Elites Know Their Foreign Policy Endangers America

I want to draw special attention to today’s Gareth Porter piece, which essentially describes a post-9/11 US foreign policy directly aimed at exacerbating the terrorist threat and convincing the Muslim world that America is against them. What’s worse, much of the leadership in Washington understands this, including and especially the intelligence community.

Porter cites the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism which said that the Iraq war was “breeding deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” It was also admitted, writes Porter, by former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier who said the war “has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq.” Night raids in Afghanistan, which have been ramped up by Obama to become one of the primary military approaches in the country, get the wrong person 50 percent of the time according to senior commanders in JSOC. Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recognized that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the drone strikes, which kill exorbitant numbers of civilians.

The national security community and the political elite understand the effect of US policy very well. It’s really very difficult to have inside knowledge of how US policy manifests and not understand how it exacerbates hatreds toward America. The State Department cable I wrote about in which a hellish, overcrowded torture chamber in Iraq in 2006 held 1,400 Iraqis, many of whom were illegally detained, was certainly known about in the higher echelons of our government. Prisoners there were beaten by US-supported Iraqi interrogators to the point of broken bones and lesions, tortured by a hook and pulley contraption, threatened with anal rape and forced to fellate their interrogators…it would be a remarkable achievement if those who understood these facts didn’t understand how counterproductive it was.

Or take the recent report from Human Rights Watch which details “serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids” by US-supported militias like the Afghan Local Police (ALP). In March 2011, General Petraeus told the US Senate that the ALP is “arguably the most critical element in our effort to help Afghanistan develop the capacity to secure itself.” This “critical element” is known among many local Afghans to have abducted and raped a 13 year old boy, beat a number of other boys senseless, and have even hammered nails into the feet of at least one boy. Ordinary Afghans know this. US national security planners know they know it. And many in the upper echelons of the American political system know it will breed future horrors and threats to America. They’re not stupid. They’re irrational.

As Porter mentioned, and as any close reader of these issues knows, individual actors within the national security elite can know and understand how dangerous are these aggressive, murderous policies toward the Muslim world. But the system within which they operate is structured such that their actions don’t align with their quiet admission of blowback. The system is one in which the military and corporate sectors are closely aligned and both have a perceived interest in expansion, by whatever means; coupled with a political and national security establishment seeking to maintain dominance, at all costs. Add to that the last, essential ingredient of a largely ignorant public which is – on the whole – quite taken with nationalism, big government, and militaristic state-worship. With this, these (again, not stupid) individuals seem to swim with the tide and maintain their status as opposed to suggesting America alter its policy to avoid committing atrocities and inciting hatred, and thus endangering America.