As this paper has already implied, U.S. policy concerning Syria is only the tip of an iceberg -- as Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has intimated, and as the PNAC papers and President G.W. Bush himself have blatantly revealed. Yet, the Bush Administration continually relied on scare tactics, bogus intelligence, and empty nationalistic slogans to offer to the American public a justification for its opposition to Syria.
Conflict Theory is also the most logical perspective from which to perform this analysis, since one of the founders of modern Conflict Theory, C. Wright Mills was himself a critic of the military-industrial complex, which is certainly a dominant player in today's geo-politics: as Peter Hazard Knapp observes, "Mills had argued that power was becoming concentrated in the hands of the giant corporations and the Pentagon."
Again, Conflict Theory allows this paper to posit the hypothesis that the Bush Administration's conflict with Syria is part of a neo-conservative agenda within the military-industrial complex situated in the Pentagon and Oval Office to gain an American-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East -- through (among other tactics) destabilization, covert operations, false flag terrorism, media manipulation, and the pursuance of a neo-conservative ideology.
The Actors and Events
The most prominent figures in the Bush Administration were President G.W. Bush himself, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (succeeded by Robert Gates), and Secretary of State Colin Powell (succeeded by Condoleeza Rice). The major events of the Bush Administration may be identified as 9/11 retaliation; the Patriot Act; the creation of Homeland Security; Afghanistan, the hunt for Bin Laden; the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the following sanctions against Syria and Iran.
The national media trumpeted the Administration's justification for each event. It was, however, the work of independent journalists and investigators, like Joseph Wilson, former U.S. diplomat, whose op-ed in the New York Times exposed a massive misinformation campaign within the Bush Administration, which led to Scooter Libby's (Assistant to the President, among other roles) indictment on charges of leaking the covert identity of Wilson's wife CIA agent Valerie Plame (outed in retaliation for Wilson's expose).
The fact that Saddam's alleged purchase of yellow cake uranium in Niger was a total fabrication and that the evidence for WMDs in Iraq also turned out to be a myth led to Powell's resignation and replacement by Rice. Despite this hic-cup, the plan for "Middle East peace" continued -- and a very violent peace it has proven to be.
Pressure on Syria was considerably increased in the wake of Rafic Hariri's assassination. Hariri was the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, whose Syrian support had been dropped in favor of his political rival President Lahoud. Because Syria now favored his rival, "Hariri was poised to lead an anti-Syrian front in the upcoming parliamentary elections in May."
That the U.S. could not support its accusations against Syria with any evidence did not stop the International community from condemning Syria. In 2005 Patrick Buchanan outlined the power play between Syria and Israel for control of Lebanon. He made it very clear that Lebanon was just one more domino connected to Syria. But Buchanan had already been marginalized in the political world, as chairman of PNAC William Kristol proudly boasted in May 2012.
Thus, the American mainstream media, which has served as little more than a talking head for the Pentagon, gave more air time to condemnations of Syria than to any other possible perspective on the situation.
The problem with such an obviously biased interpretation of events is two-fold: it drums up support for a war that may be just or unjust (but is not debated by Congress) and simultaneously causes distrust among Americans who see the drumming as a dishonest attempt at hegemony. In other words, by stifling any conflicting opinion, the Pentagon virtually assures a conflict surge in domestic opinion (since no conflict resolution is even remotely sought). This problem is intimately related to the main force behind the White House, which is no different today than it was during the Bush Administration: it should be termed the Neo-Conservative Party, but it is roundly known today as the Republican Party. Thus, Conflict Theory is exercised in hopes of promoting conflict resolution. It will now be used to explore the other rationales for conflict with Syria that go unaired.
The actors and events that took place behind the scenes are not well-known by all -- but their contributions to the Bush Administration cannot be over-emphasized. Some of the most influential actors behind the scenes of PNAC's blueprint for U.S. intervention in the Middle East (called "Rebuilding America's Defenses") were William Kristol, Chairman of PNAC; Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC; Richard Perle, member of the Defense Policy Board and of PNAC; Elliot Abrams, member of Bush's National Security Council (indicted for lying to Congress during the Iran/Contra scandal) and signatory of the PNAC policy; Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, former president of Halliburton, Vice President of the United States during the Bush Administration and signatory of the PNAC policy; Paul Wolfowitz, Bush's Undersecretary of Defense and signatory of the PNAC policy. Each of these men (and more) played a decisive role in engineering America's foreign policy in the 21st century.
As Philip Weiss reports, William Kristol not only guided PNAC (which in turn guided the Bush Administration), he also reshaped the Republican (and formerly conservative) Party to meet the agenda of the neo-conservatives: "[Kristol] is a Republican Party warlord…[boasting that] all the elements hostile to Israel inside the Republican Party were purged over the last 30 years…[stating]: 'I've encouraged that they be expelled or not welcomed into the Republican Party. I'd be happy if Ron Paul left. I was very happy when Pat Buchanan was allowed…to go off and run as a third-party candidate.'"
Meanwhile, Thomas Donnelly, principal author of PNACs "Rebuilding America's Defenses," stresses the importance of funding the military-industrial complex by lamenting that "the 1990s have been a 'decade of defense neglect.'"
The subsequent hyping of defense building fed into the media-fueled belief that national security (following 9/11) was at risk. The absurdity of a weak U.S. national security has been contradicted by nearly every alternative media outlet and independent journalist in operation today -- one of the more famous being James Corbett of Boiling Frogs Post and the Corbett Report, whose "9/11: A Conspiracy Theory" eviscerates the idea of the U.S. being caught, so to speak, "with its pants down."
The reality of the build-up to war (even before 9/11) is clearly shown by Paul O'Neill (former Treasury Secretary for the Bush Administration) -- and 9/11 provided the perfect pretext for war and the initiation of the Project for the New American Century. According to Rebecca Leung, Paul O'Neill's depiction of "what happened at President Bush's very first National Security Council meeting is one of (his) most startling revelations: 'From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,' says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic 'A' 10 days after the inauguration -- eight months before Sept. 11."
O'Neill, however, simply echoes what the PNAC papers already show: a serious plan for hegemony in the Middle East, which simply needed a pretext for war.
The Bush Administration's approach to dispelling doubts about its conflict in the Middle East is adequately illustrated in its handling of conflict with Syria: accuse first, ask questions later. By depicting Assad as a totalitarian and (now) genocidal dictator, the Bush Administration (backed by the neo-conservatives) attempted to monopolize the court of public opinion. However, in attempting to crush all conflict to the outline for "Middle East peace," the U.S. has clearly shown (through sanctions, war, and the support of terrorism) that peace is not the ultimate goal, but hegemony. The fact that the Bush Administration failed to offer any real evidence to justify its invasion of Iraq or any real evidence to justify its condemnation of Syria simply opens the door for other possible interpretations for its motive in the Middle East. Israel (along with the military-industrial complex) supplies the motive; the PNAC papers supply that plan; the Pentagon supplies the means; and the media provides the justification. And yet, the alternative media (which includes independent Western journalists as well as non-Western media outlets) supplies the conflict. The U.S. faces more and more scrutiny as a result of its attempt to justify its actions. As for the Bush Administration, President Bush (and now Obama) was forced to act more and more like the kind of dictator typically condemned by Western media: acts of war, too numerous to count, were committed without the approval of Congress -- as Ron Paul has consistently shown and denounced.
The fact is that Congress, with whom alone resides the power to declare war, has been thoroughly purged of Constitutionalist conservatives. William Kristol…