A Cheney Coup D’Etat? And the Death of Crassus in Iraq
I knew that Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Planning, came into office in January of 2001 intending to get up a war against Iraq. But I had long assumed that they were frustrated to be serving under George W. Bush at first, since he campaigned as an isolationist. I had assumed that only after September 11 could they bring Bush around to their project of taking Baghdad.
Now former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill is revealing that Bush may have also been on board with an Iraq war as soon as he got into office. Wolfowitz and Feith are part of the largely Neoconservative Project for a New American Century, which, includes US Vice President Dick Cheney. Presumably Cheney was the one who got Bush to appoint his old pal Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, and to allow the latter to bring Wolfowitz and Feith in.
I saw Wesley Clark say last Monday on Chris Matthews’ Hard Ball that it was his impression from Washington insiders that Bush basically lets Cheney tell him what to do on a lot of issues.
I now begin to think that Cheney came into office determined to have an Iraq war, as a piece of unfinished business. The PNAC had laid all this out and put pressure on Clinton via the Republicans in Congress as early as 1998. (Some members of the PNAC, including Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, had written a position paper for the Likud Party in Israel in 1996 calling for Israel to pressure the US into a war on Iraq).
O’Neill presents Bush as so detached from policy-making that he makes Ronald Reagan look like a hands-on policy wonk! Bush apparently had virtually no comment directly to O’Neill on Treasury Department policy during his 2-year tenure! It was, O’Neill seems to say, like speaking to a brick wall, to brief W.
And then O’Neill reveals that even W. had doubts about the second huge tax cut. “”Haven’t we already given money to rich people … Shouldn’t we be giving money to the middle,” Suskind says the president uttered, according to a nearly verbatim transcript of an Economic Team meeting he says he obtained from someone at the meeting.” But who convinced him to go ahead? Could it have been Cheney, again?
In short, has there been a Cheney coup-by-default? Is W. so disengaged that he is taking dictation from the former CEO of Halliburton? And, we now know that LBJ used to spend his mornings on the phone to business cronies doing private business. How much of Cheney’s time is spent on the phone to old business associates in the corporate world (seeking to know what legislation they would like to have)? Who pushed Bush into the second, disastrous round of tax-slashing, which was a way of selling our children into indentured servitude?
It may well be that the US has not a presidency but a Duumvirate a la ancient Rome.
Senator Robert Byrd addressed the American Historical Association when I was in DC last Thursday evening, and he invoked the dangers, with reference to Roman history, of republics degenerating into dictatorships. It set me to thinking. The Roman Triumvirate of the 60s-50s BC consisted of Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. Crassus led a campaign into Mesopotamia against the Iranian Parthian Empire. The Iranians killed Crassus in what is now Iraq in 53, leaving a Duumvirate. And then Caesar and Pompey fell out . . . A duumvirate created by a Western invasion of Iraq was an intermediate stage between republic and empire.