Yves here. Recall that Helmer is particularly well positioned to vet third party research into the jockeying among key players in the Carter Administration, particularly with respect to Russia policy. This version of history also highlights the harm that what looks like a policy success can turn out to be anything but with the passage of time…and that powerfully placed individuals like Brzezinski, Bob Rubin, and Dick Cheney can do tremendous harm.
By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
If ever there was a man who displayed on his face the evil in his mind, it was Zbigniew Brzezinski (lead image, left), the national security advisor for President Jimmy Carter (right) when the US plot to start the war against the Soviet Union on the Afghan front was hatched in 1979. “Now we can lure the Russians into the Afghan trap,” he wrote Carter in a secret note of February 1979. In July of that year he followed with the directive Carter signed in secret to supply arms to the mujahideen “to induce a Soviet military intervention”. In December 1979 Brzezinski told Carter: “we should not be too sanguine about Afghanistan becoming a Soviet Vietnam”. Later he used to boast that had been precisely his intention and also his crowning achievement.
Brzezinski’s lips are sealed now because he’s been dead for four years.
Carter is still alive. In 1979 he kept the evil on his mind secret behind the smile on his face. His lips are sealed now, since the retreat from Afghanistan began by the US Army, and after the rout last month in Kabul. The mainstream American press are not reporting they have asked Carter for comment, or that he has refused. Not even the alt-media investigators have pursued him.
But it’s already clear what Carter thinks. He believes he scored one of the wold’s great strategic victories; he is disgruntled that he has never received the public credit he thinks he deserves. In the words of one of the CIA men in charge of Afghanistan operations in 1979, Carter’s strategy was to wage the “fight [against] the Soviets that went on to win the final and decisive battle of the Cold War.”
A new book by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, just published, opens the story of what Brzezinski and Carter really did to start the US war in Afghanistan, starting with the assassination of Adolph Dubs, the US Ambassador in Kabul on February 14, 1979; his killing with four pistol shots to head in a Kabul hotel room, the book concludes, was part of the White House plot.
“Some unnamed Americans claimed the Soviets wanted Dubs out of the way so they could set up for their invasion,” Fitzgerald and Gould report. They go on to name the Americans, one an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Kabul, another a CIA agent. “But the Soviets got along famously with Dubs because he wasn’t an anti-Soviet Russophobe like Brzezinski. There was also plenty of evidence to show the Soviets didn’t want to invade. They went on record with the U.S. embassy throughout the summer of 1979 trying everything to avoid it. And besides, the rules of the game made ambassadors virtually untouchable. There was no upside to killing one, and a big downside.”
The assassination of Dubs, Fitzgerald and Gould argue, “led to the Soviet invasion nine months later….Who would kill an ambassador? Not a rival superpower trying to get the American Congress to sign a nuclear arms deal they’d desperately needed. And certainly not a third-world backwater desperate for U.S. aid and recognition. Only someone trying to provoke retribution. And who would want that retribution? Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski blamed the Russians, but then Brzezinski always blamed the Russians… If it hadn’t been for the Dubs murder there would never have been a Soviet invasion.”
Fitzgerald and Gould are a husband-and-wife team from Massachusetts which has been investigating and reporting on the war in Afghanistan since they negotiated their first filming trip to Kabul in May 1981; then the second in May 1983. Their book, The Valediction, Three Nights of Desmond, they call a “novelized memoir”; read it here. It is unclear what “novelized” means.
Beside the evidence of what they discovered years ago and since, Fitzgerald and Gould also record the attempts to suppress and erase their story by CBS, ABC, and PBS – the mainstream US television media – and newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor.
“How in the world could a person live a normal life knowing these things?” they asked themselves. “They couldn’t”, the book answers. When they discovered they have been manipulated, subverted and convinced of lies, starting at the White House and extending throughout the US press, it came to Fitzgerald and Gould as something of a shock. The problem, they also concede, will be the same for the readers of the book. Their answer to that: “’It’s all going on whether we know it or not. I’d rather know it,’ she [Gould] said.”
Left to right: The Valediction, Three Nights of Desmond; Elizabeth Gould, Paul Fitzgerald; Selig Harrison.
The one other reporter who knew the full story, who had been told the story of Brzezinski’s lying and scheming by Dubs himself, was Selig Harrison. He had been the Washington Post’s foreign correspondent until 1972 when he retired from field reporting to become a think-tank researcher based in Washington. Harrison died in December 2016.
His book with the United Nations negotiator on Afghanistan, Diego Cordovez, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal, published in 1995, is the story complementing this new one. It reveals how Brzezinski’s and Carter’s successors in Washington tried to stop the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and actively sabotaged every round and every term in the peace and withdrawal negotiations with Moscow. Read that book here.
Fitzgerald interviewed Harrison in Washington in August 1982, and records now what Harrison said then. “ ‘Dubs arrived with a mission,’ he told us. ‘Bring the Afghan leader Hafizullah Amin closer to the American side and keep the Russians out. It’s really a shame we lost him [Dubs]. He was uniquely qualified – one of the few Americans with a nuanced view of the Soviets….He’d spent years at the U.S. embassy in Moscow developing relationships with his Soviet counterparts. He wanted everybody to know destabilization would induce an invasion and was adamantly against Brzezinski’s anti-Soviet plots.’
‘But how did that go over with the neocons?’
‘Not well,’ [Harrison] said. ‘Brzezinski thought it was all nonsense. He saw the Soviet invasion as a great vindication of his point of view.’
