“The rulers’ definition of terror is so broad that it fits most anything or anyone, except the ruling class’ governments and their military officials.”
The Permanent War Age (PWA) is the post-September 11, 2001 US government political and economic strategy both domestically and internationally. Upon declaring “War against Terrorism” (October 7, 2002), George Bush ordered his military chiefs to calculate the costs of a long-range war against as many as 40 countries. War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got $48 billion on top of what had been planned for military expenses, an increase of 11.6%. A constant increase in military expense is now a permanent aspect of the warlord’s policies. Since 9/11 the military expenditure increase has been 41%.
Within the context of the PWA, the CIA received TEN times the amount of usual funds to bribe foreign public officers and other informers. Official restrictions on the CIA against use of murderers and torturers were lifted. 
United States capitalism has been partly dependent upon huge military appropriations since long before World War II, but Big Business has been busy extracting even greater profits by expanding its warmongering over the entire world since that war. The weapons industry is the basis for maintaining the empire’s foreign interests and for keeping the domestic economy thriving.
In the half century since WWII, the US has sent out its military forces 63 times, to 44 different countries.
The Norwegian peace researcher at Gutenberg University, Jørgen Johansen, has concluded that in just two centuries the US has surpassed the Roman Empire, which existed for nearly one thousand years, in the number of its military interventions. And that:
“Of the 220 times, in round figures, the United States has used military might against other states the majority have been against international law, as well as the ruling conventions and laws concerning the use of military power.” 
Even before the 9/11 terror attack the US stood for 40% of the world’s military expenditures. Its sum was 20 times that of China (2nd in use of military funding), which has four times as many inhabitants. Just three years after 9/11, the US was responsible for HALF the entire world’s military expenditures. In 2004, the world sum was $1.03 trillion. Officially, the US used $524 billion, including “extra” funding for their wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2006, the entire national budget is proposed to be $2.57 trillion with $424 billion for military expenditures. But on top of that official funding, “extra” appropriations for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq must be added: at least $100 billion for 2006. Yet that sum ($524 billion) is only the official one. Hidden within the overall budget is approximately $450 for former war costs: for war veterans’ pensions and enormous medical expenses for the wounded – which includes many poisoned by their own military biochemical weapons of mass destruction – and for interest on war debt.
Peace researchers have estimated that the military’s real share of the national budget in 2001 was 47%.  At today’s prices that means each and every American (280 million), babies included, is forced, without their consultation or consent, to spend $4000 per year on current and previous wars.
The costs of current wars are mostly “borrowed”, again without democratic consent, from pension funds and from social security.
It is difficult to know what the real expenditures for domestic social programs, which actually benefit people, are when reading the budget. Much of the funding under “domestic programs” includes funding for police and secret services, for Homeland Security and even for war. I calculate that the real expenditure for people programs is around $200 billion, or 8%, as opposed to about 47% for current and past war-making.
The military must support the natural development of big business, which is to perennially concentrate private ownership and thus profits in fewer and fewer hands and places. This leads to conflicting contradictions: uneven economic and social development the world over, with greater poverty in terms of both the numbers of poor and the extent of their poverty. The richest 500 corporations possess one-third of the entire world’s accumulative Gross National Product (GNP), and 90% of these firms have their headquarters in the US, Japan and Europe. The richest 225 individuals possess half the wealth of all the six billion people on the planet. 
The gap between the richest and poorest nations has nearly tripled since WWII. The least developed countries get less in investment capital. In 1994, 41% of capital investments went into these countries; in 2000, that amount had been reduced to 19%. 
The free movement of capital – with support by most nation states – the growing concentration of capital and investments, the monopoly’s unlimited power, the increasing oil prices, and the chain reaction in the wake of the Enron energy company scandal has resulted in a turbulent world economy and in political and military developments we are witness to around the world today.
The 1997 Asian financial crisis hit capitalism hard, not only in Japan but from Russia to Argentina and other Latin America countries. Its consequences, coupled with the over-accumulation of capital and goods in the US, have led to an uncontrollable debt for all American families, surpassing their ability to pay. The world’s only superpower stimulates preposterous financial speculation in quick buying and selling of stocks and foreign exchange, which means that the economy is founded upon soap bubbles.
