If not now, when?

January 16, 2008 by barbara

barbara writes

I came across this piece at Smirking Chimp. It's a long read, printed here in its entirety with the author’s permission. He summarizes some elements of our long national and global nightmare. I encourage you to read it and to think about it. Perhaps even to speak about it here or elsewhere.

Nancy Pelosi, You Must Impeach! The Truth About the Wars Will Guarantee the Votes
by R.W. Behan | January 15, 2008 - 5:59pm

When people who honestly believe a lie
learn the truth, they will either cease believing,
or they will cease being honest.


Speaker Pelosi, President Bush could have achieved his goal of “regime change” in Iraq quickly and without the violence of war. Saddam Hussein offered, weeks before his country was invaded, to leave Iraq and go into exile. President Bush withheld this offer from public view—and refused it. Nor did the President need to invade Afghanistan to apprehend Osama bin Laden. On five different occasions, George Bush refused a standing offer from the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden—three times before 9/11 and twice thereafter, again without public disclosure.

No, the military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan are not directed against terrorism. They are territorial in nature. Mr. Bush intended from his first days in office to invade the two countries: as early as late January, 2001, his Administration was developing the decisions and beginning the preparations for both military incursions. 9/11 was in the distant future, so the conflicts cannot be exercises in counter-terrorism, as the Bush Administration frequently and dishonestly insists. They are premeditated wars of unprovoked conquest and occupation.

Madam Speaker, if you know this, and if you continue refusing impeachment, then you are a criminal accomplice in violating the trust of the American people—and in violating both U.S. and international law.

If you do not know this truth about the wars, Madam Speaker, you must learn its details and embrace it, and then you must seek with dispatch and justice to impeach George Bush and Richard Cheney. More

You claim you don’t have the votes. But to say that is to canvass the jury before the trial begins, before the evidence is presented and scrutinized. When the hideous truth of these wars is finally exposed—as it will be in the impeachment process—you will have the vote of every honest and patriotic member of the House of Representatives, Democrat and Republican alike.

Why isn’t the truth already widely known? There are two reasons. The Bush Administration is infamous for its pathological lying and secrecy: they have done everything in their power to distort or suppress the truth. And the mainstream press has become an engine of entertaining, not informing the American people: it is indifferent to the truth.

But the truth is always there, and it can be discovered in foreign news outlets, in the domestic alternate press, in book-length treatises, and in the passion for truth and unconstrained inquiry displayed by people posting to the Internet. These are the sources for the exposition to follow.

Madam Speaker, if you will not impeach, then you must refute this history, if you can.

The Bush Administration’s Curious Behavior

Hours after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush told the world the United States would take the fight directly to the terrorists and the states that harbored them. Thus the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” was born.

Less than a month later, on October 7, Mr. Bush launched a savage aerial bombardment of Afghanistan. He had the support of a shocked American citizenry and a sympathetic world, all of whom expected justice to be delivered soon to the terrorist Osama bin Laden and the harboring state embodied in the Taliban.

The incursion into Afghanistan was sold as the first action in the “War on Terror.” It was a brilliantly executed charade.
Flashback to October 12, 2000, a year earlier. The USS Cole, an American Navy destroyer in the Yemeni port of Aden, has suffered heavy damage from a terrorist attack, perpetrated by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Three weeks later officials of the Clinton Administration met with theTaliban in the Sheraton Hotel in Hamburg, Germany. To avoid a violent retaliation of furious bombing, the Taliban offered the unconditional surrender of Osama bin Laden.

Before the details of the transfer were completed, however, a Supreme Court ruling gave George W. Bush the White House, and the message was passed: the actual handover of bin Laden will be deferred until the Bush Administration is sworn in.

Once in office, the new Administration asked the Taliban to delay the handover of Osama bin Laden at least until February. As winter faded into spring, and spring into summer, the Administration demurred twice more.

Then Osama bin Laden struck again, on September 11, 2001.
On September 15, Taliban officials were flown in U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft to the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the deal was sweetened. The standing offer of surrendering Osama bin Laden was renewed, but now the Taliban would also oversee the closure of bin Laden’s bases and training camps.

This time the White House simply rejected the offer out of hand. It did so again when the offer was repeated several weeks later, and days after that President Bush ordered the violence to begin.
The invasion of Afghanistan was something vastly different than a quest to apprehend a terrorist.

