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[casi] Symposium: A Guerrilla War in Iraq?

Symposium: A Guerrilla War in Iraq?

 August 4, 2003

Is a guerrilla war approaching in Iraq? If so, what political and
military strategy must the U.S. pursue? How can American victory in
Iraq best be achieved? To discuss these questions with Frontpage
Symposium today, we are joined by James Woolsey, director of the CIA
from 1993-95 and a former Navy undersecretary and arms-control
negotiator; Jacob Heilbrunn, editoral writer and staff member of the
Los Angeles Times, in Washington, DC; David Kaiser, the author of
Politics and War: European Conflict from Phillip II to Hitler,
Economic Diplomacy and the Origins of the Second World War and
American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam
War (Harvard University Press, 2000); and Stan Goff, the author of
Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti (Soft
Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book Full Spectrum Disorder
(Soft Skull Press, 2003). He's a retired Special Forces officer and
Vietnam veteran.

Interlocutor: Welcome to Frontpage Symposium gentlemen. Let me begin
with a few questions and each of you touch on what you think is most

Is there a coming guerrilla war in Iraq? If there is, who should
fight it? What are the best tactics the Americans can employ to
achieve victory? What is victory? How do the deaths of Saddam’s sons
figure in all of this?

Heilbrunn: If the Bush administration loses its nerve and if freedom-
loving Iraqis fail to establish a half-way viable government, then,
and only then, will a full-scale guerrilla war erupt. So far, it
hasn't. Certainly Saddam's loyalists have been probing for
weaknesses, and found them. But these desperadoes haven't reached the
level of coordinated ambush attacks that create large casualties. The
military seems to be readjusting its tactics and going on the
offensive. Right on. But as important as military considerations are
political ones: the administration needs to show that it isn't
planning a retreat before the 2004 election by disarming the
malcontents and coming up an economic reconstruction plan that's more
than window-dressing. Declaring victory, then watching mutely as Iraq
falls back into the hands of the bad guys? Don't go wobbly, Mr.

Kaiser: There is a guerrilla war in Iraq--an organized opposition,
well-armed, which is undertaking regular military actions designed to
make it impossible for the occupation force to remain in Iraq. At the
moment it seems to have relatively little difficulty living among the

What we have now, as in Vietnam, is a struggle of the occupation
forces and their Iraqi allies against the opposition to organize and
control the population. Neither side seems as well organized, at this
point, as the VC and the ARVN were in 1965, but anti-US forces seem
to have the edge over pro-US Iraqis at the moment. I do not think our
forces are large enough to control a country the size of California
with more than twenty million people; indeed, I wonder how many
Iraqis have yet to see an occupation soldier.

To win, we have to establish order and help create police and
intelligence networks that can control more and more of the people
and take away the base of the opposition. The opposition, on the
other hand, like the VC, will be trying to infiltrate the
institutions we create, and to terrorize Iraqis who cooperate with us
(this is already happening.) Our political asset is Iraqi fear and
hatred of the old regime; their asset is hatred of American
occupation. The role of the Shi'ite majority, obviously, will be
crucial, and some of its leaders are anti-American. In the end,
superior organization and mobilization will win.

Goff: The term "guerrilla war" is not precise enough to apply to the
situation in Iraq. Vo Nguyen Giap, the architect of the Vietnamese
victories over the French and Americans, said "If insurrection is an
art, its main content is to know how to give the struggle the form
appropriate to the situation." Emphasis has to be placed on the word
political. I discuss this at length in my upcoming book, "Full
Spectrum Disorder."

The United States military's sheer size and its overwhelming
technological superiority are paradoxically both its strength and its
most profound weakness. That weakness is exacerbated by the recurrent
failure of the US political establishment to appreciate the political
content of war. The last President to have really understood this
aspect of war was FDR, and he used that understanding to position the
US to fill in the voids left by the collapse of European colonialism -
 which marked the beginning of US global hegemony.

