Visit Douglas's website here: www.douglasvalentine.com
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Harrison: Okay, welcome back everyone to The Truth Perspective. Today in the studio, I am your host Harrison Koehli. Joining me are my regular co-hosts Elan Martin and Joe Quinn.
Elan: Hi everyone.
Joe: Hi everyone.
Harrison: Today we are very pleased to have joining us Doug Valentine. Doug is the author of several books including the classic Phoenix Program on the CIA operation in Vietnam counter-insurgency program. There it is. He has also written two books on the so-called war on drugs and the connections with the DEA drug trafficking organized crime called Strength of the Wolf and Strength of the Pack and his latest book that just came out at the end of 2016 is The CIA as Organized Crime-How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World. We've got that one here too. So welcome to the show Doug. Thanks for being with us.
Doug: You're very welcome. It's a pleasure to be here.
Harrison: To start out with, it's the first time we've had you on our show. I don't know how many of our listeners have had the pleasure of reading your books but I hope they will after the show. Maybe for our listeners who aren't familiar with your work you could just tell us a little bit about how you came to write about the CIA, specifically your first book The Phoenix Program. How did you get the information that you ended up writing about in that book?
Doug: I grew up in a blue collar family just north of New York City. My father drove a truck for what was called Railway Express back in the 1950s and he always had a second job. He ran the movie theatre in town at night for a while then he worked in a liquor store. So he was working himself to death. My mother had a job and it all had to do with his experiences in World War II. He was a traumatized war veteran and he had his first debilitating heart attack when he was 45 years old and it changed his life. It changed life for everybody in the family.
He and I never really got along. He was a very conservative kind of blue collar guy. He rooted for Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts and I rooted for Joe Namath and the New York Jets. It was the generation gap kind of thing.
But when he had his second open-heart surgery, I was about 30 years old. He was 55 and when he was getting better he was having nightmares in the hospital in intensive care. They had to actually move him to a room by himself because his nightmares were disturbing everybody else. And the hospital sent him to a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist told him that he had to talk about what happened to him in the war if he ever wanted to get better. So he called me up and he said "I understand you want to be a writer. I've got a story to tell you."
He told me about what happened to him in WWII and it enabled me to write my first book which was called The Hotel Tacloban. It was about my father's experiences and it really woke me up. It was the first step I took in understanding American society and American culture, that there were a lot of my friends from my generation who had fathers who were walking around from WWII who were traumatized by the war experience, which is not something that Americans experienced. Unless you're a veteran and you go overseas, and you fight a war, you don't really know what it's like. There's kind of an envelope here in America that protects everybody from certain realities and actually being in a war is one of them and it's a really big deal.
So my father and I formed a bond that we had never had before and I started to look at the older generation and veterans in a different light. After that book came out I wanted to try to relate to Vietnam veterans, the guys from my own generation who had gone off and fought in Vietnam and had been to some extent, vilified by a lot of people for doing that. I got to know Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The Vietnam veterans accepted me because of this book that I had written about my father. My father related to Vietnam veterans.
I wanted to write a book about Vietnam that would try to bring all these issues home and in talking to Vietnam veterans I went to a VA hospital in New Hampshire where I was living at the time, and I asked the director of this VA hospital "What's a part of the Vietnam story that hasn't been written about?" and he said "The Phoenix Program", which was the CIA's part of the Vietnam War. It was a secret part of the war.
And this VA director said he had a guy who was institutionalized at the VA hospital who had been part of Phoenix and he would get this guy to do an interview with me. Then he called me back a couple of days later and he said "They guy won't talk to you. He's afraid that he'll lose his VA benefits if he tells you about what he did in the Phoenix Program." And that really shocked me. Why would a veteran and in America, especially nowadays when you can't turn around without seeing a poster promoting veterans and support for veterans? The society and the culture have gotten very militaristic and soldiers are held up as a special class.
Anyway, back then I was wondering why would a veteran be afraid of the government? The government's supposedly for veterans. And so I embarked on trying to find out what this Phoenix Program was. Now, coming from a blue collar family, I have no awe for the upper classes, for the ruling classes.
So I did a little background research and I found out that a guy called William Colby who had been director of the Central Intelligence was the guy most closely associated with the Phoenix Program. So I wrote him a letter and I sent him a copy of my book about my father and I said "I'd like to talk to you about the Phoenix Program." And he wrote me back and said "That's a good book. Come on down, I'll talk to you."
