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3 May 2003  |     mail this article   |     print   |   
This article is part of the series: Is Syria on the same list as Iraq?
[ 1 - 2 ]
Long before September 11, 2001 Iraq was a target
Is Syria on the same list as Iraq? - 1
Powell visits Syria for 'tough talks', writes MSNBC today: '“I am here to pursue diplomacy and mutual political efforts that both sides can be taking. So the issue of war hostilities is not on the table”'. Nevertheless, Syria is worried. In order to see to what extent it is justifiable to think that Syria is on the same list as Iraq and can expect an attack, it is good to study the onset of the war with Iraq. Because there is a direct connection.
The Dutch in this article has been translated into English by Marienella Meulensteen.

By Daan de Wit

In retrospect, the onset of the last - or better put - most recent Gulf war, could have easily been predicted on the basis of two documents.

Proposals that were 'nuts' at that time...
Document 1. The first document takes center stage in the documentary The War Behind Closed Doors from PBS-Frontline. The documentary is about the remarkable similarity between the National Security Strategy of the current American administration and the draft document from 1992, authored primarily by the current Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. That draft document, the Defense Planning Guidance, is 'a strategy document that advocated that the U.S. maintain its position as the sole superpower after the Cold War and included the first mention of preemptive intervention to prevent countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction -- and how published reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times led to an international and domestic outcry', as stated by (paraphrased by Frontline) Barton Gellman of The Washington Post in the documentary. The secret report was leaked to, among others, Gellman: 'It did get out because, inside the U.S. defense planning establishment, there were people who thought this thing was nuts, and they wanted a public debate about it. That's why they talked to me, and that's why they talked with the New York Times.'

... are part of Bush's National Security Strategy
You can once again see this madness of the preventive attack in the National Security Strategy of the current American administration: '"You simply have to lay the documents side by side and you will see huge areas in which they're the same", he says, "and frankly, very few in which there are striking differences", according to Gellman. There is also little difference to be found between the players on the field then and now. The ones who were responsible for the Defense Planning Guidance back then are now members of the administration. 'Now you have to remember, these are exactly the same people who are most influential right now in the U.S. government, and in the formation of U.S. strategic policy. It's Dick Cheney as defense secretary. It's Paul Wolfowitz as undersecretary [of defense] for policy. And it's a guy named Scooter Libby who is, right now, Dick Cheney's chief of staff and chief strategist, who was deputy to Paul Wolfowitz. They were the three drafting authorities for this Guidance. [...] Well, Cheney is vice president now. Wolfowitz is number two at Defense Department. These people have had enormous influence in drafting President George W. Bush's key strategic concept for the world. Whereas a political fury in 1992 required them to back off, that hasn't happened this time'.

The same players, the same proposals in 1998 and 2000
Document 2. The second document comes from the PNAC, the Project for the New American Century (see also this site that criticizes the PNAC). In 2000, the Rebuilding America's Defenses publicized a report (PDF) that was preceded two years earlier by a letter to President Clinton. 'In 1998, 18 prominent conservatives wrote a letter to President Clinton urging him to "aim at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power". Most of these experts are now officials in the administration, including Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitrage, John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz', writes Joseph Cirincione, Senior Associate and Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Cirincione's article is a first-rate overall picture of how the PNAC's theory turned into practice thanks to Bush: 'The Project had organized the 1998 letter to Clinton and the 2000 report seems to have become a blueprint for the administration's foreign and defense policies'.

What was missing then, was there in 2001: Bush and a new Pearl Harbor
ABC writes: 'In open letters to Clinton and GOP congressional leaders the next year [1998], the group called for "the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power" and a shift toward a more assertive U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the use of force if necessary to unseat Saddam. And in a report [Rebuilding America's Defenses] just before the 2000 election that would bring Bush to power [subtle!], the group predicted that the shift would come about slowly, unless there were "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor". That event came on Sept. 11, 2001. By that time, Cheney was vice president, Rumsfeld was secretary of defense, and Wolfowitz his deputy at the Pentagon.' The interpretation of these facts comes from the American Free Press: '“The process of transformation,” the plan [the report by PNAC from 2000] said, “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” American Free Press asked Christopher Maletz, assistant director of the PNAC about what was meant by the need for “a new Pearl Harbor”. “They needed more money to up the defense budget for raises, new arms, and future capabilities”, Maletz said. “Without some disaster or catastrophic event” neither the politicians nor the military would have approved", Maletz said.'

September 11th: 'Target Iraq'
The plans of the neo-conservatives called for a new Pearl Harbor in order to be realized. After Bush did not win the elections but had seized power, the new Pearl Harbor arrived on September 11th and the plans could be put into action. Joseph Cirincione writes: 'Immediately after September 11, Paul Wolfowitz and other officials urged President Bush to attack Iraq. New Yorker writer Mark Danner notes as part of a PBS Frontline special that they saw this as a "new opportunity presented by the war, on terror - that is, an opportunity to argue to the public that Iraq presented a vital danger to the United States"'. CBS in an article with the headline: 'Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11': 'CBS News has learned that barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.' Cirincione concludes his article: 'Now, for [Bush], regime change in Iraq is not the end, it is just the beginning.'


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