The CIA in Afghanistan

by Joe Stork
published in MER141

President Reagan’s campaign to fund the Nicaraguan contras has distracted public attention from the much larger covert war operation in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan funding is currently at least $275 million per year but it may be double that—the exact sums are discreetly hidden as “other procurement” lines in military appropriations bills. The absence of Congressional controversy over the US role in Afghanistan has kept the sum secret. “As the Nicaraguan operation became the bad war,” said one administration official, “the one in Afghanistan became the good war.”

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Moscow's Kabul Campaign

by Jonathan Steele
published in MER141

Six years after they invaded Afghanistan and were condemned by virtually the entire international community, Soviet troops with their Afghan government allies have slowly begun to win the war.

Most of the reports received in the West over the last six years have come from journalists travelling with the rebels or from Western embassies in Kabul. It has been a mixed picture of heroism and incompetence, determination and disunity, courage and corruption, but the general tone has usually been upbeat. The mujahidin, it is argued, have right on their side and will ultimately prevail, even though no one knows what kind of government—reactionary, progressive, or Islamic fundamentalist—they would put in place.

Prospects for the Gulf

by Joe Stork
published in MER132

All of the small Arab states of the Persian Gulf are now well into their second decade as independent political entities. Bahrain, Qatar and the seven principalities making up the United Arab Emirates became independent in 1971. Kuwait’s independence goes back another decade. Oman, though never a colony, traces its present regime to the British-induced palace coup of 1970. Whether because of or in spite of the startling explosion of wealth in the 1970s, because of or in spite of the fall of the shah and the war between Iran and Iraq, they have survived as states and their regimes have displayed unanticipated continuity. The turbulence of the 1970s roared around them, as around the eye of a storm.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER132

Ten years ago this April, the United States finally ended its military intervention in Vietnam. This marked a great victory for the Vietnamese national liberation movement and for the broad popular opposition movement in the US and around the world. MERIP’s own beginnings came out of that movement, and we noted that the sudden burst of media attention, after years of amnesia, reviewed those bloody years of intervention in Indochina exclusively in terms of what they meant to Americans. No Vietnamese was invited to reflect on the consequences of the war and its ending. Our friend David Truong worked long and hard in this country to bring the war to an end, and after April 1975 he was among the most tireless advocates of American and Vietnamese reconciliation.

True Democrats Don't Bankroll Juntas

by Joshua Stacher | published July 12, 2013

The military’s coup in Egypt has placed the American political establishment in a bind. Many observers insist that the Obama administration must either formally condone the military takeover or call it a “coup,” which would require a cutoff of American aid, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has advocated.

Nuclear Shadow Over the Middle East

by Joe Stork
published in MER143

In the summer of 1984, Newsweek published the results of a Gallup poll of hundreds of top-ranking American military officers. Among the questions was this: where did they see the greatest threat of a conflict situation which might escalate to nuclear war? The majority responded clearly: the Middle East. [1]

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER143

Top Reagan aides from the National Security Council and the CIA fly secretly to Iran atop crates of missiles, Bible in one hand and cake in the other. The image aptly captures the bizarre and dangerous character of Washington’s policies in the Middle East and Central America. Two of the men on the Tehran mission -- Robert McFarlane and Oliver North -- played central roles in earlier military interventions in both regions. McFarlane was the chief strategist on the ground in Beirut in September 1983, calling in the big guns of the USS New Jersey to save the beleaguered Phalange regime of Amin Gemayel Some 241 US Marines paid for McFarlane’s swagger with their lives a month later when a Lebanese suicide attack demolished their barracks. Fellow Marine Lt.Col.

Food Aid Diversion

by Steve Askin
published in MER145

For at least six years, top officials of the Somali government diverted US food aid from the most needy to enrich their friends and to feed the army fighting a long-running border war with Ethiopia. Throughout that period, the US Agency for International Development (AID) tolerated these food diversions which violated their own aid rules. In addition to enriching corrupt officials and assisting the Somali war effort, this food fraud subverted attempts to move arid, food-shortage-ridden Somalia closer to self-sufficiency. These are the conclusions of a 1986 General Accounting Office report which charged that AID knew about the Somali abuses and did nothing to stop them.

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Ethiopia's Contras

published in MER145

In his February 1986 Message to the Congress on Foreign Policy, Ronald Reagan announced his support for “growing resistance movements now [challenging] communist regimes installed or maintained by the military power of the Soviet Union and its colonial agents -- in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.” In four of Reagan’s five regional hot spots, an avowed anti-communist contra-style force maintains a field presence against a regime allied with the Soviet Union.

Ethiopia and the Politics of Famine Relief

by Gayle Smith
published in MER145

Famine takes root when farmers lose their means of production. In Africa, drought and war have forced huge numbers of peasants to sell off their animals and tools and abandon the land on which they depend, thus bringing local economies to a standstill. Grain yields in Africa declined by one-third per hectare over the last decade; food production is down by 15 percent since 1981. One out of every five Africans now depends on food aid. Interest payments on international loans now consume $15 billion per year. The continent’s industrial base is functioning at only one-third of capacity. The incidence of famine among Africa’s rural producers has in turn brought national economies to a halt.