The following report may sound like the plot of a
conspiracy theory movie, but I have read some of the documents mentioned and
seen similar analyses by respected political scientists and policy analysts for
months. (I have been unable to get our local newspaper, the Louisville
Courier-Journal) to cover this story at all.) This is why
people-power and determined, aggressive, nonviolent struggle are so
necessary. It helps to know the stakes involved in our
Of Gods and Mortals and Empire
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
21 February 2003
"To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these
things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it
It sounded like two behemoth
icebergs colliding in the North Atlantic, but you needed the right kind of ears
to hear it. Two immensely powerful forces crashed into each other over the
weekend of February 15th, and the resulting thunder has set the world to
On one side were the people, who took to the streets all
across the world by the tens of millions to stand against George W. Bush's push
for pre-emptive war on Iraq. The numbers, and the locations, were staggering.
More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Sydney, Australia, a nation that
has been solidly in Bush's corner on this matter. In Spain, another member of
Bush's "Coalition of the Willing," several million protesters took over Madrid,
Barcelona and 55 other cities. Italy, another Bush ally, saw over a million
citizens take to the streets of Rome. Britain, Bush's go/no go ally of allies,
saw over a million people protesting in London. Police there said it was the
largest demonstration in that nation's long history.
The Netherlands saw
one hundred thousand protesters, as did Belgium and Ireland. There were
protesters by the tens of thousands in Sweden, Switzerland, Scotland, Denmark,
Austria, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Greece, Russia and Japan. 500,000
protesters demonstrated in Germany, joined by three members of Gerhard
Schroder's cabinet who defied their Chancellor by being there. It was the
largest demonstration ever in post-war Germany. Another 500,000 people marched
in Paris and 60 other French cities.
The United States of America saw
protests from coast to coast in over 100 cities nationwide. New York City was
paralyzed by over a million marchers. San Francisco was taken over by well over
200,000 protesters, and Los Angeles saw over 100,000 people take to the streets.
Thousands upon thousands joined them in Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and
This was a gathering of ordinary citizens who came together in
the streets of the world in an organized event that has no precedent in all of
human history. They were brought together by a global word-of-mouth activism
rooted entirely in the Internet. Were it not for this planetary connection, no
such coordination could have ever taken place. Once upon a time, the world wide
web was a realm dominated by dreams of profit and marketing. Those dreams have
soured, leaving behind a marvelous network now utilized by very average people
who can, with the click of a button, bring forth from all points on the compass
a roaring deluge of humanity to stand against craven injustice and ruinous war.
The weekend of February 15th saw this force ram headlong into the will
of men who walk in shadow, whose hands wield lightning and steel, pestilence and
famine. In their ranks stand Presidents, Prime Ministers, corporate magnates,
untouchable billionaires, and the advisors who whisper to them of empire and
domination. They are few in number, but life and death flows from their
fingertips in freshets and gouts. These men control the armies and navies of
great nations, nuclear and chemical nightmares beyond measure, unassailable
technological weapons and walls, the financial cords which hold the package
together, the water, the air, the oil, the law, and a global media machine by
which they can obscure their designs with pleasing lies.
No mere citizen
could do what these men in one moment can do with the crooking of a little
finger. With a word, they can erase cities, deprive an entire populace of water
and light, unleash disease and famine, annihilate the economies of dozens of
nations, and imprison forever anyone who dares dissent. These men bleed, they
sicken, they die, but in their time of life they can punch holes in the sky
large enough to make Zeus wince with envy. Like the millions who marched, the
gathering of such fearful powers into the hands of so few is also without
precedent in all of human history.
There was, among the millions who
stormed the planet last weekend, a misconception that masked the true reason for
their presence in the streets. A great many people believe this looming war with
Iraq is about old grudges and oil. There is logic in this; Iraq has the second
largest proven stores of precious petroleum in the world, and there is a
definite history of malice between House Bush and House Hussein. The truth of
the matter is far more broad and deep, belittling all talk of terrorism, weapons
of mass destruction, and even oil. The men who pursue their goals by way of this
war have a great many desires on their minds, and once more, they have the will
to attain these goals by whatever means is required.
Were the protesters
fully aware of whom they faced, a good many of them may well have fled in terror
to cower in their homes. One does not lightly bait a bear with such terrible
Does this all sound like some paranoid fantasy? If so, allow me
to introduce The Project for the New American Century.
