Are We Mice or Men?

In 2002, I worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Many of the same men I observed rolling out the red carpet for an unwarranted, unnecessary and lie-based invasion of Iraq remain inside the Pentagon. These include former director of the Iraq-oriented Office of Special Plans between August 2002 and August 2003, Dr. Abram Shulsky. That mission accomplished, Dr. Shulsky remains in the employ of the American people.

So too, serving the people, are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Stephen Cambone. Shulsky’s one-time supervisor managing Middle East policy concerns, Bill Luti, left the Pentagon for a position in the National Security Council. George W. Bush remains wholly submerged in his prudence deprivation chamber, wondering exactly which day Armageddon will start. Impatient and immoral child that he is, he demands it be soon.

The chickenhawks are at it again. They may tragically succeed in their quest, this time Operation Target Iran. Perhaps it was always about Iran. Will we ever really know?

The October edition of Harper‘s contains a powerful piece by Daniel Ellsberg. He calls on real Americans who love this country, those who value constitutional process over neoconservative wet dreams, true and dedicated public servants to bring forth the primary evidence of illegalities into the light. Evidence, plans and papers showing that the invasion of Iran, using Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iraqis and American soldiers and Marines in a battle is not only planned, but is indeed underway. Illegally underway.

The information we need from valiant reporters with outstanding contacts on the inside of the Pentagon is already available. Read anything by the McClatchey Newspapers, especially anything covered by the former Knight-Ridder national security team. Read news from the Christian Science Monitor, Ha’aretz, any of a variety of European and Asian media giants. Read the plucky and rarely wrong Seymour Hersh. Read the acutely observant if righteously angry, and follow their links. Word is out about what is happening. One more unwarranted invasion. If Israel, with American support and without much trouble, could obliterate southern Lebanon’s infrastructure and a thousand civilians, then America, with Israel’s support, can obliterate the productive infrastructure of northern and southern Iran, and kill several thousand Iranians and get away with it.

If there are any innocents left in America, they may ask, "How can foreign policy be arbitrarily pursued without serious intelligence and diplomatic involvement? Without consent of an alert and well-informed Congress, the oversight of a judiciary set to preserve the law of the land over the prurient desires of the powerful and well connected?"

How, indeed.

About January 2003, I ran into a Naval officer I had known from the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff in a Pentagon hallway. I hadn’t seen him for months and asked where he had been. He told me that he had been pulled to the Navy staff the previous spring and had been working 14 hour days ever since. I asked what he was working on. He told me logistics to the Gulf. Boatloads of supplies moving into the theater to support the Iraq invasion. Materials moving nearly a year in advance. That’s what he’ll tell his grandchildren about what he did in the war — long before it was a war.

This is, of course, one of the chief benefits of boutique wars, wars of choice, wars directed by the powerful on the weak. These engagements must wait — not for the matriel already moved by executive order — but for an uninvolved, ill-informed, and unreasoning democratic public to be brought around. In 2002 and 2003, that was the assignment of Abe Shulsky, Richard Perle, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condi, Dick and Dubya. It was the mission of lesser mortals like Bill Luti and Scooter Libby, and even lesser ones like reporters Judith Miller and Robert Novak.

Only last month, Steven Clemons blogged about a youtube video entitled "UAV Hunter Payload." Seems as if when viewers watched this video, at least one noticed the coordinates placed the drone over Iran. Illegally, by the way. An act of war, by any measure. By the time I got there, one day later, the video had been "removed by user." Porn clips on Youtube have a longer shelflife than proof of acts of war committed by Washington elites and simple-minded Presidents.

It’s all very interesting. We can wait and wonder, or we can heed Daniel Ellsberg’s call. If you can’t be inside the Pentagon, encourage those you know inside that system to do the right thing, the constitutional thing, the productive thing. The American people don’t want war or the destruction of Iran. We don’t want to be responsible for even more hatred and rage in a strange and alien place most never intend to retire to, or even visit. We certainly don’t want to be sent the bill for this administration’s desire for destruction and the nervously salivating Congress’s desire to be seen as something, anything, but what they are.

I hope that multitudinous stray forces for good will change what has become the American way of war — lie, bomb, embezzle, repeat. I hope that perhaps before or after November, we the people will be able to say the administration’s designs have been "removed by user." I’d like to think an outpouring of truth will begin to restore our country’s heart and soul.

I hope like a mouse hopes, to find a bite to eat while not becoming one. It seems to me we need to ask ourselves, as Daniel Ellsberg has effectively asked, "Are we mice?" Or are we men? Sadly, we shall see.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts