November 14, 2007
Rest assured that the subject matter of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 will be revisited in the near future, with some further comparisons, parallels and speculation. For the moment, allow me to return to the immediate tragedy at hand, viz., the quagmire of Iraq and its purported justification, the “war on terror”.
The American expatriate and Korean War veteran William Pfaff writes from Paris on world affairs. His observations have appeared in the International Herald Tribune for decades. His column of a few weeks ago—”The Impossibility of American Empire”—is well worth your time, because it is especially insightful. A tour d’horizon, “Impossibility of Empire” reaches back to the crucial year of 1898 and the Spanish-American war.
It was this dubious war, in the closing days of the Guilded Age, which terminated the far-flung Spanish empire, an empire made possible by Columbus’ discovery of America, some four hundred odd years previous. It is the Spanish-American war that launched Washington onto its present trajectory, thereby making possible America’s own empire, which is being policed today inside Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, among other places.
Of course, in between then and now came other notable events, e.g., Woodrow Wilson’s unnecessary intervention (1917) in the Great War to rescue John Bull from his own folly, and twenty years later, FDR’s mischief making behind the scenes with Winston Churchill, prior to Churchill becoming Prime Minister, the intent of which was to spark a second European conflagration. For Washington, both of these European bloodbaths were wars of choice, whose cumulative effects destroyed England as a world power. The British Empire was replaced with an upstart American imperium, now run amok. In the popular imagination, Wilson, Roosevelt and especially Churchill remain heroes. True to form, the popular imagination is in error.
The Unauthorized World Situation Report (2005) is a sort of primer which covers this ground in a non-comprehensive way. It points the reader in the right direction for scholarly research. In the chapter entitled “Crusade to Nowhere, Operation Desert Storm” I wrote “The winding road to quasi world empire began in America’s backyard, in Havana with the Spanish-American War of 1898. The upshot of that skirmish was that the United States expanded its horizon far beyond its Atlantic and Pacific shorelines, and expropriated Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In those palmy days, the United States was not subjected to a blockade by “the world community” in response to these annexations. Cuba became a protectorate, very much like what Saddam wanted to do with Kuwait.”
Pfaff has concluded in “Impossibility” that what Cheney & Bush are trying to do today in the greater Middle East is impossible. The stated objectives not only cannot be achieved, but pursuing them is self-defeating. No doubt this realization has already occurred to certain heavy-hitters in the American establishment. The Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton, immediately comes to mind. Senator Chuck Hagel is another island of sanity. As for the Democrats, with the exception of Senator Robert Byrd, they can be discounted almost entirely. They have played the role of opportunists. They have done little more than nitpick and enable. They are delighted to see Cheney and Bush take each other and the Republicans over a cliff. For the Democrats, Bush is gold.
Speaking of which, the joint Merkel-Bush press conference at the Texas ranch last weekend was an important barometer as to where we are headed. Watch or listen to it. Putting aside the enigmatic and dodgy German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a moment, Bush Jr. comes across as his usual petulant, fidgety and flippant self. That is just the way he is. He is running on instinct and unwritten imperatives, an imperial President who deals with whatever the Regent, Dick Cheney, puts on the agenda.
In point of fact, the effrontery and myopia of Bush Jr. are so extreme, that I am beginning to wonder if the “Israel Lobby” and “Big Oil”—as the presumed catalysts for “Operation Iraqi Freedom”—should now be discarded. Maybe it all comes down to the impossible state of mind of the dauphin, and little else. Consider this exchange at the press conference. It starts with what sounds like a planted question. From the official White House transcript:
“But, Mr. President, is it right to say that you have much more a multilateral approach towards the solutions of the problems of the world than you had maybe two years ago? And the question to both of you: How much patience do you have with Iran? When is the time when diplomacy doesn’t work anymore? And do you think that the Chinese and Russian government is doing enough in the Iran crisis?”
PRESIDENT BUSH: “I felt I was pretty multilateral the first four years of my administration. After all, I went to the United Nations on the Iraq issue and on the Afghanistan issue, and said, we got a problem; let’s work together to solve it. I would like to remind you that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was unanimously approved by 15 nations, and the declaration was, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. And in the case of—in that case, the tyrant didn’t disclose [sic] and so he faced serious consequences. I happen to be the kind of person that when somebody says something they better mean what they say…”
With all due respect, what kind of sophomoric flapdoodle is this? Saddam “the tyrant” Hussein did in fact comply with UNSC Resolution 1441. Saddam did disclose that Iraq possessed no WMD and pointed out that Iraq had already disarmed under the supervision of UN inspectors. Moreover, the Christian foreign minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz—still in held in an American jail at the Baghdad airport—and Iraq’s UN Ambassador, Mahommed Aldouri, did mean what they said in the run-up to the war, and what they said was the truth: Iraq possessed no WMD. For their trouble, Iraq and its people faced more serious consequences, on top of the murderous economic embargo imposed by Bush Sr. and Bubba Clinton. Iraq had to face the towering wrath, the “shock and awe” of G.W. Bush.
Here’s what Ambassador Aldouri stated at the UN on October 17th, 2002: “We have no intention of attacking anyone, now or in the future, with weapons of any kind. If we are attacked, we will surely defend ourselves with all means possible. But bear in mind that we have no nuclear or biological or chemical weapons, and we have no intention of acquiring them. We are not asking the people of the United States or any member of the United Nations to trust in our word, but to send the weapons inspectors to our country to look wherever they wish unconditionally.”
The UNSC did not vote to authorize an invasion of Iraq by George Bush Jr., Dick Cheney, and their British lapdog, Tony Blair. The UNSC did vote for more (pointless) inspections inside Iraq to locate nonexistent WMD, which weapons George Tenet and Colin Powell insisted were there, constituting a grave threat to the Western world. What a charade!
In summary, Bush Jr. took the time at his press conference with the German Chancellor to remind us of events which supposedly support his position on Iraq. The problem is, these circumstances categorically demolish Bush’s justification for invading Iraq. Doesn’t he realize that? If he does, he doesn’t care. When it comes to his policies, the dauphin is irrational. I believe that is a fair statement. And yet, Angela Merkel, like most EU leaders, acts as if everything were fine and dandy.
Perhaps it is this very “impossibility” of the American President which provides a clue as to why Washington invaded Iraq and why the President continues to persevere in the fiasco. It may explain his current fixation with Iran. The point is, there is no reason. That is, no rational reason. The United States could be in Iraq simply because a misguided bully has willed it. The U.S. might bomb Iran the day after tomorrow for the same reason. Unlike most of us, the dauphin is in a position to act on impulse and upon his obsessions, no matter how fantastic, and get away with it. He has no interest in anything outside his tunnel vision. As a side issue, an important one, this fact means that he can be taken advantage of and used.
I speculated in Situation Report, “The question remains, why? The United States is being led, lockstep and blind, by our own Emperor, POTUS 43, down a path into a wartime nightmare of seemingly unending, global proportions. Is Bush Jr. just mildly deluded, a dwarf Emperor, reading the script presented to him by his handlers, allowing himself to serve as the pliable tool of an entrenched establishment which he barely comprehends and over which he has little control?”
There is a possible explanation, based upon what happened to the dauphin in the first nine months of the Cheney Regency, the critical period prior to 9/11 when Cheney and Bush Jr. outsourced U.S. Mideast foreign policy—lock, stock and barrel—to Ariel Sharon. At the end of the nine months, came the horror of the 9/11 attacks. Those critical, first nine months need to be looked at carefully and reevaluated, with an eye to cause and effect. Not just with respect to the events themselves, but for the psychological repercussions upon G.W. Bush himself.