The war on everything By William Bowles

29 December 2003

There is a direct correlation between imperialism’s increasingly desperate economic state and its urge to go to war, only now it’s declared war on the entire planet, a sure indication of capitalism’s inability to deal with its inbuilt and rapidly escalating contradictions. Consider the wars it has declared over the past 100 years: the ‘war on communism’, ‘war on drugs’, the ‘war on crime’ and of course the latest war only now it’s called ‘terror’, a meaningless catch-all phrase that’s ideal for a propaganda campaign but useless as an explanation.

But like the ‘war on drugs’ the ‘war on terror’ hides the reality of the history of capitalism that is mired in the hypocrisy of the vast gulf between its words and its actions, from the days of slavery to the present-day ‘war on terror’. How it manages to hide this is of course central to the struggle to get rid of a system that says one thing and does another.

75 years ago the US decision to outlaw alcohol gave birth to the phenomenon we know today euphemistically as ‘organised crime’. Yet capitalism and organised crime are inextricably linked to each other and have been since the early days of the 19th century. The only difference between the two types of crime is that the former is sanctioned by the state and the latter isn’t – at least officially.

The foundations of organised crime in the US and US government involvement can be traced back to the opium traders of the 19th century, who in turn became the founders of some of the international capitalist corporations that now run the planet, their fortunes initially based on addicting the people of China to opium:

“In 1823, Samuel Russell established Russell and Company for the purpose of acquiring opium in Turkey and smuggling it to China. Russell and Company Merged with the Perkins (Boston) syndicate in 1830 and became the primary American opium smuggler. Many of the great American and European fortunes were built on the “China” (opium) trade.

“One of Russell and Company’s Chief of Operations in Canton was Warren Delano, Jr., grandfather of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other partners included John Cleve Green (who financed Princeton), Abiel Low (who financed construction of Columbia [University]), Joseph Coolidge and the Perkins, Sturgis and Forbes families. (Coolidge’s son organised the United Fruit Company, and his grandson, Archibald C. Coolidge, was a co-founder of the Council on Foreign Relations.” – Fleshing Out Skull & Bones, p.10. Kris Millegan, Ed, 2003.

In a terrible irony, the descendants of drug runners now formulate the policies that constitute the ‘war on drugs’ and now the ‘war on terror’. The “China” link extended all the way to the Vietnam War and George Bush Snr’s involvement in the ‘Golden Triangle’ (Bush Snr was at one time Director of Reagan’s Narcotics Interdiction System and according to the former head of the DEA Frances Mullen, Bush was an “intellectual fraud…a liability rather than an asset”) and the CIA’s involvement in smuggling heroin into the US and as the Iran-contra scandal revealed, with emergence of the cocaine trade, the US government utilised cocaine smuggling to finance its various and sundry illegal wars.

And the US government needed the involvement of organised crime (the Mafia) in order to carry out its activities. (For more on the activities of the US government’s involvement in the international drug trade see The Crimes of Patriots: A True tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA by Jonathan Kwitney, The Politics of Heroin in S. E. Asia by Alfred McCoy, The Great Heroin Coup by Henrik Kruger and Double-Cross by Sam and Chuck Giancana.) Money laundering, key to the international drugs trade, also plays a central role in the US government’s clandestine operations and was yet another point of contact between sanctioned and unsanctioned criminal activities.

Connections between sanctioned and unsanctioned criminal activities extend in almost every conceivable direction including the botched attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro and the use of criminals in the ‘war on terror’ (see “The Real Terror Network“).

“The report also recommended that the FBI and CIA be better able to hire criminals and suspected criminals. Responding to the charge that the CIA shouldn’t hire thugs or other “unsavoury sources”, Bremer said “We feel that ‘unsavoury sources’ and ‘thugs’ does these folks a disservice. We prefer to think of these job applicants as simply good kids gone bad. We feel that the CIA can play a rehabilative role in American society.” –

Meanwhile, politicians legitimise the actions of their governments even as they go through the motions of criticising them. Take for example Robin Cook (theoretically an opponent of the invasion of Iraq) in his ‘op-ed’ piece in today’s (29/12/03) Independent that ends with the following outlandish statement:

“This is the time for New Year resolutions. As Tony Blair makes out his list he could do worse than promise himself he will admit that he got it wrong when, in good faith, he believed that Saddam had real weapons of mass destruction.”

