Archive for the ‘Religious Fundamentalism’ Category

Close Encounters with the Conservative Kind

February 15, 2008

Close Encounters with the Conservative Kind
Need a Hillary bobblehead? A discourse on the fallacy of global warming? Come on down to the Conservative Political Action Conference.” /> Jonathan Stein” />
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Dick Cheney kicked off the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week with a preemptory analysis of President Bush’s legacy. It was a speech chock full of the self-serving misrepresentations the American public—which now rejects Bush’s leadership by a huge majority—has come to expect from the administration. But this was CPAC, an annual gathering of hard-core right-wing activists from across the country who are, in Cheney’s words, “the heart and soul of the conservative community.”

Attendees cheered when Cheney said that President Bush “faces challenges squarely” without “passing them on to future generations”— ignoring the ongoing war in Iraq and the record deficit that will be created by the president’s latest budget. Cheney claimed that letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be one of the “largest government money grabs in American history” because it would supposedly raise taxes an average of $1,800, even though the vast majority of American taxpayers wouldn’t see anything close to that tax hike. Cheney got a standing ovation when he insisted that the administration’s overseas interrogation program (the program that introduced rendition, black sites, and “we do not torture” into our national vernacular) has obtained important and useful information. At one point during the speech, the audience chanted “Four more years!”

Later, while the crowd waited for Mitt Romney and John McCain to speak, a conservative book seminar began, and panelists extolled the virtues of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. “The heroes of Atlas Shrugged were businessmen! Absolutely astonishing!” said Edward Hudgins, executive director of the Atlas Society, an organization that champions Rand’s philosophy of “rational, principled individualism.” Rand, Hudgins said, instructed her readers to protect their lives, their privacy, and their businesses as they protect their children. “How would you feel if the government decided to molest your children?” he asked.

Over the course of day one, Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race and John McCain got booed. (Other things that got booed: Keith Olbermann, France, universal health care, and the idea of a “living Constitution.”) The candidates’ appearances have been well-covered elsewhere, so I’ll only mention that many attendees told me that they will refuse to vote for John McCain, seeing him as not conservative enough. One young man, who must have been born in the late ’80s, said that he would write in Ronald Reagan’s name.

Griping, in fact, was a major activity at the conference. The fact that a supposed false conservative was about to don the mantle of the Republican Party was irksome enough, but there were also Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, and the liberal media to contend with. Right around the corner, it seemed, waited a welfare/nanny state, attacks from radical jihadists, and a legion of activist judges determined to pervert American society.

And then there are immigrants. After McCain’s speech, a man handed out flyers to audience members as they exited the auditorium. “Amerixianada?? Meximerianada??” it read. “Whatever they might call it, we must STOP the gradual, planned merging of America with Mexico and Canada.” I asked the man what he thought about John McCain. He snorted. I asked him who he would vote for. “Maybe a third party,” he said. “Someone who will really secure the borders.” As we were talking, a glowering, heavyset gentleman glanced at the flyer and stopped in his tracks. He poked the man I was speaking with in the chest. “Unless white people like you start having more children, you can kiss this country goodbye,” he said.

Day two started with President Bush’s address to the conference at 7:15 am. Doors opened at 5 a.m., and attendees stumbled into the ballroom bleary-eyed but excited. At the front of the room, a young man named Dayton sat next to a row of sleeping college students. I asked him how early he and his friends had gotten in line. “Oh, about 3 a.m.,” he said cheerfully. “A lot of people just stayed up.” During his speech, the president ticked off his accomplishments, but concluded by insisting that he isn’t concerned with his legacy because “history’s verdict takes time to reveal itself.” Bush’s speech, like Cheney’s, received chants of “Four more years!”

“I think President Bush has been a superb president, probably the best in history,” Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association, told me afterward, when I asked her whether she would prefer another Bush term to a potential McCain administration. “I have not been a supporter of John McCain, but if he is our nominee I will definitely support him.”

Another attendee told me, in reference to McCain, that the worst Republican is better than the best Democrat.

Later, I wandered into the CPAC exhibition hall, a good place to take the pulse of the CPAC crowd. It is the only space in the convention not stage-managed by the event’s media-savvy organizers. There, attendees could purchase every book ever written by Ayn Rand and Ann Coulter, or, if they were in the mood for less weighty fare, the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. They could buy a Hillary Clinton bobblehead, featuring Hillary’s face mounted on donkey’s body, or bumper stickers that said, “Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Deportation” and “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts, Left Wing.” There was also a t-shirt that read, “I’d rather be waterboarded than vote for John McCain.”

A booth staffed by a friendly young man working for an anti-abortion group called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, offered a flyer entitled “10 Reasons Why Abortion is Wrong.” Number nine: “Addressing an abortionist. Once you were an enchanting child, as all babies are. Today you are an abortionist, a killer of babies. Do you not regret your wicked deeds? Do you not see the innocent blood of our children that stains your hands and cries out to God?” And an organization called America’s Majority offered literature aimed at college students giving tips on how to “Defeat Radical Islam on YOUR Campus.”

Unlike the speaking venues, which were crawling with reporters, the exhibition hall was primarily filled with conference attendees from around the country. I asked John Curry from Virginia for his take on the Democratic candidates. “Hillary is just a criminal, that’s all,” he said. “A criminal. She just wants to get back in the White House so she can steal the rest of the furnishings.”

What about Obama? “I think if Obama becomes the obvious frontrunner, he will meet with a horrible accident like the other people that have perished because of the Clinton’s animosity towards him. He’ll be offed,” he said. He paused. “Also, he doesn’t have the experience to run this country.”

During a 15-minute conversation, during which Curry managed to use the words “pakis,” “japs,” and “sandniggers,” he delivered a lengthy discourse on the fallacy of global warming, blaming climate change on ice age cycles, sun spot activity, and the currents of the Artic Ocean reversing directions.

On a television screen nearby, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton was wrapping up a foreign policy presentation, claiming that the administration has proof that North Korea is assisting Syria with a nuclear program. (For evidence to the contrary, read Seymour Hersh’s latest piece in the New Yorker.)

Next on the conference agenda was a panel discussion on the “Future of the Life Debate,” headlined by Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; Nigel Cameron, president of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future; and Representatives Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). Wright spoke first, claiming that the world is awash in contraceptives—and that global family planning efforts are hopelessly ineffective because people in Third World countries are simply not using them. In the Philippines, she said, there are so many birth control pills that people use them to fertilize their orchids; in India, people use their extra condoms to waterproof roofs. She also suggested that Roe v. Wade “demands” sex selection abortion.

Cameron, speaking on how new technologies challenge the “culture of life,” told the audience that scientific advancements giving people more information about their unborn children will create a “new eugenics,” that will grade people on a number of different criteria, including intelligence and physical fitness. He also made references to potential technological developments that currently exist only in science fiction novels, such as blurring the human/animal line and downloading the human consciousness onto a computer hard drive. After Cameron’s presentation, Trent Franks’ remarks comparing abortion to the Holocaust and to slavery seemed relatively mild.

Later that day, Ann Coulter, who’d previously pledged to throw her support behind Hillary Clinton if McCain became the Republican nominee, told a room full of college students that Barack Obama’s only notable achievement was “being born half-black” and that John McCain’s greatest accomplishment was getting captured by the Vietnamese. “I know plenty of Republican POWs,” she said. “We’re not going to make them all president.” Coulter got a huge round of applause when she advocated torturing terrorists. Afterward, I asked a young attendee named Katie about the “I want Ann Coulter” sticker she was wearing. “I love Ann Coulter,” she said. “I think she’s a role model for young women.”

Jonathan Stein is a reporter in Mother Jones‘ Washington, D.C., bureau.

Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, 12 Books in Search of a Policy By Tom Engelhardt

October 23, 2007

Tomgram: Chalmers Johnson, 12 Books in Search of a Policy By Tom Engelhardt

By Tom Engelhardt
October 22, 2007

They came in as unreformed Cold Warriors, only lacking a cold war — and looking for an enemy: a Russia to roll back even further; rogue states like Saddam’s rickety dictatorship to smash. They were still in the old fight, eager to make sure that the “Evil Empire,” already long down for the count, would remain prostrate forever; eager to ensure that any new evil empire like, say, China’s would never be able to stand tall enough to be a challenge. They saw opportunities to move into areas previously beyond the reach of American imperial power like the former SSRs of the Soviet Union in Central Asia, which just happened to be sitting on potentially fabulous undeveloped energy fields; or farther into the even more fabulously energy-rich Middle East, where Saddam’s Iraq, planted atop the planet’s third largest reserves of petroleum, seemed so ready for a fall — with other states in the region visibly not far behind.

It looked like it would be a coming-out party for one — the debutante ball of the season. It would be, in fact, like the Cold War without the Soviet Union. What a blast! And they could still put their energies into their fabulously expensive, ever-misfiring anti-missile system, a subject they regularly focused on from January 2000 until September 10, 2001.

They were Cold Warriors in search of an enemy — just not the one they got. When the Clintonistas, on their way out of the White House, warned them about al Qaeda, they paid next to no attention. Non-state actors were for wusses. When the CIA carefully presented the President with a one-page, knock-your-socks-off warning on August 6, 2001 that had the screaming headline, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.,” they ignored it. Bush and his top officials were, as it happened, strangely adrift until September 11, 2001; then, they were panicked and terrified — until they realized that their moment had come to hijack the plane of state; so they clambered aboard, and like the Cold Warriors they were, went after Saddam.

Chalmers Johnson was himself once a Cold Warrior. Unlike the top officials of the Bush administration, however, he retained a remarkably flexible mind. He also had a striking ability to see the world as it actually was — and a prescient vision of what was to come. He wrote the near-prophetic and now-classic book, Blowback, published well before the attacks of 9/11, and then followed it up with an anatomy of the U.S. military’s empire of bases, The Sorrows of Empire, and finally, to end his Blowback Trilogy, a vivid recipe for American catastrophe, Nemesis: The Fall of the American Republic. All three are simply indispensable volumes in any reasonable post-9/11 library. Here is his latest consideration of that disastrous moment and its consequences as part of a series of book reviews he is periodically writing for Tomdispatch. Tom

A Guide for the Perplexed

Intellectual Fallacies of the War on Terror

By Chalmers Johnson

[This essay is a review of The Matador’s Cape, America’s Reckless Response to Terror by Stephen Holmes (Cambridge University Press, 367 pp., $30).]

There are many books entitled “A Guide for the Perplexed,” including Moses Maimonides’ 12th century treatise on Jewish law and E. F. Schumacher’s 1977 book on how to think about science. Book titles cannot be copyrighted. A Guide for the Perplexed might therefore be a better title for Stephen Holmes’ new book than the one he chose, The Matador’s Cape: America’s Reckless Response to Terror. In his perhaps overly clever conception, the matador is the terrorist leadership of al Qaeda, taunting a maddened United States into an ultimately fatal reaction. But do not let the title stop you from reading the book. Holmes has written a powerful and philosophically erudite survey of what we think we understand about the 9/11 attacks — and how and why the United States has magnified many times over the initial damage caused by the terrorists.

Stephen Holmes is a law professor at New York University. In The Matador’s Cape, he sets out to forge an understanding — in an intellectual and historical sense, not as a matter of journalism or of partisan politics — of the Iraq war, which he calls “one of the worst (and least comprehensible) blunders in the history of American foreign policy” (p. 230). His modus operandi is to survey in depth approximately a dozen influential books on post-Cold War international politics to see what light they shed on America’s missteps. I will touch briefly on the books he chooses for dissection, highlighting his essential thoughts on each of them.

Holmes’ choice of books is interesting. Many of the authors he focuses on are American conservatives or neoconservatives, which is reasonable since they are the ones who caused the debacle. He avoids progressive or left wing writers, and none of his choices are from Metropolitan Books’ American Empire Project. (Disclosure: This review was written before I read Holmes’ review of my own book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic in the October 29 issue of The Nation.)

He concludes: “Despite a slew of carefully researched and insightful books on the subject, the reason why the United States responded to the al Qaeda attack by invading Iraq remains to some extent an enigma” (p. 3). Nonetheless, his critiques of the books he has chosen are so well done and fair that they constitute one of the best introductions to the subject. They also have the advantage in several cases of making it unnecessary to read the original.

Holmes interrogates his subjects cleverly. His main questions and the key books he dissects for each of them are:

* Did Islamic religious extremism cause 9/11? Here he supplies his own independent analysis and conclusion (to which I turn below).

* Why did American military preeminence breed delusions of omnipotence, as exemplified in Robert Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf, 2003)? While not persuaded by Kagan’s portrayal of the United States as “Mars” and Europe as “Venus,” Holmes takes Kagan’s book as illustrative of neoconservative thought on the use of force in international politics: “Far from guaranteeing an unbiased and clear-eyed view of the terrorist threat, as Kagan contends, American military superiority has irredeemably skewed the country’s view of the enemy on the horizon, drawing the United States, with appalling consequences, into a gratuitous, cruel, and unwinnable conflict in the Middle East” (p. 72).

* How was the war lost, as analyzed in Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor (Pantheon, 2006)? Holmes regards this book by Gordon, the military correspondent of the New York Times, and Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general, as the best treatment of the military aspects of the disaster, down to and including U.S. envoy L. Paul Bremer’s disbanding of the Iraqi military. I would argue that Fiasco (Penguin 2006) by the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks is more comprehensive, clearer-eyed, and more critical.

• How did a tiny group of individuals, with eccentric theories and reflexes, recklessly compound the country’s post-9/11 security nightmare? Here Holmes considers James Mann’s Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (Viking, 2004). One of Mann’s more original insights is that the neocons in the Bush administration were so bewitched by Cold War thinking that they were simply incapable of grasping the new realities of the post-Cold War world. “In Iraq, alas, the lack of a major military rival excited some aging hard-liners into toppling a regime that they did not have the slightest clue how to replace…. We have only begun to witness the long-term consequences of their ghastly misuse of unaccountable power” (p. 106).

* What roles did Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld play in the Bush administration, as captured in Michael Mann’s Incoherent Empire (Verso, 2003)? According to Holmes, Mann’s work “repays close study, even by readers who will not find its perspective altogether congenial or convincing.” He argues that perhaps Mann’s most important contribution, even if somewhat mechanically put, is to stress the element of bureaucratic politics in Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s manipulation of the neophyte Bush: “The outcome of inter- and intra-agency battles in Washington, D.C., allotted disproportionate influence to the fatally blurred understanding of the terrorist threat shared by a few highly placed and shrewd bureaucratic infighters. Rumsfeld and Cheney controlled the military; and when they were given the opportunity to rank the country’s priorities in the war on terror, they assigned paramount importance to those specific threats that could be countered effectively only by the government agency over which they happened to preside” (p. 107).

* Why did the U.S. decide to search for a new enemy after the Cold War, as argued by an old cold warrior, Samuel Huntington, in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Simon and Schuster, 1996)? It is not clear why Holmes included Huntington’s eleven-year-old treatise on “Allah made them do it” in his collection of books on post-Cold War international politics except as an act of obeisance to establishmentarian — and especially Council-on-Foreign-Relations — thinking. Holmes regards Huntington’s work as a “false template” and calls it misleading. Well before 9/11, many critics of Huntington’s concept of “civilization” had pointed out that there is insufficient homogeneity in Christianity, Islam, or the other great religions for any of them to replace the position vacated by the Soviet Union. As Holmes remarks, Huntington “finds homogeneity because he is looking for homogeneity” (p. 136).

* What role did left-wing ideology play in legitimating the war on terror, as seen by Samantha Power in “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (Basic, 2002). As Holmes acknowledges, “The humanitarian interventionists rose to a superficial prominence in the 1990s largely because of a vacuum in U.S. foreign-policy thinking after the end of the Cold War…. Their influence was small, however, and after 9/11, that influence vanished altogether.” He nonetheless takes up the anti-genocide activists because he suspects that, by making a rhetorically powerful case for casting aside existing decision-making rules and protocols, they may have emboldened the Bush administration to follow suit and fight the “evil” of terrorism outside the Constitution and the law. The idea that Power was an influence on Cheney and Rumsfeld may seem a stretch — they were, after all, doing what they had always wanted to do — but Holmes’ argument that “a savvy prowar party may successfully employ humanitarian talk both to gull the wider public and to silence potential critics on the liberal side” (p. 157) is worth considering.

* How did pro-war liberals help stifle national debate on the wisdom of the Iraq war, as illustrated by Paul Berman in Power and the Idealists (Soft Skull Press, 2005)? Wildly overstating his influence, Holmes writes, Berman, a regular columnist for The New Republic, “first tried to convince us that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, far from being a tribal war over scarce land and water, is part of the wider spiritual war between liberalism and apocalyptic irrationalism, not worth distinguishing too sharply from the conflict between America and al Qaeda. He then attempted to show that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden represented two ‘branches’ of an essentially homogeneous extremism” (p. 181). Berman, Holmes points out, conflated anti-terrorism with anti-fascism in order to provide a foundation for the neologism “Islamo-fascism.” His chief reason for including Berman is that Holmes wants to address the views of religious fundamentalists in their support of the war on terrorism.

* How did democratization at the point of an assault rifle become America’s mission in the world, as seen by the apostate neoconservative Francis Fukuyama in America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (Yale University Press, 2006)? Holmes is interested in Fukuyama, the neoconservatives’ perennial sophomore, because he offers an insider’s insights into the chimerical neocon “democratization” project for the Middle East.

Fukuyama argues that democracy is the most effective antidote to the kind of Islamic radicalism that hit the United States on September 11, 2001. He contends that the root of Islamic rebellion is to be found in the savage and effective repression of protestors — many of whom have been driven into exile — in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Terrorism is not the enemy, merely a tactic Islamic radicals have found exceptionally effective. Holmes writes of Fukuyama’s argument, “[T]o recognize that America’s fundamental problem is Islamic radicalism, and that terrorism is only a symptom, is to invite a political solution. Promoting democracy is just such a political solution” (p. 209).

The problem, of course, is that not even the neocons are united on promoting democracy; and, even if they were, they do not know how to go about it. Fukuyama himself pleads for “a dramatic demilitarization of American foreign policy and a re-emphasis on other types of policy instruments.” The Pentagon, in addition to its other deficiencies, is poorly positioned and incorrectly staffed to foster democratic transitions.

* Why is the contemporary American antiwar movement so anemic, as seen through the lens of history by Geoffrey Stone in Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (W. W. Norton, 2004)? Holmes has nothing but praise for Stone’s history of expanded executive discretion in wartime. A key question raised by Stone is why the American public has not been more concerned with what happened in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison and in the wholesale destruction of the Sunni city of Fallujah. As Holmes sees it, the Bush administration, at least in this one area, was adept at subverting public protest. Among the more important lessons George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and others learned from the Vietnam conflict, he writes, was that if you want to suppress domestic questioning of foreign military adventures, then eliminate the draft, create an all-volunteer force, reduce domestic taxes, and maintain a false prosperity based on foreign borrowing.

* How did the embracing of American unilateralism elevate the Office of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of State, as put into perspective by John Ikenberry in After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars (Princeton University Press, 2001)? This book is Holmes’ oddest choice — a dated history from an establishmentarian point of view of the international institutions created by the United States after World War II, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and NATO, all of which Ikenberry, a prominent academic specialist in international relations, applauds. Holmes agrees that, during the Cold War, the United States ruled largely through indirection, using seemingly impartial international institutions, and eliciting the cooperation of other nations. He laments the failure to follow this proven formula in the post-9/11 era, which led to the eclipse of the State Department by the Defense Department, an institution hopelessly ill-suited for diplomatic and nation-building missions.

* Why do we battle lawlessness with lawlessness (for example, by torturing prisoners) and concentrate extra-Constitutional authority in the hands of the president, as expounded by John Yoo in The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2005)? In this final section, Holmes puts on his hat as the law professor he is and takes on George Bush’s and Alberto Gonzales’ in-house legal counsel, the University of California, Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who authored the “torture memos” for them, denied the legality of the Geneva Conventions, and elaborated a grandiose view of the President’s war-making power. Holmes wonders, “Why would an aspiring legal scholar labor for years to develop and defend a historical thesis that is manifestly untrue? What is the point and what is the payoff? That is the principal mystery of Yoo’s singular book. Characteristic of The Powers of War and Peace is the anemic relations between the evidence adduced and the inferences drawn” (p. 291).

Holmes then points out that Yoo is a prominent member of the Federalist Society, an association of conservative Republican lawyers who claim to be committed to recovering the original understanding of the Constitution and which includes several Republican appointees to the current Supreme Court. His conclusion on Yoo and his fellow neocons is devastating: “[I]f the misbegotten Iraq war proves anything, it is the foolhardiness of allowing an autistic clique that reads its own newspapers and watches its own cable news channel to decide, without outsider input, where to expend American blood and treasure — that is, to decide which looming threats to stress and which to downplay or ignore” (p. 301).

Is Islam the Culprit or Merely a Distraction?

In addition to these broad themes, Holmes investigates hidden agendas and their distorting effects on rational policy-making. Some of these are: Cheney’s desire to expand executive power and weaken Congressional oversight; Rumsfeld’s schemes to field-test his theory that in modern warfare speed is more important than mass; the plans by some of Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s advisers to improve the security situation of Israel; the administration’s desire to create a new set of permanent U.S. military bases in the Middle East to protect the U.S. oil supply in case of a collapse of the Saudi monarchy; and the desire to invade Iraq and thereby avoid putting all the blame for 9/11 on al Qaeda — because to do so would have involved admitting administration negligence and incompetence during the first nine months of 2001 and, even worse, that Clinton was right in warning Bush and his top officials that the main security threat to the United States was a potential al Qaeda attack or attacks.

This is not the place to attempt a comprehensive review of Holmes’ detailed critiques. For that, one should buy and read his book. Let me instead dwell on three themes that I think illustrate his insight and originality.

Holmes rejects any direct connection between Islamic religious extremism and the 9/11 attacks, although he recognizes that Islamic vilification of the United States and other Western powers is often expressed in apocalyptically religious language. “Emphasizing religious extremism as the motivation for the [9/11] plot, whatever it reveals,” he argues, “…terminates inquiry prematurely, encouraging us to view the attack ahistorically as an expression of ‘radical Salafism,’ a fundamentalist movement within Islam that allegedly drives its adherents to homicidal violence against infidels” (p. 2). This approach, he points out, is distinctly tautological: “Appeals to social norms or a culture of martyrdom are not very helpful…. They are tantamount to saying that suicidal terrorism is caused by a proclivity to suicidal terrorism” (p. 20).

Instead, he suggests, “The mobilizing ideology behind 9/11 was not Islam, or even Islamic fundamentalism, but rather a specific narrative of blame” (p. 63). He insists on putting the focus on the actual perpetrators, the 19 men who executed the attacks in New York and Washington — 15 Saudi Arabians, two citizens of the United Arab Emirates, one Egyptian, and one Lebanese. None of them was particularly religious. Three were living together in Hamburg, Germany, where they did appear to have become more interested in Islam than they had been in their home countries. Mohamed Atta, the leader of the group, age 33 on 9/11, had Egyptian and German degrees in architecture and city planning and became highly politicized in favor of the Palestinian cause against Zionism only after he went abroad.

Holmes notes, “According to the classic study of resentment, [Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (1887)] ‘every sufferer instinctively seeks a cause for his suffering; more specifically, an agent, a “guilty” agent who is susceptible of pain — in short, some living being or other on whom he can vent his feelings directly or in effigy, under some pretext or other.’ If suffering is seen as natural or uncaused it will be coded as misfortune instead of injustice, and it will produce resignation rather than rebellion. The most efficient way to incite, therefore, is to indict” (p. 64).

The role of bin Laden was, and remains, to provide such a hyperbolic indictment — one that men like Atta would never have heard back in authoritarian Egypt but that came through loud and clear in their German exile. Bin Laden demonized the United States, accusing it of genocide against Muslims and repeatedly contending that the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia ever since the first Gulf War in 1991 was a far graver offense than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even though that had led to the death of one million Afghans and had sent five million more into exile.

The fact that the 9/11 plot involved the attackers’ own self-destruction suggests possible irrationality on their part, but Holmes argues that this was actually part of the specific narrative of blame. Americans feel contempt for Muslims and ascribe little or no value to Muslim lives. Therefore, to be captured after a terrorist attack involved a high likelihood that the Americans would torture the perpetrator. Suicide took care of that worry (and provided several other advantages discussed below).

The United States as “Sole Remaining Superpower”

Another subject about which Holmes is strikingly original is the subtle way in which the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the United States’ self-promotion as the sole remaining superpower clouded our vision and virtually guaranteed the catastrophe that ensued in Iraq. “Because Americans…. have sunk so much of their national treasure into a military establishment fit to deter and perhaps fight an enemy that has now disappeared,” he argues, “they have an almost irresistible inclination to exaggerate the centrality of rogue states, excellent targets for military destruction, [above] the overall terrorist threat. They overestimate war (which never unfolds as expected) and underestimate diplomacy and persuasion as instruments of American power” (pp. 71-72).

Holmes draws several interesting implications from this American overinvestment in Cold-War-type military power. One is that the very nature of the 9/11 attacks undermined crucial axioms of American national security doctrine. In a much more significant way than in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, a non-state actor on the international stage successfully attacked the United States, contrary to a well-established belief in Pentagon circles that only states have the capability of menacing us militarily. Equally alarming, by employing a strategy requiring their own deaths, the terrorists ensured that deterrence no longer held sway. Overwhelming military might cannot deter non-state actors who accept that they will die in their attacks on others. The day after 9/11, American leaders in Washington D.C. suddenly felt unprotected and defenseless against a new threat they only imperfectly understood. They responded in various ways.

One was to recast what had happened in terms of Cold-War thinking. “To repress feelings of defenselessness associated with an unfamiliar threat, the decision makers’ gaze slid uncontrollably away from al Qaeda and fixated on a recognizable threat that was unquestionably susceptible to being broken into bits” (p.312). Holmes calls this fusion of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein a “mental alchemy, the ‘reconceiving’ of an impalpable enemy as a palpable enemy.” He endorses James Mann’s thesis that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and others did not change the underlying principles guiding American foreign policy in response to the 9/11 attacks; that, in fact, they did the exact opposite: “[T]he Bush administration has managed foreign affairs so ineptly because it has been reflexively implementing out-of-date formulas in a radically changed security environment” (p. 106).

Unintended consequences also played a role, Holmes argues: “If conservative Congressmen had not blocked [Pennsylvania Governor] Tom Ridge’s nomination as Defense Secretary [in 2000] for the ludicrously immaterial reason that he was wobbly on abortion, then the Cheney-Rumsfeld group, including Wolfowitz and [Douglas] Feith, would have been in no position to hijack the administration’s reaction to 9/11″ (pp. 93-94). Rumsfeld enthusiastically endorsed Bush’s description of his “new” policies as a “war” because the Office of the Secretary of Defense then became the lead agency in designing and carrying out America’s response.

There was little or no countervailing influence. “By sheer chance,” Holmes writes, “Rice and Powell — no doubt orderly managers — have pedestrian minds and perhaps deferential personalities. Neither provided a gripping and persuasive vision of the United States’ role in the world that might have counteracted the megalomania of the neoconservatives, and neither was capable of outfoxing the hard-liners in an interagency power struggle” (p. 94).

The costs of equating al Qaeda with Iraq and of concentrating on a military response were high. “It meant that some of the troops sent to Iraq in the first wave believed, disgracefully, that they were avenging the 3,000 dead from September 11…. Cruel and arbitrary behavior by some U.S. forces helped stoke the violent insurgency that followed” (p. 307).

American confusion about the nature of the enemy — rogue state vs. non-state terrorist organization — produced two different counterstrategies, both of which almost certainly made the situation worse. First, by focusing on a rogue state (Iraq), rather than on a non-state actor (al Qaeda), the Pentagon drew attention to what it came to call the “hand-off scenario” in which a nuclear-armed rogue state might hand over weapons of mass destruction to terrorists who would use them against the U.S. To counter this threat, the Pentagon developed a strategy of preventive war against rogue states with the objective of bringing about regime change in them. The only way to prevent nuclear proliferation to terrorist groups — so the argument went — was to forcibly democratize Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes, some of which had long been allied with the United States.

The other strategy was a return to what seemed like a form of deterrence: a “scare the Muslims” campaign. This involved a resort to massive “shock and awe” bombing raids on Baghdad with the intent of demonstrating the futility of defying the United States.

By reacting to the threat of modern terrorism with an attack on a substitute target — without even bothering to calculate the enormous potential costs involved — the Pentagon greatly overestimated what military force could achieve. Both the regime-change and overawe-the-Muslims approaches carried with them potentially devastating unintended consequences — particularly if any of the premises, such as about who possessed WMD, were wrong. Overly abstract ideas were substituted for empirical knowledge of, and logical responses to, an enemy’s capabilities. Thus, insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, two devastated, poor countries, have managed to fight one of the most powerful American expeditionary forces in history to a virtual standstill. In short, “America’s bellicose response to the 9/11 provocation was not only dishonorable and unethical, given the cruel suffering it has inflicted on thousands of innocents, but also imprudent in the extreme because it was bound to produce as much hatred as fear, as much burning desire for reprisal as quaking paralysis and docility. Some of the sickening effects are unfolding before our eyes. That even more malevolent consequences remain in store is a grim possibility not to be wished away” (p. 10).

Complicity of the Left in American Imperialism

Holmes is also interesting on why the American Left has been so ineffectual in countering the efforts of Washington’s pro-war party. Deeply guilt-ridden over the Clinton administration’s failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda and frustrated by the constraints of international law and United Nations procedures, some influential progressives in America had already advocated a preemptive and unilateralist turn in American foreign policy that the Bush administration hijacked. Human rights activists had heavily promoted intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo to halt ethnic cleansing — and doing so without any international sanction whatsoever. Some of them became as enthusiastic about using the American armed forces to achieve limited foreign policy goals as many neocons. Even U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright made herself notorious with her 1993 wisecrack to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

Although Holmes tries not to overstate his case, he suspects that the humanitarian interventionism of the 1990s — at one point he speaks of “human rights as imperial ideology” (p. 190) — may have played at least a small role in the public’s acceptance of Bush’s intervention in Iraq. If so, it is hard to imagine a better example of the disasters that good intentions can sometimes produce. The result in Iraq, in turn, has more or less silenced calls from the Left for further campaigns of military intervention for humanitarian purposes. The U.S. is conspicuously not participating in the U.N. intervention in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The Rule of Law

As a legal scholar, Holmes is committed to the rule of law. “[L]aw is best understood,” he writes, “not as a set of rigid rules but rather as a set of institutional mechanisms and procedures designed to correct the mistakes that even exceptionally talented executive officials are bound to make and to facilitate midstream readjustments and course corrections. If we understand law, constitutionalism, and due process in this way, then it becomes obvious why the war on terrorism is bound to fail when conducted, as it has been so far, against the rule of law and outside the constitutional system of checks and balances” (p. 5).

This short-circuiting of normal constitutional procedures he sees as probably the most consequential post-9/11 blunder of the Bush administration. The President’s repeated claims that he needs high levels of secrecy and the ability to arbitrarily cancel established law in order to move decisively against terrorists draw his utter contempt. “By dismantling checks and balances, along the lines idealized and celebrated by [John] Yoo, the administration has certainly gained flexibility in the ‘war on terror.’ It has gained the flexibility, in particular, to shoot first and aim afterward” (p. 301). Although such an assumption of dictatorial powers has happened before during periods of national emergency in the United States, Holmes is convinced that the humanitarian interventionism of the 1990s helped anesthetize many Americans to the implications of what the government was doing after 9/11.

Even now, with the Iraq War all but lost and public opinion having turned decisively against the President, there is still a flabbiness in mainstream criticism that reveals a major weakness in the conduct of American foreign policy. For example, while many hawks and doves today recognize that Rumsfeld mobilized too few forces to achieve his military objectives in Iraq, they tend to concentrate on his rejection of former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki’s advice that he needed a larger army of occupation. They almost totally ignore the true national policy implications of Rumsfeld’s failed leadership. Holmes writes, “If Saddam Hussein had actually possessed the tons of chemical and biological weapons that, in the president’s talking points, constituted the casus belli for the invasion, Rumsfeld’s slimmed-down force would have abetted the greatest proliferation disaster in world history” (p. 82). He quotes Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor: “Securing the WMD required sealing the country’s borders and quickly seizing control of the many suspected sites before they were raided by profiteers, terrorists, and regime officials determined to carry on the fight. The force that Rumsfeld eventually assembled, by contrast, was too small to do any of this” (pp. 84-85). As a matter of fact, looters did ransack the Iraqi nuclear research center at al Tuwaitha. No one pointed out these flaws in the strategy until well after the invasion had revealed that, luckily, Saddam had no WMD.

With this book, Stephen Holmes largely succeeds in elevating criticism of contemporary American imperialism in the Middle East to a new level. In my opinion, however, he underplays the roles of American imperialism and militarism in exploiting the 9/11 crisis to serve vested interests in the military-industrial complex, the petroleum industry, and the military establishment. Holmes leaves the false impression that the political system of the United States is capable of a successful course correction. But, as Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, puts it: “None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of checks and balances…. The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them.”

There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic — becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force. To take up these subjects, however, moves the discussion into largely unexplored territory. For now, Holmes has done a wonderful job of clearing the underbrush and preparing the way for the public to address this more or less taboo subject.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of the bestselling Blowback TrilogyBlowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2007).

Copyright 2007 Chalmers Johnson

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

October 5, 2007

Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History

Global Research, October 4, 2007

 

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PART 1

      In recent months and even years, the United States and it’s close allies have been stepping up efforts to display Iran in a very negative light, labeling it as a terrorist nation bent on developing nuclear weapons to use against Israel and other allies of the United States in the Middle East, and possibly further outside of the region, or to deliver those nuclear weapons to the hands of terrorists hoping to use them against the United States and its allies.

      If a war takes place with Iran, orchestrated by Israel, the United States and other allies, then there will be a massive transformation of not only the Middle East as a whole, but the entire geo-political structure of the world. Simply stated, if a war on Iran occurs, everything changes. So, it is extremely important and necessary to analyze the process of building the case for a war with Iran, as well as the current stance of the Iranian government, the historical relationship between Iran and the West, namely the United States and Britain and how far along these war preparations have already come to the point where there is currently a “secret war” taking place within Iran’s borders being directed by the West, namely, the United States.

      As the United States is the sole superpower and empire in the world today, most commentators focus primarily just on relations between America and Iran to explain the current situation developing between the two countries, usually not going further back than just a few years, and as far back as the mainstream media will tell the story is to 1979, when Iran had a revolution, in which they threw out the Shah of Iran, who was backed by the Americans and British, and replaced that form of secular government with a religious one. However, as important as this event was between Iranian and American relations, it is important to go further back to truly understand the dynamic relations that the United Kingdom, and later, the United States (the Anglo-American alliance) have had with Iran. It is important to understand history so that we don’t repeat it. So, it is important to note that the United States only became a global superpower after World War 2, which left it the only major country in the world not devastated by the war. As the European and Asian countries lay in ruins, America built up its power and saw fit to expand its influence across the globe, for the first many decades in the guise of deterring the spread of Communism by the Soviet Union, the other great power in the world. However, in decades to come, the United States asserted itself an imperial status, and in 1989, at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was left as the sole superpower in the world, and saw fit to maintain that status. But before the Second World War, it was the United Kingdom, or Great Britain that was the predominant world power, having exerted its influence throughout the entire globe.

      It is during this period to which I will return to help identify the origins and causes of the current conflict between the Anglo-Americans (Britain and the United States), and Iran, as well as other great powers. Iran has often played the part of an imperial and hegemonic battleground between great nations and empires, and clearly, not much has changed.

Imperial Rumblings and the Road to World War

      As the old British colonial system began to collapse in the late 18th Century, notably with the American Revolutionary War against the British colonialists from 1775-1783, the necessity for a new system of empire was drastically needed. This opportunity arose in the early 19th Century, as William Engdahl put it in his book, A Century of War, in the year 1820, “Acting on the urgings of a powerful group of London shipping and banking interests centered around the Bank of England, and Alexander Baring of Baring Brothers merchant bankers, parliament passes a statement of principle in support of the concept advocated several decades earlier by Scottish economist Adam Smith: so-called ‘absolute free trade’.”1 He continued by explaining this concept; “If they [the British] dominated world trade, ‘free trade’ could only ensure that their dominance would grow at the expense of other less-developed trading nations.” Citing the commentary of American economist Henry C. Carey, considered to be very influential in shaping President Lincoln’s domestic economic policies Engdahl further noted that, “The class separations of British society were aggravated by a growing separation of a tiny number of very wealthy from the growing masses of very poor, as a lawful consequence of ‘free trade’.”2 Engdahl further commented, “Britain’s genius has been a chameleon-like ability to adapt that policy to a shifting international economic reality. But the core policy has remained – Adam Smith’s ‘absolute free trade,’ as a weapon against sovereign national economic policy of rival powers”, and that “at the end of the 19th Century, another debate arose regarding how exactly to maintain Britain’s empire which led to the formation of what was termed ‘Informal Empire’, allowing the dispersal of British funds around the world in an aim of creating financial dependence, on which Engdahl mused, “The notion of special economic relationships with ‘client states,’ the concept of ‘spheres of influence’ as well as that of ‘balance-of-power diplomacy,’ all came out of this complex weave of British ‘informal empire’ towards the end of the last century.”3

      However, in world politics at the time, the British Empire was not the sole imperial force in the world, as there were several other Empires across Europe and Asia, notably, the Russian and Ottoman Empires. Iran, in this era, was referred to as Persia, and in fact, there had been a few wars between Russia and Persia in the early part of the 19th Century. However, in the later half of the Century, the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire was in its decline. In 1875, an anti-Ottoman revolt began in its controlled territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which has been said, “Indeed, the immediate cause for the 1875 revolt was the crop failure of the previous year and the unrelenting pressure of the tax farmers.”4 This area of Eurasia has been especially pertinent throughout the history of empires, as Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor in the Jimmy Carter administration has noted, as he was the man behind the US strategy of supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979, which drew in the Soviet Union, delivering to them “their Vietnam”, and ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and thusly, the multi-polar world.5 Brzezinski, in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, which outlines a blueprint for the global strategy that should be taken by the United States as the world’s sole superpower, in which he states, “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.”6  So, “[t]he spreading of the war in the Balkans increased the complexity of the problem facing the great powers. No longer was it merely a question of arranging a satisfactory settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now Serbia and Montenegro were belligerents, while in Bulgaria the large-scale atrocities had so aroused European public opinion that the restoration of Turkish rule no longer was feasible. The English were particularly sensitive to the “Bulgarian Horrors” because they had fought the Crimean War to preserve the Ottoman Empire.”7 Further, “The remainder of the year 1876 was characterized by intense diplomatic activity. The most important consequences were the Reichstadt Agreement reached by Russia and Austria on July 8, the Russian ultimatum to Turkey which resulted in an armistice on October 31, and the international conference held in Constantinople in December, 1876, and January, 1877,” and then “Finally, on April 24, 1877, after nearly two years of futile negotiations, Russia declared war upon Turkey.” One year later, in 1878, the Ottoman Empire lost the war against Russia.

      It was at this time, as Engdahl points out, “British banking and political elites had begun to express first signs of alarm over two specific aspects of the impressive industrial development in Germany”, and that, “The first was the emergence of an independent, modern German merchant and military naval fleet,” and “The second strategic alarm was sounded over an ambitious German project to construct a railway linking Berlin with, ultimately, Baghdad, then part of the Ottoman Empire.”8 Engdahl further pointed out that, “In both areas, the naval challenge and the construction of a rail infrastructure linking Berlin to the Persian Gulf, oil figured as a decisive, if still hidden, motive for both the British and German sides.” On top of this, “Russia’s oil fields, including those in Baku, were challenging Standard Oil’s supremacy in Europe. Russia’s ascendancy in natural resources disrupted the strategic balance of power in Europe and troubled Britain.”9 Standard Oil was of course the American oil monopoly controlled by the Rockefeller family, which was later broken up into successive companies which have changed names over the years and merged with other large multinational oil companies, so that today the spawn of Standard Oil’s empire now is with ExxonMobil, the largest oil corporation in the world, Esso, which merged with Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, which merged with British Petroleum, Marathon Oil and ConocoPhillips.

      So, there were significant Anglo-American and European interests in Persian and Middle Eastern oil, which were being threatened by Russia, not to mention each other, and further, “The first to try to establish a Middle East oil industry was Baron Julius de Reuter, founder of Reuters News Service. He approached the shah of Iran in 1872. Reuter secured a notorious ‘exclusive concession’ to develop a railroad, plus all riparian mining and mineral rights in the country, including oil, for the next 70 years.” However, this deal broke down due to frustrations with the shah, “and the London investment market quickly dismissed Persia as a completely unreliable kingdom for investment.” But with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, “Some capitals wanted to dominate the soon-to-be dismantled territories as their own spheres of interest. Some merely wanted to prevent others from doing so. A few wanted to see new, friendly nations emerge in the aftermath of Turkey’s disintegration.” As it was further pointed out in Edwin Black’s book, Banking on Baghdad, “as the nineteenth century drew to a close, Turkish Mesopotamia and indeed the entire extended Middle East suddenly catapulted in importance – especially to England,” and he further explained, “as the twentieth century opened for business, the world needed much more oil. Petroleum was no longer just to illuminate lanterns, boil stew, and lubricate moving parts. Modern armies and navies demanded vast new supplies of fuel and petroleum by-producers.”10

      Edwin Black noted in his book that, “As England’s fleet needed oil, the prospects for finding it were troubling. Baku’s [Russia’s] petroleum industry was certainly expanding and by century’s end represented more than half the world’s supply. It had already surpassed even Standard Oil, which was suffering under legal restraints and now controlled only 43 percent of the world market. Russian oil was dominant in Europe. Royal Dutch Shell – still majority Dutch-owned- was also emerging. Germany had secured control over the vast fields of Romania. But Britain’s new source of supply could not be controlled by any potential adversaries, such as Russia, expanding into eastern Europe, Germany, threatening to sever the British Empire, or Holland, which even then was fighting the bloody Boer War with England in South Africa,” and Black continues, “The most logical candidate for new supply was, of course, the Persian Gulf. Britain could have chosen the United States or Mexico or Poland as a trusted new supplier. But Persia had been within the sphere of British influence since the days of the East India Company. Persia was halfway to India. Persia it was.”11 So, the British had their eyes set on Persia, and “In 1900, Australian mining entrepreneur William D’Arcy heard of the opportunity and stepped forward to take the risk. D’Arcy’s own representative had suggested to the Persians that ‘an industry may be developed that will compete with that of Baku.’ After paying several thousand pounds to all the right go-betweens, D’Arcy secured a powerful and seemingly safe concession.” In 1908, at the discovery of vast oil reserves in Persia, “a new corporation named the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was created. Excitement on London’s financial markets could barely be contained. All available shares were purchased within 30 minutes. Britain was now assured of an abundant supply of Mideast Petroleum.”12

      Shortly before this took place, “In 1889, a group of German industrialists and bankers, led by Deutsche Bank, secured a concession from the Ottoman government to build a railway through Anatolia from the capitol, Constantinople. This accord was expanded ten years later, in 1899, when the Ottoman government gave the German group approval for the next stage of what became known as the Berlin-Baghdad railway project,”13 and this was not taken lightly by other powers as, “This railroad line was not seen by the European powers as a mere industrial improvement battering transportation in the region, but also as a profound German military threat and oil asset – a land check to England’s naval supremacy.”14 At this time, a senior British military adviser to the Serbian army, R.G.D. Laffan, stated, “A glance at the map of the world will show how the chain of States stretched from Berlin to Baghdad. The German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, Turkey. One little strip of territory alone blocked the way and prevented the two ends of the chain from being linked together. That little strip was Serbia [. . . ] Serbia was really the first line of defense of our eastern possessions. If she were crushed or enticed into the ‘Berlin-Baghdad’ system, then our vast but slightly defended empire would soon have felt the shock of Germany’s eastward thrust.”15 Of this, Engdahl commented, “Thus it is not surprising to find enormous unrest and wars throughout the Balkans in the decade before 1914,” and that “Conveniently enough, the conflict and wars helped weaken the Berlin-Constantinople alliance, and especially the completion of the Berlin-Baghdad rail link.”16

      During this time, especially in the beginning of the 20th Century, Britain saw Germany as its greatest imperial threat. “By 1914, Germany’s fleet had risen to second place, just behind Britain’s and gaining rapidly.”17 Further, “Britain sought with every device known, to delay and obstruct progress of the railway, while always holding out the hope of ultimate agreement to keep the German side off balance. This game lasted until the outbreak of war in August 1914.”18 With this rising German threat to British hegemony in the Gulf region, “Many in the British establishment had determined well before 1914 that war was the only course suitable to bring the European situation under control. British interests dictated, according to her balance-of-power logic, a shift from the traditional ‘pro-Ottoman and anti-Russian’ alliance strategy of the nineteenth century, to a ‘pro-Russian and anti-German’ alliance strategy.”19 Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, in Bosnia, Austria declared war on Serbia, with the backing of Germany, and Russia mobilized to support Serbia. A few days later, Britain declared war on Germany, and the First World War broke out.

      In the lead up to this period, much more developments were taking place with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC). Anglo-Persian, still a new company in the petroleum business, was not as well organized and did not yet have the global reach that its main competitors, Standard Oil and Royal Dutch Shell, had. As the British were eyeing far-off foreign oil fields, they began to lean towards favoring the Shell Company, as it was already by this time far-reaching. So a project was undertaken with the aim of remaking Shell in a British fashion, which at that time, was still under the control of the Dutch. As Anglo-Persian noticed the British governments move towards Shell, they saw their presence in Persia soon being phased out, so they attempted to reform themselves, “So Anglo-Persian purchased an existing network. The Europaische Petroleum Union (EPU) was an amalgam of continental oil distribution arms, mainly controlled by German concerns. EPU owned an operating subsidiary in Britain. The subsidiary controlled both an international oil shipping division, the Petroleum Steamship Company, and a domestic consumer sales agency, the Homelight Oil Company. [ . . . ] The EPU subsidiary’s name was British Petroleum Company, with its first name descriptive only of its operating territory, not its true ownership, which was mainly German.”20 After World War 1 began, British Petroleum was seized by the British government for being ‘enemy property,’ and in 1917 Anglo-Persian bought the seized property from the British government, thus making British Petroleum distinctly British.

      An agreement was signed in 1916, named the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was “a secret tripartite collection of letters, complete with colored maps, agreeing to carve up the Mideast after the war. Baghdad and Basra [Middle and Lower Iraq] were decreed British spheres of influence, while oil-rich Mosul and Syria would be French, with Russia exercising a privilege over its frontiers with Persia.”21 As Black noted in his book, “The India Office in London expressed the thinking succinctly in a telegram to Charles Hardinge, the British viceroy of India: ‘What we want is not a United Arabia: but a weak and disunited Arabia, split up into little principalities so far as possible under our suzerainty [authority] – but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West’.”22 The British were the most adamant about maintaining control in the region, as “After 1918, Britain continued to maintain almost a million soldiers stationed throughout the Middle East. The Persian Gulf had become a ‘British Lake’ by 1919.”23

A British Vision for World Order and the Road to Another World War

      After World War 1, and with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, Britain saw to maintain its grasp of the vast oil reserves of the Middle East, “The ink on the Versailles treaty had barely dried when the powerful American oil interests of the Rockefeller Standard Oil companies realized they had been skillfully cut out of the spoils of war by their British alliance partners. The newly carved Middle East boundaries, as well as the markets of postwar Europe, were dominated by British government interests through Britain’s covert ownership of Royal Dutch Shell and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company [British Petroleum].”24 In fact, the make-up of Royal Dutch Shell was comprised between two parent companies, “Royal Dutch in the Netherlands, controlling 60 percent, and Shell Transport in the United Kingdom, controlling 40 percent.”25

      å In 1920, the San Remo agreement was signed in which “the French and British had divided up the Middle East for its oil.”26 In March of 1921, a large meeting took place with many top British experts in Near East affairs, which convened in Cairo, Egypt. The meeting’s purpose was to outline the political divisions in Britain’s newly obtained territories, and it was headed by Britain’s secretary of state for colonial affairs, Winston Churchill, and included the participation of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). It was at this meeting that it was decided that “Mesopotamia was renamed Iraq and given to the son of Hashemite Hussain ibn Ali of Mecca [Saudi Arabia], Feisal bin Hussain. British Royal Air Force aircraft were permanently based in Iraq and its administration was placed under the effective control of Anglo-Persian Oil Company officials,” and by this time, the British citizen in control of Royal Dutch Shell, Henry Deterding, through the company, “had an iron grip on the vast oil concessions of the Dutch East Indies, on Persia, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and most of the postwar Middle East.”27

      Spending the next years under the auspices of British control, the rest of the world, namely Europe, went through drastic changes. As the Soviet Union grew in power, so too did another European country, Germany. In 1933, Hitler and the Nazi party came to power and in 1939, invaded Poland, igniting World War 2. In 1940, Hitler had to make a choice about strategy against the British, and as William Shirer stated in book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “There was of course another alternative open to the Germans. They might bring Britain down by striking across the Mediterranean with their Italian ally, taking Gibraltar at its western opening and in the east driving on from Italy’s bases in North Africa through Egypt and over the canal to Iran, severing one of the Empire’s main life lines.”28 This strategy was corroborated by Black, who stated, “All attention now focused on where Hitler could find the extra fuel he needed: on the gargantuan oil fields of Iraq and Iran. A 1941 War Cabinet strategy report concluded, ‘Oil is, of course, Germany’s main economic objective both in Iraq and Iran (Persia).”29

      Hitler pursued a strategy of supporting the self-determination and nationalism of the Arab and Middle Eastern countries in order to gain their favour, and he did so by supporting the Palestinians, which set the pace for all other conflicts in the region. (What else is new?) Members of the Reich began holding meetings with senior Iraqi leaders. The Nazi strategy in the region reflected the strategy by the British years earlier, with Lawrence of Arabia, who led Arab nations in fighting against the Ottomans in the name of their autonomy. Now, Hitler was supporting this same idea, to gain access to Mideast oil for its war effort, “Nonetheless, der Fuhrer still viewed Arab nationalism as a mere means to an end, that is, as a stepping-stone to the Nazi conquest and domination of the entire Middle East.”30 On April 3, 1941, a coup d’état occurred in Iraq, in which pro-Hitler forces took power, and “almost simultaneously, neighboring Syria, the anticipated gateway for the Nazi invasion, exploded with Reich propaganda, supported by Gestapo agents and specially trained Arab Nazis.”31 It was further pointed out that, “The coup in Baghdad threatened British interests for at least three reasons: it severed the vital air link, and a supplemental land route, between India and Egypt. It endangered the vital oil supply from the northern Iraq oilfields upon which British defense of the Mediterranean depended. Finally, an Arab nationalist success in Iraq could prove contagious and subvert Britain’s tenuous political position in Egypt and Palestine.”32 The new Iraqi government attempted to attack British forces at an airfield in Habbaniya, but engaged in a battle they were unable to win, “By mid-May 1941, the British had occupied Basra [Southern Iraq] thereby asserting their rights under the 1930 treaty, lifted the siege of Habbaniya and at least temporarily forestalled Axis intervention.” As the British neared Iraq, the leader of the Iraqi pro-Arab nationalist government fled to Persia, and Britain retook Iraq.

      T.E. Lawrence in 1941, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, which stated, “The people of England have been led in Iraq into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from disaster.” The response from Prime Minister Winston Churchill was, “You do not need to bother too much about the long term future in Iraq. Your immediate task is to get a friendly Government set up in Baghdad.”33

      In August of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, and the pre-World War 1 British strategy of being ‘pro-Russia’ and ‘anti-German’ again ensued. Through the Lend-Lease program, America was sending in supplies through Persia (Iran), into Russia to help with the war effort against Nazi Germany. However, “While officially neutral, Persia had friendly ties with Germany and was home to many German nationals. [The Iranian King] Reza Shah Pahlavi’s refusal to expel the German nationals, coupled with their more strategic concerns, prompted an Anglo-Soviet invasion in August 1941.”34 The British invaded Persia from their bases in Iraq, invading the South of Iran, and the Russians invaded from the North. The Shah who was in power at the time was, after a speedy overthrow of Iran by British and Russian tanks and infantry, exiled to South Africa, and “The British and Soviet troops met in Tehran [the Iranian capital] on 17 September and effectively divided the country between them for the rest of the war. A Tri-Partite Treaty of Alliance between Britain, Russia and Persia, signed in January 1942, committed the Allies to leaving Persia at the end of the war.”

      The British and Russians made the former Shah’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the new Shah of Iran, with a pro-Western view. After the end of World War 2, the West’s (namely the Anglo-American) enemy was now the Soviet Union, their former Ally against Hitler. At the end of World War 2, the United States had the upper-hand of all the great powers of the world, as it suffered little damage compared to the European and Asian countries, so it was necessary for Britain to maintain a strong alliance with America if it wanted to maintain its global reach. It was no longer the era after WW1, where Britain was able to push aside US interest in the Middle East and elsewhere, now, they had to be allied interests, in an Anglo-American alliance. Iran had never decreased in strategic importance, both for its oil, and for its position in relation to the Soviet Union, being directly below it. According to the agreement signed between Britain, the Soviet Union and Iran during the war, the Anglo-Russian forces were to leave in a period of 6 months after the end of the war. America was closely watching the relations between the Soviet Union and Iran post-war, “Another indication of Soviet intentions was Moscow’s support of independence and autonomy movements in northern Iran.”35 Soviet leader Josef Stalin began grandstanding, speaking for autonomy for certain nations, which was taken by the West as an inclination toward Soviet expansion. Clearly, the USSR and Stalin were pursuing similar strategies in Persia that England was pursuing at the end of the First World War in the area east of Persia, of creating a ‘weak and disunited’ region, making it easier to be dominated by great powers. Further, “Moscow radio broadcasts criticized Anglo-Iranian Oil Company concessions in Khuzestan [Western Iranian province] and accused British authorities of obstructing the Tudeh-dominated trade union.” Soviet supported autonomy in Azerbaijan [North of Persia] was backfiring, and eventually Iranians moved toward a more pro-American stance.

The Anglo-American Alliance vs. Democracy

      In the early 1950s, Mohammed Mossadeq was elected to the Iranian Parliament, and as leader of the Nationalists, and was subsequently appointed by the Shah as Prime Minister of Iran in 1951. In 1953, “the CIA and the British SIS orchestrated a coup d’etat that toppled the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh. The prime minister and his nationalist supporters in parliament roused Britain’s ire when they nationalised the oil industry in 1951, which had previously been exclusively controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company [British Petroleum]. Mossadegh argued that Iran should begin profiting from its vast oil reserves.”36 The Anglo-Persian Oil Company had changed its name to Anglo-Iranian Oil in 1935, but was still an arm of British imperialism, so when Mossadeq made the suggestion of nationalizing Iranian oil for the Iranians, he committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of the international imperialist powers, and threatened their control over the supplies of Iranian oil, so in their eyes, he had to go. Thus, “Britain accused him [Mossadeq] of violating the company’s legal rights and orchestrated a worldwide boycott of Iran’s oil that plunged the country into financial crisis. The British government tried to enlist the Americans in planning a coup, an idea originally rebuffed by President Truman. But when Dwight Eisenhower took over the White House, cold war ideologues – determined to prevent the possibility of a Soviet takeover – ordered the CIA to embark on its first covert operation against a foreign government.” The Guardian newspaper went on to report that, “A new book about the coup, All the Shah’s Men, which is based on recently released CIA documents, describes how the CIA – with British assistance – undermined Mossadegh’s government by bribing influential figures, planting false reports in newspapers and provoking street violence. Led by an agent named Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, the CIA leaned on a young, insecure Shah to issue a decree dismissing Mossadegh as prime minister. By the end of Operation Ajax, some 300 people had died in firefights in the streets of Tehran.” After the violent overthrow of a democratic government, who did the Brits and Americans rely on to take back the government for their strategic interests? Well, the answer is simple, the same person they relied upon to hold it for them when they invaded in 1941, the Shah of Iran, whose father was deposed and exiled in the 1941 invasion, and as the Guardian noted, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      As the National Security Archives note, “On the morning of August 19, 1953, a crowd of demonstrators operating at the direction of pro-Shah organizers with ties to the CIA made its way from the bazaars of southern Tehran to the center of the city. Joined by military and police forces equipped with tanks, they sacked offices and newspapers aligned with Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and his advisers, as well as the communist Tudeh Party and others opposed to the monarch. By early afternoon, clashes with Mosaddeq supporters were taking place, the fiercest occurring in front of the prime minister’s home. Reportedly 200 people were killed in that battle before Mosaddeq escaped over his own roof, only to surrender the following day.”37 Further, it was reported that, “The CIA, with help from British intelligence, planned, funded and implemented the operation. When the plot threatened to fall apart entirely at an early point, U.S. agents on the ground took the initiative to jump-start the operation, adapted the plans to fit the new circumstances, and pressed their Iranian collaborators to keep going. Moreover, a British-led oil boycott, supported by the United States, plus a wide range of ongoing political pressures by both governments against Mosaddeq, culminating in a massive covert propaganda campaign in the months leading up to the coup helped create the environment necessary for success.” This is very reminiscent of what was done during the 1941 coup in Iraq, where a pro-German group came to power, simultaneously with a massive Nazi propaganda campaign being unleashed in neighboring Syria. It continued, “However, Iranians also contributed in many ways. Among the Iranians involved were the Shah, Zahedi and several non-official figures who worked closely with the American and British intelligence services. Their roles in the coup were clearly vital, but so also were the activities of various political groups – in particular members of the National Front who split with Mosaddeq by early 1953, and the Tudeh party – in critically undermining Mosaddeq’s base of support.”

