THE US ADDICTION TO WAR, MAYHEM AND MADNESS
The US-led aggression in the Middle East and the three failed attempts to oust
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez since 2002 (with a fourth now planned and likely to
be implemented soon) are just the latest examples of this country's imperial
agenda and the "new world order" it has in mind. The way this country
now engages throughout the world isn't much different than what it's done close
to home and worldwide since inception. Only the venues chosen, the scope of
our aims, and the extent of our power have changed. This article in two parts
gives some historical perspective and then concentrates on the imperial grand
strategy of the Bush administration under which regime change is a central element.
In Part II, the focus is on the war in Iraq as a case study of imperial madness
and its consequences. It also covers a possible little discussed economic motive
behind what's now being called "the long war."
Maybe it's something in the air or water around the Capitol that makes it happen
- causing the men and women elected or appointed to high office to do bad things.
It may in part be going along to get along for some of them. But mostly it's
the dangerous and deadly sickness or syndrome of power corrupting and absolute
power doing it absolutely. That's bad enough, but when it happens to rulers
of a superpower and those in league with them, it can inflict immeasurable harm
and human suffering. In cost/benefit analysis terms: what serves the interests
of a superstate comes at the expense of the public welfare.
The US Has Always Been A Warrior, Imperial Nation
There's no longer a dispute that the US pursues an imperial agenda. What once
was hidden behind a politically correct facade and would never be admitted publicly
is now seen as something respectable and even an obligation to advance "western
civilization." How low we've sunk in coming so far. But how different is
today from the past? Not much for those who know the country's true history
that's quite different from the proper and polite version of it taught in school
at all levels. Expansionism and militarism have always been in our DNA since
the early settlers first confronted the nation's original inhabitants and then
over the next few hundred years slaughtered about 18 million of them to seize
their land and resources. We may even have put language in our sacred Declaration
of Independence to give us a birthright to do it. In it we called our native
people "merciless indian savages," and with that kind of framing gave
ourselves a moral justification to remove them. It's a code based on the notion
of might makes right and what we say goes. It didn't matter that our original
inhabitants lived mostly in peace for 20-30,000 years on the lands we took from
them. There also was no concern that the native peoples treated the early settlers
graciously, helping them survive through the early years of struggle and hard
adjustment. We showed our gratitude with hostility, open warfare and genocidal
extermination. It never ended and continues in less conspicuous ways today as
the current unstated national policy is to eliminate native cultures through
assimilation into our own. It's hardly a testimony to the benefits of "western
civilization" Gandhi thought would be a good idea when asked what he thought
Our belligerence wasn't just directed against the indian nations as we always
were apparently willing to pick a fight. It's hard to believe that this country
since inception has been at war with one or more adversaries every year without
exception to this day. That's in addition to all other attempts to destabilize
or overthrow governments of nations whenever their leaders weren't willing to
sacrifice their national interest in service to ours. Imperialists don't ever
tolerate that, especially one that happens to be an unchallengeable superpower.
But long before we gained that status, we pursued a land-grab policy throughout
the 19th century to expand the new nation from "sea to shining sea"
including taking the half of Mexico we wanted along the way. It's surprising
we didn't take all or most of Canada as well and nearly did twice in the past:
during the War of 1812 with the British when our interest was more on expansion
than the British impressment of our seamen and again in 1920 when we eyed Canada
for the same reason we're waging two wars today - O-I-L. Only fate may have
prevented it from happening. A few cooler heads also likely prevailed, and our
attention both times got diverted to other "adventures" and priorities.
But despite our tradition of imperial expansion, we stated our aims carefully
and diplomatically and still do. The closest we came early on to an open admission
of our true intent was in code language like "manifest destiny" or
being willing to heed Rudyard Kipling's racist call to ally with Britain, take
up the "White Man's Burden," and engage in "savage wars"
to bring civilization to dark-skinned people in countries like The Philippines
we decided didn't have any. So in our imperial wisdom, we came, stole, and conquered
"for their own good" and in the process left lots of bodies around
to prove our good intentions.
Theodore Roosevelt welcomed Kipling's call, publicly supported an expansionist
foreign policy before he became president and during most of his time in office.
