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Sunday, Jun. 01, 2008 at 12:58 AM
Arnaud de Borchgrave on McClellan, Neocons & Clean Break
Arnaud de Borchgrave on McClellan, Neocons & Clean Break
Subject: Commentary: Tower of Babble Rabble
Date: Friday, May 30, 2008
Commentary: Tower of Babble Rabble
By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large
WASHINGTON , May 30 (UPI) -- Former White House Press secretary Scott McClellan is excoriated for stating the obvious. The Iraq War, he writes in his memoirs titled "What Happened in the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign." This, in turn, was designed to "manipulate public opinion" in such a way as to downplay "the major reason for going to war." Disinformation was an integral part of the process.
How else does one explain that at one point 60 percent of Americans believed the palpably fraudulent nonsense that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was behind Sept. 11? A gullible, manipulated public also became convinced that Iraq was a mortal danger to the United States at a time when two no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq , at a cost of billion a year, kept Saddam confined to his dirty little sandbox. None of his neighbors was afraid of him. Nor were our European allies. But the neocons kept beating the drums of war on U.S. television networks with the fiction we were locked in an existential struggle with Iraq .
As for the invasion of Iraq being the biggest strategic blunder in U.S. history, as McClellan belatedly states, the same judgment was rendered years ago by many prominent foreign policy experts, both Republican and Democrat, namely John Whitehead, a Republican and former deputy secretary of state; Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Carter; Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Presidents Ford and Bush 41; and even former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had been hoodwinked by fatally flawed intelligence provided by a pseudo Iraqi intelligence operative who would only talk to Germans.
Codenamed "Curveball," he was distrusted by German interrogators when he told them about Saddam's WMD capabilities. When the intelligence was passed on to U.S. counterparts, they shared German skepticism. But it was handed to Powell by the CIA director, who had not read the addendum on Curveball's dubious credentials. Thus, what was described as "incontrovertible evidence" became the piece de resistance in Powell's infamous U.N. speech of Feb. 5, 2003, six weeks before the invasion.
This reporter first heard about the inevitability of war a year before the invasion at a party given by Dick Cheney -- "the magic man," writes McClellan -- and his wife, Lynne, to celebrate the publication of Chief of Staff Scooter Libby's paperback edition of his book "The Apprentice."
The capital's top neocons were on hand and convinced dubious listeners war with Iraq was now inevitable. They were persuasive when they corrected me for saying, "If there is a war … " The decision had been made for a shock-and-awe blitz against Saddam's Republican Guard divisions, they said. "What about the U.N.?" I asked. That, I was told, was the obligatory charade we had to go through for world public opinion.
So McClellan is correct when he writes senior administration officials began a campaign in 2002 to "aggressively sell the war," even as he and other officials insisted all options were on the table. Of course, it was a war of choice, not of necessity, as he writes. The Bush administration's main motive for invading Iraq was to introduce "coercive democracy."
This motive originated in a controversial 1996 White Paper titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which referred to Israel . It advised incoming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to repeal the Oslo agreements for a Palestinian solution, keep Gaza and the West Bank under Israeli control, and establish democracy in Iraq by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Democracy in Iraq , said "Clean Break," would be followed by similar regime changes in Syria and Iran . Thus, Israel could begin to relax and look forward to real security for the indefinite future.
Among its principal authors were neocon theoreticians Richard Perle, soon to be chairman of the Defense Policy Board; Douglas Feith, who became undersecretary of defense for policy and was also in charge of post-Iraq invasion planning; ad David Wurmser, who later joined Feith's Pentagon team before his elevation to deputy assistant to Dick Cheney for national security -- all superhawks on Iran as well.
Feith also had a big bone to pick with President Bush. His recently published memoir -- "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" -- charges Bush with confusing and conflicting signals following the embarrassment of not finding any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush then focused "almost exclusively on the larger aim of promoting democracy." This new pitch, says Feith in a Wall Street Journal op-ed adaptation of his book, "compounded the damage to the president's credibility, (as he was seen) distancing himself from the case he had made for removing (Saddam) from power."
Feith points out that, beginning with his first major Iraq speech before the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, Bush delivered nine major Iraq talks with 14 paragraphs per speech on Saddam's record as an enemy, aggressor, tyrant and imminent danger, and only three paragraphs on promoting Iraqi democracy. But from September 2003 to September 2004, Feith says Bush gave 15 major speeches with an average of 11 paragraphs per talk on democracy.
"The stunning change," Feith added, "appeared to confirm his critics' argument that the security rationale for the war was at best an error, and at worst a lie."
Scott McClellan's former White House colleagues feigned sadness rather than anger on the tube and asked why he didn't speak up when he was still on the government payroll. This lament studiously ignored the fact that McClellan was not a policymaker and was in no position to question what he was told to say at the daily White House press briefing. His job was to take orders, not question them.
COMMENTARY: A move to curb capitalism?