      The New York Times ran a special story examining the recently released documents pertaining to the CIA/MI6 (SIS) coup in 1953, in which they state, “Britain, fearful of Iran’s plans to nationalize its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister,” and that, “The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service, handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi’s regime two days after the coup prevailed.”38 It further revealed that, “Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric’s home in a campaign to turn the country’s Islamic religious community against Mossadegh’s government.” Here, we see a clear example of the Anglo-Americans using covert intelligence agents to incite violence and even commit acts of terrorism.

      In an interview with Amy Goodman, of the Democracy Now! radio program, Stephen Kinzer, author of the book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup And The Roots of Middle East Terror, was discussing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, of which he said, “So the Iranian oil is actually what maintained Britain at its level of prosperity and its level of military preparedness all throughout the ’30s, the ’40s, and the ’50s. Meanwhile, Iranians were getting a pittance, they were getting almost nothing from the oil that came out of their own soil. Naturally, as nationalist ideas began to spread through the world in the post-World War II era, this injustice came to grate more and more intensely on the Iranian people. So they carried Mossadegh to power very enthusiastically. On the day he was elected prime minister, Parliament also agreed unanimously to proceed with the nationalization of the oil company. And the British responded as you would imagine. Their first response was disbelief. They just couldn’t believe that someone in some weird faraway country–which was the way they perceived Iran–would stand up and challenge such an important monopoly. This was actually the largest company in the entire British Empire.”39 And as it was pointed out, Anglo-Iranian Oil later changed its name to the corporation we know today as British Petroleum, or BP, one of the three largest oil corporations in the world, after ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. Further, “The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms.”

      Clearly, Royal Dutch Shell also had interests related to Iran, as William Engdahl explained in his book, in the lead up to the conflict between the Anglo-Americans and Iran, in which Mossadegh began the process of nationalization of oil, “Mossadegh went to Washington in a vain effort to enlist American help for his country’s position. The major political blunder made by Mossadegh was his lack of appreciation of the iron-clad cartel relationship of Anglo-American interests around the vital issue of strategic petroleum control. U.S. ‘mediator’ W. Averill Harriman had gone to Iran, accompanied by a delegation packed with people tied to Big Oil interests, including State Department economist Walter Levy. Harriman recommended that Iran accept the British ‘offer.’ When Mossadegh went to Washington, the only suggestion he heard from the State Department was to appoint Royal Dutch Shell as Iran’s management company.”40 Engdahl continues, “Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services [MI6] had convinced the CIA’s Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who then convinced Eisenhower, that the overthrow of Mossadegh was indispensable.”41

      Under the imposed dictatorship of the Shah, a new agency named the SAVAK was created, “Formed under the guidance of United States and Israeli intelligence officers in 1957, SAVAK developed into an effective secret agency,”42 which was responsible for torturing political dissidents, assassinations and jailing thousands of political prisoners. The SAVAK’s brutality and actions became synonymous with the Shah’s reign, itself, as they were his secret police.

Bilderberg and the OPEC War

      On October 6, 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out in the Middle East, in which Egypt and Syria invaded Israel. However, there is much about this war that is not commonly known. The supposed “hero” that came out of this war was Henry Kissinger, but in reality, he was anything but. William Engdahl’s account of the Yom Kippur War and the subsequent ‘oil shock’, was described by the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, as being “the only accurate account I have seen of what really happened with the price of oil in 1973,” as written on the back of his book, A Century of War. As Engdahl states, “The entire constellation of events surrounding the outbreak of the October War was secretly orchestrated by Washington and London, using the powerful secret diplomatic channels developed by Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.”43 It continues, “Kissinger effectively controlled the Israeli policy response through his intimate relation with Israel’s Washington ambassador, Simcha Dinitz. In addition, Kissinger cultivated channels to the Egyptian and Syrian side. His method was simply to misrepresent to each party the critical elements of the other, ensuring the war and its subsequent Arab oil embargo.”

      As John Loftus, former prosecutor with the U.S Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, who had received unprecedented access to top-secret CIA and NATO archives, pointed out in his book, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People, that, “As one source admitted, Nixon’s staff had at least two days’ advance warning that an attack was coming on October 6,” and that no one warned Israel until the morning of the attack.44 It continued, “Whatever the motive, during September and October 1973 the Nixon White House turned a blind eye toward [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat’s plans for a consolidated sneak attack against the Jews. Not one word of the NSA’s [National Security Agency’s] information leaked out until the morning of the attack.” Further, it was revealed that, “A few hours before the invasion, the White House belatedly alterted Tel Aviv [Israel] that the nation was in deep trouble. An attack was coming on both fronts, but the White House insisted that the Israelis do nothing: no preemptive strikes, no firing the first shot. If Israel wanted American support, Kissinger warned, it could not even begin to mobilize until the Arabs invaded.”45 Engdahl further pointed out, “The war and its aftermath, Kissinger’s infamous ‘shuttle diplomacy,’ were scripted in Washington along the precise lines of the Bilderberg [secretive international economic think tank] deliberations in Saltsjobaden the previous May, some six months before the outbreak of the war. Arab oil-producing nations were to be the scapegoats for the coming rage of the world, while the Anglo-American interests responsible stood quietly in the background.”46 John Loftus further explained, “A number of intelligence sources we interviewed about the Yom Kippur War, including several Israelis, insist that Kissinger had set up the Jews. He sat on the NSA’s information, disappeared on the day of the invasion, and waited three days before convening the Security Council at the UN.”47 Recent revelations have revealed that “Newly released documents show that former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to keep him from interfering,” and that “after Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, the Israelis informed Kissinger at 6 a.m., about 3 and a half hours passed before he spoke to Nixon.”48

      As Engdahl pointed out, Germany attempted to maintain neutrality in the conflict, and refused the United States to ship weapons to Israel through Germany, so that Germany itself, could avoid the repercussions of the oil embargo placed by the Arab oil-producing countries on those who supported Israel in the war, in which the OPEC countries [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] raised the price of oil by 400%. However, the US refused to allow Germany to be neutral in the Middle East conflict, “But significantly, Britain was allowed to clearly state its neutrality, thus avoiding the impact of the Arab oil embargo. Once again, London had skillfully maneuvered itself around an international crisis that it had been instrumental in precipitating.” Then, Engdahl mentions how, “One enormous consequence of the ensuing 400 percent rise in OPEC oil prices was that investments of hundreds of millions of dollars by British Petroleum [formerly Anglo-Iranian Oil], Royal Dutch Shell and other Anglo-American petroleum concerns in the risky North Sea could produce oil at a profit. It is a curious fact that the profitability of these new North Sea oilfields was not at all secure until after the OPEC price rises. Of course, this might have only been a fortuitous coincidence.”49

      It is also highly ‘coincidental’ to notice that at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, at which Engdahl describes this plan as being formulated, American participants included, other than Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the author of The Grand Chessboard, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser and architect of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan through funding the Afghan Mujahideen (later to be known as Al-Qaeda), E.G. Collado, the Vice President of Exxon Corp. at the time, as well as Walter Levy, an oil consultant who was also among the American delegation that visited Iran in the lead-up to the 1953 coup, George Ball, ex-deputy secretary of state, from the Netherlands there was Gerrit A. Wagner, the President of Royal Dutch Shell, the Chairman of the Bilderberg meeting was Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who was married to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, the principal shareholder of Royal Dutch Shell (isn’t called ‘Royal Dutch’ for nothin’), and from Great Britain, Sir Eric Drake, the Chairman of British Petroleum and Sir Denis Greenhill, a director of British Petroleum.50 Although, again, I’m sure it was all just a coincidence, because these particular oil companies and the vast and powerful interests behind them would never be involved in any nefarious activities, unless of course you include coups, imperialism and war.

      As Engdahl further elaborates, the White House attempted to send an official to the U.S Treasury with the aim of getting OPEC to lower the price of oil, however, “he was bluntly turned away. In a memo, the official stated, ‘It was the banking leaders who swept aside this advice and pressed for a “recycling” program to accommodate higher oil prices,” and so the Treasury established a secret deal with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which was put in place and finalized by Henry Kissinger, and “Under the terms of agreement, a sizeable part of the huge new Saudi oil revenue windfall was to be invested in financing the U.S government deficits. A young Wall Street investment banker with the leading London-based Eurobond firm of White Weld & Co., David Mulford, was sent to Saudi Arabia to become the principal ‘investment adviser’ to SAMA; he was to guide the Saudi petrodollar investments to the correct banks, naturally in London and New York. The Bilderberg scheme was operating just as planned.”51

      Engdahl further points out that, “Following a meeting in Teheran [Iran] on January 1, 1974, a second price increase of more than 100 percent brought OPEC benchmark oil prices to $11.65. This was done on the surprising demand of the Shah of Iran, who had been secretly put up to it by Henry Kissinger. Only months earlier, the Shah had opposed the OPEC increase to $3.01 for fear that this would force Western exporters to charge more for the industrial equipment the Shah sought to import for Iran’s ambitious industrialization.”52

Enter The Peanut Farmer, the Trilateralists and Brzezinski’s Arc of Crisis

      After the Nixon and Ford administrations, both in which Henry Kissinger played a part of great influence, came the Jimmy Carter administration. However, what most people do not know is that this administration was largely dominated by a group of people who were all members of the Trilateral Commission, another secretive international think tank institution, often considered to be the sister group of Bilderberg. In fact, it was founded in 1973 by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was present at the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, and influential banker David Rockefeller, who was also a founding member of the Bilderberg Group, and “The Commission’s purpose is to engineer an enduring partnership among the ruling classes of North America, Western Europe and Japan.”53 It was also said that, “Trilateralists cautioned that ‘in many cases, the support for human rights will have to be balanced against other important goals of world order’.”54 Much of the membership of the Trilateral Commission overlaps with that of Bilderberg, besides individuals such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, were George Ball and Henry Kissinger, and other Trilateral Commission members included George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.55 As the Trilateral Commission was being formed in 1973, Brzezinski and a few others chose to invite a man by the name of Jimmy Carter to join, who accepted and became an active member of the Commission, attending all their meetings,56 and when Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed 25 other members of the Trilateral Commission into his administration, including his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.57

      In the 70s, the Shah of Iran, which was at the time a secular [non-religious] nation, was stepping up the process of industrializing the country of Iran. At this time, Europe, especially at the behest of Germany and France, was pursuing greater cooperation and integration, and in doing so, created the European Monetary System (EMS), under which the nine European Community member states made the decision to have their central banks work together to align their currencies to one another. This would allow for greater competition between the Anglo-American dominated ‘petrodollar monetary system’ and the rising European Community, which was still feeling the effects of the OPEC oil shock. Part of the agreement between Germany and France was to develop an agreement with OPEC countries in the Middle East to exchange high-technology and equipment for a stable-priced oil supply. The Anglo-Americans saw this as a threat to their hegemony over the oil market, and so, “Carter had unsuccessfully sought to persuade the Schmidt [German] government, under the Carter administration’s new Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, to abandon export of virtually all nuclear technology to the developing sector, [underdeveloped countries, i.e. Iran] on the false argument that peaceful nuclear plant technology threatened to proliferate nuclear weapons, an argument which uniquely stood to enhance the strategic position of the Anglo-American petroleum-based financial establishment.”58 This effort to persuade Germany was to no avail, so the Anglo-Americans had to pursue a more drastic policy change.

      This policy formed when, “In November 1978, President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski. Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeni. Robert Bowie from the CIA was one of the lead ‘case officers’ in the new CIA-led coup against the man their covert actions had placed into power 25 years earlier.”59 This is further corroborated by author and journalist, Webster Tarpley in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, in which he stated, “Carter and Brzezinski had deliberately toppled the Shah of Iran, and deliberately installed [Ayatollah] Khomeni in power. This was an integral part of Brzezinski’s ‘arc of crisis’ geopolitical lunacy, another made-in-London artifact which called for the US to support the rise of Khomeni, and his personal brand of fanaticism, a militant heresy within Islam. U.S. arms deliveries were made to Iran during the time of the Shah; during the short-lived Shahpour Bakhtiar government at the end of the Shah’s reign; and continuously after the advent of Khomeni.”60 The Defense and Foreign Affairs Daily reported in their March 2004 edition that, “In 1978 while the West was deciding to remove His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi from the throne, [Ayatollah] Shariatmadari was telling anyone who would listen not to allow ‘Ayatollah’ Ruhollah Khomeini and his velayat faghih (Islamic jurist) version of Islam to be allowed to govern Iran. Ayatollah Shariatmadari noted: ‘We mullahs will behave like bickering whores in a brothel if we come to power … and we have no experience on how to run a modern nation so we will destroy Iran and lose all that has been achieved at such great cost and effort’.”61 This was exactly the point of putting them in power, as it would destabilize an industrializing country, and as William Engdahl further pointed out, “Their scheme was based on a detailed study of the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, as presented by British Islamic expert, Dr. Bernard Lewis, then on assignment at Princeton University in the United States. Lewis’ scheme, which was unveiled at the May 1979 Bilderberg meeting in Austria, endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeni, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”62

      Bernard Lewis’ concept was also discussed in a 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the highly influential seasonal journal of international relations put forward by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the pre-eminent policy think tank in the United States, whose leadership and many members also share membership with the Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group. The article stated, “The ‘arc of crisis’ has been defined as an area stretching from the Indian subcontinent in the east to the Horn of Africa in the west. The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus [central point] of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism. Moreover, national, economic and territorial conflicts are aggravated by the intrusion of religious passions in an area which was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and by the exposure, in the twentieth century, to two competing appeals of secular modernization: Western and communist,” and further stated, “Against the background of these basic facts, postwar American policy in the Middle East has focused on three major challenges: security of the area as against Soviet threats to its integrity and independence, fair and peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and safe access to its oil.”63

      In May of 2006, US Vice President Dick Cheney was making some remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Luncheon in honor of Bernard Lewis, the conceptualist behind the ‘arc of crisis’ strategy, at which he stated, “I’m delighted, as always, to see Henry [Kissinger]. He’s a frequent visitor to the White House. He was among those who joined us a couple of weeks ago in hosting a lunch for President Hu Jintao of China. And as Henry mentioned, he and I go back a long ways to the Ford Administration, when he was Secretary of State and I was White House Chief of Staff — the old days, when I had real power. (Laughter.) But Henry and I remain close friends,” and he continued, “Henry and I share an appreciation for history, and I know he would agree, as I do, with a very astute observer who once said that history ‘is the collective memory, the guiding experience of human society, and we still badly need that guidance.’ Those are the words of Dr. Bernard Lewis, a man who first studied the Middle East some 70 years ago.” Then, Cheney went on to say, “I had the pleasure of first meeting Bernard more than 15 years ago, during my time as [George HW Bush’s] Secretary of Defense […] Since then we have met often, particularly during the last four-and-a-half years, and Bernard has always had some very good meetings with President Bush.”64

      William Engdahl continued in his examination of the 1979 revolution/coup in Iran, of which he said, “The coup against the Shah, like that against Mossadeq in 1953, was run by British and American intelligence, with the bombastic American, Brzezinski, taking public ‘credit’ for getting rid of the ‘corrupt’ Shah, while the British characteristically remained in the background. During 1978, negotiations were under way between the Shah’s government and British Petroleum for renewal of the 25-year oil extraction agreement. By October 1978, the talks had collapsed over a British ‘offer’ which demanded exclusive rights to Iran’s future oil output, while refusing to guarantee purchase of the oil. With their dependence on British-controlled export apparently at an end, Iran appeared on the verge of independence in its oil sales policy for the first time since 1953, with eager prospective buyers in Germany, France, Japan and elsewhere.”65 The strategy was to have “religious discontent against the Shah [which] could be fanned by trained agitators deployed by British and US intelligence,” and so “As Iran’s domestic economic troubles grew [as a result of the British refusing to buy Iranian oil in a strategy of economic pressure], American ‘security’ advisers to the Shah’s Savak secret police implemented a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah. At the same time, the Carter administration cynically began protesting abuses of ‘human rights’ under the Shah,” and the strategy even entailed using the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), which “gave the Ayatollah Khomeni a full propaganda platform inside Iran during this time. The British government-owned broadcasting organization refused to give the Shah’s government an equal chance to reply.”66 Further, “during the Christmas season of 1979, one Captain Sivash Setoudeh, an Iranian naval officer and the former Iranian military attaché before the breaking of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran [in 1979], was arranging arms deliveries to [Ayatollah] Khomeni out of a premises of the US Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia.”67

      With the successful revolution/coup in Iran in 1979, the Shah was exiled to Egypt, and back in the United States, Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission co-founder and international banker David Rockefeller was approached by Princess Ashraf, the sister of the deposed Shah, who was suffering from cancer, and “she was turning for help to the man who ran one of the leading U.S. banks [Chase Manhattan – now, JP Morgan Chase], one which had made a fortune serving as the Shah’s banker for a quarter century and handling billions of dollars in Iran’s assets. Ashraf’s message was straightforward. She wanted Rockefeller to intercede with Jimmy Carter and ask the President to relent on his decision against granting the Shah refuge in the United States,” and further, “The new Iranian government also wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher.”68 And so, “a public campaign by Rockefeller – along with [Henry] Kissinger and former Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman John McCloy – to find a suitable home in exile for the Shah” was undertaken, and “Rockefeller also pressed the Shah’s case personally with Carter when the opportunity presented itself. On April 9, 1979, at the end of an Oval Office meeting on another topic, Rockefeller handed Carter a one-page memo describing the views of many foreign leaders disturbed by recent U.S. foreign policy actions, including Carter’s treatment of the Shah.” According to a Time Magazine article in 1979, “Kissinger concedes that he then made telephone calls to ‘three senior officials’ and paid two personal visits to [Secretary of State] Vance to argue that a U.S. visa should be granted the Shah. He expressed that view volubly in private conversations with many people, including journalists. He said that the last of his direct pleas was made in July. He and Rockefeller then sought to find asylum elsewhere for the Shah. Rockefeller found a temporary residence in the Bahamas, and Kissinger persuaded the government of Mexico to admit the Shah on a tourist visa.”69 Eventually their efforts were successful, as it was further revealed, “The late Shah had friends at Chase Manhattan Bank and in the highest echelons of trilateral power. David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger played instrumental roles in arranging the Shah’s exile and shaping US policy toward Iran.”70

      The Shah later recounted his experience of the 1979 Revolution, saying “I did not know it then – perhaps I did not want to know – but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted … What was I to make of the Administration’s sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State [and Bilderberg member] George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? … Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country,” and as Engdahl notes, “the new Khomeni regime had singled out the country’s nuclear power development plans and announced cancellation of the entire program for French and German nuclear reactor construction.”71 Following this, Iran cut off its oil exports to the world, coinciding with Saudi Arabia cutting its oil production drastically and British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts, which resulted in soaring oil prices.

      For those who find this strategy of the British and Americans engineering the Iranian Revolution in 1979 far-fetched and implausible, in as much as on the face of it, it seemed to work against the interests of the United States and Britain, all that is needed is a quick glance at another precedent of this activity, and you need not look further than east of Iran’s border, to Afghanistan, in the very same year, 1979. Under Brzezinski’s “Arc of Crisis” strategy, developed by Bernard Lewis and presented at the 1979 Bilderberg meeting, Afghanistan was a key target in the crosshairs of the Trilateral Administration of Jimmy Carter. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked a poignant question, “The former director of the CIA [and current Secretary of Defense], Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?” to which Brzezinski replied, “Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” The interviewer then posed the question, “Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?” to which Brzezinski very diplomatically responded, “It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.”72

      The interviewer, on a continual role of asking very pertinent and important questions, stated, “When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?” which provoked Brzezinski’s response, saying, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked whether or not he regretted supporting Islamic fundamentalism, which fostered the rise of terrorism (including the creation of Al-Qaeda), Brzezinski revealingly responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” Clearly, this was a veiled description of the strategy of “Arc of Crisis” that was imposed during that time, in fact, that very year; where Anglo-American interests (strategic or economic) were threatened, the “Arc of Crisis” was to be introduced, in an organized effort to destabilize the region. In the case of Afghanistan, it was imposed under strategic interests, being Afghanistan’s relevance to and relationship with the Soviet Union; in the case of Iran, it was largely economic interests, such as the end of the British Petroleum contract, and move towards using Iranian oil for the benefit of the Iranians in industrializing the country, that motivated the implementation of the “Arc of Crisis” in that country.

Saddam and Iraq’s New Role in the Anglo-American Alliance

      In 1980, a war broke out between Iraq and Iran, which lasted until 1988. However, there is a lot more to this war, as there is to most conflicts, than is widely understood. Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq when this war broke out, however, it is first necessary to go back several years, when Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq in order to better understand the story of the Iran-Iraq War. In 2003, Reuters News Agency reported that, “If the United States succeeds in shepherding the creation of a post-war Iraqi government, a former National Security Council official says, it won’t be the first time that Washington has played a primary role in changing that country’s rulers,” as “Roger Morris, a former State Department foreign service officer who was on the NSC [National Security Council] staff during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, says the CIA had a hand in two coups in Iraq during the darkest days of the Cold War, including a 1968 putsch that set Saddam Hussein firmly on the path to power,” and that, “in 1963, two years after the ill-fated U.S. attempt at overthrow in Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs, the CIA helped organize a bloody coup in Iraq that deposed the Soviet-leaning government of Gen. Abdel-Karim Kassem.”73 Further, “Kassem, who had allowed communists to hold positions of responsibility in his government, was machine-gunned to death. And the country wound up in the hands of the Baath party. At the time, Morris continues, Saddam was a Baath operative studying law in Cairo, one of the venues the CIA chose to plan the coup,” and “In fact, he claims the former Iraqi president castigated by President George W. Bush as one of history’s most ‘brutal dictators’ was actually on the CIA payroll in those days.”

      The article continued, “In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by long-time Saddam mentor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to his ambitious protégé in 1979,” and that, “Morris, who resigned from the NSC staff over the 1970 U.S. invasion of Cambodia, says he learned the details of American covert involvement in Iraq from ranking CIA officials of the day, including Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson, Archibald Roosevelt.” It’s also interesting to note that it was Teddy Roosevelt’s other grandson, Kermit Roosevelt, who was pivotal in organizing and orchestrating the 1953 coup in Iran, so it is likely that Morris’ assertions are correct, as Archibald Roosevelt would have a very keen understanding of the highly covert elements of CIA operations.

      However, this is not the only source on this important story, as the Indo-Asian News Service reported in 2003, that “American intelligence operatives used him [Saddam] as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former US intelligence officials and diplomats,” and that, “While many have thought that Saddam Hussein became involved with US intelligence agencies from the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts date back to 1959 when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi prime minister General Abd al-Karim Qasim.”74 The article continued, “In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy [which was put into power by the British]. According to US officials, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For example, in the mid-1950s, Iraq was quick to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan. Little attention was paid to Qasim’s bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959,” and so, “The assassination was set for October 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. One former CIA official said the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and fired too soon, killing Qasim’s driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam Hussein, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. He then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut.” From there, “the CIA paid for Saddam Hussein’s apartment and put him through a brief training course. The agency then helped him get to Cairo. During this time Saddam made frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew him. In February 1963, Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. Morris claimed that the CIA was behind the coup.”

      Newsmax also reported this story, stating that directly after the coup, “the agency quickly moved into action. Noting that the Baath Party was hunting down Iraq’s communists, the CIA provided the submachine gun-toting Iraqi National Guardsmen with lists of suspected communists who were then jailed, interrogated, and summarily gunned down, according to former U.S. intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the executions,” and that, “A former senior CIA official said: ‘It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran’s communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed’.”75 Another report of this came out through Consortium News, which wrote a story about the confessions of a retired CIA official, James Critchfield, who explained that, “In 1959, a young Saddam Hussein, allegedly in cahoots with the CIA, botched an assassination attempt on Iraq’s leader, Gen. Abdel Karim Qassim. Hussein fled Iraq and reportedly hid out under the CIA’s protection and sponsorship,” and “By early 1963, Qassim’s policies were raising new alarms in Washington. He had withdrawn Iraq from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact, made friendly overtures to Moscow, and revoked oil exploration rights granted by a predecessor to a consortium of companies that included American oil interests.”76 It further reported that, “It fell to Critchfield, who was then in an extended tenure in charge of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division, to remove Qassim. Critchfield supported a coup d’etat in February 1963 that was spearheaded by Iraq’s Baathist party. The troublesome Qassim was killed, as were scores of suspected communists who had been identified by the CIA,” and that “The 1963 coup also paved the way for another momentous political development. Five years later, Saddam Hussein emerged as a leader in another Baathist coup. Over the next decade, he bullied his way to power, eventually consolidating a ruthless dictatorship that would lead to three wars in less than a quarter century.”

      So, jump ahead to 1980, when Saddam Hussein was still a US puppet, and when the Iran-Iraq War began. The Iran-Iraq War “followed months of rising tension between the Iranian Islamic republic and secular nationalist Iraq. In mid-September 1980 Iraq attacked, in the mistaken belief that Iranian political disarray would guarantee a quick victory.”77 However, Dr. Francis Boyle, an international law professor who also has a PhD in political science from Harvard, and former board member of Amnesty International, wrote an article for Counterpunch in which he stated that, “There were several indications from the public record that the Carter Administration tacitly condoned, if not actively encouraged, the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September of l980,” and that, “Presumably the Iraqi army could render Iranian oil fields inoperable and, unlike American marines, do so without provoking the Soviet Union to exercise its alleged right of counter-intervention.”78 Boyle continued, “The report by columnist Jack Anderson that the Carter Administration was seriously considering an invasion of Iran to seize its oil fields in the Fall of l980 as a last minute fillip to bolster his prospects for reelection was credible.” In 1981, Carter lost his re-election to Ronald Reagan, and “At the outset of the Reagan Administration, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and his mentor, Henry Kissinger, devoted a good deal of time to publicly lamenting the dire need for a ‘geopolitical’ approach to American foreign policy decision-making, one premised on a ‘grand theory’ or ‘strategic design’ of international relations,” and Boyle continued, “Consequently, Haig quite myopically viewed the myriad of problems in the Persian Gulf, Middle East, and Southwest Asia primarily within the context of a supposed struggle for control over the entire world between the United States and the Soviet Union. Haig erroneously concluded that this global confrontation required the United States to forge a ‘strategic consensus’ with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Sheikhdoms and Pakistan in order to resist anticipated Soviet aggression in the region.”

      As the National Security Archive reported, “Initially, Iraq advanced far into Iranian territory, but was driven back within months. By mid-1982, Iraq was on the defensive against Iranian human-wave attacks. The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism,” and that “Prolonging the war was phenomenally expensive. Iraq received massive external financial support from the Gulf states, and assistance through loan programs from the U.S. The White House and State Department pressured the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financing, to enhance its credit standing and enable it to obtain loans from other international financial institutions. The U.S. Agriculture Department provided taxpayer-guaranteed loans for purchases of American commodities, to the satisfaction of U.S. grain exporters.”79 The Archive, which draws all their information from declassified government documents which they have available for all to see on their site, further stated, “The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country’s [America’s] official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan,” and it continued, “By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints.”

      The Archive further explained that, “The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran’s accusations, and describing Iraq’s “almost daily” use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war,” and that “The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against ‘Kurdish insurgents’ as well”. The Archives further reveal that, “Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford’s defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish ‘direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein,’ while emphasizing ‘his close relationship’ with the president. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.’s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq’s oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran’s ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting.” This was the incident in which the now-infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld (who was George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense until 2007) shaking hands with Saddam Hussein was taken.

      It was further reported that, “The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group,” and that “This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. ‘When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind,’ the former official told UPI.”80 The article continued, “A former CIA official said that Saddam had assigned a top team of three senior officers from the Estikhbarat, Iraq’s military intelligence, to meet with the Americans,” and that “the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam’s ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days.”

      On top of all this, the London Independent reported in 2002 that, “Iraq’s 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France, that supported Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program,” and it continued, “British officials said the list of companies appeared to be accurate. Eighty German firms and 24 US companies are reported to have supplied Iraq with equipment and know-how for its weapons programs from 1975 onwards.”81 The article further stated that, “From about 1975 onwards, these companies are shown to have supplied entire complexes, building elements, basic materials and technical know-how for Saddam Hussein’s program to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction,” which would have included the weapons used against the Iranians and Kurds in the north of Iraq, which constituted war crimes.

Iran Contra: The Double Standard Status Quo

      Also during the Iran-Iraq War, “On November 25, 1986, the biggest political and constitutional scandal since Watergate exploded in Washington when President Ronald Reagan told a packed White House news conference that funds derived from covert arms deals with the Islamic Republic of Iran had been diverted to buy weapons for the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua,” and that “In the weeks leading up to this shocking admission, news reports had exposed the U.S. role in both the Iran deals and the secret support for the Contras, but Reagan’s announcement, in which he named two subordinates — National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter and NSC [National Security Council] staffer Oliver L. North — as the responsible parties, was the first to link the two operations.”82 As the National Security Archive reported, “Of all the revelations that emerged, the most galling for the American public was the president’s abandonment of the long-standing policy against dealing with terrorists, which Reagan repeatedly denied doing in spite of overwhelming evidence that made it appear he was simply lying to cover up the story,” and further, “Iran-Contra was a battle over presidential power dating back directly to the Richard Nixon era of Watergate, Vietnam and CIA dirty tricks. That clash continues under the presidency of George W. Bush, which has come under frequent fire for the controversial efforts of the president, as well as Vice President Richard Cheney, to expand Executive Branch authority over numerous areas of public life.”

      As Webster Tarpley wrote in his book, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, of which the chapter covering the Iran-Contra Affair relies primarily upon exposing George Bush’s intimate relationship with and involvement in the Affair, that Iran-Contra involved, “the secret arming of the Khomeni regime in Iran by the U.S. government, during an official U.S.-decreed arms embargo against Iran, while the U.S. publicly denounced the recipients of its secret deliveries as terrorists and kidnappers – a policy initiated under the Jimmy Carter presidency and accelerated by the Reagan-Bush administration,” in which George H.W. Bush was Vice President.83 As Tarpley put it, “many once-classified documents have come to light, which suggest that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects of the Iran-Contra adventures,”84 and that, “With the encouragement of Bush, and the absence of opponents to the scheme, President Reagan signed the authorization to arm the Khomeni regime with missiles, and keep the facts of this scheme from congressional oversight committees,” and further, an official report on the situation stated, “The proposal to shift to direct U.S. arms sales to Iran . . . was considered by the president at a meeting on January 17 which only the Vice President [Bush], Mr. Regan, Mr. Fortier, and VADM Poindexter attend. Thereafter, the only senior-level review the Iran initiative received was during one or another of the President’s daily national security briefings. These were routinely attended only by the President, the Vice President, Mr. Regan, and VADM Poindexter.”85

      Now, I will again briefly recount the information I provided regarding the Carter administration having a hand in the coup / Revolution in Iran in 1979, which installed the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeni, as I feel it is a very important point to address, largely because it is a very uncommon understanding of that event in history, as it is predominantly seen in historical context as being against the interests of the United States, and as being a disastrous situation for the US; seen as a radical Islamic revolt against America and all it ‘stands’ for. However, taking into consideration of all the other information provided thus far, it does not appear to be a very ‘radical’ or implausible understanding of that event, as similar support for and creation of radical Islamist movements is well documented, such as that which took place the same year as the revolution/coup in Afghanistan, under the same strategy of “Arc of Crisis”, and now, also taking into consideration the facts of the Iran-Contra Affair, which was one of the largest constitutional scandals in United States history and received great public attention.

      This scandal, however, was largely covered up in the official investigation done by Congress, and the facts of George Bush’s involvement, was not widely known by any means, which is no surprise considering the fact that one prominent Congressman who was investigating the Iran-Contra Affair was a man by the name of Dick Cheney, the current Vice President, who, while sitting on the investigative committee, did not apply blame to the Executive branch [President’s administration] of government for its violation of the Constitution, but instead saw fit to blame Congress for “unjustly” investigating and questioning Presidential authority.86 Most of the evidence of this important event was revealed over the years since it occurred, however, the blame was all placed on two individuals, the “fall guys”, John Poindexter and Oliver North.

      Oliver North now has his own show on Fox News,87 and Poindexter briefly worked in the George W. Bush administration, as Director of the Information Awareness Office, a large surveillance and tracking and “Big Brother” program, of which the New Yorker described as, “weird”, saying, “The Information Awareness Office’s official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is ‘Scientia Est Potentia,’ which doesn’t mean ‘science has a lot of potential.’ It means ‘knowledge is power.’ And its official mission is to ‘imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness’,” and further, “the Office’s main assignment is, basically, to turn everything in cyberspace about everybody—tax records, driver’s-license applications, travel records, bank records, raw F.B.I. files, telephone records, credit-card records, shopping-mall security-camera videotapes, medical records, every e-mail anybody ever sent—into a single, humongous, multi-googolplexibyte database that electronic robots will mine for patterns of information suggestive of terrorist activity”88… my God.

      The Iran-Contra Affair entailed illegally sending arms to the Khomeni government in Iran, America’s “supposed” enemy, and using that money to fund Contras, also known as terrorist organizations, in Nicaragua, which were responsible for killing many innocent civilians and orchestrating terror attacks. Incidentally, the arms were being sold to Iran at the same time that the same organization, the CIA, was providing intelligence and directions (not to mention weapons) to Iraq in its war against Iran. So, in effect, the United States, through its covert military/intelligence operations, was arming both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. Again, sounds a lot like the “Arc of Crisis” strategy. And just the very fact that they were arming the Khomeni regime warrants a closer look at the events surrounding Khomeni’s rise to power.

      As an aside, it is also very interesting to note some other individuals who were implicated in Iran-Contra (although not publicly), but since the event documentation has come about which suggests larger roles for a variety of people, including Robert Gates, who is currently the new Secretary of Defense (after Rumsfeld left), a former director of the CIA in the George H.W. Bush administration and the person who, in his memoirs, discussed the fact that the CIA helped instigate the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Other prominent names to note are Elliott Abrams, who was President Reagan’s senior State Department official for Latin America in the mid-1980s, at the height of Iran-Contra, and was later indicted for providing false testimony, and accepted his guilt, however, when Bush Sr. was President, Abrams was pardoned, and today, serves as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in the Bush Jr. administration. David Addington worked close with Cheney on the Congressional investigation as a staffer, and currently is Chief of Staff to Dick Cheney. Others, with some affiliation to Iran-Contra were Michael Ledeen, who is currently a prominent neoconservative with close ties to the Bush administration and a strong advocate of regime change in Iran, John Bolton, who was more recently George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations,also a strong advocate of war with Iran, Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, who more recently was used as an important source for the Pentagon on Iranian affairs, John Negroponte, who was in past years Bush’s Ambassador to Iraq, and was Director of National Intelligence, the head intelligence position in the United States, and is currently Deputy Secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice, and Otto Reich, who briefly served as Bush Jr’s assistant secretary of state for Latin America.89

Notes

1 Engdahl, William. “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order”.

Pluto Press: 2004, Pages 2-3.
2 Ibid. Page 4.
3 Ibid. Pages 5-6.
4 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Revolt in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Revolt%20in%20Bosnia
5 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
6 Brzezinski, Zbigniew. “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic  Imperatives”.

Basic Books: 1997, Page xiii.
7 Stavrianos, L.S. “The Balkans Since 1453”.

Rinehart and Winston: 1963, “Constantinople Conference”.

http://www.serbianunity.net/culture/history/berlin78/index.html#Constantinople%20Conference
8 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 11.
9 Black, Edwin. “Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq’s 7,000-Year History of War, Profit,  and Conflict”.

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: 2004, Page 107.
10 Ibid. Page 114.
11 Ibid. Pages 115-116.
12 Ibid. Page 126
13 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 22.
14 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 118.
15 Laffan, R.D.G. “The Serbs: The Guardians of the Gate”.

Dorset Press: 1989, Pages 163-64
16 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 24.
17 Ibid. Page 16
18 Ibid. Page 24
19 Ibid. Pages 29-30
20 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 204-205.
21 Ibid. Page 196
22 Ibid. Pages 196-197.
23 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 40-41.
24 Ibid. Page 58.
25 Black, Edwin, op cit., Page 223.
26 Ibid. Page 245
27 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 59-60.
28 Shirer, William L. “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany”

Fawcett Crest: 1992, Page 994.
29 Black, Edwin, op cit., Pages 307-308.
30 Ibid. Page 314
31 Ibid. Page 319
32 Porch, Douglas. “The Other ‘Gulf War’ – The British Invasion of Iraq in 1941”.

Center for Contemporary Conflict: December 2, 2002.

http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/rsepResources/si/dec02/middleEast.asp
33 Palast, Greg. “Armed Madhouse”.

Penguin Group: 2006, Page 79.
34 BBC. “Fact File: Persia Invaded”.

WW2 People’s War: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/timeline/factfiles/nonflash/a1130121.shtml?sectionId=3&articleId=1130121
35 Samii, Bill. “World War II — 60 Years After: The Anglo-Soviet Invasion Of Iran And  Washington-Tehran Relations”.

Payvand’s Iran News: May 7, 2005.

http://www.payvand.com/news/05/may/1047.html
36 Luce, Dan De. “The spectre of Operation Ajax”.

The Guardian: August 20, 2003.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,12858,1022065,00.html
37 Gasiorowski, Mark J., and Malcolm Byrne. “Mohammad Mosaddeq and  the 1953 Coup in Iran”.

The National Security Archive: June 22, 2004.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB126/index.htm
38 Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The C.I.A in Iran.”

The New York Times: 2000.

http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html
39 Goodman, Amy. “50 Years After the CIA’s First Overthrow of a Democratically  Elected Foreign Government We Take a Look at the 1953 US Backed Coup in  Iran”.

Democracy Now!: August 25th, 2003

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/08/25/1534210
40 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 96.
41 Ibid. Page 97
42 Library of Congress Country Studies: “Iran: SAVAK”. December, 1987:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ir0187
43 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 135-136.
44 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons. “The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western  Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People”.

St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994, Page 309.
45 Ibid. Page 310.
46 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 136.
47 Loftus, John and Mark Aarons, op cit., Pages 310-311.
48 Reuters. “Book says Kissinger delayed telling Nixon about Yom Kippur War”

Haaretz: April 5, 2007.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/845041.html
49 Ibid. Pages 136-137
50 Ibid. Pages 286-287
51 Ibid. Page 137
52 Ibid. Page 138
53 Sklar, Holly. “Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World  Management.”

South End Press: 1980, Pages 1-2.
54 Ibid. Page 30.
55 Ibid. Pages 99-109.
56 Ibid. Page 202
57 Ibid. Pages 91-92
58 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 169-170.
59 Ibid. Page 171
60 Tarpley, Webster G. “George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography”.

Executive Intelligence Review: 1992, Page 353.
61 Peters, Alan. “Role of US Former Pres. Carter Emerging in Illegal Financial Demands  on Shah of Iran”.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily: Volume XXII, No. 46 Monday, March 15, 2004

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1516436/posts
62 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
63 Lenczowski, George. “The Arc of Crisis: Its Central Sector”.

Foreign Affairs: Spring, 1979

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19790301faessay9917/george-lenczowski/the-arc-of-crisis-its-central-sector.html
64 Cheney, Dick. “Vice President’s Remarks at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia  Luncheon Honoring Professor Bernard Lewis”.

White House: May 1, 2006.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/20060501-3.html
65 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 171.
66 Ibid. Page 172
67 Tarpley, Webster G, op cit., Page 354.
68 Parry, Robert. “David Rockefeller & October Surprise Case”.

Consortium News: April 15, 2005

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2005/041505.html
69 Time. “Who Helped the Shah How Much?”

Time Magazine: December 10, 1979

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,912546-2,00.html
70 Sklar, Holly, op cit., Page 569.
71 Engdahl, William, op cit., Pages 172-173.
72 Blum, Bill. “The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan: Interview with Zbigniew  Brzezinski”.

Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html
73 Morgan, David. “Ex-U.S. official says CIA aided Baathists”.

Reuters News Agency: April 20, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/ex_us_officials_says_cia_aided_baathists.html
74 IANS. “Flash Back: How the CIA found and groomed Saddam”.

Indo-Asian news Service: April 16, 2003.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/how_the_cia_found_and_groomed_saddam.html
75 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
76 Meldon, Jerry. “A CIA Officer’s Calamitous Choices.”

Consortium News: May 15, 2003

http://www.consortiumnews.com/Print/051503a.html
77 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
78 Boyle, Francis A. “US Policy Toward the Iran/Iraq War”.

Counter Punch: December 14, 2002.

http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle1214.html
79 Battle, Joyce. “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980- 1984”.

National Security Archive: February 25, 2003.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
80 Newsmax Wires. “Saddam Key in Early CIA Plot”.

United Press International: April 11, 2003.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/4/10/205859.shtml
81 Paterson, Tony. “Leaked Report Says German and US Firms Supplied Arms to  Saddam”.

The Independent: December 18, 2002.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1218-06.htm
82 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
83 Tarpley, Webster G., op cit., Page 385.
84 Ibid. Page 386
85 Ibid. Pages 408-409
86 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm
87 FoxNews. “War Stories With Oliver North”.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50566,00.html
88 Hertzberg, Hendrik. “Too Much Information.”

The New Yorker: December 9, 2002.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/12/09/021209ta_talk_hertzberg
89 Byrne, Malcolm, et al. “The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On.”

The National Security Archive: November 24, 2006

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB210/index.htm

Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

What Comes After The U.S. Empire?

July 21, 2007

What Comes After The U.S. Empire? 

Introductory Speech at the TRANSCEND International Meeting – 6-12 June 2007, Vienna, Austria

By Johan Galtung 

07/20/07 “ICH — – I first want to say a few words about the current G8 meeting, and then talk about major conflicts in the world. This will cover much of the world situation, a reflection on global capitalism, and the US Empire and its imminent demise and what will happen after that. 

            The G8 meeting is actually an act of sabotage, and in my view a deliberate one. It sabotages and undermines the UN. In 1975, the meeting was established as a small forum for intimate meetings between 3 leaders from each participating country. However, from a purely economic agenda it has become much more, incorporating a lot of UN agenda items (security issues and global warming etc.) and thereby actually hijacking the subjects of global importance to about 8 countries only. Russia, which was invited under Yeltsin, is the black sheep in the community. Also, not inviting Chindia is a guarantee for sabotage, as is talking about Africa without having even one African representative present. The good news is that there were 100’000 demonstrators, and the bad news is that there were some violent idiots. 

            If the nonviolent majority could practice the technique of 20 nonviolent encircling every violent one in a nonviolent way, incapacitating their capacity for violence, it would be an enormous feat. There is, however another piece of what I would call bad news; the 100’000 without constructive, positive ideas. I’ve gone through the whole rigmarole of the slogans. Personally, I don’t like the slogans against globalization; there is no way in the world to stop globalization because it is driven by things we all love: communication and transportation. We are not going to turn that backwards. A good slogan would be “another globalization is possible” and spelling out that better globalization as opposed to the economically exploitative process we know. 

            So, having said that, we have dark days in front of us. We have impending climate and economic disaster and on top of that a political military issue, the so-called Shield. There isn’t hardly a person in the world who believes it is against Iran. It is a part of a policy started in 1996, counter-posing against each other, on the one hand NATO and AMPO (the US-JAPAN arrangement), and on the other hand the SCO countries, the biggest alliance in human history: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with 6 full members and 3 observers. The 6 members are China, Russia and four of the former Central Asian republics, excluding Turkmenistan. The three observers are India, Pakistan and Iran. Together, it’s about 50% of humanity, confronting a relatively small country called the United States of America, with only 300’000’000, not a very impressive size these days. 

            I have said this, knowing that of the 10 points of the Project for the New American Century–written by people who are still in power, although there is an erosion among them–point number 7 is to change regime in China. I am of the opinion that whatever be the method, that the Chinese will rather do the change of regime themselves, and are not enthusiastic about being encircled. It is the major conflict confrontation of the world today, between NATO/AMPO and SCO, and since it is the major one, it is also the one least talked about. The Shield has to neutralize missiles from Russia and China. I think Putin understood it correctly in Munich, and sees it in the light of the cancellation of the ABM treaty, which was a cornerstone of the peaceful development during the Cold War. It was canceled unilaterally by the United States, The anti-missile capacities in the Czech Republic and Poland come on top of the US and NATO breaking the promises made to Gorbachev at the end of the Cold War: that the Soviet Union would withdraw from Eastern Europe, including Eastern Germany, and the United States would not follow suit, whereupon the United States had filled almost every base opportunity, and enrolled practically speaking all the countries in NATO. That has heightened the tension immensely. Whether it will dominate the Heiligendamm [G8 meeting] meeting, I don’t know, but I would imagine that it could be quite important. The guess is that the US would do anything they can in order to bribe the citizens of the villages selected in Poland and the Czech Republic with high amounts of money in order not to demonstrate against. So, G8 spells only bad news, as introduction to the six conflicts: 

1.         Economic Contradiction: Global Capitalism 

            Let me just say a word about global capitalism. The two antidotes to the market mechanism that have been effective have been, on the one hand, a welfare state, and on the other hand, protectionism. Microcredit, you can forget about it, these are small drops in the bucket, giving relief to some small groups. The countries that practice it most, Bangladesh and Bolivia, are still at the bottom, economically speaking. The combination of selective protectionism and welfare state, that is the real stuff. The way Japan did it, the way Taiwan did it, the way South Korea did it, the way Hong Kong did it, the way Singapore did it, the way Malaysia did it, with considerable success. You find in the whole of the East Asia/South East Asia conglomerate countries that have been doing exactly this. That is important, and the neo-liberal free market syndrome is of course against that. They are doing everything they can to eliminate the two factors. That means that the global market place becomes a vertical assembly line for the transportation of capital from the bottom to the top. And this works with three mechanisms: monetization, privatization and globalization, border-free market, of which globalization is the least important. The most important is monetization, setting a monetary price on everything. It is the most important because it means that those who have no money have no chance, and they are about 1’000’000’000. Their option, that is very clear, is to join the ranks of the dying; 125’000 dying every day with 25’000 starving and 100’000 dying from preventable and curable diseases,  for which cures exist, but they are monetized. User’s fees in Africa are a disaster. All of this is known today! Adam Smith warned against unmitigated markets; David Ricardo warned against unmitigated labor markets in periods with high labor supply, saying that it would have lasting unemployment as a result, and extreme poverty among the labor. 

            From global capitalism as it is operating today, we can expect no solution to these problems. So let me then add the kind of approach that I, as one person, would advocate; taming capitalism, by introducing at the same time about 14 other types of economies. In other words, it is a little bit like the thinking about energy: we don’t say an unconditional no to hydrocarbons, but we introduce 6, 7, 8 other methods. The energy profile becomes complex. Time does not permit me to get into all 14, I’ll not do it, some of you have the manuscript and the book A Life-Sustaining Economy is close to completion. The point I am arguing is a pluralistic economy. There is no single formula that covers all the alternatives, and the pluralistic profile must be adjusted to the preconditions in space and time. 

2.         Military Contradiction: Terrorism and State Terrorism 

            Number two on this list is the military contradiction between terrorism and state terrorism. The USA state contradiction on terrorism has now entered military intervention number 73 since the Second World War; Number 73 being what they are doing in Lebanon right now: killing Palestinians. There are 470’000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, almost half a million, scattered in camps from the north to the south. We now know the number of the people who were driven out of the territory that became the Jewish state during the Naqba, the Catastrophe: the number of Palestinians driven out was 711’000, very far from ‘a couple of thousand’. It is a very major number for a small nation. Some of them, not necessarily in that period, found their way to Lebanon. This is number 73 and the number of people killed in overt Pentagon-driven military action after the Second World War is now between 13 and 17 million. The number of people killed in covert action is at least 6 million. The number of people killed by structural violence could be 125’000 people per day, but for that the USA is not alone responsible. What the USA is responsible for is giving the military cover for that economic system. You can go through the total amount of interventions, 243, since Thomas Jefferson started, and you will find that almost without exception the interventions are triggered by some political action that sounds like or might lead to redistribution of wealth and power somewhere in the world. So, you get this endless pairing: intervening when the Sandinistas are in power but not when Somoza is in power, intervening when Chavez is in power but not when, for instance, Jimenez is in power. Both of them were darlings of the International Monetary Fund, a solid pillar of exploitation. 

Iraq 

            Right now the major arena is Iraq, the coming arena may be Iran. One particularly gifted journalist, Andreas Zumach, has written an article saying that for the Iran war everything is prepared. It is totally wrong to assume that because the US has problems in Iraq it will not attack Iran. I will also say that it is totally wrong to assume that the US is losing in Iraq. You will only assume that if you assume that the major goal of the United States is a cohesive Iraq entity that has some semblance to parliamentary democracy. If you look at the real goals, oil and military bases, they may ever be winning. There could be an oil law, the chances that it could be passed are not that small. And it is the Paul Bremer concept they are working on that essentially presupposes that the oil resources are put on the global market, bought up by the 5 big companies, with 100% repatriation of profit. 

            It is sometimes pointed out that the US Empire is not colonial. That is correct. They had colonies in the past, after they in 1898 stepped into the Spanish empire and acquired some major indigenous problems. One interesting thing about colonialism, however, is that it gave colonizers some paternalistic sense of responsibility that you can forget about when it comes to what’s going on under imperialism. 

            Let me just add one point to that. I find the idea of pulling out of Iraq one of the most cowardly, dishonorable ideas I can imagine, so let me immediately formulate an alternative. Shed the uniform, and start helping the Iraqi people you have brutalized. Compensate, apologize, you have a lot of infrastructure at your disposal, you US army could still do a decent job. And one of the worst proposals in addition to that is to say “Just go to your bases and stay there”. Those bases are for the coming war with SCO, that’s why they are there. Have a look at the analysis of the length of the runways and you will see the purpose behind them. 

            Let me come back for a second to the idea of pulling out, which in my mind is such a bad idea that we could expect it from the US. What it means is that you pull out so that you don’t suffer any humiliating defeat. You make yourself unavailable for defeat. I can understand the reason, it is not difficult. The 30th April 1975, the humiliating defeat in Vietnam became a major trauma. To avoid that situation is the priority of course, pulling out better than to continue killing, but, I just think one should call a spade a spade, and no way I see cut and run as peaceful action. We shouldn’t, I would say, contaminate the concept of peace with cowardice, trying to “save face” after having killed 750’000 so far. Multiply that by 10 for the bereaved–the persons who feel the loss of a friend, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a child, a parent, a colleague, a neighbor–multiply 750’000 by 10 and you have an estimate of the hatred that has been created. Add to that the 4 million who are displaced, some of them among the 7,5 million I just mentioned; and add to that the psychosis induced in the high number of US military who have been to Iraq; and add to that the about 25’000 wounded who have come back to the US and you may probably add 10% of them dying. The definition of a person of the US army personnel killed in the war is that he dies in Iraq, that means “Put them on the plane get them to Walter Ried as quickly as possible, don’t let them die in Iraq”. I am not saying that to get somewhere closer to realism when discussing this enormity. 

            Why don’t the USA with some allies win? Because they are against an enemy that is unconquerable, and why is that? Because of “asymmetric warfare” is too sterile. Of course they are using “improvised explosive” devices against these sophisticated things that the US army used. But they have two more arms at their disposal: time and space. 

            An unlimited time perspective. There is no point called “capitulation” in their rules, that can just be forgotten, it belonged to the old days. We are dealing with a type of warfare where what used to be called the weaker party has any amount of time at its disposal. These people are trained in fighting a government empire for 400, 500 years, like the Serbs were fighting the Turks for 500 years. The Orthodox, among the three Christianities, have a time perspective very similar to the Islamic one. I don’t think you will find 500 years patience in Washington, maybe not even 5 months for that matter. 

            And, they have space, there are 57 members of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. 56 of them are states, number 57 are the 160 million or so Muslims in India. Most of the borders of the 56 countries are drawn by the West; they are borders that make no sense to Islam at all. That doesn’t mean there are no fault lines inside Islam. More important than Shia-Sunni is probably Arab-non-Arab. The non-Arab countries are in the majority, of the 56 only 22 are Arab. Of the 1.350.000.000 Muslims, 300.000.000 are Arab. If the Arabs feel that the religion is essentially theirs, then they are in a minority position. That is becoming something interesting, and of course the US plays on those fault lines. It seemed to work as long as they were dealing with Khomeini, he is a Shia, the “bad” Islam. But, bin Laden, a Wahab, was a Sunni, and didn’t look much more attractive than Khomeini. So something went wrong somehow with that Harvard University distinction. 

            Harvard University, by the way, is the university that by far has contributed most economists to the neo-liberal attack on humanity. Like Jeffrey Sachs, a major person in the destruction of Bolivia and of Russia, and now proceeding to the whole world. He has changed his rhetoric, even humanized the rhetoric. But if we look at the measures, they look very much like what he did to Bolivia and Russia. 

            Having said that, if you have time and space on your side, then you are dealing with enormous resources. In principle, the whole Islamic world is on the other side. This constitutes the “Clash of Civilizations” that Samuel Huntington’s publisher stole from Bernard Lewis, a far more important intellectual, professor at Princeton University, and a major advisor to Cheney. One of those who, more than anybody else, has whispered in Cheney’s ears “Attack Iraq!”. Everybody is blaming Samuel Huntington, best read the book, you’ll find almost nothing about civilization. Read Bernard Lewis, and you will find quite a lot, particularly about Islam. 

            It is a complete mistake to talk about this as a civilizational-religious clash only. It’s economic, military, political, it’s the full house. The more one says the “clash of civilizations”, the more is one inclined to forget the economic, political, military interests hidden underneath. It must be wonderful for Washington to have all this clash-of-civilization-talk and establish 14 military bases, and then try to put your paw on all the oil. “Keep them discussing civilization”. And this of courseis why we need the concept of imperialism, because it is holistic, one reason why the concept does not have a very high standing in the USA. The war of state terrorism against terrorism is an elitist warfare against peoples warfare. The people’s war is close to unbeatable, but it may take time. That holds for Iraq and it holds for Afghanistan. Anybody who knows a little bit of the history of Afghanistan and the British attacks in 1838 and 1878 and the Soviet attack in 1978, also know how it ended; with humiliating defeats. The one in 1878 ended even with the massacre in the British embassy in Kabul in 1883. I think they would have wished for good life insurances for those people. 

            How is it possible to enter a thing when so much knowledge would indicate otherwise, with all these negative indicators? Is it permissible to be that ignorant of history? To deny entirely a whole lot of facts that nevertheless somehow play a role? I myself think we give much too much credit to facts, but some facts are quite useful. It tells a lot to have a President who has both ignorance and denial fitted into his mental framework, but I would warn strongly against associating the calamity with Bush alone. 

            The US empire is resting on a deep structure and a deep culture. Let me take the deep culture first. There is both Chosenness, the vision of past and present glory, and a strong sense of trauma. There is Dualism, Manichaeism, and the sense that Armageddon will solve it. But, this is no Republican monopoly. It is found in both corporate parties, with some fringes that feel some uneasiness. And, of course, of those, the Republicans have suffered the humiliation of losing the elections. But the two parties re-cohered, voted for the “surge”, voted for 100 billion more money, adding some clauses. In other words, we are faced with a Republican Democrat entity, a Repucrat, Repurat, whatever we want to call it; a single-party coalition with two wings. That was the bad news, the good news are the 50% who don’t vote. Somewhere in those 50% there is a solution, not as one person. In other words, there is good news and bad news. 

            How does a person like Andreas Zumach, very well informed, think that the war against Iran will be? It could be based on a provocation, constructed, fake and false. Like Racak in Kosovo. A Finnish forensic specialist has now released her report which was silenced by Joschka Fischer at a critical moment, and the report on Racak is very clear: there was a gun-powder slam, but, the slam was on their hands and not on the neck. In other words, it was on those who had been shooting, not on the executed victims. Killing had been done in an ordinary manner and they then assembled the corpses and lay them out. They need a US ambassador to make that, it bears the stamp of William Walker. The total number of killed in Kosovo was not 150’000, but 8’000 over the years, 5’000 Albanians and 3’000 Serbs. I am just saying that because we have been treated to lies, and if there is the war against Iran it will be initiated by lies. To propagate those lies we have the corporate press, meaning press owned by the corporation. Information is easily arranged. 

            From the plans that have emerged it looks as if the 100’000 targets have been identified in Iran. These targets include not only some nuclear arrangements, but the total military infrastructure of the country, that means any kind of center of command, naval points, air bases, anything that has to do with missiles. But that would only amount to one half of the 100’000 targets, the other targets would be anything that has to do with civilian infrastructure in the sense of railroads, airports, roads of course, sewerage, bridges, canals or watering, electric power plants, anything that keeps the civilian population going. Starting at 5 am some morning, 100’000 targets, in association with Israel. As far as I understand the Iranian counterattack will be considerable. I don’t know, but I could guess there could be dirty bombs inside the US, ignited by remote control. Only an idiot will use missiles. They will of course use totally different methods. So I mention it as an example of what we may be facing. 

Afghanistan 

            In March I was invited to give a talk for three ministries in the UK, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry or Department of Defense, and the Department for International Development (DFID). It was organized by the latter. I was a little surprised when I was asked to give the keynote address, and in the chair was the former Foreign Minister. The keynote was about Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. And since I have just been mentioning Afghanistan, let me say some words about what I saw as possible solutions. The basic point I have just made: you can forget any possibility of winning. You may have a lull, and God bless you when it comes to what happens after the lull: Osama bin Laden. You can also forget calling your enemy Taliban, Talib means “student”, it’s a highly anti-student type of word, you can forget about that too. We are essentially dealing with the Afghan people. I remember a discussion I had myself in that meeting, with an Afghan general. He gave a talk about how many small weapons he had confiscated, 90’000, and how his forces were fighting. And I said to him “General, tell me a little bit more about that fighting”, and he looked at me and said, “Of course it doesn’t work. I cannot ask my Afghan troops to kill Afghans, it makes no sense for them. The Russians, no problem.” He didn’t say, but he was thinking “Americans, no problem”, but that was not politically correct at such a conference in London. I will never forget how the twinkle in his eyes met with the twinkle in mine, twinkle meets twinkle, and we understood each other perfectly. 

            The 5 points that would give a solution to Afghanistan would be the following from the TRANSCEND mediation in Peshawar in February 2001. 

1.         Make a Coalition Government with the Taliban. 100% Taliban is intolerable. But the Taliban has a moral fiber, which most others don’t have. If you eliminate them you will get heroin and corruption and not much more. They are needed. 

2.         Afghanistan is the material from which a Federation is made, not a unitary state, even if the Northern Alliance based on Tadjiks and Pashtuns with Kabul in the middle, count for half. There are at least ten others. To call potential Prime Ministers “warlords” is an insult. You have to be very much removed from reality to believe that by insulting them you can eliminate them or make them your friends. 

3.         A Central Asian Community surrounding Afghanistan with the countries that contribute to the national mosaic that is Afghanistan, the Pashtuns from Pakistan, the Tadjiks from Tadjikistan and the Dari-speaking from Iran, and so on and so forth, would make a lot of sense. That will include Kashmir, and Pakistan, and Iran. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has almost realized it. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization does not publish much, but moves in very, very clever, slow, movements. It moves so slowly that the journalists do not discover it, because it would have to move from day to day in order for a jour-nal to record it. 

4.         Make Basic Needs the leading line of the Government policy. That means food, education, health, clothing, whatever is needed for the somatic human being, shared by all, and available to men and women alike. That last problem can only be solved on a Quranic basis, and is being solved in a number of Islamic countries. One of the most interesting solutions was by Saddam Hussein, number 3 of the 14 good things he did. He told the Iraqi women, “From tomorrow on you decide whether to wear the hijaab or not. Only you. And if anybody tries to change your view come to me.” Now, to come to Saddam Hussein was not a very appetizing invitation, so this was definitely under threat, but it worked. It created a very, very vibrant group of women in Iraqi society. That of courseis now all disappearing. 

5.         Security, provided by cooperation between the UN Security Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The UN Security Council has a veto nucleus of 4 Christian powers, and one Confucian. It has no legitimacy whatsoever in the Muslim world, that has to be understood. To believe that one can organize a UNSC-sponsored security operation in a country that hates the UN, not only because of the composition of the Security Council, but for having killed 1 million through the Iraq sanctions, is naive. And they gave a very clear expression for their hatred by killing the Secretary-General’s representative in the Iraq UN building. It doesn’t help much to call the people who did it “extremists”. In the war we had against the German occupation in Norway, the people who did violent acts were extremists, and most people were sitting on the fence, applauding. But, don’t be confused, don’t call the fence-sitters moderates. They were waiting for the wind to blow a little bit more clearly and then jumped down taking a clear stand. 

            With those 5 points, I think one could arrive at something. It is not for us to impose any solution on anybody, and TRANSCEND in this case was essentially the Canadians. I was an adjunct. One of them was an Afghan Canadian, Seddiq Veera, of considerable diplomatic acumen. When that report was read in front of the working groups, a former Cabinet Member said “This is the best I’ve ever seen, the only problem is it has no chance… Why, because,” he added, “the Americans will attack us in October 2001, because they want to control pipelines, and they want bases.” So I asked him, “How do you know that?”. And he said, “Would you mind coming to my room this evening?” The room was very dark, and had a considerable amount of electronics, and quite good assistants who were very discrete, and he presented quite a lot of very interesting pictures. “When the Americans attack in October, they will put their military bases exactly here”, he took a map and put his finger exactly where a major base is today. You will of course remember that this was to be exact seven months before 9/11. 

            But having said that, the question comes up: “How does one move a plan like those 5 points?” Well, the reports from the conference, with the keynote address, is there, circulated to all kinds of governmental circles, not only in England. I don’t know, but we need a better dissemination technique. The corporate press will do their best to deny us that access, because we are uncontrollable, unpredictable. And I think they want it to remain like that, and so do we. 

3.         Nations and States Contradiction: 200 States, 2000 Nations 

            Let me go on to number three, very briefly, 200 states, 2000 nations. In Kosova they are now practicing the principle of self-determination. They are not practicing it in Republica Srpska, they are not practicing it in Transdniestria, they are not practicing it for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. They are practicing it where they want to practice it. What TRANSCEND tries to do is to open the space between independence and unitary states. And we have a lot of research done and a lot of experience when it comes to the range of in between points. And the three best known points are of course federation, confederation and devolution. Those are in-between parts. We did not have any success so far in Sri Lanka. The parties are not convinced that they can win, but they are convinced that they can deprive the other side from winning. Not quite the same, but almost equally good. If both of them want to deprive the other side of winning it can go on for a considerable amount of time, because you won’t even have the mechanism of victory or capitulation which sets some full stop, for some period. They needed of course the cease-fire agreement brokered by the Norwegian government in order to arm and re-deploy, and both parties make use of it. During that period, there was not a single serious effort to solve the conflict; certainly not by the Norwegian government, nor by the others. A very sad picture. And I’m afraid that whatever beautiful peace-building efforts one can make, it has limited impact. There has to be a solution. The good news from my own experience: the moment you do have a solution, it is incredible how much bad sentiment and behavior can evaporate quickly because the solution is there. 

4.         Cultural Contradiction: Islam vs Christianity 

            Number four, the cultural one. Imagine that you take the TRANSCEND 5 point diagram and you simply say Islam hates Christianity, wants to kick it out, and Christianity hates Islam, wants to kick it out. That formula is called intolerance. We are against that. There is the neither/nor possibility they may both conclude that there is something crazy in both religions. Let us turn to Buddhism, or let’s become secular. Secularism, I think, can partly be traced back to the 30 years war in Europe (1618 – 48). I don’t have the historical evidence, but I have at least the hypothesis that a high number of people came to the conclusion that if these are two Christianities that both define themselves as the only correct one, and that’s the way they treat each other, there must be something basically wrong in the whole Christian message. At the time, they did not have alternative religion, so they turned to secularism. 

            Secularism supported itself as science, and they fell into a very deep dark hole. Science, as you know, is based on data as the ultimate arbiter between hypotheses. But, data come from the past. In opting for science you give the past practically speaking 100 percent of the power. I have been struggling almost all my life to develop epistemology that does not take that dramatic position, but maneuvering even-handedly between past and future. It means that you give the potential, the negatively non-existing, as much praise as the positively existing. The moment secularism allies itself with science, it allies itself with the past. It is very easy to understand why they do it: because they are Christians, maybe Jews, maybe Muslims, and God created the world, and if God is perfection then His work must also be perfection. To talk about an alternative future is to challenge the creation. Any alternative future from a science point of view is speculation. From that point of view Darwinism and intelligent design are very very similar. The driving forces are in the past. What could be a true global future of this relation? We should draw on the potential of future wishes, of the dreams and the wishes and the values as an equally important part of the intellectual enterprise, and here I am not with Noam Chomsky. Brilliant, he is a digger for facts, and I dig him too. But he is chemically free from any concrete, constructive and creative future. There isn’t one single idea except “writing a letter to your Congressman”. And he has proven again and again and again how futile that exercise is. He is called the major intellectual in the world. 

            So, having said that, I am very much attracted by a statement by an Iranian, and that statement by an Iranian is as follows. I will read it to you in English. It is the 14th Century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz and his ultimate words about the distinction and struggle between Christianity and Islam: 

            “I have learned so much from God that I can no longer call myself a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew. The truth has shed so much of itself in me that I can no longer call myself a man, a woman…”. 

            The latter is going a little bit too far, I’m not sure I can follow him into that! 

            “…An angel or even a pure soul, love has befriended Hafiz so completely, has turned to passion, freed me of every concept and image my mind has ever loved… man/woman, thing.” 

            And that is what I for reasons of time will say about number 5 on the list: 

5.         Sufism 

            It comes straight out of the Axis of Evil. Ahmadinejad wrote a letter of 18 pages to Bush, a little bit repetitive at times, but a fascinating letter. What an indictment of the Western civilization that they are not even able to answer that letter. Nobody is of course expecting any answer from George Bush, but he has a couple of people: couldn’t Condi try her hand at it for instance? I mean, she is a bright woman. Why not? 

            A quote from Daoism: 

            “Sharing the suffering of others, the life and joy of others. Use the good fortune of others as your own good fortune. View the losses of others as yours.” 

            This is “we-ness”, this is swinging in harmony, two persons, or, humanity swinging in harmony, sensing each other’s delight and suffering. Compare that with the profoundly egoistic lex talionis: “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.” Why is it so profoundly egoistic? Because it ends up with my ego, somebody should do something good to me, but I’m so smart that I know that the best way to get that is to be nice to that person, you get much more from him with that method. If you treat him badly you might get nothing or worse. A light-year away from the Daoism of creating we’s. This is the kind of thing that I find fascinating in connection with religion: it is not neither/nor, it is not the compromise, it is not one dominating over the other. Better, try to take the both/and, pick up the gems from all of them, make them coalesce, cohere somehow! A fascinating challenge, a little bit ahead of its time, or then maybe not. Maybe a lot of people think that way, it only has to be released, perhaps, in public space. 

6.         The US Empire 

            Let me introduce number 6, with a quotation from the South African Nobel Prize winner in literature J.M. Coetzee. Absolutely brilliant. The essay he wrote and published in 1974, when he was 34 years old, was about South Africa and the Vietnam War. He wrote a statement about the USA, putting it in the working of a specialist in a U.S. think tank in California, southern part. The project he is working on is how to break the wild of the Vietcong, and substitute for Vietcong goals goals that are compatible with the sincere US love for the Vietnamese people. He writes: 

            “If the Vietnamese had come singing towards us through the hails of bullets, we would have knelt down and embraced them.”

            If they can come singing through the hails of bullets. A good way of putting it. Yes, if only it’s exactly what happens. The idea that we can bomb the people into submission, and make them love us, is insane. When the Germans were “bombed into submission”, it actually strengthened the Nazi party. What then happened to the Germans was something else. At a certain point they realized that their whole project was doomed, the whole Nazi project was wrong wrong wrong. They were not taught a lesson by being bombed. “If only they would come singing through the hail of bullets, we would go down on our knees and embrace them.” The perception of their own project came from the inside. What Coetzee leads up to is psychosis, diagnosis maybe a combination of narcissism, megalomania and paranoia, maybe with elements of a fantastic detachment from reality. But we are not dealing with psychopaths, we are dealing with socio-paths. Maybe lovely individuals, but with an image of the world totally devoid of any humanitarian reality when those attacked refuse to do what Reagan said when he was entering a helicopter, in connection with Nicaragua. “Mr. President, what do you want them to do?” “All I want them to do is to say ‘Uncle'”, meaning “I submit.” 

            It doesn’t work like that with a deep culture and a deep structure at work. US political science and US economics have no concept of history, and, it seems, only two concepts of structure, hierarchy and anarchy. If you come from a Nordic country, or from the European Union, you have no problem what equity is about, even if I had to make up the word “equiarchy”, to add to hierarchy, polyarchy and anarchy. Their only approach to equity was and is the signed agreement, contract, regardless of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th level consequences. Similarly, solution to them means settlement, a signed document, and I would argue it isn’t good enough, solution is deeper. 

            So how is the US Empire performing these days? There are 15 contradictions at the end in the hypothesis made in the year 2000. Let me say what the basic theory is about. An Empire is a transborder arrangement that combines economic, military, political and cultural power. It’s an enormous power display that obviously brings with it contradictions. Contradictions are problems you cannot solve unless you change the system, but you can coexist with a couple of contradictions. When the contradictions start multiplying, synchronizing and synergizing, they become serious. 

            For the Empire people hit by an Empire start understanding that they have a common cause: get rid of the Empire – like colonialism, like slavery. 

            I can now pick up some of them, such as the amount of Euros passing the Dollars in circulation last December, Toyota passing GM in January, and you have the number of patents in the world with the US proportion sinking in comparison with other countries passing the US in one domain after the other. There is all of this happening, and much much more. 

            Let me point to a key factor. It hasn’t happened yet. But, many Europeans have felt bothered, and the moment they meet people in the Iraqi resistance movement and they compare notes, a sense of a common cause may start arising. If I now take all of these 15 points, some of them also inside the US, and Americans also sense that they are better off without the US Empire, the moment that common cause factor comes about, the US Empire is doomed. That is what happened to the Soviet Union. My prediction made in 1980 was that the wall would fall before 1990 and that the Soviet Empire would follow and they performed on time. The prediction of the US Empire is by 24 October 2020, the UN day and also my 90th anniversary, and you are all invited to celebrate. And let us combine it with a TRANSCEND meeting, but we need to make a jump, because they are now in odd years. 

What comes after the U.S. Empire? 

A.        The European Union as Successor 

            And then what? Three possibilities. 1) A Successor Country or Countries, 2) A Regionalizing World, 3) Another Globalization. Let me say a couple of words on all three. And you will take note, of course, that the end of an Empire is the most natural thing in the world. Empires come and go, it’s been like that all the time. No empire lasts forever. However, this one happens to be so brutal, so killing, so intervening, doing so much damage that you would expect it to be more short-lived than many of the others. It didn’t have the decorum and the sense of responsibility sometimes exercised by the English and the French, to a large extent by the Spanish, to a minor extent also by the Dutch, much less by the Portuguese and the Belgians. You will of coursealso remember that the Portuguese in Brazil, with the US, were hanging onto slavery more than any other. So there is a tradition here. 

            But leaving that point aside, I think China is one of the least likely successor candidates. On my list, candidate number one is the European Union. You need a sense of universalism, China has nothing of that. They are still convinced that it is surrounded by barbarians. They are willing to buy quite a lot. The annual global income is 54 trillion dollars, and China’s reserves are more than one trillion. The US currency reserves right now amount to 47 billion, which is nothing. That means when you want 100 billion for more fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to take more loans. That they get those loans is something still a little bit strange, but they do pay something in return, namely access to the US markets. So, having said that, a likely successor is the European Union, very universalist, with the 11 major colonial powers all members, and all concerned about their part of the world. And they are willing to say “I’ll not protest if you do something in your part if you’ll not protest when I do something in my part”. It is European political common market. There is much more to the European Union, but this is one important aspect. 

            We had a conference on peace studies in Hull in England one week ago, about democracy and peace. And I launched the idea of the European Union as a successor, after 19 reasons why the hypothesis of “democratic peace” is false, even a fraud, but I leave out all of that. The point I’m making is simply that the European Union has the deep culture and the deep structure it takes to become an empire. There were protests to the effect that there was no such plan also from Members of the European Parliament. Back then, a German from the European Commission raised his hand and said: “I’ll tell you one thing, I work in the European Commission, but occasionally I go over to the Council of Ministers and whenever I am in the building, so many of the people walking around are in uniform, they suddenly disappear into some room, and it is very clear that the doors are closed.” There is of course also the Tindemans plan, and the Tindemans plan is exactly what they need for that successor purpose. So let me proceed to what I think is most likely, regionalization. 

B.        Regionalization 

            We have 4 regions or maybe 5, EU, AU, SAARC and ASEAN. Number 5 is the G8, it’s not contiguous, but it doesn’t have to be contiguous to be a region. And we have 4 regions that are coming, and they have one thing in common: they are not going to ask Washington for permission. 

