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Colin Powell’s Shame

Jim Wilkinson, mouthpiece for US General Tommy Franks, has developed a habit of calling out the Butcher of Baghdad. It seems that Mr. Wilkinson, not to mention those he represents, believes that Saddam Hussein has an obligation to the Allies to appear on camera making some reference to current events.

To be sure, Hussein’s customary verbal flourishes about being invaded by Anglo-American-Zionists won’t cut it here. The Iraqi leader, elected by the most overwhelming of imaginable mandates, has sounded that alarm since Bush I was drawing lines in the sand. And a fat lot of good it has done him; the leaders of the countries bordering Iraq treat the nation like it’s a WWE steel cage. The natives have no choice but to acquiesce to the power of a superior nation-state.

It’s entirely plausible that it serves the interests of Middle Eastern leaders for the US to take control of Iraq, unless one takes seriously the idea that a subjugated Iraq is intended to be a base for Anglo-American efforts to reshape the politics of the region at large. If that idea is taken seriously, there is trouble brewing for nations in the region, and sooner than later. If there is trouble brewing in that region, then there is trouble for America as well.

But trouble for America is merely a learning opportunity for such as Ken Adelman. He got his liberation of Iraq — think “Black Hawk Down” watched in rewind — and, even though now he amends his prediction that Iraq would be a cakewalk, it’s a little too late for his words to matter.

For wars cannot be undone. Once troops and supplies are committed to a region, there is no hasty retreat. Just the agonizing pantomimes of political actors discussing such concepts as “peace with honor” or “withdrawal on our terms”, which bleeds the common man to death while enriching said political actors, their cronies, and assorted others on the take.

Ken Adelman realized that there would be no exit from Iraq in the foreseeable future, but knew better than to proclaim that fact to the people who would fight in and finance the actual conflict. He knew that the American media is always up for selling a war, and that he could make ludicrous claims that would never face challenge on Fox News or in the Wall Street Journal.

There’s money in a gig like that. Adelman’s payoff is not a matter of public record just yet, but David “Axis of Evil” Frum recently remarked in his National Review Online column that Michael Ledeen had “earned his $25 million after all” for vigorously advancing the claims that Iran was a threat to US National Security, and that it would be a good thing for all mankind if the US military liberated that nation from the grip of the “murderous mullahs.”

For their part, Iranian leadership has provided ample bulletin board material for the neo-conservatives’ dressing room. On March 14, Hujjat al-Islam Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s national security adviser, pledged that there will be no “happy ending” to America’s war with Iraq. Former Iranian President Rafsanjani maintained on February 7th that “the U.S. presence in the Middle East is worse than Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.”

Words alone don’t matter so much to this White House, which understands perhaps too instinctively that despots say one thing for “domestic consumption” and something else entirely when deals are being struck. Words augmented by action, though, are a different matter entirely.

UPI reported the following on April 3. “Iran’s senior leadership decided last month to send irregular paramilitary units across their border with Iraq to harass American soldiers once Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, according to U.S. intelligence reports.” Of course, that regime hasn’t fallen as of the date of the UPI dispatch. But that technicality didn’t stop an unnamed US Intelligence Official from saying that the Iranians’ alleged plans “confirmed all of our suspicions that the Iranians are not our friends and not for peace in the region. They are in fact for a piece of the region.”

Iran’s alleged willingness to take the US on in the face of an Iraqi power vacuum should be seen as troubling news, as a war with Iran likely would not prove to be a cakewalk in any sense. Iran has 70 million people, an economy that hasn’t been crippled by sanctions, and a more modern military than that of Hussein’s country. The nation spends $6 billion a year on its military, which could call on upwards of ten million able-bodied men of fighting age if they were needed.

Do we have ten million men willing to fight and die to save petroleum resources? How many millions would it take to provide an occupation force sufficient to pacify the region? Is there any hope of attaining such a fighting force without conscription?

The answers to the above questions are not pleasant ones for our war planners. But the questions would not be posed if our diplomats had succeeded in giving Iran sufficient incentive to keep its soldiers in its own yard. Once again, the State Department has pursued a diplomatic course that no one, stateside or anywhere else, could take seriously if he weren’t paid for that specific task. If Colin Powell had any honor, he’d have resigned by now.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI’s columns appear regularly in Counterpunch. Comments should be sent to Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com .

 

Today’s Features

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ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

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