Monday, January 15, 2007

The neo-cons’ route to disaster

By Gideon Rachman

Published: January 15 2007 20:56 | Last updated: January 15 2007 20:56

President George W. Bush’s decision to send more troops to Iraq demonstrates the remarkable durability of neo-conservative foreign policy. Just a couple of months ago, the neo-cons were being written off. The Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq was advertised as signalling the triumphant return of the “grown-ups” and the “reality-based community”. But the president chose to ignore Baker-Hamilton, reportedly dismissing the document as a “flaming turd”.

Instead he turned for succour and advice to his old neo-con allies. The “surge” idea was developed and promoted at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank that has long served as neo-con central. The neo-cons, like President Bush, are getting another throw of the dice in Iraq.

Obituary writers are, however, already preparing the death notices for neo-conservatism. The neo-cons stand accused of many errors: imperialism, Leninism, Trotskyism (New York school), militarism. Some believe that the real problem is that so many of them are Jewish – this is an alarmingly popular theme, to judge by my e-mails. But the problem with the neo-cons is not that so many of them are Jews. The problem is that so many of them are journalists.

In making this point, I hope that I do not come across as some sort of self-hating journalist. The best opinion journalism has a clarity and readability that far surpasses most academic papers or diplomatic telegrams. But opinion journalism also has its characteristic vices. An editor of The Economist in the 1950s once advised his journalists to “simplify, then exaggerate”. This formula is almost second nature for newspaper columnists and can make for excellent reading. But it is a lousy guide to the making of foreign policy.

The fingerprints of simplifying and exaggerating journalists are all over the Iraq debacle. Take a look at The Neocon Reader, which is edited and introduced by Irwin Stelzer, who writes a column for The Sunday Times. The book brings together essays by political figures, academics and journalists, but the last are the most numerous. Ten of the 22 contributors are columnists or editors.

The neo-cons that mattered most in shaping the “war on terror” served in the Pentagon and the White House. But the journalists are a vital part of a neo-con network that formulated and sold the ideas that took the US to war in Iraq and that is now pressing for confrontation with Iran. The links between journalists, think-tanks and decision-makers in the neo-con world are tight and there is plenty of movement from one area to the other. For example, David Frum, a former journalist, served as a White House speech-writer and helped coin the most famous over-simplification of the Bush era – the phrase “axis of evil”. He is now at the AEI.

Less than a year after the fall of Baghdad, it fell to Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for The Washington Post, to give a triumphal address on America’s role in the world to the annual dinner of the AEI. The elevated status of the Washington punditocracy was underlined by the fact that Mr Krauthammer was introduced by none other than Dick Cheney. In a previous era, it might have seemed more fitting for the journalist to serve as the warm-up act for the vice-president.

Mr Krauthammer’s speech was a masterpiece of simplification and exaggeration. He told the assembled grandees of Washington: “On December 26 1991, the Soviet Union died and something new was born, something utterly new – a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower unchecked by any rival and with decisive reach in every corner of the globe.” Mr Krauthammer made the familiar analogy between the war on terror and the heroic days of the second world war: “Establishing civilised, decent, non-belligerent, pro-western polities in Afghanistan and Iraq” would be as important as the US-led regime change in Japan and Germany in the 1940s. Then he proclaimed: “Yes, as in Germany and Japan, the undertaking is enormous, ambitious and arrogant. It may yet fail. But we cannot afford not to try. There is not a single, remotely plausible alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11.”

You can only admire the writing. The unexpected use of the word “arrogant” is arresting. The deployment of short and long sentences is mellifluous. But run that by me one more time. Was there really no “remotely plausible alternative strategy”?

You get the same combination of overstatement and ancestor-worship in Mr Stelzer’s introduction to The Neocon Reader, when he writes of the “formidable intellectual firepower behind neo-conservative foreign policy”, which “has probably not been seen since George Kennan led a team that formulated America’s response to the threat of Soviet expansionism”.

The comparison with Kennan is instructive but not in the way Mr Stelzer intends. The main difference is that Kennan had a profound knowledge of the part of the world he was writing about. When he wrote his “long telegram” on the sources of Soviet conduct in 1946, he had many years’ experience as a diplomat in Moscow. The mixed bag of journalists and policymakers in Mr Stelzer’s book are intelligent people. But there is not an Arabist among them.

Neo-conservative columnists have tended to follow the trial lawyers’ approach to expertise. First, decide what you want to argue then find an expert who agrees with you. Most academic specialists on the Middle East were adamantly opposed to the invasion of Iraq. But Bernard Lewis of Princeton University was in favour of toppling Saddam Hussein. So it was he who was routinely and reverentially cited by the neo-cons.

The same attitude to expertise has been applied in pressing for a new military “surge” into Iraq. Most of the top brass of the US military were sceptical about sending more troops to Iraq. But Jack Keane, a retired army general, believes in it. So it is Gen Keane who is quoted approvingly in a recent article by William Kristol, the editor of the neo-con bible, The Weekly Standard; as well as by editorials in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.

Unfortunately, the experience of recent years should caution against basing policy on the urgings of neo-conservative journalists, no matter how persuasively they write.

The current debacle in Iraq is what you get when you turn op-ed columns into foreign policy. Does that conclusion strike you as simplified and exaggerated? Maybe so – but that’s journalism.

Israel, US camouflage Iran attack plans

Published: 15/01/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)

By Adel Safty, Special to Gulf News

In January 2005, while US President George W. Bush was propounding the lofty ideals of his project to transform the Middle East, the campaign to engineer consent for a strike against Iran was in full swing.

Vice-President Dick Cheney stated that Washington's chief concern was not democracy, was not even terrorism, but Iran's "fairly robust new nuclear programme".

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that American Special Operation Forces were already operating inside Iran in preparation for a possible air ground attack (New Yorker, January 24, 2005)

The Washington Post reported on February 13 that the Bush administration had been secretly flying surveillance drones over Iran "for an eventual air attack".

Hersh also later reported that current and former officials had told him that one of the options being considered by the Bush administration against Iran called "for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites". (New Yorker, April 17).

It seemed that the campaign for an American strike against Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons, might have become unstoppable. A number of events seem to have slowed down the Bush administration's blind galloping towards another war in the Middle East.

First, there was the opposition of the American joint chiefs to the option of using nuclear weapons against Iran. No nuclear weapons have ever been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The consequences in terms of radioactivity, casualties and mere precedence for transforming the nature of nuclear weapons, are simply too incalculable to be embarked upon lightly by any nuclear state. The cooler heads at the Pentagon seem to have prevailed, for now.

Secondly, the Bush administration's staunchest ally in the Iraq war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been considerably weakened by financial scandals and by the mounting evidence that he manipulated the intelligence to justify the Iraq war. He is in no position to muster support for another Bush war in the Middle East. Neither he nor Bush can marshal the international support necessary even for the fictional coalition of the willing they used for the Iraq war.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, Bush himself has been rapidly squandering his political capital at home. This was dramatically illustrated by the sobering message the American people sent to him by giving the Democrats control of the Congress in the November Congressional election. This was not an environment in which Bush could delude himself into believing that the American people would support him in waging another war in the Middle East.

Fourth, The Iranian elections for municipal councils and religious assembly, this past December, dealt President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's loyalists a serious blow and gave the moderate conservatives and the reformers a significant victory.

The outcome of the Iranian elections confirms that power in Iran is not monolithic and the drive for war against Iran could not be as personalised as it conveniently was in the case of Saddam Hussain.

A war against Iran will strengthen the ultra conservatives, harden Iran's determination to develop nuclear technology and engulf the region in more violence. Such a scenario will assuredly have dire consequences for the American standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds, already profoundly discredited by the Iraq war and the indifference to the Palestine conflict.


Under ordinary circumstances these considerations would probably have left Bush unmoved and undeterred. Bush is bogged down in Iraq, unpopular at home, fighting multiple-front war against vaguely defined enemies and under assault from influential opinion makers who accuse him of obduracy and delusion.

