Saturday, June 04, 2005

 

2. Creating a Country to Neocon Design


Possible Undeclared Motives for the Invasion of Iraq

To my mind, the attempt to create a country to neocon design is the most likely explanation for many of the events that took place during the first year of the invasion. It explains many of the decisions made, many of the ‘mistakes’ and the atrocities committed.

First, we know that neocons openly advocated a war on Iraq as far back as 1996 (in collaboration with Likud’s Netanyahu) and again in a letter to President Clinton in 1998. We also know that those same people (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Bolton, Perle, Khalilzad and James Woolsey) held, and most still hold, extremely important senior executive positions in the present Bush administration before and after the invasion of Iraq.

If one studies the abundant and freely available neocon literature and the PNAC analyses one can find so much compatibility between those decisions and ‘mistakes’ and basic neocon doctrine. However, one has to look beyond the smokescreen of Freedom and Democracy!

Most of the basic elements of the neocon doctrine have been clearly demonstrated during that first year of the Iraq campaign. In addition to the usual economic ‘reforms’ and general political attitude, an observer who is not handicapped by crippling bias will find the darker side of that doctrine operating in full force:

Creative Destruction: "Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically ... it is time once again to export the democratic revolution”;

Total War: “Total war not only destroys the enemy's military forces, but also brings the enemy society to an extremely personal point of decision, so that they are willing to accept a reversal of the cultural trends”;

Violent Change: "Change -- above all violent change -- is the essence of human history";

Civilian Lives: "The sparing of civilian lives cannot be the total war's first priority ... The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people."

etc. etc. etc…

Naomi Klein has so expressively described this as: “Ground Zero - Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia.”

I still think that it is possible to explain the invasion itself and the first year of the occupation in terms of this theory.

***


This line of reasoning leads immediately to the conclusion that this route ultimately led to failure due to the very premises that the doctrine was based on. The major failure being that people (at least most Iraqis) failed to react as predicted by the neocon theory.

This view is supported by what seemed like a definite shift in US policy in May of last year, manifested by:

• Hurriedly discarding Bremer’s regime.
• Discarding the Iraq Governing Council and shifting to the Interim Government concept.
• Discarding the neocon’s man in Iraq Mr. Chalabi who was replaced by Mr. Allawi, the CIA and State Department man.
• Going to the UN and making a few concessions to obtain some international legitimacy through resolution 1546.

We definitely also know that the neocon economic recipe for ‘reform’ has been completely abandoned.

Was the neocon policy a total failure and was therefore discarded?

But this contention does not explain the fate of the major architects of that neocon plan. There was no indication whatsoever that President Bush was cross with those neocons responsible for those errors of judgment that led to criminal failures. Rumsfeld stayed on, Wolfowitz is moving to the better paid and more prestigious World Bank job, Bolton has been nominated to a similarly prestigious UN job in the face (perhaps in disregard or defiance) of World and some American outrage. Only Feith seems to be destined to move out quietly.

If their theory had failed in practice and led to so many adverse results, surely someone would have been blamed, if not publicly, then at least some of those advocates of the neocon approach would have been demoted, at least quietly at the end of that year. If political and election consideration had prevented that in June 2004, then surely that would have been possible after President Bush’s re-election. Nobody was reprimanded and nobody was even officially blamed!

Is it possible that the neocon theory is not seen as a failure yet and is still on course under a different skin? We know that, ‘democracy and elections’ notwithstanding, ‘creative destruction’ is still going at full speed in Iraq. The main difference is that a multitude of ‘Iraqi’ and imported forces are now taking part in the pillage.

Or were those policy-shift decisions only hurriedly drawn up plans to rectify the damage that was done by following the neocon recipe? Were the CIA and the State Department given more say to run the occupation of Iraq under more conventional recipes with the cooperation of the neocons who are still influential in the present US administration?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, may I remind you that the object of this essay is to seek possible motives for the invasion of Iraq.

In this respect, it seems that neocon doctrine and PNAC vision were not only possible, but highly likely motives for the invasion of Iraq. The neocons also had a free hand in the running of the occupation of Iraq during the first year.


Comments:

It frequently seems to me possible to explain those policy shifts and the position of US neocons in terms of the fortunes of one Mr. Ahmed Chalabi.

We know that this particular gentleman was the neocon choice for Iraq. He was, and still is, on extremely good terms with the major neocon players: Cheney, Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith… and of course Michael Ledeen.

He was presented to Congress and to the American people as the right man to lead the new Iraq… to the extent that Michael Ledeen advocated the establishment of a “democratic government in exile”, naturally headed by Chalabi (I frankly don’t understand to this minute how a democracy can be established in exile).

During that ‘coup’ in May-June of 2004, Mr. Chalabi was summarily discarded and was evidently out of favor in Washington and in Baghdad: his house and offices were searched in a humiliating manner, a warrant for his arrest was issued (by an Iraqi judge) and then he was accused of spying for Iran.

Shortly after that, the arrest warrant was quietly resolved and the spying charges suddenly went quiet. Chalabi was even given an important role (far bigger than his political base) to play in the new ‘democracy’. Since then he has been active politically (mainly in engineering sectarian polarization) but only as one of the major players, certainly not the main man!

To me, this seems to suggest a power struggle in Washington. The CIA – State Department team were given a free hand but only for a short while. After that, a compromise was reached where some cooperation replaced the earlier antagonism between those two warring adversaries in the establishment.

Another conspiracy theory? More like an attempt at an explanation of some baffling events. I would welcome another elucidation from a different perspective.
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
I don't think neocon-ism amounts to much more than slogans and political propaganda. True, the Bremer administration was neocon, but is obvious that freemarkets, individual liberty and globalization have little to do with Iraqi values. So, understanding that they had miscalculated, they tried to recover by wrapping themselves in 'democracy' and applying pressure on undemocratic Arab regimes. Going back to the initial decision, Chalabi and Allawi undoubtably misled Bush& Co., who expected uprisings and cheering crowds and oversold the WMDs. If there was a neocon blueprint on transforming it was probably only window dressing.
 
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Dear Abu Khaleel,
I do fully agree with your conclusion "that neocon doctrine and PNAC vision were not only possible, but highly likely motives for the invasion of Iraq".
A dream of ideologists, correctly seen by some Burkean American Conservatives as 'subversive' of the principles of their Republic, and on a par with Jacobinism, Communism and Fascism for its fanatical will to impose its radical 'solutions' on the whole world (using the US as their 'Guide-State', like the Jacobins did with France, the Communists with the USSR -or, later, China-, and the Fascists with Germany).
Then it didn't work quite to plan. There was no trace of the happy Iraqi masses hailing their 'liberators' (and Bremer's decrees), and the hope that Iraq would fast become the 51st State of the US quickly faded. The Neo-Cons were displeased, like the Russians were in Poland, in the Czech lands and later on in Afghanistan: how was it that the Iraqis did not want to espouse the beauty of this most perfect ideology?
So they had to tactically change tack: they had to remove Bremer, allow the Sistani-sponsored elections, play with another puppet and then see the discarded one coming up again.
Unfortunately, as you noticed, the Neo-Cons have not gone away: what has been happening in Iraq in the past couple of years is just a technical delay to them. Unfortunately their mad dreams are still there.
Indeed, I did notice a change in the pro-war US commentators to Iraqi blogs in this same time span: while for a good while (up to Fallujah II) they were mainly of the 'gung-ho' variety ('we'll pay the Ay-rabs back for 9/11', 'kick butt', and the 'Islamofascists', and Saddam and the Twin Towers, and the imaginary WMDs), now they are instead insisting on the Neo-Con dream (Iraq the model for the Middle East, free-market, reconstruction and prosperity, etc. etc.). I suspect that this new adhesion to Neo-Con ideology is just a line of retreat in front of their sceptical or anti-war countrymen: since all that was said about the reasons to invade Iraq has been shown to be utter bunkum, now they have to find some ground to justify the continuing occupation (and American expenditure & losses), namely the chance of an Americanised (and then peaceful) Middle East in the future.
The Neo-Con ideology has a point of strenght among the average Americans, though. Here in Europe and, I imagine, in the Middle East as well, we still have, especially in the countryside, people who never set foot outside their region; who think that the way of doing things - the landscape - the way of life - the food - the economy - the customs - etc. etc., of their region, are for sure the best in the world, and who do not understand how on earth the rest of the world can be -and do- any different. And they are not interested in the rest of the world, anyway.
Such narrow-minded, provincial people are to be found, in the Old World, mainly among the uneducated, and they tend by now to be a minority.
I am under the definite impression that in the US of America that sort of mentality is instead shared by the vast majority!
And not necessarily uneducated, at least in formal terms.
So one can see how the Neo-Con ideology can have such a large support, at least passively, in the US. 'America is the best in the world. Our military are trying to make Iraq the same as America, giving them our values and our lifestyle. How can any Iraqi disagree? If they do, it is obvious that they are ungrateful, and very evil!'.

