April 4, 2003

Has it arrived?

As the propagandistic fervor on American television reaches a crescendo of triumphant self-righteousness, and our noble centurions gather at the gates of Baghdad, ready for the final assault, the battle-cry of the neocons is heard above the din: "On to Damascus! Go for Teheran!" Speaking at a UCLA forum sponsored by "Americans for Victory Over Terrorism" and the campus Republican geeks, Bill Clinton's former CIA director, James Woolsey, declared that "the United States is engaged in World War IV, and that it could continue for years." If you thought the first three (including the cold war) were pretty horrific, you ain't seen nothin' yet:

"This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War."

Who, then, is the enemy in this coming world conflagration? Nothing less than the entire Arab world, which Woolsey helpfully breaks down into three sub-categoreis: the Shi'a rulers of Iran, the "fascists of Iraq and Syria," and Al Qaeda. All three, according to Woolsey, have been at war with us, but apparently their efforts were so puny (or subtle?) that we barely noticed. But never mind that, it's a new day and a new way, according to Woolsey:

"As we move toward a new Middle East over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous."

Our war birds love the idea of making us nervous. It makes them feel powerful. And I am nervous, because they are powerful. Woolsey, by the way, is not just some has-been ex-official turned neocon hack. As CNN reports,

"Woolsey has been named in news reports as possible candidate for a key position in the reconstruction of a post-war Iraq."

That an extremist pining for a new world war is being seriously considered for the job of American viceroy in occupied Iraq is the final proof that the neocons have won – and that we have good reason to be nervous. Their program – enunciated well before 9/11 – of an all-out American war on the Arab world is now U.S. policy. That Iraq is going to be used as a forward base for future military operations I have no doubt. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has recently issued a new broadside against Syria, complaining of their alleged aid to Iraq, although other administration officials say Rummy's playing fast and loose with the facts. Amid rumors of Iranian "infiltration," Rumsfeld's direct warning to the "Badr Brigade," and the "high priority" the administration puts on stopping Iran's purported bid to join the nuclear club, it seems that Teheran, too, is in for some "liberation."

The would-be governor of occupied Iraq is not alone in his prescription for a fourth world war: the original author of the concept is Elliot Cohen, the neocons' academic chieftain, but it was popularized by Norman Podhoretz, whose article entitled "How to Win World War IV" appeared in Commentary shortly after 9/11. Here is an interventionism so radical that Podhoretz attacks Ronald Reagan for having "cut and run" from Lebanon! After a long and discursive detailing of how and why Islam is our deadly enemy, and Israel our only friend in the Middle East, the neoconservative Ayatollah issues this fatwa:

"Consider: the campaign against al Qaeda required us to topple the Taliban regime, and we may willy-nilly find ourselves forced by the same political and military logic 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 go along with David Pryce-Jones in imagining 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. Like Pryce-Jones, 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."

How many more wars, after Iraq? "Five or six," if Podhoretz and his fellow neocons have their way. Amidst all the guff about "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and the faux-idealism that permeates neocon war-rhetoric like cheap perfume, Podhoretz is more grimly realistic. He plainly doesn't believe democracy can grow in the soil of Islam, and is honest enough to say it, but other "changes" are desirable from his point of view. Islam, he avers, will be "modernized," and:

"This, in turn, would finally give adherents of Islam a chance to set their feet on the path to greater freedom and greater prosperity – and, not so incidentally, to make their peace with the existence of Israel."

"Not so incidentally" is for damn sure!

Even if the neoconservatives had been hired outright to promote the interests of Israel over and above those of the U.S., they couldn't have done a better job of it. That is the real genesis of this war: it is meant as the opening act of World War IV. This is the goal the neocons have been energetically pursuing – a war pitting the U.S. and Israel against the entire Muslim world – ever since 9/11, and, today, they are on the brink of success. The U.S. has yet to take Baghdad, and already they are threatening Syria and Iran. You can be sure that former spook Woolsey, once put in charge of postwar Iraq, will do his best to provoke a border incident that will lead to the fulfillment of his prophecy.

Antiwar.com has been instrumental, I am proud to say, in exposing the neocon agenda, and popularizing the idea that a small but influential cabal of policy wonks, administration officials, and laptop bombardiers are behind this push for perpetual war. Just go to google.com (news section) and type in the word "neoconservatives" or even "neocons" and you can see the meme spread far and wide.

But that isn't even half the battle.

The War Party is moving quickly to target Damascus, Teheran, and beyond. As an indication of what we are in for, check out what Ms. Eleana Benador, the War Party's equivalent of Paul ("Swifty") Lazar, or Michael Ovitz, has to say. Ms. Benador, as the proprietor of Benador Associates, is the agent for Woolsey, Richard Perle, and a long list of neocon publicists, and she recently described her latest project to the New York Observer:

"Ms. Benador said her job was not only to work the phones for her clients, but sometimes to help polish their message. 'There are some things, you have to just state them in a different way, in a slightly different way,' she said. She described meeting with a new organization that plans to explore which rogue regime will be next in line for U.S. intervention following Iraq.

