The Foreign Policy of Mass Society. Part II
Money, Guns and Imperialism from Kabul to Damascus
Few deny the base economic motives driving this and all wars in modernity. If oil is the most important single ingredient in the industrial economy, even to the point where fuel prices can send a country into a tailspin, then access to cheap oil becomes the main purpose of modern foreign policy.
Wherever there is money, the power of the western governments will be present to take advantage. Drugs mean money, weapons and a certain degree of prestige. Whether in Latin America or Central Asia, drug lords are well armed and capable of hiring mercenaries. Much of the dirty business of war can be done with both. Drug lords, if properly kept on a leash by the state, can perform acts less than heroic for the sake of building a credible threat to whomever the enemy happens to be at the time.
The economic interest in Afghanistan cannot be understated. Robert Blake, State Department official for Asian affairs, said “The region’s wealth of natural resources, nascent trade agreements, and a burgeoning network of transport and energy connections underscore the great economic promise of a more integrated South and Central Asia.” This is crucial to the American economy (Blake, 2012).
In addition, in March of 2013, Blake was far more explicit on the economic reasons for intervention. In his speech at the Turkic-American convention in Washington, he argues that the energy infrastructure must be integrated from the Islamic world to the US. This includes pipelines to both India and China. To assist Azerbaijan in its infrastructural development is critical, since, at least at the time, the Azeris were a key ally of the US while the Armenians are a key ally of Russia.
Blake skillfully brings the economic agenda into clear focus. He states that “Energy is one of the most promising areas for increased trade and transit. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan energy corridor shows us that linking producers in the region with consumers in Europe is a win-win. We hope to see the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, or TAPI, gas pipeline, as a similar boon for South and Central Asia.” Notice that this bypasses Russia, and links US allies in the area: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey (a member of NATO).
Then, Blake says, “. . . the region is becoming more integrated through trade liberalization – which includes the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers, improved regulatory regimes, transparent and efficient border clearance procedures, and coordinated policies – to accelerate the flow of goods, services, and people throughout the region” (Blake, 2013). While this is simple, concise and factual, it does not fly in the hinterlands. The rubes require shocks, black masked men and the threat of Islamic “Sharia law.”
This the central issue in the US intervention in Afghanistan and the rest of the Islamic world. Minimizing Russian oil and gas competition is essential. Mobilizing the infrastructure of key US allies is the main way to do this. Since Russia already has heavy investments in the region (and allies such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), the response of capital is to mobilize its own allies as it is clear that the free trade system and infrastructural integration will be under US control, since it will occur under US military protection.
In addition, a 2012 Commerce report on the neighboring state of Tajikistan confirms Blake's remarks. It suggests that oil and gas are the main concerns of US foreign policy in the area and, almost identically with that, defeating Russia is crucial to American security in the region. Challenging Russia in Central Asia is the essence of capital's global strategy. The Report states “Competition from Russian, Asian, and European producers is significant. Most consumers in Tajikistan are very price-sensitive and usually opt for lower prices over quality” and again “U.S. companies may see stiff competition from Russian, Iranian, Chinese, Turkish and Italian construction companies.” The most telling of all,
Through non-transparent practices and barriers to competition, the government burdens the private sector with unnecessary costs and creates substantial uncertainty and risk. Accordingly, the principal investors in recent years have been governments with geopolitical interests in the region, especially China, Russia, and Iran (Commerce, 2012).
Therefore, it is easy to conclude that the vital US interest concerns challenging Russia for control of the oil and gas pipelines to Central Asia, which of course, includes Afghanistan and Pakistan. The integration of this part of the world is an indispensable part of capital's outlook on foreign affairs as the pipeline infrastructure is aimed at feeding the growing (but oil-starved) economies of India and China. Chossudovsky (2011), in the preface of his most recent book on the Afghan war under the Bushes, writes:
In 2005, the Pentagon released a major document entitled “The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America” (NDS), which broadly sketches Washington’s agenda for global military domination. While the NDS follows in the footsteps of the Administration’s “preemptive” war doctrine as outlined in the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), it goes much further in setting the contours of Washington’s global military agenda. . . . Meanwhile, the Pentagon had unleashed a major propaganda and public relations campaign with a view to upholding the use of nuclear weapons for the “Defense of the American Homeland” against terrorists and rogue enemies. The fact that the nuclear bomb is categorized by the Pentagon as “safe for civilians” to be used in major counter-terrorist activities borders on the absurd. In 2005, US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) drew up “a contingency plan to be used in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack”. The plan includes air raids on Iran using both conventional as well as tactical nuclear weapons (Chossudovsky, 2011).
While there have been many analyses of the military situation in Central Asia, this one in particular deserves comment. The main thesis of this new book is that the war on “terror” was never meant to be well defined or possess a well focused strategy. Its goals were so broadly based that it could serve as a justification for any policy that could even indirectly be brought under the rubric of the “war on terror.”
