THE GLOBAL BATTLEFIELD â€“ WE ARE STANDING ON IT
The Evolution of the Bush-Rumsfeld War Doctrine
(Written in August, 2005)
By Stan Goff
Money and Mediocrity
â€œGeneral purpose money is what allows people to trade tracts of rain forest for Coca-Cola.â€
Itâ€™s also what allows some of the most mediocre political and military intellects in the last century (and that is a highly competitive claim) to create one of the most dangerous and decisive historical conjunctures we may ever witnessâ€¦ and hopefully survive.
It appeared in the most arcane of headlines, this desperate new phase in the empire that had been gestating in the tense womb of the Pentagon-White House nexus.
â€œUS military rethinking the two-war strategyâ€
It wasnâ€™t actually the military as a whole reconsidering anything, we find upon reading the article. This is a leak from high-level Pentagon insiders to the press, and more than one insider. There is an artful rebellion taking place among generals.
The first line of the article reads: â€œThe U.S. military, under stress from fighting in Iraq and protecting America from terrorism, is debating whether it can remain ready to fight two big wars at once, according to defense officials.â€ Further along, we find out that the â€œcivilian and military officials, who asked not to be identified, confirmed a report in Tuesday’s New York Times that top Defense Department planners were challenging longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at once.â€
Officials, plural. If the leak were a felony, like the Plame case, this would add conspiracy to the charge.
So what is going on, and why did this leak come at the same time that the Department of Defense published its strange and alarming â€œStrategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Supportâ€? To answer that rhetorical question, I will have to go to the strategy document itself, hot off the presses.
Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., June 2005 â€“ Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support. From the Executive Summary:
“We now confront an enemy who will attempt to engage us not only far from US shores, but also at home. Terrorists will seek to employ asymmetric means to penetrate our defenses and exploit the openness of our society to their advantage. By attacking our citizens, our economic institutions, our physical infrastructure, and our social fabric, they seek to destroy American democracy. We dare not underestimate the devastation that terrorists seek to bring to Americans at home.
“To defeat 21st Century threats, we must think and act innovatively. Our adversaries consider US territory an integral part of a global theater of combat. We must therefore have a strategy that applies to the domestic context the key principles that are driving the transformation of US power projection and joint expeditionary warfare.”
Each section of this ten-year strategy outline for the Department of Defense is headed by an italicized quote from Reich Fuehrer Bush. This is what must be borne in mind as part of any analysis of this document, which is scaring the bejeezuz out of a lot of civil libertarians. Because it is â€“ and I will describe exactly how as we go along â€“ it is a roadmap to martial law.
But it is also an outline of a strategy of abject failure. It is a strategy so ambitious, so insanely grandiose, and so interdependently complicated in any attempt to put it into practice, that time, expense, and mind-boggling complexity at every scale will render the reality a ragged effigy of its own feverish ideal.
It is, in short, a document prepared by ambitious bureaucratic functionaries to please two people who can give them what they want â€“ advancement at any cost. There cannot be any doubt, after studying this so-called strategy document that the content was developed by the metrics-worshipping sycophants of Donald Rumsfeld, and that Rumsfeld added the cartoon-like Bush quotes as a series of kisses planted firmly on his bossâ€™s ass.
But bear in mind, again, that while it is hard to underestimate the intelligence of these two powerful mooncalves, it is hard to overestimate the danger they present with control over the most expensive military apparatus in history. That is why the generals are leaking.
The Bush administration spends money. Just as money can trade rain forests for Coke, money can buy expertise. But military expertise isnâ€™t what has gotten them this far. On the contrary, they have already secured their places in history as the leaders of the most powerful military in the world that is heading to being defeated by a stateless insurgency.
In April this year, Pepe Escobar, writing for Asia Times, called the degeneration of the tactical situation for the Anglo-American occupation Iraqâ€™s â€œLebanonizationâ€ â€“ a reference to the 80s when Israeli aggression around the region catalyzed the transformation of Beirut into an apocalyptic street-war of many and shifting armed factions.
With the new constituent assembly still engaged in a monumental struggle behind the scenes over three key issues â€“ the form of â€œfederalism,â€ the fate of Kirkuk, and the disposition of Iraqâ€™s oil industry â€“each of these factions is backed by armed militias. The Kurds command the largest militia, and the second largest armed organization in Iraq, the 80,000 strong peshmerga. The Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), which dominates the constituent assembly, has fielded thousands of former Badr Brigade members, who also predominate in many of the â€œofficialâ€ Iraqi armed forces and police. The Iranian-controlled Daâ€™wa Party has organized a militia as counterweight to these two large ones. Muqtada al Sadr still controls a very substantial militia that operates almost as a government in many parts of Baghdad and Najaf. And the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) â€“ the dominant and most well-organized element within the guerrilla resistance â€“ operates in many areas throughout Anbar with strong popular support. Islamist fighters, largely from Saudi Arabia, have infiltrated Iraq and engaged in multiple actions, including firefights with the IPA.
