Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice | By James Petras

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By Prof James Petras

Global Research, May 17, 2009

mcchrystalbw“The Deltas are psychos…You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force…”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980’s.  Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan.  McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions.  He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building.  Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance.  The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes.   The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance.  McChrystal’s SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes.  During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects.  McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the ‘direct action’ forces of the ‘Special Missions Units.  ‘Direct Action’ operatives are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize.  They engage in ‘propaganda of the dead’, assassinating local leaders to ‘teach’ the locals to obey and submit to the occupation.  Obama’s appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country.

The deteriorating position of the US is manifest in the tightening circle around all the roads leading in and out of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as well as the expansion of Taliban control and influence throughout the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.  Obama’s inability to recruit new NATO reinforcements means that the White House’s only chance to advance its military-driven empire is to escalate the number of US troops and to increase the kill ratio among any and all suspected civilians in territories controlled by the Afghan armed resistance.

The White House and the Pentagon claim that the appointment of McChrystal was due to the ‘complexities’ of the situation on the ground and the need for a ‘change in strategy’.  ‘Complexity’ is a euphemism for the increased mass opposition to the US, complicating traditional carpet ‘bombing and military sweep’ operations.  The new strategy practiced by McChrystal involves large scale, long term ‘special operations’ to devastate and kill the local social networks and community leaders, which provide the support system for the armed resistance.  

Obama’s decision to prevent the release of scores of photographs documenting the torture of prisoners by US troops and ‘interrogators’ (especially under command of the ‘Special Forces’), is directly related to his appointment of McChrystal whose ‘SOT’ forces were highly implicated in widespread torture in Iraq.  Equally important, under McChrystal’s command the DELTA, SEAL and Special Operations Teams will have a bigger role in the new ‘counter-insurgency strategy’.  Obama’s claim that the publication of these photographs will adversely affect the ‘troops’  has a particular meaning:  The graphic exposure of McChrystal’s modus operandi for the past 5 years under President Bush will undermine his effectiveness in carrying out the same operations under Obama.  

Obama’s decision to re-start the secret ‘military tribunals’ of foreign political prisoners, held at the Guantanamo prison camp, is not merely a replay of the Bush-Cheney policies, which Obama had condemned and vowed to eliminate during his presidential campaign, but part of his larger policy of militarization and coincides with his [underhanded] approval of the major secret police surveillance operations conducted against US citizens.
Putting McChrystal in charge of the expanded Afghanistan-Pakistan military operations means putting a notorious practitioner of military terrorism – the torture and assassination of opponents to US policy – at the center of US foreign policy.  Obama’s quantitative and qualitative expansion of the US war in South Asia means massive numbers of refugees fleeing the destruction of their farms, homes and villages; tens of thousands of civilian deaths, and eradication of entire communities.  All of this will be committed by the Obama Administraton in the quest to ‘empty the lake (displace entire populations) to catch the fish (armed insurgents and activists)’.
Obama’s restoration of all of the most notorious Bush Era policies and the appointment of Bush’s most brutal commander is based on his total embrace of the ideology of 
military-driven empire building.  Once one believes (as Obama does) that US power and expansion are based on military conquests and counter-insurgency, all other ideological, diplomatic, moral and economic considerations will be subordinated to militarism.  By focusing all resources on successful military conquest, scant attention is paid to the costs borne by the people targeted for conquest or to the US treasury and domestic American economy.   This has been clear from the start:  In the midst of a major recession/depression with millions of Americans losing their employment and homes, President Obama increased the military budget by 4% – taking it beyond $800 billion dollars.  
Obama’s embrace of militarism is obvious from his decision to expand the Afghan war despite NATO’s refusal to commit any more combat troops.  It is obvious in his appointment of the most hard-line and notorious Special Forces General from the Bush-Cheney era to head the military command in subduing Afghanistan and the frontier areas of Pakistan.
It is just as George Orwell described in 
Animal Farm:  The Democratic Pigs are now pursuing the same brutal, military policies of their predecessors, the Republican Porkers, only now it is in the name of the people and peace.  Orwell might paraphrase the policy of President Barack Obama, as ‘Bigger and bloodier wars equal peace and justice’. 

James Petras is one of the best political sociologists and analysts of capitalism, Zionism, and empire policy around. Petras is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He’s a noted academic figure on the US Left and a well-respected Latin American expert and longtime chronicler of the region’s popular struggles. He’s also an advisor to the landless workers in Brazil and the unemployed workers movement in Argentina. Along the way, he managed to find time to write many hundreds of articles and 62 books published in 29 languages

5 comments on “Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice | By James Petras
  1. Amazing how so many Irishmen have been prostituted by the American experience…from people trampled and brutalised under colonialism, they have given America their brawn and muscle to brutalise scores of other nations…The Irish and their cousins, the so-called “Scots-Irish” (Ulstermen) have formed the backbone of America’s police and military for ages. They’re wonderful fighters. But these are fighters too easily recruited to serve in morally despicable duties, thereby becoming little above henchmen for unjust status quos. That, I suppose, never occurred to most of them.

