Winners and Losers

John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is again calling on the United States to attack Iran even though he acknowledged that doing so would likely ignite a much larger regional war. But, characteristically, he dismissed the costs as worth it, a phrase reminiscent of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s defense of the killing of half a million Iraqi children through sanctions. Bolton claimed, based on evidence that he did not reveal, that Iran could have enough enriched uranium to create a nuclear weapon in six weeks. He made his comments last Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs committee, which is chaired by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who shook his hand afterward and said “I really love John Bolton.”

Bolton, a leading neoconservative, has been calling for attacking Iran for a number of years. As part of his argument, he always maintains that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon is imminent. He never explains why it hasn’t happened yet, making one suspect that his warnings are baseless and politically motivated. Even the United States intelligence community, in its recently concluded review of the National Intelligence Estimate of 2007, has stated its belief that there is no evidence that Iran has restarted the nuclear weapons program that it abandoned in 2003.

So what does Bolton base his claim on? Intelligence from the Israelis no doubt. Bolton has had a long relationship with the Israeli government and it is presumed also with its intelligence service Mossad. Ironically, the recently retired head of Mossad Meir Dagan, who presumably has seen all of the information that Bolton has access to, has publicly declared that to attack Iran is “irresponsible and reckless.” Bolton clearly believes that his personal access to the representations made by Israeli opinion shapers like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represent something like the truth regarding what is taking place in the Middle East. On the contrary, Netanyahu presents a point of view that he would like people to believe, as was clearly evident when he addressed the US Congress on May 24. Netanyahu spoke for more than 40 minutes and lied repeatedly to support a narrative that he would like the American audience to embrace.

Bolton and his chickenhawk neoconservative friends, eager for another war to prove their mettle, need to step back and consider just what they have accomplished in the past ten years. Since 9/11 changed the United States forever, there has been a flurry of diplomatic and military activity aimed at remaking the world in America’s image in line with President George W. Bush’s admonition that “You are either with us or against us.” And President Barack Obama has continued the Bush doctrine in terms of aggressive diplomacy and war-making, policies that have been consistently supported by large majorities in congress prior to the recent contretemps over Libya.

If Bolton and his accomplices were to be honest, which has never been a virtue that they have practiced to any extent, they would recognize that nearly everything done over the past ten years, relying on heavy handed threats in lieu of diplomacy and military intervention when that fails, has been disastrous. The countries that have done well recently economically and politically are those that have somehow avoided the heavy handed embrace of Washington and that have instead pursued their own interests quietly and consistently, places like China, India, Turkey, and Brazil.

The balance sheet for the United States is deplorable. The national debt has nearly tripled, from $5.7 trillion in January 2001 to $14.3 trillion currently. If the current operating deficit of $118 billion per month were to be covered in a one year raising of the debt ceiling, that would mean that the national debt would approach $16 trillion by next year, more than 100% of the entire gross national product, putting the US in a category with eleven other nations that have exceeded that psychological limit. Greece, which is currently melting down economically, is at 130%. And the US joins that figure to an unemployment and underemployment level of roughly thirty per cent, which exceeds the level of every European nation. American style underemployment means taking jobs at substantially lower salary or wage levels and frequently without any benefits, making the European unemployed much better off.

And what has driven the United States into the fiscal losers league? Growth in government under both Republicans and Democrats and a failure to fund the wars that both have embraced. Paul Wolfowitz and his coterie of criminals at the Pentagon assured the American people that the Iraq war would pay for itself. That was between $3 and $7 trillion dollars ago depending on how one crunches the numbers. Plus approaching 5,000 Americans killed and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis with several million more displaced. The current Iraqi government, which is as corrupt as any on earth, cannot even provide as much electricity as Saddam Hussein did before his fall eight years ago. Even the New York Times has taken note that there is something wrong in Baghdad. And to ice the cake from the American perspective, the Iraqi government is closer to the government in Tehran than it is to Washington. So, Mr. Bolton, where’s the victory?

Afghanistan? One trillion dollars gone and a nation building program that is broken. A war that will turn out badly, guaranteed. The United States will leave Afghanistan one way or another and the Taliban will return. They will probably be smart enough not to invite al-Qaeda’s ragtag remnants back in so as to avoid the inevitable American response, which would be devastating, but if they are careful they will again rule in Kabul.

And there is the global war on terror (GWOT), essentially a lie in that terrorism never endangered the United States in any serious way. The GWOT has been the mother of all evils that have beset the United States because it has fueled much of the growth in government to provide what has been promoted as security for the American people. And it has had devastating effect around the world with hellfire missiles in Pakistan turning the nuclear armed country into a basket case that hates Washington more than the Taliban, with more of the same devastation in Yemen and Somalia. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that any country that has been touched by the United States in the past decade has suffered as a result.

The United States of America, a country whose founders sought to create a nation free from the vices of old Europe, has instead been turned into a monster, with a president who declares war unconstitutionally and gets away with it, who attacks and kills people in still other countries without a declaration of war, who approves of extralegal assassination of citizens, who advances the stripping of constitutional rights through military tribunals, and who regularly engages in invocation of states secret privilege to cover up government wrongdoing. Meanwhile the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and the American people have been stripped of many of their liberties in what is rapidly moving towards a police state. Yes, the United States has been the biggest loser over the past ten years.

Given his dismal record, one has to wonder why a Congressional committee wants to listen to John Bolton at all, but the workings of the Imperial City are inscrutable, particularly to the public that foots the bill. Bolton and his friends in congress and the media have brought us nothing but ruin and despair and now they wish to bring us more of the same. The polite answer to their demands should be “No thank you,” though there are certainly more colorful ways to express that sentiment.

Author: Philip Giraldi

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest.