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Offline bigron

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OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« on: May 04, 2010, 06:27:00 am »
Middle East
May 5, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LE05Ak02.html 
 
OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1


The Pentagon's game plan


By Jack A Smith

There's more war in America's future - a great deal more, judging by the Barack Obama administration's reports, pronouncements and actions in recent months.

These documents and deeds include the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the nuclear security summit in New York and the May 3-28 United Nations nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, as well as the continuing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the 2011 Pentagon war budget request.

The United States government presides as a military colossus of unrivalled dimension, but the QDR, which was published in February, suggests Washington views America as being constantly under the threat of attack from a multitude of fearsome forces bent on its destruction. As such, trillions more dollars must be invested in present and future wars - ostensibly to make safe the besieged homeland.

The NPR says the long-range US goal is a "nuclear-free" world, but despite token reductions in its arsenal of such weapons, the Pentagon is strengthening its nuclear force and bolstering it with a devastating "conventional deterrent" intended to strike any target in the world within one hour. In addition this document, published in April, retains "hair-trigger" nuclear launch readiness, refuses to declare its nuclear force is for deterrence only (suggesting offensive use) and for the first time authorizes a nuclear attack, if necessary, on a non-nuclear state (Iran).

Meanwhile, Obama is vigorously expanding the George W Bush administration's wars, and enhancing and deploying America's unparalleled military power.

The Obama administration's one positive achievement in terms of militarism and war was the April 9 signing in Prague of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia that reduces deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads each. It was a step forward, but all agree it was extremely modest, and it does not even faintly diminish the danger of nuclear war.

The QDR is a 128-page Defense Department report mandated by congress to be compiled every four years to put forward a 20-year projection of US military planning. A 20-member civilian panel, selected by the Pentagon and congress, analyzes the document and suggests changes in order to provide an "independent" perspective. Eleven of the members, including the panel’s co-chairmen - former defense secretary William Perry and former national security adviser Stephen Hadley - are employed by the defense industry.

Although the Pentagon is working on preparations for a possible World War III and beyond, the new report is largely focused on the relatively near future and only generalizes about the longer term. Of the QDR's many priorities three stand out.


The first priority is to "prevail in today's wars" in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and wherever else Washington's post-9/11 military intrusions penetrate in coming years. Introducing the report February 1, Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued this significant statement: "Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress." The "wars to come" were not identified. Further, the QDR states that military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is "only the first step toward achieving our strategic objectives".

Second, while in the past the US concentrated on the ability to fight two big wars simultaneously, the QDR suggests that's not enough. Now, the Obama administration posits the "need for a robust force capable of protecting US interests against a multiplicity of threats, including two capable nation-state aggressors."

Now it's two-plus wars - the plus being the obligation to "conduct large-scale counter-insurgency, stability and counter-terrorism operations in a wide range of environments", mainly in small, poor countries like Afghanistan. Other "plus" targets include "non-state actors" such as al-Qaeda, "failed states" such as Somali, and medium-size but well-defended states that do not bend the knee to Uncle Sam, such as Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and some day perhaps Venezuela.

Third, it's fairly obvious from the QDR, though not acknowledged, that the Obama government believes China and Russia are the two possible "nation-state aggressors" against which Washington must prepare to "defend" itself. Neither Beijing nor Moscow has taken any action to justify the Pentagon's assumption that they will ever be suicidal enough to attack the far more powerful United States.

After all, the US, with 4.54% of the world's population, invests more on war and war preparations than the rest of the world combined. Obama's 2010 Pentagon budget is US$680 billion, but the real total is double that when all Washington's national security expenditures in other departmental budgets are also included, such as the cost of nuclear weapons, the 16 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security and interest on war debts, among other programs.

Annual war-related expenditures are well over $1 trillion. In calling for a discretionary freeze on government programs in January's state of the union address, Obama specifically exempted Pentagon/national security expenditures from the freeze. Obama is a big war spender. His $708 billion Pentagon allotment for fiscal 2011 (not counting a pending $33 billion Congress will approve for the Afghan "surge") exceeds Bush's highest budget of $651 billion for fiscal 2009.

