It’s a classic antiauthoritarian trope that enemies don’t really exist, therefore governments need to create them. The primary reason they must be created is so that governments can justify their existence. Whether or not governments would exist without the threat of a perceived enemy is up to challenge, but an argument that national militaries exist precisely because of perceived threats requires very little imagination. After all, what sane people would bankrupt their national treasury to maintain the world’s largest warmaking capability unless they felt they were threatened? Of course, that perceived threat may or may not be real so, just in case, the role of the rest of the political wing and its media is to provide the perception that the threat is genuine. Which means it is worth bankrupting our treasury and our future. In fact, it is even worth sending our children off to kill and die.
Russia As Enemy
All that being said, the question arises: is Russia really an enemy? Or are the recent machinations by the US military and diplomatic corps merely the result of a desire by Washington’s to have a really big enemy to justify its bloated military budget? After all, it seems that the occupation of Iraq has failed to maintain the support of the people in the the US and that the battle for Afghanistan will never be on a grand enough scale to continue justifying the massive expenditures the war industry demands. Russia, however, is not only a very big country that likes to use its military, it also has the historical role as an enemy of Washington. It doesn’t matter that the previous Russian enemy was a vastly different government that not only opposed Washington’s moves around the world but also claimed to be Washington’s ideological opposite. No, the fact that the Russian government that sent its military into Georgia and warned Poland not to allow US missiles on its soil is not about ideology, it’s about territory. Territory that Washington has been trying to make part of its sphere of influence since at least the end of World War Two. Stalin and his successors repelled Washington’s designs for almost fifty years.
However, as soon as the government they built disintegrated after decades of cold war pressures, the politicians and generals inside the Beltway saw their moment and attacked. Global capitalist institutions demanded payments and starvation while their diplomatic and military protectors demanded territory and allegiance from Moscow’s former states. NATO became a weapon in this crusade to remove Moscow’s former allies from its enforced protection. Yugoslavia was plucked and deboned under NATO’s warplanes. The US dollar and the Euro were waved in front of the new governments that accepted the demands of Wall Street and the European bourses. The former Stalinist leaders of the Soviet provinces were now venture capitalists beholden to the West and the occasional international gangster. Russia did its best to hold on to those regions it considered necessary for trade, launching a bloody war in Chechnya and creating havoc inside Georgia and other former republics whose ports and resources Russia wanted to keep out of the West’s hands. Then energy costs went through the roof. Moscow began to see riches it could only have hoped for back in those dreadful days after Gorbachev. Europe needed oil and natural gas and Moscow was able to provide it. Washington was none too happy because this created a wild card that got in the way of its plans for a US/ Europe alliance under the NATO banner against Moscow and any hopes it might have for a new empire. Simultaneously, Moscow began to flex its new economic power, challenging the encroachment of NATO, opposing Washington’s desire to isolate Iran, and ultimately responding militarily to the attack on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. If Washington was surprised by this move, they should not have been. It was as predictable as the gratuitous violence in a Dirty Harry movie.
Terrorism-The Other Enemy
The rising possibility of a Russian enemy does not preclude the fact of the existing enemy we are told Washington’s military is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, as long as the United States keeps up its killing and occupation of those countries, the elusive enemy known as “the terrorists” will exist. Despite the obvious semantic complications arising from doing battle with a strategy (terrorism), Washington has done an exceedingly good job convincing the world that the best way to deal with religiously inspired groups hoping to install a system of governance they consider to be more just than the planet’s current regimes is to kill as many members of those groups and the people they live amongst. Naturally, this strategy convinced many of those who have lost loved ones to join the groups whose name their loved ones died in (even if their loved ones had nothing to do with said group). Furthermore, the ideology of such groups is now seen by many as an ideology of national liberation and anti-imperialism.
The convenience of a battle against “terrorism” is that one can make any group or nation part of the enemy. This is what George Bush knew when he told the world in 2001 that “you are either with us or you are against us.” There is no room for neutrality in the eyes of this empire. Consequently, one is an enemy even if one has no opinion for or against. Indeed, sometimes one is an enemy even if one opposes the “terrorists.” A recent example of this latter reality can be found in an August 28, 2008 news report from the Los Angeles Times about Venezuela and Hezbollah. Although Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate entity and not considered a “terrorist” group by many around the world, Washington and Tel Aviv (who seem to be the final arbiters of such things) differ with that opinion. Consequently, it is one as far as Washington and some other capitals are concerned.
Anyhow, back to the article. Its essence is that because of Venezuela’s relations with Tehran, US and Israeli intelligence “worry that Venezuela is emerging as a base for anti-US militant groups and spy services.” In what can only be described as a very poor attempt to link together a number of suppositions, rumors and statements by Tel Aviv, the article draws the conclusion that some Hezbollah supporters may be living in Venezuela. Since they may be living there, they may also be conducting fundraising and other operations from their residences there. Furthermore, the article continues, even though the Venezuelan government has tightened up its oversight of any possible fundraising activities by Hezbollah, the fact that there are various Iranian-Venezuelan joint business enterprises opens the possibility that Venezuela is still being used as a fundraising base.
Given that the United States is also the site of fundraising by various groups Washington considers enemies, this article can serve only one purpose–to create a link between “terrorists” and Hugo Chavez. It is a link that of course does not exist but, like the nonexistent link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Queda, if it is repeated enough there will be many people who accept it as fact. In addition, it may even be used as a basis for policy, much like nonexistent Hussein-Al-Queda link was. Despite the fact that Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution has been proven to have no connection to terrorism of any kind, the intention of stories like this is to insinuate that it does.
Furthermore, the intention of those insinuations is to isolate governments like Venezuela’s that oppose the imperial designs of Washington by linking them to groups that no government would publicly claim as allies. By creating this imaginary link, an enemy of Washington is enhanced. By enhancing that enemy, the war industry enhances the perception that it is needed to protect us from those enemies our government has created. In turn, the war industry’s profits are enhanced at our expense.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org