Chalmers Johnson "Nemisis" 2006Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” excerpts cited in file box
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” excerpts cited at the World Traveler
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” excerpts cited at Tom Hull on the Web
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” more quotes
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” more quotes
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” more info
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” more info
I never planned to write three books about the decline and fall of the American empire, but events intervened. In March 2000, well before 9/11, I published Blowback, based on my years of teaching and writing about East Asia. I had become convinced by then that some secret U.S. government operations and acts in distant lands would come back to haunt us. “Blowback” does not mean just revenge but rather retaliation for covert, illegal violence that our government has carried out abroad that it kept totally secret from the American public (even though such acts are seldom secret among the people on the receiving end). It was a term invented by the Central Intelligence Agency and first used in its “after-action report” about the 1953 overthrow of the elected government of Premier Mohammad Mossadeq in Iran. This coup brought to power the U.S.-supported Shah of Iran, who would in 1979 be overthrown by Iranian revolutionaries and Islamic fundamentalists. The Ayatollah Khomeini replaced the Shah and installed the predecessors of the current, anti-American government in Iran.1 This would be one kind of blowback from America’s first venture into illegal, clandestine “regime change”—but as the attacks of September 11, 2001, showed us all too graphically, hardly the only one.
My book Blowback was not much noticed in the United States until after 9/11, when my suggestion that our covert policies abroad might be coming back to haunt us gained new meaning. Many Americans began to ask—as President Bush did—“Why do they hate us?” The answer was not that some countries hate us because of our democracy, wealth, lifestyle, or values but because of things our government did to various peoples around the world. The counterblows directed against Americans seem, of course, as out of the blue as those airplanes on that September morning because most Americans have no framework that would link cause and effect. The terrorist attacks of September 11 are the clearest examples of blowback in modern international relations. In the initial book in this trilogy, I predicted the likely retaliation that was due against the United States, but I never foresaw the terrorist nature of the attacks, nor the incredibly inept reaction of our government.
On that fateful Tuesday morning in the early autumn of 2001, it soon became clear that the suicidal rammings of hijacked airliners into symbolically significant buildings were acts of what the Pentagon calls “asymmetric warfare” (a rare instance in which bureaucratic jargon proved more accurate than the term “terrorism” in common use). I talked with friends and colleagues around the nation about what group or groups might have carried out such attacks. The veterans of our largest clandestine war—when we recruited, armed, and sent into battle Islamic mujahideen (freedom fighters) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1980s—did not immediately come to mind. Most of us thought of Chileans because of the date: September 11, 1973, was the day the CIA secretly helped General Augusto Pinochet overthrow Salvador Allende, the leftist elected president of Chile. Others thought of the victims of the Greek colonels we put in power in 1967, or Okinawans venting their rage over the sixty-year occupation of their island by our military. Guatemalans, Cubans, Congolese, Brazilians, Argentines, Indonesians, Palestinians, Panamanians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos, South Koreans, Taiwanese, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and many others had good reason to attack us.
The Bush administration, however, did everything in its power to divert us from thinking that our own actions might have had something to do with such suicidal attacks on us. At a press conference on October 11, 2001, the president posed the question, “How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America?” He then answered himself, “I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am—like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.” Bush has, of course, never once allowed that the United States might bear some responsibility for what happened on 9/11. In a 2004 commencement address at the Air Force Academy, for instance, he asserted, “No act of America explains terrorist violence, and no concession of America could appease it. The terrorists who attacked our country on September 11, 2001, were not protesting our policies. They were protesting our existence.”2
But Osama bin Laden made clear why he attacked us. In a videotaped statement broadcast by Al Jazeera on October 7, 2001, a few weeks after the attacks, he gave three reasons for his enmity against the United States. The U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iraq from 1991 to 9/11: “One million Iraqi children have thus far died although they did not do anything wrong”; American policies toward Israel and the occupied territories: “I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine . . .”; the stationing of U.S. troops and the building of military bases in Saudi Arabia: “and before all the army of infidels [American soldiers] depart the land of Muhammad [Saudi Arabia].”3 Not a word about Muslim rage against Western civilization; no sign that his followers were motivated by, as the president would put it, “hatred for the values cherished in the West [such] as freedom, tolerance, prosperity, religious pluralism, and universal suffrage”; no support for New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman’s contention that the hijackers had left no list of demands because they had none, that “their act was their demand.”4
The attempt to disguise or avoid the policy-based reasons for 9/11 fed the rantings of Christian fundamentalists in the United States. Televangelist Pat Robertson, later joined by Jerry Falwell, declared that “liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals, and abortion rights supporters bear some responsibility for [the] terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God’s anger against America,” and they launched a hate campaign against all Muslims. Jimmy Swaggart called Muhammad a “sex deviant” and a pervert and suggested that Muslim students in the United States be expelled.5 The Pentagon added its bit of insanity to this religious mix when army lieutenant general William G. “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, argued in public in full uniform without subsequent official reprimand that “they” hate us “because we are a Christian nation,” that Bush was appointed by God, that the Special Forces are inspired by God, that our enemy is “a guy named Satan,” and that we defeat Islamic terrorists only “if we come at them in the name of Jesus.”6
Because Americans generally failed to consider seriously why we had been attacked on 9/11, the Bush administration was able to respond in a way that made the situation far worse. I believed at the time and feel no differently five years later that we should have treated the attacks as crimes against the innocent, not as acts of war. We should have proceeded against al-Qaeda the same way we might have against organized crime. It would have been wise to call what we were doing an “emergency,” as the British did in fighting the Malay guerrillas in the 1950s, not a “war.” The day after 9/11, Simon Jenkins, the former editor of the Times of London, insightfully wrote: “The message of yesterday’s incident is that, for all its horror, it does not and must not be allowed to matter. It is a human disaster, an outrage, an atrocity, an unleashing of the madness of which the world will never be rid. But it is not politically significant. It does not tilt the balance of world power one inch. It is not an act of war. America’s leadership of the West is not diminished by it. The cause of democracy is not damaged, unless we choose to let it be damaged.”7
Had we followed Jenkins’s advice we could have retained the cooperation and trust of our democratic allies, remained the aggrieved party of 9/11, built criminal cases that would have stood up in any court of law, and won the hearts and minds of populations al-Qaeda was trying to mobilize. We would have avoided entirely contravening the Geneva Conventions covering the treatment of prisoners of war and never have headed down the path of torturing people we picked up almost at random in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. government would have had no need to lie to its own citizens and the rest of the world about the nonexistent nuclear threat posed by Iraq or carry out a phony preventive war against that country.
Instead, we undermined the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance and brought to power in Iraq allies of the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran.8 Contrary to what virtually every strategist recommended as an effective response to terrorism, we launched our high-tech military against some of the poorest, weakest people on Earth. In Afghanistan, our aerial bombardment “bounced the rubble” we had helped create there by funding, arming, and advising the anti-Soviet war of the 1980s and gave “warlordism, banditry, and opium production a new lease on life.”9 In Iraq our “shock and awe” assault invited comparison with the sacking of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols.10 In his address to Congress on September 20, 2001, President Bush declared that the coming battle was to be global, Manichean, and simple. You are, he said, either “with us or against us” (failing to acknowledge that both Jesus and Lenin used the phrase first). His actions would ensure that, in the years to come, there would be ever more people around the world “against us.”11
As I watched these post-9/11 developments, it became apparent to me that, even more than in most past empires, a well-entrenched militarism lay at the heart of our imperial adventures. It is a sad fact that the United States no longer manufactures much—with the exception of weaponry. We are without question the world’s greatest producer and exporter of arms and munitions on the planet. Although we are going deeply into debt doing so, each year we spend more on our armed forces than all other nations on Earth combined. In The Sorrows of Empire, I tried to analyze the nature of this militarism and to expose the harm it was doing, not only to others but to our own society and governmental system.
After all, we now station over half a million U.S. troops, spies, contractors, dependents, and others on more than 737 military bases spread around the world. These bases are located in more than 130 countries, many of them presided over by dictatorial regimes that have given their citizens no say in the decision to let us in. The Pentagon publishes an inventory of the real estate it owns in its annual Base Structure Report, but its official count of between 737 and 860 overseas installations is incomplete, omitting all our espionage bases and a number of others that are secret or could be embarrassing to the United States. For example, it leaves out the air force base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan, formerly part of the Soviet Union and today part of our attempt to roll back the influence of the Soviet Union’s successor state, Russia, and to control crucial Caspian Sea oil. It even neglects to mention the three bases built in tiny Qatar over the past few years, the headquarters for our high command during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, so as not to embarrass the emir of that country, who invited in our “infidel” soldiers. This same kind of embarrassment to the government of Saudi Arabia, not to mention the public displeasure of the Saudi national Osama bin Laden, forced us to move our forces out of that country and to Qatar in the years immediately preceding the assault on Iraq.
The purpose of all these bases is “force projection,” or the maintenance of American military hegemony over the rest of the world. They facilitate our “policing” of the globe and are meant to ensure that no other nation, friendly or hostile, can ever challenge us militarily. In The Sorrows of Empire I described this planet-spanning baseworld, including the history and development of various installations, the creation of an airline—the Air Mobility Command—to connect them to one another and to Washington, and the comforts available to our personnel through the military’s various “Morale, Welfare, and Recreation” (MWR) commands. Some of the “rest-and-recreation” facilities include the armed forces ski center at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps, over two hundred military golf courses around the world, some seventy-one Learjets and other luxury aircraft to fly admirals and generals to such watering holes, and luxury hotels for our troops and their families in Tokyo, Seoul, on the Italian Riviera, at Florida’s Disney World, and many other places.
Americans cannot truly appreciate the impact of our bases elsewhere because there are no foreign military bases within the United States. We have no direct experience of such unwelcome features of our military encampments abroad as the networks of brothels around their main gates, the nightly bar brawls, the sexually violent crimes against civilians, and the regular hit-and-run accidents. These, together with noise and environmental pollution, are constant blights we inflict on local populations to maintain our lifestyle. People who live near our bases must also put up with the racial and religious insults that our culturally ignorant, high-handed troops often think is their right to dish out. Imperialism means one nation imposing its will on others through the threat or actual use of force. Imperialism is a root cause of blowback. Our global garrisons provide that threat and are a cause of blowback.
It takes a lot of people to garrison the globe. Service in our armed forces is no longer a short-term obligation of citizenship, as it was back in 1953 when I served in the navy. Since 1973, it has been a career choice, one often made by citizens trying to escape from the poverty and racism that afflict our society. That is why African-Americans are twice as well represented in the army as they are in our population, even though the numbers have been falling as the war in Iraq worsens, and why 50 percent of the women in the armed forces are minorities. That is why the young people in our colleges and universities today remain, by and large, indifferent to America’s wars and covert operations: without the draft, such events do not affect them personally and therefore need not distract them from their studies and civilian pursuits.
American veterans of World War II, Korea, or Vietnam simply would not recognize life in the modern armed services. As the troops no longer do KP (“kitchen police”), the old World War II movie gags about GIs endlessly peeling mountains of potatoes would be meaningless today. We farm out such work to private military companies like KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root), a subdivision of the Halliburton Corporation, of which Dick Cheney was CEO before he became vice president. It is an extremely lucrative business for them. Of the $57 billion that was appropriated for Iraq operations at the outset of the invasion, a good third of it went to civilian contractors to supply meals, drive trucks and buses, provide security guards, and do all other housekeeping work to maintain our various bases.
When you include its array of privately outsourced services, our professional, permanent military currently costs around three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year. This amount includes the annual Defense Department appropriation for weapons and salaries of more than $425 billion (the president’s request for fiscal year 2007 was $439.3 billion), plus another $120 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $16.4 billion for nuclear weapons and the Department of Energy’s weapons laboratories, $12.2 billion in the Military Construction Appropriations Bill, and well over $100 billion in pensions, hospital costs, and disability payments for our veterans, many of whom have been severely wounded.12 But we are not actually paying for these expenses. Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian investors are. We are putting them on the tab and so running the largest governmental as well as trade deficits in modern economic history. Sooner or later, our militarism will threaten the nation with bankruptcy.
Until the 2004 presidential election, ordinary citizens of the United States could at least claim that our foreign policy, including our illegal invasion of Iraq, was the work of George Bush’s administration and that we had not put him in office. In 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and was appointed president thanks to the intervention of the Supreme Court in a 5–4 decision. In November 2004, regardless of claims about voter fraud, Bush won the popular vote by over 3.5 million ballots, making his wars ours. The political system failed not because we elected one candidate rather than another as president, since neither offered a responsible alternative to aggressive war and militarism, but because the election essentially endorsed and ratified the policies we had pursued since 9/11.
Whether Americans intended it or not, we are now seen around the world as having approved the torture of captives at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at secret prisons around the world, as well as having seconded Bush’s claim that, as a commander in chief in “wartime,” he is beyond all constraints of the Constitution or international law. We are now saddled with a rigged economy based on record-setting deficits, the most secretive and intrusive American government in memory, the pursuit of “preventive” war as a basis for foreign policy, and a potential epidemic of nuclear proliferation as other nations attempt to adjust to and defend themselves from our behavior, while our own, already staggering nuclear arsenal expands toward first-strike primacy.
The crisis the United States faces today is not just the military failure of Bush’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the discrediting of America’s intelligence agencies, or our government’s not-so-secret resort to torture and illegal imprisonment. It is above all a growing international distrust and disgust in the face of our contempt for the rule of law. Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution says, in part, “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” The Geneva Conventions of 1949, covering the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians in wartime, are treaties the U.S. government promoted, signed, and ratified. They are therefore the supreme law of the land. Neither the president, nor the secretary of defense, nor the attorney general has the authority to alter them or to choose whether or not to abide by them so long as the Constitution has any meaning.
Despite the administration’s endless propaganda about bringing freedom and democracy to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, most citizens of those countries who have come into contact with our armed forces (and survived) have had their lives ruined. The courageous, anonymous young Iraqi woman who runs the Internet Web site Baghdad Burning wrote on May 7, 2004: “I don’t understand the ‘shock’ Americans claim to feel at the lurid pictures [from Abu Ghraib prison]. You’ve seen the troops break down doors and terrify women and children . . . curse, scream, push, pull, and throw people to the ground with a boot over their head. You’ve seen troops shoot civilians in cold blood. You’ve seen them bomb cities and towns. You’ve seen them burn cars and humans using tanks and helicopters. . . . I sometimes get e-mails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today’s lesson: don’t rape, don’t torture, don’t kill, and get out while you can—while it still looks like you have a choice. . . . Chaos? Civil war? We’ll take our chances—just take your puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.”13
In July 2004, Zogby International Surveys polled 3,300 Arabs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. When asked to identify “the best thing that comes to mind about America,” virtually all respondents answered “nothing at all.” There are today approximately 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide, some 22 percent of the global population. Through our policies, we have turned virtually all of them against the United States.14
Unfortunately, our political system may no longer be capable of saving the United States as we know it, since it is hard to imagine any president or Congress standing up to the powerful vested interests of the Pentagon, the secret intelligence agencies, and the military-industrial complex. Given that 40 percent of the defense budget is now secret as is every intelligence agency budget, it is impossible for Congress to provide effective oversight even if its members wanted to. Although this process of enveloping such spending in darkness and lack of accountability has reached its apogee with the Bush administration, the Defense Department’s “black budgets” go back to the atomic-bomb-building Manhattan Project of World War II. The amounts spent on the intelligence agencies have been secret ever since the CIA was created in 1947.
If our republican form of government is to be saved, only an upsurge of direct democracy might be capable of doing so. In the spring of 2003, before our troops could be launched into Iraq, some 10 million people in all the genuine democracies on Earth demonstrated fervently against the onrushing war, against George Bush, and for democracy, including an estimated 1,750,000 people in London, 750,000 in New York, 2,500,000 in Rome, 1,500,000 each in Madrid and Barcelona, 800,000 in Paris, and 500,000 in Berlin.15 However, the sole victory of this movement came on March 14, 2004, with the election of Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. If democracy means anything at all, it means that public opinion matters. Zapatero understood that over 80 percent of Spaniards opposed Bush’s war against Iraq, and he immediately withdrew all Spanish forces. The task of democrats worldwide is to replicate the Spanish achievement in their own societies.
In early 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, I was putting the finishing touches on my portrait of the global reach of American military bases. In it, I suggested the sorrows already invading our lives, which were likely to be our fate for years to come: perpetual war, a collapse of constitutional government, endemic official lying and disinformation, and finally bankruptcy. At book’s end, I advocated reforms intended to head off these outcomes but warned that “[f]ailing such a reform, Nemesis, the goddess of retribution and vengeance, the punisher of pride and hubris, waits impatiently for her meeting with us.”
This line inspired poet John Shreffler to pen his conception of such a goddess, American style. In the poem “Neighborhood Girl,” he imagines her as an adolescent tomboy from elsewhere, no doubt cruel and merciless when playing the divine role assigned to her but also the niece of Erato, the muse of love poetry. He wrote in part:
She’s new to the neighborhood, her family just moved in
From Greece or somewhere, she’s a great, tall, gawky girl
With braces and earrings and uneven skin:
Hormones and acne, her change is coming in, . . .
Her name is Nemesis and she’s just moved in,
She’s new to the neighborhood, she’s checking it out.16
As the Dutch folklorist Micha F. Lindemans reminds us, “Nemesis is the goddess of divine justice and vengeance. . . . [She] pursues the insolent and the wicked with inflexible vengeance. . . . She is portrayed as a serious-looking woman with in her left hand a whip, a rein, a sword, or a pair of scales.”17 Nemesis is a bit like Richard Wagner’s Valkyrie Brünnhilde, except that Brünnhilde collects heroes, not fools and hypocrites. Nonetheless, Brünnhilde’s way of announcing herself applies also to Nemesis: “Nur Todgeweihten taugt mein Anblick” (Only the doomed see me).18
I remain hopeful that Americans can still rouse themselves to save our democracy. But the time in which to head off financial and moral bankruptcy is growing short. The present book is my attempt to explain how we got where we are, the manifold distortions we have imposed on the system we inherited from the Founding Fathers, and what we would have to do to avoid our appointment with Nemesis, now that she’s in the neighborhood. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cite by Macmillon
Chapter One: Militarism and the Breakdown of Constitutional Government
Last week, filled with grief and sorrow for those killed and injured and with anger at those who had done this, I confronted the solemn responsibility of voting to authorize the country to go to war. Some believe this resolution was only symbolic, designed to show national resolve. But I could not ignore that it provided explicit authority, under the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution, to go to war. It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events — anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration. I could not support such a grant of war-making authority to the president; I believe it would put more innocent lives at risk.
— Congresswoman Barbara Lee ([Democrat from California], the only member of Congress to vote against the transfer of the war power to the president for the invasion of Afghanistan), San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2001
One of the oddest features of political life in the United States in the years since the terrorist attacks is how few people have thought or acted like Barbara Lee. The public expresses itself in opinion polls, which some students of politics scrutinize intently, but there is little passion in the society, certainly none proportionate to the threats facing our democratic republic. The United States today is like a cruise ship on the Niagara River upstream of the most spectacular falls in North America. A few people on board have begun to pick up a slight hiss in the background, to observe a faint haze of mist in the air or on their glasses, to note that the river current seems to be running slightly faster. But no one yet seems to have realized that it is almost too late to head for shore.
Like the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, imperial German, Nazi, imperial Japanese, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Soviet empires in the last century, we are approaching the edge of a huge waterfall and are about to plunge over it.
If the American democratic system is no longer working as planned, if the constitutional checks and balances as well as other structures put in place by the founders to prevent tyranny are increasingly less operational, we have not completely lacked for witnesses of every stripe, domestic and foreign. General Tommy Franks, commander of the American assault on Baghdad, for instance, went so far as to predict that another serious terrorist attack on the United States would "begin to unravel the fabric of our Constitution," and under such circumstances, he was open to the idea that "the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military form of government." The historian Kevin Baker feared that we are no longer far from the day when, like the Roman Senate in 27 B.C., our Congress will take its last meaningful vote and turn over power to a military dictator. "In the end, we'll beg for the coup," he wrote.
On October 10, 2002, Senator Robert Byrd (Democrat from West Virginia) asked plaintively about the separation of powers, "Why are we being hounded into action on a resolution that turns over to President Bush the Congress's Constitutional power to declare war? ... The judgment of history will not be kind to us if we take this step." Nonetheless, the following day, the resolution carried by a 77–23 vote in the Senate and 296–133 in the House of Representatives. The Berkshire Eagle editorialized, "The Senate, which was designed by the framers of the Constitution to act as a brake on the popular passions of the day, was little more than a speed bump under the White House steamroller." The libertarian writer Bill Winter conjectured that the problem was "the monarchization of America under Bush." Adam Young, a Canadian political commentator, wondered, "How did the chief magistrate of a confederated republic degrade into the global tyrant we experience today, part secular pope, part military despot, part pseudo-philosopher-king and full-time overbearing global gangster?" Indeed, that is the question for all of us.
Former British foreign secretary Robin Cook noted that "[a]ll the checks and balances that the founding fathers constructed to restrain presidential power are broken instruments." Cook observed the hubris and megalomania that flowed from this in John Bolton, then the number three official at the State Department (subsequently ambassador to the United Nations). When asked about possible incentives that might cause Iran to end its nuclear ambitions, Bolton replied, "I don't do carrots." Cook accurately predicted that members of the Bush administration "will ... celebrate their  election victory by putting [the Iraqi city of] Fallujah to the torch," as they did that very November.
Marine general Anthony Zinni, General Franks's predecessor as Centcom commander in the Middle East, worried about the way the Pentagon was further expanding its powers at the expense of other agencies of government. "Why the hell," he asked, "would the Department of Defense be the organization in our government that deals with the reconstruction of Iraq? Doesn't make sense." One anonymous foreign service officer supplied an answer to Los Angeles Times reporter Sonni Efron, "I just wake up in the morning and tell myself, 'There's been a military coup,' and then it all makes sense." Even the president himself was a witness of sorts to the changes under way, baldly asserting at a White House press conference on April 13, 2004, that he was "the ultimate decision-maker for this country" — a notion that would have appalled the authors of the Constitution.
I believe that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have led the country into a perilous cul-de-sac, but they did not do it alone and removing them from office will not necessarily solve the problem. The crisis of government in the United States has been building at least since World War II. The emergence of the imperial presidency and the atrophying of the legislative and judicial branches have deep roots in the postwar military-industrial complex, in the way broad sectors of the public have accepted the military as our most effective public institution, and in aberrations in our electoral system. The interesting issue is not the damage done by Bush, Cheney, and their followers but how they were able to get away with it, given the barriers that exist in the Constitution to prevent just the sorts of misuses of power for which they have become notorious.
Historian Carol Berkin in her book A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the Constitution argues that the nation's "Founders — including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania and dozens of others — envisioned a supreme legislative branch as the heart and soul of America's central government... . America's modern presidency, with all its trappings, would be unimaginable to men like Madison, Washington, and Franklin. Of all those historic figures at the 1787 [Constitutional] Convention, perhaps only Alexander Hamilton would relish today's playing of 'Hail to the Chief.' "
The intent of the founders was to prevent a recurrence of the tyranny they had endured under Britain's King George III. They bent all their ingenuity and practical experience to preventing tyrannies of one, of the few, of a majority, of the monied classes, or of any other group that might obtain and exercise unchecked power, often adopting institutional precedents from the Roman Republic. Inspired by the French political philosopher Montesquieu's discussion of the "separation of powers" in his On the Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748, the drafters of the American Constitution produced a sophisticated scheme to balance power in a republic. The most basic structure they chose was federalism, setting up the states as alternatives to and limitations on the power of the national government. Congress was given that quintessential parliamentary power — control of the budget — without which it would be merely an ornamental body like the "people's congresses" in communist-dominated countries. Congress was also charged with initiating all legislation, making the final decision to go to war, and if necessary getting rid of an unsatisfactory president by impeachment, something also achievable through periodic elections. To moderate the power of Congress somewhat, the Constitution divided it into two quite differently elected and apportioned houses, each capable of vetoing the other's decisions.
