three foreign policy mavens always mentioned in news stories
about Dubya's shadow Cabinet are: Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz,
and Dick Cheney. Ms. Rice, former Stanford University provost
and a low-level advisor to Dubya's father, is often cited
as the chief of this policy group, a future Secretary of State
but this is the story being told by the Bushies, and
it doesn't quite add up. Like everything else in the Bush
campaign, the foreign policy "team" assembled by
the candidate and his campaign staff has all the earmarks
of a classic Potemkin village a phony façade
put up to impress those who don't bother looking too closely.
Well, then, let's look a little more closely at the Bushies'
answer to Mad Madeleine.
IN THE FAMILY
started out as a music major at Stanford but almost flunked
out, whereupon she switched to Soviet studies. Rice became
interested in her specialty of Soviet studies as a student
of Joseph Korbel, the father of Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright. Now there is an interesting coincidence, one that
underscores the inbred nature of the foreign policy-making
elite: how different from Mad Madeleine will Secretary of
State Rice turn out to be? Two years from today will we be
calling her Crazy Condoleeza?
OF A MEDIOCRITY
found her niche, Ms. Rice was quickly taken in hand by the
Hoover Institution, a redoubt of the George Shultz/Bechtel
wing of the Republican foreign policy elite, where she rose
quickly through the ranks. As the sole person of color, and
a female to boot, in an administration devoted to "affirmative
access" (if not action), her visibility was high. But
there is nothing in Rice's resume to suggest that she
is the heavyweight the Bushies are describing. The apex of
her academic career was reached with the 1984 publication
of her magnum opus, The
Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983 : Uncertain
Allegiance, a dissertation no more indicative of her
capabilities as a future Secretary of State than her more
recent unimpressive contribution to an anthology on German
the first Bush administration Ms. Rice was the author of no
known policy initiatives, and in the interim her career as
provost at Stanford has not exactly catapulted her into the
international spotlight. So what gives? How can we explain
this strange gap between Rice's real achievements and the
grandiose future planned for her by Bush campaign operatives?
is probably unkind, and no doubt a hate crime, to call attention
not only to Ms. Rice's curious lack of qualifications but
also to her race to the likelihood that she is an affirmative
action "front." In the same way that many companies
nowadays get government contracts under affirmative action
rules, with a bunch of white guys getting blacks (or whomever)
to front for them, so it works the same way in politics, where
identity politics and "diversity" are the political
coin of the realm. The disparity between Rice's resume and
her projected status in Dubya's administration is otherwise
inexplicable. In an age where political correctness has even
infected the Republican Party, race is always a key factor,
not only in getting Ms. Rice where she is, but where
perhaps she is going.
WAR TO MINORITIES
great advantage of having an African American Secretary of
State, who would forevermore be known as the First Black Secretary
of State, is that it will help sell interventionism among
American blacks and other minorities of color. Polls show
that blacks are among the most skeptical when it comes to
overseas intervention, generally agreeing with the proposition
that we ought to take care of our problems right here at home.
A black Secretary of State would help an administration hard-pressed
to sell a war for oil in the far-off Transcaucus, or a Vietnam-style
intervention against Colombian "narco-terrorists."
Another big factor is motivating the troops, what with blacks
and other minorities now making up a majority of the military
if Ms. Rice is a front, then who or what is she fronting for?
Who or what is behind the Potemkin village façade of
George Dubya's foreign policy task force? The other two members
of the team, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Paul
Wolfowitz, make up the two major components of the Bushian
foreign policy coalition: Big Oil and the neoconservative/Weekly
Standard wing of the GOP. While the goals of the former
are relatively coherent, and well-known the desire
for profits is universal and easily understood the
obscure ideological motivations of that exotic sect known
as the neocons is not so easily or succinctly explained.
those interested in a detailed explanation, I refer you to
my 1993 book, Reclaiming
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement,
which traces in detail the evolution of this obscure sect
from far Left to the ostensible Right. Suffice to say here
that these Cold Warriors in search of a new enemy, have now
fixated on China, and Wolfowitz, Dean of the Paul Nitze School
of Advanced International Studies, Assistant Secretary of
State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President Reagan,
and undersecretary of Defense in the Bush administration,
is their ideological point man. If there is a war, anywhere
at any time, that Paul Wolfowitz has opposed: if there is
a single concession he ever endorsed, even one instance where
he speculated that any degree of mutual disarmament or easing
of tensions ought to take precedence over military action
and preparations for war, then it has gone unrecorded. His
emergence as the policy guru on George Dubya's team signals
the complete takeover of the Bush campaign by the War Party.
