by Douglas Valentine
August 30, 2010
The politics of terror are the greatest covert
In explaining why, I’ll begin by defining some terms, because, when
discussing the covert op called “the politics of terror,” words and their
management are all important.
How are politics and terror actually defined: how are these meanings
manipulated; for what purposes, and by whom?
Terrorism is defined as "violence against civilians intended to obtain a
political purpose." This is an ambiguous phrase, which begs the questions:
what are politics and violence?
Politics is defined as,
“the process by which groups of people make
And violence is the use of force to compel a person
or group to do or think something against their will. That includes the
violence of words - of threatening to hurt - and of social structures, as
well as the violence of deeds.
So, by definition, terrorism is political violence - hurting people, or
threatening to hurt them, in order to make them govern themselves against
In America, terrorism is always condemned by the government, and,
accordingly, America is never a perpetrator of terrorism, but always the
victims of it. The US war on terror is the ultimate expression of this
principle: it is a military response to terrorism; violence in self-defense,
not (ostensibly) violence for a political purpose.
That’s the official story - the assumption. But I’m going to show that
America does engage in terrorism - violence against civilians for political
This “state” terrorism, however, is covert, in so far as it is
equated with national security, and thanks to that built-in ambiguity, it
has both stated and unstated purpose.
The State and Unstated Policy in America
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions.
The two political parties represent the people and they compete for control
of the government. Republicans generally favor business and Democrats favor
labor. The political division is, generally, class based.
Now, the government can be controlled by either political party; but the
state endures - “the state” being the nation’s indispensable industries and
infrastructure (banking, auto industry, insurance, Microsoft), and the
institutions which defend the nation’s enduring interests: the military, law
enforcement, the intelligence & security services.
In Europe they often, cynically, refer to the state as “industry” or Big
Business. In America we tend to call “the state” the Establishment
ambiguous word that needs to be defined.
The dictionary defines Establishment as,
exclusive group of powerful
people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and
I would venture to say that the interests of the state and the
Establishment are the same, and that the definition of Establishment with a
capital E is the pivotal phrase in discussing “state” terrorism.
Consider this: there is the politics of the two parties vying for control of
the government, and there is the Establishment, the state, making the covert
(ostensibly non-political) decisions that effectively govern America .
Many of those covert decisions concern national security: they are unstated
Moreover, these covert policy decisions about national security are made by
people who control the military, law enforcement, and intelligence &
security services. These guardians of “the state” are collectively called
the National Security Establishment.
Like the Establishment that secretly rules the “state,” the National
Security Establishment is an exclusive group that is not accountable to the
political whims of the people.
These professional guardians of the state - the Establishment - are assumed
to be above partisan politics. Their loyalty is assumed to be to the law or
national security. And that assumption is the Big Lie upon which state
terrorism is based.
Yes, it is true that the National Security Establishment is not accountable
to the people: and, in fact, it has built a series of ever-larger,
concentric moats around itself called the National Security State ,
precisely to keep the people out of its business.
The National Security Establishment rules the National Security State, with
an iron fist, but it is pure propaganda that the National Security
Establishment and State are not political.
In order to get inside the National Security Establishment, and rise to a
position of authority within it, one must be born there (like Bush - make a
billion like Gates), or submit to years of right-wing political
indoctrination calibrated to a series of increasingly restrictive security
Political indoctrination - adopting the correct right-wing ideology - and
security clearances represent the drawbridge across the moats.
The National Security State is the covert social structure of the
Establishment, and it has as its job not just defending the Establishment
from foreign enemies, but also expanding the Establishment’s economic and
military influence abroad, while preserving its class prerogatives at home.
By “class prerogatives,” I mean the National Security State is designed to
keep the lower class from exerting any political control over the state;
especially, redistributing the Establishment’s private wealth.
To these unstated ends - imperialism abroad and repression at home - the
National Security State engages in terrorism - political violence - on
behalf of the Establishment.
Indeed, the National Security State is political violence, terrorism, in its
The Establishment and its National Security State as Terrorism
The lower classes in America have little voice in making government or state
policy. Some are hopeless, others content: but in either case, voter turnout
is a mere 54%.
Whether hopeless or content, they know they cannot fight conventional
thinking. For example, when the Establishment exerts its influence, it is
not considered politics; it is simply the status quo. The rich create jobs
and must be accommodated with trillion dollar bailouts, paid for by workers
That’s just the way it is. Politicians in the service of the Establishment,
for over-arching reasons of national security, have to keep the capitalist
financial system afloat.
It is the same thing with the National Security Establishment: America
invaded Iraq, and there was nothing the people do about it.
was made for them. Peace activists, least of all, had no voice in the
decision, because they are assumed to have no stake in national security.
You will not find peace activists in the National Security Establishment;
and that political repression is covert state terrorism.
Likewise, if labor seeks to exercise influence, its efforts are described as
exploiting the state for more than it deserves, because it does not have an
enduring stake in the state.
It is a fact: only Establishment wealth - ownership - is equated with
Consider the immortal words of
“Only the little people pay
That injustice in the tax code is political repression and, in so far as it
makes the people fearful, it is state terrorism.
