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Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in America last weekend to protest the Bush Regime’s planned invasion of Iraq. It was an impressive outpouring of public will, cutting across a broad swathe of the social spectrum. In Bush’s own capital city of Washington, for example, an anti-war crowd of some 200,000 was packed with religious leaders, nurses, store clerks, military veterans, housewives, hard-hats, office workers –a host of deep-dyed “Heartland” types.
Just days earlier, the city council of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city –a tough, no-nonsense, big-business town –voted 46-1 for a declaration opposing the Regime’s “pre-emptive” aggression. (You might have missed that story, of course; it wasn’t deemed worthy of mention in those organs of record, the New York Times and the Washington Post.) Meanwhile, a group of prominent Republican businessmen took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal declaring their opposition to Bush’s war.
This was all rousing stuff: mainstream America stirring at last from its long slumber to confront the preening usurper in the White House. Unfortunately, these protests –and a hundred more like them –won’t make a dime’s worth of difference to the Regime’s calculations for war on Iraq.
That decision was made long ago: before the September 11 attacks, before the November 2000 election –even before the 1992 election, which saw the temporary ouster of the Bush oligarchy from public power. During the waning days of that failed administration, plans were drawn up –by Dick Cheney among others –to ensure long-term American economic and military dominance over the world. The plan was refined over the next few years by the Project for a New American Century, a think-tank whose members included Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and several current Regime officials. PNAC called for the conquest of Iraq, the planting of military bases throughout Central Asia, and the establishment of a pipeline through Afghanistan.
Why then didn’t Bush the Elder simply capture Baghdad when he had the chance, during the first Gulf War? In this case, we can probably take the old deceiver at his word: “The coalition would have fallen apart.” More to the point, the Saudis and Japanese would not have bankrolled further combat. People tend to forget that America was an economic basketcase under the first Bush Regime; even the police action to chase Saddam out of Kuwait and restore the undemocratic rule of George I’s royal business partners would’ve been too costly without the foreign bailout. The Soviet Union –still in existence at that time, and still regarded as a superpower –also would have balked.
But what a difference a decade makes. Years of prosperity filled American coffers to overflowing. The Soviet Union disappeared, leaving behind a weak and acquiescent Russia, eager to scoop a few crumbs from the new master’s table. Central Asia was now wide open for the plucking, ruled by the kind of thuggish crimelords Washington has always preferred to deal with. All that was missing was what one of the PNAC planners called a “Pearl Harbor-type event” to galvanize public support for unlimited military action.
No, we don’t hold with the theory that the Regime planned the Sept. 11 attacks. Nor is there yet a preponderance of public evidence to indicate that they specifically allowed it to happen –although their criminal negligence before the attack, and their strangely lethargic response during it, does call their competence and morality into severe question. But it wouldn’t have required a nefarious conspiracy –or a crystal ball –to see that a big blowback from the renegade CIA army of Islamic extremists was going to hit home sooner or later. You just had to be ready to exploit it.
And if there’s one thing the Bush boys know, it’s how to make hay when the sun shines –or, in this case, when the smoke rises over the burning corpses of dead Americans. With a shellshocked public still reeling from the blow, the Regime seized on the catastrophe to put its long-held plans into action. At home, it established a virtual dictatorship of the Executive, running roughshod over ancient liberties –and acquiring unprecedented power to curb dissent, should it ever prove truly meddlesome. Meanwhile, cronies and contributors –including “family firms” like Cheney’s Halliburton and Papa Bush’s Carlyle Group –reaped billions in tax cuts and increased military spending.
The PNAC plan was then enshrined as official policy in Bush’s “National Security Strategy,” which commits America to military “pre-emption” around the world to promote what Bush calls “the single sustainable model of national existence” –i.e., the Regime’s own peculiar brand of corporacracy. Or as the suddenly-popular President himself put it just days after the Sept. 11 attacks: “Through my tears I see opportunity.”
So here we are. The newly-installed regime in Afghanistan is now signing fat deals for foreign consortiums to build pipelines across its territory. American military bases –built on open-ended contracts by Halliburton –are going up all over Central Asia. Some 250,000 troops are massing on the Iraqi border.
Months ago, the Regime’s war-planners said quite openly that they wouldn’t be ready to attack until the “mid-February time frame.” And that’s why the war has not yet come. It has nothing to with the time-killing farce of UN “debates” and pre-doomed inspections, or with the moral force of mainstream protests on America’s streets. When the logistics are ready, the assault will begin.
It’s very simple; brutally simple. This war –and the attendant skewing of national priorities toward a militarized corporate state –is the reason the Regime came into existence. This is their cherished dream. No one will stop it now.
CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org