Category Archives: Imperialism

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter Implies Russia and China Are “Enemies” of America. What Next?

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: Total War, Mass Detention and Martial Law

Embracing the Dark Side for their Galactic Ambitions

How the New World Order “Globalists” Are Dividing Americans

What Does the Imperial Mafia Really Want?

Five Leaders Challenging Western Imperialism Pope Francis, Vladimir Putin, Xi, Jinping, Hassan Rouhani, and Jeremy Corbyn

Five World Leaders Challenge Western Imperialism through Diplomacy, Persuasion and Public Pressure

The Indispensable Nation, Exploded

Obama Deifies American Hegemony

The Fall of the American Empire: Hooray!

Imperial America

Visual of Global Military Expenditures: US Comprises Half of Global Military Spending

US Imperialism and America’s “New Cold War” against Africa

Hillary Clinton: “If I’m President, We Will Attack Iran”

Pentagon Concludes America Is Not Safe Unless It Conquers The World. US Plans War against Russia.

We Own The World

Noam Chomsky on American Empire


Many Americans are not accustomed to the idea that America sits atop a global empire, but with military bases and forces spread out across the world, interventions in dozens of countries – there’s simply no other way to describe our “empire.”

Is this empire worth building – and at what cost?

Posted July 08, 2015

“Axis of Evil 2.0″, Targeting Russia, China, Iran, North Korea: The Hidden Details of the New US National Military Strategy

Empire and the History of the Drug Trade

“Rebuilding America’s Defenses” – A Summary Blueprint of the PNAC Plan for U.S. Global Hegemony

The fall of Ramadi and the criminality of US imperialism

Chaos – not Victory – is Empire’s Name of the Game

US sends warships to Strait of Hormuz, claiming Iran threat

These Are all the Countries Where the US Has a Military Presence

“Proof that Russia and Iran Want War”: Look How Close They Put Their Countries To Our Military Bases!

Bellum Americanum: US imperialism’s delusions of world conquest

Is the U.S. a Fascist Society? Fascism is a Political Economic Structure Which Serves Corporate Interests

Pentagon provocation on Russia’s border

Domestic Fear Is the Price of Empire

“Civilization” of the Neocons

The global scale of US militarism

Pentagon in Denial About Killing Civilian in Iraq and Syria

U.S. and allied forces have reportedly killed dozens of civilians in airstrikes while bombing the Islamic State. But the Defense Department refuses to take responsibility.

By Chris Woods

December 05, 2014 “ICH” – “FP” – The Pentagon accepts that with hundreds of allied bombings aimed at Islamic State targets since August, there is a “continued risk inherent in these strikes” for civilians on the ground. But that doesn’t mean the United States will offer compensation if it kills them.

The United States is not planning to grant compensation for civilians killed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, Foreign Policy has learned, despite claims by credible groups that at least 100 noncombatants may already have died in the 16 weeks of U.S.-led bombings.

The decision, confirmed by a senior spokesman for U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the military command organization in charge of the air war, marks a significant departure from recent conflicts, in which payments have regularly been made to civilians negatively impacted by U.S. military actions.

Washington continues to insist it cannot confirm a single noncombatant death from more than 1,100 airstrikes against Islamic State targets — despite a number of apparently well-documented cases of error or collateral damage in both Iraq and Syria.

America’s 11 allies in the air war in Syria and Iraq may be no better placed to help. “If a claim of civilian casualties were found valid, that claim would be processed in accordance with the laws of the nation that conducted the strike,” a Centcom spokesman told FP. But for civilians on the ground, it is often impossible to attribute responsibility.

Eight coalition members — including Denmark, the Netherlands, and the three Arab partners — currently refuse to say publicly where in Syria or Iraq they are bombing. Although Centcom releases information on airstrikes, its statements only say whether allies participated in the strikes, not where they took place.

Justifying its own decision to keep strike locations in Iraq secret, a spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force told FP that it “will not release information that could be distorted and used against Australia in [Islamic State] propaganda.”

Centcom is now citing a 72-year-old U.S. law for its justification for not awarding compensation in Iraq and Syria. As a spokesman told FP, “For U.S. forces, claims would be processed in accordance with the Foreign Claims Act, which generally does not authorize compensation for damage or injury caused in combat operations.” The Foreign Claims Act is a World War II-era statute that bars the military from compensating for civilians lawfully killed on the battlefield. These can either be noncombatants accidentally killed or civilians caught up in legitimate strikes, for example, on high-value targets.

Yet in other recent U.S. wars, the government has enabled a system of “no-fault” payouts for situations in which civilians were accidentally killed. It was a common-sense recognition of the damage such deaths can do to U.S. war aims, say analysts.

“The U.S. and its allies began making no-fault payments for civilian casualties in Afghanistan after their failure to acknowledge these tragedies created a backlash and handed a recruiting card to groups like the Taliban,” said Letta Tayler, a terrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While states have no international legal obligation to compensate for so-called ‘acceptable collateral damage,’ doing so is the right move morally and strategically.”

A U.S. Defense Department official, speaking to FP on background, claimed that the congressional authorizations that allowed for such payments in Afghanistan and during Operation Iraqi Freedomwere only temporary and do not apply to Syria or Iraq today. That means the government has no choice but to cite the Foreign Claims Act, U.S. officials believe.

Others contest this. The New York-based Center for Civilians in Conflict, an advocacy group, points, for example, to permanent legislation passed by Congress this year designed expressly to ensure that “no-fault” compensation could continue to be paid to victims of any U.S. conflict. The new law is aimed specifically at “matching Washington’s rhetoric for responsible use of force with practical actions,” wrote Sahr Muhammedally, a senior program manager with the center. Campaigners are now wondering why it isn’t being applied to Iraq or Syria.

Multiple partners and secret targets

Despite a common enemy in the Islamic State, two different allied air wars are emerging in the Middle East. In Iraq, only Western countries are bombing. They are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, which the air campaign is in part devoted to propping up. Indeed, both the Pentagon and Britain’s Defense Ministry confirm that allied airstrikes are being cleared in advance with Iraq’s military.

In Syria, only Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates — have joined the United States in bombing Islamic State targets. (Qatar and Bahrain participated in the first night of attacks on Sept. 23 but have not since participated in bombing operations.) Bashar al-Assad’s regime does not consent to these bombings, though its air defenses remain dormant.

So far, only the United States is attacking on both sides of the border, and it remains the dominant partner. Latest figures from Centcom show that the United States has carried out around 85 percent of coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Unlike United Nations-sanctioned operations in Afghanistan, the allies in the anti-Islamic State campaign are not part of any formal alliance. It is more a loose “coalition of the willing,” according to one U.S. defense official — an echo of the original Iraq invasion back in 2003. Although the United States has established “coalition standards on targeting and the appropriate use of lethal force, which always must account for the possible risk of civilian casualties,” these are for guidance only, said a Centcom spokesman.

Instead, “each nation participating in the coalition may modify or supplement this coalition guidance, including rules of engagement, with its own ‘caveats,'” the Centcom spokesman told FP. Every one of the 12 countries involved in the air campaign operates “in accordance with its own legal requirements,” according to the spokesperson. Britain’s Defense Ministry, for example, confirmed toFP that “we will not undertake missions [in Iraq] if they do not fall within U.K. [rules of engagement].” Britain’s rules of engagement, like those of all other countries in the alliance, remain classified.

So where does an air war leave civilians when 12 countries fly by 12 different rule books? The Pentagon insists that “no other military in the world works as hard as we do to be precise in our targeting.” And all allies “have implemented significant mitigation measures within the targeting process and during the conduct of operations to reduce the potential of civilian casualties and collateral damage,” according the Centcom spokesman. Yet a number of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria show the difficulty of verifying these assertions.

The difficulty of counting

On Oct. 25, a “US raid on a stronghold of the IS [Islamic State] killed two civilians by mistake,” according to an Iraqi news agency, citing a medical source at a hospital in Mosul, Iraq. The airstrike, the source said, had hit the city’s southern Qayyarah district, and the bodies were taken to the hospital’s morgue.

The Mosul case — one of more than a dozen incidents in which allied aircraft are alleged to have killed Iraqi or Syrian civilians — highlights many of the challenges for advocates who record civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria and the lethal risks that the air war poses to Iraqi and Syrian civilians.

International monitors picked up on the reported civilian fatalities in Mosul via the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA), an independent Iraqi news wire. According to groups tracking civilian deaths in Iraq, NINA is a reputable source; yet monitors are finding it increasingly difficult to independently verify claims of civilian deaths. In part they are simply overwhelmed: the U.K.-based Iraq Body Count, an independent web-based organization, reports almost 16,000 civilian deaths in Iraq so far this year. Where deaths can be attributed, the overwhelming majority have been caused by the Islamic State, but the cause of thousands of deaths cannot so far be attributed to any party.

The Mosul case is one of at least nine in Iraq in which allied aircraft may have caused civilian deaths, according to monitors. On Oct. 5, for example, at least 18 civilians died when a marketplace was bombed in the town of Hit in Anbar province, according to monitors and international media. Centcom has dismissed the claim of civilian deaths in Hit as “false.”

Margaret Griffis, who has helped compile‘s daily tallies of civilian deaths in Iraq since 2006, said that the quality of casualty reporting depends heavily on location: Outside the ISIS [Islamic State] zones, we’re getting a reasonable idea of the numbers of civilians killed,” she said. “But in areas held by Islamic State? I’m not happy.”

Mosul, which has been occupied by the jihadi group since June, is a case in point. One senior Baghdad-based journalist, who requested anonymity due to security concerns for the staff of the international news agency where the journalist works, told Foreign Policy that while the news agency was aware of reported civilian casualties from an allied airstrike in Mosul on Oct. 25, “we were never able to confirm it.” Local journalists have been a particular target for harassment and murder by the Islamic State, making news-gathering a fraught business and keeping the number of civilian casualties ambiguous.

Centcom’s own daily reports can be of little help. “Are the targets they’re hitting significant? We can be pretty clueless about that,” said the Baghdad-based correspondent.A house might be bombed. Was it empty, occupied; did it contain weapons? We can’t really determine ourselves on a day-to-day basis.”

Human Rights Watch also reports significant problems in following up and confirming reports of civilian deaths. “We have heard, for example, of a family killed in Mosul by a U.S. airstrike. And we’ve tried to verify that claim. But Mosul remains completely inaccessible,” said Erin Evers, the group’s Iraq director, referring to what may be another incident in Mosul.

In these opaque circumstances, say casualty recorders, there is a particular onus on the United States and its allies to declare where and when each bombing in Iraq and Syria takes place — particularly where civilian deaths have been alleged. This is frequently not the case.

The responsibility gap

Of the 15 likely airstrikes examined for this report that allegedly caused civilian casualties, seven took place on days when U.S. forces alone carried out missions or where the United States has claimed sole responsibility for an attack. Reports from independent monitors indicate that 49 or more civilians may have died in such attacks.

