Wars: US Militarist
Factions in Command
By Prof. James Petras
November 19, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" -
Over the past 15 years
the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many
writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an
empire, built primarily by and for the projection of
military power – and
only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.
The rise of a
empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing,
conflicting and convergent power
configurations within the imperial state. These factions of
the Washington elite define the
targets of imperial warfare, often on their own terms.
Having stated the
obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperial
state, it is necessary to recognize that the
who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the
type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In
other words, while US policy is
imperialist and highly
militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the
outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy
devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified
strategic vision of the US Empire.
In order to understand
the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the
of elites, who make decisions
in Washington but
not always primarily
Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the
American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior
‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in
the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.
We will start by
listing US imperial wars during the last decade and a half. We will
then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the
driving force in each war. We will discuss
their successes and
failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation
of “the state of the empire”
and its future.
Imperial Wars: From 2001 – 2015
The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the
US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the
invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support
for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of
Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and
Afghanistan in 2007 – 2009; the bombing, invasion ‘regime change’
in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria
(since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction
of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and
violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war
against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially
the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.
Over the past 15
years, there have been overt and covert military interventions,
accompanied by an intense,
provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the
Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans
(Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central
Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the
annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.
Parallel to the
military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a
major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed
at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.
In South American, US
military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated
business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in
2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009,
overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.
In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or
more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist
empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military
officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.
Military Workshop of the World
War and violent regime
change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its
foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among
the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities.
Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for
whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a
position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push
their own war
The invasion of
Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by
all sectors of the
militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was
to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars
followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel
Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Fromm and mouthed
by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’
was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world.
Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of
Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the
invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion
provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented
increase in the military budget and ushered in ‘Caesar’-like
dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing
domestic critics and sending scored of thousands of US and NATO
troops to the ‘Hindu Kush’.
In itself, Afghanistan
was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and
profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could
have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing
Taliban had insisted.
The US military (with
its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ or COW) successfully invaded and
occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built
scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial
army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on
to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority
wars, namely Iraq.
The decision to invade
Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite
factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military
blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan
as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long
period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.
militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on
9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of
the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of
the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were
Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial
test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American
public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of
imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of
Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the
costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized
Flush with their military victories in the Hindu
Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a
series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the
9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein,
whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi
variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies
about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the
propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and
starved Iraq in March 2003.
Leading the Washington
militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists,
including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few
Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney,
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The
Zionists had a powerful
entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury
and the Pentagon.
There were ‘outsiders’
– non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially
the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside,
not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.
None of the ‘old
hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria
about Sadaam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to
voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and
dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a
small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s “Office of Special Plans”, a tight group of
Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002 –
The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s
agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged
regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing
‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the
powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which
had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on
9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war , designed the ‘occupation
policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a
once modern secular nationalist Arab state.
In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation
policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and
assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and
scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They
dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already
destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President
Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren
wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never
challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military
supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian
Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special
But Zionist policymakers had a much larger
agenda than erasing
Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria,
Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destructions were to be carried out
with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli
Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a
functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late
2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned
out to be very costly to the
US. The US
completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’,
despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields
would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was
because the real Zionist plan was to destroy these nations – beyond
any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain.
Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable
policy for empire builders.
Israel has been the
biggest winner with no cost
for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite
literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed
forces in history: the US. ‘Israel-Firsters’ played a decisive role
among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the
streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished
their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people)was destroyed.
The US gained an
unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and
systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning
civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the
American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands
of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social
programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the
disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and
liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.
After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist
faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against
Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they
failed to push the US to attack Teheran but they succeeded in
imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured
massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of
Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the
impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.
The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military
interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab
countries: Yemen, Syria and Libya.. The Zionists were not able to
manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional
militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major
conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond –
which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the
Zionist factions did secure
brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key
Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart
Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards,
were positioned to enforce the sanctions.
Even before the
ascendency of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s
military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon,
Libya and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist
factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to integrate
occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.
Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in
both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their
2nd decade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a
region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move
back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off
for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.
‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling
costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the
militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch.
However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress
provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.
Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was
defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded
‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel
Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated
Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon despite resorting to carpet
bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster
munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering
refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly
armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.
Libya: A Multi-faction War for the
Militarists (without Big Oil)
The war against Libya was a result of multiple
factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the
Zionists, coming together with French, English and German
militarists to smash
the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under
President Muammar Gaddafi.
The aerial campaign
against the Gaddafi
regime had virtually no
organized support within Libya with which to
reconstruct a viable
neo-colonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned
dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been
independent of the US Empire.
The war succeeded
wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state and society. It
unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups,( who appropriated the
modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two
million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan
origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the
refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in
the Mediterranean Sea.
The entire war was
carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants
(Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who
and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually,
even Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by . .
. the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly
The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture,
grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated),
eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of
Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war,
got nothing positive
– not even a secure naval, air or training base – only a dead
Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe and
thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.
For a while Libya
became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to
invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in
Once again the
faction in Washington turned out to be the
oil and gas
industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with
the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers
were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these
wars were not ‘for oil’!
Coups, Wars and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in
Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative,
establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s
strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over
Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the
vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its
vast iron and coal reserves.
The mechanics of the
power grab were
relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power,
but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the
Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil
and gas supplier, Russia.
The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian
majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four
‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west
along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse
by the imposition of an IMF austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony
capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4)
and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US
Washington and Brussels succeeded in
engineering the coup
in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to
run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a
Apparently the militarist factions in the State
Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing
coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of
a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly
in the latter.
The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria
During most of the
previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington
increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and
direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the
benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the
new world economic superpower in Asia, China.
US economic supremacy
in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double
digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in
the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US
MNC’s were heavily invested in China. Three years into President
Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced
a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot
to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.
But it was
not profits and
markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the
militarist elites – it was military power .Even trade agreements,
like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to
encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional
Led by the hysterical
Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major
military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.
The US signed expanded military base agreements with
the Philippines, Japan and Australia; it participated in military
exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia; it dispatched
battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.
The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by
the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer, Trade
Negotiator Michael Froman (who works for both the
Asia militarist and
Zionist factions) and Treasury Secretary Jake Lew. The result was
the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries
Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to
entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes
and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets
and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against
Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.
faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to
accommodate its vastly more aggressive posture toward China.
Predictably, China has insisted on defending its
maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building
and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the
US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the
multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a
separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s
strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of
the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite
objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.
While the US depends
heavily on its military pacts with
South Korea and
Japan, the latter
nations have been meeting with China – their most significant
trading partner – to work on
Up until 2014, the “business-with-China
faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the
making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the
which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing
China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military
confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.
Ashton Carter, the US
Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in
the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the
TPP failed to
curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington
toward a high risk military
course, which could destabilize the
region and risk a
Pirouette: China and Syria
Meanwhile in the
Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy
war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with
the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.
The US joined Saudi
Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates and the EU in sponsoring a replay
of the Libyan ‘regime change’– sponsoring proxy terrorists from
around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has
been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and
multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran
and Lebanon ; for having an independent foreign policy; and for
maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily
democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the
Saudis would have Syria fractured into ethnically cleansed ‘tribal
state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.
The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary
of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded,
trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and
had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s
directions. The emergence of Isis showed just how close these
‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.
Initially, the traditional militarist wing of
Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for
direct US military
intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is
changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.
From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation
militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and
Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria
and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the
coasts of China and Iran. The militarist – Zionist ‘compromise’
over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special
Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist
mercenaries – the so-called ‘moderates’. There are commitments for
greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air
missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.
Factional Politics: An Overview
How does the record of
these competing factions,
formulating US imperial war
policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack
up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial
The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its
failure to end the longest
war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent
attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been
immediately followed by military
advances by the
nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which
controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of
the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington
to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural
The Afghan war’s
initial appearance of success triggered new wars –
inter alia Iraq.
But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable
failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a
stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium
production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s
poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop
– with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of
massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials –
the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally
disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and
family clans and associations.
Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic
classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy.
They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious
consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most
popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban,
which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.
They artificially slapped together a massive army of
surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall
apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on
the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which
accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the
Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and
influence of the Zionist
faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest
priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq –
without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the
Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory)
was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US
wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.
