“THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX IS THE GREATEST THREAT FOR WORLD PEACE IN OUR TIME”
Interview with Mohssen Massarrat
[This interview published on 11/17/2015 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://sandimgetriebe.attac.at
Wars begin with lies scattered by secret services and then broadcast by the media. Wars do not solve conflicts but create new conflicts. However wars also secure raw materials, open up markets and bring profit. Could concrete interests and actors acting strategically and kindling and initiating wars stand behind all the war lies of the last years and decades and the murders always made appealing as “defense,” “philanthropy” or “battle for freedom, democracy and human rights”? Does the war logic also follow a profit- and interest-logic that can be traced back to certain authorities? Jens Wernicke raised these questions to Mohssen Massarrat, member of the Attac advisory council.
Mr. Massarrat, you have long argued peace policy requires criticism of the so-called military industrial complex. What do you mean?
War critics usually react to wars after they break out. In the most positive case, they are critically engaged with war preparations and hope to prevent war. One way or another, people constantly chase after violent events and in the final analysis only react to symptoms. The financial structure of violence and war production, the real cause of global wars, the military-industrial complex, the MIC, is hidden beyond our view. This develops to an ever more powerful monster while we feel more and more powerless because of so much disaster and catastrophes as now in the Middle East.
Anti-war activities must be joined with enlightenment about the MIC. The prospects for unmasking one of the worst evils of our present are not so bad after all the knowledge about war plans, after so many experiences with media propaganda to move people to approve the planned wars like the Yugoslavian wars in the 1990s and the last fifteen years in the Middle East.
How do you concretely classify this evil? Who acts wickedly and what methods are used? Do you mean secret services, a “state in the state” or something else?
The roots of militarism go back to the era of the American civil wars. Since that time, a culture of self-defense dev eloped in America that is very alive today among Americans as a constitutionally protected right to self-defense.
Through many wars in the 19th century and the Second World War, the MIC was finally “too big to fail,” a hidden “state in the state.” The MIC grows like a cancer in all areas of American society, in the political system, the economy, academia, cultural institutions and the media.
The MIC is a huge and entirely inscrutable network of which Eisenhower openly warned in his farewell address on January 17, 1961. As a republican president of the United States, he was confronted with a network of a “powerful military establishment and a powerful armament.” That was “new in American history,” Eisenhower said. Eisenhower gave his successors the following recommendation on the basis of his own experiences with this new network: “In the bodies of government, we must guard against the expansion, whether active or passive, of the unauthorized influence of the military-industrial complex. The potential for a disastrous rise of power in the wrong places exists and will exist in the future. We may never allow this influential alliance to endanger our freedoms and the democratic process.”
The MIC at that time was clearly stronger than America’s democracy. The network spans all social areas, all the secret services, created the NSA, encouraged many new think tanks and foundations, infiltrates or even steers research internationally and systematically infiltrates the media. To name one example, psychoanalysis does valuable work for the US secret services. Conversely these secret services and the US military are zealous in forming a whole academic discipline along their lines.
Finally, the MIC is many times more powerful today than ever after over 60 years and an inconceivable nuclear arms race during the block confrontation and many wars that it caused.
Can we agree the MIC is not only a US feature but exists in every country even if it is less powerful and less imposing? Karl Liebknecht described Prussian-German militarism as a state in the state that became a state above the state…
The US MIC is now the greatest threat for peace. The largest and most aggressive military of the world is allied here with the most powerful secret services and an open claim to global leadership that can be easily classified as imperialism.
If the MIC caused all the wars of the US, these wars also had to be planned and carried out systematically and minutely. Isn’t this assumption exaggerated? The Soviet Union also participated in the block confrontation, to name only one example.
The alternative of a peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union existed for the US after the Second World War, for instance through Germany’s neutralization as proposed by the SU. The goal of worldwide US hegemony was carried out and all non-aggressive alternatives were torpedoed. Before the war’s end, the US used nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bound West Germany in the western camp after the war and quickly transitioned to a policy of block confrontation.
