"Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom...A long and violent abuse of power is generally the means of calling the right of it in question..."
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vital Interests

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
~George Orwell
Introduction: Asking the Hard Questions
After realizing that our government purposefully misconstrued evidence and lied about intelligence in order to invade Iraq, one is inclined to ask the honest question, "What is the real motive behind this War? If, all along, there was no legitimate threat of WMDs, why did our government create a charade to invade Iraq, and what are the real reasons we are still occupying Iraq militarily?"
As we pointed out in our first blog post on the Iraq War, "Rumors of Wars," the argument in support of the war has changed over time (which, incidentally, is an obvious red flag to each of us). First, the threat of WMDs and nuclear proliferation were used to rally support for the invasion. Later, both political wings repeated the claim that if troops withdrew from Iraq, Muslim extremist groups would take over the region. Even critics of the war began to claim that the US had a responsibility to remain as long as necessary to repair the "problem" we had started.
These arguments in support of the continuation of the Iraq War each depended on the same remarkably illogical premise: that understanding the reasons WHY we invaded Iraq is not as important as deciding what to do now.
Such illogical reasoning eerily resembles "doublethink," a concept popularized by George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four:
"[Doublethink is] the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them...To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient...to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies."
Such is the thought process of Americans who support a resolution to the War without taking into account the War's history. IF our leaders intentionally lied to us in order to invade Iraq, wouldn't the ideal scenario for them be a public that does not seek to understand the reasons we are at war? Compounding the problem, most Americans know little about the history of US involvement in the Middle East. Hence, the American public unwittingly contributes to the continuation of a War built on lies.
The American public is continually blinded by the fictitious partisan political issues which evolve from time to time, but never towards a resolution of the conflict. Even the strongest anti-war democrats have changed their rhetoric. Their current 'foreign policy' talking-point unabashedly asks the question of whether the Bush administration's 'War on Terror' focused too much on Iraq and not enough on Afghanistan, where al-Quida has supposedly regrouped. As always, the debate uses fear and confusion to mask the underlying question of WHY we are really at war. Ever distracted by the fear-mongering propagandists, the American public, in the midst of these lies, has yet to seek substantive answers to the present conflict.
A true understanding naturally comes as one seeks answers to the hard but important questions of HOW and WHY our government has lied to us. Our first Iraq War post answered the question of HOW the government has lied. As you can learn from that post, the War never had anything to do with WMDs, a tyrannical regime, freedom, or terrorism. Once you understand this, you will be ready to uncover the truth behind the lies, the real reasons WHY we are at war.
The Truth
Anthony Lake, President Bill Clinton's Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, said, "Our nation uses force for one purpose alone: To protect and promote American interests." Those interests can be categorized by their level of importance: (1) Vital, (2) important, and (3) humanitarian or other interests. It logically follows then that there is or was an American interest at stake in Iraq, vital, important, or otherwise, that justified military action in the eyes of policy makers. While it was first claimed that these interests involved our national security, it has since been established by congress, the presidential committee, the United Nations, and others that there was no threat from Iraq at the time of the '03 invasion.
The vital interest at stake that demanded military action in the minds of policy makers is evident in the following statements by recent US Presidents. While this analysis could begin at an earlier date, we'll begin in 1980 with the foreign policy of Jimmy Carter and work our way to the present.
The Carter Doctrine
During the presidency of Jimmy Carter the Soviet Union, which had long been at odds with the West regarding control of Middle Eastern resources, was attempting to establish a strategic military position in the region. Regarding this issue, Jimmy Carter established what is known as the Carter Doctrine in his 1980 State of the Union address:
"Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
Notice that President Carter identifies that America has "vital interests" in the Persian Gulf region. This interest was considered so vital that the US would confront any outside force (not just terrorism from within) seeking to gain control of the region by, "any means necessary, including military force." What could be so vital to America's interest that it would merit such an aggressive policy? Carter identified this earlier in his speech:
The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world's exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Straits of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world's oil must flow. The Soviet Union is now attempting to consolidate a strategic position, therefore, that poses a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil
Carter identifies the free movement of oil to be a vital interest to the United States, an interest so significant that we would maintain exclusive control of the area using military force.
The US's foreign policy towards the Persian Gulf region has become more aggressive with successive Presidents, regardless of party distinctions, as demonstrated during the Reagan years.
As you read the following statements from speeches, press conferences, and official documents, keep in mind that the reasons stated for protecting the free movement of oil vary - and perhaps are never fully admitted - but the fact that OIL is and has for decades been the underlying motive for US involvement in the Middle East is undeniably clear.
The Reagan Era
During his remarks in a White House briefing on policy toward the Persian Gulf, Ronald Reagan said the following:
"In summary then, the United States and its allies maintain a presence in the Gulf to assist in the free movement of petroleum, to reassure those of our friends and allies in the region of our commitment to their peace and welfare, to ensure that freedom of navigation and other principles of international accord are respected and observed -- in short, to promote the cause of peace. Until peace is restored and there's no longer a risk to shipping in the region, particularly shipping under American protection, we must maintain an adequate presence to deter and, if necessary, to defend ourselves against any accidental attack or against any intentional attack. As Commander in Chief, it's my responsibility to make sure that we place forces in the area that are adequate to that purpose. Our goal is to seek peace rather than provocation, but our interests and those of our friends must be preserved. We're in the gulf to protect our national interests and, together with our allies, the interests of the entire Western World. Peace is at stake; our national interest is at stake. And we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Weakness, a lack of resolve and strength, will only encourage those who seek to use the flow of oil as a tool, a weapon, to cause the American people hardship at home, incapacitate us abroad, and promote conflict and violence throughout the Middle East and the world."
Although President Reagan sugar-coated the United States' motives with the word "peace" he nevertheless makes it unmistakably clear that the reason for our presence in the Gulf is to protect our oil interests. (It should be noted that statements such as these made by Presidents and other politicians or organizations are not few and far between. Oil as the underlying motive for US intervention in the Middle East is a universally accepted fact in the political and historical realm. If anyone desires additional resources we will gladly provide them).
George H. W. Bush
The Presidency of the first President Bush is perhaps most remembered for what is known as the Gulf War or the Persian Gulf War. Iraq who was invading the neighboring country of Kuwait was seen by many in American politics as a threat to our national interests. As the invasion commenced, President Bush offered these words:
Needless to say, we view the situation with the utmost gravity. We remain committed to take whatever steps are necessary to defend our longstanding, vital interests in the Gulf, and I'm meeting this morning with my senior advisers here to consider all possible options available to us.
US forces drove back the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait and pushed the military almost all the way back to the capital city in a short period of time. Bush would later be criticized for not seizing the opportunity to dispose of Saddam Hussein who, although once hailed as an asset in the Middle East, was now considered a threat to US interests. Although many justify our intervention in the Gulf War by arguing that we were protecting the sovereignty of Kuwait, the protection of our oil interests in the Middle East as the real motive was no secret. Here is one more quote from Bush to dissipate any remaining doubt:
Immediately after the Iraqi invasion, I ordered an embargo of all trade with Iraq and, together with many other nations, announced sanctions that both freeze all Iraqi assets in this country and protected Kuwait's assets. The stakes are high. Iraq is already a rich and powerful country that possesses the world's second largest reserves of oil and over a million men under arms. It's the fourth largest military in the world. Our country now imports nearly half the oil it consumes and could face a major threat to its economic independence. Much of the world is even more dependent upon imported oil and is even more vulnerable to Iraqi threats.
The Clinton Years
It is ironic that in the United States the Democratic Party is considered the Anti-war party whereas the Republicans are considered more prone to use military force; ironic because of the extensive amount of death and destruction that took place under the Clinton years. It should be remembered that much of the inexcusable death in Iraq that is described in our previous post "Paying the Price for the Gulf War" took place under the Clinton administration during which time Clinton also approved at least 3 major air strikes against the country. Clinton explained why he approved one of those strikes (1996) as follows:
Good morning. Today I know the thoughts and prayers of every American are with our men and women in uniform serving in the Persian Gulf, standing up for America's interests. I want to speak with you about why, 10 days ago, I ordered our Armed Forces to strike Iraq, what we have accomplished and where we go from here. America's vital interests in the Persian Gulf are constant and clear: to help protect our friends in the region against aggression, to work with others in the fight against terrorism, to preserve the free flow of oil, and to build support for a comprehensive Middle East peace. Any group or nation that threatens the stability of the region threatens those interests. For the past five years, Saddam Hussein has repeatedly threatened the stability of the Persian Gulf and our allies, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Time and again, he has lashed out recklessly against his neighbors and against his own people. America's policy has been to contain Saddam, to reduce the threat he poses to the region, and to do it in a way that makes him pay a price when he acts recklessly. That is why, when Saddam sent his troops to the Kurdish city of Urbil in Northern Iraq two weeks ago, we responded -- strongly, immediately and strategically. If we had failed to answer Saddam's provocation, he would have been emboldened to act even more recklessly and in a manner more dangerous to our interests. That is why we did respond and why we did so in a way that made our interests more secure. We acted in Southern Iraq, where our interests are the most vital and where we had the capacity to increase the international community's ability to deter aggression by Saddam against his neighbors.
