Thursday 22 April 2004

The War on Terror Really Sucks Now

by Trowbridge H. Ford

The first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks found the world in much different shape than the leaders in Washington, London, and Tel Aviv had planned, and anticipated. Rather than a slow build-up for regime change in Afghanistan at the expense of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, and his hosts, the Taliban, America and Britain had been forced by Israel - thanks to its apparent assassination of the Northern Alliance's Ahmed Shah Masood, its failure to inform the Americans what the hijackers had planned, and the anthrax letters it sent to important Democrats in the Senate to panic the population - to accelerate rapidly the process, and radically expand its scope.

The attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon - which the Bush administration totally miscalculated by thinking that they were simple hijackings which could be escorted to Los Angeles, and then put down at Afghanistan's expense - stampeded Washington into an all-out-war against its Muslim enemies, though its character and timetable had to be hidden for domestic, international, and legal reasons. To get the country behind the mission, Washington acted as if they attacks represented another Pearl Harbor, arresting Muslims like FDR did Japanese back in 1941. To get Prime Minister Blair behind the war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the United States conducted a swfit air assault against the Taliban, opening up the country for reoccupation by the Northern Alliance and other warlords, and making Al-Qaeda take to the mountains and parts unknown - Western intelligence increasingly claiming Iraq.

Then London put together its Iraqi Weapons Dossier, contending that Saddam's regime had put in place rapidly developing nuclear, biological, chemical and missile weapons programs since the UN weapons inspectors had been forced out of Iraq in 1998, and Iraq was now deeply involved in hiding what it was doing. Within 45 minutes, it claimed, Saddam could attack Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and, of course, Israel, though it was unnamed for obvious reasons, with biological and chemical weapons. Iraq was allegedly seeking nuclear technology which could result in it having atomic weapons within two years. Several mobile biological and chemical laboratories were giving it almost the same capability with these WMD.

At this point, the war on terror spun again dangerously out of control, thanks to these developments:

(1) Washington still had an opportunity to stop making matters worse, but it, especially the Congress, chose not to do so. When the 9/11 attacks occurred, President Bush acted as if the United States was confronted with WWIII, recalling the attacks which started WWII in most self-serving terms. The Whie House acted as if there was no precedent for seriously investigating what had happened at this juncture, though President Roosevelt did appoint an inquiry to investigate why the attacks at Pearl Harbor were allowed to occurr - resulting in the scapegoating admittedly of Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short. But when the war in the Pacific was still progressing, the US Navy conducted an inquiry of its own which resulted in a far differnt result - Admiral Bull Halsey volunteering at the hearings that Admiral Kimmel had been badly treated by FDR's men in explaining the attacks

In this context, Bush should have immedialey appointed a proper commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks since the crisis was far less serious than what had happened back in 1941, and when he did not, the Congress should have immediately done so. It only got up the gumption for one of its own after a year, and a year is a very long time under such circumstances - a time for all kinds of more immediate and self-serving considerations to be paramount. The joint inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress, while identifying most of the dots which America's intelligence community either misread or overlooked in the leadup to the attacks, explained them almost completely at the expense of Saudi Arabia - what the White House helped validate by excising those parts from its report when it allowed it to become public.

The source, of course, of the problem was the 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, and its officialdom, like America's, had dealt with them in all kinds of ways. This did not mean that Riyadh, or Washington, for that matter, was involved in the plots, but the hard-pressed congressmen chose to do so. Things like any official assistance to the hijackers themselves, or private help to persons who came in contact with them, or slightly knew them were seen as complicity in the plots. (Just think of the consequence of following this course with ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of JFK.) In this case, the Saudis became the fallguys for everyone else's foul ups.

(2) Having politicised the attacks in a way which drew bipartisan support, President Bush allowed the appointment of a commission to examine the facts surrounding them. Its content was determined by the leaderships of the Repubican and Democratic parties, and they picked persons who collectively would reinforce a similar conclusion - partisans who would attack the other's parties efforts to prevent terrorism, former officials whose records would oblige them to be most protective of their former bosses, and compromisers who had already been effective in cover ups.

The commissioners who come to mind in the first regard are former Illinois Governor James Thompson and Senator Max Clelland of Georgia. John Lehman when he was Secretary of the Navy helped bring on the Iran-Contra Scandal, resulting in his being forced to resign, and Jamie Gorelick spent much of her time at the Department of Justice, protecting her boss, President Clinton, from being removed from office. Former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton made their careers by working with the leadership of the other party. For good measure, historian Philip Zelikow, who had co-authored books with NSA Condoleezza Rice, and was serving on panels appointed by Bush, was made the Commission's Staff Director, guaranteeing that it would essentially cover up its causes.

Zelikow is on record that the attacks could not be prevented because of structural problems with American intelligence gathering - the United States does not have an agency like Britain's Security Service which can act both at home, and abroad. Once former Bush insiders spread convenient distractions that the White House had been too preoccupied with Iraq, Zelikow even testified before the Commission that the attacks could not have been prevented. With all the groundwork having been laid, Rice has now testified to the same effect. The Bush administration, like all effective autocratic regimes, knows how to get its way no matter what it does to the nation.

