|PAUL O’NEILL, THE DEMOCRATS, AND REGIME ROTATION: MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY
Regime rotation provides the illusion of a functioning democracy. The damning revelations posed by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill (et al.) signal that the Bush administration’s usefulness has come to an end, a verdict not accepted by the White House which warns that the 2004 election might be delayed or suspended if a “mass casualty-producing event” occurs. Interview (part one) conducted following Chossudovsky’s talk Jan. 14 2004 at a forum on international health and human rights (Centre for International Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto). Video interview, 15 min., is viewable on snowshoefilms.com
Snowshoefilms: An increasing number of Bush insiders are jumping ship. What’s the significance of Paul O’Neill’s revelations [O’Neill is the chief source of former WSJ reporter Ron Suskind’s book, The Price of Liberty] and the platform he and others have been given?
Chossudovsky: Paul O’Neil is essentially a neo-conservative economist. Well, he’s a businessman.* He represents the corporate establishment. He certainly has no disagreements on the general thrust of economic reform or economic policy.
He may have disagreements on specifics. When he integrated the Treasury, he integrated the Treasury in the context of what was expected in terms of reforms. Essentially neo-liberal reforms: cutting down on social programs, balancing the budget….
He had certain disagreements on the tax cuts, but that was consistent with his economic perspective of reducing deficits – he has taken on the administration. I think he had some honest disagreements with the administration in the areas of economic policy and also with regard to foreign policy and these are honest disagreements. In other words, he doesn’t support the war agenda. As an individual, he doesn’t support the war agenda.
I think what happens within an administration is that there’s a consensus, there’s a building of a consensus. In other words, you support the war, you support certain areas of economic reform, you support the national security agenda. You support homeland defense.
This individual perhaps is a little bit too eclectic in relation to the main thrust of the administration's national security doctrine.
In fact, I think – his revelation, first of all, demonstrates the lies of this administration. It comes from within. In other words, somebody who was a part of that administration has admitted the administration is lying, that the administration was on a war path. It’s not something that we didn’t know already because the Clinton administration was also on the war path. If we look at the 1995 national security documents, if we look at US central command documents of the mid-90s, it was very clearly stipulated that the objective of US foreign policy was in fact invasion of Iraq. So there was nothing fundamentally new in that particular agenda.
What he points out is the fact that the Bush administration immediately upon assuming power in the White House started to talk about the Iraq war .
Not something which is surprising given the fact that it was on the agenda of the previous administrations.
What is interesting in Paul O’Neill’s revelation is that fact, it shows the sheer criminality of the US administration and of successive administrations. It demonstrates the lies, it shows, it exhibits the lies.
But it also points to the fact that there is no room for any kind of dissenting view within a US administration. In other words, the consensus , the package of reforms and the package of US policy initiatives is already set, it’s already decided upon – by the military-intelligence establishment, by the key brokers of Wall Street and the oil companies and so on…
And that anybody who integrates [into] a government has to obey orders. It’s a bit like the Spanish Inquisition. Either you’re for or against the Spanish Inquisition. If you say, ‘Well, the Spanish Inquisition is bad, makes people hurt, etc. etc. – then you are OUT. So, Paul O’Neill didn’t support the Spanish Inquisition, although he presumably supports neo-liberal reform with a more balanced perspective.
And that’s the very nature of a totalitarian system. It does not allow dissent even within the ruling elites. And those ruling elites are conforming to an agenda which is set. And which then becomes – and in some cases can even destroy those ruling elites because it ultimately goes against their own interests.
Snowshoefilms: Don’t you think that the fact that CBS, 60 Minutes, Viacom etc. that allows this critique, that there is a serious effort to remove the Bush administration at the upper corporate levels? and if that’s true, what will that mean if it is removed for another regime?
Michel Chossudovsky: I think this is a very important question, but it is not necessarily coming from, it’s not only coming from CBS. It’s coming from several quarters.**
After the war in Iraq, the media started pulling the plug on the Bush administration. But they pulled the plug not after, but before…. In other words, once the war had been completed, and a US military occupation force installed in Iraq with a “Coalition Authority,” they then pulled the plug on the [deception of Iraq’s]‘weapons of mass destruction.’ The information has been around for quite some time. We’ve known it. In fact, we’ve known for years that this is a fabrication. The media knows it’s a fabrication. But the consensus was that you do not reveal the lie until the lie is consumed, so to speak – and that means after the war.
