The Current Strategic Agenda of the United States
To sum up the following account: The US plans a massive expansionist drive around the world (and indeed even in outer space). In this it plans to take full advantage of its overwhelming military supremacy, including hitherto impermissible means, with inevitably terrible effects on the targeted populations.
To sum up the following account: The US plans a massive expansionist drive around the world (and indeed even in outer space). In this it plans to take full advantage of its overwhelming military supremacy, including hitherto impermissible means, with inevitably terrible effects on the targeted populations. Not only inconvenient regimes but even certain US client regimes (such as Saudi Arabia) may be targeted. These countries are slated for direct rule by the American military, or rule under close and detailed direction by US monitors—encompassing not only foreign policy and economic policy, but political, social and cultural institutions as well. Direct control of oil will pass into American hands. Importantly, this drive is intended to prevent the emergence of rivals to American worldwide hegemony.
The first part of the following account draws on reports produced by private US bodies as well as press reports. We do not suggest that all the "grand strategies" and schemes mentioned therein have been finalised. The US ruling classes generally adopt a drawn-out process in the course of which they reconcile and resolve the often conflicting demands of their own various sections. Typically, apart from legislators and the press, a proliferation of research institutes, semi-governmental bodies, and academic forums circulate proposals voicing the case of one or the other lobby (leaving the administration free to deny that they constitute official policy). These proposals elicit objections from other sections, through similar media; other powerful countries too press their interests, directly or indirectly; and the entire discussion, in the light of the strength of the respective interests, helps shape the course of action finally adopted, and helps coalesce the various ruling class sections around it. (This process of course has nothing to do with democratic debate, since the people are excluded as participants, and are included only as a factor to be taken into account.)
The welter of 'secret' reports, private discussions and briefings by unnamed official sources being reported in the press are part of this process. Keeping these qualifications in mind, these reports offer an invaluable window into the current policy of the American ruling classes.
"Project for the New American Century"
Months before George W. Bush assumed office in January 2001, a report was drawn up by a group called Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The driving force behind the group was Richard Perle, a member of the Reagan administration, member of the board of extreme right-wing think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, and currently the head of the Defence Policy Board, an advisory group to the Pentagon. Other founders too of the PNAC now occupy leading positions in the Bush administration: Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J. Bennett, Reagan's education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, American special envoy to Afghanistan and imminently to the "free Iraqi people". (Governor Jeb Bush, George's younger brother, was also among the founders.) Hence the report reflects the intentions of those now in office.
Titled "Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century", the report spells out "American grand strategy" for "as far into the future as possible"—the project's reference to the new American "century" presumably demarcating the outer boundary. Among its highlights are the following:
"The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." (emphasis added) Clearly, the American plan to invade Iraq has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein or any weapons of mass destruction. Invasion of Iraq was on the cards, and Saddam is the excuse. The report says that "even should Saddam pass from the scene", bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would remain permanently as "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has".
The US should be able to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars", and increase military spending by $48 billion to ensure this.
The US should develop "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons. Whereas till now nuclear weapons were considered strategic weapons—a threat of massive retaliation to deter an attack—the development of such uses for smaller nuclear weapons would make them into tactical weapons, that could be used in the ordinary course of battle, as it were. The US, the report unmistakably implies, should also develop biological weapons: "New methods of attack—electronic, 'non-lethal', biological— will be more widely available.... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace and perhaps the world of microbes.... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes (i.e., kill people selectively based on their race or ethnicity) may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."
The US should create 'US Space Forces' to dominate space. The 'star wars' programme, officially known as National Missile Defence, should be made a priority.
The report says that "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia". This may lead to "American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China." In other words, the US should strive to replace the present Chinese regime with a clearly pro-American one.
Supposedly in order to check regimes such as North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran the US military should set up a "worldwide command-and-control system".
The PNAC supports a "blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." (emphasis added) Thus the document explicitly calls for preventing the "American century" becoming anyone else's, even if peacefully. Indeed this is the crux of the matter, as we shall see. Close allies such as the UK are referred to as "the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership"—that is, a mere mask for American hegemony. Peace-keeping missions are described as "demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations". ("Bush planned Iraq 'regime change' before becoming President", Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald, 15/9/02)
However, for unleashing this global offensive, what was required was "some catastrophic and catalysing event—like a new Pearl Harbour" (the US base in Hawaii Japan attacked in 1941, providing the occasion for American entry into World War II).
