The cease-fire in Lebanon has not stopped the plans for attacking Iran
By Jurgen Elsasser
[This article “Der Kommende Weltkrieg” (The Coming World War) published in: Junge Welt, 9/26/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2006/09-26/014.php?print=1.]
Angela Merkel and her ministers passed out placebos. The deployment of the German army in Lebanon resolved by the Bundestag is a mission with limited mandate and limited duration. Even though the region between the Gaza strip and the Persian Gulf is in flames, the chancellor proclaimed the Good News “The weapons are silent in the Middle East.” “Europe will be a factor for peace in the Middle East in the future,” foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added.
The Israeli surprise attack on Lebanon was only the overture to a far greater battle accor4ding to the will of the war planners in Washington. After many conversations with US politicians and the military, US investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersch who unmasked the Abu Ghraib torture says they see the Israeli attack on Lebanon as a mirror image for what the US intends with Iran. (1)
The dress rehearsal went wrong. Despite the massive air attacks, Hezbollah was hardly weakened militarily. Paradoxically this bankruptcy has not cooled down the war mongering in the Pentagon. Several officers from the supreme command of the US armed forces told Hersch worriedly that the Bush administration judged the bomb war much more positively than was fair. When the smoke fades, they will claim it was a success. They will see themselves confirmed in their plans to attack Iran,” Hersch quotes one general.
In any case, the preparations are underway. The only question is who will take the next step. At the end of August, the Jerusalem Post reported “high-ranking government sources” saw the situation similar to the thirties “when the world tried in vain to appease Hitler.” Now Israel must “take the initiative” “to delay” Iran’s nuclear program. At the beginning of September, Israeli minister Jacob Edri said a military strike against Iran was “inevitable.” The decision will be made in US president George W. Bush’s term in office, Edri said. Last week the Jerusalem Post appealing to a high-ranking Israeli officer said the Israeli supreme command has concentrated its plans on Iran since the end of the Lebanon war. The comeback of Neocons for Michael Ledeen, one of the most aggressive US secret service personnel, is evidence for the necessity of an extensive Middle East war. “If the Israelis carry out a brilliant campaign and kill every Hezbollah terrorist in Lebanon, that would only represent a time delay,” Ledeen writes. “Israel cannot destroy Hezbollah by only fighting in Lebanon just as we cannot stop Iraq and Afghanistan if we only fight there. The destruction of Hezbollah requires a regime change in Damascus. Security in Iraq and Afghanistan demand a regime change in Damascus and Teheran. Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan are not separate conflicts. They are battlefields in a regional war.” (2) Can one still speak of a regional war when the fronts extend over 3000 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Himalayas?
The most important fraction of the US establishment, the so-called neocons, gained more and more influence under president Bush and formulated his doctrine of a so-called worldwide democratization by means of preventive wars. However their star was on the wane in the White House since the increasing problems in Iraq – until the beginning of the Israeli offensive. “The End of the Bush Revolution” was the title of an article in the July/August edition of the influential strategy journal Foreign Affairs. While the rhetoric of the Bush revolution survives, the revolution is over,” the journal declared. In its front-page story on July 17, 2006, Time Magazine wrote similarly about the “end of cowboy diplomacy.” In May 2006 William Kristol, one of the chief theoreticians of the neocons complained in his journal The Weekly Standard: “Many in the US government no longer believe in the Bush doctrine and no longer work on its enforcement.”
The neocons use the Israeli card to save the Bush doctrine. Regardless of its outcome, the Lebanon war represented a “win-win situation” for their further projects, US political scientist Stephen J. Sniegoski explained. “An Israeli success would have been an invitation to finish the project against a weakened Iran. Am Israeli defeat underscores the direct threat represented by Iran and Islamic radicals and the necessity.”
A war against Lebanon was prepared in Jerusalem since 2000. The decision to strike was made relatively suddenly. This explains the many mistakes (as in the planning of reinforcements) that the Israeli army made in preparation and afterwards engendered a wave of protests among the military against their leadership.
