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Full Spectrum Dominance:

Code Name for US Continual Wars

By Henry D'Souza

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 22, 2013 


James Madison issued a warning to America in 1795 of the effects of continual war:

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."


         Full Spectrum Dominance is a Pentagon concept for the control of “all elements of a battle area:”1   air, sea, land, space and cyber.  The idea is to leave little room for the opposition to function effectively. 

         One would imagine that this would be the strategy of all armies today depending on their human and mechanical resources.  In addition, a powerful conventional army can be beaten by guerilla warfare, so that “dominance” can be limited.

Total global military spending in 2012 amounted to $1.7 trillion; NATO partners account for $1 trillion.  Developing countries are increasing their defense expenditures but their role is relatively small compared with their total population.  USA’s share of global military expenditure in 2012 is 39%, China’s 9.5%, Russia’s 5.2%, UK’s 3.5%, and Japan’s 3.4%.  The US spends more than the next top ten countries, on its military budget.2   The US is therefore expected to have the capacity for Full Spectrum Dominance over the world.

         Since military might leads to geopolitical supremacy, the aim of the West and NATO for “complete and total military domination of the world,” is not a far-fetched one.  The unknown author of “NATO and the ‘phantom menace’: a pretext for global expansion,” suggests that NATO should have been disbanded after the Second World War and the Cold War, but its functions have been expanded to include the rest of the world.  Operation “Steadfast Jazz 2013,” which is a reorganization of training and preparation for world domination, underlies the real intentions of the US alliance: destabilize a region or the world instead of working for peace.3

         The West gains in several ways from this aggressive strategy of spending less on peace than on war.  Shah notes that the UN and its branches spend a mere $30 billion annually, which is just 3% of the global military spending.  Many countries have not paid their dues: by December 31, 2010, member arrears amounted to $348 million, of which the US owed 80%.4   Madsslien notes that peace, which delivers economic prosperity and stability, does not seem to be an attractive proposition.5    The disparity between the amounts spent on peace and war made the UN Secretary General Ban-ki moon declare that the world is “over-armed and peace is under-funded.  The reader is asked to test this proposition which is the title of the book.

         Legislators, usually the representative of the rich, gain from insider information on developments of the military-industrial complex.  There is money to be made by investing in research and military hardware.  Although insider information is against the law, legislators seem to be exempt from such laws.  Levitin has this to say of those who got off lightly during the financial crisis in the US: “I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that America’s system of jurisprudence simply isn’t up to the task of holding banks and bankers accountable for their actions.”6   Since building up a case for or against anyone takes time, those responsible for the crisis, including non-bankers, might be brought to justice in due course.  

         By destabilizing a region, developed countries are raking in the cream of societies around the world, the brain and economic drain.  Immigrants then feel exploited when their qualifications are not recognized or when they are discriminated against.  A wealthy doctor may thus end up as a taxi-driver, an educated scientist as a clerk in a factory.  When a policy of draining underdeveloped countries of their human capital is deliberate, cold-blooded, and global, it is a cause of concern.

         Opponents of this view argue that people visit developed countries and refuse to go back home and claim refugee status.  Developed countries are not to be blamed for this brain drain.

         Wars are said to be won or lost by spying.  The South American view is that “the gringos (Americans) spy on everything we do.”  Another view takes into consideration the fate of Bradley Manning, who was convicted for espionage, and Edward Snowden, a CIA employee, who is wanted for leaking secret information.  Reporter Pepe Escobar writes, “The Big Brother obsession with watching, tracking, monitoring, controlling, decoding virtually everything we do digitally is leading to monumental stupidities.”7

         Those that oppose the official reactions to these two cases are fighting for the human rights issue of privacy.  Norman Solomon of RootsAction notes that, “there is so much of a close connection between human rights, democracy and peace,” that Manning should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.8 

         However, Governments have always been spying on their citizens and foreigners, and those who did not think so were naïve at best.  But after 9/11, and the Patriot Act the US Government has been more thorough with collecting data and, with modern technology, the volume per day goes into not just megabytes, but terabytes and petabytes.  Anthony adds, “The FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) have direct government-mandated warrantless access to servers at Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and other major internet companies.”  Prism is another collecting agency and the name suggests “a full spectrum dominance” of information.9   Jakob Hasse and his colleagues from Technology University of Dresden also note that “any cellphone can be traced by its digital fingerprint,” which means that tracing can be more perfect than it was in the past.

         Thoroughness in information gathering is necessary but the problem is that the information can be misused. As Edward Snowden said that the information garnered could be used to paint suspicion on an innocent person.  Hence the controversies on whether Manning and Snowden are heroes or traitors.

         Intellectuals may be suspicious of Big Government, but ironically both the US and Russia have elected Presidents who have emerged from the Secret Service, George Herbert W. Bush from the CIA and V. Putin from the KGB; this would not happen if people mistrusted spying agencies.

         Internally, within the US, full spectrum dominance of information also comes from control of the media, which is used to “manufacture consent.”  In the US, 90% of the media is controlled by six corporations: Time Warner, Disney, News Corp, Viacom, Comcast, and CBS.10   In their book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, authors Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky have shown how this concentration of power is used to propagate corporate ideology, which includes systemic biases, to cloud rather than awaken the public.  The liberal intelligentsia is then bribed into following the corporate agenda.  Chris Hedges in “The treason of the Intellectual” explains:

The power elite, especially the liberal elite, have always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees, and social status.”11


The powerful elite seek to maintain the grossly unequal distribution of wealth: 20% of the people own 88% of the net worth in the US; the top 1% hold 35% of the country’s net worth; the bottom 80% hold just 12% of the net worth in 2010, reduced from a figure of 18% in 1983.

The methods used to hold on to power vary considerably.  Sometimes the private American Legislative Exchange Council drafts laws which are then offered to Congress who pass them unchanged.  At times, the party usually representing the elite, the Republicans, re-draws districts to ensure that their party wins.  Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Florida and Ohio, for instance, spent $30 million on this exercise.  Between 2008 and 2012, 375 bills were blocked through the filibuster procedure in the Senate.  In the first half of 2013, only 15 bills were signed into law, 19 fewer than in 2011.  Republicans held up 79% of Obama’s picks for the US Circuit Court and Court of Appeals.  Tax cuts benefitted the wealthy more than the relatively poor. Some wealthy corporations bypass the law by employing temporary workers, 12% of the workforce or 17m, through contractors at less than the minimum wage.12

Full spectrum dominance by the US can be seen in other fields too.  Taken together, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), the American Stock Exchange, and the Over the Counter (OTC) are the largest in the world in market capitalization: NYSE’s was, for example, $14,272 billion in 2011, and NASDAQ’s was $4,687 billion.13 

With this sort of wealth, the US was able to build seven out of the top ten universities in the world: Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, University of California at Los Angeles, and Yale.14

The US has, in addition five of the top ten hospitals in the world: Sharp-Memorial Hospital – San Diego, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Detroit, Florida Hospital Westerman-Tevares, Massachusetts General Hospital, and John Hopkins.15

With such dominance in various fields, the US was able to influence several other countries.  To give one instance, Britain, Japan, Australia, and Kenya changed their educational systems to the American without even most of the education leaders knowing of the source of the change.  The influence came unobtrusively through World Bank financing.16

Since American foreign policy is not just influenced but controlled by the Israeli lobby it is not surprising to see that Full Spectrum Dominance is taken to its logical extremes in Palestine.  All official imports to the West Bank and Gaza have to come through Israel; custom duties are collected by Israel; Palestinians are not free to move from one village to another or even from some homes to their fields without being blocked by a wall or passing through check-points.  Palestinians are welcome to Israel as cheap labor after a long waiting time at checkpoints.  Foreign Imperialists are dispossessing local inhabitants of their land, livelihood and heritage.

The US has, in addition, threatened to cut off aid to institutions recognizing the Palestinian state.  The US has a law to that effect and has applied it to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNID).  Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), as the top Representative on the Senate Appropriations Committee and State and Foreign Operations sub-committee and an Israeli defender, is backing the extension of this law to other UN institutions.  He is backed as usual by Senator John McCain (R-AZ).  The Palestinian leadership wants to join 16 more UN agencies.  The US has also threatened to cut off the $500 m it gives in aid to Palestine.17

With global dominance, comes the need to protect servicemen abroad.  The US feels that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA) do not offer enough protection for their servicemen.  The US seeks to gain Agreements in line with Article 98 of the Rome Statute to prevent American soldiers from appearing before the International Criminal Court; it has succeeded with 102 countries so far and is waiting for 16 more to agree with the Rome Statute Agreement.  The US has deliberately refrained from being a member of the International Criminal Court.18 

