Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The New Klingons Part II: Eyes on Iraq

In the beginning, before there was the Project for the New American Century, that group of New Klingons who believe that American military power is so great, it should be used whenever and wherever it suits us, there was the Cold War. The PNAC signatories came of age during that great-power conflict with the former Soviet Union and saw the prime directive of the United States to oppose the imposition of communist (read: Soviet) influence wherever it occurred.

That gave rise to the Korean and Vietnam debacles, not to mention a culture of CIA-arranged coups bent on overthrowing left-leaning governments around the developing world and replacing them with America-leaning regimes. That many of those regimes brutally repressed dissent among their own people mattered not to those hawks who served either in the military, academe or government during the Sixties and Seventies, and one day would be dubbed neoconservatives. Those dictators were friendly to the United States, sold us oil, or let us build military bases in their countries, and that was enough.

One of those was Iran, headed by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who owed his regime to the CIA, which overthrew his predecessor, Muhammad Mossadegh, in 1953. And the Shah gave us the key to his oil industry -- which Mossadegh had nationalized, earning the wrath of the U.S. -- and turned his secret police, SAVAK, loose on his own people.

But when his regime was overthrown in 1979 by Shiite followers of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which proceeded to hold nearly 70 Americans hostage for a year and a half, the United States allied itself with Iran's sworn enemy, Iraq. That was fully endorsed by the PNACers, many of whom continued to serve in government, through the Republican administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.

While Saddam Hussein was gassing his own people, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, among other future PNACers, sold him all kinds of weapons. We didn't care that he was a murderer, or that he was amassing weapons of mass destruction. He was fighting Iran, and that was good enough for us. (We sold all kinds of weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan as well, because they were fighting the invading Soviet Union.)

But one day in 1990, Saddam threw the U.S. a curveball by threatening to take control of the Kuwait oil fields. Torturing and murdering your opposition, gassing the Kurds, even training Scud missiles on Tel Aviv we could take. Threaten our oil and you've crossed the line. So George H. W. Bush and Colin Powell, then the chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff, pushed Saddam back to Baghdad. Now, in Orwellian fashion of swapping out enemies in mid-war, we wanted Saddam out.

It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.
No, this language wasn't part of the blank-check resolution authorizing George W. Bush to invade Iraq for its own good in 2002. It was part of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Congress gave Clinton nearly a hundred billion dollars to accomplish the job.

But aside from enforcing the no-fly zone enacted by the United Nations after Gulf War I, and taking aim at a military installation here and there, Clinton didn't do nearly enough to suit the wishes of the future neocons, who now found themselves on the outs in Washington and reduced to sniping at the administration through printed lies and special prosecutors. So they united under the heading of Project for a New American Century and took full advantage of the right wing's propaganda organs to advance their beliefs on the efficacy of making war. On Nov. 16, 1998, one of the PNAC's such propaganda organs, The Weekly Standard, editorialized:
There is a way to deal with Saddam that can work, and we’ve outlined it in these pages over the past year: It is to complete the unfinished business of the 1991 Gulf War and get rid of Saddam.
The Saddam-one-note war drumming continued throughout the rest of the Clinton presidency, and when the 2000 campaign began, the PNACers had the willing ear of George W. Bush. It wasn't hard to convince the governor of Texas to put a hit on Saddam, who, it was alleged, had tried to assassinate his father some years before, although the truth of that allegation has been questioned.

A seminal position paper,
"Rebuilding America's Defenses," written in 2000, outlines the belligerency of the PNAC.
America’s adversaries will continue to resist the building of the American peace; when they see an opportunity as Saddam Hussein did in 1990, they will employ their most powerful armed forces to win on the battlefield what they could not win in peaceful competition; and American armed forces will remain the core of efforts to deter, defeat, or remove from power regional aggressors.
When Bush was crowned president by the Supreme Court, PNACers were restored to hallowed places in government: Don Rumsfeld, Doug Feith, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz took their beliefs that a war machine was useless if you didn't use it to their positions in the Defense Department; Dick Cheney took his to the vice president's chair. It wasn't long before their policy statements urging a take-out of Saddam were circulating around the Pentagon.

But as tax cuts and not foreign policy characterized the first year of George W. Bush's reign, the PNACers became antsy, as this July 6, 2001, memo indicates:
It now appears that those campaign promises [of being tough on Saddam] aren’t likely to be fulfilled. Although the Bush Administration is in the midst of what is supposed to be a thoroughgoing review of policy toward Iraq, the outcome is close to a foregone conclusion. The sanctions imposed upon Iraq after Operation Desert Storm are in shreds, and the UN this week would not even allow the fiction of an orderly American retreat under the flag of “smart sanctions.” Saddam already is earning enough to revive his missile and weapons of mass destruction programs and UN inspectors were ejected from Iraq years ago.

Further, Secretary Rumsfeld’s defense review may wipe out 20 percent of Army combat units. This would make any American support to the Iraqi opposition a highly conditional, airpower-only affair. Assembling a heavy, armored force of even four divisions that could, if necessary, defeat Saddam’s army and then occupy Iraq would involve not only every unit based in the United States, but in Korea and Europe as well. The difficulties of deploying and employing such a force would raise a risk that undoubtedly would be a deterrent to any American president inclined to action against Iraq.
"Rebuilding America's Defenses" warned that if conditions didn't change, rearmament would take too long a time. It contained some portentous language:
Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
So a new Pearl Harbor sure would make their dreams come true. They got it on September 11, 2001.

Next: The Lies Proliferate


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