Category Archives: Military

US Alliances and Imperialism is a Sub-Zero Sum Game

 Below the following quoted extracts is an excellent article which provides insights into the nature of global alliances with a focus on the United States policy which are leading our world to possibly another World War, I felt inspiration around this today.  It feels like a long journey researching but ultimately it lead me to contemplate global war and the deaths of innocent civilians who are the ones who pay the price for military misadventure in what I view as a sub-zero sum game (no-one wins, diminishes real wealth) in the name of peace when peace was never the true intent.

I contemplate the Opportunity Cost of  military/ imperialist/ capitalist strategies and where the money could have gone had it not been funnelled into fighting wars for domination but rather than learning of peace (balance) to ensure homeostasis, equilibrium and harmony.  I use ecological words as this is the real foundation of peace and abundance.  Yet in our primitive states of mind our world has believed that control and dominance is security, when it was always the opposite.  

I deeply contemplate the extraordinary loss of innocent life, the suffering of their families and the real insecurity that has been created by warfare touted as protection. The people’s of the world in actual fact are the ones that always suffer at the hands of those who believe they are either born to rule or somehow appointed by God (god given right) to rule over others, when they are not.  What if our purpose here on earth is to find true happiness and share our wealth as there is no enemy only infinite possibility.  That was the true essence of family.

Here is a important quote highlighting disproportionate wealth. It is a scenario repeating itself today as we don’t learn from history (his story).  What I find interesting is that those who believe this thinking would be the first to evoke the need for a International Court of Justice if their family’s human rights were violated. Such is the hypocracy and nature of objectivization and detached strategic thinking that ignores humanity and the true purpose to maintain peace and security. And points to why the Middle East is a disaster for the people’s of that region and the world. 

George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East stated:

we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population….In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity….To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives….We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

George Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning, Study #23, February 24, 1948

A quote that speaks to the real purpose of resource use. This is what I envisage will happen in the future…

Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.

Another interesting quote about how to control:

Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small …

And another revealing the power brokers disrupting countries:

Once small weak countries are established, it is very difficult to persuade their rulers to give up power and form those many dependent states into one economically viable nation. Conversely, it is easy for outside power brokers to support an exploitative faction to maintain or regain power. None of this can ever be openly admitted to or the neo-mercantilist world would fall apart. The fiction of sovereign governments, equal rights, fair trade, etc., must continue. To be candid is to invite immediate widespread rebellion and loss of control.

And a military quote by S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlighting the real destabilising issue of poverty (not terrorism) and how military’s are used for business and financiers objectives:

The most highly decorated Marine Corps General in U.S. history, Smedley D. Butler understood all too well the real nature of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. foreign policy in general when he concluded after his retirement in 1931 that during his 33 years as a Marine officer operating on three continents, he served as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers…a gangster for capitalism [Smedley D. Butler, America’s Armed Forces, Part 2, Common Sense, Vol. 4, No. 11 (Nov. 1935)]. But it seems that that understanding is easily forgotten. General A.M. Gray, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1990 identified threats to the United States as originating from the underdeveloped world’s growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations, creating a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies which have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources (Marine Corps Gazette, May 1990). Gray understands the structural social and economic problems, but it apparently does not occur to him that the solution might be to directly address the injustices rather than perpetuate them with the use of military force.
S. Brian Willson, Who are the REAL terrorists?, Institute for Policy Research and Development, 1999

The quote below is the Hebrew meaning of peace, imagine if everyone lived it, we would realise peace.  Perhaps the Jews and Muslims who say ‘shalom’ and mean it as peace can show us The Way home.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which is derived from one of the names of God. Hebrew root word for “complete” or “whole” implying that according to Judaism and the teachings of the Torah, only when there is a true state of “wholeness” meaning that everything is “complete” does true “peace” reign.

A last quote on terrorism and real security by Associate Professor Stephen Zunes:

To win the war against terrorism, we need to reevaluate our definition of security. The more the U.S. militarizes the Middle East, the less secure we have become. All the sophisticated weaponry, all the brave fighting men and women, and all the talented military leadership we may possess will not stop terrorism as long as our policies cause millions of people hate us.

President George W. Bush is wrong when he claims we are targeted because we are a beacon for freedom. We are targeted because the support of freedom is not part of our policy in the Middle East, which has instead been based upon alliances with repressive governments and support for military occupation. We would be much safer if the U.S. supported a policy based more on human rights, international law, and sustainable development — and less on arms transfers, air strikes, and punitive sanctions.

Stephen Zunes, Bombing Will Not Make U.S. More Secure, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 8, 2001.

The article below is about the control of resources and US supporting dictators and the rise of terrorism from a range of perspectives. How long is Pinocchio’s nose, such is a lie when told often enough, it keeps growing. What I have learned is that often those who are deceptive (within nation states not nations per se) promote they are doing the opposite. They support human rights, they support charities, care for children, the disabled, invest in sustainability, rebuild, or call out corruption but what I am realising is this is how people hide behind carefully crafted lies, promote themselves as ‘doing good’ whilst undermining others through labels that sticks and repeated enough to become history. The public are not informed so they believe them. Keeping the public ignorant is a strategy. It is how bullying and propaganda works in a world that has lost its way unable to see the whole. Democracy and freedom are words that have been used to justify violence and harm, yet violence is the very opposite of democracy and freedom. Yet no-one says anything blindly believing what they are told as they are trained to obey rather than critically think and ask ‘is it true?’.

My research is to answer the question – what is true? I have a right to know what has happened to my world and how this impacts my life as both are intricately linked. I care about the future of children. Do you? If so, you must educate yourself. Find sources that are credible. This one appears well written and credible to me, I am aware of Noam Chomsky who has studied US policy for 50 years or so. Refer his background. He is American from a Jewish background and a peacemaker living wholeness.

Control of Resources; Supporting Dictators, Rise of Terrorism

Author and Page information

  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Monday, December 30, 2002

On this page:

  1. The historic struggle for control of resources
  2. The Middle East at the center for struggle over control of resources
  3. A divided people; The West’s support for dictators and monarchies over democracies
  4. Globalization
  5. Political leaders are in between a rock and a hard place; the struggle for people’s support

The historic struggle for control of resources

As we saw in the previous section, for centuries, due to the power politics and struggle over the control of resources in the Middle East, various powers have supported numerous controversial regimes. The United States, Britain, France, and others supported dictatorships and monarchies, even overthrowing democracies.

To the populations back home the reason often given for this was for freedom, stability, containing the Soviet Union and so on. For the people of the region that had their popular leaders overthrown and replaced with corrupt rulers, this was surely not freedom. Communism was an often used reason around the world, not just the Middle East, even if it was not the case. As Noam Chomsky details, it was often a convenient excuse, but the underlying threat was often that nations might be able to use their own resources and be an example for others to follow.

Furthermore, what was going on around the world at the time of the end of the Second World War and the geopolitical changes that resulted are critical to understanding the policies and events in the Middle East. To summarize (notes for sources are below):

  • With Europe weakened, the majority of the world, which was then under imperial and colonial rule, saw their chance to break free.
  • Nationalist, revolutionary, and independence movements (some violent, some peaceful) all started to take hold and Europe had little ability to maintain control.
  • The sole remaining power that was really intact after the Second World War was the United States.
  • Allied with Europe, the U.S. helped them rebuild with a massive injection of capital. The U.S. was also an imperial power for the past few decades, as pointed out by numerous writers such as Mark Twain, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, J.W. Smith, Walden Bello and many others. The U.S. was now the de facto leader of the West.
  • The Soviet Union, on the other hand, having faced the brunt of Hitler’s forces, (some 80 percent of his armies), like Europe, had lost a considerable amount and had been decimated; there was between 7 to 27 million dead, much industry and infrastructure had been destroyed, much agriculture and livestock had been destroyed, and so on. Like most of the world breaking free, it did not have much economic assistance to rebuild, but was still able to recover quickly to partake in a terrible Cold War (see J.W. Smith quoted below, for more on this).
  • Due to its rapid development and power, the Soviet Union additionally threatened to be an example for the other newly free nations that rapid independent development was possible. But this also meant a massive diversion of the traditional resources that had been flowing out of the global South, to those imperial centers of capital.
  • To the West, then, the Soviet Union, from the start (decades earlier) was seen as evil while to the third world, it was perhaps seen as an example that independent development was possible. It may not have necessarily been seen as a direct model to follow (as its economic policies were flawed, even without the diversion of the Cold War, as well as the horrors and massacres resulting from the paranoia of Stalin, etc), but it was the idea that a nation could develop somewhat successfully, quickly, and without much assistance, that was a real threat to the West’s historic source of resources. Indeed, the Non-aligned Movement was as such yet another alternative, for example.
  • The countryside was reclaiming its resources.

The centuries-old view of the South, from the perspective of the West, was now changing. As Chomsky describes, almost with cruel humor, the South was viewed as a service provider, and if possible that was what had to be maintained, in order to preserve the wealth and balance of power:

The South is assigned a service role: to provide resources, cheap labor, markets, opportunities for investment and, lately, export of pollution. For the past half-century, the US has shouldered the responsibility for protecting the interests of the satisfied nations whose power places them above the rest, the rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations to whom the government of the world must be entrusted, as Winston Churchill put the matter after World War II.

Noam Chomsky, Year 501, (South End Press, 1993), Chapter 2

As J.W. Smith points out, with the weakening of the former Imperial European powers from World War II, Virtually the entire colonial world was breaking free and their resources would be turned to the care of their own people and no longer could be siphoned to the old imperial centers of capital for a fraction of its value.