Once again, there is an attempt to sugar-coat the issue. In this statement, Clinton adds to the list of vital interests stability, terrorism, and peace. Keep in mind however that the reason America has an interest in peace and stability in the Middle East, which "terrorism" threatens is because of our vital oil interests in the region. It is not difficult to see that it would be impractical and simply impossible for the United States to intervene militarily every time there exists terrorism, instabililty, and/or a lack of peace anywhere in the world. It can only be concluded therefore that the determining factor is that which was also acknowledged by Clinton and his predecessors: oil.
Clinton's "National Security Strategy for a New Century." (As you read these excerpts, keep in mind that this was published in January of 2000 - the last year of his Presidency and the year George W Bush was elected):
Providing for Energy Security
The United States depends on oil for about 40 percent of its primary energy needs, and roughly half of our oil needs are met with imports. And although we import less than 15% of the oil exported from the Persian Gulf, our allies in Europe and Japan account for about 80% of those exports. The United States is undergoing a fundamental shift away from reliance on Middle East oil. Venezuela is our number one foreign supplier, and Africa supplies 15% of our imported oil. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela combined supply almost twice as much oil to the United States as the Arab OPEC countries. The Caspian Basin, with potential oil reserves of 160 billion barrels, promises to play an increasingly important role in meeting rising world energy demand in coming decades.
Although Bill Clinton describes a break away from Middle Eastern oil, he later in the same document explains why the Middle East will always be of strategic importance to the United States even if it does not personally need its oil:
Although the United States imports less than 15% of the oil exported from the Persian Gulf, the region will remain of vital strategic importance to U.S. national security due to the global nature of the international oil market. Previous oil shocks and the Gulf War underscore that any blockage of Gulf supplies or a substantial increase in price would immediately affect the international market, driving up energy costs everywhere -- ultimately harming the U.S. economy as well as the economies of our key economic partners in Europe and Japan. Appropriate responses to events such as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait can limit the magnitude of a crisis in the Gulf and its impact on world oil markets. Over the longer term, U.S. dependence on access to these and other foreign oil sources will remain important as our reserves are depleted. That is one of many important reasons why the United States must continue to demonstrate commitment and resolve in the Persian Gulf.
Clinton goes on to admit that the US will always have an interest in foreign oil producing regions, even should we achieve energy independence, suggesting (as do the previous quotes) that the US has interests in controlling the oil market rather than just having access to it ourselves:
Conservation and energy research notwithstanding, the United States will continue to have a vital interest in ensuring access to foreign oil sources. We must continue to be mindful of the need for regional stability and security in key producing areas to ensure our access to, and the free flow of, these resources.
Notice that Clinton acknowledges in the above quote that our interest in maintaining regional stability and security is to, "ensure our access to, and the free flow of, [oil]." Further on in the document, Clinton continues to explain America's policy toward Saddam Hussein and Iraq:
In Southwest Asia [the Middle East], the United States remains focused on deterring threats to regional stability and energy security, countering threats posed by WMD, and protecting the security of our regional partners, particularly from the threats posed by Iraq and Iran... We will maintain an appropriate military presence in Southwest Asia using a combination of ground, air and naval forces. We maintain a continuous military presence in the Gulf to enhance regional stability and support our on-going efforts to bring Iraq into compliance with UN Security Council resolutions. Our forces in the Gulf are backed by our ability to rapidly reinforce the region in time of crisis, which we have demonstrated convincingly... Our policy toward Iraq is comprised of three central elements: containment and economic sanctions, to prevent Saddam from again threatening the stability of the vital Gulf region; relief for the Iraqi people from humanitarian suffering via the UN oil-for-food program; (consider the irony in that last statement in light of the horrible level of human suffering that our sanctions were causing in Iraq. See "Paying the Price for the Gulf War") and support to those Iraqis seeking to replace Saddam's regime with a government that can live at peace with its neighbors and its people. Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 successfully degraded the threat posed by Iraqi WMD in the wake of Baghdad's decision to cease cooperation with UN weapons inspectors... We have consistently maintained that the Iraqi regime can only have sanctions lifted when it has met its obligations to the international community. Saddam's actions over the past decade make clear that his regime will not comply with its obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions designed to rid Iraq of WMD and their delivery systems. Because of that and because the Iraqi people will never be free under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, we actively support those who seek to bring a new democratic government to power in Baghdad. We recognize that this may be a slow and difficult process, but we believe it is the only solution to the problem of Saddam's regime.
