The Death of a General

A MIC Perspective

The U.S. military-industrial-congressional triangle (MIC) is comprised of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces; industry, the corporations that sell goods and services to the Pentagon and allied governments; and U.S. Congress, which authorizes funding for the Pentagon to purchase industry’s goods and services. The MIC is insulated. It is entirely removed from the will of the U.S. public; the public elects the congressional side of the triangle, but industry corrupts Congress (via, for example, campaign finance, strategic allocation of manufacturing plants, think tank narratives, and forceful lobbyists), neutralizing the prospects of redress or the attainment of a republic. Last week at Baghdad International Airport, the U.S. military, under the direction of former Raytheon executive (current Secretary of War) Mark Esper, assassinated another human, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Also killed in the airstrike were members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, a paramilitary organization operating as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which are part of the overall Iraqi state security apparatus. This follows U.S. airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah in eastern Syria and Western Iraq on Sunday, December 29. Global citizens add these deaths to the hundreds of thousands who have died in the post-9.11 wars.

U.S. President Donald Trump approved the airstrike against Gen. Soleimani. From George W. Bush through Donald J. Trump, the White House is a premier dealer of goods and services from the U.S. war industry. It sells to allied regimes, like the despotic House of Saud, and facilitates use of such goods and services in wars, hot and cold, against populaces in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The salient, relevant difference between Trump and his recent predecessors is that he approved the airstrike on Gen. Soleimani, while Bush and Obama had rejected such an assassination. The murder of Soleimani must be seen against the backdrop of increased funding and authorities given by Congress to the military and industry sides of the MIC in recent National Defense Authorization Acts. It was only a matter of time until an occupant of the White House approved the airstrike when faced with such immense military-industrial pressure. Though Trump is a brutal tyrant, this airstrike isn’t about him. It is about the military-industrial weight that has captured U.S. government.

The airstrike was carried out using a General Atomics MQ-9 drone, a favorite of the U.S. military and CIA. The Blue Brothers, Neal and Linden who own General Atomics, have made millions of dollars selling such drones to France, the U.K., the U.S., Australia, Spain, and other governments. The Blue Brothers are just two of dozens of high-profile profiteers guiding the war industry (including Marillyn Hewson at Lockheed Martin, Tom Kennedy at Raytheon Technologies, Bill Brown at L3Harris, and Nazzic Keane at SAIC). A variety of ordnance, from General Dynamics bombs to Lockheed Martin & Raytheon missiles, can be launched from General Atomics drones. Thousands have died from this deadly combination. Expensive, seductive, plentiful, and often indiscriminate, drones are the consummate instrument of the MIC élite steering the moribund U.S. Empire.

For years, corporate media, accepting advertising dollars from war corporations and punditry from MIC officials, have hyped Gen. Soleimani as the sly, strategic mastermind of Iran’s Quds Force—always “elite,” never contextualized. Corporate media and the D.C. regime say Gen. Soleimani is a “terrorist.” The MIC abuses the term “terrorist,” contorting it to such an extent that now anyone who pushes back against D.C.’s edicts or hegemony is branded a “terrorist.” Soleimani was a “terrorist” because he supported Hezbollah, a defensively oriented social welfare provider based in Lebanon; opposed Israeli Apartheid; and wielded significant influence in Iraq, a nation the U.S. government invaded and shredded in 2003. The fact that Iranian-backed paramilitary organizations were some of the most successful groups confronting the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq has been repeatedly withheld from corporate media accounts of Iranian activity.

Girding the assassination of Soleimani are two tricks of the MIC trade: defensive posturing and blaming the enemy no matter the circumstances. U.S. military leadership justified the airstrike by claiming Gen. Soleimani was developing plans to attack U.S. diplomats and military personnel. This has since been exposed as a lie. The MIC regularly frames its attacks, big and small, as defensive operations. Iran is to blame. When undisclosed parties attacked oil tankers in the Persian Gulf during summer, 2019, the MIC blamed Iran. In September, Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for strikes against Saudi oil facilities. The MIC blamed Iran. Unknown parties launched a rocket attack at a U.S. military base near Kirkuk during late-December, killing one U.S. mercenary. The MIC blamed Iran while asserting that Gen. Soleimani was ultimately responsible for previous killings of U.S. military personnel occupying Iraq. MIC logic positions D.C.’s actions as defensive, responding to aggression.

The leadership within the Pentagon that bullies Iran and pushes us all toward war is stacked with civilian officials who made their fortunes at war corporations. These civilian officials—in such imposing posts as Under Secretary for Policy, Under Secretary for Acquisition & Sustainment, and Secretary—will soon return to industry to profit once more, this time from the aggressive policies they recently enacted. But what about the uniformed military leaders? The 3- and 4-star generals and admirals who co-lead the Pentagon will retire shortly and join war corporations as advisers, lobbyists, counselors, vice presidents, and directors. (Some, like Adm. James Stavridis and Gen. John Allen, also enter academia and industry’s think tanks.) The airstrike on Gen. Soleimani serves no strategic or tactical military purpose. Matters of strategy and tactics do not concern current or aspiring war profiteers.

U.S. Congress, which has abstained from its constitutional authority to declare war and enforce peace, played its role well. Senators Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse issued roaring praise of the airstrike, while, on the other hand, Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall framed the airstrike as “Trump’s dangerous escalation” and “President Trump is bringing our nation to the brink of an illegal war,” respectively. By focusing on the Trump White House, both Sanders and Udall miss the underlying corporate impetus driving the MIC, which will always find new enemies to justify bureaucratic authority, territorial expansion, and massive war budgets (the bulk of which is spent on corporations). Intelligence and White House officials briefed members of the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, post-strike, Friday afternoon in a classified setting. (Reminder: war corporations spend millions of dollars annually lobbying and funding the campaigns of officials on these Committees.) Secrecy and compartmentalization prevent the U.S. public from being informed on matters of war and peace, and effectively snuff out another avenue of democratic engagement.

D.C. imposes warzones on disparate peoples, from Colombia to the Sahel to Iraq to the Philippines. Global war is professionally and financially profitable to the élites running the military-industrial-congressional triangle. Iraqi protestors from across the political and sectarian spectra have been calling for Tehran and D.C. to stay out of Iraq’s internal affairs. One day the aforementioned regimes will heed the people’s demands.

Christian Sorensen is a novelist and independent journalist. His work focuses on the U.S. war industry. Read other articles by Christian, or visit Christian's website.