November 19, 2010

The War On Terror Is Over: Synopsis

Filed under: Afghanistan, Global War On Terror — Tags: , — Russ @ 2:58 am


I don’t write much about the wars anymore, simply because I can’t write about everything and had to whittle down my topics. But I wanted to sum up the rational case against the war in one short post, perhaps as the basis for a set of talking points if anyone wanted to use it that way.
I won’t go again into the true corporatist nature of the war. I’ve written extensively about that in the past, for example here, here, and here. Let me just again cite two choice pieces of evidence: War Secretary Robert Gates assuring an audience of weapons racketeers that the administration’s main priority is escalating Pentagon budgets solely for the sake of spending escalation itself, i.e. for the sake of corporate welfare; and Nick Turse’s account of how Pentagon contracting extends to a whole menagerie of “civilian” consumer goods and services companies. This gives an overview of how the military-industrial complex extends much further than most people think. The corporate-militarist state has already become far more integrated than it ever was under classical fascism prior to WWII.
So here’s the basic facts:
1. Terrorism is not a real threat to America. If you don’t believe a pinko like me, how about the neocon consultant corporation Stratfor? Stratfor, unlike some blowhard in the jingo NYT or WaPo, actually gets paid for the actionable quality of its opinions. That’s how it makes its living. And as it’s an imperial consultant, for Stratfor to support war would be talking its book.
Yet according to this and many other pieces, terrorism “does not represent a strategic, existential threat”.
In fact, Stratfor’s basic position on the Global War on Terror goes as follows:
A. Terrorism is not a strategic, existential threat.
B. Al-Qaeda’s capabilities have been greatly degraded.
C. Whatever diminished action international terrorism can undertake, it can undertake it outside Afghanistan Yemen, or any other particular place.
D. Most Afghans reject the Karzai government. (So according to Petraeus’ and McChrystal’s own counterinsurgency doctrine, which declares the necessity for a legitimate indigenous client government, the Afghanistan war cannot be won.)
E. The Taliban cannot be defeated.

Nietzsche wrote that, “The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.” The stated U.S. goal in Afghanistan was the destruction of al Qaeda. While al Qaeda as it existed in 2001 has certainly been disrupted and degraded, al Qaeda’s evolution and migration means that disrupting and degrading it — to say nothing of destroying it — can no longer be achieved by waging a war in Afghanistan. The guerrilla does not rely on a single piece of real estate (in this case Afghanistan) but rather on his ability to move seamlessly across terrain to evade decisive combat in any specific location. Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism is not centered on Afghanistan and does not need Afghanistan, so no matter how successful that war might be, it would make little difference in the larger fight against transnational jihadism.

So we have Stratfor making the whole case right there. We should end the wars and get out.
And it’s not just them. Even arch-neocons like Zakaria admit that terrorism is no threat remotely commensurate with what we’ve lost and spent in pretending to fight it.
2. Any actual war on terror element of the “war on terror” has already been won. Administration experts themselves say so:
CIA chief Leon Panetta: “We’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Terror “czar” Michael Leiter: Maybe “more than 300” jihadists in Pakistan.
National Security Adviser James Jones: “Fewer than 100” AQ in Afghanistan.
ABC news quotes an intelligence official who sums it up: the DoD, CIA, and other intelligence agencies agree that there are at most around 100 jihadists in Afghanistan and several hundred in Pakistan.
So actual jihad has been smashed, like Stratfor says. The US government and military agree. The actual war on terror is over. It was won a long time ago.
3. The one and only thing now driving insurgencies and what little jihadist sentiment is left is the imperial war itself. This Pew study demonstrates that jihad is unpopular in Pakistan, but that American aggression is even less popular. The same public opinion is common throughout the Muslim world. Most people are sick of jihad and don’t want caliphates. The only thing they’d prefer it to is Western domination. And the one thing which causes them to look favorably upon insurgency and jihad is Western aggression.
In July the NBER released a study which found that the Afghan occupation itself is the driver of insurgency.
“Local exposure to violence from Isaf [NATO’s “International Security Assistance Force”, i.e. the invaders] appears to be the primary driver of this effect.”
Meanwhile as Petraeus took over from McC, he was mulling whether to relax McC’s relatively restrictive rules of engagement. Those were the same rules under which McC himself admitted they were doing little but slaughtering civilians:

We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force . . . . [T]o my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”

From the report: “When Isaf units kill civilians, this increases the willing number of combatants.”
That’s the main thing driving the insurgency, and it’s the only thing still breathing life into jihad. And Petraeus wants to escalate it. What did they say this war was about again?
4. The people are increasingly realizing this and are turning against the war.
So anyone who starts to doubt the war should be told that he’s not alone. On the contrary, he’s joining the majority, although you’d never know it from the normal MSM coverage.
So the war on terror is over and has been won. Terrorism is no strategic threat. The power elites admit as much. Whatever the real reason is for the “war on terror”, it’s not to defend against terrorism.
Maybe the best way to educate against the war is to start, not by directly calling it a corporate imperial boondoggle and war crime, but by proving that whatever it is, it’s not a war against terror.
In the same way that people are coming to reject the banks as they realize how the banks produce nothing but are only parasites, maybe more people will reject the wars as they realize how the wars have zero to do with terrorism or any other kind of defense, but are only a project of corporate aggression. (And maybe focusing on the “corporate war” angle can help do an end run around residual “patriotic” delusions about the wars.)


