Posted by Tony from ? (188.8.131.52) on Friday, October 04, 2002 at 1:10PM :
The president's real goal in Iraq
By JAY BOOKMAN
The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The
connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw
between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed
contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that
smart people in the Bush administration would start a
major war based on such flimsy evidence.
The pieces just didn't
fit. Something else
had to be going on;
In recent days, those missing
pieces have finally begun to fall
into place. As it turns out, this is
not really about Iraq. It is not about
weapons of mass destruction, or
terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N.
This war, should it come, is
intended to mark the official
emergence of the United States
as a full-fledged global empire,
seizing sole responsibility and
authority as planetary policeman.
It would be the culmination of a
plan 10 years or more in the
making, carried out by those who
believe the United States must
seize the opportunity for global
domination, even if it means
becoming the "American
imperialists" that our enemies
always claimed we were.
Once that is understood, other
mysteries solve themselves. For
example, why does the
unconcerned about an exit
strategy from Iraq once Saddam
Because we won't be leaving.
Having conquered Iraq, the
United States will create
permanent military bases in that
country from which to dominate
the Middle East, including
In an interview Friday, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
brushed aside that suggestion,
noting that the United States does
not covet other nations' territory.
That may be true, but 57 years
after World War II ended, we still
have major bases in Germany
and Japan. We will do the same
And why has the administration
dismissed the option of
containing and deterring Iraq, as
we had the Soviet Union for 45
years? Because even if it worked,
containment and deterrence
would not allow the expansion of
American power. Besides, they
are beneath us as an empire.
Rome did not stoop to
containment; it conquered. And
so should we.
Among the architects of this
would-be American Empire are a
group of brilliant and powerful
people who now hold key
positions in the Bush
administration: They envision the
creation and enforcement of what
they call a worldwide "Pax
Americana," or American peace.
But so far, the American people
have not appreciated the true
extent of that ambition.
Part of it's laid out in the National
Security Strategy, a document in
which each administration
outlines its approach to defending
the country. The Bush
administration plan, released
Sept. 20, marks a significant
departure from previous
approaches, a change that it
attributes largely to the attacks of
To address the terrorism threat,
the president's report lays out a
newly aggressive military and
foreign policy, embracing
pre-emptive attack against
perceived enemies. It speaks in
blunt terms of what it calls
"American internationalism," of
ignoring international opinion if
that suits U.S. interests. "The best
defense is a good offense," the
It dismisses deterrence as a Cold
War relic and instead talks of
"convincing or compelling states
to accept their sovereign
In essence, it lays out a plan for
permanent U.S. military and
economic domination of every
region on the globe, unfettered by
international treaty or concern.
And to make that plan a reality, it
envisions a stark expansion of
our global military presence.
"The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond
Western Europe and Northeast Asia," the document warns, "as well
as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment
of U.S. troops."
The report's repeated references to terrorism are misleading,
however, because the approach of the new National Security
Strategy was clearly not inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can
be found in much the same language in a report issued in
September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a
group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that
the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.
"At no time in history has the international security order been as
conducive to American interests and ideals," the report said. stated
two years ago. "The challenge of this coming century is to preserve
and enhance this 'American peace.' "
Overall, that 2000 report reads like a blueprint for current Bush
defense policy. Most of what it advocates, the Bush administration
has tried to accomplish. For example, the project report urged the
repudiation of the anti-ballistic missile treaty and a commitment to a
global missile defense system. The administration has taken that
It recommended that to project sufficient power worldwide to enforce
Pax Americana, the United States would have to increase defense
spending from 3 percent of gross domestic product to as much as
3.8 percent. For next year, the Bush administration has requested a
defense budget of $379 billion, almost exactly 3.8 percent of GDP.
It advocates the "transformation" of the U.S. military to meet its
expanded obligations, including the cancellation of such outmoded
defense programs as the Crusader artillery system. That's exactly the
message being preached by Rumsfeld and others.
It urges the development of small nuclear warheads "required in
targeting the very deep, underground hardened bunkers that are
being built by many of our potential adversaries." This year the
GOP-led U.S. House gave the Pentagon the green light to develop
such a weapon, called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, while
the Senate has so far balked.
That close tracking of recommendation with current policy is hardly
surprising, given the current positions of the people who contributed
to the 2000 report.
Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is
undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the
Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen
and Devon Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which
advises Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President
Dick Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense
Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the authors of
the project report could be more frank and less diplomatic than they
were in drafting the National Security Strategy. Back in 2000, they
clearly identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as primary short-term
targets, well before President Bush tagged them as the Axis of Evil.
In their report, they criticize the fact that in war planning against North
Korea and Iraq, "past Pentagon wargames have given little or no
consideration to the force requirements necessary not only to defeat
an attack but to remove these regimes from power."
To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says U.S. forces will be
required to perform "constabulary duties" -- the United States acting
as policeman of the world -- and says that such actions "demand
American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations."
To meet those responsibilities, and to ensure that no country dares
to challenge the United States, the report advocates a much larger
military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition to the
roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already deployed.
More specifically, they argue that we need permanent military bases
in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and in
Southeast Asia, where no such bases now exist. That helps to
explain another of the mysteries of our post-Sept. 11 reaction, in
which the Bush administration rushed to install U.S. troops in
Georgia and the Philippines, as well as our eagerness to send
military advisers to assist in the civil war in Colombia.
The 2000 report directly acknowledges its debt to a still earlier
document, drafted in 1992 by the Defense Department. That
document had also envisioned the United States as a colossus
astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through
military and economic power. When leaked in final draft form,
however, the proposal drew so much criticism that it was hastily
withdrawn and repudiated by the first President Bush.
Effect on allies
The defense secretary in 1992 was Richard Cheney; the document
was drafted by Wolfowitz, who at the time was defense
undersecretary for policy.
The potential implications of a Pax Americana are immense.
One is the effect on our allies. Once we assert the unilateral right to
act as the world's policeman, our allies will quickly recede into the
background. Eventually, we will be forced to spend American wealth
and American blood protecting the peace while other nations
redirect their wealth to such things as health care for their citizenry.
Donald Kagan, a professor of classical Greek history at Yale and an
influential advocate of a more aggressive foreign policy -- he served
as co-chairman of the 2000 New Century project -- acknowledges
"If [our allies] want a free ride, and they probably will, we can't stop
that," he says. But he also argues that the United States, given its
unique position, has no choice but to act anyway.
"You saw the movie 'High Noon'? he asks. "We're Gary Cooper."
Accepting the Cooper role would be an historic change in who we
are as a nation, and in how we operate in the international arena.
Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is
not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with
the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate
with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign
policy, a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military
For the same reason, Kagan and others shy away from terms such
as empire, understanding its connotations. But they also argue that it
would be naive and dangerous to reject the role that history has thrust
upon us. Kagan, for example, willingly embraces the idea that the
United States would establish permanent military bases in a
"I think that's highly possible," he says. "We will probably need a
major concentration of forces in the Middle East over a long period
of time. That will come at a price, but think of the price of not having
it. When we have economic problems, it's been caused by
disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no
disruption in oil supplies."
Costly global commitment
Rumsfeld and Kagan believe that a successful war against Iraq will
produce other benefits, such as serving an object lesson for nations
such as Iran and Syria. Rumsfeld, as befits his sensitive position,
puts it rather gently. If a regime change were to take place in Iraq,
other nations pursuing weapons of mass destruction "would get the
message that having them . . . is attracting attention that is not
favorable and is not helpful," he says.
Kagan is more blunt.
"People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react," he
notes. "Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet
since we started blowing things up."
The cost of such a global commitment would be enormous. In 2000,
we spent $281 billion on our military, which was more than the next
11 nations combined. By 2003, our expenditures will have risen to
$378 billion. In other words, the increase in our defense budget from
1999-2003 will be more than the total amount spent annually by
China, our next largest competitor.
The lure of empire is ancient and powerful, and over the millennia it
has driven men to commit terrible crimes on its behalf. But with the
end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, a
global empire was essentially laid at the feet of the United States. To
the chagrin of some, we did not seize it at the time, in large part
because the American people have never been comfortable with
themselves as a New Rome.
Now, more than a decade later, the events of Sept. 11 have given
those advocates of empire a new opportunity to press their case with
a new president. So in debating whether to invade Iraq, we are really
debating the role that the United States will play in the years and
decades to come.
Are peace and security best achieved by seeking strong alliances
and international consensus, led by the United States? Or is it
necessary to take a more unilateral approach, accepting and
enhancing the global dominance that, according to some, history has
thrust upon us?
If we do decide to seize empire, we should make that decision
knowingly, as a democracy. The price of maintaining an empire is
always high. Kagan and others argue that the price of rejecting it
would be higher still.
That's what this is about.
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