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
Only when we refute the monolithic interpretation of Zionist theory and practice can we approach an understanding of the contested relationship between anti-zionism and antisemitism.
Israel - BDS. Flickr/ Takver. Some rights reserved.The relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is a vexed and controversial question. My starting point is to elucidate an understanding of the meaning of Zionism; a term and a political concept which is rarely defined and frequently misunderstood. This is hardly surprising given that today in the 21st century, Zionism/ist is construed as an insult by some and is often equated with apartheid and even worse, Nazism. My understanding of Zionism seeks neither to exonerate, praise nor condemn. Rather we must seek to comprehend the Zionist movement and concomitant ideology in its historical, material and constantly evolving context.
A form of nationalism
Put simply Zionism is a form of nationalism which developed under two sets of linked influences in the ...
This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany and 50 since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war on Vietnam (49 since he was killed on that speech’s first anniversary). Events are being planned to help us try to finally learn some lessons, to move beyond, not just Vietnam, but war.
That declaration of war on Germany was not for the war that makes up the single most common theme of U.S. entertainment and history. It was for the war that came before that one. This was the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war without which the conditions for the next war would not have existed.
As well recounted in Michael Kazin’s War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918, a major peace movement had the support of a great deal of the United States. When ...
Donald Trump certainly lies more often, and sometimes for the most trivial or ego-driven reasons. But presidential prevaricating is a common tactic dating back to the nation’s early days.
After escalated provocations with Mexico until he obtained the necessary pretext in 1846, President James Polk announced, “War exists,” thus explaining away how it really happened. After defeating Spain, William McKinley said he wanted to “uplift and civilize and Christianize” the Filipinos, and “by God’s grace do the very best we could by them.” But they’d already declared independence, so doing the “best” actually meant allowing the worst — killing and burning villages during a 12-year war of resistance.
In 1947, Harry Truman (image right) wanted to “assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.” But the pledge didn’t stop him from approving CIA manipulation of elections in Greece and Italy. And when asked about a US operation ...
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.
CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force
The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).
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 ...
Author’s note and Update
The following article was first published in September 2014 at the outset of the air campaign “against the ISIS”. In recent developments Russia has officially joined the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). What are the implications?
Amply documented but rarely mentioned in news reports, the ISIS is a creation of US intelligence, recruited, trained and financed by the US and its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.
What this means is that the ISIS terrorists are the foot soldiers of the Western alliance. While America claims to be targeting the ISIS, in reality it is protecting the ISIS. The air campaign is intent upon destroying Syria and Iraq rather than “going after the terrorists”.
But now Russia is involved in the campaign against the ISIS in coordination with the Syrian and Iraqi governments.
What does that mean? The official story is that Russia supports America’s resolve to fight the terrorists. It’s all for a good cause.
In reality, ...
The end goal of the US and NATO is to divide (balkanize) and pacify (finlandize) the world’s biggest country, the Russian Federation, and to even establish a blanket of perpetual disorder (somalization) over its vast territory or, at a minimum, over a portion of Russia and the post-Soviet space, similarly to what is being done to the Middle East and North Africa. The future Russia or the many future Russias, a plurality of weakened and divided states, that Washington and its NATO allies see is/are demographically in decline, de-industrialized, poor, without any defensive capabilities, and hinterlands that will exploited for their resources.
The Plans of the Empire of Chaos for Russia
Breaking the Soviet Union has not been enough for Washington and NATO. The ultimate goal of the US is to prevent any alternatives from emerging in Europe and Eurasia to Euro-Atlantic integration. This is why the destruction of Russia is one ...
A hegemonic power never says sorry.
Three recent episodes underscore this truism.
When US President Barack Obama offered a floral wreath at the cenotaph of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on 27 May 2016, some peace advocates in the United States, in Japan and in other parts of the world hoped against hope that he would say “sorry” for the Atom bomb that the then US President, Harry Truman, had ordered to be dropped over Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. The deadly bomb claimed 140,000 lives. Three days later a second Atom bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki killing another 80,000.
There is a view advanced by a number of scholars and activists that based upon documentary analysis Japan had already indicated to the US Military Command in the Pacific a couple of months before 6th August that it was prepared to surrender if there were some safeguards for the position ...
The facile and indiscriminate use of the term fascism has led to a widespread misunderstanding and misuse of its meaning. Asked to define fascism, most people would respond in terms such as dictatorship, anti-Semitism, mass hysteria, efficient propaganda machine, mesmerizing oratory of a psychopathic leader, and the like.
Such a pervasive misconception of the meaning of the term fascism is not altogether fortuitous. It is largely because of a longstanding utilitarian misrepresentation of the term. Fascism is deliberately obfuscated in order to sanitize capitalism. Ideologues, theorists and opinion-makers of capitalism have systematically shifted the systemic sins of fascism from market/capitalist failures to individual or personal failures.
Thus, the origins, the rise and the ravages of the classic European fascism are blamed largely on Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, not the socio-economic circumstances that gave rise to those instrumentally “useful” characters. An obvious flaw of this interpretation of fascism is that it cannot ...
The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe; cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.”
The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate genocide with wholesale slaughter of a specific people. However, “the 1994 U.N. Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, describes genocide beyond outright murder of people as the destruction and extermination of culture.” Article II of the convention lists five categories of activity as genocidal when ...
In Arabic TV interview, Labour’s ex-London mayor blames Israel for IS attacks in Europe and mass expulsion of Jews from Arab world, again claims Hitler supported Zionism
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone on Wednesday called the creation of Israel “fundamentally wrong,” and “a great catastrophe.” The existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East, he said, could ultimately lead to nuclear war.
“The creation of the state of Israel was fundamentally wrong, because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years,” Livingstone told an Arabic language TV station based in London, in a clip posted and translated by the watchdog MEMRI group.
“The creation of the state of Israel was a great catastrophe,” he repeated. “We should have absorbed the post-World War II Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for ...
U.S. jets are bombing Syria again this month, part of an overall pattern of military expansion during the Obama administration that’s seen military involvement in dozens of conflicts.
As the United States renews a bombing campaign against ISIS forces in Syria, it seems like America’s penchant for waging war knows no bounds. During the first seven years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. bombed seven countries while supporting other destabilizing military actions throughout the Middle East.
Here’s a look at these seven countries and the effects of bombing:
Afghanistan — Despite the announced “end” of the Afghanistan War, significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan remains. Drones are a frequent presence in Afghan skies. One strike earlier this month killed 12 people, according to Iran’s PressTV.
Iraq — The Obama administration has conducted over 5,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in just the past year, David Lerman reported for Bloomberg Business. Despite ongoing U.S. military ...
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 ...
Here we go again. Earlier this year, some were surprised to see Project For The New American Century (PNAC) co-founder and longtime DC fixture Robert Kagan endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.
They shouldn’t have been. As is now clear from a policy paper [PDF] published last month, the neoconservatives are going all-in on Hillary Clinton being the best vessel for American power in the years ahead.
The paper, titled “Expanding American Power,” was published by the Center for a New American Security, a Democratic Party-friendly think tank co-founded and led by former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy. Flournoy served in the Obama Administration under Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the next secretary of defense, should Hillary Clinton become president.
The introduction to Expanding American Power is written by the aforementioned Robert Kagan and former Clinton Administration State Department official James Rubin. The ...
The objectives of the US military presence in Africa are well documented: counter Chinese influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than 8 years ago by the US State Department:
In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012)
At the beginning of February, AFRICOM’s “head General David Rodriguez called for a large-scale US-led ‘counterinsurgency’ campaign against groups in West Africa during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC:
The following article focussing on the jihadist terrorist insurgency in Macedonia was first published by antiwar.com in July 2001, barely two months before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.
Known and documented, since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahedin (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest had become an integral part of US foreign policy. A report of the US Congress had revealed how the US administration – under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake – had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world.
The “Bosnian pattern” was then replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Among the foreign mercenaries fighting with the KLA-NLA in 2001 were Mujahedin from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union ...
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 ...
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 — ...
With the recent failed bid by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League at the UN security council, to try and end Israelis’ occupation of Palestinian land and to create a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, it seems an appropriate moment to review the situation for Palestinians since 1915.
What is the background to the demonization and brutalization of Palestinians? Most of all, why is the international community was assisting properly and why has it not assisted the Palestinians in protecting or restoring their inalienable rights over decades? Why is their situation so brutally upside-down almost a century after they were supposed to be independent and determining their own state affairs?
Some of my previous historical work and publications have explored aspects of the Weimar Republic, Hitler’s Germany and the Nazis’ prison and camp system from 1933 onwards, and also the Holocaust in some depth. Palestine and the Palestinians had ...
Barack Obama is the first two-term American president to have presided over war every day of his tenure in office. He bequeaths to a Trump administration ongoing operations in Afghanistan, continuing drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, the consequences of the 2011 destruction of Libya, the instigation of civil war in Syria, US sponsorship of the brutal Saudi interventions in Yemen, and the civil conflicts in Ukraine, the Caucuses and across Africa.
Obama’s blood-soaked legacy, however, is most graphic in Iraq. There is a bitter irony in this, given the fact that he was elected in 2008 largely on the basis of claimed opposition to the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of the country, and his boasts, after continuing the war for nearly three more years after his inauguration, to have ended it with the formal withdrawal of US forces in December of 2011.
Obama launched new military attacks in Iraq following ISIS’ ...
Contestation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism
100 years of using war to try to end all war
U.S. Presidential Lying Is Nothing New
Imperialism And The Politics Of Torture: Towards A Global Secret Police Force
HAARP: Secret Weapon Used For Weather Modification, Electromagnetic Warfare
“Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
WWIII Aimed To Redraw Map Of Russia?
Hiroshima, Vietnam, Cuba: A Hegemonic Power Never Says Sorry…
Distorting Fascism to Sanitize Capitalism
Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel was ‘a great catastrophe’
Barack Obama: The Nobel Peace Prize Winner Who Bombed Seven Countries
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
Hillary Clinton’s Project For A New American Century
Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?
“Islamic State Déjà Vu”: US Sponsored Islamic Fighters in the Balkans, Washington Was Behind the 2001 Terrorist Attacks in Macedonia
Boycott bloody President!
Financial Times Finally Prints The Unvarnished Truth: Kiev Is The Violent Aggressor In East Ukraine
The Harvesting Of Palestine. The Zionist Project Prevails?
Mosul, Iraq and Obama’s Legacy of War
Categories: Israel, Terrorism, USA
Tags: CIA, imperialism, NATO, Terrorism, USA, Washington, West, Zionism