‘So in a sense Brzezinski wanted to provoke the Soviets to invade.’
‘I don’t want to go on the record as saying that, but that’s what I believe. Brzezinski and Dubs were working at cross-purposes during late 1978 and early 1979. Dubs tried to play it safe by ordering a research paper on the possibility of provoking a Soviet invasion before he left. But no one took him seriously.’”
Harrison revealed to Fitzgerald that Dubs had been meeting the Afghan president Amin fourteen times in secret, before Dubs was murdered; and then Amin. Dubs had kept the meetings secret from Brzezinski, Carter, and also the CIA agents in the Kabul Embassy.
Harrison again: “ ‘[Dubs] came out [to Kabul] with a very sophisticated conception of what he was going to do, which was to try to make Amin into a kind of Tito, in other words, detach him. Dubs knew how subtle an operation it had to be. He had no illusions it could be done quickly. He would still be pretty close to the Russians, but he’d have more freedom of action and it would be enough to make it safe from our point of view. He met with Amin fourteen times and quickly understood that he was not a loyal Communist. He even bragged that the Soviets needed him more than he needed them. But the trick would be to keep a back door open to American influence while not triggering Soviet countermeasures.’
‘How did that work with the Soviets?’ I [Fitzgerald] asked.
‘They were greatly alarmed because they thought Amin might be a CIA agent. And Brzezinski was actively promoting an aggressive covert anti-Soviet Afghan policy without the State Department’s knowing much about it. So it was extremely dangerous,’ Harrison added. Harrison’s analysis confirmed our suspicion. The issue with Afghanistan didn’t originate in Moscow; it originated in Washington and was likely triggered by Brzezinski.”
The forensic evidence at the scene of the Dubs killing, the post-mortem in Washington, and the subsequent witness and file records, are carefully re-examined. According to Fitzgerald and Gould, the evidence of Soviet involvement on which Brzezinski, Carter and the entire US press corps fastened was entirely fabricated. Fitzgerald and Gould present the evidence for an elaborate heroin-related plot by Amin, his police and security men, and some of his regional tribal allies, with knowledge of the US chief anti-narcotics agent in Kabul, Harold (Doug) Wankel. The Afghan policeman whom they believe shot Dubs with his pistol is dead. Wankel is still alive.
Left: Harold (Doug) Wankel, Former Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Former Chief of Intelligence, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Former Director, Kabul Counter Narcotics Office of US Embassy Kabul (2004-2007). Right: Ambassador Adolph (Spike) Dubs. Warren Marik, the CIA agent on the scene with Wankel according to the new book, has not been photographed in public. Marik has put his experience at assassination on the record.
The US officials involved in one part or another of the plot to open the Afghan war front against the Kremlin are named in the book. They include Paul Nitze, Richard Pipes, Richard Perle, Theodore Eliot, George Griffin, Warren Marik. Also named, as the plot thickened, are British and French intelligence officials of the time.
Fitzgerald and Gould also document their direct experience of lying, concealment, film and print faking, and US government propaganda operations by the leading US reporters of the time.
The CBS Propaganda Team
Left to right: Peter Larkin CBS producer supervising Fitzgerald’s 1981 trip to Kabul. Now dead, Larkin’s obituary includes this note of his professional pride: “A proud moment was while in conversation with Air France attendants, they mistook Peter for a native-born Frenchman”. Centre: CBS correspondent and presenter, Dan Rather in his “Gunga Din” costume as an Afghan freedom fighter. Right: Mike Wallace, CBS Sixty Minutes presenter and Russia lie fabricator.
The New York Times Propaganda Team
Left to right: Leslie Gelb; Tad Szulc; Robert Trumbull, author of the first New York Times story blaming the Soviets for Dubs’ death, February 1979.
Three-quarters of the way through the book, from page 167, Fitzgerald and Gould introduce a source identifying himself as Desmond Fitzmaurice, a dealer in antiquities whom Fitzgerald says he met on the terrace of the Kabul Hotel in May 1983. This talkative Anglo-Irishman appears to be suffering from a condition that has infected the Irish people and those who listen to them for centuries – its clinical name is blarney. “I had arrived at a place…where I could no longer discern whether I was awake or in a dream”, Fitzgerald acknowledges at page 169. Readers valuing the achievement of the book should follow him that far – but needn’t go further.
The independent proof of the book, and of what Harrison kept off the record almost forty years ago, can be found in two places. The first is likely never to be opened; that’s Carter’s memory and his personal papers.
President Vladimir Putin meeting Afghan war veterans at the Kremlin, February 19, 2004; General Boris Gromov, who headed the withdrawal, is 3rd from right. The withdrawal anniversary was also publicly celebrated by Putin in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
The second is in the archives of the KGB, the Soviet military intelligence agency and General Staff, and the Soviet Foreign Ministry. For the time being, they have not been released or reported in Russia, although in his regular celebrations of the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan on February 15, 1989, President Vladimir Putin has identified the Army’s performance of “their duty and upheld the interests of the Fatherland, demonstrating supreme professionalism, unparalleled courage and strength of mind.”
The Brzezinski-Carter plot, including the truth of Dubs’s death, will continue to succeed if the disclosure of the Russian records is not believed – because they are Russian. The plot will fail again for that reason, as it just did.
NOTE: For more on the evil that was Brzezinski, read THE COMPLETE DANCES WITH BEARS COMIC BOOK – out this month. Carter and his fabricated smile make a cameo appearance.