June 25, 2003
"Regime Change" Ambitions in Iran
I'm again inclined to waive our policy of not posting particularly opinionated, biased, or mean-spirited material, due to the excellent content in the rest of the following article. The only real "offense" is that the author begins by saying President Bush is acting with "commendable stupidty", which I think is an appraisal that goes beyond the author's field of expertise. The rest of the article is much more suited to the purpose of foreign policy analysis, and provides some essential context to the simmering situation developing in Iran, albeit from a definitely judgmental viewpoint. Two more-journalistic appraisals follow it.
US wages war from within Iran
By Richard M Bennett
Jun 20, 2003
With commendable stupidity usually only reserved for the most powerful and isolated from reality, President George W Bush has managed to go some way towards repeating the catastrophic mistakes of Lyndon Johnson and ensnare the United States in an increasingly unpopular and probably unwinnable foreign military involvement. Just two months after the sudden collapse of organized Iraqi resistance to the US-led invasion, US troops are back in a Vietnam-scenario with the ambushing of military convoys, the regular use of grenades and rocket launchers against isolated American targets and indeed suicide bombers.
It has always been a truism that if you cannot avoid wars, then at least learn the lessons of previous conflicts. This, however, the US has signally failed to do. Not content with the ultimate failures of the campaigns in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, of Somalia, and indeed even Afghanistan, to achieve the stated aims and the supposed improvement in the state of the inhabitants of those nations, the US has blindly embarked on a dangerous and unsound course of action. US forces are already launching operations suspiciously similar to the "search-and-destroy" tactics of 40 years ago and with a similar response from an increasingly hostile civilian population.
Using a marked degree of devious propaganda about the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction and largely in the dark about the true allegiance and likely response of the majority of Iraqis, the US has now succeeded in alienating much of both the developed and Third World, and indeed signaled to both Russia and China that Washington's new-found military belligerence and diplomatic toughness are a profound threat to their influence and future powerbase. Not content with expending much of America's wealth and the lives of its young service personnel in largely fruitless campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington is now clearly preparing the ground for an attack on Iran.
And here is a more surface-level look at the situation in Iran:
Bush warns Iran on nuclear weapons, urges Tehran to treat pro-reform protesters with 'respect'
June 18th - 9:19 pm ET
Associated Press Writer
President Bush said Wednesday that he and other world leaders would not tolerate nuclear weapons in Iran, and administration officials expressed concern to the U.N. nuclear agency about the country's atomic program.
Bush also urged Iranian leaders to treat protesters with "the utmost of respect" as they seek the ouster of the Islamic government.
Though Bush's words of warning were strong, he gave no indication that Iran, which he has characterized as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea, might face military action under his policy allowing pre-emptive attacks where he sees threats.
Iran is thought by U.S. officials to be developing nuclear weapons, though the Iranian government denies it. Iran's chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, rejected allegations that his government failed to honor promises made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
"Iran considers the acquiring, development and use of nuclear weapons inhuman, immoral, illegal and against its very principles," he said. "They have no place in Iran's defensive doctrine."
Bush suggested he did not believe such denials.
And here's another:
Setbacks Dog U.S. Iran Policy
By Michael Moran
Friday 20 June 2003
The United States began to show its teeth to Iran this week after a series of diplomatic setbacks dashed optimistic predictions of administration officials that an international consensus had formed about taking concrete steps to curb Iran's nuclear program. The souring of the administration's outlook was on display Friday as John Bolton, the hawkish undersecretary of state for arms control issues, said that military action against Iran is an option the U.S. is studying should diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal fail.
"The President has repeatedly said that all options are on the table, but that is not only not our preference, it is far, far from our minds," Bolton told the British Broadcasting Corp. On Thursday, President Bush also toughened his public stance, saying that the U.S. would "not tolerate" a nuclear weapons program in Iran.