He wanted colonies to make over in our own image and was willing to go to war
for it if that's what it took to do it. He won a Nobel Peace prize for his efforts
and was the only US president to get one until Jimmy Carter (another dubious
man of peace) received the award in 2002. While president, TR's foreign policy
was to solidify the country's world position it gained from the Spanish-American
war during which and after he had a hand in extending the US empire to The Philippines,
Cuba, Haiti, Guam, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Canal Zone area
part of Colombia that broke away to become the new nation of Panama. Building
the canal there across its isthmus fulfilled TR's dream to link the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans even though it took devious tactics to arrange the deal,
manage to begin construction during his time in office, and finally see it completed
about four and a half years before he died. TR also ironically allowed the number
of US possessions to shrink during his second term in office - maybe out of
guilt over what he did in his first four years and earlier.
Woodrow Wilson was another of the "noted" presidents we now revere
as one of our greatest who came to office with noble promises of wanting to
reform national politics and have an enlightened presidency only to fall far
short. While proclaiming all nations had the right of self-determination, he
believed that America had a duty to see they all had the kind we practiced even
if we had to bring it to them at the point of a gun. The result during his tenure
was the military occupation of Nicaragua, Haiti (beginning 20 oppressive years)
and the Dominican Republic. He also had his problems with Mexico and did what
any good US president would do. He sent in the Marines to invade the country,
seize and occupy Veracruz, the country's main seaport, manage to resolve that
dispute and then do it again with Army regulars under General John Pershing
(the Dwight Eisenhower of WW I in charge of the American Expeditionary Force
sent to Europe) to hunt down Pancho Villa as payback for Villa's cross-border
incursion into the US killing 19 Americans. Pershing didn't find him but nearly
began a full-scale war with Mexico trying before Wilson decided the whole adventure
was a bad idea and called it off.
But all this was prologue to what Wilson wanted most while claiming otherwise
- getting the US into WW I to further our undeclared imperial ambitions. In
1916 Wilson was reelected on a platform promise of: "He Kept Us Out of
War" - referring to the one raging in Europe since 1914. Of course, he
had to promise that as the US public overwhelmingly wanted nothing to do with
it. But he no sooner was reelected than he began making plans to get into it.
He established the Committee on Public Information under George Creel which
was able to turn a pacifist nation into raging German haters resulting in the
Congress overwhelmingly declaring war on Germany in April, 1917. Once in the
war, he managed to control most public anti-war sentiment with the help of the
outrageous Espionage and Sedition Acts that outlawed criticism of the government,
the armed forces or the war effort, imprisoned or fined violators and censored
or banned publications daring to publish what the Wilson administration wanted
suppressed. It all has a familiar ring to it.
After the war, Wilson failed to create the new world order he had in mind.
The vengeful Treaty of Versailles set the stage for the greater conflict to
follow in 20 years, and Wilson left office a defeated, broken and very ill man.
Despite it all, we hail him as one of our greatest presidents, even though with
an honest assessment it's clear he fell far short. It's also clear there's a
thin line between the ones we call our best and those we rate our worst. It
hardly matters as the only qualification for the job is to faithfully pursue
the interests of the power brokers who get to choose the ones they think will
serve them best. It was true for Theodore Roosevelt, his younger cousin Franklin
(who had a little Great Depression to deal with and had to give some to save
capitalism), Woodrow Wilson and the current undistinguished incumbent in Washington.
At the heart of those interests is the pursuit of wealth and power and a system
of governance beholden to capital, now more than ever dominated by giant predatory
corporations that control and decide everything - who governs and how, who serves
on our courts, what laws are enacted and even whether wars are fought, against
whom and for what purpose. It's for the profit, of course, because wars are
good for business, which is why we wage so many of them. Corporations have to
keep growing. They're mandated by law to do it to maximize shareholder value
for their owners, and the only way they can is by increasing profits. They do
it by growing sales, keeping costs low, expanding their market share when possible
and always seeking new opportunities globally for their products and services.
It doesn't matter how they get them as long as they do, and the surest way when
others fail is through strong-arm imperialism. The easy kinds through favorable
(one-way) trade agreements or other market-opening arrangements are always preferred.
