Brian Jenkins, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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The Rand Corporation is closely linked to the Pentagon by historic ties and an ongoing dominant funding relationship. As Rand's top authority on terrorism, Brian Jenkins would hardly be able to contest the Western model of terrorism, and he has never done so. In fact, for many years Jenkins has been actively involved in formulating terrorist strategies for his own government. Having served in the Green Berets, Jenkins became a counterinsurgency specialist at Rand, writing and advising on the best ways to defeat America's insurgent enemies in Guatemala, El Salvador, and elsewhere. A 1977 article coauthored by Jenkins is an apologia for U.S. intervention in Guatemala and Guatemalan state terrorism. [1] As an important advisor in the construction of a counterinsurgency program in El Salvador in the early 1980s, Jenkins recommended that traditional methods be supplemented by the use of propaganda to discredit insurgents as "terrorists."[2] In another coauthored report in 1984, Jenkins recommended that the U.S. engage in low-intensity warfare against Nicaragua through a proxy army, actions that fall within Jenkins's own definition of state sponsored terrorism. In short, Jenkins's role as government advisor on policies involving state violence and insurgencies puts him in a serious conflict-of-interest position as an expert on terrorism.

Jenkins has written extensively on terrorism and has made numerous appearances at conferences and as a media expert of choice. He also edits 'TVI Journal' (the acronym stands for "Terrorism, Violence, Insurgency"), a journal that he acquired from members of the 'Soldier of Fortune' network in 1985. [3] It is interesting, given his position at a government-sponsored agency and as an advisor on U.S.-sponsored terrorist activities, that Jenkins is one of the "moderates" among the terrorism experts. His moderation is displayed in that he is one of the few among the establishment experts who has openly castigated Sterling's Soviet network model.[4] He also acknowledges that terror is not a monopoly of the left, that guerrilla movements may be legitimate responses to real grievances and cannot be dismissed as terror-based, and that eye-for-an-eye policies and strategies of preemptive actions have serious shortcomings.

Jenkins is, however, incapable of addressing openly Western primary terrorism and its causal role. His own country cannot be a terrorist state, nor are its allies, by rule of arbitrary political assumption. He says that "terrorist activity accompanies postwar decolonization, which continued up through the 1960s."[5] Neither the French in Algeria nor the South African government and army, however, were "terrorizing." Only the rebels were. Although he formally admits that states can terrorize directly or through "vigilantes" or other surrogates, in his recent and general discussions he never mentions "death squads" and "disappearances," or names Guatemala, Argentina, South Africa, or Operation Condor as illustrative cases, although they involve big numbers. He notes that "arbitrarily taking 100 deaths as the criterion, only a handful of [terrorist] incidents of this scale have occurred since the beginning of the century. Lowering the criterion to 50 deaths produces a dozen or more additional incidents."[6] Looking back at table 2-1, we can see that Israel alone has produced as many large-scale terrorist incidents (100 or more dead) as Jenkins's count for the twentieth century, and in table 3-1, it is obvious that Western state terrorism could otherwise easily provide a large increment to his numbers.

Jenkins's exclusion of these other cases violates his own criteria of inclusion. He acknowledges that official military forces may be terrorists if they attack civilian populations in violation of the rules of war or if they maltreat prisoners. He mentions the My Lai massacre by American troops in Vietnam as a possible case of terrorism.[7] If one did include My Lai, this by itself would exceed the largest entry of Jenkins's incidents for the entire century, and My Lai was only one of many similar assaults on civilians; It is also a well-documented fact that the torture and killing of prisoners in Vietnam was very extensive.[8]

Jenkins never explains why Western state violence which fits his own definition and criteria for inclusion as terroristic is excluded. He simply refuses to examine the data and assess their importance. He says that the killing of several hundred U.S. marines at Beirut was "the deadliest incident in the annals of international terrorism,"[9] although the victims were soldiers. The far larger number killed at Sabra and Shatila, for example, were noncombatants. In his list of political leaders terrorists have killed or tried to kill, he includes Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, the pope, Ronald Reagan, and other Western leaders, but not General Schneider and Salvador Allende or Fidel Castro.[10] As countries who are leading targets of terrorists, he offers the United States, France, and Turkey, among others, but not Cuba and Nicaragua.

