Robert Bennett (R-Utah) has denounced the widespread call
for the U.S. to account for the "weapons of mass destruction"
Iraq was supposed to have as "historical
revisionism." This is odd phraseology. Our understanding
of history is being constantly revised and updated, as new
evidence comes to light, which is why "revisionism"
acting as a constant prod to orthodoxy is the motor of
intellectual progress. We need more "revisionism,"
retrospect, the events that have impelled us to war have turned
out, in every case, to be elaborate hoaxes. We now know, for
example, that the Maine was blown up, not by the Spanish,
but by an internal malfunction: the investigation
carried out by Admiral
Hyman Rickover in 1976 showed
that the event that sparked the Spanish-American War was in
all likelihood spontaneous combustion in a coal bin. Yet the
media whipped up a war hysteria that swept aside all questions
of fact. "Remember the Maine!" is a slogan that
ought to make us forever leery of war propaganda.
tales of Belgian babies speared on German bayonets war
propaganda that did much to rile the American public on the
eve of World War I were a figment of some British propagandist's
vivid imagination. The myth-makers were even busier in the
period leading up to World War II: Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
have since learned, knew much more about the "surprise"
attack on Pearl Harbor than even the most cynical observers
suspected. Clare Booth Luce was right when she said of FDR's
deception: "He lied us into war." But it doesn't
grand deception continued into the cold war era. The Satan
with a sword that was supposed to have been the Soviet Union,
it turned out, was a 90-lb. weakling that, finally, succumbed
to its own inherent disability: yet, right up until the fall
of the Berlin Wall, U.S. intelligence assessments were flat-out
as they were by ideological assumptions and interests.
The neocons at first denounced the self-dissolution of Communism,
as carried out by Mikhail Gorbachev, as a trick. Right up
until the end, they
warned of the growing Soviet threat.
the post-cold war world, the masters of deceit really went
overboard: remember those Kuwait babies that were supposed
to have been disconnected from their incubators by invading
Iraqi troops and flung to the floor? It turned out that the
"eyewitness" to these imaginary happenings was none
other than the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, and that
the hoax had been concocted
by Kuwait's American PR firm. A similar style of blatant
fakery permeates the war propaganda of the post-9/11 era,
except on a much grander scale.
Dean speculates as to whether the lies about Iraq's alleged
arsenal, told by this administration, and by George W. Bush
personally, constitute grounds for impeachment. This seems,
theoretically and practically, a dubious proposition: if every
President who ever lied us into war had been tried and found
guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, we'd have indicted
every occupant of the White House in modern times.
Bush constructed an imposing edifice of lies to impress Congress
and the people with the enormity of the Iraqi threat. Shocking,
isn't it? Well, uh, no. Not when it comes to the neocons.
They are, as has been widely
noted, students and admirers
of the late Leo
Strauss the New York Times calls them "Leo-cons."
Strauss was a classics professor, influential
thinker, and neocon
icon who believed that wisdom must be imparted to intellectual
in esoteric terms, because it might be misunderstood by the
of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a leading hawk, and Abram
Shulsky, the director of the Office of Special Plans unit
set up by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to find evidence of Iraqi
WMDs, received their doctorates under professor Strauss's
tutelage. Shulsky is a scholar steeped in Strauss and
the classics, and lest it be doubted that the labored
effusions of a philosophic eccentric could have an application
to intelligence work, there is always a 1999 essay, authored
by Shulsky and Gary
Strauss and the World of Intelligence," which makes
the argument that Strauss's concept of esoteric meanings:
one to the possibility that political life may be closely
linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is
the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of
the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense
with it is the exception."
this administration lied to Congress and the American people
over a period of several months what else do you expect
from people who proudly aver that "deception is the norm
in political life" and make no bones about their disregard
for the idea of objective truth?
trucks the President claims are mobile bio-war labs, it turns
out, are probably AMETS Artillery Meteorological System
vehicles, of the
sort Britain sold to Iraq in 1987. Their purpose: to make
balloons, not biological toxins. Yes, it's been a bad
week for the War Party: the latest is that a classified Defense
Intelligence Agency report has been leaked
showing that the U.S. government had no conclusive evidence
of Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction." To add insult
to the War Party's injury, even the Marines have turned against
them: U.S. Marine Lieutenant-General James Conway averred
last week that the Pentagon's civilian bigwigs were "simply
wrong" in their intelligence assessment that US troops
were likely to be attacked with biological and/or chemical
weapons. Particularly damning is the
testimony of Greg Thielmann, who retired last year as
a top official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence
disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements
made from the very top about what the intelligence did say.
