Munich American Peace Committee (MAPC)
Radio Lora, 14. August 2006
Ein Imperium verfällt: Nachwirkungen des neuen Militarismus
Seattle, Washington, 11. Februar 2004
Heute stellt uns Chalmers Johnson, der Präsident des Japan Policy Research Institute und Professor emeritus für politische Wissenschaften an der University of California in Berkeley und San Diego, seinen Bestseller „Blowback“ vor, der in Deutschland unter dem Titel „Ein Imperium verfällt“ erschienen ist.
Blowback“ - so der Titel der amerikanischen Originalausgabe - bezeichnet in der Sprache der Geheimdienste den „negativen Effekt verdeckter Operationen auf deren Ursprungsland“, also die Konsequenzen und Racheakte, die die vor den eigenen Wählern geheimgehaltenen Geheimdienstaktionen nach sich ziehen.
Zwei Gründe waren für das Entstehen von „Blowback“ ausschlaggebend: der Niedergang der Sowjetunion und die Vorfälle auf Okinawa von 1995. Als der Kalte Krieg 1991 zu Ende ging, rüstete unsere Regierung nicht ab, sondern begann, weltweit nach neuen Feinden Ausschau zu halten. Sollte der Kalte Krieg lediglich der Tarnung amerikanischer Weltmachtambitionen gedient haben????
Okinawa ist für Japan das, was Puerto Rico für die USA ist: Eine arme Insel, auf deren Bewohner man von oben herabsieht. Die Japaner von den respektablen Hauptinseln benützen Okinawa als Abstellplatz für unsere Truppen und halten sie so außer Reich- und Hörweite und außerhalb sexueller Übergriffe auf ihre Frauen und Töchter. Als zwei Marines und ein Matrose am 4. September 1995 im Inselinneren ein 12-jähriges Mädchen verschleppten, schlugen und vergewaltigten, behauptete der amerikanische Kommandeur, dass es sich dabei um einen tragischen Einzelfall gehandelt habe. Meine Nachforschungen ergaben jedoch, dass es dort seit 50 Jahren jährlich mindestens zwei Militärgerichtsverhandlungen wegen sexueller Übergriffe amerikanischer Truppenangehöriger gibt. Der einzige Unterschied bestand darin, dass es sich diesmal um ein erst 12-jähriges Kind handelte. Und ich fand auch heraus, dass Okinawa keineswegs eine Ausnahme darstellt, sondern sexuelle Übergriffe, Gewalt, Umweltverschmutzung, Verkehrs- und Trunkenheitsdelikte und Prostitution in der Welt der Militärbasen gang und gebe sind. Dies ist einer der Gründe, warum Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz und Richard Armitage Präsident Bushs Frage “Why do they hate us?“ „Warum hassen sie uns?“ mühelos beantworten könnten. Doch darüber hinaus rüsteten wir die Mudschahedin 1980 erstmals mit den Stinger Boden-Luft-Raketen aus, die heute weltweit die zivile Luftfahrt bedrohen. Nach der Niederlage der Sowjetunion ließen wir das völlig zerstörte Afghanistan trotz eines drohenden Bürgerkrieges im Stich. Wir stationierten US Truppen in Saudi-Arabien, dem Land der Heiligen Stätten von Mekka und Medina. Wir erklärten den Taliban den Krieg, obwohl wir sie noch kurz zuvor wegen der Aussicht auf eine Öl-Pipeline durch Afghanistan tatkräftig unterstützt hatten. Der Krieg gegen Irak war bereits mit dem Amtsantritt der Bush Administration im Januar 2001 – also lange vor dem 11. September – beschlossene Sache. Und dennoch fragen wir uns allen Ernstes, welche Gründe die Attentäter um Osama bin Laden für ihre Anschläge gehabt haben mögen. Im Irakkrieg ging es um den Zugriff auf das Erdöl, denn in Washington wußte man ganz genau, dass an der Bedrohung durch Saddam Hussein und seiner Verbindung mit Al Qaida nichts, aber auch gar nichts dran war.
Und nun sind wir im Begriff, den Krieg gegen den Terror zu verlieren, weltweit nehmen Terrorgefahr und Terroranschläge zu. Um das zu verhindern, wären sofort nach dem 11. September 2001 drei Maßnahmen notwendig gewesen:
1. der sofortige Truppenabzug aus Saudi-Arabien,
2. Sicherheitsgarantien für Israel bei gleichzeitigem Einfrieren aller finanziellen Militärhilfe,
3. ein drastisches Benzinsparprogramm, um unsere Abhängigkeit vom Erdöl der Golfregion beenden.
Doch nichts davon ist geschehen und alles ist nur immer schlimmer geworden. Wir können im Irak weder bleiben, noch können wie gehen. Wenn wir bleiben, steigt die Zahl der Todesopfer ins Unermeßliche, wenn wir gehen, droht der gesamten Region der Flächenbrand eines Bürgerkrieges.