The speedy decline of the U.S. effort to win broader support illustrates an important fact: Iran is viewed quite differently from Iraq or even North Korea by most of the world's nations. In spite of its record as a supporter of terrorist groups and its repressive Islamic leadership, it is more democratic than many states that the United States regards as allies, and its strong oil and energy industries make it an attractive investment opportunity.
As recently as a week ago, administration officials were citing support from Russia, the Group of Eight industrialized nations and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as proof of the progress being made by the U.S.-led effort to curb nuclear proliferation, which Bush has described as "topping the agenda" now that Saddam Hussein has been toppled.
But since then, across the board, actions the U.S. had hoped would lead to a strong condemnation of Iran for refusing to allow open inspections of all suspect nuclear facilities have fallen short.
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:34 AM
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June 24, 2003
US General Condemns Iraq Failures
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the stories about the U.S.'s failure to "win the peace" in Iraq is that the PNAC proponents have been pushing for this war for many years. One might think that with a solid 5 years of time to plan and prepare (the PNAC first urged a second war with Iraq in 1998), and with over a decade of close observation, and decades of involvement with the country, that some of these issues could have been better anticipated.
US General Condemns Iraq Failures
By Ed Vulliamy
Sunday 22 June 2003
One of the most experienced and respected figures in a generation of American warfare and peacekeeping yesterday accused the US administration of 'failing to prepare for the consequences of victory' in Iraq.
At the end of a week that saw a war of attrition develop against the US military, General William Nash told The Observer that the US had 'lost its window of opportunity' after felling Saddam Hussein's regime and was embarking on a long-term expenditure of people and dollars for which it had not planned.
'It is an endeavour which was not understood by the administration to begin with,' he said.
Now retired, Nash served in the Vietnam war and in Operation Desert Storm (the first Gulf War) before becoming commander of US forces in Bosnia and then an acclaimed UN Civil Affairs administrator in Kosovo.
He is currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, specialising in conflict prevention.
In one of the most outspoken critiques from a man of his standing, Nash said the US had 'failed to understand the mindset and attitudes of the Iraqi people and the depth of hostility towards the US in much of the country'.
Posted by Lance Brown at 03:20 AM
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June 23, 2003
The Neo-Conservative Ascendancy in the Bush Administration
Jim Lobe has been on the tail of the neoconservatives since before the word “neocon” was widely used or known. His articles typically appear in the Asia Times, as well as on the website of Foreign Policy in Focus. He has also been a correspondent for Inter Press Service (IPS) for some 23 years.
IPS has just recently compiled all of Lobe’s stories on the neoconservative movement on one handy webpage. It is an invaluable resource, and worth browsing in order to get a handle on how the movement has evolved over recent years.
Check out the the IPS archive on "The Neo-Conservative Ascendancy in the Bush Administration."
Posted by Bill Connolly at 06:37 PM
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US losing the peace in Afghanistan
This article has to much of import to excerpt it effectively. It's very much worth reading in full, and in concert with our previous entry on unrest in Iraq.
US losing the peace in Afghanistan
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - Just as the United States is struggling to deal with major postwar headaches in Iraq, its efforts to pacify Afghanistan appear to be unraveling, according to a new report by a key group of experts sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Asia Society.
Titled "Afghanistan: Are We Losing the Peace?", the 24-page document, authored by, among others, three retired senior US government policymakers who specialize in South Asian affairs, answers that question very much in the affirmative and argues that Washington must do far more, and urgently, to save the situation.
"Without greater support for the transitional government of President Hamid Karzai, security in Afghanistan will deteriorate further, prospects for economic reconstruction will dim, and Afghanistan will revert to warlord-dominated anarchy," the task force concluded.
"This failure could gravely erode America's credibility around the globe and mark a major defeat in the US-led war on terrorism," added the report, which was written by the co-chairs of the independent CFR-Asia Society task force that has been following Afghanistan since before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and the Pentagon.
In addition to devoting increasing energy to get Iraq under firm control, the administration is also increasingly preoccupied internationally with implementing the "roadmap" for Israeli-Palestinian peace and coping with the diplomatic fallout from both the Iraq war and its failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in that country. The alleged production and deployment of WMD by former president Saddam Hussein was cited by Bush and his allies as the main justification for going to war.
Continuing challenges to the US military occupation in Iraq, as well as the general insecurity there, has forced the Pentagon to deploy at least 140,000 troops there - twice as many as it had planned before the invasion...
In addition, tensions with Iran have been rising steadily over the past six weeks as the administration appears increasingly inclined to adopt a policy of "regime change", which could include covert paramilitary action and even military strikes in a country whose population is roughly twice that of Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
"This is what is called 'imperial over-stretch'," noted one congressional aide whose boss has long warned that Bush's post-September 11 strategic ambitions would stretch US forces impossibly thin within a very short time.
"If the administration fails to take the lead in providing more security and extending the authority of the central government," said Barnett Rubin, an Afghanistan expert at New York University and a member of the CFR-Asia Society Task Force, "our policy in Afghanistan is definitely on track to fail."
Posted by Lance Brown at 03:53 AM
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Disturbing Level of Unrest in Iraq
The PNAC strategy calls for a lasting presence and influence over places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and the like. But the scene on the ground in the first two of those experiments must inspire serious doubts about whether or not such a plan is feasible -- whether nations in the Middle East will accept such a presence.
It's worthwhile, as always, to look at history when trying to understand the events of the present. Here is an excerpt from HistoryChannel.com's entry under "Iraq":
In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Sèvres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.
In 1933 the small Christian Assyrian community revolted, culminating in a governmental military crackdown and loss of life and setting a precedent for internal minority uprisings in Iraq. Meanwhile, the first oil concession had been granted in 1925, and in 1934 the export of oil began. Domestic politics were turbulent, with many factions contending for power. Late in 1936, the country experienced the first of seven military coups that were to take place in the next five years.
That's 21 years of tumult described there. A little over 20 years of further tumult later, the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein began their rise to power.
The theory of the PNAC believers and neoconservatives must be that somehow, this time will be different. But the story on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't seem to be bearing that theory out:
Smashed US Memorial Points to Deepening Iraqi Anger
By Scott Peterson
The Christian Science Monitor
Friday 20 June 2003
BAGHDAD – With tears in his eyes, US Army paratrooper Richard Bohr knelt down in the Iraqi dust and kissed a handmade memorial stone, bidding farewell to a brother in the US Marine Corps who was killed in action on the spot April 10, the day after Baghdad fell to invading American troops.
Draped with a necklace and pendant imploring, "St. Michael Protect Us," the concrete memorial put in place by a US unit Friday morning measured two-by-three feet, and had been painted with a bright American flag, the Marine Corps shield, and the words "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
But within 30 minutes of the American troops leaving, this tribute to a brother was no more - a casualty of the deepening resentment toward US troops here, at the hands of Iraqis who increasingly see those troops not as liberating friends, but as an occupying enemy.
Ms. Fadhel says that as much as she disliked the regime of Saddam Hussein, she could safely be out past 9:00 pm. Now, she says, any time after 6:00 pm is unsafe. Delays by the Washington-appointed administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, to create a new Iraqi government, adds to the resentment among Iraqis.
"If they don't establish a new Iraqi government by August, Iraqi people everywhere will attack them. They must know that it will result in a civil war," Fadhel says. "You will see bodies of Americans in the streets. They think we are silent, but we are agitated inside."
That agitation is increasingly boiling to the surface. Signs are sprouting that US troops - and the ineffective new US-led authority they have ushered in - are wearing out their welcome. Graffiti sprayed across one highway overpass reads: "Go home Americans." Spray-painted in red inside a downtown bus stop: "Go away, U.S.A."
"The US has proved to the Iraqi people that it is an occupation force that wants oil, to protect Israel, and to build big military bases in Iraq," says Mr. Hussein, who also worked in the Iraqi military. "Of course we wanted a change of regime, but not in this way, because we have gone from bad to worse. Then there was safety, and we knew when we would get our salary."
