Author– Noam Chomsky
Genre– Non Fiction
Subject– Politics/ US Foreign policy
About the author
Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous best selling political books including ‘9-11′, ‘Understanding Power’, ‘Middle East Illusions’, and ‘Pirates and Emperors- Old and New. He is the author of over 100 books. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to parents who were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. A political activist, philosopher, linguist, author and lecturer, he is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy and the universal grammar theory, he had held radical leftist views and identified himself with anarchist and libertarian socialist movements. A staunch critic of foreign policies of US and other governments, beginning with the critique of Vietnam war in 1960’s, he rose to public attention when The New York Times published his anti-war essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals“(https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1967/02/23/a-special-supplement-the-responsibility-of-intelle/) . He was an outspoken opponet of US involvement in Vietnam war. He remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman(American economist, media scholar and social critic), Chomsky later articulated the propaganda model of media criticism in ‘Manufacturing Consent:The Political Economy of the Mass Media‘ and worked to critique the media coverage of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Chomsky and his ideas are highly influential in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements.
His defense of freedom of speech, including Holocaust denial, generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the 1980s. The affair was an academic controversy in the wake of a book, Mémoire en défense (1980), by French professor Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. The scandal largely dealt with the inclusion of an essay by Noam Chomsky, entitled “Some Elementary Comments on the Rights of Freedom of Expression“, as an introduction to Faurisson’s book, without Chomsky’s knowledge or explicit approval. Responding to a request for comment in a climate of attacks on Faurisson, Chomsky defended Faurisson’s right to express and publish his opinions on the grounds that freedom of speech must be extended to all viewpoints, no matter how unpopular or fallacious.
According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980–1992 time period, and was the eighth-most cited scholar in any time period. Since retiring from MIT, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting the Occupy movement. Chomsky began teaching at the University of Arizona in 2017.
Synopsis ( exactly as from the book, abridged)
In it’s pursuit of hegemony and total world domination, the US foreign policy was shaped, moulded, and tweaked, incorporating punitive and preemptive military occupations and wars and wielding cudgels like economic sanctions and trade wars, thus bringing about catastrophic humanitarian consequences and spawning of a long term threat of international terrorism and proliferation of WMD. The world was shocked to learn how possible terminal nuclear events, triggered by error, were barely avoided at the eleventh hour, the one during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 considered as a shocking example.
The war-mongering Bush administration, despite popular opposition, blocked UN efforts to ban militarization of space, and terminated international negotiations to prevent biological warfare. Warnings of humanitarian catastrophe, long -term emergence of terrorism and WMD proliferation were ignored and preemptive use of force was announced as National Security Strategy to eliminate any challenge to US hegemony. Saddam Hussein was incriminated in 9/11 attacks and in WMD proliferation,that drove public opinion in favor of use of force at will, through propagandas. Climate change and other environmental threats were ignored by the travesty of propositions by the Climate Change Science Programme(CCSP) favouring the narrow interests of the private power sectors and rebuffing multilateral engagement, thus alienating and creating resentment in Europe.
Despite the UN inspection’s failure to find WMD in Iraq, world wide protests against war and a dismally low percentage(scarcely 10%) of international public opinion in support of war, US made it’s intent to use force very clear. Human rights and democracy remained in talks and speeches, not in practice.
To ensure submission of the “great beast” or the masses according to Alexander Hamilton, to not let them stray from the confines, the men in power devised many methods. Coercion or force was the initial method. In the US, Wilsonian idealism(1918) set out international goals to ensure a government in the hands of a few good abroad and a system of elite decision-making followed by public ratification (polyarchy) at home. In the free societies that emerged later, where freedom and rights predominated, coercion lost it’s utility and new devices like control of opinion and attitudes through propaganda were deviced. Thus the beast was tamed by the art of manufacture of consent by institutions of the governement, in essence a Leninist ideal. Wilson’s Committee of Public Information was formed to whip up wartime propaganda. “The resposible men” differed from the masses/ beasts by their decision making capacity. The beasts were spectators and not participants, they do not have a function, but to trample in support of leadership class. Thus the decision making was kept within the confines of institutions with a top down authoritative control. The public areana was limited by neoliberal initiatives to unaccountable private tyrannies. Thus democracy would survive in a reduced form.
Whenever faced with a crisis of democracy, i.e, the public escaping it’s marginalization and passivity, new tools like indoctrination of the young through schools, universities and chiurches, self- censorship or government control of media worked their way to regain control. These methods were devised and propogated with the help of public intellectuals. James Madison held the view that power must be in the hands of a wealthy few, the most capable men, and the role of governement was to protect this opulent minority against the majority( pre- Capitalist). He foresaw that the majority would rebel under hardhsips, for equality and on who will make the decisions.
Control of opinion as the foundation of government
This is true in the most free and most despotic governments. The modern institution of thought control, propaganda originated in free countries where control by force was not possible. In Britain, which pioneered, it was under the name Ministry of Information. US followed with Committee of Public Information.(CPI). Both controlled the thoughts of the world. Participants like Edward Bernays called “the engineering of consent the very essence of democratic process”.The method was imitated by the Nazi Germany, South Africa, Soviet Union and Pentagon. PR industry later dwarfed the propoganda. To carry out policies opposed by the general population, leaders often followed the Office of Public Diplomacy established by the Reagan administration for carrying out it’s murderous policies in Central America. A huge psychological propaganda programme conducted by the military include the Operation Truth (a non-profit veterans’ organization that seeks to “amplify the soldiers’ voice in the American public dialogue” in order to “educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand) .
In Central America, Reagan administration faced challenges to the traditional violence and repression, from the Church and locals. Soon US responded with the propaganda of ‘war on terror'(1981)/ terrorist war by slaughter, torture and barbarism. In Nicaraugua, the US backed Somoza dictatorship was overthrown by the Sandinista rebels who dismantled the repressive military that had subdued the region’s locals. US then subjected the country to a campaign of state sponsored terrorism and the country was left in ruins. In other Central American countries subjected to the Reaganite war on terror, the military/terrorists trained by the US, controlled, terrorized, tortured, maimed and killed the people and the US citizens remained unaware of these atrocities. During the 1980’s the US backed state terrorist campaigns created societies affected by panic, terror, collective intimidation and ‘internalized acceptance’ of frequent appearance of tortured bodies. The psychological impact on the population from the culture of terror include domesticating their expectations and destroying hope after attaining which democracy is allowed/ preferred. This has been the US methodology not just in Central America, but in the rest of the world too.
Imperial Grand Strategy
By 2002, the most powerful state in history vowed to maintain hegemony through military force and threats. This was the explicit official rhetoric of the National Security Strategy, to dissuade military bulid up by potential adversaries . It sought to maintain a unipolar world without competitors and challenges. The fact is that this declaration renders the Article 51 of UN charter ( international norms of self defense) meaningless,thus spurning international law and istitutions. The problem with this strategy is that, the other states will find ways to work around, undermine, contain or retaliate against US, thus making the world more divided and dangerous and the US less secure.
The grand strategy gives the US the right to preventive war (not preemptive)(The difference is that a preventive war is launched to destroy the potential threat of the targeted party, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned. A preemptive war is launched in anticipation of immediate aggression by another party). While preemptive war might fall within the framework of international law, preventive war do not. The Central American countries had every right to strike back on the US attacking them, on the grounds of premptive strike, but rights are reserved for the powerful and not the weak. So, preventive war is absolutely unjustifiable since the strike is made on the grounds of an imagined or invented threat, making it a war crime.
The historian and Kennedy advisor, Arthur Schlesinger compared the purported anticipatory self defence claims of US in Iraq invasion to the Pearl Harbor attack by the imperial Japan. He added that the post 9/11 sympathy for US from the world gave way to hatred of American arrogance and militarism. UN Security Council was ignored, UN Charter rules on use of force were rebuffed. When WMD was undetectable, US changed the rule and stance to justify the invasion in terms of discovery of potential equipment to produce the weapons. The bar to use force was lowered as a consequence of Iraq invasion to invading any country that has the ability or intent to produce WMD. Thus the goal of Imperial Grand Strategy was set to prevent any challenge to the power, position and prestige of the US without any legal issue arising from this(statement by the liberal statesman Dean Acheson following Cuban missile crisis).
Similarly, Reagan administration invoked Acheson’s doctrine while rejecting the World Court jurisdisction over it’s attack on Nicaragua, reserving to themselves the power to determine it’s own matters. It reserved it’s right to unilateral use of military power and ensured uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources. Though the contempt of international law and instituitions were flagrant during the Reagan- Bush years, even before the WW II ended, planners and strategists began plotting to hold unquestioned power, limiting the sovereignity of others by complete rearmament. The Western Hemisphere, former British empire, far East and later much of Eurasia were included under their wing. A world system open to US economic penetration and political control was constructed, and moves towards independent development by others blocked under the pretext of Cold War.
Basic missions of global management included
- Containing other global power centres
- Control of world’s energy supplies
- Barring independent nationalism
- Overcoming crises of democracy
Forms in which these were done
- International economic order change from 1970 s
- Restoring super power enemy to quasi colonial status from 1990 s
- Threat of international terrorism aimed at US from 1990 s
While Acheson and Sofaer only described policy guidelines in the line of Thucydides maxim “large nations do what they wish, while small nations accept what they must”, Dick Cheney- Donald Rumsfield- Colin Powell officially declared en even more extreme policy, one aimed at permanent global hegemony using force whenever necessary. The first two merely described while these three took action, that’s the difference.
New Norms of International Law
The Grand Strategy declaration went on to establish a new norm of internatonal law by actions. First public war fever was whipped up by propaganda, and that was during the same time as mid-term election campaign. The target of the attack should be defenseless, the attack must be worth the trouble and it should be portrayed as evil who was an imminent threat to US survival. Iraq ticked off all these boxes. The propaganda was whipped up by Bush, Blair and colleagues characterizing Iraq as evil, possessing WMD, destroying the people there. The State of the Union address by Bush in January 2003- ” Iraq is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons to dominate, itimidate or attack and has already used them on whole villeges, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or transfigured…..If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning“. The speaker and his colleagues had long supported Saddam in full awareness of his crimes, crimes which US didn’t care at that time.
Punishment after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was sanctions on Iraq. The 1991 war on Iraq was on the basis of a huge Iraqi military build up on Saudi border( of which US still refuses to provide evidence), that was undermined by a journal that investigated them. In Sep 2002, the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, warned of nuclear threat from Iraq on the US, an outright lie for the propaganda whip up to garner public support , disclaimed by Iraq’s neighbours as well as Israel intelligence and later undermined by UN inspectors( Washingtom opposed the inspections). Saddam was declared as a dire threat, with links to international terrorists and responsible for 9/11 attacks by the government media propaganda assaults. 60 % supported attack on Iraq in self-defence, strongly believing the WMD, and nuclear threats and in Iraqi involvement in Sep 11 attacks. As political analyst Anatol Lieven states, “the systematic mendacity of the propaganda programme has few parallels in peacetime democracies”. A bare majority in midterm elections for Bush was the effect of these propaganda campaigns. In Oct 2002, Congress granted the president authority to go to war ” to defend the national security of US against the continuing threat posed by Iraq”. The same script used by Reagan to declare national emergency in 1985, invoking the threat posed by Nicaragua.
After the 6 week war Bush declared victory, by removing an ally of Al Qaeda. The fact: No alleged link was there between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who was his bitter enemy. The consequence: The Iraq invasion actually increased the threat of terror on US , as predicted by analysts and intellectuals, by increasing Al Qaeda recruitment. The long term effects: The public even after many years still believed that US forces had found WMD (A THIRD OF POPULATION), 20% believed that Iraq had used them during the war, the effects of many years of intense propaganda inducing fear to tame the great beast, the public. Propaganda continued as the staged ‘Reaganesque’ announcement after the victory aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, clearly aimed at 2004 reelection campaign on the grounds of national security themes. Victors do not investigate their own war crimes, so whatever humanitarian crises or loss that followed was on Saddam, the same principles of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nuremberg trials, that qualified for trial and punishment only if done by enemies.