An American strike against Iran under these conditions is difficult to plan for publicly; but an American-supported Israeli strike against Iran is not.

Israeli leaders seem to have reached a similar conclusion and began a concerted campaign of propaganda and intimidation.

Shortly after it became clear that Bush had been weakened by the outcome of the Congressional election in early November, Israeli accusations against Iran intensified. Ronen Bergman claimed in the widely read Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronot that satellite images "reveal that the Iranians are making considerable and particularly rapid progress in producing a bomb." (November 10). Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited all permanent members of the UN Security Council in an effort to stop "the development of the Iranian nuclear programme". (Haarezt, January 8)

Last week, a British newspaper revealed Israeli plans for a nuclear strike against Iran: "Two Israeli air force squadrons" wrote the Sunday Times, "are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters". (January 7)

In November, Israeli writer Michael Oren wrote that Olmert came to Washington in search of a green light for a strike against Iran. "The light Mr Olmert received in Washington," he wrote, "was probably not green, but neither was it flashing red." (Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2006).

Oren drew analogy with the Israeli attack on its neighbours in June 1967, when US president Lyndon Johnson gave visiting Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban support that stopped short of a green light. The suggestion is that the absence of an explicit green light from Washington is no impediment to Israeli action against Iran. Bush, Democrats and Republicans alike would "understand".

The international community and the UN have a responsibility to save the region from another war.

Professor Adel Safty is Unesco Chair of Leadership and President of the School of Government and Leadership, Bahcesehir University, Istanbul. He is author-editor of 14 books including From Camp David to the Gulf, and Leadership and Democracy, New York, 2004.

Burning Conscience: Israeli Soldiers Speak Out

Video of the Week
A searing interview with Avichai Sharon and Noam Chayut, both veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces and members of Breaking the Silence. Sharon and Chayut served during the second intifada, an on-going bloodbath that has claimed the lives of over three thousand Palestinians and nine-hundred-fifty Israelis. After thorough introspection, these young men have chosen to speak out about their experiences as self-described "brutal occupiers of a disputed land." Producer: Sat Gwin

Bush the Empire Slayer

Jan 15, 2006

by Bernard Chazelle

'The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.'  — Wilfred Owen
'The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.' — Wilfred Owen
If you fancy losing an argument, try shooting down my contention that Mikhail Gorbachev is the leading historical figure of our time. Not one to miss a shooting opportunity, Dick Cheney tried. To my surprise, he won.

Westerners fondly remember Gorbachev for finishing off an ailing Soviet empire left bleeding from its Afghan travails. Defusing half a century of nuclear tension can leave a mark on impressionable minds. On Cheney's—not so much. The former Defense Secretary had a tender spot for the Cold War and never forgave Gorbachev for ending it with not even a kind word for defense contractors. Cheney is the quintessential warrior, with plenty of dead quails and birdshot-peppered lawyers to prove it. He is the gallant hussar—one day greenlighting “Shock and Awe” to give Guernica a second chance; the next day apprising US Senator Pat Leahy of his favorite sexual technique: “Fuck yourself ! ” (1) Quite the martial wag, the man Maureen Dowd calls Big-Time Dick saluted the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 by persuading his boss to invade Panama (for reasons no one seems able to remember). And today it is anybody's guess which Caribbean island the United States will invade to celebrate its victory in Iraq.

Dick Cheney is a man of war, and a man on a mission: a crusader who won't rest until the name Bush Jr is etched in the history books—not lost in the microscopic print of the endnotes section, mind you, as is destined to be Senior's fate, but glowing in the radiant typeface of a chapter heading. That mission, for once, is all but accomplished. In January of 2001, George W. Bush took—er, grabbed—the reins of an American Empire at its zenith. He will soon hand back a smoldering wreckage of broken lives, enduring hatred, and vanished influence. Michael Ignatieff has called Pax Americana Empire Lite. (2) A better phrase would be Empire Short-Lived, or, if you're William F. Buckley Jr and the vernacular ruffles your literary feathers, Imperium Brevissimum. At a recent ceremony for his son Jeb, George H. W. Bush was caught on national television sobbing uncontrollably. Pity the man who stands one short letter away from the worst president in US history. The letter is H, as in H for hubris.

“We're winning! ” exulted Bush last October. (3) Well... actually, “We're not winning,” he clarified a few weeks later, but “We're not losing” either. (4) So “We're wosing,” quipped the Guardian's cartoonist Steve Bell. Indeed, we are; and for you, Mr President, I shall count the wosing ways.

Somewhere, deep in the cold, worm-infested soil that a mother will keep watered by tears, lies one of 3,000 young Americans. (5) Dispersed across the land, thousands more will forever carry the scars of war in their battered bodies and hollowed souls, mutants battling hellish shadows and silent phantoms. And the Iraqis, yes those, Mr President, see them spiral into Dante's lower rings of hell, as they join the fastest-growing sect in the land: the dead—hundreds of thousands strong. (6) Watch the White Man's Burden devolve into an orgy of torture and mayhem. (Has it ever devolved into anything else?)

The words Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, detainee bill, and extraordinary rendition are seared in the world's consciousness as the badges of shame of a democracy gone mad. According to Pew's most recent “Global Opinion” survey, “anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history.” (7) The war effort's claim on the US treasury will soon exceed $600 billion: more than Vietnam; (4) more than all the money ever spent on cancer research; (8) more than enough to “race for the cure” all the way to Alpha Centauri. We're wosing big, Mr President.

Historians will ponder how one gangly caveman and nineteen scrawny associates turned America into the land of the kind-of-free (53rd freest press in the world, tied with Botswana (9)) and the home of the petrified. The sons and daughters of the nation that stood up to Hitler and Tojo now file through airport security barefoot, much as they would walk, shoeless, into a mosque—a mosque, they pray, empty of Muslims.

Cravenness is bigotry's favorite nourishment, and cynics might expect the political class to gorge on it by blaming our imperial agony on the natives. In America, today, cynics rarely go wrong; and the air, indeed, is thick with talk of fainthearted hordes of Mesopotamian ingrates, who quail at the latest bombing and wail at the moon in exotic garb.

Not long ago, the achingly earnest Nicholas D. Kristof, a New York Times columnist whose only sin is to be more virtuous than you—and keep you informed of this in each and every one of his bromidic columns—reassured his readers that the trouble is not with the Muslims but with the Arabs. They are too violent and they give Islam a bad name. (10) Well, that settles that. Funny, though, that in the last twenty years Americans have outkilled Arabs in a ratio in excess of one hundred to one. But there I go again, nitpicking, while Saint Kristof is back in Cambodia, rescuing teenage prostitutes one Pulitzer prize at a time.

Not to be undone, The Times' resident flat-earther, Thomas L. Friedman, never tires of recycling Golda Meir's racist rant about hateful Arabs. He writes:

“We can't keep asking Americans to sacrifice their children for people who hate each other more than they love their own children.” (11) The hate-lovers never asked for anybody's sacrifice, Mr Friedman. To steal a thought from the heroic Robert Fisk, all they ever craved was the one freedom you've always refused to grant them: freedom from you! The Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, a man who's never met a heap of moral compost he did not want to climb, wrote recently that “the prudent use of violence [against Muslims] could be therapeutic.” (12) Being a kind soul, I'll assume that Cohen is unaware of the ideological pedigree of that phrase and that he doesn't read what he writes—apparently, a skill highly prized in American punditry.

To talk the neocolonial talk from the plush comfort of the imperial capital is easy. To walk the walk is not. US military expenditures exceed those of all nations on earth combined. And yet battling a ragtag band of lightly armed insurgents was more than the world's mightiest army could take. It is “about broken,” laments Colin Powell—and, by the way, “We are losing.” (13) A recent Marine Corps memo concedes that Coalition Forces “are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar. ” (14) Last summer's stabilization push in Baghdad, Operation Together Forward II, proved a dismal failure: the violence actually rose by 43 percent! (15)

The US military has been fighting in Iraq longer than it did in World War II. What does it have to show for it? Not much. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is a country-wide killing field, one giant Sniper Alley where sporting the Stars and Stripes can get you killed any time, anywhere. Not a square inch of Iraqi soil is safe for the Americans outside the high walls of their fortresses. To borrow from Cheney's vast repertoire of bons mots, the US counterinsurgency is in its last throes; hence the “surge” and kindred shows of desperation. Israel's finest military historian, Martin van Creveld, does not mince words: “The American military have proved totally incompetent.” (16) In Iraq, the world's sole superpower has been the world's serial superbungler. (I've always wondered if the trope of the “sole superpower” serves any purpose other than teaching us how thin the line is between the sublime and the farcical.)

Whose fault? (The wrong question for a moral perspective—starting the war was the sin, not losing it—but the right one here.) Breathtaking as they were, the majestic vistas of Rumsfeld's ineptitude were little more than a convenient excuse for war advocates with egg on their faces. The grand whining parade has already begun, and mealy-mouthed apologists are being wheeled in on bloated floats to proffer lame excuses about inadequate troop levels, insufficient 4GW training, political fecklessness, etc. Eventually, the chest beating will die down as it always does, with the blame for the debacle pinned on the dirty antiwar hippies.

But hippies don't fight wars. The Pentagon does. It did, and it lost. One reason—not even the most important—is the military's endemic inability to win hearts and minds. Early in the war, the Guardian sounded the alarm:

'You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know. The hell where youth and laughter go.' — Siegfried Sassoon
'You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know. The hell where youth and laughter go.' — Siegfried Sassoon

“Senior British military officers on the ground are making it clear they are dismayed by the failure of US troops to try to fight the battle for hearts and minds. They also made plain they are appalled by reports over the weekend that US marines killed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, as they seized bridges outside Nassiriya in southern Iraq.” (17) The emphasis on force protection is a far cry from past imperial practices. The Romans, Spaniards, British, French, and conquerors of yore seldom agonized over their own casualties. To their credit, Americans do. But this comes at a moral cost: US soldiers are brave but the casualty-averse military doctrine of their commanders is cowardly. That, in essence, is what Susan Sontag, Arundhati Roy, and Bill Maher said—right before the lynching began. (18—20) In a similar show of disgust diplomatically stripped of the C-word, this British officer echoed the sentiment:

“US troops have the attitude of shoot first and ask questions later. They simply won't take any risk... Unfortunately, when we explained our rules of engagement which are based around the principle of minimum force, the US troops just laughed.” (21) Lebanon and Somalia notwithstanding, the United States rarely cuts and runs. It did not in Vietnam. It fought to the death—of the other guy—and then cut and walked when victory proved elusive. Iraq is too central to US hegemonic fantasies to allow a speedy retreat: it'll be done cut-and-crawl style, with enough pit stops to admire the fireworks over Iran. Bush's playbook: (1) run out the clock; (2) anoint successor as “the dope who snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory and handed Iran the victor's crown”; (3) let the etching in the history books begin.

Could the invasion have succeeded? Not a chance. All the grousing about incompetent planning is the age-old excuse-making prattle of losers. Leave aside the not-so-trifling fact that the United States never had the proper DNA for empire (lite or otherwise). It is the incontrovertible reality of the 21st century that the time for the White Man's Burden has passed. Not only is the era of empire gone, but the days of the so-called liberal hegemonic order are numbered. Even before 9/11, the cumulative impact of European integration, the rise of Asian powers, and the resurgence of Muslim identity sounded the death knell for American hegemony. To hasten the burial will be one of Bush's legacies. Alas, incalculable misery in the Middle East, enduring anti-American hatred, and future terrorist attacks in London, Paris, and Seattle will be another one.

The same Madeleine Albright who called the United States “the indispensable nation”—presumably to avoid confusion with the dispensable ones—taunted Colin Powell with the wickedest double-entendre since Mae West: “What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it? ” (22) To paraphrase an old line, it is better for a big country to keep its superb army idle and let the world think it's not much of a superpower than to use it and remove all doubt.

Bush's neoconservative doctrine seeks to apply Straussian philosophy to the unfettered pursuit of US energy interests. Its unspoken motto: “perpetual war for perpetual peace.” The rough idea—and the idea is, indeed, rough—is to play this century's Great Game (first prize: control of Mideast oil supply) under the banner of national security. Until we whacked them on the head, Iraqis had never expressed much desire to attack us. To the lesser minds, therefore, the idea of fighting them there so we wouldn't have to fight them here always teetered on the edge of insanity. To the neocons' delight, 9/11 came to cleanse the public discourse of the yelpings of lesser minds.

And so, today, we gather to honor the superior minds, all of these men (they are mostly men) who so decisively turned out the lights on the American empire. Heading the roll call is none other than the Decider himself. If you're among the wise who chose to sit out the Bush years at the bottom of a well, you need to know only two things about the man: the first is that he is President of the United States; the second is that he said:

“One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.” (23) To connect it to the war for terror would indeed be easier. A self-declared uniter, Bush is beginning to unite the country around the belief that he is the worst president in US history. (24) Whether his reelection, ipso facto, makes the electorate the dumbest ever is a logical inference that a political culture drunk with self-admiration will have trouble getting its woozy head around.

To call Team Bush a thundering herd of galloping loons is to be unnecessarily kind. For rarely has daftness been elevated to such a lofty plane of power and influence. The early days of the Iraq adventure set the tone. A year after Defense strategist Ken Adelman infamously called the coming liberation of Iraq a “cakewalk,” Paul Wolfowitz, then Rumsfeld's deputy, used the occasion of an interview with NPR's Melissa Block to stamp the prediction with the Pentagon's gold seal.

“We're seeing today how much the people of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe appreciate what the United States did to help liberate them from the tyranny of the Soviet Union. I think you're going to see even more of that sentiment in Iraq. There's not going to be the hostility that you described Saturday. There simply won't be.” (25) Hostility? What an idea! On the eve of the war, in a vice presidential reprise of Tom Cruise's couch-hopping antics, Cheney stepped on the set of NBC's “Meet The Press” to share the love: “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” (26) For a mere $44 billion a year,(27) all we got from US intelligence was a silly update of an old movie script:

Renault: And what in Heaven's name brought you to Baghdad?
Bush: The sweets and the flowers. I came to Baghdad for love.
Renault: Love! What love? We're in the Middle East.
Bush: I was misinformed.

Christmas 2003 came early in Iraq and WMD-stuffed stockings were spotted everywhere by late March. Or so Rumsfeld told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: “We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” (28) East, west, south and nowhere somewhat. In September of that year, the part-time AEI scholar, full-time slimeball Richard Perle got all his neurons firing at once to produce this marvel of crystal gazing:

“And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.” (29) Or perhaps some grand morgue? Which naturally leads us to the 600-billion dollar question: where did they find these people? The answer: in that dank rodent house known as the American Enterprise Institute. Often found gnawing on the chicken wire, the rabid ferret Michael Ledeen needs no cage rattling to work himself into a froth of hysteria:

'Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.' — Rudyard Kipling
'Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.' — Rudyard Kipling

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” (30) In their knockoff of Mein Kampf, retitled An End to Evil, Richard Perle and former Bush speechwriter David Frum give voice to their full-blown dementia by recommending all-out attacks on anybody ever so slightly Muslim. Why? Because “There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or holocaust.” (31) Salon's Gary Kamiya calls the Perle-Frum worldview “a strange combination of Hobbes and Popeye.” (32) Harsh on Popeye. Me, I have no patience for moral midgets who've seen their Napoleonic hour arrive. Like Alexander in Gordium, I head straight for the deliciously obvious: to end evil, end Perle and Frum.

The American Enterprise Institute serves to mitigate the most glaring defects of our democracy. Take the current escalation in Iraq, for example. President Bush alone grasps the full cosmic immensity of its wisdom, even calling the idea a “surge” to convey its irresistibility. Alas, the Forces of Darkness, aka the Pentagon, the Congress, and the American public, will have none of it. Enter the AEI and its paunchy, double-chinned warmonger, Frederick W. Kagan. Faster than a chickenhawk can flap its wings, Kagan demothballs his fave retired general, Jack Keane, and whips up The Surge. Voilà. Rasputin would be proud.

It would be unfair to let Team Bush steal all the credit for the imperial collapse without a tip of the hat to the White House Dictation Office, also known as the mainstream media (MSM). Skipping right over the miniskirted hyena Ann Coulter (a risky stunt but I've got my spiked pogo shoes on), the oafish junkie Rush Limbaugh, and the assortment of one-trick performing fleas hopping mad on the AM dial, I shall ascend Mount Olympus to gaze at the brainy stars of the MSM.

Few shine more brightly than Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, the supernova of the Murdoch empire—unless red dwarf is a tighter cosmic fit for someone known to his friends and pet hamster as “Dan Quayle's brain.” The day after the 9/11 attacks, the surrogate brain seized the moment and began pounding the war drums: “There's a fair amount of evidence that Iraq had very close associations with Osama bin Laden in the past.” (33) There was not a shred of evidence. A year later, Kristol nuzzled up to The New Republic's Lawrence F. Kaplan to break into a cakewalk jig on the National Review dance floor: “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world's sole superpower.” (34) Brilliance of this magnitude is Kristol's trademark. Time magazine took longer than most to realize that and only this month got around to adding Kristol to its roster of columnists.

Two influential Canadians with a nasty case of empire envy, Mark Steyn and Michael Ignatieff pulpiteered the good news—one from his stool at the Chicago Sun-Times, the other from his booster seat at the Harvard Kennedy School. From Steyn we learned that “Imperialism is the answer” (35) and from Ignatieff that “The case for empire is that it has become, in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike.” (2) (I don't know about you, but the dazzling acumen of the expert never fails to give me goosebumps!) Former TNR editor Andrew Sullivan, another heavy smoker of the imperialist's hookah pipe, found his knees wobbly after 9/11 and his left flank badly exposed: “The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead—and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.” (36)

Of course, no account of MSM malfeasance would be fitting without at least a passing glance at the yapping chihuahuas. Newsweek's Howard Fineman woofed a few choice words of his own: “We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back.” (37) Well said, Howard. His colleague Chris Matthews yaks at such vertiginous speeds that his brain emits exotic particles of synchrotronic quirkiness. One month into the war, he blurted out, “We're all neocons now.” A few weeks later, Matthews highlighted a side of war that too often gets short shrift: what great, clean fun it is! “Check it out. The women like this war! I think we like having a hero as our president.” (37) Must a TV show be pornographic just because it's called “Hardball”?

The war has given the American mainstream media a brilliant opportunity to prove its essential worthlessness. It has shown itself to be little more than a circus of entertainers and cheerleaders for whom every season is the silly season. Tragically, the media has failed in its sacred duty to keep a vigilant, skeptical, critical eye on the centers of power. Who is the American Robert Fisk, Gideon Levy, or Amira Hass? Whoever they are (and Sy Hersh proves they exist), why are their writings not filling the op-ed pages of the great American newspapers? How can the nation that produces the bulk of Nobel prize winners be stuck with such a sullen bunch of journalistic mediocrities? The sycophantic enablers of the Fourth Estate have blood on their hands.

The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq had a single cause: the reassertion of US hegemony after 9/11. Its trigger was a rare astral alignment. Big Oil, the neocons, the Christian fundamentalists, the liberal hawks, AIPAC, the MSM, and 9/11 all formed cosmic dots in the sky that only one power could—and did—successfully align: the president of the United States. No American leader has so much owned a war.

And none has so little owned up to it. Victors are never war criminals. That's because they get to write the history books. Bush won't have that chance. The die has been cast and the hour is too late for him or anyone to alter the unforgiving judgment of posterity. Therein, paradoxically, lies our quandary. For, if freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, then Bush is a free man—free to pursue the most malignant policies, heedless of the consequences to his unworsenable presidential standing. Beware the desperation of a cornered man.


The apostle of imperial dominance, Bush slew the “last empire.” The towering figure of our time, he is a piteously small man. The self-anointed emissary of a “higher father,” he is servant to no power but himself. The captain of the sinking ship has laid his command upon his fellow Americans: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for me.” No sacrifice of life shall be too great, no damage to civil liberties too high, no expenses too vast for a vainglorious man deluded by fantastic dreams of redemption by force. Image

But who besides the bereaved will mourn? Who besides the orphan will whimper? Who besides the humiliated will stare back? Who besides the thugs and the craven will lead? Patriotism is a lovely thing. In its name, some go dying by the side of an Iraqi road in twitching agony; others go shopping in oversized automobiles festooned with yellow ribbons. We all play our part—and nobody else's.

Yeats bemoaned an era when the best lacked all conviction, while the worst were full of passionate intensity. Today, Kristol blusters and hectors, Cheney scolds and forebodes, Bush struts and smirks. Meanwhile, the giant, timid chorus listens politely to the deafening silence of the outraged—and the mad march of war goes on.


[1] Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity, by Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 25, 2004.

[2] America's Empire Is an Empire Lite, by Michael Ignatieff, The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2003.

[3] Press Conference by the President, The White House, Oct. 25, 2006.

[4] U.S. Not Winning War in Iraq, Bush Says for 1st Time, by Peter Baker, The Washington Post, Dec. 20, 2006.

[5] War in Iraq, CNN, 2006.

[6] The Human Cost of the War in Iraq, by G. Burnham, S. Doocy, E. Dzeng, R. Lafta, L. Roberts, Lancet, 2006.

[7] Global Opinion: The Spread of Anti-Americanism, Pew Global Attitudes Project, Jan. 24, 2005.

[8] Cancer Research Funding, National Cancer Institute, May 19, 2006.

[9] Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006, Reporters Without Borders, 2006.

[10] The Muslim Stereotype, by Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times (firewalled original), Dec. 10, 2006.

[11] Insurgency Out, Anarchy In, by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times (firewalled original), June 2, 2006.

[12] The Lingo Of Vietnam, by Richard Cohen, The Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2006.

[13] Powell Says U.S. Losing in Iraq, Calls for Drawdown by Mid-2007, by Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post, Dec. 18, 2006.

[14] Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker, by Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks, The Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2006.

[15] The Iraq Study Group Report, by James A. Baker, III and Lee H. Hamilton, Co-Chairs, United States Institute of Peace, 2006.

[16] Closer to the Abyss, by Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, Dec. 6, 2006.

[17] Coalition divided over battle for hearts and minds, by Richard Norton-Taylor and Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, Apr. 1, 2003.

[18] The Talk of the Town, by Susan Sontag, The New Yorker, Sept. 24, 2001.

[19] The Most Cowardly War in History, by Arundhati Roy, Global Research, June 28, 2005.

[20] Politically Incorrect, Wikipedia.

[21] Trigger-happy US troops ‘will keep us in Iraq for years’, by Sean Rayment, Telegraph, May 15, 2005.

[22] Madeleine's War, by Walter Isaacson, Time, May 9, 1999.

[23] Bush: ‘We Don't Torture’, CBS News, Sept. 6, 2006.

[24] He's The Worst Ever, by Eric Foner, The Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2006.

[25] United States Department of Defense, by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Feb. 19, 2003.

[26] Upbeat Tone Ended With War, by Dana Milbank, The Washington Post, March 29, 2003.

[27] Official Reveals Budget for U.S. Intelligence, by Scott Shane, The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006.

[28] United States Department of Defense, by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003.

[29] Turkey at the Crossroads, by Richard Perle, Sept. 22, 2003.

[30] Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two, by Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online, April 23, 2002.