At present, US military power permeates the entire world. As the QDR notes: "The United States is a global power with global responsibilities. Including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately 400,000 US military personnel are forward-stationed or rotationally deployed around the world."

The Pentagon presides over 1,000 overseas military bases (including those in the war zones), great fleets in every ocean, a globe-spanning air force, military satellites in space and nuclear missiles on hair trigger alert pre-targeted on "enemy" or potential "enemy" cities and military facilities. A reading of the QDR shows none of this will change except for upgrading, enlarging (the Pentagon just added six new bases in Colombia) and adding new systems such as Prompt Global Strike, an important new offensive weapon system, which we shall discuss below.

The phrase "full spectrum military dominance" - an expression concocted by the neo-conservatives in the 1990s that was adopted by the Bush administration to define its aggressive military strategy - was cleverly not included in the 2010 QDR, but retaining and augmenting dominance remains the Pentagon's prime preoccupation.

The QDR is peppered with expressions such as "America’s interests and role in the world require armed forces with unmatched capabilities" and calls for "the continued dominance of America’s Armed Forces in large-scale force-on-force warfare". Gates went further in his February 1 press conference: "The United States needs a broad portfolio of military capabilities, with maximum versatility across the widest possible spectrum of conflicts." Obama bragged recently that he commanded "the finest military in the history of the world".

Evidently, the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief periods of peace while preparing for the next war. Given that the only entity expressing an interest in attacking the United States is al-Qaeda - a non-government paramilitary organization of extreme religious fanatics with about a thousand reliable active members around the world - it is obvious that America's unprecedented military might is actually intended for another purpose.

In our view that "other purpose" is geopolitical - to strengthen even further the Pentagon's military machine to assure that the United States retains its position as the dominant global hegemon at a time of acute indebtedness, the severe erosion of its manufacturing base, near gridlock in domestic politics, and the swift rise to global prominence of several other nations and blocs.

The QDR touches on this with admirable delicacy: "The distribution of global political, economic and military power is shifting and becoming more diffuse. The rise of China, the world’s most populous country, and India, the world’s largest democracy, will continue to reshape the international system. While the United States will remain the most powerful actor, it must increasingly cooperate with key allies and partners to build and sustain peace and security. Whether and how rising powers fully integrate into the global system will be among this century’s defining questions, and are thus central to America’s interests."

At the moment, the QDR indicates Washington is worried about foreign "anti-access" strategies that limit its "power projection capabilities" in various parts of the world. What this means is that certain countries such as China and Russia are developing sophisticated new weapons that match those of the US, thus "impeding" the deployment of American forces to wherever the Pentagon desires. For instance:
China is developing and fielding large numbers of advanced medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, new attack submarines equipped with advanced weapons, increasingly capable long-range air defense systems, electronic warfare and computer network attack capabilities, advanced fighter aircraft and counter-space systems. China has shared only limited information about the pace, scope and ultimate aims of its military modernization programs, raising a number of legitimate questions regarding its long-term intentions.
To counter this trend in China and elsewhere, the Pentagon is planning, at a huge and unannounced cost, the following enhancements: "Expand future long-range strike capabilities; Exploit advantages in subsurface operations; Increase the resiliency of US forward posture and base infrastructure; Assure access to space and the use of space assets; Enhance the robustness of key ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capabilities; Defeat enemy sensors and engagement systems; and Enhance the presence and responsiveness of US forces abroad."

In addition, the US not only targets China with nuclear missiles and bombs, it is surrounding the country (and Russia as well, of course) with anti-ballistic missiles. The purpose is plain: In case the US finds it "necessary" to launch ballistic missiles toward China, the ABMs will be able to destroy its limited retaliatory capacity.

According to an article in the February 22 issue of China Daily, the country's English-language newspaper: "Washington appears determined to surround China with US-built anti-missile systems, military scholars have observed ... Air force colonel Dai Xu, a renowned military strategist, wrote in an article released this month that 'China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan'."

Compared to the Bush administration's 2006 QDR, there has been a conscious effort to tone down the anti-China rhetoric in the current document. But it is entirely clear that China is number one in the QDR's references to "potentially hostile nation states".