The territorial division of these armed elements has minimized conflict between them to some extent, but the question of regional or ethnic federalism is far from resolved, and many of these armed actors are leaning forward in anticipation of politics by other means. Kirkuk has become a tinderbox of contention meanwhile, with the widening Kurd-Arab current of conflict creating a kind of political quicksand for the constituent assembly.
On July 7, 2005, Iranian Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani announced an agreement between him and Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al-Dulaimi, on a joint Iran-Iraq military cooperation agreement â€“ which surely dismayed Abazaid and Rumsfeld.
Bush, it is reported, does not read his messages, and is a â€œdonâ€™t worry, be happyâ€ kind of guy.
Just days earlier, another journalist critical of the US, Yasser Salihee â€“ working for Knight-Ridder â€“ was killed by a single bullet to the head, apparently fired by a US sniper, while he was halted at a US roadblock near his home. Salihee was researching ever more frequent reports of US-trained Iraqi paramilitaries who were engaging in death-squad style activities against anyone suspected of opposing the occupation. Less than a week later, 44-year-old Cyrus Kar â€“ an American journalist and Navy veteran working on a documentary film in Iraq â€“ was imprisoned by US occupation forces on â€œsuspicion of insurgent activity.â€ This was in the wake of The Guardianâ€™s release of a story that led with:
“Secret torture chambers, the brutal interrogation of prisoners, murders by paramilitaries with links to powerful ministries… Foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont in Baghdad uncovers a grim trail of abuse carried out by forces loyal to the new Iraqi government.”
Lebanonization is proceeding nicely, and its complexity, as in both Somalia and Lebanon, spells big trouble for US forces there.
In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan â€“ the first of two second-rate actors to have been Governor of California â€“ ordered a military intervention and occupation in Lebanon. Within weeks, some of his own closest advisors, including Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, were telling him that this was a situation ripe for disaster, and that the US forces needed to be withdrawn as soon as possible. Reagan responded more positively, however, to someone whose grasp of global politics was as limited as his own, and whose worldview was heavily informed by a kind of Billy Badass, big-dick machismo â€“ former Secretary of State and then-National Security Advisor Alexander Haig. Haig counseled Reagan that US â€œcredibilityâ€ involved â€œsticking to its guns,â€ and Reagan â€“ himself a veteran of several cinematic Westerns â€“ determined to â€œstay the course.â€
Within a year, the Marine outposts in Lebanon had become embroiled in the civil war, often trading shots with opponents they could not identify. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Vessey joined his voice to that of Weinberger, and advised Reagan that he was slipping into a Vietnam-like conundrum. Another officer, a young up-and-coming colonel working as Weinbergerâ€™s primary military advisor, also cautioned withdrawal. His name was Colin Powell.
On October 23, 1983, a mammoth truck bomb exploded in a Marine compound at the Beirut Airport, killing 241 American troops and more than 100 others. That was when Americans began to ask in earnest, what exactly are we doing there? In this case, the notion of building democracy would have choked the public with ludicrousness.
Powell would write later in his memoirs, â€œAmerica [was] sticking its hand into a thousand-year-old hornetâ€™s nest with the expectation that our presence would pacify the hornets.â€
In February 1984, Reagan announced the withdrawal from Lebanon, saying, â€œWeâ€™re not bugging out; weâ€™re just going to a little more defensible position [the ships sitting off the shores of Lebanon].â€ No doubt Reagan coached Donald Rumsfeld, then his envoy to the Middle East, on how to mangle the English language in the service of obfuscation.
Powell, it seems, still intuits trouble well (like any successful bureaucrat), maintains his Orientalist ignorance of political history, and is willing to shut up and take orders to oversee disastrous lies. He will be remembered by history as a man who gave good advice based on bad but fortuitous logic, and who got paid well for being an obedient house negro.
I said earlier that the Bush administration has not solely invested appropriated revenues in military expertise. In fact, the real political investment â€“ which is brilliant in the same sort of sociopathic way Karl Rove is said to be brilliant â€“ has been in legal advice. Money buys space and time. Money buys scientists who lie about climate change and tobacco. Money also buys a great battle-staff of lawyers.
