Εισαγωγή ειδικού συνεργάτη: Μετά το σύντομο εισαγωγικό σχόλιο ακολουθούν δύο άρθρα για την έννοια της αυτοκρατορίας και για την αμερικανική στρατηγική και την ετοιμασία των αμερικανικών υπηρεσιών που επιστρατεύουν προς τούτο τα πανεπιστήμια για την αντιμετώπιση κοινωνικών αναταραχών.
Είναι προς τιμή των Εκδόσεων Ποιότητα το γεγονός ότι τα κατά κοινή ομολογία έχει εκδώσει πλείστα κορυφαία κείμενα διεθνών σχέσεων, αναλυτών όπως οι Carr, Fuller, Howard, Gilpin, Waltz, Mearsheimer, Bull, Watson, Wight, σύντομα του Morgenthau, και άλλων. Επίσης, κείμενα ελλήνων επιστημόνων για την αμερικανική εξωτερική πολιτική και τα στρατηγικά ζητήματα της Ευρώπης και των διατλαντικών σχέσεων. Κυκλοφόρησαν επίσης το μόνο βιβλίο ενός από τους σημαντικότερους σύγχρονους αμερικανούς πολιτικούς φιλοσόφους, του John Rawls Το δίκαιο των λαών. Στο βιβλίο αυτό ο διακεκριμένος αμερικανός στοχαστής προεκτείνει τις σκέψεις του για το διεθνές σύστημα. Είναι το μόνο του κείμενο προς αυτή την άκρως ολισθηρή κατεύθυνση. Δεν είναι τυχαίο ότι για τις επεμβάσεις οδηγείται σε συμπέρασμα ότι δικαιολογείται μόνο για αρωγή και όχι για να αλλάξουν τα θεμελιώδη κοσμοθεωρητικά δόγματα των εθνών. Ποια είναι λοιπόν τα μεγάλα ερωτήματα. Συνοψίζουμε.
Πρώτον, η σταθερότητα στις διεθνείς σχέσεις που όπως όλοι βλέπουν πλέον εξαρτάται από την ισορροπία ισχύος και συμφερόντων κυρίως μεταξύ των Μεγάλων Δυνάμεων. Μια επισφαλής ισορροπία που η ιστορία διδάσκει ότι συχνά όταν η κατανομή ισχύος αλλάξει υπάρχουν διενέξεις και πόλεμοι μέχρι να επανέλθει εάν επανέλθει στο διεθνές σύστημα σε ισορροπία.
Δεύτερον, η σταθερότητα στην Ευρώπη και η ανάπτυξη της συνεργασίας δεν είναι συνάρτηση μόνο των θεσμών και της εν γένει ολοκλήρωσης στους καταναλωτικούς τομείς. Συναρτάται καίρια με το ευρύτερο στρατηγικό περιβάλλον αλλά και την θέση και τον ρόλο της Γερμανίας στην Ευρωπαϊκή και Ευρασιατική πολιτική.
Τρίτον, η διεθνής συνεργασία είναι συνάρτηση των συμφερόντων και της ισχύος των κρατών, ιδιαίτερα των μεγάλων δυνάμεων (Waltz, Gilpin, Mearsheimer).
