Sunday, July 22, 2007

With aides like these

July 22, 2007

With aides like these....

CONTRARY to mainstream media reports, it was not the US Defence Department which criticised Hillary Clinton, a senator and presidential hopeful, for seeking a formal Pentagon briefing on contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq. It was Eric Edelman, an under-secretary of defence for planning, who sent a letter to Clinton reprimanding her for requesting information that she, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had every right and reason to seek. Clear in Edelman's reply was evidently the neoconservatives' distaste for anyone who dares to raise the issue of US withdrawal from Iraq.
It should have been Robert Gates, the defence secretary, who should have replied to Clinton's request for a Pentagon briefing. But Edelman seemed to have assumed the job for himself perhaps because he did not think his boss was up to the job of having to use the occasion to use the strongest of expressions rejecting any debate on withdrawal from Iraq. The question has not been satisfactorily answered whether Edelman had the authority to respond to a request from a member of congress, but then everything and anything goes in the neoconservative-run Washington.
A part of the letter appearing in cyberspace reads:
"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. … Such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risk in order to achieve compromises of national reconciliation."
A well-constructed paragraph but its contents are deceptive.
Edelman is willing concede only that the US is "perceived" to have abandoned its allies in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia whereas the truth is that the US had no option but to cut and run from the three countries when the going got real tough. It could not care less for its allies.
As to "unnerving" of the US's allies in Iraq, Edelman sidesteps the reality that it was "the very same Iraqi allies" that nose-led the US into the disaster in Iraq if only because they wanted to topple the Saddam Hussein regime not for the sake of the country or its people but to serve their self-interests of assuming positions of power, authority and wealth. Some of them were also found to be engaged in spying for foreign governments hostile to the US.
They are indeed assuming "enormous personal risk" but not to "achieve compromises of national reconciliation" as Edelman asserts.
Of course, a cursory glance at Edelman's record would explain how he came up with these views and how he, the third man in charge at the Pentagon, took the initiative of writing a letter to a member of congress that definitely establishes him as firmly entrenched in the Republican camp.
Edelman is one of the die-hard neoconservatives. He counts among his close friends and allies fellow neocons as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz.
He served as Dick Cheney's national security adviser and, along with ex-Cheney aide Lewis Libby, was heavily involved in preparing the ground for the invasion of Iraq. He has a long record of coming up with all kinds of arguments and theories to defend the US decision to go to war and how every neocon involved in pulling the strings for war was acting in the best interests of the US.
By suggesting that Hillary Clinton was undermining national interests — many other phrases could be used as variations of the same thing — Edelman was only living true to his neoconservative identity that does not brooke criticism of whatever nature and whatever issue, least of all the decision to invade and occupy Iraq. The neocons have made sure that their allies and friends are everywhere in the corridors of bureaucratic power in Washington. They know what they are doing and they are indeed doing a good job.
It is indeed people like Edelman and his neocon bosses and friends, past and present, who are blocking any serious and objective discussion of the realities on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and preventing any meaningful move towards addressing the core roots the problems the US faces in the region.