Saturday, November 23, 2002

The Last Liberal

It was four in the morning in the Philippines -- "where the world begins its day" -- and Bratcher, J. T., corporal in the Marines, was duty NCO, sitting in the small company office, lit by a cold florescent lamp, listening softly to the radio.

...we repeat, the President has been shot...the President was shot while...

It was one in the afternoon in Dallas, Texas, the 22nd of November 1963, and the reports of those shots, fired from the fifth floor of the School Book Repository, were crackling around the world. Tears streaming down his cheeks, corporal Bratcher entered the squad bay where his squad-mates lay asleep. Walking down the bay and banging his night-stick against the metal posts of the bunks, Corporal Bratcher yelled out, “They’ve killed Kennedy! They’ve shot the President.” “Oh shut the fuck up,” murmured some. Others sat up and jeered,

Serves the nigger-lover right!

On the other side of the world, Mark was walking toward the Main House. His personal copy of the New York Times waited for him on the big table by the entrance. There was still time to peruse the headlines with casual curiosity before lunch. He was just about to enter when an underclassman burst through the doors yelling that the president had been shot.

“Oh Shut up!" the senior snapped, "That's not a joke.”

“It’s true, it’s true; I swear it...!” the frosh cried before running off yelling across the commons.


In an hour the student body joined in solemn convocation; on the morrow, school was suspended and, in a few days, eyes clear and heart hurting, Mark would be standing on a patriot tombstone 100 yards from where the martyr was being laid to rest, as the flags snapped against the winter chill and the shrill of bag pipes pierced into the crisp blue skies.

Soon people would forget that there were those who hated the assassin's prey, although no one would forget where he was the moment he heard the shocking and dismal news. But wherever they were, it was before Vietnam and its cynical lies which wasted the faith of a people; before that dissipation of civic energies which styled itself a cultural counter-revolution; before a Supreme Court hostile to the very constitution it was charged with interpreting; before a politico-religious fundamentalism, hostile to liberalism, cast its pall over the land .... in a word, before that corruption which always exists latent within empire and power, ruptured forth. For that generation, the felling of the president marked the line between the Before and the After, between when idealism was still possible and when not.

In truth, Kennedy was not a nigger-lover. He sympathized personally with their public fight, but he was not disposed to infringe upon the sovereignty of the southern states or to destroy the Democratic Party which depended upon Dixiecrat support and without whom (together with the mayor of Chicago) it was incapable of winning the presidency.

Kennedy was also not much of a peace monger. On the contrary, he was more cold warrior than Nixon. He won the election by branding Humphrey a draft - dodger and falsely accusing the Eisenhower administration of having allowed a missile gap -- a supposed shortfall in missiles as against what the Soviets had. He launched an invasion of Cuba, obsessed over Laos; and who could forget that, playing hard ball with Russia, he almost blew up the world?

Nor could Kennedy be said to have been much of a progressive. To tell the truth, he was something of a fascist, in the manner of Roosevelt’s fascism-lite that characterized the New Deal. Kennedy was not at all opposed to the quasi military-corporate state that had existed since the second World War; nor was he adverse to using war-time emergency powers, still available to the presidency, although no one talked about them much in public. And if he did not oppose this intrinciscally militarized social order, he also did not have any plan to improve or amplify its social services -- in other words, to push the country at a snail’s pace towards what is now called social democracy.

The issue was much the same in cultural terms. In the normative and macho world of the Kennedys', women shone at home while the men, with crew-cuts and narrow ties, brought home the bacon and played touch football. And Chubby Checker sang the Twist.

There are those who think that if Kennedy had not been shot we would not have fallen into the Vietnam War. They forget, however, that it was Kennedy who had Diem assassinated and that the architects of that war, McNamara, Rusk and Bundy, were his advisors before they were Johnson’s. The difference between Kennedy and his successor was that while the southern Johnson destroyed the Democrat party in order to push through the Civil Rights Act, Kennedy would have turned the Vietnam War into a glorious crusade to which the youth of the land would have marched off smiling and flags a fluttering. The decade would have been very different from what it was.

In the beatification of the fallen hero, it is ignored that Kennedy was not the real author of his prize-winning books; that he was a notorious playboy; that, as much as Nixon after him, he secretly recorded conversations in the Oval Office; that he militarized counter-insurgency, that his brother, Bobby, did the dirty work of using the FBI to do dirty work, and that if "Jack" had won the election it was thanks to a few thousand votes “provided” by Mayor Jim Daley who exhorted his minions to “vote early and vote often.

In short, during his three years in office Kennedy accomplished little more than to make jokes at press conferences and nearly get us all blown to bits.

Nevertheless, even those who criticize him do not think ill of him. His memory unites such disparate individuals as the Marine corporal and the privileged Preppie. And if among the world of that generation everyone can tell you what they were doing when they heard “the” news, one has to ask, Why?

