This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
"What I'm really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over,"
Stars and Stripes reports -- Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he is not part of a religious order waging war on Islam despite recent assertions by acclaimed journalist Seymour Hersh.Speaking in Qatar earlier this week, Hersh claimed that McChrystal and current members of the special operations community are members of the Knights of Malta and Opus Dei.
"They do see what they're doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function."
Officials with U.S. Special Operations Command declined to comment on Hersh's allegations.
Text as delivered of a speech by journalist Seymour Hersh in Doha, Qatar, on Jan. 17, 2011.
I don't know how to describe Obama, as somebody who's now in office for two years. Just when we needed an angry black man, we didn't get one. He has a nice dog.
Let's just do a checklist of what... We know a lot about Bush-Cheney. I've been doing a book for the last couple years about Cheney, basically based on people I knew that were inside... I've learned the truth that if people... You know, it's inevitable in a bureaucracy: You're a one-star general and you get assigned to the vice president's office... [cross talk] ... and maybe you knew him when he was secretary of defense under George Bush I in the first Gulf War when he was rational, so it seems, didn't want to, easily abandoned... and defended George Bush's decision not to go into Baghdad, if you remember, when we had that slaughter that we had that we called Gulf War I. But he was a different person after 9/11, as I think most of you have some sense of.
And so, I did know people in that process, and I couldn't write much about it. How to describe the Bush-Cheney years would be... I was telling a group of faculty people earlier -- and the book I'm doing isn't published, I don't want to talk too much about it -- but just to give you an idea of how differently they thought... As many dark thoughts as you may have about what America did after 9/11, whatever the justification was... I would argue that, what I'm really writing about is, about how eight or nine neoconservative whackos, if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over. And it's not only that. It's not only that the neocons took it over, it's how easily they did it -- how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced. And all of us, I guess, in the sense of payback and rage and fear, tremendous amount of fear in America, and we all sort of signed on to what we call now the global GWOT, the global war on terror which, for this government, [inaudible] still exists.
I talked to somebody the other day in the... [inaudible] ... I'm ruminating here, but I talked to somebody Saturday before I came about Ben Ali -- a man in the intelligence community, a very decent... Believe me, as you can under... it makes total sense. Many people, the overwhelming percentage of people, want to do their job right, whether in the CIA, or the Joint Special Operations Command etc., etc. Around the world, that's just the natural instinct. Everybody wants to do their job right. But I'll just tell you, the thinking that goes on... I mentioned what happened in Tunisia, the implications of which I think will be felt, my guess is, we're talking about, there are a lot of countries in North Africa where there's economic distress as there was in Tunisia -- Morocco, Algeria, etc. -- where we could see a lot of trouble. But, my American friend -- this is somebody in the joint special operations business -- his first remark was, "Oh my God, he was such a good ally."
You know, he was. He was an ally in the Global War on Terror. That's the way we do look at things. Never mind that... maybe he did chase down terrorists, al Qaeda if you will, for us. But you have to wonder (which I did not say to my friend, being reasonably polite at that moment, I did not say that), but for every terrorist we capture, how many more do we make? I mean, how many more... We complain bitterly when Iran captures three American students, they released the woman but the other two men are kept there, we complain bitterly in America about the lack of their jurisprudence and the lack of a good legal system. And how many people are still in GITMO, Guantánamo, suffering away? Over 200 still. We claim we can't get rid of them, nobody wants them, but the truth that if they weren't al Qaeda when we captured them -- and most of them were not, as many of you probably understand -- they are now after 7, 8, 9 years of being incarcerated without any hearings or any rights. So we don't always look at ourselves in ways we should.
In any case, the Cheney-Bush years, I can just describe this scene that I was talking about earlier today, which is that in early April of 2003 after we won, quote-unquote, the war, before the insurgents -- the dead-enders, as Mr. Rumsfeld called it initially -- before they took, before the other war began, the war of attrition, there was looting of the artifacts. There was a big, sort of, it was a huge story in the United States and I'm sure around the world, the various gangs that were looting -- there is a lot of looting in Tunisia right now, it's one of the byproducts of unrest -- the various gangs looted the museums, etc. There was a big hue and cry, and Rumsfeld was asked about it and his basic attitude was sort of: "Boys will be boys," you know, "This is the price of freedom."
So, but in the Cheney shop -- I can write about it in ways I could not then, because I didn't want expose anybody who was there -- in the Cheney shop the attitude was, "What's this? What? What are they all worried about, the politicians and the press, they're all worried about some looting? And wait a second, Sunnis don't like Shia? And there's no WMD? And there's no democracy? Don't they get it? We're going to change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get hold of all the oil, nobody' s going to give a damn." That's the attitude: "We're going to change mosques into cathedrals."
That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command and Stanley McChrystal, the one who got in trouble because of the article in Rolling Stone, and his follow-on, a Navy admiral named McRaven, Bill McRaven -- all are members or at least supporters of Knights of Malta. McRaven attended, so I understand, the recent annual convention of the Knights of Malta they had in Cyprus a few months back in November. They're all believers -- many of them are members of Opus Dei. They do see what they are doing -- and this is not an atypical attitude among some military -- it's a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They're protecting them from the Muslims in the 13th century. And this is their function. They have little insignias, they have coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins, and they have insignia that reflect that, the whole notion that this is a war, it's culture war.
Look, Knights of Malta does great stuff. They do a lot of charity work; so does Opus Dei. It's a very extreme, extremely religious, Roman Catholic sect, if you will. But for me, it's always, when I think of them, I always think of the line we used about Werner von Braun. Werner Von Braun was the German rocket scientist who invented the V-2. And after WWII we had a secret program of bringing and sort of de-Nazifying some of the German scientists who were valuable to our own energy, our own missile program. And we brought him here -- I think it was called PAPERCLIP, the secret program -- and we brought him here to sort of recreate his life. You know, he was this nuclear... he was this scientist, he was a rocket scientist. So there was a wonderful satirist named Tom Lehrer [Mort Sahl -Ed.] -- some of you old-timers might remember him, he wrote ditties. And one of his ditties about Werner von Braun was, oh yes, "Werner von Braun, he aimed for the moon but often hit London." With his rockets. So the trouble with some of these religious groups is they may have good things, but right now there is a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.
So, what is Obama doing? Obama has turned over, I think his first year, basically, he turned over the conduct of the war to the men who are prosecuting it: to Gates, to Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And in early March, as I recreate it -- and nothing is written in stone, but I'm just telling you what I've found in my talking and my working on this over the years -- we have a general running the war in Afghanistan named McKiernan. McKiernan, unlike McChrystal, his deputy at the time Rodriguez, unlike Petraeus, unlike Eikenberry... They were all together at West Point class of 74, 75, 76 -- what they call, we always call the sort of West Point Protective Association. McKiernan was William and Mary, not West Point. And Gates went to see him in March of '09, sort of the first big exploration on behalf of the new Obama administration. What do you need to win the war? Well, the correct answer was, he said, "300,000" -- of course, he knew he wouldn't get it, he was just saying to win that's what it's going to take.
There was a Russian study, the Russians did some wonderful studies after they were sort of beaten to death in Afghanistan (that we called a great victory of America versus the communists, the surrogate war there we fought in the 80s). When the Russians left they did a number of studies that have since been put back in the archives by the Politburo. But when they were out, they showed that, the Russians estimated, just to seal off Pakistan from Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush, 180,000 troops alone just to seal it off so you couldn't get the cross-border stuff that we are so worried about in terms of fighting the war in Afghanistan with the ability of the Taliban to retreat into Pakistan.
And by the way, there were studies done, two large studies done, when we first... right after 9/11, about going into Afghanistan. One was done by [inaudible] one of the war colleges, and they were both extremely critical of the prospects of victory. And there was a drive made to formalize the studies; they were ad hoc studies, and the vice president, then Cheney, sort of stopped them. Nobody wanted to talk about history.
We're sort of, anyway, we hate history in America. We're anti-history, as you know. Else why would we make the same mistake we always do? I remain convinced that if Nguyen Van Thieu -- the South Vietnamese premier in 1975 when South Vietnam fell -- that somehow if we had built a high wall around his palace we would still be airlifting food and supplies and supporting the Democratic Republic of South Vietnam. We don't like to lose, we don't know how to lose, which explains I think a lot of Afghanistan.
In any case, Obama did abdicate, very quickly, any control, I think right away, to the people that are running the war, for what reason I don't know. I can tell you, there is a scorecard I always keep and I always look at. Torture? Yep, still going on. It's more complicated now the torture, and there's not as much of it. But one of the things we did, ostensibly to improve the conditions of prisoners, we demanded that the American soldiers operating in Afghanistan could only hold a suspected Taliban for four days, 96 hours. If not... after four days they could not be sure that this person was not a Taliban, he must be freed. Instead of just holding them and making them Taliban, you have to actually do some, some work to make the determination in the field. Tactically, in the field. So what happens of course, is after three or four days, "bang, bang" -- I'm just telling you -- they turn them over to the Afghans and by the time they take three steps away the shots are fired. And that's going on. It hasn't stopped. It's not just me that's complaining about it. But the stuff that goes on in the field, is still going on in the field -- the secret prisons, absolutely, oh you bet they're still running secret prisons. Most of them are in North Africa, the guys running them are mostly out of Djibouto [sic]. We have stuff in Kenya (doesn't mean they're in Kenya, but they're in that area).
Assassinations? Let's see, Eikenberry [McKiernan -Ed.] gave the wrong number so he was replaced by McChrystal. Stanley McChrystal had been in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command from '03 to '07 under Cheney. In the beginning under Cheney -- what I'm telling you is sort of hard to take because the vice... In the beginning they would get their orders, they would call up on satellite phones, from the field, to Cheney's office, and get authority, basically, to whack people. Sometimes names were given, sometimes generic authority was given. This was going on. There's still an enormous amount of whacking going on right now. What happened is after McChrystal ran into trouble and he was replaced, Petraeus took over the war, General Petraeus -- they call him King David, David Petraeus -- and he has done this in the last 6, 8 months; He has doubled up on the nightly , nightly assassinations. He's escalated the bombing. He's gotten much tougher. His argument is: Let's squeeze them, let's bomb 'em, let's hit 'em, and then of course they'll be open to negotiation.
And negotiation for us means that anybody who wants to negotiate has to fully renounce any allegiance with the Taliban. [Inaudible] in the Pashtun world, they call this thing the Knesset. And of course, it's not going to happen. Of course, I don't know any serious, truly don't know any serious officer or special operator or civilian who's been in the war that has any confidence about it. We're not going to prevail in that. There are some better things. There are some units that are doing... In some valleys, we are going from villages and we are doing a little better in terms of supplying some security, but in general, the insurgency has spread wherever we are and the Taliban have moved, they're moving north. The insurgency is much more widespread; it's much more violent. American boys are being chewed up.
As some of you know who know the Pashtun world, revenge comes, can come in two generations. Revenge, particularly if a male is killed, a senior male, revenge must take place or you are dishonored. We have a legacy there that's going to be very hard to pay off. And it's there. It's not even hard to see. You could almost, you can get it, but the conflict in the increasing areas that they make them go, the targeting is...
You know, here's the way it works: We have reconnaissance missions... We have a group in Washington known as the Joint Reconnaissance Committee. And when we want missions, let's say off the coast of China, we have Boeing 707s that fly figure-eights doing electronic monitoring off China (they used to be mostly off Russia -- they're off China, they're off North Korea now). We still do an awful lot of intelligence collection. These missions are all put into a book and they're approved by the president. So the president (or his designate, but the president basically) is given these notions that you have to approve this mission for the next three months or whatever because there's risks. And yet every time American Predators are going off, controlled by the CIA or the Air Force, going off, hitting targets (more and more in Pakistan) that are undefined, that the intelligence is not very clear on, often very bad, collateral damage is enormously high because we're going after a member of the, let's say the Pakistani Taliban, and in that society the women live right next to the men, they're in separate quarters but they're there, and boom the Predator wipes out a whole building, clearly, and kills an enormous amount of people who have nothing to do with... they're non combatants. None of these missions are approved anywhere except the military chain of command. It's a very strange system and he [Obama] has not tampered with it. I think that things are better in the sense that I don't think Obama is authorizing quite as much; there isn't that much to do with the war on terror, it seems. We still have a capability to operate. I don't know what's going to happen in North Africa because of this -- and this is going to change the game, this one in Tunisia. Tunisia's almost impossible to assess. It's too early but it's going to scare the hell out of a lot of people.
You know, it is, up to a point, about oil. When I started looking at Cheney from a different point of view, like, two years ago, I didn't think so: I thought ideology, I thought protecting Israel... a lot of it is oil. You talk to people and they will tell you, "Yeah, there's the wind and the sun but you [inaudible] it in America and where is it coming from?" And there's always been an understanding. We tolerate the Saudis, we support the Saudis, who we know supply an awful lot of salafists, and they're still, their various charities are supplying often the same people we're targeting and there is certainly, they're certainly... we see them, for instance, in the Iraqi war supporting the Sunnis, the Sunni Awakening, etc. I mean, implicit... I would argue that there's nothing subtle about what we do, morally. If you think about it -- again this is something I talked about earlier -- we and the Brits always assume some imperial right to oil in the Middle East.
After the seizures in late 1942 of five U.S. enterprises he managed on behalf of Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen, Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, failed to divest himself of more than a dozen "enemy national" relationships that continued until as late as 1951, newly-discovered U.S. government documents reveal.
Furthermore, the records show that Bush and his colleagues routinely attempted to conceal their activities from government investigators.
Prescott Bush and his son Herbert Walker Bush
Bush's partners in the secret web of Thyssen-controlled ventures included former New York Governor W. Averell Harriman and his younger brother, E. Roland Harriman. Their quarter-century of Nazi financial transactions, from 1924-1951, were conducted by the New York private banking firm, Brown Brothers Harriman.
The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Although the additional seizures under the Trading with the Enemy Act did not take place until after the war, documents from The National Archives and Library of Congress confirm that Bush and his partners continued their Nazi dealings unabated. These activities included a financial relationship with the German city of Hanover and several industrial concerns. They went undetected by investigators until after World War Two.
At the same time Bush and the Harrimans were profiting from their Nazi partnerships, W. Averell Harriman was serving as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's personal emissary to the United Kingdom during the toughest years of the war. On October 28, 1942, the same day two key Bush-Harriman-run businesses were being seized by the U.S. government, Harriman was meeting in London with Field Marshall Smuts to discuss the war effort.
