Chapter 7 – The Iraq War

The plan to reshape the “Greater Middle East”

In the wake of September 11 and after the successful punitive expedition in Afghanistan, the Neocons, supported by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, contributed to defining a new foreign-relations doctrine.

As the threat now came from “failed states,” preemptive war could be waged to rule out a surprise attack by the adversary. Preemptive action was advocated in the event of suspicions of hostility.

The “Greater Middle East” and its reshaping became a “crusade,” as inopportunely stated by George W. Bush in a vocabulary familiar to Americans but very badly received in the Muslim world. The “unfinished war” was increasingly mentioned in order to condition public opinion. The Patriot Act made it possible to disqualify any criticism of the administration’s policy as antipatriotic. The Bush administration agreed to request the authorization of the United Nations while stating that it would preserve its freedom of action if it was not granted.

All-powerful, the United States had opposed the institution of an International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes, rejected the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, opposed the prohibition of land mines, and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming or the Rio Convention on Biodiversity. Moreover, Paul Wolfowitz had declared that “the road to Jerusalem [went] through Baghdad,” meaning that the Palestinian problem depended on a change in Baghdad.

The Neocons had the de facto support of Saudi Arabia, for which the major enemy remained Iranian Shi’ism. Pakistan, for its part, had been a Sunni islamist state since the rise to power of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977).

On the domestic level, telephone tapping without a court order was introduced. A new department was instituted: the Department of Homeland Security (two hundred thousand employees).

The Global War on Terrorism warranted putting in this category all armed movements whose goals were contrary to those of Washington and its allies. G.W. Bush’s rhetoric was particularly virulent and denounced even traditional allies who did not wish to take part in this “war of choice.”