Theocratic Sect Prays for Real Armageddon

Theocratic Sect Prays for Real Armageddon

By Casey Sanchez, Southern Poverty Law Center. Posted August 30, 2008.

Members of Joel’s Army are fighting to bring about the millennial reign of Christ.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Todd Bentley has a long night ahead of him, resurrecting the dead, healing the blind, and exploding cancerous tumors. Since April 3, the 32-year-old, heavily tattooed, body-pierced, shaved-head Canadian preacher has been leading a continuous “supernatural healing revival” in central Florida. To contain the 10,000-plus crowds flocking from around the globe, Bentley has rented baseball stadiums, arenas and airport hangars at a cost of up to $15,000 a day. Many in attendance are church pastors themselves who believe Bentley to be a prophet and don’t bat an eye when he tells them he’s seen King David and spoken with the Apostle Paul in heaven. “He was looking very Jewish,” Bentley notes.

Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read “Joel’s Army.” They’re evidence of Bentley’s generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that’s gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right. According to Bentley and a handful of other “hyper-charismatic” preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel’s Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers.

“An end-time army has one common purpose — to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion,” Bentley declares on the website for his ministry school in British Columbia, Canada. “The trumpet is sounding, calling on-fire, revolutionary believers to enlist in Joel’s Army. … Many are now ready to be mobilized to establish and advance God’s kingdom on earth.”

Joel’s Army followers, many of them teenagers and young adults who believe they’re members of the final generation to come of age before the end of the world, are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches. Numbering in the tens of thousands, they base their beliefs on an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their view, the locusts are a metaphor for Joel’s Army.

Despite their overt militancy, there’s no evidence Joel’s Army followers have committed any acts of violence. But critics warn that actual bloodletting may only be a matter of time for a movement that casts itself as God’s avenging army.

Those sounding the alarm about Joel’s Army are not secular foes of the Christian Right, few of whom are even aware of the movement or how widespread it’s become in the past decade. Instead, Joel’s Army critics are mostly conservative Christians, either neo-Pentecostals who left the movement in disgust or evangelical Christians who fear that Joel’s Army preachers are stealing their flocks, even sending spies to infiltrate their own congregations and sway their young people to heresy. And they say the movement is becoming frightening.

“The pitch and intensity of the military rhetoric of this branch of the global Dominionist movement has substantially increased since the beginning of 2008,” writes The Discernment Research Group, a Christian watchdog group that tracks what they call heresies or cults within Christianity. “One can only wonder how long before this transforms into real warfare with actual warriors.”

‘Snorting Religion’

Joel’s Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law. There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism.

Dominionism’s original branch is Christian Reconstructionism, a grim, Calvinist call to theocracy that, as Reconstructionist writer Gary North describes, wants to “get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

Notorious for endorsing the public execution by stoning of homosexuals and adulterers, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is far better known in secular America than Joel’s Army. That’s largely because Reconstructionists have made several serious forays into mainstream politics and received a fair amount of negative publicity as a result. Joel’s Army followers eschew the political system, believing the path to world domination lies in taking over churches, not election to public office.

Another key difference between the two branches of dominionism, which maintain a testy, arms-length relationship with one another, is Christian Reconstructionism’s buttoned-down image and heavy emphasis on Bible study, which contrasts sharply with Joel’s Army anti-intellectual distrust of biblical scholars and its unruly style.

“Some people snort cocaine, others snort religions,” Joel’s Army Pastor Roy said while ministering a morning program at Todd Bentley’s Lakeland, Fla., revival in late May.

As this article went to press, Bentley’s “Florida Outpouring” had been running for more than 100 days straight. Many attendees came in search of spontaneous physical healing and a desire to be part of a mystical community marked by dancing, shouting, gyrating, speaking in tongues and other forms of ecstatic release.

Snide jabs at traditional church services are fairly common at Bentley’s revivals. In fact, what takes place onstage at the Florida Outpouring looks more like a pro wrestling extravaganza than church. On stage, Bentley and his team of pastors, yell, chant, and scream “Fire!” and “Bam!” while anointing followers.

The audience members behave as if they are at a psychedelic counterculture festival. One couple jumps up and down twirling red and silver metallic flags. Dyed-haired teenagers pulled in by the revival’s presence on Facebook and MySpace wander around looking dazed. Women lay facedown on the floor, convulsing and howling. Fathers wail in tongues as their confused children look on. Strangers lay hands on those who fail to produce tongues or gyrate wildly enough, pressuring them to “let it out.”

Bentley is considered a prophet both by his followers and by other leaders of the Joel’s Army movement, whose adherents claim to be reviving a “five-fold ministry” of prophets, apostles, elders, pastors and teachers, as outlined in the Book of Ephesians. Not every five-fold ministry is connected to the Joel’s Army movement, but the movement has spurred an interest in modern-day apostles and prophets that’s troubling to the Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal church, which has officially disavowed the Joel’s Army movement.

In a 2001 position paper, Assemblies of God leaders wrote that they do not recognize modern-day apostles or prophets and worried that “such leaders prefer more authoritarian structures where their own word or decrees are unchallenged.” They are right to worry. Joel’s Army followers believe that once democratic institutions are overthrown, their hierarchy of apostles and prophets will rule over the earth, with one church per city.

Warrior Nation

According to Joel’s Army doctrine, the enforcers of the five-fold ministry will be members of the final generation, for whom the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade constituted a new Passover.

“Everyone born after abortion’s legalization can consider their birth a personal invitation to take part in this great army,” writes John Crowder, another prominent Joel’s Army pastor, who bills his 2006 book, The New Mystics: How to Become Part of the Supernatural Generation, as a literal how-to guide for joining Joel’s Army.

Both Bentley and Crowder are enormously popular on Elijah’s List, an online watering hole for a broad spectrum of Joel’s Army enlistees, from lightweight believers who merely share an affection for military rhetoric and pastors who dress in army camouflage (several Joel’s Army pastors are addressed by their congregants as “commandant” or “commander”) to hardliners who believe the church is called to have an active military role in end-times that have already begun. Elijah’s List currently has more than 125,000 subscribers on its electronic mailing list.

Rick Joyner, a pastor whose books, The Harvest and The Call, helped popularize Joel’s Army theology by selling more than a million copies each, goes the furthest on Elijah’s List in pushing the hardliner approach. In 2006, he posted a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” in which he claimed that a last-day army is now gathering and called believers “freedom fighters.”

