Why the Gulf of Tonkin and the Vietnam War Matter 50 Years Later (1/2)

Today, August 2, is the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and Jessica Desvarieux of the Real News Network interviews Daniel Ellsberg about his experiences of those days (and journalist Gareth Porter).

Why The Gulf of Tonkin Matters 50 Years Later (1/2) from TheRealNews2 on Vimeo.

For those who came in late, Daniel Ellsberg was the Edward Snowden of his time (the 60s). And the Iraq War wasn’t the first war we went into where “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” (discussion here). Before Bush’s WMDs and Iraq, there were LBJ’s torpedoes in the Gulf of Tonkin and Vietnam.

You should listen to the whole thing, especially where Ellsberg contextualizes Flight MH17, but what amazes me, and I did not know, was that Ellsberg was present, physically, when the Gulf of Tonkin “facts” were “fixed” around the Vietnam policy. Note that there were two putative “incidents,” one on August 2 and one on August 4, and that August 4 provided the casus belli for the Johnson administration to go to war in Vietnam:

DESVARIEUX: Daniel–I just want to get Daniel into this conversation a little bit more, ’cause he was actually there on August 4.

Can you just give us your take? Tell us what happened.

ELLSBERG: Well, the way it came to me, my boss–the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, John McNaughton–with McNamara in his office on the morning of August 4, when I came into the office at 9 o’clock they were actually already planning the possible response to an attack that they expected because of indications that the commodore on the spot, he thought that he was being shadowed for a possible ambush. These were mistaken inferences that the commander was drawing. But in any case, they were already considering the possibility of an attack. At the time I came in, a little after 9 o’clock in the Pentagon, a courier rushed in, ran in from the communications office of the Department of Defense with a flash cable saying that the commodore Herrick on the patrols in the South China Sea, which was then in the middle of the night, or roughly nine o’clock there, was under attack at that very moment, that there was a torpedo coming at him, he was taking evasive action. And in subsequent moments, more cables came in, running in, all very urgent, the fastest priority flash, saying two torpedoes, four torpedoes, eight torpedoes. He seemed to be awash in torpedoes as he was maneuvering his boat. In fact, eventually he had reported something over 20 torpedoes, which was larger than we estimated was in the entire arsenal of the North Vietnamese fleet. So that was a little strange right there. But in any case, it seemed a very desperate situation, the first time that a destroyer had been attacked like this since two days before, but that had been the first since Second World War. So a very [urgent (?)] situation. We were preparing to respond with air attacks, the first air attacks against North Vietnam.

But as Gareth has indicated, at about 1:30, while my boss was now over at the White House–or McNamara, actually, was over at the White House, and I think McNaughton was with him, conferring with the president on the exact nature of the retaliation, comes a very dramatic table from Commodore Herrick saying, hold everything, in effect, as Gareth has said. All the torpedo reports except the first one are now suspect and, it turned out, he said, were reports of an overeager sonar man who was mistaking the beat of the ship’s propeller against the wake as they took evasive action, circled in the water. That was being mistaken for incoming torpedoes.


And there was other evidence for casting very much doubt on what had happened.

Now, I took it for granted that anything I was seeing was, of course, also available to the president and to McNamara. And it certainly was to McNamara. So I assumed that they were quite well aware that there was a good deal of uncertainty about what had happened. The commodore at the time, Herrick, did say that there was one torpedo, but one had to take that with a good deal of salt, because he had been just as certain about the next 20 torpedoes, and it really took him many years before, looking at the evidence, he finally acknowledged that he had been mistaken about the first one as well. But even on that night, we knew that what the president proceeded to say and what McNamara proceeded to say to the press in television interviews, that the attack was unequivocal, we knew that that was false, as many years later it turned out that the assertions by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that they had unequivocal evidence of WMDs, weapons of mass destruction, in Iraq were false and known to be false at the time, that the evidence was extremely equivocal at that time. And just like the Tonkin Gulf, it turned out there were no WMDs. The evidence was not just equivocal; it was mistaken. Well, that’s what happened on the Tonkin Gulf, as was increasingly clear within hours, to some extent, but certainly within days as new evidence came in, where the overwhelming evidence was that there had been no attack. But that did not stop the president and McNamara from going to Congress to get, essentially, a blank check for war, the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which was, just like the Iraq Resolution, essentially a predated declaration of war given by the Congress to the president, in violation of the Constitution.

Now, before we go all “same as it ever was” over Gulf of Tonkin:Vietnam :: WMDs:Iraq, I should point out that not only did LBJ end up not running for a second term because of opposition to the war, he didn’t make jokes about the lies, either. Nor did the entire political class crack up when he did.

So there’s that.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. sufferin' succotash

      How about the audience? It’s not like the intellectual & moral bankruptcy of the nation’s political class, is it?

      1. fresno dan

        sufferin’ succotash
        August 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

        VERY good point.
        Consequence free nation. gotta move on, can’t live in the past…

  1. dearieme

    Remember the Maine.

    Hell, go back further: the USA always has a pretext for war; recall the implausible excuses given for the attack on Canada in 1812.

    It’s not that the US is exceptional, of course, it’s that she’s pretty unexceptional, though perhaps with a bit more of a gangster tendency than some countries, a bit less than others.

      1. dearieme

        Not uniquely self-righteous but perhaps she is exceptionally self-righteous. It’s hard to know how to measure it though.

    1. James Levy

      No war enjoyed a greater level of organized propaganda after the fact than the War of 1812. Everything about it was lied about, distorted, or exaggerated. And the lies stuck. A spate of excellent books written for its bicentennial has done almost nothing to change that. What it demonstrates is that if any society, at whatever level of development, wants badly enough to believe in something, they will. People who ponder how the Germans bought into the “we didn’t really lose WWI, we were stabbed in the back by the Commies, the Socialists, and the Jews” should look no further than the War of 1812 to see how such consensus is generated and maintained.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Can you recommend some of those books on 1812? It’s hard to believe “no war enjoyed a greater level of organized propaganda after the fact.” I mean, we’ve set the baseline pretty high.

