US Army drafts blueprint for World War III

Bill Van Auken & David North

With US politicians and the American media engaged in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the strategy guiding the latest US war in the Middle East, the United States Army has unveiled a new document entitled the Army Operating Concept (AOC), which provides a “vision of future armed conflict” that has the most ominous implications. It is the latest in a series of documents in which the Pentagon has elaborated the underlying strategy of preventive war that was unveiled in 1992—that is, the use of war as a means of destroying potential geopolitical and economic rivals before they acquire sufficient power to block American domination of the globe.

The document was formally released at this week’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference, an annual event bringing together senior officers and Defense Department officials for a series of speeches and panel discussions, along with a giant trade show mounted by arms manufacturers to show off their latest weapons systems and pursue lucrative Pentagon contracts.

Much of this year’s proceedings were dominated by dire warnings about the impact of cuts to the Army’s troop strength brought about by sequestration. Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters at the AUSA conference Monday that he was “starting to worry about our end strength” and regretting having told Congress in 2012 that the Army could manage with 490,000 active-duty soldiers.

In addition to the 490,000, there are 350,000 National Guard soldiers and 205,000 reservists, for a combined force—referred to by the Pentagon as the Total Army—of well over one million American troops. The answer to why such a gargantuan armed force would seem inadequate to Gen. Odierno can be found in the new Army Operating Concept (AOC), a reckless and dangerous document laying out a strategy of total war that encompasses the entire planet, including the United States itself.

The document makes clear that in regard to the ongoing debate over “boots on the ground,” for the top brass of the US Army there is no question: there will be boots and plenty of them.

The war for regime-change in Syria

Barry Grey

It will become increasingly clear that the central aim of the new war launched by the Obama administration is the overthrow of the pro-Iranian, pro-Russian regime in Syria and installation of a US puppet government. The campaign against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is camouflage for a decision to implement the war against Damascus that was called off last September and, at the same time, consolidate American control of Iraq.

ISIS, a creation of US imperialist intervention in Iraq, Libya and Syria, has provided a new pretext for US aggression in the Middle East. The coalition of states being organized by Washington is directed against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally Iran—a fact underscored by the declaration on Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry that the US would seek to exclude both Iran and Syria from diplomatic talks scheduled in Paris on Monday.

In the service of imperialism: Right-wing “intellectuals” gather in Kiev

David North

"In the writings of Timothy Snyder we are confronted with an intellectually unhealthy and dangerous tendency: the obliteration of the distinction between the writing of history and the manufacturing of propaganda in the service of the state." ~ David North

A group of right-wing academics, journalists, pro-war human-rights activists, and specialists in “discourse” is gathering in Kiev this coming weekend (May 16–19). The purpose of the meeting—headed by Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University and Leon Wieseltier, the neo-con literary editor of the New Republic, is to bestow political and moral respectability on the Ukrainian regime that came to power in February, through a putsch financed and directed by the United States and Germany.

Promoting themselves as an “international group of intellectuals,” the organizers have issued a publicity handout—excuse me, a “Manifesto”—in which the meeting is described as “an encounter between those who care about freedom and a country where freedom is dearly won.” There is some truth in this statement, as the overthrow of the Yanukovych government did, in fact, cost the United States a great deal of money.

The meeting is an exercise in imperialist propaganda. Its sponsors include the embassies of Canada, France, Germany, Poland and the United States. Other sponsors include the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, the European Endowment for Democracy, and Eurozine. On the Eurozine web site, which is heavily promoting the Kiev meeting, there are numerous postings relating to the geostrategic implications of the Ukrainian coup. Prominently featured are articles such as “How to Win Cold War II.” Its author, Vladislav Inozemtsev, is presently a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

US media escalates propaganda offensive on Ukraine

Joseph Kishore & David North

In the wake of the right-wing coup in Ukraine organized by the United States and the European powers, the American media is responding with a torrent of inflammatory war propaganda directed against Russia.

In the newspapers and on the airwaves, the demonization of Russia is unrelenting. The coverage of events follows a single simplistic story line. The actions of Russia are portrayed as the epitome of evil. Its president, Vladimir Putin, is the devil incarnate.

The historical background, the economic interests, the political context and the geo-strategic calculations that underlie Russia’s actions are ignored. No facts are allowed to get in the way of the programmed message. No lie is too absurd or ridiculous. The purpose of the propaganda campaign is not to convince public opinion, but to intimidate it.

Monday’s lead editorial (“Russia’s Aggression”) in the New York Times does not contain a trace of analysis. It consists entirely of denunciations, saber-rattling and limitless hypocrisy.

The Times begins by denouncing “Putin’s cynical and outrageous exploitation of the Ukrainian crisis to seize control of Crimea.” Reality is stood on its head. The United States supported right-wing and fascistic forces in Ukraine to bring about regime-change in a country on Russia’s border. These operations were exposed to the world in a telephone conversation leaked last month in which the US ambassador to Ukraine and the US assistant secretary of state discussed the composition of a new Washington-backed government. Of course, the Times makes no reference to this episode.

