Our cities have turned into jungles / And corruption is stranglin' the land / The police force is watching the people / And the people just can't understand / We don't know how to mind our own business / 'Cause the whole world's got to be just like us / Now we are fighting a war over there / No matter who's the winner /We can't pay the cost / 'Cause there's a monster on the loose / It's got our heads into a noose ...
-- Steppenwolf, Monster, 1969
Let's talk about the end of the world. A year from now, one of two things is likely to have happened.
If you believe the chickenhawk neocons, such as the Pentagon's maximum insider-adviser, Richard Perle, we'll have dropped a relative handful of troops, 40,000 or so, into the middle of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein will quickly be toppled. His weapons of mass destruction will be found and neutralized. (You must, of course, believe he has such an arsenal and delivery capability, since any proof is as vaporish and ephemeral as the claims that he's in league with al-Qaeda.)
Our forces will move out into the country, and the Iraqi people will wave little American flags as they welcome the GIs in scenes reminiscent of the WWII liberation of Paris. Other despotic Arab leaders will rejoice at Hussein's demise, and will be so smitten by the beneficence of pax Americana that they'll renounce their evil ways and embrace democracy.
That's called the "inside-out attack."
It's pretty much what is portrayed on the major media. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for example, gushed the underlying (and lying) philosophy in its Sept. 5 jingoistic, cowboys-and-Indians Page 1 banner headline, "Ready to roll on Iraq."
It's not likely citizens will easily find much alternative opinion. CNN International Executive Vice President Rena Golden admitted Aug. 15 that the network self-censors news the Bushies wouldn't like because of "a reluctance to criticize anything in a war that was obviously supported by the vast majority of the people."
Not to be argumentative, but polls show support for war is rapidly evaporating. The only way the increasingly uneasy masses tilt toward war is if we have strong international backing, which we don't, and if the Bush war machine can guarantee few American boys will come home in bags, which the government can't do.
More important -- a fact that escapes the doltish CNN exec -- is that in a democracy, the people must be fully informed, not propagandized, in order to make decisions.
Still, Americans aren't much given to deep studying, and the popular sound bite-driven view is that a war with Iraq will be far less exciting than the weekly "WWF Smackdown." There won't even be the pretense of a fight; we'll just whup Hussein's ass.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, is in a final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
-- Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953
Here's the other vision of what might happen during the onrushing next 12 months -- a potentiality you aren't likely to find much explored in American media that zealously avoid unpleasant truths.
Earlier this year, Israel's foremost military historian, Martin van Creveld, wrote in the London Telegraph that an American attack on Iraq would provide Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with an opportunity to achieve his long-lusted-for goal of executing the mass expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.
Citing a wealth of military specifics -- underscoring that this was not mere speculation -- van Creveld bluntly called the process "ethnic cleansing" and projected: "Borders would be closed, a news blackout imposed, and all foreign journalists rounded up and confined. ...
"The expulsion of the Palestinians would require only a few brigades. They would not drag people out of their houses but use heavy artillery to drive them out."
Keep in mind that Perle and many of his confederates in the Bush administration are closely tied to the Israel right-wing through a variety of hawkish think tanks. They endorse this scenario and they know what's on Sharon's mind as they plot the invasion of Iraq.
It's a double whammy if there ever was one.
"It should be obvious that Sharon is going to do whatever he wants, and we're not going to do anything to stop him," says Emory University political science professor Dan Reiter.
The hawks also comprehend what they're not telling America: The assault on Iraq isn't the last chapter -- but only one of the first -- in a planned war that will never end. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has in megalomaniacal and downright loopy eruptions expressed the desire to prevent the advent of any power that could rival American's imperium. As regional powers arise that challenge U.S. hegemony, Wolfowitz's strategy is that we stomp them down.
On any given day, we already have troops in about 140 nations. We are Rome, and it doesn't matter that, as it stands now, we only have one solid ally, Israel, and one increasingly under-fire cheerleader, Britain's Tony Blair.
The War Party -- whether the Rumsfeld/ Perle/Wolfowitz American branch or Sharon's radical Likudists -- sees its brute force obliterating any response to our Iraqi invasion and the Israeli final crushing of the Palestinians. If any Arab nation militarily responds, we'll simply vaporize them. If Hussein employs weapons of mass destruction, he'll be nuked in a heartbeat.
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
-- John F. Kennedy, 1961
The bully boys -- who, from Dubya to Dick Cheney to Perle to most of the wardrum-beating congressmen and senators, have never seen active military service -- anxiously anticipate having a fine old time with all of those billions of dollars worth of lethal toys.
But the scenario could have a scarier ending.
As we level Baghdad, the Arab and Muslim world becomes outraged at this new crusade, oh so much a reminder of what transpired a millennium ago.
Regimes seen as American flunkies fall in Cairo, Riyadh, Amman, and among the emirates. The most radical Islamists seize power. We've been preaching long enough that their culture (not just a few criminal madmen) are the enemy, and they finally decide to believe us, launching a true holy war against the West.
Meanwhile, Hussein proves not so easy to depose, and we're caught in the mother of all bloodbaths, fighting house to house, bombing and killing civilians in the densely populated Iraqi capital.
"We'll see weapons of mass destruction used against U.S. troops," Emory's Reiter predicts. "The fight for Baghdad becomes a Mesopotamian Stalingrad. We'd win, but a lot of U.S. troops would die, and Baghdad would be destroyed."
The entire region ignites. Oil fields are bombed, vast populations are slaughtered, Israel is attacked and, in retaliation, unleashes its huge nuclear/chemical/biological arsenal. The turmoil washes over Europe, creating huge backlashes of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. India and Pakistan sprout radioactive clouds. China, knowing America is stretched thin, launches its own imperial war machine.
On and on and on, the world staggers toward the precipice.
The ultra-fanatic Christian fundamentalists among us, our own would-be Taliban, eagerly welcome all of this as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. They are among the most vigorous hawks (although it's a little hard to find in the Bible where Christ commands his followers to smite the daylights out of non-believers). They're also among the most vocal supporters of Israel's ultra-right leaders. There's high irony in that -- the essentially anti-Semitic Armageddonites snicker that the Jews will be confronted at The End with either trading Judaism for Jesus or being damned to the fiery pits. The pragmatic Likudists embrace the Christian rubes, as long as it helps keep the fundamentalist-occupied U.S. government in line and American dollars and weapons flowing.
Who knows, maybe they're right in at least one respect. If not the end of all of the world, then the result could be the end of a great deal of the world. Ka-boom and it's been good knowing you.
I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be good ... and it would spread a lively terror. ...
-- Winston Churchill, on gassing the Iraqis after World War I had ended
As for the Arab world, they fully understand the looming catastrophe inherent in American adventurism. For centuries, the Arabs have been pawns in the European and American games of colonialism. The revival of Western designs on Arab lands -- which, in truth, has never waned -- strikes tremendous fear among the region's leaders.
"Listen to the dictators in the Arab world," says Samir Moukaddam, Atlanta's head of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. "They're scared shitless. If America attacks, nothing is guaranteed. People in the Arab world are boiling."
The key, of course, is oil. But it isn't as simple as the Bush junta grabbing choice assets for a few favored companies (although that is certainly part of the plan, and Bush's pals will make billions off the war, and even more by the planned domination of Iraq's oil reserves).
"The United States seeks nothing less than the establishment of complete control of all significant sources of oil, especially in the Middle East," says Rahul Mahajan, author of The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism and a national leader of the Green Party. Decrying the "systematic attempts of the U.S. to keep Middle Eastern countries from developing independent economies," Mahajan says the American goal is "large-scale re-colonization, through war, covert action and economic coercion."
It goes without saying that none of Bush 43's warlords have asked the Arabs if they'd like that.
Somehow we find it hard to sell our values, namely that the rich should plunder the poor.