            The first one is the Estados Unidos de America Latina y el Caribe, the United States of Latin America and the Caribbean. The common currency will be a Bolivar. Nine of the countries met in La Paz in December and drew up the basic plans for the Charter. A basic pattern of thinking is what they call a “social economy” and about that one I will just say one or two lines. When sanctions came to Cuba in 1960, or 1961 rather, the only trading possibility was with the Soviet Union, meaning sugar in return for shoddily manufactured goods. The Soviet Union collapsed, so did the trade, and Washington was already looking forward to the collapse of Cuba. What did they do then? First of all they switched to organic agriculture to be self-sufficient. In industrial products, they have enormous shortages, but they have some trade possibilities. And then you would immediately say that it was obvious, but not everybody thought about it. “We have human material, let us process that human material to as high a level as possible.” That started university education to an extent unknown in most other countries, with a science and training center outside Havana for the training of doctors, dentists, engineers, social workers, educators, teachers of all trades. Thousands and thousands of them, ready to go to Latin America. But they didn’t have the money till Chavez. He had the money, and a messianic complex. He is the Messiah with a budget. Imagine Jesus Christ with an oil budget? You see the triangular theme? Chavez pays Cuba for providing the manpower for lifting the bottom level of those 9 countries, starting with the slums, and they pay Chavez a certain allegiance to the Estados Unidos, which is evolving everyday today. Venezuela then, a couple of weeks ago left the World Bank and the IMF. You cannot leave it unless you have paid all your debts and Venezuela paid them some time ago. The other countries cannot leave because they haven’t paid their debts, so Venezuela is going to pay their debts for them. The Messiah with a budget. The difficulty of it is, that Messianism might go to his head and make his populist democracy, as opposed to the usual Latin American elitist democracy, similar to people’s democracy in Eastern Europe, as opposed to any democracy. As it is obvious I like his policies, I would hate to see that happen. 

            The second one is an Islamic community from Morocco to Mindanao. 1’300’000’000 Muslims crossing almost 1’300’000’000 Hindus, from Nepal to Sri Lanka, like two highways, but at the same level. A major potential for a major conflict, making small riots in India look microscopic. I use that as an exercise for diplomats and say, “Please come up with 5 solutions for this one”. 

            Third, an East Asia Community, without Japan and with India, possibly combined with SCO. 

            And fourth, possibly, Putin could pull it off, but he may not be the man for it, is a Russian Union with a Chechnya having as much autonomy as the Netherlands in the European Union. Today widely off the mark. Tomorrow? Maybe. It would be widely in Russia’s interest. The problem is that Putin came to power by being anti-Chechen. So, let us see. Maybe somebody can come to power by being pro-Chechen. 

            In a regional world we do not have any guarantee for peace. As a matter of fact, the country that will benefit most from the decline and fall of the US Empire will be the US Republic. They may start sleeping well at night, and they might use their enormous natural and human resources for innovative projects and their capacity for cooperation, all of that, for better purposes, and make a decent country out of the USA. 

C.        Another Globalization 

            That means of course a stronger UN with globalization through the United Nations. I was advisor to the Commission for Global Governance. They had a lot of good ideas whose time had not come, so let me just say the three that for me are most important. 

            Abolish the veto power. They may meet, in the G8, but put their agenda on the UN agenda, and if they don’t like what they come up with, outvote them by expanding the Security Council to 54 members like the Economic and Social Council, and see to it that all parts of the world are there. That’s point one. 

            Point two, democratize the United Nations. They can mobilize an enormous amount of initiatives through a democratic United Nations. Maybe with one representative for each 1 million inhabitants, some say for each 10 million. 

            And, point three, take the United Nations out of the United States and put it somewhere else. Put it in a more friendly environment. This can all be done within a span from 5 to 20 years. If democracy is such a good idea, then why not practice it? 

            My own book on The Decline and Fall of the US Empire–And Then What? is scheduled for next Spring. The book on alternative economics is also for next year, and so is the book on deep culture. Books, books, books, what matters more is peace, peace. 

            So let me end by simply saying that I was asked to say something on the state of the world. I’ve done that. And, if anybody can come up with ideas on how to speed up constructive, creative, concrete development, please don’t hesitate! 

            Thank you.
Johan Galtung, Dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies; Founder, TRANSCEND, a peace and development network ( www.transcend.org )

15 contradictions of the US 

ECONOMIC 

1.         Between growth and distribution: overproduction, 1.4 billion below 1 dollar a day, 100’000 die a day from preventable and curable diseases and 25’000 from hunger; 

2.         Between productive and finance economy: currency, stocks, bonds, overvalued, crashes, unemployment, contract jobs, not positions; 

3.         Between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming; 

MILITARY 

4.         Between US state terrorism and terrorism: blowback; 

5.         Between US and allies: except UK-Germany-Japan, allies will say “enough”; 

6.         Between US Eurasia hegemony and Rus-Chindia triangle with 40% of humanity; 

7.         Between US-led NATO and the EU army: a Tindemans follow-up; 

POLITICAL 

8.         Between USA and the UN: the UN ultimately hitting back; 

9.         Between USA and the EU: vying for Orthodox/Muslims support; 

CULTURAL 

10.       Between US Judeo-Christianity and Islam: the UNSC nucleus has four Christian, and none of 56 Muslim countries; 

11.       Between US and the oldest civilizations: Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Aztec, Inca, Maya; 

12.       Between US and EU elite cultures: France, Germany etc. 

SOCIAL 

13.       Between state-corporate elites and working classes of unemployed and contract workers; the middle classes? 

14.       Between older generation and youth: Seattle, Washington, Praha, Genova and ever younger youth. The middle generation? 

15.       Between myth and realities: the US dream and US reality.

Eat, Fight, Fuck, Pray – An Interview with Joe Bageant by Joshua Frank

July 9, 2007

Eat, Fight, Fuck, Pray – An Interview with Joe Bageant by Joshua Frank

Jump to CommentsAn Interview with Joe Bageant

by Joshua Frank
July 9th, 2007

Joe Bageant is author of Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War just published by Random House Crown. He recently spoke with DV co-editor Joshua Frank about his new book, religion, rednecks and what it’s like to serve beer to an underage horse.

Joshua Frank: So Joe, what the hell is going on with the redneck strain of the working class anyway? Why do they seem more apt to embrace evangelism rather than a labor union? Is it, as psychologists would say, learned helplessness, or worse, idiocy?

Joe Bageant: Well, Josh, that’s a pretty broad brush you’re painting with there. In fact, it’s too broad to be answered, but that will not stop me from responding with my usual shrillness and tin drum noise punctuated by flatulence. Let me start by saying the term redneck does not apply especially to southerners. I have found indigenous redneck culture and communities in Maine, Oregon, Kansas, New York, Massachusetts, and California … in virtually every state and in large numbers. Among loggers, cowboys, poles, Germans, and even Latino rednecks.

Really. Don’t you think beer and low riders and macho sports aesthetic of Latinos, the heterosexual, patriotic Jesus focused Catholic is that much different from their Jesus focused Baptist Dixie and Midwestern counterparts? The low riders of LA are the same as beer and muscle cars of the south. In fact the first rednecks were probably the striking miners at the Ludlow Colorado massacre, who wore red bandanas and were seen as tough, surly, angry working class people who had to be kept down. The sun on the neck definition is another more recent one that got applied especially to Southerners, during the civil rights era I suppose.

We have been taught to use these ethnic, regional and racial labels to cover up the real issue in America that the rich want keep hidden another 200 years—that we are a classist country. That one class owns pretty much the whole country these days and that all the rest are left to suck hind tit and pretend they are all members of something called “the middle class.” The only real middle class is that thin layer of commissars, lawyers, teachers, journalists, and other caterers to the empire, those people necessary to manage it and count the beans, dumb down the kids and lock up enough people to keep the privatized gulags in business.

Anyway, I assume you are referring the heartland white working class people who attend fundamentalist churches. Ever since around 1800 about one-third of white America has been fundamentalist Christians, about one-third of Americans have had a born again experience. The thing that is different now is that these churches have access to political power. They were welcomed across the church-state wall of separation by cynical GOP strategists to whom giving the Republicans another chance to sack Washington, loot the national kitty and maybe pull off a good oil raid in the Middle East, was more important than our constitution. Now that they’ve let John Calvin’s wooly beast into to tent, we find it chewing on the constitution and generally stinking up the joint—it’s not going to leave without a fight.

As to the last parts of your question: When it comes to embracing the church instead of a labor union, I can remember a time when the churches stood behind the labor unions. Have we learned to be helpless? Man, we are helpless. Capitalist conditioning has replaced citizenship with consumerism. I mean, what are you or I doing? I write a book so the global publishing chain of Bertelsmann makes more money; you and I both sit here on the Internet spewing electrons across circuit boards that keep Bill Gates and the stock brokers farting through silk while we preach to the choir who bought our books. There are far better alternatives. We could grab some axe handles and heat up the tar bucket and start to burn some shit down. That still works you know.

Joshua Frank: I’ve always thought that’d work.

Joe Bageant: But we won’t. Because we are all programmed to participate through purchase, whether it is my book at Barnes and Noble or the software that enables us to read CounterPunch. Or choose the candidate that has been preselected and purchased in advance by the people who have essentially made Americans into a nation of iPod implanted pizza drivers and well dressed lawn jockeys sitting in front of monitors on the empires electronic plantations.

Joshua Frank: So how can we change this political myopia?

Our involvement with politics, our political lives, are merely as spectators who listen to commercials for three years before the magical moment before we “cast our vote” by simply going shopping in the tiniest shopping space of all—the voting booth—with the most limited choices possible that can still be called a choice: two twin parties whose parents, the corporations, have to display them against different colored backgrounds so people can get a clue as to their difference. (“I am for fighting the war until the last dog is dead,” as opposed to “I am for pulling the troops out, but not until a few hundred thousand more dogs are dead. I don’t wanna be seen as weak on the dead dog thing.” Or my favorite, “We can’t leave now or there will be chaos?” What the fuck is it we have created there now?) Right now the owning class Westchester Country Club Democrats is offering us two flavors, Hillary Clinton (bitter vanilla) and Barrack Obama (Mocha hope.)

Soooo … What’s going on politically with the great beery redneck nation? Nothing. We don’t think about politics until the last half hour before time to vote. Then a sort of a heartburn grips our chests, and all the negative campaign ads, and the sound of Bill O’Reilly’s voice and last night’s beer and bratwurst and Hillary’s stern beady eyes drill in on us … preachers call down lightening bolts and fighter planes do a double roll over the desert … then suddenly an acidic clot curdles in our throat, we close our eyes and we projectile vomit all our fears and suspicions and prejudices and state injected messages in the direction of the party making the most noise right up until the last minute. That’s what we do down here.

What do ya’ll do?

Joshua Frank: Well, I grew up in Montana with rednecks aplenty. Most of my own family is small farmers who were forced to move to the little towns in the area because of the onset of industrial agriculture. They lost the land they worked. Most of them are still proud rednecks. I respect the work ethic, but not all the culture that goes along with it. Up in Big Sky country, folks know politicians lie, so they put their trust in God instead.

Pick up trucks. Gun racks. Elk hunting. Beer drinking. It’s a way of life there. I enjoy most of it. It takes some pretty damn rough times before people stand up and say, enough is enough! You’d think they’d be screaming from the mountaintops by now. But they haven’t because they don’t think they can do a damn thing about their lot. And that’s where you get a lot of that anti-government sentiment. The Freeman and the Unabomber. It resonates quite well. As it should. The state doesn’t stand up for the little guy, but for the big corporations and they know it. The elites, however, always seem to capitalize off of their collective weakness—mainly their inability to stand up in the face of power. But anymore, the mainstream “right” and “left” are almost one in the same when it comes to the fundamental economic issues of our times.

Anyway, this is supposed to be an interview with you. Not me!

Joe Bageant: I lived in northern Idaho for years and had a lot of truck with Montanans like yourself. And to me they are among the best people in this country, tough uncomplaining people, kinda like Southerners, but with far less racism (unless you happen to be an Indian in some cases). Once when I was trending bar on the reservation, a Montana cowboy led his horse right into the place and demanded a beer for his steed. He had been drunk for two days, driving south toward New Mexico with his horse trailer, down from Alberta, Canada, and was obviously looking for a good old time tension-releasing brawl. “Well sir,” I told him. “That horse ain’t old enough to drink.” “That horse is 18,” he replied. I peeled back the horse’s lips and checked his teeth. I had horses of my own and knew how to check their age. “That horse is nine years old,” I said. “Just about the age a good cow pony starts getting some real sense.” He threw back his head and laughed. The situation was defused and we sat there in the Bald Eagle Bar and jawed until closing time. A good, tough, brave man of the kind America doesn’t make anymore. Tipped me ten dollars, then went off to wrap himself in a blanket and sleep in his truck until first light.

At the same time though, there is a belief in authority, a reverence even, that is so typically American. America has never been a nation of true dissenters. Even during the Sixties. Don’t let the old newsreels fool you. You gotta remember that when those kids were gunned down at Kent State, one half of America was cheering and an even larger portion did not give a shit. But the footage was so shocking, and we actually had a rather liberal media back then, and so, like Twin Towers footage, it was shown over and over and written about until the message finally soaked in. But Americans for the most part are on the side of their own oppressor and like it that way. Heartland Americans were happy when the working man was shot down at Ludlow, and happy when the Bohunk and Pollack miners were gunned down at the Latimer mines (again, the rewriters of history have made it seem otherwise). The good people of the heartland were happy with the kangaroo courts that framed and murdered Joe Hill and Sacco and Venzetti. And today they are happy when they see police in black Kevlar beating down young radicals in Seattle and Old Jewish women in Miami protesting turning that city into a free trade zone labor gulag.

Joshua Frank: Your book has been put out by a major publishing house. As you note, these cats are in the business of making money, and I’m assuming they wanted to make your book palatable to the run-of-the-mill liberal audience. What was that process like?

Joe Bageant: For lefties it can be infuriating. My publisher is Random House, is owned by owned by Bertelsmann, the former Nazi German publisher that made massive profits from Jewish slave labor and published ant-Jewish propaganda for Hitler. It also owns Doubleday, Bantam, and a slew of other media around the world. So today we see the irony of scores of Jewish editors etc working for Bertelsmann, but this time instead of tattoos, they are sporting blackberries, worrying about theater tickets and treating their Salvadorian nannies like shit.

Anyway, big publishers Random House Crown roll the ball right down the middle of the aisle looking for a strike to sell the most books to the broad middle class. No leftie gutter balls. Let Seven Arrows have’em. On the other hand, Crown publishes Anne Coulter, which tells you something about the real middle road and what sells. Everyone must do that to keep their jobs and climb the ladder of the company, which constitutes the corporate brand allegiance that is their lives, livelihood and personal identity in the Empire. Their lives are the brand. The brand is their lives. As in, “I am an editor at Harper Collins, the one who did the Martini Book of Common Wisdom,” or “Hillary’s book,” or whatever.

At one end, you have the editors, many of whom care about the life of the mind but have internalized capitalist market driven values, and thus feel courageous when they really are not. At the other end you have the company management, who see all books merely as units. Naturally, in a system like that, the pull is always rightward toward profit driven and non-risky thinking. Consequently, the American reading public for idea based books, which is small as hell, thinks it is expanding its knowledge through reading when they buy books, when actually, all most want to do is see their viewpoints reaffirmed. But what really happens is that they are drawn more rightward by the narrowness of available choices in a marketplace that loves the homogeneity and standardization of thought which makes marketing much easier.

In all fairness though, I would be the first to say that a publisher like Random House seems to put energy, resources and talent behind you, once they are committed. Frankly, they put in more than I really care to deal with sometimes. But when I hear the horror stories of some very good writers working with small publishers and their limited resources, I know I have been fortunate that way. Lucky to have the editor, publicist and agent I have. Most writers would kill for what sort of landed in my lap, given that I was not looking to write a book in the first place. I try not to be an ingrate, but at the same time I am not at all impressed with this stuff. I might have been at your age, but not now. Thankfully, it has come too late. It’s rather like a beautiful woman coming to the bed of an 85-year old man. Delightful to behold, but no distraction from the path that took so long to hew through the jungle of false thinking and ill-focused passions.

I had the good standard middle class New York Jewish editor. She had the job of reconciling my cranky agrarian based redneck leftist thinking with the publishing environment and the marketplace as it is. I am a rather uncontrolled writer given to free association and distracting rants. When it comes to something as long as a book, I absolutely need an editor for guidance. Someone to say, “That sucks. It’s unreadable,” and make suggestions. Without her work, it would not be getting the glowing reviews it is getting so far.

Writer/editor relationships can get very personal as you know, and we had class issues, given was the chasm between our backgrounds. But I must say the editor made every effort to bridge that gap, once she got around to my book, when, at times, I simply refused to. Mostly when drunk and depressed by the glacial process by which books are published. To compound matters, time was running out for me. I was very ill with my lung disease at the time and was diagnosed as having about 18 months to live, which turned out to be somewhat wrong; I’ve got a few more years in me yet. So here I was sneezing blood, working 55 hours a week at a straight gig, and trying to write a book too while my editor had put me on the back burner so she could work on Barack Obama’s book. Needless to say, I was a very miserable camper during much of the process.

At the same time, the entire grisly process brought my editor and I closer together as human beings, and I now consider her among my good friends, even if our backgrounds have forever conditioned us in different directions. I shudder for the fate of her children in this world the same as I do for those of my adopted family in Belize.

As to Belize, I’ve pretty much got my scene together there and consider it my home, though what I will do for money in the long term, I do not know. Presently I am back here to cooperate in the promotion of the book, and will be here a few weeks longer. I’m beginning to understand that I will always be spending significant amounts of time here, if for no other reason than earning money. A lot has happened in the past several months. I began to live on $4000 a year, as I had vowed, which causes stress on my marriage and family life, as you would imagine. And now I have a deep regret for the trees wasted in the publication of my book and hate what my air travel to Belize does to the upper atmosphere, regarding global warming. If I ever do another book, I can try to do it on recycled paper, insist it be done by union printers, and then, as I do now, donate all the royalties except the $4000 to small-scale development projects. But frankly, I don’t have anything to say that is important enough to justify the damage done by publishing it. Nothing that cannot be said on the Internet with far less environmental damage. But who knows? Life has a funny way of making us eat every word.

Joshua Frank: What do the folks of your town, of which you write so frankly, think about the book?

Joe Bageant: Not much so far. The working class people in the book, who never buy or read books at all, seem rather mystified when someone exposes them to parts of it. They relish figuring out who is who and generally agree with its message about class in America. The town’s old families are pissed. Some have called me. One asked why I wrote such “mean things about this town’s leading families.” Leading families! Can you imagine that? Another told me there is “no such thing as class in Winchester. We are all happy and equal.” I just about choked on that one. They tell me the local newspaper is oiling up its guns for an attack. And some upper crust family is bound to try and sue me, I’m sure.

Joshua Frank: So when is this class war you write about going to come to a head, or has it already? I’m talking about blood in the streets and mansions on fire. Will there ever be a true class revolt in the United States, or will any sort of militant dissent be stopped dead in its tracks by the Feds?

Joe Bageant: I don’t think that will ever happen, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep up the fight. I think so-called terrorism and ecocide may tear down the system for us, though. Danger has no favorites. The good old days of “the teeming masses,” that sweat soaked, beer farting mob of working class Americans who didn’t have a pot to piss in, much less a credit card, but instinctively knew fascism when they saw it, are over. Seattle in 1999 may not happen in the states again. We have all become an artificial product of corporately “administrated” modern life.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008. Read other articles by Joshua, or visit Joshua’s website.

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