Sorry for the long post...
 
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Erm, Neil? You, and people like you, are the reason "American" is currently a curseword the world over. Frankly, I think the stereotypes made of Americans are insulting, and get upset everytime I hear them.

Then someone like you comes along and reminds me why stereotypes are made in the first place. Because, for the majority, they are true.

Just as Americans believe Italian men are all hairy, greasy, sex maniacs who can't keep it in their pants. While this is not true of every Italian male, it is definately true of the majority of those who stand out in an American crowd. Just as the American people believe Iraqi males to be fanatical hypocrites who preach their way of life above all others then visit Vegas to gamble, drink, and fondle blond strippers.

While these stereotypes may not represent the majority of either ethnic group, they are the ones which people notice. The well groomed, blond, happily and faithfully married Italians who visit America go unnoticed, while the sexcrazed adulturers are remembered.

In this same vein, anyone who declares themself a patriot of America is instantly lumped with the opinionated, rude, and crass American which is so often remembered as they dress down the bell boy at a hotel in Paris because he scuffed the leather on their baggage.

I have found that the best way to convince anyone to your opinion is not to argue with them, but to merely state your arguments in a clear, concise manner. The moment you begin insulting people, it puts their backs up and they instantly disagree with everything you might say, no matter how good your points.

The last entry by my fellow American amounts to the verbal equivilent of flying a 747 into an office building in an attempt to gain christian support and acceptance of islam.

A fact of human nature is that it is impossible to convince anyone of anything. People cannot be "forced" to your point of view. All you can do is hold your views up for the world to see, and hope others will want to emulate them.

Abu,
There are several points you did not consider in these articles.
1. Placing a military force in a middle eastern country was necissary to unite and draw out terrorist and "insurgent" forces. (I always hated the term "insurgent" I imagine they believe they're freedom fighters.)

Why choose Iraq? Saddam, and the dictator system of government. These are totems which America holds as "evil." If someone says the word "dictator" in referance to a country, the American people instantly believe they are warmongering, power hungry, depraved men who torture others for their own amusement. While they might not all be such men, those are the ones which stand out in the public eye. I'm sure there've been many dictators who lived nice, peaceful lives, and never started a single war. They just don't make headlines.

2. The Bush Family vendetta. George Bush Sr. was once director of the CIA. It is my belief that he had learned something about Saddam Hussein, or perhaps even had personal dealings with him, which created an enmity between them. Junior, following in daddy's footsteps, or perhaps even at his urging, becomes President. At the first possible opportunity, Junior goes after the man who once tried to kill his daddy.

The reason for America choosing Iraq could be no more than an old fashioned redneck family fued.

However, one cannot deny that Iraq presented the best possible target as far as offering possible reasons for a "justifiable" invasion.

Iraq was ruled by a dictator, moreover a man who America, much of the world, and many of his own people saw as cruel, warmongering, and evil. A claim that Iraq presented a danger to the world through these weapons of mass destruction which Saddam must have been manufacturing and storing at the bottom of the sea, could be believed, as Saddam had been producing such weapons at one point and was under sanctions to keep him from doing so again. If Iraq were in violation of those sanctions it would then be a "justified" invasion.