The result of this is further described just by the chapter title itself from J.W. Smith: The World Breaking Free Frightened The Security Councils of Every Western Nation, Economic Democracy; The Political Struggle of the Twenty-First Century (1st Books, 2002, Second Edition), Chapter 7. (The previous link is a link to the reposting of that chapter. The entire book can be read on line as well.)

This control of resources being the main concern was recognized by the U.S. policy planners and was a major aspect of foreign policy strategy after World War II. Consider for example, George Kennan, head of the US State Department planning staff until 1950, and his comments on US relations with Far East:

we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population….In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity….To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives….We should cease to talk about vague and…unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

… We should recognize that our influence in the Far Eastern area in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic. We should make a careful study to see what parts of the Pacific and Far Eastern world are absolutely vital to our security, and we should concentrate our policy on seeing to it that those areas remain in hands which we can control or rely on.

George Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning, Study #23, February 24, 1948. (See also Foreign Relations of the United States 1948, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1976 for the full text where this was first published; The text to the part on realisim of US relations in the Far East; David McGowan, Derailing Democracy, (Common Courage Press, 2000), p.169; Noam Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, (Odian Press, 1993), Chapter 2.

The Cold War, then, as well as being a struggle against Communism, also provided an appropriate pretext for actions by the West around the world (led by the United States) that could be attributed to the claims of Soviet involvement, even if there wasn’t any. Chomsky is worth quoting again:

[Mainstream comments about] the overthrow of the parliamentary Mossadegh regime in Iran, observed that Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism. The service areas must be protected from Bolshevism or Communism, technical terms that refer to social transformation in ways that reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West, in the words of an important scholarly study of the 1950s. Most important, the historical record conforms very well to this commonly articulated understanding of the role of the South.

Radical and nationalistic regimes are intolerable in themselves, even more so if they appear to be succeeding in terms that might be meaningful to oppressed and suffering people. In that case they become a virus that might infect others, a rotten apple that might spoil the barrel. For the public, they are dominoes that will topple others by aggression and conquest; internally, the absurdity of this picture is often (not always) conceded, and the threat is recognized to be what Oxfam once called the threat of a good example, referring to Nicaragua.

Noam Chomsky, Year 501, (South End Press, 1993), Chapter 2

Many nations that were subsequently destabilized by the Americans, British and others were claimed to be due to this Soviet threat, but in many cases (not all), there was no Soviet involvement. In many cases, these were just nations that had gained their freedom trying to develop. In fact, many did not want to follow the Soviet example of centralized planning. (And, as J.W. Smith details in the above-mentioned book and further on in that above-cited chapter, the Soviets themselves realized that their economic system needed changes a few decades later.)

As Smith, Chomsky and others detail, some turned to the U.S. for guidance, given the very good Constitution and other principles. The U.S. helped in some cases, not in others. For some, then, where help was not available, they either turned to the Soviets (the other superpower which had resources to help), or to themselves.

Independent development threatened the loss of power, influence and cheap raw materials for the powerful nations. The Vietnam experience suggested that an empire of the type that Britain once had was not likely to be politically feasible. So instead, a new strategy was needed. As Stephen Zunes describes, the Nixon Doctrine (also known as the Guam Doctrine or “surrogate strategy”) came into being, wherein Vietnamization [reliance on South Vietnamese conscripts and a dramatically increased air war that minimized American casualties] evolved into a global policy of arming and training third world allies to become regional gendarmes for American interests. Many rulers in the third world have been supported into power as a result.(* See below for some sources detailing this perspective and history)

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The Middle East at the center for struggle over control of resources

The Middle East, then, has been quite important, geopolitically, due to the resources, and oil in particular.

  • Because this has formed a backbone to the wealth of many nations today, maintaining control of those resources has been paramount. Hence, presence in the Middle East is for stability of oil flows:

    Saudi Arabia remains the cornerstone, producing 50 percent of the whole world’s [oil] supply. So in order to keep this economic balm flowing, to keep the status quo static and the balance sheets of the major oil companies brimming, we’ve [the U.S.] installed our military as a kind of mega police force in the region. Our official reason for being there is to ensure stability, one of the great buzzwords in the history of business, but this is nothing more than spin — the military is in the Middle East to guarantee that whatever comes out of the ground is exploitable and controlled by American multinationals.

    Johnny Angel, It’s the Oil, Stupid, LA Weekly, September 26, 2001
  • Any chance that those resources would be used in different ways is naturally a threat to those who currently benefit.
  • Furthermore, was there a chance that the Soviet Union could get influence in the Middle East, resources would have been further been taken away from the influence and control of the West, as Smith highlights:

    The old Soviet empire had a long border with the Middle East. The desperation of the West to maintain control stems from the potential for those two regions to join. If that had happened, the Middle East would have had the weapons to protect their resources. The resources of the Soviet Union and the Middle East together would have been comparable to those of the West, and, by virtue of most of the world’s reserves of oil being within the borders of those two empires, and thus the potential for high oil prices, a good part of the West’s wealth could have been claimed by the East. Hence the West’s large military expenditures to maintain control in that volatile region.

    J.W. Smith, World’s Wasted Wealth II, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), pp. 294 – 295. It is also reposted on this web site as part of the previous section.
  • As a standard policy of state, nations have to keep an eye on such things.
  • In the geopolitically and ideologically charged chess games, such threats, if possible, must be contained.

The stronger, more powerful nations are obviously better equipped with more political, economic and military means. Therefore, they can be more effective in getting and ensuring their way. This makes sense from a power politics perspective. One of the main responsibilities (if not the main one) for heads of states is to ensure their nations interests are met. Diplomacy and so forth are directed by such interests.

Hence, as mentioned above, those frightened security councils were frightened at the prospect of losing more control. To them, their freedom was at stake. Yet, not mentioned to the populations back home was that this freedom was based on centuries of war and conquest and in the Middle East this was all about control of resources and geopolitical power. Hence, the freedom of some was based on non-freedom of others. (See also this web site’s section on behind consumption which provides more statistics and details of economic policies that lead to this skewed use of resources around the globe.)

The United States and Western Europe were therefore prepared to protect one of the sources of their wealth and power. They was prepared to go to many lengths to do so. For example,

  • Massive amounts of capital injection direct, and indirect, via Japan and international institutions, helped in developing and extending freedoms to various other East Asian nations. This would serve to contain threats such as Soviet expansion. Wars were fought, or dictators supported, if needed. (See Smith, Chomsky, Gowan, Bello, etc. mentioned below in the sources for more details.)
  • Throughout Latin America and Africa, various democracies were overthrown and dictators supported, or malleable pseudo democracies were supported. (See the Noam Chomsky Archive, also mentioned below, for far more details, including detailed research on destabilization of various Latin American democracies that did not have Soviet influence that was claimed. See also this site’s section on conflicts in Africa, and on the arms trade.)
  • In the Middle East, control of natural resources has been centuries-old politics. It had not changed, although the players may have, slightly.

Indian author and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy, describes in the British newspaper, The Guardian, the result of American sponsored actions: millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel — backed by the US — invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list. (Arundhati Roy, The algebra of infinite justice, The Guardian, September 29, 2001)

With almost all the above, as researched heavily by Chomsky, Smith and others, these were nations where there was a possibly successful independent development; independent from Western influence and, in many cases, independent from Soviet influence. However, the Soviet/communist excuse was used as a pretext for these interventions. Various well-known criminals and human rights abusers were trained by the United States, for example. The School of the Americas is a well known example of this, as also mentioned on this web site (see the previous link). The United States therefore participated directly, or indirectly, in many wars and conflicts. In the Middle East, it was no different. William Blum, investigative journalist, and former employee at the U.S. State Department, where he resigned in 1967 over the Vietnam war is worth quoting here:

The Eisenhower Doctrine stated that the United States is prepared to used armed forces to assist any Middle Eastern country requesting assistance against armed aggression from any country controlled by international communism. The English translation of this was that no one would be allowed to dominate, or have exclusive influence over, the Middle East and its oil fields except the United States, and that anyone who tried would be, by definition communist.

William Blum, Rogue State, (Common Courage Press, 2000), pp. 131 – 132

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A divided people; The West’s support for dictators and monarchies over democracies

Already, before World War II, as mentioned in the previous section, various monarchs had been put in place in various countries whose borders had been defined mainly by British and French colonial administrations. Many monarchs were not even local. They were the ones that could be allied to the imperial rulers and counted on to control local populations. As Britain had learned for decades, and so sharply remembered by people of India, large populations could be controlled by relatively tiny administrations by divide and conquer tactics keeping or creating antagonism between local groups, keeping borders small and so on, so as to make uniting as difficult as possible. (Of course, it proved not to be impossible.) It is worth quoting Smith again, to highlight the geopolitical significance of this:

Once small weak countries are established, it is very difficult to persuade their rulers to give up power and form those many dependent states into one economically viable nation. Conversely, it is easy for outside power brokers to support an exploitative faction to maintain or regain power. None of this can ever be openly admitted to or the neo-mercantilist world would fall apart. The fiction of sovereign governments, equal rights, fair trade, etc., must continue. To be candid is to invite immediate widespread rebellion and loss of control.

J.W. Smith, World’s Wasted Wealth II, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 294. It is also reposted on this web site as part of the previous section.


In this web site’s section’s Africa introduction, it is pointed out how in 1885, the Berlin Conference saw the European nations create borders in Africa that met the interests of the Europeans, and allowed them to try to share the spoils of Africa between them. European culture at that time had already labeled the African people and their cultures as non-civilized and not having rights, and hence justified such things as slavery, carving up borders as they saw fit, etc. As mentioned earlier, Middle Eastern people (Arabs and Jews) were also likewise described in negative light for centuries to justify action and exploitation there.

