After having spent five of the last 10 months in Occupied Iraq, traveling around the United States of America today feels more than just a little surreal. Most people here have enough of everything—enough money, enough clothes, enough cars, enough gasoline, enough food, and of course enough security.
Millions of people in the United States today, with the aid of the corporate media, have taken to the presidential campaign as if it were some sort of sporting event. The first debate between Senator Kerry and Mr. Bush was complete with pre- and post-debate fanfare and breakdowns—just in case people couldn’t figure it out for themselves that their commander-in-chief was almost as lost for words during much of the debate as his policy in Iraq has been lost from the very beginning.
This is the focus. On this campaign. On who won which debate. Or on whether the occupation of Iraq is a colossal failure or not.
What is lost is, why isn’t it being debated why the man who currently resides in the White House (when he isn’t at his ranch in Crawford, Texas) went to great lengths to sell the invasion to the American people.
First, by the inculcated message that Saddam Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda. Not one link has been found to prove this, a fact even Mr. Bush himself had to admit over a year after the occupation began when he said, “We, we, we’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September the 11th.”
Second, by his insistence that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “[Saddam Hussein] possesses the most deadly arms of our age,” said Mr. Bush. Meanwhile the US itself maintains the largest stockpiles in the world of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and not one shred of evidence of the existence of the aforementioned has been found in Iraq. At this point, unless they are planted there, it seems highly unlikely that a single weapon of mass destruction will turn up in Iraq prior to the election.
Have the American people forgotten this while they have been so enthralled with the debates?
The current man sitting as the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, is also partaking in the political debates. He, too, supported the myth of weapons of mass destruction when he said, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Of course, he also has other dark ties to the debacle in Iraq that the corporate media have chosen so carefully to continue to overlook during the election campaign.
Ties like the fact that after the first Bush was defeated in the 1992 election, Dick Cheney left the Defense Department and within three years became the CEO of Halliburton. Between the years 1995-2000 and under his supervision, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, accumulated $2.3 billion in government contracts. This figure nearly doubled the amount the company earned from government contracts during the five years prior to Cheney’s arrival at the CEO position.
One of the methods Halliburton used to generate the nearly 100 percent increase in profits under Cheney’s reign was to rebuild the oil fields of Saddam Hussein—the same oil fields which Cheney was instrumental in destroying while he was secretary of defense of the Bush Sr. administration.
Who will remember the conflict of interests this man maintains to this day while watching him debate Mr. Edwards?
While he continues to deny ties to Halliburton, his old company continues to profit from the occupation in Iraq today by building, supporting, and maintaining military bases throughout Iraq. There are four permanent bases being built in Iraq right now—in Ar-Rutbah, Irbil, Baghdad and Basra—while the US, thanks in large part to the maintenance, construction, and support services of Halliburton, maintains 725 others around the world.
The United States of America had the support of every country on the globe after the events of September 11, 2001, yet, due primarily to the policies of the Bush administration and a war on the people of Afghanistan, on February 15, 2003, less than one and a half years after that massive display of empathy and support, millions of people around the world marched in protest of the US plans to invade Iraq.
Today, anti-American sentiment around the world is higher than it has ever been.
Now, fast-forward to April 10, 2004, to a small clinic inside besieged Fallujah. I spoke with a man there who was managing the clinic. He hadn’t slept in days because of the incessant influx of casualties from US aggression.
“For 48 years I believed in democracy and the good spirit of the American government,” he said while bombs from US warplanes blasted into yet another part of the city, “but now I know it took me 48 years to wake up to the fact that they are a brutal, heartless empire. A government-led empire which cares nothing about the Iraqi people. It has taken my entire life, but I am not asleep to this fact any longer.”
This has become the predominant attitude amongst Iraqis under this brutal, bloody occupation of their country by the so-called liberators. Yet many people in the United States continue to wonder why the occupation is going so horribly astray.
Another reason to be considered is the team behind Mr. Bush. We mustn’t forget that behind Mr. Bush are the radical conservatives, commonly referred to as the neocons, who wrote up their plans for global domination in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) for everyone to read, just as Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
Seven of the authors of the Project for the New American Century now hold positions in the Pentagon and State Department.
These men are Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon Policy Advisor Richard Perle, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, National Security Council Elliot Abrams, Under Secretary of Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, and Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.
In addition, most of these men have long-standing ties with the interests of the government of Israel.
Harlan Ullman of the National War College and author of Shock and Awe—Achieving Rapid Dominance, a 1996 Advisor Report as well as the theory of warfare which was adopted and used by the Bush administration to attack Iraq, wrote, “The aim of modern warfare is not merely to achieve military victory. But also, by means of sheer intimidation, to inflict a deep psychological injury. To scare and terrorize potential rivals into submission”.
Many Americans have asked, “Why do they hate us?”
This theory of warfare used by Mr. Bush and his administration in Iraq (and Afghanistan) is designed to use “[m]assively destructive strikes directly at the public will.”
This advisor report is essentially the application of the doctrine penned by Paul Wolfowitz, which is a doctrine of both pre-emptive war and global domination through force. For this doctrine states clearly that one of the goals for America should be “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil.”
The aforementioned neo-conservative members of the Bush administration are all well aware of the geo-political significance of southwest Asia for their agenda of global dominance, as they have written in the PNAC.
The Shock and Awe advisor report continues, “Intimidation and compliance are the outputs we seek to obtain. … The intent here is to impose a regime of shock and awe through delivery of instant, nearly incomprehensible levels of massive destruction...The objectives … are to achieve Shock and Awe and hence compliance or capitulation through very selective, utterly brutal and ruthless, and rapid application of force to intimidate.”
The place in which this country has found itself today was predicted long ago by someone right here in the United States. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense then on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,” warned Martin Luther King.
Americans are now seen as hypocrites, liars, and a savagely brutal imperial power the world over. Yet here inside the American bubble it is all too easy to languidly slip into the comfortable anesthesia that is American life for so many: Work, eat, watch a debate, talk some politics, and then get some sleep. Run out and rent a movie if it gets too heavy.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is infuriated and completely distrusting of the US. In Iraq, car bombs, civilians being bombed by US warplanes, 70% unemployment, electrical outages, medicine shortages, and Hepatitis E outbreaks have become the daily reality.
When I recently asked him if he was OK, a friend of mine in Baghdad said, “It is hard because each day the list of my friends who have been killed grows longer.”
“I was against Saddam,” said a man in the Al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad this past May. “I was jailed by his regime in 1996 for making pastries because sugar was being rationed due to the sanctions. But the US policy now in Iraq will fail 100%! No people here support them now.”
He took a deep breath after this and calmly, yet firmly stated, “The managers of the US policy here are not clever people. When you come by terrorism, you create terrorism.”
Although many people in America remain unaware of the neocon agenda driving the Bush administration, people in Iraq know it by heart. This is another reason why instead of watching debates or wondering which movie to rent, the vast majority of Iraqis want the US military out of Iraq, even at the risk of a possible civil war.
As a man in Baquba told me in June, “If you have two wounds, first you treat the one which is causing you the most pain. We must first deal with the occupiers, then we will sort out our other problems.”
The United States of America was led into an illegal war by the lies of a radical neoconservative-backed administration, which has led to over 13,000 Iraqi civilian casualties (but see here), over 1,000 dead US soldiers, a once sovereign country in shambles, and an ongoing military presence that is costing the US taxpayer $1.1 Billion per week. This is what should figure into the debate.
That is, if any of the candidates running for president or vice president will concern themselves with the truth.