It is difficult to enter into the atmosphere of a past time; but it seems to me that Kennedy had what we call generosity. The ancient Romans spoke in similar vein of a “great” or munificent man. This quality has nothing to do with moral rights and wrongs much less with the pros and cons of political strategies, and even less with sentimentalities. It is something more primal: being “open” as opposed to “closed” or, as Jung had it, “affirming” rather than “denying”.

Kennedy charmed because he was sporting. He was competitive without being nasty or malicious and he fully expected you to be the same. Kennedy’s rhetoric was successful because it said nothing very specific. His sonorous generalizations allowed space to flights of fancy and provided blank targets for generous impulses.

This spirit of generosity -- what Americans really mean by liberalism -- also reflected what was expected of the United States. Although Kennedy spoke in the lexicon of the Second World War and did not doubt, not for a second, the mandate of American preeminence, he understood that leadership was a question of Us and not simply of Me. If Kennedy felt himself ein Berliner by the Wall, neither would he deny to a German, an Argentine or an Australian a share in the pride that “we of the free world” (led, to be sure, by the United States) had reached the moon.

At bottom, the embracing spirit which animated him and with which he sought to infuse the country, confided in self and in others. He was stranger to the unartful duplicity, the suspicious lack of confidence, the resentful hatreds and the self interested unilateralism which have, lamentably, so characterized U.S. politics since the three shots that sounded on that sunny November afternoon.

@WCG, 2002

Tuesday, October 15, 2002


A few weeks ago The Onion, published a satire titled, Bush Seeks UN Support for US Does Whatever it Wants Plan. According to The Onion, during his speech to the General Assembly, Bush insisted the UN give the United States carte blanche for the United States to remove any leader it did not like, to pillage any resources it wanted and to make whatever demands it deemed expedient.

Bush assured his audience that as soon as the UN granted the carte blanche, the United States would simultaneously invade Iraq, Cuba and North Korea. What’s more, in view of the fact that America was the Beacon of Liberty for the whole world, it would also prohibit protests against the United States by anyone, individuals or states alike.

The joke within the joke is this supposedly mythical plan is in fact the real and actual policy of Bush Administration -- or, more precisely, of the cabal formed around the Cheney - Rumsfeld axis.

In September 2000, the New American Century, a neo-con think tank, headed by Billy Kristol, published a report entitled “Rebuilding American Defenses” Although the study did not anticipate the events of 9/11, it otherwise served as a blue-print for the policies of the Bush Administration.

It goes without saying that the report is written in that detached and impersonal tone so characteristic of affectedly “objectified” bureaucratic and academic jargon. The clipped speech of what Conrad Heiden called the “technological brute.”

At the same time, the report is structured so to give an impression of rigorously deduced conclusions flowing from obvious premises, indisputable facts and penetrating, no-illusions, in-depth, analysis -- all of which puts the study beyond the ken of mere ordinary people and distinguishes this serious business from drooling stupidities of The Onion.

In fact, the PNAC paper said nothing different from what was “reported” in The Onion although it took many more pages to make the point. A brief recapitulation of the report’s more salient point will serve to illustrate how plain thuggery has been brewed into policy.

The report’s preamble announces that at the end of the Twentieth Century, the United States emerged as the preeminent power in the world which, thus, makes it requisite that the its armed forces be maintained in a strengthened state of readiness in order to promote American “principles and interests.”

The notion that principles might at times conflict with interests is simply banished with a conjunction. Principle and Interest are one and the same.

Under the heading “Key Findings,” the paper goes on to assert that “This report proceeds from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces. ... The challenge for the coming century is to preserve and enhance this ‘American Peace’.”

Unfortunately Americans are so punch-drunk after half a century of having their brains beaten by meaningless ads and slogans, they are too mentally calloused to so much as feel the hidden punches in these sentences. Like inanimate objects being hit, they can only stagger stupidly.

Both in science and in law, a “finding” is a demonstrated or ascertained fact. But in Billy Kristol’s ThugSpeak, the “finding” is simply the “belief” which is fobbed off as an ascertained fact.

After thus objectifying mere beliefs, the “findings” follow up with a left/right jab that buries the real facts at issue with quintessential double-talk. How is peace “preserved and enhanced”? Peace can be maintained, but otherwise peace is simply peace. Peace cannot be “enhanced” unless what is meant is “gilded” -- which invariable entails someone else paying for the gilding. Similarly, how is leadership “preserved and extended”? Leadership is simply a position held in relation to others. It cannot be “extended” unless what is really meant is extending authority or dominance over more people in more respects. These open ended conjunctives necessarily imply something more than just having peace or just leadership but they hide the undisclosed consequences under the conceptual skirt of simply “preserving” good things.

