Some of what he did say was leaked by the administration: for example, the claim that bin Laden and his ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [Zarqawi was not an ally of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden -editor] were working directly with Saddam Hussein to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. There was much more, says the analyst who worked at the Pentagon: “I first saw the reports soon after Abu Zubaydah’s capture. There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.”
Within the administration, Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation was “an important chapter,” the second analyst says: overall, his interrogation “product” was deemed to be more significant than the claims made by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, another al-Qaeda captive, who in early 2002 was tortured in Egypt at the C.I.A.’s behest. After all, Abu Zubaydah was being interviewed by Americans. Like the former Pentagon official, this official had no idea that Abu Zubaydah had been tortured.
“As soon as I learned that the reports had come from torture, once my anger had subsided I understood the damage it had done,” the Pentagon analyst says. “I was so angry, knowing that the higher-ups in the administration knew he was tortured, and that the information he was giving up was tainted by the torture, and that it became one reason to attack Iraq.”
Says here Zubaydah wasn’t moved to the black site in Poland until late 2002. Not that I know she wasn’t there too, but “soon after Zubaydah’s capture” means on Haspel’s watch in Thailand it seems fair to conclude.
For the last few months I have been battling some cognitive dissonance when making conclusions about the current state of U.S. foreign affairs. Ever since the Ron Paul days of 2008, I have been firm in my conviction that the libertarians are correct in this regard. I think on one hand that despite whatever disasters that may occur after a full military pull-out of all foreign countries, the situation couldn’t possibly be worse than allowing the U.S. government to continue the policy of the last century.
On the other hand, I am not privy to any inside-information. How can I possibly make conclusions about a subject that I have very limited knowledge of? What if Ron Paul himself made it into the White House and decided to continue the current policy because it’s the thing any sane person would do if they had the relevant facts and the ability to make the calls? This could explain the many reversals that we have witnessed from presidents as they transition from candidate-to-president.
While I still ultimately think the right course of action is a complete termination of the interventionist policy and that the politicians are war criminals, I don’t have a strong answer to the second, contradictory premise.
Yeah, no, that’s all wrong. Bush was lying when he said he wanted a more humble foreign policy. Obama was telling the truth when he said he wanted to get out of Iraq so as to help shore up the power of the American empire elsewhere. Trump was lying when he said he wanted to abandon “globalism” (the empire). None of them ever truly ran as Ron or Kucinich did as actual anti-imperialists. And so none of them truly had their minds changed about anything. (Trump’s resistance to Afghanistan-alone was still only ever paper-thin.)
In fact, it would be unfair to suggest that he got all his ideas about the world from his brother and father. It would be equally off-base to suggest that he has any of his own. What he, like most of the other Republicans who may run for president, has are muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding.
Responding to Jeb Bush’s claim that “We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies,” Chapman writes:
We no longer scare our enemies? The United States is a superpower that has been at war for 13 years, has brought about regime change in multiple countries, and is currently leading an air campaign against the Islamic State while conducting drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. If those facts give our enemies no anxiety, our enemies are exceedingly dim.
In most Hollywood horror franchises we know that the villains – take your Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, or your rakish Freddy Krueger – always come back. No matter what painful death or injury felled them in the previous romp, an endless string of potential victims means room for one more film. Make that 17 more.
The neoconservative war doctrine of aggressive military force and self-serving regime change did not die after the failed wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, which proponents pushed with an enthusiasm not equaled since the world tilted on its axis and Freddy met Jason in an epic hack-off. No, the neocons went nearly dormant (there is a Bram Stoker trope here, somewhere), reduced really, to sniping at Obama, but more or less biding their time until the next opportunity to manipulate global affairs in the Middle East.
That time, it seems, has come. We’re seeing subtle signs already this week as President Obama takes the country one step closer to air strikes against Bashar Assad’s military assets. We know one thing: neither the administration or military seem particularly interested in pursuing regime change or nation building (their “punitive strike” strategy of course is a topic for another post). However, with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham as neocon spear points — push, push, pushing for military force, now! — neoconservative voices, old and new, are starting to hint that “to do it right,” we might be in Syria for a long time afterwards, helping the “new” government find its way.
Never heard of her? She is clearly a protégé of the Kagan Clan, representing Kimberly Kagan’s Institute for the Study of War. Kim Kagan, who is married to Fred Kagan (brother of Robert Kagan), is no doubt happy to put someone besides a Kagan to front her think tank, which frankly, is now aligned with the demise of Gens. David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, who turned to her and Fred as “consultants” in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the last several years, she’s written “The Surge: A Military History,” and numerous magazine articles and op-eds as panegyrics to General Petraeus and “his generals” and their now-discredited COIN pop-doctrine.
So sending out the signal for another regime change must be done carefully and with none of the old baggage. O’Bagy has a Ph.D but this appears to be her first job. She says she has traveled extensively with the rebel groups in Syria to essentially prove that there are moderates out there who the U.S can work with. But her recent appearances on FOX and other venues come across as bullet-point briefings with very little color. The bottom line for O’Bagy: the rebel groups can be parsed. We need not worry about the “extremists,” she insists, they are are outnumbered by the “more moderate groups” who will welcome American assistance (echoes of the Iraqi National Congress?).
