The War Behind Closed Doors
February 21, 2003 6:51 AM   Subscribe

The War Behind Closed Doors PBS' newest "Frontline" focuses on what has been happening behind the scenes within the Bush administration during the buildup to war against Iraq. Wolfowitz is seen as supporting a policy of US preemptive wars starting in 1992 and urging a US invasion of Iraq just four days after 9/11, Richard Perle says that "it was understood that Iraq had to be dealt with" in the earliest days of the Bush presidential campaign, and Colin Powell is shown as the only reason the US sought UN approval at all.
posted by insomnia_lj (17 comments total)
This was pretty much public knowledge, even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. On September 20, 2001, CNN reported that there was an internal dispute between the State Department (i.e., Powell) and the Pentagon (i.e., Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz) over Iraq:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and others, on the other hand, are pushing to broaden this campaign in the short term, to target so-called state sponsors of terrorism like Iraq, State Department officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN.

In fact, one official described the debate over Iraq as the "most contentious issue in inter-agency discussions."

Obviously Powell's cool head prevailed, which is a good thing. The U.S. did wait, and did work with the U.N., culminating in Resolution 1441. What the U.N. does now is really the key question.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:01 AM on February 21, 2003

The streak of 7 consecutive non-war related FPPs ends. Is that a record?
posted by psmealey at 7:31 AM on February 21, 2003

I notice that your PBS link has it's own discussion forum. Thanks for bring it over here. We've only talked about this exact issue seven or eight times.

"This was pretty much public knowledge"

posted by y6y6y6 at 7:37 AM on February 21, 2003

The PBS "Timeline" has some glaring, bizarre omissions such as the lack of mention of "Rebuilding America's Defenses" - the culimination Wolfowitz's 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance" "-- a set of guidelines on America's military posture toward the world. The draft said that containment was an old idea, a relic of the cold war. It advocated that America should maintain military strength beyond challenge and use it to preempt provocations from rogue states with weapons of mass destruction. And it stated that, if necessary, the U.S. should be prepared to act alone...." (PBS)

"...the United States has for decades sought to play a more
permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force
presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
[from "Rebuilding America's Defenses"]

Here's George W. Bush's new security strategy

Strange, too, that PBS didn't notice this:

US Undersecretary of State John Bolton has recenly stated that Iran, Syria and North Korea are next

The PBS Frontline piece bills the story as news. 6 month old stale "news", I'd say: the alternative press has been all over this for over half a year.

"Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP, father of the House of Commons and one of the leading rebel voices against war with Iraq, said: 'This is garbage from right-wing think-tanks stuffed with chicken-hawks -- men who have never seen the horror of war but are in love with the idea of war. Men like Cheney, who were draft-dodgers in the Vietnam war. ....This is a blueprint for US world domination -- a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world"..." [From The Sunday Herald, Sept. 15th 2002, "A SECRET blueprint for US global domination...." But this blueprint was not at all "secret"! It is the "Rebuilding America's Defenses" document cited above. And the "fantasist" charactorization of the plan is probably ill informed. ]
posted by troutfishing at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2003

In case I haven't bludgeoned home the point:

the "Behind closed doors" aspect of the Bush Adm. policies, as described by PBS? - horse shit. The Bush Adm. has been quite upfront about it's plans.
posted by troutfishing at 8:12 AM on February 21, 2003

Looks like the smoking gun has been found ... in the hands of chicken hawks.
Great post troutfishing!
Those who support all things Duhbya please take the time to read the links so generously provided by troutfishing and !think!
This is much too important an issue for the future of the world our children will have to live in to just blather on with mindless RNC blast fax talking points.
posted by nofundy at 8:24 AM on February 21, 2003

a little more on israels, oooopps, i mean the United States new defense policy .
posted by specialk420 at 9:58 AM on February 21, 2003

Troutfishing - Actually, the Frontline episode does indeed mention both George Bush's security strategy and "Rebuilding America's Defenses". Unfortunately, they aren't linked to on the website, at least not yet. Guess you could always ask 'em where to find the documents they referenced and if they could please link to them from their site, which appears to still be under construction...
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:15 AM on February 21, 2003

I thought it was a really informative show. I dont have an intricate knowledge of the political machine behind the presidency nor do I have the patience to wade through pages and pages of resolutions, doctrines, manifestos, and whatnot, but there is fascinating info there, and I'm grateful to PBS for showing it in a clear, straightforward manner.

I only wish they would throw a few breaks in there so I could run to the bathroom without missing anything!
posted by ejoey at 10:15 AM on February 21, 2003

looks like they are putting the entire show on the web next tuesday. FRONTLINE and Bill Moyers NOW are two of the very few reasons to own a TV these days.
posted by specialk420 at 12:08 PM on February 21, 2003

Meanwhile, US falls out with Iraqi opposition.
posted by homunculus at 1:46 PM on February 21, 2003

insomnia_lj - I didn't see the episode. I was just working off their website timeline, which didn't mention "Rebuilding...". I'm fond of Frontline and am very happy to see this story given more publicity. Frontline certainly is a quality production.......I was just a little annoyed because the US alternative media has been clamouring about this for months. But, once again, I'm glad Frontline is giving this story the exposure it deserves.
posted by troutfishing at 2:12 PM on February 21, 2003

Another possible motivation which Frontline didn't touch on: When U.S. Foreign Policy Meets Biblical Prophecy.
posted by homunculus at 3:01 PM on February 21, 2003

Troutfishing - Figured that you didn't see it, but thought you would like to know that the material was at least somewhat mentioned.

What makes this story significant to me is that Frontline aren't really "alternative media", at least not anymore. They are very mainstream, and their coverage of these kinds of issues matter. Politicians watch Frontline... they don't, however, read alternative media.

The documentary, though perhaps more sympathetic to the hawks than they deserve, at least gives these issues serious attention and media legitimacy.

The question Frontline ultimately poses is whether the US should engage in new policy of unilateral, unprovoked wars, even if those wars could theoretically be seen to be in our best interest. I hope most people would say no to that...
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:54 PM on February 21, 2003

But they didn't ask whether pursuing a policy of preemptive war would impede the war on terrorism which was now being used to justify the policy of preemption. They let it slide, though maybe it would have stretched the scope of the show too far. But considering the implications of recent threats, this should be a serious question.
posted by homunculus at 10:24 PM on February 21, 2003

This week's NOW has an interview with Seymour Hersh on Pakistan. Here is the transcript.
posted by homunculus at 11:06 PM on February 21, 2003

Here is the article on the airlift discussed in the Hersh interview, BTW. Crazy story.

And now Judicial Watch is taking a closer look at Pakistan's antics.
posted by homunculus at 10:51 AM on February 22, 2003

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