The way double-speak works is that the idea already stated (once) has to be repeated (twice) as a “conclusion” -- even though there is no real logical argument because the factual findings and premises were simply disguised conclusion. Thus, the “Findings” section concludes with:
“Fulfilling these requirements is essential if America is to retain its militarily dominant status for the coming decades“ and “Today its task is to secure and expand the “zones of democratic peace.”
Technically this might be called a form of argumentative pleonasm. But in all events, what the PNAC’s “Key Findings” come down to is simply an assertion that the United States is the biggest dog on the block and should continue to snap, snarl and bark in order to keep lesser mutts in line, while keeping the big bones for itself.

To this end, the report then postulates four key “missions”. Of course, the mission has already been stated in the “Findings” so that what the missions really denote is nothing more than variable degrees of force to be used, as needed, in order to maintain U.S. hegemony. These variables include the use of tactical and nuclear missiles, conventional continental wars, and -- most significantly -- something called constabulary missions. As shall be seen, these “missions” are really strategies for waging war for global dominance.

Defense of the Homeland Requires War Overseas!!

Mission One: According to the report, the first “mission” is to “defend the American homeland” Hardly anyone could complain about that! But what the PNAC authors really mean is to defend the U.S. “by counteract[ing] the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter U.S. military action”

What must be noted is that the report does not state simply and directly that U.S. security requires continued diplomatic efforts to extend the Nuclear Arms Proliferating Treaty and other arms reduction agreements. What the report means is that the states has to take preemptive military action against any state that may be able to “deter” U.S. military action. The report does not require that the state in question present a “threat” to anyone. The goal is incapacitate any state from being able to “deter” what the United States wants to do.

Defense of the Homeland Requires Multiple Big Time Wars Overseas!!

Mission Two: The second mission is to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.”

This being double-speak, Mission Two is Mission One with one small difference, viz:

Defense of the Homeland Requires Space War and War in Head Space

Mission Three. The third mission is seemingly straightforward and consist of keeping abreast of and using “advanced technologies in[ ] military systems” But a further reading of the Report reveals that this means more than getting the latest beeping device for torpedoes; rather it includes extending “military capacities” into outer space and using “inner space;” (i.e. the internet) for military purposes.

Defense of the Homeland Requires Long Term Occupation Abroad.

Mission Four. The fourth mission is to “perform the constabulary duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions.” At this point the PNAC is forced to engage in what might be called explanatory double talk. The report warns that “constabulary missions” should not be confused with mere “peacekeeping.” Rather “constabulary actions” are a species of offensive warfare designed to impose and maintain order in various regions of the world. The imposition of peace includes such “routine” measures as maintaining no-fly zones, “other missions” and “long term constabulary operations” over and in “Southwest Asia” and “vital regions of East Asia”

The report goes on to assert that the use of “constabulary forces” should be taken out from under UN auspices since the restraints of pretending impartiality in not conducive to their actual role.

Having thus explained what its New World Vision, the Report reverted to now Triple Speak “concluding” that “rogue states” like Iraq, Iran and North Korea represented a threat to the United States inasmuch as they desired to develop “deterrent capabilities”. The capacity of any one of these states to cobble together a primitive ballistic missile would “complicate” the “projection” of American power. According to the report, “U.S. power-projection” could find itself compromised if “the American Homeland or the territory of some ally were subject to an attack by any one of these “malignant regimes.”

Some ally? At least in the foreseeable PNAC future, the U.S. is not going to be conduct “no fly zone” and “constabulary operations” on China’s doorstep. So that, the most immediate incarnation of the four missions boils down invading and occupying the Middle East in order to protect the United States and “some ally.”

The thesis of the report is as simple as it is brutal. The summum bonum is simply the projection of American power. Virtually all elements of Bush’s foreign policy are found in the report including the doctrine of “unilateralism,” the renunciation of “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons, the existence of a supposed axis of evil, the obsession with Iraq extending to such far-fetched allegations (as made in Cincinnati) that Iraq was a threat because it could “point” missiles against the American Homeland.

Nor should it be thought that the parallelism between the PNAC report and Bush policy is simply a coincidence. The report is the labor and reflects the resurgence of the Reaganite extreme right, today led by Cheney and Rumsfeld. In brief,

Donald Rumsfeld has been a hawk’s hawk since the 1970’s when, serving in the Ford Administration, he dedicated himself to undermining Kissinger’s efforts to conclude a Salt II treaty with the Soviets. Rumsfeld also served as mentor to the then young Cheney. The Cheney-Rumsfeld axis has a long history.

Cheney was Secretary of Defense during the Bush-I Administration. According to Colin Powell’s Memoirs, Cheney and his then under-secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, (Rumsfeld’s present day under secretary) stacked the Pentagon’s political-strategy office with former Reagan Administration hawks. Cheney was advocating a hard line against the Soviet Union with the aim of fragmenting it, even at the risk of provoking extremely violent consequences.

At that time, Cheney also asked General Powell to draw up a study analyzing the possible use of nuclear arms during the Gulf War. In 1990, Cheney ordered yet another study to review the geo-political mission of the United States following the end of the Cold War. The report, finished 1992, asserted that America’s “mission” was to insure its own global domination. Regardless of cost, no rival power whatsoever could be tolerated, whether it was Germany, Japan, Russia or China.

