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MIC Bulletin, 2003

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Foreign Policy --The Military-Industrial Complex--By James Fallows

Has U.S. politics shifted to the right? The domestic records of two 20th-century Republican presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, remove any doubt. Nixon took stands that would make him an isolated leftist among modern Democrats. He enforced (albeit grudgingly) school busing and racial-quota hiring plans, established the Environmental Protection Agency, redirected federal funds to state and municipal welfare programs, and tried to enact a "guaranteed annual income." Eisenhower sent troops to make sure schools were integrated and enacted public-works programs on a scale not seen since his time: For transportation, the interstate highways. For public health, the polio-vaccine campaign. For education and science, the flow of federal funds to local schools after Sputnik. The only Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a comparably liberal record of accomplishment is Lyndon Johnson, with Medicare and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Yet Eisenhower's most celebrated "liberal" statement, indeed the only statement of his that endures, has been misinterpreted through most of the last generation. In his farewell address, delivered a few days before John Kennedy took office, Eisenhower gave his famous warning against "the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." The phrase entered the lexicon, and at least within the little tribe of speechwriters it ensured the fame of its creator, Malcolm Moos. (Some accounts say that Ralph Williams, a Navy captain detailed to the White House, was also involved.) But only in the last few years have the implications of the military-industrial complex again taken on Eisenhower's original meaning.

In his speech, Eisenhower stressed the novelty of the large, permanent defense establishment, which had been created to fight World War II and then expanded because of the Cold War, and the open-endedness of its potential effects. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience," he said. "The total influence--economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government." But most historians suggest that Eisenhower's principal concern was budgetary. That is, the military itself, its allied contractors, and the appropriators in Congress all shared an interest in trumpeting potential perils and then building weapons to offset them. Eisenhower had been particularly soured by the "missile gap" controversy of the late 1950s--the bogus suggestion that the United States had fallen behind the Soviet Union in strategic missiles and therefore needed to build fast to catch up. Eisenhower's sensitivity to this issue was the more acute since Kennedy had campaigned hard on the "missile gap" as a symbol of Republican failures.

As Eisenhower's phrase entered popular usage over the next decade, its shadings changed. When people warned about the influence of the military-industrial complex in the 1960s, they usually were talking about an increased risk of actually going to war. The human symbol of this concern was Gen. Curtis LeMay. In the 1940s, he had directed the firebombings of Tokyo that killed as many people as the atomic bomb did in Hiroshima. In the 1950s, as head of the Strategic Air Command, he recommended the use of nuclear weapons against China to end the Korean War. Later, he drew up plans for a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. In the 1960s, as Air Force chief of staff, he recommended a nuclear attack on Cuba to remove the Soviet missile bases, and he later criticized Kennedy for taking the cowardly path of a naval blockade. (He ended his public career as George Wallace's running mate, in 1968.)

It was with men like LeMay in mind that Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey wrote their influential early-1960s novel about a military coup, Seven Days in May. During the Vietnam era, the military-industrial complex was a shorthand reference to the interests that presumably kept profiting from the war. Brown and Root, building those bases in the jungle? Dow Chemical, with its napalm? The view of the war industries as warmongers reached its peak in the early 1990s with Oliver Stone's movie JFK. In the climactic scene, the shadowy figure played by Donald Sutherland explains that, of course, Kennedy had to be killed, because if he had lived he would have pulled out of Vietnam and the big industrialists wouldn't have made so much money.

Vietnam was crucial in the history of the military-industrial complex, but not in the way Stone's film indicated. The oft-discussed Powell doctrine was part of the military's response to Vietnam. Its stated purpose was to keep the military from being misused, but a side effect was to make the use of military force less likely. Through at least the last decade, the more that military commanders have had to say about a decision, the less likely the United States has been to send troops. The debate leading up to the Bush administration's Iraq decision is the latest illustration.

With a more cautious approach to troop commitment, the military-industrial complex has returned to the situation that worried Eisenhower: it doesn't matter whether weapons are used (or usable), as long as they are bought. The military budget is, of course, growing rapidly. Two years ago, the United States spent as much on the military as the next eight countries combined. Last year, as much as the next 15 combined. This year, as much as the next 20. Yet it is hard to match the pattern of spending to the nature of new threats. Consider the F-22 Raptor fighter plane, which was designed in George H.W. Bush's administration. Each plane will cost well over $100 million, perhaps twice that much. The expense is mainly for measures that would allow the aircraft to penetrate a Soviet air defense system that disappeared more than a decade ago.

Since the United States has ended up with so much more imposing a force than any adversary, perhaps the complex should be thanked rather than criticized? Well, no, for exactly the reasons that Eisenhower foresaw: "economic, political, even spiritual." The economic problem is that the federal government no longer has enough money to throw around without a plan. The political problem is the distortion of the process of public choice. Pentagon budget analyst Franklin Chuck Spinney uses the term "political engineering" to describe the parceling out of defense subcontracts to the districts of influential members of Congress. The more senators and representatives are dealt into the arrangements, the harder it is for them to exercise independent judgment.

The most profound source of concern may be what Eisenhower called spiritual: the corrupting effect on the uniformed military by their alliance with contractors. Most career soldiers leave the service by their mid-40s. A tiny handful last until their mid-50s, and nearly all the retirees look for a second career. Far and away the most lucrative opportunities are with defense industries. Knowing that their careers will end this way, soldiers face difficult decisions while still in uniform. Two valuable recent books, Path to Victory by Maj. Donald Vandergriff and Boyd by Robert Coram, consider the distortions of today's military career path.

The United States is back where Eisenhower started, with a renewed appreciation of the problem posed by a military-industrial complex--and recognition of his advice that "only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry" could bring it under control.

James Fallows is the national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and won the American Book Award for National Defense (New York: Random House, 1981).

Requiem for the Powell Doctrine

Articulated by Gen. Powell when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, the Powell Doctrine was designed to avoid, as Powell once put it, "halfhearted warfare for half-baked reasons that the American people could not understand or support." The Powell Doctrine held that military force should only be used if there was a clear risk to national security; that the force used should be overwhelming; and that the operation must have strong public support and a clear exit strategy.

Still sound advice in an even-more dangerous world. But Secretary of State Powell, like the president he serves, apparently has had a change of heart. Secretary Powell endorses the Liberian adventure, which fails the Powell Doctrine Test on all counts. His current views, as expressed in a July 23 interview with the Washington Times, sound, well, half-baked.

In the interview, Powell admitted, "If you ask the question, 'What is our strategic, vital interest?' it will be hard to define it that way." However, he argued, we have "a historic link to Liberia," an interest in making sure West Africa doesn't "come apart," and "an interest in showing the people of Africa that we can support efforts to stabilize a tragic situation."

In 1992, a more cautious and skeptical Colin Powell warned the public about what could happen when our forces are put in harm's way with a vague injunction to "do good." He declared: "We must not... send military forces into a crisis with an unclear mission they cannot accomplish -- such as we did when we sent the U.S. Marines into Lebanon in 1983. We inserted those proud warriors into the middle of a five-faction civil war complete with terrorists, hostage-takers, and a dozen spies in every camp, and said, 'Gentlemen, be a buffer.' The results were 241 Marines and Navy personnel killed and a U.S. withdrawal."

Military-Industrial Complex -- a good collection of annotated links.

What is the military industrial complex

War Is A Racket - Major General Smedley Butler. According to Butler, World War I cost the U.S. 52 billion dollars, giving 16 billion in profits to private corporations. He illustrated the significance of this by comparing the profits of several large companies before and during the war.

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Military-Industrial Complex Revisited Mission Implausable

This "two war" scenario is implausible in the extreme. As Michael Klare has masterfully demonstrated in his book, Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws, Colin Powell devised the two war strategy once he realized that the United States was "running out of enemies" large enough to justify spending hundreds of billions on the Pentagon every year. Klare also demonstrates that the two "major regional conflicts" that are the building blocks of the Pentagon’s new spending scenario both involve theoretical regional adversaries that are far better armed and equipped than existing regional powers like Iraq or North Korea.4

Michael Klare is not alone in suggesting that the new threats to U.S. security have been greatly exaggerated. Pentagon budget analyst Franklin Spinney has bluntly asserted that "the Pentagon’s two war strategy is just a marketing device to justify a high budget." Merrill McPeak, who served as Air Force Chief of Staff during and after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, has also weighed in on this issue:

We should walk away from the two war strategy. Neither our historical experience nor our common sense leads us to think we need to do this. We’ve had to fight three major regional contingencies in the past 45 years—Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. One comes along every 15 years or so—two have never come along simultaneously.5

For those who question whether conflicts like Vietnam or the Gulf War were essential to U.S. security, McPeak’s estimate of one major conflict every 15 years can be extended to one every twenty to thirty years. And, as we will discuss later, the U.S. military budget could be sharply reduced if our government would take concerted action to prevent conflict. A preventive strategy would be far cheaper and more effective than the current approach of marshaling huge, expensive forces to prepare for contingencies that are unlikely to occur. This point is borne out by the war in Kosovo, where it has become painfully evident that the costly application of high tech military force is the wrong tool for dealing with ethnic conflicts and civil wars. By forcing the withdrawal of human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations that had been operating in the province, the NATO bombing campaign actually made it easier for Serb forces to drive ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo at gunpoint. And by intervening in an internal conflict without seeking the consent of the United Nations Security Council, the United States and its NATO allies have confronted one illegitimate use of force--ethnic cleansing in Kosovo--with another--NATO’s unauthorized bombing campaign. Meanwhile, relatively inexpensive measures that might have stopped the killing in Kosovo sooner--such as a beefed-up monitoring presence by the woefully underfunded Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe or a well-funded United Nations peacekeeping effort--were cast aside in favor of an ill-considered air war.6

Krushchev on Eisenhower and Cold War Military Industrial Complex

However, we must also keep in mind the true character of all imperialists, capitalists, monopolists, and militarists who are interested in making money out of the political tension between nations. We must make sure we don't allow allow ourselves to get involved in a lot of senseless competition with the West over military spending. If we try to compete with America in any of the most essential areas of military preparedness, we will be doing two harmful things. First we will be further enriching wealthy aggressive capitalist circles in the United States who use our own military buildup as a pretext for overloading their own country's arms budget. Second we will be exhausting our material resources without raising the living standards of our people. We must remember that the fewer people we have in the army, the more people we will have for more productive kinds of work. This realization would be a common point of departure for the progessive forces of the world in their search for peacefull coexistence. If one side were to curtail its accumulation of military means, it would be easier for the other side to the same. We must be prepared to strike back against our enemy, but we must also ask, "Where there is an end to this spiraling competition?"

I know from experience that the leaders of the armed forces can be very persistent in claiming their share when it comes time to allocate funds. Every commander has all sorts of very convincing arguments why he should get more than anyone else. Unfortunately there is a tendency for people who run the armed forces to be greedy and self--seeking. They're always ready to throw in your face the slogan "If you try to economize on the country's defenses today, you will pay in blood when war breaks out tommorrow." I am not denying that these men have a huge responsibility, and I am not impugning their moral qualities. But the fact remains that the living standard of the country suffers when the budget is overloaded with allocations to unproductive branches of consumption. And today as yesterday, the most unproductive expenditures are all of those made on the armed forces. That's why I think that military leaders can't be reminded too often that it is government which must allocate funds, and it is government which must decide how much the armed forces can spend.

Apparently the control of military spending is a universal problem. I remember a conversation I once had with President Eisenhower when I was guest at his dacha at Camp David [in September 1959]. we went for talks together and had some useful informal talks. During one of those talks, he asked, "Tell me, Mr. Krushchev, how did you decide the question of funds for military expenses?" Then before I had a chance to say anything, he said, "Perhaps first I should tell you how it is with us."

"Well how is it with you?"

He smiled, and I smiled back at him. I had a feeling what he was going to say. "Its like this. My military leaders come to me and say, 'Mr. President, we need such and such a sum for such and such a program.' I say, 'Sorry we don't have the funds.' They say, 'We have reliable information that the Soviet Union has already allocated funds for their own such program. Therefore if we dont get the funds we need, we will fall behind the Soviet Union.' So I give in. That's how they wring money out of me. They keep grabbing for more and I keep giving it to them. Now tell me, how is it with you?"

"It's just the same. Some people from our military department come and say, 'Comrade Krushchev, look at this! The Americans are developing such and such a system. We could develop the same system, but it would cost such and such' I tell them there's no money; its been alloted already. So they say, 'If we don't get the money we need and if there's a war, then the enemy will have superiority over us.' So we discuss it some more, and I end up giving them the money they ask for." "Yes" he said, "that's what I thought. You know, we really should come to some sort of an agreement in order to stop this fruitless, really wasteful rivalry."

"I'd like to do that. Part of my reason for coming here was to see if some sort of an agreement would come out of these meetings and conversations."

But we coudn't agree then, and we can't agree now. I don't know. Maybe it's impossible to agree.

Forbes.com Military-Industrial Complex, 2003

a pro-military-industrial complex viewpoint...

The center of gravity of defense manufacturing has shifted decisively back into the civilian sector, as well. Large contractors still assemble the guidance system and explosive in a smart bomb and the complex mix of steel and silicon that makes up a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. But the components that account for much of the cost and all of the astounding precision and agility of the new weapons--powerful chips, together with the countless layers of software that make them function--are manufactured by the same companies that build microprocessors for PCs and amplifiers for cell phones. It is the huge civilian demand for PCs, digital assistants, cell phones, high-tech cars and smart appliances that has made these components as cheap and disposable as bullets.

This isn't to say that the technology moves only in one direction. Integrated circuits emerged from aerospace programs in the 1960s; gallium arsenide semiconductor amplifiers that make possible the compact, cheap cell phone were pioneered by TRW for defense purposes a decade ago. The indium phosphide, gallium nitride and silicon carbide power chips that will land in consumer electronics a decade hence are being developed today in R&D programs funded by the military.

As a part-time partner in a small venture capital firm, I have visited dozens of innovative startups that have developed new semiconductors, lasers, sensors and power-control systems under Department of Defense auspices and are now ready to begin moving their products into civilian markets. These technologies invariably started out too difficult, esoteric and expensive to be of interest to anyone but the military. The military couldn't afford them, either, but for the fact that successful information and power technologies invariably make the transition into the civilian sector, where mass production leads down the cost curve.

For volume production the military and its main contractors are now firmly committed to buying parts off the commercial shelf whenever they can. Smart weapons are mostly built from civilian components, suitably packaged and hardened for the battlefield.

Thus the military-industrial complex now consists of two relatively thin bookends to our enormous, civilian, high-tech economy. Military R&D programs push the leading-edge development of power semiconductors, software and sensors, a decade or so out ahead of Intel, Motorola or DaimlerChrysler, then encourage the migration of successful technologies out into the civilian sector as quickly as possible. Military contractors end up buying back the same technology at mass-production prices, embedding it in every vehicle, weapon and projectile on the battlefield.

"Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry," Eisenhower warned in 1961, "can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

The Military-Industrial Complex A Busy, Bizarre Bazaar

Between 1990 and 1995, our leaders exported $7 billion of surplus arms. Secretary of State Madeliene Albright commented on this phenomenon in a 1996 edition of the New York Times Magazine. "The trading of arms is disgusting and contributes to horrors around the world. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, it's a bazaar out there," she said.

What she didn't say was that 90 percent of the world arms shipments are exported by the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council; not "rogue nations" or "hostile enemies."

In 1994, then-Secretary of Defense William Perry made a trip to Beijing to represent the United States at the first meeting of the no-longer-existing U.S.-Sino Defense Conversion Commission. The commission's mission was to help Chinese arms manufacturers switch to the production of commercial goods. Perry explained the U.S. interest in this endeavor.

"It is to our benefit to help these countries (China, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia) to resist the pressure to make weapons even beyond their needs," he said. "And secondly, to resist the pressure for foreign arms sales. One very obvious way of using the excess capacity in the arms industry in each of these countries is to continue to produce the same amount but then to sell the excess to other countries."

This, Perry continued, creates "its own set of policy and security issues. So to the extent we can be useful and constructive in diverting this pressure into the production of commercial goods, then I believe it is a security benefit."

Months later, in February 1995, Perry's insight was deemed irrelevant in drafting the Clinton administration's new conventional arms transfer policy. In fact, this do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do policy says explicitly that one of its major purposes is to preserve the U.S. arms industrial base.

So, under the pretense of staying competitive in a military-technology race with no apparent competitor, some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world are being exported. Arms sales by the United States and its allies supply the military threats that we're so worried about.

Recall that Lockheed's lobbying efforts for the F-22 "Stealth" fighters were predicated on the proliferation of U.S.-manufactured F-15Es, F-16C/Ds and F/A-18s.

Guess where Lockheed makes its F-16 "Fighting Falcon"? Forth Worth, Texas - Bush's backyard. It's a popular product among foreign militaries. As of Sept. 30, 1997, according to the Federation of American Scientists Arms Sales Monitoring Project, 1,700 F-16s had been sold to 19 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.

