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Militarism comes to Obama's America

President Eisenhower, the general who led the D-Day operation in 1944, famously warned Americans in 1961 of the threat to democracy from an emerging “military-industrial complex”. He’d be astonished at what’s going on 50 years later, where a new kind of complex has a seat at the top table.

Its beating heart is a secretive intelligence network which is now reckoned to constitute a fourth arm of government – after the executive (president), judicial and legislative (Congress). According to the Washington Post, this world of smoke and mirrors comprises over 1,200 government agencies and almost 2,000 private companies in more than 10,000 locations across the country. Its annual budget is $80 billion. There are an astonishing 845,000 people with top secret clearance.

This is but one arm of globalised counter-insurgency warfare. Conn Hallinan, a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, a progressive US-based think tank, says:

The assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did more than knock off U.S. Public Enemy Number One. It formalised a new kind of warfare, where sovereignty is irrelevant, armies tangential, and decisions are secret.

Congress is consigned to the role of spectator while the “situation room” at the White House takes over. Who can forget the photos of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton watching as special forces went into Pakistan to kill Osama Bin Laden. Pakistan’s protests at the violation of its airspace were brushed aside. Hallinan notes:

Although clandestine warfare is not new, the boldness of the bin Laden hit is. Certainly the people who planned the attack wanted to make a statement: We can get you anywhere you are, and impediments like international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the UN Charter be damned.

The merging of intelligence and military operations in the US is about to take off in a big way. General David Petraeus, head of international forces in Afghanistan, is tipped to be Obama’s nomination as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency after the present incumbent is confirmed as the administration’s new defence secretary.

In their analysis of the militarisation of America, William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel and Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, insist:

Think of all this as a kind of mix-and-match version of war that increasingly integrates civilian branches of the government like the State Department, an ever more warlike CIA (once known as ‘the president’s private army’), the regular Army, Marines, and Air Force, ever-growing drone air power (split between an officially civilian intelligence agency and the military), and a secret combined military force of perhaps 20,000 special operatives.

In his article How the Military and the Civilian Are Blurring in Washington, Astore relates the “fairy tale” of a “fabled land”, a representative democracy whose foundational principles included civilian control of the military and a system of checks and balances. That has disappeared, says Astore:

Instead, at the highest levels, what’s civilian and what’s military are increasingly difficult to tell apart as the two spheres blur and blend. Today, civilian control of the military is largely a principle without a meaning, while inside Washington’s Beltway, even with a scorecard it’s hard to tell the players apart. In the process, the military has gained a kind of unspoken and distinctly un-American primacy …

There’s a word for this disease, even if after all these years it remains remarkably foreign to American ears: militarism. When Americans think of that word, they tend to conjure up images of fanatical jackbooted Nazis or suicidal Japanese kamikazes, and so the concept seems eminently dismissible. But militarism also describes a situation in which a country’s civil society and political culture are permeated to the point of dominance by military attitudes and values – an undeniable fact of life, I would argue, in America today.

What is happening in America is a warning to people everywhere. The state is not just the plaything of the corporations but increasingly the military too. As the crisis of capitalism deepens, and markets become increasingly competitive, the lurch to full-blown militarism/nationalism will become more pronounced.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
21 June 2011

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Jonathan says:

Glass Half Full or Half Empty
As to the bourgeois views of optimism and pessimism, the cynical comment as to a glass half full or half empty, those that fight, whether they have formulated it in response or not know that what counts is whether they are filling it or drinking it: those fighting now are filling it – eternal optimists; this alone explains their collective willingness to die individually for a cause whether it is clearly laid out or not replenished from the well spring of desires. That they fight behind slogans and those not created within assemblies with a sharp leadership hewn out of the preceding battles only, like the European revolutions of 1848, show that they have not yet heaved out the other interest classes more akin to Global Capital in its interconnections and relationship, just wanting a greater slice 'of G.C.'s cake', and the opportunists; forming their own party wielding together all others – a party of the most advanced sections, and are yet to draw fully on the history of struggle against a decaying foe; one that is built on exploitation and super profits; on corruption and wine swilling. Our duty, as it is their duty, as it is our failure, is to grasp the new and put forward analysis and slogans clearly and to explain them: and to organise. Thus Assemblies. They, though, are not intimidated. Is that not the essential difference?

