Oil Politics and U.S. Militarism
in the Middle East - Irene Gendzier
The Geopolitics of Plan Colombia - James Petras and Morris Morley
American Militarism and Blowback - Chalmers Johnson
excerpted from the book
Masters of War
Militarism and Blowback in
the Era of American Empire
edited by Carl Boggs
Routledge, 2003, paper
Oil Politics and U.S. Militarism in the
by Irene Gendzier
From Oil Dependency to Diversification
Barely a month after the September 11
attacks, Business Week reminded readers that the U.S. economy
was ailing and that the country was more vulnerable to an "oil
shock," a reference to the feared hike in oil prices, than
it had been at the time of the first Gulf War. The reason was
to be found in diminished global reserves, the combined product
of U.S. sanctions on Libya and Iran, and "tight national
budgets in oil-producing nations." The same journal warned
its readers that oil accounted for "40% of the nation's energy."
In that light, it recommended diversification of U.S. sources
given that the country was importing "51.6% of its oil needs
and relies on OPEC for about half of that-roughly 26% of total
consumption." The eleven oil-producing states represented
in OPEC, in turn, accounted for roughly two thirds of the world's
crude oil exports, with Saudi Arabia responsible for 7.8 millions
of barrels per day, or 18.9 percent of the "world share"
according to a November 2001 estimate. Considered in other terms,
Saudi Arabia exported 7.8 millions of barrels per day, followed
by Venezuela at 2.7 million barrels per day, Iran at 2.6 million
barrels per day, United Arab Emirates at 2.2 million barrels per
day, and Iraq at 2.1 millions barrels per day. Among non-OPEC
states, Russian production stood at 4.3 million barrels per day,
with an estimated 10.4 percent of the world's output, according
to the same source.
The short history of U.S. policy in the Middle East confirms the
centrality of oil and its role in justifying U.S. intervention.
The succession of presidential "doctrines" from Eisenhower
to Carter to Bush II leaves no doubt as to U.S. commitment to
use force in securing its interests, including "regime change."
That is precisely what was done in Iran in 1953, when as a result
of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh's nationalization
of the Anglo-Iranian oil company, the U.S. and U.K. collaborated
in a covert coup to bring down that regime. It was replaced by
the Shah, who remained in power until 1979. In 1956 the British
and French, along with Israel, invaded Egypt in response to Nasser's
nationalization of the Suez Canal Company. Two years later, President
Eisenhower resisted the British prime minister's call to intervene
in Iraq, where revolution brought down the Hashemite monarchy
and the entire political edifice on which it rested, which was
a product of the British mandate and continuing British power.
Within hours of that event, Eisenhower called for U.S. troops
to intervene in Lebanon, then in the midst of its first civil
war, while also backing British intervention in Jordan. U.S. action
in Lebanon, preceding the events in Baghdad, was designed to assure
the emergence of a politically reliable leadership that excluded
the socialist Kamal Jumblatt. His leadership, U.S. oil companies
feared, would put the U.S. pipeline (TAPLINE) that carried Aramco's
oil to the Mediterranean at some risk.
Further East, the U.S. was supporting
counterrevolutionary policies in the Arabian peninsula in a covert
campaign that attracted little attention in the U.S. The U.S.
not only armed its allies in Saudi Arabia, but by the early 1970s,
Kuwait, North Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab
Emirates had also become eligible to receive U.S. military assistance.
"Everyone has heard of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in
1961," wrote Fred Halliday in a major work on the Arabian
peninsula, "but not its Arabian counterpart-the September
1972 attack on South Yemen, when thousands of right-wing exiles
and their tribal allies hurled themselves against the boundaries
of the beleaguered anti-imperialist republic." The U.S. relied
on Iran during the 1973 oil crisis to send some 10,000 troops
into Dhofar province in Oman in order to crush its guerrilla movement.
Iran was active in support of U.S. policy outside of the Middle
East as well in this period, as the Shah's support for U.S. military
action in Vietnam made clear.
With the fall of the Shah in 1979 and
the emergence of the Khomeini regime in Teheran, Washington's
calculations concerning the Middle East underwent a major shock
but its objectives did not change. In supporting the repressive
regime of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. used Iraq to contain Iran's
influence in the Arabian peninsula and the Middle East, a policy
the Saudis actively promoted. To that end Washington, along with
its allies and other states with compatible interests, supported
Baghdad in the long and bloody war that ensued between 1980 and
These were the very years singled out
in the U.S. State Department's information sheet on Iraq's "Crimes
Against Humanity." As the statement indicated, the Iraqi
dictator "ordered the use of chemical weapons against Iranian
forces in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, and against Iraq's Kurdish
population in 1988. The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war left 150,000 to
340,000 Iraqis and 450,000 to 730,000 Iranians dead." It
was in this very period, between 1981 and 1988, that both Iran
and Iraq received arms from foreign sources, including the U.S.,
the Soviet Union, and France, with North Korea and Israel providing
arms to Iran. Assessments of this arms traffic demonstrate, however,
that "between 1981 and 1988 Iraq received 77 percent of the
arms delivered to the two belligerents (in dollar terms) while
Iran received only 23 percent."
It was in the period 1985-1992, according
to Henry Gonzalez, former chairman of the House Banking Committee,
that the U.S. Commerce Department "approved at least 220
export licenses for the Iraqi armed forces, major weapons complexes,
and enterprises identified by the CIA as diverting technology
to weapons programs." Former deputy Defense Undersecretary
Stephen Bryen reported on the same occasion that the U.S. encouraged
its "companies to go to Iraq and do business there, and a
lot of that was sold was going right into the military programs."
As Bryen said: "the [Bush] administration's policy was to
support Saddam Hussein, and not to look backwards, not to look
sideways, look straight ahead and give him what he wanted. We
coddled him, we supported him, he was 'our guy.' And just because
he was building missiles, or just because he had a nuclear potential-the
CIA warned about that, we know that now for sure-didn't matter.
They simply didn't care.
Details of the "U.S. Chemical and
Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their
Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Gulf War,"
known as the Riegle Report, were issued by Donald W. Riegle, Jr.,
chairman, and Alfonse D'Amato, ranking member of the Senate Committee
on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration,
on May 25,1994. According to the Riegle Report, "records
available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the
present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning disease
producing), toxigenic (meaning poisonous), and other biological
research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application
and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce."
More recently, The New York Times reported
on previously undisclosed aspects of the covert U.S. program carried
out under the Reagan administration, indicating that it "provided
Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American
intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ
chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq
war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge
of the program." These sources revealed the following: "Though
senior officials of the Reagan administration publicly condemned
Iraq's employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX and other poisonous
agents, the American military officers said President Reagan,
Vice President George Bush and senior national security aides
never withdrew their support for the highly classified program
in which more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency
were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments,
tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage
assessments for Iraq." Further, it was apparent that Defense
intelligence officers recognized Iraq had used chemical weapons
in the Fao Peninsula, which was attacked with U.S. "planning
assistance" in 1988. The Pentagon's response was a tolerant
one: "It was just another way of killing people-whether with
a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference," as
a representative of the military said."
As the April 14, 2002, issue of Newsweek
in 2002 indicated, "It is hard to believe that, during most
of the 1980s, America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy
Commission to import bacterial cultures that might be used to
build biological weapons. But it happened." With Iraq's invasion
of Kuwait on August 1,1990, U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein
underwent a dramatic shift-the record of which has yet to be made
public. "Air Force sources said the allies dropped about
1,200 tons of explosives in 518 sorties against 28 oil targets.
The intent, they said, was "the complete cessation of refining
[in Iraq] without damaging most crude oil production." Targets
included "major storage tanks; the gas/oil separators through
which crude oil must pass on its way to refineries; the distilling
towers and catalytic crackers at the heart of modern refineries;
and the critical K2 pipeline junction near Beiji that connects
northern oil fields, an export pipeline to Turkey and a reversible
north-south pipeline inside Iraq." Iraq's three major refineries
in Daura, Basra, and Beiji were bombed.
The U.S.-Uzbekistan military connection was developed as early
as 1995. In 1997 military exercises were held in Kazakhstan involving
U.S. troops as well as military forces from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,
and Russia. In 1998 Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, along with
the Ukraine and Belarus, were integrated into the U.S. military
command in Europe, while in 1999 military exercises were held
by joint U.S. and Uzbek forces. In the same year, "Turkmenistan,
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the lesser relevant non-Caspian basin
nations of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were added to the U.S. Central
Command's (CENTCOM) area of responsibility."
The State Department estimated that U.S.
aid in 1998-2000 to states in the Caspian region, including Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
and Uzbekistan, was "an astonishing $1.06 billion, of which
$ 175 million was intended for regional security, arms transfers,
nonproliferation activities, and military training." Of course
this was not the only source of support: an analysis published
in the 1999 Strategic Review confirmed that indeed "the United
States' greatest tool is financial leverage. The dollar counts.
The U.S. wields this powerful tool through its Overseas
Private Investment Corporation (OPIC),
the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM Bank), and the Trade Development
In a critical letter addressed to the Speaker of the House and
the Senate in 1998, then Majority Leader Newt Gingrich and Trent
Lott, and former members of the State and Defense Departments,
as well as a former CIA director, combined their efforts to call
for the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime. The group included
Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams,
and others. Among the reasons offered was that Hussein risked
adversely influencing the "Middle East peace process."
What the same letter never disclosed was that some of its signatories
were actually opposed to the "peace process," at least
as the term was routinely understood. Their views on both Iraq
and Israel emerged more clearly in other contexts, as in the private
institutions and think tanks that functioned as informal lobbying
groups in Washington. One of them, to which most of the above
letter writers belonged, was PNAC, or Project for the New American
PNAC was described as a "non-profit
educational organization whose goal is to promote American global
leadership." Its chair was William Kristol, editor of the
neoconservative Weekly Standard, joined by Gary Schmitt, executive
director of the organization. Along with a host of other compatible
institutions, such as the Institute for National Security Affairs,
the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Washington
Institute, the Middle East Forum, and the Center for Security
Policy, these institutions and think tanks acted as lobbying groups
giving voice to past political insiders, some of whom were in
Washington during the years between Reagan and Clinton. Of these
a number assumed official positions in the Bush administration,
while others remained on the margins of officialdom-though scarcely
without influence derived from their connections.
Although describing itself as a Jerusalem-based
think tank with an office in Washington, the Institute for Advanced
Strategic and Political Studies should be included in this group.
Richard Perle and Douglas Feith were among its advisers at a time
when the Institute produced an important study on the Middle East
for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Institute's
"Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000"
was chaired by Perle,' at the time a member of the American Enterprise
Institute. He was joined by Feith, Jonathan Torop, and James Colbert,
among others: the last two were, respectively, members of the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Jewish Institute
for National Security Affairs. Perle became Chairman of the Defense
Policy Board in the Bush Administration, while Feith was appointed
<t Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in July 2001. ,^
Akiva Eldar, Israeli columnist for the
daily Ha'aretz, recalled that Perle and Feith had been asked to
advise Likud leader Netanyahu when he first became Prime Minister.
The result of their efforts was a working paper produced by the
Institute in 1998. "They could not have known," Eldar
wrote, "that four years later the working paper they prepared,
including plans for Israel to help restore the Hashemite throne
in Iraq, would shed light on the current policies of the only
superpower in the world." That superpower would then unabashedly
endorse the policies of the Israeli Right, justifying such support
in the name of "peace," the nature of which was clearly
articulated in the Institute's paper.
In spring 2002, William Kristol appeared before the House International
Relations Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia to urge the
U.S.-Saudi connection be revamped and its OPEC leverage undermined.
In addition, he supported a U.S. invasion and control of Iraq,
where the U.S. could proceed with "regime change" to
construct a decent Iraqi society and economy that would be a "tremendous
step toward reducing Saudi leverage." Writing in The New
American Century on May 2002, the PNAC executive director Gary
Schmitt reinforced this position. "From a military and strategic
perspective, Iraq is more important than Saudi Arabia," he
maintained, advocating a U.S. invasion of Iraq as a way of "building
a representative government in Baghdad [that] would demonstrate
that democracy can work in the Arab world."
