What was the route that led the U.S. to its present
fiasco in Iraq and elsewhere? We'll get to impeachment below, but for
now let's trace back the thread, starting in 1947. This narrative may
seem like old history, but it adds to better understanding of how we got
from there then to here now. (Much of the shorthand analysis below is
derived from my doctoral dissertation on the "Truman Doctrine.")
America, having helped defeat the then-reining "Axis of Evil" -- the
fascist triumvirate of Germany, Japan, Italy -- was eager to return to
post-war normalcy. U.S. troops returned home from Europe and the
Pacific; industry converted from manufacturing war materiel to homes,
cars, refrigerators; the U.S. economy was starting to hum. Though some
Republican rightwingers were suggesting the U.S. should "finish the job"
back" Stalin's control of Eastern Europe, there wasn't much stomach
for starting another world war so soon after the last one ended.
The British had covertly let the president know that postwar strains on
the Empire were taking their toll on that country's economic and
political systems. And then, suddenly, the Brits openly informed their
American allies that their situation was so tenuous that the U.S. would
have to take over the job of propping up the pro-West governments in
Turkey and Greece. (Greece had a large, active, armed Communist Party in
struggle against the rightwing government.)
BIRTH OF "THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE"
President Harry Truman recognized that, given the problems facing the
weakened British Empire, the U.S. would indeed have to step in, at least
economically, to stabilize the post-war situation. But since Truman
hadn't informed the Congress about any of this, suddenly asking them to
pony up $400 million for the embattled Greek and Turkish governments was
going to be a tough sell.
Truman, a Democrat facing a Republican Congress, asked the chair of the
Foreign Relations Committee, GOP Senator Arthur Vandenberg, for his
support. If you want to get that money out of Congress, Vandenberg said,
you'll have to "scare hell out of the country." In other words,
take a minor budget item and blow it out of all proportion -- couched in
a struggle against a Soviet-led, worldwide "Red Menace."
And thus "The Truman Doctrine," initiated by the president and backed by
the rabidly anti-Soviet Republicans, was born. That doctrine basically
said that from now on, the U.S. would take action anywhere in the world
to combat Communism. Greece/Turkey was the region where the fight would
Congress did grant Truman the funds for Greece and Turkey, and in so
doing the U.S. took a giant step away from its predominantly
isolationist stance in world politics. But by agreeing to engage "the
enemy" anywhere Communism reared its head, the U.S. locked itself into
an unworkable, unrealistic, ultimately self-defeating policy.
It was precisely that ideology and worldview that influenced U.S.
actions years later when America took over the colonial war in Vietnam
that had defeated the French. As the years went by, the U.S. found
itself trapped in an Asian quagmire it never fully comprehended, and
resisted the popular clamor to cut their losses and bring the boys home.
ISLAMISTS AS THE NEW "COMMUNISTS"
I think you can see where I'm going with this ancient history: "scaring
hell out of the country" is not a concept unknown in our current
The new "communists," so to speak -- Islamic extremists -- bloodied the
nose of their American enemy on September 11, 2001 by slaughtering
nearly 3000 in New York and Washington. Bush vowed to retaliate. Bush
and his neo-con advisers, who already had Iraq in their crosshairs long
before 9/11, could have chosen to mount a global campaign to locate,
isolate and capture/kill those responsible for the attacks; in other
words, it could have treated the conspiracy as an international criminal
matter. But that would yield Bush and his supporters very little,
politically speaking, especially since the rightwing GOP agenda in
Congress was going nowhere.
In short, Bush&Co. decided they needed to
"scare hell out of the
country" -- using supposed WMDs controlled by Saddam, allusions to
Iraq-delivered nuclear bombs going off in the U.S., etc. -- in order to
gain public approval for the extreme actions the Administration was
about to take. A permanent "war against terrorism" would help maintain
that level of fright.
Americans probably wouldn't go along with the radical re-direction
required, said a Project for The New American Century report (major
players: Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney), until or unless a "new Pearl
Harbor" occurred. Condi Rice, days after 9/11, said the U.S. should
seize the "opportunity" offered by 9/11 for the implementation of its
agenda. Whether by conscious action or just plain coincidence, the next
"Pearl Harbor" definitely had arrived.
THE FORCE OF NATIONALISM
The decision by Bush&Co. to launch a war of choice against Iraq was
based on numerous lies and misconceptions, the supposed WMD being just
the most obvious. But there was another huge mistake that was barely
And so it's back to my dissertation on the origins of the Cold War. The
American government believed that Communism was a monolithic movement
all across the globe; there was little or no recognition that "national
communism" could even exist: that Yugoslav communism was different from
the variety practiced by the Vietnamese, that Greek communism was
distinguishable from that in the Soviet Union, that Chinese communism
was different from Romania's -- in short, that there were national
interests involved that sometimes trumped Communist solidarity.
Seeing the enemy as a monolith during the Cold War meant that policies
based on that simplistic interpretation of Communism were often
ill-conceived and dangerously wrong-headed; diplomatic interventions
targeted to specific national concerns tended not to be attempted, the
results of which were disasters of one sort or another.
In the case of Vietnam, for example, this short-sighted analysis of
Communist nations led to the deaths of more than 54,000 U.S. troops and
as many as two million Vietnamese; the U.S. government could not see
that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist communist, and ignored Vietnam's long
history of repelling invaders from China, France and elsewhere.