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In meinem Buch „Der Selbstmord der amerikanischen Demokratie“ beschreibe ich, wie die irrige Annahme, wir hätten den Kalten Krieg gewonnen, uns dazu verleitet hat, als Neues Rom aufzutreten. Wir haben uns mit 725 Militärbasen rund um die ganze Welt in anderer Leute Ländern breit gemacht. Wir spionieren an vermutlich 300 weiteren Orten e-mails, Telefongespräche und Faxe aus. Wir behalten Stillschweigen über neue ständige Militärstützpunkte im Irak und in Afghanistan und über das gigantisch große, gigantisch teure von Cheneys Ex-Arbeitgebern Kellogg, Brown & Root gebaute Camp Bondsteel im Kosovo, an der geplanten Trans-Balkan-Pipeline. Auch die gesamten Geheimdienstausgaben und 40% des Militärhaushaltes sind geheim. Selbst ein anderer Präsident und ein durch und durch honoriger Kongress stünde gegenüber den Geheimdiensten und dem militärisch-industriellen Komplex auf verlorenem Posten. Verlierer sind auch die Soldatinnen und Soldaten, denen man eine gesicherte Zukunft mit Aufstiegschancen und Pensionsansprüchen vorgaukelte, bevor sie als Kanonenfutter in den Irak geschickt wurden. Ich befürchte, dass das Neue Imperium – so wie einst das Römische Weltreich – immer mehr zu einer Militärdiktatur wird, die angesichts des riesigen US Handelsdefizits im Handumdrehen am Bestellstab daherkommen könnte.
Sollte es so weit kommen, könnte ich meiner geliebten alten Russian Blue Katze zuliebe nur in Malaga Zuflucht nehmen, weil es dort keine lange Quarantäne für sie gibt. Vorher lassen Sie mich jedoch noch Ihre Fragen beantworten.
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Ich denke, dass man den Einfluss des Philosophen Leo Strauss auf das neo-konservative „Project for the New American Century“ nicht überbewerten sollte. Es geht bei diesen Leuten weniger um Leo Strauss, sondern um ihre engen Beziehungen zum rechten Flügel der Likud Partei und zu Benjamin Netanyahu. Sie wollen den Irak um jeden Preis vernichten, selbst auf Kosten amerikanischer Interessen. Um von ihnen und damit auch vom Pentagon ernst genommen zu werden, hätte Saddam Hussein – wie Nordkorea – über Massenvernichtungswaffen verfügen müssen. Natürlich geht es um Erdöl. Alle unsere führenden Politiker, Condi Rice inbegriffen, kommen ja aus der Ölwirtschaft. Natürlich wollte auch der Präsident nach der Plünderung der Pensionskassen und den Korruptionsskandalen seine Zustimmungswerte durch einen patriotischen Akt aufbessern. Was eignet sich dafür mehr als ein patriotischer Krieg!
Warum die 130 Länder unsere 725 Militärstützpunkte akzeptieren?
Einerseits aus Scham über die Erniedrigung wenn wir uns über ihre Gesetze hinwegsetzen und amerikanische Vergewaltiger einfach außer Landes bringen, andererseits aus Eitelkeit, weil man dem neuen Großen Freund einen Gefallen tun möchte oder weil man selbst auch nicht viel von Demokratie und Menschenrechten hält.
Ob ein demokratischer Präsident noch etwas ändern könnte?
Die Sowjetunion ging unter, weil ihre Wirtschaft - ähnlich wie Enron und die Aktienbörse bei uns - sich allen Reformbestrebungen widersetzte. Und obwohl Michael Gorbatschow der erste Staatsmann in der Geschichte war, der sein Reich freiwillig aufgab und auch die Rote Armee nicht von der Kette nahm als die Berliner Mauer fiel, gelang es ihm nicht, seine Reformpläne gegen die Gier der neuen russischen Wirtschaftsbosse durchzusetzen. Warum könnte etwas Ähnliches nicht auch in den USA passieren? Vielleicht weil im Februar 2003 weltweit 10 Million Menschen auf die Strasse gingen, um gegen den drohenden Krieg im Irak zu demonstrieren; weil bereits 1999 in Seattle eine Koalition aus unterschiedlichsten Menschengruppen den Internationalen Währungsfond, die Welthandelsorganisation und die Weltbank als undemokratisch bezeichnet hatten? Prominenten Annalisten, wie Friedman von der New York Times, verschlug es die Sprache und Berlusconi beschimpfte die Kritiker als Taliban-Horden. Aber Seattle war der Anfang einer weltweiten „Anti-Bush-“ und „Pro-Demokratie“- Bewegung.
Und wer weiß, vielleicht bewirkt diese Bewegung mehr als die demokratische Partei der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika..
Radio Lora, 14. August 2006
Blowback: Impacts of the New Militarism
Seattle, Washington 11 February 2004
Chalmers Johnson is the author of the national bestseller Blowback. He is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. His latest book is Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic.
I thought I would begin with just a quick rundown of the origins of my own American Empire Project. Blowback, subtitled The Cost and Consequences of American Empire, was researched and written during 1998-1999. It was published early in the year 2000. It grew out of two quite specific influences on me. As I say in the front of the book, I had been throughout the Cold War a spear carrier for empire. I believed the Soviet Union was a genuine menace. I was in that sense a routine professor of international relations.
Two things happened. One was the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. I expected a much greater peace dividend, a much greater withdrawal of the United States from its elaborate military apparatus around the world, to confront the Soviet Union. Instead, our government did everything in its power to find a replacement enemy, almost at once, and it shored up the old Cold War structures, particularly in East Asia and in Latin America. This struck me analytically as an important development. It raised the question, was the Cold War in fact a cover for something more fundamental. Was the Cold War in fact a way of justifying something that the leaders of our government did not think was fully justifiable, namely, an American imperial project, going back to World War II and growing out of the demise of the British Empire. As I say, I expected a great deal more. It didn't come, and it required analysis.