That event, of course, came with September 11, 2001, accelerating the various missions already charted by the PNAC. As John Pilger points out (New Statesman, 16/12/02), the increase in military spending called for by the PNAC has occurred; the development of "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and "star wars" is taking place; and Iraq is being targeted for the purpose of installing American troops in the Gulf. Further, US forces in southeast Asia are being beefed up, and North Korea and Iran have been bracketed with Iraq in what George Bush terms an "axis of evil". One should reasonably expect the rest of the PNAC document to be similarly implemented.
It is now clear that the US intends its invasion of Iraq as only the opening salvo in its invasion of the entire region. This is being made known through semi-official channels, to prepare the ground for future actions. "The road to the entire Middle East goes through Baghdad" said a US administration official to the Washington Post (6/8/02). "Once you have a democratic [read "pro-American"] regime in Iraq, like the ones we helped establish in Germany and Japan after World War II, there are a lot of possibilities." In the words of Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi vice-president, what the US wants is not "regime change" but "region change".
Targeting Saudi Arabia
Perhaps the most startling element of this plan is the targeting of Saudi Arabia, long considered the most faithful American ally among the Arab countries—the base for the American assault on Iraq in 1991, a continuing US military base thereafter, the US's largest market for weapons, the largest supplier of oil to the US (at a special discount to boot), and the source of up to $600 billion of investments in the US. On July 10 2002 a researcher from the RAND Corporation (a prominent think-tank, created by the US Air Force but now quasi-independent, that regularly does projects for the American defence and foreign policy establishments) made a presentation to the Defence Policy Board—headed, as mentioned earlier, by Perle. The briefing, titled "Taking Saudi out of Arabia", claimed that "The Arab world has been in a systemic crisis for the last 200 years" and that "Since independence, wars have been the principal output of the Arab world". It went on to describe Saudi Arabia in bizarre terms as an enemy of the US ("the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent", "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader"), and recommended that the US give it an ultimatum to prevent any anti-US activity in Arabia, failing which its oil fields could be seized by US troops and the House of Saud replaced by the Hashemite monarchy that now rules Jordan. The following quotation gives an idea of the line of thought, if it can be called that:
"'Saudi Arabia' is not a God-given entity
* The House of Saud was given dominion over Arabia in 1922 by the British
* It wrested the Guardianship of the Holy Places — Mecca and Medina — from the Hashemite dynasty
* There is an 'Arabia,' but it need not be 'Saudi'
"An ultimatum to the House of Saud
* Stop any funding and support for any fundamentalist madrasa, mosque, ulama, predicator anywhere in the world
* Stop all anti-U.S., anti-Israeli, anti-Western predication, writings, etc., within Arabia
* Dismantle, ban all the kingdom's 'Islamic charities,' confiscate their assets
* Prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services
"Or else ...
* What the House of Saud holds dear can be targeted:
— Oil: the old fields are defended by U.S. forces, and located in a mostly Shiite area
— Money: the Kingdom is in dire financial straits, its valuable assets invested in dollars, largely in the U.S.
— The Holy Places: let it be known that alternatives are being canvassed
* The Saudis are hated throughout the Arab world: lazy, overbearing, dishonest, corrupt
* If truly moderate regimes arise, the Wahhabi-Saudi nexus is pushed back into its extremist corner
* The Hashemites have greater legitimacy as Guardians of Mecca and Medina"1
The presentation also claimed that the regime change in Iraq would help put pressure on Saudi Arabia, since a major increase in Iraqi oil production would take away the Saudi markets in the west. With reduced dependence on Saudi oil, the US could confront the House of Saud for (what this presentation alleges to be) its support of terrorism.
While the RAND researcher's aphoristic opus might be dismissed as the work of a fantasist, and the Pentagon did take care immediately to deny that it reflected its views, there are indications that much of it is indeed US policy.
In line with the RAND presentation, Dick Cheney told the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in August that the overthrow of Saddam would "bring about a number of benefits to the region": "When the gravest of threats are eliminated, the freedom-loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace". According to Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, after establishing a pro-US Iraq, "We would be much more in a position of strength vis-a-vis the Saudis." "Everyone will flip out, starting with the Saudis", says Meyrav Wurmser, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, where Perle is a member of the board. "It will send shock waves throughout the Arab world." ("Iraq War Hawks Have Plans to Re-Shape Entire Mideast", Boston Globe, 10/9/02)2
At the behest of a joint congressional committee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating money transfers from the Saudi ambassador's wife to a Saudi who was friendly with the September 11 hijackers. A $3 trillion lawsuit has been filed in an American court accusing several Saudi institutions and charities and three members of the royal family, including the defence minister, of financing terrorism. Following the filing of this lawsuit, Saudi investors have withdrawn up to $200 billion from the US. ("Saudis withdraw billions of dollars from US", Financial Times, 8/20/02)
The US as agent provocateur
Leading political circles in the west are well aware of the US gameplan. Mo Mowlam, a member of Tony Blair's cabinet from 1997-2001, lifted the curtain in an article bluntly titled: "The real goal is the seizure of Saudi oil. Iraq is no threat. Bush wants war to keep US control of the region." (The Guardian, 5/9/02). She describes how the US plans to spread the war beyond Iraq:
"What is most chilling is that the hawks in the Bush administration must know the risks involved. They must be aware of the anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East. They must be aware of the fear in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that a war against Iraq could unleash revolutions, disposing of pro-western governments, and replacing them with populist anti-American Islamist fundamentalist regimes. We should all remember the Islamist revolution in Iran. The Shah was backed by the Americans, but he couldn't stand against the will of the people. And it is because I am sure that they fully understand the consequences of their actions, that I am most afraid. I am drawn to the conclusion that they must want to create such mayhem....
"The Americans know they cannot stop such a revolution. They must therefore hope that they can control the Saudi oil fields, if not the government. And what better way to do that than to have a large military force in the field at the time of such disruption. In the name of saving the west, these vital assets could be seized and controlled.... If there is chaos in the region, the US armed forces could be seen as a global saviour. Under cover of the war on terrorism, the war to secure oil supplies could be waged." (emphasis added)
A sober gathering of eminent academics, historians, economists, global strategists and other experts came to a similar consensus at the Oxford Analytica conference in September 2002. The conference predicted that with the invasion of Iraq,
"At the very least, violent anti-American street demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities could be expected — perhaps erupting also in Saudi Arabia and maybe Jordan. These would be forcibly suppressed, but if they should threaten a number of Middle East regimes, this might not necessarily be outside of the US game plan, some experts suggested.... To clean out such regimes and install others that are not just friendly to the US in foreign policy terms but which also subscribe to American mores would further the cause of the Bush administration's neo-imperialism and also secure the future integrity of energy supplies for the US. Such aims might be achieved as part of the greater Iraq campaign—protracted and expensive though this might prove to be — or by using Iraq as a jumping off point for future regime-destabilising actions once Saddam Hussein has been subdued." ("More to Iraq war than just Saddam? US has wider strategic aims, says an international conference", Anthony Rowley, Business Times, 25/9/02; emphasis added)
Israel to play key role
Apparently Israel is accorded a key role in US plans for occupying and policing the region.
According to the leading Israeli historian Martin van Creveld, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's plan is to forcibly "transfer" the two million Palestinians living in the occupied territories to neighbouring Jordan—a move opinion polls indicate has the support of 44 per cent of Israelis. No doubt this would spark a response from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (popular sentiment in those regions would irresistibly force the hands of the regimes), but that would merely provide an occasion for Israel to employ once more its overwhelming (American-built and American-funded) military might on them and crush their armies:
"Mr Sharon would have to wait for a suitable opportunity — such as an American offensive against Iraq... An uprising in Jordan, followed by the collapse of King Abdullah's regime, would also present such an opportunity—as would a spectacular act of terrorism inside Israel that killed hundreds.
"Should such circumstances arise, then Israel would mobilise with lightning speed—even now, much of its male population is on standby. First, the country's three ultra-modern submarines would take up firing positions out at sea. Borders would be closed, a news blackout imposed, and all foreign journalists rounded up and confined to a hotel as guests of the Government. A force of 12 divisions, 11 of them armoured, plus various territorial units suitable for occupation duties, would be deployed: five against Egypt, three against Syria, and one opposite Lebanon. This would leave three to face east as well as enough forces to put a tank inside every Arab-Israeli village just in case their populations get any funny ideas.
"The expulsion of the Palestinians would require only a few brigades. They would not drag people out of their houses but use heavy artillery to drive them out; the damage caused to Jenin would look like a pinprick in comparison.
"Any outside intervention would be held off by the Israeli air force. In 1982, the last time it engaged in large-scale operations, it destroyed 19 Syrian anti-aircraft batteries and shot down 100 Syrian aircraft against the loss of one. Its advantage is much greater now than it was then and would present an awesome threat to any Syrian armoured attack on the Golan Heights. As for the Egyptians, they are separated from Israel by 150 miles or so of open desert. Judging by what happened in 1967, should they try to cross it they would be destroyed.
"The Jordanian and Lebanese armed forces are too small to count and Iraq is in no position to intervene, given that it has not recovered its pre-1991 strength and is being held down by the Americans.... Some believe that the international community will not permit such an ethnic cleansing. I would not count on it. If Mr Sharon decides to go ahead, the only country that can stop him is the United States. The US, however, regards itself as being at war with parts of the Muslim world that have supported Osama bin Laden. America will not necessarily object to that world being taught a lesson—particularly if it could be as swift and brutal as the 1967 campaign; and also particularly if it does not disrupt the flow of oil for too long.