With breathtaking cynicism, the Times demands that Obama tell Putin that Russia “has stepped far outside the bounds of civilized behavior, and that this carries a steep price in international standing and in economic relations.”

A letter from Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, liberal advocate of a police state

Tom Carter

We invited Professor Geoffrey R. Stone to respond to the article, “Liberal advocates of a police state turn savagely against Edward Snowden,” by David North and Eric London, posted on the World Socialist Web Site on June 14 [reproduced below]. In the article, the authors condemned those erstwhile liberal commentators who had jumped on the reactionary campaign to label NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as a “traitor” and a “criminal.” Specifically, North and London observed that Professor Stone’s recent anti-Snowden article in the Huffington Post “advances arguments in support of authoritarian rule that totally contradict positions” he previously advanced. Professor Stone responded by email to Eric London on June 19. His letter, in its entirety, reads as follows:

“Thanks for sharing. What you seem not to understand is that situations are different and not everything is or should be on one side of the line or the other. Everything I’ve said about Snowden is perfectly consistent with everything I’ve ever said on this subject. Although I think we need a healthy distrust of our public officials, I also oppose the arrogance of a single, unelected individual who takes it upon himself, with no lawful authority or justification, to disclose properly classified information to persons unauthorized to receive it just because HE thinks the information shouldn’t be classified. The plain and simple fact is that Snowden betrayed the rule of law and the trust of the American people when he decided, without any legal authority, to disregard the judgments of the executive branch, the Congress and the judiciary in a way that put the security of the nation at risk. Even if what he did has beneficial consequences, he had no legal or moral right to do it. He is a criminal.”

The WSWS takes the opportunity presented by Professor Stone’s response to reply to his letter and explain its significance. From the first line to the last, Professor Stone’s letter confirms the WSWS’s frequent warning that the entire political establishment—including its “liberal” sections—is openly hostile to the democratic principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and in the later Civil War amendments. Professor Stone speaks for a significant section of academic intellectuals who are repudiating their previous commitment to democratic rights and advancing positions that would legitimize the establishment of a military-police dictatorship in the United States. Let us proceed to an examination of Stone’s condemnation of Edward Snowden.

The Iraq War ten years on: A turning point for US imperialism

Bill Van Auken & David North

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Ten years ago, the world watched the “shock and awe” bombing campaign light up the nighttime sky of Baghdad with billowing clouds of flame and smoke.

This campaign and the bloody ten years of occupation that followed had a devastating impact on what was once among the most advanced societies in the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions were made homeless.

The American military’s conduct of the war produced crimes of staggering dimensions. This included the turning of Fallujah, a city of 350,000 people, into a free-fire zone, the bombarding of its occupants with white phosphorus shells, banned by international law, and the summary execution of wounded prisoners. Ten years later, the rates of child cancer and birth defects in Fallujah are similar to those in Hiroshima following the US atomic bombing.

The leaking of stomach-turning photographs from Abu Ghraib lifted the veil on the barbaric character of the war, which included the systematic use of torture, death squads and sectarian massacres to terrorize the Iraqi population into submission.

People in Iraq continue to die from the sectarian violence unleashed by the war as well as from the destruction of infrastructure that has deprived them of clean water, health care and other essentials of life. One million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents, and hundreds of thousands suffer from grievous wounds.

The American “left” and the Strauss-Kahn affair

David Walsh

The arrest May 14 in New York City of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French and global political figure, on sexual assault charges has triggered a significant chain of events. Strauss-Kahn, at first denied bail, was pressured into resigning as head of the IMF May 18, and any hope he had of becoming president of France in the 2012 election is presumably dead.

No one knows what went on in the Sofitel Hotel a week ago Saturday. The sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn are extremely serious ones, and if proven guilty, he deserves to be held accountable.

However, as is the case in all such affairs, little of the media uproar has anything to do with objectively setting out the facts of the case, delineating the personalities and issues involved or generally encouraging the emergence of the truth.

The American media has set about poisoning the atmosphere against Strauss-Kahn. The New York Times, the liberal newspaper of record, has been at the front of the pack, treating the French politician’s guilt as an accomplished fact.

Public opinion is formed quickly in such matters, and Times executive editor Bill Keller knows perfectly well what he is doing, helping to contaminate the pool from which Strauss-Kahn’s jury will eventually be selected. One of the Times’ most recent contributions was the May 20 piece, “At I.M.F., Men on Prowl and Women on Guard,” which described the institution as “a sharp-elbowed place ruled by alpha male economists.”

From the point of view of the American media, the affair has become the latest opportunity to divert attention from the social calamity at home and neocolonial wars abroad. Characterizations of the IMF “big shot” as a bestial, serial “rapist,” with their anti-French and anti-Semitic subtext, are aimed at whipping up the basest sentiments in the population.

The serious questions raised by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair

David North & David Walsh

The arrest of French financier and politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City on sexual assault charges and his continued imprisonment is a disturbing event with far-reaching implications.

Strauss-Kahn is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), perhaps the most powerful global capitalist financial institution, and a prominent figure in the French Socialist Party, one of that country’s leading big business parties. He was expected to announce soon his candidacy for the presidency in 2012, and polls in France had him leading his rivals, President Nicolas Sarkozy and extreme right-winger Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

In his class position, privilege and social outlook, Strauss-Kahn stands for everything the World Socialist Web Site opposes. But he is also a human being who is entitled to democratic rights, which include legal due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Judging from the treatment of Strauss-Kahn since his arrest and the coverage of this event in the American media, this presumption does not exist.

Neither we nor anyone else—outside the accused and the accuser (and, perhaps, other interested and unnamed parties)—know exactly what went on in Strauss-Kahn’s suite at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan on Sunday. Whatever information the public possesses has emerged courtesy of the New York City Police Department, the alleged victim’s lawyer, and the mass media. None of these can be considered reliable sources.

As of yet, no one has heard Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s side of the story. Rather, he has been subjected to a calculated process of humiliation and dehumanization—such as the disgusting “perp walk”—whose obvious purpose is to convict the accused in the public’s mind even before an indictment has been handed down.

The killing of Osama bin Laden: Obama’s “historic moment”

David North

Of all the images that have emerged from the morally unclean events of Sunday night, the most politically significant and, one has reason to believe, enduring will prove to be the official photograph, released by the White House, of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other high officials of the United States government seated together in the situation room as they witnessed the killing of Osama bin Laden and several other human beings, including one woman.

Normally, the witnesses to an execution are not photographed. But the White House clearly wanted this “historic moment” captured for posterity. The eyes of all the participants in this ghoulish tableau—with the exception of a military officer who is working his computer—are apparently focused on a television screen. Obama, leaning forward, is stone faced as he stares ahead. Gates wears the sour expression of a man who is too well acquainted with such operations. Hillary Clinton’s right hand is raised over her mouth, a gesture that betrays the horror of what is unfolding before her eyes.

After bin Laden had been liquidated, the White House and the media moved quickly to orchestrate the celebration of what was, in fact, an extra-legal state killing. The president chose the East Room to inform the nation, late Sunday night, of bin Laden’s death.

Obama, so desperately anxious to associate himself with the killing, no doubt believes that this is the “defining” event of his presidency. But what does this conception—so enthusiastically endorsed by the media—say about the political and moral condition of the government of the United States?

The case of Professor Juan Cole

David North

Libya, imperialism and the prostration of the “left” intellectuals

Among the most striking features of the US-NATO onslaught against Libya has been the widespread support that this “war of choice” has evoked among left-liberal parties and the affluent middle-class milieu that comprise an important part of their constituency. Waving the banner of “human rights”—the most hypocritical and deceitful of all justifications for imperialist war—the liberal left embraced this war as their own. One would imagine that this was the first time in history that imperialism had proclaimed the cause of “human rights” and democracy as a cloak for its predatory interests!

The left-liberal justifications for the US-NATO bombing of Libya are thick with moral outrage against Colonel Gaddafi, but provide virtually nothing in the way of analysis of the motives and interests of the forces, within Libya and internationally, that are seeking his overthrow. The apologists argue and write as if they were members of a society of amnesiacs. There is no history. Nothing that occurred in the past is remembered. The morally-debased and genocidal record of imperialist colonialism is ignored. There is no reference in these writings to Italian colonialism’s extermination of nearly one half of the Libyan population during its occupation between 1911 and 1940. Nor do they note that the last major joint Anglo-French military action in North Africa, in October-November 1956, was the invasion of Egypt. That action, carried out in collusion with Israel, sought to overthrow the nationalist regime of another Arab colonel, Gamal Abdul Nasser, and reclaim control of the nationalized Suez Canal. Nasser was widely denounced in the British press as a “mad dog” and Prime Minister Anthony Eden plotted his assassination. The Anglo-French plan invasion failed because the United States, which had its own plans for the region, would not tolerate the attempt by the European imperialists to restore their colonial empires. President Eisenhower compelled the French, British and Israelis to beat a humiliating retreat.

Those who are hailing the attack on Libya as a triumph for the cause of human rights seem to have no recollection at all of the monstrous role played by the United States in attacking and subverting countries that interfered, in one way or another, with its strategic political and economic interests. It is not only the past that is forgotten (Vietnam, the savage war of the “Contras” in Nicaragua, the fomenting of civil wars in Angola and Mozambique, the overthrow and murder of Lumumba in the Congo, the longstanding support for the Apartheid regime in South Africa, the invasion of Iraq); the present is all but ignored. The pro-war “left” assigns to the United States the task of removing Gaddafi for firing on his people, even as Predator drones rain missiles down upon Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing people every day.

A significant example of the response of left-liberal intellectuals to the war is the statement posted March 27 by University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole on his widely-followed “Informed Comment” blog and subsequently reproduced in the Nation. Entitled “An Open Letter to the Left,” Professor Cole, a well-known historian of the Middle East, vociferously defends his support for the attack on Libya.

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