        1. James Levy

          Well, let’s put it this way: the cause of the war was the American desire to gobble up Canada while Britain looked like she was on her last legs. The disputed issues had largely been resolved but Congress didn’t wait to get the news from England and declared war when the reasons for war had been resolved. Then, rather than being beleaguered, the Americans had all the marbles and the initiative in their hands, as only 2400 British soldiers were stationed in Canada the day America declared war. The American aggression was, to the shock of the Americans, met with fierce resistance by the Canadian Militia which beat off repeated attempts to invade and occupy their territory. The US navy caught the British fleet mal-deployed and in tough shape with undermanned crews, and won a few frigate duels early on, but then was swept from the seas along with American merchant shipping. When it was all over, the Czar brokered a deal that reestablished the status quo ante, so American claims to have “won” were utterly bogus. But the whole narrative of “second war of American independence” “evil Britain” “innocent America” “we won the war” has been enshrined for two centuries. BTW, the best general work is Jon Latimer’s 1812: War with America; an entire volume of the Journal of Military History was devoted to the war in 2012. Andrew Lambert’s book The Challenge: Britain against America in the naval war of 1812 is also illuminating.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers

            James Sir,

            One of the funny things of the 1812 US incursions into Canada is how commercial interests by the US – that’s private business interests – trumped any strategy that the US forces may have thought up. Essentially the conflict was zoned by commercial interests to protect both their existing commerce and future commerce – which essentially mean’t commercial interests of the US-side undermined their own greed/lust for Canadian land. In the UK many books exist on this subject matter and as a Brit its always a joy to learn that His Majesty’s forces ransacked Washington and set fire to the Presidential home, which obviously had to be repaired and repainted (whitewashed) – obviously this set a precedent in the USA, which essentially is whitewash everything, particularly after the fact. It’s a long and proud tradition of the USA, just look at the Bhopal disaster in India as a classic example of this.

    2. Ignim Brites

      Including Lincoln’s crusade against the Confederacy and FDR’s jihad against the Empire of Japan. The pattern is one of righteous indignation and disproportionate response to offenses against us. How many over the top comparisons of the 9/11 attacks to Pearl Harbor were there in the weeks and months leading up to the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq? Although it has to be conceded that not even the Pearl Harbor attack almost succeeded in collapsing the financial system of the nation.

      1. steviefinn

        America as far as I can tell is no worse than anywhere else, it’s just that your power junkies are the current top dogs whose actions affect everybody. The US used to be a beacon of hope to the rest of us & has & still does create wonders. I cannot imagine how drab my life would be without American culture, so for a few moments just think of those artists who speak deep to you & your loved ones who are the real America, not the empty suits who have pissed on hope.

        Chaplin & Carey Grant & millions of others needed America to produce their magic, creatures corrupt from insatiable appetite can shit anywhere & have been doing for centuries in every corner of this planet.

        1. diptherio

          Oh, you’re probably right. It’s a little egotistical to assume that we Americans are more narcissistic than everyone else…but goll-darn it, we gotta be number one at something!

          Jingoism is, of course, a global phenomenon, but I don’t know of too many other countries where people talk about being the “policeman for the world” with a straight face.

        2. TimR

          Without our “weaponized culture”? :-)
          No, just kidding… I think you are on to something. We forget that the US really did used to have some positive things going for it. I disagree that it was ALWAYS just the same as it ever was. Yes you can cite all the atrocities, but relatively speaking, the “founding fathers” had some keen ideas vis a vis the common man vs. aristocracy.

          I am starting to think that what we have, historically, are Two Americas: one is the American Revolutionary tradition, holding up the Enlightenment ideals, and the ideals of the Constitution (I know it has its critics, but again, I’m saying relatively speaking here.)
          Vs., the continuation of the British Empire virus/ ideology by other means, i.e. covert warfare.

          1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

            I don’t know if the US had more going for it aside from PR. Read “Wisconsin Death Trip” about how blindsided immigrant farmers felt going from debt peonage in Sweden or Germany to debt peonage in Wisconsin.

        3. Christopher Dale Rogers

          Sorry to break it to you “old bean” but Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel were both British and Charlie Chaplin was forced to leave the USA after WWII due to his political beliefs, which were quite left-of-centre shall we say.

          1. steviefinn

            CDR – The point was that both Charlie & Archie would very probably have not had the success they enjoyed In the US within a still stuck in a Victorian class structured Britain. As for Chaplin’s political views – At least he gained a platform to produce such as this :


        4. Glenn Condell

          ‘America as far as I can tell is no worse than anywhere else, it’s just that your power junkies are the current top dogs whose actions affect everybody.’

          That’s my take exactly. No issue with Americans (or even Israelis) per se but greed, hubristic violence and attempts at coercive control tend to piss populations off over time, and those three horsemen always seem to appear once any group consolidates power over others. Everyone sees the US as the clear and present danger now and is acting accordingly – Russia, China, Germany, Japan and many more are increasingly cutting the US out economically and politically where feasible.

          Of course, all being human, the elites in those countries would be just as bad as the US ascendancy, possibly worse, but none of them on their own are capable of hegemony. In the end it seems only a balance of power will do to temper the worst excesses, so maybe an axis of politely anti-US large nations is desirable for all of us, including the vast majority of Americans.

          The history of democrat and socialist success souring into empire or totalitarianism or both is unnerving – Athens couldn’t wait to use its new democracy as a means to forge a coercive empire which in a generation or two had alienated the rest of the Greeks, the admirable sobriety of the Roman republic inexorably descended into monarchy, France, Russia, etc. There is no reason why the US should be exempt from this apparently Iron Law, nor the wannabes who are tentatively preparing the ground for their eventual replacement.

          ‘The US used to be a beacon of hope to the rest of us & has & still does create wonders. I cannot imagine how drab my life would be without American culture, so for a few moments just think of those artists who speak deep to you & your loved ones who are the real America, not the empty suits who have pissed on hope’

          Yes, and all is not lost I suppose.. perhaps regeneration can come via the realm of culture, but I haven’t seen anything likely any closer than the margins. Ridicule and satire are what the doctor is ordering, along with a tall glass of courage.

          Amusing to see Russell Brand taking drive by potshots at Hannity and O’Reilly, who could stand for me as totems of what America has allowed itself to become:


          The O’Reilly clip where he tells the poor how not to be poor is especially vile.

          Where’s Bill Hicks when you need him?

          1. steviefinn

            I miss Bill – Another point is that within the blogosphere the vast majority of sites like NC that give us an alternative to the MSM cocksuckers are of American origin. I think Leonard Cohen described the US as the home of the best & the worst & I am very thankful for the best – I hate to think where my opinions would be without places such as this.

      2. optimader

        “How dare you! We Americans are exceptional!…exceptionally narcissistic! ”
        some yes some no, it’s a huge generalization

      3. Worker-Owner

        As a trombone player all through high school and college … I played The National Anthem far too many times to count … I’ve done my time!

  2. Jim Haygood

    A couple of members of Congress are shocked at a 28-page secret report detailing Saudi involvement in 9/11. But their colleagues don’t seem interested:


    ‘I had to stop every couple of pages, and just sort of absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to rethink everything.’ — Rep. Thomas Massie

    1. trinity river

      Thanks, Jim, for posting this. So what is in the 28 pages? Could you give us more context about this?

        1. Glenn Condell

          I would add to that list a leak from the Swedish Prosecutor’s office, relating to the Assange case and the pressure brought to bear on the decision to prosecute.

    2. susan the other

      I remember finding this info on the Saudis shortly after 9/11. And there was a lot of info about the Mossad as well. I remember Rudy Juliani refusing a check from King Saud like he was already in his next election campaign. And etc. The question should be why didn’t Congress read this stuff back then? Not why doesn’t Congress care to dig it up again. That it is being aired now is curious. The best explanation is that there are people who are pissed at the Saudis and stand to gain from driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the US. Possible suspects run the gamut from Russia, to the EU, to Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to Iran to big finance, to blablablah.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        My goal is to introduce skepticism in the midst of a war climate. Recall that for the average Congressional staffer, WMDs happened when they were twenty, and Vietnam is ancient history. I don’t need speculation to do that, just Gulf of Tonkin and WMDs, because they’re open and shut cases, iron clad, and not hairballs. “The best explanation,” forsooth.

        1. susan the other

          Then just for you Lambert, I do remember Tonkin. I remember it well. Since it came after JFK’s assassination, whereby everyone with just one or two brain cells suddenly knew the whole thing was rigged – even if they were only 16 years old – it had the unmistakeable scent of bullshit. And the realization was immediate that they could do whatever they wanted. And they did. They took the guy I loved two years later and he was never the same. Nor were any of us. And to this day no one can give a convincing argument about why we even bothered to go to war. Because long after the war ended our economy suffered a reckoning it is still dealing with today. Usings the same senseless tactic.

          1. impermanence

            War is the most effective way of getting ‘something for nothing’ [for the Elite]. Just think about all the different ways they profit off of war. Obviously, it’s simply irresistible to them.

            1. mellon

              Gopgle “control fraud” That’s what we’re dealing with. Best term I’ve seen to date.

              How to end it? People need to engage a lot more and stop settling for “lesser of two evils” Reject that whole concept. Make them keep having elections until we have candidates that people want and have the ability to have a recall election at any time on new information. Shorten electoral terms to two years or less.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            If you want to fix, well, not your car, but, say, your washing machine, the “best explanation” isn’t going to come from speculating about it. If it did, washing machines would be a good deal easier to fix. If you want to unrig the system. then you’d better understand the system. And we’d better get that work done before we die, because nobody else is going to remember.

    3. Crazy Horse

      911 is the litmus test of whether someone has a clue about how propaganda functions in America. If they accept that Dick Cheney just happened to take control of NORAD prior to the attacks and call off all interception, that poorly trained hijackers incapable of piloting a Cessna performed precision flying maneuvers in unfamiliar jet airliners, and that the laws of physics were temporarily suspended, gravity repealed, and the melting point of steel changed by airplanes hitting two of the three towers, then there is little hope that they will ever understand false flag events like Colin Powell’s UN presentation of the WMD fabrication or the US/Ukrainian downing of Flight MH17 to provide cover for economic warfare against Russia.

      And it would seem entirely logical that President Obomber would spirit the body of the world’s most wanted criminal off to burial at sea in a weighted casket before anybody could identify it, and it will never occur to them that the casket might have been empty.

  3. FederalismForever

    The crucial difference between Johnson’s claim about Gulf of Tonkin and Bush’s claim about Iraq’s WMD is that Johnson is making a claim about an event that happened in the past whereas Bush (at the time he is speaking) is making a claim about a state of affairs which presently obtains (i.e., that Iraq “has” WMD), and can be confirmed in the future (i.e., once the American-led coalition removes Saddam and a UN-led team recovers the WMD). Obviously, if Bush is lying (where “lying” means “intentionally” saying something that he knows is false) then Bush is taking a MUCH greater risk, since he knows that the rest of the world will be able to confirm the truth or falsity of his claim once Saddam is removed and the world can check whether Iraq truly had WMD. (Again, note the distinction between Bush’s claim and Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin claim, or McKinley’s Battleship Maine claim, or Putin’s claims about the Moscow apartment bombings, etc. – those claims all involved events that had (supposedly) already happened.) Given the enormous risks involved for Bush to deliberately lie about something that can be confirmed as true or false sometime in the future – especially the damage that it would likely cause the Republican Party, and the humiliating spectacle of Bush, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, etc. having to write their memoirs and attempt to explain how they got this so wrong – it is rather remarkable that so many continue to believe that Bush straight-up “lied” about Iraq having WMD. Indeed, in order to reach this conclusion, we almost must also believe that Bush was a secret agent of the Democratic Party, given how much the Democrats subsequently benefitted from Bush’s “lie” (cui bono, right?).