-- John Foster Dulles, former Secretary of State
There's no dispute that most of the Arab world is under the thumbs of dictators. That generally doesn't bother us. Actually, what's pretty clear is that whenever a popular nationalist movement has emerged in the Arab world (or in Latin America or just about anywhere else), our military and CIA have sought to undermine it in favor of compliant if bloodthirsty vassals.
Saddam Hussein, for example, was much loved by America -- we gave him his weapons of mass destruction to use against Iran and his own citizens. It's just that now, even if Hussein suddenly became a jolly good fellow, he wouldn't do oil business with us, but would probably partner with the Russians or French.
It's not too hard to understand why one of our favorite brutes has left our fold. Even a dictator has to play to his people. Our sanctions have killed a half-million Iraqi children (UNESCO estimates) and we have generally devastated Iraq's infrastructure and economy for more than decade, causing unimaginable misery and death.
Thus, the Iraqis undoubtedly hate us more -- we kill their kids -- than they do Hussein, who -- mostly -- murders his political enemies.
Our intent is not and never has been to bring democracy to Iraq. The five Iraqi generals the Bushies have in mind to replace Hussein are all as thuggish as the current despot; indeed, they all have used chemical warfare weapons on the Iranians or Kurds. The only difference is that unlike Hussein, they'll be more amenable to selling us their oil.
Of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. ... All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
-- Hermann Goering, at the Nuremburg trials
John Ashcroft couldn't have said it better. If there appears to be a similarity in mindset between Goering and Ashcroft, that's probably not an accident. In all respects, the Bush administration has been an exercise in deceit and propaganda, and its goal is to create a population that, without dissent, willingly subscribes to the most outrageous lies. Compared to the Bush fraternity, George Orwell's Big Brother was a lightweight with his modest doublethink slogans -- "War is peace," "Ignorance is strength," "Freedom is slavery."
What we have learned since 9-11 is that it wasn't Osama bin Laden who prompted the war in Afghanistan. Rather, as first disclosed by French journalists and is only now being gingerly picked up by the American press, both the Clinton and Bush administration had been involved in negotiations with the Taliban for an oil pipeline. When the bartering broke down in July 2001, we told Kabul they could have either a "carpet of gold" or a "carpet of bombs." The plans for the invasion were in place long before the terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the attack merely gave cover to our existing scheme.
Similarly, CBS News reported Sept. 4 that "barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq -- even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks."
And, none of the bellicosity has anything to do with fighting evil. These guys would hunker down with the devil himself if he contributed to the GOP war chest. Dick Cheney, while running Halliburton Co., was happy to do tens of millions of dollars in business with the Hussein regime in recent years, skirting U.S. laws by utilizing the firm's offshore subsidiaries. Even more juicy is a road the press is squeamish to travel -- Bush's family's fortune derives largely from dealing with Nazis.
So, why the war?
Bush is presenting us as the victims. Hussein may have weapons of mass destruction, and he may use them (that he has few systems to deploy them effectively them is just an irrelevant detail), or he may give them to terrorists. Hence, we launch a pre-emptive strike based on all of these mays.
There are problems with that spin, and I'm being polite. There's no proof of any of it. Hussein has shown no appetite for aggression in the last decade. Meanwhile, other nations such as North Korea, India and Pakistan show much more lust for developing and using weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, why should we be surprised that he's frantically seeking weapons of mass destruction -- as the Bush spin doctors were all chattering last weekend? Gee, haven't we been saying that we're getting ready to kill him and demolish all who stand in our way? What we've absolutely refused to do is engage in a process with other nations to force renewed inspections on Iraq -- understandable because we want war, not a peaceful solution.
Deterrence works. It succeeded with the Soviet Union, and it clearly has confined Hussein ever since the Gulf War.
More important, we have recently undermined the very international treaties that could have forced weapons inspections on Hussein. Add to that the overarching principle that it is utterly and totally illegal under international law, under the United Nations charter, under our own Constitution to embark on war as Bush plans.
A war would put Bush in a position to decree that the only patriotic option for Americans would be to give him a second term. It's the "wag the dog" scam. Killing foreigners, even civilians, is seen as a vote-getter. War also distracts Americans from the deteriorating economy and the financial scandals in which he and his closest associates are embroiled.