So while pundits debate the efficacy of the electoral college, I'm concerned about the fact that both major choices presented to the electoral college would like to see the arms bazaar continue to boom well into our future.

Foreign Policy --The Military-Industrial Complex--By James ...

Return of the 'military-industrial complex' csmonitor.com

What Is the Military-Industrial Complex

Amazon.com Books The Military-Industrial Complex
Eisenhower's Warning Three Decades Later
(American University Studies. Series X, Political Science, Vol 32)

Military - Industrial Complex and Privitization

When the Soviet Union dismantled itself in 1989 and there was no longer a Cold War to justify a huge defense apparatus in the United States, some observers thought the U.S. military-industrial complex would disappear, too. And there were, in fact, some cutbacks in defense spending. The percentage of gross domestic product devoted to the military declined from 6.3 percent at the height of the Reagan buildup to 3.6 percent in the mid-1990s.

But this did not mean that the military-industrial complex had been dismantled. It was merely awaiting the creation of a new threat, which appeared in 1991. In a war that cost very few American lives, the United States punished Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait with one of the fiercest air bombardments in history. Given the public's satisfaction with a "clean" war that seemed like an extension of a child's video game, the defense contractors looked forward to producing a whole new round of sophisticated weapons. Advanced hardware, from "smart bombs" to planes that could fly "blind," won favorable publicity. President Bush claimed that forty-one of forty-two U.S. Patriot missiles had hit their targets, the more primitive Scud missiles used by Iraq. {The statement later proved to be a gross exaggeration; according to reliable estimates few Patriot missiles ever hit their targets. Furthermore, a detailed study released by the government in 1996 revealed that high-tech bombs and missiles and the F-117 Stealth fighter plane were not any more effective than the older, far cheaper aircraft and weaponry that previously comprised most of the U.S. arsenal.

This analysis of effectiveness came far too late. Shortly after the Gulf War ended in 1991, the Pentagon announced that it was awarding a new contract to the Lockheed Corporation for the production of an updated Stealth fighter plane that would cost $65 billion. And this was not the only windfall from the war. The recklessness of Saddam Hussein allowed the Pentagon and its allies to begin a campaign to convince the Congress and the American public that a new foreign threat existed. They called it the "rogue state." According to defense analysts, rogue states operated outside the norms of civilized nations and were determined to unleash terror against larger, more pacific countries. One drawback to the theory was that the states in question were generally economic and military weaklings: Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Libya. Their combined military spending amounted to only $9.4 billion in 1995. In comparison, the NATO countries, not counting the United States, spent $147.6 billion on defense, while the U.S. itself was spending $264 billion, 40 percent of the world's total military dollars.

It is unclear whether the rogue state hypothesis was convincing to the general public, but few people protested when the Congress added $11.2 billion on top of President Clinton's requested military budget for 1997. Overall defense spending was staying fairly stable despite steady reductions in the number of armed forces personnel and the continued closings of superfluous military bases. Corporate contractors did not suffer from such cutbacks. The B-2 Stealth bomber, which had never flown in combat and cost more than $2 billion per aircraft, was funded again. The price of a variety of "smart bombs, " either already being built or on order, was $58 billion. Secretary of Defense William Perry told contractors that spending on new weapons systems would increase from $38 billion in 1996 to $60 billion per year in 2000.5 Overall military expenditures in 1997 were maintained at a level that would allow the United States to fight a major war, even though there were no significant military opponents in sight.

In fact, as the twenty-first century begins, the Pentagon continues to argue that it should be able to fight not one, but two major wars in two different parts of the globe at the same time. Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak gave an honest assessment of this argument: "The two-war strategy is just a marketing device to justify a high budget."

The Independent Institute World War II and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, by Robert Higgs

Congress, as usual, went where the money was. Defense-related jobs served as a major determinant of congressional defense decisions for both liberals and conservatives. Members of Congress strove to steer contracts and subcontracts to favored constituents, who rewarded them in turn with lavish campaign contributions, votes, and other payoffs. Congressional micro-management of the defense program grew ever more elaborate as lawmakers grasped new opportunities to control the disposition of defense resources. Resistance to base closures, in particular, prompted the most exquisite legislative maneuvers. For more than a decade after 1977, the Pentagon found it impossible to close any large defense facility, no matter how obsolete or otherwise unwarranted. Weapons systems no longer desired by the military, such as A-7 and A-10 aircraft in the early 1980s, got extended funding, thanks to the efforts of friendly legislators.

This waste of money had many other pernicious consequences. With great corporations, powerful military authorities, and members of Congress all linked in a mutually self-serving complex, there was little incentive to end the Cold War. Not that anyone craved World War III. But wealth, position, power, and perquisites all rode on the shoulders of the MICC. The best of all worlds, then, was massive, ongoing preparation for war that would never occur. But with the nation well-prepared for war, national leaders launched more readily into military adventures like those in Korea and Vietnam, not to mention a variety of smaller projections of force abroad. Among the costs of the MICC, we might count the more than 112,000 American deaths sustained in the Cold War’s hot engagements.

In retrospect, we can see clearly that World War II spawned the MICC and that the war’s long continuation as the Cold War created the conditions in which the MICC could survive and prosper. America’s economy sacrificed much of its potential dynamism as the massive commitment of resources to military R&D diverted them from the civilian opportunities being pursued with great success in Japan, Germany, and elsewhere. For the period 1948-1989, national defense spending consumed, on average, 7.5 percent of American GNP. The costs to liberty were also great, as national defense authorities, using the FBI, CIA, and other agencies, violated people’s constitutional rights on a wide scale.

When we are tempted to look back at World War II as the “good war,” we would do well to consider the full range of its consequences.

[Oct 23, 2003] Charley Reese Too Much Secrecy

It is a sad thing, but the Bush administration is the most deceptive (or, if you wish to be generous, the most misinformed and manipulated) crew that has occupied the White House in the past few decades.

It is also the most secretive administration.

Let's get down to basics. There are two reasons, and only two reasons, for classifying any information as secret. One, of course, is information that would inform an enemy of our military plans and thus enable the enemy to counter them. The other reason is when revealing the information would reveal the human source of the information, such as a spy.

Using those standards, darn little information would be classified, but the Bush administration seems to want to classify everything. Why, for example, should the report of David Kay's search for weapons of mass destruction be classified? There can be nothing in that report that the Iraqis don't know. One can conclude that the only harm full publication would cause would be political embarrassment to the Bush administration.

[Oct 27, 2003] New Foreign Policy Coalition Warns of US 'Empire Building' -- 10-27-2003 By Lawrence Morahan, CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer

Washington (CNSNews.com) - Members of a newly formed coalition of policy analysts last week accused the Bush administration of pursuing an increasingly imperialistic foreign policy agenda and warned that U.S. armed forces are dangerously extended in overseas deployments as a result.

Doug Bandow, a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy - a group of scholars and analysts whose political views encompass all sides of the foreign policy debate - said the United States government is getting bigger as troop deployments overseas increase.

"Basically, if you're going to have big government abroad, you've got to be prepared to have big government at home. One aspect of that is if you want an imperial foreign policy, you're going to need an imperial military to carry it out," Bandow said.

"It's very hard to maintain garrisons all over the world in unpleasant places with a volunteer military," Bandow added.

After a panel discussion on Capitol Hill, coalition members told CNSNews.com they were seeking to turn American national security policy to what they believe are more realistic and sustainable measures for protecting U.S. vital interests.

For example, the coalition challenges the National Security Strategy, which calls on Washington to wage pre-emptive war if necessary against would-be rivals and to reshape regions of the world in ways that are compatible with U.S. interests and values.

E. Wayne Merry, a former State Department and Pentagon official, said that by invading Iraq, the United States has played its hand militarily, rendering less effective the threat of U.S. military force against potential enemies in the war on terrorism.

"The ideal military force for the United States is one that is so impressive to the outside world that no one would ever dare challenge it, and I'm afraid that one of the things that inadvertently we have done in Iraq is we have shown many of our adversaries and enemies the limits of American military power," Merry said.

The war in Afghanistan produced the image that American military power was virtually boundless. Iraq, however, has shown there are clear limits and that the U.S. is stretching those limits.

"That will encourage people who have no love for the United States to find ways of challenging us to find the weaknesses in our overstretched force structure, and I think that's potentially very dangerous," said Merry, who supported the war in Afghanistan as a necessary means of tracking down Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Like other coalition members, Merry said he opposed the war in Iraq because he did not think it was a justifiable use of American military power.

The U.S. armed forces structure currently is barely 40 percent of what it was at the height of the Cold War, with 10 Army divisions to support a foreign policy that calls for 15 or 20 divisions, Merry said.

The resulting stress on the National Guard and reserves - which are supposed to be used only in a crisis - is intolerable, Merry stated.

Rumsfeld memo realistic

The analysts described as realistic a memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld leaked this week in which he questioned the progress in the war on terrorism.

"The Rumsfeld memo suggested at least some serious person in this administration has some concerns, that despite the kind of 'happy face' the administration has put on publicly, privately there's very real concern, as there should be. That actually makes me feel a bit better," Bandow said.

In the memo, dated Oct. 16, Rumsfeld asks top aides to think of new ways to fight the war on terror. He said Washington will eventually prevail in its goals in Afghanistan and Iraq, but that it will be a "long, hard slog."

Rumsfeld appears to suggest that the United States may be fighting the war on terrorism in the wrong way, by focusing too much on military operations. He also wondered if the Pentagon could be reshaped fast enough to meet the terrorist threat.

Rumsfeld noted that the U.S. had no way of measuring its success in the war on terrorism, saying Washington had only "mixed results" so far battling al Qaeda.

Rumsfeld also cited "reasonable" progress in capturing or killing top former members of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, but he noted "somewhat slower progress" in tracking down former leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban.

"I think Secretary Rumsfeld's memo probably demonstrates something that's been commented on a number of times - that Rumsfeld is a classic conservative and not a neo-conservative like his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz," Merry said.

"Wolfowitz and his acolytes really think that we should be in the business of trying to change the Middle East, bringing democracy and Western-style economics and politics throughout the Middle East.

"A classic conservative has a much more skeptical notion of the ability to reform others, and I think Rumsfeld's memo probably reflected his underlying doubts as to this broader neo-con agenda for reform in the Middle East," Merry said.

At a news conference Thursday, Rumsfeld said the memo was aimed at getting people to think beyond day-to-day tasks and answer basic questions about the global war on terrorism and the Defense Department's roles

[Sept 14, 2003] U.S. no safer than two years ago

The security farce at the nation's airports succeeds only in persuading the public that they are safe when they board an airplane. If you harass and insult enough people, everyone will feel safer in the air. It's a shell game, a card trick. You are not safe from heat-seeking missiles fired from the ground, nor from bombs in baggage and mail and express parcels that have not been screened. Nor has there been enough screening of planes from other countries. Thus, if a Canadian plane is off course and headed for an important target, will the government scramble jets to shoot it down? Or a French or a German plane?

Ground missiles could be deflected by protective systems used by the Air Force, but such protection, proposed in a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would cost $10 billion -- money that Congress and the administration doubtless feel could be more wisely used in the Iraq sinkhole. Finally, destructive weapons could be smuggled in on ships or in railroad trains or even on riverboat barges.

Despite all the happy talk about the new Department of Homeland Security, this bureaucratic monstrosity is a shackled giant that, like the rest of the administration, confuses spin with substance. Secretary Tom Ridge recently assured us that he was creating 5,000 more air marshals. The small print revealed that he would train 5,000 officers from other departments so that they could be used on planes if necessary. However, there will be no more marshals on planes next week than there were a couple of weeks ago, before his announcements.

... ... ...

The government has therefore done very little to deal with the threat of international terrorism other than to insist on those metal doors on airplane cockpits. The rest has been spin. The country is not safer now than it was two years ago, despite all the money that has been spent. National security ought to be a major issue in the next election. The claim of the Bush administration that it has dealt effectively with the threat ought to be exposed to the full light of day, where the spin doctors can no longer hide the truth.

OrlandoSentinel.com Opinion O'Reilly and Franken deserve each other by Kathleen Parker Right wing view on Fox lawsuit

Thanks to Fox and O'Reilly, Franken's book, which zillions of Americans never would have noticed otherwise, rocketed to No. 1 on Amazon's best-seller list from 489. And Fox and O'Reilly look like thin-skinned terriers who can dish it out but run tail tucked between legs when others respond in kind.

... ... ...

The truth is, no one cares what Franken thinks about O'Reilly or what The O'Reilly Factor spins or unspins about world events.

If we watch television yak shows -- or read mean-spirited, close-to-the-bone books -- it's not for policy analysis. How much insight can one glean from 30 minutes or an hour of flush-faced confrontation among pundits mostly concerned with selling their books and increasing their speaking fees?

It's for flavah, honey. Infotainment. A break from commercials and a reaffirmation of the aphorism that familiarity breeds contempt.

None of which means that O'Reilly isn't a smart man with a considered point of view and a marketable, flamboyant style. It just means most viewers know what they're getting with the, ahem, "no-spin zone." It ain't fair and balanced, but we don't care. Most talk television is "slanted and shallow," and we like it that way. Apparently.

MediaLens.org - correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media - corporate media issues

The Disinformation Age:

How George W. Bush and Saint Colin of Powell are lying America into an
unnecessary war — and what honest journalists can do about it

By
Dennis Hans

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking January 19 on ABC’s Sunday morning political show “This Week,” offered the media splendid advice on how they should handle in their broadcasts and articles a leader who lies:

“Well, first, Saddam Hussein is a liar. He lies every single day. . . . He is still claiming that he won the war. His people are being told every day that they won. It was a great victory in 1991 when he was thrown out of Kuwait and chased back to Baghdad. Now, it seems to me that almost every time you quote something from him, you should preface it by saying ‘here’s a man who has lied all the time and consistently’” ( http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2003/t01192003_t19sdabc.html).

Actually, that’s no longer necessary with Saddam. Nothing he says has been taken at face value since the 1980s, that golden decade when he was committing his worst human rights abuses with the blessing and support of Saint Colin of Powell and presidents Reagan and Bush — not to mention Reagan’s special emissary to Baghdad, a chap named Donald Rumsfeld.

There is a lying leader, a bit closer to home, to whom our news media should apply Rummy’s good advice. Not only does the leader lie, but so too do his top aides. And the news media, with rare exceptions, routinely pass along their lies as fact. The result is that the people of America are out of touch with the people of the world. Thus we’re far more willing than any other populace to launch an unprovoked attack on Iraq. Whereas the German and French people — and the populations ruled by governments siding with Uncle Sam — are reasonably well-informed and overwhelmingly opposed, Americans are reasonably well-disinformed.

If Brokaw, Rather, Jennings and Lehrer have an ounce of integrity, they’ll apply Rummy’s remedy to the pronouncements on Iraq by George W. Bush and his top aides. I recommend this pre-interview and -soundbite preface:

“Here is a president [secretary of defense, secretary of state, national security adviser] who, when it comes to Iraq, repeatedly lies, exaggerates, misrepresents, deletes crucial context, or states actual facts in a manner cleverly designed to leave a false impression. Viewer beware.”

How The Media Enable And Enhance White House Deceit

For an administration headed by a purported plain-spoken straight shooter — a Texan who will look you in the eye and tell it like it is — it sure has mastered an awful lot of techniques of deceit.

The techniques of deceit I describe below are simple and transparent. It requires but half a brain and an ounce of courage to expose them. We should praise the too-few exposers and ridicule and badger the countless facilitators of flim-flam. We should single out the latter by name and demand they clean up their act or get out of the profession.

Not being privy to the brains of individual journalists, I can’t say why any particular one behaves as he or she does. Clearly, many factors, both institutional and personal, help to explain why Bob Woodward, Wolf Blitzer and John McWethy are war-team toadies while Dana Millbank and Glenn Kessler are solid reporters. I don’t know why columnists Nicholas Kristof and Richard Cohen continue to believe that Bush is an honest man, or why Paul Krugman has done more than all of the network and cable “news” operations combined to expose the president as a brazen serial liar. I do know, however, that the current ratio, which I estimate at 100 gullible Woodwards for every competent Krugman, is disastrous for democracy.

What I can explain are five media tendencies that “enable” administration lying and enhance its effectiveness:

• Bestowing unwarranted credibility. When you routinely present a liar as a truth-teller, you become that liar’s accomplice. Viewers — particularly those under the ridiculous impression that network anchors are feisty, fiercely independent and maybe even left-leaning — will place greater credence in an unchallenged lie than a challenged one.

• Demonstrating real or feigned gullibility. The first indicates journalistic incompetence, the second journalistic corruption. Either should be a firing offense, but in our twisted media world it’s a ticket to the top. Self-respecting “news” organizations don’t retain, let alone promote, people such as Bob Woodward and Ted Koppel, or any of the Rumsfeld groupies “covering” the Pentagon.

• Failure to keep a lying score. A number of administration lies have been exposed, though the exposure is brief and often comes weeks after the lie has racked up millions of “frequent liar miles.” A reputable editor, publisher, anchor or producer would be troubled by this and would rectify the situation by regularly publishing or airing a running tally of administration lies.

