How George Bush and the CIA Almost Destroyed Russia — Part 1

The Bush administration's 'Operation Hammer' against post-communist Russia included covert financing of the August 1991 coup, destabilizing the ruble, orchestrating the theft of gold reserves, and seizing strategic industries through IMF-driven privatization.

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CIA Director George H.W. Bush in the lobby of the CIA building. [ Photo credit: Unknown ]

“The largest giveaway of a nation’s wealth in history. . .” —Mortimer Zuckerman, member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, owner of US News & World Report, describing what took place in the looting of Russia under Yeltsin

Russia’s Yeltsin Catastrophe

Boris Yeltsin and his “free market reformers” were part of one of the most hidden and most criminal looting operations in CIA history. It was the rape of Russia by a corrupted circle of treasonous Soviet KGB generals, together with their select young KGB protégés, who were transformed through the operation into billionaire oligarchs. It was an economic rape only made possible through Western banks and the so-called “democracy machinery” of Washington under three successive presidents—Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. 

Few people in the West could grasp the anger of Russian President Vladimir Putin when he told a select audience of Russian politicians from the Duma in the Kremlin in September 2016, “You know how I feel about the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was unnecessary. We could have introduced reforms, including those of a more democratic nature, without allowing this.”

Putin did not need to describe “this.” Everyone present knew he meant the savage destruction of life, feeling of worth, and pride for most Russians after 1990. If anyone in the US or the EU thought about Putin’s comments—coming amid an unprecedented US and NATO vilification and demonization campaign against the Russian Federation and Putin personally, including economic sanctions—they most likely saw it as confirmation of Washington claims that Putin’s Russia was out to rebuild the Soviet Union. 

What was unknown to most in the West was the true background of the destruction of life in Russia and the former member states of the USSR. The CIA operation began near the end of the 1980s with a network of CIA actors and their corrupted, bought-and-paid-for Soviet KGB generals. 

It was called the Yeltsin Era, and it lasted the entire decade of the 1990s until Yeltsin resigned on December 31, 1999. His resignation had been finally forced by a group of nationalist Russians led by a forty-seven-year-old former KGB officer who briefly headed the successor organization to the KGB known as the SVR, or Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation. The SVR man was Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, by then Yeltsin’s Prime Minister.

The destruction of the Soviet Union was one of the darkest criminal operations ever undertaken by the US government or, more precisely, by a dark, deep state network buried inside that Washington bureaucracy, sometimes referring to themselves as “the Vulcans,” often simply called neoconservatives. 

The key roles in the rape of Russia were played by US President George H.W. Bush and later by Bush’s close friend and protégé, William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton. The venom directed from Washington towards Putin personally since his reelection as president in 2012 and even beginning his revitalization of Russia after his ascendency to the presidency on December 31, 1999, the day Yeltsin was forced to abdicate his imagined throne, would become clear. Slowly details emerged of what crimes Bush, Clinton, and their covert intelligence circles committed against Russia after 1989.

Bush’s CIA “Old Boys”

George H.W. Bush, former director of the CIA, ran the entire foreign and national security operations of President Ronald Reagan from the Office of the Vice President. Through Executive Order 12333, a national security directive drafted by then vice president Bush and signed by Reagan, Bush had made sure he was in charge of all Reagan-era US foreign and national security operations after 1981. 

People close to CIA Chief Bill Casey said that as President, Reagan had little interest in foreign policy. The true role of Bush in the Reagan years was well hidden, however. 

When Bush’s son George W. Bush took office as President in 2001, one of his first acts was to sign Executive Order 13233, an extraordinary act that cited “national security” as grounds to conceal records of past presidents, especially his father’s activities during the 1990 and 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist Eastern Europe states. Consequently, those records are no longer accessible to the public. The truth can be gathered by evidence of participants in Russia, Eastern Europe, and in the USA, deep research, and congressional and other testimonies of those with direct knowledge. The picture of the destruction that resulted is staggering.

George H.W. Bush ran things covertly through his “old boy” CIA networks, often using various private companies they had set up during the Bush’s illegal Iran–Contra operation of the mid-1980s. 

The Iran–Contra affair was an illegal, top-secret Bush–Colonel Oliver North scheme to sell US weapons to Iran in violation of an official US arms embargo to Iran, then to divert a part of the Iran arms profits to illegally finance the CIA-backed Contras of Nicaragua, who paid for the weapons with cocaine dollars, hence the name Iran–Contra affair. 

All was done without required the US congressional approval, in violation of US law. When President Jimmy Carter forced the early retirement of 800 CIA agents, many of them loyal to former CIA Director Bush, they regrouped as a private intelligence and business network, a kind of covert “deep state,” informally calling itself “the Enterprise.” This network, active for Vice President George H.W. Bush in the Iran–Contra affair, was used by Bush, now as US president, to loot and deform all of communist Eastern Europe and, ultimately, Russia under their asset, Boris Yeltsin.