The Project for
the New American Century, or PNAC, www.newamericancentury.orgis a
Washington-based think tank created in 1997. Above all else, PNAC desires and
demands one thing: The establishment of a global American empire to bend the
will of all nations. They chafe at the idea that the United States, the last
remaining superpower, does not do more by way of economic and military force to
bring the rest of the world under the umbrella of a new socio-economic Pax
The fundamental essence of PNAC's ideology can be found in a
White Paper produced in September of 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's
Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." In it, PNAC
outlines what is required of America to create the global empire they envision.
According to PNAC, America must:
* Reposition permanently
based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East;
Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing our fighter aircraft, submarine and
surface fleet capabilities;
* Develop and deploy a global missile
defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space;
the "International Commons" of cyberspace;
* Increase defense spending
to a minimum of 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, up from the 3 percent
Most ominously, this PNAC document described
four "Core Missions" for the American military. The two central requirements are
for American forces to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major
theater wars," and to "perform the 'constabulary' duties associated with shaping
the security environment in critical regions." Note well that PNAC does not want
America to be prepared to fight simultaneous major wars. That is old
school. In order to bring this plan to fruition, the military must fight these
wars one way or the other to establish American dominance for all to see.
Why is this important? After all, wacky think tanks are a cottage
industry in Washington, DC. They are a dime a dozen. In what way does PNAC stand
above the other groups that would set American foreign policy if they could?
Two events brought PNAC into the mainstream of American government: the
disputed election of George W. Bush, and the attacks of September 11th. When
Bush assumed the Presidency, the men who created and nurtured the imperial
dreams of PNAC became the men who run the Pentagon, the Defense Department and
the White House. When the Towers came down, these men saw, at long last, their
chance to turn their White Papers into substantive policy.
President Dick Cheney is a founding member of PNAC, along with Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle. Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is the ideological father of the group. Bruce Jackson,
a PNAC director, served as a Pentagon official for Ronald Reagan before leaving
government service to take a leading position with the weapons manufacturer
PNAC is staffed by men who previously served with
groups like Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America, which supported
America's bloody gamesmanship in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and with groups like
The Committee for the Present Danger, which spent years advocating that a
nuclear war with the Soviet Union was "winnable."
PNAC has recently
given birth to a new group, The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which met
with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in order to formulate a plan to
"educate" the American populace about the need for war in Iraq. CLI has funneled
millions of taxpayer dollars to support the Iraqi National Congress and the
Iraqi heir presumptive, Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi was sentenced in absentia by a
Jordanian court in 1992 to 22 years in prison for bank fraud after the collapse
of Petra Bank, which he founded in 1977. Chalabi has not set foot in Iraq since
1956, but his Enron-like business credentials apparently make him a good match
for the Bush administration's plans.
PNAC's "Rebuilding America's
Defenses" report is the institutionalization of plans and ideologies that have
been formulated for decades by the men currently running American government.
The PNAC Statement of Principles is signed by Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, as
well as by Eliot Abrams, Jeb Bush, Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay
Khalilzad, and many others. William Kristol, famed conservative writer for the
Weekly Standard, is also a co-founder of the group. The Weekly Standard is owned
by Ruppert Murdoch, who also owns international media giant Fox News
desire for these freshly empowered PNAC men to extend American hegemony by force
of arms across the globe has been there since day one of the Bush
administration, and is in no small part a central reason for the Florida
electoral battle in 2000. Note that while many have said that Gore and Bush are
ideologically identical, Mr. Gore had no ties whatsoever to the fellows at PNAC.
George W. Bush had to win that election by any means necessary, and PNAC
signatory Jeb Bush was in the perfect position to ensure the rise to prominence
of his fellow imperialists. Desire for such action, however, is by no means
translatable into workable policy. Americans enjoy their comforts, but don't
cotton to the idea of being some sort of Neo-Rome.
On September 11th,
the fellows from PNAC saw a door of opportunity open wide before them, and
stormed right through it.
Bush released on September 20th 2001 the
"National Security Strategy of the United States of America." It is an
ideological match to PNAC's "Rebuilding America's Defenses" report issued a year
earlier. In many places, it uses exactly the same language to describe America's
new place in the world. Recall that PNAC demanded an increase in defense
spending to at least 3.8% of GDP. Bush's proposed budget for next year asks for
$379 billion in defense spending, almost exactly 3.8% of GDP.
of 2002, Defense Policy Board chairman and PNAC member Richard Perle heard a
policy briefing from a think tank associated with the Rand Corporation.
