Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Robert Buchar, an associate professor and author of the Cinematography Program at Columbia College in Chicago. A political refugee from former Czechoslovakia, he is the producer of the documentary, Velvet Hangover, which is about Czech New Wave filmmakers, how they survived the period of “normalization” and their reflections on the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989. He is the author of the new book, And Reality be Damned… Undoing America: What The Media Didn’t Tell You About the End of the Cold War and Fall of Communism in Europe. The book is based on a documentary feature he is currently working on, The Collapse of Communism: The Untold Story.
FP: Robert Buchar, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
You have some quite startling things to say about the fall, or lack thereof, of the Soviet Empire in the period 1989-1991. What is it that we don’t know about the “collapse of communism” as it has been described to us in the media?
Nina Karsov recently informed us, here at Frontpage Interview, of many troubling facts connected to The Triumph of Soviet Deception. Please also comment on her interview and give us your own angle.
Buchar: Thank you for the opportunity to be here.
The great political upheaval of the late 20th century—the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union—is generally regarded as the spontaneous product of long-accumulating social and economic pressures. That is the official story, which was hammered into our heads by the western media. If you try suggesting that this is not the case, the media will not take you seriously and even refuse to discuss what you are trying to say. It is a taboo topic. But the ample of evidence suggests otherwise.
During the final phase of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, under its dogmatic and visibly senile party bosses, was sinking into near-bankruptcy. Yuri Andropov, Chairman of the KGB—the only organization with both a full knowledge of the state of the economy and a mastery of strategic decisions—came to the conclusion that there was no cure for the grave illness of the communist system. To preserve the wealth that threatened to slip out of the leaders’ hands, he masterminded a nearly unthinkable program—throwing into the fire Moscow’s rule over the Eastern European bloc—and, as it turned out, the ruling party of the USSR itself. Though Andropov died in 1984, the signs of his hand in the events that followed remain visible, as well as the role of his handpicked successor, Mikhail Gorbachev. Witnesses in my book testify that what appeared to be a spontaneous freedom movement in 1989 was in fact a coup d’état orchestrated from Moscow—in the offices of the Russian KGB. Americans and Europeans no longer remember the past and don’t realize that history is now repeating itself.
Nina Karsov, in the interview with you, rightly quoted Jozef Mackiewicz referring to Western democracies as “deaf and blind men.” Western democracies never understood the Soviet system as such. The idea of deception as the foundation of foreign policy doesn’t fit into our way of thinking. Westerners can hardly comprehend a pursuit without material benefit, with strictly ideological goals based on a policy of conspiracy against other states. And that is what this is all about. We had quite a few predecessors of Perestoika in the past. We had the economic deception in the 1920s, deception of peaceful coexistence, and the ‘détente’ under the Brezhnev regime.
Deception is an essential part of communist ideology. It is a central part of communism and it will continue to be like this. As Nina rightly pointed out, “it would be hard to believe that the wolf has become a vegetarian.” Communism is indeed totalitarian and was never interested in any compromise. So, the “end of communism” proclaimed by the West is a myth. And now we can see the resurgence of communism with the help of the Western right. Instead of punishing the communists for their crimes, the Western right has extended them a hand, like a sign of apology for defeating them. As Olavo de Carvalho nicely pointed out in the interview with Alex Newman for The New American magazine, “This absurd surrender of the winners was also stimulated by powerful globalist circles, whose interest in establishing worldwide bureaucratic controls converges with the objectives of communism.”
Nina Karsov made a very important point at the end of your interview, pointing out the incremental, but rapid erosion of our own liberties here in the West, the increase of state powers over the individual, and she raised the question of whether we are approaching the victory of authoritarian and totalitarian power, under which collective thinking, uniformity and conformity will dominate. I lived in that system for thirty years before defecting to the United States. It never crossed my mind that it will catch up with me eventually. So I may say, no thank you, I have been there. I am not interested. Nina is absolutely right, people don’t see the essence of communism as a world mission. The majority of people in the West can’t even define communism. Unfortunately, they just have no idea.
