Friday, June 17, 2005

Connect the Dots

This was written more than 3 years ago, but still has relevance given the current debate about the Downing Street Memos, and the odds of an imminent invasion of Iran - yet another example of an American president deceiving the American public into going to war...But I think more of our citizens, and the world's citizens, are waking up to the pattern...

May 21, 2002
Connect the Dots

There is much current debate around three questions: What did members of the Bush Administration know about the attacks of September 11? When did they know those things? What did they do with the information?

The Congressional investigation is divided. Should Senators and Representatives explore possible wrongdoing by Bush officials? Or should they focus on mistakes and miscommunication among intelligence agencies, so as to thwart future attacks?

One repeating charge is that FBI, CIA and other agencies failed to “connect the dots” linking evidence to see the whole picture. But it is equally important to connect the historical dots that laid the groundwork for Bush to knowingly allow a terrorist attack to take place, in order to advance American corporations’ economic interests around the world by diversion at home and force abroad.

In March 1846, President James K. Polk ordered American troops to take up a position on the bank of the Rio Grande River, 150 miles south of the Nueces River. Since Texas had declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Nueces River had been considered its southern border with Mexico. Polk wanted to expand the western border of the United States to California. The American military presence on the Rio Grande arguably provoked Mexican fighters to attack in late April, events which Polk used to drum up Congressional support for the May 13, 1846 declaration of war.

On February 15, 1898, two explosions sank the US battleship Maine, harbored outside Havana, and killed 260 crew members. The ship had been in Cuban waters to protect American businessmen, their families and their property while the Cubans fought for independence from Spain. At the time, US investigators and newspapers reported that the explosions were caused externally, perhaps by a floating mine; Spanish investigators said a fire in the ship’s coal bunkers spread to ammunition, which then blew up. Modern researchers confirmed the Spanish view, but the Maine incident was used to rally public support for the Spanish-American war, declared in April 1898 under President William McKinley.

As part of a string of US annexations, McKinley oversaw the invasion of the Philippines in 1898, also to protect and expand American business control of Pacific natural resources and markets. But the Filipinos did not want to become American subjects. As Howard Zinn wrote in A People’s History of the United States:

The fighting with the rebels began, McKinley said, when the insurgents attacked American forces. But later, American soldiers testified that the United States had fired the first shot. After the war, an army officer speaking in Boston’s Faneuil Hall said his colonel had given him orders to provoke a conflict with the insurgents.

In 1915, Woodrow Wilson used the German sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship carrying 128 American civilians and more than a thousand others, to erode US-German relations, eventually leading to America’s joining World War I. Neither Wilson nor British officials revealed to the American and British people that the ship was carrying thousands of boxes of shells, cartridges and other ammunition, in effect using civilians as human shields for a weapon shipment.

In the summer of 1941, as Japan continued to expand into resource, oil and market-rich Indochina to support its own industrial development, the United States and Britain imposed economic sanctions on the nation. The Japanese Prime Minister negotiated to prevent war with the United States. But by October, a military general had come into power, and decided to attack US military installations throughout the Pacific, including Pearl Harbor. There is historical evidence that President Franklin Roosevelt sought to provoke a Japanese attack in order to justify American entrance into World War II. He was unprepared only for the scope of the destruction on December 7.

By April 1961, again seeking control of Cuba, the CIA, with support from presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, was ready to carry out a plan to oust Fidel Castro. The CIA organized and funded 1,500 Cuban exiles to conduct the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which failed after the plan became known publicly, Kennedy withdrew US support, and the expected internal Cuban revolt failed to occur.

And in August 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to allow President Lyndon Johnson broad retaliatory power for alleged torpedo attacks on two US destroyers stationed in the gulf. There was no damage to the ships and later, investigators learned there had been no attack, although the CIA had been attacking North Vietnamese coastal targets, and the destroyers had been in Vietnamese territorial waters conducting spy missions, two actions which could provoke and justify Vietnamese retaliation.

In other words, Bush and members of his administration may very well have known of imminent terrorist hijackings, and failed to prevent those hijackings in order to justify creating a ring of American military bases to ensure US control of Caspian Sea oil reserves, long a priority for American oil and gas corporations. In choosing such a profit-over-people course, Bush would have been following a Presidential precedent set and re-set for decades to ensure US control of raw materials, cheap labor and expanded markets around the world. Like Roosevelt, Bush may have been unprepared only for the scope of the destruction.


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