failed in this promise, that
the Sandinistas would be out of office before he was (after his
second term ending in 1989). The Sandinistas were eventually ousted,
but under President Bush's watch, after Reagan had retired. Meanwhile,
Reagan had seen his presidency virtually destroyed in the Iran/contra
scandal of 1986.
Moreover, President Reagan had failed in his broader goal.
He campaigned his way into office in 1980 by advocating war in
many of his speeches. He had assured the nation during and after
the 1960s that he would have managed the Vietnam War differently.
He promised to restore the nation's confidence in its ability
to wage war and win. After the invasion of Grenada in October
1983, his constituents sported bumper stickers proclaiming "Nicaragua
Next ". "America Feeling Great Again" became the
slogan of his 1984 presidential campaign. Meanwhile, the National
Guard rehearsed constantly for the invasion of Nicaragua. By the
fall of 1986, many respected observers in Washington believed
that the date for the invasion had been set for February 1987.
There were many indicators. The Pentagon was stirring.
Then, in October 1986, the Iran/contra scandal struck. The
Reagan administration suffered a number of serious blows: the
downing of the Hasenfus plane over Nicaragua, exposure of illegal
arms sales to Iran (which had held Americans hostage off and on
since the Carter presidency, and quite possibly a decision by
the nation's nonpolitical financial managers that an invasion
of Nicaragua would have disastrous repercussions throughout Latin
America. President Reagan was effectively crippled. He may narrowly
have escaped impeachment. Certainly, he no longer had the clout
to sell a war to the nation and to a reluctant military establishment.
Still, the national security establishment will record the
U.S. destabilization of Nicaragua as a success. In the 1990 elections,
Violeta Chamorro, George Bush's friend and longtime CIA collaborator,
won. It was a little-publicized fact that the CIA spent about
$20 million on those elections to make the people vote to join
their tormenters, a pittance after $1 billion that had already
been spent to destabilize the country.
Recall the principle of oligarchy through which countries
are controlled since overt colonialism became passe. In order
to bring countries(like Nicaragua into the loops of international
finance, you must have people like Chamorro,who will represent
the interest of New York bankers, in power. For this to work,
the leaders of the oligarchies have to see some real money themselves.
This is why people like the Shah in Iran, Mobutu Sese in Zaire,
and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines have been permitted to
steal billions of dollars from the aid and trade that flows through
That's why the U.S. establishment is so adamantly against
agrarian reform in Third World countries. If you invested $1 billion
in a real land reform program in any country, say El Salvador,
it would pay off in huge dividends for the people and perhaps
return in ten years or so in the form of improved productivity.
But if you loan the same $1 billion to the corrupt oligarchy it
comes back to you immediately.
In the early 1980s, Morton Halperin of the Center for National
Security Studies testified to congressional committees about the
decapitalization of El Salvador. For every few million dollars
the United States was giving the country in aid, the so-called
14 families were investing a like amount in Miami banks. He quipped
that we could save time and effort simply by depositing our aid
directly in the rich Salvadorans' Miami bank accounts. The congressmen
laughed, but they also voted for more aid to the Salvadoran oligarchy.
... in 1965 the CIA organized an operation to discredit the
Communist party in Indonesia. Their strategy was to make the party
appear to be secretly planning a violent takeover of Indonesian
society. The truth was that the Indonesian Communist Party was
doing quite well to obtain representation in the Indonesian government
through the democratic process. That was what made it so threatening
to the United States. They simply could not have an example of
legitimate and successful participation by the Communists in the
The techniques of the Indonesian destabilization were classic:
CIA agents planted caches of arms that would then be "found"
by Indonesian police under the watchful eye of the alerted media.
Along with the arms would be all kinds of forged documents proving
that the Communists were fomenting a violent uprising. Propaganda
agents planted stories in the media, inflaming the mistrust of
the Communists. Others gave speeches. The situation heated up
until some generals in the Indonesian army were killed, and the
boil of tension burst. The Indonesian army went after the Communists
and the people they felt traditionally supported the Communists.
The result was a bloodbath that the New York Times described in
terms half a million to a million and a half dead. The Australian
secret service, closer to Indonesia, put the figure at closer
to two million-the rivers were clogged with the bodies of the
In the summer of 1990, the U.S. State Department acknowledged
that it had indeed delivered lists of names, of people who were
subsequently killed, to the Indonesian government.
The CIA's own internal reporting estimated that 800,000 people
had been killed. The organization published a cover story through
the Library of Congress that the Communist Party had supported
a classic insurrection, which the army had put down. However,
internal CIA reports cited the operation as a classic success
in which they had targeted the world's thirdlargest Communist
Party and aided the Indonesian army by providing thousands of
names of suspected individuals and completely eliminated from
the face of the earth not only the party, but the ethnic Chinese
in Indonesia who tended to support the Communists. Simply put,
this is a classic case of genocide that was engineered by the
CIA and cited as a model to be copied elsewhere....
