Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Iraq: Ways Backward Digest [Goldhaber x2, Nechvatal (Behan)]
nettime's_two_steps_forward on Fri, 19 Jan 2007 22:10:39 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Iraq: Ways Backward Digest [Goldhaber x2, Nechvatal (Behan)]

Michael H Goldhaber <mgoldh {AT} well.com>
  Re: <nettime> Iraq: The Way Forward
Michael H Goldhaber <mgoldh {AT} well.com>
  Fwd: <nettime> Iraq: The Ways Forward
Joseph Nechvatal <jnech {AT} thing.net>
  Re: <nettime> Iraq: The Ways Forward meets The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

From: Michael H Goldhaber <mgoldh {AT} well.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Iraq: The Way Forward
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 10:22:31 -0800


The Contras were in Nicaragua. Reagan hardly hid his political  
support for them, but was eventually forced by Congress to be  
secretive about direct aid to them.

As for Saudi Arabia, I understand  that shortly after the Iraq  
invasion, the US closed all its bases there. A hasty search yielded  
this:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2984547.stm Those bases  
did not go up in 1973, as your timeline would suggest, but in 1990,  
after Saddam invaded Kuwait. Before that the Saudis were reluctant to  
allow US bases. Their presence there was one of the main  
justifications al Qaeda used for its attacks. (I don't dispute that  
are bases in places such as Qatar.)

Anyway, my main argument is not that particular interests at times  
seek to benefit from American military might, but that as a  
domestically  extremely powerful and culturally  important  
institution, the military and its supporters keep finding rationales  
for strengthening it. On the whole they probably believe whatever the  
momentary rationale is, but they and  certainly, their main  
Congressional supporters, do not  really quesiotn that there must be  

I agree with most of what Brian wrote, except for his urging us to  
read  a two-year-supply of books.


On Jan 18, 2007, at 1:55 PM, Benjamin Geer wrote:

> How about Reagan's support for the Contras in El Salvador?  If
> the purpose of war is to justify military spending in the public's
> eyes, why fight a secret war?  It just makes people wonder what the
> money is being spent on, hence the resulting scandals.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

From: Michael H Goldhaber <mgoldh {AT} well.com>
Subject: Fwd: <nettime> Iraq: The Ways Forward
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 10:00:27 -0800

Thanks for this Brian. What  I think we really ought to be discussing =
is less the intellectual underpinnings of an understanding of US 
militarism and its exaggerations, than how to go about best using 
this moment of teachability, when the American public in large part 
has woken to some dim awareness that the impulse to use force has 
taken us down a foolish path.

One aspect=97 an aspect which in itself I don't want to get too caught =
up in, but might be of particular interest to nettimers, is just how 
this moment arose. Katrina was certainly part of it, but of more 
interest is just how  the American public has turned so much on the 
issue of the Iraq war. Was it the TV images of the Iraq civil war , 
the growing awareness of the death toll (U.S.? Iraqi? both?), the so-
called netroots, and/or still more?


On Jan 18, 2007, at 11:35 PM, Brian Holmes wrote:

>  The notion of the teachable moment is no joke. The US
> is going to go on trying to maintain its failing hegemony and also
> trying to keep propping up its amazingly fictional currency regime for
> probably the rest of our lives (maybe not if you're under 40), and the
> degree of violence those efforts ultimately produces will be inversely
> proportionate to the degree of understanding about the effects of US
> domination in the world that can be opened up in rare moments of
> national doubt, where there is a window for something other than
> missionary arrogance and a new sales pitch. Which is all just a way of
> saying that debating these questions may not be as vain an exercise as
> it undoubtedly appears.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 09:41:41 -0500
Subject: Re: <nettime> Iraq: The Ways Forward meets The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War
From: Joseph Nechvatal <jnech {AT} thing.net>

On Friday, January 19, 2007, at 02:35  am, Brian Holmes wrote:

> Michael, Benjamin -
> This is a really interesting non-argument. Both the sides you are arguing are
> correct. US foreign policy is a complex thing. It is often possible to
> reconcile the interests of domestically oriented politicians, expansive
> corporations, and military-economic strategists, in an almost-unified push
> with world-shaping results. It is also possible to track huge gaps between
> these groups, and to observe situations (like now) where fractions of US
> capital align with=20 fractions of the policy "community" to produce
> unbelievably ill-conceived and failed adventurism. So "your attempts to argue
> a single side of this vast, multi-factored, "interactive equation, can only
> produce illuminating but incomplete "perspectives.

