Monday, December 22, 2008

Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze

Chaos, panic & disorder - our work is done.

"With George W Bush's presidency about to end, what will happen to the neoconservatives? Rarely in the history of US politics has a small number of bookish intellectuals had so much influence on foreign policy as the neo-cons had under Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, neither of whom is noted for his deep intellectual interests... Writing for journals such as The Weekly Standard and using the pulpits of think tanks... neocons offered an intellectual boost to the invasion of Iraq. The logic of the US mission to spread freedom across the globe - grounded, it was argued, in American history since the founding fathers - demanded nothing less." (As wrong as neo-cons were, Obama may have to preserve their ideals, Ian Buruma*, The Australian, 13/12/08)

[* "[P]rofessor of human rights at Bard College, New York state."]

Yadda, yadda, yadda. Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton, Libby & Co, all American boys, albeit bookish to a fault, committed to the (exclusively) American ideals of promoting freedom here, there, & everywhere, beginning with Iraq's transformation into a Jeffersonian democracy, just happened to be sauntering by, heads in the clouds as usual, minding their own business, when they were accosted by two "powerful leaders with an authoritarian bent" - the suave and charismatic Dubya and his Svengali Dick Cheney - whose pheromones fairly turned the neocon's cloud-wreathed heads and sucked them into slavish, but "misguided", service of these two ambitious autocrats.

Yeah, right. This is what passes for 'quality journalism' in Murdoch fishwrapper.

Enough already! We are lucky indeed to have an antidote to such rubbish - Stephen J Sniegoski's The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel (2008).

As its title suggests, Sniegoski's book "examines a controversial and in some respects taboo subject: the close relationship of the American neoconservatives with the Israeli Likudnik right, and their role as the fundamental drivers of the Bush administration's militant American policy in the Middle East - a policy which inspired both the 2003 war in Iraq and the equally militant solutions contemplated since for other Middle East policy problems. It marshals evidence to illustrate that the war in Iraq... and the policy that inspired it and continues to inspire our approach to other actors and issues in the Middle East, have their common origin in the orientation of the neoconservative policy towards the service of the interests of Israel... The overarching goal of both the neocons and the Likudniks was to create an improved strategic environment for Israel... [T]his does not necessarily mean that the neocons were deliberately promoting the interest of Israel at the expense of the United States. Instead, they maintained that an identity of interests existed between the two countries - Israel's enemies being ipso facto America's enemies. However, it is apparent that the neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest, as Israeli interest was perceived by the Likudniks." (p 4-5)

Some extracts:-

"With the Likud's assumption of power, the most far-reaching militant proposals entered mainstream Zionist thinking, involving militant destabilization of Israel's neighbors and Palestinian expulsion. An important article in this genre was by Oded Yinon, entitled 'A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s'... Yinon called for Israel to bring about the dissolution of many of the Arab states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-states that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon's model for the entire Middle East... Yinon looked upon Iraq as a major target for dissolution, and he believed that the then on-going Iran-Iraq war would promote its break-up... 'In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, 3 (or more) states will exist around the 3 major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shiite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north'." (p 50-51)

"[T]he vision of 'regime change' in the Middle East through external, militant action originated in Israel, and its sole purpose was to advance the security interests of Israel. It had nothing to do with bringing 'democracy' to Muslims. It had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to the United States. These latter arguments accreted to the idea of regime change as the primary military actor changed from Israel to the United States. But the Israeli government would continue to be a fundamental supporter of the regional military action, even as the ostensible justifications for the action changed. Israel advocated the American attack on Iraq and preached the necessity of strong action against Iran. It would appear that for Ariel Sharon during the Bush II administration, the strategic benefits that would accrue to Israel from such a militant restructuring of the Middle East were the same as those that Likudniks sought in the 1980s. But unlike Begin's failed incursion into Lebanon in 1982, the Bush II effort not only relied upon the much greater power of the United States but was also wrapped in a cover of 'democracy' and American national interest, effectively masking the objective of Israeli hegemony. This helps to explain the much greater success of this intervention, which has come at no cost to Israel - but at a heavy cost to the United States." (pp 56-57)

"During the 1990s, the neoconservatives were quite open about their goal of War in the Middle East to destabilize Iraq and other enemies of Israel. A clear indication of the neoconservative thinking on this subject - and the intimate connection with Israeli security - was a 1996 paper entitled 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm', published by an Israeli think tank... Included in the study group that produced the report were figures who would loom large in the Bush II administration's war policy in the Middle East - Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser... The 'realm'... was that of Israel. The purpose of the policy paper was to provide a political blueprint for the incoming Israeli Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper stated that Netanyahu should 'make a clean break' with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan by which Israel would 'shape its strategic environment', beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad. Significantly, the report did not present Saddam's Iraq as the major threat to Israel. Rather, Iraq was more like the weak link among Israel's enemies. By removing Saddam, the study held that Israel would be in a strategic position to get at its more dangerous foes. In short, elimination of Saddam was a first step toward reconfiguring the entire Middle East for the benefit of Israel." (pp 89-90)