European geopolitics in the earlier half of the 20th century in the wider Middle East region contributed to a lot of instability overall and to a similar carve up that Africa had experienced just a few decades earlier, and is still coming to grips with. The British Empire, especially, played a major role in the region. During World War I, in 1916, it convinced Arab leaders to revolt against the Ottoman Empire (which was allied with Germany). In return, the British government would support the establishment of an independent Arab state in the region, including Palestine. Yet, in contradiction to this, in 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Minister, issued a declaration (the Balfour Declaration). This announced the British Empire’s support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

As a further complication, there was a deal between Imperial Britain and France to carve up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire and divide control of the region. The spoils of war were to be shared. As in 1885 in the Berlin Conference where Africa was carved up amongst the various European empires, parts of the Middle East were to also be carved up, which would require artificial borders, support of monarchies, dictators and other leaders that could be regarded as puppets or at least could be influenced by these external powers.

But also as with Africa, the imposition of artificial borders, unpopular rulers etc would not be accepted without struggle and following World War II, the region became even more important for its energy sources.

In the Middle East, the Arab people had a common faith that bound them together. This meant that even more extreme measures for subjugation and control would be needed. One such result was the extremely heavy militarization of the region. Millions of dollars worth of weapons were poured in to support the puppet regimes. As described in the arms trade section of this web site, it is still the most heavily militarized region in the world, with the majority of military aid going to that region, from the powerful nations.

With harsh rulers and authoritarian regimes like the Monarchy of Saudi Arabia, or the Shah of Iran, counter-militancy and falling back on the most extremist interpretations of Islam resulted. Extreme militarization was resulting in extreme militancy and fanaticism.

As also detailed in the previous section, an Iranian revolution took hold in 1979 with the Ayatollah Khomeini and an extremist Islamic state being formed. In a documentary on PBS in 2000, (I do not recall exactly when, unfortunately), those women interviewed had initially supported the revolution because of the oppression of the Shah. They had believed that the revolution would lead them to a better future. However, in just a few years, they were to find that one form of extremism had been replaced by another, and women in general had not gained as they thought they would. (In recent months or years, it seems that the Iranian government is trying to become more moderate. Future developments, geopolitics and time will tell how that turns out.) Throughout the region, various human rights groups have documented the harsh conditions and lack of progress in development for many in those societies.

However, from this Islamic revolution (and other such struggles), combined with the feeling of hopelessness of other avenues, the perverted realization that Islamic extremism, anti-West sentiments etc may hold the answer, started to ferment.

In addition, as detailed further below, as part of the Cold War, the U.S. via Pakistan helped develop and train Islamic extremist mujahdeen fighters in an attempt to destabilize the Soviet Union. The religious call for mujahadeen fighters also attracted extremists from the Middle East (such as Osama Bin Laden and others).

The National Security Archives project at the George Washington University published declassified U.S. documents revealing the extent of U.S. propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the early years of the Cold War. While not as effective as would have been preferred, it gives an idea of the extent to which the U.S. was willing to go to gain support for geopolitical and ideological purposes.

Many in the region see the oppression from their leaders coming from the support by the West, America in particular. In some of the regimes friendly to the United States, some of the worst human rights abuses are described.

Turkey is one such example:

  • While one of the more democratic regimes, it has had a long conflict with neighbours, and segements of its own people, such as Kurd separatists.
  • As mentioned on this site, and pointed out by Amnesty International and others, there have been over 30,000 deaths in the last 14 years in the struggle and conflict against the Kurds.
  • Yet, the overwhelming number of these 30,000 deaths, not to mention widespread mutilation and rape, are the responsibility of the Turkish military, as the British newspaper, The Guardian, points out.
  • Turkey, as mentioned in this web site’s arms trade section, is one of the largest recipients of US military aid.

Saudi Arabia is another example, as all these reports by Amnesty International testify to.

In other cases, regimes that have previously been friendly to the United States have been supported for geopolitical reasons, regardless of how they treat and rule over their people. Only when they have gone too far (i.e. affected national interests) are they demonized or in some ways regarded as hostile (often appropriately so).

Iraq is an example of this:

  • As described by various links in this web site’s section on Iraq, when Sadam Hussain committed his murderous acts of gassing Kurds and others in his own land, and in the war against Iran, using chemical and biological weapons etc, it was during the time of U.S. support of Sadam to wage war against Iran and the new revolution.
  • The weapons and technology for biological and chemical weapons had come from the West.
  • The invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War allowed the U.S. to highlight these crimes but without mentioning how he had been able to get these means.
  • Furthermore, the Gulf War saw the death of an estimated 200,000 Iraqi’s, 100,000 of which were civilian.
  • And since the sanctions, the United Nations point out that 1,000,000 people have died and UNICEF points out that some half a million children have died, some 5000 per month, to which Madeline Albright has commented on public television that this price was worth it.
  • The U.S. and U.K. are largely the ones keeping the sanctions in place, despite objections from other nations and resignations of U.N. programme coordinators over this.
  • These sanctions have turned out to be a weapon of mass destruction!
  • Arab people throughout the Middle East are naturally infuriated to see their own people suffering (all while Sadam Hussein remains unaffected).
  • See the Iraq section on this site for more details and sources. (See also Gowan, sourced below.)

Afghanistan is another:

  • As is well known and accepted now, the CIA aided and funded terrorist regimes, such as the mujahadin and Osama Bin Laden, with the aid of Pakistan, to get the Soviets involved in Afghanistan and to ultimately help defeat them.
  • The vile and extremist Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, accused of terrible human rights violations (especially against women), oppressive extremist religious practices, and so on. (See for example, all the Amnesty International Afghanistan reports for more details.)
  • It is a large conduit for illegal drugs as well.

Some aspects have not escaped the mainstream media either. America’s NBC, for example, captures the result of all this quite well:

At the CIA, it happens often enough to have a code name: Blowback. Simply defined, this is the term that describes an agent, an operative or an operation that has turned on its creators. Osama bin Laden, our new public enemy Number 1, is the personification of blowback.

Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost, MSNBC, Aug. 24, 1998

Roy describes a sickening twist of power politics in light of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11:

In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America’s proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against itself.) … After all that has happened [with the September 11, 2000 terrorist attacks in America], can there be anything more ironic than Russia and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan?

Arundhati Roy, The algebra of infinite justice, The Guardian, September 29, 2001

Israel has always been a sensitive issue. For regional support, as mentioned earlier, the West has often sought support, in the forms of likeable dictators/monarchs etc. It has even supported and fueled wars against each other. Israel has been another country that has received enormous amounts of military aid.

  • The peace process, the Arabs have felt, has been grossly one sided, with the influential U.S. constantly backing the side of Israel as pointed out by Chomsky in the previous link.
  • Ordinary Arab citizens have additionally been extremely frustrated at their own leaders for not helping Palestinians.
  • Those states or organizations that have provided support, including for example, Lebanon, the Hizbollah, Syria, etc. have been branded unofficially or officially, terrorist or rogue states. (Sometimes, justifiably, and such crimes should not be belittled, either.)

An often-heard argument in the West is that Arabs have got themselves in this plight because of their constant bickering and disunity. This is partly true, but this almost blanket statement negates this larger history and complications of political maneuverings and support for various regimes (by the West as well). (See this web site’s section on the Palestine/Israel conflict for more links and sources on that issue.) Furthermore, a part of the disunity comes from the frustration and disagreement on how to handle what they see as unilateral U.S. interests in the region. Supporting Israel no matter what has further infuriated Arab citizens:

International isolation [of the United States and Israel] increased in the mid-1970s, when virtually the entire world endorsed a modification of UN 242 [calling for peace along with Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories resulting from land captured after the 1967 Israel-Arab war] to include a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Washington was compelled to veto a Security Council resolution to this effect in January 1976, to vote regularly against subsequent UN resolutions, and to block other diplomatic initiatives from Europe, the Arab states, the PLO, and others.

Noam Chomsky, Israel, Lebanon, and the Peace Process, April 23, 1996

The following list from Stephen Shalom lists some specific incidents of U.S. policy in the Middle East since the Second World War ended. (The original article also points out that this list misses out other long term policies such as those mentioned above. Nonetheless, it begins to give an idea why there is anti-West sentiment and anti-US in particular, in the Middle East.)