"Israeli military experts estimate that such a war could be over in just eight days. If the Arab states do not intervene, it will end with the Palestinians expelled and Jordan in ruins. If they do intervene, the result will be the same, with the main Arab armies destroyed." ("Sharon's plan is to drive Palestinians across the Jordan", Daily Telegraph, 28/4/02)
Israel's attack on the Palestinians and then the Arab states would thus complement the US invasion of Iraq and some other state(s). Israel would hold military sway in the region as the local enforcer of American power.
This explains the unstinted support Sharon has received from Bush for his assault on the Palestinians. The day after his December 3, 2001, meeting with Bush, Sharon besieged Arafat in Ramalla and began the bombing and bombardment of the West Bank. Since then Sharon has not only unleashed death and terror in the occupied territories, but deliberately attempted to humiliate Arafat and discredit him even further among the Palestinians. The attack on Arafat has two objectives: first, to discredit Israel's only existing negotiating party, and thus eliminate the obstacle of negotiations altogether; second, to provoke a reaction from the Palestinians such as can be the excuse for their mass eviction from the occupied territories, just as they were driven out in 1948 from the land that now constitutes Israel. (Van Creveld points out that Sharon has always referred to Jordan as a Palestinian state, the obvious implication being that Palestinians in the occupied territories belong there.)
This entire scenario is perhaps what Cheney had in mind when he said, in his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would enhance US ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
One analyst (Eric Margolis, "Bush's Mideast Plan: Conquer and Divide", Toronto Sun, 8/12/02) rightly compares American plans for the region to the carving-up of the region by Britain and France in the Sykes-Picot treaty of 1916. He lists "Possible scenarios under review at the highest levels":
"Iraq is to be placed under U.S. military rule. Iraq's leadership, notably Saddam Hussein and [Tariq] Aziz, will face U.S. drumhead courts-martial and firing squads.3
"The swift, ruthless crushing of Iraq is expected to terrify [other] Arab states, Palestinians and Iran into obeying U.S. political dictates.
"Independent-minded Syria will be ordered to cease support for Lebanon's Hezbollah, and allow Israel to dominate Jordan and Lebanon, or face invasion and `regime change'. The U.S. will anyway undermine the ruling Ba'ath regime and young leader, Bashir Assad, replacing him with a French-based exile regime. France will get renewed influence in Syria as a consolation prize for losing out in Iraq to the Americans and Brits....
"Iran will be severely pressured to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes or face attack by U.S. forces. Israel's rightist Likud party, which guides much of the Bush administration's Mideast thinking, sees Iran, not demolished Iraq, as its principal foe and threat, and is pressing Washington to attack Iran once Iraq is finished off. At minimum, the U.S. will encourage an uprising against Iran's Islamic regime, replacing it with either a royalist government or one drawn from U.S.-based Iranian exiles.4
"Saudi Arabia will be allowed to keep the royal family in power, but compelled to become more responsive to U.S. demands and to clamp down on its increasingly anti-American population. If this fails, the CIA is reportedly cultivating senior Saudi air force officers who could overthrow the royal family and bring in a compliant military regime like that of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. Or, partition Saudi Arabia, making the oil-rich eastern portion an American protectorate."
And so on, with Libya's Gaddafi "marked for extinction once bigger game is bagged."
While the apparent targets of the US assault are the regimes of these countries, that would hardly make sense, since none of them poses a threat to the US, and in fact some of them, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are its client states. Rather the real targets are the anti-imperialist masses of the region, whom certain regimes are unwilling, and others are unable, to control. It is these anti-imperialist masses of West Asia, not their rulers of whatever hue, who have always constituted the real threat to US domination. The US appears to believe that its overwhelming and highly sophisticated military might can tackle the masses effectively if they come out into the open. That is why it even contemplates provoking mass uprisings so as to have occasion to crush them.
Global hegemonic drive parading as national security
The articles cited above are speculations based on informed official sources; whereas the "National Security Strategy of the USA" (released on September 17, 2002; hereafter "NSSUSA") is an official statement. It is a remarkable and important document, which deserves a lengthy exposition. (All emphases in the quotations below have been added.)
The twentieth century has yielded a "single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise", values to be protected "across the globe and across the ages." The United States "enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence". "Today, the world's great powers find ourselves on the same side"—that is, the US lacks any rival. This is "a time of opportunity for America.... the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world." Thus the "national security" document lays out American foreign policy.