FP: Tell us about the documents that Vladimir Bukovsky acquired from the KGB archives and from the confidential files of Gorbachev’s library. How come we don’t hear anything about this in the media?
Buchar: Vladimir Bukovsky got access to some KGB files in 1992 when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, being banned by Yeltsin the previous year after the coup, actually protested and disputed that ban in the Constitutional Court of Russia, frightening Yeltsin’s entourage. Yeltsin’s adviser called Bukovsky, asking him to come and help them with the court case. He agreed under the condition that they open the archives. So he had open access to secret archives during that time. He managed to scan thousands of pages into his laptop computer for half a year. That was the initial bunch of documents that he got out. Based on these documents, he published the book “Judgment in Moscow.”
Then, years later, a son of his friend in Moscow, Pavel Stroilov, became a student and without really realizing that there are copies of lots of documents, secret documents of the Politburo in the possession of the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow, he found them through the Internet by chance. What apparently happened in the turmoil of 1991 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist and Gorbachev was ousted from power, was that he actually took the trouble of making copies of almost all the files and secret documents concerning his period of power, from 1985 to 1991.
Bukovsky instructed Pavel to go to the Gorbachev Foundation, pretending that he was writing a paper for his University course and asking permission to work in the archive. Permission was granted and he was allowed to look at some parts of the archives. Being a bright young man with a good knowledge of computers, he actually broke the administration’s password and copied the entire computer. He was sending this stuff for almost a year in small portions to Vladimir in England every day. Finally, when he copied everything, he came to England. The most remarkable thing is that, two weeks after he finished copying the presidential administration files, the Putin administration learned that Gorbachev had made these documents accessible and explicitly ordered him to block all public access to these documents because they were originals and were still secret in the archives of the Politburo. So suddenly, right after Stroilov finished copying all these documents, access was closed completely. He was very lucky. Anyway, Bukovsky suddenly had 700,000 pages. He acquired transcripts of all the talks Gorbachev had with local leaders, foreign leaders, and public figures. He had all the reports by his aids, memos, the ministry of Politburo meetings, and so on and so forth. This was a huge amount of material. He admitted that digging into these files is an endless process.
Why don’t we hear anything about it? Well, we would have to ask Bukovsky and Stroilov first. I can see two major reasons. First of all, the files are in Russian and not too many people in the West can read them. All that stuff has to be translated first. Secondly, who cares? The media are not interested in bringing up the true picture of what happened and how it happened, politicians don’t want to hear it because it is an inconvenient true, and there are powerful forces who will probably try to stop any attempt to do so.
Not too many people in America realized that Judgment in Moscow was never published in English. The publisher caved in under the KGB pressure. When I met Vladimir last May in Prague, he told me he has a new book about the re-unification of Germany, what and how it really happened, but he can’t find a publisher. And from my personal experience, during the last seven years, I wasn’t able to raise a dime for my documentary and from the media I received a surprisingly uniform reply: the topic doesn’t fit our programming profile. Since my book was published last November in the Czech Republic under the title REVOLUCE 1989, no media there dared to mention it, nobody wrote a review. You figure out.
FP: Give us some information about the Soviets’ involvement in international terrorism. And I also obviously include the current Putin regime. As Pavel Stroilov explained in an interview with me awhile back, the FSB is still up to no good in that department, right?
Buchar: Pavel Stroilov is absolutely right. But I am afraid that there are not too many people in the West willing to listen, accept, or publish what he is saying. What he is saying is so politically incorrect. There has been that interesting phenomenon for a long time of the CIA systematically fogging the issue of the Soviets’ and subsequently Russians’ involvement in the international terrorism. Bill Gertz calls it the anti-anti-communist mindset.
The objective of the Soviet regime was always to overthrow the United States as the world’s leading power. The KGB fathered state sponsored terrorism and invented international terrorism in the 1960’s. Even the PLO was dreamt up by the KGB. Global terrorism as we know it was conceived at the Lubyanka. As Yuri Andropov once explained to Ion Pacepa, the Muslim world was a Petri dish in which the Russians might “nurture a virulent strain of American hatred grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought.”