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel’s Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

In a sort of disclaimer, Joyner writes at one point that God’s army “will bring love, peace and stability wherever they go.” But several of his books narrate with glee what he describes as “a coming civil war within the church.” In his 1997 book The Harvest he writes: “Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will become so hardened they will become opposers and resist God to the end.”

Two years later, in his book The Final Quest, Joyner described a vision (taken as prophecy in the Joel’s Army world, where Joyner is considered an “apostle”) of the coming Christian Civil War in which demon-possessed Christian soldiers enslave other, weaker Christians who resist them. He also describes how the hero of the novel — himself — ascends a “Holy Mountain” in order to learn new truths and to acquire new, magic weapons.

Kids on Fire

Bentley, who claims to be a supernatural healer, is no less over the top, playing his biker-punk appearance and heavy metal theatrics to the hilt. On YouTube, where clips of his most dramatic healings have been condensed into a three-minute highlight reel, Bentley describes God ordering him to kick an elderly lady in the face: “I am thinking, ‘God, why is the power of God not moving?’ And He said, ‘It is because you haven’t kicked that women in the face.’ And there was, like, this older lady worshipping right in front of the platform and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and the gift of faith came on me. He said, ‘Kick her in the face … with your biker boot.’ I inched closer and I went like this [makes kicking motion]: Bam! And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God.”

The atmosphere is less charged with violence at “The Call,” a 12-hour revival of up to 20,000 youths led by Joel’s Army pastor Lou Engle and held every summer in a major American city (this year’s event was scheduled for Washington, D.C. in August).

Attendees are called upon to fast and pray for 40 days and take up culture-war pledges to lead abstinent lives, reject pornography and fight abortion. They’re further asked to perform “identificational repentance,” lugging along family trees and genealogies to see where one of their ancestors may have enslaved or oppressed another so that they can make amends. (Many in the Joel’s Army movement believe in generational curses that must be broken by the current generation).

As even his critics note, Engle is a sweet, humble and gentle man whose persona is difficult to reconcile with his belief in an end-time army of invincible young Christian warriors. Yet while Engle is careful to avoid deploying explicit Joel’s Army rhetoric at high-profile events like The Call, when he’s speaking in smaller hyper-charismatic circles to avowed Joel’s Army followers, he can venture into bloodlust.

This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.

“I believe we’re headed to an Elijah/Jezebel showdown on the Earth, not just in America but all over the globe, and the main warriors will be the prophets of Baal versus the prophets of God, and there will be no middle ground,” said Engle. He was referring to the Baal of the Old Testament, a pagan idol whose followers were slaughtered under orders from the prophet Elijah.

“There’s an Elijah generation that’s going to be the forerunners for the coming of Jesus, a generation marked not by their niceness but by the intensity of their passion,” Engle continued. “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Such force demands an equal response, and Jesus is going to make war on everything that hinders love, with his eyes blazing fire.”

Although Joel’s Army theology is mainly directed at people in their teens and early 20s via events like The Call and ministries like IHOP, sometimes the target audience is even younger. In some of the most arresting images in Jesus Camp, a 2006 documentary about the Kids on Fire bible camp in North Dakota, grade school-aged kids dressed in army fatigues wield swords and conduct military field maneuvers. “A lot of people die for God and they’re not afraid,” one camper told ABC News reporters in a follow-up segment.

“We’re kinda being trained to be warriors,” added another, “only in a funner way.”

Cain and the Intellectuals

Both Christian and secular critics assailed the makers of Jesus Camp for referring to the camp’s extremist, militant Christianity as “evangelical.” There is a name, however, that describes Kids on Fire’s agenda, if you’re familiar with their theology: Joel’s Army. Pastor Becky Fischer, who runs the camp, said that a third of the kids at her camp were under 6 years old because they are “more in touch in the supernatural” and proclaimed them to be “soldiers for God’s Army.” Her camp’s blend of end-times militancy and supernaturalism is perfectly emblematic of the Joel’s Army movement, whose adherents believe their cause is prophesied in the Old Testament chapter titled “An Army of Locusts.”

The stark, evocative passages of that chapter describe a locust swarm that lays waste to Israel (to this day, the region suffers periodic locust invasions): “Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.” As remarkable as the language is, most biblical scholars agree that it is a literal description of a locust invasion and resulting famine that occurred sometime between the 9th and 5th centuries B.C.E.

In the Book of Joel, the locust invasion is described as an omen that an Assyrian army to the north may attack Israel if it fails to repent as a nation. But nowhere is the invasion described as an army of God. According to an Assemblies of God position paper: “It is a complete misinterpretation of Scripture to find in Joel’s army of locusts a militant, victorious force attacking society and a non-cooperating Church to prepare the earth for Christ’s millennial reign.”

The story of how an ancient insect invasion came to be a rallying flag for 21st-century dominonists begins just after World War II in Canada. Out of a small town in Saskatchewan, a Pentecostal preacher named William Branham spearheaded a 1948 revival in which he claimed that his followers lived in a new biblical time of “Latter Rain.”

The most sinless and ardent of his flock would be called “Manifest Sons of God.” By the next year, the movement was so strong — and seemed so subversive to some — that the Assemblies of God banned it as a heretic cult. But Branham remained a controversial figure with a loyal following; many of his followers believed him to be the end-times prophet Elijah.

Michael Barkun, a leading scholar of radical religion, notes that in 1958, Branham began teaching “Serpent Seed” doctrine, the belief that Satan had sex with Eve, resulting in Cain and his descendants. “Through Cain came all the smart, educated people down to the antediluvian flood — the intellectuals, bible colleges,” Branham wrote in the kind of anti-mainstream religion, anti-intellectual spirit that pervades the Joel’s Army movement to this day. “They know all their creeds but know nothing about God.”

The Gates of Hell

Branham was killed in a car accident in 1965, but his Manifest Sons of God movement, the direct predecessor of Joel’s Army, lived on within a cluster of hyper-charismatic churches. In the 1980s, Branham’s teachings took on new life at the Kansas City Fellowship (KCF), a group of popular self-styled apostles and prophets who used the Missouri church as a launching pad for national careers promoting outright Joel’s Army theology.

Ernie Gruen, a local pastor who initially promoted and gave citywide credibility to KCF pastors in the early 1980s, cut his connections in 1990. Concerned about KCF’s plans to push its teachings worldwide, Gruen published a 132-page insider’s account, based on taped sermons and conversations and interviews with parents who had enrolled their kids in KCF’s Dominion school.

