The Closet Imperialists Come Out

by Patrick J. Buchanan – October 14, 2002

A war on Iraq would be “an imperialist war,” writes Paul W. Schroeder in the Oct. 21 issue of The American Conservative: “We intend to use armed force against Iraq … to acquire the power to decide who shall rule Iraq, what kind of government it will have, what kind of weapons it will develop for its own security, what kind of foreign policy it will have.”

“This is clearly imperialism,” proclaims Schroeder, “even if we claim and really believe that we are doing it for noble ends – liberation, democracy, capitalism, human rights, whatever.”

Indeed, if America’s goal is to occupy Iraq, reshape its society and reorient its foreign policy, that would be imperialism pure and simple. Can Americans, heirs of the world’s first and greatest war of national liberation, be going into this sordid business of empire?

The War Party is out of the closet. Behind its feigned fear of Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” being detonated on U.S. soil, the War Party sees an American Empire in the Middle East. Hearken to the latest editorial of the warmongering Wall Street Journal:

“If America is going to spill blood and treasure again, the goal has to be about more than replacing one Iraqi thug with another. The goal this time shouldn’t be merely disarmament or even ‘regime change,’ but the liberation of the Iraqi people and the Middle East.”

What dragged the Journal out of the closet was White House talk that if Iraq disarms and Saddam is ousted, war can be avoided. Why would the Journal be appalled at a bloodless triumph for the Bush policy? Simple. The Bush agenda is not their agenda.

For whatever one thinks of his policy, the president seems sincere in his goal: to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and the “evil” dictator building them, to remove a terrible threat.

But this is not the War Party’s goal. To the War Party, this is but the pretext for stampeding the nation into war to attain its true goal: U.S. imperial domination of the Middle East indefinitely.

“[A]s important as whether the U.S. goes to war,” declares the Journal, “is how to do it in a way that achieves not only a military victory, but also the maximum long-term strategic benefit.”

The Journal is terrified the president may be telling the truth about his war aims and may not share its vision.

“The Bush administration’s talk in recent day of an internal coup overturning Saddam carries an ominous tone,” says the Journal. But why “ominous” if Saddam is Hitler?

“While this would have the short-term advantage of ridding the world of a particularly nasty threat, in the long run it could delay the emergence of a more pluralistic, Western-oriented Iraq and all that means for reshaping the Mideast into a more stable, modernizing region. Saddam-lite is not the answer to Iraq’s problems – or to those of the Arab world.”

Could it be more clear? Unlike propagandized Americans who are daily told of Saddam’s links to the horror of 9-11, of Saddam’s role in the anthrax attack, and of Saddam’s huge and growing arsenal that will be used on us, the Journal has its eyes on the prize. This is a war to reshape the Arab world in America’s image, a war to enable the War Party to play Roman Empire in the Middle East.

And if this is indeed a war to build “a new world order,” as the Journal declares, then it is the American people who are being deceived by their leaders and the Arab world that is being told the truth about the ultimate war aims of the United States.

So the question comes down to this: Has President Bush signed on to the War Party’s agenda? Does his bellicose rhetoric about the threat to the peace of the world come from the heart, or is it the cover story for an imperial invasion and takeover of Mesopotamia? Is he like Reagan, or is he like the great deceiver, FDR?

My own belief is that the president is sincere, that he believes what he is saying, but has not thought through exactly what he intends to do with Iraq once the U.S. Army has conquered it.

Does he have in mind eliminating its weapons, installing a friendly regime and coming home? Or staying on and reshaping Iraq in the American image – a Herculean task involving decades of a U.S. occupation that will be fiercely resisted across the Islamic world?

Congress and the American people are falling in behind the president, but neither the nation, nor the Allies, nor the Arabs, nor the world have signed on to the War Party agenda. Should not this question be answered before – not after – the bugle sounds, the drums roll and the imperial march begins to Baghdad?