Podcast Show #11

The Boiling Frogs Presents Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald

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Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald discuss Afghanistan and how US foreign policy and military decisions are based on miscalculated and misunderstood Afghanistan politics, history, and culture. They talk about the ‘real’ history of Afghanistan; how the media misled the public by not laying out the fundamental facts about what was really going on, and the consequences; the differences between Pakistani Taliban and Afghani Taliban, and how our policy since 2001 has been emboldening them; the role of Pashtuns; and more!

Fitzgerald & Gould Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began their experience in Afghanistan when they were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, Afghanistan Between Three Worlds, for PBS. In 1983 they returned to Kabul with Harvard Negotiation project director Roger Fisher for ABC Nightline and contributed to the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. They continued to research, write and lecture about the long-term run-up that led to the US invasion of Afghanistan. They are featured in an award winning documentary by Samira Goetschel. Titled, Our own Private Bin Laden which traces the creation of the Osama bin Laden mythology in Afghanistan and how that mythology has been used to maintain the "war on terror" approach of the Bush administration. Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story published by City Lights, January 2009 chronicles their three-decade-focus on Afghanistan and the media.

Here are our guests Elizabeth Gould & Paul Fitzgerald unplugged!

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  1. Another plug for \"Three Cups of Tea\" by Craig Mortenson. In the 70\’s I traveled overland through Afghanistan. Herat was the location of opium dens. It was surreal even for some like myself that did not do drugs. In Kabul, wealthy merchants wanted to know if I would marry their daughter and take her out of the country. The most startling moment came when buying a pomegranate and looking into the eyes of an Afghani desert man. It was like looking into the eyes of a tiger, very psychic, and very fierce. I sat with the Hindu travelers in the back of the bus. We were second class citizens. I escaped out of Kabul two days before the first coup that closed the border. I learned of it in Peshawar or I would have been stuck in Afghanistan for months.

  2. Nice job as always with these shows.

    And, I’m thinking about getting a coffee mug as well :).

  3. Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street worker who created the CDSes airs Wall Street Dirty Laundry. She says the securities and derivatives were created out of thin air and are not based on anything tangible. She also discusses the motivations of Wall Street workers. IT’s all about ego!


  4. What legal fig leaf is the OBOMBA WH using to continue to wage war against Afghanistan?

    The “Authorization to Use Military Force” was passed by Congress in to provide cover to wage wars against ‘those who attacked us on 9/11.”

    Since the Taliban had NOTHING to do with 9/11, how can they justify more bloodshed and getting involved further w/o another AUMF? Not that Congress has the balls to actually declare war, since the last time that happened was back in December 1941.

    And what’s with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who set a record for the number of times he was waterboarded, being named the “9/11 Mastermind?”

    Wasn’t Bin Laden the ‘9/11 Mastermind?’ And how many ‘masterminds’ can one caper have?

    Good thing I’m a good citizen that always flys the flag, gets teary-eyed whenver I hear the “Star Spangled Banner” and only use FOX for my news source or I might think the ‘Wars for Wall Street and Israel’ crowd are pulling a fast one.

  5. Al Qaeda is a complete fabrication. By all accounts, Osama bin Laden has been dead for eight years. Mullah Omar, on the other hand, is by all accounts alive and well, living in Pakistan and kicking U.S. and NATO butt as the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan. How can this be? The Taliban was originally organized, funded armed and brought to power the ISI. It would seem that ISI is continuing this policy. There is also terrorism against the Pakistan government by what is characterized as “Pakistani Taliban”. Are these people also being backed by ISI against their own government? It would seem perfectly possible. ISI does what it wants and is not under the control of the weak “democratic government” of Pakistan – much as United States covert operations are no longer under the control of our weak “democratic government”. If fact, what it looks like to me is that the same network of covert operatives in the U.S. and Pakistan who were in on 9/11 continue to protect Mullah Omar and arm the Taliban on both sides of the border.

  6. And now for something completely different…a wild burst of elation.

    WOOHOO! Sibel Edmonds and crew at Boiling Frogs, I love you!

    I’ve been on about the power of myth, to jack electorates to hell and back, sticking us with the bill both ways, for two years now this month, using the neologism “myth-jacking,” to denote the deliberate crafting of mythologies tailored to specific voting blocs, in order to jack them like so many two-legged voting machines.

