Wednesday, December 06, 2006

difficult to stop things getting even worse

following up from my Joe Wilson post yesterday
noise said...

So what do you think Lukery?

Wasn't the whole point of the cynical Reagan scheme in the 80's to ENSURE that neither side gained the upper hand? Then in the 90's Bush I stopped the war in part because a stable Iraq was an important consideration.

So in '03 Bush II decides to invade and occupy and does it in a way that ensures Iran gains the upper hand in a big way.

I'm confused. Though I am pretty sure that such a result was not a surprise to everyone. In fact, I'm sure several simulations were run that predicted exactly what is now happening.

lukery said...

Noise - i really don't know what Wilson was trying to say in that interview with LA - although i'm obviously fascinated by it - and he seems to have been talking along similar lines today.

it appears (but isnt a forgone conclusion) that he was saying that the *goal* was a fascist dictatorship in iran. if that's the case, then i presume that the goal is because it's easier to control (own) drug production, supply, distribution etc (although wilson points to oil as well.)

when you add in the feith/perle/chalabi triumverate, and the fact/possibility that chalabi was/is a known (?) iranian spy, then it gets pretty messy (or more clear?). and then you toss in the fact that Feith&Perle wrote 'A Clean Break' (the goal of which was iraq as it is today) - and you throw in the fact that, per sibel, Feith&Perle are major players in Turkey, which provides 90% of heroin, and that Iran is a major 'Golden Triangle' player...

it's either quite murky, or quite clear... i'm not sure which.

viget said...

But here's what I don't get, say Feith and Perle and their factions get their vaunted narco conglomerate and get rich beyond their wildest dreams. Do they honestly think that they can control the fascist dictatorships in this new Shia state wrt oil production? I mean, once those bozos realize that they've got America by the short ones on resources, they'll wreak havoc on oil prices, drugs be damned. Or is the goal of this conglomerate a hostile takeover of America anyway, making it hostage to the wishes of a shadow threat if it wants to preserve its standard of life. Come to think of it, that sounds an awful lot like the current War on Terror right now.

I don't fully get it either. As i've often(!) said - my default is that personal greed is a pretty good *starting point* for understanding all of this (or anything) - the gorgeous and brilliant starroute recently had a terrific formulation (that i can neither find, nor remember, at the moment) wherein she suggested that ideology does matter, but that greed 'mines the channels' of ideology- or that they are persistent bedfellows, or something. (update: see below)

but to Viget's point about whether they have launched a gladio-style hostile takeover of the US via TWOT - it sure looks like it. why? and by who? i dunno. i wish i did. it's gonna be difficult to stop things getting even worse if we can't answer those questions.

Update: starroute in the comments paraphrases herself in the quote I was looking for:
I made the remark Luke quasi-quoted about ideology digging the channels in which greed flows.


Andrew Simon said...

On Noise's point here and yesterday:

Wasn't the whole point of the cynical Reagan scheme in the 80's to ENSURE that neither side gained the upper hand? Then in the 90's Bush I stopped the war in part because a stable Iraq was an important consideration... So in '03 Bush II decides to invade and occupy and does it in a way that ensures Iran gains the upper hand in a big way... I'm confused...

You are right in concluding that the earlier policies were aimed at maintaining a necessary balance of powers in the ME - especially considering the various fractious elements the collectively inhabit the region. But it was though George Bush I who sowed the seeds for Saddam's removal via his Jan 15 1991 National Security Directive 54. Para 10 states:

Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, be found supporting terrorist acts against U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait's oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq...

During GWI Saddam did indeed use limited amounts of chemical warfare agents, and in no uncertain terms set about the destruction of Kuwait's oil facilities. The CW usage was kept heavily under wraps because to have acknowledged this at the time would have served to have taken that war to a much higher plain, given the explicit threat to use US nuclear weapons in retaliation.

America at that time was trying hard to bury the ominous ghosts of Vietnam, and it was also critical to maintain unity amongst the Coalition nations so as to project a harmonised approach to the restoration of Kuwaiti sovereignty. Following the war the mysterious affliction collectively known as Gulf War Syndrome raised its ugly head, affecting (by 2000) as many at 325,000 American service personnel who went over there. All of this was overlooked, because to have admitted what had really happened would also have served to admit that America had not won the war half as cleanly as had been portrayed.

George Bush '41 clearly knew the truth, indeed he almost broke down when he was interviewed on British television in '95 when he was discussing the issue of suffering service men and women. There is no way that George Bush '43 wouldn't have know about this, given the family connection.

I would put it to you that Bush '43 set about the removal of Saddam to avenge the wrong which he saw that, in his own mind, had been inflicted upon his own father's authority. No other reason. Wider ME considerations had no significant effect upon him, or substantive interest to him. Others (like the pro-Israel neo-con enablers) saw this and then took advantage and set about moving their own agenda(s).

History was made once more, even though fairly recent previous history hadn't even been properly written. George II had that one thing going for him though. George I had given him a signed directive to do exactly what he did. Even though he couldn't have done it himself.

Andrew Simon said...

(the collectively?? that collectively me thinks!!)

Anonymous said...

As part of the discussion of motivations in the Middle East, I'd like to make note of this pdf of an article by an Iranian writer, which although nominally about Pan-Turanianism and Azerbaijan is actually of much wider relevance. This article is what I largely had in mind when I made the remark Luke quasi-quoted about ideology digging the channels in which greed flows.

It starts out:

Pan-Turanianism is a racialist movement that not only threatens Iran, but Greece, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine and even (to a more limited extent) China. If unchecked, Pan-Turanianism may become as dangerous to international peace and stability as Islamic fundamentalism has became today.

Geopolitics and petroleum diplomacy is using pan-Turanianism to promote a nefarious and self-serving economic agenda (Part VI, items 1-4). Pan-Turanian activists, supported by politically motivated western academic outlets (See Part VI, items 4), are literally re-narrating world history (Parts I & II), and in this quest, have tragically misled many well-intentioned but naïve individuals (Parts III & IV). Many believe in a series of facts, events and a past history that never was. Veracity is falling victim to racialism, especially in the inherent anti-Persian agenda propelled by geopolitical Petroleum diplomacy.

Much of the article consists of a detailed history, analysis, and refutation of the extreme racist doctrines of Pan-Turanianism (more often called Pan-Turanism.) Then about halfway through it gets into the use of this doctrine by current political factions, ranging from the terrorist MEK of Iran (abbreviated here as MKO) to the neo-fascist Grey Wolves of Turkey. I'll admit to not having read all of it myself (partly because the pdf is badly formatted and hard to follow), but there is an enormous amount of information here which is highly relevant to current events in the Middle East, and of which us Westerners are almost entirely ignorant.

However, the section that is most directly pertinent to the current discussion is that headed "Geopolitical Interests & Petroleum Diplomacy," which starts out by talking about Neocon guru Bernard Lewis:

Professor Bernard Lewis (photo below) is an octogenarian expert of the “Middle East” (itself an invented geopolitical term). Lewis is indeed a “master” scholar and expert on the Turks, Iranian and Arabs (see sample of his books in references). And herein lays the tragedy: Lewis wields his treasure trove of knowledge as an engine of destruction. Few have ever heard of “The Bernard Lewis Project”.

Professor Lewis first unveiled his project in the Bilderberg Meeting in Baden, Austria, on April 27-29, 1979. He formally proposed the fragmentation and balkanization of Iran along regional, ethnic and linguistic lines especially among the Arabs of Khuzestan (the Al-Ahwaz project), the Baluchis (the Pakhtunistan project), the Kurds (the Greater Kurdistan project) and the Azerbaijanis (the Greater Azerbaijan Project).

Dreyfus and LeMarc (see References, p. 157) provide a very succinct summary of the plan’s methodology:

“According to Lewis, the British should encourage rebellions for national autonomy by the minorities such as the Lebanese Druze, Baluchis, Azerbaiajni Turks, Syrian Alawites, the Copts of Ethiopia, Sudanese mystical sects, Arabian tribes…the goal is the break-up of the Middle East into a mosaic of competing ministates and the weakening of the sovereignty of existing republics and kingdoms…spark a series of breakaway movements by Iran’s Kurds, Azeris, baluchis, and Arabs…these independence movements, in turn would represent dire threats to Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and other neighbouring states.”

The article then goes on to argue that the Bernard Lewis Project is still very much alive today, and that the goal of dismembering potentially troublesome nation-states into small ethnic enclaves (as was done successfully with Yugoslavia) forms much of the approach to the region by both Neocons and oil interests. (Which may explain why these two groups often act in tandem, despite their distinct ideological differences.) It also suggests that Pan-Turanisn distortions of history are being snuck into Western media by way of groups like the American Turkish Council.

One thing the article does not seem to touch on, but which seems like an obvious corollary, is the parallel interest of drug traffickers and other deep state types in regional fragmentation. For example, the Wikipedia article on the Chechen Mafia states of the Chechen separatist movement, "Unlike other Russian OC [organized crime] groups, the Obshina was considered a hybrid criminal-political entity, which used illegal proceeds to finance and arm separatists fighters during the Chechen Wars. This unique characteristic has resulted in a trend towards blurring the distinction between organized crime and terrorists groups and has confused many observers as to the Obshina's overall motivations. It is still not entirely clear whether they are more interested in creating an independent nation-state or in perpetuating regional instability so that they might continue to profit from the drug trade and other criminal enterprises."

