by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
In a little-noted article printed in early August in the Armed Forces Journal, a monthly magazine for officers and leaders in the United States military community, early retired Major Ralph Peters sets out the latest ideas in current US strategic thinking. And they are extremely disturbing.
Ethnically Cleansing the Entire Middle East
Maj. Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare, candidly outlines how the map of the Middle East should be fundamentally re-drawn, in a new imperial endeavour designed to correct past errors. "Without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East," he observes, but then adds wryly: "Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works."
Thus, acknowledging that the sweeping reconfiguration of borders he proposes would necessarily involve massive ethnic cleansing and accompanying bloodshed on perhaps a genocidal scale, he insists that unless it is implemented, "we may take it as an article of faith that a portion of the bloodshed in the region will continue to be our own." Among his proposals are the need to establish "an independent Kurdish state" to guarantee the long-denied right to Kurdish self-determination. But behind the humanitarian sentiments, Maj. Peters declares that: "A Free Kurdistan, stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan."
He chastises the United States and its coalition partners for missing "a glorious chance" to fracture Iraq, which "should have been divided into three smaller states immediately." This would leave "Iraq's three Sunni-majority provinces as a truncated state that might eventually choose to unify with a Syria that loses its littoral to a Mediterranean-oriented Greater Lebanon: Phoenecia reborn." Meanwhile, the Shia south of old Iraq "would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf." Jordan, a US-Israeli friend in the region, would "retain its current territory, with some southward expansion at Saudi expense. For its part, the unnatural state of Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan." Iran too would "lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today's Afghanistan." Although this vast imperial programme could be impossible to implement now, with time, "new and natural borders will emerge", driven by "the inevitable attendant bloodshed."
As for the goals of this plan, Maj. Peters is equally candid. While including the necessary caveats about fighting "for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy", he also mentions the third important issue -- "and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself".
The whole thing sounds disturbingly familiar, especially to those who have read the musings of then Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon.
Keeping the World Safe... for Our Economy
Despite trying to dress up his vision as an exercise in attempting to selflessly democratize the Middle East, in a contribution to the quarterly US Army War College journal Parameters almost a decade ago, he acknowledged with some jubilation that: "Those of us who can sort, digest, synthesize, and apply relevant knowledge soar--professionally, financially, politically, militarily, and socially. We, the winners, are a minority." This minority will inevitably conflict with the vast majority of the world's population. "For the world masses, devastated by information they cannot manage or effectively interpret, life is 'nasty, brutish . . . and short-circuited.'" In "every country and region", these masses who can neither "understand the new world", nor "profit from its uncertainties... will become the violent enemies of their inadequate governments, of their more fortunate neighbors, and ultimately of the United States." The coming clash, then, is not really about blood, faith, ethnicity, at all. It is about the gap between the haves and the have-nots. "We are entering a new American century", he says, in a veiled reference to the Bush administration Project of the same name founded in the same year he was writing. In the new century, "we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent."
In predicting the future course for the US Army, Maj. Peters argues that: "We will see countries and continents divide between rich and poor in a reversal of 20th-century economic trends." In this context, he says, "we in the United States will continue to be perceived as the ultimate haves", and therefore, "terrorism will be the most common form of violence", along with "transnational criminality, civil strife, secessions, border conflicts, and conventional wars." Meanwhile, "in defense of its interests", the US "will be required to intervene in some of these contests." And then he sums it all up in one tidy paragraph:
"There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing."
So what's prompted Maj. Peter's decision to air his vision for the Middle East in the Armed Forces Journal at this time in the wake of the latest Middle East crisis? A number of critical developments.
Source: Imminent Global Crises Converge
According to an American source with high-level access to the US military, political and intelligence establishment, Western policymakers are in no doubt that the world faces the imminent convergence of multiple global crises. These crises threaten not only to undermine the basis of Western power in its current military and geopolitical configurations, but also to destabilize the entire foundations of industrial civilization.
The source said that the latest petroleum data indicates that "global oil production most likely peaked two years ago." This is consistent with the findings of respected geologists such as leading oil depletion expert Dr. Colin Campbell, who in the late 90s predicted that world oil production would peak in the early 21st century. "We have come to the end of the first half of the Oil Age," said Dr. Campbell, who has a doctorate in geology from the University of Oxford and more than 40 years of experience in the oil industry. Similarly, Kenneth Deffeyes, a geologist and professor emeritus at Princeton University, estimates the occurrence of the peak near the end of last year.
The source also said that leading US financial analysts privately believe that "a collapse of the global banking system is imminent by 2008." Although the warning is consistent with the public findings of other experts, this is the first time that a more precise date has been estimated. In a prescient analysis drawing on highly placed financial sources, US historian Gabriel Kolko, professor emeritus at York University, concluded in late July that:
"All the factors which make for crashes – excessive leveraging, rising interest rates, etc. – exist... Contradictions now wrack the world's financial system, and a growing consensus now exists between those who endorse it and those, like myself, who believe the status quo is both crisis-prone as well as immoral. If we are to believe the institutions and personalities who have been in the forefront of the defense of capitalism, and we should, it may very well be on the verge of serious crises."
The source also commented on the danger posed by rapid climate change. Although most conventional estimates suggest that global climate catastrophe is not due before another 30 odd years, he argued that the multiplication of several "tipping-points" suggested that a series of devastating climatic events could be "triggered within the next 10 to 15 years." Once again, this is consistent with the findings of other experts, most recently a joint task-force report by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Center for American Progress in the US, and the Australia Institute, which said in January last year that if the average world temperature rises "two degrees centigrade above the average world temperature prevailing in 1750 before the industrial revolution", it would trigger an irreversible chain of climatic disasters. In its report, the task-force says:
"The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea level more than 10 meters over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planet's forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon."
The source also revealed that US generals had repeatedly war-gamed a prospective conflict with Iran, but consistently found that the simulations predicted "an absolute nuclear disaster", from which no clear winner would emerge. The scenarios gamed were so dismal, he said, that the generals briefed administration officials to avoid such a war at all costs. However, the source said that the Bush administration is ignoring the fears of the US military.
In this context, it would seem that the musings of Maj. Peters issue less from a concerted confidence in US power, than from a sense of growing desperation and unease as the political, financial and energy architecture of the global system is increasingly fragmenting under the weight of its own inherent instability. Despite the seeming gloominess of the situation, however, there is clearly fundamental dissent about the current trajectory of American and Western policy at the highest levels of power. The source remarked that "humanity is on the verge of a precipice, and either we'll all just drop off the edge, or we'll evolve. I'm not sure what that new human being might look like, but it will clearly have to involve a completely new set of ideas and values, a new way of looking at the world that respects life and nature."
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry. He teaches courses in International Relations at the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, where he is doing his PhD studying imperialism and genocide. Since 9/11, he has authored three other books revealing the realpolitik behind the rhetoric of the "War on Terror", The War on Freedom, Behind the War on Terror, and The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. In summer 2005, he testified as an expert witness in US Congress about his research on international terrorism.