Is Instability The Goal Of U.S. Mideast Policy?

Donald Trump’s indictment of the Bush II administration for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks presents an opportunity for more of a bird’s eye view of American foreign policy in the Middle East, a policy that has killed many hundreds of thousands, maimed countless more, and laid waste to entire societies.

As Peter Beinart reminds us, when George W. Bush took office in January 2001, he and his closest national-security staff showed little interest in al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, despite alarms set off by the CIA and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke. Al-Qaeda of course had attacked U.S. government assets in the decade before Bush became president. (Also see this.)

“But both Clarke and [CIA boss George] Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded,” Beinart writes. “Clarke recounts that when he briefed [national security adviser Condoleezza] Rice about al-Qaeda, ‘her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.’”

Repeated attempts to get Bush’s attention were frustrated despite accelerating indications that “Bin Laden [was] Determined to Strike the US.” Even the prospect of aircraft hijackings was raised.
But Bush and his top national-security aides were interested in other things. What things? Ballistic-missile defense, which Bush had promised in his campaign, and Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. Let’s remember that the overthrow of Saddam, euphemistically dubbed “regime change,” was a U.S. goal at least since 1990. In 1991, Bush’s father, President George H. W. Bush, sent forces to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait, but he didn’t go in for the kill and send the military to Baghdad to topple Saddam’s government. Instead, Bush imposed a trade embargo on the Iraqi people, subjecting them to unspeakable hardship, a policy maintained by his successor, Bill Clinton. The deaths of half a million children — the result, among other things, of U.S. destruction of the sanitation and water infrastructure — constituted the price for regime change that Clinton’s UN ambassador, Madeleine Albright, infamously and coldly found “worth it.” (Clinton rewarded Albright by naming her secretary of state — something an enterprising reporter might want to ask Hillary Clinton about.) Bill Clinton also conducted regular bombing raids on Iraq in the name of maintaining no-fly zones. When will Clinton get his share of the responsibility for 9/11? (Another question for Hillary Clinton.)
So the Bush II administration had Iraq on its collective mind in the first eight months of its tenure not withstanding repeated warnings from its terrorism specialists that al-Qaeda was the likely immediate threat.
Beinart writes:

When that April [cabinet-level] meeting [demanded by Clarke] finally occurred, according to Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz objected that “I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” Clarke responded that, “We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al-Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” To which Wolfowitz replied, “Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example.”

As soon as the 9/11 attacks occurred, the Bush administration’s eyes were on Iraq, and the intelligence agencies were ordered to get the proof. Detainees were even tortured to force them to implicate Saddam Hussein, and false stories about contact between al-Qaeda and Saddam’s regime were floated.

Can we make any sense of this fixation on Iraq? I think we can.

It begins to make sense when we realize that American neoconservatives, who include Wolfowitz and a host of people in the Bush Pentagon and State Department, have for years acted as a brain trust for the right-wing of Israel’s ruling elite (Likud). In that capacity, they issued papers, under the auspices of the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, expressing favor toward policies to destabilize the secular regimes in Iraq and Syria, as well as the governments in Lebanon (home of Hezbollah) and, ultimately, Iran — the Shia Crescent. (Hence the general demonization of Iran and the touting of the nonexistent nuclear threat.) These proposed policies would embody a change in strategy for Israel, from seeking a “comprehensive peace” with its neighbors to managing a balance of power. Those signing on to these papers, which were issued in the mid-1990s just as Benjamin Netanyahu was about to become Israel’s prime minister, were aware that, at least in the short run, radical Sunnis would profit from the destabilization and fill the vacuums created in Iraq and Syria. (The papers are here and here. The author is David Wurmser, who later worked in the Bush II administration for both Vice President Dick Cheney and John Bolton in the State Department. The “study group leader” who oversaw the preparation of the papers was Richard Pearle, a leading neoconservative intellectual.)
As the first of these papers stated, “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” The paper envisioned, bizarrely, King Hussein of Jordan extending his rule over Iraq, a move that the neocon brain trust expected to unite Iraq’s Sunnis and Shi’ites and cut Iran out of the picture. Note how well that worked out.
The second paper, in speaking of Syria but with Iraq in mind, stated, “The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.” (Emphasis added.) Observe the hubris in assuming that chaos can be limited, that is, managed. (For more on these papers, see Dan Sanchez’s writings here and here.)
If this is not enough to make sense of an otherwise seemingly senseless U.S. policy in the Middle East, we may also mention an earlier paper, written in the early 1980s by Oded Yinon, a journalist who had been in Israel’s foreign ministry. This paper saw the Arab world as a “house of cards” ripe for “dissolution” by Israel and the United States:

Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unqiue [sic] areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today….

Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.

