A System in Crisis and the Threat of Phoenix-style Counterinsurgency
By 2006 PNAC/Neo-Conservative project had been discredited. Clearly their grasp of geopolitics and its doctrinal application in terms of Rumsfeld's military doctrine had failed. As Wesley Clark famously revealed they had planned regime change operations in numerous countries but Iraq had become something of an albatross.
This is not to say that the 'war' wasn't continuing in earnest in not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but certainly the US agenda had destabilised the entire region as would soon be made clear.
But in terms of overt, openly declared White Paper-style doctrine, the Neo-Conservative project appeared to be at an end.
And yet clearly it wasn't. Some elements were put on pause, some were peeled off and faded away and yet in many ways the project continued on even if after 2006 it was reduced to running in the background.
The anti-Bush movement that arose in 2006 led to the election of Obama just two years later. While Obama preached change and reform, he instead allowed things to continue but with a more humane face. Some reforms were attempted and failed, others were disingenuous.
With the advent of Obama, what I have referred to as the Mainline or perhaps Globalist Establishment seemed to re-assert control and yet that probably doesn't tell the whole story.
The truth is that Obama came into office in the midst of a crisis, one which produced a great deal of chaos. This combined with fierce political gridlock meant that Deep State elements within the Pentagon and CIA were allowed to continue almost unchecked. Eventually it would seem Obama in his impotence and frustration in terms of the Congress seemed to embrace their agendas, escalated the Afghan conflict, unleashed the Drone War and expanded the powers of the surveillance state.
Some have argued Secretary of State Clinton representing certain actors within the Deep State pursued her own agenda which was often hidden from or even contrary to Obama's will. This is unclear but not impossible.
Obama in many ways continued the Neo-Conservative project with regard to geopolitics but reformed and reframed it in terms of multilateralism. In terms of Deep State controls over the domestic population Obama expanded the powers of the intelligence agencies.
The motivations and fears of the Deep State with regard to the rise in Internet technology, alternative media, social media, hacking and mobile phones were ratified by Obama's measures.
Obama clearly moved to not only 'save' Wall Street but in many ways handed them the keys to the kingdom... as if they didn't in many ways already possess them. Maybe we could say he gave them the keys to the back door as well as the deed itself. Betraying his base and without their knowledge he created conditions within the market and regulatory environment that allowed wealth to concentrate at levels never before seen. In many ways he embraced a platform that was not only the opposite of his electoral campaign but it could be argued that in certain aspects he out-Bushed George Bush.
As has become increasingly clear, from venture capitalists, to Fortune 500 companies to Silicon Valley, America's corporate empires have merged with the Deep State. This is done sometimes willingly, sometimes through profit-generating negotiation and in other cases through compulsion. The CIA and Pentagon are closely wedded to Wall Street. They have each other's backs as it were and represent the same forces. This has been true for decades but the reality came together like never before during the various crises of the late Bush and early Obama years.
And yet the Deep State can also be said to have splintered throughout these various arrangements. So much money and in some cases conflicting interests have contributed to the factionalisation of the movement.
The Establishment wing effectively appropriated the radical Deep State's mechanisms. What was once the province of the radical Rollback faction has now been embraced by factions associated with the Mainline. Assassination and the surveillance state once Deep State activities were now open and institutional. The off-books, secret or 'deep' agenda had to go deeper. The hypocritical betrayal perpetrated by Barack Obama with regard to the American Left cannot be overstated.
Bush's split in the intelligence bureaucracy and the fragmentation generated at the CIA permitted the rise of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as well as the proliferation of private security and intelligence contractors. JSOC was hardly new but under Bush it entered a golden age. Hand in hand with private contractors the Praetorian forces at the Executive's disposal became ever more powerful and at the same time clandestine. The relationships and interests they represented became even more complex. In some ways it could be argued that certain aspects of the Corporate State such as defense contractors, manufacturers of weapons systems and hi-tech surveillance technology were now postured somewhat differently than the interests focused on finance and trade. These lines are pretty blurry as there are overlapping interests and once again the categories are by no means mutually exclusive. But clearly there were and are occasions where their interests seem to clash. There have always been these episodes but the developments under Bush amplified them considerably and created hard feelings and a sense of enmity.
The ensuing bureaucratic battles between the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Central Intelligence (CIA), the Pentagon, State Department and other privatised interests led to not only fragmentation but conflict. In recent years there have been episodes of the various groups actually working at cross purposes in the field and in the realm of proxy wars, such as in Syria.
Eric Prince set himself up as a third incarnation of Will Bill Donovan or perhaps William Casey 2.0, a reformer and innovator, one who would re-cast the nature of US intelligence operations. The growth and focus on JSOC allowed the president to command his own paramilitary force that was far more robust and resourced then previous CIA manifestations which usually relied on proxy forces. Now the White House could strike and wage war and not even have to worry about Congressional oversight. The Unitary Executive, the Imperial Presidency had been reborn beyond any previous expectation.
Many believe Prince fell out of favour during the Obama years and suffered something of an exile. While plausible when considering the external evidence I have never fully accepted that narrative. If anything he's gone deep, or perhaps went deep for a few years, reorganised his Blackwater project and developed new areas of expertise. To some he's gone rogue, working for China and other dubious regimes. I don't believe it for a moment. It's a convenient narrative that has allowed him to set-up shop in parts of the world that are now the focus of US actions. Prince has been gathering intelligence and setting up networks. His rogue episode I consider as something akin to playing a privatised version of double agent.
Now with the Trump administration in power, Prince has returned to the forefront, even though he still occupies an unofficial position. He's made his goal clear, a return to the Phoenix Program, a comprehensive strategy of assassination, torture, clandestine activity, black sites etc... If you understand the work of authors such as Doug Valentine you'll grasp that Phoenix represented a turning point within the Deep State. It spawned not only modern concepts of counter-insurgency but even large-scale programmes such as Condor in South America.
Phoenix, the codename for the operation in Vietnam is usually associated with assassination. That was part of it to be sure, but in reality it was a comprehensive plan to militarise society, media, journalism and even thought. This is total war applied in terms of sociology. This is state terror through intimidation. This thinking continues to dominate the Deep State and it's clear that since 9/11 a very significant goal has been to turn this apparatus previously applied to Indochina and parts of Latin America...onto the American public itself.
The media and corporate worlds are clearly either collaborating or at the very least are compliant.
Fueled by the visions of Rumsfeld, McChrystal and men like Prince, Boykin and even CIA figures like James Woolsey, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is being utilised in part as a counter to the weakness produced by the creation of the DNI and instead provides the Executive Branch with an augmented paramilitary capacity. This vision has been incorporated within a larger militaristic posture with regard to foreign policy. It is clearly this faction that has come into power with the advent of Trump. If they're allowed, they will begin to turn the counter-insurgency apparatus and the violence of JSOC on the American public in order to crush opposition and solidify control.
Current formulations of counter-insurgency, its doctrinal basis and framework have been dominated by figures such as general's McChrystal, Petraeus and Mattis. This is a return to Phoenix-style operations, a golden age reborn for the radical militarists within the Deep State. Prince wants to expand this and in the capacity of a private contractor, implement it within the United States. Starting with event security, disaster zones and civil unrest, the comprehensive nature of the programme will eventually infiltrate and permeate all aspects of life.
Private military contractors that could operate openly in cooperation with the White House and National Security Council (NSC) under Bush, became Deep State operatives under Obama. They never went away but their agenda and certainly methodology faded into the background. The figures at the forefront ran into difficulty (at times) with the Obama administration. And yet at the same time when implemented within an institutional framework such as JSOC, Obama had no problem at all.
Regardless of which hierarchy was calling the shots and which figures had full control it's obvious the PNAC agenda continued. The Neo-Conservative ideologues were forced into the background and some of their leading operatives within government were reduced in standing and yet clearly the agenda had support from other sectors.
Within Wall Street, the Pentagon, the CIA and even the State Department the agenda (while modified) was able to persevere throughout the Obama years. The Syrian uprising was fomented and supported in a regime-change operation which as of this date has failed. The regime change/coups-d'état in Libya and Ukraine were resounding successes. Yemen's regime was forced out but is now preferred when faced with the Houthis who have come to power. Nevertheless the breaking of Yemen serves Washington's purpose. A Yemen under the Saudi boot is acceptable and though Washington has received some flak in the media, it's been minimal.
The Obama and Establishment Deep State prefer to see a greater focus on proxy war, drones, paramilitary operations, stepped up surveillance and new technologies.
The radical wing of the Deep State would have preferred to invade Syria and Yemen and establish clear control. They're not opposed to utilising the other tools but they have a much more direct and ideologically driven foreign policy.
The splintering of the Deep State which occurred in earnest from 2006-2010 had reached a point of crisis by the second term of the Obama administration. The stage was being set for a serious and potentially destabilising conflict.
Continue reading part 5
Continue reading part 5