The military shall, once again, rescue the situation. Production, sale and use of weapons must be stimulated so that more can be produced and sold, thus bringing many capitalists greater profits, which then can be used for even greater investments. But how can the military arrange for its weapons to be used, more so than just for training purposes? After the fall of the Soviet and European Communist parties’ state control, the US had a difficult time rationalizing its huge military budget and it began to fall. General Colin Powell, in charge of the first US invasion against Iraq, told the “Toronto Star”: “I am running dry of villains.” 
The US soon converted its terrorist friend, Osama bin Laden, into a terrorist villain. From good guy to bad guy, much like it did with Manuel Noriega, CIA-agent and Panama’s strong-man. Then it decided that its former friend and dictator, Saddam Hussein, was a bad guy too. However, the first President George Bush didn’t take him on as a terrorist enemy, but rather as an obstinate independent dictator, one who wished to weaken the oil power of its Great Britain-created neighbour, Kuwait. It wasn’t until France convinced Hussein to go over to the new Euro valuate, in exchange for the UN-approved “oil-for-food” program, that the second President George Bush decided that Saddam Hussein must be replaced.
Economist William Engdahl formulated it this way: “All indications point in the direction that the Iraq war was taken as the easiest way to send a deadly preventative warning to OPEC and others not to flirt with rejecting the petrodollar system in exchange for a system based upon the Euro.” 
Permanent War Age Goals
1. The most important goal for the US is to maintain and strengthen its dominance over the entire world.
2. The US wishes to establish an extended military presence in Iraq and will use this territory to expand throughout the Middle East and beyond, especially where there is oil and other important resources, and/or where people resist US hegemony.
3. Israel is a strategic ally in that endeavour. Its domination over Palestine and its periodic wars against Lebanon and Syria help the long term plans of the US.
4. It will control the transportation of oil reserves from the Caucasus Mountains, once part of the Soviet Union, the world’s richest oil location. That is the main reason for the war on Afghanistan.
5. It will destabilize Central Asia and it hopes to destabilize China, if it can.
6. The War on Terrorism shall last a very, very long time, in order to make it profitable to transfer part of production for civilian use to military production beneficial to the most powerful corporations – weapons, oil and other mineral concerns, and for heavy industry. (In June 2005, War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, told the world that he estimated the US would continue occupying Iraq for 12 years.) It is hoped that the war-occupation will cause a decrease in growing US unemployment. It will also stop the fall in the exchange rate as well as the growing lack of confidence amongst consumers, all of which create an overproduction of goods and sales deficits.
7. US capitalists do not, of course, want European capitalists to become stronger in a united, sovereign EU, at least not in the long run. Such unification would strengthen their ability to become a competing superpower with its own army. But, in the short run, the Bush administration can tolerate and support a united EU with a constitution, as long as the US can control EU foreign policy and as long as European capitalists back up its wars in the “Third World”. All Big Business is obligated to follow US imperialism and dampen its own independence, especially where the poorest peoples struggle for an increase in the economic pie, which naturally threatens the profits of all Big Business.
8. And there are those of us in the “First World” who will not accept their endless and chaotic profit-greed, their constant efforts to take from us what we have achieved in a social network, and those of us who reject their bloody wars. There is life in a new and often expanding anti-globalization movement, and a rebirth of the anti-war movement. If we hold on and grow, we could damage the hegemonic interests of Big Business. Therefore it is also a goal of PWA that we must be stopped.
Permanent War Age Results
1. Since the War on Terrorism crusade was initiated, the Pentagon has increased both the usage and sale of weapons. The armament industry’s congressional lobbying ($35 million worth) has paid off. Stock values have risen, and 2.2 million weapon-producing workers (2% of the working class) receive an indecently high wage for selling their labour for war.
2. The US puppet regime in Kabul has granted the Texas-based oil corporation Unocal’s bid for an 850-kilometre long oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. There are 200,000 billion tons of oil at stake, enough to supply US energy use for 30 years. The Taliban rulers had stood in Unocal’s path.
3. The US has taken over Iraq, though with tremendous costs and difficulties.
4. As the mass media and state leaders focus on the holy terror war, US elite troops and paramilitary forces have more or less quietly intervened against liberation forces or Muslim rebels in Yemen, Georgia, the Philippines and Colombia.
5. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has extended its military presence in over half the world’s nations. The US has one-half million troops stationed in upwards of 400 military bases in over 100 countries. In addition to Eastern Europe, the US is in several Euro-Asian countries, in territories previously under Russian or Chinese control or influence: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, along with 14 military bases in Saudi Arabia. The US occupied much of Saudi Arabian territory after its war against Afghanistan’s progressive government, supported by the Soviet Union. US presence in S.A. is the key reason why bin Laden became an opponent of the US.
