August 28, 2002

Justin Raimondo is on vacation. Today we present an appropriate classic from three years ago. This column demonstrates, once again, how accurate Justin’s predictions have been about the then-coming Bush Administration. Now, with Condoleezza Rice whipping up the hysteria over Iraq, how telling is this quote?:

"how different from Mad Madeleine will Secretary of State Rice turn out to be? Two years from today will we be calling her Crazy Condoleezza?"

…She’s on her way!

August 23, 1999Divining the foreign policy positions of George "Dubya" Bush, the Republican "frontrunner," based on his own statements, is an impossible task – since those statements are so few and far between that, taken together, they amount to no more than a few sentences. And these are not exactly oracular words of wisdom but vague sentiments that do not easily translate into policy. What does translate into policy, however, is his choice of foreign policy advisors – and the news is not good.


The three foreign policy mavens always mentioned in news stories about Dubya’s shadow Cabinet are: Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney. Ms. Rice, former Stanford University provost and a low-level advisor to Dubya’s father, is often cited as the chief of this policy group, a future Secretary of State – but this is the story being told by the Bushies, and it doesn’t quite add up. Like everything else in the Bush campaign, the foreign policy "team" assembled by the candidate and his campaign staff has all the earmarks of a classic Potemkin village – a phony façade put up to impress those who don’t bother looking too closely. Well, then, let’s look a little more closely at the Bushies’ answer to Mad Madeleine.


Rice started out as a music major at Stanford but almost flunked out, whereupon she switched to Soviet studies. Rice became interested in her specialty of Soviet studies as a student of Joseph Korbel, the father of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Now there is an interesting coincidence, one that underscores the inbred nature of the foreign policy-making elite: how different from Mad Madeleine will Secretary of State Rice turn out to be? Two years from today will we be calling her Crazy Condoleezza?


Having found her niche, Ms. Rice was quickly taken in hand by the Hoover Institution, a redoubt of the George Shultz/Bechtel wing of the Republican foreign policy elite, where she rose quickly through the ranks. As the sole person of color, and a female to boot, in an administration devoted to "affirmative access" (if not action), her visibility was high. But there is nothing in Rice’s resume to suggest that she is the heavyweight the Bushies are describing. The apex of her academic career was reached with the 1984 publication of her magnum opus, The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983 : Uncertain Allegiance, a dissertation no more indicative of her capabilities as a future Secretary of State than her more recent unimpressive contribution to an anthology on German reunification.


In the first Bush administration Ms. Rice was the author of no known policy initiatives, and in the interim her career as provost at Stanford has not exactly catapulted her into the international spotlight. So what gives? How can we explain this strange gap between Rice’s real achievements and the grandiose future planned for her by Bush campaign operatives?


It is probably unkind, and no doubt a hate crime, to call attention not only to Ms. Rice’s curious lack of qualifications but also to her race – to the likelihood that she is an affirmative action "front." In the same way that many companies nowadays get government contracts under affirmative action rules, with a bunch of white guys getting blacks (or whomever) to front for them, so it works the same way in politics, where identity politics and "diversity" are the political coin of the realm. The disparity between Rice’s resume and her projected status in Dubya’s administration is otherwise inexplicable. In an age where political correctness has even infected the Republican Party, race is always a key factor, not only in getting Ms. Rice where she is, but where – perhaps – she is going.


The great advantage of having an African American Secretary of State, who would forevermore be known as the First Black Secretary of State, is that it will help sell interventionism among American blacks and other minorities of color. Polls show that blacks are among the most skeptical when it comes to overseas intervention, generally agreeing with the proposition that we ought to take care of our problems right here at home. A black Secretary of State would help an administration hard-pressed to sell a war for oil in the far-off Transcaucus, or a Vietnam-style intervention against Colombian "narco-terrorists." Another big factor is motivating the troops, what with blacks and other minorities now making up a majority of the military rank-and-file.


