Trump and New Imperialists Want a Pax Americana – The Last Interview of Ambassador Joe Wilson pt4/6

On Reality Asserts Itself, with Paul Jay:

Amb. Joe Wilson says that Trump’s targeting of Iran is a continuation of the neo-con’s striving to assert U.S. hegemony everywhere.

Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was outed as a CIA officer by VP Cheney’s office after Wison exposed lies that lead up to the Iraq War. The story was depicted in the movie “Fair Game”, Wilson was played by Sean Penn. Joe Wilson died Sept. 2019 PT (04/06)

Transcript

Paul Jay

Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself I’m Paul Jay. We’re continuing our discussion with Ambassador Joe Wilson. In an article he wrote for the Nation in March on March 3rd, 2003, titled Republic or Empire, Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote: “The underlying objective of this war, meaning the Iraq war, is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region, an installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations without firing of a single cruise missile. The administration has already established a massive footprint in the Gulf and Southwest Asia from which to project power. U.S. generals, admirals and diplomats have criss-crossed the region like modern day pro consoles, cajoling fragile governments to permit American access and operations from their territories.” He goes on “Nations in the region have contracted with the United States for their security umbrella. Will now, listen, when Washington tells them to tailor policies and curb anti-Western dissent, hegemony in the Arab nations of the Gulf has been achieved” further down, he writes “Then what’s the point of this new American imperialism? The neoconservatives with a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party, a party that traditionally eschewed foreign military adventures, want to go beyond expanding U.S. global influence to force revolutionary change on the region. American preeminence in the Gulf is necessary, but not sufficient for the hawks. Nothing short of conquest, occupation and imposition of hand-picked leaders on a vanquished population will suffice. Iraq is the linchpin for this broader assault on the region. The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our world view are implanted throughout the region. A breathtakingly ambitious undertaking smacking of hubris in the extreme. Arabs who complain about American supported anti-democratic regimes today will find us in even more direct control tomorrow. 

Joe Wilson

Thank you very much. I’d forgotten how smart I was in those days. How prescient. I mean, I think if you look at the world today, it’s just the extension of that. It’s big footing. Everybody, with the exception that now people are tired of having an American boot on their neck .And I think you’re starting to see that blowback. We’ve lost our political authority. We’ve lost our international moral authority. The extent to which we had it and again, we can argue about American hubris in the past. But when we came out of the Gulf War, we had a lot of moral authority in the world. And we have just squandered that with our arrogance and with our with our big footing of countries around the world. And it’s. Yeah.

Paul Jay

The title of that articles was,” Republic or Empire.” But the argument that’s made, and not only by Republicans but by the hawkish Democrats as well, that this is actually good for Americans. The empire is good for Americans. As you say, having your American foot on other people’s necks is good for the American people. They really do sell it that way rather overtly. 

Joe Wilson

Yeah. The people who make that argument are thumb suckers who live in Washington. They’re basically Washington hacks. They don’t know a lot about the outside world. Ask these neo conservatives how much time they’ve spent outside the United States, how much sign they’ve really spent in other cultures. And you’ll find that, you know, a two week trip to Florence, Italy, is the extent of their international exposure. Or a couple of weeks in Israel or a couple of weeks here, a couple of weeks there. Their exposure to other cultures is really limited.  

Paul Jay

They don’t even know Canada. The argument is this kind of global hegemony, this military might, a budget that’s bigger than essentially the rest of the world combined, keeps Americans safe andnecessary now.

Joe Wilson

It doesn’t. It makes us it makes us much more vulnerable now. It will because, first of all,it just inspires other people to hate us. Nobody wants. The way I like to tell people, how would you like it if the Iranians were sitting right outside of Washington, D.C., or we’re sitting on the Canadian border just north of Niagara Falls? We wouldn’t like that at all. We were as Americans, we would resist and –My God, the world is replete with invading armies who have met small but  devoted resistance forces who have thrown them out. Why should we think this is any different? And again, these decisions are being made by people who really don’t. And it’s not just the neo conservatives. As I said, the table around which we debate issues of war and peace now is tilted in favor of pro-war elements. So when you go into a debate, you have to defend yourself. You have to defend an anti-war position. Whereas in the old days when we actually had congressional resolution authorizing war, the table was such that if you were pro-war, you had to make that case. 

Paul Jay

And you were saying earlier, whether it’s an Elliott Abrams type neo con with the Republicans, or a Susan Rice neoliberal for the Democrats, you said their starting point is war. 

Joe Wilson

Well, no, the going in position is a pro-war position. And so you’re sitting around the table, and if you’re anti-war, you’ve got to make the case.  And that’s what the Arab Spring was all about. It was that was my side of the political spectrum which decided we ought to get involved in these little tribal wars in lands far away from ours. I think it was Clausewitz who once said great nations don’t involve themselves in small tribal wars. And I would just add that if you wish to remain a great nation,we have big issues. We have big, big— We  operate on a geo strategic level. We don’t need to be involved in everybody’s backyard fight.

