On to Damascus?

by Patrick J. Buchanan – April 9, 2003

Tony Blair has assured his countrymen the United States does not intend to attack Syria or Iran. Colin Powell has assured the Muslim world the United States does not intend to attack Syria or Iran.

But did the British prime minister or U.S. secretary of state clear their statements with Richard Perle? For the War Party has blood in its nostrils and is headed for Damascus.

Speaking at UCLA, for Americans for Victory over Terrorism, a War Party front, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey declared that this war is about far more than the liberation of Iraq. We are fighting “World War IV,” said Woolsey, “a war that will last longer than World Wars I or II.”

Our enemies are not just al-Qaida, but the religious rulers of Iran and the “fascists” of Iraq and Syria. “As we move toward a new Middle East,” Woolsey added, “we will make a lot of people very nervous.”

Who, exactly? Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“We want you nervous,” said Woolsey to these two erstwhile allies. “We want you to realize that now, for the fourth time in 100 years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you – the Mubaraks, the Saudi Royal family – most fear. We’re on the side of your own people.”

“World War IV” is a term popularized by militant Zionist Norman Podhoretz, who has been shrieking for war on no fewer than six or seven Arab countries. But why should anyone care what Woolsey says?

Because James Woolsey is slated for a position of power in the U.S. reconstruction of Iraq. Moreover, Woolsey echoes John Bolton at State and Israel’s Ariel Sharon, who has also been howling for the United States to take down Iran and Syria, as soon as Baghdad falls.

This is the neocons’ hour of power, and they do not intend to lose this chance to remake the Middle East in their own image. Indeed, before the battle of Baghdad had even begun, the battle over who will rule Iraq was underway.

Tony Blair wants the United Nations to take the lead. But this is a non-starter. Disgust with the U.N. in the United States is universal. Any plan to give the Security Council, where France has a veto, a decisive role in post-Saddam Iraq is dead on arrival. Rightly so. This war, President Bush said, would be fought for vital U.S. interests. And the U.N., with its reflexive hostility to America, cannot be trusted to protect those interests.

But if the United Nations has been ruled out, there remains a question over the composition of the U.S. administration. Heading it up, as of now, will be retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who headed the relief effort in the Kurdish region after Desert Storm. But Garner has a problem.

In 1998, he took a junket to Israel sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, an Israeli lobby. When the intifada erupted in 2000, Garner was one of 26 U.S. military leaders to sign a statement, released by JINSA, parroting the Likud Party line that the violence was all the fault of the Palestinians. Is it wise to have heading up the reconstruction of a humiliated Arab nation a JINSA general vetted by the Israeli Lobby and Ariel Sharon?

Other questions arise: Will James Woolsey, who has declared that U.S. policy is to go after Syria and Iran and destabilize Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have a pivotal role in the administration of Iraq?

Will the Iraqi National Congress, a Perle favorite headed by banker Ahmad Chalabi – a fugitive from justice in Jordan, convicted of fraud and embezzlement – play a leading role? Or will Iraqis chose their own leaders from their own people who suffered under Saddam? Neither State nor the CIA – which severed its ties to the INC when Chalabi could not account for missing covert funds – trusts the man.

America stands on the threshold of military victory. But the fear and loathing of America in the Islamic world is on a scale none of us has ever known. President Bush has an opportunity to alter this harsh and hateful perception. If he will honor his commitment to rebuild an Iraq ruined by dictatorship, sanctions and war, if he will let the Iraqis choose their own leaders, if he will bring American occupation troops home at the earliest possible date, he can give the lie to the myth that America seeks an empire in the Islamic world.

But he must first tell Woolsey, Perle & Co. that he, not they, runs U.S. foreign policy. It is all up to him. Republic or Empire. The president alone will decide.