Engendering Crises to Justify the National Security State
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The latest issue of Time magazine, one of the very models of the mainstream press, says it all: “NATO’s Back in Business, Thanks to Russia’s Threat to Ukraine.” The basic theme of the article is that we should be thankful that NATO didn’t go out of business when the Cold War ended. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the article suggests, proves that keeping NATO in existence was a wise decision.
What a crock.
When the Cold War ended in 1989, it caught a lot of people flatfooted, especially the three main branches of the national-security state (NSS) apparatus: the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. The Soviet Union’s unilateral decision to release control over Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries was the last thing that the NSS expected. After some 50 years of ever-increasing budgets, power, and influence, the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA naturally assumed that this process was going to continue forever.
It wasn’t until after World War II that the national-security state apparatus became a part of America’s governmental system. The justification? To wage a “Cold War” against the Soviet Union, which had been America’s World War II partner and ally. Unless we adopt this totalitarian-like apparatus, the argument went, the United States would fall to the communists, who were supposedly everywhere, including under everyone’s bed.
Thanks to the national-security state, America became a nation that very much resembled the totalitarian nation that it was opposing in the Cold War: militarism, empire, foreign military bases, enormous standing army, military industrial complex, regime change operations, assassinations, torture, foreign interventions, containment, indefinite detention without trial, MKULTRA, NATO, and more. Despite the fact that this apparatus fundamentally altered America’s governmental system and the American way of life, it was adopted without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.
When the Cold War ended in 1989, the NSS went into a panic. Many people were talking about a “peace dividend,” which would entail major cutbacks in military spending. Libertarians were calling for a total dismantling of the NSS. After all, since the Cold War was the justification for this new-fangled, alien way of life that had fundamentally altered American life and America’s governmental structure, then why shouldn’t it be dismantled once the justification was gone?
Immediately, the NSS started coming up with all sorts of new justifications for its existence, such as the drug war, helping to spread “capitalism,” and the vicissitudes of an “unsafe world.”
But the NSS did more than come up with new justifications for its continued existence. It also engaged in a parallel-track strategy to convince people that the NSS was still vitally necessary after all.
One track involved going into the Middle East and poking as many hornets’ nests as possible. The resulting crises could then be used as the excuse for maintaining the NSS’s existence.
They didn’t dally. Soon after the Cold War ended, there was the Persian Gulf intervention against the NSS’s former partner and ally Saddam Hussein, the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants knowing what effect that would have on the health of the Iraqi people, the brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it,” the no-fly zones that killed more Iraqis, the support of brutal Middle East dictators, the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, and the unconditional military and financial support to the Israeli government.
The strategy worked. Over time, such actions produced such deep anger and hatred toward the United States that there were terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and the 9/11 attacks, followed by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Gitmo, rendition, torture, indefinite detention, kidnappings, drone assassinations, followed by the Ft. Hood terrorist attack, the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, the near terrorist attack in Detroit, and many more. It was a perpetual crisis machine.
What was the response of the NSS to all this? The response was: “This shows how you need us more than ever. The terrorists are coming to get us, just like the communists were coming to get us during the Cold War. Just continue to increase our budgets and expand our power and influence. The war on terrorism is going to last much longer than the war on communism.”
The other track involved keeping NATO, which the national-security state brought into existence during the Cold War to protect Western Europe from a Soviet attack, in existence rather than simply dismantling it. Even worse, it also involved having NATO expand eastward by incorporating the nations that had once been members of the Soviet Empire, thereby violating a promise that the United States had expressly made to Russia that such an expansion would not take place.
The expansion got NATO, whose members included Germany, the nation that invaded Russia twice in the 20th century, wreaking death and destruction on a massive level in WWI and WWII, closer and closer to Russia’s borders. At the same time, NATO was proposing the installation of missile systems within Eastern Europe, systems that were obviously directed toward Russia. Finally, NATO’s expansion reached Ukraine, which NATO wanted to make the newest member of its alliance. That would place NATO, including Germany, right on Russia’s border.
How could the NATO expansion not produce a crisis with Russia? The crisis was inevitable. What were the chances that Russia would passively and meekly let NATO, including Germany, come up to Russia’s borders with troops and missiles? What were the chances that Russia would subject its longtime military bases in Crimea to NATO control?
The answer is: No chance. The Pentagon, CIA, and NSA had to realize that Russia would ultimately push back. And now that Russia has pushed back, we have the national-security state and NATO, backed by their acolytes in the U.S. mainstream press, exclaiming: “We’re innocent! We were just minding our own business, just like we were before the 9/11 attacks. It’s those aggressive (communist) Russians who are responsible for this crisis. Thank goodness you have the NSS and NATO to protect America and the world from Russian (communist) aggression.”
To better understand how the Ukraine crisis came into existence, ask yourself this: What would be the reaction of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, if Russia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Mexico were to join together in a renewed Warsaw Pact which included Russian military bases, troops, and missiles in those countries directed toward the United States?
I’ll tell you what their reaction would be: They’d be screaming like banshees about how the communists are coming to get us again, just like they did when the Cubans and Soviets installed defensive missiles in Cuba in 1962 to deter another unprovoked attack on that island nation by the U.S. national-security state.
Moreover, the NSS would be doing exactly what Putin has done with Crimea. The Pentagon and the CIA would be invading and conquering Cuba, capturing or killing Fidel Castro (a communist), making all of Cuba (not just Guantanamo Bay) a dependent member of the U.S. Empire, and replacing Castro’s primitive surveillance system over the Cuban people with a state-of-the art NSA surveillance system.
The best thing the American people could have ever done is not having embraced the totalitarian-type apparatus known as the national-security state. In the name of fighting communism, it caused America to abandon its founding principles and ideals of liberty and limited government and turned America toward dark side practices that characterize communist and other totalitarian regimes.
The next-best thing the American people could have done is having dismantled the national-security state apparatus at the end of the Cold War.
The best thing the American people could do today is dismantle, not reform, the national-security state apparatus. That’s a key to restoring a balanced, harmonious, peaceful, moral, free, and prosperous society to our land.