Look not to Iraq to understand this, but to Cuba.
The Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba has long served as an offshore prison. More recently it has become a legal testing ground for the legal doctrine that underpins the Bush War Doctrine.
With the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration accelerated its push to extend military power by pressing the limits of juridical precedent, and carrying these new, precedent-establishing cases before a series of courts, dominated by Republican appointed judges.
Based on the notion that the entire world is now a metaphorical battlefield, in a â€œWar on Terrorism,â€ the administration has created a number of facts on the ground, then sought a judicial rubber stamp that will give these actions precedential power in the future expansion of their application. Over time, the metaphor of global battlefield has come to be treated by the administration and the obedient press as a literal and legally recognized reality.
One case in this regard is the concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. The other case is that of Jose Padilla, an American citizen detained without showing cause as an â€œunlawful enemy combatant.â€
The attempt to summarily try detainees on the presumption of guilt at Guantanamo Bay suffered a setback by a ruling in November 2004, when the claim that the prisoners would appear before a military tribunal was ruled illegal in a US court. The federal court held against the US government that there must be a process to determine whether detainees are entitled to protection as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. But the right to indefinitely detain without charge was not challenged by that ruling, and it is now known that several detainees were transferred to Guantanamo from countries in which the US is not engaged in hostilities â€“ possibly even the United States.
However, this ruling merely rejected the process that puts prisoners before a military bench; it did not weigh in on the question of whether the President or his representatives can simply declare anyone an â€œunlawful enemy combatantâ€ by fiatâ€¦ which is exactly what happened in the case of Jose Padilla and what has happened with the detention of Guantanamo inmates from places outside the US so-called â€œbattlespacesâ€ in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Padilla â€“ who converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Al Muhajir â€“ was detained in 2002 by the Department of Justice. On June 9th of that same year, Muhajir/Padilla was transferred from civilian control to the control of the military and incarcerated in a South Carolina navy brig.
He has not been charged with any crime; the evidence the government has indicated it has is currently too weak to make a credible case; and he has been denied legal representation.
This clear violation, using the military, of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, is obviously an attempt to push the envelope of legal precedent in order to employ surprise and indefinite detentions against anyone the executive branch determines is an â€œenemy.â€ The 5th Amendment states:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
It is not insignificant that the Bush administration is using the military to hold him out of the reach of civil law, because these actions in conjunction with the recently released Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support, which explicitly lays out plans for a kind of partial-martial law in the event of any attack which effectively puts the military in control of the movements of the entire population of the United States.
In effect, the Guantanamo and Padilla cases are designed to make actual martial law unnecessary, by introducing various measures under various precedents a de facto state of martial law which is immune to a singular de jure remedy, that is, lifting the declared state of martial law.
It is far harder to unravel a security-state legal apparatus that is composed of dozens of individual legal precedents than to mount an opposition to a declared state of emergency.
Letâ€™s look at the background.
Within a month of September 11th, the executive branch jumped completely over an acquiescent Congress with executive fiats that established the following:
“A directive empowering the attorney general to authorize the indefinite detention of some non-citizens, a rule that could affect â€œhundreds of individuals,â€ according to the Justice Department.
“An order to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to carry out â€œvoluntaryâ€ interviews of more than 5,000 mostly Middle Eastern men, ages 18 to 33, who are living in the US, ostensibly to gather information concerning future terrorist attacks.
“A new policy on visa applications affecting men, ages 16 to 45, from 25 Middle Eastern and African countries. All such applicants will face intense scrutiny and long delays in the processing of their requests. Their names will be checked against databases maintained by the FBI.
“The suspension of running tallies by the Justice Department of the number of people rounded up by law enforcement agencies in the anti-terror dragnet.” (WSWS, November 2001)
The basis for this collection of discrete orders (as opposed to laws) is, in fact, the same basis that must be established to impose martial law â€“ it is just a matter of degree.
This entire legal edifice is erected, however, on a very shaky foundation â€“ the â€œstate of national emergency.â€
This â€œstateâ€ was actually enacted by an Executive Order on September 14, 2001, three days after the World Trade Center collapsed and at a point when the number of Congress members with enough sand left to resist the stampede could be counted on one hand. That actual order can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010914-5.html. This Executive Order claims its authority from the National Emergencies Act (NEA)(50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code. The problem here is that the Executive Order cites the NEA as follows:
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and in furtherance of the proclamation of September 14, 2001, Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks, which declared a national emergency by reason of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States, I hereby order as follows:”
One little glitchâ€¦ nothing in the NEA gives the President Constitutional authority to declare shit, if I may be short. You can pore over either document until the cows come home, and no such authority exists. Moreover, his proclamation of September 14 has all the legal validity of a Shakespeare sonnet.
Only Congress is legally authorized to make such declarations. The Constitution does not authorize the President to unilaterally declare such an emergency, therefore it surely does not authorize him to impose any form of emergency measures to meet it. The reason this gross usurpation of Congressional authority happened was because Congress itself, with precious few exceptions, displayed the most craven and opportunistic cowardice in the face of this administration, and now they are as loathe as any neo-con nutcase to admit they screwed this one up. So this illegality stands to this day. But there is moreâ€¦
According to United States Code, Title 50, Chapter 34, Sub-chapter II, Section 1622, once a state of emergency is declared (by the legal method), it must by law undergo a Congressional review and approval for any extension a minimum of every six months.
Not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, and not later than the end of each six-month period thereafter that such emergency continues, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated.
This language is not ambiguous. Yet fiat-detention, as Executive Orders, are fundamentally predicated on an existing state of national emergency that has not been brought under review for a joint resolution of Congress since it was unilaterally declared.
The basis for extension of military rule through precedent until now has been this thoroughly unchallenged state of national emergency, one which presumes without explanation that there is a state of war, with no clear definition of who the enemy is, and with the presumptive battleground conceivably covering every square inch of the earth.
There are two things which have given the administration the green light for this abuse of power: (1) Congressional cowardice, and (2) failure of anyone to successfully challenge the notion of a â€œglobal battlespace.â€
The latter could become tougher as time goes on. Just as the specious claim that Iraq was harboring Islamist â€œterroristsâ€ has been transformed into a reality by the actions of the United States, the provocations of the Bush administration based on the metaphor that the world is a battlefield could very well serve to make it into a frightening reality.
And this administration knows it.
Thatâ€™s why the Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support (SHDCS) begins with the assumption that such an attack in inevitable within the next ten years.
The ride-em-cowboy military adventurism of the Reagan administration in Lebanon became an embarrassment, but they managed to leave without pulling down an entire system around them. Reagan went on to conduct its own illegal terror campaign against Nicaragua, evade prosecution for a host of felonies related to the Iran-Contra affair, rescue a wrecked US economy by conducting an IMF hold-up of Mexico, and bequeath its most criminally-inclined diplomatic reptiles to the current administrationâ€¦ and still live to become a conservative icon.
But the Bush administration is now affording many of the same ministerial malefactors â€“ from Rumsfeld to Negroponte â€“ a second opportunity to fail grandly, but this time they are working madly to ensure that all failures become systemic failures. It is alarming, true enough, but also fascinating to watch in the same way we are fascinated by the film of a parachutist whose canopy never opens.
The key to this inevitable crash is something referred to dozens of times in the SHDCS as â€œintegration.â€ Integration refers to the standardization of equipment and operational procedures across the boundaries of international law enforcement and military action, across the boundaries of federal, state, and local authorities, and across the boundaries of military doctrine and police doctrine. This amounts to the conceptual simplification of numerous complex official-social systems, and an attempt to bring these systems more nearly under the singular control of the American executive branch.
While the SHDCS nods to flexibility and agility again and again, the general thrust of the â€œstrategyâ€ is to place that flexibility and agility in the hands of a tiny international general staff â€“ the US National Command Authority â€“ and this is an inevitably fatal contradiction. The whole notion of tactical agility, which Rumsfeld has fallaciously interpreted from warfighting theorist John Boyd, is based on direct and concrete observation at every scale of battle.
The Achilles heel of this entire concept is precisely in the realm of observation. The Bush administration blundered into its current Iraqi quagmire because of its insistence on perceptual conformity, and its unwavering tendency to seek evidence to support its own preconceptions. In Boydâ€™s theory of warfighting â€“ designed by the way for local combat and not national strategy â€“ all actions are taken in the context of a decision cycle, which begins with observation and orientation, and ends with decision-action. The efficacy of action is directly related to the accuracy of observation and appropriateness of orientation. In other words, if the observation is faulty, the whole repeating decision cycle spirals down to disaster.
Like the Iraqis greeting the American occupation as liberators. They believed thatâ€¦ because that is what they wanted to believe.
In the SHDCS, among all the deadening bureau-chatter of integration, we find the most Orwellian notion of all â€“ expressed in that uniquely one-dimensional manner of the military (and certain socially adept psychopaths) as â€œshared situational awareness,â€ which is assigned its own acronym: SSA.