And then looking at my father and his experiences as a soldier, was it evidence to the CIA officers? And Colby would start introducing me to senior CIA officers based on this book I had written about my father because it demonstrated that I knew what it meant to be a soldier. And it demonstrated that I could bridge this generation gap which to a certain extent, unless you've lived through it, was really a defining phenomena of the culture.
And so a lot of CIA guys just lined up to talk to me based on this book I had written about my father because they thought I would understand them and that I could relate to them in a way that lots of times their own sons couldn't. So it was at a very deep, personal level that all these things unfolded. Plus which I wasn't a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and I had not been indoctrinated to a career in journalism to protect the CIA or to spin it in their benefit. I approached it perfectly rationally.
After a while when I realized why these guys were talking to me and they were telling me all their dirty secrets, that all I had to do was give them the book to read and sit back and let them tell me everything. I never had to ask them about the dastardly things they did. I approached the book very organizationally. But they were inclined to trust me because Colby had referred me to them because I could understand their experience as soldiers and believe me when I say CIA guys consider themselves to be soldiers. It's a very hierarchical organization that's organized militarily.
Somebody tells you what to do and you salute and you do it and they consider themselves patriots. And they never second-guess what's going on.
They have this closed society that reinforces each others' beliefs about the horrors of communism or fundamental Islam. They have this very narrow set of beliefs that they reinforce each other and they're actually quite prone to accept you if you look like me, if you look like a Methodist Anglo-Saxon guy and your father was in the war and you wrote about him, they tend to accept you.
So they spilled all their secrets to me about how the CIA is organized and operates. Of course they weren't particularly happy when the book came out and about halfway as I was going through it, about halfway through it they started realizing that I wasn't really the person that they thought I was. When the book came out it got a terrible review but I had already filed a privacy act request with the CIA and found out that they'd been keeping a file on me the almost whole time I'd been writing this book. And after the CIA realized that all these guys were telling me all these secrets, that they actually wrote in their files that I had so much information about so much classified material that it could actually damage the CIA!
I started getting nervous and they started telling people not to talk to me, which by the way is illegal. An organization like the CIA has no right to tell CIA officers not to talk to somebody. That's censorship.
So all sorts of things started happening. Anyway, because I interviewed so many high-level CIA officers, I got insights into the CIA that I suspect nobody else in the world ever had and it revealed a whole new facet of the Vietnam War and moreover, the Phoenix Program, due to its nature, has become the model, the template that the CIA uses to fight the war on terror and it has become the model for Homeland Security.
Harrison: Doug, could you get into what exactly the Phoenix Program was, for us. You said that you approached it from in organizational manner to find out exactly how it worked within the CIA as an organization. Can you tell us a bit about how it worked and what they were actually doing within this organization?
Doug: The CIA had always been a vanguard in the counter-insurgency in South Vietnam. I'll assume your listeners have some background because you have to understand the background to understand what the CIA was doing. But anyway, around 1960 this counter-insurgency came to light. It had been very quiet from 1954 when the Americans first got into South Vietnam, until 1960. But in 1950 the President of South Vietnam, a guy named Diệm - who was a catholic by the way, who was installed by the CIA - was under so much pressure from the Buddhist population, which amounted to over 90% of the population that he started passing draconian laws to suppress any kind of dissent. At that point, people who really were sort of neutral as to whether or not they would support this guy Diệm, they started coming under the gun.
Diệm had a very powerful secret police force which was advised by the CIA and in response to the repression, that's when the Viet Minh, which the CIA renamed the Viet Cong for communist, started organizing and started mounting an insurgency, okay? And by 1963 the insurgency had gotten so powerful that the CIA assassinated Diệm and replaced him with a cabal of Buddhist generals which they thought would help stem the tide.
But it didn't. The people at that point understood that the CIA and the Americans were actually creating governments to oppress them. So now the insurgency had become aimed at the Americans to get the Americans out of South Vietnam so the Vietnamese could reclaim the country for themselves. By 1965 the only way the United States could put down the insurgency was to send in American troops and in 1965 that's when American troops started landing in South Vietnam and they started fighting these insurgents who just wanted to get the Americans out of the country and take the country back for themselves.
By 1966 the Americans realized they could not defeat the insurgency militarily or the North Vietnamese troops that were coming down and helping the insurgents in South Vietnam. And at that point the CIA started to organize and bring together the various programs that become the Phoenix Program.
