Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation


"The Nobel War Prize"

by Michel Chossudovsky

 globalresearch.ca ,  25  October/ octobre 2002

The 2002 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to former President Jimmy Carter for:

"his decades of untiring efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development." (Norwegian Nobel Institute, http://www.nobel.no/eng_ins_new.html , 11 October 2002)

Liberal commentators in the US tend to view the decision of the Nobel Committee as a rebuff to the Bush administration’s war plans. Former president Carter, in contrast to George W., is said to have placed human rights at "the centrepiece of US foreign policy." In the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Gunnar Berge, the award "should be seen as a criticism of the policy that the current US administration has adopted in relation to Iraq". (Quoted in the Toronto Star, 21 October 2002).

Distorting History

These "human rights" and "peace" buzzwords serve to distort the history of US foreign policy. Here again, the US media has failed to mention a crucial "missing link" -- a factual piece of information on Carter’s presidency which has a direct bearing on our understanding of the ongoing post-9/11 crisis.

Amply documented, but rarely mentioned in 9/11 news reports, the "Islamic Militant Network" (the forerunner of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda), was actually created during Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1976-1981). In July 1979, Carter signed a presidential directive to launch a secret plan in support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Confirmed by former CIA director, Robert Gates, in his book, From the Shadows, this "secret plan" was instrumental in triggering the Soviet-Afghan war. (Robert Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, http://www.gtexts.com/worthreading/gates.html ).

Most American high school history books describe how the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, "without provocation and with overwhelming force". America then "came to the rescue" of the Afghan "resistance". This happened under president Jimmy Carter.

Yet Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski confirms that it was the US and not the Soviet Union which started the war:

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 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…." (Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 November 1998)

In other words, the Soviet-Afghan war was triggered on the orders of President Carter, the latest recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jimmy Carter was not only instrumental in unleashing the war (which has been ongoing for the last 23 years), he was also the architect of the CIA’s covert support to Islamic terrorism. In fact, it turns out that prime 9/11 suspect, Saudi born Osama bin Laden, was recruited during that period "ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight the Soviet invaders". (See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalisation, The Truth behind September 11 , Global Outlook, Shanty Bay, 2002, Chapter 2)

Confirmed by the Afghan Project (http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/afintro.htm ), which has collected hundreds of CIA and State Department documents, cables and memoranda: the CIA "had developed contacts" [meaning support] in the course of 1979 with a number of Islamic terrorist organisations. The objective was to not only unseat the pro-Soviet People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government but also to unleash a war with the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, in April 1979, elected Pakistan prime minister Zulfilcar Ali Bhutto, had been overthrown in a military coup and sentenced to death on the orders of General Zia al-Haq. The Carter administration not only supported Pakistan’s new military rulers, they used them in waging the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan:

[starting during the Carter administration] relations between the CIA and the ISI [Pakistan's military intelligence] had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia's ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime,'... During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only agreed to this plan in October 1984.... `the CIA was more cautious than the Pakistanis.' Both Pakistan and the United States took the line of deception on Afghanistan with a public posture of negotiating a settlement while privately agreeing that military escalation was the best course. (Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. See also the review of Cordovez and Harrison in International Press Services (IPS), 22 August 1995).

In turn, the CIA-sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam. The madrasas were set up by Wahabi fundamentalists financed out of Saudi Arabia:

"[I]t was the government of the United States who supported Pakistani dictator General Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged." (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), RAWA Statement on the Terrorist Attacks In the US, Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RAW109A.html , 16 September 2001)

US support to the Mujahideen initiated during the Carter administration led to the pumping of "billions of dollars into the Afghan cause and thousands of Islamic zealots were given specialist training in the US and Britain." (Review of John Cooley’s Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, http://www.neue-einheit.com/mixed/terror/bookreview.htm ):

"In the United States they experienced tough courses in endurance, weapons use, sabotage, and killing techniques, communications and other skills. They were required to impart these skills to the scores of thousands of fighters who formed the centre and the base of the pyramid of holy war." (John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, London Pluto Press, 1999, p. 81.)