Three local Syrian residents, for example, have described to Human Rights Watch the deaths of seven women and children in a U.S. cruise missile strike in Syria’s Idlib province on Sept. 23, whichallegedly targeted the Khorasan Group. Centcom continues to deny any confirmed civilian casualties from the attack.

Another eight airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria reportedly responsible for civilian deaths present significant attribution challenges, with up to four allies participating in attacks on these dates. The refusal of most coalition members to say where they are bombing means some civilians may never know what country was responsible for dropping the bomb that killed their neighbors or families. (Only in one of the 15 incidents of alleged civilian casualties — a Sept. 26 strike in Mosul — were there no allied airstrikes reported in the vicinity by Centcom or its allies.)

The Oct. 25 strike in Mosul, which allegedly killed two civilians, clearly illustrates this problem. Almost one-third of the 600 allied bombings in Iraq to date have targeted Mosul and the surrounding area. Between Oct. 24 and 26 alone, Centcom confirms some 20 allied airstrikes in the area.

That term “airstrike” can be misleading, however. U.S. defense officials concede that what they report as a single incident might involve the targeting of numerous locations. British and Australian statements describe a recent bombing raid on an alleged Islamic State bunker system near Kirkuk that involved 20 aircraft from seven countries and that hit 44 targets. In its own reporting of the incident, Centcom describes just three “strikes.”

Nor can any given target location be assumed to be accurate. While Centcom places all allied airstrikes around Oct. 25 in some 45 miles northwest of Mosul, near the city’s dam, other allied reports prove otherwise. France’s Defense Ministry reported that two of its aircraft dropped four bombs “on a suburb of Mosul” at around midnight, Iraqi time, on the night of Oct. 24.

Other countries might have bombed Mosul that day. Denmark will say only that its air force dropped30 bombs” somewhere in Iraq during the week of Oct. 26 at locations unknown. The Dutch, too, say they released “dozens of bombs” during the week of Oct. 26 at locations unknown.

As the Mosul case demonstrates, it is often impossible for the public to determine which country is bombing where. Justifying Denmark’s position, a Danish military spokesman recently told reporter Rasmus Raun Westh, “One particular attack on one particular area could lead directly back to Danish aircraft. We would rather hide in the crowd.”

A lack of aerial intelligence

A particular risk for civilians in Iraq and Syria today is the low quality of pre- and post-strike intelligence. With few U.S. boots on the ground, there is a near-complete dependence on aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Yet many analysts and even U.S. officials say that U.S. forces are stretched too thin to provide sufficient intelligence.

By the end of October, only 10 weeks into the campaign, the allies had already dropped 500 more bombs and missiles in Iraq and Syria than in Afghanistan across all of 2014. Even so, Air Forces Central Command, the Air Force division of Centcom, reports 9,450 ISR missions over Afghanistan between August and October. During the same period, just 1,140 ISR flights are reported for Iraq and Syria combined.

That situation is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, with one Air Force official telling theDaily Beast, “As the troops draw down [in Afghanistan], they will need more, not less, ISR.” With so few intelligence-gathering assets to call on, it’s little wonder that a Pentagon spokesman recently described current civilian casualty assessments in the air war against the Islamic State as “inconclusive.”

Centcom’s continuing assertion that it has “no operational reporting or intelligence” confirming civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, despite more than 1,000 airstrikes to date, is therefore unlikely to be accurate. Indeed, NATO was later forced to retract similar claims at the end of the 2011 Libyan air war after investigations found that dozens of civilians had in fact died in allied airstrikes.

Casualty monitors believe Centcom’s claims are not credible. Iraq Body Count estimates that up to 100 civilians may have died in U.S. and allied airstrikes in Iraq — though these represent less than 2 percent of civilians reported killed in Iraq during the same period, according to the group.

Lily Hamourtziadou, a casualty recorder with Iraq Body Count since 2006, said that of around 6,800 civilians killed in Iraq’s violence since August, more than 2,500 are believed to have died at the hands of the Islamic State and its allies. A further 600 or more civilians have been reportedly killed in aggressive operations by the Iraqi military. Due to the lack of reporting and the chaos of the war, it’s not possible to attribute all of the 6,800 deaths.

Across the border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that has gained a reputation for balanced reporting of Syria’s civil war, uses a network of locals to track civilian and combatant deaths caused by the Assad regime, rebel groups, and now coalition airstrikes. More than 900 people were killed by the United States and its Arab allies in airstrikes between Sept. 23 and Nov. 21, according to the Syrian Observatory. Of these, around 50 were reportedly civilians. That number pales beside the actions of the Assad regime, which frequently targets civilians in rebel-held areas. “In one week alone in October the regime killed 182 civilians in airstrikes,” said Syrian Observatory founder Rami Abdul Rahman.

As allied airstrikes have shifted from rural battlefields like Mount Sinjar and the Mosul Dam to the Islamic State’s urban strongholds, they are now often targeting the same locations as the Assad regime or the Iraqi government, adding to the confusion. The Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, was the target of indiscriminate bombings by the Assad regime in the last week of November, killing up to 200 civilians. Days later, U.S. forces carried out multiple airstrikes of their own on the city, though there have been no reports of noncombatants killed in these attacks.

While there is no love lost between the Assad regime and the allied Arab and Western forces, airstrikes in Iraq are being conducted with the full knowledge and approval of Iraq’s security forces, both Centcom and the British Defense Ministry told Foreign Policy. Yet how much this represents any safeguard for civilians is unclear.

According to Iraq Body Count’s Hamourtziadou, Iraq’s military has itself killed hundreds of civilians during operations in Sunni cities such as Mosul and Tikrit. “There have been nightly airstrikes by the Iraqi Army [in 2014], and these raids have reportedly caused civilian casualties almost every time,” she said. The Iraqi military doesn’t release information about its targeting and is understood not to pay compensation.

Casualty recorders are calling for the United States and its allies to be far more open about who they are hitting in Iraq and Syria — and to pay promptly when civilians are killed or injured, whether such actions are lawful or not. “Transparent investigations of all allegations — and creating appropriate programs to address civilian harm — are mission critical for U.S. and coalition operations in Iraq and Syria,” said Muhammedally, of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. “Ignoring losses can and will create anger and resentment among the population.”

The Only Way to Stop the Empire

By Gary Flomenhoft

December 02, 2014 “ICH” – “ClubOrlov” -The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered. Empires are like bacteria in a Petrie dish; unthinking, unseeing, unfeeling, they expand until they run out of food or contaminate their environment with their waste, and then they die. They are automatons, and they just can’t help it: they are programmed to expand or die, expand or die, and, in the end, expand and die.

What does the empire feed on? It feeds on money and fear; your money and your fear, both obtained with your cooperation. It is bigger now than when it faced an actual adversary in the Soviet Union. Russia is no adversary; all it wants is to be a normal country, at peace with the world. But the empire won’t let it, will it? It must create enemies. Who are our enemies? According to the authors of endless war they are North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Islamic terrorists. Are any of them actually capable of threatening the US? Well, yes, but they are all quite easy to deter. But the plan of the authors of endless war is not to deter them; it is to back them into a corner with political instability and sanctions, while whipping up the population on both sides into fear-filled frenzy.

We all know that the US military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating and uncontrollable organism, just like Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961. Everyone knows the phrase and Eisenhower’s warning—it is part of our collective memory. At a trillion dollars a year and growing, with over 1000 bases ringing the planet, it has expanded far beyond what Eisenhower could have imagined in his worst nightmare. We can’t say we didn’t know: he warned us. After the National-Socialist episode in Germany, many good Germans voiced regrets at not speaking up, claiming that they didn’t know what was being done in their name. But we do not have that excuse: we all knew all along.

Nor was it the first time we were warned. General Smedley Butler told us before, in 1933, and his words are still with us, posted online. Why is it that everyone, generals included, suddenly gain wisdom immediately upon reaching retirement? Butler offered an explanation: his “mind was in suspended animation while serving as a soldier and following orders.” In 1933 Butler told us that he “was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” He said:

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”This empire is nothing new, and we knew what it is and what it does all along. We can’t say we didn’t know. We have watched throughout our lives as the US put down every popular uprising against local autocrats and oligarchs, placed countries under US control, then helped organize and train the death squads that killed off the opposition. Think of Indonesia, Argentina, or Honduras. We watched as the empire crushed every democratic government that threatened US business interests under the false pretext of “anti-communism,” starting with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and proceeding to Congo, Haiti (numerous times), and most notably and infamously Chile in 1973 (assassinating president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973), Nicaragua in the 1980’s, and many, many others. (For details see William Blum’s Killing Hope.) And of course, many of us lived through the epic lies and genocide of millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the so-called “Vietnam War.” We knew, we watched, and we paid taxes that paid for the bullets and the bombs.

More recently we’ve seen the barefaced lies of empire laid out for all to see in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine… they never end! But the trouble we stir up in other places never seems to come home and ring our doorbell, does it? Maybe that’s why it keeps on going. We think that we can just ignore it and go on with our lives—that it won’t affect us. Or does it?

Let’s leave aside the destruction of democracy that always accompanies a militarized, fascist police state that the US has gradually turned into. And let’s ignore the violence that pervades US society, or the vast gulag of incarceration that disposes of our useless eaters. Consider that the only military attack on US soil that actually scored a palpable hit since Pearl Harbor was 9/11. Pearl Harbor was on the periphery, way out in the Pacific, “A Day that will live in Infamy,” the more so since FDR knew it was coming and did all he could to provoke it by cutting Japan off from oil supplies, directly provoking it into launching the attack. But Hawaii is the periphery while 9/11 struck at the heart of the empire, the financial center in New York that drives the imperial wealth pump, and the Pentagon, which is charged with the mission of US world domination.

Whether you believe that 19 Arabs armed with box cutters who couldn’t fly propeller planes took down 3 World Trade buildings that plummeted straight down at the speed of freefall in what looked like controlled demolition (yes there were 3, look up “Building 7”), and destroyed a section of the Pentagon, or whether you believe it was an inside job, doesn’t matter. The point is, in that act of destruction, the wars of the empire finally came home.

What was the result? Did these events cause us to reconsider what we are doing? Of course not! Instead, we went all-in for war. Remember, the empire is an automaton, a self-perpetuating organism, living on money and fear. What better way to whip up fear than to stage, or to allow, or to simply fail to prevent, an attack on the “homeland”—which is, by the way, a Nazi propaganda term. The purpose of war is simply to cause more war, since it is so profitable for the badly misnamed “defense industry.” Butler told us in 1933 that “war is a racket,” and documented massive war profiteering during WWI. Do you know how much money Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon et al. are making from the “War on Terror”? The sums are astronomical.