• Failure to impose a penalty for lying. Why does Bush systematically lie? Because the lies help him to win support for his policies — on economic and other issues as well as Iraq — and the media impose no penalties on those rare occasions they belatedly catch him. Imagine how much robbery we’d have if the only “penalty” for getting caught was a brief mention you were caught. Just as Bush can keep telling the lie, you get to keep the TV or SUV you stole. Not much of a “deterrent.”

• No institutional memory BY DESIGN. In a healthy media environment, experts on the patterns, techniques and history of foreign-policy disinformation campaigns would be valued assets. In our present media environment, such people are shunned and staffers are discouraged from developing their own expertise. TV can hire scores of generals to provide expert analysis, but they won’t hire experienced disinformation exposers Robert Parry, Peter Kornbluh, Norman Solomon, Edward Herman or Noam Chomsky.

The two-faced Washington Post

Bush is a con man who directs his cons at the very people most inclined to trust him: ordinary Americans who’ve been raised and taught by patriotic parents to put their faith and trust in the president of the United States. And here’s the ugliest secret of all: His most bullish media boosters know it!

I speak of the jingoistic, pro-war and exceedingly creepy editorial board of the Washington Post. Commenting on the “misleading” numbers Bush uses to sell to regular folk a tax-cut designed for the rich, the Post editorialized recently, “Mr. Bush must know how phony his ‘averages’ are. Any time a salesman has to resort to such deceptive tactics, the customer ought to be wary about what is being sold” ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A38110-2003Feb20?language=printer).

An unsigned editorial represents the collective wisdom of the men and women on the editorial board. It is not the view of a “rogue editorialist” shooting off his mouth. The Post’s editorial braintrust KNOWS that Bush is a grifter.

Non-booster Krugman of the New York Times goes the Post one better, telling Terri Gross, the host of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” that the Bush administration’s “level of irresponsibility and dishonesty is unprecedented” (WMNF-FM, Tampa, Feb. 26).

More and more Americans are beginning to see just how crooked our straight-shooting president is. To further this awareness, and to caution citizens inclined to follow him into war, I review below 23 “techniques of deceit” of Bush and his foreign-policy team. Some of these techniques I address at greater length in “Lying Us Into War” ( http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0302/S00061.htm).

I’ll start with Powell’s techniques before moving on to Bush.

Powell And Bush’s “Techniques Of Deceit”

1) Telling with a straight face the “Mother of All Lies,” so as to lend credence to a bunch of small ones:

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” That’s what Colin Powell told the U.N., in the course of his now-discredited presentation of bogus tales based on discredited defectors, tortured captives, photos and tape recordings that proved little or nothing, wild speculation, a “fine” British dossier built on plagiarized essays with 12-year-old “revelations,” and so on.

I’ll cite a few specifics below. Readers interested for a damning dissection of each of Powell’s 44 claims can read this analysis ( http://middleeastreference.org.uk/powell030205.html) by Dr. Glen Rangwala of Cambridge University, England’s leading expert on U.S. and U.K. claims about Iraq’s WMD programs.

2) Bait and switch:

As Rangwala noted in his initial analysis ( http://www.traprockpeace.org/firstresponse.html), posted the day after Powell spoke,

“[Powell] makes strong claims about Iraq's retention and development of non-conventional weapons, but the claims that he provides substantive evidence for are either tangential or the evidence is ambiguous. An example would be how Powell claimed: ‘We know that Saddam's son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam's numerous palace complexes ... We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. . . .’

“However, instead of providing proof of any of those claims, Powell instead produced photos of al-Taji ammunition storage facility that shows a small shed and a truck adjacent to the bunker. Powell claimed that these are ‘a signature item’ for chemical bunkers. This seems on the face of it to be a wholly implausible claim: a picture of a truck and a shed by themselves reveal nothing about the contents of the adjacent bunker.

“In summary, Powell didn't provide evidence for the stronger claims that he made, instead displaying a satellite photo that reveals very little. This would indicate that the evidence for the stronger claims is either non-existent or contentious.”

3) Putting incriminating words in Iraqi mouths that you — or at least your State Department — know to be false:

In “Powell's U.N. report apparently contains false information” in the Feb. 24 Sarasota Herald Tribune ( http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20030224&Category=COLUMNIST13&ArtNo=302240368&SectionCat=&Template=printart), Gilbert Cranberg, former editorial page editor of the Des Moines Register and George H. Gallup Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa, notes the following (I quote directly from the author):

He [Powell] also played the tapes, in Arabic, of two intercepted conversations, which the State Department translated. Powell referenced the conversations and commented on them. In the first cited conversation, between two Iraqi military officers discussing how to conceal from U.N. inspectors a certain "modified vehicle," Powell's account of the conversation squared with the State Department's translation. Powell's version of the second conversation, however, departed significantly from it.

This conversation, about possibly forbidden ammunition, was reported by Powell to be between Republican Guard headquarters and an officer in the field. When Powell referred to this conversation, he quoted one of the parties as ostensibly saying, "And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there."

The State Department's transcript of the actual conversation makes it evident that Powell had embellished the quote to make it appear much more incriminating. Instead of being a directive to "clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas and the abandoned areas," as Powell claimed, the transcript shows the message from headquarters was merely "to INSPECT [emphasis added by Cranberg] the scrap areas and the abandoned areas." The damaging admonition that Powell said he quoted, "Make sure there is nothing there" is not in the transcript and appears to be an invention.

Asked to explain the discrepancy, the State Department's press and public affairs offices said I should study Powell's presentation posted on the department's Web site. Instead of clarifying or explaining the discrepancy, the posted material simply confirmed the disparity.

Cranberg, after pointing out other problems with Powell’s so-called evidence, observed that “columnists at The New York Times and The Washington Post accepted everything Powell said without a smidgen of skepticism, calling it a ‘masterful indictment’ (James Hoagland) ‘that would convince any jury’ (William Safire).”

4) Exploiting an undeserved reputation for integrity to get unsuspecting people to accept flimsy evidence as fact — based on your say-so:

Despite Powell’s boast, most of his “evidence” was reed-thin. For viewers who noticed that, “trust” came into play in a big way. Listen to Richard Cohen, perhaps the most gullible of the Washington Post’s lame, tiny contingent of real and fake liberals:

“The clincher, as it had to be, was not a single satellite photo or the intercept of one Iraqi official talking to another. And it was not, as it never could be, the assertion that some spy or Iraqi deserter had made this or that charge — because, of course, who can prove any of that? It was the totality of the material and the fact that Powell himself had presented it. In this case, the messenger may have been more important than the message.” ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A32571-2003Feb5?language=printer )

A week later, as Powell’s “evidence” continued to unravel, the same gullible columnist acknowledged the unraveling but still couldn’t come to grips with the fundamental dishonesty of his hero and the president. Cohen addresses Powell directly:

“Sir, in his kiss-and-not-tell book, David Frum, the former White House speechwriter, tells us about George W. Bush’s insistence on honesty — on refraining from even politically acceptable exaggeration. I accept what he has to say. Yet it’s apparent that when it comes to making the case for war with Iraq, both Bush and his aides have tickled the facts so that everything proves their case. . . . I sleep better knowing that you are in this administration — making policy, I hope, and not propaganda.” ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A397-2003Feb12?language=printer) .

Bush’s “insistence on honesty”? Powell “making policy, . . . not propaganda”? Welcome to the fairy tale world of a respected Washington Post pundit.

5) Withholding the key fact that destroys the moral underpinning of an argument.

Powell condemned Saddam’s “use of mustard and nerve gas against the Kurds in 1988” that killed “Five thousand men, women and children.” True, but he did so with the blessing at the time of many Reaganites who now serve Bush — including Powell. In 1988, “Secretary of State Colin Powell was then the national security adviser who orchestrated Ronald Reagan’s decision to give Hussein a pass for gassing the Kurds,” says former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith in the Boston Globe ( http://www.boston.com/globe/magazine/2002/1215/coverstory_entire.htm).

6) Trumpeting the testimony of defectors who you know or highly suspect aren’t credible:

According to the recent Newsweek story “Spies, Lies & Iraq,” ( http://www.msnbc.com/news/867733.asp?0cv=CB20)

“Iraqi defectors who offer themselves to the CIA are put through strenuous interrogations and lie-detector tests. The credible ones are given new identities and homes in America or Germany. The rejects are cast loose to fend for themselves. Some of them are nonetheless embraced by the [Iraqi National Congress] — and, according to CIA officials, recycled to the more sympathetic (and more credulous) hawks in the Pentagon. Their stories are then worked over by Wolfowitz’s special intelligence unit—and passed on to the White House. The CIA, in turn, is asked then to rule on the credibility of information provided by defectors the agency has already deemed to be incredible. . . . Now, unsurprisingly, the CIA has little use for almost any intelligence emanating from the Kurds. The agency has acronyms for various types of intelligence, like HUMINT and ELINT (for electronic intelligence). At Langley, intelligence that is junk is jokingly called KURDINT.”

Powell cynically used KURDINT and other intelligence “junk” for his U.N. “facts” and “conclusions.”

7) Exploiting the fact that the U.N., unlike the U.S. military you served for most of your life, doesn’t have a Code forbidding lying:

Activist Jimmy Walter (walden3.org), who has taken out full-page “Powell Lied?” ads in the New York Times and other publications, reminds Powell what could have befallen him if he had been an active-duty general when he addressed the U.N. Walter cites Section 907, Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which addresses “False Statements”:

“Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent to deceive, signs any false record, return, regulation, order, or other official document, knowing it to be false, or makes any other false official statement knowing it to be false, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

It’s a good thing Powell is retired. But what about his boss, Commander-in-Chief Bush? Is the man who gives orders to the generals free to lie? Is he as immune from military justice as he appears to be from media justice? We now turn to Bush’s techniques, noting that Powell used some of these as well in his U.N. presentation.

8) Generalized “certitude”:

Bush confidentally asserts that the al Samoud2 missiles, recently ruled by Hans Blix to violate limitations on the distance that Iraqi missiles are allowed to fly, are merely the “tip of the iceberg” of Iraqi’s illegal arsenal. How does he KNOW this? The charitable answer is he doesn’t.

Even Hans Blix doesn’t “know” what, if anything, remains of Iraq’s WMD. As Fairness and Accuracy in Media ( http://www.fair.org/press-releases/iraq-weapons.html) reports, “while Blix said he could not certify [to the U.N.] that all of the proscribed materials Iraq once possessed had been destroyed, neither did he find evidence that any remain. In private, some inspectors do not rule out the possibility that Iraq truly is free of banned weapons [this was prior to Blix’s ruling on the al Samouds]: ‘We haven't found an iota of concealed material yet,’ one unnamed UNMOVIC official told Los Angeles Times Baghdad correspondent Sergei Loiko (12/31/02), who added: ‘The inspector said his colleagues think it possible that Iraq really has eliminated its banned materials.’”

FAIR also cites this analyis of Rolf Ekeus, who headed the UNSCOM inspections from 1992 to 1997: “I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities fundamentally,” he told a May 2000 Harvard seminar (AP, 8/16/00), adding that “there are some question marks left.”

Unless Bush is withholding evidence of Iraqi WMD — evidence that 1441 requires him to provide to inspectors — then he couldn’t know more than Blix. If Bush is in violation of 1441, what would be the appropriate “serious consequences”?

When Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei address the U.N., it’s clear from the tone and substance of their reports that they are honest experts who use words to inform, not to mislead. Being real experts, they’re not ashamed to acknowledge when they can’t make a definitive judgment about a particular matter. When Bush and Powell address the U.N. or the American people, they do so not as honest experts but as shady nonexperts. They pretend to know all, and they use words not to inform but to deceive.

Bush’s certitude is contagious and has infected much of the mass media. My local paper, the putrid St. Petersburg Times, editorialized Feb. 26 that “Bush is correct” in his “iceberg” declaration. Readers will have to trust me on this one, but I GUARANTEE that no one on the SPT editorial board, headed by the dimwitted, uncurious and contemptible Philip Gailey, has a clue as to what remains of Iraqi WMD capabilities.

9) Specific “certitude” — Stating as fact what are allegations, often dubious or subsequently disproved ones.

WMD labs in remote Kurdistan (disproven), mobile WMD labs (unproven, even though inspectors have been searching for years and some are skeptical of the practicality or existence of such labs) — these are just two of many dubious or false charges presented as fact by the Bush team. See Rangwala, my “Lying Us Into War,” and the analyses of the Institute for Public Accuracy at www.accuracy.org for dozens of examples; here I’ll address one.

Bush boldly declares that “From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.”

What we “know” is that defectors make this unproven claim. We don’t know if they were paid or coached to make the claim, or volunteered it on their own. Rangwala ( http://www.traprockpeace.org/firstresponse.html) notes that one defector made no mention of the labs in his first press conferences. It was several months later, after “debriefings” by the U.S. and the Iraqi National Congress, that he started talking about mobile labs. Hans Blix told the London Guardian ( http://truthout.org/docs_02/020603A.htm) he has seen no evidence that these mobile labs exist. Acting on tips from the U.S. about labs disguised as food-testing trucks, he investigated. “Two food-testing trucks have been inspected and nothing has been found,” he said. Those mobile labs, a propaganga theme pushed hard by the administration because it supports the theme that inspections can never work: A former senior UNSCOM inspector told the Los Angeles Times last September that his inspection teams searched for the labs from 1993 to 1998. “I launched raid after raid,” he said. “We intercepted their radio traffic. We ran roadblocks. We never found anything. It was just speculation.” ( http://www.fourthfreedom.org/php/print.php?hinc=dossier_report.hinc)

Blix, the cautious and honest expert, doesn’t rule out the possiblity that mobile labs exist. But it is absurd for Bush to assert this as an established fact — and the media to allow him to get away with it.

10) Delegated lying/Team lying.

Using disinformation “affiliates,” such as Richard Perle, Ken Adelman and former Clinton administration CIA director James Woolsey, to push damning, highly effective lies for which there is no credible evidence, such as the Saddam-9-11 connection ( http://slate.msn.com/id/2070410/). This way, when the story loses steam and credibility, the president and his top advisers don’t wind up with egg on their faces. The president will have gained considerable public support for an Iraq attack in the months the story percolates, and, quite perversely, his credibility will be enhanced in the “minds” of credulous commentators because he never PERSONALLY pushed this particular lie!

11) Passive lying (doing nothing to prevent what you know to be a vile slander from lodging in the brains of unsuspecting citizens as truth):

a) Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, made the following important point a few weeks back (click here for transcript: http://www.msnbc.com/news/859673.asp), addressing retired general William Perry Smith:

“According to the [January 2003] Knight Ridder poll . . ., the people that know the most about the situation in Iraq are least supportive of the war. The ones who are most ignorant, particularly those who believe that half the people who attacked us September 11 included Iraqi citizens, are for the war. So isn’t ‘more education’ something that stops support for the war, General? I mean, the president is not winning on the facts. He’s winning, according to the polls, on those who don’t know the facts…. Well, don’t you think the president ought to make the case, General, that the American people, tell the American people, ‘You’re wrong, half of you out there who think that there were Iraqis who attacked us September 11. They weren’t Iraqis. I’ve got some other reason why I want to attack Iraq.’ He’s never said that. Should he? Or should he allow himself to benefit from people’s ignorance?”

Straight-shooting Bush prefers to benefit from the people’s “ignorance,” though “ignorance” is not quite the correct word. People are misinformed because they’ve been deceived by the Prague Connection lie countenanced by Bush and spread by his henchmen.

b) Powell not saying squat about Bush’s repeated declarations that the only purpose for those aluminum tubes Iraq has been trying to buy is to build centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Powell knew there were plenty of doubters in the Energy Department and his own State Department, but the “reluctant warrior” never corrected the president. He allowed Bush to build public and congressional support for war with an outright lie. (If you know there is a valid non-nuclear explanation for a tube, and you tell Americans there is only a nuclear use, that is a lie. For details, see the tubes section in this article of mine: ( http://commondreams.org/views03/0128-08.htm.)

12) The pot calling the kettle black:

See the comment by Rumsfeld at the start of this essay and the steady stream of comments by Bush and others calling Saddam a liar and labeling the Iraqi strategy “cheat and retreat.” Every time Bush or one of his aides correctly calls Saddam a liar (which is not to suggest he tells nothing but lies), reporters should shout back at the speaker, “Takes one to know one!” If reporters shout it in unison, they’ll be less likely to suffer reprisals from the childish thugs who control access to administration officials.

13) The pot calling the WHITE kettle black (dishonest people stating or implying that honest people or an uncorrupted process can’t be trusted):

Administration officials have cast doubt on the integrity of the inspectors and/or the inspection process so as to justify NOT providing them with information with which the inspectors can prove or disprove administration allegations of proscribed weapons or WMD activity.

