Sins of Statecraft: The War on Terror Exposed :: Theories on Militarism and Prospects for Transformation ::

Few things are more crucial to our global situation today than a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental habits and recent overtly aggressive trend present in United States foreign policy. To achieve such requires a look into the long-standing tradition of creating external threats to conceal unsavory imperial operations conducted elsewhere in the world. This paper includes an examination of the US-USSR Cold War and the so-called “war on terror” as covers for expansion of imperialism, and 9-11 in the context of provoked and internally engineered first strikes throughout American history, devoting much of its contents to theories on militarism and post-World War II influence on policymaking-“how and why those in power do what they do.

The reasons for the use of the long-standing instruments of fear and militarism in the cause of navigating the contours and undulations of the Cold War are revealed in the context of the post-Cold War “war on terror,” which employs the same rhetoric and means of manipulation. Such revelations are not limited to identical methods, but spring forth from statements voiced by the manipulators themselves. A recent example (among many) came from the wife of Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, founder of the Committee for the Free World, and cofounder of a plethora of single-minded think tanks ranging from the second incarnation of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), Hudson Institute, Heritage Foundation, Coalition for a Democratic Majority, to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). In a 2004 Los Angeles interview, Decter stated, “We’re not in the Middle East to bring sweetness and light to the world. We’re there to get something we and our friends in Europe depend on. Namely, oil.” [1]

Statements like these surface after years, even decades, of manipulations that use very different and far more publicly palatable rhetoric to arrive at the tipping point when pretexts “to get” what manipulators want are achieved and exploited.

Regarding methods, again reflecting undulations in tensions between presidents and individuals acting in groups to influence policy-“groups whose objectives invariably have little or nothing to do with democracy and the welfare of the American people-“a clear pattern of self-serving interests emerges from the comparison of the ascendancy of 32 CPD members to posts in the pro-Cold War Reagan administration with the ascendancy of a roughly similar number of PNAC members to posts in the pro- “war on terror” Bush administration. Though the precise reasons have somewhat varied between the end of World War II and today, they have in common the convergent interests of such influential groups with likeminded groups outside the US, who together stood to gain from imperial ambitions pursued under the cloak of American projection of force as a response to the well-fashioned threats of “communist enslavement” and “international terrorism” respectively.

All of this is and has been about control of Central Asia and counteracting or inhibiting Russian and Chinese moves to control its resources. As Zbigniew Brzezinski observes, “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” Importantly, he adds, “Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat,” [2] a statement that should be understood in the context of one made earlier in his book: “The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” [3]

Daniel Yergin identified two axioms of Soviet intentions that led up to the creation and eventual adoption in 1950 of the most important foreign policy document of the last 56 years, NSC-68: the Riga axiom of belligerency (a militarized version of George Kennan’s early, hostile viewpoints while stationed in Riga and Moscow before and during World War II) and the Yalta axiom (based on the greater understanding achieved at the Yalta Conference with regard to postwar visions that would employ cooperation, compromise, and face-to-face diplomacy).[4] While in 1945 great strides were being made under the Yalta axiom in Moscow meetings with Joseph Stalin, at home the Yalta axiom was under attack from an inner circle of State Department officials who recognized an economic opportunity in the vacuum left by the fall of the Third Reich and the exhaustion of old European powers. Notably, many in this inner circle that would later trumpet the adoption of NSC-68 had worked together in Wall Street investment firms, served in high military positions, or were otherwise intimately connected to the corporate web from which they stood to reap massive profits in a heightened military state. These State Department officials, projecting the Riga axiom, insisted that Russia was an aggressive totalitarian power bent on world conquest, contradicting Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) assessments.[5] Thus, between 1946 and late 1950 the Yalta axiom came to be rejected by a confused and pliant President Truman, setting in motion a lucrative tragedy and an escalating trend that continues to this day.[6]

Two points illustrated by Jerry Sanders’ book, Peddlers of Crisis, are useful in understanding manipulation. Firstly, NSC-68, while presented as a military strategy in response to an imminent threat, was in reality an economic strategy requiring military buildup to suggest that a threat existed. Secondly, CPD was formed by supporters of NSC-68 to manipulate the public and Congress into embracing NSC-68’s recommendations. NSC-68 itself, drafted in January 1950 and signed by Truman in April 1950, was not enough to persuade, nor was the advent of the Korean War in June 1950. Only after CPD was formed and issued a series of media statements, followed by echoing statements from President Truman in December 1950, did the public and Congress perceive a threat grave enough to motivate the adoption of NSC-68’s recommendations for “a three-fold increase in military spending on nuclear and conventional forces-“a bold program of rearmament.” [7] In April 1950, when NSC-68 was signed, four months after Truman had approved the hydrogen bomb program, the US possessed some 500 atomic weapons and was producing them at the rate of four per week, while the Soviets had only recently tested their first atomic bomb and possessed at most a dozen such weapons.[8]

This perception-“or deception-“highlights the thesis of this study: that the US majority acquiesces to an aggressive arrogance arising whenever the three spheres of financial, military, and political powers fall into the hands of an elite self-serving minority that is highly influential through media, lobbying, one-on-one persuasion, and key connections within these spheres.

As NSC-68 reveals in its own language, and as revealed in the statements of its supporters, the notion of an external threat (in this case, the Soviet Union) was required to maintain US-European trade advantages gained from World War II. The illusion of a Soviet threat in Europe was key to preventing European trade partners from ratifying the prevailing desire among Soviets and Europeans alike for a neutralist trade environment, while the external threat in the US was necessary to persuade the public and Congress into acceptance of NSC-68’s huge defense budget increases, ostensibly to provide protection, but in reality to legitimize the threat and produce economic growth both in the US and Europe (whereas growth in Europe meant more growth in the US).[9]

In other words, the threat was not as real as NSC-68’s economic goals, but only the threat could achieve those goals, and only through exaggeration. NSC-68 was therefore an offensive strategy disguised as a defense against “communist enslavement.” The resulting new foreign policy of what Sanders calls Containment Militarism, adopted by Truman (and which should not be confused with the conventional notion generated from the term “containment policy” ), consisted of a structure that grew and prevails today, requiring new external threats to maintain today’s US- global trade advantages, mainly produced in the intervening years (and previously) through imperial coercion. Thus, the degree of deceit necessary to sway public opinion also grew, often employing first strikes against Western assets both to satisfy this demand for acceptance/acquiescence, and to serve as pretexts for the placement of forces in geostrategic regions and approval of finances necessary to sustain key areas of the structure.

