Fwd: [1summer_of_love] O'NEILL


From: golden3000997
Date: Sat Jan 17, 2004 1:14 pm

From: Jim Anderson
Date: Sat Jan 17, 2004 1:12 pm
To: [email protected]


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.


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 Washington.

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 Rumsfeld interrupted.

"'Sanctions are fine,' he said. 'But what we really want to think about is going after Saddam.

"'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 exploration." (p.96)

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.


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.


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 for trial.

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 own destiny.

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.


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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