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State of the Nations II: War on terror

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State of the nations II The war on terror.

The first part of this essay introduced the theme of the unison between three of the larger global concerns – the economy, the war on terror and the environment. While looking at the economy necessitated turning to the military, the following look at the military necessitates a turn towards the military.

Back to the economy.

Any discussion of U.S. military efforts by necessity overlaps with economic and corporate interests around the world. Consider General Smedley Butler and his oft-quoted statement in the socialist newspaper Common Sense in 1935:

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.... Looking back on it, I felt I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents.

Butler's wars were not the first of the wars about money – in deed that was what the American Revolution was all about, the control of taxes and revenue – and it is what has had a huge impact in all the wars of the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries. Certainly World War II had other significant elements but the main impetus behind this and other wars was the imperial desire for power and control of resources and wealth. From Rome to Washington the lessons of history are oft repeated but never learned, as indicated by Paul Craig Roberts:

The Obama administration's belief that it can continue with Bush's wars of aggression while it engages in a massive economic bailout indicates a lack of seriousness about America's predicament. Rome eventually understood that its imperial frontiers exceeded its resources and pulled back. This realization has yet to dawn on Washington. [1]

On with the war.

Superficial appearances – the media glitz, the Hollywood glamour, the everyday spectacle of the U.S. citizen going about their free democratic lives in the sprawl of shopping malls and suburbia – hide the reality that the U.S. society is a militaristic one. The military budget of the U.S. is more than the total of all other countries combined - with a Pentagon budget of $711 billion equalling 48 per cent of global military budgets [2], but not including other items from areas such as the CIA and security departments as well as foreign aid to some countries that augment the military expenditures. Military bases span the globe with over 750 bases of some kind or another (I have read of up to more than a thousand but without reference) scattered across the world on land, while they have supreme dominance with air power globally from both land and sea based platforms, and have a tenuous equality of mutual nuclear destruction - although the neocons have tried to turn this into first strike pre-emptive nuclear capabilities. The U.S. command has divided the world into several command sectors, each with their own powerful 'proconsul' protecting the rights of the empire [3].

Yet for all this wealth and power, the U.S. military finds itself caught up in ineffective occupations of two other countries and through its own rhetoric and ignorance has alienated most of the rest of the world, exempting the few colonial hanger-ons such as Britain, Canada, and Australia, and including the full spectrum of the Muslim world. Where it is not occupying countries, it is supporting oligarchies, dictatorships, and autocrats in many other countries around the world, and in some areas where it matters least (as in Zimbabwe) doing nothing at all. It is pushing NATO well outside its original charter and its intended protective area into the Middle East and into Eastern Europe and the former states of southern Soviet Union. Having helped dismember Yugoslavia, the U.S. now has major bases set to control the Middle East's oil using camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, several bases in Iraq including the huge "embassy", and the Diego Garcia Islands, the British Colony more recently colonized by the U.S. military.

There are many compliant governments around the world. With its central concern and energies focussed on the Middle East, some Latin American countries have been freeing themselves from the yoke of the empire, only to find that they are so tied into the Washington Consensus financial systems with the IMF, WTO, and World Bank that it is a limited freedom. In the Middle East, most countries have some sort of supporting role with U.S. interests, three countries in particular stand out as being in full compliance with U.S. interests: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. All are supported financially by the U.S.; all receive armaments from the U.S. (in order to return that cash to where it originated and keep the U.S. economy healthier, but not that of the countries in need of aid); and all have interwoven ties supporting their own elitist powers in relations with Israel.

The roots of terror.

There always has been terror of some sort going on somewhere in the world, with the worst propagators being governments against their own people (American indigenous genocide, the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union) and governments against other peoples of the world in the name of empire and its rhetorical rationales of civilizing missions, modernization, free markets, and democracy. Most recently terror has been defined by the corporate media along the U.S. government lines that terrorists are essentially people of any kind who do not like what the U.S. is doing around the world, which at the moment makes most of the world into terrorists. While Obama has spoken much more of reconciliation and moving forward without looking back, and open dialogue, little has changed on the ground in affected countries.

The real roots of terror do not lie in the philosophical realm of "they hate us for what we stand for", but in the much more obvious though rarely accepted reality that it is western nations in particular that have occupied much of the world's land surface and controlled its waterways for much of the last two or three centuries. The colonial era has not gone away with the great movement forward for the independence of colonies around the world after WW II, but has morphed into a newer era of financial obligations (here comes the economy again) that tie most countries to the machinations of the IMF, WTO, World Bank, and the U.S. Treasury. Unfortunately for these countries, the "hidden fist" is what keeps those finances in place, ready to smack down any country that indicates it does not want to follow the edicts of the U.S. leaders.

Terror is an excuse, an excuse to continue occupying (or reoccupying) Middle East territories. The Middle East is not a monolithic block of western hating Muslims, but a highly varied area of different cultures, beliefs and resources. Terror is an excuse to project U.S. militarism to all realms of the earth including near space, and into the unknown realms of time, into the next century. The main protagonists of terror throughout the world have been the British with their empire, other European countries, and the United States. It is their desire for control, for wealth, for the sacred energy resources of oil and gas that has created the terror in other areas of the world. That this terror was once visited upon the U.S. in a spectacular, but by far not the worst, terror act in the world came as a surprise mainly to the citizens of the U.S. who are generally kept ignorant of U.S. atrocities overseas, or who are wilfully ignorant of it all so as to not disturb their comfortable consumptive utopia.

9/11 could have readily been foreseen. Its consequences, if scripts notated to bin Laden are to be believed, were also foreseen, with the U.S. embroiling itself in small wars and occupations that are helping to bleed its economy and resources even further than the economists have. For a very brief while, the U.S. had global sympathy against terror, but since then has done everything in its power to aggravate those sentiments and turned the U.S. into one of the most reviled countries in the world. Bin Laden's complaints were several: keep the infidels out of the holy land (Saudi Arabia in particular); kick the Russians out of Afghanistan; kick the Indians out of Kashmir; free the Palestinians from Israeli occupation; and to manipulate the U.S. into self-destructing by trapping it in ongoing low scale insurgencies in hostile territory. He has had much more success than the U.S. has seen so far with its Middle East goals.


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Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and analyst who examines the world through a syncretic lens. His analysis of international and domestic geopolitical ideas and actions incorporates a lifetime of interest in current events, a desire to (more...)

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