    All in all, it seems much more reasonable to conclude that Bush got “played” by a select group of much smarter people, who had more at stake in having Saddam removed (e.g., Chalabi – who has published papers in abstract algebra and had his own reasons for hating Saddam, or the neocon Israeli Likud sympathizers who made up Rumsfeld’s Office of Special Plans – many of whom (or their spouses) are dual Israeli citizens). That Saddam’s removal went so well, while the occupation afterwards went so poorly, actually makes sense, since these groups never wanted Iraq to be a stable country with a stable government – that was never part of their plan. They just needed some not-too-bright politician, with little grasp of history, to be fed enough plausible bits of intelligence for him to honestly believe (in his own dull-witted mind) that Iraq had WMD and to then rally the American public to remove Saddam. (After all, many thought that Saddam had WMD prior to the Iraq War.) That some memo written by some underling has language about “the facts being fixed around the policy” is no more unusual than, say, the exaggerations in Lord Bryce’s Report pre-WWI.

    1. James Levy

      Bush wanted to attack Iraq BEFORE 9/11, so making excuses for him having been “played” smacks of excuses bordering on absolution–hey, he was dumb, it wasn’t his fault. But then you have to explain Rice and Powell, who were not dumb. And your idea that he was thinking about his party really doesn’t hold much water; how much does Obama do to help his party? Bush wanted war and didn’t give a shit about his party, the truth, or what the consequences would be. It was his vindication as a human being and a man. He was going to be a “war president” and “finish the job” his father had “failed” to accomplish (you know, as in “mission accomplished”). Johnson did what he did out of shameless political expediency, to cover his ass in the showdown with rabid dog Goldwater by showing that he could kill commies, too. Bush did in out of a pathetic weakness at the core of his being.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Sure, that too. The whole “dry drunk” thing Bush had going. Doesn’t mean Cheney didn’t “play” him; they’re all playing each other, all the time. It really is like Game of Thrones. (Of course, in GoT what really matters is that winter is coming, that being the terrain that structures everything else…)

      2. FederalismForever

        @James Levy. None of what you said entails that Bush lied when he said that Saddam had WMD. You say Bush was intent on invading Iraq before 9/11, inspired in part by finishing what his Dad started, and to be viewed as a ‘war president’ etc., But many world leaders (including many Democrats) honestly believed Saddam had WMD prior to 9/11. Bush’s personal motives do more to explain why he chose to focus on Iraq at all (rather than, say, Saudi Arabia) rather than his WMD claim.

    2. Crazy Horse

      My instinctual reaction to watching little bush’s body language as he retreats to the back row of a classroom of third graders after being told that the nation was under attack is to deduce that he was awaiting orders. Orders from the person actually in charge— Cheney.


      Have you forgotten the Downing St. memo about “fixing the intelligence”? Or that Bush suggested painting U.N. insignias on spy planes in the hope that Iraq would fire at them, giving Bush justification for war?

      Bush needs no excuses. He sent Colin Powell into the U.N. to lie and mislead about Iraq’s chemical weapons.

      His attack on and invasion of Iraq was finally called, by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, “illegal” (United Nations News Centre – Lessons of Iraq war underscore importance of UN Charter – Annan
      http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=11953&#.U90nTzI2xN0). That makes the Bush regime war criminals guilty of the same “supreme international crime” as was Nazi Germany in the Nuremberg Trials, as stated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, a presiding judge at those war crimes tribunals.

      1. FederalismForever

        @REDPILLED. Downing Street Memo consists of notes taken by a British agent during a meeting – it can be viewed as a rough summary of what was said, rather than dictation that should be accorded gospel truth.

        In your UN link above, when Kofi Annan says the Iraq War was “illegal”, he means in the sense that a preventive action violates the UN Charter. This is (arguably) a flaw in the UN Charter, and does not, in and of itself, entail that Bush is a war criminal in the same sense as the Nazis were.

        My main point still stands: We can paraphrase Bush’s assertion that there are WMD in Iraq as “Once we remove Saddam, we’re going to find a bunch of WMD in Iraq.” Even Bush is smart enough to figure out that if no WMD are found, his credibility, his party’s credibility and US credibility are all likely to suffer tremendously, for years and (perhaps) decades to come. And we have seen that the Republican Party has suffered because of what Bush said. It makes no sense to believe that Bush would deliberately engineer such a result. Rather, he was just the victim of bad intelligence. To be sure, there are many other reasons to criticize Bush and his handling of the Iraq War. But, unlike Johnson, who DID lie about Gulf Tonkin, I think it’s a stretch to claim that Bush himself deliberately “lied” about WMD in Iraq.

          1. Synopticist

            The foreign policy establishment thought there were WMDs in Iraq. Iraqi generals thought they had them. Saddam told Egypt’s president Mubarak that he possessed them. Everyone thought Iraq had a WMD programme, just like Israel, Libya, Syria and Iran. All of which do.

            Saddam WANTED people to think they had that ability. It was a deterent against Iranian attack, and a clever and cheap deterent at that. Better to make your enemies think you have a certain capability without having to spend the money to actually get it.
            It was only after 9-11, when he realised the US was going to invade, that he tried to persuade people he didn’t, but tby then it was too late.

            1. craazyboy

              That actually sounds very plausible. Combine that with the fact that Saddam was also deathly afraid of internal insurrection, (8 doubles of Saddam?!) it would be much safer to not actually have any nerve gas that may be captured by an aspiring General and used against him. Then the deterrent thing works, you can tell all your generals that they need not fear going into battle because the nerve gas Calvary has their backs, and of course feed the disinformation into western intel to complete the façade.

              Then again, I do remember a news article stating Saddam snuck all the WMDs out of the country and they were on a freighter cruising around in the Indian Ocean. I assumed that was a Karl Rove placed story at the time, but I guess any hack could have made that one up.

              But this is all a quibble over nuance. It was pretty clear, soon after Bush was elected, not before, that he wanted to go into Iraq. I saw a story stating that Saddam had made an assassination attempt on Daddy B and George was po’d over that. Coulda been the Dem hack that made that up. So hard to keep track. The oil connection is hard to deny, and there were stories after the invasion showing drawn up plans for how western oil companies would divvy up the oil fields. That didn’t come to fruition, but planned or not, the price of oil went from below $20 to today’s price.