The Phoenix Program is different and it's run by the CIA because what it aimed to do was to kill off, capture, interrogate and oppress the civilian members who were behind the insurgency; not soldiers, not even sappers who were guys who were carrying bombs and blowing up the US embassy or anything like, that but civilians! Actual just people, civilians!
The only way the CIA can end the insurgency is go after the civilians who are behind it. And these are people who are political. They're administrators. It might be a woman who's in the farmers' association which organizes clandestinely. It's a secret government which, when the Phoenix Program was examined by Congress in 1971, one of the Congressmen said if the Phoenix Program, if it was in the Civil War, would have been assassinating the Mayor of Macon, Georgia. It was going up to the political people who were not carrying arms.
So it violated the Geneva Accords. It was absolutely illegal to do this. And through the Phoenix Program the CIA brought every intelligence program and every paramilitary program - like 25 of these programs - and it began coordinating them out of what it called the Phoenix Centres which it had set up in every district. There were 240 districts in South Vietnam and they created a Phoenix Centre in each one of those districts and they created a Phoenix Centre in every province. There were 44 provinces and the provinces had a Phoenix Centre. And they coordinated all the clandestine police, paramilitary, military services to identify these civilians, put them in prison and kill them and it was totally against the law.
And that program was considered the program that saved the United States in South Vietnam although it was secret and the press never reported on it. It was actually imprisoning and killing all these civilians that swung the war in America's favour. And it was totally funded by the United States and managed by the United States through various South Vietnamese agencies which fronted for the CIA, including and especially the South Vietnamese Special Police Force which ran an interrogation centre in every province and had agent nets that it set out all across the country to identify the civilian members of the insurgency which they called the VCI - the Viet Cong Infrastructure.
The CIA went after these people, especially in the countryside through what were called the counter-terror teams, the same kind of counter-terror teams that the Seals and Joint Special Operations are using today. This is the exact same policy and system that is organized the exact same way, that the United States is fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, anywhere in the world that the special operations forces are working in conjunction with the CIA. This is what they're doing. They're going after civilians, the civilian members of the Taliban, the civilian members of you name it. Whoever is opposed to the United States, the CIA goes after the civilian leaders and kills them.
Joe: Doug, that description you just gave of counter-insurgency is a hallmark of counter-insurgency tactics by various different governments throughout the 20th century, where they quickly realize that their real enemy in the country that they want to control or take over, is the population because the actual armed insurgents or rebels in any military campaign inside a country where the people are attempting to kick out an invading force, those armed rebels invariably get their support from the local population. The local population is much more numerous and the rebels would not be able to survive without the support of the local population. So it seems to me, in reading about these things, that western governments have quickly realized "We've got to intimidate or in some way force the local population to submit, to stop supporting this relatively small group of armed individuals."
Doug: That's exactly right and that was discussed at great length by the CIA and all the big brains who are putting together American counter-insurgency policy. Let me put it in some context. My father-in-law, Andy McEvan was born in Ireland and grew up along the border around a town called Maghery.
Joe: You're joking me, right?
Doug: No, no, no. Actually through my marriage I have Irish citizenship. I'll finish my story and then I'll present you with my bona fides. But anyway, Andy died a couple of years ago. He was 99. He was born in 1911, so he was 10 years old during the Irish civil war and he remembered it very clearly. "The goddamn Black and Tans. He started running marathons in New York City when he was 67 and he always wore an "England Out Of Ireland" T-shirt. He was a communist when it came to America in the 1930's.
When I told him about the Phoenix Program he said to me "Well that's exactly what the Brits did to us in Ireland. They had a barracks up on the hill and at night the soldiers would dress up like Irishmen and they would come out of the barracks and they would kill our people! Not just the guys in the IRA but they knew the family members of the guys in the IRA and the soldiers would come out of the barracks at night and they would kill their wives and their children! They'd put them in a barn and they'd burn the whole barn down."
Well that is the Phoenix Program, okay? It's terrorism directed against members of the civilian population in order to suppress the armed insurgency. But if you look back you'll see that the Romans did it too. It's always been done. It's not something that people in power are unaware of. What the CIA does in the Phoenix Program is to turn this into a highly refined bureaucratic system and to make it super technological and to refine it to such a degree that it becomes transferable all around the world. They bureaucratize these things and anything that can't be assimilated into the "American way", into a consumer society, into our belief system, anything that can't be assimilated, well they become subject to this new highly refined bureaucratic Phoenix system, which is how it becomes systematized and applied to Homeland Security and how it becomes the template for the Department of Homeland Security and its fusion centres which are now in every state across the country. It becomes the template for the FBI's anti-terrorism taskforce.
