December 15, 2003

Who's Really in Charge at the White House?

Vive le France!

Eric Margolis, Toronto Star: France repeatedly warned the Bush administration against invading Iraq. DGSE, the French intelligence service, had highly placed agents within Saddam Hussein's regime and informed the U.S. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat and would, if invaded, turn into a second Lebanon or West Bank...As a French diplomat observed to me, "Monsieur bin Laden must be tres content."

Restore the Western Alliance, Show Up for Democracy in
2004: Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.commondreams.org/views03/1214-02.htm
Published on Sunday, December 14, 2003 by the Toronto
Sun
Who's Really in Charge at the White House?
by Eric Margolis

PARIS -- As I walked along the elegant Quai d'Orsay,
past France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Talleyrand's wonderfully cynical bon mot about
Napoleon's murder of the Duc d'Enghien kept coming
back to me: "Worse than a crime, it was a blunder."

Napoleon's foreign minister could just as well have
been speaking of Iraq.

France repeatedly warned the Bush administration
against invading Iraq. DGSE, the French intelligence
service, had highly placed agents within Saddam
Hussein's regime and informed the U.S. Iraq had no
weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat and
would, if invaded, turn into a second Lebanon or West
Bank.

Warnings by France and other European powers were
sneeringly dismissed by the war's principal
architects, among them U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz, whose strategy was based in large part
on disinformation from shady defectors and
self-serving sources.

Pro-invasion Americans hurled insults at France for
impeding Washington's rush to war.

Totally wrong about Iraq, Wolfowitz and fellow
neo-cons are now punishing those who were totally
right.

France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Greece, and China -
and maybe or maybe not Canada - were blacklisted from
$18.6 billion US of "reconstruction" contracts in
Iraq.

The laughable reason: "To protect the essential
security interests of the United States." Albania and
Uzbekistan are approved vendors.

"Reconstruction" is a euphemism for repairing massive
damage inflicted on Iraq, formerly the Arab world's
most developed nation, by a decade of crushing
American-led sanctions and bombing.

French diplomats at the Quai d'Orsay are asking
whatever happened to Colin Powell, who is supposed to
head U.S. foreign policy? Wolfowitz seems to be
running foreign as well as Defense policy now. The
hapless Powell has been demoted to messenger.

Banning staunch allies like France and Germany from
rebuilding Iraq is not only foolishly vindictive and
ham-handed, it is downright stupid, a condition now
epidemic at the Pentagon's highest civilian echelons.

America's affronted allies, facing domestic outrage
over this insult, must now take overt or covert
counter-action, worsening U.S.-European relations.

Ironically, the spiteful ban undermines intense U.S.
efforts to draw Europe into the Iraq mess.

All this could have been done quietly.

Instead, Wolfowitz created an unnecessary
trans-Atlantic fracas that again shows the alarming
diplomatic ineptitude and political crassness of the
Bush administration. Embarrassingly, the American
blacklist was issued just as Bush was calling European
leaders, trying to get them to forgive Iraq's huge
debts. The president was left red-faced. Many wondered
who really was running the administration.

The exclusion of some of America's oldest friends from
Iraq underlines the point that the U.S. invasion was
really motivated by big oil and big business, rather
than the faux war on terrorism or Baghdad's
non-existent unconventional weapons.

Few people realize how important the occupation of
oil-rich Iraq is to America's
military-industrial-petroleum complex, a major
financial backer of Bush and the Republican party.
Defense spending, spurred by the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq, will reach $3.1 trillion US over the next
two years - the same amount, in constant dollars, the
U.S. spent on World War II!

Much of this bonanza will go to traditional Defense
contractors. But a growing share will flow to U.S.
firms engaged in privatized military and imperial
functions. Halliburton, VP Dick Cheney's old firm, got
a sweetheart contract to pump and export Iraqi oil.

Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, builds and
runs U.S. military bases in Iraq, and other nations,
supplying food, cleaning, water, sewage and power.

Other little-known firms with close links to the Bush
administration have over 10,000 "civilian" (read
ex-military) contractors in Iraq. They receive
billions of dollars to train Iraq's new U.S.-run
police and army, create security forces, field
mercenary units and "protect" the U.S.-installed
figurehead in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. In fact, a
third of this year's $87 billion allocated for Iraq,
Afghanistan and Central Asia will be spent on U.S.
private military contractors.

For these members of the military-industrial complex,
Iraq is a gold mine. Pentagon plans to create three
major, permanent bases in Iraq and link them to new
U.S. bases in Central Asia - what I call America's
imperial oil route - will guarantee decades of
lucrative work and generous funding for the Republican
party.

The French, who have a long history of knocking off
puppet African rulers who get out of line, have no
great moral qualms about U.S. military intervention in
Iraq, but they view Iraq as a legitimate sphere of
European economic influence. Paris is furious
Washington is elbowing Europe out of this rich market
and stirring up an Islamic hornet's nest against the
West.

There are at least five million impoverished Muslims
in France living on the edge of society, 40% of them
under 20 years of age - fertile ground for unrest and
violence.

Washington may eventually back down over the Iraq
contract dispute. Yet each week, the Bush
administration seems to finds new ways to antagonize,
alienate, and infuriate Europe and the Muslim world.

As a French diplomat observed to me, "Monsieur bin
Laden must be tres content."

Copyright 2003, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc

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Posted by richard at December 15, 2003 09:54 AM