              So my overly long attempt at making my point is that Bush just latched on to the WMD story as an excuse to sell the war to the public. He also did not make that part of his campaign platform when running for prez the first time. how he got elected the second time still baffles me to no end.

              So we are trying to decide if he lied or just put us thru one long deception?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Much can be done with paraphrase, it is true. The White House Iraq Group was run — follow me closely here — out of the White House. It’s job was to plant WMD stories in the press. I did whackamole on those stories; they were one and all false. You’re saying Bush wasn’t aware of a White House activity like that? Pull the other one; it’s got bells on. First example that comes to mind; I’m sure there are others.

          1. FederalismForever

            @Lambert. When you say “they were one and all false” are you saying: (i) Bush knew they were false at the time they were released to the public? Or are you instead saying (ii) we found out they were false later, when it was revealed that some (or maybe all) of the intelligence turned out to be false/unreliable. For example, I’m sure you are aware of how the intelligence supplied by “Curveball” turned out to be untrue. The question is: did Bush know that from the start? If so, he lied. But if not, then he just got “played” by Curveball.

            1. skippy

              Bushes persona at a – fundamental level – wanted it to be true, hence he was a loaded hair trigger gun waiting to go off at the slightest tremor [he was not alone].

              skippy… painting puppys is a way of atoning for past horrors?

              1. Susan the other

                As Gore Vidal pointed out, Bush was an oilman. Iraq was an oil takeover. Not too many corporations, except western ones, to profit from this chaos. Now ISIS is very interesting. If ISIS interferes with oil access and control by western governments, ISIS will be history. My guess.

      2. different clue

        And part of what the Democratic Party Leadership immunised and impunitised with “Impeachment is off the table” and “look forward, not back”.

      1. FederalismForever

        @Lambert Strether. “Bush being played and Bush lying aren’t mutually exclusive.” Agreed, but given your rigorous and scrupulous attention to how language is used in other contexts, I would have assumed that it matters to you whether Bush actually lied when he said there were WMD in Iraq.

          1. susan the other

            Of course he knew. He planned to go into Iraq when he entered the race, which he stole, if you will bother to recall. He knew full well what he was doing. And he knew why he was doing it. Oil. Looking back I’d surmise that Bush and his class of oligarchs knew capitalism was gonna crash – all the failings were evident. So their big concern was oil and the control of oil. More to keep the price up and therefore keep western economies up and functioning. All the rest is nonsense.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Well, that’s an interesting surmise.

              The Republicans probably stole two elections, Florida 2000. See RFK Jr. on Ohio 2004. I remember that one vividly; it was the one where I went to bed thinking Kerry would challenge the count — they’d actually fundraised for the lawyers — and woke up in the morning to find out he wasn’t. Democrats. (I add this detail because you seem to have gotten the idea that I don’t pay attention to this stuff.)

                1. Jagger

                  And what is clear now is that Kerry would have given Bush a run for the money in terms of incompetence.

                    1. Synopticist

                      I never in my life expect to see a presidential term as bad as Bush’s second again, but Kerry might have done even worse.

            2. FederalismForever

              @susan the other. In saying it was all about oil, I take it you don’t share Lambert’s skepticism for monocausal explanations. But let me ask you something more specific: is it your view that rising oil prices HELP western economies? Please explain.

                  1. Susan the other

                    OK. Yes, that is exactly what I think. If the high price for oil were bad for the economy, in some way, the price would be lower. And the other thought that lurks in the gutter of my brain is that global warming is being addressed by all the austerity measures now being tolerated. I’m really not against that part but I am against the inequality.

            3. Synopticist

              Always wanting to invade Iraq and knowing there were no WMDs there are two totally different things. Blair was equally determined to get rid of Saddam. Both were told that there were WMDs in Iraq prior to the invasion. The lies were exagerating the certainty of the intelligence, but everyone around them was convinced.

          2. James Levy

            Understood. My points were about why Bush did what he did. Why the Power Elite was on board, why the media so slavishly followed their lead, and why millions of Americans happily bought the lies are all due to different factors. And if Federalism is right about the terrible cost of being shown to have lied for the Republicans and Bush, how come the Dems chose a patsy to oppose him and he was re-elected in 2004?

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              To the general question “Why ___ did what ___ did?” to bring about the Iraq War, I think the answer will vary by the class of person involved, and their position within their own class. I know this is unsatisfying, and I promise I’m thinking how to do better and simpler. Off the top of my head: For the thousand or so squillionaires who own the global chessboard, the war was “about” oil. For the troops from the poor flyover state who joined the Army, the war was “about” getting out and maybe having a job and a family (and here we throw in a dose of patriotism, too). For the people beating the drums in the political class, the most venal and disgusting of motives. (Tom Friedman’s “suck on this” works on so very many levels.) For politicians seeking to win the next race, the calculation about what the voters could or could not hear and accept. (The voters weren’t “war weary” then.) For a flexian network like the neo-cons, protecting Israel figured largely. And for each of these classes of actors, we would need to factor in generous doses of ignorance, delusion, groupthink, and psychopathology.) Actually, if I managed to put together a post on this, there wouldn’t be that many headings; so things wouldn’t be that complicated; no more so than, say, the explanation of a disease and its treatment on a medical page; but more complicated than, say, a cartoon or a comic book.

              Leaving out the classes of players, and thinking only of flows: We have an empire, and I would speculate that Iraq was Peak Empire. An empire makes some things very hard to do, and other things very easy to do. War, for an empire, is one of the easy things. The empire exists to arrange that capital flows in a certain way, or, we might way, capital arranges for the empire to act in a certain way (capital not being “wealth” but a social relation) by maintaining a portfolio of options among the classes listed above, and deploying them opportunistically.

              Sorry to gas on, but since you asked the question… Bloggers are a lot more like real time historians than they are journalists, IMNSHO.