Today this geostrategy is directly linked to the predicted peak in world oil production. Since lucrative control of renewable resources is much more difficult to concentrate in the hands of a few, Western nations have chosen to maintain their immediate investments and establish supremacy over remaining energy reserves by supporting US foreign policy, though they have little choice but to acquiesce and follow US policy because of the strength of its military. In any event, the exaggeration of threats in the “war on communism” have given way to more virulent preemptive and preventive policies in the “war on terror” that represent a trend far more devastating to American founding principles and produce a danger to global security on a scale not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Between 1798 and 2004, the United States conducted 322 operations involving US forces abroad, not counting covert operations, disaster relief, and routine alliance stationing and training exercises.[10] 153 of these occurred between 1946 and 2004, and have dramatically increased in frequency decade by decade. This astounding number represents the most prolific global projection of power by any empire in history. Even worse, no nation in modern times has worked so hard to kill independence movements, and the US has routinely done so in the name of freedom and democracy.

In The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Threat, published in 1979, Alan Wolfe states that, “Without a sharply negative view of an enemy, it is difficult to justify an activist foreign policy.” [11] He rightly suggested that “postwar American policy has gone through two peaks, two valleys, and now seems to be entering a third peak,” with a peak being a US assertion of strength against Soviet ideology represented by an increased defense budget or interventions and symbolic displays such as moving the American fleet. For the first peak, Wolfe pointed to the period from the end of World War II to the early 1950s, particularly the decision to build the hydrogen bomb and the issuance of NSC-68, the blueprint for every belligerent strategy report issued by the Pentagon under the Bush administration, and similar documents drafted by Paul Wolfowitz and PNAC prior to the ascendancy of George W. Bush to the presidency. The second peak began in 1957 with the Gaither Report and culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The third peak began in 1976 with the Team B Report, authorized by then CIA director George Bush Sr.; the resulting push for intelligence community reform; and the reappearance of CPD, which flooded the media with false notions of an impending Soviet first strike.[12] (Paul Nitze was instrumental in all three peaks as primary author of each of the three belligerent documents.)

It could be argued that a third valley arrived with the collapse of the Soviet Union, so sudden as to deflate and disappoint such staunch neoconservatives as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. When asked in 1990 why he had stopped writing, Podhoretz lamented that he had lost his compass and no longer knew what to think, humorously noting that Kristol had moved all the way to Washington just as “the spirit blew out of the Beltway.” [13] However, as Stephen Cohen argues below, the US-USSR Cold War never ended. Indeed, the consistent belligerent and bipartisan condescension of US foreign policy toward Russia since 1991 is indicative of deep-rooted and fundamental flaws that have plagued the US majority in the form of an aggressive arrogance that arises whenever financial, military, and political powers fall into the hands of a negative-activist minority. (I apply the term “negative” to signify the decidedly self-serving and willful use of violence in the process of manipulating the majority.)

Stephen Blank, professor and expert on Russia at the US Army War College, states: “The obvious implication of current policy is that NATO under US leadership will become an international policeman and hegemon in the Trans-Caspian, and define the limits of Russian participation in the region’s expected oil boom.” [14]

Immediately after 9-11, Vladimir Putin promised support for Bush’s “war on terror,” with the caveat that NATO cease its eastward push. Bush agreed, and just as immediately set about pushing NATO eastward. Professor Stephen Cohen of NYU points out that (thus) the Cold War never ended, and with the US today openly stating that Georgia and Ukraine are to become NATO partners, with US troops present-“and with Putin having drawn the line with Ukraine, as Russia subsidizes much of Ukraine’s economy-“a new and very real tension has risen once again between the two largest possessors of nuclear arms. (In fact, a US warship and 200 Marines were chased out of the Russian province of Crimea just weeks ago by a massive group of protesters.) [15]

Implicit in the above is that the illusion or projection of Cold War triumphalism asserted under the Clinton and Bush II administrations has lent additional leverage to those negative activists who were already seeking global supremacy and a new external threat in the wake of the Cold War. (While Russians saw the end of the Cold War as an agreement between East and West, negative-activists in the US declared a triumph of “freedom and democracy” over a “tyrannical regime.” )

Moreover, for the average American, the valleys described by Alan Wolfe-“the mid 1950s, the 1960s and early 1970s (and the Clinton years)-“seemed to offer hope, but a sustained increase in general prosperity that a shift away from the spending of a national security state and toward domestic growth never arrived. Such a shift would have required a sincere and sustained investment in the rise of an international justice system, and the removal of US military forces from around the world. Persistent extremists in elite US foreign policy circles did all they could through these valleys to see that this would never happen; America was the only true force for good in the world, they argued, and had “a duty” to project that force-“with heavy emphasis on “force.”

The United States has shipped much its infrastructural technology and economic wealth to Japan, South Korea, Germany, and elsewhere in exchange for its continued overseas military presence and expansion, some of it due to an obsession with roots in the racisms of 19th century Manifest Destiny, all of it due to a determination to control the economic affairs of the world through intimidation rather than chart an equitable new course: “Indeed, if there is one common thread running from 1945 to the present, it is the ever-widening sphere of American containment of an unruly world, with no end in sight.” [16]

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was less about confrontation between two superpowers and more about two superpowers ultimately exploiting the illusion of confrontation for domestic and global ventures of a profitable nature. For Soviet leaders, this illusion permitted the resolution and consolidation of its internal difficulties, most prominently rooted in its multiculturalism. Its borders grew more secure, and the suppression of dissent became easier. For the United States, exploiting the “threat of Soviet communism” in Europe fostered its wider economic command in European and global affairs. There were actually three cold wars, two of which are still raging: in East Asia, and in Latin America. The United States found this “threat” convenient in both of these regions, lending an easy excuse for basing its troops in East Asia-“which again goes back to America’s historic obsession with China-“and providing a distracting cover for long-standing exploits in Latin America, installing dictators to allow American fruit companies and other businesses to perpetually exploit the land while indigenous farmers suffer immensely.[17] In fact, the best thing that ever happened to help cover the United States’ imperial ambitions in Latin America was the rise of Fidel Castro, allowing the US to point to the “spread of communism” and thus legitimize military operations, particularly under President Reagan, which in nearly every case targeted and killed the rise of national independence efforts, also known as democracy movements.[18]

As an undergraduate recipient of Oregon’s most prestigious award for overseas study in Japan, and as a graduate with honors in Japanese history, I was shocked to learn only after creating my nontraditional independent masters degree program in Peace Studies how the transfer of power in Korea, from Japanese to American hands in September 1945, held in place much of the divisive Japanese colonial structure and kept in power Koreans who had sided with the Japanese, thus alienating nearly all Koreans and serving to thwart attempts at reunified independence to allow occupation by US forces to this day-“a shameful trend repeated in Vietnam and countless locations throughout recent history.[19]

If we for a moment equate occupation with terrorism rather than the one-sided equating of anti-occupation movements with terrorism, another advantage of using terrorism is illustrated by Harvard Professor Stephen Rose (director of the Olin Institute, a primary funding source for extremist think tanks): “The maximum amount of force can and should be used as quickly as possible for psychological impact-“to demonstrate that the empire cannot be challenged with impunity. We are in the business of bringing down hostile governments and creating governments favorable to us. Imperial wars end, but imperial garrisons must be left in place for decades to ensure order and stability.” [20]

To approach an understanding of the nature of US foreign policy, it is useful to begin with an assessment of arguably the most crucial juncture in policymaking between the end of World War II and the present: a period spanning the mid 1970s to the early 1980s.

Let us, therefore, back up to the subject of Midge Decter and husband Norman Podhoretz for the sake of highlighting once again their true objectives. Podhoretz’s end-of-the-Cold-War lament did not last long, and indeed both he and his wife had apparently overlooked the solution to their need for a new external threat, which was present through a simple reorientation of a tactic laid out in the 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism they had attended. (This recount is best served with a brief discussion of the years leading up to 1979, most of which is common knowledge.)

In 1974, when Gerald Ford took over for Richard Nixon in the White House after Watergate, Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld insisted that Ford appoint Dick Cheney as Assistant to the President. Ford had no idea who Cheney was, but under the pressure of Rumsfeld’s insistence, Ford approved Cheney’s appointment.

The following year, on November 4, 1975, Rumsfeld and Cheney executed the infamous Halloween Massacre, persuading Ford to severely reduce the powers of the pro-détente, anti-Cold War Henry Kissinger, limit the role of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, and most importantly, replace the proud Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William Colby with the extremely anti-détente and pro-Cold War oil man George Bush Sr. Rumsfeld also bumped himself up to Secretary of Defense, and Cheney moved up to Rumsfeld’s old position of White House Chief of Staff.[21]

This set the stage for devastating intelligence reforms and the eventual return of brutal policies in the CIA that had been drastically curtailed after Watergate, Vietnam, and other sins of statecraft.

Each year the CIA produces National Intelligence Estimates (NIE), and William Colby had staunchly defended their veracity in showing that the Soviet Union urgently sought parity through diplomacy (as it had all along), was in severe decline economically, and strongly desired an end to the Cold War. The NIE produced in 1976 showed precisely this, but the new DCI George Bush Sr. called for an independent team of outside analysts to challenge his CIA’s own findings. Far from independent, each member of this group, called Team B, was closely tied to the defense industry and all were extreme anti-Soviet, anti-détente, pro-Cold War hawks. Members included Paul Nitze, who had authored the scariest documents throughout the Cold War, indeed had officially launched the Cold War with his NSC-68 (while serving in the State Department as Director of Policy Planning), and Paul Wolfowitz, Nitze’s protégé, who has since produced the scariest post-Cold War documents.

Dissenting views were allowed in NIE in the form of footnotes, and the most prolific writer of dissenting footnotes in the NIE of 1976 was General George Keegan.[22] Keegan had a history of creating pretexts, among them the Northwoods plan (below), and the “death ray scare” of the early 1970s designed to build public and military opposition to détente. Keegan also had close ties, in the religious fundamentalist sense, with Jack Kemp, Gary Bauer, General Daniel O. Graham, and many other figures prominent in the rise of interventionist policy after Team B.[23]

Team B did not challenge any facts whatsoever, but simply embarrassed the youthful CIA team by alleging with great skill and flourish that the Soviets were building fantastical new weapons in preparation for a first strike. In any event, the outcome was that Bush used Team B’s perspective to reform the entire basis for assessing Soviet capabilities, so that henceforth NIE were based not on facts (a.k.a. intelligence) but on imagined potential.

The results, coupled with increasing pressure from the reincarnated CPD, forced the incoming President Carter to adopt a hard-line foreign policy to the extent that by 1980 he was so strongly outgunned by pro-Cold War people within the intelligence community and the Pentagon, as well as within his own administration, that he announced in his State of the Union address precisely what had been put before him rather than what he may have believed or desired.

Chronologically digressing for a moment to provide useful background, among the previous sins of statecraft in US history were Operation Northwoods and Operation Mongoose of 1962, two parts of one plan designed with help from both General Keegan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer. Northwoods was a plan to target American citizens in several cities and put the blame on Cuba, serving as a pretext for invasion of Cuba. (President Kennedy rejected the plan, and some contend that this rejection led Keegan, Lemnitzer, E. Howard Hunt, and others to plot his assassination.) In the declassified Northwoods documents, suggestions also include building a plane that looked like a Cuban MIG fighter jet to shoot down a chartered US commercial plane filled with students flying over Cuba on their way to a Caribbean holiday; staging a military strike on the US base at Guantanamo dressed as Cuban soldiers; and flying a remote-controlled commercial plane over Miami and using a fake Cuban MIG fighter to shoot it down in broad daylight for the American public to witness.

