Defense Secretary Robert Gates (pictured left) is urging Congress to approve the Obama administration's $768.2 billion Pentagon budget request, saying America needs "a broad portfolio of military capabilities." Gates joined Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in outlining fiscal 2011 budget proposals to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gates said the United States must "prepare for a much broader range of security challenges on the horizon." He said a continuing threat of terrorism from "nonstate groups," is among the challenges. And Gates added that such 21st century threats "transcend the familiar contingencies that dominated U.S. planning after the Cold War." He said the proposed budget justifiably exempts defense from spending freezes President Barack Obama is seeking for other government agencies and activities. – Washington Post
Dominant Social Theme: Sadly, the new Cold War is upon us.
Free-Market Analysis: Wow, this is news. Maybe Gates has said this before, but we're not aware of it, or not like this. His speech seems to be positioning nonstate terrorism as a definitive fulcrum of a new cold war. That's some budget request!
But let us begin at the beginning – especially as we have already analyzed the dominant social theme of terrorism in several recent articles. You can see the Daily Bell analysis here, at the end of the Simon interview, click here.
In fact it is a kind of twofer.
First there is the "uniqueness of state military protection" – one of the longest-lived and most pernicious dominant social themes in the arsenal of the powers-that-be. It makes use of humankind's instinct, millions of years old, to band together to defend against the "other." In fact, it is a tribal instinct that was most useful when there were fewer humans and more lions and tigers. Today, all over the world, especially in the West, power elites (in our opinion) do whatever it takes to frighten their OWN populations in order to provide the necessary military and policing services that then justify their services, privileges and powers.
Then there is the meme of nonstate terrorism – that "terrorism can strike from anywhere." Starting with the "anarchist" promotion of the early 20th century, Western elites have been busily inculcating the meme that terror is entirely unpredictable and that sustained campaigns of violence can be initiated and carried forth by a few dedicated individuals.
For a long time, Israel served as a good example of this promotion. Shadowy bands of terrorists were reported attacking Israeli citizens on a regular basis, yet one was never really given to understand how these terrorists banded together, where they came from or how they received their support. Israel seemed to be afflicted by modern terrorism – by a peculiar aspect of modernity, the "stateless terrorist."
And now here is Gates speaking of a …
"CONTINUING THREAT OF TERRORISM FROM ‘NONSTATE GROUPS … [THAT] "TRANSCENDS THE FAMILIAR CONTINGENCIES THAT DOMINATED U.S. PLANNING AFTER THE COLD WAR."'
Do you see? Here is the BIFURCATED meme in its all its glory being trotted out. This is a historical moment folks. You are in on the ground floor. You are looking at liftoff. Right now, just this minute, Gates has declared a NEW GLOBAL COLD WAR. That's right – he's saying that the DANGER posed by the stateless terrorist "transcends" the threats, and therefore the contingencies or solutions, generated by Pentagon Cold War planning. And that the danger of the stateless terrorist is even bigger than the threat of the Soviet Union (and to a lesser extent China), which spawned the last cold war.
From our point of view (humble as it is) this is THE MOTHER OF ALL PROMOTIONS. In fact, a terrorist without a state is as much of a danger, long term, as a toaster without power, a flashlight without a battery or an agenda of religious violence without state backing. We have come to believe this because we are students of free-market economics. Absent the coercion of the state, there is competition – and people are free to choose whether or not to support a "terrorist."
A group of terrorists banding together will likely always seek to live off what the local populace can provide (and almost inevitably, therefore, they will have to be domestically acculturated – not from somewhere else). If the local populace (representing a kind of statist entity itself) does not wish to support the "terrorists" in their midst, the likelihood of the terrorist movement succeeding is slim, long term. (Certainly they're not going to be in a position to project their agendas worldwide with any ease.) Not only that, but the larger, established government is likely to come to the aid of the citizens that are being oppressed by the terrorists. Absent the support of citizens and attacked by the larger government, the terrorist movement will either disband or seek a more supportive environment.
This is how we know that Al Qaeda is a myth as well – a kind of phantasmagoria. The idea that Bin Laden is leading a band of stateless terrorists from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq to Yemen, etc. is economically unfeasible. And in fact if one peers behind the curtain, the allegations of Al Qaeda fade away. Turns out that the stateless terrorist is actually a Pashtun, an Iranian, Pakistani, etc. In fact, the Bin Laden sleeper cells in America and Britain never materialized. His fabulous Afghan mountain fortresses never turned up. His broadcasts are likely faked (as he is probably dead). The "fighters" that were filmed with him prior to 9/11 – according to the BBC – were hired day-to-day and told to bring their weapons. There is little doubt that Bin Laden and others around him were at one point CIA assets, trained and aimed at the Russians who were then invading Afghanistan.
It is most unfortunate that when one looks closely at many strands of the terror meme that Gates is seeking to promote, one finds in too many instances the fine hand of Anglo-American intel involvement. It is true that the appearance of stateless terrorism can be enhanced by third party funding. (Then terrorists don't have to depend on the host state or local populace for supplies, etc.) But free-floating, endless, nonstate (stateless) terrorism, unfunded and illogically destructive, is not economically feasible, let alone sensible. It is a fairytale, a Hollywood movie. It is a lie. There is always the backing of some sort of state or a significant number of citizens within a state when it comes to terrorism. And if people are going to blow themselves up, they usually have a damn good reason. No one straps on a bomb just to make a loud noise. Gates can proclaim a new cold war based on nonstate terrorism, but that doesn't make it so.