It’s been a lot of fun watching Rumsfeld lately taking a beating from The Generals. But when you think about it, it’s too little, too late. And they should actually be finking on Bush, seeing as he’s the Kommander in Chief, as he keeps telling us.
At any rate, Greg Palast, one of our favorite journalists (his news show is BBC television’s Newsnight). He has had the inside line on Bush and his buddies for some time, and has apparently gotten his hands on the minutes of the discussions of Cheney’s energy policy group
Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.
Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."
Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries."
The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government -- and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms -- knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."
But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab. On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."
Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.
Palast did an interview with Gen. Garner a year after the start of the war for Newsnight. Here is a link for that interview.
Back in 1975, James Grady wrote a book, Six Days of the Condor, which was made into the movie, Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunnaway, and Cliff Robertson. As a novelist, Richard’s stye is a little stiff, but he had a hell of a premise: a secret cabal within the intelligence community planning for the inevitable oil shortages.
Even when I saw the movie version for the first time, I was really struck by the closing scene between Redford’s character Turner (a researcher for the CIA) and Robertson as Higgins, his boss, a slick but cynical old hand in the intel biz:
Turner: Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?
Higgins: Are you crazy?
Turner: Am I?
Higgins: Look, Turner…
Turner: Do we have plans?
Higgins: No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all. We play games. What if? How many men? What would it take? Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime? That's what we're paid to do.
Higgins: Fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan. Oh, the plan was alright, the plan would've worked.
Turner: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?
Higgins: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner.
Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Turner: Ask Them.
Higgins: Not now — then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!
Turner: Boy, have you found a home.
[Turner and Higgins stop in front of The New York Times.]
Turner: I told 'em a story. You play games; I told 'em a story.
Higgins: Oh, you… you poor, dumb son of a bitch. You've done more damage than you know.
Turner: I hope so.
Higgins: Hey Turner! How do you know they'll print it? You can take a walk… but how far if they don't print it?
Turner: They'll print it.
Higgins: How do you know?
- Three Days of the Condor, Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., and David Rayfiel
Well, I think we all know the answer to that one, finally: "They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!"