I pause to mention this because pretexts such as these have been used throughout US history, and represent the rising trend-“from national to international-“of organized assertions of combined powers of influence exercised in the hands of a negative-activist minority upon the majority in the form of terrorism. First strikes on US assets have served as pretexts for almost every major war in which it was involved. Even in its struggle for independence from Britain, rebels in 1770 engineered a first strike against colonists, called the Boston Massacre, to galvanize public opinion and demonize an enemy. In extremely organized fashion, British soldiers were provoked into killing five colonists-“a pivotal event leading to the War of Independence. Boston revolutionaries under the leadership of Samuel Adams portrayed the event as a “cold-blooded slaughter of defensive colonists revealing England as murderous and oppressive,” and “proof that there was no alternative to war.” [24] The findings of deep research into actual details of this event as noted in Nafeez Ahmed’s The War on Truth are both startling and instructive in understanding the efficiency of such methods.

Widely praised as the best critique of the official inquiry into 9-11, the final chapter of The War on Truth illustrates America’s legacy of arranging first strikes against itself to establish new external threats, to legitimize these threats in the minds of congressional leaders, and to galvanize public sentiment for war. Executive director of Britain’s Institute for Policy Research and Development, Ahmed highlights Professor John McMurtry’s explanation of such events as follows:

Shocking attacks on symbols of American power as a pretext for aggressive war is, in fact, an old and familiar pattern of the American corporate state-¦with an attendant corporate media frenzy focusing all public attention on the Enemy to justify the next transnational mass murder. Throughout there is one constant to this long record of hoodwinking the American public into bankrolling ever rising military expenditures and periodic wars for corporate treasure-¦to provide the pretext and the public rage to launch wars of aggression against convenient and weaker enemies by which very major and many-leveled gains are achieved for the US corporate-military complex.

Ahmed’s final chapter describes how such methods were systematically applied to the Mexican-American War, and by the sinking of the Maine, which sparked the Spanish-American War; the sinking of the Lusitania, which ultimately brought the US into World War I; Pearl Harbor, with overwhelming evidence that the Japanese attack was deliberately provoked and allowed to occur to generate public support for entry into World War II; Operation Northwoods, the rejected plan to carry out acts of terrorism within US cities designed to spark a war with Cuba; and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, an official lie that succeeded as a pretext for US expansion of the Vietnam War.[25] In this context, Ahmed points out, “it is perfectly reasonable to consider the possibility that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were the outcome of the same sort of geostrategic thinking-“rooted in long-standing political, social, and economic forms-“that gave rise to previous US operations along a similar framework.”

Now back to 1979, the year that international terrorism found a new incarnation through consolidation of converging interests and the “war on terror” was conceived. (Its conception was necessarily followed by a process of maturation: first applied to the Cold War and in rhetoric within limited theaters, such as in Latin America and the Palestine-Israel situation; second in the post-Cold War formulation of a global “war on terror” plan during the 1990s; and third in its implementation after 9-11.) On January 21, 1979, 170 admirals and generals published a letter to President Carter in major US newspapers, calling for US military superiority over the Soviet Union, the recognition of Israel’s strategic value and the reinforcement of its military capabilities, and a final renunciation of détente. The organizers of this campaign were the previously mentioned General Lemnitzer, the Operation Northwoods Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman from the early 1960s; General Daniel O. Graham, a major Team B participant; and General Keegan, the second half of the Northwoods leftovers and the footnote man from the 1976 NIE.[26]

Around June of 1979, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The United States launched a covert operation to bolster anticommunist guerrillas in Afghanistan at least six months before the 1979 Soviet invasion of that country. We did not push the Russians into invading, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” [27] The US had actively recruited Afghan warlords to form terrorist groups along the northern border, forcing the USSR to conduct a full-scale invasion in December to counter the US destabilization program. Among the methods used by the US in this program was the production and distribution of textbooks to schools (madrassas) promoting the war-values of murder and fanaticism, fostering a generation steeped in violence.

The US government ‘in collusion with Pakistan’s leaders took abusive advantage of the opportunity-¦to rule out the creation of any responsible and independent organization among Afghans-¦in complete disregard to the Afghan people’s sovereignty and sacrifices.’ [28]

In other words, the United States once again crushed a democratic uprising, resulting in the occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet forces, and allowing the US to form its own resistance group against the occupation. This is where the bin Laden family became deeply involved. The family helped fund the rebellion, and enthusiastically supported Osama bin Laden’s decision to join the struggle.

Between July 2 and July 5, 1979, in Nafeez Ahmed’s words from The War on Truth, citing Philip Paull’s brilliant 1982 thesis on the organized reinvention of international terrorism,

“a group of powerful elites from various countries gathered at an international conference in Jerusalem to promote and exploit the idea of ‘international terrorism.’ The (Jerusalem) conference (on International Terrorism, or JCIT) established the ideological foundations for the ‘war on terror.’ JCIT’s defining theme was that international terrorism constituted an organized political movement whose ultimate origin was in the Soviet Union. All terrorist groups were ultimately products of, and could be traced back to, this single source, which-“according to the JCIT-“provided financial, military, and logistical assistance to disparate terrorist movements around the globe. The mortal danger to Western security and democracy posed by the worldwide scope of this international terrorist movement required an appropriate worldwide anti-terrorism offensive, consisting of the mutual coordination of Western military intelligence services.” [29]

The nonexistent target of this antiterrorist program leads us to ask what the real target was.

