Rumours of War by William Bowles

21 March 2008

Destabilisation is the name of the ‘game’

“We are not in Iraq to engage in nation-building — our mission is to help Iraqis so that they can build their own nation.” — Donald H. Rumsfeld, Washington Post, September 25 2003.

It seems to be a common—but in my view, mistaken—assumption by the army of analysts and commentators on both the left and the right, that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster for the US (never mind what it’s done to Iraq and its people).

They point to the chaos that followed the ‘liberation’ and the apparent unpreparedness of the occupation forces to establish a civilian authority for the country. The anarchy that followed the disbandment of the military, political, legal and civil arms of the (former) Iraqi state (with the exception of the Ministry of Oil), an act that literally overnight let lose hundreds of thousands of former military employees, civil servants and managers into a country already pulverised by a dozen years of unrelenting bombing and of course the embargo imposed on the country.

The subsequent political appointment of L. Paul Bremer as the ‘Gauleiter’ of the occupied land is often pointed to as the cause of the chaos but the facts are quite plain: the chaos that followed the occupation was a quite deliberate act on the part of the US occupation, what you might describe as the instant creation of a ‘failed state’.

Along with the ‘faulty intelligence’ that we are told, led to the invasion, we are asked to believe that the US invasion planners also made the ‘mistake’ of not putting in place a plan for the post-invasion period. Is this a credible explanation?

“Immediately following hostilities Civil Affairs soldiers reconstitute civil authority, and in the longer term help rebuild a viable civilian infrastructure and economy. Civil Affairs supports U. S. national objectives by assisting the government of a host or occupied area to meet its peoples’ needs and maintain a stable and democratic civil administration.” —

As I’ve pointed out several times before, the DoD has an entire department dedicated to the administration of any country the US invades. It’s called the 4th Psychological Operations Group headquartered at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.[1]

It’s major mission is to:

“…support planning and coordination of CA [Civil Affairs] and foreign nation support operations. The unit provides Civil Affairs functional area specialists in the following areas:

• Public Administration
• Dislocated Civilians
• Civilian Supply
• Public Communications
• Public Health
• Public Work and Utilities”

Now we know that Psy-Ops units were deployed to Iraq as the following quote reveals (made at the same time as the Abu Graib revelations):

“Congratulations — you have acquitted yourselves with honor in the crucible of armed conflict. You have won the battle, and with it our gratitude and our respect. Thank you for your service, for your sacrifices and your continued dedication to being quiet professionals.” — Maj. Gen. Herbert L. Altshuler, Commander U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).

So what was it up to aside from torturing and murdering Iraqis? Clearly nothing even remotely connected to rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, yet this is the unit’s stated objective.

“They [the US] swept into Iraq in a short, victorious campaign, and quickly settled down to nation-building and peacekeeping.” — “Fixing the Problem in Fallujah”, BBC Radio 4’s Website, 7 December 2004.

And it’s not as if the US doesn’t have an awful lot of experience of invading and occupying foreign lands, they’ve been at it for centuries.

Thus to say that the US ‘miscalculated’ or ‘didn’t think it through’ is not only laughable but an insult to our intelligence.

We can only conclude that following the occupation, the US had no intention of rebuilding Iraq and indeed as I’ve pointed out, the US is on record as saying that it’s not in the business of ‘nation-building’, so, what is the ‘Plan’?

Iraq is unlike earlier wars of aggression waged by the West. The intention is not to acquire land or even markets (in the accepted sense of the word), nor is it a strategic acquisition designed to block an enemy state. Even the oil is not in and of itself an objective, for as events have shown, the oil is worth even more underground than it is by having it in circulation. Moreover, denying access to the oil by the US’s major competitors, gains a strategic economic advantage for US capital.

But perhaps even more importantly, the creation of a ‘failed state’ destabilises the region which weakens opposition to imperial plans and as we have witnessed, it also creates the pre-conditions for extending the ‘area of instability’ Eastward.

It is within this context that we see that the never-ending ‘rumours of war with Iran’ spread by the US and its faithful minions in the media make sense. This is classic psychological warfare waged not only by the Fort Bragg posse but also by a complicit media.

It’s no accident therefore that the ‘rumours of war’ have appeared with monotonous regularity for the past three years and, an even more timely reminder of the tactics being used, we need only look at the current events in Tibet, impeccably timed to occur in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. Destabilisation is the name of the game.[2]

Again, the media has played a major role in the process with an endless litany of ‘China-bashing’ stories appearing. The precedent here is the role of Western agencies in countries like the Ukraine and Georgia, funded by the US government, the money going to various ‘NGOs’ and PR outfits, who operate as proxy arms of the US state (much as they did back during the Cold War days in countries like Angola and Mozambique via such outfits as UNITA and Renamo) as well as the official organs like USAID.

The objective here is to foment dissent and create instability in the country or region and as with Iran, actually strengthen the hand of reactionary forces within the country. We’ve seen it in Cuba for decades, for how can a country which has been blockaded and under constant threat of invasion and subversion develop normally? But then this is the entire point, countries like Cuba and Venezuela have to be shown to the rest of the world to be failures, there can be no successful alternative to capitalism.

I think it’s true to say that the last time we saw a situation akin to today’s is in the late 19th century, where Capital, untrammelled by any kind of coherent opposition ran roughshod across the planet, but this is where the similarities end. This is not the 1890s, there is no Berlin Conference divvying up the spoils of colonial conquest. Instead, we have a capitalism in crisis and one unable to foment general world war such as we saw twice in the 20th century, due in part to the existence of nuclear weapons which even the psychopaths in Washington, DC are reluctant to unleash on the world, fearing of course that what they deliver, might in turn, be ‘returned to sender’.

Thus to say that the invasion of Iraq, or indeed Afghanistan have been failures is to entirely miss the point once you discount all the BS about ‘nation-building’ and ‘democracy’, for they have achieved their objective, namely to spread confusion, chaos and weaken and divide the opposition.

The question however is whether even with unlimited military force they can achieve their objectives under these new conditions given the parlous state of the US economy, for this is the bottom line, this is what it’s all about, the economics of capitalism.


1. See for example ‘The BBC back-peddles big time – or how to completely rewrite history before the ink’s even dried’, 2 October, 2007 and, ‘The Plot Thickens’, 30 April, 2003

2. ‘Using Tibet to settle scores with China’ By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked, 17 March, 2008


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