On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.
As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.
We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.
Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.
The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.
To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.
Why not just vote for change?
In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.
Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.
Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.
Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.
Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.
Charting an independent path
The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.
The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government
Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.
There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.
The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.
The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.
The life of I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby is a long, stunning, and sometimes inglorious tale. However, this story for the most part remains a secret saga, a surreptitious legend, even though it is the subject of much scrutiny. Today this chronicle continues. After the esteemed adviser to the Vice President was convicted on criminal charges, and repeatedly told he must serve time in prison, regardless of filing an appeal. President Bush reached out to his fine friend and said you have suffered enough. Indeed, Bush Spares Libby 30-Month Jail Term. Will wonders never cease, or will they ever begin.
Many thought this President’s decision was as expected. After all, the former Chief of Staff Libby is not only liable for sharing State secrets, he is partially responsible for the ‘Rights’ rise to the top. There is ample reason to believe I. Lewis Libby helped get George W. Bush elected. Scooter secured the Intelligence that provided a means for the Bush plan, a war on Iraq. The President and Mister Libby have a long-standing relationship.
Much of the story is yet to be revealed, and we know not whether we will ever have all the details. Nonetheless, we can probe into the past as best as we are able. I. Lewis Libby is not an open book. He does not disclose more than he needs to. However, we do know a bit of his history.
Fortunately, in 2005, Slate Magazine Journalist, John Dickerson furnished a few revelations. Mister Dickerson asked the question that has never fully been answered Who Is Scooter Libby? The response was as mysterious as the man himself. The author noted ‘Scooter’ is a brash Texan who has plotted the President?s advance for twenty-five years. Dickerson went on to explain.
Libby is a neocon’s neocon. He studied political science at Yale under former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and began working with his former teacher under Cheney at the Defense Department during the George H.W. Bush administration, thinking about grand national security strategy in the post-Cold War era.
When a document outlining their thinking leaked to the New York Times, the foreign policy establishment, including many of the more moderate voices in the first Bush administration, howled at its call for pre-emptive action against nations developing weapons of mass destruction. After 9/11, what was once considered loony became the Bush Doctrine.
Libby is not political in the glad-handing way he looks as lost as Cheney at Republican Lincoln Day dinners. But he plays internal politics with force and lack of emotion. If the State Department under Colin Powell hated Dick Cheney, it hated Scooter almost as much, viewing him accurately as a pre-eminent member of the cabal hell-bent for war with Iraq.
It was Libby who sat with Powell in the final session before Powell’s U.N. speech, eyeing every detail to make sure that the Secretary of State didn’t water down the case.
Perchance, adviser Libby did not want the General to expose the errors in Intelligence, if these were ever revealed to Secretary Powell; thus, Scooter was coaching, or is it couching the circumstances. With thanks to Scooter Libby the stage was set. The misperceptions that allowed the United States to begin their assault on any nation these fine fellows thought a threat were spread far and wide. The plan, once labeled ?loony? was ready to implement. The project for a New American Century was ‘moving forward.’
I. Lewis Libby had done his job well. He preformed as a man serving at the pleasure of the President would under similar circumstances. Scooter honored his President. Auspiciously and simultaneously, this convicted felon pleased his pals in the White House, and was able to act in a manner consistent with his own neoconservative philosophy. At least this is what we must believe based on the limited information available to us, the expectant public.
We may never know all the details. This man and his musings are mesmerizing; yet, elusive. However, we can as the conservatives often say, “connect the dots.” We might wish to assess the life of the man or begin with the culminating event that shades so much in this abstract picture. Let us look at a pivotal moment in the life of I. Lewis Libby.
In 1997, the Project for the New American Century was established. Mister Libby was among the original founders. While many know of this organization and speak of its power, most Americans remain oblivious, or at least that is my experience. Only days ago, I mentioned this coalition of neoconservatives to a peace activist, while we stood together speaking of the war. She stated, ?I am not familiar with this alliance, the PNAC.
Please allow me to share the story of how, or when America was changed. You may be among the many citizens that missed this covert operation.
This is a principled group. In the minds of these founding fathers of the New American Century, our foreign policy was without direction or purpose. These twenty plus men and a women or two ?decided? they would lead the nation on a course unlike any other. Instead of promoting peace and diplomacy, these proud neoconservatives would preserve what they believed was America’s superlative superiority with guns in hand.