Thus, Iraq happened to be the first test case for the Imperial Grand Strategy and the new international norms, with tempting possibilities in Iran, Syria, Libya, Andean region and a lot of others. The intimidation strategy worked and the people and regimes were supposed to change their views from one based on international law and UN to consider their national interests in favour of reflecting American goals. 1990 s also became the decade of the new norm of humanitarian intervention in other countries by the US on the grounds of their courage and altruism. Intervention in Kosovo and East Timor were on this basis. Kosovo bombing established the norm of resort to force without Security Council authorization. Though India’s invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 and Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia( against PolPot) in 1978 are also examples of resort to force that put an end to terrible crimes and though the Western interventions in the 1990 ‘s were not even remotely comparable to those, the new norm was not recognized in the 1970’s. The reasons are clear, the 1970’ s interventions were by the wrong people, US was opposed to those ( Vietnam was punished for this by an US backed China invasion on Vietnam and harsher sanctions while US and UK lent direct support to Khmer Rouge).
The International Court of Justice in a 1949 ruling reserves intervention by force to the most powerful states. There are exceptions to this. Israel, a client is permitted to establish norms like ‘targetted killings’ of suspects. Another example is Israel’s bombing of Ozirak reactor in Iraq in 1981. US criticized it at the time as a violation of international law, but as Saddam transformed into a foe, the minor crime became a honored norm that impeded Saddam’s nuclear weapons programme. Though inspections did not reveal any plutonium production at the site in Iraq, all the while the Dimona reactor of Israel was churning out hundreds of nuclear weapons. Later, as a result of the bombing, Iraq went ahead with the decision to nuclearize and supported other Arab states too in the process, a consequence far from closing the nucleariization of Iraq. The norm that Israel established was imitated by Iraq in it’s Kuwait invasion.
The Rule of Law
How the Grand strategy extends to US domestic law?
9/11 was used to discipline the US citizens by the Bush administration. The administration claimed and excercised the right to declare people, including US citizens as “enemy combatants” or ” suspected terrrorists” without any evidence and imprison them without charge or access to lawyers or family indefinitely. Example could be found in Guantanamo prison camp. Suspected people were gagged, hooded, electrocuted, waterboarded, bound and locked , treatments questionable under international law. The humanitarian and medical organisations were prevented from accessing the prisoners in violation of Geneva Convention.
A leaked, confidential plan by the Justice Department, “Domestic Security Enhancement Act ” of 2003 expands state power by assaulting civil liberties, undermining constitutional rights by granting state authority to rescind citizenship on charges of material support to a blacklisted organization, even if the person was unaware of the status of the blacklisted organisation. It also mentions the surveillance without court authorization, secret arrests, protecting the state from scrutiny of people.
International Law and Instituitions
International law and UN charter is not even mentioned in the strategy. The primacy of law over force that has been followed since the end of WW II disappears. Force reigned as US sees it fit. The analysts predicted that the resentment towards US actions would provide the motivation for enemies to find ways to attack at US vulnerabilties. Even since WW II US has been resorting to force to secure it’s national interests, expediently and in line with the interests of domestic sectors influencing the policies. Like Adam Smith condemned the merchants and manufacturers of England as policy architects. Francis Fukuyama, who had served in the Reagan- Bush State Department, observed in 1992 than the UN served as perfect instrument for US unilateralism. UN virtually became an instrument of US power, though the elite disliked UN. On issues of elite concern, if UN fails to support, it is duly dismissed. Vetoes are the most significant examples of US power in the UN, by far the country that has issued the most number of vetoes( Britain follows), which weakens important resolutions taking them off the table (Eg- Washington’s wars in Indo China). For the same kind of SC resolutions, while Saddam was condemned, US rejected those. UN resolution conditions were changed unilaterally by Bush, Clinton and Blair in Iraq, bombing the country in 1998(Clinton) in defiance of UN. UN inspectors( UNSCOM)) were used by Washington to spy on Iraq, and it was clear that diarmament of Iraq was not the goal of US and UK. Vetoes and defiance of UN resolutions by other powers like France were characterized as scandals and failure of diplomacies eroding UN’ s credibility and legitimacy while those from the US were hailed as principled stands.
” UN can meet and discuss, but we dont need their permission” – Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Secratary of State Colin Powell. They were clear that they did not need a UN approval to declare and go to war or use force. The rest of the world was placed in notice, either to join the US or the ‘terrorists’ and suffer the consequences. The UN and the rest of the world were given an ultimatum by the US and UK to either capitulate in 24 hours or that they would invade Iraq and install the regime of their choice irrespective of whether Saddam remained or fled the country. They clearly stated that UN was irrelevant, the rest of the world has no option but to capitulate to their decisions and US had the sovereign authority to use force in assuring it’s national security interests. Bush made it clear that even if Iraq disarmed completely and unconditionally and Saddam disappeared, they would still invade Iraq and install a regime of their choice. The aim was clearly not disarmament or dethroning Saddam, but regime change, not one the Iraqis would prefer, but one that the conqueror would decide calling it “democratic”. The aims shifted back and forth from disarmament to regime change according to the time and audiences, as US saw fit. UN resolutions, inspections, Iraq’s refusal to permit inspections …. all were farces played unilaterally by the US. The message was loud and clear- ‘either be with us and enjoy the fruits or oppose us and suffer the harm’. Mexico and France tried to oppose by telling Washington that people were overwhelmingly against the war, but their pleas were ridiculed. The UN support of resolution 1441( Iraq war) tabled by the US was in reality a submission by the members, a coerced acquiescence invalid in law, but hailed as diplomacy in international law.
Rewards for following US orders included financial handouts and support. Putin was close to Bush and he was given the diplomatic nod in crushing the Chechen separatists. A head of a muslim charity was sentenced in US for funding ambulances in Bosnia and aiding the Chechen separatists, while Clinton was flying AlQaeda and Hezbollah operatives to Bosnia. Turkey was offered incentives to invade Kurdish Northern Iraq, but it did not at first, thus inviting the ire of US announcing punishment for the misdeed.
After the Iraq war, UN was once again deemed irrelevent because the complicated trade system in Iraq( imposed as a part of sanctions by the UN with full support of the US previously) was causing problems for the US companies granted contract under the military rule. Thus US demanded a freehand in the oil trade, and in deploying a government of it’s choice under a democratic facade, even though the rest of the world(except UK), majority of US citizens and a large majority of Iraqis(85%) preferred UN oversight to US control. Thus never in recent history has there been anything remotely resembling the monopoly of use of large scale violence by a free state in pursuit of it’s imperial ambitions.
Elite concern over the imperial ambitions of US reached new levels after Bush declared it as a “revisionist state” . Samuel Huntington, the political analyst, noted that US was becoming a rogue superpower. Many anticipated coalitions to arise to counterbalance the rogue state. The American political scientist, Kenneth Waltz warned of a proliferation of WMD by other states to counter or deter the actions of US, something accelerated by the dismantling of mechanisms to control violence. Examples are the impetus to Iranian nuclear weapon proliferation and nuclear deterrence by North Korea. North Korea proved to be a lesson for the world that witnessed American inability to tame it unlike the defensless and shattered Iraq, the only reason being it’s possession of WMD aimed at Seoul and US military at DMZ.
Coming to the second superpower, “public opinion”, protest was non existent in 1962( when Kennedy announced bombing of South Vietnam), and it increased only years later when the devastation and aggression became significant. There was a steady increase in unwillingness to tolerate agression and atrocities over the four decades and in 2002, protests were large scale even before the Iraq war was officially launched. Reagan administration backed down in Central America following the Kennedy model of South Vietnam in the face of public reaction and resorted to a clandestine model concealed from general public. The strengthened activity movements in the decades since 1960’s made it impossible for the US to use force without vindicating it with propaganda offensives like imminent threat by a genocidal regime and so on. The world public opinion turned against the US. Like the rest of the world, Iraq’s neighbours were also perplexed as to why US was fearing Iraq, already weakened by sanctions with a comparatively lower economy and military expenditures than the neighbours. Powell had referred to the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD on it’s neighbours at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The neighbours, also like CIA and the US Department of Defense knew well that Iraq did not pose any threat to them, let alone the US. The neighbours were actually mending fences with Saddam over US opposition. Most of the formal and informal polls around the world showed Bush as a greater threat to world compared to Saddam.
The fundamental principle behind the imperial grand strategy was Wilsonian Idealism– the noble men , with righteous intent and elevated ideals, as the historical vanguard, for the common good, transforming the global order, perpetuating its own dominance guided by military supremacy projected globally. US foreign policy has been guided by these ideals regardless of party. But for anyone to be assured of the actions as motivated by elevated ideals and altruism( humanitarian inteventions) in the quest of stability and righteousness, they have to adopt a stance called ‘intentional ignorance‘. So the past , as well as the present actions could be justified on this basis and the flaws that were tidied up as inevitable. Wilson himself put the words into deeds by conquest of Philippines and interventions in Haiti and Dominican Republic that left both the countries in ruins.
Europeans failed to understand this idealism and thought of it as mere truism. The Russian- American author and military historian, Max Boot attributed this to the history of European avarice and cynicism. The historian and political commentator, Robert Kagan points to the paranoid, conspiratorial anti- Americanism. Both of them lent their words from John Stuart Mill‘s essay on humanitarian intervention objective of Britain’s conquest of India. It is hard not to think of his essay as a disgraceful example of apologetics for the terrible crimes of Britain. Kagan’s anti- Americanism concept, to defame state policy critics who do not identify society and people with state power, is directly from the totalitarian lexicon.
The language of tyrants and conquerors remain the same throughout. Saddam warned Kuwait of retribution for undermining it’s economy by ‘assuring a world without fighting and with peace and a dignified life‘. The Munich agreement with the Nazis was hailed to bring a world order based on justice and law, but soon later Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia explaining his ‘earnest desire to serve the interests and welfare of the people‘ there. Mussolini’s concern for the liberated populations of Ethiopia, Japans aims to create a paradise for the suffering people in Manchuria and North China defending them from communist bandits, Japan’s New Order to create permanent stability in East Asia are all rhetorical flourishes sugarcoating the militant abuses of the the occupied.
Interventions are justified as humanitarian or in self defense after the war, thus making in in accordance with the UN charter.Thomas Jefferson observed on the world situation of his day- ” we believe no more in Bonaparte’s fighting merely for liberties of the seas, than in Great Britain’s fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object is the same, to draw to themselves the power, wealth and resources of other nations“.
The founder of modern international relations theory, Hans Morgenthau condemns the “conformist subservience to those in power” by having a selective faith in the domestic political leadership, a regular stance of most intellectuals throughout history. The occasional departures were seen in two countries with US aided repressive regimes- Turkey and Columbia. Activists , writers, priests and academics face the constant assassination threats for protesting the atrocities and draconian laws of their regimes. While their Western counterparts veil themselves in intentional ignorance thus contributing to the ongoing crimes.
The New Era of Enlightenment
The final years of the 20 th century marked the idealistic world view of the US on ending inhumanity, using principles and values, an era of enlightenment, benevolence, acting out of altruism and moral fervor. The record of terror and atrocities with the help of reigning super powers and allies was supressed.
The year 1997 was significant for the human rights movement. In that single year the flow of military aid to Turkey surpassed the whole aid for the entire cold war period, for the counterinsurgency programme against the miserably repressed Kurds. Tens of thousands were killed, millions of people were driven from the devastated countrysides. Turkey was the leading recipient of US arms at the time (80% from US) besides Israel and Egypt. In the same year military aid to Colombia began to skyrocket and it replaced Turkey by 1999. The internal conflicts were militarized, people tortured and displaced, guerilla forces strengthened by terrorizing peasants and urban population, political killings rised. Internal displacement of the population due to atrocities of the governments in these countries was augmented by US aid. In Iraq, this was a grave problem that the displaced people saw the Iraq war as a route back to their homes.
