Thursday, 15 October 2009

Iraq Replay II

From Neo-conned! Again, D. L. O’Huallachain & J. Forrest Sharpe (Eds), (Norfolk, Virginia: IHS Press, 2007)

Chapter 3 Postscript: On Luttwak’s Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook
by Maurizio Blondet

It is not a recent book. Published by Harvard University Press in 1968, it is entitled Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook. Its author is Edward Luttwak, the well-known military expert who was an adviser on National Security to Ronald Reagan. He is Jewish, an ultra-conservative, and a militarist with known links to the CIA, to friends in the Pentagon, to the military-industrial complex, and, naturally, to JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

We will seek to present crucial passages from this old book, limiting ourselves to italicizing and commenting upon the ideas which could have been in the minds of those – if our hypothesis is correct – who orchestrated the tragedy of September 11.

Chapter 1: What is a Coup d’État?

A coup d’état is not necessarily assisted by either the intervention of the masses, or, to any significant degree, by military-type force. The assistance of these forms of direct force would no doubt make it easier to seize power, but it would be unrealistic to think that they would be available to the organizers of a coup.

If a coup does not make use of the masses, or of warfare, what instrument of power will enable it to seize control of the State? The short answer is that the power will come from the State itself.

A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the State apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder [JINSA infiltrated the Pentagon in precisely this manner].

Chapter 2: When is a Coup d’État Possible?

First of all, Luttwak lists the necessary “preconditions”:

1. The social and economic conditions of the target country must be such as to confine political participation to a small fraction of the population [this is the case in America where non-voters are the majority].
2. The target State must be substantially independent and the influence of foreign powers in its internal political life must be relatively limited [the United States is the only State remaining that enjoys these conditions].
3. The target State must have a political centre. If there are several centres these must be identifiable and they must be politically, rather than ethnically, structured. If the State is controlled by a non-politically organized unit [like the CFR, the representative of business] the coup can only be carried out with its consent or neutrality.

Already in the Preface, Luttwak underlined as essential the fact that the perpetrators of a coup must be able to count upon “the absence of a politicised community,” upon the apathy of the public. “The dialogue between the rulers and the ruled [upon which democratic legitimacy is founded] can only take place if there is a large enough section of society which is sufficiently literate, well fed and secure to ‘talk back.’” But “without a politicised population, the State is nothing other than a machine. Then the coup d’état becomes feasible because, like every machine, one can take control of everything by grasping the essential levers.” Now Luttwak identifies this “machine” in the Bureaucracy.

The growth of modern bureaucracy has two implications which are crucial to the feasibility of the coup: the development of a clear distinction between the permanent machinery of State and the political leadership [which changes], and the fact is, like most large organizations, the bureaucracy has a structured hierarchy with definite chains of command . . . . The importance of this development lies in the fact that if the bureaucrats are linked to the political leadership, an illegal seizure of power must take the form of a “Palace Revolution,” and it essentially concerns the manipulation of the person of the ruler. He can be forced to accept policies or advisers, he can be killed or held captive, but whatever happens the Palace Revolution can only be conducted from the “inside” and by “insiders” [in these pages, we have seen nothing but the work of insiders surrounding a weak President]. The State bureaucracy has to divide its work into clear-cut areas of competence, which are assigned to different departments. Within each department there must be an accepted chain of command, and standard procedures have to be followed. Thus a given piece of information, or a given order, is followed up in a stereotyped manner, and if the order comes from the appropriate source, at the appropriate level, it is carried out . . . . The apparatus of the State is therefore to some extent a “machine” which will normally behave in a fairly predictable and automatic manner.

A coup operates by taking advantage of this machine-like behaviour; during the coup, because it uses parts of the State apparatus to seize the controlling levers; afterwards because the value of the “levers” depends on the fact that the State is a machine.

Who are the best conspirators? Here is how Luttwak describes them:

All power, all participation, is in the hands of the small educated elite, and therefore radically different from the vast majority of their countrymen, practically a race apart. The masses recognize this and they also accept the elite’s monopoly on power, unless some unbearable exaction leads to desperate revolt . . . . Equally, they will accept a change in government, whether legal or otherwise. After all, it is merely another lot of “them” taking over [this is precisely the case of American society: a great mass of badly educated people, remains passive because of need, accepts the new capitalist flexibility so as to hold on to or find work].

Thus, after a coup . . . the majority of the people will neither believe nor disbelieve . . . . This lack of reaction is all the coup needs on the part of the people to stay in power.

The lower levels of the bureaucracy will react – or rather fail to react – in a similar manner and for similar reasons: the “bosses” give the orders, can promote or demote and, above all, are the source of that power and prestige . . . . After the coup, the man who sits at district headquarters will still be obeyed – whether he is the man who was there before or not – so long as he can pay the salaries . . . .

For the senior bureaucrats, army and police officers, the coup will be a mixture of dangers and opportunities. For the greater number of those who are not too deeply committed, the coup will offer opportunities rather than dangers. They can accept the coup and, being collectively indispensable, can negotiate for even better salaries and positions.

As the coup will not usually represent a threat to most of the elite, the choice is between the great dangers of opposition and the safety of inaction. All that is required in order to support the coup is, simply, to do nothing – and that is what will usually be done.

