Andrew Bacevich has written a series of books on the topic of U.S. imperialism and U.S. military power. His latest work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East [the GME War] is the latest in this series and as with the previous works is clearly written and logically presented. It covers more narrowly than the previous works the military aspects of U.S. military endeavours in the Middle East (greater – as in including East Africa and Afghanistan et al). Generally he succeeds well and this work is a good ‘primer’ for anyone interested in a quick historical overview of U.S. military actions in the region.
However it is not one of his better works, and perhaps that is because of the narrowness of focus and the resulting tie ins that could have been made and that without do not provide a perspective of this war amongst all the other wars instigated by the U.S. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a “military” history, focused on the Middle East, which kept reminding myself about the missing links.
In general, his overall thesis is well presented. His relating of the sequence of events is strong and the critical analysis is good, until he arrives at the most recent events.
He starts off saying the GME War “was a war to preserve the American way of life, rooted in a specific understanding of freedom and requiring an abundance of cheap energy” noting also that “oil as a prerequisite for freedom,” a rather telling prerequisite. Describing his own youthful times he recognizes “The American way of life may have been shallow and materialistic, its foundation a bland conformity.” Yes it had “pleasures and satisfactions” which “tended to be transitory” but disguised as to “how precarious such expectations might be.”
An interesting start to a military history. In the prologue he dates the start of the GME War with Operation Eagle Claw from April 24-25, 1980. In the opening chapter he pushes it back to the 1973 oil embargo as a consequence of the Yom Kippur War in Israel. One of the political philosophies of the time recognized that
“Middle East oil properly belonged to those who had discovered, developed, and actually needed it. By all rights, therefore it was “ours”, a perspective that resonated with many ordinary Americans. All that was required to affirm those rights was the vigorous use of U.S. military power.”
Having started that way philosophically creates in my mind the longer view back as far as World War I and its outcomes concerning the fallen Ottoman empire. This saw the Sykes-Picot agreement dividing the spoils of empire and the Balfour letter envisioning the creation of a Jewish state. The former entangled religions, tribes, and ethnic groups; the latter, in part and in particular to this history, Israel was viewed as an ‘outpost’ of western/European control of the region – for transportations via the Suez canal, but more importantly for the newly discovered oil resources.
However, from where it does start the work progresses quickly and probably for many, very thought provokingly through the Nixon/Carter years and on through the various military enterprises of the GME War.
The Carter years involved the apparent involvement with the Iranian revolution; fortunately Bacevich recognizes that the real involvement began with the 1953 CIA/MI6 overthrow of the democratic Mossadegh Iranian government. The book continues through the years, including the shift from Carter’s “Unreasoned anticommunism had made Americans stupid and distorted U.S. policy; ” through the “end of history” according to Fukuyama “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as final form of human democracy;” and closing out with the current ‘long war’ or ‘global war on terror’, now just mostly generalized globally as anti-terrorism.
I read the book on Kindle using pink highlights for subject ‘titles’ and blue for the actual commentary pertaining to that person or idea. Eventually I ended up using yellow to indicate passages where Bacevich’s analysis or perspective appeared to be much less clear. Given how well the majority of his writing is well founded and documented it could be that the proximity in time to some of the more recent events has not allowed the filter of time to fulfill informational bias and/or create a fuller context for viewing these incidents. These moments occurred only in the last two chapters, mainly the latter part of the Obama years, concerning: Gaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, discussion of Obama’s policies, the renewed anti-Putin, anti-Russian scenarios, a supposed ambivalence towards al-Qaeda cured by 9-11 (yet part of the moderates in Syria?).
Most currently Bacevich describes ISIS in part as having “neither allies nor patrons” a rather disconcerting statement in consideration of recent documentation of support from Turkey (a NATO ally) and Saudi Arabia (an oil/US$ ally) and other non-democratic Middle East supporters.
One of my final highlights was, “The root of the problem was obvious: “perhaps there is no strategy to contain the destabilization of the Middle East.” I noted – and this is quite important in a larger context – perhaps that is the strategy – chaos. Chaos serves Israel very well as they can then operate internally ‘under the radar’ while the world is entertained by U.S. double dealings and Russian military successes within the GME War.
For a book that begins with a biblical quote (Numbers 32: 13: “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel….”) there is very little said about Israel throughout. Considering how important AIPAC is to the U.S. election/legislative procedures, and how militarized Israel is, this is a significant omission.
Another significant omission, and this is surprising considering how the first chapter started with a description of the importance of oil to the American way of life, is how since those same Nixon/Carter years the US$ has been the global fiat currency backed mainly by its use as the reserve currency for all global oil transactions – now a fading proposition, another reason to create chaos. It is implied at the outset, but is never discussed as the GME War continues its depredations in the region and its blowback consequences within the United States (yes, I remind myself, this is a military history but ….).
Finally, but not over
Bacevich’s closing positions are clearly stated and supported by what he has presented beforehand. He almost disqualifies himself with a ‘yellow‘ note stating the creations of “a permanent footing large-scale, heavily armed forces designed for global power projection” serves as “the principal functions of these forces was not to wage war but to avert it.”
This is not a minor misstatement as the history and writings of all those concerned within the neocon cabal and the PNAC group considered ‘full spectrum dominance’ to be their end goal, with the inclusion of first strike capabilities for the use of nuclear weapons. Okay in a very sick sense they were trying to avert war by saying we will bludgeon and kill anyone who stands in our way of the “American way” of freedom. I just don’t buy into its pacifist intentions.
However, the overall conclusion is perfectly valid,
Time and again, from the 1980s to the present, U.S. military power, unleashed rather than held in abeyance, has met outright failure, produced results other than those intended, [note: see chaos, above] or proved to be largely irrelevant. The Greater Middle East remains defiantly resistant to shaping.
When discussing why the U.S. cannot “get out” Bacevich identifies “several assumptions that promote in Washington a deeply pernicious collective naiveté.” They could be summarized as ignorance (wilful or otherwise), hubris, arrogance, and stereotyped thought processes (i.e. a lack of the ability to critically analyse anything).
The concluding section continues along the parameters of the GME War’s permanence, which including the above, also includes the militarized meme of supporting the troops, the benefits that accrue to certain individuals, and most importantly to Bacevich is that “Americans themselves appear oblivious to what is occurring” without stating the obvious about the control of the media and the message by corporate-political America.
He concludes, finally and ultimately, that until Americans awaken to the reality that they need to reshape themselves first, “Then and only then will the war end.”
Or perhaps they will, one day, never wake up – period.
By Jim Miles
This article was first published on August 1, 2010
“It isn’t just conspiracy theorists who are concerned about HAARP. The European Union called the project a global concern and passed a resolution calling for more information on its health and environmental risks. Despite those concerns, officials at HAARP insist the project is nothing more sinister than a radio science research facility.”
– Quote from a TV documentary on HAARP by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a little-known, yet critically important U.S. military defense program which has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years in certain circles. Though denied by HAARP officials, some respected researchers allege that secret electromagnetic warfare capabilities of HAARP are designed to forward the US military’s stated goal of achieving full-spectrum dominance by the year 2020. Others go so far as to claim that HAARP can and has been used ...
Even those in Donetsk who originally supported Kiev have come to realize that Ukraine is waging a war against its own people
The Ukrainian army’s shelling has turned many formerly pro-Ukrainian locals against Kiev
Although this article tries to make the people of Donetsk appear gullible and indoctrinated, it does make one incredible admission: Kiev is waging a vicious war against its own people—something that East Ukrainians will never forget, and probably never forgive. This article originally appeared in Financial Times
As world leaders convened in Minsk this week to decide the fate of east Ukraine, Tatiana Prussova, a teacher at Khartsysk school number 23, stood in front of her class, a map on the wall behind her.
For 10 minutes, she led a group of 15 and 16-year-old students through the day’s lesson: a review of the recent developments in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). She explained a new local holiday — ...
According to a number of global mainstream media sources, the Pentagon is covering up a disturbing video that was never made public with the rest of the recent torture report.
According to various well respected journalists, including Seymour Hersh, the appalling video was recorded at Abu Ghraib, the notorious US torture dungeon in Iraq that made headlines roughly a decade ago, when the inhumane tactics being used at the prison were exposed.
Sadly, it seems that the evidence released years ago was only scratching the surface.