According to the Moscow Times, the 1992 study was simply a draft for the PNAC report of September 2000. With reason. The “Project for a New American Century” -- billed as an “educational organization” -- was in fact bankrolled by Rockwell Automation, a Defense Department contractor. The PNAC was headed by William Kristol, editor of the Reaganite Weekly Standard, and staffed with (among others), Paul Wolfowitz and John R. Bolton, a leading unilateralist (“There is no such thing as a United Nations”) currently appointed by Cheney as as under-secretary for international affairs and armaments control.

After the election (such as it was) of Bush II, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld have worked to assure that new civilian committees in the Pentagon remain staffed with hawks, among them Douglas Feith, who during the Reagan Era was a protegĂ© of Chief Hawk, Richard Perle who today heads the Defense Policy Board, an outside Pentagon advisory committee. During the 1990’s Firth fought against ratification of the Convention on Chemical Armaments. In 1996, Firth y Perle co-authored a paper for Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Likudist prime minister of Israel. The paper urged the scuttling of the Oslo Accords and the reaffirmation of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza. At the same Feith was agitating in the press for a reoccupation by Israel of Palestinian territory regardless of the foreseeable “high price in blood”.

Without further tracing all the individual connections and institutional relationships between various think tanks and government agencies, it can be said summarily that report and Bush-II geo-politics are the work of a well organized and tenacious ultra-right cabal.

The events of 9/11 did not derail anything. On the contrary, the provided the occasion for testing the new “constabulary” measures in Afghanistan. During his 2002 State of the Union Address, three months after the attack on the Twin Towers, Bush seemingly out of the blue pronounced his now famous condemnation against the Axis of Evil. People wondered where this slogan had come from. In fact Bush was only returning to his blue-print.

What is astonishing is not so much that an empire relies on force but rather that the project for a “New American Century” pronounces no vision and no good beyond mere imperiousness. The cabal behind the Report apparently sees no difference between Augustus and Attila.

But if we today remember the Pax Romana it is only because in the ultimate analysis it reflected an international consensus and diffused prosperity and cultural interchange among the peoples of the Mediterranean world. Bush’s Pax Americana postulates nothing more than the Big Stick and Big Plunder. The Report says as much with evident self-satisfaction and pride.

Apart from pathological causes, power for its own sake is pointless, leaving us to look for some motive, whatever it might be, as raison d’etre behind this belligerent peace.

The ties between Cheney and the petro-chemical industry interests indicate oil as a motive. On another side, the affiliations between Wolfowitz or Perle and Israel implicate a zionist motive. Lastly, Rumsfeld long time association with the military-industrial complex point to Eisenhower’s famous complex. Does it have to be one or the other? I think not. It seems to me an error to look for too much logic in politics. To be sure, political projects can be developed with ideological coherence and an encompassing vision. But they do not have to be. It is entirely possible that the three interests mentioned have conspired or simply flowed together to bring forth the policy ad hoc like thieves meeting on the road. This is entirely feasible given that the “principle” behind the policy is simply pillage in one form or another.

The politics of the Rumsfeld-Cheney Axis is not without opposition from the traditional foreign policy establishment as symbolised by Robert McNamara (Defense Secretary under presidents Kennedy and Johnson) and James Baker III (Secretary of State under Bush I) McNamara has vigorously criticised the abandonment of the ABM Treaty and renunciation of no first use. Baker all but called Bush II and imbecile and has publicly opposed the Bush’s doctrine of unilateralism, any invasion of Iraq.

This opposition is not grounded in any transcendental idealism but in the simple and practical realization that the United States cannot operate contra mundum and if not it will have to take into account what the world thinks and wants, so it is best to do what is inevitable with ostensible grace.

Given the domestic and international opposition it is surprising that the Rumsfeld-Cheney project has gained so much momentum. It remains to be seen whether the opposition has the will and the strength to stop it.

©WCG, 2002

Monday, September 30, 2002

American Kampf

According to the Moscow Times, it is nothing less than an American Mein Kampf -- “it” being the “Rebuilding America’s Defenses -- Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century a think-tank report from the New Citizenship Project, an offshoot of the conservative Bradley Foundation, a branch of Rockwell Automation, a former defense contractor.

For those who think of Mein Kampf as nothing but a racist rant, the comparison is inapt. For those who remember Hitler's book as an outline and argument for German geo-political hegemony, the comparison is not off the mark. The difference would be that whereas Mein Kampf spoke of dominating Europe for 1000 years, Rebuilding American’s Defenses speaks of controlling the world for a hundred.

The Report’s essential thrust is straightforward and hard: We won; We Rulez; It’s Gonna Stay that Way. The Report draws an unstated but boorishly obvious analogy between the United States and the Roman Empire. With little surprise, its thesis, argument and conclusion is that Pax Americana must be supported by American legions posted around the world and ready to cut the wheat whenever it grows too tall --- to quote Dionysus of Syracuse.

