THE END OF DEMOCRACY?
“Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny… all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Before I begin presenting my case, I need to make a few things clear. In recent months, I have taken part in numerous political debates on U.S. foreign and domestic policy and I have noticed an alarming and virtually universal trend among those who disagree with my analysis. It seems that most of my fellow American citizens equate the United States government with the Nation itself, as though government representatives and the country are one-in-the-same, virtually interchangeable. My objections to certain actions by the government were consistently deemed “anti-American,” as well as bringing accusations of “taking the side of the enemy,” and somehow “approving” of horrific foreign governments and their reprehensible actions. This took me by surprise, as I have always considered the United States to be “of the people, by the people and for the people,” with the government merely serving as a powerful apparatus charged with enacting policies that conform to the will of the population. Those who use the former definition often find themselves defending the actions of the government by default in emotional responses likened to the “mother of the accused,” who refuses to see the guilt of her son, no matter how much damning evidence is presented at his trial.
I think this is a serious mistake.
Those, like myself, who choose to follow the latter definition of the Nation, see the government as a powerful and dangerous instrument, in great need of vigilant oversight by the People, who are the true protectors of democracy.
Who am I and what do I stand for? I am an American citizen voicing an opinion in the public sphere within a free country. I am for the restoration of the American Democracy, as opposed to the American Plutocratic Empire, which is our current condition. This empire has been and continues to be a cancer on the earth, spreading death and destruction for corporate profit wherever it goes, in violation of all the sacred principles found in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. This empire violates human rights and international law with utter contempt and impunity. It is driving the entire world toward nuclear war and global environmental catastrophe. I am also a citizen who understands the concept of “blowback.” I am aware that every bomb dropped on a Muslim land is a victory for Osama Bin Laden. Every door kicked in during a “security sweep” in Baghdad is a call to Jihad. I realize that the Bush administration cynically used the 9/11 attacks to enact policies meant to increase the wealth and power for a small, select group of individuals, while INCREASING the threat of terrorism tenfold. I am also fully aware that the most prevalent form of terrorism in the world is state terrorism, which is responsible for significantly more death and destruction worldwide than the terrorist attacks by their non-state counterparts, like al Qaeda, Hezbollah or the numerous South and Central American groups on the United States government list of terrorist organizations. I see this cynical “war on terror” being used to circumvent the U.S. Constitution and reduce the civil liberties of the citizenry. I also see the enormous rise of the Military/Industrial Complex, which history has shown us is the precursor to fascism, the antithesis of democracy.
As a responsible citizen, I take my obligation to dissent against these wrongdoings quite seriously. In essence, the dangerous tool that is the government is out of control and needs to be reigned in. In order to do that, we the people need to thoroughly examine the actions of our government without passion or prejudice, to see where it has strayed from its core objective of enacting policies that conform to the will of the people under the principles put forth by our founding fathers in our most sacred documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Only then can we restore the American Democracy and reclaim the moral high ground that was the trademark of our once great Nation.
PART 1: WHY DO THEY HATE US?
“As long as you keep Algiers, you will be constantly at war with Africa; sometimes this war will seem to end; but these people will not hate you any the less; it will be a half-extinguished fire that will smolder under the ash and which, at the first opportunity, will burst into a vast conflagration.”
- Baron Lacuee in 1831 at the beginning of the French occupation of Algiers, which came to a brutally violent end in the early 1960’s, having almost destroyed the nation of France.
President Bush wasn’t the first President to ask, “Why do they hate us”? President Eisenhower posed the same question to his National Security Council, which outlined the basic reasons: The U.S. supports corrupt and oppressive governments and is “opposing political or economic progress” because of its interest in controlling the oil resources of the region. The interest in controlling the resources of the region, which the State Department dubbed the “greatest strategic prize in history,” as explained by then Head of the State Department Policy Planning staff George Kennan, was to have “veto power” over our industrial rivals.
