Nos. 33 & 34, December 2002
Real Reasons for the US Invasion:
To sum up the following account: The US plans a massive expansionist drive around the world (and indeed even in outer space). In this it plans to take full advantage of its overwhelming military supremacy, including hitherto impermissible means, with inevitably terrible effects on the targeted populations. Not only inconvenient regimes but even certain US client regimes (such as Saudi Arabia) may be targeted. These countries are slated for direct rule by the American military, or rule under close and detailed direction by US monitorsencompassing not only foreign policy and economic policy, but political, social and cultural institutions as well. Direct control of oil will pass into American hands. Importantly, this drive is intended to prevent the emergence of rivals to American worldwide hegemony.
The first part of the following account draws on reports produced by private US bodies as well as press reports. We do not suggest that all the grand strategies and schemes mentioned therein have been finalised. The US ruling classes generally adopt a drawn-out process in the course of which they reconcile and resolve the often conflicting demands of their own various sections. Typically, apart from legislators and the press, a proliferation of research institutes, semi-governmental bodies, and academic forums circulate proposals voicing the case of one or the other lobby (leaving the administration free to deny that they constitute official policy). These proposals elicit objections from other sections, through similar media; other powerful countries too press their interests, directly or indirectly; and the entire discussion, in the light of the strength of the respective interests, helps shape the course of action finally adopted, and helps coalesce the various ruling class sections around it. (This process of course has nothing to do with democratic debate, since the people are excluded as participants, and are included only as a factor to be taken into account.)
The welter of secret reports, private discussions and briefings by unnamed official sources being reported in the press are part of this process. Keeping these qualifications in mind, these reports offer an invaluable window into the current policy of the American ruling classes.
Project for the New American Century
Titled Rebuilding Americas Defences: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, the report spells out American grand strategy for as far into the future as possiblethe projects reference to the new American century presumably demarcating the outer boundary. Among its highlights are the following:
That event, of course, came with September 11, 2001, accelerating the various missions already charted by the PNAC. As John Pilger points out (New Statesman, 16/12/02), the increase in military spending called for by the PNAC has occurred; the development of bunker-buster nuclear weapons and star wars is taking place; and Iraq is being targeted for the purpose of installing American troops in the Gulf. Further, US forces in southeast Asia are being beefed up, and North Korea and Iran have been bracketed with Iraq in what George Bush terms an axis of evil. One should reasonably expect the rest of the PNAC document to be similarly implemented.
It is now clear that the US intends its invasion of Iraq as only the opening salvo in its invasion of the entire region. This is being made known through semi-official channels, to prepare the ground for future actions. The road to the entire Middle East goes through Baghdad said a US administration official to the Washington Post (6/8/02). Once you have a democratic [read pro-American] regime in Iraq, like the ones we helped establish in Germany and Japan after World War II, there are a lot of possibilities. In the words of Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi vice-president, what the US wants is not regime change but region change.
Targeting Saudi Arabia
The presentation also claimed that the regime change in Iraq would help put pressure on Saudi Arabia, since a major increase in Iraqi oil production would take away the Saudi markets in the west. With reduced dependence on Saudi oil, the US could confront the House of Saud for (what this presentation alleges to be) its support of terrorism.
While the RAND researchers aphoristic opus might be dismissed as the work of a fantasist, and the Pentagon did take care immediately to deny that it reflected its views, there are indications that much of it is indeed US policy.