The Bushies know they can keep an allegation alive and productive so long as it has not been disproven. On several occasions in the recent past, the administration has provided inspectors with evidence of possible nuclear or other proscribed activity at a variety of sites. The inspectors have then visited the sites and found no evidence of such activity — and no evidence that such activity had taken place in any recent time. In most instances inspectors have the technical means to figure this out, so it’s not like Iraq can get wind of the inspection and quickly shut down the operation and remove all the equipment, as well as the evidential residue that would tip off the experts. So now the administration is taking a new tack, claiming that it is withholding evidence because the INSPECTORS can’t be trusted! U.S. officials say the Iraqis have infiltrated and thus corrupted the inspections process. Such charges accomplish two things: (1) They support the argument that inspections can never succeed (as does the probably-bogus claim of mobile weapons labs), which undermines any proposal that features inspections. (2) They undermine the credibility and value of the inspectors in the eyes of people who take administration pronouncements at face value — which encompasses virtually all of the U.S. news media and a large chunk of the citizenry.

14) “Intentional ignorance” as a tactic to sustain an accusation you know or highly suspect is false:

Bush and Powell have built the latest alleged Saddam-al Qaeda connection partly on the activities of an anti-Saddam Islamist group, Ansar-ul-Aslam, based in Kurdish Iraq, which is beyond the control of Saddam’s Baghdad-based government. Among the charges the U.S. has made is that Ansar was operating a chemical and biological weapons lab in its territory. U.S. senators repeatedly asked why the administration doesn’t simply bomb the cite and never got a satisfactory answer. Here’s the REAL answer: Despite what the administration said for public consumption, it was between 99.9 and 100 percent certain that there was no such weapons lab. If they bombed the town and drove the group out, then the media would come in and verify that there was never was any WMD lab. Not only would the allegation no longer be available in the propaganda campaign, but the administration would be proven to be wrong, dishonest or both. After Powell again made the charge at the U.N. on February 5, Ansar invited journalists to their rudimentary headquarters and demonstrated for all to see that there was no WMD lab or the high-tech infrastructure a WMD lab requires. The allegation has been put to rest, though not before it gave weeks of useful service.

15) Passive voice:

Matthew Rothschild, editor of the magazine The Progressive, noted that Bush, in his Feb. 26 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, “repeated his favorite passive phrase, ‘If war is forced upon us.’” As Rothschild aptly comments, “No one’s forcing you, George!” ( http://www.progressive.org/webex/wx0227b03.html)

16) Projecting sincerity that is fraudulent and espousing values you don’t cherish:

Bush excels at making eye contact with the camera or a human and projecting sincerity — whether he believes in what he’s saying or is knowingly selling snake oil. In his Feb. 26 American Enterprise Institute address, Bush spoke about his desire to bring democracy to the Middle East, starting with Iraq. But Bush didn’t take office Feb. 26; he’s been president for 25 months. His government has had substantial leverage over any number of allied regimes in the Middle East, leverage which he could have used to press for democratic reform. To date, he’s shown scant interest. So we’re supposed to believe he’s caught the democracy bug just in time to use it to sell an unpopular war? Last year he welcomed a coup that temporarily displaced the elected president of Venezuela and endorsed crooked elections in Pakistan. He has looked the other way or given the thumbs-up as countless allied governments have exploited 9-11 to crush dissent and tighten the squeeze on democratic foes. In Afghanistan, he promotes rule by warlords. Even before 9-11, Bush was running the U.S. as if it were his own corporation and he was its authoritarian, secretive, scheming and duplicitous CEO. Bush has strong anti-democratic tendencies, the worst of which is his continuous brazen lying. It would be foolish indeed to take at face value his latest sales pitch: war as a means to democratize the Middle East.

17) Talking out of both sides of your mouth:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), referring to Bush’s reported $26 billion inducement to the Turkish government to disregard the 95 percent of Turks opposed to war and allow Turkish territory to be used as a staging ground, said this: “In the very week that we negotiated with Turkey, the administration also told the governors there wasn’t any more money for education and health care.” http://nytimes.com/2003/03/02/opinion/02DOWD.html

18) Misrepresentation/Invention.

On Sept. 7, 2002, Bush claimed that the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report in 1998 that Saddam was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon. No 1998 IAEA report made any such claim. Then a presidential spokesperson said Bush had referred to a 1991 report. Wrong again. Here’s what the IAEA actually reported in 1998: “There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance” ( http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020927-500715.htm).

19) Withholding the key fact that would alert viewers that the purported grave threat is non-existent.

Bush said in his October speech that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could target the United States. The president neglected to tell Americans that Saddam would have to transport these limited-range UAVs — undetected — across the ocean all the way to our coast. The odds of that happening start at a billion to one.

20) Creating in the public mind an intense but unfounded fear:

“Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” (October speech) No nukes, no long-range missiles, no Saddam-delivered “mushroom cloud” over America.

21) Using mistranslation, misquotation and context-stripping to plant a frightening impression that is the exact opposite of what you know to be true:

“Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his ‘nuclear mujahedeen’ -- his nuclear holy warriors” (Bush’s October speech, repeated by Powell).

Here Bush exploits two fears of the public: of Islamist holy-warrior terrorists and nuclear weapons. In “Counter-Dossier II” ( http://traprockpeace.org/weapons.html), Dr. Glen Rangwala, a Cambridge University professor who is the world’s leading authority on U.S. and U.K. claims about the Iraqi regime, observes that the speech Bush is referring to was delivered by Saddam “on 10 September 2000 and was about, in part, nuclear energy. The transcription of the speech was made at the time by the BBC monitoring service. Saddam Hussein actually refers to ‘nuclear energy mujahidin,’ and doesn’t mention the development of weaponry. In addition, the term ‘mujahidin’ is often used in a non-combatant sense, to mean anyone who struggles for a cause. Saddam Hussein, for example, often refers to the mujahidin developing Iraq's medical facilities. There is nothing in the speech to indicate that Iraq is attempting to develop or threaten the use of nuclear weapons.”

22) Straw man:

“The risks of doing nothing, the risks of assuming the best from Saddam Hussein, it’s just not a risk worth taking.” Who advocates “doing nothing”? Not France, Russia and Germany. Not Jimmy Carter ( http://alternet.org/print.html?StoryID=15084). Who?

23) Mixing yourself up with the American people, thus pretending that you and we are one and the same.

“This nation,” says the president, “fights reluctantly, because we know the cost, and we dread the days of mourning that always come.” But Bush also says that because he’s the president, he gets to decide. By no stretch of the imagination is Bush a “reluctant warrior.”

George W. Bush and Colin Powell simply cannot be trusted. Rather than follow such men into an unnecessary and unprovoked war, we’d be better off thinking about just what we should do with this deceitful duo.

©2003 by Dennis Hans

Bio: Dennis Hans is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Post (Canada) and online at TomPaine.com, Slate and The Black World Today (tbwt.com), and his media critiques appear regularly at TakeBackTheMedia.com. He has taught courses in mass communications and American foreign policy at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, and can be reached at HANS_D@popmail.firn.edu

[Jan 30, 2004] Revisited - The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War in Iraq A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth, by William Clark, updated Jan 2004

Although apparently suppressed in the U.S. media, one of the answers to the Iraq enigma is simple yet shocking. The upcoming war in Iraq war is mostly about how the CIA, the Federal Reserve and the Bush/Cheney administration view hydrocarbons at the geo-strategic level, and the unspoken but overarching macroeconomic threats to the U.S. dollar from the euro. The Real Reasons for this upcoming war is this administration's goal of preventing further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an oil transaction currency standard, and to secure control of Iraq's oil before the onset of Peak Oil (predicted to occur around 2010). However, in order to pre-empt OPEC, they need to gain geo-strategic control of Iraq along with its 2nd largest proven oil reserves. This essay will discuss the macroeconomics of the `petrodollar' and the unpublicized but real threat to U.S. economic hegemony from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency. The following is how an individual very well versed in the nuances of macroeconomics alluded to the unspoken truth about this upcoming war with Iraq:

"The Federal Reserve's greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 82 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar's steady depreciation against the euro. (Note: the dollar declined 17% against the euro in 2002.)

"The real reason the Bush administration wants a puppet government in Iraq -- or more importantly, the reason why the corporate-military-industrial network conglomerate wants a puppet government in Iraq -- is so that it will revert back to a dollar standard and stay that way." (While also hoping to veto any wider OPEC momentum towards the euro, especially from Iran -- the 2nd largest OPEC producer who is actively discussing a switch to euros for its oil exports)."

Although a collective switch by OPEC would be extremely unlikely barring a major panic on the U.S. dollar, it would appear that a gradual transition is quite plausible. Furthermore, despite Saudi Arabia being our `client state,' the Saudi regime appears increasingly weak/threatened from massive civil unrest. Some analysts believe civil unrest might unfold in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Gulf states in the aftermath of an unpopular U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq [3]. Undoubtedly, the Bush administration is acutely aware of these risks. Hence, the neo-conservative framework entails a large and permanent military presence in the Persian Gulf region in a post-Saddam era, just in case we need to surround and control Saudi's large Ghawar oil fields in the event of a Saudi coup by an anti-western group. But first back to Iraq.

"Saddam sealed his fate when he decided to switch to the euro in late 2000 (and later converted his $10 billion reserve fund at the U.N. to euros) -- at that point, another manufactured Gulf War become inevitable under Bush II. Only the most extreme circumstances could possibly stop that now and I strongly doubt anything can -- short of Saddam getting replaced with a pliant regime.

"Big Picture Perspective: Everything else aside from the reserve currency and the Saudi/Iran oil issues (i.e. domestic political issues and international criticism) is peripheral and of marginal consequence to this administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that they will rather risk much of the economic backlash in the short-term to stave off the long-term dollar crash of an OPEC transaction standard change from dollars to euros. All of this fits into the broader Great Game that encompasses Russia, India, China."

This information about Iraq's oil currency is not discussed by the U.S. media or the Bush administration as the truth could potentially curtail both investor and consumer confidence, reduce consumer borrowing/spending, create political pressure to form a new energy policy that slowly weans us off Middle-Eastern oil, and of course stop our march towards a war with Iraq. This quasi `state secret' is addressed in a Radio Free Europe article that discussed Saddam's switch for his oil sales from dollars to the euros, to be effective November 6, 2000:

"Baghdad's switch from the dollar to the euro for oil trading is intended to rebuke Washington's hard-line on sanctions and encourage Europeans to challenge it. But the political message will cost Iraq millions in lost revenue. RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel looks at what Baghdad will gain and lose, and the impact of the decision to go with the European currency." [4]

At the time of the switch many analysts were surprised that Saddam was willing to give up approximately $270 million in oil revenue for what appeared to be a political statement. However, contrary to one of the main points of this November 2000 article, the steady depreciation of the dollar versus the euro since late 2001 means that Iraq has profited handsomely from the switch in their reserve and transaction currencies. Indeed, The Observer surprisingly divulged these facts in a recent article entitled: `Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,' (February 16, 2003).

"A bizarre political statement by Saddam Hussein has earned Iraq a windfall of hundreds of millions of euros. In October 2000 Iraq insisted upon dumping the US Dollar -- `the currency of the enemy' -- for the more multilateral euro." [5]

Although Iraq's oil currency switch appears to be completely censored by the U.S. media conglomerates, this UK article illustrates that the euro has gained almost 25% against the dollar since late 2001, which also applies to the $10 billion in Iraq's U.N. `oil for food' reserve fund that was previously held in dollars has also gained that same percent value since the switch. It was reported in 2003 that Iraq's UN reserve fund had swelled from $10 billion dollars to 26 billion euros. According to a former government analyst, the following scenario would occur if OPEC made an unlikely, but sudden (collective) switch to euros, as opposed to a gradual transition.

"Otherwise, the effect of an OPEC switch to the euro would be that oil-consuming nations would have to flush dollars out of their (central bank) reserve funds and replace these with euros. The dollar would crash anywhere from 20-40% in value and the consequences would be those one could expect from any currency collapse and massive inflation (think Argentina currency crisis, for example). You'd have foreign funds stream out of the U.S. stock markets and dollar denominated assets, there'd surely be a run on the banks much like the 1930s, the current account deficit would become unserviceable, the budget deficit would go into default, and so on. Your basic 3rd world economic crisis scenario.

"The United States economy is intimately tied to the dollar's role as reserve currency. This doesn't mean that the U.S. couldn't function otherwise, but that the transition would have to be gradual to avoid such dislocations (and the ultimate result of this would probably be the U.S. and the E.U. switching roles in the global economy)."

Although the above scenario is unlikely, and most assuredly undesirable, under certain economic conditions it is plausible. In fact, one of the conditions that could create such an environment is a near unilateral U.S. led war in the Middle East. For example, a large spike in oil prices could create huge problems for the imperiled Japanese banking system, the world's largest holder of U.S. dollar reserves. Unfortunately the current Bush administration has chosen a military option instead of a multilateral conference on monetary reform to resolve these issues. In the aftermath of toppling Saddam it is clear the U.S. will keep a large and permanent military force in the Persian Gulf. Indeed, there is no talk of an `exit strategy,' as the military will be needed to protect the newly installed regime, and to send a message to other OPEC producers that they too might receive `regime change' if they convert their oil payments to euros.

A poisonous geopolitical jungle By Henry C K Liu

Asia Times

Other articles in this series: 
Geopolitics in Iraq an old game
Geopolitical weeds in the cradle of civilization

While post-World War II Iraq remained safely under British imperialist control, in neighboring Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh's democratically-elected nationalist government enacted an oil nationalization bill in 1951. Responding to a British legal challenge in the World Court against Iran and taking it up in the United Nations Security Council, Mossadegh traveled to New York to defend Iran's sovereign right, gaining much support from the world's nations.

US becomes entangled

Then he went to the Netherlands to defend Iran successfully at The Hague, which voted in favor of Iran in its international legal dispute with Britain. On his way home, Mossadegh also paid a visit to Egypt, where he was enthusiastically received as an anti-imperialism hero. Not surprisingly, Mossadegh was toppled a year later by a military coup engineered by the Central Intelligence Agency. The event signaled the emergence of the US as the leading external actor in the Middle East on behalf of neo-imperialism, in effect replacing Britain's traditional imperialist role in the region. Furthermore, the Shah of Iran was now indebted to the US for his throne.

In its January 1952 issue, Time Magazine, hardly a liberal publication and a leader of the anti-communist press, nominated Mohammed Mossadegh as Man of the Year. The Time essay read in part:

"There were millions inside and outside of Iran whom Mossadegh symbolized and spoke for, and whose fanatical state of mind he had helped to create. They would rather see their own nations fall apart than continue their present relations with the West. Communism encouraged this state of mind, and stood to profit hugely from it. But communism did not create it. The split between the West and the non-communist East was a peril all its own to world order, quite apart from communism. Through 1951, the communist threat to the world continued; but nothing new was added - and little subtracted. The news of 1951 was this other danger in the Near and Middle East. In the center of that spreading web of news was Mohammed Mossadegh. The West's military strength to resist communism grew in 1951. But Mossadegh's challenge could not be met by force. For all its power, the West in 1951 failed to cope with a weeping, fainting leader of a helpless country; the West had not yet developed the moral muscle to define its own goals and responsibilities in the Middle East. Until the West did develop that moral muscle, it had no chance with the millions represented by Mossadegh. In Iran, in Egypt, in a dozen other countries, when people asked: 'Who are you? What are you doing here?' The East would be in turmoil until the West achieved enough moral clarity to construct a just and fruitful policy toward the East."

As Time saw it, communism was producing a dual effect. It fanned anti-imperialism in the colonies while it created pressure in the West to placate Third World nationalism to keep it from going communist. On March 8, 1951, the day after Ali Razmara, Iran's pro-Western premier, was assassinated, Mossadegh submitted to the Iranian majlis (parliament) his proposal to nationalize Iran's oil. Within weeks, a popular wave of anti-imperialist sentiment swept him into the premiership. The British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Co had been paying Iran much less than it did the British government. Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani, a leading Shi'ite fundamentalist cleric who had been fighting the infidel British in Iraq and Iran, played a key role in the nationalization of oil in Iran. His followers had assassinated Razmara.

The Iranian crisis inspired Egypt, which followed with an announcement that it was abrogating its 1936 unequal treaty with Britain. The Egyptian government demanded the withdrawal of British troops from Egyptian soil and an end to British occupation of the Suez Canal. When Britain refused, Egypt exploded with anti-British riots, hoping that the US, which had opposed British use of force in Iran, would take the same line in Egypt. The Times essay reported that "the US, however, backed the British, and the troops stayed. But now they could only stay in Egypt as an armed occupation of enemy territory. Throughout the East, that kind of occupation may soon cost more than it is worth."

The Time essay went on:

"The word 'American' no longer has a good sound in that part of the world. To catch the Jewish vote in the US, president Harry S Truman in 1946 demanded that the British admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine, in violation of British promises to the Arabs. Since then, the Arab nations surrounding Israel have regarded that state as a US creation, and the US, therefore, as an enemy. The Israeli-Arab war created nearly a million Arab refugees, who have been huddled for three years in wretched camps. These refugees, for whom neither the US nor Israel would assume the slightest responsibility, keep alive the hatred of US perfidy. No enmity for the Arabs, no selfish national design motivated the clumsy US support of Israel. The American crime was not to help the Jews, but to help them at the expense of the Arabs. Today, the Arab world fears and expects a further Israeli expansion. The Arabs are well aware that Alben Barkley, vice president of the US, tours his country making speeches for the half-billion-dollar Israeli bond issue, the largest ever offered to the US public. Nobody, they note bitterly, is raising that kind of money for them."