Τι παρατηρούμε από την εντυπωσιακή αρθρογραφία που ακολουθεί. Πρώτον, ότι τα φιλελεύθερα καθεστώτα αντί εκπλήρωσης των διακηρύξεων και δημοκρατίας συνεχίζουν να αντιμετωπίζουν τα υπόλοιπα έθνη ως περίπου Ιθαγενείς που θα πλήξουν και πειθαρχήσουν. Δεύτερον, νεφελοβατούν ότι σε ένα κόσμο πολλών μεγάλων δυνάμεων και των κοινωνιών άλλων εθνών που είναι καζάνια που κοχλάζουν, θα γίνουν αυτοκρατορία. Η άποψή μας είναι ότι τα δυτικά κράτη και οι πολιτικοί τους στοχαστές μαζί και οι πολιτικοί τους ηγέτες δεν κατανοούν ότι οι εξομοιωτικές ιδεολογίες του 18 και 19 αιώνα δεν υπάρχουν πλέον ως σοβαρό ζήτημα προς συζήτηση. Βέβαια, όπως σημειώνει ο Edward H. Carr στο H εικοσαετής κρίση 1919-1939 (Εκδόσεις Ποιότητα) (σελίδα facebook) στην ιστορία τα οικουμενικίστικα δόγματα ήταν πάντα μεταμφίεση ισχύος των εκάστοτε ηγεμονικών δυνάμεων. Εδώ λοιπόν στην μετάβαση που μάλλον θα διαρκέσει πολλές δεκαετίες οι δυτικές στρατηγικές είναι προγραμματικά αποτυχημένες εάν δεν κατανοήσουν δύο πράγματα. Πρώτον, ότι η ισορροπία και η συνετή διπλωματία (Morgenthau) είναι προϋπόθεση σταθερότητας. Δεύτερον, δεν υπάρχουν εξομοιωμένες διεθνείς δομές γιατί είναι ανέφικτες. Μόνο μετά-κρατοκεντρικές δομές θα μπορούσαν να υπάρξουν μελλοντικά και αυτές υπό ορισμένες συγκεκριμένες κοσμοσυστημικές προϋποθέσεις σε περιφερειακό ή πλανητικό επίπεδο. Αυτό όμως είναι πολύ μεγάλο ζήτημα για το οποίο θα επανέλθουμε.
Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown
Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements
A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term «warfighter-relevant insights» for senior officials and decision makers in «the defense policy community,» and to inform policy implemented by «combatant commands.»
Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities «to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.»
Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model «of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.» The project will determine «the critical mass (tipping point)» of social contagians by studying their «digital traces» in the cases of «the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.»
Twitter posts and conversations will be examined «to identify individuals mobilised in a social contagion and when they become mobilised.»
Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington «seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,» along with their «characteristics and consequences.» The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on «large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,» and will cover 58 countries in total.
Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with «supporters of political violence» who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on «armed militancy» themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:
«In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.»
The project’s 14 case studies each «involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.»
I contacted the project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School, asking why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which «parties and NGOs» were being investigated – but received no response.
Similarly, Minerva programme staff refused to answer a series of similar questions I put to them, including asking how «radical causes» promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.
Among my questions, I asked:
«Does the US Department of Defense see protestmovements and social activism in different parts of the world as a threat to US national security? If so, why? Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why? Activism, protest, ‘political movements’ and of course NGOs are a vital element of a healthy civil society and democracy – why is it that the DoD is funding research to investigate such issues?»
Minerva’s programme director Dr Erin Fitzgerald said «I appreciate your concerns and am glad that you reached out to give us the opportunity to clarify» before promising a more detailed response. Instead, I received the following bland statement from the DoD’s press office:
«The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners. While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.»
In 2013, Minerva funded a University of Maryland project in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gauge the risk of civil unrest due to climate change. Thethree-year $1.9 million project is developing models to anticipate what could happen to societies under a range of potential climate change scenarios.
From the outset, the Minerva programme was slated to provide over $75 million over five years for social and behavioural science research. This year alone it has been allocated a total budget of $17.8 million by US Congress.
An internal Minerva staff email communication referenced in a 2012 Masters dissertation reveals that the programme is geared toward producing quick results that are directly applicable to field operations. The dissertation was part of a Minerva-funded project on «counter-radical Muslim discourse» at Arizona State University.
The internal email from Prof Steve Corman, a principal investigator for the project, describes a meeting hosted by the DoD’s Human Social Cultural and Behavioural Modeling (HSCB) programme in which senior Pentagon officials said their priority was «to develop capabilities that are deliverable quickly» in the form of «models and tools that can be integrated with operations.»
Although Office of Naval Research supervisor Dr Harold Hawkins had assured the university researchers at the outset that the project was merely «a basic research effort, so we shouldn’t be concerned about doing applied stuff», the meeting in fact showed that DoD is looking to «feed results» into «applications,» Corman said in the email. He advised his researchers to «think about shaping results, reports, etc., so they [DoD] can clearly see their application for tools that can be taken to the field.»
Many independent scholars are critical of what they see as the US government’s efforts to militarise social science in the service of war. In May 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) wrote to the US government noting that the Pentagon lacks «the kind of infrastructure for evaluating anthropological [and other social science] research» in a way that involves «rigorous, balanced and objective peer review», calling for such research to be managed instead by civilian agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The following month, the DoD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NSF to cooperate on the management of Minerva. In response, the AAA cautioned that although research proposals would now be evaluated by NSF’s merit-review panels. «Pentagon officials will have decision-making power in deciding who sits on the panels»:
«… there remain concerns within the discipline that research will only be funded when it supports the Pentagon’s agenda. Other critics of the programme, including the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, have raised concerns that the programme would discourage research in other important areas and undermine the role of the university as a place for independent discussion and critique of the military.»
According to Prof David Price, a cultural anthropologist at St Martin’s University in Washington DC and author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State, «when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science, textual analysis, historical research, and so on, but when you added these bits up they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minerva is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.»
Prof Price has previously exposed how the Pentagon’s Human Terrain Systems (HTS) programme – designed to embed social scientists in military field operations – routinely conducted training scenarios set in regions «within the United States.»
Citing a summary critique of the programme sent to HTS directors by a former employee, Price reported that the HTS training scenarios «adapted COIN [counterinsurgency] for Afghanistan/Iraq» to domestic situations «in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.»
One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club. Participants were tasked to «identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.»
Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) masssurveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.
James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with Price’s concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the «study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,» he said, including how «to counteract grassroots movements.»
Minerva is a prime example of the deeply narrow-minded and self-defeating nature of military ideology. Worse still, the unwillingness of DoD officials to answer the most basic questions is symptomatic of a simple fact – in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed.
TGIF: WE WERE WARNED ABOUT THE RISE OF EMPIRE
by Sheldon RichmanJune 13, 2014
American critics of U.S. foreign policy (as well as some neoconservative supporters) often refer to the United States as an empire. This is not an emotional outburst but a substantive description of the national government’s role in the world. But what exactly is an empire? This question is all the more relevant today with Iraq is being consumed by sectarian violence and calls for renewed U.S. intervention here are increasingly louder.
In 1952 the journalist and novelist Garet Garrett (1878–1954) took up this question in contemplating post-World War II America. The resulting essay, “The Rise of Empire,” is included in his anthology, The People’s Pottage (PDF). It bears close study today.
Garrett was an important figure in what has come to be known as the “Old Right,” an eclectic group of writers and politicians (mostly Republican) who emerged in the 1930s to oppose militarism and the centralization of power under the New Deal. (For a history of the Old Right, see my “New Deal Nemesis: The ‘Old Right’ Jeffersonians” [PDF].)
Garrett began with this somber message:
We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire. If you ask when, the answer is that you cannot make a single stroke between day and night; the precise moment does not matter. There was no painted sign to say: “You now are entering Imperium.” Yet it was a very old road and the voice of history was saying: “Whether you know it or not, the act of crossing may be irreversible.” And now, not far ahead, is a sign that reads: “No U-turns.”
If you say there were no frightening omens, that is true. The political foundations did not quake, the graves of the fathers did not fly open, the Constitution did not tear itself up. If you say people did not will it, that also is true. But if you say therefore it has not happened, then you have been so long bemused by words that your mind does not believe what the eye can see, even as in the jungle the terrified primitive, on meeting the lion, importunes magic by saying to himself, “He is not there.”
(For evidence that the American empire is older than Garrett thought, see my “Empire on Their Minds.”)
The country’s institutions may look the same, Garrett wrote, but a “revolution within the form” has occurred:
There is no comfort in history for those who put their faith in forms; who think there is safeguard in words inscribed on parchment, preserved in a glass case, reproduced in facsimile and hauled to and fro on a Freedom Train.
Garrett next proceeded to carefully isolate the characteristics of empire. After examining Rome’s transition from republic to empire, he wondered,
If you may have Empire with or without a constitution, even within the form of a republican constitution, and if also you may have Empire with or without an emperor, then how may the true marks of Empire be distinguished with certainty? What are they?
Republics, he said, can make war, conquer territory, and even acquire colonies, depending on how one defines the term, so “let us regard the things that belong only to empire, and set them down. Then we shall see.”
He came up with five traits:
(1) Rise of the executive principle of government to a position of dominant power,
(2) Accommodation of domestic policy to foreign policy,
(3) Ascendancy of the military mind,
(4) A system of satellite nations for a purpose called collective security, and,
(5) An emotional complex of vaunting and fear.
