Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Iraq and Afghanistan wars; where's the accountability?
Paul Craig Roberts is an economist and a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the "Father of Reaganomics". He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, in Washington, DC. Joining us now from Florida is Paul Craig Roberts. He was an assistant secretary of the Treasury Department under the Reagan administration. He was an associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. Welcome, Mr. Roberts. When President Obama decided not to prosecute, there were obviously a lot of considerations, both domestic politics and otherwise. But certainly one of the critical pieces of it, if you're going to prosecute, it seems to me that you start with the question of was the Iraq war illegal, was international law violated. And if in fact the Iraq war was waged on deliberate misinformation, it's hard to think of a crime that would be more serious than that. But if Obama were to open that can of worms that the Iraq war is illegal, then the continued occupation of Iraq's illegal, and it puts the entire US foreign policy in the region in a completely different light. So speak about President Obama, his view of the world as articulated in the campaign, this decision not to prosecute, and essentially not just continuing Bush policy in Iraq, but now we can see, more or less, a Bush policy in Afghanistan.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, ECONOMIST AND COLUMNIST: Yes. Well, I can't say why he made the decision he made. All I can say is that the consequence is that we now have a precedent that neither the president nor the vice president are subject to law, they're outside the law, they can violate the law with impunity. This is a [inaudible] development. I can't think of anything worse to happen to the United States than to establish legally that the rulers are not subject to law. The entire history of liberty in the Anglo-American world, it was to tie the rulers down and make them subject to law, to bring the king under the law. So now we've reversed this thousand-year struggle and we've made the rulers unaccountable to law. This is a terrible thing. I'm sure there are all kinds of political and other arguments made, all sorts of interest groups, but this is the outcome. But there was really no discussion of this. And what this shows is that the American people, the political people, the legal professions, that what was really at stake—they had no idea what was really at stake. And to say that some silly war, which actually probably was an act of treason, since it was apparently based on deception—. You know, the British right now are holding these inquiries. They already know that it was based on deception, and they're trying to find out how they can prevent that from happening in the future.
JAY: Part of what's come out early in the inquiry is that it was very clear that Blair and Bush had decided to invade Iraq as early, I believe, as 2002, and the idea that weapons of mass destruction would be more a rationale than an actual reason was clear as far back as 2002. But what do you make of the lack of American media coverage of the British inquiry?
ROBERTS: Well, what does the American media cover? If you're talking about the newspapers and the television, they don't cover anything. So we don't want the people to know that the war was contrived and that some other agenda was being served that we still have not been told. You know, we don't really know—the government's never told us why they invaded Iraq. They lied to us and said, oh, he has weapons of mass destruction, and yet the record is clear that the government [inaudible] did not have these weapons. This is a known fact now. We still don't know why they did it, and they're not going to tell us. And so probably if Obama was trying to gin up the war in Afghanistan, he doesn't want a lot of news coverage of the British inquiry into how Blair deceived his own cabinet in order to do Bush's bidding and provide cover for Bush's illegal war in Iraq.
JAY: How did you respond to President Obama's speech the other night on Afghanistan?
ROBERTS: Well, I didn't bother to listen to it. I mean, I already knew what he was going to do. [inaudible] interesting thing, because here we have millions of Americans, on that very day, lost their health insurance subsidies from COBRA [Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985]. So all of a sudden, millions of Americans, no health coverage that day. Or 24 hours before, The Detroit Free Press published a 127-page supplement to the newspaper, listing all of the metro area foreclosures. In Michigan, 48 percent of the mortgages exceed the value of the homes. And yet Obama thinks we have money to escalate an eight-year-old war that serves no American purpose. You know, it's like the British ambassador Craig Murray said: what the war is about is protecting the pipeline route that the Americans wanted through Afghanistan so they could get the Central Asian gas out without it passing through Iran and Russia. So is this why we should be in Afghanistan? And how do we pay for this? Well, just the other day, Obie, the Democrat chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obie, says, "Oh, we're going to put an additional progressive income tax on every American earning more than $30,000 a year." So I call this trickle-up economics, where you tax the little guy and give it to [inaudible] companies and to the oil companies or the energy companies who would benefit from the pipeline.
JAY: But what do you make of the administration's argument that, one, al-Qaeda's a threat, a vital national security threat, and more than that—?
ROBERTS: That's a total lie.
JAY: And the other piece of it is the issue of dissolution of Pakistan. So what do you make of all that?
ROBERTS: Pakistan is falling apart because we forced our puppet government to attack its own people. All this stuff about al-Qaeda is a lie. It's a hoax.
JAY: Why? Why do you say so?
ROBERTS: Because it doesn't exist in any way that it means anything to us.
JAY: But what's the evidence for that? Because—.
ROBERTS: But what's the evidence that it means anything?
JAY: Well, the evidence—they say the evidence is 9/11, the attacks on the US embassies, and so on. There's certainly been attacks in Europe.
ROBERTS: Oh, you mean they object to our aggressive policies and our hegemony in their own lands. And if this organization exists, it's nothing to do with a state. It's nothing to do with Taliban. The Taliban is not al-Qaeda. Pakistan is not al-Qaeda. The whole thing is some kind of a hoax. It's an excuse.
JAY: So what's the—so the real objective is pipelines.
ROBERTS: [inaudible] the 9/11 Commission report. We've had the legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission, who apparently drafted the thing, he's written a book and said, you know, the military lied to us. People lied to us who were supposed to be helping us. We've had both cochairmen of the commission say the same thing. The 9/11 truth movement is very large. There are very many very distinguished, intelligent people—architects, engineers, scientists—and they point out all kinds of problems with this report. There's [inaudible] never been an examination. There was a political commission that was denied most of the relevant testimony and information according to their own chairman and legal counsel, and they produced a political document. We don't know what happened. I mean, people can say, "Oh, we believe this because the government did it," but it's the same government that told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda connections when we know for a fact he didn't.