As opposed to the concept of 'Lawfare' the continuation is that of Bush's law of the 'wild west'. In fact the underlying area that the US is losing at is that of  4th Generation Warfare inside the development is that reference to Spartacus as violent non-state actor ! undoubtedly how the combined ruling class fusing under Global Capital views the world masses – all those opposed economically to it present and developing formations and goals. That is those, whether aware yet or not, who must be  marginalised and ground down by the goals of GC whether developing or, yet, unseen. And economic relations are social relations, flesh and blood ones, the fusing of the opposition so hoped for by the 'left' and others is the natural training ground and object for the state machine; changed irrevocable by the mushrooming of GC. These last may be the more insipid insidious, sucking those elements of civil society into it such as the media, NGOs, education; penetrating and monitoring the unions, and political parities: more importantly tactics of suborning and steering, etc. i.e. not the state and capitalism reorganised reorganising the 'opposite' under its own terms; or attempting to. But the work of leadership involves identifying their overstepping and exposing the nerve endings.

The 'Special Relationship' between Britain and the US is nothing other than that built around the sharing of intelligence through the various agencies. On top of the hundreds of thousands, and therefore their relationships, is the hardware that gradually replaces the more mundane work freeing up those trained in the use of the equipment to speed up the foreign policy and interventions of the major players and their satellites. The: Liberal imperialism rears its ugly head over Libya  points out some obvious truths as do serious non , I would say partisan, yet that is what is needed, and supplied by the open political, and traditional opposition, to Capitalism, outlets; but expressed and aimed at whom? Despite the outing of those behind the lies, despite the various independent enquiries, still the lies are pushed as part of the 'media blitzkrieg', just another weapon; death and manipulate the outcome; or prolonging the 'struggle' itself as a weapon: eternal war.

Behind the drones used is a mass of the 'military-industial complex' referred to above. The quote from Hallinan should be turned, whether Bin Laden was dead or not, it is the predicate, the subject of the act was not 'we can get you', it was, though, that all supposed impediments were not impediments. Therein lies the leap for before all this occured arm twisting and bullying would have been below the radar, this was in the face of the world, shame Pakistan, tell all other countries. Then line up all those, like Britain, that must, have to, support that position. Bin Laden was as incidental to the issue as he was to  al-Qaeda. Even justification later used as their story unravelled and they hit an apparent retreat involved their superiority of matters of intelligence: candy floss.

However, the limitation of Global Capital is in 'its' own very forms of thinking. Limited by research and therefore funding for the educational networks, the R&D of the main players in their private arm or inside their state machines they are not only restrained but penetrated by the contradictions of the crisis; the falling rate of profit; the increase I note above of the use of fixed (and Moors Law shows a decay faster than the material equipment – damn Marx!) to variable capital, i.e. of that created historically and those working on that;  not least that they are in one area fighting a rearguard action and in another trying to expand GC's 'way of working'. This last throws up non-stop resistance, waking new layers at every turn. Egypt was stimulated by two of these forms as referred to previously by AWTW, the acquiescence to the US and financial formations by such as the IMF, and the droughts combined with mass food issues involving small farmers on the one hand, and the prices of food or the total lack of food through draught on the other. Turning a mass of hundreds of thousands to target these forces also showed the limitations.

What is clear is that the concept of Total War has entered Civil Society from the top down somewhat as the Feudal system evolved into the absolutism in the transitional phase towards the rise of the bourgeoisie. During the rise of the bourgeoisie a transitional period occurred; in Britain’s case involving, from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I and changing the nature of the struggle until the civil war and the execution of the absolute monarch. Europe during the same period became stuck through the 30 Years war where the subversion of the Estates led to the degeneration of economical development. Although historical analogy is to be done with care Global Capital stands somewhat to Capitalism as did the use of Absolute monarchy to the Estates. Feudalism was obligations from the bottom up and control from the top down – absolute monarchy subverted this with a top down control undermining, overtaxing, and removing the land of the Estates redistributing all for central purpose. What is clear is that it was not a definite 'historical progression'. Neither is GC a natural heir to the phase of Capital entered into even after its progressive moment; signifying the failure of the revolutionary leadership.  The dangers in not finding a way to tackle a threat to humanity, its role as protector of the planet as it now stands needs the finest organisation and the finest methodological approaches.