Despite its unrivalled supremacy, the US is faced by a new type of enemy: "shadowy networks of individuals.... organized to penetrate open societies.... To defeat this threat we must make use of every tool in our arsenal.... The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration...."
Thus the formulation of 'terrorism' has solved the problem posed by the present US secretary of state Colin Powell in 1991, when he was chief of US armed forces. "Think hard about it", he said. "I'm running out of demons. I'm running out of villains." (cited in David N. Gibbs, "Washington's New Interventionism: US Hegemony and Inter-Imperialist Rivalries", Monthly Review, September 2001) In the 1990s, as the US hunted for the required demon, military spending was slashed and questions were raised about the need for foreign deployments. Condoleezza Rice, the present National Security Adviser, began a Foreign Affairs article in 2000 thus: "The United States has found it exceedingly difficult to define its 'national interest' in the absence of Soviet power." Nicholas Lemann asked her in 2002 whether that was still the case:
"'I think the difficulty has passed in defining a role,' she said immediately. 'I think September 11th was one of those great earthquakes that clarify and sharpen. Events are in much sharper relief.' Like Bush, she said that opposing terrorism and preventing the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction 'in the hands of irresponsible states' now define the national interest.... Rice said that she had called together the senior staff people of the National Security Council and asked them to think seriously about 'how do you capitalize on these opportunities' to fundamentally change American doctrine, and the shape of the world, in the wake of September 11th." (New Yorker, 1/4/02, emphasis added)
In other words, the target is not terrorism. The supposed suppression of terrorism worldwide merely offers "opportunities" for the US to pursue its strategic agenda without geographic or temporal limits.
NSSUSA finds the mere existence of "terrorists" on a country's soil sufficient justification for the US to attack the country: "America will hold to account nations that are compromised by terror, including those who harbour terrorists.... We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbour or provide aid to them." The phrase "compromised by terror" is vague enough to include those who the US claims have not taken adequately energetic measures against terrorism.
No doubt international law only recognises the right to self-defence in the face of imminent attack; but does not meet the requirements of the US, which wishes to "adapt the concept of imminent threat" to mean that "America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed". The mere potential to constitute a "threat" would invite American action. In "identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders... we will not hesitate to act alone", disregarding international forums such as the United Nations.
Casting its eye about the world, NSSUSA spells out America's tasks in different regions.
Europe is to be kept subordinate to, and dependent on, American power. For the last decade, the US has been troubled by the fact that the rationale for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), namely, the threat from the Soviet bloc, no longer exists. Though Europe is now contemplating setting up its independent military organisation, the US will work "to ensure that these developments work with NATO." The document re-shapes NATO as a global interventionist force under American leadership: "The alliance must be able to act wherever our interests are threatened, creating coalitions under NATO's own mandate, as well as contributing to mission-based coalitions." Rather than develop its own arms industry and forces, Europe should "take advantage of technological opportunities and economies of scale in our defence spending". This is in line with the view of the secret "Defence Planning Guidance", prepared in May 1990 by Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby for the then defence secretary Dick Cheney and partially leaked to the New York Times in the spring of 1992. Mapping out US policy in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet empire, it asserted that "it is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of western defence and security, as well as the channel for US influence and participation in European security affairs. While the US supports the goal of European integration, we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance's integrated command structures."
NSSUSA issues a blunt warning to China against "pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region." The US threatens China with interference in its internal affairs: "To make that nation truly accountable to its citizens' needs and aspirations... much work remains to be done." US deployments in the region are to be beefed up, and in order to ensure that American troops are stationed as close as possible to China, South Korea is to be convinced to "maintain vigilance [i.e. hostility] towards the North while preparing our alliance to make contributions to the broader stability of the region over the longer term."
In contrast with China, India is presented as a pillar of American influence in Asia: "We (the US and India) are the two largest democracies, committed to political freedom protected by representative government. India is moving toward greater economic freedom as well. We have a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. Finally, we share an interest in fighting terrorism and in creating a strategically stable Asia." Two years ago, India's nuclear rivalry with Pakistan and the battle over Kashmir made it the "most dangerous place on earth" for the US; now there is not even a single reference to Pakistan or Kashmir, and even India's nuclear and missile programmes are treated as "past" concerns. Rather, India is presented as "a growing world power with which we have common strategic interests." (The mere fact of being bracketed with China and Russia as a "potential great power" is deeply satisfying to the Indian ruling elite, which has been angling for some such certificate from the US—however far from objective reality.)
