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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Klare, What Are They Cooking Up in the White House? (Wag The Dog Scenarios)

We know one thing about the Bush administration, despite the President's Veterans Day speech on the "irresponsibility" of "rewriting history," he and his top officials -- possibly the greatest gamblers in our history -- had no hesitation about writing their own ticket to history and rejiggering the facts wherever necessary in the run-up to war. History like intelligence was seen a malleable thing, something that would, in the end, go to the victor anyway. It could be whatever they desired it to be, whatever they thought would best help them panic the American people and Congress into backing an invasion of their country of choice. And it could be brought to bear whenever they thought it most useful -- or, in White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's now infamous September 2002 formulation (speaking of the timing of promoting an invasion of Iraq), ``From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.''

They had no qualms about elbowing the CIA aside, or using forged, unreliable, or clearly inaccurate intelligence, or simple disinformation, or just repeating endlessly things they certainly knew to be fictions in order to make Democrats (who knew better) run for their lives and put a full-court press on the media. They were happy to raise rhetorical mushroom clouds over all-too-real American cities to panic Americans into their war of choice. They had no hesitation (as far as we know) -- to cite a conveniently forgotten absurdity of that prewar moment -- about sending the President out in front of television cameras to announce the ridiculous in all fearful solemnity: That, for instance, there was a danger Iraqi unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) armed with chemical or biological weapons might be sent to spray their deadly mists over East coast cities or even hundreds of miles inland. (Forget that the planes didn't exist and that, if they had, and if the CBW weaponry had been available, the Iraqis had no way to get them to the coast, or anything to launch them from.) When people want to talk about what we may or may not have known about subjects like Iraqi WMDs, they forget the baldfaced absurdity of some of the administration's claims -- or exactly how unchallenged they went in the mainstream media. (I saw the President make the UAV claim on television with my own eyes, by the way.)

And that was when they were riding high. Imagine what they might do in desperation. In fact, Michael Klare, author of the indispensable Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum, does just that below, evaluating the various wag-the-dog scenarios this administration might seriously consider using if its situation grows too desperate and elections too near.

After considering these possibilities yourself, think about the context. The signal from the recent hotel bombings in Jordan seems clear enough in its own horrific way. Through its invasion and uniquely inept occupation, the Bush administration has already created a "failed state" not on the failed continent of Africa or in an economically or politically peripheral land like Afghanistan, but exactly in the heart of the richest oil lands of the planet. Iraq is now largely an anarchic world with a central government hardly capable of commanding its own fortified heart -- the Green Zone of Baghdad -- no less much of the rest of the country; where religious militias, terrorist organizations, and fractured insurgent groups have the run of the land; where internecine killing is on the rise; and the delivery of such basics of modern life as electricity and potable water (or water of any kind) are no longer givens.

Whether some in the Bush administration meant to turn Iraq into a land of "chaos" or not, they have certainly succeeded in doing so. Now, the chaos is spreading across borders. The Jordanian bombers, after all, were Iraqis. The targets, American hotels, were both soft and symbolic. But in the future, they may be harder and even more vital -- oil pipelines or other facilities outside Iraq, for instance.

Add into this formula for disaster, an "administration" in Washington that is "uninterested in governing," as Jonathan Schell wrote recently in the Nation magazine (focusing on what the post-Katrina world has revealed to us, but Iraqis already knew all too well). "We all keep referring to the ‘Bush administration,'" he added, "yet administering seems to be the last thing on its mind... If the Bush outfit is not governing, what is it doing? The answer comes readily: It wishes to acquire, increase and consolidate the power of the Republican Party."

If administration is nothing to Bush's people and power is all, the Klare scenarios that follow only seem that much more likely to be used, and what the implementation of any one of them will certainly do is add yet another chaotic pressure to the crumbling structure of our ever less safe and secure world and way of life. —Tom

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read the “Wag The Dog” Scenarios here:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/indexprint.mhtml?pid=36399

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