Peoples the world around have a history of culture and religion. In the Mideast , the religion is predominantly Muslim and the culture tribal. The Muslim religion is strong, i.e., those that don’t conform are considered infidels; those of a tribal culture look for tribal leadership, not democracy. We liberated Kuwait , but it immediately rejected democracy.

In 1996, a task force was formed in Jerusalem including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser. They submitted a plan for Israel to incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Clean Break. It proposed that negotiations with the Palestinians be cut off and, instead, the Mideast be made friendly to Israel by democratizing it. First Lebanon would be bombed, then Syria invaded on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction. Afterward, Saddam Hussein was to be removed in Iraq and replaced with a Hashemite ruler favorable to Israel .

The plan was rejected by Netanyahu, so Perle started working for a similar approach to the Mideast for the United States . Taking on the support of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Cambone, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld et al., he enlisted the support of the Project for the New American Century.

The plan hit paydirt with the election of George W. Bush. Perle took on the Defense Policy Board. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith became one, two and three at the Defense Department, and Cheney as vice president took Scooter Libby and David Wurmser as his deputies. Clean Break was streamlined to go directly into Iraq .

Iraq , as a threat to the United States , was all contrived. Richard Clarke stated in his book, Against All Enemies, with John McLaughlin of the CIA confirming, that there was no evidence or intelligence of “Iraqi support for terrorism against the United States ” from 1993 until 2003 when we invaded. The State Department on 9/11 had a list of 45 countries wherein al Qaeda was operating. While the United States was listed, it didn’t list the country of Iraq .

President Bush must have known that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq . We have no al Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorism from Iraq ; we were intentionally misled by the Bush administration.

Which explains why President-elect Bush sought a briefing on Iraq from Defense Secretary William Cohen in January before taking the oath of office and why Iraq was the principal concern at his first National Security Council meeting – all before 9/11. When 9/11 occurred, we knew immediately that it was caused by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan . Within days we were not only going into Afghanistan , but President Bush was asking for a plan to invade Iraq – even though Iraq had no involvement.

After 15 months, Iraq has yet to be secured. Its borders were left open after “mission accomplished,” allowing terrorists throughout the Mideast to come join with the insurgents to wreak havoc. As a result, our troops are hunkered down, going out to trouble spots and escorting convoys.

In the war against terrorism, we’ve given the terrorists a cause and created more terrorism. Even though Saddam is gone, the majority of the Iraqi people want us gone. We have proven ourselves “infidels.” With more than 800 GIs killed, 5,000 maimed for life and a cost of $200 billion, come now the generals in command, both Richard Myers and John Abizaid, saying we can’t win. Back home the cover of The New Republic magazine asks, “Were We Wrong?”

Walking guard duty tonight in Baghdad , a G.I. wonders why he should lose his life when his commander says he can’t win and the people back home can’t make up their mind. Unfortunately, the peoples of the world haven’t changed their minds. They are still against us. Heretofore, the world looked to the United States to do the right thing. No more. The United States has lost its moral authority.

Originally published in The State on June 23, 2004