Perhaps of most importance from this last quote is Clinton's acknowledgement of the desire to dispose of Saddam Hussein.
Before we move on to George W. Bush, let's further establish the intent of the United States to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein for the purpose of protecting oil interests, a view that was shared by many in Washington, especially by those who would later form the core of the Bush administration.
The Project for the New American Century
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC, pronounced "P-nack") was formed in 1997 by many former George H.W. Bush administration officials and other influential leaders in Washington. PNAC serves as a "think tank" to influence U.S. policy using issue briefs, articles, letters, reports, and so on. Many of these same men later became part of the current Bush Administration. Among the members of PNAC were Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former Chief of Staff and the Vice President's Assistant for National Security Affairs Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and many other Bush administration officials. Needless to say, the political ideology of PNAC created the political ideology of the Bush administration; the Bush administration was essentially made up of PNAC. These men, known as the "neoconservatives", promoted the most aggressive US foreign policy to date. Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby authored the Defense Planning Guide in 1992 that was the foundation of the "Wolfowitz doctrine." The document was leaked to the New York Times, and while there is much information of notable value, we will cite only that which pertains to the Middle East. It is important to know that Paul Wolfowitz would later be considered perhaps the strongest voice in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq:
Middle East and Southwest Asia
In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil. We also seek to deter further aggression in the region, foster regional stability, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways. As demonstrated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it remains fundamentally important to prevent a hegemon or alignment of powers from dominating the region. This pertains especially to the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, we must continue to play a role through enhanced deterrence and improved cooperative security.
The 1992 Defense Planning Guidance was consistent with the foreign policies of Carter, Reagan, Bush and the next president, Clinton: 1) all sought to maintain exclusive control of the Persian Gulf, fending off outside threats (USSR) 2) all sought to maintain internal control of the region, not allowing an alliance of power (Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) and 3) all sought to deter instability although US involvement has always led to greater instability, giving us an ever increasing excuse to maintain a military presence.
The fundamental idea behind the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the Defense Planning Guidance document was to maintain America's position as the sole-superpower in the post-Cold War world. This would later be reflected in PNAC. From the "About us" section of their website:
Established in the spring of 1997, the Project for the New American Century [PNAC] is a nonprofit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.
In their "Statement of Principles," PNAC asserts that the US must maintain:
...a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.
Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests.
The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire.
Many people are unaware that removing Saddam Hussein from power had long been the government's goal. How aggressively to go about it was the focus of debate, not whether or not it should be done. Early in 1998, before his State of the Union address, PNAC wrote a letter to Bill Clinton urging him to take advantage of the opportunity,
to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor...
Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.
...this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.
It is important to note that the reason for disposing of Saddam Hussein was to protect our vital interests: oil. The letter is signed by Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick among others. Although Clinton did not enunciate a strategy to remove Saddam Hussein from power in his State of the Union address that year, he did rouse fear toward Iraq by using blatant lies to fuel the flames of the WMD scare regarding Iraq by saying:
Together, we also must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons -- and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf War. Now Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.
I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot defy the will of the world. (Applause.) And when I say to him: You have used weapons of mass destruction before; we are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again. (Applause.)
Later that year Clinton would bomb Iraq for the third time in his term. Dissatisfied by Clinton's performance, PNAC wrote a follow-up letter - also signed by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Zoellick - to the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority leader requesting that they adopt the proposed policy regarding Saddam Hussein that Clinton apparently had not.
On January 26, we sent a letter to President Clinton expressing our concern that the U.S. policy of "containment" of Saddam Hussein was failing. The result, we argued, would be that the vital interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East would soon be facing a threat as severe as any we had known since the end of the Cold War...