Before the militarists
could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental
structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered
war against Iraq.
The build-up for the US war against
Iraq has to be
understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of
Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and
Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the
unchallenged political-military power in the region using American
troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final
solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…
The US military and
occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic
destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and
society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a
vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the
US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).
faction set about in a parody of ‘Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge’ to identify
and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil
servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of
re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society.
They were assassinated, arrested, tortured or driven into exile.
The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and
traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic
cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction
did not pursue the
traditionally understood policy of empire building which would
incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to
form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas
wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a
scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies,
imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the
most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has
been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an
‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of
culture and community.
The goal of the
‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival.
The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many million refugees did
not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.
Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill
(costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American
taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and
suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a
pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem
includes the specter of ‘Isis’, which they may consider to be a
success – since hysteria over ‘Isis’ pushes the West ‘closer to
The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on
the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of
highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and
Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and
eventually form the Islamic
State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This group of experienced
Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of Isis
which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking
major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained
puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved
into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots
of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers
imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy,
which united highly trained nationalist Ba’athist military officers
with young Sunni fighters ,both locals and increasingly foreign
jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional
Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the
sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven
underground and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left
This core of the Isis
leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt and
demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash
than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came
within 40 miles of Baghdad.
The US militarist
faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They
mobilized, financed and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in
northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to
appeal to the Shia militia.
ISIS exploited the
Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria – and extended their sweep
well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees
from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced
nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a
dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible,
and its military outcome uncertain…Moreover the US was aligned with
dubious allies – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional
Turkey and Saudi
Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power
territorially and politically.
In the midst of this,
the traditional Washington militarists are left with
no overall viable
Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates
and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately
joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like Isis.
Throwing a wrench into
the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and
Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia
finally moved to bomb Isis strongholds – after identifying a
significant Isis contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims
are to bring war and terror back to Russia.
The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the
retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and
Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them.
Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their “
liberated” regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two
intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The
competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist
elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion,
regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not
bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just
unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism.
And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has
been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of
America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals
As we have seen, the
major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have
been dominated by militarists,
diplomats-linked to the MNCs. Latin America stands as something of
an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by
big business interests.
Their main focus has been on pushing the
Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’
agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and
political backing for the US global military agenda.
faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction
in support of the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002
and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful
regime change in Honduras (2010).
To harass the independent Argentine government which
was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector
of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul
Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise
hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the
‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The
prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a
case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the
unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994.
Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the “Nisman Affaire”
was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.
business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most
of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a
series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the
end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left
regimes and moved them closer to Washington.
committed by the US backed
military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through
eighties, and the crisis of the neo-liberal nineties, set the stage
for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to
come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the
various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused
elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US
political elite operates in Latin America mostly via
the time being.
From our brief survey,
it is clear that wars
play a key role in US foreign policy in
most regions of the
world. However, war policies in different regions respond to
in the governing elite.
predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the
Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force and
Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In
the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.
In the Middle East and
South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power
with the Zionist faction . Fundamentally the Zionist dictate policy
on Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine and the militarists follow.
overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.
The factions form
shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective
power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in
launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned
Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation
of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.
It should be noted that at
no point did the
oil and business
elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction
pushed hard to
secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was
not able to force the US to send large contingents of ground
troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing
sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a
leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a
major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of
violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the
military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over
its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.
Clearly, the business
faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and
tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and
potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.
The Zionists faction
among the Washington elite policymakers take positions which
consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any
regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional
militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who
scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is
no question of who benefits and who loses.
kind of war which
the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy
countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist
faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country
and incorporate it into a stable empire.
It is a serious error
to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist and various
militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not
one homogeneous group. They may
overlap at times,
but they also differ as to
liabilities , ideology and loyalties. They also differ in
their institutional allegiances.
The overarching militarist ideology, which permeates
US imperial foreign policy
obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers
master the mechanics of war
but have no strategy
for ruling after
intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent
wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine etc.
repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies
to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet
regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in
these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.
Long wars and short memories are the norm for
Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their
blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy
for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having
destroyed “the enemy country” they leave a vacuum to be filled by
chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these
misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and
greater international strife.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of
Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.