By Nancy Waterman
from its inception, the Bush administration's crusade to "liberate"
Iraq has become a violent conflagration of conflicting intentions
and discordant ideologies, with the casualties and the potential
for disaster increasing daily. The wildfire of nationalism
has begun to sweep the land, uniting Sunnis and Shiites for
the first time in centuries against a common enemy, the Americans.
Already, more troops are being injected into the equation,
and the repeated American mantra is that we must "stay the
course and prevail," always accompanied by threatening assurances
of civil war and regional chaos if we do not.
Underlying all of the failures of this war in Iraq, however,
and all of the deception used to get us there, is a flawed
ideology that obsesses a small cabal of neoconservatives currently
sitting in the highest reaches of power. The ambitious and
grandiose plan of men such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney,
Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle, to name but a few, is well-documented
in the writings of the Project for a New American Century
(PNAC). In short, it seeks to maximize American hegemony,
prevent any other nation from competing with that global dominance
- both militarily and economically, and it begins with the
ousting of Saddam Hussein and the creation of a puppet democracy
According to this plan, Iraq would then become a strategic
center for American military power and dominance from which
the entire oil-rich Middle East would be policed and controlled.
It is important to understand that any significant transfer
of authority to the United Nations during the current Iraqi
transition, any allowance of the UN to supervise the creation
of the new government and its economic foundations, is to
relinquish the heart of the neoconservative agenda. This is
why the Bush administration has thus far refused.
But this refusal has grave consequences. It is increasingly
clear to the Arab world, and to Iraq in particular, that America
plans to keep huge military bases in Iraq and control its
oil resources. The grip of the multinationals on the recreated
economy of this devastated land is all too clear. Such actions
only feed the resentment and simmering anger of the Islamic
world and strengthen the accusations of the terrorists, swelling
This neoconservative ideology is like the proverbial elephant
in the living room. It has recently been buried under a lot
of distracting rhetoric about making Iraq a beacon of democracy,
just as it was initially hidden by all the lies about Saddam's
weapons of mass destruction and the coming mushroom cloud.
But it stands as the true reason for our invasion, and it
is the fatal flaw that underlies all of the mistakes, the
unrealistic expectations, and the deceptions of the Bush administration's
Iraq policy. Any sane plan to extract the United States from
Iraq and from the current fiasco must first and foremost define
and then repudiate the entire neoconservative doctrine.
The human race is ever-evolving, and one of the signs of
that evolution is the increase in attempts at global cooperation
and ideals expressed in the 20th and now the 21st Century.
The League of Nations, the United Nations, the International
Criminal Court, the Kyoto Treaty, and numerous other international
treaties, are all examples of this growing phenomenon. The
Bush administration's attempts to unilaterally establish our
power over other nations and at their expense, while refuting
international cooperation, is a throwback to the failures
of the imperialism of the past and ultimately will lead to
disaster. Iraq stands as the signature of the failed neocon
agenda, and the grip of that agenda must be removed from our
Iraq policy, or this nation will continue in the downward
spiral that has already begun.
But there is another elephant in the living room that must
also become a central theme in our national discourse. And
this is America's addiction to oil. In reality, this elephant
helped spawn the first. Without our rapidly growing consumption
of a finite resource, would we be establishing a ring of military
bases around the Middle East? Would we need to aggressively
ensure our oil supply as the likelihood of decreased output
rushes toward us from the future?
In the life of an addict, the landscape is strewn with the
casualties of his addiction. His family, his career, and his
finances are all riddled with chaos, but the tendency is to
blame his wife, his mother, and his boss rather than to face
the truth about his addiction. In reality, it is his substance
abuse, including the changes it creates in his behavior and
the desperate measures he takes in order to satisfy his dependency,
that is the ultimate source of his ever-increasing problems.
America's rapidly growing oil consumption is obscenely out
of proportion with its percentage of the world's population.
But even worse, American military actions, foreign policy,
and environmental policy have all been hijacked by this addiction,
wildly twisted onto a self-destructive collision course by
the contortions necessary to feed a reckless dependency on
oil. The neoconservative plan for global dominance is only
Our environmental policy is another casualty of our oil
addiction. As with the addict who denies as long as possible
the ravages his addiction causes on his health, the current
administration is resolutely ignoring the coming environmental
disaster caused by global warming and the increased pollution
in our homeland. Instead, it is focusing on increasing the
supply and the out-of-control burning of fossil fuels. Meanwhile,
the toxicity of our land and water supply increases, and severe
and irreversible climate changes are imminent.
What is called for is no less than a paradigm shift in our
policies and our world view. The Bush administration is incapable
of such a shift, being joined at the hip with the oil industry.
Our current government is essentially in bed with our "dealer",
the oil companies. And it is the "dealer" who is enriched
by our continuing addiction. Talk about conflict of interest!
From this point on, our energy policy must be seen as inextricably
connected to our foreign policy. Some of the huge sums of
money being used to sustain numerous military bases now ringing
the Middle East need to be siphoned off in a war on our oil
addiction. This would benefit national security, eventually
weaken what motivates the terrorists, benefit the environment,
create numerous new jobs, etc. We could start with mandating
solar panels on all government buildings and public housing.
The factories could be located where the most manufacturing
jobs have been lost.
There is a whole host of polices that can be implemented,
but the public must be educated on the connection between
our irresponsible consumption of resources and our foreign
entanglements. The terrorists don't "hate our freedom." They
hate us being in their world, supporting their repressive
regimes, so that we can ensure a steady supply of the black
gold into our national bloodstream. It is time we took some
responsibility for the mess we are in.
This is not to say we don't continue to utilize police and
intelligence work and military strikes when necessary to remove
terrorism as a threat. But it is to suggest that we had better
look at how our own behavior has incited much of the hatred
and begin to radically change it.
Continuing the Bush/neocon pre-emptive, aggressive policies
is a recipe for disaster. It is a policy that dominates, manipulates,
and lies in order to control the world's resources as a way
to ensure an adequate supply for an inordinate appetite. It
alienates and enrages other countries, it empties the treasury,
creates wars, and pollutes the world. It is time that our
policies not be tainted and distorted by an unhealthy addiction
to oil and a corresponding compulsion to control others.
When the construction contracts in Iraq and the national
resources are returned to Iraqis, and the UN oversees development
in a dispassionate way, much of the resentment will dissipate.
When our government focuses on developing alternative energy
sources and moves away from a need to control and bully the
rest of the world, alliances will again be possible. In a
globalized world, the goals of our nation - economic, environmental,
and even military - will increasingly necessitate coordination
and cooperation with international allies. The alternative
path will only lead to more and more Iraqs.