Prof. Chossudovsky's point (and one he's been making daily since 9-11) is that the war on terror is not meant to be a quick, precision sort of affair. It is to justify a large and long-term American military presence abroad for the sake of protecting the critical transport of oil and, less ethically, skimming the drug profits. The military bureaucracy can continually justify high budgets, making the war can be a profitable enterprise, and, for the time being, many questions of domestic import can be temporarily sacrificed for the sake of this imminent threat.
The Syrian Circus
What was yesterday called a “preposterous conspiracy theory” is today's headline. The CIA, the Saudi government and a shifting federation of affluent oligarchs are at the center of the “Syrian opposition” now long part of a Civil War engendered by the US and Israel. Washington and Riyadh have been involved in Syrian life since the Cold War pitted Israel and the US against the USSR.
Najmuddin Shaikh, a 38-year veteran of the Pakistani intelligence service, argues that Russia is slated to be marginalized by the US for strictly economic purposes. Any war (hot or cold) in the Islamic world is a war against Russia. In 2013, all Syrian factions were called to a meeting in New York by the Russian government to come to a compromise that would avoid violence. Russia had the temerity to include the Ba'ath Party, giving world Zionism the excuse to cancel the meeting. In Shaikh's estimation, the American program is to control any future Syrian government, ensuring that it serve the interests of western capital. This capricious rejection of the Ba'ath movement in a critical meeting to forestall bloodshed has forced the Syrian government, who before 2013 was in the midst of a revolutionary reform program, to approach Iran for economic assistance. Like Iraq in the early 1990s, Syria too was on the brink of first world status. Economic growth, gradual liberalization and a strong state were creating a powerful, rich and national-socialist identity in both cases. Violence means division, poverty and greater freedom for Israel and American capital.
Nikolai Bobkin, also a career intelligence operative in Russia, agrees with Shaikh's appraisal. The US, in broadening the war and ensuring that the ruling party in Syria has no incentive to seek compromise, has knowingly started a war that has, as of 2015, killed tens of thousands. While rejecting the Ba'ath party for no other reason than its success, the CIA has had no difficulty in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood soldier Ghassan Hitto. Not being a Syrian citizen, his importatio into Syria created a Sunni fundamentalist rebellion against him. Western patronage of the anti-Assad movement has provoked the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia into the fray. This means that Iran has now been forced to act. And this is to say nothing about the Hollywood “ISIS” farce which is a direct result of these policies.
As Hezbollah and the Syrian army continue to defeat the mercenary forces ranged against it, the US lashes out at Iran. David Ignatius, quoted in Bobkin's piece, wrote in the Washington Post: “The US official’s allegation [against Iran] was a tacit acknowledgment that the two-year Syrian conflict has become a regional war and a de facto US proxy fight with Iran.” Bobkin adds sharply: “[The US] objective remains the same as that which underlay the eruption of American militarism 12 years ago: the assertion by military means of hegemonic control over strategic energy reserves coveted by its rivals, particularly in China and Russia” (Bobkin, 2013). The blood on capital's hands is beyond description.
Joshua Landis, long-time researcher for Syria Comment, points out that the dozens of factions against Damascus are largely business networks. Rebel leader Abu Fadi, who allegedly commands 20,000 men, made his millions in the tourist industry. Jamal Maroof, whose wealth comes from Saudi oil, was recently disavowed by the US for diverting CIA funds for his own personal use (Landis, 2013). Several of these factions recently fought a brief war over the distribution of plunder from conquered areas, but quickly regained their equanimity when threatened with a loss of American sponsorship. Worse, several of these faction leaders have threatened to join Damascus if their “interests” are not taken more seriously (Charara, 2013).
As if that is insufficient, the US has began to promote Ahmad-al-Jarba, a long time drug kingpin as its armed “human rights leader.” According to the Lebanon-based journal Al-Akhbar, he is wanted in Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for trafficking in both narcotics and slaves. The Syrian war has permitted capital to reinvent Jarba as a fighter for “democracy.” Riyadh views him as useful to control the Muslim Brotherhood within the rebel armies. Jarba, who at one point worked for both Saudi and Qatari intelligence, is now mediating the transfer of advanced French weapons to an as yet unknown rebel faction (Charara, 2013).
It is all too clear that the “Syrian rebel” movement is foreign, profoundly corrupt, and concerned with less abstract issues than human rights. The American role in this has an obscure local battle into a regional war. Relying on foreign mercenaries, the west, the Saudis and and local organized crime have created a monster that, for the time being, serves only their own interests.
The ISIS farce is just one of the absurdities to come out of the fetid soil of this abomination. Just a quick glance of video from this Hollywood outfit shows the absurdity: black pajamas in the desert, organizing and training in the open, threatening all Americans and having unlimited cash in an era where any even remotely anti-American political figure has all assets frozen are just the beginning of this fraud. After decades in this region, there is not a local campaign for meter maid that is not deeply penetrated by CIA, MI6 or Mossad.