There are plenty of documents proving the Russians’ involvement in international terrorism. They show how they supplied, trained, created, and governed almost every terrorist organization on earth. Vladimir Bukovsky has these documents. Starting with the Palestinians, the Red Brigades in Italy, Baider-Meinhof in Germany, Action Direct in France, ETA in Spain, IRA in Ireland and so on. They were all clients of the Soviet Union, not to mention states like Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which were terrorist states by definition who were under Soviet influence and were supplied by the Soviets. Many of these documents are available on line. People are not aware that the KGB after the end of the WW2 focused heavily on taking over the Abwehr intelligence network in Arabic countries.
It is interesting that the CIA in the 1970’s was still denying the Soviets’ involvement in international terrorism. It wasn’t till a small group of DIA people started debriefing Czech defector Gen.Jan Sejna around 1976 that the denial had no ground to stand on. By the way, Jan Sejna was never debriefed by the CIA. This is when the Soviet sponsorship of international terrorism was first laid out in detail. These analysts recognized that they couldn’t come out with this information as it was, because it would be immediately attacked by the CIA.
As Joseph Douglass explains in my book: “What they did was give the CIA the list of documents.” In the next meeting, the head of this group proceeded to discredit every single CIA source and document in an effort to kill the Defense Intelligence study. Finally, one of the analysts stood up and looked at the representative from the National Security Agency and said, “Are you going to discredit your sources too?” And the NSA guy looked back and he said, “Absolutely not. We stand by every one of those sources.” As a result of that, the idea of Soviet involvement in international terrorism finally started to surface. However, there was still a large effort to discredit it by the CIA people who controlled the NIE process and also through the various leakages to the media, which were intended to discount stories saying that the Soviet Union was a focus of international terrorism.
Today when the CIA talks about terrorism, they simply mean violence by someone we don’t like. In other words, they cannot distinguish between innocent and guilty. We cannot distinguish between good and evil.
FP: Why has the CIA and the American government for so long resisted acknowledging this reality? Indeed, while all western intelligence agencies agree that KGB/FSB/SVR activities are at the highest level ever, the CIA and the U.S. government don’t do anything about it and play down the danger and consequences of Russian support of terror.
Buchar: As Oleg Gordievsky told me, there are over 400 Russian spies operating in the US and our government does nothing about it. The CIA itself has always had a very strong, let’s say pro-socialist, pro-communist component. The actual extent of this has never been revealed till a number of intercepts known as the Venona intercepts started to be released as early as the 1990s. Among other things, they show that within U.S. intelligence, going back to the beginning of WORLD WAR II, there were at least 100 communist that they were aware of, of which some 40 percent were known Soviet agents that were not tracked down and exposed. This provides a very questionable background on certain components of our intelligence services and may help to explain a number of things. It also might explain why, and in an outlandish matter, they almost went out of their way to treat defectors as undesirable people and do everything they could in their power to stop them from talking rather than gaining information from them.
This was such a serious problem that it actually led to Congressional hearings in the mid-1970s. It got no publicity to speak of. It also perhaps helps to explain why it is that the CIA did their best to kill the idea that there was Soviet sponsorship of international terrorism back in the 1970s which continued until the ridiculous nature of their efforts was exposed in 1981 by a number of books and documents that came out and showed how the Soviet Union was indeed the primary sponsor of international terrorism. They were the only sponsor, really.
When Yuri Andropov, the KGB Chairman, ordered the assasination of the Pope, it triggered a debate within the CIA between the political appointees and the career intelligence analysts who argued over a benign, leftist view of the world and especially of the Soviet Union. They argued bitterly within the secret councils of the CIA over whether or not the Soviet Union was really behind terrorism. Again, to say the Soviets weren’t behind terrorism was kind of a naïve mindset. It was totally incorrect. They didn’t really understand that the Soviet Union was sponsoring international terrorism and that it was doing so as part of a strategy to undermine the United States and other Western governments. This was a kind of classic example of how liberal and leftist bureaucrats within the CIA and the intelligence community caused serious damage to the United States.
