When Seymour Hersh last
appeared on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, he explained the administration's
foreign policy agenda to host Jon Stewart. After noting that this agenda was
the work of the "neoconservatives,
the people who work at the Pentagon, the
civilians," and their belief that Iran "shouldn't
exist," Stewart began to seem a bit incredulous. Hersh took this opportunity
to make it clear that he has every reason to believe there is more war to come:
"You have to listen to what the guy [Bush] says. He says we're
going to bring democracy to the Middle East. He's not talking about Egypt or
Pakistan or Saudi Arabia (where there's a lot of problems). He's talking about
Iran and then Syria, and then Lebanon. He wants to change the Middle East, he
wants to bring democracy there, and he's dead serious about it. He's
got four more years, and he's going do it." (emphasis Hersh's)
The fact that the Syrian-backed government of Lebanon resigned
on Feb. 28, two days after Syria announced that they were going to withdraw
their troops, reversing Hersh's prediction of the order of regime changes,
probably only encourages those who push this policy. There does seem to be a
and also among those
them, about whether Iran or Syria is next, but since Iran and Syria seem at
this point to be each
other's last allies, the former
communists in the Pentagon and the vice president's office must be considering
bombing both at the same time.
For the record, the president has denied that he plans war, sort
of: " "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran
is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table."
Hersh thinks the neo-dopes
have learned at least one lesson: Nation-building doesn't
work. He says they will use this newfound wisdom in combination with more
stupidity in Iran:
"The goal is to hit three or four dozen targets this summer, or whenever,
and the thinking is that if they can show … the people (67 million) that the
theocracy isn't that powerful, people will rise up in response to the American
attack, and go after the leadership. … It's loony to want to do it this way.
It's loony to think the people are going to do anything but support their country
if it's attacked."
Hersh knows these things, he says, because, "If you disagree, you can't get
to the table. The only guys who get to the table are the guys who drink the
Kool-Aid," and so many people inside the government who don't buy this fantasy
are dying to talk to him.
Many people wanted to believe that Bush
didn't really mean it when, only seconds after solemnly swearing to uphold
in his second inaugural address
on Jan. 20, he vowed to continue his "global
democratic revolution." We all know Bush wants to look great in the history
books, but apparently some were hoping he'd just make Social
Security worse and find other
ways of destroying wealth domestically in order to establish his legacy.
They may be sorely disappointed to find out how honest our liar
president can be.
Is our new National
Security Strategy really about spreading democracy? When I interviewed Eric
Margolis of the Toronto Sun on Feb. 26 [stream]
he pointed out that the one
true democratic election in the Arab world was in 1991 in Algeria. Islamists
won, so the military canceled the results and jailed the winners with the express
approval of the first Bush administration. Even with an election as
bogus as the one that took place in Iraq on Jan. 30, the new leaders are
Islamic state, one that will surely soon again be an enemy of the U.S.,
According to Margolis, "[T]he Bush administration has almost completely adopted
Israel's view of events in the Middle East – rightly or wrongly – and made all
of Israel's enemies … America's enemies as well, and branded them as terrorists."
That is what this policy is really about – a clean
break for Israel from past policies of "appeasing"
their enemies. The Likud Party wants to restructure the entire order of the
Middle East so that Israel is the unquestioned hegemon of the region, and the
U.S. is doing it all for them, on our
dime and with our
Why else would our government be picking a fight with Syria and Iran? They
have been doing everything they can to please the U.S. since 9/11. They've "been
very helpful," in fighting al-Qaeda types, and have turned over old Iraqi
Ba'ath party members – heck, the Syrians have even tortured
a Canadian for us. Yet the Bush administration adopts
the Israeli view that the killing of former Lebanese prime ministerHariri must
have been a Syrian effort, even though there are unsolved assassinations there
all the time. The same assertions are made by both Israel and the
U.S. about last week's bombing
in Tel Aviv. Condoleezza Rice has
pulled our ambassador out of Damascus and made threats
demanding the Syrians leave Lebanon, which seems to have worked
They also continue to make unfounded
assertions about Iran's nuclear program, a pathetic
excuse to attack that sovereign nation, since the IAEA
says their nuclear program has nothing to do with weapons at all.
Brent Scowcroft, George Bush Sr.'s "alter ego," told
the Financial Times that Ariel Sharon has the president "wrapped
around his little finger," as the U.S. and Israeli reaction to the Hariri case
seems to confirm. This conflation of Israel's (or any other country's) foreign
policy goals with our own has got to stop, before the U.S. becomes
a pariah state. As Margolis said on my show:
"The judgment of many of us has been clouded by feelings of revenge from
September 11th. We're thinking with adrenaline rather than with logic in the
Middle East. I have seen the entire Muslim world turn violently against the
United States. Not just the Muslim world – the whole outside world. I've spent
a lot of my time traveling around the world. The entire world is angry at the
the United States as I have never seen before in my six decades of life. It
is appalling. We are generating enemies faster than we can count them."