The second concrete influence. Okinawa is sort of the Japanese equivalent of Puerto Rico. It's the poorest island in the Japanese archipelago, the most southern island. It was seized and annexed into the Japanese empire about the same time we were seizing and annexing Puerto Rico. It has always been discriminated against. The Japanese use it today as a dumping ground for our troops so that self-respecting Japanese on the mainland won't have to live near them or listen to them, or be raped by them, is what it really adds up to. On September 4, 1995, two marines and a sailor from Camp Hanson, in central Okinawa, had abducted, beaten, and raped a 12-year-old girl. It set off the biggest anti-American demonstrations in Japan since the security treaty was signed. The governor of Okinawa had invited me to come in February of 1996 to talk to his staff about this incident.
And I was simply appalled by 38 American military bases located on an island smaller than Kawai in the Hawaiian Islands. The headquarters of the Third Marine Division, together, living cheek by jowl with 1,300,000 Okinawan civilians. The commandant of U.S. forces in Japan at that time was General Richard Myers, who is, of course, today chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Myers made the usual kind of propaganda that you get from the military apparatus, that this was an exceptionally tragic incident, three bad apples, etc. My research led to the discovery that over the last 50 years the rate of sexually violent crimes against Okinawan women by our troops leading to court martial is two per month, and that continues right now. There was nothing even slightly exceptional about this except that the Marines went too far this time in raping a 12-year-old girl who was not fully socialized. A group of women - I admire them a great deal - called Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence have protected her very effectively but also have assisted her in getting revenge.
My first reaction to Okinawa was that this place has to be exceptional. Nobody watches it, the military is very skillful in their public relations, the journalists don't come here. For 20 years after the war it was a military colony governed by an American Army lieutenant general. But then I went on to do research in the other great enclaves of bases around the world, in Germany, in Italy, in the Persian Gulf, in Diego Garcia, in places like that, and I discovered that, no, Okinawa is not unique, it's typical, that this is what comes with this base world: sexually violent crimes, environmental pollution, hit-and-run driving, bar brawls, prostitution, things of this sort.
The book was written, intended as a specific warning to Americans of what was likely to happen to them in view of our foreign policy. You should understand the word “blowback.” It was first used by the CIA in their after-action report on their first covert operation, the overthrow of the government of Iran, of Mohammad Mossadeq, in 1953 for the sake of the British Petroleum Company while pretending that he was a Communist.
Actually, the Pope would have more likely been a Communist than Mossadeq. They said in the report, which was declassified only a few years ago, that we may expect some “blowback” from what we've done in Iran. And, of course, it became a model for then comparable incidents Guatemala, Brazil, the Congo, Chile, Greece, Cuba, throughout Indochina. Probably the most recent one was just the overthrow of the government in Georgia. It has every sign of an American-inspired operation.
Blowback does not mean simply the unintended consequences of American foreign policy actions. It means the unintended consequences of actions that have been kept secret from the American public. It means retaliation, but when the retaliation comes, the American public has no possible way to put it in context. The people on the receiving end, it's not secret to them, but it is secret to the American public. That's why someone like Bush, a week after September 11, 2001, said to the Congress rhetorically, “Why do they hate us?” You could easily have said to them that people in your immediate entourage are the ones who could best answer that question, that is, former Secretary of Defense Cheney, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, NSC staff during the first Bush administration, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage. These people ran the biggest single clandestine operation our country has ever carried out, namely, the recruiting, arming, and sending into combat of the mujahideen militants in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when we armed them for the first time with Stinger surface-to-air missiles, the only time they had ever been used. They're now around the world and threaten civil aviation almost everywhere.
I was again startled by the Bush Administration's blundering response. In trying to understand the causes of these terrorist acts and respond appropriately, the Bush Administration refused to ask the most obvious of forensic questions, what were the motives of the people involved. Osama bin Laden is a man from a wealthy Saudi family, long life spent in the construction industry. He's the sort of man who you would have more likely seen on the ski slopes at Gstaad with a blonde Swiss girl on his arm or as a house guest at Kennebunkport, part of the military-petroleum complex. He, like his fellows, were disgusted when, after the Soviet Union was defeated in 1989, the Americans simply walked away and allowed Afghanistan to decline into a miserable civil war. By 1992, Kabul looked like Hiroshima. Moreover, they were deeply outraged by the decision of the Bush Administration to put U.S.
troops in Saudi Arabia out at Prince Sultan Air Base, starting in 1990. That is, Saudi Arabia, the house of Saud, the ruling house, is understood in Islamic circles to be responsible for the defense of the two most sacred sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina. It was an insult to Saudi Arabians for us to put our troops there. Lieutenant Colonel McSally, she's the highest-ranking female pilot in the U.S. Air Force, was based at Prince Sultan Air Base.
She was outraged. She said publicly, “I'm allowed to fly an F16, but in this country I can't drive a car,” and that she was forced to wear an abaya, that is, a full-length covering for devout Islamic women, whenever she left the base. She sued Rumsfeld and won her case. But my argument is she never should have been there in the first place. It just simply was a terrible mistake.
Bush chose to go to war in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime, which we had previously favored. We were delighted to see them come to power, for the sake of the Union Oil Company of California that wished to build oil and gas pipelines across Afghanistan, from Tajikistan to the Arabian Sea in Pakistan, and we had no objections at all to the order that they had imposed, even though it was of a 13th-century variety. It was only later that we did.