  • 1948: Israel established. U.S. declines to press Israel to allow expelled Palestinians to return.
  • 1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.
  • 1953: CIA helps overthrow the democratically-elected Mossadeq government in Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company) leading to a quarter-century of repressive and dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.
  • 1956: U.S. cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt after Egypt receives Eastern bloc arms.
  • 1956: Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt. U.S. does not support invasion, but the involvement of its NATO allies severely diminishes Washington’s reputation in the region.
  • 1958: U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve stability.
  • early 1960s: U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.
  • 1963: U.S. reported to give Iraqi Ba’ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor.
  • 1967-: U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war.
  • 1970: Civil war between Jordan and PLO. Israel and U.S. prepare to intervene on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.
  • 1972: U.S. blocks Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s efforts to reach a peace agreement with Israel.
  • 1973: Airlifted U.S. military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war with Syria and Egypt.
  • 1973-75: U.S. supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq. When Iran reaches an agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the border, Iraq slaughters Kurds and U.S. denies them refuge. Kissinger secretly explains that covert action should not be confused with missionary work.
  • 1975: U.S. vetoes Security Council resolution condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
  • 1978-79: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah. U.S. tells Shah it supports him without reservation and urges him to act forcefully. Until the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save the Shah, but to no avail.
  • 1979-88: U.S. begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before Soviet invasion in Dec. 1979. Over the next decade U.S. provides training and more than $3 billion in arms and aid.
  • 1980-88: Iran-Iraq war. When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Security Council action to condemn the invasion. U.S. soon removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism and allows U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq. At the same time, U.S. lets Israel provide arms to Iran and in 1985 U.S. provides arms directly (though secretly) to Iran. U.S. provides intelligence information to Iraq. Iraq uses chemical weapons in 1984; U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. 1987 U.S. sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq’s side; an overly-aggressive U.S. ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.
  • 1981, 1986: U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya in waters claimed by Libya with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi. In 1981, a Libyan plane fires a missile and two Libyan planes shot down. In 1986, Libya fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S. attacks Libyan patrol boats, killing 72, and shore installations. When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub, killing two Americans, the U.S. charges that Qaddafi was behind it (possibly true) and conducts major bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of civilians, including Qaddafi’s adopted daughter.
  • 1982: U.S. gives green light to Israeli invasion of Lebanon, killing some 17 thousand civilians. U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S. weapons except in self-defense. U.S. vetoes several Security Council resolutions condemning the invasion.
  • 1983: U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping force; intervene on one side of a civil war, including bombardment by USS New Jersey. Withdraw after suicide bombing of marine barracks.
  • 1984: U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian airliner.
  • 1987-92: U.S. arms used by Israel to repress first Palestinian Intifada. U.S. vetoes five Security Council resolution condemning Israeli repression.
  • 1988: Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish population and uses chemical weapons against them. The U.S. increases its economic ties to Iraq.
  • 1988: U.S. vetoes 3 Security Council resolutions condemning continuing Israeli occupation of and repression in Lebanon.
  • 1990-91: U.S. rejects any diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (for example, rebuffing any attempt to link the two regional occupations, of Kuwait and of Palestine). U.S. leads international coalition in war against Iraq. Civilian infrastructure targeted. To promote stability U.S. refuses to aid post-war uprisings by Shi’ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter flights.
  • 1991-: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq. U.S. and Britain block all attempts to lift them. Hundreds of thousands die. Though Security Council had stated that sanctions were to be lifted once Saddam Hussein’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended, Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as Saddam remains in power. Sanctions in fact strengthen Saddam’s position. Asked about the horrendous human consequences of the sanctions, Madeleine Albright (U.S. ambassador to the UN and later Secretary of State) declares that the price is worth it.
  • 1993-: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self-defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months earlier.
  • 1998: U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over the issue of weapons inspections, even though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.
  • 1998: U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan’s pharmaceutical supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in chemical warfare. U.S. later acknowledges lack of evidence for the chemical warfare charge.
  • 2000-: Israel uses U.S. arms in attempt to crush Palestinian uprising, killing hundreds of civilians.

(See also works from the above-mentioned William Blum for a similar list as well. As an example, see his book, Rogue State, (Common Courage Press, 2000).)

This is not a complete set of examples, but not atypical of the region either. As also mentioned in the previous section, numerous areas in the region were carved into different territories with monarchs put there. Not all were necessarily oppressive in physical ways. Some restricted cultural, political, and/or economic freedoms. The net result was they did not (and do not) necessarily represent (or perhaps even respect) the actual people of the region entirely.

Furthermore, with the large commissions that accompany arms sales, and the heavy militarization, many accuse their leaders of being easily corruptible. There has also been frustration that the Arab leaders are divided, interested in their own power games within their region and hence unable to unite or present one voice on many issues, including Palestine/Israel.

In that respect, after decades of this, some have felt limited options of where to turn; religion has failed them, their leaders have failed them, those that tried are either seen as bought out, or isolated or in some way not delivering. Fanatics and militants see easy recruitment for their causes, as a result. Hatred is easy to teach. Extremist views are easier to preach (especially with the success of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime in fighting off the Soviets, another feared power).

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With the Cold War over and the West victorious, globalization in its current form was able to spread further. Conflicts also broke out between nations that were within the sphere of Soviet influence, especially in Central Asia, where many were Islamic. Extremist regimes and organizations were involved in participating in those conflicts for separation.

In addition, with globalization, came the increasing spread of western culture to the global South. In the Middle East as well, western products and more importantly, culture, was coming in more so. While around the world, not just the Middle East there has been increasing concern at what is described as cultural imperialism, because of the extremes in the Middle East, for the extremists and fanatics, this has added to the concerns and anti-West feelings that have spilled into violent actions and hatred.

Hardly touched upon on this page has been the economic policies that have accompanied these geopolitical policies. Harsh Structural Adjustment imposition on the Third World for example, as described on this site (see previous link), has deepened poverty for most in the world. Walden Bello, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines, and co-director of Thailand-based research organization, Focus on the Global South, describes the harsh geopolitical ramifications well:

[T]he Southern policies of all the key Northern governments on the eve of the twenty-first century are marked by similar features. These include continued support for structural adjustment in the Third World; creation of a new Berlin Wall to prevent the entry of refugees fleeing the devastation of the South; exploitation of tribal fears of racial and ethnic minorities to deflect domestic attention away from structural causes of economic distress; and demonization of Southern figures or institutions, such as Islam, as the new enemy in the post-Cold War era. … Not surprisingly, the dark vision of the twenty-first century as an era of North-South polarization between privileged white citizens and colored barbarian hordes, or between the Christian West and the Islamic-Confusion Connection, has begun to take hold in the writings of Northern intellectuals.

Walden Bello, Shea Cunningham, Bill Rau, Dark Victory; The United States and Global Poverty, (Food First, Pluto Press, 1994, 1999), p.6

The political economy of globalization therefore has been accompanied by all nations vying to best represent their interests. Of course, the more powerful and stronger nations are better able to represent their interests, which can also have the effect of undermining others. The United States being the most successful and powerful nation on the international political scene therefore weilds incredible power and influence, as Professor Wade of the prestigious London School of Economics, for example, vividly highlights:

These power relations and exercises of statecraft are obscured in the current talk about globalization. Far from being just a collapsing of distance and widening of opportunities for all, the increasing mobility of information, finance, goods and services frees the American government of constraints while more tightly constraining everyone else. Globalization and the global supervisory organizations enable the United States to harness the rest of the world to its own rhythms and structure.

Professor Robert Hunter Wade, America’s Empire Rules an Unbalanced World, January 3, 2002

Because we live in such times, it is hard to see or accept that today’s global political system, from the perspective of many in the third world, is a continuation of the system of previous decades and centuries, but of course evolved with its own nuances and complexities. Oftentimes, then, military solutions and other aggressive courses of actions are supported without understanding or considering the deeper and long term causes of various situations. S. Brian Willson, a U.S. Vietnam War veteran, now a peace activist highlights an aspect of this quite well:

The most highly decorated Marine Corps General in U.S. history, Smedley D. Butler understood all too well the real nature of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. foreign policy in general when he concluded after his retirement in 1931 that during his 33 years as a Marine officer operating on three continents, he served as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers…a gangster for capitalism [Smedley D. Butler, America’s Armed Forces, Part 2, Common Sense, Vol. 4, No. 11 (Nov. 1935)]. But it seems that that understanding is easily forgotten. General A.M. Gray, former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in 1990 identified threats to the United States as originating from the underdeveloped world’s growing dissatisfaction over the gap between rich and poor nations, creating a fertile breeding ground for insurgencies which have the potential to jeopardize regional stability and our access to vital economic and military resources (Marine Corps Gazette, May 1990). Gray understands the structural social and economic problems, but it apparently does not occur to him that the solution might be to directly address the injustices rather than perpetuate them with the use of military force.

S. Brian Willson, Who are the REAL terrorists?, Institute for Policy Research and Development, 1999

Such factors in the Middle East on top of the heavy militarism and political oppression have also contributed to extremism.

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Political leaders are in between a rock and a hard place; the struggle for people’s support

Political leaders throughout various regions, be it the Middle East, or Western countries, are in a tough situation, on many fronts. The following is perhaps an oversimplified number of fronts but gives a hint of the challenges:

The people front
Democracy or no democracy, people can and will only take so much. At some point, they will rise up and ask for their demands to be met. This can be via democratic processes, or through various movements, violent or peaceful.
The extremist front
There are always extremists on all sides, everywhere. They are able to exert some influence, to varying degrees and try to garnish popular support if possible. This can be very destabilizing depending on many circumstances and conditions.
The corporate/geopolitical front
There are various interests pulling at leaders to either do or not do something, in relation to some event. This might be to go to war, to enforce economic sanctions, some other form of diplomacy, or deal with such things coming at one’s country from others. These interests are often not always the interests of the majority of people.

With various fronts also influencing the mainstream media of that nation/region, then other actors or some of these above actors can have more say, directly or indirectly. One such example is the arms industry, as mentioned in this web site’s section on that issue. (See this web site’s section on the mainstream media for more examples.) Such influences can affect popular opinions and create support or lack of support on various issues. Gaining popular support or convincing the population has been of major importance. For dictators etc, such propaganda also serves to try to minimize the risk of an uprising. For democracies, where the media’s democratic institutions are weak or subject to influences, propaganda can create support.

Hence, in the West, our perceptions of the Middle East are subject to these influences in the mainstream media and elsewhere, just as we point out how the perceptions of the West in the Middle East are subject to influences of extremism.

As a result of these decisions, lives of ordinary citizens, be it the West, Middle East, or elsewhere can be affected.

Stephen Zunes, associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, as well as a senior policy analyst and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project is worth quoting here, in light of the September 11, 2001 atrocity and resulting actions:

To win the war against terrorism, we need to reevaluate our definition of security. The more the U.S. militarizes the Middle East, the less secure we have become. All the sophisticated weaponry, all the brave fighting men and women, and all the talented military leadership we may possess will not stop terrorism as long as our policies cause millions of people hate us.