But if those methods fall short, the alternative is direct confrontation or
all out aggressive war. When it happens, corporations are the winners as long
as the adventure doesn't harm the economy. It usually harms the public interest
asked to sacrifice butter for guns and their civil liberties in the name of
greater security (never gotten), and then having to pick up the tab.
It's part of the same dirty business Senator Henry Cabot Lodge noted in his
1885 unguarded moment comment that "commerce follows the flag." Today
it's more true that the flag goes where commerce directs it to secure new markets
and a corporate friendly environment once they've been opened for business.
That's how imperialism works and why war is an effective geopolitical way to
pursue it. War, of course, is just geopolitics by other means, and powerful
capital-controlled countries like the US use it freely because it works so well
most often. The great political economist Harry Magdoff wrote of it this way
in his Age of Imperialism in 1969: "Imperialism is not a matter of choice
for a capitalist society; it is a way of life of such a society." He also
knew the only way our system can work is through repression, institutionalized
inequality and militarism all camouflaged in the deceit of serving the public
interest. Magdoff knew those elements are in the DNA of our capital-controlled
society that thrives and prospers best by pursuing a global predatory policy
that assures continued economic growth at the macro level, geopolitical control,
and greater wealth for the rich and powerful at the expense of all others.
Our tradition of imperialism began at the republic's birth, but until the end
of the "cold war" wasn't discussed in polite society or acknowledged
publicly. But that changed in the 1990s, and now it's seen as something respectable,
a matter of national pride and contributing to the advance of civilization.
It shows in our new language that portrays us as agents of a humanitarian mission
(a benign Pax Americana or modern "white man's burden") still hiding
the cold reality that what we're really up to is keeping the world safe and
profitable for corporate America. Those on its receiving end need no explanation,
but the public at home does as it harms them too. They must be convinced that
what's good for business also serves them, but it's never stated in those terms.
It's always sold at home as an effort to achieve national security, make the
world safe for democracy, or bring our form of rule to other parts of the world
we decided need our version of it. It doesn't matter if it's true or not, just
that we say it is and can convince people to believe it. Based on our track
record, that's not a problem as time and again the public is willing to swallow
most any reasons government officials tell them (reinforced, of course, by the
corporate media trumpeting them like gospel) to get them to go along with the
schemes they have in mind, no matter how outrageous they are. They're never
told the truth because it's so unpalatable it's has to be suppressed, especially
in time of war when it's the first casualty.
The Second Great War to End All Wars Changed Everything
The US emerged from WW II as the only dominant nation "left standing."
We became the world's leading and unchallengeable economic, political and military
superpower almost like we planned it that way, which we did. We decided while
the war was still ongoing to take full advantage of our new post-war status
once it was clear what the outcome would be - to dominate all other nations,
have them serve our interests, and do it either through cooperation or by force
of one kind or other. With our allied global North partners we've done it through
political and military alliances as well as trade and other economic agreements
and incentives where we have to give enough to developed nations to get more
back in return if we do it right. With the developing world though it's another
story, especially those nations with vital strategic resources like large hydrocarbon
reserves. Our dealings with them are crafted one-way on the basis of all take
and little give in return. For us, it's a sweet deal to serve our dominant capital
interests, but for them it's a pact with the devil - one always made at the
expense of the public welfare everywhere.
The Beginnings Of Our Current Imperial Grand Strategy
One way or another, the US is moving ahead with its plan to rule the world
with little regard for how likely it is to succeed. The Bush administration
makes no pretense about this and has put its plans in writing for anyone to
read and know what it has in mind. Current era thinking goes back at least to
1992 and a Pentagon document written by Paul Wolfowitz, former Bush administration
Deputy Defense Secretary and current World Bank president, and the now-indicted
Richard Cheney aide Lewis Libby. It was an outline of a plan for US world dominance
with no allowable challenge from other nations. At the time, the George H. W.
Bush administration dismissed it as off-the-wall and over-the-top after it was
leaked to the public, but in September, 2000 the neo-conservative think tank
Project for a New American Century (PNAC - established in 1997) revived the
plan and put meat on its bones in a document they called - Rebuilding America's
Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century. Leading PNAC members
are well known and include Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and a rogues
gallery of many other high ranking Bush administration neocon officials.
