Toking Up to Run The World

By: W. Campbell - 06/17/03


Always a questionable historian, Robert D. Kaplan is at it again (“Supremacy By Stealth,” The Atlantic, July/August 2003). Conveniently forgetting the USG has institutionalized the incremental pursuit global domination at least since Woodrow Wilson, Kaplan, in his typically formulaic fashion, would give us ten rules to more “successful” global hegemony.

But we have had experience trying out his rules. By and large, they came together following WWII. 

WWII had forced our government ever more articulately to manage our economy. For those free market ideologues who pretend any management of the economy puts us on the slippery slope to Communism and is inimical to economic efficiency and to “democracy” the lessons they try to draw from our experiences during WWII are portentous. They form the negative backbone of the tripe we are daily fed about the virtues of free markets; to obscure the hoary fact that such markets give free rein to the wealthy to do to poorer people pretty much as they please. The free market is anything but democratic: market power, wealth rules.

Running with the ersatz hysterical anti-communist nonsense generated by Dean Acheson, Churchill, Truman, Forestall, the Dulleses, McCone and their ilk, organizations like the Committee on the Present Danger (Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis, South End Press, 1998) insisted democracy can be saved from regulation and Communism only by implementing a strategic posture informed by what Samuel Huntington has called “a strong sociology,” excluding the sort of foreign policy commitments we were to undertake from public scrutiny and securlarizing our crackbrained notion of Wilsonian nation building.

Such a sociology informs strategic planning by analyzing global trends and identifying the elites associated with them. Operational codes of these elites are aggregated unto categories and the capabilities of each category inventoried.

The “great game” is played vigorously to support those elites associated with trends considered positive for the US. 

For decades the USG has developed the capacity to play the game covertly and preemptively by managing elites, supporting them overtly only when military intervention is imperative and then using as often as possible private armies, the military of “friendly” states, or elements of the local military loyal to US objectives. With the coming of the Nixon administration it has been the commitment of the USG to make the American people ever more complicit in its machinations, primarily by elaborately setting the stage to lie to the American people about the origins and nature of the conflicts presidents wish to take on and by co-opting the virtually dispossessed and potentially dangerous elements of our society into a voluntary army. 

Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, all lied about Vietnam, to be sure. Nixon not only convinced the American people that the problems in Vietnam originated in Hanoi and not Washington but promised he had a secret plan to end the wars in South East Asia (perhaps by sending Mimi Eisenhower and Anna Chenault to Paris to convince Thieu to trash the peace talks?). Moreover, he was also able to undermine our constitutional inheritance and further his ambition to restructure the very nature of American economy and politics by planting two reactionaries on the Supreme Court—Powell and Rehnquist. The Bushes have done or are doing much the same. However, neither national security, world peace, nor the reinvigoration of democracy or our economy has been the result of these policies.

The strategic theory of these pols sounds fine. It promises we will not have to wait until danger is immanent to deal successfully and efficiently with an enemy; democracy will not be sacrificed to the economic imperatives of the warfare state. However, as history has demonstrated, Huntington’s theory works with the same fine precision as computers: bullshit in, bullshit out.

The theory has resulted in our supporting virtually every two-bit dictator (some will remember Walt Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth and how very well it worked in Iran under the Shah) who will allow us access to important strategic resources, natural and human. The result has been global immiseration.

Historically, it has been precisely the articulate application of such theories of “nation building,” presently informed by the Huntingtonian corollary, the clash of civil-izations, that gave us the Taliban, Usama, the Iranian revolution and replays elsewhere, Saddam, as well as Vietnam and a multitude of other unnecessary crises. In fact, this notion of a “strong sociology” informing our foreign policy has created the very circumstance we were supposed to be able to avoid--the warfare state. And, not just good old conventional war but 4GW. Fourth Generation warfare makes no distinction between combatant and civilian, it is an all azimuth approach to war with appropriate propaganda and “adaptations” of the judicial system at home to support it. 

To pay for guns there is no butter, no health insurance for millions and precious little justice for those who oppose the Bush juggernaut. Infrastructure is crumbling, education is for the comparatively well-off and the comparatively white, nice classrooms and current technology are for parishioners of well endowed churches and synagogues, states are putting people of color to death at quite a handsome clip. 

With the whirlwind this strategy has generated, we no longer know who our enemies might be or whether they might come at us from inside or out. All of which necessitates a robust intelligence system at home and abroad. Under-classes the world over hate us. Some of their members have been led to discover the efficiency of terrorism, so the underclasses of the world have become the san culottes for terrorism. 

For this contingency, and to save cuts in profit centers generated by military spending and exploited by such entities as the Carlyle Group, in the 1990’s pro-Israeli pols like Pearls, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Powell and Pipes decided we needed to move to a capabilities driven defense posture. We had to be ready to confront whatever the world we made might throw at us. Powell and Rumsfeld birthed fourth generation warfare (4GW) and convinced Bush daddy to institutionalize the gambit. Clinton tried to screw that pooch and, incidentally, generated the forces that would try to end his presidency. The same thing had happened to Carter who demurred from appointing any person to his administration on the list supplied him by the Committee on the Present Danger.

The new notion is, to be safe we must try to rule the world and as Wilson had it “make the world safe for democracy” even if we have to intervene in sovereign states to change their economic and political configuration. Then treat the terrorism it generates as anti-democratic reaction, a sort of background crime rate sustained by those who do not love the sort of economic progress, freedom and democracy Bush, Ridge, Powell and Ashcroft have to offer. 

Dubya is the Judas goat of these forces, leading complacent, uninformed citizens to slaughter. Bush is the mummer chosen to hide the truth of what went before and what lies ahead. 

Trying the challenge the brio of the Straus-Hupe crowd at the end of WWII, Walter Lippman warned that American is neither rich enough nor smart enough to run the world. John Stempel, the last Political Officer (read CIA) in the US Embassy/Tehran before it was taken over by the very Islamic radicals we had surveilled in East Germany, returned to State to run its crisis center. Among the first things he did was cause a banner to be hung over its door. It read: “Don’t do something, just stand there!” 

Activism in the service of empire is no service to its subjects.


W. Campbell is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant 


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