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News ::
War On Iraq? Ten Years From Now, What Will You Tell Your Children?  (english)
06 Oct 2002
Modified: 07 Oct 2002
Read only if you have an open mind (and I know I'm going to get you looking even if you don't with this kind of summary ;-) Are we being lied to? Let me walk you through some history. Let me challenge you to look in the mirror and face your (future) children.
Feel free to copy the URL (web address) to this story and email it to your
friends and family.  Do not forward the whole story as the referenced links
will likely not appear correctly, making it difficult for your reader to see the
documentation.  Use the URL only.
 
War On Iraq?  Ten Years From Now, What Will You Tell Your Children? 
By a concerned historian
The bottom-line is that there are other ways to solve the "Iraq
problem," and containment has worked for over ten years. Furthermore, the Bush
administration planned to invade Iraq four years ago (see Sunday
Herald, a respected U.K newspaper).  The U.S. mainstream media hasn't
rushed to inform you of that little detail, and U.S.
commentators that address this fact usually joke about conspiracy theories
to lessen the chance of taking heat from angry letters to the editor and irate
media bosses.  
War with Iraq is primarily about oil.  The terrorism arguments have some
truth, however.  Propaganda never works, after all, if there isn't some
measure of truth behind the message.  But the fact is, "our" action could
inspire thousands of new terrorists. Nevertheless, even the Washington Post speaks openly
about oil being the key issue -- on it's front page, no less.  Although you have to read between the lines
(WP,
Sept. 15, 2002).   
Within a couple of years, the world is likely going to reach the midpoint of
all petroleum product extraction.  Many oil industry executives know this,
and that's why BP has changed it's slogan to "Beyond Petroleum,"
leaving "British Petroleum" in the dust bin of marketing
history.  Highly respected industry scientists like Dr. Colin Campbell talk
about the issue (e.g., RealVideo
Presentation [in English after the five minute German intro]; here are the slides
he used in that presentation).  Even the U.S. Geological Survey documents
note that the midpoint is not far off.  The Middle East and the Caspian
regions house the world's largest untapped resources, and the U.S. seeks to
control them.  Don't take my word for it.  Just read Zbigniew
Brzezinski's book, The
Grand Chessboard:  American Primacy and It's Geostrategic Imperatives. 
Better still, just enter that title into an internet search engine and read articles
about it, like this revealing one by Mike Ferner, a former Navy serviceman. 
No sense in giving royalty revenue to Brzezinski.  As a member of the foreign
policy elite on par with Henry Kissinger, he doesn't need your money.
 
WARS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BUILT ON LIES 
Does the U.S. Government use propaganda and outright lies to get the American
people to buy into wars?  Study history and you will be shocked.  You
will find that propaganda and lies are the norm, rather than the
exception.  For example, take the 1990-91 Gulf War.  Check out this Christian
Science Monitor article, (In War, Some Facts Less Than Factual,
September 6, 2002; backup google cache). 
Chicanery ran amuck, and even a U.S. public relations firm created a bogus story
for testimony to Congress, lying about how babies were thrown on the floor by
Iraqi soldiers busting Kuwaiti incubators.  The publisher of Harpers
Magazine, John MacArthur, documents this and discusses it in two radio
short interviews with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now (part
1) (part
2).  He's not alone in documenting this chapter in recent history, but
that radio interview offers a good summary and further context on the general
phenomena of lies used to make Americans want war.  There's even some
indication that George Bush Sr.'s ambassador, April Glaspie, provided Saddam
Hussein with the impression that the U.S. would not act against an Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait.  The
true history on this episode is a bit murky, but there can be no refuting
the fact that lies and propaganda ran amuck once Hussein had already invaded.
So, what is the U.S. up to today?  Given a leaked story that first
surfaced in the Times of London, one of the most reputable newspapers in the
world, we now know that the Bush administration is planning to spend $200
million of our tax dollars for PR firm actions and other propaganda.  A
commentary on this and the link to the original Times of London article can be
seen by clicking
here (the link to the Times of London story is at the bottom).
Dear God, even if you support the war on Iraq, it should anger you to a boil
that virtually every war America has fought has been pushed upon the American
people with a host of lies and propaganda meant to whip the populous into a
frenzy.  Americans are not stupid, and most Americans are not
pacifists.  Most of us will support war when there is valid, real and sound
logic.  But the fact is, most wars are not about easily digestible
logic.  Wars are usually the byproduct of economic system
necessities.  Bush knows he can't ask you to go to war for the preservation
of the petroleum economy (plastics, fertilizers, etc., never mind gasoline and
natural gas for electricity, heating and cooking) for another 25 years, a war to
buy time to extract remaining value in the petroleum economy while permitting
the gradual establishment of alternative energy production.  Ask yourself why the
Bush administration approves of hydrogen fuel cell cars that are ten years away
and which will be part and parcel of a hydrogen economy that will be controlled
by the current oil industry companies, while at the same time, the U.S.
government provides little to no economic incentives like tax breaks on hybrid
cards that exist today, cars that would reduce oil industry profits in the next
ten years.  
Sure, fighting terrorism is frosting on the cake.  We are supposed to get
that frosting, if you believe Bush.  But don't delude yourself.  The cake itself is global empire, and
whether or not we actually lessen future terrorism by invading Iraq in "regime
change" (drop the euphemisms, OK) is debatable.  The fact is,
Americans are not stupid.  That's why our government constantly lies to
us.  Take it as a compliment.
If you study history, you will find many other examples of propaganda and
revisionist history deconstructed with the passage of time.  Some examples
include:
* The Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was not only allowed to happen, but
FDR executed a carefully developed plan to lead the Japanese into the
attack.  At the time, Americans were sick of "European Wars,"
fresh off World War I, the war that President Wilson told us would make the
world "safe for democracy."  In 1940, over seventy percent of the
American population didn't want anything to do with World War II.  FDR had
to change public opinion, and could conveniently slow down Japan at the same
time by threatening Japan's access to oil.  (Sources:  one;
two; three
.... and many others;  ultimately, I believe WWII was a "just
war," excluding the nuclear bombing of Japan and the firebombing of Dresden
to be sure, but FDR nevertheless lied, and it took 50 years for the revisionist
history to be fully deconstructed)
* The 1898 Spanish-American war was pushed on America by calls to
"Remember the Maine."  But in fact, Spain didn't blow up
our ship in Cuba.  It was either an accidental explosion of the ship's
boiler, or a U.S.-planned explosion of the ship's boiler.  This is beyond
question and fully documented.
* The Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam that got Congress to give President Lyndon
Johnson a "blank check" was in fact
bogus
And on and on....  Nothing herein is conspiracy theory.  It's all thoroughly
documented historical fact.  Study history and you'll find many other
examples.
 
THE U.S. IS NOW HONEST AND PUBLIC ABOUT "OUR" EMPIRE
The U.S. foreign policy establishment openly discusses the merits and issues
related to U.S. global empire.  Don't take my word for it.  Just read Foreign
Affairs, the most respected and influential foreign policy journal in the
entire world, published by the Council on Foreign Relations.  A prime
example can be found in an article in the current (September/October) issue
titled "America's Imperial Ambition," by Georgetown University
professor G John Ikenberry.  Ikenberry notes that America "will use
its unrivalled military power to manage the global order."  You can
see part of this article at the Foreign Affairs website,
but they only show the first part of articles to non-subscribers (any American
university library will have the journal in their stacks).  Alternatively,
you can read a summary of the article in the reputable Asian
Times.  No two ways about it, the Bush administration
"neo-conservative" Chicken Hawks have an aggressive
"understanding" of what Pax Americana means.  For perspective and
links to further information, check out this San
Francisco Chronicle editorial. 
 
