Now that you’ve watched the testimony of Richard Clarke – who was for 10 years the “counter-terrorism czar” in the White House – maybe you ought to re-read Nicholas Lemann’s excellent article, “The Next World Order,” in the April 1, 2002, issue of the New Yorker.

Thanks to Lemann, we already knew that the neo-crazies – who reportedly refer to themselves as “Vulcans” – have been hell-bent on establishing an American hegemony for at least the last decade. Now Clarke tells us their first step was to invade and occupy Iraq – and any excuse would do.

Many Vulcans had occupied influential positions under Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, but – evidently – not influential enough. One Vulcan – Richard Perle – has just resigned (under fire) from the influential Defense Policy Board after “17 years of continuous service.” Before that, Perle “served” six years as assistant secretary of defense for international security programs, a post created specifically for him in the early days of the Reagan administration.

The Vulcans reckon it would be nice if other nation-states were “willing” to help establish their hegemony. But, if international organizations – such as the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency – get in the way, they are to be ignored, denigrated or flat run over.

For example, in May, 1998, Pakistan – not subject to the IAEA Safeguards regime, but principal supporter of the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan – tested a half-dozen fairly sophisticated “Islamic” nukes. Worse, in August, 1998, al-Qaida – protected in Afghanistan by the Taliban – bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. What was the Vulcan reaction?

Well, the Vulcans virtually ignored real nukes and real terrorists. They stayed focused on Iraq, charging that Saddam was reconstructing his nuke programs – right under the noses of IAEA inspectors – and was consorting with terrorists. They argued that such “violations,” in and of themselves, constituted sufficient grounds under the U.N. cease-fire resolution for U.S. military action against Iraq, even invasion.

Of course, the Vulcans were wrong on all three counts.

Nevertheless, in December 1998, they got Clinton to launch cruise missiles at several Iraqi “prohibited” weapons “sites,” in a thinly veiled attempt to kill Saddam.

Two years later, transitioning into high-level positions in the Bush administration, the Vulcans were still focused on Iraq, still virtually ignoring al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Islamic nukes in nearby Pakistan.

Then, September 11th dawned.

Here is how “Czar” Richard Clarke – left in charge that day – describes things in the White House the next morning:

I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq.

At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting al-Qaida. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq.

Fortunately, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued that it would take some months to assemble a large enough allied force to invade and occupy Iraq.

Furthermore, it soon became apparent that, while most nations were more than willing to help us hunt down Osama bin Laden, hardly any were willing to help us hang Saddam Hussein from a sour apple tree.

Hence, it was a year later before President Bush sought – and got – a resolution from Congress, authorizing the use of force if he or the U.N. Security Council determined that Saddam was reconstructing “prohibited” weapons programs and was consorting with terrorists.

He also sought – but did not get – a Security Council resolution condemning Saddam for reconstructing his “prohibited” weapons programs and authorizing the use of military force by member states to disarm him.

Instead, the U.N. Security Council asked Saddam to “invite” the U.N. inspectors to come in and investigate Bush’s charges. By mid-March 2003, the IAEA – in particular – was able to report that the nuke charges were completely unfounded.

Realizing that the focus could not be shifted back to Afghanistan-Pakistan from Iraq, Richard Clarke resigned and began writing his book. His thesis is that President Bush “launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide.”

Perhaps worse, those fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorists may soon have nukes.

Pakistani nukes.

You see, the IAEA was right; Saddam never came close to having nukes.

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