Michel ChossudovskyGlobal Research
Aug 5, 2010
Humanity is at a dangerous crossroads. War preparations to attack Iran are in “an advanced state of readiness”. Hi tech weapons systems including nuclear warheads are fully deployed.
This military adventure has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s. First Iraq, then Iran according to a declassified 1995 US Central Command document.
Escalation is part of the military agenda. While Iran, is the next target together with Syria and Lebanon, this strategic military deployment also threatens North Korea, China and Russia.
Since 2005, the US and its allies, including America’s NATO partners and Israel, have been involved in the extensive deployment and stockpiling of advanced weapons systems. The air defense systems of the US, NATO member countries and Israel are fully integrated.
This is a coordinated endeavor of the Pentagon, NATO, Israel’s Defense Force (IDF), with the active military involvement of several non-NATO partner countries including the frontline Arab states (members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia?, Singapore, Australia, among others. (NATO consists of 28 NATO member states Another 21 countries are members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), The Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative include ten Arab countries plus Israel.)
The roles of Egypt, the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia (within the extended military alliance) is of particular relevance. Egypt controls the transit of war ships and oil tankers through the Suez Canal. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States occupy the South Western coastlines of the Persian Gulf, the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. In early June, “Egypt reportedly allowed one Israeli and eleven U.S. ships to pass through the Suez Canal in ….an apparent signal to Iran. … On June 12, regional press outlets reported that the Saudis had granted Israel the right to fly over its airspace…” (Muriel Mirak Weissbach, Israel’s Insane War on Iran Must Be Prevented., Global Research, July 31, 2010)
In post 9/11 military doctrine, this massive deployment of military hardware has been defined as part of the so-called “Global War on Terrorism”, targeting “non-State” terrorist organizations including al Qaeda and so-called “State sponsors of terrorism”,. including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan.
The setting up of new US military bases, the stockpiling of advanced weapons systems including tactical nuclear weapons, etc. were implemented as part of the pre-emptive defensive military doctrine under the umbrella of the “Global War on Terrorism”.
War and the Economic Crisis
The broader implications of a US-NATO Israel attack on Iran are far-reaching. The war and the economic crisis are intimately related. The war economy is financed by Wall Street, which stands as the creditor of the US administration. The US weapons producers are the recipients of the US Department of Defense multibillion dollar procurement contracts for advanced weapons systems. In turn, “the battle for oil” in the Middle East and Central Asia directly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil giants.
The US and its allies are “beating the drums of war” at the height of a Worldwide economic depression, not to mention the most serious environmental catastrophe in World history. In a bitter twist, one of the major players (BP) on the Middle East Central Asia geopolitical chessboard, formerly known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, is the instigator of the ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Public opinion, swayed by media hype is tacitly supportive, indifferent or ignorant as to the likely impacts of what is upheld as an ad hoc “punitive” operation directed against Iran’s nuclear facilities rather than an all out war. War preparations include the deployment of US and Israeli produced nuclear weapons. In this context, the devastating consequences of a nuclear war are either trivialized or simply not mentioned.
The “real crisis” threatening humanity, according to the media and the governments, is not war but global warming. The media will fabricate a crisis where there is no crisis: ”a global scare” — the H1N1 global pandemic– but nobody seems to fear a US sponsored nuclear war.
The war on Iran is presented to public opinion as an issue among others. It is not viewed as a threat to “Mother Earth” as in the case of global warming. It is not front-page news. The fact that an attack on Iran could lead to escalation and potentially unleash a “global war” is not a matter of concern.
The Cult of Killing and Destruction
The global killing machine is also sustained by an imbedded cult of killing and destruction which pervades Hollywood movies, not to mention the prime time war and crime TV series on network television. This cult of killing is endorsed by the CIA and the Pentagon which also support (finance) Hollywood productions as an instrument of war propaganda:
“Ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, “There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood” and revealed that former CIA director George Tenet is currently, “out in Hollywood, talking to studios.” (Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham, Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood, Global Research, January 31, 2009).