Later, in 1953, the CIA, in what would be one the first of numerous post-WWII acts of foreign subversion for imperial gains, backed the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran, which led to the installation of a ruthless dictator, who catered to U.S. oil companies while brutally repressing the native Iranian population (“a half-extinguished fire” that smoldered “under the ash”) until his overthrow (in a “vast conflagration”) in the 1979 Islamic uprising. Thus began a long and consistent policy of U.S. support of ruthless dictatorships for strategic advantage, which gave birth to the violent by-product known in intelligence circles as “blowback.” The Iranian revolution resulted in the infamous hostage crisis, which was at that time the most famous example of “blowback.” But as we now know, it was merely prologue. Numerous embers were silently simmering “under the ash.”
Part 2: THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER
“We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism … Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children… in short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? That is the truth … the American people need to hear.”
- Former Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bowman in the National Catholic Reporter (October 2, 1998)
The U.S. helped “create” Osama Bin Laden during the latter part of the Carter administration and throughout the Reagan years, when they joined forces in fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. The United States provided weapons, training and funds to Bin Laden and his Mujahideen, or “holy warriors.” The fact that Bin Laden was our friend and ally immediately dismantles the ludicrous idea that he is now merely against us because he “hates freedom.” He fought the Soviets because they were occupying and repressing Muslim lands, and the U.S. was more than happy to utilize these “holy warriors” in an effort, according President Carter’s National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, to “give the Soviet Union it’s own Vietnam.”
Bin Laden officially declared the United States an enemy during the first gulf war, when we used the Kuwait invasion as an excuse to place an enormous troop presence in Bin Laden’s homeland of Saudi Arabia, to protect the oil. Bin Laden has been remarkably consistent in his justifications for declaring a Jihad against the United States, all of which center on U.S. Middle Eastern foreign policy. He points to our continued support of the Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign within the occupied territories. This support is one of the greatest beacons of terrorist recruitment, as Bin Laden himself pointed out in his October 7, 2001 videotaped statement: “… I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine…” Interesting that Bin Laden’s quote clearly implies the possibility of a United States living in “peace,” while placing the blame on U.S. foreign policy. In addition to our support of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people, he points to the egregious U.S.-imposed sanctions in Iraq… “One million Iraqi children have thus far died although they did not do anything wrong,” as well as the stationing of troops and building of military bases in Saudi Arabia, “… and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Muhammad.” Notably, he has never once mentioned any objections to our “freedom,” “democracy” or “western values.” In fact, he very clearly responded to Bush’s charges of “hating freedom,” in another videotaped speech in 2003: “… unlike what Bush says – that we hate freedom – let him tell us why didn’t we attack Sweden, for example.”
During the early stages of the U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Brzezinski echoed the sentiments put forth nearly sixty years earlier by Kennan, arguing America’s control over Middle Eastern oil producers “gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the [Gulf] region.”
Apparently little had changed in the minds of strategic U.S. government planners, regardless of the enormous casualties suffered as a result of “blowback” from similar policies in the past.
Part 3: A CARPET OF BOMBS
“… the United States is not simply concerned with keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf; it also has an interest in preventing any potentially hostile state from gaining control over the region and its resources and using such control to amass vast power or blackmail the world.”
– Kenneth Pollack, former CIA analyst and Clinton Administration National Security official.
In the latter half of 1996, the Taliban government in Afghanistan ended negotiations with United States oil and gas companies, who were interested in securing a lucrative contract to build a massive pipeline to connect the gas and oil resources in the Caspian Basin. Instead of choosing an American company for the contract, the Taliban chose the Bridas Corporation of Argentina. Among the severely disappointed negotiators was Halliburton CEO Richard Cheney, and Unocal consultants Hamid Karzai, Richard Armitage, and Zalmay Khalilzad. Later, in 1998, in response to the al Qaeda attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, President Clinton pushed through an executive order banning all trade with the Taliban government, who were seen as al Qaeda sympathizers. Further attempts by Unocal and Halliburton were indefinitely placed on the back burner.
