Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban by Phil Gasper International Socialist Review, November-December 2001

The CIA's anticommunist jihad

President Jimmy Carter immediately declared that the invasion jeopardized vital U.S. interests, because the Persian Gulf area was "now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan. But the Carter administration's public outrage at Russian intervention in Afghanistan was doubly duplicitous. Not only was it used as an excuse for a program of increased military expenditure that had in fact already begun, but the U.S. had in fact been aiding the mujahideen for at least the previous six months, with precisely the hope of provoking a Soviet response. Former CIA director Robert Gates later admitted in his memoirs that aid to the rebels began in June 1979. In a candid 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter's national security adviser, confirmed that U.S. aid to the rebels began before the invasion:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan [in] December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.... We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would....

That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap.... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."

The Carter administration was well aware that in backing the mujahideen it was supporting forces with reactionary social goals, but this was outweighed by its own geopolitical interests. In August 1979, a classified State Department report bluntly asserted that "the United States' larger interest...would be served by the demise of the Taraki-Amin regime, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan." That same month, in a stunning display of hypocrisy, State Department spokesperson Hodding Carter piously announced that the U.S. "expect[s] the principle of nonintervention to be respected by all parties in the area, including the Soviet Union."

Click here to read the letter to the right.  Yes, the above is the same Hodding Carter, III that President Carter had asked to write to me in 1978.  After all, I had made the highest score on the ASVB (Armed Services Vocational Battery Test) test during high school.

To understand the Piety of a Southern Democrat you have to understand their roots.  What makes them pious; I think it has a lot to do with what they refer to as The War of Northern Aggression.

University of Washington

President Franklin Roosevelt had challengers on the left and right.  One of those on the left was Huey Long, the popular governor (and simultaneously U.S. Senator) of Louisiana who proposed a plan to "Share the Wealth" of the United States by excessively taxing the fortunes of American millionaires.  That the scheme was impractical did little to diminish its popularity among many people impoverished by the Great Depression.  Reprinted below is an account of this "American dictator." 

Source: Hodding Carter , Huey Long: American Dictator (1935) reprinted in Isabel Leighton, ed., The Aspirin Age, 1919-1941 (New York, 1949), p. 339-40, 351-52, 353-56.  The University of Southern Mississippi, The Angry Scar Manuscript, McCain Library and Archives - Serving in World War II in the Intelligence Division, Carter continued his journalistic activities by editing the Middle East division of Yank and Stars and Stripes in Cairo, Egypt, and writing three books.

        For newspapermen, those were...memorable days.  You stood beside his hotel dining table, as he slopped up great table­spoonfuls of cereal with a sidewinding sweep or tore broiled chicken to pieces with his fingers, and you jotted down the incessant harangues against the lying newspapers, the city machine, and the battered enemy politicians, while the bodyguards glowered protectively near by.  You didn’t like him, if only because the slugging of newspapermen didn’t seem justifiable even for vote getting, and especially when the strong-arming became personal.  You were chased by militiamen across the parade grounds of Jackson Barracks in New Orleans and held a prisoner after you had sneaked in to discover whether the Governor was calling out the troops on the eve of the Senatorial election—in which the Governor was a candidate.

        In a corridor of the garish Roosevelt Hotel, managed by a...former shoe clerk who was now his paymaster and treasurer, you watched a fellow reporter being hustled out of the Governor’s suite.  ...The reporter had struck the Governor in retaliation for being cursed, and the Governor had struck back, but only after his body­guards had pinioned his attacker.

        Louisiana’s frightened, vengeful Governor surrounded himself with a half-dozen gun-ready, slugging bodyguards. He established a weekly newspaper, the Louisiana Progress, staffed it principally with skillful, conscienceless young newspapermen, and sicked it on his ene­mies.  State employees found it good insurance to subscribe to the Progress, the number of subscriptions depending upon the size of their salaries, but with a minimum of ten to be sold, eaten, or used as wall­paper.  No opponent big enough to be worthy of notice escaped its libeling.  The voters of the nation’s most illiterate state could under­stand its cartoon obscenities even when they couldn’t spell out the text.

        The public-works program went into high gear.  The depression was rocking LouisianaPublic works meant needed jobs.  And the adminis­tration could count on at least five votes for each employee; the votes of the aunts and uncles and cousins and wives and children of job holders who made it clear to their relatives that their fifteen to thirty dollars a week was secure only so long as they could prove their loyalty with political performance.

        The first program was followed by a second and more ambitious one: a sixty-eight-million-dollar highway construction project, a five-million-dollar skyscraper capitol, and another twenty million dollars in assorted projects, all to be financed by an additional three-cent hike in the gasoline tax.  With a year and a half yet to serve as Governor, and with the opposition organizing against the program, Huey decided to run for the United States Senate with the state program as his platform. Huey won hands down; and when his...Lieutenant Gov­ernor claimed the Governorship because of Long’s election to the Senate, Huey called out the state police and the National Guard, read the Lieutenant Governor out of office, and put in the president pro tempore of the Senate as acting Governor¼.       

        In 1934 Long formalized the program which he hoped would even­tually win him the Presidency.  The hazy concept of a national redistribution of wealth, presented fifteen years before by the obscure state Senator from Winn Parish, took definable shape in a national “Share Our Wealth” organization.  No dues were necessary... No matter that the Share Our Wealth program was demonstrably impracticable as presented.  It was believ­able: a limitation of fortunes to $5,000,000; an annual income mini­mum of $2,000 to $2,500 and a maximum of $1,800,000; a homestead grant of $6,000 for every family; free education from kindergarten through college; bonuses for veterans; old-age pensions, radios, auto­mobiles, an abundance of cheap food through governmental purchase and storage of surpluses. The Share Our Wealth members had their own catchy song, "Every Man a King," their own newspaper, the mudslinging Louisiana Progress, expanded now to the American Progress.       

        As the Share Our Wealth chorus swelled, Huey, like a wise military tactician, took care to protect his rear.  In a spectacular, degenerative series of special sessions in 1934 and 1935, his legislature reduced Louisianans almost literally to the status of Indian wards. Together with this final elimination of...democratic self-govern­ment—to the unconcern of a majority of the unconsulted electorate—came new benefits: homestead tax exemption, theoretically up to two thousand dollars; abolition of the one-dollar poll tax; a debt mora­torium act; and new taxes—an income tax, a public utilities receipts tax, an attempted “two cents a lie” tax on the advertising receipts of the larger newspapers, which the United States Supreme Court pro­nounced unconstitutional.

        It is perhaps a corollary that in the last year of his life Long became obsessed with a fear of assassination.  He increased his armed body­guard, and took other unusual precautions to insure his personal safety.  In July, 1935, he charged on the floor of the Senate that enemies had planned his death with “one man, one gun, and one bullet” as the medium, and with the promise of a Presidential pardon as the slayer’s reward.  This plot, he said, was hatched in a New Orleans hotel at a gathering of his enemies. A dictograph, concealed in the meeting room, had recorded the murderous conversation. I was at that meeting. It was a caucus of die-hard oppositionists...trying to decide what to do for the next state campaign.  The "plotting" was limited to such hopefully expressed comments as "Good God, I wish somebody would kill the son of a bitch."

        And somebody did...  On the night of September 8, a slender, bespectacled man in a white suit stepped from behind a marble pillar in the capitol as Long, accompanied by his closest aides and bodyguard, hurried to the Governor’s office.  Dr. Carl Austin Weiss, the man in the white suit, drew a small pistol and fired once.  Seconds later, the assassin lay dead, his body and head riddled by sixty-one shots.  Huey Long staggered away with one bullet wound, per­haps a second, in his stomach.  Thirty hours later he died. 

Creating "the propaganda of history": southern editors and the origins of carpetbagger and scalawag.

Publication: Journal of Southern History
Publication Date:
01-NOV-06
Author: Tunnell, Ted

COPYRIGHT 2006 Southern Historical Association

ONE READS THE TRUER DEEPER FACTS OF RECONSTRUCTION WITH A GREAT despair," wrote W. E. B. Du Bois. "It is at once so simple and human, and yet so futile." (1) Du Bois's words from nearly three quarters of a century ago still resonate. How could something so noble end in such anguish and injustice? Historians have offered many explanations for the precipitous collapse of Radical Reconstruction. They have stressed the North's failure to redistribute confiscated southern lands to ex-slaves, leaving freedpeople economically dependent on white landowners. They have explained that southern governments based on black suffrage never obtained legitimacy in the eyes of most white Americans. They have assessed the terrible damage done by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Leagues. They have observed the waning idealism of northern Republicans and how quickly the North wearied of deploying the U.S. Army to protect southern radicals.

While historians of the postwar South have extensively used newspapers as sources, the southern press as an institution remains largely unexplored. The only general work is Hodding Carter's short book of printed lectures, Their Words Were Bullets: The Southern Press in War, Reconstruction, and Peace(1969), which surveys the entire period from 1861 to 1877 in thirty-two pages. Of the 2,904 entries in David A. Lincove's exhaustive Reconstruction in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography (2000), a bare handful of entries concern the southern Democratic press. The only book, excepting Carter's, is a study of Charleston News and Courier founder and editor Francis Warrington Dawson; the remaining twenty-one relevant entries are locally focused journal articles and a 1976 dissertation. (3) Ironically, scholars know more about the region's incipient (and largely ephemeral) Republican newspapers than about the infinitely larger and vastly more influential Democratic press. (4)

This work is a study of Reconstruction symbolism and rhetoric as expressed in the writings of southern journalists during the transition from Presidential to Radical Reconstruction (1867-1868). It examines those newsmen' s creation of the words carpetbagger and scalawag and demonstrates that they created the epithets as counter-Reconstruction weapons at the precise moment when they would do the most damage: during the radical constitutional conventions that were meeting in conformity with the Reconstruction Act--and while public sentiment about the radical program was only beginning to crystallize. This article argues too that editors in all parts of the South quickly discerned that carpetbagger was a far more effective propaganda tool than scalawag. As molded by newsmen, images of Yankees, carpetbags in hand, more fully expressed white southerners' outrage at radical government than depictions of scalawags did. Equally important, carpetbagger imagery undermined Reconstruction's legitimacy in the North in a way that scalawag imagery did not. Not surprisingly, northerners demonstrated far more sensitivity to the alleged sins of carpetbaggers--ex-Union soldiers and Yankee businessmen--than to those of scalawags, who were largely anonymous southerners. These powerful images tied to the emerging radical governments a figurative ball and chain from which they never escaped.

For better or worse, emblematic words such as carpetbagger and scalawag are inescapable features of political rhetoric. "Politics," political scientist Michael Walzer writes, "is an art of unification; from many, it makes one. And symbolic activity is perhaps our most important means of bringing things together." Without symbols, men and women could not elect presidents and Congresses, write laws and constitutions, and make war. Nor could they act together, as white southerners did after the Civil War to overthrow Radical Reconstruction. (5)

A look at a real Southern Democrat.   Some like’n their tactics to the Nazi Gestapo that they fought against during WWII – um, who said that? Joe Payne

Hodding Carter: The Reconstruction of a Racist
by Ann Waldron

Return to Job Carter Genealogy Page