The killing machine is deployed at a global level, within the framework of the unified combat command structure. It is routinely upheld by the institutions of government, the corporate media and the mandarins and intellectuals of the New World Order in Washington’s think tanks and strategic studies research institutes, as an unquestioned instrument of peace and global prosperity.
A culture of killing and violence has become imbedded in human consciousness.
War is broadly accepted as part of a societal process: The Homeland needs to be “defended” and protected.
“Legitimized violence” and extrajudicial killings directed against “terrorists” are upheld in western democracies, as necessary instruments of national security.
A “humanitarian war” is upheld by the so-called international community. It is not condemned as a criminal act. Its main architects are rewarded for their contributions to world peace.
With regard to Iran, what is unfolding is the outright legitimization of war in the name of an illusive notion of global security.
A “Pre-emptive” Aerial attack directed against Iran would lead to Escalation
At present there are three separate Middle East Central Asia war theaters: Iraq, Af-Pak, and Palestine.
Were Iran to be the object of a “pre-emptive” aerial attack by allied forces, the entire region, from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier with Afghanistan and Pakistan, would flare up, leading us potentially into a World War III scenario.
The war would also extend into Lebanon and Syria.
It is highly unlikely that the bombings, if they were to be implemented, would be circumscribed to Iran’s nuclear facilities as claimed by US-NATO official statements. What is more probable is an all out air attack on both military and civilian infrastructure, transport systems, factories, public buildings.
Iran, with an an estimated ten percent of global oil and gas reserves, ranks third after Saudi Arabia (25 %) and Iraq (11 %) in the size of its reserves.
In comparison, the US possesses less than 2.8 % of global oil reserves. The oil reserves of the U.S. are estimated at less than 20 billion barrels. The broader region of the Middle East and Central Asia have oil reserves which are more than thirty times those of the U.S, representing more than 60% of the World’s total reserves. (See Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, Global Research, December 2004).
Of significance is the recent discovery in Iran of the second largest known reserves of natural gas at Soumar and Halgan estimated at 12.4 trillion cubic feet.
Targeting Iran consists not only in reclaiming Anglo-American control over Iran’s oil and gas economy, including pipeline routes, it also challenges the presence and influence of China and Russia in the region.
The planned attack on Iran is part of a coordinated global military road map. It is part of the Pentagon’s “long war”, a profit driven war without borders, a project of World domination, a sequence of military operations. US-NATO military planners have envisaged various scenarios of military escalation.
They are also acutely aware of the geopolitical implications, namely that the war could extend beyond the Middle East Central Asia region. The economic impacts on the oil markets, etc. have also been analyzed.
While Iran, Syria and Lebanon are the immediate targets, China, Russia, North Korea, not to mention Venezuela and Cuba are also the object of US threats.
At stake is the structure of military alliances. US-NATO-Israel military deployments including military exercises and drills conducted on Russia and China’s immediate borders bear a direct relationship to the proposed war on Iran. These veiled threats, including their timing, constitute an obvious hint to the former powers of the Cold War era not to intervene in any way which could encroach upon a US-led attack on Iran.
The medium term strategic objective is to target Iran and neutralize Iran’s allies, through gunboat diplomacy. The longer term military objective is to directly target China and Russia.
While Iran is the immediate target, military deployment is by no means limited to the Middle East and Central Asia. A global military agenda has been formulated.
The deployment of coalition troops and advanced weapons systems by the US, NATO and its partners is occurring simultaneously in all major regions of the World.
The recent actions of the US military off the coast of North Korea including the conduct of war games are part of a global design.
Directed primarily against Russia and China, US, NATO and allied military exercises, war drills, weapons deployments, etc. are being conducted simultaneously in major geopolitical hotspots.
-The Korean Peninsula, the Sea of Japan, the Taiwan Straits, the South China Sea threatening China.
-The deployment of Patriot missiles in Poland, the early warning center in the Czech republic threatening Russia.