According to former State Department official Richard Barnet, the inflation of Soviet-sponsored ‘international terrorism’ was useful precisely for demonizing threats to the prevailing US-dominated capitalist economic system. [30]

It is crucial to identify the architects of the JCIT’s terrorism project. Thanks to Philip Paull, we know they were, “present and former members of the Israeli and United States governments, new right politicians, high-ranking former United States and Israeli intelligence officers, the anti-détente, pro-Cold War group associated with the policies of Senator Henry M. Jackson-“a group of neoconservative journalists and intellectuals-“and reactionary British and French politicians and publicists.” Among prominent individuals who participated were Menachem Begin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, and George Bush Sr. (The aforementioned anti-détente, pro-Cold War group associated with the policies of Senator Henry Jackson are well known to be Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Douglas Feith, Robert Kagan, Charles Horner, and James Woolsey, to name a few.)[31]

Importantly, Paull’s thesis includes the entire list of the JCIT participants, many of them intimately connected to the 1976 Team B assault on National Intelligence Estimates and to CPD. Participants from the United States at this conference, arranged by Benjamin Netanyahu and George Bush Sr., were neoconservative organizers Norman Podhoretz and his wife Midge Decter (CPD), Senator John Danforth, Professor Joseph Bishop, General George Keegan (Team B), Ray Cline (former CIA deputy director who had assisted with Operation Northwoods, and director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies), Jack Kemp (CPD), Lane Kirkland (CPD’s connection to the AFL-CIO), journalist George Will, nuclear physicist and staunch Cold War hawk Edward Teller, Richard Pipes (Team B, CPD), Bayard Rustin (CPD’s connection to the A. Philip Randolph Institute), Professor Thomas Schelling (RAND), Ben Wattenberg (CPD), Claire Sterling, and Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Participants also came from Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany, Canada, Ireland, and the largest contingency was comprised of Israeli military, government, and intelligence service personnel. The bulk of the international representatives not from Israel and the US were media propagandists long connected to covert operations.[32]

In 1981, some of the conference attendees published books, including Claire Sterling’s The Terror Network, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s International Terrorism Challenge and Response: Proceedings of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, asserting the existence of this Soviet-backed threat.

For a decade or more, the United States government, like the governments of most Western powers, was largely silent on the question of Soviet complicity in international terrorism. Beginning in about 1979, and culminating in 1981 with the publication of Claire Sterling’s book, The Terror Network, the evidence that the Soviet Union had provided substantial supplies and training to a broad spectrum of terrorist organizations became so compelling that it was difficult to deny it. [33]

In 1982, within just a few years of this conference, Philip Paull, the masters degree student at San Francisco State University, used his thesis to demonstrate that the JCIT’s literature and source documentation was profoundly flawed, with authors citing each other and altering official documents. Its assertion that there was a ten-fold increase in international terrorism between 1968 and 1978 had been deliberately fabricated, and contradicted CIA data showing a decline.

According to Ahmed: “It also routinely relied on techniques of blatant disinformation, misquoting and misrepresenting Western intelligence reports, as well as recycling government sponsored disinformation published in the mainstream media. Paull thus concludes that the 1979 JCIT was:

… a successful propaganda operation… the entire notion of ‘international terrorism’ as promoted by the Jerusalem Conference rests on a faulty, dishonest, and ultimately corrupt information base…. The issue of international terrorism has little to do with fact, or with any objective legal definition. The issue, as promoted by the JCIT and used by the Reagan administration, is an ideological and instrumental issue. It is the ideology, rather than the reality, that dominates US foreign policy today.”

Nevertheless, Ahmed continues,

The new ideology of ‘international terrorism’ justified the Reagan administration’s shift to ‘a renewed interventionist foreign policy,’ and legitimized a ‘new alliance between right-wing dictatorships everywhere’ and the government. Thus, the administration had moved to ‘legitimate their politics of state terrorism and repression,’ while also alleviating pressure for the reform of the intelligence community and opening the door for ‘aggressive and sometimes illegal intelligence action,’ in the course of fighting the international terrorist threat. [34]

In other words, this plan was similar in nature to the Team B assault on intelligence in that it was an effort to fan Cold War flames and produce stronger intelligence community cover for continued and further imperial projections, which was the primary purpose of the US-USSR Cold War in the first place (as University of Chicago professor of history Bruce Cumings and East Asia expert and former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson suggest).

Upon taking office in January 1981, Reagan outlined his new foreign policy in a speech by Alexander Haig, which boiled down to an adoption of the JCIT theme: “International terrorism will take the place of human rights in our concern.” [35] Thus, the 1979 US destabilization program using terrorist groups to lure the Soviets into Afghanistan was used by the US to call the Soviet invasion “terrorism” and to point to that invasion as a model for “Soviet-backed terrorism” around the world.

A nation of such greed and superior strength will often allow itself to be attacked because it can afford to do so, and because in the minds of a negative-activist minority it makes strategic sense to do so. In Inventing the Axis of Evil, Bruce Cumings notes that:

From Polk’s attack on Mexico to the South’s shelling of Fort Sumter, the sinking of the Maine and the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Korean War, the Tonkin Gulf incident, and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, presidents who were bent on war or not, expecting it to erupt or not, nonetheless waited until the enemy made the first move. [36]

Cumings goes on to point out that the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq did not fit that typical pattern-“though it is now clear from documents and statements, many of them authored by Paul Wolfowitz, that this administration (and its supporting base of influential negative-activist groups) was obsessed with Middle East intervention and global dominion via force long before they took office, with Iraq as their first stepping stone. Thus, 9-11 was a plausible pretext, and one for which President Bush’s administration was willing to wait.

Paul Wolfowitz’s obsession with Iraq dates back at least to 1973. It was then that Wolfowitz-“who had studied under the pro-Cold War nuclear weapons advocate Albert Wohlstetter at the University of Chicago, and whose father had been Albert Wohlstetter’s math teacher at Columbia University-“visited the Pentagon and asked why there were no war room contingencies for the Persian Gulf. Later, while serving under President Carter in the capacity of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programs and tasked with generating a Limited Contingency Study to examine possible third-world threats in regions including the Middle East, Wolfowitz voiced the view that no attention was being paid to the possibility of the Soviets turning southward to seize the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. He advised the deployment of military equipment to the Gulf, but his advice was rejected. Indeed, the first written expression of such Middle East contingencies appeared in the 1977 Military Strategy and Force Posture Review authorized by President Carter (also known as Presidential Review Memorandum 10/NSC-10), which incorporated Wolfowitz’s studies.[37] After joining the Reagan administration, his advice was accepted and tankers of military equipment were anchored in the Persian Gulf (and later used by George Bush Sr.).