FP: Remind us a bit about what we learned from defectors like Anatoliy Golitsyn, Jan Sejna, Ion Pacepa, Vasili Mitrokhin, and most recently Sergei Tretyakov.
Buchar: When Anatoliy Golitsyn defected in 1961he brought a lot of valuable information about KGB penetrations that made many Western governments embarrassed. However, the most important information he brought, in his mind, was the revelation that the Soviet Union was involved in a massive deception and they had the means of succeeding in this deception, that they had established feedback within the American intelligence community and that they could monitor what was happening, and that they had put agents in place and were spreading disinformation.
That was something nobody was able or wiling to comprehend and he was quickly labelled as an unreliable conspiracy theorist. In addition to that he insisted that the CIA was penetrated by the KGB and that this created conflict within the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy. We should add that the Soviets spent a lot of energy on discrediting Golitsyn in the media and in 1962 approved a plan for his assasination. To make a long story short, in his book titled New Lies for Old in 1984, Golitsyn included 148 predictions about the “collapse of communism in Europe.“ According to researcher Mark Riebling “139 out of 148” of Golitsyn’s predictions “were fulfilled by the end of 1993. When Golitsyn slowly faded out of the spotlight in 1968, a new defector, Gen.Jan Sejna, emerged, repeating pretty much the same thing. The CIA didn’t bother to debrief him. In his 1982 book We Will Burry You, he wrote “One of the basic problems of the West is its frequent failure to recognize the existence of any Soviet ‘grand design’ at all.” And no surprise, the Czech BIS till today is still obsessed with Sejna, devoting an enormous space on its website to discredit him as a liar and crook.
Vasili Mitrokhin defected to Great Britain in 1992. Documents he brought with him helped complete the picture of the Soviets’ deception and KGB operations all around the world. It clearly revealed that the KGB saw the third world countries as the key to winning the Cold War. It should be pointed out that Mitrokhin offered his files to Americans first and they turned him down. Then he went to the British, who arranged his defection and transportation of documents from Russia. One former high-ranking CIA official told me how embarrassing it was to beg British later to see the documents. The so called “Mitrokhin’s files” also shows that KGB influence on Soviet foreign policy has been greatly underrated in the West and most of the advances in the Soviet military was achieved by covert acquisition of Western technology.
The most recent defector, Sergei Tretyakov, who defected in 2000, in the book Comrade J, is warning us: “I want to warn Americans. As people, you are very naïve about Russia and its intentions. You believe because the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia now is your friend. It isn’t, and I can show you how the SVR is trying to destroy the US even today and even more than the KGB did during the Cold War.”
FP: How come our government still doesn’t get it? Is it sort of a strategy of intentional blindness or just plain blindness? Or is there something else in play we don’t know?
Buchar: Obviously there is a lot of we don’t know and probably we will never know. We can only look at facts available and come up with our own conclusions. It is obvious that international finance is pushing hard for the New World Order, a sort of global management, perhaps as Zbigniew Brzezinski talks about. In his book The Grand Chessboard he suggests that the United States, in the near future, must cease to be the superpower and that this will lead to the creation of a new global system of government where politics will be replaced by new global management. Let me quote, for lack of better words, Olavo de Carvalho here again: “What we have is a gigantic symbiosis of all globalist and statist forces around the world. Meta-capitalists are natural allies of the communists.” The communist movement evolved, perfected to deal with dissidences, using them as instruments to adapt to local situations. It can’t get any more scary, I guess. As far as our politicians go, yes, I think we can call it the political blindness from which no meaningful strategy can arise. Unless, of course, their strategy really is global management. I am glad I am so old.