“Shared situational awareness is defined as a common perception of the environment and its implications. All domestic and foreign partners within the homeland defense mission space require situational awareness for three reasons: to identify threats as early and as distant from US borders as possible; to provide ample time for an optimal course of action; and to allow for a flexible operational responseâ€¦ the US government continues to make great strides in overcoming obstacles to shared situational awareness.” (page 23, SHDCS)
No wonder the generals are afraid.
One example given of how SSA has worked was how â€œthe American law enforcement community worked with its international counterparts to thwart international drug cartels and worldwide crime syndicates.â€
“Today, transnational terrorists have blurred the traditional distinction between national security and international law enforcement. Together with the development of other security threats, this expanded national security challenge necessitates an unprecedented degree of shared situational awareness among Federal agencies, with state, local, tribal, and private entities, and between the United States and its key partners.” (page 23, SHDCS)
â€œIntegrationâ€ is based on perception-integration. But perception-integration can easily become, in fact likely will become a thoroughly mismatched perception and reality, and with that we enter the mismatch-spiral to breakdown.
Having Your Cake and Eating it Too
Excerpts from the SHDCS:
“The scope of DoDâ€™s role in preventing terrorist attacks within the USD land domain is defined by the Presidentâ€™s constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and limited by statutory authority related to military support of civilian law enforcement. Domestic security is primarily a civilian law enforcement function. (page 26)
“If circumstances warrant, the President and the Secretary of Defense may direct military forces and assets to intercept and defeat threats on US territory. When conducting land defense missions on US territory, DoD does so as a core, warfighting mission, fulfilling the Commander in Chiefâ€™s Constitutional obligation to defend the nation.” (page 27)
One can only wonder whether capitalization of â€œConstitutionalâ€ in the second claim and non-capitalization in the first are Freudian slips. This is not as clear-cut a contradiction as many distressed civil libertarians have claimed in their first startled reaction to this document.
They are not yet trying to have their cake and eat it, too. They have just baked two cakes.
The keywords are prevention and defense, and they are also monotonously repeated throughout the SHDCS. For the decisive transfer of power to the military on US soil, there must at least be the (perceived) presence of actual attackers.
There are actually five interlocking strategies presented in this document: a National Security Strategy (euphemism for their more militarized foreign policy), a National Strategy for Homeland Defense (which falls under the Department of Homeland Security), a National Defense Strategy (which is a DoD responsibility to attack hypothetical enemies before they reach our shore), and the strategy outlined in the document under review â€“ the SHDCS, which describes how the military will interact with other agencies inside the US, before and during an attack.
What brings them all together conceptually is â€œshared situational awareness,â€ under the direction of the new intelligence tsar and former Reagan accomplice, John Negroponte. What brings them all together symbolically (and legally â€“ unless and until this concept is successfully challenged) is the â€œglobal battlespace.â€ What brings them all together operationally is the enhancement of executive authority asserted using the global battlespace premise, and secured through Congressional cowardice and opportunism.
Congress could reassert itself any time to demand a review of the presidential declaration of a state of national emergency, and on very sound Constitutional grounds. They just donâ€™t.
Homeland defense is named as the responsibility of the DoD, but on page 5 of the SHDCS â€œhomeland defenseâ€ is defined as â€œprotection of US sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure against external threats or aggression, or other threats as directed by the President.â€ (italics mine)
What the SHDCS does that leaves the door open to transgress these jurisdictional boundaries is insert elastic clauses that will be left ultimately to the interpretation of Federal judges, who have now been largely appointed by Republicans. It states that DoDâ€™s responsibility is to address external threats, then leaves a clause, â€œother threats as directed by the President,â€ that must be interpreted after action is taken to provide wiggle room. While our eye is on the institutional demarcation between military/non-military, we might miss the consolidation of power to interpret before action is taken in the hands of the President, who is not only the Commander in Chief of the military, but the intelligence tsarâ€™s and Attorney Generalâ€™s boss.
They have one cake. And they can eat another.
But the cakes are poison.
We have already briefly analyzed the situation in Iraq. The wholly pessimistic prognosis there seems to be utterly ignored by the SHDCS, which banters along in the tone-deaf language of Rumsfeldâ€™s metric-entranced toadies, even mentioning the integral necessity of building and maintaining foreign bases in order to make this febrile dream work.
Rumsfeld himself could read this very analysis, and anything I write here would be absolutely lost on him. His inability to go beyond his own empiricism is a reflection of his own narcissism â€“ self-referential above all, grandiose, convinced of his infallibility evening the face of evidence to the contrary, manipulative, incapable of genuine empathy. It works, because there is a match between personality and system here. He is the perfect Secretary of Defense, but he has come with an administration and an epoch that is transforming the offensive power of the United States military into the central instrument of imperial decline.
