The U.S. justifications for attacking Iraq?which have metamorphosed into just one today, and that is, to “liberate” the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein?have not been convincing except to the converted.

The United States tried but failed to connect the Iraqi government to Osama bin Laden?s Al Qaeda. Its claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction the U.N. weapons inspections roundly contradicted, and U.S. troops now in Iraq have found not a trace of the biological, chemical and nuclear weapons the U.S. claims Saddam Hussein is either developing or has stockpiled. It has also been argued that if the possession of weapons of mass destruction were grounds enough for regime change, Israel, which has a nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenal, is a better candidate for U.S. invasion.

The argument that Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator who has killed and tortured his own people and should be removed from power by force has not been particularly convincing either. It?s not because the Butcher of Baghdad is no dictator, but because the world teems with many others. Some of them, like Saddam himself, were U.S.-supported and armed. Others are still in the U.S. pantheon of allies and clients.

Despite world-wide skepticism over the truth of U.S. claims, and despite their being contradicted by a vast universe of contrary facts, the United States has nevertheless seemed determined to attack Iraq. George W. Bush?s determination was evident from the day he identified Iraq as one of those countries that together with Iraq and North Korea comprised “the axis of evil.” It was persistently and transparently obvious as the debate over Iraq progressed.

Now that it has finally invaded, the U.S. attack has stalled, though only momentarily, says the U.S. military. The war?s not going the way as predicted by Bush?s armchair warriors?referred to as chicken hawks in certain U.S. media circles?led by the Donald Rumsfeld has resulted in Bush?s declaration that the U.S. will do what it takes and however long it takes to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

These suggest that it?s not the facts that drove the U.S. to attack Iraq, and not the facts?whether it be world opposition, its own constituents? desires, the growing list of civilian casualties, or the casualties U.S. forces are likely to take?that will keep its forces fighting urban guerillas and Saddam?s regular forces, foul weather, and the vagaries of its own technological superiority.

What drove it to Iraq, and what will keep the U.S. there until Iraq is in ruins and Iraqi dead runs into the tends of thousands is something else. That something else is a blueprint, of which the attack on Iraq is a small but indispensable part.

The blueprint is called “Rebuilding America?s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” It is a report completed in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a far-right think tank that includes, among other founding members, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
(see www.newamerican AmericasDefenses.pdf)

PNAC describes itself as a “nonprofit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.” According to its Statement of Principles, however, its main concern is to provide the U.S. with “the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades,” and to provide it “the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests.”

For these purposes, the U.S. requires “a military that is strong and ready to meet 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.”

The lengthy Report (90 pages) was completed before George W. Bush came to power, but it is obvious that the PNAC report assumed that “the national leadership that accepts the United States? global responsibilities” would be Bush.

The Report envisions a global Pax Americana?i.e., “maintaining global U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with U.S. principles and interests.” This strategy must be advanced “as far into the future as possible.” What?s more, the U.S. must have the capability to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” to extend U.S. power throughout the planet.

The Report emphasizes military strength as the means to achieve and secure U.S. global dominance (“preeminence” is its preferred euphemism), and identifies four “core missions” for the U.S. military: (1) defend the American homeland, (2) fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars, (3) perform the “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions,” and (4) transform the U.S. forces to exploit the revolution in military affairs brought about by technological advances.

Towards these ends, the Report urges the U.S. to maintain U.S. nuclear superiority , build up the personnel strength of the U.S. forces, develop a global missile defense system, and control both cyber space as well as outer space (it proposes the creation of a U.S. Space Forces whose mission will be to control space).

These means should assure the United States “full spectrum” dominance in land, sea, air and space. Interestingly, it also calls for “shifting permanently based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia,” where the Philippines is located. (Once host to U.S. bases, the Philippines since 2001 has opened its territory to U.S. forces, and allowed the construction of “temporary” facilities for them.)

Where does Iraq fit into all this?
The Report speaks of “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf? (which) transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The Report in fact admits that what is envisioned is for the U.S. “to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security.” To achieve this, “the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification” for moving U.S. forces into the region.

In short: Saddam Hussein is an excuse to deploy U.S. troops, and their sea and aircraft and other equipment into the Gulf region, so the U.S. military will have “a more permanent role.” That role is likely to be not only that of playing the region?s “constabulary” by intervening in the countries where the U.S. believes its interests are under threat or potentially under threat. It will also include that of achieving “regime change” in countries other than Iraq.

In the short term, securing the Gulf region will assure the U.S. a virtually unlimited supply of oil (U.S. oil reserves are currently at their lowest in decades) as its multinationals exploit that resource. In the long term it will mean a region reshaped by military force into docile states more agreeable to the U.S. and its ally Israel, whose long term survival as the dominant state in the region will also be assured. It will have strategic significance as well by assuring the U.S. permanent access to the oil resources its military needs to fuel its land, sea and aircraft.

The emphasis on developing the U.S. military?s multi-theater capability?meaning its ability to fight two or more wars simultaneously?is premised on the need to force other states hostile to it in line. The U.S. has already identified two of those states as Iran and North Korea, which in PNAC circles are assumed to be the next U.S. targets for “regime change” or some form of military, including nuclear, attack. The pretext would be that North Korea poses a danger to the United States because it has nuclear weapons, and that Iran harbors terrorists.

Bush laid down the premises for the attack on Iraq and other states in his address at West Point last year, in which he claimed for the United States the right to launch preemptive attacks on those countries that in its view could threaten it. The Bush doctrine has since expanded to include the U.S.? first use of nuclear weapons?a departure from the policy of nuclear deterrence of previous U.S. administrations.

In the context of the PNAC blueprint, the US invasion of Iraq is both a test as well as a first step in the implementation of the breathtakingly arrogant, dangerous and globally destabilizing policy the U.. has adapted. What happens in Iraq would be, in U.S. calculations, the turning point for remaking the Middle East and eliminating potential rivals and hostile regimes. As one right-wing U.S. academic put it, “Does anyone really believe that we will not do anything about North Korea and other ?rogue states??”

After Iraq, the prospect for this century would thus be more war, including the distinct possibility of nuclear war so the world?s only remaining superpower can gain total control over the entire planet. Today, Iraq. Tomorrow: the world.

(, April 3, 2003)

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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