One of the constant refrains we hear from the malcontents carping about George W. Bush’s triumphant crusade in Iraq is the charge–the canard–that the president and his crack team of advisers “had no plan” for the post-war period, that they’ve stumbled from crisis to crisis, changing policies without rhyme or reason, or have even “plunged off a cliff,” as erstwhile warhawk Newt Gingrich declared recently.
But to anyone not blinded by partisan ideology or irrational Bush-hatred, the evidence clearly shows that Team Bush has always had a very specific plan for remaking Iraq–and is following it faithfully to this very day.
Of course, it’s not always easy to discern the president’s steadfast adherence to principle through the defeatist fog of the liberal American media. With their sensationalist focus on the very few American soldiers being killed and maimed every day–along with the usual boo-hoo about the “suffering” of Iraqi civilians (as if any great omlette was ever made without breaking a few eggs, or wrapping a few villages in razor wire)–the Establishment media routinely ignore the quiet triumphs of the Bush master plan.
For instance, this month saw perhaps the most significant progress yet toward the fulfillment of Bush’s master plan, yet there was a not a word about it in the New York Times or the Washington Post, on any network–or indeed, anywhere in America’s media “Establishment.” No, only the UK’s Financial Times and South Africa’s Sunday Times provided the unvarnished truth last week.
We refer, of course, to the $40 million contract awarded by occupation authorities to a private security company called Erinys Iraq. This plucky start-up is one of the great success stories of the occupation, having already bagged big money to ride shotgun for Halliburton and Bechtel as they spread their beneficent tentacles throughout the conquered land. Now little Erinys will guard the Holy Grail of the entire invasion project: Iraq’s oil industry.
Erinys is a joint venture between a large South African freebooting firm and a few choice Iraqi investors. How choice? They are intimates of Ahmad Chalabi: leader of the Iraqi National Congress exile group, member of the Bush-appointed Governing Council, convicted swindler, darling of the Pentagon–and the Bush plan’s designated tyrant-to-be, the Iraqi face of a compliant, corporate-run colonial outpost in Mesopotamia.
This has been the plan all along: to install a “strongman” in Iraq who can “hold the country together” and protect the imperial flank while America “projects its dominance” over the oil wealth–and political life–of the Middle East and Central Asia. There’s no great secret here: Team Bush has been talking about it for years in the corporate-funded “think-tanks” they inhabited during the Clinton interregnum. There, they published their dreams about a “new Pearl Harbor” that would “catalyze” the American public into supporting wide-ranging militarization at home and extensive “interventions” abroad. This vision was most clearly articulated in a September 2000 report published by the Cheney-Rumsfeld group, Project for the New American Century.
Central to this dream–besides the Pearl Harbor bit, which those lucky duckies got only a year later–was the conquest of Iraq, a project that PNAC said “transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The crimes of their now-captured errand boy–most of which (including “gassing his own people”) were committed when he was being serviced and pampered by the Reagan-Bush administrations–were always irrelevant to the PNAC catalyzers, except as a PR pitch to help sell their “transcendent” invasion.
And Chalabi was always their main man, the horse they were going to ride in on. Despite his conviction in Jordan for massive bank fraud, despite his dubious husbandry of the millions in covert aid thrown at him by U.S. officials, despite the fact that even the CIA finally washed their hands of him, dismissing him as an ineffectual poseur peddling false intelligence to inflate his importance and attract more funding, the PNAC boys kept faith with Chalabi, as American Prospect reports.
Thus when PNAC seized power in Washington, Chalabi’s star rose again in the East. As Newsweek reports, his group was given a direct funnel to the White House for its “intelligence” about Saddam’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction–and Chalabi’s non-existent popularity with the Iraqi people. He also supplied the New York Times with a steady stream of WMD scare stories that helped stoke the fever for war, the Washington Post reports. His private, American-funded militia was ferried into Iraq in the midst of the invasion and took part in the staged toppling of Saddam’s statue by a small, hand-picked crowd in Baghdad–the much-televised symbol of “victory” in the war, Harper’s reports. He was then named to Iraq’s “rotating interim presidency” by the Bushist conquerors.
Now Chalabi’s cronies at Erinys are hiring Chalabi’s militiamen for the new “security” contract. In other words, Bush has given Chalabi armed control over Iraq’s oil industry. This has drawn strident protests from other members of the Governing Council, who know exactly what it means: Chalabi’s gun is pointed at the nation’s jugular. But their voice is meaningless; Bush’s word alone is law in Babylon.
That’s why the occupation seems such a shambles. The stated policies don’t really matter; they’re just window dressing for the master plan. Thus they can be discarded the moment they’re no longer politically expedient. What matters is getting the strongman in place–Saddam 2.0, a more obedient, more presentable, less quirky upgrade, who will “invite” a lasting American military presence and uphold Bush’s arbitrary decrees granting foreign corporations a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy.
Now, is this an evil plan, conceived in ignorance and arrogance, predicated on the war crime of military aggression, an act of terrorism on a scale than bin Laden could only dream of? You bet. But let’s be fair: it is a plan. You can’t say Bush hasn’t got one.
CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for the Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His CounterPunch piece on Rumsfeld’s plan to provoke terrorist attacks came in at Number 4 on Project Censored’s final tally of the Most Censored stories of 2002. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org