Monday, April 15, 2013

America's Enemy-Industrial Complex

You can own all the locomotives and all the rolling stock in the world but they're useless without tracks.   The same logic holds true for the world's largest, most fearsome military.   What good is it without an ample supply of enemies?

Just as General Motors needs people to buy Chevys, the U.S. military/industrial/commercial warfighting complex needs a world full of potential enemies and, when it runs short, it has to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with some imminent threat, no matter how implausible.   Tom Englehardt of Tom Dispatch says the villain of last resort at the moment is some pudgy weirdo from North Korea.

In the previous century, there were two devastating global wars, which left significant parts of the planet in ruins.  There was also a "cold war" between two superpowers locked in a system of mutual assured destruction (aptly acronymed as MAD) whose nuclear arsenals were capable of destroying the planet many times over.  Had you woken up any morning in the years between December 7, 1941, and December 26, 1991, and been told that the leading international candidate for America's Public Enemy Number One was Kim Jong-un’s ramshackle, comic-opera regime in North Korea, you might have gotten down on your hands and knees and sent thanks to pagan gods.

The same would be true for the other candidates for that number one position since September 11, 2001: the original al-Qaeda (largely decimated), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula located in poverty-stricken areas of poverty-stricken Yemen, the Taliban in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, unnamed jihadis scattered across poverty-stricken areas of North Africa, or Iran, another rickety regional power run by not particularly adept theocrats.

...We constantly hear about “threats” to us and to the “homeland.”  And yet, when you knock on the door marked “Enemy,” there’s seldom anyone home.

Few in this country have found this striking.  Few seem to notice any disjuncture between the enemy-ridden, threatening, and deeply dangerous world we have been preparing ourselves for (and fighting in) this last decade-plus and the world as it actually is, even those who lived through significant parts of the last anxiety-producing, bloody century.

Let’s admit it: enemies can have their uses.  And let’s admit as well that it’s in the interest of some in our country that we be seen as surrounded by constant and imminent dangers on an enemy-filled planet.  Let’s also admit that the world is and always will be a dangerous place in all sorts of ways.

 ...And let’s admit as well that, in the wake of [America's recent] wars and operations, Americans now have more enemies, more angry, embittered people who would like to do us harm than on September 10, 2001.  Let’s accept that somewhere out there are people who, as George W. Bush once liked to say, “hate us" and what we stand for.  (I leave just what we actually stand for to you, for the moment.)

...The U.S. probably in less danger from external enemies than at any moment in the last century.  There is no other imperial power on the planet capable of, or desirous of, taking on American power directly, including China.  It’s true that, on September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers with box cutters produced a remarkable, apocalyptic, and devastating TV show in which almost 3,000 people died.  When those giant towers in downtown New York collapsed, it certainly had the look of nuclear disaster (and in those first days, the media was filled was nuclear-style references), but it wasn’t actually an apocalyptic event.

Creating an Enemy-Industrial Complex

Without an enemy of commensurate size and threat, so much that was done in Washington in these years might have been unattainable.  The vast national security building and spending spree -- stretching from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erected its new $1.8 billion headquarters, to Bluffdale, Utah, where the National Security Agency is still constructing a $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center for storing the world’s intercepted communications -- would have been unlikely.

Without the fear of an enemy capable of doing anything, money at ever escalating levels would never have poured into homeland security, or the Pentagon, or a growing complex of crony corporations associated with our weaponized safety.  The exponential growth of the national security complex, as well as of the powers of the executive branch when it comes to national security matters, would have far been less likely.

Englehardt has written a compelling and timely article and it's well worth checking out in its entirety.  Even for Canadians it serves as a cautionary tale of what lies in store for nations who sign on as America's Foreign Legion which is pretty much what the F-35 is all about.

Forget about the cost of that goddamned airplane or all of its delays and shortcomings - forget about all the crap you hear from the opposition parties in Ottawa.   They haven't got the guts to talk about what's really important in the F-35 debate, the outsourcing of Canada's military and foreign policy.   And even the Australians have figured out that's a dangerous and high-risk gambit.


Anonymous said...

On another front in the Great War;

"Meanwhile, extracting stolen oil and minerals depends on keeping African states weak and divided. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example – whose mines produce tens of billions of mineral resources each year – were only, in one recent financial year, able to collect a paltry $32million in tax revenues from mining due to the proxy war waged against that country by Western-backed militias.

The African Union, established in 2002 was a threat to all of this: a more integrated, more unified African continent would be harder to exploit. Of special concern to Western strategic planners are the financial and military aspects of African unification."

Some more;

"The biggest obstacle to this plan was the African Union itself, which categorically rejected any US military presence on African soil in 2008 – forcing AFRICOM to house its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, a humiliating about turn after President Bush had already publicly announced his intention to set up the HQ in Africa itself."


"Worse was to come in 2009, when Colonel Gaddafi – the continent’s staunchest advocate of anti-imperialist policies – was elected Chairman of the AU. Under his leadership, Libya had already become the biggest financial donor to the African Union, and he was now proposing a fast-track process of African integration, including a single African army, currency and passport.

His fate is clearly now a matter of public record. After mounting an invasion of his country based on a pack of lies worse than those told about Iraq, NATO reduced Libya to a devastated failed state and facilitated its leader’s torture and execution, thus taking out their number one opponent. For a time, it appeared as though the African Union had been tamed."

Harpers photo op and fly by celebration of CF involvement in Libya cost $850,000.

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."

General Smedley Butler, America's most decorated Soldier. Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933

On the Road to Syria; if Bob and Bing were still around, it could have been a movie.

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

Al said...

The USA has found its true enemy, and it is their own citizens.