But if Ms. Rice is a front, then who or what is she fronting for? Who or what is behind the Potemkin village façade of George Dubya’s foreign policy task force? The other two members of the team, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, make up the two major components of the Bushian foreign policy coalition: Big Oil and the neoconservative/Weekly Standard wing of the GOP. While the goals of the former are relatively coherent, and well-known – the desire for profits is universal and easily understood – the obscure ideological motivations of that exotic sect known as the neocons is not so easily or succinctly explained.


For those interested in a detailed explanation, I refer you to my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, which traces in detail the evolution of this obscure sect from far Left to the ostensible Right. Suffice to say here that these Cold Warriors in search of a new enemy, have now fixated on China, and Wolfowitz, Dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President Reagan, and undersecretary of Defense in the Bush administration, is their ideological point man. If there is a war, anywhere at any time, that Paul Wolfowitz has opposed: if there is a single concession he ever endorsed, even one instance where he speculated that any degree of mutual disarmament or easing of tensions ought to take precedence over military action and preparations for war, then it has gone unrecorded. His emergence as the policy guru on George Dubya’s team signals the complete takeover of the Bush campaign by the War Party.


More specifically, Wolfowitz represents that wing of the War Party that is focused on the alleged "threat" of China. For Wolfowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, is convinced that the locus of power is shifting definitively in the direction of Asia. With the freeing up of the Chinese economy, and the growth of Asian markets in general, sheer numbers, he avers, will soon point to the possibility of Asian hegemony in the world. He compares 21st century China to 19th century Germany, and speculates that Chinese nationalism spurred on by national resentment over past wrongs will spur Chinese belligerence. He warns that those who ignore the Yellow Peril are in danger of making the mistake of Neville Chamberlain whom "lamented that his countrymen were preparing bomb shelters because of ‘a quarrel among faraway peoples about whom we know nothing.’ Of course, that attitude of Chamberlain’s led to a terrible war that could have been prevented, a war that Winston Churchill called ‘The Unnecessary War.’"


All these references to Great Britain, and particularly Wolfowitz’s World War II analogy, were meant as crowd-pleasers, for this was said in a speech to the Atlanticist Initiative, the "conservative" equivalent of the old "Union Now" movement of Clarence Straits. Just as the Union Now organization used to push for a formal merger of the US and Great Britain, so the new "Atlanticists" are the chief spokesmen for the cohesion of American and British foreign policy – with the latter invariably taking the lead and stiffening the spine of the often reluctant Uncle Sam. The spirit of this conference of prominent American conservatives, and their special relationship to the Mother Country, was symbolized by the featured speaker, Lady Thatcher, that icon of right-wing Anglophilia. It was, in short, a meeting of the Anglophile Caucus of the War Party, convened to discuss their relevance in the post-Cold War world. Wolfowitz’s message to them was simple and direct: the end of the Cold War does not and cannot mean peace. War, war, and more war – that is the inevitable albeit tragic fate of the human race, and we had better prepare for it.


In an extraordinarily revealing attack on Francis Fukuyama, Wolfowitz attacked the idea that we are in an era of peace, openly ridiculing the thesis that we are at "the end of history," and comparing the present era to the prewar years of 1917 and the 1930s. War is not only probable, but also imminent, and we must prepare. The role of the NATO alliance is key: to make sure that Russia stays out of Central Asia. To underscore the seriousness of the alleged threat from China, he even raises the possibility of a Russo-American alliance against Beijing. Of course, this is all discussed in the manner of the value-free "scientist" examining the unfolding of historical trends, but the policy implications are clear and ominous enough.


