The war they wanted
April 30, 2004 | Pages 6 and 7
ERIC RUDER reports on another insider account that exposes the Bush administration's fanatical drive to get its war for oil and empire in Iraq--and ELIZABETH SCHULTE explains why Kerry and the Democrats won't oppose Bush's barbaric occupation.
Woodward's insider account of the Bush fanatics
WITHIN HOURS of the September 11, 2001 hijackings, officials in the Bush White House were strategizing about how to use the event as a pretext for a new war against Iraq.
To make their case for an invasion, they used hyped-up "intelligence" to claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. And they continually referred to a nonexistent connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
These lies that led to war aren't news any more. In fact, antiwar publications like Socialist Worker reported the truth long before the invasion took place. But Bush's deceptions and obsession with Iraq are front-page news in mainstream publications today--because the accusations are coming from an ultimate Washington insider, journalist Bob Woodward.
Woodward's new book Plan of Attack is an account of the administration's drive to war against Iraq. It confirms the basic facts put forward in two other tell-all insider accounts--by former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
But the Bush administration faces a tougher problem discrediting Woodward, who had insider access to the administration. So while the Bush administration sent out its attack dogs to portray Clarke and O'Neill as liars bent on self-promotion, they're trying to embrace Woodward's Plan of Attack--with clenched teeth.
That means tolerating some embarrassing revelations. For example, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld showed Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan classified plans for the U.S. war on Iraq--even before Secretary of State Colin Powell saw them. Woodward also reports that the Saudi prince promised to do what he could to lower oil prices in the run-up to the presidential election in November--so Bush could get credit for a rebounding economy and lower gasoline prices at crunch time.
There's further evidence that administration officials had their sights set on Iraq from within hours of the September 11 attacks--with Rumsfeld leading the way. The notes of a Rumsfeld aide from the days after September 11 read, "Hit S.H. @ same time--not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]."
Woodward has also uncovered other details that expose the petty vindictiveness and arrogance of the Bush gang. For example, Bush's chief adviser Karl Rove apparently hates Hans Bliz, the Swedish chief weapons inspector for the United Nations. Why? because Rove, a Norwegian-American, is fixated on the "historical duplicity" of the Swedes who seized Norway in 1814.
Much of official Washington's attention has been focused on Woodward's allegation that the Bush administration secretly used $700 million earmarked for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan to prepare for war on Iraq.
In July 2002, about eight months before the invasion of Iraq began, Gen. Tommy Franks told Rumsfeld about two tasks that needed to be accomplished in Kuwait to prepare for war on Iraq. One, the military would need its air bases prepared to handle the huge influx of aircraft and munitions, and two, it would need a distribution infrastructure to bring fuel to the Iraqi border to support ground forces. But because Bush claimed at the time that he had no concrete plans for war with Iraq, the White House couldn't ask Congress for the money to carry out these preparations.
Compared to what the U.S. has spent since on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, $700 million is petty cash. But the money was spent without Congress' approval--a constitutional violation.
The scam invites comparison with another time the White House organized a war behind Congress' back--the Iran-contra scandal under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. "Iran-Contra involved a network of aides outsourcing U.S. foreign policy like a separate government to circumvent the separation of powers, by selling missiles to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan contras," writes Sidney Blumenthal, a Salon columnist and former Clinton administration official. "The Iraq war was not conceived by aides, but by the president and his war Cabinet in an apparent effort to evade constitutional checks and balances."
Colin Powell seems to have given Woodward much of the firsthand material for this book. And Woodward depicts Powell as a "reluctant warrior," trying to rein in the administration's more aggressive hawks.
Woodward claims that Powell lashed out against the influence of Cheney, Rumsfeld and other neoconservatives in the administration, calling them a "Gestapo office" that had seized control of the government. But Woodward also shows how Powell played the loyal general, biting his tongue and eventually "buying in" with his speech to the United Nations that shared U.S. "intelligence" on Iraq's supposed weapons programs.
Too many people--including opponents of the war--continue to buy into the idea that Powell is the Bush administration's "dove." In reality, Powell was every bit as ready to go to war on Iraq. If he differed at all, it was over tactics.
Coming out as the postwar occupation of Iraq continues to go from bad to worse, Woodward's Plan of Attack is accelerating the crisis facing the Bush gang and its foreign policy agenda. "In late May of last year [after the fall of Baghdad], we neoconservatives were hailed as great visionaries," said Kenneth Weinstein of the neoconservative Hudson Institute. "Now we are embattled, both within the conservative movement and in the battle over postwar planning."
Bush and his administration figured that the massive firepower of the U.S. military would silence not only the Iraqi resistance, but also the questions here about their exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies. Now their arrogance--and even their palace scribe--have come back to haunt them.
Why John Kerry won't offer a real alternative
THE BUSH administration got the war on Iraq that they wanted. And the Iraqi people got the nightmare of a U.S. occupation.
One year after George W. Bush stood on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner that declared "Mission Accomplished," it is anything but. The "democracy" that Washington's war makers claimed they would bring to Iraq is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the U.S. government's iron-fisted rule is sparking anger and resistance among Iraqis.
"The moves on Falluja, which Marines besieged two weeks ago, and especially on Najaf, where anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muktada Sadr has taken refuge, are pushing many Iraqis to choose sides between the occupation force and other Iraqis," the Los Angeles Times reported. "Enduring religious animosities have been put aside as the more radical Sunnis and Shiites join to fight a new common enemy: the United States."
