What's Left

December 7, 2004

War Hawks in Dove's Clothing

By Stephen Gowans

While the US has launched an open ended "war on terror," so far claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who had no connection to Osama bin Laden, Washington demands that Russia find a political, not military, solution to its own "war on terror" in Chechnya. There's even an improbably named American Committee for Peace in Chechnya to press the case for diplomacy, whose membership just as improbably includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter national security advisor who sparked the Afghanistan war by secretly arming Afghan warlords, and who, in 1997, wrote a book, The Grand Chessboard, explaining how the United States could achieve global primacy by dominating Eurasia, a huge chunk of real estate that happens to not only include Afghanistan, but Chechnya, as well.

The committee also boasts the membership of Reagan secretary of state George Shultz, who headed a committee pressing the White House to invade Iraq; and Bruce P. Jackson, formerly of Lockheed-Martin, who sits on various committees that facilitate the expansion of NATO to former communist countries, which are then expected to place orders for expensive war toys from his former employer.

War hawk Richard Perle, Pentagon advisor, and one of the Bush circle's velociraptors, is also a member, as are, among other foreign policy establishment alumni, Al Haig Jr., formerly NATO Supreme Commander and Reagan secretary of state, Cap (The Knife) Weinberger, Reagan's Pentagon boss, and Reagan advisor and diehard anti-communist historian Richard Pipes.

Peaceniks? Hardly. More like practioners of a high-stakes game of geopolitics, who've never had a momentary twinge of conscience over the exercise of US military might abroad, especially in connection with the "war on terrorism." So why the aversion to the Russian military exercising its might for the same declared ends?

Laying bare the chicanery of the Americans' "peace" committee, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a demand of his own. "Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace." ["A softer tone from Bush on Ukraine points to a quandary for the U.S," The New York Times, November 30, 2004.]

Examples of hypocrisy where foreign policy is concerned are like 50 percent off sales after Christmas - you don't have to look far to find them. Apart from the obvious double standard over the desirability of military versus diplomatic solutions, there's Washington's declaring its adamantine opposition to Iran having nuclear technology, even for peaceful civilian use. It's bad enough that the US is loaded to the gunnels with nukes, is working on nuclear bunker buster bombs, and maintains a list of countries that could be targeted by a nuclear strike. What makes it worse is that its attention to the possible proliferation activities of other countries is a tad selective.

At the same time dark and menacing scenarios were being bruited about over Iran possessing nuclear technology, Washington was interceding on Brazil 's behalf, after the latter complained that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was getting a little too intrusive in its inspection demands. Not to worry, declared Washington, Brazil is pro-West, pro-investment, and fiscally conservative, which presumably means the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is okay so long as the weapons are used for pro-West, pro-investment, and fiscally conservative ends.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's testing rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads passed without comment, and Washington declined to report south Korea's secret nuclear experiments to the UN Security Council. If only north Korea received the same treatment. But then, if it did, it wouldn't need a nuclear weapons program.

The reliably pro-Washington New York Times, eager to deny the taint of hypocrisy, explained that "Islamic" Iran is "hostile to the US," the "Islamic" modifier hinting the newspaper's editorial board harbors aspirations to resurrect the crusades. What does Iran being Islamic have to do with the country wanting to build nuclear reactors? It's irrelevant, but the threat hangs menacingly. If the "Islamic" and "hostile" ayatollahs ever lay hands on a nuclear warhead, it's game over - or so it's intimated.

But game over for what? According to an Israeli official, it's game over for US and Israeli military hegemony in the Middle East. Which is another way of saying it's game over for the possibility of blithely blundering into oil-producing countries without taking too many casualties. Invasions are much more an attractive option where the victim doesn't really have weapons of mass destruction, (notwithstanding "mistaken" intelligence.)

Astonishingly, Colin Powell, the man who swore up and down that Saddam Hussein absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent for sure, was sitting on a secret cache of banned weapons, is now swearing up and down that Iran absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent for sure, has a secret nuclear weapons program, though he's produced nothing to back his claim, and the IAEA says there's no evidence Iran is building a bomb.

But wait. The atomic agency concedes it can't say for sure that Iran isn't secretly building nuclear weapons, which is more than enough for the fear-mongers at the State Department, and their janissaries in the nation's newsrooms. No one, including Mohamed ElBaradei, can say for sure I'm not Brad Pitt writing under a pseudonym. Is it so?

To say Powell has a credibility problem is tantamount to saying Martha Stewart has a "how do I get this jail time reduced?" problem. But then with the way the media treats Powell's every utterance as that of a man carrying around a sodium pentothal drip he can't get rid of, you'd never know he has a history of being astonishingly, glaringly, and magnificently full of shit. If the press had half a gram of devotion to the truth, it would preface every remark of Powell's with, "The notorious liar and fabulist Colin Powell said today" as a public service warning.

As for Iran being hostile to the US, I'm reminded of "axis of evil" creator David Frum's explanation of why Iraq, Iran and north Korea were put on Washington's hit list. Because they resent U.S. power, the former Bush speechwriter said. Translation: They refused to be bullied. Millions of Europeans resented Nazi Germany's power too. Is it any surprise the Fuhrer provoked their hostility?

On the other hand, Brazil and Pakistan get a buy because they're pro-West, which means pro-US, which means they don't resent US power, which means, to put it indelicately, they'll bend over if Uncle Sam, the ardent sodomist, asks them to.

Washington's determination to deprive Iran of both a civilian nuclear power industry and nuclear weaponry, is simply another chapter in a long story of advanced countries stifling the development and independence of Third World countries, whose proper place in the world capitalist economy, if the advanced countries have their druthers, is as sources of raw materials, markets for the export of commodities, and fields for the profitable investment of capital. Accordingly, they must be kept incapable of defending themselves against imperialist plunder -- which means no weapons of mass destruction. These are to remain the sole prerogative of the plunderers

Iran's neighbor, Iraq, which had a largely publicly owned economy, followed a model more adapted to enriching the lives of Iraqis than of US investors. And with pre-invasion oil-field development contracts going to European, Russian and Chinese firms, and not the locked-out-by-sanctions US oil majors, once the murderous sanctions regime began to crumble, the logic of a predatory war of conquest became clear.

As for Chechnya, it, like the Ukraine, is a prize to be struggled over by great powers, the US and Europe on the one hand, Russia on the other - a contest waged in multifarious ways, including by "peace" committees.

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