Overt Conquest + Covert Operations
The roots of the George W. Bush administration's policy for Iraq "regime change" can be traced to strategies formulated since the early 1990s by a small network of inveterate Cold Warriors linked by philosophical lineage and war-intelligence policy collaborations. Many of them are indicted criminals—five individuals were direct participants in the Iran-Contra operation.
The deep politics of regime removal in Iraq: Overt conquest, covert operations
Part Three: The US war lobby and the disciples of NSC-68
By Larry Chin
Online Journal Contributing Editor
November 7, 2002—The roots of the George W. Bush administration's policy for Iraq "regime change" can be traced to strategies formulated since the early 1990s by a small network of inveterate Cold Warriors linked by philosophical lineage and war-intelligence policy collaborations.
This tightly-knit cabal stretches across the current and previous White Houses, the State Department, the CIA, the National Security Council, the boards of neo-conservative think tanks and the boards of transnational corporations (including Washington-linked energy and war-technology companies). Virtually all of the players are members of elite planning bodies, such as the Council on Foreign Relations. Many of them are indicted criminals—five individuals were direct participants in the Iran-Contra operation.
All have, over the course of their intertwined careers, advocated imperialist policies involving 1) pre-emptive wars, 2) the conquest of Iraq and Iran, and the breakup of Saudi Arabia, 3) hard-line support of Israel, Ariel Sharon and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and 5) the encirclement and containment of Russia and China.
Tracking the Iraq Regime Change Network: The Gang's All Here
1. 1992 Pentagon Defense Planning Guidance. As noted by Joe Taglieri (From the Wilderness 10/1/02), this was one of the first official regime removal plans, prepared for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney by his two assistants:
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
2. The Open Letter of 1998. In February 1998, 40 "prominent Americans" a signed an open letter to President Clinton, which formed the basis of the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998.
This letter calling for an insurrection, and recognition of the (CIA-backed) Iraqi National Congress as the official government of Iraq, was spearheaded by Ahmed Chalabi of the INC. Signers of the letter were:
Chair of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle
VP Dick Cheney
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Defense Undersecretary Doug Feith
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney
Deputy Secretary of State and Iran-Contra participant Richard Armitage
Former CIA operative and Iran-Contra participant Duane "Dewey" Clarridge
NSC official, former Secretary of State and Iran-Contra participant Elliott Abrams
Former Defense Secretary and Iran-Contra participant Caspar Weinberger
Former Defense Secretary and Carlyle Group chairman Frank Carlucci
Zalmay Khalilzad, current US envoy to Afghanistan, former UNOCAL consultant and RAND Corporation official
Former National Security Adviser and Iran-Contra participant Robert McFarlane
3. Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. The act itself was promoted in Congress by Woolsey, Clarridge, and now-Deputy National Security Advisor for Counter-terrorism Wayne Downing. The act (a piece of bombastic anti-Saddam propaganda full of historical falsehoods) passed Congress and was signed by Clinton, with scant attention from the public at large. Its major sponsors:
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator John McCain
Fast-forwarding to the present, we find the same network driving Bush administration policy, from within the Pentagon as well as from the outside.
4. 1998-Bush II foreign policy team selected. In the summer of 1998, in meetings arranged by former President George H.W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, and headed by Condoleeza Rice, the George W. Bush foreign policy team—the "Vulcans"—is chosen. "If the brain trust reflects who the governor would put in office if elected president, his administration would be to the right not only of his father's but also of Ronald Reagan's," reported Robert Novak to the Washington Post. Among group's leading members we find:
5. Defense Policy Board. This "civilian" advisory board makes Pentagon policy "recommendations" to the Defense Department (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith).
Eliot Cohen, chairman of the PNAC
Former CIA Director James Schlesinger
6. Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). This Johns Hopkins University think tank is well known for churning out policies based on US aggression. Associated with SAIS are:
7. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This think tank published a plan for toppling Iraq in 2000 based on the Wolfowitz-Cheney-Libby 1992 Defense Planning Guidance.
8. Center for Security Policy (CSP).
Feith (former chair)
9. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). On the board of this think tank is a cross-section of the most hawkish members of the Iraq war lobby, along with more "diplomacy-oriented" former officials:
Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft (chair)
Ray Lee Hunt (Hunt Oil, Texas)
10. Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Former CIA Director John Deutch
11. US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce. As documented by Professor Michel Chossudovsky in War and Globalisation, the GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldava) alliance formed by NATO in 1999 sits at the hub of Caspian oil and gas wealth. Central to the GUUAM is the US client-state of Azerbaijan. Its Chamber of Commerce reads like a 9/11/Iraq War who's who:
Former Secretary of State James Baker
Where It All Began: Nitze and NSC-68
Most if not all leaders of the Iraq war lobby are disciples, protégés and students of proto-hawk Paul H. Nitze and the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Nitze, a former Dillon, Read investment banker (whose company floated loans for the Third Reich) and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, founded the SAIS in 1944. Nitze advised five US presidents and held high-level cabinet positions in every presidential administration (except Jimmy Carter's) until his retirement in 1989.
The 1950 NSC Memorandum 68, written by Nitze (for then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson) was the policy basis of the Cold War. Every successive US administration has implemented hard-line policies that can be directly traced to NSC-68, which calls for the destruction of the Soviet Union and unrivaled US military power. According to former CIA agent Philip Agee, NSC-68 was the remilitarization plan that led to the establishment of a permanent war economy and an eternal "national security" apparatus.
The memo also asserted for the first time, in the name of national security, pre-emptive US claims on scarce economic and social resources anywhere in the world.
NSC-68 specifically stated that "Soviet domination of the potential power of Eurasia, whether achieved by armed aggression or by political and subversive means, would be strategically and politically unacceptable to the United States."
The 9/11 War itself is the realization of the "Eurasian" imperative of NSC-68. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Nitze protégé and SAIS board member, has long been obsessed with "Eurasia." His "Clash of Civilizations" geostrategy is spelled out in the book "The Grand Chessboard"—a virtual map of the current conflict.
The Perle-Wolfowitz Cabal
Two other Nitze disciples, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, are arguably the key drivers of the Bush war policy. The two fanatical hawks have collaborated for more than two decades.
As revealed in an article in the New York Times (10/12/01), members of the Perle/Wolfowitz faction met for more than 19 hours on September 19-20, 2001 to "make the case" for a war against Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the seizure of Iraqi oil, immediately after the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attended these meetings. Part of the discussion focused on manufacturing evidence connecting Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.
Before becoming Deputy Defense Secretary, Wolfowitz was the chairman and dean of the SAIS. He has been a "strategist" since 1973, and has held a number of high level defense posts and was undersecretary of defense during George H.W. Bush's administration. Since 9/11/01, Wolfowitz has pushed aggressively for unilateral US military action in Iraq, and anywhere in the world. Immediately following 9/11, Wolfowitz submitted a plan (referred by Pentagon insiders as "Operation Infinite War") that called for the bombing of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Perle earned the nickname "The Prince of Darkness" for his fanatical views, which include the use of nuclear weapons. Perle, a militant supporter of Israel, seeks to "bring the Muslim world to its knees." Perle was an assistant secretary of defense for international security during the Reagan administration, and is a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Perle currently sits as chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board and advises (and many believe controls) the Bush defense team. He is privy to classified information (despite being a "civilian") and has reportedly manipulated information in order to further the policy goals of his faction.
In a (semi-friendly) interview with David Corn of The Nation (5/10/02) regarding plans for an Iraqi coup, the ruthless Perle declared that "The Army guys don't know anything," and that it would only take 40,000 troops to "take control of the north and the south, cut off Saddam's oil, make him a pauper."
James Woolsey: Iraqi Opposition Agent
Former CIA Director Woolsey is another important Nitze disciple, member of the Defense Policy Board, SAIS board member and Perle-Wolfowitz colleague. Nitze hired Woolsey for the SALT I negotiating team during the Carter years. Woolsey served Perle as general counsel of the Senate Armed Services Committee. During the Reagan-Bush era, Woolsey worked with Brent Scowcroft's strategic forces commission and on other defense assignments.
Woolsey also sits on the board of such spy-military industrial companies as DynCorp, Martin Marietta, British Aerospace Inc, Fairchild Industries. Along with a number of US elites, he is deeply involved in Central Asian oil politics and sits on the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce.
Immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Woolsey went to the media to blame the operation on Saddam Hussein. Woolsey flew to London in October 2001 with officials of the Defense and State Departments to gather evidence linking Hussein to 9/11.
At a July 24, 2002, Washington symposium hosted by the Institute of World Politics, Woolsey told the audience, "We are in a world war, we are in World War Four." He also declared that it had begun on 9/11, and he called for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq—even without a "smoking gun." In his speech, Woolsey declared that Saddam's "general support of terrorism" was enough justification.
Woolsey's anti-Saddam stance is no surprise, considering that he is a partner in the law firm of Shea & Gardner. Shea & Gardner is registered as a "foreign agent" for the Iraqi National Congress.
In 1998, Woolsey defended six INC-affiliated Iraqi resistance fighters whom the Clinton administration was trying to deport back to Iraq. Woolsey eventually negotiated a deal that domiciled five of the Iraqi agents in Nebraska. Woolsey was so incensed with the Clinton administration, and the intelligence community that had "spurned" him, that he bitterly called America "a fascist country."
Woolsey's intemperate "get Iraq" views continue to be featured prominently throughout the media. Salon.com published a typical offering, in which Woolsey connected 9/11 to the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and suggested that Ramsey Youssef was an Iraqi agent (not a member of Al Qaeda).
Rumsfeld "Goes Massive"
On 9/11/01, barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq—even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.
On 9/11, according to CBS correspondent David Martin (9/5/02), "Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans (against Iraq). And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted 'best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.'—meaning Saddam Hussein—'at same time. Not only UBL'—the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.
"'Go massive,' the notes quote him as saying. 'Sweep it all up. Things related and not.' Now, nearly one year later, there is still no evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld."
In an August 11, 2002, New York Times article, the sinister Rumsfeld stated with callousness, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Iraq were similar to Afghanistan, if a bad regime was thrown out, people were liberated, food could come in, borders could be opened, repression could stop, prisons could be opened? I mean, wouldn't it be fabulous?"
Rumsfeld, a long-time supporter of the Iraqi National Congress, as Middle East envoy during the Reagan presidency was also directly responsible for the arming of Saddam Hussein. Journalist Jeremy Scahill reported that "in 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was in a position to draw the world's attention to Saddam's chemical threat. He was in Baghdad as the UN concluded that chemical weapons had been used against Iran. He was armed with a fresh communication from the State Department that it had available evidence Iraq was using chemical weapons. But Rumsfeld said nothing."
Notes On Other Players
In addition to being a long-time ally of the INC and other Iraqi opposition groups, Dick Cheney exploited post-Gulf War Iraq as the CEO of Halliburton. According to the Washington Post (2/20/00), Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump, subsidiaries of Halliburton Corporation, played a dominant role in the reconstruction of Iraq's oil industry. While the United States and Britain waged almost daily air strikes against military installations in northern and southern Iraq, Halliburton was doing business with Saddam Hussein's government and helping to rebuild its battered oil industry. Halliburton is believed to have earned $1 billion by illegally exporting oil through black market channels.
Like Cheney, John Deutch has had it both ways in Iraq. As CIA Director, he oversaw some of the agency's mid to late 1990s coup and assassination attempts. But Deutch profited in post-Gulf War Iraq as a board member of Schlumberger, the second largest US oil services company (he remains on the board today). The company won at least three contracts for well-logging equipment and geological software to Iraq via a French subsidiary, Services Petroliers Schlumberger, and through Schlumberger Gulf Services of Bahrain. Deutch is well-situated. In addition to being an Institute Professor at MIT, a director of Citigroup, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and a Bilderberger, Deutch sits on the board of Raytheon. In 1999, the CIA suspended Deutch's security clearance after concluding that he had mishandled national secrets on his home computer.
Wayne Downing is the current Director of Combating Terrorism for the Homeland Security Defense Board. As reported by journalist Seymour Hersh (New Yorker, 12/20/01), Downing ran Special Forces command during the Gulf War, and was involved in a Delta Force operation that killed or wounded an estimated 180 Iraqis, with no US losses. According to Hersh, "Downing loved it."
In 1997-1998, Downing co-wrote a plan with CIA veteran Duane "Dewey" Clarridge to overthrow Saddam Hussein using Kurdish and Shi'ite fighters. Clarridge was CIA Division Chief, and chief of CIA Contra support operations from 1982-1984. Clarridge met regularly with Manuel Noriega, Jorge Morales and other narco-traffickers. He helped Oliver North establish the Ilopango air base in El Salvador as a staging point for Contra supply/CIA cocaine operations. A major Iran-Contra player, he was indicted on seven counts of perjury by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. He also supplied logistics help that sent US arms to Iran. In his notorious final act as president, George H.W. Bush pardoned Clarridge, Elliott Abrams, Caspar Weinberger and Robert McFarlane—-all of whom have played active roles in recent anti-Saddam operations.
Rifts Within the War Lobby
While there is unanimous agreement within the Bush administration about an Iraq "regime change" (and strong support from Congress, including Senators Lieberman, Biden, McCain and Daschle), there have been disagreements among the hawks about how it should be done.
The militant Perle-Wolfowitz faction has butted heads with elites favoring a more "international consensus"-oriented approach (Powell, Kissinger, Scowcroft). Even Deputy Secretary of State and career covert operative Richard Armitage, a signatory to the 1998 anti-Iraq letter and a supporter of the Iraq Liberation Act, has viewed some of the Perle-Wolfowitz-Iraqi National Congress plans with suspicion.
In the most embarrassing flap to date, at a July 10, 2002, Defense Policy Board briefing, Rand analyst and Perle protégé Laurent Murawiec identified Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States. Many believe that Perle planned this move, which caused worldwide turmoil and angered other members of the Bush cabinet.
It remains to be seen which war faction wins out, and what manner of rampage will be unleashed.
Next: The Bush Family's Unfinished Business
Larry Chin is a freelance journalist and an Online Journal Contributing Editor.
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion