Monday, August 6, 2012

Chalmers Johnson, The CIA and a Blowback World | TomDispatch

 This article is an excellent summary and commentary on Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.

Chalmers Johnson, The CIA and a Blowback World | TomDispatch

The term "blowback" first appeared in a classified CIA post-action report on the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953, carried out in the interests of British Petroleum. In 2000, James Risen of the New York Times explained: "When the Central Intelligence Agency helped overthrow Muhammad Mossadegh as Iran's prime minister in 1953, ensuring another 25 years of rule for Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the CIA was already figuring that its first effort to topple a foreign government would not be its last. The CIA, then just six years old and deeply committed to winning the Cold War, viewed its covert action in Iran as a blueprint for coup plots elsewhere around the world, and so commissioned a secret history to detail for future generations of CIA operatives how it had been done . . . Amid the sometimes curious argot of the spy world -- 'safebases' and 'assets' and the like -- the CIA warns of the possibilities of 'blowback.' The word . . . has since come into use as shorthand for the unintended consequences of covert operations."

"Blowback" does not refer simply to reactions to historical events but more specifically to reactions to operations carried out by the U.S. government that are kept secret from the American public and from most of their representatives in Congress. This means that when civilians become victims of a retaliatory strike, they are at first unable to put it in context or to understand the sequence of events that led up to it. Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do: they include the people of Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1959 to the present), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Indonesia (1965), Vietnam (1961-73), Laos (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-73), Greece (1967-73), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979 to the present), El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua (1980s), and Iraq (1991 to the present). Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even.


  1. Conquest, subversion and control at any cost has always been the action of every powerful nation/state/group since the beginning of human time; and from our history we can extrapolate that it always will. It doesn't make it right, but it is who we are - this race of mankind (we really should omit the ...kind.) The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, British, Russians, Italians, Spanish, French, has always been the same.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    1. I don't disagree; if only the folks were brave enough to admit that is what they were doing and not cloak it behind bullshit talk about freedom and democracy. Worked with a young lad from one of the northern plains states last fall for a bit in Kazakhstan. Republican. I quite liked him. He was totally open and honest about what America was and did. Made no pretense or apologies.


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