"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

My Photo
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, July 29, 2005

Americans Losing in Iraq and Lebanon is on Brink of Civil War

By George Galloway

07/29/05 "Al Bawaba" -- -- British MP (member of parliament) George Galloway told Al Bawaba on Wednesday that the Americans are losing the war in Iraq as he also warned that the forerunners of a civil war are peeking in on Lebanon.

He also called on the Lebanese opposition not to transform Lebanon into “a knife in Syria’s back". Galloway also criticized British Premier Tony Blair vehemently for denying the connection between his country’s participation in the invasion of Iraq and the London explosions.

Galloway, who arrived in Amman on a leg of his Middle East tour, said “the Americans are losing the war,” pointing out that the losses they incurred in Iraq since the invasion in April 2003 are approaching the size of their losses during the same period of time during the Vietnam war.

Galloway said that the American army’s announcement yesterday of the death of four of their soldiers in an explosion west of Baghdad brought the total number of deaths to nearly two thousand. Additionally, about ten times that number has been wounded - 10 percent of whom are permanently amputated and/or disabled.

Galloway, who heads the British opposition party “Respect”, said it was unlikely that the US-led foreign forces would withdraw from Iraq in 2005, as indicated by information that purportedly leaked from the British and US Ministries of Defense.

Galloway said he did not believe they would withdraw in 2006, and that the aim of this "misinformation" is somewhat of an enduring practice aimed at procrastination and diverting the attention from the demands for withdrawal.

"The United States ties its withdrawal from Iraq to the building an Iraqi armed forces capable of maintaining their own security in the country."

This, Galloway believes, is unachievable and, accordingly, "the foreign forces will not leave in the coming years."

The British MP who is known for his fierce opposition to the war, expected further deterioration in the security situation in Iraq in the absence of a definite timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces that is being demanded by the resistance.

“I believe that the resistance will grow stronger and stronger, and the occupiers will pay dearly”, he said referring to foreign forces in Iraq. He added that the situation in Iraq is extremely dangerous. “No one can predict if the occupiers will leave on their own accord, or if the resistance has come closer to achieving its goal (of driving the occupying forces out).”

Iraqi invasion and the London explosions

Galloway blasted the British Prime Minister for denying the connection between his country’s invasion of Iraq and the London Underground explosions on 7 July that killed 56 people.

According to Galloway, the result of a poll published by the Times on Wednesday showed that 65% of Britons believe there is a connection between their country’s participation in the invasion of Iraq and the explosions…but Blair has emphatically denied such a relation.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Blair renewed his condemnation of any explosions in Palestine, Iraq, London, Egypt, Turkey or the United States. However, Galloway derided Blair’s insistence that such a relationship existed, and said “even the blind could see the connection.”

“Even the ordinary person on the street can see the absurdity in saying that there is no connection between the Muslim’s anger and the explosions in London’s underground and buses following the UK’s participation in two wars against two Muslim countries in which more than 50,000 people were killed…this is unreasonable”. “The two occupations (of Iraq and Afghanistan) must end. If you want to continue with it, you must admit the relation between the two events,” he added.

Galloway also strongly condemned the explosions which he considered “unjustifiable”. He described what took place in London as mass murder of innocent civilians. “It is a crime in any language, in any religion”. Not withstanding the London explosions, public polls indicate that Blair’s popularity has risen.

Galloway said that “Blair wants to make a new 9/11 and we want to make another Madrid out of the London explosions, but both have not happened yet.” Galloway has also expressed his outrage and disgust at the strict terror laws Britain is trying to advance. These new laws, in addition to wider privileges in surveillance and investigation of those suspected of having links with terrorists, are expected to punish those that incite terrorism and/or prepare and train terrorists. They also give the British government more flexibility towards deportation and the refusal of entry of those suspected of either being terrorists or having links to those suspected of it.

Galloway described these proposals as very dangerous and a slap in the face of free speech. "This law means that, let us say, I said something having to do with supporting resistance in Iraq and Palestine, and what I said moved you to convince another person to carry out a terrorist act, I become subject to trial,” he explained. “I could be on trial every day once these new proposals become law,” he joked.

On the issue of the Muslim community in England, he admits that “Muslims there are very concerned, and they have the right to be, especially since they believe that these laws are targeting them in view of the fact that the perpetrators came from the Muslim community in this country.”

