June 16, 2012
Asia Times

Obama's Six-Point Plan for Global War

by Nick Turse

. . . In 2001, Rumsfeld began his "revolution in military affairs", steering the Pentagon toward a military-lite model of high-tech, agile forces. The concept came to a grim end in Iraq's embattled cities. A decade later, the last vestiges of its many failures continue to play out in a stalemated war in Afghanistan against a rag-tag minority insurgency that can't be beaten. In the years since, two secretaries of defense and a new president have presided over another transformation - this one geared toward avoiding ruinous, large-scale land wars which the US has consistently proven unable to win.

Under Obama, the US has expanded or launched numerous military campaigns - most of them utilizing a mix of the six elements of 21st-century American war. Take the American war in Pakistan - a poster-child for what might now be called the Obama formula, if not doctrine.

Beginning as a highly circumscribed drone assassination campaign backed by limited cross-border commando raids under the Bush administration, US operations in Pakistan have expanded into something close to a full-scale robotic air war, complemented by cross-border helicopter attacks, CIA-funded "kill teams" of Afghan proxy forces, as well as boots-on-the-ground missions by elite special operations forces, including the SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The CIA has conducted clandestine intelligence and surveillance missions in Pakistan, too, though its role may, in the future, be less important, thanks to Pentagon mission creep. In April, in fact, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the creation of a new CIA-like espionage agency within the Pentagon called the Defense Clandestine Service. According to the Washington Post, its aim is to expand "the military's espionage efforts beyond war zones".

Over the last decade, the very notion of war zones has become remarkably muddled, mirroring the blurring of the missions and activities of the CIA and Pentagon. Analyzing the new agency and the "broader convergence trend" between Department of Defense and CIA missions, the Post noted that the "blurring is also evident in the organizations' upper ranks. Panetta previously served as CIA director, and that post is currently held by retired four-star Army General David H Petraeus."

Not to be outdone, last year the State Department, once the seat of diplomacy, continued on its long march to militarization (and marginalization) when it agreed to pool some of its resources with the Pentagon to create the Global Security Contingency Fund. That program will allow the Defense Department even greater say in how aid from Washington will flow to proxy forces in places like Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

One thing is certain: American war-making (along with its spies and its diplomats) is heading ever deeper into "the shadows". Expect yet more clandestine operations in ever more places with, of course, ever more potential for blowback in the years ahead. . . .


"'War Is A Racket'," The Wisdom Fund, September 11, 2001

Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, "U.S. 'Secret War' Expands Globally," Washington Post, June 4, 2010

Ralph Nader, "As the Drone Flies: War By 'Lethal Autonomy'," CounterPunch, September 27, 2011

Glenn Greenwald, "How the Obama administration is making the US media its mouthpiece," Guardian, June 8, 2012

RussiaToday, Jun 26, 2012

Dan Froomkin, "The Dark Side Of The Obama White House,", July 25, 2011

back button