Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Iran-Contra - drugs, drugs and today.

* Don in the comments :
"Been doing a little reading on Iran-Contra lately and wondering if or how it fits in with the current mess, wondering where and how the links form. It's a given that the men behind the curtains have been planning this for a while, but what other links exist between their plans in the Middle East and their agenda in Central and South America (beyond, of course, global dominance)?"
good question - i don't really know the answer - and i'm not particularly familiar with iran-contra, or the stuff in the C/S. America.

for a rehash, here's Hersh getting all flabbergasted on DemocracyNow:
AMY GOODMAN: And Seymour Hersh, for young people who don't remember Iran-Contra, can you just fill people in on who Elliott Abrams is, his history?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Elliott Abrams was one of the key players in this incredibly wacky scheme we had in the Iran-Iraq war of two decades ago. Between 1980 and 1988, Iran and Iraq fought each other, and we supported Iraq. We supported Saddam Hussein, the United States did, with a lot of secret arms, secret intelligence, even shipping him secret formulas that could be used to make biological weapons and chemical stuff and intelligence, etc, etc. And that was because of course, Khomeini -- we had been kicked out of Iran, when our Shah, the Shah was overthrown.

We were terrified of the Shiite leadership there. And so, one of the plans, one of the schemes was, in the middle of all of this hostility, Ronald Reagan was so committed to the Contra War in Latin America, that is, defeating what he thought was a communist-led insurgency in Nicaragua in an election there, that he cut a deal to ship arms -- let's see. It's complicated. They sold arms to Israel, which they were shipped, I think, into Iran. You help me out on this.

Anyway, the bottom line was that it was a policy that brought us into contact with Iran, secret trading. We were going to get weapons that were going to -- the Israelis were going to buy weapons. Money was -- they were going to sell weapons to Iran. Money was going to be generated from that sale to support covertly, outside of Congress's knowledge, to support aid for the opposition in Nicaragua that we favored --

AMY GOODMAN: For the Contras.

SEYMOUR HERSH: The Contras, yes, and so there we are. It was totally a crazy policy. When it unraveled, it should have probably led to, in a normal process, an impeachment proceeding for Ronald Reagan, but by that time, he was -- everybody understood he was -- he wasn't well with Alzheimer's or whatever."
So, back to Don's question, here's what I know:
1. Larisa, Laura and Josh all think we are in an Iran-Contra redux - and also, many of the same players are involved - from Ledeen and Ghorbanifar, to Cheney and Abrams, to Negroponte and Goss - and perhaps even Wilkes and Abramoff.

2. I'm not sure how much 'ideology' was involved in Iran-Contra, but I'm pretty sure that there isn't much ideology involved today. We do know that there is a lot of cocaine production in Central/South America, and we know that there is a lot of heroin production in Iran & Afghanistan, and a lot of heroin refining in Turkey. We also know via Sibel, that there's a particular interest in Turkey (and heroin, and arms trafficking), and we know that the neocons want to get their hands on Iran.

I haven't bored you with this exchange for a while between larisa and Joe Wilson:
Raw Story: And now we see that Iraq and Iran have just signed a military treaty. Is that what we wanted?

Wilson: Iran is the big winner in this.

Raw Story: Is the goal a fundamentalist military conglomerate? Is that what we wanted?

Wilson: Sitting right on the border of the Kuwait and eastern Saudi oil fields...

Raw Story: Right, if that is what we wanted…

Wilson: Then we have achieved it.
and here's part of Larisa's followup (in our interview):
But to explore this historically, one need only look at recent history to see that democratically elected governments were overthrown and dictatorships were installed instead. We have seen this all over the world, including Iraq and the current dictator that was recently removed. Saddam was installed and propped up by western nations -as is the Saudi regime, which its own people do not want, but who is protected by western nations. So to say that Iran benefited, which is true, is not to say that the Iranian people benefited. But again, the most important question is 'who in Iran benefited?' If it is MEK, and it seems to be looking this way, then you have an extreme right wing military state as the winner. Who else benefits from having such a dictatorship in place? That is far more of an important question than all the others.
again, back to Don's question - in terms of "the men behind the curtains" - they arent really 'behind the curtain", incredibly. there's this, (again from my interview with larisa (that was such a goldmine interview - i should try to organise another. i re-learn something every time i re-read it)):
Lukery: Moving on. How did we get here? A lot of the people in charge at the Pentagon, and particularly at the Office of Special Plans, were already perceived as Security risks - Perle and Feith come to mind.

