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They Want Chaos

By Wade Hudson

February 14, 2006

As talk of impeachment increases, one crime is clear: Bush and his inner circle are guilty of criminal negligence. The only question is whether they committed ordinary negligence, willful blindness, recklessness, or gross negligence.

Criminal negligence is the failure to use reasonable care -- either by doing something that a reasonable person would not do, or not doing something that a reasonable person would do. In the case of Bush and company, the facts speak for themselves. In August 2001, the CIA presented President Bush with a written report titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." In response, Bush did nothing. In her testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Condoleeza Rice reported that prior to Sept. 11, 2001, the Administration decided to do nothing substantial about the Al Qaeda threat. "Why did we wait?", she asked rhetorically, and then answered, in effect, that the 9/11 attacks provided the casus belli to enable them to mount a major military response. After invading Afghanistan, the Administration decided not to pursue Bin Laden aggressively when they had him cornered, but rather left the job to unreliable Afghan allies. In addition, they failed to invest the resources needed to stabilize Afghanistan. As a result, that country is falling into anarchy, providing a haven for terrorists and narco-merchants.

OPPOSITION TO ATTACKING IRAQ.  Before occupying Iraq, United Nations inspections had resulted in weakening Iraq militarily. The consensus among experts was that Iraq had no alliance with Bin Laden and posed no serious threat to its neighbors or to the United States. Virtually all of the world's leaders believed that the United States should support continued inspections. Moreover, most experts, including the President's own father, earlier had warned that overthrowing Saddam Hussein could easily lead to civil war. Nevertheless, Bush rushed to war, in time to benefit Republicans in the 2004 election. The Administration ignored the advice of its military and occupied Iraq without enough troops to maintain peace. Even with the troops they had, however, they could have done much more to discourage lawlessness. Instead, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joked about the looting. Immediately after the invasion, to make negotiations easier by reducing anti-American sentiment, the Administration could have announced that American troops would withdraw from Iraq within a strict timetable, such as one or two years, and could have asked the United Nations to oversee the transition to a new government. Instead, the U. S. ran the country like a colony and poured concrete at military bases that appear to be permanent. Even after the decision to ice the United Nations, the U.S. could have invited representatives from all the major elements in Iraq to form a transitional government committed to preserving national unity. Instead, the U.S. reduced the Sunnis to third-class status, formed a partnership with the Shiites and Kurds, and accepted the Shiite/Kurd plan to divide Iraq (thus leaving the Sunnis with no oil).

LEVELS OF NEGLIGENCE. Many commentators believe that the troubles in Iraq are due to poor planning and/or incompetence. If that's the case, Bush and his people are only guilty of ordinary criminal negligence for being indifferent to the consequences of their actions. Maybe they didn't foresee dangers because they didn't pay attention. Reading the mind of the Bush inner circle is a spectator sport. Given their secrecy and deception, it's impossible to know their true motives with certainty. We can only draw conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. Surely the Administration is at least guilty of the more serious crime of willful blindness. If they didn't know, they should've known. Maybe they merely put themselves in positions where they would not learn what they needed to know. Juries convict smugglers who transport drugs without finding out the contents in their package. The actual situation is even more serious. At a minimum, the Administration is guilty of the more serious crime of malfeasance, or recklessness -- they were aware of the risks but knowingly decided that being able to win the next election was worth it.

THE CRIME OF GROSS NEGLIGENCE. In fact, however, the Administration is guilty of gross negligence, the most serious level of criminal negligence. Now, after more than five years, the record is overwhelming: this Administration wants chaos. It consciously spreads conflict for its own benefit. Gross negligence is willful disregard for the safety of others. It is willful and wanton misconduct -- a conscious violation of other peoples' rights to safety. If a horse owner saddles a horse with a broken saddle, knowing the equipment could fail at any time, that owner is guilty of gross negligence when the equipment breaks and the rider is injured. During a recent visit to the Middle East, Tom Hayden reported, "My contacts repeatedly asked: Is the de facto dismemberment of Iraq a deliberate American strategy or a blowback based on ignorance, or both?" Hayden did not offer a definite answer to their question.

THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE DOING.  But Cheney and Rumsfeld are neither stupid nor ignorant. They know what they're doing and why. Hayden commented, "The most reasoned answer may lie in Robert Dreyfuss's new book, Devil's Game, which documents how the United States has flirted with and funded a generation of Islamic extremists as an alternative to secular Arab nationalism, either as a divide-and-conquer strategy or a means to impose privatization of state-run economies." The Dreyfuss analysis touches on what has been a bi-partisan United States strategy since the end of the Cold War. In August 1998, with a Democrat in the White House, Diana Johnstone argued "blasting the nation-state barriers…(results in) a new type of joint colonial rule." One year later, prior to Bush becoming President and the 9/11 attacks, Ellen Ray and Bill Schaap wrote: >>"The western powers, having successfully re-Balkanized the Balkans, find this Nineteenth Century tactic to their liking. Indications are that there is a serious and far-flung effort under way to Balkanize Africa, redrawing its borders. Three of the largest nations on that continent, Congo, Angola, and Sudan, face violent struggles to divide their territories…. Learning from the breakups both of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, or more to the point, having long-planned for such eventualities, the U.S. recognizes that it is easier to dominate a region when the governmental units are small."

DESTABILIZING AFRICA AS POLICY.  In July 1998, the New York Times reported that aid officials in the region had concluded that the U.S. welcomed instability in Sudan as a way to weaken that country, which was a fundamentalist threat to Egypt, a key American ally. According to the Times:

"As the war (in Sudan) drags on, the United States and its allies in Western Europe have done relatively little to push the two sides to the negotiating table, diplomats say. Indeed, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright met with rebel leaders in December and openly expressed moral support for their cause. One reason is that peace does not necessarily suit American interests, aid officials said. American foreign policy in the region hinges on protecting the secular Government in Egypt, the largest recipient of United States aid, and containing Islamic fundamentalism. 'An unstable Sudan amounts to a stable Egypt,' said a United Nations official, insisting on anonymity."

Some neoconservatives have spoken openly about their deeper strategy. Michael Ledeen, an influential neocon thinker at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

"Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day…. Our enemies…attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission."

This quote prompted The Crisis Papers' Bernard Weiner to write:

 "This fits in with a theory out there that holds that the neoconservatives thrive on chaos, stirring things up in the world and then, as the global supercop, stepping in as the only one with the money and the expertise to help calm things down. But peace comes with a price: control of the situation remains with the supercop."

THE GLOBAL POLICEMAN.  The Clinton Administration tried to take the "military card" away from the Republicans by bombing more countries that any President had ever done. To firmly establish the Republican Party as "stronger" militarily, Bush needed to undertake massive military action. Invading Iraq served that purpose quite nicely. In 1999, prior to the 9/11 attacks, Ray and Schaap wrote that Clinton's foreign policy was designed "to implement the administration's self-appointed role as global policeman (and) is now defined by its evolving military unilateralism, at home and abroad." They quoted Secretary of State Albright, who described the Clinton Administration's August 1998 missile assaults against Sudan and Afghanistan as "the war of the future." Bush took Clinton's approach to a higher level. The elite was well aware of the likely consequences of their militaristic foreign policy. While Clinton was President, former CIA Director Robert Gates wrote, "As potential official American targets are 'hardened,' terrorists will simply turn to non-official targets -- businesses, schools, tourists and so on. We can perhaps channel the threat away from the United States Government, but not away from Americans." Gates also predicted, "Another unacknowledged and unpleasant reality is that a more militant approach toward terrorism would, in virtually all cases, require us to act violently and alone. No other power will join us on a crusade against terrorism." George Bush has fulfilled Gates' prediction of growing unilateralism.

THE GOAL IS TO WIN AT ALL COSTS.  To gain power over a nightmare, we need to name it for what it is. Through their acts of omission and commission, Bush and his people are guilty of gross negligence motivated by the desire to inflame foreign threats, rally the nation, and elect Republicans. Their apparent incompetence is a charade, as is their effort to prevent Iraq from splintering. As widely predicted, Iraq is immersed in civil war, with mounting vengeance and counter-vengeance that is creating more terrorists than it is eliminating. This strategy will intentionally produce a never-ending war that can never be won. But permanent war could help Republicans maintain their hold on power. The fact that other Administrations have been guilty of similar crimes does not negate the fact that this Administration has been a flagrant violator and must be held accountable. When a property owner is warned repeatedly about faulty wiring in his building and does nothing to correct the problem, only to collect a huge insurance payment after the building burns down, he is guilty of gross negligence. Politicians who sacrifice the common good to get re-elected are guilty of the same crime and deserve to be punished.

Wade Hudson is Editor of the Progressive Resource Catalog and can be reached at  whudson@igc.org .


Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances