Craig Hulet's Reductionist Gulf War Critiques

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One critic of government policies who draws from both left and right sources and perspectives is Seattle-based analyst Craig B. Hulet. During the past year, progressive radio stations including KPFA in San Francisco and KPFK in Los Angeles aired compelling condemnations of the Gulf War produced by Hulet, also known as K.C. DePass. A number of study groups were formed in California following Hulet's radio and personal appearances. Hulet claimed in an interview that his theories have no relation to conspiracist theories such as those circulated by the John Birch Society, and he is quick to distance himself from the racialist and anti-Jewish theories of far-right groups such as Liberty Lobby. Still, Hulet's analysis, which exaggerates the role of the Al Sabah family in world affairs, has many of the hallmarks of other oversimplified conspiracist theories which reduce complex issues to simple equations; and it seems to scapegoat one family of Arabs, albeit one with powerful financial holdings, in a way that would be equally unacceptable if their name was Rothschild rather than Al Sabah. No matter what his actual affiliations, Hulet essentially employs a variation on the elite financial insider conspiracy of the John Birch Society.

Hulet has a smooth style and self-confident tone, but in essence, Hulet's analysis reflects a cynical right-wing libertarian perspective laced with conspiratorial theories. The basic theme of his Gulf War analysis boils down to an assertion that Kuwait's ruling Al Sabah family dictated U.S. policy in the Gulf War in concert with ruling financial elites in the United States. According to Hulet, the Al Sabah family could do this because they controlled vast financial holdings in the U.S. and they threatened to withdraw those holdings and collapse the U.S. economy unless the U.S. pushed Iraq out of Kuwait. Hulet also maintains that the investments of George Bush and his father Prescott make George Bush vulnerable to manipulation by the Al Sabah family.

Hulet's assertions in The Secret U.S. Agenda in the Gulf War, published during the Gulf War period as part of the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series, show his proclivity for unjustified conclusory statements:

Sabah is the key to making this whole thing unfold and work so well in fine mesh. The financial holdings of the Al Sabah family in this country alone in our Western banks, our six largest banks offshore, is $300 billion dollars. They own $52 billion in U.S. T-bills and bonds. The Citicorp portfolio alone is $10 billion in assets held by the Sabah family. No more than 5% of GE, McDonald Douglas, Westinghouse, Dow Chemical, Atlantic Richfield, Texaco, you name it. The multinational corporations. Six of the ones I just named are our largest listed defense contractors....There's no question that the international community has guaranteed that they would back the use of force and come to the aid of the Al Sabah family, even if it means 100,000 Americans die, because he could cause financial chaos.26

A Hulet promotional brochure reveals a pattern of similar reductionist statements and unsubstantiated conspiratorial claims. According to the brochure:

Hulet outlines the actual political objectives of the Bush administration regarding the Middle East...why we gave Hussein the green light to invade Kuwait and why Bush will disallow any legitimate cease fire overture by Hussein....volatile...material concerning George Bush's connections as well as those of his father, Prescott Bush...Middle East and the New World Order discussed in detail...

The brochure claims that the Hulet report Overview of Government Corruption and Manipulation provides "an excellent understanding identifying the elite and how and why they control society" . In a similar vein, the brochure claims the Hulet report The Gnomes of Zurich provides, " overview identifying the elites who manage this country and how and why they control it's aim...."

The text of The Gnomes of Zurich shows a more detailed yet consistent reliance on conspiratorial assertions:

Keeping the left wing grass roots at the throat of the right wing grass roots, serves the purpose, the means, and ultimately..., the END, of these quite powerful elitists. As each side at the basic root level; the grass roots level if you will, are both being used, duped, and manipulated by the Elite...They are quite simply, these sincere yet almost silly at times local people, unwittingly part of an ingenious plan to create a synthesis...ingenious because of its simplicity...For you see the Elite in the Kremlin, and the Elite in Washington quite agree on the end at which they both aim (the synthesis). A Global Regime.

These are just a few examples of Hulet's conspiracist style. Most of Hulet's work concerns conspiracies of the "elites." Actually, much of Hulet's thesis is an echo of the book Call it Conspiracy by Larry Abraham, which is itself a rewrite and expansion of the book None Dare Call it Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham. Allen's writings were widely popularized by the John Birch Society. Hulet's intellectual tradition can clearly be shown to be congruent with that of the John Birch Society.

In at least one case, Hulet moves beyond conspiracism into elevating a satire to documentary status. Hulet labels as fact material from the book Report from Iron Mountain. Hulet refers to the work as if it were a secret government document. Actually, Report from Iron Mountain is an allegorical critique of the pro-militarist lobby and a well-known example of political satire27.

While an excellent philosophical discussion of the errors of the Cold War, it should be noted that it was produced by Leonard C. Lewin, described on the book jacket as a "critic and satirist" who was editor of A Treasury of American Political Humor. Apparently Hulet didn't get the joke. Even the Institute for Historical Review, which sells Report from Iron Mountain, says in its current "Noontide Press" catalog: "was it the actual text of a secret report...or a brilliant satire? Judge for yourself."

Hulet also plows the ground of left/right coalition. Hulet says that he works closely with former Christic Institute attorney Lanny Sinkin to buttress his credibility on the left. On one radio interview, Hulet responded to a question regarding third parties in the U.S. by saying:

The problem with those third parties is that they are such a tiny, tiny minority of the intelligentsia. Many of them like the Libertarian Party is splintered between factions. They are fighting amongst themselves. They still see it as a left-wing right-wing dialectic that they must oppose. And all I'm trying to make very clear to the American people, including the ones that read all the right books, is that the enemy is our government. The enemy is not part of our society. It has always historically been them versus us. The government versus the people. And the American people have to stop fighting amongst themselves.

