Author Archives: Don Kesterson

BENGHAZI – Part 3 – NATO Responds to the UN Resolution 1973

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment it is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the third in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

My last blog referred to the gold and assets that Qaddafi owned and the world’s concerns of him creating a gold-backed currency. How did the world get to UN Resolution 1973? Let me explain.

On February 21, 2011, Libyan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, went before the council and requested a no-fly zone to keep supplies and mercenaries from joining Qaddafi regime’s military fighting and killing Libyan citizens. Remember, Qaddafi had fought his own citizens for years—killing anyone or any group he remotely believed could attempt to overthrow him.

Then two days later, French President Sarkozy went to the European Union, expressing his concerns regarding Qaddafi, and stating they must stop the attacks on his citizens, which got sanctions passed to freeze Qaddafi’s assets abroad.

On February 26, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1970, which referred the current Libyan government to the International Criminal Court for gross human rights violations. The UN also called for an arms embargo. Remember this fact. Then they agreed to freeze Qaddafi’s—and several other government officials’—assets outside of Libya.

On the last day of February, British Prime Minister David Cameron also proposed a no-fly zone so Qaddafi could not use the Libyan Air Force against his own citizens.

Surprisingly, without any explanation to the press from either the President or the Secretary of State, on March 1, the United State Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution urging the UN Security Council to impose a Libyan no-fly zone. Plus, they called for Qaddafi to step down as leader of the country. At the time, the U.S. had naval assets sitting near the Libyan coast, including the USS Enterprise.  Canada joined the stakes the next day. Oh, by the way, they, too, coincidentally already had naval assets near Libya. They upped the threat, saying NATO was looking at this as well. To set this straight, NATO’s charter was established to defend NATO countries from aggressors, more particularly,  the Soviet Union, now Russia. Was Libya threatening the citizens within any NATO country? This seemed like a stretch.

The next week, this worldwide movement against the pariah of the earth, Qaddafi, increased, beginning with NATO announcing twenty-four-hour a day AWACS flights. Britain and France increased their refining of the no-fly zone resolution to be brought before the UN Security Council. To keep the momentum going, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab equivalent to the European Union, of which, coincidentally enough, Libya was not a member, called for the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens.

The Libyan National Transition Council, based in Benghazi, pleaded for the international community to impose the no-fly zone immediately, fearful that if Qaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, they would kill “a half-million people.” For the record, the last available (2006) census of Benghazi placed its population at 670,797. According to Wikipedia, which is not a reliable reference but the only one with figures, the city’s population was 631,555 in 2011, while the greater metropolitan area held a population of 1,110,000. So, the National Transition Council believed that half of the population would be killed off? Seems like a stretch to me.

Then, on March 10, after a meeting with Sarkozy, France recognized the Libyan National Transition Council as the legitimate government.

The big development came on March 14, just before the G8 meeting in Paris. Sarkozy and the French Foreign Minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push her to lead the U.S.’s intervention in Libya.

After you have read about how the elites and diplomats brought drama to this bad situation, here are some of the facts, which may not be a complete list of the actual on-the-ground situation.

Let’s look back at the beginning.

On February 16, 2011, Libyan anti-government protestors, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (you will remember the Arab Spring Movement), clashed with police. These protests continued for five days, spreading from Tripoli to Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of a least five hundred Libyan citizens, while hundreds—perhaps as many as a thousand—were injured. By February 23, the eastern cities, including Benghazi, had fallen to the control of the “Arab Spring Movement”—or the rebels—or what was now pegged as the “good guys.” As violence continued throughout the country, it was estimated that more than 100,000 citizens had fled to surrounding countries.

Two weeks after the beginning of the uprising, it was estimated six thousand citizens had died, both pro-Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi. Qaddafi loyalists had lost control of much of the country, except Tripoli. By the time the UN Security Council brought Resolution 1973 to a vote, the resolution stated: “Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qaddafi regime and its supporters.” civil unrest had tumbled the entire country into turmoil. Just before the UN no-fly zone was to go into effect, the Libyan government called for negotiations with the opposition—but Qaddafi’s forces attacked rebels in the city of Misrata, which unraveled any glimpse of hope Qaddafi had of his government withstanding what was about to be unleashed.

The first forces to intervene in Libya were the French on March 19, just two days after the resolution. Then on March 24, the French government agreed to let NATO take over all military operations, no later than March 29. NATO was empowered with enforcing the no-fly zone and the arms embargo (not to the rebels, of course, but only for the loyalists of Qaddafi). Only Turkey wanted to veto the forthcoming air strikes, but it never came to an official vote. The NATO operation began with the defense of Benghazi, the new capital of the Libyan Coalition Government.

On March 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was provided an intelligence briefing by one of her intelligence gatherers that the NATO-backed rebels were also committing war crimes. So, both Qaddafi fighters and the rebels were committing war crimes against one another. Additionally, it was reported from other sources that the rebels suddenly had a large number of AK-47s, which they had not had just days earlier. So, despite the arms embargo, the rebels were provided weapons.