[31] An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, by David Frum and Richard Perle, Random House (excerpt), Dec. 2003.

[32] “An End to Evil” by David Frum and Richard Perle, by Gary Kamiya, Salon, Jan. 30, 2004.

[33] Their War, Too, by Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect, Sept. 1, 2005.

[34] Closing In, by Lawrence Kaplan and Bill Kristol, National Review Online, Feb. 24, 2003.

[35] Imperialism is the Answer, by Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 14, 2001.

[36] A British View of the US Post-September 11, by Andrew Sullivan, The London Times, Oct. 15, 2001.

[37] ‘The Final Word Is Hooray!’, FAIR, March 15, 2006.

Is Energo-fascism in Your Future? : : The Pentagon Energy-Protection Racket

Tomgram: Klare, The Pentagon as an Energy-Protection Racket

This January, Tomdispatch has been focusing on the Pentagon, the imperial path, and militarization. Last week, Nick Turse explored the way Pentagon strategists, having taken possession of our future, are writing their own dystopian science fiction scenarios about how to fight in Baghdad 2025 and other urban megaslums of the planet (as American troops may soon be doing in Baghdad's huge Shiite slum of Sadr City). Then, Frida Berrigan considered the massively profitable business operation the Pentagon was running off fictional futures and the all-too-real weapons systems that will result from it.

Today, Michael Klare, an expert on resource wars and the author of the indispensable Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, offers a startling vision of the grim energy future that the Pentagon is actually helping to create -- as well as the ruthless scrambles for energy resources, the Great Power energy races, and the kind of Big Brotherhood that may lie in our near future. This is the first of a major two-part Tomdispatch series on the possible emergence of a new phenomenon in our world that Klare dubs "Energo-fascism." Tom

Is Energo-fascism in Your Future?

The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences (Part 1)
By Michael T. Klare

It has once again become fashionable for the dwindling supporters of President Bush's futile war in Iraq to stress the danger of "Islamo-fascism" and the supposed drive by followers of Osama bin Laden to establish a monolithic, Taliban-like regime -- a "Caliphate" -- stretching from Gibraltar to Indonesia. The President himself has employed this term on occasion over the years, using it to describe efforts by Muslim extremists to create "a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom." While there may indeed be hundreds, even thousands, of disturbed and suicidal individuals who share this delusional vision, the world actually faces a far more substantial and universal threat, which might be dubbed: Energo-fascism, or the militarization of the global struggle over ever-diminishing supplies of energy.

Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today.

These include:

* The transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil protection service whose primary mission is to defend America's overseas sources of oil and natural gas, while patrolling the world's major pipelines and supply routes.

* The transformation of Russia into an energy superpower with control over Eurasia's largest supplies of oil and natural gas and the resolve to convert these assets into ever increasing political influence over neighboring states.

* A ruthless scramble among the great powers for the remaining oil, natural gas, and uranium reserves of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, accompanied by recurring military interventions, the constant installation and replacement of client regimes, systemic corruption and repression, and the continued impoverishment of the great majority of those who have the misfortune to inhabit such energy-rich regions.

* Increased state intrusion into, and surveillance of, public and private life as reliance on nuclear power grows, bringing with it an increased threat of sabotage, accident, and the diversion of fissionable materials into the hands of illicit nuclear proliferators.

Together, these and related phenomena constitute the basic characteristics of an emerging global Energo-fascism. Disparate as they may seem, they all share a common feature: increasing state involvement in the procurement, transportation, and allocation of energy supplies, accompanied by a greater inclination to employ force against those who resist the state's priorities in these areas. As in classical twentieth century fascism, the state will assume ever greater control over all aspects of public and private life in pursuit of what is said to be an essential national interest: the acquisition of sufficient energy to keep the economy functioning and public services (including the military) running.

The Demand/Supply Conundrum

Powerful, potentially planet-altering trends like this do not occur in a vacuum. The rise of Energo-fascism can be traced to two overarching phenomena: an imminent collision between energy demand and energy supplies, and the historic migration of the center of gravity of planetary energy output from the global north to the global south.

For the past 60 years, the international energy industry has largely succeeded in satisfying the world's ever-growing thirst for energy in all its forms. When it comes to oil alone, global demand jumped from 15 to 82 million barrels per day between 1955 and 2005, an increase of 450%. Global output rose by a like amount in those years. Worldwide demand is expected to keep growing at this rate, if not faster, for years to come -- propelled in large part by rising affluence in China, India, and other developing nations. There is, however, no expectation that global output can continue to keep pace.

Quite the opposite: A growing number of energy experts believe that the global output of "conventional" (liquid) crude oil will soon reach a peak -- perhaps as early as 2010 or 2015 -- and then begin an irreversible decline. If this proves to be the case, no amount of inputs from Canadian tar sands, shale oil, or other "unconventional" sources will prevent a catastrophic liquid-fuel shortage in a decade or so, producing widespread economic trauma. The global supply of other primary fuels, including natural gas, coal, and uranium is not expected to contract as rapidly, but all of these materials are finite, and will eventually become scarce.

Coal is the most plentiful of the three; if consumed at current rates, it can be expected to last for perhaps another century and a half. If, however, it is used to replace oil (in various coal-to-liquid schemes), it will disappear much more rapidly. This does not, of course, address coal's disproportionate contribution to global warming; if there is no change in the way it is burned in power plants, the planet will become inhospitable long before the last coal mine is exhausted.

Natural gas and uranium will outlast petroleum by a decade or two, but they too will eventually reach peak output and begin to decline. Natural gas will simply disappear, just like oil; any future scarcity of uranium can to some degree be overcome through the greater utilization of "breeder reactors," which produce plutonium as a byproduct; this substance can, in turn, be used as a reactor fuel in its own right. But any increased use of plutonium will also vastly increase the risk of nuclear-weapons proliferation, producing a far more dangerous world and a corresponding requirement for greater government oversight of all aspects of nuclear power and commerce.

Such future possibilities are generating great anxiety among officials of the major energy-consuming nations, especially the United States, China, Japan, and the European powers. All of these countries have undertaken major reviews of energy policy in recent years, and all have come to the same conclusion: Market forces alone can no longer be relied upon to satisfy essential national energy requirements, and so the state must assume ever-increasing responsibility for performing this role. This was, for example, the fundamental conclusion of the National Energy Policy adopted by the Bush administration on May 17, 2001 and followed slavishly ever since, just as it is the official stance of China's Communist regime. When resistance to such efforts is encountered, moreover, government officials only wield the power of the state more regularly and with a heavier hand to achieve their objectives, whether through trade sanctions, embargoes, arrests and seizures, or the outright use of force. This is part of the explanation for Energo-fascism's emergence.

Its rise is also being driven by the changing geography of energy production. At one time, most of the world's major oil and natural gas wells were located in North America, Europe, and the European sectors of the Russian Empire. This was no accident. The major energy companies much preferred to operate in hospitable countries that were close at hand, relatively stable, and disinclined to nationalize private energy deposits. But these deposits have now largely been depleted and the only areas still capable of satisfying rising world demand are located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

The countries in these regions were nearly all subject to colonial rule and still harbor deep distrust of foreign involvement; many also house ethnic separatist groups, insurgencies, or extremist movements that make them especially inhospitable to foreign oil companies. Oil production in Nigeria, for example, has been sharply curtailed in recent months by an insurgency in the impoverished Niger Delta. Members of poor tribal groups that have suffered terribly from the environmental devastation wrought by oil-company operations in their midst, while receiving few tangible benefits from the resulting oil revenues, have led it; most of the profits that remain in-country are pilfered by ruling elites in Abuja, the capital. Combine this sort of local resentment with lack of security and often shaky ruling groups, and it's hardly surprising that the leaders of the major consuming nations have increasingly been taking matters into their own hands -- arranging preemptive oil deals with compliant local officials and providing military protection, where needed, to ensure the safe delivery of oil and natural gas.

In many cases, this has resulted in the establishment of oil-driven, patron-client relations between major consuming nations and their leading suppliers, similar to the long-established U.S. protectorate over Saudi Arabia and the more recent U.S. embrace of Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan. Already we have the beginnings of the energy equivalent of a classic arms race, combined with many of the elements of the "Great Game" as once played by colonial powers in some of the same parts of the world. By militarizing the energy policies of consuming nations and enhancing the repressive capacities of client regimes, the foundations are being laid for an Energo-fascist world.

The Pentagon: A Global Oil-Protection Service

The most significant expression of this trend has been the transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil-protection service whose primary function is the guarding of overseas energy supplies as well as their global delivery systems (pipelines, tanker ships, and supply routes). This overarching mission was first articulated by President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, when he described the oil flow from the Persian Gulf as a "vital interest" of the United States, and affirmed that this country would employ "any means necessary, including military force" to overcome an attempt by a hostile power to block that flow.

When President Carter issued this edict, quickly dubbed the Carter Doctrine, the United States did not actually possess any forces capable of performing this role in the Gulf. To fill this gap, Carter created a new entity, the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), an ad hoc assortment of U.S-based forces designated for possible employment in the Middle East. In 1983, President Reagan transformed the RDJTF into the Central Command (Centcom), the name it bears today. Centcom exercises command authority over all U.S. combat forces deployed in the greater Persian Gulf area including Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. At present, Centcom is largely preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has never given up its original role of guarding the oil flow from the Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine.

The greatest danger to the Persian Gulf oil flow is now said to emanate from Iran, which has threatened to choke off all oil shipments through the vital Strait of Hormuz (the narrow passageway at the mouth of the Gulf) in the event of an American air assault on its nuclear facilities. In possible anticipation of such a move, the Pentagon recently ordered additional air and naval forces into the Gulf and replaced General John Abizaid, the Centcom Commander, who favored diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria, with Admiral William Fallon, the Commander of the Pacific Command (Pacom) and an expert in combined air and naval operations. Fallon arrived at Centcom just as President Bush, in a nationally televised speech on January 10, announced the deployment of an additional carrier battle group to the Gulf and warned of harsh military action against Iran if it failed to halt its support for insurgents in Iraq and its pursuit of uranium-enrichment technology.

When first promulgated in 1980, the Carter Doctrine was aimed principally at the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters. In recent years, however, American policymakers have concluded that the United States must extend this kind of protection to every major oil-producing region in the developing world. The logic for a Carter Doctrine on a global scale was first spelled out in a bipartisan task force report, "The Geopolitics of Energy," published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in November 2000. Because the United States and its allies are becoming increasingly dependent on energy supplies from unstable overseas suppliers, the report concluded, "[T]he geopolitical risks attendant to energy availability are not likely to abate." Under these circumstances, "the United States, as the world's only superpower, must accept its special responsibilities for preserving access to worldwide energy supply."

This sort of thinking -- embraced by senior Democrats and Republicans alike -- appears to have governed American strategic thinking since the late 1990s. It was President Clinton who first put this policy into effect, by extending the Carter Doctrine to the Caspian Sea basin. It was Clinton who originally declared that the flow of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to the West was an American security priority, and who, on this basis, established military ties with the governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. President Bush has substantially upgraded these ties -- thereby laying the groundwork for a permanent U.S. military presence in the region -- but it is important to view this as a bipartisan effort in accordance with a shared belief that protection of the global oil flow is increasingly not just a vital function, but the vital function of the American military.

More recently, President Bush has extended the reach of the Carter Doctrine to West Africa, now one of America's major sources of oil. Particular emphasis is being placed on Nigeria, where unrest in the Delta (which holds most of the country's onshore petroleum fields) has produced a substantial decline in oil output. "Nigeria is the fifth largest source of U.S. oil imports," the State Department's Fiscal Year 2007 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations declares, "and disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to U.S. oil security strategy." To prevent such a disruption, the Department of Defense is providing Nigerian military and internal security forces with substantial arms and equipment intended to quell unrest in the Delta region; the Pentagon is also collaborating with Nigerian forces in a number of regional patrol and surveillance efforts aimed at improving security in the Gulf of Guinea, where most of West Africa's offshore oil and gas fields are located.

Of course, senior officials and foreign policy elites are generally loath to acknowledge such crass motivations for the utilization of military force -- they much prefer to talk about spreading democracy and fighting terrorism. Every once in a while, however, a hint of this deep energy-based conviction rises to the surface. Especially revealing is a November 2006 task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations on "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency." Co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutsch, and endorsed by a slew of elite policy wonks from both parties, the report trumpeted the usual to-be-ignored calls for energy efficiency and conservation at home, but then struck just the militaristic note first voiced in the 2000 CSIS report (which Schlesinger also co-chaired): "Several standard operations of U.S. regionally deployed forces [presumably Centcom and Pacom] have made important contributions to improving energy security, and the continuation of such efforts will be necessary in the future. U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance." The report also called for stepped up U.S. naval engagement in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria.

When expressing such views, U.S. policymakers often adopt an altruistic stance, claiming that the United States is performing a "social good" by protecting the global oil flow on behalf of the world community. But this haughty, altruistic posture ignores crucial aspects of the situation:

* First, the United States is the world's leading gas guzzler, accounting for one out of every four barrels of oil consumed daily around the world.

* Second, the pipelines and sea lanes being protected by American soldiers and sailors at risk of life and limb are largely those oriented toward the United States and close allies like Japan and the NATO countries.

* Third, it is often specifically American-based corporations whose overseas operations are being protected by U.S. forces in turbulent areas abroad, again at significant risk to the military personnel involved.

* Fourth, the Pentagon is itself one of the world's great oil guzzlers, consuming 134 million barrels of oil in 2005, as much as the entire nation of Sweden.

So while it is true that other countries may obtain some benefits from the activities of the American military, the primary beneficiaries are the American economy and giant U.S. corporations; the primary losers are the American soldiers who risk their lives every day to protect the pipelines and refineries, the poor of these countries who see little or no benefit from the extraction of their natural resources, and the global environment as a whole.

The cost of this immense undertaking, in both blood and treasure, is enormous and it's still on the rise. There is, first of all, the war in Iraq, which may have been sparked by a variety of motives, but cannot in the end be separated from the historic mission first laid out by President Carter of eliminating any potential threat to the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. An assault on Iran would also have a number of motives, but it, too, would be tied to this mission in the final analysis -- even if it had the perverse effect of closing off oil supplies, driving up energy prices, and throwing the global economy into a tailspin. And there are sure to be more wars over oil after these, with more American casualties and more victims of American missiles and bullets.

The cost in dollars will also be great. Even if the war in Iraq is excluded from the tally, the United States spends about one-fourth of its defense budget, or some $100 billion per year, on Persian Gulf-related expenses -- the approximate annual price-tag for enforcement of the Carter Doctrine. One can argue about what percentage of the approximately $1 trillion cost of the war in Iraq should be added to this tally, but surely we are minimally talking about many hundreds of billions of dollars with no end in sight. Protection of pipelines and tanker routes in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Gulf of Guinea, Colombia, and the Caspian Sea region adds additional billions to this figure.

These costs will snowball in the future as the United States becomes predictably more dependent on energy from the global south, as resistance to Western exploitation of its oil fields grows, as an energy race with newly ascendant China and India revs up, and as American foreign-policy elites come to rely increasingly on the U.S. military to overcome this resistance. Eventually, the escalation of these costs will require higher domestic taxes or diminished social benefits, or both; at some point, the growing need for manpower to guard all these overseas oil fields, refineries, pipelines, and tanker routes could entail resumption of the military draft. This will generate widespread resistance to these policies at home -- and this, in turn, may trigger the sorts of repressive government crackdowns that would throw an ever darkening shadow of Energo-fascism over our world.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum (Owl Books).