(3) When crunch time came at the United Nations - when the Coalition was still thinking about the need of a second resolution to justify an attack upon Iraq - Secretary of State Colin Powell could have greatly simplified matters by simply ruling it out. While Blair was still telling everyone that Britain would not go to war without a second resolution - what he still didn't stick to when the resolution seemed doomed to failure - the French indicated that they would not make a fuss if Washington and London simply went ahead with their war.

Instead of going ahead, Powell made the most outrageous statement to the Security Council on February 5, 2003 - a wish list about Iraq's WMD which the most sceptical inspectors, crazy members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, and supporters of the Mossad's new Director General, Meir Dagan, could hardly add to. His thick intelligence file was bostered by NSA tapes of alleged conversations between Iraqi officials in the field and Baghdad, showing that they were moving prohibited vehicles and weapons to fool the inspectors. Powell was most pointed about Saddam's massive, mobile anthrax capability, reminding the Council of what Al-Qaeda might have done with just a teaspoon of the dried spores after the 9/11 attacks. For good measure, the Secretary of State alluded to what Iraq's biolgoical weapons chief Rihad Taha, known by the sobriquet Dr. Germ, had done with massive experiments upon unwilling prisoners, and what Osama's expert in the field, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, might well have done in America while seeking medical treatment in Baghdad.

While the claims promised finding Saddam's WMD the top priority if there was a war, Washington and London hard liners in the intelligence community made it inevitable by spying on reluctant members of the Council trying to work out a compromise, making sure that it didn't succeed.

(4) The war in Iraq was, perhaps, the most barbaric in history, smashing its society, blasting its infrastructure, murdering masses instead of leaders, destroying necessary facilities for maintaining security and any possible peace after the end of conflict, putting such a high priority on avoiding casualities that it killed many of its own forces through "friendly fire" incidents, etc., ad nauseam.
By my calculations, 25,000 Iraqis were killed during this brutal attack, many in their own homes, and several thousand troops in their bunkers and barracks. The amount of depleted uranium in the weapons used could lead to massive problems with cancer in the Iraqi population down the road.

As even America's proconsul for the occupied country, L. Paul Bremer III, recently admitted, its "economy was flat on its back" after the attack, there was no police anywhere to be seen, the smashed army had simply disappeared, electrical power generated for April 2003 amounted to a meaningless 300 megawatts, the public health system was an empty shell, the canal system was totally useless, the telephone system was inoperative, the banking system was in ruins, there were no institutions of government, etc. The Coalition of the willing had subjected Iraq, except for its bridges to minimize its casualities, to total war, hardly what one would expect from an invader claiming its only motives in coming was to free the population from its cruel dictator and his minions.

Then the Coalition was more interested in settling scores with dangerous members of the former regime - seeking solutions to its problems - rather than serving the interests of the Iraqi people. Saddam's sons were killed to make sure that these most deserving enemies of it were never in a position to tell tales about Washington's, London's, and Tel Aviv's former dealings with them, making them martyrs in the process. Saddam, on the other hand, was captured, given prisoner of war status, and left to the Iraqis to try so that he did represent the same threat as his dead sons. Other members of the notorious pack of cards were treated with kid gloves in the hopes that they would help find Íraq's WMD.

(5) The Coalition compounded these problems by replacing administrator Jay Garner, the joivial general who had some real rapport with the peoples of Iraq, by the neocon mission maker Bremer. He is an America firster in the Teddy Roosevelt style, but he also has a special agenda for those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Bremer served with Oliver North as co-chairman of the NSC's Operations Sub-Group when the illegal activities of Reagan's White House entered their most dangerous phase. As the President's Ambassador at-Large for Counterterrorism, he was deeply invovled in carrying a big stick against the Soviets while speaking softly, if at all. Bremer believed that everyone, including the press, should get behind Washington's covert war against the "evil empire", and consequently, he was deeply involved when North, Secretary Navy Lehman, and CNO Admiral James Watkins arranged to take out the Soviet underwater nuclear deterrent by surprise - what the asssassination of Swedish statsminister Olof Palme was to trigger on February 28, 1986. He then helped solve all the problems at Libya's expense when Soviet spies Rick Ames and Robert Hanssen helped spoil plans against Moscow.

With these credentials, Bremer became Managing Director of Kissinger Associates in 1989. After the 9/11 attacks which killed 295 employees of the financial services firm Marsh & McLennan, Bremer was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Marsh Crisis Consulting Company, a new company to help repair the damage.

(6) In Iraq, Bremer has been completely concerned with managing the situation, not helping solve the problem - getting the Iraqis so they can manage their own affairs. While concentrating upon restoring services, killing troublemakers, and building up businesses - what Marsh Crisis Consulting is ecstatic about - he has increasingly adopted a hard nose approach to growing political turnoil and social unrest, and expects the press to do the same. In the process, he has adopted just the wrong approach he has long protested against in dealing with terrorism.

Bremer expects, demands that the press adopt a "do no harm" approach to terrorism. "They have to understand that they are not just observers," Bremer explained in 1990, "they are part of the incident. They are a major reason for the they don't have the luxury of folding their arms and saying, "Well, we're just reporters here.' " When this has not happened increasingly in Iraq, Bremer has taken to the soapbox, explaining that the unrest is the result of outside troublemakers, there is little room for compromise with people like Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the terrorists must be crushed, the perpetrators of the ghastly attacks in Falluja must be punished, and the like.

Terrorists worldwide could not have hoped for a better script for bringing down America, and its Coalition of the willing.