As you read these words, the empire is busy doing its work in Ukraine. Here is how that works. First, it overthrows the elected government in a US-backed coup. Next, it directs its local puppet regime to unleash a military attack and organize death squads to deal with the population in the east that won’t go along with the US-backed coup, in this case using actual Nazi-branded death squads, complete with Nazi SS Insignias. (Anyone can verify these facts with the most cursory internet search.) And for the final, consummate imperialist touch, it votes in the UN (together with Canada) against a resolution condemning the Ukrainian Nazis and other racist murderers, while the Europeans shamefacedly abstain. This sort of plan used to work really well, and so the empire keeps repeating it over and over again, even though the results are worse every time.

Vast numbers of Americans support the empire’s wars of conquest because they help maintain their lavish lifestyles. They bother some of us more than others. Many of us are adamantly against them, but only a few find it emotionally unbearable to countenance the destruction of millions of lives in our names and with our money. What makes them different? Who knows, you would have to ask a psychologist.

The question for those who oppose endless war is, What have we done about it? A mass movement in the 1960’s that added up to an uprising by a vast segment of society perhaps had something to do with ending the conflict in Vietnam. In spite of these protests, the empire was able to extend the war by an extra five years all the way to 1973, when it agreed to end it on the same terms that had been offered in 1968 to Nobel “peace laureate” Henry Kissinger. There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?

First, the draft was ended. This put an end to the involvement of average US families in the wars of empire, and therefore ending the requirement for consent of the governed. The strategists realized that the draft was a disaster for the empire. The new, much better and cheaper way to procure cannon fodder for the endless war is to enlist the children of the underclass, by using economic oppression in order to deprive them of any other means of advancement except military service.

Second, the military has been outsourced and privatized, requiring even less involvement by US families in the military, and less need for their consent. “You’re all volunteers, so shut up” is the attitude.

Third, the vastly increased scope of domestic spying by the NSA and other government agencies has helped keep everyone under control and stifle dissent.

Fourth is the tight government/corporate control of the US media, which has become consummately successful in brainwashing and propagandizing the population.

Finally, there is the war on whistleblowers and journalists who expose the truth, from Tom Drake to William Binney, Sibel Simons, Jesselyn Radack, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. If necessary, the police, who are vastly more militarized than in the past, together with national guard troops, can squash any dissent like a bug. All these measures ensure that efforts at reform pursued through legal, nonviolent means such as voting, protest, civil disobedience, civil resistance, etc. will have absolutely no effect. The only action that can possibly stop the empire in its tracks is cutting off its food supply—the tax money on which it lives. We have to starve the beast through divestment, capital expatriation, tax resistance, tax refusal and tax revolt. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig told us this flat out in the 1980’s when, being confronted with huge protests over US Central American policy, he said: “Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes.” Truer words were never uttered by a US official. Is there any evidence to contradict his statement? Has any other measure had any impact on the war machine? The honest answer is no. Millions of people around the world protested before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These protests were ignored. No amount of protest or other efforts can stop it, because it doesn’t cut off the empire’s food supply of money and fear. Only by cutting off its funds by not paying taxes can we stop the empire.

Many have said that the US doesn’t need tax money as it survives on endless debt. Yes, the empire lives on debt, but the ability to sell debt is based on the bond rating of US treasury bonds. Most recently in June, 2014 S&P gave the US a AA+ rating with “stable outlook.”

If there is any doubt about the US credit rating, the ability to sell debt to continue financing the empire comes into question. The ability to collect taxes is what maintains the US bond rating. Any reduction of the US bond rating, and interest rates have to go up in order to continue attracting more investment. Then the interest on the debt balloons out of control and becomes unrepayable—never mind the principal, which they have no intention of ever paying back. By the way, the Tea Party’s efforts to shut down government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling was helping this effort for a time, although for different reasons. They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country. This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending. Still, they did manage to lower the bond rating for a time. Shutting down the federal government is a step in the right direction, and since in recent years only the Tea Party has managed to do it, lets give them some credit

If the US became unable to reliably collect taxes, then its ability to finance the empire with debt would be diminished, and the US would have to turn to increasing taxes—another politically unpalatable choice, especially in the age of the Tea Party, when the empire’s main constituency is dead-set against more taxes. So it is absolutely clear that the only thing that could stop the empire is a tax revolt. It wouldn’t even have to be that big; the slightest question about the ability of the federal government to collect taxes could reduce the bond rating. Even a minor reduction could raise interest rates enough to make the US debt unrepayable.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: How do you avoid paying taxes, when the IRS withholds our salaries, and the tables are rigged to withhold about 15% more than necessary on average, so 80% of people get a refund? Did you think that this is a coincidence? No, this is a one-year interest-free loan to the empire from taxpayers. But it’s actually quite simple not to pay taxes. Get a W-4 form, write EXEMPT in the space provided, and turn it in to your friendly HR office. Your employer is not allowed to change it unless directed by the IRS. Normally they have no reason to question it.

Here’s what happened last time it was tried on a big scale. In 2007, Code Pink joined the War Resisters League to organize a national project for war tax refusal, to “Stop Bush’s Wars.” This was not a true tax revolt, just more or less a referendum on how many people would potentially support withholding a portion of their taxes owed, even a token amount. The online petition asked people if they would be willing to commit to withhold some of their taxes, even $1, if 100,000 other people would agree to do the same. Out of the US population of 316 million, how many people do you think signed it? About 2,000. So you see, there is not much evidence that people will do the only thing that could stop the empire: a true Tea Party tax revolt.

What this implies is that the empire will continue to churn along, and debt will continue to build up, because any other approach to paying for it is not feasible, and therefore collapse is inevitable. The aftermath of collapse is unpredictable; maybe there will be a soft landing, maybe not. But unless you are willing to engage in some form of tax revolt, collapse is inevitable. You will get to live with the results: stage a tax revolt now, or face collapse later.

Are you sure you want to take your chances on collapse? The results of a personal tax revolt are predictable: retribution with penalties and interest from the IRS; living in fear of having your salary, your property, even your house seized, or worse, your door broken down by federal agents (although these extreme measures don’t happen too often, they happen often enough to instill fear). Perhaps there would be loss of income, or even your job. Losing one’s job often leads to depression, divorce, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. So you may prefer collapse after all: loss of your savings, no heat, electricity or trash removal, shops looted or closed, armed gangs roaming the streets… Your choice!

On the other hand, collapse might go well! Hope springs eternal in the optimistic American heart. We are (or used to be) the “can-do” people. Maybe we can-do collapse better than anyone else? Doubtful though if you read Dmitry Orlov’s Collapse Gap presentation.

The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now. Especially, since the IRS takes years to catch up to exempt W-4 forms, and it would be even harder to crack down if it were being was done en masse. But it’s perfectly understandable if you opt to do nothing now and suffer no consequences, while engaging in ineffective protest to assuage your conscience. You probably have a family to support, an expensive hobby, or some other excuse. So you decide to take your chances with collapse later. After all, collapse might turn out OK for you! This psychology is quite understandable. I truly hope that collapse will be as painless as you wish it will be, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck though! Whatever happens, you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life—be it long or short.

Signed, expat and long-time conscientious tax refuser, Gary Flomenhoft.

The High Cost of Empire Maintenance

Every year, congressional delegations and government officials rack up millions of dollars worth of publicly funded distractions abroad.

By Philip Giraldi

November 30, 2014 “ICH” – “American Conservative” – Running an empire is not cheap.

The revelation that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has run up $4.7 million in travel expenses, over 930,000 miles, and a total of 373 days on the road in his five years in office should not surprise anyone, until one realizes that the numbers conceal as much as they reveal. As the Secretary travels by military aircraft and naval vessels, the cost of getting from point A to point B is not included, nor are a lot of the related staffing expenses as they are taken care of by Defense Department personnel who would be getting paid anyway.

Even with those sunk costs, however, managing visitors nevertheless compromises the ability of the local mission or command to carry out its normal duties. In my experience, the visit of a senior bureaucrat, a congressional delegation, or a high-ranking military officer overseas is both a money pit and a time-waster as it invariably requires weeks of preparation prior to the arrival of the potentate.

Congressmen are notorious for their worldwide travel as part of “Congressional Delegations” (CODELs), which are intended to be both “fact-finding” and “educational.” Most CODEL visits not surprisingly occur in the summer when Congress is in recess, and sometimes lack seriousness or even any recognizable agenda. Sixteen congressmen traveled to Rome in March to attend the installation of Pope Francis at a cost of $63,000, a relatively small expense by government standards, but nevertheless a gesture that should have been paid for either through a private foundation or by the congressmen themselves.

America’s legislators are also prone to travel with their families and staffs in tow, particularly when the destination is desirable. Phony agendas are frequently contrived with the cooperation of the local U.S. Embassies to permit the government to plausibly pay for the supernumeraries. This includes spouses attending the opening of a school or visiting a hospital. Generally speaking, a meeting with local officials during a CODEL is sufficient to justify the trip. That is the “fact finding” part and the rest is “educational.” CODELs traditionally traveled VIP on military aircraft to many destinations, but new post-sequester regulations now require them to travel on commercial carriers. By claiming that they have to work immediately upon arrival in a foreign destination they are able to upgrade to Business Class.

Congressmen and staffers frequently also benefit from trips arranged by lobbyists, interest groups, or even foreign governments. Sen. John McCain’s frequent maladroit appearances in international hot spots are often privately funded. In a notorious case recounted in theWashington Post, “About a dozen congressional staffers flew business class on a trip to China last summer [2012] and stayed at luxury hotels while touring the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and receiving a ‘briefing on ancient artifacts and dynasties’ at the Shanghai Museum. The all-expenses-paid visit came courtesy of China.”

And some other senior officials are even less inclined to stay at home. Hillary Clinton loggedalmost one million miles while visiting 111 countries during her tenure as secretary of state, and John Kerry will likely easily surpass that record having visited 51 countries and totaled over 520,000 air miles in his first year alone.

Secretaries of state travel on a specially equipped Boeing 757 and have many of the security and communications add-ons that accompany the president, including advanced Secret Service teams and supporting aircraft to carry journalists and staff. But at least Clinton and Kerry had a good excuse for their peripatetic ways: dealing with foreigners is in their job description. As for the actual costs of all the travel, those remain a state secret and would probably be misleading even if an attempt were made to break them down. As the aircraft, crew, security details, and communications staff are supplied by the government and are paid for whether they are being used or not, it is difficult to separate out discretionary costs. Hotels, meals, and entertainment expenses have not been made public for such official travel and are not accessible through the Freedom of Information Act.

Perhaps not surprisingly the greatest abuse of the taxpayer-funded travel privilege comes from the White House, which routinely under both Republicans and Democrats mixes “official” trips with fundraisers and other activities that are strictly partisan politics in a deliberate attempt to have a nod to government business pay for the politicking. President Barack Obama is indeed the “most well-traveled”  president in U.S. history and also the most expensive.