President George W. Bush is wrong when he claims we are targeted because we are a beacon for freedom. We are targeted because the support of freedom is not part of our policy in the Middle East, which has instead been based upon alliances with repressive governments and support for military occupation. We would be much safer if the U.S. supported a policy based more on human rights, international law, and sustainable development — and less on arms transfers, air strikes, and punitive sanctions.

Stephen Zunes, Bombing Will Not Make U.S. More Secure, Foreign Policy in

Targeting Civilians: Brigadier General Jan Karpinski Speaks About Abu Ghraib Prison

Brigadier General Jan Karpinski Set Up Over Abu Ghraib Prison

The radio interview below is an interview with Janis Karpinksi the former commander of Abu Ghraib detention facility near Baghdad, Iraq.  The interview is with Freedom Radio.

There is a wise saying: 

“It is for those who know to tell the blind horseman on the blind horse that he is heading for the abyss” (Lao Tzu)

“It is the truth that sets you free” (transparency, openness, honesty)

A quote from General Janis Karpinski:

“We were all taken in government took advantage of us  in our reeling response to 911, at weakest moment we know who did this, we need to go get them. We all bought in to it, because we were afraid, kept reminding us that we needed to be afraid, be very afraid that was the justification to march forward with this ridiculous plan they reminded to be afraid”

Americans and others around the world when vigilant about what is done in their name, can ensure a free and open society. Secrecy and silence is the sign of repression and dictatorship.  Ignorance may be convenient and soothing to ignore truths bravely revealed but eventually it comes home to roost.  That is when people say its “not fair”.  

Strangely I found this interview by chance as I looked at a documentary on Netflicks that showed a place called Abu Ghraib in Egypt.  It was about pyramids. My curiosity about what this name meant lead me to Janis Karpinski, a female commanding officer who ran 17 detention centre in Iraq and was targeted as responsible (without trial) for Abu Ghraib torture and rendition.  The interview reveals, she was indeed set up by those at the top.  She was kept in the dark about the interrogations and kept busy as the real architects former US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, General Sanchez and others gave the green light to torture with the “gloves off”.  They had outcomes they wanted to see.  She reveals how power works and operates secretly and the insanity of sweeping for thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, some of whom had violated curfew, others petty criminals to find themselves imprisoned and tortured for information they didn’t know.  The objective in Iraq was to find Saddam Hussein, this was an agenda of those at the top and has Scott Ritter indicated was not about weapons of mass destruction (cover story).  Andrew Wilkie here in Australia was a whistle-blower in respect of the Australian Government following the US in an illegal war of aggression.  He was an Intelligence Officer with the Officer of National Assessment on the Iraqi desk and he indicated there was low threat to Australians.  In truth there was no threat to Australians or Americans. The Australian Government was supportive of this war.  This is very concerning.  It appears unconditional support. I would ask why?

Brigadeir General Karpinksi said the majority of those incarcerated were ordinary Iraqi citizens, some well educated, swept up, inclusive of whole families, detained in these facilities without any idea of the charges or when they would be released. It had been made clear to her that because they were not “prisoners of war” they did not receive the rights and just treatment provided under the Geneva Conventions.  She was told bluntly they had “no rights”.  Note this is a departure from a democratic philosophy towards dictatorship.

Warning bells should go off at this point as this is illegal as they are detained without trial.  I contemplated the refugees “detained” here in Australia as I listened to her.  I contemplated protestors detained for 14 days without trial under the ASIO Act, I interviewed Scott Parkin a US citizen held for protesting and teaching nonviolent techniques to effectively protest Halliburton (key contractor in Iraq) in Sydney.  I contemplated the cowardice (as she put it) of those in command who manipulated events to portray her as the one responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib. This is deception at the highest levels.

She also dropped a bomb shell so to speak when she stated the photos were deliberately done (as was the war).  The interrogators apparently received the techniques from Guantanamo Bay.

It seems very clear from listening that the need “to win the war” is what drove these decisions from the top. A rationale of the ends justifies the means. When means is what creates the ends in truth.  Following the rules of war, the military and Geneva Conventions.  It is clear that civilians were treated like potential criminals and mixed in with those who were combatants. Ironically, combatants have protections under the Geneva Conventions but not the civilians do not, this is very disturbing, this means they can do anything to them.  She reflected on the rights of US citizens, the right to go before a court, which the Iraqi’s requested (lawyers) and were denied as there were not enough lawyers they said (I doubt that is true).  Human Rights Lawyers came to Guantanamo to determine test cases as here is a democracy violating its own principles and laws in another country, as it is not held to account. That is revealing as the mask of decency is off.  So a key principle of a democratic system is to go before a judge was denied, to be provided with an attorney (equality before the law) and the right to a fair hearing (without bias). She stated the Iraqi judiciary, despite Saddam Hussein’s abuses, were extremely fair better than US courts.  

She had extensive experience in the Middle East and often talked to local people to find out what they thought. She had respect for the Iraqi people and contrasted them with the US people.  She said they were well educated. She said if Americans stood in the shoes of Iraqi’s how they might feel in the army came and shot their neighbours and they knew were next.  What if your whole family is taken away.  This is a General making this statement.  Apparently the women and mothers would wait outside the prison in hope their fathers, brothers and uncles would be released.  They went after men around 28 with beards (all men had beards).  She was astounded at how easily American’s believe their leaders. 

She also spoke of wanting to make a positive difference, she had trained women in the United Arab Emirites in the military.  I am sure she would have offended those in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries given their attitudes to women. Clearly in the US she was pioneering women in the military and sought to be taken seriously by demanding leadership roles.  That discrimination in my view is still very evident.

The fact she was blamed and selected given she is a woman, is not surprising to me, as this incensed the population more given how women are perceived. Her demonisation was a skilfull intelligence deflection from those responsible, whom she called cowards, and the truth of who actually ordered the interrogations. She was deceived and then made a scapegoat, this is a great travesty of justice and it happens when good people do nothing.  I totally understand the humiliation of being targeted with allegations that are untrue.  The stress of not being able to defend yourself or access justice but put in a position where she must defend herself and the many who won’t believe her. She didn’t even have a hearing nor did anyone speak to her face. She experienced no response, secrecy and orchestrated behind her back. She was encouraged to return to the US from Iraq assured her career was fine.  It was not.  She was vilified and this is a form of victimisation (bullying) that is noteworthy. 

She makes a very powerful quote at the end of this radio program (see below).  It is recommended listening given the times we are moving through, the changes to legislation restricting rights (here in Australia), the blind eye to human rights violations and the notion of democracy as just a word not a way of life.  It is evident democracy is no longer real when leaders do not live the values their country states it believes in.  It is clear in the case of Americans it is no longer life, liberty and happiness that is valued.  Until citizens claim their democratic right to speak up, ask questions and actually investigate what is being done in their name, this will only worsen as people are not held to account.  This appears the only way they learn or dissuades others from totalitarian objectives that ignore the rights of others.  This is the era of human rights in my view.  

Fear is a tactic used in the war on terror.  It is noteworthy to reflect on demonisation in all its forms.  However, the truth is coming out and this is a good thing.  It is up to people to make up their own minds, as Janis advises.

All soldiers (no matter the country) need to reflect deeply on those at the top and if they are being placed in harms way, to ask is this in defence of freedoms or to protect the wealth of a few without any regard for the safety or rights of civilians (innocent people).  Something to deeply ponder.

As a briefing prior to the audio click the link to an interview with George Negus, who is a highly respected journalist and foreign correspondent in Australia who has interviewed Brigadeir General Janis Karpinski, this will make her side clearer and provides a written transcript identifying names.  Refer

A  reflection:

We must teach children peace education, universal values, anti-discrimination training and questioning (critical thinking) in order to prevent future abuses or deception.  Moreover, we need to train them in conflict resolution so they learn how to resolve conflict and not model on war games.  I wish for the wars to be over as they do not work.  They are utilised as is becoming clearer by vested interests who are in it for profit not peace.  I note that the US and Israel pulled out of United Nations Education, Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) this was promoting peace education around the world. It is noteworthy that they are not interested in peace.  Refer  The israeli lobby comes to mind.  The issue of one vote one value in a democracy comes to mind and the fact that no particular group should have disproportionate influence over government.

Conflict resolution should be mandatory for every soldier so they can be utilised as peace keepers to keep warring parties apart, to communicate effectively (raised in Janis audio) and help with environmental or climate disasters, ensure human rights and work as honorable peace keeping units to serve society and global peace. That is their foremost function not to serve corruption in any form.  So they do not need to lose jobs but be deployed in service to humanity.  They won’t be hated in this type of deployment.  The New Earth Army was one example by Colonel Jim Channon.  Violence cannot at any point teach peace, although it does strengthen the desire for peace.   In that I see its purpose.

As for illegality and projection of power in the service of cruelty and business interests (contractors), it is imperative that kangaroo courts are not set up to make it appear that justice is done without evidence or a fair hearing.  This is why the Justice system is important and the ethics and training of Judges must be impeccable.  They must be incorruptible, neutral and imbued with fairness as this is what ensures real security, rights and freedoms which are the basis of a civil society.  There have been calls for war crimes tribunals for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld former CEO of Halliburton (Oil industry). The fact that the US military is aligned with the Energy Industry immediately leads to the conclusion as the reason for US warfare, this must be investigated as millions of people are being killed. Refer  Amercian’s speak of being patriotic to their country, however it is the duty of citizens to say no to abuses in their names. There is an unquestioned allegiance to the military which has been a deliberate strategy to ensure no critiques, this is how power and control works. Moreover, countries like Australia have a duty as good friends to speak the truth to power if they know they are engaged in criminality. It matters not if it is civilians in other countries or in the home country.  Leaders values influence their citizens.