On March 28, the day before NATO was to take over operations, President Obama addressed the American people on the Libyan situation. . He explained why it was the responsible thing to stop “violence on a horrific scale,” keeping Qaddafi from slaughtering thousands of Libyans, acting with a mandate from the UN, and being a part of a coalition force. Obama discussed that intervention was important to the peaceful transition of power in both Egypt and Tunisia, due to Libyan refugees pouring into those countries. It is important remember, as mentioned above, these two countries overthrew their dictators as a part of the Arab Spring Movement. President Obama claimed it was the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies.

Was President Obama too slow to explain that decision or his long-term strategy to Congress and the American people?

 

 

 

BENGHAZI – Part 2 – The Gold – The Lead up to September 11, 2012

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment what I am about to tell you is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a totally different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the second in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

I assume when Qaddafi led a “bloodless military coup” and deposed of Libyan King Idris, he took possession of all of the assets of the Libyan King still in the country. I can find no reference to this assumption, although a small amount was returned to the country’s coffers. King Idris’s estate would have been small in comparison to other royal estates.

Nevertheless, it provided a good building block for Qaddafi. By 2011, it was rumored that Qaddafi had between 100 and 200 million US dollars hidden away in various corporate investments, as well as in front companies and bank accounts not associated with his name. It is my opinion the lower figure was more accurate. Plus, I assume a portion of his wealth was in physical gold. Additionally, his net worth was reported at $200 billion dollars, which included his personal and corporate ownership in crude oil field assets in Libya.

Within the decade that Qaddafi took over the Libyan oil and gas industry, political unrest resulted in  a significant increase in crude oil prices. Libya became the richest country in Northern Africa.  Despite the growth of a middle class, there was not a “trickle down” to the general population in proportion to the crude oil income.

The crude oil reserves in the country were the best in Africa and attracted the interests of many European countries in close proximity, including but not limited to Italy, Germany, Spain, and France. Additionally, Libya purchased goods from many of those same countries, including Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.

As I had written in the first blog, Qaddafi had withdrawn from the terrorist business after September 11, 2001. Thus, he became “more acceptable” to the Western World, particularly with the countries with which they were doing business. Naturally, business was conducted in Euros, British Pound Sterling, Italian Lira, German francs and French francs, while crude oil was purchased in U.S. dollars.

As mentioned in the first blog, by 2011, Libya officially claimed to have 4.6 million troy ounces—or 146 metric tons—of gold associated with their central bank. The value of this gold had grown to approximately $8 billion dollars USD.

Qaddafi still had dreams of becoming the egotistical name he’d given himself—the “King of Kings”—which had little meaning for the most part. That is, until his plan was revealed that could make him the power broker for most of Africa. Again, most in the Western World paid little attention until Qaddafi decided to create a gold-backed Dinar, which could potentially become a currency used throughout Africa. It should be noted that Qaddafi believed he had a sufficient quantity of gold in the Libyan central bank to initiate his plan.

Suddenly, Qaddafi was a problem to the World. The official story, sold to the public via meetings at the United Nations, was that he was mistreating his own Libyan citizens. Now, as I stated earlier, Qaddafi was not a “prince,” but there had been no major change in the way he treated his people over the past decade or more. The “Arab Spring” movement—the last of several uprisings he’d put down—caused a segment of his own population to threaten to rise up against his reign. In the past, he had put down several uprisings, but the Western World paid little attention, while obviously hoping someone would take him down.

But this time was different to the Western World. Nicholas Sarkozy, then President of France,  was under extreme pressure from French banks to step in. If I had a guess, the British, Italian and German leaders were also receiving pressure from their bankers. But it was the French whom had the most to lose, as the French franc was one of the largest exchange currencies throughout most of Africa, and replacing it with the Libyan gold-backed dinar would have a huge ripple effect throughout the African continent. Those four European countries, as well as the World Prime banks in Europe, could not have that gold-backed currency go into circulation. Why, you ask? A gold-backed currency would cause non-gold-backed currencies to drop in value.

As a result of frantic meetings at the United Nations Security Council on March 17, 2011, there was a vote on Resolution 1973, with ten countries for it and five countries abstaining. Surprising to me, Germany was one of the abstention countries. Here is a portion of the quote of this resolution:

“Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute ‘crimes against humanity,’ the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace—a no-fly zone—and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.

“The Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory—requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.” Quotation taken directly from the United Nations text of Resolution 1973

However, in then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, there was an e-mail that painted a different picture than the diplomatically crafted U.N. Resolution 1973, which came from none other than President Sarkozy, with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold”:

“…leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered ‘Francophone Africa’.” Quotation from one of 3000 new Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department – source – website http://thefreethoughtproject.com

As the Arab Spring movement went from talk to action, Qaddafi turned his army and mercenaries loose on the small group of poorly armed and organized rebels, which was composed of military deserters and ill-trained militiamen. They called their ill-fated movement the National Transitional Council (NTC). Qaddafi quipped these rebels were “17-year-olds, given pills at night, hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe.” Quotation of Qaddafi taken from website www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12699033

Clearly, Mrs. Clinton bought into Resolution 1973. It can only be assumed that she also had undocumented conversations with bankers from the World Prime European banks. After the U.N. Resolution 1973 was enacted, there was no problem with President Obama getting on board, which is where he coined the famous phrase “Leading from Behind.” In my opinion, he wasn’t completely on-board with this action, but with Mrs. Clinton and the other European leaders egging him on, the United States joined the process.

