The All-American Girl from the CIA and Hizb ut-Tahrir
She was born in England, but on her photo Ms. Fiona Hill, a newly appointed CIA National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia, looks like an All-American Girl: all pure goodness, moral solidity, energy, and idealism. Indeed, her colleagues praise her for intelligently “balanced” approach to Russia and good “common sense,”not a small achievement at all in the world of “Russian experts” advising the US political class.
But upon some research, which included a generous contribution from my colleague and friend Vadim Stolz, I had to conclude that this appearance was deceptive. Before I come to the peculiar case of Fiona's romance with the underground Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, I wish to make several observations of a general nature. I find absolutely delicious this comment by Ms. Hill in her "balanced" article on the Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky, now doing time in a Siberian labor camp:
"His personal success even made Russia look good--it was seen as a country where vast fortunes could be made." 1
A phrase like this should be sufficient to understand on whose service Ms. Hill has been employed and whose ideology she has imbibed as her own. She looks at Russia, as any other nation, from a perspective, inconceivable for the moral imagination of 99.9 percent of mankind. If anything the opposite idea would occur to these poor suckers, namely that there must be something terribly wrong with the devastated and white-bled country where "vast fortunes" can be made. But it is this 0.1 percent who really matters (and pays!), doesn't it?
Like so many of her colleagues, Ms. Hill's “scholarly” interests concentrate on Russia's soft underbelly: the Caucasus, the Caspian and the Central Asia, i.e.,. where oil, geopolitics, and ...good salaries are. She had her internship at the organization called Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project (SDI), whose pilot project is Caspian Studies Program. SDI—an analytical-intelligence organization, magnanimously concerned with "human rights"in Russia and... Caspian oil fields, is staffed exclusively with the paragons of universal human values. Ms. Hill's boss there was Graham Ellison of the private Council for Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, deputy defense minister under Clinton and a big time oilman--seasoned class fighter on the service of big capital, as they used to say in the Soviet Union. We published a material on him several years back.
Fiona Hill's articles for the last five or so years that I have read do not strike me as particularly original. It is a mainstream, officious "political science" US style, paid for mostly by right-wing think tanks. This ideologically stifling and highly formulaic discourse somehow reminds me the language of the old Soviet "critique" of religion in Pravda and Nauka i zhizn.
Her statements and commentaries on the developments in Russia remain invariably consonant with those of the mainstream advisors to the US political class and appear to have in mind same objectives, namely: following the US government's proclamation of the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the Central Asia the areas of U.S. "national interest and security," the weakening of Russia's influence there and attempting to get a foothold within Russia as such by encouraging ethnic separatism, pressing for Russia's "restrain" in fighting it (the Yugoslavia model), and, generally, obtaining as much leverage as possible to cause Russia pain when bargaining chips are needed. Ms. Hill is also very much in the fold in terms of the rhetoric and the set of arguments used to justify the US and Nato's interference into the internal affairs of Russia: the rhetoric of human rights and humanitarian concerns, separating "international terrorism" from the “legitimate” struggle of Chechen "rebels" and even "freedom fighters," and, quite illogically, presenting Russia's politics in Chechnya as being responsible for making it a hotbed of "international terrorism."
Here is a typical example of Hill's statements on Chechnya:
Serious talks between the Russians and Chechens were initiated only after Shamil Basayev's audacious assault on the Russian town of Budennovsk in Summer 1995, and as I mentioned at the outset, peace was only vigorously pursued after the Russians were routed from Grozny in Summer 1996—and four months after Dudayev had been killed in a missile attack. 2
- Hill fails to inform the American public that Basaev's "audacious assault on the Russian town of Budennovsk" came to little else but holding the local maternity ward hostage and killing dozens of peaceful Russian citizens.
2. Hill's disinformation bite seeks to create the impression that only keeping Chechens strong and hitting Russians hard will convince the latter to “negotiate.”
The “negotiation” process for Chechnya, promoted by Ms. Hill and a legion of her colleagues at the expense of murdered and kidnapped Russian citizens, included, as its centerpiece, the "internationalization" of Russian internal conflict, or to put it simply, sticking the Nato's foot in the Russian door. This is what she told the Helsinki Commission on the “Chechen crisis” in 2003.
