The West in vain tries to find
a form of agony worthy of its past
- E M Cioran
Enduring Freedom is how the United States government defined its
official, military response to 9/11. It should have been Operation Infinite
Justice; but then some apparatchik found out that also happened to be a
definition of God. Ten years after 9/11, facts on the ground spell out a world
shocked and awed to endure war rather than justice, while freedom, shrinking by
the minute, is just another word for everything left to lose.
Osama bin Laden used to define 9/11 as Yaum Niu York ("the day of New
York"). Little did the now decomposed corpse at the bottom of the Arabian Sea know he would unleash an early 21st century conformed
as a wasteland littered with militarized newspeak .
Ground Zero spawned the George Bush-designated global war on terror
(GWOT), a nonsensical war against a tactic. A more realistic Pentagon called it The
Long War. United States national security morphed into Homeland Security.
The threatened hyperpower rushed to manufacture a fearful civil liberty
shredder, the Patriot Act, approved by Bush on October 2001, and
enshrined as permanent in March 2006.
For Washington, 9/11 was never about blowback. It happened because of a dysfunctional
system displaying failure of imagination. After the fact, world
public opinion never ceased to be massaged by an army of message force
multipliers, from defense specialists to security experts.
And an array of Code Oranges, elevated security concerns and specifics-free
warnings kept the US masses on its toes.
Faster than the speed of rumor, Humint, Sigint, Imint (human, signals
and imagery intelligence), backed up by Techint and CI (technical
and counter intelligence) merged into a swarm of psyops (usually relying
on bad humint). But for all its technical wizardry, the US government botched
the elusive goal of Total Information Awareness (TIA) - a megalomaniac,
Dr Strangelove-style project by the Pentagon's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research
After the end of the USSR, a flimsy al-Qaeda had been elevated to the
status of global bogeyman. That was in reference to al-Qa'eda al-Askariyya
("the military base"), an obscure outfit whose existence was officially
acknowledged on February 23, 1998 as part of a World Islamic Front to fight Jews
and Christians, founded at a meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Bin Laden always characterized al-Qaeda as a training-and-fighting, loose
network - as much as he exhorted the cavalry of Islam to do battle. Bin
Laden was essentially a fundamentalist Wahhabi who felt a duty to fight jahiliyya
("ignorance") - understood as much in Egyptian fundamentalist Sayyid Qutb's
sense (as infidel Arab regimes), as in the ignorance predominant before the
arrival of Islam in the 7th century.
Instead of being bombed to the stone age, Pakistan under then-president
Pervez Musharraf (or "Busharraf") joined GWOT. In a planetary screenplay, jihadis
- or Islamo-fascists - were universally depicted as the bad guys, while
the mujahideen had been the good guys when still promoted as freedom
fighters during the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban were duly bombed out of power. Bin Laden and Ayman
al-Zawahiri escaped from Tora Bora to a black void. And then the dark
side became the new normal.
Burn, trillions, burn
Bush's Iraq adventure - sold to the world by Curveball, aka phony Iraqi
defector Rafid Ahmed Alwan - was the first war in history entirely paid by
credit card. By 2008, Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes calculated the
Afghanistan/Iraq wars were costing up to $5 trillion - and counting. Direct US
government spending alone was roughly $2 trillion, and counting - $17,000 for
every US household.
Back in 2002, real power in Washington revolved around the Office of Special
Plans - that Soviet-sounding unit bent to prove there was a direct link
between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Everybody else would be off-message - also as
in critics of the war after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
For the neo-cons - who knew absolutely nothing about Iraq - what counted was
the positive domino theory; invading Iraq would set up a wave of
democracy all across the Arab world. Arabs would finally become model
The Bush-Dick Cheney junta may have enshrined pre-emptive war (justified
by international law only when there's an imminent danger). That was the Bush
doctrine, announced in January 2002. But after Shock and Awe,
the Iraq muqawama ("resistance") had other ideas.
Sunni Iraqis rallied around "resistance" instead of "national liberation", as
the Americans preferred the innocuous insurgency, whose connotations
avoid the reality of revolt, revolution and civil war.
Soon martyrdom operations - what the West calls suicide bombing, and
what used to be known in Arabic as amaliyya intihariyya ("suicidal
mission") - were the law of the land. Every newscast was dripping with improvised
explosive devices (IEDs) - later developed into VBIEDs, vehicle-borne
IEDs; radiological dispersal devices (aka dirty bombs); and explosively
formed penetrators. There was no safe haven for anybody (a
tautology, since a haven must be safe).