We should establish and maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the Gulf - and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power...
Congress should adopt the measures necessary to avoid this impending defeat of vital U.S. interests.
This letter brings up a very important factor in PNAC's policy that was not addressed in the letter to Clinton, namely their desire to, "establish and maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region... to protect our vital interests in the Gulf." This would be seen in greater detail in a PNAC report published two months before the election of George W. Bush.
Rebuilding America's Defenses
One of PNACs most well-known publications is a report called "Rebuilding America's Defenses" published in September 2000. This report, based on the neoconservative imperial principles already cited, serves as an outline for a substantial transformation of American military in order to maintain America's position as the Sole-superpower in the world. Accomplishing this would require a permanent allocation of US troops in Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. This document acknowledges the fact that the US had for decades sought a greater military presence in the Middle East. The article also points out that the benefits of having a military presence transcends the "conflict" with Saddam Hussein and the current tension with Iran and points out that while those conflicts provided "justification" for military action, the ultimate goal would be to establish a permanent military presence to protect our "enduring American interests in the region", or oil. Lastly, they point out that this transformation is likely to be a long process unless there is, "some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.":
Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century
A Report of The Project for the New American Century
September 2000
[The] Clinton Administration has continued the fiction that the operations of American forces in the Persian Gulf are merely temporary duties. Nearly a decade after the Gulf War, U.S. air, ground and naval forces continue to protect enduring American interests in the region. In addition to rotational naval forces, the Army maintains what amounts to an armored brigade in Kuwait for nine months of every year; the Air Force has two composite air wings in constant "no-fly zone" operations over northern and southern Iraq. And despite increasing worries about the rise of China and instability in Southeast Asia, U.S. forces are found almost exclusively in Northeast Asian bases…
In sum, the 1990s have been a "decade of defense neglect." This leaves the next president of the United States with an enormous challenge: he must increase military spending to preserve American geopolitical leadership, or he must pull back from the security commitments that are the measure of America's position as the world's sole superpower and the final guarantee of security, democratic freedoms and individual political rights. This choice will be among the first to confront the president: new legislation requires the incoming administration to fashion a national security strategy within six months of assuming office, as opposed to waiting a full year, and to complete another quadrennial defense review three months after that. In a larger sense, the new president will choose whether today's "unipolar moment," to use columnist Charles Krauthammer's phrase for America's current geopolitical preeminence, will be extended along with the peace and prosperity that it provides… Thus, facing up to the realities of multiple constabulary missions will require a permanent allocation of U.S. armed forces.
Nor can the problem be solved by simply withdrawing from current constabulary missions or by vowing to avoid them in the future. Indeed, withdrawing from today's ongoing missions would be problematic. Although the no-fly-zone air operations over northern and southern Iraq have continued without pause for almost a decade, they remain an essential element in U.S. strategy and force posture in the Persian Gulf region. Ending these operations would hand Saddam Hussein an important victory, something any American leader would be loath to do…
In the Persian Gulf region, the presence of American forces, along with British and French units, has become a semi-permanent fact of life. Though the immediate mission of those forces is to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, they represent the long-term commitment of the United States and its major allies to a region of vital importance. Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein
Notice that PNAC stated that achieving the amount of military transformation that they sought and establishing the level of military presence in the Middle East required an issue greater than the problems posed by Saddam Hussein. Terrorism would later provide that transcendent issue.
The continuing challenges from Iraq also make it unwise to draw down forces in the Gulf dramatically. Securing the American perimeter today – and tomorrow – will necessitate shifts in U.S. overseas operations…
After eight years of no-fly-zone operations, there is little reason to anticipate that the U.S. air presence in the region should diminish significantly as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. Although Saudi domestic sensibilities demand that the forces based in the Kingdom nominally remain rotational forces, it has become apparent that this is now a semi-permanent mission. From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene. Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.
A point of particular interest here is the degree of importance that PNAC gives to permanent bases in the Middle East. Even if Saddam Hussein were to be replaced with a more agreeable leader in Iraq and even should US-Iranian relation improve, such bases would be essential, "given the longstanding American interests in the region," - oil.