According to the February 18 Defense News, a publication that serves the military-industrial complex, "Analysts say the QDR attempts to address the threat posed by China without further enraging Beijing. 'If you look at the list of further enhancements to US forces and capabilities ... those are primarily capabilities needed for defeating China, not Iran, North Korea or Hezbollah,' said Roger Cliff, a China military specialist at Rand. 'So even though not a lot of time is spent naming China ... analysis of the China threat is nonetheless driving a lot of the modernization programs described in the QDR'."

Incidentally, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, this year's Chinese defense budget, for a country four times larger than the United States, is $78 billion, compared to the $664 billion for the Pentagon (without all the national security extras harbored in other department budgets). China possesses 100-200 nuclear warheads compared to America's 9,326 (when both deployed and stored weapons are included). China is contemplating the construction of an aircraft carrier; the US Navy floats 11 of them. China has no military bases abroad.

In our view, China appears to be constructing weapons for defense, not offense against the US - and its foreign policy is based on refusing to be pushed around by Washington while doing everything possible to avoid a serious confrontation.

Russia as well is treated better in the new QDR than in 2006, but it is included with China in most cases. Despite Moscow's huge nuclear deterrent and abundant oil and gas supplies, it's only "potential enemy" number two in terms of the big powers. Washington feels more threatened by Beijing. This is largely because of China's size, rapid development, fairly successful state-guided capitalist economy directed by the Communist Party, and the fact that it is on the road to becoming the world's economic leader, surpassing the US in 20 to 40 years.

It seems fairly obvious, but hardly mentioned publicly, that this is an extremely dangerous situation. China does not seek to dominate the world, nor will it allow itself to be dominated. Beijing supports the concept of a multipolar world order, with a number of countries and blocs playing roles. At issue, perhaps, is who will be first among equals.

Washington prefers the situation that has existed these 20 years after the implosion of the Soviet Union and much of the socialist world left the United States as the remaining military superpower and boss of the expanded capitalist bloc. During this time Washington has functioned as the unipolar world hegemon and doesn't want to relinquish the title.

This is all changing now as other countries rise, led by China, and the US appears to be in gradual decline. How the transition to multi-polarity is handled over the next couple of decades may determine whether or not a disastrous war will be avoided.

Next: America's nuclear posture

Jack A Smith is editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter in New York State and the former editor of the Guardian Newsweekly (US). He may be reached at [email protected]

(Copyright 2010 Jack A Smith.)
 
 
 

Offline Sheepleprod

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2010, 06:45:36 am »
What Robert Gates said in the below article that isn't mentioned is that the cost savings in spending less in Naval Infrastructure will be transferred to shoring up the Marines and Army so we arent cutting anything we are going to be transferring the "wealth" sounds like a pretext for a hearty ground invasion.


http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_gates_0504may04,0,5026706.story

OXON HILL, Md. — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates took on the Navy and its shipbuilders on Monday, warning that if they are unable to control ballooning costs, the size of the U.S. fleet may shrink even more.

With little hope of increased future funding for shipbuilding programs, Gates said the Navy must be more flexible and fiscally responsible and less concerned about its number of ships.

In a pointed speech about the future of the naval fleet, Gates questioned whether the Navy should continue spending billions of dollars on big-ticket platforms like ballistic-missile submarines and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

"At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 (billion) to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines and $11 billion (aircraft) carriers," Gates told a gathering of naval officers and contractors at a Navy League conference just outside of Washington, D.C.

"It is reasonable to wonder whether the nation is getting a commensurate increase in capability in exchange for these spiraling costs," he said.

While he did not say he was planning to cut any programs, Gates said vessel costs are simply unaffordable, especially in the context of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gates, who led a push for the Navy to slow aircraft carrier production to five-year intervals instead of four to reduce the U.S. carrier fleet to 10 ships from 11 after 2040, questioned Monday whether that cut was deep enough.

"Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?" he asked.

The Navy's projected costs to buy the next three carriers, which are built at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Newport News shipyard, have risen by $5.4 billion in the last two years, according to a Navy report. It will now cost the service more than $40 billion to build three flattops, due mostly to the slowed production cycle.

Gates also took aim at a new class of ballistic missile submarines that will replace the aging fleet of Ohio class boats.

