March 21, 2006

Bushies in Wonderland

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Curiouser and Curiouser

On May 1, 2003, George W. Bush swaggered across an aircraft carrier deck and declared “Mission Accomplished.” Yesterday, his proclamation was a little more understated. He said it marked “the third anniversary of the beginning of the liberation of Iraq,” and claimed to be “implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq.” So far, that victory appears as elusive as a greased pig.

While Bush talks victory, the rest of us are debating whether civil war in Iraq is inevitable or whether it has already begun.

Iraq’s former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, noted that 50 to 60 people, “if not more,” had been killed daily in Iraq since the attack on the Samarra shrine last month. “If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is,” Allawi told the BBC.

Dick Cheney, appearing yesterday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” disagreed. He said that “what we’ve seen is a serious effort by them to foment civil war, but I don’t think they’ve been successful.”

Meanwhile, the US military announced plans to continue paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-US articles – called “storyboards” – in order to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

First the Sentence, Then the Verdict

At the same time, Bush is preparing for war on Iran. He is following the same pattern that preceded his 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In 2002, six months before he invaded Iraq, Bush released a National Security Strategy that purported to justify preemptive war: “The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”

Last week, in his 2006 National Security Strategy, Bush reiterated his preemptive war doctrine: “If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack … The place of preemption in our national security strategy remains the same.”

Bush’s 2002 document previewed his impending attack on Iraq: “At the time of the Gulf War, we acquired irrefutable proof that Iraq’s designs were not limited to the chemical weapons it had used against Iran and its own people, but also extended to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and biological agents … We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends.”

In the new document, Bush lays out his case against Iran. “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran,” the document reads. “The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom.”

The Pentagon created an Office of Special Plans to plan its attack on Iraq. Bush has recently created a new Office of Iranian Affairs at the State Department.

Before Bush attacked Iraq, his administration made several statements accusing Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction that threatened our security.

Now the Bushies are rattling their sabers toward Iran.

Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of US Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran is conducting intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and Bush claim that improvised explosive device components manufactured in Iran are being used in Iraq. But Abizaid admitted there’s no evidence that the Iranian government is directly providing IED components to terrorists in Iraq.

“I can’t tell you whether or not that happened with the orders of the Iranian government,” Abizaid said. “But I can tell you that terrorists in northeastern Iraq used the Iranian northwestern border to move back and forth across the border.” If there is proof of an Iran-IED connection, he said, that would constitute “a very serious concern.”

Recall that we were fed a pack of lies about Saddam’s WMDs and a Saddam-al Qaeda connection. Don’t be surprised if an Iran-IED connection surfaces soon.

In January, Bush said that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it would pose a “grave threat to the security of the world.”

Last week, Iran offered to open a dialogue with the United States. But Condoleezza Rice made clear that the talks would be limited. “This isn’t a negotiation of some kind,” she said.

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told British MPs that military action could be used if all diplomatic efforts fail. Bolton also said, “I don’t think we have anything to say to the Iranians.”

When Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the US push for sanctions on Iran a déjà vu, Bolton retorted, “If that is déjà vu, then so be it, but that is the course we are on in an effort to get Iran to reverse its decision to acquire nuclear weapons.”

According to Nasser Hadian, professor of international law at Tehran University, however, the Iranians would like security guarantees and a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. That is what the Security Council resolution that ended the Gulf War mandates. But Israel would also have to give up its nukes, and that would never happen.

Feed Your Head

The majority of Americans oppose continued US involvement in Iraq. Thousands of people around the world protested the war on its third anniversary last weekend.

Bush administration defender-in-chief Donald Rumsfeld tried to head off the antiwar critics with a column in Sunday’s Washington Post. “Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today,” he wrote, “would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.” A curious analogy.

In an unexpected development, the House of Representatives voted in favor of an amendment to an emergency war appropriations bill that will prohibit the use of funds to enter into basing agreements that would lead to a permanent military presence in Iraq. The amendment could disappear in committee, or be applied only to future agreements. The US has already built several huge military bases in Iraq. (See Dahr Jamail, Iraq: Permanent US Colony). But the measure shows that representatives from both parties are tiring of the war.

Besides the cost in human life and suffering, expenditures for the war continue to rise. Spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will increase from $6.9 billion a month to $9.8 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

If the midterm elections become a referendum on the war, the Democrats could recapture one or both houses of Congress. The only way to stop this war is for Congress to cut its funding. So far, there appears to be little appetite on either side of the aisle to do anything other than to give Bush everything he wants.

Don’t be surprised if Bush doesn’t bother to ask Congress for permission to invade Iran. Remember, he justifies his illegal warrantless spying on Americans by citing the authorization for the use of military force Congress passed shortly after September 11, 2001, a theory roundly rejected by all reputable legal scholars. His invasion will come after a concerted campaign of spinning Iran into New Public Enemy No. 1 in his “Global War on Terror.”

Fool us once, shame on Bush. Fool us twice, shame on us.