The “election” of George W. Bush, having placed Dick Cheney in charge of U.S. energy policy, re-opened this avenue of negotiations, effectively undermining President Clinton’s policy of economic sanctions against the Taliban regime. The immediate goal was to have the Taliban cancel the Bridas contract and give a new contract to a conglomerate of American energy companies, all significantly represented by high-level members of Bush’s own cabinet, as well as having participated in Richard Cheney’s “Energy Task Force.”
The Taliban once again resisted the U.S. overtures, and refused to void the Bridas contract. At the final meeting with the Taliban, on Aug. 2, 2001, State Department negotiator Christine Rocca, clarified the options: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” When the Taliban government wouldn’t budge, President Bush immediately notified Pakistan and India the U.S. would launch a military mission into Afghanistan before the end of October.
This was five weeks before the events of 9/11.
In the wake of al Qaeda’s attack, the “carpet of bombs” rained down on Afghanistan, making quick work of the Taliban regime. President Bush immediately appointed Unocal consultant Hamid Karzai as head of the temporary government and John J. Maresca, a vice president of Unocal, as the new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. Among the first orders of business was the cancellation of the Bridas contract. Four months later, a new pipeline deal was negotiated between Interim President Karzai and President Musharraf of Pakistan, which favored U.S. oil and gas companies, with Unocal being the greatest contract recipient.
Meanwhile, the search for 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden proved futile and was soon abandoned in favor of the next phase in the “War on Terror.”
Part 4: THE PRICE WAS WORTH IT
“A reaction might take place as a result of the US government’s hitting Muslim civilians and executing more than 600,000 Muslim children in Iraq by preventing food and medicine from reaching them. So, the US is responsible for any reaction, because it extended its war against troops to civilians.”
Osama Bin Laden on CNN, 1997
On May 11, 1996 Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State in the Clinton administration was asked by 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl about the reported 500,000+ Iraqi children who died in Iraq as a direct result of U.S. imposed sanctions. Her reply stunned many, “I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price was worth it.”
The history of the sanctions (rarely, if ever discussed in mainstream media) begins with the strategic bombings of critical infrastructure within Iraq during the 1st Gulf War. The U.S. dropped over 90,000 tons of bombs, intentionally destroying civilian infrastructure, including 18 of 20 electricity-generating plants and the water-pumping and sanitation systems. The bombings themselves were a direct violation of the Geneva Convention against the specific targeting of infrastructure “indispensable to the survival of the civilian population,” thus making them a war crime.
Recently released de-classified documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency revealed that the U.S. knew full well that Iraqi water needed purification with chlorine in order to avoid “epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis and typhoid.” Later documents revealed that the U.S.-imposed sanctions SPECIFICALLY embargoed the import of chlorine needed to purify the water systems. Additionally, the U.S. sanctions forbade the import of the parts needed to repair the damaged purification and sanitation systems.
The results of these actions are well documented. Colonel John A. Warner III wrote in Airpower Journal, “…as a result (of the destruction of these facilities), epidemics of gastroenteritis, cholera, and typhoid broke out, leading to perhaps 100,000 civilian deaths and doubling the infant mortality rate.” Anupama Rao Singh, the United Nations Children’s Fund Representative in Baghdad observed that food shortages were virtually unknown in Iraq prior to what the State department admitted were the “toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history.” Richard Garfield’s universally accepted mortality studies put the number of Iraq children killed because of the sanctions at 350,000. The Lancet study, for the British Medical Society, estimated it at 550,000. Denis Halliday, the U.N. coordinator in Iraq called the sanctions, “a deliberate policy to destroy the people of Iraq,” calling their implementation “genocide.” His resignation in 1998 in protest received little if any coverage by the U.S. corporate media.