The companies George H.W. Bush sanctioned under the code name “the Enterprise” were soon to be responsible for the CIA-financed coup that brought down Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union in 1991. But the machinery and organization of the Enterprise was also responsible for bribing or corrupting key KGB generals and creating what came to be called the “Russian oligarchs” to loot the crown jewels of the former Soviet State, now legally known as the Russian Federation. Their looting included the entire gold reserves of the Russian National Bank in the early 1990s. That loot was funneled into the vaults of handpicked CIA-controlled banks in Switzerland, offshore bank havens, and New York.

The CIA’s Yeltsin “Democracy” Coup

The rape of Russia—the Russian nation, the Russian state, the Russian people—which began at the end of the 1980s, was a coup d’état engineered by the American CIA’s rogue and not so rogue networks directed by former CIA Director, now President, George H.W. Bush. Western accounts of what took place inside the Russian Federation during the Yeltsin years of the 1990s speak of “Russian mafia” or “Russian organized crime.” Never do they mention or even hint that those Russians who plundered their own country were organized and paid, or made rich, by the West or, to be more precise, by the old boy CIA networks loyal to former CIA director and then US president George H.W. Bush. 

What took place in the 1990s under the Russian presidency of Boris Yeltsin was described by one knowledgeable US insider, Mortimer Zuckerman, himself an establishment member of the New York Council on Foreign Relations and owner of US News & World Report, as “the largest giveaway of a nation’s wealth in history.” The giveaway, or more precisely “theft,” was done through outright robbery, currency war, and a fraudulent loans-for-company stock shares program that was a precondition demanded by Washington to getting aid and loans from the World Bank and the IMF—aid and loans that “never touched ground in Russia,” as Zuckerman noted.

Washington, covertly working with a circle of very select US and European banks, made it possible for the Yeltsin clan to loot the Russian Treasury of its gold reserves. They then offered desperately needed US money to a privatization scheme that created and installed a kleptocracy regime, and created a cabal of hyper-rich oligarchs under Yeltsin, referred to by some in the Russian media as the “Yeltsin Family,” as in the Mafia. Washington and US mainstream media cynically called it “bringing democracy and free market capitalism” to post-communist Russia. 

In 1989, soon after his election, US President George H.W. Bush initiated the operation to loot the Soviet Union. 

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and covert US government money to Poland’s Solidarność had severely weakened Moscow’s control over Poland during the decade of the 1980s and ignited anti-communist protest movements all over communist Eastern Europe. 

That Polish success—notably, that it was not suppressed by Soviet Red Army tanks as in 1956 in Hungary or during the Prague Spring of 1968—had given major encouragement to similar underground, anti-regime movements across Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, from Hungary to Czechoslovakia to East Germany. 

In Afghanistan, after ten bloody years, Soviet Red Army troops finally gave up and left the country in 1989, humiliated in defeat from CIA-trained and armed Islamist Mujahideen terrorists. In Dresden in East Germany–the German Democratic Republic as it was formally called–from the mid-1980s until the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, a young KGB officer named Vladimir Putin was stationed, watching as the power of Moscow evaporated everywhere.

Moscow itself was financially in dire straits, dramatically so ever since a US State Department–Saudi oil price collapse operation was deliberately launched by Washington in 1986. That oil price collapse hit at the heart of the Soviet primary hard currency sources: its oil export. That oil price collapse severely hurt Soviet earnings of badly needed dollars for Western technology purchases, as well as for countering CIA operations in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe. 

The decade-long covert CIA campaign in Afghanistan, using fanatical Mujahideen terrorists mostly recruited by a Saudi CIA asset named Osama bin Laden, had given the Soviet Union what President Carter’s national security director, Zbigniew Brzezinski, later called “Russia’s Vietnam.”

Then in 1989, President George H.W. Bush gave the order to launch an all-out takeover and looting of the crown jewels of the largest and most strategic part of the USSR, the formerly communist Russian Federation. The dissolution of the Soviet Union itself rapidly followed the August 1991 Ukrainian declaration of independence from the USSR. State-owned oil and gas companies, key raw materials, such as nickel and aluminum, and high-tech Soviet military companies were the prime looting targets of select Western interests trading with insider connections.

Now finally as president, George H.W. Bush decided to go for the kill against a severely weakened Russian Federation. Bush and a CIA network of Western bankers, US government officials, and the International Monetary Fund, together with a cabal of young Harvard University economists—they were dubbed the Harvard Boys, brought into Russia by George Soros — in league with a corrupted network of KGB traitors, unleashed one of the greatest criminal looting operations in history.

Confused Russian citizens, fed up with the years of Soviet control and lack of improvement in their daily lives from Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika attempts at reforming the Soviet system, naively and with great hope turned to the West, most especially to Wall Street and Washington. 

