The Bush-Cheney Regime and U.S. Middle East Policy: Radical Nihilists Driving Permanent War
By Ronald Bleier
Please click on the link for a paper that I presented at a Conference on the Middle East that was held at LaGuardia Community College on May 10, 2007.
I argue that the Iraq war was not for oil, or for Empire and only partly for Israel. I contend that the Bush-Cheney clique is devoted to a radical nihilist agenda of permanent war and destruction for its own sake.
Such an ideology is to be distinguished from the banal goals of Empire building since its overall purpose, is not reconstruction but destruction, as in reducing the achievements of civilization to Year Zero, and making sure they stay that way. Here are some excerpts from my article on Empire.
Observing the current chaos and devastation that is Iraq today, we can suggest that the purpose of the war was not to extend the American imperium or aggrandize U.S. Empire. Quite the opposite.
The day before the Bush clique took office in January 2001, the US was the world’s only superpower, the strongest empire, the most powerful imperial nation in history. If Empire was all they wanted, they could have simply coasted for eight years, and they would have ended up perhaps even stronger than when they started. But the Bush-Cheney agenda was not passive and it had nothing to do with the painstaking work of carefully consolidating and adding to Empire. …
If the priority in Iraq were self-interest, wholesale destruction of the invaded country would have been be avoided. Self-interest imposes limits on the Imperial power.
Confusion about Empire
One reason for popular confusion about Empire may be that an Imperial power typically uses its military might or the threat of its military might to extend, consolidate or preserve its empire. However true Empire builders characteristically are judicious in their use of the military. They generally shun the reckless profligacy and sheer waste that Bush-Cheney have exhibited. If Empire is to be advanced, not the use of power, but the threat of the use of power is often most effective. Empire builders typically use the tools of diplomacy; they forge alliances, employing the military only as a last resort. Empire builders would also work to strengthen the military, not tear it down and destroy it. They would devote adequate resources for training and equipping their military, and would seek to provide adequate health care if only for the purpose of maintaining the morale of current and incoming troops.
That Bush and Cheney’s endless war agenda is about the destruction not the extension of Empire may seem counterintuitive. When we speak of the catastrophe that is Iraq today we are taught to use such terms as mistakes and miscalculations (as in “an endless series of miscalculations") even while there is a treasure trove of evidence in the public record and evidence of covert operations that reveal the Bush’s administration’s malice, malfeasance, forethought, and deep calculation. In my article I suggest that sometimes it is necessary to take seriously even counterintuitive notions.
Needless to say it’s counterintuitive to seriously consider a 21st Century American administration devoted to the destruction of all meaning, knowledge and value, the destruction of worlds. Such an agenda signals the exceptionalism of Bush and Cheney. The evidence indicates that theirs is an ideological, not a practical or realist or self-serving agenda since endless war is ultimately suicidal. If it’s counterintuitive to view Bush and Cheney as determined on a path not for self interest but rather for destruction and endless war, that’s in part because most of us see elements of ourselves in our government. In order to survive and thrive we are properly trained from an early age to work on behalf of our self interest. Those who don’t tend to fall by the wayside and are typically weeded out from positions of power. However sometimes circumstances conspire, not least when the society is weakened by inner or outer challenges, to bring to the fore leaders who are very successful and at the same time utterly vicious and remorseless. One such 20th century leader who arose in just such circumstances was Pol Pot, the 1970s leader of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia who did everything he could to destroy his country and kill millions of his countrymen.
I devote the last part of my paper to evidence that the Bush administration is driving the Iraqi civil war and sectarian violence by means of training, equipping and giving marching orders to both sides of the Sunni/Shiite ethnic divide. The U.S. purpose, one can gather, is to provide the rationale to maintain an indefinite occupation of Iraq and to continue to destroy Iraqi and U.S. civil society, not to mention the rest of the world.