The area of distortion was greatest in the nuclear field."
"the very top" Thielmann doesn't just mean General
Conway's civilian superiors in the Defense Department, but
also in the White House. After all, it was George W. Bush
who said in his radio
address of February 2, 2003:
have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized
Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons the very weapons
the dictator tells us he does not have."
a speech last year, the President put the power and prestige
of his office, and his credibility, behind some very specific
Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological
weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime
has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including
mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."
an arsenal of biological and chemical weaponry would be hard
to conceal, especially from the prying eyes of the U.S. military
frantically looking for evidence of WMD. If they
could find the fabled treasures of Nimrud, gold
jewelry and other small objects, such as manuscripts,
thought looted from the Baghdad museum, hidden
beneath a sewer, why can't they locate what is surely
a larger and more visible quarry Iraqi WMD weighing "thousands
the call to impeach the President for lying is meant to split
Bush from the high command of the War Party centered in the
Defense Department, who whispered the wrong information in
George W. Bush's ear, then I say: let the impeachment process
begin! We know that this administration lied. Now the only
question is whether it's a case of a President ill-served
by his neoconservative advisors, or a disinformation campaign
directed from the White House. Antiwar conservatives will
tend toward the former theory, while the antiwar left will
be eager to pin the blame on George W. and his closest advisors.
My own agnosticism on this issue awaits the results of the
promised congressional investigation, and the testimony of
witnesses: or am I dreaming?
problem is that this war, far from being over, is just now
entering its newest phase, and by the time the Republicans
get around to permitting the hearings, we'll have long since
been embarked on phase two of the neocon plan for the Middle
East: the "liberation" of Iran. Congress will be
investigating the lies that dragged us into occupying Iraq
even as the same people cook up a whole new batch of lies.
same Office of Special Plans has a special plan for Iran
and Shulsky's shop is working overtime to replicate their
Iraq deception. An alliance with the Mujahideen
e Khalq (MEK), a terrorist-Marxist cult responsible for
the deaths of Americans, as well as with the followers of
the deposed Pahlavi
clan, is all part of the neocon campaign to effect "regime
change" in Tehran. As the Forward reports:
inside and outside the administration have been urging an
active effort to promote regime change in Tehran. Reports
of possible covert operations have surfaced in recent weeks.
Several intelligence sources and Iran policy watchers told
the Forward that the Office of Special Plans was a
key factor in the push for a policy of Iranian regime change.
'They are running their own intelligence operation, including
covert action, and are using contractors outside the government
to do some of the leg work,' said a former top CIA official."
confirmation of the widespread suspicion on the Right that
the neocons are a rogue element in the administration, this
account buttresses the idea that the President is being essentially
manipulated by the War Party, set up to take the fall for
the lies put out by his Machiavellian advisors:
area of work has been concentrated on Iraq, which is why the
intelligence on WMD was so bad, but they have a much broader
portfolio. The [Office of Special Plans] is undergoing some
scrutiny from inside the government given its poor track record
and the lack of 'sanity checking' their products with the
intelligence community. A lot of material they produce is
not shared with CIA, not coordinated, and finds its way into
public policy statements by the likes of Rumsfeld and Cheney.'"
scrutiny of the Office of Special Plans has brought yelps
of protest which only seem to confirm its seminal role
as a fabrication factory that churned out lies at an astonishing
pace. But once people discover they've been lied to and
that's the major problem with the Straussians' politics of
deception they want to know the authors of the lie.