Preventing the emergence of imperialist rivals
Just as NSSUSA celebrates the US's "unprecedented—and unequalled—strength and influence" as "a time of opportunity", it warns too that it will defend this solitary position. Indeed American "national security" lies in the absence of any other great power. "We are attentive to the possible renewal of old patterns of great power competition.... our military must... dissuade future military competition.... Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States." This unmistakably echoes the 1990 Defence Planning Guidance document: "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed by the Soviet Union which requires preventing any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions are western Europe, east Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and south-west Asia [i.e., the oil-producing region].... Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from ever aspiring to a larger regional or global role." (emphasis added) But whereas the 1990 Defence Planning Guidance was a secret document, the 2002 NSSUSA is a public declaration that the world's sole superpower will not tolerate even potential rivalry.
Massive expansion of foreign deployments
As the mission has no defined enemy, but rather a number of potential rivals to be "dissuaded" from acquiring great power status, it requires a massive military commitment worldwide. "To contend with uncertainty and to meet the many security challenges we face, the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia, as well temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of US forces. Before the war in Afghanistan, that area was low on the list of major planning contingencies. Yet, in a very short time, we had to operate across the length and breadth of that remote nation, using every branch of the armed forces. We must prepare for more such deployments...."
Even outer space is to be brought under US sway: "military capabilities must also... protect critical infrastructure in outer space."
Economic agenda merged with strategic agenda
It is not merely the threat of violence, or the "emerging", as yet not "fully formed" threat of violence, that constitutes a threat to American national security. "Free markets and free trade are key priorities of our national security strategy." "Respect for private property" is among the "non-negotiable demands of human dignity." The economic policies of other countries—their legal and regulatory policies, tax policies ("particularly lower marginal tax rates"), financial systems, fiscal policies, and (what the US calls) "free trade" are considered part of the "national security" of the US. "Free trade" is indeed "a moral principle". However, "free trade" refers to others opening their markets to the US. For the US, NSSUSA prescribes instead "safeguards (that) help ensure that the benefits of free trade do not come at the expense of American workers"—read "American corporations".
Supposedly multilateral institutions, long under the American thumb, are made now explicit instruments of American "national security". The US will "work with the IMF to streamline the policy conditions for its lending" and "[i]mprove the effectiveness of the World Bank". It will insist that its development assistance is tied to "measurable goals and concrete benchmarks". Countries' development is to be predicated to openness to inflows (and outflows) of capital, and indeed the very objective is merely such openness: "Our long-term objective should be a world in which all countries have investment-grade credit ratings that allow them access to international capital markets and to invest in their future."5
Direct monitoring of 'governance'
A significant aspect of the NSSUSA doctrine is that the US will now more directly than ever before intervene in and supervise all aspects of "governance" of the lands under its sway. Traditionally, the US kept its client states' military and foreign policy stance in line, and multiple forces—the IMF, World Bank, bilateral aid, direct pressure from American corporations—kept their economic policies in line. Their widely varying political, social and cultural institutions were left alone. However, the NSSUSA repeatedly stresses "opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy", making "freedom and development of democratic institutions key themes in our bilateral relations".
Lest it be imagined, contrary to the experience of a century, that the US has some fondness for democratic institutions in its client states, it should be noted that these institutions are to be built and run under close American direction—particularly in regard to the means of coercion: "Once the regional campaign [against 'terrorism'] localises the threat to a particular state, we will help ensure the state has the military, law enforcement, political and financial tools necessary to finish the task." If the outcome of a democratic exercise (such as any one of the elections and referendums won by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela) is not to America's liking, that country will remain targeted and under siege till the people there "reform": "The United States, the international donor community, and the World Bank stand ready to work with a reformed Palestinian government [i.e. after the scrapping of the present one] on economic development, increased humanitarian assistance, and a program to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary."
If a judiciary established by the Americans, paid by the Americans, and monitored by the Americans can be considered a democratic institution, colonialism is a democratic institution. Indeed, American diplomats are now to be re-oriented as viceroys, adept in all matters of governing client states: "Officials trained mainly in international politics must also extend their reach to understand complex issues of domestic governance around the world, including public health, education, law enforcement, the judiciary, and public diplomacy."
The document's repeated mention of education is not an accident: the educational system is one of the media through which the US is to "wage a war of ideas", carrying out propaganda in its own favour while enforcing the shutting down of schools which propagate anti-American sentiments (while the immediate target is the madrassas, the broader target is any democratic anti-imperialist elements in any educational system).
Muslim countries are a special target of this mission: the US will support "moderate and modern government, especially in the Muslim world, to ensure that the conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism do not find fertile ground in any nation". The US plans to reform Islam, strengthening the "moderates" in "a clash inside a civilisation, a battle for the future of the Muslim world. This is a struggle of ideas and this is an area where America must excel."