The audio interview with General Janis Karpinsky is as follows:

SAS Soldier McBride Leak is a Stand for Democracy

In the public interest.

A key quote:

Martin Luther King said “sometimes silence is the greatest betrayal of all’, or as General David Morrison put it “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.

A man after my own heart… there are many great men in the military.  I respect truth, honour and justice.  If you know of a crime stand for truth. End of story, literally.

Note: the process David took is a process many take as they are not answered, ignored and accountability absent. Then attempts are made to intimidate the press rather than the hard work of looking within.  Denial is not a river in Egypt.

The issue of disrespect is mentioned in the article, I note this attitude is across the board as values are not modelled as ‘who we are’ as a culture.  Democracy in my view is not just a word, it is who we are yet there are some in high places that consider accountability, transparency and freedom of speech an impediment rather than a value that drives to the heart of why we do what we do.

‘My duty was to stand and be counted’: Why I leaked to the ABC

Fifty-nine years ago today, my father, Dr William McBride, “discovered” that the drug thalidomide was causing birth defects. A relatively junior gynaecologist in his thirties with a young family, the long weekend gave him an opportunity to do the necessary thinking and draw the fateful conclusions.

As a former army officer who released classified documents to journalists, today I face a very different set of circumstances on a June long weekend. I will soon be facing trial in the ACT Supreme Court for charges relating to this act.

Dr William McBride with David, far left, and the rest of the McBride family in their Blakehurst home in 1972.

Dr William McBride with David, far left, and the rest of the McBride family in their Blakehurst home in 1972.CREDIT:ROBERT RICE/FAIRFAX MEDIA

Much as I would have liked it, my life has none of the fame and fortune of my father. He started at the bottom and reached the top, and I started at the top and may yet reach the very bottom. Yet despite outward appearances, I’m happy with where I’ve been, and where I’m going. My passion for using my brain to defend democracy and our hard won democratic freedoms is undiminished.

Having been sent to boarding school at a young age, I grew up on stories of WWII. My imagination was constantly filled with the deeds of those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we now take for granted. Subsequently, all I ever wanted to be was a soldier.

Even now I don’t consider myself an ex-soldier. My uniforms hang pristine waiting for the day they might be used again. But the essence of being an officer is not in the uniforms, or the medals. It’s in the funerals. The moment when you face a young man or woman who will face the rest of their life without their loved one. People accept death. It’s part of the job. What they can’t accept is waste. The question they want answered is consistent and valid: “Can you reassure me my beloved did not die for nothing.”

I take this responsibility seriously. It matters. A society that takes the lives of its most dedicated and idealistic youth recklessly or cynically is a society doomed to fail.

My time in the British Army taught me what leadership is, and what it isn’t. Its not about looking tougher than your soldiers, or giving them orders. They largely know what to do before you tell them, having spent their whole lives “in uniform”. There is one thing they rely on you to do: stand up and be counted when it matters. One job. But it’s a job that needs to be done, and only you can do.

I did two tours of Afghanistan for Australia. Each was hard in its own way, but equally they were also the best things I have done in my life. As an officer your responsibility remains the same, whether you are protecting soldiers from the Taliban or their own political masters. In 2013 my career reached a crisis point. It was my second deployment, this time as legal officer with the Special Forces, those who sacrifice most for our country. The point came where there was no doubt in my mind that a line had been crossed, and lives were being cynically wasted. My duty was to “stand and be counted” and I did. Whatever happens from now on is in many ways irrelevant. I did what I believe had to be done. My main enemy was not the chain of command, or even the police, rather myself.

The process of standing up took many years, and many forms. It started with a politely worded internal complaint. When that failed, I went first to the police, and then the minister. Finally I went to the press. Which brings us to my trial. The details probably matters less than the principle, namely, that I believed the Australian Defence Force had failed. Failed in its duty to its soldiers, failed in its duty to Australia. It’s a claim I stand by to this day.

Whistleblower David William McBride has been charged for leaking defence documents to journalists.

Whistleblower David William McBride has been charged for leaking defence documents to journalists.CREDIT:ALEXANDRA BACK

Whatever glossy ads we make, the life of those who defend our shores is a hard one. It is performed by hard people, and it needs to be. Death will always be part of the job. They accept that. What they can never accept is that those who they entrusted with their lives and the futures of their families, did not do “everything possible” to keep them alive or bring them home. Everything.

Soldiers need to die but the way we treat them says everything about who we are as a nation. A nation that treats its soldiers with disrespect is a nation in decline, but one that deserves to decline. I have no regrets about what I did, and I am ready to face the consequences as the justice system sees fit.

I am lucky in this regard in that Australia has possibly the most enviable legal “pedigree” in the world. Born of the ancient tradition of parliamentary democracy and “rule of law” whose beautiful, but painful evolution can be traced back through 800 years of the Magna Carta.

The rights and freedoms we enjoy are the product of idealism combined with suffering. In addition to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, we have undoubtedly inherited the almost timeless, wondrous spirit of the Indigenous people of this continent. While we are protected by these laws they also come with responsibilities. To the earth, and to each other. To ourselves.

A judge will decide my fate, and as a “true believer” in the rule of law, I willingly submit myself to that fate. How could I not, as it is the very same rule of law from which I claim my unenviable but inevitable duty. Whatever they decide, I believe that I did my duty.

David McBride is a former military lawyer and captain in Britain’s elite Special Air Service and the whistleblower at the centre of Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC’s Sydney headquarters on WednesdayHe was charged in September last year with theft of Commonwealth property, namely war crimes investigation files, and three counts of breaching the Defence Act. He was also charged under old secrecy provisions in the Commonwealth Crimes Act. He is due to face court on June 13.

US Defence and Climate Change: What is the National Security Challenge?

I recall the days of the Greenies and how the green movement was dismissed as pseudo science. Anything that undermined the economic mantra is demonised in subtle and overt ways. This is because the perception of security rests with economics not nature.  When I read articles such as this my mind goes immediately to the questions:

Do they see the link between climate change and greed?

Do militaries understand they are utilised to defend property not rights? 

Is national interest global interest or are we competing separately for self interest first (greed)?

Still the climate sceptics industry is fuelling the argument and doubt that what is happening is not human induced and therefore they do not have to take responsibility and radically change for the sake of current and future generations. The real challenge for those in authority and those who are the powers behind the facades, is can they step aside from self interest and put the planet and future generations ahead of their own interests? Can the militaries look inwardly and see the connection between lack of inner peace (harmony) and outer discord? Can they make the link between inner climate and outer climate given we are the creators of our reality.  I use these words consciously as we are 100% responsible for the world of our own making. I see this is the greatest security challenge to the current paradigm.  The real insecurity is economic and its infinite drive to produce more materialism as profits is what is behind the changing climate. Can we define the real problem? Can we face the pink elephant in the room?

Investing in peace education enables people to make peace with where they are so they can handle change in a positive way. The reality is the climate has changed and it will create discord and upheaval (refugee flows) and the challenge is how we deal with these problems that will make a difference. If we fall into fear and insecurity we will panic and conflict will arise as many compete for limited resources. If we can learn to work together, to nullify fear (conflict transformation) and work on harmony within and outside of ourselves then renewable solutions will arise to mitigate our fears. I see this as the real climate change. The risk management that transforms risk into solutions. Another way of seeing this is transforming fear into love (unity), this is the real alchemy that has been spoken about for centuries. Some may call it the holy grail.

I wonder what an environmental analysis on the industrial military complex would yield? What of the munitions in war? What of the environmental damage through depleted uranium and toxic waste? What of destroyed environment and infrastructures in warfare that render communities destitute? What of the bombing of infrastructure? hospitals? civilians? What of the violence? Can the military look at this reality without a story of defence and freedom and redefine its role and meaning in the world? Is defence security or the mindset of endless war? What does the war against anything create? What if finally the military made peace realising fear is the enemy not people?  What if fear is really false evidence appearing real. Then there is no threat only possibilities. I wonder…

The article below will frame it differently in the current paradigm. One positive note is the military reducing its own emissions which are considerable.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis

DOD/Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Trump’s defense chief cites climate change as national security challenge

Reprinted from ProPublica

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.

In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years.

But Mattis’ written statements to the Senate committee are the first direct signal of his determination to recognize climate change as a member of the Trump administration charged with leading the country’s armed forces.

These remarks and others in the replies to senators could be a fresh indication of divisions or uncertainty within President Donald Trump’s administration over how to balance the president’s desire to keep campaign pledges to kill Obama-era climate policies with the need to engage constructively with allies for whom climate has become a vital security issue.

[C]limate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.

James Mattis


Mattis’ statements on climate change, for instance, recognize the same body of science that Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, seems dead-set on rejecting. In a CNBC interview last Thursday, Pruitt rejected established science pointing to carbon dioxide as the main driver of recent global warming.

Mattis’ position also would appear to clash with some Trump administration budget plans, which, according to documents leaked recently to The Washington Post, include big cuts for the Commerce Department’s oceanic and atmospheric research — much of it focused on tracking and understanding climate change.

Even setting aside warming driven by accumulating carbon dioxide, it’s clear to a host of experts, including Dr. Will Happer, a Princeton physicist interviewed by Trump in January as a potential science adviser, that better monitoring and analysis of extreme conditions like drought is vital.

Mattis’ statements could hearten world leaders who have urged the Trump administration to remain engaged on addressing global warming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Trump on Friday.

Security questions related to rising seas and changing weather patterns in global trouble spots like the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are one reason that global warming has become a focus in international diplomatic forums. On March 10, the United Nations Security Council was warned of imminent risk of famine in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.

