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Haditha Ethics - From Iraq to Iran?

The Spokesman, 91


Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World, Allen Lane, Penguin Press, 720 pages, ISBN 0713993596 £30


The Mitrokhin Archive began to appear in England at the very end of the last century. It burst into the British newspapers as the source of a host of stories about Melita Norwood, an old lady who stood exposed as the most persistent Soviet Spy in Europe, a great-grandmother who earned the intriguing headline in The Times: ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Co-op’. Mitrokhin was another intrepid spy, for the other side, and it was his revelation which brought fame to that one grandma. Mitrokhin, by contrast, smuggled numerous documents from the KGB’s archives to his summer dacha, and thence to the West, when he took flight.


Now the second volume considers KGB successes in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Far East, Africa, Latin and Central America and the Middle East. According to Mitrokhin’s dossier, 10.6 million rupees were spent in the single year 1975 alone, in order to assist the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi.  Further considerable sums were expended in manufacturing evidence of CIA and Pakistani intelligence machinations in the growth of Sikh separatism.


Mitrokhin claims that the Russians spent $400,000 on subsidising the Communists in Chile as well as making a donation of $50,000 to Allende. But, surprise, surprise: the CIA spent $425,000 trying to undermine Allende. ‘Their dollars were targeted far less effectively than the KGB’s roubles’, claims Mitrokhin, which is apparently why Allende was killed and we got a prolonged period of terror at the hands of the victorious murderer, Pinochet.


The KGB appears to have been in similar difficulties to those encountered by Western intelligence agencies, in making sense of events in Iraq, and deciding whether it wanted to bring an end to Saddam’s rule in Baghdad or not. Support for the Iraqi Communist Party was therefore somewhat sporadic. According to Mitrokhin, it was the persistent advocacy of four members of the Politburo which persuaded Brezhnev to authorise Russian military intervention in Afghanistan.   The KGB was then let loose, to get rid of the Afghan leader Amin, using all the wiles of which James Bond was an intimate familiar. Mitrokhin also records the adventures of the KGB in Cuba and in Southern Africa.


What emerges from all of this derring-do, and all this lavish expenditure, is a mixed result, but by no means a triumph for the spooks. Of course, the spooks will have got their wages, and, as in other countries, will very seldom come unstuck when their schemes misfire. But is it not the same the whole world over? Clandestine events bring clandestine happiness to a legion of happy conmen, without often changing political outcomes one iota.


Andrew James















Independent News Collective


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