‘Heroes’ and victims of 80’s US disinformation provide clues to today’s Russian scare
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
To win the cold war President Ronald Reagan formed a secret ‘deception committee’ for a disinformation campaign against the USSR
On several occasions ‘disinformation’ put the world on the brink of nuclear war
The ‘Soviet’ U-boat scare that shook Sweden in the 80s was caused by US and UK subs that penetrated Swedish territorial waters disguised as Russian ones
Swedish military were fully aware of these operations but did not report to Prime Minister, Olof Palme
The number of Swedes believing in a Soviet threat increased fourfold
‘Dove’ Palme had no choice but to take anti-Soviet stance
- He was assassinated the day before his trip to meet Gorbachev whom he saw as a like minded person
The 52 minutes documentary “Deception: The Methods of Reagan” by German director Dirk Pohlmann premiered last May on ‘ARTE’ the French/German highbrow channel. Broadcast late at night and early in the morning, it generated no reaction.
It has not been shown in Sweden, although it throws light on two of the most dramatic episodes in modern Swedish history – the Soviet U-boat scare of the 1980s that was suddenly repeated in 2014, and the assassination of the Swedish premier Olof Palme in 1986. This film is not a Hollywood thriller, but a sequence of stories told by people who have faces, names, titles and ranks.
Several months after this documentary aired, we are hearing that Russia plans to invade the Baltic states, that in March 2013:
“Russia's air force practiced a nuclear strike against Sweden, according to a report by NATO's secretary general.”
The US and NATO increase defense spending and start a massive build-up on Russian borders…
The Deception Committee
According to the documentary, after a period of détente in the seventies, the ‘hawk’ Ronald Reagan came to power in 1981, determined to win the cold war. The arms race gave the US military superiority and exhausted the Soviet Union. It was supplemented by a major disinformation campaign and a war of nerves aimed at sapping the will of the Soviet leadership.
To achieve this, an informal group, known as the ‘deception committee’ was formed. It answered directly to President Reagan and was headed by the director of the CIA ,William Casey. Military and intelligence officers were responsible for operational activities, deflecting responsibility from the White House in case of disclosure.
The scale of operations was impressive. Among the plots analyzed in detail in the film, the US ramped up naval activity near the Kola Peninsula, which hosts Russia’s main nuclear submarine base. Military exercises were supplemented with disinformation considerably overstating the scale of maneuvers, leading the Kremlin to believe the US was planning a nuclear strike.
US Secretary of the Navy of the time, John Leman, tells the filmmakers :
“We knew that any mistake could provoke an unintended war”.
Soviet strategic bombers were ready to counterattack in 1983 during ‘the Able Archer’ maneuvers. Only a miracle saved the world from nuclear war.
‘Soviet’ U-boats were NATO’s
The Swedish episode (see viedo) of “Deception: Methods of Reagan” begins on 27 October 1981 when the Soviet diesel-electric Whiskey-class submarine C-363 hit an underwater rock in Swedish territorial waters. The Soviet military said the submarine lost its way, the Swedes said the Russians were conducting reconnaissance. The incident made a lot of noise but was ultimately settled through diplomatic channels.
A year later, the social-democrat Olof Palme, who coined the notion 'common security’, challenging Reagan’s cold war strategy, became the Swedish Prime Minister. Two weeks later, a periscope was detected in Swedish territorial waters…
The documentary shows the unidentified object thought to be a submarine being chased. Military helicopters and warships dropped depth bombs and laid antisubmarine mines for the world’s cameras. No submarine was destroyed and nothing was found.
During Palme’s tenure, there were more than a hundred antisubmarine alerts: the media reported stories of people witnessing Soviet frogmen manipulating something near a Swedish naval base and published undersea tracks left by the mysterious submarines.
Every time, the USSR was blamed, and although it denied everything, no one believed it. From 1981 to 1983, the number of Swedes who perceived a Soviet threat increased from 27% to 83%.
Palme the peacemaker was forced to make harsh anti-Soviet statements instead of promoting his ‘common security’ concept. My father, Boris Pankin who was Soviet ambassador to Sweden in those days, said this caused Palme an almost physical suffering, but he had no choice.
Many years later it turned out there were submarines in Swedish waters, but they were American and British! They carried out maneuvers in Swedish territorial waters disguised as Soviet vessels. The Swedish military authorities were aware of this, but didn’t tell the head of government. Former US Defense Minister Caspar Weinberger and his counterpart in the Royal Navy said they were careful not to hit anything.
The point was that officially neutral and non-aligned Sweden was actually a US military ally, these maneuvers carried out with the consent of the Swedish military. There was supposed to be an ‘unsinkable aircraft-carrier’ near the Soviet border, a scheme the election of Palme disrupted, earning him the enduring hatred of American politicians, the Swedish military and conservative elites. He was a ‘fifth column’, ‘a public enemy’ and they were ready to use ‘whatever it takes’, according to Ola Tunander, professor at the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo .
On 28th February 1986 Olof Palme was shot in the center of Stockholm. The murder has never been solved.
“This couldn’t have been done by a lone wolf. It was a political contract killing”, Mikhail Gorbachev tells the filmmakers.
Palme was killed the day before his visit to Moscow, where he was to meet with Gorbachev, his ‘common security’ associate.
The world was taken for a ride
… The head of the Swedish Government Commission on the Submarine Incident Investigation describes sabotage carried out by his own military:
“Sweden was taken for a ride. The Swedish parliament and Swedish government were taken for a ride as well as the Swedish media. What kind of world are we living in?”
These questions make this documentary highly topical today. Seeing it, you realize that it’s easier to understand Europe’s post cold-war history in terms of conspiracy theories rather than as it is currently presented by the ‘free’ western press. And you realize why there are no new Olof Palmes on the European political scene today.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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