The Navy plans to buy 12 of the new submarines between 2019 and 2033 at a cost of about $7 billion each in 2010 dollars. That would amount to roughly half of the Navy's annual shipbuilding budget.

Northrop is widely believed to play a part in building the ballistic subs, which in the past have been designed and built by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

Gates reprised a statement he made in a congressional hearing early this year, where he pointed out that "in the later part of this decade, the new ballistic missile submarine alone would begin to eat up the lion's share of the Navy's shipbuilding resources."

He said the Navy's most expensive equipment isn't of much use on the front lines of a new generation of threats.

"As we learned last year, you don't necessarily need a billion-dollar guided missile destroyer to chase down and deal with a bunch of teenage pirates wielding AK-47s," Gates said.

Offline bigron

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 07:43:59 am »
bump

Offline agentbluescreen

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 08:37:35 am »
Gee this World War III business is pretty sick eh?

Maybe it would be cheaper to just kill everyone and/or throw them in prisons. Then all you need are minimum wage prison guard sadists.

H0llyw00d

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 09:07:02 am »
Amazing how we're broke as we are, yet the military has all the funds it will ever need. Something's seriously wrong with this picture

Offline SpeakUpFightBack

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 01:24:20 pm »
Amazing how we're broke as we are, yet the military has all the funds it will ever need. Something's seriously wrong with this picture

I suggest the 2010 election slogan should be:

"It's the illegal drugs stupid!"
"To revolt is a natural tendency of life. Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes it. In general, the vitality and relative dignity of an animal can be measured by the intensity of its instinct to revolt." - Mikhail Bakunin

Offline bigron

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Re: OBAMA'S WAR MACHINE, Part 1 - The Pentagon's game plan
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2010, 01:52:57 pm »
Terrorism — Cause and Effect

by Jack A. Smith, May 29, 2010
http://original.antiwar.com/jack-a-smith/2010/05/28/terrorism-cause-and-effect/

"Terrorists" and "terrorism" have become Washington’s monomania since 9/11, guiding the foreign/military policies of the American superstate and holding its population in thrall. 

“The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term,” President Barack Obama said April 11, is the possibility that terrorists might obtain a nuclear weapon. The second biggest threat to world history’s mightiest military state, it goes without saying, are terrorists without nuclear weapons but armed with box-cutters, rifles or homemade explosives. 

It’s "terrorism" 24/7 in the United States — the product of a conscious effort by the Bush Administration to keep the American people in the constant clutches of existential fear, in large part to justify launching endless aggressive wars. Anything goes if the target is said to be "terrorism," as long as the Pentagon’s violence takes place in smaller, weaker countries usually populated by non-Europeans. 

But does the U.S. government really want to defeat terrorism? This is a serious question. All its major efforts so far have been focused on the effects of terrorism but not on its much more profound causes. In this article we shall discuss the causes, particularly the actions of the U.S. in the Middle East over the decades which contributed significantly to the rise of terror as a weapon. 

After almost a decade, the Bush Administration’s "War on Terrorism" — at a cost of trillions of dollars, the erosion of a substantial portion of America’s civil liberties and its worldwide reputation, and the deaths of over a million foreign civilians — has not succeeded in its stated objectives. 

And yet, judging by the Obama Administration’s 2011 war budget request, the recently released Quadrennial Defense Report and the Nuclear Posture report, and the widening of the wars, it is clear that President Barack Obama has no intention of deviating significantly from President George W. Bush’s unjust and failed policies. 

President Obama’s troop buildup, implied nuclear threats against Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and his order to the CIA to assassinate an American citizen without a trial are but some of the most recent examples. 

All that’s really changed in national security strategy from one administration to the other is the name of Bush’s "War on Terrorism." The Obama Administration renamed it, in an excess of bureaucratese, an "Overseas Contingency Operation," transforming its title to suggest it was a mere budget item. Not so mere, actually, since the Pentagon’s annual war budget has risen 67% since 9/11. 

American national security policy since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center nearly nine years ago has been aimed primarily at defeating a small number of ill-equipped non-state "terrorist" enemies by fielding a large professional army with advanced technology first to Afghanistan, then Iraq and now back to the Afghan theater with tributaries extending into Pakistan, Yemen and to a lesser extent Somalia and the Philippines. 