According to Gruen’s report, students at the school were taught that they were a “super-race” of the “elected seed” of all the best bloodlines of all generations — foreknown, predestined, and hand-selected from billions of others to be part of the “end-time Omega generation.”

Though he’d once promoted these doctrines himself, Gruen became convinced that the movement was turning into an end-times cult, marked by what he summarized as “spiritual threats, fears, and warnings of death,” “warning followers to beware of other Christians” and exhibiting “a ‘super-race’ mentality toward the training of their children.”

When contacted by the Intelligence Report, Gruen’s spokesman said that Gruen stands by everything he published in the report but no longer grants media interviews.

The Kansas City Fellowship remains in operation and has served as a farm team for many of the all-stars of the Joel’s Army movement. Those larger-than-life figures include John Wimber, the founder of a California megachurch, The Vineyard, who, before his death in 1997, proclaimed that Joel’s Army would not only conquer the earth but defeat death itself. Lou Engle founded The Call based on the Joel’s Army visions that KCF “prophet” Bob Jones (not to be confused with Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University) received while at KCF. Mike Bickle, another KCF member, stayed in Kansas City to form the International House of Prayer.

IHOP members and other Joel’s Army adherents are well aware of how their movement is perceived by other conservative Christians.

“Today, you can type ‘Joel’s Army’ into a search engine and a thousand heresy hunter websites pop up, decrying the very mention of it,” writes John Crowder in The New Mystics. Crowder doesn’t exactly allay critic’s fears. “This is truly warfare,” he writes. “This battle is not a game. They [Joel’s Army warriors] will not be on the defense; they will be on the offense — and the gates of hell will not be able to hold up against them.”

So far, few members of the secular media have taken notice of Joel’s Army, even as they report on Protestant dominionists like Pat Robertson or the more outrageous calls for the stoning of gays and lesbians emanating from Reconstructionist circles. There are exceptions, however. On the DailyKos, a well-read, politically liberal blog, a diarist has been blogging for two years about her experiences as a walkaway from a Joel’s Army church. She writes under a pseudonym out of fear of physical reprisals.

She may have real cause for concern. As Wimber, the late founder of The Vineyard, put it in one of his most famous and fiery sermons, one that is still frequently cited by Joel’s Army followers: “Those in this army will have His kind of power. … Anyone who wants to harm them must die.”

Bush Extends 9/11 National Emergency Yet Again

Bush Extends 9/11 National Emergency Yet Again

by Peter Dale Scott

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Dale Scott
Global Research, September 4, 2008

Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American constitution and also Congress.[1] (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)

Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”[2] And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government or COG rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.[3]

As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency:”

Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks

Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2008. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

August 28, 2008.[4]

Once again appropriate personnel in Congress should learn and review what those “powers and authorities” are, since almost certainly they include COG (Continuity of Government) rules. In 2007 National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), issued by the White House, also extended for one year the emergency proclaimed in 2001; and it empowered the President to personally ensure “continuity of government.”[5]

NSPD 51 also contained “classified Continuity Annexes” to “be protected from unauthorized disclosure.” Congressman DeFazio twice requested to see these Annexes, the second time in a letter cosigned by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Carney. The White House denied these requests, claiming that the congressmen lacked the requisite clearances. But as I wrote earlier this year,

“Congress has a right to be concerned about Continuity of Government (COG) plans refined by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld over the past quarter century….The story, ignored by the mainstream press, involved more than the usual tussle between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. What was at stake was a contest between Congress’s constitutional powers of oversight, and a set of policy plans that could be used to suspend or modify the constitution.”[6]

Oliver North, who worked on COG planning with Rumsfeld and Cheney in the 1980s, was asked in the Iran-Contra Hearings about his work on an emergency plan “that would suspend the American constitution.” Democratic Senator Inouye, who was presiding, pounded his gavel and interjected that this was a “highly sensitive and classified matter,” not to be dealt with in an open hearing.[7] Congress has never discussed COG plans publicly since that time.

According to Wikipedia, “The National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601-1651) is a United States federal law passed in 1976 to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize Congressional checks and balances on Presidential emergency powers. The act sets a limit of two years on states of national emergency. It also imposes certain “procedural formalities” on the President when invoking such powers, and provides a means for Congress to countermand a Presidential declaration of emergency and associated use of emergency powers (emphasis added).

Bush’s denial of the Homeland Security’s right to review the COG plans in the classified Appendices of NSPD-51 should have been seen as a constitutional crisis — a line in the sand for Congress to assert its constitutional rights and duties. Now, one year later, I understand (although I cannot corroborate it from the Internet) that Congressman Kucinich has introduced or will introduce a bill for Congress, under the terms of the National Emergencies Act, to countermand the presidentially proclaimed national emergency. This is an important move, but it should not obviate the need for Congress to review rules which allegedly restrict its own powers under the constitution.

Between now and November the American electorate have an opportunity to present this demand to everyone running for office: that they will insist on vigorous congressional action to expose and dispose of these secret COG rules — rules that allegedly suspend the American constitution.

Notes
[1] “One of the awkward questions we faced was whether to reconstitute Congress after a nuclear attack. It was decided that no, it would be easier to operate without them,” said one of the COG planners in the 1980s, who spoke to James Mann (The Rise of the Vulcans, 141-42). James Bamford reported the same remark in his book Pretext for War (p. 74).

[2] The provisions of Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, appear at 53 FR 47491, 3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 585, “Executive Order 12656—Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities,” http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12656.html. The Washington Post

(Gellman and Schmidt, “Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret,” March 1, 2002) later claimed, incorrectly, that Executive Order 12656 dealt only with “a nuclear attack.”

[3] Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 228; citing 9/11Commision Report, 38, 326; Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terrorism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 8.

[4] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/08/20080828-7.html.

[5] National Security Presidential Directive 51, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html.

[6] Peter Dale Scott, “Congress, the Bush Adminstration and Continuity of Government Planning: The Showdown,”http://www.counterpunch.org/scott03312008.html .

[7] Scott, Road to 9/11, 9, 23, 184. The New York Times published a complete transcript of the interchange on July 14, 1987, but did not mention it in its news story about North’s testimony.

© Copyright Peter Dale Scott, Global Research, 2008

Doing Israel’s work

Doing Israel’s work

Khalid Amayreh

5_abbas_s-men_300_0.jpg

September 4, 2008

With obvious American-approval and encouragement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) regime in Ramallah is seriously persecuting the very people it is supposed to protect and whose interests it claims to safeguard.