We should offer, in the event of a negotiated settlement, to help broker and structure an international reconstruction effort for Chechnya that would address the republic's and the broader North Caucasus region's deep-rooted economic, social and political problems. This might in fact be an opportunity to encourage the formation of an international task
force that would examine the political, economic, and security challenges in the
Caucasus as a whole and offer recommendations for future action. This could be created under the auspices of the OSCE and adopt the format of the Carnegie Endowment's task forces on the Balkans at both the beginning and end of this century.
To paraphrase Putin's recent answer to Bush, no, Ms. Hill, thanks, but no Western assistance the Balkans type will be appreciated by Russian people.
But Hill does not want to hear these Slavophile ramblings and continues to offer us her generous help because, in her words, even
in the event of a victory, Russia seems likely to exhaust itself in attempting to police and rebuild its own internal Bosnia and Kosovo, and unlikely to be able to formulate the kind of sophisticated long-term policies it requires to stabilize the North Caucasus.
You see, the one thousand year old state just is not as "sophisticated" in handling its internal relations as "political scientists" of Ms. Hill's variety. No wonder! These Ruskies didn't even have enough common sense to create the Indian style reservations for the Cherokees and the Sioux of the Russian Caucasus! Perhaps, they can learn a few things now, observing the “sophisticated long-term policies to stabilize”... Iraq.
What makes Ms. Hill different from “our friends in the West” like Messrs. Aslund, Satter, Dunlop, and the vegetarian society of the Freedom House is her "balanced" rhetoric and the prudence to avoid any statements that can become liability later in the game (the wisdom of which, let me add parenthetically, Professor John Dunlop of the Hoover Institution is now in good position to appreciate, after the recent publication of Dr. Peter Dale Scott's essay in the international magazine Nexus, with the printing run over 100,000 copies in Anglo-Saxon countries only).
A good example of Ms. Hill's balancing act is her curious statement on Shamil Basaev of March 3, 2006, made at the TV show “Conflict in Chechnya” hosted by "round table" of the managing editor of Foreign Exchange, Mr. Fareed Zakaria, a proud issue of Yale and Harvard.
Not before March 2006 Ms. Hill summoned enough common sense to pronounce the 'T'-word in relation to the commander of the “audacious assault” in Budennovsk, Shamil Basaev:
We've also seen many of the tactics of the Chechen fighters and the Chechen terrorist groups adopted elsewhere because the Chechens became quite media savvy particularly under the direction of people like Shamil Basayev, perhaps the most notorious of the Chechen fighters, who frankly is a terrorist. There's no other way of describing him. 3
Notice that Hill speaks of "the Chechen fighters and the Chechen terrorist groups" as if implying that there are good and bad guys among them. But she does not explain the difference nor give any example of good "Chechen fighters." This is her way of playing the traditional Western line of Maskhadov against Basaev to press Russia to negotiate with the separatists. Only in March of 2006 Maskhadov was no more, and Basaev was soon to follow him. The transcript of this show contains another great example of Ms. Hill's exceptional ability to spin:
I think Shamil Basayev sees himself and you know one doesn't like want to mix these things up but a kind of Che Guevara of the North Caucuses; he sees himself in many respects as a freedom fighter but at the same time obviously part of this broader Jihadi struggle and also sees himself as very deep-rooted in this struggle of the peoples of the
North Caucuses, not just the Chechens, against the Russians.
Basaev, of course, never compared himself to Che Guevara, murdered on the orders of
Ms. Hill's present employer. Hill does not provide any evidence that Basaev thinks of himself as Che Guevara. Nor Che Guevara had anything to do with "freedom fighters" -- a coinage by the reactionary Armageddon preacher Ronald Reagan who ordered the Iran-Contra operation to destroy the Nicaraguan Revolution. Che would fight the Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries tooth and nail. But Hill spins Basaev-Che Guevara-freedom fighters analogy so cowardly that it's hard to nail her for intentionally falsifying the historical record and ideas. A more primitive spin master, like the Russophobe Zeyno Baran of the Nixon Center, would draw this analogy in an embarrassingly straightforward way that would expose her and her organization.