I suggest that you all read:  The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War

by R.W. Behan
which I blogged at http://post.thing.net/node/1178

This is the best thing on American politics I have read in a very long

The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War
by R.W. Behan

Published on Sunday, December 3, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
blogged here with the permission of the author R.W. Behan

George W. Bush, who proudly claimed the mantle of "war president," was keenly
rebuked in the recent mid-term election. The event was notable, but it merely
continued the surreal politics of premeditated war--a politics that has
dominated the last six bizarre, hideous years of our nation's history.

Two elements of the repudiation seem unreal, indeed. Not the fact of it, but
the amazing length of its gestation period--those six years--and how tepid it
was. Given the documented record of the Bush Administration--lying us into
war, torturing prisoners, rewarding cronies with no-bid contracts, spying
secretly on the nation's citizens, selling public policy to Jack Abramoff's
clients, stating even their intent to ignore laws with dozens of "signing
statements"--one would expect the political about-face to have occurred far
sooner, and the protest to have been a firestorm. Bush loyalists in Congress
(and George Bush) should have been turned out angrily and en masse two years

The victorious Democrats' response was even more surprising, and also unreal.
"Impeachment is off the table" quickly became the mantra: let us instead
proceed with raising the minimum wage. Apparently the Bush Administration's
record is flawless, showing nothing remotely approaching a high crime or a
misdemeanor. Impeachment would be a
"waste of time."

There is a good reason for these strange results: we practice a politics of
surrealism, and have done so since George Bush was first put in office.

Ron Suskind of the New York Times learned how the Bush Administration works,
from a "senior advisor to Bush" (Karl Rove is a suspect): 
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." 
They have done that, incessantly, and it is the source of the surrealism.
Spins, evasions, omissions, jingoisms, distortions, "perception management"
(i.e., propaganda), and deliberate lying all contribute to a political
discourse adrift from what is honest, true, and reliable.

The Clear Skies Act allowed more pollution, the Healthy Forests Act caused more
trees to be cut down, the Patriot Act scarred the Bill of Rights, No Child Left
Behind was a step toward privatizing public education, the Medicare
Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was a bonanza for the
pharmaceutical industry and began the process of dismantling Medicare, the
Military Commissions Act fostered torture and suspended habeas corpus.

But no such manufactured reality is more misleading, fraudulent, and damaging
than the "global war on terror."

It took six years for a tardy and mild electoral protest of the Iraq war to
surface, because the trusting American people believed the "war on terror" was
the just and moral response of an innocent nation to a brutal terrorist
attack. They handily reelected the President who was prosecuting it, proudly
supported the troops, and accepted as necessary evils the Bush Administration
excesses. But gradually that acceptance weakened, and on November 7, 2006 it
was withdrawn.

The recent electoral turnaround was generated largely by the horrific
conditions in Iraq today, the savage bloodletting of insurgency and civil war
suffered by Americans and Iraqis alike. These conditions finally exceeded
public tolerance. But the rationale for the war, its purpose, went
unquestioned, because the Bush Administration obscurantism has been so

We need to strip away the created reality of the "war on terror" to see the
true nature of it instead, or our weird, unreal politics will continue.

The wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq were not simply justified and honorable
retaliations to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They
couldn't possibly have been that, because both of them were
premeditated--conceived, planned, and prepared long before September 11, 2001.

(Yes, there have been premeditated military incursions in the past--Panama,
Grenada, and Kosovo come to mind--but none was of the magnitude and duration
of the Afghan and Iraqi wars. Never before have we unleashed full scale
combat, unprovoked, on sovereign foreign nations and then installed permanent
military bases to occupy them.)

Though it has not been addressed in the mass media, the factual story of the
President's premeditated wars is clearly visible, and when the story is read
at one sitting, the dreamlike quality of our politics is apparent.

The story to follow will not be a great revelation to anyone who has read,
perhaps a bit more than casually, about our recent political, military, and
diplomatic past, and has spent some time searching the Internet for
corroboration and details. On the other hand, it is far from common knowledge,
because in the manufactured reality crafted by the Bush Administration, it does
not exist.

Two strands of history converged in the Bush years. One led to the invasion of
Afghanistan, the other to the invasion of Iraq, and the strands came together
on September 11, 2001.

The opening chapter of the story reveals a photograph dating to the Reagan
years of Donald Rumsfeld cordially shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. We
supported Saddam in his war with Iran. But history convulses: on January 26,
1998, Mr. Rumsfeld and 17 others, members of=

the Project for a New American Century, wrote a letter to President Clinton,
urging the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. If we fail to do so,
they were candid in asserting, "a significant portion of the world's supply
of oil will be put at hazard."

This could be considered the fountainhead of our surreal politics. The PNAC
proposed premeditated war explicitly, in a bizarre retrogression to the
centuries of unapologetic European imperialism. Since World War II and the
birth of the United Nations, however, the world has been seeking to surpass
imperialism, struggling to settle international difficulties peaceably--and
here was an open, sad, and radical rebuff.

(In addition to Mr. Rumsfeld, 10 others of the signatories would serve in the
Bush Administration: Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Paula
Dobriansky, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, William Schneider,
Jr., Robert Zoellick, and Paul Wolfowitz.)

When George W. Bush took office, a concern for the "significant portion of
the world's oil supply" was never far from view, because the Administration's
personal linkages to the oil industry were intimate, historic, and numerous.
The president and vice president were just the first examples: eight cabinet
secretaries and the national security advisor were recruited directly from the
oil industry, and so were 32 others in the secretariats of Defense, State,
Energy, Agriculture, Interior, and the Office of Management and Budget.

The Bush Administration came to power anxious, we know from published sources,
to fulfill the PNAC's vision of regime change in Iraq.

In his second week in office, President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to
chair a National Energy Policy Development Group. The supersecret
"Energy Task Force," as it came to known, was composed of officials
from the relevant federal agencies and beyond question heavily attended by
energy industry executives and lobbyists. (The full membership has yet to be
revealed, but Enron's Kenneth Lay was conspicuously present.)

One brute fact had to be apparent to the Task Force: in the Caspian Basin, and
beneath the Iraqi deserts there are 125 billion barrels of proven oil reserves,
and the potential for 433 billion barrels more. Anyone controlling that much
oil could break OPEC's stranglehold overnight.

By early March, 2001, the Task Force was poring over maps of the Iraqi=
oilfields, pipelines, tanker terminals, and oil exploration blocks. It=
studied an inventory of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts"--dozens
of oil companies from 30 different countries, in various stages of exploring
and developing Iraqi crude. (These documents were forced into view several
years later by a citizen group, Judicial Watch, with a Freedom of Information
Act proceeding. It wasn't easy--the Bush Administration appealed the lawsuit
all the way to the Supreme Court--but the maps and documents can now be seen
and downloaded at : http://www.judicialwatch.org/iraqi-oil-maps.shtml .)

Not a single U.S. oil company, however, was among the "suitors," and that was
intolerable. Mr. Cheney's task force concluded, "By any estimation, Middle
East oil producers will remain central to world security. The Gulf will be a
primary focus of U.S. international energy policy."

Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council, meanwhile, was directed by a top
secret memo to "cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered
melding two seemingly unrelated areas of policy." The NSC was ordered to
support "the review of operational policies towards rogue states such as Iraq
and actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields."

The Bush Administration seemed clearly to be drawing a bead on Iraqi oil--long
before the "global war on terror" was envisioned and marketed.

But how could the "capture of new and existing oil fields" be made to seem
less aggressive, less baldly in violation of international law?

At the State Department, a policy-development initiative called "The Future of
Iraq" was undertaken which would accomplish this. The date was April, 2002,
almost a full year before the invasion. The "Oil and Energy Working Group"
provided the cover. Iraq, it said in its final report:, "should be opened to
international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war=85the
country should establish a conducive business environment to attract investment
in oil and gas resources."

"Capture" would take the form of "investment," and the vehicle 
for doing so would be the "production sharing agreement." In exchange for
investing in development costs, oil companies would "share" in the subsequent
production. What would happen, though, if the companies' investments were
only minimal, but their shares of the production were disproportionately,
obscenely large?

That's the way it will work out. Production sharing agreements (PSA's) are
in place covering 75% of the undeveloped Iraqi fields, and the oil companies,
soon to sign the contracts, will earn as much 162% on their=
"investments." The "foreign suitors" are not quite so foreign 
now: the players on the inside tracks are Exxon-Mobil, Chevron,
Conoco-Phillips, BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell.

The use of PSA's, instead of alternative methods of financing infrastructure,
however, will cost the Iraqi people hundreds of billions of dollars in just the
first few years of the "investment" program.

PSA's are favored by the oil companies because the term "production sharing
agreement" is a euphemism for legalized theft. PSA's were not adopted
voluntarily by the Iraqis, however: their use was specified by the U.S. State
Department and institutionalized by Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional

So a line of dots begins to point at Iraq, though nothing illegal or
unconstitutional has yet taken place. We are still in the policy-formulation
stage, but two "seemingly unrelated areas of policy"--national security policy
and international energy policy--have become indistinguishable.

Another line of dots begins with the Carter Administration encouraging and
arming the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, in Afghanistan, to fend off the
Russian invasion there.

And so the next chapter in the story of George Bush's wars is underway.

The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian
Basin contains some $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most
direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the first western oil company to express
interest and take action in the Basin was the Bridas Corporation of Argentina.
It acquired production leases and exploration contracts in the region, and by
November of 1997 had signed an agreement with General Dostum of the Northern
Alliance and with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.

Not to be outdone, the American company Unocal fought Bridas at every turn,
even spurning an invitation from Bridas to join an international consortium in
the Basin. Unocal wanted exclusive control of the trans-Afghan pipeline, and
hired a number of consultants in its conflict with Bridas: Henry Kissinger,
Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration),
Zalmay Khalilzad (a signer of the PNAC letter to President Clinton) and Hamid
Karzai. (Eventually Bridas sued Unocal in the U.S. courts, and won.)

Unocal stayed on the attack until 1999, frequently wooing Taliban leaders at
its headquarters in Texas, and hosting them in meetings with federal officials
in Washington, D.C.

Unocal and the Clinton Administration hoped to have the Taliban cancel the
Bridas contract, but were getting nowhere. Mr. John J. Maresca, a Unocal Vice
President, testified to a House Committee of International Relations on
February 12, 1998, asking politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable
government inserted. His discomfort was well placed.

Six months later terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the US embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania, and two weeks after that President Clinton launched a
cruise missile attack into Afghanistan. Clinton issued an executive order on
July 4, 1999, freezing the US held assets and prohibiting further trade
transactions with the Taliban.

Mr. Maresca could count that as progress. More would follow. Immediately on
taking office, the new Bush Administration actively took up negotiating with
the Taliban once more, seeking still to have the Bridas contract vacated in
favor of Unocal. The parties met three times, in Washington, Berlin, and
Islamablad, but the Taliban wouldn't budge.

Behind the negotiations, however, planning was underway to take military action
against the Taliban. The State Department sought and gained concurrence from
both India and Pakistan to do so, and in July of 2001 three American officials
met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence people to inform them of planned
military strikes against Afghanistan the following October.

State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban, at their last
pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, "Accept
our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."

Common to both the Afghan and Iraqi lines of dots are energy resources, both
oil and gas. It is true our country depends on oil and gas, but it is not the
American people who need to corner Mid East oil and gas by force. Dozens of
oil companies around the world--the "foreign suitors," for example--can supply
us with Iraqi oil or Caspian Basin gas, and would be pleased to do so. There
is no reason not to rely on them: we are buying more and more Toyotas and
Volvos, and fewer Chevrolets and Fords, with no apparent damage to our national

 Why not do the same with gasoline, diesel, and LNG, and avoid armed=

Why not? Because the bottom lines of Exxon-Mobil, Unocal and other domestic
oil companies, in the eyes of the Bush Administration, are sacrosanct. It is
not the American consumers, then, but only the American oil companies who
benefit from George Bush's premeditated wars.

Also common to both lines of dots, and integral to the overall story, is the
historic, intimate, and profitable relationship across several generations
between the Bush family and the royal family of Saudi Arabia. It can be seen
today in the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based investment company focused
primarily in the arms, security, and energy industries. Both George H.W. and
George W. Bush have been deeply involved in Carlyle, and so have a number of
the Saudi royalty. (And so, incidentally, has the family of Osama Bin Laden.)

Carlyle has profited immensely from the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. Its legal
matters are handled by Baker, Botts--James Baker's law firm in Texas. Mr.
Baker also has a personal interest in Carlyle, amounting to some $180 million.
(Baker, Botts defended Prince Sultan bin Abdul=

Aziz, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, who was sued by the families of
Trade Tower victims for alleged complicity in the attacks.)=

 Another client of Baker, Botts is Exxon-Mobil.

In September of 2000, with the Presidential election approaching, the Project
for a New American Century published a report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses."
The PNAC once more advocated pre-emptive war, i.e., premeditated war,
something unprecedented in the U.S. history, but it realized what a radical
departure that would represent. Moving to such a mindset would be long and
difficult, in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a
new Pearl Harbor."

When President Bush assumed office three other members of the Project for a New
American Century joined his administration: Richard Cheney, Douglas Feith,
and Lewis Libby. Pre-emptive, premeditated war was formally adopted when the
President signed the National Security Strategy early in his tenure.

So the twists and turns, convulsions, and complexity of people and ideas
continued, and so did the jockeying for the world's oil wealth, but still
nothing illegal or unconstitutional had been done.

The rationale, the urge, and the planning, however, for attacking both=
Afghanistan and Iraq were in place. But to attack a sovereign nation unprovoked
would enrage the American people--and much of the world, as well. The Bush
Administration bided its time.

The preparations had all been done secretly, wholly within the executive
branch. The Congress was not informed until the endgame of the premeditation,
when President Bush, making his dishonest case for the "war on terror" asked
for and was granted the discretion to use military force. The American people
were equally denied information of critical public importance. Probably
never before in our history was such a drastic and momentous action undertaken
with so little knowledge or oversight: the dispatch of America's armed forces
into five years of violence.

The story of George Bush's premeditated wars now enters its final chapter.

The catastrophic event takes place. A hijacked airliner probably en route to
the White House crashes in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon is afire, and the Twin
Towers of the World Trade Center are rubble.

In the first hours of frenetic response, fully aware of al Qaeda's culpability,
both President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld seek frantically to link Saddam
Hussein to the attacks, we know from on site-witnesses. They are anxious to
proceed with their planned invasion. And less than a week later, at a meeting
of the National Security Council, President Bush ordered the Defense Department
to be ready to handle Iraq, "possibly occupying Iraqi oil fields."

The controversies rage on yet today about the events of September 11, 2001. No
steel building has ever collapsed from fire alone. Buildings=

falling precisely into their footprints are the marks of deliberate (and
expert) demolition. The faulty construction/foreshortened lifespan/insurance
angle. The collapse of a third building that was not hit at all. The
short-selling of airline stock in previous days. 