(A story about the troubles in Afgahnistan is forthcoming.)
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:47 AM
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June 18, 2003
Rebuilding of Iraq is in Chaos, Say British
A key element of the PNAC's plan for a "unipolar" world is the idea that nations can be fundamentally changed, through force, by other nations. If that premise doesn't hold true, then most of the PNAC strategy would be deemed unreliable, since it relies heavily on the U.S.'s ability to achieve fundamental changes in many nations and regions around the globe.
America's Rebuilding of Iraq is in Chaos, Say British
By Peter Foster
Tuesday 17 June 2003
The American-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is "in chaos" and suffering from "a complete absence of strategic direction", a very senior British official in Baghdad has told The Telegraph.
The comments paint a grim picture of American incompetence and mismanagement as the Coalition Provisional Authority struggles to run post-Saddam Iraq.
"This is the single most chaotic organisation I have ever worked for," the official said yesterday.
The source revealed that Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, had "fewer than 600" staff under his control to run a country the size of France in which the civil infrastructure was on the point of collapse.
"The operation is chronically under-resourced and suffers from an almost complete absence of strategic direction," he added.
Similar frustrations have been voiced privately in London, where British ministers are said to be fed up with being "taken for granted".
Posted by Lance Brown at 10:12 PM
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Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?
The following article, to the extent that it's correct, is a refreshing ray of hope for those concerned about the growing influence of the PNAC adherents. Conservative movement veteran Pat Buchanan believes there are many signs that the "neocons" have seen their peak in influence. However, Justin Raimondo from Antiwar.com makes the case that there are plenty of reasons to stay vigilant, and that the neoconservatives will continue to try and advance their goals for a long time to come.
Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?
by Pat Buchanan
June 16, 2003 issue
The American Conservative
The salad days of the neoconservatives, which began with the president’s Axis-of-Evil address in January 2002 and lasted until the fall of Baghdad may be coming to an end. Indeed, it is likely the neoconservatives will never again enjoy the celebrity and cachet in which they reveled in their romp to war on Iraq.
While this is, admittedly, a prediction, it rests on reasonable assumptions. But why should neoconservatism, at the apparent apex of its influence, be on the edge of eclipse?
Answer: the high tide of neoconservatism may have passed because the high tide of American empire may have passed. “World War IV,” the empire project, the great cause of the neocons, seems to have been suspended by the President of the United States.
While we still hear talk of “regime change” in Iran and North Korea, U.S. forces not tied down in occupation duties by the anarchy and chaos in Iraq, are returning home.
The first signal that the apogee of American hegemony in the Middle East has been reached came as U.S. soldiers and marines were completing their triumphant march into Baghdad. Suddenly, all the bellicosity toward Syria from neoconservatives and the Pentagon, stopped, apparently on the orders of the Commander in Chief.
Posted by Lance Brown at 03:48 AM
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June 16, 2003
Superb Article -- The Mideast: Neocons on the Line
This is an excellent Newsweek article about the PNAC adherents, and where they stand in the post-war atmosphere. It's a thorough overall summary of the neoconservative movement and what it means in terms of current and recent U.S. foreign policy.
The Mideast: Neocons on the Line
A growing number of critics on Capitol Hill and around the world are questioning the Bush administration’s credibility—and its assumptions—as never before.
By Michael Hirsh
Monday 23 June 2003
IT WAS WOLFOWITZ, the gentlemanly superhawk, who within days of 9-11 prodded the Bush administration into a radical new strategy: forcefully confronting states that sponsor terrorism. It was Wolfowitz—the ex math whiz who fell in love with the idea of “national greatness” as a youth and is now seen as the Bush administration’s chief intellectual—who pressed Bush hardest to transform the war on terror into a campaign for regime change and democracy in rogue nations, especially in Iraq and the Islamic world.
