US Foreign Policy
I want to tell you right at the start what my strongest belief is about the present U.S. position in the world. It’s this. The United States of America is today in a monstrous mess with its current foreign policies.
Now, to repeat, I believe this, but I don’t think most other Americans do. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that a majority of people in the United States still, even after the events of the last few months, would not agree with me that the United States needs to change its foreign policies in major ways. Maybe some of you here will not agree with me. But give me a chance and hear me out, and then, during the question-and-answer period, we should be able to get a good discussion going.
Before we go any further, I want to make a couple of comments on a matter that directly affects the CIA, where I used to work. I’m talking about one of the recent “hot-button” issues in Washington, the nasty and small minded effort, carried out quite obviously by as yet unnamed individuals in the White House, to gain revenge on an ex-U.S. Ambassador, Joseph Wilson, by ruining the career of his wife, Valerie Plame, who has been a CIA case-officer under non-official cover. I have two entirely different comments I want to make on this.
One is that the intent of the White House here, quite clearly it seems to me, is to warn other people in Washington’s foreign affairs bureaucracy not to get out of line or they’ll run into serious trouble. In other words, the intent is to squelch legitimate criticism and opposition. All I can say is, I hope our legal system works well enough to prevent those who damaged these two people from getting off scot-free. What the perpetrators did was reprehensible, and I hope there are no legal loopholes that allow them to get off.
The other comment I want to make on this case, though, is to me much more important. This case creates a new side-issue. AND IT IS A SIDE-ISSUE, a side-issue that creates a great danger of distracting us from what is really important to the nation, that is, bringing about major changes in U.S. foreign policies. Look at what’s already happening. All of the Democratic candidates for president have leapt on this issue because it’s a great one and an easy one to pound the Republicans with. They don’t have to talk about the harder questions of actually doing something to change U.S. policies, and so most of them don’t. It’s kind of like an issue involving sex; you can make a Roman circus out of it and distract people from the things that ought to be more important. We should not let that happen. To repeat, what I think we ought to do is to hold all politicians’ feet to the fire, and make them pursue policies that turn us away from the goal of global domination, and cut back our ridiculously high levels of military expenditures, and, just incidentally of course, also cut back our equally ridiculous level of expenditures today on intelligence and covert actions. So watch out for Roman Circuses, and don’t be distracted.
While we’re on the subject of the CIA, let’s stay with it a little longer. The CIA was established over half a century ago, after World War II, to coordinate the entire U.S. intelligence community. This intelligence community today includes over a dozen different agencies and, contrary to general perception, the CIA does not actually control any of the others. Over all these years, this multiplicity of agencies has led to inefficiencies, duplication, waste, and internal rivalries. Everyone should remember that the CIA was created for the express purpose of preventing a second Pearl Harbor from ever happening. Half a century later, on September 11, 2001 another Pearl Harbor did occur, and it occurred first and foremost because of an inexcusable failure to exchange information within the intelligence community.
As far as I can see, there is even today no “smoking gun” that would point to dereliction of duty personally by President George W. Bush with respect to September 11, although it is possible that evidence will appear in the future to change this judgment. But the evidence that has emerged over the past two years makes it clear that the U.S. government as a whole suffered a massive intelligence failure. If the CIA report delivered to the President on August 6, 2001, had been supplemented, either then or at any later time before September 11, with other information that was available at the time to the FBI, the president would have had a more direct responsibility. The evidence available today is that the CIA did not receive that additional information until after September 11, and that no one else reported it to the president before the horrendous acts of that date took place. So the massive failure, as far as we can tell at this point, was within the intelligence community itself. I want to emphasize that I’m talking here only about September 11, not about intelligence concerning the war against Iraq, or weapons of mass destruction or the presence or absence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
Let’s stay for the moment with September 11 and with this intelligence failure. What happened on that day exemplifies, better than anything else I can think of, the dilemma that underlies practically every question you can come up with about how the U.S. intelligence establishment should be organized and managed. The dilemma is this. If the United States really wants an intelligence apparatus of maximum efficiency, it would require a CIA, or some new organization with a different name, that would be truly “central” and have real control over all the components. The danger, and the other horn of the dilemma, is that the resulting organization could be a monster, a bull in a china shop, a body too powerful to accept in what is supposed to be a democracy.
My own belief is that while the country clearly needs an effective intelligence service, there should be a lot more public discussion of how big and how “centralized” it should actually be. My own vote would be against creating a CIA organized largely as it is now, but with much greater power so that it could truly dominate and control the rest of the intelligence community. I also believe that the big increases in the amounts of money that seem to be going to the CIA and other intelligence agencies (reportedly rising from some $29 to $30 billion to over $35 billion annually) are not necessary.