The cynicism, covert agendas and the immeasurable ignorance of Syrian life are creating a cataclysmic war. The middle east in unstable in the best of times. To deliberately provoke further warfare, especially given the choice of “leaders” involved, guarantees a social and economic meltdown that will benefit nobody. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, the American encouragement of war derailed an impressive surge in economic development, a program of liberal reform and the slow inclusion of opposition groups into the ruling coalition. Instead, warfare destroyed what took decades to build, and,with it, the possibility for stability and peace. The use of “ISIS” (the perfect “bad guy” name straight out of James Bond) to threaten both the left (homosexuals and feminists) and the right (anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism) is so cynical that it shows how low the American population has fallen intellectually.
ISIS is so obviously a Hollywood production that the Regime simply does not need to try anymore. Why these Hollywood “terror cells” refuse to attack Jewish targets such as Hollywood parties or Goldman-Sachs is anyone's guess, but the only conclusion can be that these groups are created in the west. They are creations of private capital to keep the US involved in a war long lost. It is not merely that the war is lost, or that there is no money: its also that the US is not a nation and has no will. It is a multicultural disaster with not the slightest unity or purpose outside of acting as a breeding ground for monsters.
Recently, a leaked Department of State and Defense paper (Document 12-812, cf pp 287-293) shows what any cursory glance at the history of the area can reveal: that ISIS is the direct creation of the US to do battle against Syria and the Ba'ath party. Its not “Islam” that is being targeted (just as it was never “Marxism” targeted in the Cold War) but a strong, nationalist state striving for autonomous development.
While a paper on this topic can hardly avoid mentioning this non-existent creation of the Hollywood mass mind, it is so blatantly absurd – almost mocking – that it does not deserve any really detailed treatment. They are almost the result of psychological tension crated by mass media imagery. They fill every mindless stereotype of the “bad guy” organization that one can see in the fictitious groups SPECTRE, SMERSH, Janus Syndicate, BAST, OCTOPUS or TAROT in the entertainment universe of the alienated, fragmented and paralyzed west. In Archer, the “bad guy” group is called I.S.I.S. GI Joe has COBRA, Spongebob has EVIL, Stingray had WASP and Robocop had DARC.
To believe that the huge amounts of cash needed to create, arm and deploy such a group was sitting around and now either frozen or in the hands of Mossad or CIA is laughable. Any large sum of money in the area is tightly watched and monitored, and anyone who might know someone who once washed the car of a suspected terrorist is constantly monitored from every conceivable sort of device once considered the creation of “science fiction.” And posed pictures “Charlie's Angels” style? Really?
Regardless, Washington's policy of uninvited intervention has created a Syria-Russia-Iran-China axis that the US and Israel cannot hope to defeat. In the meantime, the body count increases and the chances for any stable democracy in the region has evaporated. The Syrian conflict need not have become a regional conflagration, but the combination of foreign mercenaries, western intervention, Saudi cynicism and the inherent instability of the region have ensured just that.
NATO as Ideology: Liberalism by the Barrel of a Gun
In its (2008) Strategic Concept, the US Department of Defense says two things that show the ideological nature of US intervention:
Like communism and fascism before it, extremist ideology has transnational pretensions, and like its secular antecedents, it draws adherents from around the world. The vision it offers is in opposition to globalization and the expansion of freedom it brings.
And further, in terms of irregular warfare approaches,
This conflict is a prolonged irregular campaign, a violent struggle for legitimacy and influence over the population. The use of force plays a role, yet military efforts to capture or kill terrorists are likely to be subordinate to measures to promote local participation in government and economic programs to spur development, as well as efforts to understand and address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies (DoD, 2008).
These two quotations say quite a bit about the Department of Defense and its new approach to warfare. In fact, the second quote above strongly suggests that the entire definition of “warfare” is being revised and redefined. There is no “front” as in conventional warfare, and hence, the only real way to deal with anti-American groups is to work at the economic, infrastructural and political level in addition to the military one. Certainly, a cash strapped empire requires this sort of approach.
Part of the strategy in dealing with “extremists” and irregulars is not to confront them directly, as was the case in previous wars, but in assisting countries to deal with internal instability. This, as it turns out, is as much a part of warfare as guns and tanks. The Report assumes that the main reason for the existence of terror groups and irregulars is economic deprivation. Therefore, if the economy improves, extremist groups will lose support (cf pg 8 esp). The fact that “globalization” needs to be explicitly defended suggests that free trade – one of the essential pillars of globalization – needs to be defended and is part of the new definition warfare offered here by Defense.
More specifically to NATO, Vanda Felbab-Brown's testimony to the Armed Services Committee in August of last year refuted many of the inflated claims of NATO and the Defense Department concerning Afghanistan. Her statements included:
Despite the substantial improvements of Afghan security forces, few Afghans believe that a better future is on the horizon after 2014. Although NATO and U.S. officials remain optimistic about the success of the counterinsurgency and stabilization campaign, many fear there will be a renewed outbreak of civil war after 2014 when the NATO presence is much reduced. . . During that period of the initial post-Taliban hope and promise, governance in Afghanistan became defined by weakly functioning state institutions unable and unwilling to uniformly enforce laws and policies.
In addition, her testimony stated:
Local government officials have had only a limited capacity and motivation to redress the broader governance deficiencies. The level of inter-elite infighting, much of it along ethnic and regional lines, is at a peak. The result is pervasive hedging on the part of key powerbrokers, including their resurrection of semi-clandestine or officially-sanctioned militias. . . A disturbing big unknown is whether the ANA will be able to withstand the ethnic and patronage factionalization that is already to some extent fracturing the institution. . . The ANP has of course been notorious both for such intense ethnic factionalization, as well as for corruption. . . .Worse yet, the ANP remains notorious for being the perpetrator of many crimes. Among the most controversial aspects of the transition strategy in Afghanistan are various efforts to stand up self-defense forces around the country (Felab-Brown, 2012).
These pessimistic views are now mainstream. They seem to prove that the military approach in Afghanistan has not succeeded at any level, despite spending well over a trillion dollars. Further, that Afghan units trained by the US have little intention to maintain the American mandate when the foreign forces leave. It appears that US forces are viewed as little more than mercenaries of American capital, which of course, does not take any detailed political analysis to see. There is also no good reason to hold that the Taliban are unpopular. Given their early success against the drug trade, and its resumption once they were hurled from power is suspicious and only makes that group look all the better to locals.
One of the more important conclusions here is that the Taliban, while distasteful to western suburbanites, were an absolute requirement to rebuild the Afghan psyche. Such a group was needed to impose strict Islamic rule on a country scarred by decades of war, factional strife, extreme poverty, and several generations of brutalized and amoral men and boys. To hold that liberal democracy can “fix” these problems at the barrel of a gun is not worthy of a response. Yet, the US and NATO are exporting revolutionary ideology on conservative parts of the world. The US is now the left-revolutionary Jacobin spreading the doctrine of Darwin, progress, capitalism and feminism to the cosmos.
NATO is an ideological organization. In its 2010 Strategic Concept, it states: “NATO member states form a unique community of values, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” (NATO, 2010). Unfortunately, these concepts are not as vague as they seem. When unpacked and reduced to their essentials, the ideological foundation of NATO is simply the imposition of the western model of corporate, liberal capitalism. The problem is that there is no tradition or interest in such ideologies in Afghanistan (or anywhere); liberalism has always been imposed by force.
The most obnoxious part of this pious doctrine is that “democracy” is identical with liberalism. This is yet another example of the manipulative use of language. This is why the Ba'ath party and Social Nationalist Party are banned in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Hamas swept the Palestinian elections in 2006, they were immediately condemned by NATO and the US as “undemocratic.” “Democracy” does not refer to a process, as most people will believe: it refers to an outcome and the domination of liberalism.
In the same document, one of NATO's essential missions is to “further develop NATO’s capacity to defend against the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.” Yet, Israel used chemical weapons on the Gaza Strip (and earlier in Lebanon) which was admitted in 2006. Jacob Edery, a member of the Israeli cabinet at the time, said: “the Israeli army made use of phosphorous shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground” (USA Today, 2012). Unfortunately, both Hezbollah and Hamas are legitimately popular among Arabs in the occupied territory, partially due to Israeli irresponsibility and double standards (Wilson, 2011). Hence, NATO can no longer be seen as remotely neutral on these important issues, since her cheering of Israel's gas attack on Gaza was vociferous. Of course, Israel is not a member of NATO, but she remains a key ally of practically all NATO members. Hence, the ideology is the imposition of liberalism, feminism, individualism, secularism and capitalism throughout the world by any and all means necessary. That “conservatives” seeking the messianic rule of Protestant nominalism and Zionist fundamentalism are the most vocal promoters of this idea is a farce that would have had Moliere dizzy.
The US and NATO forced an alien ideology upon a people that are clearly hostile to it. The US holds that Afghanistan can be saved just so long as enough money is spent on it. Few take such a view seriously. The US assumes that the world is just waiting for liberal capitalism to be imposed from above. The US assumes, further, that the ideological and political preferences of the entire world (let alone the poverty-stricken Islamic world of Afghanistan) is the same.
The concern with energy resources may be a legitimate one, but even here, success eludes the US government. Russia, Belarus, China, Iran and Kazakhstan form an official trading bloc that has far better access (and knowledge) concerning the region and its economics. They will move in when the US is forced out and of course, the west has no resources or will for a global war. The Afghan government, security forces, and police are seen as incompetent and corrupt. The drug trade from northern Afghanistan to western Europe via Georgia has yet to be stopped.
The US and most NATO members are long past bankruptcy, facing high unemployment and show every sign of a major and deep depression. Most NATO members are largely opposed to continual involvement in the region as the Germans and French have made clear. The fact that Germany has already made a separate gas deal (without EU backing) with Russia shows just how short sighted these policies can be. The result is that about two-thirds of Americans claim “the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting.” (Washington Post, 2012).
