Scott has studied and written widely on what he calls the “deep state”, or “deep politics” – terms he uses to describe the deeper level of machinations that go on in politics beyond the awareness of the majority of people, about the corrupted mindset in Washington that produces for profit government, intelligence gathering, foreign policy and wars.
Here Scott talks with Paul Jay of the Real News Network about the many unanswered questions over what happened and did not happen at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Last week we heard Peter Dale Scott, former Canadian diplomat and University of California at Berkeley Professor, and author of Drugs, Oil, and War (2005), The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007), The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War (2008), talk with Paul Jay of The Real News in the first and second parts of a multipart series about the corrupted mindset in Washington that chooses who becomes president, and about the war machine that co-opted Obama into his escalation of a drug-corrupted war in Afghanistan.
Scott also talked about an “iceberg” analogy of US politics in which which “the visible part, the public politics, or, if you like, what goes on in the public state, is only a small percentage of the totality of what’s going on, a lot of this is not subject to the restraints of the Constitution at all”
Here in part 3 of the series Scott again talks with Jay, this time about something much more sinister that permeates American political reality penetrating and corrupting much deeper than the normal military-industrial complex we’ve read about in the past – about the fact that the way to succeed in Washington has become to support the next use of the war machine to attack its next chosen target – about privatized intelligence services creating for profit wars, representing a private business that has become a form of permanent government – and concludes that the only way he can see out of the mire is that “We have to pull back from the two-party system and start a new kind of politics. We have to essentially build a new kind of civil society in America. And this is not easy, and I’m not confident that it will happen. The most likely thing to happen is that America will just go into decline from overextension the way that Britain went into decline from overextension before it“.
To give you an example of how powerful they are, when it was clear that the intelligence about Iraq [had] been skewed and we went in because of weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there. And they commissioned (Science Applications International Corporation) SAIC to investigate what went wrong. And SAIC came up with a report that didn’t mention that some of the key people who had been saying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction had been saying that it would be necessary to deal with him militarily were people who were in fact working for SAIC. So when you give a private corporation the job of seeing whether we should go to war against a country, and then you give that same private corporation the job of finding out why false information was given, you can see that there has been a very, very deep corruption of the process of gathering and analyzing intelligence in Washington and SAIC.
JAY: Who are some of the individuals you referring to?
SCOTT: If you don’t mind, I’m going to read from an article by Donald Barlett that you already quoted from. This was David Kay, who was on the committee, and this is what he said in 1998 to the Senate Armed Services Committee, that Saddam Hussein, quote, “remains in power with weapons of mass destruction,” and that, quote, “military action is needed.” Wayne Downing, a retired general and proselytized for an invasion of Iraq, stating that the Iraqis, quote, “are ready to take the war … overseas. They would use whatever means they have to attack us.” Both of these men, David Kay and Wayne Downing, worked for SAIC. And so a decent analysis of what went wrong would have pointed to the fact that we were relying on people who had, really, a profit motive. I’m not saying that they did all of this thinking only of profit; I’m saying that they were totally part of this dominance mindset that I’m talking about, and they know that the way to succeed in Washington is to support the next target, the policy for the next use of the war machine.
JAY: Now, Robert Gates, Obama’s secretary of defense, used to be part of SAIC as well. Is that true?
SCOTT: Was on the board of directors of SAIC, yes. And, you know, for that matter, Mike McConnell was with Booz Allen Hamilton.
JAY: So, given the Obama administration, again, promises of a new mindset, has the role of SAIC and these kinds of companies changed in any way?
SCOTT: No. See, this is why I talk about deep politics.
SCOTT: Well, it certainly informs the vision of people around him. It was the neocon vision for the world. Brzezinski was certainly not a neocon, but on this point he sounds very much like them. You know, when [Paul] Wolfowitz and [Lewis “Scooter”] Libby were working for Cheney, when Cheney was secretary of defense back in 1992, they came up with this defense planning guidance draft which was later disowned, but it was the same thing, that we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role. And then there was a JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] strategic document, Joint Vision 2020, which for all I know is still in force, calling for “full spectrum dominance.” And this is a quote from the document: full spectrum dominance means the ability of US forces operating alone or with our allies to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations. I mean, this talk is just insane, but it is the language of geopolitics, and I think it’s the language that people learn in military schools. And that’s why it’s wrong to think it was just neocons. I’ve written something very recently and I’d like to quote it: all thought is socially conditioned, and at the center of large, highly developed societies, all bureaucratic thought is bureaucratically conditioned. But at the heart of dominant societies, this bureaucratic thinking slowly acquires the features of a dominance mindset, and those conditioned by this mindset come to participate in what I call the war machine. We saw it in Britain. And ironically, you know, when Britain started talking about global dominance, it was Sir Halford Mackinder, and the year was 1919, when Britain was already, after World War I, destined to no longer play the role that it played before. It’s a way, I think, of trying to keep the morale up. And I think that Brzezinski, when he wrote that book in 1997, he was worried that America would not be interested in playing the dominance role. And he, of course, is by background a Pole, for whom the great enemy in the world was Russia. And so he was trying to cheer America on to do things which it’s not capable of doing. His metaphor is The Grand Chessboard, which is, of course, a zero-sum model for world politics. The good sense of geopolitics is the way it’s been talked about by, say, Kissinger, when he says it’s seeking a mode of equilibrium in the world. And that, I think, is [inaudible] I think a better model than a chessboard for the world would be a canoe, an overloaded canoe with some very heavy players and it, and the art of geopolitics is to learn not to capsize the canoe.