What it does is, whereas in Ireland below the border, it was just a group of soldiers dressed like Irishmen and came out at night, now it's systematized. Now it coordinates the guys in the barracks with the Special Branch, with the navy, with the local police forces, with 25 to 50 different organizations, with civic institutions. All of these different organizations now are feeding information into a computer and there's a guy at every Phoenix Centre who gets all this intelligence about dissidents, civilians, and now they know everything about everybody and they can pick you out and they can go after you in ways that don't include now just putting everybody in a barn and burning the barn down.
Now they can ruin your reputation. Now they can suppress you by putting your name in the newspaper as "So-and-so was investigated for domestic terrorism" or "So-and-so is part of an environmental group that's planning on attacking some corporation for fracking". It's just become a highly refined bureaucratic process that coordinates every government agency and almost every civic institution that is interested in expelling anybody from the system who can't be assimilated because they're a dissenter.
It's got cutting edge technology. It has graduates of Yale who graduated cum laude in organizational behaviour. They study psychologically how people behave and they incorporate that into their theories and their practices of how to control people. They control the media. The media is part of this. It's an indispensable part of it. They don't tell you that all this is going on, but it is and it's been evolving and it's been developing and that's why in this new book The CIA as Organized Crime, I try to discuss it philosophically as well as with case studies to show that it has now become integrated into the very nature of what American society is and where it's going.
And if you chart the historical arc, all these different facets that contribute to this modern manifestation of what the Phoenix Program is, you can see exactly where it's going. You can see exactly where it's heading. You can see where it's been and you can see how it had evolved. But people can't do that because it's illegal to talk about the CIA! You never hear anybody talk about the CIA because the legislative branches of the government are part of it too. Starting in 1982 they passed legislation called the Agent Identity Act that makes it illegal for the press to name a CIA officer or to discuss CIA operations and methods.
It's like John Kiriakou, you start talking about it, they put you in jail. The security services have not only just developed this Phoenix method, at the same time the legislative lawmaking branches of the government made it illegal to talk about it or to reveal these protected people that were running this whole operation.
Joe: The reason I asked you if you were joking about your story about your father-in-law is that I'm actually from Maghery.
Doug: Oh, you're from Maghery.
Joe: Yeah, I'm from Maghery.
Doug: Andy's from a little town called Edentubber which is by Jonesborough.
Joe: Yeah, Edentubber, Jonesborough, yeah.
Doug: Which I think means wells brim in Irish.
Doug: So my wife and I went back in 1986. We went over there so that she could visit this tiny little village where Andy grew up and we go to Shannon and my first book had just come out and I thought "Here I am in the land of writers. They're going to roll out the red carpet for me." We were going to rent this car and I fill out the form. There was a nice little Irish girl at the airport, looks at me and says "I'm sorry. We can't rent a car to you". And I said "Well why not?" And she said "We don't rent cars to writers." I guess they thought I'd go to the first pub and get drunk and crash the thing. So my wife had to rent the car. But we drove all around and we got to Edentubber and Andy had grown up with a guy named Andy Phillips. So we go to Jonesborough and saw some guy walking on the street and said "Do you know where Andy Phillips lives?" He went "Old Andy or young Andy?" And they sent us there and my wife met this guy Andy Phillips who was the same age as her father.
It was just a beautiful experience, sitting in this little thatched roof house in Ireland with a little peat fire going and everybody from this village came over. The word went out. It was just a steady procession of people coming in to look at Andy's daughter and have a little whiskey. We loved it.
But when I was there in '86 they still had what were called unapproved roads across the border and they had barracks set up all along the boundary. When we were staying there we stayed at a little place and just the day before some kid had stepped on a land mine out in the field. The "troubles" were still going.
So these things, in the 30 years since we were there, the British certainly have adopted it and they apply it. It's just that the United States is at the forefront. The United States is the de facto leader of the free world and they're the ones that are really promoting the hell out of this thing. The guy who Trump chose as his national security advisor, a guy named General Mike Flynn, was born in 1956 in Rhode Island and he was in military intelligence. He wasn't a West Pointer but he was in military intelligence. He was actually the head of intelligence for the joint special operations command in Afghanistan for a while and in Iraq for a while.