The real reason for targeting the Muslim states, of course, has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with the fact that, by remarkable coincidence, so many of them—in West Asia, North Africa, the Caspian and even southeast Asia—happen to be rich in hydrocarbons. In that regard, however, the tactful NSSUSA is Hamlet without the prince of Denmark: the words "oil", "petroleum" and "hydrocarbons" nowhere occur, and there is just a single reference to working "to expand the sources and types of global energy supplied, especially in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Central Asia and the Caspian region."
Finally, the NSSUSA says that "we must make use of every tool in our arsenal", echoing Bush's words after the September 11 attacks: "We will use every necessary weapon of war." It is worth examining the array of weapons the Bush administration plans to use.
Using weapons of mass destruction: There is active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons. The March 2002 leak of the Pentagon's "nuclear posture review" revealed that the earlier concept that nuclear weapons are only a form of deterrence, to be used in retaliation against other nuclear powers, has been dumped. The new position foresees the use of "low-yield" nuclear weapons in three scenarios: against targets able to withstand attacks by non-nuclear weapons (such as underground bunkers); in retaliation for an attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; and "in the event of surprising military developments", such as an "Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbours, or a North Korean attack on South Korea or a military confrontation over the status of Taiwan". "North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya are among the countries that could be involved in immediate, potential or unexpected contingencies," it says. A report published last year by America's National Institute for Public Policy, a right-wing thinktank, declared that "nuclear weapons can... be used in counter-force attacks that are intended to neutralise enemy military capabilities". The authors of the report include senior Pentagon officials and the deputy national security adviser. Geoff Hoon, British defence secretary, told MPs earlier this year: "I am absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons." ("The new nukes", Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian, 6/8/02)
The talk of "low-yield" nuclear weapons is merely to prepare the ground for using nuclear weapons as such. The Defence Threat Reduction Agency, a $1.1 billion agency set up in 1998, is studying how to attack hardened and deeply buried bunkers with high-yield nuclear weapons. (Washington Post, 10/6/02)
The price in human lives would be terrible. According to the Washington-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a "mini-nuke" attack on Saddam Hussein's presidential bunker would cause 20,000 deaths in Baghdad. Many more would be maimed, burned, and suffer the effects of radiation. No cause for concern, believe the Americans: while a careful study by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian (20/8/02), drawing on a variety of sources including estimates by aid agencies, reveals over 20,000 Afghans died as a result of the US invasion, there is hardly a mention of the fact in the world press outside of his article. Nor is there coverage of the study by the Medact, the UK affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which estimates that a US attack on Iraq would cost between 48,000 and 260,000 lives immediately and 200,000 from the effects of the war. The study, whose methodology has been endorsed by the former chief of the Australian Defence Forces, also says that the use of nuclear weapons would raise the toll to millions. (Medact, Collateral Damage: The Cost of War in Iraq, 12/11/02)
Till now biological weapons programmes have been carried on under cover of peaceful uses. Now the Pentagon is openly pushing for the development of offensive biological weapons "to produce systems that will degrade the warfighting capabilities of potential adversaries". While leading naval and air force laboratories presented proposals to this effect in 1997, the Marine Corps has now submitted them for assessment by the US National Academy of Sciences. (Counterpunch, 8/5/02) The NSSUSA's eagerness to get control of the public health systems of third world countries should be seen in this light.
Agent provocateurs, disinformation: A secret army has been set up by the Pentagon. It will unite CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception. ("Information warfare" is the deliberate spread of falsehoods as a weapon of war.) Its purpose would be to provoke terrorist attacks which would then justify "counter-attack" by the US on countries "harbouring the terrorists":
"Rumsfeld's influential Defence Science Board 2002 Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism says in its classified 'outbrief'—a briefing drafted to guide other Pentagon agencies—that the global war on terrorism 'requires new strategies, postures and organization.' The board recommends creation of a super-Intelligence Support Activity, an organization it dubs the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, (P2OG), to bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception. Among other things, this body would launch secret operations aimed at 'stimulating reactions' among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction—that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces. Such tactics would hold 'states/sub-state actors accountable' and 'signal to harboring states that their sovereignty will be at risk,' the briefing paper declares." (William Arkin, Los Angeles Times 27/10/02; emphasis added)
The New York Times reported on February 19 that the Pentagon's new "Office of Strategic Influence" (OSI) is "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations" in an effort "to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries." The OSI was created shortly after September 11 2001, supposedly to publicise the U.S. government's perspective in Islamic countries and to generate support for the U.S.'s "war on terror." According to the Times, "one of the military units assigned to carry out the policies of the Office of Strategic Influence" is the U.S. Army's Psychological Operations Command (PSYOPS).