The fact that they weren't must have been very disappointing. As the egg was already out of its shell, there was little that could be done. All of Junior's horses and all his PR men couldn't put it back together again. The best he could do was a "oops, my bad" and wait for people to forget about it.

I still won't be surprised if some american force soon uncovers some hidden factory burried under some rock in the desert that was pumping out nerve agents and putting them in hairspray bottles. What would be even more surprising is if it were actually built by Saddam. At this point, I think it would be highly suspect to discover a hidden plant, and if I were an Iraqi investigator I'd be looking for MADE IN TAIWAN labels written in english.

3. World domination.
America became the world superpower with World War II. Staying out of the war that long had nothing to do with it being none of our business. We're american. Everything is our business. I personally believe it was a calculated strategy to allow all the major powers in Eurasia to weaken themselves and spend all their resources against each other so that when America stepped in to finish it we would be the only country strong, and fresh enough, to still go to war if people didn't start doing as America says, like good little countries.

Europe was stabalized, governmental institutions were installed which make it impossible for enough people to get together with the same idea to actually get anything as straightforward as say, trying to take over a neighboring country done in any sort of timely fashion.

Asia's been stablized. The Japanese ceased trying to take over through force of arms and turned to electronics instead. Smart move. Some of the smaller countries get antsy from time to time, but with the threat of China looming over them waiting to swallow them whole given the slightest opportunity they're unlikely to make much of a fuss as long as America is occupied in the Middle East and isn't there to bully China.

Africa obviously has nothing to offer any part of the world, or situations like Rowanda would have been seen to much sooner, and DARFUR would be more than just a funny sounding word to the vast majority of the world's populace.

The Middle East is the last bastion of chaos which somehow manages to have resources and industry in the world. It is one of the few places left where major conflicts between neighboring countries still occur that would have an impact on the world economy.

By "Americanizing" the Middle East, America is able to remain the great superpower in the world, because our politicians have the most experience in befuddling their constituents while slowly stealing our freedoms.

Do American's blindly believe our way is the best, and anyone who doesn't think so is obviously evil? Well, anyone who does believe that is certainly going to say something about it, and whatever they say will no doubt piss off the people they're saying it to.

The greatest thing about America and the American form of government is that it has taught the majority of its people that every person has an opinion and a right to share that opinion. It has also taught us that governing bodies are made of human beings, and human beings other than oneself have different opinions.

What this majority forget is that their own opinions are just as fallible as the opinions and beliefs of the particular politician which that individual hates.

Italy, please get your stereotypes right. Americans don't think the "American" view is the best, and anyone who doesn't share it must be evil. We think our indidvidual views are right, and anyone who doesn't accept that must be an idiot.

Which my esteemed fellow American so aptly demonstrated above.

There is no "American" belief. That is the beauty of it. No two Americans ever believe the same things. We argue. We insult each other, and we decide the other idiot won't see reason and either move on by, or remove them from our path.

Tolerance. That is the American ideal. We may not like you, we may not agree with your opinion, but we think you have every right to have it, and every right to express it without having to watch the sky for lowflying jumbojets.

If the terrorists had become reporters rather than indescriminate assassins, they'd have everything they wanted by now.

Unfortunately, no one in America really knows what they wanted or how to give it to them. Arround the time the second jet hit it appeared they wanted war. Arround the time the second jet hit, we were ready to give it to them.

But how do you fight individuals with armies? You place your armies in a place where they can be attacked, where they must be attacked.

Why Iraq? Because it was a stable government percieved to be dangerous and oppressive, surrounded by various fueding tribes, without allies amongst its neighboring countries. At least, no allies that wouldn't be glad to see Saddam go.

Iran would have been another option, but Saddam was still the big meanie in most American's eyes. So sorry. It's really very tragic. But if Saddam was truly as bad as we believe, and the Iraqi people were really being "oppressed" all that badly, why did we have to get involved at all? Had Iraq sorted out its own problem long ago, it would not have made such a viable choice of battleground in the Middle East.

