Here be monsters 

Nothing but oil is driving the Bush War Machine

Ever wonder where the tidal wave of bad ideas that characterizes the Bush administration comes from? Who thinks up these grand schemes like going to war with Iraq, hacking down forests because they might burn, or deciding to leave budget surpluses and domestic issues behind for the massive deficit spending required for the Bush War Machine? The warning used by ancient mapmakers for areas beyond their known world was “Here be Monsters,” a warning all too apt for the murky world of the conservative think tanks where many of the horrors emanating from the Bush regime are born.

If you want to scare the bejesus out of yourself and get a better feel for the Bush agenda, go to Read The Project for the New American Century’s report titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” which outlines the plan for American domination of world politics and resources through the use of raw military power.

Those of you who might dismiss this as “conspiracy theory” should take a moment to consider who was in on the creation of the report. Let’s start with Dick Cheney, secretary of defense in the first Bush administration and now the loudest howler for immediate war with Iraq. Also from the former Bush administration comes Donald Rumsfeld, the current secretary of defense and his right-hand man, Paul Wolfowitz. Toss in Cheney’s current Chief of Staff Lewis Libby and you basically have the top war dogs in the Bush cabinet.

In chillingly direct language, the report describes the course that we appear to be following at top speed—regardless of world opinion, fiscal impact to the nation’s needs, or the warnings from experienced foreign policy experts like former U.N. ambassador Madelyn Albright, former Middle East envoy General Anthony Zinni, and a host of others.

In a nutshell, the report concludes that we must increase military spending significantly, use our armed forces as “the cavalry on the new American frontier,” and take over global “leadership” from the U.N. to enact a worldwide “Pax Americana,” where American interests come first and our military might is used to secure those interests. It also suggests a “regime change” in China, permanent armed bases in the Persian Gulf, the creation of the U.S. Space Forces to dominate outer space, and government control of the Internet. Regarding new types of war and new battlefields, everything from biological to electronic warfare is imagined as part of the plan to enable the United States to implement a global “command and control structure.” Given Iraq’s oil resources, it is clear that this horrific vision of those who think America should call the shots for everyone else on the globe is already in play. On Sunday, for instance, The Washington Post published an article titled “War could unshackle oil in Iraq.” The gist of the piece is that Iraq’s 112 billion barrels of crude oil reserves would be the prize for U.S. oil companies once Saddam Hussein is driven from power. Because America would be the primary force in Hussein’s removal, it would be America that would divvy up the spoils of war.

The simplistic Bush Doctrine of “you’re either with us or against us” takes on significant form and repulsive meaning when viewed in this light. Those nations who might oppose America’s preemptive strike against Iraq would stand to lose big after the smoke cleared. The oil derricks and pipelines would be built by American companies and the black gold they pumped would go to America’s needs. As former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, told reporters: “It’s pretty straightforward, France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we’ll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them. If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.” These are dangerous plans by dangerous men. For one thing, there seems to be a universal and almost dreamlike assumption by the Bush team that once Saddam Hussein is gone, everyone will suddenly bow to America’s wishes. But as we have recently seen in Afghanistan, “regime changes” don’t always work out the way we plan them. While we were able to topple the existing Taliban leaders and send Osama bin Laden running for cover, we have certainly not subdued the fierce, long-standing independence of Afghan’s plethora of warlords. Quite the opposite, in fact. If American soldiers were not guarding Afghanistan’s new leader Hamid Karzai around the clock, it is likely he would already be dead, assassinated by his own people. Nor, despite the chest-pounding by the American press, is bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization extinct, since new leaders have filled the gaps and continue the battle, perhaps more determined than ever.

The old saying that you shouldn’t “count your chickens before they hatch” seems acutely appropriate to American foreign policy at this time. While it is easy for American oil executives and their cronies at the very top of the Bush administration to envision the billions of dollars flowing from their new Iraqi oil fields, it is quite another thing to bring that vision to reality. One need only look to South America, where troops are guarding U.S. company pipelines that would otherwise be blown to bits by those who oppose U.S. policies, their governments, or both.

Which brings us to perhaps the most important question: How many troops on how many pipelines with how many “regime changes” can we afford? The projected cost for the Iraq war is $200 billion. That’s $200 billion that will no longer be available for education, our aging population, or other pressing needs. Clearly, President Bush’s course heads for terra incognita. Now would be a very good time to remember the old mapmakers’ warning: “Here be monsters.” 

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Missoula Independent.

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