This Week You Need To Know
by Jeffrey Steinberg
In response to the James Baker III and Lee Hamilton-directed Iraq Study Group report, President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney turned to their chickenhawk allies at the American Enterprise Institute to craft a counter-plan, based on the fantasy premise that a "surge" of American troops could secure victory in Iraq before the 2008 Presidential elections. On Dec. 14, AEI Fellow Frederick Kagan released the AEI utopian scheme, "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq Interim Report." The 52-page power-point presentation, delivered by Kagan at an AEI forum, argued, in effect, that a two-year "surge" of upwards of 50,000 additional U.S. combat soldiers into Baghdad and into the Sunni stronghold Al Anbar Province, would break the back of the resistance and bring peace and stability to Iraq. The AEI document outright rejected the idea at the heart of the Baker-Hamilton study: That the U.S. must negotiate directly with all of Iraq's neighbors including Iran and Syria, and settle the Israel-Palestine conflict, if there is any hope of stabilizing Iraq and withdrawing the American forceswithout having to shoot their way out of the country.
In fact, the Kagan scheme, according to sources familiar with the latest neo-con maneuverings, is premised on the creation of a Sunni bloc of "moderate" states, that will confront Iran and the Shi'ites throughout the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean regionin de facto alliance with Israel. Unspoken, but underlying the "Choosing Victory" plan is the ludicrous idea that Saudi Arabia will cut off the flow of funds and weapons to the Sunni insurgents, thus hastening their defeat. The "Sunni bulwark" scheme, which was peddled to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah by Vice President Cheney when he visited Riyad in late November, just before the release of the Baker-Hamilton report, is premised on an expansion of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to include Egypt and Jordan; and the buildup of a military alliance between the "GCC-Plus-Two" and NATO.
As EIR warned in the "Behind the Cheney Trip to Riyad" report of Nov. 27, any move by the Anglo-Americans to provoke a Sunni versus Shi'ite confrontation would lead, rapidly, to the outbreak of a new Hundred Years War, that would rapidly spread out from Southwest Asia to engulf the entire planet.
If there was any doubt that the Kagan AEI report was cooked up with Cheney complicity, to insure that the Baker-Hamilton report would be "dead on arrival" at the White House, National Public Radio reported, on Dec. 21, that Kagan, along with Elliot Cohen and other participants in the AEI "Choosing Victory" study, met with President Bush at the White House earlier in the week, and received strong support for their "surge" scheme. This, despite the fact that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have unanimously opposed the idea of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, arguing that the U.S. Army and Marine Corp are already at the breaking point, and cannot sustain any additional combat deployments.
Gen. Abizaid Bows Out
One casualty of the Bush-Cheney persistent chickenhawk insanity is Gen. John Abizaid, who announced on Dec. 20 that he would be retiring from the U.S. military in March 2007. The current Commander of the Central Command reportedly decided to publicly announce his retirement now, because he is convinced that the Bush-Cheney White House is committed to military action against Iran before they leave office. The recent deployment of an additional U.S. Navy carrier group to the Persian Gulf, according to the sources, is targetted against Irannot part of the expansion of U.S. military forces combatting the Iraqi insurgency.
While the AEI "Choosing Victory" report was written by Frederick Kagan and represented his views alone, the final power-point page listed the participants in the study group. Apart from several retired military officers, including Gen. Jack Keane and Lt. Gen. David Barno, the task force was stacked with the neo-con "usual suspects," including many of the participants in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Frederick Kagan, brother of fellow neo-con Robert, and son of Straussian professor Donald Kagan, were all on PNAC. Other AEI task force participants included PNAC co-founders Thomas Donnelly and Gary Schmitt. Other leading task force neo-cons include Michael Rubin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and Danielle Pletka.
An expanded version of this article will appear in next week's InDepth.