America's Permanent War Agenda
by Stephen Lendman
www. sjlendman.blogspot.com, March
Post-9/11, Dick Cheney warned of wars
that won't end in our lifetime. Former CIA Director James Woolsey
said America "is engaged in World War IV, and it could continue
for years....This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably
longer than either World Wars I or II did for us." GHW Bush
called it a "New World Order" in his September 11, 1990
address to a joint session of Congress as he prepared the public
for Operation Desert Storm.
The Pentagon called it the "long
war" in its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), what past
administrations waged every year without exception since the republic's
birth, at home and abroad. Obama is just the latest of America's
warrior presidents that included Washington, Madison, Jackson,
Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Wilson, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson,
Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, and GW Bush preceding him.
This article covers WW II and its aftermath
history of imperial wars for unchallengeable global dominance
throughout a period when America had and still has no enemies.
Then why fight them? Read on.
Wars Without End
America glorifies wars in the name of
peace, what historian Charles Beard (1874 - 1948) called "perpetual
war for perpetual peace" in describing the Roosevelt and
Truman administrations' foreign policies - what concerned the
Federation of American Scientists when it catalogued about 200
post-1945 conflicts in which America was, and still is, the aggressor.
Historian Gore Vidal used Beard's phrase
in titling his 2002 book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace"
"our rulers for more than half a
century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth
about anything that our government has done to other people, not
to mention our own."
In his 2002 book "Dreaming War,"
he compared GW Bush's imperial ambitions to WW II and the 1947
Truman Doctrine's pledge:
"To support free peoples who are
resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside
It was to keep Greece and Turkey from
going communist, but it applied globally and initiated America's
National Security State strategy that included:
-- NATO in 1949 for offense, not defense;
-- NSC-68 against Soviet Russia in 1950
to "contain" what was called an enemy "unlike previous
aspirants to hegemony....animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical
to our own (wishing to) impose its absolute authority over the
rest of the world" at a time America was the only global
superpower, the Soviet Union lay in ruins, threatened no one,
and needed years to regain normality.
-- Truman's instigated June 25, 1950 war
after the DPRK retaliated in force following months of ROK provocations,
what Americans call the Korean War, South Koreans the 6-2-5 War
(meaning June 25), and the North its "fatherland liberation
war" that left it in ruins, the South occupied to this day,
and it was only the mid-century beginning as succeeding administrations
continued an agenda for what's now called "full spectrum
dominance" for global US hegemony.
It worried historian Harry Elmer Barnes
(1889 - 1968) in his 1953 collection of leading historical revisionists'
essays titled, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: A Critical
Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
and It's Aftermath" in which he wrote in the preface:
"If trends continue as they have
during the last fifteen years, we shall soon reach this point
of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised
as noble gestures for peace. Such an era could only culminate
in a third world war which might well, as Arnold J. Toynbee has
suggested, leave only the pygmies in remote jungles, or even the
apes and ants, to carry on 'the cultural traditions' of mankind."
He cited how America's "needless"
entry into two world wars converted its pre-1914 dream "into
a nightmare of fear, regimentation, destruction, insecurity, inflation,
and ultimate insolvency." He debunked the cause and merits
of WW I, "the folly of our entering it, and the disastrous
results that followed." He cited "popular fictions"
about WW II, the injustices to Germany and Austria that caused
it, the war Roosevelt wanted early in the 1930s as captured Polish
documents and the censored Forrestal Diaries confirmed.
Before it began, he wanted US neutrality
legislation ended, then after September 1939, he dropped any pretense
by supporting Britain and France and opposing peace efforts after
Poland's defeat. His June 1940 "dagger in the back"
address was a de facto act of war by beginning vast amounts of
weapons and munitions shipments to Britain after Dunkirk, followed
by the September 1940 (peacetime) Selective Service Act, the first
in US history, in preparation for what close advisor Harry Hopkins
told Churchill in January 1941 that:
"The President is determined that
we shall win the war together. Make no mistake about it,"
followed by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold Stark telling
his fleet commanders that "The question of our entry into
the war now seems to be when, and not whether."
Only a pretext was needed, first by trying
and failing to provoke Germany, then deciding Japan would be attacked,
whether or not it struck US ships, territory, or forces in the
Pacific. In a July 4 radio broadcast, Roosevelt said:
"solemnly (understand) that the United
States will never survive as a happy and fertile oasis of liberty
surrounded by a cruel desert of dictatorship." Then his July
25 Executive Order froze Japanese assets, stating it was:
"....To prevent the use of the financial
facilities of the United States in trade between Japan and the
United States in ways harmful to national defense and American
interests, to prevent the liquidation in the United States of
assets obtained by duress or conquest, and to curb subversive
activities in the United States."
Britain followed suit the next day, and
Roosevelt nationalized the Philippines' armed forces "as
Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States"
with dominion over its Asian colony.
As early as 1937, he planned a naval blockade,
but dropped the idea after an adverse reaction. It resurfaced
in 1938 because he knew strangling Japan economically assured
Throughout his administration, from 1933
through late 1941, he spurned Japanese peace overtures that would
have protected all American interests in the Pacific. By November
25, the final die was cast. America chose war, and on that day,
War Secretary Henry Stimson wrote in his diary that it depended
only on how to maneuver Japan to attack with the lowest number
of US casualties.
Tokyo had no other recourse, knowing it
couldn't win, but hoping for a negotiated settlement to solidify
whatever Asian control it could retain. It failed, lost the war,
and remains an occupied US vassal state.
In the late 1930s, Roosevelt encouraged
a Japanese attack by stationing the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor
against the advice of two key admirals, James Richardson, Pacific
Fleet commander and Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations until
Selling arms to Japan's enemies and an
embargo assured war, and US cable documentation confirmed it was
coming. Breaking the Japanese code let Britain and Washington
track its fleet from the Kurile Islands to its North Pacific refueling
point en route to Pearl Harbor on or about December 7.
At a December 5 cabinet meeting, Navy
Secretary Frank Knox said: "Well, you know Mr. President,
we know where the Japanese fleet is?"
"Yes, I know," responded Roosevelt,
saying "Well, you tell them what it is Frank," who explained
where it was, where it was heading until Roosevelt interrupted
adding that perfect information wasn't available in spite of navy
reports confirming it in Pacific waters heading toward Hawaii.
On December 6, officials awaited the attack until it came the
next morning at 7:55AM Hawaii time.
It was a day of infamy and deceit, with
Pearl Harbor's commander, Admiral HE Kimmel, denied crucial intelligence
to let it proceed unimpeded, arouse public anger, and give FDR
his war - one decoded Japanese messages showed they didn't want
but Roosevelt gave them no choice.
Like other presidents, he lied the country
into war against the wishes of 80% of the public, at a cost of
millions of lives in both theaters, and a policy henceforth of
perpetual wars for perpetual peace to achieve unchallengeable
US dominance. In the modern era, FDR's foreign policy began it,
leaving a bankrupted moral and political legacy active to this
Consider also what revisionist historians
say about Lincoln - that he provoked the Fort Sumpter (in Charleston,
SC harbor) attack and began the Civil War for economic reasons,
not to end slavery.
Consider also that ordinary people and
soldiers don't want war, just their leaders and commanders - to
wit, Christmas 1914 during WW I when German and British troops
stopped fighting, didn't know why they were doing it, then defied
orders by fraternizing with each other for two weeks despite risking
being court-martialed. Unable to stop them, their officers joined
them in a celebratory pause that didn't stop another three years
of carnage, millions of lost lives, and post-war policies that
assured WW II.
The lesson is clear. All wars are immoral,
unnecessary, and only happen when one side provokes the other
for reasons unrelated to national security threats.
In his seminal book, "A Century of
War," Gabriel Kolko called the 20th century:
"the bloodiest in all history. More
than 170 million people were killed," 70% of whom in WW II
were civilians, "mainly (from) the bombing of cities by Great
Britain and America." There was nothing good about "the
good war" nor any others.
In Kolko's later book "Another Century
of War," he stressed how America contributes to much of the
world's disorder through its interventions and as the world's
largest arms producer and exporter. Post-WW II, the US became
a global menace, today claiming "terrorism" as the main
threat - a bogus fiction to justify militarism, perpetual wars
heading the nation for moral, political and economic bankruptcy.
According to Kolko:
"The way America's leaders are running
the nation's foreign policy is not creating peace or security
at home or stability abroad. The reverse is the case: its interventions
have been counterproductive."
In his newest book, "The World in
Crisis," Kolko believes that America's decline "began
after the Korean War, was continued in relation to Cuba, and was
greatly accelerated in Vietnam - but (GW Bush did) much to exacerbate
it further." He also thinks:
-- US power is declining everywhere;
-- "the world is no longer dependent
on its economic might" because other nations like China and
India are growing and may some day equal or surpass America;
-- after the Soviet Union's collapse,
"the absence of identifiable foes has been a disaster, leaving
the US aimless - (so) it picks and chooses enemies: rag-tag Afghan
tribesmen, Iraqis or all sorts, perhaps China, perhaps Russia....South
American caudillos," whatever bogus ones can be invented
for imperial wars, but the justification is wearing thin, and
the burgeoning cost unsustainable.
The result is that America's "century
of domination is now ending."
America's Permanent War Economy
It's how Seymour Melman (1917 - 2004)
characterized it in his books and frequents writings on America's
military-industrial complex. One of his last articles was titled
"In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy (CounterPunch, March
15, 2003) in which he said:
"at the start of the twenty-first
century, every major aspect of American life is being shaped by
our Permanent War Economy." He then examined the horrific
-- a de-industrialized nation, the result
of decades of shifting production abroad leaving unions and communities
-- government financing and promoting
"every kind of war industry and foreign investing by US firms;"
war priorities take precedence over essential homeland needs;
-- America's "Permanent War Economy....has
endured since the end of World War II....Since then the US has
been at war - somewhere - every year, in Korea, Nicaragua, Vietnam,
the Balkans, Afghanistan - all this to the accompaniment of shorter
military forays in Africa, Chile, Grenada, Panama," and increasingly
at home against its own people;
-- "how to make war" takes precedence
over everything leaving no "public space....on how to improve
the quality of our lives;"
-- "Shortages of housing have caused
a swelling of the homeless population in every major city (because)
State and city governments across the country have become trained
to bend to the needs of the military....;" the Chicago Coalition
for the Homeless (CCH) currently estimates over 21,000 are on
city streets nightly, and during winter months it's dangerous;
-- the result is a nation of growing millions
of poor, disadvantaged, uneducated, and "disconnected from
society's mainstream, restless and unhappy, frustrated, angry,
"State Capitalism" characterizes
America's government - business partnership running a war economy
for greater power and wealth at the expense of a nation in decline,
corrupted leadership, lost industrialization, crumbling infrastructure,
and suffering millions on their own, uncared for, unwanted, ignored,
Melman stressed that:
"Further evasion is out of order.
We must come to grips with America's State Capitalism and its
Permanent War Economy." Re-industrialization is essential
"to restore jobs and production competence - industry by
"Failing that, there is no hope for
any constructive exit," for the nation or its people.
Dwight Eisenhower's January 17, 1961 Address
to the Nation
It was his farewell address delivered
30 years to the day before Operation Desert Storm began in which
he warned about the "military-industrial complex," citing
the "grave implications" of a "coalition of the
military and industrialists who profit by manufacturing arms and
selling them to the government."
He stated "we must guard against
the acquisition of unwarranted influence....by the military-industrial
complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power
exists and will persist."