After the Korean War, the US expanded the standing military to an
unprecedented size and has maintained and expanded that huge and
hugely expensive armed force ever since. With this size comes a level
of complexity and coordination that bureaucratizes the military, and
even in the face of doctrine developed to the contrary, encourages a
military culture that stifles initiative and mistrusts lower and mid-
level leadership. On the battlefield this translates into a dramatic
reduction of tactical agility, which in turn translates into
compensation through technological prowess. Combine that with a dash
of plain old fashioned ethnocentric hubris, and the belief develops
that size and technological superiority are all that matters. They
still do not understand the central role of politics in war.

The political goal of any insurgency in Iraq at this point is to
prevent the consolidation of the occupation and to disrupt any
attempt to get the oil flowing again. Given the thinness of the
occupation force, its overwhelming cultural ignorance, and the sheer
geographic challenge of the country, this should prove to be a viable
goal. The central task of this kind of low-intensity war is
disruption, which is always the easiest thing for an insurgency to
accomplish. This also simplifies the political task of an insurgency,
and that is to delegitimize the occupation in the US to undercut
popular support for the war. The US must move to a war of positions,
as the resistance can rely on mobility. This means that a skilfully
led resistance can consistently retain the tactical initiative, which
continually erases the mystique of invincibility of the Americans and
energizes new resistance. At qualitatively different stages,
depending on how deeply the US neo-con political establishment want
to pursue their delusional course, the character of the resistance
will change. This is when the efficacy of the resistance will rise or
fall depending on its political coherence. The Vietnamese had a high
degree of political coherence. The Palestinians do not, yet.

I can't respond to 'who should fight' a guerrilla resistance because
I don't believe it should be fought. The occupation of Iraq needs to
end, and the sooner the better. The deaths of Saddam's sons have
buoyed the cheerleaders for the occupation, but this represents yet
another assault on the credibility of the administration, who have
been spinning the resistance as Baathist artifacts - scrupulously
avoiding the obvious, that the Iraqis, almost all the Iraqis, want
the US out. When the insurgency continues, as it will, and this
symbolic victory fails to produce the step-change in the strategic
situation, this story, like all the other fictions that have bathed
this whole war, will come apart like a two-dollar shirt.

Woolsey: A little patience, please. Over 80% of the armed attacks are
in the Sunni triangle and doubtless heavily involve the group that
knows it has a lot to lose in a new, democratic Iraq -- the largely
Tikriti officers of the Republican Guard, members of the Special
Security Organization, etc. Many of these believe they have little to
lose. Those guilty of crimes may have nothing to lose. Many of the
others probably believe rightly that their acceptance in a new Iraq
that is 60% Shi'ite, 20% Kurdish, and many of the rest non-Tikriti
Sunnis will be difficult at best.

The Kurdish areas are quiet (except where some Saddam loyalists have
fled, as with Qusay and Uday to Mosul), and the Shi'ite areas largely
are, with the exception of young Sadr, in the palm of Tehran's
mullahs, and his agitations. True, we haven't done a lot for
democracy over the years in the Middle East, except by supporting
Israel and Turkey, but this President seems to mean it when he says
we're headed that way with the Palestinians, Iraq, and Iran. It took
decades, two hot world wars, and one cold one to turn Europe away
from empires, fascism, nazism, and communism -- the Middle East may
be difficult too. Nobody promised us a rose garden.

Goff: The official story since the resistance started is that there
is no resistance. There are merely "Saddam loyalists." For a while,
Rumsfeld actually tried to claim the attacks were coming from people
released from prison. To admit there is a resistance with a popular
base is to give the lie to the last doddering pretext for the
invasion, that it was meant to liberate someone. The "liberated"
don't want us there.

Now CENTCOM and others have been buoyed by the great military victory
against two men and a boy, using a reinforced rifle company and about
a million dollars worth of TOW missiles, which by the way served to
enrage the entire local population. The fact is, as Robert Fisk
pointed out, once Saddam is out of the way - if that comes to pass -
the resistance will become more generalized, not less. Many anti-
Baathist Iraqis are laying back right now because they don't want to
run the Americans and Brits out if it means the Baathists could re-
emerge with enough military power to re-consolidate themselves

The American political and military establishments, meanwhile,
continue to suffer from the self-delusion that the capture or
assassination of one man will magically transform Iraqi society. What
they fail to remember is that thousands of Iraqis have been killed
and maimed by Americans, and the Americans were behind the lethal
sanctions that were wielded against the whole society for over a
decade. They have also failed to grasp the full implications of their
polarization of other Muslim and Arab states, the destabilization of
Pakistan, and the crisis that will emerge are sure as sunrise around
Kurdistan and Turkey. And the responses to the attacks in Iraq have
been heavy-handed and largely ineffective at anything except
accelerating recruitment for the resistance.

