Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Redirection

/ redirecting chickens so that they can eventually come home to roost /
Seymour Hersh's latest story from the Middle East, is an astonishing account of a New Great Game, played by power-drunk megalomaniacs on the backs of nutjobs, the end result (the ultimate goal perhaps?) being the destabilization of the whole Middle East and most of the Islamic World. In short it tells the story of an effort led by Dick Cheney and orchestrated by former Iran-Contra stars, to destabilize Iran by fomenting a large scale Sunni- Shia conflict throughout the region. In this scheme the US funds indirectly, through Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, various radical Sunni fundamentalist groups with ties to Al-Qaeda.

Or as Tom Engelhardt summarizes the story more extensively:
...Perhaps two years ago, an "informal" meeting of "veterans" of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal -- holding positions in the Bush administration -- was convened by Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams. Discussed were the "lessons learned" from that labyrinthine, secret, and illegal arms-for-money-for-arms deal involving the Israelis, the Iranians, the Saudis, and the Contras of Nicaragua, among others -- and meant to evade the Boland Amendment, a congressionally passed attempt to outlaw Reagan administration assistance to the anti-communist Contras. In terms of getting around Congress, the Iran-Contra vets concluded, the complex operation had been a success -- and would have worked far better if the CIA and the military had been kept out of the loop and the whole thing had been run out of the Vice President's office.

Subsequently, some of those conspirators, once again with the financial support and help of the Saudis (and probably the Israelis and the Brits), began running a similar operation, aimed at avoiding congressional scrutiny or public accountability of any sort, out of Vice President Cheney's office. They dipped into "black pools of money," possibly stolen from the billions of Iraqi oil dollars that have never been accounted for since the American occupation began. Some of these funds, as well as Saudi ones, were evidently funneled through the embattled, Sunni-dominated Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to the sort of Sunni jihadi groups ("some sympathetic to al-Qaeda") whose members might normally fear ending up in Guantanamo and to a group, or groups, associated with the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

All of this was being done as part of a "sea change" in the Bush administration's Middle Eastern policies aimed at rallying friendly Sunni regimes against Shiite Iran, as well as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Syrian government -- and launching secret operations to undermine, roll back, or destroy all of the above. Despite the fact that the Bush administration is officially at war with Sunni extremism in Iraq (and in the more general Global War on Terror), despite its support for the largely Shiite government, allied to Iran, that it has brought to power in Iraq, and despite its dislike for the Sunni-Shiite civil war in that country, some of its top officials may be covertly encouraging a far greater Sunni-Shiite rift in the region.

This is the stuff of spy-thrillers and conspiracies, one might say, but then again this was reported by Seymour Hersh (see also his interview on Democracy Now), so it's more like the stuff of nightmares. And as Engelhardt points out, amazingly, it's not even a big issue in the media, American or otherwise - and it has led to a stunning absence of calls for investigation.