Secondly, of course, the decision to go to war with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, a decision, we now know from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, that was actually made in January 2001, when the Bush Administration came to power. Also, I'm not here just to criticize the Bush Administration. There is a great deal of continuity with previous administrations on these kinds of issues. America has been trying to tap the oil resources of the Caspian Basin for a long time. I've actual I swum in the Caspian Sea, and I do remember it quite well, the slightly oily smell of the place. When I did it, it was better known for sturgeon and caviar than it was for oil drilling. But the guru of the Republican Party, former Secretary of State Jim Baker, his law firm, Baker & Butts, actually has an office in Baku, Azerbaijan. I want to tell you, there is not much legal business to do in Baku, Azerbaijan. They're there as part of the military-petroleum complex, as well as our bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The decision to go to war with Iraq was basically designed to steal Iraq's petroleum resources and was put into operation, according to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, in July of 2002, well before any of the Bush Administration’s posturing at the U.N. We know this because she testified to Congress that Richard Haass, the chairman of the policy planning staff in the State Department had called her in July of 2002 and said he would like to have an appointment to talk about Iraq, and she said: Save your breath. The decision is made. There is no reason for you to come over here. We're going ahead with it anyway. Certainly, in making these decisions, the government knew that Saddam was not a threat to the United States and that he had nothing whatsoever to do with al-Qaeda.
In his now notorious “long, hard slog” memo of October 16 of last year, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld wrote, “To date, we lack metrics.” He's a stand-up comic and he likes words like “metrics.” He means measure. “To date, we lack [a measure] to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.” That's simply wrong. We do have a quite good metric, that is, a measure. From 1993 through 2001, through 9/11/2001, that is, through the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, al-Qaeda managed to carry out five major bombings around the world successfully. Since that time, in two years they've carried out 17. That's down to and including the suicide bombing of the HSBC Bank and the British consulate in Istanbul.
We are losing the war on terror. The U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq have only increased the threat of al-Qaeda. The tactic of terrorism, that is, attacking the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable, is an extremely old tactic. Part of the strategy is to elicit a military overreaction from the target regime, one of the things that has certainly occurred in this context, with devastating results. There is only, really, one effective way to deal with a terrorist strategy, and that is the attempt to separate the militant and probably irreconcilable activists from their passive supporters. The only way you can do that is to respond to the legitimate grievances of the passive supporters by altering your foreign policy. Once you have done that, then you have some hopes that these passive supporters will become disgusted with this form of violence and allow you to arrest them.
In the wake of 9/11, there were three things that we could have done almost at once that would have surely defused much of the issues. First was to withdraw our troops from Saudi Arabia. They never should have been there in the first place.
The defense of the house of Saud is not going to be carried out militarily in any case. We did withdraw them after the fall of Baghdad, knowing full well that we should have had them out a long time earlier.
Secondly, we should have said, “As a matter of national policy the American public believes in the survival of Israel. We are prepared to sign a treaty with Israel, if need be, to guarantee your security. But that does not include Zionist imperialism in the West Bank and in Gaza.” We give Israel $3 billion out of the defense budget every year. It has the largest fleet of F16s of any nation on earth outside of our own. It is not a small and defenseless country; it is a nuclear power. And we should, I believe, have withheld those funds until Israel began to withdraw. Having not done so, we now have literally no credibility in any Islamic country on earth. But also, I want to assure you, we have greatly added to the long-range dangers to the survival of Israel. Ariel Sharon and the right wing of the Likud Party are creating a cancer for the people of Israel in the West Bank.
The third thing we should have done was instantaneously have undertaken a program of fuel conservation in this country. With the technology that is readily available today and shows up in Japanese cars every time you turn around anyway, we could have ended our entire dependence on petroleum from the Persian Gulf. Instead, the symbol of America for cartoon writers in Europe after 9/11 was some jerk driving down the freeway in a Chevrolet Suburban, it gets 11 miles to the gallon; they doubled sales after 9/11, with an American flag attached to his antenna. And it was a disaster.
We didn't do any of these things, and the situation has been made much worse, to the point that today we're in Iraq and we can neither leave nor stay. If we stay, the casualties will mount to a politically unacceptable level. If we get out, we almost certainly ask for a civil war that will inflame the rest of the area because a semi-independent Kurdistan will be intolerable to Turkey, a semi-independent Shia southern Iraq will be extremely attractive to Iran, and the Sunnis will regard themselves as surrounded by enemies. Iraq was an artificial country created by British imperialism after the First World War. It should have always been recognized.
It was in light of these post-9/11 events that I began to look for reasons other than the ones stated by our government for our policies. The results of this research are reported in The Sorrows of Empire. I concluded that after 1991 we made a classic error, a Talleyrand-type error. We concluded that we had won the Cold War, whereas the truth of the matter is we have in recent times been tending down exactly the same path that the former Soviet Union took. We were always richer. We didn't lose it quite as badly as they did. From this belief that we won the Cold War, many prominent Republican, but not entirely Republican, international relations theorists, General Zinni would call them chicken hawks, those without any experience of either war or barracks life. I'm not saying the president has to be a veteran, but at times it wouldn't hurt. It's an odd situation in the Pentagon where every civilian leader has no knowledge whatsoever of what goes on in war or in the armed forces. Having concluded that we won the Cold War, these people concluded we were a new Rome, we were a colossus athwart the world, we were beyond good and evil, we didn't need friends. They as much as used the old slogan of the Roman Empire, “We do not care whether they love us so long as they fear us,” and as much as said so. Wolfowitz began writing this in the last years of the Bush Sr. administration. They were then out of power during the Clinton Administration but organized into something called the Project for the New American Century. They came back in with the Bush Administration and then hijacked our foreign policy after 9/11 to begin to implement their plans of preemptive war and things of that sort.