Since there is no clear purpose, no international agreement, no local consensus and no money, the question remains moot. Finally, the creation of this enterprise, President Hamid Karzai, has himself condemned the American presence in Afghanistan, accused the US of endless forms of torture and other crimes, and, specifically, condemned the “night raids” that have destroyed what little legitimacy NATO had in the area. Karzai, the creation of the US, has no political choice but the condemn the US if he is to have a political future (Dreazen, 2013). This fact alone suggests that the only possible and rational US response is to disengage and permit Afghanistan to fight it out, as the US did in its own Civil War.
The US military is undermanned, overstretched, and increasingly reliant on poor equipment as budgets are cut. For humanitarian and military reasons alone, the US has little choice but to remove itself from the Middle East and Central Asia, develop a fully neutral policy concerning Israel and Saudi Arabia, and permit the political forces in the region to develop independently as occurred in Europe and the US over the last 400 years.
Conclusions and Consequences: What the Failure Means
In 2011, journalist frank Ledwidge (speaking about the British contingent) wrote in the Daily Mail:
Our troops have suffered more than 5,000 injuries, yet despite all the courage of our frontline soldiers, there was never any sense that the British Army has been in control. As one SAS major put it to me: ‘We hold these tiny areas of ground in Helmand and we are kidding ourselves if we think our influence goes beyond 500 metres of our security bases'. . . But this was just a distraction from the real problem: a lack of any coherent military strategy. A huge increase in the number of armoured vehicles and helicopters would have done little in Basra or Helmand against the anti-Coalition insurgents. (Ledwidge, 2011)
Neither the infantry, the will or the leadership was sufficient to engage in a war of attrition the Bush administration claimed would never happen. Even if the standard for “success” was the control of at least a few urban centers, the war has failed. The broader goal—laid out early on—is nowhere to be found. Afghanistan was promised a fully capitalist democracy under American tutelage, and the US would be welcomed with “open arms” in the streets of Kabul.
In March of 2012, Seumas Milne wrote in the Australian daily Canberra Times:
Massacres are common in wars, but they flow from the very nature of foreign occupations. Brutalised soldiers, pumped up with racial and cultural superiority, sent on imperial missions to subdue people they don't understand, take revenge for resistance, real or imagined, with terror and savagery.
That has been the story of the Afghan campaign: a decade-long intervention supposedly launched to crush terrorism that has itself spawned and fuelled terror across the region and beyond. This is a war that has failed in every one of its ever-shifting kaleidoscope of aims: from destroying the Taliban and al-Qaida, to bringing democracy and women's rights, as well as eradicating opium production. . . Where is the 'good war' now? Foreign troops are a central cause of the conflict, not its solution - as is well understood in both the NATO countries and Afghanistan itself. In Britain, 55 per cent want troops withdrawn immediately; in the US 60 per cent believe the war hasn't been worth fighting; in Afghanistan 87 per cent of men in the south say NATO operations are bad for Afghans, 76 per cent in the north (Milne, 2012).
Afghanistan is worse off now than in 2001, and the drug trade has recently exploded under the nose of American occupiers. The propaganda war was lost, even in the beginnings, where the 9-11 crashes were played over and over on western media stations. This was not sufficient to carry over for more than a decade of fruitless fighting. “Failure” is not a relative term. Democracy cannot exist where there is no political will or civic virtue. War does not create virtue, it creates brutality. Capitalism was merely a cover of the penetration of western oil firms that Putin forced out of their Russian negotiations, with the prize being the right to pump oil into the endlessly thirsty Chinese machine.
Slogans and mindless flag waving, even after the 9-11 disaster, is not the same thing as having a political will. Even war hawks are forced to admit that the money is simply not there. Hiring mercenaries has long been a tarnished tradition for post-draft, and post-Vietnam America, and no administration has the mandate or the interest in reinstating that practice.
The reality is that the resources are not present, nor is the political will for this mission to even hope for a status quo ante. Few westerners know the first thing about this part of the world, and therefore have little upon which to base their opinions. The average politician in the US legislature is no better off in that respect. The mission in Afghanistan has increased tensions between the US and Russia, and most certainly, the US and China. Any chance of an alliance with Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan are gone. The Chinese-Russian Shanghai Cooperation Organization have been the east's response to US intervention (among other things) that can only be considered a major defeat for NATO. In a mocking gesture, the first major petroleum contract was given to China in 2011 for $700 million by the Afghan state that the US created.
Epilogue: May 27 2015
Ian Hanchett's article (May 25 2015) for Breitbart confirms what this writer has been saying for about a decade: that China and Russia will be far superior to the US militarily within 3-5 years. The US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said that “China and Russia are two good examples of countries who will be fielding capability in the next three to five years, if they stay on track, that is better than what we currently have in many areas.” And “The fighter aircraft they’re going to field in the next three to five years just have better capability than things we currently have sitting on the ramp.” (Hanchett, 2015)
Add this to the laundry list of reasons why the US is not a great power and has never had this capability. Part of the reason is not merely in superior technology and numbers, but in greater resolve. As planned riots ruin what's left of America and the foreign policy of the oil firms comes apart, the people themselves have no more money to be extracted. Reading the comments from the Breitbart site, the Republicans still have no idea why these Hollywood groups like “ISIS” seem to dislike the US.
