Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began working together in 1979 co-producing a documentary for Paul's television show, Watchworks. Called, The Arms Race and the Economy, A Delicate Balance , they found themselves in the midst of a swirling controversy that was to boil over a few months later with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Their acquisition of the first visas to enter Afghanistan granted to an American TV crew in 1981 brought them into the middle of the most heated Cold War controversy since Vietnam. But the pictures and the people inside Soviet occupied Afghanistan told a very different story from the one being broadcast to Americans.

Following their exclusive news story for the CBS Evening News, they produced a documentary (Afghanistan Between Three Worlds ) for PBS and in 1983 they returned to Kabul for ABC Nightline with Harvard Negotiation Project director, Roger Fisher. They were told that the Soviets wanted to go home and negotiate their way out. Peace in Afghanistan was more than a possibility, it was a desired option. But the story that President Carter called, "the greatest threat to peace since the second World War" had already been written by America's policy makers and America's pundits were not about to change the script.

As the first American journalists to get deeply inside the story they not only got a view of an unseen Afghan life, but a revelatory look at how the U.S. defined itself against the rest of the world under the veil of superpower confrontation. Once the Soviets had crossed the border into Afghanistan, the fate of both nations was sealed. But as Paul and Liz pursued the reasons behind the wall of propaganda that shielded the truth, they found themselves drawn into a story that was growing into mythic dimensions. Big things were brewing in Afghanistan. Old empires were being undone and new ones, hatched. America had launched a Crusade and the ten year war against the Soviet Union was only the first chapter.

It was at the time of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 when Paul and Liz were working on the film version of their experience under contract to Oliver Stone, that they began to piece together the mythic implications of the story. During the research for the screenplay many of the documents preceding the Afghan crisis were declassified. Over the next decade they trailed a labyrinth of clues only to find a profound likeness in Washington's official policy towards Afghanistan - in the ancient Zoroastrian war of the light against the dark - whose origins began in the region now known as Afghanistan. It is a likeness that has grown visible as America's entanglement in Afghanistan threatens to backfire once again.

Afghanistan's civil war followed America's Cold War while Washington walked away. A new strain of religious holy warrior called the Taliban arose but at the time few in America cared to look. As the horrors of the Taliban regime began to grab headlines in 1998 Paul and Liz started collaborating with Afghan human rights expert Sima Wali. Along with Wali, they contributed to the Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future book project published by Palgrave Macmillan (2002). In 2002 they filmed Wali's first return to Kabul since her exile in 1978. The film they produced about Wali's journey home, The Woman in Exile Returns, gives audiences the chance to discover the message of one of Afghanistan's most articulate voices and her hopes for her people.

In the years since, much has happened to bring Paul and Liz's story into sharp focus. Their efforts at combining personal diplomacy with activist journalism are a model for restoring a necessary dialogue to American democracy. Their book, Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, published by City Lights (2009), lays bare why it was inevitable that the Soviet Union and the U.S. should end up in Afghanistan and what that means to the future of the American empire. Their book,
Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire
, published by City Lights (2011), lays out the paralyzing contradictions of America’s AfPak strategy. It clarifies the complex web of interests and individuals surrounding the war and focuses on the little understood importance of the line of demarcation between Afghanistan and Pakistan called the Durand line. Their novel The Voice is the esoteric side of their Afghan experience. Gould and Fitzgerald’s articles and blogs have been published in numerous online and print journals and newspapers such as The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, Huffington Post, The New York Times, GlobalPost World News, Middle East Institute’s Viewpoints, CounterPunch, Sputnik News and OpEdNews. They have been interviewed by major media outlets such as MSNBC, RealNews TV, Democracy Now and numerous commercial and PBS radio stations from Boston to LA. They have also made presentations that have aired across the country on C-Span Book TV and the Cambridge Forum (WGBH Forum Network). Their presentation-Afghanistan and Mystical Imperialism: An expose of the esoteric underpinnings of American foreign policy is viewable here. For more information visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk.


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Abandon hope all ye who enter here – Dante’s Divine Comedy (Part I)

By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould 

Dante reads the words “All hope abandon ye who enter here” on Inferno’s entrance

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate – Before the Tomahawk Missiles start flying between Moscow and New York, Americans had better educate themselves fast about the forces and the people who claim that Russia covered up a Syrian government gas attack on its own people.

Proof no longer seems to matter in the rush to further transform the world into Dante’s vision of Hell. Accusations made by anonymous sources, spurious sources and outright frauds have become enough. Washington’s paranoia and confusion bear an uncanny resemblance to the final days of the Third Reich, when the leadership in Berlin became completely unglued.

Tensions have been building since fall with accusations that Russian media interfered with our presidential election and is a growing threat to America’s national security. The latest WikiLeaks release strongly suggested that it was the CIA’s own contract hackers behind Hillary Clinton’s email leaks and not Russians.