While the video has remained under wraps thus far, Hersh says it is only a matter of time before it comes out.
Giving a speech at the ACLU last week after the senate torture report was initially released, Hersh gave some insight into what was on the Pentagon’s secret tape.
In the most revealing portion of his speech he said that:
“Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened ...
This article by Dr. Jacques Pauwels was published six years ago.
In the current context, the US is threatening to wage a preemptive nuclear war against Russia, which possesses a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton has confirmed that “nukes are on the table” and she intends to use them if she becomes president. We need to defend ourselves against Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. Her solution is to blow up the planet.
World War II ended in Mushroom Clouds.
If Hillary decides to wage a preemptive nuclear war on Russia, World War III would commence with mushroom clouds.
How would World War III end. Would it have an ending?
In the words of Fidel Castro, “the collateral damage” of a nuclear war in the present context would be humanity in its entirety.
The threat is real: the US contemplates waging war war on Russia, which is tantamount to waging war on the World.
Let’s imagine for just a moment that a people was forcibly dispossessed of its homeland.
Let’s imagine that a portion of this people had rotted in refugee camps for some seven decades while others had lived under a brutal military occupation for almost five decades.
Let’s imagine that the people living under this military occupation were systematically tortured, abused, stolen from, and prevented from exercising their most basic and universally ratified human and political rights.
Let’s imagine that for nearly a decade, a part of this people was placed under an inhuman and illegal siege that brought about the complete collapse of their already desperate economy, and rendered their environment borderline unfit for human inhabitation.
Let’s imagine that, on top of the expulsion, military occupation, and inhuman and illegal siege, these people suffered periodic massacres, the most recent of which killed more than 2,200 people, including 550 children, and destroyed or rendered uninhabitable fully 18,000 homes.
Let’s imagine ...
Exclusive: Few Americans understand the ugly history behind the Nazi-affiliated movements that have gained substantial power in today’s U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime. Western propaganda has made these right-wing extremists the “good guys” versus the Russian “bad guys,” as Jonathan Marshall explains.
By Jonathan Marshall
The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, one of the leading journals in its field, offers a two-page photo essay on “what to see, do, and buy” in Lviv, a picturesque city in the Western Ukraine. “Amid the turmoil that has rocked Ukraine over the past two years,” the article gushes, “Lviv has stood firmly as a stronghold of national culture, language, and identity.”
That’s one way of putting it. Another, less charitable way would be to note that Lviv has for nearly a century been a breeding ground of extreme Ukrainian nationalism, spawning terrorist movements, rabid anti-Semitism, and outright pro-Nazi political organizations that continue to pollute the country’s politics.
Sen. John ...
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.
On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”.
After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but ...
The internal and much more external destruction of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s is celebrating in 2015 its 20th years of anniversary. However, this historical and much more geopolitical event still needs a satisfactory research approach in regard to the true geopolitical reasons and political-military course of the destruction of this South Slavic and Balkan state. During the last quarter of century, the (western) global mainstream media unanimously accused Serbia and the Serbs for the national chauvinism as the main cause of the bloody wars on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. However, the role and direct impact of the other Yugoslav republics and nations in the process of killing the common state was not taken (purposely) into the consideration; especially of the Croats and Croatia as the biggest nation and republic after the Serbs and Serbia. This article is an attempt to contribute to the full-scale of ...
NATO has expanded dramatically after the collapse of its primary rivals, the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, Canadian Professor Michael Jabara Carley notes, posing the question whether NATO was founded as a defensive or an offensive alliance.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, was established on April 4, 1949; and only seven years after the formation of NATO the Warsaw Treaty Organization was established bringing together eight nations (versus 15 NATO member-states).
So, who was the real "aggressor"? What alliance was an offensive one?
"There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was NATO founded in the first place and why did it expand so rapidly after the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR in 1991," Professor Michael Jabara Carley of the University of Montreal writes in his article for Strategic Culture Foundation.
© AFP 2015/ FRANCISCO LEONG
The Canadian academic points out that according to widely held views in the West, NATO originated as a ...
Boris Nemtsov, a Russian dissident politician highly critical of President Vladimir Putin often sounded like an agent of Washington. He was shot and killed today on a street near Red Square.
