Let’s see, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that those 1,700 US military types heading for the Philippines to fight a savage little war are actually going to be 3,000 strong. And then the President announced that he was shipping a military contingent of 150 off to Colombia to hunt for those downed “civilian employees” in rebel hands. All in all, it looks like a good week for war and that’s without even counting Iraq.
In a full page editorial today, “Power and Leadership: The Real Meaning of Iraq,” the New York Times manages to call for more debate on Iraq and plunk for war (“…those of us who believe this is a war worth waging…”) at one and the same moment. And so that paper falls in line with much of the rest of the elite “liberal” media on the East Coast. New Yorker editor David Remnick brought that magazine into the corral weeks ago. The Washington Post editorial and op-ed page has been beating the drums for war for months. Charlie Rose and Ted Koppel have, at least when I’ve looked, seemed comfortably on the team.
The Times even congratulates the Bush administration for showing “itself willing to give the United Nations both time and space to make up its mind.” This would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic — and serious. After all, the President has made it clear that the UN has the right to make up its mind, but unless it does so in a way satisfactory to him, its mind will be of no matter. To read the Times editorial click here
And below is a scenario of the war the Times et. al. may be falling into line for: Eric Margolis, the usually well-informed columnist for the Toronto Sun, reports on a devastating 10-15 day conflict against an already militarily crippled enemy, which could leave not only that military but Iraqi society “blinded, deaf, and dumb.” And here’s a fascinating twist: He suggests that new American microwave weaponry could knock out not only Iraqi communications, but foreign media communications as well, leaving Iraq in every sense in the dark and the world reliant only on those reportorial “embeds” in advancing American units.
But why not delay the war, while mustering that coalition of the willing? Well, the Los Angeles Times informs us today (“Delaying War Could Winnow the Willing”), increasingly the administration fears that, if it doesn’t hurry, its volunteer governments, all of which lack the support of their people, may begin to collapse like… well, should we even say it, so many dominoes. (“But other officials, speaking less publicly, cited another practical reason for their sense of urgency: They are increasingly concerned that the tenuous coalition the administration has assembled in support of war may crumble if a military campaign is postponed.”)
To read the LA Times piece click here
And let’s keep in mind that, unlike the rest of us, key figures in this administration have been waiting a long, long time to remake the Middle East. Delay has a different meaning to them. In a piece written for the Counterpunch website, Jason Leopold, reminds us of a letter to President Clinton in 1998, signed by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz among others, in which the neocon signees pump vigorously for full-fledged regime change in Iraq:
“We urge you to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. 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.” To read the 1998 letter click here
In the meantime, via the Washington Post, the administration seems to have published it’s last, ultimate, completed, not to be tampered with plan, a “now finalized blueprint,” until this next leaked piece proves this to be but the umpteenth test balloon for an occupied Iraq. Key passages include:
“The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be named American civilian who would direct the reconstruction of the country and the creation of a ‘representative’ Iraqi government, according to a now-finalized blueprint
“Iraqi military forces would be gathered in prisoner-of-war camps, with opposition members now receiving U.S. training at an air base in Hungary serving as part of the guard force. The Iraqi troops would be vetted by U.S. forces, and those who were cleared, beginning with those who ‘stood down or switched sides’ during a U.S. assault, would receive U.S. training to serve in what one official called a ‘post-stabilization’ force.
“A commission would write a new constitution, although officials emphasized that they would not expect to ‘democratize’ Iraq along the lines of the U.S. governing system. Instead, they speak of a ‘representative Iraqi government.'”
In other words, we run the country; no one messes with us; and we appoint “representative” Iraqis to aid us — the struggle to determine who is representative undoubtedly being between the Pentagon and the State Department. (If one had to reach for an analogy, this sort of puppet government under foreign administration might prove closer to the Japanese occupation of China than the American occupation of Japan.) We also retool Saddam’s army; offer the Kurds freedom in the North by negotiating the grounds on which Turkish troops will occupy parts of their lands; and don’t make too much of the money or dangers or problems involved in all this, since representative Americans, when asked in polls, generally are willing to invest about minus three dollars in postwar Iraq, and representative Washington officials are still talking about the Iraqis — I assume, the representative ones — engaging in a pay-as-you-go occupation scheme funded by their own oil resources, unless, of course, Saddam torches the wellheads before we reach them.
I’m including below a fine piece by Joseph Cirincione that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle Insight section today on what the occupation of Iraq is actually likely to mean. On the odder sides of postwar planning, William Beeman, Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University, reports for Pacific News Service that the same wild and wacky administration crew has spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to democratize Iraq by turning the country over to the Hashemite ruling family of Jordan.
To read Beeman click here Tom
A ring of steel around Saddam
By Eric Margolis, Contributing Foreign Editor
The Toronto Sun
February 23, 2003
Unless Saddam Hussein is overthrown by a coup, U.S. President George Bush appears determined to launch an unprovoked invasion of Iraq by early or mid-March in spite of growing opposition at home and a storm of protests around the world.
ORDER OF BATTLE
The U.S. and Britain have assembled more than 200,000 men, 120,000 of them ground troops, over 800 warplanes and a powerful fleet, with four or five strike carriers, in the Gulf.
U.S. ground forces concentrated in Kuwait include the heavy 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division, an airborne infantry battalion, special operations units, the famed 101st Air Assault Division, elements of the heavy 1st Armored and 1st Mech Divisions from Europe and two brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division. In all, five division equivalents. More U.S.-based units are slated to follow.
To read more Margolis click here
Reshaping the Middle East
The new American colonialism
By Joseph Cirincione
The San Francisco Chronicle
February 23, 2003
Begrudgingly, senior administration officials are beginning to discuss prospects for post-war Iraq. While publicly they are as cheery about Iraq without Hussein as they are dire about the risks of leaving him in power, privately, they harbor grave doubts. As one senior official told a New York Times reporter, “We still do not know how U.S. forces will be received. Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won’t know until we get there.”
We should not be surprised at the uncertainty, for what they’re planning is unprecedented in U.S. history. This will not just be our first pre-emptive war,
but it will be followed by a massive, indefinite occupation. President Bush intends to send more than 200,000 American men and women to invade and occupy a large, complex nation of 24 million people half a world away.
Joseph Cirincione, author of “Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction,” is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.