But it is what is lacking from the Report that reveals how miserably it falls short of the analogy it grasps at. There is not a word, not a single word, about Ara Pacis. Why, there isn’t even an iota about the sublimity of American Opera. Cecille B. de Mille may titillate adolescent males with images of clanking and trampling legions but the Augustan Peace, as it was known, was not made great and enduring by engines of war.

If the Roman Empire commands our historical respect now it is because in its day it galvanized the aspirations and consent of the Mediterranean world. Far more than legions, it was the diffusion of prosperity and cross cultural interchange that made for the Roman peace. It was to this that the Altar of Peace hailed with its embracing image of the goddess Roma suckling her infants, uniting East and West, conjoining farming with commerce, the ox and the lamb -- an image which was later morphed into the mothering spirit of Christian Civilization.

The difference between a thug and a statesman is the latter’s subordination of force to some greater goal that commands the aspirations and assent of the ruled. For the thug, and for the Orwellian State power is an end in itself. The report for America’s New Century draws no distinction between Augustus and Attila. It offers nothing more than an Altar of Power.

The Report’s preamble states the matter thus:
“As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: ... Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?
“[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.
“Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But ... [i]If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests.”
What these “principles” and “interests” are, the Report does not say. Apart from one vague allusion to “liberty and democracy”, the switching ad hoc from one term to the other leads to the conclusion that the report’s authors see no real distinction between a principal and an interest. There is certainly no hint that the vexatiousness of having to choose between one and the other has ever crossed their minds.

The Report is more specific when it comes to what it calls “key findings”.
“This report, proceeds from the belief that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military forces. ... The challenge for the coming century is to preserve and enhance this “American peace.”
The Report chastises the Clinton administration for jeopardizing this peace by failing to maintain “sufficient military strength” and it goes on to list the main military muscle programs it wants to see established. The Report continues,
“Fulfilling these requirements is essential if America is to retain its militarily dominant status for the coming decades. ... The true cost of not meeting our defense requirements will be a lessened capacity for American global leadership and, ultimately, the loss of a global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity."
Of course these “findings” are not findings at all but simply conclusionary assertions. In the realm of bureaucratic and legislative reports, “findings” refer to the facts and circumstances of a situation or problem which need to be addressed. For example, the inability of 78% of college graduates to distinguish between a finding and a conclusion, would constitute a factual finding leading to a proposed revamping of college curricula.

Here, however, what is listed as an objective factual finding is simply the “belief” that America should continue to be top dog. American preeminence and power is attached to no other goal or aim or undertaking other than the maintenance of power seen as a good in itself.

The authors apparently regard this belief as so self-evident that it is sufficient to state, vaguely, further on that since the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been “no shortage of powers” seeking to undermine American leadership. “Like a boxer between championship bouts,” the report explains, America has rested and enjoyed the good life; but this is bad. It is bad because, the findings are “that America should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership.”

The role of the military in the post Cold War era is “to secure and expand the zones of democratic peace;’ to deter the rise of a new great power competitor; defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; and to preserve American preeminence through the coming transformation of war made possible by new technologies.”

All disciplines (as they are rather comically called) have a certain babble and cant which the disciples expect to hear and which lulls them into the conviction that they are engaged in some kind of dialectic rather than an articulated form of barking. Thus, at this point, past preamble, introduction and findings, it is well to ask exactly what the Report has offered over and beyond being written in some sort of knowing, authoritative style. Not much. It has told us that American power must be preserved and extended as a premise, means and end.

Having established the principle and interest of American preeminence, the Report outlines “four missions” of defense policy. These four missions are not framed as particularized military responses to distinct sets of geo-political issues. They are represent rather a sliding scale (“variables”) of military strikes and responses adjusted to the single and indiscriminate purpose of perpetuating and extending American global rule

According to the Report, the first of these missions is to insure “the safety of the American homeland.” The second is to retain “sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars” in Europe, East Asia, “the Middle East and surrounding energy producing region.” The third mission consists in maintaining a “constabulary” capacity by means of military outposts and “continuing no-fly-zone and other missions in Southwest Asia. ” The fourth is to introduce “advanced technologies into military systems” including “the prime directive .. . to design and deploy a global missile defense system” among other things.

The layout of these missions is somewhat misleading in that they appear to follow a traditional region-by-region defense hierarchy. The impression given is that they fall into two broad categories: a missile defense system defending the “homeland” on the one hand and military operations “elsewhere” on the other. Elsewhere, in turn, appears to divide into conventional, continental wars on the one hand and misc. ops. here and there to keep order among the natives, on the other.