In line with the RAND presentation, Dick Cheney told the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in August that the overthrow of Saddam would bring about a number of benefits to the region: When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace. According to Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, after establishing a pro-US Iraq, We would be much more in a position of strength vis-a-vis the Saudis. Everyone will flip out, starting with the Saudis, says Meyrav Wurmser, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, where Perle is a member of the board. It will send shock waves throughout the Arab world. (Iraq War Hawks Have Plans to Re-Shape Entire Mideast, Boston Globe, 10/9/02)2
At the behest of a joint congressional committee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating money transfers from the Saudi ambassadors wife to a Saudi who was friendly with the September 11 hijackers. A $3 trillion lawsuit has been filed in an American court accusing several Saudi institutions and charities and three members of the royal family, including the defence minister, of financing terrorism. Following the filing of this lawsuit, Saudi investors have withdrawn up to $200 billion from the US. (Saudis withdraw billions of dollars from US, Financial Times, 8/20/02)
The US as agent provocateur
A sober gathering of eminent academics, historians, economists, global strategists and other experts came to a similar consensus at the Oxford Analytica conference in September 2002. The conference predicted that with the invasion of Iraq,
Israel to play key role
According to the leading Israeli historian Martin van Creveld, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharons plan is to forcibly transfer the two million Palestinians living in the occupied territories to neighbouring Jordana move opinion polls indicate has the support of 44 per cent of Israelis. No doubt this would spark a response from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (popular sentiment in those regions would irresistibly force the hands of the regimes), but that would merely provide an occasion for Israel to employ once more its overwhelming (American-built and American-funded) military might on them and crush their armies:
Israels attack on the Palestinians and then the Arab states would thus complement the US invasion of Iraq and some other state(s). Israel would hold military sway in the region as the local enforcer of American power.
This explains the unstinted support Sharon has received from Bush for his assault on the Palestinians. The day after his December 3, 2001, meeting with Bush, Sharon besieged Arafat in Ramalla and began the bombing and bombardment of the West Bank. Since then Sharon has not only unleashed death and terror in the occupied territories, but deliberately attempted to humiliate Arafat and discredit him even further among the Palestinians. The attack on Arafat has two objectives: first, to discredit Israels only existing negotiating party, and thus eliminate the obstacle of negotiations altogether; second, to provoke a reaction from the Palestinians such as can be the excuse for their mass eviction from the occupied territories, just as they were driven out in 1948 from the land that now constitutes Israel. (Van Creveld points out that Sharon has always referred to Jordan as a Palestinian state, the obvious implication being that Palestinians in the occupied territories belong there.)
This entire scenario is perhaps what Cheney had in mind when he said, in his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would enhance US ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
And so on, with Libyas Gaddafi marked for extinction once bigger game is bagged.
While the apparent targets of the US assault are the regimes of these countries, that would hardly make sense, since none of them poses a threat to the US, and in fact some of them, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are its client states. Rather the real targets are the anti-imperialist masses of the region, whom certain regimes are unwilling, and others are unable, to control. It is these anti-imperialist masses of West Asia, not their rulers of whatever hue, who have always constituted the real threat to US domination. The US appears to believe that its overwhelming and highly sophisticated military might can tackle the masses effectively if they come out into the open. That is why it even contemplates provoking mass uprisings so as to have occasion to crush them.
Global hegemonic drive parading as national security
The twentieth century has yielded a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise, values to be protected across the globe and across the ages. The United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence. Today, the worlds great powers find ourselves on the same sidethat is, the US lacks any rival. This is a time of opportunity for America.... the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world. Thus the national security document lays out American foreign policy.
Despite its unrivalled supremacy, the US is faced by a new type of enemy: shadowy networks of individuals.... organized to penetrate open societies.... To defeat this threat we must make use of every tool in our arsenal.... The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration....
Thus the formulation of terrorism has solved the problem posed by the present US secretary of state Colin Powell in 1991, when he was chief of US armed forces. Think hard about it, he said. Im running out of demons. Im running out of villains. (cited in David N. Gibbs, Washingtons New Interventionism: US Hegemony and Inter-Imperialist Rivalries, Monthly Review, September 2001) In the 1990s, as the US hunted for the required demon, military spending was slashed and questions were raised about the need for foreign deployments. Condoleezza Rice, the present National Security Adviser, began a Foreign Affairs article in 2000 thus: The United States has found it exceedingly difficult to define its national interest in the absence of Soviet power. Nicholas Lemann asked her in 2002 whether that was still the case:
In other words, the target is not terrorism. The supposed suppression of terrorism worldwide merely offers opportunities for the US to pursue its strategic agenda without geographic or temporal limits.