Therefore, one can conclude that Resolution 1973 was carried out by world leaders, diplomats and elites to initiate a false narrative regarding Qaddafi, and start in motion a process not necessary for the protection of the Libyan population, but instead to stop Qaddafi from issuing a gold-backed African currency that would compete with the Western central banking monopoly.

Was there a precedence of stopping a gold-backed currency from going into effect by a third world country? Yes. Read up on Indonesian President Soekarno was planning to start an independent “third world bank” with a gold-backed currency in 1965. Shortly after he started this push, he was removed from office and a man the West could control, Suharto, was put in charge of the country.

In my next blog, I plan to write about what NATO did in Libya with respect to the United Nations Resolution 1973.

BENGHAZI – Part 1 Libyan Background – The Lead up to September 11, 2012

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment what I am about to tell you is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a totally different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the first in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

In 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi rose to power via a military coup. At NO POINT am I saying Qaddafi was a GOOD GUY, but I want to convey how he ran his country.

In the early part of his iron-fisted rule, Qaddafi was a known sponsor of terrorism against the Western World. There were many training camps for terrorists throughout the desert, an unpopulated part of the country. Most Libyans live along the Mediterranean coast between Tripoli and Al Bayda, and most of the population are Sunni Muslim.

Shortly after Qaddafi took over the government, he nationalized the oil and gas industry, but still allowed joint ventures with outside corporations. His government utilized their huge crude oil income to build and maintain a relatively strong economy. Moreover, he used that income to attempt to develop agriculture and industry to diversify his country’s economy. It didn’t always work when crude oil prices were low.  Still, Libya’s per capita income was among the highest on the African continent. His government established a welfare state, which provided medical care and education at minimal cost to the people. Libya imported goods predominately from Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea, while it exported petroleum to Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Tunisia, and Turkey. Libya has had a positive trade balance since the 1960s. Additionally, the country and Qaddafi accumulated a large amount of gold bullion, 4.6 million ounces worth more than $8 billion dollars, received as payment for both legal and illegal activities. Some came from when Qaddafi overthrew the King of Libya. I will deal with the gold in a later blog.

Their school system has a similar structure to the Western World through the ninth grade.  After ninth grade, a student, male and female, may choose between higher education or vocational training. About 80% of the adult population is literate, and the government sponsors an adult educational program to attempt to increase that number.

As the oil and gas industry grew, the population did as well, including an influx of foreign workers. By the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, death rates had greatly declined while birth rates were very high. Therefore, Libya has a young population. Their infant mortality rate was not only the lowest on the African continent, but well below the world’s average.

Qaddafi allowed some of the most liberal women’s rights of any Arab country. Women were allowed to receive an education, drive and hold jobs. He passed a law requiring equal pay for equal work. Young women marriages were banned. In 2008, there Libya had their first female commercial pilot. Qaddafi even had several female bodyguards.

Despite all this, Qaddafi was your usual despot. He ran Libya as an authoritarian state, with power concentrated among members of his inner circle of relatives and security chiefs. However, there was still a large segment of the population, which reasonably good lifestyles, comparable to the Western World. That is, up until the year 2011, when the “civil war” began.

Qaddafi’s relationship with the outside world was quite different. Beginning in the 1980s, Qaddafi and Libya were one of the main sponsors of worldwide terrorism. Because of the high crude oil prices at the beginning of the 1980s, Qaddafi had deep pockets filled with cash and was willing to fund the torment of the Western World. In 1986, Qaddafi sponsored the bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in West Berlin, in which three individuals were killed and two hundred twenty-nine were injured, including seventy-nine U.S. soldiers. Ten days later, U.S. coalition forces struck Libya with jets and Tomahawk missiles, including landing one in the Qaddafi compound.

In 1988, Qaddafi responded to the attack on Libya by carrying out his most brazen, notorious deed: sponsoring the taking down of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  In all, 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 Lockerbie residents were killed. Following a joint investigation completed in 1991 by the British MI5, Scotland Yard and the FBI, it was determined that two Libyan intelligence agents were behind the Pan Am 103 bombing disaster. Stiff sanctions were placed against Libya. After several years of fighting with Qaddafi, in 1999 he agreed to turn over the two agents. They were tried in the Netherlands. One of the agents was convicted, while the other was acquitted. In 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing. The next year, the U.S. government and Libya agreed to a payment of eight million dollars to each victim’s family. Three years after Pan Am went bankrupt, the international court awarded it thirty million dollars from the Libyan government for its lawsuit over the Lockerbie incident.

Following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Qaddafi attempted to improve his image with the Western World by offering assistance with al Qaeda’s North African camps. But in reality, he was still only looking out for himself. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the al Qaeda affiliate, he assisted in taking them down, previously tried to oust him from power.

However, on March 1, 2003, Qaddafi’s true character re-emerged when he got into a television feud with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah regarding Saudi-allowed U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. Qaddafi said, “King Fahd told me that his country was threatened and he would co-operate with the devil to protect it.”