On July 7th, 2005, we woke to the news of a coordinated attack against the transit system of London. The attacks coincided with a G-8 Summit meeting in Glasgow, the award of the 2012 Olympics to London, and a systematic attack against all foreign diplomats in Baghdad. I do not mean to imply that there is some conspiratorial connection between these phenomena. The connections are emblematic.
This attack happened in London, a metropolitan city that has long ago blurred the distinctions between military and police functions in its attempt to hang onto power in Northern Ireland, and a city already accustomed â€“ if anyone ever becomes accustomed â€“ to bombing as a method of asymmetric warfare.
Over 50 people were killed and more than 700 wounded. The city screeched to a halt. Stocks fell around the world. Travelerâ€™s insurance jumped. The US was put on a heightened state of alert. Emergency systems in London were strained to the limit.
There are predictable expressions of shock and â€œdeterminationâ€ from Bush. Blair is visibly shaken. But a glance at the SHDCS shows that this was expected. That it happened in London was a bit off the script, because the clear expectation, written between every line of the SHDCS is that it will happen in the United States.
The document is surprisingly honest about the vulnerabilities in the US, in fact mentioning for the first time â€“ which I had written about in December 2003 – how general aviation aircraft, light airplanes from private fields, could be employed as a poor-manâ€™s Cruise missile against nuclear or chemical plants.
None of the goals for the imposition of domestic population control were met in the wake of September 11th. The left stood up first and defied the administration within days, while the national blood was still burning with the desire for revenge, and that push-back was extremely significant in creating a space for doubt, about official narratives, about the wisdom of accepting the Bush population control measures, about the characterization of the post-9-11 period as a â€œcrusade,â€ and about the attempt to throw down a gauntlet that said, â€œYou are with us, or you are with the terrorists.â€ This may have been the biggest unacknowledged victory of progressive forces in the US in many years, and it created the conditions for a rapidly assembled and vital antiwar movement later.
The â€œwith us, or with the terroristsâ€ language is reproduced in the SHDCS.
“Terrorists will try to shape and degrade American political will in order to diminish American resistance to terrorist ideologies and agendas.” (Page 9)
Ergoâ€¦ anyone who opposes this plan is complicit in â€œdegrading American political willâ€ and therefore participating in a â€œterrorist agenda.â€
This is where they wanted to go after 9-11, but that part of their plan failed big. So they need that next attack, and they are on a policy trajectory that makes it a near certainty. There is not the slightest need for the Bush administration to build-their-own terror attack. Their stubborn refusal to change course in Southwest Asia, their aggressive militarism around the world, and the unspeakable technological power of the US armed forces, all make an attack almost inevitable. When no one anywhere can credibly face down such a powerful military head on, then they have no choice but to bend to the will of the US or fight back using asymmetric methods.
As Iâ€™ve pointed out before, the fact that many of the very formations that feel they are in this exact corner are now non-state actors, so there is no effective mechanism for either disabling their parent institution (the state) or attempting to apply a kind of point-by-point revenge. Any actions now taken by the US military in response to any attack has a better chance of making more enemies than defeating some enemies. And as the SHDCS accurately states in somewhat more elliptical language, the US is a sprawling collection of hundreds and hundreds of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the form of infrastructure, that are pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction waiting for anyone who is so inclined to activate them. Exposed water supplies, poorly protected research labs, toxic chemical plants (over a hundred near populations of a million or more), and 103 licensed nuclear power facilities.
London today. Where tomorrow?
In another example of the psychotically flat language of this document, these kinds of attacks are referred to in the SHDCS as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks (CBRNE), and the response to them â€“ which is discussed repeatedly and at length throughout this â€œstrategyâ€ â€“ is called â€œCBRNE consequence management.â€ I swear to readers that I did not make that up.
There is a plan within a SHDCS plan, as I stated earlier, to impose martial law that is not martial law. This is what aroused civil libertarian watchdogs, who rightly believe that the Bush administration would set up concentration camps for all of us if given half a chance. The fact that they donâ€™t, however, is an indication that they canâ€™t (at least for now) and the reason I find it personally impossible to fantasize yet about building escape tunnels under my house or emplacing food caches throughout the local pine-barrens.
The statement that â€œTerrorists will try to shape and degrade American political will in order to diminish American resistance to terrorist ideologies and agendas,â€ as a bullet point in this military strategy overview certainly should give us pause, and it definitely support the idea that this administration wants to exercise that kind of population control. And I have already outlined how they are laying the legal groundwork to go after political enemies.
