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Bush Jr.'s War on Iraq
A general introduction
Historical and Investigative Research - 1
This is a general introduction to a
series of HIR articles analyzing the historical background
necessary to understand George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.
Accusations against President Bush Jr.’s administration that it used phony intelligence to sell the current invasion and occupation of Iraq have become a growing clamor in the media, helping produce a consensus in the public that the officially stated reasons for going to war were lies. In consequence, there is a growing crescendo now in the United States about getting out of Iraq. For example, on 28 November 2005 Newsweek ran the headline:
“BUSH AT THE TIPPING POINT: A hawkish Democrat calls for an Iraq withdrawal setting off a bitter fight in Washington over how, and when, the troops should come home.”
The text of the article explains:
“After months of debate over the question of how the country got into Iraq -- who knew what and when about the absence of WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] -- the political center of gravity suddenly shifted to another question: how we get out.”
“The one-man tipping point,” according to Newsweek, is Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania. Murtha had been for the war, now he is loudly against, and his hawkish credentials -- he is “a favorite of the Pentagon generals” -- plus the growing anti-Bush climate, we are told, changed the debate. This could be the beginning of the end for the US troops in Iraq. So, with the public’s attention on Iraq thus focused, this is probably a good time for HIR to do what it does best: provide the historical context needed to understand the present and to produce reasonably constrained hypotheses about the future.
Given that a growing number of people no longer believe that the Bush administration’s officially stated reasons for attacking Iraq -- finding and destroying Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) -- were the real reasons, let us ask this question: Why did the US invade Iraq?
Opinions differ. A popular view is that the US invasion of Iraq has something to do with the appetite of the US ruling elite for cheap oil. This will seem like a natural hypothesis to many because opponents of the elder Bush accused that his 1991 war on Iraq -- the Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) -- was driven by hunger for oil. And now Warner Brothers has released a George Clooney production, Syriana, arguing that US foreign policy in the Middle East is generally a consequence of hunger for oil. But I don’t think the oil hypothesis is right. Oh, I will not deny that the US ruling elite likes making money with oil. And neither will I deny that keeping control over the Iranian oil fields was the main motivator of the 1953 CIA-engineered coup in Iran. But since 1979, I will argue, the main goal of US policy in Asia and the Middle East has been the growth of Islamist terrorism. So, with regard to the current war on Iraq, the hypothesis I will defend is the following:
George W. Bush attacked Iraq in order to ensure the continued growth of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East.
Here’s how I will go about it. I will argue that in order to understand Bush Jr.’s war on Iraq, one must first understand Bush Sr.’s 1991 Gulf War against the same country. And that war was not fought for oil; rather, it was launched to protect Islamist Iran. In order to show this, I need to examine US policy towards the Iran-Iraq war that came immediately before the Gulf War, and this will take us as far back as 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini installed himself in Iran as the supreme leader in an Islamist coup d’État, after which he immediately provoked the Iran-Iraq war. In fact, we will have to dig even further back to the 1953 CIA coup that installed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the US’s right-wing repressive puppet in Iran, sowing the seeds of discontent that led to the Iranian Revolution of 1979 which Khomeini (another US asset) right away betrayed. The coming articles will construct and document this in some detail, but here is the claim:
Since 1979, US foreign policy towards Iraq has been consistently pro-Islamist, pro-terrorist, and pro-Iranian.
In other words, HIR’s series of articles will aim to show that if we look at Iraq from Iran, as I claim the US planners do, US foreign policy towards Iraq makes perfect sense, with nary a leftover absurdity. This is important, because political analysis requires inferring the intentions of the various actors. Their behaviors will appear absurd if we assign to them intentions that they probably didn't have, so the ability to resolve apparent absurdities is what reveals a political analysis to be on the right track. This is, in fact, the only test of a political analysis (though it is seldom applied).
HIR's articles on Iraq and Iran will be appearing in the coming weeks. Immediately, below, I will give you an introductory taste for why the view I defend makes sense, using a few things that Newsweek says to motivate my reflections.
As you may know, there is a bloody civil war going on in Iraq, which the British daily The Guardian describes as follows:
“The rate of suicide bombings in Iraq continues its relentless rise: some days there are more than five attacks. Jihadist leaders are taking full advantage of the anger and despair of the many Iraqis who have lost family members at the hands of the occupation. The recruiters convince them that taking revenge is the way to please God and to defeat the infidels.”[1a]
In other words, the actual effect of the US invasion is to feed the growth of Islamist terrorism in Iraq.
