Taj Hashmi

American militarism and its short- and long-term implications

September 21, 2012

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies …. There is an alternative to national bankruptcy, a bigger police state, trillion-dollar wars, and a government that draws ever more parasitically on the productive energies of the American people.”

– Ron Paul, US Presidential Candidate (2008 & 2012)

“Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power…. That is how the American Empire functions.”

– Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of Treasury (1981-82)

American duplicities, arm-twisting diplomacy and overpowering influence of the Military-Industrial Complex have already undermine American values leading us to decades of devastating warfare in almost every continent. Meanwhile, as an Iranian “insider” Hossein Mousavian believes, if attacked by Israel or the US, the already nervous and estranged Iran would definitely go for the nuclear option by withdrawing from the NPT. Now, in view of the growing nuclear build-up in Pakistan and Iran’s potential to become a nuclear power, how the US is likely to react to these developments is anybody’s guess. Since America is fast moving towards “The Golden Age of Special Operations”, drone operations or “wars by remote” on a massive scale by abandoning the “boots-on-the-ground” policy, will be the new way of fighting America’s new wars in the coming years, and mostly in the Muslim World.

It appears that by the 2020s the “unipolar world” having America, as the global superpower will nearly disappear. The newly emerging democracies in the Arab World, including Egypt and Iraq; and possibly, an assertively pro-Muslim Turkey with very loose to non-existent ties with NATO and Israel; and possibly a nuclear-armed Iran in league with avowedly anti-American Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the long run will challenge American hegemony in the greater Middle East, South and Central Asia. By then the centres of economic development will further drift from the West to Asia, mainly to China and India. China is most likely to emerge as the main patron of this conglomerate of oil-rich and nuclear-armed nations.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

On the other hand, in view of the growing Russian influence in the region – as reflected in its veto against any UN-led invasion of Syria in early 2012 (China also vetoed against the proposal) – Russia is also expected to join the anti-American / anti-NATO conglomerate. As losing face or losing global hegemony is least desirable to American hawks and imperialists, they will try to reverse the process through major wars, first against some “manageable foes” like Iran, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and then possibly against Pakistan and others. Rising Saudi defence budget, $46 billion in 2011, is likely to further polarize the Middle East between pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian forces. American client states in the Arab World are likely to join the fray. Direct confrontation and even a prolonged war between Sunni Gulf states and Iran under Saudi leadership with American support and instigation is another most likely scenario in the coming years.

Meanwhile, America has made total mess of Iraq and Afghanistan, albeit to the advantage of the Military-Industrial Complex who made most of the “trillion-dollar-profit” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As we know, America started messing up with Iraq since the 1950s. Saddam Hussein was in CIA’s payroll up to the early 1960s and later he was in the best of terms with Reagan and Bush Sr. until he was duped into invading Kuwait in 1990 by the US Ambassador. During the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), America provided intelligence and logistics to Saddam Hussein against Iran. The whole world watched Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein in Baghdad during the War. However, soon after the end of the Iraq-Iran war in a stalemate, America clipped the wing of Saddam Hussein after he had become “menacingly powerful” to the detriment of its allies in the Middle East. American Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie on purpose misled Saddam Hussein, and sort of, gave him the green signal. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 led to the American-led invasion of Iraq, the “Operation Desert Storm”, in early 1991, which Saddam Hussein classified as the “Mother of All Battles”. The US ambassador is said to have told Saddam Hussein, it appears, only to encourage him to invade Kuwait:

But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 1960s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction. We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi (Chedli Klibi, Secretary General of the Arab League) or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly.

We all know how preposterous was the American argument in favour of the second US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Although many Americans still believe that there was an “intelligence failure” on part of the CIA – it misread and thought Saddam Hussein had the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and was building nuclear bombs – from Bush Jr. to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and almost every big wig in the US administration deliberately lied to the Americans and the whole world about the so-called WMD. We also know the real motive behind the invasion, giving the most powerful lobbies in America, Britain, Italy, Spain, Australia and other allied powers the opportunity to make billions as “profits” or “dividends” of the war. We also know that directly or indirectly the invaders killed more than a million Iraqis and the country is in total mess. It is, however, an irony that the “liberated” Iraq (and Afghanistan) is very close to Iran, America’s main nemesis in the Middle East. It is only a question of time when Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Afghan, Pakistani, Arab and Central Asian Shiites will come closer to each other to threaten American interests in the Middle East, South and Central Asia.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Finally, one may re-iterate the following positions in the light of the foregoing discussion on the nature and extent of American imperialism; if the Empire is likely to hit again on a massive scale to prolong the ongoing conflicts; and if there is a way out of a devastatingly destabilizing future in the coming decades. We know nothing in particular has all of a sudden gone wrong with Islam, and so many things seem to be going wrong with America (since 1492), we need an understanding of the factors –people, events and ideas – that have turned the richest country into the most hated empire in our times. Thanks to Reagan’s Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts’s succinct definition of the American Empire, we already know that the Empire “extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power”. He also tells us that the empire-builders have modified the US Constitution in the name of national security in such a manner that “Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent”. Craig Roberts’ appraisal is a good follow up of what President Eisenhower singled out in 1961 as the main perpetrator of all modern wars that America participated in after the Second World War, America’s Military-Industrial-Congressional Lobby.