LA: Right. Not just Feith and Perle - all of them - there's not a single one of them who hasn't been under investigation for leaking classified information!

So it’s astounding that despite the FBI's concerns, despite the concerns of the security clearance staff (each agency has their own staff which does the security background checks), despite past activities, these guys still were able to get their clearances reinstated under this administration. There's only one person who can override all of these various agencies - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld! No one else would have the authority to override the FBI and the security staff concerns, so he must have had interesting reasons for issuing the clearances. Moreover, Rummy gave these guys top level DOD positions - 2nd & 3rd from the top - jobs in the Pentagon! It's mindboggling. I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how Abrams is allowed to be the Deputy National Security Advisor after his indictment in Iran Contra. For god’s sake, he was part of the team that sold weapons to Iran, that is, giving aid and comfort to the enemy, treason!

Lukery: Well - there are two interesting issues there. Firstly - the fact that they somehow passed the security clearance hurdle, but even curiouser is that they were recruited in the first place

LA: Actually - no - it’s a mistake to think that they were even 'recruited' - this whole group came into power en masse - this was the understanding. Every one of those people who was associated with PNAC in any way got top-level leadership positions. They're also the same people who were in Iran Contra - it’s the same cabal - moving in and out of government - they were just waiting for a friendly administration... By any measure, it's not only bad judgment to put them back into office - but it should be illegal. Again, it's essentially giving aide and comfort to our enemies.
So - at a minimum, we have people in govt now who were previously involved with arms and drug-running, with the support of right-wing dictatorships, apparently now involved again with arms and drug-running. and despite their lofty rhetoric, appear (by their actions) to be pushing the entire planet into fascism (or 'proto-fascism' if i was to be more PC) - whether at 'home' - or by their bomb-them-into-democracy efforts, which rallies support around groups like hizbollah, or presidents like Ahmadinejad. Similarly, Sibel keeps pointing out that the DoD keeps building military bases all over the 'stans.

And here's Sibel and Chris Deliso:
SE: It's interesting, in one of my interviews, they say "Turkish countries," but I believe they meant Turkic countries – that is, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and all the 'Stans, including Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and [non-Turkic countries like] Afghanistan and Pakistan. All of these countries play a big part in the sort of things I have been talking about.

CD: What, you mean drug-smuggling?

SE: Among other things. Yes, that is a major part of it. It's amazing that in this whole "war on terror" thing, no one ever talks about these issues. No one asks questions about these countries – questions like, "OK, how much of their GDP depends on drugs?"

CD: But of course, you're not implying…

SE: And then to compare that little survey with what countries we've been putting military bases in –
Back to Don's question - if i had to guess, it appears that there's some continuity between the establishment of rightwing dictatorships and drug trafficking. then and now. the same people are involved, and i'm mostly convinced that there's no 'ideology' involved in their mass murder behaviour today.

back to larisa's point: "They're also the same people who were in Iran Contra - it’s the same cabal - moving in and out of government - they were just waiting for a friendly administration" - off the top of my head, I can't think of another example where a group of people would 'hang together' for so long, unchanged, uninterrupted. they all appear to have had disparate interests throughout the intervening years - i wonder what the common thread was that brought them back together...


Anonymous said...

as far as democracy is concerned, it's being eroded in many ways. of course the most overt form is the coup. but, especially in western europe, it has also been eroded by the gradual rise of the market in the domains of the democratic state: public services, public amenities etc. this 'hidden coup' menas that democratic control is being substituted by for profit managerial control. has anyone ever heard of a democratically run for profit organisation??

lukery said...

interesting thoughts. thnx.

i'm actually not ideologically opposed to the idea that local services are outsourced to private companies - so long as the allocation of the contracts is legitimate.

emptywheel said...

