U.S. Presidents and Their Wars
With the candidacy of Jeb Bush for president, a new discussion of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 has surfaced in U.S. media, a discussion that was conspicuously missing prior and during the invasion when all you could see and read in corporate media was enthusiastic support for the war. The belated discussion began when Jeb was asked if, “knowing what we know now”, he would have invaded Iraq, which he skillfully avoided the question that was asked and answered a question that wasn’t asked. He said “I would have, given the intelligence we all got at the time”, which obviously wasn’t what was asked. The reason this has become a difficult issue for candidates like Jeb Bush and Hillary is that most people have turned against that devastating and criminal war that destroyed the country. But the point I want to make isn’t how Jeb Bush or other politicians lie to the public. That’s rather obvious and all candidates of both parties do it. My hope in this piece is rather to put the issue of Iraq war in a more real and honest context than is being portrayed now in the media.
When Bush ordered the invasion, the pretext was to find and destroy Iraq’s nuclear weapons that Saddam Hussein was supposedly hiding. The reason that became an issue and the pretext for the invasion, which the “intelligence community” could have easily ruled out if it were independent of the political establishment, is that for years, US was adamantly pushing for inspections of Iraq’s military sites, not to make sure Iraq didn’t have a nuclear program – they already knew that it didn’t – but to learn of the location and amount of all their conventional weapons caches and sites in preparation for war. Pushing for the inspections thus had two purposes for the U.S.: to gain intelligence useful for the long planned invasion that was to come and to show to the world and especially their population that the purpose of the invasion was to eliminate Iraq’s nuclear weapons. When no “weapons of mass destruction” was found, “false intelligence” became the culprit and provided the out.
Should “false intelligence” also fail, such “mistakes” can always be blamed on the president’s misjudgment (or Vice President’s), who happened to occupy the White House at the time. And that’s exactly what liberals and even some conservatives have been doing: blaming Bush and especially Cheney for the invasion. But the fact is: Presidents come and go. What stays is the military industrial complex with its multigenerational plans that get implemented by the political leadership with incredible continuity from one president to the next. The continuity has been especially unmistakable since WWII and even more consistent since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The ruling class has various ways to ensure that continuity, from ensuring that only those who are on board with their overall and long term views and objectives get elected to providing to the administration the military, intelligence and “national security” advisors and think tanks and unleashing their army of high power lobbyists who brief and advise the president on a regular basis. They also have the Congress and the courts to make sure the Administration doesn’t deviate from their worldview and long term objectives. So, the idea that the president decided to invade Iraq by “mistake” and should therefore bear all the responsibility for it is naive and intended to mislead the public and move the focus away from the collective of corporations that really control the policies and politics.
The narrative that the Administration and especially Dick Cheney wanted the war and did everything to get it, including creating the false pretext and lying to the public and media is actually partly true: the Administration did tell lies to sell the war, but it didn’t make the decision. That decision and plans for the invasion had been made long ago. Moreover, Bush and Cheney did as they were supposed to and as would any other Administration at the time and in their shoes. It’s just that the timing coincided with the Bush presidency and the job of selling it fell on the shoulders of Bush and Cheney. This is not to say that Bush and Cheney weren’t personally for the war – most U.S. politicians, from both parties are and Cheney himself wouldn’t have missed it for the world – but such a decision with significant consequences for imperialism and the corporations it serves isn’t left to a president and his cabinet to make. Such decisions are often made before the president who ends up issuing the order becomes a candidate for president and sometimes before he’s even old enough to run for president.
This brings us to the war against Libya and the overthrow of Qaddafi. It mattered little that it was Obama and not Bush who was in office at the time. The opportunity came up for the regime change and the political/military leadership decided it was in line with the overall and long term plans and interests of the Empire to attack and the president issued the order to go ahead. They contemplated the same about Syria, but decided to hold off for now and let others – ISIS and other terror groups supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Britain and the U.S., among others – do it, which ended up devastating the country, as it happened in Iraq and Libya, making all three nations ungovernable. Obama benefitted politically from his earlier position of not being for the war in Iraq when running for president, but when in office, continued both wars started by Bush and signed off on new ones of his own. And that was someone who unlike Bush and Cheney was originally against the Iraq war.