This document was and still is a grand imperial plan for US global dominance
to extend well into the future to be enforced with unchallengeable military
power. The PNAC plan was a blueprint for the current "war on terror"
(now being rebranded as a war against "Islamic fascism") and "preventive
wars" now raging in Iraq, becoming that in Afghanistan, and planned and
"signed off" for against Iran, likely Syria, and possibly Venezuela
and other targeted states not submissive to US authority. This plan was also
a 21st century update of the Truman Doctrine, conceived by State Department
advisor and analyst George Kennan who was the ideological godfather of "containment"
and the "cold war." Kennan's plan became the first post WW II formulated
strategy for US global military and economic dominance. He did it by creating
the myth that the Soviet Union was a serious threat to our security, and we
had to take preventive action.
The truth was the "Russians were never coming." In fact, they had
their hands full until around 1960 just rebuilding their war-torn nation to
its former state after being devastated by the Nazi Wehrmacht. The public, of
course, never knew the truth, and the leadership was able to convince it to
go along with the big lie through scare tactics. As already explained, it's
an age-old tactic that always seems to work. This time it was to justify a planned
military buildup in peacetime. The myth of a Soviet threat and world communist
conspiracy was used to sell it, and it remained the method of choice until that
nation came apart in 1991 to what are now 15 separate and independent republics.
We then had a brief respite while the first Bush administration desperately
tried to find a new enemy to keep the public off guard and hypotized by the
fear of a "new Hitler" threatening us. Saddam, of course, took the
bait and obliged, and the Gulf war and its aftermath ensued, followed by a dozen
years of brutal and crippling economic sanctions and continued bombing up to
the second Iraq war. Now after nearly 16 years, the US-led reign of terror against
a defenseless nation and its people continues unabated with no end in sight
or plan for it except the apparent intent to foment a full-scale civil war hoping
to divide the country to make it easier to rule. The combination of endless
war, harsh economic sanctions and no serious effort to rebuild or aid the people
has effectively destroyed the most advanced and prosperous nation in the Middle
East. It's also caused extreme suffering, hardship and mass disease, death,
and destruction to millions of Iraqi victims whose only mistake was having been
born in the wrong country at the wrong time. It's a country with the terrible
misfortune of having immense and easily accessible oil reserves that are coveted
by the most powerful nation on earth wanting to control them.
Post 9/11, The Gloves Came Off As Well As Any Pretense of What Our
Present Aims Are
The second war against Iraq became possible after 9/11 and was spelled out
in what may be called the Bush Doctrine. It refers to this administration's
aggressive foreign policies which were framed by George Bush in an address to
the Congress shortly before the attack against and invasion of Afghanistan in
which he stated the US would "make no distinction between 'the terrorists'
who committed these (9/11) acts and those who harbor them." Bush arrogantly
went on to say "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." It didn't matter
that Osama bin Laden was our invention and a former CIA asset against the Soviets
in Afghanistan and again in Bosnia in the 1990s against Slobadan Milosevic and
Serbia in the Balkan wars. The public didn't know it or once did and forgot
so it was easy using him and an ill-defined al-Quaida to scare it to go along
with the schemes we had in mind but needed the power of fear to do it. The ploy
worked as it always does, and now the nation is embroiled in two endless wars
and others in the queue to begin by whatever means the plans are to pursue them
and whenever they're intended to be rolled out.
It's all part of the Bush Doctrine and Messianic mission which also include
the notion of a permanent state of preventive war (now called "the long
war") against those nations and "Islamic fascists" we claim threaten
our national security, whether or not it's so. That notion became the pretext
for the Iraq war, others we have in mind, and our claiming the right to ignore
the inviolable rules and established codes of warfare in the Hague Regulations
and Geneva Conventions going back to the 1850s. This recognized and accepted
body of international law covers what weapons are banned, the treatment of prisoners
including prohibiting torture and mistreatment, and the care of the sick and
wounded. But, by Bush Doctrine standards, those laws are now judged "quaint"
and "obsolete" and no longer apply. From now on, the law is only what
we say it is or make up as we go along despite the fact that all treaties and
conventions we're signatories to are the supreme law of the land. That's a level
of arrogance only an imperial superpower without challengers can get away with,
but it's much easier when a complicit corporate media goes along as cheerleaders
"fixing the facts around the policy." The Bush administration pursues
this policy wantonly and recklessly regardless of who approves or doesn't. It
even writes it down so others can read it and know what we have in mind. It
makes for frightening reading for those who do it.