Crown Prince Abdullah retorted, “Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and not an agent of colonialism like you and others. You, who brought you to power? Don’t talk about matters that you fail to prove. Your lies precede you, while the grave is ahead of you.”

I will pick up with the history here in the next blog.

 

The Life of Charles Lindbergh and His Impact on the World

A few days ago, there was a notice in the “Today in History” for June 13, back in 1927, New York City threw a ticker-tape parade for Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was a larger-than-life individual of the twentieth century. Famous for being the first person to make a non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, lifting off from Roosevelt Field near New York City on May 20, 1927, landing the next day, thirty-three and one half hours later, at Le Bourget Field near Paris. He was given the nicknames “Lucky Lindy” and the “Lone Eagle.” He even named his plane, which he helped design, the Spirit of St. Louis. His flight earned him $25,000 from a New York hotelier, who in 1919 offered the award to anyone who could complete the flight. Many tried and died.

His trans-Atlantic flight gained him notoriety around the world. President Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross and Congressional Medal of Honor. Afterwards, he spent three months traveling around the country, visiting forty-eight states and ninety-two cities, and delivered 147 speeches. At many of his stops, awards were given—as well as parades—in his honor.

Lindbergh’s flying career began as a stunt pilot at fairs. He enlisted in the U.S. Army teaching flying to enlisted men, after which he carried airmail from St. Louis to Chicago. Besides being an aeronautical engineer, he was also an inventor of note. He is given credit for developing an artificial heart while working with a French surgeon during the early 1930s.

In 1929, Lindbergh married, Anne Spencer Morrow, a daughter of a U.S. diplomat, who became famous in her own right for her writings, including poetry.

On March 1, 1932, tragedy struck when the Lindberghs’ twenty-month-old son, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was kidnapped from their New Jersey home. The little boy’s dead body was discovered ten weeks later. After a two-year investigation, the police arrested Richard “Bruno” Hauptmann, who had worked as a carpenter on the Lindberghs’ home. The ensuing trial was sensationalized by the U.S. press corps, and it became known as “The Trial of the Century.” The Lindberghs were so traumatized by the constant attention, they moved to Europe to escape the intrusion into their private lives.

While they lived in Europe, the Lindberghs drew close to the Nazi Party, more particularly, Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top officials. The Nazi Party even gave him a medal of honor. Lindbergh was impressed with the advanced aircraft of the Nazi Luftwaffe. Naturally, when the citizens in the U.S. found out about this, both he and his wife fell out of favor. It would be later learned that Anne Morrow Lindbergh had become anti-Semite.

As the war in Europe erupted, the Lindberghs moved back to the States. He joined and led the America First Committee, a strong anti-war movement that caused President Franklin Roosevelt considerable problems getting the public behind his desire to engage in the European War. Lindbergh believed the United States could not defeat the far-advanced Germans if they became engaged in the war. In his rally speeches at, he stated that the British, the Jewish people, and pro-Roosevelt groups were attempting to lead the United States into this unnecessary war. This forced Roosevelt to denounce both Lindbergh and the America First Committee. Lindbergh then resigned his position in the Army Air Corps. Many Americans wanted Lindbergh to give back his medals, but he refused.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Lindbergh changed his mind and tried to reenlist, but his request was refused. His desire to serve was so strong, he took a position as a technical adviser and test pilot for the Ford Motor Company and United Aircraft Corporation. While serving in this capacity, he developed cruise control for planes, improving performance. In 1944, Lindbergh ended up flying fifty combat missions in the Pacific War, despite still being an adviser. 

After World War II, Lindbergh and his family went into seclusion. President Dwight Eisenhower recognized Lindbergh’s talents and restored his commission in the Air Force in 1954, appointing him as a brigadier general. He also remained a consultant to various private airliner companies, including assisting in the design of Boeing’s 747 jet.

Later in life, Lindbergh took up a new campaign—the conservation movement. While his passion was much wider, he canvassed for the protection of humpback and blue whales. Then, surprisingly, he claimed opposition to the development of supersonic jets, fearing they would destroy the earth’s atmosphere.

Lindbergh’s last days were spent on Maui in the Hawaiian Island chain. He died of cancer on August 26, 1974, and was buried there.

What part of Lindbergh’s story is new to you? Were you aware of his various political and social passions?

Washington DC – Tour

Several Fridays ago, my wife Jayne and I went to Washington DC. Jayne’s brother-in-law, an Army colonel stationed at the Pentagon, gave us a personal tour. We were able to go places in that magnificent building that normal tours never touch, such as the wings of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army, among others. There were displays cases filled with memorabilia of MacArthur, Eisenhower, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, and many more. I was completely mesmerized by the displays of the Philippines and Vietnam.

While there, I was tempted to purchase a chess set (you know my Pawns novel series), but I decided I didn’t want to carry it the remainder of the day. As some of you may know, Jayne has Multiple Sclerosis, commonly called MS. Her brother-in-law was fantastic in making sure she could stop and rest along the way. We enjoyed a nice lunch in one of the cafeterias, and had the opportunity to meet two officers on her brother-in-law’s staff.

My conclusion as we exited the Pentagon: I am glad these young people are guarding our country so we can live the lives we live. Did I say I am impressed? Well, I am.

In the afternoon, we took the subway to Arlington Cemetery. I have always wanted to see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Do you know what those young soldiers most do to become members of the “Old Guard”? Even after they leave the ranks of the Old Guard, their commitment is a testimony to their personal integrity. They are impressive young men and women. It is too much to elaborate on here—you’ll just have to look it up, here is the link. https://tombguard.org/tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier/the-tomb-guard/ During the summer, they change every half-hour, while in the winter, they change every hour. They did allow the change to be filmed, but I didn’t try. I wanted to be in the moment and not focused on capturing a video. Also, it was a “no cell phone” area. Smart, very smart. There was an eerie yet peaceful hush of the crowd during the ceremony. I assume everyone, like me, were “in the moment.”

While at Arlington, I planned to go to the graves of two individuals I write about in my novels, Brigadier General Edward Lansdale and Lieutenant Colonel Lucien Conein. While both men were listed as members of the U.S. Air Force, they each had, shall we say, “colorful” careers in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, serving mostly in Southeast Asia. Ironically, the men are buried close to each other. I had planned to include pictures of their tombstones for this blog. However, since we had done a considerable amount of walking, I decided not to push my wife’s endurance, as we still had to walk back to the subway station. Even knowing exactly where their markers were, there would have been no place for Jayne to rest while I scurried through the cemetery.

As a personal note, according to Jayne’s fitbit, she had PRed at 4.6 miles. She earned her “at-a-girl” for those numbers.

How many have you been to the Pentagon or Arlington Cemetery? I would love to hear your experiences. Please leave a comment below so we can share them with all who read this blog. Thank you.

The Vietnam Conflict Novels

As many of my readers know, I am writing a series of novels based on the “real history” from behind the scenes of the Vietnam Conflict. I wrote several reviews on the Ken Burn’s / PBS excellent documentary on Vietnam. Over the last few months, I have watched Oliver North’s Fox Business News series titled War Stories, which covered the same time periods as my first two novels. Two espisodes in particular got my attention. One focused on the Diem Coup, while another dealt with President Johnson having more interest in his 1964 presidential campaign than in managing the evolving conflict in Vietnam. Three major events—the role of the CIA, the role of illegal drugs, and the Buddhist/Catholic conflicts—are left out of these documentaries that I cover extensively in my novels. They are all controversial topics, which is why they are rarely discussed. Yet, these areas are critical to understanding all that went on in Indochina from the period after World War II through the end of the Vietnam Conflict in 1975.

Besides intense research into this time period, I also sought out individuals who served honorably in this conflict to obtain their reactions. In my privileged conversations with those who fought and had friends who died, it has emerged that our troops never lost a big battle. In my studies, the battles the US didn’t win were often when the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese were allowed to sneak into Cambodia, Laos or back into North Vietnam, and the U.S. troops were not permitted to pursue by orders from above. This was the first war the U.S. fought where ground was not captured. It turned into a war of body counts. Interestingly, the official military records of some of those interviewed don’t record them being in places they remember being in. Coincidence? I think not.

Why was Vietnam, Vietnam? First and foremost, Vietnam was the first war that was not about defeating the enemy. It was about preserving South Vietnam in any form of government but communist. It was the first war in which journalists were able to broadcast live. Naturally, the press, seeking to broadcast high drama, sometimes presented things that were never shown during World War II and Korea, when the government censored the war film footage. As Ken Burn’s put it, “America got to witness the war first hand in their living room”—and war can get ugly. Ask anyone who has served. Most won’t even talk about it because they want to dredge up hidden memories.

Within the next couple of weeks, my second novel, Pawns: Kings in Check, will be released on Kindle and in paperback. It covers the period during President Johnson’s re-election in 1964. In this book, as with my other novels, I have no agenda to present or protect. I am only offering the facts and some unknown truths so the reader may draw his own conclusions. I hope you will give a read to my latest novel. Thanks again for your support.

Japanese Submarine attacked oilfield near Santa Barbara, CA

On February 23, 1942, just 69 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese long range submarine, I-17 class, attacked the Barnsdall-Rio Grande Oil Field at Ellwood, California, which is just twelve miles north of Santa Barbara. Their attack consisted of firing shells from 5.5 inch deck guns for approximately twenty minutes. They targeted various oil wells along the coastline, including the Bankline Oil Company Refinery. One shell hit a derrick, causing some damage, but, fortunately, no loss of life. Three shells landed near the refinery but inflicted no damage. The other shells failed to hit their targets as the submarine moved slowly, paralleling the coast.

How did this attack unfold? At 7:58 PM local time, the Fourth Interceptor Command ordered all radio stations in Southern California off the air. Simultaneously, air-raid sirens were sounded in Santa Barbara. Within  a few moments, the coastline was blacked out from Carpinteria to Goleta, California, an area of almost twenty-five miles.

Eyewitness reports of the Japanese submarine began coming into the Ventura County Sherriff’s office. The first report came from San Marcos Pass, northwest of Santa Barbara, after hearing the first cannon shot. The observer used field glasses to sight the submarine, which they estimated was located about one mile off shore. The final call came in at approximately 8:30 PM; a minister observed the submarine exiting the Santa Barbara Channel. This same minister also reported he witnessed flashing signal lights by someone on shore. Later, four Japanese and one Italian were arrested. However, there were additional Japanese collaborators. For two hours after the Japanese raid, yellow flares were shot over Ventura County to signal the Japanese submarine. None of these individuals were ever caught.