As well, at a Munich meeting on international security issues last month, attended by Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence, European officials pushed back on demands that they spend more on defense, saying their investments in boosting resilience to climate hazards in poor regions of the world are as valuable to maintaining security as strong military forces.

“[Y]ou need the European Union, because when you invest in development, when you invest in the fight against climate change, you also invest in our own security,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a panel discussion.

Concerns about the implications of global warming for national security have built within the Pentagon and national security circles for decades, including under both Bush administrations.

In September, acting on the basis of a National Intelligence Council report he commissioned, President Obama ordered more than a dozen federal agencies and offices, including the Defense Department, “to ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.”

A related “action plan” was issued on Dec. 23, requiring those agencies to create a Climate and National Security Working Group within 60 days, and for relevant agencies to create “implementation plans” in that same period.

There’s no sign that any of this has been done.

Whether the inaction is a function of the widespread gaps in political appointments at relevant agencies, institutional inertia or a policy directive from the Trump White House remains unclear.

Queries to press offices at the White House and half a dozen of the involved agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Commerce Department — have not been answered. A State Department spokeswoman directed questions to the National Security Council and the White House, writing:

“We refer you to the NSC for any additional information on the climate working group.”

Mattis’ statements were submitted through a common practice at confirmation hearings in which senators pose “questions for the record” seeking more detail on a nominee’s stance on some issue.

The questions and answers spanned an array of issues, but five Democratic senators on the committee asked about climate change, according to a government official briefed in detail on the resulting 58-page document with the answers. The senators were Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking member, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Excerpts from Mattis’ written comments to the committee were in material provided to ProPublica by someone involved with coordinating efforts on climate change preparedness across more than a dozen government agencies, including the Defense Department. Senate staff confirmed their authenticity.

Dustin Walker, communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said responses to individual senators’ follow-up questions are theirs to publish or not.

Here are two of the climate questions from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, with Mattis’ replies:

Shaheen: “I understand that while you were commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command you signed off on a document called the Joint Operating Environment, which listed climate change as one of the security threats the military will face in the next quarter-century. Do you believe climate change is a security threat?”

Mattis: “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”

Shaheen: “General Mattis, how should the military prepare to address this threat?”

Mattis: “As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.”

In a reply to another question, Mattis said:

“I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation. I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.


USS Midway

USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41) was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, the Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. warship too big to transit the Panama Canal. A revolutionary hull design, based on the planned Montana-class battleship, gave her better maneuverability than previous carriers. She served for an unprecedented 47 years, saw action in the Vietnam War, and was the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego, California, and the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class aircraft carrier.


Early operations and deployment with the 6th Fleet

Midway was laid down 27 October 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia. She was launched 20 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr.; and commissioned 10 September 1945, Captain Joseph F. Bolger in command.

After shakedown in the Caribbean, Midway joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk her homeport. From 20 February 1946, she was flagship for Carrier Division 1. In March, she tested equipment and techniques for cold-weather operations in the North Atlantic. In September 1947, a captured German V-2 rocket was test-fired from the flight deck in Operation Sandy, the first such launch from a moving platform.

On 29 October 1947, Midway sailed for the first of her annual deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Between deployments, Midway trained and received alterations to accommodate heavier aircraft as they were developed.

In June 1951, Midway operated in the Atlantic off the Virginia Capes during carrier suitability tests of the F9F-5 Panther. On 23 June, as Cdr. George Chamberlain Duncan attempted a landing in BuNo 125228, a downdraft just aft of the stern caused Duncan to crash. His plane’s forward fuselage broke away and rolled down the deck, and he suffered burns. Footage of the crash has been used in several films, including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway, and The Hunt for Red October.[2]

In 1952, the ship participated in Operation Mainbrace, North Sea maneuvers with NATO forces. On 1 October, the ship was redesignated CVA-41.

Midway cleared Norfolk 27 December 1954 for a world cruise, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope for Taiwan, where she joined the 7th Fleet for operations in the Western Pacific until 28 June 1955. During these operations, Midway pilots flew cover for the evacuation from the Quemoy-Matsu crisis [3] from the Tachen Islands of 15,000 Chinese nationalist troops and 20,000 Chinese civilians, along with their pigs, cows and chickens. On 28 June 1955, she sailed for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where she underwent an extensive modernization program (SCB-110, similar to SCB-125 for the Essex-class carriers). Midway received an enclosed hurricane bow, an aft deck-edge elevator, an angled flight deck, and steam catapults. She was returned to service on 30 September 1957.

Home ported at Alameda, California, Midway began annual deployments with the 7th Fleet in 1958, and in the South China Sea during the Laotian Crisis of spring 1961. During her 1962 deployment, her aircraft tested the air defense systems of Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Taiwan. She again sailed for the Far East 6 March 1965, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam.

Returning to Alameda on 23 November, Midway entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard on 11 February 1966 for a massive modernization (SCB-101.66), which proved expensive and controversial. The flight deck was enlarged from 2.8 to 4 acres (11,300 to 16,200 m²), and the angle of the flight deck landing area was increased to 13.5 degrees. The elevators were enlarged, moved, and given almost double the weight capacity. Midway also received new catapults, arresting gear, and a centralized air conditioning plant. Cost overruns raised the price of this program from $88 million to $202 million, and precluded a similar modernization planned for Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). After Midway was finally recommissioned on 31 January 1970, it was found that the modifications had hurt the ship’s seakeeping capabilities and ability to conduct air operations in rough seas, which required further modifications to correct the problem.

Air-to-air kills in Vietnam

Midway after commissioning in September 1945

Midway in 1963 after SCB-110

On 17 June 1965, aviators of Midway’s Attack Carrier Wing 2 downed the first four MiGs credited to U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. On 12 January 1973, Lieutenants V. T. Kovaleski (pilot) and J. A. Wise (RIO) of the VF-161 Chargers made the last air-to-air kill of the Vietnam War, downing a North Vietnamese MiG-17 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder launched from their F-4B Phantom II.

A return to Vietnam

Midway returned to Vietnam and on 18 May 1971, after relieving Hancock (CV-19) on Yankee Station, began single carrier operations. She departed Yankee Station on 5 June, completed her final line period on 31 October, and returned to her homeport on 6 November.

Midway, with embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5), again departed Alameda for operations off Vietnam on 10 April 1972. On 11 May, aircraft from Midway along with those from Coral Sea (CV-43), Kitty Hawk (CV-63), and Constellation (CV-64) continued laying naval mines off North Vietnamese ports, including Thanh Hoa, Dong Hoi, Vinh, Hon Gai, Quang Khe and Cam Pha as well as other approaches to Haiphong. Ships that were in port in Haiphong had been advised that the mining would take place and that the mines would be armed 72 hours later.

Midway continued Vietnam operations throughout the summer of 1972. On 7 August 1972, an HC-7 Det 110 helicopter, flying from Midway, and aided by planes from the carrier and from Saratoga, searched for the pilot of an A-7 Corsair II aircraft from Saratoga, who had been downed the previous day by a surface-to-air missile about 20 miles (32 kilometres) inland, northwest of Vinh. Flying over mountains, the HC-7 helo spotted the downed aviator with its searchlight and, under heavy ground fire, retrieved him and returned to an LPD off the coast. This was the deepest penetration of a rescue helicopter into North Vietnam since 1968. By the end of 1972, HC-7 Det 110 had rescued 48 pilots, 35 in combat conditions.

On 5 October 1973, Midway, with CVW 5, put into Yokosuka, Japan, marking the first forward-deployment of a complete carrier task group in a Japanese port, the result of an accord arrived at on 31 August 1972 between the U.S. and Japan. The move allowed sailors to live with their families when in port; more strategically, it allowed three carriers to stay in the Far East even as the economic situation demanded the reduction of carriers in the fleet.

For her service in Vietnam from 30 April 1972, to 9 February 1973, the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) / ATTACK CARRIER AIR WING FIVE (CVW-5) received the Presidential Unit Citation from Richard Nixon. It read:

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded


For extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against enemy forces in Southeast Asia from 30 April 1972 to 9 February 1973. During this crucial period of the Vietnam conflict, USS MIDWAY and embarked Attack Carrier Air Wing FIVE carried out devastating aerial attacks against enemy installations, transportation, and lines of communications in the face of extremely heavy opposition including multi-calibre antiaircraft artillery fire and surface-to-air missiles. Displaying superb airmanship and unwavering courage, MIDWAY/CVW-5 pilots played a significant role in lifting the prolonged sieges at An Loc, Kontum, and Quang Tri and in carrying out the concentrated aerial strikes against the enemy’s industrial heartland which eventually resulted in a cease-fire. By their excellent teamwork, dedication, and sustained superior performance, the officers and men of MIDWAY and Attack Carrier Air Wing FIVE reflected great credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” – Signed Richard Nixon.


Operation Frequent Wind

A South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) UH-1H is pushed overboard to make room for Major Buang to land his Cessna O-1.

Major Buang’s O-1 touching down.

Major Buang’s O-1 after landing aboard Midway during Operation Frequent Wind. Also, two of the deck crews are seen clapping their hands in joy.

Midway, Coral Sea (CV-43), Hancock (CV-19), Enterprise (CVN-65) and Okinawa (LPH-3) responded 19 April 1975 to the waters off South Vietnam when North Vietnam overran two-thirds of South Vietnam. Ten days later, Operation Frequent Wind was carried out by U.S. 7th Fleet forces. During this operation, Midway had offloaded fifty percent of her regular combat air wing at NS Subic Bay, Philippines. She steamed to Thailand, whereupon eight CH-53 from 21st Special Operations Squadron and two HH-53 helicopters from 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron[5] were loaded for the purpose of ferrying people from Saigon out to the fleet cruising in the South China Sea. Hundreds of U.S. personnel and Vietnamese were evacuated to waiting ships after the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese.

