Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted Americans to believe there was something nefarious going on, something we should be very afraid of. To this end, they convinced President Ford to appoint a commission including their old friend Paul Wolfowitz to prove that the Soviets were up to no good.
Wolfowitz's group, known as "Team B," came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several terrifying new weapons of mass destruction, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn't depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable with our current technology. It could - within a matter of months - be off the coast of New York City with a nuclear warhead.
Although Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld's assertions of this powerful new Soviet WMD was unproven - they said the lack of proof proved the "undetectable" sub existed - they nonetheless used their charges to push for dramatic escalations in military spending to selected defense contractors, a process that continued through the Reagan administration.
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz helped re-organized a group - The Committee on the Present Danger - to promote their worldview. The Committee produced documentaries, publications, and provided guests for national talk shows and news reports. They worked hard to whip up fear and encourage increases in defense spending, particularly for sophisticated weapons systems offered by the defense contractors for whom many of these same men would later become lobbyists.
And they succeeded in recreating an atmosphere of fear in the United States, and making themselves and their defense contractor friends richer than most of the kingdoms of the world.
Trillions of dollars and years later, it was proven that they had been wrong all along, and the CIA had been right. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz lied to America in the 1970s about Soviet WMDs and the Soviet super-sub technology.
Not only do we now know that the Soviets didn't have any new and impressive WMDs, but we also now know that the Soviets were, in fact, decaying from within, ripe for collapse any time, regardless of what the US did - just as the CIA (and anybody who visited Soviet states - as I had - during that time could easily predict). The Soviet economic and political system wasn't working, and their military was disintegrating.
But the Cold War was good for business, and good for the political power of its advocates, from Rumsfeld to Wolfowitz to Cheney who have all become rich in part because of the arms industry.
Today, making Americans terrified with their so-called "War On Terror" is the same strategy, run for many of the same reasons, by the same people. And by hyping it - and then invading Iraq to bring it into fruition - we may well be bringing into reality forces that previously existed only on the margins and with very little power to harm us.
Most recently we've learned from former CIA National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and South Asia Paul Pillar that, just like in the 1970s, the CIA disagreed in 2002 with Rumsfeld and Cheney about an WMD threat - this time posed by Iraq - even as Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz were telling America how afraid we should be of an eminent "mushroom cloud."
We've seen this movie before. The last time, it cost our nation hundreds of billions of dollars, vastly enriched the cronies of these men, and ultimately helped bring Ronald Reagan to power. This time they've added on top of their crony enrichment program the burden of over 2200 dead American servicemen and women, tens of thousands wounded, as many as a hundred thousand dead Iraqis, and a level of worldwide instability not seen since the run-up to World War Two.
When Hilary Clinton recently noted that the only political card Republicans are any longer capable of playing is the card of fear, she was spot-on right. They're now even running radio and TV commercials designed to terrorize our children ("Do you have a plan for a terrorist attack?"), the modern reincarnation of "Duck and Cover."
Now that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has confessed that many of the terror alerts that continually popped up during the 2004 election campaign were, as USA Today noted on 10 May 2005, based on "flimsy evidence" or were done over his objection at the insistence of "administration officials," it's increasingly clear that the Bush administration itself is the source of much of the "be afraid!" terror inflicted on US citizens over the past 5 years.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The Fear Racket /Religion