From: Jim Anderson
Date: Sat Jan 17, 2004 1:12 pm
Subject: [1summer_of_love] O'NEILL SPILLS THE BEANS: IRAQ WAR
PLANS BEGAN DAY BUSH TOOK OFFICE
O'NEILL SPILLS THE BEANS:
IRAQ WAR PLANS BEGAN DAY BUSH TOOK OFFICE
By Fred Goldstein
As the old saying goes, when
thieves fall out, truth comes into its own. This popular adage
is being dramatized on an international stage as controversy
mounts over former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill's revelation
that the Bush administration planned to conquer Iraq from the
moment it took office.
The revelations are contained
in the book "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White
House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill" by Ron Suskind,
which hit the bookstores on Jan. 13. In preparation for the book,
O'Neill turned over 19,000 documents and 7,300 diary entries
to Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former international
editor of the Wall Street Journal. Suskind interviewed hundreds
of people, including present government officials, beginning
in February 2003. It was the best-selling book on amazon.com
well before being published.
O'Neill was a standing member
of the National Security Council, a long-time friend of Vice
President Dick Cheney and a protégé of Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the Ford administration. He
met one-on-one with Bush weekly during his two years as secretary
of the treasury before he was fired for objecting to Bush's tax
cuts. Rumsfeld called O'Neill beforehand and warned him not to
publish the book.
The controversy flared even
higher when CBS, on the program "60 Minutes," aired
interviews with O'Neill and Suskind by Leslie Stahl. Excerpts
from the transcript speak for themselves.
"From the very beginning,
there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and
that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who added that going
after Sad dam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration
eight months before Sept. 11.
"From the very first
instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change
this regime," says Suskind. "Day one, these things
were laid and sealed."
"It was all about finding
a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying
'Go find me a way to do this,'" says O'Neill. And it came
up at the first meeting.
PLANS TO OCCUPY IRAQ AND SEIZE
In the book itself, Suskind
recounts those early NSC meetings. On Jan. 30, 2001, at the first
NSC meeting of the Bush administration, which lasted less than
an hour, the first topic was about how the administration was
going to side with Israel and openly let Ariel Sharon have full
freedom to attack the Palestinians without any restraint from
Then Bush turned to Condoleezza
Rice, his national security adviser, and says, "So, Condi,
what are we going to talk about today?"
"How Iraq is destabilizing
the region, Mr. President,' she replied in what was described
as a "scripted exchange." Then CIA head George Tenet
pulled out his infamous photos of an alleged chemical weapons
plant and they all huddled excitedly around the photos as though
they had found the smoking gun. These were the same meaningless
photos of a factory with unidentified trucks standing by that
Colin Powell tried unsuccessfully to sell to the UN Security
Council in the final stages of war preparation.
Two days later, on Feb. 1,
the second meeting took place. Secretary of State Colin Powell
had been assigned the task of tightening up the sanctions regime
at the first meeting. Says the book:
"Powell began by discussing
the new strategy for 'targeted sanctions.' But after a moment
"'Sanctions are fine,'
he said. 'But what we really want to think about is going after
"'Imagine what the region
would look like without Saddam and with a regime that's aligned
with U.S. interests,' Rums feld said. 'It would demonstrate what
U.S. policy is all about.'"(p.85)
At another point in the book,
Suskind recounts that "One document, headed 'Foreign Suitors
for Iraqi Oilfield Con tracts,' lists companies from 30 countries
-- including France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom
-- their specialties, and in some cases their particular areas
of interest. An attached document maps Iraq with markings for
'supergiant oilfield,' 'other oilfield,' and 'earmarked for production
sharing,' while demarking the largely undeveloped southwest of
the country into nine 'blocks' to designate areas for future
Suskind recounts that at the
start of 2001, "Actual plans, to O'Neill's astonishment,
were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it--complete
with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war
crimes tribunals--carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive
war." (p. 129)
At the present time O'Neill
appears to be backing away from his charges and trying to give
the impression that he was only referring to a continuation of
the Clinton policy of regime change, which was officially sanctioned
in the Iraq Liberation Act of Oct. 31, 1998. But it is too late
to put the genie back in the bottle.
ABC News of Jan. 13 ran an
exclusive story that a government official had confirmed O'Neill's
account. According to the transcript, "The official, who
asked not to be identified, was present in the same National
Security Council meetings as O'Neill immediately after Bush's
inauguration in January and February of 2001.
"'The president told
his Pentagon officials to explore the military options, including
use of ground forces,' the official told ABC News. 'That went
beyond the Clinton administration's halfhearted attempts to overthrow
Hussein without force.'"
What the ultimate meaning
and political fallout will be as a result of these revelations
remains to be seen. The revelations create contradictions for
all factions and parties in the ruling class establishment. They
have to decide whether to foment a scandal or to gradually bury
it. They could go either way, depending upon the outcome in Iraq.
Those who are angry and disillusioned
with the Bush administration for all the false assumptions having
to do with the ease of conquering Iraq are in a difficult position.
On the one hand, the O'Neill revelations give them extraordinary
ammunition to condemn Bush. On the other, even those in the ruling
class who oppose Bush desperately want the Pentagon to succeed
with the brutal colonial occupation, crush the Iraqi resistance,
stabilize Iraq and grab the oil wealth.
Thus, they are all holding
their breath in the hope that, with the capture of Saddam Hussein,
they have turned the corner. But all signs show that the vital
and determined resistance to the occupation is continuing strongly.