Now the deputy defense secretary and his fellow neoconservatives are on the defensive. They are battling a growing crowd of critics on Capitol Hill and around the world as the Bush administration’s credibility—and its assumptions—are tested as never before. In Iraq, after another week in which U.S. troops died and got into fierce fire fights, elements of more than half of America’s Army divisions are tied down. Some U.S. officials have begun muttering the dreaded Q word—quagmire, a term Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had mocked on a visit to Baghdad in the days just after the three-week war. In the Mideast, the hard-liners’ move to replace Yasir Arafat with the moderate Mahmoud Abbas—and to ignore the conflict until after the Iraq war—has touched off a new cycle of violence that stunned even the White House in its savagery. It seems increasingly difficult to argue that “the road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad.” In the face of a possible congressional probe into why Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction have not been found, two Pentagon neocons, Doug Feith and Bill Luti, sought earlier this month to identify themselves with, of all people, Bill Clinton. In a fumbling news conference, they insisted that their intel squared with the previous administration’s.
QUESTIONS ON U.S. CREDIBILITY
Fairly or not, Paul Wolfowitz has become a lightning rod for much of this criticism, and to “cry Wolfowitz” has already become a catchphrase for the pressing questions about U.S. credibility. At a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Wolfowitz—always a striking presence with his thick black hair, vaguely lupine looks and air of tense repose—was rocked by hostile questioning. Wolfowitz not long ago dismissed Army chief Eric Shinseki’s call for a large peacekeeping force as “wildly off the mark.” Now he indicated that Iraq looked more complicated than Bosnia. “We’ve been in Bosnia for eight years,” Sen. Joseph Biden snapped back. “That would seem to compute that we’re likely to be in Iraq for a long time—a long time.”
Wolfowitz himself never thought that his long-sought goal of democratic transformation would be easy.
Posted by Lance Brown at 04:14 AM
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June 14, 2003
The trouble with Delivering Democracy Abroad
After World War I, the British tried to "civilize" the Arab world, and bring democracy there. The result, in Iraq at least, was a long chain of quite undemocratic arrangements, culminating, after decades of forced monarchy, in the coup that began Saddam Hussein's rise to power.
In other words, history repeats itself.
Ex-Army Boss: Pentagon Won't Admit Reality in Iraq
By Dave Moniz
Tuesday 03 June 2003
WASHINGTON — The former civilian head of the Army said Monday it is time for the Pentagon to admit that the military is in for a long occupation of Iraq that will require a major commitment of American troops.
Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.
"This is not what they were selling (before the war)," White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."
The interview was White's first since leaving the Pentagon in May after a series of public feuds with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld led to his firing.
Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops." Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark."
Chafing at Authority in Iraq
Firing of Council In Basra Upsets Middle Class
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 30, 2003; Page A01
BASRA, Iraq, May 29 -- In the first weeks after the war, British and U.S. occupation forces hailed their appointment of a city council here in Iraq's second-largest city as an important first step toward self-rule for the country. In the past week, however, they have dumped the mayor and his council, concluding that the interim government was composed mostly of unpopular tribal sheiks with ties to former president Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party.
Occupation authorities have thus decided that Iraqis here are not yet ready to govern themselves -- at all. Instead, Basra leaders will serve as appointed technocrats and advisers with no executive authority.
The move has alienated many educated Iraqis from the middle-class professions, who say they are being treated like children by the occupation forces and denied true liberation. They say the Americans and British have spoken often of freedom and democracy, but have failed to find a way to meaningfully integrate Iraqis into decision-making positions.
Posted by Lance Brown at 04:27 PM
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Bad Iraq Data From Start to Finish
More in the series of commentary on the administration's case for the war.
Bad Iraq Data From Start to Finish
Americans were duped: Evidence of Administration manipulation and mendacity just keeps rolling in.
Ever since the tragedy of Sept. 11, the Bush Administration has relied on selective and distorted intelligence data to make the case for invading Iraq. But the truth will out, and the White House is now scrambling to explain away its mendacity.