The Democratic National Committee is supposed to reimburse the government for any costs that relate to electioneering or fundraising, but Obama, like his predecessors and contrary to his pledges of “transparency in government,” has refused to reveal just how much that amounts to. It is to be presumed that infrastructure costs including $228,000 per hour for Air Force One alone are considered to be a fixed expense, as is security and ground transportation, which all suggests that the actual reimbursement might well be more notional than real, meaning that it would be embarrassing to actually reveal how little it is.

Watchdog group estimates of Obama travel, including more than $7 million spent on vacations to Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard and an appearance on the Jay Leno show in 2013, run to over $44 million. A 13-hour cameo appearance at the Nelson Mandela funeral cost $11 million and included a bill for 127 hotel rooms.

Estimates for presidential travel costs should be considered to be minimalist as many actual expenses are picked up in other ways, including the White House operating budget, or are not included. And First Lady Michelle is also on the government dime when she travels separately. A recent “non-political” trip to China had her staying at the Westin Hotel at $8,400 per night, a suite that had been considered unacceptable for an earlier visit by Vice President Joe Biden because it was too expensive.

What arguments are made for all the traveling and the expense that is involved, a phenomenon that is unique to the U.S. government? The president represents the country in international fora and while one might disagree with the rationalizations for some of the travel, few would dispute that it is generally speaking a necessary evil. What is not necessary is the imperial entourage that accompanies the president, reported to be for some trips a second 747 for the media and other guests, three cargo planes, a total of 900 fellow travelers and staff, and a supply of armored vehicles.

For travelers from the intelligence and defense establishments there is an understanding that being briefed in Washington is not the same as visiting a field operation and seeing how things function first hand. The only problem with that argument is that the visits of senior officials and military officers are carefully orchestrated and prepared, meaning that the insights gained are carefully managed and pretty much identical to those that would be obtained from a briefer back at home without being able to look out the window and see sand dunes.

It is also sometimes argued that a visit to the field allows senior management to mix with lower ranks to obtain their views and insights, but in my 20 years of experience in government I never witnessed a situation in which congressmen or flag officers were allowed to mingle with the lower rank and file unsupervised. Secretary Mabus indeed describes a chance encounter with a junior officer in Hawaii during which she vented about her career prospects because she could not serve on a submarine. Mabus changed the rules to permit her to serve underwater, but citing the conversation as justifying his travel to Honolulu is in reality a thin justification for a lot of unnecessary expense.

A more persuasive argument is that in the context of American empire it is desirable to visit the client states to convince the local allies that they are truly respected and loved by the Mandarins in Washington. That argument has some cogency as I can recall visits to overseas posts by Congressional Delegations and senior bureaucrats that largely consisted of series of briefings and social gatherings intended not necessarily to educate or inform but rather to reinforce the bond between the two nations. It is of course difficult to calculate how much such contact is worth and impossible to say whether it is justified at a time of government-wide fiscal restraint.

What is certain is that no foreign legislature enables its elected officials to travel as intensively as the U.S. Congress. And no head of state costs as much as President Obama.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

Peak Empire, Take Two

By Gary

October 28, 2014 “ICH” – Based on the lessons of history, all empires collapse eventually; thus, the probability that the US empire will collapse can be set at 100% with a great deal of confidence. The question is, When? (Everyone keeps asking that annoying question.) Of course, all you have to do is leave the US, go some place that isn’t plugged into the US economy in non-optional ways, and you won’t have to worry about this question too much. Some people have made guesses but, as far as I can tell, no one has come up with viable methodology for calculating the date. In order to provide a remedy for this serious shortcoming in collapse theory, I once tried to outline a method for figuring it out in an article titled “Peak Empire,” which was based on Joseph Tainter’s theory of diminishing returns on complexity—or diminishing returns on empire. It’s a perfect problem for differential calculus, and all those microeconomics students who are busy calculating marginal cost vs. marginal revenue, so that they can look for work in the soon-to-be-defunct shale gas industry, might take it up, to put their math talents to better use. In the meantime, here is an update, and a revised estimate.

US Empire of Bases

Just to review, as the brilliant analyst Chalmers Johnson explained, the US is an “empire of bases,” not an empire of colonies. It is not considered politically correct to annex other countries anymore. Witness the reaction to Russia taking back Crimea, even though its population has a right to self-determination, and voted 98% in favor of the idea. But, had things turned out differently, putting a NATO base in Crimea would have been just fine. Still, there are quite a few US “territories” (read “colonies”) listed in the Pentagon Base Structure report, including American Samoa, Guam, Johnston Atoll, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and Wake Islands. We should probably include Hawaii, since in 1993 the US Congress “apologized” to Hawaii for kidnapping the Queen and illegally annexing the territory. They are not giving it back, mind you, but they don’t mind saying we’re sorry, because they stole it fair and square. The same could be said for Texas, California—the whole bloody continent for that matter. But they don’t do that sort of thing any more—not too much. Sure, the US stole Kosovo from Serbia just to set up a huge NATO base there, but in general there has been a shift to controlling other countries through economic institutions—like the IMF, the WTO, and the World Bank. There has also been plenty of political subterfuge, assassinations and coups d’états, as explained by John Perkins in Confessions of an Economics Hit Man, or in Michael Hudson’s work. William Blum writes: “Since the end of the Second World War, the United States of America has…
1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically elected.
2. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
3. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
4. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
5. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.”

Only a few of these actions—such as Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Nicaragua in the 1980’s, Ukraine 2014, etc.—are well known in the US. Now here is the key point: all of this “democracy-building” requires the US to have plenty of foreign military bases. Much of the military is outsourced, so there is no need for consent of the governed any more—just their tax money. Marching in the streets in protest is a complete waste of time. Millions of people marched against the Iraq War in 2003. Did it make any difference? Secretary of State Alexander Haig remarked during a peace march in the 1980’s: “Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes”; Kissinger explained that “Soldiers are dumb, stupid animals for the conduct of foreign policy”; and CIA director William Casey made sure the US public remains completely in the dark with his famous dictum, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” (This is from his first staff meeting in 1981; it’s not a secret.) The US is completely open about its desire to subjugate the entire world—if this weren’t already obvious from its behavior.

Pentagon Base Structure Report

And so, maintaining US hegemony requires an empire of bases. How many bases? Every year the Pentagon publishes a “Base Structure Report,” which lists all the property of the military including land, buildings and other infrastructure. The latest Pentagon Base Structure report lists 4169 domestic military bases, 110 in US territories, and 576 in foreign countries, for a total of 4855. But it turns out to leave out a lot: Nick Turse of TomDispatch calculated that in 2011 the number of foreign military bases was closer to 1075.  But even though a lot is left out of the Pentagon report, it is still a good data source for us to use because, for the purpose of calculating our estimate, all we are interested in is trends, not absolute numbers. Trends require that data from year to year be reported consistently, and the Pentagon appears to be very consistent in what it reports and what it keeps secret from one year to the next. So this is a very good source by which to measure trends.

Since the US public is completely in the dark, zombified and terrified by the mass media and traumatized by psy-ops like 9/11, the empire will have to collapse on its own, without their help. I’m sorry to say this, but the American sheeple are not going to rise up and help it collapse. But when will it collapse on its own? Do we all want to know when? Ok, here goes…

Peak Empire

Total US Military acreage peaked in 2007 at 32,408,262 acres, and has been declining ever since, including a precipitous drop in 2014.  This curve of military acreage follows peak oil and peak empire theory generally quite well. I haven’t done the curve-fitting exercise, but it looks a bit like a Hubbert curve from peak oil theory. The important point is, according to total acreage the US empire has already peaked and is in decline. Note that global conventional crude oil production peaked at around the same time; you may consider that a pure coincidence if you wish.

Looking at the data from 2003-2014, we see shows a bit more detail, including a sharp downturn in 2014. The drop in total bases in 2006 and 2007 seems like a bit of an anomaly, but the trend in acreage follows the peak theory.

What is even more noteworthy is the decline in foreign military bases and acreage. The US may still have control of its domestic and territorial bases, but it has suffered huge losses of foreign military bases and acreage. Since reaching “peak foreign military bases” in 2004, the US now has just 64% of them—a loss of over a third in a decade! In the case of acreage the US retains 69% of its peak acreage in 2006, so it has lost 31% of its foreign military acreage—also close to a third. If you want to guess at what’s behind these numbers, you might want to look at them as the fallout from disastrous US foreign policy, as described by Dmitry in his article, “How to start a war and lose an empire.” Perhaps the people to whom we are bringing “freedom and democracy” are getting sick of being occupied and murdered? But, whatever the explanation, the trend is unmistakable.

But we still haven’t addressed Tainter’s central thesis of diminishing returns on empire.  Ok, let’s do that next next.

I previously showed military acreage divided by military spending declining since 1991 in constant 2008 dollars.

Bringing this up to date in constant 2014 dollars, we see that return on spending leveled off in 2010, but in 2014 the trend of decreasing returns on spending has resumed.

At the same time, US Government debt, which fuels much of this military spending, continues to climb at a steady rate, and the military acreage/debt ratio shows negative returns on debt. That is, the empire is getting negative returns in military acreage from increasing its debt burden. In their prime, empires are massively profitable ventures. But when the returns on government spending, debt and military spending all turn negative—that is when we enter the realm of diminishing returns on empire—that, according to Tainter’s theory, sets them on a trajectory that leads directly to collapse.

The collapse does not have to be precipitous. It could be gradual, theoretically. But the US economy is fragile: it depends on international finance to continue rolling over existing debt while taking on ever more debt. This amounts to depending on the kindness of strangers—who aren’t in a particularly kind mood. To wit: numerous countries, with Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa leading the way, are entering into bilateral currency agreements to avoid using the US dollar and, in so doing, to avoid having to pay tribute to the US. Just like Rome, the US empire is being attacked all over the world by “barbarians,” except the modern barbarians are armed with internet servers, laptops and smartphones. And just like Rome, the empire is busy spending billions on defending its fringes while allowing everything on the home front to fall apart from malign neglect.

Meanwhile, the US has been struggling to avoid a financial panic through lies and distortions. The US Federal Reserve has been printing $1 trillion a year just to keep US banks solvent, while selling naked shorts on gold in order to suppress the price of gold and to protect the value of the US dollar by (see Paul Craig Roberts for evidence). In truth, US employment has not recovered since the financial panic and crash of 2008, and wages have actually gone down since then, but the US government publishes bogus economic data to cover this up (See John Williams’ Shadow Stats for details). Meanwhile, there are signs that the militarized police state is getting ready to face open rebellion.

Two paths down

As we have shown, return on investment in empire has turned negative: the empire has to go further and further into debt just to continue shrinking its foreign presence by a third from its peak every decade. There are two ways out of this situation: quick and painful, or slow and even more painful.

The quick one is for the US to recognize the situation, cut its losses and abandon the project of empire, like the USSR did in 1989/90. But it must be understood that the threat of military action is what keeps countries around the world in line, forcing them to soak up US debt. Without this discipline, further money-printing will trigger hyperinflation, the financial house of cards on which the spending ability of the US government now rests will promptly pancake, and the US economy will shut down, just like in the USSR in the early 1990s.

The other option is the more likely one, since it doesn’t require making any large course adjustments, which are unlikely in any case. (You see, even in its dying days the USSR had slightly better leadership than the USSA currently does, which was actually capable of making major decisions.) This option is to simply keep smiling and waving and borrowing and spending until the empire is all gone. This will take no more than two decades at the current rate. Note that this forecast is based on a straight-line projection that doesn’t take into account any of the positive feedbacks that may hurry the process along. One positive feedback is that a smaller empire means more countries around the world thumbing their noses at the US, escaping from dollar hegemony, and making it harder for the US to continue sinking into debt at an ever faster rate. These positive feedbacks are likely to be highly nonlinear, and this makes their effect difficult to estimate.

But a moment may arrive well before empire is all gone when the suspension of disbelief that is required to keep US government finances from cratering ceases to be achievable—regardless of the level of propaganda, market distortion, or US officials smiling, waving and lying in front of television cameras. Thus, we have two estimates. The first estimate is objective and based on US government’s own data: two decades or less. But we also have room for an estimate that is subjective yet bracketed: anywhere between later today and two decades (or less) from now.

Based on these estimates, you can be as objective or subjective as you like, but if you are “long empire,” holding dollar-denominated assets and such, and if your horizon extends beyond 2034 (or less), then there is a reasonably high likelihood that you are just being silly. Likewise, if you think that NATO will come to your defense more than a decade from now, you should start reconsidering your security arrangements now, because NATO will cease to be functional on the same time scale as the US empire. Some time ago Pres. Obama issued what for him sounded like a pretty good order: “Don’t do stupid stuff.” You should probably try to follow this order too, and I am here to try to help you do so.


The Neoconservative Hit List: Iraq, Libya and now Syria? A Plan for Global US Military Supremacy

By Steven MacMillan

October 10, 2014 “ICH” – “NEO” –  1997 witnessed the birth of one of the most pivotal American think tanks in modern times, whose ideas and objectives would come to shape the foreign policy of the United States (U.S.) for decades to come. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) was founded by William Kristol, the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the Bush senior administration, and Robert Kagan, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The PNAC group’s stated objectives included the desire to “shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests” along with challenging “regimes hostile to U.S. interest and values”.

Prominent individuals who belonged to the think tank include some of the most influential politicians in America’s recent history, including the former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the Vice President of the U.S. during the George W. Bush administration, Dick Cheney, the ex President of the World Bank and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs under Ronald Regan. In September 2000, the PNAC group released a document titled: ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century’, in which the group discusses the need for the U.S. to assert its military authority around the globe to secure its strategic objectives:

“Preserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future (p.8).”

Premeditated Wars

The report then continues to advocate an increase in military spending to enable this “military capability” as well as asserting one year before 9/11 that all this would be unlikely to manifest unless there was a “new Pearl Harbour” event (p.63). In addition, the document lists a number of regimes that the group viewed as “deeply hostile to America”. “North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria” (p.63 & p.64) are all pinpointed as enemies of the U.S. well before the illegal war in Iraq in 2003, as well as the illegal 2011 war in Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria.

Further evidence was revealed in 2007 that supports the thesis that wars are premeditated by the Anglo-American elite for years prior to them being launched. This was when retired four star general and former NATO commander, Wesley Clark, disclosed a plan circulating around the Pentagon in 2001 to attack 7 countries in 5 years. The countries named mirror the ones targeted by the PNAC group, as Iraq, Syria, Iran and Libya were all listed in addition to Lebanon, Somalia and Sudan.

The reality is that all the wars of the past and the future are planned well in advance of the public ever hearing our morally repugnant politicians demanding action. Countries that resist being absorbed into the Anglo-American-European international order and allow multinational corporations to exploit their resources, are targeting for regime change well in advance of the pretext they give to intervene.

Israel is also set to benefit if the government of al-Assad is replaced with a client state of the West. A study group led by neocon Richard Perle prepared a policy document in 1996 for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, titled: ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’, in which it outlines the strategic importance of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq as well as the desire to weaken the regime in Syria:

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

Russian FM: Airstrikes on Islamic State could be used to Weaken Assad

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the world last month that the US-led airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria could also target Syrian government forces in an attempt to “weaken the positions of Bashar al-Assad’s army”. U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power, recently reiterated that Washington’s objective in Syria is the removal of al-Assad from power in Damascus and that the “moderate Syrian opposition provides the best alternative to the al-Assad regime”. What Power omits from her statement though is that IS is a key part of the “Syrian opposition” and has been battling the Syrian government – with the financing and support of the west – for years now. The reality is that the al-Assad regime will remain in power for decades to come unless the Western elite is able to justify military strikes against key military and energy targets inside Syria.

A History of Turkish False Flag Attacks on Syria

 An article by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh in April of this year titled: ‘The Rat Line and the Red Line’, argues that the gas attack last year in Ghouta was an attack carried out by the Syrian rebels with the planning of Turkish authorities as opposed to the Syrian government. In the article Hersh quotes a former intelligence official as stating: ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line’. As soon as the gas attack hit the mainstream press in the West, the calls for war went into overdrive. War was only averted due to massive public opposition to the move which forced the British parliament to vote against intervention in Syria, as well as the Russian government brokering a deal to place the Syrian government’s chemical weapons supplies under international control.

The notion that Turkey is capable of planning such a malevolent attack was strengthened when officials from the top echelons of the Turkish government were caught red handed discussing a false flag attack on their own territory, in order to justify a war with Syria earlier this year. The officials are heard discussing the possibility that they could arrange an attack on the tomb of the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman Shah, which is situated in a Turkish enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkish intelligence is heard saying in the leaked audio tape: “We can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah’s tomb if necessary”, Fidan continues, “Listen, listen commander if it’s a pretext we’ll give you one. I’ll send over four men and have them fire right rockets on an empty lot. That’s not the problem, pretexts can be arranged.

Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

From Pol Pot to ISIS: “Anything that Flies on Everything that Moves”

By John Pilger

October 09, 2014 “ICH” –  In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again.  A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told … That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”

A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”.  What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed.  Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people — in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda — like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” — seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.

It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” — from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.

Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, a medical doctor and parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office — blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.

Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water.  “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”

Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”

A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”  When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”

On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.”  The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.

Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia — as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.

The day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.

Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott — as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally,  Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces … a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned.  “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria … Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate … This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah.  The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of Nato, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.

A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (the Guardian) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.

Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.

More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”.  Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.

The United States Empire

By Bruce Fein

October 07, 2014 “ICH” – “Washington Times” – If the United States is not an empire, the word has lost all meaning.

No sparrow falls in the forest that does not provoke a national security assessment and response.

At present, we are employing military force in six countries — Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

In 2011, we reduced Libya to rubble after Muammar Gaddafi did our bidding in abandoning weapons of mass destruction and in paying more than $1 billion to compensate for the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

We are assisting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

We are deploying predator drones in Niger, Djibouti and the Seychelles.

We are assisting Uganda in its fight with the Lord’s Resistance Army.

We are assisting Nigeria in its conflict with Boko Harem.

We are committed to war against Iran if we decree it has acquired a nuclear capability.

We have tens of thousands of troops stationed in Japan 70 years after the conclusion of World War II.

We have tens of thousands of troops deployed in South Korea more than 60 years after the Korean War ended.

We have tens of thousands of troops in Europe seven decades after the defeat of Hitler and more than two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

We are committed by treaty to defending approximately 50 nations from attack, including the defense of Japan in the event of a conflict with China over a few uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

We dot the planet with hundreds of military bases.

We police the oceans with aircraft carriers, submarines and battleships.

We dominate the skies with spy satellites, stealth aircraft, and hundreds of fighters and bombers.

We have outstanding economic sanctions against 20 nations for bad behavior.

We control cyberspace with the ubiquitous collection, retention, and search of electronic communications of friend and foe alike.

We expend $1 trillion annually on national security, a sum more than the collective defense expenditures of the rest of the world.

We honor secrecy more than transparency, a quest for a risk-free existence more than liberty.

We bedeck the presidency with the trappings of a Roman emperor, including a bloated Pretorian Guard and a White House staff approaching 500. Roads are closed and traffic stops whenever the president travels.

In his July 4, 1821, address to Congress, then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams indicated the difference between then existing empires and the American republic.

The republic spoke of equal rights among nations.

Empires spoke of double standards.

The republic influenced events abroad by example.

Empires dictated to foreign nations by military force or financial manipulation.

The republic knew that chronic embroilment in foreign wars would change the fundamental maxims of her policy from liberty to force.

Empires embraced foreign wars as an earmark of greatness.

The republic glorified liberty.

Empires glorified domination.

In sum, the United States has become a full-fledged empire.

Acknowledging this truth is the first step to curing the disease. Otherwise, self-ruination will be our fate. As Abraham Lincoln presciently lectured: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

For more information about Bruce Fein, please visit brucefeinlaw.

The US and Global Wars: Empire or Vampire?

By James Petras

September 12, 2014 “ICH” – To the growing army of critics of US military intervention, who also reject the mendacious claims by American officials and their apologists of ‘world leadership’, Washington is engaged in ‘empire-building”.

But the notion that the US is building an empire, by engaging in wars to exploit and plunder countries’ markets, resources and labor, defies the realities of the past two decades. US wars, including invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, coups and clandestine operations have notresulted in the expansion of markets, greater control and exploitation of resources or the ability to exploit cheap labor. Instead US wars have destroyed enterprises, reduced access to raw materials, killed, wounded or displaced productive workers around the world, and limited access to lucrative investment sites and markets via sanctions.

In other words, US global military interventions and wars have done the exact opposite of what all previous empires have pursued: Washington has exploited (and depleted) the domestic economy to expand militarily abroad instead of enriching it.

Why and how the US global wars differ from those of previous empires requires us to examine (1) the forces driving overseas expansion; (2) the political conceptions accompanying the conquest, the displacement of incumbent rulers and the seizure of power and; (3) the reorganization of the conquered states and the accompanying economic and social structures to sustain long-term neo-colonial relations.

Empire Building: The Past

Europe built durable, profitable and extensive empires, which enriched the ‘mother country’, stimulated local industry, reduced unemployment and ‘trickled down’ wealth in the form of better wages to privileged sectors of the working class. Imperial military expeditions were preceded by the entry of major trade enterprises (British East India Company) and followed by large-scale manufacturing, banking and commercial firms. Military invasions and political takeovers were driven by competition with economic rivals in Europe, and later, by the US and Japan.