He also said that:
"Every gun that is made, every war
ship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense,
a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who
are cold and not clothed," the result of what some analysts
call the "iron triangle" of Congress, the Pentagon,
and the defense industry that includes producers of sophisticated
technology for digital age warfare of a kind Eisenhower never
In combination, they've addicted America
to war, not for threats, but for the power and profits that result.
In his book "The Political Economy of US Militarism,"
Professor Ismael Hossein-Zadeh refers to "parasitic military
imperialism," consuming over 40% of the national tax revenue
at the expense of unmet human needs.
Morality aside, it's not justified economically.
It's wasteful, inefficient, comes at a great cost, and over time
is ineffective and self-destructive.
"The control over huge amounts of
national resources tends to lead to an undermining of democratic
values, a perversion of republican principles and a reduction
of civil freedoms, as well as to the political corruption at home
and abroad." Moreover, "The constant need for international
conflicts makes (America's) military imperialism....more dangerous
than the imperial powers of the past."
It's made war-making a giant enterprise
"not only for expansionism but, in fact, for the survival
of this empire," yet consider the fallout Hossein-Zadeh examined
in a July 10, 2007 article titled, "Parasitic Imperialism:"
-- the redistribution of income and resources
to the wealthy;
-- the undermining of physical and human
-- the nation's increased vulnerability
to natural disasters;
-- economic and financial instability,
the result of the growing national debt now totally out of control;
-- less foreign market potential for non-military
-- the undermining of civil liberties
and democratic values; and
-- "foster(ing) a dependence on or
addiction to military spending, and, therefore....a spiraling
vicious circle of (unsustainable) war and militarism" that's
sucking the nation into decline.
America's Post-WW II Imperial Grand Strategy
Post-WW II, America emerged as the world's
sole superpower - economically, politically and militarily, given
the war's toll on East Asia, Europe and Soviet Russia. In his
book, "The Cold War and the New Imperialism," Professor
Henry Heller examined it with emphasis on the Cold War, America's
containment policy, and its efforts against leftist forces in
support of fascist elements on the right at both state and local
The Soviet Union controlled Eastern and
Central Europe while Mao's War of Liberation defeated Chiang Kai-Shek
Nationalists. Cold War confrontation followed. It pitted US imperialism
against an opposing ideology, the aim being which side would triumph
or could both co-exist peacefully and avoid conflict.
War was never an option given each side's
nuclear strength under a policy of "mutually assured destruction
(MAD)". In addition, post-Stalinist Russia began reforms
and expanded its sphere of influence. It wasn't to destroy the
West, but to co-exist equally. America and Soviet Russia only
competed for developing country allies to keep them from the opposing
camp, so neither would be dominated by the other or more vulnerable
to being isolated, marginalized, or shut out from world markets
US Imperialism Post-WW II
James Petras and others have said behind
every imperial war is a great lie, the more often repeated the
more likely to be believed because ordinary people want peace,
not conflict, so it's vital to convince them.
In the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration
overthrew two popularly elected governments in Iran and Guatemala,
and sought greater influence in Africa and Southeast Asia as anti-colonial
movements gained strength.
On January 1, 1959 Fidel Castro's socialist
revolution ousted the US-backed Batista dictatorship. He then
survived America's failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, but faced
decades of US hostility, including an embargo, destabilization,
intimidation, and hundreds of attempts to kill him, unsuccessful
so Cuba is still free from US dominance, but hardly safe from
its northern hegemon.
In the 1950s, America also backed French
Southeast Asian imperialism until defeat at Dien Bien Phu drove
them out. A repressive South Vietnamese client regime was established
at the same time, supported by US military advisors teaching war
and repression tactics. Unifying North and South elections were
blocked, and direct intervention began in 1961. In 1958, Washington
also subverted Laotian democracy and incited civil war. Cambodia
as well was targeted but remained free.
