Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 7 March 16 - 22, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
lays out his "vision" for the Middle East
By Bill Vann
its scare stories about weapons of mass destruction and allegations of
Baghdad-terrorist ties having failed to stem worldwide opposition to a war
against Iraq, the Bush administration this week unveiled a new pretense for
aggression. War, it claimed in typical Orwellian fashion, is the only means of
achieving peace, and US military occupation is the road to democracy in the
a speech delivered Wednesday before the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a
right-wing Washington think tank, George W. Bush presented what administration
officials described as his "vision" for a "liberated" Iraq
within a revamped Middle East.
speech appeared to have been hastily organized to take advantage of a ready-made
audience for Bush's neocolonialist designs. The American Enterprise Institute
has sent 20 of its "resident scholars" into leading positions in the
Bush administration. Its ranks include Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife
and a prominent right-wing ideologue, and Richard Perle, who heads the Defense
Policy Board and is a leading architect of the Iraq war plan.
AEI's former executive vice president is John Bolton, now Bush's undersecretary
of state for arms control and international security. Bolton led Washington's
withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and spearheaded the US
repudiation of the International Criminal Court.
aligned with the policies of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel, the AEI has
long advocated turning the "war on terrorism" into a campaign for
"regime change" throughout the Middle East. It, the Israeli government
and leading figures within the Bush administration all subscribe to a new
"domino theory," according to which a US war against Iraq will
inaugurate a transformation of the Middle East. According to this improbable
thesis, the shock of Iraq's decimation will lead to one regime after another
falling, to be replaced by made-in-the-USA "democracies."
spoke on the same day that Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki told the
House Armed Services Committee that a successful war of conquest in Iraq will
require the indefinite occupation of the country by "several hundred
thousand soldiers." While administration officials have claimed that the
military could withdraw, handing over the reins of power to a US-backed regime
in Baghdad within two years, even the more optimistic military analysts predict
that US military rule will continue for at least five years.
government has provided no estimates of what such a protracted and massive
military occupation will cost. Outlays for the war itself have been pegged at
anywhere between $60 billion and $95 billion.
part, Bush's speech was aimed at answering critics' charges that he has done
nothing to prepare the American public for the costs of his war policy in both
human life and economic sacrifice, and has failed to spell out any clear plans
for what will follow a US military conquest of Iraq.
speech did little on either score. Rather, it put forward a "vision"
that managed to combine unmitigated imperialist arrogance with a breathtaking
underestimation of the crisis that the US war will create.
lives and freedom matter greatly to us," Bush told his black-tied audience
of Washington insiders. To prove it, he is preparing to launch a military
campaign that will send at least 800 cruise missiles slamming into Baghdad and
other heavily populated areas in the first 48 hours. If by killing thousands of
Iraqis and turning hundreds of thousands more into destitute refugees Washington
is able to break the country's will, it will impose a US general as its ruler.
absurd claim that this is the first step on the road to democracy and prosperity
is belied by a long record of US interventions all over the globe. Where have
Washington's military actions played such a benevolent role? In Haiti, where US
troops left behind a wrecked economy and a kleptocracy in power? Or Kuwait,
which the US "liberated" in 1991 in order to hand the territory back
to a royal family that denies minimal democratic rights? Or Kosovo, where the
drug-running Kosova Liberation Army has, under UN auspices, terrorized and
expelled the Serb minority and set up a gangster regime? Or Afghanistan, where
US troops are still fighting and the country is divided between tyrannical
setting policy in the Bush administration know full well that the methods to be
used in ruling Iraq will be anything but democratic. US military intelligence
and the CIA are making frantic efforts to determine which officials and military
officers within the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein-the same regime they
denounce as a ruthless tyranny-can be kept on to serve as partners in repressing
oppositional and centrifugal forces. In the north of the country, Washington has
invited Turkish troops in to suppress any attempt by the Kurdish minority to
assert its longstanding desire for national independence.
the initial outcome of the US invasion-with a massive loss of life among Iraqi
civilians certain and a catastrophe for American troops not excluded-the US
military will subsequently find itself in the middle of a seething cauldron of
political, ethnic and religious divisions. US military force will ultimately
have to be used to suppress Shi'ite revolts in the south, Kurdish upheavals in
the north and countless other conflicts.
prediction that such a spectacle will "serve as a dramatic and inspiring
example of freedom for other nations in the region" borders on lunacy. On
the contrary, the US intervention will be seen throughout the region for what it
is-a predatory war aimed at seizing control of strategic territory and vital oil
wealth as part of a bid to impose a Pax Americana throughout the world.
gave Washington the task of liberating the Iraqis, or indeed the peoples of the
region as a whole? While Bush spoke of it as an American "duty," for
the masses of Iraq and the Arab world in general, such proclamations echo the
"white man's burden" rhetoric from the heyday of European colonialism.
to the "vision" shared by Bush and his cohorts, these peoples will
simply turn their backs on the protracted and bitter struggle waged by their
fathers and grandfathers to cast off the yoke of foreign domination. This was a
struggle in which hundreds of thousands gave their lives, from the Iraqi battles
against British colonialism in the 1920s to the Algerian liberation war against
the French that continued until 1962. Despite the cruel disappointments of
national independence under the rule of the Arab bourgeoisie, it is impossible
that the Arab masses will identify "freedom" with US domination.
war against Iraq will not trigger the falling dominoes envisioned by the cabal
around Bush. Rather it will create the conditions for a violent uprising of
masses of workers and oppressed in a new struggle against imperialist
are Bush's credentials as an apostle of democracy? He came to power by using
gangster methods to suppress votes in a national election and securing a ruling
by a right-wing cabal on the Supreme Court to install him in the White House.
