(Cont'd...The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War

Richard W. Behan
(Cont'd...The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War
Mon Dec 4, 2006 19:20

Carlyle has profited immensely from the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. Its legal matters are handled by Baker, Botts—James Baker’s law firm in Texas. Mr. Baker also has a personal interest in Carlyle, amounting to some $180 million. (Baker, Botts defended Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, who was sued by the families of Trade Tower victims for alleged complicity in the attacks.) Another client of Baker, Botts is Exxon-Mobil.

In September of 2000, with the Presidential election approaching, the Project for a New American Century published a report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” The PNAC once more advocated pre-emptive war, i.e., premeditated war, something unprecedented in the U.S. history, but it realized what a radical departure that would represent. Moving to such a mindset would be long and difficult, in the absence of “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.”

When President Bush assumed office three other members of the Project for a New American Century joined his administration: Richard Cheney, Douglas Feith, and Lewis Libby. Pre-emptive, premeditated war was formally adopted when the President signed the National Security Strategy early in his tenure.

So the twists and turns, convulsions, and complexity of people and ideas continued, and so did the jockeying for the world’s oil wealth, but still nothing illegal or unconstitutional had been done.

The rationale, the urge, and the planning, however, for attacking both Afghanistan and Iraq were in place. But to attack a sovereign nation unprovoked would enrage the American people—and much of the world, as well. The Bush Administration bided its time.

The preparations had all been done secretly, wholly within the executive branch. The Congress was not informed until the endgame of the premeditation, when President Bush, making his dishonest case for the “war on terror” asked for and was granted the discretion to use military force. The American people were equally denied information of critical public importance. Probably never before in our history was such a drastic and momentous action undertaken with so little knowledge or oversight: the dispatch of America’s armed forces into five years of violence.

The story of George Bush’s premeditated wars now enters its final chapter.

The catastrophic event takes place. A hijacked airliner probably en route to the White House crashes in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon is afire, and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are rubble.

In the first hours of frenetic response, fully aware of al Qaeda’s culpability, both President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld seek frantically to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks, we know from on site-witnesses. They are anxious to proceed with their planned invasion. And less than a week later, at a meeting of the National Security Council, President Bush ordered the Defense Department to be ready to handle Iraq, “possibly occupying Iraqi oil fields.”

The controversies rage on yet today about the events of September 11, 2001. No steel building has ever collapsed from fire alone. Buildings falling precisely into their footprints are the marks of deliberate (and expert) demolition. The faulty construction/foreshortened lifespan/insurance angle. The collapse of a third building that was not hit at all. The short-selling of airline stock in previous days. The Pentagon hit by a missile, not a civilian airliner. Michael Rupert’s book “Crossing the Rubicon” lays the blame for 9/11 directly at Dick Cheney’s feet. Senator Robert Dole’s former chief of staff, Mr. Stanley Hilton, claims he can prove George Bush signed an order authorizing the attacks. Half the people polled in New York city believed the Bush Administration had prior knowledge of the attack, and “consciously failed” to act. Et cetera.

(Conspiracy is forever easier to see than to find, but that does not obviate the need to seek thoroughly the whole truth about 9/11, and that has yet to be done.)

Involving the Bush Administration in the execution of 9/11, or even accommodating their informed inaction, is almost too appalling to contemplate. But if they needed a reason to proceed with their planned invasions, they could not have been handed a more fortuitous and spectacular excuse.

9/11 was a criminal act of terrorism, not a violation of our entire nation’s security. Comparing it, as the Bush Administration immediately did, to Pearl Harbor was ludicrous: the hijacked airliners were not the vanguard of a formidable naval armada, an air force, and a standing army ready to engage in all out war, as the Japanese were prepared to do and did in 1941. 9/11 was a shocking event of unprecedented scale, but to characterize it as an invasion of national security was criminal. It was creating reality. It was also, and in the extreme, surreal, because the Bush Administration chose consciously to frighten the American people beyond any conceivable necessity. It adopted fear mongering as a mode of governance.

As not a few disinterested observers noted at the time, international criminal terrorism is best countered by international police action, which Israel and other nations have proven many times over to be effective.

Then why was a “war” declared on “terrorists and states that harbor terrorists?”

The pre-planned attack on Afghanistan, as we have seen, was meant to nullify the contract between the Taliban and the Bridas Corporation, to assure access to the Caspian Basin riches for American oil companies. It was a pure play of international energy policy. It had nothing to do, as designed, with apprehending Osama bin Laden—a pure play of security policy.

But the two “seemingly unrelated areas of policy” had been “melded,” so here was an epic opportunity to bait-and-switch--and the opportunity was not missed for a moment. Conjoining the terrorist and the state that harbored him made a “war” plausible: it would be necessary to overthrow the Taliban as well as to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. (As it turned out, of course, the Taliban was overthrown instead of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, but the energy policy goal was achieved, at least. And years later President Bush was astonishing in his candor, when he admitted “Osama bin Laden isn’t important.”)