BE ABLE TO LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND TO FACE YOUR KIDS
Don't be lazy.  Get out and join demonstrators calling for alternatives
to war.  Fax, call and write your Congressional representatives (don't
email or sign those web petitions because those are ignored, in part, because
Congress knows those channels are too easily manipulated, and therefore not truly
representative).  Those actions do make a difference.  Bush, after
all, wasn't initially going to bother with the U.N.  A contributing factor
in his decision to go to the U.N. was the Democrats slowly getting half a spine
as an increasing number of average Americans flooded Congress with messages of
opposition (never
mind the fact that the media has, for the most part, not reported this fact).
How will you look at your children in the years to come if you didn't make a
stand?  Sure, we may not be able to stop this war.  But the point is
that if you do nothing, you have to live with yourself.  
I don't profess to have the answers, and I'm not a pacifist.  But I know
when I'm being lied to, and I know that this particular war will not serve our
long-term interest.  Containment has worked against Iraq and we have no
reason to rush our other alternatives because containment addresses the red
herring argument about Iraq working on nukes and other weapons of mass
destruction.  We can have containment while strong sanctions and disarmament
efforts take place.   Iraq doesn't represent a clear and present
danger in the immediate future -- period, end of report.  Any statement to
the contrary is a lie.  And to all of you that think war can be the answer,
fine...  Maybe in a year or two, if the situation changes, a war may be
justified.  But stop the lies.  Even the CIA is talking about Iraq
having the ability to finalize nuclear production in a minimum of seven years,
and weapons inspectors can find fissionable material for "dirty bombs"
more easily than just about any other type of dangerous substance because
nuclear material radiation is more easily detected than other substances that
can be used in weapons of mass destruction.  And sure, Saddam Hussein is a
cruel dictator that represses his own people and has used chemical weapons on
his own people.  But
the United States helped him build those weapons and we didn't do squat when he
used them on his own people.  The fact is that the dictates of
geopolitical strategy come with policies that are contradictory when set
side-by-side and with the removal of intervening years.  
Enough innocent people have died already (over 500,000 Iraqi children under sanctions
according to the U.N.), and constantly throwing military might around in an
unstable region could quite literally result in global nuclear war and the
extinction of humanity.  You think I'm exaggerating?  Sadly, I'm
not.  Only the probability is debatable.  Israel has already informed the world she will likely retaliate if
Iraq attacks with missiles (regardless of what Iraq's missiles carry). 
That could lead to various chain reactions, regardless of what Israel
decides to use.  And the fact is, the U.S. and Russian missile early
warning systems have had scores of false alarms.  We were 30 seconds away
from extinction when Yeltsin's generals were telling him the U.S. had launched a
surprise nuclear attack in 1995.  The U.S. has a first-strike nuclear
doctrine, so Moscow is edgy when their early warning systems sound false alarms (even though the media almost never discusses this in public).  It
turned out to be the launch of a satellite that went off course in time to have
the Russians realize it wasn't a rocket heading for Moscow.  All of this is
documented by Dr. Helen Caldicott (see below).  A domino-style regional
conflict might happen in the Middle East, and that could stress these early warning systems,
triggering accidental nuclear war.  India and Pakistan might go on edge too,
compounding the risk of computer-generated nuclear war.  Humanity dances at
the risk of Murphy's Law.  One of these days, we could all be vaporized or die in
global nuclear winter.  Ignorance is not bliss, it's a game of Russian roulette,
and the stakes are human extinction.  
Don't read into my statement incorrectly.  I'm not a wishy-washy liberal
thinker, and you can argue that the odds of the extinction scenario is
low.  But don't lie to yourself.  The probability is somewhere between
zero and 1.  It is not zero, and as a result, we live in an insane
world.  By definition, extinction of humanity is insanity.  I know all
to well that the world is full of contradictions and that on some levels, it
seems rational to many people that our global political and economic system is set-up the way
that it is.  But the fact remains that while the system "works,"
it simultaneously fails miserably.  A system that, as a byproduct, creates
a world were extinction is possible is insane and worthy of CONSTANT calm
discussion and analysis (not the crap we get on TV);  furthermore, the
imbalances created in a world that is capable of creating 500 people that own
about 50% of planet's wealth (versus a population in excess of 6,000,000,000) is also worthy
of calm discussion and analysis.  That's another ball of wax and beyond the
scope of this open letter.  But if
you want to end terrorism once and for all, some solution (I don't know what it
is) to create a bit more equality in our world is the only way, regardless of
the fact that you are correct if you argue that poor nations and the Islamic
world has at least some (NOT ALL -- hardly) share of "blame" for their current
status.  Facing the possibility of the extinction of humanity, even the
mega-rich have a vested interest in trying to figure out how to continue to
dominate, but with a softer step.  So, my message to the global elite: 
get a grip, or your great great grandchildren will never exist, and don't delude
yourself (as some of you have) with eugenics, population control and
orchestrated genocides because that will not guarantee the existence of your
future generations.  The Samuel P. Huntington "Clash
of Civilizations" paradigm may accurately describe the world in some
respects, but
following that paradigm will doom your great great grandchildren -- they will
never exist.  Truth be told, the global elite (and/or their advisors)
understand these truths, but they
don't know what paradigm can be put in place as an alternative that will simultaneously
preserve their status.  Sadly, the world will likely have to wait for all
hell to break loose before the global elite sees it in their interest to embrace
an alternative paradigm.  But it will only take a few visionaries among
them, combined with the voices of the masses.     
Dr. Helen Caldicott has spent nearly her entire life studying the risk that
humanity may extinguish itself.  Her new book, The
New Nuclear Danger:  George W. Bush's Military Industrial Complex is
mandatory reading for anyone that cares about preventing the extinction of the
human race (and it's a very readable book;  it's not for egg-heads). 
You can get a taste for her views by checking
out this radio interview and speech.  Forgive what may seem as a
digression from the discussion of Iraq, but in truth, everything is connected in
the often contradictory world of geopolitics.  Heck, while I'm at it, I
have one more book recommendation for you:  The
War on Freedom:  How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001. 
No other book will likely make you think as much as this one.  It will blow
your mind.
I am not a communist, nor an anarchist.  I'm not a revolutionary of any
stripe.  I do believe in the functioning of the capitalist system when
there is some balance provided by government (don't get me started on corruption
in America), coupled with honest religion and spiritualism on the part of the
population.  Marx did have one thing right, however.  Religion often
is the opiate of the masses, and we definitely see this in parts of the
"religious right" in America.  To my fundamentalist
Christian "born again" countrymen (this includes George W. Bush) that
stand idly by for an eventual heaven, I ask you how you can believe biblical
prophecy of Armageddon justifies the abrogation of many of Christ's other teachings
in our nation's day-to-day lives?  Hey, believe in the prophecies of
rapture and Armageddon all you want.  I'm OK with that, I guess...  But acknowledge
the fact that you have a contradiction on your hands.  You're ignoring many
of Christ's other teachings on how you must live your lives.   This
paragraph is tangential, but still relevant even to agnostics and atheists (I'm
somewhat in that camp) because a great many of the "leaders" taking us
down the path to war believe in these fundamental and thoroughly contradictory tenants
of the New Testament.
 
SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
So, what's it going to be?  Are you going to get out on the street and PEACEFULLY
demonstrate?  Are you going to contact your Congressional
representatives?  Are you going to contact gatekeepers in the media,
demanding that they report on the fact that Congress has been flooded with
messages from Americans, messages that are over 95% against war with Iraq
(opinion polls are deceptive by the way questions are asked, and although
"protestors" are motivated and are thus messaging in a higher
percentage relative to public opinion on the whole, I have no doubt that the
true percentage of the American public that doesn't want war with Iraq is around
70%)?  
So, what's it going to be?  Are you going to buy into the idea that you
have no power, no voice?  If you do nothing, what are you going to tell
your children ten years from now?  Hopefully, we'll all still be here.
Thank you for your time,
A concerned historian
Photo Credits:  1) Bush photo for "fair use" only under US
Copyright law;  source:  Reuters, Kevin Lamarque;  2) Family at
Portland demonstration, October 5, 2002, Portland
IndyMedia.
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The president's real goal in Iraq (english)
07 Oct 2002

"fair use" only

A perspective from the mainstream media on some of the subjects I addressed.
-- concerned historian

-------------

The president's real goal in Iraq
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 29, 2002
By Jay Bookman

Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/opinion/bookman/
backup: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=2412

-----------

The official story on Iraq has never made sense. The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence.

The pieces just didn't fit. Something else had to be going on; something was missing.

In recent days, those missing pieces have finally begun to fall into place. As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.

Once that is understood, other mysteries solve themselves. For example, why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled?

Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran.

In an interview Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brushed aside that suggestion, noting that the United States does not covet other nations' territory. That may be true, but 57 years after World War II ended, we still have major bases in Germany and Japan. We will do the same in Iraq.

And why has the administration dismissed the option of containing and deterring Iraq, as we had the Soviet Union for 45 years? Because even if it worked, containment and deterrence would not allow the expansion of American power. Besides, they are beneath us as an empire. Rome did not stoop to containment; it conquered. And so should we.

Among the architects of this would-be American Empire are a group of brilliant and powerful people who now hold key positions in the Bush administration: They envision the creation and enforcement of what they call a worldwide "Pax Americana," or American peace. But so far, the American people have not appreciated the true extent of that ambition.

