William Beeman has generously allowed us to share these articles with you.Also see http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Anthropology/Beeman.html

It's time for Powell to resign
Forced to do the bidding of Caligula-quoting hawks, Secretary of State Colin Powell should salvage his honor and -- like his predecessor Cyrus Vance -- make a principled exit

By William O. Beeman


March 6, 2003  |  Colin Powell should resign -- now, with honor. 

I was the last of two persons to see President Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in his office before he resigned over the Carter administration's handling of American affairs in the wake of the Iranian revolution in 1978-79. Vance was a man of principle, caught in the gears of an internal ideological struggle in the White House. 

It may now be time for Secretary of State Colin Powell to consider resigning for much the same reasons. 

My companion and I, both Middle East experts, had been called to consult with Vance concerning the disastrous hostage-rescue mission that had grounded American helicopters in the Iranian desert. Vance had been on holiday when the decision to proceed was made in a meeting of the National Security Council, spearheaded by hawkish Cold Warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski (who, ironically, is a voice of caution in the current debate about war with Iraq). Vance asked our opinion of the mission and how it had affected American-Iranian relations, and we both agreed that it had been an ill-conceived, unmitigated disaster that would set back the release of the hostages for a very long time. In fact, they would remain 444 days in captivity. 

Vance lowered his head as we talked, shook it from side to side, and said again and again, "I know! I know!" 

News of his resignation reached me an hour or so later. I was sad for Vance, but proud of his decision to stick by his convictions. 

Another resignation that made me proud was that of career diplomat John Brady Kiesling from the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, which was recently made public. His resignation letter is worth quoting: 

"The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security." 

Kiesling later asks: "Has oderint dum metuant really become our motto?" 

This phrase, now quoted regularly among the most militant denizens in the White House, means, "Let them hate us so long as they fear us." It was penned by Lucius Accius, the Roman poet (170 B.C.), and was said to be a favorite phrase of the emperor Caligula. 

It is no secret that Colin Powell is at odds with the group that Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and others have called the "ideologues" in the White House. These consist of Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton. Bolton was reportedly forced on Powell against his will. 

Espousing a pragmatic view favoring diplomacy over violence are Powell and the "uniformed military," consisting of the generals and field commanders. 

Powell, a military man himself who never supported "regime change" in the first Gulf War, finds himself in a bureaucratic hammerlock. His supporters are all under the command of people with whom he appears to have serious disagreements. At the same time, the hawkish Bolton sits in Powell's office undermining his philosophy. 

Ever the good soldier, Secretary Powell was compelled to squander his reputation for honesty and forthright dealing in a presentation before the United Nations fraught with questionable information and half-formulated conclusions. His credibility was used to serve people with whom he has a basic disagreement. The joy with which his speech was greeted by militants in the White House and right-wing Republicans had as much to do with his perceived "conversion" to their side as it did with the content of the speech. 

Having done the bidding of the White House warriors, Powell has now been sidelined. He was sent to East Asia, and the public did not hear from him for several days. He emerged on March 5 to complain in a speech at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Strategic and International Studies that the Iraqi government moves to disarm were "too little too late." However, he showed that he was still not committed to war, saying, "If Iraq complies and disarms even at this late hour, it is possible to avoid war." 

I fear that Secretary Powell has been used as badly as Cyrus Vance was used by Brzezinski. Kiesling, the career diplomat in the Athens embassy, has shown his boss the way. It's time for Powell to show his true mettle and leave the fray while his honor is still relatively intact. 

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About the writer
Pacific News Service contributor William O.Beeman teaches anthropology, and is director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. He has lived and conducted research in the region for more than 30 years. 

Regime Change, Literally - Jordan's King May Rule Post-War Iraq
Commentary, William O. Beeman,
Pacific News Service, Feb 19, 2003

A recently revealed document suggests that until recently, regime change in Iraq was considered not as a U.S. security issue, but as an Israeli one. PNS commentator William O. Beeman looks at the ill-advised plan. 

In September 2002, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly suggested that a post-war Iraq be unified with Jordan into a "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Iraq." The story was dismissed by many Middle East experts as a wild rumor. However, the rumor has surfaced again, and it is given new credence by the revelation of a document written in 1996 by Bush White House policy makers now associated with Wolfowitz and Cheney.

The possibility that Iraq could be ruled by the Royal Family of Jordan in the future gives new meaning to the frequently used term "regime change."

It is admittedly impossible to determine whether the Bush administration will ever adopt this improbable scheme, but the fact that it is seriously discussed in the corridors of power in Washington must make thoughtful Americans seriously question the competence of those conducting the war effort.

In 1996, incoming Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu solicited foreign policy advice for his government from a group of U.S. policy-makers. The document, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," recommended the incoming prime minister make a clean break with the past. The group saw Syria as the principal threat to Israel. The policy-makers wrote: "Israel can shape its strategic environment in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq -- an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right -- as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

The authors of the report included Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Science Board; Douglas Feith, now U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy; and David Wurmser, author of "Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein," and director of Middle East Studies of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

The surprise in this report is the almost dismissive manner in which Saddam Hussein is mentioned. It is as if he poses little danger in comparison to the Syrian threat. The authors talk of his removal from power in an almost cavalier manner, and the idea that Iraq could be simply absorbed into Jordan is an offhand remark: "Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq..."