As the Time essay warned, winning the hearts and minds of the Arabs away from communism was made hopelessly difficult by US policy on Israel. As a pro-Republican publication, the position taken by Time was not exactly bipartisan, as the Jewish vote at the time was predominantly Democratic. Still, the warning was prescient. In pro-West Iraq, both Shi'ites and Kurds sought political influence through the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) as well as the Ba'ath Socialist Party in its early stage as a dissident organization after World War II. Between 1949 and 1955, Kurds and Shi'ites comprised 31.3% and 46.9%, respectively, of the central committee membership in the ICP. This explained partly why the US was less than sympathetic to Shi'ite and Kurdish separatist aspirations all through the Cold War. US hostility toward Iraqi Shi'ites would escalate after the Shi'ite Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Today, despite the claim of aiming to spread democracy in the Middle East, geopolitics will not permit US-occupied Iraq to accept the democratic principle of majority rule that will give political control to the Shi'ite majority.

By 1954, political instability continued in pro-West Iraq as the US tried to substitute fast-waning British dominance by creating the Baghdad Pact which was formed on February 4, 1955 as part of the US global collective security system to prevent Soviet expansion into the Middle East. Members of the pact included Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Shah-ruled Iran and Britain, with the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) participating. It was hoped that Syria and Jordan would also join to complete the anti-communist arc of pro-West countries in the region. A single voice of resistance came from Egypt. Rising Arab nationalism and popular opposition to imperialism in the entire region, ignited by regular passionate broadcasts of Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser, caused Syria to reject the Baghdad Pact. Even the young anglophile King Hussein of Jordan, who later would transform into a US puppet, had to bow to the will of his people when they took to the streets in large numbers to denounce the pact.

An anti-communist pact is born
The Baghdad Pact, known also as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) or the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), was one of the least effective Cold War security alliances created by the US. Modeled after NATO, CENTO aimed at containing Soviet expansion by creating a defensive line of anti-communist states along the southwestern frontier of the USSR. The Middle East and South and Southeast Asia were politically volatile regions during the 1960s with the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, the North-South Korea confrontation and the Indo-Pakistan wars. The US, with its main geopolitical aim of containing communist expansion, tried to befriend all warring parties in both regions to prevent any tilt toward the Soviet Union. Members of CENTO, an anti-communist treaty organization, saw no compelling purpose to get directly involved in either the Arab-Israel or the Indo-Pakistan dispute, where communist infiltration was not obvious. In 1965 and again in 1971, Pakistan tried unsuccessfully to get assistance through CENTO in its wars with India. The Baghdad Pact trapped the US into supporting corrupt, unpopular and undemocratic regimes in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. US support for Israel was an insurmountable obstacle to the development of improved relations between the US and Arab nations, including members of CENTO. More importantly, the alliance did little to prevent the expansion of Soviet influence in the area. Non-member states in the Middle East, feeling threatened by CENTO, turned to the Soviets, especially Egypt and Syria, even though they remained hostile to communism domestically. The pact lasted nominally until the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Egypt recognized the People's Republic of China in 1956, becoming the first Arab and African nation to establish official diplomatic relations with the communist country that the US had placed on the top of its forbidden list. Egypt's decision on China defied US policy of containment of new China through diplomatic isolation. As a penalty, the US withdrew on July 19, 1956, its loan offer to finance the Aswan High Dam, and Britain and the World Bank followed suit immediately. In response, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. The Soviet Union then offered an aid program to Egypt, including a loan to finance the Aswan High Dam.

Crisis over the Suez
Anthony Eden, then British prime minister, characterized the Egyptian nationalization of the canal as "theft", and US secretary of state John Forster Dulles declared that Nasser would have to be made to "disgorge" it. The French and British depended critically on the canal for transporting oil, and they felt that Nasser had become a symbol of nationalist threat to their remaining interests in the Middle East and Africa. Eden wanted to launch a military response immediately, but the British military was not ready. Both France and Britain froze Egyptian assets within their jurisdictions and prepared for war in earnest. Egypt promised to compensate the stockholders of the Suez Canal Company and to guarantee right of canal access to all ships, making it difficult for France and Britain to rally international support to regain the canal by force. The Soviet Union, the East European bloc and non-aligned Third World countries generally supported Egypt's struggle with imperialism. President Dwight D Eisenhower distanced the US from British positions and stated that while the US opposed the nationalization of the canal, it was against any use of force. Britain, France and Israel then united secretly in what was to become known as the tripartite collusion. Israel opted to participate in the Anglo-French plans against Egypt to impress the imperialist West that the Jewish state could play a useful geopolitical role against Arab nationalism.

Secret arrangements were made for Israel to make the initial invasion of Egypt and overtake one side of the Suez Canal. The British and French attempted to follow the Israeli invasion with high-pressure diplomacy, but being unsuccessful, sent troops to occupy the canal. However, the action on the part of the tripartite collusion was not viewed with favor by the US or the USSR since military intervention to enhance isolated national interests challenged a world order of superpower geopolitical predominance in the region. Regional conflicts must not be allowed to conflict with the geopolitical pattern of superpower competition for the hearts and minds of the unaligned.

Responding to superpower pressure, the tripartite troops were withdrawn from the Canal Zone in December under the direction of the United Nations. A United Nations Emergency Force was then stationed in the Gaza Strip and at Sharm el-Sheikh and on the Sinai border in December 1956 and stayed for more that a decade until the Six-Day War of 1967. Egypt kept the canal and reparations were paid by Egypt under the supervision of the World Bank. Overall, the actions of the tripartite collusion were not considered beneficial to the campaign to spread democracy in the Cold War context because they pushed Nasser and Egypt further towards the USSR. The war over the canal also laid the groundwork for the Six-Day War in 1967 due to a lack of a peace settlement following the 1956 war, in which Egypt suffered a military defeat but scored a political victory.

Britain's disastrous behavior in the Suez crisis of 1956 exposed its thinly-disguised, last-gasp imperialist fixation disguised as anti-communism. Israel, led by David Ben-Gurion's hawkish faction with a pro-West, militant confrontational policy, with Golda Meir replacing the moderate Moshe Sharett as foreign minister, invaded Egypt on October 29, 1956. Sharett's policies with regard to neighboring Arab states were characterized by vision and pragmatism, but this form of diplomacy was never given a chance by the hardliners, who were mostly fixated in the belief that "Arabs respect only the language of force", as Winston Churchill had said about the Russians. Sharett, albeit an ardent Zionist, attempted to develop policies based on constructive engagement, rather than belligerence and dehumanization, with neighboring Arab states. Sharett believed that Israel could have a special role to play in the developing nations of the world, including the Arab countries. Sharett was among the few in the Middle East who recognized that terror and counter-terror between Palestinians and Israelis would lead to an endless cycle of violence, which if not controlled by enlightened political leadership, would become a way of life that would eventually destroy both peoples. His political and diplomatic wisdom was always portrayed by the Israeli mainstream as "weak and cowardly".

By contrast, Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall" doctrine of Zionism that sought to expel the Arabs of Palestine by force has dominated the Israeli political scene to this day. Jabotinsky viewed Zionism as a colonial enterprise, in the same vein as British colonization of America or Australia, with Arabs as Native Americans or Australian Aborigines. Israel was to accomplish with militant Zionism what British imperialism, weakened by what Zionists viewed as the British disease of liberalism, failed to accomplish in the Middle East, which is to totally and permanently emasculate a once-proud Arab nation.

While the US opposed Anglo-French military intervention to undo Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal, US military strategy in the region was made explicit on January 5, 1957 by a presidential message to Congress known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, to provide military assistance to countries in the region, include the employment of US armed forces, to oppose international communism. Israel saw anti-communism in the Middle East as God's gift to the new Jewish nation on Arab land and became a fervent supporter of the Eisenhower Doctrine, with wholesale marginalization of the Israeli left and moderates in Israeli politics. Instead of moving in the direction of the Switzerland model, as a neutral oasis in a sea of rising Arabic nationalism against "divide and rule" imperialism, contributing to the development of the region for the benefit of all, Israel presented itself as an outpost of European imperialism and US neo-imperialism, setting itself up as a hostile garrison state in a region where Jews are outnumbered by 50 to one.

Unless Israeli policy changes with a new self image and political destiny, its continued existence as a hostile nation among Arabs is not sustainable any more than neo-imperialism is sustainable in the Third World. Throughout history, the Jews have contributed greatly to the prosperity of their various adopted countries. There is no reason why they cannot do so in the Middle East, their ancestral home, except for a short-sighted, more-than-clever-by-half posture of catering to Western imperialism by claiming to be the sole European democracy in the Middle East that deserves US support. If Israel wants to stay in the Middle East, there is no escaping the need to be a genuine Middle East nation, throwing its lot in with those of other Middle East nations, rather than setting itself apart as a European transplant.

King al-Shareif al-Hussein of Saudi Arabia lived for a tribal dream of ruling Syria. According to some historians, such as Avi Shlaim and Simha Falpan, the dream for a Hashmite-controlled Great Syria was an obsession for both father and son. When this dream proved elusive, his son, King Abdullah, sought alliance with the Zionist movement to achieve his father's dream. This tribal dream was exploited by the Zionist leadership to drive a wedge between the neighboring Arab states. Ironically, the Arab countries whose armies entered Palestine on May 15, 1948 did so partly to keep King Abdullah from gaining control of the Palestinian portion of Palestine, which had been allotted to Palestinian Arabs by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. According to historian Falpan, during a meeting with King Abdullah at Shunah, Jordan, which took place soon after Husni al-Zaim's coup in Syria, Moshe Sharett wrote in the spring of 1949 that the king told him that "the idea of Great Syria ... [is] one of the principles of the Arab revolt that I have been serving all my life."

Falpan also wrote that the tactic of misleading Abdullah with Syria was strongly endorsed by Yigal Yadin, the Israeli chief of staff. In a consultation between the Israeli Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defense on April 12, 1949, Yidin reported: "Abdullah is more interested in Great Syria than in Palestine. This is in his blood, this is his political and military outlook and he is ready to sell out all the Palestinians in this aim. We have to know how to play this card to achieve our aim ... We should not support the plan of Great Syria but we should divert Abdullah toward this plan." This kind of tactical geopolitical scheming cannot overcome the strategic geopolitical blunder of an Israel denying the need to come to terms with the realization that for Israel to survive, it needs to accept the reality that it must become a bona fide Middle East nation, not an extension of New York, and that its acceptance by Arabs rests on its developing a genuine posture of fraternal friendship, not hostile opportunistic geopolitical calculations.

Israel's independence
On May 15, 1948, the Israel war of independence officially began with the declaration of Israel as a Jewish state simultaneously with British withdrawal from Palestine. But Israeli military action started a month earlier. As the British prepared to evacuate, the Israelis invaded and occupied most of the Arab cities in Palestine in the spring of 1948 to fill a military vacuum. Tiberias was occupied on April 19, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14. Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, admitted that every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs, a deliberate policy to induce Arabs to flee Palestine en mass. The massacre at Deir Yassin on April 9, committed by commandos of the Irgun headed by Menachem Begin, was part of that policy. Begin wrote: "Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of 'Irgun butchery', were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated." The propaganda campaign of Deir Yassin to induce panic on Arabs was so effective that the incident became embarrassingly detrimental to Israel's international image; so much so that Israeli historians have since felt compelled to deny if not the facts, at least the policy intent, blaming the massacre on the nature of war.

Egypt, Syria and Jordan, newly independent and still weak from century-long colonial oppression, formed an ill-equipped, ill-trained and ill-led coalition army of 20,000 to move into Palestine on the side of the Palestinians against Israel's 60,000 well-equipped, seasoned and well-led troops fresh from fighting under British command in World War II. The bloody war lasted a year until April 3, 1949 when Israel and the Arab states agreed to an armistice. Israel gained about 50% more territory than was originally allotted to it by the UN partition plan. The war created over 780,000 Palestinian refugees who were forcefully evicted from Jewish-held areas. Gaza fell under the jurisdiction of Egypt. The West Bank of Jordan was occupied by Jordan and later annexed, consistent with secret agreements made with the Zionist leadership prior to the initiation of hostilities.

Bloody end to monarchy in Iraq
In post-World War II Iraq, Nuri Said, 14 times prime minister who always took orders dutifully from his masters in London, having come down hard on Iraqi nationalists, kept Iraq from active opposition to the creation of Israel and hitched Iraq to the 1955 Baghdad Pact, a US instigated anti-communist security agreement binding Iraq to Britain, Turkey, Shah-ruled Iran and Pakistan, finally signed his own political death warrant and that of the puppet monarchy he served by supporting the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt. Reactionary pan-Arabism took a step forward under British guidance in 1958 when on February 12, a pro-West federation between Jordan and Iraq, called the Arab Union of Jordan and Iraq, was formed with a common premier. Within five months, on July 14, 1958, a successful military coup by the Free Officers led by General Abd al-Karim Qasim overthrew the Said government. The three main components in the Iraqi army, Nasirrites, communists and Ba'athists, united and dethroned the puppet king, executed all members of the royal family for treason and even denied them of Islamic burial rites for sins against the holy. Nuri Said himself was caught two days later, trying to escape from Baghdad dressed as a woman, by a mob which tore him apart with their bare hands and left his mutilated body to be flattened by passing vehicular traffic. Collaborators with the West were cut into pieces and "burnt like lambs". Public statues of the treasonous monarch were torn down in street demonstrations so large in numbers and so euphoric in passion that the new Revolutionary Council had to proclaim a curfew to keep order. Based on that history, neither the current US-installed President Ghazi al-Yawir, a Sunni Muslim tribal chief, nor his US-appointed prime minister, Iyad Allawi, a long-time US operative, nor other members of the US-appointed interim Iraqi government, has any reason to sleep well. Already, several ministers of the Allawi cabinet have failed to physically survive their interim political appointments.

The Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party of Iraq and the Communist Party of Iraq (CPI) were the two major political parties in post-World War II Iraq. The two parties initially shared some characteristics, but irreconcilable ideological rivalry soon developed due to contradiction between egalitarian communism and hierarchical tribal culture and the internationalist support to the CPI provided by a non-Arab foreign power in the form of the Soviet Union, within the context of USSR state interests. The state-to-state relationship between Ba'athist Iraq and the USSR based on geopolitics affected the domestic strategy of the CPI and vice versa. The growing ranks of the Ba'athists were upset by communist internationalist criticism of Arab nationalism, which prioritizes Arab unity and the power politics aspirations of the Arab nation over universal social justice.

A new government of Iraq was proclaimed by General Abd-al-Karim Qasim on July 15, 1958 and the pro-West Arab Union with Jordan was immediately declared dissolved. Iraq then worked for close relations with the United Arab Republic, which had been established by a union of Egypt and Syria earlier that year. As events developed, the Ba'ath Party in Syria was forced to dissolve in 1958. In 1959, Iraq formally withdrew from the Baghdad Pact. A year later, Iraq again made claims on Kuwait as an integral part of its Basra province, while Kuwait formally received its independence as a separate nation from Britain. On June 25, 1961, Qasim officially called for "the return of Kuwait to the Iraqi homeland". In September, Qasim rejected efforts to establish political autonomy for Kurds in northern Iraq and launched a major military campaign against Kurdish separatists. These issues of Kuwait recovery and Kurdish separatism predated the Saddam Hussein government by three decades, hardly credible pretexts for Bush's war for regime change in Iraq.

In time, a power struggle ensued between Iraqi communists and the US-backed Ba'athist faction under Qasim, who had bought Western support for his government by not interfering with the Western control of Iraq's oil production. Qasim had tolerated Iraqi communists as a force against the Ba'athists in his government. Soon, the Ba'athists began to receive backing from US anti-communist policy. To retain US support, Qasim turned on the Iraqi communists. During the turmoil, communist casualties suffered from the US-trained Iraqi government internal security forces numbered over 5,000. An attempted anti-communist coup against Qasim was nevertheless launched on March 8, 1959 by Ba'athist Colonel Abd al-Wahhab al-Shawwaf. Backed by conservative units of the army, Shawwaf alleged that the Qasim government was dominated by communists. The coup failed. In October 1959, the Ba'athists led by al-Shawwaf made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Qasim. Saddam Hussein, who would become president in 1979, was a member of the assassination squad. After having been shot in the unsuccessful coup attempt, Saddam fled to Syria, then to Egypt, where he studied law at Cairo University. The Iraqi Ba'athists and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) shared a common interest in getting rid of the Soviet-tilting Qasim.

On February 8, 1963, the Qasim government was overthrown, with the help of the CIA, by a group of young officers who were sympathizers though not members of the Ba'ath Party. Qasim himself was executed by firing squad the following day. Two days later, on February 11, the US recognized the new Ba'athist government on the basis of its anti-communism.