FP: What would be the consequences of admitting that the “collapse of communism” in Europe was part of a KGB plan to expand its global influence? Or is the public by now “massaged” enough not to care after all?
Buchar: The Western public is well massaged by media and “proper” education to the point they can’t comprehend what is going on and in a large part they don’t care anyway. The young generation of Americans today has no knowledge of history and can’t put in the perspective what is going on today because they have no idea what happened in the past. The people living in the former Soviet Block countries have a different experience, but experiencing the situation from “inside” makes them unable to see the big picture. A few individuals who are aware of what is going on and are concerned about it can’t avert the trend. And after all, their governments don’t even care what they think and say anymore. The new system was set up the way that nobody can change anything. Elections can be easily manipulated and the outcomes will be always the same no matter what party wins. It’s hard to imagine what will be the consequences of revealing what really happen back in 1980’s. I believe it can never be officially accepted. Not in my lifetime.
FP: With Obama in power, do you think we are inevitably heading toward socialism in the USA? What are the chances, in your view, in terms of how things are going, that socialism may finally rule the world? If yes, who can legitimately claim credit for it?
Buchar: You know, as serious as it is, from my perspective, it’s almost funny. I feel like experiencing an amazing déjàvu. It started with the Clinton administration and now it’s picking up the speed. Many things I see happening I remember from my previous life in communist Czechoslovakia. In politics, academia, media… it looks to me like the current government is following the old textbook written in Moscow in the last century when the Soviets were taking over the Eastern Europe. But, of course, people here don’t know anything about it. Politicians and the media perfected the process of indoctrination. Deception got very sophisticated. Masses without any knowledge of history in today “now-culture” can be manipulated on a daily basis. A recent Rasmussen poll asked a simple question, “Which is a better system—capitalism or socialism?” Only 53% of American adults said capitalism. Even the same question was asked young adults under 30, 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided.
Obviously, the scale is tipping off. Decades of intensive Soviet deception are finally paying off. We have a young generation now without any idealism and values. In this conformist society, people just follow the orders. It’s all about manipulation. The direct control is not efficient anymore; influence instead is a much better tool.
On March 2, 2010, The Moscow Times published the article Russian Mafia Abroad Now 300,000 Strong. It is now estimated that so-called Russian Mafia controls 95% of organized crime globally. That includes drug trafficking, money laundering, black market, and so on. At the end, the article points out that Moscow has nothing to do with it, because most of these people have no Russian passports anymore, being citizens of other countries. What a convenient conclusion. Oleg Gordievsky means otherwise:
“The KGB started to control different business organizations where the Mafia was strong. Gradually they began replacing the Mafia. So, in a way, today it’s less organized crime and more KGB, which is now called the FSB. Around the whole world, especially in countries like Austria, Spain, and Hungary, there are a lot of organizations and activities that look like the Mafia. But practically all of it is run by the KGB/FSB.”
And Joe Douglass adds:
“There is a massive amount of money out there. It’s perfectly adequate to achieve all the corruption at high political levels, the highest, and to influence all the elections you want around the world with absolutely no trouble at all. And not only this, but the amount of money is so large that you really don’t care what the precise figures are because it doesn’t really matter.”
People in America believe that the idea of global socialism is dead. But it is not. If you look at its development in Europe and Latin America, you see that there is now more socialism than ever before. Because of public opinion, or rather, the media, political parties, political movements, parliaments, and institutions are all becoming more and more socialist. And now in the United States we are really picking up speed in that direction. Back in communist Czechoslovakia we used to have a saying “Socialism is a long and rocky road to capitalism.” I think soon we may reverse this saying “Capitalism is a long and rocky road to socialism.”
As a sceptic, I would say, yes we are heading toward socialism in America and there is no power to turn the ship around. But at the bottom of my heart I believe there is something special about the American people that common sense will prevail at the end and America will survive. But who knows. A regime predicated on economic optimism cannot accept the negative implications of ongoing Russian enmity. No effective counter-strategy is likely to emerge from Washington.
FP: Robert Buchar, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.