And then for the capstone — “there needs to be more than just punitive measures” she charged on FOX Monday night. “These moderate forces .. could quickly be taken over by the ideology of these extremist groups,” if we don’t do more than just strike, she added. O’Bagy doesn’t say “regime change” is necessary, but she certainly suggests it.
This is fascinating because this is the second time, at least, that O’Bagy has been given over 5 minutes of coveted Special Report time on FOX to describe events in Syria, even though there is a city filled with more experienced foreign policy and military analysts and journalists outside [Note: Special Report gets about 1.9 million viewers each night]. She’s spreading the word at different think tank discussions in Washington, too, like here and here.
While O’Bagy appears to be a gentle enough scout for what will no doubt turn into a full-blown message-control and lobbying campaign, there are more strident neoconservative foot soldiers in the ranks. Like Charles Krauthammer, who all but dared Obama to take out Assad on Special Report tonight. Like former George W speechwriter Michael Gerson, who in Tuesday’s Washington Post laid it all on the line:
The best-case scenario is probably this: a negotiated outcome in which Assad departs and other regime elements agree to form an interim government with the non-extremist members of the opposition. The new government would then need to engage in a multi-year power struggle (aided by the United States) with the jihadists. But this approach would require convincing the regime it can’t win militarily. Which would probably only happen after a Kosovo-style, Western air campaign.
Wow. If I close my eyes and listen to this read out loud and replace “Assad” with “Saddam,” I can almost make out the contours of our failed war in Iraq. If I close my eyes long enough I may see Freddy Krueger, which to tell you the truth is a less scary prospect. Sorry Freddy, maybe it’s time to find another day job after all.
UPDATE: We cannot forget the notoriously neoconservative Washington Post editorial page, which on Tuesday warned that seeing “moderate forces prevail … can’t be achieved with one or two volleys of cruise missiles.” Here’s more:
The United States can’t dictate the outcome in Syria, and it would be foolish to send ground troops in an effort to do so. But by combining military measures with training, weapons supplies and diplomacy, it could exercise considerable influence. The military measures could include destroying forces involved in chemical weapons use and elements of the Syrian air force that have been used to target civilians, as well as helping to carve out a safe zone for rebels and the civilian populations they are seeking to protect.
Such military action should be seen as one component of a policy that finally recognizes a U.S. interest in helping to shape Syria’s future.
UPDATE II : The old gang, back together: The Weekly Standard publishes fatuous letter to the president offering assistance with Syria. Supposedly it includes signatories from “all over the ideological spectrum,” but that is a joke. Not when you are talking Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams, Cliff May, Joe Lieberman, Robert Kagan, Martin Peretz, Karl Rove, Dan Senor …. you get the point. And not a true realist or anti-interventionist in sight. Not surprising, though, when you see the bottom line :
It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable.
“A military-industrial complex (MIC) is composed of a nation’s armed forces, its suppliers of weapons systems, supplies and services, and its civil government.” — Wikipedia
The U.S. MIC has evolved – – –
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Egypt — the [Egyptian] military does get this $1.3 billion of [U.S.] aid, but it has to be spent purchasing U.S. weapons. And so, all of this money really gets funneled to U.S. defense contractors that are the real big beneficiary of these funds, that have very large lobbying firms in Washington and that lobby very strongly for this aid to keep going. … The Washington Post had a very interesting article today showing that since the 1980s the United States has granted Egypt an extraordinary ability to make these orders with these American defense contractors that are worth far more than the funds Congress has already appropriated. So it’s essentially like this massive credit card that Egypt has, with a limit of billions of dollars. And it’s something called “cash flow financing.” So Egypt can submit these large orders for equipment that will take years to produce and deliver, and it’s under the assumption that U.S. lawmakers will just continue funneling the aid. Egypt Tensions Escalate as Morsi Detained and Supporters of Army, Brotherhood Hold Rival Protests | Democracy Now!
The original insight – – –
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Iran to Allow Nuclear Inspectors Into Secret Military Complex
Iran has announced it will allow international nuclear inspectors to visit its secret Parchin military complex. Iran has long said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, but some international analysts have speculated Iran may be using the Parchin complex to do research relevant to nuclear weapons. It is not clear when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit the site. –Democracy NOW! HEADLINES, March 06, 2012
SEYMOUR HERSH: …let me say again, there is no evidence that our intelligence community or even the Israeli intelligence community has — and I know that firsthand — suggesting that there’s an ongoing bomb program. So we are now — the United States is now in the position of increasing sanctions and pressuring all sorts of economic pressure on the Iranians to stop — the whole purpose of the economic sanctions is to stop the Iranians from making a bomb that we know they’re not making.–Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings
So everyone, including U.S. and Israeli intelligence, knows that the Iranian government isn’t trying to make a bomb. Unless a seriously careless Iranian scientist slips on a banana peel and pushes the wrong 10,000 buttons in exactly the right sequence, there’s little chance Iran — which, unlike Israel with its estimated 100 secret nukes, has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — will build even one bomb.
How hard can it be to stop someone from doing something they’re not doing? So, is the War Party candidates’ mutual promise to the government of Israel to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear bomb the easiest campaign promise?
Or, as with Kennedy and the nuclear arms race, Iraq, and now Iran, is THIS the main danger – – –