In addition to the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone, the United States now also retains what amounts to a near-permanent land force presence in Kuwait…
With the rationalization of ground-based U.S. air forces in the region, the demand for carrier presence in the region can be relaxed. As recent strikes against Iraq demonstrate, the preferred weapon for punitive raids is the cruise missile, supplemented by stealthy strike aircraft and longer-range Air Force strike aircraft. Carrier aircraft are most useful in sustaining a campaign begun with missiles and stealth strike aircraft, indicating that a surface action group capable of launching several hundred cruise missiles is the most valuable naval presence in the Gulf. With a substantial permanent Army ground presence in Kuwait, the demands for Marine presence in the Gulf could be scaled back as well…
At the same time, the Army's role in post-Cold-War military operations remains the measure of American geopolitical commitment. In the 1991 Gulf War, the limits of Bush Administration policy were revealed by the reluctance to engage in land combat and the limit on ground operations within the Kuwait theater…
In short, the value of land power continues to appeal to a global superpower, whose security interests rest upon maintaining and expanding a world-wide system of alliances as well as on the ability to win wars. While maintaining its combat role, the U.S. Army has acquired new missions in the past decade – most immediately, missions associated with completing the task of creating a Europe "whole and free" and defending American interests in the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
The Air Force presence in the Gulf region is a vital one for U.S. military strategy, and the United States should consider it a de facto permanent presence, even as it seeks ways to lessen Saudi, Kuwaiti and regional concerns about U.S. presence…
In Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia, enduring U.S. security interests argue forcefully for an enduring American military presence…
After the victories of the past century – two world wars, the Cold War and most recently the Gulf War – the United States finds itself as the uniquely powerful leader of a coalition of free and prosperous states that faces no immediate great-power challenge.
The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable and durable. It has, over the past decade, provided the geopolitical framework for widespread economic growth and the spread of American principles of liberty and democracy. Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself…
Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
On September 11, 2001, the neoconservatives got their "catalyzing and catastrophic event." Subsequently, the "War on Terror" has been used as a rallying cry to execute precisely what they had already planned. Saddam Hussein was overthrown, we have set up multiple permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the last few years Iran has been blacklisted and increasingly condemned just as Iraq was previous to its invasion. PNAC prophetically stated, "Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has." Many predict that Israel will strike Iran before the end of the year and the US would without question get involved in the conflict. With the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, we already have Iran surrounded on two sides, with troops stationed on the borders.
Is it possible that after almost a century of military intervention in the Middle East driven by our oil interests in the region that our reason for intervening under George W. Bush would be any different? Especially when his very administration had been calling, for years, for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power because of his threat to our oil interests?
George W. Bush
Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan stated in his book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Because of the aggressiveness of the nature of the Iraq war - the United State's first acknowledged pre-emptive strike - the word "oil" has virtually disappeared from the president's vocabulary as it relates to the Iraq War. It is now only referred to as a "natural resource," a "national interest," "vital interest," "economic interest," etc. Still, even in George W. Bush's own words one can see the perpetuation of the long-established American Middle Eastern foreign policy. In a document published in 2005 called the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" the Bush administration outlined the benefits of victory and the negative consequences of failure in Iraq:
Helping the people of Iraq is the morally right thing to do -- America does not abandon its friends in the face of adversity. Helping the people of Iraq, however, is also in our own national interest.
If we and our Iraqi partners prevail in Iraq, we will have made America:
- by removing Saddam Hussein, a destabilizing force in a vital region, a ruthless dictator who had a history of pursuing and even using weapons of mass destruction, was a state sponsor of terror, had invaded his neighbors, and who was violently opposed to America;
- by depriving terrorists of a safe haven from which they could plan and launch attacks against the United States and American interests;
- by delivering a strategic setback to the terrorists and keeping them on the run;
- by delivering a decisive blow to the ideology that fuels international terrorism, proving that the power of freedom is stronger than a perverse vision of violence, hatred, and oppression.
- by demonstrating to our friends and enemies the reliability of U.S. power, the strength of our commitment to our friends, and the tenacity of our resolve against our enemies;
- by securing a new friend and partner in the fight against terrorism in the heart of the Middle East.
More Certain of its Future ...
- politically, by bolstering democratic reformers -- and the prospects for peaceful, democratic governments -- in a region that for decades has been a source of instability and stagnation;
- economically, by facilitating progressive reform in the region and depriving terrorists control over a hub of the world's economy.
