This Week You Need To Know
by Jeffrey Steinberg
President George W. Bush landed in a Navy S-3B jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, off the California coast, on May 1, 2003. In what may go down in history as the most expensive pre-election campaign stunt by a sitting American President, Bush delivered the words that now haunt his Presidency: "Mission accomplished."
President Bush was referring to the Iraq War, which had commenced on March 19, 2003. By May Day, the "hot" combat phase of the war had ended, with 170,000 American troops, 35,000 British troops, and a smattering of other "Coalition" forces occupying the capital city of Baghdad and a number of other Iraqi cities and towns. Saddam Hussein and his two sons were in hiding, the insurgency that would soon grip the country had not yet begun in earnest, but, as the world now knows, the "mission" was, and still is, anything but "accomplished."
Nevertheless, as President Bush was prancing around the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, telling the sailors how much he "preciated" their efforts, hard-working combat commanders from the Central Command (CENTCOM), and officials of the interim occupation authority, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), under Gen. Jay Garner (ret.), were cobbling together a plan for the rapid transfer of power to the Iraqisa plan that offered the last best hope for an exit strategy, to restore stability and sovereignty to an Iraq that is today viewed by many experts as caught hopelessly in a rapidly spreading, out-of-control civil war.
At the same time that there was still a chance to repair some of the damage done by the preemptive invasion, and do the right thing in Iraq, the U.S. State Department was being offered an opportunity to open comprehensive talks with Iran, covering everything from Tehran's assistance in the post-Saddam Iraq stabilization and reconstruction, to Iran's nuclear energy program, to Iran's relationship with Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.
Within weeks of Bush's PR stunt on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, all of these opportunities had been flushed down the toilet by the "Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal," to use the terminology of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.), who was, at the time, the chief of staff to Secretary of State and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Colin Powell (ret.).
Instead of a comprehensive solution to the Persian Gulf crisis, we got what can only be called "Halliburton's War," the three-year descent into Hell, during which time, thousands of American GIs were killed or maimed, Iraq became engulfed in an ever-growing asymmetric warfare insurgency, and a parade of private military corporations (PMCs), led by Halliburton, raked in tens of billions in U.S. taxpayers' dollars and Iraqi Oil-for-Food funds, left over from the Saddam Hussein era. Pentagon and Congressional investigations have confirmed that the PMCs, particularly Halliburton, have engaged in crass war profiteering, with the latest Pentagon audit concluding that Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) subsidiary has systematically over-billed U.S. taxpayers by 25% on all of their Iraq logistics and reconstruction contracts, since the beginning of the Iraq imbroglio....