              1. FederalismForever

                @Lambert Strether. What a tragically sad and cynical portrait of humanity this is! It’s notable for leaving out entirely any of the “humanitarian” aims asserted by some who favored the Iraq War. Although I opposed the Iraq War, the closest I ever came to supporting it was an article in Dissent which described in painful detail how the economic sanctions that had been imposed on Iraq had caused many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to suffer. The author speculated that a quick removal of Saddam might actually lessen the suffering, net, net (whatever that means) in the long run. Speaking of Saddam, there is little doubt that he was a truly awful and despicable human being, who had violated at least 12 UN Security Council Resolutions – a fact which also doesn’t make your list. Doesn’t that mean something? Are you seriously suggesting that humanitarian concerns like these literally count for NOTHING when it come to sorting out the reasons behind the Iraq War? Is the whole UN Security Council rigmarole just an elaborate charade to district from the squillionaires and their global chess game?

                1. skippy

                  The old adage if you “break something you own it” serves here, since the demise of the Ottomans and the geopolitical actions after WWI to date, it seems that responsibility is clear. That those actions were premised on market out comes and not the viability of social ethnic groups “splaines” a lot of stuff… eh.

                  1. Synopticist

                    Blair thought of it in those terms, to an extent. Saddam genuinely was one evil bastard, one of the worst since WW2.

                  2. FederalismForever

                    Is it really inconceivable to you that some of the actors in one or more of your classes might have been motivated, in part, by humanitarian concerns?

                    1. skippy

                      Is that why the Halliburton trucks were pre-staged ahead the invasion forces?

                      skippy… or is Halliburton a humanitarian ongoing concern….

                  3. Crazy Horse

                    Yep– Shock and Awe— the great humanitarian gesture of a dying Empire.

                    I’m sure Rummy thought he was being Mother Terasa and will be rewarded with 17 virgins for his actions. Oh wait— that is a different variety of terrorism.

                    1. FederalismForever

                      @Crazy Horse. That “shock and awe” campaign rid the world of Saddam Hussein – a man responsible for the deaths of over 1 million people during his 25 year reign.

                      Look, I opposed the Iraq War, but it seems silly to say that it had no redeeming features whatsoever. Look at how it has benefitted the Kurds, for example. They now have a real chance of forming a viable state, in no small part due to the fact that Saddam is no longer around.

    4. cnchal

      Hans Blix. Does anyone remember the UN weapons inspector telling the world that Iraq had no WMD for months and months before the Iraqi war started.

      The facilities where these weapons were supposedly being made were bereft of any machine tools needed to make those weapons.

      Hans Blix was maliciously ignored, was absolutely correct, and not a liar.

      Bush, on the other hand is a liar.

      They just needed some not-too-bright politician, with little grasp of history, to be fed enough plausible bits of intelligence for him to honestly believe (in his own dull-witted mind) that Iraq had WMD and to then rally the American public to remove Saddam.

      OK then, Bush isn’t a liar. Just dull-witted.

      Even Bush is smart enough to figure out that if no WMD are found, his credibility, his party’s credibility and US credibility are all likely to suffer tremendously, for years and (perhaps) decades to come. And we have seen that the Republican Party has suffered because of what Bush said. It makes no sense to believe that Bush would deliberately engineer such a result. Rather, he was just the victim of bad intelligence.

      Bush had to expend tremendous mental effort to plug his ears. Bad intelligence? Were the CIA and NSA lying to Bush and he just passed their lies on? Why weren’t the intelligence people subsequently fired for gross incompetence and misleading the President?

      I don’t buy the “victim of bad intelligence” line, because that simply isn’t true. The intelligence agencies knew that Iraq did not have WMD. Bush didn’t listen to them. He only had ears for evil doer Dick.

  4. Chauncey Gardiner

    Patterns and degree of deception appear to be eerily similar. What occurred to MH17 is not clear cut and unequivocal, and in fact is shrouded in mystery, doubt and propaganda, just as were the supposed WMDs in Iraq, the Syrian government gas attacks, and other incidents.

    Intriguing that some of the same people have been involved in pushing the programs of provocation, propaganda and persuasion in these incidents.

    I am reminded of then president GW Bush’s statement: “My job is to catapult the propaganda.”

    Who delegates the president this task and what is the source of their leverage?

    As the video said, the pattern of deception remains consistent between all these incidents. Why are these individuals so intent on again immersing our nation in military conflict?

    What can be done to remove them from power before they again cost us and the world thousands of lost and impaired lives and trillions of dollars?

    1. D. Mathews

      That mystery may be close to being resolved:

      “…the MH17 tragedy is undergoing a fast metamorphosis. When the on-site observations by this Canadian OSCE monitor (watch the video carefully) are compounded with this analysis by a German pilot, a strong probability points to a Ukrainian Su-25’s 30 mm auto-cannon firing at the cockpit of MH17, leading to massive decompression and the crash.

      No missile – not even an air-to-air R-60M, not to mention a BUK (the star of the initial, frenetic American spin). The new possible narrative fits with on-site testimony by eyewitness in this now famously “disappeared” BBC report. Bottom line: MH17 configured as a false flag, planned by the US and botched by Kiev. One can barely imagine the tectonic geopolitical repercussions were the false flag to be fully exposed.”

      1. Susan the other

        Are you wondering if MH17 might have been bombed from the cargo hold like Lockerbie? I’ve been thinking that was a plausible explanation. Given the Amsterdam track record.

  5. carlos

    Your question “What can be done to remove them from power before they again cost us and the world thousands of lost and impaired lives and trillions of dollars?” clearly indicates the answer. When the US people finally, belatedly, rise up and remove these people, then the world may know some peace, for the short time before the climate change destroys us all.

  6. grayslady

    In Part II of the interview, Jessica D. comes right out and asks Porter and Ellsberg who stood to benefit by starting a ground war in Vietnam. She asked the question at least twice, but neither man answered. Both men made it clear that McNamara withheld vital information from LBJ regarding the supposed torpedo attack, but I can’t see McNamara, individually, wanting to push war with Vietnam–not like Cheney and Iraq. The “Domino Theory” had been pushed on the public since the Kennedy-Nixon debates, but that was just typical communist fear-mongering of the ’50s and ’60s. After watching both parts of the interview, I still don’t know the answer to Jessica’s question.

