John Pilger reveals the American plan
16 December 2002
New Statesman (London)
The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the "new Pearl Harbor",
described as "the opportunity of ages". The extremists who have since
exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-
right groups and "think-tanks" were established to avenge the
American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added
agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the
cold war. The Project for the New American Century was formed, along
with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and
others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan
administration with those of the current Bush regime.
One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed
Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total
war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term
again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said.
"This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are
lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do
Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong
way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth,
and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever
diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing
great songs about us years from now."
Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American
Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-
president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy
defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J
Bennett, Reagan's education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's
ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists of American
The PNAC's seminal report, Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy,
forces and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American
aims in all but name. Two years ago it recommended an increase in
arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could "fight and win
multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has happened. It
said the United States should develop "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons
and make "star wars" a national priority. This is happening. It said
that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And
so it is.
As for Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction", these were
dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is.
"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate
justification," it says, "the need for a substantial American force
presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam
How has this grand strategy been implemented?
A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob
Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior
members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was
On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the
hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According
to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a
principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism".
Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary
of state, persuaded Bush that "public opinion has to be prepared
before a move against Iraq is possible". Afghanistan was chosen as
the softer option.
If Jonathan Steele's estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000
people in Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives.
Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In
last April's New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann
wrote that Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she
had called together senior members of the National Security Council
and asked them "to think about 'how do you capitalise on these
opportunities'", which she compared with those of "1945 to 1947": the
start of the cold war.
Since 11 September, America has established bases at the gateways to
all the major sources of fossil fuels, especially central Asia. The
Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush
has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, the war
crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-
ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons
against non-nuclear states "if necessary". Under cover of propaganda
about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is
developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine
international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.
In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin
describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those
run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed.
This "super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the
"CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception".
According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new
organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-
emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks
which would then require "counter-attack" by the United States on
countries "harbouring the terrorists".
In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United States.
This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to
President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist
campaign - complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead
Americans - as justification for an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy
rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has
resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of in 1963 and
with no global rival to invite caution.
You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly
dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The
thread running through their ruminations is the importance of the
media: "the prioritised task of bringing on board journalists of
repute to accept our position".
"Our position" is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have
never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may
laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack
Straw's inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his
minions rushed to "explain"). But the more insidious lies, justifying
an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be terrorists
who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled
as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda.
This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere
ventriloquists' dummies. An attack on a nation of 22 million
suffering people is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a
subject at an academic seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around
a map, as the old imperialists used to do.
The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of
modern imperial domination, but how "bad" Saddam Hussein is. There is
no admission that their decision to join the war party further seals
the fate of perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on
America's international death row. Their doublethink will not work.
You cannot support murderous piracy in the name of humanitarianism.
Moreover, the extremes of American fundamentalism that we now face
have been staring at us for too long for those of good heart and
sense not to recognise them.