Ray McGovern is a former CIA Presidential Briefer and is an expert on Russia. He worked for the CIA for twenty seven years. Dismayed with the intelligence used to support the US war with Iraq, Mr McGovern, along with others, formed Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in the US and is a member of its steering group. He spoke at a public meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, November 1st. The following is a report on his talk by PANA member Michael Clarke. It is followed by a video recording of an interview with Ray conducted by Roger Cole (also of PANA).
The meeting was organized by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM). Mr McGovern made clear that his work as an analyst was separate from the activities of CIA personnel in the field (organizing coups, murdering, kidnapping, etc.) The meeting, which was held in a hotel in central Dublin, was reasonably well attended but, in addition and before the meeting, Mr McGovern was brought to Leinster House by Roger Cole of PANA and also met the media. Mr McGovern may be returning to Ireland before the end of the year to address an Oireachtas committee. If so, PANA/IAWM will get the word out, including to the media. In that connection, Mr McGovern told the meeting that the good work done by anti-war movements is worth doing because it is good. The results are important but are secondary. The same could be said for Mr McGovern's work. If even one person stands up and says "no" to war, "no" to imperialism, "no" to coups orchestrated by the CIA, "no" to kidnapping by the CIA, "no" to the use of Shannon by the US Government for war purposes that is important.
The opening remarks by Roger Cole, PANA (who spoke about PANA's work in attempting to prevent the destruction of Irish neutrality and the incorporation of Ireland into EU military and NATO structures), Glenda Cimino, a US writer living in Ireland, and Fatin al-Tamimi, Chairman of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who chaired the meeting, were followed by Mr McGovern's remarks, which were on the subject of war in the Middle East. Mr McGovern, who is of good Cavan stock, is exceptionally knowledgeable about global issues, as would be expected from someone who has briefed US Presidents and top US cabinet members, officials and generals, and is an important member of the peace movement in the US. Since the turn of the millennium, the US Government (in particular under George W. Bush) has behaved in an increasingly reckless manner (the US committed major crimes, including war crimes, before that of course but for a period of time after the collapse of the USSR it was virtually out of control). Mr McGovern quoted retired US general Wesley Clark as saying in 1991 that the Russians could no longer stop the US from doing what it wanted to do. It has indeed been very difficult for other Governments, let alone peace movements, to exercise a degree of control over the US since the collapse of the USSR making it imperative therefore that someone with Ray McGovern's skills, knowledge and moral compass is available to assist peace movements around the world not just with another voice but in disentangling the incredibly complex and bloody battlefields of the Middle East, for example, particularly Syria. That said, the recovery of Russia, under Putin, has stopped the US from behaving as it wishes everywhere and no US general would say today what Wesley Clark said in 1991. In that regard, Mr McGovern said that Russia has thwarted US aims in the Ukraine and in Syria.
There was a question and answer session after Mr McGovern's remarks, including a lively exchange between members of the audience about the extent to which the meeting was targeting the US only and not other powers engaging in imperialist activity around the world. Roger Cole, PANA, responded by saying that the US is using Shannon to pursue its war aims in the Middle East not Russia. That is why the focus of Irish anti-war activists is on the US and not Russia. If Russia was using Shannon, Mr Cole said, our focus would be on Russia. He added that our problems were with the US Government and its military industrial complex and not with the American people. (Veterans of the Irish peace movement can remember attending demonstrations outside the embassies of other nuclear powers, not just the US Embassy. I once attended a meeting at the Soviet Embassy in the 1980s here we had a robust discussion with them about the threat of nuclear war.)
Mr McGovern said, during the course of the Q&A, that President Obama had lost his mojo somewhere between the swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill and the White House nearly eight years ago except in the matter of Iran. He said this in response to a question I put to him about the apparent failure (it seemed to me) of President Obama to exercise the proper level of control over his administration (I was thinking of his misgivings about the overthrow of Gaddafi orchestrated by Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power but which he allowed to happen). He also said that he had heard, second hand, that President Obama feared assassination. In response to my question as to whether President Obama's weakness was a one-off or could be expected to be replicated in the future given the size of the US military establishment, the secret state, etc., Mr McGovern said that he believed it was a one-off. He said that if Hilary Clinton won the election she would govern with a close knit group and would exercise tight control. He also said that he would love to see a woman as US President but not Hilary Clinton. He had major concerns about a possible clash with Russia, particularly over Mrs Clinton's plans for a no-fly zone over Syria, which would clash with, in effect, an existing Russian no-fly zone there, a clash that, if taken to its limits, would mean war with Russia and the destruction of the planet.
Ray McGovern's website is raymcgovern.com.
Interview with Ray McGovern conducted by Roger Cole of PANA