Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book review: Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility & Desirability of Peace

Hoax!?... who cares?
Too much time is wasted discussing whether Report From Iron Mountain (RFIM) was a hoax or not. This latest edition comes with 20 pages of Foreword by Leonard Lewin and Victor Navasky (of [book:Naming Names Victor Navasky] fame), laboriously drumming out why RFIM should be dismissed as a hoax. In my opinion, they doth protest too much, but regardless what you choose to believe, RFIM provides sufficient references in the endnotes to substantiate its contents, however they may have been intended.

The value of war
The premise of this document is that a special Cold War-era think tank (the “Special Study Group”, or SSG) was tasked with evaluating what challenges the USA would face if a prolonged peace occurred. To assess the impact, the SSG outlines the role of war in society. As you might guess, war is a foreign policy device: a tool-of-last resort to enforce policies, advance national goals, protect/defend territories, etc. Somewhat less intuitive, however, are the “secondary benefits” of war (Section 5, beginning p.51):
1. Economic- the defense (war) sector of the economy is completely under the control of the government, and is relatively protected from the boom/bust cycles of the private sector. Thus, defense spending (via civilian contracting) is a powerful tool with which the government can stimulate or moderate the domestic economy.
2. Political- the threat of external enemies tends to unite the public, quell dissent and bolster support for the sitting regime. The widespread domestic support for George W. Bush in the days immediately following 9/11 seems to illustrate this point sufficiently.
3. Sociologic- service in a standing army provides a socially and legally sanctioned mechanism for people with violent tendencies (and even criminal records!) to channel their energies. Peacetime police forces also help serve this function.
4. Ecologic- cynically, RFIM designates war as the primary mechanism our species has of preventing global overpopulation.
5. Scientific War is a major impetus driving new research and development, in ALL areas of scientific inquiry.
6. Cultural War-related propaganda (Tom Clancy novels and military-themed video games, I suppose) influences popular culture, helps set the moral tone, and promotes/sanctions certain values, which helps leaders of the war establishment steer development of society. Some of these also support the sociologic function(#3, above) by providing avenues for release of primal violent urges.

The tail wags the dog
The SSG goes on to say that war is so critical to society that warmaking is not just a feature of all modern societies, but is actually the bedrock foundation upon which they are built. In fact, it contends that the needs of society do not dictate the circumstances of wars, rather the needs of the warmaking machine do… and the function of government (through the media) is merely to produce a believable and palatable pretext. Maybe this is the hoax part of the Report (yuk yuk) but it’s not really outrageous by the standards of what think tanks conclude all the time.
Don’t believe me? Consider the now-famous 1997 “Project for a New American Century (PNAC)" think tank. Composed of such “visionary thinkers” as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, PNAC concluded (among other things) that what America really needed was a Pearl Harbor-type attack on the homeland (fulfilling the Political benefits of war, above). By an amazing, incredible, unbelievable cosmic coincidence PNAC got their wish in the form of 9/11, only four years later, when many of its principals were in high office, and actively coordinating the nation's response to the attacks... but I digress. You can read more about it, if you like, in [book:Crossing the Rubicon|83500]

The problem with peace
Moving along, SSG turns to exploring the question of how to maintain society in the face of prolonged peace. Noting the above, SSG concludes that in the absence of war, our national leaders would need to devise some alternative to achieve war's functions. Their various suggestions include: a massive space exploration program, staging a fake invasion by space aliens (p.81) poisoning the world’s water supply or (re)introducing slavery. (If this is satire, Mr Lewin, don’t quit your day job.)

Embrace the dark side
These suggestions are not exhaustive, and they don’t need to be. Moderate exposure to this cynical mindset is sufficient to make the book's point. Hoax or not, RFIM encourages us to experiment interpreting current events from a much more Machiavellian perspective than most of us would otherwise be comfortable with. Sadly, this mindset does frequently lead to more plausible and satisfying interpretations of historic and current events. Is ultra-cynical pessimism always the correct context? Of course not. Informed citizens always need to do their own due diligence. Every citizen must use his own common sense to decide for himself how best to interpret information. RFIM's utility is in showing us just how sick think tanks can be -and that is really the value of this book. Consider a few examples:

1) The practice of “false flag” terrorism (e.g. Gulf of Tonkin Incident, or USS Maine) is a direct illustration of the political function of war.
2) As Naomi Klein documents so beautifully in her book [book:Shock Doctrine|1237300], natural disaster mimics the political benefits of war, by inducing exploitable public submission to unpopular government initiatives during times of emergency.
3) Unproven ideas such as manmade global warming, or (Hubbart’s idea of) “peak oil” may have a basis in reality, but are suspect because of the agendas they have been linked to, particularly when the offical responses to these directly link to desired ecologic and political functions. The idea of manmade global warming has been evoked to justify a global carbon tax payable to private banks. "Peak oil” is likewise linkable to austerity measures, including (but not limited to) government-controlled petroleum rationing. Both of these subjects (real or not) have been evoked to justify aggressive population control programs (the ecologic function of war).
3) Over the past 100 years, the increasingly violent, even gladiatorial, nature of popular sports (from innocuous baseball to football to WWF wrestling to ”extreme” cage fighting..) seems to be geared to serve the social and cultural secondary functions of war.

So what is this all about?
What is the significance of an alleged think tank document investigating contingencies for a sustained world peace? Is there a larger context to all this? I think there is. RFIM was published in 1967. About this same time (1966), Carroll Quigley first published Tragedy and Hope [book:9780945001102], in which he outlined how a cabal of international banks grasped they might manage to merge Western democracies and Communist block nations under a monolithic, bank-controlled totalitarian oligarchy. By folding all the players of the Cold War together into a single unit, one of the challenges this “New World Order” would face is how to manage the world population under conditions of sustained peace. In 1971, Gary Allen published [book:None Dare Call It Conspiracy|811022], in which he provided additional information on how this might be achieved. That same year, Zbigniew Brzezinski released Between Two Worlds, detailing how emerging computer technologies might be employed to manage an authoritarian global government. Two years later, Brzezinski and his buddy David Rockefeller (then CEO of Chase Bank) would co-found the Trilateral Commission , to unite the ruling classes of America, Europe, and Japan in common purpose to integrate their political and economic systems under a single monolithic government.
… So it seems that RFIM was written during a time when academics and think tanks were contemplating the construction of a unipolar world government. Regardless whether RFIM is a hoax, there is little doubt that contingency planning for a sustained planetary peace was seriously investigated by at least some of these groups. Knowing what we do about think tanks and the way they tend to approach questions, there is also little doubt that RFIM can’t be too far from what these groups would conclude. It may be satire, but like a court jester whose humor comes from speaking the truth too plainly, there is sufficient reason to pay it heed. It is yet another voice in a growing chorus of evidence that globalist banking elites are constructing a planetary totalitarian oligarchy.

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