    You may be very interested in the fact that Joseph Campbell himself lectured at State’s Foreign Service Institute, beginning in 1956. I’m convinced that someone, almost certainly on the Right and in the intelligence community (perhaps the notorious “crazies”), has taken Campbell’s powerful lessons to heart.

    So when I read the description of this podcast, my heart leapt. It was none other than Phillip Zelikow, then a top adviser to Condi “KindaLiesALot” Rice, who tipped me off to the method of myth-jacking. I read somewhere just a snippet of him saying something about the great importance of myths in shaping history. He wrote many of PNAC’s most influential white papers, including, of course, the one in which they look forwardx to another Pearl Harbor, in the aftermath of which (now I remember!) Zelikow emphasized the importance of the power of myth, to recreate reality.

    IMO, that’s the power the drives the Shock Doctrine.

    And then, lo and behold! Zelikow turns up as executive director of the 9/11 whitewash commission. As we all know, his report relies on evidence manufactured to order by torture, with the specific intent of using it in support of a myth deployed in domestic black psy ops.

    But of course, it’s not just PZ. Did you know, o sister my courageous Sister Sibel, that Karl Rove calls himself by not one or even two, but by the names of three mythical monsters? His entire career has been one long series of jacking electorates with carefully, masterfully crafted myths.

    Rove’s Monday Whoppers

    By Scott Horton, Harpers.org February 26, 2008

    He calls himself “Grendel,” “Moby Dick,” and “Lord Voldemort.” He is the man ever behind the scenes, manipulating and driving the events on the surface without being seen. His hand is behind the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys and his manipulations were a conscious effort to put federal prosecutors to work for partisan political purposes. And his involvement is so sensitive that the White House had adopted a scorched earth policy to thwart all Congressional efforts to probe it. Karl Rove won’t appear before Congress, deliver up his documents showing his communications or dealings with Justice Department matters or raise his hand, swear an oath and testify. But he has no compunction about talking about these matters on Fox News, where he knows he’ll get one fluff ball after the next and never be asked for follow-up. Moreover, he knows that Fox will go to the mat, and will dispense falsehoods to protect him, one of their own.

    For these and many other reasons, IMO, myth-jacking is the start of the art in manufacturing consent.

    So thanks for the Web site, Sister, I look forward to visiting often.

    (who’s there?)
    (buddha who?)

    Pardon my enthusiasm, this is what I’m always on about. I’ll post just once more today.

    Back in July of this year, I read three articles on this subject: the first from Pepe Escobar regarding Pakistan’s use of myth-jacking; Robert Parry’s description of the “gap between American rhetoric and reality” that widened under Bush; and then Ali Abunimah’s article on the US’s double game aka “the Peace Process.”

    So, with your permission, here’s the email I sent Ali Abunimah about it:

    O brother, my Brother Ali, yours is the third article I’ve read today regarding the process of managing electorates I call myth-jacking.

    Pepe Escobar: Pakistan’s army leaders have been masters of the double game since the 1980s. Could you briefly describe how they deploy their stealth?

    Arif Jamal: Actually, the strategy of playing a double game is as old as the country. When British India was partitioned into two dominions in 1947, Pakistan faced an enemy in India which was several times bigger, more populated, resourceful and most importantly militarily more powerful. It was not good sense to take on a far more powerful enemy in a conventional military way.

    Pakistani military strategist Colonel Akbar Khan conceived the concept of jihad to offset the lack of military balance between the two emerging enemies. Akbar Khan’s concept of jihad was no more than subversion in the enemy country, but it was couched in jihadi terms. He himself took over the grand-sounding name of a Muslim conqueror as his nom de guerre.

    From that time onwards, the Pakistani military leaders kept inciting the local Muslim population in the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to subversion and turning subversion into a guerrilla war until 1980, when they decided to wage a real jihad in Afghanistan [against the Soviets]. At the same time, Pakistan never abandoned the diplomatic option of resolving its conflicts with India. The Pakistan army supported a full-scale anti-Soviet jihad or subversive guerrilla war in Afghanistan. Publicly, Pakistan denied any support to the Afghan mujahideen. The only time Pakistan claimed responsibility for subversion in a neighboring country was when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan [in 1989]. It was a victory for the jihad policy.

    And then I read Robert Parry’s latest:

    And, at least inside and near the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush’s “global war on terror” appears to have recreated what was known during the Vietnam War as Operation Phoenix, a program that assassinated Vietcong cadre, including suspected communist backers.

