morale among the soldiers in Iraq, and dive-bombing
poll numbers at home, the administration is planning
a gradual reduction in U.S. occupation forces – or are
Washington Post announced the "exit strategy" in a
front page story in Sunday's edition: if all goes according
to plan, we can look forward to "fewer than 100,000" by next
summer and a mere 50,000 by mid-2005. The catch is that, as
the Post reports,
involved in the discussions about troop reductions insist
that implementation will be dictated not by a set timetable,
but by security conditions in Iraq."
that's true, then the road to implementing this exit plan
is going to be a lot bumpier, and longer, than presently anticipated,
because security conditions are getting more tenuous, not
less: both the level
of violence and the sophistication of the attacks
are on the upswing. As are efforts to spread the war beyond
the boundaries of Iraq by restive neoconservatives….
as the record of an increasingly bitter faction fight
within the administration, the twists and turns of U.S. policy
in the region begin to make some sense. When Dubya first came
into office, the foreign policy "realists" were in charge,
all set to implement the promised "humility"
of a reluctant hegemon awed by its own unprecedented power.
It was then that the President first started
to tilt toward a Palestinian state, and, by endorsing
the Mitchell Commission, began to put pressure on our
troublesome Israeli allies to get with the "humility" program.
ended all that, and, in a matter of hours, handed
policy-making over to the wackiest of the neocons. They
were in the saddle in the entire period leading up to the
invasion and conquest of Iraq, a period that reached a weird
climax with the
famous Power Point presentation sponsored by the Defense
Policy Board formerly chaired by uber-hawk Richard
Perle, at which Laurent
Murawiec, a former longtime associate
of Lyndon LaRouche, declared:
is the tactical pivot
Arabia the strategic pivot
urged that we threaten to incinerate Medina and Mecca, eventually
take over Saudi Arabia, and move to subjugate the entire Middle
East. Slate columnist Jack Shafer scoffed, at the time,
that "it sounds a tad loopy, even by Dr. Strangelove standards,"
but today, as a concerted propaganda campaign by elements
within the U.S. government targeting the Saudis,
the Syrians, and the Iranians
is well underway, it looks like Dr.
Strangelove is still riding high in this administration
– even if he hasn't quite yet won the day.
the American "victory" unraveled, along with the case for
war, the neocons have run for cover – but they haven't retreated.
Far from it. American policy in the
Middle East is running on two tracks, the official administration
track of implementing an orderly exit strategy, and the neocon
track, which is rapidly propelling us into an armed conflict
with Iran, Syria, and Lebanon; in short, with Israel's remaining
enemies in the region.
Ledeen, author of The Terror Masters, and for years
head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
with the American Enterprise Institute, is leading the charge
of the neocon brigade, with a series of allegations so fantastic
that merely repeating them is enough to discredit them.
to an item in Newsweek, he claims that 1) his old
Ghorbanifar led him to an informant who knows where enriched
uranium is hidden in Iraq and Iran, 2) the latter is
on the verge of going nuclear, and 3) as Newsweek reports:
of Ghorbanifar's contacts recently asked U.S. officials for
$250,000 to gather information in Tehran to foil a terror
attack on the United States, scheduled for about Nov. 23 through
Nov. 25 of this year, that would be 'bigger' than 9/11. Ghorbanifar
claims post-9/11 anthrax letters originated in Iran and that
if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, the
ayatollahs will attack Israel with chemical and biological
goes on to note that "CIA spokesman Bill Harlow reaffirmed
that the agency considers Ghorbanifar 'a fabricator' who sought
to sell fake information for cash." Ghorbanifar may be a liar,
but on whose behalf is he lying?
the Ledeen-Ghorbanifar connection is key to putting this latest
neocon maneuver in context. As the Report
of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra
Affair revealed, Ledeen, then working for the National
Security Council, served as the liaison with the government
of Israel in arranging the sale of weapons to Iran in return
for the release of the American hostages held in Tehran. Ledeen
and Ghorbanifar a former Iranian
SAVAK agent with close
ties to Israeli intelligence were the chief instigators
of the deal. That same congressional report recommended that
U.S. intelligence agencies sever their ties with both Ledeen
and Ghorbanifar, but now that the neocons are back in the
saddle in Washington these two are back
in vogue, peddling Israeli propaganda gussied up as "intelligence."
either Ledeen or Ghorbanifar have information about a terrorist
attack planned for "about Nov. 23 through Nov. 25," then why
don't they come forward with the information? The clock, it
would seem, is ticking. Besides being of rather dubious provenance,
such a proposal – give me a quarter mil and I'll tell you
how to avert a catastrophe "bigger than 9/11" – seems in rather
all on a par with Ghorbanifar's
tall tale about Libyan hit squads stalking the U.S., which
materialized. The same lie factory
that churned out forged documents "proving" that Iraq had
procured enriched uranium in the African nation of Niger,
that pushed the totally nonexistent Al-Qaeda-Ba'athist connection
and that is now backpedaling furiously, claiming we never
said the threat from Iraq was "imminent" is going into
overdrive. Their aim: escalate and extend the war before the
withdrawal from Iraq can begin.
is one and only one strategic value to maintaining a U.S.
military presence in Iraq, and that is as a forward base in
a regional war. If we don't get out, we will go on – and the
longer we stay in, the more likely such a prospect becomes.
That is why it's necessary to bring the U.S. occupation to
a close a.s.a.p., a goal that the more rational elements
among U.S. conservatives have finally
mobilized behind. But it may be too late. The idea is
already taking hold – among wooly-headed liberals, as well
as hard-headed conservatives – that we can't get out now,
because Iraq will become "a magnet for terrorists." As if
it isn't already.
idea that we can invade a country, conquer it, and then not
incur any blowback is uniquely American in its "who me?" naivete.
The advocates of a war policy that has turned into an unmitigated
disaster are now trying to lay the consequences of their insane
policies at the feet of the Peace Party, but it won't work.
We can only worsen the effects of their failed policy by pursuing
it to the bitter end. The consequences of our errors cannot
be avoided, but they can be mitigated to some extent if we'll
just admit our mistake, back up, and go in the opposite direction
– the direction of peace.
want a "responsible" exit strategy? Hold elections before
the year is out – they're sure to be at
least as fair as Florida's – reconstitute the Iraqi army,
and turn the whole thing over to the new Iraqi government
on January 1. We can start out the New Year on a fresh note
by declaring victory – and going home. The last GI should
be home by Christmas.
there will be no end to our involvement – no way to extricate
ourselves from the Middle Eastern quagmire that will envelop
us almost before we realize we are sunk.
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