October Surprise

october surprise“…With colours fairer painted their foul ends.”

(The Tempest, act 1, sc. 2)

We are approaching the 35th anniversary of the so-called “October Surprise” of 1980. Given the workings of the inaudible and noiseless foot of time (1) most will probably have forgotten, or may have stored the event in what is loosely called the “historic memory” – that is, something occurred in the past, to be remembered only by the determined few. Which is a falsification of meaning, for history is the fabric of the present –  and by relegating history to a forgotten past, we obstruct our very understanding of the present.

In the instance, the “October Surprise”, is at the root of the events leading to 9/11, to the destruction of several countries, (and still ongoing) – let alone the unrestrained triumph of neo-liberal economics, exceptionalism, imperialism, class struggle in reverse and other consequences. But we know that unpleasant truths are likely to fade in natural or assisted evanescence. And for the world at large, “memory, the warder of the brain, shall be a fume,”(2) at least for certain events.

Of course, the malignant actors who engineered the affair ever denied that they did, notwithstanding circumstantial evidence more massive than the Empire State Building – their denial supported, then as now, by the servile mainstream media. As with (later) 9/11, and with a mounting collection of false flag events, the media dismissed and dismisses the disbelievers as “conspiracy theorists.”

Now relevant documents are being released from the official archives, following the so-called “freedom of information” act. Which is a deplorable euphemism. Keeping secret the misdeeds of government is rather “freedom of disinformation,” to ensure the deniability of sundry crimes. And woe to the whistleblowers, as we well know.

The released ‘October Surprise’ documents prove what until now was a theory, officially denied. The denial, at the time of the event, made sense. For an uncalled intrusion of truth could have caused the impeachment of the new president. It was therefore necessary to fight the truth with the usual weapons of prejudice and imposture.

But let’s begin from the proverbial beginning. In 1976, by a fortuitous coincidence of favorable circumstances, America elected Jimmy Carter as president, notwithstanding his lack of formidable financial supporters. In fact, much of his financing came from an indefatigable and grueling effort at canvassing support, mostly from small donors. But America was tired of the Watergate scandal and of other cover-ups. Furthermore, the immediately previous president had just signed America’s final defeat in Vietnam, with the indelible pictures of helicopters thrown into the sea to make room for others, carrying to the evacuating ships the fleeing collaborators of the hated regime.

And Carter had a simple message that, at the time, sounded (and actually still sounds,) revolutionary, “I tell the truth.” Compare with Clinton’s “I never had sex with that woman.” – when the mainstream media endorsed the notion that a president can openly lie to the nation with impunity and get away with it.

Carter’s revolutionary commitment to truth (promised and maintained), was further strengthened by another remarkable achievement. He has been the only US President during whose term no war was declared, no country invaded, no bomb dropped, and no missile launched.

I ask my 25 readers for patience, because the so-called October Surprise cannot be examined or explained without considering the antecedents.

One other remarkable Carter’s achievement was the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The “UN Resolution 242,” calling for Israel to return to their legitimate nations the territories invaded during the war of aggression of 1967, was worth less than toilet paper. In the circumstances, Carter moved gradually to achieve the unthinkable – the reconciliation between two historic enemies, with the Camp David agreement, accompanied by the return of the Sinai Peninsula to its right owner.

For this the Zionist  cabal never forgave Carter. Unwarranted invention? This is what we read in the document “Israel Strategy for the 1980s”, written by think-tanker Oden Ynon (in Hebrew) and translated by Israel Shahak, professor of chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights.

“Regaining the Sinai peninsula with its present and potential resources is therefore a political priority which is obstructed by the Camp David and the peace agreements. …. and we will have to act in order to return the situation to the status quo which existed in Sinai prior to Sadat’s visit and the mistaken peace agreement signed with him in March 1979.”

In a very small way I can attest to how Sinai was viewed in Israel after 1967. I travelled to the Israeli-occupied Sinai peninsula to visit the famous Greek Orthodox St. Catherine’s Monastery.

St. Catherine MonasteryOn the bus conducting visitors from the airport to the site, the Israeli guide started her presentation by saying (I paraphrase), “Welcome to the land of Israel, for the Sinai will forever be part of Israel.”

One way to wreak vengeance on Carter was to disrupt the economy via the banking system. And so it came to pass that, for reasons still unexplained, at the end of Carter’s first term interest rates jumped to record heights. This did not necessarily penalize everyone. Therefore that spike in interest rates would have been probably insufficient to remove Carter from office. But a new unanticipated opportunity presented itself, from Iran of all places.

