What happened, it seems to me, was that prior to the invasion, Tenet was acting the part of a politician and policy maker, enabling a dumb project with bogus justifications. He was a participant in a fraud. Everybody was on board. Why would any CIA Director be at an Oval Office brainstorming session, trying to make the case for a preemptive war, and proclaim that the effort should be a “slam dunk”? Under any context, this remark is out of context for a CIA director. Afterward, to hear him tell it, he took on the traditional CIA Director’s role as an impartial intelligence gatherer, and reverted to the facts. Quite a change. Did he expect his former co-conspirators to respect the truth and reality post invasion, when they had been consumed with mendacity pre invasion? The same characters were in place and running the show.
A similar dichotomy applies to the Democratic Establishment in Congress, pre and post invasion. This is important. It is a major reason which explains why there will be no impeachment of Bush and Cheney. As best exemplified by John Kerry in his 2004 Presidential campaign against G.W. Bush, the Washington Democrats, with few exceptions, have been content and comfortable to criticize the execution of the policy, that is, �the conduct� of the war during the occupation. The Democrats thereby imply that they would somehow have done a better job. Up until relatively recently in this long war, there has been only mild criticism of the terrible idea to go to war in the first place, and no effort to examine the real motives behind the decision to invade. The Democrats don’t go there, except to say that they were misled. Why not?
As is well known but often conveniently forgotten, the Democratic Leadership in both houses of the U.S. Congress made a calculated political decision to authorize the Cheney/Bush White House to invade Iraq. The vote for war took place on Capital Hill on October 11th, 2002. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt led the charge. Senators Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, John Edwards, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman, among other ambitious Democratic mediocrities, big shots and blowhards, voted to authorize this ruinous war.
There was only one principled Senator of either party who stood up to the juggernaut, and made a fight of it. That man was Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia. He attempted to mount a filibuster against the war resolution, but he was cut off by a 75 to 25 vote. Byrd was regarded as an eccentric, a foolish old timer. He steadfastly refused to succumb to the hysteria. He knew what he was talking about, and recognized the Administration’s pack of lies for what it was when it was proffered. Byrd should now be regarded as a hero. He was right all along, but at the time his views were ridiculed.
Supposedly, all those brilliant Democrats in the Senate who voted to invade Iraq were alarmed by the Administration’s full-court-press propaganda campaign about Iraq’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction”. This is most unlikely. It assumes a level of ignorance and gullibility which is not credible. It is more likely that the Democrats and the brain-dead Republicans voted to invade and take over Iraq not because they regarded Saddam as a threat to the United States, but rather because, first and foremost, (a) they felt Washington could get away with it and (b) because the political payoff for war in the Congressional midterm elections of 2002 was deemed significant.
If you voted against the Administration, you could be smeared as soft on terrorism and national security. More important, you would be bucking the outsized political clout of the Israel Lobby, which was pushing for war on Iraq to the max, and had been for years. Moreover, after a decade of devastating economic sanctions, Iraq was going to be a cake walk, in any event. So it was a low risk proposition. To the professional politicians making their career calculations, the downside of launching the war appeared small and very manageable. The upside was impressive.
Well, the invasion itself, the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of Saddam, was a cake walk from a military standpoint. In point of fact, the U.S. won that war. This victory was a foregone conclusion. But Washington is not getting away with it. The rub has been the aftermath, the occupation and pacification of the country. That is the problem which confronts America today, an urban guerilla war, fueled by religious fanaticism and Arab nationalism. On top of that is a sectarian civil war among the inhabitants of the occupied country.
The UK medical journal The Lancet estimated back in September, 2006 that Iraq has endured over 600,000 deaths since the conflict began, and the UN has reported the displacement of 1.5 million Iraqis inside the country. These are some of the fruits of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. For the average Iraqi, it has been a disaster. The Democrats on Capitol Hill and everybody else are now focused upon how to deal with this catastrophe. The Democrats cannot address their initial, intellectually dishonest “me too” support for the invasion of Iraq in 2002 without drawing attention to their own gross hypocrisy and negligence. Instead, like George Tenet, they dwell upon the aftermath of the invasion and the current predicament.
Fine. Let’s focus upon the aftermath of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the occupation, which every sane, objective observer now agrees is a train wreck. Who was in charge of that phase? It turns out that the granddaddy of the American foreign policy establishment, the former Secretary of State for Richard Nixon, the Mitteleuropa import, Dr. Henry Kissinger, was a prime architect of the occupation. This is something extraordinary which has been kept under wraps.
If nothing else, Bob Woodward’s last fat book on Iraq, State of Denial, has performed a valuable public service by ejecting the furtive Kissinger from the shadows. Woodward reports that vice president Dick Cheney confided to him (Woodward) in the summer of 2005: “I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else. He just comes by and I guess at least once a month, Scooter [Libby] and I sit down with him.” [Page 406.] Woodward goes on to state: “The president also met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making the former secretary the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs.”
Why has this fact been kept sub rosa? One wonders. Why did Cheney telephone Woodward and blast him for revealing it in the book, before hanging up on him? What is going on behind the scenes? Rest assured, something rotten.
Please note that it was Kissinger’s protégé and partner, Ambassador L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer III, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates, Inc. for more than a decade, whom Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush placed in charge of the occupation of Iraq when Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush inexplicably cashiered the honest and fair-minded Lt. General Jay Garner, after scarcely a few weeks on the job. An item from the Sunday Telegraph of London dated October 15th, 2006 [”There was a plan for Iraq, but it was torn up”] is most informative. It summarizes the Kissinger connection to the Green Zone in Baghdad, as uncovered by Woodward…
When, in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the retired US Army General Jay Garner was asked to take over the post-war humanitarian mission, he certainly possessed the credentials for the job. In 1991 he had headed Operation Provide Comfort, rescuing thousands of ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq after the first Gulf war. Who better, then, for the American Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to appoint to the job second time round.
Garner drew up detailed plans and, at his first briefing with President Bush, outlined three essential “musts” that would, he asserted, ensure a smooth transition after the war. The first “must”, he said, was that the Iraqi military should not be disbanded. The second “must” was that the 50,000-strong Ba’ath party machine that ran government services should not be broken up or its members proscribed. If either were to happen, he warned, there would be chaos compounded by thousands of unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. And the third “must”, he insisted, was that an interim Iraqi leadership group, eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term, should be kept on-side.
Initially, no one disagreed, according to State of Denial, the new book by the veteran Washington reporter, Bob Woodward. But within weeks of the invasion, Garner’s tenure as head of the post-war planning office was over: he was replaced by Paul Bremer, a terrorism expert and protégé of Henry Kissinger. Bremer immediately countermanded all three of Garner’s “musts”. [My emphasis.] When, eventually, Garner confronted Rumsfeld, telling him: “There is still time to rectify this,” Rumsfeld refused to do so.
And who was assisting Dr. Kissinger to program the new U.S. proconsul in Baghdad? Who was Paul Bremer’s primary contact at the Pentagon, overseeing the occupation from Washington, with the blessing of Don Rumsfeld? None other than the award winning hyperZionist zealot, Douglas “clean break” Feith, the man who had advised Likud icon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (aka Bibi Nut & Yahoo) to attack Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in 1996 and tear up the Oslo “peace process”. Even Bibi regarded that advice as over the top.
According to Woodward’s initial book on the Bush Administration and the Iraq war, Plan of Attack, Douglas J. Feith, Esq., was characterized by General Tommy Franks, as “the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth”. Perhaps U.S. General Franks, the man who directed the invasion of Iraq on the ground, misunderstood where Feith was coming from and what his priorities were. To Franks, Feith only looked stupid, because Franks did not understand him.
Feith was a protégé of “neocon” geopolitical grandee, Richard Perle. Feith is on the Advisory Board of the (U.S.) Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Feith is a face card in the deck of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, headquartered in Jerusalem. The law office he founded in 1986, Feith & Zell, is based in Israel, catering to Jewish-American “settlers” on the West Bank. Colonel Larry Wilkerson, who was aide-de-camp to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has stated he looked upon Feith as a card-carrying member of the Likud party. How did these important items in Feith’s background qualify him to oversee the U.S. military? In his capacity as the “undersecretary for policy” at the Pentagon, Doug Feith was the number three civilian in charge of the entire U.S. Defense establishment, behind Professor Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld. Was that appropriate? Whose idea was it to put him there, creating such an obvious and enormous conflict of interest? Inquiring minds would like to know.
If “Operation Iraqi Freedom” may accurately be regarded as Wolfowitz’s War in its conception, then the aftermath of the war should be viewed as the Kissinger-Feith Occupation. It is the aftermath to the conquest, highlighted by the disastrous ukases delivered by Kissinger’s partner and frontman in Baghdad, Paul “Jerry” Bremer, which has effectively destroyed Iraq as a nation-state, brought about an internecine civil war, and created a quagmire for the United States military as well as a serious drain on the U.S. Treasury. The Democrats love to denounce this phase of the conflict, the occupation, but without naming names, aside from Bush and Cheney. Kissinger’s invisible hand in the undertaking was completely unknown until Woodward blew Kissinger’s cover. But most everyone on Capital Hill, every casual Washington intenditore, and every member of the American foreign policy community knew that Wolfowitz and Feith were the point men in charge of Iraq.
Could all of this destruction, bloodshed and anarchy in Iraq be due to gross incompetence? Is Doug Feith really “the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth”? Or is he something else? Is Henry Kissinger the realpolitik genius which the Establishment press presumes him to be, or is he something more? Why was Paul Wolfowitz suddenly transferred from the Pentagon to the sanctums of the World Bank, when it became clear that Iraq was a debacle? Wolfowitz is not a banker or an economist. Like Kissinger, Wolfowitz is a history professor, specializing in international relations.
While we are asking perplexing questions, here are a few more. Is it possible that the entire fraudulent enterprise of Iraq--from “shock and awe” to “cut and run”--is not an accident caused by ignorance, hubris and mistakes? Could it be that the tragic end-result for Iraq and its people is not considered a disaster in certain geopolitical circles? Has it dawned on anybody that the destruction of oil-rich Iraq as a viable entity in the Middle East may have been on the short list of somebody’s private agenda, an agenda perhaps unknown even to Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld and the ever-clueless G.W. Bush?
Do not forget that the immiserization of Iraq by Washington commenced not with Wolfowitz’s War in 2003, but with the slaughter of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It continued most dramatically but quietly with the meddlesome and insane policy of embargo and sanctions carried out during the reign of the “liberal” Democrat, Bill Clinton, and his meretricious Middle East foreign policy team of Samuel “Sandy” Berger, Madeleine “it’s worth it” Albright, Dennis Ross, and Australian import, Martin Indyk. This appalling chapter in U.S. Middle East policy has been delineated in the 1998 book by the English writer, Geoff Simons, entitled The Scourging of Iraq. A few lines from the preface to the second edition will give you and idea of what the people giving orders inside the White House were doing to Iraq in America’s name…
The US-contrived economic siege of Iraq has now lasted well over seven years, as I write, with, according to all estimates, millions of casualties--perhaps 2,000,000 dead through starvation and disease, more than half of them children, and many millions more emaciated, traumatised, sick, dying....
The United States is the conscious architect of
this years-long genocide. Knowingly, with a cruel
and cynical resolve, US officials work hard to
withhold relief from a starving and diseased people.
And the grotesque facts are not even disputed by
Washington. Madeleine Albright, now Secretary of
State, was prepared to assert in public that the
killing of 500,000 Iraqi children was justified.
All this because Saddam Hussein deposed the Emir of Kuwait, the fake statelet concocted by the British, which every leader of Iraq going back to the 1930’s had regarded as a province of Iraq? All this because Saddam was a bad guy? Was Saddam a bad guy when he engaged in a near ten-year war against Iran, a war in which Washington supplied him with all manner of weaponry and material via Washington’s special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, while at the same time, Tel Aviv provided Tehran with similar supplies from its American stockpiles? Was Saddam a bad guy then? Was he somehow a worse guy when he invaded Kuwait? What does Kuwait have to do with anything? Was the brouhaha over Kuwait a cover story and a godsend for those in Tel Aviv and Washington who were seeking an excuse to destroy Iraq, after its war with Iran had run its course? It looks that way.
Of the Clinton years, the scourging of Iraq, one would do well to stop at this vantage point and ask three basic questions. (1) What in the world could possibly have motivated or justified the U.S. Government to take such a drastic course of action, resulting in the deaths of so many innocent civilians? (2) Why was there no outcry and virtually no protest in America against this policy at the time it was being carried out? (3) Were the American people deliberately kept in the dark about what was going on? These same three questions should be asked now, concerning current policies, which have resulted in the crucifixion of Iraq, perpetrated under the nominal leadership of G.W. Bush, but at the actual direction of Richard Cheney and his cabal of “neocons”.
Whatever the truth, one thing is certain. There is absolutely no accountability for this whole affair. None. Not for Clinton or his handlers and enablers. Not for Wolfowitz and Feith, who have left the Pentagon and washed their hands of the whole business. Not for Dick Cheney and George Bush, who are twisting in the wind, with nowhere to hide. Not for the Democrats who voted for Wolfowitz’s War, who then capitalized on the war to regain control of Capital Hill in 2006, and who hope to ride that wave to regain the White House in 2008.
And not for the teflon Professor Kissinger, who worked with Cheney and Bush in secret to devise an endgame for this outrageous and consistent policy--a policy spanning three Presidents and both political parties. Note that Kissinger can correctly point out that he was just offering advice from the sidelines and has no official responsibility for anything. Last but not least, there is no accountability whatever for Washington’s Israel Lobby and its minions, fronts and fellow travelers, whose fingerprints are all over the crime scene.
Do not hold your breath waiting for a long-overdue Congressional investigation into how and why America was railroaded into invading Iraq and who is responsible for destroying that country in the aftermath of the invasion, because there is not going to be one. Not now, not ever, no matter who is in charge of Congress.
Everybody is guilty, going back to 1990. Some individuals and groups are just far more guilty than others. Mission accomplished, indeed. But whose mission was it, what has been accomplished, and at what cost? It is clear that Uncle Sam has been taken for a ride, big time. The Iraqis, the American troops on the ground, and the American taxpayers are paying the price, in spades. There is no end in sight.
Patrick Foy is author of The Unauthorized World Situation Report.