General Zia ul-Haq was a protégé of both the Carter and Reagan administrations. His government played a key role in the recruitment and training of the Mujahideen:

The CIA became the grand coordinator: purchasing or arranging the manufacture of Soviet-style weapons from Egypt, China, Poland, Israel and elsewhere, or supplying their own; arranging for military training by Americans, Egyptians, Chinese and Iranians; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, totaling probably more than a billion; pressuring and bribing Pakistan -- with whom recent American relations had been very poor -- to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary; putting the Pakistani Director of Military Operations, Brigadier Mian Mohammad Afzal, onto the CIA payroll to ensure Pakistani cooperation. (Phil Gasper, Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban International Socialist Review, November-December 2001, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Afghanistan/Afghanistan_CIA_Taliban.html )

The basic framework of CIA covert support set up under the Carter administration was continued during the Reagan presidency. There was no fundamental disagreement between Democrats and Republican regarding the conduct of the Soviet-Afghan war:

When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, he found the Democratic-controlled Congress eager to increase spending on the Afghan war. A congressional staffer told a reporter, "It was a windfall [for the new administration]. They'd faced so much opposition to covert action in Central America and here comes the Congress helping and throwing money at them, putting money their way and they say, 'Who are we to say no?"(Ibid)

Carter’s July 3, 1979 Directive

Following President Carter’s July 3, 1979 directive, US support to various rebel groups evolved into the largest covert operation in CIA history. In the words of Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski:

"…That secret operation [in support of Islamic fundamentalism] was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? 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. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

The Nouvel Observateur journalist concludes the interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski with following question:

"And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

To which Brzezinski retorts:

"What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war? "

In the Wake of 9/11

In an incisive editorial published a few days after the tragic events of 9/11, anti-war critic Tom Burghardt points to the historical roots of Al Qaeda and the complicity of successive US administrations since the presidency of Jimmy Carter:

As evidence mounts that the perpetrators [of the 9/11 attacks] were connected to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida ("The Base") organization, it is also critical that we expose the deadly roots of this group: the CIA, the corrupt Saudi dynasty and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. It mattered not a whit to the American ruling class that two million Afghans were killed in the U.S. "jihad" against the Soviet Union. Carter, Reagan, Bush, Brzezinski, Casey...mark these names down...they should be remembered -- and cursed -- in the coming days… If there is to be a full account of last Tuesday's massacre [September 11 2001] -- and criminal prosecution of the perpetrators -- justice cries out for an indictment of the architect's of the Afghan "resistance" [meaning the "Militant Islamic base"]… (Antifa Bulletin 133, 16 September 2001 http://burn.ucsd.edu/archives/ats-l/2001.09/msg00010.html )

Continuity in US Foreign Policy

The history of US foreign policy in Central Asia suggests that the Carter presidency (1976-1981), while upholding the peace and human rights rhetoric, was in fact instrumental in unleashing a war, which in many regards, has the laid the foundations of the Bush administration’s ongoing "war on terrorism".

This continuity in US foreign policy since the Carter Administration is not in itself a result of a "consensus" between Republicans and Democrats. It essentially points to a crisis in "civilian politics". In other words, the military and intelligence apparatus has taken over the reigns of foreign policy in close consultation with Wall Street, the Texas oil conglomerates and the military industrial complex. With key decisions taken behind closed doors at the CIA and the Pentagon, civilian political institutions including the President and the US Congress increasingly play the role of a façade.

In other words, US foreign policy does not emanate from the institutions of civilian government (i.e. the Legislature and Executive). It exists because the US military-intelligence apparatus -- and the various powers behind it -- tend to override the institutions of civilian government in setting both the military and diplomatic agenda.

In this process, which has reached a new stage during the G. W. Bush administration, the Commander-in-Chief, largely responds to the instructions of key advisers. While the illusion of a functioning democracy prevails in the eyes of public opinion, the US president has become a mere public relations figurehead, visibly with little understanding of key foreign policy issues.

Other prominent "Nobel War Laureates" include:

1973: Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration.

1993: Frederik Willem de Klerk, President of the Republic of South Africa during the Apartheid regime.

1994 Shimon Peres, Foreign minister of Israel

 Copyright  CRG 2002.  All rights reserved. Permission is granted to post this text on non-commercial community internet sites, provided the source and the URL are indicated, the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To publish this text in printed and/or other forms, including commercial internet sites and excerpts, contact the CRG at [email protected]

The URL of this article is: