The Religious Rightists and The Shrubbyist Lust for War
Two men driving Bush into war
Ed Vulliamy in New York profiles the religious figures behind a 'Texanised presidency' who believe war will mean America is respected in the Islamic world.
Sunday February 23, 2003 The Observer
Behind President George W. Bush's charge to war against Iraq, there is a carefully devised mission, drawn up by people who work over the shoulders of those whom America calls 'The Principals'.
Lurking in the background behind Bush, his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are the people propelling US policy. And behind them, the masterminds of the Bush presidency as it arrived at the White House from Texas, are Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz.
It is too simple to explain the upcoming war as 'blood for oil', as did millions of placards last weekend, for Rove and Wolfowitz are ideologists beyond the imperatives of profit. They represent an unlikely and formidable alliance forged between the gritty Texan Republicans who took over America, fuelled by fierce conservative Christianity, and a faction of the East Coast intelligentsia with roots in Ronald Reagan's time, devoted to achieving raw, unilateral power.
Rove and Wolfowitz have worked for decades to reach their moment, and that moment has come as war draws near. Bush calls Rove, depending on his mood, 'Boy Genius' or 'Turd Blossom'. Rove is one of a new political breed - the master craftsmen - nurturing a 24-year political campaign of his own design, but careful not to expose who he really is.
His Christian faith is a weapon of devastating cogency, but he never discusses it; no one knows if his politics are religious or politics are his religion. A Christmas Day child born in Denver, as a boy he had a poster above his bed reading 'Wake Up, America!' As a student, he was a fervent young Republican who pitched himself against the peace movement.
His first bonding with Bush was not over politics, but the two men's ideological and moral distaste for the Sixties - after Bush's born-again conversion from alcoholism to Christianity. Rove was courted by George Bush Snr during his unsuccessful bid to be the Republican presidential candidate for 1980.
But Rove's genius would show later, on Bush senior's election to the White House in 1988, when he co-opted the right-wing Christian Coalition - wary of Bush's lack of theocratic stridency - into the family camp.
Conservative Southern Protestantism was a constituency Bush Jr befriended and kept all the way to Washington, defining both his own political personality and the new-look Republican Party.
When Rove answered the call to come to Texas in 1978, every state office was held by a Democrat. Now, almost all of them are Republican. Every Republican campaign was run by Rove and in 1994 his client - challenging for the state governorship - was a man he knew well: George W. Bush.
'Rove and Bush came to an important strategic conclusion,' writes Lou Dubose, Rove's biographer. 'To govern on behalf of the corporate Right, they would have to appease the Christian Right.'
Bush's six years as Texas governor were a dry run for national domestic policy - steered by Rove - as President: lavish favours to the energy industry, tax breaks for the upper income brackets and social policy driven by evangelical zeal.
Bush had been governor for only a year when, as Rove says, it 'dawned on me' he should run for President; two years later, in 1997, he began secretly planning the campaign. In March 1999, Bush ordered Rove to sell his consulting firm - 'he wanted 120 per cent of his attention,' says a former employee, 'full-time, day and night'.
Rove hatched and ran the presidential campaign, deploying the Bush family Rolodex and the might of the oil industry and unleashing the most vigorous direct-mailing blizzard of all time. 'If the devil is in the details,' writes Dubose, 'he had found Rove waiting to greet him when he got there.'
By the time George W. became President, Rove was the hub of a Texan wheel connecting the family, the party, the Christian Right and the energy industry. A single episode serves as metaphor: during the Enron scandal last year, a shadow was cast over Rove when it was revealed that he had sold $100,000 of Enron stock just before the firm went bankrupt.
More intriguing, however, was the fact that Rove had personally arranged for the former leader of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed, to take up a consultancy at Enron - Bush's biggest single financial backer - worth between $10,000 and $20,000 a month.
This was the machine of perpetual motion that Rove built. His accomplishment was the 'Texanisation' of the national Republican Party under the leadership of the Bush family and to take that party back to presidential office after eight years. Rove is unquestionably the most powerful policy adviser in the White House.
Militant Islam was another world from Rove's. However, on 11 September, 2001, it became a new piece of political raw material needing urgent attention. Rove and Bush had been isolationists, wanting as little to do with the Middle East - or any other corner of the planet - as possible. But suddenly there was a new arena in which to work for political results: and, as Rove entered it, he met and was greeted by a group of people who had for years been as busy as he in crafting their political model; this time, the export of unchallenged American power across the world.
Rove in theory has no role in foreign policy, but Washington insiders agree he is now as preoccupied with global affairs as he is with those at home. In a recent book, conservative staff speech writer David Frum recalls the approach of the presidency towards Islam after the attacks and criticises Bush as being 'soft on Islam' for his emphasis on a 'religion of peace'.
Rove, writes Frum, was 'drawn to a very different answer'. Islam, Rove argued, 'was one of the world's great empires' which had 'never reconciled... to the loss of power and dominion'. In response, he said, 'the United States should recognise that, although it cannot expect to be loved, it can enforce respect'.
Rove's position dovetailed with the beliefs of Paul Wolfowitz, and the axis between conservative Southern Protestantism and fervent, highly intellectual, East Coast Zionism was forged - each as zealous about their religion as the other.