Denial and Deceit
While Harriman was concealing his Nazi relationships from his government colleagues, Cornelius Livense, the top executive of the interlocking German concerns held under the corporate umbrella of Union Banking Corporation (UBC), repeatedly tried to mislead investigators, and was sometimes supported in his subterfuge by Brown Brothers Harriman.
All of the assets of UBC and its related businesses belonged to Thyssen-controlled enterprises, including his Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart in Rotterdam, the documents state.
Nevertheless, Livense, president of UBC, claimed to have no knowledge of such a relationship. "Strangely enough, (Livense) claims he does not know the actual ownership of the company," states a government report.
H.D Pennington, manager of Brown Brothers Harriman and a director of UBC "for many years," also lied to investigators about the secret and well-concealed relationship with Thyssen's Dutch bank, according to the documents.
Investigators later reported that the company was "wholly owned" by Thyssen's Dutch bank.
Despite such ongoing subterfuge, U.S. investigators were able to show that "a careful examination of UBC's general ledger, cash books and journals from 1919 until the present date clearly establish that the principal and practically only source of funds has been Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart."
In yet another attempt to mislead investigators, Livense said that $240,000 in banknotes in a safe deposit box at Underwriters Trust Co. in New York had been given to him by another UBC-Thyssen associate, H.J. Kouwenhoven, managing director of Thyssen's Dutch bank and a director of the August Thyssen Bank in Berlin. August Thyssen was Fritz's father.
The government report shows that Livense first neglected to report the $240,000, then claimed that it had been given to him as a gift by Kouwenhoven. However, by the time Livense filed a financial disclosure with U.S. officials, he changed his story again and reported the sum as a debt rather than a cash holding.
In yet another attempt to deceive the governments of both the U.S. and Canada, Livense and his partners misreported the facts about the sale of a Canadian Nazi front enterprise, La Cooperative Catholique des Consommateurs de Combustible, which imported German coal into Canada via the web of Thyssen-controlled U.S. businesses.
"The Canadian authorities, however, were not taken in by this maneuver," a U.S. government report states. The coal company was later seized by Canadian authorities.
After the war, a total of 18 additional Brown Brothers Harriman and UBC-related client assets were seized under The Trading with the Enemy Act, including several that showed the continuation of a relationship with the Thyssen family after the initial 1942 seizures.
The records also show that Bush and the Harrimans conducted business after the war with related concerns doing business in or moving assets into Switzerland, Panama, Argentina and Brazil - all critical outposts for the flight of Nazi capital after Germany's surrender in 1945. Fritz Thyssen died in Argentina in 1951.
One of the final seizures, in October 1950, concerned the U.S. assets of a Nazi baroness named Theresia Maria Ida Beneditka Huberta Stanislava Martina von Schwarzenberg, who also used two shorter aliases. Brown Brothers Harriman, where Prescott Bush and the Harrimans were partners, attempted to convince government investigators that the baroness had been a victim of Nazi persecution and therefore should be allowed to maintain her assets.
"It appears, rather, that the subject was a member of the Nazi party," government investigators concluded.
At the same time the last Brown Brothers Harriman client assets were seized, Prescott Bush announced his Senate campaign that led to his election in 1952.
In 1943, six months after the seizure of UBC and its related companies, a government investigator noted in a Treasury Department memo dated April 8, 1943 that the FBI had inquired about the status of any investigation into Bush and the Harrimans.
"I gave 'a memorandum' which did not say anything about the American officers of subject," the investigator wrote. "(Another investigator) wanted to know whether any specific action had been taken by us with respect to them."
No further action beyond the initial seizures was ever taken, and the newly-confirmed records went unseen by the American people for six decades.
What Does It All Mean?
So why are the documents relevant today?
"The story of Prescott Bush and Brown Brothers Harriman is an introduction to the real history of our country," says L.A. art book publisher and historian Edward Boswell. "It exposes the money-making motives behind our foreign policies, dating back a full century. The ability of Prescott Bush and the Harrimans to bury their checkered pasts also reveals a collusion between Wall Street and the media that exists to this day."
Sheldon Drobny, a Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist who will soon launch a liberal talk radio network, says the importance of the new documents is that they prove a long pattern of Bush family war profiteering that continues today via George H.W. Bush's intimate relationship with the Saudi royal family and the bin Ladens, conducted via the super-secret Carlyle Group, whose senior advisers include former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
911 was an inside job - inform yourself - "the great lie" works.
In the post-9/11 world, Drobny finds the Bush-Saudi connection deeply troubling. "Trading with the enemy is trading with the enemy," he says. "That's the relevance of the documents and what they show."
Lawrence Lader, an abortion rights activist and the author of more than 40 books, says "the relevance lies with the fact that the sitting President of the United States would lead the nation to war based on lies and against the wishes of the rest of the world." Lader and others draw comparisons between President Bush's invasion of Iraq and Hitler's occupation of Poland in 1939 - the event that sparked World War Two.
However, others see an even larger significance.
"The discovery of the Bush-Nazi documents raises new questions about the role of Prescott Bush and his influential business partners in the secret emigration of Nazi war criminals, which allowed them to escape justice in Germany," says Bob Fertik, co-founder of Democrats.com and an amateur 'Nazi hunter.' "It also raises questions about the importance of Nazi recruits to the CIA in its early years, in what was called Operation Paperclip, and Prescott Bush's role in that dark operation."
Fertik and others, including former Justice Department Nazi war crimes prosecutor John Loftus, a Constitutional attorney in Miami, and a former Veterans Administration official, believe Prescott Bush and the Harrimans should have been tried for treason.
Now, say Fertik and Loftus, there should be a Congressional investigation into the Bush family's Nazi past and its concealment from the American people for 60 years.
"The American people have a right to know, in detail, about this hidden chapter of our history," says Loftus, author of The Secret War Against the Jews. "That's the only way we can understand it and deal with it."
For his part, Fertik is pessimistic that even a Congressional investigation can thwart the war profiteering of the present Bush White House. "It's impossible to stop it," he says, "when the worst war profiteers are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who operate in secrecy behind the vast powers of the White House."
John Buchanan is a journalist and magazine writer based in Miami Beach. He can be reached by e-mail at jtwg -at- bellsouth.net.
Stacey Michael is a New Orleans-based journalist and the author of Religious Conceit. His most recent book is Weapons of Mass Dysfunction: The Art of "Faith-Based" Politics, due in early 2004. He can be reached by email at staceymichael --at-- religiousconceit.com.
When the Nazis invaded Holland in May 1940, they investigated the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart in Rotterdam. Fritz Thyssen was suspected by Hitler's auditors of being a tax fraud and of illegally transferring his wealth outside the Third Reich. The Nazi auditors were right: Thyssen felt that Hitler's economic policies would dilute his wealth through ruinous war inflation. He had been smuggling his war profits out through Holland. But the Rotterdam vaults were empty of clues to where the money had gone. The Nazis did not know that all of the documents evidencing secret Thyssen ownership had been quietly shipped back to the August Thyssen Bank in Berlin, under the friendly supervision of Baron Kurt Von Schroeder. Thyssen spent the rest of the war under VIP house arrest. He had fooled Hitler, hidden his immense profits, and now it was time to fool the Americans with same shell game.
As soon as Berlin fell to the allies, it was time to ship the documents back to Rotterdam so that the "neutral" bank could claim ownership under the friendly supervision of Allen Dulles, who, as the OSS intelligence chief in 1945 Berlin, was well placed to handle any troublesome investigations. Unfortunately, the August Thyssen Bank had been bombed during the war, and the documents were buried in the underground vaults beneath the rubble. Worse, the vaults lay in the Soviet Zone of Berlin.
According to Gowen's source, Prince Bernhard commanded a unit of Dutch intelligence, which dug up the incriminating corporate papers in 1945 and brought them back to the "neutral" bank in Rotterdam. The pretext was that the Nazis had stolen the crown jewels of his wife, Princess Juliana, and the Russians gave the Dutch permission to dig up the vault and retrieve them.
(abridged version published in In These Times, February 2, 2010) January 21, 2010 will go down as a dark day in the history of American democracy, and its decline. The editors of the New York Times did not exaggerate when they wrote that the Supreme Court decision that day "strikes at the heart of democracy" by having "paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding" -- more explicitly, for permitting corporate managers to do so, since current laws permit them to spend shareholder money without consent.
Nor does Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law, exaggerate when he writes that this exercise of the radical judicial activism that the rightwing claims to deplore "matches or exceeds Bush v. Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court. In that case, the court reached into the political process to hand the election to one candidate. Today it reached into the political process to hand unprecedented power to corporations."
The Court was split, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called "conservative") joined by Justice Kennedy in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds, and maneuvered the Court into using it for a far-reaching decision that overturned precedents going back a century that restrict corporate contributions to federal campaigns.
In effect, the decision permits corporate managers to buy elections directly, instead of using more complex indirect means, though it is likely that to avoid negative publicity they will choose to do so through trade organizations. It is well-known that corporate campaign contributions, sometimes packaged in complex ways, are a major factor determining the outcome of elections. This alone is a significant factor in policy decisions, reinforced by the enormous power of corporate lobbies, greatly enhanced by the Court's decision, and other conditions imposed by the very small sector of the population that dominates the economy.
A very successful predictor of government policy over a long period is political economist Thomas Ferguson's "investment theory of politics," which interprets elections as occasions on which segments of private sector power coalesce to invest to control the state. The means for undermining democracy are sure to be enhanced by the Court's dagger blow at the heart of functioning democracy.
Some legislative remedies are being proposed, for example requiring managers to consult with shareholders. At best, that would be a minor limit on the corporate takeover of the political system, given the very high concentration of ownership by extreme wealth and other corporate institutions. Furthermore any legislation would have been difficult to pass even without this new weapon provided by the Court to unaccountable private concentrations of power. The same holds, even more strongly, for a Constitutional amendment that Waldman and others think might be necessary to restore at least the limited democracy that prevailed before the decision.
In his dissent, Justice Stevens acknowledged that "we have long since held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment." That traces back to the time when the 1907 Tillman act banned corporate contributions, the precedent overturned by the Court. In the early 20th century, legal theorists and courts came to adopt and implement the Court's 1886 (Santa Clara) principle that these "collectivist legal entities" have the same rights as persons of flesh and blood, an attack on classical liberalism that was sharply condemned by the vanishing breed of conservatives as "a menace to the liberty of the individual, and to the stability of the American States as popular governments" (Christopher Tiedeman). In later years these rights were expanded far beyond those of persons, notably by the mislabeled "free trade agreements."
The conception of corporate personhood evolved alongside the shift of power from shareholders to managers, and finally to the doctrine that "the powers of the board of directors ... are identical with the powers of the corporation." Furthermore, the courts determined that these state-established "natural entities" must restrict themselves to pursuit of profit and market share, though the courts did advise corporations to support charitable and educational causes, or an "aroused public" might take away the privileges granted to them by state power.
As corporate personhood and managerial independence were becoming established in law, the control of corporations over the economy was so vast that Woodrow Wilson described "a very different America from the old, ... no longer a scene of individual enterprise ... individual opportunity and individual achievement," but an America in which "Comparatively small groups of men," corporate managers, "wield a power and control over the wealth and the business operations of the country," becoming "rivals of the government itself." In reality, becoming increasingly its masters, a process that has extended since, and is now given even greater scope by the Roberts Court.
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion held that there is no principled way to distinguish between media corporations and other corporations: that is, no principled way to distinguish between corporations that are bound by law to restrict themselves to gaining profit and market share from those that in principle have the role of providing news and opinion in an unbiased fashion. Media corporations have indeed been criticized for violating this trust, but never so severely as in Kennedy's analogy.
The Court decision followed immediately upon another victory for wealth and power, the election of Republican candidate Scott Brown to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy, the "liberal lion" of Massachusetts. This was depicted as a "populist upsurge" against the liberal elitists who run the government. The voting data reveal a rather different story. Very high voting in the wealthy suburbs carried Brown to victory, thanks to lower turnout in the urban areas that are largely Democratic. "55% of Republican voters said they were `very interested' in the election," the Wall St. Journal reported, "compared with 38% of Democrats. It was indeed an uprising against Obama's policies: for the wealthy, he was not doing enough to enrich them further, while for the poorer sectors, he was doing too much to achieve that end.
Doubtless there was some impact of the populist image crafted by the PR machine ("this is my truck," "army guy," etc.). But this appears to have had only a minor role. The popular anger is quite understandable, with the banks thriving thanks to bailouts while unemployment is above 10% and in manufacturing industry at the level of the Great Depression, one out of six unemployed, with few prospects for recovering the kinds of jobs that are lost, with the increasing financialization of the economy and concomitant hollowing out of productive industry.
Brown presented himself as the 41st vote against health care -- the vote that could undermine majority rule, by virtue of the current Republican tactic of regular resort to filibuster to enable a unanimous minority bloc to bar any legislation put forth by the administration, a novelty in American politics. It is true that Obama's health care program was a major factor in the election, and the headlines are correct when they report that the public is increasingly turning against it. The poll figures explain why: the bill did not go far enough.
A Wall St. Journal/NBC poll found that 64% of voters disapprove of the Republicans' handling of health care (55% disapprove of Obama's handling). Among Obama voters who voted for Brown, 60% felt that the health care program did not go far enough (85% among those who abstained). In both categories, about 85% favored a public option. These figures accord with other recent polls that show that nationwide, the public option was favored by 56%-38%, and the Medicare buy-in at age 55 by 64%-30%; both abandoned. 85% believe that the government should have the right to negotiate drug prices, as in other countries; Obama guaranteed big Pharma that he would not pursue that option. Large majorities favor cost-cutting, which makes good sense: US per capita costs for health care are about twice those of other industrial countries, and health outcomes are at the low end. But cost-cutting cannot be seriously undertaken with largesse showered on the drug companies, and health care in the hands of virtually unregulated private insurers, a very costly system unique to the US.
The Supreme Court decision raises significant new barriers to overcoming the serious crisis of health care, or to addressing seriously such critical issues as the looming environmental and energy crises. And the damage to American democracy can hardly be overestimated.
Washington's pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month freeze on settlement expansion -- excluding Arab East Jerusalem -- should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.
In September the last settlement freeze ended, leading the Palestinians to cease direct talks with Israel. Now the Obama administration, desperate to lure Israel into a new freeze and thus revive the talks, is grasping at invisible straws -- and lavishing gifts on a far-right Israeli government.
The gifts include $3 billion for fighter jets. The largesse also happens to be another taxpayer grant to the U.S. arms industry, which gains doubly from programs to expand the militarization of the Middle East.
U.S. arms manufacturers are subsidized not only to develop and produce advanced equipment for a state that is virtually part of the U.S. military-intelligence establishment but also to provide second-rate military equipment to the Gulf states -- currently a precedent-breaking $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, which is a transaction that also recycles petrodollars to an ailing U.S. economy.
Israeli and U.S. high-tech civilian industries are closely integrated. It is small wonder that the most fervent support for Israeli actions comes from the business press and the Republican Party, the more extreme of the two business-oriented political parties. The pretext for the huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia is defense against the "Iranian threat."
However, the Iranian threat is not military, as the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence have emphasized. Were Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capacity, the purpose would be deterrent -- presumably to ward off a U.S.-Israeli attack.
The real threat, in Washington's view, is that Iran is seeking to expand its influence in neighboring countries "stabilized" by U.S. invasion and occupation.
The official line is that the Arab states are pleading for U.S. military aid to defend themselves against Iran. True or false, the claim provides interesting insight into the reigning concept of democracy. Whatever the ruling dictatorships may prefer, Arabs in a recent Brookings poll rank the major threats to the region as Israel (88 percent), the United States (77 percent) and Iran (10 percent).
It is interesting that U.S. officials, as revealed in the just-released WikiLeaks cables, totally ignored Arab public opinion, keeping to the views of the reigning dictators.
The U.S. gifts to Israel also include diplomatic support, according to current reports. Washington pledges to veto any U.N. Security Council actions that might annoy Israel's leaders and to drop any call for further extension of a settlement freeze.
Hence, by agreeing to the three-month pause, Israel will no longer be disturbed by the paymaster as it expands its criminal actions in the occupied territories.
That these actions are criminal has not been in doubt since late 1967, when Israel's leading legal authority, international jurist Theodor Meron, advised the government that its plans to initiate settlements in the occupied territories violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, a core principle of international humanitarian law, established in 1949 to criminalize the horrors of the Nazi regime.
Meron's conclusion was endorsed by Justice Minister Ya'akov Shimson Shapira, and shortly after by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, writes historian Gershom Gorenberg in "The Accidental Empire."
Dayan informed his fellow ministers, "We must consolidate our hold so that over time we will succeed in 'digesting' Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and merging them with 'little' Israel," meanwhile "dismember(ing) the territorial contiguity" of the West Bank, all under the usual pretense "that the step is necessary for military purposes."
Dayan had no doubts, or qualms, about what he was recommending: "Settling Israelis in occupied territory contravenes, as is known, international conventions," he observed. "But there is nothing essentially new in that."
Dayan's correct assumption was that the boss in Washington might object formally, but with a wink, and would continue to provide the decisive military, economic and diplomatic support for the criminal endeavors.
The criminality has been underscored by repeated Security Council resolutions, more recently by the International Court of Justice, with the basic agreement of U.S. Justice Thomas Buergenthal in a separate declaration. Israel's actions also violate U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning Jerusalem. But everything is fine as long as Washington winks.
Back in Washington, the Republican super-hawks are even more fervent in their support for Israeli crimes. Eric Cantor, the new majority leader in the House of Representatives, "has floated a novel solution to protect aid for Israel from the current foreign aid backlash," Glenn Kessler reports in The Washington Post: "giving the Jewish state its own funding account, thus removing it from funds for the rest of the world."
The issue of settlement expansion is simply a diversion. The real issue is the existence of the settlements and related infrastructure developments. These have been carefully designed so that Israel has already taken over more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank, including suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; the arable land; and the primary water sources of the region, all on the Israeli side of the Separation Wall -- in reality an annexation wall.
Since 1967, Israel has vastly expanded the borders of Jerusalem in violation of Security Council orders and despite universal international objection (including the U.S., at least formally).
The focus on settlement expansion, and Washington's groveling, are not the only farcical elements of the current negotiations. The very structure is a charade. The U.S. is portrayed as an "honest broker" seeking to mediate between two recalcitrant adversaries. But serious negotiations would be conducted by some neutral party, with the U.S. and Israel on one side, and the world on the other.
It is hardly a secret that for 35 years the U.S. and Israel have stood virtually alone in opposition to a consensus on a political settlement that is close to universal, including the Arab states, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (including Iran), and all other relevant parties.
With brief and rare departures, the two rejectionist states have preferred illegal expansion to security. Unless Washington's stand changes, political settlement is effectively barred. And expansion, with its reverberations throughout the region and the world, continues.
University of Tennessee - Nice summary of his speech yesterday
Noam Chomsky lectures on nation's problems
Kristian Smith, Student Life Editor
Published: Wed Jan 26, 2011
Tia Patron • The Daily Beacon
A large crowd consisting of students, faculty and the public wait in long lines in the Cox Auditorium lobby for the doors to open for the Noam Chomsky lecture on Jan. 25. The line eventually reached the new constructed sign for the Hill before the lecture was to start.
Topics presented to packed crowd included role of government, public relations
Renowned linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky spoke to a packed house Tuesday night. An emeritus professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky opened the lecture by telling the audience he wanted to address "some serious problems we're having here at home." "The guiding principle (for American government) is that as long as the public is under control, everything is fine," he said. "(The traditional argument is) the powerful should gain ends by any possible means. As long as the public is kept under control, public will doesn't matter." Chomsky referred back to this principle many times throughout his lecture and said it was the base of many of the nation's problems. He said the principle was a security threat to the U.S. and was at the root of both terror and the huge military budget that is strangling the economy. "The military budget is half of the deficit," Chomsky said. "The other half is the heavily privatized health care system. We would not have debt and might even have a surplus if we did not have (the health care system)." Chomsky also discussed terrorism and the post-Sept. 11 United States. "Bush said terrorists committed crimes because they hate our freedoms," he said. Contrary to this statement, Chomsky said that Muslims actually hate our policies, not our freedoms. Chomsky said United States' policies actually benefit Jihadists. "The U.S. remains Bin Laden's only ally," he said. Chomsky discussed the United States' support of dictatorships in Egypt, Tunisia, Georgia, Jordan and Colombia. He said this too falls under the "guiding principle." "A post-Sept. 11 poll showed anger because of U.S. support of dictatorships and blocking democracy," he said. Though Chomsky said the "guiding principle" was apparent in all aspects of government, he also said it could have very severe consequences. "The most serious case is in Pakistan where there is a threat of radical Islamists getting a hold of nuclear weapons," he said. Chomsky said this "guiding principle" is not a recent thing, though. "Throughout American history, there has been a constant struggle over who should control and who should obey," he said. "The Founding Fathers were ambivalent about democracy." Chomsky added that James Madison, one of the framers of the Constitution, was concerned that if voters could determine policy, it would challenge the privileged. "This is why he put the power in the hands of the Senate, whose primary task is to protect the opulent minority against the majority," he said. Chomsky also discussed the history of the labor movement and how it applies to issues today. "The United States has a violent labor history," he said. "The rallying cry of the late 19th-century labor movement was, 'Those who work in mills should own them,'" he said. Chomsky said this holds significance today, specifically with the automobile industry. "Obama took over the auto industry, so the government owns it," he said. "The government is closing plants when they could turn them over to the workers and let them run it for profit." He also discussed how history plays a role in today's public relations and marketing industries. "By World War I, the business class realized that because of new freedoms, it was impossible to control the public by force, so they need new means," he said. "They tried to control of opinion and attitude to divert people from the public arena. This is why the public relations industry was started." Chomsky called elections today "public relations extravaganzas." "You don't want to provide information about the candidates; that's the last thing you want to do," he said. "So you delude people with slogans." In regards to political parties, Chomsky said they have shifted sharply to the right. "Democrats today are what used to be moderate Republicans, and today's Republicans are so deep in the pockets of business, you have to have a magnifying glass to find them," he said. Chomsky also discussed tax cuts and their benefit to the wealthy. "There has been a spectacular increase in wealth in the top 1 percent of the population," he said. "The Bush tax cuts of 2011 were made to benefit the rich but were crafted so people would not realize what was happening." He said Social Security also plays into this. "Social Security is actually in good shape, despite what you read," he said. "The rich want to get rid of Social Security, because it is based on the principles of compassion and solidarity, and (the spread of these principles) could be dangerous for the rich." Students said they gained valuable insights from Chomsky's lecture. "I though he did a very good job of historically representing what has been covered up in this country," Cori Kunberger, senior in psychology, said. Chomsky ended his lecture with a question for the audience. "Will we subject ourselves to the guiding principle?" he said
LOFTUS, but 1st: Bush defends Gulf War Massacre as ‘moral;’ -- insisted on War
Twenty years after, Bush defends Gulf War as 'moral;' Record indicates Bush insisted on War and rejected peace
January 21, 2011
Newly released files confirm Saddam Hussein tried to broker a last-minute peace deal in 1991 , blocked by President Bush who feared negotiations might defuse the Iraq-Kuwait crisis and prevent the Gulf War
Investigative reporter Robert Parry adds further details. The [peace] offer, relayed via Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Nizar Hamdoon, reached Washington on August 9 . According to a confidential Congressional summary, it represented the views of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders. On August 10, the proposal was brought to the National Security Council, which rejected it as "already moving against policy," according to the retired Army officer who arranged the meeting. Former CIA chief Richard Helms attempted to carry the initiative further, but got nowhere.
Former President George H.W. Bush's recent comments seem more an exercise in comedy attempting to sanitize history than a reflection of an honest statesman.
From NBC News and news services
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Former President George H.W. Bush defended the decision to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War on Thursday and said his own adviser's criticism of his son's policies and invasion of Iraq in 2003 didn't bother him.
Bush said disagreements on policies "go with the territory" as president.
Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser under the elder Bush, maintained in the run-up to the invasion that it wasn't clear that Hussein was part of the global terrorism network.
"You can't worry about that," Bush told NBC News anchor Brian Williams in a roundtable discussion on the 20th anniversary of the start of the war. "You can't worry about the differences. They're bound to happen, bound to take place."
Former President George H.W. Bush, Scowcroft and and other key members of his foreign policy team gathered at Texas A&M University before an expected audience of several thousand people, including Gulf War veterans, to discuss the conflict, which started Jan. 17, 1991.
Asked about the selling of the war, and the opinions of some that it was about protecting oil supplies, Bush told NBC News it was a moral war.
Morality of war
"I think (economics) was vitally important, but I don't think that was the whole message by a longshot," Bush said. "It was the immorality of a big country — with the fourth-largest army in the world — taking over a member state of the U.N., just brutally taking it over."
James Baker, secretary of state under Bush, said it was "appropriate to use all the arguments" in favor of the war. "We were doing the right thing," he said.
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLATHER WITH A BIT OF A HISTORY LESSON THAT IS FAAAR MORE INTERESTING AND EXPLAINS A LOT
The Bush-Rockefeller-Dulles-Harriman Nazi scandal by John Loftus Federal Prosecutor
This is a must-read, something you will never be able to read in your historical books something you must teach yourself to your children so that they could learn about the true cause of wars so that when they become adult, they won't be so gullible about their political leaders when they would ask them to go to war for supposedly patriotic or humanistic reasons. Politicians and Dictators have always been working, willingly or manipulated to work for the interest of the World Bankers who finance the weapons merchants.
Extract from "Former Federal Prosecutor John Loftus confirms the Bush-Nazi scandal" published on October 31. 2003
"These long buried US government files demonstrate that the Bush family stayed on the corporate boards of Nazi front groups even after they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were helping the financial cause of the Third Reich. It was all about the money. Nazi Germany is where the Bush family fortune came from, and where the Harrimans, and the Rockefellers increased their fortunes to obscene proportions.
Of course some of them were quite rich to begin with. The Harriman railroad monopoly helped create the Rockefeller oil monopoly in the 1800's. Their despicable price fixing schemes earned them the press label "the Robber Barons." My favorite Republican Teddy Roosevelt ruined their rapacious profits with his anti-monopoly and anti-trust legislation.
The Robber Barons bribed Congress (it happens) into passing a loophole, the Web-Pomerene Act of 1918 which legalized cartels and monopolies outside the borders of the United States. This loophole law let the Robber Barons loose to prey on a helpless world already ravaged by the human and and financial cost of WWI.
Averil Harriman (patriarch of the famous Democratic family) promptly broke another American law by secretly financing the Bolsheviks while American, British and White Russian troops were still fighting against the infant communist revolution. (The FBI "ARCOS" files on Harriman's connections with the Soviets are quite a read). Harriman bribed Lenin into letting him take over the Czar's cartels, which exported managanese, iron ore and other raw materials. Harriman shipped the Russian raw materials to his German partners, the Thyssens, who had been secretly bought out by the Rockefellers.
The Rockefeller's lawyers, the Dulles Brothers, had deliberately and systematically bankrupted the German economy with the Versaille Treaty. German currency was almost worthless after WWI, and so the Dulles brother's favorite clients, the Rockefellers, were able to buy the stock of nearly every German company for a song. The great sucking sound that preceeded the Great Depression was the whistling of Wall Street money out of America into Germany, Russia (and as a side deal, Saudi Arabia). Two generations later, we are still paying for it.
The Robber Barons did not call it an international crime. They called it synergy. Harriman's Soviet cartels would deliver the raw materials, Rockfeller's high-tech German companies (the Thyssens) would process the manganese into steel for Harriman's railroads. To save transportation costs, the Robber Barons looked for a middle ground in eastern Poland for a future factory site. It had to be in the coal fields of Silesia, on the banks of the Vistula river, where a canal could be dug to ship materials in cheaply from Russia. The Polish town was named Oswieczim, later known to the world by its German name: Auschwitz.
It was not a killing factory then, although slave labor was always contemplated for the maximum profit factor. Auschwitz was designed to process Silesian coal into tar additives necessary for Russian aviation fuel. It was a high tech German chemical factory built to balance out Harriman's Russian-to-Germany export trade.
Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust
The Rockefeller-Harriman front company that financed Auschwitz was called Brown Brothers Harriman. It is still around today. Our President's great granfather, Herbert Walker, founded the company, and appointed his impecunious son-in-law Prescott Bush to the boards of several holding companies, all of which became Nazi fronts. The Walkers and Bushes never really liked the Nazis, anymore than Harriman liked the communists. To the robber barons, they were just dogs on a leash. One day the dogs broke their chains, and Hitler and Stalin got loose. Fifty million people died as a result of a bad investment.
The Robber Barons saw it coming. Their lawyers, the Dulles brothers, had a contingency plan. They had established three banks, one in Germany, one in Holland, and one in New York (the Union Banking Corporation, headed by the ever-useful son-in-law Prescott Bush). No matter who won World war II, the corporate stocks would be shifted around to whichever bank was in a neutral country when the war was over.
