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Surely it is now time for all The Bush-bashers and war critics – on both left and right – to swallow their pride, put aside their partisanship, and admit the stone-cold truth: the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a rousing success.
For despite many setbacks and dark days, it cannot be denied that George W. Bush has accomplished exactly what he set out to do in launching his war of aggression: the installation – through "a heavy dose of fear and violence," as one American commander so eloquently put it – of a client state in Iraq, led by a strongman who will facilitate the Bush Regime’s long-term (and long-declared) strategic goal of establishing a permanent military "footprint" in the key oil state, while also guaranteeing the short-term goal of opening the country to exploitation by Bush cronies and favored foreign interests. All of this has now been done, and even given an official seal of approval from Bush’s former adversaries on the UN Security Council – a rousing triumph indeed.
True, in its quest to install a "Saddam Lite" – more pliant and presentable than the old Bush-Reagan partner – the Regime had to change horses in mid-stream, swapping its early favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, the convicted fraudster, suspected Iranian spy and proudly confessed purveyor of warmongering lies ("We were heroes in error!"), for a late-breaking dark horse: Chalabi’s cousin and rival, Iyad Allawi, former Baathist enforcer, proudly-confessed CIA tool – and the leader of a terrorist campaign that killed dozens of Iraqi civilians, as Patrick Cockburn originally reported years ago in The Independent.
Under the direction of their CIA paymasters, Allawi and his Iraqi National Accord carried out a terror bombing campaign in Baghdad during 1994-95. Their targets included a mosque, a movie house and a newspaper – the latter strike killing a child passing by. (Can’t make an omelette without etc., etc.) Ex-CIA operatives from those glory days said a bus full of schoolchildren was also blown apart – although they admitted they weren’t sure which of their paid terrorist groups were responsible for that one, the NY Times reports. But conservative estimates put at least 100 terrorist murder notches in Allawi’s stylish Gucci belt.
Obviously, this man of action was much to be preferred to his windbag cousin, who could offer little more than lies and larceny. So Chalabi got the customary shiv in the back – the fate of all retainers who prove superfluous to the Bush Family’s ambitions – while Allawi was named prime minister of the newly "sovereign" government. One of his first acts was to "invite" the American occupiers to stay on. Meanwhile, just before the "transfer," U.S. Viceroy Paul Bremer installed Bushist "commissioners" throughout the ministries of the "sovereign" state. These moles were given budgetary and prosecutorial powers, ensuring that administrative control – and the flow of loot – would remain firmly in Washington’s hands.
In fact, the whole adventure has been a win-win scenario for the Bushists from the start, no matter how it ends up. This is what many of the opponents of the war – and even most of its now-fretful supporters – have failed to grasp, because they don’t understand what the Bush Family is about.
Put simply, the Bushes represent the confluence of three long-established power factions in the American elite: oil, arms and investments. These groups equate their own interests, their own wealth and privilege, with the interests of the nation – indeed, the world – as a whole. And they pursue these interests with every weapon at their command, including war, torture, deceit and corruption. Democracy means nothing to them – not even in their own country, as we saw in the 2000 election. Laws are just whips to keep the common herd in line; they don’t apply to the elite, as Bush’s own lawyers have openly asserted in the now-famous memos establishing his "inherent power" as Commander-in-Chief to "set aside the law" and order any crime in the name of his self-proclaimed "war on terror."
The Iraq war has been immensely profitable for these Bushist power factions (and their tributary industries, such as construction); billions of dollars in public money have already poured into their coffers. Halliburton has been catapulted from the edge of bankruptcy to the heights of no-bid, open-ended, guaranteed profit. The Carlyle Group is gorging on war contracts. Individual Bush family members are making out like bandits from war-related investments, while dozens of Bushist minions – like Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Joe Allbaugh — have cashed in their insider chips for blood money.
The aftermath of the war promises equal if not greater riches. Even if the new Iraqi government maintains state control of its oil industry, there are still billions to be made in refining, distribution, servicing and security for oilfields and pipelines, as in Saudi Arabia. Likewise, the new Iraqi military and police forces will require billions more in weapons, equipment and training, bought from the U.S. arms industry – and from the fast-expanding "private security" industry, the politically hard-wired mercenary forces that are the power elite’s latest lucrative spin-off. And as with Saudi Arabia, oil money from the new Iraq will pump untold billions into American banks and investment houses.
But that’s not all. For even in the worst-case scenario, if the Americans had to pull out tomorrow, abandoning everything – their bases, their "commissioners," their contracts, their collaborators – the Bushist factions would still come out ahead. For not only has their already-incalculable wealth been vastly augmented (with any potential losses indemnified by U.S. taxpayers), but their deeply-entrenched sway over American society has also increased by several magnitudes. No matter which party controls the government, the militarization of America is so far gone now it’s impossible to imagine any major rollback in the gargantuan U.S. war machine – 725 bases in 132 countries, annual military budgets nearing $500 billion, a planned $1 trillion in new weapons systems already moving through the pipeline. Indeed, Democrat John Kerry promises even bigger war budgets and more troops if elected.
Nor will either party conceivably challenge the dominance of the energy behemoths – or stand against the American public’s demand for cheap gas, big vehicles and unlimited consumption of a vast disproportion of the world’s oil. As for Wall Street – both parties have long been the eager courtesans of the investment elite, dispatching armies all over the world to protect their financial interests. The power factions whose influence has been so magnified by Bush’s war will maintain their supremacy regardless of the electoral outcome.
To think that all of this has happened because a small band of extremist ideologues – the neocons – somehow "hijacked" U.S. foreign policy to push their radical dreams of "liberating" the Middle East by force and destroying Israel’s enemies is absurd. The Bushist power factions were already determined on an aggressive foreign policy; they used the neocons and their bag of tricks – their inflated rhetoric, their conspiratorial zeal, their murky Middle East contacts, their ideology of brute force in the name of "higher" causes – as tools (and PR cover) to help bring about a long-planned war that had nothing to do with democracy or security or any coherent ideology whatsoever beyond the remorseless pursuit of wealth and power, the blind urge to be top dog.
The neocons were happy to be used, of course – although they may be less happy when the Bushists, ever-faithless, offer them up as legal sacrifices in the Plame-gate and Chalabi-gate affairs. Shakespeare anticipated this tawdry crew long ago, in Hamlet: "Such officers do the king best service in the end: he keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and sponge, you shall be dry again." Whatever their baleful influence, these servile ministers were not the drivers of Bush’s war chariot to Babylon. The reins – and the whip – have always been in the hands of the blood-and-iron factions and their feckless front man, the Commander-in-Chief.
So has Bush’s war brought democracy to Iraq? Has it dealt a blow to terrorism? Has it made America – or Israel, or the world – any safer? No. But it was never intended to do those things. All this death and chaos – this mass murder – has had but one aim: enhancing the power of a handful of elites. This criminal mission has been accomplished. And there is not the slightest chance that any of the chief perpetrators will ever face justice.
Now that, my friends, is victory.
CHRIS FLOYD writes for CounterPunch and Moscow Times.