You do not have to be a “liberal” to recognize a bad president when you see one. Make no mistake about it. George W. Bush is a bad president.
Now that the Downing Street memos are gaining the national press attention bloggers have been calling for since the story first broke in the London Sunday Times May 1, it is time to revisit my reporting for the New York Times on the run up to war in Iraq from January through March of 2003 – and to connect some dog dang dots.
The eight memos – all labeled “secret” or “confidential” – were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Since then, after a number of bloggers wondered why the issue did not seem to be covered by the U.S. news media, the New York Times ran this story:
The AP did these:
Democrats Urge Inquiry on Bush, Iraq
Reuters published this one:
U.S. Democrats Cite British Memo in Bolton Fight
Anyone with a fully functioning brain, which obviously doesn’t include White House spokesman Scott McClellan or his boss, should now be able to see that the British intel memos prove Bush and company planned to go to war no matter what the analysts or the U.N. had to say about it.
Now for the additional proof that the war was planned prior to September 11, 2001 and that the New York Times had the opportunity to get out in front on this story in the winter of 2003.
I sent three feeds by e-mail to the national assignment editor trying to warn the paper before the war started that there were serious concerns about the true motivation for the war. Here is the first e-mail, sans the editor’s name. He knows who he is, and for the most part he did me right and always expressed his appreciation for the “good work” – even when no byline credit was granted.
Even though we had been in daily contact around this time on the stories about the smallpox vaccine controversy, the space shuttle Columbia explosion and the nerve gas incinerator in Anniston, Alabama, these memos received no reply.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003 9:46 AM – Subject – Secret Report on Iraq:
You may want to forward this to the International desk or the Washington bureau. Someone needs to find the secret report on the REAL REASON we are going to war with Iraq now. I guarantee you there is such a report. Finding it would be a great story for the Times. Here’s why.
I’ve noticed over the years that the Learning Channel sometimes runs documentary shows that seem to come from inside the CIA. Back in 1991-92, when I investigated Naval Intelligence and electromagnetic pulse technology, I suspected they were using it as an offensive weapon. I even wrote about half a novel on it. Then I saw a Learning Channel documentary with footage from inside a Tomahawk F-14 (in a later e-mail I corrected this to the F-14 Wild Weasel after checking it) equipped to knock out the electronics on the entire Iraqi airforce in the Gulf War before they could get off the ground.
The other night, the LC had a documentary similarly inspired by intelligence sources. The two main points of the show have now popped up this week as talking points by military and intelligence sources on the cable talk shows. The point is, Iraq has the largest modern middle class in the Arab world, and the oil resources to pay for rebuilding the country after a war. It is not a religious-run state like Iran. So someone in the Bush administration, maybe Richard Perle, has convinced the president that we need to take out Suddam Hussein and build a democratic, capitalist state in Baghdad.
So it’s not just about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or avenging his dad’s failure to take out Saddam. The problem with the plan is the backlash it will cause in the Arab world against the United States. Someone needs to find the secret plan and release it so we can all have a shot at airing it out.
Even though the Times did not commission me to continue research on the secret report, I continued to conduct online research to try finding it and to look for clues in other news coverage online. On March 16, I ran across a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jay Bookman, deputy editorial page editor, that ran under the headline: “The president’s real goal in Iraq.” The link no longer works, so here are the key excerpts from the column itself.
The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.
The pieces just didn’t fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing.
In recent days, those missing pieces have finally begun to fall into place. As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.
This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the “American imperialists” that our enemies always claimed we were.
Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?
Because we won’t be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.
In an interview Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brushed aside that suggestion, noting that the United States does not covet other nations’ territory. That may be true, but 57 years after World War II ended, we still have major bases in Germany and Japan. We will do the same in Iraq.
And why has the administration dismissed the option of containing and deterring Iraq, as we had the Soviet Union for 45 years? Because even if it worked, containment and deterrence would not allow the expansion of American power. Besides, they are beneath us as an empire. Rome did not stoop to containment; it conquered. And so should we.
Among the architects of this would-be American Empire are a group of brilliant and powerful people who now hold key positions in the Bush administration: They envision the creation and enforcement of what they call a worldwide “Pax Americana,” or American peace. But so far, the American people have not appreciated the true extent of that ambition.
Part of it’s laid out in the National Security Strategy, a document in which each administration outlines its approach to defending the country. The Bush administration plan, released Sept. 20, marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that it attributes largely to the attacks of Sept. 11.
To address the terrorism threat, the president’s report lays out a newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies. It speaks in blunt terms of what it calls “American internationalism,” of ignoring international opinion if that suits U.S. interests. “The best defense is a good offense,” the document asserts.
It dismisses deterrence as a Cold War relic and instead talks of “convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.”
In essence, it lays out a plan for permanent U.S. military and economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by international treaty or concern. And to make that plan a reality, it envisions a stark expansion of our global military presence.
“The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia,” the document warns, “as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. troops.”
The report’s repeated references to terrorism are misleading, however, because the approach of the new National Security Strategy was clearly not inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can be found in much the same language in a report issued in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.
“At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals,” the report said. . . . “The challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this ‘American peace. . . .’ ”
. . . The cost of such a global commitment would be enormous. In 2000, we spent $281 billion on our military, which was more than the next 11 nations combined. By 2003, our expenditures will have risen to $378 billion. In other words, the increase in our defense budget from 1999-2003 will be more than the total amount spent annually by China, our next largest competitor.
The lure of empire is ancient and powerful, and over the millennia it has driven men to commit terrible crimes on its behalf. But with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, a global empire was essentially laid at the feet of the United States. To the chagrin of some, we did not seize it at the time, in large part because the American people have never been comfortable with themselves as a New Rome.
Now, more than a decade later, the events of Sept. 11 have given those advocates of empire a new opportunity to press their case with a new president. So in debating whether to invade Iraq, we are really debating the role that the United States will play in the years and decades to come.
Are peace and security best achieved by seeking strong alliances and international consensus, led by the United States? Or is it necessary to take a more unilateral approach, accepting and enhancing the global dominance that, according to some, history has thrust upon us?
If we do decide to seize empire, we should make that decision knowingly, as a democracy. The price of maintaining an empire is always high. Kagan and others argue that the price of rejecting it would be higher still.
That’s what this is about.
A few minutes later, I found the report online and sent the link to the Times’ national desk.
What more proof do we need? I realize that the Independent Council seems to be a thing of the past, and perhaps good riddance after the disgusting performance of Ken Starr. I also realize that impeachment is not a realistic option since Republicans loyal to Bush control both houses of Congress and a majority on the Supreme Court. Calling for Bush’s resignation would also be a cry in the wilderness.
So what should we do as citizens, as members of the press and participants in the blogosphere?
Stay after the bastards who are ruining our world. That’s my plan anyway. Care to join me?
© 2005 – 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.