16 April 2003
At first sight, an alliance between right-wing Christian fundamentalists and right-wing Zionist fundamentalists might appear too bizarre to be true. But not if their long-term aims coincide as they do with the Bush and Sharon governments. How the two strands of neo-imperialist thinking connect is instructive and helps explain a lot of the events of today.
Oil and land, you gotta have one with the other
Sharon’s ‘Greater Israel’ crusade represents the fascist side of Israeli colonialism, masquerading as a ‘defence’ of the ‘Jewish homeland’. And it has suited US imperialist ambitions since the founding of Israel in 1948, to go along with this vision because the creation of Israel acted as a block to Arab nationalism and of course, as long as the Arab nations remain divided, gives free access to the vast oil reserves so crucial to the US economy.
Taking out Saddam is clearly the first step in US attempts to redraw the map of the Middle East and take care of the Palestinian ‘problem’ at the same time. But will it work?
And whilst the Bush/Blair alliance is happy to bleat about Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, for decades the USUK was quite happy to turn a blind eye to the US puppet, the Shah of Iran’s reign of terror (and even supported the Ayotollah in the early days when it looked like a left-leaning, anti-western government would replace the Shah), the Feisal’s in Saudi Arabia, and the various and sundry petty potentates of the United Arab Emirates, not to mention USUK’s cynical support of Saddam Hussein, Muburak in Egypt, the right-wing Christian fundamentalist Falangists in Lebanon, King Hussein of Jordan. The list is long but the current onslaught only makes sense when put in the context of western imperialist ambitions following the collapse of the ‘Evil Empire’ in 1989.
Who are the players?
Whilst I am sure I’ll be accused of being a conspiracy nut, let’s look at who the players are in this latest US adventure starting with William Kristol, editor of the right-wing Weekly Standard, which published an Open Letter to President Bush a few days after 911, which asserted that it was imperative to ‘remove Saddam Hussein from power’ and to ‘retaliate’ against Syria and Iran. Kristol is also head of The Project for the New American Century and a former hack for Enron where he was paid $100,000 to say nice things about Enron in the columns of his publication.
The Washington Post critic Howard Kurtz wrote that, ”He…[Kristol, has] become part of Washington’s circulatory system, this half-pol, half-pundit, full-throated advocate with the nice-guy image, who is…wired to nearly all the Republican presidential candidates.” (Feb 2000.)
The Open Letter was published in the Weekly Standard, which was founded by Kristol with a $10 million gift from the ultra-rightwing press baron Rupert Murdoch. 41 leading neo-conservatives are all signatories to the Open Letter, including:
o Norman Podhoretz, editor of the right-wing Encounter magazine, and his wife,
Midge Decter, also a writer with ultra-rightwing credentials
o Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Studies
o Robert Kagan, also of the Weekly Standard
o Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, and, of course
o Richard Perle, ‘prince of darkness’ who is also a director of the Jersulem Post which is owned by right-wing Zionists
And of course, the other suspects who are by now, well known to us but it’s worth listing them nevertheless:
o Paul Wolfowitz, father of the invasion of Iraq, is No. 2 in the Defense Dept.
o Douglas Feith, friend of Perle, heads the Pentagon Planning Board
o John Bolton is a State Department Undersecretary
o Eliot Abrams, responsible for the Middle East in the National Security Council, heavily embroiled in the Iran-Contra-Israel scandal.
o Oliver North, another Iran-Contra player and convicted felon, is a member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
o Michael Ledeen, also involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, advocates total war not only against Iraq, but also against Israel’s other enemies, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority
o Dov Zakheim who is comptroller for the Defense Department.
Along with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, nearly all are associated with the ‘Project for the New American Century’, the ‘bible’ for US world domination.
Other key players include:
o Meyrav Wurmser, Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute who also writes for the Jerusalem Post and is co-founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute which according to the Guardian is connected to Israeli Army Intelligence.
o Davis Wurmser, Meyrav’s husband, is at Perle’s American Enterprise Institute, in charge of Middle East Studies.
o William Safire of the New York Times and an avid supporter of Ariel Sharon
o And Perle associate, Robert Bartley, who is the editor of the Wall Street Journal.