But there are other sources of violence. Iraq is an ethnic and religious mosaic (see map at right). The main religious division is between Sunni Muslims (the backbone of Saddam Hussein's erstwhile power) and Shia Muslims (like those in Iran). What distinguishes Sunni from Shia Muslims is less important than the fact of their not getting along very well. There is a long history of Iranian support for armed Shia rebellions in Iraq, and the pattern continues. It is a major issue. For example, Newsweek tells us that, just recently, “[Mowaffaq al-] Rubbaie, Iraq’s national-security adviser,” made an official trip to Iran. He,
“and other Iraqi officials, chastised Iran for supporting Shiite
militias [in Iraq] and aggravating the insurgency [i.e. the ongoing
civil war in Iraq]. More gently, they asked for
Tehran’s help… Rubbaie returned home with what he regards as an
important prize: a memorandum of understanding with Tehran that commits
the two governments to cooperate on sensitive intelligence-
Now, this is a bit strange. Will the Iraqi hens improve their security by having a chat with the Iranian wolf? I find it improbable, to put it mildly, that Iran will really honor an agreement to share intelligence against its own client militias in Iraq. I will therefore assume what is most likely: that Iran will continue to support them.
With this assumption, let us ask: Since these militias are fighting to install Iranian-style Shiite Islamism in Iraq, what is the likelihood of a Shiite Islamist government under Iran’s influence when the US soldiers leave? The answer is ‘relatively high,’ because the population of Iraq is about 60-65% Shiite, according to US Intelligence.
Could a Shia-dominated Islamist Iraq under Iran’s influence be what the US ruling elite wants?
Consider something else that Newsweek says:
“Iranian interference continues to haunt future scenarios for an independent, stable Iraq. [US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay] Khalilzad, echoing other US officials, said he is hoping for a ‘significant withdrawal’ of US troops from Iraq next year. But the Bush administration worries that a fractured Iraq under weak leadership will be Tehran’s playground.”
It appears that Iraq is indeed expected to become “Tehran’s playground.” So the actual effect of the US invasion of Iraq will be to turn it into an Islamist puppet state of Iran.
But the text above bears scrutiny. If Khalilzad is “echoing other US officials” when he says he would like a major troop withdrawal by next year, then which “Bush administration” is it that “worries that a fractured Iraq...will be Tehran’s playground”? Isn’t the Bush administration composed of “US officials”? And isn’t Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq, supposed to be mouthing the US’s official policy towards Iraq? And if the growth of Iranian power is not what the US ruling elite wants, then why are Khalilzad and other US officials calling for withdrawing the troops, a policy that will abandon Iraq to Iran?
The above excerpt from Newsweek appears to be an example of what George Orwell, in his novel 1984, called Newspeak: contradictions tumble one after another in sequence, as if nothing, there to impair the reader's ability to reason. Here's how it works. The reader assumes relative honesty, and basic intelligence, and so the hypothesis that total absurdities are in fact maliciously intended by a major publication such as Newsweek will not be put on the table. For to consider this hypothesis would be to challenge explicitly the very order of reality that the reader takes for granted: that the press is (at least reasonably) free. So the reader’s mind refuses, at some level, the exercise of skeptical analysis, passing over the contradictions in a haze. This is the opposite of reasoning, and it pushes the reader's mind into a kind of torpor of illogic that will accept anything -- the intended effect.
In this way, the reader is left with an invalid interpretation, because a valid one would have to take any apparent absurdities head on and resolve them. This is what HIR aims to produce. So, what we need is a hypothesis that will explain why:
Here is one such hypothesis: The US ruling elite favors the spread of Iranian-style Islamist terrorism, but cannot tell this to the American public, because the American public would be horrified to find that its own government is sponsoring the spread of Islamist terrorism.
Of course, this interpretation requires believing that US officials are misleading the American public. Shocking as that idea may be, Jared Israel of Emperor’s Clothes has already produced a mountain of documentation and analysis to support his hypothesis that US geostrategy in Asia is generally geared towards the promotion of Islamist terrorism because it destabilizes the Asian giants -- Russia (earlier, the Soviet Union), China, and India -- which compete with the US for power there. The strategy works because the Asian giants have Muslim populations on their borders, inside and outside, so sponsoring Islamist terrorist movements in Asia is conducive to producing border conflicts and civil wars that drive these large countries to collapse.