He is an advocate of these Phoenix Centres. This is the way he sees the way that America is going to police its colonies. And believe me when I tell you Afghanistan's a colony and Iraq's a colony and they want Syria as a colony. And Africa's being colonized. Basically the joint special operations command goes targeting any kind of military or armed resistance to American influence in these colonies, but it's the CIA clandestinely that goes out to the political people and knocks them off. And you'll never hear about all those assassinations that are going on in the New York Times, as secret as the joint special operations command is and as little well-known as it is. Well the CIA's actually the force behind the joint special operations command and of course they conduct all their own secret operations through the security forces that they cultivate in each of these nations.
The CIA has created a security force. It completely owns it. It completely finances it in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in many of the African nations where the United States is attempting to create its colonies. And this is all very super-secret and it's through those secret police forces that it really brings the hammer down on the civilians and any kind of domestic opposition to imposing the American way on these countries.
And that's what I try to get at in this book, The CIA As Organized Crime because everything they do in effecting these secret policies, is illegal. It's absolutely and totally illegal. They go into the countries and especially in a place like Afghanistan and the first thing they do is hire all the warlords they can and give them a licence to deal drugs so they can make money on the side. Or they give them a licence to bump off their business opponents so that they can take over their businesses. It's just a massive extortion scheme all round. And I get into all the details of how that works too.
Elan: Doug, something that your book drives home is the scope of the criminality of these operations, first in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan. You just mentioned briefly that they basically give a licence to warlords in Afghanistan to grow and traffic drugs. I wonder if you can talk for a moment about the extent to which the CIA is in the business of drug trafficking in general.
Doug: Yeah, it goes back to the Phoenix Program. At the same time the CIA was taking over the insurgency in South Vietnam in 1960, it was also trying to take over Laos which is a neighbouring nation. And Laos, Burma and Thailand are huge sources of opium. And in Laos, which had been a French colony, part of Indochina, the French had an opium monopoly in Laos which provided opium throughout the region including to South Vietnam. The French ran the trafficking in opium from Laos into South Vietnam and during the first Indochina war when the Vietnamese were fighting the French from 1945 to 1954, the French actually financed their counter-insurgency against the Vietnamese through the opium trade.
Al McCoy chronicles this in a book called The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia. It's all very well documented. The French special forces flew the opium out of Laos to Vũng Tàu, Cap Saint-Jacques and then sold it on the market. I've done a lot of work on the international narcotics trade. I've read some of the correspondence at the time, but in 1938 a federal narcotics agent went to review the situation in Saigon and he said the French were supporting themselves and the whole counter-insurgency with opium.
So the United States knew it was going on but they wanted the French to prevail so they did nothing about it. When the CIA started taking over from the French, they took over this opium monopoly and that's why Laos was called the secret war. The CIA took over the entire monopoly. They put it in the hands of two different factions. One faction was run by a general named Vang Pao and his forces controlled the Plain of Jars where most of the opium was grown. And this guy Vang Pao made a fortune and in return he emptied his people, the Hmong, the Meos, which were a mountainous tribe who weren't native Laosians and the CIA organized them into a secret army and used them to fight the communists in Laos and in exchange Vang Pao and the CIA financed this war through the opium trade, the same opium monopoly that the French had, doing it the same way that the French did.
And they did this in partnership with generals in Thailand and generals in South Vietnam and throughout the entire war this system was in place. Not only did Laotian generals and Vang Pao profit off of this and the CIA finance its war, a lot of the opium went to various generals in South Vietnam, each of whom had a franchise. Generally the manager was the general's wife so that he was never connected to it and then they had franchises in each of the war zones that they operated.
It sort of came to a head in 1970 when Nixon found out what was going on. There was a tremendous problem at the time with American soldiers becoming addicted. There were so many American soldiers addicted in South Vietnam that they were starting to kill their officers. They were starting to smuggle the heroin back to the United States and all these drugs which could only track back to the CIA protecting this whole drug network, that started reaching the United States in huge amounts and created a heroin epidemic at home. Of course the drugs went to the black community and they went to hippies so it sort of became part of this overall coordinated method of suppressing dissent in America by getting dissenters hooked. Allowing the drugs to go to them and actually becomes incorporated within this new Phoenix system as yet another tool of waging an anti-insurgency.