Early in his administration, Kennedy intervened,
but a new James Douglass book titled "JFK and the Unspeakable:
Why He Died and Why It Matters" says without conviction because
he opposed using force. After the Joint Chiefs demanded troops
for Laos, he told his Geneva Conference representative, Averell
"Did you understand? I want a negotiated
settlement in Laos. I don't want to put troops in."
He wouldn't agree to using nuclear weapons
in Berlin and Southeast Asia and refused to bomb or invade Cuba
during the 1962 missile crisis, saying afterwards that "I
never had the slightest intention of doing so."
In June 1963 (a few months before his
assassination), he called for the abolition of nuclear weapons,
ending the Cold War, and moving forward for "general and
complete disarmament." In October 1963, he signed National
Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263 to withdraw 1,000 US forces
from Vietnam by year end and all of them by 1965. He said he wanted
"to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it
to the winds." He wanted peace, not conflicts. It cost him
his life, and future presidents got the message.
Johnson resumed Southeast Asian escalation
to establish client regimes and military bases across East and
South Asia, encircle China, and crush nationalist anti-imperial
movements. The Indochinese war engulfed Cambodia and Laos as well
under Johnson and Nixon. It killed three to four million, inflicted
vast amounts of destruction, caused incalculable human suffering,
got America to sign a peace treaty in January 1973, but war continued
until its clients were defeated in April 1975.
Prior to Reagan's election, the "Vietnam
syndrome" and easing Cold War tensions and disarmament efforts
alarmed militarists to fear defense spending cuts detrimental
to profits. A propaganda campaign exaggerated bogus threats, manipulated
intelligence to heighten fear, and got the Reagan administration
to approve large military spending increases to confront "Soviet
expansionism" at a time it was transitioning from Brezhnev,
Andropov, and Chernenko to Gorbachev in 1985, followed by perestroika
in 1986, glasnost in 1988, border openings and the Berlin Wall's
collapse in 1989, then the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991
- a new threat militarists feared would bring large, not to be
tolerated, defense budgets cuts.
In the late 1980s, however, leading figures,
including Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington,
and Albert Wohlstetter alleged Third World conflicts threatened
US interests in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Western Pacific,
and recommended deterrence to stop them. Joint Chiefs Chairman
Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney agreed. Others
wanted large defense cuts for a peace dividend, including Johnson's
DOD chief Robert McNamara who proposed reductions up to 50%.
Throughout the 1989 - 1999 period, mostly
under Bill Clinton, US-instigated provocations, sanctions, and
armed insurrections support involved America in 134 military operations
according to the Federation of American Scientists. The most egregious
was Clinton's bombing and dismemberment of Yugoslavia, an act
playwright Harold Pinter called:
"barbaric" and despicable, "another
blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile"
to consolidate "American domination of Europe." Worse
was yet to come with the election of George Bush, America's worst
president in a country that never had a good one and never will
as it's now governed.
Long before 9/11, Middle East restructuring
plans were based on bogus terrorist, rogue state, and "clash
of civilizations" threats by hordes of Islamofascists, including
the Palestinian resistance, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and
Saddam Hussein targeted in the 1990 - 91 Gulf War, followed by
years of devastating sanctions, then ousted by GW Bush in 2003.
Iraq was destroyed, occupied and balkanized.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran face similar threats, the common
thread being dominating Eurasia through endless conflicts and
increased military spending for war profiteering bounties. September
11 assured it, and got Michelle Ciarocca of the Arms Trade Resource
Center, in September 2002 to say:
"The whole mind set of military spending
changed on Sept. 11. The most fundamental thing about defense
spending is that threats drive (it). It's now going to be easier
to fund almost anything."
Hossein-Zadeh investigated the growing
role of private contractors creating a "built-in propensity
to war that makes the US military-industrial complex a menace
to world peace and stability, a force of death and destruction,"
as virulent under Obama as George Bush.
The fallout includes a burgeoning national
debt, loss of civil liberties and democratic freedoms, erosion
of social services, collapse of the dollar, America already in
decline, its coming loss of preeminence as a world power, its
potential bankruptcy, perhaps demise in its present form. and
the possibility of WW III.
America's Illegal Wars of Aggression -
The "Supreme Crime"
All US post-WW II conflicts were premeditated
wars of aggression against nations posing no threat to America
- what Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg called:
the "supreme international crime
differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within
itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Canadian Law Professor Michael Mandel
explained America's guilt in his superb 2004 book, "How America
Gets Away with Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes
Against Humanity," his main theme being Jackson's Nuremberg
"supreme crime" declaration, as relevant now as then.
Tragically, as Edward Herman observed
in reviewing Mandel's book:
"The problem for the United States
(and the world) has been that this country is now in the business
of aggression and its commission of the "supreme crime"
is standard policy, thereby bringing the "scourge of war"
across the globe in direct violation of the UN charter."
Its Purposes and Principles state that:
"The Purposes of the United Nations
(1) To maintain international peace and
security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures
for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for
the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the
peace, and to bring by peaceful means, and in conformity with
the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or
settlement of international disputes or situations which might
lead to a breach of the peace."
Conspiratorially with NATO and Israel,
America willfully and repeatedly violates international and US
laws, punishes its victims, absolves itself, and since WW II has
directly or indirectly murdered millions of people globally, mostly
Barack Obama - America's New Warrior President
America glorifies conflicts and the righteousness
of waging them, packaged as liberating ones for democracy, freedom,
justice, and the best of all possible worlds. Obama is just the
latest in a long line of warrior leaders promising peace by waging
war, justifying them by bogus threats, and calling pacifism unpatriotic
to further an imperial agenda for greater wealth, power, and unchallengeable
In opposition to his announced Afghanistan
surge, peace activists gathered across from the White House on
December 12 for an "Emergency Anti-Escalation Rally"
organized by "End US Wars"- a new coalition of grassroots
Speakers included Kathy Kelly, David Swanson,
Granny D (age 100 on January 24, 2010) former Senator Mike Gravel
(1969 - 1981), and former Representative and 2008 Green Party
presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, among others.
This writer was asked to prepare a short
commentary to be read to the crowd. Updated, it's reproduced below:
Obama's Permanent War Strategy
Disingenuously calling Afghanistan a "war
of necessity, not choice," Obama ordered 30,000 more troops
deployed over the next six months with perhaps many more to follow.
In one of his most defining decisions, he's more than doubled
the force count since taking office, angered a majority in the
country, and continues his permanent war agenda while calling
himself a man of peace.
Next target, Yemen, and its newest, occupied
Haiti for plunder, exploitation, and very likely killing unwanted
Haitians by neglect, starvation, disease, and face-to-face confrontations
if they resist.
As a candidate, Obama campaigned against
imperial militarism, promised limited escalation only, and pledged
to remove all combat troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. That
was then. This is now, and consider what he has in mind - the
permanent occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and more.
Besides the Afghan escalation, he's also
destabilizing Pakistan to balkanize both countries, weakening
them to control the Caspian Sea's oil and gas riches and their
energy routes to secured ports for export. The strategy includes
encircling Russia, China, and Iran, obstructing their solidarity
and cohesion, defusing a feared geopolitical alliance, weakening
the Iranian government, perhaps attacking its nuclear sites, eliminating
Israel's main regional rival, and securing unchallenged Eurasian
dominance over this resource rich part of the world that includes
China, Russia, the Middle East, and Indian subcontinent.
Like George Bush, Obama plans permanent
war and more military spending than all other nations combined
at a time America has no enemies. He promised change and betrayed
us. Grassroots activism must stop this madness and make America
a nation again to be proud of. The alternative is too grim to
Over 50 years ago, Bertrand Russell (1872
- 1970) warned:
"Shall we put an end to the human
race, or shall mankind renounce war" and live in peace, because
we have no other choice.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate
of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago
and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his
blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and Peace page