June 17-18 when the American Enterprise Institute, one of the neocon think tanks, hosted a conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado may have been a crucial date. Vice-president Dick Cheney met there with the ex-premier and Likud hardliner Benjamin Netanjahu. After his return home, he briefed the leaders of the Israeli government coalition, Ehud Olmert and Simon Peres. They agreed on fabricating a reason for the surprise attack on Lebanon – the so-called kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah militia. Amin Hotelt, former brigadier general of the Lebanese army, claims the soldiers were captured on Lebanese soil. “They were arrested on a street in Attaa el Chaab, 120 meters within Lebanon,” Hotelt told the British daily The Guardian. “There is no fence or sign there. Hezbollah did not press over any demarcation line on Israeli territory. This is an uninhabited forest area that only benefits the resistance (Hezbollah). After the demarcation line was fixed, we blocked off the street. Hotelt’s description coincides with communiqués of Hezbollah and the Lebanese police.
From the start, Washington exploited the Israeli advance for its far-reaching goals. The Americans urged the Israelis “to expand the air attacks to neighboring Syria” (Frankfurt newspaper report referring to Israeli media). (3) Americans “prohibited” Israel from negotiating over the Golan Heights because they “wanted to isolate Syria and torpedo the Assad regime.” (4) After a July 28 meeting with British premier Tony Blair, Bush announced: “More than Lebanon is involved. […] Hezbollah, I firmly believe, is supported by Iran.” Just before US secretary of state Rice had described the current conflict as the “birth-pangs of a new Middle East.”
Kristol who was still depressed in May saw an opportunity coming up again. In an article titled “This is Our War,” he canvassed for a US intervention against “this act of Iranian aggression. America should consider responding “with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.” Why wait? John Podhoretz, son of the neocon progenitor Norman Podhoretz, criticized the reserve of the US and Israel in the “anti-terror war.” Can any war be won when one of the two fighting sides sets limits in this way? “Could the Second World War have been won by Great Britain and the US if these two countries were not ready to siege Dresden with fire-bombs and drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”
That is the reasoning of a megalomaniac criminal, not an isolated opinion. A letter from the highest US generals to the White House in the spring of 2006 shows that the president himself thinks in this direction. They protested against the refusal of their commander-in-chief to exclude the use of nuclear weapons in case of war with Iran and threaten world war and chaos with their detonation. The attacked will strike back if Teheran is changed into a second Hiroshima or only a second Dresden, as Podhoretz imagines. An important will come to Hezbollah, to shoot rockets again at Israel, the most important Middle East ally of the US, this time also Tel Aviv and other populous cities. This was the military purpose of the Israeli aggression. The bombardment for weeks decimated without eliminating the arsenals of the underground organization. The destruction of most highways and bridges leading to Syria considerably weakens its reinforcement capacity. If European Union troops now march to the Lebanese border and cut off gunrunning by the sea route, other loopholes will be closed. One thing should be prevented. In the past, the Teheran leadership did not lose its best weapons. This would happen nolens volens with the approach of the US attacks. The German army – and other European troops – should now prevent this. UN resolution 1701 gives them the “robust mandate” to act and makes them automatically the US auxiliary troops in the southern front of the coming great war. No one should complain if Hezbollah acts correspondingly.
Right after the beginning of the Israeli offensive, the influential US politician Newt Gingrich courting to be a 2006 presidential candidate, said: “We are at the beginning of what I describe as the third world war. Our bureaucracy does not act fast enough and lacks the right attitude. This is the 58th year of the war for Israel’s destruction. […] Later he called North Korea, Iran, the different terrorist organizations, Venezuela and Cuba “proof” for the massive threat.
US officials spoke of the necessity of a new world war right after September 11, 2001. Eliot Cohen first used the term “Fourth World War” on November 20, 2001 in the Wall Street Journal. The triumphant system conflict with the Soviet Union is counted as the third world war. Under Bush senior, Cohen in the Pentagon was responsible for the first official study on the 1991 Iraq war. In February 2002, Podhoretz supplied a detailed argument in the journal Commentary. As the US defeated the fascist powers in the Second World War, occupying Arab states and reeducation them in democracy are now vital. Just before publication of his article, Bush junior in his State of the Union address in January 2002 spoke for the first time of an “axis of evil” counting the very different regimes of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. The term came from a speech-writer David Frum who wrote the 2003 book with Pentagon advisor Richard Perle “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.” Perle and Frum openly admit that Islam is not their theme but opposition to US goals in Arab countries: “religious extremists and lay militants, Sunnites and Shiites, communists and fascists. In the Middle East, these categories merge. They all stream from the same enormous reservoir in an easily inflammable passion.” A call to total war is derived from that. There is no middle course for Americans, only victory or holocaust.”