The Pentagon hit by a missile, not a civilian airliner. Michael Rupert's book
"Crossing the Rubicon" lays the blame for 9/11 directly at Dick Cheney's
feet. Senator Robert Dole's former chief of staff,=

Mr. Stanley Hilton, claims he can prove George Bush signed an order authorizing
the attacks. Half the people polled in New York city believed the Bush
Administration had prior knowledge of the attack, and=
"consciously failed" to act. Et cetera.

(Conspiracy is forever easier to see than to find, but that does not obviate
the need to seek thoroughly the whole truth about 9/11, and that has yet to be

Involving the Bush Administration in the execution of 9/11, or even
accommodating their informed inaction, is almost too appalling to contemplate.
But if they needed a reason to proceed with their planned invasions, they
could not have been handed a more fortuitous and spectacular excuse.

9/11 was a criminal act of terrorism, not a violation of our entire nation's
security. Comparing it, as the Bush Administration immediately did, to Pearl
Harbor was ludicrous: the hijacked airliners were not the vanguard of a
formidable naval armada, an air force, and a standing army ready to engage in
all out war, as the Japanese were prepared to do and did in 1941. 9/11 was a
shocking event of unprecedented scale, but to characterize it as an invasion of
national security was criminal. It was creating reality. It was also, and in
the extreme, surreal, because the Bush Administration chose consciously to
frighten the American people beyond any conceivable necessity. It adopted fear
mongering as a mode of governance.

As not a few disinterested observers noted at the time, international criminal
terrorism is best countered by international police action, which Israel and
other nations have proven many times over to be effective.

Then why was a "war" declared on "terrorists and states that harbor

The pre-planned attack on Afghanistan, as we have seen, was meant to nullify
the contract between the Taliban and the Bridas Corporation, to assure access
to the Caspian Basin riches for American oil companies. 

It was a pure play of international energy policy. It had nothing to do, as
designed, with apprehending Osama bin Laden--a pure play of security policy.

But the two "seemingly unrelated areas of policy" had been "melded," so here
was an epic opportunity to bait-and-switch--and the opportunity was not missed
for a moment. Conjoining the terrorist and the state that harbored him made a
"war" plausible: it would be necessary to overthrow the Taliban as well as to
"bring Osama bin Laden to justice. (As it turned out, of course, the Taliban
"was overthrown instead of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, but the energy
"policy goal was achieved, at least. And years later President Bush was
"astonishing in his candor, when he admitted
"Osama bin Laden isn't important.")

The first monstrous and intentional deception--the declaration of a 
"war on terror"--took place. There was no talk of contracts,
pipelines, or Argentinian oil companies. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban
were cleverly, ingeniously conflated, and there was only talk of war.

On October 7, 2001 the carpet of bombs is unleashed over Afghanistan. Hamid
Karzai, the former Unocal consultant, is installed as head of an interim
government. Subsequently he is elected President of Afghanistan, and welcomes
the first U.S. envoy--Mr. John J. Maresca, Vice President for International
Relations of the Unocal Corporation, who had implored Congress three years
previously to have the Taliban overthrown. Mr. Maresca was succeeded by Mr.
Zalmay Khalilzad--also a former Unocal consultant. (Mr. Khalilzad has since
become Ambassador to Iraq.)

With the Taliban banished and the Bridas contract moot, Presidents Karzai of
Afghanistan and Musharraf of Pakistan meet on February 8, 2002, sign an
agreement for a new pipeline, and the way forward is open for Unocal once

The Bridas contract was breached by US military force, but behind the combat
was Unocal. Bridas sued Unocal in the US courts for contract interference, and
in 2004 it won, overcoming Richard Ben Veniste's law firm. That firm had
multibillion dollar interests in the Caspian Basin, and shared an office in
Uzbekistan with the Enron Corporation. 

In 2004, Mr. Ben Veniste was serving as a 9/11 Commissioner.

