Stratcom: One-stop Shopping for Bush War Plans
by Frances Mendenhall
fmendenh (nospam) creighton.edu (unverified!)
Fifty-seven percent of Americans now say the war on Iraq([search]) was a mistake (CNN, USA Today, Gallup Poll 5/3/05). Nonetheless, President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are determined to start another war. Veteran, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who had spoken extensively with administration insiders, detailed the plan in January (see Hersh, Jan 24 &31, The New Yorker). On May 6, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 398 in a 376-3 vote, calling on the U.S. government "to use all appropriate means to deter, dissuade, and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." If a similar resolution passes the Senate, it will give President Bush or any future administration the ability to launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities whenever this is deemed necessary.
The administration will avoid such mistakes as seeking UN approval. They will use Congressional support if they have it, but if they lack it, they will proceed regardless. They will provoke Iran until it makes defensive statements that support their claims of Iranian plans for nuclear weapons. They will ignore or silence any military critics who question whether their goals are feasible, or they will simply act with such speed that discussion cannot happen. It is Stratcom that makes this possible.
Stratcom now encompasses and directs not just its former mission of targeting nuclear weapons, but everything related to global war. It has ready at all times huge menus of constantly updated, pre-approved war plans, needing only the approval of Bush or Rumsfeld. Headed not by an Air Force general but by a Marine, General James Cartwright, Stratcom, could, if the circumstances require strategic (i.e. global) planning, supersede the traditional services as well as the five powerful regional commands.
Its recent assignment, leading the effort against WMDs (only those of other nations, not ours), is just another example decision-making centralized into one place, in a part of the country the Administration surely hopes will be less likely to raise objections to this horrific development.
In October, 2002, Stratcom merged with the US Space Command. In January, 2003, Rumsfeld assigned Stratcom lead roles in this daunting list: global strike, information operations, strategic missile defense, and global C4ISR. Gl obal C4ISR, is itself another list, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
Gen. Cartwright wants to speed up decision-making during crises. The Administration is fond of crises. They like them so much they even make up such crises as the need to immediately attack Iraq lest the smoking gun turn into a mushroom cloud. When their own experts question their proclamations, as Ambassador Joseph Wilson questioned the story about Niger supplying yellow-cake uranium to Iraq, they get punished, but no one who lied to Congress about Iraqs WMDs has been punished.
The space and global strike function are Gen. Cartwrights priorities. In order to concentrate on them, Cartwright plans to split C4 from ISR, moving intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elsewhere. No problem, the White House has rewritten the rules to manage intelligence for itself anyway, reducing the CIA to mere facilitators of administration policy, and enabling Rumsfeld to run operations off the books free from legal restrictions imposed on the CIA.
Bush and Rumsfeld desire prompt global strike, for full-spectrum dominance. This is intended to be a permanent condition. That is why "full-spectrum dominance" is the key term in "Joint Vision 2020. Attacking Iran is only the beginning. According to Hersh, The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.
Bush ignores not only Americans and people around the world who question that the US should fight preemptive wars, but he also ignores military advice if it questions whether the US can achieve its objectives militarily. With General Cartwright, he wont have to listen to all the dissenting voices. As Elaine M. Grossman noted, writing for Inside the Pentagon, October 28, 2004, But at Stratcom, Cartwright may well emerge as the go-to guy when a president wants to take immediate action.
The President has the authority to determine that a crisis is of a global, strategic nature, and therefore that Stratcom alone, without input from the regional commanders or traditional services, should advise him. There is nothing that would stop him from doing this if he thought the regional command officer did not agree with his analysis.
The Administration cant justify the current war on Iraq. They do not intend even to acknowledge the existence of other points of view on the next war, which they are relentlessly putting together. Stratcom, designed for one-stop shopping, makes their nightmarish task easier.