Still, many of the more skeptical liberals who don’t buy the argument that Bush and company had the best of intentions and wanted to take democracy to the people of Iraq and who are convinced instead that the invasion was for more sinister reasons such as for controlling Iraq’s oil, for removing an uncooperative dictator from a vital region, or for strengthening Israel by removing one of its nemeses, believe it was a mistake since, in their view, the invasion ended up harming US interests in the region, by strengthening Iran, for example. That also is false. Such big interventions as the Iraq war hardly ever end up exactly as they were envisioned or anticipated by the undertakers. There are almost always unforeseen consequences to such interventions some of which may be negative for them. But, overall, the Iraq war didn’t end up hurting US (or rather imperialism’s) interests. The U.S. built the largest embassy in Bagdad for a reason. They stationed military personnel, including military advisors and trainers and private contractors in the country and despite removing most of the troops, they can go back in anytime. They took away control of their oil and gave it to their corporations and ensured its cheap and uninhibited flow which is vital to their economy and military. They created a base in Kurdistan of Iraq, separating it from the central government and directed it to sell oil to Israel. They sold tens of billions of dollars of weapons to the installed Iraqi government. They removed a regime that unlike Saudi Arabia and Kuwait wasn’t controlled by the U.S. in its oil production, which gave it the ability and potential to join other OPEC members and cause volatility in oil prices and the U.S. dollar. And they devastated and weakened an Arab country, making it unable to enter any alliance against Israel or to challenge US interests in the region. Despite the existence of ISIS and Al Qaeda forces and despite Iran’s increased political influence in Iraq, the U.S. isn’t weaker in the region, but is stronger. They now control Iraq, its military and its oil to much larger degree than they ever did or could before, and their presence and readiness to send in the troops again anytime is testament to that.
The U.S. plan for Iran is also similar. They know Iran can’t afford to ever use nuclear weapons and won’t be a threat to anyone, especially to Israel, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons. US intelligence has also concluded that Iran has not decided to develop the nukes and is already being watched 24/7 and monitored by intrusive inspections. Nukes are just an excuse for sanctions which give them intelligence about the country’s military sites and the final pretext to attack. The purpose again is to weaken the country, as they’ve already done to a few other Middle Eastern and Asian nations.
The point is: such attacks and interventions are long term and it won’t matter if the president is Hillary or Jeb Bush or anyone else. Imperialism as the collective rule of multinational corporations follows its long term plan for world domination and the president gets hired to sell and execute those plans, including wars. Such unchallenged domination could not be achieved without an unchallengeable military might which explains the incredible amount of money and resources used to maintain that might. What the ruling class also learned from the civil rights movement of the 1960’s is the need for them to be ready for the domestic front as well by beefing up their domestic surveillance, spying and crowd control capabilities by an ever increasingly militarized police, in order to counter any future unrest that might try to stand in its way and derail their plan for complete and total world domination.
With enough military might, wars like the one against Iraq becomes fewer and direct attack on civilian populations of other countries become the norm as no government with its military will ever be able to stand against the Empire and its European allies and controlling the people everywhere will be the thing to do. That’s why more and more, the focus of the technology and tactics is to go after civilian targets by the use of drones and is why the military exercises are now mostly to train for urban and house to house combat, as well as targeting individuals rather than entire armies (although they still plan to confront Russia and China sometime down the line but that’s another discussion).
They have also set up secret prisons in several countries where they can interrogate captured citizens of other countries. In other words, the Empire is moving to become the world’s dictatorship to rule over all people. This isn’t driven by some inexplicable and mysterious evil and sociopathic tendency, but by the unbridled urge and obsession to seek profits and accumulate wealth by all means necessary.