Sources for this section:
1. “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand bin Laden Over,” Guardian Unlimited (UK), October 14, 2001.
2. “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Surrender bin Laden,” Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK), October 15, 2001.
3. “Dreamers and Idiots: Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan,” George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), November 11, 2003.
4. “How Bush Was Offered bin Laden and Blew It,” Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch, November 1, 2004.
5. “Did Bush try to stop bin Laden in his first eight months in office?” MSNBC Countdown, September 28, 2006.

The War in Afghanistan
The commitment to invade Afghanistan was made long before 9/11.

The Bush Administration wanted to secure for American energy companies—notably the Enron and Unocal Corporations—the strategic pipeline route across Afghanistan to the Caspian Basin. But the Taliban had signed a contract in 1996 with the Bridas Corporation of Argentina, preempting the route.

Scarcely settled in Washington in early 2001, the Bush Administration immediately pressed the Taliban to rescind the Bridas contract, and undertook planning for military intervention should negotiations fail. Administration officials and the Taliban met for talks three times throughout the spring and summer, in Washington D.C., Berlin, and Islamabad—but to no avail.

At the last session, in August, 2001 the Administration threatened a “carpet of bombs” if the Taliban did not comply. The Taliban would not. Soon thereafter—still weeks before September 11—President Bush notified Pakistan and India he would attack Afghanistan “before the end of October.”

Then 9/11. Then two more refusals of Osama bin Laden’s head. Then, on October 7, the Bush Administration looses the carpet of bombs.

Since then Afghanistan has been supplied with a puppet government, the Bridas contract is history, and the country is dotted today with permanent U.S. military bases in close proximity to the pipeline route. It was a war of conquest and occupation.

Counter-terrorism is scarcely visible. Osama bin Laden remains at large, the yield of “terrorists” to date consists of several hundred iconic and badly treated wretches in Guantanamo Bay, and terrorism in the Middle East has intensified, not diminished.

Sources for this section:
1. “Players on a rigged grand chessboard: Bridas, Unocal, and the Afghanistan pipeline,” Larry Chin, Online Journal, March, 2002.
2. Crude Politics: How Bush's Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism, Paul Sperry, WND Books, 2003.
3. Alexander’s Gas and Oil Connections, February 23, 2003.
4. “A Timeline of Oil and Violence: Afghanistan”, see the website,
5. “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat,” New York Times, September 24, 2006.
6. “From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil,” Richard W. Behan, AlterNet, February 5, 2007.


The War in Iraq

The template for the invasion of Iraq was crafted in 1992, in Richard Cheney’s Defense Department during the first Bush Administration. It was a document advocating a U.S. posture of singular global dominance in economic, diplomatic, and military power. The authors were Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Their document spoke explicitly about the need to secure “...access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil,” and Iraq was in the crosshairs.

In 1996, the Project for the New American Century was created, touting the term “global hegemony,” and seeking to maintain America’s status as the world’s only superpower, using preemptive war if necessary. Among the founders of the PNAC were the earlier advocates of world dominion: Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Donald Rumsfeld, and Jeb Bush were founding members as well.

In a 1998 letter to President Clinton the PNAC people once again sought the invasion of Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and 15 others signed the letter.

In September of 2000 the Project for the New American Century once more advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Then four months later, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis “Scooter” Libby—and 24 others from the PNAC—moved into top positions in the Bush Administration.

The commitment to invade Iraq was made at the first meeting of President Bush’s National Security Council in January of 2001.
The rationale was ideological, apparently: by means of a preemptive war, to take an initial step toward global hegemony. A more tangible objective would soon emerge.

Sources for this section:
1. “Empire Builders: Neoconservatives and their blueprint for U.S. Power,” Christian Science Monitor , a series appearing June, 2005.
2. The website of the Project for the New American Century. See
3. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, by Ron Suskind, Simon and Schuster, 2004.
4. “From Afghanistan to Iraq: Connecting the Dots with Oil,” Richard W. Behan, AlterNet, February 5, 2007.

Regime Change

In December of 2002, 3 months before his country was invaded, Saddam Hussein invited the Bush Administration to send U.S. troops into Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he said he could prove Iraq was not involved in 9/11. His entreaty was turned aside by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Two months later Hussein promised unlimited access to the FBI to search for WMD’s, support for the US position on Israel and Palestine, and even some limited rights to Iraq’s oil. All this was rejected. Finally, in desperation Saddam Hussein offered personally to depart Iraq for exile in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Once again he was refused by the White House, and soon thereafter cruise missiles pounded Baghdad and U.S. tanks rolled across the border from Kuwait.

