World Domination, Inc. Sherif Hetata analyses the forces -- religious, corporatist and militarist -- that are busily earmarking funds to buy George W Bush a second term and underwrite an emerging "Pax Israelica"
I am writing from the living room of my apartment on Peaks Island, near the coast of Maine in the northeastern corner of the United States. From my window I can see the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Living for some time in the US has also allowed me to follow the successive waves of influence of a powerful Zionist wing within the Bush administration, how it has built up an alliance with the strong and active Christian fundamentalist movement, and to realise what is being planned for the future of the Middle East.
Bush is already preparing for the 2004 presidential campaign and has been able to collect $200,000,000 for it. The most active supporters of his campaign will be Zionist forces, the Christian fundamentalist movement and the Catholic right. Together they constitute a powerful electoral force buttressed by multinationals -- especially those involved in arms manufacturing, in oil, in the pharmaceutical industry and in the media -- as well as many higher levels in the armed forces in a country undergoing rapid militarisation. Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi based in Washington, DC and a member of the Iraqi National Council headed by Ahmed Chalabi, commenting on the projected war against Iraq a few months before it was launched, said "The removal of Saddam Hussein presents the United States in particular with a historic opportunity that I believe is going to prove to be as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the entry of the British troops into Iraq in 1917."
As many now know, in 1996 a group of neo- conservatives with declared Zionist leanings and links to the Israeli Likud Party joined together to prepare a report for Benjamin Netanyahu, then prime minister of the Likud government. The group was headed by Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary in the State Department under former President Ronald Reagan, and a member of the Defence Policy Board which advises current Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The ad hoc committee included Douglas Feith, now an assistant secretary for Policy in the Ministry of Defence, David Wurmser from the Middle East division of the American Enterprise Institute and the International Association for Security Policy Studies, the latter's president Robert Loewenburg, Meyrav Wurmser, David Wurmser's wife from the Middle East Media Research Institute run by retired Israeli military and intelligence officers and which includes as one of its main functions translating Arab media as well as statements made by Arab politicians and statesmen. Jonathan Torop from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a member of the board of governors of the Middle East Forum (directed by Daniel Pipes, the pro-Israeli analyst and member of the presidentially- appointed board of the US Institute of Peace), as well as other high level political experts with overt Zionist links. The report was prepared for the high powered Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which serves as a coordinating body for the activities of the various Zionist organisations in the US.
Its recommendations, presented to Netanyahu, were as follows: 1) Make a "clear break" with the policy of negotiating with the Palestinians and attempts to exchange "land for peace". 2) Israel should shape its "strategic" environment by weakening, containing and even "rolling back" Syria. 3) Iraq's future can be made to affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly. 4) The principle of "preemption" should be reestablished. These guidelines for Israeli policy are being put into practice in the US under George W Bush, and by the government of Israel under Ariel Sharon. As regards the principle of "preemptive strikes" it would not be far fetched to say that it is in part Likud inspired, if we remember that the first "preemptive" strike on an Arab country was directed by Israel against the Iraqi nuclear reactor more than 20 years ago.
The presence of a powerful Zionist influence in the American administration is not new. However, in the present administration high level post appointments to Zionists have gained a striking ascendancy, and have eliminated any Arab leanings to speak of, even though the oil connections of the Bush family, of Vice President Dick Cheney, of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and others, continue to play an important role. Neo-conservative Zionist politicians and rhetoricians today occupy key positions. Top of the list comes Paul Wolfowitz. He is the deputy undersecretary to Donald Rumsfeld, yet is considered by many to be more influential than his boss. Others include Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, mentioned above, Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, Peter Rodman and Dov Zakheim, whom both occupy sub- cabinet rank appointments in the Ministry of Defence, John Bolton, undersecretary for arms procurements at the State Department, Eliot Abrams, an Iran-Contra convict appointed by President Bush to be in charge of Middle East Affairs in the National Security Council, and David Frum, of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and who coined the term "Axis of Evil" for use in presidential speeches. James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, and Jeane Kirkpartick, Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations, are also present. And let's not forget William Kristol, the editor of the Evening Standard (owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media magnate who owns Fox News, which boasts over 100 million viewers), and a co-founder of the neo-conservative imperial "Project for a New American Century".