In 1987, in a desperate attempt to calm growing social unrest over the deteriorating Soviet economy, Gorbachev permitted Soviet citizens to own dollars. It was a disaster of untold dimension. Overnight, a huge black market for dollars grew and the ruble became de facto worthless inside the Soviet Union. Russians, forbidden to travel to the West, were fed the illusion that everything in America was “bigger and better.” Secret, prohibited shortwave broadcasts from the US State Department’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty out of Munich fed those illusions of an American capitalist paradise. 

The majority of Russians believed, for the most part, nothing could be worse than life under Soviet communism with the chronic shortages in the shops, endless queues, and lack of basic goods, let alone of luxury goods. They were soon to realize they were dreadfully wrong. It could be worse. 

The bottom fell out in the daily life for most Russians as Yeltsin’s clan and their Western collaborators proceeded to loot the country following the abolition of a communist state during the 1990s. Pensions went unpaid and medical insurance ended abruptly, as did daycare for working mothers and most state support.

“Operation Hammer”

The Bush administration’s attack on the post-communist Russian Federation, dubbed “Operation Hammer,” had four distinct covert elements.: 1) the CIA would secretly finance the August 1991 generals’ coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; 2) they would use their secret financial war chest to destabilize the ruble; 3) they used corrupted Russian Gosbank national bank officials to organize the theft of the country’s official gold reserves; 4) and they began a systematic takeover of strategic energy, raw materials, and high-tech state military industries in the Soviet Union via IMF-dictated privatization operations run by Yeltsin’s finance minister Yegor Gaidar. Gaidar worked in league with Harvard’s Jeffrey Sachs and other friends of billionaire hedge fund speculator George Soros.

Bush’s Operation Hammer used estimated tens of billions of dollars of illegal funds—funds not authorized by the US Congress—to bring down the Soviet Union. The funds reportedly came from a secret CIA war chest of undisclosed gold seized from Japan after World War II. That Japanese looted war booty was buried between 1942–1945 in Japanese-occupied Philippines for security. The gold was buried there on orders of the Emperor Hirohito in the event of Japan’s losing the war.

At some point during the 1970s, Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, nominally a Washington asset who ruled as an iron-fisted dictator from 1972 until 1986, had discovered some of the secret sites where Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s soldiers had buried gold stolen during the war. It was gold stolen from China, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, and other countries occupied by imperial Japan. Greed overwhelmed Marcos’s sense of caution as he dug out the hidden gold. 

The Japanese military had stashed tons of stolen gold in caves and deep underground sites on the islands. Marcos had discovered part of that and was taking it for himself and depositing it, or the cash from selling the gold onto the market, in select secretive Swiss banks. His mistake was that he used a CIA asset, Saudi billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, to help him sell the gold onto the market.

In 1986, aware of what Marcos was doing through their asset, Khashoggi, among others, the CIA decided they had another use for the Marcos gold—namely, as collateral for issuing tens of billions of Western dollar securities that would be offered in the buyout of Russia’s state economic crown jewels. 

Marcos, no longer of use to Washington, was driven from office in a CIA putsch that used the newly created NED as a cover to funnel millions of dollars to Marcos’s opponent, Corazon Aquino, for organizing mass street demonstrations. Washington also used a local CIA-created organization, the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections, and co-opted genuine trade union democratic opposition to the Marcos dictatorship. Aquino, far from a peoples’ candidate, was scion of one of the wealthiest Filipino oligarch families, owning vast sugarcane plantations, insuring that Aquino would look to Washington for support.

Murky Origins of Barrick Gold

In 1986, under orders from Vice President George H.W. Bush, a CIA operation was led by close Bush associates to get rid of Marcos. The operation included Richard Armitage, Paul Wolfowitz, and Adnan Khashoggi, the mysterious CIA-linked Saudi arms dealer who had been helping Marcos secretly sell the stolen Japanese gold. After forcing the exile of a defeated Marcos to Hawaii, Bush arranged for the Marcos gold to be deposited in special accounts at several select international banks—Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), UBS of Zurich, and Banker’s Trust, later to become part of Deutsche Bank. The Marcos gold was held in a deep underground, high-security depository in Kloten, Switzerland, beneath the Zurich International Airport.

At that same time, a murky Canadian businessman named Peter Munk, a business partner with the CIA-linked arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, cofounded a Canadian gold-mining company, Barrick Gold. Some years later Barrick Gold went on to become the world’s largest gold-mining company. 

To be continued

F. William Engdahl

F. William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, author, professor and lecturer.
He has been researching and writing about the world political scene for more than thirty years. His various books on geopolitics—the interaction between international power politics, economics and geography—have been translated into 14 foreign languages from Chinese to French, from German to Japanese.

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