Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Origins of the Quagmire

I watch as my government drops thousands of tons of bombs on the people of Fallujah, Iraq. Many of those bombs, if not most, are made of depleted uranium which will go on killing Iraqis for thousands of years. We now know that Iraqi had no weapons of mass destruction, had no connection with Al Qaeda and the 9-11 attacks, had no nuclear weapons development programs. How did this come about?

According to Bill Moyer’s documentary, “Secret Government”, it started in 1947, when Truman signed the National Security Act which set up the CIA and the National Security Council, two bodies which took decisions about war and peace out of the hands of Congress and rested them in the secret meetings of un-elected officials whose provenance was undercover spying.

They first turned their hand to over-throwing the elected government of Iran in 1953. Yes, that’s where our troubles with Iran started. Because the then democratically elected prime minister of Iran had dared to wrest control over Iranian oil fields from private ownership by British oil companies, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to effect a coup and install the Shah Pavlavi back into power. With the Shah, came the CIA created secret police, SAVAK, which killed and tortured thousands of Iranians to keep him in power.

Following the 1953 Iranian coup, our CIA engineered similar coups in South Vietnam, Guatemala, Chile and a number of African countries, all without Congressional approval. There has been no official declaration of war by Congress since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.

In 1979, mass revulsion at the Shah’s bloody reign was channeled by the Iranian religious leaders, the mullahs, into a revolution which not only ousted the Shah and brought religious fundamentalists to power, but brought with it virulent anti-American animosity, culminating in the take over of the American embassy and holding of American hostages.

Thereafter, to counteract the Iranians, the U.S. and its CIA, who had assisted the installation of Saddam Hussein into power in Iraq, supported his eight year war against Iran and, with the assistance of Donald Rumsfeld, sold him the biological and chemical weapons for use against Iran, the same weapons we were later to use to justify our invasion of his country and the installation of yet another CIA groomed leader, Ahmed Allawi.

When Saddam turned his attention to claims to oil fields in Kuwait and invaded that country in 1990, the first President Bush, seeing danger to the control of Kuwaiti oil fields and those of Saudi Arabia, organized a grand coalition to stop Saddam and did so in 1991. Bush I wisely chose not to chase Saddam to Baghdad, fearing the quagmire that might ensue if we attempted to depose him and occupy Iraq. That wisdom was not passed down to the second President Bush, who now has engulfed us in the very quagmire foreseen by his father.

But the first president Bush’s wisdom did not extend to events in Afghanistan, where he used the CIA to arm Islamic resistance to the Russian occupation of that country. The CIA trained and armed those who were to become the Taliban and Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. The objective was stop Russian hegemony over the oil fields and oil pipelines from the Caspian Sea area. Our energy companies wanted access to that oil and gas.

(After successfully obstructing Saddam’s thrust into Kuwait, the first President Bush negotiated the basing of American troops in Saudi Arabia.. That is what grossly offended Osama Bin Laden and fomented his anger against the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. That is where his terrorism against the U.S. had its roots.)

In 1992, those in the first President Bush’s administration who disagreed with his decision to stop at the Iraqi border began developing a strategy for world dominance, directed to obtaining control, either direct or through surrogates, of the world’s major energy sources. Control over Iraq was a key piece in their plan, to be followed by control of Iran and Syria. Their aim was to protect Israel, with which some of them were closely allied, to put domination of the Middle Eastern oil fields into the hands of American energy companies, and to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia into Iraqi bases.

With their installation of puppet, President George W. Bush, in office, these relatively few individuals, all members of the Project for a New American Century, took positions of critical power in his administration: Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, and Perle, among others, the so-called neo-conservatives, began to implement their plans.

Their first objective was to take over Iraq, privatize and control its oil fields and then to place military bases there for the future control of Iran and Syria. Twelve military bases are being built in Iraq as I write. Their secret machinations fabricated the notion that Saddam was a threat, from the false allegations of Saddam's collusion with Al Qaeda to the phony evidence of a nuclear weapons program (the aluminium tubes and the Niger yellow cake documets).

To do this, they created their own miniature intelligence agency within the Defense Department. That was the original office of misinformation.

These neo-conservatives, driven by a radical commitment to the most extreme form of corporate capitalist power, cloaked in the guise of bringing “democracy” to the world, in fact eschew representative government, believing that they are the intellectual elite with the duty and right to control the American government and its world wide empire.

Like Bush, who believes he channels the words of God, these neo-conservatives are also fantasists who believe that they can substitute their will and their ideology for the reality on the ground. At present, the reality on the ground has confounded them in Iraq. They truly expected Iraq to submit to their will, and accept their putative puppet Ahmed Chalabi as their leader. That did not work. Their back-up surrogate, Allawi, is not working either. To distract from the disaster they’ve caused there, they are pointing to Iran as the culprit, with a view to destabilizing that country as well. But that was also part of their original plan.

Bush keeps telling us that his “war on terrorism” will be a long, long war. In fact, it will be a series of wars, not focused on the real terrorism of the Bin Ladins , but focused on extending American hegemony worldwide, until “the sun never sets on the American empire”.

Bush and this small group of ideologues who brought us to the quagmire in Iraq are both arrogant and incompetent, and those qualities may foil their plan, but in the meantime they are secretly destroying the fundamental structures of American democracy.

They have replaced our constitutional rights with their repressive Patriot Act, ignored international treaties giving rights to prisoners of war and occupied civilians, officially instituted policies allowing torture and secret detentions, and filled our regulatory agencies with corporate officials from the putatively regulated industries.

At this very moment, they are in the process of suppressing the voting rights of those who oppose them in the United States.

We must restore control to the American people, re-establish a representative, working Congress, and make sure that never again will the American government be run by secret cabal which perverts our values and democratic institution.

Correction from Juan Cole:

Yes, this is the basic narrative. The
only thing that leapt out at me to change was that it was Reagan who arranged
for the Mujahidin in Afghanistan to be given billions (Carter started it, but
only gave $50 mn. for 1981). By the time Bush senior got in, the war had
wound down and Bush made a deal with the Soviets that he would cut off the
Mujahidin if they would butt out permanently. So Bush turned his back on
Afghanistan in 1991 altogether, setting policy that was continued by
Clinton. Leaving Afghanistan to fall into chaos and then the hands of the
Pakistani-organized Taliban maybe wasn't a good idea.

Thanks, Juan at


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