Yoda Bets on Strategic Deception to Save the Empire

Webster G. Tarpley
February 2, 2010

Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s legendary Yoda, is at it again. The resident futurologist and gray eminence of the US Department of Defense is now 89 years old and has been running Office of Net Assessment for 37 years, since he founded it in 1973. Now comes word that a gaggle of Strangeloves operating under Yoda’s sponsorship is recommending a new array of utopian psychological warfare strategies to try to shore up the sagging US-UK world empire in extremis. These schemes are contained in a report entitled Capability Surprises, which has just been issued under the auspices of the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board. The core recommendation of the assembled Strangeloves is that United States should create and conduct a robust and permanent inter-agency Office of Strategic Deception, to be assembled by a “Tiger team” of utopian think tankers, consultants, and academics, as soon as possible.

Capability surprises refer to sudden scientific, technological, or organizational breakthroughs that give one nation a sudden potential strategic advantage over another. They can represent secret weapons, or new ways of organizing existing capabilities, such as the German Blitzkrieg of World War II. Capability surprises, in the opinion of the DSB panel, can be expected for the United States in such areas as cyber warfare, space warfare, military operations, and technology, special emphasis on nuclear and biological capabilities. The report lists the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 as a capability surprise inflicted by the Soviet Union on the United States. Another shocking surprise for the US came with the Tet offensive in Vietnam of January. Yet another surprise was the widespread use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Iraq. The panel thinks that the US attack on Iraq in the form of operation Desert Storm in 1991 represented a capability surprise based on effective deception against Saddam Hussein, whom they however dismiss as an “incompetent victim.”
The goal of the report is to minimize the shocking surprises experienced by the US, or at least to make sure that Washington can recover quickly and stabilize after each new shock. The other concern of the panel is to maximize the number of capability surprises the US can inflict on its rivals. The need to create surprises for others and the need to prepare to cope with your own are the two premises of the report.

Although this report is officially sponsored by Paul G. Kaminski, the chairman of the Defense Science Board, it represents in its essence a product of the Andrew Marshall network among think tanks, academics, and private consultants. This is a network which Yoda has been building up for more than four decades, using the Office of Net Assessment budget to commission a whole series of utopian scenarios and studies some of whose titles have been obtained by Talking Points Memo under the Freedom of Information Act, and which are listed at that website. Yoda’s influence has been nothing short of immense; Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Scooter Libby can all be counted to some degree among Yoda’s pupils. We can say with absolute confidence that Yoda is a key component of that shadow government or rogue network cutting across the executive departments and agencies of the United States government which is determined to assert its own concept of foreign policy, defense policy, finance policy, and the national (or imperial) interest without regard to the momentary majorities in Congress or the momentary tenant of the White House. If Yoda is not a part of the shadow government, then no one is.

Yoda’s main job has always been in the area of imagination and futurology, identifying threats to US military supremacy well in advance and devising means to stave them off. If there was one point in the United States government which should have been held responsible for foreseeing and warding off the September 11 attacks, it was surely Yoda’s futurology and imagination shop in the Pentagon. After September 11, Yoda declined all responsibility with a series of cynical and cavalier remarks. Significantly, he was not held accountable by any commission, was not dragged before congressional hearings, still holds his post, and is as full of sociopathic energy as ever.

This study is the product of the DSB summer seminar of 2008. Yoda provided the keynote address for the entire project. The immediate prod for a seminar in capability surprises would appear to have come from the successful test of an anti-satellite weapon by China in January of 2007. This event caused widespread shock and consternation in official Washington, which had expected no such thing. Another ingredient was doubtless the Washington perception of growing Chinese capability in the area of computer hacking, under the heading of what the US calls Titan Rain.

An analysis of the language of this report allows us to see in retrospect how great the influence of Yoda and his circles over Rumsfeld actually was. In the report, capability surprises are divided into two categories. The first are the “known surprises.” These are breakthroughs by an adversary which one’s own espionage or other intelligence has allowed one to anticipate. These were the events famously classified by Rumsfeld as “known unknowns.” Then, in the language of the report, come the “surprising surprises.” These are the real shocks which arrive without any warning at all — obviously the “unknown unknowns,” of Rumsfeldian parlance. The report is grimly realistic when it says that the United States will not be able to avoid some nasty surprising surprises in the foreseeable future. If China can launch a manned mission to the moon before the US gets back into that game, for example, that would be a surprising surprise of the first magnitude. The report is vaguely aware of the stagnation of basic science and advanced technology in this country, which it obliquely recognizes by showing the relative decline of US science Ph.D.s compared to the rest of the world. Therefore, the report recommends “surprise management,” which would become the responsibility of a new Capability Assessment Warning and Response Organization (CAWRO), which would contain special strategic intelligence cells.

The most interesting part of the report deals with be attempted manipulation of strategic adversaries.. It is clear at the utopian Strangeloves of the Yoda network believe that they can ameliorate the declining US strategic position by playing on the gullibility and suggestibility of their main adversaries, especially by concentrating on the weak spots of the respective national ideologies of the rivals. The United States, according to the report, must concentrate on “understanding the enemy culture, standing beliefs, and intelligence-gathering process and decision cycle, as well as the soundness of its operational and tactical doctrine.” But necessary deception strategy will be “reliant …on the close control of information, running agents (and double-agents) and creating stories that adversaries will readily believe.” After the issuing of this report, nobody in the world has any excuse for doubting that the US does indeed run numerous double agents.

The deception strategy demanded by the report will require the psychological and epistemological manipulation of adversaries at the same time that the US attempts to manipulate and orchestrate world events themselves, as the following revealing formulation makes clear:

“Creating strategic surprise is especially challenging. Indeed, creating operational and strategic surprise requires one to undertake a series of sophisticated orchestrated events, all of which the adversary must believe, while protecting one’s own assets (e.g., double agents). In order to undertake such an endeavor, one must have a sophisticated understanding of the adversary’s intelligence gathering processes and political/decision cycle — as well as of the soundness of its operational and tactical doctrine. Even with this information, plans that rely on deception or bluffing often fail.” (p. 76)

We need to ponder the creation of such a “series of sophisticated orchestrated events” when we look at current aggressive US operations in Pakistan, the Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, and Somalia. This phrase could include just about anything, from fake provocations in the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin mode to a vast array of false flag terror operations. We need to remember this report when considering the next round of Obama administration contentions about world events – it could very well all be merely a strategic deception script.

This report takes its place in a shameful tradition. The 2002 summer seminar in this same DSB series brought us the infamous P2OG, the Proactive Preventive Operations Group. The P2OG was tasked with manipulating terror groups to make them attack targets the US wanted at times chosen by the US — thus coming very close to the full definition of state-sponsored terrorism, since it is by manipulation that terrorist networks are normally controlled in any case. The P2OG was also directed to carry on deception operations. The 2008 summer seminar stressed that deception operations had to begin at once: “Deception cannot succeed in wartime without developing theory and doctrine in peacetime…. In order to mitigate or impart surprise, the United States should [begin] deception planning and action prior to the need for military operations.”

Naturally, when it comes to the specific deception operations which the Yoda networks may have in mind, we find no clues, since these have to be kept strictly secret if they are to have any hope of succeeding. Nevertheless, we can acquire some insights into the current goals of the Office of Net Assessment and its associated coterie if we examine the list of studies which this office has commissioned over recent years. Thanks to the FOIA request by TPM, we can now do this. One of the most interesting among these ONA studies is doubtless the 2007 report from the Hudson Institute entitled “The Great Siberian War of 2030.” 1 This is obviously a scenario for World War III fought between China and Russia, an outcome which represents the fondest yearning of some of the most utopian strata of the Anglo-American intelligence community.

The full text of “The Great Siberian War of 2030” does not seem to be available to the public. However, Media Matters Action Network has posted online a package of documents including tax returns and other papers regarding the Hudson Institute, a reactionary neocon think tank to which Yoda and his colleagues regularly turn for new scenarios and ideas. Here we find the following summary of the paper in question:

“The Great Siberian War of 2030. Russia is hollowing out and China filling up. The growing inability of Russia to man and invest in Siberia creates a vacuum that China has been filling with people, business activity and a political and intelligence infrastructure. By 2030, China feels strong enough to make its possession of the territories east of the Urals official. The tilt in world geopolitics is so huge that it provokes the coalition of diverse countries intent on preventing China from acquiring such a position: Japan, Korea, India, Iran, Turkey, the EU and the USA. The Great Siberian War of 2030 provokes a complete realignment in world affairs. This scenario will explore causes and consequences.” 2

This is World War III with a vengeance.

The author of “The Great Siberian War of 2030” is the late Laurent Murawiec, who worked for the RAND Corporation before going to work for the Hudson Institute. In the summer of 2002, Murawiec presented a PowerPoint slide show to the Defense Policy Board in the Pentagon recommending that the US treat Saudi Arabia as a deadly enemy. Saudi Arabia demanded explanations from the US ambassador, and Murawiec soon departed from RAND. The importance of this Siberian war scenario projected 20 years into the future is to show us the real intentions of Yoda and his friends, who seem to be impervious to elections and to international law. The essence of US foreign policy under the Obama administration is a desperate bid to maintain US-UK world strategic domination in the face of challenges which Yoda and company perceive as coming from China and Russia, backed up by other countries who are tired of the Anglo-American yoke. The strategy of trying to play Russia against China recalls the appeasement line of Sir Neville Chamberlain of Britain during the 1930s, which meant in practice to build up Hitler and play him against Stalin in an attempt to destroy both Germany and the USSR. That did not work as planned, and Britain was almost destroyed in the process.

Most US foreign policy is already based on a deception, to the extent they are predicated on an alleged “global war on terrorism.” This is the pretext cited for operations in Afghanistan-Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, and many other places. But the targetting of these countries is dictated in reality not by terrorism but rather by the fact that they are friendly to China, which looms in the nightmares of the Anglo-American elite as the power threatening to supersede their empire. The problem is that an overtly anti-Chinese confrontation line would be very hard to motivate in the eyes of US and world public opinion.

In this regard, it is probably already too late to begin deception operations, no matter how sophisticated, since the basic outlines of the US anti-Russian and anti-Chinese policies are already widely known to the elites of those countries. The United States would be well advised to turn away from Yoda’s harebrained utopian scheming, and stop trying to maintain the current world system using methods like military confrontation, proxy wars, buck-passing, false flag provocations, economic sanctions, and economic warfare in general.

1 http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2009/03/index-office-of-net-assessment-reports.php?page=11

2 http://mediamattersaction.org/static/pdfs/990/Hudson%20Institute%20.2007.pdf, p. 45.

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