And then there are those like Michael Ledeen who just seem to get off on the idea of chaos for its own sake...

Track said...


What do you think of Major Doug Rokke's work on depleted uranium exposure?

Another consideration at the end of GWI was the idea of having the Iraqi people topple Hussein. Many authors have questioned why opposition groups weren't given more support. Robert Baer wrote about his experience when he was in Iraq during the Clinton years. Same problem...encouraging opposition groups to rise up and then not supporting their efforts. Greg Palast mentioned in his latest book Armed Madhouse a three day regime change plan proposed by the State Department. No occupation, just a swift removal of Hussein and presumably his top commanders.

Based on my limited reading, it seems the big change (deciding on a long haul occupation) occurred when someone in D.C. decided to replace Gen. Garner with Paul Bremer. A book that doesn't get mentioned as much as the military themed books is The Bush Agenda by Antonia Juhasz which comes up with an explanation for the conventional wisdom notion of no post invasion planning:

I emphasize that it's an absolute fallacy that there was no post-war plan. The plan was written two months before the invasion of Iraq by a company, Bearing Point Inc., which is based in Virginia -- it was KPMG Consulting until it changed its name in the wake of the Arthur Anderson-Enron corruption scandals. The company is not well-known. It works behind the scenes for every branch of government, and it provides all kinds of consulting services.

Bearing point received a $250 million contract from USAID to write a remodeled structure for the Iraqi economy. It was to transition Iraq from a state-controlled economy to a market economy, but I argue that the new model was more a state-controlled economy that is controlled on behalf of multinational corporations, and heavily regulated in fact on behalf of multinational corporations. It just no longer serves the public interest.

I believe Palast referred to this plan in his book as the Grover Norquist plan. So one theory is that this radical plan was being debated in high places until someone finally gave the greenlight and Bremer was sent over to implement it.


Many people on the left point to (former US Ambassador to Iraq) April Gillespie's "approval" as proof that Bush I was to blame for Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. IMO, this is crap because Hussein would have to have been an idiot to trust the US after observing the US help Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

Anonymous said...

Noise said,

"...Many people on the left point to (former US Ambassador to Iraq) April Gillespie's "approval" as proof that Bush I was to blame for Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. IMO, this is crap because Hussein would have to have been an idiot to trust the US after observing the US help Iran in the Iran-Iraq war..."

Well, maybe he was an idiot. I too thought that the Bush 1 people suckered S. Hussein into invading Kuwait and the Gillespie story was part of why I thought so. But, there was also the thought that the U.S. or American companies assisted Kuwait in slant drilling into Iraqi oilfields. Shouldn't Hussein have been aware of that if it was true? I am also not sure, but was Hussein aware that the U.S. had assisted Iran in addition to Iraq in their war? Maybe american meddling in all these countries didn't make any difference in Iraq's decision.

It is not clear to me how much influence the Americans had with the Iraqi government or military. I suspect as there may have been a deal made between the U.S. intelligence people and the upper ranks to sell out the Iraqi side in Iraq war 2, couldn't there have been that kind of cooperation in the run up to Iraq 2. ...Why? for money.

I have supposed that the Iraqis went into Kuwait originally because of the slant drilling, and because, maybe, Hussein was given some kind of "sign" that it was OK with the U.S. if Iraq took out the Kuwaitis.

I am not at all familiar with this area. So, I have no way to know. But, does this sound credible? What kind of religious situation has there been in Kuwait. Does Kuwait benefit from an unstable Iraq? Is it Sunni or Shia? Why have we not heard about how this war stands to effect that country? We hear about possible effects on Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Was there any other reason for Iraq to go into Kuwait, thinking they would not suffer reprisal?

Weren't there any studies done on this question?

Andrew Simon said...

Noise and Steven Andresen,

Just home from the bars in this town, it's late here and I need my pit, i've got a busy day today (already) but i've read your words and I will write some more next evening. All I can say right now is that I have met Doug Rokke, and that the US forced Saddam into his move because they forced his nation into bankruptcy. Later (today).

Andrew Simon said...


I met Doug Rokke briefly when he came to London in '99 to give evidence about DU and GWS to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. I have also attended lectures and evidence sessions where Asaf Durakovic and Professors Malcolm Hooper and Albrecht Schott have spoken. These four men are probably the leading world experts on military DU exposure. All four agree that there is a major health risk associated with DU exposure. The DU issue as it stands is very complicated for a number of reasons, these include the nature and accuracy of the testing, and the fact that uranium is naturally found in the human body in any case. DU is practically identical to natural uranium, the ratio of U238 in each is 99.745% and 99.274% respectively. Testing very small quantities and then determining this half percentage difference is problematical to say the least, there are questions about absortion rates dependent on particle size and the solubility of the various oxide products following the use of DU as a weapon, along with individual excretion rates as compared with permanent retention ratios. Uranium though was found to be a toxic poison (in 1824) long before radioactivity was even discovered (in 1896).

When it comes to GWS there are a number of competing (combining?) causitive factors - the DU itself, the various BW jabs, NAPS tablets, CW agents, oil-smoke, stress and the organophosphate pesticides used in theatre. As it stands no-one in military circles wants to stand up and admit that DU is harmful. My view is that it is, and has done vast harm (including much later exposure) in all the locations where it was used and tested-in-anger.

As a side issue, what becomes obvious from the DU issue is that the nature of the creation of the very universe is at stake here. U238 does not (it seems) break down natually in its half-life decay to form U235. If all the uranium in the universe was formed at the same time, i.e. at moment of the big bang, then all uranium deposits on this planet (and everwhere in the universe) should have the same ratio of U238 to U235. If the uranium was formed by ejection processes from black holes (dark matter and quite heavy too?) at different universal points and times then the ratio would be variable and ours would be currently (fairly consistently) unique to this point in space within this particular galaxy.

If further work was carried out to refine the precise ratios (to quite a few decimal points) of U238, U235 and U234 as found in nature, being as these isotopes are collectively formed as one of the few primordial substances that still exist, and slight variations were then found, this might prove that the big bang did not in fact happen as we currently understand it. In short, it may take a very long time to demonstrate this. We need to go to another galaxy to experiment!

(Will write a bit more about Saddam/Kuwait next evening.)

Andrew Simon said...

Noise and Steven Andresen,

With regard to April Glaspie's part in 'inspiring' Saddam to invade Kuwait, very few people realise that US lawmakers were making efforts to force Iraq to accept weapons inspectors BEFORE the invasion of Kuwait. Bills were introduced into the House and the Senate in April and May 1990 which would have banned fiscal assistance to Iraq, at that time running at about £500 million a year, with Iraq then currently seeking, mainly due to its poor financial predicament following the long Iran-Iraq war, a further $573 million. Senate Bill 2480 and House Bill 4918 both required the President to certify that Iraq had opened up its Nuclear, Chemical and Biological sites before any grant, sale, loan, lease, credit, guarantee or insurance was furnished to Iraq. As it happened, neither bill was passed, but Iraq must have been clearly aware of the pressure that was being implicitly applied. At this time Iraq was in debt to Kuwait for about $14 billion, with total debts of $35-40 billion, and was trying to extract $2.4 billion as compensation for the slant-drilled oil from Kuwait. The big question is related to a phone call made to Saddam by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak actually during his two-hour meeting with Ms Glaspie. Mubarak reported to Saddam that Kuwait was willing to negotiate. Saddam reported this immediately to Ms Glaspie. What is not known is whether she reported this up the chain-of-command, and then someone else told the Kuwaitis to break off these negotiations, thereby ensuring that the Invasion of Kuwait would take place, as had been explicitly suggested by Saddam if he could not circumvent his immediate problems.

Andrew Simon said...

(£500 million should read $500 - my excuse - I'm English - force of habit||)

Anonymous said...

Simon said,

"...As it happened, neither bill was passed, but Iraq must have been clearly aware of the pressure that was being implicitly applied...."

Does this hide what happened to make these bills fail? I have been under the impression that the U.S. administrations promoted the Hussein government in their war with Iran, their purchasing of weapons, and in their behavior to their own people. This was done partly by selling him material, by vetoing American and possibly U.N. resolutions trying to reign in Hussein, and so forth. My memory is not clear, but. It was this background that made the Gillespie stories seem true.

Was Saddam inclined to do whatever he was told to do, regardless of its effects on his country, or did he just foolishly trust whatever the americans told him?

Track said...

It seems likely April Gillespie was baiting Hussein. However, I find it difficult to believe that Hussein didn't take the Saudi Arabia factor into account. Hussein controlling Iraqi oil + Kuwaiti oil + Saudi oil? No way the US would take a chance on that happening.

