THE GUARDIAN EXPOSES THE MADNESS BEHIND AMERICA'S PLANS FOR TOTAL WAR
"A total war strategy does not have to include the intentional targeting of civilians, but the sparing of civilian lives cannot be its first priority ... The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people group. Limited war pits combatants against combatants, while total war pits nation against nation, and even culture against culture." This sort of thing may strike the average non-American as power-crazed and mad.... However, the real point is not whether such ideas are mad, it is the amount of influence that they have on policy.
Conflict and catchphrases
Brian Whitaker explains what 'creative destruction' and 'total war' mean in the context of current US foreign policy
Monday February 24, 2003
Faced with obstruction from the French and Germans, ransom demands from the Turks, and opposition from millions of demonstrators around the world, the desired invasion of Iraq has fallen behind schedule.
But not to worry. The process of selecting the next candidates for regime change is already under way.
In a meeting with American congressmen last week, the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, nominated three countries to be tackled after Iraq: Iran, Libya and Syria.
Mr Sharon also met John Bolton, the US under secretary of state, who reportedly told him that it will be "necessary" to deal with Syria, Iran and North Korea after an attack on Iraq. That puts Syria and Iran into the lead with two votes each, followed by Libya and North Korea, with only one.
The attraction of this approach is easy to see. After Afghanistan and Iraq, conquering Syria and Iran would create an unbroken chain of puppet regimes stretching from the Mediterranean to China.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Palestinian regime change, or rather regime dismantling, has begun. Yasser Arafat is now more or less written off, although there is nobody to replace him, which suits Mr Sharon just fine. The Saudis are also being targeted and, ultimately, Egypt will be, too.
While all this may be sold to the public, and to gullible leaders such as Tony Blair, on the basis of specific issues, such as suicide bombings in the case of the Palestinians, the vision driving US policy under the president, George Bush, is far broader.
The two key phrases are "creative destruction" and "total war". Writing in National Review Online, Michael Ledeen, one of the US's leading rightwing ideologues, explained: "We should have no misgivings about our ability to destroy tyrannies. It is what we do best.
"It comes naturally to us, for we are the one truly revolutionary country in the world, as we have been for more than 200 years. Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically, and that is precisely why the tyrants hate us and are driven to attack us."
The concept of total war, which is also espoused by Mr Ledeen, was elaborated upon in the same publication by Adam Mersereau, a former Marine Corps officer.
He contrasted total war with "limited" war, in which military force is used to achieve a particular foreign policy objective "without mobilising the entire nation, and while minimising casualties".
"By total war," he wrote, "I mean the kind of warfare that not only destroys the enemy's military forces, but also brings the enemy society to an extremely personal point of decision, so that they are willing to accept a reversal of the cultural trends that spawned the war in the first place.
"A total war strategy does not have to include the intentional targeting of civilians, but the sparing of civilian lives cannot be its first priority ... The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people group.
"Limited war pits combatants against combatants, while total war pits nation against nation, and even culture against culture."
This sort of thing may strike the average non-American as power-crazed and mad (and, before the emails start flooding in from the US, I should add that many Americans find it abhorrent, too). However, the real point is not whether such ideas are mad, it is the amount of influence that they have on policy.
Many of the total war and creative destruction crowd get their ideas across to the public through an agency called Benador Associates, which arranges their TV appearances and speaking engagements, and helps to place their articles in newspapers.
The agency, which has offices in New York, London and Paris, is run by Eleana Benador, a Peruvian-born linguist. Since I last wrote about Ms Benador (US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy World dispatch, August 19 2002), her business seems to have expanded remarkably.
She has added 10 more "experts" to her list of clients and, on February 13, hosted a free lunch for a question and answer session with the Pentagon's leading hardline adviser, Richard Perle.
In addition, she has started a mailing service, through which subscribers receive, free of charge, up to six daily articles. Anyone who wishes to monitor the developing thoughts of America's neo-conservatives, and can resist being offended by the content, will find a subscription informative.
Ms Benador has been busy networking on the political-social circuit, too. Although details are scarce, the website of Bob Guzzardi, a Pennsylvania property man and Israel enthusiast, shows photographs of a jolly party attended by Ms Benador along with Senator Joseph Lieberman, Representative Joseph Hoeffel, Daniel Pipes (the bete noire of American Muslims) and Reza Pahlavi, the pretender to the throne of Iran.
Several of her experts regard the fall of the Iranian regime as a certain consequence of war in Iraq, whether as a result of deliberate US efforts or those of Iran's supposedly rebellious youth. At least one of them has been talking up the possibility that Mr Pahlavi could take over as Iran's new Shah.
"It is no surprise that Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah, has arisen seemingly out of nowhere to become the leading opposition figure, not only among Iranians in Los Angeles, but among Iranians still living under the mullahs in Tehran."
Those words were written by Michael Rubin, who has also promoted the idea that ex-crown prince Hassan of Jordan might become king of Iraq.
Mr Rubin, a Benador client and once a prolific article writer, has been silent for several months. This, Ms Benador's website explains, is because he is "currently on assignment as an Iran and Iraq adviser in special plans at the Pentagon, and will be unavailable for public appearances until October 2003".
Still, there are plenty of others to fill the gap while Mr Rubin hatches his special plans. The Benador website lists more than 220 published articles, including 50 in the National Review, 42 in the Washington Times, 37 in the Washington Post, 18 in the National Post, 17 in the Wall Street Journal, 15 in the Los Angeles Times, eight each in the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, and six in the New York Times.
Two others appeared in Britain: one in the Financial Times, and the other in the Daily Telegraph.
Readers who like to keep an eye on such things should watch out for media appearances by any of the following Benador "experts": AM Rosenthal, Alexander M Haig Jr, Amir Taheri, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Azar Nafisi, Barry Rubin, Charles Jacobs, Charles Krauthammer, Fereydoun Hoveyda, Frank J Gaffney Jr, George Jonas, Hillel Fradkin, Ismail Cem, John Eibner, Kanan Makiya, Khalid Duran, Khidhir Hamza, Laurie Mylroie, Mansoor Ijaz, Martin Kramer, Max Boot, Meyrav Wurmser, Michael A Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Michel Gurfinkiel, Paul Marshall, R James Woolsey, Richard O Spertzel, Richard Perle, Richard Pipes, Ruth Wedgwood, Shaykh Kabbani, Stanley H Kaplan, Tashbih Sayyed, Tom Rose and Walid Phares.
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