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[casi] Whose War? 3

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  Beating the War Drums

  When the Cold War ended, these neoconservatives began casting about for a
new crusade to give meaning to their lives. On Sept. 11, their time came.
They seized on that horrific atrocity to steer America's rage into all-out
war to destroy their despised enemies, the Arab and Islamic "rogue states"
that have resisted U.S. hegemony and loathe Israel.

  The War Party's plan, however, had been in preparation far in advance of
9/11. And when President Bush, after defeating the Taliban, was looking for a
new front in the war on terror, they put their precooked meal in front of
him. Bush dug into it.

  Before introducing the script-writers of America's future wars,
consider the rapid and synchronized reaction of the neocons to what
happened after that fateful day.

  On Sept. 12, Americans were still in shock when Bill Bennett told CNN that
we were in "a struggle between good and evil," that the Congress must declare
war on "militant Islam," and that "overwhelming force" must be used. Bennett
cited Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and China as targets for attack.
Not, however, Afghanistan, the sanctuary of Osama's terrorists. How did
Bennett know which nations must be smashed before he had any idea who
attacked us?

  The Wall Street Journal immediately offered up a specific target list,
calling for U.S. air strikes on "terrorist camps in Syria, Sudan, Libya, and
Algeria, and perhaps even in parts of Egypt." Yet, not one of Bennett's six
countries, nor one of these five, had anything to do with 9/11.

  On Sept. 15, according to Bob Woodward's Bush at War, "Paul Wolfowitz put
forth military arguments to justify a U.S. attack on Iraq rather than
Afghanistan." Why Iraq? Because, Wolfowitz argued in the War Cabinet, while
"attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain … Iraq was a brittle oppressive
regime that might break easily. It was doable."

  On Sept. 20, forty neoconservatives sent an open letter to the White
House instructing President Bush on how the war on terror must be
conducted. Signed by Bennett, Podhoretz, Kirkpatrick, Perle, Kristol,
and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, the letter was an
ultimatum. To retain the signers' support, the president was told, he
must target Hezbollah for destruction, retaliate against Syria and Iran if
they refuse to sever ties to Hezbollah, and overthrow Saddam. Any failure to
attack Iraq, the signers warned Bush, "will constitute an early and perhaps
decisive surrender in the war on international

  Here was a cabal of intellectuals telling the Commander-in-Chief, nine days
after an attack on America, that if he did not follow their war plans, he
would be charged with surrendering to terror. Yet, Hezbollah had nothing to
do with 9/11. What had Hezbollah done? Hezbollah had humiliated Israel by
driving its army out of Lebanon.

  President Bush had been warned. He was to exploit the attack of 9/11 to
launch a series of wars on Arab regimes, none of which had attacked us. All,
however, were enemies of Israel. "Bibi" Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister
of Israel, like some latter-day Citizen Genet, was ubiquitous on American
television, calling for us to crush the "Empire of Terror." The "Empire," it
turns out, consisted of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, and "the Palestinian

  Nasty as some of these regimes and groups might be, what had they done to
the United States?

  The War Party seemed desperate to get a Middle East war going before
America had second thoughts. Tom Donnelly of the Project for the New
American Century (PNAC) called for an immediate invasion of Iraq. "Nor
need the attack await the deployment of half a million troops. … [T]he larger
challenge will be occupying Iraq after the fighting is over," he wrote.

  Donnelly was echoed by Jonah Goldberg of National Review: "The United
States needs to go to war with Iraq because it needs to go to war with
someone in the region and Iraq makes the most sense."

  Goldberg endorsed "the Ledeen Doctrine" of ex-Pentagon official Michael
Ledeen, which Goldberg described thus: "Every ten years or so, the United
States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against
the wall, just to show we mean business." (When the French ambassador in
London, at a dinner party, asked why we should risk World War III over some
"shitty little country"-meaning
Israel-Goldberg's magazine was not amused.)

  Ledeen, however, is less frivolous. In The War Against the Terror
Masters, he identifies the exact regimes America must destroy:

  First and foremost, we must bring down the terror regimes,
beginning with the Big Three: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. And then we have  to
come to grips with Saudi Arabia. … Once the tyrants in Iran,
Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have been brought down, we will remain
engaged. …We have to ensure the fulfillment of the democratic
revolution. … Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a
misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran,
Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change.
The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.

  Rejecting stability as "an unworthy American mission," Ledeen goes on to
define America's authentic "historic mission":

Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society
and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to
science,literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics
and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and
creativity which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be)
and shames them for their inability to keep pace. … [W]e must destroy
them to advance our historic mission.