The only victories here will be Pyrrhic ones.

Kaiser: This is shaping up as a most interesting discussion, and I
hope it will be widely read. I will take issue with Prof. Heilbrunn
on a couple of points. It is now becoming clear, based on a captured
document or two, that the Iraqi leadership consciously abandoned
large-scale resistance to American troops in favor of the kind of
campaign that is going on now. I do not think that they will ever
seek to move to large-scale ambushes, much less large scale combat--
although they probably will try to figure out some way to detonate a
few hundred tons of explosives within range of a substantial body of
American troops. I suspect they will simply continue, and try to
increase, their assaults on individual American soldiers and planting
of mines. This is the consequence of our technological military
revolution which Stan Goff discusses: fewer and fewer people will be
dumb enough to take us on head to head. As in Vietnam, it's
discouraging that our forces aren't getting more intelligence about
mines. (They may be getting some, but we're setting off at least one
a day.)

Secondly, our problem is not simply identifying a few malcontents and
arresting them, nor is it economic reconstruction, which we are in no
position to even begin. Our problem is establishing something we take
totally for granted: a society in which people obey basic rules, from
a mixture of coercion and consensus. We certainly aren't in as bad
shape as the British in the American colonies in 1776: they faced a
well-organized society whose institutions were in hostile hands. But
on the other hand, Iraq is a lot less organized than South Vietnam
was even at its worst moment. Our task is immense.

How big is the military problem? In my book on the early stages of
the Vietnam War I used our own data on the number of VC attacks to
chart the course of the insurgency. That information, today, is
critical to understanding what we face, and the Pentagon is
withholding it; attacks are not reported if they don't kill or wound
American soldiers. A recent report referred to a dozen attacks a day.
We all need to know exactly how many attacks there are, and whether
they are increasing or decreasing. This is, I believe, an indirect
indicator of the size and organization of the manpower on which the
Iraqis have to draw.

Stan Goff made an excellent point about political cohesion. I think
most successful insurgencies have been Marxist-Leninist for one
simple reason: Communists understand that revolution isn't just about
killing people, it requires a lot of thought, boring organizational
work, and, above all, political control of military action. This is,
I agree, what the Palestinians have lacked. I don't know whether the
Iraqi resistance has those things, but so far, they are using very
targeted violence, not indiscriminate violence, and they have not
undertaken anything beyond their means.

Heilbrunn: David Kaiser is an excellent historian which is why I'm
most disappointed that he would liken Iraq to Vietnam. The two have
little in common. Vietnam was closer to a civil war with outside
powers supporting the Viet Cong. The U.S. faces a tenacious local
opposition in Iraq that most of the population does not support. But
follow the prescriptions of Goff and the U.S. certainly will end up
with another Vietnam-like defeat. I can think of nothing more
feckless than to encourage the U.S. to sell-out freedom in Iraq by
decamping at the first spot of trouble. This is the sort of cynicism
that gives realism a bad name. The idea that the deaths of Uday and
Qusay are a matter of no importance flies in the face of numerous
press reports about Iraqi joy at their demise. Sure, Iraqis want the
U.S. to leave. Who doesn't? But having invaded Iraq on what now
appears to be rather flimsy evidence, the U.S. has a moral obligation
not to permit Saddam's mini-me's to come to power and to rebuild the
country economically.