“They are worse than the Israeli occupiers,” an old shopkeeper from the Hebron region whispered to this writer after local security agents arrested his neighbor for selling Islamic paraphernalia.

Some observers in Occupied Palestine have begun using terms such as “reign of terror,” “fascists,” “gangs,” and “terrorist regime” to describe the way the American-backed regime is treating Palestinians.

This week, a leading Palestinian human rights group, described the status of human rights and civil liberties under the PA regime as “dismal and appalling.”

Al-Haq, which means “truth,” pointed out in a detailed report that the PA was letting the security agencies run the country in utter violation of the rule of law.

“I tell the donors it’s high time they pressured the Authority to implement its commitments towards the independence of the judiciary,” said Shahwan Jabarin, al-Haq director.

He pointed out that “military courts” were issuing arrest warrants against civilians and undermining a civilian judiciary that had undergone reform and improvement in the West Bank.

“Subjecting civilians to military jurisdiction severely infringes upon the fundamental rights of Palestinians and the rule of law.”

The al-Haq report, though bleated and substantially circumscribed in its overall tone, is an appreciated effort.

After all, human rights and civic groups should speak up against the scandalous reign of repression that is taking place in the West Bank now by both Israel and the PA.

Interestingly, the wanton repression is being carried out in the name of upholding law and order and under the false rubric of safeguarding Palestinian national interests.

Today, the PA regime is a serious liability undermining our people’s ability to withstand Israeli repression. Some Palestinians are already contemplating emigration because they can’t withstand the sinister behavior of the PA government, especially the security agencies.

PA repression of the Palestinian people should therefore be viewed as no less than another layer of the Israeli occupation since the PA is very much a police state without a state, an entity that is first and foremost responsible to Israel and the United States; it is an authority that represses and torments its people on Israel’s behalf and in order to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the donor countries.

There is indeed a mountain of evidence incriminating this authority. Western donors, upon which the PA depends almost completely for its very survival, are well aware of the serious abuses meted out by the PA to its own citizens in West Bank.

These are the same states whose leaders don’t stop blathering and babbling about building the infrastructure of a modern Palestinian state where the rule of law is upheld and democracy is the way of life.

In fact, however, the West, especially the US, is actively helping the PA build a police state (of course minus sovereignty) where political dissidents and non-conformist journalists are arrested, beaten, tortured and occasionally killed.

The un-elected government of Salam Fayyad in Ramallah often presents itself as an example of a modern administration that is transparent, corruption-free and upholding the rule of law.

But in reality this is very much a deceptive and inaccurate portrait of a government that is answerable to no one except perhaps the American administration.

The utter bankruptcy and powerlessness of this government manifest itself in its failure and/or inability to rein in the rampant encroachment on citizens’ rights and liberties by bloated security agencies that have gone really wild.

Needless to say, the security apparatus intervenes and interferes in every aspect of Palestinian civilian life, like who is instated in his job, who receives a regular salary, who receives a promotion, and who is allowed to take part in societal and civic activities.

Indeed, “political loyalty” has already become the most determining factor in the way the government deals with its citizens and civil servants.

Today, the notorious “security committee” introduced into every government ministry is granted the final say in instating civil servants in their jobs or firing them because of their political orientation.

A classical or rather scandalous example of how the security agencies are corroding Palestinian civil life is the refusal of the PA government to pay the salaries of some 3000 teachers hired in 2006 under the democratically-elected government led by Hamas.

For two years now, the PA government has been telling the teachers that their “files” are still being reviewed by the “security agencies.”

However, the truth is that many of these teachers are being punished because they are suspected of having voted for Hamas or other political parties when the legislative elections took place in 2006.

When the Fayyad government is confronted with this scandalous conduct, it usually resorts to evasion and prevarication.

“We have committed some mistakes but we are still committed to upholding the rule of law,” Salam Fayad was quoted as saying recently.

Well, Fayadh can’t be given the benefit of the doubt since the rape of the rule of law by the security agencies has really reached unprecedented proportions. Some observers contend that even at the height of Israeli repression, when the Israeli army’s so-called “Civil Administration” was running the West Bank, teachers continued to receive their salaries, notwithstanding their political opposition to the occupation.

But if Fayadh is truly sincere about upholding the rule of law, he should immediately order the security apparatus to stop interfering with civilian life, such as arresting journalists and suspected Hamas activists. After all, the Palestinian justice system, if allowed to function without interference from the executive authority, can effectively deal with any violations of the law.

Unfortunately, the fact that the unelected Prime Minister has utterly failed to do so shows that he is not the long-sought-after democrat western media loves to caricature.

A few days ago, a high-ranking PA official told an Israeli newspaper, that the repression was necessary to “govern.”

Well, this official should be told that a government based on repression of its citizens is a failed government, both politically and morally.

Besides, what “governing” is this uneducated official talking about? Doesn’t he realize that he can hardly leaves the confines of Ramallah without an Israeli permit?

Finally, the PA regime in Ramallah often seeks to defend its repressive tactics in the West Bank on the ground that that the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip are repressing Fatah supporters in Gaza.

Well, regardless of the veracity or mendacity of reports about the “Fatah plight” in Gaza, the PA government should realize that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Apart from that, it is obvious that Hamas is not really trying to topple the PA rule in the West Bank (as Fatah is doing in Gaza), since doing so would necessitate that Hamas be militarily stronger than Israel and the PA combined, which is a silly and unthinkable idea.

Hence, the claims by Fatah that the current reign of repression in the West Bank is meant to forestall a possible “coup” by Hamas against the “legitimate authority” has absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

US Hypocrisy Reaches Critical Mass

US Hypocrisy Reaches Critical Mass

Jyoti Mishra


Dick Cheney – proud mass-murderer

Bzangy Groink

US Vice-President Dick Cheney has condemned what he called Russia’s “illegitimate” attempt to change Georgia’s borders last month.

Mr Cheney added that Russia’s actions during the recent conflict with Georgia had cast doubt on its reliability as an international partner.
(Source: BBC News)

This is the same Dick Cheney that said that the butchering of over one million Iraqis by illegally invading US forces was, in his words, a “major success.” (Source: ABC)

Was Cheney so worried about borders when his country invaded a sovereign, non-aggressor nation, committing a war crime?

But the USA is a proud defender of national borders… when it suits them:

Pakistan has condemned an alleged raid by foreign [US] troops based in Afghanistan which officials say killed at least 15 villagers in a north-west tribal area.