According to the Washington Post and The Nation, the final slide of this
presentation described "Iraq as the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia as the
strategic pivot, and Egypt as the prize" in a war that would purportedly be
about ridding the world of Saddam Hussein's weapons. Bush has deployed massive
forces into the Mideast region, while simultaneously engaging American forces in
the Philippines and playing nuclear chicken with North Korea. Somewhere in all
this lurks at least one of the "major theater wars" desired by the September
2000 PNAC report.
Iraq is but the beginning, a pretense for a wider
conflict. Donald Kagan, a central member of PNAC, sees America establishing
permanent military bases in Iraq after the war. This is purportedly a measure to
defend the peace in the Middle East, and to make sure the oil flows. The nations
in that region, however, will see this for what it is: a jump-off point for
American forces to invade any nation in that region they choose to. The American
people, anxiously awaiting some sort of exit plan after America defeats Iraq,
will see too late that no exit is planned.
All of the horses are
traveling together at speed here. The defense contractors who sup on American
tax revenue will be handsomely paid for arming this new American empire. The
corporations that own the news media will sell this eternal war at a profit, as
viewership goes through the stratosphere when there is combat to be shown. Those
within the administration who believe that the defense of Israel is contingent
upon laying waste to every possible aggressor in the region will have their
dreams fulfilled. The PNAC men who wish for a global Pax Americana at gunpoint
will see their plans unfold. Through it all, the bankrollers from the WTO and
the IMF will be able to dictate financial terms to the entire planet. This last
aspect of the plan is pivotal, and is best described in the newly revised
version of Greg Palast's masterpiece, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."
There will be adverse side effects. The siege mentality average
Americans are suffering as they smother behind yards of plastic sheeting and
duct tape will increase by orders of magnitude as our aggressions bring forth
new terrorist attacks against the homeland. These attacks will require the
implementation of the newly drafted Patriot Act II, an augmentation of the
previous Act that has profoundly sharper teeth. The sun will set on the
Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The American economy will be ravaged by
the need for increased defense spending, and by the aforementioned
"constabulary" duties in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Former allies will
turn on us. Germany, France and the other nations resisting this Iraq war are
fully aware of this game plan. They are not acting out of cowardice or because
they love Saddam Hussein, but because they mean to resist this rising American
empire, lest they face economic and military serfdom at the hands of George W.
Bush. Richard Perle has already stated that France is no longer an American
ally. As the eagle spreads its wings, our rhetoric and their resistance will
become more agitated and dangerous.
Many people, of course, will die.
They will die from war and from want, from famine and disease. At home, the
social fabric will be torn in ways that make the Reagan nightmares of crack
addiction, homelessness and AIDS seem tame by comparison.
This is the
price to be paid for empire, and the men of PNAC who now control the fate and
future of America are more than willing to pay it. For them, the benefits far
outweigh the liabilities.
The plan was running smoothly until those two
icebergs collided. Millions and millions of ordinary people are making it very
difficult for Bush's international allies to keep to the script. PNAC may have
designs for the control of the "International Commons" of the internet, but for
now it is the staging ground for a movement that would see empire take a back
seat to a wise peace, human rights, equal protection under the law, and the
preponderance of a justice that will, if properly applied, do away forever with
the anger and hatred that gives birth to terrorism in the first place.
Tommaso Palladini of Milan perhaps said it best as he marched with his
countrymen in Rome. "You fight terrorism," he said, "by creating more justice in
The People versus the Powerful is the oldest story in human
history. At no point in history have the Powerful wielded so much control. At no
point in history has the active and informed involvement of the People, all of
them, been more absolutely required. The tide can be stopped, and the men who
desire empire by the sword can be thwarted. It has already begun, but it must
not cease. These are men of will, and they do not intend to fail.
William Rivers Pitt is
a New York Times best-selling author of two books - "War On Iraq" (with Scott
Ritter) available now from Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is
Silence," available in May 2003 from Pluto Press. He teaches high school in
Scott Lowery contributed research to this report.
"A church which cannot take a firm stand against
war is a church which does not deserve to be believed."
American Baptist theologian at Harvard Divinity School