As a follow-up to a previous post on the subject, I have a few more words about terrorism. Before, I discussed a few of the features that make terrorism the perfect motivation for war from the viewpoint of the state. I alluded to one but did not say enough about it. That feature is how it’s self-sustaining.
It was pointed out several years ago by many people on many sides that every innocent Afghan or Iraq killed by American might would only spur ten more into anti-American action. The same applies to drone strikes in Yemen or Pakistan today. The stupidity of the Department of Defense and the CIA exasperated all the anti-war people*—to think that they would do something so obviously bound to create more enemies!
Anyone familiar with public choice should not be surprised. Politicians and bureaucracies always try to perpetuate and extend their influence and power. Why would the CIA care that it is creating more enemies? Terrorism is the perfect justification for the boundless expansion of the intelligence-military-industrial complex’s budgets and mandates, so why should they try to put themselves out of a job?
Remember that the US government financed the training of the mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and provided their weapons. Only the most hopelessly naive could doubt that the CIA must have been on the ground as well. Years later, out of that movement would arise Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda and the most wanted man in the world. The new movement of which he was a large part would be the next great enemy.
In retrospect, it might seem short-sighted for the US IMI complex to have supported the mujahideen—and it is, from a regular person’s point of view. But from their point of view, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
I stop short of saying they intend for this to happen. All government agencies have a tendency to focus on the very near term, and the rise of a new world-class enemy is many years in the making. But surely there are honest people inside the IMI complex who saw what the rest of the world saw, that they were only making more enemies? We have every reason to believe this idea was raised and considered. We know that if so, the leadership decided it wasn’t a good enough objection to stop any of the various US government war measures. Would that have been because they didn’t think it would have a big impact, or because that big impact will lead to many delightful tasks for the IMI complex in the future?
I want to emphasize than even though I disagree with most of what they do, all of those agencies contain honest people who truly believe in keeping Americans and possibly even foreigners safe. The problem with government agencies like these is that it doesn’t really matter what the motivations of the individual workers are; all of their efforts are directed, whether they like it or not, towards the ends that the leadership chooses. And we already know the worst rise to the top in government.
At the end of the day I can’t say firmly that blowback is a feature, not a bug. But there are reasons worth considering that it might be so.
* Back before most of them revealed themselves to oppose only Republican-led wars.