The militarization of the U.S. and the strengthening of the National Security Complex continues to accelerate. In the post-9/11 era, the military-industrial complex has been thoroughly mobilized under the rubric of “privatization” and now goes to war with the Pentagon. With its $80 billion-plus budget, the intelligence bureaucracy has simply exploded. There are so many competing agencies and outfits, surrounded by a universe of private intelligence contractors, all enswathed in a penumbra of secrecy, and they have grown so large that you could say intelligence is now a ruling way of life in Washington -- and it, too, is being thoroughly militarized. Even the once-civilian CIA now runs its own “covert” drone wars in Pakistan. Diplomacy, too, has been militarized. The State Department is transforming itself into an unofficial arm of the Pentagon.
The Military Solution in the Greater Middle East If the institutions of American life and governance are increasingly militarized, then it shouldn’t be surprising that the problems facing the country are ever more often framed in militarized terms and that the only solutions considered are similarly militarized. In fact, Washington’s record there should be eye-opening. Here is a little regional scorecard of what American militarization has meant in the Greater Middle East, 2001-2012:
Pakistan: The U.S. has faced a multitude of complex problems in this nuclear nation beset with insurgent movements, its tribal areas providing sanctuary to both Afghan and Pakistani rebels and jihadis. Washington’s response has been war, a drone assassination campaign in the country’s tribal borderlands largely focused on al-Qaeda leaders. Those rare robotic air strikes have since expanded into something like a full-scale covert drone war that is killing civilians, is intensely unpopular throughout Pakistan, and by now is clearly meant to punish the Pakistani leadership for its transgressions as well.
Afghanistan: Following a November 2001 invasion the U.S. opted for a full-scale occupation and reconstruction of the country. In the process, it managed to spur the reconstruction and reconstitution of the previously deeply unpopular and defeated Taliban movement. An insurgent war followed. Despite a massive surge of U.S. forces, CIA agents, special operations troops, and private contractors into the country, the calling in of air power in a major way, and the expansion of a program of “night raids” by special ops types and the CIA, success has not followed. By the end of 2014, the U.S. is scheduled to withdraw its main combat forces from what is likely to be a thoroughly destabilized country.
Iran: In a program long aimed at regime change the U.S. has clamped energy sanctions on Iran, supported a special operations campaign, run a massive CIA drone surveillance program in the country’s skies, and (with the Israelis) loosed at least two major malware “worms” against the computer systems and centrifuges of its nuclear facilities, which even the Pentagon defines as acts of war. It has also backed a massive build-up of U.S. naval and air power in the Persian Gulf..
Iraq: The U.S. invaded in March 2003, occupying the country. It fought (and essentially lost) an eight-year-long counterinsurgency war, withdrawing its last troops at the end of 2011, but leaving behind in Baghdad the world’s largest, most militarized embassy. The country, now an ally and trading partner of Iran, remains unreconstructed and destabilized.
Kuwait: Just across the border from Iraq, the U.S. has continued a build-up of forces. In the future, according to a U.S. Senate report, there could be up to 13,000 U.S. personnel permanently stationed in the country.
Yemen: Washington, long a supporter of the country’s strong-man ruler, now backs the successor regime. It has put at least small numbers of special operations troops on the ground there as advisers and trainers and has escalated a combined CIA drone and Air Force manned-plane air campaign, helping further destabilize this impoverished and desperate land.
Bahrain: Home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, tiny Bahrain, facing a democratic uprising of its repressed Shiite majority, called in the Saudi military on a mission of suppression. The U.S. has offered military aid and support to the ruling Sunni monarchy.
Syria: In radically destabilized Syria, where a democracy uprising has morphed into a civil war that threatens to further destabilize the region, including Lebanon and Iraq, the CIA has now been dispatched to the Turkish border.
Somalia: Egypt: Libya: Tom Engelhardt sees nothing to be cheerful about here too.
How to Set the Planet on Fire and Learn Nothing (This is the heading for the concluding section of a long article.)
[Heavily edited excerpts from Tom Englehardt’s blog]