The South Waziristan raid would be the first ever ground assault into Pakistan by foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Pakistan says the raid was a violation of its sovereignty. On Thursday a US missile killed at least five people in nearby North Waziristan, officials say.
(Source: BBC News)

You won’t see that particular border violation on your telly. There’s not enough time, what with all the anti-Russia hype whipped-up by the warmongers of Washington.

Oh, but we must all follow the US line: Russia BAD, Georgia GOOD. After all, who started the bloodshed in the first place, them Russians, wasn’t it? Umm…

The conflict between Georgia and Russia erupted on 7 August after Georgia tried to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force.

Russian forces launched a counter-attack and the conflict ended with the ejection of Georgian troops from South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia.
(Source: BBC News)

Now, that’s strange! The way everything is being reported on the TV news, it’s Russia that are the heartless invaders, trying to chop poor little Georgia into pieces. No doubt, this means the people of South Ossetia HATE the Russians, doesn’t it? Ermmm…

They [South Ossetians] are very clear who they blame: Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili, who sent troops to re-take control of this breakaway region. That effort has clearly backfired. The pro-Russian sentiment I experienced on my last visit four years ago has become far fiercer as a result of this conflict.

“They signed a ceasefire, but Saakashvili can start bombing us again any minute,” Lusya said, referring to the OSCE/EU-brokered peace plan between Moscow and Tbilisi.

“Look how many people died here! We can never join Georgia after this. We’ll cope on our own.”

“We were bombed for three days and nights. If Russia had not helped, we would have disappeared,” Lusya’s neighbour Elena said, visibly angry. “Only Russia takes us under its wing. We want to be with Russia.”
(Source: BBC News)

So, South Ossetia sees Russia as the saviour and Georgia as the aggressor. That’s a bit different from what good old Dick Cheney, mass-murderer of Iraqis, triumphant bomber of Afghan children says, innit?

One would think, the way every poodle of the USA, sorry, great Western democracy has backed the US that the Russian troops in South Ossetia must be lepers. They must be having as hard a time as the US troops in Iraq. Surely? Hmmm…

Despite international calls for a withdrawal, there is no sign of Russia pulling its troops out of Ossetia. By Wednesday, they had received an order to cease fire, but not to leave.

Their presence is popular with many locals, who wave as soldiers drive past in the street. (Source: BBC News)

Ahhh, not quite the same as how the Iraqis and Afghans see the US forces in their countries, is it? But then, Cheney manages to accuse Russia of warmongering at the same time as standing on the pile of Iraqi corpses and calling that mission a success! Amazing! This man is some kind of Oscar-level actor, to be able to spout such hypocritical nonsense with a straight face.

Do you remember this?

There is convincing evidence that 60 children and 30 adults were killed in a US air strike in western Afghanistan last Friday, the United Nations says. (Source: BBC News)

Those sixty innocent children that the USA just murdered – is the US government apologetic? Guilty? Filled with remorse? Nope. It just denies it ever happened and, yet again, rubbishes the UN when it suits its purposes. So much for the US’ hand-wringing about naughty Russia and their aggression. And now the US is pumping war funds into Georgia under the guise of aid. Yeah, right.

Again, I am not saying that Russia is good. Russia is, after all, another superpower. All I’m saying is that if you want to find the most destructive, most dangerous, most imperialistic nation on earth, don’t look at Russia.

Look at the USA and their hideous record of murder, torture and kidnapping in Afganistan and Iraq. Nothing Russia has done can match the USA’s evil there.

Russia, Europe and USA: Fundamental Geopolitics

Russia, Europe and USA: Fundamental Geopolitics

F. William Engdahl

Global Research

As details of the larger strategic picture emerge over what is at stake in the Georgia and larger Caucasus crisis it is becoming clearer that Moscow is determined to roll back not to the borders of Stalin and the Cold War of 1948. What Putin and now Medvedev have begun is a process of defusing the highly dangerous NATO expansion, led by the Washington warhawks since the end of the Cold War in 1990.

Had events progressed as Washington had planned up until the surprise rejection of NATO membership from no less than 10 European NATO member countries, including Germany and France, at the April NATO Summit, Georgia would today have been in the admission process to NATOization along with Ukraine. That would have opened the door to full-scale encirclement of Russia militarily and economically.

In a certain sense it is not interesting who fired the first shot in South Ossetia in the night of 8 August. Clear is that Russia had prepared well for such a shot. To understand events, we need to go back to the basics of geopolitical fundamentals and US or Anglo-American strategy since 1945. This is what Russia has challenged by its response to Georgia’s attack.

Fundamental axioms of geopolitics

What few people realize is that the architect of America’s post-1945 grand strategy was a British national, Sir Halford Mackinder. Mackinder, the grand strategist of British imperial power since his landmark 1904 paper, the Geographical Pivot of History, defined how the United States could dominate the post World War Two world in a contribution to the leading foreign policy organ of the United States, Foreign Affairs.

In his July 1943 Foreign Affairs article, written a few years before his death but when it was clear that the United States would replace the British Empire in the postwar world, Mackinder outlined the vital strategic importance for American global strategy of controlling what Mackinder called the ‘Heartland.’ He defined the Heartland as the northern part and the interior of Euro-Asia, essentially Russia-Ukraine-Belarus — what was then the USSR. For Mackinder the strategic import of the Heartland was its special geography, with the widest lowland plain on earth, great navigable rivers and vast grassland zones.

Mackinder compared the strategic importance of Russia in 1943 to that of France in 1914-18: ‘Russia repeats in essentials the pattern of France, but on a greater scale with her open frontier turned westward instead of northeastward. In the present war the Russian army is aligned across that open frontier. In its rear is the vast plain of the Heartland, available for defense in depth and for strategic retreat.’ Mackinder noted to his American policy readers,‘ . . . if the Soviet Union emerges from this war as the conqueror of Germany, she must rank as the greatest land power on the globe . . . the power in the strategically strongest defensive position. The Heartland is the greatest natural fortress on earth.’ [1]

What Mackinder went on to suggest in that little-known essay was that Western Europe, above all the German industrial challenge to the Anglo-American hegemony, would be best contained by a hostile Heartland USSR power to the east and a militarily strong American power on the Atlantic. In a certain sense it did not matter whether that USSR power was still friendly to Washington or a Cold War foe. The effect would still be to contain Western Europe and make it a US sphere of influence after 1945.

