A memo sent in late September 2001 to the Bush administration from influential “think tank” institute PNAC (Project For A New American Century) stated “we believe the administration should demand that Iran and Syria immediately cease all military, financial and political support for Hezbollah and it’s operations. Should Iran and Syria refuse to comply, the administration should consider appropriate retaliatory measures against these known state sponsors of terrorism”.
This came on the heel of calls by Richard Perle, PNAC member and former chairman of the “Defence Policy Institute’, for congress to pass an “Iran Liberation Act”, as was applied to Iraq in 1998. There is little doubt that Iran and Syria are numbers Two and Three, though perhaps not necessarily in that order, on the Bush neo-Cons “hit list” of “rogue states” identified for regime change in the near future. The only unknown is the manner in which the administration will accomplish policy that is undoubtedly, in diplomatic speak, ‘on the table ‘.
As a consequence, as we begin to prepare ourselves in the coming months for the inevitable barrage of anti-Iranian/Syrian propaganda, and accompanying references and allegations relating to nuclear capability, state sponsored terrorism, and anti-American activity, we must keep in mind that we have heard it all before. And how much has thus far been substantiated about Iraq? Where are Iraqi WMD? What proof of terrorist affiliations? Where is Saddam Hussein? Of course Iraq’s alleged WMD remain conspicuously absent for the very logical reason that a decade of crippling USA imposed sanctions would make it virtually impossible for Iraq to have acquired any new weapons programme after the first USA led war against the country.
And so today we have the extraordinary circumstance of post- “major combat” Iraq. As a direct consequence of American illegal, unilateral and assumed “preventive” war, justified on the grounds that Iraq posed an “imminent threat” to world peace and security (with WMD that have obviously long since been either destroyed or disposed of) as well as far fetched and implausible claims alleging support of ideologically opposed “terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Iraq is now a breeding ground for anti-Americanism, terrorism, and the evolution of otherwise moderate elements into those of an extremist nature. All of which increase’s the threat of violence and insecurity in the Middle East and the world in general today. Serious consideration should be given to re-naming the “United States war on terrorism” to the “United States effort to exacerbate terrorism”.
Israel has unsurprisingly begun the propaganda war against Iran with remarks made by foreign minister Silvan Shalom that “Iran is fast approaching the point of no return in it’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities”. Ironically, if such is in fact true, it may be the only circumstance which protects Iran from the new threat of American neo-colonialism. Certainly military action would be a far less attractive option than it was against the weak, demoralized state of Iraq, and the neo-conservatives will no doubt opt for alternative strategies such as psychology, propaganda, and the support of those anti-authoritarian groups within Iran who push for a separation of religion and the state.
Perhaps I will make the point - though it is not only well known but also world wide public opinion ? that Israel has an arsenal consisting an estimated two hundred and fifty nuclear weapons which it set about acquiring immediately after the establishment of the state after the second world war. To this day it refuses to acknowledge it’s possession of such weapons nor has it signed the NPNWT (Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty). Let us not forget that much of the intelligence presented to justify the illegal war against Iraq was based upon Iraqi exile’s reports and that from Israeli intelligence, i.e. Mossad.
The importance of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the establishment of Paul Bremer’s neo-colonial ‘interim’ administration set a precedent and marks a fundamental shift in American Middle East policy the importance of which cannot be stressed strongly enough. Such a dramatic and perilous change in strategy is of utmost importance and will inevitably have far reaching consequences. The unilateral war against Iraq and the removal of the Ba’ath regime has established a precedent for “preventive” war as justifiable and ?legitimate? foreign policy initiative.
Questions such as whether or not the action was justified on the grounds that the people of Iraq are free of a brutal regime are secondary in importance. Arguments concerning the legitimacy of pre-emptive military action in that face of a ‘clear and imminent threat’ by the USA in the aftermath of September 11th 2001 are in fact misrepresentative of that which in fact is “preventive” military action. There is a considerable difference. Noam Chomsky explains it thus: “Pre-emptive war has a meaning. It means that, for example if planes are flying across the Atlantic to bomb the United States, the United States is permitted to shoot them down even before they bomb and may be permitted to attack the air bases from which they came. Pre-emptive war is a response to ongoing or imminent attack. Preventive war is totally different. It implies that the United States alone has the self designated right to attack whoever it perceives to impede it’s national interests or challenge it’s hegemony.”
This radical shift in foreign policy has been a long time coming. It is in fact an extension of the Reaganite doctrine of the 1980’s. In the decades since, during the Clinton years far right elements of the Republican party - the so called neo-conservative s - shadowy figures such as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams and Kristol, quietly worked out an imperialist agenda for American global primacy into the twenty first century.
The Reaganite doctrine and it’s contemporary re-emergence as adopted by the Bush administration has led to a global political swing to the far right, and exemplifies and condones the very worst in human nature. It has led to the creation of an elite class with moral and ethical standards distorted and misinterpreted to fit with their Christian fundamentalist doctrine. Domestically, within the United States this is encapsulated in policy that disregards all but the select “chosen” elite’s and promotes self-interest, greed, inhumanity and social fragmentation and disintegration.
That which is being witnessed and condoned through apathetic consent is a dramatic demarcation between the “haves” and “have nots” - domestically amongst western nations, and globally amongst an enormous concentration and centralization of finance and power. The neo-conservative agenda is metamorphing the status quo beyond the realm of politics and society into a fully fledged ideology, with disturbing authoritarian and nationalistic overtones. The politics of the far right are becoming the dominant culture not only of the right wing conservatives, but are creating a divisive world distinguished by the pro-capitalists on the one hand and the anti-capitalist, eco-conscious anti establishment left on the other.
Cause for optimism is meagre but can perhaps be gleaned from the fact that the USA is far from the all-powerful economic, cultural and political power it has been in the past. Domestically the economy is severely depressed, and the poor, the excluded, and disenfranchised, are increasing in number at alarming rates. Such a circumstance cannot help but impact on the status quo. In terms of foreign policy, there is much enthusiasm for interventionist activity, but a great reluctance to make the necessary sacrifices it entails. Today is a vastly different world to that of the days of Empire and colonization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. People are not so compliant to subjugation and imperialist dominance. Any belief that the USA can swiftly go in and overthrow regimes with minimal collateral damage, install the preferred ruling authority, take over ownership of resources and depart, is completely ludicrous.
A reporter from the Financial Times warned of the perils facing the new USA foreign policy agenda stating, “the USA have to understand the short comings impinging on it’s military muscle. To assume that it’s unrivalled prowess makes it easy to re-shape the politics of the world is just foolish. If the USA tries to achieve it’s goals through a militarized foreign policy that writes off the views of it’s allies and the role of global institutions, it will end up in failure. And this would be tragic not only for the USA itself, but the entire world”. Such words we should all endeavour to ensure the Bush administration does not fail to hear.
First published here on the World Crisis Web.