Part 5: PNAC AND THE QUIET COUP
“In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”
– Paul Wolfowitz Undersecretary for Defense and I. Scooter Libby Deputy Undersecretary for Defense, internal “Defense Planning Guidance Report,” leaked to the NY Times on March 7th, 1992
In 1997, a group of neo-conservative disciples of Ronald Reagan and economist Milton Friedman founded the Project for a New American Century, committed to the establishment of a United States led “benevolent global hegemony.”
According to the PNAC mission statement, the United States needed to understand and embrace four consequences:
1) We need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global ?responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
2) We need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
3) We need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
4) We need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Members of this exclusive club included what would soon be a who’s who of high level government officials in the Bush II administration, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, I. Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard L. Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, Zalmay Khalilzad and Jeb Bush.
The first “consequence” was easy enough to understand and was implemented to the letter by Donald Rumsfeld upon achievement of the post of Secretary of Defense under Bush II. The remaining “consequences” can only be truly comprehended when one understands how U.S.-imposed neo-liberal economics works. In short, neo-liberal economics consists of the installation (“carry out our global responsibilities”) of governments (usually cruel dictatorships, cynically labeled “democracies”) in foreign lands, which will open the markets (a.k.a. our “interests”) up to investment (a.k.a. our free market “values”) catering specifically to U.S. multinational corporations (a.k.a. our “prosperity”), while controlling and repressing the native populations (a.k.a. “friendly to our security”).
These principles weren’t new, as they were the very backbone of U.S. foreign policy for the better part of fifty years. The key difference with the PNAC ideology is they believe the U.S. should utilize this hegemonic policy over the entire world (a.k.a. “extending an international order”) and not merely impose it on the weak nations of the third world. Essentially, the fall of the Soviet Union was the opening by which the United States should enact a never-ending planet-wide empire. The very linchpin of the PNAC plan of world domination was control of Middle Eastern oil (the greatest strategic prize in history), to be used as a “lever” of control over enemies and allies alike, in what would effectively, in other words, amount to “using such control to amass vast power or blackmail the world.”
On January 26th, 1998, PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton, demanding he “act decisively” against the WMD “threat” posed by Saddam Hussein. They suggested a policy of regime change through military action. President Clinton, having read the numerous intelligence estimates, which clearly showed the current policy of sanctions and containment was working (“the price was worth it”), rejected the ideas suggested within the letter. The “crazies,” as the members of PNAC were called within the beltway community at the time, would have to wait a few more years before getting the chance to enact the “four consequences” upon the world.
On December 12th, 2000, George W. Bush (described by Ronald Reagan in a recently released diary entry from May 17th, 1986 as the Vice President’s “… ne’re-do-well son… the one who hangs around here all? the time looking shiftless… that so-called kid is already almost 40?and has never had a real job”) was thrust into office by the Supreme Court in spite of losing the popular vote and immediately began to make control of Middle Eastern oil the spine of his foreign policy. The administration was replete with people with significant ties to the oil industry. Besides Bush himself, Vice President Dick Cheney, eight cabinet secretaries, the national security advisor Condoleeza Rice (who has an oil tanker named after her), as well as 32 additional members of various departments all had direct ties to the oil industry. Within two weeks, the Bush administration revealed the new national security strategy, which essentially gutted the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, while additionally making regime change in Iraq a national priority. At the same time, Dick Cheney created an “Energy Task Force” to hash out a new energy policy. The task force consisted of cabinet members as well as numerous lobbyists and high level management from the oil and natural gas industry. The White House, under the cynical guise of “executive privilege,” has kept an exact list of who attended the meetings secret to this day.