US war plans in 1945 against Moscow

As I detail in my book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, dealing with present US military policy in the wake of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact some 17 years ago, US President Harry Truman and Churchill both considered an immediate war against the Heartland the moment Germany had surrendered. [2]

Only a US veto of Churchill’s geopolitical plan delayed the Cold War by three years. Difficult to understand for many is that the Cold War was in large part a US geopolitical strategy to dominate the postwar global order by using a hostile Russia and a hostile China in Asia after the Korean War, to make United States military protection, via NATO and via various Asian defense arrangements, the essential fact of postwar life.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s suddenly confronted Washington policymakers with a devastating strategic dilemma. Their “enemy image” — the Soviet Bear, was gone. China was an economic partner. There was no need for NATO to continue beyond a period of careful disarmament on both sides.

That lack of an enemy image, Russia, for strategists like US adviser to Barack Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a strategic threat to continued American Sole Superpower domination. In his 1997 essay in the same Foreign Affairs magazine as his mentor, Mackinder, Brzezinski, who like Henry Kissinger, has implicitly and even explicitly deployed Mackinder geopolitical ideas to shape US foreign policy, outlined the goal of US foreign policy, post-Cold War:

America’s emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative.

Eurasia is home to most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world’s most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy . . . Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world’s population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia’s potential power overshadows even America’s.

Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa . . . What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.

. . . In the short run, the United States should consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism on the map of Eurasia. This strategy will put a premium on political maneuvering and diplomatic manipulation, preventing the emergence of a hostile coalition that could challenge America’s primacy, not to mention the remote possibility of any one state seeking to do so . . . [3]

Mackinder and the Bush Doctrine

Briefly restated, US foreign policy, whether under George H.W. Bush, guided by Kissinger, or under Clinton or under George W. Bush, has followed the Mackinder outline suggested in the Brzezinski statement — divide and rule, balance of power politics. Preventing any ‘rival power’ or groups of power on Eurasia from ‘challenging’ American sole Superpower dominance was codified in the official National Security Strategy of the United States, published in September 2002, a year after September 11. [4]

That Bush Doctrine policy went so far as to justify for the first time ‘preemptive’ war, such as the attack on Iraq in 2003, to depose foreign regimes that represented a threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat were not immediate. That doctrine ended definitively for much of the civilized world the American legitimacy in foreign affairs.

Since 2002, Washington has pushed relentlessly with an agenda of covert regime change, most exemplified by its covert organizing of pro-NATO regime changes in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003-2004. Washington has organized, in violation of the agreement it had pledged when James Baker III met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, namely that the US would not extend the borders of NATO eastwards in return for Moscow allowing a united Germany to be a member of NATO. [5]

Washington conveniently suffered a case of diplomatic amnesia as people like John McCain’s foreign policy guru, Randy Scheunemann, a leading neoconservative hawk, led the campaign after 1991 to bring Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic and other former Warsaw Pact states into NATO. Moscow, not surprisingly, became alarmed at the pattern. Understandably so.

Finally, when Washington announced in early 2007 that it planned to station its missile ‘defense’ array in Poland, including US missiles, and in the Czech Republic, then-President Putin reacted loudly. His remarks were largely censored by the ever-watchful US media, and only the comments of US officials expressing ‘shock’ at the hostile reaction of Russia to the US missile defense plans, were reported.

Washington made the ludicrous argument that the Polish and Czech installations were necessary to defend US security interests in event of a potential nuclear missile attack by Iran. When Putin exposed the fraud of the Bush administration’s Iran defense argument by proposing an alternative site for US interceptor radar far closer to Teheran in Azerbaijan, a surprised Bush was left speechless. Washington simply ignored the Azerbaijani option and rammed ahead with Poland and the Czech sites. [6]

What few people outside military strategy circles know is that missile defense, even primitive, is as one leading American missile defense strategist put it, “the missing link to a nuclear first strike capability.” [7] If the United States is able to deploy missile defense on Russia’s borders and Russia has none, the US has won World War III and is in a position to dictate terms of unconditional surrender to Russia, its dismemberment as a viable nation, its entire dismantlement. Little wonder that Putin reacted. Moscow strategists know full well what US military adventures have been since the 1940s.

Eurasian geopolitics post 8-8-8

This all leads us back to the consequences of the Russian response in Georgia after 8.8.08. What Russia has done by swiftly responding with military force, followed by the announcement by President Medvedev of Russia’s Five Points of Russian foreign policy, which some western commentators have dubbed the Medvedev Doctrine. The five points include, in addition to Russia’s reaffirmation of its commitment to the principles of international law, a simple statement that ‘the world should be multipolar.’

Medvedev notes, ‘A single-pole world is unacceptable. Domination is something we cannot allow. We cannot accept a world order in which one country makes all the decisions, even as serious and influential a country as the United States of America. Such a world is unstable and threatened by conflict.’ Then after stating its wish to have peaceful friendly relations with Europe the USA and others, and its intent to protect its citizens ‘wherever they may be,’ Medvedev comes to the decisive fifth point: ‘as is the case of other countries, there are regions in which Russia has privileged interests. These regions are home to countries with which we share special historical relations and are bound together as friends and good neighbors. We will pay particular attention to our work in these regions and build friendly ties with these countries, our close neighbors.’ [8]

If we follow the latest Russian foreign policy moves with the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign independent states, Russia’s August 29 agreement with Tajikistan that allows Russia to expand its presence at Tajikstan’s Gissar Airport. The fact of that agreement was a potentially devastating blow to Washington’s Eurasia geopolitical strategy. Tajikistan, a remote central Asian country with dependence on Russia for export of its uranium and dependent on heroin for much of its income, was drawing closer to a strategic link with Washington after 2005. In the wake of the Russian reaction in Georgia, Tajikistan’s dictator, President Emomali Rakhmon, clearly decided his best security guarantee lay in closer ties with Moscow not Washington.

The government of pro-NATO ‘Orange Revolution’ President Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine collapsed on September 3, when Yushchenko pulled out of the ruling coalition over the refusal of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to back the president in his support for Georgia and condemnation of Russia in the recent conflict over South Ossetia. Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko of ‘treason and political corruption,’ over her failure to back a pro-US stand. He also withdrew over new laws passed by Tymoshenko’s party in de facto coalition, stripping the president of his veto on prime ministerial candidates, and facilitating a procedure for impeaching the president. According to Russia’s RAI Novosti, Ukraine’s pro-Russian former prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, who heads the Party of Regions, has said that he does not rule out the possibility of forming a parliamentary majority with the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc. Such a move would likely remove from the discussion the entire issue of a Ukrainian application to join NATO.