Bessam Jarrah, a surgeon who is working with the doctors who treat the wounded in Falluja, wonders how much has really changed. "In the first months of the occupation, we, the educated people, thought America would show us a humanitarian way, a political way, to solve problems," Jarrah said. "But this use of force means the efforts to find a political solution for Iraq has failed, and now America is using Saddam's approach to problems: brute force. America won the war on April 9 last year; they lost the war on April 9 this year. That is what Iraqis feel."
The Bush administration says that it won't waver from its deadline of June 30 for a "handover" of power in Iraq. But the transitional Iraqi government will be all but powerless. It won't be allowed to make its own laws, and it certainly won't interfere with U.S. military action. U.S. commanders will remain in control of all Iraqi army, police and security units.
Washington's overseer Paul Bremer will be replaced by an "ambassador" to Iraq--none other than John Negroponte, Bush's representative at the United Nations, who is notorious for his support of the death squads in Honduras during the 1980s.
Last week, the Bush administration announced that it was considering bringing back officials from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to serve in the new Iraqi government--after spending the better part of last year portraying them as criminals.
Add to this the recent revelations of former chief White House adviser on counter-terrorism Richard Clarke and Bob Woodward's tell-all book on the drive to war against Iraq, and you'd think that Bush's goose would be cooked for the November election. It seems like a perfect time for the Democrat contender to stand out.
But not John Kerry. In fact, it's become harder to see the difference between Kerry and Bush.
In mid-March, Kerry vowed to "do whatever it takes to ensure that the 21st century American military is the strongest in the world. I will not hesitate to use force when it is needed to wage and win the war on terror." In February, he said, "We can't wipe out terrorist cells in places like Sweden, Canada, Spain, the Philippines or Italy just by dropping in Green Berets."
Kerry's solution to the crisis in Iraq is, in some ways, worse than Bush's. He wants more U.S. soldiers sent to Iraq than Bush, and he originally denounced Bush's June 30 deadline as "a cut-and-run strategy," although he took it back later. In other words, Kerry wants a longer occupation.
As right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer pointed out, "Many liberals and left-wingers will find it hard to support a Democratic candidate who, like Hubert Humphrey in 1968, advocates staying the course on a war they hate. Kerry's political problem is that he supports Bush's Iraq objective and differs only on the means...Unless he comes up with something better, Kerry will lose the war issue that was his for the taking."
A Kerry administration won't offer much different than the Bush administration--only different tactics and strategies to accomplish the same ends, if that.
But as a leader of the Democratic Party--the U.S. ruling establishment's loyal B-Team, especially on issues of foreign policy--this is Kerry's job. Rather than take a stand against Bush's brutal occupation, Kerry must prove that he will carry out the same imperial agenda as the Bush team--and at the center of that is the control over Iraq. Control over economic interests in Iraq--oil. And political control over what happens next--which will make or break the U.S. government's ability to dictate its will in the Middle East. This has even some neoconservatives, like William Kristol of the Weekly Standard, singing the praises of Kerry's foreign policy stands.
Neither Bush nor Kerry have a solution for the crisis in Iraq that will benefit the people who live there. They won't leave until they've gotten what they came for--oil and empire.
Unless they're forced out. And the only force that can do that is the Iraqi people, who are rebelling against the occupation.
"Whenever the Americans increase their attacks on these areas, the people there become stronger and more willing to fight," Sadoun Dulame, director of the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies, told the Washington Post.
Our job in the U.S. is to support the efforts of Iraqis to liberate themselves from occupation.
Part of that job means exposing the myths about why the U.S. can't leave until the people of Iraq are "liberated." Liberated from their oil? Liberated from their right to choose their own leaders? If the U.S. had wanted to help Iraqis oust Saddam Hussein, it could have lifted the economic sanctions that starved the population for more than a decade. And today, how about showering Iraq with money and supplies, not mercenaries and oil contractors?
The only solution is to demand U.S. troops out now. Let the Iraqi people decide.
The UN does Washington's bidding
SUPPORTERS OF John Kerry claim that he has set himself apart by his opposition to the Bush administration's "unilateral" drive to war. Kerry supports a United Nations (UN)-led reconstruction in Iraq and would like to invite NATO countries--under the supervision of the U.S.--to help out with policing the occupation.
But the Bush administration has no problem with these proposals either. After all, it was the Bush administration that got the UN's overwhelming support for the occupation in May 2003, giving legitimacy to a war that the Security Council had refused to endorse only a few months earlier.
Both Bush and Kerry are hoping that UN Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi will save the occupation of Iraq. ''Brahimi is one of the most skilled and capable people with respect to Iraq and the Middle East," claims Kerry. "He can talk to all the parties.''
If that's so, then why is that Brahimi isn't allowed to leave the heavily guarded "green zone"--the U.S. fortress in central Baghdad--even with a team of bodyguards? Iraqi leaders with grassroots support naturally refuse to meet with Brahimi inside the U.S. encampment. But Brahimi likely feels at home there. His plan for Iraq includes the dissolution of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and appointment of an interim government--but only in consultation with the U.S.
And after this supposed transfer of power, Washington says it will still keep 120,000 troops in Iraq and maintain control of the country's oil revenues. In other words, the UN will do the U.S. government's bidding--once again.