Kaiser: In comparing Iraq to Vietnam--or to Ireland in the early
1920s, or to the West Bank--I am simply suggesting that certain
questions are relevant to all these situations, even though answers
may vary. Jacob Heilbrunn confidently believes that very few Iraqis
support the opposition. I am not sure. The newly free Iraqi press
( prints summaries) doesn't show much pro-occupation
sentiment. But in any case, wars like this aren't decided by public
opinion polls. The issue is who is going to be able to CONTROL the
Iraqi population--a police force trained by the US, or a number of
militias who do, indeed, agree that they want the occupation to end?
I do think we need a fall-back position--to turn the situation over
to the UN--in the event that our position does, in fact, become too
difficult. But it will take a while to find out where we are.

Goff: There is a disingenuous refusal afoot here to question the
premises of the invasion, and with it a tacit acceptance that its
purpose was to somehow transplant an American-style constitutional
republic in Iraq. That not only has never been the intent, it is not
possible. The trajectory of economic, political, and cultural
development in Iraq is not that of the US. What is going on, and the
intent of the invasion, is colonial occupation. The goal is to
establish a Quisling government that bends to the US geopolitical and
economic diktat, allowing US control over swing production of
exported energy among other things. And while there are certainly
dramatic differences between Vietnam and Iraq, there is one key
similarity. The main force underwriting the resistance and the
popular support for it - which will grow - is the desire for national
sovereignty and self determination. And I never said the killing of
Saddam's sons and grandson was irrelevant. In fact, the elimination
of senior Ba'athists may broaden the resistance. Many anti-Ba'ath
sectors, from a purely pragmatic point of view, would like to see the
Americans finish the job of decapitating the Ba'ath Party before they
begin the task of expelling the occupiers.

Heilbrunn: Who says there's no resistance? This administration story-
line was always as feeble as Saddam's defense of Baghdad, and has
been abandoned. But the notion, floated again by Prof. Kaiser, that
Saddam deliberately withdrew without a fight to save his resources is
ingenious, but too clever by half. Saddam isn't that cunning. I think
he's on the run, may never be captured, but the resistance has yet to
demonstrate that it's capable of launching more than pin-prick
attacks. It's a mistake to transmogrify the lethal, but small-scale,
attacks into a massive resistance cheered on by almost all Iraqis.

Once again: press reports suggest that the Iraqis are not thrilled by
the presence of Americans, but they're more peeved by the guerrilla
attacks that are injuring Iraqis as well as our troops. Kaiser's
comments on the difficulty of reconstructing Iraq are well-taken, but
given it's wealth and educated middle-class, I remain skeptical that
the task is going to be that tough if the administration stops
substituting rosy scenarios for reality.

Woolsey: Before Vietnam, in the early 60's, the Kennedy
Administration was spending 8% of GDP on Defense; in the Truman
Administration in the late 40's we were spending around 2% of GDP on
the Marshall Plan. That would be the equivalent, respectively, of
$800 billion and $200 billion in today's $10 trillion American
economy. We need to realize that the outcome of this war will drive
the direction of the Middle East for the foreseeable future and go
get the job done. The most important mistake that was made was
insufficient preparation with the Iraqi Resistance -- had the State
Department and CIA not resisted this (and the former failed to spend,
for years, the nearly-$100 million that Congress appropriated five
years ago for this purpose) we could have moved into Iraq with
thousands of accompanying Iraqis committed to regime change and
democratization. Instead we have had to do the equivalent of moving
into Apache country with almost no Apache scouts -- no matter how
brave they are, or even if they have a bit of Arabic, it's impossible
for guys from Oklahoma, like me, to tell the Badr Brigade people or
the Tikriti officers out of uniform from the rest of the population.
This is now in the process of getting set right, and it will be as
long as the Defense Department stays in charge.

Kaiser: To repeat, a captured Iraqi document from early this year
outlining the strategy that has been followed has been published.
Exactly who is behind the current attacks is, however, a very
difficult (and important) question.