Fewer than 100 al-Qaeda operatives are in Afghanistan against about 94,000 U.S. troops, so far, plus 40,000 NATO soldiers, and about 100,000 mostly higher paid "contractors" performing military duties. There are up to 15,000 part- and full-time irregulars associated with the Afghan Taliban, perhaps fewer. But — even though they are ultra-conservative religious extremists who were oppressive when in power — they are a national force with no designs on the United States, and are not technically terrorists but defenders of their country from foreign invasion. Many Americans don’t like to hear that, of course. 

The Bush-Obama anti-terrorism policy has two aspects, one public, the other concealed. The public aspect is to "keep America safe" from specifically Arab and more broadly Muslim "terrorists." The concealed aspect is to utilize the 9/11 tragedy to justify the projection of military might to extend U.S. hegemony throughout the oil-rich Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, and into geostrategic Central Asia through the occupation of Afghanistan. 

We shall here discuss the public aspect, and why it was and continues to be the wrong response to 9/11, beginning with a paragraph from the Sept. 15, 2001, Activist Newsletter: 

"Tuesday’s deplorable terror attacks did not occur in a political vacuum, despite the mass media’s effort to depict the events as simply the product of Middle Eastern ‘madmen’ with ‘no regard for human life’ driven by fundamentalist religious beliefs to hate the United States. In reality, Washington’s role in the Middle East, which it has dominated since the end of World War II to control the region’s vast petroleum resources, must be carefully examined to determine the roots of our present situation…. Many Americans ask, ‘Why do they hate us so?’ The honest answer to that question points the way toward a solution to the ‘terrorism’ crisis." 

Never once in all these years has the U.S. government acknowledged that its decades of interference in the region were a major factor in the growth of "terrorism," the existence of al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, and the 9/11 attacks. Washington is hardly unaware of the connection — and indeed of the primacy of its own historic provocation in the region — but in the era of government deception and corporate domination of the mass media, "inconvenient" truths usually remain concealed from the masses of people. 

FIVE MAJOR DECISIONS  

Washington implemented five major decisions during the last 65 years that turned public opinion in the Middle East against the United States and largely generated the conditions that led to the creation of al-Qaeda, jihadist warriors, and suicide bombers. We will describe these causes which ultimately led to the effects called terrorism, then, in part 3, conclude with brief "modest" proposals to rectify the situation. 

(1) The first of these decisions took place immediately following the end of World War II in 1945, when the U.S. chose to extend its hegemony throughout the Middle East, and thus prevent its essential wartime ally, the Soviet Union, from gaining a foothold. Washington’s goal ever since that time — including the last two decades after the implosion of the socialist camp and the 16 months since Obama took office — has been directed toward establishing dominion over this petroleum-rich region to insure America’s global preeminence. 

To accomplish this objective, the U.S. made deals with ultra-conservative monarchies in the region, offering them military protection and secure dynastic longevity in return for loyalty and concessions on oil supplies. Royal houses, such as exist in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere, could have been swept away decades ago by their own people had they not been in America’s protective custody. Washington’s prolongation of monarchical rule has been a major impediment to democracy in the region. 

When the people prevailed, as in Iran in 1951 after an elected democratic government gained power, nationalized the country’s substantial petroleum reserves, and replaced the monarchy with a republic, the U.S. and Britain launched a campaign for bloody regime change that by 1953 crushed democracy and restored the brutal Shah of Iran to power. 

Washington also continually interfered with republics, not just monarchies, supporting, protecting and enriching those which destroyed their political left wing and bent the knee to U.S. hegemony, such as Egypt, while subverting those leaning left, as in Iran in the early 1950s, or who simply insisted upon maintaining independence from American domination, such as Syria. This, too, stifled democracy and social progress. 

After 65 years of interference, Washington either controls or has considerable influence over virtually all the governments of the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, today’s imperial target par excellence. Syria remains in the middle. Turkey, which is sometimes not geographically included in the Middle East, is a member of U.S.-dominated NATO and seeks Washington’s support to enter the European Union, but has lately taken two positions totally opposed by the Obama Administration: It has sharply criticized Israel, which was considered Turkey’s ally, over its invasion and imprisonment of Gaza, and this month joined with Brazil in a move calculated to head off harsh sanctions against Iran. 