I must summarize and only relate the essentials. As we know, in 1954, the US and UK, or rather, the CIA and its UK counterpart, organized a “color revolution”, removing the democratically elected Mossadegh, who had dared to nationalize the foreign-controlled oil companies. The “color revolution” converted a nominally constitutional king (Shah Reza Pahlavi) into a de facto colonial ruler, executing the West’s commands. The oil companies were promptly restored to their (un)rightful owners.

Pahlavi could be defined as a secular Muslim, who gradually lost support from the clergy and from the working class. The working class could have been  ignored, but ignoring the clergy was a mistake. For, however perhaps unwittingly, his secularization and modernization program was antithetic to what we can call traditional Islamic culture.

I still remember one of the main thoroughfares of Tehran, acquiring the tell tale signs of the Las Vegas strip. Plenty of American fast-food franchises, high fashion boutiques and night clubs with European imported strippers.

The elites considered themselves an extension of flashy Western culture and did not hide it – fancy country clubs, fancy European cars and fancy European mistresses. Plus the usual display of glitter against a population in Islamic garb and still shopping in colorful bazaars, which are the antithesis of the American shopping mall.

No place here for generalized value judgments. However, we all know the position of women in Muslim culture – which, in the case of Iran, and certainly Tehran, is much less constricted than the media wants us to believe. Women attend college, teach and hold important managerial positions – but all this within the bounds of what Islamic custom sees the normality of women.

Furthermore, corruption had become rampant, the Shah administration had installed a Persian version of the NSA and Guantanamo – the notorious Savak secret police and prisons. In short, the perceived evils of the regime were attributed to the Shah, as direct agent of the “Great Satan”, as the Ayatollah Khomeini called the US.

After the event (the Islamic Revolution), we can only infer that the American Embassy and its CIA assets underestimated the force of religion as a revolutionary coagulant. We know the rest. The US Embassy was occupied and its employees held prisoners for 444 days.

The occupation seemed (and was), a preposterous disregard of the fundamental rules of diplomacy. The plot was hatched at the University of Tehran. The explanation given was a fear that the US would engineer another coup, as they did with the elected prime minister Mossadegh.

With the wisdom of the aftertimes, and knowing all that transpired, also thanks to new information channels, the students, however misguided, had a point.

Back in America, the event put Carter in a very difficult position, while the Zionists could finally exact their revenge. The regime media did not miss one day without opening the nightly news with the segment, “Nth Day of Imprisonment of our Hostages.”

The Carter administration first tried a military rescue, the ill-fated “Operation Eagle Claw”, used by the media to bombard the audience with claims of “Carter’s ineffectiveness.”

For those who have read so far, we finally reach the core of the issue.

In the Summer of 1980 Carter struck a deal, with the newly-elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr, to release the fifty-two hostages in the embassy.

Bani-Sadr was a moderate and, in an interview by the Christian Science Monitors, he said,

“I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign…. I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote…. Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it (hostage-taking).”

Carter was confident that, with Bani-Sadr’s cooperation, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side, ever since it began in November of 1979.

But Carter underestimated the lengths his opponent would go to undo him, in the 1980 Presidential election. Behind Carter’s back, the Reagan camp negotiated with the leaders of Iran’s radical faction to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 Presidential election.

This was nothing short of treason. The Reagan campaign’s secret negotiations with Khomeini – the so-called “October Surprise” – sabotaged Carter and Bani-Sadr’s attempts to free the hostages. But we know too well that in certain high places, treason and corruption are winning and competitive brands.

Not surprisingly, following the secret negotiations of iniquity with the Reagan cartel, Iran released the hostages only on January 20, 1981 – the timing to coincide with the exact moment when Reagan was sworn into office.

The “October Surprise” emboldened the radical forces inside Iran. Weakened politically, Bani-Sadr was overthrown in 1981 and replaced with the radical Mohammed Ali Rajai – a Khomeini’s favorite. The same radicalism has defeated US attempts to reach an agreement with Iran, a subject of contention even now, 35 years later.

Equally, the October Surprise, prime cause of Carter’s defeat at the polls, led indirectly to the deaths of thousands of innocent people around the world and the list would be long. Reagan’s deal also included the sale of arms to Iran via Israel. The money from that sale was used to finance the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who destroyed entire villages, people and children. Not only in Nicaragua but Salvador and Guatemala.