From the perspective of Jared Israel’s hypothesis, then, US policy towards Iraq, which is to grind it down and serve it up for Iran to swallow, is just the latest installment in the overall game plan to promote Islamist terrorism as a tool of semi-covert imperialism. The US ruling elite will pull the troops out of Iraq in order to give Iraq to Iran, but will complain publicly about the outcome, giving the appearance of withdrawing the troops under pressure from the US public.
Consistent with this view, consider what the Toronto Star wrote on 24 November 2005, in an article titled “White House sets stage for pullback of troops”:
“Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, also told CNN this week he believed it would be possible to begin a withdrawal of American forces next year. The change in tone appears to be an acknowledgement of the increasing unpopularity of the war, with one national poll this week indicating 65 per cent of Americans would like to see the troops home by the end of 2006.”[4a]
The word “also” is appended to Khalilzad's opinion because he was echoing Pentagon officials and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, whose identical views were reported in the same article. But perhaps you will notice the contradiction in what the Daily News reported Khalilzad as saying only four days later:
“Bush’s ambassador to Iraq warned yesterday that pulling out of the country early would be disastrous. ‘Terrorists could take over part of this country and expand from here,’ Zalmay Khalilzad told Newsweek. ‘And given the resources of Iraq, given the technical expertise of its people, it will make Afghanistan look like child’s play.’”[4b]
Since a withdrawal needs to be planned, and since Zalmay Khalilzad's preferred date for a major withdrawal -- “next year” -- is already upon us (this is November), Khalilzad is in fact calling for an immediate troop withdrawal even as he explains that “pulling out...early would be disastrous.” An absurdity? Not under my hypothesis: the US ruling elite wants the “disastrous” result, but knows that the American public will deplore it, so US officials must appear to deplore it also, and to be pulling out of Iraq reluctantly, under pressure from the American public. This is precisely why US government statements about impending withdrawal did not come before the polls began to show a strong US majority for it, as we see above.
Also consistent with my hypothesis is all this business about the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Clearly, the US ruling elite wanted the world to think that it didn't have a good reason to attack Iraq. Why do I say this? Because when the US ruling elite attacked Serbia, it had no problem mobilizing the Western press to allege that the Serbs were committing a genocide against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, even though no such genocide took place. The official figures of NATO and The Hague Tribunal show that, contrary to NATO's claims of 100,000 and then 500,000 Albanian civilians supposedly murdered by the Serbian forces, not a single Albanian civilian murdered by Serbian forces was ever produced, despite NATO's complete military control over Kosovo, and despite the forensic investigators being hirelings of NATO's Hague Tribunal.[4c] You read correctly: not one body. Hence, there is simply no evidence to support the NATO allegations of Serbian massacres of Albanian civilians in Kosovo. In sharp contrast, evidence is not lacking for murders of innocent Serbs and Albanians by the US-supported KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army), and by the NATO bombs themselves (consult the above footnote). But where is the scandal in the media about how the public was lied to in order to justify a war against the Serbs? Nowhere to be seen. The media covered for NATO in Kosovo.
If the Western mass media can make up a genocide that didn't happen in Kosovo, and cover up the slaughters of Serbs that did happen, in order to make it look like NATO had a good reason to attack Serbia, then it can make up WMDs in Iraq, even if they weren't there. But the media told us instead that the government had lied about WMDs, and the government went out of its way to look guilty, so it appears that the US ruling elite wants its controlled media generating the impression that there was no good reason to attack Iraq. This has two main practical effects. The first is to make the US ruling elite appear to be directing gratuitous violence against Muslims, which will feed anti-Americanism and in consequence make the job of recruitment into Islamist terrorist organizations easier. The second is to feed domestic opposition in the US to the war on Iraq, allowing the US ruling elite to appear as if it will be reluctantly pulling out, under public pressure, deploring all the time in its official statements the mess that it will be leaving behind. But this mess is what it really wants: for Iran to swallow up Iraq.
The fact that Zalmay Khalilzad is the US official calling for a significant troop withdrawal next year is a good reason for expecting one. As Jared Israel has documented, Khalilzad is extremely powerful, and what Khalilzad says tends to get done. Right after the Iran-Iraq war, for example, when Iraq ended stronger relative to Iran in 1988, Zalmay Khalilzad argued forcefully for “strengthening Iran and containing Iraq.” And guess what happened? Immediately -- as the geopolitical clock ticks -- the Gulf War of 1991 followed, and it indeed destroyed Iraq, thereby strengthening, indeed, Iran’s theocratic Shiite government relative to its main rival: Iraq’s secular Baathist government. Then, for many years, US policy towards Iraq was indeed that of containment. In other words, it all happened just like Zalmay Khalilzad recommended, and consistent with the secret and illegal US arms shipments to Iran during the immediately preceding Iran-Iraq war (the 'Iran-gate' or 'Iran-Contra' scandal).
