Birds In The Attic

by Michael W. Stowell

July 1, 2002


Sometime ago a pair of stellar jays took up residence under the eaves of our house and now they have a little family started. They're quite noisy neighbors but I enjoy their presence even though my housemate strongly objects; she's eighty years old and needs her quiet rest. Perusing the news this week, it occurred to me that George Bush has some birds in his attic, too. His may not be leaving anytime soon, though; in fact, he may end up with a whole flock to deal with.

There are those birds from the General Accounting Office. Bush continues to deny the GAO's request for information on who the White House Energy Task Force met with while formulating national energy policy. For the first time in history, the GAO has sued the executive branch for access to the records. It has been more than four months since the GAO filed their suit and more than a year since the White House first received the GAO request. Recently, House Government Reform Committee Ranking Minority Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), the committee's chairman, whether the committee would investigate the political actions of the Bush administration with equal scrutiny the committee had on the Clinton administration. Partisan henpecking? Perhaps, but the Enron egg is broken and all the king's horses and all the king's men will have a difficult time washing the yolk off their faces.

Then a couple days ago we heard the news about WorldCom, which had a peak value of $115.3 billion in June 1999 when its shares reached a high of $62, and is now worth less than $1 billion with shares on sale at 26 cents. Where, oh where, did all that money go? Was it ever there at all? Is the American economy nothing more than a shell game? Does it really exist? Is it all just a dodo gone extinct?

And that pesky Stanley Hilton, the San Francisco attorney and former aide to Senator Bob Dole, who filed a $7 billion lawsuit in U.S. District Court on June 3rd on behalf of the families of 14 victims of 9/11, numbering 400 people nationwide. The class-action suit names ten defendants, among whom are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Norman Mineta and charges Bush and his administration with allowing the September 11th attacks to take place so as to reap political benefits from the catastrophe. Hilton alleges that the administration ignored pressing warnings of the attack and refused to round up suspected terrorists beforehand and that the ultimate motivation behind these acts was achieved when the Taliban was replaced by a regime friendly to America and its oil interests in the region. More than a few worms may be uncovered in this court case, congressional investigations aside.

Perhaps you remember the 2000 election campaign when Bush made the claim that private accounts would not only yield high, low-risk returns, but also save Social Security at the same time? Now that the math has been done we find that plans laid out by Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, though presented as confusingly as possible, involve both severe benefit cuts and infusions of trillions of dollars from an undisclosed source. Where's the money, George? How much security are we getting from the billions you've spent on weapons and the "war on terrorism?" A sociopath can provide security like a rattlesnake can feed chicks.

Recently, my friend Stephen Zunes, the Middle East editor at the Foreign Policy in Focus Project, had a coherent thought on Bush's plan for the formation of a Palestinian state: "It is remarkable how President Bush insists on democratic governance and an end to violence and corruption as a prerequisite for Palestinian self-determination when his administration, as well as many administrations before him, have strongly supported a series of violent, corrupt and autocratic regimes throughout the Middle East and beyond. It should be apparent that Bush's criticisms of Arafat's regime, however valid, are not the reason for denying the Palestinians their right to self-determination. They are the excuse."

Okay, so whom else, do you suppose, would the Palestinian people elect to George W. Bush's satisfaction? I don't believe a puppet can be installed there, so, of course, what Bush and Sharon are really saying is "go away Palestine, disappear!"

And what about the plans to invade Iraq, sometime before the fall elections?

Dr. Zunes, again: "During the Gulf War, the U.S. was able to repel even greater criticism than it might have otherwise received, because it had the support of major segments of the international community, including several Arab states. This would not be the case, however, in the event of a new war against Iraq, which would not be seen as a response to an attack on the U.S. or an act of aggression against an ally. Instead, Washington's actions would be seen as an unprovoked invasion. Unlike in 1991, when most of the region supported -- and even contributed to -- the U.S.-led war effort or were at least neutral, Arab opposition is strong today. Mustapha Alani, a Middle East specialist with the Royal United Services Institute in London noted that 'This is a very sensitive issue for them. Liberating Kuwait is a legitimate objective, but toppling regimes is completely different.' Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah has warned that the U.S. 'should not strike Iraq, because such an attack would only raise animosity in the region against the United States.' When Vice President Dick Cheney visited the Middle East in March, every Arab leader made clear his opposition. At the Beirut summit of the Arab League at the end of the month, the Arab nations unanimously endorsed a resolution opposing an attack against Iraq.

"Even Kuwait has reconciled with Iraq. In March 2002, Iraq and Kuwait signed a document written by Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah al Ahmed al Jabbar al Sabah in which Iraq, for the first time, formally consented to respect the sovereignty of Kuwait. Sabah declared that his country was 100% satisfied with the agreement, and Kuwait reiterated its opposition to a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah called the pact a 'very positive achievement' and expressed confidence that Iraq would uphold the agreement. However, rather than welcoming this breakthrough, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher declared that the U.S. was 'profoundly skeptical' of the accord.

"In the event of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, this lack of regional support would have more than just political implications. Without a land base from which to launch its aerial attacks, the U.S. would have to rely exclusively on Navy jets launched from aircraft carriers. Without permission to launch aerial refueling craft, even long-range bombers from U.S. air bases might not be able to be deployed. It is hard to imagine being able to provide the necessary reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft under such circumstances, and the deployment of tens of thousands of troops from distant staging areas could be problematic as well.

"Finally, there is the question of what happens if the U.S. is successful in overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime. As is becoming apparent in Afghanistan, throwing a government out is easier than putting a new one together. America's Arab allies have expressed concern that an Iraq without a strong central government could disintegrate into Shia Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish ministates. As the European Union's external affairs chief Chris Patten warned: 'The Afghan war perhaps reinforced some dangerous instincts: that the projection of military power is the only basis of true security; that the U.S. can rely on no one but itself; and that allies may be useful as optional extras.'"

(Let's not forget Kosovo when we reflect on the fact that throwing a government out is easier than putting a new one together.)

It became apparent to me some time ago that the hegemony's intent is to maintain control of the main sources of energy, create a huge demand for it, and nurture dependency upon large, expensive and dangerous sources of electricity. The world's petroleum deposits may be all but entirely consumed in about twenty-five years and what will we do then? Nuclear energy, of course; there are thousands of tons of weapon-grade plutonium and uranium to be burned in reactors and oh, by the way, you won't be able to buy any of it at your local hardware store for personal use, it's too dangerous, you know; too many terrorists about.

So they set up Saddam Hussein, stripped him of access to the world's oil market, left him in place so they could maintain restrictions on the flow of oil from Iraq and make more money off the oil pumped in Saudi Arabia (it's a much more cooperative dictatorship). Now it's time to open up those Iraqi wells, but they need a government in power that will cooperate with the hegemony.

This isn't going to be easy, George. In fact, it could be your albatross.

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Fallacies of U.S. Plans to Invade Iraq, by Dr. Stephen Zunes

Foreign Policy In Focus


Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Arcata Library in Arcata, CA. He is the producer/editor/videographer of numerous public access television programs; he is a naturalist, a gardener, a bicyclist and a Swans' columnist.

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Published July 1, 2002
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