James Woolsey could be correct that enough money will push Iraq into
modernization, but I'm not sure. While I agree with Jefferson that
eventually the principles of the Declaration of Independence will
prevail everywhere, the process is not a smooth one or an
irreversible one, and we may not live to see it happen in the Middle
East. I think we have to be prepared for that. Nor am I convinced
that Iraqis who have lived for decades outside Iraq can play the
critical role. A recent Washington Post piece didn't say much for DOD

Goff: No one has 'transmogrified' anything. When attacks against
Americans are successful, Iraqis are cheering, and this is the case
in Shia areas as well as Sunni. Soon enough, with the US again about
to sell out the Kurds, we'll see it in Iraqi Kurdistan. This is not a
phenomenon that can be adequately described using only military (and
only tactical, at that) terms and categories. And the situation is
not defined - no matter how hard we cling to the attempt to redefine
it so - solely by whether or not Iraq will be 'reconstructed'.

There is a political and an international dimension to this that is
being discounted by doing so, and it will be ignored at the peril of
this administration and by apologetic commentators. The question of
percentages of GDP constituted by the so-called defense budget is
emblematic of this intentional and demagogic myopia. During the
Truman and the Kennedy administrations, there was a fundamentally
different global economy, so these superficial comparisons are
meaningless except as apologetics.

The US was still locked into the Bretton Woods monetary-financial
system, with a gold standard and fixed currency exchange rates, that
would be later abandoned by the Nixon administration, inaugurating a
system wherein the US can run up an unlimited international debt then
print money at will, forcing other countries to finance, in effect,
our outrageous current accounts deficit, and thereby pay for US
military expansion. Many people think the US population will buck at
the US military debt, but the reality is, other nations are paying
it, and they are working hard behind the scenes to undermine the US
wherever they can without destroying their own economies for which
the US dollar still constitutes their currency reserves. So we can
stop shooting from the hip with these meaningless numbers.

Woolsey: Clearly Mr. Goff is as badly stung by the notion that the
American people have again and again demonstrated their capacity for
sacrifice as he is by the notion that their armed forces are being
greeted as liberators in much of Iraq. So far, other than Mr. Sadr's
Iranian-mullah-backed shenanigans, things are going reasonably well
in the Shi'ite areas, which is reasonable, given the oppression they
have been subjected to in the past. It is these areas that will be
crucial and, Mr. Sadr aside, we are making progress there.

Mr. Goff also seems to think it that for some reason the sacrifices
of previous generations (being willing to spend 2% of GDP for the
Marshall Plan annually in the late 40's, 8% of GDP for Defense in the
early 60's, and for that matter, 37% of GDP for Defense in WWII) are
to be discounted as examples of what the country is capable of. But
the sacrifices I cite were mde before the end of fixed rates - it was
harder then to run up the debt based on current account deficit. That
made these generations' sacrifice all the greater. Mr. Goff is
reasoning backwards: he doesn't want to fight in this war that has
been launched at us, so he wants to discredit historical examples of
the American people's being willing to sacrifice by allocating much
larger shares of their GDP to such national security purposes than we
are doing today. This leads him to reach into a kit bag of arguments
and sling whatever he chances to grab -- even if it's an argument
that proves the opposite of his point. Odd.

Heilbrunn: So the U.S. is beggaring the rest of the world, is it?
More nonsense from Goff. Europe and Asia, for one, are desperately
waiting for the U.S. economy to lift them out of the doldrums. No one
is holding a gun to the heads of our allies and competitors to
finance the U.S. deficit--for a variety of reasons, including the
perceived stability of U.S. economy, they choose to invest here.
Continued low interest rates may change that. I'd be fascinated to
know who's "working behind the scenes" to destroy the U.S., but since
it's a secret, I suppose Goff will be unable to share it.

Kaiser is right--maybe several weeks ago. Sure, DOD planning was
bungled, or non-existent. But why can't we accept the fact that they
may have started to adapt? Saddam is now on the run, weapons dumps
being uncovered--the first steps to winning the war Bush prematurely
declared won.

Goff: Saddam is not now nor was he ever the central issue except in
the demonizing narratives in the run-up to war. Surely the Saudi
regime is at least as autocratic, and the Israelis have violated UN
resolutions with near impunity. The fact is, Iraq will become more
dangerous in the absence of the Ba'athist leadership, because many
who are waiting to expel the so-called coalition want that same
coalition to rid them of their most formidable domestic opponent -
this is the realpolitik and not the dumbed-down official narrative
from the executive branch PR flaks that reads like a passion play.

