What's Left

November 25, 2002

War, NATO expansion and the other rackets of Bruce P. Jackson

By Stephen Gowans

Unless you're in the business of getting filthy rich by manufacturing hi-tech weapons, you've probably never heard of Bruce P. Jackson. But Jackson is a household name in some circles.

When the Republican Party needed a chair for its Foreign Policy Subcommittee during the last presidential campaign, it looked to Jackson.  Jackson's committee recommended more defense spending.

And Jackson is one of the founders of the US Committee on NATO, an outfit formed in 1996 to promote the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance. Every time a new Eastern or Central European country is admitted to the US-led club, the US defense industry--which ends up being the supplier of equipment new NATO countries must purchase to ensure their militaries are "inter-operable" with the US air force, army, navy and marines--gets richer.
 
"The Project on Transitional Democracies is a multiyear project aimed at accelerating the pace of reform in Europe's post-1989 democracies and advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic." Who's the president and founder? Bruce P. Jackson. What are the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic? The principal institution is NATO. And what exactly is meant by "advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into" the Euro-Atlantic institutions? What it means is advancing the date the US arms industry can expect purchase orders to start rolling in from the newly integrated (that is, NATO-ized)  "transitional" democracies.

You'd think between his work overseeing the US Committee on NATO and the Project on Transitional Democracies that Bruce P. Jackson would have little time for anything else. But it turns out that Jackson is indefatigable; he's also on the Board of Directors of the Project for the New American Century, a Bush cabinet-connected group that advocates a global US empire based on an indomitable US military; which means, of course, more military spending.

And if that's not enough, Jackson is also the chair of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), a group which aims to persuade the American people of the necessity of "liberating" the world's second largest source of oil, which is to say pressing into service all those expensive warplanes and missiles the US defense industry produces for the Pentagon. This is to be done in the name of ousting Saddam Hussein, a "monster," with the unfortunate (though apparently necessary) side-effect of ushering what could be as many as 500,000 Iraqis into early graves. But what's hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives against "liberating" Iraq, and a bonanza of new purchase orders for the US defense industry, to say nothing of US oil companies controlling Iraq's oil?

One of the main beneficiaries of war on Iraq could be Lockheed Martin, which supplies the Pentagon with many of the weapons systems that will be used, and will need to be reordered, if, and when, Bruce P. Jackson gets his wish and Washington orders an attack (as it seems it surely will.) Lockheed Martin is (to quote from its website) "a customer focused, global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products, and services for government and commercial customers," which is to say it's the world's largest manufacturer of stuff to slaughter people on a massive scale, and until recently it was also the employer of one Bruce P. Jackson. According to the CLI website "between 1993 and 2002, Mr. Jackson was Vice President for Strategy and Planning at Lockheed Martin Corporation," which means that while Jackson was founding the US Committee for NATO and the Project for Transitional Democracies; while he was serving on the board of the Project for the New American Century; and while he was chairing the Republican Party subcommittee on foreign policy--all of which advocated more defense spending--Bruce P. Jackson was also working for a company that stood to gain the most from stepped up spending on weapons.

To say this is a racket is to say more than needs to be said, but it's a racket that operates on many levels, some of which aren't as obvious as others. Take, for example, NATO's expansion. That the alliance has no raison d'être and hasn't for a decade is plain. Once the Warsaw Pact collapsed, NATO should have been out of business. But NATO's enlargement presents a number of attractive possibilities to Washington, which have nothing whatever to do with the painfully obvious nonsense about the alliance being necessary to fight terrorism (or whatever poor excuse US presidents trot out from time to time to justify the organization.) Accordingly, NATO has not only survived, it's flourishing, much like a buggy whip manufacturer paradoxically flourishing after the invention of the automobile.

An expanding NATO allows Washington to strengthen its influence over a number of weak Eastern and Central European states. It also allows Washington to establish a military presence that rings a potential adversary, Russia. The idea that Russia could become a NATO member--broached every once in a while and then quickly dismissed without explanation--points to hemming in the only country (other than China) able to challenge the US as being a principal, though tacit, NATO objective. "If you make the case for Russia in NATO," observed Alexander Haig, once supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe and later Reagan's Secretary of State, "then there would be no reason for NATO. You would have to rechristen it and change its overall objective" (UPI, January 7, 2002.)  So, in other words, NATO expansion is a scam -- it has nothing whatever to do with what it's said to have to do with.

What's more, since the goals of expanding US influence in Europe, and encircling Russia, could be achieved without Washington also demanding that new NATO members (most of which are poor) bump up military spending, it's doubly a scam; it's a business generating program for US weapons manufacturers, though at the same time something a Vice President for Strategy and Planning at Lockheed Martin Corporation might find close to his heart.