At the heart of my book is an analysis of our 725 military bases spread around the world in other people's countries. That 725 is the official number reported in the Base Structure Report of the Pentagon, an annual report on real estate owned by the military. The number is actually probably at least 300 more than that. None of the espionage bases are listed, and they are huge installations, Men with Hills in Yorkshire, it's our main base for listening to every single e-mail, telephone call, fax, what else it may be, across the Atlantic. We know what goes on there, largely because of a very prominent woman, Lindis Percy, of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who has made her career breaking into these places and demonstrating what goes on there. Every time she's about to be tried and convicted for criminal trespass, the U.S. embassy withdraws the charges on grounds that it would reveal far much more than we want revealed. If many of you remember, she was the one seen hanging an American flag upside down on the gates of Buckingham Palace when the boy emperor arrived for his state visit. We don't report in there any of the bases in Kyrgyzstan, in Uzbekistan. We do not report the four bases being built, permanent bases, in Iraq, none of the bases in Afghanistan.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, they do not report Camp Bondsteel in the Balkans, in Kosovo. The army likes to say there are only two man made objects you can see from outer space: one is the Great Wall of China and the other is Camp Bondsteel. It was built in 1999 by the Kellogg, Brown & Root subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton Company. It's the most expensive base we've built since the Vietnam War. This is in an area where we're supposed to be there on a peacekeeping operation that Bill Clinton said would last six months and President Bush ran on the ticket of we shouldn't be there at all and should withdraw. We're there in the most permanent base you ever saw. But it's part of the military-petroleum complex. That's where the oil that we are planning to extract from the Caspian Sea would be taken, across the Black Sea by ship, then through a trans-Balkan pipeline from Bulgaria opening into the Adriatic in Albania. And this base is directly on that route. That route was also surveyed for us by the Kellogg, Brown & Root company.
Kellogg, Brown & Root does all the services there. Those of you who are veterans, you would not recognize life in the armed forces today, if you are a veteran of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. You no longer do KP, you don't clean latrines. You don't do any of that. It's all farmed out to private entrepreneurs, an extremely expensive business. Soldiers at Camp Bondsteel say that “We ought to have a patch that says, ‘Services provided by Kellogg, Brown & Root of Houston.’” Of the $87 billion that was just recently appropriated for the war in Iraq, fully a third of it is going to private military corporations to provide these services to our troops.
One of the themes of my book, again, I don't want to dwell on this or take too much time; I'm going to come to an end pretty fast, is that imperialism is inevitably accompanied, it's the Siamese twin - they're inseparable, by militarism. Militarism is not the defense of the country. Militarism is vested interests in the standing army. It is what the two most famous generals who became presidents of our country warned us against. George Washington, in his famous farewell address, when he spoke of the dangers of standing armies, that they were an enemy of liberty and particularly of republican liberty. Washington was not an isolationist. What he had in mind was that the maintenance of a standing army inevitably draws power away from the congress and the courts toward the imperial presidency. The other, equally famous, you really ought to read it all at some point, is Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address in 1961, in which he invented the phrase “military-industrial complex.” He meant to say, we know from his memoirs, “military-industrial-congressional complex,” but he was warned off not to use that phrase. But he spoke quite powerfully of hidden power.
Well, it's here. It's in power today. I think it's fairly obvious that George Bush can be defeated or is in the process of defeating himself. It is not at all obvious that anyone who replaced him could stand up to the vested interests of the Pentagon, of the secret intelligence agencies, and the military industrial complex. We may very well have already crossed the Rubicon on those issues. I'll come back in a moment to why. But just do bear in mind, 40% of the defense budget is secret. All of the intelligence budgets are secret. Even if you had a completely honest Congress, it's impossible to do oversight if you can't get the facts. Contrary to Article I of the Constitution, the American public has not had an honest and accurate accounting of how their tax money is spent since World War II, since the Manhattan Project, building atomic bombs, which has never been fully reported.
In my last chapter, I dwell on what I call the four sorrows of empire. These are endless war, the end of the republic, lying and propaganda by the government, and bankruptcy. Let me just say a word or two about these..
Bush and Cheney between them have now identified between 50 and 60 nations in which they wish to bring about regime change using our Roman legions. There is a command within the Pentagon today working on how to implement that. It's part of what Colin Powell has referred to as our new family of bases, places that we are building in what we call the arc of conflict from essentially Colombia, in the Andean region, across through the Middle East, down into Southeast Asia, into the Philippines and Indonesia.
As for the end of the republic, what I have in mind here is precisely a sort of drawing on the end of the Roman Republic. It lasted two centuries. The way it came to an end was that the Romans had, rather thoughtlessly, acquired themselves an empire, and then they discovered that required massive standing armies. Until that time, the Roman legions were raised - it's one of the things I always admired about the Roman Republic - they had conscription, but the people they conscripted were the richest people in the society, those who had the greatest to lose.
They didn't want slaves or plebs in the Roman legions. These were farmers. They went off to a single battle. They fought, they came back, they marched through the Forum in triumph, and went back to their fields. Once you got standing armies, then you began to develop vested interests in the military as a career.
