The meat of war

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For those of you who don’t get the New York Times, make sure you check out columnist Maureen Dowd today on the choice of Henry Kissinger to head the “independent” investigation of 9/11. “Who better to investigate an unwarranted attack on America than the man who used to instigate America’s unwarranted attacks? (“He’s Ba-a-a-ck!” To read Dowd click here)

During his time as national security advisor to President Nixon, Kissinger, dubbed in the November 28 Times front page story that “reported” the appointment, “a towering intellect in foreign policy,” managed to turn himself into his own, one-man secret intelligence agency, a “doctor” of deception, and blurred every possible line of intelligence gathering, even wiretapping his own staff. If you want to get the full history in all its horrifying detail, don’t read the Isaacson bio Dowd recommends, but Seymour Hersh’s old but devastating bio The Price of Power.

Today’s Times has a good front page piece of reporting (with a nice accompanying map inside), “U.S. is preparing base in Gulf state to run Iraq war” by Michael R. Gordon on the unprecedented US war games about to be run in the area:


“During the war exercise, General Franks will command his forces from his new Qatar headquarters while Vice Admiral Keating and Lt. Gen. Earl B. Hailston, the senior Marine commander in the region, will be at their command centers in Bahrain. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top Army commander in the region and the officer who would be in charge of American land forces in the event of a war, will be at his command center in Kuwait. The Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, will be at his command center at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh. As in a war, the senior commanders will talk to each other using teleconferences and sophisticated communications equipment….”

(To read the Gordon piece click here)

What Gordon doesn’t add about the Qatar base is mentioned in a shorter piece for today’s Observer by Ed Vuilliamy ” It is the first time a major military HQ has been based outside the US.” (“US sets up Iraq battle HQ in Gulf,” To read Vulliamy click here): Imagine then this war to come in which each branch of the military has its own prepositioned major base, each in a different state in the Gulf: The Army command in Kuwait; the Navy and Marines in Bahrain, the Air Force at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, and Central Command in Qatar. Of course, none of this is faintly imperial.

Much planning has obviously gone into the war that so many in the administration are urging into being and intense planning is now ongoing on about the “regime” (or maybe once regimes have been “changed” there’s even a politer term for what follows), and the Iraq that will come after. Sandy Tolan of the journalism school of UC Berkeley has written a fine description of the post-Saddam Middle Eastern world for today’s LA Times Sunday opinion page, as it has existed for years in the dreams of the hard-liners who once wrote policy papers for Israel’s Netanyahu and now are scattered throughout the upper reaches of our… well, let’s not say “regime,” lest the word “change” come to mind. All that remains in the sandwich of planning is, of course, the meat of war. Tom

Beyond Regime Change
The administration doesn’t simply want to oust Saddam Hussein. It wants to redraw the Mideast map.
By Sandy Tolan, December 1, 2002, The Los Angeles Times

BERKELEY — If you want to know what the administration has in mind for Iraq, here’s a hint: It has less to do with weapons of mass destruction than with implementing an ambitious U.S. vision to redraw the map of the Middle East.

The new map would be drawn with an eye to two main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and ensuring Israel’s continued regional military superiority. The plan is, in its way, as ambitious as the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between the empires of Britain and France, which carved up the region at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The neo-imperial vision, which can be ascertained from the writings of key administration figures and their co-visionaries in influential conservative think tanks, includes not only regime change in Iraq but control of Iraqi oil, a possible end to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and newly compliant governments in Syria and Iran — either by force or internal rebellion. 

To read more of this Los Angeles Times article, click here.