O'NEILL TOOK COVER OFF WAR
Bush gave the ruling class
a cover for the war in Iraq -- eliminating the nuclear threat
(which did not exist); eliminating the threat of biological and
chemical weapons (which have not been found); and breaking the
ties between Baghdad and Al Qaeda (there were none). All these
pretexts were seized upon by the capitalist parties, the capitalist
media and the entire corporate world to railroad the country
to war -- with the resulting death and devastation for untold
numbers of Iraqis and the thousands of U.S. casualties.
When the occupation began
facing resistance, the networks that had sent embedded reporters
to grind out Pentagon propaganda, as well as the editorial page
writers who urged the war, began to turn on the Bush administration.
They accused it of "misleading" them and stoked an
exposé of some of the lies about uranium from Niger and
other myths about weapons of mass destruction.
But now O'Neill has totally
taken the cover off the entire war. And who is he? He's the former
head of Alcoa, the exploiter of 140,000 workers in 36 countries,
and former union-busting president of International Paper Co.
He did not act out of any progressive motives. Yet he has laid
out the truly imperialist character of the war in black and white.
The lies told after Sept.
11 were not a heated reaction to an attack or made under the
influence of the drumbeat of war. They were not part of an overzealous,
impetuous, misguided effort.
This was a cold, calculated
conspiracy by the Bush administration from day one to conquer
Iraq, set up an occupation and a pro-U.S. regime, take control
over its oil and dominate the Middle East. They made no bones
about that in the National Security Council. This was a totally
criminal war for totally imperialist purposes.
BUSH & CO. BELONG ON TRIAL
But what is going on right
now? Who is under investigation? O'Neill! The Democrats will,
of course, try to use the revelations to get themselves elected.
But that is hardly the point. Instead of O'Neill being under
investigation, these revelations call for a trial of the entire
Bush administration. There should be congressional investigations
and the whole lot of these war criminals should be bound over
What the Bush administration
did, from the point of view of legality, should land the entire
administration in jail for conspiracy to provoke and carry out
a war against an oppressed people. They should be tried, not
only for the war crimes they committed in Iraq, but for the crime
of secretly plotting this war.
But when it comes to wars
where the interests of the imperialists are concerned, the question
of right and wrong is judged from a ruling class point of view.
If it strengthens their profit interests and their strategic
position in the struggle for world domination, then it's right.
If it ends up in a disaster for the bosses, then it's a mistake.
The consequences for the workers and the oppressed, who have
to fight and die in their wars, is of no concern to them whatsoever
when it comes to an evaluation.
Not one member of the establishment
will say the truth, although it is totally borne out by the O'Neill
revelations, that this was an illegal, unjust war and that justice
requires that the U.S. pull its forces out, make restitution
to the Iraqi people, and leave them alone to determine their
The working class and progressive
movement should learn the proper lessons from these revelations.
But that can only be done in the context of understanding imperialism.
These revelations should not be used to single out the Bush conspiracy
to go to war as some type of aberrant behavior by an extremist
administration. It should be seen in the light of imperialism
as a system.
IMPERIALIST WAR AND CONSPIRACY:
Every war they unleash is
carried out under a fraudulent pretext of one sort or another.
Every one is done in a cold and calculating way based on serving
the corporate and strategic interests of finance capital.
What is unusual about the
O'Neill revelations is that they are directed at an in-office
administration, fighting to stabilize a brutal colonial occupation.
The Pentagon Papers revealed
a similar cunning conspiracy by Lyndon Johnson and his administration,
including Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense
Robert McNamara, to escalate the Vietnam War. In 1965 they concocted
a non-existent "incident" in the Gulf of Tonkin. A
Vietnamese P-T boat was supposed to have attacked a mighty U.S.
warship in the waters off Vietnam. Of course, even if it had
happened, it was no reason to send 500,000 soldiers to Vietnam.
But the incident did not happen, as the Pentagon Papers showed.
After World War II President
Harry Truman carried out a repressive, provocative policy in
South Korea to deny the Korean people unification and the right
to self-determination. He carried out military provocations and
then launched a three-year war which was simply aimed at rolling
back socialism and the liberation of the country.
It took years to bring to
light the fact that the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt
planned a U.S. war in the Pacific with the dual purpose of conquering
new territory and at the same time lifting the country out of
the second phase of the Great Depression, which had resumed in
1938. Roosevelt cut off all oil to Japan, which had only a 30
days' oil supply, knowing and counting on the fact that this
would precipitate a conflict in Asia.
In April 1917 the U.S. entered
the conflict in Europe on the side of the imperialist Allies.
Woodrow Wilson used the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania
by German U-boats in May 1915, two years earlier as a pretext
to whip up war fever and carry out pre-existing war plans. Some
128 U.S. citizens had been aboard the ship. Wilson was protecting
and expanding U.S. capitalism's growing investments in Europe.
And, of course, there was
the infamous beginning of U.S. imperialism, the so-called Spanish-American
War of 1898, by which Washington colonized Cuba, Puerto Rico,
the Philippines and Guam under the guise of "liberating"
those people from their suffering under Spain's rule. The war
fever was whipped up by a national campaign in the Hearst press,
which sent the well-known artist Frederic Remington to Cuba to
produce heart-rending sketches of "gentlewomen" being
abused by leering Spanish soldiers.
Republican and Democratic
administrations alike have served the imperialist ruling class
for over 100 years, pursuing their interests abroad. The idea
of a venal conspiracy to go to war by the grouping around Bush
should surprise no one who understands imperialism and should
not be used as a justification to support the Democrats, who
have historically been a party of war.
This conspiracy should be
used to expose the ruling class as a whole, not just the Bush
administration, and to fuel the anti-war movement. The only lesson
that should be taken from the O'Neill revelations is that they
confirm that the only way to stop war is to put an end to imperialism.
And the only way to do that is through mass struggle.
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