The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: “Total War” and the Ideology of Imperialism | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization


This is the third of four articles analyzing the new US Department of Defense Law of War Manual.

The Department of Defense (DOD) Law of War Manual represents the most advanced ideological expression of the striving of US imperialism to dominate and control the entire world by means of military force.

By authorizing the Pentagon to occupy, wage war against and impose its own version of “law” in every corner of the planet, the DOD manual merely formalizes the world-hegemonic agenda of US imperialism and points to its logical endpoint.

“US capitalism is up against the same problems that pushed Germany in 1914 on the path of war. The world is divided? It must be redivided. For Germany it was a question of ‘organizing Europe.’ The United States must ‘organize’ the world. History is bringing humanity face to face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism.” This was written by the founder of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky, in 1934.

From the mid-1970s onward, the US ruling class has engaged in a relentless militarization drive aimed at overcoming through armed force its economic decline.

This was also foreseen by Trotsky, who wrote:

“In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom. The United States will seek to overcome and extricate herself from her difficulties and maladies primarily at the expense of Europe, regardless of whether this occurs in Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, or Europe itself, or whether this takes place peacefully or through war.”

The Law of War Manual, which elaborates protocols for military operations in every corner of the globe by the Pentagon and its proxy forces, amounts to a manifesto for this process, set down in legal jargon. If the guidelines laid out in the manual are allowed to be implemented—that is, if the international working class does not intervene in time on the basis of a revolutionary program—then humankind faces a future dominated by concentration camps, slaughter on an unprecedented scale, and, ultimately, a nuclear holocaust.

In essence, the DOD manual represents a comprehensive statement of the only “solution” to the world crisis that the imperialist cliques in Washington and on Wall Street are capable of offering.

Total war

The first two articles in this series have drawn the parallels between the Department of Defense Law of War Manual and the legal and political ideology of Nazi Germany. It has been shown that the very same fascist conceptions rejected by leading American jurists at the Nuremberg trials have, in the form of the DOD manual, been codified as official state policy at the highest levels of the American government.

Later sections of the DOD manual, those covering the practices of US military operations, make clear that the scorched earth methods employed by the Nazis against the populations of Europe, the Soviet Union and North Africa are now embraced and defended by the Pentagon high command.


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