In his fascinating
in-depth analysis of the Straussian network in government,
Seymour Hersh writes:
call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal a small cluster
of policy advisers and analysts now based in the Pentagon's
Office of Special Plans."
War Party is a lot bigger than a small cluster of Washington
policy wonks, but a congressional investigation if initiated
quickly enough can help in exposing its core, and preventing
a repetition of the same lying tactics in the near future.
But it is going to have to be launched very quickly.
The UN notification that the Iranian nuclear program is in
violation of international protocols variously
interpreted by Tehran and Washington should put us all
on notice: in the case of Iran, the by now ritualized process
preceding U.S. military intervention has begun.
the same liars get away with telling the same lie twice? As
George W. Bush once said: "Fool me once, shame on me,
fool me twice, shame on you." Or something like that
IN THE MARGIN
second part of his marathon three-part series purporting
to disappear the "myth" of neoconservatism, Jonah
story of nascent Trotskyism leading to the neoconservative
movement some 40 years later has always given extra luster
and irony to the tale. Some on the so-called paleo-right invest
these roots with a great deal of meaning even today, claiming
that Trotsky remains the guiding influence of neocons even
for people who've probably never read a word of Trotsky's
writings and were never themselves leftists or liberals, let
alone Communists. While it might be fun to wade deep into
the weeds to demonstrate the ludicrousness of this assertion,
let me just say that of the scores of famous neocons I've
met, none of them have ever expressed any fondness for Trotsky.
He's never quoted as an authority in neocon op-eds or journals,
and he's never invoked save in jokes in neocon debates
just goes to show that most people, even his fellow neocons,
avoid poor Jonah at cocktail parties and other gatherings
of the Cabal, because here we have neocon Stephen Schwartz
that Stephen Schwartz! spilling the Trotskyist
beans in an interview with journalist Jeet Heer, whose piece
in the National Post is entitled "Trotsky's
ghost wandering the White House." Heer traces the
influence of former Trotskyists such as Christopher Hitchens,
Kanan Makiya, Paul Berman, and Schwartz, who is described
as having spent his formative years affiliated with "a
Spanish Trotskyist group." (Actually, it was in San Francisco's
North Beach, not Spain, where Schwartz was the one-man representative
of the Fomento Obrero Revolucionario Organizing Committee
in the United States (FOCUS): back then, he was calling himself
Sandalio.") Today he is a leading neoconservative
activist and the author of The
Two Faces of Islam, the most vociferous advocate of
"regime change" in Saudi Arabia, who pays homage
to the founder of the Red Army as a source of neoconnish inspiration:
this day, Schwartz speaks of Trotsky affectionately as 'the
old man' and 'L.D.' (initials from Trotsky's birth name, Lev
Davidovich Bronstein). 'To a great extent, I still consider
myself to be [one of the] disciples of L.D,' he admits, and
he observes that in certain Washington circles, the ghost
of Trotsky still hovers around. At a party in February celebrating
a new book about Iraq, Schwartz exchanged banter with Wolfowitz
about Trotsky, the Moscow Trials and Max Shachtman. 'I've
talked to Wolfowitz about all of this,' Schwartz notes. 'We
had this discussion about Shachtman. He knows all that stuff,
but was never part of it. He's definitely aware.'"
doesn't want to wade into those weeds: one can see why an
ostensible conservative might avoid it.
yoking together of Paul Wolfowitz and Leon Trotsky sounds
odd, but a long and tortuous history explains the link between
the Bolshevik left and the Republican right."
might add that I was the first to trace this long and tortuous
history in my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right:
The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement. Published
by the Center for Libertarian Studies, with
an introduction by Pat Buchanan, the book got me pegged
by the Weekly Standard, in 1996, as a leading member
of the "Buchananite brain trust," or at any rate
the author of the "definitive history" of the Old
Right. In any case, it's ironic in the extreme at least,
for me to hear all this talk of neocons this, neocons that,
and note that my book is out
of print. It's my fault, of course, that I've allowed
it thus far, but here's my chance to rectify it: all you enterprising
publishers out there, who want to get ahead of the curve
now's your chance. Write to me care of Antiwar.com.
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