In 1986, according to Ahmed:

Osama bin Laden’s activities occurred ‘with the full approval of the Saudi regime and the CIA.’ Under contract with the CIA, he and the family company built the multi-billion dollar caves known as the Tora Bora complex: ‘to serve as a major arms storage depot, training facility, and medical center for the Mujaheddin.’ [38]

With CIA support to override visa requirements, Osama rounded up recruits and sent them into the United States for terrorist training by the CIA; the recruits then returned to fight against Soviet forces. At the height of this operation, the US was shipping 65,000 tons of arms annually to Osama bin Laden’s fighters. Pakistani operatives in contact with bin Laden received assistance from “American Green Beret commandos and Navy SEALS in various US training establishments,” and by 1988, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that “with US knowledge, bin Laden created Al-Qaeda (The Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries.”[39]When Iraq invaded Kuwait after the fall of the Soviet Union, Osama bin Laden attempted to rally the Saudi royal family to organize civil defense and raise a group of Afghan war veterans to fight against Iraq. This offer was declined, and instead the royal family accepted the stationing of 300,000 US soldiers. This is said to be the point at which Osama chose to become an enemy of the Saudi regime, although according to a classified intelligence report, a deal was struck with the tacit approval of the CIA that allowed Osama to leave Saudi Arabia with his funding and supporters. The deal also stipulated that funding for his activities would continue with the caveat that he not target the Saudi kingdom.[40]Al-Qaeda subsequently received increased funding through Saudi Arabia, stronger organizational support from Pakistani intelligence services, and more equipment and training from the CIA. Its network received direct assistance from these three sources, with active and tacit support of Western intelligence agencies in spreading to 40 countries and conducting pro-Western operations in Macedonia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chechnya (and Moscow), Bosnia, Philippines, Spain, Morocco, Kenya, and others (including the US and United Kingdom), covering key regions where Western interests are at stake: the Balkans, the Caucasus, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Asia Pacific-“all central to control of the Eurasian continent.[41] Thus, in the wake of the Cold War with Russia, US means of statecraft grew more aggressive.

Following the departure of Soviet forces, Afghanistan experienced heavy conflict between various factions; among the most brutal of these was the Northern Alliance (whose portrayal in US media after 9-11 was anything but brutal). By the mid 1990s, several factions joined to form the Taliban movement, which captured Kabul and took power in 1996, reportedly orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence and the oil company Unocal,[42] and approved by the CIA, to provide easier oil pipeline negotiations and the greater chance of its successful construction through Afghanistan. In other words, the Taliban were installed because they were easier to bribe than the previous leadership. These negotiations occurred during the mid to late 1990s between the Taliban and current US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad (then a Unocal advisor). The negotiations involved Condoleeza Rice (then an advisor for Chevron), current President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai (then an advisor for Unocal), and Enron, which paid $750,000 for the pipeline survey using a grant funded by US taxpayers.[43] However, the negotiations deteriorated in the year prior to 9-11, leading to a major US invasion plan,[44] for which wargames were conducted in January 2001.[45] From February to May 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney gathered executives from the world’s major energy corporations for his Energy Task Force meetings. Maps acquired by Judicial Watch show the carving up among these corporations of Iraq’s oilfields and much of its other infrastructural assets. [46]

In 1993, the bombing of the World Trade Center had led investigators to a wealth of evidence indicating intelligence community complicity, and warnings of another, larger attack. In 1995, Project Bojinka, in which eleven commercial jets were to be hijacked and flown into major buildings in the United States, was thwarted, producing another mass of evidence that planes would be used as flying bombs. The top concern of Olympic officials for the 2000 Sydney games, in fact, was an airliner-based attack by al-Qaeda.[47] Subsequent investigations strongly indicated that the next attack date would be September 11, the anniversary of the 1996 conviction of those caught in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing campaign.[48] Throughout the years leading up to 9-11, especially in the nine months prior to the attacks, investigators and representatives from dozens of nations and within US borders attempted to warn top White House and US intelligence officials of an attack set for the second week of September 2001 using hijacked planes as flying bombs. All attempts were systematically ignored. Statements by top officials immediately after the attacks, that no one was prepared for or could have predicted the events-“and that no plans for an invasion of Afghanistan existed-“therefore, were lies. In fact, in October 2000, the Pentagon held an evacuation drill with the theme that an airplane had been hijacked and flown into the building.[49] Warned of an impending al-Qaeda attack on the Genoa, Italy, G8 Summit in July 2001, the office of President Bush, who was scheduled to attend, arranged to have the skies cleared and secured, just as they had been for the 2000 Olympic games.[50] Also in July 2001, US representative Tom Simons warned Taliban leaders, “we will offer you a carpet of gold or bury you with a carpet of bombs.” [51]

So, the US had at last put its reinvented (post-Cold War) international terrorism plan to work, knowingly paving the path to the “war on terror” well before it began. This military option was perfect for those who longed for a new Pearl Harbor for economic gain at the hands of “international terrorists.” The groundwork was complete; the evil mastermind created, and all that was needed to complete the Unocal pipeline was a legitimate excuse for taking control of the region. The CIA was still negotiating the pipeline deal in August 2001 while troops were already stationed in surrounding states. Thus, all that was needed was a trigger, a pretext to galvanize public opinion.

In June 2001, Paul Wolfowitz’s speech to the graduating class at West Point had cited Pearl Harbor and stressed the imminence of a similar surprise.[52] On September 9, two days before the attacks, President Bush was presented with detailed plans to invade Afghanistan and remove the Taliban before the heavy snowfalls of the Afghan winter.[53] The plans highlighted a global campaign against al-Qaeda. How long, we must ask, were the Pentagon and CIA drawing up these plans simultaneous to their operations that had created and supported the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the first place? The answer, according to law professor Francis Boyle, is four years, with wargames and troop gatherings in neighboring states for this invasion commencing in 1997.[54]

After September 11, top insiders of the military-industrial-academic-congressional-thinktank complex exploited a fearful electorate, not because of a real threat, but because the door to profits had been kicked open. This is why security has not improved, only the spending for war and the price of oil to pay for it have increased while profits have skyrocketed.

