A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)
posted 12 Oct 04
National Security Conversations We Won't Have Before November 2nd
There are some topics relating to American national security that neither candidate will address before the election. Or afterwards, for that matter.
The Bush team is exhibiting a fiery and vocal hostility not seen from an administration in thirty years, since Nixon announced his resignation in 1974. In the end, Richard Nixon was personally cognizant that his bad decisions and illegal actions had rendered his continued service both politically impossible and hurtful to the United States. Ironically, this image of Richard Nixon reminds us of a gentler, more honorable Republic.
Bush-Cheney hostility and tough talk on defense matters should not be confused with a real concern for national security. Bush and Cheney have undeniable evidence from their own people that their public rationale for the Iraq adventure in occupation and political puppetry – protecting America from WMD and terror – was false and politically fabricated. Yet Bush and Cheney seem robotically content to repeat those false rationales ad nauseum. War in Iraq to secure America was never more than hostility and tough talk, and it remains so today.
Clearly, vocal belligerence is not courage. Bush and Cheney seem deathly afraid to publicly explain exactly why we are occupying Iraq. They have yet to discuss the true reasons we will be conducting regional operations from our brand new military bases throughout Iraq for the next several decades. Bush and Cheney have yet to explain why they are constructing the world's largest embassy in Baghdad. They have not yet enlightened us as to why they diverted precious military resources from the hunt for Osama bin Laden to pursue other agendas in Iraq, and in fact why the al Qaeda top leader is no longer even the top priority in Afghanistan.
Americans will not be engaged this year in a national discussion of why we are in Iraq. We see now that it wasn't WMD, or even terrorism. More terrorism and more deadly viciousness against Americans and our allies emanates from Iraq than was ever imagined, even by this panicky administration. It was certainly not the possibility of Iraqi democracy that drove us to topple Saddam Hussein, as the very existence and subsequent performances of our handpicked successors Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi confirm. Ignoring our obvious marionettes, we would still have to address the hypocrisy of our hands-off treatment of dictatorial, non-democratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, allies in the so-called war on terror and counter-proliferation of WMD.
We are in Iraq because Bush, Cheney and their neoconservative advisors wanted regional bases outside of Saudi Arabia – a courtesy to our friends in the House of Saud, or possibly an opening for a later assault on their eastern oil fields. We are in Iraq because any post-sanctions trade environment under Saddam Hussein would have shut United States and United Kingdom companies completely out, in favor of Asian, Russian and European companies. Establishmentarians in Washington sought to avoid this terrible tragedy. That Saddam Hussein had long before 9-11 decided to sell his oil for euros instead of dollars was something Bush quickly corrected in May 2003 with a simple executive order.
As a people, as a democratic nation, or as a republic, we will not discuss Iraq. Likewise, Americans will not be engaged this year, or next, in a discussion about the real situation in Afghanistan, a troubled country now holding "free elections." Americans will certainly not participate in any discussion of the security that tax-funded American troops are providing free of charge to American and allied companies investing in the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline.
There is one other major American national security topic that will not be addressed, either before or after the election. The two year FBI investigation into the workings of the senior Pentagon Middle East policy leadership, specifically relating to the possibility of undue influence of Israeli political and security operatives, has been spiked by the Bush administration. American casualties resulting from the invasion of Iraq (1,075 killed, 7,531 wounded from March 2003 to October 2004) have surpassed Israeli casualties (1,026 killed, 6,665 wounded from 27 September 2000 – 01 September 2004) in the four year Intifada. There is clear linkage between these two events. Our Middle East policies – most specifically the shifting of attention and resources from the destruction of al Qaeda to the destruction of the secular dictator in Iraq – stink to high heaven of foreign influence, specifically that from Tel Aviv and well meaning but narrowly focused friends of Likud now working as Bush administration appointees. Israeli involvement in developing interrogation techniques in our new gulag of military prisons from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the Bush implementation of key aspects of advice developed by American policy designers for key Israeli politicians in the 1990's, and the recent gift of 5000 smart bombs to Israel span the spectrum of undue influence by a foreign power.
George W. Bush abandoned the Israel-Palestinian peace process, sending a message to the region and the world long before 9-11 about where American truly stands on issues of democracy, human rights, economic opportunity, and self-determination. He talked about enforcing UN Security Council resolutions in justifying the invasion of Iraq, yet his uncritical embrace of Israel's willful defiance of similar resolutions makes him appear insincere.
Happily for most Americans, neither candidate will bore us with any semblance of a conversation on the real reasons for our long term presence under fire in Iraq, our security arrangements amidst the warlords and poppy fields in Afghanistan, and major Middle Eastern policy decisions derived and heavily influenced by the interests of one small but militarily powerful Middle Eastern ally.
The Kerry/Edwards team will not break the silence on these American national security questions. They aim for the prize of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by appealing to voters as the wise and thoughtful belligerents on national security, as opposed to the rash and ill-informed incumbents. During this electoral cycle, small talk rules. Politely ignoring the elephants in the corners is all the rage.
These national conversations on Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will not occur for some time. When they do, it will signify the beginning of a re-invigorated national morality, a long overdue retreat from empire, and a clear sign that the party is over.
© 2004 Karen Kwiatkowski