NSSUSA finds the mere existence of terrorists on a countrys soil sufficient justification for the US to attack the country: America will hold to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbour terrorists.... We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbour or provide aid to them. The phrase compromised by terror is vague enough to include those who the US claims have not taken adequately energetic measures against terrorism.
No doubt international law only recognises the right to self-defence in the face of imminent attack; but does not meet the requirements of the US, which wishes to adapt the concept of imminent threat to mean that America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed. The mere potential to constitute a threat would invite American action. In identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders... we will not hesitate to act alone, disregarding international forums such as the United Nations.
Europe is to be kept subordinate to, and dependent on, American power. For the last decade, the US has been troubled by the fact that the rationale for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), namely, the threat from the Soviet bloc, no longer exists. Though Europe is now contemplating setting up its independent military organisation, the US will work to ensure that these developments work with NATO. The document re-shapes NATO as a global interventionist force under American leadership: The alliance must be able to act wherever our interests are threatened, creating coalitions under NATOs own mandate, as well as contributing to mission-based coalitions. Rather than develop its own arms industry and forces, Europe should take advantage of technological opportunities and economies of scale in our defence spending. This is in line with the view of the secret Defence Planning Guidance, prepared in May 1990 by Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby for the then defence secretary Dick Cheney and partially leaked to the New York Times in the spring of 1992. Mapping out US policy in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet empire, it asserted that it is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of western defence and security, as well as the channel for US influence and participation in European security affairs. While the US supports the goal of European integration, we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliances integrated command structures.
NSSUSA issues a blunt warning to China against pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. The US threatens China with interference in its internal affairs: To make that nation truly accountable to its citizens needs and aspirations... much work remains to be done. US deployments in the region are to be beefed up, and in order to ensure that American troops are stationed as close as possible to China, South Korea is to be convinced to maintain vigilance [i.e. hostility] towards the North while preparing our alliance to make contributions to the broader stability of the region over the longer term.
In contrast with China, India is presented as a pillar of American influence in Asia: We (the US and India) are the two largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is moving toward greater economic freedom as well. We have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. Finally, we share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia. Two years ago, Indias nuclear rivalry with Pakistan and the battle over Kashmir made it the most dangerous place on earth for the US; now there is not even a single reference to Pakistan or Kashmir, and even Indias nuclear and missile programmes are treated as past concerns. Rather, India is presented as a growing world power with which we have common strategic interests. (The mere fact of being bracketed with China and Russia as a potential great power is deeply satisfying to the Indian ruling elite, which has been angling for some such certificate from the UShowever far from objective reality.)
Preventing the emergence of imperialist rivals
Massive expansion of foreign deployments
Even outer space is to be brought under US sway: military capabilities must also... protect critical infrastructure in outer space.
Economic agenda merged with strategic agenda
Supposedly multilateral institutions, long under the American thumb, are made now explicit instruments of American national security. The US will work with the IMF to streamline the policy conditions for its lending and [i]mprove the effectiveness of the World Bank. It will insist that its development assistance is tied to measurable goals and concrete benchmarks. Countries development is to be predicated to openness to inflows (and outflows) of capital, and indeed the very objective is merely such openness: Our long-term objective should be a world in which all countries have investment-grade credit ratings that allow them access to international capital markets and to invest in their future.5
Direct monitoring of governance
Lest it be imagined, contrary to the experience of a century, that the US has some fondness for democratic institutions in its client states, it should be noted that these institutions are to be built and run under close American directionparticularly in regard to the means of coercion: Once the regional campaign [against terrorism] localises the threat to a particular state, we will help ensure the state has the military, law enforcement, political and financial tools necessary to finish the task. If the outcome of a democratic exercise (such as any one of the elections and referendums won by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela) is not to Americas liking, that country will remain targeted and under siege till the people there reform: The United States, the international donor community, and the World Bank stand ready to work with a reformed Palestinian government [i.e. after the scrapping of the present one] on economic development, increased humanitarian assistance, and a program to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.