According to Ahmed:

A plausible conclusion from all this is that the (2001-present) US military campaign in Afghanistan, assisted by Pakistani military intelligence, was not really designed to destroy al-Qaeda at all. Rather, it was designed to crush the (uncooperative) Taliban regime, in the knowledge that al-Qaeda would be displaced elsewhere to safety. Fighting a ‘war on terror’ against al-Qaeda had never been the real goal of the plans for a military invasion of Afghanistan, which had been formulated years before 9-11. Those plans were motivated by other strategic and economic interests. But the 9-11 terrorist attacks happened to provide a convenient and powerful pretext to implement those plans, as well as other geostrategic imperatives. [55]

In other words, the US created the threat and, through the resultant fear, the worldwide authoritarian means to pretend to deal with it while exercising the full scope of its imperial ambitions. This is why the US has more than 750,000 troops in at least 134 countries today.[56] Moreover, that the US knowingly harbored al-Qaeda cells throughout the 1990s and up to if not beyond 9-11 lends a new perspective to President Bush’s post-9-11 promise to “make no distinction between those who committed these terrible acts and those who harbor them.”

On September 16, 2001, Osama bin Laden issued a statement to Al Jazeera: “The US government has consistently blamed me for being behind every occasion its enemies attack it. I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks, which seems to have been planned by people for personal reasons.” [57] Evidence appears to support his contention that 9-11 was not a result of his orders, but rather a convenient outcome of manipulations of people within his sphere of influence by oil company representatives, intelligence services, and others in preceding years.

Speaking of Enron, it is Professor Peter Dale Scott’s opinion that the American people remain traumatized by the 2000 election, a crisis that was substantially influenced by Enron’s interests in Afghanistan. Enron paid Christian Coalition president Ralph Reed $500,000 to stop John McCain’s campaign, and was the biggest donor to the Bush campaign.[58] (Enron was also one of the largest donors to the Gore campaign.) It is plausible that 9-11 was on the table of persons other than Osama bin Laden, especially in light of revelations regarding 9-11 complicity of top-level American Airlines officials at its center in Fort Worth, Texas.[59]

Regardless, Professor Scott is correct in stating that:

We are living in an atmosphere which creates the possibility for minorities to govern acquiescent majorities. Covert power produces fallout similar to nuclear power: trained terrorists turn on their former trainers, the criminal complicity of governments which hinders prosecution of such people, and society’s overall corruption. The result is deep politics: the immersion of public political life in an immobilizing substratum of unspeakable scandal and bad faith, and the result in practice is 9-11. [60]

The fallout of training people how to blow things up and kill others gives them an upper hand, because secrets are shared that cannot be revealed in the homeland, in this case the US. All parties complicit agree not to implicate one another.

Americans had double agents in al-Qaeda and in the Project Bojinka group (the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf), which merged and melded with al-Qaeda from the very beginning. Double agents become triple agents, and their intermediaries are up to their own misdeeds or simply unable to report all the information to their superiors. All in all, with Enron’s stake in the Central Asian Republics [and Halliburton, Unocal, Chevron, et al] and the 2000 election, the best possible outcome for those who were put in office-“and setting conditions for the indefinite control of the majority in the US-“was 9-11, legitimizing entry into the region on a massive scale whether engineered or not. [61]

The Cold War phenomenon of a foreign policy driven more by domestic politics than concerns for national security has in the transition to “war on terror” become reversed: domestic policies are in large part driven today by the peripheral effects of and blowback from the rise to prominence of a grand neo-Manifest Destinarian vision. In the words of Bruce Cumings, “Not since McKinley seized the Philippines have we had a president who justifies his aggression by virtue of an open pipeline to God.” [62]

This points to an almost self-fulfilling prophecy or cultivation of an international terrorist threat as envisioned by the JCIT back in 1979, again, invented and then reinvented not to counter Soviet actions, but “useful for demonizing threats to the prevailing US-dominated capitalist economic system.” The crux of Philip Paull’s thesis is that the JCIT represented a precisely coordinated and globally oriented propaganda network for the purposes of selling a pretext for war. This is what the so-called “war on terror” really is, and Americans would not have accepted it without a massive media propaganda effort accompanying an attack against the United States, or with the kind of enlightenment about such tyrannical behavior that a truly competent education system should provide.

Democrat and Republican administrations have been equally complicit in using invented threats as cover for imperial expansion. No fundamental changes in this pattern have occurred as a result of the election of a new president-“ever. The current Bush administration has made the most effective use of the ideology of international terrorism; the only difference is the Soviet Union as the alleged sponsor has been replaced by the newly invented and CIA-approved transnational Islamist threat at taxpayer expense. This point is crucial: Power in the United States is conventionally believed to be derived from the consent of the governed, yet the governed have unknowingly paid the salaries of every Taliban leader and member (thus tacitly supported the immense suffering under their leadership), paid for Pakistani intelligence services, paid for pipeline surveys and construction, paid for CIA and Pentagon black operations and negotiations between US representatives and Taliban leaders, paid for every gun and bullet used in installing and removing them, and for everything throughout the Cold War and since that had nothing to do with promoting the general welfare.

This small story of Afghanistan is just the tip of the tyranny iceberg. For example, since abandoning the democratization of Japan in 1952 in favor of using it as a permanent military base, the US continues to pay Japan (and other nations) with the exportation of technology, and jobs lost in the US, in exchange for acquiescence to and support for the US military presence of some 100,000 troops in East Asia.

