For the Weekend: Tom Petty: Learning to Fly

Lawrence Wilkerson: Cheney wanted new cold war with China: "Cheney used various bureaucratic techniques to deal with each of these national security issues. He lost on China. He won on Iraq. He won on Afghanistan. He won on Iran, but he didn’t win on Iran by getting a presidential decision; he won on Iran by exploiting the dysfunctionality of Condi Rice, the national security adviser...

....Rumsfeld couldn’t stand her, didn’t have any respect for her, and she could not discipline the decision-making system as a result. And so he exploited that so that there never was a decision made about Iran. It was on the—I can’t tell you how many times it was on the agenda, but there never was a national security decision document issued codifying US policy towards Iran. So by default Cheney got what he wanted, which was essentially no talks with Iran. And the event you’re talking about comes about in the spring of 2003 when our protecting power in Iran, the Swiss, let Geneva, our ambassador in Geneva, know that the Iranians, all the way up to the top man, the ayatollah himself, and the Guardian Council, were interested in negotiating the points that we had previously indicated to them through our contacts in Afghanistan, when we were cooperating on the ground in Afghanistan with the Iranians. They wanted to talk about those points.

We were essentially getting rid of their number two enemy. Saddam Hussein was arguably their first enemy, and the Taliban were their second enemy. And so we were essentially getting rid of them, and there was a lot of cooperation on the ground. And, as a matter of fact, the Iranians were cooperative on the Bonn Conference, in setting it up to bring Karzai in to be the president. They were helpful with Al-Qaeda—it had retreated into Iran. And so forth. So good cooperation going on. So in 2003 they come back with a paper that looks a lot like the sort of non-paper we had given them—non-paper being no fingerprints on it, no letterhead, or anything: these are the points we’d like to talk about with you if we ever get down to it. And they came back and said, well, these are the points we’d like to talk about. And there was a marvelous coincidence between the two. Bill Burns, who was the assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) in the State Department, I’m told, subsequent to all of this, advised Powell that he didn’t think the offer was that solid, that it was being embellished by the Europeans, or something to that effect.

It came through the Swiss to our ambassador in Geneva, and then to the State Department, and then to the NSC and the vice president’s office and so forth. It was my sense that Powell already had North Korea on his plate, and he was fighting the vice president tooth and nail over North Korea and the six-party talks and getting some negotiations, meaningful negotiations. Cheney and his allies, like John Bolton and others, simply wanted regime change in North Korea. And, frankly, I don’t think they cared if the North attacked the South. They wanted regime change, and so be it. If it happened, it happened, and the South would, you know, tear up the North. I think anybody’s military estimation of the situation is the South would win.

These people whom I met in the Pentagon and whom I met associated with the vice president were ready to regime-change in any way, fashion, or form because everything that was evil in the world was represented to them by Baghdad, Pyongyang, and Tehran. And it also opened marvelous other opportunities to them. It opened the opportunity to protect Israel from some of its staunchest enemies. It opened the opportunity to reunify the Korean Peninsula and put 71 million Koreans to work and let the South exploit the labor of the North, in some ways the way West Germany did East Germany when they reunified. It opened up a vista of new possibilities in the 21st century. And, frankly, I encountered person after person in the Cheney network at Defense, at State, and elsewhere who didn’t—they didn’t necessarily want war, but they were not going to back away from war if war came...