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Day 17

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Paranoia and Pre-emption

Is the Bush Administration Certifiable?

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Has President Bush lost his grip on reality?

In his December 1 speech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, President Bush again declared his intention to pre-emptively attack "enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting." Freedom from terrorism, Bush declared, will come only through pre-emptive war against enemies of democracy.

How does Bush know who and where these secret enemies are? How many more times will his guesses be wrong like he was about Iraq?

What world does Bush live in? The US cannot control Iraq, much less battle the rest of the Muslim world and beyond. While Bush threatened the world with US aggression, headlines revealed the futility of preemptively invading countries: "Pentagon to Boost Iraq Force by 12,000," "US Death Toll in Iraq at Highest Monthly Level," "Wounded Disabled Soldiers Kept on Active Duty."

We are getting out butts kicked in Iraq, and Bush wants to invade more countries? It is clear as day that we do not have enough troops to deal with Iraq. The 12,000 additional troops "to improve security" are being acquired by extending the combat tours of troops already on duty in Iraq. More US soldiers were killed in Iraq in November than in any previous month. The US is so hard up for troops that the Pentagon is deploying soldiers who have lost arms and legs in combat. On December 1 the Washington Post reported: "US armed forces have recently announced new efforts to keep seriously wounded or disabled soldiers on active duty."

Redeploying the disabled is presented as a heroic demonstration of our gung-ho warriors’ fighting spirit. But what it really means is we have no more troops to throw at the few thousand lightly armed Iraqi insurgents who have tied down eight US divisions.

According to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, the hospital has treated 20,802 US troops for injuries received in Iraq. According to the Pentagon’s figures, 54% of the wounded are too seriously injured to return to their units. If that figure is correct, it would mean that the insurgents have put 11,233 US troops out of action. Add in the 1,254 US troops who have been killed for a total of 12,487. That’s 9% of our total force in Iraq and a much higher percentage of our combat force.

There is no indication that we have put 12,487 Iraqi insurgents out of action. Indeed, until very recently the US military estimated that there were only several thousand active insurgents in all of Iraq.

Someone needs to tell Bush that terrorists are stateless and that invading states creates insurgencies. In Iraq our soldiers are not fighting terrorists. They are fighting an insurgency that Bush created by invading Iraq. Bush’s pre-emptive wars are a good way to depopulate the US and bankrupt our country.

For all our firepower, we are not winning the war. Falluja has been destroyed, but the US military can claim only 1200-1600 insurgents were killed. Many of the dead counted as insurgents are probably civilians killed by the US military’s indiscriminate use of high explosives. But even if we assume the military’s estimate of enemy dead is accurate, it is an unimpressive figure in view of the 850 wounded and 71 dead Americans. US Falluja casualties of 921 is a strikingly high figure considering the heavy armor, artillery, helicopter gunships, jet fighters, and sophisticated communications that back up US troops.

Why was Bush in Nova Scotia advocating pre-emptive invasion unless Bush has other Middle Eastern countries targeted? Iran and Syria are the only two remaining Middle Eastern countries that are not ruled by US puppets.

Lacking sufficient military forces to successfully occupy Iraq, how is Bush going to engage in pre-emptive wars against Iran and Syria without bringing back the draft? If eight US divisions can’t do the job in Iraq, sixteen US divisions won’t be enough for Iran. Defeating standing armies is a different game from occupying a hostile country. The US military is good at the former, not at the latter.

Bush would serve our country and the rest of the world far better by ceasing his macho aggressive talk and working to create trust and good will. Bush is a very foolish man if he thinks America will bear no consequences for his support for Israel’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians. Is Bush really as stupid as he sounds? Is the President of the United States so poorly informed that he believes that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have nothing to do with US support of Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian people?

Surely the American president is not so dumb as to believe that Osama bin Laden went to all the trouble of bringing down the World Trade Center simply because Muslims hate freedom and democracy? If all terrorists want to do is to show their disdain for western freedom and democracy, they have much closer and softer targets in Italy, Greece, France, Germany, England, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium.

The American public is totally uninformed about the true character of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Americans could learn a great deal by reading Israeli newspapers and the reports of Israeli peace groups. However, it is impossible to believe that the US government is equally in the dark about the consequences of Bush’s support for Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and the impact Bush’s support of Israel has on Muslims’ attitudes toward the US.

A president who misled us about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and terrorist links will also mislead us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about Iran’s intentions–indeed about everything. Bush proved that his word cannot be trusted; yet Americans reelected him.

Bush got the voters’ message: "Lie to us some more."

On December 3, Russian President Vladimir L. Putin replied to Bush’s Hallifax speech by declaring Bush’s policy "dictatorial and hypocritical." Russia’s leader warned that policies "based on the barrack-room principles of a unipolar world appear to be extremely dangerous." Russian Air Force commander General Vladimir Mikhailov announced that Russia, too, can engage in pre-emptive attacks. Russia has informed neighboring Georgia that Russia might use cruise missiles and strategic bombers in preventive strikes against Chechen terrorists sheltering on Georgian territory.

Bush’s insane doctrine of pre-emptive war promises a 21st century more bloody than the 20th.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.