March 23, 2004
BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
In retrospect, it is now clear that the Bush administration had cash-register eyes on Iraq from the start. From the first, Bush appointed to public office every member of the "Project for a New American Century" he could get. The "Project for a New American Century" is a DC-based GOP lobbyist-contractor think tank, founded in 1997 with the foreign policy goal of invading Iraq. In January 1998, the PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton, urging him to remove Saddam Hussein.
It is chilling to read the exact arguments, dated January 1998, used later by the Bush White House and its paid media supporters: "We urge you to . . . to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power . . . 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." (http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm)
Removing Saddam as "the" aim of American foreign policy is to be pursued at all costs, said the signers of the letter, which also mentions "the world's supply of oil."
This pro-Iraq-war letter to Clinton has eighteen signers. Nine of them were immediately appointed to federal positions after Bush came into the White House. The first was Donald Rumsfeld, named as Bush's Secretary of Defense on December 11, 2000, even before the inauguration. Vice President Cheney was another PNAC founding member.
Throughout the months leading up to September 11, 2001, Bush consistently picked PNAC members, focused on Iraq, over nonpartisan security experts, for top security positions. The timeline is impressive:
Bush announced signer Robert B. Zoellick as US Trade Representative (the president's principal trade advisor) on January 11, 2001; Paul D. Wolfowitz as Deputy Secretary for Defense on February 5; old CIA hand Richard L. Armitage as Deputy Secretary of State on February 12; Dov S. Zackheim as Comptroller for Defense on February 12; and John R. Bolton as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in State on February 21. The Pentagon Comptroller, Zackheim, is responsible for overseeing contracts in the Iraq reconstruction.
Thus by the end of February, 2001, most top national security jobs were consolidated around a none-too-subtle agenda of entering Iraq, intervening in its internal affairs, and replacing its government.
By the end of May, PNAC members also held the sensitive positions of Under Secretary for Global Affairs, State; Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy, Defense; and Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Defense.
The National Security Council was similarly politicized. PNAC signer Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed to the National Security Council on May 23. Bush appointed signer Elliott Abrams, indicted for lying to Congress in the "Iran-Contra" affair but pardoned by former President Bush, on June 25. Khalilzad worked in Defense under former President Bush and then worked for the Rand Corporation, a major military contractor, in the 1990s. Born in Afghanistan, he was also a consultant to US oil company Unocal, which attempted for several years to launch a giant pipeline project in Afghanistan but could not complete the deal with the Taliban. Khalilzad is now US Ambassador to Afghanistan. Abrams is NSC representative for Middle Eastern Affairs.
The full story of an unofficial official campaign to go to war, behind the scenes in government, is waiting to be told. Already, it can be seen that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest hyped up the alleged "WMD" threat posed by Iraq and conversely presented reduced estimates of the risks, cost, and bloodshed involved in invading. Surely it must also be clear that the White House posture of choosing war as a "last resort" was deception.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Margie Burns writes freelance in the DC area. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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