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William Rivers Pitt: Murder for Profit

Murder for Profit

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday, 16 September, 2002

Some will tell you that the sudden, seemingly inexplicable rush to war with Iraq is nothing more or less than a ruse to get economic scandals off the front pages and out of the nightly news cycles. July was a catastrophically bad month for the Bush administration. Every time George spoke on camera, the Dow Jones would melt through the floorboards. The shady, patently illegal dealings of his old company, Harken, were a regular topic for the news talk shows. His Vice President had gone into hiding to avoid subpoenas that would compel him to spill the beans about another criminal enterprise, Halliburton, as well as the ways and means of the back-room corporate dealings which led to the Bush administration's energy plan. Hovering over it all like the raven was Enron, and all the winding financial roads that led from Ken Lay to the Oval Office.

If it was and is all a ruse, it has worked masterfully. The coming mid-term elections, which had appeared this summer to portend a fantastic wipeout at the polls for the Republican Party because of all the economic uncertainty, now will likely be all about Iraq and patriotism. This change in the conversation has been aided and abetted by the media, which would vastly prefer to report on war while broadcasting grainy green images of explosions far away. The economic stuff was boring and depressing, and people were switching it all off because it was too much to bear. This change was also aided by Congressional Democrats who forgot all too easily about Enron and Harken, thus allowing Bush and his people to frame the conversation in much more comfortable terms. It is all a smokescreen, and there will be no war.

Others will tell you that, in fact, there is no ruse. The Bush administration means to make war on Iraq, and that right soon. The GOP platform for the 2000 election set its cap for "regime change" before Bush was finished with the primaries. Bush's challenge to the United Nations, that they must "show some backbone" in this push or be made irrelevant, demonstrates that America intends to attack Iraq with or without an international mandate. American forces have been augmented in the region, warships have been put to sea and navigated towards the Persian Gulf, Air Force expeditionary wings have been ordered to make ready for combat, orders for many new "smart bombs" have been placed to weapons contractors, medical reservists have been called to active duty, and divisions of Marines have had their training schedules disrupted to prepare them for deployment. One does not do all these things lightly and to no real purpose.

All the while, administration officials like Dick Cheney have frothed into every microphone available, beating the war drum with martial vigor. The Bush administration has invested an incredible amount of political capital into this coming war. The neo-conservative base Bush enjoys has been whipped into a frenzy. If his administration fails to attack Saddam Hussein, there will be a wild revolt along his flank that will make the outrage vented over his signing of the campaign finance reform bill sound like the squeaking of a mouse by comparison.

It has to be one or the other, right? Either the whole push towards war in Iraq is a Karl Rovian ploy to change the conversation and save the GOP from annihilation at the polls in November, or it is an actual charge into battle for reasons codified in the Republican Party platform before George W. Bush even became the nominee.

The simple, monstrous truth of the matter is that both of these scenarios are in play simultaneously, linked by political opportunism and the desires of empire.

Bush will go to war in Iraq to satisfy the dreams of the neo-conservative hawks in his administration - Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney to name a few - who wish more than anything to redraw the map of the Middle East and institute "regime changes" in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran. Iraq is merely a starting point, the "tactical pivot" described in a summer briefing to Perle's Defense Policy Board by Rand corporation think-tankers, which will open the rest of the region to attack. Make no mistake: These are the men running American foreign policy today, as well as the War on Terror, and they want "total war" in that region. They have admitted that they have no idea what will come of it - thousands of dead American troops, tens or hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, massive retaliatory terrorism on our shores - but they are more than willing to pay that price to gain a permanent hold on that strategically vital region.

Bush will also go to war to satisfy the desires of men like Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff who looks at politics and policy through the eyes of a marketing strategist. Until recently, the product Card had to sell to the American people was smeared with scandal and economic ruin. Bush and his corporate friends have treated the Treasury, and the stock-rooted retirement dreams of millions of Americans, the way a hammer-wielding thief treats a jewelry store display case during a smash-and grab robbery. This was a recipe for disaster come November. War on Iraq has stripped that old, damaged product from the shelves, replacing it with a martial President surging forth against a dangerous foe. The weeks of hemming and hawing over whether or not to go it alone, salted with vastly overstated descriptions of the threat posed by Iraq, and culminating with Bush's appearance before the UN, has changed the national debate completely. Card's new product is priced to move.

We must face a wretched truth. George W. Bush has allowed, and will continue to allow, a course for war to be charted in order to save his party at the polls in November. At the same time, he has given free rein to the neo-con hawks in his administration to begin a process of total war in the Middle East in order to secure petroleum profits for the foreseeable future. Untold hundreds or thousands of Americans will die in this process, as will tens of thousands of innocent civilians. One can only guess the number of American civilians who will die in their own country at the hands of the terrorists who will doubtlessly attack America again in response to this program.

This is murder for profit, a capitol crime meriting the gas chamber for any American convicted of it in a court of law. Period.


William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. His new book, 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence,' will be published soon by Pluto Press.

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