How can Iraq get America out of her cities? RULE YOURSELVES. I am not talking about creation of government. That's incidental. It wouldn't really matter if you had a hampster running your government. I'm talking about individuals ruling their own actions. If someone insults you you can insult them back, or you can accept the fact that you are a bigger man than they, and get on with your life.

Violence and murder are biproducts of an overdeveloped sense of pride. It is a "high school" mentality where you cannot be seen to be week or no one will respect you.

Allowing others to be different is not weekness. Killing someone for what they believe does not prove that you and your beliefs are stronger than they. It proves that your beliefs are wrong, as they allow you to murder those who don't adhere to the same.

Not all followers of islam believe that. Most are peaceful folk who just want to live their lives in the manner they see fit and allow the rest of the world to do the same.

They just don't make headlines.

At least, that's my opinion.
 
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Nobody was reprimanded and nobody was even officially blamed
in Bush's mind that would be sending the wrong message, and the right message is that we are alwayse right, no mistakes, no errors and every thing is going in the planned direction
 
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I believe you are making this too complicated. There was not a single cause or position which led the US into Iraq. Many factors came together, not the lease of which was US national interest in a stable oil supply, alternative basing for troops out of Saudi, creating an 'example' of the strength of US power to governments which might consider harboring terrorists, and even some desires to help liberate the country from a dictator. It is very possible for a desire to spread freedom and democracy to overlap with a desire to protect the national economy. In any event, the desire to explain US policy as basically evil is as naive as trying to defend US actions as completely altruistic. As for comments by some of your other posters - I'd be very interested in hearing of examples of other countries whose foreign policies weren't ultimately driven by national interest.
 
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Please excuse me, Abu Khaleel, if I add something to this subject even while, by now, you have gone on to the next post (as a comment to your 9/11 post this would be 'off topic').

In the same 'provincial' way most Americans do find themselves supporting the basic tenets of this 'Neo-Con' ideology, they seem to hold as sacred that ANY form of welfare State is just some kind of debased corrupt 'hand-outs' by the State.

I did notice that in the comments to Iraqi blogs not only the most patent propaganda agents for this Iraqi invasion, but plenty of Americans, do feel as a given that their social system (of completely unregulated 'free market', or, in other words, of a free-for-all for the big corporations having
efficient lobbyists) is just the one and only rule. For too many Americans, by now, 'freedom' coincides with the socio- economic rules that run US society.

Not just as a term of abuse, but out, apparently, from some belief that seems established and undisputable to them, all opposers to their invasion of Iraq are routinely called by them 'lefties, socialists, baathists, communists".

I do feel that this instant characterisation relies on their basic incomprehension of societies (and values) different from their own. If they were to know more about European society (I cannot speak authoritatively about the Middle Eastern one), they would have to realise that the whole of the political span (right, centre and left) do indeed share the same tenets about this issue, whatever they say. I do suspect that the Queen of England would be, in the opinion of our pro-war Americans, a dangerous Commie. Even in the two European States most near to the 'free-market' idea these Americans have, namely, Ireland and the UK, anybody seriously wanting to import the 'American model' would be first lampooned, then defeated at any elections, then, in case, (yes, quite illegally) lynched.
The obvious fact is that between the Twenties and the Fourties of the past century all European States did introduce some strong welfare mechanism; and that by now the advocacy of this reality is shared by every political tinge, from the most extreme 'right-wingers' to the most extreme 'left-wingers'.

This is, Abu Khaleel, the only cultural background that explains many of the 97 (or whatever their number) Bremer decrees. In Neo-Con 'new-speak' they did make sense, as a valiant attempt at revolutionary 'nation-building' (as they call re-modelling a society according to their ideological pattern).

To the rest of the world, those Neo-Con decrees are just violations of the Geneva Conventions, not a shade better than Soviet decrees in Eastern Europe or Nazi decrees in Denmark or Norway. Nobody, in Europe, would agree to their content.

But no use reasoning with them (our pro-war Americans): Welfare State = Socialist, Communist, Baathist, BAD.

Unregulated Free For All = Democratic, Freedom-loving, GOOD!
 
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"they seem to hold as sacred that ANY form of welfare State is just some kind of debased corrupt 'hand-outs' by the State."

I think here you may have fallen victim to your own radical "Euro" propaganda. But that's ok.

The US has massive public welfare projects and programs. People in the US in general lean towards the direction that big government programs are not the most efficient way to solve social challenges, but that does not mean we reject them outright. From public hospitals, free health insurance for children in many states, unemployment insurance, welfare, social security, to medicaid, medicare, public schools, etc., etc., etc. Federal, state, and local governments play a major role in providing social services.

I know Europeans love to think of the US as a greedy society bent on capitalist exploitation of all people (including its own) (he he), we are in fact much closer than you think.

You lean a bit that way, we lean a bit this way, but we are all standing pretty much in the same place.

Speaking of corrupt handouts, etc., it was pretty much true under socialism in the USSR/Eastern Europe. The services themselves sucked, and everyone bribed and stole at every level of society. This is not an exaggeration. To get a doctors appointment it was obligatory to do the doctor a favor, or bring him/her a present. To get the best food, you had to offer a salesperson at the store something in return. Same for clothing. The police were completely corrupt. A car mechanic would solicit a bribe to fix your car at a lower official cost. But then again, unless you were someone special in Russia, you probably didn't have a car.

Everyone had the same crappy particle board furniture. Everyone had the same library consisting of the collected works of Lenin. Every building looked the same.

Sure healthcare was free - but god forbid you were to get sick.

I kid you not.
 
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Italian,

Entirely my fault. I have been posting too frequently to allow sufficient time for debate (I can’t wait to get to the Perpetual War Theory!!) Perhaps I should pause after I get through the list of possible motives so that we can have a more in-depth debate of some of the important issues that were only glanced over. You can monitor the addition of new comments to any particular post on the side bar.

Putting aside the argument regarding one’s political stand, I think you raise an extremely important point regarding the basic cultural differences.

Although Iraqis are fiercely individualistic in nature (to the point of making it a nightmare to organize any sort of collective work!) they have a deep built-in belief in a greater role of the State as opposed to the norms in the US.

Even to generally right-leaning people, privatizing the ‘ownership’ of the country’s oil is almost unthinkable. Traditionally, this is manifested by a simple practice: when you own land for example, you only own the ‘surface’. What lies beneath belongs to the State!! It follows that oil and all minerals are universally believed to be public property. It makes sense to most people for the government to have revenue from oil for public spending instead of taxing people for revenue.

This may explain why so many people in Iraq found Bremer’s decrees and the talk to nationalize oil so offensive… although the spirit behind them was not necessarily bad in intentions. The neocon’s shock therapy does not work. Although I am no great fan of either the Chinese or the Soviet models, I believe the Chinese route of gradual liberation of the economy has led to less disruption of the country. Some things have to take their time. Intellectually, the neocon doctrine is not really sophisticated enough (and too naïve) to be adequate to use for “nation building”!!!
 
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[Italian] "they seem to hold as sacred that ANY form of welfare State is just some kind of debased corrupt 'hand-outs' by the State."

[charles] “I think here you may have fallen victim to your own radical "Euro" propaganda. But that's ok.”


Could I just weigh in here with my modest opinion on the matter?

(1) The neocons seem to be far more “right” wing than the mainstream US as a whole. It seems to me that they are pushing for An Italian’s characterization of US society rather than Charles’.

(2) I’m not saying either of you are necessarily wrong. While I agree that Europe is a lot more Socialist than the US, I also feel that these extreme disconnects between your two views might possibly be caused by the medium that we are using. Simply put, there are a lot more passionate, angry people online, particularly at these political forums than IRL. To me it *also* seems as if every American decries any alternative to the US system as a “commy, baathist, leftist” system. And then I remind myself that outside of the fringes, most Americans probably are never bothered with what the rest of the world is doing, as long as they can live in peace. It’s the whacky types that proliferate on these forums that give this impression. Am I making any sense?
 
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