It's there in the National Security Strategy (NSS) of September, 2002 that
was just updated earlier this year. This plan lays out an "imperial grand
strategy" with more belligerent language than the original version which
was intended to be a declaration of "preventive war" against any nation
or force this administration claims is a threat to our national security. It
doesn't mean it is, just that we say it is. That threat includes any nation
we label "unstable" or a "failed state," a term we use for
nations seen as potential threats to our security which may require our intervention
in self-defense. However, the very notion of what a "failed state"
may be is imprecise at best. It may be its inability to protect its citizens
from violence or destruction. But it may also be a nation that believes it's
beyond the reach of international law and free to act as an aggressor. Under
any of those conditions, the US now claims the right to wage preventive war
in self-defense although in so doing that makes us the kind of "failed
state" we claim the right to protect ourselves from.
Before the NSS was updated in 2006, we had four other important imperial documents.
First was the May, 2000 Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Vision 2020 that outlined
a plan for "full spectrum (or world) dominance." This was code language
or "Militaryspeak" meaning total control over all land, sea, air,
outer space and information with enough overwhelming power to defeat any potential
challenger or adversary even by use of nuclear or any other new weapons we might
develop. Second was the Nuclear Policy Review of December, 2001 that claims
a unilateral right to declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear
weapons that have the potential to destroy all human life on the planet if enough
of them are used. Third was the FY 2004 Air Force Space Command Strategic Master
Plan. This was a plan to "own outer space", weaponize it with the
most advanced, destructive and planet threatening weapons and technology we
have or hope to develop including nuclear ones. It also called for developing
and placing out there unmanned space vehicles to surveille the entire planet
and be able to launch an overwhelming attack against a target country or enemy
force that can't retaliate against us from that vantage point.
The fourth document is the Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review issued
in February. As congressionally mandated, this report is a "comprehensive
examination of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization
plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program
and policies....for the next 20 years." The review covers the military's
main missions of homeland defense - which, if implemented, even by federally
mandating National Guard troops to patrol our southern border as has been done,
will violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that prohibits the military from
acting in a domestic law enforcement capacity unless expressly authorized by
the Constitution or Congress and only in an extreme situation like putting down
an insurrection. Other missions are the so-called "war on terrorism"
which famed author Gore Vidal says is "idiotic...slogans...lies (and as
nonsensical as) a war against dandruff," irregular or asymmetric warfare
(against non-state enemies), and what Pentagonspeak calls "shaping the
choices of countries at a crossroad" which translated means the potential
threat of China as an emerging global power able to challenge our dominance.
The document also unveiled the notion of "the long war" Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld signaled in his February National Press Club appearance when
he said "The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war."
George Bush then announced it in his September 5 speech to an association of
US military officers in which he declared war against "Islamic fascists."
The Pentagon report used the phrase "long war, long global war (or) long
irregular war" 34 times in its Quadrennial Review including as the title
for the first chapter called "Fighting the Long War." The clear message
is that all resisting Muslims and their sympathizers are Islamo-fascists and
must be defeated in a "long war" struggle to preserve and spread "western
civilization." The much clearer message is that post-9/11 the Bush administration
embarked on a messianic bankrupt global racist colonial "war OF terror"
against all nations and peoples everywhere opposing its quest for world dominance.
The bottom line for the Pentagon, backed by administration rhetoric, is to
assure the Congress will go along with the near half-trillion dollar defense
budget for adventurism in the next fiscal year with steady increases in subsequent
years plus the off-budget add-ons for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, others
to come, and any other special funding DOD may ask for. So far, since 9/11,
the Pentagon got a blank check for anything it wants called "national security"
- meaning grand theft from the public to enhance profits for defense-related
industries and the well-connected corporations chosen to rebuild and police
the countries we first destroy so they can then get large, no-bid war-profiteering
contracts. It also means the erosion and eventual loss of our civil liberties
now fast disappearing, as a nation dedicated to perpetual unjustifiable war
can only do it at the expense of a free society at home. It's what James Madison
meant when he wrote: "Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps,
the most to be dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every
other. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended...and
all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force
of the people."
