|Karen Kwiatkowski is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who spent some 4 years working at the Pentagon. Since her retirement, she has become an outspoken critic on the U.S. foreign policy. Holding a PhD degree in World Politics from the Catholic University of America, Kwiatkowski is a prolific writer at the LewRockWell.com and the American Conservative.|
Colonel Kwiatkowski is primarily noted for openly and publicly denouncing what she sees as a corrupting political influence on the course of military intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Her most comprehensive writings on this subject appeared in a series of articles in The American Conservative magazine in December 2003 and in a March 2004 article on Salon.com.
Dr. Kwiatkowski joined Habilian Association in an exclusive interview, and shared her ideas on a number of issues. What follows is the full text of interview which has also been published in the 10th issue of Persian-language Rah-Nama magazine:
Habilian: What’s your perspective on the US drone attacks on Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and also its violation of Iran’s airspace?
Kwiatkowski: Remotely piloted vehicles (drones) make murder easy, and largely deniable. They remove the shooter from the battlefield. With drones, there is no real cost for mistakes, no risk to the user, no accountability within the system, and of course, no justice on the battlefield. The lower relative cost and the risk- and accountability-free environment of drones is real. Accordingly, their use by US military and by other USG agencies goes up each year. Drones are weapons of war, and their use implies that a war has or should be declared. The fact that the US is not at this time fighting any constitutionally-declared war does not void the fact that it is and continues to be conducting "acts of war" with remotely piloted vehicles. The repeated and calculated use of foreign operated surveillance drones over sovereign US territory -- whether armed or not -- would indeed be interpreted by Washington as an act of war. I see US use of drones over Iran as an intentional provocation, and an undeniable act of war. And yet, we are not in a state of war with Iran, and Iran poses no threat to the US proper. Because there is no constitutional charter for what the US is doing militarily in the Middle East and elsewhere, it is difficult for American citizens who do not pay close attention to international activities to even understand or know what is being done with their tax dollar and in their name. Those who do know have little recourse beyond vocal criticism -- Washington, DC is as uncontrollable by them as it is by the average Iranian or Somalian.
Habilian: So far, many US officials have warned that the US has “all options” on the table for Iran specifically the military one. These war threats are nothing but a violation of the UN charter, however the Security Council has not taken any action to criticize and punish US for its illegal behavior. What’s your viewpoint regarding this issue?
Kwiatkowski: Certainly, Washington DC (and Israel's government as well) is obsessed with a desire for a war with Iran. However, to answer this question, I believe it illustrates the key problem with the antiquated and largely useless United Nations. Beyond its bureaucratic largess and ineffectuality, the artificial construct of the Security Council is designed to further the interests of the permanent members and nothing else. Why would we expect anything different? At the very least, the UN has no credibility, and at worst it is antithetical to justice. The US, as a member of the UN, is Washington DC -- it is certainly not the people of the United States, who largely have no interest in Iran, nor do they have any knowledge of what Washington, DC is doing with regards to Iran. I will say, empires in decline, as the United States is, do make good use of national bogeymen, and Iran has served well in this regard for decades. To expect the UN to be able to take a significant action against its chief founder and benefactor is naive and unrealistic. But rather than somehow strengthening the UN as a super-sovereign government (a task I believe would be both impossible and dangerous), I believe it should be abandoned. The resources it consumes would be far better spent by sovereign states, and we should not fear honest sovereignty and honest international cooperation as a return to a war-ridden past.
Habilian: The US president and the department of state condemn Gaza’s rocket attacks on Israel, but they never criticize Israeli fatal offensive on the innocent civilians. What’s your take on this issue?
Kwiatkowski: It is very clear to me how the public foreign policy of the United States is fashioned -- both US political parties depend significantly on the public support, financial support and media support of lobbies and individuals in the United States and around the world who strongly support the current Israeli government, and who defend its actions and reputation at all cost. This interested and influential sector of lobbyists and political donors strongly believe in a Israel-centered vision of Zionism that incorporates a larger land mass than currently defined by the national borders of Israel, and one that does not allow for a Palestinian state or even the existence of an organized or functional Palestinian society. Certainly, even if I didn't understand why this happens, I would have to say it is hypocritical, dishonest, cowardly, and counterproductive for the United States especially.
