at the Point of a Gun/: CIA Analyst Ray McGovern
visualizing Osama bin Laden in his cave, rubbing his hands in delight
at the success of his strategy,” Ray McGovern says.
27 years — from JFK to George H.W. Bush — McGovern worked
as a CIA analyst, chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing
the president’s Daily Brief. He’s now co-director of Servant
Leadership School in Washington, D.C., an inner-city school
that provides training and other support for the poor, and a member
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of 35 former
professionals from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the
Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research,
Army Intelligence, the FBI, and the National Security Agency.
wanted what he considered to be the arch imperialistic country — the
United States — to invade a Muslim country for demonstrably
economic reasons, namely oil,” McGovern continued. “The
scenario was entirely predictable: The US would set up military
bases there. After a while, the invasion would be reduced to house-to-house fighting
in major cities. This is what has happened. Now, there is no convenient
way out for America. Osama couldn’t have done better if he
had planned it exactly this way.”
must have known the character of his adversary — that the
U.S. military's overt presence in a Muslim country would eventually
lead to protests. He must have been satisfied on April 28, 2003,
soldiers fired on Iraqis at a pro-Saddam demonstration outside
an elementary school in Fallujah, killing 15 people and wounded
was handled cruelly,” McGovern says. “That didn’t
help the equation. It was only a matter of time before the Iraqis — and
there are 25 million of them, mind you — would take up arms
literally… and now many of them have. It really is the worst
possible mess that you can imagine. With the war in Iraq, the attention
is diverted from bin Laden and the terrorism that he and his pals
got cover, thanks to Bush. He’s got his holy war, thanks to
Bush. And he’s celebrating, thanks to Bush.
download reports out of Fallujah while McGovern awaits my next question.
Mike Kaspar and I phoned him from KUCI where our Weekly
Signals radio show originates.
Military patrols enter the Fallujah’s outer suburbs on reconnaissance
missions. There’s fire. Return fire.
continues to insist that June 30 is the transition date for US occupation
to self-rule in Iraq. That’s less than 3 months away. Will
the administration hold to that deadline?
are some signs of slippage,” McGovern says. “Senator
Lugar and others are suggesting the date be moved ahead. Of course,
the date is entirely artificial. It has NOTHING to do with what’s
going on in Iraq. It has EVERYTHING to do with the US presidential
election in November. Bush clearly wanted to be out of Iraq before
then. His advisors told him that our troops would be greeted by the
Iraqis with cut flowers and open arms. It didn’t turn out that
way. At that point, the administration thought they could force something.
That didn’t work out, either."
McGovern speaks, hundreds
of US and Iraqi troops in tanks and armored vehicles surround Fallujah.
There’s rioting. It looks like Osama’s going to be very
at a very crucial juncture here,” McGovern says. “We
have people calling for an increase in troops. The question is whether
the Bush administration will sink down into the Vietnam Morass Syndrome.”
to McGovern, the first stage of Vietnam Morass Syndrome (VMS) is
the deploying of just
a few more troops so we can surround cities. Stage two: We bomb.
Patients with full blown VMS are convinced that destroying all opposition
is the best way to preserve a chance for democracy.
a slippery spiral and there doesn’t seem to be anyone around
in a position of power and influence who was around for Vietnam.
It’s so, so similar and the consequences are just as dire,” McGovern
Osama must have learned from the Vietnam War, it’s apparent
the Bush administration didn’t. 58,000
American troops returned home from Vietnam in body bags and 3
million Vietnamese perished. You would think that a FUBAR operation
of that magnitude would leave a lasting impression. Alas, no. And
Osama knew it. He counted on the upper-class arrogance of the Bush
family for his success. But what about Bush’s advisors? Didn’t
they see that they were playing into Osama’s hand?
bottom line is that the Perle’s and
the Wolfowitz’s and
the Rumsfeld’s and Feith’s who
are responsible for this mess didn’t have a clue as to what
they would do right after the war. They knew that initially we could
prevail militarily. They thought that would be enough. Now, they
don’t have a clue as to how to repair the damage. We need to
get rid of these amateurs and get in some people who know about the
there a chance that free elections in Iraq will allow the Bush administration
Roberts, the Republican senator from Kansas and head of the
Senate Intelligence Committee made a very revealing statement two
weeks ago. He said, ‘We can’t just let the Shiites run
away with these elections.’ He said that in public. There’s
must have had a good laugh at that one. What a hoot! To protect
Iraq from a democratically elected Shiite, Bush could send Karl
Rove to Baghdad to manage the campaign. If the election was too
close to call, they could always rely on an Iraqi Supreme Court
to appoint the president. I wonder, is there any way the Bush administration
could persuade the Iraqis to vote for a candidate that would please
transition government has little credibility with the people at large
in Iraq,” McGovern said. “That’s the supreme irony.
Anything that was put together by the Americans will be ipso
facto anathema once the transfer of power is done.”
turn back the clock to pre-shock and awe times. What could we have
done differently to bring democracy to Iraq?
was the most secular country in the Middle East. If the US had been
a little more patient and waited for Saddam to fall under his own
weight, Iraq would have been ripe for democracy. But democracy doesn’t
come in on the point of a gun.”
seems like the best way to stop Osama from celebrating is to defeat
Bush at the polls in November. Then the Perle’s and the Wolfowitz’s
and the Rumsfeld’s and the Feith’s would have to find
work elsewhere. Is there a chance that the major media outlets will
bring some sanity to the debate on this so-called War on Terror?
sea change in the body politic since Vietnam is the media,” McGovern
says. “The media is now controlled by a PR machine in the White
House that is, I would say, diabolically clever. The challenge is,
are WE not clever enough? Are WE not up to it? Are WE not able to
figure out imaginative ways to use the Internet and everything else
at our disposal to get the truth out? I’m sure we are.”
— Nathan Callahan,
April 8, 2004