These words are being written the day after Memorial Day, 2015. The sections of this paper above were written some time ago. Never before has this writer seen such psychopathic and delusional worship of the martial life as this weekend. Even a decade ago this holiday was fairly muted. Yesterday, it was a frenzy. Flags everywhere, a constant obsession with all things military and the reference to all military personnel as “heroes” regardless of their actual position. Twenty years ago, this holiday saw protests against American foreign policy; today, nothing but the almost literal, liturgical worship of the “men and women” of the US armed forces.
This long, lost war for Israel and Big Oil is the perfect example of the mass-mind: facts do not seem to matter, media images rule almost totally unopposed.
Worse, the opposition is more illiterate than the hawks, refusing to deal with Israeli influence. Yet, this is exactly what makes 2015 different from 1968. Then, the US capitalist class was massively invested in the USSR and “building socialism.” The war in Vietnam was eating into profits. Today, the Russians and Chinese are the big losers economically in the failure of the Ba'ath Regimes in Iraq and Syria. Hence, Israel, oil power, the obscurity of Islam and the almost total ignorance of Arab secular nationalism form a perfect coalition to control all information. This is the Regime at its finest: Islamic anti-gay and anti-feminist ideas to mobilize the left; the “irrational hatred” for the west and the US mobilizes the right. It is a virtuoso performance.
There is no good reason to hold that a) the Iraqi Ba'athists were ever a military threat to the United States, and b) that the Afghan Taliban has interests outside their own country. The question of Israel's security comes up in the literature, though muted, no doubt from fear of accusations. Nevertheless, it has become quite clear that the only real winner of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is Israel, since the destruction of the militarized Ba'athist state takes a huge security load off Tel Aviv. At the same time, terror cells are violently anti-Zionist, and therefore, the use of American forces against these movements serves Israel's interest.
Relative to the above, Israel cannot be ignored. Given US failures the US is overstretched. Its military is all over the world, and manpower is stretched to the limit. In addition, Defense is seeing its budget cut, and more cuts are planned in the future. Further, there is no reason to believe that Arabs see US intervention in Iraq and Syria, largely through Turkey, as legitimate. US policy has been to back Israel and her policies no matter what the cost. This should be reevaluated.
Russia is key. During the Cold War, the USSR was anti-Israel, seeing it as a US base. Russia is backing the Syrian government, and is generally allied with Iran. She is enemies with Turkey and the Gulf Monarchies. Russia has been revitalized and rebuilt under Putin. Her oil industry is the largest in the world, and her military and intelligence forces have been reformed and rebuilt. Her economy is back to superpower status, and Russia is respected throughout the third world. Russia is also allied with China, making her a dangerous enemy to have. The world, in short, is no longer unipolar.
Russia also owns billions of American dollars, as do the Chinese. Russia runs a trade surplus and a budget surplus. She is increasingly popular in Ukraine and Belarus, as the west shows itself as literally bankrupt. For the US to ignore these facts is insane. Russia is staying in the middle east. She has oil pipelines throughout the region, and has long standing deals with secular Arab governments and several states in Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, the regions largest power.
The rise of China is being assisted by US failures in Central Asia. As an Asian power with little oil, China is very interested in making sure that the US does not succeed in Central Asia, not for the least of reasons, that war with India might develop if China pushes too hard. The Chinese seem to be waiting for the US to simply spend itself out of existence. China seems to be a big winner as the Americans pull out.
The Russia-Iran nexus seems also to get a new lease on life. Russia is making regular deals with the Iranians, via Armenia, to bring the Russian pipelines to China and beyond. A loss in the Central Asian realm means a far weaker claim to dominate Caspian Sea oil, a long time and well known desire of American elites. In other words, China-Iran-Russia is a nexus that clearly benefits from the American humiliation.
The US is seen increasingly as a crusader for colonialism, not abstract democracy. The fact is that the Ba'ath party is banned by military decree in Iraqi elections, and the Taliban or associated groups are equally verboten in Afghan elections. There is no clear indicator of how these groups would poll in any election. The fact that there can be no free election under thousands of American soldiers and tanks is something not lost upon western observers. The parties and candidates, while not hand-picked by the Americans, must be vetted by them.
Both the domestic culture of the United States and the local cultures of middle eastern powers is connected to the unstable situation in that part of the world. On the one hand, the U.S. Sees intervention as manifesting the best of American culture: the stress on rights, humanitarian intervention and the protection of life. On the other hand, local cultures are tightly bound to violence through the variables of centralization, military mobilization, resource dependency and religion.
The war on terror is a failure, even given the endlessly shifting definitions of the term. The quotations listed here are not fluff – they are proof that a) the war is lost, b) there is great public anger, and c) people are looking for answers. Elites might not like to hear what some of those answers might be.
