Thursday, November 15, 2012

Petraeus and the Fierce Struggles for Imperial Power

by Jack D. Douglas

Almost everyone analyzing the many political crises and scandals erupting at the top of the U.S. is overlooking the Big Picture of the vast struggles for power at the top. There are always such struggles in powerful nations and in vast imperial powers there are commonly fierce struggles. Even totalitarian regimes in which "one man dictatorship" is what people outside see are riven with fierce struggles at the top. Hitler by the late 1930's was about as close to being a one-man dictator as anyone ever is. He is still referred to that way routinely in the U.S. But that was the Public Front he worked furiously to maintain while carrying out fierce struggles of many kinds against the SA heads, against most of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht which was led by the top General Ludwig Beck, and against many other plotters, some of whom eventually joined von Stauffenberg's Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler and sue for peace with the West.

I and many other people have been writing about these struggles at the top in the U.S. for many years. They were fierce in the Vietnam era of the 1960's and into the 1970's and involved many conspiratorial groups from the generals to the FBI, the Kennedy and LBJ coalitions, and so on. They are every bit as fierce now.

The U.S. government, Fed, et al., have produced The Greatest Financial Crisis in history and are digging this Black Hole deeper and deeper; they have triggered vast catastrophes in the Middle East and Central Asia, especially in Afpak; they have pushed Western investment in China which has transformed China from a poverty stricken cauldron of civil wars into the most mighty industrial power and a great power in general; they have recently been threatening a Global Financial Implosion by threatening a Great War against Iran which can shut down the Persian Gult oil, and wars against Russia and China that could become nuclear showdowns.

There are vast political and military and secret police conflicts over all of these. These are life-and-death issues for the U.S. Empire and nation and it is impossible to get agreement among all the elites who are "All In" on the Empire and nation in such life-and-death issues, especially in a nation as torn as the U.S. is, just like totalitarian Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalin's USSR, Imperial Japan and FDR's U.S. Anyone who has seen historically truthful movies about any of these will remember some of the striking portrayals of political revolts against the "one man dictators" or "party dictators."

Though the conflicting elites and agencies are carrying all of these vast struggles out in great secrecy, with leaks in the vast Media Warfare involved in all of this, and struggles cut in many directions and change over time, some general properties of the Big Picture of the struggles for power now seem reasonably clear.

The top U.S. military people in the Army and Navy and many officers and grunts at all levels are clearly extremely angry at the political leaders who are largely fighting each other to a state of near paralysis. The Army brass and to a lesser extent the Navy brass have in recent years been largely making the decisions about the wars and potential wars. I have argued, for example, since Bush 2 and his Neo-Con conspirators began strangling Iran that the military brass has been quietly opposing such a vast war that could produce a global implosion, that this has continued for the most part in opposition to the Obama conspirators and Israelis conspirators who keep tightening the nooses around Iran. [For one thing, I cannot imagine the Navy admirals have become so incompetent that they would actually support having their most vital ships in the Persian Gulf pond with vast Russian-Chinese, top-grade missiles and much else within striking range from the vast nation of Iran.] I think they have mostly been appalled by Obama's flip-flops in the Middle East and his support of utopian schemes like "Democracy in Syria" which are producing vast chaos and possible armageddon at the middle of all that oil and gas and vast populations.

These subterranean struggles broke out into the open when Gen. Petraeus' subordinate in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal, went along quietly with his top staff officers openly making fun of political leaders around Obama which got into Rolling Stone. I believed then and believe now that those officers were just expressing the secret views of almost all competent officers from the field to Petraeus at Central Command and that they directed their contemptuous spoofing at Biden only to avoid directly showing contempt for the Emperor. Biden is actually knowledgeable about foreign affairs, while Obama knows very little and entered the White House very ignorant.

I think the officers, especially those top brass in Afghanistan, have gotten more furiously opposed to the politicians recently as the politicians moved quietly behind the scenes to try to get a Fig Leaf Agreement with the Taliban and other major guerrilla groups of Afpak so the U.S. can withdraw behind the fig leaf to avoid looking like losers right away and deserters of the totally corrupt and incompetent Karzai regime the U.S. imposed by corruption on the Afghans. This would make Obama et al. popular at home and allow them to deal with bigger, more deadly crises at home, but it would make the "All In" brass the "Losers," very much like Westmoreland et al. were hung out to dry and swing in the winds in Vietnam by LBJ, Nixon et al. [N.B. I totally support getting out--and never getting ALL IN anywhere. But I can understand how the brass and so many lower officers and grunts and their families feel--betrayed.]