If we and our Iraqi partners fail in Iraq, Iraq will become:
- A safe haven for terrorists as Afghanistan once was, only this time in some of the world's most strategic territory, with vast natural resources to exploit and to use to fund future attacks.
- A country where oppression -- and the brutal imposition of inhumane practices, such as those of the Taliban in Afghanistan -- is pervasive.
- A failed state and source of instability for the entire Middle East, with all the attendant risks and incalculable costs for American security and prosperity.
Furthermore, if we and our Iraqi partners fail in Iraq, the terrorists will have:
- Won a decisive victory over the United States, vindicating their tactics of beheadings, suicide bombings, and ruthless intimidation of civilians, inviting more deadly attacks against Americans and other free people across the globe
- Placed the American people in greater danger by destabilizing a vital region, weakening our friends, and clearing the way for terrorist attacks here at home. The terrorists will be emboldened in their belief that America cannot stand and fight, but will cut and run in the face of adversity.
- Called into question American credibility and commitment in the region and the world. Our friends and foes alike would doubt our staying power, and this would damage our efforts to counter other security threats and to advance other economic and political interests worldwide. (Since 1998, Al Qaida has repeatedly cited Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia, as examples to encourage more attacks against America and our interests overseas.)
- Weakened the growing democratic impulses in the region. Middle East reformers would never again fully trust American assurances of support for democracy and pluralism in the region -- a historic opportunity, central to America's long-term security, forever lost.
...a free and prosperous Iraq is in the economic interest of everybody, including Iraq's neighbors and the greater Middle East. A flourishing Iraq can spur economic activity and reform in one of the world's most vital regions.
Bush was perhaps more direct when he said:
Our efforts to advance freedom in Iraq are driven by our vital interests and our deepest beliefs.
This year the Department of Defense published the National Defense Strategy which confirms that our foreign policy toward the Middle East and the rest of the world has not changed. It speaks of the continued and in fact increased need to ensure "strategic access" to regions of the world where petroleum is produced and reaffirms the US's policy of transforming the military and increasing our presence in those areas. If the sequence of events after 9/11 was not proof enough, this document demonstrates irrefutably that PNAC's plans have become US policy:
Secure U.S. strategic access and retain freedom of action
The United States requires freedom of action in the global commons and strategic access to important regions of the world to meet our national security needs. The well-being of the global economy is contingent on ready access to energy resources. Notwithstanding national efforts to reduce dependence on oil, current trends indicate an increasing reliance on petroleum products from areas of instability in the coming years, not reduced reliance. The United States will continue to foster access to and flow of energy resources vital to the world economy...
We will continue to transform overseas U.S. military presence through global defense posture realignment, leveraging a more agile continental U.S. (CONUS)-based expeditionary total force and further developing a more relevant and flexible forward network of capabilities and arrangements with allies and partners to ensure strategic access.
The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars were nothing more than an opportunity to dispose of unwanted leaders and set up a strategic military presence in the Middle East to perpetuate US control over the world's largest region of petroleum production. American foreign policy in the Middle East is the same today as it has been for decades.
Our analysis of the Iraq War would be incomplete without looking forward to Iran. It is appalling and inexcusable that the American public has succumbed to the exact kind of propaganda regarding Iran that it did regarding Iraq 6 years ago. President Ahmadinejad is viewed by most Americans as an "evil dictator" who threatens world peace and is actively pursuing the capability to produce nuclear warheads to attack Israel and the West. For Americans, most world issues have simply been reduced to a "we're good, they're bad," attitude.
Tensions between the West and Iran climaxed in the mid 1900's when the democratically elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq, nationalized the country's oil production in 1951 (To nationalize a resource is to bring it under the ownership or control of that nation). In consequence, British investors lost their oil concessions that they had won after World War II. Under the guise of protecting Iran from monarchial takeover and communistic threat, the United States secured the West's oil interests in Iran through a secretly executed military coup as can be seen in the Library of Congress Country Studies report on Iran:
The administration of President Harry S Truman initially had been sympathetic to Iran's nationalist aspirations. Under the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, the United States came to accept the view of the British government that no reasonable compromise with Mossadeq was possible and that, by working with the Tudeh, Mossadeq was making probable a communist-inspired takeover. Mossadeq's intransigence and inclination to accept Tudeh support, the Cold War atmosphere, and the fear of Soviet influence in Iran also shaped United States thinking. In June 1953, the Eisenhower administration approved a British proposal for a joint Anglo-American operation, code-named Operation Ajax, to overthrow Mossadeq. Kermit Roosevelt of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) traveled secretly to Iran to coordinate plans with the shah and the Iranian military, which was led by General Fazlollah Zahedi.