-Naval deployments in Bulgaria, Romania on the Black Sea, threatening Russia.
- US and NATO troops deployments in Georgia.
- A formidable naval deployment in the Persian Gulf including Israeli submarines directed against Iran.
Concurrently the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Caribbean, Central America and the Andean region of South America are areas of ongoing militarization. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the threats are directed against Venezuela and Cuba.
US “Military Aid”
In turn, large scale weapons transfers have been undertaken under the banner of US “military aid” to selected countries, including a 5 billion dollar arms deal with India which is intended to build India’s capabilities directed against China. (Huge U.S.-India Arms Deal To Contain China, Global Times, July 13, 2010).
“[The] arms sales will improve ties between Washington and New Delhi, and, intentionally or not, will have the effect of containing China’s influence in the region.” quoted in Rick Rozoff, Confronting both China and Russia: U.S. Risks Military Clash With China In Yellow Sea, Global Research, July 16, 2010)
The US has military cooperation agreements with a number of South East Asian countries including Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, involving “military aid” as well as the participation in U.S.-led war games in the Pacific Rim (July -August 2010). These agreements are supportive of weapons deployments directed against The People’s Republic of China. (See Rick Rozoff, Confronting both China and Russia: U.S. Risks Military Clash With China In Yellow Sea, Global Research, July 16, 2010).
Similarly and more directly related to the planned attack on Iran, the US is arming the Gulf States (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) with land-based interceptor missiles, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) as well as sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors installed on Aegis class warships in the Persian Gulf. (See Rick Rozoff, NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran, Global Research, February 10, 2010).
The Timetable of Military Stockpiling and Deployment
What is crucial in regards to US weapons transfers to partner countries and allies is the actual timing of delivery and deployment. The launch of a US sponsored military operation would normally occur once these weapons systems are in place, effectively deployed with the implementation of personnel training. (e.g India).
What we are dealing with is a carefully coordinated global military design controlled by the Pentagon, involving the combined armed forces of more than forty countries. This global multinational military deployment is by far the largest display of advanced weapons systems in World history.
In turn, the US and its allies have established new military bases in different parts of the world. “The Surface of the Earth is Structured as a Wide Battlefield”. (See Jules Dufour, The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases , Global Research, July 1, 2007).
The Unified Command structure divided up into geographic Combatant Commands is predicated on a strategy of militarization at the global level. “The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries. In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide.” (See Jules Dufour, The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases , Global Research, July 1, 2007
Source: DefenseLINK-Unified Command Plan
World War III Scenario
“The World Commanders’ Areas of Responsibility” (See Map above) defines the Pentagon’s global military design, which is one of World conquest. This military deployment is occurring in several regions simultaneously under the coordination of the regional US Commands, involving the stockpiling of US made weapons systems by US forces and partner countries, some of which are former enemies, including Vietnam and Japan.
The present context is characterised by a global military build-up controlled by one World superpower, which is using its numerous allies to trigger regional wars.
In contrast, the Second World War was a conjunction of separate regional war theaters. Given the communications technologies and weapons systems of the 1940s, there was no strategic “real time” coordination in military actions between broad geographic regions
Global warfare is based on the coordinated deployment of a single dominant military power, which oversees the actions of its allies and partners.
With the exception of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Second World War was characterized by the use of conventional weapons. The planning of a global war relies on the militarization of outer space. Were a war directed against iran to be launched, it would not only use nuclear weapons, the entire gamut of new advanced weapons systems, including electrometric weapons and environmental modification techniques (ENMOD) would be used.
The United Nations Security Council
The UN Security Council adopted in early June a fourth round of sweeping sanctions against The Islamic Republic of Iran, which included an expanded arms embargo as well “tougher financial controls”. In a bitter irony, this resolution was passed within days of the United Nations Secrity Council’s outright refusal to adopt a motion condemning Israel for its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters.