The supporters of this institute, fine fellows and females, concluded they must remind America, Might makes Right!? and so they did. They created a ‘think tank’ with purpose. Advancing an agenda of American lead global control was the ideology promoted through the ranks, ultimately, again reaching the White House.
Each day as you watch the war, witness your fellow Americans come home in flag-draped coffins, and see civilians casualties increase, contemplate the original plan. Please know that what we are experiencing is not an anomaly. It is the neocon’s righteous strategy, a decent declaration depending on your point of view.
American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America’s role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century.
We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?
We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital — both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements — built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation’s ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead.
We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration’s success: 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.
Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.
Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.
William J. Bennett
Eliot A. Cohen
Fred C. Ikle
I. Lewis Libby
Peter W. Rodman
Stephen P. Rosen
Henry S. Rowen
The signers are quite a cast of characters. A few of these names you may recall. Many of these persons are prominent in recent history. If nothing else, you might have noticed “Scooter” signed this militaristic and principled paper. Yes, this felon is among the founders of the New America Century.
Oh, I might contine by speaking of the letter these individuals submitted to the President of the United States on September 20, 2001, one in which these significant sponsors of the all encompassing war effort outline their preferences pertaining to Osama Bin Laden, Iraq, Hezbollah, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the U.S. Defense Budget. This document makes for good reading. However, I will save the details for you to savor when you think best. I only submit the introduction.
September 20, 2001
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President,
We write to endorse your admirable commitment to ?lead the world to victory? in the war against terrorism. We fully support your call for ‘a broad and sustained campaign’ against the terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them. We agree with Secretary of State Powell that the United States must find and punish the perpetrators of the horrific attack of September 11, and we must, as he said, go after terrorism wherever we find it in the world and get it by its branch and root.
We agree with the Secretary of State that U.S. policy must aim not only at finding the people responsible for this incident, but must also target those ?other groups out there that mean us no good and that have conducted attacks previously against U.S. personnel, U.S. interests and our allies.
In order to carry out this first war of the 21st century successfully, and in order, as you have said, to do future generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, we believe the following steps are necessary parts of a comprehensive strategy.
Possibly, I could share the obvious. Perhaps you dear reader noticed the overwhelming number of signers that years later appeared in the Bush Cabinet.
However, in this moment I will only focus on the name that is most familiar on this glorious day. Tonight as you sat down in your easy-chair, or reclined on the couch listening to the news, you may have heard George W. Bush declare.
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.
I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.
From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.
After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.
This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak.
Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.
Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.
Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.
The founding fathers have spoken. They provided this President with a means to satisfy his end. With the Constitution in hand, Mister George W. Bush has the power to fulfill the wildest fantasy of his compatriot. The venerated men that composed the Constitution did not do the deed that we speak of tonight. The invocation was not influenced by doctrine written centuries ago. Yet, just as our forebears gave us America as we once knew it. These founders of the New American Century give Scooter his freedom.
I. Lewis Libby can still be and probably will be pardoned. However, that ruling will have to wait until the Commander-In-Chief can more delicately do the deliberate deed. For now, the $250,000 must suffice. Granted, millions have already been raised to assist, support, and defend Scooter after this unexpected ?demise. Nonetheless, we, the people are expected to believe the ?former? adviser, Mister Libby, and his family, have endured excessive strife. The ruling was too severe for the crime. In the mind of Mister Bush, the innocent doer of illegal exploits, his friend Scooter can take no more punishment. President Bush concluded Libby should and would not need to. Thus, we have it.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the New American Century and we are feeling the effects of a doctrine once called loony. The Executive Branch is now above the law and creates the edicts that govern the elite Democracy is not a diplomatic endeavor. Peace is achieved through war. Moreover, Scooter is free to be as secretive, exactly as he and others prefer him to be. The President, our ‘decider’ declares this is the end of the I. [Scooter] Lewis Libby story, or at least this is all that we, the people will hear. I wish I could share more. However, secrecy prevails and Scooter is the victor.
The Project for the New American Century Realized through Libby . . .