Both houses of Congress must ultimately pass all laws, and the president, who is entrusted with implementing them, is given a veto as well. The Congress, in turn, can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds vote, and even when Congress and the president agree on a law, the Supreme Court, exercising the function of interpreting the laws, can still declare it unconstitutional. The president and members of Congress must be re-elected or leave office, but judges serve for life, although Congress can impeach them. The president nominates the heads of the cabinet departments, who serve at his pleasure, as well as all judges, but the Senate must approve them.
Over time, this balance-of-power spirit came to influence other institutions of government that the Constitution did not mention, including the armed forces, where competition among the services — the army, navy, air force, and Marine Corps — dilutes somewhat the enormous coercive power entrusted to them. To prevent a tyranny of the majority, the Constitution authorizes fixed terms and fixed times for elections (borrowed from the Roman Republic) as a way to interfere with the monopolization of power by an individual, an oligarchy, or a political party.
Unfortunately, after more than two centuries (about the same length of time that the Roman Republic was in its prime), this framework has almost completely disintegrated. For those who believe that the structure of government in Washington today bears some resemblance to that outlined in the Constitution of 1787, the burden of proof is on them. The president now dominates the government in a way no ordinary monarch possibly could. He has at his disposal the clandestine services of the CIA, a private army unaccountable to the Congress, the press, or the public because everything it does is secret. No president since Harry Truman, having discovered what unlimited power the CIA affords him, has ever failed to use it. Meanwhile, the "defense" budgets of the Pentagon dwarf those of the rest of the government and have undermined democratic decision making in the process. Funds for military hardware are distributed in as many states as possible to ensure that any member of Congress who might consider voting against a new weapons system would be accused of putting some of his constituents out of work.
When in May 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listed a large number of unneeded domestic military bases that he wanted to close as an economy measure, the affected communities promptly erupted in protest and began frantic lobbying efforts to "save" their particular installations. Advocates of keeping the bases open phrase their arguments in terms of national security, but the true reason is jobs, jobs, jobs. As the philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote at the height of the Cold War, "It is no secret that the billions of dollars demanded by the Pentagon for the armaments industry are necessary not for 'national security' but for keeping the economy from collapsing."
"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." It is not precisely clear who first spoke these immortal words — Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, or the antislavery abolitionist Wendell Phillips — but during the Cold War and its aftermath, Americans were not particularly vigilant when it came to excessive concentration of power in the presidency and its appendages, and we are now paying a very high price for that. From the founding of the republic to the moment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address in 1961, some of our leaders have warned us that the greatest threat to our republican structure of government is war, including its associated maladies of standing armies, a military-industrial complex, and all the vested interests that develop around a massive military establishment.
The classic statement of this threat was by the chief author of the Constitution, James Madison:
Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both. No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare … War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.
The United States has been continuously engaged in or mobilized for war since 1941. Using statistics compiled by the Federation of American Scientists, Gore Vidal has listed 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and September 11, 2001, in which the United States struck the first blow. Among these, a typical example was Operation Urgent Fury in 1983, "Reagan's attack on the island of Grenada, a month-long caper that General [Alexander M.] Haig disloyally said could have been handled more efficiently by the Provincetown police department." Excluding minor military operations, Drexel University historian and political scientist Michael Sullivan counts only "invasions, interventions, and regime changes since World War II" and comes up with thirty bloody, often clandestine, American wars from Greece (1947–49) to Yugoslavia (1995 and 1999). Neither of these compilations included the wars in Afghanistan (2001–) and Iraq (2003–).
It should be noted that since 1947, while we have used our military power for political and military gain in a long list of countries, in no instance has democratic government come about as a direct result. In some important cases, on the other hand, democracy has developed in opposition to our interference — for example, after the collapse of the regime of the CIA-installed Greek colonels in 1974; after the demise of the U.S.-supported fascist dictatorships in Portugal in 1974 and Spain in 1975; after the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986; after the ouster of General Chun Doo-Hwan in South Korea in 1987; and after the ending of thirty-eight years of martial law on the island of Taiwan in the same year. The United States holds the unenviable record of having helped install and then supported such dictators as the Shah of Iran, General Suharto in Indonesia, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and Sese Seko Mobutu in Congo/Zaire, not to mention the series of American-backed militarists in South Vietnam and Cambodia until we were finally expelled from Indochina. In addition, for decades we ran one of the most extensive international terrorist operations in history against Cuba and Nicaragua because their struggles for national independence had produced outcomes that we did not like.
The unintended result of this record of militarism is the contemporary Leviathan that dominates Washington, threatening our nation with bankruptcy, turning many of the organs of our "free press" into Pravda-like mouthpieces, and disgracing the nation by allowing our young men and women to torture prisoners picked up on various battlefields or even snatched from city streets in allied countries. In using the term "militarism," I want to distinguish it from defense of country. No one questions the need to raise a citizens' army and the obligation of able-bodied men and women to serve in it in order to defend the nation from foreign aggression. But the wars listed above are virtually all ones that we entered by choice rather than out of necessity. In many cases, they were shrouded in secrecy, while our political leaders lied to Congress and the public about the need to fight them. The launching of the Vietnam and Iraq wars are only the most blatant examples of presidential deception. There are almost certainly several cases currently hidden behind the walls of "classification" in which we secretly fomented the downfall of a government and offered clandestine assistance to the side we favored. Most recently, these may well include the abortive attempt to overthrow President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela in April 2002 and the use of front organizations to bring to power pro-U.S. governments in the former Soviet states of Georgia in November 2003 and the Ukraine in November 2004.
Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and a Vietnam veteran with twenty-three years of service in the U.S. Army, believes, "Americans in our own time have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force. To a degree without precedent in U.S. history, Americans have come to define the nation's strength and well-being in terms of military preparedness, military action, and the fostering of (or nostalgia for) military ideals."
How did this come about? As a start, we have indeed fought too many wars of choice, starting in 1898 with our imperialist conquests of the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and our establishment of a protectorate over Cuba, shortly followed by World War I. World War II, while not a war of choice, produced the most complete mobilization of resources in our history and led to the deployment of our forces on every continent. After the victory of 1945, some Americans urged a rapid demobilization, which actually was well under way when the Cold War and the Korean War restored and enlarged our military apparatus. It would never again be reined in, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The inevitable result was a continual transfer of powers to the presidency exactly as Madison had predicted, the use of executive secrecy to freeze out Congress and the judiciary, the loss of congressional mastery over the budget, and the rise of two new, extraconstitutional centers of power that are today out of control — the Department of Defense and the fifteen intelligence organizations, the best known of which is the Central Intelligence Agency. I believe we will never again know peace, nor in all probability survive very long as a nation, unless we abolish the CIA, restore intelligence collecting to the State Department, and remove all but purely military functions from the Pentagon. Even if we did those things, the mystique of America as a model democracy may have been damaged beyond repair. Certainly, under the best of circumstances, it will take a generation or more to overcome the image of "America as torturer."
In 1964, Hannah Arendt addressed a similar problem when she tried to plumb the evil of the Nazi regime. Her book Eichmann in Jerusalem dealt with the trial of the former SS officer Adolf Eichmann, who was charged with organizing the transport of Jews to death camps during World War II. She subtitled her book A Report on the Banality of Evil but used that now famous phrase only once, at book's end, without explaining it further." Long after Arendt's death, Jerome Kohn, a colleague, compiled a volume of her essays entitled Responsibility and Judgment. What made Eichmann both evil and banal, Arendt concluded in one of those essays, was his inability to think for himself.
"Some years ago," she wrote, "reporting the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem, I spoke of the 'banality of evil' and meant with this no theory or doctrine but something quite factual, the phenomenon of evil deeds, committed on a gigantic scale, which could not be traced to any particularity of wickedness, pathology, or ideological conviction in the doer, whose only personal distinction was perhaps an extraordinary shallowness. However monstrous the deeds were, the doer was neither monstrous nor demonic, and the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think."
Arendt was trying to locate Eichmann's conscience. She called him a "desk murderer," an equally apt term for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld - for anyone, in fact, who orders remote-control killing of the modern sort-the bombardment of a country that lacks any form of air defense, the firing of cruise missiles from a warship at sea into countries unable to respond, such as Iraq, Sudan, or Afghanistan, or, say, the unleashing of a Hellfire missile from a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle controlled by "pilots" thousands of miles from the prospective target.
How do ordinary people become desk murderers? First, they must lose the ability to think because, according to Arendt, "thinking conditions men against evil doing." Jerome Kohn adds, "With some degree of confidence it may be said that the ability to think, which Eichmann lacked, is the precondition of judging, and that the refusal as well as the inability to judge, to imagine before your eyes the others whom your judgment represents and to whom it responds, invite evil to enter and infect the world." To lack a personal conscience means "never to start the soundless solitary dialogue we call thinking?”
If an individual's thinking is short-circuited and does not rise to the level of making judgments, he or she is able to understand acts, including evil acts, only in terms of following orders, doing one's duty, being loyal to one's "homeland' maintaining solidarity with one's fellow soldiers, or surrendering one's will to that of the group. This phenomenon(is common in some forms of political life, as Arendt demonstrated in her most famous work, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, but is ubiquitous in military life, where, in order to prevail in battle, soldiers have been conditioned to follow orders instantly and to act as a cohesive group. In such roles, cliches, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention which all events and facts arouse by virtue of their existence." This is one reason why democratic republics must be particularly vigilant about standing armies and wars of choice if, that is, they intend to retain their liberties.
At Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, some American soldiers had become so inured to the torture of Iraqi inmates that they made a screen saver of naked Iraqi captives stacked in a "pyramid" with their tormentors looking on and laughing in the background. By contrast, on January 13, 2004, Sergeant Joseph M. Darby of the army's 372nd Military Police Company turned over a computer disk of similar photos from Abu Ghraib of American soldiers torturing Iraqis to the army's Criminal Investigations Division. He said that the photos "violated everything that I personally believed in and everything that I had been taught about the rules of war." Sergeant Darby had not stopped thinking. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.13-22)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited at NPR
…..as a consequence of our half century of devotion to war, we unintentionally abandoned our republican checks on the activities of public officials and elevated the military to a position that places it, in actual practice, beyond the law….. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, “A new paradigm renders obsolete [the Geneva Conventions'] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”….. Richard Myers, a four-star air force general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared categorically to Fox News, “One thing we don't do is we don't torture.”….. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “With respect to detainees, the United States Government complies with its Constitution, its laws, and its treaty obligations. Acts of physical or mental torture are expressly prohibited. The United States Government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees. Torture, and conspiracy to commit torture, are crimes under U.S. law, wherever they may occur in the world.” ….. former secretary of state Colin Powell said on German TV, about U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, “We spent a huge amount of money and we are putting our young men and women on the line, every day, to put in place a form of government that was decided upon by the Afghan people. And we are helping them to rebuild and reconstruct their society. That pattern is the American pattern. We're very proud of it. It's been repeated many times over, and it will be repeated again in Iraq.”
During World War II, in East Asia, the Imperial Japanese Army contrived one of the worst euphemisms ever used to mask criminal acts – namely, “comfort women” to refer to the women and girls abducted in occupied countries and sent to the front lines to serve as prostitutes for Japanese officers and soldiers. This phrase will probably haunt Japan until the end of time. A comparable term invented by the United States military is “collateral damage,” meaning its killing of civilians and the destruction of private property while allegedly pursuing one or another of its unilaterally declared acts of “liberation.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.23-4)
The military also certainly hoped that its adoption of such a neutral, inoffensive expression for ones that might offend of suggest unpleasantness would strengthen the resolve of its soldiers and perhaps prevent them from being held accountable for war crimes.
“Collateral damage” is nowhere recognized, or even mentioned, in humanitarian international law. In fact, intentional attacks of any sort on civilians are prohibited under “Common Article 3” which applies to all four Geneva Conventions. The United States has signed and ratified the Geneva conventions (although it never ratified two supplemental protocols of 1977 that spelled out the international rules of war in greater detail). Common Article 3 prohibits “at anytime and in any place whatsoever" violence, including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture, and outrages to human dignity against protected persons-that is, "persons taking no active part in hostilities' such as civilians, the wounded, and prisoners of war. "Such persons are, in all circumstances, entitled to respect for their honor and religion, and must be protected against insults and public curiosity. No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised to obtain information from them or third parties. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”
Among the gravest contemporary instances of “collateral damage” were the sanctions enforced against Iraq between 1991 and 2003 and the slaughter of afghan and Iraq civilians in the wars waged by the United States after 9/11. On May 11, the CBS television program 60 Minutes made famous one of the more notorious statistics in the history of Iraqi-American relations. In an interview with then secretary of state Madeleine Albright, correspondent Lesley Stahl said, “We have heard that a half million children have died as a result of the sanctions [in Iraq}. That’s more than died in Hiroshima.” Then Stahl asked, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.” Osama bin Laden cited just this statistic as one of the reasons al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11. In her 2003 memoir, Madam secretary, Albright amended her comment this way: “I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaw in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations.” Her clarification, however, was even more disingenuous than her earlier indifference to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. As a former ambassador to the United Nations, she was certainly informed about the sanctions program and its impact. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.25-6) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on Facebook
[During the Gulf War of 1991] the United States dropped some ninety thousand tons of bombs on Iraq in the space of forty-three days, intentionally destroying the civilian infrastructure, including eighteen of twenty electricity-generating plants and the water-pumping and sanitation systems….
Colonel John A Warden III wrote in Airpower Journal, 1995, “[Destruction] of these [electric power] facilities shut down water purification and sewage treatment plants. As a result, epidemics of gastroenteritis, cholera, and typhoid broke out, leading to perhaps as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and a doubling of the infant mortality rate."….
The bombing [of Iraq during the Gulf War of 1991] itself violated international humanitarian law and made the United States liable to charges of war crimes. Article 54 (2) of the "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1), June 8, 1977," explicitly states, "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive."…
On August 2, 1990, the United States and Britain obtained U.N. Security Council Resolution 661 freezing all of Iraq's foreign assets and authorizing the cutting off of all trade. This embargo lasted until the Anglo-American invasion of 2003….
... the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) wrote to he Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society, that 567,000 Iraqi children were estimated to have died as a result of the sanctions….
In addition, the U.S. government reserved the right to veto or delay any items Iraq had ordered, exercising that power often in secret. As Joy Gordon, who teaches philosophy at Fairfield University and is a prolific writer on the Iraq sanctions noted, “In September 2001 nearly one third of water and sanitation and one quarter of electricity and educational—supply contracts were on hold. Between the springs of 2000 and 2002, for example, holds on humanitarian goods tripled.” Among the items the United States stopped from entering Iraq in the winter of 2001 were dialysis, dental and firefighting equipment, water tankers, milk and yogurt production equipment, and printing machines for schools.
Anupama Rao Singh the United Nations Children's Fund representative in Baghdad, observed that food shortages were virtually unknown in Iraq before the sanctions, but that from 1991 to 1998, "children under five were dying from malnutrition-related diseases in numbers ranging from a conservative 2,600 per month to a more realistic 5,357 per month.... (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.26-8) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited by rainbow warrior
…One reason may be surmised from an October 2001 set of instructions a Florida newspaper issued to its staff: "DO NOT USE photos on page 1A showing civilian casualties from the war on Afghanistan .... DO NOT USE wire stories that lead with civilian casualties .... They should be mentioned further down in the story. If the story needs rewriting to play down the civilian casualties, DO IT.”...
...The US military does do body counts, but only publicizes them when they are of propaganda value to the American side. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.30)
…The “independent” Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly asked the US military to obtain Afghan authorization before carrying out attacks, but American officials up to and including President Bush have refused all such requests. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.32)
Jeffery Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, commented on these and later destructive attacks, “American behavior and self-perceptions reveal the ease with which a civilized country can engage in large scale killing of civilians without public discussion…. The American fantasy of a final battle, in Fallujah or elsewhere, or the capture of some terrorist mastermind, perpetuates a cycle of bloodletting that puts the world in peril. Worse still, American public opinion, media and the  election victory of the Bush administration have left the world’s most powerful military without practical restraint.”
‘[On 9/11,] Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution. Bush nearly bit his head off. "No," the President yelled in the narrow conference room. "I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass." Richard Clarke Against All Enemies (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.33-4) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” original source for Clarke quote
….Bush also authorized the global pursuit of al-Qaeda “permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations [in some eighty countries] without having to come back for approval for each specific operation” and-most important-removed all constraints and safeguards over the CIA’s already existing program of “extraordinary rendition.”
The later term is a euphemism for abducting people anywhere on Earth, including inside the United States, and secretly flying them to countries whose police and intelligence personnel are more than happy to torture them for us or where the United States runs its own secret prisons for doing so. Such countries and territories reportedly have included Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Diego Garcia, Pakistan, and unidentified Eastern European nations. The military or the CIA also run some twenty-five prisons in Afghanistan and seventeen in Iraq. Rendition is a violation of international law, since the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted December 10, 1984, and ratified by the US Congress in October 1994, specifically says, ‘No state…shall expel, return, or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.’ The Geneva Conventions also contain articles stipulating the same prohibition. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.36)
Moreover, the people rounded up in Afghanistan usually did not have valuable information since most of them had been turned over to the Americans by Northern Alliance warlords for the bounties the United States was paying. In October 2004, deputy commander of Guantanamo prison, Brigadier General Martin Lucent, said to the press that most of his 550 prisoners had revealed nothing of value: “Most of these guys weren't fighting, they were running.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.37)
“There are only two ways to govern,” writes Naomi Klein the award-winning Canadian journalist, “with consent or with fear.” Under George Bush the United States decided to rule Afghanistan and Iraq through fear, and from this naturally followed disappearances without charges, indefinite detentions, torture and “extraordinary renditions.” David Brooks, right-wing pundit for Weekly Standard and a columnist for the New York Times, accurately predicted that after 9/11: “We will care a lot more about ends - winning the war - than we will about means. We will debate whether it is necessary to torture prisoners who have information about future biological attacks. We will destroy innocent villages by accident, shrug our shoulders, and continue fighting. In an age of conflict, bourgeois values like compassion, tolerance, and industriousness are valued less than the classical virtues of courage, steadfastness, and a ruthless desire for victory.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.38)
...Harold Koh says, "The notion that the president has the constitutional power to permit torture is like saying he has the constitutional power to commit genocide….It’s just erroneous legal analysis."...
Perhaps the most shortsighted aspect of this claim to absolute presidential power is that it leads unavoidability to the president’s liability under the concept of ‘command responsibility’ – the doctrine that a military commander is legally liable for all abuses and atrocities committed by his troops whether he knows about them or not. After World War II, the United States put Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita, the so-called Tiger of Malaya and subsequently commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, on trial. A U.S. war crimes tribunal found that he had failed to uphold "command responsibility" for his troops, who had massacred thousands of innocent civilians in Manila in early 1945, even though the defense established that he had no knowledge of the crimes. Because Yamashita was tried by a military court, he appealed his case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction by a vote of 5 to 3, thereby establishing the doctrine of command responsibility in American law. Justice Frank Murphy warned in dissent, "In the sober afterglow will come the realization of the boundless and dangerous implications of the procedure sanctioned today... Indeed, the fate of some future President of the United States and his chief of staff and military advisers may well have been sealed by this decision." In other words, American constitutional law already establishes the grounds on which President Bush could be held accountable for his failure to exercise command responsibility in (cases of torture at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.39)
…But there was still one more disgrace to come. In June 2005, the Senate Republican Policy Committee issued a report claiming that the International Committee of the Red Cross, in daring to criticize U.S. treatment of prisoners in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay had “lost its way.” The senators of the ruling party recommended that the Bush administration cut off all U.S. funds for the ICRC’s operations.
Burton J Lee III served as a doctor in the Army Medical Corps and, for four years, as presidential physician to George H. W. Bush. He writes, Today ... it seems as though our government and the military have slipped into Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' The widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment - frequently based on military and government documents - defy the claim that this abusive behavior is limited to a few noncommissioned officers at Abu Ghraib or isolated incidents at Guantánamo Bay. When it comes to torture, the military's traditional leadership and discipline have been severely compromised up and down the chain of command. Why? I fear it is because the military has bowed to errant civilian leadership.”…. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.45)
….In the months before he ordered the invasion of Iraq, George Bush and his senior officials spoke of preserving Iraq's "patrimony" for the Iraqi people. At a time when talking about Iraqi oil was taboo, what he meant by patrimony was exactly that -- Iraqi oil. In their "joint statement on Iraq's future" of April 8, 2003, George Bush and Tony Blair declared, "We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit." In this they were true to their word. Among the few places American soldiers actually did guard during and in the wake of their invasion were oil fields and the Oil Ministry in Baghdad. But the real Iraqi patrimony, that invaluable human inheritance of thousands of years, was another matter. At a time when American pundits were warning of a future "clash of civilizations," our occupation forces were letting perhaps the greatest of all human patrimonies be looted and smashed.
There have been many dispiriting sights on TV since George Bush launched his ill-starred war on Iraq -- the pictures from Abu Ghraib, Fallujah laid waste, American soldiers kicking down the doors of private homes and pointing assault rifles at women and children. But few have reverberated historically like the looting of Baghdad's museum -- or been forgotten more quickly in this country.
In archaeological circles, Iraq is known as "the cradle of civilization," with a record of culture going back more than 7,000 years. William R. Polk, the founder of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago, says, "It was there, in what the Greeks called Mesopotamia, that life as we know it today began: there people first began to speculate on philosophy and religion, developed concepts of international trade, made ideas of beauty into tangible forms, and, above all developed the skill of writing." No other places in the Bible except for Israel have more history and prophecy associated with them than Babylonia, Shinar (Sumer), and Mesopotamia -- different names for the territory that the British around the time of World War I began to call "Iraq," using the old Arab term for the lands of the former Turkish enclave of Mesopotamia (in Greek: "between the [Tigris and Eurphrates] rivers"). Most of the early books of Genesis are set in Iraq (see, for instance, Genesis 10:10, 11:31; also Daniel 1-4; II Kings 24)…..
The best-known of the civilizations that make up Iraq's cultural heritage are the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Parthians, Sassanids, and Muslims. On April 10, 2003, in a television address, President Bush acknowledged that the Iraqi people are "the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity." Only two days later, under the complacent eyes of the U.S. Army, the Iraqis would begin to lose that heritage in a swirl of looting and burning.
In September 2004, in one of the few self-critical reports to come out of Donald Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication wrote: "The larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended." Nowhere was this failure more apparent than in the indifference -- even the glee -- shown by Rumsfeld and his generals toward the looting on April 11 and 12, 2003, of the National Museum in Baghdad and the burning on April 14, 2003, of the National Library and Archives as well as the Library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowments. These events were, according to Paul Zimansky, a Boston University archaeologist, "the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years." Eleanor Robson of All Souls College, Oxford, said, "You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258, to find looting on this scale." Yet Secretary Rumsfeld compared the looting to the aftermath of a soccer game and shrugged it off with the comment that "Freedom's untidy. . . . Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes."