  1. It almost seems simplistic that anyone would believe that squandering generations of wealth on wars vs. terrorism, vs. communism, vs drugs aractually conflicts with any acchievable benifit for American people. They are benifits for American Business,period. The same as airport screening, medical insurance, the list goes on and on.
    These are the tools of the greatest transference of wealth in the history of mankind.

    Comment by Stella Firenze — November 19, 2010 @ 5:49 am

    • Yup Stella, that’s what it is and that’s all it is.

      The people will never benefit from any of it, only lose and suffer.

      Comment by Russ — November 19, 2010 @ 6:58 am

  2. Isn’t it more about force projection? Regardless of what the American public thinks about peak oil, the Pentagon has made it clear they are worried. My feeling is Afghanistan is more about blocking China’s land access to the Middle East and squeezing Iran.

    It makes no sense in the war against terror, but it makes all the sense in the world if you see the 500 million dollar ’embassy’/Roman garrison plans.

    Comment by anon — November 19, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    • I suppose some of them might be crazy enough to think they can stop China from doing what it wants in Central Asia whenever China feels motivated enough to move.

      (Although they’re already failing at that:


      http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2010-06/10/content_9962145.htm )

      Squeezing Iran makes sense only in the sense that each step sets up the next one. That’s the Blitzkrieg-style idea the neocons originally had. But that doesn’t explain why you’d want to get started in the first place.

      What makes the most sense is a $500 million fortress, if you got the contract and you’re only going to spend $50 million building it (and you probably only had to pay thousands in bribes to political campaigns and generals).

      Comment by Russ — November 19, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  3. Another excellent post, Russ. I like how you pulled everything together.

    Responding to anon, China owns America’s means of production, and that which China doesn’t own is found in Korea and Taiwan, which China can seize any time it wants. The neoliberal approach to “free markets” has left the United States helpless militarily against China: we can’t attack China without destroying our own means of production.

    And it’s not like we have enough of a presence in Afghanistan to stop the Chinese from taking it over, if they want.

    The United States military no longer serves the United State of America, it serves multinational banks and corporations.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 19, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    • Thanks, Tao.

      Of course, America can take back its indigenous means of production anytime it wants. But you’re right, for the time being we exported all our jobs and most of our productive infrastructure. Even agriculture we’ve allowed to be alienated and de-sovereigntized. (There’s even been talk that China itself will be buying up much of our food production, if we don’t take back the country soon.)

      Comment by Russ — November 19, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  4. I have been reading “The New Industrial State” (J.K. Galbraith) with a pencil for underlining.
    Very interesting.
    In 1967, Galbraith had already determined the extreme INTERDEPENDANCY of the State and the military/industrial complex.
    How the lines between State and Corporation were very very blurred (except in the economic and political textbooks where people were still referring to Adam Smith, etc etc.), and the State was corporate America’s biggest customer, particularly in the militaro-industrial sector. Indeed, for quite some time, they have been working HAND IN HAND.
    Because this sector is where the money is placed for Research and Development. Logically (I’ll get back to this in a second.).
    Like, those video games, and cell phones, that Internet emerged as technology from the military/industrial complex, and THEN proceeded to migrate to civil society.
    That means that those wars are very important as a raison d’être for hatching new technology to keep that whole shebang carburating (yes, well, it’s not doing so well these days, agreed) in the pie in the sky consumer society.
    Back to the PSYCHOLOGICAL justifications for the wars.
    Because the wars are one of the most important and EFFICIENT (hate that F word, but here it is anyway) ways of cementing a national identity. Fueling national identity by labeling an enemy who is de facto EXCLUDED and demonized. Exclusion is like a membrane. It rejects one side on the outside, but it contains the other side on the inside. And magico presto we create : IDENTITY. Group identity.
    Very important. We have been doing this for millenia now with NO PROGRESS IN SIGHT YET…
    And, back to Freud, who YOU AMERICANS OVER THERE snicker at at your risk and peril : ANGER AND RAGE THAT DO NOT FIND AN EXTERIOR OBJECT will return ON THE INSIDE. Inside the person to promote self destruction, self attack, in one form or another. Inside… THE COUNTRY, to promote self destruction/self attack in one form or another.
    I can’t PROVE this… But then again… YOU or anybody else can’t disprove it either….
    But I certainly have observed it first hand in many many circumstances. That constitutes sufficient proof for ME.

    Comment by Debra — August 8, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

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