However, that is not the Report’s framework notwithstanding the utterly bizarre reference to miscellaneous missions in Southwest Asia -- as if the third mission involved someplace other than “the Middle East and surrounding energy producing region.” It doesn’t. What the Report contemplates, in so far as the Middle East is concerned, is both large scale theatre wars and constabulary missions.

The Report also makes clear that these so called constabulary missions are not peacekeeping occupations after the sturm und drang. On the contrary, “[t]hese constabulary missions are far more complex and likely to generate violence than traditional ‘peacekeeping’ missions.” These missions “demand forces basically configured for combat.” While they should be equipped “with special language, logistics and other support skills” and while they should include their own intelligence components, “their first order of business is... to establish security, stability and order” for which reason they “must be regarded as part of an overwhelmingly powerful force.”

It is an odd constabulary that generates violence and what the report envisions is something in the order of a geo-political SWAT team. A combative strike force, less and leaner than “full-theatre” army groups, but one nevertheless fully complemented by naval, air and missile forces, capable of smashing enemy deterrence and establishing the stability and order of pax americana in any given region, at will.

Nor is SWATing seen as anything distinct in kind from missile defense. The Report is clarion clear in its call for “[b]uilding an effective, robust, layered, global system of missile defenses” as “a prerequisite for maintaining American preeminence.” The layering would allow for missile defenses to be projected from elsewhere than the homeland and forms the ballast of the “overwhelming” force which the constabulary spearheads.

Stripped of the man-as-machine jargon, the four missions boil down to being able to smash and blast at what ever degree of force desired simultaneously if need be anywhere in the world.

Nor is this capacity seen as aimed at maintaining geo-political balances. The very term “balance” implies an equilibrium between contending forces. But the Report makes repetitively clear that the only balance it is concerned with is America’s undeterred preeminence....which is of course not a balance at all. Although the report carefully avoids talking about preemptive regime changes, it leaves little doubt that American preeminence should be pro-assertive. Thus, the curiously inverted meaning given in the report to the word deterrence.

Through the end of the Cold War, “deterrence” and “containment” were peas in the same strategic pod. They referred to defensive measures calculated to defend against and prevent attack or expansion. However, in the newspeak of the report, deterrence becomes a bad thing and refers to a state’s ability to resist American advances:
“In the post-Cold War era, America and its allies, rather than the Soviet Union, have become the primary objects of deterrence and it is states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea who most wish to develop deterrent capabilities.”
A marvel of historical and linguistic inversion the sentence implicitly espouses the abandonment of any obeisance to the notion that American military policy is essentially defensive. If we have become “objects of deterrence” it is because our military policy is “projective”. Thus, what turns these states into “rogue regimes” is that they are a threat to the United States, and what makes them a “threat” is that they might be “capable of cobbling together a minuscule ballistic missile force” which would make it more complex and difficult for the United States to project its power or “assert[ ] political influence abroad.”
“[W]eak states operating small arsenals of crude ballistic missiles, armed with basic nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction, will be a in a strong position to deter the United States from using conventional force, no matter the technological or other advantages we may enjoy. Even if such enemies are merely able to threaten American allies rather than the United States homeland itself, America’s ability to project power will be deeply compromised.”
“Building an effective, robust, layered, global system of missile defenses is a prerequisite for maintaining American preeminence.”
To be clear in case one got lost: the purpose of a missile “defense” system is to project American power against rogue regimes that don’t get in line. Clearly, a no first use policy would take the intimidating bite out of this global maw of iron teeth; so while the report may not announce verbatim the nuclear first use policy announced by the Bush Administration earlier in 2002 it does so by implication notwithstanding the layered double-talk.

Once it is understood that the capacity for deterrence by others is a thing to be defeated, the nature of the “constabulary” also comes into focus.

Rather gratuitously at this point, the Report notes that “past Pentagon war-games have given little or no consideration to the force requirements necessary not only to defeat an attack but to remove these regimes from power and conduct post-combat stability operations.” In other words, in addition to “kick em out” and Pentagon’s military mission should be expanded to include “grind em down”.

Nor should there be any illusion of Pax Americana as somehow reflecting an international consensus. It is American preeminence we are talking about here. Thus, the Report states that the constabulary forces “demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations.
"Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality; the preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa."
In this new world order, “diplomacy” (which the report mentions about twice) is little more than the demand before the punch.

Lest anyone think that there might be some limitation on American power projection based on the nature of geo-politics as the balance of forces at an inter-national level, the Report goes on to state that American preeminence includes maintaining “the general stability of the international system of nation-states relative to terrorists, organized crime, and other “non-state actors.” Enter the FBI as a global actor.

As if the foregoing were not sufficient evil for the day, the Report boldly goes where not even Mein Kampf dared to soar. American rule will not be limited to Earth. “The ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space” – must be an essential element of our military strategy.” “Space power” the report crows will be to the 21st century what sea power was to the 19th and to Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick.