Once you adopt the hypothesis that the US ruling elite wants Iranian-style Islamist terrorism to spread westwards, it is no longer absurd that Newsweek should quote Khalilzad saying that Iran is “advancing its long-term goal of establishing [regional] domination,” even as he explains that he would like the US troops immediately withdrawn.[6a] Neither is it surprising to find Newsweek adding that “Iraqi officials are all too aware of how deeply Iran has infiltrated Baghdad.” The deed is done: Iraq belongs to Iran. All that remains is to withdraw the troops, as Khalilzad wants.
In sum, given
1) that the highly probable outcome of this US intervention will be to make Iran the regional Islamist hegemon; and
2) that this will be consistent with all previous US policy towards Iraq and Iran since 1979 (as I will aim to show),
then it is reasonable to conclude that fostering the spread of Islamist terrorism has been the real goal of Bush Jr.’s war on Iraq.
then if the US abandons Iraq to Iran it gets harder to argue that US foreign policy is pro-Israel, doesn’t it.
Stay tuned for HIR’s analysis of US policy towards Iraq and Iran.
The next piece in this series is:
Footnotes and Further
 “Bush at the Tipping Point: A hawkish Democrat calls for an Iraq withdrawal setting off a bitter fight in Washington over how, and when, the troops should come home”; Newsweek; 28 November 2005; pp.28-32; by Howard Fineman.
[1a] Comment & Debate: The US knows it will have to talk to the Iraqi resistance: Even Lebanon was not as terrifying as the random menace of occupied Iraq. But the violence could be brought under control, The Guardian (London) - Final Edition, November 25, 2005, Guardian Comment and Debate Pages, Pg. 33, 1097 words, Zaki Chehab
 “Iran Won’t Need an Exit Strategy: Top Iraqi Officials Hammer Out a Memorandum of Understanding in Tehran – and take America’s Ambassador in Baghdad by Surprise”; Intel; Newsweek; 28 November 2005; pp.30-31; by Scott Johnson and Michael Hirsh.
The World Fact Book; Central Intelligence Agency; Field Listing
[4a] White House sets stage for pullback of troops, The Toronto Star, November 24, 2005 Thursday, NEWS; Pg. A12, 729 words, Tim Harper, Toronto Star, WASHINGTON
[4b] W DEAF TO BAD NEWS ON IRAQ, SAYS MAG, Daily News (New York), November 28, 2005 Monday, RACING FINAL EDITION, NEWS; Pg. 10, 512 words, BY MICHAEL McAULIFF DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
“Zalmay Khalilzad - Special US Envoy for Islamic Terror!”;
Emperor’s Clothes; 1 March 2003; Compiled with comments by Jared
 “Shortly after Mr. Bush [Bush Sr.] won the Presidency in November 1988, a State Department strategist drafted a paper for the President-elect urging that the United States take a fresh approach to the region. Mr. Khalilzad advised in the paper that America’s new policy should concentrate on strengthening Iran and containing Iraq. The paper was included in the State Department Policy Planning Staff's official ‘transition book,’ which reviewed all the foreign policy issues the new President would soon have to confront.”
SOURCE: The 1992 CAMPAIGN - Bush's Greatest Glory Fades As Questions on Iraq Persist; June 27, 1992, Saturday, Late Edition - Final George Bush Section 1; Page 1; Column 5; Foreign Desk
[6a] “Iran Won’t Need an Exit Strategy: Top Iraqi Officials Hammer Out a Memorandum of Understanding in Tehran – and take America’s Ambassador in Baghdad by Surprise”; Intel; Newsweek; 28 November 2005; pp.30-31; by Scott Johnson and Michael Hirsh.
 "the Iranian President [called] for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'..."
SOURCE: BLAIR CONSIDERS UN SANCTIONS AS HE SPEAKS OF 'REVULSION' AT IRANIAN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH, The Independent (London), October 28, 2005, Friday, Final Edition; NEWS; Pg. 5, 745 words, BY ANNE PENKETH AND COLIN BROWN
 For the full spectrum view, read:
burden of your
This is why we must
CIA coup in Iran
Iranian Revolution /
Invasion of Iraq
Click on map to enlarge...
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