  Passages like this owe more to Leon Trotsky than to Robert Taft and
betray a Jacobin streak in neoconservatism that cannot be reconciled
with any concept of true conservatism.

  To the Weekly Standard, Ledeen's enemies list was too restrictive. We must
not only declare war on terror networks and states that harbor
terrorists, said the Standard, we should launch wars on "any group or
government inclined to support or sustain others like them in the

  Robert Kagan and William Kristol were giddy with excitement at the
prospect of Armageddon. The coming war "is going to spread and engulf a
number of countries. … It is going to resemble the clash of
civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid. … [I]t is possible that the
demise of some 'moderate' Arab regimes may be just round the

  Norman Podhoretz in Commentary even outdid Kristol's Standard,
rhapsodizing that we should embrace a war of civilizations, as it is
George W. Bush's mission "to fight World War IV-the war against militant
Islam." By his count, the regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown are
not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil (Iraq,
Iran, North Korea). At a minimum, the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon
and Libya, as well as '"friends" of America like the Saudi royal family and
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority. Bush must reject
the "timorous counsels" of the "incorrigibly cautious Colin Powell," wrote
Podhoretz, and "find the stomach to impose a new political culture on the
defeated" Islamic world. As the war against al-Qaeda required that we destroy
the Taliban, Podhoretz wrote,

     We may willy-nilly find ourselves forced … to topple five or six
or seven more tyrannies in the Islamic world (including that other
sponsor of terrorism, Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority). I
can even [imagine] the turmoil of this war leading to some new species
of an imperial mission for America, whose purpose would be to
oversee the emergence of successor governments in the region more
amenable to reform and modernization than the despotisms now in
place. … I can also envisage the establishment of some kind of American
protectorate over the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, as we more and more come to
wonder why 7,000 princes should go on being permitted to exert so much
leverage over us and everyone else.

  Podhoretz credits Eliot Cohen with the phrase "World War IV." Bush was
shortly thereafter seen carrying about a gift copy of Cohen's book that
celebrates civilian mastery of the military in times of war, as
exhibited by such leaders as Winston Churchill and David Ben Gurion.

  A list of the Middle East regimes that Podhoretz, Bennett, Ledeen,
Netanyahu, and the Wall Street Journal regard as targets for destruction thus
includes Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia,
Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and "militant Islam."

  Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds
nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive?
Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam?

  Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud.

  Indeed, Sharon has been everywhere the echo of his acolytes in America.

In February 2003, Sharon told a delegation of Congressmen that, after
Saddam's regime is destroyed, it is of "vital importance" that the
United States disarm Iran, Syria, and Libya.

  "We have a great interest in shaping the Middle East the day after" the war
on Iraq, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Conference of Major American
Jewish Organizations. After U.S. troops enter Baghdad, the United States must
generate "political, economic, diplomatic pressure" on Tehran, Mofaz
admonished the American Jews.

  Are the neoconservatives concerned about a war on Iraq bringing down
friendly Arab governments? Not at all. They would welcome it.

  "Mubarak is no great shakes," says Richard Perle of the President of
Egypt. "Surely we can do better than Mubarak." Asked about the
possibility that a war on Iraq-which he predicted would be a "cakewalk"-might
upend governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, former UN ambassador Ken Adelman
told Joshua Micah Marshall of Washington Monthly, "All the better if you ask

  On July 10, 2002, Perle invited a former aide to Lyndon LaRouche named
Laurent Murawiec to address the Defense Policy Board. In a briefing that
startled Henry Kissinger, Murawiec named Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil,
the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" of the United States.

  Washington should give Riyadh an ultimatum, he said. Either you Saudis
"prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including the Saudi
intelligence services," and end all propaganda against Israel, or we invade
your country, seize your oil fields, and occupy Mecca.

  In closing his PowerPoint presentation, Murawiec offered a "Grand
Strategy for the Middle East." "Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the
strategic pivot, Egypt the prize." Leaked reports of Murawiec's briefing did
not indicate if anyone raised the question of how the Islamic world might
respond to U.S. troops tramping around the grounds of the Great Mosque.

  What these neoconservatives seek is to conscript American blood to make the
world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and
American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it.

  Washington Times editor at large Arnaud de Borchgrave calls this the
"Bush-Sharon Doctrine." "Washington's 'Likudniks,'" he writes, "have
been in charge of U.S. policy in the Middle East since Bush was sworn
into office."

  The neocons seek American empire, and Sharonites seek hegemony over the
Middle East. The two agendas coincide precisely. And though neocons insist
that it was Sept. 11 that made the case for war on Iraq and militant Islam,
the origins of their war plans go back far before.


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