Let's be clear, the extent to which those in power will continue to go, in order to avoid accountability for their hawkish behavior regarding Iraq, is absolutely mind-boggling and disgusting. How many more inquiries will it take for the UK to admit that they let Shrub & Co. suck them into a war that nobody wanted - except Shrub & Co.??
As a weekly columnist for a small, daily paper in South Florida, I wrote the following column in March 2003 (I'd link to it, but that's a whole 'nother post - and a huge lesson learned). I've added a couple links and the emphasis to the original column:
An informed populace can change 'the best laid plans of mice and men'
I don't know about you, but for the early part of my "grown up" life, I'd just been trying to live. Actually; live it up is more like it. I went to college, learned a little, partied a lot and graduated with a dream that I took to Washington, D.C. - a dream for which I quickly discovered 1 had not very well prepared myself. Apparently others had partied less and, learned way more than I did.
So, the dream was deferred as I went about the business of supporting myself and exploring my new home, excited anyway that I was finally living in "the big city." After two jobs in two years, I decided the dream had waited long enough and with my newfound maturity, I enlisted in the Navy to get serious about that preparation.
As a result, a whole new world opened up as I found myself tremendously comfortable in a school environment again. The challenge to learn as much as they were willing to teach was easily met. I kind of had my priorities in order this time. I still partied (after all I WAS still in my early 20s), but I was "handlin' my business" like my mother always demanded we do.
I did, however, slip trip and fall quite rapidly, for a quiet, cute, little Navy guy who was back for an intermediate Spanish class. And my world took on yet another face. Partnering with my husband to provide a decent, safe living for our family, working hard to build something to fall back on in our "golden years" and doing the best we could to raise our sons to be honest, honorable men - hopefully sooner rather than later - became more important and I was, again, just trying to live.
The process of accomplishing these goals certainly involved a measure of social consciousness and civic duty tempered with good, old-fashioned "gold-en rule" beliefs. But I had not spent an inordinate amount of time saturating my brain with the global implications of political strategies or the effects of our culture on other cultures of the world and vice-versa. Those doors were merely ajar as I just tried to live.
But the more I worked among others who were on that particular track, I realized that I had to push those doors wide open and begin looking behind them to learn what was going on in the world. But once I peeked, I could never find a way to shut it out again. Today I find myself a voracious reader, news follower, commentary listener, documentary watcher - you name it, I try to get my nose into it.
With current world events in mind and the need to understand for myself how we got here and where we're headed, I decided to go back a bit. You see, I depend on my nosiness to help me make informed decisions about where and for whom to cast my very valuable vote. Here's a thumbnail of what I stumbled upon and if you're half as nosy as I am, you may want to do some of your own digging to help you decide what to do with your very valuable vote in 2004.
It seems that as early as 1991, a small group of Republicans felt that America "didn't finish the job" in the Middle East with the Gulf War, so they set out to plan a strategy to not only accomplish that task, if and when they were again in power, but began drawing up a blueprint for America's nation building and spreading of democracy - one country at a time. The result was the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), founded in 1997 during the Clinton presidency.
PNAC describes itself as, "A non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership."
In a letter to then President Clinton dated Jan. 26, 1998, eighteen PNAC members publicly pushed for unilateral U.S. action against Iraq because "we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition" to enforce the inspections regime.
Curiously, of the 18 people who signed the letter, 10 are now in very influential positions in the Bush administration. They include, Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his Deputy at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz; Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; John Bolton, who is Undersecretary of State for Disarmament; and Zalmay Khalilzad, the White House liaison to the Iraqi opposition and Richard Perle, chairman of the advisory Defense Science Board to name a few along with William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine.
ln that same 1998 letter, the group stated, "The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibillty that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."
Where we are now is a result of what happened in late 1997 while most of us were either just trying to live or were enjoying the fruits of a robust economy with it's billions of surplus dollars. I urge you to become your own type of political policy wonk. Read, listen, watch and dig. Go to PNAC's web site and read for yourself, in their own words, what plans lay ahead for our country. Be as informed a voter as possible as you head for the polls in 2004.
If you don't, just trying to live will be all you have.
I'm sure you'll recognize the rest of the "usual suspects" who put their John Hancock on that letter to Bill back then. As I said in the piece I'm nosy, so it took me hardly any time at all to find that letter back in 2003 when I started digging. If I could find it, you gotta know that the "powers-that-be" in England also knew or could ferret out The Plan. Hell, in this recent Guardian piece - Iraq war inquiry: Britain heard US drumbeat for invasion before 9/11 - seems top Intel guy, Sir Peter Ricketts had at least an inkling (if no cojones):
According to previously leaked documents, Ricketts, political director at the Foreign Office at the time, described the US in 2002 as "scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaida", a link that was "so far frankly unconvincing". He told Jack Straw, then foreign secretary: "We have to be convincing that the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for. Regime change does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam."Seems they should've ignored Shrub & Co.'s bullshit smarmy praise at that "cojones meeting" back in September 2002 and stuck to that grudge match theory - and stayed the hell out of Iraq.