May 4, 2004
Sacrificing America’s Children to 'Make the World a Better Place'
by Maureen Farrell
While Colin Powell’s angst over last February’s reputation-tainting U.N. presentation has been colorfully documented ("This is bullshit!," he said at one point), the May issue of Vanity Fair is teeming with information that even ardent Bush administration apologists would be hard pressed to defend. And while it’s no surprise that Dick Cheney strong-armed others into backing the war in Iraq, his ruthless eagerness to deceive is, in itself, a revelation. If tall tales about mobile labs, WMD stockpiles and Iraq’s ties to al Qaeda were not bad enough (a transcript of Powell’s statements before the U.N. Security Council are posted on the White House Web site, below the banner "Iraq: Denial and Deception" [WhiteHouse.gov]), the Vice President tried to persuade Powell to include other widely discredited information and even reportedly urged him to "link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington."
"Powell was keenly aware he was staking his credibility on the speech, and he wanted to include only solid information that could be verified," Vanity Fair reported. But a few days before the presentation, Cheney met Powell outside the Oval Office and dismissed the Secretary of State’s concerns. "Your poll numbers are in the 70s," Cheney said. "You can afford to lose a few points."
Fast forward to today’s U.S.A., wherein sentient citizens now realize that the entire world, which overwhelmingly embraced us after Sept. 11, was taken for a ride. And, as former Bush officials have recently revealed, the President’s role in the deceptive drive to war is also quite damning. "When one talks with those involved in the lead-up to the Iraq war, one theme is repeated again and again. From the C.I.A. analysts who felt pressure to tailor their intelligence to fit the Bush administration’s aims to diplomats who felt steamrolled by the White House’s blinkered view that Saddam was hiding WMD, many officials felt that nothing they said, no fact they could present, could possibly dissuade Bush from war," Vanity Fair explained.
Considered alongside the perpetual prewar chest thumping, these revelations help to explain America’s sullied reputation and subsequent unpopularity. And given Mr. Bush’s 2000 campaign promise to embark on a "humble" foreign policy, [Comedy Central] it would seem that a smidgen of humility might be in order. Well, it would seem that way, but don’t hold your breath.
Because, administration arrogance and media disinformation aside, even after learning how the Bush/Cheney wool was systematically pulled over our collective eyes, in post-truth America, self-satisfied gasbags continue to congregate, smugly complaining about liberals and other imaginary enemies -- while propagating and defending Bush administration distortions. And, oddly enough, even now that Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill and Reality have combined forces to unveil the deception behind the smirk, disciples of Richard "They’ll be Tossing Posies" Perle and Ken ‘Cakewalk’ Adelman [Washington Post] have decided that this deception does not matter. Truth? Justice? The American Way? Well, by golly, everyone lies! And so, George Bush’s whoppers (unlike Bill Clinton’s) are readily forgiven. Besides, isn’t it easier to accuse the truth-tellers of "hating America" than to adhere to America’s higher standards?
Want proof? Google Mark Steyn’s "Mideast Instability? Bring it On!" and you’ll come across entire congregations passing around Steyn’s piece as if it were some sort of shrill and snarling floozy. "In the summer of 2002, Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, issued a stern warning to the BBC: a US invasion of Iraq would ‘threaten the whole stability of the Middle East," Steyn reminded. "As I [Steyn] wrote at the time, ‘He's missing the point: that's the reason it's such a great idea." [LittleGreenFootballs.com] Meanwhile, denizens of "Free Republic" and "Lucianne.com" echo this sentiment -- hoping that further turmoil in the Middle East will widen G.W.’s war. "Throw gasoline on that fire," one of the folks at Little Green Footballs wrote.
Steyn, the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. (see, Perle, Richard, connections to [CommonDreams.org]) shared a 15-watt "eureka!" in his Jerusalem Post article, falsely concluding that the Bush administration attacked Iraq due to the trauma from, as Condoleezza Rice put it, al-Qaeda’s attempt to "decapitate us." After listing inaccurate and improbable scenarios, Steyn wrote, "In other words, if you're wondering why this administration's approach to terrorism is so focused on regime change, it's because the terrorists came so close to changing America's regime."
