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

Uri Avnery
A Crooked Mirror: Presstitution and the Theater of Operations

David Vest
Can You Hear the Silence?

Colin Powell Telemarketer

David Lindorff
Takoma: the Dolphin Who Refused to Fight

Michael Roberts
War, Debts and Deficits

Ramzy Baroud
Now That Iraqis Are Being Killed Is Israel Any More Secure?

Jo Wilding
From Baghdad with Tears

Anton Antonowicz
Cluster Bombs on Babylon

Alison Weir
Israel, We Won’t Forget Rachel Corrie

Bruce Jackson
Hating Wolf Blitzer’s Voice

Eliot Katz
War’s First Week

Steve Perry
War Web Log 04/03

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South