JAY: And when you look at President Obama’s own statements during the election campaign when asked about foreign policy, he always rooted himself very clearly in what he said was the tradition of American pragmatic foreign policy, starting with Truman. He even included George Bush senior, Reagan. He never differentiated himself fundamentally, other than with George Bush junior. But the idea, even his opposition to the war in Iraq, had to do with that it was a stupid war that would weaken America’s ability to project power. So if you look at, in terms of Latin America, Afghanistan, his relationship with Russia, in terms of this either change of mindset or traditional, dominant theory of dominance, where do you put him after one year?
SCOTT: Well, as long as he’s trying to look forward to a second term, he’s going to fit into Washington. And I watched Brzezinski’s interview with you-a very good interview, I thought-and I can see how Brzezinski repeatedly said that he’s now no longer inside the system; he’s an outside adviser and remote from the way power decisions are made. I think that’s true. That allows him to be much wiser than he was when he wrote his book or when he had his famous interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998. He is a wise man now, and almost by definition that means he doesn’t have as much influence. The wise are not the people who prevail in Washington. So that Obama, now that he’s at the heart of things, he’s got to live with his joint chiefs, he’s got to live with his Democratic Party. I mean, a lot of us like to think that democracy is the answer, but if we mean by democracy the two-party system that we have, the two-party system is very definitely part of the problem, because he is going to get attacked. If he does anything to pull back from Afghanistan, if he does anything that looks like he’s knuckling under to those outside forces there, he will be jumped on by members of both parties, who are, of course, all elected with the same money from the same big donors. We used to emphasize how the big donors came from the military-industrial complex, but we have to add to that now, having seen what’s happened in the last couple of years, they’ve come also from Wall Street and the big banks. They’re all part of the same -.
Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, is a poet, writer, and researcher. His most recent books are Drugs, Oil, and War (2005), The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (2007), The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11 and the Deep Politics of War (2008) and Mosaic Orpheus (poetry, 2009).
This is part one of an interview in which Scott talks with Paul Jay of The Real News Network about the corrupted mindset in Washington that chooses who becomes president, and about the war machine that co-opted Obama into his escalation of a drug-corrupted war and is not just a bureaucratic cabal inside Washington, but rather is solidly grounded in and supported by a wide coalition of forces in society, and about the need for a new kind of American foreign policy.
SCOTT: I think I have talked about the deep state. I prefer now just to talk about deep politics, that there are things which we just don’t face in our society, things we’re not willing to talk about. With respect to Afghanistan, one of the things that we don’t want to face and talk about is the presence of drug trafficking in the plans of the CIA for controlling remote areas of this world. And when you have a number of facts which are not being talked about, our politics becomes more and more like an iceberg, in which the visible part, the public politics, or, if you like, what goes on in the public state, is only a small percentage of the totality of what’s going on, a lot of this is not subject to the restraints of the Constitution at all. And that’s the part that I call deep politics. The phrase “deep state” is a bit dangerous, ’cause it might make people think that there’s a secret Pentagon and a secret White House, it’s nothing like that. It’s more this matter of the mindset that I’m talking about.
JAY: When you described the war machine, you use the words “drug-corrupted war machine,” and everyone knows that Afghanistan is now the manufacturer of the majority of the world’s heroin, but it doesn’t ever get talked about as a policy issue or as an underlying driving force in this struggle for all sides. So talk about this.
SCOTT: Well, I would say, actually, it has become talked about in the last year, with the beginning of Obama’s campaign. You know, when Bush first went in in 2001, they had a list of the main refineries, and they were never touched, because America’s coalition for developing local support in Afghanistan was made up very largely of warlords who were involved in the drug traffic. Our principal ally was going to be [Ahmad Shah] Massoud, and there was a big debate in Washington, before we went into Afghanistan, whether to make him an ally or not, because they knew he was involved in the drug traffic. Well, he was in fact assassinated, just a day or two before 9/11. But the Northern Alliance, which was the only faction in Afghanistan in that year that was growing poppy, they were our allies. And if you look at almost any newspaper story about drugs in Afghanistan, it’s going to be talking about the Taliban. But the Taliban are getting at most about a tenth of the revenues that are being raised by opium and heroin in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of it is going to the big warlords who essentially make up, to this day, the coalition that are supporting [Hamid] Karzai in Kabul.
The “dark nexus” of the world is where its most secretive business is conducted, such as the bribes and secret payoffs that Sibel Edmonds recently revealed were behind a nuclear proliferation ring that involved many top U.S. officials. According to a recent compelling article by Chris Floyd (whose descriptor above I have quoted), this “shadowlands” is “where covert operations, criminal networks, terrorism, high finance and state policy mingle, and battle, in profitable murk.” I believe Peter Dale Scott famously called this essential, if diabolical aspect of modern history, “deep politics.”
Floyd likens the recent Edmonds tale to that of the scandal around BCCI, “the ‘Bank of Credit and Commercial International,’ a supposed financial group that a U.S. Senate investigation called ‘one of the largest criminal enterprises in history'”.