The goal of military interventions was to monopolize control over the most lucrative economic resources and markets in the colonized regions. Imperial repression was directed at creating a docile low wage labor force and buttressing subordinate local collaborators or client-rulers who facilitated the flow of profits, debt payments, taxes and export revenues back to the empire.

Imperial wars were the beginning, not the end, of ‘empire building’. What followed these wars of conquest was the incorporation of pre-existing elites into subordinate positions in the administration of the empire. The ‘sharing of revenues’, between the imperial economic enterprises and pre-existing elites, was a crucial part of ‘empire building’. The imperial powers sought to ‘instrumentalize’ existing religious, political, and economic elites’ and harness them to the new imperial-centered division of labor. Pre-existing economic activity, including local manufacturers and agricultural producers, which competed with imperial industrial exporters, were destroyed and replaced by malleable local traders and importers (compradors). In summary, the military dimensions of empire building were informed by economic interests in the mother country. The occupation was pre-eminently concerned with preserving local collaborative powers and, above all, restoring and expanding the intensive and extensive exploitation of local resources and labor, as well as the capture and saturation of local markets with goods from the imperial center.

“Empire-building” Today

The results of contemporary US military interventions and invasions stand in stark contrast with those of past imperial powers. The targets of military aggression are selected on the basis of ideological and political criteria. Military action does not follow the lead of ‘pioneer’ economic entrepreneurs – like the British East India Company. Military action is not accompanied by large-scale, long-term capitalist enterprises. Multi-national construction companies of the empire, which build great military bases are a drain on the imperial treasury.

Contemporary US intervention does not seek to secure and take over the existing military and civilian state apparatus; instead the invaders fragment the conquered state, decimate its cadres, professionals and experts at all levels, thus providing an entry for the most retrograde ethno-religious, regional, tribal and clan leaders to engage in intra-ethnic, sectarian wars against each other, in other words – chaos. Even the Nazis, in their expansion phase, chose to rule through local collaborator elites and maintained established administrative structures at all levels.

With US invasions, entire existing socio-economic structures are undermined, not ‘taken over’: all productive activity is subject to the military priorities of leaders bent on permanently crippling the conquered state and its advanced economic, administrative, educational, cultural and social sectors. While this is militarily successful in the short-run, the medium and long-term results are non-functioning states, not a sustained inflow of plunder and expanding market for an empire. Instead what we have is a chain of US military bases surrounded by a sea of hostile, largely unemployed populations and warring ethno-religious groups in decimated economies.

The US claims to ‘world leadership’ is based exclusively on failed-state empire building. Nevertheless, the dynamic for continuing to expand into new regions, to militarily and politically intervene and establish new client entities continues. And, most importantly, this expansionist dynamic further undermines domestic economic interests, which, theoretically and historically, form the basis for empire. We, therefore, have imperialism without empire, a vampire state preying on the vulnerable and devouring its own in the process.

Empire or Vampire: The Results of US Global Warfare

Empires, throughout history, have violently seized political power and exploited the riches and resources (both material and human) of the targeted regions. Over time, they would consolidate a ‘working relation’, insuring the ever-increasing flow of wealth into the mother country and theexpanding presence of imperial enterprises in the colony. Contemporary US military interventions have had the opposite effect after every recent major military conquest and occupation.

Iraq: Vampires Pillage

Under Saddam Hussein, the Republic of Iraq was a major oil producer and profitable partner for major US oil companies, as well as a lucrative market for US exports. It was a stable, unified secular state. The first Gulf War in the 1990’s led to the first phase of its fragmentation with the de facto establishment of a Kurdish mini-state in the north under US protection. The US withdrew its military forces but imposed brutal economic sanctions limiting economic reconstruction from the devastation of the first Gulf War. The second US-led invasion and full-scale occupation in 2003 devastated the economy and dismantled the state dismissing tens of thousands of experienced civil servants, teachers and police. This led to utter social collapse and fomented ethno-religious warfare leading to the killing, wounding or displacement of millions of Iraqis. The result of GW Bush’s conquest of Baghdad was a ‘failed state’. US oil and energy companies lost billions of dollars in trade and investment and the US economy was pushed into recession.

Afghanistan: Endless Wars, Endless Losses

The US war against Afghanistan began with the arming, financing and political support of Islamist jihadi-fundamentalists in 1979. They succeeded in destroying and dismantling a secular, national government. With the decision to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 the US became an occupier in Southwest Asia. For the next thirteen years, the US-puppet regime of Hamad Karzai and the ‘NATO coalition’ occupation forces proved incapable of defeating the Taliban guerrilla army. Billions of dollars were spent devastating the economy and impoverishing the vast majority of Afghans. Only the opium trade flourished. The effort to create an army loyal to the puppet regime failed. The forced retreat of US armed forces beginning in 2014 signals the bitter demise of US ‘empire building’ in Southwest Asia.

Libya: From Lucrative Trading Partner to Failed State

Libya, under President Gadhafi, was evolving into a major US and European trading partner and influential power in Africa. The regime signed large-scale, long-term contracts with major international oil companies which were backed by a stable secular government. The relationship with the US and EU was profitable. The US opted to impose a ‘regime change’ through massive US-EU missile and bombing strikes and the arming of a motley collection of Islamist terrorists, ex-pat neo-liberals and tribal militias. While these attacks succeeded in killing President Gadhafi and most of his family (including many of his grandchildren) and dismantling the secular Libyan government and administrative infrastructure, the country was ripped apart by tribal war-lord conflicts, political disintegration and the utter destruction of the economy. Oil investors fled. Over one million Libyans and immigrant workers were displaced. The US and EU ‘partners-in-regime-change’ have even fled their own embassies in Tripoli – while the Libyan ‘parliament’ operates off-shore from a casino boat. None of this devastation would have been possible under President Gadhafi. The US vampire bled its new prize, Libya, but certainly could not incorporate it into a profitable ‘empire’. Not only were its oil resources denied to the empire, but even oil exports disappeared. Not even an imperial military base has been secured in North Africa!

Syria: Wars on Behalf of Terrorists not Empire

Washington and its EU allies backed an armed uprising in Syria hoping to install a puppet regime and bring Damascus into their “empire”. The mercenary assaults have caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the displacement of over 30% of the population and the seizure of the Syrian oil fields by the Sunni extremist army, ISIS. ISIS has decimated the pro-US mercenary army, recruiting and arming thousands of terrorists from around the world It invaded neighboring Iraq conquering the northern third of that country. This was the ultimate result of the deliberate US dismantling of the Iraqi state in 2003.

The US strategy, once again, is to arm Islamist extremists to overthrow the secular Bashar Assad regime in Damascus and then to discard them for a more pliable client. The strategy ‘boomeranged’ on Washington. ISIS devastated the ineffective Iraqi armed forces of the Maliki regime in Baghdad and America’s much over-rated Peshmerga proxy ‘fighters’ in Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’. Washington’s mercenary war in Syria didn’t expand the ‘empire’; indeed it undermined existing imperial outposts.

The Ukrainian Power Grab, Russian Sanctions and Empire Building

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the US and EU incorporated the Baltic, Eastern European and Balkan ex-communist countries into their orbit. This clearly violated major agreements with Russia, by incorporating most of the neo-liberal regimes into NATO and bringing NATO forces to the very border of Russia. During the corrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin, the ‘West’ absolutely looted the Russian economy in co-operation with local gangster – oligarchs, who took up EU or Israeli citizenship to recycle their pillaged wealth. The demise of the vassal Yeltsin regime and the ascent and recovery of Russia under Vladimir Putin led the US and EU to formulate a strategy to deepen and extend its ‘empire’ by seizing power in the Caucuses and the Ukraine. A power and land grab by the puppet regime in Georgia attacking Russian forces in Ossetia in 2012 was decisively beaten back. This was a mere dress rehearsal for the coup in Kiev. In late 2013-early 2014, the US financed a violent rightwing putsch ousting the elected government and imposing a hand-picked pro-NATO client to assume power in Kiev.

The new pro-US regime moved quickly to purge all independent, democratic, federalist, bilingual and anti-NATO voices especially among the bi-lingual citizens concentrated in the South-Eastern Ukraine. The coup and the subsequent purge provoked a major armed uprising in the southeast, which successfully resisted the invading NATO-backed neo-fascist armed forces and private armies of the oligarchs. The failure of the Kiev regime to subdue the resistence fighters of the Donbass region resulted in a multi-pronged US-EU intervention designed to isolate, weaken and undermine the resistance. First and foremost they attempted to pressure Russia to close its borders on the eastern front where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians eventually fled the bombardment. Secondly, the US and EU applied economic sanctions on Russia to abandon its political support for the southeast region’s democratic and federalist demands. Thirdly, it sought to use the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for a major military build-up on Russia’s borders, expanding NATO missile sites and organizing an elite rapid interventionist military force capable of bolstering a faltering puppet regime or backing a future NATO sponsored putsch against any adversary.

The Kiev regime is economically bankrupt. Its war against its own civilians in the southeast has devastated Ukraine’s economy. Hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals, workers and their families have fled to Russia. Kiev’s embrace of the EU has resulted in the breakdown of vital gas and oil agreements with Russia, undermining the Ukraine’s principle source of energy and heating with winter only months away. Kiev cannot pay its debts and faces default. The rivalries between neo-fascists and neo-liberals in Kiev will further erode the regime. In sum, the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine has not led to the effective ‘expansion of empire’; rather it has ushered in the total destruction of an emerging economy and precipitated a sharp reversal of financial, trade and investment relations with Russia and Ukraine. The economic sanctions against Russia exacerbate the EU current economic crisis. The belligerent posture of military confrontation toward Russia will result in an increase in military spending among the EU states and further divert scarce economic resources form job creation and social programs. The loss by significant sectors of the EU of agricultural export markets, as well as the loss of several billion-dollar military-industrial contracts with Russia, certainly weakens, rather than expands, the ‘empire’ as an economic force

Iran: 100 Billion Dollar Punitive Sanctions Don’t Build Empires

The US-EU sanctions on Iran carry a very high political, economic and political price tag. They do not strengthen empire, if we understand ‘empire’ to mean the expansion of multi-national corporations, and increasing access to oil and gas resources to ensure stable, cheap energy for strategic economic sectors within the imperial center.

The economic war on Iran has been at the behest of US allies, including the Gulf Monarchies and especially Israel. These are dubious ‘allies’ for US ‘empire’ . . . widely reviled potentates and a racist regime which manage to exact tribute from the imperial center!

