From Reuters:

Crocker has met his Iranian
counterpart in Baghdad three times to discuss U.S. concerns that Iran
is fuelling violence in Iraq, despite Tehran’s public support for
Iraq’s government.

“Based on what I see on the ground,
I think they are seeking a state that they can, by one means or
another, control, weakened to the point that Tehran can set its
agenda,” he said.

Tehran was seeking “greater
influence, greater pressure on the government”, said the veteran
diplomat, a fluent Arabic speaker who has spent most of his career in
the Middle East.

This is of course precisely what
the Bush Administration is doing in Iraq: “seeking a state that they
can, by one means or another, control, weakened to the point that
[Washington] can set its agenda.” All the evidence – every bit of it –
points to this conclusion. No other conclusion makes even a modicum of
sense out of the policies pursued by Bush and his minions in Iraq. From
the very beginning, these policies – not securing the capital (or the
vast caches of arms that dotted the country), disbanding the army,
outlawing and pauperizing the skilled professionals who had been forced
to join the Baath Party in order to work, “losing” 190,000 weapons,
arming and supporting sectarian factions at daggers drawn with one
another, etc. – all seemed aimed at destabilizing Iraq, driving it into
the ground, making it utterly dependent on the conquerors. In other
words, doing exactly what Crocker now accuses of Iran of trying to do.

But we musn’t think that Crocker
and his masters are being completely cynical in their mirror-image
charges against Iran. For what we doubtless have here, in part,  is a classic case
of projection: attributing one’s own psychologically unacceptable
desires to someone else. This kind of projection is a hallmark of all
tyrannical and authoritarian regimes. It is, in some ways, a form of
self-hypnosis, whereby tyrants and their minions – and very often, the
people they rule – transcend the reality of their policies and
sugarcoat the cynical, bestial ambitions behind them with
self-regarding fantasies. Or to resort to the vernacular, they begin to
believe their own bullshit.

For example, Hitler doubtless
believed that “the Jews” were trying to “destroy the German nation” –
because that is what he wanted to do to the Jews. This fantasy
projection allowed him to sugarcoat his bestial ambitions as a “defense
of the Volk,” a struggle for survival in which any measure whatsoever
was justified. Stalin was able to convince himself that he (and by
extention, the Revolution) was beset by vast conspiracies among his
oldest and most faithful minions – conspiracies which “justified”
far-reaching purges that destroyed multitudes – because he himself had
spent a lifetime conducting such conspiracies. And he would have
schemed and plotted to strike down the Boss and take his place; so he
imputed his own bestial ambitions and devious practices to others.
That’s what he’d do; so obviously that’s what they’re doing. (And he
might have been right, in a miniscule number of cases; he certainly
wasn’t surrounded by choirboys.)

Similarly, the Bushists believe
Tehran is fomenting violence in order to dominate Iraq – because that’s
what the Bushists would do, and are doing, themselves. And perhaps they
too are right, to some miniscule and as yet wholly unproven degree;
after all, Middle Eastern governments aren’t full of choirboys either.
It would be incredible if Iran were not trying to make hay out of the
Bush-created hell in Iraq. But they are almost certainly not acting out
the Bushist fantasy – i.e., arming al Qaeda and other factions in an
effort to weaken an Iraqi government which is already controlled by
parties bound tightly to Tehran.

No doubt one reason that Iran seeks
to influence Iraq’s government is because almost a million Iranians
were killed in a savage war with Iraq which ended less than 20 years ago – a war in
which the United States government (including many people now in power today) backed the Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein. Tehran
would certainly like to see a friendly government in Baghdad, preferably one not backed up by the same nation that helped Iraq invade Iran. Neither of these
objectives would be furthered by destabilizing the Iranian-linked
parties already in charge in Iraq. But the Bush Administration can only
see through the prism of their own ambitions: if they are fuelling
violence in order to dominate a weak Iraq, why then, the Iranians must
be doing so too.

