Cheney and the Iraq Cabal

Date 2005/11/3 11:30:00

Paris, November 1, 2005 – What began last week in Washington with Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s indictment was the first step in exposing a scandal that surely will eventually drive the United States out of Iraq just as as Watergate drove the Nixon administration out of Vietnam. The Nixon administration’s ability to go on with that doomed war was terminated because its popular trust had been destroyed by crimes and lies.
Too bad for the million and a half Vietnamese and 50 thousand Americans killed. The way it all came out for the Vietnamese was just the way it would have come out if there had been no American intervention. Vietnam was unified by the force of nationalism, whose strength had been preempted and mobilized by the Vietnamese Communists. The American intervention had been useless and the American war pointless, and deeply damaging to the U.S.

In Vietnam there was a powerful element of tragedy since it was a civil war exploited, and in the end distorted, by two foreign interventions, the French, involved by France’s century of colonial presence, and then the American, prompted by ideology and a deluded interpretation of what was going on.
Iraq might have become a tragedy, but a meaningful one, had the Iraqis rebelled against Saddam Hussein. There was no revolt, perhaps because of a certain political passivity in Islamic society, influenced by the notion of submission to the will of God. It took the foreign intrusion to provoke this insurgency. Something of the same thing happened in 1920, when the Iraqis resisted installation of a British mandate government.
For the Iraqis, what is the point in this struggle? They are well rid of Saddam Hussein and the Ba’athist dictatorship, but getting rid of them was their responsibility, not the concern of the United States. Only they now can judge whether it has been worth the Iraqi deaths (the latest figure I have seen is some 30,000 deaths from American military action, and the Pentagon has just announced that some 26,000 have been killed by other Iraqis in the sectarian maelstrom ignited by the invasion).
Leave aside the American and coalition dead. But the Iraqis never invited the Americans and their unenthusiastic coalition partners to come, so those deaths have to be nailed to Washington’s door.
Actually to a number of named doors, specifically those whom Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, has described as the “secretive, little-known cabal,” ferociously repressing dissent, run by Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, with the assistance of Scooter Libby -- “Cheney’s Cheney,” now under criminal indictment.
The cabal was not that successfully secretive, either. Its membership and mission, mustering evidence to mislead the American people into the Iraq war, was well known at the time but generally unmentioned in the mainstream press. This was gossip and bloggers’ stuff, and retailing it was not good for Washington careers, so long as the spell of administration power was unbroken.
The important Rome newspaper La Repubblica has been running an investigation of the Italian role in producing the phony document concerning alleged uranium from Niger that the hapless Colin Powell took into the UN Security Council in early 2003 to argue for the invasion.
The “evidence” Powell had of Iraqi attempts to get uranium was a mixture of inventions and forgeries by Italian intelligence service toadies and hangers’-on, mixed with stuff from the 1980s when Niger really was in the uranium business. It was offered to the British who turned it down. It was given to the French who threw it away. It was given to the CIA who said it was junk.
It was given to the White House special Iraq group and they loved it. It was just what they wanted. It then seems to have been re-circulated to the British, and Tony Blair bought it unsourced, sending it on to Washington to be cited by the White House as reconfirmation of its own version of the same information. George Bush presented it as true in his 2003 State of the Union message.
The heartbreaking thing is that so many have suffered and died because of what this American administration did for reasons that even now remain obscure.
If there had been a serious reason for invading Iraq they would not have so desperately had to pursue spurious rationales.
If there was a clear and major strategic reason for the United States to invade Iraq, they could have come out with it and the public would have supported them. Instead they lied, and got their way through intimidation and career blackmail.
Surely Tony Blair must have understood this, when the head of British intelligence had already told him in July 2002, nearly a year before the invasion, that war had been decided in Washington and “intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.” What can he possibly have expected to gain from implicating himself in this? Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has just said that he told Bush not to do it.
Historians in Britain as well as the United States will eventually have to sort out the pieces in this sordid affair. By then, few Americans are likely to remember the mutilated in the Veterans’ hospitals here and abroad, or those Iraqis who failed to survive the months of chaos and meaningless violence inflicted on Baghdad, Falluja, and the rest of Iraq, by a cabal of little men in Washington responsible for this war. By then, some of them might even be in prison. Let’s hope so. At Guantanamo, by preference.

Copyright 2005 by Tribune Media Services. All Rights Reserved.

This article comes from William PFAFF

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