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The United States is in dire straits. Its government is in the hands of people who connect to events neither rationally nor morally.
If President Bush’s neoconservative administration were rational, the US would never have invaded Iraq. If Bush’s government were moral, it would be ashamed of the carnage and horror it has unleashed in Iraq.
The Bush administration has no doubts. It knows that it is right and virtuous. Bush and the neocons dismiss factual criticisms as evidence that the critics are “against us.”
People who know that they are right cannot avoid sinking deeper into mistakes. The Bush administration led the US into a war on the basis of claims that are now known to be untrue. Yet, President Bush and Vice President Cheney consistently refuse to admit that any mistake has been made. The chances are high, therefore, that the second Bush administration will be more disastrous than the first.
The first Bush administration has cost America 10,000 casualties (dead and wounded). Eight of ten US divisions are tied down in Iraq by a few thousand lightly armed insurgents. Polls reveal that most Iraqis regard Americans as invaders and occupiers, not as liberators. US prestige in the Muslim world has evaporated. The majority of Muslims, who were with us are now against us. Sooner or later, this change of mind will endanger our puppet regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
In a futile effort to assert hegemony in Iraq, the US has largely destroyed Fallujah, once a city of 300,000. Hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians have been killed by the indiscriminate use of high explosives.
To cover up the extensive civilian deaths, US authorities count all Iraqi dead as insurgents, delivering a high body count as claim of success for a bloody-minded operation. The human cost for American families is 51 dead and 425 wounded US troops–casualties on par with the worst days of the Vietnam war.
The film of a US Marine shooting a captured, wounded and unarmed Iraqi prisoner in the head at close range has been shown all over the world. Coming on top of proven acts of torture at US military prisons, this war crime has destroyed what remained of America’s image and moral authority.
On November 17, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for investigation of American war crimes in Fallujah. This is a remarkable turn of events, showing how far US prestige, and the morale of our armed forces, have fallen.
However, for Bush administration partisans, war crimes are no longer something of which to be ashamed. Reflecting the neoconservative mindset that America’s monopoly on virtue justifies any and all US actions, Fox “News” talking heads and their Republican Party and retired military guests have arrogantly defended the marine who murdered the wounded Iraqi prisoner.
Iraqi insurgents are condemned for deaths that they inflict on civilians. But when American troops fire indiscriminately upon civilians and US missile and bombing attacks kill Iraqis in their homes, the deaths are dismissed as “collateral damage.” This double standard is a further indication that Americans have come to the belief that US ends justify any means.
A number of former top US military leaders and heads of the CIA and National Security Agency have condemned Bush’s invasion of Iraq as a “strategic blunder.” These are people who gave their lives to the service of our country and can in no way be said to be “against us.”
However, the Bush administration and its apologists regard critics as enemies. To accept criticism means to be held accountable, something the Bush administration is determined to avoid. Condoleezza Rice, who failed as National Security Adviser to prevent the Pentagon from using fabricated information to start a Middle East war, is being elevated to Secretary of State in Bush’s second term.
Indeed, the entire panoply of neoconservatives, who intentionally fabricated the “intelligence” used to justify the US invasion of Iraq, are being rewarded by promotion to higher offices. Stephen Hadley is moving up to National Security Adviser. Hadley is the person who advocates “usable” mini-nukes for the US conquest of the Middle East.
John Bolton is to be Deputy Secretary of State. Bolton is the person who wants the US to invade Iran. The few officials who are not warmongers, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, are leaving the Bush administration. Right before our eyes, the CIA is being turned into a neoconservative propaganda organ as numerous senior officials resign and are replaced with yes-men.
With its current troop strength, the Bush administration cannot achieve the Middle East goals it shares with the Israeli government. Either the draft will have to be restored or mini-nukes developed and deployed. As insurgents do not mass in military formations, the mini-nukes would be used as a genocidal weapon to wipe out entire cities that show any resistance to neocon dictates.
Many Bush partisans send me e-mails fiercely advocating “virtuous violence.” They do not flinch at the use of nuclear weapons against Muslims who refuse to do as we tell them. These partisans do not doubt for a second that Bush has the right to dictate to Muslims and everyone else (especially the French). Many also express their conviction that all of Bush’s critics should be rounded up and sent to the Middle East in time for the first nuke.
These attitudes represent a sharp break from American values and foreign policy. The new conservatives have more in common with the Brownshirt movement that silenced German opposition to Hitler than with America’s Founding Fathers.
Bush’s reelection, if won fair and square, was won because 20 million Christian evangelicals voted against abortion and homosexuals. However, Bush’s neoconservative masters will use his reelection as a mandate for further violence in the Middle East. They intend to set the US on a course of long and debilitating war.
There is no one left in the Bush administration, the CIA, or the military to stop them.
Dr. PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82.