Though readers of the Jerusalem Post (see Perle, Richard, connections to, [Guardian]) might be none the wiser, reams of evidence suggest that Steyn is pulling a fast one. Aside from the fact that former Bush administration officials have confessed that Bush was gunning to attack Iraq months before Sept. 11, there are other clues. For starters, the GOP included regime change as one of its stated goals in its 2000 platform ("peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is impossible as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq," they said [PBS.org]); the Bush-connected Project for a New American Century called for regime change as early as 1998 -- and continued their battle cry even as their boy Bush was promising to be "humble"; [ABC News] and five months before 9/11, a report commissioned by James Baker III and submitted to Dick Cheney concluded, as the Sunday Herald explained, that "Saddam was a threat to American interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and military action against Iraq might be necessary to secure control of the country’s oil." [CultureChange.org]
Steyn’s regime change fantasies notwithstanding, his central thesis -- that Middle East instability is "the point" behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- is decidedly on the mark. Deconstructed more than a year ago by Joshua Micah Marshall, the notion that administration hawks have been Jonesing for a wider war is finally being openly admitted. "Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks' nightmare scenario -- it's their plan," Marshall wrote in April, 2003, back when those now rooting for such a conflagration dismissed such musings as conspiracy theories.
But while Steyn and his neocon buddies pray for all hell to break loose, Marshall has raised thoughtful concerns about the danger and deception behind this delusional scheme. Describing how members of the administration fully believe that a "full-scale confrontation between the United States and political Islam" is "inevitable" and that it’s better to "have it now, on our terms, rather than later, on theirs," Marshall explained:
And so, when Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that the U.S. would "deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea after defeating Iraq, Bolton was going along with the plan; when The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Bell reported that the Bush administration is gunning for "world war between the United States and a political wing of Islamic fundamentalism," Bell was describing the plan; and when Mark Steyn wrote, "Mideast Instability? Bring It On!" Steyn was advocating the plan.
Nevertheless, the war was not sold this way and to this day, many Americans remain largely in the dark. "There is a startling amount of deception in all this--of hawks deceiving the American people, and perhaps in some cases even themselves," Marshall wrote, evoking Irving Kristol’s 1989 post-Granada admission that, "The reason we gave for the intervention -- the risk to American medical students there -- was phony but the reaction of the American people was absolutely and overwhelmingly favorable. They had no idea what was going on, but they backed the president. They always will."
And now, the same tactic has been cynically used among those who promised to restore "honor and integrity" to the White House. "[T]he president has not even leveled with the public that such a clean-sweep approach to the Middle East is, in fact, their plan," Marshall wrote. One year later, however, during his April 13, 2004 press conference, the President finally gave us a glimpse of his agenda. In case you missed it, here are but a few of his more revealing statements:
· "We serve the cause of liberty and that is, always and everywhere, a cause worth serving."
· "We have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That's what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned."
· "The legacy we are going to leave behind is . . . a legacy that really is based upon our deep belief that people want to be free and that free societies are peaceful societies."
· "A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure."
· "It's important for us to spread freedom throughout the Middle East. Free societies are hopeful societies."
· Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein."
· "My job as president is to lead this nation into making this world a better place."
· "We're changing the world." [WhiteHouse.gov]
While those who never studied History or the U.S. Constitution might wonder, "What is wrong with the President of the United States using the U.S. military to change the world?" former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson recently addressed "the President's otherworldly vision of bringing freedom to the Middle East, at the barrel of a gun," by saying that "the Bush administration lied to get us into war, and it lied when it said that war in Iraq was part of the struggle against terrorism" (not to mention that Mr. Bush's attack on Iraq "gave al-Qaeda the best recruitment tool it ever had").
Bob Woodward and Mike Wallace also addressed the President's delusions on 60 Minutes.
Now, once again, just to make sure you’re following this (I don’t mean to patronize, but all of this is just so "pinch me" surreal), those who embrace G.W. Bush and his war don’t mind the trickery, deceit, arrogance, bullying or loss of blood and treasure. Democracy and freedom are worth it, they say. And in case you haven’t noticed, the same democracy and freedom-loving folks get downright testy when former White House insiders flex their First Amendment muscles and raise questions about our own democracy and the future of freedom in America.
"This war has nothing to do with national security or freedom or democracy or human rights or protecting our allies or weapons of mass destruction or defeating terrorism or disarming Iraq," Vietnam veteran Dr. Robert Bowman (USAF Ret.) recently wrote. "Those who forced this war on an unwilling world are guilty of flagrantly violating the US Constitution, the UN Charter, and international law. What they have done is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and TREASON." [Baltimore Chronicle]
But for some, questions of "how did we get into this mess?" or "who is going to pay for it?" or "who is going to fight this war?" are what passes for "treason" these days and many "wider war" advocates would like to charbroil the traitorous bastards who’ve been tattling on King George.