In the SHDCS, on more than one occasion, it states, â€œAt the direction of the President or the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense executes military missions that dissuade, deter, and defeat attacks upon the United States, our population, and our critical defense infrastructure.â€
This is interesting on two counts: (1) It give the Secretary of Defense unprecedented power by using the conjunction â€œor.â€ (2) It says the military can be used inside the United States to protect itself through the expansion of â€œitselfâ€ to include â€œcritical defense infrastructure.â€
The document does not say â€œAt the direction of the President and the Secretary of Defense,â€ which would indicate a chain of command and accountability, but â€œAt the direction of the President or the Secretary of Defense,â€ which implies (a) that the SecDef can take it upon himself to make one of these momentous decisions, and (b) that if a decision is later scrutinized for who was responsible, the President can plausibly deny he had anything to do with it. Using these accountability cut-outs was one key way that Rumsfeld evaded any responsibility in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
But it is also interesting in a third way. Congress is nowhere mentioned. Apparently the DoD already finds itself in a position to assume that the war making powers formerly residing exclusively in Congress have now effectively passed exclusively to the executive branch. It seems to be a fait accompli that the US can now go to war without any declaration of war, that it can claim a state of war as the basis for declaring the entire world a battlefield without a declaration of war, and that it can demand all the international rules and conventions relating to war apply to the US as protections but that these same rules and conventions do not apply to the US as they relate to US actions.
The SHDCS did not accomplish the concentration of power in the hands of the Presidency. Congress abdicates its own power every day that it continues to allow this to go on.
It is the combination of this concentration of fiat-power in the presidency and the redefinition of â€œforce protectionâ€ for the military as including â€œcritical infrastructureâ€ that lays the foundation for a state of partial-martial law that effectively functions as martial law. Later in the same document, it states, â€œDoD will continue to transform military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the forward regions, approaches, US homeland, and global commons.â€ Here they are explicitly stating that the military can and will operate inside the United States.
Further along, â€œThe Department is also responsible for protecting DoD personnel located in US territory.â€ This is fairly common sense and not alarming in and of itself. Of course, DoD will protect its own inside the US. But when the definition of â€œforce protectionâ€ is expanded to include â€œcritical infrastructure,â€ and force protection comes to mean capability protection, the SHDCS then claims the right to move on
â€œcritical defense assetsâ€¦ located at public or private sites beyond the direct control of DoDâ€¦ [that] could include elements of the Defense Industrial Base, which is a worldwide industrial complex with capabilities to perform research and development and design, produce, and maintain military weapons systems, subsystems, components, or parts to meet military requirementsâ€¦ defense critical infrastructure could also include selected civil and commercial infrastructures that provide the power, communications, transportation, and other utilities that military forces and DoD support organizations rely on to meet their operational needs.
“In addition, the President or the Secretary of Defense might direct US military forces to protect non-DoD assets of national significance that are so vital to the nation that their incapacitation could have a debilitating effect on the security of the United States.”
It doesnâ€™t take much imagination to figure out how broadly this can be interpreted. The ability to take over roads alone effectively puts the military in a position to completely control the populationâ€¦ effectively martial law.
It even goes so far as to say that â€œDefense contractors must be able to maintain adequate response times, ensure supply and labor availability, and provide direct logistic support in times of crisis.â€ Ensure labor availability? How do they plan to do that, exactly?
In the United States of America, where there are an average of four firearms per household, Donald Rumsfeld is going to form press-gangs of labor? Yeah, right! This is the reason Iâ€™m not building my tunnel and stocking canned food under tree roots yet.
The reality of Full Spectrum Dominance is that it is actually Full Spectrum Delusion. The United States military cannot even secure a military victory in Iraq, and this mad document from the Pentagon is talking about establishing martial law over 290 million armed people over a 9,631,418 square kilometer land mass. This is their plan? They are going to accomplish it with whom exactly? Do they honestly believe that American soldiers will impose this kind of control on US populations? Moreover, do they believe in an real mass casualty emergency that soldiers will stay buttoned quietly down in their posts while a radiological clouds leaking from a destroyed reactor wafts gently toward their families?
And where will the money come from? The military is already driving the national debt and current account deficit through the stratosphere, and the war in Iraqâ€™s cost is being borne in larger and larger part by the real target of US international intrigue, China, who now owns $120 billion in US debt.
Unless we are prepared to accept that everyone at the Pentagon, from Rumsfeld down, is clinically insane, we cannot take this document seriously as a plan, but only as the basis for using an emergency as the pretext for rounding up and neutralizing their political opposition.