Thus, at all levels, the most likely course of action following a coup is acceptance . . . . This lack of reaction is the key to the victory of the coup.

Chapter 3: The Strategy of a Coup d’État

If we were revolutionaries, wanting to destroy the power of some of the political forces, the long and often bloody process of revolutionary attrition can achieve this. Our purpose is, however, quite different: we want to seize power within the present system, and we shall only stay in power if we embody some new status quo supported by those very forces which a revolution may seek to destroy . . . . This is perhaps a more efficient method, and certainly a less painful one, than that of a classic revolution [this is a perfection description of the neoconservative coup d’état].

Though we will try to avoid all conflict with the “political” forces, some of them will almost certainly oppose a coup. But this opposition will largely subside when we have substituted our new status quo for the old one, and can enforce it by our control of the State bureaucracy and security forces. We shall then be carrying out the dual task of imposing our control on the machinery of State while at the same time using it to impose our control on the country at large.

As long as the execution of the coup is rapid, and we are cloaked in anonymity, no particular political faction will have either a motive, or opportunity, to oppose us.

Chapter 4: The Planning of the Coup d’État

Whether it is a two party system, as in much of the Anglo-Saxon world, where parties are in effect coalitions of pressure groups, or whether they are the class or religion-based parties of much of continental Europe, the major political parties in developed and democratic countries will not present a direct threat to the coup. Though such parties have mass support at election time, neither they nor their followers are versed in the techniques of mass agitation. The comparative stability of political life has deprived them of the experience required to employ direct methods, and the whole climate of their operation revolves around the concept of periodic elections.

Though some form of confrontation may be inevitable, it is essential to avoid bloodshed, because this may well have crucial negative repercussions amongst the personnel of the armed forces and the police.

Chapter 5: The Execution of the Coup d’État

With detailed planning, there will be no need for any sort of headquarters structure in the active stage of the coup: for if there is no scope for decision making there is no need for decision-makers and their apparatus. In fact, having a headquarters would be a serious disadvantage: it would constitute a concrete target for the opposition and one which would be both vulnerable and easily identified . . . . We should avoid taking any action that will clarify the nature of the threat and thus reduce the confusion that is left in the defensive apparatus of the regime . . . . The leaders of the coup will be scattered among the various teams. [As we can see Luttwak is theoretically discussing an invisible coup d’état: the infiltrated coup participants speak with the voice of the legitimate government, of that which they have seized. On September 11, let’s remember, the immediate entourage of President Bush were not thinking of an Arab attack, but of a military coup d’état. It is for this reason that the President was taken to a secure location for 10 hours].

In the period immediately after the coup, they [the high level Civil Servants and Military Commanders] will probably see themselves as isolated individuals whose careers, and even lives, could be in danger. This feeling of insecurity may precipitate two alternative reactions, both extreme: they will either step forward to assert their loyalty to the leaders of the coup or else they will try to foment or join in the opposition against us. Both reactions are undesirable from our point of view. Assertions of loyalty will usually be worthless since they are made by men who have just abandoned their previous, and possibly more legitimate, masters. Opposition will always be dangerous and sometimes disastrous. Our policy towards the military and bureaucratic cadres will be to reduce this sense of insecurity. We should establish direct communications with as many of the more senior officers and officials as possible to convey one principal idea in a forceful and convincing manner: that the coup will not threaten their positions in the hierarchy and the aims of the coup do not include a reshaping of the existing military or administrative structures [this appears to be exactly the task of JINSA].

The masses have neither the weapons of the military nor the administrative facilities of the bureaucracy, but their attitude to the new government established after the coup will ultimately be decisive. Our immediate aim will be to enforce public order, but our long-term objective is to gain the acceptance of the masses so that physical coercion will not longer be needed . . . . Our far more flexible instrument will be our control over the means of mass communication . . . . In broadcasting over the radio and television services our purpose is not to provide information about the situation, but rather to affect its development by exploiting our monopoly of these media. [This is exactly what the American mass media has done since September 11.]

[The action of the media] will be achieved by conveying the reality and strength of the coup instead of trying to justify it [the emotional blow of the collapse of the World Trade Centre was presented with plenty of “reality” and “force” by CNN]. We will have fragmented the opposition so that each individual opponent would have to operate in isolation. In these circumstances, the news of any further resistance against us would act as a powerful stimulant to further resistance by breaking down this feeling of isolation. We must, therefore, make every effort to withhold such news. If there is in fact some resistance . . . we should strongly emphasize that it is isolated, the product of the obstinacy of a few misguided or dishonest individuals who are not affiliated to any party or group of significant membership. The constant working of the motif of isolation, and the emphasis on the fact that law and order have been reestablished, should have the effect of making resistance appear as dangerous and useless.

There will arise, Luttwak says, “the inevitable suspicions that the coup is a product of the machinations of the Company [American slang for the CIA]. This can only be dispelled by making violent attacks on it . . . and the attacks should be all the more violent if these suspicions are in fact justified . . . . We shall make use of a suitable selection of unlovely phrases [for example, anti-Americanism? Anti-Semitism?]. Even if their meanings have been totally obscured by constant and deliberate misuse, they will be useful indicators of our impeccable nationalism.”

It seems to this author that these paragraphs describe, with shocking precision, all that has taken place in America since September 11.

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