All these high level policy makers believe that US interests in the Middle East coincide largely with those of Israel and as a result the policies of the present administration and the measures it takes should be directed towards making the area "safe" for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. In the neo-conservative strategy papers drawn up six years ago "making the Middle East safe for Israel" meant "redefining Iraq" after "getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical regime", transforming of the Middle East by "redrawing its map", including "regime changes" of governments in the area not completely in line with "American and Israeli interests", "nurturing alternatives to Arafat" and "the end of the Israeli- Palestinian peace process". The enthusiasm with which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others have adopted this stance means that America is now throwing all its weight behind a "Pax Israelica"; behind a total subordination of Arab countries to the predominance of Israel as part of a new imperial plan. It means that Bush's declarations about two states, Israeli and Palestinian, or the "roadmap", or other "non-proposals" of the kind are just smokescreens, or manoeuvres aimed at gaining time until "Sharon" has done his job of "cleansing" Palestine, or of imposing total subjugation on a Palestinian "Bantustan".
Meanwhile the US thinks it can go on with executing the rest of the neo-conservative plan for a permanent military presence in Iraq -- which will guarantee the flow of oil -- with other "preemptive strikes" against Syria (where Sharon has already directed a "symbolic" raid), or against Iran, or any other country in the area where disobedience might grow, or which could constitute a potential threat to US-Israeli interests as visualised by the rulers of those two countries.
Although all these policy nightmares might appear to many people as exaggerated, what has happened since the 11 September attack on the World Trade Centre (which gave the Bush administration the possibility to go ahead with these plans) should alert the peoples of our region and the world to how far the Bush administration is prepared to go. "Preemptive strikes" in the minds of those who developed the concept as policy does not mean waiting until a country has developed nuclear, biological or chemical weapons capable of "mass destruction". It exacts the right to strike at any country which has "the potential" to eventually produce such weapons; in other words at any country with a modicum of development, since the production of chemical and biological weapons in particular is not so difficult an undertaking. This is tantamount to declaring that our societies will not be allowed to develop further, nor allowed to voice any opposition to the United States. They must remain "backward" and "obedient".
So after Iraqi oil has been privatised, the resistance of the Iraqi people quelled (if that is possible), and a permanent military base established, the Bush administration can move on to another stage. A report suggesting military action against Syria was circulated and released three years ago. The signatures on the report included Elliot Abrams, chosen specially by Bush to deal with "democracy and human rights" in the Middle East, according to his official job description within the National Security Council. Signing with him were Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, David Steinmann (chairman of JINSA), David Wurmser and Michael Rubin (the latter both senior consultants to the Pentagon and State Department on policies related to Iraq). All these men are neo-conservative, Zionist supporters of Israel with strong ties to Likud.
On Monday 21 October 2003 Paul Wolfowitz received an award from the Centre for Security Policy chaired by Frank Gaffney, a notorious Zionist and neo-conservative. In his speech Wolfowitz concentrated on the "war against terror". Iraq he said had become a breeding ground for terror from which it could spread to "countries around" and to many other parts of the globe. But things will not stop at Syria or Iran. Next can come changes in the geopolitical structure of Saudi Arabia, seizing of the oil fields and dismantling the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Then, or perhaps at the same time, will come Egypt's turn, for Egypt with its population, its potentialities, although weakened considerably, is still seen as a threat to Israel. Maybe a North Egypt/South Egypt divide built on fomenting religious strife well be how it goes. For then, and only then, in the minds of neo-conservative empire planners can US-Israeli domination rule undisturbed and the Pax Israelica become a fact of life. It's not so far fetched. In August 2002 Richard Perle discussed a policy briefing presented by a study group commissioned by the Rand Corporation. The final slide in the presentation described "Iraq as the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia as the strategic pivot and Egypt as the prize."