The self-assertion powers of a – very unproductive – sector can only continue when new conflicts and wars arise in the world. This unproductive sector develops an enormous dynamic and blocks all paths that could lead to peace at the end. After the victory of the allies in Germany, the path to the Cold War was silently paved and the Soviet Union was driven to a nuclear arms race. After the end of block confrontation and the readiness of the SU under Gorbachev for comprehensive disarmament, the US rejected this alternative and instead came up with the new concept of a missile defense shield based in outer space that fueled a new arms race.
Nearly all US wars after the Second World War were started with brazen lies. This is not a secret any more. The Vietnam- and the Indo-China wars began with the lie of an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Bush administration legitimated the Iraq war with the lie that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. I cannot and will not believe so many conflict- and war-events in the recent past only accidentally occurred systematically one after the other. An underlying system and the MIC as that profiting authority are the main driving forces of this system of war production. That seems more logical and plausible to me.
Your presentation seems too simplistic. That it could be possible to gain the population’s approval after systematically planning these crimes exceeds my powers of imagination…
Let us not forget the psychological significance of targeted manipulation through scapegoats that completely monopolized the heads of Americans and their allies after the allies’ victory against German fascism.
Up to the collapse of the Soviet Union, communism as a threat to the West was part of the daily routine. This scapegoat couldn’t be removed from public discourse. After the block confrontation ended, Islam quickly became the substitute for a new threat to the West. There is evidence that Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” was regarded worldwide as an academic justification for the massive threat to the West by Islam long before 9/11.
Fomenting fears toward a religion is the most dreadful soil on which the seed of violence can thrive best, especially with fanatical Muslims who are predestined to take the role of victim. This cannot be denied.
Seen this way, 9/11, if it was really the work of Al Qaeda, was the result of a self-fulfilling prophesy of Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations.” With terrorism, a new enemy was established. War was immediately declared against this new enemy that “should be waged until the last terrorist is killed,” as George W. Bush jr. declared. The states of the so-called western world helped almost unconditionally in America’s war against terror. People closed one eye when massive violations of human rights like torture were on the daily agenda in this war.
Establishing this and emphasizing the powers and massive interests in the background may seem unimaginable like a conspiracy of a dark power planned from the beginning to end. On the other hand, it cannot be denied a super-power like the US can control an escalation process that it initiates.
To concretize this in an example, I refer to the former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who at a meeting in Raid the capital of Saudi Arabia at the peak of the nuclear conflict with Iran urged Sunni states to form a Sunni belt because Iran together with Iraq, Lebanon and Syria was long intent on creating a Shiite belt to build its hegemony in the Middle East. This interpretation was actually the start of the aggravated conflict between these two Islamic currents and the conflict in Syria along with the genesis of the Islamic State. In addition, Dick Cheney, Donald Rusted, Paul Wolfowitz and many others inside the Bush administration all came from the armaments sector. McCain, the republican spokesperson of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and the sharpest critic of dialogue and cooperation with Iran to solve the nuclear conflict and to settle the Ukranian conflict with Russia is a Vietnam War veteran…
Much larger terror groups like the Al Nusra-Front and the so-called Islamic State actually emerged out of a handful of Al-Qaeda terrorists. We shouldn’t be surprised that mobilization and instrumentalization of public opinion also occurs through other subtle methods like the demonization of supposed enemies. According to need, one time Ghaddafi and then Saddam Hussein were chosen as the new Hitler. Iran was demonized in the nuclear conflict so that the western public would accept a war against this country. Putin was also demonized day in and day out when he actively resisted the obvious attempt to bring the Ukraine into the EU.
In the case of the Ukraine conflict, we all witnessed the spread of anti-Russian propaganda in the West and the alarming advance of a pre-war mentality in Europe. I imagine that a whole series of influential think tanks and networks stood in the back ground of these developments. Political PR campaigns are conceived according to need. Psychological warfare is speeded up with every war decision. The secret services do the rest.
That leading personnel of the so-called quality media spread the analyses and assessments uncritically n well-organized networks supportive of the MIC in nearly every conflict of the US is an open secret. Our current western media culture obviously wants to know nothing of the Kantian idea of cooperation and peace and esteems the idea of confrontation, threat, permanent invocation of scapegoats and of Thomas Hobbes’ view of humankind, that the person is a wolf to other persons. This diagnosis does not see everything in black and white. Hardly surprisingly the peace movement constantly chases after war events and peace perspectives are lost while the MIC easily has public opinion on its side for all the conflicts and wars that it stages for its own survival.
Two psychologists developed new torture methods for the CIA for $80 million according to the December 2014 torture report of the US Senate. This is only one example of how the culture of war is deeply rooted in US society. When this was made known, the psychologists publically defended their inhuman services as based on science.
How can it be explained that Americans put up with the tremendous costs of many US wars and the provision of personnel and war material? The US is a functioning democracy and the parties are not afraid of criticizing the administration in power. The conflict over approval of the budget often turns into a blockade of payments of salaries for the departments and government work. Do you really regard the dominant propaganda as so powerful that it can influence people almost unconditionally?
That is a very important question. A public debate on military costs is actually a taboo theme in the US. When the defense budget is generally broached in the budget consultations, the focus is on lower rates of increase. There is a consensus between the US parties that defense spending should be constantly raised. This desire also exists in the EU. For example, the EU war parties a few years ago even tried to codify increased defense spending in the basic law which fortunately failed. But all the administrations become indebted again and again in financing the gigantic US defense spending which rose very drastically in the last decade to the astronomical annual sum of $700 billion.
The permanent indebtedness for defense spending, for public investments in an unproductive sector that generates no taxes on the revenue side, is the main reason the US has become the greatest debtor state of the world at over $17 trillion. Every other state would have long gone bust with these debts. For example, the Soviet Union collapsed under the massive burden of arming to death initiated in the 1980s. But no financial disaster happens to the US because the US government thanks to the monopoly as the world currency and the trust of international capital investors in the stability of the dollar finances its new indebtedness with government bonds that it exchanges for cash at the US Fed.
On one side, the Fed markets the government bonds all over the globe and creates a constant capital flow into the US economy while on the other side turning on the printing press and supplying the government with newly printed money to finance current government expenditures. Basically the US finances the costs of the MIC with the ac cumulated purchasing power from the whole world that America sucks up as capital like a sponge, not with the tax funds of its own population.
This fact may be the reason why defense financing is not a theme in the US public and hardly disturbs anyone. This incredibly insidious financing model for its wars presupposes that the oil trade worldwide will be carried out on a dollar basis. However this condition cannot be guaranteed through the voluntary readiness of oil exporters. Many of these oil states are not known for their dependence on America. Rather this condition requires a violent global system where rebellious oil states feel the naked violence of potential regime change and trust in the dollar is maintained.
Under this angle, all the wars of the US in the Middle East appear in a new light. The shattering of strong centralist states like Iraq and the genesis of terrorist groups like the so-called Islamic State are not detrimental to the violent system – as long as the oil for weapons business continues undisturbed. The interests of US governments and the MIC coincide here. The cycle of the violent global system, oil trade on a dollar basis and stability of the US economy is sharpened through drastic capital imports. I will leave it here with these few references since I discussed this thematic in detail in other places.
How can the peace movement act against this and bring about peace if such a “network” exists in the background of democracy as a “state in the state” and this represents an ever greater threat for peace in the world? Demonstrations and appeals against the most powerful and financially well-girded machine of the world seem rather hopeless. What do you propose? Is there a strategy?
As I see it, the MIC should be moved into the center of criticism with all activities of the peace movement. The military-industrial complex is the greatest threat to world peace in our time. Campaigns against weapons exports are important but alone are not en0ugh. In my judgment, a worldwide campaign to outlaw weapons production is necessary. To that end, more intense discussions and cooperation with churches and religious communities are vital.
Fighting the dominant culture of war that promotes all media justifications of war and war propaganda seems important to me. This culture must be decoded as misanthropic and shattered. Building a culture of peace is the project of the century. The idea of cooperation has a great attraction and appeal that encourages us to continue.