Part Two published on Voltairenet.org, April 6, 2011. Translation by Maxime Chaix.
This interview with Peter Dale Scott is a follow-up to the article Afghanistan: Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration, by Peter Dale Scott, Voltaire Network, 13 December 2010.
In his book The Road to 9/11, now available in French, Professor Peter Dale Scott traces back the history of the “Deep State” in the United States, that is to say the secret structure that steers defense and foreign policy behind the facade of democracy. His analysis lifts the veil on the group that organised the September 11 attacks and which finances itself through international trafficking networks. Regarded as a reference book, The Road to 9/11 already features as recommended reading at military-diplomatic academies … //
… VoltaireNet: This “War on Terror” – whose real goals are far from being openly admitted by NATO member-state governments – was initiated in Afghanistan in late 2001. There, some powerful local warlords formerly allied with the United States during the USSR-led war in Afghanistan in the 1980’s are currently appearing as major players in the “AfPak” war zone. Let’s focus on the example of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; public opinion in the countries which are part of NATO does not seem to be remotely aware of who he is. Could you remind us of who Mr. Hekmatyar is? Can you tell us to what extent he symbolizes the danger generated by U.S. foreign policies which – due to a lack of congressional oversight and public scrutiny – led to a major increase in the global drug trade (in this particular case, heroin)?
Peter Dale Scott: With few assets of its own in Afghanistan, the U.S. decided to conduct its anti-Soviet Operation Cyclone there through the resources of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In turn Pakistan, fearful of authentic Afghan nationalists’ claims on its own border territories, directed the bulk of the U.S. and Saudi assistance to two extremists with little power base inside Afghanistan – Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar, a Ghilzai Pashtun from the non-Pashtun north, was first trained in violent resistance under Pakistani guidance; and is said to have been the only Afghan leader who explicitly recognized the Durand Line defining the Afghan-Pakistan border. Both Sayyaf and Hekmatyar compensated for their lack of indigenous support by cultivating and exporting opiates in the 1980s, again with ISI support. For the same reason both men worked with the foreign mujahideen – the antecedents of what is now called Al Qaeda – who flocked to Afghanistan in this period; and Hekmatyar in particular is said to have developed a close relationship with Osama bin Laden. This influx of Wahhabi and Deobandi fundamentalists weakened Afghanistan’s traditional Sufi-dominated version of Islam.
In the course of the anti-Soviet campaign Hekmatyar’s forces murdered supporters of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the chief threat to Hekmatyar’s ISI-backed plans to dominate post-Soviet Afghanistan. After the Soviet withdrawal the CIA (against State Department advice) also used Hekmatyar as an instrument to block a government of national reconciliation, leading to a civil war in the 1990s which killed thousands of people. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Hekmatyar has led his own faction fighting for U.S. withdrawal; but allegedly he is more open than the Taliban to joining a Karzai-led coalition government. Senior defense officials in Washington, such as Michael Vickers, still refer to Operation Cyclone as the “most successful covert action” in CIA history. It seems not to concern them that the CIA’s program helped generate and unleash Al Qaeda – the new post-Soviet rationale for defense budgets – and Afghanistan’s current role as the world’s major source for heroin and hashish.
VoltaireNet: In conclusion, given the disastrous financial, economic, political, social crisis and even the moral situation in the United States as in many parts of the world, are you still confident in the future? Do you see some encouraging signs towards a greater influence of what you call in your book the “Prevailable will of the people” in the political decision-making process – a process which is more oligarchic than ever?
Peter Dale Scott: It is said that we should view every crisis as an opportunity. Certainly America’s crisis, which is also the world’s, ought to be the occasion for far-reaching reforms of the market capitalist processes that have created such huge gaps between the very rich and the very poor. Unfortunately these processes have also made traditional politics and modes of mobilization even more ineffective than they were before.
I argue in The Road to 9/11 that major social change is possible when oppression leads to the formation of a united public opinion – or what I called a prevailable will of the people – to oppose it. I pointed to examples such as the civil rights movement in the American south, or the Polish movement Solidarity. Technological developments such as the Internet have made it easier than before for people to unite, both nationally and internationally. But technology has also refined instruments of top-down surveillance and repression, making successful activist mobilization more difficult than before. So the future is very uncertain; one can say only that the present global system is more unstable than it has been, and that some kind of showdown is likely to change it.
I do believe however that this is a very exciting time in which to live. Young people should continue as they have been to join the movements for social change, and to create new venues for global exchange. And above all, there is no excuse for despair.
VoltaireNet: Thank you very much, Professor Scott, for these enlightening answers. We rejoice over the release of the first translation in French of The Road to 9/11, one of your most important works, and we congratulate you for its appraisal by a French retired high-ranking general. We wish your critically-acclaimed latest effort, The American War Machine, the attention and respect it deserves from the general public. (full long interview text).