In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, Iran has demonstrated its willingness to co-operate in power sharing agreements with US global interest. However, Iran is a regional power, which will not submit to becoming a vassal state of the US. The sanctions policy has not provoked an uprising among the Iranian masses nor has it led to regime change. Sanctions have not weakened Iran to the extent of making it an easy military target. While sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, they has also worked against any kind of long-range empire building strategy, because Iran has strengthened its economic and diplomatic ties with the US’ rivals, Russia and China.


As this brief survey indicates, US-EU wars have not been instruments of empire-building in the conventional or historical sense. At most they have destroyed some adversaries of empire. But these have been pyrrhic victories. Along with the overthrow of a target regime, the systematic break-up of the state has unleashed powerful chaotic forces, which have doomed any possibility of creating stable neo-colonial regimes capable of controlling their societies and securing opportunities for imperialist enrichment via economic exploitation.

At most the US overseas wars have secured military outposts, foreign islands in seas of desperate and hostile populations. Imperial wars have provoked continuous underground resistance movements, ethnic civil wars and violent terrorist organizations which threaten ‘blowback’ on the imperial center.

The US and EU’s easy annexations of the ex-communist countries, usually via the stage-managed ballot-box or ‘color revolutions’, led to the take-over of great national wealth and skilled labor. However, Euro-American empires bloody campaigns to invade and conquer the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and the Caucuses have created nightmarish ‘failed states’ – continuously draining imperial coffers and leading to a state of permanent occupation and warfare.

The bloodless takeover of the Eastern European satellites with their accommodating, corrupt elites has ended. The 21st century reliance on militarist strategies contrasts sharply with the successful multi-pronged colonial expansions of the 19th – 20th century, where economic penetration and large scale economic development accompanied military intervention and political change. Today’s imperial wars cause economic decay and misery within the domestic economy, as well as perpetual wars abroad, an unsustainable drain.

The current US/EU military expansion into Ukraine, the encirclement of Russia, NATO missiles aimed at the very heart of a major nuclear power and the economic sanctions may lead to a global nuclear war, which may indeed put an end to militarist empire-building… and the rest of humanity.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

How Empires End

By Jeff Thomas 

Doug Casey’s international Man

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

September 09, 2014 “ICH” – Histories are generally written by academics. They, quite naturally, tend to focus on the main events: the wars and the struggles between leaders and their opponents (both external and internal). Whilst these are interesting stories to read, academics, by their very nature, often overlook the underlying causes for an empire’s decline.

Today, as in any era, most people are primarily interested in the “news”—the daily information regarding the world’s political leaders and their struggles with one another to obtain, retain, and expand their power. When the history is written about the era we are passing through, it will reflect, in large measure, a rehash of the news. As the media of the day tend to overlook the fact that present events are merely symptoms of an overall decline, so historians tend to focus on major events, rather than the “slow operations” that have been the underlying causes.

The Persian Empire

When, as a boy, I was “educated” about the decline and fall of the Persian Empire, I learned of the final takeover by Alexander the Great but was never told that, in its decline, Persian taxes became heavier and more oppressive, leading to economic depression and revolts, which, in turn led to even heavier taxes and increased repression. Increasingly, kings hoarded gold and silver, keeping it out of circulation from the community. This hamstrung the market, as monetary circulation was insufficient to conduct business. By the time Alexander came along, Persia, weakened by warfare and internal economic strife, was a shell of an empire and was relatively easy to defeat.

The Tang Dynasty

Back then, I also learned that the Tang Dynasty ended as a result of the increased power amongst the eunuchs, battles with fanzhen separatists, and finally, peasants’ revolts. True enough, but I was not taught that the dynasty’s expansion-based warfare demanded increases in taxation, which led to the revolts. Continued warfare necessitated increasing monetary and land extortion by the eunuchs, resulting in an abrupt decrease in food output and further taxes. Finally, as economic deterioration and oppression of the citizenry worsened, citizens left the area entirely for more promise elsewhere.

Is there a pattern here? Let’s have a more detailed look—at another empire.

The Spanish Empire

In 1556, Philip II of Spain inherited what was regarded as Europe’s most wealthy nation, with no apparent economic problems. Yet, by 1598, Spain was bankrupt. How was this possible?

Spain was doing well but sought to become a major power. To achieve this, Philip needed more tax dollars. Beginning in 1561, the existing servicio tax was regularised, and the crusada tax, the excusado tax, and the millones tax were all added by 1590.

Over a period of 39 years (between 1559 and 1598) taxes increased by 430%. Although the elite of the day were exempt from taxation (the elite of today are not officially exempt), the average citizen was taxed to the point that both business expansion and public purchasing diminished dramatically. Wages did not keep pace with the resultant inflation. The price of goods rose 400%, causing a price revolution and a tax revolution.

Although Spain enjoyed a flood of gold and silver from the Americas at this time, the increased wealth went straight into Philip’s war efforts. However, the 100,000 troops were soon failing to return sufficient spoils to Philip to pay for their forays abroad.

In a final effort to float the doomed empire, Philip issued government bonds, which provided immediate cash but created tremendous debt that, presumably, would need to be repaid one day. (The debt grew to 8.8 times GDP.)

Spain declared bankruptcy. Trade slipped to other countries. The military, fighting on three fronts, went unpaid, and military aspirations collapsed.

It is important to note that, even as the empire was collapsing, Philip did not suspend warfare. He did not back off on taxation. Like leaders before and since, he instead stubbornly increased his autocracy as the empire slid into collapse.

Present-Day Empires

Again, the events above are not taught to schoolchildren as being of key importance in the decline of empires, even though they are remarkably consistent with the decline of other empires and what we are seeing today. The very same events occur, falling like dominoes, more or less in order, in any empire, in any age:

  1. The reach of government leaders habitually exceeds their grasp.
  1. Dramatic expansion (generally through warfare) is undertaken without a clear plan as to how that expansion is to be financed.
  1. The population is overtaxed as the bills for expansion become due, without consideration as to whether the population can afford increased taxation.
  1. Heavy taxation causes investment by the private sector to diminish, and the economy begins to decline.
  1. Costs of goods rise, without wages keeping pace.
  1. Tax revenue declines as the economy declines (due to excessive taxation). Taxes are increased again, in order to top up government revenues.
  1. In spite of all the above, government leaders personally hoard as much as they can, further limiting the circulation of wealth in the business community.
  1. Governments issue bonds and otherwise borrow to continue expansion, with no plan as to repayment.
  1. Dramatic authoritarian control is instituted to assure that the public continues to comply with demands, even if those demands cannot be met by the public.
  1. Economic and social collapse occurs, often marked by unrest and riots, the collapse of the economy, and the exit of those who are productive.
  1. In this final period, the empire turns on itself, treating its people as the enemy.

The above review suggests that if our schoolbooks stressed the underlying causes of empire collapse, rather than the names of famous generals and the dates of famous battles, we might be better educated and be less likely to repeat the same mistakes.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely. Chances are, future leaders will be just as uninterested in learning from history as past leaders. They will create empires, then destroy them.

Even the most informative histories of empire decline, such as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, will not be of interest to the leaders of empires. They will believe that they are above history and that they, uniquely, will succeed.

If there is any value in learning from the above, it is the understanding that leaders will not be dissuaded from their aspirations. They will continue to charge ahead, both literally and figuratively, regardless of objections and revolts from the citizenry.

Once an empire has reached stage eight above, it never reverses. It is a “dead empire walking” and only awaits the painful playing-out of the final three stages. At that point, it is foolhardy in the extreme to remain and “wait it out” in the hope that the decline will somehow reverse. At that point, the wiser choice might be to follow the cue of the Chinese, the Romans, and others, who instead chose to quietly exit for greener pastures elsewhere.

Jeff Thomas is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments as a general principle. He began his study of economics around 1990, learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion.

Copyright © 2014 Casey Research, LLC.

Reprinted with permission from Casey Research.


American Imperialism and the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Syria and Iraq

Global Research, September 09, 2014

Flag_of_Islamic_State_of_Iraq.svg_Just one year after the Obama administration backed off on plans to bomb Syria in the face of popular opposition in the United States and the UK, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has conveniently emerged as the new pretext for launching an open imperialist assault in the Middle East.

US President Barack Obama is set to announce Wednesday, in a nationally-televised address, an unending war supposedly directed at ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. The administration has already launched airstrikes in Iraq, accompanied by the reintroduction of troops into the country. This is to be massively expanded.

Last year, the casus belli for war against Syria was the alleged chemical weapons attack on Ghouta. Claims by the imperialist powers that responsibility for these attacks lay with the Assad government were later exposed to be a calculated fraud, including by journalist Seymour Hersh in a report that was subsequently buried by the US media.

While the ostensible target of the expanded war drive in the Middle East is now ISIS, behind the scenes the American ruling class is seeking to utilize the crisis surrounding ISIS to rejuvenate the “war on terror” and prepare action against the Assad government—to finish what it started. Assad has traditionally been a close ally of both Iran and Russia, the latter a target of an escalating war drive set off by the right-wing US and German backed coup in Ukraine.

That the US is still plotting against Assad can be seen in numerous articles produced by think-tanks and foreign policy magazines. One that appeared in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs(An Army to Defeat Assad) is penned by former CIA analyst and leading Democratic Party strategist Kenneth M. Pollock, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Pollock calls for the United States to massively arm and train the current opposition forces in Syria creating an army that could defeat ISIS and topple the Assad regime, establishing a pro-US military dictatorship.

Within this context, the brutal beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by ISIS are, at the very least, well timed pretexts for US imperialism.

ISIS and the campaign against Syria

ISIS is not, as the American government and mainstream media insist, an inexplicable “evil” force or a “cancer.” The success of ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups in Syria and Iraq is very much a product of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

The relationship of the American government to ISIS follows a traditional pattern, including its relationship to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Like Al Qaeda, ISIS is a product of US intervention—the former in Afghanistan as part of the proxy war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and the latter in Syria and Iraq. In its efforts to assert control over the Middle East and Central Asia, the American ruling class has invariably relied on the most backward, reactionary elements. (See, ISIS atrocities and US imperialism)

The US, the major European powers, and their regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have all lent substantial military, political and financial support to anti-Assad groups in Syria, much to the benefit of ISIS and other extremist outfits.

Under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, the American government funneled money to Syrian opposition forces as a part of a general policy aimed at the overthrow of the Assad regime. One significant outcome of the strategy for destabilizing Syria has been the growth of Sunni extremist organizations such as ISIS.

US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed that between 2006 and 2010, the State Department provided $6 million to an Islamic group, the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD) set up by Syrian exiles in London. The money was used by the MJD to fund their satellite news operation, Barada TV, as well as activities inside Syria.

A diplomatic cable from December of 2006 laid out the State Department’s plans for antagonizing the Assad regime and destabilizing Syria that included promoting former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam and his National Salvation Front.