Lebanon is a knife in Syria’s back

On the issue of Lebanon, Galloway, who visited that country priorto his stop in Amman and is scheduled to visit Syria on Thursday, warned that a civil war is on the brink in Lebanon. He also called upon the Lebanese opposition not to transform Lebanon into a “knife in Syria’s back”.

During his visit to Lebanon, he felt that the elements of the Lebanese civil war, which ended in 1989, are now back and Lebanon has become a dangerous place now, alluding to Michel Aoun’s return and Samir Ja’ja’s release from jail, both of whom are primary architects in the 15-year civil war.

Lebanon is currently witnessing an ‘atmosphere of war’ following the February 14 assasination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in a powerful explosion that rocked downtown Beirut and the subsequent explosions targeting key Lebanese political figures.

Hariri’s assassination triggered a wave of demonstrations by the opposition and the general public in a first of its kind display of Arab ‘street-power’ that led to Arab and international pressure that culminated in Lebanon’s emancipation from Syria.

Galloway called upon the Lebanese opposition “not to allow Lebanon to turn into the knife in Syria’s back and to better understand America’s intentions.

“America wants to use Lebanon to add more pressure on Syria and to push it to collapse because of its persistent support of Hezbollah, the Palestinian resistance, its rejection of the foreign occupation of Iraq and its unwillingness to be more vigilant with its Iraqi borders.”

He also added that the American Administration, in collaboration with its European allies, have purposely rekindled the Kurds’ demand for separation from Syria, escalating the pressure on that country. But Galloway said it was improbable that the US would risk invading Syria or undertaking a military operation in Southern Lebanon that would force Hezbollah to disarm, as it does not want a repeat of the bloody impasse its forces are currently facing in Iraq.

Playing with fire

The British MP is also warning the Arabs of what is being contrived against them, especially by the neoconservatives in the American Administration. He believes that the old Sykes–Picot agreement has become ineffective and one should expect a new same-style carve-up of the region. He expects geographical changes in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret agreement between the French and British colonial powers during the earlier part of the 20th century that would effectively shape the borders and countries of the present Middle East and ensure a viable Jewish state in what was Palestine.

He said that the new Zionist-Christian Conservatives in the US administration have an interest in keeping things unstable as it weakens the regional governments and diverts attention from US and Israeli interests in the Middle East. Commenting on the open dialogues between US administration officials and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Egypt, he said “they are playing with fire.”

“By trying to bring these groups to terms and allying with them, America thinks it is holding the tiger by the tail, but you cannot do that to a tiger because it is a tiger”. “The Americans have not learned a lesson from Al-Qaidah…when they discovered that the formations that they thought they had created in Afghanistan bit them hard. They continue to make the same mistake.”

In the 1980s, the CIA helped train Afghanis and Muslims under the umbrella of Al-Qaida in their fight against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Afghanistan, Al-Qaida took on the task of ridding Saudi Arabia and the Middle East of US military presence. It is also being held responsible for the 9/11 attacks in New York.

“You want to solve the problems of the Middle East in one easy step, create a viable Palestinian state…dancing around the issue is of no help to anyone,” he concluded.

© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

Lets Not Forget

Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President

15 September 2002: A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001.

The blueprint, uncovered by the Sunday Herald, for the creation of a 'global Pax Americana' was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice- president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), George W Bush's younger brother Jeb and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, was written in September 2000 by the neo-conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'

The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.

This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.

The report describes American armed forces abroad as 'the cavalry on the new American frontier'. The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document written by Wolfowitz and Libby that said the US must 'discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role'.

The PNAC report also:

l refers to key allies such as the UK as 'the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership';

l describes peace-keeping missions as 'demanding American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations';

l reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;

l says 'even should Saddam pass from the scene' bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently -- despite domestic opposition in the Gulf regimes to the stationing of US troops -- as 'Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has';

l spotlights China for 'regime change' saying 'it is time to increase the presence of American forces in southeast Asia'. This, it says, may lead to 'American and allied power providing the spur to the process of democratisation in China';

l calls for the creation of 'US Space Forces', to dominate space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent 'enemies' using the internet against the US;

l hints that, despite threatening war against Iraq for developing weapons of mass destruction, the US may consider developing biological weapons -- which the nation has banned -- in decades to come. It says: 'New methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal', biological -- will be more widely available ... combat likely will take place in new dimensions, in space, cyberspace, and perhaps the world of microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool';

l and pinpoints North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran as dangerous regimes and says their existence justifies the creation of a 'world-wide command-and-control system'.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons and one of the leading rebel voices against war with Iraq, said: 'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war.