Again, I just want to remind you, service in the armed forces today is not an obligation of citizenship, it is a career choice. Since 1973, people are in the armed forces for their particular reasons, in many cases to escape one or another dead end of the society. PFC Lynch, after she was wounded at Nasariya was asked on one of the news programs, “Why did you join the Army?” She said, “I couldn't get a job at Wal-Mart in Palestine, West Virginia. I joined the Army to get out of Palestine, West Virginia.” It's genuinely a career choice. Well, this is a different kind of career choice. You join the Army, you sleep in your tank on the DMZ all day, you sleep in the arms of Korean prostitutes in the evening, and you get out and take the police exam. It's a career. It's got a good pension on it. And that's true. African Americans are twice as well represented in the Army as they are in the society. Fifty percent of the women in the armed forces are national minorities. It's a very odd kind of army. What you must understand, they didn't expect to be shot at. In fact, the Army even promises them that they're not going to be shot at.
That may be the greatest restraint on the empire right now, which is, again, a little bit like the Roman Republic, that they may not continue to enlist. We're running out of cannon fodder. And the alternatives are then, obviously, to turn to the draft, which would be politically explosive, or the classic imperial activity is to look for sepoys, look for foreigners to do your fighting for you. We tried that in Vietnam, we tried it many times in the past. We could try it again.
The end of the republic refers to what happened in a certain sense -- so much of our Constitution is inspired by Roman precedents. You will recall that the great defenses of the Constitution by Madison, Jay, and others in the Federalist Papers are all signed Publius. Who was Publius? Publius Agricola was the first Roman consul. The separation of powers, term limits, toleration of slavery - all of these things came from Roman precedents.
What happened at the end of the Roman Republic was that vested interests in the military became so overwhelming that some members of the conservative senate now chose to represent the armed forcs against civilian rule, the most famous, of course, being the genius Julius Caesar. But after his assassination in the senate in 44 B.C., this then led on to another boy emperor, Octavian, who in 27 B.C. became the god Augustus Caesar. The senate threw in the towel, and Rome became a military dictatorship. The succeeding leaders were Tiberius, who withdrew to Capri with a covey of small boys to entertain himself; then Caligula, a genuine madman; Claudius, who was poisoned by his wife with a poisoned mushroom, we believe in order to bring her son to power, namely, Nero. This is not exactly good government, is what I'm getting at. For those of you who are Christians, Nero did manage to really make something out of Peter and Paul that the Christians don't forget.
The end of the republic, to me probably the most inspiring figure in our public life right now is that odd character, Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia - but, again, he's an old man from an extremely poor state - giving these passionate, unimaginably brilliant lectures to an empty senate chamber. He is our Cicero, but he's old enough, he's not going to end up the way Cicero did. Cicero ended up with his head in both hands nailed to the Forum wall by Octavian for playing the same kind of role as we move toward military dictatorship. But the times are perilous, and even though Byrd believes the American public, once they realize how cheated they have been and how the republic has been stolen from them, will rise up and resist, I'm not myself sure any longer. I'd be glad to talk about that. Adlai Stevenson, once somebody in the audience said to him, “You have all the intellectuals in the country behind you.” And he said, “That's great. What I need is a majority.” And that's where you don't see it today.
Lying and propaganda by the government, these are the biggest issues of all. But easily the best example of all was February 5 of last year, when the secretary of state, seated in the U.N. Security Council, with the director of the CIA seated directly behind him as if he were a potted plant, in order to provide credibility for what he was saying, attempted to even recreate the rather famous scene in which Adlai Stevenson in the same hall came in with the U2 pictures of Russian missiles in Cuba and offered our evidence to the world, and they joined us in demanding that this be avoided. We now know that every single thing Colin Powell said that day was a tissue of lies, and he had every reason to know that they were. There is not a serious statesman on earth today who would trust anything our secretary of state had to say.
Even if the American people are willing to see their Constitution go by the boards, I would just simply mention to you, Madison, in defending the Constitution, said that the single most important article in it was that one that stipulates the war power can only be in the hands of the elected representatives of the people. Never, he said, under any circumstances should it be entrusted to a single man or woman. In October of 2002, our Congress voted to give that power to a single man, when he chose to do it, in any circumstances, including the use of atomic weapons. And there was virtually no debate. The only two people who even addressed the issue directly were Senator Byrd and Senator Warner from Virginia, on the opposite side from Byrd.
The burden of proof is on you if you wish to argue that the structure of government outlined in the Constitution of 1787 still prevails. Articles IV and VI of the Bill of Rights right now are dead letters. That is to say, you do not have the right of habeas corpus if you're a citizen in a federal court right now, and you are not protected from searches and seizures in your home right now. We will soon find out if the Supreme Court that appointed this president is prepared to do anything about that. But right now the president has the power, it's a new concept he's invented, to declare a citizen a bad guy. And if you declare a citizen a bad guy, you can throw him in a Naval prison in Charleston, South Carolina, and throw the key away.
I didn't mention to you the last of the sorrows, bankruptcy. Bankruptcy? Herb Stein, when he was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, used to say, “Things that can't go on forever don't.” What's happening right now is that we are very close to the point where they can't go on much longer, deficits of the sort that we're running. A $400 billion defense budget, not even including Iraq and Afghanistan, or atomic energy and the Department of Energy, all of these other things, probably runs up to a half trillion dollars a year, which is not being funded. All it takes is for the people in the rest of the world, who save their money and lend it to us to balance our trade deficits, to up and decide that the Euro is a better bet than the dollar. And the moment that happens, it's over: the United States has become a basket case.