The Establishment fears
losing its loopholes, while workers and the poor fear losing their homes:
two types of terror, one for each class, one stated, one unstated.
The Establishment engages imperialism and political repression through
propaganda (word management violence) and social structures. This state
terrorism is unstated, covert.
Only when the people rebel and challenge the Establishment is the word
Likewise, the military, police or intelligence causes of rebellion, or
responses to it, are never called terrorism: they are national security.
And that’s how the management of words helps to repress the lower classes.
Language and the Psychology of State Terror
America’s industrial sized war machine was never said to terrorize Iraq;
the invasion was not political - because the war machine is owned by the
The Establishment profiting from war is not politics; it is
ideological neutral “profits.”
In fact, America exerts its unwanted political influence overseas, through
the state terror of aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock
and awe invasions, pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and
support of repressive puppet regimes.
This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the biggest covert
psychological warfare operation of all time.
This psywar operation depends
on narrowly defining terrorism as a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the
decapitated body of a collaborator: the “selective terrorism” of rebels and
nationalists who, outgunned, and outlawed in their own country, have no
other options, other than submission.
The purpose of selective terror is psychological: to isolate collaborators,
while demonstrating to the people the ability of the rebels to strike at
their oppressors. Shock and Awe, and brutal pacification campaigns - state
terrorism - prevent people from making a living - selective terrorism does
not. That’s a big, meaningful “class” difference.
The National Security Establishment understands that selective terror
achieves political and psychological goals that state terror does not - that
it rallies people to revolutionary ideals. So the National Security
Establishment engages in selective terror too, by targeting the rebel, his
family and friends in their homes.
This is the selective terror conducted by counter-terrorists. But don’t be
confused: it is terrorism. All terror is psychological and political; state
terror by immobilizing people and making them responsive, submissive,
apathetic, and/or ostensibly “content.”
The National Security Establishment fully understands that once people have
been terrorized, they have been politically defeated, without necessarily
As former Director of Central Intelligence William Colby once said:
implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that the
people would comply."
This principle of the psychological use of “the implication or latent threat
of terror” is what brings us back to America and the business of terror.
The Business of Terror
State terror - colonization abroad and political repression at home - is a
key means of extracting profits and maintaining ownership of property. Ask
the American Indian.
In its colonies, the US engages in state terrorism by removing all legal
protections for rebels; detention, torture, and summary execution are the
price for rebellion against US policy.
State terrorism overseas, imperialism, is never acknowledged by the media,
because the media is a big business; indeed, two of the major networks are
owned by defense contractors.
And state terrorism applied domestically to ensure “internal” security is
never acknowledged - America says it has no political prisoners.
National Security State is well thought out, by professionals in language
management, and political and psychological warfare, aimed at you.
"Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance," says two-time Nobel
Prize winner Johan Galtung, but "structural violence is the tool of the
professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional
uses social structure.
The legal criminality of the social system and its
institutions, of government… is tacit violence. Structural violence is a
structure of exploitation and social injustice."
As Colby said:
“The implication or latent threat is enough to insure people
The war on terror and its domestic version “homeland security” are the law
of the land - America 's new legally criminal social structure based on
administrative detention, enshrined in The Patriot Act and a number of
executive orders, some secret.
This lack of due process comes on top of a justice system already skewed to
protect the propertied elite and pack the prisons with the poor, through
"structural violence," mainly the drug wars.
The Establishment’s new anti-terror and anti-drug laws make the National
Security State the most fearsome covert political and psywar machine the
world has ever seen. And the National Security State is growing: the “Top
Secret America” series in the Washington Post put it at 750,000 cadres.
This secret state within a state extends into the homeland’s critical
infrastructure and beyond. For example, the arms industry provides good
jobs, making American imperial aggression seem a positive value.
And this is how the psyched-out people become one of the moats.
As it is modeled on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, the National
Security State in al its manifestations fits the classic definition of a
fascist dictatorship. And we know what its intentions are. They have been
In the days after
9-11, right wing Republican stalwart Kenneth W. Starr, the
Clinton inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires,
"deference to the
judgments of the political branches with respect to matters of national
But is there an on-going emergency that requires defer to the political
branches, meaning the right-wing ideologues who rule the National Security
State? And what does it mean for Establishment opponents if due process is
completely abandoned at home, and subjected to politics?
Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert on Reagan's National Security
Council, blamed 9-11 on Clinton,
"for failing to properly organize our
nation's security apparatus."
Ledeen's solution to the problem of those who
sneered at security was "to stamp out" the "corrupt habits of mind." By
which he means Liberalism.
In other words, the reactionary right wing that owns the National Security
State wants to impose its total rule on the people in order to create a
security conscious, uniform citizenry - marching in lock step, flags waving
- that is necessary to win the war on terror.
This is how the National
Security professionals are incrementally creating the requisite fascist
social structure - through terror, the best organizing principle ever.
is time for the old motto, 'kill them all, let God sort 'em out.' New times
require new people with new standards," Ledeen asserted. "The entire
political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give us a
chance to prevail."
When Ledeen says “political” world he means the "owners of the business" of
state terror, the right wing ideologues who pack the National Security State
and the capitalist Establishment they serve.
And they have won the propaganda war, folks.