'This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world. I am appalled that a British Labour Prime Minister should have got into bed with a crew which has this moral standing.'

Neil Mackay
©2002 smg sunday newspapers ltd

Iraq-Niger: Cheney and the Forgery

By now it should be clear that the White House assault on former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife had much less to do with personalities than with the “particular lie” that Wilson exposed. I believe this helps to explain the highly unusual role Vice President Dick Cheney played regarding the forged “intelligence” about Iraq seeking to acquire uranium from Niger—the source of that particular lie.

Our Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) writings provide contemporaneous insight into the major flap that hit the White House two years ago, when it was discovered that the “intelligence” was based on a forgery. It was clear at that time that the first item on the White House list of talking points was: “It wasn’t Dick.”

Plus ça change. Investigative journalist Robert Parry, writing yesterday in consortiumnews.com, has noted that atop the Republican National Committee’s current list of “Joe Wilson’s Top Ten Worst Inaccuracies and Misstatements” sits this priority item: “Wilson insisted that the Vice President’s office sent him to Niger.”

This is a deliberate distortion of what Wilson has said, but if we were to address all such distortions we would be here all day. Besides, the RNC would very much like us to focus on the distortions, and our media have allowed themselves to be led by the nose. So let’s leave this one aside for the moment. What strikes me more and more is the rather transparent two-year-old campaign to dissociate Cheney from L’Affaire Iraq-Niger.

On July 14, 2003, the day of Robert Novak’s opening salvo against the Wilsons, VIPS issued a Memorandum for the President (http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0714-01.htm) with two main sections: “The Forgery Flap,” and “The Vice President’s Role.” In that memo, we also made an important recommendation, which may have seemed a bit extreme at the time. But it was already possible to discern what was going on:

We recommend that you call an abrupt halt to attempts to prove Vice President Cheney “not guilty.” His role has been so transparent that such attempts will only erode further your own credibility. Equally pernicious, from our perspective, is the likelihood that intelligence analysts will conclude that the way to success is to acquiesce in the cooking of their judgments, since those above them will not be held accountable. We strongly recommend that you ask for Cheney’s immediate resignation.

Protesting (or Protecting) Too Much

We were all children once. Remember how, when you and your peers got caught in some mischief, the ringleader had to be protected? “Who decided to do this terrible thing?” was often the question. “Not Dick (or Tom or Harry)” was often the instinctive, immediate answer. Remember how, as a parent, that made you really wonder about Dick (or Tom or Harry)?

In our memo of July 14, 2003, we warned President George W. Bush that the Iraq-seeking-uranium-in-Niger forgery was “a microcosm of a mischievous nexus of overarching problems” in his White House. We cited the remarks of then-presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer earlier that week, which set the tone for what has followed—right up to today. When asked about the forgery Fleischer noted—as if drawing on well memorized talking points—that the vice president was not guilty of anything. (The denial was gratuitous; the question asked did not even mention the vice president’s possible role.) And the liturgy of absolution continued on July 11, 2003, when then-director of the CIA, George Tenet, did his awkward best to absolve the vice president of responsibility.

The “Particular Lie” and Forgery

As noted earlier, the main motivation of the White House campaign to discredit the Wilsons had to do with the particular lie that Joseph Wilson exposed and the essential role it played in the administration’s plans. The lie was that Iraq was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons and that, despite Iraq’s inability to deliver such weapons on the U.S., this somehow posed a “grave and gathering” threat. The plans were to use that ominous specter—replete with the “mushroom cloud”—to deceive Congress into approving war on Iraq. The problem was that not even the obsequious George Tenet could come up with evidence that could withstand close scrutiny.

U.N. inspectors and U.S. intelligence knew that Iraq’s nuclear program had been destroyed after the Gulf War and there was no persuasive evidence that Baghdad was moving to reconstitute it. Even the imagery analysts, whom former CIA director John Deutch gave away to the Pentagon in 1996, could not come up with the evidence needed, despite very strong incentive to please their boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

What a welcome windfall, then, when a deus ex machina suddenly appeared in the form of a report issued by the Defense Intelligence Agency on February 12, 2002. According to the exhaustive report of the Senate intelligence committee on U.S. intelligence performance on Iraq, the DIA report was based on information the CIA had included in a field report a week before from a “[foreign] government service.” Although State Department and other intelligence analysts had earlier labeled such reporting “highly suspect,” the DIA report of February 12, 2002 included no judgments regarding credibility.

Cheney Highly Interested

Oddly, the DIA report was flagged for Vice President Cheney. Why “oddly?” Because in more than two years of briefing then-Vice President George H. W. Bush every other morning, not once did he ask a question about a DIA report or even indicate that he had read one. That this particular report was given to Cheny almost certainly reflects the widespread practice of “cherry picking” intelligence—a practice honed to a fine art by the current administration—and suggests perhaps even more. It seems to me a safe bet that the DIA report was prepared in a response to a request from the vice president’s office to come up with something on the subject that could be shown to the president—something not burdened by caveats regarding source and content from troublesome substantive experts.

Vice President Cheney immediately expressed interest in the report. According to the Senate intelligence committee, he asked his CIA morning briefer for CIA’s analysis of the issue. And this, of course, is what set in motion CIA’s hurried request of Joe Wilson that he go back to Niger to pursue the matter. When you receive a direct request from the vice president you leave no stone unturned.

The Senate intelligence committee report includes this portion of the CIA immediate response to Cheney’s expression of interest:

“Information on the alleged uranium contract between Iraq and Niger comes exclusively from a foreign government service report that lacks crucial details, and we are working to clarify the information and to determine whether it can be corroborated...Some of the information in the report contradicts reporting from the U.S. embassy in Niamey [Niger]. U.S. diplomats say the French government-led consortium that operates Niger’s two uranium mines maintains complete control over uranium mining and yellowcake production.”

When the vice president of the United States expresses interest so keen that that an immediate interim response is deemed necessary, it is certain that the CIA will place considerable priority on reporting back to the vice president the results of its follow-up efforts—the more so, since in its initial response, the it said it was “working to clarify the information and determine whether it can be corroborated.” Thus, the pretense by administration officials that the vice president was never briefed on the results of former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s inquiries in Niamey stretches credulity well beyond the breaking point.

Moreover, according to the Senate report, in bending over backwards to oblige the vice president, the agency sent a separate message to him naming the “foreign government service.” This raises the question as to why Cheney would be interested in such detail, since such is not normally provided absent a specific request. In any case, it is clear that Dick Cheney knows more about the forgery’s provenance than the rest of us do.

Made to Order

The information—dubious or no—that Iraq was seeking uranium in Niger was made to order (perhaps literally, as I suggest below). Since Iraq had no other use for uranium, a closely coordinated White House-10 Downing Street spin machine went into high gear, playing up the report as proof that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear weapons development program. The intelligence analysts had to hold their noses—not only because of the dubious sourcing but because the substance of the report made little sense in view of the super-strict monitoring of uranium exports from Niger by the French-led consortium. To substantive analysts the report was spurious on its face; only later were they to learn that it was based on a crude forgery.

Provenance and likelihood be damned. The White House now had a “report” that could be used effectively with Congress and our incredibly credulous press. Tenet could be counted on to keep his nose-holding professionals out of sight. And the nature of the source, which, according to the “[foreign] government service,” included the “verbatim text” of the Iraq-Niger agreement on uranium, could be kept from experts like those at the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) until after the vote in Congress and after the juggernaut for war could not be stopped. The Iraq-seeking-uranium-from-Africa canard assumed such prominent importance in the administration’s case for war that, even when it was forced to admit that a forgery was involved, the story simply could not be dropped altogether—either in Washington or in London. Both governments proceeded to blow still more smoke on the affair, claiming that London had the story from other sources as well.

Thus, none of us in VIPS were in the least surprised to learn recently of the line taken by Karl Rove with Time reporter Matthew Cooper on July 11, 2003. In an email that Cooper sent his bosses at Time, Cooper said Rove insisted that Wilson’s findings on Iraq-Niger were flawed. According to Cooper, Rove “implied strongly there’s still plenty to implicate Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium from Niger.” That was false. Neither British nor U.S. intelligence has come up with anything throwing the slightest doubt on Wilson’s conclusion that the whole thing was bogus.

Who Did It?

Who authored the forgery remains a mystery—but one that the Republican-controlled Congress has avoided trying to solve, even though many legislators expressed outrage at having been snookered into voting for war. Senate intelligence committee chair Pat Roberts, a devout White House loyalist, has demonstrated a curious lack of curiosity. And nothing that ranking minority member Jay Rockefeller did could persuade Roberts to ask the FBI to investigate.

