Extremism and Long War
By George Aleman III, Jan 1, 2008, 19:43
The binary worldview of “us” versus “them,” cultivated and nurtured by institutional leaders and perpetuated by corporate-state propaganda ministers, is sacrosanct orthodoxy. Those in positions of power would have us believe that there are forces of Cold War proportion out in the exterior waiting for the moment to strike and impose their mores upon the “American Way of Life.” Again and again they tell the public that “they” want to break “our” will; that “they” hate “us,” what “we” stand for, “our” freedoms, “our” way of life. Leaders incessantly declare that there are fanatics (mainly Muslim) who want to enforce their mode of existence onto Americans, that “they” want to establish, and export, a Caliphate (the Islamic form of government representing the political unity and leadership of the Muslim world); that America is in a never-ending state of threat. They unabatedly contend that “we” must fight “them” over there, so that “we” do not have to fight “them” over here.
Indeed, there are lunatics of the ultra-orthodox strain, fanatical perverts of many religions who are bent on creating a utopia of their own through wanton violence and destruction. Both inside and outside our borders, homegrown or not, radical groups can summon the ability to wreak havoc. However, we have been misled, for some time now, about the magnitude and true reality of happenings outside, and inside, the country. Most radical groups in the exterior are sparse, disconnected factions comprised of Third World populations in a deep political and economic crisis that most often “eclipse religion.” What many have been led to believe—that there are killers on the prowl everywhere waiting to strike at us because we are an industrialized, “democratic” nation-state with “free” institutions and massive wealth—is certainly not the imminent threat. Our leaders consistently drag out the boogie-men to terrorize us and divert our attention from the real menace. That is, the political and economical fundamentalist class, a “Radical Establishment,” within our institutions backed by military might and nuclear primacy.
In this “Global War on Terror,” State controllers have manufactured an equal, an entity of their quotient. In order to produce and sustain their dominion over society and expand their frontier buffers in Cold War fashion, they must confront equivalence. The government, its concomitant apparatus of corporate-military-industry and their benefactors vie for, and maintain, a defense budget larger than that of the Cold War to fight an “enemy” not of Cold War proportion.
In 2001 Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute, explained:
Whether one considers active troop strength, reserve troop strength, heavy tanks, armored infantry vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, or major warships, the United States and its allies possess a preponderance of the warriors and the tools of war, greatly exceeding the troop strengths and the number of weapons platforms in the hands of all potential adversaries combined. Beyond this numerical dominance, the United States and its allies possess important additional advantages of superiority in weapons technology as well as in communications, intelligence, logistics, training, maintenance, and mobility.
More recently, retired US Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich exclaimed in his 2005 study The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War, that “the present-day Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation, is 12 percent larger than the average defense budget of the Cold War era… Indeed, by some calculations, the United States spends more on defense than all other nations in the world together. This is a circumstance without historical precedent.” Thus, Bacevich said, “The primary mission of America’s far-flung military establishment is global power projection…”
The Radical Establishment, these Chicken Hawk “Civilian Militarists,” demand, command, and employ extremes (economical, military and political) to achieve their goals of domination and exploitation so as to sustain their positions as beneficiaries of empire. They try to manipulate and seduce us into embracing and supporting acute measures to achieve their desires. They try to convince us to cede rights for safety. They try to convince us that more surveillance equates to security and is for the public good. They try to convince us that more bombs, bullets, death and destruction will bring everlasting peace, freedom and independence. They consider themselves to be “noble heroes,” “righteous protectors of the weak…” while dispensing immense devastation to those that are, in fact, infinitely weaker—those that have minute economical, political, and military power, if any at all.
The Radical Establishment and Its War of Terror
During the Cold War the late social historian E.P. Thompson described how “extremism… generate[s] its own internal contradictions.” In this calculated “Long War,” the Radical Establishment demands “absolute antagonism, which can only be resolved by… extermination.” In their quest to exterminate via extremes, they have inverted the nation’s self-prescribed principles to match their doctrine. Freedom is tyranny; life is death; security is surveillance; protection is control; democracy is dictatorship. By way of endemic perception and pathological pursuit these extremists embody their concocted antagonist of Cold War dimension. Liberty and autonomy are vanishing, slowly eroding under the torrential weight of elitist-extremist conduct. They see threats to their established power in every corner of our own society and the world at large.
Many of these extremist ideologues would have us believe that violent conduct is confined to the “barbarous other” in the exterior, that America is discharged from atrocity, because it does not commit atrocity. It acts in the name of all that is good, moral and sacred. To question that, then, would be to question all that is good, moral and sacred. This is, essentially, a great fallacy.
Many institutional radicals lobby for and sanctify acts of aggression and butchery, but do not sell them as such. The fundamentalist class—official and governmental, corporate and private—surrounds itself with elections, laws, and Constitutional authority to achieve its objectives. The Radical Establishment claims itself to be the harbinger of justice, virtue and democratic tenets. Individual acts of vigilanteism and destruction equate to terrorism, but collective acts of aggression and demolition by technologically superior “democratic” nation-states do not.
Nineteen hijackers take control of passenger aircrafts and slam them into the economic and military hubs of the American empire, the total fallout is deaths in the thousands; yes, this is indeed terrorism. The United States retaliates by launching a full scale invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The result: over a million civilian casualties (nearly three hundred times more than that of 9/11) and the upending of people’s means of survival; this is not considered terrorism.
A foreign nationalist shoots down coalition soldiers and posts the horrendous act on the internet for the world to see; yes, this is indeed terrorism. Corporate mercenaries contracted by our government are caught on video opening fire on civilians without provocation, justification and hesitation; this is not considered terrorism.
A suicide bomber kills several coalition soldiers, while at the same time killing innocent bystanders; yes, this is indeed terrorism. A jingoistic bombardier barrages civilians, hitting not one single “suspected terrorist”; this is not considered terrorism.
Killing innocent civilians is wrong; forcing unwanted modes of existence is wrong; change by way of gunpoint is wrong; terrorism, oppression, manipulation, torture, atrocity, imperialism, and exploitation—all this is wrong. Extremism begets extremism; terrorism breeds terrorism, whether it is individual or collective. These types of extremities do not make anyone safe. They exacerbate problems and decimate the defenseless. It is an endless cycle of stupidity and senselessness, a never ending confrontation that the Radical Establishment packages and sells to us as our necessity when it is really their desire.
As historian and World War II veteran Howard Zinn recently explained, “There are societies that do not pretend to be ‘civilized’—military dictatorships and totalitarian states—and execute their victims without ceremony. Then there nations like the United States, whose claim to be civilized rests on the fact that its punishments are legitimized by a complex set of judicial procedures.” He continued, “Terrorism is the killing of innocent people in order to send a message… So long as our government engages in terrorism,” the terrorism of war, “claiming always that it is done for democracy or freedom or to send a message to some other government, there will be more” terrorism and terrorists that follow its example. “Individual acts of terrorism will continue and they will be called—rightly—fanaticism. Government terrorism, on a much larger scale, will continue, and that will be called “‘foreign policy.’”
The pertinent question Zinn asked was, “Isn’t it clear by now that sending a message to terrorists through [the terror of war] doesn’t work, that it only leads to more terrorism?”
The most recent report by the main advisory department to the Bush Administration, National Counterterrorism Center, concluded, “Terrorist attacks against noncombatants nearly doubled in Iraq… and were up sharply in Afghanistan, with those two countries alone accounting for a 29 percent increase in terrorism worldwide… The two countries where large numbers of American combat troops are deployed are also where terrorism is rising fastest. Terrorist attacks are up 91 percent in Iraq and 53 percent in Afghanistan.” The answer to Zinn’s question is, then, unfortunately, “No,” it is not clear by now. Nothing has been learned or taken into account. Addicted to the status quo, everywhere are “hideous threats to established power…” Measures, however extreme, must be taken to assert and reassert domination, quail the loss of legitimacy, and maintain a clenched fist over society and the globe.
“War is a Racket”
In 1935 Smedley D. Butler, retired Brigadier General of the United States Marines, stated:
WAR is a racket…. A racket is best described as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes… Out of war nations acquire additional territory… This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few—the same few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill… This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
With the national debt at $9 trillion, and climbing at a rate of approximately $1.5 billion a day, the now Democratic-led-Congress continues to appropriate tax payer money in the billions for continued warfare. The Defense Department persistently siphons these funds to private-military-industrialist coffers to maintain the errand of global domination and continued bid for empire.
We, and the entire world, are less safe today and in fantastically bad shape because of these extremist death dealers who have plunged us into a “Long War” for profit. The Radical Establishment was repeatedly warned of the “potential costly consequences of an American-led invasion… before the [Iraq] war began.” In 2006, it was confirmed—via National Intelligence Estimate—by the National Intelligence Council that “the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism.” In January of 2007, the Council again concluded, “Iraqi society’s growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides’ ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism…” The Administration attributes the current drop in violence to its much touted strategy of “troop surge.” Yet, as the Council has cautioned, “even if violence is diminished, given the current winner-take-all attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene, Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation…”
With the implementation of the doctrine of Preemptive War, the fundamentalist class has instigated a spike in the radicalization of foreign populations, terrorist activities and the manufacture and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. States, some with nuclear arsenal, have taken a protective posture; both they and the global hegemon have itchy trigger fingers, one poised to strike at the other in “defense.” In addition, they have sent our youth to kill and be killed. The Armed Forces is now devastated, overstretched and virtually incapable of responding to factual threats, as 2007 passed as the “deadliest for US troops.”
The Radical Establishment has caused us to become the most hated nation-state on the face of the earth, not because of our “freedoms,” wealth and “democracy,” but because of their reckless conduct, their willingness to play Russian roulette with our lives. As Noam Chomsky has expressed, for these Radical Civilian Militarists, “It is a rational calculation, on the assumption that human survival is not particularly significant in comparison with short-term power and wealth. And that is nothing new. These themes resonate through history. The difference today is only that the stakes are enormously higher.” Their “rational calculation” has amounted to the implementation of their methods of fair dealing without regard for the realistic consequences for us. They are transporting and applying their “civilized” system of “stabilization” without care for the fallout.
Extremism and Long War
These extremists in positions of authority personify the manufactured body they tell us must be destroyed. They are forcing their inverted notions of peace, freedom, civilization and democracy upon communities abroad by way of the most savage means—all in the name of benevolence, morality, and righteousness for our ears. Indeed, under the cover of pleasant oratory they are terminating innocent life; they are the force of Cold War proportion, thrusting their systems of management and modes of production onto others. Tutelage in dictatorial democracy, unfettered, predatory global commerce, and State clientelism are the way toward progress and tranquility. Consequences are secondary.
Their extremities have produced Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, war without end, more death and destruction than that of 9/11; terrorism, torture, unresponsive leadership, divisiveness, xenophobia, hate, fear, death, destruction and the expansion of neo-liberal economic ethos (a disastrous form of capitalism) of profit over the needs of people. Backed by military might and nuclear primacy, they will stop at nothing to achieve their ends and sustain their positions of power, their dominion over society and the globe via full spectrum dominance—land, sea, air and space.
This is their path toward sustaining the status-quo. Statist radicals would have us believe that our interests are synonymous; they are not. They wish to conjure sentiments of hate, fear, xenophobia, inertia, insecurity, anxiety, and pessimism so that they may capitalize on those emotions for their own ends. They want us to be aloof and divided; they want us to remain busy, struggling to survive. They want us to believe that invading Third World countries and toppling their structures and enforcing dictatorial democracies is right, just and for the benefit of security. They want us to become accustomed to the “normalization of war.” They want us to see bombing underdeveloped nations as defensive; they want us to believe that the expenditure of American lives and resources is glorious, correct and beneficial when all this is wrong and to our detriment. The deified statement that “‘we’” must fight ‘them’ over there, so that ‘we’ do not have to fight ‘them’ over here,” so frequently uttered by the Radical Establishment, serves to divert our attention from the fact that “they” are already here, and pitch themselves as our “noble heroes.”
© Copyright 2008 by AxisofLogic.com
George Aleman III is an MA student in history. He is also a writer, activist and musician. His writings have appeared in Z Magazine, Dissident Voice, Third World Traveler and Axis of Logic.
This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a “live link” to the article. Thank you!
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 Andrew J. Bacevich. The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 2005), 17.
 Robert Higgs, “The Cold War is Over, but U.S. Preparation for It Continues,” The Independent Review, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Fall 2001).
 Bacevich, The New American Militarism, 17.
 Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism: Civilian and Military (London: Hollis & Carter, 1959), p 463.
 Bruce Lincoln, Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 24.
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 Terry Eagleton, Holy Terror (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), 74 – 75.
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 Howard Zinn, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2007), 68.
 Ibid., 70-71.
 Ibid., 74.
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