Wolfowitz's America [al-Ahram]

M. Junaid Alam redjaguar at attbi.com
Fri Feb 28 19:14:42 MST 2003

I have been reading a lot of the neoconservative press [national review,
benador, Jerusalem post], who are in a state of enthusiastic arrogant
triumphalism about Bush's latest speech and what it represents. If
anyone can even speak of a Palestinian state with a straight face these
days, he is lying or uninformed. But it seems this will not be without

Wolfowitz's America 
As the sabre-rattling directed at Iraq reaches fever pitch, Mohamed
Hakki wonders what the US administration's plans are for Iraq's
beleaguered people 

 It now seems almost certain that US forces will invade Iraq, despite
the fact that the justification remains unclear. All talk to the effect
that "the president has not made up his mind" is just that, talk. The
decision was already made for him long ago. Much has already been
written about the group of advisers formed by Undersecretary of Defence
Paul Wolfowitz and their plan, the "Project for the New American
Century", which aims at no less than establishing a new world order of
uncontested American hegemony. The US, according to this group, must be
sure of "deterring any potential competitors from even aspiring to a
larger regional or global role". Thus we have current discussions about
the preemptive use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, "even
in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests". 

The London Observer tells us that a paper circulated among Wolfowitz's
group said that what was needed for the US to move towards assuming this
position was "some catastrophic and catalysing event, like a new Pearl
Harbor". The document also noted that while the unresolved conflict with
Iraq provides an immediate justification for intervention in the region,
the need for a substantial American military presence in the Gulf goes
beyond the matter of regime change in Baghdad. 

Now, in the final hours before the most horrible of human calamities is
unleashed -- not against Saddam Hussein, but against the Iraqi people --
Bush's administration is telling us that it is contemplating what to do
aprés Saddam. One would have thought someone in the administration would
have meticulously thought through questions about what comes next in
Iraq before unleashing the most destructive force in history. Senator
Robert Byrd of West Virginia lamented the other day that "as this nation
stands at the brink of battle, every American must be contemplating the
horrors of war. Yet, the Senate is for the most part silent --
ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no
attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of the war. There is
nothing. We stand passively mute, paralysed by our own certainty,
seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events." 

Finally, at this late stage, during a hearing of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, two of the administration's "heavy weights", as
they were described by the press, attempted to explain just what the
plans are for the Iraqi people. After the destruction of the country's
electric power plants, water infrastructure, bridges and factories, and
the killing of 500,000 (according to Senator Barbara Boxer's estimate),
we will then rebuild Iraq, and liberate it's people. 

The testimony by Mark Grossman, undersecretary of state for political
affairs, and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defence for policy, lasted
for four hours and filled 86 pages. Extensive selections of the
testimony should be printed on the front pages of every Arab newspaper,
because the testimony shows that key administration figures' are totally
clueless about the Arab world. There were so many instances where each
said "it is hard to answer a lot of these 'what ifs' because a lot
depends on, you know, future events that we don't know". Another
response was, "We would like to make a distinction between plans and
predictions... and we must stress uncertainty because we are not in the
predicting business". 

Towards eliciting some concrete answers, Senator Paul Sarbanes of
Maryland brought up estimates by William Nordhaus, a Yale economist,
about the cost of war. Nordhaus estimates that the occupation of Iraq
will cost between $17 billion and $45 billion per year -- but even those
figures seem on the low side, as the post-combat environment in Iraq is
likely to be hostile, it's dangers resembling those of the West Bank
more than those on the Balkans. When Sarbanes asked administration
representatives what their figure was, the answer came, "The single most
unsatisfactory thing that we are going to be able to do is not to give
you a figure. It is unknowable." 

What the administration fails to understand is that it cannot hide or
ignore the huge elephant in the middle of the room, namely Israel.
Retired US General Anthony Zinni said, "my worst nightmare would be an
Al-Jazeera TV picture of American troops in combat fighting Iraqis at
the same time the Israeli Defence Forces is in the West Bank and Gaza
killing Arabs. Furthermore, how can the Bush administration convince
either Congress or the Arabs that the US cares about 'the territorial
integrity of Iraqi' when those same members of the administration were
signatories to a document in 1996 advising Benyamin Netanyahu of the
desirability of dismantling Iraq and any other Arab country that stands
in Israel's way? What these same people were telling Netanyahu then and
President Bush now is: you are stronger than all your neighbours, act
upon it. Forget the peace process; it does not serve you. Forget
international law; lead, and everybody will follow; the rest can go to

Zbigniew Brzezinski correctly pointed out the hypocrisy of this logic.
He said, "the European press has commented more widely than the US press
on the striking similarity between current US policy in the Middle East
and the recommendations prepared in 1996 by this same group -- admirers
of Israel's Likud Party for the then Prime Minister Netanyahu." 

Unfortunately, the American people do not see the reports on how the
entire war issue is seen in the Arab world. As an example of the media's
self-censorship of most issues touching on Israel, when The New York
Times published excerpts of Osama Bin Laden's message that was broadcast
by Al-Jazeera TV channel, it omitted any reference to Israel or Tel Aviv
-- despite the fact that Bin Laden named those places close to 10 times
in his broadcast. It is no wonder, then, that there are several
patriotic Americans who are warning against the invasion of Iraq because
they believe that it is being done in the interests of Israel. They are
calling it Sharon's war. 

The war party in the administration consists of the same people who
helped create Bin Laden. Now, he is a threat, a terrorist, a defiance
that America is unable to capture despite the $25 million price on his
head. To most Arabs, Bin Laden is nothing. He is neither an Imam, or
even a religious scholar like Hassan Al-Turabi of Sudan, who is a
graduate of Oxford and the Sorbonne. Bin Laden is only a mediocre man
that the US has turned into a larger than life hero. Muslims reject the
nihilistic streak in his actions and his message, the twisted US policy
towards Palestine that the war party has been advocating is creating
more Bin Ladens. If anything, the US owes the Palestinians an apology
for all the pain they have caused them in the last 50 some years. 

If Bush follows through with his promises to both Saudi and Egyptian
leaders to solve the Palestinian problem with the creation of two viable
states living side-by-side in peace, all future or potential Bin Ladens
will fade away. However, the warmongers are pushing Bush to attack Iraq.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Bin Laden, they are driven only by
hate. Their passionate attachment not only to a foreign country, but to
its most extreme and nihilistic wing is driving them to espouse hatred
of all Arabs and all Muslims. 

The administration has seen what a miserable failure it's message has
been towards the Arabs, but it still doesn't get it. It still listens to
those who are pontificating about "what went wrong". 

When I first came to America as a young attaché in the Egyptian Embassy
in 1957, America was the "shining city on the hill". Its press was the
most informed and most informative in the world. Recently the US hit the
office of Al-Jazeera in Afghanistan to keep the truth from the American
people. The free media exercises self-censorship on all matters
pertaining to the Middle East. One can always find better reporting in
Israeli newspapers. Presidential speeches are replete with rhetorical
flourishes, but sound like speeches by Third World leaders, banal and
devoid of any true meaning. The attorney general sounds more like a
mullah than a statesman. 

Things are starting to seem more and more like the world I left behind.
The thousands of faces that we used to see lining up in front of US
embassies in our countries to obtain a visa to freedom and opportunity,
are now lining up in front of the Immigration and Naturalisation Offices
across the US in fear of losing those same visas. When a young American
student demonstrating against the war in front of the White House was
asked by Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) TV, "what would you
like to say to Bush?" he said, "I would like to tell him to take off his
crown. Nobody voted you to become King." But, my advice to Bush is more
modest: President, fear God.

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