His government has carried out an unprecedented attack on civil liberties,
jailing people without charges or trial while vastly expanding police powers of
search and surveillance. It presides over a system that imprisons a greater
portion of the population than any other nation in the world, while continuing
to carry out the barbaric practice of capital punishment.
claim that the US conquest of Iraq will pave the way to a just settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even more incredible. His thesis is that a
humiliating defeat for Iraq will so weaken and intimidate the Palestinian people
that they will give up their struggle against Israeli occupation and
"choose new leaders ... who strive for peace." Until now, the US
administration has rejected elections by the Palestinians on the grounds that
they will not choose the leaders that Washington wants.
to the US president, the struggle of the Palestinians will end once Baghdad can
no longer serve as "a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training and
offers rewards to families of suicide bombers." The arrogance and stupidity
of this statement are breathtaking. Does Bush really believe that Palestinian
youth go to Baghdad to learn how to blow themselves up, or that they do it to
get Iraqi "rewards" for their families?
2,300 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and Zionist settlers since
the intensification of the intifada in September 2000, the great majority
unarmed civilians. The population of more than 3.5 million Palestinians in Gaza
and the West Bank is subjected to a permanent state of siege, locked in their
homes on pain of death, prevented from moving freely by hundreds of roadblocks
and barricades, and denied adequate food and medicine. The Bush administration
is fully complicit in this naked repression. Yet in Bush's "vision,"
it is the Palestinians who must renounce "terror."
its part," Bush said, "the new government of Israel, as the terror
threat is removed and security improves, will be expected to support the
creation of a viable Palestinian state and to work as quickly as possible toward
a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity
in the occupied territories must end."
"new government of Israel," it should be pointed out, will support no
such thing and Bush knows it. The most right-wing government in the country's
history, Sharon's coalition rests on two semi-fascist parties, one based on the
settlers in the occupied territories and the other promoting a policy of
"transfer," i.e., the expulsion of the Palestinians from the West Bank
Israeli regime has welcomed and encouraged a war against Iraq. It will use the
US invasion as the pretext for launching its own intensified assault on the
Palestinians. It enjoys the intimate collaboration of the Bush administration.
Among the figures most directly involved in planning the war against Iraq are US
officials who formerly functioned as advisors and lobbyists for the Israeli
government and the Likud Party.
Perle, for example, worked as an advisor to Benyamin Netanyahu, Likud's rightist
candidate in the 1996 election. Perle championed an end to peace talks with the
Palestinians and the reconquest of Gaza and the West Bank by the Israeli
with him as an advisor to the Zionist right was Douglas Feith, now
undersecretary of defense for policy. Feith wrote in 1997 that Israel's
reoccupation of the territories was a necessary "detoxification,"
adding that "the price in blood would be high," but worth it.
has now emerged as the Pentagon's point-man for the "postwar
reconstruction" of Iraq. Tapped for the top civilian job in the planned
"office of reconstruction" for the occupied country is Michael Mobbs,
another Pentagon bureaucrat who was formerly Feith's law partner. The lucrative
practice run by Feith when he was out of government had essentially one client,
the Israeli military-industrial complex.
year, Mobbs was the author of a two-page sworn statement defending President
Bush's right to declare any US citizen an "enemy combatant" and jail
them indefinitely without charges, a hearing, a lawyer or bail, much less a
trial. The memo was submitted in the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a 21-year-old
American-born Saudi captured in Afghanistan and held incommunicado in the
Guantanamo, Cuba prison camp.
such personnel, the claim that the aim in Iraq is to foster a democratic revival
is preposterous. What is being prepared is a brutal colonial regime that will
seek to utilize as much as possible the remnants of Saddam Hussein's own
repressive apparatus while subordinating it to the interests of the US and
Israel. Its principal function will be to guarantee unrestricted US exploitation
of Iraqi oil and the suppression of popular revolt.
is most striking about Bush's "vision," however, is that it by no
means ends with Iraq. With an invasion of that country, Washington is embarking
on an open-ended campaign of military interventions that will bring it face to
face with revolutionary explosions in the Middle East and throughout the world.
threadbare claims that the war being launched by the Bush administration has
anything to do with liberty, democracy or progress will likewise be exposed
before masses of working people in the United States as they are forced to bear
the costs of global militarism, both economically and in the deaths of loved
ones sent off to fight.
revolutionary currents ignited by the incendiaries in the White House will not
be limited to the "Third World." They will find a powerful expression
within the imperialist centers, and nowhere more explosively than in the US
February 28, 2003