Let me conclude. Lord Byron said of the Greeks, “I would have saved them if I could.” My own feeling is that it’s my wife keeps saying to me, “You can't end like this all the time.” When somebody stands up and says, “What should I do personally?” I say, “Well, if you've got a little money ahead, I'd buy a condo in Vancouver, or otherwise at least give some thought to your escape route.” I have a geriatric Russian Blue cat that I'm extremely fond of, so I've made an inquiry. The only good country on earth that will take a cat without a long quarantine is Spain. So it looks like Malaga for me, if it comes to it. But let me stop on that light note.
This book is not an upper, but I hope that it's written completely in the clear. And my purpose in writing it was simply to lay out a fairly large amount of data. And the devil is in the details here, that I'm reasonably certain very few Americans have. That's where the secrecy comes in. Let me stop there and respond to your questions and comments. Thank you very much.
Q & A
The question was about the group of so-called neoconservatives today, the term that's used. They're organized into an organization - it has its own Web site; you ought to take a look at it - called the Project for the New American Century. It has been alleged in the press that many of these people were educated at the University of Chicago and influenced by the political philosopher Leo Strauss.
I think you can make too much out of this. I have to say to you that my teacher of moral philosophy ages ago, when she was at Berkeley, was Hannah Arendt. Arendt did not care for Strauss at all, so I never paid that much attention to him. What I thought you were going to say rather than Leo Strauss, there is ample evidence that within this group - and I am not in any sense trying to be anti-Israeli, because I'm in fact quite alarmed by the dangers that Israel is in today - many of these people have very close ties to the right wing of the Likud Party, I mean, close ties to Benjamin Netanyahu. They have written papers for him, they are personal associates of his, and things of this sort.
And much of what they stand for does reflect the particular views of the Sharonistas, if you will, that it serves their interests to destroy Iraq, even if it has not particularly served ours.
That is, what virtually all the rest of the world has now figured out from this war is that what was wrong with Saddam Hussein is that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction. If you do have them, then we take you quite seriously, and we're very cautious, as in North Korea. The result is the greatest single impetus toward nuclear proliferation because of the fear of the American juggernaut coming at you. I'm reasonably certain that Luis da Silva in Brazil, for example -- Brazil had a reasonably well developed program toward the creation of atomic weapons at one time, and they abandoned it when they signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. I'm certain that President da Silva has said to some of his advisers, or at least asked them, Make sure that the American ambassador doesn't hear any of this, but if they did start putting Brazil on an axis of something or other and thinking about it, because we don't buy their economic globalization ideas right now, tell me, how fast could we revive the program? That looks like it's the only thing that stops them.
So it's a very serious issue. But this, I think, reflects more Likud Israeli policy, which is extremely influential within the Pentagon.
Not for a minute to say, though, that that's the whole story. It's also petroleum politics. Every senior figure in our government is a former petroleum executive, including, certainly, Condi Rice. She was a member of the board of Chevron until the day before she went into the government. She had a supertanker named after her, The Condoleezza Rice. After she went into the government, they changed it to some obscure name. As a former naval person, we usually regard that as bad luck, to change the name of a ship. But give her credit, it was a double-hulled tanker. It's not going to be an Exxon Valdez, at any rate. Oil politics and the determination to both maintain our profligate use of fossil fuels as well as to control other countries by dominating the supply, was certainly part of it.
Third, I think we have to add in the weapons of mass distraction. As 2002 progressed, Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, undoubtedly said to him, You are dead on arrival. You have almost no legitimacy in the country. Workers' pension funds are being pilfered, corruption in our corporations, in Martha Stewart, in the Stock Exchange. It's a tradition that the party in the White House loses in an off-year election. What should we do? History tells you what to do. Go to war. Make the eagle scream. Make it a patriotic issue. Wrap yourself in the flag. And it's worked. Beware of an October surprise this year,too. Remember, no date on earth is better known in international politics to every single political leader on earth than the date of the American presidential election. It's fixed in stone. It's not like a parliamentary system. It's not that the prime minister can dissolve the government when he wishes to go to the people, things of that sort. And we're therefore in a very highly political season right now.
The question was, Why do the 130 countries around the world in which we have these 725 military bases accept them.
The main, root cause is war. That is to say, we've acquired them in the course of our wars, the huge enclaves in Okinawa, in Japan, 101 bases in South Korea, in Germany, in Italy. Every time we go to war, we establish more and new military bases.
And we very rarely close them when the war is over. That, as I say, in my view, has slowly grown into a form of empire in which the military base is today the equivalent of what used to be the colony.
Why do nations accept these things? It's a complex issue, I think. That is, they also are often humiliated by the status-offorces agreements that we impose them, essentially to try and protect our soldiers from ever being held responsible for crimes they commit in these societies, to provide extraterritoriality for them in one form or another. Very commonly we simply fly an accused rapist out of the country before the local police has a chance to get him. This has been particularly prevalent in the Pacific. It's racist. That is, in Germany, you commit a crime, the German police will arrest you and try you in a German court. They can also go after you on an American military base. You can't begin to do a thing like that in Japan or Korea. These agreements are so embarrassing that they're kept secret in the Islamic countries where we have bases, huge base enclaves in Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Republic, Oman. One-third of Kuwait is occupied by us right now, the whole northern third of the country.
