When thieves fall out By William Bowles

20 October 2015

  • Ted Kennedy: “Bush’s War Mindless, Needless, Senseless, and Reckless”
  • Madeleine Albright: Bush’s Foreign Policy “Not Good For the World”
  • Henry Waxman: Iraq Policy “Grounded in Secrecy, Deceit, and Politics”
  • Senator Robert Byrd: “The Emperor has no clothes”
  • Lack of Pentagon Support Threatens Bush’s Iraq Plans
  • State Dept Study Foresaw Trouble Now Plaguing Iraq

Who would have credited such headlines even a couple of months ago? On the surface it would appear that there’s been a ‘sea change’ in US politics, but do the headlines really tell us the truth about what’s happening within the US power elite?

On the one hand, analysis of what has really been said does point to is a serious falling out amongst the US power elite over the lies and deception practiced on them. But on the other, with the notable exception of Senator Robert Byrd, the opposition is not one of principle but of a difference of opinion over strategies and tactics.

  • First, Bushcorp need a way out of the present situation but one which leaves their testosterone-inflamed egos somewhat intact.
  • Second, they want to leave with the maximum military/political/economic advantage from the situation.
  • Third, get Europe and the rest of the world ‘onboard’
  • Fourth and most problematic, what about Israel?

The recent UNSEC resolution was no more than a sop to world and EU opinion and did nothing to assist USUK out of their dilemma. Indeed, it’s more than likely that France, Germany and Russia are seeking to leverage advantage out of the situation, especially of the economic variety.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the proposal recently put forward by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg for a separate EU military force, is part of the process. For even though the proposal was scuppered by Blah and the US, even threatening to create a counter-balance to NATO, gives us an idea of just how big the gulf is between the EU and the USUK. Such a proposal would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago (although the idea has been kicking around for some time).

What they say and what they mean
Perhaps a reading between the lines is worth doing. This is what Madelaine Albright, former US ambassador to the UN had to say last week whilst on a visit to France:

“”America is much stronger in a multilateral system, we must be on the same side, work with other people in the world. It shouldn’t be America versus the others.”

“It’s difficult to be in France and criticise my government. But I’m doing so because Bush and the people working for him have a foreign policy that is not good for America, not good for the world,”

“”Now there’s chaos, now all the terrorists are coming to kill an American.” –
Bush’s Foreign Policy “Not Good For the World”: Madeleine Albright, Agence France-Presse,  Friday 17 October 2003

But before you start getting all sloppy over Albright’s new found sense of ‘belonging’ to the world the rest of us live in, this what she had to say about Iraq before the invasion when referring to the terrible effect of sanctions,

“We think the price is worth it.”

And on the subject of multilateralism:

“Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s insistence that the United States was the world’s “indispensable nation.”

But Robert ‘Project for the New American Century’ Kagan’s assessment of Albright is perhaps the most cogent:

“For most Americans, getting a few important allies on board is multilateralism. When the Clinton administration fought Slobodan Milosevic without Security Council authorization, many European governments considered that a troubling precedent. But Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright and their colleagues thought it a very fine precedent indeed. To most American multilateralists the U.N. Security Council is not the final authority. It’s like a blue-ribbon commission. If it makes the right recommendation, it strengthens your case. If not, you can always ignore it.” – Robert Kagan, Multilateralism, American Style, The Washington Post September 13, 2002

So what’s changed? A real sense on the part of the ‘old establishment’ that the new imperialists are not only totally out of control but most important, are no longer in control. Note that Albright’s statement quoted above was made in France and in French, is no less than a warning to the Bush clique, that if they want the continued support of people like herself, they had better mend their relationship with the rest of the world, especially with Europe if they want to succeed in building the new imperium.

And the ‘liberal’ view?
Statements by Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, who all signalled that they would vote against the $87 billion request by Bush, is indicative of just how worried the ruling elite is. Daschle had this to say:

“The president has to have a plan…. He doesn’t have a plan today. He’s simply requesting the money in the hope that a plan can develop. We think that’s a mistake.”

So the ‘opposition’ is predicated not on the sheer immorality of the war and occupation, but simply because it’s gone off the rails. It’s also very obvious that politicians are very aware that while everything looked a-okay back in April, getting on the gung-ho bandwagon was the thing to do but the groundswell of domestic opinion against the war has changed all that. My how times have changed.

“Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie.”

Sentator Ted Kennedy’s statement appears to be the most principled, but one wonders that along with all the other ‘doubter’s’ coming out of the woodwork, whether a ‘successful’ outcome would have changed his tune when he said on the House floor last week,

“The trumped up reasons for going to war have collapsed. All the Administration’s rationalizations as we prepared to go to war now stand revealed as “double-talk.” The American people were told Saddam Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He was not. We were told he had stockpiles of other weapons of mass destruction. He did not. We were told he was involved in 9/11. He was not. We were told Iraq was attracting terrorists from Al Qaeda. It was not. We were told our soldiers would be viewed as liberators. They are not. We were told Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction. It cannot. We were told the war would make America safer. It has not.

Fighting words indeed but later in the speech, we read:

“We should never have gone to war in Iraq when we did, in the way we did, for the false reasons we were given. But now that we are there, two imperatives are absolutely clear: America cannot withdraw now, leaving Iraq to chaos or civil war, becoming a danger to us far greater than it did before. The misguided policy of the past is no excuse for a misguided policy for the future.

“We need a realistic and specific plan to bring stability to Iraq, to bring genuine self-government to Iraq, to bring our soldiers home with dignity and honor.”

Moreover, when one reads the entire text, it’s clear that Kennedy is also more concerned with the fact that the US was not properly prepared for the war and the rising opposition and low morale amongst troops on the ground, the result than he is with the principle. At the end of the statement he finally mentions the role of the UN, but this is how he puts it:

“But internationalizing the reconstruction is not a luxury; it is an imperative. Sharing authority with the United Nations to manage the transition to democracy will give the process legitimacy and gradually dispel the current stigma of occupation — especially if it is accompanied by the creation of a more fully representative interim governing council to deal with day-to-day administrative responsibilities.”

Note that he is really concerned about giving the occupation “legitimacy” and maintains the approach of the Bush government that authority should be “shared” with the US, leaving the UN to pick up the tab of “day-today administrative responsibilities.”

And so too with the statement of Rep. Henry A. Waxman on 16 October 2003 when he told the House:

“I say all this knowing full well we must finish what we started in Iraq.  I feel that as strongly as any member of the House.  As one who voted for last year’s Resolution, I feel a responsibility to make sure we honor the sacrifice so many have already made by achieving a democratic and safe Iraq.  I feel a special obligation to our troops and to make sure they have everything they need to be as safe and effective as possible.

“But before I agree to the President’s request, I want to be confident that those running the war are doing their job and that the reconstruction effort is effective, not wasteful spending.”

A lone voice?
But perhaps the most telling critique of the Bush strategy comes from all people, Senator Robert Byrd, a speech by the way, that has gotten very little coverage in the mass media and when one reads it, you know why. Aside from a massive attack on Bush and his lies and the way the war has been handled, it reserves much of its venom for the profiteering so obviously taking place, the total lack of democratic oversight and the dangers inherent in the direction Bush the smaller has taken the country. And to ram home his point, Senator Byrd ends by offering us the following quote:

“I shall close my remarks with a horror story, in the form of a quote from the book Nuremberg Diaries, written by G.M. Gilbert, in which the author interviews Hermann Goering.

“We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

Goering: “. . . But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

Goering: “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” – Senator Robert Byrd, The Emperor has no clothes

Byrd’s statement by contrast with Kennedy, Waxman, Albright et al, points to the real dangers inherent in the Bush imperium’s strategy, the threat to what’s left of US democracy after it’s been subjected to the depredations of the military-industrial clique and its parallel attack on the nation’s civil liberties. It points to the fact that without a massive campaign of lies, the American public would never have been convinced of the need to launch an unprovoked war on a sovereign state. The results of which has moved at least a tiny handful of US political leaders to cry out a warning, that there is more at stake here than saving face or building the New American Century. But who is listening?

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