The CIA and the Gulf War
by John Stockwell
A speech delivered on 1991-02-20 at the
Louden Nelson Community Center, Santa Cruz, California
But first, how many people have read ..... The last time I was here, I asked you to ..... How many people actually read Howard Zinn's bookA People's History of the United States? ..... That's better! Everybody else: Tomorrow, call in sick. Don't go to class. Read this book! Quite simply, you will never understand the U.S. System as completely until you read it. And once you read it, you will be able to understand what's happening, broadly, for the rest of your life. It's extremely well-written, extremely well- documented, tremendously moving, with quotes on every page: every phase of our history, as viewed, not from the interests of the country and big business — as our high school textbooks are and as our college textbooks are — but from the viewpoint of the people who died in the wars, who fought in the wars, who paid for the wars, and who profited from the wars, of course.
This war we're going to talk about tonight is called the "Persian Gulf War" — the "SuperBowl War" — the "Made-for-Television War" — the "Pentagon-Edited War" — the "Women-Have-a-Right-to-Kill,-Die- and-Be-Captured-Too War" — "the Censored War" — the "Saddam Hussein-is-So-Evil-We-Have-to-Do-It War" — and the "I've-Got-to-Support-Our-Troops-Right-or-Wrong War".
Now this thing was thoroughly prepared for six months, overtly, by the United States Government, the Pentagon, and the Media — CNN [Cable News Network] getting into it many weeks ago with heavy coverage. We covered it so thoroughly that on January 14th ..... and I've been writing screenplays and things, trying to make a living, with CNN on ..... On the 14th, waiting for the kick-off, they had an Emory University professor on who gave us advice on how to play Wall Street to profit from the war before it happened. His advice is very simple — in case you're sitting on a bundle of money and you don't want to give it to the Christic Institute or to me — He said: "Jump now." That was on the 14th. He said: "Don't wait a few days because then, other people will be jumping. Go in right now!" And then, he said: "The U.S. dollar will go up temporarily, so buy Japanese yen. Wait `til it goes up, then buy Japanese yen because by the end of the year the dollar will be back down and the yen will have doubled in value again and you can make a bundle on that.
Every obscene coverage that we could possibly do!
And then the whole world waited, on the 15th and 16th, for the kickoff of this great modern war. Now, some people waited, or had been waiting, longer than others. I found myself in the position (albeit a country boy from Texas who grew up in Africa; but you know) reading books and having seen a little bit of this stuff from the National Security Council level, I had been able to predict, nine months ahead of time, that the U.S. would invade Panama. And this was not a shot in the dark. This was an analysis of the United States and George Bush — for whom I worked, at the end of the "Angola Secret War", where I was the task force commander for a subcommittee of the National Security Council, and he was the CIA Director responsible for fending off the Congress.
Now at the same time, through these years, people like Harry Summers, a colonel, teaching at the War College, writing his book on strategy, analyzing the Vietnam War for the failures of the Vietnam War, not apologetic, not that it was a wrong war. Not at all! He was saying that what we'd done wrong was we had failed to orchestrate the war and to organize and motivate the American People to support it; and that it went on too long, and we didn't win, and we didn't go in decisively enough with a major military strike. The Military has always maintained that if they could have gone in, all out, they would have won in Vietnam very efficiently, and that they were hamstrung by the politicians, and were prevented from fighting a good war. Dean Rusk, when he came out of office and retired, he said that the next war cannot be fought in the eye of the television camera with the Public second-guessing the generals as they're making decisions on the battlefields.
Now, you'll notice the interesting thing about that is, One: that he was wrong. He didn't understand that they could so captivate the nation that they could fight the war in the eye of the television camera. But it was a censored television camera, with the media playing along in the censorship. But perhaps the most significant thing about his statement was the fact that he was absolutely, blithely confident that there would BE another war.
Most of us were presuming that, because of the trauma of the Vietnam War, we had learned that these things are not cool, that they don't work, that we should never do them again. They maintained — the Military — that if the United States had gone in massively in Vietnam, with nukes, if they had to, and won in a few months time, the American People would have supported it, and there would have been no trauma. General Gavlett[sp], in the South Command in Panama, when they were trying to invade Nicaragua, he was saying: "The American People love a good bash, but you've got to get it over with in about six weeks time or it'll go sour on you. You can't afford to have the war still going on while the body bags start coming home."
Now since then, as part of this preparation for this war, this enormously successful preparation for this war — leading the nation into war and restoring the Military Complex — they've been preparing for greater control of our society. Now this is where it gets a little creepy:
They've been laying down a series of laws. I don't have time in the lecture to go through them, but as a matter of fact, I do list all of them that I was aware of in one chapter of this book that's coming out now [The Praetorian Guard: The U.S. Role in the New World Order.] — the National Security laws, which work to give them control of the Press, control of passports; they can stop Jane Fondas and Seymour Hershes from traveling and reporting from places like Hanoi, or My Lai scandals, and such.
You've got to understand that the United States is and has always been a war-loving nation, a warring nation. But one with a smile. We've learned how to put a twist on it so we can feel good about doing what other nations have done that we consider to be evil.
This is part of my analysis. And the CIA, in our training ..... when we were novices, people from the analytical side came to talk to us and they said:
"If you're trying to figure out what a nation is going to do, you don't take the circumstances on the table in front of you and say, the logical thing is that they'll do this. What you do is you look at the history of the country, its cycles of war or whatever. If it's a country that's gone to war frequently in its past, you expect it to go to war again. If it's a country that never goes to war, you expect it to find a peaceful solution."
And with that analysis, about ten years ago (although most of my growth, intellectually, has been since then) I began to just sit down and doodle how many wars the United States has been into. And I noticed there are a whole bunch of them. We've done a lot of this thing. A very warring nation! [War is] very deep in our history. Fifteen wars, as I count them. And this gets semantical. They didn't call Korea a war. They tried not to call Vietnam a war. But [the United States'] major military actions: I count about fifteen, give or take two, if you want to call them minor, but nevertheless, let's say fifteen wars. We've spent fifty years or so at war. We've had two hundred-plus military actions, about once a year, in which we put our troops into other countries to force them to our will. The longest period between wars was between World War I and World War II. The second longest period was between the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.
Now, during the first period, the longest period, we put 12,000 troops with an Allied Force to invade Russia and we put our Marines repeatedly into Latin and Central American countries, again, to force them to our will. And then, of course, we've had low-intensity conflicts, almost uncountable — hundreds and hundreds of them, in between, for example, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War.
As you begin to read these things (and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is extremely good on following this kind of detail to really give you the punch lines of how the leadership orchestrated the nation into other wars) in each war there was a trigger. If you look at page 290 of that book, [Pres.] Harry Truman wrote a friend, quote:
"In strict confidence, I should welcome almost any war, for I think the country needs one."