After WW II, the Dulles brothers' shell game deceived a gullible and war-weary world. The "neutral" Dutch bank reclaimed their German assetts as "stolen" by the Nazis, and the whole merry fraud continued. Prescott Bush got his Union Bank back from the US Government in 1951, despite its seizure in 1942 as a Nazi front. Prescott Bush and father-in-law Walker were paid two shares worth about $1.5 million in 1951 dollars. It was a petty payoff for a job well done.
Nearly 4,000 shares (98% of the Union Bank holdings) were held by Roland Harriman in trust for the Rockefellers. That's about three billion in 1951 dollars, more than 30 billion dollars in todays money. Most of it was reinvested in post-war Germany where they made even more obscene profits. After all, Germany was just as cash starved after World War II as they were after World War I. It was just another cycle in the Robber Baron's spreadsheet. Everyone made money off the Holocaust, except of course the Jews and the Allied soldiers.
A few decades later things had quited down and all the Nazi money finally came home to Wall Street. By 1972, one of Rockfeller's assetts, the Chase Manhattan bank in New York, secretly owned 38% of the Thyssen company, according to internal Thyssen records in my custody. Not a bad payoff for the Robber Barons. The Auschwitz investment paid off handsomely. The Thyssen-Krupp corporation is now the wealthiest conglomerate in Europe. WWII is over. The Germans won.
Also in the 1970's, Brown Brothers Harriman, perhaps coincidentally, convinced the ever pliant New York State Banking Commision to issue a regulation permitting them to shred all their records for the Nazi period. The Robber Barons, unlike the Swiss bankers, knew how to cover their tracks.
There were, of course, exceptions. Von Kouewenhoven, director of the Dutch Bank, discovered the secret Thyssen-Nazi connection after the war, and foolishly went to New York to warn his old friend Prescott Bush. His body was found two weeks later. It was reported with a straight face that he died of a heart attack."
Bush said there was never a thought of extending the war by going into Baghdad after Hussein, and no one in leadership advocated it.
"We had an objective. The objective was to kick this guy out of Kuwait and we did it. And we formed a coalition to help conceive that. It didn't enter my mind that we should do more."
Colin Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the elder Bush and secretary of state under George W. Bush, said the attacks on 9-11 "fundamentally changed the calculus by which you measure Saddam Hussein and what capabilities he might have."
"From my perspective I looked at Saddam Hussein differently after 9-11 and before 9-11," reiterated Dick Cheney, defense secretary during Gulf War I and vice president during Gulf War II. "I was bound and determined as was the president for whom I worked, that that was never going to happen again on our watch."
New documents detailing conversations former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had with members of his inner circle as the ground assault began on Feb. 24, 1991, were released Thursday by the National Defense University in Washington.
Hussein called Bush 'enemy of God' The transcripts released for the 20th anniversary show Hussein tried to broker a last minute peace deal with the help of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev but at the same time remaining defiant, calling the coalition forces "treacherous and cowardly" and describing Bush as "the enemy of God and humanity."
Along with Bush, the reunion included former Vice President Dan Quayle, then-Defense Secretary Cheney, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Powell, former Secretary of State Baker and then-National Security Advisor Scowcroft.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition forces, will not be there for health reasons.
The war was prompted by Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, its small, oil-rich neighbor. The Kuwaiti dignitaries expected at the event Thursday include the emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
The United States Security Council warned Iraq that if it didn't withdraw its troops from Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991, a U.S.-led coalition would be authorized to drive them out. The Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm, began two days later with air attacks against Iraqi targets.
The ground assault that started about a month later lasted only 100 hours. Kuwait was liberated and Iraqi troops were driven back to their home country. Of the more than 540,000 Americans deployed at the peak of the fighting, 148 were killed and 467 were wounded. The documents released Thursday showed that as coalition troops began their ground assault, Hussein was exchanging letters with Gorbachev, asking the former Soviet leader to help broker a peace agreement. Gorbachev had apparently been able to get Iraq to agree to withdraw its troops from Kuwait within 21 days.
Appeal to Gorbachev "Even though we will keep our promise, Mr. President, we do know that the Americans, especially their president, have no honor and we do not trust them; therefore, we are working only with your peace proposal," Hussein wrote to Gorbachev.
Gorbachev replied that Bush had not agreed to the proposal, having been upset by Iraq's burning of oil fields in Kuwait. Gorbachev urged Hussein to write to Bush directly and promise to withdraw his troops not in 21 days, but in nine or 10.
By that point, however, the ground attack had begun. The documents show Hussein's frustration at Gorbachev.
Bush said this week he has no regrets about his administration's handling of the war, including the decision to pull out American forces and leave Hussein in power.
The Iraqi leader was ousted in 2003 during the Iraq war, which started under Bush's son, former President George W. Bush. After being convicted of crimes against humanity, Hussein was hanged in December 2006.
Texas A&M is about 100 miles northwest of Houston and home to Bush's presidential library
"What We Say Goes": The Middle East in the New World Order Noam Chomsky Z Magazine, May, 1991 With the Gulf war officially over, broader questions come to the fore: What are the likely contours of the New World Order, specifically, for the Middle East? What do we learn about the victors, whose power is at least temporarily enhanced?
A standard response is that we live in "an era full of promise," "one of those rare transforming moments in history" (James Baker). The United States "has a new credibility," the President announced, and dictators and tyrants everywhere know "that what we say goes." George Bush is "at the height of his powers" and "has made very clear that he wants to breathe light into that hypothetical creature, the Middle East peace process" (Anthony Lewis). So things are looking up.1
Others see a different picture. A Catholic weekly in Rome, close to the Vatican, writes that Bush is the "surly master of the world," who deserves "the Nobel War Prize" for ignoring opportunities for peace in the Gulf. Bush "had the very concrete possibility of a just peace and he chose war." He "didn't give a damn" about the many peace appeals of Pope John Paul II and proposals of others, never veering from his objective of a murderous war (Il Sabato).
The Times of India described Bush's curt dismissal of Iraq's February 15 offer to withdraw from Kuwait as a "horrible mistake," which showed that the West sought a "regional Yalta where the powerful nations agree among themselves to a share of Arab spoils.... [The West's] conduct throughout this one month has revealed the seamiest sides of Western civilisation: its unrestricted appetite for dominance, its morbid fascination for hi-tech military might, its insensitivity to `alien' cultures, its appalling jingoism...." A leading Third World monthly condemned "The most cowardly war ever fought on this planet." The foreign editor of Brazil's major daily wrote that "What is being practiced in the Gulf is pure barbarism -- ironically, committed in the name of civilization. Bush is as responsible as Saddam.... Both, with their inflexibility, consider only the cold logic of geopolitical interests [and] show an absolute scorn for human life." The "Business Magazine of the Developing World" predicts that the Arab states will "in effect...become vassal states," losing such control as they once had over their resources (South, London).2
All of this was before the glorious "turkey shoot" in the desert and the "euphoria" and unconcealed bloodlust it evoked until the news managers thought better of the project and suddenly called it off.
Outside the West, such perceptions are common. One experienced British journalist observes that "Despite the claims by President Bush that Desert Storm is supported by `the whole world', there can be little doubt about which side has won the contest for the hearts and minds of the masses of the Third World; it is not the US" (Geoffrey Jansen). Commenting on the world's "moral unease" as the air war began, John Lloyd noted in the London Financial Times that the US and Britain are a "tiny minority in the world" in their war policy. South concludes that the French, Italians and Turks joined the US-British war only "to secure a slice of the pie in the form of lucrative reconstruction and defence contracts in a post-war Gulf or in the form of aid and credits or both." Reports from the Third World, including most of the neighboring countries, indicated substantial, often overwhelming, popular opposition to the US-UK war, barely controlled by the US-backed tyrannies. The Iraqi democratic opposition publicly opposed the war, and even the most pro-American Iraqi exiles condemned the "wanton quality of the violence" in Bush's "dirty and excessively destructive war" (Samir al-Khalil).3
Before evaluating such conflicting perceptions, we have to settle a methodological question. There are two ways to proceed. One is to rely on the rhetoric of power: George Bush has "made it clear" that he is going to "breathe light" into the problems of suffering humanity; that settles the matter. Perhaps there are some blemishes on our record, but we have undergone another of those miraculous changes of course that occur at convenient moments, so we need not trouble ourselves with the documentary record, the events of past and present history, and their institutional roots. That is the easy way, and the path to respectability and privilege. Another approach, lacking these advantages, is to consider the facts. Not surprisingly, these approaches commonly yield quite different conclusions. "The Surly Master of the World"
Adopting the second approach, we face some obvious questions. Consider the President's proud boast that dictators and tyrants know "that what we say goes." It is beyond dispute that the US has no problem with dictators and tyrants if they serve US interests, and will attack and destroy committed democrats if they depart from their service function. The correct reading of Bush's words, then, is: "What we say goes," whoever you may be.
Continuing on this course, we find no grounds to expect George Bush to "breathe light" into the Middle East peace process, or any other problem. In fact, why is the peace process a "hypothetical creature"? Though inexpressible in polite company, the answer is not obscure: the US has kept it that way. Washington has barred the way to a diplomatic settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict since February 1971 (coincidentally, just as George Bush appeared on the national scene as UN Ambassador), when Kissinger backed Israel's rejection of Egyptian President Sadat's proposal for a peace settlement in terms virtually identical to official US policy, without even a gesture towards the Palestinians. The US has regularly rejected other peace proposals, vetoed Security Council resolutions, and voted against General Assembly resolutions calling for a political settlement. In December 1990, the General Assembly voted 144-2 (US and Israel) to call an international conference. A year before, the Assembly voted 151-3 (US, Israel, Dominica) for a settlement incorporating the wording of UN Resolution 242, along with "the right to self-determination" for the Palestinians.4 The NATO allies, the USSR, the Arab states, and the nonaligned countries have been united for years in seeking a political settlement along these lines, but the US will not permit it, so the peace process remains "hypothetical."
In part for similar reasons, reduction of armaments has been a "hypothetical creature." In April 1990, Bush flatly rejected a proposal from his friend Saddam Hussein to eliminate weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East. One way to direct petrodollars to the US economy has been to encourage arms sales. Currently, Bush is proposing to sell $18 billion worth of arms to his Middle East allies, with the Export-Import Bank underwriting purchases, at below-market rates if necessary, a hidden tax to benefit major sectors of industry. Military victories by the US and its Israeli client have long been used as an export-promotion device. Corporations may hire showrooms to display their goods; the government hires the Sinai and Iraqi deserts.5
There are no plausible grounds for optimistic expectations now that the great power that has kept the peace process "hypothetical" and has helped keep the region armed to the teeth is in an even stronger position than before to tell the world that "what we say goes."
The Administration has in fact taken pains to present itself as "surly master of the world." As the ground campaign opened, New York Times correspondent Maureen Dowd quoted a leaked section of a National Security Policy Review from the first months of the Bush presidency, dealing with "third world threats." It reads: "In cases where the U.S. confronts much weaker enemies, our challenge will be not simply to defeat them, but to defeat them decisively and rapidly." Any other outcome would be "embarrassing" and might "undercut political support."6
"Much weaker enemies" pose only one threat to the United States: the threat of independence, always intolerable. For many years, it was possible to disguise the war against Third World nationalism with Cold War illusions, but that game is over and the real story is bright and clear: the primary target has always been Third World independence, called "radical nationalism" or "ultranationalism" in the internal planning record, a "virus" that must be eradicated.
The Times report makes no reference to peaceful means. That too is standard. As understood on all sides, in its confrontations with Third World threats, the US is "politically weak"; its demands will not gain public support, so diplomacy is a dangerous exercise. That is why the US has so commonly sought to keep diplomatic processes "hypothetical" in the Middle East, Central America, Indochina, and on other issues, and why it has regularly undermined the United Nations. Furthermore, political support at home is understood to be very thin. Naturally, one does not want to confront enemies that can fight back, but even much weaker enemies must be destroyed quickly, given the weakness of the domestic base and the lessons that are to be taught.
These lessons are directed to several audiences. For the Third World, the message is simple: Don't raise your heads. A "much weaker" opponent will not merely be defeated, but pulverized. The central lesson of World Order is: "What we say goes"; we are the masters, you shine our shoes, and don't ever forget it. Others too are to understand that the world is to be ruled by force, the arena in which the US reigns supreme, though with its domestic decline, others will have to pay the bills. The Lessons at Home
There is also a lesson for the domestic audience. They must be terrorized by images of a menacing force about to overwhelm us -- though in fact "much weaker" and defenseless. The monster can then be miraculously slain, "decisively and rapidly," while the frightened population celebrates its deliverance from imminent disaster, praising the heroism of the Great Leader who has come to the rescue just in the nick of time.
These techniques, which have familiar precedents, were employed through the 1980s, for sound reasons. The population was opposed to the major Reagan policies, largely an extension of Carter plans. It was therefore necessary to divert attention to ensure that democratic processes would remain as "hypothetical" as the peace process. Propaganda campaigns created awesome chimeras: international terrorists, Sandinistas marching on Texas, narcotraffickers, crazed Arabs. Even Grenada was portrayed as a mortal threat, with fevered tales of an air base that would be used to attack the continent, huge Soviet military stores, and the threat to Caribbean sea lanes. Only a year ago, Noriega -- a minor thug by international standards -- was elevated to the status of Genghis Khan as the US prepared to invade Panama to restore the rule of the 10% white minority and to ensure that the Canal Treaty, or some remnant of it, will not interfere with US control over the Canal and the military bases there. Government-media Agitprop has had some success. The tourism industry in Europe repeatedly collapsed while Americans cower in terror, afraid to travel to European cities where they would be 100 times as safe as they are at home, eliciting much derision in the right-wing European press.
In the Old World Order, the Soviet threat was skillfully deployed to mobilize public support for intervention abroad and for subsidies to high tech industry at home. These basic institutional requirements remain a policy guide, and they have their consequences. During Bush's two years in office, real wages continued to decline, falling to the level of the late 1950s for non-supervisory workers (about 2/3 of the work force). Three million more children crossed the poverty line. Over a million people lost their homes. Infant mortality increased beyond its already scandalous levels. Federal spending dropped for education and for non-military R&D. Government, corporate and household debt continued to rise, in part concealed with various budgetary scams. Financial institutions drowned in red ink, following the S&Ls, set on their course by the Deregulation Task Force headed by George Bush. The gap between rich and poor grew to postwar record levels. Civic services collapsed further while the US took a healthy lead worldwide in prison population per capita, doubling the figure during the Reagan-Bush years, with black males now four times as likely to be in prison as in South Africa. And the "third deficit" of unmet social and economic needs (repairing infrastructure, etc.) is calculated at some $130 billion annually, omitting the S&Ls.7
As inspection of its domestic programs makes clear, the Administration has no intention of addressing such problems; rightly, from its point of view. Any serious measures would infringe upon the prerogatives of its constituency. For the executives of a transnational corporation or other privileged sectors, it is important for the world to be properly disciplined, for advanced industry to be subsidized, and for the wealthy to be guaranteed security. It does not matter much if public education and health deteriorate, the useless population rots in urban concentrations or prisons, and the basis for a livable society collapses for the public at large.