Part of it's laid out in the National Security Strategy, a document in which each administration outlines its approach to defending the country. The Bush administration plan, released Sept. 20, marks a significant departure from previous approaches, a change that it attributes largely to the attacks of Sept. 11.
To address the terrorism threat, the president's report lays out a newly aggressive military and foreign policy, embracing pre-emptive attack against perceived enemies. It speaks in blunt terms of what it calls "American internationalism," of ignoring international opinion if that suits U.S. interests. "The best defense is a good offense," the document asserts.

It dismisses deterrence as a Cold War relic and instead talks of "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities."

In essence, it lays out a plan for permanent U.S. military and economic domination of every region on the globe, unfettered by international treaty or concern. And to make that plan a reality, it envisions a stark expansion of our global military presence.

"The United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia," the document warns, "as well as temporary access arrangements for the long-distance deployment of U.S. troops."
The report's repeated references to terrorism are misleading, however, because the approach of the new National Security Strategy was clearly not inspired by the events of Sept. 11. They can be found in much the same language in a report issued in September 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire.

"At no time in history has the international security order been as conducive to American interests and ideals," the report said. stated two years ago. "The challenge of this coming century is to preserve and enhance this 'American peace.' "

Familiar themes

Overall, that 2000 report reads like a blueprint for current Bush defense policy. Most of what it advocates, the Bush administration has tried to accomplish. For example, the project report urged the repudiation of the anti-ballistic missile treaty and a commitment to a global missile defense system. The administration has taken that course.

It recommended that to project sufficient power worldwide to enforce Pax Americana, the United States would have to increase defense spending from 3 percent of gross domestic product to as much as 3.8 percent. For next year, the Bush administration has requested a defense budget of $379 billion, almost exactly 3.8 percent of GDP.
It advocates the "transformation" of the U.S. military to meet its expanded obligations, including the cancellation of such outmoded defense programs as the Crusader artillery system. That's exactly the message being preached by Rumsfeld and others.

It urges the development of small nuclear warheads "required in targeting the very deep, underground hardened bunkers that are being built by many of our potential adversaries." This year the GOP-led U.S. House gave the Pentagon the green light to develop such a weapon, called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, while the Senate has so far balked.

That close tracking of recommendation with current policy is hardly surprising, given the current positions of the people who contributed to the 2000 report.

Paul Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary. John Bolton is undersecretary of state. Stephen Cambone is head of the Pentagon's Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation. Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises Rumsfeld. I. Lewis Libby is chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Dov Zakheim is comptroller for the Defense Department.

'Constabulary duties'

Because they were still just private citizens in 2000, the authors of the project report could be more frank and less diplomatic than they were in drafting the National Security Strategy. Back in 2000, they clearly identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as primary short-term targets, well before President Bush tagged them as the Axis of Evil. In their report, they criticize the fact that in war planning against North Korea and Iraq, "past Pentagon wargames have given little or no consideration to the force requirements necessary not only to defeat an attack but to remove these regimes from power."

To preserve the Pax Americana, the report says U.S. forces will be required to perform "constabulary duties" -- the United States acting as policeman of the world -- and says that such actions "demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations."

To meet those responsibilities, and to ensure that no country dares to challenge the United States, the report advocates a much larger military presence spread over more of the globe, in addition to the roughly 130 nations in which U.S. troops are already deployed.

More specifically, they argue that we need permanent military bases in the Middle East, in Southeast Europe, in Latin America and in Southeast Asia, where no such bases now exist. That helps to explain another of the mysteries of our post-Sept. 11 reaction, in which the Bush administration rushed to install U.S. troops in Georgia and the Philippines, as well as our eagerness to send military advisers to assist in the civil war in Colombia.
The 2000 report directly acknowledges its debt to a still earlier document, drafted in 1992 by the Defense Department. That document had also envisioned the United States as a colossus astride the world, imposing its will and keeping world peace through military and economic power. When leaked in final draft form, however, the proposal drew so much criticism that it was hastily withdrawn and repudiated by the first President Bush.

Effect on allies

The defense secretary in 1992 was Richard Cheney; the document was drafted by Wolfowitz, who at the time was defense undersecretary for policy.

The potential implications of a Pax Americana are immense.

One is the effect on our allies. Once we assert the unilateral right to act as the world's policeman, our allies will quickly recede into the background. Eventually, we will be forced to spend American wealth and American blood protecting the peace while other nations redirect their wealth to such things as health care for their citizenry.

Donald Kagan, a professor of classical Greek history at Yale and an influential advocate of a more aggressive foreign policy -- he served as co-chairman of the 2000 New Century project -- acknowledges that likelihood.

"If [our allies] want a free ride, and they probably will, we can't stop that," he says. But he also argues that the United States, given its unique position, has no choice but to act anyway.

"You saw the movie 'High Noon'? he asks. "We're Gary Cooper."

Accepting the Cooper role would be an historic change in who we are as a nation, and in how we operate in the international arena. Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign policy, a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military intervention.

For the same reason, Kagan and others shy away from terms such as empire, understanding its connotations. But they also argue that it would be naive and dangerous to reject the role that history has thrust upon us. Kagan, for example, willingly embraces the idea that the United States would establish permanent military bases in a post-war Iraq.

"I think that's highly possible," he says. "We will probably need a major concentration of forces in the Middle East over a long period of time. That will come at a price, but think of the price of not having it. When we have economic problems, it's been caused by disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be no disruption in oil supplies."

Costly global commitment

Rumsfeld and Kagan believe that a successful war against Iraq will produce other benefits, such as serving an object lesson for nations such as Iran and Syria. Rumsfeld, as befits his sensitive position, puts it rather gently. If a regime change were to take place in Iraq, other nations pursuing weapons of mass destruction "would get the message that having them . . . is attracting attention that is not favorable and is not helpful," he says.

Kagan is more blunt.

"People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react," he notes. "Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet since we started blowing things up."

The cost of such a global commitment would be enormous. In 2000, we spent $281 billion on our military, which was more than the next 11 nations combined. By 2003, our expenditures will have risen to $378 billion. In other words, the increase in our defense budget from 1999-2003 will be more than the total amount spent annually by China, our next largest competitor.

The lure of empire is ancient and powerful, and over the millennia it has driven men to commit terrible crimes on its behalf. But with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, a global empire was essentially laid at the feet of the United States. To the chagrin of some, we did not seize it at the time, in large part because the American people have never been comfortable with themselves as a New Rome.

Now, more than a decade later, the events of Sept. 11 have given those advocates of empire a new opportunity to press their case with a new president. So in debating whether to invade Iraq, we are really debating the role that the United States will play in the years and decades to come.

Are peace and security best achieved by seeking strong alliances and international consensus, led by the United States? Or is it necessary to take a more unilateral approach, accepting and enhancing the global dominance that, according to some, history has thrust upon us?

If we do decide to seize empire, we should make that decision knowingly, as a democracy. The price of maintaining an empire is always high. Kagan and others argue that the price of rejecting it would be higher still.

That's what this is about.

-------------------------------------------------

SIDEBAR IN ARTICLE:
CONTRIBUTORS TO 2000 REPORT

"Rebuilding America's Defenses," a 2000 report by the Project for the New American Century, listed 27 people as having attended meetings or contributed papers in preparation of the report. Among them are six who have since assumed key defense and foreign policy positions in the Bush administration. And the report seems to have become a blueprint for Bush's foreign and defense policy.

Paul Wolfowitz

Political science doctorate from University of Chicago and dean of the international relations program at Johns Hopkins University during the 1990s. Served in the Reagan State Department, moved to the Pentagon during the first Bush administration as undersecretary of defense for policy. Sworn in as deputy defense secretary in March 2001.

John Bolton

Yale Law grad who worked in the Reagan administration as an assistant attorney general. Switched to the State Department in the first Bush administration as assistant secretary for international organization affairs. Sworn in as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, May 2001.

Eliot Cohen

Harvard doctorate in government who taught at Harvard and at the Naval War College. Now directs strategic studies at Johns Hopkins and is the author of several books on military strategy. Was on the Defense Department's policy planning staff in the first Bush administration and is now on Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board.

I. Lewis Libby

Law degree from Columbia (Yale undergrad). Held advisory positions in the Reagan State Department. Was a partner in a Washington law firm in the late '80s before becoming deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in the first Bush administration (under Dick Cheney). Now is the vice president's chief of staff.

Dov Zakheim

Doctorate in economics and politics from Oxford University. Worked on policy issues in the Reagan Defense Department and went into private defense consulting during the 1990s. Was foreign policy adviser to the 2000 Bush campaign. Sworn in as undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Pentagon, May 2001

Stephen Cambone

Political science doctorate from Claremont Graduate School. Was in charge of strategic defense policy at the Defense Department in the first Bush administration. Now heads the Office of Program, Analysis and Evaluation at the Defense Department.