Projection is one of the chief
means by which we “justify” actions and desires that would otherwise be
intolerable to our self-image. And the more exalted the self-image –
indispensible leader of the world proletariat, mystical embodiment of
the Volk, denizen of the “shining city on the hill,” a divinely-blessed
nation which has never and can never willingly do evil – then the more
virulent the projection, and the more violent the policies based upon
it. Even when these polices are indeed conceived in a wide-awake
cynicism – “I want that power (that oil, that office, that money, that
throne, etc.) and I’ll do whatever I can to get it” – it is invariably
overwhelmed by the fantasy-based “justifications” and projections
required to keep a guilty psyche from disintegrating under the
unbearable reality of what the person has done (or countenanced). 

The Bushist use of torture is a
similar case. As with aggressive war, you and I would view torture as
an unmitigated evil, a thing of darkness that can only produce more
evil. But to the Bushists (and their many bootlicking sycophants in the
media, and their more nuanced apologists in the think-tank class),
torture is a “necessary” evil, part of working “the dark side, if
you will,” as Dick Cheney said only days after 9/11.  “Sure, we don’t
like it, but we’ve got to do it.” In this, one can hear echoes of
Heinrich Himmler’s solicitude for the noble Nazi cadres who took upon
themselves the heavy, secret burden of carrying out the unpleasant but
“necessary” task of the Holocaust: working “the dark side, if you
will,” to protect national security.

The torture regimen set up by the
Bush Administration – and approved by the president himself – is based
to a great extent on techniques used by the KGB in its notorious
dungeons such as the Lubyanka. But as many observers have pointed out,
the KGB was not interested in producing actionable intelligence data
but in eliciting confessions. Some have accused the Bush Administration
of incompetence in setting up this KGB-USA system; it’s “not working,”
the critics say, because it does not and cannot produce accurate
intelligence. But of course, the system is working exactly as the
Administration intended: it was set up in order to produce confessions
that would conform to the Bush Faction’s needs and projections. The
truth or untruth of what they say is largely irrelevant; what matters
is that they “confirm” the already-established scenario. This in turn
“justifies” the torture that Bush and his minions greatly desire to
inflict – for bestial reasons which they can never
acknowledge, even to themselves. Or especially to themselves.

Yes, there are many realpolitik
reasons for the Bush Regime’s war crime in Iraq and its planned war
crime for Iran. And there is much knowing cynicism, knowing lies,
knowing hypocrisy, in the tactics that the Bushists use to advance
their criminal agenda. But it is almost certain that when these
wretched specimens look in the mirror, they see nothing but good people
working hard to protect our national security (which they identify with
their own narrow, elite interests) against evildoers bent on our
destruction. They can no longer see the reality in the glass – the
blood dribbling from their lips, the flecks of bomb-blown viscera
spattered across their faces, the sunken eyes of men and women
complicit in mass murder and epic rapine. They project their lost
humanity into the mirror, and project their present abominations onto

In any case, beyond all
psychological and metaphysical musings, we can take away this one,
concrete, usuable rule of thumb: if you ever want to know what the Bush
Regime is up to, just look at the accusations they level at their
opponents, and there you will find your answer.


I covered some of the details of the Bush Administration’s arming and support of violent groups in Iraq in Section III of this report, Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War in Iraq, some of which is excerpted below:

As Sy Hersh has reported (“The Coming Wars,”
New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2005), after his re-election in 2004, George W.
Bush signed a series of secret presidential directives that authorized
the Pentagon to run virtually unrestricted covert operations, including
a reprise of the American-backed, American-trained death squads
employed by authoritarian regimes in Central and South America during
the Reagan Administration, where so many of the Bush faction cut their
teeth – and made their bones.

you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” a former
high-level intelligence official said to Hersh. “We founded them and we
financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we
want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A Pentagon
insider added: “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.” Another
role model for the expanded dirty war cited by Pentagon sources, said
Hersh, was Britain’s brutal repression of the Mau Mau in Kenya during
the 1950s, when British forces set up concentration camps, created
their own terrorist groups to confuse and discredit the insurgency, and
killed thousands of innocent civilians in quashing the uprising.

formal greenlighting of the death-squad option built upon an already
securely-established base, part of a larger effort to turn the world
into a “global free-fire zone” for covert operatives, as one top
Pentagon official told Hersh. For example, in November 2002 a Pentagon plan to infiltrate terrorist groups and
“stimulate” them into action was uncovered by William Arkin, then
writing for the Los Angeles Times. The new unit, the “Proactive,
Pre-emptive Operations Group,” was described in the Pentagon documents
as “a super-Intelligence Support Activity” that brings “together CIA
and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence and cover
and deception.”