Author Said K Aburish (Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge) who worked with Saddam in the 1970s, claimed that the CIA's role in the coup against Qasim was "substantial". CIA agents were in touch with army officers who helped in the coup, operated an electronic command center in Kuwait to guide the anti-Qasim forces, and supplied the conspirators with lists of people to be killed to paralyze the government. The coup plotters repaid the CIA with access to Soviet-made jets and tanks the US military was keen on acquiring.

The Ba'athists, never having ruled any country, lacked experience in 1963 in managing the government apparatus left by British colonial rule. They focused their energy instead on eliminating communists in public office. Since many professionals and public administrators were leftists, the anti-communist campaign rendered the government inoperative. The Ba'athist government fell in November 1963 after only nine months in office, having been unable to end violent political feuding that spilled over onto the streets that in no small way was stirred up by CIA covert action, but not before another 3,000 leftists were killed, as reported in John K Cooley's The Shifting Sands of Arab Communism. Not a single word from Western human-rights groups about these mass killings, let alone the US State Department or the White House, which four decades later listed the Iraqi gas attack on Kurdish villagers among its list of pretexts to invade Iraq. The double standard was based entirely on geopolitics. The collapsed Ba'athist government was succeeded by a pro-West government of right-wing technocrats, with CIA help.

Abd al-Salam Arif, a colonel at the time of the 1958 coup, and a rival of Qasim, became the new president, and he took steps to exclude Ba'athists from his government and brought in Nasirrite nationalists, which immediately put him on the wrong side of the US. On April 13, 1966, Arif was killed in a helicopter crash of unknown causes, and was replaced by his brother, Abd al-Rahman Arif. Iraqi relations with Western powers worsened following the Six Day War which began on June 5, 1967. Iraq gave token assistance to the frontline Arab states in the Six-Day War with Israel. Believing as most in the Arab world did that the US provided direct military support to Israel during the Six-Day War, Iraq broke diplomatic relations with Washington in protest.

On July 17, 1968, a Ba'athist coup ousted Abd al-Rahman Arif. General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr became president and Saddam Hussein was named vice president. By 1968, Saddam had moved up the Ba'ath Party ranks and wiped out the last pockets of communist resistance in the south and north. With the domestic threat from communists under control, Iraq improved relations with the Soviet Union as geopolitical leverage against the West. As a matter of policy throughout its history, the Communist Party of the USSR repeatedly sacrificed its sister parties in other countries to enhance the geopolitical interests of the USSR as a state, consistent with Josef Stalin's policy of socialism in one country. Global communism as an extremist movement directed from Moscow was mostly a figment of US paranoid imagination.

Ba'athist ideology takes root
Since 1968, Iraqi politics has been a one-party system dominated by the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party of Iraq. Ba'athist ideology combines elements of Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism and tribal socialism. Its slogan is "Unity, Freedom, Socialism" - unity among Arabs, freedom from Western imperialism and socialism with Arabic characteristics. Prior to 1958, Ba'athist parties in many Arab countries were dissident political organizations struggling for recognition and popular support. Members were imprisoned by many host governments and party organs were driven underground. The Iraqi Ba'ath Party operated clandestinely against the pro-West Iraqi government while it competed for followers with the Iraqi Communist Party. This background shaped the characteristic and culture of the party. Tariq Aziz, top ranking Ba'athist and vice president of Iraq in charge of foreign relations, wrote in 1980 on the party's clandestine revolutionary heritage: "The Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party is not a conventional political organization, but is composed of cells of valiant revolutionaries ... They are experts in secret organization. They are organizers of demonstrations, strikes and armed revolutions."

The decision by the US occupation authorities to marginalize the Ba'ath Party from Iraqi politics after the last year's invasion was a strategic as well as a tactical error, for not only was it strategically counterproductive to destroy the only secular political organization against Islamic fundamental extremism, it was also tactically foolish because the Ba'athist cells have been trained to go underground to easily survive official persecution to create insurmountable problems for the US-imposed governing authority.

The record of governance of the Iraqi Ba'ath government had been undeniably impressive. The secularization policies gave rise to an intellectual elite, including many female professionals in all fields. "Teaching the woman means teaching the family," was a battle cry. Literacy was increased dramatically with free universal education. Party slogans such as "Knowledge is light, ignorance darkness", and "The campaign for literary is a holy jihad", were promoted. The Iraqi Ba'ath Party was a political organization of clandestinity and ubiquity. Iraqi Ba'athists throughout its history might deviate from strict interpretation of Ba'athist ideology of Arab unity, freedom from foreign domination and tribal socialism, yet Ba'athist doctrine generally set guidelines for Iraqi policy formulation, such as geopolitical non-alignment, pan-Arabism and domestic accommodation with diverse religious and ethnic groups. Iraqi Ba'athist policies, as distinct from Ba'athism in the Arab world in general, were directed toward specific Iraqi needs and problems, keeping Iraq from extreme pan-Arabism.

In 1970, after decades of unrest, the Iraqi government, barely two years under Ba'ath leadership, agreed to form an autonomous Kurdish region, letting Kurds into the cabinet. In 1971, borders with Jordan were closed as a protest to Jordan's attempt to curb the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In 1972, Bakr nationalized Iraq's oil industry. US, British and Dutch oil corporations lost their holdings, including the 25% share of the Iraq Petroleum Company that had been owned by US-based Exxon and Mobil. The Soviet Union, and later France, provided technical aid and capital to Iraq's oil industry. In April 1972, in response to rising US hostility, Iraq signed a 15-year friendship pact with the Soviet Union and agreed to cooperate in political, economic and military affairs. The Soviets supplied Iraq with arms.

During the late 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, a rapprochement between the Iraqi communists and the Ba'athists came about from the Iraqi government's increasing reliance on the USSR in the face of domestic and foreign pressures. With US urging, the Shah of Iran claimed the Shatt al-Arab waterway in 1969 and seized three strategic islands in the Arabian Gulf in 1971, reducing Iraq to a landlocked position. Kurdish guerrilla and terrorist activities in northern Iraq were sponsored by Iran and the US. British/US hostility over Iraqi nationalization of the Iraqi Petroleum Company in 1972 and to Iraq's role in the 1973 Arab War with Israel forced Iraq to tilt further towards the USSR. Clashes between government forces and Kurdish separatist groups began in March 1974 only after the Kurds received military aid from the US through Shah-ruled Iran. In 1975, a settlement of border disputes was reached with Iran to stop inciting and aiding Kurdish separatists.

Central to Saddam's vision had always been to unite the Arab world. When Egyptian president Anwar Sadat broke ranks with Arab solidarity by signing the 1978 treaty with Israel, Saddam saw it as an opportunity for Iraq to play a leading role in pan-Arab affairs. He was instrumental in convening an Arab summit in Baghdad that denounced Sadat's betrayal of Arab solidarity through a separate political reconciliation with Israel. The summit imposed economic sanctions on Egypt that lacked effectiveness due to Arab disunity. On June 16, 1979, Bakr was stripped of all positions and put under house arrest. Saddam became the new president, followed by a massive purge within the Ba'ath Party.

While outsiders were not privy to the real causes of Iraqi political developments, one factor was a split over a proposed union with Syria, where Regional Ba'athists predominated. Saddam gained control of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party with an adherence to pan-Arabism. National elections were held on June 20, 1980. An analysis by Amazia Baram, "The June 1980 Elections to the National Assembly in Iraq: An Experiment in Controlled Democracy", in Orient (September 1981) shows that 75% of those elected were Ba'athists, 7% women, over 50% with higher education, 40% Shi'ites and 12% Kurds. Democracy had come to Iraq two decades before the 2002 Iraqi War to spread democracy in the Middle East.

Revolution in Iran, a hostage crisis and a war
Early in 1979, the Islamic revolution in Iran took place that was to have serious geopolitical consequences for Iraq. Strong Shi'ite fundamentalist opposition against the Shah in Iran accelerated in the late 1970s as the country came close to civil war. The opposition was lead by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who lived in exile in Iraq and later in France. On January 16, 1979, the unpopular Shah was forced to flee Iran. Shapour Bakhtiar, a liberal, as new prime minister with the help of the Supreme Army Council, could not control the agitated country overflowing with theocratic activism. Khomeini returned to an Iran engulfed with religious passion on the first day of February in 1979. Ten days later, Bakhtiar went into hiding, eventually to find exile in Paris. On April 1, after a landslide victory in a national referendum on an Islamic Republic for Iran, Khomeini declared an Islamic republic with a new constitution reflecting the ideals of Islamic government. To the chagrin of US propagandists, democracy reflective of the will of the people again turned anti-US. Khomeini became supreme spiritual leader (valy-e-faqih) of Iran.

On November 4, 1979, Islamic students stormed the US Embassy, taking 66 people, the majority US citizens, as hostages. It was an event that dealt a fatal blow to the re-election efforts of president Jimmy Carter and contributed to the election of Ronald Reagan, with historic consequences to US domestic politics and foreign policy, turning the US decidedly to the extreme right. For Saddam, the Iranian revolution made him an instant darling of Washington.

Unrest among Kurds in northern Iraq intensified, inspired by unrest following the events in Iran, taking advantage of the Iraqi government's preoccupation with renewed religious animosities between Shi'ites and Sunnis in southern Iraq linked to the rise of Shi'ite fundamentalism in Iran. Relations between the two neighboring countries, never good, deteriorated rapidly. On September 17, 1980, the agreement on Iraqi/Iranian borders from 1975 was declared null and void by Iraq, which claimed the whole Shatt el-Arab, a small, but important and rich area. Iraq claimed territories inhabited by Arabs (the southwestern oil-producing province of Iran called Khouzestan), as well as Iraq's right over Shatt el-Arab, which the Iranians call Arvandroud.

When Iranian students took the hostages at the US Embassy, it was at first not at all clear whom they represented or what they hoped to achieve. In fact, a similar mob had briefly done the same thing nine months earlier, holding the US ambassador hostage for a few hours before Khomeini ordered him released. But this time Khomeini, in response to persistent US hostility, saw political utility in this potent symbol, and issued a statement in support of the action against the US "den of spies". The students vowed not to release the hostages until the US returned the Shah to Iran for trial, along with the billions he had stolen from the Iranian people and kept in overseas banks.

Taking on the safe return of the hostages as his personal responsibility, Carter, a committed born-again Christian, tried to pursue a peaceful resolution by gradually building pressure on Iran through economic sanctions. He ordered an embargo on Iranian oil export on November 11. Rejecting the option of immediate military action recommended by his hawkish national security advisor Zbigniew Brezezinski, as too risky to the lives of the hostages, Carter escalated tensions by freezing Iranian assets in the US. While secretary of state Cyrus Vance led official diplomatic efforts, Hamilton Jordan, Carter's chief of staff, spent thousands of hours working secret channels at the disposal of the office of the president to end the crisis. For the first few months, the US public rallied around Carter, who had clearly made freeing the hostages his top priority. As fall turned into winter and then spring, and negotiations failed to produce a deal or even any visible signs of resolution, frustrated US public opinion demanded stronger action. Time was turning against Carter's non-military approach.

Finally, with the Iranians showing no signs of ever releasing all the hostages, Carter, desperate, approved a high-risk rescue operation on April 11, 1980 designated as "Desert One" that had been under contingency planning for months. Despite the fact that the odds against its success were forbiddingly high, Carter ordered the mission and was disappointed when he received reports that the rescue mission by Delta Force, code named Eagle Claw, had had to be aborted in midstream due to three of the six deployed helicopters malfunctioning under desert conditions. During the withdrawal, another helicopter crashed into a C-130 transport plane while taking off, killing eight elite commando servicemen and wounding three more, without ever engaging Iranian opposition fire.

The next morning, gleeful Iranians broadcast to the whole world live footages of the smoking remains of the failed US rescue mission on Iraqi soil, a stark symbol of superpower impotence, if not incompetence. Having opposed Desert One from the start, Vance, who had been kept out of the rescue loop, resigned in protest out of principle.

Finally, in September, with the Iran-Iraq war in full steam in favor of Iraq, Khomeini's government decided it was time to end the hostage matter. Despite rumors that Carter might pull an "October Surprise", a term coined by Republican vice presidential candidate George H W Bush, to get the hostages home before election day, negotiations dragged on for months, even after Reagan's landslide victory on the first Tuesday of November.

The rumored "October Surprise" might have been the US hope that Saddam would act as a US proxy to punish Iran and topple Khomeini with a quick victory before the US election. Believing Iran to be too weak both politically and militarily to resist, and emboldened by the certainty that US weapon systems afforded to the Shah of Iran had been drastically degraded under Khomeini, Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran on September 22, 1980 with quiet encouragement from the US less than two month before the US presidential election, in which Carter's failure to bring the crisis of US hostages held by Iran to a satisfactory close had become a key election issue. Iraq won some initial battles, but a supposedly weak Iranian military managed to achieve surprising defensive successes and halted Iraqi advance by October, despite US help to Iraq in providing classified information on US weapon systems delivered to Iran during the Shah era. While the start of the Iran-Iraq War did not rescue Carter from election defeat, it did force Iran to start negotiating to end the hostage crisis.

An extraordinary story was filed a decade later in the April 15, 1991 New York Times by Gary Sick, Carter's national security council staff responsible for Iran, detailing a three-way bidding contest for the release of the hostages between Iran and a clueless Carter administration, and the Reagan campaign headed by William Casey (who was to become Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director later under Reagan) through arms dealer/CIA operative Jamshid Hashemi, who had close contacts in Iranian revolutionary circles. The Reagan campaign was dealing with Iranian operatives to ensure that no deal would be reached before the US election, lest Carter should gain political advantage from a pre-election hostage release. The Reagan people were topping escalating offers made to Iran by the Carter people to induce the Iranians to hold off any deal with Carter. After long negotiations in which Reagan forces agreed to unfreeze Iranian assets, transfer money, as well as military equipment to Iran for the release of US hostages, should their man win the election, the hostages in the US Embassy were released on the inauguration of a victorious Reagan on January 20, 1981. The Reagan victory was partly paid for by the US hostages having their freedom delayed for months. The principle of "the foreign enemy of my domestic opponent is my ally" entered US politics.

The Iran-Iraq War would go on for most of the decade for its own geopolitical reasons, with the US tilting quietly towards Iraq. Still, the Reagan administration secretly sold arms to a hostile Iran all through its bloody war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, and diverted the proceeds to the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the democratically-elected leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The arms sales had a dual goal: appeasing a hostile Iran, which had influence with militant groups that were holding several US hostages in Lebanon, and funding an anti-communist guerrilla war in democratic Nicaragua. Both actions were in direct violation of specific acts of Congress which prohibited the sale of weapons to Iran, as well as in violation of United Nations sanctions against Iran. The rule of law and the spread of democracy fell victim to US geopolitical exceptionalism.

Israel's preemptive strike in Iraq
On June 7, 1981, during a period in which US-Iraq relations was at an all-time high, and US and European companies were carrying on highly lucrative trade deals with an Iraq flushed with Saudi money to finance the drawn-out Iraq-Iran war, Israeli F-15 bombers and F-16 fighters bombed and destroyed the French-built Osirak reactor 18 miles south of Baghdad, on orders from Menachem Begin, who said he believed the reactor was designed to make nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. It was the world's first air strike against a nuclear plant. The billion-dollar 70-megawatt uranium-powered reactor, paid for with Saudi funds, was near completion, but had not been stocked with nuclear fuel so there was no danger of radiation leak, according to the French contractor which sold the reaction to Iraq under an international non-proliferation regime. The French also maintained that the Osirak reactor was not capable of producing plutonium for bombs. IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards promised independent regular inspections and French technicians were required to be present for five to 10 years following initial operation. It would not have been possible for Iraq to make an undetected fuel conversion or to misuse the fuel supplied. General Yehoshua Saguy, head of the intelligence division of the Israel Defense Force prior to the air strike, argued for continuing to try to find a non-military solution to the threat within the five to 10 years he felt Israel still had before Iraq would have its first nuclear weapons. (Ilan Peleg, Begin's Foreign Policy, 1977-1983, Israel's Move To The Right - New York: Greenwood Press, 1987. p 187.) Begin ordered the Osirak reactor bombed because he feared that his party would lose the next election, and he did not believe the opposition party would have the toughness to preempt production of the first Iraqi nuclear bomb. Begin told a close political advisor, "I know there is an election coming. If they [Labor] win, I will lose my chance to save the Jewish people." (p 365.) The Israeli fear of nuclear attack from neighboring Arab countries is strategically unjustified. A nuclear attack on Israel would also kill Arabs on a massive scale in the area. Five decades of Cold War superpower nuclear deterrence has established firmly the effectiveness of the principle of mutual massive destruction (MAD). The best insurance against an Arab nuclear attack on Israel is to stop the forced evacuation of Palestinian Arabs from Israel. The Arabs want the land occupied by Israel back to enjoy, not destroy it with radiation.