On 29 April 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly loaded his wife and five children into a two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and took off from Con Son Island. After evading enemy ground fire Major Buang headed out to sea and spotted the Midway. The Midway’s crew attempted to contact the aircraft on emergency frequencies but the pilot continued to circle overhead with his landing lights turned on. When a spotter reported that there were at least four people in the two-place aircraft, all thoughts of forcing the pilot to ditch alongside were abandoned – it was unlikely the passengers of the overloaded Bird Dog could survive the ditching and safely egress before the plane sank. After three tries, Major Buang managed to drop a note from a low pass over the deck: “Can you move the helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly for one hour more, we have enough time to move. Please rescue me! Major Buang, wife and 5 child.” Captain Larry Chambers, the ship’s commanding officer, ordered that the arresting wires be removed and that any helicopters that could not be safely and quickly be relocated should be pushed over the side. To get the job done he called for volunteers, and soon every available seaman was on deck, regardless of rank or duty, to provide the manpower to get the job done. An esimated US$10 million worth of UH-1 Huey helicopters were pushed overboard into the South China Sea. With a 500-foot ceiling, five miles visibility, light rain, and 15 knots of surface wind, Chambers ordered the ship to make 25 knots into the wind. Warnings about the dangerous downdrafts created behind a steaming carrier were transmitted blind in both Vietnamese and English. To make matters worse, five additional UH-1s landed and cluttered up the deck. Without hesitation, Chambers ordered them scuttled as well. Captain Chambers recalled in an article in the Fall 1993 issue of the national Museum of Aviation History’s “Foundation” magazine that

the aircraft cleared the ramp and touched down on center line at the normal touchdown point. Had he been equipped with a tailhook he could have bagged a number 3 wire. He bounced once and came stop abeam of the island, amid a wildly cheering, arms-waving flight deck crew.

Major Buang was escorted to the bridge where Captain Chambers congratulated him on his outstanding airmanship and his bravery in risking everything on a gamble beyond the point of no return without knowing for certain a carrier would be where he needed it. The crew of the Midway was so impressed that they established a fund to help him and his family get settled in the United States.[6] The Bird Dog that Major Buang landed is now on display at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.[7]

Upon completion of ferrying people to other ships, she returned to Thailand and disembarked the Air Force helicopters. The CH-53s then airlifted over 50 South Vietnamese Air Force aircraft to the ship. With almost 100 helicopters and aircraft of the former South Vietnamese Air Force aboard, she steamed to Guam where the aircraft and helicopters were offloaded in twenty-four hours. On her way back to the Philippines to pick up her air wing she was rerouted to act as a floating airfield in support of special operation forces rescuing a pirated cargo ship (see Mayagüez incident). She picked up her regular air wing again a month later when she returned NAS Cubi Point, Philippines.

After Vietnam

On 21 August 1976, a Navy task force headed by Midway made a show of force off the coast of Korea in response to an unprovoked attack on two U.S. Army officers who were killed by North Korean guards on 18 August. (The U.S. response to this incident was Operation Paul Bunyan). Midway’s response was in support of a U.S. demonstration of military concern vis-à-vis North Korea.

Midway relieved Constellation (CV-64) as the Indian Ocean contingency carrier on 16 April 1979. This unscheduled deployment was due to USS Ranger colliding with tanker Liberian Fortune near the Straits of Malacca, with Midway taking over Ranger’s mission while it went in for repair. Midway and her escort ships continued a significant American naval presence in the oil-producing region of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. On 18 November, she arrived in the northern part of the Arabian Sea in connection with the continuing hostage crisis in Iran. Militant followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who had come to power following the overthrow of the Shah, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on 4 November and held 63 U.S. citizens hostage. Midway was joined 21 November by Kitty Hawk (CV-63), and both carriers, along with their escort ships, were joined by the Nimitz (CVN-68) and her escorts on 22 January 1980. Midway was relieved by Coral Sea (CV-43) on 5 February.

Missions in the 1980s

Midway at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka (in 1983)

Following a period in Yokosuka, Midway relieved Coral Sea 30 May 1980 on standby south of the Cheju-Do Islands in the Sea of Japan following the potential of civil unrest in the Republic of Korea. While transiting the passage between Palawan Island of the Philippines and the coast of Northern Borneo on 29 July, Midway collided with the Panamanian merchant ship Cactus. The Cactus was 450 nautical miles (830 km) southwest of Subic Bay and headed to Singapore. The collision occurred near the liquid oxygen plant and two sailors working in the plant were killed and three were injured. Midway sustained light damage and three F-4 Phantom aircraft parked on the flight deck were also damaged.[8] On 17 August, Midway relieved Constellation to begin another Indian Ocean deployment and to complement the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) task group still on contingency duty in the Arabian Sea. Midway spent a total of 118 days in the Indian Ocean during 1980.

On 16 March 1981, an A-6 Intruder from VA-115 aboard Midway sighted a downed civilian helicopter in the South China Sea. Midway immediately dispatched HC-1 Det 2 helicopters to the scene. All 17 people aboard the downed helicopter were rescued and brought aboard the carrier. The chartered civilian helicopter was also plucked out of the water and lifted to Midway’s flight deck.

Midway continued serving in the western Pacific throughout the 1980s. In order to alleviate persistent seakeeping issues, Midway received hull blisters in 1986. The modification proved unsuccessful, and actually increased the vessel’s instability in high seas.

On 25 March 1986, the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II took place off Midway during flight operations in the East China Sea. The aircraft was manned by pilot Lt. Alan S. “Mullet” Colegrove and radar intercept officer Lt. Gregg “Ichabod” Blankenship of VF-151. Phantoms were being replaced by the new F/A-18 Hornets.

On 30 October 1989 an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from the Midway mistakenly dropped a 500 pounds (227 kilograms) general-purpose bomb on the deck of Reeves (CG-24) during training exercises in the Indian Ocean, creating a five-foot hole in the bow, sparking small fires, and injuring five sailors. Reeves was 32 miles (51 km) south of Diego Garcia at the time of the incident.[9]

Disaster struck the Midway on 20 June 1990. While conducting routine flight operations approximately 125 nautical miles northeast of Japan, the ship was badly damaged by two onboard explosions. These explosions led to a fire that raged more than ten hours. In addition to damage to the ship’s hull, two crew members were killed and 9 others were wounded;[10] one of the injured later died of his injuries.[11] All 11 crewmen belonged to an elite fire-fighting team known as the Flying Squad. When Midway entered Yokosuka Harbor the next day, 12 Japanese media helicopters flew in circles and hovered about 150 feet above the flight deck. Three bus loads of reporters were waiting on the pier. About 30 minutes after Midway cast its first line, more than 100 international print and electronic journalists charged over the brow to cover the event. The news media made a major issue out of the incident, as it happened amid other military accidents. It was thought that the accident would lead to the ship’s immediate retirement due to her age.

Operation Desert Storm and the 1990s

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait and U.S. forces moved into Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield to protect that country against invasion by Iraq. On 1 November 1990, Midway was again on station in the North Arabian Sea being the carrier of Battle Force Zulu (which included warships from the US, Australia, and other countries), relieving Independence. On 15 November, she participated in Operation Imminent Thunder, an eight-day combined amphibious landing exercise in northeastern Saudi Arabia which involved about 1,000 U.S. Marines, 16 warships, and more than 1,100 aircraft. Meanwhile, the United Nations set an ultimatum deadline of 15 January 1991 for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

Operation Desert Storm began the next day, and the Navy launched 228 sorties from Midway and Ranger (CV-61) in the Persian Gulf, from Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) en route to the Gulf, and from John F. Kennedy, Saratoga, and America in the Red Sea. In addition, the Navy launched more than 100 Tomahawk missiles from nine ships in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Desert Storm officially ended 27 February, and Midway departed the Persian Gulf on 11 March 1991 and returned to Yokosuka.

In June 1991, she left for her final deployment, this time to the Philippines to take part in Operation Fiery Vigil, which was the evacuation of 20,000 military members including their families from Clark AB, on the island of Luzon, after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The Midway, along with twenty other U.S. naval ships, ferried the evacuees to the island of Cebu, where they were taken off the ship by helicopter. After taking part in the evacuation, she once again returned to Yokosuka.

A final cruise and then on to life as a museum

10 January 2004, Midway prepares to moor at her final resting place at Navy pier in San Diego where she was to become the largest museum devoted to carriers and naval aviation.
Aerial view of the USS Midway Museum in 2011.

In August 1991, Midway departed Yokosuka and returned to Pearl Harbor. Here, she turned over with Independence which was replacing Midway as the forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka. Midway then sailed to San Diego where she was decommissioned at Naval Air Station North Island on 11 April 1992 in a ceremony in which the main speaker was Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 March 1997. During the decommissioning process, she was used to film portions of the movie At Sea, a documentary on carrier life shown only at the Navy Museum in Washington, D.C. Both sailors and their families participated in the filming of the homecoming scenes.

On 30 September 2003, Midway began her journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, to San Diego, California in preparation for use as a museum and memorial. She was docked at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, California, during the first week in October while the construction of her pier in San Diego was completed. Then, on 10 January 2004 the ship was moored at her final location at the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego, where she was opened to the public on 7 June 2004. In the first year of operation, the museum doubled attendance projections by welcoming 879,281 guests aboard.

On 3 April 2012, it was announced that Midway would be the site of a college basketball game between the Syracuse Orange and the San Diego State Aztecs on 9 November 2012; this game was later postponed to 11 November (Veteran’s Day) due to expected rain. The Orange won the game, 62-49.[12]