Twice in the 1960s, the CIA spent large sums of money to influence
the outcome of elections in Chile and to install a president of
the United States' choosing. Eventually it failed and democracy
prevailed in the election of President Salvador Allende Gossens.
Under the direction of President Nixon, the CIA organized the
famous Track I and Track II destabilization of Chile in order
to oust Allende. CIA Deputy Director for Operations, Richard Helms
(who later became CIA Director) testified before the congressional
Oversight Committee and lied. He was later indicted for lying
to the Congress about the Chilean operation and plea-bargained
a suspended sentence and a fine, which the association of CIA
exes paid for him. Finally, he offered a copy of the notes he
had made in the National Security Council meeting in the White
House where he was ordered to mount the Chilean operation. He
had jotted down the following instructions: "Make the Chilean
economy scream." He testified that when he return to CIA
headquarters at Langley to give his staff their marching orders,
even they were dumfounded at the cynicism of the operation. Helms
told them, "Gentlemen, let's not sit around wringing our
hands. We've been given a job to do."
With the help of the U.S. military, which had solid connections
with the Chilean military through the American-sponsored international
military fraternity, and with the help of certain multinational
corporations like ITT, the CIA mounted the successful operation
to oustthe democratically-elected president of Chile, who was
killed in the process. At one point prior to the coup, General
Rene Schneider, the pro-U.S. head of the Chilean military, was
an obstacle because he was stubbornly supporting democracy and
the constitutional process. So they killed him too and installed
the monster Pinochet in power. About 30,000 people were killed
by Pinochet, whose secret police were so violent that they even
engineered bombings in our own nation's capital. It took the best
effort of the Chilean people, eventually with diplomatic help
from the United States, to undo the damage and return the country
to a democratic process 16 years later.
When Henry Kissinger was grilled by the Congress about the
Chilean operation, he had this to say: "Yes, the issues are
much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide
Coming to grips with these U.S./CIA activities in broad numbers
and figuring out how many people have been killed in the jungles
of Laos or the hills of Nicaragua is very difficult. But, adding
them up as best we can, we come up with a figure of six million
people killed-and this is a minimum figure. Included are: one
million killed in the Korean War, two million killed in the Vietnam
War, 800,000 killed in Indonesia, one million in Cambodia, 20,000
killed in Angola ... and 22,000 killed in Nicaragua. These people
would not have died if U.S. tax dollars had not been spent by
the CIA to inflame tensions, finance covert political and military
activities and destabilize societies.
Certainly, there are other local, regional, national and international
factors in many of these operations, but if the CIA were tried
fairly in a U.S. court, under U.S. law, the principle of complicity,
incitment, riot, and mayhem would clearly apply. In the United
States, if you hire someone to commit a murder your sentence may
be approximately the same as that of the murderer himself.
Who are these six million people we have killed in the interest
of American national security? Conservatives tell us, "It's
a dangerous world. Our enemies have to die so we can be safe and
secure." Some of them say, "I'm sorry, but that's the
way the world is. We have to accept this reality and defend ourselves,
to make our nation safe and insure our way of life."
Since 1954, however, we have not parachuted teams into the
Soviet Union - our number one enemy - to destabilize that country...
Neither do we run these violent operations in England, France,
Sweden, Norway, Belgium, or Switzerland. Since the mid-1950s they
have all been conducted in Third World countries where governments
do not have the power to force the United States to stop its brutal
and destabilizing campaigns.
One might call this the "Third World War." It is
a war that has been fought by the United States against the Third
World. Others call it the Cold War and focus on the anti-Communist
and anti-Soviet rationales, but the dead are not Soviets; they
are people of the Third World. It might also be called the Forty-Year
War, like the Thirty-Year and Hundred-Year Wars in Europe, for
this one began when the CIA was founded in 1947 and continues
today. Altogether, perhaps twenty million people died in the Cold
War. As wars go, it has been the second or third most destructive
of human life in all of history, after World War I and World War
The six million people the CIA has helped to kill are people
of the Mitumba Mountains of the Congo, the jungles of Southeast
Asia, and the hills of northern Nicaragua. They are people without
ICBMs or armies or navies, incapable of doing physical damage
to the United States the 22,000 killed in Nicaragua, for example,
are not Russians; they are not Cuban soldiers or advisors; they
are not even mostly Sandinistas. A majority are rag-poor peasants,
including large numbers of women and children.
Communists? Hardly, since the dead Nicaraguans are predominantly
Roman Catholics. Enemies of the United States? That description
doesn't fit either, because the thousands of witnesses who have
lived in Nicaraguan villages with the people since 1979 testify
that the Nicaraguans are the warmest people on the face of the
earth, that they love people from the United States, and they
simply cannot understand why our leaders would want to spend $1
billion on a contra force designed to murder people and wreck