For such reasons, it is important to distract the domestic population. They must join their betters in admiring "the stark and vivid definition of principle...baked into [George Bush] during his years at Andover and Yale, that honor and duty compels you to punch the bully in the face" -- the words of the awe-struck reporter who released the Policy Review explaining how to deal with "much weaker enemies."8
The principle that you punch the bully in the face -- when you are sure that he is securely bound and beaten to a pulp -- is a natural one for advocates of the rule of force. It teaches the right lessons to the world. And at home, cheap victories deflect the attention of a frightened population from domestic disasters while the state pursues its tasks as global enforcer, serving the interests of the wealthy. Meanwhile, the country continues its march towards a two-tiered society with striking Third World features.
The same Times reporter goes on to quote the gallant champion himself: "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all." The second national newspaper joined in, applauding the "spiritual and intellectual" triumph in the Gulf: "Martial values that had fallen into disrepute were revitalized," and "Presidential authority, under assault since Vietnam, was strengthened." With barely a gesture towards the dangers of overexuberance, the ultraliberal Boston Globe hailed the "victory for the psyche" and the new "sense of nationhood and projected power" under the leadership of a man who is "one tough son of a bitch," a man with "the guts to risk all for a cause" and a "burning sense of duty," who showed "the depth and steely core of his convictions" and his faith that "we are a select people, with a righteous mission in this earth," the latest in a line of "noble-minded missionaries" going back to his hero Teddy Roosevelt -- who was going to "show those Dagos that they will have to behave decently" and to teach proper lessons to the "wild and ignorant people" standing in the way of "the dominant world races." Liberal columnists praised "the magnitude of Bush's triumph" over a much weaker enemy, dismissing the "uninformed garbage" of those who carp in dark corners (Thomas Oliphant). The open admiration for fascist values is a matter of some interest.9
For 20 years, there have been vigorous efforts to "kick the Vietnam syndrome," defined by Reaganite intellectual Norman Podhoretz as "the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force." He thought the disease was cured when we were "standing tall" after our astounding victory in Grenada. Perhaps that triumph of martial virtues was not enough, but now, at last, we have kicked these sickly inhibitions, the President exults. "Bush's leadership has transformed the Vietnam Syndrome into a Gulf Syndrome, where `Out Now!' is a slogan directed at aggressors, not at us" (Thomas Oliphant); we were the injured party in Vietnam, defending ourselves from the Vietnamese aggressors, from "internal aggression" as Adlai Stevenson explained in 1964. Having overcome the Vietnam syndrome, we now observe "the worthy and demanding standard that aggression must be opposed, in exceptional cases by force," Oliphant continues -- but, somehow, we are not to march on Jakarta, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Washington, Ankara, and a long series of other capitals.10
The ground had been well prepared for overcoming this grave malady, including dedicated labors to ensure that the Vietnam war is properly understood -- as a "noble cause," not a violent assault against South Vietnam, then all of Indochina. When the President proclaims that we will no longer fight with one hand tied behind our backs, respectable opinion asks only whether we were indeed too restrained in Indochina, or whether our defense of freedom was always a "lost cause" and a "mistake." It is "clear," the New York Times reports, that "the lesson of Vietnam was a sense of the limits of United States power"; in contrast, the lesson of Afghanistan is not a sense of the limits of Soviet power. Reviewing the "heroic tale" of a Vietnamese collaborator with the French colonialists and their American successors, the Times describes the methods he devised in 1962 to destroy the "political organization" of the South Vietnamese revolutionaries. The most successful device was to send "counter-terror teams to track down and capture or kill recalcitrant Vietcong officials" -- counter-terror teams, because it was the US and its clients who were assassinating civilians to undermine an indigenous political organization that far surpassed anything the US could construct, as fully conceded.11
So effectively has history been rewritten that an informed journalist at the left-liberal extreme can report that "the US military's distrust of cease-fires seems to stem from the Vietnam War," when the Communist enemy -- but not, apparently, the US invaders -- "used the opportunity [of a bombing pause] to recover and fight on" (Fred Kaplan). Near the dissident extreme of scholarship, the chairman of the Center for European Studies at Harvard can inform us that Nixon's Christmas bombing of Hanoi in 1972 "brought the North Vietnamese back to the conference table" (Stanley Hoffmann). Such fables, long ago demolished, are alive and well, as the propaganda system has elegantly recovered; no real problem among the educated classes, who had rarely strayed from the Party Line. Americans generally estimate Vietnamese deaths at about 100,000, a recent academic study reveals. Its authors ask what conclusions we would draw about the political culture of Germany if the public estimated Holocaust deaths at 300,000, while declaring their righteousness. A question we might ponder.12 The Leader and his Teachings
George Bush's career as a "public servant" also has its lessons concerning the New World Order. He is the one head of state who stands condemned by the World Court for "the unlawful use of force"; in direct defiance of the Court, he persisted in the terror and illegal economic warfare against Nicaragua to prevent a free election in February 1990, then withheld aid from his chosen government because of its refusal to drop the World Court suit. Bush dismisses with contempt the Court's call for reparations for these particular crimes (others are far beyond reach), while he and his sycophants solemnly demand reparations from Iraq, confident that respectable opinion will see no problem here.
Or in the fact that in March 1991, the Administration once again contested World Court jurisdiction over claims resulting from its crimes; in this case, Iran's request that the Court order reparations for the downing of an Iranian civilian airliner in July 1988 by the US warship Vincennes, part of the naval squadron sent by Reagan and Bush to support Iraq's aggression. The airbus was shot down in a commercial corridor off the coast of Iran with 290 people killed -- out of "a need to prove the viability of Aegis," its high tech missile system, in the judgment of US Navy commander David Carlson, who "wondered aloud in disbelief" as he monitored the events from his nearby vessel. Bush further sharpened our understanding of the sacred Rule of Law in April 1990, when he conferred the Legion of Merit award upon the commander of the Vincennes (along with the officer in charge of anti-air warfare) for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service" in the Gulf and for the "calm and professional atmosphere" under his command during the period when the airliner was shot down. "The tragedy isn't mentioned in the texts of the citations," AP reported. The media kept a dutiful silence -- at home, that is. In the less disciplined Third World, the facts were reported in reviews of US terrorism and "U.S. imperial policy" generally.13
Bush opened the post-Cold War era with the murderous invasion of Panama. Since he became UN Ambassador in 1971, the US is far in the lead in vetoing Security Council resolutions and blocking the UN peacekeeping function, followed by Britain -- "our lieutenant (the fashionable word is partner)," in the words of a senior Kennedy advisor.14 Bush took part in the Reaganite campaign to undermine the UN, adding further blows during the Gulf crisis. With threats and bribery, the US pressured the Security Council to wash its hands of the crisis, authorizing individual states to proceed as they wished, including the use of force (UN Resolution 678). The Council thus seriously violated the UN Charter, which bars any use of force until the Council determines that peaceful means have been exhausted (which, transparently, they had not, so no such determination was even considered), and requires further that the Security Council -- not George Bush -- will determine what further means may be necessary. Having once again subverted the UN, the US compelled the Security Council to violate its rules by refusing repeated requests by members for meetings to deal with the mounting crisis, rules that the US had angrily insisted were "mandatory" when it objected to brief delays in earlier years. In further contempt for the UN, the US bombed Iraqi nuclear facilities, proudly announcing the triumph shortly after the General Assembly reaffirmed the long-standing ban against such attacks and called upon the Security Council "to act immediately" if such a violation occurs; the vote was 144-1, the US in splendid isolation as usual (Dec. 4, 1990).15
Bush was called to head the CIA in 1975, just in time to support near-genocide in East Timor, a policy that continues with critical US-UK support for General Suharto, whose achievements even dim the lustre of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, exhibiting his refined taste for international law, Bush looks the other way as his Australian ally arranges with the Indonesian conqueror to exploit Timorese oil, rejecting Portugal's protest to the World Court on the grounds that "There is no binding legal obligation not to recognize acquisition of territory by force" (Foreign Minister Gareth Evans). Furthermore, Evans explains, "The world is a pretty unfair place, littered with examples of acquisition by force..."; and in the same breath, following the US-UK lead, he bans all official contacts with the PLO with proper indignation because of its "consistently defending and associating itself with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait." Recognizing that the monumental cynicism might disrupt the posturing about international law and the crime of aggression, the ideological institutions have protected the public from such undesirable facts, keeping them in the shadows along with a new Indonesian military offensive in Timor under the cover of the Gulf crisis, and the Western-backed Indonesian operations that may wipe out a million tribal people in Irian Jaya, with thousands of victims of chemical weapons among the perhaps 300,000 already killed, according to human rights activists and the few observers.16
The attention of the civilized West is to be focused, laser-like, on the crimes of the official enemy, not on those we could readily mitigate or eliminate, without tens of thousands of tons of bombs.
On becoming Vice-President, Bush travelled to Manila to pay his respects to another fine killer and torturer, Ferdinand Marcos, praising him as a man "pledged to democracy" who had performed great "service to freedom," and adding that "we love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes." He lent his talents to the war against the Church and other deviants committed to "the preferential option for the poor" in Central America, now littered with tortured and mutilated bodies, perhaps devastated beyond recovery. In the Middle East, Bush supported Israel's harsh occupations, its savage invasion of Lebanon, and its refusal to honor Security Council Resolution 425 calling for its immediate withdrawal from Lebanon (March 1978, one of several). The plea was renewed by the government of Lebanon in February 1991,17 ignored as usual while the US client terrorizes the occupied region and bombs elsewhere at will, and the rest of Lebanon is taken over by Bush's new friend Hafez el-Assad, a clone of Saddam Hussein.
Another friend, Turkish president Turgut Ozal, was authorized to intensify Turkey's repression of Kurds in partial payment for his services as "a protector of peace," in Bush's words, joining those who "stand up for civilized values around the world" against Saddam Hussein. While making some gestures towards his own Kurdish population and attempting to split them from Iraqi Kurds, Ozal continues to preside over "the world's worst place to be Kurdish" (Vera Saeedpour, director of the New York-based program that monitors Kurdish human rights). Journalists, the Human Rights Association in the Kurdish regions, and lawyers report that this protector of civilized values has made use of his new prestige to have his security forces expel 50,000 people from 300 villages, burning homes and possessions so that the people will not return, and fire on anti-war demonstrators, while continuing the torture that is standard procedure in all state security cases. The Frankfurt relief organization Medico International reported in late January that hundreds of thousands of Kurds were in flight from cities near the Iraqi frontier, with women, children and old people trying to survive the cold winter in holes in the ground or animal sheds while the government bars any help or provisions, the army is destroying fields with flame throwers, and jet planes are bombing Kurdish villages. Human Rights Watch reports that in mid-August, Turkey officially suspended the European Convention on Human Rights for the Kurdish provinces, eliminating these marginal protections with no protest from any Western government, while the army "stepped up the village burnings and deportations." Censorship is so extreme that the facts remain obscure, and lacking ideological utility, are of no interest in any event.18
Plainly, we have here a man who can be expected to "breathe light" into the problems of the Middle East. If we prefer the facts, we may derive further conclusions about the New World Order. The Background to the War
Prior to August 2, 1990, the US and its allies found Saddam Hussein an attractive partner. In 1980, they helped prevent UN reaction to Iraq's attack on Iran, which they supported throughout. At the time, Iraq was a Soviet client, but Reagan, Thatcher and Bush recognized Saddam Hussein as "our kind of guy" and induced him to switch sides. In 1982, Reagan removed Iraq from the list of states that sponsor terror, permitting it to receive enormous credits for the purchase of US exports while the US became a major market for its oil. By 1987, Iraq praised Washington for its "positive efforts" in the Gulf while expressing disappointment over Soviet refusal to join the tilt towards Iraq (Tariq Aziz). US intervention was instrumental in enabling Iraq to gain the upper hand in the war. Western corporations took an active role in building up Iraq's military strength, notably its weapons of mass destruction. Reagan and Bush regularly intervened to block congressional censure of their friend's atrocious human rights record, strenuously opposing any actions that might interfere with profits for US corporations or with Iraq's military build-up.19
Britain was no different. When Saddam was reported to have gassed thousands of Kurds at Halabja, the White House intervened to block any serious congressional reaction and not one member of the governing Conservative Party was willing to join a left-labor condemnation in Parliament. Both governments now profess outrage over the crime, and denounce those who did protest for appeasing their former comrade, while basking in media praise for their high principle.20 It was, of course, understood that Saddam Hussein was one of the world's most savage tyrants. But he was "our gangster," joining a club in which he could find congenial associates. Repeating a familiar formula, Geoffrey Kemp, head of the Middle East section in the National Security Council under Reagan, observed that "We weren't really that naive. We knew that he was an SOB, but he was our SOB."
By mid-July 1990, our SOB was openly moving troops towards Kuwait and waving a fist at his neighbors. Relations with Washington remained warm. Bush intervened once again to block congressional efforts to deny loan guarantees to Iraq. On August 1, while intelligence warned of the impending invasion, Bush approved the sale of advanced data transmission equipment to his friendly SOB. In the preceding two weeks, licenses had been approved for $4.8 million in advanced technology products, including computers for the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, for the Saad 16 research center that was later destroyed by bombing on grounds that it was developing rockets and poison gas, and for another plant that was repeatedly bombed as a chemical weapons factory. The State Department indicated to Saddam that it had no serious objection to his rectifying border disputes with Kuwait, or intimidating other oil producers to raise the oil price to $25 a barrel or more. For reasons that remain unexplained, Kuwait's response to Iraqi pressures and initiatives was defiant and contemptuous.21
The available evidence can be read in various ways. The most conservative (and, in my view, most plausible) reading is that Saddam misunderstood the signals as a "green light" to take all of Kuwait, possibly with the intention of setting up a puppet government behind which he would keep effective power (on the model of the US in Panama and many other cases), possibly as a bargaining chip to achieve narrower ends, possibly with broader goals. That was unacceptable: no independent force is permitted to gain significant control over the world's major energy reserves, which are to be in the hands of the US and its clients.
Saddam's record was already so sordid that the conquest of Kuwait added little to it, but that action was a crime that matters: the crime of independence. Torture, tyranny, aggression, slaughter of civilians are all acceptable by US-UK standards, but not stepping on our toes. The standard policies were then set into motion. Deterring Iraqi Democracy
Throughout these years, Iraqi democratic forces opposing Bush's comrade were rebuffed by the White House, once again in February 1990, when they sought support for a call for parliamentary democracy. In the same month, the British Foreign Office impeded their efforts to condemn Iraqi terror, for fear that they might harm Anglo-Iraqi relations. Two months later, after the execution of London Observer correspondent Farzad Bazoft and other Iraqi atrocities, Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd reiterated the need to maintain good relations with Iraq. Iraqi Kurds received the same treatment. In mid-August, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani flew to Washington to seek support for guerrilla operations against Saddam's regime. Neither Pentagon nor State Department officials would speak to him, even though such operations would surely have weakened Iraq's forces in Kuwait; he was rebuffed again in March 1991. The reason, presumably, was concern over the sensibilities of the Turkish "defender of civilized values," who looked askance at Kurdish resistance.22
It is a very revealing fact that the Iraqi democratic opposition was not only ignored by Washington but also scrupulously excluded from the media, throughout the Gulf crisis. That is easily explained when we hear what they had to say.
On the eve of the air war, the German press published a statement of the "Iraqi Democratic Group," conservative in orientation ("liberal," in the European sense), reiterating its call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein but also opposing "any foreign intervention in the Near East," criticizing US "policies of aggression" in the Third World and its intention to control Middle East oil, and rejecting UN resolutions "that had as their goal the starvation of our people." The statement called for the withdrawal of US-UK troops, withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, self-determination for the Kuwaiti people, "a peaceful settlement of the Kuwait problem, democracy for Iraq, and autonomy for Iraq-Kurdistan." A similar stand was taken by the Teheran-based Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (in a communiqu from Beirut); the Iraqi Communist Party; Mas'ud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party; and other prominent opponents of the Iraqi regime, many of whom had suffered bitterly from Saddam's atrocities. Falih `Abd al-Jabbar, an Iraqi journalist in exile in London, commented: "Although the Iraqi opposition parties have neither given up their demand for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait nor their hope of displacing Saddam some time in the future, they believe that they will lose the moral right to oppose the present regime if they do not side with Iraq against the war." They called for reliance on sanctions, which, they argued, would prove effective. "All the opposition parties are agreed in calling for an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait," British journalist Edward Mortimer reports, "but most are very unhappy about the military onslaught by the US-led coalition" and prefer economic and political sanctions. They also condemned the murderous bombing.23
A delegation of the Kuwaiti democratic opposition in Amman in December took the same position, opposing any Western assault against Iraq. On British television, anti-Saddam Arab intellectuals in London, including the prominent Kuwaiti opposition leader Dr. Ahmed al-Khatib, were unanimous in calling for a cease-fire and for serious consideration of Saddam's February 15 peace offer. In October 1990, Dr. al-Khatib had stated that Kuwaitis "do not want a military solution" with its enormous costs for Kuwait, and strenuously opposed any military action.24
The silence here was deafening, and most instructive. Unlike Bush and his associates, the peace movement and Iraqi democratic opposition had always opposed Saddam Hussein. But they also opposed the quick resort to violence to undercut a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Such an outcome would have avoided the slaughter of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of two countries, harsh reprisals, an environmental catastrophe, further slaughter by the Iraqi government and the likely emergence of another murderous US-backed tyranny there. But it would not have taught the crucial lessons, already reviewed. With the mission accomplished, the disdain for Iraqi democrats continues unchanged. A European diplomat observes that "The Americans would prefer to have another Assad, or better yet, another Mubarak in Baghdad," referring to their "military-backed regimes" (dictatorships, that of Assad being particularly odious). "This may account for the fact that thus far, the administration has refused to meet with Iraqi opposition leaders in exile," Jane Friedman reports in the Christian Science Monitor. A diplomat from the US-run coalition says that "we will accept Saddam in Baghdad in order to have Iraq as one state," which might be interpreted as meaning: to prevent Iraqi democracy.25
In mid-March, Iraqi opposition leaders alleged that the US favors a military dictatorship, insisting that "changes in the regime must come from within, from people already in power" (Leith Kubba, head of the London-based Iraqi Democratic Reform Movement). Banker Ahmed Chalabi, another prominent opposition activist, said that "the United States, covered by the fig leaf of non-interference in Iraqi affairs, is waiting for Saddam to butcher the insurgents in the hope that he can be overthrown later by a suitable officer," an attitude rooted in the US policy of "supporting dictatorships to maintain stability." Official US spokesmen confirmed that the Bush administration had not talked to any Iraqi opposition leaders and did not then intend to: "We felt that political meetings with them...would not be appropriate for our policy at this time," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated on March 14.26
These judgments were confirmed in the following weeks. Bush had openly encouraged uprisings against Saddam Hussein, and, according to intelligence sources, had authorized the CIA in January to aid rebels -- secretly, perhaps to avoid offending his Turkish and Saudi friends. But he stood by quietly as Saddam slaughtered Shi'ites and Kurds, tacitly approving the use of helicopter gunships to massacre civilians, refusing to impede the terror or even to provide humanitarian aid to the victims. Fleeing refugees bitterly asked journalists "Where is George Bush," probably not knowing the answer: he was fishing in Florida. Turkey was accused by Kurdish leaders of blocking food shipments to starving Kurds, and later closed its borders to most of those in flight. US forces turned back people fleeing the terror in the South, and refused even to provide food and water to those who had escaped, Reuters reported, though individual soldiers did so. A senior Pentagon official said: "The bottom line here is, if you're suggesting we would stay purely for a purpose of protecting the refugees, we won't." "We are under no obligation to them," another added. Our job is to destroy, nothing more. The US and Britain barred efforts to have the UN Security Council condemn the massacre, let alone act in any way, until it was too late to matter.27
So profound is Bush's commitment to the principle of noninterference that he also could lend no support to Kuwaiti democrats. His delicacy barred mention of the word "democracy" even in private communications to the Emir, officials explained. "You can't pick out one country to lean on over another," one said; never will you find the US "leaning on" Nicaragua or Cuba, for example, or moving beyond the narrowest interpretation of international law and UN initiatives.28
Those who find any of this strange are simply unacquainted with standard procedures and the reasons for them. Blocking the Diplomatic Track
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait fell within the range of many other recent atrocities. The regular response of the international community is condemnation, followed by sanctions and diplomatic efforts. These procedures rarely succeed, or even begin, because they are blocked by the great powers, in the past several decades, primarily the United States, with Britain second; these powers account for 80% of Security Council vetoes in the 20 years of George Bush's national prominence. Since the US and UK happened to oppose Iraq's aggression, sanctions could be invoked, with unusually high prospects for success because of their unprecedented severity and the fact that the usual violators -- the US, UK, and their allies -- would, for once, adhere to them. The likelihood of success was stressed by virtually all witnesses at the Nunn Senate Hearings (including former Defense Secretaries and chairmen of the Joint Chiefs), as well as by academic specialists on sanctions. The question whether sanctions would have worked may be idle; quite possibly they already had worked by late December, perhaps mid-August. That seems a reasonable interpretation of the Iraqi withdrawal proposals confirmed or released by US officials.
Washington moved resolutely to bar the success of peaceful means. Following the prescriptions of the National Security Policy Review, it ensured that this "much weaker enemy" would be punished by force. On August 22, New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman outlined the Administration position: the "diplomatic track" must be blocked, or negotiations might "defuse the crisis" at the cost of "a few token gains" for Iraq, perhaps "a Kuwaiti island or minor border adjustments." A week later, Knut Royce revealed in Newsday that a proposal in just those terms had been offered by Iraq, but was dismissed by the Administration (and suppressed by the Times, as it quietly conceded). The proposal, regarded as "serious" and "negotiable" by a State Department Mideast expert, called for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in exchange for access to the Gulf (meaning control over two uninhabited mudflats that had been assigned to Kuwait in the imperial settlement, leaving Iraq landlocked) and Iraqi control of the Rumailah oil field, about 95% in Iraq, extending two miles into Kuwait over an unsettled border.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry adds further details. The offer, relayed via Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Nizar Hamdoon, reached Washington on August 9. According to a confidential Congressional summary, it represented the views of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders. On August 10, the proposal was brought to the National Security Council, which rejected it as "already moving against policy," according to the retired Army officer who arranged the meeting. Former CIA chief Richard Helms attempted to carry the initiative further, but got nowhere. Further efforts by Hamdoon, the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, and US interlocuters elicited no response. "There was nothing in this [peace initiative] that interested the US government," Helms said. A Congressional summary, with an input from intelligence, concludes that a diplomatic solution might have been possible at that time. That we will never know. Washington feared that it was possible, and took no chances, for the reasons expressed through the Times diplomatic correspondent.
From the outset, the US position was clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal: no outcome will be tolerated other than capitulation to force. Others continued to pursue diplomatic efforts. On January 2, US officials disclosed an Iraqi proposal to withdraw in return for agreement of an unspecified nature on the Palestinian problem and weapons of mass destruction. US officials described the offer as "interesting" because it mentioned no border issues, taking it to "signal Iraqi interest in a negotiated settlement." A State Department Mideast expert described it as a "serious prenegotiation position." The facts were again reported by Knut Royce of Newsday, who observed that Washington "immediately dismissed the proposal." A Times report the next day suggested that mere statement by the Security Council of an intention to deal with the two "linked" issues might have sufficed for complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Again, the US was taking no chances, and quashed the threat at once.29 The story continued. On the eve of the air war, the US and UK announced that they would veto a French proposal for immediate Iraqi withdrawal in exchange for a meaningless Security Council statement on a possible future conference; Iraq then rejected the proposal as well. On February 15, Iraq offered to withdraw completely from Kuwait, stating that the withdrawal "should be linked" to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and Lebanon, in accord with UN resolutions. The Iraqi Ambassador to the UN stated that the offer was unconditional, and that the terms cited were "issues" that should be addressed, not "conditions" involving "linkage." The State Department version, published in the New York Times and elsewhere, mistranslated the Iraqi offer, giving the wording: "Israel must withdraw..." Washington at once rejected the offer, and the Ambassador's comments, which were barely noted in the press, were ignored. The US insisted that Iraqi withdrawal must precede a cease-fire; Iraqi forces must leave their bunkers and be smashed to pieces, after which the US might consider a cease-fire. The media seemed to consider this quite reasonable.30
Washington's plan was to launch the ground operation on February 23. Problems arose when the Soviet Union, a day earlier, reached an agreement with Iraq to withdraw if UN resolutions would then be cancelled. The President, "having concluded that the Soviet diplomacy was getting out of hand" (as the Times puts it), brusquely dismissed the final Soviet-Iraq agreement, quickly changing the topic to the charge of an Iraqi "scorched-earth policy." Again, the crucial difference between the two positions had to do with timing: should Iraq withdraw one day after a cease-fire, as the Soviet-Iraqi proposal stated, or while the bombing continued, as the US demanded.31
Throughout, the media went along, with scarcely a false note.
The record strongly supports the judgment of Reagan insider James Webb, former Navy Secretary, one of the few critics of the war to gain a public forum. In the Wall Street Journal, he wrote that "this administration has dealt in extremes," favoring "brute force" over other means. Bush "relentlessly maneuvered our nation into a war" that was unnecessary. He chose to turn the country into "the world's Hessians," a mercenary state paid by others while "our society reels from internal problems" that the administration refuses to address.32
This record is, again, highly informative. The possibility of a negotiated settlement was excluded from the political and ideological systems with remarkable efficiency. When Republican National Committee Chairman Clayton Yeutter states that if a Democrat had been President, Kuwait would not be liberated today, few if any Democrats can respond by saying: If I had been President, Kuwait might well have been liberated long before, perhaps by August, without the disastrous consequences of your relentless drive for war. In the media, one will search far for a hint that diplomatic options might have been pursued, or even existed. The mainstream journals of opinion were no different. Those few who felt a need to justify their support for the slaughter carefully evaded these crucial issues, in Europe as well.
To evaluate the importance of this service to power, consider again the situation just before the air war began. On January 9, a national poll revealed that 2/3 of the US population favored a conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict if that would lead to Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The question was framed to minimize a positive response, stressing that the Bush administration opposed the idea.33 It is a fair guess that each person who nevertheless advocated such a settlement assumed that he or she was isolated in this opinion. Few if any had heard any public advocacy of their position; the media had been virtually uniform in following the Washington Party Line, dismissing "linkage" (i.e., diplomacy) as an unspeakable crime, in this unique case. It is hardly likely that respondents were aware that an Iraqi proposal calling for a settlement in these terms had been released a week earlier by US officials, who found it reasonable; or that the Iraqi democratic forces, and most of the world, took the same stand.
Suppose that the crucial facts had been known and the issues honestly addressed. Then the 2/3 figure would doubtless have been far higher, and it might have been possible to avoid the huge slaughter preferred by the administration, with its useful consequences: the world learns that it is to be ruled by force, the dominant role of the US in the Gulf and its control over Middle East oil are secured, and the population is diverted from the growing disaster around us. In brief, the educated classes and the media did their duty.
The academic study of attitudes and beliefs cited earlier revealed that the public overwhelmingly supports the use of force to reverse illegal occupation and serious human rights abuses. But, like journalists and others who proudly proclaim this "worthy standard," they do not call for force in a host of cases that at once come to mind. They do not applaud Scud attacks on Tel Aviv, though Saddam's sordid arguments compare well enough to those of his fellow-criminal in Washington, if honestly considered; nor would they approve bombs in Washington, a missile attack on Jakarta, etc.34 Why? Again, because of the triumphs of the ideological system. The facts having been consigned to their appropriate obscurity, the slogans can be trumpeted, unchallenged. Deterring US Democracy
Such examples, readily extended, illustrate the success in suppressing democracy in the United States. The ideal, long sought by the business community and the political class, is that the general population should be marginalized, each person isolated, deprived of the kinds of associations that might lead to independent thought and political action. Each must sit alone in front of the tube, absorbing its doctrinal message: trust in the Leader; ape the images of the "good life" presented by the commercials and the sitcoms; be a spectator, a consumer, a passive worker who follows orders, but not a participant in the way the world works. To achieve this goal, it has been necessary to destroy unions and other popular organizations, restrict the political system to factions of the business party, and construct a grand edifice of lies to conceal every relevant issue, whether it be Indochina, Central America, the Middle East, terrorism, the Cold War, domestic policy, ..., whatever -- so that the proper lessons are on the shelf, ready when needed.
The methods have been refined over many years. The first state propaganda agency was established by the Woodrow Wilson administration. Within a few months, a largely pacifist population had been turned into a mob of warmongers, raging to destroy everything German and later backing the Wilson repression that demolished unions and independent thought. The success impressed the business and intellectual communities, leading to the doctrines of "manufacture of consent" and the elaboration of methods to reduce the general public to its proper spectator role. When the threat of popular democracy and labor organizing arose again in the 1930s, business moved quickly to destroy the virus, with great success. Labor's last real legislative victory was in 1935, and the supporting culture has largely been swept away. "Scientific methods of strike-breaking" rallied community support against the disruptive elements that interfered with the "harmony" to which "we" are devoted -- "we" being the corporate executive, the honest sober worker, the housewife, the people united in support of "Americanism." Huge media campaigns wielding vacuous slogans to dispel the danger of thought are now a staple of the ideological system. To derail concern over whether you should support their policy, the PR system focuses attention on whether you support our troops -- meaningless words, as empty as the question of whether you support the people of Iowa. That, of course, is just the point: to reduce the population to gibbering idiots, mouthing empty phrases and patriotic slogans, waving ribbons, watching gladiatorial contests and the models designed for them by the PR industry, but, crucially, not thinking or acting. A few must be trained to think and act, if only to serve the needs of the powerful; but they must be kept within the rigid constraints of the ideological system. These are the tasks of the media, journals of opinion, schools and universities.
They have been accomplished with much distinction. To approach any serious question, it is first necessary to clear away mountains of ideological rubble. But the triumph is far from complete, far less so than a generation ago. Outside elite circles, the indoctrination is thin, and often is cast aside with surprising ease if people have an opportunity to think. Skepticism and disbelief are barely below the surface. Where there are even fragments of organization, many have been able to defend themselves from the ideological onslaught. The famed "gender gap" is an example. The opportunities for association and independent thought offered by the womens' movement have led to a dramatic shift in attitudes -- or, perhaps, willingness to express long-held attitudes -- over the past two decades. The same is true of church groups, solidarity organizations, and others.
The political leadership and others who hail the martial virtues know well that the domestic base for intervention in the traditional mode has eroded: no more Marines chasing Sandino, or US forces marauding for years in the Mekong Delta. Either proxy forces must be used, as in the international terror networks of the Reagan-Bush years, or victory must be "rapid and decisive." And a "much weaker enemy" can be attacked only if it is first demonized and built to awesome dimensions by vast propaganda campaigns. By the same token, those who hope to narrow the options for violence and state terror must find ways to clear away the rubble under which the reality of the world has been buried. It is not an easy task, but the task of raising consciousness never is, and it has been pursued effectively under circumstances that most of us can barely imagine. The War
The war followed the script laid out for confrontations with a "much weaker enemy." A ground war was avoided. US combat casualties were on the scale of Grenada, while Iraqi military deaths are estimated by the US military at 1-200,000, killed from a safe distance. The victors bulldozed corpses into mass graves, in violation of the Geneva Conventions to which they appeal when some interest is served. But the laws of war are as relevant as they were in earlier days, when the New York Times cheerily described how helicopter gunships would attack the "dazed and bleeding people" surrounding B-52 bomb craters in Vietnam and "put them out of their misery," honoring the law that soldiers unable to fight "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely."35
In a briefing, General Schwartzkopf observed that during the Grenada invasion, the Cubans fought harder than expected -- referring to the several dozen paramilitary construction workers who resisted the assault of 6000 elite US forces after Washington had ignored Cuba's announcement that they would not fire unless attacked, and its call for a peaceful resolution. This time, the heroic General explained, we would take no chances. The tactic was to pulverize the Third World peasant army -- hiding in the sand, immobile, and defenseless -- after months of disinformation about its artillery, sophisticated defenses, chemical weapons, and other fantastic capacities, later conceded to be largely fakery. When the enemy was utterly demoralized, US forces cut off escape, the Air Force slaughtered those attempting to flee (including Asian workers and Kuwaiti hostages, BBC reported),36 and troops were sent it to pick up the pieces -- though elite Iraqi units were allowed to move on to crush later revolts with savage terror, in accord with the US aim of reconstructing something rather like the friendly regime of the pre-August 1990 period, but now with firmer guarantees of obedience to the master.
The air war had already reduced Iraq to a "pre-industrial age," creating "near apocalyptic" conditions, a UN survey reported. The air attack was aimed at civilian targets, called "military" for the purpose: water, sewage, and power systems, bridges and infrastructure generally. The results, as expected, were the effective destruction of the health system so that limbs have to be sawed off without anesthesia among other harrowing scenes in what remains of hospitals; mounting deaths from disease and lack of food and water, with huge increase in infant diarrheal infections and other serious diseases; water down to 5% of normal supply; food rations at 1000 calories with further crises impending; and the likelihood of major epidemics from what amounts to biological warfare. The Times reported that the US opposes any "premature relaxation" of these conditions, insisting that the civilian population be held hostage in the expectation that if they suffer enough, they might remove Saddam Hussein. This is apart from the tens of thousands of civilians killed, the destruction of four hospitals, thousands of homes and other civilian structures by bombing, and other goals readily -- and of course heroically -- achieved when the the "much weaker enemy" is entirely defenseless.37
Had the diplomatic track that Washington feared been successfully pursued, Kuwait too would have been spared the war and the Iraqi terror, which, according to reports, rapidly increased in the final days. An environmental catastrophe would also have been averted. In the small print, the Times noted that according to Pentagon officials, "the burning of Kuwait's oil fields might have been a defensive action by Iraq, which appeared to be anticipating imminent attack by allied ground forces." While Iraq created the largest oil spill, the one that threatened the desalination plant at Safaniya in Saudi Arabia probably resulted from US bombing, US military officials said. A Pentagon official added that the Iraqi oil spill might have been aimed at the water sources for US troops, in retaliation for US destruction of Kuwait's major desalination plant just before. The prime responsibility for the Gulf tragedy lies on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein; but he is not without his partners in crime, nor are his crimes unique.38
Some commentators expressed qualms about the savagery of the final slaughter, but a look at history should have relieved their surprise. When violence is cost-free, all bars are down. During the Indochina war, there were constraints on bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, or dikes in North Vietnam, because of fear of a Chinese or Soviet reaction and the political cost elsewhere. But in the southern sectors of North Vietnam, or elsewhere in Indochina, no one important cared, and the rule was that "anything goes." The Pentagon Papers reveal extensive planning about the bombing of the North, because of potential costs to the US; the far more devastating bombing of the South, begun years earlier and including major war crimes, is passed over with little attention.39
The same was true of World War II. At the end, Japan was defenseless, therefore demolished at will. Tokyo was removed from the list of atom bomb targets because it was "practically rubble" so that an attack would not demonstrate the bomb's power. Many believe that the war ended with the atom bomb. Not so. In the official US Air Force history, we read that General Arnold "wanted as big a finale as possible," and, with management skills that compare to Stormin' Norman's, assembled over 1000 planes to bomb Japan after Nagasaki, killing thousands of people and dropping leaflets saying "Your Government has surrendered. The war is over!" Truman announced Japan's surrender before the last planes returned. Japan was prostrate, so why not? As the Korean war ground on, the Air Force could locate no more targets. Therefore, as an official US Air Force study records, it attacked North Korean dams, leading to such stirring sights as a "flash flood [that] scooped clean 27 miles of valley below," while 75% of the water supply for rice production was wiped out and the enemy suffered "the destruction of their chief sustenance -- rice." "The Westerner can little conceive the awesome meaning which the loss of this staple food commodity has for the Asian," the study explains: "starvation and slow death, ...more feared than the deadliest plague. Hence the show of rage, the flare of violent tempers, and the avowed threats of reprisals when bombs fell on five irrigation dams." The threats of reprisal were empty, and there were no political costs, so these war crimes joined the long list of others compiled with impunity by the powerful, who never fail to strike impressive poses as they call for war crimes trials -- for others.40 The Political Culture
The published record tells us more about the political culture in the United States and the West generally. As noted, the possibility of a peaceful resolution was virtually banned from discussion. When George Bush thundered that There Will Be No Negotiations, a hundred editorials and news reports would laud him for "going the last mile for peace" in "extraordinary efforts at diplomacy." Democratic forces in Iraq, with their unwanted message, were also successfully barred. Popular opposition to the war in most of the world was sporadically reported, but primarily as a problem: Can the friendly dictatorships control their populations while we gain our ends by force? Even among those who did not exalt the "martial values," the totalitarian commitments were scarcely below the surface.
In the US, dissident voices were effectively excluded from the mainstream, as is the norm; and while the media elsewhere were far more open, support for the war on the part of the educated classes in the industrial democracies was so overwhelming that the effects were slight. Strikingly, no concern was voiced over the glaringly obvious fact that no official reason was ever offered for going to war -- no reason, that is, that could not be instantly refuted by a literate teenager. That is the very hallmark of a totalitarian political culture.
The matter merits a closer look. After various failed efforts, one single official reason was offered for war, repeated in a litany by George Bush and his acolytes: "There can be no reward for aggression. Nor will there by any negotiation. Principle cannot be compromised."41 Accordingly, there can be no diplomacy, merely an ultimatum -- capitulate or die -- followed by the quick resort to violence.
Presented with this argument, the educated classes did not collapse in ridicule, but solemnly intoned the Party Line, expressing their awe and admiration for Bush's high principles. One would have to search far for the reaction that would be immediate on the part of any rational and minimally informed person: True, principle cannot be compromised, but since George Bush is a leading supporter of aggression and always has been, the principle invoked is not his, or his government's, or that of any other state. And it follows that no reason has been given at all for rejecting negotiations in favor of violence.
The specific words just quoted happen to be Bush's response to the Iraqi withdrawal proposal released by US officials on January 2. But the stance was maintained throughout. Intellectuals asked no questions, finding nothing to challenge in the farcical official pronouncements and the doctrine clearly implied: the world is to to be ruled by force.
The conclusion is brilliantly clear: no official reason was offered for the war, and the educated classes suppressed the fact with near unanimity. We must look elsewhere to find the reasons for the war -- a question of great significance for any citizen, though not for the guardians of doctrinal purity, who must bar this quest.
The methods adopted were enlightening. Those who had the indecency to demolish the official justifications were accused of demanding "moral purity," opposing any response to Iraq's aggression by states that had been "inconsistent" in the past (in fact, they had consistently pursued their own interests, generally supporting aggression for this reason). Returning to the realm of rational discourse, these miscreants were pointing out that war without stated reason is a sign of totalitarian values, and citizens who reject these values will have to turn elsewhere to discover the real reasons. In the mainstream, they would find very little.
Outside official circles, the standard justification for war was that sanctions would not work and that it was unfair to allow the Kuwaitis to suffer on. Some held that debate over sanctions was a standoff, perhaps irresoluble. By the same logic, the bombing of numerous other countries can at once be justified by mere assertion that nothing else will put an end to aggression, annexation, and human rights abuses. Transparently, all of this is nonsense, even if we ignore the evidence that sanctions had already worked. Indisputably, the burden of proof lies on those who call for the use of force, a heavy burden that was never met, or even seriously faced.
One could not seriously argue that the suffering of the victims in this case was more extreme than in numerous others for which force has never been proposed. Nor is there any merit to the argument that this case was different because of the annexation: putting aside the US-UK response to other cases of annexation, no less horrifying, the drive towards war continued unchanged after Iraqi withdrawal offers that the US did not risk pursuing. The claim that a peaceful settlement would not have destroyed Saddam's warmaking capacity is no more persuasive. Apart from the broader consequences of such an argument if taken seriously, the obvious procedure for eliminating this capacity would have been to explore the possibilities for regional disarmament and security arrangements (proposed by Iraq, rejected by the US, well before the invasion of Kuwait); and after his negotiated withdrawal from Kuwait, to refrain from providing Saddam with lavish high technology assistance for his warmaking capacity, surely a possibility if the West could overcome its greed in this sole instance. Other arguments are equally weighty.
In one of the more serious efforts to address some of the questions, Timothy Garton Ash asserts in the New York Review that while sanctions were possible in dealing with South Africa or Communist East Europe, Saddam Hussein is different. That concludes the argument. We now understand why it was proper to pursue "quiet diplomacy" while our South African friends caused over $60 billion in damage and 1.5 million deaths from 1980 to 1988 in the neighboring states -- putting aside South Africa and Namibia, and the preceding decade. They are basically decent folk, like us and the Communist tyrants. Why? No answer is offered here, but a partial one is suggested by Nelson Mandela, who condemns the hypocrisy and prejudice of the highly selective response to the crimes of the "brown-skinned" Iraqis. The same thought comes to mind when the New York Times assures us that "the world" is united against Saddam Hussein, the most hated man in "the world" -- the world, that is, minus its darker faces.42
The emergence of Western racism with such stunning clarity is worth notice. It is an understandable consequence of the end of the Cold War. For 70 years, it has been possible to disguise traditional practices as "defense against the Soviets," generally a sham, now lost as a pretext. We return, then, to earlier days when the New York press explained that "we must go on slaughtering the natives in English fashion, and taking what muddy glory lies in the wholesale killing til they have learned to respect our arms. The more difficult task of getting them to respect our intentions will follow."43 In fact, deprived of the benefits of our form of civilization, they understood our intentions well enough, and still do. The Contours of the New World Order
Despite basic continuities, there have been changes in the international system. It is by now a truism that the world is economically "tripolar." The collapse of Soviet tyranny adds new dimensions: much of Eastern Europe can be restored to its former status as a quasi-colonial dependency of the West; new pretexts are needed for intervention; there is no longer any deterrent to the use of military force by the United States. But though it has a virtual monopoly of military force, the US no longer has the economic base to impose "order and stability" (meaning, a proper respect for the masters) in the Third World. Therefore, as the business press has been advising, the US must become a "mercenary state," paid for its services by German-led continental Europe and Japan, and relying on the flow of capital from Gulf oil production, which it will dominate. The same is true of its British lieutenant, also facing serious domestic problems, but with a "sturdy national character" and proper tradition. John Keegan, a prominent British military historian and defense commentator for the right-wing Daily Telegraph, outlines the common view succinctly: "The British are used to over 200 years of expeditionary forces going overseas, fighting the Africans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Arabs. It's just something the British take for granted," and the war in the Gulf "rings very, very familiar imperial bells with the British."44
The financial editor of the conservative Chicago Tribune has been stressing these themes with particular clarity. We must be "willing mercenaries," paid for our ample services by our rivals, using our "monopoly power" in the "security market" to maintain "our control over the world economic system." We should run a global protection racket, he advises, selling "protection" to other wealthy powers who will pay us a "war premium." This is Chicago, where the words are understood: if someone bothers you, you call on the mafia to break their bones. And if you fall behind in your premium, your health may suffer too.45
The use of force to control the Third World is only a last resort. Economic weapons remain a more efficient instrument. Some of the newer mechanisms can be seen in the Uruguay Round negotiations, now in disarray because of conflicts among the rich, but sure to be revived in one or another form. Western powers call for liberalization when that is in their interest; and for enhanced protection of domestic economic actors, when that is in their interest. The major concern of the US in the GATT negotiations was not agricultural policy, as much of the coverage suggested, but rather the "new themes," as they are called: guarantees for "intellectual property rights" (ranging from pop culture to software and patents), removal of constraints on services and investment, and so on; a mixture of liberalization and protectionism, determined by the interests of the powerful. The effect of these measures would be to restrict Third World governments to a police function to control their working classes and superfluous population, while transnational corporations gain free access to their resources and monopolize new technology and global investment and production -- and of course are granted the central planning, allocation, production and distribution functions denied to governments, which suffer from the defect that they might fall under the baleful influence of the rabble. These facts have not been lost on Third World commentators, who have been protesting eloquently and mightily. But their voices are as welcome here as those of Iraqi democrats.46
The US will try to establish more firmly its own regional dominance, exploiting "free trade" to secure super-cheap labor in Mexico, the Caribbean, and other dependencies, while Canadian resources are taken over and its industry and cultural independence decline. The press failed to give Bush sufficient credit for his achievements in his Fall 1990 tour of Latin America. Mexico was induced to allow US oil companies new access to its resources, a long-sought policy goal. US companies will now be able "to help Mexico's nationalized oil company," as the Wall Street Journal prefers to construe the matter. Our fondest wish for many years has been to help our little brown brothers, and at last the ignorant peons will allow us to cater to their needs.47
The population at home must also be controlled, and diverted from the growing domestic crises. The basic means have already been described, including periodic campaigns against "much weaker enemies": Cuba is a likely next target, perhaps in time for the next election, if illegal economic warfare, terrorism, intimidation of others to bar normal relations, and other devices can set the stage.