In the process of gaining dominance over most Mideast regimes — the majority of which have remained undemocratic as a consequence — the United States has alienated the masses of people throughout the region. 

In response, given that the U.S. has demanded of its Arab protectorates that the political left and progressive secular forces be weakened or crushed in country after country, it has been the Islamic resistance which has filled the vacuum and taken up the national struggle against American domination and undemocratic rule. A relatively small portion of this movement is influenced by extreme fundamentalist ideology, and a still smaller sector have joined the jihad (struggle) initiated by Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda. 

(2) The second decision that contributed principally to creating Arab and Muslim antipathy toward the U.S. was Washington’s total support of Israel to the detriment of the people of Palestine, particularly following the June 1967 war, when Israel invaded and occupied large swaths of Palestinian territory, where it remains today in utter violation of several key international laws. 

"In Palestine," according to British writer/filmmaker John Pilger, "the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for U.S. backing. Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims…. It is only a few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the U.S. had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a people scarred by imperialism.” 

Today, the Arab world agrees to normalize relations with Israel if the Tel Aviv government allows the establishment of two sovereign states, one being Palestinian. Israel refuses, and not only continues to illegally occupy Palestinian lands but to oppress the masses of people — the most gruesome recent example being the vicious attack on Gaza followed by blockading the territory to deprive its inhabitants of the basic necessities of life. 

It is well understood that only U.S. military, economic and political support makes it possible for Israel to continuously subjugate the Palestinians. Israel often claims it is surrounded by "existential" threats of one kind or another, the latest being from Iran, but the only real threat it faces is that of losing Washington’s sponsorship, protection and economic support. 

(3) The third Washington decision that led to 9/11 — and in this case directly — was to involve the U.S. in the Afghan civil war that erupted in 1978 after the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), backed by the Afghan army and military officers, seized power and began to enact reforms to "bring Afghanistan into the 20th century." The reforms — including substantial freedoms for women — aroused armed opposition from conservative Islamic war lords and fighting groups. 

The U.S. began supporting these groups clandestinely in 1979 with great infusions of money and war materials, prompting the USSR to send troops to defend the leftist government. Both al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban developed out of this struggle, receiving American support in the process. 

The Soviets were fought to a standstill and withdrew in 1989, but the left wing government managed to hold on until it was brutally crushed in 1992. The civil war then transformed into a war for control of Afghanistan between several of the strongest rebel groups. It lasted four years, and resulted in victory for the ultra-orthodox Taliban in 1996. Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as one of its bases until the U.S. invasion in October 2001, then fled to western Pakistan. (A 2-part account of "The U.S. in Afghanistan," including "The Origins of a Bad War," were published in the November 5, 2009, issue of the Activist Newsletter, available in the blog archive.) 

(4) The fourth U.S. decision that contributed substantially to the unpopularity of the American government was to impose cruel sanctions against the Iraqi people in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The war itself, resulting in the mortification of Iraq for occupying Kuwait, was intended to compensate for the Pentagon’s humiliating defeat in Vietnam 15 years earlier. The U.S. launched what has been called one of the "most devastating air assaults in history" against Iraq in mid-January 1991. It was all over in a couple of months. Overwhelming power succeeded: The U.S. lost 147 troops. The Iraqis lost 200,000, troops and civilians in the brief war and its immediate aftermath. 

Ultimately up to 1.5 million Iraqis died as a result of a dozen years of draconian U.S./UN economic, trade and materials sanctions that accompanied the war, and which ended only after the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The UN suggests that half these civilian dead were children. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a defender of the Iraqi people, said of the sanctions, "The goal was to cripple Iraq’s infrastructure and make civilian life unsustainable.” (His 1992 book, "The Fire This Time — U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf," remains a classic account of the real causes and effects of the Gulf War.) 

Most Americans were and remain indifferent to the terrible pain visited upon the Iraqi people by the sanctions. Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said of the civilian deaths, "we think the price is worth it." To the Arab people, Muslims in general, humanitarians, and anti-imperialists throughout the world, it was a cruel and vindictive act of genocidal proportions. 

