As Dick Cheney makes the media rounds attempting to justifying both the War on Iraq and torture, since Bush has virtually gone into hiding he has revealed to the world just who was running the show. He has also revealed its true goals.
Of course the Iraq and torture policies were closely tied together, and not simply because the first reason for doing torture was to try to get some captive to falsely “confess” that Saddam and bin Laden were working together. Cheney wanted the War on Iraq and he also wanted the use of torture to become institutionalized in the United States. But why Iraq? Well, we know that it was not because “Saddam had WMD and was prepared to unleash them within 45 minutes” (courtesy of the lap-dog Tony Blair). We also know that it was not because of any link between Saddam and bin Laden. None existed. If that supposed “meeting in Prague” really did happen, it is overwhelmingly likely that, given Saddam’s well-known hatred for bin Laden, his envoy responded to bin Laden’s messenger asking for aid in two words: “F__k off!”
It was not done to “bring Democracy to the Middle East” beginning with the country in the middle of it. No one has ever successfully established democracy at the barrel of a gun. Re-established, yes. Established, no. (Iraq, sharply riven along ethnic and geographic lines with continuing violence, can hardly be considered a democracy even though there is voting.) But there is a first time for everything. Suppose that the experiment were successful. Can you imagine Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, and etc. suddenly becoming true, Western-style democracies? So if it was none of the above, what was it?
Many of us on the left thought right from the start that it was about oil and bases. But as the war wore on it gradually became apparent that they weren’t it. At least they weren’t the primary reasons. Too much went wrong with the invasion from the beginning. Not nearly enough troops to bring order to the country. Allowing vandalism, from the national museum to the electric power system to the oil industry itself. Not having a comprehensive post-war reconstruction plan. (Remember? The State Department had prepared one. It was 2200 pages long. It was completely ignored by Rumsfeld et al who were running things there.) Bremer disbanding the Iraqi army. No notion about how to make peace between the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds.
Accidental? I don’t think so. I have thought for some time now that the true objective was to create an Orwellian Permanent War: some level of US troops always there and always engaged in combat at some level. Remember McCain talking about a “100 year presence?” Indeed that objective was well on its way to being achieved by the Georgites during the latter stages of the Bush Administration when, even with a Democratic Congress, cowed into submissiveness however, they continued to get war funding and their Scream Machine continued to called for some totally undefined “victory” that would take forever to achieve. Only when even the US-installed Shiite-lead government demanded a time-line for American withdrawal did Bush suddenly do a complete volte-face and agree to one. And now with his fear-mongering, Cheney is still trying oh-so-very hard to achieve what would be the same objective: to keep the US on a war-footing even after a future withdrawal from Iraq.
What about the Israeli Right, then? In the 1980s, the right-wing, former Irgun terrorist, Yitzhak Shamir, said words to the effect of “sure, we’ll have negotiations with the Palestinians. We’ll just make sure they go on forever. In the meantime, we just continue taking their land and putting up settlements.” In 1991, outside the Madrid Conference which lead to the Oslo Agreement which was supposed to have lead to a settlement of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu was heard by an American journalist to say “this cannot happen.” When in 1996 under the leadership of the former hawk Yitzhak Rabin it looked like a settlement was actually going to be achieved, he was conveniently assassinated by a far-right “religious” type.
When in the fall of 2000, it looked like Bill Clinton was going to be able to forge a peace agreement, Ariel Sharon arranged to march onto the holiest spot in the Islamic world outside of Mecca, the Temple Mount, surrounded by 800 troops conveniently provided by the Labour Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. When Sharon became Prime Minister the following year, and “peace talks” of sorts continued, somehow, every time it looked like there was going to be some sort of break-through even with the Neocons in charge in Washington as well as in Jerusalem, there was some sort of terrorist attack. Certain EU and UN staffers and even certain Israeli observers, including at least one MK, thought that there occurrence was somehow just too “coincidental.” False flag operations to avoid peace? Nah, impossible, right? Right.
In the meantime, theft of Palestinian land and settlement construction continues unabated, the Gaza outrage occurs (and who knows exactly who was responsible for those short-range rocket attacks which, when described by the US media made one think that they were volleys of Nazi V-2s or Soviet Katyushas), and then comes Netanyahu. “Peace? Of course. Just don’t take notice when we once again move the goal-posts. Not only are we not talking about a Palestinian state. We are talking about Palestinian Bantustans. We are talking about Jerusalem being all ours. And oh yes, not only do we want recognition of the State of Israel (already granted by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League but also, if one reads between the lines, by Hamas as part of a true two-state solution) we want recognition of Israel as a JEWISH state, thereby dis-enfranchising all of its non-Jewish citizens.”
A formula for peace? No. A formula for a continuation of the 60-year war, with no end in sight. Just like Cheney’s objective. So why do they want this state of affairs? The answer is a simple one that just stares us in the face. Because both in Israel and in the United States it is the only way that the Right can stay in power. In the US it has very quickly become obvious that the only card the GOP has to play is the fear card. Nothing else, not big deficits, not the threat of a national health insurance program that would both cover all Americans and bring down costs while improving quality, not the threat of an end of oil company domination and profiteering from the energy policy that has been in place ever since it was established by Reagan, not screaming “socialism,” is working for them. New ideas? Since it’s their ideas that got our nation into the fix it’s in, how could they possibly have new ones that could work?
So. Promote fear. Promote torture. Promote continuing “low level conflicts” in Afghanistan, advocate broadening the guerilla War on Iran that according to Seymour Hersh Cheney was (perhaps still is) already running directly. Hope that North Korea does something really crazy. Hope for (or possibly create?) the next 9/11. Then you’ve got your only possible road back to power.
As for the Israeli Right, Permanent War is the only way they can stay in power. With any kind of real peace do you think that the Israeli public would continue to advocate the continued slashing of the traditional Israeli social service economy and the continued flourishing of the Israel Defense Force and its ever-broadening military industrial base?
Cheney and Netanyahu. Both run by the US/Israeli Neocon clique, some of whose members we know of and, most likely, some of its most-powerful members we don’t. Brothers under the skin.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for Buzz Flash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); and a Contributor to The Planetary Movement.
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