The U.S. has a long reputation of accusing others of things they didn’t do and planting fake news stories to back it up in order to provide a cause for war. The work of secret counter intelligence services is to misinform the public in order to shape opinion and that’s what this is. The current U.S. government campaign to slander Russia over anything and everything it does bears all the earmarks of a classic disinformation campaign but this time even crazier. Considering that Washington has put Russia, China and Iran on its anti-globalist hit-list from which no one is allowed to escape, drummed up charges against them shouldn’t come as a surprise. But accusing the Russians of undermining American democracy and interfering in an election is tantamount to an act of war and that simply is not going to wash.

This time the United States is not demonizing an ideological enemy (USSR) or a religious one (al Qaeda, ISIS, Daesh etc.). It’s making this latest venture into the blackest of propaganda a race war, the way the Nazis made their invasion of Russia a race war in 1941 and that is not a war the United States can justify or win.

The level and shrillness of the latest disinformation campaign has been growing for some time. But the American public has lived in a culture of fake news (formerly known as propaganda) for so long many have grown to accept fake news as real news. George Orwell saw this coming and here it is. As a big supporter of U.S. military intervention in Cuba and avowed practitioner of “yellow journalism”, in 1897 William Randolph Hearst admonished the illustrator he’d sent to Cuba who’d found no war to illustrate; “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” Hearst eventually got his war and America’s experiment in imperialism was off and running.

Americans should know by now that their country’s wars are fertile ground for biased, one-sided, xenophobic, fake news and the United States has been in a permanent state of war since 1941. Although the targets have shifted over the years, the purpose of the propaganda hasn’t. Most cultures are coerced, cajoled or simply threatened into accepting known falsehoods demonizing their enemies during wartime but no matter how frequently repeated or cleverly told—no lie can hold if the war never ends.

The legendary Cold Warrior, Time and Life Magazine’s Henry Luce considered his personal fight against Communism to be “a declaration of private war.” He’d even asked one of his executives whether or not the idea was probably “unlawful and probably mad?” Nonetheless, despite his doubts about his own sanity, Luce allowed the CIA to use his Time/Life as a cover for the agency’s operations and to provide credentials to CIA personnel.

Luce was not alone in his service to the CIA’s propaganda wars. Recently declassified documents reveal the CIA’s propaganda extended to all the mainstream media outlets. Dozens of the most respected journalists and opinion makers during the Cold War considered it a privilege to keep American public opinion from straying away from CIA control.

Now that the new Cold War has turned hot, we are led to believe that the Russians have breached this wall of not-so-truthful journalists and rattled the foundation of everything we are supposed to hold dear about the purity of the U.S. election process and “freedom of the press” in America.

Black propaganda is all about lying. Authoritarian governments lie regularly. Totalitarian governments do it so often nobody believes them. A government based on democratic principles like the United States is supposed to speak the truth, but when the U.S. government’s own documents reveal it has been lying over and over again for decades, the jig is up.

Empires have been down this road before and it doesn’t end well. Americans are now being told they should consider all Russian opinion as fake and ignore any information that challenges the mainstream media and U.S. government on what is truth and what is the lie. But for the first time in memory Americans have become aware that the people Secretary of State Colin Powell once called “the crazies”, have taken the country over the cliff.

The neoconservative hitmen and hit-ladies of Washington have a long list of targets that pass from generation to generation. Their influence on American government has been catastrophic yet it never seems to end. Senator J. William Fulbright identified their irrational system for making endless war in Vietnam 45 years ago in a New Yorker article titled Reflections in Thrall to Fear.

“The truly remarkable thing about this Cold War psychology is the totally illogical transfer of the burden of proof from those who make charges to those who question them… The Cold Warriors, instead of having to say how they knew that Vietnam was part of a plan for the Communization of the world, so manipulated the terms of the public discussion as to be able to demand that the skeptics prove that it was not. If the skeptics could not then the war must go on—to end it would be recklessly risking the national security.”

Fulbright realized that Washington’s resident crazies had turned the world inside out by concluding, “We come to the ultimate illogic: war is the course of prudence and sobriety until the case for peace is proved under impossible rules of evidence [or never]–or until the enemy surrenders. Rational men cannot deal with each other on this basis.” But these were not rational men and their need to further their irrational quest only increased with the loss of the Vietnam War.

Having long forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and after a tragic repeat in Iraq that the highly respected General William Odom considered “equivalent to the Germans at Stalingrad,”  the crazies are at it again. With no one to stop them, they have kicked off an updated version of the Cold War against Russia as if nothing had changed since the last one ended in 1992. The original Cold War was immensely expensive to the United States and was conducted at the height of America’s military and financial power. The United States is no longer that country. Since it was supposedly about the ideological “threat” of Communism, Americans need to ask before it’s too late exactly what kind of threat does a Capitalist/Christian Russia pose to the leader of the “Free World” this time?