With the onset of hostilities in Syria in 2011, the CIA began a major gunrunning and military training operation under the guise of providing non-lethal aid to the so-called moderates in the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The covert CIA operation involved Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey purchasing weapons which have then been funneled across the Turkish border into northern Syria and distributed by intermediaries including the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Weapons caches are known to have been smuggled into Syria from Libya, Croatia, and Sudan.

This intervention of the CIA has flooded Syria with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition, as well as antitank and antiaircraft missiles.

According to C.J. Chivers, reporting for the New York Times, hundreds of military cargo flights from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Jordan and Turkey delivered at least 3,500 tons of military equipment into Syria between November 2012 and March 2013, through distribution networks set up and overseen by the CIA.

Seymour Hersh, in an April 2014 London Review of Book s article, detailed the operation of the “rat line” set up by the CIA to transport fighters and weapons from Libya into Syria.

According to Hersh, the operation was overseen by then CIA Director David Petraeus, and the Benghazi consulate, which came under attack on September 11, 2012, was being used to provide cover for the transit of weaponry.

Funding for the CIA operation, according to Hersh, was officially overseen by the British intelligence agents from MI6. Retired US soldiers were hired by front companies to procure and transport the weapons to Syria. The CIA shut down the operation after the Benghazi consulate attack, but arms and fighters continued to flow into Syria.

While supposedly intended for the rebels in the FSA, a significant number of these weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalist groups, including the Al Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

According to David Sanger, writing in the New York Times, American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats knew that most of the arms being smuggled into Syria throughout 2012 had ended up in the hands of “hard-line Islamic jihadists.” Nevertheless, the program to flood weapons into Syria and train rebel fighters continued.

A large cache of weapons from Croatia smuggled into Syria through Jordan in February 2013 ultimately ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters and other groups including Ahrar al-Sham. ISIS fighters deployed a Croatian M79 Osa anti-tank weapon against the Iraqi army during their campaign in Anbar province. ISIS fighters have also been photographed fighting in Iraq with a Croatian RBG-6 grenade launcher.

Just across the Syrian border in Jordan and Turkey, the CIA and US military have also been involved providing military training to hundreds of Syrian rebels. In an article last year, the New York Times reported that a 50-man cell trained by the CIA in Jordan was dispatched to Syria in September 2013.

The attempt by American imperialism to draw a hard line between the FSA, which it openly backs, and groups like ISIS, is a political fraud.

During the course of the Syrian conflict, thousands of fighters have defected from the FSA to al-Nusra, with entire brigades pledging their allegiance to the al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Nusra units and FSA brigades have regularly launched joint attacks against Assad’s forces.

At the end of last year a commander of the Supreme Military Council of Free Syrian Army’s eastern front, Saddam al-Jamal, pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Earlier this year, Al-Nusra and ISIS fought together in a failed attempt to defend the city of Yabroud from an attack by the Syrian military.

Baghdadi and Shishani’s US connections

As with Al Qaeda, many of those involved in the organization have a shadowy past, including connections to the United States and its major allies.

Multiple media reports about Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the current leader of ISIS, who ascended to the leadership in 2010, have revealed that he has previously been in contact with US authorities.

This episode of Baghdadi’s history has been largely downplayed in the mainstream media, which prefers to present Baghdadi as a sinister figure with an unremarkable past. It is likely that Baghdadi’s time in prison played a key role in his rapid rise to the head of the organization.

According to the Defense Department, Baghdadi was arrested by the US military in February 2004 and held as a civilian detainee at the notorious Camp Bucca until December 2004 when he was given an unconditional release. However, the former commander of Camp Bucca, Colonel Kenneth King told The Daily Beast that Baghdadi was not released from US custody until 2009.

Baghdadi was named the head of the predecessor group of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq, in May 2010, not long after the previous leaders of the organization, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, were killed in a joint military raid by American and Iraqi forces near Tikrit.

Another figure with previous ties to the US and its allies is Tarkhan Batirashvili, otherwise known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen from Georgia who became the ISIS commander of the northern sector of Syria in the summer of 2013.

According to Gordon Hahn of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in an interviewwith NPR on Friday, Shishani “joined the Georgian Army and became an expert in various weaponry and was trained under the US train and equip program to prepare Georgian military for counterinsurgency operations and counterterrorist tactics.”

After leaving the Georgian army, Shishani was arrested for illegally storing weapons, spent three years in prison, then travelled to Turkey to join an Islamic fundamentalist group fighting in Syria.

The involvement of US intelligence agencies with Chechen nationalist and Islamist organizations is longstanding. Hahn notes that “many… people in Washington…tend to downplay or deny the jihadi [Islamic fundamentalist] nature of the Caucasus Emirate,” a separatist organization in Chechnya. “There’s a certain element within Washington that seeks to portray the Chechen cause and the Caucasus Emirate as more moderate than it really is in the hope that someday, perhaps, the United States would be supporting them against Russia.”

It is worth recalling that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, was an ethnic Chechen who also had ties to US intelligence agencies. Tsarnaev’s mother and defense lawyers allege that the FBI sought to recruit Tsarnaev in order to use him as part of anti-Russian operations in Chechnya led by Islamist forces.

Whatever the specific ties between the US and leaders of ISIS, responsibility for the rise of the organization and its subsequent crimes lay squarely at the feet of American and European imperialism. In their drive to overthrow Assad, the imperialist powers have actively worked to destabilize Syria by providing weapons, money, and training to the benefit of Sunni fundamentalist elements, creating in the process a convenient pretext for the further escalation of military interventions in the region.

ISIS atrocities and US imperialism

4 September 2014

The savage murder of US journalist Steven Sotloff has provoked justifiable anger and revulsion among millions of people around the world. It is necessary, however, not only to sympathize with Sotloff and his family, but to understand the deeper causes of this tragedy.

The murder, following that of James Foley last month, is a further demonstration of both the reactionary character of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the terrible consequences of a half-century of intervention in the Middle East by US imperialism.

US Vice President Joseph Biden denounced the beheading of Sotloff in a speech at a naval shipyard in New Hampshire, declaring that US military forces would pursue ISIS to “the gates of hell.” But ISIS is not an incomprehensible emanation of Satanic evil, as portrayed by the Obama administration and the American media. It is a product of the policies of the US government over a protracted period of time.

US administrations have sought to build up the most reactionary and backward Islamic fundamentalist forces in the Middle East for many decades. Throughout the Cold War, Washington mobilized them against secular nationalist leaders viewed either as potential allies of the Soviet Union or as direct threats to the profits and property of American and European corporations.

The CIA financed and mobilized right-wing Iranian Islamists in support of the 1953 coup that ousted the liberal government of Mohammed Mossadegh, which had nationalized the largely British-owned oil industry. The US cultivated similar forces in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to undermine the regime of Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who nationalized the Suez Canal and sought military aid from the Soviet Union.

In 1977, the CIA backed the coup in Pakistan carried out by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who established a martial law regime based on Islamist fundamentalism that lasted until his death in 1988.

The security anchor of American policy in the Persian Gulf region, particularly after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran, was an alliance with the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which has long promoted the most reactionary forms of Islamic fundamentalism as an ideological bulwark for its parasitic rule.

The state of Israel pursued a similar policy, promoting the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the occupied Palestinian territories as a rival to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasser Arafat, which it viewed as the main enemy. Out of this effort would emerge Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Islamic fundamentalism became directly linked to terrorist violence through the US campaign of subversion beginning in the late 1970s against the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan. The CIA, working with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, recruited Islamic fundamentalists from all over the world, trained them in bomb-making and other terror tactics, and funneled them to the battlefield in Afghanistan. Prominent among these was the son of a Saudi construction multi-millionaire, Osama bin Laden.

The veterans of Afghanistan returned to their home countries, from Morocco to Indonesia, spreading the influence of Islamic fundamentalism into countries where it had never before existed. A key turning point was the 1990-91 Persian Gulf war, in which half a million US troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia, prompting bin Laden and other Islamists to declare the United States the main enemy.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, carried out by a group of predominantly Saudi terrorists, several of them well known to the US intelligence services, the Bush administration declared its “war on terror” against the former US allies. However, this by no means signified a break with the Islamic fundamentalists, many now operating under the umbrella of Al Qaeda, as later events would show.

There remained a murky connection between US foreign policy and the radical Islamists, most notably in Iraq, Libya and Syria, three countries ruled by secular regimes that had largely suppressed the fundamentalist groups. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq laid waste to the country, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and destroying the social and physical infrastructure. Employing the strategy of divide and rule, the US occupation deliberately stoked up Sunni-Shiite sectarian divisions, resulting in the growth of the Sunni-based Al Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of ISIS.

The US-NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 employed elements linked to Al Qaeda as its ground troops, leading to the current state of political disintegration and civil war in that country.

In Syria, the CIA and US allies such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia directly armed, financed and trained Islamic extremists to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which was allied to Iran and Russia. The recipients of US aid included both the al-Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and ISIS, which advocated an even more extreme form of Islamist terrorism than Al Qaeda, including the immediate establishment of a “caliphate” on conquered territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

When Barack Obama spoke last week of “not having a strategy” for US intervention in Syria, he was admitting, albeit inadvertently, the contradictions in US foreign policy. ISIS now threatens the US-backed puppet regime in Baghdad. But it remains a de facto ally of the US campaign of subversion in Syria aimed at overthrowing the Assad regime.

Washington is still considering how to square that circle: how to wage war against ISIS without abandoning its goal of ousting Assad, which has only become more imperative as the conflict between US imperialism and Russia over Ukraine intensifies.

In his remarks at a press conference in Estonia, President Obama denounced the crimes committed by ISIS, both the beheading of two US journalists and the slaughter of civilians and captured prisoners across northern Iraq. But Obama made no such denunciations when ISIS was perpetrating identical crimes against Syrian soldiers and civilians.

Now the late US ally against Assad is being utilized to provide one last service for American imperialism: the crimes of ISIS are to be the pretext for a massive escalation of the US military intervention in the Middle East, including stepped-up bombing in Iraq and its eventual extension into Syria, and the reintroduction of US troops on an increasing scale. Only hours after the murder of Steven Sotloff, Obama ordered another 350 US troops to Baghdad, ostensibly to reinforce the guard at the US Embassy, bringing the total American deployment to more than 1,100.

The US government will combine military aggression in the Middle East with intensified attacks on democratic rights at home. British Prime Minister David Cameron has already set the pace by using the threat of ISIS as the pretext for sweeping security measures on the streets of Britain and a crackdown on immigrants from the Middle East.

Workers in the United States and internationally must intransigently oppose all efforts to use the crimes of ISIS as a pretext for war and repression. American imperialism, having fostered Islamist terrorism, now seeks to exploit it for its own purposes. The defeat of the Islamic fundamentalists, like the defeat of all forms of capitalist reaction and violence, is the task of the working class, mobilized on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.

Patrick Martin

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