Pacifica radio network stations KPFK in Los Angeles and KPFA in San Francisco aired long programs with Hulet, and audiotapes of his radio interviews quickly became some of the Pacifica Archives' best-selling tapes. According to the program manager of KPFA, Hulet was one of the most requested radio personalities during and after the Gulf War.

Hulet recommends the research on Trilateralism of Antony C. Sutton, a far-right theorist who publishes the Phoenix Letter: A Report on the Abuse of Power, and Future Technology Intelligence Report. The latter carried Sutton's sentiment that "without political intervention cancer would have been cured decades ago." Citing Sutton in any context is problematic given Sutton's exotic views. Sutton, for instance, asserts that various government and political operatives, controlled by international bankers, have suppressed the technology to control the weather, produce free energy, and achieve "Acoustical Levitation." Sutton also reports on "possible advanced alien technology" including anti-gravity devices recovered from UFOs by the U.S. government.

[[Sutton raised a legitimate complaint about the original wording of this section, so some text has been deleted and a correction is at:

When Hulet was asked why he would put forward Sutton as someone to prove his thesis, he replied that it was a choice between Sutton and Holly Sklar, and he considered Sklar a Marxist. This says much about the political milieu from which Hulet is emerging. Sklar, who has written progressive critiques of the Trilateralists, warns antiwar activists that "there is a big difference between understanding the influence of the Trilateral Commission on world affairs and the paranoid right-wing fantasy that the Trilateralists and their allies are an omnipotent cabal controlling the world. It's important for people to base their political decisions on facts, not lazy catch-all conspiracy theories."

Journalist David Barsamian interviewed Hulet for his Alternative Radio tape series which is aired on numerous local radio stations nationwide and often sold in the form of audio cassettes and printed transcripts. The Open Magazine pamphlet series reproduced Barsamian's interview with Hulet, and sold them alongside interviews with researchers who have a more substantial and serious track record, including Noam Chomsky, Helen Caldicott, and John Stockwell. According to co-owner Stuart Sahulka, the Hulet pamphlet was published because there was "such an overpressing need for information about the war," and that except for exaggerating the amount of Kuwaiti investment in the U.S., it seemed accurate. After selling one thousand copies of the pamphlet--far less than the others, Open Magazine did not reprint the pamphlet and it went out of print, according to Sahulka.

Barsamian suggested to Open Road that it would be appropriate not to reprint the Hulet pamphlet given the revelations emerging about Hulet. Barsamian was troubled by some of Hulet's assertions regarding the genesis of the Gulf War, and Hulet's apparent claim that the Kuwaiti royal families control of $300 billion in U.S. investments was the key issue in prompting the war. (Most newspapers and financial reporting services place the Kuwaiti/U.S. investment figure in the range of 30-50 billion dollars, with a low of 15 and a high of 80 in current documented mainstream and alternative press accounts.) Barsamian and other progressive researchers and journalists have been unable to document some of Hulet's claims, which may represent legitimate suppositions, but were presented by Hulet in numerous radio interviews as facts. Hulet argues that the integrity of his research should not be judged on the basis of radio interviews where discussions are often hectic and condensed. On the other hand, Hulet gained his influence as a Gulf War critic and his largest audience through radio talk shows.

Barsamian warns progressives of falling for the type of "left guruism" where sensational anti-government theories are accepted without any independent critical analysis. He notes that during the Gulf crisis Craig Hulet was elevated to expert status by progressives who accepted his pronouncements as fact without seriously examining his credentials, which he sometimes inflates.

For instance, one Hulet brochure describes him as a "Published columnist and political cartoonist. Articles frequently appear in national publications: Financial Security Digest, International Combat Arms, Seattle Times, LA Weekly, SF Examiner, Oakland Tribune and more." In fact, while the phrasing strongly suggests Hulet has written for the latter four publications, Hulet admits those cites actually refer to instances when he was quoted or his research used in preparing the article. Most journalists and academics would consider that a misrepresentation. In the long run, whether or not Hulet's analysis stands up to intellectual criticism will be determined by his ability to defend his thesis--a defense that can only take place if his views are vigorously debated, not uncritically accepted as gospel. That is the same critical standard to which all researchers should be held.

An especially useful book in understanding how Hulet's conspiracy theories of oligarchic manipulation, anti-government demagoguery, and appeal to individualism fits into the fascist tradition is "The Fascist Ego" by William R. Tucker28. The book is a study of the French intellectual fascist, Robert Brasillach, whose egocentric flirtation with fascism ended with his execution as a collaborator at the end of WWII.

Author Tucker, as the jacket blurb explains:

...sees in Brasillach's involvement in fascism a form of anarchic individualism or `right-wing anarchism.' He suggests that, far from being a form of social or moral conservatism, Brasillach's fascism was inspired by an anti-modernism that placed the creative individuals sensibilities and his ego at the center of things. Brasillach's fear that the individualist prerogatives of the creative elite would be submerged in the industrialized and rationalized society that loomed on the horizon was important as a basis for his thoughts and actions.

To understand Brasillach and his soul-mates is to understand Craig Hulet, and his followers.

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