by Dmitry Orlov
Club Orlov (October 20 2015)
Previously in this series of posts we outlined how inside the US special interests use political technologies to keep the population fooled. We also showed how these efforts will eventually fail, either through internal contradiction or because the parasites eventually end up killing the host. We will now turn our attention to political technologies used by the US against the rest of the world. This may seem like a digression from the task of addressing the question at hand of how to bring about social change in order to avert climate catastrophe but it is necessary.
The long list of political technologies used within the US to keep Americans fooled helped us show just how pervasive and destructive these technologies are. We are yet to see any ways to neutralize these technologies ?because Americans have failed to do so. To find examples of successful ways to neutralize them, we have to look at what the US has been attempting to do to the rest of the world and failing.
No matter how good America’s luck has been isolated geographic location, plentiful natural resources, the gigantic windfall of its victory in World War Two, the additional windfall of the Soviet collapse , the luck was bound to run out eventually. In fact, to a large extent it already has: as a purely practical matter, it simply isn’t possible to continue running roughshod over the entire planet if you run roughshod over your own population as well. The US has less than five percent of the world’s population, half of whom are obese, a third on drugs and a quarter mentally ill. It leads the world in deaths from gun violence, police murders and prison population. Half the children are born into poverty and a third into broken and nonexistent families. Over a quarter of the working age population is permanently out of work. By no stretch of the imagination is this a description of a group that can rule the world.
Beyond the simple matter of all good (or, if you prefer, evil) things eventually coming to an end, the rest of the world has evolved some effective antibodies against American political technologies, and some of them may be helpful in bringing about the rapid social changes that are needed in order to avert climate catastrophe. Before the US empire is swept away in a wave of confusion and embarrassment, we may be able to extract some useful lessons from it.
We can divide the political technologies the US uses against the rest of the world into three broad categories. Although the first two may not involve overt, physical violence at least not every time they are applied all three categories are actually forms of warfare / hybrid warfare.
1. International Loan Sharking
2. The Orange Revolution Syndicate
3. Terrorism by Proxy
John Perkins describes International Loan Sharking in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2012):
Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.
These efforts eventually produce a bankrupt country that is unable to service its foreign debt. Whereas in previous eras the US used gunboat diplomacy to extort payments from deadbeat countries, in a globalized economic environment this has been rendered largely unnecessary. Instead, the simple threat of refusing to provide liquidity to the country’s banks is enough to make it capitulate. In turn, capitulation leads to the imposition of austerity: health, education, electricity, water and other public services are either cut or privatized and bought up on the cheap by foreign interests; private savings are confiscated to make symbolic payments against a ballooning foreign debt; subsidies and tariffs are changed to benefit G8 nations to the country’s detriment, and so on. Society crumbles; young people, and anyone talented or educated, tries to emigrate, leaving behind the destitute old, the hopeless, and the social predators.
This political technology has worked a great deal of the time, most recently with Greece, Portugal and Ireland. But there are still some countries which, although integrated into the global economy, are politically able to withstand this juggernaut and insist on maintaining their sovereignty and on pursuing a set of policies independent from Washington’s dictate. In these cases, the US deploys a different political technology, which goes under the name Orange Revolution (although the actual colours vary). This technology uses large groups of nonviolent protesters to produce social disorientation, disorganization and disintegration, to render the political elites within a country impotent, and to exploit the moment of chaos and confusion in order to install a puppet regime that can be controlled from Washington.
The methods of Orange Revolution are often touted as a nonviolent way to bring about regime change. Gene Sharp, the great theoretician of nonviolent revolution, is insistent that all protest should be nonviolent. But the concept nonviolence, comforting though it is to delicate minds, needs to be set aside because it just plain doesn’t exist.
Just because a crowd isn’t throwing Molotov cocktails at police while illegally blocking access to a public building does not make it nonviolent. First, the use of a crowd for a specific purpose is already a form of force. Second, if the demonstration is illegal, and if restoring public order would require violence, then the crowd is using the threat of violence against itself as a weapon against the rule of law. Calling such a crowd nonviolent is tantamount to declaring that a man making demands while pointing a gun at his own head isn’t being violent simply because he hasn’t shot himself yet.
The architects of regime change insist on the use of “nonviolent” tactics specifically because they pose a much thornier problem for the authorities than an outright revolt. If the government faces an armed uprising, it knows exactly what to do: put it down. But when the youth of the nation parades around in matching T-shirts (that have been mysteriously shipped in from abroad) shouting deliberately anodyne, aspirational slogans, and the entire happening takes on the air of a festival, then the government’s ability to maintain public order gradually melts away.
When the conditions are right, the regime changers fly in the mercenaries with the sniper rifles, carry out a public massacre, and blame it on the government. These snipers appeared in Egypt in 2011 during the effort to topple Hosni Mubarak. They also appeared in Vilnius in 1991 and in Moscow in 1993. In Tunisia in 2011 they actually got detained. They had Swedish passports and Northern European faces. They said that they were there to hunt wild boar with sniper rifles, in Tunis.
Let us not allow ourselves to be misled: all three types of political technologies the US uses against the rest of the world are types of warfare / hybrid warfare and “nonviolent warfare” is an oxymoron. “Nonviolence” is a misnomer; with respect to Orange Revolutions, the correct term is “delayed use of violence”.
What transpires in the course of an Orange Revolution is typically as follows:
Phase 1: Groundwork. The action is instigated by a small, ideologically and politically unified, networked group of elite individuals sponsored by Washington’s NGOs, think tanks and the US State Department. Their goal is to appear to the government as “the voice of the people” and to the people as “the legitimate authorities”. They use methods of information warfare: hunger strikes, small demonstrations, speeches by dissidents and symbolic clashes with police in which the protesters play the victim. To hide the fact that they are a small, closed clique of outsiders and foreigners in Washington’s pay that has conspired to overthrow the government, they merge into large popular groups of citizens, infiltrate legitimate protest movements, and inject their specific slogans alongside popular public demands. Once they achieve a “virtual majority” and accumulate enough followers to march them out for a photo shoot so that Western media outlets can champion them as a popular protest movement, they move on to …
Phase 2: Destruction of Public Order. During this phase, the goal is to achieve maximum social disruption through nonviolent means. Streets and public squares are occupied by almost perfectly peaceful crowds of young people chanting moderate, popular slogans. They start by holding officially sanctioned demonstrations, then start probing the limits by changing the route or by holding meetings longer than scheduled. They start using ploys such a sit-down demonstration accompanied by the announcement of an indefinite hunger strike. While doing this, they actively propagandize the riot police, demanding that they be “one with the people” and trying to force them to become complicit in their at first minor transgressions against public order. As this process runs its course, public order gradually disintegrates.
During this phase, it is important that the protesters do not engage in any sort of meaningful political dialogue, because such dialogue may lead to a national consensus on important issues, which the government could then champion, restoring its legitimacy in the eyes of the people while sapping the protest movement of its power. The regime changers pursue the opposite strategy: of delegitimizing the government by proliferating all sorts of councils and committees that are then held up as democratic, and therefore legitimate, alternatives to the government.
The time of elections is a particularly opportune moment for the regime changers to exploit by claiming that there has been fraud at the polls and by using the social organizations they have infiltrated as fronts in order to claim to be speaking on behalf of the true majority. The White Ribbon Revolution in Bolotnaya (“Swamp”) Square in Moscow on May 6 2012, right before Putin was to be reinaugurated as president, went nowhere; in that instance, the regime changers broke their teeth, and their local operatives in the “opposition movement” are now some of the most widely despised people in Russia. (Hilariously, the little white ribbons, which were shipped into Russia from somewhere just in time for this action, had also been worn by Nazi collaborators during World War Two ? something many Russians knew while the foreign puppetmasters behind the fake protests clearly didn’t.) But almost the same technology did work later during the Euromaidan Revoluti on in Kiev in February of 2014.
When those tasked with protecting what’s left of public order become sufficiently worn down to react forcefully when the situation calls for it, the stage is set for …
Phase 3: The Occupation. During this phase, which, if effective, is quite short, the protesters storm and occupy a symbolically important public building. This is a very traditional revolutionary tactic, going back to the storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789, or the storming of the Winter Palace on November 7 1917. If the preparations were successful, by this point the government is too internally conflicted to act, the defenders of public order are too demoralized to follow their orders, or both. In some cases, as in Serbia, in Georgia and in Kyrgyzstan, this is all it took to move on to phase 5. The highly organized people behind the supposedly spontaneous blitz now declare themselves as the legitimate government, and demand that the real government obey them and step down. However, sometimes it doesn’t work, in which case there is always …
Phase 4: The Massacre. Mercenaries with sniper rifles are flown in and ushered into the upper floors of public buildings overlooking city squares where rallies and demonstrations are being held. By this time the defenders of public order are sufficiently demoralized by their inaction in the face of increasingly brazen challenges from the protesters that a few of them can be easily corrupted by large bribes from the foreign sponsors of the regime-change operation. They accept the money and depart from the scene, leaving doors unlocked or even handing over the keys. The mercenaries go to work and kill a hundred or so people. Western media immediately express outrage, pinning the responsibility for the massacre on the government, and demanding that it resign. The protesters are incited to immediately echo these slogans and a groundswell of misplaced outrage sweeps the government out of power, setting the stage for …
Phase 5: Regime Change. The new government, hand-picked by the US embassy and the US State Department, assumes power, and is immediately given recognition and support by Washington.
This strategy can be quite successful to a point. As we shall see, society can and sometimes does develop effective antibodies against it. It is notable that just about any government from the most democratic to the most autocratic ? is susceptible to it, the only real exceptions being absolute monarchs who can make heads roll the moment someone starts speaking out of turn, or those rulers who derive their legitimacy from a divine right that cannot be questioned without committing sacrilege.
The government has no good tactical options. It cannot declare the mass of protesters outside the law, because they are, after all, its citizens, and most of them are not even directly guilty of any administrative transgressions. But if it is to restore public order, it must crack down on the demonstrators. If it cracks down early, then it looks heavy-handed and authoritarian, handing ammunition to the protest movement. If it cracks down at the height of the protests, then it causes a lot of unnecessary casualties, turning much of the population against itself. And if it attempts to crack down when it’s too late, then it only ends up looking even weaker, accelerating its own demise.
But the government does have an excellent strategic option, provided it lays the groundwork for it beforehand. The problem with opposing this sort of supposedly nonviolent, externally driven regime change operation is that it cannot be effectively opposed by a government. But it can be quite effectively opposed and disrupted by a relatively small group of empowered individuals acting directly and autonomously on behalf of the people. This is the topic we will take up next.
We will not discuss the third method of regime change ?/Terrorism by Proxy because, frankly, it doesn’t work. It is yet to result in the installation of a stable puppet regime in any of the countries where it has been tried. It failed in Afghanistan: after the Soviets finally withdraw, the country became a failed state. America’s pet terrorists, termed al Qaeda, were then used as decoys to justify invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the decoys came to life and threatened to destabilize the region. The latest group of America’s pet terrorists, ISIS, who, as of this writing, are so impressed by the Russian bombing campaign against them that they are busy shaving off their beards and running away, has become a huge embarrassment for the US. Terrorism by Proxy does reliably produce failed states, and although some may claim that this is a reasonable foreign policy end-goal, it is very hard to argue that it is in any sense optimal.
In a sense, this is a requiem for these three political technologies.
The first one ? International Loan Sharking is not going to work too well going forward. Developing countries can now borrow from China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in which they can become shareholders. Countries around the world are unloading their dollar reserves and entering into bilateral trade arrangements that circumvent the dollar system. With its own finances in disarray, the US is no longer able to function as the purveyor of financial stability.
The Orange Revolutions have also largely run their course, because the political technology for neutralizing them is by now quite far along. The latest large-scale effort in the Ukraine in 2014 has resulted in a failed state. Subsequent efforts in Hong Kong and in Armenia fizzled.
Lastly, Terrorism by Proxy not only never worked correctly, but is now poised to prove hugely embarrassing for the Washington establishment. The Russians, with Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi help, are swiftly rubbing out America’s pet terrorists with equanimity and poise, while their erstwhile puppetmasters in Washington are visibly demoralized and spouting preposterous nonsense. But there are still some important lessons to be extracted from all this ? and we should extract them before it all gets covered by a thick layer of dust.