I've been saying for a while that we need to get out of the habit of referring to Republican scandals as discrete affairs. Since the 1970s at least, there has been a concerted effort to adopt an authoritarian, one-party system leading either intentionally or by logic to a neofeudalist system.

That said, I think there are three strands that help us see how Iran-Contra connects to the current expression of the Neocon effort. First, this is about the illegal financing of an unoffical foreign policy. There are sveral ways they're doing it this time around: burying the funding in black ops budgets than outsourcing to loyal Republicans (CIFA), using Abramoff- and Wilkes-like schemes to fundraise, laundering money through affiliate groups like the INC or MEK, or using the proceeds of illicit goods (drugs). The point is to get huge amounts of readily available cash to implement your own foreign policies.

Second, is the establishment of some proto-fascist allies around the globe, to establish a network of power. They're actually moving backwards right now, since they've lost Berlusconi and Aznar. But I think the point is to extend the power of this network across the globe.

And third is the the use of the same people and the same methods (Ghorbanifar) as they did the last time. This puzzles me. Why use Ghorbainfar again unless you were satisfied with what he did for you last time? I think it comes from the sense that Iran necessarily plays in a geostrategic sense, and a longing to return to the days of the Shah (that is, where they could combine number two with the geostrategic imperative).

What's different from Iran-Contra (but is more a yoking of the lessons from Iran-Contra and those of Watergate) is that Cheney's basically taking over the Federal government like a cancer. It's like he's trying to change government into an authoritarian one at precisely the moment his foreign policy exploits succeeds, so he can give his "conquest" legitimacy after the fact. Or maybe that's not right--maybe he's just working the covert and legitimate means at the same time.

LeeB said...

Luke, I disagree about outsourcing legitimate governmental services to private corporations. At first glance, it sorta sounds good, since they often pitch the idea on the basis of corporate efficiency.

HOWEVER, built into the idea is the notion of profit attached to services that are supposed to be part of the commons. As an example, water is a natural resource that is freely available. Putting water into a system of pipes, purifying it, and keeping the access to pure water consistently available and the recycling of used water controlled and repurified before releasing back into the rivers and oceans are necessary services that keep the "free" commodity safe for human and critter consumption, and the ecology in general.

When you think about it, it is one thing to cooperatively pay for the necessary processing and delivery services but quite another to enrich some corporate executives by adding a layer of profit to the entire enterprise. Same goes for building and maintaining roads and especially what we are seeing in action right now with the military vs. mercenaries crap playing out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the old system, the military took care of its own essential services like moving supplies and feeding the troops. Who would have anticipated the likes of Haliburton (and KBR) giving contaminated drinking water to the troops and family members having to ship* bottled drinking water(and food) to soldiers and marines from the U.S. every three days! (* a story recounted by a caller on AAR Tuesday night!) The military also used to provide its own security services; it didn't hire $100,000+/yr mercenaries to work along side $24k soldiers, all paid by tax dollars.

If we allow corporations to take over the operation of the commons, we leave ourselves open to higher costs and more corruption. As it is, the traditional limits of purchasing necessary commodities from the private sector, hiring the construction companies to build roads and public buildings, etc., has to be carefully controlled in order to limit abuses. This outrageous bunch is focused only on shutting up and neutering the whistleblowers and guardians of the public purse, and this is after just a very few years of putting that private sector concept into play.

Do a little research on water companies and Argentina and it will curl your hair. I've seen enough to convince me that we do need government and that we, as citizens, need to permanently give up the idea that we can afford apathy and any assumptions that those within government are somehow "other." They work for us. Government is what we collectively make it; nothing more, nothing less. We let it get way out of control to the extent that these supercriminals have gained a huge foothold and we are the ones who will have to put it right.

Heaven help us stamp out election fraud!

lukery said...

thnx ew. i've front paged this, merged it with your shrillery post, and added some of my own(!) thoughts. i hope cheney's heart gives out. real soon.