Recently, Ms. Hill seems to have become less enthusiastic about the promotion of "democracy" in the fSU. Thus, she made the following statement apropos Uzbekistan:
Although the country's intelligentsia and civil society groups may have clear aspirations for a different political system, they are out of step with the basic concerns and desires of the population. Hardship can just as easily be alleviated by an authoritarian government that emphasizes populist policies, increases pensions as well as minimum wages, and launches employment and education programs as by a democratic government. In states such as Russia and Venezuela, for example, high world oil prices have boosted government revenues, enabling the state to redistribute resources to the population as well as to key elites. 4
This statement suggests that Ms. Hill has a sailor's sense of the changing wind, a must quality for her trade, and wants to be acceptable by the political circles in both parties, opposed to the Cheney gang's “stay the course” line. In fact, her statement echoes the recent proclamations of “democratic” imperialists of Hillary Clinton variety.
The singe most important thing to understand about the predicament of Ms. Hill and her colleagues is that their predictions and hopes in relation to the civil war in Chechnya have proved to be false. And it is easy to demonstrate. Here is what she said to the Helsinki Commission.
If Russia does achieve a military victory, however, what kind of victory will this be? The Chechens won the First Chechen War but lost the peace-Russia could win the Second Chechen War but will surely also lose the peace. The Yeltsin regime and the Russian military may have absorbed the military lessons of the First Chechen War but they have not assimilated the economic, social, and political lessons of either its prelude or its
How sophomoric was it for Fiona Hill to say this in November 2003! It sounded more like wishful thinking on the part of just another of "our friends in the West" than an informed and sensible conclusion of a responsible political scholar. For it can be said now with a great deal of confidence that Russia has been winning both war and peace in Chechnya No wonder, Ramzan Kadyrov is so hated in the West and by the fifth column in Russia.
In short, Ms. Hill and her colleagues predicted and hoped that Chechnya would become Russia's "tomb" (Anatol Lieven). Instead, Chechnya has become Russia's resurrection. Russians and Chechens decided differently from their transatlantic good-wishers. This alone would have been sufficient reason for specialists of the past to resign and shower themselves with ashes. But we are dealing not with the enlightenedbourgeoisie of the pre-imperialist stage of development, but with the specialists of the Weberian cage, the men and women whose moral character and mentality have been totally conditioned by the rot and decay of late imperialism: "Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart."
By 2003, with the military defeat of the separatists, Chechnya increasingly looking pacified, Hattab liquidated, and Russian security forces being restored after their decimation by the Yeltsin regime, the Western masters of subversion were running out of ammunition against Russia. And here arises the spectre of Zbig Brzezinski and his Afghan plot of mentoring the most reactionary Islamist forces against the progressive government in Kabul and its Soviet backers. However, the biggest problem with resurrecting this strategy was that one could not step in the same water twice.
In the post 9-11 picture of things, people like Ms. Hill and Zbig had to perform a good deal of mental (the moral was never a problem for them!)acrobatics to separate the issue of "international terrorism" from that of the legit "freedom fighters," the "Che Guevaras" of the Caucasus fighting Russian imperialism. And when the Che Guevaras from the Nord Ost and Beslan Elementary were done with, it became the turn of the "not-so-bad-after-all" cells of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
One sign of the increased interest for a partnership with Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) on the part of Anglo-American secret services was a $100,000 grant to do a "research" on HuT that Mr. Fritz Ermarth and his colleague Zeyno Baran, both of the Nixon Center, received in 2003, the same year that Ms. Hill testified to the US Congress against including HuT in the State Department list of terrorists organizations. True, Mr. Ermarth--one of the “atomic kids,” who in the 1970s worked under Schlessinger on the doctrine of a winnable nuclear war against the Soviets—has never been known as specialist on Islam.