The hyperpower was now ruled by a ticking bomb principle - according to
which the US could not afford to play by the rules anymore. Yet there
was always a scarcity of actionable information. Thus the constant
tweaking of the rules of engagement; the US Marines, for instance,
followed shout, show, shove, shoot - where "shoot" almost always trumped
the other three.
Tweaking the rules inevitably led to an alternative set of procedures ;
controversial interrogation techniques, enhanced interrogation techniques,
harsh interrogation techniques and even dark art deployed
against alleged enemy combatants (the pre-9/11 distinction between enemy
and unlawful combatant had totally vanished).
It was imperative to send scores of enemy combatants or high value terrorist
suspects to the Baghdad Correctional Facility - aka Torture
Central Abu Ghraib, where biscuits (Behavioral Science Consultation
Teams, trained in Fort Bragg's SERE - Survival, Evasion, Resistance and
Escape - school) would conduct interrogation.
Biscuits were introduced into the famous detention facility Guantanamo
by Major General Geoffrey "we gotta Gitmo-ize" Miller and then -
successfully - transported to Abu Ghraib. Gitmo-ize meant the gory spectacle of
forced nudity, hooding, men shackled in painful stress positions, dog
attacks, walling and waterboarding - a remix of the Vietnam-era pump
and dump (pump them for information and then dump their bodies).
Excesses of course were not caused by George "you have to treat these detainees
like dogs" Miller's policies, but by a few bad apples. And damn those quaint
The world was also introduced to extraordinary rendition - aka state
kidnapping and deportation - via a flotilla of Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) ghost planes. The practice of outsourcing torture was in
fact contract killing handed over to the security agencies of Egypt, Jordan,
Syria, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and rough ally Uzbekistan,
much adept at boiling of body parts and electroshocks on genitals.
Blackwater - later renamed Xe - became the Holy Grail of the mercenary-evangelical
complex, making a killing in Iraq, as well as hordes of defense
contractors and private security contractors - aka mercenaries.
Apologists of the August 2002 torture memo wildly cheered American
troops who subscribed to the torture crowd, while smirking over torture
lite. For Dick "Angler" Cheney, waterboarding was a "no-brainer", a
"dunk in the water".
But then Iraq became a quagmire. The Bush-Cheney junta chose to dodge a
Babel of war assessments and a benchmark hell in Iraq by
ordering a surge, while building Fortress Baghdad - aka the US
Embassy, the largest in the world.
And then the war in Afghanistan, like a bat out of hell, came out of a
prolonged coma with a vengeance, and morphed into an American/European war
against Pashtuns, first-class warriors who have defeated every empire in sight.
The recipe for a Western "victory" was yet another surge.
Our way or the highway
The Pentagon's Long War couldn't do it; people in Northern Africa did it. The Arab
Spring defeated 9/11, and defeated al-Qaeda. It even defeated Osama bin
Laden before the Abbottabad raid (essentially a targeted assassination
performed by a commando after the invasion of the aerial space of a sovereign
But just as the Arab Spring also seemed to have defeated the fallacy of that
Holy Triad - Islamophobia, the clash of civilizations and the end of
... Everything turned kinetic, via Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Washington, London and Paris decided to ditch international law as it was in
effect since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. R2P - "responsibility to
protect" civilians - had its ballistic baptism, the perfect humanitarian
cover for the defense of Atlanticist economic and strategic interests. With the
added benefit of Nobel Peace Prize winner and multiple war developer Barack
Obama presiding over the metamorphosis of NATO into a global Robocop - with or
without a UN green light. The West's got a brand new bag; a global militia.
Iraq - bypassing the United Nations - was about regime change. Libya -
with UN blessing - was also about regime change, even though Obama swore it
Ten years after 9/11, The Long War metamorphosed into fourth-generation warfare
- theoretically "new" asymmetric warfare cum counter-insurgency. Welcome
to the CIA as a paramilitary militia. Welcome to Dronistan - General Atomics
MQ-1 Predators targeting militants and indulging in the odd collateral
damage - as in terminating Pashtun weddings.
And welcome to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), developed by
former Iraq surge hero and current CIA director General David Petraeus as "an
almost industrial-scale counter-terrorism killing machine", as defined by
Petraeus minion John Nagl.