This is the pretext for the selective application of partial-martial law.
The Anonymous Generals
This is not what most generals signed up to do. And while a significant number of them have evolved into the twisted bureaucratic creatures we see in the guise of John Abazaid or Rumsfeldâ€™s pet weasel, Mark Kimmett, many of these senior officers are watching Iraq with growing dismay, even as they have seen the development of this creepy little Metrics Novella of the Apocalypse being scratched and sniffed through its composition in the Pentagon.
In February, 2003, Mike Davis wrote Slouching Toward Baghdad.
“Imperial Washington, like Berlin in the late 1930s, has become a psychedelic capital where one megalomaniacal hallucination succeeds another. Thus, in addition to creating a new geopolitical order in the Middle East, we are now told by the Pentagon’s deepest thinkers that the invasion of Iraq will also inaugurate ‘the most important ‘revolution in military affairs’ (or RMA) in two hundred years.’
“According to Admiral William Owen, a chief theorist of the revolution, the first Gulf War was ‘not a new kind of war, but the last of the old ones.’ Likewise, the air wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan were only pale previews of the postmodern blitzkrieg that will be unleashed against the Baathist regime. Instead of old- fashioned sequential battles, we are promised nonlinear ‘shock and awe.’
“Although the news media will undoubtedly focus on the sci-fi gadgetry involved – thermobaric bombs, microwave weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), PackBot robots, Stryker fighting vehicles, and so on – the truly radical innovations (or so the war wonks claim) will be in the organization and, indeed, the very concept of the war.
“In the bizarre argot of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation (the nerve center of the revolution), a new kind of ‘warfighting ecosystem’ known as ‘network centric warfare’ (or NCW) is slouching toward Baghdad to be born. Promoted by military futurists as a ‘minimalist’ form of warfare that spares lives by replacing attrition with precision, NCW may in fact be the inevitable road to nuclear war.”
Davis had put his finger on another reality that the more adroit among the Pentagon Admiralty understands. If the Rumsfeld doctrine continues to fail, as it is failing spectacularly in Iraq, how does the Untied States pursue it â€œintegratedâ€ long-term strategy, not to fight terrorists, but to encircle China, isolate Russia, and establish control through forward basing in strategically essential Southwest Asia?
Rumsfeld has dismantled his pre-â€œrevolutionaryâ€ military capacity, and taken his â€œminimalistâ€ revolution in military affairs into a dangerous impasse, where the whole world is alert not to US strength, but that the giant is hopelessly entangled in Iraq, while China bids for Unocal and Latin America drifts away on the tectonic political plate of Bolivarianismo. Europe flirts with Russia, and China invests in the Caribbean. In the Persian Gulf, Persia itself â€“ Axis of Evil member Iran â€“ is emerging in the tortured realpolitik of US intervention as a new power center, and just this month signed a military cooperation pact with the government of occupied Iraq.
Davis asked in his 2003 article just two months before the premature climax of Shock and Awe:
“But what if the RMA/NCW’s Second Coming of Warfare doesn’t arrive as punctually promised? What happens if the Iraqis or future enemies find ways to foil the swarming sensors, the night- visioned Special Forces, the little stair-climbing robots, the missile-armed drones? Indeed, what if some North Korean cyberwar squad (or, for that matter, a fifteen-year-old hacker in Des Moines) manages to crash the Pentagon’s ‘system of systems’ behind its battlespace panopticon?
“If the American war-fighting networks begin to unravel (as partially occurred in February 1991), the new paradigm – with its ‘just in time’ logistics and its small ‘battlefield footprint’ – leaves little backup in terms of traditional military reserves. This is one reason why the Rumsfeld Pentagon takes every opportunity to rattle its nuclear saber.”
In their own subdued roundabout manner of Washington intrigue, the generals leaked the story that the US has lost the capability to execute the so-called two-war doctrine. They may only intuit the implications â€“ implications that go far, far beyond the concern they have for how Rumsfeld and his whiz-kids have ripped up and wasted the institution to which they devoted their entire lives.
And they may understand the implications of the SHDCS when it is placed in the context of this global impasse. If things are about to get much rougher internationally, then they have to prepare to get a lot rougher domestically.
The US is not attempting to build an empire, but to salvage one in a late state of decay. And the strange collection of rulers currently running amok in the executive branch are not angling to â€œintegrateâ€ any defense of the people. They are building a rampaging nuclear terror state.
And, as Audre Lorde once said, â€œYour silence will not protect you.â€