Keep in mind that Bush has created conditions for wars that can never come to an end. The "war on terrorism" has an ill-defined enemy and objective. That's not an accident. It's essential so that, like the "war on drugs," the government's power over citizens achieves immortality.
Moreover, the "war on terrorism" is based on the false premise that you can kill your way to victory when, if the Israeli example demonstrates anything, it's the opposite. Rather than addressing the root causes of terrorism -- injustice, poverty, brutal dictatorships that are bolstered by America -- we opt for a "solution" that guarantees the creation of more anti-Americanism and more hatred.
And if we win in Iraq, what then? We will go to war with another country because the hawks and their military-industrial complex need a war. We've decreed that those nations and peoples who aren't totally slavish to our policies are "against" us and we have the unilateral "right" to destroy them. It may be bad morality but it's good for business. What do you think the Carlyle Group is all about?
The disdain for the rest of the world is sure to create what the wonks call blowback. We're going to pay one way or the other for arrogance. Wise men know this. Jimmy Carter wrote in the Washington Post last week about Bush's unilateralism:
"Peremptory rejections of nuclear arms agreements, the biological weapons convention, environmental protection, anti-torture proposals, and punishment of war criminals have sometimes been combined with economic threats against those who might disagree with us. These unilateral acts and assertions increasingly isolate the United States. ..."
When pushed, the War Party has come up with rationales that are humorous. Perle told the New York Times last month: "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism."
Aside from the fact that it's yet to be shown that Hussein has consorted with terrorists in any culpable way, and that to attack Iraq dramatically ups the likelihood of terrorist retaliation, Perle's logic boils down to little boys throwing dares at each other.
The America Bush envisions is that of a subject nation. The loathsome PATRIOT Act was rushed through a Congress-with-blinders-on days after 9-11. It had been on the drawing boards long before the terrorist attacks. The law, along with other assaults on liberty by Bush and Ashcroft, gut the very constitutional protections that make us a unique and free nation.
The Bush America is one where what you read at the library is subject to government snooping. It's a nation that allows widespread wiretaps and other surveillance without judicial supervision. It's a nation that embraces racial profiling. It's an America that would allow unseen authorities to order indefinite jailing -- disappearances -- with absolutely no evidence of wrong doing. Ultimately it's an empire where executions are ordered and administered by secret tribunals behind impenetrable walls.
In other words, it's a country that far more resembles the fascist and Stalinist totalitarian states than the land of the free.
Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on Earth.
-- Eugene V. Debs, American patriot and Socialist Party presidential candidate, 1918
There's an illusion, fostered by the media, that, as the sad AJC headlined, we're going to roll no matter what. You are being told not to question, not to doubt. Yet, history teaches there is every reason to question and to be skeptical.
To justify the escalation of the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson conned America with the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.
In the early 1960s, America's top military and intelligence brass conceived of Operation Northwoods as a guise to invade Cuba. Investigative author James Bamford wrote in his recently released Body of Secrets that the plan "called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they didn't commit; planes would be hijacked." Ultimately, although endorsed by every member of the Joint Chiefs, the atrocities were halted by a reluctant civilian leadership in the government.
It's unlikely that such criminality would pose ethical problems to the Bush administration (which has resurrected many criminals from the Reagan and Poppy Bush regimes).
Part of the propaganda is that the people are powerless and that the government is a benevolent and omnipotent protector. Don't buy it. Bush is dividing the nation -- playing right into Osama's game plan of undermining America.
There is reason for optimism. Unlike Vietnam, Bush has found scant support among the people he needs the most: seasoned military leaders. Dissenting with the War Party are Brent Scowcroft (Bush 41's national security adviser), Lawrence Eagleburger (former secretary of state), and a regiment of former generals led by Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni, James L. Jones and Joseph Hoar.
As with Vietnam, eventually enough Americans will understand the truth. You can make a difference. For a start: www.pax.protest.net/Peace/
All we are saying is, give peace a chance.
-- John Lennon, 1969
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