"If the major opportunities for future growth of government lie in the area of conventional taxation, are there any defenses available to the citizenry? ... Perhaps the most fruitful advice comes in two parts. The first piece of advice is to avoid war and the rumor of war: this is history's greatest boon to the tax man. ... The second piece of advice is to seek ways of inhibiting government's ability conveniently to increase its collections. Possibly the very increase in that ability that is in prospect can be turned to account by a constitutional provision which forbade the income tax, and perhaps even the storage of information regarding individual incomes by third parties, including government." ~ Benjamin Ward
What the War Was For
Exclusive to STR
February 26, 2007
Back in 2002 before the invasion, I chanced upon what I thought then--and now--was an unusually intelligent article about what the NeoCons planned to do in the Middle East . It was by Gary D. Halbert and derived from the Stratfor think tank, and while analysis of government policy is not normally anything of interest to anarchists, this did fascinate me because of the insight it gave into the way government people think, and what was likely to happen during the rest of this decade.
Since "know thine enemy" is always sound advice, I downloaded the article and filed it away, but recently remembered and dusted it off. I'm glad I did, for it's disappeared from its source site. I recommend taking a look. In summary, it says that the policy for the new millennium was to dominate that oil-rich region for the benefit of the United States and her friends, and that having neutralized Afghanistan, the next--but by no means the last--target was to be Iraq; partly because public opinion could most easily be swung around against the odious dictator then in charge, and partly because its central location gave many options for the intended subsequent strikes. Iraq itself was, like Gaul under Julius Caesar, to be divided into three. A Kurdish Northeast would become independent, the Shia Southeast would be awarded to Kuwait , and the Sunni Midwest would be absorbed into Jordan . " Iraq " as such would cease to exist, and with it the probability of civil war. I am still at a loss to understand why that part of the plan was evidently scrapped; the King of Jordan reportedly turned down the offer, but Sunni-land could still have been transferred to Syria so as to purchase that government's undivided loyalty. Perhaps both of them said "No," and thereafter the propaganda said the FedGov's aim was always to create a unified democracy in Iraq .
Those strikes were, no doubt of it, to be against Iran , Syria and Saudi Arabia , not necessarily in that order; hence the usefulness of the pivotal position of Iraq . They would not necessarily be military; after one or two countries had been captured for Uncle, the others might fall in to line without need for further bloodshed. But the end result, after a few years (and I suppose they had 2008 in mind, as that will end the reign of George W.) was to be a new division of the American Empire; a kind of "Washington East." Hence the notable lack of enthusiasm among European rivals.
A number of benefits would accrue to the NeoCon elite. First, with every regional government puppetized to Washington 's whims, the back of OPEC would be broken and effective control of world oil supplies and prices would be in the "right" hands--George, Dick and friends and relations. The non-Muslim world would have cause to be grateful to America ; or if not grateful, at least dependent.
Second, all hope of violent aid to Palestinians from neighboring Arab States would end; they would have to make peace with Israel on Israel's terms, and the "powder keg" nature of the region would dramatically diminish and Israel would be much less of a pain in the US neck.
Third, teeth would have been removed from radical Islamists, since under US hegemony, no resources would reach them from any friendly State. Having suborned themselves to Washington , therefore, whichever thugs were left nominally in charge of the target countries would be relatively free from "terrorist" threats from fundamentalist rivals.
And fourth, with the far-out zealots de-fanged, gradually over time the Muslim Middle East could be expected to moderate its interest in 14th Century myths and get more real, more "secular" and so join the rest of the developing world in its healthy pursuit of prosperity; the supposedly Christian West would gain a permanent advantage over its devilish Muslim opponents. Not all NeoCons would rate this a high objective, but George and his religious-right backers would applaud it and Armageddon, the Rapture etc. would be postponed yet again.
That, then, is what the Iraq war was intended to be for--the significant enlargement of the American Empire. And the odd thing is, we can all see tangible benefit from at least some of those four objectives. The strategy would have had wide political appeal, and that's exactly what we saw--broad support from almost all quarters, including nearly all Democrats. As I wrote in 2003, this was a government war.
But as we know, something went wrong; the Bushies forgot that all the military might in the world cannot rule a population that does not want it and is willing to die rather than submit and can do the math of "democracy" and prefers bullets and bombs to votes reckoning that the former do give some chance of ruling their rivals. How, now, will they clean up their mess?
It surprised me that after the ISG Report handed George the answer--to engage in talks with neighboring governments and (between the lines) negotiate a division of Iraq into those same three regions contemplated before the invasion--the President is doing the very opposite. Many have commented that having dug himself into a hole, he is, instead of climbing out, digging deeper; and indeed it looks that way. Only John McCain is gambling that the Troop Surge may succeed, and he can't lose; if it does, he'll be well placed in the 2008 election because it's what he has been proposing, or if it doesn't he would stand no chance in it anyway.
Perhaps what has been happening this Winter is that W found that Syria , Iran and the Saudis have also read the Stratfor Report and have signaled No Thanks; you got yourself into this mess with your beady eye on us, and we'll not lift a finger to help. You thought you could bully us to do your will; now you know you can't, and so you're on your own. Screw You.
If that's the case, it looks as if the United States Government is about to suffer a bigger humiliation than in Viet Nam ; for the Vietnamese had no oil, and no zealots with ambitions outside their own country.
As usual when government screws up, we will foot the bill--but also, with such a massive mess, the second in half a century, we libertarians may possibly use the debacle to our advantage. Look, we may publicize: not only does the FedGov bleed our wealth and kill our neighbors' children, it can't even do what it sets out to do. Of what use can it possibly be?