So those searching for answers are reduced to asking the obvious: Cui bono? Who stood to benefit from such a forgery? A no-brainer—those lusting for war on Iraq. And who might they be? Look up the “neo-conservative” writings on the website of the Project for the New American Century. There you will find information on people like Michael Ledeen, “Freedom Analyst” at the American Enterprise Institute and a key strategist among “neoconservative” hawks in and out of the Bush administration. Applauding the invasion of Iraq, Ledeen asserted—with equal enthusiasm—that the war could not be contained, and that “it may turn out to be a war to remake the world.”

Beyond his geopolitical punditry, Ledeen’s curriculum vitae shows he is no stranger to rogue operations. A longtime Washington operative, he was fired as a “consultant” for the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan for running fool’s errands for Oliver North during the Iran-Contra subterfuge. One of Ledeen’s Iran-Contra partners in crime, so to speak, was Elliot Abrams, who was convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra. Abrams was pardoned before jail time, however, by George H. W. Bush, and he is now George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser. Ledeen is said to enjoy easy entrée to the office of the vice president and the Pentagon, as well as to his friend Abrams.

Made in the U.S.A?

During a radio interview with Ian Masters on April 3, 2005, former CIA operative Vincent Cannistraro charged that the Iraq-Niger documents were forged in the United States. Drawing on earlier speculation regarding who forged the documents, Masters asked, “If I were to say the name Michael Ledeen to you, what would you say?” Cannistraro replied, “You’re very close.”

Ledeen has denied having anything to do with the forgery. Yet the company he keeps with other prominent Iran-Contra convictees/pardonees/intelligence contractors suggests otherwise. Besides, Ledeen has had a longstanding association with the Italian intelligence service, which, according to most accounts, played an important role in disseminating the forged documents. Could Italian intelligence be the “[foreign] government service” mentioned repeatedly in the Senate intelligence committee report?

If Ledeen and associates were involved, this might also help explain the amateurishness of the forged “verbatim texts.” These covert action veterans would have sorely missed the institutional expertise formerly at their beck and call.

The Cover-up: the Best Defense Is.....

It is a safe bet that Joseph Wilson suspected this kind of skullduggery. He nevertheless played it straight. After hearing the bogus Iraq-Niger story repeated in the president’s January 28, 2003 state-of-the-union address and ascertaining that it was based primarily on the original report, Wilson began to approach administration officials suggesting that they retract the story or he would in conscience be compelled to make public what had happened. He was told, in effect, Go ahead; who will believe you? So he did.

Astonishingly, the administration and our domesticated “mainstream” press have succeeded to a large extent in making Wilson’s credibility the issue—witness, for example, last week’s frontal assault by fast-talking, no-holds-barred Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman.

Joseph Wilson had been around long enough to know what to expect. Moreover, the White House apparently made it very clear that they would make him pay if he went public. Three weeks before The New York Times published Wilson’s op-ed “What I Did Not Find in Africa,” he and I shared keynoting duties at a conference on Iraq. It was the first time I met Wilson. He told me then that he was about to publish. I remember him adding, with considerable emphasis, “They are going to come after me big-time. I don’t know exactly how, but they are going to do it.” Well, now we know how; and why.

Last week it became clear that Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was as active as Karl Rove in doing the job on the Wilsons. Surprise, surprise.

We ended our July 14 Memorandum for the President from VIPS with this reminder:

This was no case of petty corruption of the kind that forced Vice President Spiro Agnew to resign. This was a matter of war and peace. Thousands have died. There is no end in sight.

And that was two years ago.
Ray McGovern
Submitted by davidswanson on Mon, 2005-07-25 13:42. Evidence
Ray McGovern works at Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He had a 27-year career as an analyst at CIA and is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

An earlier version of this article appeared on TomPaine.com

Oil and Blood

It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget.

A wiser leader would begin to cut some of these losses. But the whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the Middle East and its precious oil reserves, which have been described, the author Daniel Yergin tells us, as "the greatest single prize in all history."

You can run through all the wildly varying rationales for this war: the weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), the need to remove the unmitigated evil of Saddam (whom we had once cozied up to), the connection to Al Qaeda (which was bogus), and one of President Bush's favorites, the need to fight the terrorists "over there" so we won't have to fight them here at home.

All the rationales have to genuflect before "The Prize," which was the title of Mr. Yergin's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book.

It's the oil, stupid.

What has so often gotten lost in all the talk about terror and weapons of mass destruction is the fact that for so many of the most influential members of the Bush administration, the obsessive desire to invade Iraq preceded the Sept. 11 attacks. It preceded the Bush administration. The neoconservatives were beating the war drums on Iraq as far back as the late 1990's.

Iraq was supposed to be a first step. Iran was also in the neoconservatives' sights. The neocons envisaged U.S. control of the region (and its oil), to be followed inevitably by the realization of their ultimate dream, a global American empire. Of course it sounds like madness, which is why we should have been paying closer attention from the beginning.

The madness took a Dr. Strangelovian turn in the summer of 2002, before the war with Iraq was launched. As The Washington Post first reported, an influential Pentagon advisory board was given a briefing prepared by a Rand Corporation analyst who said the U.S. should consider seizing the oil fields and financial assets of Saudi Arabia if it did not stop its support of terrorism.

Mercifully the briefing went nowhere. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it did not represent the "dominant opinion" within the administration.

The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but the primary consideration is that there is still a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. And neocon fantasies aside, the global competition for the planet's finite oil reserves intensifies by the hour.

Lyndon Johnson ignored the unsolicited advice of Senator George Aiken of Vermont - to declare victory in Vietnam in 1966. The war continued for nearly a decade. Many high-level government figures believe that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for a minimum of 5 more years, and perhaps 10.

That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely.

Bob Herbert

© 2005 New York Times

Frist the Traitor

Frist Support for Specter’s Embryo Research Funding Bill Called “Betrayal”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has broken with President Bush by giving his support to a bill that proposes to expand federal funding for unethical embryonic stem cell research. The Bill, strongly opposed by conservative lawmakers, pro-life family groups and the White House is sponsored by pro-abortion Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

AScribe Newswire quotes Michael Munger, an expert in congressional-presidential relations, stating, "The Bush administration will consider this a betrayal."

Frist, who supported legislative attempts to save the life of Terri Schiavo, appears to have lost the thread on the use of embryonic human beings as fodder for medical experiments. The Tennessee Senator justified his flip-flop by stating on the floor of the Senate today, “It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science.”

Senator Frist may be unaware that thus far the hope of embryo research producing any cures whatever is daily growing more remote as ethical adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell research continues to far outstrip it in actual results.

The Senator from Tennessee, a heart-lung transplant surgeon, said as recently as a month ago that he did not support public funding of embryo research “at this juncture.” He announced his turn-around this morning in a lengthy Senate speech saying, “We should expand federal funding and the accompanying (National Institutes of Health) oversight and current guidelines governing stem-cell research, carefully and thoughtfully staying within ethical bounds.”

Frist's comment about “ethics,” however, is nonsensical if the humanity of the human embryo is understood. If he is referring to the “ethical bounds” set by the so-called bioethicists who advise governments around the world on crafting public policy on embryo research, he is making a circular argument. Bioethicists are in complete agreement that an embryo is not a human person deserving of any legal protection whatever. The strongest ethical objection that is possible to embryo research is one that totally precludes using them for experimental research.

Understanding this, the Bush administration limited public funding for embryo research to those stem cell lines already created from embryos. Since that funding restriction, the biotechnology lobby has been putting immense pressure on the government to reverse its policy.

The proposed bill has passed the House and now stands a better chance in the Senate after Frist's endorsement. White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated the President’s stand against further funding for embryo research after Frist made his speech.

The turn-around is surprising to pro-life observers moreover, since Frist, as recently as last October, slammed Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards for his support of embryo research. Frist said in October 2004, in an apparent reference to the fact that even stem cell researchers have admitted that embryo research is failing to offer progress on finding cures, “It is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic diseases, and, on top of that, it's dishonest.”

“Stem cell research is promising,” Frist said then. “The president vigorously promotes adult and embryonic stem cell research, but he does it with an ethical and moral framework.”

Significantly, after Frist’s speech, stock prices for stem cell research companies rose sharply with that of leading company, StemCells Inc., increasing nearly 21%. Embryonic stem cell research is seen to be a potentially far more lucrative source of financial profit for researchers and drug companies than adult stem cell research which does not involve selling stem cells and does not require subsequent life-time use of anti-rejection drugs.

Pro-life groups were quick to respond. “Sen. Frist cannot have it both ways. He cannot be pro-life and pro-embryonic stem cell funding. Nor can he turn around and expect widespread endorsement from the pro-life community if he should decide to run,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

See related LifeSiteNews.com report:


Specter Backpedaling for His Political Life Against Tidal Wave of Opposition

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com)