September 15, 2009 "consortiumnews" Editor’s Note: To understand what happened to the United States over the past three decades, a good place to start is by examining the battles fought within the CIA’s analytical division over evidence of Soviet capabilities and intentions, which were systematically hyped by Cold War hardliners.
By exaggerating the Soviet menace, these hardliners manipulated the American people into allowing vast sums of taxpayers’ money to flow into the military-industrial complex. But a newly released U.S. document demonstrates how badly the intelligence was distorted, as former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman writes …:
In his article "How the Soviet Menace Was Hyped” Melvin Goodman intelligently asks,
And why does President Barack Obama consider Afghanistan to be an “international security challenge of the highest order” and the Afghan war a “war that we cannot afford to lose.” The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were operating independently of any national government and did most of their organizational work in Germany and the United States.
We were compelled to rout them from Afghanistan in 2001, but the wars in Iraq and the continued war in Afghanistan has not contributed to the security and stability of the United States.
Matt McCarten also questions the War in Afghanistan:
US top general David Petraeus publicly admitted that al Qaeda doesn’t exist in the country. It is based in Pakistan. So now the West claims that the war is against the Taleban – not al Qaeda. The Taleban has no international terrorist network and there is no instance of any Afghan being involved in a terrorist plot anywhere in the world. The Taleban, while oppressive, is the Afghan local resistance, who see their fight as a war of liberation against foreign occupation. They have nothing to do with international terrorism.
All the West has done is impose a corrupt regime over a formerly oppressive one. Our military presence is immoral and will substantially increase the threat of terrorism, not eliminate it. All the experts accept that the West’s activities in Afghanistan are increasing the recruitment of al Qaeda terrorists elsewhere in the world. Afghanistan is our generation’s Vietnam.
Ever onward, our U.S. military machine, or, as a mighty hammer treating everything global as proverbial and eventual nails, recklessly, sloppily, needlessly bludgeoning on through the generations, wreaking massive chaos, death and suffering among millions — hapless foreign civilians and the solder-children of this nation.
Sen. Lindsay Graham on Meet the Press last Sunday insisted more troops should immediately be sent to Afghanistan — why, to help the troops ALREADY there, of course. How dare anyone ask for any deeper exploration? As if ongoing wrong-headed wars have their own “squatters’ rights” for longevity. Status quo or, maybe, inertia, the tendency for an entity to stay still when still, and to stay in motion when in motion. Hang the
mass homicide collateral damage. Our health care program stays paralyzed while the moneyed and bloody military program roars on.
Our government leadership seems to keep the American citizenry on at least pale red or orange levels of low grade but chronic terror-anxiety alert so that the military industrial complex will have non-stop access to those generous blank checks of unwitting taxpayers handed out by a Congress of weak and/or corrupt invertebrates with their own collective terror of being labeled “soft on terror.”
Goodman relates so much of what is happening today regarding our military behavior and our global predicaments to the politicized Intelligence analyses of the past. He explores a recently released, declassified, Pentagon-contracted study from 1995 about Soviet intentions during the Cold War. Serious American misassumptions, blunders, were made is today’s consensus. But in light of the pattern of military proliferation, those exaggerations and bulletins of impending crises can also be regarded less as mistakes and more as opportunistic manipulations for power and contractual profiteering.
So before President Obama pushes us into a faux-innocent future, we need to take a hard, honest look at the past. Not only to the Viet Nam era, which is being referenced more and more now. But to the Cold War era with Russia, with those ever familiar neocons like Gates, Cheney, Rumsfeld involved even then, peddling national fear — for profit, self-aggrandizement and power.
The notion of winning or prevailing in a nuclear conflict was, of course, ludicrous in the extreme, but this did not stop the CIA’s leadership (Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates) from endorsing the view that the Soviet Red Army could conduct military operations on a nuclear battlefield and had improved “their ability to deal with the many contingencies of such a conflict, and raising the possibility of outcomes favorable to the USSR.”
The CIA ignored the Soviet slowdown in the growth of military procurement, exaggerated the capabilities of important strategic systems and distorted the military and economic power of the Warsaw Pact states.
Several years later, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact collapsed, and former CIA Director Stansfield Turner wrote that the “corporate view” at the CIA “missed by a mile.”
The Pentagon study demonstrates that the Soviet military high command “understood the devastating consequences of nuclear war” and believed that the use of nuclear weapons had to be avoided at “all costs.”
Nevertheless, in 1975, presidential chief of staff Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld introduced a group of neoconservatives, led by Harvard professor Richard Pipes, to the CIA in order to make sure that future NIEs would falsely conclude that the Soviet Union rejected nuclear parity, were bent on fighting and winning a nuclear war, and were radically increasing their military spending.
In the 1980s, CIA Deputy Director Gates used this worst-case reasoning in a series of speeches to ingratiate himself with CIA Director Bill Casey and the Reagan administration.
