Then US President George W. Bush. His Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. His Vice President, Richard Chaney. His Chief Political Adviser, Karl Rove.
These were some of the lords of destruction who engineered the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But they were not the brains behind it but merely the executors. For a look at the theoreticians and ideologues of unabashed imperialism, one has to go to a document called Rebuilding America’s Defenses, which was prepared by the neo-conservatives of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
PNAC was established in 1997 as a supposedly “educational” foundation, but was actually organized to push the Reagan-era program of aggressively advancing US interests worldwide with every means possible including war and the first use of nuclear weapons.
Its stated goal was “to promote American global leadership,” on the assumption that “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world.” That claim has since been proven to be not only incredibly arrogant but also exceedingly false. The evidence is clear in the current state of the world: the consequences of US intervention, whether under Republican or Democratic Party leadership, have been ghastly for those parts of the world it has sought to control.
In September 2000, or two months before George W. Bush won the US presidential elections in November that year, PNAC released Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century, which was essentially a blueprint for world domination (euphemistically described as “full spectrum dominance”). The report argued that the US “should seek to preserve and extend its position of global leadership by maintaining the (global) preeminence of US military forces.”
Its assumptions and conclusions are ludicrous and even laughable today. It claimed that US hegemony, or “the American peace,” “has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable. It has, over the past decade, provided the geopolitical framework for widespread economic growth (!) and the spread of the American principles of liberty and democracy (sic!).”
The report declared that the US needs “a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.”
While that sounds like a description of what was then already happening, the report went even farther, arguing that “it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire (underscoring mine). The report also suggested that among the “core missions” of the US military should be that of fighting and winning “multiple, simultaneous theater wars.”
In compliance with the need to strike preemptively before crises and threats emerge, the report declared that “the (then) unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification” for US military presence in the Persian Gulf, but that “retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.” Translation: attack Iraq, and stay in the region.
Days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, PNAC urged regime change in Iraq, arguing in a letter to George W. Bus that “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”
Iraq indeed had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001 attacks, but among its misfortunes is that it has the fifth largest proven oil reserves in the world at 150 billion barrels. The 9/11 attacks on the US (incidentally, by Saudi, not Iraqi nationals) provided the Bush administration and the neo-conservatives behind him the excuse to attack Iraq on the public pretext that Saddam Hussein was harboring terrorists and was armed with weapons of mass destruction. The real purpose was to grab Iraqi oil resources and to justify a larger and permanent US military presence in the Middle East.
PNAC and its willing partners in the Bush administration are immediately responsible for what has since happened in Iraq, which today is in mortal danger not only of disintegration, but also of falling into the hands of Islamic militants even more extreme than the late Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. But the policy of every US administration of imposing its will across the planet in furtherance of its imperial and economic interests is the ultimate culprit.
Although under a brutal dictatorship, Iraq before the US invasion in 2003 was a secular, non-Islamist state, and relatively stable despite constant bombing by the US during the Clinton administration. Despite US claims, it harbored no terrorist groups and no longer possessed the chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction the US and Britain claimed was a danger to themselves and the world. The 2003 US invasion of a then sovereign state destroyed not only its political and economic structure; it also cost hundreds of thousands of civilian lives—and not incidentally turned Iraq into a terrorist haven wracked by sectarian conflict.
But Iraq is only a more recent example of how US intervention has not only made the world an even more dangerous place. It has also cost millions of lives and destroyed entire societies–and achieved exactly the opposite of what US ruling circles claimed they intended (democracy, stability, prosperity, modernity). In Libya and Syria as in Afghanistan, the consequences of US intervention have been, for the population, ever higher levels of violence and an uncertain future.
The world order on which the US claims overlordship is characterized by great disorder. In virtually every country in which it has sought to impose its will—whether through subversion, armed intervention, or conspiracy with local elites and their military allies— the result has been the same: destabilization, violence, and the destruction of entire societies.
Barack Obama’s administration has hardly changed US policy intentions, only the means to accomplish them. Obama has authorized thousands of air strikes in Afghanistan and hundreds of drone attacks in Somalia, Yemen, and even in Pakistan, supposedly a US ally. He has also launched “proxy wars” of subversion and clandestine operations in Libya and Syria.
This is the country to whose government the Aquino administration has practically surrendered Philippine sovereignty, entrusting to it the country’s defense against external aggression, and providing its troops unrestricted access to the entire country in whose internal affairs the US can at any time intervene in furtherance of its imperial interests as it did in Iraq, and as it is still doing in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in the countries of Africa and Latin America.
First published in BusinessWorld.