The first monstrous and intentional deception—the declaration of a “war on terror”—took place. There was no talk of contracts, pipelines, or Argentinian oil companies. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were cleverly, ingeniously conflated, and there was only talk of war.

On October 7, 2001 the carpet of bombs is unleashed over Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the former Unocal consultant, is installed as head of an interim government. Subsequently he is elected President of Afghanistan, and welcomes the first U.S. envoy—Mr. John J. Maresca, Vice President for International Relations of the Unocal Corporation, who had implored Congress three years previously to have the Taliban overthrown. Mr. Maresca was succeeded by Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad—also a former Unocal consultant. (Mr. Khalilzad has since become Ambassador to Iraq.)

With the Taliban banished and the Bridas contract moot, Presidents Karzai of Afghanistan and Musharraf of Pakistan meet on February 8, 2002, sign an agreement for a new pipeline, and the way forward is open for Unocal once more.

The Bridas contract was breached by US military force, but behind the combat was Unocal. Bridas sued Unocal in the US courts for contract interference, and in 2004 it won, overcoming Richard Ben Veniste’s law firm. That firm had multibillion dollar interests in the Caspian Basin, and shared an office in Uzbekistan with the Enron Corporation. In 2004, Mr. Ben Veniste was serving as a 9/11 Commissioner.

About a year after the Karzai/Musharraf agreement was signed, an article appeared in “Alexander’s Gas and Oil Connections,” an obscure trade publication. It described the readiness of three US federal agencies to finance the prospective pipeline, and how “…the United States was willing to police the pipeline infrastructure through permanent stationing of it troops in the region.” The article appeared on February 23, 2003.

The objective of the first premeditated war was now achieved. The Bush Administration stood ready with financing to build the pipeline across Afghanistan, and with a permanent military presence to protect it.

Within two months President Bush sent the military might of America sweeping into Iraq.

The second round of deliberate deception was more egregious by far.

Alleging a relationship between bin Laden’s al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan had at least some basis in fact. Alleging a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein simply did not. And the weapons-of-mass-destruction argument was equally fraudulent, we know now. But the bait-and-switch “war on terrorism” would continue. “Cakewalk.” The staging of the Jessica Lynch rescue. The toppling of the statue in Baghdad. Mission accomplished. The orchestrated capture of Saddam Hussein. And the barrage of managed perception continues to this day.

The smokescreen includes the coverup of the 9/11 attacks on the Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Initially and fiercely resisting any inquiry at all, President Bush finally appoints a 10-person “9/11 Commission.” Its report places the blame on “faulty intelligence.” President Bush and Vice President Cheney are accorded breathtaking courtesies in the inquiry: they are not required to testify under oath, and they need not even testify separately. At the insistence of the White House, they are “interviewed” together in the Oval Office, with no transcription permitted.

The apparent manipulation of pre-war intelligence is not addressed by the 9/11 Commission, the veracity President Bush’s many statements is assumed without question, and the troubling incongruities of 9/11 are ignored.

Many of the 10 commissioners, however, were burdened with stunning conflicts of interest—Mr. Ben Veniste, for example— mostly by their connections to the oil and defense industries, both of which were benefited beyond measure (and doubt) by the Mid East conflicts.

Then the Abu Ghraib horrors came to the surface. Then the spectacular cronyism of the no-bid contracts, with Mr. Cheney and his former company, Halliburton, becoming the icons of corruption. Then the domestic spying issue. Torrents of exposÚs were published, while Iraq descended into the hellish quagmire of insurgency and civil war—with Afghanistan belatedly following suit.

On November 7, 2006 the American people said, “Enough!” By any measure—by public acclaim—the last six years have been a national tragedy and a national disgrace.

In spite of the Democrats’ united message rejecting it, many citizens are calling actively for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and perhaps others. (Secretary Rumsfeld has left the Administration, but faces prosecution under German law.)

The story told here has to be considered “circumstantial.” None of it results from testimony under oath, none of it has been admitted as legal evidence in a jurisprudential undertaking, and the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven remains axiomatic. And we might well reiterate the humane and civil plea, heard frequently after 9/11: what we need is justice, not vengeance.

We should not proceed directly to impeachment. At the very least, however, the story of George Bush’s premeditated wars raises questions of presidential dereliction as grave as any in our history.

We need to know the truth and all the truth. The time has come, as well as the opportunity, for formal, Congressional investigations, based on subpoenas, sworn testimony, and direct evidence about 9/11 and about the created reality of the “war on terror.”

The new Congress has no greater Constitutional duty than to find this truth and display it, if our nightmarish politics is to end. If such inquiries clearly exonerate the Bush Administration, the nation can breathe deeply and go on. If they do not, then but only then should impeachment be undertaken.

To fail in this responsibility is to condone the surreal political discourse the Bush Administration has imposed. That could render it the permanent condition of American governance.

Richard W. Behan's last book was Plundered Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and the Fate of the Federal Lands (Island Press, 2001). He is currently working on a more broadly rendered critique, To Provide Against Invasions: Corporate Dominion and America’s Derelict Democracy. He can be reached by email at rwbehan@rockisland.com .

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