Harvard nuclear physics professor Richard Wilson, who visited the reactor after the attack, argued that preemption is a dangerous game. The world faces unprecedented threats from terrorism. If they involve weapons of mass destruction, many people argue that we cannot wait until there is a specific threat, but must consider preemptive strikes. But we must be careful. Non-technical commentators often start with technically incorrect premises, and build up a case for preemptive strikes that is as dangerous as it is incorrect. Wilson visited the nuclear research reactor in Iraq on December 29, 1982 and visually inspected the reactor (which had been only partially damaged) and its surrounding equipment. To collect enough plutonium using Osirak would have taken decades, not years. French nuclear reactor engineer Yves Girard was aware of the carelessness of the Canadians in supplying a heavy water reactor to India, and the French in selling the Dimona reactor to Israel without insisting on any international safeguards to prevent military application. In 1975, Girard refused to help to supply a heavy water moderated reactor to Iraq. Instead, the Osirak reactor was moderated by light water, and therefore deliberately unsuited to making plutonium for bombs. The day after the bombing, Begin incorrectly described Osirak with misleading specifications of the Israeli Dimona reactor.

The chairman of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Bertrand Goldschmidt, was reportedly livid about the Israeli bombing, as were many other experts. While as a French Jew who had worked on the Manhattan project, he had especial sympathy for Israel, he was concerned that Israel had damaged attempts by the international community, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to control the nuclear genie which had been let out of the bottle in 1945 by the US.

The Israeli bombing of the Osirak reactor infuriated the Iraqis. They had followed international rules openly and accepted international inspections, and yet were bombed by a country which allowed no inspections of its own nuclear plants. Wilson reported that Iraqi fast-track for bomb development began in July 1981, after the Israeli bombing. The preemptive strike seemed to have had the opposite effect to that intended. Worse still, Israeli and US intelligence deluded themselves into thinking that once bombed, the threat of Iraqi bomb-making was over. The Iraqi bomb program became generally known in 1991, and a number of experts wrote about it in the Israeli journal New Outlook. The general consensus was that the Israel had no justification in bombing Osirak.

Iraq, the rogue regime, swallowed the attack stoically. Yet the incident radicalized Iraqi politics. One shudders to think what the US would have done if one of its nuclear power plants operating under NPT rules had been attacked. Yet this precedent of bombing an Iraqi nuclear power plant built under an operative international non-proliferation regime by a Western power had been set in the name of proliferation preemption, giving justification and impetus to secret nuclear programs that are much more difficult to monitor.

With the widespread acknowledgement by many experts that the components for assembling a nuclear device can easily be purchased in the open market for around $2 million, or a fully-assembled device for $20 million, the claim of US Vice President Dick Cheney in his acceptance speech in the Republican Convention in New York in late August this year that the illicit global nuclear proliferation network had been effectively shut down by Bush's "war on terrorism" sounded like a pitch to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to a gullible public. An iron rule of terrorism is what goes around, comes around from geopolitical blowback. One cannot exterminate terrorism any more than mosquitoes, except by reordering the ecosystem. Until the inequities of the socio-political ecosystem are eliminated, terrorism will continue to exist.

On the state level, one glaring lesson from the second Iraq War is that non-possession of nuclear weapons has become an open invitation to enemy invasion. Every government now will realize it is its sovereign responsibility to avail itself of nuclear capability for the defense of the nation, because the absence of nuclear capability has been turned into negative proof of intent to acquire such capability, which in turn provides the justification of reckless preemptive attack, undeterred by nuclear retaliation on the attacker. Nuclear proliferation will continue until all nuclear powers pledge themselves to the doctrine of no-first-use and the doctrine of no military force against non-nuclear nations.

An Iranian counter-offensive in 1982, aided by fresh US arms from the Iran-Contra deal, reclaimed much of the territory lost to Iraq during the early phase of the war. On November 26, 1983, Reagan signed a secret order instructing the US government to do "whatever was necessary and legal" to ensure that Iraq was not defeated in its war with Iran. At this time, the Reagan administration openly acknowledged its awareness that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that chemical weapons were used almost daily against Iranian forces (Washington Post December 30, 2002), but for geopolitical reasons chose to avoid making an issue out of these intelligence reports. In December 1983, Donald Rumsfeld, as secretary of defense, was sent by Reagan to Iraq to meet with Saddam to offer whatever assistance might be required. In November 1984, Reagan restored full diplomatic status to Iraq after meeting in Washington with Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.

The New York Times reported on August 29, 2002 that from 1982 to 1988, the US Defense Intelligence Agency provided detailed information to Iraq on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb damage assessments.

In March 1986, the US and Britain blocked all UN Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons, and on March 21 the US was the only country refusing to sign a Security Council statement condemning Iraq's use of these weapons. The US Department of Commerce licensed 70 biological exports to Iraq between May of 1985 and 1989, including at least 21 batches of lethal strains of anthrax. In May 1986, the US approved shipment of weapons-grade botulin poison to Iraq. In late 1987, Iraq began using chemical agents against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

Four major battles were fought in the Iran-Iraq war from April to August 1988, in which the Iraqis effectively used chemical weapons to defeat the Iranians. Nerve gas and blister agents such as mustard gas were used, in violation of the Geneva Accords of 1925. By this time, the US Defense Intelligence Agency was heavily involved with Saddam's military in battle-plan assistance, intelligence gathering and post-battle debriefing. In the last major battle of the war, 65,000 Iranians were killed, many with poison gas.
TOMORROW: The burden of being a superpower

Other articles in this series:
Geopolitics in Iraq an old game
Geopolitical weeds in the cradle of civilization

Henry C K Liu is chairman of the New York-based Liu Investment Group.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

1_1_4 On the origins of Cold War

For a New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard part 13

14 War and Foreign Policy

Open Fire and Open Markets Strategy of an Empire

Once, empires were built through direct conquest. Armies plundered their way across continents, claiming to bring the light of civilization to the savages of dark continents. Beneath it all, always, was the dispossession of millions for the enrichment of a few.

Imperial America's foreign policy is no different. With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States emerged as the uncontested solo superpower in the world. Having achieved a "pre-eminence not enjoyed by even the greatest empires of the past," the US is focused on securing its power globally, through both military and market interventions. America's "war for freedom" or "war on terrorism" is at one with its expansionary goals for the market: open invasion in some places, and open markets everywhere! Successive US administrations have used the rhetoric of economic freedom and opportunity to describe this policy: "free trade," "liberalization," "deregulation," "globalization." It is pushed-when necessary at the point of a gun-for countries the world over. This is the new Monroe Doctrine, underlying the empire's foreign policy-that the United States will dominate affairs around the world-expressed here in terms of economics, with the ubiquitous military underpinnings left discreetly in the background, unspoken, because there is no need to speak of them.

Eruptions of armed aggression by the US should not distract us from the underlying logic of economic imperialism. Recolonization of the South by the US is a carefully crafted strategy. First it cut its UN contributions. Then it shrank aid to the Third World, using its trade agenda as a justification. It uses both carrots-trade agreements for acquiescent states like Israel and Jordan, military aid and graft for once-"friendly" Iraq and Afghanistan-and sticks-embargoes and bombs for noncompliant nations such as Cuba and out-of-favor Afghanistan and Iraq. Today we see an escalation of both these techniques.

Open Invasion: The Truth Behind Operation Iraqi Freedom

"Even though the war has not completely ended, we are already started on the process of rebuilding Iraq. Thanks to the speedy success of the military operation, the task we face has turned out to be very different. There is no humanitarian crisis in Iraq."
-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC, May 22, 2003

The imperialist big picture for Iraq goes beyond reconstruction. It is to create a dream economy, completely privatized and foreign-owned, within a year of invasion and without waiting for a new government. Tim Carney, senior adviser to the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, said the coalition planned to start privatizations as soon as an interim administration was in place and heralded privatization as "the right direction for twenty-first-century Iraq."

As the US set up Iraq's interim administration (headed by an American official), the war on Iraq was shadowed by a battle among American corporations to win reconstruction contracts. Headlines of entrepreneurial websites read: "Iraq Construction Spells Opportunity. Small Businesses are lining up to win Contracts for the Rebuilding of Iraq: Have you taken a Number Yet?" Lobbyists with resumes reflecting years with the CIA and the military appeared to advise and open highly lucrative doors for their clients in postwar Iraq. One such adviser declared, "Iraq is going to be Afghanistan on steroids as far as nation-building is concerned. There are a lot of opportunities emerging in a full range of sectors."

Not all such opportunities are open to all. Before the war, in early March, USAID secretly asked six US companies to submit bids for $900 million in government contracts to repair and reconstruct water systems, roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. Coincidentally, the six companies-Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co., Louis Berger Group Inc., Parsons Corp. and Washington Group International Inc.-were also generous contributors of $3.6 million dollars in individual, PAC, and soft money donations between 1999 and 2002, 66 percent of which went to Republicans.

In late March, the first contract was awarded, without competition or detailed explanations of total cost, to Vice President Dick Cheney's old employer, the Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) unit of Halliburton Co. Halliburton contributed $708,770 between 1999 and 2002, 95 percent of it to Republicans. USAID also awarded a $4.8 million contract to manage the Umm Qasr ports in southern Iraq to Stevedoring Services of America (SSA), a private company and the country's largest marine terminal operator, 77 percent of whose contributions between 1999 and 2002 went to Republicans.

Bechtel landed the largest USAID contract: an initial award of $34.6 million, with funding of up to $680 million over 18 months subject to congressional approval. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, a Bechtel board member, is also chair of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Other Bechtel executives with Bush administration ties include senior vice-president Jack Sheehan, who sits on the Defense Policy Board formed to advise Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Bechtel chairman Riley Bechtel, a member of the President's Export Council, which advises the White House on international trade matters.

The most hotly contested contracts will be to rebuild Iraq's oil industry. The empire has left the selling of Iraq's oil resources-the world's second-largest-to Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi and former Iraqi petroleum ministry officials. Last year, Chalabi, whose close ties with Richard Perle, Rumsfeld, and Cheney predate the current Bush administration, met with US oil executives. Afterward, Chalabi made it clear he would give preference to an American-led oil consortium, and suggested that previous deals with Russia and France totaling billions of dollars could be voided.

But remaking the global oil market is not necessarily the endgame: rebuilding Iraq the way corporations want is. Transfer of public goods to private hands in Iraq is intended as an initial step in widespread privatization in the region. Conservative arguments have tended this way for months.

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined "Taking Iraq Private," by Robert McFarlane, national security adviser during the Reagan administration, and Michael Bleyzer, chief executive of an equity fund management company, argued that "the US and its allies would be well advised to put together a team of private sector business leaders as a 'steering committee' to supervise and monitor economic restructuring."

Similarly, in a paper presented last fall at a conference convened by the right-wing Heritage Foundation (and revised in March 2003), Ariel Cohen and Gerald O'Driscoll wrote: "To rehabilitate and modernize its economy, a post-Saddam government will need to move simultaneously on a number of economic policy fronts, utilizing the experience of privatization campaigns and structural reform in other countries." The authors assert what they call Lesson No. 1: "Privatization Works Everywhere." This despite recent signs from, of all places, the World Bank, that privatization hasn't lived up to any of its promises.

Privatization does work for the empire, though. Almost overnight, Baghdad has been turned into a vast emporium of imported goods in a McDonaldized Iraq, ruled by western overlords and serviced by US corporations. And there is the other side to the invasion of Iraq. While contracts have been guided like smart bombs into the laps of large corporations, thousands of Iraqi civilians have been terrorized, humiliated, maimed, injured, and killed through British and American bombing of civilian areas. Communities and families have been devastated by the military invasion, rivers have been polluted, and disease and hunger are rampant in the country. Food warehouses, electrical grids, and hospitals have been ransacked and burned to the ground.

The Middle East: On the Threshold of Change?

President Bush bridged war and trade in his commencement speech at the University of South Carolina on May 9. After trumpeting victory in Iraq, he unveiled his plans to create a US-Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) within a decade, the proposed goal being "to bring the Middle East into an expanding circle of opportunity, to provide hope for the people who live in that region. As trade expands and knowledge spreads to the Middle EastŠall peoples of that region will see a new day of justice and a new day of prosperity."

Simply, imperial America needs to deliver the Middle East to free trade. The region includes many of the most closed and protected economies in the world. Half of the 22 members of the Arab League, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and Algeria, remain outside the World Trade Organization (WTO). Most of the region's countries have a long-standing economic boycott against Israel, while Iran, Syria, and Libya face US economic sanctions. Further, the region's import tariffs are among the highest in the world, averaging more than 20 percent, with strict restrictions on foreign investment.

Mr. Bush is keen to help so-called "reforming" countries negotiate bilateral investment and "free" trade treaties and become members of the WTO. The US wants to conclude a trade pact with Morocco by the end of 2003, and hopes to start negotiations with Bahrain soon. Egypt was to get a trade pact as a reward for its help in the Iraq war (and in part because the US views Egypt as the heart of the Arab world). However, when Egypt chose not to join the US complaint at the WTO against Europe's ban on genetically modified foods, the US retaliated by suspending trade talks-a harsh reminder that "you are either with us or against us."

International financial institutions-the empire's economic generals-are also racing to bring "free" trade initiatives to the Middle East. The World Economic Forum (WEF), comprising high-profile corporate and government leaders, organized the "Global Reconciliation" summit in Amman, Jordan from June 21 to 23, 2003. President Bush dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to seize this "historic opportunity" to expand freedom and increase prosperity in the Middle East. European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy emphasized the need for a roadmap to build trade in the region. "If the roadmap works, and peace returns, then Bob Zoellick and I must be the road construction workers," he said.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), eager to work in the region, have scheduled their next annual meeting for September 2003 in Dubai's Gulf City. The IMF dedicated the March issue of its quarterly magazine, Finance and Development, to the region, with article after article advising the region's countries to dismantle their social protection systems and reduce their public sectors. Finally, trade ministers from a select two dozen of the WTO's 146 members, including Zoellick and Lamy, met at a WTO mini-ministerial in Egypt on June 21 to 22, 2003, in preparation for the WTO September 2003 ministerial in Cancún, Mexico.

Open Season on the Poor: The War At Home

"Their goals may or may not coincide with the best interests of the American people. Think of the divergence of interests, for example, between the grunts who are actually fighting this war, who have been eating sand and spilling their blood in the desert, and the power brokers who fought like crazy to make the war happen and are profiteering from it every step of the way."
-Bob Herbert, "Spoils of War," The New York Times, April 10, 2003

Since September 11, 2001 Mr. Bush has encouraged consumers to spend beyond their means as a solution to US economic ills. He has done likewise. The federal budget surplus of $127 billion at the beginning of his term in 2001 became a deficit of $455 billion in the 2003 fiscal year, the largest ever and $150 billion higher than predicted by the administration just five months earlier. Trillion-plus-dollar tax cuts for the rich and an increase in government spending on military and domestic security are some of the main causes behind the deficit.

The defense industry has seen a considerable return on its $8.7 million in contributions to the Republican Party during the 2000 elections. The military budget for fiscal year 2003 was increased by $45.5 billion, the largest single increase since 1966. The total annual US military budget will be $396.1 billion-26 times larger than the combined military budgets for the countries considered "rogue states" by the administration: Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Congress also approved a $75 billion request from Bush to finance war-related costs, which covers only the first six months in Iraq. Some estimate that the combined costs of war and reconstruction will be closer to $200 billion.

The military buildup and the costs of war are being paid out of funds that could be used to address hunger, poverty, and health care needs, both at home and abroad. Left behind is a nation where family farmers face foreclosure and millions go hungry every night, and where the social safety net has been dismantled. And with the rise in unemployment, the poor have few options left.

One remaining option is America's military, supposedly an "all-volunteer" force. Micah Wright, a former US Army Airborne Ranger, describes a military made up of people who "volunteer" because it's their only chance of escaping poverty. African-Americans, 12 percent of the population, make up 26 percent of the Army. The numbers are similarly skewed for Latinos and Native Americans.

Then there's the "No Child Left Behind in Education" Act, which took effect on Jan. 8, 2002, and which requires high schools to facilitate the military recruitment of their students as a condition of receiving federal education funding.

Large deficits created by an unjust war and a desire to privatize the world have led to lost jobs, lower wages, and fewer business opportunities in America. Fourth of July weekend had a bleak start, with unemployment rates at the highest level (6.4 percent) in more than nine years. In June alone, 30,000 jobs were eliminated. May job losses, initially reported at 17,000, were revised to 70,000. Unemployment claims are trending up: in the first week of war, 445,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits.

The budget resolution passed in March 2003 indicates cuts to programs from Medicaid to school lunches, college loans to veterans' benefits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that reductions in mandatory programs for the elderly, veterans, and the poor will amount to $226 billion over 10 years, with another $210 billion lopped off discretionary programs. This total of $475 billion is about equal to the tax reduction Mr. Bush has offered to the top 1 percent of earners in America. These reductions in the social safety net would average 4 percent over 10 years, meaning, for example, that in the worst years, the budget for Medicaid would be cut by 7 percent. This when more than 43 million Americans already have no health insurance and the US already has the highest proportion of children born into poverty in the developed world (22 percent). The government has unilaterally withdrawn from the war on poverty, choosing to redeploy its might on an altogether different war: a war on the poor.