Justified or not, US policy generates critics and rebels internally and externally.  Since Obama became President civilian militias are on the rise.  By one count there are 1300 civilian militia groups working against their government.19   Historian of the University of Hartford Robert Churchill would divide these militias into constitutionalists and millenarians.20

The constitutionalists stress civil liberties and organize the public.  They oppose, what they call, tyranny by government: in 1992, the federal agencies were accused wrongly of killing Randy Weaver, a former US Army Green Beret, who had killed his wife and child; they opposed the confiscation of a .38 revolver from an elderly woman during Hurricane Katrina as it violated the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms which was incorporated in the Bill of Rights; the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement claim that laws do not apply to them and often use legal theory to avoid paying taxes;  in 1995, the Unabomber killed 3 over a period of 20 years over environmental issues; some, including a few Republicans, still oppose “Obamacare” after it has been passed into law, after dozens of repeal votes have failed, and after the Supreme Court decided that it was valid.  The success of Obamacare would boost the Democratic Party which gave the country two other pillars of social safety nets, Social Security and Medicare.21

The millenarians are paranoid, violent, offer apocalyptic rhetoric, and tend to form secret cells.  The most famous case was that of Timothy McVeigh.  He was part of a secret group that used plastic explosives to blow up a Federal building in Okhlahoma City killing 168 people.

There were several foiled attempts of militias taking the law into their own hands.  Two skinhead plots intended to kill President Obama.  At his inauguration there was a plot to use a dirty bomb with radioactive materials.  Some Tea Party members showed up with their klan hoods for Obama’s speech in Arizona; they sang “Bye, bye, black sheep” and taunted with a placard, “Impeach the half-white Muslim.” The cry for impeachment was also heard from Texas Republican Blake Farenthold who said in another venue that, “You can probably get the votes in the House to impeach the President.”22

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) monitors the activities of hate groups.  SPLC stands for civil rights issues and tries to protect the “exploited, the powerless, and the forgotten.”  SPLC has an endowment of $245.3 million.

Externally, the downside is the rise and strengthening of Al Qaeda.  Pentagon says that the core is reduced.  But it is capable of forming cells whenever and wherever it wants.  The Editorial Board of the New York Times feels that al Qaeda is the most single threat to Western interests since 9/11.23     If violence begets violence, then the drone strikes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are fuelling the insurgency.

Gardner24 notes that Al Qaeda in Yemen is the most dangerous for the West.  It is loyal to the head of Al Qaeda Al Zawahiri.  It is a model for others.  It successfully targets western embassies.  Its key man is Abdullah Al Asiri a chemical engineer of Saudi origin who is an innovator with chemical bombs which cannot be detected by dogs or machines.  McGeough25 adds that Al Qaeda is alive and well after 15 years of its existence.  Syria has become the new Afghanistan and 6,000 Al Qaeda fighters are leading the rebels in the charge to oust President Assad.

Indian correspondent Indrani Bagchi 26 notes that Al Qaeda is embracing issues in Syria and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  Further, Al Qaeda is aided by several militant groups in the Af-Pak-Central Asia area: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP), Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Jaish –i-Mohammad, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the Haqqani Network, Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  Some Pakistani groups are aided by the army and the Intelligence Services.

Al Qaeda also seems to have developed an infrastructure in Iraq, moving freely from Syria into Iraq.  The main controversy in Iraq is no longer between Sunnis and Shias, but the dominance of foreign jihadis.

The peaking of the Full Spectrum Dominance can be dated from 25 December 1991, when the collapse of the Soviet Union left the US as the sole Superpower to 2010 when new blocs appeared: a federation of Europe by the Lisbon Treaty, the Latin-Caribbean Alliance, and the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.  These blocs and what followed were a challenge to a uni-polar world.

Just as the internet was introduced by the military and took unusual forms of development, Full Spectrum Dominance intended for the military took unexpected forms.

James Madison issued a warning to America in 1795 of the effects of continual war:

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."


August 16, 2013, first draft

© Henry D’ Souza, #601-3700 Kaneff Crescent, Mississauga, ON, L5A 4B8, Canada

Essays of Contemporary World History

Criticism is welcome


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIRI):

Global military expenditure was $1.7 trillion




International Criminal Court, Hague                         US share  greater in 2010 than 2012




Helen Thomas                                                 Bradley Manning                                 Julius Assange





        Shimon Peres                                                      Source:






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