The foregoing discussion leads us to the conclusion that we are fast entering the post-terrorist phase of history where state-terrorism and state-sponsored violence in the name of global peace, freedom, democracy, religion and sovereignty have been destabilizing the world. Several millions have already fell victims to state-sponsored violence, from Hiroshima to Vietnam, Rwanda-Burundi to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And many more are likely to follow them in the coming decades, mostly from the Muslim World. Now, one may raise the question: Is there a way out of the foreseeable mega wars in the names of the “War on Terror” or “Islam-in-Danger”? We know the answer, which might sound very sophomoric, that is the American people should force their government to restrain the Military-Industrial Complex from promoting wars and conflicts; make the Israeli Lobby accountable to US laws and regulations; and America should help resolve inter-state conflicts, especially over disputed territories (such as the Palestine, Taiwan and Kashmir problems) by simply not exercising its veto power in the UN and by not supporting either of the parties with money, arms or troops. America should also withdraw support from autocracies, especially in the Muslim World, as lack of democracy and freedom proliferates extremism and terrorism. Last but not least, there is no reason to assume that the ongoing Hundred-Year-War will remain confined to the asymmetric wars between the Empire and smaller states and non-state actors in the Muslim World. If not addressed, the conflicts would proliferate to engulf many more countries, including superpowers like China and Russia. One must always keep in mind that apparently insignificant event, such as the Sarajevo Incident, led to World War I and Hitler’s invasion of Poland to World War II. Unfortunately, we have already crossed the threshold of many more similar events, including 9/11 and unlawful invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. How America behaves with regard to Iran and Syria will be the most important catalysts in this regard.

It is time American civil societies, veterans and their family members, and common people take pro-active measures to demilitarize the American psyche for the sake of global peace and justice. They should know – as Eisenhower pointed out – American Military Industrial Complex is at the roots of all major wars America has fought since 1945. They should all take General Wesley Clark (ret) seriously, who revealed the US secret plan to invade seven countries, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Iran even before it invaded Afghanistan. The plan was revealed to the General ten days after 9/11 by some top brasses at the Pentagon. As General Clark reveals, what is most worrisome is that the US loves to use the hammer (its military) to fix whatever it thinks has gone wrong anywhere in the world. The US loves to invade countries because its military is great “to take down governments”. The American Congress (Eisenhower’s “Congressional Lobby”) and policy makers at the State Department (Senator Fulbright’s “Voodoo Magicians”) are too powerful and manipulative to be restrained by half-hearted peace initiatives by Americans. Last but not least, the bulk of Americans are so naïve, politically inert and indifferent that they hardly raise any question about their country’s foreign policy and invasions of one country after another (America wages a major war almost after every ten years) in the name of freedom and security of America. Again, Americans are too “patriotic” to question the justifications for the wars their country initiates in distant lands, or the ones their leaders are contemplating to wage in the near future.

(The article is a condensed version of the writer’s forthcoming book, Global Jihad and America, which is being published by Sage (Los Angeles-New York-London-New Delhi).

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Taj Hashmi is a faculty in Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee, USA.

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6 Responses to “ American militarism and its short- and long-term implications ”

  1. M.A.Hai on September 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Very good thought on the implications. It is not easy to write against politicians in a country where Mr. Hashmi is living . He is trying to point out implications correctly for ractification and awaring common Americans who very seldom care about people the way their leaders most often say ” people over there”. Carry on Mr. Hasmi.

  2. Withled on September 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @Kalam Ahmed – why do you continue to pay taxes to consecutive governments who waddle in sinful corruption? (assuming you live in Bangladesh)

    Please don’t raise silly issues about a well written article. Your comment clearly reflects the caliber of your thought.

    • Kalam Ahmed on September 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      Of course I live in Bangladesh, I am a Bengali and a Bangladeshi. I was born here, and intend to stay here. I am a good citizen, or try to be, and part of it means paying taxes and also resisting corruption however I can. But Taj Hashmi immigrated to USA of his own choice, and when doing so must have been fully aware of American militarism. He didn’t take up residence in USA and then one fine morning discover how bad and evil the Americans are. He made a choice. He then presumes to inform us about the USA and its militarism while paying taxes, which pays for such wars, to the US government.

      This issue is not silly at all. In case the news hasn’t reached you yet, the personal is the political. Also, we here are getting tired of probashi people lecturing us about the imperial power where they have (sinfully?) taken up residence. To repeat, the personal is the political.

      • Withled on September 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

        Kalam,
        Your failed attempt to get your point across with the feminist phrase of the 60’s – ‘personal is political’ – is rather self contradictory, if you realize the actual meaning of it.

        I too live in Bangladesh, but as a dual citizen, who pays more taxes in Bangladesh in a year, than you will in a lifetime (maybe in your book that buys me the license to lecture you?).

        Your narrow mindedness is the bane of our society and nation. This is the 21st century – women, and the world have progressed far beyond what your closed mindedness will allow. Referring to your ‘we here are getting tired of probashi people lecturing us’ point of course. Be open to diverse opinions and views regardless of the source. By simply shunning information in the 21st century, you are better off living in a cave.

  3. Kalam Ahmed on September 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Why has this writer chosen to live in the US and pay taxes to materially and financially support American wars?

    • Taj Hashmi on September 22, 2012 at 12:20 am

      Good question indeed — I wish I could get a job in another country with freedom to write whatever I want to write on, say Canada (my country), Australia, New Zealand. I tried Bangladesh for four years (1998-2002) as dean and professor at the IUB and was soon disgusted and disillusioned and migrated to Canada.

      By the way, thousands of American academics, intellectuals and politicians (tax payers and indirectly “supporters” of America’s unjust wars) have been writing against American Imperialism. All of them just cannot leave America for some other country.

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