Regardless of the truth behind American intervention, the official rhetoric can be taken as representative of the American culture of foreign affairs. Local cultures in the middle east are, at best, constantly ready for warfare and violence. Militarized states like Syria see their mission as to protection of Arabic interests in the region. On other hand, the U.S. And Israel (possibly turkey) see their mission as broader: the defense of human rights and the interest of small minorities. In all respects, selective blindness is operative, especially where Israeli colonialism and Turkish repression are connected with the institutions of political democracy.
The current situation is this: The western world is at war in both the Middle East and Central Asia for many reasons. Defense of Israel, protection of oil wealth, control over Russia and a general distrust of Islamic fundamentalism all seem to be reasons for this long term constant engagement. The events of 9-11 were just the proximate cause of this war. The US has been financing Israel's expansion against the Arab world since 1948, and the US has not even made a pretense of objectivity when dealing with the behavior of the Israeli occupying forces on the Gaza strip, for example.
9-11 was easy, since it gave the system what it required to step up its war activities in the region. Everything was on the table – from the alleged involvement of al-Queda to the secular government of Bashir al-Assad, the entire anti-Zionist network in the middle east came under American attack.
The historical evidence leads one to these conclusions: First, the conduct of the war has been entirely destructive – Afghanistan and Iraq were reduced to rubble, and the governments overthrown. There is no good reason to believe that the governments presently in power are popular, and there is some reason to hold that the local populations view these governments as puppets.
Second, 9-11 was a proximate cause only. The US had been involved on Israel's side in these wars for decades. Hence, making 9-11 the cause of the war is problematic, and possibly dishonest. The citizen must, to be both rational and honest, include oil and gas into the equation, as well as the protection of the Israeli state.
Third, there is no connection between the war in Central Asia and the purported claims. The claims ran the gamut from 9-11 to Saddam's tyranny in Baghdad. He was supposed to be developing “weapons of mass destruction,” a charged long considered invalid. Israel, in fact, is the only power in the region that has nuclear weapons.
The point of this is to call into question the honesty of Israeli and American policymakers in the war on terror. Do the Islamic populations have a case against the west? Has the US been objective in its dealings with the Arab world? These questions are not asked in the present constellation of power in American politics, and it does harm to the concept of the war on terror. If anything, the war will increase the opportunity and justification for terror.
Altheide, D. War Programming: The Propaganda Project and the Iraq War. The Sociological Quarterly, 46, No. 4 (2005): 617-643
Bluth, C. The British Road to War: Blair, Bush and the Decision to Invade Iraq. International Affairs 80, No. 5, (2004): 871-89
Boettcher, WA and MD Cobb (2009). “Don't Let Them Die in Vain”: Casualty Frames and Public Tolerance for Escalating Commitment in Iraq. The Journal of Conflict Resolution 53(5): 677-697
Dunne, M. (2003) The United States, the United Nations and Iraq: 'Multilateralism of a Kind.' International Affairs 79 (2): 257-277
Dunn, DH (2003) Myths, Motivations and “Misunderestimations:” The Bush Administration and Iraq. International Affairs 79(2): 279-297
Blake, Robert O. (2012) Statement by the U.S. at the 5th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA). US Department of State, Bureau of Central and South Asian Affairs.
Blake, Robert O (2013) The New Silk Road and Regional Economic Integration. US Department of State, Bureau of Central and South Asian Affairs.
Doing Business in Tajikistan: 2012 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies. US Department of Commerce.
Fisher, L (2003) Deciding on War against Iraq: Institutional Failures. Political Science Quarterly 118(3): 389-410
Goble, H (2009) Breaking Bonds? The Iraq War and the Loss of Republican Dominance in National Security. Political Research Quarterly 62(2): 215-229
Jervis, R. (2003) Understanding the Bush Doctrine. Political Science Quarterly 118(3): 365-388
Mintz, A (1993) The Decision to Attack Iraq: A Noncompensatory Theory of Decision Making. The Journal of Conflict Resolution 37(4): 595-618
Naim, M (2004). Missing Links: Bush's Willing Enablers. Foreign Policy 143: 95-96
Nyhan, B (2010) When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions. Political Behavior 32(2): 303-330
Polsky, A (2010) Staying the Course: Presidential Leadership, Military Stalemate, and Strategic Inertia. Perspectives on Politics 8(1): 127-139
Strauss, M (2002). Attacking Iraq. Foreign Policy 129: 14-19
Shaikh, Najmuddi (2013) What the Future Holds for Syria and the Region. Strategic Culture Foundation
