Pentagon plans new wars

By Sam Marcy (Feb. 27, 1992)

The Pentagon has developed a detailed military plan for the post-cold war era. What purports to be an unauthorized summary of classified documents that elaborate the plan was published in the New York Times on Feb. 17.

It is, without an iota of exaggeration, a military plan for world domination. Its drafters had the temerity to design seven "scenarios" that list specific targets of attack.

Of course, all this is veiled in defensive terminology, the kind of thieves' language that might be called Pentagonese. But the excuses are so threadbare that anyone with the least knowledge of the world situation today should have little trouble seeing this for what it really is — a master plan for overall world dominion.

More brazen than the Nazis

After the Nazis came to power in Germany, but before they resorted to their blitzkrieg war strategy, there was no one in either Goebbels' propaganda machine or the Wehrmacht — the army, which retained a certain amount of conservatism and aloofness from the Nazis — who would go to the extent of actually issuing a forecast of their plans for world dominion.

Compare that to the situation now, in the so-called post-cold war period. The USSR is in the throes of counterrevolutionary transformation; U.S. economists, technicians and military strategists have already ensconced themselves in strategic areas there, including the nuclear field. They are stretching their tentacles to the gas and oil resources. The USSR has become a chief supplicant for any and all kinds of emergency aid. Yet what do you see?

The Pentagon in its scenario of war preparations has listed Russia — not the USSR, mind you, but Russia — as a target for U.S. attack. Of course, in its scenario, first Russia attacks Lithuania and Poland, with help from Belarus.

This follows the line of thinking laid out years ago by Robert Gates, before he became the current director of the CIA. He cast old Russia as a principal enemy of the U.S. In his view, the enemy wasn't just the Soviet Union, which was regarded as a superpower, but Russia — regardless of its social or political system.

Keeping their coffers full

To prepare for scenarios like this and the wars of the 1990s, the Pentagon is asking new hundreds of billions of dollars.

It is not so astonishing that this plan has generated no more than a mouselike whisper from the Congress. With all the presidential electioneering that is going on and the coming congressional elections, who is going to contest it in a substantial way?

Not without reason did a second New York Times article, this one on Feb. 18, evaluate the reaction on Capitol Hill as follows: "In an election year and with the economy still sour in many states [a euphemism for the deepening capitalist economic crisis], it may be that the Pentagon's scenarios will be judged to be quite believable, even too conservative."

In other words, the sky's the limit for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex.

Most of the targets listed by the Pentagon should come as no surprise to anyone: Iraq, north Korea, Panama, the Philippines. They are based on such Pentagonese predictions as Iraq invading Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; north Korea attacking south Korea (even though both are now engaged in unprecedented negotiations); simultaneous invasions by Iraq and north Korea; a coup in the Philippines that threatens 5,000 Americans there.

Then, in line with Gates' "new thinking," there's the one where the Russians invade Lithuania and Poland with help from Belarus.

There's also this one: "a new expansionist superpower emerges in the nineties." It's left open who that could be, but it is seen as a warning to Japan, Germany and a revived revolutionary USSR.

Iraq as `military superpower'

Pumping up Iraq into a great "regional superpower" that threatens the peace of the world has been an endless theme of imperialist propaganda since the Pentagon decided to launch all-out war in the Gulf. Now this fantasy is being resurrected again, even while this small Middle Eastern country is still struggling to survive the destruction of its entire military and economic structure at the hands of the combined imperialist forces.

And now the U.S. and its imperialist allies, using the UN as a cover, are planning to literally carve up Iraq. Astonishing as this may seem to those who have been led to regard Iraq as an aggressive, expanding power, the imperialists themselves are now proposing to "re-draw" the border between Iraq and Kuwait.

Two stories in the Feb. 19 Financial Times minced no words and made it clear. According to one: "The new border will anger Baghdad for a number of reasons. It will deprive Iraq of portions of the Rumailah oil field." There are other changes that are described in some detail in another article in the Financial Times, which shows how far and deep this plan goes. It is certain to arouse the broadest public anger among the Iraqi people.