The JSOC is what in Latin America in the 1970s was known as a death squad, but
now under the Pentagon direct aegis; masters of kill/capture, based on a
flimsy legal or blatantly extra-legal premise, going after a target
assassination list that even includes American citizens.
Will the circle be unbroken? Of course not; Obama's American Way of War -
now boasting virtually zero casualties, as in Libya - has the same
objectives as Bush's.
The Pentagon will leave Afghanistan and Iraq over its dead collective body. The
Pentagon will set up an Africom base in Libya. Amid a deluge of known
unknowns, unknown unknowns, these are the real birth pangs of a new
Middle East. What really matters is the Pentagon's obsession in
controlling the whole arc of instability. Remember fiery Washington
neo-con rhetoric between the early 2002 axis of evil speech and the
March 2003 invasion of Iraq; real men go to Tehran. The Playstation King
of Jordan and the arch-counter-revolutionary King of Saudi Arabia will keep
harping about the existential threat of the Shi'ite crescent.
Furious and/or dejected hearts and minds all across the arc of
instability will remain alienated. All manner of blowback will prevail.
For instance, one just has to time how long will it take for Libya to be raped
by NATO powers. Blowback? Bring them on, the CIA/Pentagon would brag. It
will be a cakewalk.
So what rough beast, its hour come out at last, will be slouching towards ...
Kabul? Baghdad? Tripoli? Riyadh? ... to be born? There's no endgame in
sight; that's the real meaning of Mission Accomplished. Ten years after
9/11, the road to war is a mission that goes on forever.
1. Hats off to the late, great Fred Halliday of the Barcelona Institute for
International Studies, compiler of Shock and Awed: a dictionary of the war on
terror (University of California Press, 2010).
Post-9/11, new millennium Bush and Obama policies eroded democracy, institutionalized state repression, accelerated economic decline, launched multiple imperial wars, and headed America for tyranny and ruin.
Neither will live down that legacy. Nor will complicit Republicans and Democrats, destroying nation for unbridled self-interest. As a result, in the century's second decade, America's no longer fit to live in. Imagine its far worse state years from now, resembling the worst of banana republic harshness, deprivation, and despair.
A frightening prospect, it goes largely unacknowledged until finally recognized too late to:
-- derail America's addiction to war;
-- prevent completing the grandest of grand theft looting of public and working household assets;
-- deter the destruction of eroding democratic values;
-- stop the transformation of America into a full-blown fascist police state; as well as
-- wreck the country in the process, leaving behind a rotting sinkhole of dystopian harshness, inequality, and depravation.
Yet it's clear. Corporate omnipotence and wars are immoral, illegal, harmful to popular interests, and only happen when corrupt officials betray the public trust, selling their souls for power and personal gain.
Imagine the difference if militarism and imperial wars ended, replaced by a commitment to peace and dedication to devote public resources to productive economic growth, benefitting everyone in the process.
In his seminal book, "A Century of War," Gabriel Kolko called the 20th century:
"the bloodiest in all history. More than 170 million people were killed." In WW II, 70% of them were civilians, "mainly (from) the bombing of cities by Great Britain and America." There was nothing good about "the good war" nor any others.
In Kolko's "Another Century of War?" he stressed how America contributes to much of the world's disorder through interventions, and as being the world's largest arms producer and exporter, profiting by proliferating death and destruction.
Post-WW II, Washington became a global menace, today calling "terrorism" the main threat - a bogus fiction to justify militarism and perpetual wars, heading the nation for moral, political and economic bankruptcy. According to Kolko:
"The way America's leaders are running the nation's foreign policy is not creating peace or security at home or stability abroad. The reverse is the case: its interventions have been counterproductive."
As a result, he believes the Korean War began America's decline, followed by successive policy failures, notably Vietnam, exacerbated further post-9/11.
As a result, its century of domination is ending, but who can predict how, when, or potential disasters it may cause before it does, including perhaps to planet earth, already dying from avoidable toxins.
With leaders like Bush and Obama, and likely worse ones to follow, Chalmers Johnson, before his 2010 death, said the "extinction that befell....the Soviet Union (was) unavoidable."
The same fate awaits America, he believed, stopping short of suggesting a mushroom-shaped cloud end to consume much more than one nation. It's because US policy's on a nuclear hair trigger, a reinvented MAD.
It threatens the unimaginable, bolstered by annual $1.5 trillion "defense" budgets, including all related categories, more than the rest of the world combined at a time America has no enemies except ones it invents.
As a result, he saw America heading for bankruptcy, authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom, believing those elements approached fruition.
Begun under earlier presidents, Bush and Obama accelerated America's current state, noticeably by: an abdication of rule of law principles, erosion of democratic values, and loss of personal freedoms, including due process and judicial fairness;
a nation with no enemies permanently at war;
secret, unaccountable global prison gulag, at home and abroad;
orture as official policy;
persecuting and scapegoating, Blacks, Latino immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities for political advantage;
he most secretive, intrusive, repressive government in our history under lawless, duplicitous leaders;
omeland social decay;
wrecking the economy to enrich bankers, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites;
an unprecedented wealth disparity combined with out-of-control corporate power;
a corrupt two-party duopoly, serving wealth and power at the expense of growing need;
weakened checks, balances and separation of powers;
a dysfunctional Congress, beholden to powerful corporate interests, notably Wall Street, war profiteers and Big Oil;
a secret, unaccountable intelligence establishment with near-limitless funding;
a corporate-controlled media, manipulating the public mind with managed news and infotainment;
a destructive military/industrial/intelligence service/media/think tank/academia complex Dwight Eisenhower couldn't have imagined when he warned about its lesser incarnation in his farewell address; and
endemic corruption, stemming from incestuous ties between government and business, flaunting the notion of government of, for or by the people.
Could past generations conceive an America sunk so low? Can thoughtful analysts imagine a way out? Does anyone think failure can avoid full-blown tyranny?
Do they doubt future conditions too frightful to imagine, the same fate that doomed past empires, betraying their roots for corrupted destructive power, heading them for tyranny and ruin.
Trends analyst Gerald Celente and others remember when the business of America was business. Now it's war, more war, multiple wars, permanent wars, pillaging one nation after another for wealth, power, and dominance, while homeland needs go begging.
A previous article said America never was the "land of the free and home of the brave." In fact, it's become a "Let 'em eat cake" society.
Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said it, France's 1789-99 revolution was very real, delivering guillotine justice, not promised "Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite," a status now destroying what's left of American freedom, heading for the trash bin of history if not already there.
At issue is America's militarized colossus, waging global wars, looting the nation, bankrupting it, wrecking the remnants of a free society. Plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires, the misguided notion that militarism sustains growth is pursued.
In fact, it erodes it by sacrificing industrial America, shifting production and other high-paying service operations abroad to focus on war making and banker occupation (financial warfare).
As a result, essential homeland needs go begging, including healthcare, education, job creation, the nation's crumbling infrastructure, and a free society, sacrificed for unbridled greed and power.
With bipartisan support, it suggests Dante's ninth gate of Hell, bearing the inscription: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
It's up to mass awareness to stop it - by any means necessary. Dante's alternative is too grim to accept and needn't be with committed public resistance. What better time than now to ignite it.
A Final Comment
Previous articles explained international and US laws pertaining to waging war, what America's leaders long ago forgot and ignore.
Under the Constitution's Article I, Section 8, only Congress may declare war, not the president. That, in fact, last happened on December 8, 1941 after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. As a result, all subsequent US wars have been illegal, including Obama's against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and numerous proxy ones.
Moreover, the UN Charter explains under what conditions violence and coercion (by one state against another) are justified.
Article 2(3) and Article 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use. And Article 51 allows the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."
In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible. However, Charter Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any unilateral threat or use of force not: specifically allowed under Article 51;
uthorized by the Security Council; or
permitted by the US Constitution only amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states can change.
In addition, three General Assembly resolutions also prohibit non-consensual belligerent intervention, including: the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;
the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and
the 1974 Definition of Aggression.
Nonetheless, Washington spurns international and US laws repeatedly, especially waging preemptive aggressive wars, what the Nuremberg Tribunal's Justice Robert Jackson called "the supreme international crime against peace," sentencing convicted Nazi war criminals to death for committing it.
The War Powers Resolution (WPR) resolution holds for legal wars. Applying it to Libya was a red herring as America has no authority to attack another country illegally, and may only do so in self-defense until the Security Council acts.
Unless America ends its addiction to permanent war, its eroded free society will be lost. If that's not incentive enough to prevent, what is!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.