[Note: Look for part two of Michael Klare's "Is Energo-fascism in Your Future?" -- "Petro-power and the Nuclear Renaissance" -- later this week.]

Copyright 2007 Michael T. Klare

Two IDF officers get probation over deaths of Palestinians in 2002

21:50 15/01/2007

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

An Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps battalion commander, whose soldiers fired tank shells that killed four Palestinians in Jenin in 2002, recently plead guilty to negligence and was sentenced to three-months probation and a censure.

A company commander, who also plead guilty to negligence, was sentenced to probation and was demoted to second lieutenant.

The prosecution agreed to the deal due to difficulties in proving the connection between the officers' negligence and the deaths of the Palestinians.

In June 2002, shortly after Operation Defensive Shield, a brigade commander instructed the armored battalion under his command open fire, in order to disperse a number of civilians who were violating a full curfew in Jenin.

The battalion commander passed the order on to his troops, and emphasized that the fire must be directed at the "hazard barrier" (i.e. to an area a short distance away from the civilians).

However, the battalion commander was accused of failing to pass on the remainder of the instructions, which placed additional limitations on the fire.

One of the tanks fired on civilians in the Jenin market, killing a 53-year-old man and three children. Five additional civilians were injured.

The brigade commander faced disciplinary proceedings in connection with the deaths, and was exonerated of any wrongdoing.

The special military court issued a gag order on the identities of the officers involved (despite the fact that the brigade commander's name has already appeared in the press), citing concerns that they could face attempts to try them abroad.

ING Bank: 'Attacking Iran: The market impact of a surprise Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities'

Posted On: Friday, January 12, 2007, 2:17:00 PM EST

Gold Performing On Its own In Excess Of Small Inverse Relationship To The Dollar

Author: Jim Sinclair

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Below is a balanced good read from a universally respected non-gold source.

It is important to note that gold is performing on its own in excess of the small inverse relationship to the dollar. There is more than meets the eye in yesterday and today's events.

Here is a balanced appraisal of the market impact of a surprise attack by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities by a highly respected international banking and finance group. Although ING sees it possible but not probable, the read is clearly from a conservative standpoint.

My reaction is that should such an event take place it would NOT STOP right there and that is what would make it a SIGMA 10 event.

It is important to note that gold is performing on its own in excess of the small inverse relationship to the dollar. There is more than meets the eye in yesterday and today's events. I do not accept other points of motivation.

Attacking Iran
The market impact of a surprise Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities

The financial markets are assuming that an Israeli and/or US attack on Iran is unlikely. However, bellicose rhetoric from Israel and an imminent build-up of US forces in the Gulf suggest that they could be in for a shock.

An imminent attack would seem unlikely, given the weakness of the Israeli and US administrations, and hopes for regime change in Iran. However, Iran’s threats to Israel’s existence, and fears that it will acquire nuclear weapons within two years, suggest that President Bush may sanction action before he leaves office at the end of 2008.

However, within a month the US will have two aircraft carrier battle groups and a new expeditionary Marine strike force in the Persian Gulf, which might provide a shield for an Israeli bombing of Iran’s facilities. Israel reportedly has the weaponry to at least delay the nuclear programme.

A key imponderable is the extent of Iranian retaliation. Although missile and terrorist attacks on Israel and US interests would be likely, the threat of massive US retaliation, regional conflict and long-term damage to its political and commercial interests might limit Iran’s response.

More - PDF

Accountant General: Israel is the most corrupt country in the West

Last update - 22:30 15/01/2007

By Ora Coren, Haaretz Correspondent

The Finance Ministry's accountant general, Yaron Zelekha, said on Monday that Israel is the most corrupt country in the West, but that most of its civil service is honest and of high quality.

Zelekha said he is optimistic since the authorities are dealing with the problems efficiently and with determination.

Zelekha spent Monday with a security guard at his side- a result of the threats issued against him due to his fight against government corruption.

"Contrary to the public impression, I am very optimistic. The problem of corruption in the country is very serious, and we are for all practical purposes the most corrupt country in the Western world. This has been determined by international organizations," he explained.

"These matters were hidden under the table, and now they are out in the open - therefore I am optimistic. The public is aware of the affairs, and that is part of the healing process," Zelekha said.

He also defended the civil service, in spite of the inquiries into the Tax Authority. He said that the majority of the civil service was honest. According to him, the problem was that there were no checks and balances, and that there exist a few specific centers of corruption.

In addition to Zelekha's complaint to the state comptroller against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Bank Leumi privatization affair, there are sources who say he reported another 15 cases where Olmert intervened on behalf of businessmen in a manner contradicting proper procedures.

Impeach Bush—Stop Iran Invasion

January 14, 2007

By Paul Craig Roberts

When are the American people and their representatives in Congress and the military going to wake up and realize that the US has an insane war criminal in the White House who is destroying all chances for peace in the world and establishing a police state in the US?

Americans don’t have much time to realize this and to act before it is too late. Bush’s "surge" speech last Wednesday night makes it completely clear that his real purpose is to start wars with Iran and Syria before failure in Iraq brings an end to the neoconservative/Israeli plan to establish hegemony over the Middle East.

The "surge" gives Congress, the media, and the foreign policy establishment something to debate and oppose, while Bush sets his plans in motion to orchestrate a war with Iran.

Suddenly, we are hearing Bush regime propaganda that there are Iranian networks operating within Iraq that are working with the Iraqi insurgency and killing US troops. This assertion is a lie and preposterous on its face. Iranian Shi’ites are not going to arm Iraqi Sunnis, who are more focused on killing Iraqi Shi’ites allied with Iran than on killing US troops. If the Iranians wanted to cause the US trouble in Iraq, they would encourage Iraqi Shi’ites to join the insurgency against US forces. An insurgency drawn from 80% of the Iraqi population would overwhelm the US forces.

CBS reports that the news organization has been told by US officials "that American forces have begun an aggressive and mostly secret ground campaign against networks of Iranians that had been operating with virtual impunity inside Iraq." To manufacture evidence in behalf of this lie to feed to the gullible American public, US forces invaded an Iranian consulate in northern Iraq and kidnapped 5 consulate officials, claiming the Iranians were part of plans "to kill Americans." In typical Orwellian fashion, Secretary of State Condi Rice described Bush’s aggression against Iran as designed to confront Tehran’s aggression.

Iraqi government officials in the Kurdish province and the Iraqi foreign minister have refused to go along with Bush’s propaganda ploy. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced that the Iranian officials were no threat and were working in a liaison office that had Iraqi government approval and was in the process of being elevated into a consulate.

The Iraqi foreign minister said that US troops tried to seize more innocent people at the Irbil airport but were prevented by Kurdish troops.

The Kurds, of course, have been allies of the US forces, but Bush is willing to alienate the Kurds in the interest of provoking a war with Iran.

If Bush is unable to orchestrate war with Iran directly, he will orchestrate war indirectly by having US troops attack Iraqi Shi’ite militias. Bush has already given orders for US troops to attack the Iraqi Shi’ite militias, who oppose the Sunnis and have not been part of the insurgency. Obviously, once Bush can get US troops in open warfare with Iraqi Shi’ites, the situation for US troops in Iraq will quickly go down hill. Bush will be able to blame Iranian Shi’ites for arming Iraqi Shi’ites that he can say are killing US troops.

Bush has also ordered the Persian Gulf to be congested with two US aircraft carrier attack groups. There is no military or diplomatic reason for even one attack group to be in the Persian Gulf. If Bush fails to orchestrate a war with Iran by kidnapping its officials or by attacking Shi’ite militias, he can orchestrate an event like the Tonkin Gulf incident or have the Israelis pull another USS Liberty incident and blame the Iranians.

The Tonkin Gulf incident was used by the Johnson administration to deceive Congress and to involve the US in the Vietnam War. Johnson alleged a North Vietnamese attack on US warships.