This whole business of re-drawing the map of Iraq under the auspices of a UN commission cannot but be viewed with the greatest concern by all the Middle Eastern countries. It sets a precedent for re-drawing the maps of other countries as well.

It fits neatly, however, into the image of the oil-producing countries, cultivated for nearly two decades. Especially after the formation of OPEC, they have been depicted as "holding the West hostage" with their control of oil. Stuart Eizenstadt, an assistant on energy policy to President Jimmy Carter, once accused OPEC of "holding a razor" to the throats of the Western countries. Frightening scenarios were drawn where the Arab countries bankrupted the West by withdrawing their petrodollars from the imperialist banks.

But again, it was all a reactionary fantasy. OPEC or no OPEC, pumping, refining and marketing oil was really under the control of the "Seven Sisters": Exxon, Shell, British Petroleum, Gulf, Texaco, Mobil and Chevron. And the imperialist banks ultimately controlled the petrodollars. When a political upheaval occurs in an OPEC country that is judged dangerous to the interests of imperialism, as happened in Iran, the imperialist banks immediately freeze that country's assets.

It is the imperialists that hold much more than a knife to the throat of the Third World countries, not the other way around. For the Pentagon to leak the details of a new war scenario against Iraq is just confirms this again.

The Panama scenario

Consider another Pentagon scenario: a coup in Panama that gravely endangers U.S. and world access to the Panama Canal.

The U.S. kidnapped the leader of Panama, has kept him in jail for more than two years, and has now put him on trial in a foreign country. That is only one measure of what a "threat" Panama is to the U.S. military, banks, monopolies and so on.

Since the invasion two years ago, the U.S. runs every aspect of life in Panama. The blood that drenched the country is still not dry. What a fantastic imagination it takes to create a cast of characters with the desire and the political and military capacity to close the canal.

There is not a scintilla of evidence that anyone in Panama would even remotely think of seizing the canal, let alone close it. Ever since the canal was built, it's been the only source of income that any Panamanian government could rely on.

So why would anybody want to close it? This requires some explanation, even for the gullible. The fantasy at which the Pentagon arrives is "an alliance of right-wing elements of the national police force with former drug-dealing Panamanian Defense Force leaders who have connections to narco-terrorist elements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia." This combination of forces is supposed to have such great military strength that they will not only seize the canal but will threaten to close it.

It is necessary to dissect this mishmash of utterly senseless combinations that lack any kind of realism.

First of all, the right-wing elements of the national police force are supported lock, stock and barrel by the U.S. government. It put them into power. It pays them. Panama has no national currency of its own. Without the U.S. paymaster, the government installed by the U.S. military has no means of income.

So these people are a great danger? These few thousand at most who depend on military hardware supplied by the U.S. that is meant to be used against the population?

The right-wing police forces are the most servile puppets of the U.S. Yet supposedly they will form an alliance with "former drug-dealing Panamanian Defense Force leaders." Weren't they all supposed to have been jailed and deprived of arms and financial support? They are certainly not supported by the native bourgeois elements, who are now strictly allied with U.S. imperialism. Who else in Panama would support them? Not the workers or peasants.

Yet they are said to "have connections to narco-terrorist elements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia."

Such an utterly fantastic, obtuse amalgam could never be composed by anybody with a modicum of common sense or any "decent respect," as it says in the Declaration of Independence, "to the opinions of mankind." Who is going to believe all this?

The one truthful phrase is that there is a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. For many years it has been under constant and unremitting military attack by the Pentagon, which aims to exterminate every voice of opposition to domination by U.S. imperialism, whether in Colombia or anywhere else.

