Tuesday, July 06, 2004
PINKY & THE BRAIN
PINKY: "What do you want to do tonight, Brain?"
BRAIN: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world"
(Now replace Pinky and the Brain with Bush and Cheney respectively and I think you'll get the idea.)
According to this article in the New York Times the CIA witheld pertinent information concerning Iraq's WMD programs.
- The Central Intelligence Agency was told by relatives of Iraqi scientists before the war that Baghdad's programs to develop unconventional weapons had been abandoned, but the C.I.A. failed to give that information to President Bush , even as he publicly warned of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons, according to government officials.
The implication here is that the CIA is to blame for our president leading us into an illadvised war. Our president and his staff couldn't possibly be to blame. However, as you will see, war was an easy sell to this administration. I can't imagine that the Bush/Cheney team was real eager to disprove anything the CIA might have said concerning Iraq and their WMDs. They already had a plan in place and were simply waiting to act.
Our story begins way back during the Bush I administration. After the fall of the Soviet Union, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney authored a plan to maintain America's military at Cold-War era levels. With the help of Paul Wolfowitz, then Undersecretary of Defense, and Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Cheney wrote the "Defense Strategy for the 1990s." It has been described as follows:
- The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.
The plan basically stated that the United States needed to be ready to combat any other country from rivaling our power. To do this, "the United States could no longer assess its military needs on the basis of known threats. Instead, the Pentagon should focus on maintaining the ability to address a wide variety of new and unknown challenges."
- The Plan's debut was well timed. By a remarkable coincidence, Bush revealed it the very day Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait.
The Gulf War temporarily reduced the pressure to cut military spending. It also diverted attention from some of the Plan's less appealing aspects. In addition, it inspired what would become one of the Plan's key features: the use of "overwhelming force" to quickly defeat enemies, a concept since dubbed the Powell Doctrine.
In early 1992 Powell told members of the House Armed Services Committe that the United Stated required "sufficient power" to "deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage." He went on to say "I want to be the bully on the block."
At the same time Powell and Cheney were trying to sell this plan to Congress, Wolfowitz was incorporating it into U.S. policy.
- During the early months of 1992, Wolfowitz supervised the preparation of an internal Pentagon policy statement used to guide military officials in the preparation of their forces, budgets, and strategies. The classified document, known as the Defense Planning Guidance, depicted a world dominated by the United States, which would maintain its superpower status through a combination of positive guidance and overwhelming military might. the image was one of a heavily armed City on a Hill.
The DPG stated that the "first objective" of U.S. defense strategy was "to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival." Achieving this objective required that the United States "prevent any hostile power from dominating a region" of strategic significance. America's new mission would be to convince allies and enemies alike "that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."
Another new theme was the use of preemptive military force. The options, the DPG noted, ranged from taking preemptive military action to head off a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack to "punishing" or "threatening punishment of" aggressors "through a variety of means," including strikes against weapons-manufacturing facilities.
The DPG also envisioned maintaining a substantial U.S. nuclear arsenal while discouraging the development of nuclear programs in other countries. It depicted a "U.S.-led system of collective security" that implicitly precluded the need for rearmament of any king by countries such as Germany and Japan. And it called for the "early introduction" of a global missile-defense system that would presumably render all missile-launched weapons, including those of the United States, obsolete. (The United States would, of course, remain the world's dominant military power on the strength of its other weapons systems.)
The story, in short, was dominance by way of unilateral action and military superiority.
"While the U.S. cannot become the world's policeman," the document said, "we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends." Among the interests the draft indicated the United States would defend in this manner were "access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and]
threats to U.S. citizens from terrorism."
You can check out the more detailed points of the plan in this 1992 article from the New York Times.
Now, as we all know, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell and Bush I were defeated in 1992. Unfortunately for them, the Clinton administration did not embrace their plan. This doesn't mean that the plan was forgotten. Wolfowitz, who was opposed to ending the first Gulf War without removing Saddam from power, called for the Clinton administration to finish the job. He even proposed launching a preemptive strike against Iraq in 1996. He wrote in an editorial "Should we sit idly by, with our passive containment policy and our inept cover operations, and wait until a tyrant possessing large quantities of weapons of mass destruction and sophisticated delivery systems strikes out at us?" He felt that it was necessary to "go beyond the containment strategy." As we all know, Clinton didn't heed the advice.
In 1998 the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neocon organization of which Wolfowitz is a member, wrote a letter to President Clinton urging him to remove Saddam from power.
- Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
Who signed this letter? A number of familiar names. Of the eighteen signators, eleven now hold appointments in the Bush II administration. Who are they?
All of these people supported the use of military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power prior to taking office. Paul Wolfowitz, along with Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, supported U.S. dominance throughout the world. Don't you think that maybe these guys were a little too eager to bother with contrary evidence? Can we really pretend that the responsibility for our current situation in Iraq falls squarely on the CIA alone?
(Sidenote: One of the members of PNAC that didn't sign the letter, was our very own Dick Cheney. According to former Nixon Counsel John W. Dean's book Worse Than Watergate, Cheney refrained from signing the letter because his employer, the Halliburton Company, was illegaly doing business with Saddam.)
Blaming the CIA for our illegitimate war in Iraq is a ruse to deflect accountability away from the current administration. Even if the CIA presented select evidence, this administration was hungry. Hungry for war, power, and dominance. Don't be fooled, they knew what they were doing. Maybe not Pinky (Bush) but the Brain (Cheney) understood all too well.