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This war came from a think tank

by Tricky Dick Monday, Mar. 10, 2003 at 8:55 PM

As far back as 1998, ultra right US think tanks had developed and published plans for an era of US world domination, sidelining the UN and attacking Iraq

From the Sidney Morning Herald (Australia)

A think tank war: Why old Europe says no

By Margo Kingston

March 7 2003

Reader Alun Breward writes: "I found this article on

the website of German news magazine Der Spiegel this

week. I thought it was one of the best pieces of

journalism on the Iraq conflict I have read and so I

translated it." Thanks Alun! Here we go.


This war came from a think tank

by Jochen Boelsche, spiegel

It was in no way a conspiracy. As far back as 1998,

ultra right US think tanks had developed and published

plans for an era of US world domination, sidelining

the UN and attacking Iraq. These people were not taken

seriously. But now they are calling the tune.

German commentators and correspondents have been

confused. Washington has tossed around so many types

of reasons for war on Baghdad "that it could make the

rest of the world dizzy", said the South German Times.

And the Nuremburg News reported on public statements

last week by Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer to

an inner circle in the US that war can only be avoided

if Saddam not only disarms, but also leaves office.

Regime change is a condition that is in none of the

barely remembered 18 UN resolutions. The Nuremburg

News asked in astonishment whether Fleischer had made

the biggest Freudian slip of his career or whether he

spoke with the President's authority.

It's not about Saddam's weapons

So it goes. Across the world critics of President Bush

are convinced that a second Gulf War is actually about

replacing Saddam, whether the dictator is involved

with WMD or not. "It's not about his WMD," writes the

German born Israeli peace campaigner, Uri Avnery, "its

purely a war about world domination, in business,

politics, defence and culture".

There are real models for this. They were already

under development by far right Think Tanks in the

1990s, organisations in which cold-war warriors from

the inner circle of the secret services, from

evangelical churches, from weapons corporations and

oil companies forged shocking plans for a new world


In the plans of these hawks a doctrine of "might is

right" would operate, and the mightiest of course

would be the last superpower, America.

Visions of world power on the Web

To this end the USA would need to use all means -

diplomatic, economic and military, even wars of

aggression - to have long term control of the

resources of the planet and the ability to keep any

possible rival weak.

These 1990's schemes of the Think Tanks, from

sidelining the UN to a series of wars to establish

dominance - were in no way secret. Nearly all these

scenarios have been published; some are accessible on

the Web.

For a long time these schemes were shrugged off as

fantasy produced by intellectual mavericks -

arch-conservative relics of the Reagan era, the

coldest of cold-war warriors, hibernating in

backwaters of academia and lobby groups.

At the White House an internationalist spirit was in

the air. There was talk of partnerships for universal

human rights, of multi-lateralism in relations with

allies. Treaties on climate-change, weapons control,

on landmines and international justice were on the


Saddam's fall was planned in 1998

In this liberal climate there came, nearly unnoticed,

a 1997 proposal of the Project for the New American

Century (PNAC) that forcefully mapped out "America's

global leadership". On 28 Jan 1998 the PNAC project

team wrote to President Clinton demanding a radical

change in dealings with the UN and the end of Saddam.

While it was not clear whether Saddam was developing

WMD, he was, they said, a threat to the US, Israel,

the Arab States and "a meaningful part of the world's

oil reserves". They put their case as follows:

"In the short term this means being ready to lead

military action, without regard for diplomacy. In the

long term it means disarming Saddam and his regime. We

believe that the US has the right under existing

Security Council resolutions to take the necessary

steps, including war, to secure our vital interests in

the Gulf. In no circumstances should America's

politics be crippled by the misguided insistence of

the Security Council on unanimity."


