The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy

From the Truman Doctrine to the Neo-Conservatives





5-7 February 2007, Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur

1. The contemporary context

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout, over a large part of the Middle East.

There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration, in liaison with Israel and NATO, is planning the launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in “an advanced state of readiness”.

If such a plan were to be launched, the war would escalate and eventually engulf the entire Middle-East Central Asian region.

The war could extend beyond the region, as some analysts have suggested, ultimately leading us into a World War III scenario.

The US-led naval deployment (involving a massive deployment of military hardware) is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean is broadly under the jurisdiction of NATO in liaison with Israel. Directed against Syria, it is conducted under the façade of a UN “peace-keeping” mission. In this context, the Israeli led war on Lebanon last Summer, which was conducive to countless atrocities and the destruction of an entire country, must be viewed as a stage of the broader US sponsored military road-map.

LEBANON: Civil defence rescuers carry the body of a woman away from a civilian car that was struck by an Israeli warplane missile- rmayleih juy 17 – AP

2. Naval Buildup in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean 

The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada.

All-nuclear formation: Enterprise, Long Beach (CGN-9), and Bainbridge (CGN-25).

USS Enterprise Strike Group

USS Eisenhower

The naval buildup is coordinated with the air attacks. The planning of aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

While its contents remain classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the stockpiling and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

In recent developments, there are reports that Washington is planning to launch air attacks from military bases in Romania and Bulgaria. “American forces could be using their two USAF bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania’s Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April [2007],” according to the Bulgarian news agency Novinite.

3. The Ultimate War Crime: Using Nuclear Weapons in a Conventional War theater

Despite Pentagon statements, which describe tactical nuclear weapons as “safe for the surrounding civilian population”, the use of nukes in a conventional war theater directed against Iran would trigger the ultimate war crime: a nuclear holocaust. The resulting radioactive contamination, which threatens future generations, would by no means be limited to the Middle East.

B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb

4. The “War on Terrorism”: Pretext to Wage War

In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan “to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States”. Mass casualty producing events, involving the death of civilians are being used to galvanize public opinion in support of a military agenda. The deaths of civilian are used to justify preemptive actions to defend the American homeland against an alleged outside enemy, who are identified as “Islamic terrorists”.

Mass Casualty Producing Events

“A terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.” General Tommy Franks,

“We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” (David Rockefeller)

“As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski in the Grand Chessboard)

The presumption was that if such a 9/11 type event involving the deaths of civilians (mass casualty producing event) were to take place, Iran would, according to Cheney, be behind it, thereby providing a pretext for punitive bombings, much in the same way as the US sponsored attacks on Afghanistan in October 2001, allegedly in retribution for the alleged support of the Taliban government to the 9/11 terrorists

More recently, several analysts have focussed on the creation of a “Gulf of Tonkin incident”, which would be used by the Bush administration as a pretext to wage war on Iran

5. The Real Objective Of This War Is Oil

The oil lies in Muslim lands. The objective is to take possession of the oil, transform countries into territories and redraw the map of the Middle East

War builds a fake “humanitarian agenda”. Throughout history, vilification of the enemy has been applied time and again with a view to ultimately justifying war and war crimes.

Demonization of the enemy serves geopolitical and economic objectives. Likewise, the campaign against “Islamic terrorism” (which is supported covertly by US intelligence) supports the conquest of oil wealth. The term “Islamo-fascism,” serves to degrade the policies, institutions, values and social fabric of Muslim countries, while also upholding the tenets of “Western democracy” and the “free market” as the only alternative for these countries.

The US led war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region consists in gaining control over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. The Anglo-American oil giants also seek to gain control over oil and gas pipeline routes out of the region. 

copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research 2003. Click image to enlarge

Route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline

Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate.

In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Western countries including its major oil producers ( Canada, the US, Norway, the UK, Denmark and Australia) control approximately 4 percent of total oil reserves. (In the alternative estimate of the Oil and Gas Journal which includes Canada’s oil sands, this percentage would be of the the order of 16.5%.

The largest share of the World’s oil reserves lies in a region extending (North) from the tip of Yemen to the Caspian sea basin and (East) from the Eastern Mediterranean coastline to the Persian Gulf. This broader Middle East- Central Asian region, which is the theater of the US-led “war on terrorism” encompasses according to the estimates of World Oil, more than sixty percent of the World’s oil reserves. (See table below).

Iraq has five times more oil than the United States.

Muslim countries possess at least 16 times more oil than the Western countries.

The major non-Muslim oil reserve countries are Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, China and Brazil. (See table)

The victims of war crimes are vilified Demonization is applied to an enemy, which possesses three quarters of the world’s oil reserves. “Axis of evil”, “rogue States”, “failed nations”, “Islamic terrorists”: demonization and vilification are the ideological pillars of America’s “war on terror”. They serve as a casus belli for waging the battle for oil.

The Battle for Oil requires the demonization of those who possess the oil. The enemy is characterized as evil, with a view to justifying military action including the mass killing of civilians. The Middle East Central Asian region is heavily militarized. (See map). The oil fields are encircled: NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN “peace keeping” operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian deployed as part of the “war on terrorism”.


Map: click to enlarge

6. Historical Background: From Hiroshima to the Preemptive Warfare Doctrine

What are the historical roots of this military agenda? What is the balance sheet of US sponsored war crimes extending from 1945 to the present?


US war crimes and atrocities should be seen as the direct consequence of a foreign policy and military agenda, which supports US corporate interests, including the oil giants, the Wall Street financial establishment and the big six defense contractors.

The Middle East war is the culmination of a history of US sponsored military interventions.

The bombing of Hiroshima was the initial landmark leading to the formulation of a “preemptive” nuclear doctrine, where nukes are to be used in the conventional war theater.

There is a continuum: the bombing of Hiroshima was presented to public opinion as “safe for civilians” because Hiroshima was identified in President Truman’s August 9, 1945 radio address as “a military base”.

“The World will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians

(President Harry S. Truman in a radio speech to the Nation, August 9, 1945, Listen to Excerpt of his speech, By going through Truman’s diary, one has the distinct impression that he firmly believed that Hiroshima was a military target. Was he briefed on the consequences of the atom bomb?(President Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945).

Similarly, the use of nukes against Iran is presented as an act of self-defense, which according to the Pentagon, will minimize the risk of “collateral damage” and protect the lives of civilians.Prior the invasion of Iraq, the use of tactical nuclear weapons had been contemplated as a means to assassinate Saddam Hussein:

“If Saddam was arguably the highest value target in Iraq, then a good case could be made for using a nuclear weapon like the B61-11 to assure killing him and decapitating the regime” (.Defense News, December 8, 2003).

More generally, mini-nukes are considered safe to be used in a conventional war theater:

“What’s needed now is something that can threaten a bunker tunneled under 300 meters of granite without killing the surrounding civilian population.” (Pentagon Official quoted in Michel Chossudovsky, 2006,

These statements, which reflect US nuclear doctrine promote according to Federation of American Scientists (FAS) “the illusion that nuclear weapons could be used in ways which minimize their ‘collateral damage’, making them acceptable tools to be used like conventional weapons.” (See / click v54nl, italics added)

 7. America’s Wars of the “Post War Era”

What is referred euphemistically as the “post war era” is in fact a period of continuous war and militarization. Since the end of the Second World War, this “long war” seeks to establish US hegemony worldwide.

This period is marked by a succession of US sponsored theater wars (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yugoslavia), various forms of military interventions including low intensity conflicts, “civil wars” (The Congo, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan) military coups, US sponsored death squadrons and massacres (Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines), covert wars led by US intelligence , etc.

This entire period (1945- present) has been marked by a succession of US sponsored wars and military-intelligence interventions in all major regions of the World (see map below).

Accounting for these various operations, the United States has attacked, directly or indirectly, some 44 countries in different regions of the developing world, since August 1945, a number of them many times (Eric Waddell, 2003):

“The avowed objective of these military interventions has been to effect ‘regime change’. The cloaks of “human rights” and of “democracy were invariably evoked to justify what were unilateral and illegal acts.” (Eric Waddell, 2003)

The foreign policy underpinnings of what is now referred to by Bush officials as the “long war” are to be found in what is known as the “Truman Doctrine”, first formulated by foreign policy adviser George F. Kennan in a 1948 in State Department brief.