  2. Personally, I’d omit the “probably” in the bio note on Petras. He is one of the best, plain and simple; his past record speaks for itself, and he proves it again with each new article.

    A note on Don Edwards’ comment: check out Joe Bageant’s book, Deer Hunting with Jesus for the best discussion of the “borderers”–the Scottish and Scots-Irish who have indeed provided grit and gristle for the American military empire (and our police forces!).

    One ought to pair Petras’s Orwellian thoughts with a recent piece by Paul Craig Roberts in which he wonders who really controls America, and for whom and what we fight our wars and bankrupt our treasury. Conclusion: arms manufacturers and their lobbyists and in-the-pocket politicians; AIPAC and the perverse ideology it represents; bankers.

    The wonder is … that there is wonder! Let’s focus on this question: Why and how are the multitude sucked in every single election cycle so that they believe THIS TIME things will be different? What makes us so damned gullible? Is it something in the cereal? Too much television? Not enough real reading and discourse? Things have gotten so bad now, I’m beginning to think of this as our Post-Orwellian age!

  3. Agree with the learned comments above. It’s peculiar that the Irish in their diaspora have ended up as muscle for other oppressors and don’t seem to mind. Maybe because compared to the horrid conditions they emerged from they now have a better deal, and like most people simply …forgot. Still that’s hard to believe given that the Irish people have such strong oral traditions. Incidentally the term “borderers” as used by Mr. Corseri is the more apt denomination for this people, since what we refer as “Scots-Irish” came overwhelmingly from the border lands of Northern England and South Scotland, plus the coastal areas, and later Ulster itself, after the British monarchs created that fateful “plantation”.

    In any case, the Scots and the Irish are almost indistinguishable racially, and the only slight distinction we might find in their DNAs, if we think about that with Hitlerite obsession, is that the Brits from the southern and eastern part of England have more viking in their blood, more Danish and “norse”, comprising today’s Norway, Sweden, Finland and some of the Baltics.

    By the way, I have many Irish friends, and when they’re on the good side, they’re awesome!

  4. Suggestion by Associate Editor Corseri duly noted. Petras simply rocks! We have reworded the bio blurb accordingly.

  5. History and religion—far more than genetics—account for the proclivity of any given ethnic group to become a soldierly race with marked chauvinist tendencies. The racial pot alluded to by Mr. Diaz is a lot more complex than he describes. Yes, compared to, say, an Inuit or a Chinese, the Scots and the Irish have a lot more in common with each other than with such Asian groups. But there the similarity quickly grows thin. The “Scots-Irish” in America were chiefly Scottish, being essentially migrants from the Ulster colony in Northern Ireland, sent there by the British precisely to “pacify” the rebellious Irish. They arrived here in the late 1600s-early 1700s. The Catholic Irish, on the other hand, crossed over mostly from the middle to the last portion of the 19th century. The Scotch-Irish, or Scotch/Presbyterians, genetically comprised quite a few strains, as has been shown by various authors, including Kevin Phillips and historian Andrew Hacker Fisher (Albion’s Seed), including Northern English and French Huguenots. As Phillips notes in his classic The Cousins’ Wars:

    “The term “Scotch-Irish” does not fully convey their hybrid nature. The “Scotch” who moved into Ulster between 1610 and 1700 also included English Puritans and several thousand French Huguenots, while the lowland Scottish migrants themselves were atypical because they included a substantial ratio of Covenanters fleeing the so-called killing times of Stuart repression between 1660 and 1690. By the time they started migrating to America in large numbers, the Scotch-Irish were already a toughened frontier breed, quite different from other Britons.”

    Indeed. And when these new bellicose arrivals—product of constant, centuries-long, vicious warfare between the English and Scottish kings— made it to the new world, entering for the most part through the “Delaware corridor” (today’s Pennsylvania, mostly controlled by Quakers), they were not exactly welcome, a fact that forced their relocation to the vast, semi-wild interior of the nation. The “West” was not yet part of the US, though, so in those days, the “back country” comprised the ethno-geographic region of states such as Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Western Virginia, Missouri, and Alabama. Eventually the Scotch-Irish reached Georgia and Texas, as the migration streams made sharp turns to the southeast and southwest, respectively. As well, many would eventually settle today’s Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas territories. In all of these movements, the “Scotch” encountered multiple obstacles to their advance, including Indians and older settlers. In fact, as the legendary Hatfield-McCoy feud reminds us, when these folks were not fighting “foreigners”, they were training their muzzleloaders on each other.

    It’s noteworthy that although for quite a while the Scotch-Irish were not exactly held in high regard for their social graces, their martial virtues made them succeed in politics. For good or for ill this ethnic group has given more US presidents to the United States than any other, including Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and the two Bushes. And one of the few unquestionable heroes the US has produced, the noble Sgt. Alvin Cullum York, immortalized by Gary Cooper in the film of eponymous name, who hailed from Tennessee, was also Scotch-Irish.

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