Nearly all of these wars and external threats are and have been for US economic gain in various regions of the world. Corporations feed on profits from conflict and the threat of conflict. In my research, I went looking for companies on the Pentagon payroll, expecting to find weapons manufacturers. But, in a stroke of lucrative genius, Dick Cheney had begun the outsourcing boom of every aspect of militarism to the private sector before leaving office in January 1993 by commissioning Halliburton to conduct a study on hiring firms to move US forces abroad rapidly. Halliburton itself responded by accepting the task of transporting troops to Somalia, and by subsequently hiring Cheney (who, while in public service, nevertheless continues to receive kickbacks from Halliburton [63]). The Clinton administration then fueled the boom with great zeal, hiring Halliburton to assist in outsourcing everything from milk shakes and missiles to all-beef patties with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on sesame-seed buns.[64]

During the Cold War with Russia, US weapons production was dispersed among the 50 states to motivate representatives to continually approve weapons programs for the sake of jobs in their respective states, however wasteful these weapons were for the taxpayer, however destructive they were to social progress. But from the 1990s outsourcing, I found more than 300,000 companies on the Pentagon payroll, including Campbell’s Soup, Avon Cosmetics, Bumble Bee Seafood, and Hallmark Cards. I also found more than 350 universities among these companies. San Diego city proper has 3,600 DOD-dependent companies, including 12 colleges.[65] In my town, Eugene, Oregon, there are 56 companies on the Pentagon payroll, including my school, University of Oregon. In Lowell, Oregon, with a population of 750 people, ten companies work for the Pentagon, and whether they make shovels, ladders, or gun barrels, that small town pulls in $1.5 million a year, making it a junior partner in the structure of dependence on militarism, not to mention less likely to question the aggressive actions of its government.[66] Moreover, many board members of the largest consumer product firms also sit on the boards of the largest media and defense corporations.[67]

America’s top industry since 1950 has been weapons. The US is addicted to conflict, and in a capitalist society, profits must escalate. Thus, it was remarkably profitable for the Bush administration to invent an “axis of evil” in a famous January 2002 speech, despite the complete falsehoods employed in doing so. By 2002, Iraq, as is now widely known, was a nation on its knees. Iran had undergone a twelve-year pro-democracy reformation in the wake of the Iran-Iraq war, with women performing a far greater role in society than ever before. North Korea had signed an agreement with the Clinton administration in 1994 that halted its nuclear ambitions, provided a window for reunification with South Korea, and would have led to the removal of US forces. [68]

Therein lies the reason for the Bush administration breaking of this agreement and the inclusion of North Korea in the “axis of evil” speech. With that one speech all three nations became external threats, alienating them immediately, and thus to an extent fulfilling Bush’s assertion that they are anti-American. In light of the fact that North Korea today insists on direct talks with Washington alone indicates that the issue for North Korea is about the breaking of the previous agreement. The fact that the US insists on bringing four additional nations into the discussion can thus be seen as an effort to legitimize the status quo (of US forces in South Korea, and the separation of North and South).

The recent US response to the testing of missiles by North Korea illustrates the extent to which deceit is employed in White House rhetoric to maintain military forces abroad. The rhetoric is designed to suggest that the world community is united with the Bush administration’s determination to maintain a military presence in South Korea, and that indeed it is North Korea that is refusing to be rational in joining the world community as a separate nation, while the previous (1994) agreement framework and the desire on the part of both North and South to reunify without the presence of US forces are rendered as non-issues. Even before the tests were over, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill asserted that not only were nations united against North Korea’s actions, but that North Korea was stubbornly refusing a rational solution, as if the previous agreement had never existed:

Just about every responsible country in the world weighed in against it-¦ So, the first thing they have done is to unite us all-¦. Well, the provocation is that-“you know, we put out, last September, a pretty in-depth agreement, an agreement in principle on how we could denuclearize North Korea, and, in return, they would be offered an open road into the international community. And, so, instead, they seem to want to go in another direction.

In reality, by breaking the 1994 agreement, it is the Bush administration that has chosen “another direction.” Moreover, out of the group of six nations the Bush administration has tasked to “settle” the situation-“aside from the US and North Korea itself-” two, Japan and South Korea, are essentially US military states, far from being capable of issuing opposing opinions on the matter; and the other two, China and Russia, are anything but united or aligned with the Bush administration’s position. This is well known, and Hill touches on it in his own statements, which, as seen between the lines and in light of statements by China and Russia, carry a heavy degree of condescension toward the two larger powers and attempts to force North Korea into “international organizations” that the US clearly dominates:

The six parties-“you know, originally, or-¦back in the 1990s, we were trying to deal with this bilaterally. And it was basically the US and North Korea. And the US and North Korea was not prepared, really, to reach agreement. So, Japan is a part of that. South Korea is part of that. China and Russia are all part of the six-party process. And the point is that when we reach settlement-“and I do believe that, at some point, we will reach a settlement-“all of these countries have a role to play. I mean, we are very concerned about this. The-“we have been talking to our South Korean allies, our Japanese allies. And we’re going to start having some in-depth discussions with the Chinese. And we’re going to see what we can do. Part of the draft, the September agreement, was that North Korea needs energy. Well, South Korea is going to be providing them energy. They need economic assistance. Japan was prepared, under the September agreement, to provide that kind of economic assistance. We’re prepared to help them-“help North Korea get into international organizations. [Emphasis mine.]

The US position, as seen in Hill’s comments, can also be seen as a pretext for pushing missile defense:

So, it is a provocation. I mean, we’re obviously going to have to be working with our partners about how to protect ourselves. After all, we had a little country firing off six missiles in different directions. You know, clearly, this is a threat to a number of countries in the region. So, we have to look at the whole issue of how to defend ourselves. [69]

Again, Bruce Cumings helps illustrate the dangers inherent in concentrating power in the hands of a few:
In a classic article in 1941, Harold Lasswell defined ‘the Garrison State’ as one in which ‘the specialists on violence are the most powerful group in society.’ North Korea is a classic garrison state, perhaps the best example in world history of a thoroughly militarized nation; this was their (unfortunate) answer to the defining crisis of the regime-“occupation by an American army. But we are also well advanced toward a national security-dominated system, making the country of the founding fathers unrecognizable above all to them. [70]

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