About a year after the Karzai/Musharraf agreement was signed, an article
appeared in "Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections," an obscure trade
publication. It described the readiness of three US federal agencies to
finance the prospective pipeline, and how "=85the United States was willing to
police the pipeline infrastructure through permanent stationing of it troops in
the region." The article appeared on February 23, 2003.

The objective of the first premeditated war was now achieved. The Bush=
Administration stood ready with financing to build the pipeline across=
Afghanistan, and with a permanent military presence to protect it.

Within two months President Bush sent the military might of America sweeping
into Iraq.

The second round of deliberate deception was more egregious by far. Alleging
a relationship between bin Laden's al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan
had at least some basis in fact. Alleging a link between al Qaeda and Saddam
Hussein simply did not. And the weapons-of-mass-destruction argument was
equally fraudulent, we know now. But the bait-and-switch "war on terrorism"
would continue. 

"Cakewalk." The staging of the Jessica Lynch rescue. The toppling 
of the statue in Baghdad. Mission accomplished. The orchestrated capture of
Saddam Hussein. And the barrage of managed perception continues to this day.

The smokescreen includes the coverup of the 9/11 attacks on the Trade Towers
and the Pentagon. Initially and fiercely resisting any inquiry at all,
President Bush finally appoints a 10-person "9/11 Commission." Its report
places the blame on "faulty intelligence." President Bush and Vice President
Cheney are accorded breathtaking courtesies in the inquiry: they are not
required to testify under oath, and they need not even testify separately. At
the insistence of the White House, they are
"interviewed" together in the Oval Office, with no transcription

The apparent manipulation of pre-war intelligence is not addressed by the 9/11
Commission, the veracity President Bush's many statements is assumed without
question, and the troubling incongruities of 9/11 are ignored.

Many of the 10 commissioners, however, were burdened with stunning conflicts of
interest--Mr. Ben Veniste, for example-- mostly by their connections to the
oil and defense industries, both of which were benefited beyond measure (and
doubt) by the Mid East conflicts.

Then the Abu Ghraib horrors came to the surface. Then the spectacular=
cronyism of the no-bid contracts, with Mr. Cheney and his former company,
Halliburton, becoming the icons of corruption. Then the domestic spying issue.
Torrents of expos=E9s were published, while Iraq descended into the hellish
quagmire of insurgency and civil war--with=

Afghanistan belatedly following suit.

On November 7, 2006 the American people said, "Enough!" By any measure--by
public acclaim--the last six years have been a national tragedy and a national

In spite of the Democrats' united message rejecting it, many citizens=

are calling actively for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President
Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and perhaps others. (Secretary
Rumsfeld has left the Administration, but faces prosecution under German law.)

The story told here has to be considered "circumstantial." None of it
results from testimony under oath, none of it has been admitted as legal
evidence in a jurisprudential undertaking, and the presumption of innocence
until guilt is proven remains axiomatic. And we might well reiterate the
humane and civil plea, heard frequently after 9/11: what we need is justice,
not vengeance.

We should not proceed directly to impeachment. At the very least, however, the
story of George Bush's premeditated wars raises questions of presidential
dereliction as grave as any in our history.

We need to know the truth and all the truth. The time has come, as well as the
opportunity, for formal, Congressional investigations, based on subpoenas,
sworn testimony, and direct evidence about 9/11 and about the created reality
of the "war on terror."

The new Congress has no greater Constitutional duty than to find this truth and
display it, if our nightmarish politics is to end. If such inquiries clearly
exonerate the Bush Administration, the nation can breathe deeply and go on. If
they do not, then but only then should impeachment be undertaken.

To fail in this responsibility is to condone the surreal political discourse
the Bush Administration has imposed. That could render it the permanent
condition of American governance.

Richard W. Behan's last book was Plundered Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and
the Fate of the Federal Lands (Island Press, 2001). He is currently working on
a more broadly rendered critique, To Provide Against Invasions: Corporate
Dominion and America's Derelict Democracy.

 He can be reached by email at rwbehan {AT} rockisland.com

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net