The Christian Fundamentalist connection
o Extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalists, who now control Bush’s Republican Party include:
o Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, who got a jet plane as a present from Menachem Begin, former prime minister of Israel.
o Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and the Christian Broadcasting Network, which help to finance the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem of J.W. van der Hoeven, an organisation that supports the settlers and their right-wing allies.
Last but not least we have General Jay Garner, an ideological partner of Paul Wolfowitz and the neo-conservatives, who has been appointed head of the occupying forces in Iraq. In 2001, he signed a petition organized by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, praising the Israeli Army for ‘remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority,’ After leaving the army in 1997, he became a defense contractor specializing in missiles. This year he obtained a defense contract for $ 1.5 billion, as well as a contract for building Patriot systems in Israel.
It is important to note the role of the mass media in this gallery of rogues as it includes influential writers on the main mouthpieces for US imperialism, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and of course, Murdoch’s Fox News Network. (For more on the media’s role in pumping up the war, see http://www.fair.org/ )
But will it work?
On paper, the USUK/Israeli alliance looks fine. Taken together, the military might of the alliance has no opposition. And with Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, a Sword of Damocles hanging over the captive populations of the Arab world, who is to stop them? Yet of course, the world has changed. USUK/Israel can no longer count on the EU and global opposition to the warmongers plans is almost total. Yet is this enough to reign in the ambitions of the imperialists? If it’s simply down to military might, it’s obviously no contest.
The question we must ask is whether or not USUK can carry out its plans using only its military dominance? The US economy is in dire straights. Indeed Western capitalism is in the throes of a crisis comparable only to the Crash of 1929. They are moreover, divided along a fault line which hinges along the issue of global warming and the potential environmental catastrophe the planet faces. A catastrophe which in no small part, is the result of unrestrained consumption, primarily by the US. In 1990, when the first climate conference took place in Rio, it is instrumental to note that it was the countries of Europe which first took on board the longer term implications of climate change, led by the then Chancellor Kohl of Germany. And in spite of all the fine words at the time, Clinton and later Bush Snr wouldn’t back them up with deeds. At first sight, it might appear that the issue of the planet’s biosphere and the imperialist ambitions for global domination are unconnected, yet the two are intimately linked through oil. The fault line then is the future of the capitalist economies and it’s the crossroads at which Europe as a whole and the US part company.
Where does the UK fit into this game plan? Again, at first sight it’s difficult to determine what the Blair government stands to gain from its involvement. My own inclination is to put it down to tired old white men trying to recreate the empire of their dreams. For whatever the rationale was in the beginning of this disaster, it no longer holds. Are the interests of British capital tied to Europe or to the US? Blair has to decide. As it stands, he risks being caught in the middle of a game he’s just not up to playing as he is now in the league of the big guys.
Current events back up my thesis. As the post-war scenario unravels, it’s clear that the Blair government is increasingly uneasy about the route the US warmongers are taking, though what he’ll be able to do about it is open to question. Not only because the WMDs have failed to materialize (though I’m sure the US will make sure they ‘turn up’ at some point). But crucially the handling by the USUK occupation forces is revealing to the world just how little they actually care about the Iraqi nation, its people and its culture. The trashing of Iraq’s national heritage while the ‘forces of freedom’ stood by and simply watched an act of cultural genocide being committed, and which is a crime against humanity (along with all the other crimes the USUK invasion has committed) under the UN Convention on Human Rights and the Geneva Convention on War. Already, there is talk of the actual complicity by the USUK occupation forces in this crime. In addition, it’s clear that what actually faced the invading forces, far from being some kind of bloodthirsty army bent on taking over the Middle East and points North, South, East and West was in actuality, the rag tag remains of an army and a country that has been bombed into submission for the past twelve years.
History repeating itself?