Although public outrage caused the OSI to be officially scrapped, a contemptuous remark by Rumsfeld on November 18 reveals that only the name has been scrapped:
"And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name.You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have." ("FAIR Media Advisory: the Office of Strategic Influence is gone, but are its programs in place?", 27/11/02)
According to William Arkin (Los Angeles Times, 24/11/02) Rumsfeld is redesigning the U.S. military to make "information warfare" central to its functions. This new policy, says Arkin, increasingly "blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other." (cited in ibid)
The scale of war crimes in the offing is indicated by the Bush administration's eagerness to get immunity from such charges. It has despatched senior diplomats to Europe to insist that governments of the European Union grant blanket immunity to all US citizens from the United Nations' newly-formed International Criminal Court, which is to try cases of genocide, war crimes and other human rights abuses. (Bill Vann, "Ultimatum to Europe in advance of Iraq war — US demands total impunity on war crimes", World Socialist Web Site, 12/10/02). Although the likelihood of any American being hauled up before a UN body is very slim, the Bush administration is taking no chances.
Clearly, current US plans represent a radical break from traditional strategies for maintaining global domination. This sudden consensus among all sectors of the US ruling class for bold and potentially risky action can only be understood as a response to a profoundly threatening economic crisis.
1.The presentation ends on the following cryptic note:
"Grand strategy for the Middle East
— Iraq is the tactical pivot
— Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot
— Egypt the prize"
Presumably the first two phrases mean that invading Iraq offers a point of entry for the capture of Saudi Arabia. However, the last phrase remains obscure. (back)
2. Here is a sample of current thinking among American policy-makers:
"The anti-Saudi views expressed in the briefing appear especially popular among neo-conservative foreign policy thinkers, which is a relatively small but influential group within the Bush administration. 'I think it is a mistake to consider Saudi Arabia a friendly country,' said Kenneth Adelman, a former aide to Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is a member of the Defence Policy Board but didn't attend the July 10 meeting. He said the view that Saudi Arabia is an adversary of the United States 'is certainly a moreprevalent view that it was a year ago.'
"In recent weeks, two neo-conservative magazines have run articles similar in tone to the Pentagon briefing. The July 15 issue of the Weekly Standard, which is edited by William Kristol, a former chief of staff to [former vice-president] Quayle [and chairman of the Project for the New American Century], predicted 'The Coming Saudi Showdown.' The current issue of Commentary, which is published by the American Jewish Committee, contains an article titled, 'Our Enemies, the Saudis.'
"'More and more people are making parts of this argument, and a few all of it,' said Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University expert on military strategy. 'Saudi Arabia used to have lots of apologists in this country. . . . Now there are very few, and most of those with substantial economic interests or long-standing ties there.' Cohen, a member of the Defense Policy Board, declined to discuss its deliberations. But he did say that he views Saudi Arabia more as a problem than an enemy. 'The deal that they cut with fundamentalism is most definitely a threat, [so] I would say that Saudi Arabia is a huge problem for us,' he said. But that view is far from dominant in the U.S. government, others said.
"'The drums are beginning to beat on Saudi Arabia,' said Robert Oakley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan who consults frequently with the U.S. military." (Washington Post, 6/8/02)
Cohen's mention of "those with substantial economic interests" in Saudi Arabia probably refers to former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, whose consulting firm counts the House of Saud among its most important clients. He appears now to represent a minority in the American establishment. (back)
3. Officials in the administration are quoted by the New York Times ("U.S. Has a Plan to Occupy Iraq, Officials Report", 11/10/02) as saying that Iraq would be placed under US military rule for an extended spell (the item is elsewhere in this issue). More recently, as the US pressed for French, German and Russian support for its planned invasion, US officials were quoted as preferring "international rule"—i.e. the involvement of other countries as well in policing post-invasion Iraq ("US adopts Kosovo model to follow war", Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 9/12/02). (back)
4. In an interview with The Times (London), Sharon has called for Iran to be attacked the moment the invasion of Iraq is complete. 5/11/02 "Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel", 5/11/02, Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson and Danielle Haas. (back)
5. Even the spread of biotechnology—which the US and its corporations, seeing the prospect of massive commercial gain, have been thrusting on the rest of the world—is introduced: "the United States should help bring these benefits [of biotechnology] to the 800 million people, including 300 million children, who still suffer from hunger and deprivation." In line with this, the US and the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation have been pressing genetically modified [GM] grain as food aid on famine-struck African nations who, for fear of the havoc that could be wreaked in their agriculture, are refusing it. The latter's refusal has become the occasion for veiled threats by the US that the GM grain will be reached to their populations by military intervention. (back)
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