As I am writing this, the president of Guatemala was just forced to resign and jailed on corruption charges – though the families of thousands of victims hope to have him also tried for genocide. We should also mention the slaughter of Archbishop Romero of San Salvador, and the Catholic nuns, by liberators trained in the School of the Americas.

It would be tedious and redundant to describe the elaborate machinations and cover-ups in the plot to inform Reagan of Carter’s plan to free the hostages, so that Reagan could scuttle it.

The plot, or at least its essential parts, became known at the time and were even documented. But the media wanted none of it. For Newsweek, for example, Reagan’s treason was “a complete fabrication.” Which should be no surprise. For the public has been educated to expect assertions rather than explanations – actually, to esteem the former valuable and the latter useless. Besides, the regime media routinely reserves an exuberance of acknowledgment only or especially for those excellencies, which, in the end, are subsumed in one word and one word only, power and the son of power, money.

We know how willingly does the world support those who display glitter, against those who command reverence. And what can be more glittery than an actor, however marginal as such. Reagan inaugurated the era of “exceptionalism”, where arrogance seems recommended as the supply of every defect, and the ornament of every (supposed) excellence. Where mediatic self-assurance, being esteemed as a virtue, becomes the scaffold of pretence  and the complement of  falsehood.

As an example, some will remember Reagan’s assuring one-liner that the solution of critical problems cannot be found in the government, for “the government is the problem.” While quietly its size increased by 300 thousands during his administration.

It is a sign of Carter’s honor and nobility that he did not pursue any claims nor made any derogatory declarations, after the government’s official inquiry on the “October Surprise” cleared Reagan of any wrongdoings.

What Carter has accomplished in the following years is worthy of several Nobel premiums. Considering that Noble peace prizes were bestowed on the notorious war criminal and moral monster, Henry Kissinger and even on Obama with his killing lists.

Furthermore, while Israel was (once more in 2014), razing Gaza with bombs and massacring people and children by the thousands, all 535 senators and congressmen, said that “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Carter has been the only statesman to declare that Israel is an apartheid state and that the US is no longer a democracy. For, Israel aside, we are now beholding without abhorrence what turpitude has laid open, and deception has surrounded with glory and fanfare, namely American “humanitarian” wars to destroy states, turning them into ISIS-style chaos.

Finally, had Carter won re-election, there is no question that America would be a dramatically better country today, and so would be the world. It is a vindication for him, however late, that the previously secret evidence of the “October Surprise” is disclosed.

It should also be a powerful lesson, confirming that whatever the government says, is not true until officially denied. And, given the history of the following 35 years, we can say (of the “October Surprise”), that,

“... in such indexes, although small pins (relatively)
To their subsequent volumes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large.” (3)

Here are some of the things that came at large – the mass-slaughter in Central America, the arming of the “Freedom Fighters” in Afghanistan, quickly converted into enemies when their initial function was over, the bombing and disgregation of Yugoslavia, 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the murder of its president and of over a million Iraqis, the related death of 5000 US soldiers, the destruction of Libya and the assassination of its president. While attempts are current with Syria and Yemen, sundry CIA and/or Soros-backed “orange revolutions” are extant and/or in progress. Plus massive spying at home, unprecedented incarceration, the war on terror reduced to a war on the poor, the class-struggle in reverse and the occupation of government by the neo-cons. The list may be longer, but let the patient reader complete it.

Of course, neo-liberals and neo-cons will dismiss the notion that the source of such dreadful and deadly consequences may be traced to the “October Surprise”. Which is hardly surprising, given the neo-liberal frame of mind. For the self-love of neo-liberals and neo-cons is rather arrogant than blind. It does hide their faults or crimes from themselves, but persuades them that they can escape the notice of others, and disposes them to resent censures, lest they should confess them to be true.

To billions worldwide the US’ posture towards the world seems absurd. As absurd, let alone criminal, was to lengthen by 6 months the harrowing imprisonment of 52 Americans to win an election. But the absurdities of governments do not need to be justified or appear realistic because, unfortunately, they are true. Unlike art, where, in order to be true, absurdities need to be realistic.

1) All’s Well That Ends Well
2) Macbeth
3) Troilus and Cressida

In the play.“…With colours fairer painted their foul ends.” Prospero, exiled Duke of Milan, explains to his daughter Miranda how his brother Antonio deposed him with a “color revolution.”  After which, Prospero and daughter barely escaped to a remote island in the Tyrrhenian sea, where the play takes place.

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  • Jim Bryan

    Good read Jimmy. I was only 23 at the time and all of that escaped me.