Bajoria, J and Greg Bruno (2012). al-Qaeda (a.k.a. al-Qaida, al-Qa'ida). The Council on Foreign Relations Terrorist Backgrounder
Child, James W (1986). Nuclear War: The Moral Dimension. Transaction: 11-14
Lee, Stephen (2007). Intervention, Terrorism, And Torture: Contemporary Challenges to Just War Theory. Springer
Public Broadcasting Network. Who is bin Laden? (2001) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/
Williams, C (May 21 2012). Iranians criticize U.S. 'crimes' in Iraq while praising IAEA. The Los Angeles Times
Wertheimer, R. (2012) Empowering Our Military Conscience: Transforming Just War Theory and Military Moral Education. Ashgate: 57-77
Pickering, Jeffrey and Mark Peceny (2006). Forging Democracy at Gunpoint. International Studies Quarterly 50(3): 539-559
Dietrich, John W. (2006) U.S. Human Rights Policy in the Post-Cold War Era. Political Science Quarterly 121(2): 269-294
Sørli, Mirjam E., Nils Petter Gleditsch, and Håvard Strand (2005) Why Is There so Much Conflict in the Middle East? The Journal of Conflict Resolution 49(1): 141-165
Lebovic, James H. and William R. Thompson (2006). An Illusionary or Elusive Relationship? The Arab-Israel Conflict and Repression in the Middle East. The Journal of Politics 68(3): 502-518
Stewart, Dona (2005) The Greater Middle East and Reform in the Bush Administration's Ideological Imagination. Geographical Review 95(3): 400-424
Wood, D.B. (2009). Presidential Saber Rattling and the Economy. American Journal of Political Science, 53: 695-709
Renshon, J (2008). Stability and Change in Belief Systems: The Operational Code of George W. Bush. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 52: 820-849
Gossman, P. (2001) Afghanistan in the Balance. Middle East Report, 221: 8-15
Roy, O. (1996). Rivalries and Power Plays in Afghanistan: The Taliban, the Shari'a and the Pipeline. Middle East Report, 202: 37-40
Jalali, A.A. (2003). Afghanistan in 2002: The Struggle to Win the Peace. Asian Survey, 43:174-185
Cullather, N. (2002). Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State. The Journal of American History, 89: 512-537
Scott, P.D. (2011) Afghanistan, Colombia, Vietnam: The Deep Politics of Drugs and Oil. Lewrockwell.com
Williams, David (February 17, 2012). “Afghan drug war debacle: Blair said smashing opium trade was a major reason to invade but 10 years on heroin production is up from 185 tons a year to 5,800.” Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2102158/Heroin-production-Afghan...
Hayden, T. (March 13, 2012). The Failure of Gradualism in Afghanistan. Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/166764/failure-gradualism-afghanistan
Ten Years in Afghanistan German General Says NATO Mission Has 'Failed' (10/07/2011). der Spiegel.
Ledwidge, Frank. (Octomer 2011) 10 Years of Failure. The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2046572/Afghanistan-war-marks-...
Braithwaite, Rodric (December 21, 2009). The familiar road to failure in Afghanistan. The Financial Times.
Milne, Seumas. (March 2011) Why the Afghan War Failed on All Fronts. Canberra Times.
Chossudovsky, M. (September, 2006). Who benefits from the Afghan Opium Trade? Global Research.
Chossudovsky, M. (2011). Preface. 9/11 and America's “War on Terrorism.” Global Research.
Richards, J. (September 2011). You Only Believe the Official 9/11 Story Because You Don't Know the Official 9/11 Story. Global Research.
US Department of Defense (2008) National Defense Strategy.
De Mesquita, Bruce Bueno and George W. Downs (2006) Intervention and Democracy International Organization 60(3): 627-649
“Prosecutions in U.S. Courts for Terrorism-Related Offenses in Afghanistan and Iraq” (2009)
The American Journal of International Law, 103: 765-768
Hazbun, W (2008). Beyond the Bush Doctrine. Middle East Report, 249: 38-44
Ghufran, Nasreen. (2008) Afghanistan in 2007: A Bleeding Wound. Asian Survey 48: 154-163
Ghufran, Nasreen (2007). Afghanistan in 2006: The Complications of Post-Conflict Transition. Asian Survey, 47:87-98
Felab-Brown, V (2012) Afghan National Security Forces: Afghan Corruption and the Development of an Effective Fighting Force. Brookings Institution
Rasmussen, AF (2013) NATO Defense Ministers Endorse Concept for New Post-2014 Mission in Afghanistan.
Who are the Taliban. BBC News, 2013
NATO (2010) Active Engagement, Modern Defense: Strategic Concept for the Defense and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Adopted by Heads of State and Government at the NATO Summit in Lisbon
Official: Israel Used Phosphorous Bombs. USA Today, 2006
Bock, A (2009) Afghanistan: All About Oil? Orange County Register
Wilson, S (2011) Hamas Sweeps Palestinian Elections, Complicating Peace Efforts in Mideast. Washington Post
Dreazen, Y (2013) The Real Reasons Karzai Wants U.S. Troops Out. The Atlantic
Bobkin, Nikolai (May 2013). Behind “Syria Peace Talks”, US Prepares Regional War. Strategic Culture Foundation
Landis, Joshua (2014) Saudis and CIA Agree to Arm Syrian “Moderates” with Advanced Weapons. The Eurasia Review
Charara, Nasser (July 2013). The Syrian National Coalition's Saudi Makeover. Al Akhbar
Hanchett, I (May 25 2015) Air Force Head: Russia and China will Have “Better” Air Capabilities in 3-5 Years. Brietbart