On Sunday, Condoleezza Rice admitted that President Bush had used a forged document in his State of the Union speech to prove Iraq represented a nuclear threat: "We did not know at the time--maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency--but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery. Of course it was information that was mistaken."
rest of the article at
Posted by David Lynch at 08:11 AM
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June 13, 2003
PNAC Proponents Inflated WMD Threat to Promote Iraq War
Here are a few of the growing number of stories about how administration officials worked to ensure that the threat of Iraq's claimed WMD prgrams and readiness were overstated, in making the case for war with that country.
Powell was Under Pressure to Use Shaky Intelligence on Iraq: Report
US News and World Report magazine said the first draft of the speech was prepared for Powell by Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in late January.
According to the report, the draft contained such questionable material that Powell lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."
Cheney's aides wanted Powell to include in his presentation information that Iraq has purchased computer software that would allow it to plan an attack on the United States, an allegation that was not supported by the CIA, US News reported.
(Here is a link to the U.S. News & World Report article referred to in the above. The article will go to their for-pay archives after a while.)
Might and Right
Commentary by Philip Gourevitch
The New Yorker
Issue of 2003-06-16
Two weeks ago, on the first day of his first foreign trip since the fall of Baghdad, President Bush went to Auschwitz. The symbolism could not have been more heavy-handed: with the international press full of images of the grisly excavations of Saddam Hussein’s killing fields, the President claimed the memory of the six million to explain his “war on terror,” invoking the Nazi gas chambers and crematoriums as “a sobering reminder of the power of evil and the need for people to resist evil.” Bush ended his trip in the same spirit, telling a cheering throng of American troops in Qatar, “The world is now learning what many of you have seen. They’re learning about the mass graves. They’re learning about the torture chambers. Because of you, a great evil has been ended.” It’s true that stopping Saddam’s tyranny is the most heartening and unambiguous consequence of the war in Iraq. But Bush did not take over that country on a humanitarian impulse. As Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has said, although Saddam’s “criminal treatment of the Iraqi people” was a “fundamental concern” for Washington’s war planners, it was “not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it.” Rather, according to the repeated claims of the Administration, our kids were put at risk in order to disarm Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons, which, intelligence assessments were said to show, posed an urgent threat to our national security.
So where is Saddam’s terrible arsenal? Bush, on his way to Auschwitz, took time out to tell Polish television, “We found the weapons of mass destruction.” That wasn’t true. After more than two months of searching, American forces in Iraq had yet to discover any trace of biological or chemical agents. All they have found is a pair of tractor trailers, which appear to have been fitted out as weapons laboratories but never used. The President’s readiness to present this discovery as a finding of the weapons themselves follows a pattern of distortions on the part of the Administration—hypotheticals proclaimed as facts, suspicions and fears spun as clear and present dangers, actions taken accordingly—throughout the planning, marketing, and prosecution of the war.
Senators Urge Congress to Hold Hearings on Iraq
Tuesday 10 June 2003
WASHINGTON - Two key senators said on Tuesday that Congress should hold hearings on what intelligence led the United States to go to war against Iraq.
Concerns have been rising in the United States and worldwide that the banned arsenal the U.S. administration cited as the reason for launching the war has not been found in the weeks since the ousting of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
President Bush stopped short on Monday of repeating his pledge that weapons of mass destruction would be found, although he stated flatly that Iraq had a banned arms program.
Posted by Lance Brown at 03:35 PM
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June 12, 2003
The Conservative Split I: An Introduction to Neoconservatism
(NOTE: This is the first in a series of recent commentaries on developments in the conservative political movement-- namely the "rise of the neo-conservatives", and the concern this is causing with the more traditional conservatives and "paleo-conservatives".)
Gary North, a veteran of the modern conservative movement, provides an extraordinary overview of the history of the "neoconservative" branch of that movement, which has culminated in the sharp changes in U.S. foreign policy focus and demeanor seen since the September 11th attacks. His analysis is long, intensely revealing, and it is delivered from the view of a long-time insider and "player" in the conservative ranks.