6. The US prevented a true solution to the conflict in Kashmir and thus a long-lasting peace between India and Pakistan, because that would release greater potential for India, which could threaten US economic interests. The US has been involved in Kashmir at least since the CIA, along with Pakistan’s military intelligence unit, ISI, created the Mujahidin.
7. Atomic weapons are once again considered acceptable war weapons, rather than weapons of war deterrent. The war-terror world climate gives the green light to the right-wing part of The Establishment, to its long time desire to use atomic weapons. They also got their wish to set Russia and China on the list of possible targets for “tactical atomic weapons.” Also on the list are: Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Cuba and possibly Venezuela and Bolivia. Other weapons of mass destruction, most of them prohibited by the UN, are in use.
8. The US has tried but failed twice to remove Venezuela’s progressive president Hugo Chavez. A third attempt is reportedly on the drawing board. The CIA had, once again, miscalculated the strong support Chavez has from the poor majority. Besides the government’s social reforms for people, what most irritates the US is Chavez’s backing of liberation forces in Colombia and his barter trade with Cuba: oil for health care and education. Venezuela is the world’s fourth or fifth largest oil delivering country, most of which is still sold to the US.
9. The US has set Cuba’s name on its “terrorist state” list, the so-called “axis of evil” powers. Without offering any evidence, the US claims that Cuba is producing biological weapons – certainly a big lie as was theirs about Iraq. One is not expected to even ask the question about why the US produces and uses weapons it falsely accuses Cuba of producing, though the US does not contend Cuba uses what it is not even producing. The biggest irony of this lie is that the US undersecretary of weapons control, John Bolton, patched the accusation together from the real fact that Cuba is a leading nation in biotechnology, and the only “third world” country to have achieved expertise in creating and producing its own biotechnology industry, including the production of 12 of the 13 vaccines it uses for all of its children, and does so without any economic cost to the families. It is a crime, according to the natural laws of capitalism, to do such a human thing, an affront to the “free market economy.”
10. Bush’s rhetorical attack upon Cuba is connected to its success in getting José Bustani removed as OPCW’s chief of weapons inspection. The Brazilian-born public servant saw no difference between small and poor nations and large and rich nations. Bustani demanded the same access to control laboratories and chemical factories in the US as in every other land. On April 21, 2002, when OPCW was forced, at economic gunpoint, to fire him, Bustani said that he had sought to, “Promote Iraq’s signature to the Convention on Chemical Weapons…in accordance with the UN Security Council guidelines.” That was not in US interests.
11. The US assumes the “right” to board any skip anywhere in the world regardless of the flag it flies. This is an open affront to the sovereignty of every nation in the world.
12. Big Business wars give them the “right” to reduce their taxes to society’s infrastructure, to people programs. From paying 20% of all taxes a handful of years ago, under Bush Big Business is now only contributing 10%.
13. The concept of the PWA has been aggressively sold to make us afraid. Thus the people become passive supporters to their wars and terror laws which reduce civil liberties and the accumulated power of the working class. These encroachments into our political rights lay the basis for a future fascist governing process.
14. Without opposition, the US government codified the “Patriot Act”, which opens up for a police state: far-reaching surveillance of anyone it wishes, and the indefinite jailing on “suspicion of being a terrorist” without any rights to visitation, to an attorney, to court orders or trials. The government has a capacity to intern many millions of people under this law in 600 jails and concentrations camps – in addition to the illegally occupied Cuban territory known as Guantánamo Bay. Many of these jails are hidden, and are said to be able to hold 20,000 people. But one camp in Fairbanks Alaska is said to be able to hold two million people. These new interning capacities are paid for, in part, by the new ministry of “Homeland Security”, which currently receives $31 billion. Moreover, in addition to these jails and concentration camps, the US uses an undetermined number of isolation jails in several other countries, including Europe.
Since the enactment of the “Patriot Act”, most European nations have proclaimed similar laws, again without consultation or approval by the people. The rulers’ definition of terror is so broad that it fits most anything or anyone, except the ruling class’ governments and their military officials. Since terror is said to be suspected anywhere at anytime, then we citizens must accept that our democratic rights of free speech, free press and the organization of unions or political organizations and demonstrations be curtailed.
