One of the lessons that the US "hawks" learned after the defeat suffered in Vietnam is that the control of the internal front — that is to say, the orientation of public opinion in the home country — could be as decisive as is the military force deployed in the theatre of war. Hence we have seen the U.S. cultural industry, in the aftermath of Vietnam, dedicating itself — with honourable though marginal exceptions — to "re-educating" the population to consider the wars of rape and pillage conducted by the Empire as heroic crusades destined to persecute monstrous terrorists, support the primacy of the fundamental values of western "civilization" (democracy, human rights, justice and of course free markets) and guarantee US national security in the face of such vile enemies. One of the components of this moral disarmament — reverse dialectic of military rearmament — has been the stifling of public conscience.
This is expressed, for example, in the intense propaganda employed to defend the use of torture as a normal procedure, the only efficacious recourse to preserve the lives and property of hundreds of thousands of honest US citizens in the face of the criminal designs of the terrorists. Countless television series, movies, radio programmes and graphic media have taken on the task of inducing this poison into the US population, with perverse and meticulous care. Lamentably, the increasingly conservative US academia has not stayed behind in this unworthy project.
Cleary this massive and persistent brainwashing is not limited to justifying torture. The project is much bigger than that: it is a question of "formatting" public awareness in order to create a credible epic narrative according to which God has entrusted to the US nation the fulfillment of a virtuous "Manifest Destiny" of universal scope. In the face of this destiny, any expression of dissent comes close to treason or apostasy. The conquest of this happy outcome is not easy: it demands sacrifices and the acceptance of painful reality, such as torture and "collateral damage" that are inevitable in any war. But recently the emphasis of the propaganda campaign has been concentrated on the ethical correctness and the legality of selective assassination against the enemies of the system, whose names appear on a fearsome list approved by the White House. The fundamental instrument of this criminal plan is unmanned aircraft: the drones.
The efficacy of this process of moral desensitization has been remarkable. As Nick Turse, one of the most recognized specialists on military matters in the United States observes, this is the only country in which a majority of the population (56%) is openly in favour of sending drones anywhere on earth in order to capture or annihilate terrorists. One of the latest surveys done by Pew Research in March of this year notes that 68 per cent of Republican sympathizers or voters are in agreement with this criminal practice, even as it is shared by 58 per cent of Democrats and 50 per cent of independents. In no other country in the world are such sentiments present. The international survey of Pew Research shows that in France 63 per cent disapprove of the utilization of drones, 59 per cent in Germany and, outside of Europe, 73 per cent in Mexico, 81 per cent in Turkey, 89 per cent in Egypt while in Pakistan, where the criminal deployment of these drones is a daily affair, a predictable 97 per cent of those surveyed condemn the employment of this deadly instrument (1).
Nonetheless, in spite of this generalized rejection outside of the United States, the terrorist operations with unmanned aircraft increased exponentially during the mandate of the unlikely Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama. This presidential option is so strong that at the present time the U.S. Air Force is training more drone pilots than conventional pilots that form the crews of bombing and fighter planes. All this is a sign of the virulence of the imperialist counteroffensive, the facts of which put the lie to the humanist discourse of Obama and the morality of his national and international efforts to manipulate people’s consciences.
The media present the president as a good man, even though, as the Brechtianly indispensible Noam Chomsky affirms, he is just another serial assassin in the line of those who have occupied the White House in recent decades. One fact is enough to prove him guilty: according to a report of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for every "terrorist" eliminated by drone attacks, 49 innocent civilians die. This without analyzing what the U.S. government understands by "terrorist." Nothing of this appears in the hegemonic press in the United States or its overseas followers.
The unexpected decision of the Colombian government to join NATO, or at least to sign various cooperation agreements with this international terrorist organization, can only be understood in the context of changes brought about in the doctrine and military strategy of the United States. Turse points out that the military operations carried out by this country at the present time in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America have six distinctive components, which were designed to dissimulate or cover up the magnitude of the warlike force unleashed by Washington and, in passing, to deny responsibility for the committing of innumerable war crimes that could bring those responsible before the International Criminal Court (2).
These six elements are the following:
(a) strengthening special operation forces, such as the Seals, who were involved in killing someone who, according to them, was Osama bin Laden.
(b) the already mentioned expansion of drone operations, to undertake selective assassinations of "terrorists" or of persons annoying to the United States.
(c) the intensification of espionage, something that has become public in a scandalous way in recent days;
(d) the election and promotion of "civil associates" who favour imperial projects, under the disguise of "empowering" civil society — NGOs, NED and USAID channeling millions of dollars to finance groups opposed to Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Nicolas Maduro — and the training of social and political leaders such as Henrique Capriles, for example.
(e) cyberwars and, finally
(f) recruitment of proxy combat forces, that is to say, in countries whose governments carry out operations that the White House does not want to take on in an open and public manner.
Of these six facets of new generation warfare, it is the last one that has almost escaped notice: the training and deployment of proxy military forces, mobilized to attack targets that are enemies of the United States but that Washington does not think convenient or opportune to attack directly with its own forces. If the first five components enjoy high visibility, the same cannot be said of the last, whose rationale is increasingly to leave the "dirty work" of upholding the military position of the Empire to regional proxies. In this way the White House can escape condemnation and criticism that would result from direct military intervention in "hot areas" of the international system, even as the allies provide the dead bodies, thus reducing the domestic cost — for example, in US public opinion—of the military adventures of the Empire. In Syria, for example, they have resorted to the mercenaries sent by the theocracies of the Gulf to fulfill the tasks that otherwise would have to be done by Imperial troops. It is not hard to imagine the plan of operations that Washington has for Latin America and the Caribbean, nor what will be the role assigned to Colombia, whose government is continually raising the stakes for military solutions — now with the collaboration not only of the Pentagon but also of NATO — and whose ruling class has as one of its supreme aspirations to convert the country into "the Israel of Latin America."
Dr. Atilio Boron, director of the Latin American Programme of Distance Education in Social Sciences (PLED). Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2) See “Tomgram: Nick Turse, Tomorrow's Blowback Today?” in http://www.tomdispatch.com/blo