• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Extending Zones of Democratic Peace

The News: U.S. Blackhawks and special forces attacked the village of Sukkariyeh, Syria, on the border with Iraq, and claimed to have killed a “top” Al Qaida operative during a gun fight at an alleged terrorist “compound.” Syrian officials said that the attack killed eight people including four children. U.S. military spokesmen denied that any“women or children” had been killed and said that “"American troops [i.e. the attackers] put themselves at risk to ensure children and women would not be killed in the Syria incident." Another spokesman told the Associated Press that "This operation is just part of a wider campaign to take the fight to (al-Qaida in Iraq) not just inside Iraq but to other areas."

The Note: What needs to be understood is that this small village raid is not simply “an incident” in the evolving chaos of the Iraqi war but rather an essential and integral component of the neocon policy of homeland security-through-war. To understand how this is so, it is necessary to see how this policy evolved from the broader tradition of U.S. hegemony.

In the early days of the Cold War, various policy wonks (mostly neo liberal types) concocted a theory to the effect that global peace and prosperity could be promoted by setting up zones of democratic peace around the world. The nearly absurd premise was that “democracies” don’t wage war against one another but are rather naturally inclined to do nice things such as engaging in commerce and cultural exchanges. Western Europe was such a zone, and the goal was to establish such zonal outposts until the world become one happy network of prosperous democracies.

Alas! The theory’s definition of “democracy” all but crashed on the rock of absurdities. An early definition held that a democracy was a country that held periodic elections in which at least 10% of the population voted. Later definitions argued that democracy existed when 30% of the males acquired the franchise. Virtually all definitions have equated democracy with market and free trade economic policies.

Of course, it was all just pamphletering in the cause of American hegemony. As against this onslaught on credulity, one would rather the up-front honesty of the ancient Athenians who said simply enough: We have the best way of life and we are going to make sure you share in it.

The inspiring thing about Jack Kennedy was his essentially Athenian spirit. There could be no question that he espoused the aims of “zonalism” but pursued these goals by dressing them in altruism and appealing to youthful enthusiasm, as was the case with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. The essential feature of such programs was simply that they propagandized our way of life through peaceful (and often helpful) means. It is difficult to fault an empire for pursuing it’s imperial aims by peaceful means.

To be sure, Kennedy zonalism was not all wine and roses. The other side of his policy was confrontation with the Soviet Union, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination of Diem and the establishment of “special forces” -- the first open and institutional acknowledgement that the U.S. was prepared to engage in dirty war for the sake of democratic peace.

We shall never know how Kennedy might have balanced light and dark. Under Johnson and McNamara, Vietnam became our first modern zonal war, waged disgracefully and ending in defeat. Nixon ended the “police action” disaster by, in effect, turning it into a full-theater regional war which we won for a sufficiently decent interval to wash our hands and claim that the denouement was none of our affair. Thereafter Nixon and subsequent US policy contented itself with a lower profile zonalism based on routine black ops, such as assassinating elected leaders or assisting in remote jungle brush battles and the occasional sabre rattling.

Putting aside the First Gulf War as a basically exceptional international police action against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, U.S. zonal policies became more ostensible and pro-active under the Clinton Administration. The fall of the Soviet Union enabled us to throw our weight around more easily and we did, most particularly in Yugoslavia and later in our ongoing aerial degradation of Iraq. It is not necessary to review the heap of lies and excuses smothered in the smarmy sauce of hypocritical hortatory that was served up to justify these policies. The basic fact is that the United States reverted to a more proactive zonal policy which did not shy from the overt use of force to establish puppet states around the world.

Enter the Ghouls of Neoconservatism, whose contribution to U.S. foreign policy was clearly and candidly set forth in September 2000 in a document entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses. While this document’s protocols drew quick attention abroad, even today, eight years on, they remain effectively ignored in what passes for American public discourse. Back in 2002, the Moscow Times called the document an “American Mein Kampf” And with reason

In summary essence, what the neocons argued was that the use of force was “nothing to be ashamed about” (their words). The United States should dispense with elaborate justifications and intricate diplomatic dances aimed at achieving some facade of multi-national cooperation and international legality. If we could “use” diplomacy to get other nations or institutions to subserviently tag along with the shots we were calling, fine. If not, to hell with them. The means and goal of American policy should be to “project” our power around the world. To this end, the United States had to have the ability to: (1) wage multiple simultaneous full theater wars; (2) control space and cyberspace and (3) engage in ongoing “constabulary” actions designed to “secure and extend zones of democratic peace.”

Under these geo-military protocols, the concept of zones of democratic peace was metamorphosed from a network of allied client states to what the neocons called the Homeland’s forward based “security perimeter.” In the immediate near term, this so-called security perimeter was to extend from the Baltic States, through the Balkans, to the Caucasus and South Central Asia. It also included converting Iraq and Afghanistan into “zones of democratic peace” which were to be secured by “constabulary” actions.

In neocon jargon, “constabulary” actions are not traditional peacekeeping operations which are explicitly rejected. Constabulary operations are those which meld isolated special forces operations with traditional military engagements so as to carry out hybrid military-police actions in regional areas. These forces are to be equipped with blackhawks, missiles and drones on the one hand, and “intelligence” units, the aim of which is to “penetrate” local society so as to “shape the security environment”.

The key to understanding constabulary operations lies in a conjunction. Under neocon doctrine, the overall mission of constabulary forces is to “secure and extend” zones of democratic peace.

Thus, given that Iraq and Afghanistan are each zones of democratic peace, the goal is not simply to “secure” them (that is to destroy civil society and reduce them to exploitable and rubble) but also to “extend” them. The only way to extend a zone is to incur and invade into the neighboring zone, which is precisely what the U.S. is currently doing in Pakistan and now Syria and which it tried unsuccessfully this summer in Georgia. The perverted theory behind these “actions” is that “the Homeland’s” security (and that of our “key” regional allies) is promoted only by degrading and rubbelizing our regional neighbours.

In short, everything we see happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere has gone exactly according to neocon plans -- first drafted by Cheney in 1991 and ultimately published by the P.N.A.C. in 2000. What is important to grasp is not simply the evolving genesis of this execrable doctrine, but also not to loose sight of the substantive alteration of policy embodied in the changes of means and degree. When all is said and done, American hegemony in the Fifties and early Sixties did in fact seek to “build up” liberal societies around the world and this involved appreciable degrees foreign aid and other essentially constructive measures. Neocon policy could give a damn. It is only interested in destruction and despoliation and seeks only to metastasize itself around the world in an ever spreading stain.

In its waning days, the neocon Bush Administration is adhering to its protocols with iredentist mindlessness. It will be up to an Obama Administration to put an end to this psychotic derangement masquerading as policy and to return us to the happier cold war policies of the Eisenhower years.

©WCG, 2008