The Baghdad archaeological museum has long been regarded as perhaps the richest of all such institutions in the Middle East. It is difficult to say with precision what was lost there in those catastrophic April days in 2003 because up-to-date inventories of its holdings, many never even described in archaeological journals, were also destroyed by the looters or were incomplete thanks to conditions in Baghdad after the Gulf War of 1991. One of the best records, however partial, of its holdings is the catalog of items the museum lent in 1988 to an exhibition held in Japan's ancient capital of Nara entitled Silk Road Civilizations. But, as one museum official said to John Burns of the New York Times after the looting, "All gone, all gone. All gone in two days."
A single, beautifully illustrated, indispensable book edited by Milbry Park and Angela M.H. Schuster, The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005), represents the heartbreaking attempt of over a dozen archaeological specialists on ancient Iraq to specify what was in the museum before the catastrophe, where those objects had been excavated, and the condition of those few thousand items that have been recovered. The editors and authors have dedicated a portion of the royalties from this book to the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.
At a conference on art crimes held in London a year after the disaster, the British Museum's John Curtis reported that at least half of the forty most important stolen objects had not been retrieved and that of some 15,000 items looted from the museum's showcases and storerooms about 8,000 had yet to be traced. Its entire collection of 5,800 cylinder seals and clay tablets, many containing cuneiform writing and other inscriptions some of which go back to the earliest discoveries of writing itself, was stolen. Since then, as a result of an amnesty for looters, about 4,000 of the artifacts have been recovered in Iraq, and over a thousand have been confiscated in the United States. Curtis noted that random checks of Western soldiers leaving Iraq had led to the discovery of several in illegal possession of ancient objects. Customs agents in the U.S. then found more. Officials in Jordan have impounded about 2,000 pieces smuggled in from Iraq; in France, 500 pieces; in Italy, 300; in Syria, 300; and in Switzerland, 250. Lesser numbers have been seized in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. None of these objects has as yet been sent back to Baghdad.
The 616 pieces that form the famous collection of "Nimrud gold," excavated by the Iraqis in the late 1980s from the tombs of the Assyrian queens at Nimrud, a few miles southeast of Mosul, were saved, but only because the museum had secretly moved them to the subterranean vaults of the Central Bank of Iraq at the time of the first Gulf War. By the time the Americans got around to protecting the bank in 2003, its building was a burnt-out shell filled with twisted metal beams from the collapse of the roof and all nine floors under it. Nonetheless, the underground compartments and their contents survived undamaged. On July 3, 2003, a small portion of the Nimrud holdings was put on display for a few hours, allowing a handful of Iraqi officials to see them for the first time since 1990.
The torching of books and manuscripts in the Library of Korans and the National Library was in itself a historical disaster of the first order. Most of the Ottoman imperial documents and the old royal archives concerning the creation of Iraq were reduced to ashes. According to Humberto Márquez, the Venezuelan writer and author of Historia Universal de La Destrucción de Los Libros (2004), about a million books and ten million documents were destroyed by the fires of April 14, 2003. Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East correspondent of the Independent of London, was in Baghdad the day of the fires. He rushed to the offices of the U.S. Marines' Civil Affairs Bureau and gave the officer on duty precise map locations for the two archives and their names in Arabic and English, and pointed out that the smoke could be seen from three miles away. The officer shouted to a colleague, "This guy says some biblical library is on fire," but the Americans did nothing to try to put out the flames.
Given the black market value of ancient art objects, U.S. military leaders had been warned that the looting of all thirteen national museums throughout the country would be a particularly grave danger in the days after they captured Baghdad and took control of Iraq. In the chaos that followed the Gulf War of 1991, vandals had stolen about 4,000 objects from nine different regional museums. In monetary terms, the illegal trade in antiquities is the third most lucrative form of international trade globally, exceeded only by drug smuggling and arms sales. Given the richness of Iraq's past, there are also over 10,000 significant archaeological sites scattered across the country, only some 1,500 of which have been studied. Following the Gulf War, a number of them were illegally excavated and their artifacts sold to unscrupulous international collectors in Western countries and Japan. All this was known to American commanders.
In January 2003,an American delegation of scholars, museum directors, art collectors, and antiquities dealers met with officials at the Pentagon to discuss the forth coming invasion. They specifically warned that Baghdad's National Museum was the single most important site in the country. McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute said, "I thought I was given assurances that sites and museums would be protected." Gibson went back to the Pentagon twice to discuss the dangers, and he and his colleagues sent several e-mail reminders to military officers in the weeks before the war began. However, a more ominous indicator of things to come was reported in the April 14, 2003, London Guardian: Rich American collectors with connections to the White House were busy "persuading the Pentagon to relax legislation that protects Iraq's heritage by prevention of sales abroad." On January 24, 2003, some sixty New York-based collectors and dealers organized themselves into a new group called the American Council for Cultural Policy and met with Bush administration and Pentagon officials to argue that a post-Saddam Iraq should have relaxed antiquities laws. Opening up private trade in Iraqi artifacts, they suggested, would offer such items better security than they could receive in Iraq.
The main international legal safeguard for historically and humanistically important institutions and sites is the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, signed on May 14, 1954. The U.S. is not a party to that convention, primarily because, during the Cold War, it feared that the treaty might restrict its freedom to engage in nuclear war; but during the 1991 Gulf War the elder Bush's administration accepted the convention's rules and abided by a "no-fire target list" of places where valuable cultural items were known to exist. UNESCO and other guardians of cultural artifacts expected the younger Bush's administration to follow the same procedures in the 2003 war.
Moreover, on March 26, 2003, the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), headed by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jay Garner -- the civil authority the U.S. had set up for the moment hostilities ceased -- sent to all senior U.S. commanders a list of sixteen institutions that "merit securing as soon as possible to prevent further damage, destruction, and/or pilferage of records and assets." The five-page memo dispatched two weeks before the fall of Baghdad also said, "Coalition forces must secure these facilities in order to prevent looting and the resulting irreparable loss of cultural treasures" and that "looters should be arrested/detained." First on Gen. Garner's list of places to protect was the Iraqi Central Bank, which is now a ruin; second was the Museum of Antiquities. Sixteenth was the Oil Ministry, the only place that U.S. forces occupying Baghdad actually defended. Martin Sullivan, chair of the President's Advisory Committee on Cultural Property for the previous eight years, and Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and a member of the committee, both resigned to protest the failure of CENTCOM to obey orders. Sullivan said it was "inexcusable" that the museum should not have had the same priority as the Oil Ministry.
As we now know, the American forces made no effort to prevent the looting of the great cultural institutions of Iraq, its soldiers simply watching vandals enter and torch the buildings. Said Arjomand, an editor of the journal Studies on Persianate Societies and a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, wrote, "Our troops, who have been proudly guarding the Oil Ministry, where no window is broken, deliberately condoned these horrendous events." American commanders claim that, to the contrary, they were too busy fighting and had too few troops to protect the museum and libraries. However, this seems to be an unlikely explanation. During the battle for Baghdad, the U.S. military was perfectly willing to dispatch some 2,000 troops to secure northern Iraq's oilfields, and their record on antiquities did not improve when the fighting subsided. At the 6,000-year-old Sumerian city of Ur with its massive ziggurat, or stepped temple-tower (built in the period 2112 - 2095 B.C. and restored by Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C.), the Marines spray-painted their motto, "Semper Fi" (semper fidelis, always faithful) onto its walls. The military then made the monument "off limits" to everyone in order to disguise the desecration that had occurred there, including the looting by U.S. soldiers of clay bricks used in the construction of the ancient buildings.
Until April 2003, the area around Ur, in the environs of Nasiriyah, was remote and sacrosanct. However, the U.S. military chose the land immediately adjacent to the ziggurat to build its huge Tallil Air Base with two runways measuring 12,000 and 9,700 feet respectively and four satellite camps. In the process, military engineers moved more than 9,500 truckloads of dirt in order to build 350,000 square feet of hangars and other facilities for aircraft and Predator unmanned drones. They completely ruined the area, the literal heartland of human civilization, for any further archaeological research or future tourism. On October 24, 2003, according to the Global Security Organization, the Army and Air Force built its own modern ziggurat. It "opened its second Burger King at Tallil. The new facility, co-located with [a] . . . Pizza Hut, provides another Burger King restaurant so that more service men and women serving in Iraq can, if only for a moment, forget about the task at hand in the desert and get a whiff of that familiar scent that takes them back home."
The great British archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan (husband of Agatha Christie), who pioneered the excavations at Ur, Nineveh, and Nimrud, quotes some classical advice that the Americans might have been wise to heed: "There was danger in disturbing ancient monuments. . . . It was both wise and historically important to reverence the legacies of ancient times. Ur was a city infested with ghosts of the past and it was prudent to appease them."
The American record elsewhere in Iraq is no better. At Babylon, American and Polish forces built a military depot, despite objections from archaeologists. John Curtis, the British Museum's authority on Iraq's many archaeological sites, reported on a visit in December 2004 that he saw "cracks and gaps where somebody had tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the Ishtar Gate" and a "2,600-year-old brick pavement crushed by military vehicles." Other observers say that the dust stirred up by U.S. helicopters has sandblasted the fragile brick façade of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon from 605 to 562 B.C. The archaeologist Zainab Bahrani reports, "Between May and August 2004, the wall of the Temple of Nabu and the roof of the Temple of Ninmah, both of the sixth century B.C., collapsed as a result of the movement of helicopters. Nearby, heavy machines and vehicles stand parked on the remains of a Greek theater from the era of Alexander of Macedon [Alexander the Great]."
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.45-52) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on religion on-line
According to Patrick E Tyler writing in the New York Times, “The Defense Department asserts that America's political and military mission in the post-Cold War era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia, or the territory of the former Soviet Union .... The new [Paul Wolfowitz] draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders 'must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.’ “……
The Roman Republic failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism, leading to drastic alterations in its form of government. The militarism that inescapably accompanied Rome's imperial projects slowly undermined its constitution as well as the very genuine political and human rights its citizens enjoyed. The American republic has, of course, not yet collapsed; it is just under great strain as its imperial presidency and its increasingly powerful military legions undermine Congress and the courts. However, the Roman outcome-turning over power to a dictator backed by military force welcomed by ordinary citizens because it seems to bring stability-suggests what might well happen sometime in the future as a result of George Bush's contempt for the separation of powers…..
…..Republican checks and balances are simply incompatible with the maintenance of a large empire and a huge standing army. Democratic nations sometimes acquire empires, which they are reluctant to give up because they are a source of wealth and national pride, but their domestic liberties are thereby put at risk.
……After Congress voted in October 2002 to give the president unrestricted power to use any means, including military force and nuclear weapons, in a preventive strike against Iraq whenever he-and he alone-deemed it "appropriate," it would be hard to argue that the governmental structure laid out in the Constitution of 1787 bears much relationship to the one that prevails today in Washington.
The Roman Republic is conventionally dated from 509 to 27 BC, even ( though Romulus's founding of the city is traditionally said to have occurred in 753 BC. All we know about its past, including those first two centuries, comes from the histories written by Livy and others and from the discoveries of modern archaeology. For the century preceding the republic, Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings from their nearby state of Etruria (modern Tuscany). In 510 BC, according to legend, Sextus, the son of King Tarquinius Superbus ("King Tarquin"), raped Lucretia, the daughter of a leading Roman family. A group of aristocrats backed by the Roman citizenry revolted against this outrage and expelled the Etruscans from Rome. The rebels were determined that never again would any single man be allowed to obtain supreme power in the city, and they created a system that for four centuries more or less succeeded in preventing that from happening. "This was the main principle," writes Everitt, "that underpinned constitutional arrangements which, by Cicero's time, were of a baffling complexity."
At the heart of the unwritten Roman constitution was the Senate, which, by the early years of the first century BC, was composed of about three hundred members from whose ranks two chief executives, called consuls, were elected. The consuls took turns being in charge for a month, and neither could hold office for more than a year. Over time an amazing set of checks and balances evolved to ensure that the consuls and other executives whose offices conferred on them imperium-the right to command an army, to interpret and carry out the law, and to pass sentences of death-did not entertain visions of grandeur and overstay their welcome. At the heart of these restraints were the principles of collegiality and term limits. The first meant that for every office there were at least two incumbents, neither of whom had seniority or superiority over the other. Office holders were normally limited to one-year terms and could be re-elected to the same office only after waiting ten years. Senators had to serve two to three years in lower offices-as quaestors, tribunes, aediles, or praetors- before they were eligible for election to a higher office, including the consulship. All office holders could veto the acts of their equals, and higher officials could veto decisions of lower ones. The chief exception to these rules was the office of "dictator," appointed by the Senate in times of military emergency. There was always only one dictator and his decisions were immune to veto; according to the constitution, he could hold office for only six months or the duration of a crisis, whichever was shorter.
Once an official had ended his term as consul or praetor, the next post below consul, he was posted somewhere in Italy or abroad as governor of a province or colony and given the title of proconsul…. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.58-61)
Over time, Rome's complex system was made even more complex by the class struggle embedded in its society. During the first two centuries of the republic, what appeared to be a participatory democracy was in fact an oligarchy of aristocratic families who dominated the Senate. As Holland argues, "The central paradox of Roman society... [was] that savage divisions of class could coexist with an almost religious sense of community." Parenti puts it this way: "In the second century BC, the senatorial nobles began to divide into two groups, the larger being the self-designated optimates ('best men'), who were devoted to upholding the politico-economic prerogatives of the well-born .... The smaller faction within the nobility, styled the populares or 'demagogues' by their opponents, were reformers who sided with the common people on various issues. Julius Caesar is considered the leading popularis and the last in a line extending from 133 to 44 BC." Everitt sees the problem in a broader perspective: "Since the fall of the monarchy in 510 BC, Roman domestic politics had been a long, inconclusive class struggle, suspended for long periods by foreign wars."
After about 494 BC, when the plebs-that is, the ordinary, nonaristocratic citizens of Rome-had brought the city to a standstill by withholding their labor, a new institution came into being to defend their rights. These were the tribunes of the people, charged with protecting the lives and property of plebeians. Tribunes could veto any election, law, or decree of the Senate, of which they were ex officio members, as well as the acts of all other officials (except a dictator). They could also veto one another's vetoes. They did not have executive authority; their function was essentially negative. Controlling appointments to the office of tribune later became very important to generals like Julius Caesar, who based their power on the armies plus the support of the populares against the aristocrats.
....Cicero was the most intellectual defender of the Roman constitution whereas Caesar was Rome's, and perhaps history's, greatest general. Both were former consuls: "Cicero's weakness as a politician was that his principles rested on a mistaken analysis. He failed to understand the reasons for the crisis that tore apart the Roman Republic. Julius Caesar, with the pitiless insight of genius, understood that the constitution with its endless checks and balances prevented effective government, but like so many of his contemporaries Cicero regarded politics in personal rather than structural terms. For Caesar, the solution lay in a completely new system of government; for Cicero, it lay in finding better men to run the government-and better laws to keep them in order.
Imperialism provoked the crisis that destroyed the Roman Republic. After slowly consolidating its power over all of Italy and conquering the Greek colonies on the island of Sicily, the republic extended its conquests to Carthage in North Africa, to Greece itself, and to what is today southern France, Spain, and Asia Minor. By the first century BC, Rome dominated all of Gaul, most of Iberia, the coast of North Africa, Macedonia (including Greece), the Balkans, and large parts of modern Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon....
(Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.62-3)
Rome was the first case of what today we call imperial overstretch. There were several aspects to this crisis, but the most significant was the transformation of the Roman army into a professional military force and the growth of militarism. Well into the middle years of the republic, the Roman legions were a true citizen army, composed of conscripted small landowners. Unlike in the American republic, male citizens between the ages of seventeen and forty-six, except slaves and freedmen, were liable to be called for military service. One of the more admirable aspects of the Roman system was that only those citizens who possessed a specified amount of property (namely, a horse and some land) could serve, thereby making those who had profited most from the state also responsible for its defense.
By the end of the second century BC, in [Anthony] Everitt's words [Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician], "The responsibilities of empire meant that soldiers could no longer be demobilized at the end of each fighting season. Standing forces were required, with soldiers on long-term contracts." The great general Caius Marius (c. 157-86 BC) undertook to reform the armed forces, replacing the old conscript armies with a professional body of career volunteers. Senator Robert Byrd explains: "Whereas the ownership of property had long been a requirement for entry into military service, Marius opened the door of recruitment to all, enrolling men who owned no property and were previously exempt. In accepting such troops, he remedied the long-standing manpower shortage and opened up a career for the employment of thousands of landless and jobless citizens. By this innovation, Marius created a new type of client army, bound to its commander as its patron .... Marius, in creating a professional army, had created a new base of power for ambitious men to exploit and use as an instrument of despotic authority."
Members of this large standing army, equipped by the Roman state, signed up for twenty to twenty-five years. When their contracts expired, they expected their commanders, to whom they were personally loyal, to provide them with farms, which Marius had promised them. "From that moment on," writes Holland, "possession of a farm was no longer the qualification for military service but the reward." Unfortunately, land in Italy was by then in short supply, much of it tied up in huge sheep and cattle ranches owned by rich, often aristocratic, families and run by slave labor. The landowners were the dominant conservative influence in the Senate, and they resisted all efforts at land reform. Members of the upper classes had become wealthy as a result of Rome's wars of conquest and bought more land as the only safe investment, driving small holders off their properties. In 133 BC, the gentry arranged for the killing of the tribune Tiberius Gracchus (of plebeian origin) for advocating a new land-use law. Rome's population thus continued to swell with landless veterans. "Where would the land be found," asks Everitt, "for the superannuated soldiers of Rome's next war?"
Although the state owned a large amount of public property that theoretically could have been distributed to veterans, most of it had been illegally expropriated by aristocrats. Marius, who from the beginning allied himself with the populares in the Senate, was willing to seize land for military purposes, but this inevitably meant a direct clash with the established order. "Cicero detested Roman militarism' and Marius was exactly the kind of leader he believed was leading Rome to ruin. Utterly ruthless and caring little for the Roman constitution, Marius served as consul an unprecedented seven times, in clear violation of the requirement that there be an interval often years between each re-election. Suzanne Cross, an American scholar of classical antiquity, describes him as harsh and vengeful. Marius was the first Roman general to portray himself as "the soldier's friend." Marius's nephew, Julius Caesar, built on this framework, and Caesar's grandnephew, Octavian, who became Augustus Caesar, completed the transformation of the republic from a democracy into a military dictatorship.
During the final century before its fall, the republic was assailed by many revolts of generals and their troops, leading to gross violations of constitutional principles and on several occasions civil wars. Julius Caesar, who became consul for the first time in 59 BC, enjoyed great popularity with the ordinary people. After his year in office, he was rewarded by being named governor of Gaul, a post he held between 58 and 49, during which he both earned military glory and became immensely wealthy. In 49 he famously allowed his armies to cross the Rubicon, a small river in northern Italy that served as a boundary against armies approaching the capital, and plunged the country into civil war. Taking on his former ally and now rival, Pompey, he won, after which, as Everitt observes, "No one was left in the field for Caesar to fight .... His leading opponents were dead. The republic was dead too: he had become the state." Julius Caesar exercised dictatorship from 48 to 44, and a month before the Ides of March he arranged to have himself named "dictator for life." Instead, he was stabbed to death in the Senate by a conspiracy of eight members, led by Brutus and Cassius, both praetors known to history as "principled tyrannicides."
Antony and Octavian, Caesar's eighteen-year-old grandnephew, formed an alliance to avenge the murder of Caesar. It would end with only one man standing, and that man, Caius Octavianus (Octavian), would decisively change Roman government by replacing the republic with an imperial dictatorship. Everitt characterizes Octavian as "a freebooting young privateer' who on August 19, 43 BC (just over a year after Caesar's death), became the youngest consul in Rome's history and set out, in violation of the constitution, to raise his own private army. Holland calls him an "adventurer and terrorist," while Parenti, quoting Gibbon, says he was a "subtle tyrant," who "crafted an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth' Byrd laments, "There was absolute freedom of speech in the Roman Senate until the time of Augustus [Octavian] ' who put limits on how far senators could go. "The boy' says Everitt, "would be a focus for the simmering resentments among the Roman masses, the disbanded veterans, and the standing legions."
Cicero, who had devoted his life to trying to curb the kind of power represented by Octavian, now gave up on the rule of law in favor of realpolitik. He recognized that "for all his struggles the constitution was dead and power lay in the hands of soldiers and their leaders." In Cicero's view, the only hope was to try to co-opt Octavian, leading him toward a more constitutional position, while doing everything not to "irritate rank-and-file opinion, which was fundamentally Caesarian." Cicero would pay with his life for this last, desperate gamble. Octavian, still allied with Mark Antony, ordered at least 130 senators (perhaps as many as 300) executed and their property confiscated after charging them with having supported the conspiracy against Caesar. Mark Antony personally added Cicero's name to the list. When he met his death, the great scholar, orator, and Grecophile had with him a copy of Euripides' Medea, which he had been reading. His head and both hands were displayed in the Forum.
A year after Cicero's death, following the battle of Philippi, where Brutus and Cassius were defeated and committed suicide, Octavian and Antony divided the known world between them. Octavian took the West and remained in Rome; Antony accepted the East and allied himself with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt and Julius Caesar's former mistress. In 31 BC, Octavian set out to end this unstable arrangement, and at the sea battle of Actium in the Gulf of Ambracja on the western coast of Greece, he defeated Antony and Cleopatra's fleet. The following year in Alexandria, Mark Antony fell on his sword and Cleopatra took an asp to her breast. By then, both had been thoroughly discredited for claiming that Antony was a descendant of Caesar's and for seeking Roman citizenship rights for Cleopatra's children by Caesar. Octavian would rule the Roman word for the next forty-five years, until his death in 14 AD.
On January 13, 27 BC, Octavian appeared in the Senate, which had legitimized its own demise by ceding most of its powers to him and which now bestowed on him the new title of Augustus, first Roman emperor. The majority of the senators were his solid supporters, having been handpicked by him. In 23 BC, Augustus was granted further authority by being designated a tribune for life, which gave him ultimate veto power over anything the Senate might do. But his real power ultimately rested on his total control of the armed forces.
His rise to power tainted by constitutional illegitimacy ... Augustus proceeded to emasculate the Roman system and its representative institutions. He never abolished the old republican offices but merely united them under one person-himself. Imperial appointment became a badge of prestige and social standing rather than of authority. The Senate was turned into a club of old aristocratic families, and its approval of the acts of the emperor was purely ceremonial. The Roman legions continued to march under the banner SPQR-senatus populus que Romanus (the Senate and the people of Rome)-but the authority of Augustus was absolute. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.63-8)
The history of the Roman Republic from the time of Julius Caesar suggests that imperialism and militarism poorly understood by all conservative political leaders at the time brought down the republic. The professionalization of a large standing army in order to defend the empire created invincible new sources of power within the Roman polity and prepared the way for the rise of populist generals who understood the grievances of their troops and veterans politicians could not.
Service in the armed forces of the United States has not been a universal male obligation of citizenship since 1973. Our military today is a professional corps of men and women who commonly join up to advance themselves in the face of one or another cul-de-sac of American society. They normally do not expect to be shot at, but they do expect all the benefits of state employment-steady pay, good housing, free medical benefits, education, relief from racial discrimination, world travel, and gratitude from the rest of society for their "service." They are well aware that the alternatives on offer today in civilian life include difficult job searches, little or no job security, regular pilfering of retirement funds by company executives and their accountants, "privatized" medical care, bad public elementary education, and insanely expensive higher education. They are ripe not for the rhetoric of a politician who followed the Andover-Yale-Harvard Business School route to riches and power but for a Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, or Juan Perón-a revolutionary, military populist with little interest in republican niceties so long as some form of emperorship lies at the end of his rocky path.
Regardless of who succeeds George W. Bush, the incumbent president will have to deal with an emboldened Pentagon, an engorged military-industrial complex, our empire of bases, and a fifty-year-old tradition of not revealing to the public what our military establishment costs or the kinds of devastation it can inflict. History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic may be coming to its end-and that turning it into an openly military empire will not, to say the least, be the best solution to that problem.
One common response to this view is that the United States is actually a "good empire" like the one from which it gained our independence in 1776. Whatever its faults and flaws, contemporary America – like England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – is said to be a source of enlightenment for the rest of the world, a natural carrier of the seeds of "democracy" into benighted and oppressed regions, and the only possible military guarantor of "stability" on the planet. We are, therefore, said to be the "cousins" and inheritors of the best traditions of the British empire – which was, according to this highly ideological construct, a force for unalloyed good despite occasional unfortunate and unavoidable lapses.
The expatriate Scot and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson typically argues that the British Empire was motivated by "a sincere belief that spreading 'commerce, Christianity, and civilization' was as much in the interests of Britain's colonial subjects as in the interests of the imperial metropole itself." He insists that "no organization [other than the British Empire] has done more to impose Western norms of law, order and governance around the world" and that "America is heir to the empire in both senses: offspring of the colonial era, successor today. Perhaps the most burning contemporary question of American politics is: Should the United States seek to shed or to shoulder the imperial load it has inherited?" The Los Angeles Times's right-wing columnist Max Boot thinks that "Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets."
According to journalist Erik Tarloff, writing in the British newspaper Financial Times, "Claims that the British Raj redounded to the economic benefit of India as well as the mother country [are], I should think, irrefutable. Given that for two centuries -- between 1757 and 1947 -- there was no increase at all in India's per capita income, that in the second half of Victoria's reign between thirty and fifty million Indians perished in famines and plagues brought on by the British misrule, and that from 1872 to 1921, the life expectancy of ordinary Indians fell by a staggering 20 percent, the idea that India benefited from British imperialism is at least open to question.
THE REWRITING OF HISTORY TO PRETTIFY THE BRITISH EMPIRE has long been commonplace in England, but it became politically significant in the United States only after 9/11, when the thought – novel to most Americans – that their own country was actually an "empire" began to come out of the closet. Beginning in late 2001, approval of American imperialism became a prominent theme in the establishment and neoconservative press. "It was time for America unabashedly and unilaterally to assert its supremacy and to maintain global order," writes Joshua Micah Marshall, editor of an influential Washington internet newsletter. "After September 11th, a left-wing accusation became a right-wing aspiration: conservatives increasingly began to espouse a world view that was unapologetically imperialist."
Bernard Porter, a professor at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a recognised specialist on Britain's imperial past, likes to argue that his country acquired its empire unintentionally. Apologists for American imperialism also contend that the United States acquired its continental girth as well as its Caribbean and Pacific colonies in a fit of innocent absentmindedness. Despite his tendency to minimise the importance of the British empire, Porter is an acute observer of trends in the candour with which this history has been approached. In the twentieth century, he observes, "Imperialism – in the old, conventional sense – suddenly became unfashionable ... [New books] took an entirely different line on it from before: hugely downplaying the glorious military aspects of it; almost giving the impression that most colonies had asked to join the Empire; stressing Britain's supposed 'civilising' mission; and presenting the whole thing as simply a happy federation of countries at different stages of 'development' ... A new word was coined for it, which was thought to express this sort of thing better: 'Commonwealth.' A popular metaphor was that of the family'."
In Porter's view, the ordinary Victorian Englishman was never much interested in the empire, which was always a plaything of the military classes and those who wanted (or had) to get out of the British Isles. But in America, the idea that the British Empire was really nice – totally unlike its French, German, Russian and Japanese contemporaries – has long been well received by novel readers and latter-day fans of long-running televison series, Masterpiece Theater.
During the post-9/11 period of American enthusiasm for imperialism, one of its most influential proselytisers was Michael Ignatieff, a Harvard professor and self-appointed spokesman for "humanitarian imperialism", aka "Empire Lite". As the demand for his cheer-leading faded in light of the Iraq War, Ignatieff decided to return to his native Canada and became a politician. Back in Toronto, he acknowledged to a journalist that his many essays and op-eds had all been written as if he were an American, and he apologised for having used "we" and "us" some forty-three times throughout his essay entitled "Lesser Evils", which is a defence of official torture.
In the New York Times Magazine of January 5, 2003, Ignatieff proudly asserted, "Ever since George Washington warned his countrymen against foreign entanglements, empire abroad has been seen as the republic's permanent temptation and its potential nemesis. Yet what word but "empire" describes the awesome thing that America is becoming? It is the only nation that polices the world through five global military commands; maintains more than a million men and women at arms on four continents; deploys carrier battle groups on watch in every ocean; guarantees the survival of countries from Israel to South Korea; drives the wheels of global trade and commerce; and fills the hearts and minds of an entire planet with its dreams and desires."
In numerous one-liners, Ignatieff sings the praises of American imperialism: "Multilateral solutions to the world's problems are all very well, but they have no teeth unless America bares its fangs ... Regime change is an imperial task par excellence, since it assumes that the empire's interest has a right to trump the sovereignty of a state ... The question, then, is not whether America is too powerful but whether it is powerful enough. Does it have what it takes to be grandmaster of what Colin Powell has called the chessboard of the world's most inflammable region? ... The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike."
Ignatieff’s warlike prose comes from an essay entitled “The Burden,” an unmistakable reference to Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem “The White Man’s Burden,” written while he was living in Vermont and addressed to Americans as they prepared to subjugate the Philippines:
Take up the White Man’s Burden
And reap his old reward
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye Guard.
Michael Neumann, a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, compares Ignatieff’s epistle to the American’s to “a Sprig of cilantro on the nouveau-imperialist bucket of KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken], transforming Bush’s blunderings into a treat for liberal white folks the world over.
IMPERIALISM IS, BY DEFINITIION, UNPLEASANT FOR ITS VICTIMS. Even a supporter like Niall Ferguson acknowledges it is "the extension of one's civilisation, usually by military force, to rule over other peoples". Regimes created by imperialists are never polities ruled with the consent of the governed. Evelyn Baring (later known as Lord Cromer), who was the British consul general and de facto overlord of Egypt from 1883 to 1907 – officially, he was merely an "adviser" to the formally ruling khedive – once commented: "We need not always enquire too closely what these people ... think is in their own interests ... It is essential that each special issue should be decided mainly with reference to what, by the light of Western knowledge and experience ... we conscientiously think is best for the subject race." Lord Salisbury, Britain's conservative prime minister from 1886 to 1902, put it more succinctly: "If our ancestors had cared for the rights of other people, the British empire would not have been made."
Apologists for imperialism like Ferguson never consult the victims of the allegedly beneficent conquerors. As American historian Kevin Baker points out, “The idea of Rome or the British empire as liberal institutions of any sort would have come as a surprise to, say, the Gauls or the Carthaginians, or the Jews of Masada; or respectively, the Zulus or theBoers or the North American Indians or the Maoris of New Zealand.Eric Foner, the historian of American race relations, similarly reminds us that “the benevolence of benevolent imperialism lies in the eye of the beholder.” What can be said, however is that the British were exceptionally susceptible to believing in the "goodness" of their empire, and in this the United States has indeed proved a worthy successor. In his analysis of Jane Austin’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park, which depicted a wealthy English family whose comforts derived from a sugar plantation in Antigua built on slave labour, Edward Said observed, “European culture often, if not always characterized itself in such a way as simultaneously to validate its own preferences while also advocating those preferences in conjunction with distant imperial rule.”
Actual, on-the-ground imperialists, as distinct from their political supporters and cheerleaders back home, know that they are hated; that is one of the reasons they traditionally detested imperial liberals, socialists, do-gooders and other social critics remote from the killing fields, who criticised their methods or advocated the "reform" of some particular imperial project or other. Whether the imperial power is itself a democracy or a dictatorship makes a difference in the lives of the conquered, but only because that tends to determine how far the dominant country is willing to go in carrying out "administrative massacres", to use Hannah Arendt's potent term, when perpetuating its rule in the face of resistance. A split between those who support imperialism and those who enforce it is characteristic of all imperialist republics. Both groups, however, normally share extensive rationales for their inherent superiority over "subject races", and the reasons why they should dominate and impose their "civilisation" on others. Those who supply such rationales of domination belong to what I call the Jeanne Kirkpatrick school of analysis. As Reagan's UN ambassador, Kirkpatrick once said: "Americans need to face the truth about themselves, no matter how pleasant it is." Historians like Ferguson are of this persuasion. That Britons and Americans have proven so comfortable with the idea of forcing thousands of people to be free by slaughtering them – with Maxim machine guns in the nineteenth century, with "precision-guided munitions" today – seems to reflect a deeply felt need, as well as a striking inability to imagine the lives and viewpoints of others. While this, too, is typical of any imperial power, it has perhaps been heightened in the cases of Great Britain and the United States by the fact that neither has ever been defeated and occupied by a foreign military power. On the other hand, even defeat in war did not cause the Japanese to give up their legends of racial, economic and cultural superiority. Although the Japanese after World War II "embraced defeat", in historian John Dower's memorable phrase, they never gave up their nationalist and racist convictions that, in slaughtering over twenty million Chinese and enslaving the Koreans, they were actually engaged in liberating East Asians from the grip of Western imperialism. All empires, it seems, require myths of divine right, racial pre-eminence, manifest destiny or a "civilising mission" to cover their often barbarous behaviour in other people's countries.....
There is, in fact, nothing new about such self-enhancing American military campaign names as "Operation Iraqi Freedom", "Infinite Justice" (as Centcom called the 2001 US attack on Afghanistan until Muslim scholars and clerics objected that only God can dispense infinite justice) and "Just Cause" (Bush Snr's vicious 1989 assault on Panama). Such efforts reflect both justifications for imperialism and strategies for avoiding responsibility for its inevitable catastrophes. The first recourse in justification has long been racism – or at least a sense of superiority -– in all of its forms, including the belief that victory over the "natives" (including their mass deaths due to diseases introduced by the imperialists) is evidence that God or the gods have divinely sanctioned foreign conquest. As the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr taught: "The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan values is the source of all religious fanaticism." Then there has been the long list of what writer Sven Lindqvist, in his book Exterminate All the Brutes (Granta, 1996) – which is a gloss on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness – usefully terms pseudo-scientific "ideologies of extermination": eugenics, perversions of Darwinism, natural selection, survival of the fittest, Malthusian demography, and more.
Racist defences of imperialism have often been linked to the argument that the imperialists have bestowed some unquestioned benefits – often economic – on their conquered peoples, even as they pauperise or enslave them. Examples from the last two centuries include the benefits of "free trade", globalisation, the rule of (foreign) law, investor protection, "liberation" from other imperial powers or home-grown dictators, or "democracy". In supporting Bush's attack on Iraq, the Harvard historian Charles S. Maier notes approvingly, "Empires function by virtue of the prestige they radiate as well as by might, and indeed collapse if they rely on force alone. Artistic styles, the language of the rulers, and consumer preferences flow outward along with power and investment capital – sometimes diffused consciously by cultural diplomacy and student exchanges, sometimes just by popular tastes for the intriguing products of the metropole, whether Coca-Cola or Big Macs. As supporters of the imperial power rightly maintain, empires provide public goods that masses of people outside their borders really want to enjoy, including an end to endemic warfare and murderous ethnic or religious conflicts."
FINALLY, in retrospect, there has been simple amnesia: the systematic omission of subjects that are impossible to square with the idea of "liberal imperialism". For example, both Ferguson and the Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire neglect to mention that the empire operated the world's largest and most successful drug cartel. During the nineteenth century, Britain fought two wars of choice with China to force it to import opium. The opium grown in India and shipped to China, first by the British East India Company and after 1857 by the Government of India, helped Britain finance much of its military and colonial budgets in South and South-East Asia. The Australian scholar Carl A. Trocki concludes that, given the huge profits from the sale of opium, "without the drug, there probably would have been no British empire".
Racism has been the master imperialist rationale of modern times, one with which British imperialists are completely familiar. "Imperialism," Hannah Arendt wrote, "would have necessitated the invention of racism as the only possible ‘explanation' and excuse for its deeds, even if no race-thinking had ever existed in the civilized world." But what exactly needed to be explained by racism? Initially, it was the growing dominance by small groups of well-armed, ruthless Europeans over societies in South and East Asia that in the eighteenth century were infinitely richer and more sophisticated than anything then known in Europe. As historian Mike Davis observes: "When the sans culottes stormed the Bastille [in 1789], the largest manufacturing districts in the world were still the Yangzi Delta [in China] and Bengal [in India], with Lingan (modern Guangdong and Guangxi) and coastal Madras not far behind." In the early eighteenth century, India was a "vast and economically advanced subcontinent" producing close to a quarter of total planetary output of everything, compared with Britain's measly 3 per cent. As the British set about looting their captured subcontinent, this reality proved an inconvenient one. It became indispensable for them to be able to describe the conquered populations as inferior in every way: incapable of self-government, lacking in the ability to reason, hopelessly caught up in "static" Oriental beliefs, overly fecund and, in short, not members of the "fittest" races. In other words, their subjugation was not only their own fault, but inevitable.
At its heart, British imperialist ideology revolved around the belief that history and human evolution – either divinely guided or as a result of natural selection – had led inexorably to the British empire of the nineteenth century. As a result, the British extermination of the Tasmanians ("living fossils"); the slaughter of at least 10,000 Sudanese in a single battle at Omdurman on September 2, 1898; General Rex Dyer's use of Gurkha troops on April 13, 1919 at Amritsar to kill as many Punjabis as he could until his soldiers ran out of ammunition; the sanctioned use of explosive dumdum bullets (meant for big-game hunting) in colonial wars but their prohibition in conflicts among "civilised" nations, and many similar events down to the sanguine, sadistic suppression of the Kikuyu people in Kenya in the 1950s, were not morally indefensible crimes of imperialism but the workings of a preordained narrative of civilisation.
WHAT CHANGED OVER TIME WAS THE IDEA that a divine hand lay behind such work. As Sven Lindqvist comments: "During the nineteenth century, religious explanations were replaced by biological ones. The exterminated peoples were coloured, the exterminators white. It seemed obvious that some racial natural law was at work and that the extermination of non-Europeans was simply a stage in the natural development of the world. The fact that natives died proved that they belonged to a lower race. Let them die as the laws of progress demand." On this, Niall Ferguson concurs: "Influenced by, but distorting beyond recognition, the work of Darwin, nineteenth-century pseudo-scientists divided humanity into ‘races' on the basis of external physical features, ranking them according to inherited differences not just in physique but also in character. Anglo-Saxons were self-evidently at the top, Africans at the bottom." In this scheme of things, welfare measures and ameliorative reforms of harsh colonial practices should not be allowed to interfere with natural selection, since this would only allow inferiors to survive and "propagate their unfitness". These ideas were much admired by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, where he wrote approvingly of Britain's "effective oppression of an inferior race": the Indians.
Racist attitudes spread throughout the British empire and retained a tenacious hold on English thought well into the twentieth century. As P.J. Marshall, editor of the Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, observes: "The roots of South African apartheid, the most inflexible of all systems of racial segregation, can clearly be found in the period when Britain still had ultimate responsibility. The British were never inclined to condone racially mixed marriages, which were common in some other empires, and they rarely treated people of mixed race as in any way the equal of whites."....
"The overt racism of the British in India, which affected the institutions of government, contributed powerfully to the growth of nationalist sentiment," recalls Tapan Raychaudhuri, an emeritus fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. "All Indians, whatever their status, shared the experience of being treated as racial inferiors ... The life stories of Indian celebrities are full of episodes of racial insults." For all its alleged liberalism and the capitalist institutions it forced on its captive peoples, the British empire bred, inculcated and propagated racism as its ultimate justification. Even though it was history's largest empire, its rulers seemed incapable of functioning without thoroughly deceiving themselves about why, for a relatively short period of time, they dominated the world. For this reason alone, the British empire should not be held up as an institution deserving emulation – least of all by the earliest nation that broke free of it, the United Statesof America.
RACISTS THOUGH THEY MAY HAVE BEEN, Britons have long claimed that they bequeathed to the world the most advanced and effective economic institutions ever devised. "For many British people," as P.J. Marshall puts it, "it is axiomatic that their record in the establishment of colonies of settlement overseas and as rulers of non-European peoples was very much superior to that of any other power." The popular Niall Ferguson, author of Colossus (Penguin, 2004) – an admiring, if condescending, book on America's emerging empire – is primarily an economic historian, and his influential glosses on the British empire stress, above all, its contributions to what later came to be called "globalisation". He is on the same wavelength with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, best-selling author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization and The World is Flat, who also thinks that the integration of capital markets and investor protection contribute mightily to the wellbeing of peoples under the sway of either the British or the American empires. Though the idea does not survive close scrutiny, it has proved a powerful ideological justification of imperialism.
It is not news that somewhere around one billion people today subsist on almost nothing. With rare exceptions, the countries that the various imperialisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries exploited and colonised remain poor, disease– and crime-ridden, and at the mercy of a rigged international trading system that Anglo-American propagandists assure us is rapidly "globalising" to everyone's advantage. But, as the New York Times pointed out: "The very same representatives of the club of rich countries who go around the world hectoring the poor to open up their markets to free trade put up roadblocks when those countries ask the rich to dismantle their own barriers to free trade in agricultural products." According to World Bank data, 390 million of India's 1.1 billion people – almost a third of them – live on less than one dollar a day. Typically, the former US colony of the Philippines, a resource-rich country with a large Sino-Malay population, remains the poorest nation in East Asia, the world's fastest growing economic region – a direct result of US imperialism. Similarly, impoverished Latin America still struggles to throw off the legacies of American "backyard" neo-colonialism. All this is among the best-known economic information in the world.
According to the apologists for the British empire, however, such bad economic news cannot be true, because these problems were solved over a hundred and fifty years ago. Ferguson maintains that: "The nineteenth-century [British] empire undeniably pioneered free trade, free capital movements and, with the abolition of slavery, free labor." After the Irish famine (1846-50) and the Indian Mutiny (1857), the British "recast their empire as an economically liberal project, concerned as much with the integration of global markets as with the security of the British Isles, predicated on the idea that British rule was conferring genuine benefits in the form of free trade, the rule of law, the safeguarding of private property rights and noncorrupt administration, as well as government-guaranteed investments in infrastructure, public health, and (some) education".
Unfortunately, this argument is an off-shoot of the old nineteenth century Marxist conception that politics are mere superstructural reflections of underlying economic relations, and that a single worldwide economic system is emerging that will usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity and peace for all. As the economic theorist John Gray observes: "It is an irony of history that a view of the world falsified by the Communist collapse should have been adopted, in some of its most misleading aspects, by the victors in the Cold War. Neoliberals, such as Friedman [and Ferguson], have reproduced the weakest features of Marx's thought – its consistent underestimation of nationalist and religious movements and its unidirectional view of history."
THE IDEA THAT THE BRITISH EMPIRE CONFERRED economic benefits on any groups other than British capitalists is pure ideology, as impervious to challenge by empirical data as former Soviet prime minister Leonid Brezhnev's Marxism-Leninism or George Bush's belief that free markets mean the same thing as freedom. At the apex of those who profited from British-style "free trade" at the end of the nineteenth century was the Rothschild Bank, then by far the world's largest financial institution, with total assets of around forty-one million pounds sterling. It profited enormously from the wars – some seventy-two of them – during Queen Victoria's reign, and financed such exploiters of Africa as Cecil Rhodes.
Ferguson, who wrote a history of the House of Rothschild, knows these things and does not deny them when he turns from imperial panegyrics to history. "In the age before steam power," he writes, "India had led the world in manual spinning, weaving, and dyeing. The British had first raised tariffs against their products; then demanded free trade when their alternative industrial mode of production had been perfected." The result was poverty and dependence for India. As Oxford historian Tapan Raychaudhuri puts it: "Early in the nineteenth century India lost its export trade in manufactures and became a net importer of manufactured goods and a supplier of mainly agricultural products to Britain for the first time in its history ... In India the favourable terms granted to British exporters and the doctrine of laissez-faire meant that Indian industries received no protection and hardly any encouragement until the mid-1920s, and then only in response to persistent Indian pressure."....
What we are talking about here is, in Mike Davis's phrase, "the making of the third world", the poverty-stricken southern hemisphere that is still very much with us today. "The looms of India and China," Davis writes, "were defeated not so much by market competition as they were forcibly dismantled by war, invasion, opium, and a Lancashire-imposed system of one-way tariffs." In a well-known formulation, the social theorist Karl Polanyi wrote in his seminal work The Great Transformation (1944), "The catastrophe of the native community is a direct result of the rapid and violent disruption of the basic institutions of the victim (whether force is used in the process or not does not seem altogether relevant). These institutions are disrupted by the very fact that a market economy is foisted upon an entirely differently organized community; labor and land are made into commodities, which, again, is only a short formula for the liquidation of every and any cultural institution in an organic society ... Indian masses in the second half of the nineteenth century did not die of hunger because they were exploited by Lancashire; they perished in large numbers because the Indian village community had been demolished."
Ferguson agrees; it is just that he, like Marx, sees all this chaos as "creative destruction", the birth pangs of a new world order, Lenin's famous willingness to break eggs in order to make an omelet. ("But how many eggs must you break," one wag famously asked, "to make a two-egg omelet?") "No doubt it is true that, in theory, open international markets would have been preferable to imperialism," Ferguson argues, "but in practice global free trade was not and is not naturally occurring. The British empire enforced it."
Thomas Friedman similarly acknowledges that contemporary American-sponsored globalisation is not a naturally occurring process. American imperialism enforces it: "The most powerful agent pressuring other countries to open their markets for free trade and free investments is Uncle Sam, and America's global armed forces keep these markets and sea lanes open for this era of globalisation, just as the British navy did for the era of globalisation in the nineteenth century." If small Mexican corn farmers are driven out of business by heavily subsidised American growers, and then the price of corn makes tortillas unaffordable, that is just the global market at work. But if poor and unemployed Mexicans then try to enter the United States to support their families, that is to be resisted by armed force.
After all their arguments have been deployed, how do analysts like Ferguson and Friedman explain the nineteenth century poverty of India and China, the several dozen Holocaust-sized famines in both countries while food sat on the docks waiting to be exported, and their current status as "late developers"? Students of communism will not be surprised by the answer. In India, Ferguson argues, the British did not go far enough in enforcing their ideas: "If one leaves aside their fundamentally different resource endowments, the explanation for India's underperformance compared with, say, Canada lies not in British exploitation but rather in the insufficient scale of British interference in the Indian economy."
When Mao Zedong introduced Soviet-style collective farms into China and did not get satisfactory results, he did not abandon them but turned instead to truly gigantic collectives called "communes". This Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s produced a famine that took some thirty million Chinese lives, a monument to communist extremism similar to the extremes of laissez-faire that the British dogmatically imposed on their conquered territories – and that Ferguson would have preferred to be even more extreme.
The historical evidence suggests a strong correlation exists between being on the receiving end of imperialism and immiseration. The nations that avoided the fates of India, China, Mexico and the Philippines did so by throwing off foreign rule early – as did the United States – or by modernising militarily in order to hold off the imperialists (and ultimately join them) – as did Japan.
Even so, the United States is the heir to the British empire in at least one sense: it is still peddling the same self-serving ideology that its London predecessors pioneered. In a speech from the White House on September 17, 2002, President George W. Bush typically said: "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 ... Free trade and free markets have proven their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty – so the United States will work with individual nations, entire regions, and the entire global trading community to build a world that trades in freedom and therefore grows in prosperity." This kind of rhetoric gives democracy a bad name.