Both China and Russia, pressured by the US, have endorsed the UNSC sanctions’ regime, to their own detriment. Their decision within the UNSC contributes to weakening their own military alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation organization (SCO), in which Iran has observer status. The Security Council resolution freezes China and Russia’s respective bilateral military cooperation and trade agreements with Iran. It has serious repercussions on Iran’s air defense system which in part depends on Russian technology and expertise.
The Security Council resolution grants a de facto “green light” to wage a pre-emptive war against Iran.
The American Inquisition: Building a Political Consensus for War
In chorus, the Western media has branded Iran as a threat to global security in view of its alleged (non-existent) nuclear weapons program. Echoing official statements, the media is now demanding the implementation of punitive bombings directed against Iran so as to safeguard Israel’s security.
The Western media is beating the drums of war. The purpose is to tacitly instil, through repeated media reports, ad nauseam, within people’s inner consciousness, the notion that the Iranian threat is real and that the Islamic Republic should be “taken out”.
A consensus building process to wage war is similar to the Spanish inquisition. It requires and demands submission to the notion that war is a humanitarian endeavor.
Known and documented, the real threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel alliance, yet realities in an inquisitorial environment are turned upside down: the warmongers are committed to peace, the victims of war are presented as the protagonists of war. Whereas in 2006, almost two thirds of Americans were opposed to military action against Iran, a recent Reuter-Zogby February 2010 poll suggests that 56 % of Americans favor a US-NATO military action against Iran.
Building a political consensus which is based on an outright lie cannot, however, rely solely on the official position of those who are the source of the lie.
The antiwar movement in the US, which has in part been infiltrated and co-opted, has taken on a weak stance with regard to Iran. The antiwar movement is divided. The emphasis has been on wars which have already occurred (Afghanistan, Iraq) rather than forcefully opposing wars which are being prepared and which are currently on the Pentagon’s drawing board. Since the inauguration of the Obama administration, the antiwar movement has lost some of its impetus.
Moreover, those who actively oppose the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, do not necessarily oppose the conduct of “punitive bombings” directed Iran, nor do they categorize these bombings as an act of war, which could potentially be a prelude to World War III.
The scale of antiwar protest in relation to Iran has been minimal in comparison to the mass demonstrations which preceded the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq.
The real threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel alliance.
The Iran operation is not being opposed in the diplomatic arena by China and Russia; it has the support of the governments of the frontline Arab states which are integrated into the NATO sponsored Mediterranean dialogue. It also has the tacit support of Western public opinion.
We call upon people across the land, in America, Western Europe, Israel, Turkey and around the world to rise up against this military project, against their governments which are supportive of military action against Iran, against the media which serves to camouflage the devastating implications of a war against Iran.
The military agenda support a profit driven destructive global economic system which impoverishes large sectors of the world population.
This war is sheer madness.
World War III is terminal. Albert Einstein understood the perils of nuclear war and the extinction of life on earth, which has already started with the radioactive contamination resulting from depleted uranium. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
The media, the intellectuals, the scientists and the politicians, in chorus, obfuscate the untold truth, namely that war using nuclear warheads destroys humanity, and that this complex process of gradual destruction has already commenced.
When the lie becomes the truth there is no turning backwards.
When war is upheld as a humanitarian endeavor, Justice and the entire international legal system are turned upside down: pacifism and the antiwar movement are criminalized. Opposing the war becomes a criminal act.
The Lie must be exposed for what it is and what it does.
It sanctions the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children.
It destroys families and people. It destroys the commitment of people towards their fellow human beings.
It prevents people from expressing their solidarity for those who suffer. It upholds war and the police state as the sole avenue.
It destroys both nationalism and internationalism.
Breaking the lie means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force.
This profit driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.
Let us reverse the tide.
Challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them
Break the American inquisition.
Undermine the US-NATO-Israel military crusade.
Close down the weapons factories and the military bases.
Bring home the troops.
Members of the armed forces should disobey orders and refuse to participate in a criminal war.
