Monday, January 12, 2004

Paul O'Neill's revelations

Paul O'Neill has revealed that the Bush Administration - which means Dick Cheney - was planning an attack on Iraq 10 days after the Bush inauguration, which would put the beginning of the planning around late January and early February of 2001. O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council, and so he saw everything. The early planning was extensive, and included how to divvy up Iraq's oil wealth (for those who think the attack was about giving democracy to the Iraqi people). O'Neill's revelations are very helpful for understanding the depths of the perfidy of the Bush Administration:

  1. It was just after the time that the Bush Administration started to discuss a war on Iraq that the most important 9-11 terrorists, who had been spinning their wheels in various ways in various places, started to act with determined purpose towards their goal of the terrorist attacks.

  2. After that time, both Colin Powell (in February and May 2001) and Condoleezza Rice (in July 2001) are on record as saying that Saddam posed no threat to the United States.

  3. Referring to the removal of Saddam, Bush said, according to O'Neill: "Go find me a way to do this". As the Bush Administration knew that there was no legitimate reason to attack a non-threatening sovereign country, the process of finding an excuse for the attack was convoluted. The ground of American public opinion had to be prepared. The optimistic Clinton years had led Americans to the belief that the United States had won all the wars and was on top of the world (it was 'the end of history'). With a few minor exceptions (Serbia, Haiti), Americans were supposed to dominate the world solely through their mastery of capitalism and free trade. There was no more need for war, and attacking people to steal their assets would have been considered to be un-American.

  4. 9-11 happened, and within hours Rumsfeld was looking for a war against Afghanistan, and, if possible, Iraq. In the few hours after the attacks, he wrote that he wanted:

    ". . . best info fast. Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at the same time. Not only UBL."


    "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

    This was before he could possibly have known the identities of the hijackers, and thus before he could have used the flimsy excuse eventually used by the Americans that the attack on Afghanistan was because the Taliban was 'harboring' al-Qaeda. It was also before he could possibly have known there was any evidence to connect S. H., Saddam Hussein, to 9-11. Many of us saw the attack on Afghanistan as having nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. September 11 was used as an excuse for a pre-existing desire for war. O'Neill's new revelations complicate the picture.

  5. As there was absolutely no connection between Saddam and 9-11, and Americans had become used to their role as pacifist traders, the Bush Administration had a lot of work to do to prepare to attack Saddam. The first line of deception was to create a frenzy that the United States was under attack by a foreign entity known to the American government, and to connect that entity with a foreign country which could be attacked. Afghanistan had geopolitical importance to the neocons, was the proposed future site of pipelines important to friends of the Bush Administration, and was a low-hanging fruit, easily and safely subject to an American military victory. The war on Afghanistan was the training wheels on Bush's military bicycle. Once Americans had gotten used to fighting immoral wars again, an attack against more important targets would be easier.

  6. We can now see why no real effort was made to capture Osama, and both he and Mullah Omar were allowed to escape. Osama was needed to continue to build the 'war on terror' as the war threat to the United States. The war on Afghanistan prepared Americans for the idea of war, and the idea that the war was in self-defense. There was a subtle shift of the threat from al-Qaeda to Iraq, with Cheney in particular constantly muddling the two. The constant terror alerts kept up the pressure on the American psyche, and war suddenly seemed necessary again. Having been eased into war with what seemed like a quick victory in Afghanistan, war could again be used if a threat could be created elsewhere.

  7. O'Neill told Time:

    "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction. There were allegations and assertions by people. But I've been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions. To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence."

    All that was needed to finish the job was some bogus evidence to make Saddam an imminent threat, and that job was handled by some American 'journalists', most notably Judith Miller. Blair the poodle was also necessary, as his similar lies bolstered the lies of the Bush Administration (and Blair knew that Iraq did not have quickly deployable weapons of mass destruction). The lies about weapons of mass destruction and the lies about Saddam's ties to al-Qaeda were enough to get Congress to go along (Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said that, before the vote authorizing the use of force to attack Iraq, the Bush Administration gave a classified intelligence briefing to members of Congress saying Iraq not only had the weapons "but they had the means to deliver them to East Coast cities" using drones). Afghanistan plus lies about weapons of mass destruction and the threat to the United States was enough to lead to the ultimate goal of war on Iraq, a war which had been planned since February 2001 but which needed the groundwork of the war on Afghanistan for it to be plausible to the American people.

The interesting thing is that the war on Iraq itself isn't the ultimate goal of the neocons. To find out what that ultimate goal is, Americans will just have to reelect (or, for the purists, elect) George Bush.