By Tim Buchholz
It was early morning (for me) when my roommate got a call from his mother in Wisconsin telling him to turn on the TV. That’s when we saw the first building on fire. We ran to our roof in Brooklyn that overlooked Manhattan and saw the plumes of smoke filling the air, and that’s when we saw the second plane hit. We were in shock; we couldn’t believe what we just saw. We thought the world was ending.
As soon as the trains were running again, my friend and I went in to the city and got off at Union Square/14th Street, where anything below 14th was blocked off. Makeshift hospitals lined the streets as gurney’s rushed past us with bleeding bodies through the smoke clouded air.
“How could this have happened?” we asked ourselves as a soldier motioned with his machine gun that we could not go any further.
I’m sure we all have stories of where we were on 9/11; even those numbers will never be the same to us again. And there are just as many theories as to why it happened, and who is to blame. I’m not going to try to answer those questions, but 9/11 did set into motion a military plan that seemed to have been waiting for it to happen.
In 1997, many of the names we have seen so often since the War in Iraq began were listed as members of a neoconservative think tank called “Project for a New American Century,” or PNAC. Founded by William Kristol (not the comedian) and Robert Kagan, its stated goal according to Wikipedia was “to promote American global leadership. Fundamental to the PNAC are the views that American leadership is both good for America and good for the world and support for a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” And their Statement of Principle ends with, “While such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today, it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.” They felt that America was the most powerful country in the world and it was their duty to keep it that way, protecting the world while serving the interests of the United States. PNAC called for an increase in military spending, and a redeployment of our troops oversees to meet modern needs.
In January 1998, in a letter to Bill Clinton, written in part by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, PNAC called for the US Military to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and later criticized the December 1998 bombing attempts the Clinton Administration had made in Iraq, calling them ineffective.
George W. Bush was elected in 2000, and his Vice President (Dick Cheney), the VP’s Chief of Staff (I. Lewis Scootter Libby), Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld), Deputy Secretary of Defense (Paul Wolfowitz), Deputy Secretary of State (Richard Armitage), and his appointed Ambassador to the UN (John R. Bolton) were all members of PNAC, as well as many members of his cabinet and his brother Jeb, who was Governor of Florida during the recount that made him president. PNAC published a 90 page report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources for a New Century” which explains exactly how they planned to implement their program, and also states, “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” They knew the American people wouldn’t go for the plan without a major catastrophe, and they were about to get it. But let’s backtrack just a bit.
Dick Cheney had been Secretary of Defense under George Bush Sr., and as we all know moved on to Halliburton after Bush Sr.’s presidency. During the Clinton Administration, the stock value for Halliburton dropped significantly, and they were rumored to be doing business through their subsidiary businesses with Iran, even though sanctions forbid such dealings. George Jr. asked Cheney to help him pick a VP for his presidential run, and Cheney suggested … Cheney.
Once elected, Bush put Cheney in charge of a national energy policy team called “National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG).” According to www.halliburtonwatch.org, Cheney’s group “met secretly with lobbyists and representatives of the petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, and electricity industries. Many of these individuals work for energy companies which gave large campaign contributions to Bush/Cheney 2000. Environmental groups were mostly excluded from the task force.”
Congress asked Cheney to release the information from these meetings, and he declined. Judicial Watch sued under “The Freedom of Information Act” to make these reports public, and finally managed to get some released in July 2003. According to www.halliburtonwatch.org, “Those documents include maps of Iraqi and other mid-east oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, two charts detailing various Iraqi oil and gas projects, and a March 2001 list of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts." They also sate that, “In January 2003, The Wall Street Journal reported that representatives from Halliburton, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron-Texaco Corp. and Conoco-Phillips, among others, had met with Vice President Cheney’s staff to plan the post-war revival of Iraq’s oil industry. However, both Cheney and the companies deny the meeting took place.” The War didn’t begin until March 2003, but we already had maps showing who would get Iraq’s Oil Fields when the war was over, drawn up in meetings held between January and May, 2001.
According to “Crossing the Rubicon – Simplifying the case against Dick Cheney” by
Michael Kane, “On May 8, 2001 – four months prior to 9/11 – the president placed Dick Cheney in charge of all federal programs dealing with weapons of mass destruction consequence management within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies… This included all training and planning which needed to be seamlessly integrated, harmonious and comprehensive in order to maximize effectiveness. This mandate created the Office of National Preparedness in FEMA, overseen by Dick Cheney.”
Michael Kane goes on to say that Cheney and the Secret Service were running War Games on 9/11, “that placed ‘false blips’ on FAA radar screens. These war games eerily mirrored the real events of 9/11 to the point of the Air Force running drills involving hijacked aircraft as the 9/11 plot actually unfolded. The war games & terror drills played a critical role in ensuring no Air Force fighter jocks – who had trained their entire lives for this moment – would be able to prevent the attacks from succeeding. These exercises were under Dick Cheney’s management.”
As the planes hit, Dick Cheney was rushed to a secret bunker/command center, while George W. Bush read to school children. Who was really in charge that day? And was this the new “Pearl Harbor” that PNAC had said it would take to implement their plans?
After 9/11, we started to hear links between Al Qaeda and Hussein, mainly from Members of PNAC who happened to be in Bush’s administration, like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Then we heard the reports of the WMD’s and the PNAC plan to invade Iraq was set into motion.
The question now is – how did The Project for the New American Century go? PNAC had stated that removing Hussein from power would be good for American interests. Well, our economy is in a recession, we are spending 275 million dollars a day in the war, the dollar is hitting record lows, and there are rumors of oil reaching $150.00 a barrel in just a few weeks time. Bush’s approval rating has gone from close to 70% at the start of the war to 67% disapproval. Donald Rumsfeld was forced to resign. Scooter Libby was implicated in the Valerie Plame scandal, which some say was an attack on her husband for his views about the US’s desires to go to war. Paul Wolfowitz went on to lead The World Bank, till he was forced to resign amidst scandal. Republicans are distancing themselves from the Bush Administration, and a new report was just issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee stating the administration “led the nation to war on false premises,” and, “statements that Iraq had a partnership with Al Qaeda were wrong and unsupported by intelligence.”
So far, not so good.
But, according to www.halliburtonwatch.org, Halliburton’s stock price tripled since the Iraq invasion from $20 to $63 as of 2005. They have since leveled off to around $50.00 today. Cheney still has stock options from Halliburton, but he gives the profits to charity. Then in March of 2007, amidst scandals for no-bid contracts and overcharging our troops, they moved their headquarters out of the United States and to the United Arab Emirates, which means they are no longer an American based company or pay American taxes. Exxon Mobile beat its own 2006 record profit by 3%, and according to a U.S. News report from February 2008 called “Exxon’s Profits: Measuring a Record Windfall” by Marianne Lavelle, “If Exxon Mobil were a country, its 2007 profit would exceed the gross domestic product of nearly two thirds of the 183 nations in the World Bank’s economic rankings. It would be right in there behind the likes of Angola and Qatar—two oil-producing nations, incidentally, where Exxon has major operations.” She also says, “Exxon Mobil’s profits are 80 percent higher than those of General Electric, which used to be the largest U.S. company by market capitalization before Exxon left it in the dust in 2005. Microsoft earns about a third as much money. And next to Exxon, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, looks like a quaint boutique, with annual profits of about $11 billion.” It is interesting to note that their headquarters are in Bush’s home state of Texas. According to Ms. Lavelle, Exxon-Mobile was not the only oil company to profit; the major oil companies combined profits for 2007 surpassed 100 billion.
The members of The Project for the New American Century felt that America was in a prime position atop the rest of the world in 1998, and called for an increase in military spending to keep that position. According to Gordon Lubold of The Christian Science Monitor; “Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the defense budget has ballooned about 35 percent.” He goes on to say, “For the 2009 fiscal year, the Defense Department is asking for $515 billion and a separate $70 billion to cover war costs into the early months of a new administration. Those amounts combined would represent the highest level of military spending since the end of World War II (adjusted for inflation).” He says that we are currently spending 4% of our GDP on Defense, (as much as the rest of the world put together) which The Pentagon wants to keep as the new “floor” for Defense spending. But Mr. Lubold goes on to say that this trend is coming to an end. He quotes Steven Kosiak, a senior budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, another think tank in Washington as saying "Under this plan, between fiscal year 2010 and 2013, The Defense Department’s base budget would be cut by 1.5 percent. Thus, the administration is proposing that the buildup, begun in earnest after the terrorist attacks of September 2001, should come to an end in fiscal 2010."
So the war in Iraq led to an increase in the short term, but looks like it will lead to a decrease in the future. The dollar is reaching new lows and people are starting to invest in Euros and Yen instead. Our housing market has crashed. Our deficit continues to grow. China and India’s economies are growing and threatening to overtake our prime spot on top. It has been suggested by our own Senate in a Bipartisan report that we went to war under false pretense. An article in today’s Los Angeles Times states that “Monthly growth in unemployment rate is biggest in over 20 years,” and the Dow Jones dropped sharply after this report and another rise in oil prices. And even PNAC’s website, www.newamericancentury.org, has been taken down, saying only “This account has been suspended. Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.”
Do not forget, PNAC also said that their, “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity” was good for the world too. Noam Chomsky, interviewed by Gabriel Mathew Schivone in May 2008’s “Monthly Review” states, “There was a recent study by two leading terrorism experts (using RAND Corporation government data) which concluded that what they called the “Iraq effect”—meaning, the effect of the Iraq invasion on incidents of terror in the world—was huge. In fact, they found that terror increased about seven-fold after the invasion of Iraq.” The rise in oil prices has led to a food crisis all over the world. According to “2008: The Year of Global Food Crisis” by Kate Smith and Rob Edwards, “Millions more of the world’s most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards. And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.”
How did it go? I guess it all depends on whose interests you’re interested in.
-Tim Buchholz is a freelance writer living in Ohio. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.