It's just so expansive - and I track this in the book as well - how the CIA actually commandeered the DEA, took over its executive management, its foreign operations, its intelligence services and special operations services, in order that it could protect its drug dealers around the world and just through targeting these Phoenix centres, just go after the drug dealers that couldn't be assimilated. Nowadays all the drug dealers in Afghanistan which provides 90% of the heroin to the United States are protected by the CIA. It's the warlords and their militias that form the main force going against the Taliban.
It's the warlords that provide the soldiers that become part of the secret services, the secret police and fight against average, everyday Afghan civilians. Same thing everywhere around the world, in every country that the CIA operates in. They work through the criminal milieu in that country and give the criminal milieu in that country access to power because they know the criminal milieu will sell out their people because the criminal milieu has been feeding off the public anyway and they have no loyalty to their own countries. The CIA elevates criminals in every country where it operates because they become the best and most important assets.
In talking about this, you have to realize that capitalism is criminal! If you sell mortgages to poor people you know who can't pay them and you take their house away from them, that's criminal too. And in every country they work with the bankers and they work with the elite whose sole purpose in life is to steal as much as they can from poor people. And that's exactly what's also happening.
The CIA is not a social services organization. It's there to preserve the power and the powerful people it's supporting are gangster capitalists. They're not people who are interested in helping you maintain your social security. They're not people that want universal healthcare. They're your enemy if you're a working class person. The CIA is your enemy because it's supporting the one percent of the one percent that are making fortunes off all of the criminal enterprises designed to steal your money and make your life miserable.
I'm trying to cover a lot of ground.
Joe: Yeah, I know. We understand that. I just wanted to ask something about back in Vietnam when the CIA was running this Phoenix Operation and the government at the time, did you ever get a sense from reading into this and from the statements of people involved, that there actually was a genuine belief that communism was the problem and that was what they were fighting against?
Doug: No. There was an enabling document for the Phoenix Program which was written by a man named Nelson Brickham. Nelson Brickham was a veteran CIA officer. He was a veteran of WWII. I did many, many interviews with him. Those interviews are available online and also the documents that he gave me are available online, the enabling documents for the Phoenix Program. And in these enabling documents that Nelson Brickham put together, he described the communists as perhaps five percent of the population. Then he said there are the people who back the United States and they're another five percent of the population. He said 90% of the population just wanted the war to go away.
Most of those 90% supported the communists and it became clear that in order to get at the five percent that were communists, part of the lao động party, the only way they could get at those five percent was to make the other 90% so miserable that they would turn on them too.
So they created this policy of "It's not enough to be neutral." They started creating laws that made it illegal to be neutral, alright? You had to actually cooperate with the government against the communists, or else you were designated a communist sympathizer. And as a civilian, if you were designated a communist sympathizer because you weren't actually an informant for the government, informing on anybody who could be a suspect, then you became a target of Phoenix!
So what they did was they put pressure on this 90% in order to get at the five percent and they extorted them and they screwed them in every possible way. The police would throw them in prison and say "Tell us where the communists are." And the more and more that that happened, the more and more the people started identifying with the communists, even if they weren't communists, they started identifying with the insurgency because the CIA and its lackeys in the South Vietnamese government had made laws that made them criminals for wanting to be neutral.
And this is the exact same thing that you see happening in the United States today. It's the kind of rhetoric that you hear from Trump. "If you're not actually with me, you're against me and the only way that I know that you're with me is if you're out there informing for the police, or joining a particular organization that says 'I hate Muslims' or 'I hate Mexicans'. You have to demonstrate that you're with the powers that be or else you become a sympathizer for the enemy and then subject to repression." That's the beauty of the Phoenix system for the powers that be. They can make anybody an enemy simply because you're not out there gung-ho supporting the one percent of the one percent.
Joe: So from your perspective, what was the actual understood reasons or I suppose it would have been covert policy that they were hoping to achieve by being in Vietnam in the first place, by being in that area in east Asia.
Doug: The objects that who was trying to achieve? The Americans or the communists?
Joe: The American government and the CIA, etc.
Doug: They wanted to create a consumer society with American values in South Vietnam. It was a Buddhist society which had its own culture which wasn't going to be assimilated into this consumer society very quickly, so through primarily information control, they were slowly going to try to train the Vietnamese to become de facto American consumers so American businesses could move into South Vietnam, so Pepsi could move in, so that Ford could move in, so that Westinghouse could move in, so that all the corporations could move into South Vietnam, modernize it and sell their products there so that the corporations could make huge profits.
If you were around during the war, the American embassy was basically a chamber of commerce for American corporations. Whatever contracts that the South Vietnamese government had, they were giving them to American corporations because none of these businesses existed in the South Vietnamese economy. It was a very rural economy and even the cities were considered somewhat backward. So there was just fabulous amounts of money to be made by modernizing South Vietnam, organizing it the way American society has been organized into a consumer society that buys a lot of needless machinery. It was also a source of cheap labour. The Vietnamese people were willing to work for just pennies, just like American corporations go through TPP and the Clinton kind of global deals that are made.
If they move into a country like South Vietnam, American corporations have very little overhead. They can pay slave wages and they can produce sweaters and sneakers and whatever and they can sell them back in the United States for huge profits. So that's what America was aiming to do in South Vietnam and they didn't care if they had to repress everybody and kill half the population to get it done! It was truly, truly evil.
And it's what's happening in Afghanistan and it's happening in Iraq. This guy I was talking about earlier, Mike Flynn who Trump is naming as his national security advisor, he calls this - and it's in statements, you just Google his name and put in the two words "long war". Flynn is an advocate of fighting long war in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, all throughout Africa. It's another word for neo-colonialism. It's setting up this Phoenix Program in all these countries that the United States wants to take over and industrialize with American corporations so the profits can go back home to American industrialists.
And neo-colonialism is now called long war because it's going to be forever. And these plans are in place at the Pentagon, at the CIA. They're thinking 20 years into the future. This is how they're going to manage the situation. Does that make sense to you?
Joe: Yes, absolutely. What you're saying is the whole communist threat during the Cold War that was obviously pushed very strongly to the American people and to people in the West, that the threat of communism necessitated the CIA and the US military to be involved overseas to make the world safe for freedom, etc., it was really to make the world safe for Western corporations.
Doug: Yeah, yeah. First of all China was one communist demon and the USSR was the other communist demon. Since 1949 when China officially went communist, its policy has been to industrialize China. It has not aggressed against anybody. It has protected its boundaries and it tries to repel the CIA from coming into it and it helped in Korea and aided the Vietnamese, but China has never been a threat to the United States. It has never threatened Europe or anything in any way. And we know now - it's well known that all the estimates that the CIA and military provided about the Soviets and their strength, were vastly overstated. The entire time that we were fighting the Cold War Russia was imploding. It had been destroyed in WWII. Its entire industrial infrastructure had been destroyed. All the threat of the Soviet Union was vastly overstated. It would have accepted rapprochement much earlier than Brzezinski if given the chance.
So a lot of the false knowledge and the assumptions that we have about communism or the threat of communism is false. These assumptions are based in propaganda that was aimed at us and actually the corporations that are behind this policy - and you see it in the war on terror every day - of making you afraid; of making you afraid of communism, of making you afraid of Russia. The demonization of Putin and Russia and China is just beyond the pale!
And Americans are getting tired of it. They realized at some point that all of this has been overstated and they've been suckers for believing it. The one problem that they still have is that they still believe that the fundamentalists are out to destroy America, which is another great boondoggle for the security services. That's the main ingredient of the Phoenix Program, this psychological warfare that's waged against the public; psychological warfare in which the media, which is owned by the same corporations that are profiting off the war on terror. They aim at us in order to make us afraid so that we feel dependent on these people and we give them a free hand to do whatever they want.
But the only way you can understand that it's overstated is to actually learn about all these things and every once in awhile visit RT, Russia Today, and see what they're saying, and listen to what the Chinese are saying and read some reports coming out of these countries that we're demonizing and try to get their side of the story and realize that they're populated by people who just want the same things that we want. We don't really need F14s flying over football games to protect us.
It's hard to fit it all in in just a minute. I'm doing the best I can.
Joe: And you're doing a great job.
Elan: Absolutely! Doug, so you said a few moments ago that some of these operations, counter-insurgency or nation building, is planned for, over a very long period of time. We've seen that to some degree with Ukraine and it's just stunning to notice that just shortly after the coup of a couple of years ago we had this Natalie Jaresko of the state department and the US embassy of Ukraine, suddenly get elevated to the Minister of Finance of Ukraine.
