War Watch #3 - After Iraq, What?
By Joseph D. Douglass Jr.
[Note: Take also a look at "War Watch #1" and "War Watch #2"]
Now that the Iraqi leadership has vanished, in a manner curiously
similar to bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership toward the end of the
war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War is winding down.
What lies ahead is not a simple question to answer. Heavy conflict
is all but over. The transition from war to “nation building” has
already begun. In this phase, major military units have a minimal
function, especially since very few U.S. military speak Arabic or
Farsci. U.S. military forces are unlikely to be needed in Iraq for more
than a few months. Their continued presence may even be
But, dare they leave? Unless former Iraqi forces and other hostile
elements in the region behave nicely, massive military forces may be
needed for many months. Who will be interested in nation building if
the peace is that of Israel, with shootings and suicide bombings each
day? How many nation builders will stay after several of their
colleagues are shot or destroyed in a bombing?
Rarely is there good news from Afghanistan. Drug production is back
to its pre-war peak! That means the government and law and order is
already corrupted. There are weekly reports on the influx of terrorists
and regrouping of the Taliban.
This is most embarrassing. In evidence, Secretary Rumsfeld was
totally non-responsive to questions about the intense problems of civil
order. What were the U.S. plans to maintain civil order he was
repeatedly asked at a press conference on April 11. It was clear there
is no serious plan to maintain order any more than there was a
meaningful plan to stop the top enemy leaders from escaping.
Why? We simply do not have enough military forces with the skill to
protect the civilians or to prevent the enemy brass and weapons of mass
destruction from leaving. Our resources are pushed to the limit.
Had President Bush acknowledged the magnitude of forces really
needed, over twice the number deployed, the public would have quickly
dropped its pro-war attitude. Hence, the administration’s answer was to
deflect serious questions with “Shock and Awe” bombast, coupled with
fairyland stories of how Saddam’s military would instantly collapse and
the people throw flowers.
The only hope for nation building without a continuing massive
military presence is that the remaining Iraqi leadership that has fled
the country and other potentially hostile forces in the region do not
interfere with nation building. However, should these potentially
hostile elements decide to intervene and follow the example of the
Palestinians over the past two years or bin Laden’s “bandit gangs” in
the late 1980s, they might bring a quick halt to any peaceful nation
building in Iraq for quite a while. Even the UN is not so dumb to take
this one on without “someone” providing whatever military forces are
To consider what comes next, it is useful to first look at those in
Washington who have been most influential in establishing the
directions for U.S. policy. These people are dominantly in the Defense
Department and Vice President’s Office. They are the so-called
neo-cons. They are civilians, not military.
The neo-cons rose to prominence during the Reagan
Administration. They operate as a group and have their own group-think.
Over the years they have become very powerful and arrogant. They know
they are right and will do whatever is necessary to get their way. They
firmly believe in military power, in “might makes right,” or, as became
the slogan during the Reagan Administration, “peace through strength.”
To achieve peace through strength, they undertook an unprecedented
build-up in military armaments. (As it turned out, the future costs of
all the planes and tanks and ships could not be sustained and many
programs had to be dropped, cancelled, or mothballed.)
As a group, their thinking can be seen in a number of publications
that came out shortly before the current administration took over.
Neo-con thinking dominates the key policy documents of the current
administration, for example the National Security Strategy. As an
example of this thinking, consider the “Statement of Principles” to
achieve their “New American Century” project. Its title reveals much
about this elitist group.
Their objective is “to shape a new century favorable to American
principles and interests.” It is not clear what these principles and
interests are, but we can be assured that they know what is best for
America. However, insofar as the neo-cons have not been particularly
visible or interested in fighting many of America’s most serious
problems – illegal drugs, organized crime, poor academic performance,
massive consumer debt, gigantic trade imbalance, shrinking of the middle
class, unbridled expansion of greed among those most well off, the
expansion of money supply, demise of the family, fifty percent plus
divorce rates, 30 percent of children born out of wedlock, a permanent
underclass on welfare, abortion, pornography, continuing fall in the
value of the dollar, billions of dollars of foreign aid that goes more
to international organized crime than to help people, growing
unemployment, and disappearance of U.S. industrial capability – one has
to wonder why anyone should trust them to decide what American values
and principles count or who would want their country to follow the path
America is on.
To secure these unstated American principles and interests, it is
necessary, they write, “to accept responsibility for America's unique
role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our
security, our prosperity, and our principles.” This unique role is that
of having pre-eminent military power, the sole superpower. Keep the
need “to accept responsibility” in mind. It is another trap that will
be addressed later.
The fact that many people may disagree is irrelevant. The neo-cons
recognize that the “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral
clarity may not be fashionable today.” Nevertheless, they write, “it
[peace through strength] is necessary if the United States is to build
on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and
our greatness in the next.” This means “a military that is strong and
ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that
boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and
national leadership that accepts the United States' global
responsibilities.” Here is another indication of their approach. The
United States, they state, has to “accept” this global responsibility.
They simply invent a responsibility that they then need to accept to
justify the neo-con global cause – remaking the world according to
What are these “successes” they refer to? Presumably, they refer to
the breakup of the Soviet Union, which itself never would have lasted a
decade if it were not for the assistance of the United States or longer
if it were not for the silence of all Western nations respecting the
crimes of the Soviet Union for over eighty years. Contrary to the
claims of the neo-cons, we did not win the Cold War. The Soviets lost
it, notwithstanding U.S. and other Western efforts to keep the Soviets
afloat, right up to the end. There was no revolution. The Soviets
intentionally dismantled their own empire. The KGB was present and
guiding the dismantling all the way. None of the neo-cons have stopped
to ask why. Another question they fail to ask or answer is why go after
Saddam Hussein for his atrocities and war crimes? He is a small time
hood in comparison with the Soviets, many of whose leaders are still
alive and in office. They, by contrast, are coddled, given lucrative
speaking engagements and even invited to speak before Congress.