Petraeus has been one of the top, secret opponents of the politicians, in my estimate the "top dog" of what has been emerging slowly as the Real U.S. government behind the political front in Washington.

The politicians and the FBI, probably the only secret police agency they can count on along with the Secret Service, set out certainly by the time of the McChrystal eruption, to secretly set up these conspirators to regain control over them. They did this with all the SOPs of secret police from the early days of the Soviets, Hitler and the Gestapo and special ops, FDR and Hoover, et al. They use "honey pots" to lure them into crimes and scandals, informants to spy on them, traitors to lie about them, and on and on.

When Benghazi erupted into massive public view Obama et al. quickly started a SOP op to shift blame to others, such as the CIA, by lying in all necessary ways. Petraeus made it clear he was not going to take the blame as Director of the CIA and the latest internecine struggle was on. The Obama-FBI plot to get Petraeus by giving him a deal he can't refuse was set in rapid motion to keep him from testifying as head of the CIA to the Senate Intelligence Committee, an admiral in command of an attack carrier Task Force near Iran and Libya was summarily removed from command, the Seal officers who revealed some of the Lies of Obama's Hero Story about killing bin Laden were strongly reprimanded and their careers almost certainly ended in the near future, and it keeps erupting.

I think the politicians immediately seized their reelection as a proof of their power to try to put down the military and secret police conspiracies and they were flying sky high with hubris so they did not think much of the dangers of doing this.

No one who is not at the heart of these vast, conspiratorial struggles for power at the top of the U.S. can have any clear idea of where they are now headed. I doubt the conspirators really do, though anyone sky high on Hubris may think he knows and can make whatever he wants happen.

I certainly do not have prophetic powers to predict the outcomes of such vast power struggles at the top of the Greatest Empire in history. My best guess is that anything can happen. This seems very explosive and seems to be getting more so in the midst of these vast crises the U.S. and the world are trapped in now. I keep wondering what might have happened to Hitler when he managed to outwit and betray Beck and most of the other top staff officers of the Wehrmacht and Abwehr [military intelligence], if those officers had commanded many thousands of Special Ops killers and Hitler had not long before started the vast SS with their personal allegiance all down the line to him. And what might have happened to De Gaulle as Pres. of France when he pulled out of Algeria and let the brass take the blame as "Losers," if the brass in Algeria had had their own jets and Special Ops and helicopter assault ships and Hell Fire drones.

Oh, of course, such things cannot happen in the happy Let's Pretend land of the U.S., no matter what happened to people like JFK and Nixon who tried to get control of the brass and CIA and negotiate a withdrawal from Vietnam and a detente with the Soviets that they fiercely opposed. Things like that can't happen in the U.S. any more than Great Financial Crises and military defeats by small peasant nations can.

Perish such thoughts and have a nice day.

Still, I have to admit all of this makes me a bit queazy and glad I'm not in the White House. Maybe knowing the history of other empires and this one makes me a wimp.

Jack D. Douglas is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth of the Welfare State.

The above originally appeared at and is reprinted with permission.


  1. Jack is right on the power struggles.

    He is wrong about the officers wanting to stay in Afghanistan.

    Everyone wants out of Afghanistan. It should have never been expanded. It should have stayed a relatively small operation, focused on advice and training.

    Also, no one forced anything on the Afghans by corruption. What we call corruption is part of the social fabric of alliances and deals there. The loyalty there is to the tribe, the Gul, the Khan. Lots of people there want a national identity. But each presumes it must be 'his guys' who will run things they way his tribe does it.

    Localism can work in Afghanistan.
    Centralized power cannot work long there.

    The power struggle at the top is not about what people want to do 'over there'. It is about what people want to do 'over here'.

    More purges coming soon.

  2. What about these vast mercenary armies, who controls them ?
    Or will they take a different path ?

  3. This article expresses also my thoughts on the situation.
    The withdrawal from AfPak is the decisive point. Obama wants to withdraw and he prepared the withdrawal by "officially" eliminating Bin Laden. It doesnt matter who was actually killed as Bin Laden (many believe that Bin Laden is dead since long) important is the "official"mastermind of 9.11 is dead - thus the American public is satiesfied insofar and the withdrawal from AfPak is widely accepted.

    The withdrawal is insofar crucial because Afghanistan is of greatest importance. Once the US is gone the Chinese will quick gain more influence and in a few years the commodity rich Afghanistan is going to be a mayor supplier to the Chinese economy. And these commodities are going to be paid in Renmimbi not in Dollar since the Chinese economy is then catering to Afghanistan all kinds of goods and services. This means the Renmimbi is substituting the US Dollar in Afghanistan as it happened already in Iran. And this could mean the end of the Dollar reign as the wolrds money. And this would have the consequence that the US military industrial complex is not anymore financed by endless Dollar streams newly printed and funneled into the world economy. This is then over and all the funding has to come from the US taxpayers in the future. This would mean a extrme dramatic downsizing of the military similar to the breakdown of the sowjet Union

    1. Afghanistan is not a financial decisive point for either the US or China.


      It would cost more to get at the resources there than they are worth - which is why no one has done it before now.

      The tribal culture would raid your supply lines, and blow up your railroads & pipelines for want of a bigger bribe. There is no market to be made there.

      The idea that military people want to stay in Afghanistan as the last bastion of Military-Industrial-Complex power is nuts too. The complex has plenty of boogymen to scare you with. They don't need Afghanistan.

      The military DON'T want their efforts there to be wasted. And everyone is angry at the deterioration since 2009.

      And none of this is related to either the election (marker of the timing) or to any current or near future event (withdrawal).

      Lacking some reason to suspect a Military opposition to the President overseas, you have to look elsewhere to determine why this has been orchestrated.

      Q: Why do the administration's allies SAY THEY DON'T LIKE AND DON'T TRUST the military and veterans.

      A: They believe that the military and Veterans are right-wing extremists who will support the constitution regardless of a majority vote, and have defined them as 'potential domestic terrorists'. So, if their own written sentiments are to be included in any analysis, you must consider that their current actions against military officers may be related to those sentiments.

      Q: How much has the military expanded since the 1993 drawdown?

      A: The Reserve force has shrunk - no one likes to be deployed. The active Army end-strength was set in 1993 - which was the smallest since before WWI - at around 418,000. Due to the perceived lack of future in the military, by 2000 the Army was unable to meet recruiting goals and had self-drawn down to 376,000. The current Active end-strength is about 479,000.

      So, where's the big draw-down?????

      The money goes to crony's and to the Assistant Secretaries of the Services, who spend it on their cronies. It doesn't go to the operational units except as boondoggle products like the MWRAP - mine & IED-resistant trucks that weigh as much as a tank, can't drive on any but the highest-grade highways, and highways and consume the operational unit's budgets for things the REALLY want - like rifle range time, schools, and other training.

      You're looking under a rock for butterflies. Sorry, no one here but us grubs and grunts. Your butterflies live in the beltway, and can sell things we don't need to their cronies in DHS just as easily as to DoD.

      No. This affair has to do with how the administration and their allies view the military and their expectation that the military would interfere with something they dearly want.


      Instead you are worried about the most coherent, consistent, and sizable Ron Paul voting block? (Military)

      I swear, most people don't realize that they inherited their attitudes from an immigrant ancestor - who himself held the view because it has always been common practice in Europe to use a branch of the military as a domestic police force.

      Guess what?

      You don't have that with the US military. While some might do it, the vast, vast bulk of US Military are agreed that law enforcement is NOT A LAWFUL MILITARY DUTY.

    2. The military DON'T want their efforts there to be wasted. And everyone is angry at the deterioration since 2009.

      You say it. It appears to everybody with a clear mind as an absolute idioticy to stay and fight in Afghanistan, trying to bring the western life style and democracy. Its a joke.
      As a hippy I traveled in 1975 a lot in Afghanistan all over the country. Its indeed ethnically diverse but, believe it or not these were very cultivated people then. Open and friendly, I remember that I helped some young guys with the homework. They studied the German language. Of course as an Islamic country women were treated not according to western standards. They were treated according to their traditions and laws. Just like in many other parts of the world.

      The Chinese have build a harbour in South Pakistan for the gas. The company Metallurgical Corp of China agreed with Karzay 4 years to build railways in the Himalaya, to build a copper smelter and to start the mining in an area what is the biggest copper depot in the world. Im sure there are many project just waiting to get started. The Chinese are very welcome because they did not destroy the country as the Russians and the US did.
      The thing is the Afghans are not stupid. They only want to be their own masters and they want that the bulk of the money made from the natural riches stays in the country for development. The Chinese will act in such a way. While the US/UK would just extract the wealth and leave catastrophies behind. The US never made an offer to the Afghans which was attractive for them. Afghanistan plus the Southern tribal places as Beloudschistan are treasure boxes. The Brits started before WWI already to build a railway into Beloudschistan because there is a lot of value which can be extracted. The only hindrance are the locals.
      The war in Afghanistan is only about the control of the Afghan riches. The control over the riches overthere was worth the war in case the US would have been succesful. But they arent and now they are bankrupt.