An Introduction to Neoconservatism
Questions relating to neoconservatism – what it is, who runs the show – have begun to be raised by the conventional press, mainly due to the invasion of Iraq, which is clearly the fruit of policy recommendations made by neoconservative advisors to President Bush. Foreign policy is the traditional monopoly of the Establishment. After all, the Council on Foreign Relations is not called the Council on Domestic Policies. Any invasion of turf by outsiders is therefore resented by the Establishment. The neocons are turf-invaders, which bothers the Establishment far more than the invasion of Iraq does.
Criticism of neoconservatism from the paleoconservative Right has also escalated. If the paleoconservatives had any institutional turf to defend, their resentment might be compared with the reaction of the Establishment. But because the paleos have served the Right as non-interventionism's John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, they were on the attack against neoconservatism as early as the first Bush's Administration. Their decade-old name is a self-conscious reaction to neoconservatism. Their attitude is straightforward: "We don't need no stinking neo."
The paleos resent the neocons for the same reasons that their spiritual forbears, the Taft Republicans, resented the post-war foreign policy interventionism of both Democrats and Republicans: first under Dean Acheson and then long-time internationalist John Foster Dulles. (By far the best book on Dulles is Alan Stang, The Actor, Western Islands, 1968.)
I am a paleo, but with distinctions. I was an anti-Communist. My view of national defense during the Cold War was strictly defensive. I publicly promoted the Strategic Defense Initiative even before President Reagan announced it. I favored the creation of a national civil defense program. (Arthur Robinson and Gary North, Fighting Chance, 1986.) I favored the replacement of offensive ICBM's by thousands of mobile, subsonic, nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, which would have eliminated any strategic possibility of a Soviet first strike against these strictly defensive weapons. I was opposed to MAD: Mutual Assured Destruction, where civilians were held hostage by both sides. The idea of war against civilians appalls me. As to my anti-Communist bona fides, you can download a free copy of my 1968 book, Marx's Religion of Revolution.
In tracing the rise of neoconservatism, it is best to use the five W's of old-fashioned journalism: what, who, when, where, and why, in that order. I offer these thoughts as an introduction, not as anything remotely definitive. Let us begin with the pre-neo conservative movement.
Posted by Lance Brown at 05:06 AM
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The Conservative Split II: Buchanan Weighs In
(NOTE: This is the second of a series of recent commentaries on developments in the conservative political movement-- namely the "rise of the neo-conservatives", and the concern this is causing with the more traditional conservatives and "paleo-conservatives".)
Editor's Note: I was hesitant at first about posting this article by Pat Buchanan, partially because he has been seen by many as an extremist on some issues, and partly because he occasionally dips below our standard of decorum in his analysis. However, he is a major voice in the conservative community. He has been the conservative commentator for many left-right political shows over the past many years, he has been a Republican candidate for president, and he is an Editor of The American Conservative. Furthermore, his article is quite extensive, he backs up his assertions with extensive quotes and references to other sources, and he provides a valuable in-depth, insider viewpoint on the growing rift in the conservative movement. It certainly provides essential background information in understanding the roots and branches of the PNAC.
It's also worth saying that the growing level of disgust among those "in the know" about the rise of the PNAC and neoconservativism in U.S. foreign policy is making it harder to find analyses and commentaries in which the disgust doesn't show through to at least some extent.
A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest.
by Patrick J. Buchanan
March 24, 2003 issue
Copyright © 2003 The American Conservative
The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: “Can you assure American viewers ... that we’re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?”
Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so.
Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these “Buchananites toss around ‘neoconservative’—and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen—it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is ‘Jewish conservative.’” Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a “key tenet of neoconservatism.” He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush “sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible.” (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)
Posted by Lance Brown at 04:36 AM
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The Conservative Split III: A Call to Action
(NOTE: This is the third of a series of recent commentaries on developments in the conservative political movement-- namely the "rise of the neo-conservatives", and the concern this is causing with the more traditional conservatives and "paleo-conservatives".)