Regime change was not the objective: that could have been achieved bloodlessly with Saddam Hussein’s exile. Combating terrorism couldn’t possibly have been the objective, either: when President Bush invaded Iraq, there was no sign of al Qaeda in the country at all. There had to be some other purpose.

Sources for this section:
1. “Dreamers and Idiots: Britain and the US did everything to avoid a peaceful solution in Iraq and Afghanistan,” George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), November 11, 2003.
2. “Llego el momento de deshacerse de Saddam,” El Pais (Spain), a transcript of a conversation between George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Jose Maria Anzar in Crawford, Texas, February 22, 2003. Published September 26, 2007.


Within weeks of taking office the Bush Administration was studying maps of the Iraqi oil fields, pipelines, refineries, tanker terminals, and undeveloped oil exploration blocks. A National Security Council document dated February 3, 2001 spoke of “…actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” Later in the year the Bush State Department undertook the “Future of Iraq Project,” in one element of which Administration bureaucrats and oil company representatives planned the postwar deconstruction of Iraq’s nationalized oil industry. It would be replaced by a clever form of privatization, hugely favoring American and British oil companies. This planning was underway in October of 2001, exactly a year before Congress authorized military force in Iraq.

The State Department’s plan was codified in a model “hydrocarbon law” drafted during Paul Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority, with direct participation of the American and British oil companies. The law was not translated from English into Arabic until elections had been held; then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet approved the law on February 15, 2007 and submitted it to Parliament for passage.

The hydrocarbon law when passed will grant immensely profitable access for international oil companies to an estimated 81% of Iraq's undeveloped crude oil reserves. The favored companies are Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, Royal Dutch/Shell, and BP/Amoco.

Enactment of the hydrocarbon law was proposed as a mandatory “benchmark” by President Bush in a speech on January 10, 2007. The benchmark was made statutory when the Democratic Congress passed the Iraq Accountability Act a short time later.

The tangible objective for invading and occupying Iraq was suspected early by the war’s opponents and it is now confirmed: to secure access to the country’s immense oil and gas resources. Evidence of success is everywhere. Iraq now has a puppet government and five permanent American “mega-bases” to house 100,000 troops for 50 years. The American embassy in Baghdad is ten times larger than any other U.S. embassy in the world. And in November, President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed a document called The Declaration of Principles, to assure an “enduring relationship” between their governments.

Sources for this section:
1. For copies of the Iraqi oil field maps, see the website of Judicial Watch, at: http://www.judicialwatch.org/oil-field-maps
2. “Contract Sport,” by Jane Mayer,The New Yorker, Issue 23, February 16, 2004.
3. Crude Designs: the Ripoff of Iraq's Oil Wealth, Gregg Mutitt, ed., the Platform Group, United Kingdom.
4. “Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil,” by Joshua Holland, published on the AlterNet website, October 16, 2006.
5. “Slick Connections: U.S. Influence on Iraqi Oil,” Erik Leaver and Greg Mutitt, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 18, 2007.
6. “Imperial Opportunities for U.S. Builders,” Tom Engelhardt, Asia Times, November 6, 2007.
7. “An ‘Enduring’ Relationship for Security and Enduring an Occupation for Oil,” Ann Wright, truthout website, December 5, 2007.

And so, Speaker Pelosi, here we are after six years of fraudulence, engaged in two wars of conquest and occupation the Bush Administration orchestrated in defiance of honesty, decency, morals, and law. Half a million lives and half a trillion dollars have been poured into the cesspool of their lies and deceit.

Truth and justice are the bedrocks of our existence as a nation. The Bush Administration has trampled truth. We cannot tolerate the withholding of justice as well. Madam Speaker, you must impeach.

Or can you refute this history?

Richard W. Behan lives and writes on Lopez Island, off the northwest coast of Washington state. He can be reached at

(This essay is deliberately not copyrighted: it may be reproduced without restriction.)

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barbara says (not verified) | January 17, 2008 - 1:00pm

Looking at Behan's sources, I was struck by how many of them are from across the pond. George Monbiot is one of my favorites. But what's really interesting is that progressives seem to have little to no trouble getting their work in print and therefore before the people, particularly in the U.K. What do they know that we don't? Or does that just underscore yet again that the U.S. MSM is a closed closet? Just askin'.


NeoLotus (not verified) | January 17, 2008 - 2:11pm

Yes, the America MSM is a closed closet.

For a real eye-opener on how long it's been like that do a google on "The century of the self" and watch the BBC documentary by Adam Curtis. Corroborating evidence can be found in Alex Carey's book "Taking the Risk out of Democracy."


barbara says (not verified) | January 17, 2008 - 11:18pm


I just watched the first of the four episodes you recommended, NeoLotus. Thanks. I think. Right now, my heart is still thumping, having just concluded my viewing. And I gotta tell you that it's absolutely terrifying and infuriating to take a look at the evolution of manipulation of the masses by government(s) and bidness.

Edward Bernays' daughter spoke of her father's and others' belief that the public can't be trusted to make good decisions; needed, in fact, to be guided "from above" in what she called a kind of enlightened despotism. Tap into people's deepest fears and desires and milk that for all it's worth (my words, not hers).

Oh, this is probably worth a blog piece if I can get my pretty little head around it. Are we like sheep? Rhetorical.


MLS (not verified) | January 18, 2008 - 12:32pm

Thank you Barbara for bringing to my attention the article written by Behan and thank you Neo Lotus for bringing attention to BBC's documentary, "The Century of the Self" of which I have watched Part 1. Excellent and in answer to Barbara's last question - baaa!
Good golly, doesn't this sound familiar? Control the masses by feeding their fears. We live in a "3 B" society: 1) Believing (into) the lies, 2) Building (into) the lies, 3) Buying (into) the lies.


barbara says (not verified) | January 18, 2008 - 12:46pm

BTW, here's a link to all four segments of the Adam Curtis series. An offline penpal tells me he's done other series that are top-notch as well.


NeoLotus (not verified) | January 18, 2008 - 5:12pm

Another great video is The Story of Stuff (I hope the tags work. If not, the url is:

It's 20 mins and a lot less dire and more light-hearted though not any less important.

I have seen one other Adam Curtis BBC report titled "The Power of Nightmares." It too is 4 parts.

Ever since I read Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" in 2000 I find that non-fiction is truly more horrifying than fiction.

I think Mencius (~300 BC) summed it up best when he taught that commiseration is the beginning of humanity. Without commiseration, one is not a human. To add Gustav Gilbert's assessment of evil at the Nuremburg Trial of the Nazis, he said evil is the absence of empathy. This is also the entire point of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

Anyway, there are no answers; there can only be realizations.


barbara says (not verified) | January 18, 2008 - 10:56pm

Interesting about "Nightmares." I just ordered that and the "Century of Self" series online today. Have some friends who might as well become enlightened and somewhat depressed with me.

"Self" intrigues me because it is George Lakoff x100. More than frames, because it's about an entire society having its paradigm shifted without ever tumbling to it. Only in retrospect . . . . and yet, here we go again.

" . . . evil is the absence of empathy." That's true, isn't it?! At least in part. On the other hand, I have known people utterly lacking in empathy whom I would not label "evil." So was Scrooge evil? Apparently not, since clearly he had at least a vestige of dormant empathy. Or, more accurately, had the living s**t scared out of him which manifested itself in an abundance of empathy.


NeoLotus (not verified) | January 20, 2008 - 4:19am

Too often "evil" is treated, or thought of, as if it has an existence all its own. It is also thought of in terms of "forever and always."

Applying Gilbert's "evil is the absence of empathy" to Scrooge would indicate that Scrooge was very much evil in the way he treated people and in his basic demeanor. Just because his humanity had been overtaken by his love of money does not mean he was incapable of reclaiming that humanity. But let's be clear, it is not what one "is" that makes one good or evil, it is the effects of what one does on others and the intent behind it that makes an act good or evil. Real evil arises from indifference to the suffering of others. It is this indifference which can also be called a lack of empathy.

In everyday life however, most people are not faced with contributing to or preventing an overt act of harm. But should they be placed in such a position, which way would they swing: join in or try to put a stop to it?

It is this which Stanley Milgram tried to understand in his experiment with average people that showed them bowing to authority in delivering (fake) shocks for wrong answers even to the point of delivering enough to kill them.

We are now into the realm of moral development and whether people actually know the difference between right and wrong and why. Another day perhaps.