“No one starts a war--or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so--without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.”
-- Carl von Clausewitz
Two years after the fall of Baghdad, and despite the Pentagon's blitz of the political talk shows last weekend, we still don't have the answers to two basic questions: what did we hope to achieve by invading Iraq, and how do we intend to achieve it?
According to US Central Command chief General John Abizaid, "the troops" need for Americans to know why we're fighting in Iraq, and what we're fighting for, and how we're going to win. But things are so complicated over there that he can't explain them to us in the "common sense" necessary for us to talk about it back home.
Any strategy that's too complicated to explain is too complicated to work, and a strategy without specific goals is no strategy at all. Can it really be that the Bush administration has committed us to an aimless, never-ending war? Or does it have specific aims in mind that it doesn't want to tell us about? If the latter is the case, what might those aims be?
A cursory look through the web site of the neo-conservative think tank Project for the New American Century provides some interesting clues. The PNAC--whose members included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and others presently in key Bush administration positions--called for President Clinton to unilaterally remove Saddam Hussein from power in January of 1998.
The PNAC letter to Clinton stated that if Saddam acquired weapons of mass destruction, "a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard." (Let's see, now, what was Dick Cheney doing around the time he was helping the PNAC formulate this policy? Oh, that's right--he was CEO of Halliburton, wasn't he? Gee. You think there's a connection?)
Also at hazard, the letter stated, would be "our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states." What better way would there be to protect our friends and allies in the Middle East than to establish permanent military facilities--maybe 14 of them--in the geographic heart of the region? Militarily, this would gives us a secure base of operations with interior lines of communication and diverging lines of operation directly into Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. And combined with our bases in Afghanistan, we'd literally have Iran surrounded.
What better way to, as the PNAC put it back in June of 1997, to establish and secure "American global leadership?"
America's first president was a guy named George who could not tell a lie. Tonight, another president named George will address the nation on network television--before an adoring audience of Army Rangers--to tell us why we're in the war and what we expect to get out of it. Do you think the George we have now will come clean with us?