Part II of this essay will be published shortly.
Preparing for World War III. Nature and History of the Planned Military Operation against Iran Includes analysis of the role if Israel
NATO Member Countries
NATO is an Alliance that consists of 28 independent member countries. Country by country, this page offers an overview of the links to national information servers and to the website of national delegations to NATO.
|Parliament, 1st Chamber|
|Senate, 2nd Chamber|
|Head of State / President|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
|Ministry/Department of Defence|
|Military / Chief of Staff|
|National Mission or Delegation to NATO|
Partner countriesNATO cooperates with a range of countries in different structures. A list of these countries with links to their national information servers.
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)The EAPC consists of all NATO Member countries and the following partner countries:
NATO's Mediterranean DialogueThe following seven countries of the Mediterranean region are currently involved:
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI)To date, the following four countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have joined:
|United Arab Emirates|
Contact countriesIn addition to its formal partnerships, NATO cooperates with a range of countries which are not part of these structures. Often referred to as “other partners across the globe” or “Contact Countries”, they share similar strategic concerns and key Alliance values.
|Republic of Korea|
|Parliament, 1st Chamber|
|Senate, 2nd Chamber|
|Head of State / President|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
|Ministry/Department of Defence|
|Military / Chief of Staff|
|National Mission or Delegation to NATO|
- Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.
- Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood
by Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham
- Here we build a prima facae case supporting the idea that Hollywood continues to be a target for infiltration and subversion by a variety of state agencies, in particular the CIA. Academic debates on cinematic propaganda are almost entirely retrospective, and whilst a number of commentators have drawn attention to Hollywood’s longstanding and open relationship with the Pentagon, little of substance has been written about the more clandestine influences working through Hollywood in the post-9/11 world. As such, our work delves into the field of what Peter Dale Scott calls "deep politics"; namely, activities which cannot currently be fully understood due to the covert influence of shadowy power players.
The Latest PictureA variety of state agencies have liaison offices in Hollywood today, from the FBI, to NASA and the Secret Service. Few of these agencies, though, have much to offer in exchange for favourable storylines, and so their influence in Hollywood is minimal. The major exception here is the Department of Defense, which has an ‘open’ but barely publicized relationship with Tinsel Town, whereby, in exchange for advice, men and invaluable equipment, such as aircraft carriers and helicopters, the Pentagon routinely demands flattering script alterations. Examples of this policy include changing the true identity of a heroic military character in Black Hawk Down (2001) due to his real-life status as a child rapist; the removal of a joke about "losing Vietnam" from the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and cutting images of Marines taking gold teeth from dead Japanese soldiers in Windtalkers (2002). Instances such as these are innumerable, and the Pentagon has granted its coveted "full cooperation" to a long list of contemporary pictures including Top Gun (1986), True Lies (1994), Executive Decision (1996), Air Force One (1997), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Transformers (2007), Iron Man (2008), as well as TV series such as JAG (1995-2005).Such government activity, whilst morally dubious and barely advertised, has at least occurred within the public domain. This much cannot be said of the CIA’s dealings with Hollywood, which, until recently, went largely unacknowledged by the Agency. In 1996, the CIA announced with little fanfare the dry remit of its newly established Media Liaison Office, headed by veteran operative Chase Brandon. As part of its new stance, the CIA would now openly collaborate on Hollywood productions, supposedly in a strictly ‘advisory’ capacity.
The Agency’s decision to work publicly with Hollywood was preceded by the 1991 "Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness," compiled by CIA Director Robert Gates’ newly appointed ‘Openness Task Force,’ which secretly debated –ironically– whether the Agency should be less secretive. The report acknowledges that the CIA "now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation," and the authors of the report note that this helped them "turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success’ stories, and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others." It goes on to reveal that the CIA has in the past "persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests…"
These admissions add weight to several reports and Congressional hearings from the 1970s which indicated that the CIA once maintained a deep-rooted and covert presence in national and international media, informally dubbed "Operation Mockingbird." In its 1991 report, the CIA acknowledged that it had, in fact, "reviewed some film scripts about the Agency, documentary and fictional, at the request of filmmakers seeking guidance on accuracy and authenticity." But the report is at pains to state that, although the CIA has "facilitated the filming of a few scenes on Agency premises," it does "not seek to play a role in filmmaking ventures." But it seems highly implausible that the CIA, whilst maintaining a decades-long presence in media and academia, would have shown no interest in the hugely influential Cinema industry.