Rather than spending time arguing over how much money should be spent on intelligence, however, there are far more important changes, in my view, that should be made in the CIA and the intelligence community. The most serious problem facing this “community” today is that the individual agencies far too frequently provide biased analyses that either reflect the preferred policies of the agencies themselves or cater to the policy desires of the White House. It’s difficult for the intelligence components of the Defense Department, for example, to present analyses of foreign military capabilities that might undercut the desires of Defense budgeteers for more money. To one degree or another, similar difficulties face analysts in the intelligence components of the State Department, the FBI, the Energy Department and elsewhere.
The CIA’s analytical components, which sometimes pride themselves on having the only intelligence analysts without policy axes to grind, cannot in truth lay claim to any greater objectivity. They can be influenced by their own director, a political appointee, and by White House officials who want analytical backing for both overt policies and covert actions they desire to pursue. You should add to these pressures the turf rivalries and differing agency cultures that at their best and with no malice can make exchanging information imperfect, and at their worst can result in one or another agency deliberately refusing to pass information on to the CIA or another agency, often under the guise that the information is “too sensitive” to pass on.
The CIA itself, not being part of one of the government’s major established departments (State, Defense, etc.), flourishes or fades depending on its relations, and especially the relationship of its director, with the incumbent president, vice-president, and national security advisor. Very important in this regard is the fact that the CIA has two major parts: a covert collection and covert action unit, and an analytical unit. Of the two, most recent presidents have regarded the covert collection and action part of the agency as the more important. It is the part of the CIA that allows an action-oriented president (and what president wants to be identified in any other way?) to do things, to take actions, all supposedly in secret. That tends to make many directors of central intelligence reluctant to present to the president reports and studies from the analytical unit, if those studies implicitly or explicitly criticize the president’s policy preferences or the CIA director’s own covert action recommendations in support of the president’s policies. There have been exceptions; a few CIA directors have been very strong in presenting analyses to the president that they knew would not be well received, but I do not think that the present director, George Tenet, has been one of those exceptions. The almost inevitable internal conflict between the two separate jobs that all Directors of Central Intelligence must carry out, however, has probably had some effect on every one of them over the last half-century.
Now, how should this be changed, assuming one had the power to do so? I’d like to see new legislation that would completely split the analytical part of the CIA from the covert operational, or spooky, part. Even without control over the other intelligence agencies, the present CIA with its two parts is in some ways too powerful, and therefore too dangerous to have in a democracy, in my opinion. In other ways, the director of the CIA, whoever he may be, is too often conflicted; that is, as I’ve just tried to explain, he is too much in conflict with himself over the two separate parts of his job, and it’s almost impossible for him to do both parts equally well. In my view, the operational part of the agency should become a separate organization with a new name and be run directly out of the White House. At the same time, every covert operation should by law require the written approval of the president, designated committee chairmen of the Congress, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. All three branches of the government should be represented here. Generally, no covert intelligence operations abroad should be carried out by any other intelligence agencies.
The analytical part of what is now the CIA should, under this proposal of mine, become another separate agency, and could either keep the present name, CIA, or not. It doesn’t matter. But the new head of this agency would be the head only of this analytical body. A key and critical change here should be that under new legislation the head of this analytical body should be appointed for a 10-year term. This would give a new director of this agency a higher degree of independence than the present and previous directors of the CIA have had, and make him or her less a part of any given administration. Senior officers of this new agency should be assigned to every other intelligence agency, and should by statute have access to every substantive piece of paper produced by the other agency.
Other intelligence agencies should have the right to produce and disseminate any intelligence analyses they wished, but the new government-wide analytical intelligence agency, with access to all sources, would produce any reports it wished, on its own initiative, and it would also be responsible for answering any and all requests for analyses from the White House, the Congress, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The new agency should have absolutely no operational or covert action responsibilities, and having no such responsibilities, it should not pose an unacceptable danger to our form of government. (The head of the FBI, by the way, is already appointed for a ten-year term, and the danger that arose under J. Edgar Hoover of an FBI director becoming too powerful , at least in the eyes of many of us, came about at least in part because the FBI director does have significant operational and action responsibilities, including, in conjunction with the Justice Department, the power of arresting people or harassing them through the FBI’s investigative powers. The head of a new, exclusively analytical CIA, or a renamed agency, would have no such operational powers.)
My belief is that such independence is the most important thing now lacking in the analytical components of the intelligence community. Obviously I no longer have any access to, or detailed information about, the hundreds of specific things that the present CIA director tells the president and other top leaders of the government. But I have read very carefully the unclassified parts of the George Tenet’s briefings over the past couple of years to committees of the Congress. As far as I can see, he has rarely said anything that President Bush would not have liked to hear. In a world as complex as the one we live in today, I find that somewhat alarming.
Now, let’s get back to the mess that I think the U.S. government has made of its foreign policies. Right now, there are two key issues on which U.S. foreign policies need to change, in my view. Number one is the need, even today, to continue opposing this wretched invasion and occupation of Iraq by the Bush administration. And number two is the need to support an “evenhanded” approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
On this latter issue, the Bush administration is not evenhanded at all; it is almost entirely supportive of present Israeli policies. And no recent administration, whether Republican or Democratic, has been truly evenhanded either. On the Democratic side in the coming election, Dennis Kucinich has explicitly favored evenhandedness, occasionally at least, and Howard Dean recently also did so. Dean, however, immediately met a buzz-saw of opposition from Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry, and has already backed away from his earlier statement. None of them wants to be charged with anti-Semitism, although all they would be doing by supporting evenhandedness would be criticizing some of the policies of the U.S. government and the government of Israel, and that is not anti-Semitism under any legitimate definition of that word.
This issue is so important in the Arab and Muslim worlds and also elsewhere that, in my opinion, any hopes for peace and a lasting reduction of wars and terrorism will be utterly impossible to realize unless the U.S. adopts, for the first time in decades, a policy of true evenhandedness toward Israel and Palestine. To repeat, lasting peace in the Middle East and a reduction of terrorism cannot happen, in my opinion, unless a resolution of the Palestinian issue can be reached that offers as much justice to the Palestinians as to the Israelis.
On the question of Iraq, now that the so-called coalition of the U.S. and Great Britain is actually occupying that country, we should support a real and immediate transfer of power from the U.S. to the United Nations. This, I strongly believe, is the only U.S. policy that makes sense. The U.S. should give up both its drive for global domination and its drive to advance Israel’s hegemony in the entire Middle East through military action. The invasion of Iraq was the first step in this drive, and it is time for the U.S., right now, to accept the defeat of even this first step. The alternative seems to me to be perpetual guerrilla wars of attrition against the U.S. in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world, more killings and deaths on all sides, more terrorism against the U.S. and whatever allies it has left, and an altogether unstable world in coming decades. The massive military power of the U.S. simply does not give us the weapons to prevent such eventualities.
But the transferring of real power in Iraq from the U.S. to the United Nations is only a first step–an absolutely necessary first step toward many other changes in U.S. foreign policies, all of which should lead to greater cooperation with the rest of the world and away from unilateralism. It should be a first step toward a negotiated abolition of all weapons of mass destruction, not just Iraq’s, or North Korea’s, or Iran’s. It should be a step away from the absurd ideas of global domination held by the Bush administration even though the U.S. contains only five percent of the world’s population, as well as a step away from preemptive wars, and away from a further massive expansion of U.S. military forces, including nuclear forces, beyond all real need. And, it should be a step away from sacrificing the domestic needs of our society and our people to the aggressive foreign policies that Bush seems intent on continuing. And one more point: I hope it would be a first step toward ridding this country of what is really the root cause of most of what is wrong with the U.S. government, the stranglehold that big money from the corporate and military-industrial establishment has over our increasingly corrupt political system.
Let’s move to the issue of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. I don’t propose to spend much time on how the U.S. has failed so far to find any weapons of mass destruction, because that’s all over the newspapers. The real answer, I think, is that the U.N. weapons’ inspection program worked, and the Bush administration’s lies and scare tactics now look pretty silly. France and Germany, and at that time Russia, were essentially right in their judgment that we should allow the inspections to continue, and that there was no imminent danger to cause the U.S. to invade Iraq. The U.S. is paying for that misjudgment now, in its inability to persuade other countries to support us in the occupation of Iraq. But again, you can hear or read all about this on the television and the radio and in the newspapers every day.
I want to talk more about the global problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which is going to be very important to us in years to come. U.S. propaganda mouths nice words about preventing the further proliferation of such weapons, while U.S. policies actually encourage a further proliferation. The fact is that today the relative ease with which weapons of mass destruction can spread to new areas of the world makes all nations much more vulnerable to events that can severely damage their own national security, and the security and stablility of the entire globe.
Technology as well as U.S. policy has played a role here. With respect to nuclear weapons, for example, for the past almost 60 years it has gradually become a little easier each year to acquire a nuclear weapon and some type of delivery system. Now, after all these years, it’s appreciably easier for a number of nations to obtain a nuclear weapon than it was 20 or 30 years ago. North Korea is a good example. But I think in general the same thing applies to other nations, and to other weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. In another decade or two, it will be even easier than it is now to acquire such weapons.
Let’s talk about North Korea for a minute or so. The North Korean case has made it clearer than ever that in a world of nation-states, the only world we’ll have for some time to come, small countries are increasingly able to obtain nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. One small country, Israel, got nuclear weapons in the 1960s, but its ties with an acquiescent United States made it a special case. North Korea has now become the second small country to acquire nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration is, in my view, seriously in error if it believes that it can ever so dominate the rest of the world militarily that it can suppress all future nuclear and other threats against itself from weapons of mass destruction. The best rational judgment one can make today, I think, is that the opportunity for global domination is already lost to this and any future administration of the United States. Not only the threats but also the actuality of further nuclear and other weapons-of-mass-destruction proliferation will almost certainly increase in the next few years. This is in some measure because of the increasing ease with which nuclear weapons technology seems to be spreading around the world. But the vastly different approaches by the U.S. toward Iraq on the one hand and North Korea on the other just make more rapid proliferation even more likely.
Largely because North Korea already has a few nuclear weapons, the U.S. has been deterred from the kind of aggressive action it has employed against non-nuclear Iraq, and has been forced to rely on diplomacy. And that’s a good thing. But the point here is that at a minimum, nuclear weapons alone will probably make it possible for North Korea to stand up to the U.S. for a longer period than most of us up to now would have thought possible. This will automatically make other nations of the world, and probably some sub-national groups too, see even greater value in having their own nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction as well. Jonathan Schell, one of the most astute analysts in the United States on weapons of mass destruction, emphasized this in a recent major speech on U.S. foreign policy, when he pointed out that the lesson to other nations was, “Get nuclear weapons and get them fast.”
U.S. policies for the past half century do indeed deserve most of the blame for this. Except as a propaganda tool, every U.S. administration since Harry Truman’s has in practice made the spread of nuclear weapons, the major type of weapons of mass destruction, a less important issue than the short-term perceived needs of U.S. national security. No administration has ever been willing even to discuss giving up the United States’ own nuclear weapons. In these same years, however, most U.S. leaders and practically every American foreign policy or intelligence “expert” who ever worked on the nuclear-proliferation issue understood that, given this cast-in-concrete U.S. policy, preventing the further spread of such weapons among either friends or foes over the long run was impossible. The result is that over the past half-century, the U.S. has badly botched, and been completely hypocritical about, its alleged policy of opposing nuclear proliferation. The administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who made the most noise against proliferation, are regarded by the Arab and Muslim worlds as the most hypocritical of all, because these two administrations acquiesced in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons during the 1960s.
Most U.S. policymakers, past and present, seem not to understand how profoundly mistrusted we are because of our lenient attitude toward Israel’s nuclear capability. Many other nations will never accept a status quo that perpetuates Israeli possession of nuclear weapons and at the same time prevents them from ever acquiring such weapons. They will always be suspicious that the U.S. really opposes nuclear proliferation only for its enemies, while acting too often as a hidden enabler of proliferation for its friends. Add to this that the U.S., in the persons of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and Colin Powell, earlier this year was caught out in presenting distorted and false intelligence information about Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program. It’s hard to see how any other nations can have much confidence in what the U.S. says with respect to weapons of mass destruction in the future.
I personally also have a problem with waging a preemptive war over this issue, that is, a war that we ourselves start, againstIraqor any other nation that we believe is trying to acquire nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.
As part of its official military doctrine, the U.S. government publicly declared just last year, in September 2002, that it would be perfectly proper to launch a preemptive war against any such nation. This is aU.S.policy change of extreme importance. In the more than 58 years since the age of nuclear weapons began, the U.S. has deliberately decided, time after time,notto launch wars against any nations for simply acquiring, rather thanusing, the most important type of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons. Ever since shortly after World War II, we have rejected launching wars against theSoviet Union,China,England,France,Israel,India, andPakistan, all of whom have acquired nuclear weapons.If theU.S.is really concerned about the further spread of such weapons, we should understand that other nations–not justIraq- will over the long run never go along withU.S.desires until theU.S.,Israel, and other nuclear powers themselves show a real willingness to negotiate seriously on creating an entire nuclear-weapons-free world.And this is precisely, in my opinion, what theU.S.should do.
A few more comments are necessary here. Wars inevitably kill innocent people, often in large numbers. That’s an obvious cliche, but it is true. Even if Congress gave the CIA and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community unlimited resources and reorganized the complete intelligence apparatus of the country so that it became infinitely more efficient that it’s ever been, one thing is crystal clear, and I want to emphasize this: IT IS BEYOND BELIEF THAT THE U.S. COULD EVER COUNT ON HAVING INTELLIGENCE GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE LAUNCHING A PREEMPTIVE WAR MORALLY ACCEPTABLE. There is almost always an element of guesswork with respect to a potential enemy’s intentions, and those intentions can change instantly–and at the last moment.
This question of intentions is vital. It is not enough, despite the Bush administration’s arguments to the contrary, to know that some possible enemy possesses and has thecapabilityto use weapons of mass destruction. You need to know–and know for sure–theintentionsof that possible enemy as well. Even if you have a 90-percent degree of confidence in your judgment of what another country, or a sub-national group, truly intends to do, initiating a preemptive war and killing innocent people is still a prohibitively immoral action. You should also understand that even your 90-percent degree of confidence is nothing but a guess. Any way you slice it, you are killing people on the basis of a guess. And to believe that any nation’s intelligence services can ever provide a 100 percent degree of confidence is just one more form of arrogance.
To wrap all this up, the U.S. does not have a consistent or meaningful policy on preventing the further spread of weapons of mass destruction, and most senior U.S. officials know full well that we will never devote a top priority to preventing that further spread unless and until the U.S. becomes willing to negotiate seriously on giving up its own such weapons and to induce its closest allies to do likewise.
Another issue that needs to be mentioned in connection with U.S. policies in the Middle East today is the problem of religious fundamentalism. U.S. propaganda these days occasionally still mouths nice words about most Muslims being good people, not dominated by fundamentalist ideology. But at the same time, U.S. policies seem to be strengthening fundamentalism around the entire world.
To me, all fundamentalism is dangerous. Islamic fundamentalism will surely be one of the factors encouraging more terrorism against the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel in the wake of the Iraq war. Judaic fundamentalism encourages terrorism by the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as state terrorism by the Israeli military. And Christian fundamentalism here in this country will encourage the Bush administration to extend full support to Israel’s continued occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza.
The Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. will also provide strong support for the Bush administration’s plans for more regime changes throughout the Middle East, by military force if necessary, to create a new colonialism in the region dominated by some type of partnership between the U.S. and Israel.
Over the past couple of years under the Bush administration, and especially now that the Iraq war has become a full-blown occupation and guerrilla war, these trends have become well established in U.S. foreign policy. I believe that they are extremely dangerous because they may lead to a new world war, a Judeo-Christian World War against Islam. I think we should do everything we can to prevent such a war.
Now, we cannot turn off religious fundamentalism anywhere with just a wave of our hand. And I would submit that it is both a terribly wrong policy and an immoral policy to try to turn it off by military action and killing people in one part of the world, the Islamic world, while encouraging Judaic fundamentalism to flourish in the Palestinian occupied territories, and encouraging Christian fundamentalism to grow stronger in the U.S. Yet that is precisely what U.S. foreign policies today are doing.
Rather than anyone’s using military action and warfare to control religious fundamentalism, it would be far better to create the kinds of conditions around the world that would help the moderate forces in each of the three religions to control their own fundamentalists. I think the moderate elements in all of these religions are probably more numerous than the fundamentalists, but they are less well organized and less driven to achieve their aims and agenda.
The main point I want to make here is that there is really no other moral and civilized way to deal with the global problem of fundamentalism than to allow, and to encourage by peaceful means and exclusively peaceful means, the three major religions and their unique cultures to deal with their own problems of extremists in their own way. This is not a perfect world, but one thing I am very sure of is that the use of military action, especially by outsiders, to solve these deeply embedded religious problems, will make this world an entirely imperfect and unstable place to live in for years, and possibly decades, to come.
Now I’d like to go back to Iraq and its tie-in with the United Nations. George Bush’s own father, President Bush the First, wrote something worth remembering in a book that he and his National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, published in 1998:
“Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in ‘mission creep,’ and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles.
“Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different–and perhaps barren–outcome.” [Again, this was written by Bush the First in a 1998 book entitled A World Transformed, page 489.]
In my remarks so far, I’ve suggested that any U.S. strategy for an exit from Iraq ought to rely more heavily on the United Nations in the future than the U.S. has done in the past. If we are going to rely more on the U.N., we ought to make it a better U.N. In fact, I believe that all of us interested in the future of the world ought to be working right now toward changing the United Nations, which is now close to 60 years old, into something that will meet the needs of the 21st Century more effectively than the present U.N. organization. The least of the U.N.’s problems is that Japan and Germany, defeated powers at the end of World War II, are now nations that we all need to recognize as major powers on this globe. There are also other powerful nations that either did not exist as independent states or are now much stronger than they were in 1945, India, Pakistan and Brazil being among them.
The easy answer, of simply making all or some of these nations permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with the veto power, however, is not enough; in fact, that may be the wrong answer. Many argue that it would be better to abolish the veto and work instead toward introducing some sort of democratically elected international parliament that would cross national borders. Others, of course, oppose the entire concept of making the U.N. more democratic, or reducing in any way the sovereignty of national states. Quite a few people in the U.S. would probably oppose any United Nations organization that was not thoroughly subservient to the U.S. There ought to be a major debate on all this, and I personally think that it should be a high priority of all of us who consider ourselves to be internationalists, and who support the concept of a stronger United Nations, to participate actively in such a debate.
Given the inevitability of more rather than less economic globalization around the world, we should not automatically reject the notion of at least the early stages of some kind of world government coming to us in the fairly near future. World government may be just as inevitable as more globalization. The real questions are the extent to which such a government will be democratic, and the extent to which it will instead be dictatorial, as such bodies as the WTO and NAFTA are today. (The WTO is, by the way, what some might define as already an early stage of world government in the economic area.) Again, if we truly want a reasonable exit strategy from Iraq, one that will encourage more peace and stability around the world in the next few decades rather than more terrorism and warfare, we should rely on the U.N. far more in the future than we have in the past. The only point I want to make here is that in doing that, we also probably should encourage major changes in the U.N. that will make it a stronger organization. This, in turn, would require additional major changes in U.S. foreign policies. I certainly don’t know all the answers here. What I do know is that the people of this country need to engage in a major debate on the question of how much national sovereignty our own country should be willing to give up.
One final comment is necessary here. These days, theU.S.government decides unilaterally who are terrorists and who are not in black-and-white terms utterly lacking in the grays that might arise from knowledge, wisdom, or simple caution and doubt. Palestinians are always among the black terrorists; Israeli settlers and soldiers are invariably among the white good guys–enemies of terrorism, never terrorists themselves. Iraqi Baathists are also among the black guys these days, as are Chechen rebels. American and Russian soldiers? Never. Chris Hedges, the New York Times correspondent who is the author of a powerful recent book titled, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, put it like this is a speech he gave earlier this year: “We are part of a dubious troika, in the war against terror, with Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon, two leaders who do not shrink in Palestine or Chechnya from carrying out acts of gratuitous and senseless violence. We have become the company we keep.”
It’s my strong belief that everyone in the United States, and perhaps in the entire world, will have to pay one day not only for the company the U.S. government now keeps, but also for the policies this administration is carrying out in the selfish pursuit of global domination. It would be much better, in my view, if theU.S.government did the smart thing and changed these policies, right now. An American friend of ours, who has lived for years in the Middle East and is an expert on the area, recently wrote to us and really caught our attention. He said this: “For many people living outside the United States, it is incomprehensible that most Americans would actually take pride in bombing into submission pitifully weak countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, the moral equivalent of a teenager beating up a three-year-old. In their eyes, such behavior should be cause for shame and embarrassment, not for pride.”
Who, do you suppose, will be the next three-year-old? I’d guess it’ll be Syria. Or will it be Iran? Or will we be caught by the surprise of a revolution in Saudi Arabia, in which case the U.S. might feel it must occupy the oil fields of northern Saudi Arabia by military force–in order to keep the oil flowing?
The distaste and hatred of U.S. foreign policies that are rising daily around the world from such thoughts as these should not be minimized.
Bill Christison joined the CIA in 1950, and served on the analysis side of the Agency for 28 years. From the early 1970s he served as National Intelligence Officer (principal adviser to the Director of Central Intelligence on certain areas) for, at various times, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Before he retired in 1979 he was Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis, a 250-person unit.
Bill and his wife Kathleen are also contributors to CounterPunch’s hot new book: The Politics of Anti-Semitism.
The Christison’s can be reached at: email@example.com