Inter-Arab confrontation promoted by the United States and Israel — let’s recall here Israel’s medical care for al-Qaeda fighters — would suit expansionist Israelis who have no wish to deal justly with the Palestinians and the Occupied Territories The more dangerous the Middle East appears, the more Israeli leaders can count on the United States not to push for a fair settlement with the Palestinians. The American people, moreover, are likely to be more lenient toward Israel’s brutality if chaos prevails in the neighboring states. Chaos would also undercut Hezbollah, which repelled Israel’s last invasion of Lebanon, and Hamas, which refuses to disappear despite savage Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The success of radical Islamists in the wake of the destabilization of Iraq, Libya (home of Benghazi, a source of arms thanks to the CIA), and Syria came as no surprise to people in the know. Indeed, a 2012 Defense Information Agency report, widely circulated through the upper echelons of the U.S. government, noted that U.S. policies to “isolate the Syrian regime” — such as funneling arms indiscriminately to rebels — were enabling the emergence of a “Salafist principality” (i.e. an Islamic state), a development (the report said) that would be viewed favorably by the West and its regional allies. Since that time, U.S. policy in Syria, and Yemen (i.e., the backing of Saudi Arabia’s brutal war and starvation blockade), have worked to the advantage of al-Qaeda affiliates. Not coincidentally, in both cases the targets are interests that get support (in widely varying degrees) from Iran. This helps us understand why the Obama administration condemns Russian President Vladimir Putin for directing airstrikes against Islamists seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

As a recent Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, put it, “The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” (Emphasis added.) Hence the suggestions, most notably from retired general and former CIA chief David Patraeus, that the U.S. government side with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria — its “moderate” elements of course — against the Islamic State. (Nusra also opposes the Assad government.)

This is not to say that the neoconservative-Likud alliance is the only force driving U.S. policy. It is well known that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states (which are no threat to Israel) wish to throttle Iran, perhaps fearful that a U.S.-Iran detente could be in the offing. Regime change in Syria would suit the Saudis’ anti-Iran, anti-Shi’ite agenda, which is another reason why arms, money, and fighters have flowed so freely to the Sunni rebels in Syria. (If bona fide moderates there be among the rebels, their chief role has been as arms conduits to the jihadis.) The U.S. government, it hardly needs saying, does not wish to alienate its Arab allies, as long as their interests do not conflict with Israel’s.

Thus, we need not puzzle over a lethal and self-defeating U.S. policy that appears more aimed at Iran and its allies rather than at the radical jihadi network that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. government should not be intervening in the Middle East at all, but working with Israel and corrupt Arab states in order to create an instability that serves Islamist interests is simply crazy.
Sheldon Richman keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Become a patron today!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

It’s Choosing Time For The GOP

Maybe Joe took my advice.

I told a friend of the VP’s recently that he should not run for president in 2016 but instead should leave the political stage as an elder statesman.

No matter why Biden really decided to let Hillary Clinton have the Democrats’ presidential nomination without a fight, it’s great news for the GOP.

At least it should be.

In an ordinary election season, the GOP should be thrilled to pieces at the chance to duke it out with Hillary and the U-Haul load of dirty old political baggage she and her husband are always dragging around with them.

But this is no ordinary season. It’s the upside-down season of Donald Trump.

What Trump has done to hurt the GOP’s chances so far is enough to make a conspiratorialist think Hillary and Bill paid him to run as a Republican.

But I forgot. Trump is so rich no one has enough loot to buy him off, not even Bill and Hillary.

What Trump is doing to the GOP continues to amaze me.

It’s bad enough he has infected what’s left of the party’s conservative brand with his Democrat-lite ideas.

But one-by-one he’s been biting his fellow Republicans like a liberal attack dog  — even ones he’s not running against.

As part of his nonstop bullying of Jeb Bush, Trump tried to make it seem Jeb’s big brother George W. was somehow responsible for the 9/11 attack on America.

It was a cheap shot that knocked Jeb off his message — a message no one is hearing anyway — and forced him to defend his brother.

Democrats have been unfairly blaming George W. for 9/11 — and everything else that’s gone wrong in the world — for eight years. So now Trump piles on?

GW could have done nothing to stop the attack, which occurred just nine months after he replaced Bill Clinton in the White House.

People like Trump forget that in 2001, the U.S. Senate wouldn’t allow GW to appoint a new CIA director or appoint other people he needed who could have given him better intelligence information.

On top of Trump’s stupid 9-11 statement, Dr. Ben Carson came out with an even dumber one.

The GOP’s Mister Rogers candidate said he would have brought Osama Bin Laden to justice in two weeks without going to war in Afghanistan.

He said he simply would have told the Saudis we were going to become oil independent.

That threat to their bottom line, he said, would have caused the Saudis to rush out and capture Osama and turn him over to us.

These are the two top-tier Republican people trying to become President of the U.S.?

Trump and Carson may say things in the primary that some want to hear.

But the most important question is, “Can they actually do what you want them to do if they win?”

To be a successful president, even a conservative one, in the real world, you have to work with members of Congress, not call them names. Trump will never be able to work with anyone in Congress — on either side.

The GOP desperately needs to save itself from being Trumped.

With Hillary and her heavy baggage as the competition, Republicans and conservatives have been handed a great chance to win in 2016.

But they also have a great chance to absolutely blow winning 2016 if they don’t stop Trump, who could cinch the nomination as early as next march on Super Tuesday.

Despite its dysfunction, the GOP still has time to derail the Trump Express. It has a deep bench of conservative politicians and leaders from around the country.

But if they’re going to beat Hillary and prevent the GOP from becoming the next Whig Party, Republicans have to unite behind someone like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or Chris Christie.

They have to choose wisely — and they better do it fast.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Ted Cruz Just Responded To George Bush’s Attack In A Way That No One Saw Coming

According to attendees at a recent fundraiser, George W. Bush is no fan of a fellow Texan currently competing against his brother in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

“I just don’t like the guy,” Bush reportedly said of Sen. Ted Cruz.

Despite working on Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, some speculate Cruz angered Bush by becoming too cozy with GOP front-runner – and frequent Jeb Bush critic – Donald Trump.

Cruz has also made an effort to distance himself from George W. Bush’s policies, offering some criticism of his administration during a recent interview.

“It’s not a good thing for a Republican president to grow the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion,” he said, citing such spending as the impetus for the tea party’s formation.

Regarding Bush’s reported comment at his expense, however, Cruz chose to remain gracious instead of escalating the situation. “I have great respect for George W. Bush,” he said, “and was proud to work on his 2000 campaign and in his administration.”

He concluded that it is “no surprise that President Bush is supporting his brother and attacking the candidates he believes pose a threat to his campaign,” though he made it clear he does not intend to respond in kind.

“I met my wife Heidi working on his campaign,” Cruz said, “and so I will always be grateful to him.”

Did Ted Cruz respond to this situation appropriately? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

George W. Bush Was Just Heard SHREDDING One GOP Candidate- It’s Not Who You Think

While Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump were engaging in a very public war of words over former President George W. Bush’s role in the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, the former president was privately castigating one his brother’s rivals.

It was not Trump.

Instead, George W. Bush went after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at a small Denver gathering of donors for his brother’s campaign, according to a report by Politico.

“I just don’t like the guy,” Bush said at the Sunday event.

Donors interviewed by Politico said the dislike stemmed from Bush’s opinion that Cruz is out for himself.

“He sort of looks at this like Cruz is doing it all for his own personal gain, and that’s juxtaposed against a family that’s been all about public service and doing it for the right reasons,” one donor said. “He’s frustrated to have watched Cruz basically hijack the Republican Party of Texas and the Republican Party in Washington.”

George W. Bush disparaged the seeming alliance between Cruz and Trump, one donor said. Trump has so far exempted Cruz from the zingers he’s tossed at other Republican presidential candidates.

“He said he found it ‘opportunistic’ that Cruz was sucking up to Trump and just expecting all of his support to come to him in the end,” one donor said.

Bush had been chatting amiably about the GOP race when talk turned to Cruz.

“I was like, ‘Holy s—, did he just say that?’” one donor said. “I remember looking around and seeing that other people were also looking around surprised.”

Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W. Bush, did not deny the remark was made, but neither would he confirm it.

“The first words out of President Bush’s mouth [Sunday] were that Jeb is going to earn the nomination, win the election, and be a great President,” Ford said. “He does not view Senator Cruz as Governor Bush’s most serious rival.”

Cruz was part of Bush’s 1999 campaign and served as an associate deputy attorney general in the Justice Department until 2003.

“It’s no surprise that President Bush is supporting his brother and attacking the candidates he believes pose a threat to his campaign,” Cruz said in a statement. “I have no intention of reciprocating. I met my wife Heidi working on his campaign, and so I will always be grateful to him.”

h/t: Fox News

Trump Just Said Something About George W. Bush And 9/11 That’s Sparked Serious Buzz

Donald Trump faces the same challenge all presidential contenders do: to differentiate oneself from those who currently or recently occupied the office.

Trump was asked by Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle to “help us understand who Donald Trump is as a man” and how a Trump presidency can make Americans feel safe and proud.

He responded, “I think I have a bigger heart than all of them,” and then said: “I think I’m much more competent than all of them. When you talk about George Bush – I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.”

Ruhle quickly responded, “Hold on! You can’t blame George Bush for that.”

Trump in turn said, “He was president, OK? Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

Trump didn’t limit his criticism to Bush, but also mentioned Obama’s failures as president.

Speaking about the Sandy Hook shooting, Trump said: “If you look at Sandy Hook, those people are still begging for help. It’s a disaster, and it’s a disaster all over the place. Government has proven to be a disaster during the Obama administration.”

He then stated: “What we need is a leader, we don’t have a leader.”

Daily Mail’s Political Editor, David Martosko, reported on what George W. Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said when asked about whether he would comment on Trump’s statements.

Ford stated: “Thanks for checking, but definitely not.”

A Trump spokesman also declined to comment.

Trump also shared his thoughts about the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He described Bernie Sanders as a “maniac” and then said: “This guy’s giving everything away. He wants Social Security for illegal immigrants, he wants education for illegal immigrants, he wants drivers licenses, he wants everything for people that aren’t even legal in the country.”

What do you think of Trump’s comments about President Bush? Share and comment below.