According to Wikipedia, in addition to the slant drilling, Hussein was also of the mindset that Kuwait owed Iraq for taking on Iran (to the point he thought they should forgive the loan) and he was upset at the low price of oil which he believed was being intentionally kept low by Kuwait's overproduction.

Then again, despite the apparent bad gamble on his part, he did retain power. Meaning he didn't really suffer but the Iraqi people most assuredly the Gulf War from the Coalition forces, after the war as Hussein reestablished his control, during the years of sanctions and then again when the US military (with a smaller coalition) invaded in '03.

Andrew Simon said...

Steven Andresen,

I have been under the impression that the U.S. administrations promoted the Hussein government in their war with Iran, their purchasing of weapons, and in their behavior to their own people.

In reality the US was playing both sides at once, with the general aim of weakening everyone by letting them fight themselves into self destructive national mutilation, particularly involving the loss of the two nations' young male breeding stock.

Was Saddam inclined to do whatever he was told to do...

Saddam seldom listened to anyone. The US had been quietly pleased with his purging of all communist political influence in Iraq during his early days, and had given him tacit support in this aim. Later he was a necessary evil as he stood pretty much alone in opposing the Iranian revolutionary movement which had forced the Shah from power. But I don't think the US had any effect on his thinking towards his ideals of a combined pan-Arabian nation. They feared this, as with Kissingers Twin Pillars policy, divide and separate was always a more comfortable notion to them. Therefore they would always oppose any expansionist movement (from any side, bar perhaps Israel), had Kuwait remained the new 19th province of Iraq then Jordan may have soon become the 20th, especially bearing in mind the support Saddam received from the streets of Amman.


There wasn't much chance of Iraq moving directly into Saudi, indeed there was a non-aggression pact between the two nations. Reading the various transcripts of the Saddam/April meeting it can be seen that she was very careful in her words and did not push Saddam at all. One transcript gives Saddam speaking about the Shatt Al-Arab waterway and its importance to Iraq as their only exit to deep water. It was pretty much trashed at the end of the '80-'88 I/I war, full of sunken and nearly unmovable wreckage. Part of what Saddam had really wanted from Kuwait during the negotiations was the lease of Warbah Island (Kuwaiti territorial land close to the exit of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) in order to establish new deep water oil export facilities. He spoke of two options, full control of the S A-A or settlement of the Kuwaiti border dispute with the question of the island included. The S A-A had earlier been all Iraq's at one point (although not historically), being as the British had placed border markers on the Iranian side following the First World War, but Iran had always disputed this with sometimes gunboat diplomacy going back to the 30's. Saddam had had little choice but to cede half of it to Iran, to the thagwel, the deepest mid-stream tidal median, in an agreement signed after a conference held in Algiers in 1975, but Saddam had also desparately wanted to go back on this to prevent Iraq becoming virtually landlocked with no oil exportation facilities following the I/I war.

...despite the apparent bad gamble on his part...

My opinion is that it wasn't a gamble. As a strong proud leader he had little choice but to move in the direction he did because otherwise Iraq would have been forced into bankruptcy and near starvation for its people. Iraq was in a very poor state following the I/I war. It wasn't that Iraq had staged a full scale invasion of Iran, it had merely attempted to gain full control of the S A-A. During that entire eight-year war nobody went more than about 25 miles into someone else's territory. By '88 Iraq was seriously on the back foot. Had they lost Halabja with its access to the hydro-dams (supplying much of Baghdad's electricity and clean water supply) at the Darbandi Khan lake they probably would have lost the war, hence the use of chemical weapons there. This act was calculated to bring Iran to the UN table, accepting a ceasefire resolution, something Iraq already saw as absolutely essential. This ploy, which WAS something of a gamble, did work, and Ayatollah Khomeini swallowed a bitter pill ("I repeat that accepting this [resolution] was more deadly for me than taking poison. I submit[ted] myself to God's will and drank this drink for His satisfaction.").

Anonymous said...

The reason Bush went into Iraq again has remained a mystery.

The thought was, he did it for the oil. But, it seems that the oil people say they have opposed this war. It makes the area unstable. The Iraqis would have sold the oil to us anyway.

I wonder whether this effort in Iraq was done, not just to suit Israeli purposes, but on behalf of Iran's too.

I say this in light of there being some relationship between Israel and Iran. There was some kind of deal made between the Repubs including Bush 1 in order to scuttle Pres. Carter's reelection. The break up of Iraq would have appealed to the military in Iran after their war with Iraq.

The fact that there has been hostile words spoken between Bush and the Iranian President does not dissuade me from thinking that there could be a deal.

Are the Chinese and the Russians really getting anything in Iran that the Iranians could not take back and give to the Americans?