(5) The fifth decision was to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. by bombing and invading Afghanistan, instead of relying on international police work to capture al-Qaeda, a small, non-state, quasi-military organization dedicated to "propaganda of the deed," with cells in several countries in addition to its Afghan component. 

Bush’s decision to launch a war was precisely what al-Qaeda wanted to further discredit the U.S. in Arab eyes. The Bush Administration’s subsequent decision to invade Iraq — which was completely innocent of involvement in 9/11 and extremely weak militarily because of the sanctions — compounded the original miscalculation of invading Afghanistan. Secular President Saddam Hussein was probably fundamentalist al-Qaeda’s principal ideological enemy in the Arab world, and Washington ordered his execution. Meanwhile, the Iraqi national resistance forced the world’s only military superpower into a humiliating stalemate, another fact about which the U.S. public is blissfully ignorant. 

The Iraq war itself, now seven years old, has killed another million Iraqi people and created at least four million refugees. Between the sanctions and the war, the U.S. has killed roughly 2.5 million Iraqis — almost 10% of the population. This does not seem to have penetrated the consciousness, much less the conscience, of the thoroughly propagandized American people. The only winner of Bush’s imperialist misadventure in Iraq was neighboring Shi’ite Iran, which had viewed Hussein’s Ba’athist Sunni regime as its main enemy. 

President Obama’s decision to widen the Afghan war and to penetrate Pakistan and Yemen has once again played into al-Qaeda’s hands, and continues to increase anti-U.S. views on the part of the Arab masses. The good will Obama generated throughout the Muslim world by his warm, peaceful, convincing and ultimately deceptive words in Cairo a year ago has dissipated. His actions have strengthened the tiny splinter of the Arab and Muslim population attracted to fringe groups that engage in violence, led by al-Qaeda. 

WASHINGTON MUST REVERSE POLICY  

If America’s long, unsustainably expensive and essentially stalemated wars are doing little to eliminate the so-called "terrorist" threat, what’s the alternative if Washington actually wants to eliminate terrorism? 

The answer is to recognize that the history of America’s misdeeds in the Middle East is the main reason for the existence of al-Qaeda. Instead of more wars, Washington must reverse its policies: 

• Call off the wars. Pull the troops out. Withdraw the fleet and air bases from the region. 

• Insist upon an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and take measures to enhance Israel’s compliance. 

• Stop dominating and manipulating the countries of the Middle East to serve America’s interests. Discontinue support for undemocratic governments and monarchies. Apologize for decades of manipulation and violence. 

• Pay a huge compensation to the Iraqi people in particular. Invest heavily in eliminating poverty in the entire region and improving social services for the masses of people. 

• Allow the Arab people, and the Iranians as well of course, to work out their political, social and cultural contradictions and preferences without interference. The United States is not the divine instrument chosen to redeem the world, and should stop behaving as though it were. 

This will end jihadist terrorism. And it can all be paid for with the money Washington saves by ending its wars and subversion in the region. 

There is another problem as well, however, more dangerous and widespread than the small-group terrorism of a handful of individuals with homemade weapons. That problem is state terrorism. 

What else other than "state terrorism" can describe Washington’s killer sanctions followed by the "shock and awe" bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq against an essentially defenseless people? What else but state terrorism can we call U.S.-enabled Israel’s horrendously disproportionate attack against the civilian population of Gaza, resulting in 1,400 Palestinian deaths and 14 Israeli deaths, followed by strangling sanctions? 

At this stage, only the people of the United States have the power to force their government to stop interfering in the Middle East, thus ending the retaliatory threat of terrorism. And only the people have the power to end Washington’s ongoing state terrorism against small developing countries in order to enhance its geopolitical fortunes. 

So far, the U.S. government, whether controlled by one or the other of the two ruling parties, has hoodwinked most Americans into actively or passively supporting its aggressive wars. This is surprisingly easy to do, not least because most of us Americans suffer not at all due to our country’s violent and criminal adventures abroad. It remains the task of those who see through the distortions and propaganda to speak up and take a public stand in opposition. To do less is to be indifferent to, or complicit with, a gross iniquity.