The Balfour declaration of 1917, that promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine, was the brainchild of Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury, both architects of British Imperialist ambitions. Palestine was selected because of its strategic position in relation to the Suez Canal and Britain’s control of the canal which it ‘stole’ from the French and the sea routes to its colonial possessions in the Far East.
Richard Perle’s ‘grand plan’ echoes this vision which sees the occupation of the Arab nations and their oil whilst advancing Sharon’s vision of a ‘Greater Israel’. Indeed, Perle has publicly stated this as an objective.
What can we do?
First and foremost, inform ourselves. The media onslaught on both sides of the Atlantic is formidable with even the supposedly anti-war London Independent going with the flow. To give you a taste of the kind of double-speak we have to deal with, here are just a few statements from today’s (April 16) edition:
Concerning the ‘evidence’ that Colin Powell submitted to the UN in February on intelligence material ‘proving’ that Iraq had acquired uranium (yellowcake) from an African country, the US now admits that it was ‘forged by a Western intelligence agency, possibly MI6 or Mossad.’ The Independent incredulously states the following:
‘The obvious question is: if President Hussein had such weapons, why didn’t he use them?’
Duh? Obvious question? Surely the obvious question to ask is why did MI6 or Mossad forge them in the first place and, why did Powell choose to use information that was so obviously a forgery? Could it be because in order to justify the invasion of a sovereign state is was necessary to invent a reason? And if so, why doesn’t the Independent (independent?) ask this question?
Or, here’s another classic piece of newspeak:
‘But what precedent has the Iraq war set for solving the problems of WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] in other countries such as North Korea, Iran or Pakistan?’
But why no mention of Israel? Or indeed firstly the issue of who sold nuclear technology to Pakistan? The US of course. And in relation to Iran; what WMDs?
And given all the crocodile tears spilt over Hussein’s treatment of Shia and Kurdish minorities, it has this to say without breaking its stride:
‘Any Shia rebellion is likely to be crushed by America and its sponsored Iraqi forces [My emph. WB], just as Saddam and his predecessors did in previous times.’
Crushed? What like Saddam crushed them? One of the reasons I thought USUK went to war for in the first place was to put a stop to this kind of behaviour!
Or finally, the issue of the Iraqi National Congress, headed by convicted felon Ahmed Chalabi (he embezzled $70 million from the Jordanian-based Petra bank and was sentenced to 22 years hard labour in abstentia) about which the Independent says:
‘…the most visible [in Iraq] exile opposition group before the war…’
Visible? Who says? The Pentagon that’s who. Or, if you prefer, let the head of the INC in Washington tell us just how visible he or the INC is to the Iraqis:
‘They may not know the man. But he represents their views.’
Oh really? And why no mention of the INC’s connection to US oil interests?
‘The INC is quietly courting the American oil companies. In mid-October, Chalabi had a series of meetings with three major U.S. oil firms in Washington. ‘The oil people are naturally nervous,’ says INC spokesman Zaab Sethna, who took part in the meetings between Chalabi and the oil executives. ‘We’ve had discussions with them, but they’re not in the habit of going around talking about them.’ That’s true. In interviews, oil company officials speak cautiously and only on background about Iraq, laughing nervously at the idea of being quoted. They are extremely wary of associating themselves with the INC or with U.S. war plans for fear of angering Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries in the Persian Gulf. Asked about talks with the INC, one U.S. oil executive blanched, saying, ‘I can’t discuss that, even on background.”
For more on this puppet of US oil interests see http://www.prospect.org/print/V13/21/dreyfuss-r.html from which this extract is taken. If I can find it in about 10 seconds on Google, why can’t the Independent? Perhaps it doesn’t want to?
I could go on but it hardly seems worth it. I’d rather you, the reader use this incredibly powerful tool we have, the Internet, to do your own investigating. After all, I’m not paid to do this, I just have an abiding interest and concern about what happens to the planet I live on.
I am grateful to Uri Avnery an Israeli journalist for some of the source material for this essay. His essays are included in The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent http://www.counterpunch.org/avnery04102003.html