The plan to "redefine" Iraq into a Jordanian province was revised by Wolfowitz and Cheney last year. After the death of King Hussein in 1999, they suggested giving Iraq to Hussein's brother, Crown Prince Hassan, who had been deprived of the throne in Amman on Hussein's deathbed in favor of his son Abdullah. This was discussed in July 2002 in a meeting between Hassan and Iraqi opposition leaders. Since King Faisal II of Iraq, who was deposed in 1958, was a Hashemite and the second cousin of King Abdullah, this move was seen as having some vague potential legitimacy with the Arab leadership.

The Hashemite plan has numerous flaws. Most important, the Hashemites are a family rooted in what is now Saudi Arabia. They are descendents of the sharif of the holy city of Mecca, who was rewarded by the British for authorizing Arabs to fight their Muslim brethren in the Ottoman Empire in World War I by having his son made king of these two completely new nations, Jordan and Iraq. People in the region, even Jordanians, still consider them foreign interlopers. Apparently, the plan also paid no attention to the Kurds, Turkomen and Shiites of Iraq who would certainly reject rule by King Abdullah or Crown Prince Hassan completely, even if they were allowed autonomy or even separate states. Such a state would undoubtedly fail in a paroxysm of civil discord more dangerous than the current state of affairs.

But the most serious political problem with the Hashemite scheme is how wildly different it is from current strategies used to sell the Iraqi war to the world. Far from presenting Iraq's destruction as a mere ploy in a strategy to weaken Syria, the White House team members now present Saddam Hussein as the chief evil in the region. White House rhetoric noticeably downplays those things that will not play well with the American public: nation-building, the creation of new monarchical rule instead of democratic institutions in the region and the fact that Israel reaps the primary advantages from Iraq's elimination.

The Bush administration has never revealed or discussed the 1996 document. Little wonder -- consideration of American interests in the region were totally left out of it and its subsequent manifestations. This poses the difficult question as to how seriously those questions are being considered today.

Beeman (William_beeman@brown.edu) teaches anthropology and is director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. He has lived and conducted research in the region for over 30 years.

Delenda est IraqóBush Calls for Iraqís Destruction, but Fails to Make His Case.

William O. Beeman

The Roman senator and orator, Cato the Elder (234-159 BCE), ended every speech with the phrase Delenda est Carthago! ìCarthage must be destroyed!î It seems that President Bush has adopted the same rhetorical strategy with regard to Iraq. 

President Bush made a number of provocative charges regarding Iraq in his State of the Union address. These charges included a renewal of the accusation that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. They were capped by a lurid doomsday scenarioóin Bushís words a ìday of horror like none we have ever knownîóin which the United States is painted as being under a bio-terrorist attack.

However, it is unlikely that these charges will convince anyone. They consist of a series of innuendos combined with old information, recycled from failed arguments advanced over the past year. Despite the rhetoric, Bushís charges remain unproved and speculative. They certainly do not amount to an emergency requiring all-out unilateral war.

In criminal trials there must be three elements to a prosecutorial case: means, motive and opportunity. Examined one by one, the Presidentís charges fail to meet this simple test.

With regard to means, President Bush has only been able to demonstrate the weakest circumstantial evidence.

His first claim of means is singularly insubstantial: ìThe British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.î Aside from the fact that this is undocumented and unconfirmed, it is clear from the Presidentís own statement that even if the accusation is true, the Iraqiís didnít actually obtain the uranium.

The second claim is that Saddam ìhas attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.î Americans have all seen Iraqi aluminum tubes on television. The Iraqis have made no attempt to hide them. Americans have also by now have heard dozens of nuclear experts testify that while they might be used for nuclear weapons production, they could also be used for a multitude of other industrial purposes. 

The other claims, particularly those involving chemical and biological weapons attacks against the United States are the purest speculation. It is no doubt aggravating that biological and chemical weapons that existed twelve years ago have not been found or accounted for, but this evidence is insubstantialóarguing from an absence of material rather than from its presence.

With regard to motive, the Presidentís case is even weaker. He paints the Iraqi leader as an evil individual on course to ìdominate, intimidate or attack.î However, beyond name calling, he has never given any plausible reason why Saddam would launch a first attack on the United States. The President also conveniently neglects to mention Americaís own complicity in directly aiding Saddamís earlier aggression against Iranóa complicity that encouraged Saddam to proceed with his invasion of Kuwait.