    Through a classified Pentagon training program known as “Project X,” the lessons of Operation Phoenix from the 1960s were passed on to Third World armies, especially in Latin America, giving a green light to some of the “dirty wars” that swept the region, causing tens of thousands of political murders, widespread use of torture, and secret detentions.

    Bush’s alleged plan for global hit teams also has similarities to “Operation Condor” in which South American right-wing military regimes in the 1970s sent assassins on cross-border operations to eliminate “subversives.”

    Despite quiet support and encouragement for Latin American “death squads” through much of the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. government presented itself as the standard-bearer for human rights and criticized American adversaries that engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detentions.

    That gap between American rhetoric and reality widened after 9/11 as Bush announced his “global war on terror,” while continuing to impress the American news media with pretty words about his commitment to human rights — as occurred in his address to the United Nations on Sept. 25, 2007.

    Under Bush’s double standards, he took the position that he could override both international law and the U.S. Constitution in deciding who would get basic human rights and who wouldn’t. He saw himself as the final judge of whether people he deemed “bad guys” should live or die, or possibly face indefinite imprisonment and torture.

    Yet, whatever Bush and other higher-ups approved as “rules of engagement,” the practice of murdering unarmed suspects — especially after they’ve been detained — violated the law of war and could have opened up the offending country’s chain of command to war-crimes charges.

    And now, this from you:

    “While all the attention is focused on the freeze, Israel maintains its siege of Gaza — despite Obama’s calls to loosen it — and continues to build the West Bank wall five years after the International Court of Justice ordered it torn down. The United States itself continues to undermine chances for intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and therefore credible negotiations, by fueling the smoldering civil war between US-backed Palestinian militias on the one hand and resistance factions led by Hamas on the other.

    On the outside Israelis may be crying about US “pressure” but on the inside they must be quietly smiling.”

    Is this not the same “double game”? Compare what Pakistan and the US have done: is this the same method implemented by Israel, too?

    Joseph Campbell began lecturing at State’s Foreign Services Institute in 1956. Obviously, someone–besides George Lucas and The Grateful Dead–has taken his powerful lessons to heart.

    The power of myth is being used to power weapons-grade domestic propaganda the world over.

    As a poet and grad student of psychology, let me ask: How are the Pentagon’s 27,000 “influence operators” manipulating us away from holding war criminals to account?

    Facts don’t move electorates; myths do.

    This is absolutely crucial: ‘Myth’ is not synonymous with ‘lie;’ a myth is a metaphorical image of the composition and functioning of the cosmos that shapes the world in which we are presently enacting this wholly absurd theater of life.

    This Is How We Do It

    National myths deliver us as a people into our Promised or Waste Land, exactly as we load them with our intentions: passengers into life boats, or kittens into burlap sacks?

    Our myths, our shared narratives, are as indispensable as a mother’s womb.

    Benign or malign, either way we get taken for a ride. As Americans, we need to direct our own passage, but we aren’t educated and socialized to be self-sovereign citizens.

    Instead, we’re taught to be loyal subjects, fans, of a political master of a mechanical universe; to shut up and do as we’re told; to demonstrate our loyalty by our fervor when presented with patriotic symbols.

    After all, the Big Man Upstairs Knows Best, right?

  8. D’oh, left out the link to AA’s article.

    Date: July 16th 2009

    Obama’s prizes for Israel are not “pressure”

    By Ali Abunimah

    The Electronic Intifada
    16 July 2009


  9. I bow in all y’all’s virtual directions.

    Speaking of using the power of myth to power weapons-grade domestic propaganda, here’s a comment I put together yesterday in the comment section of Attaturk’s blog post, It’s What They Do Best, at Firedoglake.


    In this version, I use a shortened Joseph Campbell quote to elucidate what I see as the mythological roots of our present dilemmas.

    What ails us today? Is it the stature and positioning of our modern moai? Would it help if we rearrange the moai while desolating the earth? Obviously not.

    What ails us? It’s the mythology! The one that intends the cosmos that grows the societies that grow the psychos who think raping Mother Earth for all she’s worth is the very epitome of the “good life.”


    Dave “knowbuddhau” Parker
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Seattle Buddhism Examiner

    knowbuddhau November 25th, 2009 at 11:10 am


    In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 8 (show text)

    Very interesting, thanks for digging into the roots of the terms.