Doug: Yeah, the same day she got Ukrainian citizenship. And Joe Biden's son, the Vice President of the United States' son, became a vice president in some huge corporation there. I think it's an oil corporation. If that isn't gangsterism and crony politics, what is?! The Vice President of the United States helps to overthrow a country and arranges for his son to become a vice president of a huge oil corporation there!
And this got no mention in the US press. And when it did get mentioned it was "Well, you know, that's business." And they say "Well business isn't politics. That's business! That's not politics. Business is pure. Business is a different realm than politics."
Joe: Yeah, right.
Doug: "If Ukrainians didn't want this to happen then the Ukrainians wouldn't have allowed this to happen but obviously they want it to happen." Well bullshit!! They didn't have anything to say about it! Just the way we don't have anything to say about who the democratic party is going to push out front to be the nominee. These things are made by elite groups of people for whom democracy and the public will is the biggest enemy. The average citizens who are part of the Democratic Party, they never would have put Hillary Clinton up there. They hated her guts and it was 'anybody but Hillary' but she got there anyway.
Trump's kind of a different phenomenon because he ran against the Republican establishment but it took the Republican establishment about five minutes to line up behind him and start rejoicing because he represents Republican values much more thoroughly and completely than any of the candidates did. He was just an outsider, but he was only an outsider in terms of the fact that he hadn't been part of the establishment but symbolically and philosophically, he's the ultimate for them.
But average everyday people have nothing to say about the political process here in the United States or in the Ukraine. If I could just close - I'm running out of steam - like I said at the beginning, I come from a blue collar family. My father worked two jobs. My mother worked. They never owned a house. When I brought my wife home to meet my parents and Reagan had just put a tax on their social security. I was doing tree work at the time. I climbed trees for a tree service, and they gave us a nice spaghetti dinner and a glass of wine. And my younger sister came out and told us that they'd been sharing a can of beans the day before.
My concern is with average people. I would like average people, working class people to be able to take control over their lives. And to do that is a monumental task because the rich people like Joe Biden and Joe Biden's son who take over this oil corporation or whatever in Ukraine, are truly evil! And the rest of us are just grist for their mills. We just consume the things that they shove down our throats and that's why I wrote a book like The CIA As Organized Crime because it's important for average, everyday people not to think that the CIA is something that they can't understand, or it doesn't affect them.
That's my motivation and the thing that I would like to see happen is that working class people and poor people in this country can just start to share in the pie that's out there and I'm just trying to show how the bureaucracy works to keep them down.
Joe: Doug we don't want to keep you too long, I wanted to jump to the very end of your latest book, The CIA As Organized Crime. The title of Chapter 24 is "A War on Terror as the Greatest Covert Op Ever".
Doug: Yeah. Well it's what I've been saying to you. Apart from 9/11 when 3,000 people were killed, which was really an anomaly, a very strange thing, your chances of dying as an American in a terror attack are less than you get dying from a bee sting. The war on terror creates more terror than it suppresses. And it's just a cover for American intervention in countries that American corporations want to colonize and turn into little junior chambers of commerce where they can get cheap labour and steal the resources from these countries through the gangsters that they hire to represent them, who will gladly work for the American corporations and the CIA because they're going to get kickbacks for doing it.
This whole war on terror is a total sham. It is a covert operation. There isn't a whole world of terror out there that wants to destroy us. It's just a lot of people who are the salt of the earth who just want to be left alone and it would be nice if the United States really did just leave them alone. If they want to help them, that would be the best thing they could do. Or maybe sell them pharmaceuticals at a discount price. Or maybe go over and help with technological advances that would help to make their lives easier. But waging wars in their countries is not helpful!
Doug: So with that, I say thank you for having me on. I hope that that's enough for you. I'm tired of talking.
Harrison: That's perfect Douglas. Thanks for coming on the show. I just want to say one more time for our listeners, that the title of the book is The CIA As Organized Crime and you can find it on Amazon. You've also got a website, www.douglasvalentine.com where you can find information on all of Doug's books and the articles he has written for various websites and publications like CounterPunch and others. So we highly recommend that you check out the book and thanks again Doug for coming on the show and we hope we can have you again sometime and get into some other topics.
Doug: I would be delighted to. There's obviously a lot to talk about and it was an honour to be on your show. Thank you very much.
Harrison: Great. Thank you Doug.
Joe: Thanks a million.
Elan: Great talking to you Doug.