Monday, March 05, 2007


by Thomas Riggins

Seymour Hersh in a recent issue of The New Yorker (3-05-07) has written an article suggesting the Bush administration has made a strategic shift in Iraq (“The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?”)

Because of Hersh’s extensive contacts both within and out of the government his articles are extremely interesting and give the reader a ready source of reliable and trustworthy facts. One does not have to agree with Hersh’s interpretation of the facts. I am going to put a slightly different spin on the information he presents by suggesting that it is a tactical rather than a strategic shift that is underway, and that the long term neocon strategy is more successful than most war critics think (in getting its hands on Iraq's oil) even if, in the long run, it will be defeated.

Just what is the neocon strategy? We can put aside all the mythological outlooks about building democracy, spreading freedom, wanting to help the people of the region, defending the homeland, fighting terrorism and other childish nonsense dished out by the government to keep people disinformed and confused about the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq.

The long term strategy of the Bushites is to dominate and control the oil resources of the Middle East either by the manipulation of client governments (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the gulf states) or by military force and intimidation (Iraq and Iran). Whether this strategy will succeed or not is the question.

Hersh is quite accurate in detailing the new tactics adopted by the Bushites, but a bit misleading to describe it as a new strategy. “The new strategy ‘is a major shift in American policy--- it’s a sea change,’ a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said.”

What is happening is that the administration is openly shifting its support to Sunni muslim forces in the region and actively aligning itself in an anti- Shiite coalition in an effort to weaken the influence and power of Iran (a Shiite led country).

Iran, which has not attacked or invaded another country for over two hundred years, is being set up by the U.S. and Israel as some sort of “existential threat” to its neighbors-- especially Saudi Arabia and Israel. The so called “existential threat” is pure bunk being peddled by countries that have, in fact, actually invaded and attacked other countries (and quite frequently)-- namely the U.S. and Israel, the two most violent and war driven states on the planet.

The administration's plans with regard to Iran are not new. Practically from the beginning of the aggression against Iraq Bush and his cronies let it be known that there was an axis of evil and that they wanted regime change in Iran (as well as Syria and North Korea).

One the neocon's strategic goals, control of Iraqi oil, has almost been accomplished with the new oil law that has been passed in Iraq which sets the stage for privatization and eventual dominance of the oil resources of the country by international (mainly American) oil corporations.

The tactical tilt now aimed at Iran is a desperate attempt to curry favor in the Sunni world in the hopes that Sunni insurgents, who cause most of the U.S. casualties, will become less hostile to the U.S. and refocus their violence towards the Shiites.

Hersh points out that, "As the Iraqi Army continues to founder in its confrontations with insurgents, the power of the Shiite militias has steadily increased." The U.S. is still tactically allied with the Shiites (the majority of the population) within Iraq hoping to sustain a "moderate" pro-American government in power so that the new oil law will not be revoked.

The new American tactics are, however, contradictory. Supporting the Sunni's outside of Iraq against the Iranians and against Hezbollah, the Shiite group in Lebanon, on the one hand and, on the other, supporting the Shiites internally against the Sunni insurgency will only assure that American forces will be targeted by both groups. This is one of the reasons I think these new tactics will fail and ultimately compromise the Bushites strategic goals.

Another reason is that the American people no longer support the war policies of the administration. They are not buying the administration's argument which says, as Hersh expresses it, "that the bleak situation in Iraq was the result not of its own failures of planning and execution but of Iran's interference." Without the support of the people, Bush's war agenda cannot be sustained.

Nevertheless, the war hawks are trying to drum up some support, so far unsuccessfully. Here is Cheney, quoted by Hersh, on Fox News in January: Think "of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world's supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world." It sounds like a description of the U.S. today and there is no historical precedent, in the last several centuries, to think Iran is evolving in this direction.

Another point that Hersh makes in his article is that money provided by the U.S. to support anti-Shiite Sunni groups outside of Iraq is making its way into the hands of anti-American pro-Al Qaeda jihadists. This shows the complete incompetence of the administration and provides almost certain evidence that this change in imperialist tactics in the Middle East will not succeed in furthering the neocon strategic aims.

Things are coming to a head in the area. Hersh was informed by a "former senior intelligence official" that "the current contingency plans allow for an attack order [against Iran] this spring." The official added that some officers over at the Joint Chiefs of Staff "were counting on the White House not being 'foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008'"

Experience tells us that we should never underestimate the foolishness of the Bush White House. To prevent more needless butchery and murder by the Bush team, more waste of American and other lives in illegal and immoral warfare, and more erosion of democratic values here at home, the Congress must do its constitutional duty and pass binding resolutions denying Bush the right to attack Iran as well as repeal his war powers with respect to Iraq.

Thomas Riggins is the book review editor of political affairs magazine and can be reached at

1 comment:

FSJL said...

Empire is the failure mode of a republic, and the goal of those who believe that power should be theirs forever and ever, amen.