[Marxism] Spiegel online interview with Gabriel Kolko: "Many in the US Military think Bush and Cheney are out of control"

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Wed Oct 17 08:00:45 MDT 2007

SPIEGEL ONLINE - October 15, 2007, 12:22 PM
URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,511492,00.html
'Many in the US Military Think Bush and Cheney Are Out of Control'

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Amsterdam-based military  
historian Gabriel Kolko talks about the prospect of war with Iran and  
argues that many in the US military now view the White House as being  
'out of control.'

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Kolko, editorials in US papers like the Wall  
Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review are  
pushing for military action against Iran. How does the leadership in  
the US military view such a conflict?

Gabriel Kolko: The American military is stretched to the limit. They  
are losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything is being  
sacrificed for these wars: money, equipment in Asia, American  
military power globally, etc. Where and how can they fight yet  
another? The Pentagon is short of money for procurement, and that is  
what so many people in the military bureaucracy live for. The  
situation will be far worse in the event of a war with Iran.

Many in the American military have learned the fundamental dilemma of  
modern warfare: More money and better weapons don't mean that you  
win. IEDs, which cost so little to make, are defeating a military  
which spends billions of dollars per month. IEDS are so adaptable  
that each new strategy developed by the United States to counter them  
is answered by the Iraqi insurgents. The Israelis were also never  
quite able to counter IEDs. One report quotes an Israeli military  
engineer who said the
Find out how you can reprint this SPIEGEL ONLINE article in your  
Israeli answer to IEDs was frequently the use of armored bulldozers  
to effectively rip away the top 18 inches of pavement and earth where  
explosive devices might be hidden. This is fantastic, as the cost of  
winning means destroying roads, which form the basis of a modern  

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are people in the Pentagon getting nervous about how  
influential voices in the White House continue to push for conflict  
with Iran?

Kolko: Many in the US military think Bush and Cheney are out of  
control. They are rebelling against Bush and Cheney. Washington Post  
reporter Dana Priest recently said in an interview that she believed  
the US military would revolt and refuse to fly missions against Iran  
if the White House issued such orders.

Gabriel Kolko
Gabriel Kolko, a prominent military historian, is the author of "The  
Age of War: The United States Confronts the World," and "The Anatomy  
of War."
CENTCOM [US Central Command, the military grouping whose  
responsibilities include the Middle East] commander Admiral William  
Fallon reportedly thwarted Cheney's wish to sent a third additional  
aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. One paper wrote that he "vowed  
privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief  

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, in charge of US forces in Japan, told the  
Associated Press last week that the Iraq war had weakened American  
forces in the face of any potential conflict with China. He was  
quoted as saying, "Are we in trouble? It depends on the scenario. But  
you have to be concerned about the small number of our forces and the  
age of our forces."

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think that conflict with Iran is likely?

Kolko: All the significant economic journals (Financial Times, Wall  
Street Journal, etc.) recognize that the American and European  
economies are now in a crisis, and it may be protracted. The dollar  
is falling; Gulf States and others may abandon it (as an investment  
currency). A war with Iran would produce economic chaos because oil  
would be scarce. There are states which the United States wishes to  
isolate, like Russia and Venezuela, who can develop great influence  
through their ability to sell oil in such a crisis. The balance of  
world economic power is involved, and that is a great issue.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But aren't the Gulf States interested in seeing Iran  
weakened through a conflict with the United States?

Kolko: The Gulf States do not like Shia Iran, but they export oil,  
which makes them rich. They are dependent on peace, not war.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How would Iran react to a provocation by the United  
States, say, on the border? Could the Iranian military in any way be  
a match for the United States?

Kolko: Iran fought Iraq for about a decade and lost hundreds of  
thousands of men. Perhaps they will roll over, but it is not likely.  
There are a number of tiny islands in the gulf they have had years to  
fortify. Can 90 percent of their weapons be knocked out? Even if this  
United States could achieve this, the remainder would be sufficient  
to sink many boats and tankers. The amount of oil exported through  
the gulf would thereby be reduced, perhaps cease altogether. This  
would only strengthen American rivals like Russia and Venezuela.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But what about the bunker-buster bombs? Wouldn't that  
be a technology which Iran could not match?

Kolko: Bunker busters are only able to knock out so many bunkers, but  
alas, not all. If bunker-buster bombs are nuclear they are very  
useful, but they are also radioactive. In addition to killing  
Iranians, they may also kill friends and nearby US soldiers.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about the so-called 'Cheney plan' to let Israel  
attack Iran? What role would Israel play in a conflict with Iran?  
Isn't Israel also interested in seeing that the United States weakens  
its greatest threat in the region?

Kolko: Israel may be a factor. They must cross Syrian and Jordanian  
airspace, and the Iranians will be prepared if they are not shot down  
over Syria. Their countermeasures may be effective, but perhaps  
not ... War with Iran will lead to a rain of rockets and Israel would  
be left with an inability to deal with local priorities. Iran is  
likely to get nuclear bombs sooner or later. So will other nations.  
Israel has hundreds already. Israeli strategists believe deterrence  
will then exist. Why risk war?
Israel dislikes Iran and the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons, but  
they believe they can handle it with a deterrent relationship. Israel  
needs its army, which is not large enough for potential nearby  
problems -- for Palestinians and its Arab neighbors, who it  
rightfully fears and hates. That means Israel can be belligerent, but  
it is not capable of playing the US role, except of course with  
nuclear weapons.

So I regard the Israelis as opponents of a war with Iran which would  
involve them. They certainly noticed how during the war with Lebanon  
the Palestinians in Gaza used the opportunity to increase pressure on  
Israel from the south. Israelis opposed the Iraq war because it would  
lead to Iranian domination of the region, which it has.

Hence, the report that Cheney is trying to use Israel, if it is true,  
shows that he's confused and quite mad -- but also unusually isolated.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But what about the Democratic Party? Isn't it in the  
interest of the Democratic Party to do everything they can to end the  

Kolko: All three leading Democratic Party presidential hopefuls --  
Clinton, Obama and Edwards -- refused at a debate recently in New  
Hampshire to promise to pull the US military out of Iraq by the  
beginning of 2013. The American public is a small factor, as  
elections have repeatedly shown, but may play some role also. As the  
last election proved, anyone who thinks Democrats will stop wars is  
fooling him- or herself. But war with Iran would require new  
authorizations. Then the Congress would, potentially, be very important.

Interview conducted by John Goetz

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