The Marshall Plan was inaugurated as a strategic bulwark against
socialism, with the intent to reconstruct Japan and Germany as sub-
imperial metropoles. It was when their own economies - unencumbered
by the US's ever more weighty war budget - began to cut into US
profits that the Nixon administration abandoned Bretton Woods, and
the US used series of strategic devaluations of the dollar to wipe
out their debts to both of them and force them into greater
dependency on the dollar as reserve currency, as well as into the
arms of Wall Street's private financial institutions. When the Asian
Tigers began to show independence against the US diktat in the 90's
it was the US Treasury Department under Robert Reich that opened up
against them with hedge fund attacks on regional currencies which
nearly blew back in Wall Street's face. It is the US ability, based
on dollar seigniorage, that allows it and it alone to maintain an
overwhelming current accounts deficit with no repercussions to the
dollar, and that is only possible because the rest of the world has
been forced to loan the US money (via Treasury bills) which everyone
knows the US will never pay back. This situation is only possible
because of US control over the sea lanes in the Persian Gulf and
Indian Ocean.

This domination is not a gun to the heads of anyone. It is
structural. It is also unsustainable, and this is what has led the US
neocon clique to attempt a restructuring by dint of arms, seizing
direct control over swing energy production. That this rankles the
Russians, the Chinese, most of the Arab-Muslim world, and many of the
Europeans, not to mention the majority of the underdeveloped world
that has been plunged further into misery by the dollar-Wall Street
regime, is not secret at all.

As for the Iraqis, we are corresponding with a number of GIs in Iraq,
and none of them believe any Iraqis want them there.

Heilbrunn: Robert Reich in charge of the Treasury Department?! You
mean Robert Rubin, Mr. Goff. Let's keep your villains straight, shall

Interlocutor: Gentlemen, let us imagine that tonight President Bush
calls you and seeks your counsel. He tells you there is a possibility
that a guerrilla war may ensue in Iraq and he wants your advice on
the next several steps he should take. He then asks what you think
U.S. short-term and long-term objectives should be in Iraq and why.
What do you advise the President?

Kaiser: Our objective, in my opinion, should be to establish a stable
Iraq and to re-establish a consensus among the leading industrial
nations and moderate Arab nations. To do that, we should turn
responsibility for Iraq over to the United Nations and to a group of
regional powers and permanent members of the security council, and
continue to play a major, but not a directive, role. I agree with
Governor Dean that a simple decision to withdraw would be disastrous.

Woolsey: The guerrilla war, largely in the Sunni triangle and largely
against Ba'athists who weren't killed or captured in the very fast
and successful dash to Baghdad, is going well. The killing of Qusay
and Uday, the capture of 175 suspected Saddam loyalists yesterday,
are on the right vector. The main thing is to keep doing this,
continue to work closely with the Shi'ites to isolate Iranian agents
such as Sadr, and build on the successes in the Kurdish and Shi'ite
areas while taking down the rest of the Tikriti mafia. Get Iraqis
trained fast to take over guard duties and to work alongside our
forces to root out Ba'athists and Iranian tools such as Badr Brigade
members. The State Department's and CIA's stalling for years about
working with the Iraqi Resistance has left us behind on this, but it
is Iraqi forces you need, not French and German peacekeepers.
Politely stiff-arm the UN -- give them no control or they'll just
mess it up and delay everything the way they have in Kosovo.

Heilbrunn: Mr. President--The first word of advice is don't panic.
The second is don't listen to the intellectuals. Contrary to all the
fashionable gloom, the uprising, such as it is, in Iraq can be
crushed by ferreting out Saddam (likely to occur in the next couple
days), liquidating arms depots, and getting Iraqi oil flowing again.

Democracy, or the freedom for Iraqis to manage, or mismanage, their
lives, will only arrive once they see that the U.S. has extirpated
the Baathist threat--and is on the road to pulling out of Iraq
militarily, while increasing civilian assistance. Will the U.S. keep
a token force in Iraq for years? Absolutely. But nothing would
astonish the Arab world than to see that the U.S. is not an empire-
builder but empire-smasher of the mad dreams of Saddam and his ilk.