Eric Margolis has covered 14
wars in his life; he knows.
Another person who knows is Michael Scheuer, former CIA analyst at "Alec Station,"
the CIA's old bin Laden unit, and the formerly anonymous author of Imperial
Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. He says the U.S.
is Osama bin Laden's indispensable
ally. Scheuer believes, as does Margolis, that the attacks of 9/11 were
planned as a trick: to strike us in such a way that we were sure to lash out,
then sit back and snipe. Bin Laden calls it the "bleed
until bankruptcy" plan:
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedin to the furthest point
east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al-Qaeda' in order to make
the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political
losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits
for their private companies.
"This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and
the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahedin,
bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw
This touches on another major theme of Scheuer's book, that the war in Afghanistan
in the '80s and early '90s taught the mujahedin that if they believed
in God enough, they could defeat anyone. That is why they lured America to Afghanistan,
and why bin Laden considers our invasion of Iraq a "gift." They succeeded in
bringing Americans close enough to shoot. Their hope to defeat the American
empire rested on the presumption the we would overextend ourselves. That presumption
has thus far proven
to have been correct.
The glaring contradiction between rhetorical
distinction and indiscriminate
aggression actually encourages Muslims of all sects and nationalities to
put aside their old grievances with each other and concentrate on fighting a
common enemy – us. Lucky for them, the U.S. is giving them plenty
of ammunition in the war for hearts and minds. Referring to the occupations
of Iraq and Afghanistan, Scheuer writes in his book,
"In conducting these activities, and the conventional military campaigns
preceding them, U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of
the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden had been trying to do with substantial
but incomplete success since the early 1990's."
Scheuer's belief that we must show this insurgency how ruthless we can be to
incite fear, however, is like throwing water on an oil fire. That the U.S. should
ruthlessly hunt down only the real enemy – the "incorrigible ones," as opposed
to the axis of evil – still has terrible consequences in real life. How does
our government use the American military to overwhelming defeat the enemy? Scheuer
himself points out that they invite the Russians and Indians to help, and they
into extraneous pre-planned
wars and burn
holy sites to the ground when they get there. If they did catch Osama bin
Laden, they'd probably hold his head up in the air like a trophy for the cameras
(not unlike what they did with
Saddam Hussein's sons' corpses) in their belief that Muslims everywhere will
see how mean we are and will never want trouble with us tough hombres again.
This, of course, would instead only draw untold numbers into his movement, resulting
ultimately in the deaths of more Americans, as another former
CIA analyst said not long ago.
It is two wars too late for a limited response to the attacks of 9/11. Our window
of opportunity to act, but with restraint, is over.
One American intervention has begotten the next since Wilson
lied this country into the "Great War." Intervening in that catastrophe
the creation of the Soviet Union and the
rise of National Socialism in Germany, and allowed the British and French
up the Middle East for themselves, with Lord
Balfour's declaration to boot. To defeat the Nazis, the U.S. built
up the Soviet Union, which then became (for the second time) the "Red Menace."
To counter the threat of socialism in South Asia, in 1953 the U.S. sent Kermit
Roosevelt and a million dollars to Iran to overthrow
the democratically elected president, Mohammed Mossadegh, and replace him
with the cruel Shah
Pahlavi. To pay the Soviets back for our humiliation in the proxy war in Vietnam,
our government helped
the mujahedin in their Afghan holy war.
After the shah was overthrown
and replaced by the theocratic Shi'ite rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the U.S.
government increased its support for Iran's main rival, long-time
CIA asset Saddam Hussein. After that war was finally over, and he got out
of line (or perhaps misunderstood
his instructions) and invaded Kuwait in 1990, our government went to the
desert to throw him out. This just happened to outrage a few of the leaders
of our old friends the mujahedin, among them Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri,
who put Desert Storm and the ensuing permanent Saudi bases, sanctions, and continual
bombing of the no-fly zones, at the top of their
list of reasons to hate America.
For the record, the other
reasons are: "Unquestioning" support for Israel; the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq (replacing sanctions and no-fly zones on the list); support for kings
and military regimes across the Middle East; support for Russia, China, and
India in their wars against Muslim rebels; and continual pressure on Middle
Eastern states to keep oil prices artificially low. Our
freedom is not on the list.
Porter Goss, the new director of Central Intelligence, told
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the battlefield
we have made of Iraq will be a spawning ground of terrorists for years to come:
"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S.
jihadists. … These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused
on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build
transnational terrorist cells, groups, and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan,
and other countries."
The National Intelligence
Council wrote a
report saying the same thing. Maybe this is what those who control our government
After all, "war is health of the state," unless the state loses.
leaving Iraq now would make matters worse, but the longer we stay the easier
it will be for the conflict to spread and the seeds of future conflicts to be
sown. Unless we end this disastrous policy of of entangling ourselves in unwise
alliances and using force to impose our will on the world, it is only a matter
of time before it blows up in our face.