HATE CHINA LOBBY
specifically, Wolfowitz represents that wing of the War Party
that is focused on the alleged "threat" of China.
For Wolfowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, is convinced
that the locus of power is shifting definitively in the direction
of Asia. With the freeing up of the Chinese economy, and the
growth of Asian markets in general, sheer numbers, he avers,
will soon point to the possibility of Asian hegemony in the
world. He compares 21st century China to 19th century Germany,
and speculates that Chinese nationalism spurred on by national
resentment over past wrongs will spur Chinese belligerence.
He warns that those who ignore the Yellow Peril are in danger
of making the mistake of Neville Chamberlain whom "lamented
that his countrymen were preparing bomb shelters because of
'a quarrel among faraway peoples about whom we know nothing.'
Of course, that attitude of Chamberlain's led to a terrible
war that could have been prevented, a war that Winston Churchill
called 'The Unnecessary War.'"
CONFERENCE OF CONSERVATIVE ANGLOPHILES
these references to Great Britain, and particularly Wolfowitz's
World War II analogy, were meant as crowd-pleasers, for this
was said in a speech to the Atlanticist Initiative, the "conservative"
equivalent of the old "Union Now" movement of Clarence
Straits. Just as the Union Now organization used to push for
a formal merger of the US and Great Britain, so the new "Atlanticists"
are the chief spokesmen for the cohesion of American and British
foreign policy with the latter invariably taking the
lead and stiffening the spine of the often reluctant Uncle
Sam. The spirit of this conference of prominent American conservatives,
and their special relationship to the Mother Country, was
symbolized by the featured speaker, Lady Thatcher, that icon
of right-wing Anglophilia. It was, in short, a meeting of
the Anglophile Caucus of the War Party, convened to discuss
their relevance in the post-Cold War world. Wolfowitz's message
to them was simple and direct: the end of the Cold War does
not and cannot mean peace. War, war, and more war that
is the inevitable albeit tragic fate of the human race, and
we had better prepare for it.
THIRD WORLD WAR
an extraordinarily revealing attack on Francis Fukuyama, Wolfowitz
attacked the idea that we are in an era of peace, openly ridiculing
the thesis that we are at "the end of history,"
and comparing the present era to the prewar years of 1917
and the 1930s. War is not only probable, but also imminent,
and we must prepare. The role of the NATO alliance is key:
to make sure that Russia stays out of Central Asia. To underscore
the seriousness of the alleged threat from China, he even
raises the possibility of a Russo-American alliance against
Beijing. Of course, this is all discussed in the manner of
the value-free "scientist" examining the unfolding
of historical trends, but the policy implications are clear
and ominous enough.
a staunch member in good standing of the neocon foreign policy
brain trust, Wolfowitz was naturally a cheerleader in Clinton's
war against the Serbian people. He was early on associated
with the Balkan war lobby, notably the Balkan Institute and
the Balkan Action Council, both funded in large part by George
Soros. He signed two newspaper ads run by the neocons in the
New York Times: one full-pager calling for extended
and massive intervention early on [September 20, 1998], and
another criticizing the Clintonians for not doing enough to
"win" in Kosovo once they were involved. Among his
co-signers were the usual suspects, a motley collection of
Right-wing Social Democrats from the Lane Kirkland wing of
the War Party, to neoconservative Republicans such as William
Kristol and Jeanne Kirkpatrick. The ascension of Wolfowitz
to the top policy spot means that a policy vigorously opposed
by the majority of congressional Republicans and primary
voters is going to be embraced by the party's likely
nominee. This is how our nation's "bipartisan" foreign
policy of global interventionism has managed to stay in place
for half a century, without any significant challenge
the people never get to vote on it.