Jenkins notes that nations other than the United States and its allies "do not see moral distinctions between ramming a truck filled with explosives into an embassy and dropping high explosives on a city from a military aircraft. Even some of our allies have difficulty perceiving the difference between state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East and U.S. support for the 'contras' in Nicaragua."[11] By Jenkins's own and any standard Western definition, support of the contras is clearly state-sponsored terrorism, and the CIA Pentagon mining of Nicaragua's harbors and other activities are even direct state terrorism. But Jenkins cannot bring himself to say this straightforwardly. As an employee of Rand and coauthor of a report advocating U.S. sponsorship of terrorism in Nicaragua, he could hardly do this. We will see that our next expert, Robert Kupperman, shares this inability to follow through on definitions - a clear demonstration of their role as agents of the state and their disqualification as objective analysts.


  1. ^. Brian Jenkins and Caesar D, Sereseres, "U.S. Military Assistance and the Guatemalan Armed Forces," Armed Forces and Society, Aug. 1977, pp, 575-94. Among many other travesties, this article mentions that U.S. military aid "has contributed to the institutional improvement in the Guatemalan armed forces," and that "the U.S. advised and supported civic action program was helpful in improving the army's image with the rural population," They refer to Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro as "a popular and effective establishment leader," For a sharply different view. see Piero Gleijeses, "Guatemala: Crisis and Response;' in Richard B. Fagen and Olga Pellicer, eds., The Future of Central America: Policy Choices for the United States and Mexico (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. 1983). pp, 187-212.
  2. ^. For a discussion of Jenkins's role in this CI enterprise and positions taken, see Richard A, White, The Morass (New York: Harper & Row. 1984), pp. 88-94.
  3. ^. TVI Journal was formerly published by Peder Lund and edited by Mark Monday and Robert Chapman. Lund directs Paladin Press, the book-publishing arm of Soldier of Fortune magazine and the premier producer of assassination and "unorthodox" combat manuals in the United States, In 1983, Lund traveled to El Salvador with a Soldier of Fortune contingent of mercenaries to help "train" certain elements of the Salvadoran military, A photo in Soldier of Fortune, September 1983, shows Lund with a Salvadoran soldier and the bodies of two dead "guerrillas," Robert Chapman, Lund's associate editor, was with the CIA for twenty-seven years and wrote The Crimson Web of Terror for Paladin Press.
  4. ^. "Like a magician she conjures up the impression that there is a Moscow Master Plan, leaving the audience to flesh out the illusion:' Review in Washington Post, reprinted in International Herald Tribune, May 28, 1981. Quoted in Schmid, Political Terrorism, pp. 213-14.
  5. ^. Brian Jenkins, "The Future Course of International Terrorism," in Anat Kurz, ed., Contemporary Trends in World Terrorism (New York: Praeger, 1987), p, 150. This book was published for the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies,
  6. ^. Ibid., p. 157.
  7. ^. Jenkins's language is a little murky on this point: it "could conceivably, justifiably be acts of terrorists." "Terrorism-Prone Countries and Conditions," in Ariel Merari, ed., On Terrorism and Combatting Terrorism (Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1985), p, 54, This book also is a publication of the Jaffee Center and is based on a 1979 seminar on terrorism.
  8. ^. John Duffett, ed., Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunal (New York: O'Hara Books, 1968), pp, 392-574; Edward S. Herman, Atrocities in Vietnam (Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1970), pp. 30-33, 66-70; Holmes Brown and Don Luce, Hostages of War: Saigon's Political Prisoners (Washington, D.C.: Indochina Mobile Education Project, 1973).
  9. ^. Brian Jenkins, "Can the U,S. Strike Back at Terrorists?" Newsday, May 6, 1984.
  10. ^. Current Trends, pp. 155-56.
  11. ^. Brian Jenkins, "Terror Becomes a Fact of Modern Life," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 15, 1985.