you think “out of stock due to high demand,” think “Osama bin Laden.”)
Trade Commission long ago made this sales technique illegal. So
did most states. But it still goes on. On the Web, you can read
about fabulous prices for certain items. You place the order. They
promise to send it out that day. But you will get a call-back trying
to up-sell you on some high-priced related item that you never asked
for, and which was never mentioned in the ad. If you resist, you
will finally be told that the item is out of stock and won’t be
back in stock for weeks. A twenty-something hustler tried this strategy
on me this summer with a $595 price on a $750 camcorder. When I
refused to buy a $15 battery charger for $120, the camcorder that
had been in stock (which I had twice asked him to verify) disappeared
from stock a week later.
technique is immoral — fraudulent — and it’s also illegal.
But it’s only illegal for businesses. It is a way of life in democratic
over the last two months has been used to establish a new government
in Afghanistan. The United States, as of this week, has officially
joined with the United Nations in a joint nation-building operation.
We have seen
all this many times. Let me review, briefly, how this bait-and-switch
technique works in American foreign policy. Remember this: “War
is foreign policy conducted by other means” (Clausewitz).
Us Into War
In 1916, President
Woodrow Wilson ran for his second term on this political platform:
“He kept us out of war.” He won the election, but just barely. The
campaign slogan was fraudulent from the beginning. From 1915 onward,
he had been re-shaping American foreign policy in order to get America
into the war on the side of the British, a goal that he achieved
in 1917. His Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, had resigned
in 1915 in protest to Wilson’s phony neutrality program. This was
the highest-level resignation in American history, before or since.
(The best book on Wilson’s strategy is Charles C. Tansill’s America
Goes to War .)
goal was to set up a post-war League of Nations: the first stage
in the creation of a world government. Had the Senate not refused
to ratify the treaty, he would have pulled it off.
I came across
a key document a few years ago, a letter from the American Under-Secretary
of the League of Nations, Raymond Fosdick, which he sent to his
wife in July 1919. Fosdick told her that he and France’s Under-Secretary,
Jean Monnet, were working daily to lay the foundations of “the framework
of international government. . . .” (Fosdick to his wife: July 31,
1919; in Fosdick, ed., Letters on the League of Nations [Princeton,
New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1966], p. 18.) This was
no idle boast. Over the next six decades, Jean Monnet became the
driving force behind the creation of the European Common Market
and the New European order. Meanwhile, after the Senate refused
to ratify the Versaille peace treaty treaty in 1919, Fosdick returned
to New York, where he became John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s lawyer.
He ran the Rockefeller Foundation for the next three decades. He
had been on Rockefeller’s payroll since 1913. He became a founding
member in 1921, along with Rockefeller, of the Council on Foreign
two decades. In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented
third term. He ran on a platform of neutrality toward the war in
Europe. “I abhor war,” he said. “My wife Eleanor abhors war. I will
not send American boys to war.” But he had already promised Churchill
that he would bring America into the war. He then established restrictive
trade policies that pressured Japan to attack us. (The best book
on this is Tansill’s Back
Door to War . Robert Stinnett’s Day
of Deceit  is also good.) Hitler accommodated him
by declaring war on the US on December 11, which was the worst foreign
policy decision in modern history.
allied nations during the war called their alliance “the United
Nations.” In a classic bait-and-switch operation, the foreign policy
internationalists took this name in 1945, added the word Organization,
and attached it to the replacement of the failed League of Nations.
America’s Alger Hiss was elected as the first Secretary General
of the UN in 1945. He had been a Soviet spy ever since his days
in the Department of Agriculture, a member of the “Ware cell,” the
Communists’ first spy ring inside the U.S. government. By 1945,
he was a senior official in the State Department.
There is an
old rule in football: when you have a play that works, keep using
it until it doesn’t work any more. Bait-and-switch in foreign policy
keeps working. So, they keep using it.
the Looking Glass: www.whitehouse.gov
is quoted all over the Web in a September 25 speech as saying, “We’re
not into nation-building, we’re into justice.” (I used Google and
searched for: Bush, nation-building, justice.)
I wanted to
verify this speech. I failed. This speech has gone down the White
House’s memory hole. It’s a very big hole.
House Web site is a masterpiece of keeping voters away from anything
really important that the President has said or done. Let me explain.
If you click
on the Home Page, “President: Oval Office,” you get a search engine
for his speeches. There are choices of topics. Terrific! I selected
“Foreign Policy.” Here is what I got: a September 28 speech delivered
to the King of Jordan. The next one down is a May 29 speech to the
Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
At the top
of the page, we read this: “23 results found, sorted by relevance.”
Sorted by relevance? Hey, guys: America went to war in between these
two speeches! There is not one speech on this list later than June.
there is a list of speeches under “Military Affairs.” Sorry: no
such category. Nothing on the military. But you can select “Faith-Based
& Community Initiatives.”
