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Sunday, March 30, 2003
I just finished translating an article from le Figaro, a fairly conservative French newspaper. The original article can be found here. The thing that seemed odd to me is that it appears to be repeating Pat Buchanan's nonsense about a neocon-Zionist axis without once bringing him into it. Could there be an international anti-Zionist conspiracy? Here, judge for yourself.

George W. Bush and the American Jihad

James Woolsey has no doubts about it. After Afghanistan, the intervention against Iraq represents a new battle in World War IV. One which, like the third global conflict – that is to say, the Cold War – will see the triumph of "liberty over tyranny." The Director of the CIA under Bill Clinton, Democrat, but a fellow traveler with the neoconservatives who inspire George W. Bush, Republican, Woolsey recently repeated the great themes of the American Jihad before the American Enterprise Institute, one of the best-known centers of strategic research in Washington.

Contrary to what "Old Europe" says, the Marines and paratroopers fighting in Iraq do not have, as their first priority, the seizure of the oilfields. They have a political mission: they are trying to share the "American dream" with the whole Middle East, in a sort of inversion of the Communist domino theory of the Vietnam era.

Once Saddam Hussein has been eliminated, the US would be able to install a democratic regime ion Baghdad which could, as a kind of virtuous infection, serve as a model for the whole neighborhood. Little by little, each state in the region would have to accept those reforms which, having brought happiness and prosperity to the Iraqis, would also be demanded by the other oppressed peoples. The pressure of public opinion would leave the enemies of the US, notably Iran and Syria, no other choice. The friends of the US would also be kept in line, so that the alliance with Washington would not be contradicted by the maintenance of an archaic polity that gives rise to terrorism. Saudi Arabia could no longer play its double game, financing Osama bin Laden in the hope of preserving the fossilized monarchy.

As far as Egypt is concerned, it would be obliged at last to seriously attack the social injustices that serve as an excuse for corruption. Michael Ledeen, a security expert who shared the dais with Woolsey, insists: "Hosni Mubarek had better account for the $2 billion per year we send him, if he thinks Congress will be sending it to him forever."

As far back as 1998, some forty "hawks" sent an open letter to Bill Clinton stressing that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction constitute a "present danger" to the United States. No more than a military parade against him would be needed, since that tyrant had a major weakness: he could not count on any popular support. "This tyrant's documented cruelty has been sufficient to discourage coup plotters, but has aroused the hatred of the people. Iraq is ripe for a general insurrection."

Among the signers of that letter were Donald Rumsfeld, now Bush's Secretary of Defense, and Paul Wolfowitz, now the number two man for the Pentagon. Defeating Saddam and replacing him with a western-style regime would have the effect of stabilizing the Middle East because, Wolfowitz explained, "Democracies don't go to war against other democracies."

At first prudent, George W. Bush hesitated no longer after the attacks of September 11. As the magazine Newsday put it, the president decided to "drain the swamps where terrorists breed." Afghanistan first, then Iraq. It matters little that the American expeditionary force seem suddenly less capable in the deserts of Iraq than in the mountains of Afghanistan. The noble objective makes triumph inevitable.

Woolsey states that since WWI, when Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the fourteen points of his crusade for democracy, America has never wavered: "In 1942, at the worst moment of the Second World War, Roosevelt and took the opportunity to draw up the Atlantic Charter, which proclaimed the universal rule of liberty. In the face of Soviet expansionism, we held to the same belief and won, just as we did in 1945. It will be the same with Iraq. History is on our side: in 1945, there were no more than 12 democracies in the world. Now, there are 120. And we respond to our French friends who accuse us of colonialist aims in Iraq that the Americans who landed on June 4, 1944 kept no more of the soil of Normandy than was needed to furnish a final resting place for their comrades who fell in the liberation of France."

But as far as the general interest is concerned, it is also the interest of Israel that the neoconservatives consider. In 1996, Richard Perle, who became a defense advisor after Bush's election in 2000, proposed to Benyamin Netanyahu, the new prime minister in Jerusalem, a plan to "secure the streets and borders of Israel." The essential element was to get rid of Saddam Hussein, the last Arab leader who, having defied the US, represented a mortal threat to Israel with his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The result is that George W. Bush is the first American president since Richard Nixon for whom an Israeli-Palestinian settlement has ceased to be the central subject of Middle East policy. According to Newsweek, his own analysis is the same as Ariel Sharon's: Moral reasons: Yassir Arafat is a diabolical terrorist who has never wanted to make peace. Ideological reasons: as Likud says, the Arabs only understand force. Political reasons: the Jewish vote could be the key to Bush's reelection in 2004."

The old Middle East hands do not hide their skepticism. In a secret report, which the Los Angeles Times nevertheless received last month, a group of diplomats warned Colin Powell. The economic and social problems of the Middle East are so grave that establishing political reform favorable to the West is impossible. Anti-American sentiment among the Arab masses is so strong that free elections risk the creation of Islamic governments throughout the region. In the newspaper Newsday, Edward Walker, president of a Middle East research institute, formerly one of Bill Clinton's experts at the time of the Camp David negotiations, said with irony: "Democracy is not caught like a cold. It is a fruit that ripens slowly, at a different rate in each society."

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