East Timor and Kosovo
Indonesia’s genocide of East Timor population, they had occupied reached new heights in 1999, when the ruling generals and paramilitary threatened the people to vote for continuing occupation in the referendum for independence. Indonesia had been receiving aid from US and UK for the past 25 years. Activists and humanitarian agencies widely publicized this in the US. Clinton reiterated the position that his administration did not want to take away the responsibility from Indonesia. After strong international and domestic pressure Clinton stopped the 25 year old support, Indonesia withdrew from East Timor allowing Australian peacekeeping forces to enter. Just a withdrawal from abetting and aiding the crimes would have sufficed which could have been easily done before, but the new achievement was hailed as a new norm of humanitarian intervention.
Kosova was next in line for humanitarian intervention, reportedly based on altruism and moral fervor. Media, journals and scholarships reported the NATO bombing of Kosovo( without UN approval) to be in response to the ethnic cleansing by Serbia in 1999, that drove more than half the Kosovars into exile. The truth was that the bombing preceded the ethnic cleansing and atrocities, that happened as a consequence. The Western documentary evidence provides no significant increase in the killings of Kosovars, numbered at around 2000 before the NATO bombings. UN began registering refugees only 1 week after the bombing and the Milosevic indictment of May 1999, details a series of terrible crimes after the bombing.
The British Defense Minister, George Robertson testified that until the NATO bombing, the CIA- backed Kosovo Liberation Army(Albanian guerillas) was responsible for more deaths than the Serbian authorities had been. The guerillas had frankly told that their goal was to kill Serbs to elicit a public response for NATO intervention in Kosovo. Even befor this the Foreign Secretaary, Robin Cook had told the House that the KLA had committed more ceasefires and more deaths. It is notable that the Racak massacre by Serbian authorities (45 people killed) did not concern US and Uk at the time . In his memoir, ‘Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo. and thr Future of Conflict ‘ by Wesley K Clark, the NATO commander during the Serbia bombing, he mentions that Milosevic’s human rights violations had nothing to do with the bombing nor did the eviction of Kosovars start before the bombing. He had warned the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that if NATO proceeded with the bombing the evictions and killings by Serbians would increase. The only plausible explanation for the bombing was the imposition of NATO’s will on a defiant leader who was undermining the credibility of Western diplomacy and NATO’ s will power. The same interpretation is given by Andrew Bacevich, the American historian in his book, ‘American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy ‘. The plight of Kosovars was of no concern, and the bombing was to preempt the threats to the cohesion of NATO. It’s purpose was to warn Europeans fancying to slip away from the American orbit, affirm US primacy in Europe.
Present day consequences after years of bombing include Kosovars living in abject poverty, radical Islamists taking control of the people’s life giving rise to Taliban phenomenon of Europe. The norm of humanitarian interventions made the UN charters obsolete, giving the US the sovereign right to take military action at will without UN authorization, thus redefining the role of UN.
The Need for Colonization
Columbia, the largest recepient of US military aid in 1999, had the worst human rights record too in the Western hemisphere. Under the guise of a drug war by the US, purportedly to curb the domestic drug use, the poppy fields of poor peasants in Southern Columbia were destroyed through a chemical warfare called fumigation causing deaths, displacement, sickness and injury. Even after they failed to achieve the their goals, they were not discontinued. The rich biodiversity was destroyed, the peasants, indigenous and other people were displaced and live in slums in abject poverty and with people gone , multinationals stripped the mountains of their natural resources. Thus this helped the foreign investors and the Columbian elites in their businesses.
Columbia is an oil-producing region like Chechnya,Western China, Central Asia, and other places where the state terror by military and private paramilitary increased after 9/11 under the pretext of ‘war on terror ‘ expecting a nod from US. In Columbia, as in Turkey, Indonesia and Serbia, the state terror had been carried out by private paramilitary as crimes were also privatized in accordance with the neoliberal practice. In Columbia, fumigation was carried out by private companies, consisting of US military officers under Pentagon contract to evade accountability.
The conscience shocking atrocities in countries were overlooked until they defied US. Turkey’s atrocities against the Kurds by US provided military aid were similarly overlooked even after the extensive reporting by human rights watch organisations, but became significant after it denied the US, permission to attack Iraq from its borders as per the Turkish public opinion. Suddenly Turkey became the villain torturing , killing and disappearing the Kurds and destroying their villages.
Blairs foreign policy advisor, Robert Cooper, put forward a statement for the need for colonisation by the post modern enlightened states in the 20 th century to promote order, freedom and justice. Cooper alludes to the most important change in the world order since WW II, a striking discontinuity in history, that Europe is at peace, a post modern system of law, justice and cilvility. But, while dealing with the uncivilized, Europe and West would revert back to the laws of the jungle- of deception, preemptive attacks and force.
Protecting Naughty Children from Infection
The enlightened states of the late nineteenth century took pride in liberating the savages by violence, destruction and plunder. The Czar and Metternich(Austrian empire) worried of the pernicious contagion of republicanism and popular self rule. Worst was the Monroe Doctrine by the apostles of sedition, “a species of arrogance, peculiarly American and inexcusable” as Bismarck put it. The 1904 Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine asserted the U.S. role as policeman of the Western Hemisphere and its right to involve itself in the affairs of Latin American countries. Although justified under the auspices of limiting European interference in the Americas, the Roosevelt Corollary did more to lay the groundwork for the U.S. in its own interventionist practices in the decades to come. WIlson secured US domination of Carribeans. Britain was forced out of the oil rich Venezuela, trade with British banned, US supported the dictator Juan Vincente Gomez who opened the country to US companies. This was at the same time of the US continuing to demand and secure US oil rights in the Middle East where the British and French had monopoly. Venezuela continues still as an eyesore, remaining poor despite sitting on vast oil resources, yielding wealth to foreign investors and a few of the countries elites.
Wilson compared Latin Americas as naughty children excercising all the privileges and rights of the grown ups and so need a stiff, authoritative hand. He regarded the Filippinos as children who must obey orders. And Italians too were considered so. The Italian people’s hunger for strong leadership and dramatic leadership through democracy, was crushed by supporting Mussolini’s Fascism through the interwar years. In 1948, the democracy was subverted and US withheld food from starving people, restoring the Fascist police. Roosevelt rewrote Haitian constitution to permit US corporations to take over the land and resources after occupation. Similarly Eisenhower sought to overthrow the newly elected Castro government in Cuba.
Iran‘s conservative parliamentary government was toppled by an US aided military coup, when they sought to gain control of their resources. An obedient regime was installed that ruled with terror for 25 years. US feared the economic nationalism, a new sort of nationalism and aspirations for industrialization that would benefit the Latin Americans more and leave out the US investors as the first beneficiaries. Thus the Economic Charter for Americas was imposed to prevent and eliminate this. It should be mentioned here that economic nationalism had always been a key feature of US economy. Communism sought to promote the new nationalism, thus reducing the willingness of Communist countries to serve and support the industrialization of the West. That was the main aim of the analytical framework of policymakers of supporting the right wing dictatorship of European fascists during interwar years, to control the threat of Communism, not the military threat but the threat of economic nationalism . Thus some of the most powerful states were shaped with the private instituitions as their tools.
The rise of fascism during the interwar years that elicited concern was viewed favorably by the US, British, businesses and elites.. The reason was that the fascist version of extreme nationalism permitted Western economic penetration, and destroyed the democracy and labor movements. Mussolini was described as “that admirable Italian gentleman” by Roosevelt. Hilter was also applauded until he launched agressions that infringed on US and UK interests. By 1937, the State Department regarded fascism as a moderate force that must triumph over the Left. The US ambassador to Italy lauded Mussolini as a great human. In 1938, FDR and Sumner Welles approved Hitler’s Munich agreement which dismembered Czeckoslovakia. The business world and elites were also enthusistic of European fascism. Businesses boomed in Italy and Germany because of the stable climate and supressed threats of the masses. In 1939, Britain was more supportive of Germany, due to the Anglo- German industrial, commercial and financial relations. The support for fascism remained even after 1943, after US and UK entered the war. They tried to supress antifascist resistance in many places, to restore the traditional order by supporting some of the worst dictators and war criminals. Even througout the cold war and till the present, the ideological basis of American foreign policy supporting dictators remained much the same , though only the tactics changed.
Reconciling the need to do terrible things with the commitment to democracy and freedom was agonizingly done to create economic policies that would enable US businesses to operate as freely and as monopolistically to create an US dominated capitalist world economy. Secretary of State Lansing warned Roosevelt that the Bolshevik disease might spread. FDR feared that the American blacks returning from war might contract the disease. Anti-capitalism was present among the working class in England too as feared by Lloyd George. The revolutions worldwide were casting a shadow of fear on the west. In US, social unrest was supressed by Wilson’s “Red Scare“. The power of masses was feared by industrialists. Soviet economic development was also a concern until 1960 when it began to stagnate due to the arms race. Russia, Europe’s third- world before WW II, after defeating Germany achieved military might and superpower status. Russian- US conflict in 1917 was justified by John Lewis Gaddis, military historian as self-defense to the virus of revolution, which challenged the survival of capitalist world order. Attack as defense, a “logical illogicality“. The basic policies of intervention and war were the same during pre-war, inter-war and post-war years , all based upon self- defense or preventive attacks, the same policy of the 2002 radical nationalists.
The post war discontinuity in international politics is indicated by US becoming the global actor and Europe attaining democratic peace. While Europe had devoted to slaughtering one another and conquering the world before 1945, a happy combination of liberal norms, representative democracy and market economies changed the picture. The West could still resort to violence against the weak, but not against one another and Cold war equations were also based on this.
The Cuban missile crisis was the most dangerous moment in human history. It was revealed in a Havana conference in 2002, that in 1962, October the world was one step away from nuclear disaster and war, prevented by a Soviet submarine officer, Vasili Arkhipov, who blocked an order to fire nuclear armed torpedoes. The people at the conference, including the historian, Arthur Schlesinger, couldn’t miss the fact that Kennedy chose quarantine as an alternative to military action in 1962, while Bush committed to military action in 2002. Though Kennedy was approbated universally for the decision, he refused publically to withdraw the Jupiter nuclear missiles placed at Turkey on the border with Russia, and refused to not invade Cuba, conducting an active policy to undermine and displace the Castro regime including covert operations against Cuba. Secretly, the Jupiter missiles were replaced with Polar nuclear submarines.
The Soviet deception was unveiled by the UN ambassador, Adlai Stevenson when he exposed a photo of a missile site in Cuba taken by US spy planes. This excercise called “Stevenson’s moment” entered the historical memory.The starkness in that was, the Cuban missiles generated widespread fear in US that the Turkish missiles ostensibly failed to produce in Russia. The moment seemed to upset the balance of terror to less extreme on US side. For an impartial outside observer, the missile placemets would be fair trade by Kennedy and Krushchev. Yet Chomsky calls it an act of criminal lunacy that the missiles were placed in Cuba by Krushchev, fully aware of the posible consequences. He finds it a moral imbecility that those who warned Krushchev of the dangers were condemned and ridiculed when the worst did not come to pass.
Now let us note the asymmetry here. Cuban missiles stealthily placed by the Soviets were dramatically exposed in the UN, while the Jupiter missiles were out in the open, publically placed by the US in Turkey enveloping Russia, a country posing no threat to Turkey and attacked and devastated in the past by Germany, Britain and US (1918). US posed a grave threat to Cuba and the missiles were placed there by Russia for the self-defense of Cuba. Despite this US became the good one, moments like Stevenson’s dramatized and publicized and Russia became the evil. This is the power dynamics, ideological systems subordinated to power that makes sure that any action by the US be deemed as for self-defence, of benevolence or dispatched to oblivion, be it the international terrorism in Cuba, participation in the mass slaughter of the mass-based political party, National Liberation Front in South Vietnam, or the peasant based PKI party in Indonesia (1965)and many others.
The significance of owning a crafted moment in history, like the ‘Stevensons’ was revealed again when Colin Powell addressed the UNSC, with photographs of a truck emptying WMD from an Iraqi site and proclaimed that US would go to war without UN authorization. It was presented as proof that Iraq had deceived the UN inspectors by removing them before they had arrived and that Iraqis had penetrated the inspector team and led to the removal of weapons. Thus he tried to prove that the inspection team was unreliable in providing true data for US proved by the photos. Later the photos were proved unreliable due to the timelapse betwen them and the unreliable site. This is one of a series of stevenson- like crafted moments.