SOME WHO DEPLORE THE BRITISH EMPIRE'S RACISM and the fraudulent economic benefits it offered its imperial subjects are nonetheless willing to applaud its gentlemanly endgame, arguing that the way the empire dismantled itself after World War II was "authentically noble" and redeemed all that went before. Ferguson takes up this theme too: "In the end, the British sacrificed her empire to stop the Germans, Japanese, and Italians from keeping theirs. Did not that sacrifice alone expunge all the empire's other sins?" Much of this is Anglo-American claptrap, but at its core there is a theoretical distinction that is important. First, let's take a look at the argument.
P.J. Marshall, editor of the Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, asserts categorically: "The British entered into partnerships with their nationalists and extricated themselves from empire with grace and goodwill ... The unwillingness of the British government after 1945 to be dragged into colonial wars is irrefutable, even if its is not easy to explain." This idea, a staple of Anglophile romanticism, is simply untrue. When he wrote in 1996, Marshall was surely aware of the Malayan Emergency, a bloody colonial war to retain British possession of its main rubber-producing South-East Asian colonies that lasted from approximately 1948 to 1960. It was the British equivalent of the anti-French and anti-American wars that went on in nearby Indo-China. Although the British claimed victory over the insurgents – much like the French did in Algeria – the long and deadly conflict led to independence for Britain's colonies and the emergence of the two successor states of Malaysia and Singapore.
The so-called Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya from 1952 to 1960 – in the immediate wake of the global war against fascism – was one of the most vicious colonial wars Britain ever fought. No one knows precisely what "Mau Mau" means, or even what language it comes from, but it was the Kikuyu, Kenya's largest ethnic group, some 1.5 million strong, who led the rebellion for freedom from British oppression. Kenya's white settler population was different from similar groups in other colonies. A great many came from Britain's upper classes, and they assumed privileges in their new East African enclave that had long since been abolished in their homeland. Caroline Elkins, an American historian who has reconstructed the revolt against these expatriates, writes: "Kenya's big men quickly established a leisurely life-style aspired to by all Europeans in the colony. On their estates or farms or in European neighborhoods in Nairobi, every white settler in the colony was a lord to some extent, particularly in relationship to the African population ... [T]hese privileged men and women lived an absolutely hedonistic life-style, filled with sex, drugs, and dance, followed by more of the same."
When the Kenyans rebelled against ruthless land seizures by the settlers and their adamant refusal to share power in any way, the British retaliated – in the name of civilisation – by detaining, torturing and executing huge numbers of Africans. They imprisoned nearly the entire Kikuyu population – whom the British contended were not freedom fighters but savages of the lowest order – in concentration camps. This colonial war may have slipped the mind of the editor of the Cambridge History because the British government did everything in its power to cover up the genocide it attempted there, including burning its colonial archives relating to Kenya on the eve of leaving the country in 1963.
“On the dreadful balance sheet of atrocities,” Elkins explains, “ ... the murders perpetrated by Mau Mau adherents were quite small in number when compared to those committed by the forces of British colonial rule. Officially, fewer than one hundred Europeans, including settlers, were killed and some eighteen hundred loyalists [pro-British Kikuyu] died at the hands of Mau Mau. In contrast, the British reported that more than eleven thousand Mau Mau were killed in action, though the empirical and demographic evidence I unearthed calls into serious question the validity of this figure. I now believe there was in late colonial Kenya a murderous campaign to eliminate Kikuyu people, a campaign that left tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, dead.” This was anything but an extrication from empire "with grace and goodwill".
WITHOUT DOUBT, NIALL FERGUSON ALSO KNOWS ABOUT the way the British crushed the Mau Mau, since he and his family lived in Nairobi in the late 1960s, but he makes no mention of the rebellion in either of his books on the British empire. Instead he writes: "We had our bungalow, our maid, our smattering of Swahili – and our sense of unshakable security. It was a magical time, which indelibly impressed on my consciousness the sight of the hunting cheetah, the sound of Kikuyu women singing, the smell of the first rains and the taste of ripe mango."...
There are still other post-1945 colonial wars that contradict any claim of an honourable British abdication of empire – for example, the joint Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt in November 1956 in retaliation for Gamel Abdel Nasser's act of nationalising the Suez Canal. Nothing came of it because the United States refused to join this exercise in gunboat diplomacy. Nonetheless, the incident revealed that, some eighteen years after the British occupation of Egypt had supposedly ended, Britain still had 80,000 troops based in the canal zone and did not want to leave. And then there is the British military's 2003 return to what Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis calls "among the most disastrous and tragic creations of Britain's colonial policy" – namely Iraq. In 1920, following World War I, Britain violated every promise it had ever made to the diverse peoples of the Near East and created the hopelessly unstable country of Iraq from the Mesopotamian remnants of the Ottoman empire. The new country combined mutually incompatible Kurds, Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, whose struggles with each other were finally suppressed only by the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. In 1920, when the Iraqis revolted against the British, the Royal Air Force routinely bombed, strafed and used poison gas against rebellious villages. It is remarkable that the British dared show their faces there again.
There are other problems with the thesis that the British empire revealed its human greatness at its twilight. The bungled partition of India into India and Pakistan caused between two hundred thousand and half a million deaths, and laid the foundation for the three wars to follow between the two countries and the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Raychaudhuri explains: "The British perception that Hindus and Muslims were two mutually antagonistic monoliths, a notion not rooted in facts, became an important basis for allocating power and resources. Hindu-Muslim rivalry and the eventual partition of India [were] the end result[s], and the British policy makers, when they did not actually add fuel to the conflict, were quite happy to take advantage of it." In the partition, Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, openly sided with the Hindu-dominated Congress Party against the Muslim League.
An empire such as Britain's that remains a democracy at home and a tyranny abroad always faces tensions between its people in the field and the home office. The on-the-spot imperialists usually exercise unmitigated power over their subordinated peoples, whereas political leaders at home are responsible to parliaments and can be held accountable through elections. Writing about British imperialism, Hannah Arendt noted, "... on the whole [it] was a failure because of the dichotomy between the nation-state's legal principles and the methods needed to oppress other people permanently. This failure was neither necessary nor due to ignorance or incompetence. British imperialists knew very well that "administrative massacres" could keep India in bondage, but they also knew that public opinion at home would not stand for such measures. Imperialism could have been a success if the nation-state had been willing to pay the price, to commit suicide and transform itself into a tyranny. It is one of the glories of Europe, and especially of Great Britain, that she preferred to liquidate the empire."
EVEN THOUGH I BELIEVE ARENDT OVERSTATES the achievements of Britain, her point is central to what I have tried to illustrate here. Over any fairly lengthy period of time, successful imperialism requires that a domestic republic or a domestic democracy change into a domestic tyranny. That is what happened to the Roman republic; that is what I fear is happening in the United States as the imperial presidency gathers strength at the expense of the constitutional balance of governmental powers and as militarism takes even deeper root in the society. It did not happen in Britain, although it was a closer thing and altogether less noble than either Arendt or contemporary apologists for British imperialism imply. Nonetheless, Britain escaped transformation into a tyranny largely because of a post-World War II resurgence of democracy and popular revulsion at the routine practices of imperialism.
The histories of Rome and Britain suggest that imperialism and militarism are the deadly enemies of democracy. This was something the founders of the United States tried to forestall with their creation of a republican structure of government and a system of checks and balances inspired by the Roman republic. Imperialism and militarism will ultimately breach the separation of powers created to prevent tyranny and defend liberty. The United States today, like the Roman republic in the first century BC, is threatened by an out-of-control military-industrial complex and a huge secret government controlled exclusively by the president. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, cynical and short-sighted political leaders in the United States began to enlarge the powers of the president at the expense of the elected representatives of the people and the courts. The public went along, accepting the excuse that a little tyranny was necessary to protect the population. But, as Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1759: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Rome and Britain are archetypes of the dilemma of combining democracy at home with an empire abroad. In the Roman case, they decided to hang on to the empire and lost their democracy. In the British case, they chose the opposite: in order to remain democratic, they dumped their empire and military apparatus after World War II. For the United States, the choice is between the Roman and British examples, and I am not at all confident about the outcome. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.71-89)
As Thomas Powers, an authority on the CIA reminds us, “No one can understand, much less predict, he behavior of the CIA who does not understand that the agency works for the president. I know of no exceptions to this general rule. In practice it means that in the end the CIA will always bend to the wishes of the president .... The general rule applies both to intelligence and to operations: what the CIA says, as well as what it does, will shape itself over time to what the president wants.”
Since everything the CIA writes and does is secret, including its budget (regardless of article 1, section 9, of the constitution which says “a regular Statement and Account of the receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time”), accountability to the elected representatives of the people or even an accurate historical record of actions is today inconceivable. Congressional oversight of the agency -- and many other, ever expanding intelligence outfits in the US government, including the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) - is at best a theatrical performance designed to distract and mislead the few Americans left who are concerned about constitutional government. In fact, the president's untrammeled control of the CIA is probably the single most extraordinary power the imperial presidency possesses - totally beyond the balance of powers intended to protect the United States from the rise of a tyrant. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.91) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Griffith review Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 also cited in Safe Haven
The National Security Act of 1947 placed the CIA under the explicit direction of the National Security Council (NSC), the president's chief staff unit-composed of appointed members not subject to congressional approval-focused on making decisions about war and peace. The CIA was given five functions, four of them dealing with the collection, coordination, and dissemination of intelligence. It was the fifth-a vaguely worded passage that allowed the CIA to "perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct"-that turned the CIA into the personal, secret, unaccountable army of the president. At least since 1953, when it secretly overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran, the CIA has often been ordered into battle without Congress having declared war, as the Constitution requires.
Clandestine or covert operations, although nowhere actually mentioned in the CIA's enabling statutes, quickly became the agency's main activity. As Loch K. Johnson, one of the CIA's most impartial congressional analysts and former chief assistant to Senator Frank Church, chairman of the post-Watergate Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, observed, "The covert action shop had become a place for rapid promotion within the agency." The Directorate of Operations (DO) soon absorbed two-thirds of the CIA's budget and personnel, while the Directorate of Intelligence limped along, regularly producing bland documents known as National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) -summaries of intelligence gathered by all the various intelligence agencies, including those in the Department of Defense. I personally read a good many of these when I served, from 1967 to 1973, as an outside consultant to what was then known as the CIA's Office of National Estimates. This consulting function was abolished by Kissinger and Schlesinger during Nixon's second term precisely because they did not want outsiders interfering with their ability to tell the president what to think.
Meanwhile, CIA covert operations were mobilized in support of various criminal, dictatorial, or militarist organizations around the world so long as they were (or pretended to be) anticommunist. CIA operatives also planted false information in foreign newspapers and covertly fed large amounts of money to members of the Christian Democratic Party in Italy and the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, to King Hussein of Jordan, and to clients in Greece, West Germany, Egypt, Sudan, Suriname, Mauritius, the Philippines, Iran, Ecuador, and Chile. Clandestine agents devoted themselves to such tasks as depressing the global prices of agricultural products in order to damage uncooperative Third World countries, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders, and sponsoring guerrilla wars or insurgencies in places as diverse as the Ukraine, Poland, Albania, Hungary, Indonesia, China, Tibet, Oman, Malaysia, Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, North Korea, Bolivia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba, Greece, Turkey, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua, to name only a few of those on the public record.
All this was justified by the Cold War and no one beyond a very small group inside the executive branch was supposed to know anything about most of these activities, although over the years much information about them became public. The Central Intelligence Act of 1949 modified the National Security Act of 1947 with a series of revisions that, in the words of the Pioneer scholar of the CIA Harry Howe Ransom, were meant “to permit [the CIA] a secrecy so absolute that accountability might be impossible.” No congressional oversight of the agency in any form existed until 1974, when, in the wake of Watergate, the Church Committee exposed the CIA's illegal domestic surveillance, its assassinations of overseas leaders, and its lying to Congress. The committee's report led Congress to create intelligence committees in both houses, but even that Congress meant to bring a little sunlight to the agency... Vice President Dick Cheney has made it his personal crusade to try to reverse the Church Committee's reforms...
To further enhance secrecy and add to the confusion, the president and the CIA have increasingly turned to completely ‘off-the-books’ operations. The unsuccessful attempt to rig the Iraqi election of January 30, 2005, in favor of the White Houses’s preferred candidate, former CIA operative Iyad Allawi, by using ‘retired’ agents, funds not appropriated by Congress, and other means is but one contemporary example of this phenomenon. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.93-5) (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited by Tom Hull.com
National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird argued that the fourth version of the SS-9 was a MIRVed weapon; the CIA in its NIE on the subject claimed that it was not. At first the CIA rejected the pressure coming from the policymakers and, in fact, added more evidence against MIRVs to its estimate. Ultimately, however, DCI Helms removed the paragraph arguing against Soviet preparations for a first strike after "an assistant to [Laird] informed Helms that the statement contradicted the public position of the Secretary." As it turned out, the CIA was right. The SS-9s were armed with MRVs, not MIRVs -- that is, they could produce only a cluster of explosions in a single area. The Soviet Union did not deploy MIRVs until 1976, six years after the United States had done so. So it was we, not they, who accelerated the race toward mutual assured destruction -- and did so on the basis of fake intelligence.
When it comes to ignoring accurate CIA intelligence, the preeminent example in the Bush administration was National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's indifference to al-Qaeda and her failure to ensure that the president read and understood the explicit warnings of an imminent surprise attack that the agency delivered to her. As the Washington Post's Steve Coll has summarized the matter in his book Ghost Wars, "Bin Laden Determined to strike in U.S.,” was the headline on the President's Daily Brief presented to Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on August 6 . The report included the possibility that bin Laden operatives would seek to hijack airplanes. The hijacking threat, mentioned twice, was one of several possibilities outlined. There was no specific information about when or where such an attack might occur."
On August 6, 2001, in a blunt one-page analysis headlined, ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,’ the CIA presented its President’s Daily Brief to Bush at this Crawford, Texas, ranch. According to Steve Coll of the Washington Post, ‘The report included the possibility that bin Laden operatives would seek to hijack airplanes. The hijacking threat, mentioned twice, was one of several possibilities outlined. There was no specific information about when or where such an attack might occur. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.97-8) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 also cited on Tom Dispatch.com
The CIA remains the main executive-branch department in charge of overthrowing foreign governments, promoting regimes of state terrorism, kidnapping people of interest to the administration and sending them to friendly foreign countries to be tortured and/or killed, assassination and the torture of prisoners in violation of international and domestic law, and numerous other "wet" exercises that both the president and the country in which they are executed want be able to deny. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.102)
The 1974 Hughes-Ryan Act, named after its authors, Senator Harold E. Hughes (Democrat from Iowa) and Representative Leo J. Ryan (Democrat from California), for the first time tried to enforce the CIA’s accountability to the elected representatives of the people. It states that ‘No funds…may be expended by or on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for operations in foreign countries…unless and until the President funds that each such operation is important to the national security of the United States.’ The verb ‘finds’ is the origin of the odd term ‘finding,’ which is governmental argot for the document that the president now signs approving and settling into motion a covert operation. The law also stipulates that the president must give the appropriate committees of Congress ‘in a timely fashion’ a description of each operation and its scope.
The law has not worked well. In the middle of the Reagan administration, members of Congress first read in the newspapers that, on orders of the president’s national security adviser, Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter, CIA operatives were covertly and illegally selling arms to the revolutionary government of Iran and using the funds thus obtained to finance a congressionally forbidden insurgency against the elected government of Nicaragua….
….Even the heavily censored CIA documents released to the Church Committee in 1975 led Senator Church to produce his own definition of ‘covert action.’ It is a ‘semantic disguise for murder, coercion, blackmail, bribery, the spreading of lies, and consorting with known torturers and international terrorists.
From the moment the Kennedy administration came to power in 1961 until the overthrow and death of Chile’s president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, the CIA spent some $12 million on a massive ‘black’ propaganda campaign to support Allende’s primary political opponent, Eduardo Frei, the candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, and to denigrate Allende as a stooge of the Soviet Union. In addition, the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (which owned the Chilean telephone system) and other American-owned businesses in Chile gave the CIA an extra $1.5 million to help discredit Allende. ITT properties in Chile , including two Sheraton Hotels, were worth at least $153 million. In July 1970, two months before Allende was elected president, John McCone, director of central intelligence from 1961 to 1965 and in 1970 a member of the board of directors of ITT, set up an appointment with then DCI Richard Helms. He offered money and cooperation from ITT ‘for the purpose of assisting any [ US ] government plan…to stop Allende.’ ITT presented a plan ‘aimed at inducing economic collapse’ in Chile…..
…. The agency’s operatives soon discovered that the main obstacle was the commander in chief of the army, General Rene Schneider, who represented what the CIA called ‘the apolitical, constitution-oriented inertia of the Chilean military.’ Therefore, the CIA set out to find and arm dissident Chilean forces who would assassinate him…..
…and the CIA worked tirelessly to find a suitable general to put in power. They finally identified a likely candidate in the summer of 1971 – the cruel, ruthless, and corrupt General Augusto Pinochet.
The Chilean military under Pinochet finally moved against Allende on ‘the other 9/11’ – September 11, 1973. During the attack on La Moneda, the presidential palace, Pinochet’s forces offered Allende an airplane to fly him and his family into exile. (Pinochet was taped giving radio instructions to his troops, in which he says, ‘That plane will never land.’) Allende apparently took his own life rather than agreeing to any offer or allowing himself to be captured. He was found dead of gunshot wounds in his office around 2 PM on September 11.
Thus began Pinochet’s seventeen-year dictatorship and reign of terror – sponsored and paid for by the US government. During this period, the Chilean military was responsible for the murder, disappearance, or death by torture of some 3,197 citizens, according to the postdictatorship Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, released in 1991…. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.103-8) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 also cited in Books and Burkes
As in Chile, so in Afghanistan, the CIA record was filled with payoffs, murders, corrupt public officials in Washington, and support for local villains. The Afghan operation according to several CIA partisans, was “the biggest, meanest, and far and away the most successful CIA campaign in history.” That was the short-term view. As a matter of fact, the CIA’s covert operations in Afghanistan from 1979 to the victory of the Taliban in 1996 produced the worst instance of blowback among America’s secret wars-namely al-Qaeda’s attack on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Neither the United States nor the world can stand many more “victories” of that sort.
The Carter administration deliberately provoked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which occurred on Christmas Eve 1979. In his 1996 memoir, former CIA director Robert Gates acknowledges that the American intelligence services began to aid the anti-Soviet mujahideen guerrillas not after the Russian invasion but six months before it. On July 3, 1979, President Carter signed a finding authorizing secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime then ruling in Kabul. His purpose-and that of his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski-was to provoke a fullscale Soviet military intervention. Carter wanted to tie down the USSR and so prevent its leaders from exploiting the 1979 anti-American revolution in Iran. In addition, as Brzezinski put it, "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War."
Before it was over, the CIA and the USSR between them turned Afghanistan, which had been a functioning state with a healthy middle class, into a warring collection of tribes, Islamic sects, and heroin-producing warlords. In human terms, the effort cost 1.8 million Afghan casualties and sent 2.6 million fleeing as refugees, while ten million unexploded land mines were left strewn around the country. It also took the lives of about 15,000 Soviet soldiers and contributed to the dissolution of the USSR….
The communists’ policies of secularization in turn provoked a violent response from devout Islamists. The anticommunist revolt that began in western Afghanistan in March 1979 was initially a response to a government initiative to teach girls to read, something that devout Sunnis opposed. A triumvirate of anticommunist nations – the United states , Pakistan , and Saudi Arabia – came to the aid of the rebels. Each had a diverse, even contradictory motives for doing so, but the United States did not take these differences seriously until it was too late. By the time the Americans woke up, at the end of the 1990s, the radical Islamist Taliban had established its government in Kabul. Recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, it granted Osama bin Laden freedom of action and offered him protection from American efforts to capture or kill him. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.110-1) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 also cited in Tom Dispatch.com
Hart’s marching orders came from a most peculiar American, one of the few CIA directors who was genuinely close to the president. Educated by Jesuits, William Casey, Reagan’s DCI from January 1981 to January 1987, was a Catholic Knight of Malta….
Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. He believed that the USSR was trying to strike at the U.S. in Central America and in the oil-producing states of the Middle East. He supported Islam as a counter to the Soviet Union's atheism, and Coll suggests that he sometimes conflated lay Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian extremist organization, of which Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, was a passionate member. The Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and Coll writes that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's military dictator from 1977 to 1988. On the suggestion of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization, Casey went so far as to print thousands of copies of the Koran, which he shipped to the Afghan frontier for distribution in Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan. He also fomented, without presidential authority, Muslim attacks inside the USSR and always held that the CIA's clandestine officers were too timid. He preferred the type represented by his friend Oliver North, the marine colonel at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal…..
Over time, Casey's position hardened into CIA dogma, which its agents, protected by secrecy from ever having their ignorance exposed, enforced in every way they could. The agency resolutely refused to help choose winners and losers among the Afghan jihad's guerrilla leaders. The result was that, as Coll puts it, "Zia-ul-Haq's political and religious agenda in Afghanistan gradually became the CIA's own." In the era after Casey, some scholars, journalists, and members of Congress questioned the agency's lavish support of the Pakistan-backed Islamist general Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, especially after he refused to shake hands with Ronald Reagan because he was an “infidel.” But Milton Bearden, the Islamabad station chief from 1986 to 1989, and Frank Anderson, chief of the Afghan task force at Langley, vehemently defended Hekmatyar on the grounds that "he fielded the most effective anti-Soviet fighters."
…. Nothing more readily illustrates the dangers of secrecy in the United States government than the ways an ignoramus of a congressman and a high-ranking CIA thug managed to hijack American foreign policy. Under the covert guidance of Representative Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, the agency flooded Afghanistan with an incredible array of extremely dangerous weapons and ‘unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower’ – initially, the USSR. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.112-3)
Secret police and state terrorist agencies normally try to disguise what they are doing by hiding behind bland euphemisms for their most odious operations. As long ago as the eighteenth century, Voltaire observed, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." On sanitizing language, the Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura writes, "By camouflaging pernicious activities in innocent or sanitizing parlance, the activities lose much of their repugnancy. Bombing missions are described as 'servicing the target,' in the likeness of a public utility. The attacks become 'clean, surgical strikes,' arousing imagery of curative activities. The civilians whom the bomb kills are linguistically converted to 'collateral damage.' . . . In the vocabulary of the lawbreakers in Nixon's administration, criminal conspiracy became a 'game plan,' and the conspirators were 'team players,' like the best of sportsmen.
Typifying this deliberate whitewashing, the Nazi Party's SS had its "transportations," meaning the shipping of trainloads of prisoners to death camps; the British had their "civilizing mission" in Kenya, meaning the rounding up of members of the indigenous population and sodomizing, castrating,a nd killing thousands of them; the Japanese had their "comfort women," meaning girls and women they kidnapped in occupied countries and forced at gunpoint to work as frontline prostitutes; and the CIA has its "renditions." This is an unusual locution. In most dictionaries, a "rendition" is a performance or an interpretation of a piece of music or a role in a play, as in: "That was a nice rendition of Duke Ellington's 'Jubilee Stomp.'" But the CIA uses it as a transitive verb -- to render (as in "render undo Caesar the things that are Caesar's"), to hand over, to surrender. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.120-1 Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited at Susan Ohanian.org
On the basis of the new agreement with Egypt, between 1995 and 1998 the CIA carried out a series of renditions aimed particularly at Islamic freedom fighters working in the Balkans, many of them originally from Egypt. Virtually all the people the CIA kidnapped in these operations were killed after being delivered into Egyptian hands. Predictably enough, these kidnappings generated blowback, although ordinary Americans did not perceive it as such because the actions that provoked the retaliation were, of course, kept totally secret. On August 5, 1998, the International Islamic Front for Jihad, in a letter to an Arab-language newspaper in London, promised a reprisal for recent U.S. renditions from Albania. Two days later, al-Qaeda blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with a loss of 224 lives. The U.S. renditions continued with the CIA and FBI carrying out some two dozen of them in 1999 and 2000. These, in turn, helped provoke the attacks on the navy destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden on October 12, 2000. Former CIA director George Tenet testified before the 9/11 Commission that there were more than seventy renditions leading up to 9/11. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.122-3
Human Rights Watch has identified at least twenty-four secret detention and interrogation centers worldwide operated by the CIA. These include: al-Jafr prison in the southern desert of Jordan; Kohat prison in Pakistan; holding sites in Afghanistan including in Kabul and Kandahar, at Bagram Air Base and Camp Salerno, near Khost; at least three locations in Iraq, including CIA-controlled parts of Abu Ghraib prison; at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Camp Echo complex, and the new Camp 6; a secret location at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar; prisons in Egypt, Thailand, and in brigs on U.S. ships at sea; at least two CIA prisons in the old Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, probably in Poland and Romania; in Morocco at secret police headquarters in Temara, near the capital, Rabat, and at a new CIA torture center under construction at Ain Aouda, south of Rabat's diplomatic district; and possibly at the U.S. naval base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
The people held in this U.S. version of the gulag are known as "ghost detainees' completely off-the-books. No charges are ever filed against them, and they are hidden away even from the inspectors of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In an unusual typology of rendition sites, Robert Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East and the author of Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, has commented, "We pick up a suspect or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on a civilian transport to a third country where, let's make no bones about it, they use torture. If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the U.S. cannot be blamed as it is not doing the heavy work." (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.124)
On June 24, 2005, an Italian judge signed a 213-page criminal arrest warrant for thirteen CIA operatives, including the former Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, charging them with kidnapping an Egyptian in Milan who had political refugee status in Italy. The victim was also under Italian police surveillance as a possible recruiter of mujahideen for service in Afghanistan and Iraq, although recruiting fighters for foreign battles is not illegal in Italy. The warrants for the 13 CIA men and women, together with their photos, were forwarded to the European police authority, which authorized their arrest anywhere on the continent. It is the first time that a fellow NATO member has ever filed criminial complaints against employees of the United States government acting in an official capacity. In late July, another Italian court issued extradition requests to the United States for 22 CIA operatives based on a 477-page police analysis of what they had done. All of them except for Station Chief Lady were working under assumed names and had left Italy. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 20-06 p.131)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited at History Commons
The reality was and is that presidents like having a private army and do not like to be contradicted by officials not fully under their control Thus the clandestine service long ago began to surpass the intelligence side of the agency in terms of promotions, finances, and prestige. In May 2006, Bush merely put strategic analysis to sleep once and for all and turned over truth-telling to a brand-new bureaucracy of personal loyalists and the vested interests of the Pentagon. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.136
The military, financial, and strategic logic of closing redundant military facilities is inarguable, particularly when some of them date back to the Civil War and others are devoted to weapons systems such as Trident-missile-armed nuclear submarines that are useless in the post-Cold war world. At least in theory, there is a way that this local dependence on ‘military Keynesianism’ – the artificial stimulation of economic demand through military expenditures – could be mitigated. The United States might begin to cut back its global imperium of military bases and relocate them in the home country.
After all, foreign military bases are designed for offense, whereas a domestically based military establishment would be intended for defense. The fact that the Department of Defense regularly goes through the elaborate procedures to close domestic bases but continues to expand its network of overseas ones reveals how little interested the military is in actually protecting the country and how devoted to what it calls “full spectrum dominance” over the planet. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.138) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Kimberly’s blog
Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base; and by following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever more all-encompassing imperial "footprint" and the militarism that grows with it. It is not easy, however, to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records available to the public on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual inventories from 2002 to 2005 of real property it owns around the world, the Base Structure Report, there has been an immense churning in the numbers of installations. The total of America's military bases in other people's countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737. Reflecting massive deployments to Iraq and the pursuit of President Bush's strategy of preemptive war, the trend line for numbers of overseas bases continues to go up.
Interestingly enough, the thirty-eight large and medium-sized American facilities spread around the globe in 2005 - mostly air and naval bases for our bombers and fleets - almost exactly equals Britain's thirty-six naval bases and army garrisons at its imperial zenith in 1898. The Roman Empire at its height in 117 AD required thirty-seven major bases to police its realm from Britannia to Egypt, from Hispania to Armenia. Perhaps the optimum number of major citadels and fortresses for an imperialist aspiring to dominate the world is somewhere between thirty-five and forty.
Using data from fiscal year 2005, the Pentagon bureaucrats calculated that its overseas bases were worth at least $127 billion -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic products of most countries -- and an estimated $658.1 billion for all of them, foreign and domestic (a base's "worth" is based on a Department of Defense estimate of what it would cost to replace it). During fiscal 2005, the military high command deployed to our overseas bases some 196,975 uniformed personnel as well as an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employed an additional 81,425 locally hired foreigners. The worldwide total of U.S. military personnel in 2005, including those based domestically, was 1,840,062 supported by an additional 473,306 Defense Department civil service employees and 203,328 local hires. Its overseas bases, according to the Pentagon, contained 32,327 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and 16,527 more that it leased. The size of these holdings was recorded in the inventory as covering 687,347 acres overseas and 29,819,492 acres worldwide, making the Pentagon easily one of the world's largest landlords.
These numbers, although staggeringly big, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2005 Base Structure Report fails, for instance, to mention any garrisons in Kosovo (or Serbia, of which Kosovo is still officially a province) -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel built in 1999 and maintained ever since by the KBR corporation (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root), a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston. The report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq (106 garrisons as of May 2005), Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, even though the U.S. military has established colossal base structures in the Persian Gulf and Central Asian areas since 9/11. By way of excuse, a note in the preface says that "facilities provided by other nations at foreign locations" are not included, although this is not strictly true. The report does include twenty sites in Turkey, all owned by the Turkish government and used jointly with the Americans. The Pentagon continues to omit from its accounts most of the $5 billion worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases overseas, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure.
In some cases, foreign countries themselves have tried to keep their U.S. bases secret, fearing embarrassment if their collusion with American imperialism were revealed. In other instances, the Pentagon seems to want to play down the building of facilities aimed at dominating energy sources, or, in a related situation, retaining a network of bases that would keep Iraq under our hegemony regardless of the wishes of any future Iraqi government. The U.S. government tries not to divulge any information about the bases we use to eavesdrop on global communications, or our nuclear deployments, which, as William Arkin, an authority on the subject, writes, "[have] violated its treaty obligations. The U.S. was lying to many of its closest allies, even in NATO, about its nuclear designs. Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, hundreds of bases, and dozens of ships and submarines existed in a special secret world of their own with no rational military or even 'deterrence' justification."
In Jordan, to take but one example, we have secretly deployed up to five thousand troops in bases on the Iraqi and Syrian borders. (Jordan has also cooperated with the CIA in torturing prisoners we deliver to them for "interrogation.") Nonetheless, Jordan continues to stress that it has no special arrangements with the United States, no bases, and no American military presence. The country is formally sovereign but actually a satellite of the United States and has been so for at least the past ten years. Similarly, before our withdrawal from Saudi Arabia in 2003, we habitually denied that we maintained a fleet of enormous and easily observed B-52 bombers in Jeddah because that was what the Saudi government demanded. So long as military bureaucrats can continue to enforce a culture of secrecy to protect themselves, no one will know the true size of our baseworld, least of all the elected representatives of the American people.
In 2005, deployments at home and abroad were in a state of considerable flux. This was said to be caused by both a long overdue change in the strategy for maintaining our global dominance and by the closing of surplus bases at home. In reality, many of the changes seemed to be determined largely by the Bush administration's urge to punish nations and domestic states that had not supported its efforts in Iraq and to reward those that had. Thus, within the United States, bases were being relocated to the South, to states with cultures, as the Christian Science Monitor put it, "more tied to martial traditions" than the Northeast, the northern Middle West, or the Pacific Coast. According to a North Carolina businessman gloating over his new customers, "The military is going where it is wanted and valued most."
In part, the realignment revolved around the Pentagon's decision to bring home by 2007 or 2008 two army divisions from Germany -- the First Armored Division and the First Infantry Division -- and one brigade (3,500 men) of the Second Infantry Division from South Korea (which, in 2005, was officially rehoused at Fort Carson, Colorado). So long as the Iraq insurgency continues, the forces involved are mostly overseas and the facilities at home are not ready for them (nor is there enough money budgeted to get them ready). Nonetheless, sooner or later, up to 70,000 troops and 100,000 family members will have to be accommodated within the United States. The attendant 2005 "base closings" in the United States are actually a base consolidation and enlargement program with tremendous infusions of money and customers going to a few selected hub areas. At the same time, what sounds like a retrenchment in the empire abroad is really proving to be an exponential growth in new types of bases -- without dependents and the amenities they would require -- in very remote areas where the U.S. military has never been before.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was obvious to anyone who thought about it that the huge concentrations of American military might in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea were no longer needed to meet possible military threats. There were not going to be future wars with the Soviet Union or any country connected to any of those places. In 1991, the first Bush administration should have begun decommissioning or redeploying redundant forces; and, in fact, the Clinton administration did close some bases in Germany, such as those protecting the Fulda Gap, once envisioned as the likeliest route for a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. But nothing was really done in those years to plan for the strategic repositioning of the American military outside the United States.
By the end of the 1990s, the neoconservatives were developing their grandiose theories to promote overt imperialism by the "lone superpower" -- including preventive and preemptive unilateral military action, spreading democracy abroad at the point of a gun, obstructing the rise of any "near-peer" country or bloc of countries that might challenge U.S. military supremacy, and a vision of a "democratic" Middle East that would supply us with all the oil we wanted. A component of their grand design was a redeployment and streamlining of the military. The initial rationale was for a program of transformation that would turn the armed forces into a lighter, more agile, more high-tech military, which, it was imagined, would free up funds that could be invested in imperial policing. What came to be known as "defense transformation" first began to be publicly bandied about during the 2000 presidential election campaign.
Then 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq intervened. In August 2002, when the whole neocon program began to be put into action, it centered above all on a quick, easy war to incorporate Iraq into the empire. By this time, civilian leaders in the Pentagon had become dangerously overconfident because of what they perceived as America's military brilliance and invincibility as demonstrated in its 2001 campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda -- a strategy that involved reigniting the Afghan civil war through huge payoffs to Afghanistan's Northern Alliance warlords and the massive use of American airpower to support their advance on Kabul.
In August 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld unveiled his "1-4-2-1 defense strategy" to replace the Clinton era's plan for having a military capable of fighting two wars -- in the Middle East and Northeast Asia -- simultaneously. Now, war planners were to prepare to defend the United States while building and assembling forces capable of "deterring aggression and coercion" in four "critical regions": Europe, Northeast Asia (South Korea and Japan), East Asia (the Taiwan Strait), and the Middle East, be able to defeat aggression in two of these regions simultaneously, and "win decisively" (in the sense of "regime change" and occupation) in one of those conflicts "at a time and place of our choosing."As the military analyst William M. Arkin commented, "[With] American military forces ... already stretched to the limit, the new strategy goes far beyond preparing for reactive contingencies and reads more like a plan for picking fights in new parts of the world."
A seemingly easy three-week victory over Saddam Hussein's forces in the spring of 2003 only reconfirmed these plans. The U.S. military was now thought to be so magnificent that it could accomplish any task assigned to it. The collapse of the Baathist regime in Baghdad also emboldened Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to use "transformation" to penalize nations that had been, at best, lukewarm about America's unilateralism -- Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Turkey -- and to reward those whose leaders had welcomed Operation Iraqi Freedom, including such old allies as Japan and Italy but also former communist countries such as Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. The result was the Department of Defense's Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy, known informally as the "Global Posture Review." President Bush first mentioned it in a statement on November 21, 2003, in which he pledged to "realign the global posture" of the United States. He reiterated the phrase and elaborated on it on August 16, 2004, in a speech to the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati.
Because Bush's Cincinnati address was part of the 2004 presidential election campaign, his comments were not taken very seriously at the time. While he did say that the United States would reduce its troop strength in Europe and Asia by 60,000 to 70,000, he assured his listeners that this would take a decade to accomplish -- well beyond his term in office -- and made a series of promises that sounded more like a reenlistment pitch than a statement of strategy. "Over the coming decade, we'll deploy a more agile and more flexible force, which means that more of our troops will be stationed and deployed from here at home. We'll move some of our troops and capabilities to new locations, so they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats. ... It will reduce the stress on our troops and our military families. ... See, our service members will have more time on the home front, and more predictability and fewer moves over a career. Our military spouses will have fewer job changes, greater stability, more time for their kids and to spend with their families at home."
On September 23, 2004, however, Secretary Rumsfeld disclosed the first concrete details of the plan to the Senate Armed Services Committee. With characteristic grandiosity, he described it as "the biggest re-structuring of America's global forces since 1945." Quoting then undersecretary Douglas Feith, he added, "During the Cold War we had a strong sense that we knew where the major risks and fights were going to be, so we could deploy people right there. We're operating now [with] an entirely different concept. We need to be able to do [the] whole range of military operations, from combat to peacekeeping, anywhere in the world pretty quickly."
Though this may sound plausible enough, in basing terms it opens up a vast landscape of diplomatic and bureaucratic minefields that Rumsfeld's militarists surely underestimated. In order to expand into new areas, the Departments of State and Defense must negotiate with the host countries such things as Status of Forces Agreements, or SOFAs, which are discussed in detail in the next chapter. In addition, they must conclude many other required protocols, such as access rights for our aircraft and ships into foreign territory and airspace, and Article 98 Agreements. The latter refer to article 98 of the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute, which allows countries to exempt U.S. citizens on their territory from the ICC's jurisdiction. Such immunity agreements were congressionally mandated by the American Service-Members' Protection Act of 2002, even though the European Union holds that they are illegal. Still other necessary accords are acquisitions and cross-servicing agreements or ACSAs, which concern the supply and storage of jet fuel, ammunition, and so forth; terms of leases on real property; levels of bilateral political and economic aid to the United States (so-called host-nation support); training and exercise arrangements (Are night landings allowed? Live firing drills?); and environmental pollution liabilities. When the United States is not present in a country as its conqueror or military savior, as it was in Germany, Japan, and Italy after World War II and in South Korea after the 1953 Korean War armistice, it is much more difficult to secure the kinds of agreements that allow the Pentagon to do anything it wants and that cause a host nation to pick up a large part of the costs of doing so. When not based on conquest, the structure of the American empire of bases comes to look exceedingly fragile. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.138-45) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in the center for Global Research )
….For example, even though more than one hundred thousand women live on our overseas bases, including women in the services, spouses, and relatives of military personnel, obtaining an abortion – a constitutionally protected right of American citizens – is prohibited in military hospitals. Since some 14,000 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults are reported in the military, each year, women who become pregnant overseas and want an abortion have no choice but to try the local services, which cannot be either easy or pleasant in parts of our empire these days. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.146) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Tom Dispatch.com Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on fkikr.com
By 2005, this official American endorsement was being offset, in Karimov’s eyes, by the activities of some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) paid for by the U.S. government’s National Democratic Institute in Washington. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.152-3)
It is clear today that the Bush administration intended, upon Saddam Hussein's certain defeat, to create military bases in Iraq similar to those we built or took over in Germany and Japan after World War II. The covert purpose of our 2003 invasion was empire building - to move the main focus of our military installations in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, gain control over Iraq's oil resources, and make that country a permanent Pentagon outpost for the control of much of the rest of the "arc of instability."
In response to the question, "What were the real reasons for our invasion of Iraq?" retired air force lieutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a former strategist inside the Near East Division of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, suggested: "One reason has to do with enhancing our military basing posture in the region. We had been very dissatisfied with our relations with Saudi Arabia, particularly the restrictions on our basing .... So we were looking for alternate strategic locations beyond Kuwait, beyond Qatar, to secure something we had been searching for since the days of Carter-to secure the energy lines of communication in the region. Bases in Iraq, then, were very important.' In the spring of 2005, Kwiatkowski further noted, Pentagon leaders regarded Iraqi bases as vital for protecting Israel and as potential launching pads for preventive wars in Syria and Iran, part of the administration's strategic vision of reorganizing the entire region as part of an American sphere of influence. So it seems likely we intend to stay there whether the Iraqis want us or not.
….On February 17, 2005, for instance Secretary Rumsfeld testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I can assure you that we have no intention at present time of putting permanent bases in Iraq.”…..
In February 2005, Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institution, who was an adviser on democratization to our chief envoy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, summed up the basing situation this way: “[W] e could declare... that we have no permanent designs on Iraq and we will not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. This one statement would do an enormous amount to undermine the suspicion that we have permanent imperial intentions in Iraq. We aren't going to do that. And the reason we're not going to do that is because we are building permanent military bases in Iraq.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.157-9)
….The U.S. Southern Command's efforts there are aimed at keeping control over Latin America, where the United States is probably more unwelcome than at any time since the open imperialism of the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Most citizens of Latin American countries know about our armed interventions to overthrow popularly supported governments in Guatemala (1954, Cuba (1961), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Grenada(1983, and Nicaragua (1984-90). Some are aware of the 1997 creation of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies within the National Defense University in Washington to indoctrinate Latin American civilian defense officials, as well as the Pentagon's endless efforts to create close "military-to-military" relations by sending U.S. Special Forces to train and arm Latin American armies. Finally, there is the steadfast advocacy of radical free-market capitalism that, when implemented by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, have invariably left Latin American countries more indebted and poverty stricken than they were before. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.163)
Other than Colombia and Honduras, about the only place left where the American military is welcome is El Salvador, scene of numerous American-sponsored war crimes during the 1980’s and the only Latin American country still to have a truly symbolic contingent of troops in Iraq. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.164)
There is also a Peruvian-owned base at Iquitos from which the CIA directs local military pilots to shoot down airplanes it believes are smuggling narcotics. In April 2001, planes from the base happened to shoot down a small airplane carrying an American missionary family. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.165)
No one gave the place any thought until President Bush launched his global war on terror, at which time the presence of Muslims provided a pretext for future penetration. All of a sudden a spate of feverish articles appeared in American magazines typically describing the triborder area “as one of the most lawless places in the world.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.167)
…. The legal systems of some of these ‘hosts’ are every bit as sophisticated as our own, ones in which Americans would be unlikely to find themselves seriously disadvantaged by local law enforcement. What SOFAs do, however, is give American soldiers, contractors, Department of Defense civilians, and their dependents a whole range of special privileges that are not available to ordinary citizens of the country or to non-American visitors…..
SOFAs create many local problems for host nations. For instance, American military base and the activities they engender regularly do damage to the environment. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.171-2)
The NATO SOFA and the agreements with individual European countries do not contain exemptions from responsibility for environmental and noise pollution, which is undoubtedly one reason Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wants to move American bases from Germany to the ‘new Europe,’ those ex-communist satellites of Eastern Europe that are poor and desperate enough to be willing – at least for now – to let the Americans pollute as their wish, cost free, in order to get what economic benefits they can. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.174)
Between 1998 and 2004, U.S. military personnel in Japan have been involved in 2,024 reported crimes or accidents while on duty. Only one led to a court-martial. Commanders ordered “administrative discipline” in 318 instances; the remaining 1,706 presumably went unpunished.
SOFAs invariably infringe on the sovereignty of the host nation. In the Girard case, the U.S. Supreme Court paraphrased Chief Justice John Marshall, fourth chief justice of the United States, defining a sovereign nation as one that “has exclusive jurisdiction to punish offences against its laws committed within its borders unless it expressly or impliedly consents to surrender its jurisdiction.” SOFAs quite explicitly take away sovereign rights, which is why they are more easily imposed on defeated or occupied nations like Germany and Japan after World War II and South Korea after the Korean War, or extremely weak and dependent nations like Ecuador and Honduras….. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.176)
Okinawa is Japan's most southerly prefecture and its poorest. As of 2005, it was host to thirty-seven of the eighty-eight American military bases in Japan…..
As of November 2004, according to Pentagon statistics, the United States had stationed some 36,365 uniformed military personnel in Japan, not counting 11,887 sailors attached to the Seventh Fleet at its bases at Yokosuka (Kanagawa prefecture) and Sasebo (Nagasaki prefecture), some of whom are intermittently at sea. In addition there were 45,140 American dependents, 27,019 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, and approximately 20,000 Japanese citizens working for the U.S. forces in jobs ranging from maintaining golf courses and waiting on tables in the numerous officers' clubs to translating Japanese newspapers for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Okinawa is host to more than 50,000 of these American troops, military-related civilians, and dependents. According to Japanese researchers, the largest group of U.S. forces in Okinawa consists of 16,015 uniformed marines, 733 Department of Defense civilians, and 8,809 marine family members, adding up to a marine cohort of 25,557. The air force contributes 7,100 pilots and maintenance crews at the island's huge Kadena Air Base, the largest U.S. base in East Asia ... (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.177-9)
The transformation of the Governor Inamine into a resolute advocate of rewriting the SOFA bagan several years after he came into office, when three further sexual assaults occurred (on June, 2001, November 2, 2002 and May 25, 2003)……
In fact, the police did interrogate Woodland for thirty hours-without eliciting a confession. He contended that the sex on the morning of June 29 was "consensual" and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Some observed that Woodland was merely behaving like any suspect in an American court trying to sway a jury, but that he instead infuriated the Japanese court, where judges, not juries, try criminal suspects. Most Okinawans thought it highly unlikely that consensual sex would have taken place on the hood of a car with several other men looking on. But American soldiers disagreed. Several of them argued in print that the victim was merely an "Amejo" (American girl) or a "night owl" and that, as one put it, "Every Japanese girl I have dated or known as a friend has stated that she is intrigued by having sex in public." Another soldier referred to the victim as "a miniskirt-wearing little 'yellow cab' who couldn't remember what her name was. . . . Most of these trashy tramps can't think far enough ahead to order fries with their Big Mac." Even the Japanese (and female) Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka blamed the victim for having been out so late, drinking in a bar frequented by American servicemen. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.182-4)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on Tom Dispatch
As it turns out, there was a sad sequel to the Major Brown case. In August 2005, he left Okinawa and reported for duty at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. His wife and children had already moved back to Texas. Brown was actually living at his brother’s house in Laurel, Maryland, and commuting to Quantico. On October 4, 2005, a Maryland SWAT team arrested him in Laurel and charged that, on October 2, he had kidnapped an eighteen-year-old Chinese high school student, Lu Jin, at a flea market in Milton, West Virginia. Extradited to West Virginia, on October 20, he was indicted on a felony kidnapping charge, released on $75,000 bond, and ordered to keep out of West Virginia until his trial. If convicted, he could face life in prison. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.189)
This case, as banal and routine as it was in the context of the vast array of military sex crimes in Okinawa, was nonetheless the last straw for both the Japanese and American governments and led them to harden their positions. On the Japanese side, the issue of the SOFA and Japan's sovereignty was already in the public eye. Major Brown's trial was continuing; in March, a drunken Defense Department employee from Camp Hansen drove his car head-on into another, killing the Okinawan driver; on May 7, another Marine was arrested for mugging a store clerk who was walking home; the wife of a Marine assigned to Camp Foster punched and tried to strangle an Okinawan woman in the restroom of an Okinawa City bar; and on May 31 -- the day after they were paid -- five drunken Marines were arrested between 1:00 and 3:00 AM for failing to pay a 4,800-yen cab fare, trespassing on the premises of a private home, and damaging the glass entrance to the civic hall in Okinawa City. Okinawa City lies directly outside Kadena Air Force Base; once known as Koza, the town changed its name in 1972, after the Ryukyus reverted to Japanese administration, because Koza had become synonymous with incessant bar brawls and race riots among American servicemen.
During June 2003, Governor Inamine and his deputy governor set out on a "pilgrimage" to the thirteen other prefectures that host U.S. military facilities and asked each governor to cooperate with his campaign to force the central government to revise the SOFA. All the governors agreed. Inamine's biggest success was gaining the endorsement of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a popular right-wing politician with a long record of hostility to the American bases.41 Ishihara commented, "America's international strategy cannot be implemented without the bases in Japan. We are doing them a big favor here. . . . A half century has passed since the end of World War II, but Japan remains in an inferior position. It is strange to anyone who looks at it."42 This kind of remark from a man said to be in line for the prime ministership and mayor of the world's largest city put real pressure on the national government to end its obsequiousness toward the Americans. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.190)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Common Dreams
….It has long been an article of neocon faith that the United States must do everything in its power to prevent the development of rival power centers, whether friendly or hostile, which meant that after the collapse of the Soviet Union they turned their attention to China as one of our probable next enemies. In 2001, having come to power along with George W. Bush, the neoconservatives had shifted much of our nuclear targeting from Russia to China . They also began regular high-level military talks with Taiwan , China ’s breakaway province, over defense of the island; ordered a shift of army personnel and supplies to the Asia-Pacific region; and worked strenuously to promote the remilitarization of Japan …..
Toward that end, the United States has repeatedly pressured Japan to revise article 9 of its constitution (renouncing the use of force except as a matter of self-defense) and become what American officials call a “normal nation.” (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.198-9)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited by Japan Policy Research Group
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Tom Dipatch.com
What the Bush strategists and the Pentagon do not seem to understand is that China has real grievances against Japan and that American policy is exacerbating them. During World War II, the Japanese killed approximately twenty-three million Chinese throughout East Asia -- higher casualties than the staggering ones suffeed by Russia at the hands of the Nazis -- and yet Japan refuses to atone for or even acknowledge its historical war crimes. Quite the opposite, it continues to rewrite history, portraying itself as the liberator of Asia and a victim of European and American imperialsim. In what for the Chinese is a painful act of symbolism, Junichiro Koizumi made his first official visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo after becoming Japanese prime minister in 2001, a practice he has repeated every year sine. Koizumi likes to say that he is merely honoring Japan's war dead, but Yasukuni is anything but a military cemetery or a war memorial. It was established in 1869 by Emperor Meiji as a Shinto shrine (though with its torii archways made of steel rather than the traditional red-painted wood) to commemorate the lives lost in domestic military campaigns aimed at returning direct imperial rule to Japan. During World War II, Japanese militarists took over the shrine and used it to promote patriotic and nationalistic sentiments. Today Yasukuni is said to be dedicated to the spirits of approximately 2.4 million Japanese who have died in the country's wars, both civil and foreign, since 1853. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.200
Article 9 of Japan’s American-drafted constitution explicitly states that Japan will not maintain any offensive military capability or resort to war in its international relations. In fact, however, other than nuclear arms, virtually all of Japan’s postwar pacifism is, some fifty-plus years after Article 9 was written, a fiction. According to one source, Japan, with 139 warships, now has the second most powerful navy on the planet. Its army, navy, and air force has a total of 239,000 officers and men, deploys 452 combat aircraft, and is financed by a budget roughly equal to China’s military expenditures. Despite its low profile, Japan is a growing military powerhouse and its conservative leaders have increasingly wanted to stretch the country’s martial legs and the boundaries of Article 9. Deployment of a fairly large contingent of soldiers to Iraq gave Prime Minister Koizumi the chance to overcome the old constraints and precedent on Japanese ‘offensive’ operations. When the Bush administration ‘persuaded’ him to send troops to Iraq, Koizumi finessed the constitutionality of his action by insisting that the troops would only be engaged in peaceful reconstruction and not take part in warfare. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.202-3)
American servicemen continue to make sensational headlines in the Japanese press. In early July 2005, a drunken air force staff sergeant molested a ten-year-old Okinawan girl on her way to Sunday school. He first claimed to be innocent but….
….sentenced a twenty-two-year-old crew member of the USS Kitty Hawk to life in prison for robbing and beating to death a fifty-six-year-old woman outside the railroad station in Yokasuka.
The Koizumi government and its right-wing supporters, eager to come out of the military closet and into the world as a rearmed major power, acceded to various unpalatable U.S. basing decisions despite popular opposition. They did so because their perceptions of the security situation and their desire not to be marginalized by China overrode any difficulties that5 living with American military forces pose for citizens of their country. They ignored the facts that they themselves were responsible for much of the deterioration in their relations with China and that America’s doctrine of preemptive war threatened to draw them into conflicts not of their choosing. Far from bringing stability to international relations in Easst Asia, the United States and Japan are contributing to heightened tensions with China and North Korea. How long this increasingly fragile situation can be perpetuated is an open question. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.203-7)
“Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to directly apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets.”
--Air Force Space Command, Strategic Master Plan, Federal Year 2004 and Beyond
“Space offers attractive options not only for missile defense but for a broad range of interrelated civil and military missions. It truly is the ultimate high ground. We are exploring concepts and technologies for space-based intercepts.”
--Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, October 2002
“Whoever has the capability to control space will likewise possess the capability to exert control of the surface of the Earth.”
--General Thomas White, air force chief of staff, November 29, 1957 (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.208)
….In the 1990s, neoconservative lobbyists joined with big arms manufacturers and ambitious military officers, none of whom actually cared whether a national missile-defense system could stop a nuclear attack. Their interest was in the staggering sums such a project would require. By manipulating a Republican Congress and creating a missile defense lobby in both houses, they achieved all their goals, although actual missile defense remained as distant as ever. General Eugene Habiger, head of the U.S. Strategic Command in the mid-1990s, said, "A system is being deployed that doesn't have any credible capability." Philip Coyle, former assistant secretary of defense for test and evaluation in the Clinton administration, concluded that the United States had squandered over $100 billion dollars of taxpayers' money on a "high-tech scarecrow."
The neoconservative mind-set that brought this project to fruition had its origins in the Reagan years, when many young strategists, usually with neither military service nor war experience on their résumés, became impatient with the influence of internationalists and realists-the people who had dominated U.S. foreign policy making since World War II. They were also convinced that the collapse of the Soviet Union had been significantly due to U.S. technological prowess and that pouring more money into advanced technology was a sure way to achieve perpetual domination of the world. The only real debate among them was over whether American hegemony "would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress' or overwhelming American power-"shock and awe"-would be enough to terrify others into submission. They were committed to ending all arms control treaties that constrained U.S. power, to a vast expansion of spending on armaments as well as futuristic armaments research, and to a belief that he planet could easily be mastered from the\ high frontier of outer space. typical member of this group was Frank GaffneyJr., founder of the center for Security Policy (CSP), creator of the congressional missile defense lobby, and behind-the-scenes player in the policy shifts of the 1990s that would lead to the near-weaponization of space.
... The CSP is funded primarily by the major weapons manufacturers in the missile defense field-Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and others-and by conservative donors such as the Coors family, Richard Mellon Scaife, and the Colorado heiress Helen Krieble. CSP has received well over $3 million in corporate donations since its founding in 1988…. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.210
The head of the Air Force Space Command, General Lance Lord, has led the charge. "Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny," he told an air force conference in September 2004. "Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future." "Simply put," he said to Congress, "it's th American way of fighting." We must have "freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack" in space….
…Similarly today, there can be no rationale for a space war because one unintended but unavoidable consequence would be to destroy our own preeminent position in space. A major but little-noticed reason for this is because a conflict in space using antisatellite weapons of any kind would vastly increase the amount of orbiting garbage, which would threaten our whole network of military and commercial spacecraft. That, in turn, would threaten the whole American -- even planetary -- way of life. Yet space debris is a subject that the air force's "counterspace doctrine" never so much as mentions. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.215-6
Thirty years ago, during the period of Japan's high-speed economic growth, I was in Tokyo talking with an official from that country's trade ministry. Japan was then, as today, totally dependent on imported petroleum from the Middle East. I pointed out that Japan's supertankers were highly vulnerable. What, I asked, would Japan do if a hostile power sank one of its tankers in the narrow straits around Singapore? His answer was straightforward: call Lloyd's Insurance Company. It would be much cheaper to construct a new tanker than to defend the sea-lanes from Japan to the Persian Gulf by building a navy. There is a lesson in this for the United States. We cannot afford our air force's plans to protect our space assets militarily, and the air force does not know how to do so in any case. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.219-20
The Topol-M was Russia's original answer to President Reagan's Star Wars fantasies. It was designed during the late 1980s, but Russia did not produce it immediately because of the collapse of the USSR and because it discovered that Star Wars itself could be rather easily defeated by decoys and large numbers of conventional ICBMs. However, on June 13, 2004, the very day that George W. Bush succeeded in killing off the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, Aleksei Arbatov, one of Russia's leading experts on military affairs, advocated in parliament that Russia respond by speeding development of the Topol-M. A year and a half later, on December 24, 2005, Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, attended a ceremony at the Tatishchevo missile base in the Volga River's Saratov region. He was commissioning a new set of Topol-Ms, which he declared to be "capable of penetrating any missile defense system." The Topol-M was first put into service in December 1998 but was deployed only in silos. An off-road mobile version entered combat service in 2006. It is a truly formidable weapon. [ . . . ] There is no known defense against such a weapon. Diplomacy and deterrence are the only means to ensure that it will never be used, and the Bush administration has repeatedly rejected diplomacy as a useful tool of American foreign policy. The conclusion is unavoidable: Washington has given us at best the illusion of protection against a nuclear attack without reducing the odds of such an attack….
The raw monetary figures have been literally astronomic. From Reagan's 1983 "Star Wars" speech to 2006, depending on which expert you listen to, the United States has spent between $92.5 billion and $130 billion on the basic problem of shooting down an ICBM in flight -- and that's without even once having succeeded in doing so. One comprehensive analysis of the ultimate cost of the entire ballistic missile defense system by its distinctly theoretical date of completion in 2015 -- and excluding its most expensive and problematic component, a space-based laser -- is $1.2 trillion. Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.228-30
The Global Positioning System (known in the U.S. military as the Navstar GPS) is probably the greatest advance in navigation since the discovery of the compass and the invention of the sextant. It is the general term for at least twenty-four satellites, each circling the Earth twice a day, that are positioned in a "medium Earth orbit" (12,600 to 14,760 miles above the planet). A GPS receiver on a ship, automobile, aircraft, bomb, or a hiker's handheld navigational device decodes a time signal from four of these satellites, which carry extremely accurate atomic clocks, and then calculates a position based on the different times and distances to the various satellites. As of 2005, the GPS could determine your position at any moment within about sixteen feet (five meters), a steady improvement over the previous fifteen years. Although created for military use, the GPS is today available to any and all users worldwide, providing strikingly accurate information on position and time in all weather conditions. The GPS has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry in applications, including handheld guidance devices for the blind.
The US military operates over 500,000 GPS receivers, most of them on cruise missiles, precision-guided bombs, and other munitions. It invented the system and launched its first GPS satellite into orbit in February 1978. The cost of maintaining the system is approximately $400 million per year, including replacements for aging satellites. The air force keeps twenty-eight satellites in orbit at all times, four as backups to ones that might fail. Satellites cannot be repaired, have a limited lifespan, and a failure rate of about two per year. Management of the entire system is in the hands of the Second Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado….
…Slowly and fitfully, the European Union decided to build an alternative, which it named "Galileo." This satellite navigation system, when operational, will be more accurate and not subject to shutdown for military purposes. When completed it will be available to all world users, civilian and military, and at its full capacity will require only a Galileo receiver. As Rene Oosterlinck, head of the European Space Agency’s Navigation Department, summed matters up, “Europe cannot accept reliance on a military system which has the possibility of being cut off.”
European nations at first were reluctant to put up the money for Galileo and, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the project almost died. The United States has always recognized that Galileo was intended to break its stranglehold on the use of satellites for navigational purposes, but it did not know what to do about it. The terrorism of 9/11 gave it an opportunity to act. The Bush administration wrote directly to the European Union arguing that Galileo, by ending America’s ability to shut down GPS in times of military operations, would threaten the success of the war on terror. This ploy backfired badly. By mid-2002, virtually all European Union states were on board and had overfunded the project.
Galileo will be a system of thirty spacecraft in orbit-twenty-seven active and three spares-14,514 miles above the Earth. Each satellite has a projected lifetime of twelve years. The system aims at an accuracy of less than a meter, with greater penetration into urban centers, inside buildings, and under trees, a faster fix, and atomic clocks that are ten times better than those on board the GPS satellites. The European Space Agency plans to launch the required thirty satellites between 2006 and 2010, and the system is planned to be up and running under civilian control by 2010.
On December 28, 2005, a Russian Soyuz rocket fired from the old Soviet Cosmodrome at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, carried the first Galileo satellite into orbit-a launch received ecstatically in France, given a hearty “well done” in Britain, and greeted with poorly disguised sour grapes in the United States. As far as the Air Force is concerned, Galileo has truly slipped the American leash. In September 2003, China joined the project, promising to invest 230 mi lion euros in it. In July 2004, Israel signed on; India joined in September 2005; Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea all affiliated with Galileo during the winter of 2005-6, each of them paying for the privilege. There was speculation that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Russia also were considering becoming involved. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.233-6)
Flying at approximately the same speed that the Earth is turning on its axis, the satellite remains in the same position in relation to the Earth even though both are in constant motion.
In 1945, just as World War II was coming to an end but when London was still under attack from the Nazi V-2 rockets fired from the Netherlands, the future science-fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke calculated the height and speed required of a satellite to remain in the same place over the Earth. He published his findings in the magazine Wireless World. No one took his idea seriously at the time, but twenty years later, on April 6, 1965, it became a reality with the launching of Intelsat I, also called “Early Bird,” the first commercial geostationary communications satellite. There are today about thirty such communication satellites covering North America and more than a hundred orbiting the planet in different GEO locations. In 2002, the so-called Clarke Orbit, that is, the band where spacecraft can maintain a geosynchronous position with relation to the Earth, held over three hundred of various kinds. The fifteen U.S. early-warning satellites monitoring missile launches, for example, are almost entirely in GEO, which is quite crowded. When a satellite finally wears out and ceases to function, scrupulous satellite operators have often provided small rockets and enough fuel to move them a few hundred miles into a higher cemetery orbit, but not all operators can or are willing to assume these costs. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.238)
The latest innovation is an experimental microsatellite, XSS-11, that deploys tiny probes to inspect or service spacecraft in distress, according to the carefully worded air force publicity statement….
…..Lewis concludes, “If the Chinese were to conduct a proximity maneuver near a U.S. satellite, the reaction [in the Pentagon] would be apoplectic.” Nonetheless, Theresa Hitchens warns, “There will be a price to pay the first time a U.S. anti-satellite weapon shoots down an innocent Chinese communications satellite because a crucial widget on a U.S. satellite conked out due to faulty manufacturing processes.”
The iron triangle of the air force, Congress, and the military-industrial complex, sanctified by the high-tech jobs it offers to American workers, is driving our country toward bankruptcy. For some, it is tempting to continue the lucrative practice of buying arcane space technologies that do not work - missile defenses, for example - simply because it keeps people employed. Meanwhile, our democracy is undercut by members of Congress who use the lavish "campaign contributions" they receive - bribes by any other name - to buy elections. The only public business these bought- and-paid-for congressmen attend to is providing a legal veneer for munitions makers' unquestioned access to the tax venues of the government. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.240-2)
“My administration has a job to do and we're going to do it. We will rid the world of evildoers.”
-- President George W. Bush, September 16,2001
“The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading-as a last resort-all other justifications having failed to justify themselves-as liberation .... We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it "bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East.”
-- Harold Pinter, the 2005 Nobel Prize Lecture in Literature, Guardian, December 7, 2005
“When America is no longer a threat to the world, the world will no longer threaten us.”
--Harry Browne, "What Has 'Victory' Achieved?", Antiwar.com, January 11, 2002
When it comes to the deliberate dismantling of the Constitution ... the events that followed the Supreme Court's intervention in the election of 2000 that named George W. Bush the forty-third president have proved unprecedented. Bush has since implemented what even right-wing columnist George Will has termed a "monarchical doctrine" and launched, as left-wing commentator James Ridgeway put it, "a consistent and long-range policy to wreck constitutional government." In doing so, Bush has unleashed a political crisis comparable to the one Julius Caesar posed for the Roman constitution. If the United States has neither the means nor the will to overcome this crisis, then we have entered the last days of the republic.
James Madison, the primary author of our Constitution, considered the people's access to information the basic right upon which all other rights depend…..
"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it,” Madison later wrote, “is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” In theory, given our Constitution, we should not need a Freedom of Information Act. Except for keeping the most sensitive details of military or financial operations secret, and only until they have been carried out, we should enjoy easy access to information about the activities of our government. Bu n the late 1950s and early 1960s, Congressman John Moss (Democrat from California) became sly frustrated by his inability to get accurate information out of the federal bureaucracy that he worked virtually single-handedly for years to push the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) through Congress.
On July 4, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed it, expressing "a deep sense of pride that the United States is an open society in which the people's right to know is cherished and guarded." As Bill Moyers, Johnson's press secretary, later reported, "well, yes, but what few people knew at the time is that LBJ had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the signing ceremony. He hated the very idea of the Freedom of Information Act; hated the thought of journalists rummaging in government closets; hated them challenging the official view of reality. He dug in his heels and even threatened to pocket veto the bill after it reached the White House. Only the courage and political skill of a Congressman named John Moss got the bill passed at all, and that was after a twelve-year battle against his elders in Congress who blinked every time the sun shined in the dark corridors of power."
From the start the FOIA exempted from requests for disclosure the federal courts, the Congress (a big mistake), and parts of the Executive Office of the President that function solely to advise and assist the president. It also excluded all classified documents and nine types of information - including national security information, confidential business information, matters of personal privacy, deliberations and decisions of federal financial institutions, geological information (concerning mining and oil rights), and certain law enforcement records. The new law did not work very well. Many agencies simply failed to respond to FOIA requests and others dragged their bureaucratic feet interminably. In 1974, in the wake of revelations that President Nixon had illegally used the CIA, the FBI, and the military to spy on the American people, Congress strengthened the act considerably. Nixon had even ordered his secret gang of personal thugs-"the plumbers"-to break into the office of the psychiatrist of former Defense Department official Daniel Ellsberg seeking material with which the White House could blackmail him.
In an attempt to force the executive branch to comply with the law, the 1974 reforms required agencies to organize their archives in a standard manner and hold them available for public scrutiny regardless of whether or not a citizen ever asked. This ended the common practice of agencies claiming that they could not provide information requested because their archives were not adequately organized to do so. Donald Rumsfeld, then President Gerald Ford's chief of staff, and Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld's deputy, urged him to veto the act as "unworkable and unconstitutional." Ford did as he was told, but Congress promptly overrode the veto.
These amendments led to a great deal of litigation in court, making the FOIA a far more formidable oversight instrument. In June 1995, while in Tokyo, I had a conversation about the FOIA with former vice president Walter Mondale, then ambassador to Japan. As a senator, he had been deeply involved in the new law's passage. The law, he assured me, would never have worked without the power of an applicant to go to court and force the government to comply. For example, virtually all the information now publicly available on prisoner abuse, torture, and other criminal acts by military men and women and CIA operatives at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Air Base, and elsewhere came via FOIA requests, first denied by government agencies and only fulfilled as a result of a court order.
The FOIA now depends almost totally on the courts for its viability, as Bush administration officials have done their best to envelop the act in a new web of secrecy and nondisclosure. The San Francisco Chronicle's Ruth Rosen, in one of her columns, caught the crucial moment when this occurred, itself obscured by official secrecy, "The president didn't ask the networks for television time. The attorney general didn't hold a press conference. The media didn't report any dramatic change in governmental policy. As a result, most Americans had no idea that one of their most precious freedoms disappeared on October 12 [2001J." On that day Attorney General John Ashcroft sent a memo to all federal agencies urging them to bring every excuse they could think of to bear in turning down Freedom of Information requests. He offered agency heads backing on this stance: "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of justice will defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis." In marked contrast, his predecessor, Janet Reno, had advised all departments and agencies that they should honor FOIA requests so long as doing so caused "no foreseeable harm."
The Bush administration subverted the FOIA in ways large and small. For instance, charges were raised to excessive levels for fulfilling FOIA requests even though the law stipulates that service fees should be minimal. In January 2005, the Justice Department typically informed People for the American Way, a watchdog organization critical of the government's record on civil rights and other issues, that it would be charged $372,999 for a search of the department's files and disclosure of 1,200 cases in which court proceedings against immigrants arrested and confined after 9/11 were conducted in secret. 11 Needless to say, small grassroots organizations cannot afford such expenses.
Three weeks after Ashcroft tried to shut down FOIA, President Bush made a tone-setting decision when it came to closing off the people's right to know……It required that such records be transferred to the Archivist of the United States, who was ordered to open them to the public after no more than twelve years. The intent of the law was to lessen abuses of power under the veil of secrecy, or at least to disclose them in history books.
On November 1, 2001, just as a small portion of the Reagan administration's presidential papers was about to be opened to the public, President Bush issued Executive Order 13233 countermanding the Presidential Records Act. 12 It gave him (as well as former presidents) the right to veto requests to see his presidential records. Even if a former president wants his records released-as is the case with Bill Clinton-the order states that access will be granted only at the discretion of the sitting president in consultation with the former president, if still living. It has been widely speculated that Bush's intent was to protect his father, a former director of the CIA and Reagan's vice president, from being implicated in the crimes committed during the Iran-Contra affair by Reagan administration officials. Throughout the Iran-Contra investigation, George H. W. Bush argued that he had been "out of the loop" and therefore not involved in the complex illegal fund-raising for and support of the Nicaraguan Contras, who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government. Reagan's records might have revealed just how far out of the loop he actually was.
As Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, observes, "The Presidential Records Act was designed to shift power over presidential records to the government and ultimately to the citizens. This [Executive Order] shifts the power back." Historian Richard Reeves, author of President Nixon: Alone in the White House and President Kennedy: Profile of Power, comments, "Post-Nixon, presidential papers were no longer personal property. They belonged to the American people. So, now we live in a new historical reality." The American Historical Association contends that Executive Order 13233 not only violated the 1978 act but functionally canceled the law by executive fiat and so "potentially threatens to undermine one of the very foundations of our nation." We still await a Supreme Court decision on whether the president can, through an executive order, or what is called a "signing statement," suspend or modify a law passed by Congress. So far, Bush has gotten away with it many times, and his two 2006 appointees to the court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, are both believers in the "theory" of "unitary executive power."
….As federal appellate judge Damon Keith wrote in his 2003 ruling against the Bush policy of the hundreds of deportation hearings in secret, “Democracies die behind closed doors .... A government operating in the shadow of secrecy stands in complete opposition to the society envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. When government begins closing doors, it selectively controls information rightfully belonging to the people. Selective information is misinformation?”….. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.243-9)
…..Similarly, in March 2005, former president George H. W. Bush, who headed the CIA from 1975 to 1977, sputtered at a conference on counter-intelligence: “It burns me up to see the agency under fire.” He was even more incensed that Congress had “unleashed a bunch of untutored little jerks” to investigate the CIA’s involvement in domestic spying, assassinations, and other illegal activities and subsequently passed laws to prevent their recurrence. Those “untutored little jerks” were members of the Senate Select Committeee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church, Democrat from Idaho, which issued its final report in 1976.
In January 2002, in an interview with ABC News, Cheney argued, “In thirty-four years, I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job. One of the things that I feel an obligation on - and I know the president does too - is to pass on our offices in better shape than we found them.”…… "The vice president,” noted Republican senator John E. Sununu, “may be the only person I know of who believes the executive has somehow lost power over the last thirty years.”
In pursuit of yet more power, Bush and Cheney have unilaterally authorized preventive war against nations they designate as needing "regime change' directed American soldiers to torture persons seized and imprisoned in various countries, ordered the National Security Agency to carry out illegal "data mining" surveillance of the American people, and done everything they could to prevent Congress from outlawing "cruel, inhumane, or degrading" treatment of people detained by the United States (acts that were, in any case, already illegal under both U.S. law and international agreements the United States had long ago signed and ratified). They have done these things in accordance with something they call the "unitary executive theory of the presidency."
This "theory" is, in fact, simply a bald-faced assertion of presidential supremacy in all matters relating to foreign affairs dressed up in legalistic mumbo jumbo…..
[A lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel John] Yoo and company have concocted something that looks very much like the Chinese Communists' "Two Whatevers." These were the basic principles that prevailed during the years when the cult of Mao Zedong was ascendant: "We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao makes; and we will unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gives." Substitute Bush for Mao and you get the idea. Time magazine contends that, according to the White House and the Justice Department, "The Commander in Chief's pursuit of national security Tot be constrained by any laws passed by Congress, even when he is acting against U.S. citizens." Bruce Schneier, author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, sees an even more ominous development: "The president can define war however he chooses, and remain at war' for as long as he chooses. This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law." The implications for the constitutional separation of powers are thus grave, particularly since the unitary executive theory flies in the face of the Constitution itself. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.250-2)
...Supreme Court Justices Felix Frankfurter and Hugo Black in 1952, "The power to execute the laws starts and ends with the laws Congress has enacted.".... ...the 1952 case Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer.
Concurring in the judgement and the opinion of the court, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote, "[T]he Constitution did not contemplate that the title Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy will constitute [the president] also Commander-in-Chief of the country, its industries, and its inhabitants. He has no monopoly of 'war powers whatever they are. His command power is not such an absolute as might be implied from that office in a militaristic system but is subject to limitations consistent with a constitutional Republic whose law and policy-making branch is a representative Congress. The purpose of lodging dual titles in one man was to insure that the civilian would control the military, not to enable the military to subordinate the presidential office. No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government of holding that a president can escape control of executive powers by law through assuming his military role." In the Youngstown case, both Justice Robert Jackson and frankfurter, in their concurring opinions, quoted Justice Louis Brandeis's dissent in the 1926 case Myers v. United States: "The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was, not to avoid friction, but by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy." (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.252-3) As its title indicates, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the FBI and the NSA to listen in on American citizens in order to collect intelligence, and it set up a secret court to issue warrants based on requests from the intelligence community. From its inception in 1979 through 2004, the FISA court issued 18,742 secret warrants while denying only four government requests. The court was originally made up of seven federal judges appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court; the USA Patriot Act of 2001 expanded that number to eleven. The judges’ identities are secret. They meet in total privacy behind a cipher-locked door in a windowless, bugproof, vaultlike room guarded twenty-four hours a day on the top floor of the Justice Department’s building in Washington, D.C. Everything they do is “top secret.”
The judges hear only the government’s side. The court makes annual reports to Congress, normally just two paragraphs long, that give only the total number of warrants it has approved. Beyond that, there is no congressional oversight of the court’s activities whatsoever. The law even allows emergency taps and searches for which a warrant can be issued retroactively if the government notifies the court within seventy-two hours. Compared with ordinary wiretaps, for which the government must provide a federal district court judge with evidence of ‘probable cause’ that the person or persons under investigation are likely to commit a crime, the FISA process is weighted toward the government, not the citizen, and not surprisingly the secret court had authorized more warrants than all federal district judges combined. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.2254-5)
On November 14, 2002, the New York Times’ conservative columnist William Safire outlined the kind of data TIA sought: “Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend – all these transactions and communications will go into what the Department of Defense describes as a ‘virtual centralized grand database.’ “ Add to that all government information – passport applications, drivers’ licenses, judicial and divorce records, IRS files, complaints by nosy neighbors, plus the latest hidden camera surveillance – and one that has the perfect American computer version of Gestapo or KBG files.
There is growing evidence that in 2003 the TIA project was stopped in name only. The National Security Agency continued snooping and collecting data as before, while the analytical work was transferred to a new, totally secret agency inside the Pentagon known as the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA). Its original specialty was illegally watching, photographing and harassing peaceful public protests outside foreign and domestic military bases…. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.256-7) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on Lisa Rein’s radar Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on Sumervell County Salon
One further way in which President Bush has shown his contempt for the Constitution is his use of what are called "signing statements." During the first six years of his presidency, Bush did not exercise his constitutionally authorized veto over a single piece of legislation passed by Congress, but in his first term alone, he issued 505 extraconstitutional challenges to various provisions of legislation that had been enacted by Congress. Through "interpretive" statements issued at the time he signs them, the president disagrees with one or more provisions contained in the legislation and therefore reserves the right not to implement them. According to David Golove, a New York University law professor, "The signing statement is saying 'I will only comply with this law when I want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going to stop me."
Many of these statements amount to illegal line-item vetoes. They often have the effect of nullifying legislation that has been passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president. In 1998, in Clinton v. New York, the Supreme Court held that a line-item veto is unconstitutional because it violates "the Constitution's Presentment Clause. That Clause says that after a bill has passed both houses, but 'before it becomes a law,' it must be presented to the president, who 'shall sign it' if he approves, but 'return it'-that is, veto the bill, in its entirety-if he does not."', Bush's signing statements eliminate the possibility of the Congress overriding his veto since they take effect (whatever that might mean) after the bill has already become law, and they violate the first sentence of the Constitution's first article: "All legislative powers herein granted" belong to Congress. As the framers carefully explained, this means only the "Senate and House of Representatives"-not the president in the act of signing a bill into law.
….Elisa Massimino, the Washington director of Human Rights First, commented that “[t]he basic civics lesson that there are three coequal branches of government that provide checks and balances on each other is being fundamentally rejected by the executive branch.”
It is not clear how this muddled situation will ultimately be resolved, but its immediate costs are high. A former army interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison writes, “Those who serve in the prisons of Iraq deserve to know clearly the difference between legal and illegal orders. Soldiers on the ground need a commander in chief who does not seek strained legalisms that ‘permit’ the use of torture….No slope is more slippery, I learned in Iraq, than the one that leads to torture.” As of mid-2006, none of President Bush’s signing statements have been tested in court.
Moreover, it is not just the executive branch that has been tearing at the fabric of the Constitution. Through its partisanship, complacency, and corruption, Congress has done much to ensure that the crisis of the American republic will be fatal to democratic government. As constitutional specialist Noah Feldman writes, "For the last four years, a republican Congress has done almost nothing to rein in the expansion of presidential power. This abdication of responsibility has been even more remarkable than the president's assumption of new powers." Al Gore, who served eight years in the House, eight years in the Senate, and presided over the Senate for eight years as vice president, observes, "The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the executive branch to attain a massive expansion of power .... Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption .... It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch that primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach of the executive branch, which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system."
I happen to be a registered voter in the Fiftieth Congressional district of California in northern San Diago county, where, in early 2006, our republican representative for the previous fourteen years, randy “Duke” Cunningham, received a the longest sentence to a federal prison-eight years and four months-ever imposed on a member of Congress. Cunningham, a decorated Vietnam war pilot, confessed to pocketing $2.4 million the largest bribe ever paid to a member of Congress. He had used his official positions on the Appropriations and Intelligence committees to see that contracts worth millions of dollars went to the defense manufacturers who had paid him off, and he did this primarily by adding classified earmarks to the Defense Appropriations bills and pressuring the Pentagon officials to buy things they had made clear they did not want. The term “earmarks” is congressional jargon for spending by a lone representative, who surreptitiously tacks expenditures onto a larger appropriations bill that the House then passes without further scrutiny.
Well before the bribery charges were filed, I described Cunningham in the press as totally bought and paid for by the military-industrial complex. However, I did so on the basis of published campaign contributions. It did not occur to me, that in selling his vote to munitions makers, as so many other members of Congress have done-including Cunningham’s friend, neighbor in California’s Fifty-second District, and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, republican representative Duncan Hunter-he was so stupid as to have actually accepted material bribes for his corrupt acts. If a member of Congress can claim there was no quid quo involved in accepting money from strangers, it is technically legal. Most members who want to line their pockets are content to wait and do so as lobbyists after retiring or being defeated. According to the center for Responsive Politics, Hunter and Cunningham rank second and third among members of Congress (first is Pennsylvania Democratic representative John P. Murtha) in terms of the total amount of money they have received from the defense industry. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.258-60)
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited in Truth out
Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited at History Commons Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also partially cited by Melinda Lee It is important to stress that the distinction in Congress between a bribe and a legal donation is a bit of sophistry intended to conceal the routine corruption of our elected representatives. As Bill Moyers has put it, "If [in baseball] a player sliding into home plate reached into his pocket') and handed the umpire $1000 before he made the call, what would we call that? A bribe. And if a lawyer handed a judge $1000 before he issued a ruling, what do we call that? A bribe. But when a lobbyist or CEO [chief executive officer of a corporation sidles up to a member of Congress at a fund-raiser or in a skybox and hands him a check for $1000, what do we call that? A campaign contribution."
Typical of the Delay-Abramoff operations was their lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. After World War II, these specks of land in the Pacific 5,625 miles west of Sanfransisco – the largest of which is the island of Saipan – became a United Nations trust territory, administered by the United States Department of the Interior. Under a scheme to make Saipan a sweatshop, the Interior Department exempted the islands from US labor and immigration laws. There is no minimum wage on Saipan. Tens of thousands of Chinese women live in dormitories with no basic political rights; they are prohibited from marrying and paid almost nothing. They work producing clothes with ‘Made in the USA’ labels for companies like Levi Strauss & Co., the Gap, Eddie Bauer, Reebok, Polo, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, and Liz Claiborne, which are then shipped duty-free to the United States….
The mainstream press regularly refers to members of Congress as ‘lawmakers,’ but the phrase bears little relationship to what they actually do….
Spinney explained that a main lobbying strategy of the military-industrial complex is to emphasize to members of Congress how many jobs are dependent on a particular contract being approved, rather than the usefulness of feasibility of a weapon. Lobbyists’ letters and presentations to members of Congress always include maps showing precisely the communities that will be enriched by Pentagon spending and the funds they will receive.... (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.260-70)
It is possible that, at some future moment, the U.S. military could actually take over the government and declare a dictatorship (though its commanders would undoubtedly find a gentler, more user-friendly name for it). That is, after all, how the Roman republic ended....
The likelihood is that the United States will maintain a façade of constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it. Of course, bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the United States any more than it did for Germany in 1923, China in 1948, or Argentina in 2001-2. It might, in fact, open the way for an unexpected restoration of the American system, or for military rule, or simply for some new development we cannot yet imagine. Certainly, such a bankruptcy would mean a drastic lowering of our standard of living, a loss of control over international affairs, a process of adjusting to the rise of other powers, including China and India, and a further' discrediting of the notion that the United States is somehow exceptional compared to other nations. We will have to learn what it means to be a far poorer nation and the attitudes and manners that go with it. As Anatol Lieven, author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, concludes, "U.S. global power, as presently conceived by the overwhelming majority of the U.S. establishment, is unsustainable .... The empire can no longer raise enough taxes or soldiers, it is increasingly indebted, and key vassal states are no longer reliable .... The result is that the empire can no longer pay for enough of the professional troops it needs to fulfill its self-assumed imperial tasks."
In February 2006, the Bush administration submitted to Congress a $439 billion defense appropriation budget for fiscal year 2007. As the country enters 2007, the administration is about to present a nearly $100 billion supplementary request to Congress just for the Iraq and Afghan wars. At the same time, the deficit in the country's current account -- the imbalance in the trading of goods and services as well as the shortfall in all other cross-border payments from interest income and rents to dividends and profits on direct investments -- underwent its fastest ever quarterly deterioration. For 2005, the current account deficit was $805 billion, 6.4% of national income. In 2005, the U.S. trade deficit, the largest component of the current account deficit, soared to an all-time high of $725.8 billion, the fourth consecutive year that America's trade debts set records. The trade deficit with China alone rose to $201.6 billion, the highest imbalance ever recorded with any country. Meanwhile, since mid-2000, the country has lost nearly three million manufacturing jobs. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.269-70) Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” also cited on religion on line.
To try to cope with these imbalances, on March 16, 2006, Congress raised the national debt limit from $8.2 trillion to $8.96 trillion. This was the fourth time since George W. Bush took office that it had to be raised. The national debt is the total amount owed by the government and should not be confused with the federal budget deficit, the annual amount by which federal spending exceeds revenue. Had Congress not raised the debt limit, the U.S. government would not have been able to borrow more money and would have had to default on its massive debts.
Among the creditors that finance these unprecedented sums, the two largest are the central banks of China (with $853.7 billion in reserves) and Japan (with $831.58 billion in reserves), both of which are the managers of the huge trade surpluses these countries enjoy with the United States. This helps explain why our debt burden has not yet triggered what standard economic theory would dictate: a steep decline in the value of the U.S. dollar followed by a severe contraction of the American economy when we found we could no longer afford the foreign goods we like so much. However, both the Chinese and Japanese governments continue to be willing to be paid in dollars in order to sustain American purchases of their exports. For the sake of their own domestic employment, both countries lend huge amounts to the American treasury, but there is no guarantee of how long they will want to, or be able to do so.
According to Marshall Akerback, an international financial strategist, “Today, the U.S. economy is being kept afloat by enormous levels of foreign lending, which allow American consumers to continue to buy more imports, which only increases the bloated trade deficits.” We have become, in Auerback’s terms a “Blanche Dubois economy” (named after the leading character in the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire) heavily dependent on "the kindness of strangers." Unfortunately, in our case, as in Blanche's, there are ever fewer strangers willing to support our illusions.
Even a severe reduction in our numerous deficits (trade, governmental, current account, household, and savings) would still not be enough to save the republic, because of the unacknowledged nature of our economy- specifically our dependence on military spending and war for our wealth and well being. Ever since we recovered from the Great Depression of the 1930s via massive governmental spending on armaments during World War II, we have become dependent on "military Keynesianism', artificially boosting the growth rate of the economy via government spending on armies and weapons.
"Keynesianism" is named for the English economist John Maynard Keynes, author of The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, published in 1936, and other influential books. In his writings and his public career, Keynes developed a scheme to save capitalist economies from cycles of boom and bust as well as the severe decline of consumer spending that occurs in periods of depression. He was less interested in what causes these cycles or in whether capitalism itself promotes underemployment and unemployment, than in what to do when an inequitable distribution of income causes people to be unable to buy what their economy produces. To prevent the economy from contracting, a development likely to be followed by social unrest, Keynes thought that the government should step in and, through deficit spending, put people back to work, even if this meant creating jobs artificially. Some of these jobs might be socially useful, but Keynes also favored make-work tasks if that proved necessary, simply to put money in the pockets of potential consumers. Conversely, during periods of prosperity, he thought government should cut spending and rebuild the treasury. He called his plan countercyclical "pump-priming."
During the New Deal in the 1930s, the United States tried to put Keynesianism into practice. Through various schemes the government attempted to restore morale-if not full employment. These included "social security" to provide incomes for retired people; giving unions the right to strike (the Wagner Act); setting minimum wages and hours and prohibiting child labor; creating jobs for writers, artists, and creative people generally (the Works Projects Administration); financing the building of dams, roads, schools, and hospitals across the country, including the Triborough Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel in New York City, the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington, and the Key West Highway in Florida (the Public Works Administration); organizing projects for young people in agriculture and forestry (the Civilian Conservation Corps); and setting up the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide flood control and electric power generation in a seven-state area.
The New Deal also saw the rudimentary beginnings of a backlash against Keynesianism. Conservative capitalists feared, as the German political scientist and sociologist Jurgen Habermas has noted, that too much government intervention would delegitimate and demystify capitalism as an economic system that works by allegedly quasi-natural laws. More seriously, too much spending on social welfare might, they feared, shift the balance of power in society from the capitalist class to the working class and its unions. For these reasons, establishment figures tried to hold back countercyclical spending until World War II unleashed a torrent of public funds for weapons.
In 1943, the Polish economist in exile Michal Kalecki coined the term "military Keynesianism" to explain Nazi Germany's success in overcoming the Great Depression and achieving full employment. Adolf Hitler did not undertake German rearmament for purely economic reasons; he wanted to build a powerful German military. The fact that he advocated governmental support for arms production made him acceptable to many German industrialists, who increasingly supported his regime. For several years before Hitler's aggressive intentions became clear, he was celebrated around the world for having achieved a "German economic miracle."
Speaking theoretically, Kalecki understood that government spending on arms increases manufacturing and also has a multiplier effect on general consumer spending by raising workers' incomes. Both of these points are in accordance with general Keynesian doctrine. In addition, the enlargement of standing armies absorbs many workers, often young males with few skills and less education. The military thus becomes an employer of last resort, like the old Civilian Conservation Corps, but on a much larger scale. Increased spending on military research and the development of weapons systems also generates new infrastructure and advanced technologies. Well-known examples include the jet engine, radar, nuclear power, semiconductors, and the Internet, each of which began as a military project that later formed the basis for major civilian industries. By 1962-63, military outlays accounted for some percent of all expenditures on research and development in the United States. As the international relations theorist Ronald Steel puts it, "Despite whatever theories strategists may spin, the defense budget is now, to a large degree, a jobs program. It is also a cash cow that provides billions of dollars for corporations, lobbyists, and special interest groups."
The negative aspects of military Keynesianism include its encouragement of militarism and the potential to create a military-industrial complex. Because such a complex becomes both directly and indirectly an employer and generator of employment, it comes to constitute a growing proportion of aggregate demand. Sooner or later, it short-circuits Keynes's insistence that government spending be cut back in times of nearly full employment. In other words, it becomes a permanent institution whose "pump" must always be primed. Governments invariably find it politically hard to reduce military spending once committed to it, particularly when munitions makers distribute their benefits as widely as possible and enlist the support of as many politicians as possible, as they have in the United States. In short, military Keynesianism leads to constant wars, or a huge waste of resources on socially worthless products, or both.
By the mid-1940s, everyone in the United States appreciated that the war boom had finally brought the Great Depression to an end, but it was never understood in Keynesian terms. It was a war economy. State expenditures on arms in 1944 reached 38 percent of gross domestic product (the sum total of all goods and services produced in an economy) or GDP, which seemed only appropriate given the nation's commitment to a twofront war. There was, however, a profound fear among political and economic elites as well as the American public that the end of the war despite all the promises of future peacetime wonders like TVs, cars, and washing machines-would mean a return to economic hard times. Such reasoning lay, in part, behind the extraordinary expansion of arms manufacturing that began in 1947. The United States decided to "contain" the USSR and, in the early 1950s, to move from the production and use of atomic bombs to the building and stockpiling of the much larger and more destructive hydrogen bombs.
Between the 1940s and 1996, the United States spent at least $5.8 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of nuclear weapons alone. By 1967, the peak year of its nuclear stockpile, the United States possessed some 32,500 deliverable bombs, none of which, thankfully, was ever used. But they perfectly illustrate Keynes's proposal that, in order to create jobs, the government might as well decide to bury money in old mines and then pay unemployed workers to dig it up. Nuclear bombs were not just America's secret weapon but also a secret economic weapon. As of 2006, we still have 9,960 of them.
The Cold War contributed greatly to the country's sustained economic growth that began in 1947 and lasted until the 1973 oil crisis. Military spending was around 16 percent of GDP in the United States during the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Vietnam War sustained it at around 9 percent, but in the 1970s, strong economic competition from the free riders, Japan and Germany, forced a significant decline in military spending with a consequent U.S. decline into "stagflation" (a combination of stagnation and inflation).
The American response was a classic example of military Keynesianism-namely, Reaganomics. In the 1980s, President Reagan carried out a policy of large tax cuts combined with massive increases in defense spending allegedly to combat a new threat from communism. It turned out that there was no threat, only a campaign of fear-mongering from the White House bolstered by the CIA, which consistently overstated the size and growth of the Soviet armed forces during this period. The USSR was in fact starting to come apart internally because of serious economic imbalances and the deep contradictions of Stalinism….
To understand the real weight of military Keynesianism in the American economy, one must approach official defense statistics with great care. They are compiled and published in such a way as to minimize the actual size of the official "defense budget." The Pentagon does this to try to conceal from the public the real costs of the military establishment and its overall weight within the economy. There are numerous military activities not carried out by the Department of Defense and that are therefore not part of the Pentagon's annual budgets. These include the Department of Energy's spending on nuclear weapons ($16.4 billion in fiscal 2005), the Department of Homeland Security's outlays for the actual "defense" of the United States against terrorism ($41 billion), the Department of Veterans Affairs' responsibilities for the lifetime care of the seriously wounded ($68 billion), the Treasury Department's payments of pensions to military retirees and widows and their families (an amount not fully disclosed by official statistics), and the Department of State's financing of foreign arms sales and militarily related developmental assistance ($23 billion).
In addition to these amounts, there is something called the "Military Construction Appropriations Bill' which is tiny compared to the other expenditures-$ 12.2 billion for fiscal 2005-but which covers all the military bases around the world. Adding these non-Department of Defense expenditures, the supplemental appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military construction budget to the Defense Appropriations Bill actually doubles what the administration calls the annual defense budget. It is an amount larger than all other defense budgets on Earth combined." Still to be added to this are interest payments by the Treasury to cover past debt-financed defense outlays going back to 1916. Robert Higgs, author of Crisis and Leviathan and many other books on American militarism, estimates that in 2002 such interest payments amounted to $138.7 billion…..
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, and his colleague at Harvard Linda Bilmes have tried to put together an estimate of the real costs of the Iraq war. They calculate that it will cost about $2 trillion. This figure is several orders of magnitude larger than what the Bush administration publicly acknowledges. Above all, Stiglitz and Bilmes have tried to compile honest figures for veterans' benefits. For 2006, the officially budgeted amount is $68 billion, which is absurdly low given the large number of our soldiers who have been severely wounded…..
In Blowback, I set out to explain why we are hated around the world.The concept "blowback" does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. This means that when the retaliation comes -- as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 -- the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia -- the area of my academic training -- than on the Middle East.
The Sorrows of Empire was written during the American preparations for and launching of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. I began to study our continuous military buildup since World War II and the 737 military bases we currently maintain in other people's countries. This empire of bases is the concrete manifestation of our global hegemony, and many of the blowback-inducing wars we have conducted had as their true purpose the sustaining and expanding of this network. We do not think of these overseas deployments as a form of empire; in fact, most Americans do not give them any thought at all until something truly shocking, such as the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, brings them to our attention. But the people living next door to these bases and dealing with the swaggering soldiers who brawl and sometimes rape their women certainly think of them as imperial enclaves, just as the peoples of ancient Iberia or nineteenth-century India knew that they were victims of foreign colonization.
In Nemesis, I have tried to present historical, political, economic, and philosophical evidence of where our current behavior is likely to lead. Specifically, I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and in the end produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent. The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government -- a republic -- that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play -- isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy. Nemesis stalks our life as a free nation…. (Chalmers Johnson “Nemesis” 2006 p.270-9)
You’re not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency by William John Cox