Indeed, it should come as no surprise that the CIA has been involved in a number of recent blockbusters and TV series. The 2001 CBS TV series, The Agency, executive produced by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, Air Force One) was actually co-written by ex-CIA agent and Marine Bazzel Baz, with additional ex-CIA agents working as consultants. The CIA gladly opened its doors to the production, and facilitated both external and internal shots of its Langley headquarters as the camera gazed lovingly at the CIA seal. This arrangement was comparable to the Feds’ efforts on the popular TV series The FBI (1965-74) which was shaped by the Bureau in cooperation with ABC and which thanked J. Edgar Hoover in the credits of each episode. Similarly, The Agency glorified the actions of US spooks as they fought predictable villains including the Russian military, Arab and German terrorists, Columbian drug dealers, and Iraqis. One episode even shows the CIA saving the life of Fidel Castro; ironically, since the CIA in real life had made repeated attempts to assassinate the Cuban President. Promos for the show traded on 9/11, which had occurred just prior to its premiere, with tag lines like "Now, more than ever, we need the CIA."
A TV movie, In the Company of Spies (1999) starring Tom Berenger depicted a retired CIA operative returning to duty to save captured Agency officers held by North Korea. The CIA was so enthusiastic about this product that it hosted its presentation, cooperated during production, facilitated filming at Langley, and provided fifty off-duty officers as extras, according to its website.Espionage novelist Tom Clancy has enjoyed an especially close relationship with the CIA. In 1984, Clancy was invited to Langley after writing The Hunt for Red October, which was later turned into the 1990 film. The Agency invited him again when he was working on Patriot Games (1992), and the movie adaptation was, in turn, granted access to Langley facilities. More recently, The Sum of All Fears (2002) depicted the CIA as tracking down terrorists who detonate a nuclear weapon on US soil. For this production, CIA director George Tenet gave the filmmakers a personal tour of the Langley HQ; the film’s star, Ben Affleck also consulted with Agency analysts, and Chase Brandon served as on-set advisor.Media sources indicate that the CIA also worked on the Anthony Hopkins/Chris Rock feature Bad Company (2002) and the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster Enemy of the State (2001). However, no details whatsoever about these appear to be in the public domain. Similarly, Spy Game director Tony Scott’s DVD commentary for said film indicates that he visited Langley whilst in pre-production but, according to one report, endorsement appeared to have been withheld after Chase Brandon read the final draft of the script.
More details than usual emerged about CIA involvement in the Tom Hanks movie Charlie Wilsons War (2007) and Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006) – but not many. Milt Beardon had traveled to the Moscow Film Festival with De Niro and claims the pair then "disappeared and hung out with the mob and KGB crowd for a while. I introduced him to generals and colonels, the old guys I had been locked with for so many years." De Niro later tagged along with Beardon to Pakistan. "We wandered around the North-West Frontier Province," Bearden recalls, "crossed the bridge [to Afghanistan] I built years ago, hung out with a bunch of guys firing off machine guns and drinking tea." Still, The Good Shepherd didn’t fulfill the CIA’s earnest hopes of being the CIA equivalent of Flags of Our Fathers (2006), which the Agency’s official historian says it should have been – all in the interests of what he calls a "culture of truth."
Charlie Wilson’s War depicted the United States’ covert efforts to supply arms to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s which had the real-life consequence of America’s old ally turned against it in the form of al-Qaeda (as Crile explains in the book of the film). However, Beardon, who was the CIA agent who supplied the weapons, worked as consultant on the film and said prior to its release that it "will put aside the notion that because we did that, we had 9/11." CIA involvement in the film therefore appears to have paid dividends.