Though Kennedy officials refuse that he ordered an invasion of Cuba, the Secretary of Defense, Robert Mc Namara states the opposite. Cuban crisis became one of the reasons of wariness of European leadership at the liberal multinational end of the political spectrum to the US political leadership. Europe was kept in the dark despite the obvious threat of a nuclear disaster to Western Europe as well. The European Allies were expected to come along, they were accused of making discordant clamor if they knew. Cuban crisis, like the Iraq war was the end result of international terrorism, forceful regime change and quashing of Cuban revolution by violence and economic warfare.
International Terrorism and Regime Change in Cuba
Th 1959, the Batista dictatorship was overthrown by Cuban guerillas and the US tried a regime change by arming the guerillas and CIA- supervised bombing and incendiary raids piloted by exiled Cubans. Instead of a violent response, Cuba appealed the UN to resolve the issue through diplomatic means. Though the US ambassador assured no aggressive purposes in Cuba, plans to overthrow Castro government and preparations for Bay of Pigs invasion were well advanced. Fearing that Cubans might defend themselves, the CIA chief Allen Dulles urged Britain not to provide arms to Cuba. As the British ambassador later revealed, this was done to push the Cubans to seek Soviet help and thus to portray Cuba as a security threat in the region. This was exactly the script used in Guatemala, where a 10 year democracy with popular support and economic and social benefits for a large majority greatly upsetted the US. After US cut off sources of help and threatened an attack, Guatemala appealed to Soviets for arms and this led to a half-century horror in the country evoking it as a security threat.
Arthur Schlesinger, put forth a scheme to trap Cuba warning Kennedy of the political fallouts of a direct invasion. He conceived a black operation in Haiti, which might lure Castro into sending his army there which in turn could be portrayed as an effort to overthrow US supported Haitian regime of “Papa Doc” Duvalier. In 1960, Eisenhower put forward a plan to overthrow Castro in favor of a regime devoted to Cubans( despite the intelligence report that popular support for Castro was high) and acceptable to the US interests including military operation in the island, in a manner as to avoid the appearance of US involvement( to avoid the anticipated reaction in Latin America and home). The debacle of Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba was followed by a crushing embargo by Kennedy, a terrorist campaign, Operation Mongoose overseen by his brother Robert Kennedy (paramlitary operations, economic warfare and sabotage). Operation Mongoose was the centrepiece of American policy towards Cuba until the missile crisis of 1962. Kennedy brothers devoted all the resources to topple Castro. A final military intervention was planned in 1962, when the missile crisis erupted. A sinister covert operation was planned to lure Castro into a hostile reaction to US and developing an image of Cuba as a threat to US and Western hemisphere that would be used as a pretext to attack Cuba, but before it’s involvement with the Soviets, to avoid a direct entanglement with Soviet Union.
Operation Northwoods was a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba. The possibilities detailed in the document included the possible assassination of Cuban immigrants, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes to be shot down or given the appearance of being shot down, blowing up a U.S. ship, and orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities and publishing these in US newspapers to create a helpful wave of indignation. The proposals were rejected by PresidentJohn F. Kennedy.
A plan to engineer internal revolt and terrorism by Kennedy, to be followed with US military intervention, involved speedboat strafing attacks on a Cuban seaside hotel, attacks on British and Cuban cargo ships, contamination of sugar shipments, all carrried out by Cuban exiles permitted to operate freely from Florida. Even after a formal agreement between Kennedy and Krushchev and end of the crisis, terrorist operations continued. A covert action sabotage team from US blew up a Cuban industrial facility killing 400 workers. Ten days before Kennedy’s assassination he approved some US proxy terrorist operations to sabotage Cuban oil refineries, storage facilities, electric plants, sugar refineries, railroads, harbors, docks and ships. On the day of Kennedy assassination, a plot to kill Castro was initiated, and the next president Nixon intensified these acts , peaking in mid 1970’s, after taking office. Attacks on fishing boats, embassies, overseas Cuban offices, bombing of a Cuban airliner killing all 73 passengers on board and other grisly actions by Nixon were carried out directly from the US territory, regarded as criminal acts by FBI. In addition to all these Castro was condemned by NYT editorials for maintaining an armed camp despite US promises of protection .
The machine gun attack against a Spanish- Cuban tourist hotel in 1992 and bombings in 1997 were traced to Miami financed Salvadoran criminals operatng under the international terrorist, Lous Possada Carriles. He was responsible for the Cuban airliner bombing, and was recruied by CIA and financed by Miami business man. He was granted presidential pardon by BUSH I after lobbying by Jebb Bush and Cuban American leaders. iN 1998, US officially declared that Cuba no longer posed a threat. The Russian missiles in Cuba did prevent an US invasion of Venezuela. The economic embargo was harsher under Bush 1 and Clinton, which affected US exporters too, invited criticism from close allies and domestic public and shattered Cuba with severe health effects( managed by the excellent Cuban health care system preventing a humanitarian catastrophe).
Embargo barred food and medicine entirely. Cuba was not eased from sanctions in 1999, while Clinton eased sanctions on all other terrorist states on the list. In 1980, the West Indian Islands were punished by Carter who refused to allow aid after a hurricane, unless Grenada was excluded. The stricken countries refused the clause. Similarly Nicaragua was refused aid in 1988 when struck by a hurricane, causing many deaths from starvation and causing ecological damage. Cuban economic warfare was condemned in all international forums like EU, WTO, OAS and so forth
The reasons for the international terrorism and economic embargo on Cuba is not just a concern over Russian threat.The plans were devised and implemented before the Russian threat that developed as a consequence than cause for the US terrorism. Castro’s Cuba provided a model for the rest of Latin America to oppose ruling authority , encourage radical change and take matters into ones own hands. Land and property privileges of the upperclass was subverted by the demand of decent living by the poor. Russian aid for develpment was also a threat, of Soviets getting an upper hand in Latin America. The real reason of the embargo and terrorism attempts for regime change was Castro’s successful defiance of US hegemony, an impact that could have significant effects on leftist movements of other Latin American countries. This outrage over defiance could be traced back 200 years to Thomas Jefferson who condemned France in holding his coveted New Orleans, inspite of France’s help in liberating British colonies.
The international and domestic law became irrelevant many times in US hegemonic ambitions even before the 9/11. The achievements of international terrorism includes the US aided defeat of the ‘liberation theology’. A conservative Salvadoran Archbishop and Jesuit intellectuals were murdered with US aided security forces. Liberation theology, a religious movement arising in late 20th-century Roman Catholicism and centred in Latin America. It sought to apply religious faith by aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs. It stressed both heightened awareness of the “sinful” socioeconomic structures that caused social inequities and active participation in changing those structures.
The achievements of international terrorism were sanitized from history. Defiance was overcome by destroying the structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the majority like in Brazil, the US assisted military coup which overthrew parliamentary democracy. Kennedy’s ambassador Lincoln Gordon called it a democratic rebellion, restraining left wing forces to create an improved climate for private investment. The generals left Brazil transfering the wreckage to civilians by 1980 s as in Chile, leaving a country with dismal social welfare indices and inequality and a grand success for foreign investors and the privileged classes.
Fear of democracy and independence from the Western orbit of the small states were driving factors for US to commit international terrorism, subversion and violence. In Indonesia( 1965) the mass based PKI party was slaughtered and Suharto dictatorship installed fearing that the party would unite the nation, free itself from Western influence, stand on its own feet and prove an example to the developing nations and also turn out as a credit to communism.
Cuba’s defiance became immense when it reached to Angola as a Soviet instrument in 1975. It reached new heights when the US backed South African invasion of Angola was defeated by black Cuban soldiers, the most important contribution of Cuba in liberation of Africa . It is interesting to note that the international terrorism campaigns by US and regime changes are scarcely mentioned in literature in it’s naked form, but dismissed with comfortng euphemisms. Cuba is represented as a terrorist state, not a victim. In effect, others perform misdeeds, US correct it. While much of the US population opposed wars on principled ground, the educated elites were concerned with the costs and failure. My Lai massacre is condemned as the blame is pinned on half-educated GI’ s surviving the conditions of the field unlike Operation Wheeler Wallawa, in which the Tiger Forces killed scores of innocent civilians, including two blind brothers, a Buddhist monk, women, children, elderly civilians, and three farmers trying to plant rice. All were reported as enemies killed in action.
Cuba was added to the terrorist list in 1982, replacing Iraq, to make Saddam eligible for US aids.
International Terrorism and Regime Change in Nicaragua
The defiance of Nicaragua and the terror campaign for regime change unleashed on it by US is significant in its scale, and the way it was cast and reshaped in retrospect. It was uncontroversial among the highest international authorities. Nicaragua became the focus of war on state terror of Reagan in 1981 as it was armed by Soviets. The Nicaraguan communists were blamed to carry their revolution into US, and Soviet bases were feared to be established there. It was deemed a national security and foreign policy threat to US. Libya was bombed in 1986 for the arms aid Qaddafi was providing the communsts to bring the war home to US. The Sandinista leader, Tomas Borge‘s speech to become a revolutionary model for others was taken out of the context and transmuted to a design for world conquest by the Reagan diplomats. The State Department document of his speech was interpreted and recast as aggression and terror, while the real threat that US saw was the experiment of successful development that might infect others, like the democratic experiment of Guatemala and defiance of Cuba.
While the Secretary of State, George Schultz warned of the terrorism as war against ordinary people, US was bombing Libya and killing the civilians which was aired through all prime time TV channels for the first time. Negotiation of peace as tried by the Central American governments through multilateral organisations were duly rebuffed and blocked as euphemisms for capitulation. Nicaragua went to economic and social decline after the progress they had acheived following the overthrow of US backed Somoza dictatorship and slid into the poorest country in Western Hemisphere.. Nicaragua’s economic progress, once lauded by the World Bank and improvement in child survival lauded by UNICEF were the real cancer in the eyes of US to be cut off. Since these viruses of revolution would spread to others it should be rooted out.
Like Cuba, Nicaragua did not retribute, it approached the World Court which ruled in Nicaragua’s favor, condemning Washington. The aid to contras were deemed military and illegal, only humanitarian aid was allowed.. US condemned World Court as irrelevant, hostile and close to Soviets. Aid to contras was branded as humanitarian, aid of 100 million dollars was immedietly approved to escalate violence. The court ordered reparation to Nicaragua was dismissed and they were pressured to abandon the claim. In contrast Iraq paid 17 billion dollars to Kuwait, though only a fraction of those were killed there compared to Nicaragua. Vietnamese were denied reparations by telling that the destruction was mutual. Invaders became victims and Vietnam had to pay back the debt incurred by Saigon government that the US had installed as local agent in the Indo China wars. The precedents are China paying it’s foreign masters as reparation for rebelling agianst them( Boxer Rebellion), Haiti paying the French in 1825 for liberating them and the indigenous Iroquois civilization forced to compensate George Washington for resisting their invaders..
Nicaraguans still did not resort to violence against the US, and took the matter to UNSC, that endorsed the court judgement, the US vetoed. Then Nicaragua approached the General Assembly with US and Israel votoing twice. US escalated the war going after soft targets. Nicaragua succumbed under pressure in 1990 and voted to turn the country over to an US puppet. The strategy of soft target attacks were based on US control of Nicaraguan skies and the sophisticated communiications equipment given to US aided terrorists operating from US bases in Honduras. The same strategy in Guatemeala and Cuba was repeated. The allies were told not to aid Nicaragua to force the country to take Soviet aid. But this did not happen. So the Raeganite propaganda fabricated lurid tales of Soviet MiG’s threatening US from Nicaraguan bases, and this was used to call for bombing of the country. The same “logical illogicality“, Nicaraguans are not allowed to defend against their invaders freely operating from their skies since the invader’s action is defense and the victim’s action is aggression.
The country sank more deeply, socially, economically, politically, people left the place. Already battered by the US sponsored terrorism, it was further battered by the globalization, and massive corruption of the US backed govts. Nicaragua was warned by US in 2002 elections against voting for FSLN, an organisation that resisted US crmes in the past. They did not need warnings as history was a good guide. They had elected the wrong government, not supported by US but could not control the election, in 1984 and penalties followed. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere after Haiti, enjoying a world record for concentration of wealth.
Almost all the hawks who coordinated the state terrorism in Latin America were appointed in significant posts by Bush for the war on terror in the Middle East after 9/11. Nicaraguans were lucky initially as they had an army to defend them against the state terrorism. In neighbouring states like El Salvador, the terrorists were US aided military. When aid could not be provided directly to the state military, US resorted to their international terrorist network including Argentinian neo Nazis, Israel and Taiwan in the name of counterterrorism. The Panama invasion and bombing in 1989 by Bush killed thousands to flush out Manuel Noriega, a former CIA informant in the course of Operation Just Cause, for the crimes like drug trafficking committed while he was on CIA payroll. The invasion was condemned as illegal by the UN and other instituitions, duly rebuffed by the US as usual.
The Iraq Connection: International Script
By 2000 the more reactionary people of Reagan- Bush 1 administration regained political power. Their common goal was to eliminate the statebacked international terrorism and the script was already there.. The lines separating terrorism from aggression and resistance was blurred by them. In 1980 s, Central America and the Middle East were the two main foci. The retail terror of these regions were inflated by the propaganda machines and spread through media.
South Affrica received US assistance, support and trade relations by evading the sanctions on the country. South Africa‘s devastation of the newly independent Angola and Mozambique included millions of deaths of adults as well as children. Inside it’s borders, it was defending the people against the ‘terrorist organisation’ ANC, headed by Mandela, which was named one of the most notorious terrorist groups according to the 1988 Pentagon report.
CIA was successfull in 1980 s in recruiting radical islamists and organizing them to military and terrorist force. The goal , as told by Carter and his NSA, was to lure Soviets to attack Afghanistan by secret operations. In the war that ensued the Soviet objectives were defensive ones, while US took to pillorying and bleeding Soviets. After Soviets withdrew, Reagan’s jihadis took over Afghanistan and decades of civil war ensued.
After Russian withdrawal, the terror oganisations including Al Qaeda were recruited, armed and trained by the CIA. They inflammed India- Pakistan conflict with a terrorrist offensive in 1993, planned to blow up WTC from the formulas taught by CIA, the planning of which was traced to Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who was helped and protected by CIA in US. Saddam was supported and aided by Bush, even after Iran- Iraq war came to an end and after he gassed and killed Kurds, justifying how it would improve human rights, stability and peace. So many other dictators who were protected include Ferdinand Marcos, Duvalier, Suharto and so forth. The Romanian dictator, Ceausescu, who was overthrown after a revolt, was long supported y US. After his deposition, the Washington Post took a dramatic U-turn condemning him and Bush 2 after 12 years spoke dramatically in the Liberation Square in Bucharest, condemning the dictator and praising the revolutionaries who had deposed him.
Reagan- Bush years were marked by stagnant/ declining wages, benefits for rich, widening inequality, and free reign of employers. To maintain political power, fear was inspired on people. The people were frightened into obedience, into voting for a president who bravely fought the enemies. Devils were conjured up one after another. The Libyan hit men out on the streets to kill the president who fought Qaddafi courageouly(1981) was conjured after attacks on Libya killing the people there, hoping Libya would attack back and which could be used to frighten the Americans. Qaddafi was demonised again by framing his plan to attack Sudan to make ground for an attack on him. The subsequent US show of force was to demonstrate that Reagan acted quickly to prevent Qaddafi’s terror. Thus he was lionized by the media that gave him a superhero image making the people worship him. The leader came to the people’s rescue in many other cases like invading Grenada to quell the threat of the Russian airbase, attacks on Nicaraguan threat, bombing of Libya on the basis of preventive war etc…
War on drugs campaign(1989) was another tactic, for which media was used to whip up fear of Hispanic narcotraffickers as menace to society despite evidence to the contrary. Increase in arrest of superfluous people, and Operation Just Cause in Panama to arrest Noreiga due to his involvement with drug trafficking were done to boost up the electoral gains. At the same time, Thailand was being threatened with sanctions if it placed barriers on import of US tobacco. The Panama invasion was justified by invoking Article 51 of UN Charter, that provides the use of armed force to defend own country, interests and people and prevent another territory from being used to traffic drugs to US.
The Bush administration or the Republican administrations in general, followed tax cuts benefiting the rich, increased military spending, and the government fiscal deficits were managed by cutbacks on social welfare programmes. A fiscal train wreck was predicted that seemed like one Republicans asked for, that would offer cuts on social welfare programmes. Tax increase on the rich was an option out of the cards anytime. Beyond concentrations of wealth and power, eliminating social programmes had other goals. Social welfare was supposedly based on evil doctrines which inturn was based on sympathy, which should be driven out. Other benefits of privatization was explained thus. If the working people depended on stock markets for their wages and benefits, it becomes their responsibility to prevent situations that undermine their interests by opposing events that might cut into the profit flow of employers like wage increase, health and safety regulations etc.
The popularity of Bush after 9/11 dropped after some time due too the discontent with their social and economic policies. The mass discontent should be diverted to nationalism somehow to manintain political power as per Anatol Lieven, British author, journalist and policy analyst. National security issue was a good choice. Thus the imminent threat of Iraq was conjured up in 2002(midterm electoral campaign), just in time of the campaigns for the 2004 election. Recognising the vulnerability on domestic issues, the administration campaigned on a policy of international adventurism, new radical preemptive military strategies, and a politically convenient and perfectly timed confrontation with Iraq. Republicans though concerned with large corporations than ordinary Americans were deemed trustworthy on national security issues. Thus a manufactured fear produced enough basis for Iraq invasion. A new norm of aggressive war at will followed, that gave the administration hold on political power that was used to proceed with their harsh and punitive domestic agendas.
There was widespread acknowledgement among US intelligence and military agencies that a war initiated by US on Iraq would lead to proliferation of WMD and Islamic terror, risks considered insignificant and there was little likelihood that Iraq would initiate an attack from it’s side. The real security threats were ignored by US who abandoned a Biological Weapon Convention against germ wars, and vetoed a UN resolution to prevent militarization of space and prohibit the use of poisonous gases and bacteriological methods of warfare. The press coverage of Havana reveleations in 2002 about the Cuban missile crisis, US international terrorism and forced regime change had meagre press coverage. International relations scholars pointed out that the consequences of American adventurism, policies and globalization would be a vertical proliferation of WMD, and terrorist attacks. The study titled”America’s Achiles Heel” concluded a 90% chance of success in smuggling WMD to US by terrorists, made more grave by an attempted, unsuccessful 1993 attack on WTC.
Though a tyrant, Saddam was a rational one, his WMD was under strict chain of command. But an attack on Iraq could collapse this, opening the weapons cache to terrorists and unconventional actors. The risks of a war with Iraq in the name of preventive strike, the possible consequences and the posturing of the “rogue state”as the single most grave threat to world peace and security were unanimously echoed by US and world intelligence agencies and a number of other sources through out the world like the wizards of Davos. This was an unprecedented opposition in history to a war that had not begun. Though the critiques originated in the establishment, the administration ignored it. From a propaganda point of view, US did not need the burden of proof, a declaration of noble intent was enough. The risk of WMD proliferation and terrorism were in turn considered good even, since those could be used to induce fear in US and the world, thus maintain credibility and bolster president’s popularity for short term gains, and make others obey US. Clearly the twin most important goals were maintaining hold on political power and enhancing US control of the world’s energy sources. Roling back the progressive reforms, instituitionalizing a radical restructuring of domestic society and the imperial grand strategy for world domination were the other goals.
The Wild Men in the Wings
The main focus in White House was Iraq’s WMD and terrorism. Democratization/ liberation of Iraq, effect of war on Iraqis were not raised as concerns inside the White House except among the “the wild men in the wings” as Mc George Bundy referred to those who felt more was involved. Warning from other countries, international aid and medical agencies about the humanitarian consequences in Iraq with people already on the edge of survival from punitive sanctions, were ignored. A huge refugee flow and public health crisis was predicted by former asst. secretary of defense, Kenneth Bacon. Altogether the planned relief efforts were not detailed, short of money and hugely controlled by military and there was a studied lack of interest for the warning calls in Washington.
“The Saddam Hussein Reader: Selections from Leading Writers on Iraq” gives a complex pictire of the tyrant Saddam, who turned violence into a state instrument, with a hideous human rights record, but one who hoisted half of Iraq’s population into middle-class, developed it’s instituitions by directing the oil money into development. Arabs world over came to study in Iraqi universities. The infrastructure was purposefully destroyed during 1991 war, US and UK imposed sanctions under the aegis of UN destroyed civilians, food and humanitarian aid was limited, child mortality shot up(from 50 to 133 per 1000 live births), epidemics ensued, with more death under sanctions than from warfare. At a time of drought as well as child mortality from lack of access to clean drinking water, US purposefully blocked water tankers. Vaccination of children was blocked which was strongly protested by UNICEF,and WHO. Dennis Halliday and Haris von Sponek, the respected UN diplomats who knew Iraq well resigned protesting the genocidal character of US-UK regime, by withholding food and medicines . They were prevented from briefing in the UN. Their successor Tun Myat backed US describing the Iraqi food distribution as the best among the World Food Programme. There was general lack of coverage about the murderous sanctions except in a few news papers, discussions were minimal and whatever came to UN notice was kept from public scrutiny. The sanctions devastated the Iraqis, strengthened Saddam, and increased dependency of Iraqi people on Saddam. The International Red Cross concluded that a decade of sanctions tattered the economy, the “oil for food” programme by UN did not halt the collapse of health system and water supply, the two main reasons for the civilian catastrophe.
Coming to some bizzare defense of sanctions by the US. One, that Saddam was being punished for building palaces and monuments by illegal means, defying UN resolutions by crushing the civilians, his victims actually. Two, to bomb and occupy Iraq so as to stop the torture of sanctions. The conventional “studied lack of interest” of likely consequences is not new in case of US. Five days after 9/11, US demanded that Pakistan stop the food and aid supply to Afghanistan’s civilians. aid workers were withdrawn, and millions of Afghans were at the brink of starvation.,a “silent genocide” by US. The aid organization protests recieved no attention in Washington. The policy evaluation must be based on likely consequences, a truism applied for enemy nations , but not for US.
Democracy and Human Rights
The establishment critics restricted their comments on Iraq to disarmament, deterrence and terrorism without any serious references to democratization and liberation. They were aware of the previous administration’s support for Saddam, help given to Saddan to develop WMD when he was a danger, help given to him to crush rebellions that might have unseated him. During this time, Labor Party was in opposition and so they were free to oppose Saddam’s crimes and British support for him. They were absent in protest against the crimes including Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon and others of New Labor. Things changed and in 2002, Jack Straw, then foreign minister released a dossier of Saddam’s crimes( the timing is significant), from a period of US- UK support, something overlooked before. He failed to give a reason for his conversion from one of support to skepticism of Saddam. Actually, in 2001, as Home Secretary, he had refused to give asylum to an Iraqi fleeing torture and detention in Iraq, justifying the fair trial in Iraq under an independent judiciary of Saddam. Straw’s conversion has shadows in Clinton’s when he suddenly discovered in 1999 that Indonesia had done some grisly thing in East TImor in the past 25 years.
The ovewhelming popular opposition in US was controlled by propaganda campaigns. In Britain public opinion was split 50/50, but it took the position of junior partner, kept reluctantly after WW 2. Germany and France opposed in accordance to majority of their public who opposed war. US condemned them, Donald RUMSFIELD dismissed them as “Old Europe”. New Europe was led by Italy’s Sylvio Berlusconi who stood with US against the majority of its public opposingthe war. The interpretation was that the New Europe( 8 former Russian satellite states, Italy, Spain) stood behind Washington even if Germany and France opposed. Majority of the public in all New Europe opposed war. The public support in the former Communist countries were also low with or without UN support for the war, the leaders’ support was ambiguous, fearing US. Thus the democratic public opinion of the New Europe was jettisoned by the leaders for supporting US. Germany and France were condemned for anti- Americanism, paranoid, drive by avarice and unable to comprehend the strain of idealism that make America tick. Turkey, though depised Saddam, respected the will of 90% of their people to stay out of war. All the countries that opposed the war, were condemned that they followed the pople’s will and not US and lacked democratic credentials. Turkey was coerced by threats of economic sanctions and Erdogan complied with US’s will against overwhelming opposition by his people in a secretly held parliamentary session closed to public. But it did teach a lesson in democracy to West. Parliament in accordance with popular opposition to the war refused US troops to be stationed there. US branded the government too weak in the face of popular opposition. The clear presuppositions are strong governments disregard the public will and obey the ruler, while weak ones succumb to the will of their people. Shocking statement was by the Pentagon planner, leading visionary in democratizing the ME, Paul Wolfowitz, who condemned the Turkish military who failed to play the leadership role by allowing an elected leader to follow the public opinion.