It is armed with method that is the problem, just as the Jesuits under pressure from Liberation Theology had to address Dialectical Materialism so also twist and turn the form of thinking now prevalent spread like a support blanket by the rise and  by the decline of Capitalism in the end will address method not by debate, but with the boot: thus did the Inquisition thus did Stalinism. One ought to  remember the Jesuits are the Inquisition – which is still not expected – and the 'storm in the teacup',  as Stalin referred to the development of method by Lenin, almost ended in the Lubyanka with a bullet in the back of the head or in the Gulags where up to 7 million died, of each of those the bureaucracy found a threat, up to and including eating itself from the tail up.

Indeed  under the name  Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stood the present pontiff. 'How many battalions has the Pope?'  asks Stalin; by theory is an organising principle and the Vatican takes, as their writings and preaching show. on a very serious aspect with all that goes to the issue above.  Raising money for political movements when the various state machines have such budgets shows how serious the meaning of leadership is. Unless one has total faith in the concept of spontaneity then it is very serious; if one does then the matter of interference using 850,000 operatives in the US alone takes on another meaning. Dictating what can be read, the modern form of banned books. For main work addressing materialism, not to confuse idealists who wish to change a decaying social and material world, see: Gustav Andreas Wetter: Dialectical Materialism; A Historical and Systematic Survey of Philosophy in Soviet Union. Thinking and its modes are serious matters. Indeed this work is not a bellicose diatribe; it is a very serious study befitting a very serious threat.   Armed with this, and in conjunction with Regan practising the previous version of the above as to intervention by targeted supervision regarding all the issues covered by the above and its links. Poland, and therefore the whole Soviet block, was 'massaged' to their  demise seeing off the work of anti-Stalinist communists and the anarchists who supported radical change that went with the development of Solidarity: the rest is developing history.

Now running linking a number of these issues is 'the breaking story' of the 'phone hacking'; presenting news and pasting a false ideology needs a lot of work and there is only so many royals to marry off, so many trips they can take, so many new scandal that will be fallen for. The  issues covered by AWTW involving all these 850.000 in the states and their equivalent in Britain; all this has become immeasurably more difficult. Meanwhile the response to the underlying matters of the Global crisis and the accumulation of wealth at the top drives risings across the world: misrepresent that leaves more coverage and the best analysis according to the greatest methodological approach  by social networking and inside burgeoning Assemblies – debate, decision and organisational abilities.

Meanwhile those that sowed the wind are reaping the whirlwind.  Relying on MI5, the leaks from the police, private detectives (the same skills as the police) dribbling nonsense from Government 'off the records', and on; they haven’t any Investigative skills left and each of the above in the new 'breaking sandal' of phone-hacking has left them wide open – and who do they use as sources: it seems the deck is clear for a while for those in genuine opposition to grab the high-ground and widen the relationships. They have succeeded in making their own Mob look foolish, that is not easy. Die cynic die.


Dave says:

This last month I have come across the repeated claim that contrary to Obama’s palliative assurance that its Military forces are to be removed at haste from Afghanistan, there is a covert army of US sponsored mercenaries in the region of 100,000 that gets no mention. And as you have proffered, the CIA have now been introduced to run an operation independent of the Military in ‘Drone’ warfare …the very word a soporific; just repeat it and feel the mantra-form enticement to a trance-like state of de-motivated acceptance. What a clever euphemism for the most sophisticated instrument of extra-judicial murder yet devised. Never mind a crack team of Navy Seals taking out Osama Bin-Laden, these invisible, military eyes-in-the-sky are delivering death to anyone the US Government decides it doesn't suit them to leave alive - and still the stupefied Media-banter continues about rule-of-law.

This is assassination on a daily basis by a State that doesn't answer to anyone, the bully in a global playground of cowards.

Nothing intimidates me more than the thought of having to answer to US justice, within or without its pretentious legal system.


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