The predecessor of Ms. Hill in the CIA, Mr. Ermarth made his carrier in the “national security” establishment (RAND, the CIA, NSC, NIC) as a specialist extraordinaire in the art of intelligence con games against the Soviet Union, mostly by doctoring the intelligence information and analysis in a way beneficial for the military industrial complex and the most frantic political wing of US imperialism. “Retired” from the CIA in 1998, just in time to lead the “Russiagate” conspiracy against Gore's bid for presidency, Ermarth remained the informal bipartisan liason between the elements of the US intelligence community close to the “Cheney gang” and Brzezinski and Haig's American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC), on one side, and renegade elements in Russian GRU and FSB, on the other. Was it a pure coincidence that this ober specialist in strategic subversive operations against the Soviet Union and Russia began to “research” HuT in the same year that the Russian State Duma denounced this fundamentalist organization as "extremist" and soon afterwards outlawed it? 6
Several months later, in October 2003, Fiona Hill testified to the subcommittee of the US Congress against declaring HuT terrorist organization. Her testimony had one glaring omission, which made me really doubt whether she was indeed an All-American Girl. You see, Ms. Hill had failed to inform the American people, that HuT was operating not only in Central Asian states, but in Russia as well.
In fact, however improbable it may sound, she did not even mention that HuT was
outlawed in Russia, where its underground cells were becoming increasingly active in Tatarstan, Bashkiria, and the Urals-Volga region in general, with its heavy concentration of strategic objects: nuclear power stations, ISBMs production, arsenals and arms factories like the Izhevsk Works.
Being a "national security" expert, Ms. Hill knew very well what was the real significance of putting or not putting this or that organization on the State Department Terror List. If HuT remained officially kosher in the eyes of the US Law then the CIA and the DIA had no legal problems establishing relations with and within this organization, declared "terrorist" by the Russians, who were, after all, the “strategic partners” of the United States in the war against “international terrorism.” Yet the very least that any All-American Girl was expected to do was to warn the American people that in case a HuT cell, which happened to have "relations" with the CIA, is caught committing the acts of terror in the territory of Russia, the Russians will have a casus belli in their hands, and unlike the president of Uzbekistan Karimov, they will also have several hundred SS-20s “Satana” to make a point to their "friends in the West" that it's not kosher to use Islamic terrorists to kill Russian children.
“And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” - says the CIA motto.
Aren't the American taxpayers entitled to know the truth that can help them to avoid being dead? But as we have observed already, Ms. Hill is loyal not to the American people but only to 0.1 percent of them who have rather wacky ideas as to what makes the nation “look good.”
What happened next is well known. The HuT cells were activated in the Fergana Valley less than two years after Hill's testimony to the Congress. Just like Shevarnadze in Georgia, Karimov was good, but not good enough. He allowed the CIA to have its surrogate detention and torture centers in Uzbekistan. But he did not want to go over to the US side irreversibly, risking to antagonize the neighboring Russia and China. The hard core group of Islamist fighters came from the training camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan and was joined by the local HuT cadres. The tactical management operated most likely from Turkey.
As to the puppet masters, there was no doubt in Karimov's mind that they resided in London and Washington, DC. Putin provided him with necessary details and names. The old party fox would never kicked the Americans out of his country if he were not absolutely convinced in their involvement in the coup. Such was the first catastrophic consequence of Ms. Hill's advice to the Congress to keep HuT off the Terror List. Her recent appointment as National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia holds the promise that it will not be the last.
“More Than a Moscow Morality Play.” Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2003<http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/hillf/20031105.htm>
Fiona Hill's Statement to the Helsinki Commission Hearing on "The Chechen Crisis and Its Implications for Russian Democracy." November 03, 2003 <http://www.eurasia.org/publications/news/view.aspx?ID=80>
Show 209: Conflict in Chechnya. Transcript, Marh 3, 2006 <http://foreignexchange.tv/?q=node/1065>
“Fear of Democracy or Revolution: The Reaction to Andijon.” The Washington Quarterly (Summer 2006)<http://twq.com/06summer/docs/06summer_hill.pdf>
Fiona Hill's Statement to the Helsinki Commission, <http://www.eurasia.org/publications/news/view.aspx?ID=80>
Several days before his assassination in Dagestan, the Russian military counter-intelligence officer Armen Sarkisian described Fritz Ermarth as “the most important contact of the OPS [the international criminal society of Vladimir Filin—burtsev.ru] in the United States.” See: Conversations with Armen. Excerpts” <http://left.ru/burtsev/ops/armen_excerpts.phtml>