The Report’s imperious reach does not end in outer space. It sinks its purview into cyberspace as well. “Any nation wishing to assert itself globally,” the report says, “must take account of this other new “global commons.”
“The Internet is ... playing an increasingly important role in warfare and human political conflict. From the early use of the Internet by Zapatista insurgents in Mexico to the war in Kosovo, communication by computer has added a new dimension to warfare. Moreover, the use of the Internet to spread computer viruses reveals how easy it can be to disrupt the normal functioning of commercial and even military computer networks. Any nation which cannot assure the free and secure access of its citizens to these systems will sacrifice an element of its sovereignty and its power.”
The conflation of two distinct issues -- viruses and ideas -- deserves attention. Although it may be a tad hyperbolic to associate a worm with the loss of sovereignty, one can assume for the sake of argument that a State has a police interest in insuring a virus-free internet. But the Zapatista use of the internet to publish their grievances and demands is quite a different matter. Free speech -- the publishing of one’s propaganda of choice -- was and remains one of the principal purposes of the Internet.

The Report seeks to entirely pervert this purpose. In the report’s view, the internet is simply another “dimension of warfare” and its use is something to be discussed in the same breadth as computer viruses.

The Report makes a brief and almost snide obbligato to a “host of legal, moral and political issues” involved before going on to make clear its view that:
“Taken together, the prospects for space war or “cyberspace war” represent the truly revolutionary potential inherent in the notion of military transformation.”
Oh wow...kewl. But having betrayed perhaps a little too much excitement, the report returns to its tone of feeling-less jargon:
“These future forms of warfare are technologically immature, to be sure. But, it is also clear that for the U.S. armed forces to remain preeminent and avoid an Achilles Heel in the exercise of its power they must be sure that these potential future forms of warfare favor America just as today’s air, land and sea warfare reflect United States military dominance.”
What are “these potential future forms of warfare”? That the military (or anyone for that matter) has a legitimate interest in protecting itself against viruses, hacking, code cracking etc. is beyond question. And because it is beyond question that is not what the Report is talking about. Nor is it talking about using computers to control missiles, calculate trajectories and so on. No; it is talking about "cyberspace war" and this can only mean controlling information and using mis-information.

When the Report speaks of the sovereign obligation to “assure the free... access” to the internet it means to includes assuring freedom from hearing the dissenting views of “insurgents” and providing a “safe-surfing” that favors America’s preeminence and power.

When the Report speaks of “the coming transformation of war made possible by new technologies” it is not simply talking about such nifty stuff like laser guided bullets and bombing cities with sticky goo but rather of finding ways to militarize as many things as possible, including data and information which will be subordinated to strategic goals where once they were thought of as servants of truth.

In the end, the Report is more interesting for what it does not say than for its 90 pages of circular and tedious formulations of the need to perpetuate and project preeminence and power. Not once does the Report reference any other higher or even just other value than having and extending power. It does not address world poverty. It does not address sustainable growth and ecological issues. It does not address, even in the tired panaceas of neo-liberalism , how America might provide some Ara Pacis which commands the hopes and relieves the miseries of the world. The report does not even address the narrower more selfish needs of assuring energy production and delivery.

It may well be the case that the world would be better off if everyone took to heart Socrates’ dictum that it is better to suffer evil than to commit it. But that postulation will not get very far around the beltway; and no “realist” would argue that the United States should not think about and plan for clobbering the other guy. But among reasonable men, clobbering is a means not an end; and by this is meant that it is calibrated and conditioned to a spectrum of goods and tradeoffs. The complete absence of any discussion of ends indicates that in the view of the Report’s authors the means of power is and end itself. Nor can a discussion of ends be sloughed off on the grounds that the only immediate concern was tools because means cannot be analyzed without reference to the requirements of the ends they are meant to subserve.

The absence of any discussion of values other than power per se makes the reader all but gasp for some raison d’etre behind layered, global, space positioned missile defenses backing up massive insert and destroy constabularies. The Report offers little more than open ended hints.

One of the interesting features of the report is the assumptions it makes concerning future theatres of operation. The Report is silent on Latin America and makes only one brief passing mention of Africa. It evidently considers the first to be under heel and the second to be unimportant.

The sense one gets from the report is that aside from our treaty obbligatos, the report does not envision any serious military exigencies in Europe. Although it mentions Europe as a potential major theatre there is little up front discussion of where any threat might come from or why the hostilities would erupt, given that the report acknowledges the demise of the Soviet Union. The clue is in the Report’s reference to the creation of a new “American security perimeter in Europe removed eastward.” The use of the word “remove” is cute. No doubt one could hear chuckles coming from the PNAC headquarters on Park Avenue. What is meant, obviously, is rolling back the Russian sphere influence and replacing it with a cordon sanitaire stretching from the Baltic states, through the Balkans and into the Caucasus and Central Asian underbelly. While the Report apparently thinks that the Russian will roll over like docile circus animal, it acknowledges a potential for all hell breaking loose in Europe.