The American political commentator and author, a liberal, Thomas Friedman suggested in NYT, that France should be driven off from UNSC and replaced by India, who was much more serious than the kindergarten France. In essence the French govt. acted in accordance with the popular opinion. India was now a serious player as it was governed by an ultranationalist proto fascist NDA alliance implicated in massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, but handing the resources to MNC’s. So the enthuiasm for Indias wonderful software industry though millions live in abject poverty, women under duress. Remember, the Taliban was also of no concern to US as long as they were cooperative.
These are instructive of the prevailing attitudes of US political and intellectual elites to democracy and freedom. Though dislike to democracy is a traditional stance of those in power with privilege, a stark demonstration of this by a democratic country is beyond real. That is the reason why the establishment critics ignores the democratization rhetoric of the elites. Commentators pointed to the uncomfortable dualism of Bush seeking to democratize the ME, at the same time seeking closer ties with autocrats exactly following Reagan. Reagans model of democracy was a top down form without upsetting the balance of the autocratic regime. A democracy where the people’s involvement was out of question and consequently Latin Americans lost their faith in democracy. The Argentine political scientist, Atilio Boron., in his book, ‘State, Capitalism, And Democracy In Latin America‘ explains the obstacles Latin American countries face in their efforts at democratic reform, including political institutions, a strong authoritarian tradition, the influence of neoliberal economic policies, the shortsightedness of the ruling classes and hopelessness among the poor.
Neoliberalization in 1970 s reduced democratic options by strenghthening investors, with the government facing conundrums against funders’ and voters’ choices. Free movement of the capital, a key feature of globalization turned out to be the greatest obstacle to democratic government as John Maynard Keynes had warned.Harmful consequences of foreign investment was mentioned by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. Same is true of privatization, another feature of neolibaralization.
Disllusionment with democracy was evident in US in the “stolen election” of 2000. The general public regarded it as a game between large contributors, party leaders and PR industry. Issues were not on agenda, voters were directed to the personal qualities of the candidate.
Liberation from Tyranny: Constructive Solutions
In Iraq, the constructive solution to democracy would have been to end the economic sanctions that strengthened Saddam and made the people more dependent on him than an outright violence against a tyranny long supported by the US. The people of Iraq were denied the democratic choices all along, like in the 1991 uprising when US supported Saddam in crushing it maintaining that the country needs an iron fisted military junta who offered better stability than representatives of people who suffered repression who might have ruled the country independent of US. . Exposure of mass graves of Saddam’s victims of revolution oppressed with US aid, was used as a smokescreen for the 2002 attack evoking his brutal genocide, something ignored in 1991. A popular uprising unlike US instigated coup by groups it controlled would have left US out of it’s influence in Iraq, like the revolts against tyrants supported by US. Sanctions were the best way to prevent a popular revolt and it succeeded. US hegemony over Iraq was strongly opposed in post war Iraq. A Shite Islamic Republic was decided to be objected by US on the grounds that they would mend fences with Iran.
Condolezza Rice stressed that Iraq is not East Timor, Kosovo or Afghanistan. The distinction is clear by the fact that Iraq is a major prize not to be given to UN or Iraqis. So the post war Iraq administration chart topped US personnels with a few Iraqis as advisors at the bottom end of the list. Thus by disturbing the world order Iraq became the “petri dish” for the US experimentation of world order and hegemony and establishing new norms as NYT reported
Dilemmas of Dominance
US support of Eastern Europe was based on the fact that it can drive the modern capitalism by cheap labour and blow apart the welfare state culture. After fall of Berlin wall, rising unemployment and pauperization of working class meant people were willing to work for pittance, for longer hours. Thus Europe could hammer away at high wages, short working hours, corporate taxes, and luxurious labor programmes.Thus the advantages could be brought to the west as well. The market reforms of East Europe were welcomed by US elites since the Western Europes social welfare systems and tax funded health care was very popular in US. Western Europe’s social market system could be a virus that infect others just like the independent social and economic development of the third world thus constituting successful defiance. The demographic consequences of modern capitalism were stark.
European unification received ambiguous support based on the doubt that Europe might go its own way independent of US..Eastern Europe, apart from undermining the social market system of West Europe, acted as a trojan horse for US market interests. In 1973 the share of US in world economy shrunk from its post WW2 peak and a tripolar order came into existence- North America, Europe and Japan based Asia. Later East Asia and China too joined. Before WW2, US was an economic powerhouse only, but after the war it became the leader in global management too as the other powers weakened or were devastated. Industrial production quadrupled and US controlled the whole western hemisphere, oceans and territory bordering it.
Marshall Plan fuelled growth of American MNC’s in Europe. SE Asia was to provide resources and raw materials to their former imperial masters. George Kennan, head of State Departments policy planning, adviced Africa to be split among Europeans to exploit the resources and the prized possession, the Middle East rich in oil was to be under US.
Cauldron of Animosities
Michael Krepon, a co-founder of the Stimson Center and a leading specialist on nuclear threats, raised concerns about the unstable nuclear proliferation belt from Pyonyang to Baghdad. But Israel, a far more nuclear threat is rarely featured in public discussions. Bush and Blair called for Resolution 687 to eliminate WMD from Iraq as a basis for invasion . But they ignored Article 14 of UN, specifying “a goal of establishing a Middle East zone free of WMD” that included Israel too.
Israel’s military capacities are dangerous, it is an off shore US military technology base and the core of economy is a military linked high tech industrial system with ties to US economy. It is now rated second in the western world after US, in terms of social gaps in income , property, capital, education and spending. It’s former social welfare system has eroded. It has close alliance with the other major regional military power, Turkey. 12% of Israeli offensive aircrafts are permanently stationed in Turkey, spying Iran, the main purposes being to partition Iran, separating the northern region, weakening it geopolitically, bar its access to Caspian sea and to expedite a pipeline from Caspian to Mediterranean cutting out Iran.
US-Israel- Turkey alliance extend to Central Asia and India (1998). The nationalist govt of India in 1998 shifted it’s international stance to Israel. The political analyst, Praful Bidwai wrote of the fascination of the Hindu nationalists with Zionism that is rooted in Islamophobia and hypernationalism and jingoism. The alliance of India and Israel , two nuclear powers contributed to proliferation of WMD, terror and disorder.
US- Israeli relations
After WW1, economy shifted from industrial to oil- based and petroleum sources were discovered in the ME. Now, the US policy shifted to controllig ME. British empire had delegated control to Arab ruler clients, a veil of constitutional fiction and cost effective than direct rule. The population did not submit, but airpower was becoming available to bomb civilians , and some like Winston Churchil gassed the recalcitrant Kurds and Afghans. Britain undermined the efforts to prevent the use of airpower against civilians after the war. The statesman, Lloyd George praised the British Govt. for reserving the right to bomb niggers.
US followed the British empire policy and the non- Arab states like Turkey, Shah’s Iran too joined. For US, it was more about control than access. After WW2, North America was the world’s largest oil producer. Later a major exporter to US, was Venezuela. And the US was expected to rely on the Atlantic Basin resources in future and not ME oil. So control over ME, was on the basis of the profits to US-UK energy corporations. The oil wealth recycles to US and UK in many ways like construction projects, military hardwares etc. Thus a global system of military bases were planned in Gulf. Base sites include, in Eastern Europe, Turkey,Afghanistan, Central Asia, British held island of Diego Garcia( inhabitants were expelled). One of the main reasons for invasion of Iraq was to establish a military base at the heart of ME. The 1948 Israeli Arab war showed the Israeli military military prowess that offered Israel as a means to gain military advantage over the Gulf region.
In 1958, the Eisenhower administration identified three major crisis of radical nationalism which could lead to democracy. In North Africa, the Algerian sttruggle for independence, in Indonesia, a peasant based party revolting against Suharto and in ME, Nasser, the new-Hitler of Egypt overthrowing imperial forces leading to independence. A coup in Iraq overthrew British backed government and it was feared that Kuwait and Saudi would follow the same path. Israel helped in supressing the nationalist movement in Jordan and US recognised it’s importance as an ally to thwart Arab nationalism and to hold Persian Gulf oil by force. The threat of independent Arab nationalism was destroyed for ever by thwarting Nasser in 1967 war. Israel also aided by deterring Syrian intervention to protect Palestinians who were being massacred in Jordan. Thus US aid to Israel quadrupled. The tacit alliance of Israel- Iran- Saudi helped US root its power in the ME. In 1979, when Shah fell, Israel-Turkey alliance invited Saddam to join them.
In 1971, Anwar Sadat of Egypt offered peace treaty with Israel in return for complete withdrawal of Israel from its occupied territories. Israel chose confrontation with US aid, not on the grounds of security but on the basis of further expansion. Inhabitants were brutally expelled from Sinai for an all- Jewish city of Yamit. Egypt waged a war in 1973, a near disaster for Israel. Kissinger launched his shuttle diplomacy In Camp David settlement of 1978-79. US and Israel accepted his 1971 offer, but by then Sadat included Palestinian rights too in the peace offer.
Now, Israel moved on to occupt Lebanon by a 1978 and 1982 war, that left many thousands dead. Many pretexts for the planned attack on 1982 failed, and finally the attempted assassination of Israel ambassador in London by Abu Nidal was used as a pretext. The Sabra- Shatila refugee camp was attacked in Beirut killing 200 people. US vetoed attempts to end the war in UN. The war continued for 18 years. The aim of Israel was to weaken PLO and set back its struggle for a Palestinian state. US supported the reason too, by the PR machinery announcing the continous rocket attacks killing innocent Israelis as the reason. An exception, an article by NYT correspondent, James Bennet, who clearly wrote the aim as to destroy Arafat and install a friendly regime in PLO, that would help persuade Palestinians to live under occupation. It is also a textbook description of massive international terrorism tracing back to Washington which provides the economic, military and diplomatic support for Israel’s atrocities. US has continously been vetoing the the two state solution in UN.
Camp David 2 follwed in 2000. US- israeli rejectionism runs through this too. Conventional belief is that Clinton- Barak Yehuda team offered a magnanimous deal rejected by the Palestinians. The map of the deal shows a vrtually divided West Bank into three cantons separated with two Jewish settlements in between, limited access to East Jerusalem, the heart of Palestininan life and an all separated Gaza. The Israeli negotiator, Shlomo Ben- Ami, a dove, outlined the goal of Oslo Peace Process( Yasser Arafat- Rabin, Perez- Clinton in 1993/ The wordings made it clear that there should be a mandate for continuing Israeli settlement process)- to establish a neocolonial dependency for the Palestinians. The same was done in Camp David too. The South African model of Bantustans is being followed until now. Camp David 2 failure led to negotiations at Taba, Egypt in 2001 which also failed due to territorial problems. A territorial divide on 1967 borders with one to one land swap would have solved the problem, something blocked by US and Israel since the beginning. Bush 2- Sharon years were notable for absence of diplomatic solutions and continued settlement expansion with US back up. 42% of West Bank is now under Israeli occupation. Two expanded settlements separate the northern and southern WB from each other and from East Jerusalem and Gaza completely. The humanitarian effect on Palestinians are obstacles, patrols, barricades, prohibitions, isolation, compromising their ability to lead normal lives and impoverishing an entire national community. While there is forceful enforcement of the conditions of peace process on Palestinians, there is nothing like that on the Israelis. US is not stringent on the Israel responbilites on the roadmap, it specifies clauses and conditions on Israel on US subsidy like slashing public sector jobs, wages and lower taxes, favoring businesses and thus enforcing the neoliberal conditions on Israel.