Later, in August 2004, then deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz appeared before Congress to ask for $500 million to arm and train non-governmental “local militias” to
serve as U.S. proxies for “counter-insurgency and “counterterrorist”
operations in “ungoverned areas” and hot spots around the world, Agence
France Presse (and virtually no one else) reported at the time. These
hired paramilitaries were to be employed in what Wolfowitz called an
“arc of crisis” that just happened to stretch across the oil-bearing
lands and strategic pipeline routes of Central Asia, the Middle East,
Africa and South America.

then, the Bush Administration had already begun laying the groundwork
for an expanded covert war in the hot spot of Iraq.  In November 2003,
it created a “commando squad” drawn from the sectarian militias of five
major Iraqi factions, as the Washington Post reported that year.
Armed, funded and trained by the American occupation forces, and
supplied with a “state-of-the-art command, control and communications
center” from the Pentagon, the new Iraqi commandos were loosed on the then-nascent Iraqi insurgency
– despite the very prescient fears of some U.S. officials “that various
Sunni or Shiite factions could eventually use the service to secretly
undermine their political competitors,” as the Post noted.

indeed, in early 2005 – not long after Bush’s directives loosed the
“Salvador Option” on Iraq – the tide of death-squad activity began its long and bloody rise
to the tsunami-like levels we see today. Ironically, the first big
spike of mass torture-murders, chiefly in Sunni areas at the time, coincided with “Operation Lightning,”
a much ballyhooed effort by American and Iraqi forces to “secure”
Baghdad. The operation featured a mass influx of extra troops into the
capital; dividing the city into manageable sectors, then working
through them one by one; imposing hundreds of checkpoints to lock down
all insurgent movements; and establishing a 24-hour presence of
security and military forces in troubled neighborhoods, the Associated
Press reported in May 2005. In other words, it was almost exactly the
same plan now being offered as Bush’s “New Way Forward,” the
controversial “surge.”

the “Lightning” fizzled in a matter of weeks, and the death squads grew
even bolder. Brazen daylight raids by “men dressed in uniforms” of
Iraqi police or Iraqi commandos or other Iraqi security agencies swept
up dozens of victims at a time. For months, U.S. “advisers” to Iraqi
security agencies – including veterans of the original “Salvador
Option” – insisted that these were Sunni insurgents in stolen threads,
although many of the victims were Sunni civilians. Later, the line was
changed: the chief culprits were now “rogue elements” of the various
sectarian militias that had “infiltrated” Iraq’s institutions.

But as investigative reporter Max Fuller has pointed out in his detailed examination of
information buried in reams of mainstream news stories and public
Pentagon documents, the vast majority of atrocities then attributed to
“rogue” Shiite and Sunni militias were in fact the work of
government-controlled commandos and “special forces,” trained by
Americans, “advised” by Americans and run largely by former CIA assets.
As Fuller puts it: “If there are militias in the Ministry of Interior,
you can be sure that they are militias that stand to attention whenever
a U.S. colonel enters the room.” And perhaps a British lieutenant
colonel as well

the Anglo-American coalition so deeply embedded in dirty war –
infiltrating terrorist groups, “stimulating” them into action,”
protecting “crown jewel” double-agents no matter what the cost, “riding
with the bad boys,” greenlighting the “Salvador Option” – it is simply
impossible to determine the genuine origin of almost any particular
terrorist outrage or death squad atrocity in Iraq. All of these
operations take place in the shadow world, where terrorists are
sometimes government operatives and vice versa, and where security
agencies and terrorist groups interpenetrate in murky thickets of
collusion and duplicity. This moral chaos leaves “a kind of blot/To
mark the full-fraught man and best indued/With some suspicion,” as
Shakespeare’s Henry V says.

more, the “intelligence” churned out by this system is inevitably
tainted by the self-interest, mixed motives, fear and criminality of
those who provide it. The ineffectiveness of this approach can be seen
in the ever-increasing, many-sided civil war that is tearing Iraq
apart. If these covert operations really are intended to quell the
violence, they clearly have had the opposite effect. If they have some
other intention, the pious defenders of civilization – who approve
these activities with promotions, green lights and unlimited budgets –
aren’t telling.

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