The Report's next stated area of concern was the Pacific/East Asia theatre. However, it proffers no analysis of Sino-American relations nor any reasoning for its conclusion that the preponderance of American military force should refocused and redeployed toward the Far East. Bearing in mind Napoleon’s famous dictum , one can accept, at least in theory, that if a future “full theatre” threat to United States exists it would very likely come from China. One does not have to be a think-tank expert to realize that China, far more than North Korea and far more than the once Soviet Union, has the potential to present a military and economic challenge to America. Such a threat, involving economic and military factors with countries and locations as removed as India, Australia, Japan and Mongolia, would be rife with complexities, none of which are given even the most superficial analysis, other than to say that over the long term we should prepare to blow the hell out of the Far East.

Instead the Report tarries at length in what it disingenuously calls “Southwest Asia." Why so coy? It is hardly surprising that the Middle East would be designated as a possible theatre of conflict. What is noteworthy is that the Report does not make a single mention of Israel or of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead the Report asserts that instability in the region is entirely due to the “rogue” states of Iraq and Iran.

Astonishingly enough, the Report makes no claim that Iran or Iraq were supporting “terrorism”. It makes no claim that they were currently (September 2000) developing any kind of weapon of mass destruction, although it suspected they probably would like to. Instead the Report tacitly assumes the success of no-fly zones and daily bombing runs over Iraq. In final analysis the Report concedes that neither rogue Iraq nor rogue Iran present any serious danger to the United States, stating both candidly and cryptically “While none of these operations involves a mortal threat, they do engage U.S. national security interests directly, as well as engaging American moral interests.”

Moral interests? It is almost too much even for black comedy. What could possibly be meant?
“In the post-Cold War era, America and its allies, rather than the Soviet Union, have become the primary objects of deterrence and it is states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea who most wish to develop deterrent capabilities. Projecting conventional military forces or simply asserting political influence abroad, particularly in times of crisis, will be far more complex and constrained when the American homeland or the territory of our allies is subject to attack by otherwise weak rogue regimes capable of cobbling together a minuscule ballistic missile force. Building an effective, robust, layered, global system of missile defenses is a prerequisite for maintaining American preeminence.”
Evidently the Report was so preoccupied with dancing around the Ally Who Shall Not Be Named, that it broke one of its ellipses. (Doubletalk can get confusing, but the Soviet Union was never an “object of deterrence” given the altered meaning of the word in the sentence.) What the paragraph says is that states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea are threats (to us) because they wish to be able to deter threats to themselves. Accepting for the sake of argument that another countries defensive capacities constitute a threat, the question remains how and in what way those capacities would amount to a threat to the United States? The answer given is that threat arises “when the American homeland or the territory of our allies is subject to attack by otherwise weak rogue regimes capable of cobbling together a minuscule ballistic missile force.”

Parsing the rationale, the Report argues that the American “homeland” could be subject to “minuscule ballistic missiles” cobbled together by “rogue regimes.” In other words, we should be concerned (on a prioritized basis) that North Korea or Iran or Iraq will launch a jumbo fire-cracker at the United States.

It is simply beyond inane and it contradicts the previous acknowledgement that Iran, Iraq and North Korea’s “deterrent” capacities do not present any “mortal” threat to the United States. There is only one state that could suffer any damage (if that) from garage-made mini-missiles. “America” got tossed into the disjunctive threat equation simply as a way of masquerading that the Report’s focus was on Israeli security in which, it asserts, we have a “moral” interest.

Thus while the Report asserts U.S. global and inter-planetary power projection as a pre eminent good anywhere anytime, the near-term geo-political interests it singles out is (1) the encirclement of Russia (including control over the energy regions in the Caucasus) and (2) the protection of Israel by destroying Iraq and Iran’s deterrent capacities.

The Report was finished in September 2000. It is not shy in its criticism of Clinton’s policies and assumes rather confidently that the next administration would be amenable to the “findings” presented.

The confidence of its authors was not misplaced. “The safety of the American homeland” has now become the Office of Homeland Security. The “rogue states” of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, have emerged as the Axis of the Evil. The Bush Doctrine on nuclear weapons has fleshed out the meaning of “nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of”. The Defense Department’s Office of Disinformation has given us a taste of “future forms” of information warfare; and the Patriot Act has given us a taste of just how difficult and complicated the administration considered that “host of legal, moral and political issues” concerning privacy and free speech. Last but not least, the administration’s lust for war with Iraq is giving us an example of the constabulary forces in action.

©WCG, 2002

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

PBS News Hour Buries Map of What Israel Offered

Despite repeated requests the Public Bullshit System News Hour refuses to publish a MAP of Israel's supposedly "generous" to Arafat at the Camp David Summit. Instead, the News Hour accepts the Israeli provided "contextualization" of events and like an obedient drone repeats the Israeli version of events.

In this (longish) letter [NEED LINK] and lambasts PBS for being such slavish imbeciles.

©WCG, 2002