Muddying the waters in a way not seen since Senator Joe McCarthy and the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act”  signed into law without fanfare by Obama in December 2016 officially authorizes a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell’s fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel 1984. Referred to as “The Global Engagement Center,” the official purpose of the new bureaucracy will be to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

But the real purpose of this totally Orwellian Center will be to manage, eliminate or censor any dissenting views that challenge Washington’s newly manufactured version of the truth and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. Criminalizing dissent is nothing new in time of war, but after 16 years of ceaseless warfare in Afghanistan, a Stalingrad–like defeat in Iraq and with Henry Kissinger advising President Trump on foreign policy, the Global Engagement Center has already assumed the characteristics of a dangerous farce.

The brilliant American satirical songwriter of the 1950s and 60s Tom Lehrer once attributed his early retirement to Henry Kissinger, saying “Political satire became obsolete [in 1973] when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Kissinger’s duplicitous attempts at securing an “honorable peace” in America’s war in Vietnam deserved at least ridicule. His long, drawn out negotiations extended the war for four years at the cost of 22,000 American lives and countless Vietnamese.

According to University of California researcher Larry Berman, author of 2001’s No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam, the Paris peace accords negotiated by Kissinger were never even expected to work, but were only to serve as a justification for a brutal and permanent air war once they were violated. Berman writes, “Nixon recognized that winning the peace, like the war would be impossible to achieve, but he planned for indefinite stalemate by using the B 52s to prop up the government of South Vietnam until the end of his presidency… but Watergate derailed the plan.”

The Vietnam War had broken the eastern establishment’s hold over foreign policy long before Nixon and Kissinger’s entry onto the scene. Détente with the Soviet Union had come about during the Johnson administration in an effort to bring some order out of the chaos and Kissinger had carried it through Nixon and Ford. But while dampening one crisis, détente created an even worse one by breaking open the longstanding internal-deep-state-struggle for control of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union.

Vietnam represented more than just a strategic defeat; it represented a conceptual failure in the half-century battle to contain Soviet-style Communism. The Pentagon Papers revealed the extent of the U.S. government’s deceit and incompetence but rather than concede that defeat and chart a new course, its proponents fought back with a Machiavellian ideological campaign known as the experiment in competitive analysis or for short; Team B.

Writing  in the Los Angeles Times in August 2004 in an article titled  It’s Time to Bench “Team B”, Lawrence J. Korb, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985 came forward on what he knew to be the real tragedy represented by 9/11. “The reports of the Sept. 11 commission and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence missed the real problem facing the intelligence community, which is not organization or culture but something known as the “Team B” concept. And the real villains are the hard-liners who created the concept out of an unwillingness to accept the unbiased and balanced judgments of intelligence professionals.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Join us for Part II when we trace the origins of the Team B’s hardliners back to their roots in the Fourth International, the Trotskyist branch of the Communist International and the Machiavellian culture of James Burnham as his present-day disciples threaten to ignite a Third World War.

Copyright © 2017   Fitzgerald & Gould   All rights reserved

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire and The Voice.    Visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk.

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Posted by on April 18, 2017, With 2241 Reads Filed under Of Interest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to "Abandon hope all ye who enter here – Dante’s Divine Comedy (Part I)"

  1. nawlins  April 19, 2017 at 6:30 am

    How do you PERSUADE a madman? Isn’t that a contradiction of terms? These people cannot be stopped short of lethal force, and they are so ingrained that they cannot be purged without destroying the planet. That is the way it was planned all along. You do realize what the term MADMAN means?

    • davor  April 19, 2017 at 9:41 am

      What worked for the notorious Komintern, could work as well for the notorious FBI. In essence they are no different both are/were ideologically blinded. The Russians have awaken from this false dogmatic slump while noone expected it, why couldn’t the Americans as well?

  2. davor  April 19, 2017 at 5:29 am

    This is why I support the Solidarnosc 2.0 that should aim to peacefully dismantle NATO, just like it did with USSR. To persuade the madmen in western governments and western clergy that the 21st century path they have taken on is a suicidal one, and for what? Trading dogmas for pipelines?. After all Solidarnosc was the finest thing that CIA ever achieved (we all need more of that and less bullshit, CIA was a heroic institution for it and now is a bunch of vampire lunatics if you ask a child about it in the street), it was so great that even the weapons dealers and traders that covered the Eastern bloc had troubles explaining and coming to terms with “peaceful resolving” of an ideological conflict. It was so great that it threatened the war industry. Something had to be done about it and former Yugoslavia seemed like a great place to do it. Only thing US needs to find someone brave like Gorbachov in office. Not a traitor nor anti-US, just someone who is an average patriot and intelligent and can witness the turnings of times. Continuing with NATO is madness, a sure lose-lose situation, politically and ideologically.

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