Reality Checks 082406

From World War 4 Report, "Lebanon and the NeoCon End Game", clips:
There have been signs over the past three years, as the debacle in Iraq has gone from bad to worse, that the so-called "neo-cons"—the Pentagon-connected policy wonks with traditional ties to the Israeli right and ultra-ambitious schemes to remake the entire order of the Middle East—have been taken down a peg. With the US actually in danger of losing control of Iraq, the notion of attacking Iran, or even plotting against supposed allies like Saudi Arabia, is starting to look more dangerous than attractive to Washington pragmatists.

The turning point would seem to have been in March 2003, when US troops were still advancing on Baghdad. At this decisive moment, Pentagon official Richard Perle resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a high-level group that advises Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on policy issues. On March 27, the same day he resigned, Perle told BBC: "This will be the short war I and others predicted... I don't believe it will be months. I believed all along that it will be a quick war, and I continue to believe that."

Stepping down as chair, Perle would remain on the board until 2004. Also serving on the Defense Policy Board at this time were former CIA director James Woolsey, former Vice President Dan Quayle, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Perle had become increasingly identified with a maximalist agenda to go beyond mere "regime change" in Iraq to topple regimes and even redraw borders throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. On Oct. 1, 2002, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on a recent meeting in which Perle told Pentagon officials that Iraq was just a tactical goal, while Saudi Arabia was the strategic goal and Egypt was the great prize. Other ideas he reportedly put forth included permanent Israeli annexation of the Palestinian territories, a Palestinian state in Jordan, and a restored Hashemite monarchy in Iraq . . .

Richard Perle was so strongly opposed to nuclear arms control agreements with the USSR during his days as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, that he became known as ''the Prince of Darkness.'' Since leaving the Defense Policy Board, he has carried on a political blog for the Washington Post. On June 25, just before the Lebanon conflagration began, he wrote a piece that took on the State Department pragmatists for backing down from expansion of Washington's war beyond Iraq. Unsubtly entitled "Why Did Bush Blink on Iran? (Ask Condi)," it stated:

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran knows what he wants: nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them; suppression of freedom at home and the spread of terrorism abroad... President Bush, too, knows what he wants: an irreversible end to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the 'expansion of freedom in all the world' and victory in the war on terrorism. The State Department and its European counterparts know what they want: negotiations... And now, on May 31, the administration offered to join talks with Iran on its nuclear program. How is it that Bush, who vowed that on his watch 'the worst weapons will not fall into the worst hands,' has chosen to beat such an ignominious retreat?"

Perle perceives that the White House has capitulated to the appeasement-oriented Europeans—and clearly places the blame with Rice's promotion to Secretary of State. He laments that "the geography of this administration has changed. Condoleezza Rice has moved from the White House to Foggy Bottom... [S]he is now in the midst of—and increasingly represents—a diplomatic establishment that is driven to accommodate its allies even when (or, it seems, especially when) such allies counsel the appeasement of our adversaries." . . .

Joseph Cirincione, writing for the ThinkProgress blog, traces the plan for Lebanon to a controversial document prepared in 1996 by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith (undersecretary of defense for policy until last year) and David Wurmser (former American Enterprise Institute wonk and now Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser). They document was prepared for the newly-elected Likud government in Israel, and called for "A Clean Break" with the policies of negotiating with the Palestinians and trading land for peace.

According to the document, the problem could be solved "if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon." The document also called for removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and "reestablishing the principle of preemption." It anticipated that the successes of these wars could be used to launch campaigns against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reshaping "the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly."

Writes Cirincione: "Now, with the US bogged down in Iraq, with Bush losing control of world events, and with the threats to national security growing worse, no one could possibly still believe this plan, could they? Think again."

He notes that William Kristol, neo-con editor of the Weekly Standard, wrote in a column entitled "It's Our War" July 24 that Hezbollah is acting as Tehran's proxy and that the US should respond with air-strikes against Iran: "We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions—and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

Cirincione concludes: "The neoconservatives are now hoping to use the Israeli-Lebanon conflict as the trigger to launch a US war against Syria, Iran or both. These profoundly dangerous policies have to be exposed and stopped before they do even more harm to US national security then they already have."

Then by Jim Hightower, writing for AlterNet, comes "Where Bush's Arrogance Has Taken Us." Excerpt:
During his gubernatorial days in Texas, George W let slip a one-sentence thought that unintentionally gave us a peek into his political soul. In hindsight, it should've been loudly broadcast all across our land so people could've absorbed it, contemplated its portent?and roundly rejected the guy's bid for the presidency. On May 21, 1999, reacting to some satirical criticism of him, Bush snapped: "There ought to be limits to freedom."

Gosh, so many freedoms to limit, so little time! But in five short years, the BushCheneyRummy regime has made remarkable strides toward dismembering the genius of the Founders, going at our Constitution and Bill of Rights like famished alligators chasing a couple of poodles.

Forget about such niceties as separation of powers, checks and balances (crucial to the practice of democracy), the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and open government-these guys are on an autocratic tear. Whenever they've been challenged (all too rarely), they simply shout "war on terror," "commander-in-chief," "support our troops," "executive privilege," "I'm the decider," or some other slam-the-door political phrase designed to silence any opposition. Indeed, opponents are branded "enemies" who must be demonized, personally attacked, and, if possible, destroyed. Bush's find-the-loopholes lawyers assert that a president has the right to lie (even about going to war), to imprison people indefinitely (without charges, lawyers, hearings, courts, or hope), to torture people, to spy on Americans without court or congressional review, to prosecute reporters who dare to report, to rewrite laws on executive whim? and on and on.

Finally, from Guardian Unlimited, "US interventions have boosted Iran, says report":
The US-led "war on terror" has bolstered Iran's power and influence in the Middle East, especially over its neighbour and former enemy Iraq, a thinktank said today.
A report published by Chatham House said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had removed Iran's main rival regimes in the region.

Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and its invasion of Lebanon had also put Iran "in a position of considerable strength" in the Middle East, said the thinktank.
Gee, gosh, George. Thanks a bunch.

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