In accord with the plan, on August 13 the shah appointed Zahedi prime minister to replace Mossadeq. Mossadeq refused to step down and arrested the shah's emissary. This triggered the second stage of Operation Ajax, which called for a military coup. The plan initially seemed to have failed, the shah fled the country, and Zahedi went into hiding. After four days of rioting, however, the tide turned. On August 19, pro-shah army units and street crowds defeated Mossadeq's forces. The shah returned to the country. Mossadeq was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for trying to overthrow the monarchy, but he was subsequently allowed to remain under house arrest in his village outside Tehran until his death in 1967. His minister of foreign affairs, Hosain Fatemi, was sentenced to death and executed. Hundreds of National Front leaders, Tudeh Party officers, and political activists were arrested; several Tudeh army officers were also sentenced to death.
US and Israeli intelligence subsequently helped set up the Iranian intelligence organization SAVAK which was used to subdue opposition to the dictatorship of the Shah using torture and executions of opposing citizens and Iran suffered under US-backed dictatorial rule until 1979. It can be seen that for the United States, protecting economic interests trumps respect for democracy, freedom, the sovereignty of other nations, and human life. Indeed, the United States has been involved in the overthrow of dozens of governments since WWII for generally the same reason they overthrew Mossadeq's government in Iran - disposing of leaders who support nationalizing resources so that we might have access to those resources ourselves. Literally millions of innocent people have died in the process and countless others left to suffer the consequences of immoral governments and impoverished lifestyles. Considering the reality of the history of US involvement in Iran, it is no wonder that many have negative feelings toward the US and Israel. It would be analogous to China overthrowing our government here in America that we had elected and then setting up a dictatorship to ensure their access to our most abundant resources. Indeed, Iran not only has every right to dislike the United States but to defend itself militarily against us.
Today general American sentiment toward Iran is eerily resemblant of American sentiment toward Iraq previous to the '03 invasion, and for almost exactly the same reasons. Politicians and the media continue to engage in an outpouring of war propaganda claiming that the government of Iran is hostile, supporting terrorism and actively pursuing nuclear weapons. The phrase "wipe Israel off the map" has been falsely attributed to the president of Iran to paint the image of an angry militaristic leader who is often compared to Hitler by many political commentators on various news stations. Just as the WMD scare however, their is little or no evidence for any of America's accusations regarding Iran. We have been fooled as a nation once again by the very same people who deceived us less than a decade ago and we will surely be held accountable for our disastrous and violent negligence.
Also akin to the Iraq conflict, George W. Bush has used protecting our vital interests in the Persian Gulf as a talking point against Iran. In his remarks to Iran in the State of the Union Address in January of this year he said:
Our message to the leaders of Iran is... clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf. (Applause.)
Just as the overthrow of Mossadeq had more to do with the nationalization of oil than it did with the threat of communism, is it hard to believe that the current war propaganda directed toward Ahmadinejad has more to do with protecting oil than it does with nuclear weapons and fighting terrorism?
It can sometimes be difficult to look truth in the face, especially when that truth seems to contradict everything you have been trained to believe by the government, the media, our education system etc. However difficult though, we must look at the facts and understand them as best we can if we are ever to effect real change. The consequences of not coming to an understanding of the truth are too grave. Recall for a moment the shock, the confusion, the fear, and sadness that was experienced by our country on 9/11 and then consider the death and destruction that has taken place in the Middle East in response. More innocent civilians died in the initial bombings in Afghanistan than died on September 11 - entire villages were eliminated. What is it all for? Who is really paying the price? Even if our foreign policy really were about terrorism, would we be justified? Would it be worth overthrowing governments, destroying communities, and shattering countless lives, innocent lives? Then consider the truth - that it is all based on oil, economic control, and world power.


Ally said...
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Eric said...

Ally, I'm sure you meant "presidents" not "prophets." There are a lot of people who believe that Ronald Reagan really was a good guy but he was basically controlled by those who are really controlling things in our government. He may have tried to do as much good as he was able to given the circumstancs that he was in. In any case there were a lot of bad things done during his presidency and we need to root out the secret combinations that manipulate things.