Blueprint for an offensive

This letter might have remained yellowing in the White

House archives if it did not read like a blue-print

for a long-desired war, and still might have been

forgotten if ten PNAC members had not signed it. These

signatories are today all part of the Bush

Administration. They are Dick Cheney - Vice President,

Lewis Libby - Cheney's Chief of Staff, Donald Rumsfeld

- Defence Minister, Paul Wolfowitz - Rumsfeld's

deputy, Peter Rodman - in charge of 'Matters of Global

Security', John Bolton - State Secretary for Arms

Control, Richard Armitage - Deputy Foreign Minister,

Richard Perle - former Deputy Defence Minister under

Reagan, now head of the Defense Policy Board, William

Kristol - head of the PNAC and adviser to Bush, known

as the brains of the President, Zalmay Khalilzad -

fresh from being special ambassador and kingmaker in

Afghanistan, now Bush's special ambassador to the

Iraqi opposition.

But even before that - over ten years ago - two

hardliners from this group had developed a defence

proposal that created a global scandal when it was

leaked to the US press. The suggestion that was

revealed in 1992 in The New York Times was developed

by two men who today are Cabinet members - Wolfowitz

and Libby. It essentially argued that the doctrine of

deterrence used in the Cold War should be replaced by

a new global strategy.

Its goal was the enduring preservation of the

superpower status of the US - over Europe, Russia and

China. Various means were proposed to deter potential

rivals from questioning America's leadership or

playing a larger regional or global role. The paper

caused major concerns in the capitals of Europe and


But the critical thing, according to the

Wolfowitz-Libby paper, was complete American dominance

of Eurasia. Any nation there that threatened the USA

by acquiring WMD should face pre-emptive attack, they

said. Traditional alliances should be replaced by

ad-hoc coalitions.

This 1992 masterplan then formed the basis of a PNAC

paper that was concluded in September 2000, just

months before the start of the Bush Administration.

That September 2000 paper (Rebuilding America's

Defences) was developed by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz

and Libby, and is devoted to matters of "maintaining

US pre-eminence, thwarting rival powers and shaping

the global security system according to US interests".


The cavalry on the new frontier

Amongst other things, this paper said, the USA must

re-arm and build a missile shield in order to put

itself in a position to fight numerous wars

simultaneously and chart its own course. Whatever

happened, the Gulf would have to be in US control:

"The US has sought for years to play an ongoing role

in the security architecture of the Gulf. The

unresolved conflict with Iraq provides a clear basis

for our presence, but quite independent of the issue

of the Iraqi regime, a substantial US presence in the

Gulf is needed."

The paper describes these US forces stationed overseas

in the raw language of the Wild West, calling them

"the Cavalry on the New American Frontier". Even peace

efforts, the paper continues, should have the stamp of

the USA rather than the UN.

Gun-at-the-head diplomacy

Scarcely had President Bush (jnr) won his

controversial election victory and replaced Clinton

than he brought the hardliners from the PNAC into his

administration. The old campaigner Richard Perle (who

once told the Hamburg Times about 'gun-at-the-head

diplomacy') found himself in the key role at the

Defense Policy Board. This board operates in close

cooperation with Pentagon boss Rumsfeld.

At a breath-taking pace the new power-bloc began

implementing the PNAC strategy. Bush ditched

international treaty after international treaty,

shunned the UN and began treating allies as inferiors.

After the attacks of 11 September, as fear ruled the

US and anthrax letters circulated, the Bush cabinet

clearly took the view that the time was ripe to dust

off the PNAC plans for Iraq.

Just six days after 11 September, Bush signed an order

to prepare for war against the terror network and the

Taliban. Another order went to the military, that was

secret initially, instructing them to develop

scenarios for a war in Iraq.

A son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch

Of course the claims of Iraqi control of the 11

September hijackers never were proven, just like the

assumption that Saddam was involved with the anthrax

letters (they proved to be from sources in the US

Military). But regardless, Richard Perle claimed in a

TV interview that "there can be no victory in the war

on terror if Saddam remains in power".

The dictator, demanded Perle, must be deposed by the

US as a matter of priority "because he symbolises

contempt for all Western values". But Saddam had

always been that way, even when he gained power in

Iraq with US backing.

At that time a Secret Service officer from the US

embassy in Baghdad reported to CIA Headquarters: "I

know Saddam is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of

a bitch". And after the US had supported the dictator

in his war with Iran, the retired CIA Director Robert

Gates says he had no illusions about Saddam. The

dictator, says Gates "was never a reformer, never a

democrat, just a common criminal".