CHENEY AND THE SPIRIT OF MERCANTILISM
other member of the Bushian foreign policy triumvirate, Dick
Cheney, plays a different if by no means subordinate role.
As a former Secretary of Defense, now the president of the
Halliburton Company, the biggest provider of products and
services to the petroleum industry, Cheney represents the
alliance of Big Oil money and the military-industrial complex.
After presiding over the Defense Department, Cheney graduated
to the world of big business, where he became President of
Halliburton. Under Cheney's leadership, Halliburton has expanded
the range of services it offers and has spent about $1 billion
acquiring companies with different niche specialties. The
company bought Landmark Graphics Corp., in 1996, a company
that makes software for seismic evaluations of petroleum reservoirs.
Last year, it gobbled up Numar Corp.: their software enables
drillers to analyze subsurface rock formations in newly drilled
wells using magnetic resonance imaging. The recent acquisition
of the Dresser Company means that Halliburton has acquired
strong engineering capabilities and drilling systems to complement
its strength in energy sector construction and maintenance.
Reemerging onto the political stage, Cheney is playing a major
role in what may become the biggest and most profitable deal
of his private sector career the coming war for oil
in the troubled Transcaucasus.
his links to Texas oil barons, and his political connections,
Cheney is gearing up with the rest of the oil industry to
cash in on the Great Caspian Oil Bonanza. Cheney has been
in the forefront of the effort to repeal US legislation that
forbids foreign aid to undemocratic regimes such as the government
of Azerbaijan. That central Asian nation, ruled by a neo-Stalinist
dictator, is where a good deal of the oil is located; it is
also a key link in the oil companies' scheme to build a trans-Balkan/Transcaucasian
oil pipeline to bring its product to market in Western Europe.
Can anyone doubt that "a quarrel among faraway peoples
about whom we know nothing" in that tumultuous region
will suddenly involve "vital" US "national
interests"? As Russian troops fight Islamic rebels in
Dagestan, and the Armenians and Azeris call for the US and/or
NATO to intervene, the prospect of George Dubya in the White
House begins to take on a distinctly ominous aspect.
used to be, not so long ago, that the interface of corporate
interests and US foreign policy was far subtler. In these
decadents days of imperial excess, however, there is a pagan
shamelessness in the unseemly spectacle of revolving doors
between corporate and government institutions. A man like
Cheney, who segues so rapidly and easily from chief warmaker
to chief executive officer of a major international corporation,
is the perfect symbol of the Republican foreign policy establishment
in the age of George Dubya. If Wolfowitz is the chief theoretician
of this mercantilist dogma that equates untapped oil fields
with "the national interest," then Cheney is its
chief practitioner and among the most successful.
TO THE ROOT OF THE MATTER
oil companies envision a pipeline that will carry their product
across Eastern Europe to customers in the West and
the Albanian end of that trans-Balkan route is already being
taken care of. It was the Houston engineering firm of Brown
& Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, that won the contract
to build barracks not only in Bosnia, but also in Kosovo and
Albania; they were one of the biggest direct beneficiaries
of the war. As Wolfowitz was signing newspaper ads demanding
the introduction of US ground troops into Kosovo, Halliburton
was busy building and outfitting the Albanian staging areas.
neoconservative intellectuals, like Wolfowitz, expend millions
of words to prove and reprove the necessity of their policies,
of the inevitability of perpetual war for perpetual peace,
while second-and-third tier activists like William Kristol
proclaim the virtues of a "benevolent world hegemony."
But in the end it boils down to such vulgar matters as Halliburton's
profit margins and the price of oil. In an era in which wars
are fought in the name of vague and improbable ideals, such
as "human rights" and "multiculturalism,"
it is a safe bet to follow the money. It works almost