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The Life of a Useless Man: John Train, 1928-2022

Sept. 23, 2022 (EIRNS)—On August 13 of this year, John Train, the self-described Cold War warrior and notorious Wall Street investment banker, passed away at a hospital near his summer home on Islesboro Island in Maine, at the age of 94. Train was a key figure in the “Get LaRouche” Task Force, and led the drive to unjustly frame and imprison LaRouche after LaRouche had successfully worked with the Reagan Administration to get key elements of his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) proposal adopted into official U.S. military doctrine. As a result of LaRouche’s unforgivable offense, of acting to overturn “Mutual Assured Destruction” as the basis of nuclear weapons policy, Train was deployed. On April 23, 1983, exactly one month after Ronald Reagan’s historic press conference announcing the Strategic Defense initiative, Train convened what would later be known as the “John Train salon,” a group of the era’s media criminals and scribblers for hire, who would generate a series of media slanders directed against LaRouche and his organization, many of which are still repeated today.

The New York Times, nearly a month after his death, dedicated an article to John Train’s sordid legacy. The author of the article, Alex Traub, gives a brief biographical account of Train’s life, including his involvement in founding the literary quarterly The Paris Review, and the books he wrote on such “fascinating, intriguing topics” as the “cultural histories of oranges” and “Oriental rug symbols.”

Aside from what Traub labels as Train’s “oddball preoccupations,” Train also acted as a notorious operator in the world of global finance and political affairs. His ties to U.S. intelligence agencies are noted in the article. Train had founded and led one of the most prestigious financial firms devoted to securing the assets and wealth of Wall Street’s elites, holding as much as $375 million at one point, in the days when a million dollars was “real money.” Perhaps noteworthy, if nauseating, is Traub’s fawning, lickspittle description of “the kind of person Train was,”—that is, posed as—saying that he “exemplified the attitudes and values of the exalted class he was born into: the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the postwar era. He was globe-bestriding but also self-effacing, erudite but also pragmatic, cosmopolitan but also nationalistic, solemn at one moment and droll the next.”

The article most notably goes into some detail about the personal witchhunt Train led against LaRouche, while also repeating the same slanders which are well-known to everybody:

“He [Train] treated his political interests less jokingly. A committed cold warrior, he wrote for the Wall Street Journal about military affairs. He became concerned that the conspiracy-monger Lyndon LaRouche was a ‘possible Soviet agent,’ Mr. Train’s longtime assistant Sara Perkins said in a phone interview, and he convened meetings at his home for journalists, law enforcement agents, and others in government to raise awareness about research he had done into Mr. LaRouche.

“Mr. Train’s activism provoked a ferocious reaction from Mr. LaRouche’s followers, who accused him in 1991 of serving as ‘chief propagandist in the “Get LaRouche” drive.’ In 2007, Washington Monthly wrote that Mr. LaRouche had encouraged his followers to believe that ‘they were the victims of mass conspiracies’ that were ‘usually perpetrated’ by Mr. Train.”

Train’s intelligence deployment using the front, a nonprofit organization called the Afghanistan Relief Committee, the author states, “presented itself as largely devoted to helping refugees and offering other forms of humanitarian aid, but a study by the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies found that its budget was spent largely on ‘media campaigns.’ ” The author cites a book written by Joel Whitney in 2016, Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, which partially goes through the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and the history between the Paris Review writers—which included Train himself—and the intelligence agencies with which it was associated.

Unfortunately, these “media campaigns” are never elaborated upon, but the article does makes mention of a memo, showing Train’s collaboration with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahideen warlord and drug trafficker, now designated a terrorist by the U.S. government.

Representative of many of LaRouche’s enemies, along with their destructive, nefarious political agendas, Train will not be missed, and his strange books will not be read among those who desire a new paradigm for mankind, one characterized by the policies LaRouche fought for all his life.

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