Goff: I would advise the President to do the following: fire Donald
Rumsfeld and appoint retired General Wayne Downing Secretary of
Defense. Announce to the world that the US plans for the re-
colonization of Iraq will be abandoned, and that the Pentagon has one
week to submit a plan for a rapidly phased withdrawal. Simultaneously
publish an executive order that all aid to Israel will be summarily
suspended pending their withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. Announce a
unilateral cease-fire that will hold so long as no further attacks
against American troops, which will be completely redeployed within
one month. Recognize an interim Iraqi governing council selected by
Iraqis without American interference, and offer to negotiate with
them subsequent to American redeployment for reparations in the form
of rebuilt infrastructure using a nationalized Halliburton/Kellogg,
Brown & Root, and a complete recognition of Iraq's sovereignty.
Conduct a simultaneous and immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Apologize to the world and the American people for lying to them.
Suspend the PATRIOT Act in its entirety, and begin processing all
detainees through civilian judicial structures with access to counsel
for all and full media access to proceedings. Push for drastic
intermediate Keynesian economic measures that restore full employment
to the US, with an emphasis on social infrastructure and
environmental clean-up. Forgive the debts of all developing nations,
and take Wall Street into federal receivership. Fire Dick Cheney and
Paul Wolfowitz. Submit yourself to prosecution for violations of the
Geneva and Hague Conventions and violations of the international Laws
of Warfare.

Kaiser: The neoconservative view, ably represented here by James
Woolsey and to a lesser extent by Jacob Heilbrunn, seems to boil down
to this: only a minority of bad guys stand in the way of American
policy around the world, and it's a simple matter to dispose of them,
whereupon we shall all live happily ever after, unless a variety of
wimps, centered in the State Department, manage to thwart the DOD. I
am no more convinced of that than I am that Sadr is an "Iranian
agent," or that Saddam's death will bring the opposition to a halt.
Instead, it seems to me quite possible that a majority of the best-
armed, most committed young Iraqis will oppose a lengthy American
occupation as, in their opinion, the worst outcome. I would also,
speaking purely for myself and unofficially, issue another warning.
Vietnam destroyed, literally, our draft-based military. Prolonged
occupation here could have a serious effect on our volunteer and
reserve military.

Since 1945, the momentum of American influence in the world has
generally been forward, ever forward, except when unpleasant reality
brought it to a temporary halt. This could happen here, too. Thanks
to all for the tone of this debate.

Interlocutor: Gentlemen, our time is up. Mr. Woolsey and Mr.
Heilbrunn, why don't you each make a final comment?

Woolsey: Thank you Jamie. Mr. Goff's last two contributions both
deserve answers. Regarding both his analysis of the problem and his
recommended solutions his guidance would be invaluable to the
President or indeed to any decision-maker. He is an excellent guide
because, like a wobbly weather-vane installed backwards, the
directions he gives range from the confusingly incoherent to the
exactly wrong. Thus no decision-maker could do better than adopting
none of his observations and doing nothing that he recommends --
indeed generally it would be soundest to believe and do the opposite.
It is difficult to find a single source that gives this degree of
consistent and reliable guidance.

I will limit these comments to Mr. Goff's statements that are
directly connected to Iraq -- Germans and Japanese, e.g., can fend
for themselves on the question whether they believe that the US has
reconstructed them to be "sub-imperial metropoles".

Let's start with Mr. Goff's analysis of the situation, springing from
his expressed views that "Saddam [was never] the central issue", that
Iraq is "more dangerous in the absence of the Ba'athist leadership",
and that the US has "seiz[ed] direct control over swing energy
production" due to our high current account trade deficit.

Not many people are today discounting Saddam's and his sycophantic
subordinates' centrality in the horror that was Ba'athist Iraq. Even
those who are convinced that no evidence of recent Iraqi WMD programs
or ties to terrorist groups will be found (subjects on which I would
suggest the jury is still out) would generally acknowledge the horror
of mass torture and murder in Ba'athist Iraq, and the potential gain
in liberty and human freedom in that country stemming from the
regime's having been deposed. Mr. Goff is in most singular company
when he asserts Saddam's lack of centrality and his preference for
Ba'athist rule compared with the hope, even seasoned by uncertainty,
of the current situation.

Regarding our "seizing direct control of swing energy production"
(one assumes he means oil, not energy generally) Mr. Goff might want
to check his map. He will note that we have seized (temporarily)
Iraq, not Saudi Arabia. Something over half of the world's four-plus
million barrels/day of swing oil production is in Saudi Arabia, and
essentially none is in Iraq. It will take years of investment to
bring Iraqi oil production to sufficient levels and Iraq's need for
oil revenue will be huge. Consequently it will certainly be some time
before the Iraqis will choose to put some small share of their oil
production into "swing" (i.e. reserve) capacity. In any case, the oil
will belong to them -- we have not permanently "seized" it, we will
have to buy it. This will add to, not subtract from, our trade

Mr. Goff's recommended courses of action do not disappoint -- they
are of the same bizarre character as his analysis. We should note in
passing that several of these recommendations -- firing the Vice
President, "suspend[ing]" an act of Congress, nationalizing American
companies, "tak[ing] Wall Street into federal receivership" are
blatantly unconstitutional. Presumably Mr. Goff either doesn't know
this or doesn't care. His central recommendations are for the US now
to withdraw "simultaneously" from Iraq and Afghanistan within one
month, thereby betraying the large numbers of citizens of those two
countries who have put their faith in our willingness to continue to
help keep them free them from any resurgence of the odious Ba'athist
and Taliban regimes that allied armed forces have successfully

A resurgent Taliban would almost certainly again give a sanctuary to
al Qaeda -- is this what Mr. Goff wants? A renewed base for 9/11-type
attacks? If Mr. Goff's recommendations were taken, the brave
reformers who are emerging into public life, the women who may now
show their faces in public, and the countless other Iraqis and
Afghans who have put their faith in the US, the UK, Australia and the
other allies would be condemned to, at best, horrible repression and,
more likely, the torture chamber and hideous deaths. Mr. Goff's
entire package of vitriol is like the thirteenth chime of a clock --
not only is it strange in and of itself, it should call into question
all that emanates from the same source.

Heilbrunn: Thank you Jamie. Goff is at it again. The Bush
administration's--and America's overall--record in foreign affairs is
hardly beyond criticism. But Goff's strictures almost sound like a
parody of the diatribes that Daniel Patrick Moynihan ridiculed during
his years at the United Nations in the mid-1970s. A recrudescence of
those sentiments is scarcely going to do the U.S. and Israel, let
alone the Arab nations, much good. Anyway, Bush and Blair may, or may
not, have been naive about the ease with which democracy could be
created in Iraq, but that doesn't rise to the level of the Hague

Redeploying American troops sounds nice, but the chances of Iraqi
saboteurs and snipers agreeing to a cease-fire is zilch. Such
thinking plays into the hands of the political types in the White
House who want to announce victory in Iraq before the election and
leave the country to its own, sorry fate. What Goff should have
criticized is that the administration isn't doing enough in places
like Afghanistan. The greatest danger isn't that the administration
will leave Iraq, but that it won't stay long enough.

Interlocutor: Stan Goff, Jacob Heilbrunn, David Kaiser and Jim
Woolsey, thank you for joining us. It was a pleasure. We'll see you
again soon.


Treason? Guests: Susan Estrich, Phil Brennan, Harvey Klehr and John
Earl Haynes.

Road Map to What? Guests: Binyamin Elon, Norman Spector and Stephen

The Future of U.S.-Saudi Relations. Guests: Daniel Pipes, Alex
Alexiev, Laurent Murawiec and Daniel Brumberg,

Bush’s Decision to Go to War. Was it Justified? Guests: Victor
Hanson, Cliff May, Stanley Aronowitz and Peter Kirstein.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a
Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet Studies. He is the co-
editor (with David Horowitz) of the new book The Hate America Left
and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union
(McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a
Good Leftist. Email him at

Mark Parkinson

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