What drives the neocons? The US has destroyed Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq without bringing any crisis area under its control. In the Balkan, unsolved territorial questions persist. In Afghanistan, war has broken out again and is never ending in Iraq. Nevertheless new fronts open up. Pragmatic imperialists like Zbigniew Brzezinsky, Henry Kissinger and George Soros – all of them anything but angels of peace – turn away and warn of the overreach of power. The military capacities are exhausted and the heavy US indebtedness has reached an unparalleled height.
No territories can be conquered with this running amok, much less pacified and profitably exploited. Consider the example of oil. If the price for black gold was $20 per barrel at the beginning of the4 century, it has risen three-and-a-half times since Bush’s war crusades.
Perhaps permanent disorder is central, not a new order in the world. “Our name is creative destruction,” the neocon Machiavellian Ledeen wrote, “both in our society and abroad. We tear down the old order everyday. […] Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity threatening their traditions (whatever this means).” This sounds just as mad as the visions of a final battle (“Armageddon”) of the end time evangelists in the milieu of Bush junior. Perhaps there is a very profane explanation for the madness: The more the world, especially the Islamic world, sinks into chaos, the higher the price of oil. While industry including American industry suffers, the oil branch profits. This minority fraction in capital dominates in the government in Washington. The president comes from the oil business. The multinational Exxon already named a tanker after the secretary of state. Cheney was chairman of the board of the armament corporation Halliburton for many years. Rumsfeld and Perle did not earn salaries in production of the black gold but as armament lobbyists in the dirty work in the chaos strategy. Do they only want to fill their pockets quite egotistically by setting the whole world on fire?
1 Seymour M. Hersch, Watching Lebanon, The New Yorker, 8/21/2006
2 Michael Ledeen, The Real War… one more time, National Review Online, 8/14/2006
3 Hans-Christian Rossler, Eingeschrankte Moglichkeiten, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9/1/2006
4 Avi Primor, Wege aus dem Klemme, FAZ, 8/29/2006
5 John Podhorenz, Too Nice to Win?, New York Post, 7/26/2006
BACKGROUND: THE NEOCONS – GOALS AND PERSONS
Unlike traditional conservatives with their rather isolationist strategy, the neoconservatives emphasize worldwide interventions. Neoconservatism brought together former leftists in the sixties and infiltrated the Republican Party in the seventies. Under presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush senior, they already had posts in the administration. Since the middle of the nineties, they have planned advancing to the center of power.
In the rough draft “A Clean Break” of 1996, their leading thinkers worked out a strategy of aggression for the Middle East. They proposed to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu abandoning the Oslo policy of negotiating with the Palestinians and reopening the region politically-militarily.
At the beginning, there would be regime change in Iraq. Then the problems in Lebanon, Syria and Iran would be tackled in the second phase. Syria must be forced out of Lebanon. Israel could count on US protection if it “seizes the strategic initiative,” attacks Hezbollah along its northern border and finally Syria and Iran as the real responsible parties.” As we see, things are developing in this direction.
On 80 pages, these plans are revealed in the document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For a New Century” from 2000. The US must gain uncontested superiority over the globe with all possible means including military means. The army must “establish American bases in all Central Asia and the Middle East” and be able “to fight and win in different theaters of war simultaneously.”
This document was worked out by the Project for a New American Century, the most important neoconservative organization founded in 1997. Its signers included William Kristol, Richard Perle, Vice-president Dick Cheney, under-secretary of defense and now president of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, the number 3 person in the Pentagon, Lewis Lobby, Cheney’s chief of staff, later Afghan ambassador Zatmay Khalizad and the current US ambassador John R. Bolton. For a time ten of the 19 PNAC leaders had seats and voices in the Bush administration. They largely ruled the Pentagon under secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In the Democratic Party, ex-senator Joseph Lieberman was one of the Trojan horses of the neocons.