Thankfully, however, the nation’s more scrupled citizens, prompted by Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke and others, are beginning to ask overdue questions. But what do you think the country’s reaction would have been if, during one of his Meet the Press "mushroom cloud" chats, Dick Cheney had let it slide that this administration was pushing WMD hype for "bureaucratic reasons"? What if President Bush had proposed we spend $1 billion a week and two to three soldiers a day on a plan which, according to a classified State Department report, had no basis in reality? (The leaked report, entitled, "The Middle East and Change: No Dominoes," concluded "this idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible." [GlobalPolicy.org]
Moreover, how would Americans have reacted had they known that despite promises of "cakewalks" and "dancing in the streets," a Zogby poll revealed that 38 percent of Iraqis said they favored democracy, while 50 percent said that "democracy is a western way of doing things and it will not work here"? For God’s sake, even Bush appointee Daniel Pipes declared, as a recent Chicago Sun-Times headline explained: "History shows Islam, democracy unlikely to mix in Iraq."
Sadly, however, it seems that for those who openly root for Mideast instability, none of this matters. Like "patriotic" Germans before them, their unwavering allegiance to Bush is far stronger than their highly selective allegiance to Truth. And though they profess moral superiority, a convoluted and highly arrogant ethical standard emerges. Venture into some of aforementioned Google-retrieved sites and you’ll discover that: 1) Iraqis are overjoyed by their liberation, and even if they are not, what Iraqis want is really not the issue; 2) Al Qaeda is a threat, but so are Paul Krugman, France, Ted Kennedy, the Palestinians, the Democrats, the EU and Sen. Robert Byrd; 3) The DOW Jones Industrial Average is extremely important, while combat casualties and "collateral damage" must not be mentioned in mixed company; 4) Concerns over rigged elections are just a ploy to make Republicans look bad; 5) It doesn’t matter that U.S. troops are spread too thin or don’t have the gear they need, soldiers who complain are just "whiners"; and 6) The "left" is moaning about the draft because they want to relive those good old Vietnam days.
One blogger, who also posted Steyn’s article, even went so far as to publish an assertion that the ominous "left" secretly hopes that the draft will be reinstated to ignite antiwar sentiment across college campuses. "Here is one of the best posts skewering the anti-war left, the EU, Kerry, and Palestinian terrorist supporters that I have read in a long time," Gail at Crossing the Rubicon 2 wrote, in an offering she entitled, 'The Truth':
"For instance, The Truth Is... that "liberals" who suddenly have started talking about reintroducing the draft are not in the slightest concerned with military readiness, and do not believe that filling out the army with draftees is an essential step in winning the war. What's actually going on is that they know that one of the biggest reasons that the people of America ultimately turned against the Viet Nam war was because it was being fought primarily by draftees. And one of the biggest reasons why America's college campuses were particular focal points for anti-war activism was because it was men that age who were being drafted.
Said liberals, usually graying Boomers like me, are amazed at the degree to which college-age Americans support this war. They feel somehow cheated; colleges are supposed to be anti-war, aren't they? Of course, there are many critical differences between Viet Nam and the WOT, but regarding the "Millenials" (previously known as "Gen Y") they view the draft as one of the biggest reasons. If they can somehow reinstitute the draft, then said liberals hope they could ignite massive opposition to the war, and would once again see America's college campuses become centers of anti-war activism."
"There's a lot more. Please – read the rest," she wrote, before linking to the following article http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/04/Thetruthis....shtml)
In Blog Land, you see, concern about the draft is simply proof that "the left" wants to rile up the college folk. And that’s "the truth." [Insert eye roll here]
This sort of simplicity might make sense if Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader were the only ones sounding the alarm, but other heavy hitters have recently chimed in. In Sept. 2001, for example, the Brookings Institutions’s Michael O'Hanlon told ABC News that should the US need to occupy another country, "conceivably you would get into the kinds of manpower requirements that would advise in favor of a draft." Last week, O’Hanlon updated his prediction. "As casualties have mounted in Iraq, and frequent call-ups of National Guard and reserve troops have placed unusual strains on the nation's citizen-soldiers, there has been a push to reinstate military conscription," he wrote. "Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) have introduced a bill that would restore the draft. And one of Congress' most respected military veterans, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), has called for a national debate on the idea." Ultimately, O’Hanlon concluded that the "most likely cause" for reinstatement of the draft would be "an even more severe over-deployment of the all-volunteer force." [Los Angeles Times] Chances are, of course, that the folks rooting for Mideast instability and pie-in-the-sky- democracy understand that their anticipated wider war would, as O’Hanlon warned, lead to "severe over-deployment" and the return of the draft. But these freedom-embracing, democracy-loving patriots (who wish Ted Koppel would just shut up about America’s war dead, by the way) simply want everyone to get in line, pay their taxes and donate their children to the cause.
And so, when Mark Steyn writes, "Mideast Instability? Bring it on!" these freedom-loving, democracy-embracing patriots applaud like a gaggle of trained seals. But they have their own agenda, too, you see, and your conscripted children will most likely be the ones to carry it out.
There is not much honor or integrity in any of this, of course. But why should they waste their beautiful minds worrying about something like that?
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell
otherwise noted, all original