Now once the military occupation of Iraq has been consumed, the oil ministry has been put under US control, then you can say, ‘Ah, the Bush administration has lied.’ Why? Because political puppets are disposable. They can be replaced. And precisely to provide the illusion of a functioning democracy. You need to have regime change in America. You need to have a new generation of figureheads which will integrate the White House and the US Congress who will ensure continuity of this project. And to ensure continuity, you also have to have a fall guy.
It’s very interesting, but in fact Bill Kristol, the head of the PNAC, who is one of the architects of the Bush administration’s war agenda, in his weekly review [New Standard, published by Rupert Murdock], actually pulled the plug on George W., accusing him of “cooking the books” on intelligence. The same thing is true of Time magazine. In other words, what the media has done from my point of views is very dishonest. Some people think the media is now revealing the truth. The media has chosen to reveal the truth at the opportune moment. They did not reveal the truth before the war, and they let the war happen. But they reveal the truth, at least on the weapons of mass destruction, while trivializing, of course, the whole process – because it’s much more serious than a few words in a state of union address.
But ultimately they’re still plugging in on the fabrication of intelligence and so on. And inevitably the prestige of the president is affected as a result. Why are they doing that? Because that is the basis for ensuring the reproduction of the so-called institutions…. The system has to give the impression that there is debate, there’s discussion, there’s opposition, there are people who are against it, that the media is critical of the president. As well as critical of Saddam Hussein, that they actually can blast the president for making mistakes, and all this ultimately reinforces the idea that we’re living in some kind of democratic system when in fact, the military-intelligence establishment are calling the shots.
Wall Street is in the background, the Council on Foreign Relations is establishing the blueprint for the war, and so on… And in that process we have a change in individuals in key positions and the US Congress, with its bi-partisan consensus will express its differences of opinion in relation to the president and the White House and then eventually after the election we might have some other figurehead, who might be a Democrat who will pursue the same agenda as that of the previous administration.
Now there’s also the possibility that we wont reach those 2004 elections as scheduled, because the present, the team which presently isin charge, are building a scenario of emergency measures. They’ve already indicated the possibility of a mass casualty-producing event, similar to that of 9/11, which could occur before the 2004 elections, and which would then foreclose the possibility of this regime rotation.
Tom Ridge has made the statement, following one of the ORANGE CODE alerts, that if the country goes to RED CODE alert, we close down the country and that’s where the federal emergency procedures come into force. Civilian institutions will be overshadowed by military rule and it would possibly imply that the election would be, could be, delayed or suspended – at least during that emergency period.
I think that, in essence the ruling establishment – we’re talking about the ultimate powers behind this system which are the oil companies, the defense contractors, Wall Street…. You know, the big corporations, the big banks – they are not…. I don’t think they have a consensus as to how they want to pursue the US foreign policy necessarily. They certainly support the war agenda but do they want to support the agenda and the police state apparatus at the same time? Do they want to have emergency measures which would foreclose the possibility of an election?
I think that there’s significant division within the establishment on that. I think it’s very revealing that George Soros -- I mean, who represents Wall Street ultimately, or at least a section of Wall Street – in supporting Howard Dean. He’s waging a campaign against George W. Bush. He’s supporting the 9/11 skeptics* At least he certainly believes that 9/11 is an issue. But he’s using this with a new to triggering a regime change where his candidate would then accede to high office. And so, obviously, there are different factions within this establishment. George Soros is pushing the Democrats and regime rotation. Maybe other groups within the financial establishment…. Maybe the defense contractors, Lockheed Martin might be pushing the Republican candidate and so on. But in any event, irrespective of these differences, there’s no question on the general roadmap, because both the Democrats and the Republicans support the war agenda. They may have differences in terms of how they want to do it. The Democrats might use more international diplomacy, and so on…
* Paul O’Neill: BA economics, Fresno State; MA public administration, Indiana U., computer systems analyst, US veterans administration, OMB under Reagan, Intl Paper, Co. CEO, ’85-87, Alcoa CEO 87-99), US Treasury secretary, Jan. 20, 2001.
** Simon and Schuster, O’Neill’s publisher, is owned by “first tier” Viacom, which also owns CBS, Paramount Pictures, Spelling Entertainment, MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon and several other cable networks, 18 US television stations, Blockbuster video etc. (p. 20, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, Robert McChesney*, 1999)
filmmakers notebook #68