This “New American Century” is also where the concept of pre-emption
in the National Security Strategy came from. It did not just suddenly
appear from out of nowhere. As written in the “New American Century”
statement of principles, “it is important to shape circumstances before
crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire.” There is
another side to this coin. If you believe this, which in practice would
be based on secret intelligence and their judgments, it is a way to
wage war without having to justify that action.
Having moved 300,000 troops and all their heavy equipment to the
Middle East, the primary target of the neo-cons, is it reasonable to
think they will move all this capability back home before their
objective is achieved?
What is this objective? It is a complete restructuring of the Middle
A careful reading of the National Security Strategy reveals this
policy. The war on terrorism is an “historic opportunity” to “defend
the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants” [which includes most
Middle East countries] and to use this “opportunity” to extend the
reach of democracy, free markets, and free trade around the globe. This
is described as a “distinctly American internationalism” in which “We
stand firmly for the non-negotiable demands for the role of [secular]
law, limits on the power of the state, free speech, freedom of worship,
equal justice, respect for women, religious and ethnic tolerance, and
respect for private property.” That is, under the guise of fighting
terrorism, our policy is to change those cultures and regimes that do
not square with American principles, values, and interests.
The above “non-negotiable demands” may not seem out of order to
Americans and most other industrialized nations. However, it will send
a shiver up the spine of the leaders of most Arab states (not to
mention Vietnam, North Korea, China, Pakistan, and, yes, even Russia).
Additionally, the goal of bringing “democracy, development, free
markets, and free trade to every corner of the world” requires a number
of conditions, especially “energy security,” by which is meant OIL.
As we look at the Middle East and the rationale for invading Iraq,
what sticks out is 1) an elitist leadership that is repressive, 2)
their role in supporting international terrorism, 3) religious and
ethnic intolerance, and 4) interests in weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq differed from several other Middle East states only because Saddam
Hussein was more universally hated, and for this reason Iraq was a good
country to attack first. However, in terms of posing a threat and
supporting terrorism, both Syria and Iran out-rank Iraq. Saudi Arabia
is not far behind. It would be hard to decide which of the leaders of
all these countries hates the United States more.
Additionally, less than a month ago, just as the United States was
deploying forces to invade Iraq, it became clear that Iran was going to
start producing nuclear weapons grade material. During the war,
material support for Iraq was sent through Syria and irregular forces
from both Syria and Iran began appearing in Iraq to help in the battle
against the U.S. forces.
This poses three revealing questions. 1) If U.S. military forces
leave the area, will Iran and Syria allow U.S. or UN peace-keeping and
nation-building forces to establish a government contrary to their
interests? Normal police and nation-building forces are no match for
irregular and guerrilla forces. 2) Will U.S. military forces leave the
area before this threat that could soon become “dire” can be met? Both
Syria and Iran have long been on the neo-cons’ short list of countries
that need to be disarmed and have their regimes changed because of
their history in supporting international terrorism. 3) Because of
their support to terrorism and their repression, and hence instability,
isn’t Saudi Arabia also in need of “adjustment”?
How can the United States, its policy driven by the neo-cons, not
capitalize upon this historic opportunity to redraw the entire
political map of the Middle East? Changing Iraq is not a fait accompli
without also changing Syria and Iran. Changing Iraq alone will not
satisfy the neo-con thirst for “peace” in the Middle East. If U.S.
forces are brought home, even President Bush is most unlikely to do an
about face and send them back in a year or two. In that time, Iran
could be building nuclear weapons and selling nuclear material to other
countries, or trading the fuel for a favor or two.
Based on the past 100 years’ history, dire threats do not come out
of nowhere. In all cases their emergence has been aided and abetted by
others, especially the United States and its European allies.
Totalitarian states need help because their focus is on forces of
repression and military, not on the principles and interests that enable
societies to pursue a natural path of growth and production. As
analyzed independently by Igor Shavarevich and Francis
Schaeffer,5 socialism cannot work and, unless
propped up, will fall because it is inherently suicidal.
The Middle East has not been a “dire” threat except to the extent
the countries have been aided, such as Iraq was by the neo-cons during
the Reagan Administration, when it was in their interest to do so,
which they conveniently forget.
Threats do not suddenly emerge. The development of a threat is a
long process that can be seen from afar. The answer is not the military
prowess worshiped by the neo-cons or the pre-emptive attacks they
embrace, but rock-solid principles of the sort unheard of in foreign
policy and industrial circles.
The answer to keeping threats under control is simple. Stop
providing them with assistance and armaments. For an authoritative
answer, read Ephesians, beginning with Ephesians 5:11 “Have no
fellowship (have nothing to do) with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather reprove (expose) them.”
Certainly, any nation worth its salt will prepare itself to defend
its citizens. If attacked, a nation must defend itself. But, American
principles of defense and foreign policy set forth by our Founding
Fathers did not include any need to boldly promote our principles
abroad or accept any global responsibilities. Rather, they were to
avoid entangling foreign alliances, not to interfere in the internal
affairs of other nations, to vest the power to declare war in the
Congress and not in the Executive, and to provide for an Army and Navy
to defend American citizens and American borders, not act as some sort
of world policeman to do the bidding of foreign or commercial
Among the signatories were Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby, Donald
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Elliott Abrams.
See, for example, the following books by Antony Sutton: Wall Street
and the Bolsheviks, Wall Street and Hitler, and The Best Enemy Money
Igor Shavarevich (The Socialist Phenomenon, 1976, 1980.
Francis Schaeffer (How Should We Then Live, 1976.