Then I spotted
an option at the bottom of the page of ten foreign policy speeches.
It’s not in the topical search’s options list: “Policies>Defense.”
I clicked it. I got 116 speeches, beginning with January 20. Then
I selected “Sort by Date.” At the top of the screen was a September
26 speech, “President Commends House for Passing Defense Bill.”
It is six lines long. Next: “U.S., China to Discuss Missile Defense.”
The date on that is September 5. Odd. I recall several speeches
in between September 5 and September 26. There was this problem
on September 11. Oh, well.
was apparently designed by a disciple of Lewis Carroll: “Alice Through
the Looking Glass.”
used the Home Page’s general search engine to find the words “nation-building”
and “justice.” The search engine retrieved dozens of speeches, but
not the September 25 speech. I spent an hour looking for it. Gone!
Or maybe never posted. Or lost. (On Clinton’s site, I could always
find any speech I was looking for.) I finally found it through Google
by tracing it down to a Q&A session after a Rose Garden meeting
with Japan’s Prime Minister. It is posted on the Website of the
I did stumble
onto this. Write this down. Keep it in your scrapbook.
face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam
is all about. Islam is peace. (Remarks
by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. [Sept.
Note for historically
inclined: the word “Islam” means submission.
Back to this theme: “We’re not into nation-building.” On September
27, James Pinkerton, who made famous the phrase, “a new paradigm,”
commented on the origin of Bush’s public commitment not to build
the 2000 presidential debates, George W. Bush repeatedly ripped
the Clinton-Gore foreign policy record. In Boston on Oct. 3,
he declared that he and Al Gore “have a disagreement about the
use of troops. He believes in nation-building.” And what was
Bush for instead? “I believe the role of the military is to
fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening
in the first place.” And so, he continued, his focus wouldn’t
be nation-building but rather “rebuilding the military power.”
Mr. Pinkerton has a very different vision — the same vision that
President Bush, Sr. called the New World Order back in 1990, as
we were getting ready to attack Iraq’s troops. Mr. Pinkerton worked
in the White House back then, and in the Reagan Administration,
too. Mr. Pinkerton spells out his vision, brought up to date.
the Americans will go and get Bin Laden. As Bush said, “We’re
focused on justice.” But what happens after that? Does the US
simply collect Bin Laden, “dead or alive,” as Bush said on Sept.
17, and come home?
If ever a nation needed building, it’s Afghanistan. Its 26 million
people — literacy rate, 32% — eke out a subsistence
living; a country the size of Texas has just 1,700 miles of
paved roads. And that’s not just a humanitarian problem for
Afghans; it’s a national security problem for Americans because
even after Bin Laden is gone, the same chaotic countryside could
yet again serve as an enterprise zone for mass murderers.
If the US takes military action against Afghanistan and then
comes home, it would be making the same mistake it made after
World War I. In 1918, the U.S. spearheaded the defeat of the
Kaiser’s Germany at a cost of 116,516 American lives. But we
stopped at the Rhine frontier, told the Germans not to do it
again and retreated back across the Atlantic. Fifteen years
later, the Germans elected Hitler.
By contrast, in 1945, the US won a second, more costly war against
Germany, but this time, instead of stopping at the Rhine and
telling the Germans to get rid of Hitler, the Allies occupied
much of the country. As Secretary of State George C. Marshall
warned, “Europe’s requirements are so much greater than her
present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional
help or face economic, social and political deterioration of
a very grave character.”
Resolved to see no repeat of political deterioration, the U.S.
combined justice — that is, the Nuremberg war-crimes trials
— with nation-building and rebuilding; the Marshall Plan
poured $13.3 billion into devastated Europe, about 1.3% of U.S.
output during those years. If that level of commitment were
converted into today’s dollars, the total expenditure would
be about $150 billion.
But the ultimate reward, of course, has been a mostly democratic
and prosperous Europe that is now partnered with the U.S. in
the fight against terrorism.
After Bin Laden, the US confronts the opportunity — really,
the necessity — of building stable institutions in Afghanistan.
Will it be expensive? Yes. But will it be less costly than another
Sept. 11? Yes again.
Today, Bush is more than a partisan, or even a president. He’s
a war leader, and so he needn’t feel bound by the shortsightedly
opportunistic rhetoric recently uttered by Republicans —
even if he was once the one doing some of the uttering.
If this commander in chief comes to realize that justice and
nation-building aren’t either-or concepts but rather ideas that
should be twinned, he will have done the whole world a service
and a greater common good will yet come from this tragedy.
As of November 13, Mr. Pinkerton’s “new paradigm” has become the
official basis of American foreign policy in Afghanistan, replacing
President Bush’s “no nation-building” vision. I call this bait-and-switch.