What this 1948 document conveys is continuity in US foreign policy, from “Containment” to “Pre-emptive” War. It states in polite terms that the US should seek economic and strategic dominance through military means:

Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as 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 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 (George f. Kennan, 1948 State Department Brief)

8. Destroying Internationalism

The planned disintegration of the United Nations system as an independent and influential international body has been on the drawing board of US foreign policy since the inception of the United Nations in 1946. Its planned demise was an integral part of the Truman doctrine as defined in 1948. From the very inception of the UN, Washington has sought on the one hand to control it to its advantage, while also seeking to weakening and ultimately destroy the UN system. The outgoing Secretary General Kofi Annan became a tool of US foreign policy.

In the words of George Kennan:

“Occasionally, it [the United Nations] has served a useful purpose. But by and large it has created more problems than it has solved, and has led to a considerable dispersal of our diplomatic effort. And in our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part. (George Kennan, 1948)

In our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part. (George Kennan, 1948)

Although officially committed to the “international community”, Washington has largely played lip service to the United Nations. In recent years it has sought to undermine it as an institution. Since Gulf War I, the UN has largely acted as a rubber stamp. It has closed its eyes to US war crimes, it has implemented so-called peacekeeping operations on behalf of the Anglo-American invaders, in violation of the UN Charter.

9. From the Truman Doctrine to the Neo-Conservatives

The Neo-conservative agenda under the Bush administration should be viewed as the culmination of a (bipartisan) “Post War” foreign policy framework, which provides the basis for the planning of the contemporary wars and atrocities including the setting up of torture chambers, concentration camps and the extensive use of prohibited weapons directed against civilians.

From Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, to the CIA sponsored military coups in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the objective has been to ensure US military hegemony and global economic domination, as initially formulated under the “Truman Doctrine”. Despite significant policy differences, successive Democratic and Republican administrations, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush have carried out this global military agenda.

10. US War Crimes and Atrocities

This entire “post war period” is marked by extensive war crimes resulting in the death of more than ten million people. This figure does not include those who perished as a result of poverty, starvation and disease.

What we are dealing with is a criminal US foreign policy agenda. Criminalization does not pertain to one or more heads of State. It pertains to the entire State system, it’s various civilian and military institutions as well as the powerful corporate interests behind the formulation of US foreign policy, the Washington think tanks, the creditor institutions which finance the military machine.

War crimes are the result of the criminalization of the US State and foreign policy apparatus. We are dealing specifically with individual war criminals, but with a process involving decision makers acting at different level, with a mandate to carry out war crimes, following established guidelines and procedures.

What distinguishes the Bush administration in relation to historical record of US sponsored crimes and atrocities, is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are now openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain “the global war on terrorism” and support the spread of Western democracy.

11. Mechanisms of US Intervention

US sponsored crimes are not limited to the casualties of war and the physical destruction of the nation’s infrastructure. 

Countries are destroyed, often transformed into territories, sovereignty is foregone, national institutions collapse, the national economy is destroyed through the imposition of “free market” reforms, unemployment becomes rampant, social services are dismantled, wages collapse, and people are impoverished.

In turn, the nation’s assets and natural resources are transferred into the hands of foreign investors through a privatization programme imposed by the invading forces.

12. The Perdana Initiative: Reversing the Tide of War

The Perdana Initiative to Criminalize War seeks to break the consensus. 

Once that consensus is broken, the shaky legitimacy of the  “Global War on Terrorism” collapses like a deck of cards. The War criminals in high office do not have a leg to stand on.

To reverse the tide of war requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, mosques,  schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war which contemplates the use of nuclear weapons. The message should be loud and clear: It is not Iran which is a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel. 

Debate and discussion must also take place within the Military and Intelligence community, particularly with regard to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, within the corridors of the US Congress, in municipalities and at all levels of government. Ultimately, the legitimacy of the political and military actors in high office must be challenged.

There seems to be a reluctance by members of Congress to exercise their powers under the US Constitution, with a view to preventing the unthinkable: the onslaught of a US sponsored nuclear war. The consequences of  this inaction could be devastating. Once the decision is taken at the political level, it will be very difficult to turn the clock backwards.

Moreover, the antiwar movement has not addressed the US sponsored nuclear threat on Iran in a consistent  way, in part due to divisions within its ranks, in part due to lack of information. Moreover, a significant sector of the antiwar movement considers that the “threat of Islamic terrorism” is real. “We are against the war, but we support the war on terrorism.”  This ambivalent stance ultimately serves to reinforce the legitimacy of the US national security doctrine which is predicated on waging the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

At this juncture, with the popularity of the Bush-Cheney regime at an all time low, a real opportunity exists to initiate an impeachment process, which could contribute to temporarily stalling the military agenda.

The corporate media also bear a heavy responsibility for the cover-up of US sponsored war crimes. Until recently these war preparations involving the use of nuclear weapons have been scarcely covered by the corporate media. The latter must also be forcefully challenged for their biased coverage of the Middle East war.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called “Homeland Security agenda” which has already defined the contours of a police State.

In response to the Perdana initaitve to criminalize war, it is essential to bring the US-Israeli war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America, Western Europe and Israel. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.


A1 Categorization, Nature of US Intervention (44 countries)



With regard to military and covert intelligence or other command type operations, we may distinguish between:

TW Theater War

MC US Instigated Military Coup

CW US Sponsored Civil War

MP Military policing

CO, Covert Intelligence operation, proxy armies, death squadrons,


Afghanistan TW CW MC CO, Angola CW CO, Argentina MC CO, Bangladesh MC, Bolivia MC, Bosnia TW CW, Brazil MC CO, Cambodia TW CW CO, Chile MC CO, Colombia CW CO, Congo TW CW, Dominican Republic MC MP CO, El Salvador CW, MC CO, Eritrea CW, Ethiopia CW , Guatemala MC CO, Grenada MP, Haiti MC MP CO, Honduras MC MP CO, Indonesia MC CO, Iran MC, Iraq MC TW CO, Japan TW , Laos TW CW, Lebanon TW CW CO MP, Liberia, CW, Macedonia MP, CW CO, Mozambique CW CO, Nicaragua CW CO, Nigeria CW CO,North Korea TW CW, Pakistan MC CO, Palestine CW CO, Panama MC MP, Philippines MC MP CO, Rwanda CW CO, Serbia CW CO, Somalia CW MP CO, Sierra Leone CW, South Korea CW TW CO, Sudan CW MP CO, Thailand MC CO, Uruguay MC CO, Venezuela MC, Vietnam TW MC CW, Zimbabwe CW

Historical examples of US sponsored war crimes


Korea (1950-1953)

North Korea lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, an unprecedented percentage of suffered by any nation as a result of an armed conflict. General Lemay in charge of US operations in Korea candidly acknowledges that the US killed up to 20 percent of North Korea’s population over that three period of intensive bombings’

Vietnam (1954-1975)

According to Vietnamese sources, civilian casualties resulting from the Vietnam War were of the order of 4 million. Out of a population of 38 million during the period 1954-1975, Vietnamese casualties represent a 12-13% of the entire population


While Indonesia was not invaded by US forces, it experienced according to a CIA report, “one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century.” Ironically it was the CIA which instigated this plan.

“The 300-page CIA text fails to acknowledge the direct role of the US in the massacres It essentially “blames the victims of the killings — the supporters of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) — for their own deaths… The hundreds of thousands of people shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, or starved to death were labeled perpetrators, or would-be perpetrators of atrocities, just as culpable for the murder of the army generals as the handful of people who were truly guilty.”

The Congo (1998-2000)

The Congo (1998-2000) and The Sudan were US sponsored “civil wars”. Two years of war in the Congo (1998-2000) caused the deaths of an estimated 3.8 million people, mostly from starvation and disease.


Two million deaths resulted from Sudan’s 18-year “civil war”, which is tied into securing control over oil reserves.


One million people also died during the US sponsored Nigeria-Biafra conflict of the late 1960s, which was also linked to oil interests.

Rwanda (1994-1995)

Between 500,000 and a million people died as a result of the Rwandan “civil war” and genocide. Recent reports confirm that the US and Britain played a key role in triggering the ethnic massacres.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Second Edition, Global Research, 2005. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here 

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About the author:

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, Editor of Global Research. He has taught as visiting professor in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. He has served as economic adviser to governments of developing countries and has acted as a consultant for several international organizations. He is the author of 13 books. He is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. In 2014, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit of the Republic of Serbia for his writings on NATO's war of aggression against Yugoslavia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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