The U.S. claim that it is waging a global “war on terror” is the biggest lie of the 21st century, a mega-fiction on the same historical scale of evil as Hitler’s claim that he was defending Germany from an assault by world Jewry, or that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a Christianizing mission. In reality, the U.S. is the birth mother and chief nurturer of the global jihadist network – a truth recognized by most of the world’s people, including the 82 percent of Syrians that believe “the U.S. created the Islamic State.” (Even 62 percent of Syrians in Islamic State-controlled regions believe this to be true.)
Only “exceptionalism”-addled Americans and colonial-minded Europeans give Washington’s insane cover story the slightest credibility. However, it is dangerous in the extreme for any country to state the fact clearly: that it is the United States that has inflicted Islamic jihadist terror on the world. Once the charade has been abandoned; once there is no longer the international pretense that Washington is not the Mother Of All Terror, what kind of dialogue is possible with the crazed and desperate perpetrator? What do you do with a superpower criminal, once you have accused him of such unspeakable evil?
President Vladimir Putin came closest last November, after Russia unleashed a devastating bombing and missile campaign against the Islamic State’s industrial scale infrastructure in Syria – facilities and transportation systems that the U.S. had left virtually untouched since Obama’s phony declaration of war against ISIS in September of 2014. The Islamic State had operated a gigantic oil sales and delivery enterprise with impunity, right under the eyes of American bombers. “I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” said Putin. “The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon.” Russian bombers destroyed hundreds of the oil tankers within a week, and cruise missiles launched from Russian ships on the Caspian Sea knocked out vital ISIS command-and-control sites.
Putin’s derision of U.S. military actions against ISIS shamed and embarrassed Barack Obama before the world – an affront that only a fellow nuclear superpower would dare. Yet, even the Russian president chose his words carefully, understanding that deployment of jihadists has become central to U.S. imperial policy, and cannot be directly confronted without risks that could be fatal to the planet. Simply put, Washington has no substitute for the jihadists, who have been a tool of U.S. policy since the last days of President Jimmy Carter’s administration.
That’s why, in August of 2014, President Obama admitted “We don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with ISIS. It had been thirteen years since 9/11, but none of the U.S./Saudi-sponsored jihadists had ever “gone off the reservation,” spitting on the hands that fed them, attacking the al-Qaida fighters (al-Nusra) that are the real force behind so-called “moderate” anti-Assad “rebels,” and threatening to overthrow the Saudi and other Persian Gulf monarchies. Obama had no strategy to combat ISIS, because the U.S. had no strategy to fight jihadists of any brand in Syria, since all the other terrorists worked for the U.S. and its allies.
Obama is still not waging a “war” against the Islamic State – certainly not on a superpower scale, and not nearly as vigorously as did the far smaller Russian forces before their partial withdrawal in March of this year. The New York Times last week published an article that was half apology, half critical of the U.S. air campaign in ISIS territory. The Americans blamed their lackadaisical air campaign on “poor intelligence,” “clumsy targeting,” “inexperienced planners,” “staffing shortages,” “internal rivalries” and – this from a nation that has caused the deaths of 20 to 30 million people since World War Two – “fear of causing civilian casualties.” However, the Pentagon now claims to have hit its stride, and is concentrating on blowing up the Islamic State’s money, targeting cash storage sites, resulting in reductions in salaries of about 50 percent for ISIS troops. The U.S. military says it has destroyed about 400 ISIS oil tankers. (The Russians claim to have destroyed a total of 2,000.)
As a counterpoint, the Times quoted David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who planned air campaigns in Afghanistan in 2001 and in the Persian Gulf in 1991. He called the current U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State “symbolic” and “anemic when considered relative to previous operations.”
The U.S. has averaged 14.5 air strikes a day in the combined Syrian and Iraqi theaters of war, with a peak of 17 a day in April. That’s far lower than NATO’s 50 strikes a day against Libya in 2011, 85 strikes a day against Afghanistan in 2001, and 800 a day in Iraq in 2003. It’s way below Russia’s 55 Syrian strikes a day – 9,000 total strikes over a five and a half month period – by an air force a fraction of the size of the 750 U.S. aircraft stationed in the region (not counting planes on aircraft carriers, or cruise missiles).
The numbers tell the tale: the U.S. is not carrying on a serious “war” against ISIS troop formations, which remain aggressive, mobile and effective in Syria. The Pentagon’s claim that fear of inflicting civilian casualties should be dismissed outright, coming from an agency that has killed between 1.3 million and 2 million people since 9/11, according to a 2015 study by Physicians for Social Responsibility.
American excuses concerning “poor intelligence,” “clumsy targeting,” “inexperienced planners,” “staffing shortages,” and “internal rivalries” might even contain some kernels of truth, since one would expect gaps in gathering intelligence and targeting information on jihadists that were considered U.S. assets, not enemies. And, there is no question that “internal rivalries” do abound in the U.S. war machine, with CIA-sponsored jihadists attacking Pentagon-sponsored jihadists in Syria – the point being, the U.S. backs a wide range of jihadists that have conflicts with one another.
The U.S. plays up the killing of Islamic State “leaders” and the blowing up of money caches. This is consistent with what appears to be the general aim of the Obama administration’s jihadist policy, now deeply in crisis: to preserve the Islamic State as a fighting force for deployment under another brand name, under new top leadership. The Islamic State went “rogue,” by the Americans’ definition, when it began pursuing its own mission, two years ago. Even so, the U.S. mainly targeted top ISIS leaders for elimination, allowing the main body of fighters, estimated at around 30,000, to not only remain intact, but to be constantly resupplied and to carry on a vast oil business, mainly with NATO ally Turkey. (The U.S. has also been quite publicly protecting the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, from Russian bombing, despite U.S. co-sponsorship of a UN resolution calling for international war against al-Nusra.)
To a military man like retired general Deptula, this looks like a “symbolic” and “anemic” campaign. It’s actually a desperate effort to balance U.S. interests in preserving ISIS as a American military asset, while also maintaining the Mother Of All Lies, that the U.S. is engaged in a global war on terror, rather than acting as the headquarters of terror in world. To maintain that tattered fiction, at least in the bubble of the home country, requires the maintenance of a massive and constant psychological operations apparatus. It’s called the corporate news media.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].