If a judiciary established by the Americans, paid by the Americans, and monitored by the Americans can be considered a democratic institution, colonialism is a democratic institution. Indeed, American diplomats are now to be re-oriented as viceroys, adept in all matters of governing client states: Officials trained mainly in international politics must also extend their reach to understand complex issues of domestic governance around the world, including public health, education, law enforcement, the judiciary, and public diplomacy.
The documents repeated mention of education is not an accident: the educational system is one of the media through which the US is to wage a war of ideas, carrying out propaganda in its own favour while enforcing the shutting down of schools which propagate anti-American sentiments (while the immediate target is the madrassas, the broader target is any democratic anti-imperialist elements in any educational system).
Muslim countries are a special target of this mission: the US will support moderate and modern government, especially in the Muslim world, to ensure that the conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism do not find fertile ground in any nation. The US plans to reform Islam, strengthening the moderates in a clash inside a civilisation, a battle for the future of the Muslim world. This is a struggle of ideas and this is an area where America must excel.
The real reason for targeting the Muslim states, of course, has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with the fact that, by remarkable coincidence, so many of themin West Asia, North Africa, the Caspian and even southeast Asiahappen to be rich in hydrocarbons. In that regard, however, the tactful NSSUSA is Hamlet without the prince of Denmark: the words oil, petroleum and hydrocarbons nowhere occur, and there is just a single reference to working to expand the sources and types of global energy supplied, especially in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Central Asia and the Caspian region.
Using weapons of mass destruction: There is active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons. The March 2002 leak of the Pentagons nuclear posture review revealed that the earlier concept that nuclear weapons are only a form of deterrence, to be used in retaliation against other nuclear powers, has been dumped. The new position foresees the use of low-yield nuclear weapons in three scenarios: against targets able to withstand attacks by non-nuclear weapons (such as underground bunkers); in retaliation for an attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; and in the event of surprising military developments, such as an Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbours, or a North Korean attack on South Korea or a military confrontation over the status of Taiwan. North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya are among the countries that could be involved in immediate, potential or unexpected contingencies, it says. A report published last year by Americas National Institute for Public Policy, a right-wing thinktank, declared that nuclear weapons can... be used in counter-force attacks that are intended to neutralise enemy military capabilities. The authors of the report include senior Pentagon officials and the deputy national security adviser. Geoff Hoon, British defence secretary, told MPs earlier this year: I am absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons. (The new nukes, Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian, 6/8/02)
The talk of low-yield nuclear weapons is merely to prepare the ground for using nuclear weapons as such. The Defence Threat Reduction Agency, a $1.1 billion agency set up in 1998, is studying how to attack hardened and deeply buried bunkers with high-yield nuclear weapons. (Washington Post, 10/6/02)
The price in human lives would be terrible. According to the Washington-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a mini-nuke attack on Saddam Husseins presidential bunker would cause 20,000 deaths in Baghdad. Many more would be maimed, burned, and suffer the effects of radiation. No cause for concern, believe the Americans: while a careful study by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian (20/8/02), drawing on a variety of sources including estimates by aid agencies, reveals over 20,000 Afghans died as a result of the US invasion, there is hardly a mention of the fact in the world press outside of his article. Nor is there coverage of the study by the Medact, the UK affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which estimates that a US attack on Iraq would cost between 48,000 and 260,000 lives immediately and 200,000 from the effects of the war. The study, whose methodology has been endorsed by the former chief of the Australian Defence Forces, also says that the use of nuclear weapons would raise the toll to millions. (Medact, Collateral Damage: The Cost of War in Iraq, 12/11/02)
Till now biological weapons programmes have been carried on under cover of peaceful uses. Now the Pentagon is openly pushing for the development of offensive biological weapons to produce systems that will degrade the warfighting capabilities of potential adversaries. While leading naval and air force laboratories presented proposals to this effect in 1997, the Marine Corps has now submitted them for assessment by the US National Academy of Sciences. (Counterpunch, 8/5/02) The NSSUSAs eagerness to get control of the public health systems of third world countries should be seen in this light.