In 1967 Israel attacked and destroyed the US intelligence ship Liberty, because Liberty’s crew had picked up proof that Israel had initiated the war with Egypt and intended to attack Syria the next day. Some have speculated that Israelis hoped their attack on the Liberty could be blamed on Egypt and used to draw the US into the war against Egypt.

In 2003 the Moorer Commission, headed by Admiral Tom Moorer, former Chief of Naval Operations and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, concluded:

"That in attacking the USS Liberty, Israel committed acts of murder against American servicemen and an act of war against the United States."

"That fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the U.S. Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty."

"…the Captain and surviving crew members were later threatened with court-martial, imprisonment or worse if they exposed the truth; and were abandoned by their own government."

"That due to the influence of Israel’s powerful supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people."

"That a danger to our national security exists whenever our elected officials are willing to subordinate American interests to those of any foreign nation, and specifically are unwilling to challenge Israel’s interests when they conflict with American interests."

On the 30th anniversary of Israel’s destruction of the liberty, Admiral Moorer said that Israel attacked the Liberty because Israel knew that the intelligence ship could intercept Israel’s plans to seize the Golan Heights from Syria, an act of Israeli aggression to which the US government was opposed. Admiral Moorer said, "I believe Moshe Dayan concluded that he could prevent Washington from becoming aware of what Israel was up to by destroying the primary source of acquiring that information--the US Liberty.”

Moorer reports that after a 25 minute air attack "that pounded the Liberty with bombs, rockets, napalm and machine gun fire . . . three Israeli torpedo boats closed in for the kill . . . the torpedo boats’ machine guns also were turned on life rafts that were deployed into the Mediterranean as well as those few on deck that had escaped damage."

Admiral Moorer says, "What is so chilling and cold-blooded, of course, is that they [Israel] could kill as many Americans as they did in confidence that Washington would cooperate in quelling any public outcry."

The US invasion of Iraq and the looming US attack on Iran are proof that Israel has even more power over the White House today.

Bush has many ways to widen his war in the Middle East. His brutal aggression against Somalia has largely escaped criticism for the war crime that it is. On January 11 the US National Intelligence Director told Congress that Hezbollah in Lebanon may be the next US threat. Just as he lied to the entire world about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Bush is lying about Iran. Bush and the neoconservatives are frantic for war with Iran to get underway before the US Congress forces a US withdrawal from the failed adventure in Iraq.

Bush’s entire "war on terror" is based on lies. The Bush Regime, desperate to keep its lies covered up, is now trying to prevent American law firms from defending the Guantanamo detainees. The Bush Regime is fearful that Americans will learn that the detainees are not terrorists but props in the regime’s orchestrated "terror war."

On January 13 the New York Times (editorial) said that "Cully Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, tried to rally American corporations to stop doing business with law firms that represent inmates of the Guantanamo internment camp." Stimson alleged that it was "shocking" that American law firms were "representing detainees down there." He suggested that when corporate America got word of if, "those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms. We want to watch that play out."

The only reason for the Bush Regime’s policy of indefinite detention without charges is that it has no charges to bring. The detainees are not terrorists. They are the Bush Regime’s props in a fake war that serves as cover for the Regime’s hegemonic policy in the Middle East.

The only action that can stop Bush is for both the Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and Senate to call on the White House, tell Bush they know what he is up to and that they will not fall for it a second time. The congressional leadership must tell Bush that if he does not immediately desist, he will be impeached and convicted before the week is out.

Can a congressional leadership that lives in fear of the Israel Lobby perform this task?

All the rest is penny-ante. Revoking the Iraqi War Resolution as Rep. Sam Farr has proposed or requiring Bush to obtain congressional authorization prior to any US attack on Iran simply lets Bush and his Federalist Society apologists for executive dictatorship claim he has commander-in-chief powers and proceed with his planned aggression. Cutting off funding is not itself enough as Bush can raid other budgets. Non-binding resolutions of disapproval are meaningless to a president who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

Nothing can stop the criminal Bush from instituting wider war in the Middle East that could become a catastrophic world war except an unequivocal statement from Congress that he will be impeached.

Bush has made the US into a colony of Israel. The US is incurring massive debt and loss of both life and reputation in order to silence Muslim opposition to Israel’s theft of Palestine and the Golan Heights.

That is what the "war on terror" is about.

Paul Craig Roberts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bush's fourth war against the Muslims

January 14, 2007

NEW YORK -- In his memorable, 1961 farewell speech, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans to avoid foreign entanglements and beware the growing power of the military-industrial complex.

It was sharply ironic to see American air strikes being launched this week from the decks of the mighty attack carrier USS Eisenhower against the remote East African nation of Somalia.

"The U.S. has opened a fourth front in the war on terrorism," trumpeted the Pentagon, as if it did not have enough failing wars on its hands.

U.S. warplanes and special forces attacked Somalia from the sea and from the U.S. base at Djibouti. Other U.S. units deployed on the Kenya-Somalia border. Much of Somalia is already occupied by Ethiopia's powerful, U.S.-financed army. Ethiopia invaded defenseless Somalia, with Washington's blessing, under cover of the Christmas holiday.

But was Somalia really a "hotbed of terrorism" as Washington claimed? The U.S.-Ethiopian invasion of Somalia was sparked by last fall's defeat of corrupt Somali warlords armed and financed by the CIA. They had kept Somalia in turmoil and near anarchy for 15 years. Last year, a group of Muslim jurists and notables, the Union of Islamic Courts, managed to defeat the warlords and impose law and order on chaotic Somalia.

The conservative Islamic Courts were sympathetic to pan-Muslim causes. But they were not involved in anti-American jihadist movements and had no identifiable links, as Washington loudly claimed, to al-Qaida. Four or five African suspects on the 1998 bombing of U.S. Embassies in East Africa may have been in Somalia, but going to war against a sovereign nation to try to assassinate or capture a handful of suspects (some reportedly escaped) is like using a nuclear weapon to kill a gnat and is sure to generate more anti-U.S. violence.

But in line with increasing militarization of U.S. foreign policy, the Pentagon's new golden-haired boys, Special Operations Command, pushed aside the humiliated CIA and the feckless State Department and vowed to "drain the Islamic swamp" in Somalia.

Thus begins U.S.President George W. Bush's fourth war against the Muslim world. He failed dismally to capture Osama bin Laden, conquer Iraq, or pacify Afghanistan. Dirt-poor, defenceless Somalia is Bush's last stab at glory.

Once again, the administration is recklessly charging into a thicket of tribal politics in a remote nation it knows nothing about. U.S. policy in Somalia is being driven by rabid neocons seeking jihad against the entire Muslim world, by gung-ho, know-nothing generals, and self-serving advice from ally Ethiopia. Eritrea's 1993 secession took away Ethiopia's natural access to the sea, leaving it landlocked. Ethiopia's prime goal in Somalia is seizing one or more deep-water ports, turning Somalia into a protectorate, and crushing any Islamic movements that might inflame its own voiceless Muslims.

America's attack on Somalia recalls Afghanistan. The U.S. is again blundering into ancient clan and tribal conflicts, using foreign troops and local mercenaries to defend a hated puppet regime without any popular support. Unfortunately, the word "Islamic" triggers murderous, knee jerk reactions by Washington's war party and the Pentagon's dimmer generals. The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. As U.S. soldiers once said in that earlier counter-terrorism success, Vietnam, "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out."

Like Afghanistan, Somalia was easy to invade, but may prove very difficult to rule or eventually leave. The invading Ethiopians, blood foes of Somalis, were not greeted with flowers, as U.S. neocons again promised. Somalis saw the U.S. and Ethiopians as invaders, and the now scattered Islamic Courts militias as their best hope for stability and normalcy.

The White House is using puny Somalia as a straw man to be set up and knocked down. "War president" Bush desperately needs a victory in his bungled "war on terror." After three defeats, a fake victory over a fake Islamic threat in obscure Somalia is just the kind of jolly news Bush & Co. hopes will cheer gloomy Americans and divert attention from the disaster in Iraq.