What might appear as the wild fantasy of a neo-conservative, military-industrial cabal, enjoys the full approval of a sizeable, active sector of American society. Zionist circles are now closely allied to a powerful fundamentalist movement which has grown noticeably since Reagan was in power, more than 20 years ago. This coupled with the relative passivity of a silent majority in the US increases the dangers we face.
The most zealous Christian supporters of the Likud in the Republican electorate are Southern Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical and other fundamentalist followers. By the 1994 Congressional elections Christian conservatives cast two of every five Republican votes. This religious right believes that God gave all of Palestine to the Jews. Fundamentalist congregations and fundamentalist business circles have collected hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidise Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. The Zionists in the Bush administration have helped to speed up the growth of a messianic strain of Christian fundamentalism which considers warfare between Israelis and Arabs as ordained by God, and complete occupation and domination of Palestine as a necessary condition for the fulfilment of the Biblical "millennium" End of Days, and the appearance of the Messiah who will rule the world for one thousand years from Jerusalem.
These right-wing extremists exert a considerable influence in the Bush administration. The result is that Jewish fundamentalists struggling to impose Israeli domination, and Christian fundamentalists working for the so-called "millennial" End of Days, strengthen one another and increase the changes of a religious war. They are allied for an agenda which aims at implementing a vast imperial restructuring of the Middle East, reinforced by multinationals pirating for oil and the tremendous powers exercised by people like Bush, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.
Irrespective of a few symbolic declarations from the Bush administration meant to help justify the craven policies of Arab regimes obedient to the United States in the eyes of the Arab peoples, and to encourage the illusion that the "peace process" is still alive, Sharon therefore has powerful support from the United States. Only recently, on two occasions, John Negroponte, the US representative in the UN Security Council, vetoed two resolutions promoted by the Arab States. The first resolution called on Israel to cease building the "wall" separating it and the scattered enclaves meant to "imprison" the Palestinians on limited areas of their land. The second was a resolution condemning the Israeli aerial bombing of Syria. These vetoes have underlined the collapse of the "roadmap" comedy initiated by Bush. The building of the "wall" or "fence" composed of an armoured zone of ditches, fences, sensors, and dirt roads for tracking footprints goes ahead. It is 28 feet high in places. It occupies, steals and divides Palestinian farmland. It destroys Palestinian villages, homes and livelihoods. It costs one million dollars for each mile.
Recently, during the third week of October, there were two simultaneous raids on Rafah separated by two days -- the biggest raids in many months. The first raid killed eight people, two of whom were children, and made 100 homeless. The second killed another eight people, wounded scores and destroyed 1,000 homes by bulldozers or rockets and made over 1,200 people homeless. The Israelis in order to clear space between the "fence" and Rafah had already previously razed 620 homes. Meanwhile, the Herut- offspring minister in Sharon's cabinet, Ehud Olmert, proposed that Yasser Arafat be assassinated to be rid of him once and for all. On 16 September 2003 the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution asking Israel to desist from its threats to deport him. Israel continues to build new settlements or expand old ones, and to change the face of Jerusalem. Palestinians are being steadily corralled into shrinking Bantustans and made to subsist on grossly inadequate European or other-country aid.
As the days go by it has become clear that Sharon has no intention of dismantling the settlements and handing back occupied territory to the Palestinians. There are a quarter of a million heavily armed, and heavily subsidised, Israeli settlers in these territories and their numbers are growing. Most of these settlers are prepared to kill if they are asked to, and many of them are hard-headed fundamentalists with a terrorist streak. Israel has consistently and blatantly refused to respect UN resolutions demanding withdrawal from the occupied territories. Israel is also the only Middle Eastern state known to possess genuine and lethal weapons of mass destruction. Israel under Sharon has decided to keep control of the "occupied territories", and to get rid of the overwhelming majority of the Arab-Palestinian population either by violence and forcible expulsion, or by depriving them of any means of livelihood so that in the face of starvation they choose to leave. Israel knows that with the Iraqi war the United States under Bush has finally decided to destabilise the Middle East and reconfigure the region in a manner that would be favourable to her.
If there are still people who think that Sharon's ethnic plans are unthinkable they should try to follow the steady erosion of opposition to these plans during the past years within Israel itself. They should also remember the steady increase in land settlements and land seizures over the past 25 years, and the many statements made by right-wing Israeli politicians and generals at the helm. The peace process is in its death throes. As Arabs, we must seriously assess the magnitude of the forces our people face. Only then might we address not merely prudently, but realistically, the issue of supporting the Palestinian resistance.
Maybe I have painted a rather bleak and frightening picture of what the peoples of our region face. I realise that such a picture can become counter productive in the struggle against neo- imperialist forces. These forces are intent on convincing us that they are so powerful, so overwhelming that there is no use trying to resist. If they succeed in doing so truly all is lost. But numerous peoples all over the world have become, or are becoming convinced that resistance is desirable, and possible, and that their resistance sooner or later will prevail. People who think that way do not limit themselves to remembering the massive pre-war demonstrations that broke out before America and the United Kingdom launched their attack against Iraq. On 25 October 2003 a new wave of demonstrations swept through streets in countries including the US. Already, things are not going entirely according to the neo-imperialist plan.
Bush was hoping that resistance to his aggressive policies would be vanquished by the exercise of overwhelming military force first in Afghanistan but more importantly in Iraq. Once the Iraqi army was crushed the US occupation forces would be able to destroy, coerce or bribe any potential resistance. Then the Bush administration could move quickly to privatise Iraqi oil and engage its next "major theatre" wars against Syria, Iran, North Korea, and others. But what is happening in Afghanistan is largely surrounded by silence. The truth is that apart from Kabul the occupation forces control nothing. The rest is divided up among the warlords, but more significant is the fact that the Taliban are steadily regaining control of important parts of the land they had lost, and that US forces there are facing something akin to the war of attrition that sapped the lifeblood of the Soviets for 10 years until their final, ignominious withdrawal in February 1989.
However, the more pressing problem is Iraq. With 150,000 troops stationed in the country, attacks against the occupation forces are spreading, control is loosening and difficulties are increasing. American families are losing their sons. General Anthony Zinni, former head of the Central Command of US military forces, asks "Are we facing another Vietnam?" as the "resistance fighters" gain more experience and versatility, and as popular resistance expresses itself in a variety of ways. Some of these "fighters" may be coming from other places, some of them may be fundamentalists but the majority come from the ranks of the Iraqi people who for so long have had it the hard way. The chances of an early withdrawal is becoming more and more remote as the period of active service for troops is continuously extended. A month or so ago a small item appeared in The New York Times announcing that new forces would be recruited for the National Guard and the Reserves, upon whom the US government draws in composing the Iraqi occupation forces.
With a total national deficit which has reached almost half-a-trillion (500 million) dollars the Bush administration asked for, and got, an extra $87 billion for "Emergency Spending" on Iraq and Afghanistan. This is in addition to the first instalment of $75 billion granted previously by Congress (the first Gulf war in 1991, by comparison, cost $9 billion, paid mainly by the Gulf countries). The occupation of Iraq costs $6 billion a month, shouldered by American taxpayers in a situation where they face growing economic difficulties. In 2002 the number of unemployed rose by 1,350,000, and the number of those who were no longer covered by health insurance increased by two million. All at a time when the rich are paying less taxes.
All these factors, combined with a rapid loss of whatever civil liberties and democratic rights were enjoyed by American citizens, is reflected in recent "opinion polls" which show that in the past six months those supporting the "war policies" of the Bush administration have dropped from 70 per cent to 49 per cent. The Bush administration is therefore facing mounting pressures which make a military blow against Syria or Iran more unlikely, although some neo- conservatives in the administration seem to think that the policy of the "worst" gives them a freer hand to follow the path they have chosen. Besides, Israel is always there to act as a proxy with full US support.