Agent provocateurs, disinformation: A secret army has been set up by the Pentagon. It will unite CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception. (Information warfare is the deliberate spread of falsehoods as a weapon of war.) Its purpose would be to provoke terrorist attacks which would then justify counter-attack by the US on countries harbouring the terrorists:
The New York Times reported on February 19 that the Pentagons new Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations in an effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries. The OSI was created shortly after September 11 2001, supposedly to publicise the U.S. governments perspective in Islamic countries and to generate support for the U.S.s war on terror. According to the Times, one of the military units assigned to carry out the policies of the Office of Strategic Influence is the U.S. Armys Psychological Operations Command (PSYOPS).
Although public outrage caused the OSI to be officially scrapped, a contemptuous remark by Rumsfeld on November 18 reveals that only the name has been scrapped:
And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And oh my goodness gracious isnt that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall. I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine Ill give you the corpse. Theres the name.You can have the name, but Im gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have. (FAIR Media Advisory: the Office of Strategic Influence is gone, but are its programs in place?, 27/11/02)
According to William Arkin (Los Angeles Times, 24/11/02) Rumsfeld is redesigning the U.S. military to make information warfare central to its functions. This new policy, says Arkin, increasingly blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other. (cited in ibid)
The scale of war crimes in the offing is indicated by the Bush administrations eagerness to get immunity from such charges. It has despatched senior diplomats to Europe to insist that governments of the European Union grant blanket immunity to all US citizens from the United Nations newly-formed International Criminal Court, which is to try cases of genocide, war crimes and other human rights abuses. (Bill Vann, Ultimatum to Europe in advance of Iraq war US demands total impunity on war crimes, World Socialist Web Site, 12/10/02). Although the likelihood of any American being hauled up before a UN body is very slim, the Bush administration is taking no chances.
Clearly, current US plans represent a radical break from traditional strategies for maintaining global domination. This sudden consensus among all sectors of the US ruling class for bold and potentially risky action can only be understood as a response to a profoundly threatening economic crisis.
Presumably the first two phrases mean that invading Iraq offers a point of entry for the capture of Saudi Arabia. However, the last phrase remains obscure. (back)
Cohens mention of those with substantial economic interests in Saudi Arabia probably refers to former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, whose consulting firm counts the House of Saud among its most important clients. He appears now to represent a minority in the American establishment. (back)
3. Officials in the administration are quoted by the New York Times (U.S. Has a Plan to Occupy Iraq, Officials Report, 11/10/02) as saying that Iraq would be placed under US military rule for an extended spell (the item is elsewhere in this issue). More recently, as the US pressed for French, German and Russian support for its planned invasion, US officials were quoted as preferring international rulei.e. the involvement of other countries as well in policing post-invasion Iraq (US adopts Kosovo model to follow war, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 9/12/02). (back)
4. In an interview with The Times (London), Sharon has called for Iran to be attacked the moment the invasion of Iraq is complete. 5/11/02 Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel, 5/11/02, Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson and Danielle Haas. (back)
5. Even the spread of biotechnologywhich the US and its corporations, seeing the prospect of massive commercial gain, have been thrusting on the rest of the worldis introduced: the United States should help bring these benefits [of biotechnology] to the 800 million people, including 300 million children, who still suffer from hunger and deprivation. In line with this, the US and the UNs Food and Agricultural Organisation have been pressing genetically modified [GM] grain as food aid on famine-struck African nations who, for fear of the havoc that could be wreaked in their agriculture, are refusing it. The latters refusal has become the occasion for veiled threats by the US that the GM grain will be reached to their populations by military intervention. (back)
All material © copyright 2015 by Research Unit for Political Economy