Habilian: As you are well aware of the gun murders in the US, the most horrible of which in Connecticut which a total of 28 people were killed, why the US does not ban the assault weapons?
Kwiatkowski: Schools and military bases, among other places, are well known to contain large numbers of unarmed people. (Yes, on US military bases here at home, issue and personal weapons are controlled and kept in armories, except for military police on duty). Hence the ease of the Ft Hood massacre a few years ago, and the unfortunate and tragic cases of school shootings including the latest one in Newport, Connecticut. However, we in the United States recognize that the last line of defense against a tyrannical state/government is an armed populace. Even if we did not cherish this fundamental principle of liberty, it is clear that our government (already far larger than we can afford, given our debt and deficit) is not large enough, nor powerful enough, to enforce such a ban in such a sparsely populated country as the United States. Even the governments of Washington DC, New York City, and Chicago, nearly mini police states ruling over a concentrated population of urban dwellers, cannot control the guns available and in daily use by criminal elements there. The term "assault weapon" is also inappropriate -- what is commonly referred to when the term "assault weapon" is used is an automatic rifle. I am a firm believer that human beings are the ones who murder other people, not the weapons or tools that they use. I also believe that banning anything implies an organizational ability to enforce the ban. To enforce such a ban in the US would require a drastically larger, more powerful, and more invasive government -- a government not chartered by our Constitution, and one that is incompatible with the free market, liberty and humanity.
Habilian: The US considers itself to be at the forefront of the war on terrorism and censures other countries for their alleged sponsorship of terrorist groups. But, it took Mujahedin-e Khalq off its list of terrorist organizations, and there are credible evidence showing that Washington has been supporting MEK in its terror ops, both militarily and financially. Isn’t it a hypocritical approach in dealing with the issue of terrorism?
Kwiatkowski: I am personally disgusted by the many years of political support for the MEK by neoconservative elements among the US political class. It is beyond hypocritical, and the history and shifts regarding the MEK-- in many ways a western proxy organization from the beginning -- is simply one more means of war and provocation against another country, that like drone warfare, is a mechanism that provides the United State government with deniability, ambiguity, a lack of accountability, and ultimately hurts US credibility and interests.
Habilian: Would you please touch on Canada’s dropping MEK from its official list of terrorists?
Kwiatkowski: I don't follow Canadian politics, but I'm sure Canadian politicians are as venal as the ones we have in the United States. There is a strong and growing tendency for both Canada and Mexican government to fall in line with Washington -- I do celebrate when I see Mexican and Canadian leaders expressing their national sovereignty by distancing themselves from US decisions and actions. I don't see this often, though.
Habilian: And finally, speaking at the French National Assembly on December 5, 2012, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi asked France and the western countries to recognize them as an opposition group as they recognized the Syrian coalition against Assad. What's your take on this issue? Do you think this group can bring democracy?
Kwiatkowski: I'm not overly familiar with Maryam Rajavi -- however, I remember reading about her and the MEK in my days at the Pentagon. My sense was, and remains, that this group is dependent on outside money, serves interests that may have nothing to do with their published propaganda. I left the Pentagon in 2003, nearly a decade ago. Maryam has led the MEK since 1993, and it appears she inherited the position from her husband. That doesn't sound very democratic, and I suspect that Rajavi knows little about, and cares little about, democracy. The very fact that her organization is favored by a powerful sector in Washington should undermine it as some sort of people's movement for Iranians dissatisfied with the mullahs and/or Ahmedinejad. Beyond that, Iran already has democracy. Ahmedinejad is an elected leader, much as Obama is. I frankly don't see democracy as a solution to much of anything. Small, limited and lawful governments -- whether they be led by kings or parliaments -- deliver far more peace and prosperity than do large, unlimited and unlawful governments, even if those large, unlimited and unlawful governments were “democratically” elected.
With regard to Syria -- the war supporters in Washington DC and allies in Europe who are involved in Syrian national politics have been working overtime, without the benefit of public scrutiny, comment or awareness. To wish to be "recognized" by such corrupt governments is revealing, and little good for the people of Syria or the people of Iran respectively, will come of it.