    1. lambert strether

      It’s been a long time, and of course then we were all caught up in the hairballs, the detail, who lied about what when. I should go find the equivalent of the wonderful Sleepwalkers (for World War I) for the Vietnam war. Straightforward realpolitik, I would think, followed by the loss of “credibility” if we withdrew once we were in. “Credibility” is a lot like the “confidence fairy,” I think.

      1. grayslady

        Sleepwalkers was an excellent book. A lot of the shifting political alliances that led up to WWI reminds me of what I see happening today.

    2. susan the other

      A lot of the things I read, apologzing for McNamara, more or led the reader to believe he was duped by the wiley LBJ. Which I am inclined to believe, but only so far. McNamara was smart, very smart. So his duping was a process he participated in, imo. So why can’t we ask the question: What is it about capitalism that requires war? That’s a question McNamara wanted to ask I am sure.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Re: …”What is it about capitalism that requires war? That’s a question McNamara wanted to ask, I am sure.”

        There are many others who would like to know the answer to that question. Or is it just a particular flavor of capitalism that requires war?

        1. sd

          Perhaps the answer is simple. Capitalists are nothing more than bullies. War is started by bullies.

    3. Daniel

      It seems to me as I read more and more about Vietnam that the war there, ground and air eventually was about the threat of a good example. Most likely different players had different beliefs and wants when it comes to Vietnam but overall the prevailing interest was in Vietnam not becoming a good development model for other post-colonial economies. That is why it was largely destroyed, or at least they tried their hardest to destroy it. Please correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Nixon write an article when he was a senator during the U.S. funding of France’s reconquest about the need for the vast resources of IndoChina not falling into the hands of Communist’s? Or something along those lines?

  7. VietnamVet

    This is correct. Propaganda and lies were the basis for starting the Vietnam War, the Iraq Invasion and the Ukraine Civil War. We are currently just waiting to see if the Western Oligarchs’ takeover of Ukraine will be successful or not. NYT’s interactive map shows Donetsk encircled. True or not, right now there is a hush. Unlike these other wars, today we are waiting to see if Russia intervenes or not. Barrack Obama’s call and reports of USA and EU sending more supplies to Ukraine, I assume, are to intimidate Vladimir Putin. August 2, 2014 may be the first day of WWIII; the beginning of the end.

  8. Paul Tioxon

    Viet Nam and our involvement was the skeleton key that opened up the rift between the American government and its people in a way not seen since the Civil War almost 100 before. Daniel Ellsberg was among the highest placed advisers to the WH and the Pentagon. He was a Marine officer present on board a ship dispatched to the Suez Canal during the Crisis of 1956. In his book, he illuminates the era and the politics of an unfractured America and proceeds to unfold an analysis and personal transformation that was repeated 10s of millions of times over in men and women, young high school students and even grade school kids who saw the films of a mighty nation headed to space year by year using the cutting edge of science and technology to the moon and then turn around beat Black kids skulls open for wanting to sit down at a diner or register someone to vote. From lie after lie, assassination after assassination, and there were local ones too, not just the Big Four Hits, JFK, MLK, RFK and yeah Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the organized labor, civil rights and liberal politics was blown off on TV with a message from our sponsors. The New Frontier has just run out available land, all the room has been taken. We could head to the moon, but nothing on earth could work as well as that triumph, which did not make any sense.

    LBJ was forced out of running when the Wise Men, the top of the power elite showed up and told him that either the war gets bigger or we’ll get someone else to do the job. Johnson could not stomach what was coming. But someone could- tan, rested and ready: Richard M Nixon, the peace candidate, who withdrew troops but blackened the skies of Hanoi with every B52 in the Air Force for Christmas bombings. Night after night 110 fully loaded B52s flied sortie after sortie leveling a children’s hospital by mistake the first night and again the exact same hospital by mistake the next night. In order to get us into the shooting war that the French, almost completely financed by us during the 1950s because they were totally broke by WWII, a huge lie had to be concocted and rammed through the system, as Ellsberg outlines.

    Ellsberg went on to get a PhD in Economics, in Game Theory from Harvard and joined The Rand Corp, the CIA think tank. What would it take to get a Cold Warrior with military tours of duty, first hand on the ground experience in Viet Nam, not just some blowhard chicken hawk arm chair video game general, but a gung ho defeat communism there before it gets here mindset? He saw the ever expanding war into the neighboring countries, the military, industry, the National Security apparatus represented by the CIA and FBI creating a juggernaut of officially sanctioned oppression in America and murderous destruction of a nation with a huge population not only being bombed and burned with napalm but also poisoned with a deadly chemical toxin sprayed all over this agricultural paradise, Agent Orange, product of DOW Chemical Co. And on and on until he couldn’t stomach it and was willing to risk trial and imprisonment to stop the war based on a lie that they knew from the very beginning could never be won.

    The war was started with a lie, but the equally big lie was that even if they got their war, they knew it could not be won. That we would be driven out like the French. That’s also what was in the Pentagon Papers. The aftermath analysis of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident has much more demonstrating the fabrication used as a pretext for war. Especially the testimony of the Navy Jet Squadron leader from the air craft carrier in the area, James Stockwell, who was Ross Perot’s VP running mate. His testimony absolutely contradicted the lies of an assault on the 2nd night. He was up in the sky in a perfect unobstructed position, unlike the navy destroyers that bad visibility and were reporting numerous torpedoes being fired at them. This Medal of Honor POW saw now boats, no wake of boats, no torpedoes, no nothing. This corroborated other reports once they had a chance to be sorted out of the confusion of the moment. Hardly the fog of war. Rinky dink shallow water coastal boats up against the the blue water sailors of the US Navy were hardly providing a white knuckle pressure cooker, especially when they were miles away and not firing anything that could sink a heavily plated warship.