As a staunch member in good standing of the neocon foreign policy brain trust, Wolfowitz was naturally a cheerleader in Clinton’s war against the Serbian people. He was early on associated with the Balkan war lobby, notably the Balkan Institute and the Balkan Action Council, both funded in large part by George Soros. He signed two newspaper ads run by the neocons in the New York Times: one full-pager calling for extended and massive intervention early on [September 20, 1998], and another criticizing the Clintonians for not doing enough to "win" in Kosovo once they were involved. Among his co-signers were the usual suspects, a motley collection of Right-wing Social Democrats from the Lane Kirkland wing of the War Party, to neoconservative Republicans such as William Kristol and Jeanne Kirkpatrick. The ascension of Wolfowitz to the top policy spot means that a policy vigorously opposed by the majority of congressional Republicans – and primary voters – is going to be embraced by the party’s likely nominee. This is how our nation’s "bipartisan" foreign policy of global interventionism has managed to stay in place for half a century, without any significant challenge – the people never get to vote on it.


The other member of the Bushian foreign policy triumvirate, Dick Cheney, plays a different if by no means subordinate role. As a former Secretary of Defense, now the president of the Halliburton Company, the biggest provider of products and services to the petroleum industry, Cheney represents the alliance of Big Oil money and the military-industrial complex. After presiding over the Defense Department, Cheney graduated to the world of big business, where he became President of Halliburton. Under Cheney’s leadership. Halliburton has expanded the range of services its offers and has spent about $1 billion acquiring companies with different niche specialties. The company bought Landmark Graphics Corp., in 1996, a company that makes software for seismic evaluations of petroleum reservoirs. Last year, it gobbled up Numar Corp.: their software enables drillers to analyze subsurface rock formations in newly drilled wells using magnetic resonance imaging. The recent acquisition of the Dresser Company means that Halliburton has acquired strong engineering capabilities and drilling systems to complement its strength in energy sector construction and maintenance. Reemerging onto the political stage, Cheney is playing a major role in what may become the biggest and most profitable deal of his private sector career – the coming war for oil in the troubled Transcaucasus.


With his links to Texas oil barons, and his political connections, Cheney is gearing up with the rest of the oil industry to cash in on the Great Caspian Oil Bonanza. Cheney has been in the forefront of the effort to repeal US legislation that forbids foreign aid to undemocratic regimes such as the government of Azerbaijan. That central Asian nation, ruled by a neo-Stalinist dictator, is where a good deal of the oil is located; it is also a key link in the oil companies’ scheme to build a trans-Balkan/Transcaucasian oil pipeline to bring its product to market in Western Europe. Can anyone doubt that "a quarrel among faraway peoples about whom we know nothing" in that tumultuous region will suddenly involve "vital" US "national interests"? As Russian troops fight Islamic rebels in Dagestan, and the Armenians and Azeris call for the US and/or NATO to intervene, the prospect of George Dubya in the White House begins to take on a distinctly ominous aspect.


It used to be, not so long ago, that the interface of corporate interests and US foreign policy was far subtler. In these decadents days of imperial excess, however, there is a pagan shamelessness in the unseemly spectacle of revolving doors between corporate and government institutions. A man like Cheney, who segues so rapidly and easily from chief warmaker to chief executive officer of a major international corporation, is the perfect symbol of the Republican foreign policy establishment in the age of George Dubya. If Wolfowitz is the chief theoretician of this mercantilist dogma that equates untapped oil fields with "the national interest," then Cheney is its chief practitioner – and among the most successful.


The oil companies envision a pipeline that will carry their product across Eastern Europe to customers in the West – and the Albanian end of that trans-Balkan route is already being taken care of. It was the Houston engineering firm of Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, that won the contract to build barracks not only in Bosnia, but also in Kosovo and Albania; they were one of the biggest direct beneficiaries of the war. As Wolfowitz was signing newspaper ads demanding the introduction of US ground troops into Kosovo, Halliburton was busy building and outfitting the Albanian staging areas.


The neoconservative intellectuals, like Wolfowitz, expend millions of words to prove and reprove the necessity of their policies, of the inevitability of perpetual war for perpetual peace, while second-and-third tier activists like William Kristol proclaim the virtues of a "benevolent world hegemony." But in the end it boils down to such vulgar matters as Halliburton’s profit margins and the price of oil. In an era in which wars are fought in the name of vague and improbable ideals, such as "human rights" and "multiculturalism," it is a safe bet to follow the money. It works almost every time.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].