If Nemtsov wasn’t assassinated by the CIA in order to blame Putin, most likely Nemtsov was killed by Russian nationalists who saw him as Washington’s agent.
Remembering the Magnitsky affair that resulted in sanctions imposed on Russians as a result of the US Congress over-reacting to a jail death in Russia, Nemtsov’s death will likely be blamed on Putin. The Western media will repeat endlessly, with no evidence, that Putin had his critic killed.
I can tell you one thing, and that is that Putin is much too smart to play into Washington’s hands in this way. Moreover, Nemtsov, although a loud mouth, had no impact on Putin’s 85% approval rating. Nemtsov’s support resided in the Washington-funded NGOs in Russia. If the ...
September 17, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - Over recent months the situation in the Mediterranean has served as a dramatic reminder of what the leaders of Europe have tried hard to forget. The Syrian crisis has reached Europe. Although a lot of talk has been made over numbers and percentages of refugees that every country may or may not accept, let’s not forget that behind those numbers and the showy emotionalism of the politicians hides the ugly side of world politics.
The plans to overthrow the “annoying” regimes in the Middle East began at the time when the war hawks of Washington and their European allies prepared the first Iraqi war.
In a 2007 speech, US General Wesley Clark recounted a conversation he had back in 1991 with the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. During that talk, the Secretary told the General that the Pentagon had already drawn plans in ...
Unification of Europe has brought about radical new divisions within Europe. The most significant split is between the people and their political leaders.
The June 23 British majority vote to leave the European Union has made strikingly evident the division between the new ruling class that flourishes in the globalized world without borders and all the others who are on the receiving end of policies that destroy jobs, cut social benefits, lower wages and reject as obsolete national customs, not least the custom of democratic choice, all to make the world safe for international investment capital.
Actually, the lines are not quite so clear-cut. Political choices never correspond completely to economic interests, and the ideological factor intervenes to blur the class lines. Globalization is not merely a process of economic integration regulated by flows of capital, which is deepening the polarization between rich and poor in the Western countries. It is also ...
A year ago, at a closed-doors meeting between the USA and EU officials and the leaders of the four major parties of FYROM in Strasbourg, a route map for the resolution of the protracted political crisis was agreed on (or rather imposed). The roots of this political crisis are to be found outside FYROM: it is actually more a confrontation by proxy between “the West”, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which is trying to maintain its influence in the region. In conjunction with the public discontent at government policies and the escalating corruption, the negotiations have contributed to sharpening the crisis, which has become acute.
The route map imposed on the closed-doors meeting between US representatives and the EU and local political leaders was supposed to lead to elections in April 2016. But the elections were postponed to 5th June 2016, in order to be “better prepared”. As it turned ...
Exclusive: U.S. mainstream media sees itself as the definer of what’s true and what’s “propaganda,” but has gotten lost in a fog of self-delusion and is now the principal purveyor of “post-truth” news, writes Nicolas J S Davies.
For several months, Western officials and media outlets repeated thousands of times that there were between 250,000 and 300,000 civilians trapped under Syrian and Russian bombardment in East Aleppo. Western reports rarely mentioned the Syrian government’s estimate that there were only one-third that number of civilians in the rebel-controlled enclave – nor that its estimates were solidly based on what it had found in Homs and other rebel-held areas after it restored state control.
Once East Aleppo fell to government forces, it turned out that there were less than 90,000 people there, about what the Syrian government estimated but only a fraction of the much higher numbers confidently repeated ad nauseam by Western officials and media.
Part of the reason for ...
Liberal Democratic Party calls on to all Russian citizens to boycott Ukrainian confectionery company “Roshen”, owned by the country’s President Peter Poroshenko.
Ukrainian authorities continue punitive operation against its own citizens! Now abandoning their country in thousands for refugees fleeing to Russia, mostly old men, women and children. People are forced to leave all their belongings for years! Horror, fear, hunger and humiliation – that is what has prepared Kiev junta civilians southeast. From the illusory hopes that the election of President Ukraine peace returns, no trace – she melted like candy chocolate baron Poroshenko. Having full power, he actually gave the nod to the destruction of innocent people by declaring them bandits, separatists and extremists.