The extent of the damage from the raid was minimal. Some shells landed short of the extensive oil installation; some exploded and blew holes in the machinery. Fortunately, their shells just missed several high-octane gasoline tanks.

Interestingly enough, the Japanese submarine remained in the area for another month, traveling up and down along the shipping coastline between Cape Mendocino and San Francisco, attacking various targets. The submarine sunk or damaged oil freighters, shelled shore installations in California, Oregon and Washington; it even launched miniature aircraft to start forest fires with incendiary bombs in Oregon forests. At the end of March, they returned to their home base at Yokosuka, Japan.

The Japanese considered reaching the American mainland a great victory. It was celebrated by the Japanese government and navy, who even printed special commemorative postcards so the event could be circulated around the world. This was the first attack by a foreign power on the continental United States since the War of 1812.

How did the United States react to this raid and the attack on Pearl Harbor? General Jimmy Doolittle B-25 bombing raided Tokyo on April 23, 1942. (Insert blog link) The attack was a success and a great boost to American morale.

Do you wonder how the Japanese knew where to attack and operate relatively undetected? The submarine was piloted by Captain Kozo Nishino, a former Japanese tanker captain who often dined as a guest of Bankline Oil company when his ship was anchored offshore prior to World War II.

Were you ever taught this in school?

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Tet Offensive

This week is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive, which was the most dynamic military event of the Vietnam Conflict.

Tet is when Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year. In Vietnam, it’s a super holiday, combining the new year with honoring dead ancestors. The government shuts down. During wars, a ceasefire is declared to allow both side to celebrate. However, the National Liberation Front, more commonly referred to as the Viet Cong (VC), rarely honored this ceasefire. In 1968, South Vietnam started Tet on the last day of January. However, U.S. intelligence did not know the North Vietnamese started their tribute two days earlier. Therefore, U.S. military was expecting the VC and the North Vietnamese to attack but several days later.

On the evening of January 31, 1968, a Viet Cong force estimated between 70,000 to as many as 84,000 soldiers, aided by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), launched a surprise attack on the major cities and towns in South Vietnam. NVA General Giap, the strategic planner for the North Vietnamese, took a huge risk with this all-in attack, hoping this would be their next Dien Bien Phu. Their objectives were to not only win the battles but also break the will of the American public.

However, it was not a surprise attack. General Westmoreland had anticipated the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese would attack at the beginning of Tet. However, Westmoreland predicted they would only attack the northern cities of South Vietnam. While the initial attacks did begin in the northern cities along the DMZ, Brigadier General Davidson speculated to General Westmoreland, based on his intel, that once the attack began, it would spread throughout the rest of the country. Westmoreland contacted South Vietnamese President Thieu about canceling the ceasefire. Thieu replied it would be bad for the morale of the South Vietnamese.

When the attacks began in Saigon, specifically at the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. military requested help from the South Vietnamese military, but none came. There was no cavalry “riding over the hill.” The irony in this was that the South Vietnamese government had requested they be put in charge of the security surrounding the U.S. Embassy and the immediate area near the Embassy. The VC had a well-devised plan that included an attack on the Embassy. While they did manage to enter the Embassy grounds and kill five U.S. Marines, the U.S. Military Police (MP) and Marine security guards, with inferior weapons consisting of hand guns and a few rifles, repelled the attack, killing all seventeen VC commandos.

The other significant fighting occurred at Tan Son Nhut Airbase, the American Military Assistance Command, and the South Vietnamese military headquarters. Earlier, Lieutenant General Weyand had placed American and Allied forces strategically to protect the city, as he had a sense a VC attack was coming. The U.S. troops were placed to defend and ultimately counterattack the VC at Tan Son Nhut Arbase. Afterwards, Weyand was given the nickname of “Savior of Saigon.” 

When the fighting was over, the U.S. troops had decisively defeated the Viet Cong, with an estimated 37,000 VC killed compared to 2,500 U.S. troops lost. Once the VC were defeated, however, the press chose to focus on the negative aspects of the Tet Offensive. The fighting spirit of the MP and Marine guards at the Embassy was not newsworthy. The fighting spirit to defend and keep open Tan Son Nhut Airbase and the military command was not newsworthy. The difficult fighting the U.S. Marines did at the ancient capital of Hue, where door-to-door, hand-to-hand combat was essential to liberating the city, was not newsworthy.

Instead, the press focused on issues that conveyed to the American public that U.S. troops were defeated. Why? Because the Viet Cong mounted a coordinated country-wide strike, waged attacks all over the city of Saigon, and held the Embassy grounds hostage for hours—which was enough to push flagging American opinion over the edge.

For the last several months leading up to the Tet Offensive, General Westmoreland told the press the VC were close to defeat. If that were true, how could they launch an attack throughout the country—and, more particularly, in Saigon?