The real reasons for the CIA adopting an "advisory" role on all of these productions are thrown into sharp relief by a solitary comment from former Associate General Counsel to the CIA, Paul Kelbaugh. In 2007, whilst at a College in Virginia, Kelbaugh delivered a lecture on the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood, at which a local journalist was present. The journalist (who now wishes to remain anonymous) wrote a review of the lecture which related Kelbaugh’s discussion of the 2003 thriller The Recruit, starring Al Pacino. The review noted that, according to Kelbaugh, a CIA agent was on set for the duration of the shoot under the guise of a consultant, but that his real job was to misdirect the filmmakers: "We didn’t want Hollywood getting too close to the truth," the journalist quoted Kelbaugh as saying.
Peculiarly, in a strongly-worded email to the authors, Kelbaugh emphatically denied having made the public statement and claimed that he remembered "very specific discussions with senior [CIA] management that no one was ever to misrepresent to affect [film] content – EVER." The journalist considers Kelbaugh’s denial "weird," and told us that "after the story came out, he [Kelbaugh] emailed me and loved it… I think maybe it’s just that because [the lecture] was ‘just in Lynchburg’ he was okay with it – you know, like, no one in Lynchburg is really going to pay much attention to it, I guess. Maybe that’s why he said it, and maybe that’s why he’s denying it now." The journalist stands by the original report, and Kelbaugh has pointedly refused to engage us in further discussion on the matter.
Early ScreeningClandestine agencies have a long history of interference in the cinema industry. Letters discovered in the Eisenhower Presidential Library from the secret agent Luigi G. Luraschi (identified by British academic John Eldridge), the Paramount executive who worked for the CIA’s Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), reveal just how far the CIA was able to reach into the film industry in the early days of the Cold War, despite its claims that it sought no such influence. For instance, Luraschi reported that he had secured the agreement of several casting directors to subtly plant "well dressed negroes" into films, including "a dignified negro butler" who has lines "indicating he is a free man" in Sangaree (1953) and in a golf club scene in the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis vehicle The Caddy (1953). Elsewhere, CIA arranged the removal of key scenes from the film Arrowhead (1953), which questioned America’s treatment of Apache Indians, including a sequence where a tribe is forcibly shipped and tagged by the US Army. Such changes were not part of a ham-fisted campaign to instill what we now call "political correctness" in the populace. Rather, they were specifically enacted to hamper the Soviets’ ability to exploit its enemy’s poor record in race relations and served to create a peculiarly anodyne impression of America, which was, at that time, still mired in an era of racial segregation.
Other efforts were made. The PSB tried –unsuccessfully– to commission Frank Capra to direct Why We Fight the Cold War and to provide details to filmmakers about conditions in the USSR in the hope that they would use them in their movies. More successfully, in 1950, the CIA –along with other secretive organizations like the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) and aided by the PSB– bought the rights to and invested in the cartoon of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1954), which was given an anti-Soviet spin to satisfy its covert investors. Author Daniel Leab has pointed to the fact it took decades for the rumours about CIA involvement in Animal Farm to be properly documented; this, he observes, "Speaks volumes about the ability of a government agency to keep its activities covert."
Additionally, the production of the Michael Redgrave feature Nineteen-Eighty Four (1956) was in turn overseen by the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, which was supervised by the CIA. Key points in the movie were altered to demonise the Soviets.
The CIA also tampered with the 1958 film version of The Quiet American, provoking the author, Graham Greene, to denounce the film. US Air Force Colonel Edward Lansdale, the CIA operative behind Operation Mongoose (the CIA sabotage and assassination campaign against Cuba) had entered into production correspondence with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who accepted his ideas. These included a change to the final scene in which we learn that Redgrave’s anti-hero has been hoodwinked by the Communists into murdering the suspicious American, who turns out not to be a bomb-maker as we had been led to believe, but instead a manufacturer of children’s toys.