NATIONS (November 13, 2001 4:45 p.m. EST) — The United
Nations called Tuesday for a two-year transitional government
for Afghanistan backed by a multinational security force, while
world leaders urged the world body to have a leading role in
the war-ravaged nation’s peace process.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the top UN envoy for Afghanistan, told the
UN Security Council that a plan to bring Afghanistan’s many
ethnic and tribal groups together should be completed “as early
as humanly possible.”
As northern alliance soldiers replaced fleeing Taliban forces
in the capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, there was concern that the
speed of the military campaign was outpacing UN-led diplomatic
efforts to get a transitional government installed. Many countries
cautioned the northern alliance not to repeat the violence that
wracked Kabul during their previous rule.
need a UN presence there as soon as possible,” British Prime
Minister Tony Blair said in London.
And John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the United Nations,
told the Security Council: “An international presence must be
re-established as soon as possible.”
President Bush called for a broad-based government to replace
will continue to work with the northern alliance to make sure
they recognize that in order for there to be a stable Afghanistan
… after the Taliban leaves, that the country be a good neighbor
and that they must recognize that a future government must include
representatives from all of Afghanistan,” he said in Washington.
I call your attention to President Bush’s phrase, “after the Taliban
leaves.” Here is my prediction: the Taliban isn’t going to leave.
It has to be defeated. This is easier said than done. It must
now be defeated in the hills. This will not be a piece of cake.
northern alliance foreign minister, who uses the single name
Abdullah, defended the opposition’s move into Kabul, saying
it had no choice because the Taliban’s sudden withdrawal left
a security vacuum. The United States had asked the alliance
to avoid moving on the capital, afraid its presence would complicate
efforts to create a coalition government. . . .
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants Brahimi’s deputy to travel
to Kabul soon, and the United Nations is eager to get its staff
back into the country and to deliver humanitarian aid.
Brahimi ruled out a UN peacekeeping force for Afghanistan, which
he said would take several months to put together. He said his
first preference would be an all-Afghan security force, but
said a multinational security force could probably be assembled
Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, called Tuesday
for a U.N. peacekeeping mission made up of Muslim nations to
deploy in Kabul and said Turkey and Pakistan could contribute.
should remain as a demilitarized city,” he said in Istanbul.
. . .
Things seem to be coming together nicely for the United Nations
and also for those nations with an interest in subduing bin Laden,
and whatever else they have planned, such as building an oil pipeline
from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the
Indian Ocean. On this point, see the 1999 maps, published by the
Council on Foreign Relations, relating to the Caspian
With this as background, consider this November
13 report from CNN.
New York, the so-called “six plus two” nations — those
neighboring Afghanistan along with the United States and Russia
— were slated to resume talks on a post-Taliban government.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell dispatched James Dobbins,
his special envoy for Afghan opposition groups, to Rome, Italy,
to meet with Afghanistan’s deposed king, Mohammad Zahir Shah,
before heading to the region. And the UN special representative
for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he hopes to assemble
the Afghan groups in the “next couple of days.”
A senior State Department official told CNN that Dobbins would
make contact with the Pakistani government and work with Afghans
there on a future government.
Over the last two years, America has sent $297 million to Afghanistan,
by way of the United Nations and “non-governmental organizations”
(NGO’s). We have promised an additional
Now we know why. We have been trying to establish the legitimacy
of the UN in Afghanistan. Now the UN is about to supervise the
building of a new nation, but without a UN occupying force. Whose
occupying force, then? This will be something to see — at
The strategy for winning every war you get into is simple: redefine
the enemy in mid-stream whenever you can’t beat him — or,
in this case, locate him.
Our original enemy was — way back when — Osama bin Laden.
I don’t mean last July, when he
was a patient in the American-run hospital in Dubai for ten days.
That’s too far back. I mean on September 20, when President Bush
gave his resounding speech to Congress. Back then, bin Laden and
Al-Qaeda were the targets.
Somehow, over the next few weeks, the enemy morphed into the Taliban,
whose recalcitrant leaders refused to hand over bin Laden when
told to by the Bush Administration. The media’s news reports steadily
moved from the horror of the hijackings to the horror of bearded
men who do not let women go to college in a nation without any
colleges. Then America started dropping bombs on cities where
these women lived. As for killing bin Laden, that was put on hold
until the cities were destroyed. Or, to coin a phrase, “We had
to destroy Kabul in order to save it.”
Now that the cities have fallen to the United Front, President
Bush has an opportunity to stop the bombing. Ramadan arrives in
Afghanistan today, U.S. time. Because the cities are now secured
militarily, the justification for carpet bombing has ended, or
at least been made far less plausible. I hope and pray that the
The pressing immediate need is to get Afghan civilian refugees
into safer quarters before winter hits. If civilians are no longer
afraid of more bombing, they may decide to go home, unless their
homes were destroyed. Whatever we can do to get them through the
winter, we should do.
The war has to go into hibernation mode anyway. If we can’t locate
bin Laden even in good weather, there is no need to keep up the
bombing. Winter will make it difficult to conduct a war in the
The US government must conduct simultaneous public relations operations:
the voters, the coalition, and the Middle East’s Islamic nations.
This will not be easy. The longer it takes to take out bin Laden,
the more his legend will grow in the Islamic world. It looks as
though he will inflict a winter of discontent on us.
Of course, for a man with kidney problems, a winter in a cave
could be lethal. His death would become a major problem for his
immediate followers. If he dies, his subordinates may decide to
keep him alive in the minds of their followers. They may decide
to bury him secretly. He would join Elvis in the land of the not-quite-dead.
But his TV broadcasts would then cease. That would create suspicion,
once the snow melts.
His continuing video broadcasts raise another question. How do
we know that he is still in Afghanistan? If he can smuggle videotapes
to Qatar, what about smuggling himself? It would be difficult
to keep this a secret, but this man’s organization seems highly
skilled at keeping secrets. If he is not in Afghanistan, then
our forces could wind up playing hide and seek with a phantom.
I think we’re about to move into the Sitzkreig phase of the war:
“Hurry up and wait.” Peace will not come to Afghanistan until
the Taliban is eliminated. The tribes of the United Front will
soon be killing each other. Someone will have to maintain the
peace. This will require an occupation force, no matter what the
UN says today. The President told us that the war against terrorism
will take many years, but the war against bin Laden is now going
into hibernation until spring.
Al Qaeda is not bottled up in Afghanistan. Bin Laden may be. What
the West has now done is to capture the cities of a Muslim nation.
It must now occupy the nation as an invading army. Washington’s
deal-doers have shrugged this off. While no one would be so politically
incorrect as to say it, they are thinking, as the British said
a century ago, “machine guns can handle the wogs.”
an Ancient Trap
The Taliban’s forces have moved from the cities — now mostly
rubble — into the hills. This news has led to a rise in the
US stock market.
The Taliban’s strategy is what every stock broker’s strategy is:
to lure the naive into a trap.
The Taliban is a guerilla army that happened to take over a nation.
The Taliban’s specialty is mountain fighting. This has been Afghanistan’s
military tradition for centuries. When challenged in the valleys,
Afghan military forces move into the mountains and wait for their
opponents to come and kill them. To overcome this traditional
defensive strategy, Western forces (read: United States special
operations units) will have to clear them out, cave by cave. This
may take a few years.
The invaders are not all Afghans. The toughest fighters are Uzbeks,
who are under the control of an ex-Communist. They may not all
be Muslims. I am informed by an Armenian Uzbek that the Uzbek
Muslims who run the government like to assign the front-line fighting
Thus, when the Taliban abandoned the cities, it was doing what
the Afghans’ age-old military strategy requires. The invaders’
trick will not be in holding the cities. The trick will be to
eliminate the Taliban. The Russians holed up in Kabul for a decade.
They used Kabul as headquarters. Their possession of Kabul was
supposed to give them a strategic advantage. It didn’t.
Meanwhile, nobody in the attacking force has any idea where Osama
bin Laden is.
I have doubts about the long-term prospects of the new government
of Afghanistan, whoever is in charge.
Britain’s Tony Blair on November 14 said: “Though there may be
pockets of resistance, the idea that this is some sort of tactical
retreat is just the latest Taliban lie. They are in total collapse.”
Or, as a previous British Prime Minister said, “Peace in our time.”
end with a warning from
Eric Margolis, who spent time in Afghanistan with the mujahadin
in the 1980′s.
all my years as a foreign affairs writer, I have never seen
a case where so many Washington `experts’ have all the answers
to a country that only a handful of Americans know anything
about. President George Bush, who before election could not
name the president of Pakistan, now intends to redraw the political
map of strategic Afghanistan, an act that will cause shock waves
across South and Central Asia.
Anyone who knows anything about Afghans knows:
1. they will never accept any regime imposed by outsiders
2. an ethnic minority government can never rule Afghanistan’s
ethnic majority, the Pashtun (or Pathan), roughly half the population.
Taliban are mostly Pushtun. Tajiks account for 18-20% and Uzbeks
for 6% of Afghans.
Washington’s plan for ‘nation-building’ in Afghanistan is a
recipe for disaster that will produce an enlarged civil war
that draws in outside powers.
Nation-building requires peace. This peace must be enforced. The
warring tribes that today are called Afghanistan will be killing
each other the day occupying Western forces leave the country.
This is now our war, for it is now our peace to impose. We will
have to supply most of the money, most of the weapons, and some
of the troops — not just to get bin Laden but also to enforce
the peace among our Afghan allies.
My prediction: Our troops won’t be home by Christmas. Not by next
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