THE BLOG
05/01/2007 02:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Who's the Enemy?

Yesterday, I was reading the piece by Owen West on the New York
Times
' op-ed page. West laments that now, just as US forces seem to be
making some headway in Iraq, US voters want to get out. I don't agree
with West about the headway, but he's entitled to his opinion (for
now, anyway). Then I came to the following line, "We're four years
into a global conflict that will span generations, fighting virulent
ideologues obsessed with expansion." It reminded me of something. Oh,
yeah. It reminded me of PNAC. It reminded me of the 2000 PNAC report
entitled "Rebuilding American Defenses," which contained lines like,
"blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise
of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order
in line with American principles and interests"... This "American grand
strategy" must be advanced for "as far into the future as possible."
The US must "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major
theatre wars" as a "core mission." (Thanks to Neil McKay for these
quotes, though I did read the report [pdf]) I was wondering who West's
"virulent ideologues" might be--Sunnis? Shias? Kurds? Saudis?
Pakistanis? Venezuelans? But then I realized. They are us.

Here's how the sequence of events went: In 2000, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Wolfowitz, Kristol, and others decided that the US was the boss of the
world, and was to be the boss of the world for at least a hundred
years. Cheney made himself vice president and grafted his ambitions
onto whatever Bush thought he was doing. Already in "Rebuilding
America's Defenses," the PNACkers were planning to get rid of Saddam
Hussein, but then after the Republicans cheated and bullied their way
into the presidency (thank you, Jeb Bush), they disdained everything
Clinton had learned about Al Qaeda and the Middle East and a potential
terrorist attack on American soil. When that attack occurred, they
instantly annexed it to their agenda, and used it as an excuse to
begin a civil war in Iraq, get rid of Saddam, and take control of the
oil (not, as Greg Palast says, to turn the spigot on but to turn it
off, and raise prices and profits). Having begun the Iraq civil war,
which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries to
Iraqis and Americans, not to mention the internal displacement of
millions, the PNACkers have no interest in ending it (and don't know
how, anyway).

Why is that? It is because they don't know who the enemy is, or
rather, because they define the enemy as anyone who is opposed to
American interests. Today the enemy is one set of Islamic
fundamentalists, tomorrow it will be another set. Today, two sets of
Islamicists are against us. Tomorrow, one set will be for us and the
other set will have found a new ally, and be against us. But, in
actual fact, how can any person or any group in the Middle East or
Europe or China or Africa or South America define themselves as the
PNACkers define them, solely in relation to American interests? People
and groups have to define themselves in relation to their own
interests. If, for example, they have a resource, such as oil, it is
in their own interest to possess it and profit from it. Are they
really required to think first about what the gas-guzzling,
bomb-wielding Americans might want? Well, yes, if we can make them.
But we aren't actually "in the right" if we make them do so by force
or by threats.

The way the PNACkers think has a surface allure, but it is actually
corrupt nonsense, based on only the dimmest sort of ideas of how the
world works. The goal of "Rebuilding America's Defenses" was to remake
American armed forces with the specific purpose of controlling peoples
and resources all around the world in order to enforce American
notions of what various countries and peoples should be doing in their
own countries -- hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were going
to be enforcers of PNAC ideas about "democracy" and "the free market."
What if these people didn't want American forces in their countries?
Well, the implication was, they would get them anyway. Why fighting
men and women, and not, say, trade representatives and diplomats?
Well, soldiers are a threat, and if citizens of other countries acted
in opposition to American interests, they could easily be punished.
This plan presupposes that in any country and in any conflict,
Americans would know what their interests are, but history shows, of
course, that THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Iraq is our number one example. By
any measure -- money, reputation, good-will, humanity -- the PNACkers have
shown unequivocally that they do not even begin to know what American
interests are.

One crazy thing you can try at home is to project your own ideas and
fears onto others. When right-wingers like West see an implacable
ideological foe in the Islamic world where others see chaos and
diversity of intention and opinion, they are really seeing their own
superpower fantasies. These fantasies have no actual relation to the
world around us, but they are dangerous to everyone, as the military
fantasies of the PNACkers have shown. West doesn't define the enemy,
because even having been in Iraq, he doesn't actually know who the
enemy is.

The Atlas of the Novel Needs you! Go to therealjanesmiley today!