    With Mac, Ellsberg, Stockwell and a careful sifting through all of the papers from Washington and the reports from sea, not only was there no sea battle, but the first shots came from the US Navy, with nothing like a torpedo attack at all happening, it is not a controversial subject anymore.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        More lying sacks of shit that you shake a stick at. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen news crews talk to jarheads with new recruits giving them the lowdown about the stab in back liberal commie left and the media blah blah blah lying about the Viet Nam war we won. These are same inbred science denying let their children bleed to death because Jesus will save simpletons I see on the media almost everyday. They mean nothing to me. I’ve yet to see one statue of the hero general who won this battle or that like the Civil War statues all over City Hall in Philadelphia. The WWI or WWII statues of generals and heroes. All we have for the Viet Nam war is memorials for the dead. No victories just names and dates of the dead. You tell me, where are the victory monuments?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          If you follow the victory parade for Iraq, you will come to the victory monuments for Vietnam. If you want to know where the victory parade starts, just ask the politicians claiming credit for the win. (QED.)

          1. Paul Tioxon

            I think you may appreciate this. In any picture of City Hall in Philly shows hundreds of sculptures on the building itself, and carved into the building. It started construction right after the Civil War. Now, all of that statuary including the William Penn statue crowning the building, all relate to civil society, the details which are vastly important for history, but not my point now. At the utmost periphery of the building, are very large statues of some generals from the Union army, huge granite pedestals with gallant and command bearing horse riding generals looking powerful and victorious, unlike the South with Jubilation T Cornpone. There are so many proposals for these statues that when the building was going up, our City Hall structure threatened to become the largest War Victory Monument in Human History. There were so many claims to so many leaders, heroes, etc etc all examples of the greatness and glory of not the preservation of the Union but kicking the crap out of the South and burning it the hell down as much as possible.

            There was a Quaker faction that fought tooth and nail to prevent this from becoming an unseemly victory dance. All of the statues of the Civil War Generals are practically on the curb of the street, many feet from the walls of the building to the point they do not even seem that they are part of the building but something added to a larger plaza as space was filled in over time. And these are only the victory statues for the Civil War around City Hall, all over the city there are more. There is Grant, and Lincoln, there are Black Civil War Soldiers and a huge towering, I mean 10 stories high gateways in the middle of Fairmount Park topped with more heroes and names of regiments and on and on. Have you ever been to Gettysburg? It is sacred ground for acres and acres and don’t even think of building anything commercial next to it for fear of crucifixtion. This City reveled in the victory. You get my point. Some of the Nam Vets march in parades today, but they are not beating the drum for victory speeches. We honor them for their service, along with other vets. But it’s always the old guard from WWII that really gets the loudest cheers in my experience. The Nam guys have made their peace with it and don’t want to completely forget about it, but movements to call it military victory? That’s crazy talk.


  9. masterslave

    Susan the other : “” The best explanation is that there are people who are pissed at the Saudis and stand to gain from driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the US. Possible suspects run the gamut from Russia, to the EU, to Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to Iran to big finance, to blablablah.””

    I agree . The culprit is most likely Israel since the Saudi king recently harshly criticised Israel about the assault against Gaza palistinians .

  10. masterslave

    Lambert Strether : “” If you want to unrig the system. then you’d better understand the system. And we’d better get that work done before we die, because nobody else is going to remember “”

    Good point except that unrigging is not the answer since it cannot be done . You cannot fix a sailboat by unrigging it . Re-rigging to generally acceptable specifications has always been the answer and is the answer . No other way will work .
    In other words , a solution that is ” unrigged ” would be fantasy .

  11. masterslave

    FederalismForever : “” But, unlike Johnson, who DID lie about Gulf Tonkin, I think it’s a stretch to claim that Bush himself deliberately “lied” about WMD in Iraq.””

    How do we know that Johnson was not given erratic intelligence just like Bush ?

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re: “How do we know that Johnson was not given erratic intelligence just like Bush?”

      Did you (and FederalismForever) not watch the videos? The spin effort to portray Bush as being unknowledgeable about the falsity of the propaganda regarding WMDs in Iraq is belied by both videos, particularly the second.

      1. FederalismForever

        @Chauncey Gardiner. You’re kidding, right? That one 28-second video of Bush at that dinner completely settled the question for you? Talk about confirmation bias!

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          @FederalismForever: Just delete the final word of your reply and you’re getting closer, by Jove.

  12. sd

    On Iraq – it’s quite clear now that Cheneys secret energy task force meetings were nothing more than preplanning sessions for an invasion of Iraq. Which is exactly why he fought so hard to keep the meetings secret from FOIA.

  13. MIchael

    Any one else reading “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer? The story of Alan Dulles and John Foster Dulles and their leading roles in setting up the CIA and using it to effect regime change (Alan) and concocting policy regarding Communism and American business interests abroad while dragging Presidents and Congress along (Foster). Hard to imagine these two brothers working together and their actions remaining secret for so long.

    1. LifelongLib

      There probably were people pointing out what the brothers were doing (at least in general terms), but IIRC as I.F. Stone said it was all buried in paragraphs on page 16 of the newspapers.

    2. FederalismForever

      I read it. It’s horrendous – almost comically one-sided and naive. The author repeatedly disparages JFD as “puritanical” yet, in a way, the author’s perspective is similarly self-righteous and moralizing, relentlessly condemning the brothers without making the slightest attempt to understand their point of view. The author commits numerous errors common to books in this genre: (i) assigning enormous weight and gravity to the CIA’s role and influence in world activities – for this author, the mere presence of a few CIA personnel in a region is enough to blame the CIA for everything bad that happens in that region; (ii) invariably siding with “nationalist” leaders who violate corporate contracts and seize/nationalize property owned by U.S. corporations – really a form of theft (e.g., Iran’s “nationalizing” its oil fields in 1953); (iii) coming down harshly on JFD for doing business with Nazi Germany in the 1930s, yet entirely skating over all of the evils committed by the Soviet regime in the 1950s, which (arguably) the brothers were far more enlightened about. Whatever mistakes were committed by the brothers and the CIA in the 1950s, the fact is by 1960 Eisenhower had achieved his goal of not having a single U.S. soldier in combat by that time. One hopes for a more balanced treatment of this fascinating subject sometime soon.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thank you for the reading tip, Michael. 30 pages of readers’ reviews on Amazon, the vast majority favorable. Hmmm…

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