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[casi] Who wants a war?

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The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in 
prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What 
was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some 
catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The attacks of 11 September 2001 
provided the "new Pearl Harbor", described as "the opportunity of ages". The extremists who have 
since exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and 
"think-tanks" were established to avenge the American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was 
an added agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the cold war. The Project 
for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson 
Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those 
of the current Bush regime.

One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising 
Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used 
the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. 
We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first 
we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about 
it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to 
piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs 
about us years from now."

Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders 
include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy 
defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan's education 
secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists 
of American terrorism. The PNAC's seminal report, Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces 
and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it 
recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could "fight and win multiple, 
simultaneous major theatre wars". This has happened. It said the United States should develop 
"bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and make "star wars" a national priority. This is happening. It 
said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.

As for Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction", these were dismissed, in so many words, as a 
convenient excuse, which it is. "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate 
justification," it says, "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends 
the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." How has this grand strategy been implemented? A series 
of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long 
interviews with senior members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated.

On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld 
demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq 
should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was 
temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that "public 
opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as the 
softer option. If Jonathan Steele's estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in 
Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives.

Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In last April's New Yorker, the 
investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, 
told him she had called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them "to 
think about 'how do you capitalise on these opportunities'", which she compared with those of "1945 
to 1947": the start of the cold war. Since 11 September, America has established bases at the 
gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels, especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company 
is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas 
emissions, the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic 
missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states "if necessary". 
Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is 
developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and 
chemical warfare.

In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin describes a secret army set up by 
Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress 
outlawed. This "super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the "CIA and military 
covert action, information warfare, and deception". According to a classified document prepared for 
Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive 
Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks which would then require "counter-attack" 
by the United States on countries "harbouring the terrorists".

In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United States. This is reminiscent of 
Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney 
terrorist campaign - complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans - as 
justification for an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later. 
Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of in 1963 and with no global 
rival to invite caution. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly 
dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The thread running through their 
ruminations is the importance of the media: "the prioritised task of bringing on board journalists 
of repute to accept our position".

"Our position" is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have never known official lying to 
be more pervasive than today. We may laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack 
Straw's inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to "explain"). 
But the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be 
terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled as news. They are 
not news; they are black propaganda.

This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere ventriloquists' dummies. An attack on a 
nation of 22 million suffering people is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a subject 
at an academic seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around a map, as the old imperialists used to 

The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of modern imperial domination, but 
how "bad" Saddam Hussein is. There is no admission that their decision to join the war party 
further seals the fate of perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on America's 
international death row. Their doublethink will not work. You cannot support murderous piracy in 
the name of humanitarianism. Moreover, the extremes of American fundamentalism that we now face 
have been staring at us for too long for those of good heart and sense not to recognise them.

With thanks to Norm Dixon and Chris Floyd

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