The American Conservative Union recently issued an open memo to "Conservative Leaders and Activists", entitled Revitalizing Conservatism. In it, ACU vice-chairman Donald Devine makes 12 numbered points, arguments, and appeals, all centered around the idea that conservatives need to rally around traditional, small-government conservatism, and to resist the rising forces in the Republican Party, and more specifically the so-called "neo-conservatives", which is one of the terms frequently applied to the promoters and friends of the PNAC.
Here are a few of the 12 points he addresses:
1. Beginning a Discussion on the Future of Conservatism. We at ACU believe that it is time for the conservative movement to begin a serious discussion of its future course. The issue is, are we to become just a lobbying force for the Republican Party or should we regain our status as a cutting-edge force moving the country towards freedom and responsibility?
4. The Split on the Right. But it is worse. Conservatives are fighting each other on the front pages of their own magazines. National Review writer David Frum made the argument public with a banner denunciation of any conservative with reservations about the invasion of Iraq. Those conservative intellectuals and activists opposed or even those critical of it before the fighting or even those who mentioned that protecting Israel's interests could complicate matters were all labeled paleo-conservatives and pushed off to the nutty fringe. The only good guys remaining on the right were neo-conservatives. Frum named names, some of who differed on principle, but most simply saw the facts differently. He was so obsessed with his own righteousness in anathematizing heretics he was heedless of how the split would further weaken the forces of the right.
6. The Public Voice of Conservatism? Intellect abhors a vacuum as much as physical matter. So "national greatness" neo-conservatism soon replaced limited government as the ideal and filled the pages of the journals on the right, very much including NR, which at one point even called for a revival of colonialism under U.S. auspices and the building of an American empire. Bill Buckley himself was forced to repair to the pages of rival Human Events-which remained faithful to the original ideals but saw its role as a news magazine rather than as a journal of opinion--to condemn empire-building as incompatible with American conservatism. With the Weekly Standard message boosted by the TV stardom of its editor Bill Kristol-who recently boasted, "if people want to say we're an imperial power, fine"--neo-conservatism became the dominant public face of the movement. The alternatives were the paleo-conservative magazines, Chronicles and The American Conservative, which were equally disdainful of mainstream conservatism.
9. Empire Makes Or Breaks Conservatism. Global empire is an important issue for conservatism. If the U.S. government has the ability to bring peace and democracy to the world, big government can obviously also run America's economy and plan its social life--and limited government becomes irrelevant. Here most of neo-conservatism and paleo-conservatism unite in their lack of interest in limited government. Modern conservatism literally shifted the center of American and world politics against unlimited government, at least in thought, in a not insubstantial manner. All politicians today-especially in the GOP-- find it difficult to push higher taxes and the belief is widespread that government programs do not work very well. Politically, however, government keeps growing and almost no politician concedes there is any limit to where its benefits and power may reach in the future. Even with the largest programs approaching bankruptcy, the government is immobilized by fear of taking action. Government keeps growing and journalistic conservatism is silent that this growth, especially fueled by dreams of empire, threatens the whole project of American liberty.
12. Back To Square One. The conservative movement today is in danger of becoming a lobbying adjunct of the Republican Party. This means its ideas would no longer lead policy and soon thereafter its ideas would die. At the beginning, there were probably only a few thousand committed conservative activists and intellectuals in the whole country. Liberal intellectuals proclaimed "The End of Ideology" because there was no conservative alternative. The GOP was dominated by Nelson Rockefeller and the Eastern liberal Republicans controlled the White House, which threatened conservatives with expulsion if they even complained. We rose up then and moved the world right and we can do it again. If we cannot rise to oppose empire, the movement deserves to fail. All we need to do is get off our butts and speak up for our principles.
Read the whole ACU memo here.
Posted by Lance Brown at 02:20 AM
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