The definition of terror in the country where I live today, Denmark, approximates the recommendation from the EU commission on terrorism, whose members are kept secret and whose criteria for placing groups on the terrorist list are withheld. To the rulers, terror is when two or more persons act with intent to create fear or seriously change or destroy the nation’s political, economic or social structure. With such a law, the government’s police forces can attack our collectively won rights, union rights, and act against social and political and economic opponents. It can easily be interpreted to disallow anyone from even advocating or acting for socialism, since that would be against the existing economic structure.
In something one would expect to find in “Alice in Wonderland”, the Danish government used the law for the first time in June 2005. It brought the pacifist, non-violence organization Greenpeace to court for committing “terror”. The judge found for the government, and fined the organization about $6000 for the acts of three of its members. Greenpeace has appealed. The horrendous act of terror occurred in October 2003 when three young men crawled up the government’s agricultural building with ropes, and hung a large white banner over several windows. The banner read: NO TO GMO PIGS.
In August 2004, a few hundred Danes started the group “Rebellion” (Oprør in Danish) to protest the terror law. Rebellion collected about $20,000 for two groups – the Palestinian PFLP and the Colombian liberationist FARC – which, following the example of the US, the Danish government and EU Commission had recently placed on their terror lists. We (Rebellion) divided the money evenly between them. We provided Denmark’s police intelligence with evidence of our deed. We wanted to provoke not only debate but a juridical decision to outlaw the law. State authorities were afraid to take the case to court, because we would have the opportunity to defy their secret criteria for placing groups on the list. But when we defied them all the more by beginning to raise a greater sum of money and encouraging, through our website (www.opror.net), other groups in Denmark and the rest of Europe to do the same, we were cited for violating the law. One of our spokespersons, Patrick Mac Manus, was arrested and charged with violating the terror law. If it wins the case, the state can incarcerate Patrick for up to ten years.
“We must go all the way back to when the Nazis had power in Germany to find anything similar to judge this law by,” said constitutional attorney Hans Kjellund. 
The Mass Media’s Contribution
The mass media encourages the War on Terrorism by spreading fear and so-called patriotic morality, and by censoring any significant opposition opinion.
“Give War a Chance,” read the September 13, 01 headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“It Is Time to Choose Atomic Weapons,” read the Washington Times headline, the day after.
The US government has gagged the media since 9/11, and the media appeases by self-censoring. Television news has, for example, forbidden any commentary from Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Thus, the media filters for the government what the people will be told.
However, censorship and self-censorship are not enough for the world’s self-proclaimed democratic nation number one. Just one month after 9/11, the Pentagon established “The Office of Strategic Influence”, in order to legitimize lying, which the Pentagon admitted it would do. The “Office” sends anonymous e-mails and “news” free of charge to news bureaus world-wide. The objective is to cast resisters of US domination in a bad light. Media receivers of the “news” are not able to know if the information is true or not.
“This information will stretch from the blackest of black (ed. read “lying”) to the whitest of white,” said a spokesman for the Pentagon. 
But after the OSI became publicly known, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided to “abolish” it. In a November 18, 2002 press briefing, he told civil liberty critics: “You can have the name, but I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have; that was intended to be done by that office, NOT by that office [but] in other ways.”
Thus the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF) came into being. Among the IOTF’s official duties are the “coercion” of foreign journalists and the planting of false information overseas. Secret briefing papers also said the office should find ways to “punish” those who convey the “wrong message”. One senior office told CNN that the office would “formalize government deception, dishonesty and misinformation” – something the CIA is know to have done routinely for many years. 
The US thought, or said that it thought, it would be easy to take over Iraq. The ruling class is so arrogant and racist that it believed the Iraqi people would not continue fighting with any meaningful resistance forces. But since the beginning of occupation there has been an upswing in resistance. The occupation forces’ reaction has been brutal. Thousands of civilians were murdered in Fallujah in revenge for the liquidation there of four US mercenaries. The destruction of Fallujah parallels the destruction of Lidice and Oradour in WWII. But there was so much unified and massive resistance in Fallujah that the occupation forces were beaten back at first and called for a ceasefire. Later, they crushed the city, bringing it to ruins, using internationally forbidden weapons: napalm and depleted uranium (DU), which produces many diseases, including cancers, and genetic deformities in babies.
By June of 2005, observers estimated that about 100,000 Iraqis had been murdered, overwhelmingly by US troops, and tens of thousands had been tortured and imprisoned without any civil or judicial rights. The US claimed “only” 25,000 Iraqis had been killed and the “few” US soldiers and mercenaries responsible for the torture had been “brought to justice”.
One year later, observers estimated that the number of Iraqi war dead had risen to 250,000,  and the aggressors are faced with massive resistance in Iraq, and growing resistance in Afghanistan. Their lies are no longer to be hidden, entirely. Warring governments are also met with increasing resistance on the home fronts, especially in Great Britain. Thanks to a whistle-blower like Daniel Ellsberg, one of Denmark’s own military officer intelligence experts, Frank Grevil leaked documents that show some of the lies that the Danish government used to rationalize its war declaration against Iraq. Denmark currently has 500 troops in the southern part of Iraq. For his “crime” of informing the people so that democracy would not be lost entirely, he has been convicted to six months in prison.
The US-UK-Danish governments are not able to hide their lies very long, despite the many millions spent on secret propaganda operations such as the Information Office Task Force. On November 30, 2005, for example, the Los Angeles Times reported that, “The US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written” by American “information operations” troops. Lt. Gen. John R. Vines is the commander in Baghdad of the IOTF. Even a Colorado newspaper, the Denver Post, wrote about Pentagon lying. Its December 2, 2005 headline read: “All the News that’s Fit to Plant”.
The US needs the claim that it “removed” a brutal dictator from power in Iraq because he opposed the people’s will. That gave the US the “right” to teach the Iraqis what “democracy” is all about. The US also needs Osama bin Laden free in flight. He is its symbol of hate and fear, and thus the “need” for the Permanent War Age.
“You’re either with us or against us!” Such has it actually been since 1823 with the Monroe Doctrine, when the US declared that the entire continent of South and Central America was its back yard: Hands Off! But since the end of WWII, the goal has extended to the entire world. US State Department chief for national security planning, George Kennan, put it like it is in the formerly secret Policy Planning Study of 1948:
“Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”
“In the face of this situation [Asiatic problems among the peoples themselves, overpopulation, lack of food, and Moscow's luring influence. Ed. note] we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and – for the Far East – unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
“We should recognize that our influence in the Far Eastern area in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic.” 
Kennan was considered by the mass media to be a “liberal dove”, just as John Kennedy, Bill Clinton and even Colin Powell are.
If permanent war cannot solve capital’s economic crises, cannot provide it with “sufficient” profit, then it has its trump card: fascism. There is wind in fascism’s sails both in the US and Europe. Once again they use racism as its foundation, which attracts a lot of whites, many of whom are self-proclaimed Christians. But there are many positive signs and trends. Consciousness about what the US and EU are really about is growing. More insiders are becoming whistle-blowers, and thus more people understand the Orwellian concept of “double speak”. Now it is time to escalate our resistance at home and the world over. The next step should be to create national and international anti-capitalist broad movements. These could, perhaps, evolve/explode into strong movements for equality, for sharing our collective resources and production, and for collective decision-making, that is, for true democracy.
Revised version of a piece first printed by the Danish Committee for a Free Iraq website (www.fritirak.dk), on July 4, 2005.
1. Newsweek, 12/17/01.
2. Jørgen Johansen, from the Norwegian magazine Non-Violence, as printed in the Danish daily, The Worker, October 1, 2002 (my translation).
3. Total outlays were $1,394 billion. Military outlays were placed officially $325 billion, and unofficial past military war costs (vet benefits and national debt interest) was $334 billion.
4. United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) statistics.
5. United Nations Investment Report, 2000.
6. April 9, 1991 (My translation from the Danish).
7. Translated from the Danish translation of Engdahl’s article, ‘The New American Century?’
8. The Worker, Denmark, March 23, 2002.
9. New York Times, as translated from the Danish in The Worker, February 23, 2001.
10. See www.sourcewatch.org/index and ‘US behind Iraqi Newspapers’, Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2005.
11. See ‘US invasion responsible deaths of over 250,000′, John Stokes.
12. Secret memorandum written on February 24, 1948 for Secretary of State George Marshall. It is called PPS/23 (Policy Planning Staff): ‘Review of Current Trends: U.S. Foreign Policy’. My excerpts are taken from part VII: Far East. This memo was printed by the magazine, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, Volume 1, 509-529.
Ron Ridenour is a US-born former journalist and a member of the Danish Committee for a Free Iraq. Among his books are: Backfire: The CIA's Biggest Burn, Cuba at the Crossroads and Yankee Sandinistas, about Nicaragua in revolution. From 1987 to 1996 he lived in Cuba and worked for Cuban media.