There is a shorthand view of Wolfowitz as a firebrand hawk, but he is more like Rove than that - patient, calculating, logical, soft-spoken and deliberate. Wolfowitz was a Jewish son of academe, a brilliant scholar of mathematics and a diplomat. When he joined the Pentagon after the Yom Kippur war, he set about laying out what is now US policy in the Middle East.
In 1992, just before Bush's father was defeated by Bill Clinton, Wolfowitz wrote a blueprint to 'set the nation's direction for the next century', which is now the foreign policy of George W. Bush. Entitled 'Defence Planning Guidance', it put an onus on the Pentagon to 'establish and protect a new order' under unchallenged American authority.
The US, it said, must be sure of 'deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role' - including Germany and Japan. It contemplated the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry pre-emptively, 'even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests'.
Wolfowitz's group formalised itself into a group called Project for the New American Century, which included Cheney and another old friend, former Pentagon Under-Secretary for Policy under Reagan, Richard Perle.
In a document two years ago, the Project pondered that what was needed to assure US global power was 'some catastrophic and catalysing event, like a new Pearl Harbor'. The document had noted that 'while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides immediate justification' for intervention, 'the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein'.
At a graduation speech to the Military Academy at West Point, Bush last June affirmed the Wolfowitz doctrine as official policy. 'America has, and intends to keep,' he said, 'military strengths beyond challenge.'
At the Pentagon, Wolfowitz and his boss Rumsfeld set up an intelligence group under Abram Schulsky and the Under-Secretary for Defence, Douglas Feith, both old friends of Wolfowitz. The group's public face is the semi-official Defence Policy Board, headed by Perle.
Perle and Feith wrote a paper in 1996 called 'A Clean Break' for the then leader of Israel's Likud bloc, Binyamin Netanyahu; the clean break was from the Oslo peace process. Israel's 'claim to the land (including the West Bank) is legitimate and noble,' said the paper. 'Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights is a solid basis for the future.' At the State Department, the 'Arabist' faction of regional experts favouring the diplomacy of alliances in the area was drowned out by the hawks, markedly by another new unit with favoured access to the White House.
And in Rove's White House, with his backing, the circle was closed and the last piece of the jigsaw was put in place, with the appointment of Elliot Abrams to handle policy for the Middle East, for the National Security Council.
Abrams is another veteran of Reagan days and the 'dirty wars' in Central America, convicted by Congress for lying alongside Colonel Oliver North over the Iran-Contra scandal, but pardoned by President Bush's father.
He has since written a book warning that American Jewry faces extinction through intermarriage and has counselled against the peace process and for the righteousness of Ariel Sharon's Israel. He is Wolfowitz's man, talking every day to his office neighbour, Rove.
THE WORLD WILL KNOW THE TRUTH (Link)
John Pilger reveals the deranged agendas of the ruthlessly power-and-profit-greedy
people directing the current American administration, most of them relics
from the Reagan-Bush Sr. cold war era.
12 Dec 2002: published in the New Statesman (London) 16 December 2002
Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor". Its published aims have, alarmingly, come true. The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor".
The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the "new Pearl Harbor", described as "the opportunity of ages". The extremists who have since exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and "think-tanks" were established to avenge the American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the cold war. The Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush regime.
One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan's education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists of American terrorism. The PNAC's seminal report, Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has happened. It said the United States should develop "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and make "star wars" a national priority. This is happening. It said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.
As for Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction", these were dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is. "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification," it says, "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." How has this grand strategy been implemented? A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated.
On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that "public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option. If Jonathan Steele's estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives. (jp note #1)
Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In last April's New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she had called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them "to think about 'how do you capitalise on these opportunities'", which she compared with those of "1945 to 1947": the start of the cold war.
Since 11 September, America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels, especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states "if necessary". Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.
In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed. This "super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the "CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception". According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks which would then require "counter-attack" by the United States on countries "harbouring the terrorists".
In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United States. This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist campaign - complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans - as justification for an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of in 1963 and with no global rival to invite caution. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The thread running through their ruminations is the importance of the media: "the prioritised task of bringing on board journalists of repute to accept our position".
"Our position" is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack Straw's inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to "explain"). But the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda.
This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere ventriloquists' dummies. An attack on a nation of 22 million suffering people is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a subject at an academic seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around a map, as the old imperialists used to do.
The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of modern imperial domination, but how "bad" Saddam Hussein is. There is no admission that their decision to join the war party further seals the fate of perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on America's international death row. Their doublethink will not work. You cannot support murderous piracy in the name of humanitarianism. Moreover, the extremes of American fundamentalism that we now face have been staring at us for too long for those of good heart and sense not to recognise them.
With thanks to Norm Dixon and Chris Floyd
From email: YF117@aol.com
"The Project for the New American Century is funded by the Chickenhawk [war mongers who evaded military service] faction [Perle, Wolfowitz, et al.] [aka "NeoCon] which has very strong influence over the current administration. I checked out their website http://www.newamericancentury.org
This article ran in December '02. We are now on the edge of the abyss, and I'm not aware of any mainstream media who have tackled the extraordinary information revealed in this article. Why isn't this out there???? WAY WAY out there???? http://www.presentdanger.org/pdf/gac/0209chickenhawks.pdf
Don't miss Pilger's words about the western media, and the extent to which Rumsfeld/Cheney et al have "prioritized the task of bringing on board journalists of repute to accept our position."
Read, and please pass it on, get it in front of people who can make themselves heard over the deafening din of the mobilization of men and materiel now taking place.