    You remind me of a passage from Joseph Campbell’s brilliant little book, Thou Art That: transforming religious metaphor, in chapter 5 of which he discusses the bizarre divorce of masculine and feminine divinities in our traditions, and the hellish effects of the banishment of the goddess as an embodiment of nature and the demand for exclusive devotion to a patriarchal, anti-nature war god.

    TCU, your post is an example of the advice Campbell gives at the end of the passage quoted below. Well done.

    Please pardon the length, this is a rarely discussed topic that I believe offers the most helpful insights to our present dilemmas. As a Joseph Campbell Foundation associate, I’m taking the liberty to post it despite its length.

    Joseph Campbell. (2001). Thou Art That: transforming religious metaphor: ch. 5, pp.47-50. New World Library: Novato, CA.

    When the Dead Sea Scrolls and the other desert scrolls were unearthed at midcentury, scholars discovered that one of these early Jewish writings, called “The War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness,” was sheer Zoroastrianism. The Zoroastrian influence, particularly on the Hebrew community, is represented in the work of the Essenes. We have, therefore, in the Bible itself, this concept of the world as wrong. Consequently, throughout the Old Testament one reads of the kings who, in the sight of Yahweh, do well to wipe out the nature religions. These stories represent a tension between two totally different mythologies. One is of the goodness of nature, with which individuals try to harmonize themselves. That is considered a virtuous and healthy and humanly sustaining act. The other sees nature negatively and the person’s choice is to say “no” to it, and to pull away from it.

    I deem this distinction of mythologies very important. We have the nature mythologies, which put us in touch with our own nature. But there also exist, one must note, antinature mythologies. These are the mythologies of the nomadic people.


    No good is accomplished by throwing the message out. All the messages of myth, from the period of the agricultural people on, are talking about that which constitutes the values of one’s life, and of all lives. Finally, the message is right there, in this very thing that seems to be blocking you because it is taken literally instead of metaphorically. Then, especially as all the different horizons within which myth has grown up are broken, we realize that, since we are all together on one planet, we must begin to read our own mythology as something that refers not just to us, but, as in conjunction with all mythologies expressed through metaphor, to everyone.

    It is of great importance to remember the cycle, if you will, that I have already mentioned. As the patriarchal mythologies rose in strength they put down the Mother Goddess mythologies. The Mother Goddess mythologies then reasserted themselves, as, for example, in the seventh century B.C. or so in Greece when they rose again in the Eleusinian Mysteries, the wonderful mystery religions. In India they also returned and the Goddess remains the principal deity in India. Kali, in one of her various forms, is Shakti, the energy that informs all of life. Thus, the myths do return in relationship one to the other.

    Let us begin, then, to look again for the teeming life within texts and traditions that may seem fixed and dead. . . .

    (Thou art that : transforming religious metaphor / Joseph Campbell ; edited with an introduction by Eugene Kennedy, pp.47-50.

    BRII5.L25 €36 2OOI

    First printing, October 2001
    ISBN 1-57731-202-3)

    Who doesn’t see the “party of no” in this? In their hearts and minds, war is the way the world was made by a male god to work in favor of males in the rightful conquest of all things feminine, esp. Mother Nature.

    Therefore, IMO, metaphorically speaking, we need the power of the Mother Goddess to assert Herself and heal the planet from within.

    That means turning away from war and towards Mother’s healing virtues. What would our world be like if we had spent all the money we have on war over the last 60-some years on education? On programs that provide maternity leave, pre-natal health care and post-natal well-baby care? Schools, libraries, cultural centers, instead of war rooms? Etc.

    Mythology provides means by which we can envision our future, dream it into being, then make it happen. “The [cosmogonic] cycle goes from dream, to vision, to reality,” Campbell taught. That’s how we make sh!t happen.

    What future do we have in mind? Are we all pulling in the same direction? Comparative mythology helps us answer just exactly these kinds of questions.

  10. You guys do a great job, but this time you let them off the hook too many times. They claim they did not look at who was profiting from the heroin trade because they were “only looking at political trends.” What? It did not occur to these two that the US was organizing, producing, exporting, and being paid for the bulk of the Afghan heroin, just like in Vietnam, Laos, and Burma in the 1960s and 1970s.

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