Spilling the Beans

We've now got access to the neocon thinking from inside the US government courtesy of General Wesley Clark. It looks like it has been available for some time, but I've only recently found it.

As I expected, their thinking is largely in line with mine - and completely logical - and has nothing at all to do with oil. Clark calls it "cockamamie", due to his completely different worldview, but it is intensely sensible from my worldview.

Basically it starts with the Cold War. During the Cold War there were tinpot dictators causing us grief by aligning with the despotic Soviet Union. Those dictators should all have been brought to justice at the end of the Cold War. Unfortunately, the Cold War didn't have a swift end, and to this day the Russians are still pointing their nuclear weapons at the free world.

Negotiating some sort of soft ending to the Cold War has been a tortuous process, and still continues today. It was only in 2004 that the Baltics were secured in NATO. In 1991, we were not in a position to bring justice to the Middle Eastern dictators, but that's what the neocons (including me) wanted to do. This is an instinctive reaction when fighting a war.

So they wanted to "clean up the Middle East", but were constrained by the fact that the Soviet Union was peacefully collapsing and while progress was being made, they didn't want to interfere with a good thing by spooking the Russians. Then at the end of 1992 they lost control of the US government and didn't get it back until the beginning of 2001. My guess is that if it hadn't been for 9/11, they would have continued to sit on their hands on this, as Europe was not yet fully secured (notably the Balkans weren't in NATO).

9/11 provided an opportunity. An excuse for taking wide-ranging action now. Hopefully that action wouldn't interfere with securing the Balkans, but even if it did, that was a risk worth taking given the opportunity offered by 9/11 which shouldn't be squandered. There was a chance to turn Afghanistan away from a horrible regime that beat women, and there was an opportunity to finish off Saddam - someone who wouldn't even listen to US bombs. And depending on the success of Iraq, there were many more opportunities available - they named Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iran. And the idea was to convert these countries to allies of the free world before some other superpower (like China) came along and converted these countries to be their own allies. Once again - an opportunity not to be squandered.

Of course, as we now know, it's not a simple matter to get these strange people to change sides. In fact it wasn't even simple just to let them choose their own path via democracy. Some people (ie Sunni rejectionists) opposed the establishment of democracy, preferring instead to have some Sunni ruler installed by force. So that was a real spanner in the works of dealing with the remnants of the Cold War. However, that spanner is the same spanner that caused 9/11, so it needs to be dealt with regardless, and Iraq was the ideal place for a mixture of Arab Sunnis, Arab Shiites and Kurdish Sunnis to forge a peaceful liberal democracy together (which would in turn would hopefully not be hostile towards the US). An experiment in nation-building. An experiment that didn't work out as well as hoped, but it's a hell of a lot better than the worst-case scenario (complete rejection of democracy, less than 5% turnout at elections, 95% supporting insurgency against the US invaders and anyone who tries to sign up to new security forces, Sistani declaring jihad, Islamic radicals getting elected).

Clark made another point - that the neocons didn't know how to deal with terrorism, but did have a US military that was capable of toppling governments, and that if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. There is a lot of truth in that. Us neocons instinctively see that tinpot anti-American dictators cannot be a good thing in the world, and we want to topple them using our available militaries. There is no direct equation that says that toppling those dictators will reduce terrorism. But it is hoped that by doing something that makes the world a better place (end of cruel dictators), that it will by some means (not yet fully understood) have a knock-on effect of reducing the causes of terrorism. So we want to see what the world looks like with the dictators gone, so that we can reevaluate. Maybe that reevaluation will lead to a realization that the British had it right with their empire after all - and these nations should never have been allowed to become independent actors as they are inherently anti-western. Whatever. First knock over the dictators. Then reevaluate. The reevaluation may actually come to the conclusion that genocide is required. Whatever. First knock over the dictators. Then reevaluate.

You need to understand the neocon paradigm if you don't want to get trapped in your silly rut of "they did it for the oil", with no evidence of a single drop of oil being stolen, with all the US troops gone in less than a month, and no evidence of any war supporters at all (not even 1%) saying "I did it for the oil" any more than they said "I did it for the sunflower seeds".

One last point - Clark says that we don't need this to become World War 3. This is him speaking from his different paradigm, where the absence of war is considered to be the goal. Rather than forging a free world to be considered the goal. World War 3 is a good thing - it shows that we're actively working the problem instead of being apathetic about state-slavery.

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