There is virtually no group in all Latin America that has advocated closing the canal as a challenge to U.S. imperialism. Of course, there have been challenges to the ownership and control of the canal. These became so broad in scope that the Carter administration signed, sealed and delivered two treaties to hand over the operation and control of the canal to Panama by 1999. Since the invasion, these treaties have quietly been watered down.

But that doesn't mean closing the canal. All Panama or Colombia have ever wanted is to get rid of the domination and control by U.S. imperialism and its military colossus.

Of course, the Panamanians do have a right to close the canal. But having that right and deliberately doing it to provoke the U.S. are two different matters. The latter is a fantasy drawn up by Pentagon planners.

The canal itself was built by the sweat and blood of thousands of Panamanians, Colombians and other Latin Americans who died in the course of its construction. The canal is as much a part of Latin America as the St. Lawrence Seaway is a part of North America. Will the bogus right-wing elements in Panama next be dished up as laying claim to the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Reviving the old hysteria

The Pentagon is trying to revive the hysterical fears it manipulated during the days of the cold war, when it projected the destruction of the canal by "the enemy" — that being of course the USSR. How many times did the Pentagon draw on supposed sightings of hostile submarines around the Canal Zone to scare public opinion in the U.S. and of course to strengthen military and political control in Panama, Colombia and the canal area itself?

They never proved there were any Soviet anti-naval forces in the vicinity, let alone submarines. But protecting the canal proved an effective alibi to shore up defense expenditures. Now, with the USSR and its military apparatus being dismantled, another "enemy" must be found to challenge control of the canal. But it's all pure fiction. Only the most gullible, or most timid, in Congress would buy such a scenario.

There is another aspect to this farce. According to the doomsday scenarios concocted by the Pentagon, closing a waterway like the Panama — or Suez — Canal to maritime traffic raises the specter that all commerce will begin to stagnate, industry will decline and world trade will be choked off. The inference is that civilization and life itself would be threatened if the canal were closed.

The truth, however, is that such a development was anticipated long ago. The world ship-building industry has now developed enormous supertankers that can circle the globe. Some are even too big for the canals, and more are in the planning stage.

Thus, closing the canal, while it might create obstacles in the way of commerce, would be overcome within time. This is what happened when the Suez Canal was closed for a period of time.

A broad historical view on the closing of waterways reveals that while it may have an initial effect of stifling commerce and industry, this eventually becomes a force for developing the productive forces, which goes far beyond overcoming the initial stagnation.

Some historians believe Columbus sought a new route to India because Turkey, after conquering Constantinople, closed off the Dardanelles waterway leading to the overland routes. If so, what began as a depressant to commercial intercourse actually became a stimulus.

Unspoken threat to Cuba and China

The whole purpose of putting in a scenario about Panama is not just to threaten Panama itself. Anyone who has been observing the Caribbean situation must of course know the real target is Cuba. Naming Cuba in this context would have tended to create alarm, not just in the progressive communities but throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. It would have refocused the attention of the progressive and anti-imperialist movements.

More than ever is it necessary to strengthen support for the Cuban Revolution and not be lulled to sleep by the apparent omission of Cuba from this list of U.S. plans for world domination.

In a similar vein, the scenario about Korea contains within it a renewal of the long-time threat by the U.S. to undermine and destroy the Peoples Republic of China.

When Secretary of State James Baker went to Beijing last year, he carried with him a threat to unleash a campaign to dismember China. New York Times columnist Leslie Gelb at the time kindly pointed out to the Chinese leaders, in case they had missed it, the significance of a phrase in an article Baker had written in the summer of 1991 for Foreign Affairs magazine. He said the enormous foreign investment in China's coastal provinces might spur them to break away from Chinese government control. It was certainly not just an idle observation, coming from the U.S. Secretary of State.

All of this should be sufficient warning to the anti-imperialist movement. What lies ahead is not a peaceful post-war idyll but a period of heightened aggression that can only be countered by organizing mass opposition to the imperialist monopolies and their military juggernaut.

Last updated: 21 January 2018