Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 1: Cold War: Fact and Fancy Segment 7/20
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Other Soviet proposals were also left unexplored. Raymond Garthoff, formerly a senior analyst of the CIA and an outstanding specialist on security affairs and foreign policy, observes that Gorbachev's announcement of unilateral force reduction "had an interesting precedent some thirty years ago," when, "in January 1960, Nikita Khrushchev disclosed for the first time since World War II the manpower strength of the Soviet armed forces, and dramatically announced a planned reduction by one-third over the next two years." A few months later, U.S. intelligence verified huge cuts in active Soviet military forces. The tactical air force was cut in half, "mainly through a wholesale two-thirds reduction in light-bomber units"; and naval air fighter-interceptors, about 1500 aircraft, were removed from the Navy, half of them scrapped and the rest turned over to air defense to replace dismantled planes. By 1961, nearly half the announced reduction of manpower had taken place. In 1963, Khrushchev again called for new reductions. According to military correspondent Fred Kaplan, he also withdrew more than 15,000 troops from East Germany, calling on the U.S. to undertake similar reductions of the military budget and in military forces in Europe and generally, and to move towards further reciprocal cuts. Declassified documents reveal that President Kennedy privately discussed such possibilities with high Soviet officials, but abandoned them as the U.S. intervention in Vietnam expanded in scale. William Kaufmann, a former top Pentagon aide and leading analyst of security issues, describes the U.S. failure to respond to Khrushchev's initiatives as, in career terms, "the one regret I have."25

In the mid-1970s, Soviet military spending began to level off, as later conceded, while the U.S. lead in strategic bombs and warheads widened through the decade. President Carter proposed a substantial increase in military spending and a cutback on social programs. These proposals were implemented by the Reagan administration, along with the standard concomitant, increased militancy abroad, and on the standard pretext: the Soviet threat, in this case, a "window of vulnerability" and Soviet triumphs in the Third World. The latter were even more fraudulent than the awesome Soviet military build-up. Insofar as the relics of the Portuguese and French empires fell under Russian influence in the mid-1970s, it was largely because the U.S. refused to enter into amicable relations with them on the -- always unacceptable -- condition of neutralism and independence; the same was true in Latin America and elsewhere. Furthermore, these Soviet triumphs were laughable in scale, more a burden than a gain in global power, facts that were obvious at the time and conceded within a few years when the pretexts were no longer appropriate for current plans. Gorbachev's proposals in 1985-6 for a unilateral ban on nuclear weapons tests, the abolition of the Warsaw Pact and NATO, removal of the U.S. and Soviet fleets from the Mediterranean, and other steps to reduce confrontation and tension were ignored or dismissed as an embarrassment. The virtual or sometimes complete international isolation of the United States on disarmament issues has also been regularly suppressed, even at moments of great celebration over alleged U.S. triumphs in this cause.26

Turning to the superpower conflict itself, it is true enough that by its very nature, the USSR constituted an unacceptable challenge. Specifically, its autarkic command economy interfered with U.S. plans to construct a global system based on (relatively) free trade and investment, which, under the conditions of mid-century, was expected to be dominated by U.S. corporations and highly beneficial to their interests, as indeed it was. The challenge became still more intolerable as the Soviet empire barred free Western access to other areas. The Iron Curtain deprived the capitalist industrial powers of a region that was expected to provide raw materials, investment opportunities, markets and cheap labor. These facts alone laid the basis for superpower conflict, as serious analysts were quite well aware. In an important 1955 study on the political economy of U.S. foreign policy, a prestigious study group observed that the primary threat of Communism is the economic transformation of the Communist powers "in ways that reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West," a factor that regularly motivated Third World interventions as well as hostility to the Soviet Union and its imperial system.27

It is, furthermore, quite true that the Soviet Union sought targets of opportunity where it could find them, entering into friendly and supportive relations with the most miserable tyrants and gangsters -- Mengistu in Ethiopia and the neo-Nazi Argentine generals, to name only two examples. In this regard, the Kremlin satisfied the norms of the guardians of civilization and order. But in a criminal departure from these norms, the Soviet Union regularly offered support to targets of U.S. subversion and attack, thus impeding the designs of the one truly global power. Material support helped these enemies survive, and relations with the Soviet Union imposed limits on U.S. actions, for fear of a superpower conflict from which the United States might not emerge unscathed. Such Soviet involvement is regularly condemned as intolerable Soviet interference and expansionism, even aggression, as, for example, when the contra forces attacking Nicaragua are lauded for "risking their lives to defy...[the]...Soviet-supported aggression" of the Sandinistas,28 whose incumbency is in itself an act of aggression, being counter to U.S. demands.