Which brings us to the current Bush Administration and its GOP
supporters, who appear to base their policies on the premise that all
Islamic jihadists are part of the same monolithic movement.
ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL
Islamists may be moving in roughly the same direction in some loose,
even metaphorical, sense. But the CheneyBush Administration and its
supporters don't speculate that way. In the run-up to the war, and even
today, many of them conflate those who carried out the 9/11 attacks with
the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, as if they were part of a singular Muslim
conspiracy -- even though Saddam regarded Islamists as threats to his
dictatorial hold on a secular Iraq and murdered them whenever and
wherever he found them.
CheneyBush's limited, one-size-fits-all view of the world translates to
judging a jihadist in Iraq as being the same as one in Lebanon or
Palestine. And thus the U.S. has missed innumerable opportunities to
split off Iraqi nationalist fighters from the more extremist Islamist
jihadists. Similarly, that attitude has prevented the Administration
from talking seriously with neighboring Syria and Iran -- who have their
own nationalist concerns with regard to Iraq -- about ways to end the
Seeing the world through monofaceted, ideological glasses puts
foreign/military policy on automatic pilot, while manipulating the press
and public with frightening stories of supposedly imminent attacks by a
Intelligent foreign policy requires a knowledge of history and politics
and religion and language, and a whole lot more. Had the CheneyBush
Administration possessed some of that understanding (or listened to
those that did), they might not have blundered their way into the
wholesale catastrophe that is its Iraq War and Occupation.
THE WARNINGS IGNORED
For example, they might have listened to their own experts in the State
Department and CIA who issued prescient warnings about the likely
consequences of attacking and occupying Iraq. They might have heard
their European allies advising them not to make a huge mistake by
invading that country. They might have been able to hear what 10 million
ordinary citizens all around the globe were trying to tell them as they
marched and demonstrated against America's about-to-begin war of choice.
But Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neo-con ideologues were
blinded by their technological might, by the fact that the U.S. was the
only superpower left standing after the Soviet Union fell apart, and by
their feeling they could do whatever they wanted to do in the world
since nobody could stop them.
Since the Iraq war was launched on the basis of lies and deceptions (and
a load of self-deceptions), and was being carried out by incompetents
and greedy exploiters way over their heads, their enterprise was doomed
from the start. They were unable to admit their errors in policy and
execution, and could not accept the fact that their war had stirred-up a
hornet's nest of nationalist rebellion in Iraq and elsewhere in the
Greater Middle East. Lacking a "Plan B," they compounded their
disastrous war and occupation by doing little but "staying the course"
with a failed policy for several years.
THE FAST EVAPORATION OF SUPPORT
Eventually, the barest hints of reality made their way into their
illusion-based policy, and, at the last minute -- or, more accurately,
way past the last minute -- they admitted to themselves that things
weren't going well and so tried for a massive do-over with their "surge"
of additional tens of thousands of troops into the fray, with thousands
more on their way and the field-generals asking for still more.
That policy of escalating the war didn't work in Vietnam, and it isn't
working in Iraq. The die was cast long ago and now the only question is
whether CheneyBush will be able to stretch out the new "surging"
escalation of the war through the November 2008 election.
But political support for the continued occupation and escalation of the
war in Iraq is quickly evaporating. Former commanding generals in
intelligence and in the Iraq theatre (such as Generals Odom, Batiste,
Eaton, et al.) are openly denouncing the Administration's disastrous war
policies, and reportedly serving generals have said they will resign in
protest if the escalation is renewed in the Fall absent clearcut signs
of political/military progress. Delegations of Republican member of
Congress are denouncing the CheneyBush war policies to their faces in
private White House meetings. The polls continue to reveal the depth of
the revulsion nearly two-thirds of Americans have for the
Administration's grossly mismanaged war effort in Iraq and the public's
desire to end the conflict and bring the troops home.
IMPEACHMENT: THE ONLY LEGAL ALTERNATIVE
Since it doesn't appear that any significant changes in U.S. Iraq policy
will be implemented while CheneyBush rule, and since that policy is
endangering America abroad and shredding the Constitution at home, only
one legal remedy is available to the Congress and citizenry:
To do nothing, to let CheneyBush run out the clock until the next
presidential election, is to consign thousands and thousands of
additional U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians to death and injury. Do we
citizens want that blood on our hands, on our consciences? I don't think
There are more than enough impeachable offenses ("high crimes and
misdemeanors") committed by Cheney and Bush, and their morally corrupt
Attorney General, to warrant the immediate convening of a House
HIGH CRIMES, MISDEMEANORS, MALFEASANCE
The charges would include the lies and deceptions that took this country
into an unnecessary war in Iraq, now in its fifth stalemated year; the
various manglings of the Constitution that have changed America from a
democratic republic to an authoritarian near-dictatorship, thus robbing
the citizenry of their rights and legal protections; the refusal to
comply with Congressional directives, subpoenas and orders for the
production of official documents and records. (Lest we forget, that last
one was a
part of the charges voted by the House impeachment panel probing
President Nixon's crimes.)
Stonewalling, coverup, corruption, wars of
choice, wrecking the Constitution -- these emblems of CheneyBush rule
cannot be permitted to continue for another year-and-a-half, lest the
nation be effectively destroyed from within.
It's long past time for the Democrats and traditional conservative
Republicans to begin to rectify the damage done by this reckless,
arrogant, bullying, corrupt, power-mad Administration. To get that
process moving, impeachment hearings should commence. Now.
Copyright 2007, by Bernard Weiner