It’s easy to see how closely this fits the United States today. For a long time, the executive branch has been the dominant branch of government. For example, as Garrett noted, the war power has moved entirely into the hands of the president, despite the Constitution’s language and Congress’s half-hearted attempt to hold on to some power with the War Powers Resolution. Since the Korean War, it’s the president who decides when the country goes to war. (Even when Barack Obama tossed the question of bombing Syria to Congress last year, he and others maintained that he had the unilateral power to act if he wanted to.) During the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, lawyers inside and outside the government spun broad theories of autocratic executive authority over national security based entirely on the apparently thin Article II of the Constitution.
Garrett wrote that the “aggrandizement of the executive principle of government” occurred by congressional delegation, reinterpretation of the language of the Constitution, innovation, the appearance of administrative agencies, usurpation, and increasing involvement in foreign affairs. This last is especially relevant, because the executive can always assert that foreign policy cannot be made by 535 members of Congress.
The subordination of domestic policy to foreign policy is accomplished by claiming that without national security, nothing else matters. So domestic concerns must take a back seat to foreign affairs. The national-security establishment’s sheer demand for goods and services — which produces the military-industrial complex — diverts the economy from serving consumers to serving the state. As long as the president can keep the people in fear of foreign enemies, he can justify the transfer of resources from the private sector to the government sector. It is too easy for the executive to answer any challenge by playing the “I know things that you don’t know” card. As Garrett wrote,
It needs hardly to be argued that as we convert the nation into a garrison state to build the most terrible war machine that has ever been imagined on earth, every domestic policy is bound to be conditioned by our foreign policy.
One need only look around to see evidence of the “ascendancy of the military mind.” Not even a looming fiscal crisis prompts a serious reconsideration of America’s far-flung military presence or its putative “interests” everywhere. Reverence for the military intrudes on everyday life; one cannot watch a ballgame or even a televised cooking competition without being subjected to sappy expressions of gratitude for supposed “service to our country.” Americans did not always have a worshipful disposition toward the military.
As in Garrett’s time, satellite nations are today called “allies.” Americans are not only obliged to cough up billions of dollars each year in armaments and cash to support those alliances, they also must be prepared to go to war to defend countries throughout the world. In his recent speech at West Point, Obama included the defense of allies in his definition of America’s “core interests.” Thus the American people are on call should most of Europe up to the Russian border, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and other nations find themselves threatened — even if their own conduct provoked the alleged threat.
Garrett’s phrase “an emotional complex of vaunting and fear” couldn’t better apply to today’s America. Government officials beat their chests in describing how powerful, exceptional, and indispensable America is for the world. No one, they say, can challenge America’s dominance and leadership in the world. Yet at the same time they advise Americans to fear Islamic terrorism, China, Russia, Latin American drug lords, and sundry other threats. That’s vaunting and fear.
Finally, Garrett made a point that is entirely relevant today: “a time comes when Empire finds itself — a prisoner of history.” A republic, Garrett wrote, can determine its own history. “But the history of Empire is world history and belongs to many people.”
We’ve all heard presidents say that America’s responsibilities to the world have been thrust upon it and cannot be avoided. It is not a matter of choice. That’s the doctrine which Garrett had in mind:
What is it that now obliges the American people to act upon the world?
As you ask that question the fear theme plays itself down and the one that takes its place is magnifical. It is not only our security we are thinking of — our security in a frame of collective security. Beyond that lies a greater thought.
It is our turn.
Our turn to do what? you may ask. Garrett nails the political establishment’s reply, which is calculated to awe Americans into blind compliance:
Our turn to assume the responsibilities or moral leadership in the world.
Our turn to maintain a balance of power against the forces of evil everywhere — in Europe and Asia and Africa, in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, by air and by sea — evil in this case being the Russian barbarian. [This is especially pertinent now.]
Our turn to keep the peace of the world.
Our turn to save civilization.
Our turn to serve mankind.
But this is the language of Empire.
We’re told, however, that American empire is unique because it is dedicated to freedom and peace. This claim cannot withstand scrutiny: look at the regimes American administrations have supported and support today. But Garrett said that even if this claim were granted, the case for empire would be self-defeating because its price is bankruptcy.
So even if “this is Imperialism of the Good Intent,” he wrote, it would also have to be the “Empire of the Bottomless Purse.”