But it is basically a complex of reasons. Sometimes they have accepted military bases for the implicit understanding that we will protect a small country against an allegedly dangerous neighbor. This is much the way British imperialism used to act in the past. In other cases it is simply to try and curry favor with the colossus of the United States. We much prefer bases in countries that are explicitly antidemocratic. That makes it easier for us, as in, say, Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. These are ruled by former Soviet leaders who are as unpleasant characters as you could imagine. President Bush says that he loathes Kim Jong Il of North Korea. These characters could give Kim Jong Il a run for his money, but they've all been entertained in the Oval Office of the White House. It is interesting to me, when he says he loathes Kim Jong Il, I always thought that Bush and Kim Jong Il have at least one thing in common: without their daddies, neither of them would be where they are today. They share that. But it's a combination of pressure, force, or, in many cases, we engineered the government that invited us in.
Echoing back to what you said about it might be too late, even if a Democratic person got into the White House at this time, I felt incredibly frustrated by the real obvious manipulation of the media of the Democratic race and with the different candidates.
And I'd like your comments on that. I'd like your comments on Kerry as a possibility and what kind of job you think he would do. And would you please elaborate on what you said about if a Democrat got in at this point, it may be too late. And is there anything we can do about that?
These are complex questions, and I just have to say at the outset, I'm not a prophet. Cassandra was the only one that was really any good at that sort of thing. And she was right: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. There was something in that horse. And I'm not as good as she was. I don't have that kind of track record. But what I think we can say here is that -- here's the reason that I worry that they can't be stopped.
We know with precision today the things that brought down the Soviet Union in 1991. They were, first, domestic, ideological rigidity in its economic institutions, making it very hard to reform them. Do we have that? That's what Enron, the Stock Exchange, all the rest of it is all about. The second was imperial overstretch. They were simply stretched too far, just as we are today. But third was the inability to reform. As a teacher of international relations, we usually say no empire ever voluntarily gave up. The only exception I can think of to this is probably Mikhail Gorbachev, that is, that he did make the decision in 1989 that he would rather have friendly relations with France and Germany than he would with these rundown and decrepit satellites like Romania and Bulgaria in East Europe, and therefore he did not use the Red army when the Berlin Wall was breached. The point, though, is that no matter how hard he tried, he was stopped cold by vested interests within the Soviet Union. And remember, the Soviet Union was a very different country from Russia. Russia is a much smaller place than what the old Soviet Union used to be. He was stopped cold. And when I think about that, I ask myself, Are there vested interests in this country, even if you did come up with a leader who wanted to reform? I think they're more entrenched, been there longer, and profit more than any apparatchik in the Soviet system ever thought of doing.
As for the particular Democratic candidates, I have a Howard Dean bumper strip on my car. I realize it's over, but the reason it is there is because I think the only issue is the Constitution. I think that is the issue. And he was the first to identify that that was the issue. But I'm still appalled by the fact that no Democrat, and certainly not the party, has begun even slightly, Kucinich probably has, to articulate an alternative program of what we need in the way of armed force, what does it take to defend the country. Ought we reinstitute the obligation of citizens to defend the country, when needed, but scale down the standing army? The Department of Defense today is not a Department of Defense; it's an alternative form of government on the south bank of the Potomac River. But to try to think of something optimistic, I'm about tell you something optimistic. But I don't know anything about Kerry. Look, it's the year of the monkey. I'll vote for a monkey against this government. You may just have to go out and do that.
In February of 2003, 10 million people on earth, in every major democracy marched and demonstrated against the war impending in Iraq: the 400,000 in New York City, 2 million in London, the largest demonstration in British history, a million each in Berlin, Madrid, Rome, etc. That movement grew out of something that actually started here in Seattle, that is, in November 1999, when a really amazing coalition of people came together to expose that the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank were among the most undemocratic institutions. That's when they really sort of put it on the map. It caused any number of prominent analysts in America, like Friedman of The New York Times, to almost have apoplexy. Berlusconi described them as “Talibanized hordes.” I live in southern California. I know two extremely wealthy physicians from Newport Beach who flew up here and walked with the Vietnamese delegation in turtle costumes. These guys are extremely serious environmentalists.
They said they will never forget the Seattle police. They came away controlling their enthusiasm for the Seattle police. They also said, “We doctors know where to kick.” But it is just to say, that movement has grown into what is now a global anti-Bush, pro-democracy movement that hasn't gone away, it hasn't disappeared.
The World Social Forum finished its convention in Bombay. If you have not read Arundhati Roy's speech, you should. It is absolutely brilliant. As usual, she says things that nobody else ever said before, and then they are common knowledge after she says them. You will recall that this speech is called “Do the Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” What she's concerned with there is our habit or our practice in America of singling out a single turkey that the president forgives and sends out to live a happy life on a Virginia farm while we eat the rest of them. She believes that this saved turkey is typical of people of the Third World. She goes out of her way to say that “I am a saved turkey. I am a rich writer in India. I am not starving like most people here.” She identifies Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as two obvious American turkeys. Do read it, though, if for no reason than that she says, “I'm tired of demonstrating. I want action,” and she calls for a global boycott against the U.S.
Whether this kind of movement can actually influence events is obviously an open question. It has already had rather considerable influence. I personally believe such a movement is as important as the rise of a new alternative superpower confronting the Roman Empire in its particular pretenses toward world domination. I ultimately think that might make more difference than the Democratic Party. Thank you very much.
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