The clearly politicized intelligence re the Soviet danger “missed by a mile.” As did the report of WMDs in Iraq. Consider what destruction for millions and what ill-gotten power and profit for a small group of manipulative, self-aggrandizing others those irrational miscalculations delivered.
Play the bogeyman card to the citizenry and feed that military industrial complex beast. We must look at the present geopolitical landscape and stay awake to dangers of intelligence manipulation once again. Respect the ferocious will of the recent and present neocon players involved in titillating us still with the threat of global terror.
The bogeymen of Iran and North Korea as presented by our leadership and an accommodating corporate media. The agenda of a dangerous ally, Israel, with an implacable will for massive offense in the name of defense against its particular enemies. Add a President who is being compared to LBJ more and more in relation to Afghanistan (though who seems distressingly smitten with Ronald Reagan — he mentioned him appreciatively again on Letterman Monday night). I’d prefer he emulate FDR, MLK and/or RFK, myself.
Mr. Goodman concludes:
The exaggeration of the Soviet threat in the 1980s led to an additional trillion and a half dollars in defense spending against a Soviet Union that was in decline and a Soviet military threat that was disappearing.
It is time to recognize the great harm that was done to the intelligence community and the CIA with the politicization of intelligence in the 1980s as well as the militarization of intelligence over the past twenty years.
If we don’t reform the intelligence process and create a genuinely independent intelligence capability there will continue to be threat exaggerations that cost us greatly in blood and treasure over the next 10 years.
Eric Margolis, in his article tellingly entitled “America Has Been Here Before” writes of the recurring, out of control militarization and weapons proliferation in terms of Afghanistan, reminiscent of Viet Nam:
Afghanistan’s much ballyhooed recent election staged by its foreign occupiers turned out to be a fraud wrapped up in a farce — as this column predicted a month ago. It was as phony and meaningless as U.S.-run elections in Vietnam in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, American and NATO generals running the Afghan war amazingly warn they risk being beaten by Taliban tribesmen in spite of their 107,000 soldiers, B-1 heavy bombers, F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, Apache and AC-130 gunships, heavy artillery, tanks, radars, killer drones, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, rockets, and space surveillance.
Washington has spent some $250 billion in Afghanistan since 2001. Canada won’t even reveal how many billions it has spent. Each time the U.S. sent more troops and bombed more villages, Afghan resistance sharply intensified and Taliban expanded its control, today over 55% of the country.
Now, U.S. commanders are begging for at least 40,000 more U.S. troops — after President Barack Obama just tripled the number of American soldiers there. Shades of Vietnam-style "mission creep." Ghost of Gen. William Westmoreland, rattle your chains.
The director of U.S. national intelligence just revealed Washington spent $75 billion US last year on intelligence, employing 200,000 people. Embarrassingly, the U.S. still can’t find Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar after hunting them for eight years. Washington now fears Taliban will launch a Vietnam-style Tet offensive against major cities.
This week, in a wildly overdue observation, U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress, we must rapidly build the Afghan army and police."
Finally, Nikki Alexander on “How To Pay Off the National Debt” offers a radical and wonderful formula for change:
What about all that Pentagon real estate owned by US taxpayers? Over 1,000 military bases worldwide. That real estate must be worth a fortune. Given the worldwide inflation of real estate values, created by the central banks, it must be worth trillions. We could close our worldwide military bases and sell that real estate to the locals who would probably jump at the chance to get rid of a foreign occupying army. We could ask the buyers to pay for the land with worthless Federal Reserve notes. That would solve their problem of how to get rid of their worthless US dollars and simultaneously give Americans a sufficient amount of worthless dollars to pay back the Federal Reserve for the national debt they created with worthless Federal Reserve notes. Without those military bases we couldn’t have wars and we should be able to drastically reduce the Pentagon budget, saving even more money ~ and lives! Just think of it … close to one trillion dollars every year being sucked up by the Pentagon would be liberated for health care, education, infrastructure and a peacetime economy. We could even get rid of the Pentagon all together. After all, we lived quite comfortably without it for 170 years.
While we’re at it, we could sell off those secret CIA torture prisons; close all those military labs that make chemical and biological weapons and the pharmaceutical labs that create deadly vaccines. This would free up enough cash to save our hospitals, schools and national parks with money left over to clean up all the depleted uranium sites contaminating 39 of our states.
We could get rid of the domestic surveillance apparatus and stop outsourcing intelligence gathering to private “security” firms, cancel the contracts with mercenaries and assassins, stop funding military recruiters in our schools and stop paying for coups in countries where people would rather elect their own leaders. That would save a fortune. Selling off the whole covert operations apparatus would have the double advantage of fetching a good price and freeing other people to live their lives in peace.
Edmund Burke wisdom is to be heeded. “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” As for Nikki Alexander’s scenario of a paradigm shift to peace, how can we get there from here?