Killed Russian-speaking civilians in Donbass region by Kiev Nazi junta
Russian Liberal Democratic Party urges citizens to support the civilians of southeast. Each of us can now express their civic position by taking part in fundraising for ...
Imagine – the European Union were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe.
Take the TTIP – under pressure from their masters in Washington, behind closed doors under utmost secrecy – and most likely against their own personal good – a small group of European Commission (EC) delegates without scruples, without any respect for their co-citizens, without consideration for their children, grand-children and their ...
This article was first published in September 2014. Can we believe Hollande and Cameron? Evidence confirms that NATO is behind the recruitment of “jihadist terrorists
While NATO leaders in Newport Wales [September 2014] debate the Atlantic Alliance’s role “in containing a mounting militant threat in the Middle East”, it is worth recalling that in 2011 at the outset of the war in Syria, NATO became actively involved in the recruitment of Islamic fighters.
Reminiscent of the enlistment of the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO headquarters in Brussels in liaison with the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, was involved in the enlisting of thousands of terrorists:
“Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish ...
The term "security" is a very multifaceted one. But today's geopolitical situation forces us to think about its military aspect above all.
Our attention is completely absorbed by news about wars, conflicts, military exercises and increasing defence capabilities. An average European reader has no chances to skip this kind of news while looking through news feeds of popular media.
Even planned further militarization of the European region and Russia pose the real threat today. A whole generation of European children is growing in the firm belief that the war is approaching. We destroy ourselves by our fears. We notice everything concerning military issues and neglect economic and social sides of our life. We live in a changed world and we are to blame for it.
Let's take Lithuania as an example. This small country with reach history and with immensely kind and open people last few weeks falls into the center of world ...
Miloš Zeman said in an interview for the Serbian newspaper Večernje novosti, that recognition of Kosovo’s independence has opened a Pandora’s Box and called the Kosovo deputy Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi a war criminal.
Zeman, among other things, confirmed that he will travel to Moscow for the celebrations of the end of the Second World War because the Soviet army liberated most of the former Czechoslovakia.
The Czech president has openly expressed himself on Kosovo in the past, for example he labeled the country a very strange state with a strong narco-mafia influence.
This article originally appeared at Hospodářské Noviny. Translated for RI by Anthony Grulich
The recognition of the independence of Kosovo has opened up a Pandora’s Box and unleashed a dangerous process of redrawing borders around the world said Czech president Miloš Zeman in an interview published by the Serbian newspaper Večernje novosti. He reiterated that he himself did not recognize the independence of Kosovo and called ...
How many times have we seen this before?
The President of the United States is on TV telling us horror stories. Some innocent people in some corner of the world are being crushed, he tells us. They face some monstrously evil oppressor, he says. While the United States doesn’t like war, what choice is there? Sacrifices must be made, cruise missiles must be unleashed, to protect the poor and innocent. The world is the set of an action movie, and the US is the tragic hero, forced to rescue the innocent.
This is the script we heard in former Yugoslavia. Bill Clinton claimed to be stoping “mass rapes” and “concentration camps.” After the smoke had cleared, and thousands had been killed, the truth came out. The United Nations admitted that no “genocide” had taken place. The talk of mass rapes and concentration camps had been hype.
While the alleged crimes used to justify ...
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
Financial Times Finally Prints The Unvarnished Truth: Kiev Is The Violent Aggressor In East Ukraine
Classified Evidence: US Soldiers Raped Boys In Front Of Their Mothers
Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict
‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin
An Alternative View Of The Destruction Of The Former Yugoslavia In The 1990s
Why Didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO After Collapse of USSR?
The Boris Nemtsov Assassination: A Propaganda Attack On Vladimir Putin?
The Dirty Role Of The West In Syria
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put A Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
The ‘Post-Truth’ Mainstream Media
Boycott bloody President!
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
The Atlantic Alliance’s “Holy War” Against The Islamic State (ISIS): NATO’s Role In The Recruitment Of Islamic Terrorists (According To Israeli Intelligence News Source)
Who will secure Lithuania?
Czech President Zeman: Deputy PM of Kosovo is a war criminal
Phantom Tanks and the Desperation of Kiev