"'They said their agenda is to see who is next after Iraq,' she said. 'And I said, 'I don't think that's the right position, because 'Who is next?' is like you're asking for more war.' And I said, 'So you can ask, "What is next? What is going to happen next?"' So I made them change that slightly.

"'See, it's a little word,' she said, "but it makes a difference. If not, people get scared. …'"

Scared yet? You should be.

No doubt Ms. Benador has advised her client, Jim Woolsey, to tone down the rhetoric about "World War IV." But in the orgy of triumphalism certain to follow our Pyrrhic "victory" in Iraq, such grand-scale megalomania is likely to seem less insane. No doubt a whole bunch of liberals will join in, declaring that we must "reconstruct" Iraq and promote our "nation-building" project throughout the Middle East. As to how any of this benefits us, the American people, is a matter that will be lost amid the grandiose plans of these would-be social engineers. It will, instead, endanger us, by making America the target of what Egyptian President Hosni Mubarrak imagined as "one hundred Bin Ladens."

This war was and is like one long, drawn-out mugging, in which the bigger, well-armed robber takes down his victim with disconcerting ease. It is so easy, that the perpetrator, from that moment on, decides to live a life of crime – and that is the great danger.

This is not to overlook the prospect of bloody street fighting in Baghdad. But, as I have said in this space from the beginning, the military victory of the United States is a foregone conclusion. And, no matter what the price, the War Party is bound and determined to press onward.

They must be stopped.

The antiwar movement, far from being in any way finished, has just begun to fight. Our goal, from this moment on, must be to draw a line in the sand and say: "Enough!"

In conquering a nation the size of California, and taking its fate into our hands, we have already ingested more than enough to make us gag. Let the Iraqis determine their own fate, in their own way. The call to end the occupation, and take our troops – sitting ducks for terrorists – out of the line of fire, must become our battle-cry. We must target and specifically oppose the appointment of neocon nut-balls like Woolsey to run the postwar regime. We must support Rep. John Conyers' bid to investigate Richard Perle's outrageous influence-peddling – and extend it to other influential leaders of the War Party, who are doubtless involved. We must fight all the harder in the postwar period – because, given a future of perpetual war, "postwar" means just a short breathing spell.


My note in Wednesday's column about Bill Berkowitz was in error: he was defending me, not attacking me. Hey, who says I'm thin-skinned? Anyway, let's make nice, and remember who our real enemies are. Speaking of which…

My old friend Bill Rusher, who lives just up over the next hill, weighs in on Commissar Frum's excommunication of antiwar conservatives, which he measures as "8.0 on the political Richter scale." As if more proof were needed that the neocons are legends in their own minds, according to Rusher the outcome of the mighty struggle between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives "may well determine the direction of American foreign policy for decades to come." Wow! As usual, Rusher's party-lining rhetoric – Bill Buckley invented the conservative movement, the paleos "started this fight" – is of limited interest, but one thing he let slip should be noted:

"Among other things, [Frum's smear job] will make it a lot harder for such TV shows as ‘The McLaughlin Group' and ‘The Capital Gang' to peddle Buchanan and Novak, respectively, as representative generic conservatives on their panels. They are no such thing."

The mere thought that there exists someone with a large audience – a Novak, or a Buchanan – who contradicts their party line is enough to drive the neocons mad. Rusher and his pals at National Review hate the idea that two prominent conservatives are on to their game, and they are now embarked on a campaign to get both Novak and Buchanan off the air. That's a lot of what this much-touted "civil war on the right," as Rusher dubs it, is about.

Rusher started out his political life as a Wendell Wilkie-type "Republican," an interventionist active in "Fight for Freedom," and he hasn't changed his political spots one bit in all these years. I have some bad news for him, though. Nobody cares what National Review has to say anymore, it's day as a vital voice on the Right has long since passed. That ex-presidential speechwriter Frum has put me up there with Buchanan and Novak as part of the paleoconservative "axis of evil" – a Bushism that Frum made sure to take credit for – is a badge of honor that I will always wear with pride.

The last time I saw Bill Rusher, at one of those rare Bay Area right-wing soirees, he was grimacing with disdain as neocon loudmouth Stephen Schwartz made an impromptu speech proclaiming the virtues of labor unionism. Yet now Rusher goes down the list of excommunicated antiwar conservatives, including myself, and adds: "'Unpatriotic' at first seems a strange word to apply to these people." Yes, but no stranger than applying the word "conservative" to an ex-Trotskyite convert to Islam whose fevered screeds are published by National Review.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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