Staff writer at Jacobin magazine, Branko Marcetic, makes an important point in a recent article– the United States military-industrial complex has a long history of supporting right wing insurgencies around the world, and this background has contemporary relevance.
As Marcetic notes, the CIA has a long history of funding and supporting ultranationalist rebel forces. The latest example is the CIA’s training of Ukrainian paramilitary forces, the latter being infested with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
This programme of arming and financing right wing foot soldiers in the Ukraine follows a longstanding pattern of behaviour by the CIA. In the 1980s, the United States, through various conduits in the Middle East, supported and trained ultrarightist fanatical Afghan mujahideen units in an anticommunist insurgency in Afghanistan. The ideology of these foot soldiers for US imperialism formed the reservoir out of which grew Al Qaeda and ISIS. Ideologically similar bedfellows were deployed by the US in the recent civil war in Syria.
It is no secret that Miami was transformed into a home base for the anticommunist Cuban terrorist gangs, receiving training and support for their activities from the CIA. According to former intelligence and national security officials, the CIA has been secretly training Ukrainian forces at least since 2015, in preparation for war with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region. The latter, largely Russian-speaking region, politically separated from the Ukraine after the rise of the far rightist regime in Kiev in 2014.
The active presence of ultranationalist and white supremacist groups in the government and military forces of the Kiev regime since 2014 is well known. Stepan Bandera, the wartime Ukrainian Nazi collaborator and political leader of Ukrainian ultranationalism, is lionised as a hero in Ukraine today. The horrific legacy of his organisation’s ethnic cleansing and racism is being sanitised by the followers of Maidan Ukrainian nationalism today.
This is not the first time that the US has utilised neo-Nazis as foot soldiers in the service of its imperialist goals. Thousands of ex-Nazis, among them Baltic, Ukrainian and Eastern European collaborators, were recruited by the United States in the immediate aftermath of World War 2. Deployed as saboteurs, agents and infiltrators of the Eastern bloc, they were rewarded with a peaceful life in the West – never having to face accountability for their crimes.
The Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian ultranationalist group doing much of the frontline fighting against the Donbas – and against the Ukrainian regime’s domestic opponents – is thoroughly saturated in neo-Nazi ideology. One soldier from the battalion helpfully clarified his way of thinking; they had nothing against Russia per se, but were opposed to President Putin. Why? Because Putin is a Jew in the estimation of the Azov soldier. The homicidal kernel of Ukrainian nationalism – antisemitism – raises its ugly head.
It is not surprising that a number of Islamist militant groups – soldiers from Chechnya in particular – have lined up alongside Ukrainian ultrarightist forces. Regarding Moscow as a common enemy, Islamic State-type units have fought for the ultranationalist government in Kiev. CIA patronage of Islamist fundamentalist groups is not new, but drawing attention to the ideological correspondence between far right white supremacists and fanatical Islamist groups is something the corporate media would have us ignore.
In a way, we are witnessing a repetition of history. The 1980s Afghan CIA-insurgency template is being applied again – only this time involving the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China. The US authorities have constructed a World Uyghur Congress, a collection of regime-change loyalists advocating the establishment of an East Turkestan state in Xinjiang, politically detached from China. Viewing Uyghurs as a prong of an enlarged pan-Turkic empire stretching across Central Asia has been an important element of ultranationalist Turkic ideology.
Willing foot soldiers of the US empire, the Uyghurs of the Americanised variety are following in the footsteps of a similar Islamist rebellion against Beijing – the 1950s Kuomintang uprising, supported by American intelligence agencies. The Uyghur leader of this rebellion, Isa Alptekin, worked to prevent intermarriage between Uyghurs and ethnic Chinese, and declared his enthusiastic support for the US war on Vietnam. Since this rebellion was suppressed, Beijing has been closely watching for any pan-Turkic and extremist ideology flaring up in the northwest of the country.
The job of a good investigative writer is to shine a spotlight on the darkened corners of US foreign and domestic policies. CIA insurgencies involving the cultivation of extremist groups are done in the dark, away from public scrutiny; but they have glaring and widespread public consequences.
Imperial propaganda is an inevitable accompaniment to such secretive activities; after all, it is necessary to disguise the goals of imperialist planners with high-sounding rhetoric. It is high time that such criminal foreign policies are cancelled, because it is the public that pays a high price for manufactured insurgencies.