Vietnam was the first war to be televised. Battles were literally brought into the living rooms of America. Graphic film footage—in living color—was relayed into every nightly news program. Americans at home got to see how ugly war really is. And the youth of American didn’t like it. And, eventually, the parents of America didn’t like it. Soldiers are conditioned to handle the brutality of war. The American public was not. Especially not when they saw a VC spy killed at point blank range in Saigon. Or a Napalm girl running for her life.

The American public were shown mostly negative film, which, of course, had a profound influence on public opinion. So much so that the men and women who proudly served felt disrespected and humiliated. Many didn’t even want to admit they had served.

This is why I chose to write my series on Vietnam. Someone needs to reveal the whole story—the true story. Why was the United States in Vietnam anyway? What was going on behind the scenes? What really happened where no cameras were allowed?

 

 

 

 

 

Iran’s New Revolution is it like Older Revolutions

The Iranian government has been a mortal enemy of the United States, Israel and many Middle Eastern countries for almost six decades. Notice the reference was to the Iranian government—a government run by a figurehead president supposedly elected by the people—from a selection of one. In other words, they are a dictatorship run by President Hassan Rouhani, who makes no decisions without consulting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Over the past several years, Iran has been in the news almost daily for the following reasons:

1) Working with North Korea; having a nuclear weapons program in some form, whether still working or temporarily suspended. May even be sending their findings and materials to North Korea;

2) Funding terrorism through Hezbollah and Hamas;

3) Attempting to undermine several other governments in the Middle East; and,

4) Lastly, oppressing their own people to the point that students went into the streets this week to protest not the United States or Israel, but their own government.

The Iranian government has had a tenuous relationship with college students for years over internal reform. The latest protests began when a secret document appeared in the Iranian public domain showing their federal budget. According to Dr. Steve Pieczenik, this budget showed how much money was going to radical Mullahs, Hezbollahs, and Hamas. Additionally, the military—more specifically, the Iranian Republican Guard and their highest ranking General Soleimani—were skimming funds. Despite having substantial crude oil reserves, the country is running out of gasoline due to economic and trade sanctions.

This protest is different from previous protests led by students, and it is likely to pick up momentum as more citizens become informed of this budget, which proves a lack of concern for general human rights. The country is headed into a deep recession, and their students are not finding jobs. Did I mention youth unemployment is over forty percent (40%)? For the most part, Iranian students, particularly those educated outside their country, tend to be more moderate in philosophy than the hard line religious zealots running the government.  The students are seeking economic growth, which would lead to those sought-after jobs.

This time, unlike previous protests, several US government officials, including the President of the United States, has come out and supported the students. It is likely the Iranian government will be supported by the Chinese and the Russians. So, this protest is a long way from having the strength to make changes or overthrow the dictatorship.

The previous protests were for reasons other than the budget—they were over governance. In 2009, there was a protest over a Green Party candidate. That particular protest went on for six days and resulted in a number of deaths and thousands of arrests. The United States government failed to come out and support this protest, which may have eventually gained enough strength to overthrow the government.  The Obama Administration felt they could not support the revolution while planning future negotiations with the Iranian government to cut a deal regarding their nuclear program. I know they didn’t start formal negotiations until 2015, but the groundwork was done unofficially before the final meeting started. With most diplomacy, when formal meetings began, there has already been informal groundwork so as not to put elite diplomats in embarrassing positions. Plus, the Iranians knew the Obama Administration was so desperate for an agreement, they would win every key point.

Likewise, there is considerable mistrust within Iran of the United States and others, due to American, British and Russian interference in their selection of leaders in the 1950s. At that time, the prime minister of Iran was Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, appointed by the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Shah claimed to be a member of the royal family of Persia who  could trace his family back to ancient Persia. That point is debatable. When Mossadegh and the Iranian parliament decided to nationalize the crude oil business, this put Great Britain and the United States in action behind the scenes. The British had major investments in Iran developing the crude oil in the country. Great Britain and the United States were already on edge because Mossadegh had made several fiery nationalist speeches regarding the outside influence of the British in their crude oil business. The British and the Americans decided that Iran may be moving toward an alignment with the Soviet Union, through the influence of their communist party, the Tudeh Party. For a period of almost a month in the summer of 1953, intelligence agents from the United States (CIA) and Britain (MI6) jockeyed with those from the Soviet Union (GRU and KGB) for control of Iran and their vast amount of reserves. Ultimately, the United States and Britain won, but the story soon came out how all of this was orchestrated behind the scenes.

Due to the Shah’s cozy relationship with the Western World, he led the country to a Western style of prosperity, but that ended in the late 1970s. Radical Muslim leadership, with the help of the Soviet Union, overthrew the Shah, leading to the rise of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Most know the story of the fall of the US Embassy in Iran and hostages being held in captivity for 444 days.

So back to today. It’s only natural that the Iranians don’t trust anybody. It’s a pivotal time for a very powerful regional country in the Middle East. Considering their recent conflicts with Saudia Arabia, it would not surprise me to learn the Saudis  have agents in Iran. It is my opinion it would be good for the peace of the world for the removal of the radical Mullahs and the current political system, but I also believe we must support the Iranian people and let them create a new government, with new military leaders that may have a more favorable opinion of their neighbors and the United States. The students and the population must accept that deaths and arrests will occur, as well as direct conflict with the military, but they can make the changes. We have seen this in other places around the world like the Soviet Union. Likewise, if a new, more moderate government and military would come into power, then perhaps their relationship with North Korea could be stymied. But the United States must understand the people may choose not to create a democracy, and the United States must continue its new policy of staying out of nation-building.

I am rooting for the Iranian students. How do you feel about this important development?

 

Russian Interference Is Not New

No, I’m not writing about the administration you think. Instead, this is about the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, which was inundated with Soviet spies in about every department, even at the highest levels. Previously, I wrote about the Roosevelt administration regarding Pearl Harbor (LINK). While I don’t believe the Soviets (Russians) influenced any of Roosevelt’s four successful elections, I do believe they had a great influence over our policy.

Enter Harry Dexter White with a Ph.D. in economics. A pre-eminent economics journalist and an advisor to Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury, Dr. White was appointed to the Treasury Department in 1934. Soon thereafter, unbeknownst to the Administration or the Treasury, he joined the communist organization known as the Ware Group, which was led by Harold Ware, a member of the Communist Party of the United States. Ware worked closely with Joszef Peter, head of the underground section of the American Communist Party, whose plan was to influence policy at several levels of the government.

Dr. White was promoted through the Treasury Department until he was placed in charge of Monetary Research, and, by 1941, was assigned as Assistant to the Secretary. Dr. White was now in the position to exercise influence on U.S. foreign policy. His authority went beyond the scope of his defined position.Angus Cameron

Dr. White was recruited as a spy by Jacob Golos, then passed to Vasily Zarubin, the head of the Soviet Embassy in New York. Zarubin started handling White for several reasons, Golos was ill and Zarubin recognized the potential of White.

In 1944, White was one of the most important figures at the Bretton Woods conference. He argued for the end of economic blocks and a greater use of free trade agreements. At the Bretton Woods conference, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was instrumental in establishing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other international organizations, for the end of “economic nationalism.” White’s goal was for Western nations to develop better economic and political relationships with the Soviet Union.

On September 16, 1944, the Morgenthau Plan, written by Dr. White and Mr. Morgenthau, was presented to President Roosevelt at the Quebec Conference. The plan was discussed and approved by Winston Churchill. It called for the stripping and pillaging of post-War Germany, converting it into an agrarian society. All industrial plants and mines not destroyed by military action would be dismantled or destroyed. One of the most unbelievable points called for an extensive list of Germans who would be shot upon apprehension, while the rest of the population would be held down to a standard of living no higher than bare subsistence. This plan was basically what the Soviet Union did with occupied East Germany.

Someone in White’s department leaked the plan to the press. This created a gigantic political problem for President Roosevelt, who denied its existence. Ultimately, Roosevelt had to make a statement that his Treasury Secretary had made “a serious blunder.” When Joseph Goebbels learned of the Morgenthau Plan, the Nazis used the information to scare the German people into not surrendering, which prolonged the war and the Jewish holocaust. Immediately, Germany stiffened its resistance on the Western front. Until then, it was thought the Germans might discontinue resistance to Allied forces, out of fear of their fate of Soviet occupation. Clearly, this ugly plan prolonged the war by months and caused communism to spread not only to East Germany, but to other eastern European countries.

In December 1945, the FBI sent President Truman a report showing that Dr. White was a Soviet spy. Truman ignored the warning. In 1946, White was promoted to executive director of the U.S. Mission to the International Monetary Fund. Again, the FBI sent President Truman a second report regarding Dr. White being a spy for the Soviet Union, but the President did nothing.

Elizabeth Bentley testified before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on July 31, 1948, that Harry Dexter White was a Soviet spy. Bentley told the hearing, “We were so successful getting information… largely because of Harry White’s idea to persuade Morgenthau to exchange information.” She went on to say that at least “seven or eight agencies” traded information, including branches of the military.

On August 13, 1948, Dr. White appeared before the committee. Before the hearing, White had sent a note to J. Parnell Thomas, the chairman of the HUAC, asking for rest periods of five or ten minutes for each hour of testimony, as he was recovering from a severe heart attack.

During his testimony, Dr. White denied being a communist with this statement: “The principles in which I believe, and by which I live, make it impossible for me to ever do a disloyal act or anything against the interests of our country… I believe in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and freedom of movement.” He admitted knowing some of those communists identified by Bentley, but just because they played softball and volleyball together did not mean they were part of a spy network.

Thomas replied, “For a person who had a severe heart condition, you certainly can play a lot of sports.” White retorted he had played sports before he developed a heart condition.

On August 16, just three days after his testimony, Dr. Harry Dexter White died of a heart attack.

In 1953, Senator Karl E. Mundt issued a report to the Committee on Government Operations documenting that Dr. White’s hand-picked Treasury assistants had transferred currency plates, currency paper and currency ink to the Soviet Union. This treachery assisted the Soviet Union in firming up their occupation of Eastern Europe and Germany with the use of U.S. credits. The occupation currency would eventually be redeemed by the U. S. Treasury at the cost of tens of millions to the American taxpayer.

The Russians and the Americans have been spying on each other since Lenin came into power, and it will likely go on until the end of time. This is just one example.

Were you aware that Roosevelt had spies in his Administration?