Clinton Cabinet Member Sought Iraq Provocation
But W. Himself Proposed Ruse

Retired Gen. Hugh Shelton reveals in his new book that in the late 1990s a Clinton cabinet member asked him if was possible to fly a U2 spy plane low enough over Iraq to get it shot down, thus creating a pretext for the US to take out Saddam Hussein. The general says he was outraged at the idea of sacrificing a pilot’s life in that way and told the cabinet member off.

But note that there is no evidence that Bill Clinton himself approved of the cabinet member’s hideous suggestion, and clearly Clinton was not interested in getting up a war against Iraq.

In contrast, George W. Bush and British PM Tony Blair in January of 2003 considered having a plane painted in UN colors and having it fly low over Iraq in hopes it would be fired on, so as to create a pretext for an Anglo-American war on Iraq. This time the wild schemes were coming from the commander in chief, not a mere cabinet member, and he even decided he just did not need any UN authorization to go to war.

8 Responses

  1. Bush best scheme was to have weapons inspectors verify there would be no Iraqi WMD that could be used against the invading force! You can’t be a “war president” if your army is entirely wiped out the first afternoon of the proceedings.

  2. Oh boy…these gets back to that exasperating business of perception management, and the imperatives of imperialism (acknowledged or not).

    A few weeks ago I was reminded of how the US maneuvered Japan into a corner during the 1930′s, in what Walter LaFeber characterized as a “slipknot”, where the more they tried to get out of their economic corner, the stronger US sanctions became, essentially provoking what Japan knew would be an utterly desperate attack on Pearl Harbor. At that time it struck me not dissimilar from those meetings in Dubya’s adm when Rummy’s memo provided concrete evidence of endeavoring to manufacture a cause for war. The difference is there was no such smoking-gun memo from FDR (that we know of, anyway), and there was a lot of argument within his adminstration about how to avoid what in retrospect appears to have been inevitable.

    As it happened, the muscle of the US fleet was out looking for Yamamoto’s task force when the attack came, never suspecting he was going for Pearl Harbor. FDR’s preoccupation at the time was how to arrange things so THEY would fire the first shot. In a number of ways the Japanese played into their hands. LBJ found his excuse, as have others, and its a scenario we might expect to see repeated.

    What this comes back to is how to A) legitimize your war/attack against someone who doesn’t stand a chance, in order to B) mobilize the support of your populace, to C) help your economy, and C) thereby get re-elected, etc. Providing, is how politicians get re-elected.

    There is a pattern to these things, and it isn’t limited to constitutionally democracies. The same sort of thing seems to happen throughout history whenever a bully want/needs to take something from the little guy. Managing the people is the essence of political power: politicians have to read which way the herd is moving and/or do something to spook them appropriately. A great speech may last overnite, but a 911 allows things to get done!

    Once again, my attitude is not to (once again) get too upset by this stuff. My gas and my bananas, and any number of other things, are cheap, and all of us in the US have neo-imperialism to thank for it. The thing is to think and promote a more enlightened self-interest when we inflict ourselves on the world. At least, IMHO, US alternatives with Japan in the 1930′s were scarce….we do have options with Iran and the rest of the world. And the forces of darkness are evidently just that.

  3. Dear Professor:

    As the preacher wrote and as quoted in the Bible. “There is nothing new under the sun,” as some US masters of war wanted to use terror in US to foment action against Cuba in ’62. link to gwu.edu
    link to gwu.edu

    “Remember the Maine!”

  4. I think that this story is suspect. We are supposed to believe that a General was outraged by the suggestion of a cabinet member. What a crock of shit. Did this General demand the president fire the cabinet member? Of course not. Did the General report this incident to the press? Of course not. The fact of the matter is that General probably had one of his underlings plant that idea in the head of the cabinet member.
    Did this General issue a warning to his army that there were come “CIVILIAN” politicians who were planning a war of aggression in the middle east and if they succeeded in getting the US government to launch such a war the US military would be obligated to go on strike? No Generals in the US military are are not only without any political leanings they are also obviously without any ethical leanings.
    Remember the USS Liberty!

  5. When I first heard about this, I went looking through news accounts on the Internet and found what appears to be an account of the plot when it was carried out.

    Iraqi military authorities spotted the plane, noticed that it’s behavior was unusual, and decided that trying to shoot it down would only provoke the war they were hoping to avoid.

    At the time, no one suspected that the flight was the brainchild of the U.S. government.

    I don’t have the URL to send you to, but I imagine the news accounts are still available.

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