By Rainer Shea – Jul 17, 2021
In this era of decline for U.S. imperialist hegemony and contraction in capital, colonialism increasingly asserts itself through crude and haphazard exercises in profit-driven brutality. Like how the Roman empire during its era of decay turned to barbarian armies of an often renegade nature, Washington is more and more resorting to the tactics of extravagantly paying private mercenary contractors for its global terrorism operations, and of sadisticaly torturing colonialism’s victims for the profits of U.S. imperialism’s internal prison-industrial complex.
In this landscape where the reactionaries are simultaneously lashing out with ever more ferocity, and experiencing a weakening of their system, those who seek national and class liberation are presented with opportunities for exploiting these weaknesses. But to succeed, we must recognize the ways that the reactionaries are still capable of harming us. Gaza shows the full extent of how the revolutionary forces can be made isolated, besieged, and subject to the instruments of privatized terror which imperialism is proliferating.
Israel, like Latin America’s U.S. neo-colonies, has always been used as a laboratory in necro-politics. Washington takes the advancements in surveillance, repressive techniques, censorship, para-state violence, and propaganda that the Zionist state creates to sustain its colonial war, and applies them to the other places where the empire is fighting off resistance. Israel has sold the technologies it uses to intensively monitor the occupied Palestinian population to Colombia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, the UAE, Uzbekistan, and many other governments. Israel has been exporting its Hasbara propaganda model to the Gulf monarchies, in addition to the special relationship that it’s solidified with the U.S. media. Israel has shipped weapons to Ukraine’s genocidal U.S.-installed regime, sold military technologies to right-wing Latin American governments like the ones in Colombia and Brazil, and provided training to U.S. police forces — to the consequence that law enforcement violence against nonwhites within the U.S. has been noticeably rising over the last decade.
It’s unsurprising that the U.S. has been perhaps the largest importer of Israel’s tools, incorporating Israeli social control mechanisms which range everywhere from policing to spying to propaganda to missile defense in the form of a Raytheon-developed U.S. Iron Dome system. The U.S. is the settler state where colonialism’s contradictions are pronounced in a similar level of intensity to how they are in Israel; it’s trying to maintain its global military primacy amidst an emerging multi-polar world order, at the same time that it’s trying to prevent a rebellion from its internal colonized peoples and struggling to respond to a record influx of indigenous southern refugees.
The U.S. has become the most Israelified for the same reason it’s had the most Covid-19 deaths: it’s the core of global imperialism, creating for it an exceptional series of risk factors for destabilization that the capitalist state only knows how to respond to with ever more brutal crackdowns. Crisis capitalism, where companies profit from disaster, correlates with this violent reaction.
The growing brutality of the U.S. state, and of its aligned security companies, is apparent in the highly intrusive network of surveillance towers that the U.S. has built along its southern border — constructed by the Israeli tech firm Elbit — that Codastory’s Erica Hellerstein has described as a case of “authoritarian tech” where “a corridor of surveillance becomes lethal”:
Crossing through southern Arizona’s rugged desert is a potentially lethal endeavor. The harsh and searingly hot landscape is a “land of open graves,” according to University of California, Los Angeles anthropologist Jason de León. Over the past two decades, the remains of 3,721 people have been uncovered in the region, with a significant increase in the early 2000s…While there is little research on the intersection between border surveillance and migrant deaths, a 2019 peer-reviewed study by researchers from the University of Arizona and Earlham College found that the surveillance matrix along southern Arizona’s border — including towers and ground sensors — forced migrants to use more dangerous routes in the desert, exposing them to greater risk of dehydration and heat exposure.
Something similar happens in Gaza, where Israel becomes aware the moment that anyone within the water-deprived and starvation-riddled Gaza strip crosses the lethal no-go zones that the occupier has set up to keep the Palestinians from leaving their open-air concentration camp. At the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden is cultivating a parallel system, with Biden still refusing to pull out the troops that Trump deployed to the area in 2018. The U.S. has concentration camps for the refugees that these troops are tasked with blocking; this is shown by a recent report which found that dozens of deaths in ICE custody have been linked to inadequate medical care, or to delayed responses to the disease-ridden conditions within the migrant camps. And like how Israel makes Gazans desperate through a blockade, and through bombing Palestinian infrastructure and buildings, Washington is manufacturing the conditions which compel Latin America’s indigenous people to flee.
Biden’s Latin America policy, which has consisted of strengthening U.S. ties to the region’s right-wing governments and therefore furthering the hemisphere’s paradigm of neoliberal exploitation, is deepening a humanitarian disaster for the Global South that more and more resembles the one the Zionists have engineered within Gaza. Three of Latin America’s largest cities are in danger of running out of water in the near future, while sixteen of its largest cities are already experiencing water-related stress. This is a crisis that the anthropologist Robert Albro has attributed to the inequalities created by neoliberalism: “as agricultural economies throughout much of the region collapse as a result of changing climatic conditions, urban in-migration is a continuing challenge. Combine this with poor and neglected infrastructure, unregulated industrial pollution, high levels of freshwater contamination, increasing social contestation around water access and management — and the problem looks daunting.”
It’s a crisis that Washington, in partnership with Israel, has long been working to make the region unprepared for. With the help of Israel’s most decorated spies, Colombia’s government has carried out a political genocideagainst those who’ve sought to improve the living conditions of their communities, orchestrating the extrajudicial executions of thousands of people over the course of several decades simply for being communist-affiliated. Since 2016 alone, over 1,200 human rights activists have been killed in Colombia as well. This is just one aspect of the intensifying campaign of political repression that Latin America’s neo-colonial regimes have carried out post-Operation Condor, all with Israel’s assistance.
The Colombian narco-state’s recent campaign of terror against anti-austerity demonstrators, where the police have adopted the strategy of aiming for protesters’ eyes, helicopters have been shooting at unarmed civilians in broad daylight, and paramilitaries have disappeared random individuals, further shows the parallel between Colombia and Israel. And when a Latin American country breaks free from imperial control, as Cuba has done, the empire economically strangulates it so that it can treat the country’s resulting migrants with maximum cruelty. Last year, migrants from Cuba reported being gassed by ICE, an incident which brings up another genocidal regime that the U.S. has had a hand in creating: Nazi Germany.
In southwest Asia, which is undergoing an even more severe drought, Israel’s evils have long been replicated; talking about the wanton killings of civilians that U.S. troops carried out in the Iraqi city of Fallujah during anti-American demonstrations in 2004, geography professor Ahmed Jaber Saab reported that “This is exactly like what’s happening in Palestine. I didn’t believe it until I saw it myself.” In Afghanistan, the equivalent campaign to terrorize civilians for the sake of suppressing anti-imperialist movements has been present in CIA death squads, which have carried out the executions of entire families and burnt down homes with the direction of U.S. intelligence. It’s like how IDF snipers shoot unarmed Palestinians with the full knowledge of the Israeli commanders.
What all of these atrocities have in common is a growing role for private capital in the torture, psychologically abusive mass surveillance, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings, and destruction of public and personal property. During its decay, colonialism is privatizing its instruments of violence, being content not merely to build capital on top of the genocides it perpetuates but to make those genocides into another avenue for gaining profits. This privatization is incentivized not just by the diplomatic and narrative cover that substituting soldiers for mercenaries provides, but by the necessity for capital to insert itself into ever more facets amid capital’s larger weakening; the decline in profits over the last half-century has mandated that capitalism eat itself, that the bourgeoisie keep up profits not just by redistributing wealth upward but by commodifying ever more goods and services.
Following Trump’s pardoning last year of the Blackwater mercenaries who had massacred Iraqi civilians, this process is being accelerated. Biden is privatizing the Afghanistan war by replacing troops with mercenary contractors, creating an additional layer of impunity and secrecy for this new generation of death squads within the country. Prison companies are partnering with ICE to detain migrants, and alternatively to subject them to ankle monitors which put their every move under surveillance. For several years now, Elbit has placed an entire indigenous community near the border under surveillance, amounting to cultural genocide by making the Natives unable to practice their traditional ceremonies for fear of being monitored by hostile white ICE agents. In Colombia, Haiti, and other Latin American neo-colonies, mercenaries have been taking on an increasing role in the repressive campaigns, paralleling how U.S.-financed mercenaries have likely organized the recent right-wing mass vandalism attacks within Cuba. And in Israel, along with its partnered Gulf dictatorships, mercenaries have become increasingly integral to state violence.
As Dr. Walid ‘Abd al-Hay wrote this year about the implications of the proliferation of these mercenaries within Israel and other oppressor states:
Available reports about private security companies run by Israeli official and semi-official agencies indicate that there are 300 Israeli companies scattered over a large number of countries. It contributes to the security work — in cooperation with political organizations, especially right-wingers — in more than seventy countries, including Arab countries. Their contribution include training, arms transfer, intelligence collection, kidnapping, torture, prison administration, guarding settlements, and overlooking the 96 checkpoints in the occupied territories, of which 57 are fixed checkpoints in the West Bank (WB), and 39 are crossing points between the 1967 territories and the Green Line. Since 2005, the Israeli authorities have started to privatize these checkpoints…The profits of these companies have increased, and so have their branches. The growing military tendencies of some small countries or countries lacking military expertise (such as some Gulf countries), make them increase their dependence on such companies. In addition, the pressures of globalization and the existence of major forces (who are very influential in the Arab region) behind these companies that sponsor and protect them from international laws, indicate that the future involves “parallel militarization,” i.e., security companies rather than conventional military establishments. Thus adding confusion to the scene and making external penetration easier.
By spreading these mercenaries globally, the U.S. empire has established the precedents for eventually incorporating such mercenaries into its repression of the colonized peoples within its own borders. In South Africa, neo-colonial corporations have created a rise of private police, leading to a replication of apartheid-esque racial inequalities. As these kinds of police forces become increasingly prominent within the U.S., parallel militarization is fusing with the intensifying military occupation that African, brown, and indigenous communities inside the country already live under. As the American Prospect’s Amelia Pollard has written this year:
Despite horrific police abuses, in America most police are at least public, so there is the possibility of greater accountability. The state of Illinois has just passed a major reform law that eliminates cash bail, enables the state to bring civil action against officers with repeated misconduct, and mandates new police training in de-escalation. But all the while, private policing in the U.S. is immense and rapidly growing…Private armed guards are increasingly patrolling federal buildings, banks, schools, supermarkets, hospitals, and most recently, vaccine sites. Private police run privatized prisons. Mercenaries do combat duties for the U.S. military.
Pay attention to what the imperialists have been doing in their foreign laboratories, whether Gaza or South Africa or Colombia. They paint a picture of what to expect within U.S. borders.
Featured image: The U.S.-Mexico border