Jonathan Holmes' opinion piece, America's dream of Iraq showing the way has turned into a nightmare in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald is sadly typical of that paper's piss-poor Middle East coverage.
Having produced a 2003 Four Corners documentary (American Dreamers) on the role of the US neo-conservatives in initiating the Iraq war of 2003-11, Holmes thought he'd revisit the subject in yesterday's edition, with the following result:
"Since the end of the first Gulf War in 1992, the neo-cons had been calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In the aftermath of 9/11 they seized their chance... What was really driving the neo-cons was not cynical pragmatism [ie getting hold of Iraqi oil], but an idealistic optimism that American power could be deployed for the benefit of the whole Arab world... It was a beautiful dream. But to many, even then, it was extraordinarily naive."
Unfortunately, about the best that can be said of the above is that at least its author isn't trying to tell us that the Iraq war was all about oil.
Holmes' portrayal of the neocons (more properly, Ziocons) is, to borrow his own words, "extraordinarily naive."
The idea that a bunch of extraordinarily Israel-friendly dreamers simply rocked up, post 9/11, to the Bush White House with a plan, nay, "a Beautiful Dream" to "benefit the Arab world," is of course ludicrous.
Anyone with a serious interest in the genesis of the Bush/Blair aggression on Iraq needs to acquire a copy of Stephen J. Sniegoski's Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel (2008).
Here's an extract contra Holmes' "beautiful dream" nonsense:
"While the neoconservatives were the driving force for the American invasion of Iraq, and the attendant efforts to bring about regime change throughout the Middle East, the idea for such a war did not originate with American neocon thinkers but rather in Israel. An obvious linkage exists between the war position of the neoconservatives and what has been the long-time strategy of the Israeli right...
"The idea of a Middle East war had been bandied about in Israel for many years as a means of enhancing Israeli security. War would serve two purposes. It would improve Israel's external security by weakening and splintering Israel's neighbors. Moreover, such a war and the consequent weakening of Israel's external enemies would serve to resolve the internal Palestinian demographic problem, since the Palestinian resistance depends upon material and moral support from Israel's neighboring states...
[Sniegoski cites here the views of Rabin adviser Yoram Peri, who described in 1982 how the coming to power in Israel of the Likudniks , saw a shift in security conception from coexistence and maintenance of the status quo to hegemony over, and destabilization of, the region via its fragmentation into warring ethno-religious communities.]
"Peri had argued that if Israel went off on its own in destabilizing the Middle East, the United States would abandon Israel, to Israel's detriment. What was needed for the Israeli destabilization plan to work was a transformation of American Middle East policy. If the United States adopted the same destabilization policy as Israel, then such a policy could succeed. For the United States' influence among its allies and in the United Nations, where it held a veto, would be enough to shelter Israel from the animosity of world public opinion, preventing it from ending up as a pariah state such as the white-ruled Repubic of South Africa. Better yet, though perhaps even unimagined in the 1980s, would be to induce the United States to act in Israel's place to destabilize the region.
"Such a policy transformation was impossible in the 1980s. However, through the long-term efforts of the American neoconservatives, that transformation would occur in the Bush II administration. The neocon advocacy of dramatically altering the Middle East status quo stood in stark contrast to the traditional American position of maintaining stability in the area - though it did, of course, mesh perfectly with the long-established Israeli goal of destabilizing its enemies...
"To reiterate... the 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..." (pp 44-57)
[NB: My 22/12/08 post on the neocons and Iraq, Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze, which also draws heavily on Sniegoski, covers similar territory to this one.]