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Bush Alerted Gorbachev Coup Loomed - Ex Advisor to USAID

© Sputnik / Dmitry Donskoi / Go to the photo bankMikhail Gorbachev in 1991
Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 - Sputnik International
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Former advisor to the US Agency for International Development Paolo von Schirach said that the US government warned the last Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in the summer of 1991 that a military plot was developing against him but he did not take the alert seriously.

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government warned the last Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in the summer of 1991 that a military plot was developing against him but he did not take the alert seriously, former advisor to the US Agency for International Development Paolo von Schirach told Sputnik.

"President George H.W. Bush did warn Mikhail Gorbachev about an impending coup against him back in the summer of 1991," Schirach said. "However, the Soviet president did not grasp how real the threat was and did not take serious countermeasures."

Schirach, who has also served as a consultant to the European Union, noted that the 1991 coup attempt was one of the very few occasions when the multi-billion dollar US intelligence apparatus had not been taken by surprise by a military coup attempted takeover in a major nation.

"Ironically, this was one rare occasion in which US intelligence really worked. America had critical information that could have been acted upon. Of course, there was a strong US national security interest in warning Gorbachev," Schirach recalled.

US policymakers in the first Bush administrator regarded Gorbachev as the reformist who might have been able to guide the Soviet Union into modernity, while embracing the notion that it could be possible and beneficial to forge friendly relations with the United States and the West, Schirach maintained.

However, "The overall record of US intelligence is rather poor when it comes to getting actionable information regarding sudden political changes in critical countries. The large and costly US intelligence apparatus does not have a stellar record when it comes to predicting anything at all," Schirach maintained.

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Enormous resources are spent every year in the large and secret US government "black budgets," but there is not much to show for all those investments, Schirach concluded.

"The most catastrophic failure is probably the inability to understand the political crisis affecting Iran at the end of 1978. The regime of the Shah was rapidly falling apart. Foolishly, nothing was done to prevent Khomeini's return to Iran. Well, we know what happened next," Schirach recalled.

More recently, in 2011, the administration of President Barack Obama was caught completely unprepared by the street protests that morphed into the Arab Spring, Schirach noted.

"The Iraq war catastrophe got started in March 2003 because of incredibly bad intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction… The CIA failure to get a clear grasp on what Iraq was up to in 2002 represents a gigantic intelligence failure," he added.

The failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15 appeared to be another example of a major US intelligence bungle, Schirach observed.

"Given the strong links between the US military and the Turkish armed forces, it seems strange that American intelligence was so completely clueless about what was about to happen in Turkey. Strange but not impossible, given the long record of past intelligence failures," he commented.

Paolo von Schirach is president of the Global Policy Institute.

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