“Fear! Fear!”: Birth of the War on Terror

The Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, by Brian Bogart, August 23, 2006.

As soon as it came out that the apparent “new 9-11″ airliner threat between the US and UK had been thwarted with the help of Pakistani Intelligence Services (ISI), it also became clear that it was a political tool for further legitimizing the lucrative “war on terror.” After all, the ISI with Saudi financing and covert CIA training had created al-Qaeda in the first place,[1] to counter another “threat”: Soviet communist “enslavement.”

In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a handful of Wall Street lawyers and investors to posts in his administration, including James Conant, James Forrestal, and Paul Nitze. Upon Roosevelt’s death (and the coinciding fall of the Third Reich), this influential group began an attempt to fill the trade vacuum left in postwar Europe. While Europeans, Soviets, and many US officials would have preferred a neutralist trade environment, these few State Department officials in the final years of the 1940s sought US trade supremacy,[2] and thus set about creating a Soviet “communist threat” that ran counter to the CIA’s own National Intelligence Estimates.[3]

By 1951, this group had formed the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), which by March of that year successfully motivated Congress and the public to buy into the “threat of communist enslavement” through fear-based rhetoric in the media, setting in motion the Cold War and a US economy driven by conflict.

As CPD members moved from administration to administration regardless of party affiliation, the Cold War policy of “containment militarism” ran strong through the late 1960s. In the wake of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, according to Richard Falk, a split between foreign policy elites emerged: Imperialists, who sought to remilitarize the US for global conquest still using the fear-inciting Soviet “communist threat”; and managers (Trilateralists), who attempted to rally the corporate spheres of Europe, East Asia, and the US to adopt a new era of interdependent international trade.

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The US had at last put its reinvented (post-Cold War) international terrorist threat to work, as envisioned by the JCIT back in 1979, again, invented and then reinvented not to counter Soviet actions, but “useful for demonizing threats to the prevailing US-dominated capitalist economic system,” knowingly paving the path to the “war on terror” well before it began.

The military agenda was perfect for those who longed for a new Pearl Harbor for economic gain at the hands of “international terrorists.” The groundwork was complete; the evil mastermind created, and all that was needed to pursue the Unocal pipeline and myriad corporate ambitions was a legitimate excuse for taking control of the region. The CIA was still negotiating the pipeline deal in August 2001 with troops already positioned in surrounding states. Thus, the next step was a trigger, a pretext to galvanize public opinion.

The crux of Philip Paull’s thesis is that the JCIT represented a precisely coordinated and globally oriented propaganda network for the purposes of selling pretexts for war. This is what the so-called “war on terror” really is, and Americans would not have accepted it without a massive media propaganda campaign accompanying an “attack” against the United States, or with the kind of enlightenment about such tyrannical behavior that a truly competent education system should provide.

Therefore, Bush’s two statements, that “America has never been guided by territorial ambitions,” and “The lesson of the past week is that there’s still a war on terror going on and there’s still individuals that would like to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives,” are utterly false and tragically true respectively. One, America has always been guided by imperialist expansion and requires constant covers for so doing; and two, individuals do wish to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives-individuals in Bush’s own administration and individuals who will continue to bribe officials in any administration to achieve the same objectives of lucrative power over the common people.

That said, people of the world everywhere, prepare yourselves for Bush’s “freedom agenda,” his “forward strategy of freedom,” and the “unstoppable power of freedom.” Prepare yourselves, because “freedom” in Bushwellian and the language of American foreign policy means war: hot war, with Predators and bullets for all. A human rights activist for 45 years, Brian Bogart is the first graduate student in Peace Studies from the University of Oregon. He can be reached at this mail address.

(Read the whole of this very long article on ZNet).


[1] Nafeez Ahmed, The War on Truth (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005), p. 10.

[2] Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis (Boston: South End Press, 1983), pp. 54-55. This trade or “dollar gap” was of deep concern to influential US defense industry executives, who were severely impacted by the postwar economic downturn in the period from 1946 to 1950, and many of whom had during this time lobbied top officials in Washington’s military circles. A turnaround occurred in 1948 and profoundly so after the adoption of NSC-68’s recommendations in December 1950. For further insight, see Frank Kofsky’s Harry S. Truman and the War Scare of 1948.

[3] Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency 2001; CIA’s Analysis of the Soviet Union, 1947-1999: ORE 22-48, April 1948, Possibility of Direct Soviet Military Action During 1948; ORE 22-48, September 1948, (Addendum) Possibility of Direct Soviet Military Action During 1948-49; ORE 46-49, May 1949, Possibility of Direct Soviet Military Action During 1949.

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