In the Middle East, the US is now well placed to impose its will. The traditional strategic conception has been that the US and its British lieutenant should maintain effective power but indirect control along lines explained by Lord Curzon in the days of British dominance: it is preferable to rule behind an "Arab facade," with "absorption" of the quasi-colony "veiled by constitutional fictions as a protectorate, a sphere of influence, a buffer State, and so on." But we must never run the risk of "losing control," as John Foster Dulles and many others warned.48 The local managers of Gulf oil riches are to be protected by regional enforcers, preferably non-Arab: Turkey, Israel, Pakistan and Iran, which perhaps can be restored to the fold. Bloody tyrants of the Hafez el-Assad variety, with his minority-based dictatorship, may be allowed to take part, possibly even Egypt if it can be purchased, though the regime is not brutal enough to be reliable. US and British force remain on call if needed, and can now be freely deployed, with the Soviet deterrent gone. The US will seek some agreement among its clients, and might even consider an international conference, if it can be properly managed. As Henry Kissinger insisted, Europe and Japan must be kept out of the diplomacy, but the USSR might be tolerated on the assumption that it will be obedient in its current straits.
As for the Palestinians, the US can now move towards the solution outlined by James Baker well before the Gulf crisis: Jordan is the Palestinian state; the occupied territories are to be ruled in accord with the basic guidelines of the Israeli government, with Palestinians permitted to collect local taxes in Nablus; their political representatives will be chosen for them, with the PLO excluded; and "free elections" will be held under Israeli military control with the Palestinian leadership in prison camps. The reality will be masked behind such slogans as "territorial compromise" and "land for peace," interpreted in accord with traditional Labor Party rejectionism, always favored by the US over the Likud variant: Israel will take what it wants in the territories, leaving the surplus population stateless or under Jordanian administration. New excuses will be devised for old policies, which will be hailed as generous and forthcoming.
Economic development for the Palestinians had always been barred, while their land and water were taken. The Labor Party leadership advised that the Palestinians should be given the message: "You shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes, may leave" (Moshe Dayan, more pro-Palestinian than most).49 The advice was followed, though the grim story was largely suppressed here. Palestinians had been permitted to serve the Israeli economy as virtual slave labor, but this interlude is passing. The recent curfew administered a further blow to the Palestinian economy. The victors can now proceed with the policy articulated in February 1989 by Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party, then Defense Secretary, when he informed Peace Now leaders of his satisfaction with the US-PLO dialogue, meaningless discussions to divert attention while Israel suppresses the Intifada by force. The Palestinians "will be broken," Rabin promised, reiterating the prediction of Israeli Arabists 40 years earlier: the Palestinians will "be crushed," will die or "turn into human dust and the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries." Or they will leave, while Russian Jews, now barred from the US by policies designed to deny them a free choice, flock to an expanded Israel, leaving the diplomatic issues moot, as the Baker-Shamir-Peres plan envisaged.50
These are some of the contours of the planned New World Order that come into view as the beguiling rhetoric is lifted away.
1 Baker, Address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Oct. 29, 1990. Bush, Feb. 1; cited by Robert Parry, Nation, April 15, 1991. Lewis, NYT, March 15, 1991.
2 Il Sabato, March 2 (AP, Feb. 26); Times of India, cited by William Dalrymple (writing "on why the Iraqi dictator is the most popular pin-up in India"), London Spectator, Feb. 23; Third World Resurgence (Malaysia), No. 6, Feb.; cover, No. 7, March 1991; Folha de Sao Paulo, Ken Silverstein, p.c.; South, Feb. 1991.
3 Jansen, Middle East International, Feb. 22; Lloyd, FT, Jan. 19-20; Iraqi democrats, see below; al-Khalil, New York Review, March 18, 1991; South, Feb. 1991. Sources in Syria estimated that 80-90% of the population opposed its participation in the war (Sarah Gauch, Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 1991). Much the same was reported elsewhere.
4 Paul Lewis, NYT, Jan 12, 1991; UN Draft A/44/L.51, 6 Dec. 1989.
5 AP, April 13, 1990. Reuters, BG, April 14, 1990. FT, March 9; Clyde Farnsworth, NYT, March 18, 1991.
6 NYT, Feb. 23, 1991.
7 Figures from Robert Reich, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 30; Joshua Cohen, "Comments on the War," MIT, March 4; Erich Heinemann, CSM, April 2, 1991. Prison population, Maurice Briggs, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 9; Tom Wicker, NYT, Jan 9, 1991.
8 Maureen Dowd, NYT, March 2, 1991.
9 E.J. Dionne, WP Weekly, March 11; John Aloysius Farrell, BG Magazine, March 31; Martin Nolan, BG, March 10; Oliphant, BG, Feb. 27, 199l. Roosevelt, see my Turning the Tide (South End, 1985), 61, 87.
10 Oliphant, op. cit.
11 Peter Applebome, NYT, March 1; Terrence Maitland, NYT Book Review, Feb. 3, reviewing Zalin Grant, Facing the Phoenix.
12 Kaplan, BG, Feb. 23; Hoffmann, BG, Jan. 6, 1991. Sut Jhally, Justin Lewis, & Michael Morgan, The Gulf War: A Study of the Media, Public Opinion, & Public Knowledge, Department of Communications, U Mass. Amherst.
13 Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1991; Carlson, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, September 1989; Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3, 1989; AP, April 23, 1990; Third World Resurgence, Oct. 1990.
14 Mike Mansfield, cited by Frank Costigliola, in Thomas Paterson, ed., Kennedy's Quest for Victory (Oxford, 1989).
15 Michael Tomasky & Richard McKerrow, Village Voice, Feb. 26, 1991.
16 Reuters, Canberra, Feb. 24; Communique', International Court of Justice, Feb. 22, 1991. Evans, Senate Daily Hansard, Nov. 1, 1989; Indonesia News Service, Nov. 1, 1990; Greenleft mideast.gulf.346, electronic communication, Feb. 18, 1991. ABC (Australia) radio, "Background briefing; East Timor," Feb. 17, 1991. Robin Osborne, Indonesia's Secret Wars (Allen & Unwin, 1985); George Monbiot, Poisoned Arrows (Abacus, London, 1989); Anti-Slavery Society, West Papua (London, 1990).
17 NYT, Feb. 19, 1991.
18 Reuters, Sept. 26, 1990. Saeedpour, Pacific News Service, March 11, 1991; John Murray Brown, Financial Times, Feb. 12, March 8, 1991; AP, March 20, 1991; Michael Gunter, Kurdish Times, Fall 1990; Ray Moseley, Chicago Tribune. Feb. 6, 1991. Medico International, Krieg und Flucht in Kurdistan, Frankfurt, citing Tageszeitung, Jan. 28 and Frankfurter Rundschau, Jan. 25, on the bombing. Human Rights Watch #1, Winter, 1991.
19 See my articles in Z magazine, March and October 1990, Feb. 1991, and Deterring Democracy (Verso, forthcoming). For further reports (lacking sources, hence difficult to evaluate), see Pierre Salinger and Eric Laurent, Guerre du Golfe (Olivier Orban, Paris, 1991); Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander, Unholy Babylon (St. Martin's, 1991). Also Don Oberdorfer, WP Weekly, Stuart Auerbach, WP Weekly, March 18-24; Michael Massing, New York Review, March 28; Helga Graham, South, Feb. 1991.
20 Darwish, op. cit., 79; Tony Benn, et al., letter, Manchester Guardian Weekly, March 31, 1991.
21 Auerbach, Salinger, Darwish, op. cit.
22 Sources in London-based Iraqi democratic opposition; Darwish, op. cit. Talabani, Vera Saeedpour, Toward Freedom (Burlington, VT), March 1991; Stephen Hubbell, Nation, April 15, 1991.
23 "For a Peaceful Settlement," Gruppe Irakischer Demokraten, Frankfurter Rundschau, Jan. 14; al-Jabbar, Manchester Guardian Weekly, Feb. 3; Mortimer, FT, Jan. 21, 1991.
24 Lamis Andoni, FT, Dec. 6, 1990. David Pallister, Guardian (London) Feb. 18, 1991. Khatib, Middle East Report, Jan/Feb. 1991, cited by Mouin Rabbani, letter, New Statesman, March 22, 1991, replying to Fred Halliday. The quote is from Khatib's interview with Halliday, who advocated war, also claiming that it was supported by the populations of the region, which is untrue, as far as we know, and hardly relevant; no one, including Halliday, relies on regional attitudes to justify the use of force against Israel to remove it from Lebanon and the occupied territories.
25 CSM, March 20, 1990.
26 Mideast Mirror (London), March 15, 1991.
27 Jim Drinkard, AP, April 3; Geraldine Brooks, WSJ, April 3; Michael Kranish, BG, April 4; Walter Robinson, BG, March 21; Paul Taylor, Reuters, March 21 (Mideast Mirror, March 21); LA Times, April 2; Christopher Marquis, BG, April 3; Paul Lewis, NYT, April 3, 1991.
28 Andrew Rosenthal, NYT, April 3, 1991.
29 See my articles in Z magazine, October 1990 and February 1991, for details; and Parry, op. cit.
30 The translation by AP from Cyprus and by the BBC was accurate. AP, BG, Feb. 16; BBC, FT, Feb. 16; State Dept. version, NYT, Feb. 16, Time, Feb. 25. See also William Beeman, PNS, Feb. 18. Original obtained by Edward Said. Iraqi Ambassador, NYT, Feb. 17, 1991, 100 words. John Cushman, "U.S. Insists Withdrawal Comes Before Cease-Fire," NYT, Feb. 16, 1991.
31 Thomas Friedman and Patrick Tyler, NYT, March 3; Transcript of Moscow Peace Proposal and Bush-Fitzwater statements, NYT, Feb. 23; Patrick Tyler, NYT, Feb. 26, 1991.
32 Webb, WSJ, Jan. 31, 1991.
33 WP, Jan. 11, 1991.
34 See notes 12, 10.
35 Walter S. Mossberg and David Rogers, WSJ, March 22; Holly Burkhalter, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, LAT, March 12; News, Middle East Watch, March 7, 1991. Malcolm Browne, NYT, May 6, 1972; see E.S. Herman and N. Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (Pantheon, 1988), 193, for longer quote and context.
36 BBC-1 TV news, 9 PM, March 5; BBC radio, cited by Christopher Hitchens, Nation, April 8.
37 World Health Organization, WP, Feb. 26, NYT, Feb. 26, 1991. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), AP, Feb. 28; David Nyhan, BG, March 3, 1991. Paul Lewis, NYT, March 2; Trevor Rowe, BG, March 2, 1991. For a detailed accounting, see V.K. Ramachandran, Frontline (India), March 30, 1991.
38 Andrew Rosenthal, NYT, Feb. 23; AP, BG, Feb. 9; Pamela Constable, BG, Jan 27, 1991.
39 For a detailed review, see my For Reasons of State (Pantheon, 1973).
40 For details, see my American Power and the New Mandarins (Pantheon, 1969), 210-1; Towards a New Cold War (Pantheon, 1982), 112-3. On Tokyo, see Barton Bernstein, International Security, Spring 1991.
41 AP, Jan. 14, 1991; George Bush's letter to Saddam Hussein, NYT, Jan. 13, 1991.
42 Ash, "The Gulf in Europe," NYRB, March 7, 1991. "Inter-Agency Task Force, Africa Recovery Program/Economic Commission, South African Destabilization: the Economic Cost of Frontline Resistance to Apartheid, NY, UN, 1989, 13, cited by Merle Bowen, Fletcher Forum, Winter 1991. Mandela, AP, NYT, Nov. 8, 1990. Editorials, NYT, Feb. 23, 27, 1991.
43 See Turning the Tide, 162.
44 Richard Hudson, WSJ, Feb. 5, 1991.
45 William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 9, 1990; Jan. 27, 1991.
46 See particularly Chakravarthi Raghavan, Recolonization; Martin Khor Kok Peng, The Uruguay Round and Third World Sovereignty (Third World Network, Malaysia, 1990).
47 WSJ, Nov. 28, 1990.
48 William Stivers, Supremacy and Oil (Cornell, 1982), 28, 34; America's Confrontation with Revolutionary Change in the Middle East (St. Martin's, 1986), 20f.