"It was apparent that during the Clinton years the neocons had formulated the entire plan for a Middle East war and had established the mechanisms, with their think tanks and media outlets, to disseminate this view to politicians and the public at large. They had become wedded to the idea, developed earlier by Likudnik thinkers, that it was necessary to bring about a reconfiguration of the Middle East, not only by removing those regimes that opposed Israel but also by fragmenting some of those countries. And they perceived Iraq as the initial target for the overall Middle East effort. Significantly, they saw the need for American involvement - quickly moving from the idea that the United States would be supportive of Israeli military action to the point where the United States would initiate military action itself. To achieve such American involvement it would be necessary to show how the United States itself was directly threatened; thus, by the end of the 1990s the neocons were portraying Saddam as an especially lethal threat to the American homeland. In actuality, however, the removal of Saddam was simply intended to be the beginning phase in the overall restructuring of the Middle East. The neocons were quite unified in presenting the danger Saddam allegedly posed to the United States, and their think tanks and media outlets could effectively disseminate this view. However, they could not achieve their goal by simply being a 'shadow defense department'; what was needed was to gain a prominent role in the foreign-policy and national-security apparatus of the next administration, and then perhaps await a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event' (as the PNAC report deemed necessary) to fully implement their program. All of this would soon come to pass." (pp 102-103)

"Whereas George W Bush had not expressed any interest in eliminating Saddam, Cheney, at a celebration dinner after the 2000 presidential campaign, reportedly told a group of friends that the new administration might have an opportunity to correct the mistake of the previous Bush administration of having left Saddam Hussein in control of Iraq. Cheney would be in a position to facilitate this development. Cheney was in charge of the new administration's transition team between the election in November 2000 and Bush's inauguration in January 2001, and used that position to staff national security positions with his neoconservative associates, who would promote the Middle East war agenda." (p 114)

"The neoconservatives made Iraq a key issue in the bush administration from the very beginning. According to Richard Clarke, who was a counter-terrorism advisor early in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives in the administration were fixated on Iraq as the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. When, in April 2001, the White House convened a top-level meeting to discuss terrorism, Wolfowitz expressed the view that Saddam Hussein was a far more important subject than Al Qaeda, which had been Clarke's focus. According to Clarke, Wolfowitz said he could not 'understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden'. The real threat, Wolfowitz insisted, was state-sponsored terrorism orchestrated by Saddam. To bolster his contention, Wolfowitz cited the eccentric views of neocon favorite Laurie Mylroie, who saw the hand of Saddam behind much of the terrorism of the 1990s, including the World Trade Towers attack of 1993. For Wolfowitz to express Mylroie's unproven Saddam Hussein conspiracy theory was incomprehensible to Clarke, who opined: 'Here was the number 2 person in the Pentagon saying that he agreed with her and disagreed with CIA, with FBI, disagreed with all the massive evidence that Al Qaeda had attacked the World Trade Center in '93, not Iraq. Why anybody as sophisticated as a Wolfowitz or the others would attach themselves to that sort of stuff, I didn't know'. Of course, if Wolfowitz and other neocons wanted propaganda for a war on Iraq, they would promote such unlikely stories, just as they would later focus on the WMD falsehoods." (p 124)

"In the eyes of Israel's leaders, the September 11 attack had joined the United States and Israel together against a common enemy. And that enemy was not in far off Afghanistan, but was geographically close to Israel. Israel's traditional enemies would now become America's as well. Israel now would have a free hand to deal harshly with the Palestinians under the cover of a 'war on terrorism'. Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation would simply be portrayed as 'terrorism'. Conversely, America would make itself the enemy of those who previously had focused on Israel." (p 139)

"For the neocons, the terrible tragedy of 9/11 offered the extremely convenient pretext to implement their war agenda for the United States. 'Before 9/11', war critic Joseph Wilson writes, 'regime change by invasion was still just a fringe part of the debate about how to handle Saddam Hussein'. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the neoconservatives found the perfect climate to publicly push for a wider war on terrorism that would immediately deal with Israel's enemies, starting with Iraq. 'At the beginning of the administration people were talking about Iraq but it wasn't doable. There was no heft', observed neocon Kenneth Adelman. 'That changed with September 11 because then people were willing to confront the reality of an international terrorist network, and terrorist states such as Iraq'. Perle concurred that 'Nine-eleven was the turning point with respect to leaving Saddam unmolested'... According to Bob Woodward in Bush at War, as early as the day after the terrorist attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 'raised the question of attacking Iraq Why shouldn't we go against Iraq, not just al Qaeda? he asked." (pp 140-141)

"As a result of 9/11, the neocons became the guiding force in American foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger in 2004 explained the neocon's success: 'The neocons were organized. They had intellectual content. Bush was not totally captured by it but tends in that direction'. As time progressed, Bush would follow more and more of their agenda... [T]he events of 9/11... had a profound impact on Bush's psyche, causing him to embrace the neocon's pre-packaged simple solution of a war of good vs evil [which] was undoubtedly in line with Bush's purported Christian evangelical beliefs. Furthermore, Bush's adoption of the neocon war agenda provided him with his purpose in life, which he identified as the will of God." (p 147)

"The adoption of the neocon agenda with its focus on Iraq and the Middle East would distract the United States from consolidating its control of Afghanistan, which could have been used for the American domination of the Eurasian landmass along the lines of the thinking of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Control of Central Asia had been abandoned, or, at least, put on the back burner, in the move to invade Iraq and thence achieve regime change elsewhere in the Middle East. None of these goals had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. The morass that the United States would find in Iraq, a quagmire that was easy to predict, would not enhance American global domination. It would, however, bring about the destabilization of the Middle East sought by the neocons and the Israeli Likudniks. In a fundamental sense, American hegemonic interests had been trumped by Zionist ones." (p 150)

The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel - the perfect companion treatise to Mearsheimer & Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy.

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