American global strategy is in crisis, and this is clearly what Moscow has sensed. The United States has insufficient power to cope with the war in Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan. Both were to have been an essential part of a US policy to militarily control Eurasian rivals, especially Russia and China. However, to act militarily beyond sabre rattling against Russia in Georgia has now been exposed for all Georgia’s neighbor states as essentially a US bluff.

Continuing the current US strategy means dealing with the war on Islam rather than the Russian one. The confluence of US presidential political posturing, a devastating US economic and financial crisis that is worsening by the day and the loss of credibility for US foreign policy around the world since the Bush administration came to Washington in 2001 have created the opening for other powers to begin to act on what would be Halford Mackinder’s worst nightmare: A Russian Heartland that is vital and that is able to forge strategic relationships, primarily not through guns as during the Cold War, but through economic and trade cooperation, with China, Kazakhstan and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Washington has made devastating strategic miscalculations, but not merely in Georgia. They began back in 1990 when there had been a beautiful opportunity to build bridges of peaceful economic cooperation between the OECD and Russia. Instead, George Bush senior and the US sent NATO and the IMF east to create economic chaos, looting and instability, evidently thinking that a better option. The next president will bear the consequences of having lost that opportunity.

Notes

1. Sir Halford J. Mackinder, The Round World and the Winning of the Peace, New York Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 4, July 1943, pp.599-601.

2. While still ostensible allies, during the World War II the United States started to prepare for war with the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1945, at the time of the Conference in Potsdam, the United States had secretly adopted a policy of ‘striking the first blow’ in a nuclear war against the Soviet Union. To that effect a secret document JCS 1496 was drafted on July 19, 1945. The first plan for nuclear attack was drafted soon afterwards by General Dwight Eisenhower at the order of President Truman.

The plan, called TOTALITY (JIC 329/1), envisioned a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union with 20 to 30 Atomic-bombs. It earmarked 20 Soviet cities for obliteration in a first strike: Moscow, Gorki, Kuibyshev, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk , Omsk, Saratov, Kazan, Leningrad , Baku, Tashkent, Chelyabinsk, Nizhni Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Molotov, Tbilisi, Stalinsk, Grozny, Irkutsk, and Jaroslavl.” Detailed in Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod, To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans, Boston, South End Press, 1987, pp. 30-31. The secret Pentagon strategy since the end of the Cold War to use modernization of its nuclear strike force and deployment of missile defense technology is but a modern update of a policy established in 1945 — Full Spectrum Dominance of the world, via the destruction of the only power capable of resisting that dominance — Russia.

3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, A geostrategy for Eurasia, New York Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, September/October 1997.

4. Condoleezza Rice, et al, National Security Strategy of the United States, Washington D.C., National Security Council, September 20, 2002.

5. Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed , Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 180-184. US Ambassador to Moscow at that time, Jack Matlock, confirmed in personal discussion with German researcher, Hannes Adomeit, of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, that he had been present and noted in his diary that US Secretary of State James Baker III had agreed in talks with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that ‘Any extension of the zone of NATO is unacceptable.’ Curiously, Baker omitted the pledge entirely in his memoirs.

6. Richard L. Garwin, Ballistic Missile Defense Deployment to Poland and the Czech Republic, A Talk to the Erice International Seminars, 38th Session, August 21, 2007, in www.fas.org/RLG/. Garwin, a senior US defense scientist demonstrated the fraudulent nature of the US Government’s motivation for its missile policy, p.17. Garwin asks, ‘Are there alternatives to the Czech-Polish deployment? Yes . . . An Aegis cruiser deployed in the Baltic Sea and another in the Mediterranean could thus provide equivalent protection of Europe against Iranian missiles.’ Garwin as well reaches the same conclusion as Putin: the US missiles are aimed directly at Russia.

7. Robert Bowman, Lt. Col. and former head of SDI research under President Ronald Reagan, cited in, National Security Council Institutional Files, POLICY FOR PLANNING THE EMPLOYMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, 17 Jan 1974, NSDM 242.

8. RAI Novosti, Medvedev outlines five main points of future foreign policy, August 31, 2008.

¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤

© 2008 F. William Engdahl

The wife U.S. Republican John McCain Dumped

The wife U.S. Republican John McCain

callously left behind

By Sharon Churcher

Now that Hillary Clinton has at last formally withdrawn from the race for the White House, the eyes of America and the world will focus on Barack Obama and his Republican rival Senator John McCain.

While Obama will surely press his credentials as the embodiment of the American dream – a handsome, charismatic young black man who was raised on food stamps by a single mother and who represents his country’s future – McCain will present himself as a selfless, principled war hero whose campaign represents not so much a battle for the presidency of the United States, but a crusade to rescue the nation’s tarnished reputation.

Carol McCain

Forgotten woman: But despite all her problems Carol McCain says she still adores he ex-husband

McCain likes to illustrate his moral fibre by referring to his five years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to family values, the 71-year-old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children.

But there is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator’s presidential campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about, despite being mother to McCain’s three eldest children.

And yet, had events turned out differently, it would be she, rather than Cindy, who would be vying to be First Lady. She is McCain’s first wife, Carol, who was a famous beauty and a successful swimwear model when they married in 1965.

She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news.

But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries.

When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeons

had been forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.

Through sheer hard work, Carol learned to walk again. But when John McCain came home from Vietnam, she had gained a lot of weight and bore little resemblance to her old self.

Today, she stands at just 5ft4in and still walks awkwardly, with a pronounced limp. Her body is held together by screws and metal plates and, at 70, her face is worn by wrinkles that speak of decades of silent suffering.

For nearly 30 years, Carol has maintained a dignified silence about the accident, McCain and their divorce. But last week at the bungalow where she now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington, she told The Mail on Sunday how McCain divorced her in 1980 and married Cindy, 18 years his junior and the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune, just one month later.

John and Cindy McCain

Golden couple: John and Cindy McCain at a charity gala in Los Angeles

Carol insists she remains on good terms with her ex-husband, who agreed as part of their divorce settlement to pay her medical costs for life. ‘I have no bitterness,’

she says. ‘My accident is well recorded. I had 23 operations, I am five inches shorter than I used to be and I was in hospital for six months. It was just awful, but it wasn’t the reason for my divorce.

‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens…it just does.’

Some of McCain’s acquaintances are less forgiving, however. They portray the politician as a self-centred womaniser who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to ‘play the field’. They accuse him of finally settling on Cindy, a former rodeo beauty queen, for financial reasons.

McCain was then earning little more than £25,000 a year as a naval officer, while his new father-in-law, Jim Hensley, was a multi-millionaire who had impeccable political connections.

He first met Carol in the Fifties while he was at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He was a privileged, but rebellious scion of one of America’s most distinguished military dynasties – his father and grandfather were both admirals.

But setting out to have a good time, the young McCain hung out with a group of young officers who called themselves the ‘Bad Bunch’.

His primary interest was women and his conquests ranged from a knife-wielding floozy nicknamed ‘Marie, the Flame of Florida’ to a tobacco heiress.

Carol fell into his fast-living world by accident. She escaped a poor upbringing in Philadelphia to become a successful model, married an Annapolis classmate of McCain’s and had two children – Douglas and Andrew – before renewing what one acquaintance calls ‘an old flirtation’ with McCain.

It seems clear she was bowled over by McCain’s attention at a time when he was becoming bored with his playboy lifestyle.

‘He was 28 and ready to settle down and he loved Carol’s children,’ recalled another Annapolis graduate, Robert Timberg, who wrote The Nightingale’s Song, a bestselling biography of McCain and four other graduates of the academy.

The couple married and McCain adopted Carol’s sons. Their daughter, Sidney, was born a year later, but domesticity was clearly beginning

to bore McCain – the couple were regarded as ‘fixtures on the party circuit’ before McCain requested combat duty in Vietnam at the end of 1966.

He was assigned as a bomber pilot on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin.

What follows is the stuff of the McCain legend. He was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967 on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam and was badly beaten by an angry mob when he was pulled, half-drowned from a lake.

war hero John McCain

War hero: McCain with Carol as he arrives back in the US in 1973 after his five years as a PoW in North Vietnam

Over the next five-and-a-half years in the notorious Hoa Loa Prison he was regularly tortured and mistreated.

It was in 1969 that Carol went to spend the Christmas holiday – her third without McCain – at her parents’ home. After dinner, she left to drop off some presents at a friend’s house.

It wasn’t until some hours later that she was discovered, alone and in terrible pain, next to the wreckage of her car. She had been hurled through the windscreen.

After her first series of life-saving operations, Carol was told she may never walk again, but when doctors said they would try to get word to McCain about her injuries, she refused, insisting: ‘He’s got enough problems, I don’t want to tell him.’

H. Ross Perot, a billionaire Texas businessman, future presidential candidate and advocate of prisoners of war, paid for her medical care.

When McCain – his hair turned prematurely white and his body reduced to little more than a skeleton – was released in March 1973, he told reporters he was overjoyed to see Carol again.

But friends say privately he was ‘appalled’ by the change in her appearance. At first, though, he was kind, assuring her: ‘I don’t look so good myself. It’s fine.’

He bought her a bungalow near the sea in Florida and another former PoW helped him to build a railing so she could pull herself over the dunes to the water.

‘I thought, of course, we would live happily ever after,’ says Carol. But as a war hero, McCain was moving in ever-more elevated circles.

Through Ross Perot, he met Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California. A sympathetic Nancy Reagan took Carol under her wing.

But already the McCains’ marriage had begun to fray. ‘John started carousing and running around with women,’ said Robert Timberg.

McCain has acknowledged that he had girlfriends during this time, without going into details. Some friends blame his dissatisfaction with Carol, but others give some credence to her theory of a mid-life crisis.

He was also fiercely ambitious, but it was clear he would never become an admiral like his illustrious father and grandfather and his thoughts were turning to politics.

In 1979 – while still married to Carol – he met Cindy at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage.

Carol and her children were devastated. ‘It was a complete surprise,’ says Nancy Reynolds, a former Reagan aide.

‘They never displayed any difficulties between themselves. I know the Reagans were quite shocked because they loved and respected both Carol and John.’

Another friend added: ‘Carol didn’t fight him. She felt her infirmity made her an impediment to him. She justified his actions because of all he had gone through. She used to say, “He just wants to make up for lost time.”’

Indeed, to many in their circle the saddest part of the break-up was Carol’s decision to resign herself to losing a man she says she still adores.

Friends confirm she has remained friends with McCain and backed him in all his campaigns. ‘He was very generous to her in the divorce but of course he could afford to be, since he was marrying Cindy,’ one observed.

McCain transferred the Florida beach house to Carol and gave her the right to live in their jointly-owned townhouse in the Washington suburb of Alexandria. He also agreed to pay her alimony and child support.

A former neighbour says she subsequently sold up in Florida and Washington and moved in 2003 to Virginia Beach. He said: ‘My impression was that she found the new place easier to manage as she still has some difficulties walking.’

Meanwhile McCain moved to Arizona with his new bride immediately after their 1980 marriage. There, his new father-in-law gave him a job and introduced him to local businessmen and political powerbrokers who would smooth his passage to Washington via the House of Representatives and Senate.

And yet despite his popularity as a politician, there are those who won’t forget his treatment of his first wife.

Ted Sampley, who fought with US Special Forces in Vietnam and is now a leading campaigner for veterans’ rights, said: ‘I have been following John McCain’s career for nearly 20 years. I know him personally. There is something wrong with this guy and let me tell you what it is – deceit.

‘When he came home and saw that Carol was not the beauty he left behind, he started running around on her almost right away. Everybody around him knew it.

‘Eventually he met Cindy and she was young and beautiful and very wealthy. At that point McCain just dumped Carol for something he thought was better.

‘This is a guy who makes such a big deal about his character. He has no character. He is a fake. If there was any character in that first marriage, it all belonged to Carol.’

One old friend of the McCains said: ‘Carol always insists she is not bitter, but I think that’s a defence mechanism. She also feels deeply in his debt because in return for her agreement to a divorce, he promised to pay for her medical care for the rest of her life.’

Carol remained resolutely loyal as McCain’s political star rose. She says she agreed to talk to The Mail on Sunday only because she wanted to publicise her support for the man who abandoned her.

Indeed, the old Mercedes that she uses to run errands displays both a disabled badge and a sticker encouraging people to vote for her ex-husband. ‘He’s a good guy,’ she assured us. ‘We are still good friends. He is the best man for president.’

But Ross Perot, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

‘McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he said.

‘After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.’