One speculation regarding motive ties Saddam to the terrorists who perpetrated the tragedy of September 11, 2001. In his address President Bush stooped to fear mongering by invoking this image: ìimagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plansóthis time armed by Saddam Hussein.î However, there is no proven connection between the September 11 attackers and Saddam Hussein, despite fantastic efforts on the part of U.S. intelligence agencies to find such a link. The best the President could do was to state that Saddam ìaids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida.î Since there is no ìmembershipî criterion for al-Qaida, this claim could include anyone who claims sympathy with the aims of Osama bin Laden. 

Finally, the President makes no case at all for opportunity. The best he can do is to point out that ìchemical agents and lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained.î This is surely an indictment of the weakness of the United States as the worldís sole superpower rather than Saddam Hussein. 

Catoís exhortations had an effect. In his day, Carthage had endured two Punic Wars and was no longer a danger to Rome. In the Third Punic War, Rome destroyed it anyway, and sowed the land with salt. In the words of historian Richard Hooker, the Roman Army ìwent from house to house slaughtering the inhabitants in what is perhaps the greatest systematic execution of non-combatants before World War II.î Delenda est Iraq!

William O. Beeman is an anthropologist and Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. He has lived and conducted research in the Middle East for over 30 years.

General Powellís al-Qaida-Iraq Connection is Tenuous at Best

William O. Beeman

The Bush administration wants above all to prove a connection between the Al-Qaida terrorist network and Saddam Hussein. Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to do just that in his argument before the United Nations on February 5. Despite his claim that his words were based on ìsolid sources,î Mr. Powellís argument was specious and based on deceptive rhetoric. 

Mr. Powell stated ìIraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi, an collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida lieutenants.î He further claimed, ìWhen our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqaqi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp. And this camp is located in northeastern Iraq.î

Proving the link between Mr. Al-Zarqawi and the Iraqi regime has thus far been impossible for the American Intelligence community, as reported widely in the U.S. and foreign press. 

Mr. Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, is a shadowy figure who has been associated with the assassination of Laurence Foley, an American diplomatic officer in Jordan last October. Mr. Zarqawiís alleged connection with the murder came through an intelligence break reported on February 6 by the New York Times involving a putative deputy of Mr. Al-Zarqawi. 

Mr. Al-Zarqawi is likely associated with Al-Qaida. He did visit Iraq, but only to be hospitalized in Baghdad for wounds suffered in Afghanistan in the fighting after September 11, 2001. Thus far no information has been revealed that would show that Mr. Al-Zarqawi ever met with Iraqi officials. 

The idea that Al-Zarqawi runs a ìterrorist networkî of his own or that he is the Number Three figure in Al-Qaida is hyperbole. There is no information available that shows that he is anything other than a foot soldier operating in connection with known al-Qaida operatives. The Bush administrationís hypothesis is essentially ìproof by proximity.î They claim that Al-Zarqawi had a group with whom he was operating, and that group could not be functioning in Baghdad without the complicity of Saddam Husseinís government. 

Washington officials also acknowledge that Al-Zarqawi had support from a member of the Qatari Royal family, Abdul Karim Al-Thani, who hosted him in Qatar itself. However, Washington officials do not claim that, therefore, the Qatari court is connected with Al-Qaidaóparticularly since the U.S. depends on Qatar to provide staging support for the U.S. Central Command. 

Even if Al-Zarqawi had been in touch with Iraqi officials, the idea that he is operating a terrorist training center in Northern Iraq is completely unproved. The training center does exist, and it does have connections to Al-Qaida, but it is run by a dissident Kurdish Islamic militant group, Ansar al-Islam. This group is utterly opposed to the Iraqi regime and has no connection to it. 

Thus all the pieces in Mr. Powellís accusationóAl-Zarqawi, Al-Ansar al-Islam, Al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime do exist, but the crucial connection between Saddam and Al-Zarqawi is based on supposition, and all the rhetoric in the world can not create a true link between them. 

It is worth asking why the White House is so desperate to link Al-Qaida to Saddam that they would resort to deception and lies. The reason may lie in the slipping U. S. support for the projected Iraqi war. When examined carefully, the Iraqi violations of U.N. resolution 1441 seem to amount to scurrying around to hide questionable vehicles, along with a few furtive phone calls wondering if inspectors will find something questionable in the facilities under scrutiny. The violations are so petty, so weak that it is hard to imagine sending 200,000 troops into Iraq to correct them.

Revenge is a powerful motivator, however. Americans are desperate to punish someone for the horrible September 11 tragedy. In their grief, they are primed to believe any tenuous accusation. A recent poll shows that more than 80% believe that Saddam was responsible. . 

However, the international community has been more measured in their judgment and more skeptical. 

The arrogance of the Bush White House should now be well known to most thinking Americans, but it is disappointing that one of our most trusted public officials would go before the United Nations and essentially lie about a matter so essential as this connection. Moreover, the Bush administration must be truly contemptuous of the world body, since the U.N delegates could have read about the tenuousness of the al-Zarqawi connection in The New York Times on February 2, just three days before Mr. Powell addressed them.


William O. Beeman teaches anthropology, and is Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. He has conducted research in the Middle East for more than 30 years.

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