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COMMENTARY:

Coming Attractions: War Without End, Amen

by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
I've seen the future, baby: it is murder.
-- Leonard Cohen
I. Modern Times
If you lose your home, lose your job, lose your family, lose your health -- while Wall Street fraudsters lick molasses from the federal spoon -- for God's sake, don't get riled up. Bow your head, bend your back and keep it to yourself. The future is now.

While our national leaders quibble and carp over just how much public money they should ladle out to Wall Street's den of thieves, and how many people should be in charge of divvying up this vast pork pie (one guy at Treasury? a panel of Establishment worthies? a couple of goobers in Congress?), the real business of the American empire -- war and rumors of war -- goes on without let or hindrance.

Even now, the masters of war down at Hell's Bottom -- the fetid swamp where they planted the Pentagon way back when -- are laying plans for decades of "persistent conflict" against a host of targets: the poor, the young, the desperate, the deprived, the Chinese, the Russians -- and the American people.

In a remarkably candid document, "The 2008 Army Modernization Strategy," the Pentagon lays out the perpetual blowback arising from the relentless pursuit of what George W. Bush once proudly hailed as "the single sustainable model of national success" -- i.e., rapacious crony capitalism backed up with state violence. This "model" -- which was once proclaimed as the "end of history," the unsurpassable apex of human development -- has been imposed -- at gunpoint, bribery and extortion -- on much of the world. The result has been, quite literally, the devouring of the earth: resources stripped bare, the climate poisoned and sent careening wildly out of balance, nations destroyed, populations dispossessed, societies rent asunder, violence run rampant, a tsunami of corruption and degradation ravaging the world.

Of course, it is not the Pentagon's job to rectify this situation or to modify the system that has in large part produced it. The boys at Hell's Bottom just do what they're told. And as the report indicates, they have obviously been told to do whatever it takes to keep the American elite floating -- in comfort and splendour -- on the surface of this blood-choked sea of suffering for as long as possible. Hence, the plans for "perpetual war" outlined in the document.

This week the Irish Times' Tom Clonan provided a succinct précis of the document, which conveys a truth universally unacknowledged by the bipartisan American elite: the "Global War on Terror" is by no means confined to slapping down religious extremists, but is designed to maintain and extend America's "unipolar domination" of world affairs -- and world resources.

Thus in addition to the usual suspects -- "a radical, ideology-based, long-term terrorist threat" -- it encompasses a number of other military targets for what Bush once called "the path of action." As Clonan notes:

Relatively new, "emerging" features are also included in the document's rationale for future threats.

"We face a potential return to traditional security threats posed by emerging near-peers as we compete globally for depleting natural resources and overseas markets."

This thinly-veiled reference to Russia and China will, perhaps, come as little surprise given recent events in Ossetia and Abkhazia. The explicit reference in this context to future resource wars, however, will probably raise eyebrows among the international diplomatic community, who prefer to couch such conflicts as human rights-based or rooted in notions around freedom and democracy.

The document, however, contains no such lofty pretences. It goes on to list as a pre-eminent threat to the security of the US and its allies "population growth - especially in less-developed countries - [which] will expose a resulting 'youth bulge'."

This youth bulge, the document goes on to state, will present the US with further "resource competition" in that these expanding populations in the developing world "will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy".

The document goes on to describe in broad-strokes the manner in which its downsized military might ensure survival of the fittest for the US and its allies in future resource wars for water, food and energy.

As noted above, the report is quite open in its recognition of the fact that the "single, sustainable model" of resource-devouring crony capitalism for selected elites is in fact producing the threats that the Terror War purports to address:

An expanding, interconnected global economy supported by advancements in technology will continue to drive prosperity. However, this will also underscore wealth and power disparities between populations while providing the means to export terror and extremism around the world...Resource competition induced by growing populations and expanding economies will consume ever increasing amounts of food, water and energy. States or entities controlling these resources will leverage them as part of their security calculus.

Nor do the savants of Hell's Bottom have any illusions about the reality of global warming and its catastrophic human costs:

Climate change and natural disasters will compound already difficult positions in many developing countries, thereby increasing the potential for humanitarian crises, epidemic disease and regionally destabilizing population migrations.

It doesn't get much plainer than all this. Again, there is not the slightest indication or awareness that there might be any other way to address the immense challenges of the 21st century other than a vicious fight to the finish to retain the lion's share of the earth's dwindling spoils. Certainly, the slightly more gussied-up policy proposals of the bipartisan elite -- now represented by Barack Obama and the withered appendage of the Bush Faction known as John McCain -- envision no other alternative. For them, it's Terror War all the time, Terror War to the bitter end.

Clonan also zeroes in on another key element of the plan: the fact that these never-ending future wars will be focused to a large degree on civilian populations:

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that "21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them". The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

The document refers to this euphemistically as "commanders employing offensive, defensive and stability or civil support operations simultaneously".

This is already the template being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, where civilian homes are bombed to bits just down the road from "reconstruction" projects, while vast armies raid homes, imprison tens of thousands of people without charges, set up hair-trigger checkpoints and sniper nests all over the "liberated" lands.

As Clonan notes, the document goes on to detail just how the Pentagon will militarize the global commons of outer space, employ advanced technologies of ever-increasing lethality, and also

create a new "networked" human soldier - the 'Future Force Warrior' - who will deploy among the target population and will operate simultaneously several remote, unmanned ground and air weapons systems.

This human engineering project is not limited to the external technologies outlined in the document. As I noted in the Moscow Times several years ago (and as Time magazine noted this month), the Pentagon is embarked on a number of research programs to alter the physical mind and bodies of its "warriors." ("Warrior" is now the term of choice for our military jargonists; obviously, the old-fashioned term "soldier" is not fearsome enough for the mighty chieftains of Hell's Bottom.)

First, from Time:

[T]he U.S. Army has just awarded a $4 million contract to begin developing "thought helmets" that would harness silent brain waves for secure communication among troops. Ultimately, the Army hopes the project will "lead to direct mental control of military systems by thought alone."

... "It'd be radio without a microphone, " says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program. "Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way."

Dr. Mike D'Zmura, the civilian scientist in charge of the project, is quick to assure us that this brain-altering technology poses no risks; no spooky "mind control" mechanisms can ever possibly result from this research. And of course, he's right; when in the course of human history has any form of technology ever been adapted to malevolent ends?

But brain radio is just the start of what the Pentagon envisions for "future warriors," as I noted back in 2003:

[As the Daily Telegraph and Christian Science Monitor report,] the [Pentagon] "war fighter enhancement" programs -- an acceleration of bipartisan biotinkering that's been going on for years -- will involve injecting young men and women with hormonal, neurological and genetic concoctions; implanting microchips and electrodes in their bodies to control their internal organs and brain functions; and plying them with drugs that deaden some of their normal human tendencies: the need for sleep, the fear of death, the reluctance to kill their fellow human beings.

The research is "very aggressive and wide open," says Admiral Stephen Baker of the Center for Defense Information. Indeed, the U.S. Special Operations Command envisions the creation of "iron bodied and iron willed personnel" who can "resist the mental and physiological effects of sleep deprivation" while relying on "ergogenic substances" to "manage" the "environmental and mentally induced stress" of the battlefield. Their bodies juiced, their brains swaddled in Prozacian haze, the enhanced warfighters can churn relentlessly, remorselessly toward dominion.

And the term "creation" is not just fanciful rhetoric: Some of the research now under way involves actually altering the genetic code of soldiers, modifying bits of DNA to fashion a new type of human specimen, one that functions like a machine, killing tirelessly for days and nights on end. These mutations will "revolutionize the contemporary order of battle" and guarantee "operational dominance across the whole range of potential U.S. military employments," the [Pentagon] wizards enthuse...

[The Pentagon] remains undeterred in its bold quest to "push the limits of human input/output," advance the "symbiotic relationship between man and machine," and customize "pharmaceutical technology" to "embolden the warfighter and his superiors," as military scientists declared at a Pentagon-sponsored conference on future warfare.

Mutant soldiers waging "perpetual war" against desperate, deprived people in heavily-populated civilian areas -- welcome to the 21st century. Like the man said: It's murder, baby!

II. Bringing It All Back Home

But you shouldn't think that all these fun and games are designed just for foreigners. No indeed; the home folk too are in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon's perpetual conflict machine. In fact, Americans have just gotten the very first active combat unit aimed exclusively at them, as Arthur Silber reports.

Silber notes an Army Times article which spells it out plainly and with no addition: a battle-hardened combat team -- honed by 35 months of occupation duty in the killing fields of Iraq -- has now been assigned to bring those specialized skills back to the Homeland. From the Army Times:

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the [3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities....

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control...The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

This "non-lethal" package includes the copious use of tasers, that remarkably effective -- and often lethal -- weapon of repression whose growing use Silber has documented so well. It also features the ability "to stand up hasty roadblocks" and establish those hair-trigger checkpoints that have lead to countless fatal "incidents" for innocent Iraqis.

Silber puts this development in its immediate context -- the accelerating deterioration of American society under the hammer blows of economic collapse, authoritarian rule, endless war and resource scarcity:

You're not crazy if...you've begun to have waking nightmares about what might be coming as the economy worsens and signs of "normalcy" (of what?) begin to vanish from our lives. Many more people without jobs and homeless, tent cities springing up here and there, perhaps regular power outages and growing shortages of goods that had once been plentiful...the list goes on and on.

And what, you might wonder, is our beneficent, all-caring government doing to prepare for this multitude of possibilities? After all, some of those poor, jobless, homeless, starving people might get unruly.

One answer, says Silber, is the good old battle-tested 1st BCT, and all the other resources of the "Northern Command." Silber then focuses on an essential point:

If and when the order comes to fire on American citizens, what happens then? I don't think we want to find out. Many of these individuals are overly familiar with killing innocent people -- as indeed, our criminal war in Iraq is nothing but an operation dedicated to killing innocent people in ungraspably huge numbers -- so a new kind of target probably won't deter them for long, if at all.

Add in all the private mercenary forces now available to the government, and, well...

So if you lose your home, lose your job, lose your family, lose your health -- while Wall Street fraudsters lick molasses from the federal spoon -- for God's sake, don't get riled up. Bow your head, bend your back and keep it to yourself. The future is now.


photo of Chris FloydChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published on September 23, 2008.