Another scam is the idea that the US is promoting democracy in the former Communist countries it invites into its exclusive "buy Lockheed Martin" club. What Washington is really promoting is multiparty elections, in which what's variously called  "pro-democracy," "pro-reform," or "Western-friendly" parties and coalitions are bankrolled by various State Department-connected NGOs and are therefore able to dominate elections by virtue of superior US-provided organization and funding. The targets of this US largesse, not surprisingly, then undertake "reforms," which see publicly owned enterprises sold to Western, and usually American, investors,  and, the inevitable integration into NATO, with its purchase orders for Lockheed Martin and other US defense contractors. The NGOs that shower attention and money on these pro-Western parties claim to be in the business of promoting democracy and reform, but what they're really promoting is Quisling parties, whose pro-democracy orientations amount to nothing more than being pro-Lockheed Martin. Where the Quisling parties fail, as in Belarus, the victors, refusing to open their treasuries to be plundered by Mr. Jackson's former employer, are denounced as "nationalists," "dictators," "strongmen," and are accused of having risen to power through electoral fraud. A program of US-engineered destabilization soon follows, to culminate eventually in a coup which brings "reformist" forces to power, along with new orders for Lockheed Martin. The scam is that it's not democracy that's being promoted, but the interests of US weapons manufacturers and other American firms.

The war on terrorism, insofar as it's prosecuted by military means, is also a racket, for how can F-16s, cruises missiles, and tanks stamp out terrorism?  Even the Pentagon acknowledges that no country can take on the US militarily, and therefore adversaries will pursue "asymmetrical" means to attack the US (assuming any country is dumb enough to do so), which is to say, methods which cannot be met and defeated by a conventional military response. But if they can't be met by conventional military means, why--other than to generate new purchase orders for the defense industry--are conventional military means used?

The Pentagon flexed its mighty, Lockheed Martin supplied muscles, in Afghanistan, and to what avail? Those alleged to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks were neither captured nor killed, and have now, we're told, regrouped, and are in the process of plotting future attacks. So, if the war on terrorism is genuine, it's being lost, and for reasons that shouldn't be too surprising. The US military, built for war against other militaries, or simply for bombing countries into submission, is being used against non-military (or asymmetrical) forces; that is, those it's not competent to deal with.

The alternative is that the stories about bin Laden are a scam, aimed at justifying an endless war to provide a cover to expand US hegemony through military means, as well as to furnish an endless stream of purchase orders for Bruce P. Jackson's former employer. This view is not without its supporting points. In the first place, we know very little about who plotted and carried out the 9/11 attacks, apart from what Washington has said, and Washington has said precious little, other than bin Laden and his al-Qaeda associates are responsible. How Washington knows this is unclear, since it refuses to disclose its evidence, and anyone who asks for it is immediately branded a conspiracy theorist. That Washington could be paltering with the truth is more than a possibility; already, Bush and his cabinet have been caught lying boldly on Iraq (about reports that don't exist and unmanned aircraft that pose no threat), and Washington's penchant for falsehood in matters of war is infamous. Secondly, the campaign of bombing Afghanistan achieved none of its stated goals (capturing bin Laden and Mullah Omar and disrupting al-Qaeda) but has brought Washington a whole lot closer to achieving some of the cherished goals set out in Bruce P. Jackson's Project for a New American Century, including a robust American military presence in--and therefore, effective control of--Central Asia. In other words, Washington has achieved militarily what it can achieve militarily (conquest) and has failed to achieve militarily what it knows it can't achieve militarily (wiping out al-Qaeda). Conveniently, with the latter goal beyond reach, the pretext for achieving the reachable goals of conquest remains indefinitely.

Unless you think democracy is equivalent to fattening the bottom lines of US defense contractors and Western multinationals, then NATO expansion and promoting "democracy" in Eastern and Central Europe are rackets;  unless you believe boosting the profits of US oil companies and Lockheed Martin is synonymous with liberating a country from a tyrant and rooting out terrorist infrastructure, then the impending war on Baghdad, and the ongoing war on terrorism, are also rackets; and Bruce P. Jackson, former Vice-President for Strategy and Planning at Lockheed Martin Corporation, is one of the principal racketeers. It's more than regrettable that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and numberless others who will eventually be caught in the war on terrorism, will die, and that countless people in former Communist countries will be poorer, so that Bruce P. Jackson and his fellow racketeers, and the shareholders of Lockheed Martin, can enjoy the fruits of booming weapons sales.

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