By Pepe Escobar
A new scathing report by the Nobel prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility has revealed that more than 1.3 million people were killed only during the first ten years of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone. What was formerly known as GWOT — or, in Dubya-speak, “war on terra” — was Orwellianized by the Obama administration into “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO).
Crucially, the report does not even cover OCO’s trail in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen (one war “won” by NATO/AFRICOM; one ongoing civil war; and two targets of Obama’s nefarious “kill list”.) Moreover, the figures on AfPak and Iraq are far from being the latest. And the total estimate of lethal casualties is considered “conservative”.
The record shows that this OCO killing machine ran amok for almost 15 years against whole swathes of the planet — not to mention burning trillions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds — and had absolutely zero effect in containing terrorism. Rather the contrary; Asia Times readers are aware of how I’ve defined GWOT as the gift that keeps on giving.
And it all started way before 9/11 — and the official Dubya enshrinement of GWOT.
Where’s my jihadi visa?
One just needs to read Michael Springmann’s book Visas for al-Qaeda: CIA Handouts that Rocked the World. Springmann, a former State Department official, currently practices law in the Beltway. Crucially, he was the head of the visa section of the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia between 1987 and 1989. Until, as part of a very convoluted story, he lost his job; and embarked on the long and winding road towards becoming a whistleblower.
Springmann’s revelation that the Jeddah consulate was a CIA base comes as no surprise — as the free flow of visas was essential to the so-called “Arab Afghans” who were engaged in the 1980s jihad against the former USSR.
And the ball kept rolling. While researching his book, Springmann also found out that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 got their visas in Saudi Arabia; 11 in Jeddah and 4 in Riyadh. Springmann discovered these visas were approved by one Shayna Steinger – “hired directly out of Columbia University with a master’s degree as an FSO4, which is a very high rank for somebody right out of school with no background, experience, or training. And she was supposed to have given very questionable answers to the 9/11 Commission investigating what went on in Jeddah.”
After 9/11, Springmann also tried to get in touch with the FBI to tell his story. He’s still waiting for their call (Lars Schall’s interview with Springmann is here.)
Springmann has no doubt the whole genesis of the “war on terra”, pre-9/11, was a racket involving the CIA and the State Department. As he writes, “the international terrorists the United States recruited for wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia thirty-odd years ago are still involved in the fighting elsewhere today. Bosnia wasn’t the only place those saddle tramps and gunslingers were employed. The visas the State Department issued to them then are now tied to the current administration’s continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The fanatics I saw get travel papers during my time at Jeddah are either directly involved in or trained those directly involved in fighting U.S. forces today.”
Talk to the RAND
There’s nothing new under the GWOT/OCO sun. GWOT/OCO is a mere rebranding of what the Pentagon in the early “axis of evil” days of the Cheney regime called the Long War. And its future was duly conceptualized later on in 2008 by the RAND Corporation report Unfolding the Future of the Long War.
RAND clearly prescribed what has become the new normal. Washington supports the petrodollar GCC racket – House of Saud on top – whatever happens, always in the interest of containing “Iranian power and influence”; diverts Salafi-jihadi resources toward “targeting Iranian interests throughout the Middle East,” especially in Iraq and Lebanon, hence “cutting back … anti-Western operations”; and keeps propping up al-Qaeda — and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh — GCC sponsors and “empowering” viciously anti-Shi’ite Islamists everywhere to maintain “Western dominance.”
Technically, the Long War is a fabulous bonanza for the industrial-military complex. Geopolitically, it cuts both ways; it wreaks havoc via Divide and Rule across the Muslim world, and is also a war by proxy on Iran.
Few will remember that the Long War concept was first formulated in the “axis of evil” era by the Highlands Forum, a relatively obscure, neo-con infested Pentagon think tank. Not accidentally the RAND Corporation is a major “partner”.
And now, with Long War practitioners such as current Pentagon supremo “Ash” Carter, his deputy Robert Work, and Pentagon intelligence chief Mike Vickers, in charge of the self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” Obama administration’s military strategy, continuity is the new normal.
And diversification, of course. Nick Turse’s new book, Tomorrow’s Battlefield: US. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa reads like a hallucinatory trip along the Pentagon’s pivot to virtually the whole continent, fully deploying OCO to fight “terra” via AFRICOM.
OCO is forever. Happy trails, and have a good kill.
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