The Geopolitics of Plan Colombia
by James Petras and Morris Morley
Conclusion: "Misdiagnoses" and
Plan Colombia originated as a typical
example of an imperial power pouring arms and money to prop up
loyal client regimes that rely on coercion (military and paramilitary
forces) and political-economic allies who appropriate land and
dispossess peasant families. The armed forces depend on conscripts
with no stake in the outcome of the struggle and on trained, loyal,
promotion-oriented military professionals unfamiliar with the
terrain of struggle and lacking any rapport with the peasantry.
The large-scale destruction of crops and villages has little attraction
for normal recruits, which is why the military has increasingly
relied on hired paramilitary assassins to carry out the "dirty
war." The paramilitary formations recruit a limited number
of uprooted peasant youth but Plan Colombia provokes fear and
flight among the overwhelming majority of peasant communities.
For reasons of history, biography, and social-economic background,
it is unlikely that the paramilitary forces in the future will
be able to match the FARC/ELN in securing new recruits.
The continuing and deepening war under
Uribe means greater U.S. military engagement. Pentagon advisors
are teaching and directing high-tech warfare, providing operational
leadership in close proximity to the battlefield. State Department
and White House officials extend operational bases to new regions,
creating new garrison bases destined to become new targets of
the guerrilla forces. If the Colombian forces are not up to the
task of defending the forward bases from which U.S. advisors operate,
that will be used as a pretext to send more U.S. troops to protect
the bases-the beginning link in a chain leading to greater U.S.
ground troop engagement.
While serious questions may be raised
about the degree and depth of future U.S. military involvement,
there is no question that Plan Colombia under the Uribe government
means total war and that it will result in large-scale civilian
casualties and further undermining of the Colombian economy. The
nation's treasury is drained to finance the war, notwithstanding
Uribe's new war tax. The increased air and land war provokes a
massive increase in refugees and destabilizes regional (and ultimately
national) economies. Refugee camps have frequently become hotbeds
for radical politics-the politics of the uprooted. Drug, contraband,
and other criminal activity will flourish, straining the capacity
of border policing by neighboring countries. History teaches us
that the U.S. will not be able to localize the effects of its
Contrary to assertions by White House
policymakers and Plan Colombia's ideological defenders, the so-called
narco-guerrillas and peasant coca growers are not the Andean nation's
most prominent drug traffickers. These two groups receive less
than 10 percent of total drug earnings because they only produce
and tax the raw materials. The major financial beneficiaries are
those engaged in processing the coca leaves, in commercializing
the product for the export market, and in the laundering of drug
profits. The real powers and beneficiaries of the narcotics traffic-the
bankers and business elite-are all strategic U.S. allies in the
counterrevolutionary war. The drug routes across the Caribbean
and Central America to the U.S. mainland pass through important
client regimes with official backing.
What confronts the U.S. in Colombia is
a potential problem that even a hegemonic imperial state cannot
control: the long-term, unanticipated, and often adverse, effects
of its involvement in overseas (especially covert) operations.
Throughout the Cold War era, strategic Third World allies and
anti-Communist clients were longtime recipients of extensive military/covert
assistance and training. Many ultimately turned against their
imperial patron. Colombia presents a similar "blowback"
potential in the post-Cold War era. The narco drug traffickers
who buy the coca leaves, process the paste, and turn out the final
product (powder) are typically either working with or members
of paramilitary groups, high military officials, landowners, bankers,
and other respectable capitalists who launder drug money as investments
in real estate, construction, and other profitable "legitimate"
businesses, or through multinational private banks in the United
States and Europe. Key U.S. political allies in Colombia and influential
economic elites located in the centers of American finance capital
are the major players in the narcotics trade that undermines the
fundamental ideology of Washington's Plan Colombia and reveals
its true, imperial underpinning.
As the breach between U.S. anti-drug ideology
and its links to the narcomilitary/paramilitary forces becomes
clearer, the emergence of a large-scale domestic opposition movement
in the United States remains a future prospect. Meanwhile, today
in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and the rest of Latin America-exposed
to the full brunt of the war to save the empire-the advance of
the revolutionary struggle in Colombia has revealed contradictions
that cut right through their societies and extend beyond, into
the world economic order, with profound implications both for
their future and for the trajectory of U.S. imperial rule.
American Militarism and Blowback
by Chalmers Johnson
The suicidal bombers of September 11, 2001 did not "attack
America", as United States' political leaders and news media
want to maintain; they attacked American foreign policy.
Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw
attention to the sins of the invulnerable. The United States deploys
such overwhelming military force globally that for its militarized
opponents only an "asymmetric strategy," to use the
jargon of the Pentagon-that is, a David-and-Goliath-type contest-has
any chance of success. Like judo, it depends on unbalancing the
enemy and using his strengths against him. When it does succeed,
as it did spectacularly on September 11, it renders the massive
American military machine virtually worthless: the terrorists
offer no comparable targets.
"Blowback" is a CIA term first
used in March 1954 in a report on the 1953 operation to overthrow
the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor
for the unintended consequences of covert operations against foreign
nations and governments. The CIA's fears that there might ultimately
be some blowback from its egregious interference in the affairs
of Iran were well founded. Bringing the Shah to power brought
twenty-five years of tyranny and repression to the Iranian people
and ultimately elicited the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution. In
1979, the entire staff of the American embassy in Teheran was
held hostage for over a year. This misguided "covert operation"
of the U.S. government helped convince many capable people throughout
the Islamic world that the United States was an implacable enemy.
Blowback became inevitable in the wake
of decisions by the Carter and Reagan administrations to plunge
the CIA deep into the civil war in Afghanistan. The agency secretly
undertook to arm every majahideen volunteer in sight, without
ever considering who they were or what their politics might be-all
in the name of ensuring that the Soviet Union had its own Vietnam-like
experience. The American public was led to believe that the destabilization
of the Soviet Union was worth the 1.8 million Afghan casualties,
2.6 million ~ refugees, and ten million land mines left in the
ground there-but it did not fully grasp all the other "blowback"
its Afghan adventure unleashed.
Not so many years later, these Afghan
"freedom fighters" began to turn up in unexpected places.
In 1993, some of them bombed the World Trade Center in New York
City. They then murdered several CIA employees on their way to
work in Virginia and some American businessmen in Pakistan who
just happened to become symbolic targets. On August 7,1998, they
attacked American embassies in East Africa. In 2001, they flew
hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
killing as many as 4000 people. "Blowback" has come
to mean the unintended consequences of American policies kept
secret from the American and other peoples-except, of course,
for those on the receiving end.
In his 1996 memoirs, former CIA director Robert Gates writes that
the American intelligence services began to aid the majahideen
in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet invasion. Two years
later, in an interview with the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel
Observateur, President Carter's National Security Adviser, former
professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, unambiguously confirmed Gates's
In its interview, the Nouvel Observateur
asked Brzezinski, "Is Gates's account correct?" He replied,
"Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid
to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the
Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the
reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed,
it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive
for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I
explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce
a Soviet military intervention." What Carter signed in July
1979 was a secret "finding," the orders that a president
must approve in order to set a clandestine operation in motion.
The Nouvel Observateur's interview continues.
"You don't regret any of this today?" Brzezinski: "Regret
what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the
effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want
me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the
border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: 'We now have
the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."
"And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism,
which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?" Brzezinski:
"What is more important in world history? The Taliban or
the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the
liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"
It seems likely that the American people will remember the "agitated
Moslems" Brzezinski helped bring into being much longer than
they will the end of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe he sought
to engineer. Moreover, Brzezinski's native Poland was well on
its way toward freeing itself of Soviet influence due to the activities
of the trade union leader Lech Walesa-without any help from Washington.
It was only after the Russians bombed
Afghanistan back into the stone age and suffered a Vietnam-like
defeat, and the U.S. turned its backs on the death and destruction
that the CIA had helped cause, that Osama bin Laden turned against
his American supporters. The last straw as far as bin Laden was
concerned was that, after the Gulf War, the U.S. based "infidel"
American troops in Saudi Arabia to prop up that decadent, fiercely
authoritarian regime. Ever since, bin Laden has been attempting
to bring the things the CIA taught him home to the teachers. On
September 11,2001, he succeeded with a vengeance.