An Open Ending

In March 2003, Mr. Bush alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way in the UN Security Council on the question of Iraq. In July 2003, the administration cut off military aid to 35 friendly countries in retaliation for their support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and refusal to exempt US soldiers from the ICC's jurisdiction.

Unconstrained by any system of global governance, the US has rejected human rights treaties it finds inconvenient and recklessly indulged in an illegal military occupation of Iraq, and it maintains a string of murderous embargos. And the empire makes no bones about its desire to attack and "regime-change" Syria, Iran, Libya, North Korea, possibly Saudi Arabia, and even Cuba.

The American empire's callous quest for global dominance is generating resistance. A Pew poll asking 38,000 people in 44 countries what they think of America shows they don't trust or identify with American aims or leadership. Rather the opposite: Pew paints a picture of "hearts and minds being lost, of allies flaking away, of nations like Japan, Korea, and Italy beginning to cross to the other side of the street."

And as Washington's foreign policy loses legitimacy and is increasingly viewed even among its allies as imperial domination, a powerful global civil society movement-the movement for peace and justice-is forming against US unilateralism, militarism, and economic hegemony.

Anti-war movements in both North and South are linking up and challenging the WTO, FTAA, NAFTA, and other trade agreements that constitute an economic war on the working poor around the world. Peasants, indigenous peoples, women, and workers are uniting against trade agreements that make governments cede the people's sovereignty to corporations. And a movement for political and economic sovereignty is growing in Iraq. Even in the face of occupation following a brutal invasion, tens of thousands march regularly in the streets and fields of Iraq, demanding US troops quit the country and allow the citizens to take charge of the nation-building.

Against a future of war, injustice, and permanent crisis, the vast majority of people in this planet oppose empire. They say:

Enough.
No to war.
End the tyranny of free trade and the WTO.
No to FTAA.
Another world is possible.

Anuradha Mittal is co-director of Food First

This War on Terrorism is Bogus by Michael Meacher

The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination
Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defense secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Also See:
Ex-UK Environment Minister Sparks Fury Over Claims on September 11 and Iraq War

MP Michael Meacher
UK Environment Minister from 5/97-6/2003

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says "while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz and Libby which said the US must "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role". It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership". It describes peacekeeping missions as "demanding American political leadership rather than that of the UN". It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene", US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently... as "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has". It spotlights China for "regime change", saying "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in SE Asia".

The document also calls for the creation of "US space forces" to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons "that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool".

Finally - written a year before 9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of a "worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for rightwing fantasists, it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This can be seen in several ways.

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.

It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with airplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House".

Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).

Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002).

All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews Air Force base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defense of incompetence."

Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured". The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US air force complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism.

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, "military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that "military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October". Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs" (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).

Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance. There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to implement.

The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010 the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world's oil production and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s.

This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil supplies for both the US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI minister has admitted that the UK could be facing "severe" gas shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed that 70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will be imported. In that context it should be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to its oil.

A report from the commission on America's national interests in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas.

Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation in US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met Gadaffi in his desert tent in August 2002, it was said that "the UK does not want to lose out to other European nations already jostling for advantage when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts" with Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course.

Michael Meacher MP was environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003

'Cost of Empire' The High Price of US Policies

Published on Sunday, September 7, 2003 by the Toronto Sun

'Cost of Empire': The High Price of US Policies

by Eric Margolis

Two years after the Sept. 11 suicide attacks on the United States, this earthshaking event remains clouded by mystery and misunderstanding.

Was al-Qaida behind the operation? Most likely, but not for certain. Secretary of State Colin Powell promised a white paper proving al-Qaida's guilt. It never came.

A tape that surfaced in late 2001 purporting to show Osama bin Laden gleefully chortling over the attacks, was seen by many in the Arab and Muslim world as a crude fake.

The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and Spain, not Afghanistan, by young men, mostly Saudis, who were educated and westernized.

Afghanistan's Taliban regime, until four months before 9/11 a recipient of U.S. aid, had nothing to do with the attacks, but did provide a base for al-Qaida, which numbered only 300 members. Most of the "terrorists" in Afghanistan cited by the U.S. were actually independence fighters from neighboring Central Asia. Taliban refused to hand bin Laden, a national hero of the 1980s anti-Soviet war, to the U.S. without proof of his guilt in 9/11, which the U.S. declined to provide.

This allowed far right neo-conservatives to seize control of U.S. national security policy. They immediately launched the invasion of Afghanistan and began preparing war against Iraq. There's now evidence both invasions, intended to seize major oil regions, were being planned long before 9/11.

President George Bush was widely regarded pre-9/11 as a hapless, rather comical figure enmeshed in the Enron scandal. The savage assaults transformed him into a savior on a white horse, bathed in praise by the fawning U.S. media.

The Bush administration created a firestorm of jingoism, war fever, and national hysteria that quickly obscured its failure to protect the nation from an attack that Mideast observers, including this column, had predicted was coming.

Disparate bands of extremists

Bush declared a war on terrorism and dispatched U.S. armed forces to attack Muslim mischief-makers around the globe. This, however, was not a real war, but rather a police action against disparate bands of violent anti-American extremists determined to drive U.S. political and economic influence from their lands, and aid the struggle in Palestine.

Declaring "war on terrorism" made no more sense than declaring war on evil.

Few Americans understand their nation became a modern imperial power after World War II, or that it had recreated in the Mideast a modern version of the British Empire - the American Raj. Most were simply unaware, or uncaring, that their governments had been overthrowing regimes, assassinating foreign leaders, promoting dictatorships and waging undeclared wars on foreign nations since the late 1940s.

Fewer understood the U.S. was de facto ruler of Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf states, and overlord of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Washington kept highly repressive feudal or military dictatorships in power in all these nations that advanced Washington's strategic interests and brutally crushed all opponents. Most Americans were unaware that Israel was fighting Palestinians with U.S.-supplied arms, financed by U.S. taxpayers, or that in the eyes of most Mideasterners, and all extremists, Israel and the United States had become indistinguishable.

Osama bin Laden kept tirelessly repeating this theme, calling for revolution against the American Mideast Raj and its Arab vassal rulers. That, far more than truck bombs, was bin Laden's real threat to U.S. interests. Interestingly, bin Laden recently predicted he will shortly die a martyr.

The ghastly 9/11 attacks were what Imperial Britain called the "cost of empire." Angry, fanatical natives would strike back, using any means to punish the high-tech empire seeking to rule them.

Britain had Maxim guns; America, terrifying B-52s.

Bush's knee-jerk military response to essentially political problems, an historic blunder, has left the U.S. mired in deepening guerrilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, costing over $7 billion US monthly and growing numbers of American casualties.

Heavy bombing of Afghanistan prior to 9/11, what ever-wrongheaded neo-cons say should have been done, would not have prevented 9/11. Having alert security guards at Boston airport would have. The attacks of 9/11 might have been averted by proper coordination between FBI and CIA, and if Bush's astoundingly inept national security staff had done its job.

Instead, Attorney General John Ashcroft, today the self-appointed scourge of Muslim malefactors, actually cut anti-terrorism spending just before 9/11.

Nothing can excuse the sickening barbarity of the 9/11 attacks. But nothing should excuse America's pre-attack delusions of Olympian immunity from the ills of the outside world, some caused by U.S. policies.

Nor America's casual indifference to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children caused by a cruel U.S.-imposed embargo. Nor the bulldozing of Palestinian shanty towns, without realizing that at some point enraged recipients of U.S. geo-strategic discipline would bite back. Nor the risk of aircraft attacks.

This writer was aboard a hijacked Lufthansa A310 in 1993 when the air pirate warned the FBI he would crash the jumbo jet into New York's Wall Street.

All the flag-waving and heart-rending survivor interviews that will mark this week's 9/11 anniversary should not - but, of course, will - obscure the painful truth: the faux-macho Bush administration was asleep while on guard; it refuses to accept responsibility for its dereliction of duty; and continues to mislead Americans about the real causes of 9/11.

TheStar.com - Goodwill squandered by TIM HARPER

George W. Bush prepares to quietly mark 9/11 anniversary with little to show for his war on terror

As he stood atop a wrecked fire engine, shouting encouragement through a bullhorn to exhausted World Trade Center rescue workers, the response came in a defiant cadence, louder and louder.

"U.S.A., U.S.A.," they shouted back at George W. Bush, and in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, who among us didn't feel a kinship with his grieving nation?

A thirst for retribution had international support and understanding from a sympathetic world and Americans instinctively closed ranks behind their commander-in-chief.

Yet, handed as much political capital as any president in U.S. history, Bush has done the near-impossible in only 24 months, squandering the global goodwill and watching his domestic backing erode daily.

Next Thursday, when he will quietly mark the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 in his country, Bush will have little in the way of anti-terrorism victories to take to Americans two years after his declaration of the "first war of the 21st century."

Instead, he will address the nation tonight as he heads back to the United Nations, cap in hand, looking for money and manpower from the organization he had derided as slipping into irrelevancy when it refused to support his campaign in Iraq.

He looks, as Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry suggested last week, like a man who needs some friends in this world.

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush and his administration are quite rightly tarred as the gang that fights good war, but forges lousy peace — more interested in dropping smart bombs than building democracies.

"We fight the war very well, but we display a mix of indifference and incompetence at managing the post-war environment," says Flynt Leverett, a scholar at Washington's Saban Centre and former CIA analyst.

"I think it is traceable to a serious intellectual deficit, or conceptual deficit, at the heart of the policy."

Bush is again courting a transatlantic rift and a reprise of the diplomatic fights with France and Germany that marked the pre-war period.

Kerry and other Democratic candidates looking to unseat him in next year's election are tripping over each other to decry the Iraqi mission and Republican unilateralism in a bid to catch up to Howard Dean, the front-running Democrat who fashioned an improbable lead by casting himself early as the anti-war candidate and waiting for the wave to come to him.

Bush and his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, now stand accused of substituting arrogance for foreign-policy vision and of replacing diplomacy and flexibility with stubbornness and rigid ideology.

The "evil-doers" Bush pledged to hunt down remain at large, regrouping and conspiring as American troops are stretched beyond their capacity in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This enormous outpouring of sympathy was so rare because U.S. foreign policy doesn't usually engender sympathy," says Phyllis Bennis, author of Before And After: U.S. Foreign Policy And The September 11 Crisis. "The idea that this could have been squandered is particularly horrific." Bennis argues that Bush began to toss out the goodwill shortly after 9/11, when he told the nations of the world that they were either for him or against him and suggested that those who would not join his crusade were on the side of terrorism.

"America was acting as if they were the only ones who had ever been attacked in this way," Bennis says. "If ever there was a time that should have taught us we needed the rest of the world to bring the perpetrators to justice, this was it.

"Instead, the argument was: You have to be with us in our crusade."

James Rubin, an international relations professor at the London School of Economics and former State Department official in the Clinton administration, argues that America lost its diplomatic compass under Bush because it let military objectives and timelines guide its foreign policy. Exercising power without careful diplomacy has left the United States' reputation in tatters," Rubin writes in Foreign Affairs magazine. European leaders saw through the charade at the U.N. Security Council before the U.S.-led March invasion, knowing Washington would never be satisfied with anything less than war in Iraq. He cites Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney — representing the hawkish wing of an administration that could never deliver a coherent message — for disparaging the U.N. and its arms inspectors.

But, Rubin says, the well had been poisoned with Europe even before Sept. 11, when the bullying Bush government came to power — the president wearing his unilateralism on his sleeve as his administration pulled out of and disparaged international treaties ranging from the Kyoto protocol on the environment to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and, most important, the International Criminal Court.

"One reason Washington's goodwill reserve had all but vanished is that European countries pay a lot of attention to treaties," Rubin writes.

A poll published in Canada in the spring showed Bush to be the least popular American president since Canadians have been asked to rate their approval of U.S. leaders.

In western Europe, Bush and his foreign policy have never been more unpopular, according to a major American-European poll released this month.

The poll of 8,000 Americans and Europeans was conducted by the Italian Compagnia di San Paolo and the U.S. German Marshall Fund.

When they measured approval of Bush's foreign policy, they found 60 per cent of Americans backed their president. But of the seven European countries canvassed, only in Poland — with a sizeable troop contingent now in Iraq — did a majority of respondents back Bush.

Approval was at 16 per cent in Germany and 15 per cent in France. In Tony Blair's Britain, only 35 per cent approved Bush's performance on the world stage.

Perhaps most telling, 78 per cent of Europeans polled said they thought U.S. unilateralism posed a possible international threat over the next 10 years.

"There is a Bush style that really does drive Europeans up a wall," German Marshall Fund president Craig Kennedy told the Washington Post.

However, since Bush's views are still backed by a majority of Americans, a Democratic president would have trouble selling radical changes to foreign policy, Kennedy says.

Sensitive to these charges of an administration that is foundering, Secretary of State Colin Powell used the word "strategy" more than 20 times during a lengthy overview of American foreign policy at George Washington University in the nation's capital Friday morning.

In Powell's view, the Bush administration has been able to build more global friendships than any other American government in history, building on the post-Cold War era.

"We have a National Security Strategy that is based on a vision, a vision that includes strong partnerships, not unilateralism, but strong partnerships with our traditional allies and our new friends on the world stage," Powell said.

"Today, America's motives are impugned in some lands, but as we preserve, defend and expand the peace that free peoples won in the 21st century, I believe we will see America vindicated in the eyes of the world, speedily in our time, in the 21st century."

The administration's push in Iraq now — beginning with tonight's speech by Bush and in the days leading to his U.N. address on Sept. 23 — will focus on the need to hand Iraq back to Iraqis as quickly as possible.

But some analysts feel Washington has waited too long to go back to the U.N., in effect squandering international capital yet again.

"The hand that the U.S. has to play right now is much weaker than it might have been had we done this either beforehand or, at the very least, immediately afterward," Ken Pollack, an Iraqi expert at the Brookings Institution, told a seminar last week.

"In those few weeks after the fall of Baghdad, most of our allies were coming back to us and saying, `Look, clean slate. We had our differences before the war, but the war is now over. We want to mend fences; we want to be part of the reconstruction. We want to help.'

"And the administration stiffed them and basically told them it's our way or the highway." Pollack said Washington should always have been aware that it needed U.N. help "In terms of building democracy in a country ... we don't know how to do it. "Where has the United States actually ever built democracy? The U.N. has done it. It's the full panoply of U.N. capabilities to rebuild a country, which the U.S. simply doesn't have." To build democracy in Iraq, Pollack said, the United States must relinquish a large part of its political control in that country to the United Nations.

And for that to happen, Bush the unilateralist would have to undergo a major foreign-policy metamorphosis, one that apparently would be driven by desperation, not idealistic conversion.

Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist and Author of The Great Unraveling Losing Our Way in the New Century - A BuzzFlash Interview

Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist and Author of "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century"

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

Paul Krugman to BuzzFlash.com: "Well, a couple of things. The first is that a good part of the media are essentially part of the machine. If you work for any Murdoch publication or network, or if you work for the Rev. Moon's empire, you're really not a journalist in the way that we used to think. You're basically just part of a propaganda machine. And that's a pretty large segment of the media.

As for the rest, certainly being critical at the level I've been critical –- basically saying that these guys are lying, even if it's staring you in the face –- is a very unpleasant experience. You get a lot of heat from people who should be on your side, because they accuse you of being shrill, which is everybody's favorite word for me. And you become a personal target. It can be quite frightening. I've seen cases where a journalist starts to say something less than reverential about Bush, and then catches himself or herself, and says something like, "Oh, I better not say that, I'll get 'mailed.'" And what they mean by "mail" is hate mail, and it also means that somebody is going to try to see if there's anything in your personal history that can be used to smear you.

It's like shock therapy, aversion therapy. If you touch these things, you yourself are going to get an unpleasant, painful electric shock. And most people in the media just back off as a result."

t r u t h o u t - British MP Attacks U.S. on 9-11 and War

British MP Attacks U.S. on 9/11 and War
This War on Terrorism is Bogus

Michael Meacher
The Guardian

Saturday 06 September 2003

The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination

Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says "while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz and Libby which said the US must "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role". It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership". It describes peacekeeping missions as "demanding American political leadership rather than that of the UN". It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene", US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently... as "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has". It spotlights China for "regime change", saying "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in SE Asia".

The document also calls for the creation of "US space forces" to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing biological weapons "that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool".

Finally - written a year before 9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of a "worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for rightwing fantasists, it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This can be seen in several ways.

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.

It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House".

Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).

Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002).

All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."

Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured". The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism.

The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilising influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, "military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September 18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that "military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October". Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs" (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).

Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance. There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to implement.

The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010 the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world's oil production and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s.

This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil supplies for both the US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI minister has admitted that the UK could be facing "severe" gas shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed that 70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will be imported. In that context it should be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to its oil.

A report from the commission on America's national interests in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap gas.

Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation in US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met Gadaffi in his desert tent in August 2002, it was said that "the UK does not want to lose out to other European nations already jostling for advantage when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts" with Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course.



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