Imperialism Often Includes Regime Change
A previous article called War Making 101 - A User's Manual prompted the writing
of this one as a follow-up. The earlier article about war making laid out the
steps or rules this country follows in preparing to take the nation to war.
The same idea is used here to explain how we pursue our imperial aims. For them
to work, it's essential to have foreign leaders in place who know "who's
boss" and will cooperatively go along and serve our interests ahead of
those of their own people. When they don't, the plan calls for regime change
to replace them with someone who will. Below are listed and explained the different
ways we go about it in order of preference. Here they're called plans instead
Plan One: Always try the easy way first. It works most often.
No imperial state, now or in the past, prefers the messiness and bother of
hot conflict. Even the tyrannical ones need to convince their people of a plausible
reason to get their young men motivated enough to go to war and fight hard enough
to win it. The US is no different, and ideally prefers "convincing"
foreign leaders to do it our way through diplomacy with enough of a sweetener
to their key political and business elites to gain their acquiescence. That
way works best in states headed by "strongmen" who gained power politically,
militarily or from their royal predecessor or family. It's a lot easier having
relations with one person in power who can decide everything rather than having
to deal with messy democrats chosen by elections who must answer to voters and
may have to consider their needs along with or ahead of ours. It still works
with them if they're subservient enough to our wishes. It's only when they aren't
that we try another method.
Plan Two: If Plan One fails, up the ante to harsher tactics. This second
choice also works most often.
If at first you don't succeed the easy way, try again more forcefully. So the
second choice is always: remove the "uncooperative leader" and install
a more dependable new one we can rely on - to do things our way but nearly always
at the expense of the great majority of the people. We've also had lots of experience
with Plan Two, and most often it works.
There are two ways to do it. Method A is the easy and preferred way. It involves
co-opting and bribing officials to do the dirty work. There are usually ready-takers
willing to go along and share in the spoils. We then train and fund them, choose
the time, opportunity and place to implement the scheme, then stand back and
hope all goes as planned. However it turns out, we can claim plausible deniability
they did it, not us. This was the method used in Venezuela in three unsuccessful
attempts from 2002 - 2004 to oust Hugo Chavez, put the country's oligarchs back
in power, and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution that created a model system
of participatory democracy based on the principles of political, economic and
social justice. Method A failed in Venezuela because Hugo Chavez gave his people
what they never had before and despite the coup plotters' best efforts they
weren't able to defeat the will and spirit of the people who showed through
their determined efforts they wouldn't tolerate returning to the ugly past they'll
never again accept.
So when things don't work out, as happened in Venezuela, Method B is tried.
It involves eliminating an uncooperative leader by assassination as discretely
as possible. It may be by a "rogue element's" bullet, some well-placed
and hard to detect poison, or an unfortunate plane crash the CIA conveniently
arranges. We've used this one enough times too, so we're usually able to pull
it off with the public none the wiser in the target country or at home.
The CIA used this method to murder Panamian president Omar Torrijos in a 1981
plane crash and Equadorian president Jaimi Roldos in a helicopter crash the
same year. Perhaps the most infamous CIA arranged coup and presidential assassination
happened on another September 11 in 1973 when General Augusto Pinochet with
strong US backing overthrew and had murdered democratically elected President
Salvador Allende. It ended the strongest and most vibrant democracy in the Americas
and ushered in a brutal right wing military dictatorship for the next 16.5 years.
Hugo Chavez now fears this is the fate the US has in mind for him and has said
so publicly. What happened in Chile can happen anywhere, and it shows the fragility
of a free and democratic society that can easily be toppled by forces determined
and strong enough to do it. It's not that hard when the public is unprepared
or unwilling to resist to save the liberties it takes for granted until it's
too late. But it also shows how successful people-power can be when mobilized
in force to resist a looming tyranny it refuses to accept. That's the lesson
of Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, and it's visible on the streets of Mexico in
the wake of (another) stolen election and a system of authoritarian rule the
people have begun to resist.
Plan Three: This choice of last resort is only used when the two preferred
methods fail - open conflict or war involving an invasion and possible occupation.