Lacking an internal record from the Soviet Union, we can only speculate as to whether ominous "Kremlin designs" were indeed deterred by Western military power; the available evidence is hardly compelling. The deterrent effect of Soviet power on U.S. designs is also largely a matter of speculation.29 The clearest example of the success of deterrence is provided by Cuba, where the U.S. was restricted to large-scale international terrorism instead of outright invasion after the missile crisis brought the world perilously close to nuclear war, in the judgment of the participants; understandably, this is not an example that figures prominently in the Western literature on deterrence. In both the internal and public record, new U.S. weapons systems were justified by the need to overcome the Soviet deterrent, which might "impose greater caution in our cold war policies" because of fear of nuclear war (Paul Nitze, NSC 141, 1953). As a global power, the U.S. often intervenes in regions in which it lacks a conventional force advantage. An intimidating military posture has therefore been necessary to protect such operations. Just before he became director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the Reagan administration, Eugene Rostow observed that strategic nuclear forces provide a "shield" for pursuit of U.S. "global interests" by "conventional means or theater forces"; these thereby "become meaningful instruments of military and political power," Carter Secretary of Defense Harold Brown added.30

Putting second order complexities to the side, for the USSR the Cold War has been primarily a war against its satellites, and for the U.S. a war against the Third World. For each, it has served to entrench a particular system of domestic privilege and coercion. The policies pursued within the Cold War framework have been unattractive to the general population, which accepts them only under duress. Throughout history, the standard device to mobilize a reluctant population has been the fear of an evil enemy, dedicated to its destruction. The superpower conflict served the purpose admirably, both for internal needs, as we see in the fevered rhetoric of top planning documents such as NSC 68, and in public propaganda. The Cold War had a functional utility for the superpowers, one reason why it persisted.

Now, one side has called off the game. If we have in mind the historical Cold War, not the ideological construct, then it is not true that the Cold War has ended. Rather, it has perhaps half-ended; Washington remains a player as before.

The point is not concealed. Describing the new Pentagon budget in January 1990, the press reports that "In [Defense Secretary Dick] Cheney's view, which is shared by President Bush, the United States will continue to need a large Navy [and intervention forces generally] to deal with brushfire conflicts and threats to American interests in places like Latin America and Asia." The National Security Strategy report sent to Congress two months later described the Third World as a likely locus of conflict: "In a new era, we foresee that our military power will remain an essential underpinning of the global balance, but less prominently and in different ways. We see that the more likely demands for the use of our military forces may not involve the Soviet Union and may be in the Third World, where new capabilities and approaches may be required," as "when President Reagan directed American naval and air forces to return to [Libya] in 1986" to bombard civilian urban targets, guided by the goal of "contributing to an international environment of peace, freedom and progress within which our democracy -- and other free nations -- can flourish."31

Furthermore, "The growing technological sophistication of Third World conflicts will place serious demands on our forces," and may "continue to threaten U.S. interests" even without "the backdrop of superpower competition." For such reasons, we must ensure the means to move forces based in the United States "to reinforce our units forward deployed or to project power into areas where we have no permanent presence," particularly in the Middle East, because of "the free world's reliance on energy supplies from this pivotal region," where the "threats to our interests" that have required direct military engagement "could not be laid at the Kremlin's door." "In the future, we expect that non-Soviet threats to these interests will command even greater attention." In reality, the "threat to our interests" had always been indigenous nationalism, a fact sometimes acknowledged, as when the architect of President Carter's Rapid Deployment Force (later Central Command), aimed primarily at the Middle East, testified before Congress in 1980 that its most likely use was not to resist a (highly implausible) Soviet attack, but to deal with indigenous and regional unrest, in particular, the "radical nationalism" that has always been a primary concern.32 Notice that the Bush administration plans were presented well before Iraq's conquest of Kuwait and the ensuing crisis in August 1990, in fact, at a time when Iraq was still a favored friend.

Go to the next segment.

25 Garthoff, op. cit.; Kaplan, Boston Globe, Nov. 29, 1989.

26 See references of note 23, and Towards a New Cold War, introduction, chapter 7. Strategic weapons during the 1970s discussed in Raymond L. Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation (Brookings Institution, 1985), 793. On U.S. isolation at the United Nations on disarmament and other matters, and the media treatment (i.e., evasion) of these issues, see Necessary Illusions, 82ff. and chapter 3, section 4, below.

27 William Yandell Elliot, ed., The Political Economy of American Foreign Policy (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1955), 42. For further discussion of this important and generally ignored study, see my At War with Asia (Pantheon, 1970), introduction.

28 See p. 18, above.

29 For a skeptical assessment, see Schwartz and Derber, Nuclear Delusion.

30 See On Power and Ideology, 105. Nitze's specific proposal was for a civil defense system, which would reduce the concern over Soviet retaliation. This being completely unfeasible, the only alternative is more lethal weaponry. The "strategic" case for SDI was similar.

31 Michael Gordon, NYT, Jan. 31; National Security Strategy of the United States, the White House, March 1990. On the attack against Libya and the media cover-up, see Pirates and Emperors, chapter 3; Necessary Illusions, 272-3; William Schaap, Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1988. Note that the question at issue is how the media dealt with the information at hand in the context of the demands of the state, and is thus quite independent of whatever the facts turn out to be, if they are ever credibly established. For relevant background, see Stephen Shalom, Z magazine, April, June, 1990.

32 Testimony of Robert Komer to the Senate Armed Services Committee, cited by Melvyn Leffler, "From the Truman Doctrine to the Carter Doctrine," Diplomatic History, vol. 7, 1983, 245f. See Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle, for further discussion. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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