By constructing a wall separating West Bank, ostensibly for security of Israelis, it has annexed agricultural lands(10%) and aquifers from Palestinian side to Israel. The winding path of the wall is designed to encircle parts of Palestinian lands(42% or less) and incorporate it to Israel. In December 2000, Bush administration vetoed an UN resolution advanced by EU, to reduce violence in Palestine by dispatching international monitors, something Israel strongly objects. 10 days before that US boycotted a Geneva conference to revive the situation in occupied territories according to which the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Conventions would constitute US- Israeli actions as war crimes under US law. The conference condemned US-Israeli settlements and the wilful killing, torture, deportation, depriving fair trial and destruction and appropriation of property. By not attending, US succesfully issued a double veto- blocked decisions and the barely reported events being erased from history. The Fourth Geneva Convention, instituted to criminalize Nazi crimes in occupied Europe is the core principle of international humanitarian law. It is clearly applicable to Israeli occupation. Resolutions from UN has adopted the US- backed occupations as flagrant violations of the convention. US and Europe as High Contracting Parties should make sure that other countries and themselves are obligated by solemn treaty to prosecute those responsible for the crimes, but by rejecting their duties US is perpetuationg terror by abstaining from UN during the Clinton years and undermining the resolutions during the Bush 2 years.
The Bush administration endorsed the violent repression by permitting Sharon to continue his offensive during 2002, levelling the Jenin refugee camps, smashing the old city of Nablus, destroying the infrastructure of Ramallah. For the first time, Bush 2 administration opposed the UN resolution opposing annexation of Jerusalem. He also voted against a UN resolution calling for pause in the deteriorating relation between Israel and Palestine, thus continuing to sustain violence and repression. He declared the archterrorist Sharon, “a man of peace” and demanded that Arafat be replaced by a pliable Palestinian leader without popular following. So much for his vision of “democracy”. In a 2003 speech to a far Right American Institute he obliquely remarked that the settlement might end once peace is achieved( unilaterally as per US decisions and terms), an implicit remark to continue settlement, and a reversal of official US policy that settlement is illegal. All these endorsements escaped mentions by the press.
During the first anniversary of 9/11 Bush approved 200 million dollars of aid to the rich Israel, rejecting the 130 million dollar aid to Afghanistan. The UK Foreign Secretary at the time was worried about the ME issues, Saddam and insecurity of Israel. The insecurity of Palestine was not even worthy of mention. The undermining of diplomatic peace porcess is justified on the basis of Palestinian terror against Israeli civilian, which did increase after they had been continually battered by the US and Israel. Israel has always had a culture of using power over peace, despite it’s sacrosanct ethos of aspiring to peace. The instituitionalization of power guided by a military culture intervening by threat or force in politics, using fear mongerng tactics to create anxiety of public and distracting them from domestic issues is a formula enacted by the founding father David Ben Gurion, something familiar in many fascist, proto fascist governments. The IDF is notorious for extreme violence, sometimes disregarding the elected civilian government as was clear during the months of Intifada. The ratio of Palestinians killed is almost 20 times to those of Israelis. US provided bulldozers raze the buildings, houses, fields and olive groves with utter abandon. The resistance from Palestine mostly boil down to stone throwing and rocket firing while the IDF uses US provided highly advanced weapons against them. US provided military helecopters fired at civilians unrestricted, again something that went unreported in US press. Bulldoing and using earthmowers fitted on tanks were used by US in 1991 Gulf war, while they bulldozed live Iraqi soldiers into trenches and killed them. Most were hapless victims of Saddam, the Shiites and Kurds hiding in sand holes or fleeing for their lives. This also was not reported by the press.
These slaughters, an overwhelming show of disparity of force, borders on perversive. Another one is the much lauded object lesson in airpower( recorded in US Airforce study) to all Communists especially to North Korean Communists during the Korean war of 1953. No targets left in a flattened country, the AirForce bombed and destroyed the irrigation dams providing water to 75% of the rice cultivation. The westerners would never understand this means starvation and slow death of people where rice is a staple diet. Such crimes constituted the ones receiving death sentences in Nuremberg trial. Examples of powerful states inflicting wrath upon the powerless and subjugated are many. British atrocities on Indians, and Britain’s repression of Kenyan colonial revolt are two examples. The ferocity and cruelty of the settler forces and IDF ordering collective punishment in Intifada 2 in 2000 forced the Palestinians to strike back. During Intifada 1 the population was terrorized, crushed, beaten, tortured, but they did not strike back. Many have pointed out the dangers to Israeli society by the IDF’s actions, when two thirds of the men in the army internalize the principle of Moshe Dayan that the task of the army is not just to defend the state, but to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are like dogs, or they are Araboushim(A highly offensive and inflammatory Hebrew term of ethnic bigotry and hatred for Palestinians and other Arabs which is widely used by Israeli Zionists.) living in terrotories promised to the Jews by God. After the second Intifada, the ratio of palestinians to Israelis killed shifted from 20:1 to 3:1. The US was naturally concerned now at the outrageous attacks on their innocent clients, not shown when innocent Palestinians were being mowed, a selective vision with deep roots in the history and culture of conquerors.
Terrorism and Justice:Truisms
The two truisms, actions should be evaluated based on consequences and the same standards must apply for all parties(principle of universality) remain just that, truisms, when it comes to US actions. The defenition of terrorism in US is obscure in the sense that it is the same definition of counterterrorism in the name of war on terror. The revised definitions did nothing to differentiate the two, one of crucial problems. US is not alone in this, all states call their own terrorism as counterterror. Even the Nazi counterterrorism in occupied Europe was claimed to defend the legitimate population and governments from London- funded partisans. The US military modelled its counterterrorism from Nazi manuals analyzed sympathetically with the help of Wehrmacht officers.
By definition US becomes a terrorist state. It’s disregard for the international instituitions and actions in other countries prove this. Defenitions of terrorism get even more complicated when distinguishing between international terrorism and agression and terrorism and resistance. Charter of UN, legitimize actions if resistance is being used for right to self determination, freedom and independence of people deprived of these esp. people under colonial, racist regimes or foreign occupation. US and Israel vetoed, Honduras ( since the phrase colonial, racist regimes would imply their ally South Africa) abstained from the 1987 resolution. US and Israel would definitely not condone the resistance of ANC under Mandela (designated a terrorist group by US ). The term foreign occupation was implying Israel. so that was another reason. US and Israel were the only countries that called this terrorism and not resistance at the time. US designated the term terrorist to Hezbollah because it resisted the Israel occupation of Lebanon and to South Vietnam and Iraq because they resisted US agression.
The sharp disparities of what constitue terrorism for US and Israel and the rest of the world is apparent in historical and documentary records and marginalized critical literature. Latin America was a victim of US counterterrorism from the 1960 s. The LA military was trained to shift from Hemispheric defense to internal security during the Kennedy administration in 1962 by tolerating their military atrocities, complicity and support. Rather than external defense, regular armies were made death squads against perceived and assumed communist revolutionaries who practically included anyone who resisted the regime and military. In 1962, Kennedy sent Special Force Mission to Columbia for this purpose. The National Security aim of army reached Central America, El SALVADOR during the 1980 s. Whenever direct military aid to the army was hampered by human rights isssues as in Guatemala, surrogates took the charge.
The first war on terror declared by Reagan in 1980 s is described by academic specialists as counterterrorism efforts of resistance of US against state sponsored terrorists like Libya, Central America and Iran. US merely responed with a proactive stance to terrorism. The villainy of Vietcong, Nicaraguans, Iranians, Libyans against the US, presents a picture of US as victim. US supported Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1982, 1993 and 1996. The car bomb outside a mosque in Beirut that killed 80 people was traced back to CIA and British intelligence. Shimon Perez’s bombing of Tunis killing 75 people was US supported. The calculated brutality and arbitrary murder of Lebanese villagers by Perez was US supported. All these fall within the category of state supported international terrorism. But none of this entered the canon of terrorism or press because of wrong- agent fallacy.
The year 1985 is considered peak year of ME terrorism not because of the above atrocities, but two terrorist attacks where two Americans were killed. The Sharon offensive of 2002 on Palestinians when many were killed, buildings buldozed, cultural centres and educational institutions crushed, people maimed, were not terrorism but defense according to US press and administration. The careful disappearance of facts by the press which presented the US version of events made it hard for the public to pursue the truth in these cases. Similar to Israel, Turkish repression of Kurds was praised by US as efforts to counter terrorism , while Turkey had been receiving the means for opression from US the one sponsoring state terrorism. For US and it’s client states the definition of terrorim differs considerably than for other states.
The bombing of Afghanistan was hailed as a ‘just-cause war’ for regime change. An international gallup poll before the bombing showed diplomatic/ judicial methods as preferrable to military action. There was considerable opposition to military action, but the poll was never reported in the US media. At that time US did not know the people behind 9/11 as it made clear 8 months after the war. Eight months after the war US announced who it thought was behind 9/11- Al Qaeda operating from Afghanistan, planned and financed in Germany and UAE. There was no definite proof still. The Bush administration bombed Afghanistan based on mere suspicions. Thus it should come under warcrimes as the bombing was not based on any actual proof, the majority of the world did not support, those who supported did so based on presupposition that US and UK knew the perpetrators well. It was a clearcut example of international terrorism by a powerful state, exactly a kind of jihad by US. The bombing, supposedly against the Taliban regime, ended up destroying the country and killed many innocents and was condemned by all Afghani leaders, religious scholars, tribal elders and also by Abdul Haq, the Afghan opposition leader highly regarded in US and AFGHANISTAN. Even in countries like India and Israel who supported military action ( for parochial reasons), a considerable majority had opposed the bombing. The hawks in US reported that the war had considerable support from a majority except some isolationist, pacifist, lunatic fringe.
The reason given by the US for bombing Afghanistan was that the Taliban reluctance to extradite the 9/11 suspects. But the US did not give any evidence to the Taliban. Contrarily, Haitian requests to extradite Emmanuel Constant , the paramilitary leader responsible for murder of thousands of civilians in the 1990 s with the support of Clinton and Bush were not even given notice in the US. The fact was that US was afraid that he would testify of the connections of US and the state terrorists. The question arises if Haiti was entitled to bomb US based on just- cause war principle. Washingtons( Bush’s) doctrine that if a country, harbours, abets , or aids terrorists, they would be terrorist too and hence bombed to earth could be applied reciprocally to US as a justified and properly calibrated response . Massive bombing of a country in which a suspected terrorist/ terrorists are being hidden cannot form a just- cause war by any means of moral/ ethical or political standards. The hollow legal claims of US commentators justifying the war as the right to self defense against those who attack or threaten one’s country could be applied by Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti or any other country who had been victims of US interventions. Another legal support from an international law expert goes like this- “a state is responsible for the consequences of permitting its territories to be used to injure another state”. This law definitely holds good for Cuba, Nicaragua and many others to justify bombing US in retaliation.
In 1998, Clinton dispatched missile attacks on al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan believed to produce chemical weapons. Many people died, there were many further deaths from starvation due to the postponement of crucial relief efforts for 2.4 million people. A mere suspicion of a pharmacy resulted in massive and dire consequences to the people of Sudan, which the US justified as unintended and absolved themselves of culpability. With such appalling consequences, Sudan is also entitled to a retaliatory strike. The callousness by Clinton and his administration despite knowing that they were destroying a major source of pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines in Sudan could be viewed under the Hegelian doctrine, Africans being considered mere things with no value of life. One commentator described the 9/11 as by agressors with moral orthodoxy divergent from the West. If so, what sort of moral orthodoxy should be ascribed to the West?
The 9/11 attacks were not entirely unexpected. It is doubtful that the attacks sharply changed the course of history. Even from the 80’s the war on terror was slated to continue and prospects of major terrorist attacks were publicly dscussed . In 1993, a near WTC attack almost happened that was thwarted on time. Even after 9/11 the risk assessments of future attacks did not change substantially. And US definitely had ideas of the radical Islamic terrorism at least from the 1980 s when elements that formed the later Al Qaeda assassinated Sadat of Egypt or a loosely related group that drove US forces out of Beirut, killing troops and civilians. These groups were well understood by the US as they had long been trained, recruited and armed by the CIA for their own purposes(from 1980 s) and continued to work with them even while they were attacking US. A Dutch enquiry into Srebrenica massacre revealed that while the CIA -trained terrorist networks, Mujahidins, were being flown from Afghanistan to Bosnia along with the Iranian Hezbollah fighters and arms by the US, to support the US side of Balkan wars, radical Islamists were planning to attack WTC in1993. Israel, Ukraine and Greece supplied Serbs with US provided arms. The 9/11 just served to topple the assumption that only the rich and powerful had monopoly to international terrorism.
The tendencies in global affairs that have been expected to enhance terrorist threats include neoliberal globalization causing financial volatility, deepening economic stagnation harming the poor more, political instability, and cultural alienation fostering ethnic, ideological and religious extremism. Most of the hatred will be towards US and its policies. To reduce the threat of terror, the terrorist networks should be distinguished from the reservoir from which they draw members, i.e, the poor and oppressed. The poor receives the double whammy from the rich and powerful as well as from the terrorists. Unless the sociopolitical and economic conditions that spawned Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are addressed, US and its western allies will be targeted. Only way is to reduce the pathology of hatred, moderating conditions that breed violence and to wean away the support base by eliminating policies that are a huge recruiting device to terrorists. Might can destroy the terrorists, but the support base could be eroded only by just policies. Even destruction of terrorists will do little unless the underlying conditions that facilitated the groups emergence like political oppression and economic marginalisation are addressed. US support for tyranical regimes has to end as it supports Muslim oppression .
Violence begets more violence. As wars like the one in Iraq, continues, new terrorist jihadis will spawn. As predicted by many observers, the Iraq war catalyzed the recruitment in Al Qaeda and new terrorist groups, there was rise in radical fundamentalism all over the world. This is the greatest setback of war on terror, a terrorist safe haven has been created in Iraq itself. The goals of the terrorists are to drive the infidels out of Muslim lands, overthrow corrupt and brutal governments imposed and sustained by the infidels and to institute an extremist version of Islam. America has been singled out by the groups, according to Laden in 1998, “when it sent its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques, and its support for oppressive, corrupt, tyrranical regimes”. Delicate social and political problems can’t be bombed and missiled out of existence, but should be addressed.
Two specific issues that inspired hatred against US policies among Muslims were the Israeli Palestinian conflict and US sancions on Iraq along with their support for corrupt governments and autocrats thus denying democracy in the Arab land. The non wealthy Muslims also resent that the wealth from the resources of their countries are being divvied up by the West and the moneyed Arabs, instead of using for their domestic purposes. Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise not just among the poor but among the educated and privileged classes too.
A Passing Nightmare
Before the dust had settled from WTC during 9/11, Republicans professed their aim to use terrorism as an excuse to pursue radical right wing agenda. Staring into the abyss of future was the public, those at the centre of power and privilige were pursuing agendas that ultimately benefited them, using the fear and anxiety of the moment to deepen the abyss. Many others joned the US in the war on terror, Russia eager to oppress the Chechnyans, China the Uighurs and Israel the Palestinians. The threat of terrorism is not the only abyss into which we peer, another one is the nuclear threat which the US and other nuclear states make sure to grow. Clinton’s Strategic Command described nuclear weapons as the most useful in the arsenal. It is the same vision as Nixon’s famous madman theory which he and Kissinger applied during the 1969 nuclear alert that could have gone wrong. The STRATCOM further manintained the right to first use of nuclear power even against those without nuclear weapons, those who have signed the Non Proliferation Treaty. They also adviced to continue to maintain the launch on warning posture for nuclear missiles on hair trigger alert. These were proposals adopted by Clinton. This document is available for the public, but they never knew that, despite the fact that US is unique in allowing the public access to high level planning documents.
Another major nuclear threat was the poorly stored and maintained nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, almost 40,000 of them. They might end up in the hands of wrong people as loose nukes or might be deployed carelessly. The Bush administration cut off a programme to safeguard these nukes and provide alternate employment to the nuclear scientists there. US nuclear proliferation has ripple effects on other nuclear weapon holding countries. Bizarre policies include, Bush administration maintaining that it has no objection in China continuing the nuclear missile proliferation, to gain its acquiescence in dismantling the arms control agreements. Clinton encouraged Russia to adopt a launch on warning strategy, something that might go wrong as the alert systems in Russia has many holes. The grave proliferation risks and threats of accidental or unauthorized strikes are growing . Thousands of nuclear scientists in Russia are mainly unemployed increasing the risk of them accepting lucrative offers for the secret weapon programmes from other countries.
Thus the post 9/11 strategies ignored measures to alleviate the threat of military confrontation and inturn increased proliferation in US thus inviting the adversaries to breed their own proliferation. Bush called for programmes for offensive use of nuclear warheads than as a deterrent. He lowered the nuclear threshold and broke down the firewall separating nuclear weapons from other conventional weapons. Militarization of space was monoplolized . During the Cold War, opportunities to reduce the nuclear proliferation was squandered by the US consistently. ICBM, a potential threat then, was possessed by the US and not by Russia. So Russia could have signed a treaty banning them, but US took no interest. Russian archives show that it’s proposal to unify east and west Germany to reduce East- West tensions and improve economy of Russia, were flatly ignored by US in 1952. Krushchev called for mutual reduction in offensive military forces, Eisenhover ignored this, but Krushchev implemented the reductions unilaterally still, against his military command to concentrate on economic growth. Instead US went on with massive nuclear and military build up thus driving the last nail on the coffin of Krushchev’s agenda for controlling the Soviet military. Soviet Union began seriously building up nuclear weapons after this. Had the US not ignored their request for treaty, Krushchev’s revisionism could have improved the economy of Russia and expedited Gorbachev’s social and economic reforms.
The controversial weapon programmes have been called defense against possible attacks. Missile defense is a moniker for comprehensive space monopolization for offensive military programmes. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative programmes was an effort to disarm BMD opponents,an antinuclear popular movement by stealing their language of peace and disarmament while advancing offensive military system. It was in clear violation of Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty signed in 1972. BMD is actually not about defense, but for offense. Absolute ownership of space allows US to launch nuclear or non nuclear hypersonic missiles on a perceived threat without warning and before the victim country could even activate its defense. This gives the US hegemony on an unprecedented scale. US remains the only country refusing to sign the treaty on banning militarization of space. Biological and chemical weapons development also has proceeded unimpeded, the US refusing to sign treaties or participate in international conferences. The protection of commercial interests of drug and chemical companies is a reason too here. Just like many industrial establishments develop and prosper in defense and military programmes. Many like Kyoto protocol were undermined as it would harm US economy.
One positive development is the evolution of human rights cuture accelerated in the 1960 s. Solidarity movement development in the 1980 s like the one concerning Central America are notable and unprecedented. The solidarity movements have been exposed to the wrath of repressive states , putting their lives at risk even. Rachel Aliene Corrie was an American activist and diarist. A member of the pro-Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement, she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer ..The killing of an US citizen by US clients using US provided weapons was not considered worthy of inquiry. Global Justice Movements are also large in scale and entirely new. Thus the planet’s “second superpower”, the masses could no longer be ignored. The gains in human rights were not gifts of enlightened leaders but imposed on states by popular protests. The harmful effects of corporate globalization have led to mass popular protests and activism in the South which slowly reached the rich industrialized countries thus linking and unifying them., making concrete alliances at grassroots level. Effects are in the form of restrain in state terrorism, policy and rhetorical changes. The momentum should be sustained to deepen the global bonds of sympathy and solidarity.
So there are two trajectories in current history- one aiming towards hegemony, acting rationally within a lunatic doctrinal framework which threatens survival and the other challenging the reigning ideological system and seeking alternatives of thought , action and institutions.
Bertrand Russel once expressed somber thoughts on peace:
“After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans and Hitlers. This however, I believe, is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peacce will return“
Discontent with US policies intensified after 2002. The war increased the threat of terror and revived the appeal of global Islamist Jihad. Iraq became a terrorist haven. Suicide attacks increased globally. WMD proliferation increased considerably and worrisomely. In 2003, Madrid train bombings killed 200 people, in Europe’s worst terrorist crime. Spanish electorate voted out the government who had gone to war despite popular opposition.
Al Qaeda, a loose array of radical Islamists, for whom Bin Laden was hardly more than a symbol was able to recruit feverishly . It was not well known before 1998, when Clinton bombed Sudan and Afghanistan. This created closer ties between Laden, who was a symbol and Taliban and led to a sharp increase in support, financing and recruitment. Bush’s bombing of Afghanistan in 2002 led to futher growth of Al Qarda and the prominence of Laden. His message spread around the world and recruited many angry young people in a battle between good and eveil, a vision shared by Bush. Every use of force is a victory for Laden, whether dead or alive.
Russia carried out its largest military exercise exhibiting advance WMD in 2004, in response to the development of “bunker busters” by US clearly designed to target the Russian high level nuclear command bunkers that control its nuclear arsenal. Russia was also starting to duplicate hypersonic cruise missiles that would attack from space without warning, something designed by the US to reduce reliance on overseas bases and negotiated access to air routes. Russian military expenditures tripled during Bush- Putin time. Russia adopted the preemptive strike doctrine and warned that it would use the military if the access to places considered vital for its survival is limited.
Flaws might happen in automated response systems leading to nuclear launch. Pentagon had found flaws in it’s computer systems that could allow terrorist hackers to seize control and simulate a launch. Moreover US presidents have been systematically misinformed, just like the one with Iraq, about effects of nuclear war due to lack of oversight by insulated beureaucracies resulting in institutional myopia that can be catastrophic. Though the missile defense systems by the US is thought to be for deterrence, both US planners and potential targets are aware that its main purpose is offensive .
In 2003 US moved to terminate a ban in biowarfare and militarization of space. In 2003, at UN general assembly US along with India voted against steps towards elimnation of nuclear weapons. It voted along with Israel and Micronesia against steps to prevent nuclear proliferation in ME, a pretext for Iraq invasion. Colin Powell explained the NSS(National Security Strategy) in WEF like this- “Washington has the right to use force to defend ourselves from nations that possess WMD and cooperate with terrorists”. Later Bush lowered the bar further, removed the ‘cooperate with terrorists ‘ part and appraised the intent to use force if countries have the intent and ability to possess WMD, that is all the rest of the nations. Powell justified Iraq attack after it was known that the WMD story was cooked up, by explaining that Iraq had the intent and ability to make WMD and had used this against Iran and his own people, actually something done with US help. All these contrived pretexts collapsed on the face of the original reason for Iraq invasion, to secure a military base at the heart of the world’s major energy resources. And this aim has been the only reason and the plan to attack has been much before 9/11 from 1981 at least.
US moved to undermine the democratic government in Haiti by Jean Bertrand Aristide elected in 1990 democratically by the Haitian people against the US backed candidate. He was overthrown a few months later by a military coup by Bush 1. Bush 1 and Clinton supported the military junta and its wealthy patrons. Clinton allowed the president to return but on a crucial condition that he adopt the neoliberal policy of his opponent. Economy was taken over by foreign banks and businesses. Economic sovereignity was undermined, development restricted, political democracy became a shadow, country went to chaos and violence while Bush had already banned international aid before. What the US call “restoring democracy”. It was these kind of enforced economic programmes that created the third world, the imperial powers resorting to the state to protect the rich from market disciplines . The same principle is being followed still.In an election in El SALVADOR, Bush warned that if the democratic process did not come out the right way (by choosing the US supported candidate), the country’s lifeline, remittances from the US would be cut among other consequences.
Iraqis knew this kind of enforced rules better, Iraq was created by the British, the boundaries drawn by them, to ensure that Britain and not Turkey will get control of its resources of the north and Iraq was barred from sea by the US colony of Kuwait. Everything is there in classified British documents, of how an Arab facade was created to rule behind constitutional fictions. The large military and diplomatic presence in Iraq even after US handed over the power to Iraqis is proof enough that the aim was not democratization. The economy was opened for foreign take over.