“Got it wrong”? “Good faith”? What is so outrageous about Cook’s statement is the perpetuation of the myth that the UK government ‘got it wrong’ when nothing could be further from the truth. What they actually got wrong was that they used an untenable lie as an excuse for the invasion. Cook tells us:

“This was not the expectation of those who got us into the war.”

What if anything was Mr Cook’s expectation? If I remember correctly, Robin Cook was the Foreign Minister at the time of the production of the September dossier that was used to justify war. Where was his opposition then? Of course, Cook’s cop-out is that he was ‘misled’ by the secret service but this is pure dissembling. Am I supposed to believe that Cook didn’t know that the Niger docs and the 45-minutes were pure fiction? Is it not stretching my credulity to believe that Cook didn’t know this at the time with the access he had to secret intelligence? In fact, Cook reveals (in yet another lie) the role played by intelligence when he tells us that:

“…our intelligence services accurately warned the Prime Minister in advance of the invasion [that it would do nothing to advance the ‘war on terror’].”

Hence Cook know all too well what MI6 knew, that there was no basis for the war except the imperium’s agenda to go to war no matter what. There is no way short of lying, that the war could be justified.

In fact, far from being ignored, the record shows that the intelligence agencies were an intrinsic component of the programme of mass deception used in the runup to the war, in campaigns that had been in place since 1991, first as Operation Rockingham and then as Operation Mass Appeal:

“THE Secret Intelligence Service has run an operation to gain public support for sanctions and the use of military force in Iraq. The government yesterday confirmed that MI6 had organised Operation Mass Appeal, a campaign to plant stories in the media about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

“He [Scott Ritter] said there was evidence that MI6 continued to use similar propaganda tactics up to the invasion of Iraq earlier this year. “Stories ran in the media about secret underground facilities in Iraq and ongoing programmes (to produce weapons of mass destruction),” said Ritter. “They were sourced to western intelligence and all of them were garbage.”

“Kelly, himself a former United Nations weapons inspector and colleague of Ritter, might also have been used by MI6 to pass information to the media. “Kelly was a known and government-approved conduit with the media,” said Ritter.

“The use of MI6 as a “back channel” for promoting the government’s policies on Iraq was never discovered during the Hutton inquiry and is likely to cause considerable disquiet among MPs.”

Is Cook claiming that he didn’t know about these two disinformation campaigns and if so, why not? Is it conceivable to believe Cook?

See also and, and

In fact, what bothers Cook the most is the following:

“The greatest political damage from the war in Iraq is that it totally eclipsed the domestic agenda.”

Screw the damage to the Iraqi nation and its people! And rubbing even more salt in the wound that is Iraq, Cook goes on to say:

“We were told that occupying Iraq would be a victory in the war on terrorism.”

No Mr Cook, you as part of the Blair government told us that, until like a rat leaving a sinking ship, your ‘conscience’ or what passes for one, got the better of you. It’s this kind of intellectual cowardice and rank hypocrisy that I find so appalling in our so-called leaders.

The fundamental contradiction of the Robin Cooks of this world is revealed when he tells us:

“The very least George Bush and Paul Bremer owe the rest of us is to bury the doctrine of pre-emptive strike.”

But the doctrine of pre-emption is the foundation stone of the Bush/Blair agenda that gives the imperium the ‘right’ to invade whoever and wherever it damn well pleases. Pre-emption is part and parcel of the Blair doctrine as outlined by his ‘guru’ Robert Cooper. Is Cook saying he knew nothing of the doctrine of ‘liberal imperialism’ and the ‘double standard’? Where has Cook been since 1997?

Had it for example, been clear that Saddam did in fact possess ‘WMDs’ (assuming one can define what they are), would Cook have gone along with the ‘pre-emptive’ strike? Of course he would, as his entire argument rests on the idea that ‘they’ were “wrong” about Saddam’s possession of WMDs, not that invading was intrinsically illegal. Not that Blair and Bush lied to us, but that they were wrong. That’s all that separates Cook from Blair, otherwise Cook would have been opposed to the war on a position of the principled opposition to the doctrine of pre-emption. One searches in vain for any statement that Cook made last year that supports this view.

Now you may wonder why I have spent so much time on the craven and cowardly Cook but the analysis of his ‘opposition’ to the invasion is central in order to expose the dissembling nature of the entire rationale for the Western propaganda machine. For the projection over generations of a total double-standard over every major issue that confronts the world today. It’s why it’s important to understand that the only difference between the Mafia and capitalist state is essentially semantic in nature and that Blair, Bush, Cook, Bremer et al, are complicit in a multi-generational confidence trick on the world.

In another example of the process of disconnecting cause and effect, a piece in the Independent’s ‘Year in Review’ section on 28/12/03 by Rupert Cornwall we read in a piece headed “This conflict was not about oil or bombs, but Bush’s place in history” that starts out with the following:

“Whatever the conspiracy theorists may contend, it wasn’t for the oil.”

Why does it need to be a conspiracy to be “about oil” and why does Cornwall feel it necessary to say this? Methinks ‘the lady doth protest too much’ for to subscribe such a ‘crass’ explanation as to the reason for the invasion would mean questioning the supposedly moral basis for the war, hence it’s vitally important to remove all connections to the economics of the warfare state as this allows allows Cornwall to get on with his central hypothesis; that it’s all about Bush and his “place in history”.

So the economic forces of capitalism (that Cornwall obviously doesn’t want to deal with) are all controlled by one man and all for personal reasons? If Cornwall was submitting this as a basis for the degree he no doubt possesses, he would be flunked out big time.

According to Cornwall, the invasion was because:

“That is the Bush way. He is a man of clear and simple thinking, who prides himself in his ability to make up his mind, who is not plagued by second thoughts or second guessing…. Mr Bush listened to the arguments of his advisors, and sided with the neo-conservatives…”

Isn’t life simple according to the Cornwall view of things. And as to the ‘neo-conservatives’ and where their rationale came from? Details, mere details that Cornwall doesn’t feel it necessary to clutter our minds with.

Cornwall then presents another ‘reason’ by introducing the idea that the opponents of the war are making erroneous comparisons with the war in Vietnam. Cornwall tells us the following:

“There was no North Vietnam backing guerrillas inside Iraq, supported in its turn by a superpower which the US cannot ignore.”

What planet is Mr Cornwall living on? Until split in two by the US, Vietnam was one country and the ‘North Vietnamese’ never recognised the existence of South Vietnam, so the very idea that they ‘supported guerrillas inside Vietnam’ is a complete nonsense as they regarded the struggle as one, indivisible war against an external aggressor. “Supported by a superpower”? Mr Cornwall needs reminding that long before the US invaded Vietnam, the Vietnamese had fought a war of liberation against the Japanese and then against the French, long before the involvement of the Soviet Union and China. In fact, the US picked up the cudgel at precisely the point where the French dropped it.

Moreover, Cornwall is merely regurgitating the US propaganda of the time that North Vietnam was ‘invading’ the South. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to propagandising for the imperium even when the event took place over thirty years ago.

The point here is that Cornwall does everything in his power to confuse issues through his attempts to disconnect the history of imperialist aggression against the poor of the world by implying that the reason the US were in Vietnam was because of ‘superpower (ie Soviet)’ involvement because of course, this enables Cornwall to dispense with any reason other than the ‘personal’ for the US invasion of Iraq.

What needs to be rammed home here is the complicity of the media and the state in perpetuating the myths of the imperium that it either operates on the basis of personal whim or for some ‘higher moral’ reason eg, the ‘red menace’. Interestingly, Cornwall seems to have dispensed entirely with the idea of the invasion of Iraq having anything to do with the ‘war on terror’, perhaps because if Bush is to have a ‘place in history’, it won’t be because of his fictional ‘war on terror’ but because according to Cornwall, “That is the Bush way.”

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