But the PNAC paper does not make clear why Washington

now wants to declare war, even without UN support, on

its erstwhile partner.

A shining example of freedom

There is a lot of evidence that Washington wants to

remove the Iraqi regime in order to bring the whole

Middle East more fully under its economic sphere of

influence. Bush puts it somewhat differently - after a

liberation that is necessitated by breaches of

international law, Iraq "will serve as a dramatic and

shining exampled of freedom to other nations of the


Experts like Udo Steinbach, Director of the

German-Orient Institute in Hamburg, have doubts about

Bush's bona fides. Steinbach describes the President's

announcement last week of a drive to democratise Iraq

as "a calculated distortion aimed at justifying war".

There is nothing currently to indicate that Bush truly

is pursuing democratisation in the region.

"Particularly in Iraq," says Steinbach, "I cannot

convince myself that after the fall of Saddam

something democratic could take shape."

Control the flow of oil, control your rivals

This so called pre-emptive war that the PNAC

ideologues have longed for against Iraq also serves,

in the judgement of Uri Avnery, to take the battle to

Europe and Japan. It brings US dominance of Eurasia


Avnery notes:

"American occupation of Iraq would secure US control

not only of the extensive oil reserves of Iraq, but

also the oil of the Caspian Sea and the Gulf States.

With control of the supply of oil the US can stall the

economies of Germany, France and Japan at will, just

by manipulating the oil price. A lower price would

damage Russia, a higher one would shaft Germany and

Japan. That's why preventing this war is essential to

Europe's interests, apart from Europeans' deep desire

for peace."

"Washington has never been shy about its desire to

tame Europe," argues Avnery. In order to implement his

plans for world dominance, says Avnery, "Bush is

prepared to spill immense quantities of blood, so long

as it's not American blood".

The world will toe the American line

The arrogance of the hawks in the US administration,

and their plan to have the world toe their line while

they decide on war or peace, shocks experts like the

international law expert Hartmut Schiedermair from

Cologne. The American "crusading zeal" that can make

such statements he says is "highly disturbing".

Similarly Harald Mueller - a leading peace researcher

- has long criticised the German Government for

"assiduously overlooking and tacitly endorsing" the

dramatic shift in US foreign policy of 2001. He says

the agenda of the Bush administration is unmistakable:

"America will do as it pleases. It will obey

international law if it suits, and break that law or

ignore it if necessary ... The USA wants total freedom

for itself, to be the aristocrat of world politics."

Infatuated with war

Even senior politicians in countries backing a second

Gulf War are appalled by the radicals in the White


Beginning last year, responding to the PNAC study,

long-serving Labour MP Tam Dalyell raged against it in

the House of Commons:

"This is rubbish from right wing think tanks where

bird-brained war-mongers huddle together - people who

have never experienced the horror of war, but are

infatuated with the idea of it."

Even his own leader got a broad-side: "I am appalled

that a Labour PM would hop into bed with such a troop

of moral pygmies."

Across the Atlantic in mid February, Democrat Senator

Robert Byrd (at 86 years of age the so-called "Father

of the Senate") spoke out. The longest serving member

of that Chamber warned the pre-emptive war that the

Right were advocating was a "distortion of

long-standing concepts of the right of self-defence"

and "a blow against international law". Bush's

politics, he said "could well be a turning point in

world history" and "lay the foundation for

anti-Americanism" across much of the world. (Byrd's

speech is at A lonely voice in a US Senate silent on


Holding the rest of the world in contempt

One person who is absolutely unequivocal about the

problem of anti-Americanism is former President Jimmy

Carter. He judges the PNAC agenda in the same way. At

first, argues Carter, Bush responded to the challenge

of September 11 in an effective and intelligent way,

"but in the meantime a group of conservatives worked

to get approval for their long held ambitions under

the mantle of 'the war on terror'".

The restrictions on civil rights in the US and at

Guantanamo, cancellation of international accords,

"contempt for the rest of the world", and finally an

attack on Iraq "although there is no threat to the US

from Baghdad" - all these things will have devastating

consequences, according to Carter.

"This entire unilateralism", warns the ex-President,

"will increasingly isolate the US from those nations

that we need in order to do battle with terrorism".

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