Behind the ScenesThe White House went to Tinsel Town again the following year when, on November 11, 2001 a meeting was held in Hollywood between President Bush’s then Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, and representatives of each of the major Hollywood studios to discuss how the film industry might contribute to the ‘War on Terror.’ Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America said with a straight face that, "content was off the table", but Rove had clearly outlined a series of requests. It is hard to gauge the consequences of the meeting, but a Rambo sequel, for instance, was certainly discussed, and duly produced. Similarly, several series with national security themes emerged within a short time of the meeting including She Spies (2002-2004) and Threat Matrix (2003).The meeting was, in fact, just one in a series between Hollywood and the White House from October to December, 2001. On October 17, in response to 9/11, the White House announced the formation of its "Arts and Entertainment Task Force," and by November, Valenti had assumed leadership of Hollywood’s new role in the ‘War on Terror’. As a direct result of meetings, Congress sought advice from Hollywood insiders on how to shape an effective wartime message to America and to the world. In November 2001, John Romano, writer-producer of the popular US TV series Third Watch, advised the House International Relations Committee that the content of Hollywood productions was a key part of shaping foreign perceptions of America.
On December 5, 2001, the powerful Academy of Television Arts & Sciences convened its own panel entitled "Hollywood Goes to War?" to discuss what the industry might do in response to 9/11. Representing the government at the meeting were Mark McKinnon, a White House advisor, and the Pentagon’s chief entertainment liaison, Phil Strub. Also in attendance, among others, were Jeff Zucker, President of NBC Entertainment, and Aaron Sorkin, creator and writer of the White House drama The West Wing (1999-2006). Immediately after, Sorkin and his team set about producing a special episode of the show dealing with a massive terrorist threat to America entitled "Isaac and Ishmael". The episode was given top priority and was successfully completed and aired within just ten days of the meeting. The product championed the superiority of American values whilst brimming with rage against the Islamist jihadists.The interlocking of Hollywood and national security apparatuses remains as tight as ever: ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, "There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood" and revealed that former CIA director George Tenet is currently, "out in Hollywood, talking to studios." Baer’s claims are given weight by the Sun Valley meetings, annual get-togethers in Idaho’s Sun Valley in which several hundred of the biggest names in American media –including every major Hollywood studio executive– convene to discuss collective media strategy for the coming year. Against the idyllic backdrop of expansive golf courses, pine forests and clear fishing lakes, deals are struck, contracts are signed, and the face of the American media is quietly altered. The press has yet to be granted permission to report on these corporate media gatherings and so the exact nature of what is discussed at the events has never been publicly disclosed. It is known, however, that Tenet was keynote speaker at Sun Valley in 2003 (whilst still CIA head) and again in 2005.ConclusionsMany would recoil at the thought of modern Hollywood cinema being used as a propagandist tool, but the facts seem to speak for themselves. Do agencies such as the CIA have the power, like the Pentagon, to affect movie content by providing much-sought-after expertise, locations and other benefits? Or are they able to affect script changes through simple persuasion, or even coercion? Do they continue to carry out covert actions in Hollywood as they did so extensively in the 1950s, and, beyond cinema, might covert government influence play some part in the creation of national security messages in TV series such as 24 and Alias (the star of the latter, Jennifer Garner, even made an unpaid recruitment video for the CIA)? The notion that covert agencies aspire to be more open is hard to take seriously when they provide such scant information about their role within the media, even regarding activities from decades past. The spy may have come in from the cold, but he continues to shelter in the shadows of the movie theatre.
Matthew Alford (PhD: University of Bath) lectures on Film and Television at the University of Bristol and is currently writing a book about propaganda in Hollywood. Robbie Graham is Associate Lecturer in Media at Stafford College. They can be contacted at: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org respectively. References available on request.
Global Research Articles by Matthew Alford
Global Research Articles by Robbie Graham