Arnaud de Borchgrave
Friday, May 30, 2008
Predatory lending in the housing market with two sets of books coupled with oil speculators who buy black gold by the hundreds of thousands of barrels a day (minimum buy on the Rotterdam spot market is 1,000 barrels) and sit on it until they've made a pile, and many other sleights of hand, are forcing America's airlines, once the envy of the world, to look at Chapters 7, 11 or 12 of bankruptcy laws.
Casualties are mounting as airlines face fuel bills billion larger than last year. Airlines reckon they may lose billion this year, thrice the deficit recorded in 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In less than a month, Australia 's Qantas twice announced across-the-board fare increases, each time plus 4 percent, to pay for fuel. American Airlines plans to reduce its U.S. flight capacity more than 10 percent in the fourth quarter. Passengers are already being charged from to per bag and thousands of airline personnel are already laid off.
Republican oil billionaire Boone Pickens sees oil continuing its upward climb to 0. Other handicappers put the ceiling at 0, and double that again if hostilities break out between the U.S. and Iran .
Outlandish executive compensation packages, a housing bubble with some 57 varieties of spellbinding mortgages, ethanol and the global food crisis, the erosion of the middle classes into the ranks of the poor, all are driving mammon capitalism into bankruptcy. A paradigm shift from bandit capitalism to democratic capitalism is in the making with the objective of getting naked greed under control. Cassandras and Pollyannas are battling it out with wet fingers to the wind over a full-blown or mild recession.
A few years ago, liberal philanthropist George Soros dropped a bomb at the annual shindig of movers and shakers in Davos when he said unfettered capitalism is the greatest danger to democracy. He should know. On Black Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1992, Mr. Soros broke the Bank of England by shorting more than billion worth of pounds, cashing in on the Bank of England's reluctance to either raise its interest rates or to float sterling, and netted for himself .1 billion.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's bogeyman was Big Business. Ronald Reagan had Big Labor. And the 44th president is almost bound to have Big Finance. A paradigm shift from unfettered to fettered appears to be in the making. Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress would quickly translate into more regulation.
In Kevin Phillips' new book, "Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis in American Capitalism," the former Republican Party strategist deals with the reckless expansion of private debt as well as the federal budget deficit.
Mr. Phillips is not alone these days when he sees U.S. financial capitalism "at a pivotal period in the nation's history, cavalierly ventured a multiple gamble: first, financializing a hitherto more diversified U.S. economy; second, using massive quantities of debt and leverage to do so; third, following up a stock market bubble with an even larger housing and mortgage credit bubble; fourth, roughly quadrupling U.S. credit market debt between 1987 and 2007, a scale of excess that historically unwinds; and fifth, consummating these events with a mixed fireworks of dishonesty, incompetence and quantitative negligence."
This upheaval is probably the greatest story never told and covers two decades from 1986 to 2006. The number of billionaires in the world jumped from 350 before Sept. 11 to more than 1,000 today.
The Republican renegade describes today's financial services sector as "a grasping, gargantuan combination of banks, stockbrokers, insurancemen, loan sharks, credit card issuers, hedge fund speculators, securitization mavens and mortgage operators."
Over the last five years, financial services have reached a swollen 21 percent of U.S. GDP - the largest sector of the private economy. With twin-war costs now well more than half a trillion dollars, and "Happy Motoring" utopia running on empty, no one seemed to notice.
Science may yet come to the rescue of democratic capitalism - or make things worse. In South Korea , the RNL Bio company received the first-ever commercial order for cloning. An American woman paid the company ,000 to clone her dead pit-bull terrier, Booger.
In the United States, the world's most prominent scientists and futurists met to assess how science could improve the human race over the next two decades.
Ray Kurzweil, America 's leading scientist-futurist ("The Singularity is Near"), sees nanotechnology over the next 20 years transmogrifying Homo sapiens with an upgrade. Mr. Kurzweil told the BBC, "We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological neurons." The next level up for Homo connect-us is known as transhumanism, first coined by Julian Huxley (brother of Aldous who wrote "Brave New World"), who described it as "man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for human nature."
Nanotech scientist Eric Drexler agrees with Mr. Kurzweil that we are on the brink of a new technological breakthrough, similar in scope and significance to man's breakthrough to the industrial age.
Soon, they say, nanotech will enable humankind to get all the energy we need from solar power, and make 99 percent of illnesses easily curable by specially designed nanobot antibodies that will hunt down specific viruses in our blood and kill them, also to augment our reflexes, our concentration, even our intelligence, with nano-implants in our bodies and brains.
The blog Global Dashboard, which is often ahead of the scientific news curve, reports Francis Fukuyama is not writing about the Future of History because he believes transhumanism "is the most dangerous idea facing humanity." The new technology, he believes, would be more available to rich individuals or rich societies, and thus might create a "genetic overclass." And greed galore.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.
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