Look at a map of the Middle East and find our two main warzones. Iraq on the left, Afghanistan on the right and- hello!- Iran in the middle. And to the south, the Persian Gulf where we've recently sent some more of our naval might to fortify the zone. We've got Iran surrounded, and this may be the most important reason that BushCo will not pull out of Iraq. Forget WMD's and Saddam, forget the oil and even the massive giveaways to contractors (I know it's hard); we have Iran surrounded on three sides (thanks a lot Turkmenistan!) and that is BushCo's strategy for containment, however badly it has been executed. As for the Axis of Evil's other living dictatorship North Korea, we have not only not surrounded them but have actually removed troops from the North/South Korea border. And consider this: North Korea has the 4th largest military in the world with 1.2 million active forces and more than 5 million reserves, while nearly 23% of their GDP goes to military spending. Most of those active forces are stationed within 65 km of the DMZ that divides North and South Korea and they have tested long range missiles and YET they are somehow less of a threat than Iran. And they already have nuclear weapons! Iran's active forces are just over half a million and only 3.3% of their GDP goes to military spending. And earlier this month, military analysts at a security conference in the Persian Gulf said that Iran's military poses little threat. Imagine that. So why are we taking such a provocative and aggressive stance with Iran rather than North Korea? The answer has roots with an organization known as PNAC, which sees the world as America's dominion and has planned (without reality-based "actual planning") for a century of global US dominance and American military preeminence. Way to start off the party, gentlemen.
For those of you familiar with PNAC, or Project for a New American Century, none of this should come as a surprise. Especially since our foreign policy under BushCo has used PNAC as a blueprint to shape it's course and even it's HR infrastructure. Just check out some of the names involved with PNAC when they signed a letter delivered to then-President Clinton on Jan 26, 1998:
Donald Rumsfeld (party planner for WW3)
John Bolton (anti-Walmart Greeter to the world)
Richard Armitage (Deputy Sec. of State under GW Bush, high ranking in Defense Dept since Reagan)
Richard Perle (Chairman of the Board, Defense Policy Board 2001-2003, asst Sec. of Defense under Ronald Reagan)
Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Sec. of Defense under GW Bush, architect of Iraq Inferno, currently President of the World Bank)
William J. Bennett (Sec. of Education under Reagan, Drug Czar under Bush I, moral novelist, gambler)
William Kristol (Founder of PNAC, conservative pundit or possibly wonk)
Peter W. Rodman (Asst Sec. of Defense under GW Bush)
Paula J. Dobriansky (currently Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs)
Zalmay Khalilzad (currently Ambassador to Iraq, soon to be the post-Bolton Ambassador to the UN, highest ranking Afghan and Muslim in the US Govt)
Elliot Abrams (currently Dep. Nat. Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, former Special Asst to GW Bush and Senior Director of the NSC, not to mention plead guilty- and was pardoned!- in the Iran-Contra affair)
PNAC's Sept. 20, 2001 letter to Bush was also signed by luminaries such as:
Jeane Kirkpatrick (UN Ambassador under Ronald Reagan)
Gary Bauer (Served as Ronald Reagan's Under Secretary of Education and Domestic Policy Advisor from 1985 to 1989, Family Research Council 1988-1999)
Charles Krauthammer (neo-con columnist, author and boastful bloviator)
And for good measure, PNAC's most enlightening Sept 2000 paper entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses is co-signed by I. Lewis Libby (yes, Scooter himself, that rascal).
It's amazing to look back to pre-9/11 days and see all these now familiar names come together with such meticulous thought. Kind of makes the whole foreign policy fiasco we are faced with seem a lot more pre-planned, doesn't it? Let's step back to a year before 9/11 and check out their plan for Rebuilding America's Defenses, shall we? What, pray tell, was this group suggesting the US do with it's foreign policy at the end of the Clinton years? Keep in mind, this was a few months shy of the Bush/Gore 2000 debacle where we elected one guy and got stuck with the other (thanks Supreme Court!). Though I encourage you to read it yourself, some of these highlights will help illuminate the ideological foundation for BushCo's no-exit strategy.
First of all, it helps to look at the 4 "core missions" they suggest for US military forces:
Hmmm.... well, defending the homeland would still be a great idea. Anytime you're ready, gents! And how, in a time of relative peace, is it a "mission" to engage in multiple, simultaneous major theater wars? With whom were we thinking in 2000? Mind you, it doesn't say "be prepared to" fight. As to "constabulary" duties, we all know how loved we are as the World Police, especially in the Iraq Civil War. I know, what would they do without us? I imagine the answer is kill each other, not our under-armored and well-targeted soldiers standing between them. And by exploiting the "revolution in military affairs," does that mean dumping 15-20 billion more dollars a year into the defense industry's new products and services? You betcha! And the less accounting and accountability for those dollars, the better.
But back in 2000, they all seemed to agree that North Korea- not Iran- was the biggest threat to us worldwide:
"North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland. Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace."
Notice how that "verge" is still verging, as Kim J hasn't lobbed any NoKo projectiles anywhere even close to us. And as to our constabulary presence in the Middle East, check this quote out:
"The Air Force presence in the Gulf region is a vital one for U.S. military strategy, and the United States should consider it a de facto permanent presence, even as it seeks ways to lessen Saudi, Kuwaiti and regional concerns about U.S. presence. "
The word "permanent presence" is key here because we have built huge bases over there that aren't going to be deconstructed when we "win" the war. We have been there for years and we are there to stay. True, there are a lot of people that don't appreciate that and who can blame them? We turned from liberators into an occupying force with none of our original reasons or intentions for being there. Maybe they also don't appreciate some of the good things we're doing for them, like painting schools and building roads. But ultimately, our presence is suspect. We keep changing reasons why we're there, jumping from justification to justification to stay afloat in a very dangerous sea, and they look at us as an occupying power that is not, for the most part, welcome at all. It's like we're trying to hug a bees nest. But filled with explosive bees who strap on chlorine tanks and blow up innocent civilians, including many children. No matter what, you can't contain a bee hive by hugging it tighter. And once you've riled the swarm, your options are severely limited.
There is a certain level of an almost Fascist ideal for domination in the PNAC philosophy and no shortage of it in this document. Such as in this quote:
"The Air Force must retain its ability to deploy and sustain sufficient numbers of aircraft to deter wars and shape any conflict in its earliest stages. Indeed, it is the Air Force, along with the Army, that remains the core of America's ability to apply decisive military power when its pleases."
The key phrase here is "when its pleases" which leaves open a host of vague whims as rational for military conflict (yellowcake, anyone?). A New American Century where we somehow rule the planet and everyone plays by our rules. Wow. Interesting dream, though I don't see the practical implications or even the remote possibility of it happening. That being said, reality never seems to sway the power mongers of history and they certainly do their best to succeed. But as long as we have to sweep up after their failures, it is in our best interest to keep them from taking us too far down this unfortunate and unpleasant path. Because the path is a never-ending and constant march for war. Which is why we have helped cultivate a vast array of enemies that we can then fight with our erect and throbbing army. That way, Defense Inc, their lobbyists and all the contractors in the world sleep happily as they spend our money on a continual quest for new enemies. And just in case you thought we didn't have it covered globally, there's still space, the final frontier. Check out this quote, a harbinger of things to come:
"The ability to preserve American military preeminence in the future will rest in increasing measure on the ability to operate in space militarily."
and this telling quote, also from 2000:
"Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event ‐ like a new Pearl Harbor."
9/11 anyone? After 9/11, they pushed that transformation as hard as possible. Money went flying out the door to Big Defense and to lots and lots of contractors. Middlemen doing many jobs our Army used to. One wonders how much money we would save if we just paid soldiers to do all those jobs like they used to and cut out the middlemen. Not all of those contractors are or were dishonest but as we find billions of dollars unaccounted for, we see a chain of corruption that spreads like a cancer through the phalanx of hired help that almost equals our own military numbers in Iraq. Once you add their numbers in- both active duty and killed/injured in battle- our presence in Iraq becomes a much bigger picture, though these non-military security forces are subject to much less accountability and scrutiny (read: none) than our own soldiers and commanders. They act in our name yet do not somehow represent the United States at war. That is a concept that is fraught with flaws, abuse and ultimately, danger. And we have just scratched the surface of that deep and well-fed cancer.
Lastly, read this telling quote from PNAC's Key Findings in September 2000:
"Today, the United States has an unprecedented strategic opportunity. It faces no immediate great-power challenge; it is blessed with wealthy, powerful and democratic allies in every part of the world; it is in the midst of the longest economic expansion in its history; and its political and economic principles are almost universally embraced. At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals."
Just remember that was at the end of the Clinton Administration. Guess it wasn't so bad after all, eh?