Paul Jay

But this idea of Pax Americana, essentially global hegemony means hegemony in every region. You can’t have global if you don’t have it in every region. But Americans are being told to a large extent their affluence is dependent on this. So if we’re spending so much money on the military, not to think they just only keep you safe, they keep you affluent. 

Joe Wilson

And look who’s running those campaigns, those propaganda campaigns. It’s people who benefit from a war. War is money making. I learned this. I did the Angolan war for 20 years. And the hardest thing about bringing everybody to the peace table was the fact that everybody was making money on the violence. And I was just talking to a buddy of mine yesterday. It was probably the most complicated, and I was in and out of the process for up to 20 years. And it wasn’t as dramatic as Baghdad, or it wasn’t as dramatic as taking Bill Clinton to Africa. But it was the nitty gritty of bringing adversaries to the peace table. And at the end of the day, the hardest thing was, to get them to understand that a broader peace was more important than the money they were making on the, you know, the war transactions that they were engaged in every day.  And it’s no different here. It’s no different here. And we have made it even more complicated with all these regional commands. You put regional commands in place they come with with four star generals. There are three star aides, there are two star aides. And everybody in the command wants to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs. And the way you get there is to create action. And if I fought really hard against the creation of the Africa Command when I was at at European Command headquarters, because I saw this coming, and you could look at it now. We’ve got American troops all over Africa now, and there might be some legitimate reasons for an American presence, but a lot of this is because Four-Star Generals want to make their name. They want their next job. 

Paul Jay

The current military buildup around Iran. I’ll read again one sentence from what I read from your Nation article. “The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our world view are implanted throughout the region. Is that what’s driving this administration, the Trump administration’s Iran policy?

Joe Wilson

 I think Iran has everything to do with sort of regional politics. I think the Iran thrust is all tied to Israel. It’s tied to Israel’s sort of sense of its own domestic security. Hezbollah is funded by the Iranians. The Iranian presence in Syria is  huge. The Iranian president’s presence in Iraq is big and impressive and important. And I see, I think they see that as a strategic threat and go back again to, not just a project for the American century, but  the letter of, what, ’97, to BiBi (Netanyahoo) that Perle and those guys wrote.I can’t remember what we call it now,  but that was basically–.The thrust of their argument was the key to peace in the Middle East doesn’t go through Jerusalem. In those days it went through Baghdad. If you got rid of Sadaam, then there would be peace and flowers would bloom in the Middle East.

Paul Jay

 And they were quite explicit. There’s no need for a U.N. resolution. 

Joe Wilson

Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And of course, Baghdad turned out to be. I’m not sure how to say this delicately, but a mess. As Ledeen said, you know, “Boys go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran.”  And that’s what they want to do. And they still think that all they need to do is overthrow a government. And suddenly the flowers will bloom everywhere. That’s not going to happen. 

Paul Jay

But there’ll be a heck of a lot of money made along the way.

Joe Wilson

 And there’ll be a lot of lives lost, and there’ll be a lot of real danger to to the region. And frankly, we’ll get to the point that these wars become threats to the species. You know, you’re only just one thumb click away from a nuclear weapon. And is really risky. It’s dangerous. It is everything that people in my profession live to avoid. Our job is to try and make sure we don’t get to that point. 

Paul Jay

When Secretary Defense Shanahan was asked to justify this new military budget of over seven hundred and sixty five billion, that’s probably actually more than that, he said there’s three words to justify it: China, China and China. Pence is at West Point. He speaks and he says, “You will be fighting a war.”

Pence

“It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life.”

Paul Jay

I saw Shanahan, as well, when he was testifying about specific tanks and one of the generals that was testifying at the Senate about the new military budget, he used the same kind of terminology. “We will be using these in a war,” not if. And there’s a lot of conversation that the Iran strategy now is also part of the China strategy. That you need to control all the oil of the Middle East as leverage against China. And the whole thinking of a possible war with China and the potential of how that goes nuclear. I mean, how can they possibly imagine that doesn’t become nuclear? 

Joe Wilson

Well, first of all, the obsession with oil is crazy. Oil is a commodity. It is traded on the open market. If you can’t find it here, you’ll find it there. It might cost you a little bit more. But it is a commodity. It’s like lettuce in bacon. You can find it. You might have to pay a price for it. So this obsession, particularly now that we’re fracking the hell out of out of oil here in the States, it is just another something you buy and sell on the open market. And while, certainly, when we went to when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, the oil supplies were a key concern to them. But this is this is not then.

Paul Jay

But when Trump spoke at the CIA just a couple of weeks after he got inaugurated, he had this aside. He said, “You know, I didn’t like this war so much,” which actually isn’t that true. But he said, “Once we’re there, we should have grabbed the oil.” And then he says,”You know, guys,saying, to the CIA, “I think you’re going to have another chance at it.” 

Trump

But we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe you’ll have another chance. 

Joe Wilson

I was in the debate in the run up to the Iraq war. I was one of the leading figures against the war in that debate, publicly. And I got to tell you, I never saw Donald Trump anywhere in that debate. So Don Trump is really good at bullshit. He is a thug. He’s a grifter. One of the nice things about being old and infirm is I get to watch the tennis tournament in Paris. I don’t have to listen to Donald Trump anymore. I get to watch the surfing contests as they’re being shown on TV. I hold him and his despicable family in utter contempt. And the sooner they’re all in jail, the better for all of us. And I think they pose a real existential threat to our republic. And Bob Mueller’s nine minutes was, for me, a creed d’coeur call to Republicans to put their patriotism ahead of their party loyalty.

Robert Mueller

If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

Joe Wilson

I want to see Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater. I want to see those guys who went up to the White House and told Nixon the jig is up. You’re out of here. And I don’t see that yet. And it’s the thuggish actions of Trump and his nasty, dirty family. And the one thing I can say about him is,  he’s not even as good as Benito Mussolini was. He doesn’t even have the funny hats he can wear. But I really would like to see him end up the same way. Other than that, I have very few strong views. (laughter)

Paul Jay

 I go back to the oil issue. You know, I talked to Larry Wilkerson. One of the things that kind of really turned him around and made him become such a critic of U.S. policy is to the extent to which he thought the Iraq war was about oil, even though it’s available on the open market. And as I mentioned, Trump at the CIA, the idea of controlling that oil or directly owning that oil as opposed to a national oil company, the same thing would go for Iran, an enormous oil and gas reserves, even though it’s available on the market. 

     The fossil fuel industry would like to get their direct hands on it because it makes more money and has some geopolitical leverage. You were talking about earlier how much these things are about money making. How much does the military and US industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry, how much does it drive these kinds of decision making? 

Joe Wilson

Well, I think the pro-war crowd, yeah, they use that as a justification. Sure. It’s all about oil. We have to have the strategic reserves and everything. Wolfowitz, when he testified said, yeah, the Iraqi oil will pay for our invasion when that was clearly against international law. And they’re wrong. Those days are over. The days of Rockefeller and Standard Oil and BP and all that. And the only place that still plays out is in Africa, where you just don’t, where you still have some monopolistic behaviors. But everywhere else, it’s corporate competition. And yeah, we might weigh in, but I don’t think the Iraq war benefited American petroleum companies.

Paul Jay

So in the end, I don’t think it did. But they seem to think it would. 

Joe Wilson

Yeah, they do. Sure, they dream. That’s how they get. 

Paul Jay

That’s why Trump’s critical. Why didn’t we grab the oil? 

Joe Wilson

Give me your money, and I’ll go into Iraq and we’ll get you the oil reserves. 

Paul Jay

Let’s go back to Trump for a minute.  As it seems to me, as crazy as this administration is and undoing on every level, much of American policy that mitigated some of the extremes, most of the elites, a lot of the elites are quite on board with him.The Wall Street that, in the beginning was dubious about Trump, I’m told by Wall Street insiders, the majority of Wall Street loves the guy now.   The Republican Party is hanging very close to him. You don’t see the cracks you might have seen, maybe, on a few issues here and there. But in general, they’re very much in defense of this. 

Joe Wilson

 I would go back to Mueller’s words. This is time for the Republican Party to stand up and be American. There is a real threat to our republic by this guy and his nasty family. And if Republicans don’t stand up and, frankly, this is much more a Republican issue now than it is a Trump issue. You either stand up and be an American, or you will end up in the dustbin of history. You will end up being the lickspittles of the 21st century. 

Paul Jay

They knew everything Muller had to say before Mueller made a statement. And there is no sign of that happening yet.

Joe Wilson

Yep, and I said  to a friend of mine yesterday about Bill Barr. For me, he is the epitome of Hannah Arendt’s  famous comment about Adolf Eichmann, the banality of evil. And that’s what the Republican Party following lockstep behind this guy, Donald Trump. That’s what it’s become. And I say that as somebody who  came out of a really proud and powerful Republican Party at one time.

OK. We’re going to continue our discussion with Ambassador Joe Wilson. Unreality asserts itself.

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  • Why do the ‘elites’ continue to view oil, the burning of which is an existential threat, as a lever for domination of other nations? Global warming will render the earth uninhabitable. How can ruling over the ashes be a desirable outcome?