Author Richard Behan describes the early accomplishments of the task force:
“The Energy Task Force wasted no time. Within three weeks of its creation, the group was poring over maps of the Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, tanker terminals, and oil exploration blocks. It studied an inventory of ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts’—dozens of oil companies from 30 different countries, in various stages of negotiations for exploring and developing Iraqi crude. Not a single U.S. oil company was among the “suitors,” and that was intolerable, given a foreign policy bent on global hegemony. The National Energy Policy document, released May 17, 2001 concluded this: ‘By any estimation, Middle East oil producers will remain central to world security. The Gulf will be a primary focus of U.S. international energy policy.’ That rather innocuous statement can be clarified by a top-secret memo dated February 3, 2001 to the staff of the National Security Council. Cheney’s group, the memo said, was “melding” two apparently unrelated areas of policy: ‘the review of operational policies toward rogue states,’ such as Iraq, and ‘actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.’ The memo directed the National Security Council staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as the “melding” continued. National security policy and international energy policy would be developed as a coordinated whole. This would prove convenient on September 11, 2001, still seven months in the future.”
Still, in the early stages of the Bush administration, the overriding problem faced by the now-powerful members of PNAC, was the lack of public support for warfare against a nation that seemed to be sufficiently contained. Members of PNAC lamented in a September 2000 article titled, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” that acceptance of military action in Iraq by the American public would be difficult in the absence of “some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.” The dubious article has since been removed from the official PNAC web site.
On September 11th, 2001, the “new Pearl Harbor” was immediately seen as an opportunity to wage a war of choice against a sufficiently weakened and contained nation that posed no threat to the United States or its allies. The site of the fallen twin towers was still smoking when the Bush Administration began pushing all resources in the direction of war with Iraq. Richard Clarke, the highly respected counter-terrorism czar within the White House under Bush I, Clinton and Bush II recounted in his book, “Against All Enemies,” the beginning of the charade on the morning of September 12th, 2001, mere hours after the devastating attacks in New York and Washington D.C.:
“I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon were telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.”
Later that evening, Clarke met the President in the situation room:
‘He (President Bush) grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. “Look,” he told us, “I know you have a lot to do and all… but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he’s linked in any way…” I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. “But, Mr. President, al Qaeda did this.”
“I know, I know, but… see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred….”
Thus began the drive toward building a case for war with Iraq in response to an attack in which they played no part. Numerous records now exist pointing to a deliberate and consistent misinformation campaign emanating from the executive branch, spear-headed by former Halliburton executive and current Vice President Richard Cheney. The defenses put forth by members of the White House to these charges have been easily rebuffed and usually fell to blaming “faulty intelligence.” Perhaps the most damning evidence contradicting the “defense” of this conspiracy was revealed in the May 1st, 2005 issue of the Sunday Times in the U.K. It was on this day that the Times released a newly leaked top-secret internal British government memo, soon to be dubbed the “Downing Street Memo.” The memo, dated July 23, 2002 and clearly labeled as “…extremely sensitive…. secret and strictly personal,” was written by Matthew Rycroft, a Downing Street foreign policy aid, to the British Ambassador to the U.S., David Manning, as well as cc’d to Defense Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, as well as several other top level cabinet members. It stated in part:
‘C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy… There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action…
… No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.? It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his wmd capability was less than that of libya, north korea or iran.’
NY Times Columnist Frank Rich has compiled additional evidence of manipulation of intelligence by members of the Bush Administration, most egregiously by Dick Cheney, notably:
September 21st, 2001 – In the President’s Daily Brief (PDF), the President and his staff, including the Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high level officials were told that there was no proof of Iraqi participation in 9/11 and “scant credible evidence” of any “significant collaborative ties” between Iraq and al Qaeda. They were further informed that Saddam Hussein viewed al Qaeda and other “radical Islamic Organizations” as a threat to him and his regime.
Tim Russert: “Iraq is harboring terrorists?”
Vice President Cheney: “Correct.”
- December 9th, 2001 on Meet the Press
November 20th, 2001 – “U.S. Embassy Niamey disseminated a cable on a recent meeting between the ambassador and the Director General of Niger’s French-led consortium. The Director General said ‘there was no possibility’ that the government of Niger had diverted any of the 3,000 tons of yellowcake produced in its two uranium mines.”
December 17th, 2001 – The results of a CIA-administered polygraph determine that Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haider