American Foreign Policy
Why has there been blowback against the
role of the United States in international affairs? There are
today, ten years after the demise of the Soviet Union, some 800
Department of Defense installations located in other people's
countries. The people of the United States make up perhaps four
percent of the world's population but consume forty percent of
its resources. They exercise hegemony over the world directly
through overwhelming military might and indirectly through secretive
organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary
Fund, and the World Trade Organization. Although largely dominated
by the American government, these are formally international organizations
and so beyond Congressional oversight.
As the American-inspired process of "globalization"
inexorably enlarges the gap between the rich and the poor, a popular
movement against it has gained strength, advancing from its first
demonstrations in Seattle in 1999 through protests in Washington,
D.C., Melbourne, Prague, Seoul, Nice, Barcelona, Quebec City,
and Goteborg and on to the violent confrontations in Genoa during
early 2001. Ironically, although American leaders are deaf to
the desires of the protesters, the U.S. Department of Defense
has actually adopted the movement's main premise-that current
global economic arrangements mean more wealth for the "West"
and more misery for the "rest" - as a reason why the
United States should place weapons in space. The U.S. Space Command's
pamphlet "Vision for 2020," argues that "the globalization
of the world economy will continue, with a widening between "haves'
and 'have-nots" and that we have a mission to "dominate
the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests
and investments" in an increasingly dangerous and implicitly
U.S. Senator Zell Miller, D-GA - on the day after the September
"I say, bomb the hell out of them.
If there's collateral damage, so be it."
February 1998, the then U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright,
defending the use of cruise missiles against Iraq, declared that
"If we have to use force, it is because
we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall.
We see farther into the future."
The richest prize in the Soviet empire was the former East Germany;
the richest satellite in the American empire remains Japan. Japan
today, much like East Germany before the wall came down, is a
rigged economy brought into being and maintained for America's
benefit. During the Cold War and for the decade after its end,
the U.S. offered unrestricted access to the American market and
tolerated Japan's protectionism. In return Japan accepted and
helped to pay for American troops based there and gave at least
verbal support for America's foreign policies. For the first half
of the Cold War, down to about 1970, the U.S. also encouraged
Japan to take positive advantage of these terms in order to prosper
economically. Economic growth was the American way of inoculating
the Japanese against Communism, neutralism, socialism, and other
potentially anti-American political orientations.
Over time, this pattern produced gross
overinvestment and excess capacity in Japanese industries. It
also produced the world's largest trade deficits in the United
States (over $300 billion per year at the beginning of the new
millennium), huge trade surpluses in Japan, and in general a lack
of even an approximation of equilibrium in supply and demand across
the Pacific. Moreover, contrary to the Communist accusations of
neocolonialism, it was costly to the United States in terms of
lost American jobs, destroyed American manufacturing industries,
and smashed hopes of American minorities and women trying to escape
The American government continued to accept
these costs as the price of keeping its empire together. From
about the Nixon administration on, the U.S. did start to negotiate
more or less seriously with the Japanese to open their markets
to American goods and to "level the playing field."
But attempts to lessen trade friction and open reciprocal markets
always collided with the security relationship. In order to level
the economic playing field, the United States would also have
had to level the security playing field, and this it was never
willing to do.
Perhaps these American policies made strategic
sense during the period from approximately 1950 to 1970, when
they also had the desirable consequence of bringing real competition
to such complacent industries as American automobile manufacturing.
But today these old policies are utterly destructive to the security
and economic well-being of both the U.S. and Japan. They continue
to alter the American economic system away from manufacturing
and toward finance capitalism, and they prevent Japan from producing
an economy that can stand alone and trade with other economies
on a mutually beneficial basis. The day of reckoning for American
pride and Japanese myopia cannot be very far away.
One of the prime consequences of the long and persistent period
of Cold War, as well as a major source of future blowback against
the United States, is the development of militarism in America.
By militarism, I mean the phenomenon in which a nation's armed
services come to put their institutional preservation ahead of
effectiveness in achieving national security or a commitment to
the integrity of the governmental structure of which they are
a part. Related to this internal transformation of the military
is an enlargement and progressive displacement by the military
of all other institutions within a government for the conduct
of relations with other nations. A sign of the advent of militarism
is a nation's relying on its armed forces for numerous tasks for
which it is unqualified, indeed its particular capabilities almost
guaranteeing to make a problematic situation worse. Classical
tools of international relations, such as diplomacy, foreign aid,
international education, and the making of one's country a model
of international behavior, atrophy as the carrier task force and
cruise missiles become the first choices as instruments to solve
global problems. Militarism portends that the armed services have
or are about to pass beyond effective political control and become
the de facto or explicit governing class of a society. It is an
increasingly common phenomenon around the world-examples include
much of Latin America during the 1970s, Suharto's Indonesia from
1965 to 1998, South Korea from 1961 to 1993, Pakistan today. American
political leaders, from Washington's farewell address to Eisenhower's
identification of the "military-industrial complex,"
have warned against its dangers to a democratic society.
"For Reagan and Bush, the central lesson of Vietnam was not
that foreign policy had to be more democratic, but the opposite:
it had to become ever more the province of national security managers
who operated without the close scrutiny of the media, the oversight
of Congress, or accountability to an involved public."
Richard Gardner, a former U.S. ambassador to Spain and Italy,
estimates that the United States spends more on preparing for
war than on trying to prevent war by a ratio of at least 16 to
1. Policies that attempt to prevent war by eliminating the underlying
conditions that breed social discontent or that make resorting
to violence relatively easy or that try to mitigate misunderstandings
among nations include: programs for combating AIDS, promoting
health, seeking to achieve food security, providing humanitarian
assistance to refugees, safeguarding nuclear materials and stopping
their proliferation, economic aid generally in areas of potential
conflict such as Afghanistan, in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation,
and in the Balkans, and activities such as the international exchange
of students and scholars in the Fulbright program. The United
States is notoriously delinquent in paying its dues to the United
Nations and is at least $490 million in arrears to the various
multilateral development banks.
... the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute was compiling
| the 2001 edition of its authoritative SIPRI Yearbook. It shows
that global military spending rose to $798 billion in 2000, an
increase of 3.1 percent from the previous year. The United States
accounted for 37 percent of that amount, by far the largest proportion.
It was also the world's largest arms salesman, being responsible
for 47 percent of all munitions transfers between 1996 and 2000.
The United States was thus already well prepared for war when
Bush came into office. Since his administration is nonetheless
devoted to enlarging America's military capability-a sign of militarism
rather than of military preparedness-they had to invent new threats
in order to convince the people who voted for them that more was
The U. S. nuclear arsenal today is comprised of 5,400 multiple
megaton warheads atop intercontinental ballistic missiles based
on land and sea; an additional 1,750 nuclear bombs and cruise
missiles ready to be launched from B-2 and B-52 bombers; and a
further 1,670 nuclear weapons classified as "tactical."
Not fully deployed but available are an additional 10,000 or so
nuclear warheads held in bunkers around the United States. One
would think this is more than enough preparedness to deter the
four puny nations the United States identifies as potential adversaries-two
of which, Iran and North Korea, have been trying to achieve somewhat
friendlier relations with the U.S. despite the decades of hostility
and clandestine interference in their societies. The overkill
in the enormous American nuclear arsenal and its lack of any rational
connection between means and ends is clear evidence of militarism
in the United States.
The Terrorism Threat. The United States Constitution of 1787 establishes
a clear separation between the activities of the armed forces
in the defense of the country and domestic policing under the
penal codes of the various states. The Posse Comitatus Act of
1878 was enacted to prevent the military from engaging in police
activities in the United States without the consent of Congress
or the president. However, with the rise of militarism and particularly
after the attacks of September 11, 2001, these old distinctions
have been eroded. The military has expanded the meaning of national
security to include counterterrorism, interdicting drug traffickers,
preparing for natural disasters, and controlling immigration,
all areas in which it actively participates. The Department of
Defense has drafted operation orders to respond to what it calls
a "CIDCON," a "civilian disorder condition."
When it declares a CIDCON, it plans to intervene and take control
of civilian life.
Masters of War