If the top two choices fail, as was the case in Iraq after years of trying
Plans One and Two, and the target is too important to pass up (again like Iraq),
the only choice left is open conflict or war. It can be simple, quick and easy
like Ronald Reagan's walkover against Grenada in October, 1983 that was mostly
over after several days or G.H.W. Bush's Operation Just Cause invasion of Panama
in December, 1989 that was almost as easy. It might also be like the Gulf war
which was not simple because of the long buildup and expense but was still quick
and involved no occupation.
However it's done, this least preferred option is messy, costly and usually
takes much more time from planning to completion. It's also only undertaken
against targeted foes too weak to put up a good fight and have no weapons that
will cause us heavy damage or loss of life. Guessing wrong on either count will
make it hard to maintain public support for long, as it's never easy explaining
the body bags when they arrive home in large numbers. It's even harder when
the pretext for going to war in the first place was based on lies (as they always
are), and they're beginning to unravel.
Once the war option is chosen though, the administration needs to prep the
public to go along with the "big lie" they concocted. It takes time
and effort but involves what so far is the proved the time-tested method of
choice guaranteed to work as explained above - scaring the public to death by
convincing it the targeted country threatens our national security and welfare.
The message repeated ad nauseam is that we patiently tried reason, but all diplomatic
efforts failed and we're only left with one viable option - force. We've done
this so often we're expert at it, so it's likely the public will be traumatized
enough to go along with even the most implausible, extreme or outrageous plan
we have in mind like using nuclear weapons against a targeted enemy that likely
can't even put up a decent fight against conventional ones.
Sometimes though we outsmart ourselves or refuse to listen to cooler heads
and end up in a hopeless quagmire. It happened in Vietnam, and it's being repeated
again in Iraq and heading toward more of the same in Afghanistan. But despite
a bad situation that's getting worse, it's usually not good strategy for an
imperial power to admit making a mistake, decide to cut its losses and leave.
It's generally not popular with voters (except when most of them are fed up
and want a quick exit) and doing it also emboldens others targeted to see us
as willing to back down when things go sour. They'll likely get the idea they
can make us quit if they make it tough enough long enough, and they're likely
to be right. It's no different than a schoolyard bully able to get away with
it as long as the ones picked on allow him to do it. Once one retaliates and
strikes a telling blow, it shows the bully isn't as tough as he wants others
So to avoid that fate, as well as saving face, we can never admit a mistake
or decide to give up a bad fight, even ones we can't win - just like we're now
doing in Iraq and beginning to face in Afghanistan. Instead we foolishly have
to keep up the charade with the public, say we're making good progress, and
claim there's light at the end of the tunnel. At most we'll admit it's taking
longer than expected, but we're still on plan and with some patience we'll succeed.
But that strategy only works for so long, because if winning isn't likely or
can't happen before patience runs out, the only light the public will see in
the tunnel is a train wreck in the making. If it comes to that, the game is
over, the administration suffers, and the opposition party (if that's a proper
term any more) will likely be the beneficiary. The public never is. It's always
the patsy during a conflict and when it ends. It must sacrifice butter for guns
and then pay the tab when the bill comes due.
Will the Public Ever Realize It's Been Had
The scaremongering scam has been used so often before with the same or similar
language that later proved false, you'd think the public by now would have caught
on. But you'd be wrong. Up to now, it's worked like a charm every time proving
again you can fool most people all the time so why not keep doing it - as long
as it keeps working. The only differences from one conflict to the next are
the names, dates and places. The playbook is always about the same. All that's
needed is an old one, and then fill in the blanks.
But imagine a "what if" using the well-known Aesop fable about The
Boy Who Cried Wolf but with a different moral. We remember the tale about the
bored shepard boy who broke his monotony by falsely crying "wolf"
and getting the nearby villagers to come to his rescue. When the villagers tired
of his false alarms they stopped coming. That's where our analogy ends. In the
fable the wolf finally came, the villagers ignored the boy's cry for help and
the flock perished. Aesop's fables always had a moral so we'd learn from them.
His was that even when liars tell the truth, they're never believed. Today,
however, when liars keep lying, the public never catches on and they keep getting
away with it - to our detriment. Hopefully, one day the lesson learned will
be that liars can only get away with so many lies until finally no one believes
anything they say. Maybe some day if the public knew about famed journalist
IF Stone and what he once said - that "all governments are run by liars
and nothing they say should be believed."
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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