The neoconservative movement, which is generally perceived as a radical (rather than “conservative”) Republican right, is, in reality, an intellectual movement born in the late 1960s in the pages of the monthly magazine Commentary, a media arm of the American Jewish Committee, which had replaced the Contemporary Jewish Record in 1945. The Forward, the oldest American Jewish weekly, wrote in a January 6th, 2006 article signed Gal Beckerman: “If there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it. It’s a thought one imagines most American Jews, overwhelmingly liberal, will find horrifying. And yet it is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants’ grandchildren”. The neoconservative apologist Murray Friedman explains that Jewish dominance within his movement by the inherent benevolence of Judaism, “the idea that Jews have been put on earth to make it a better, perhaps even a holy, place” (The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy, 2006).
Just as we speak of the “Christian Right” as a political force in the United States, we could also therefore speak of the neoconservatives as representing the “Jewish Right”. However, this characterization is problematic for three reasons. First, the neoconservatives are a relatively small group, although they have acquired considerable authority on and within Jewish representative organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. In 2003, journalist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times counted twenty-five members saying, “if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened”. The neoconservatives compensate for their small number by multiplying their Committees, Projects, and other think tanks, which certainly give them a kind of ubiquity.
Second, the neoconservatives of the first generation mostly came from the left, even the extreme Trotskyist left for some such as Irving Kristol, one of the main editors of Commentary. During the late 1960s the Commentary editorial staff begins to break with the liberal, pacifist left, which they suddenly find decadent. Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary from 1960 until his retirement in 1995, was a militant anti-Vietnam dissenter until 1967, but then in the 70s became a fervent advocate of an increased defense budget, bringing the journal along in his wake. In the 1980s, he opposed the policy of détente in his book The Present Danger: in the 1990s, he calls for the invasion of Iraq, and then again in the early 2000s. In 2007, while his son John Podhoretz was taking over as editor of Commentary, he asserted once again the urgency of a U.S. military attack, this time against Iran.
Third, unlike evangelical Christians who openly proclaim their unifying religious principles, neoconservatives do not display their Judaism. Whether they’d been Marxists or not, they appear mostly non-religious. It is well-know that their major influence is the philosophy of Leo Stauss, so much so that they are sometimes referred to as “the straussians”; Norman Podhoretz and his son John, Irving Kristol and his son William, Donald Kagan and his son Robert, Paul Wolfowitz, Adam Shulsky, to name just a few, all expressed their debt to Strauss. Leo Strauss, born to a family of German Orthodox Jews, was both pupil and collaborator of political theorist Carl Schmitt, himself a specialist of Thomas Hobbes and advocate of a “political theology” by which the State must appropriate the attributes of God. Schmitt was an admirer of Mussolini, and the legal counsel of the Third Reich. After the Reichstag fire in February 1933, it was Schmitt who provided the legal framework that justified the suspension of citizen rights and the establishment of the dictatorship. It was also Schmitt, in 1934, who personally obtained from the Rockefeller Foundation a grant for Leo Strauss to study Thomas Hobbes in London and Paris, and then finally end up teaching in Chicago.
The thinking of Leo Strauss is difficult to capture, and certainly beyond the purview of this work. Moreover, Strauss is often elliptic because he believes that Truth is harmful to the common man and the social order and should be reserved for superior minds. For this reason, Strauss rarely speaks in his own name, but rather expressed himself as a commentator on classical authors, in whom he discovers many of his own thoughts. Moreover, much like his disciples Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind, 1988) and Samuel Huntington, he is careful to clothe his most radical ideas in ostensibly humanist principles. Despite the apparent difficulty, three basic ideas can easily be extracted from his political philosophy, no different from Schmitt. First, nations derive their strength from their myths, which are necessary for government and governance. Second, national myths have no necessary relationship with historical reality: they are socio-cultural constructions that the State has a duty to disseminate. Third, to be effective, any national myth must be based on a clear distinction between good and evil; it derives its cohesive strength from the hatred of an enemy nation. As recognized by Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt in an article “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence” (1999), for Strauss, “deception is the norm in political life” – the rule they applied to fabricating the lie of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein when working inside the Office of Special Plans.
In his maturity, Strauss was a great admirer of Machiavelli, who he believes he understood better than anyone. In his Thoughts on Machiavelli, he parts from the intellectual trend of trying to rehabilitate the author of The Prince against the popular opinion regarding his work as immoral. Strauss recognizes the absolute immorality of Machiavelli, which he sees as the source of his revolutionary genius, “We are in sympathy with the simple opinion about Machiavelli, not only because it is wholesome, but above all because a failure to take that opinion seriously prevents one from doing justice to what is truly admirable in Machiavelli; the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech”. The thought of Machiavelli is so radical and pure, says Strauss, that its ultimate implications could not be spelled out: “Machiavelli does not go to the end of the road; the last part of the road must be travelled by the reader who understands what is omitted by the writer”. Strauss is the guide who can help his neoconservative students do that, for “to discover from [Strauss’] writings what he regarded as the truth is hard; it is not impossible”. This truth that Machiavelli and Strauss share is not a blinding light, but rather a black hole that only the philosopher can contemplate without turning into a beast: there is no afterlife, and neither good nor evil; therefore the ruling elite shaping the destiny of their nation need not worry about the salvation of their own souls. Hence Machiavelli, according to Strauss, is the perfect patriot.
Neoconservatism is essentially a modern Jewish version of Machiavelli’s political strategy. What characterizes the neoconservative movement is therefore not as much Judaism as a religious tradition, but rather Judaism as a political project, i.e. Zionism, by Machiavellian means. Note that, in an article in the Jewish World Review on June 7th, 1999, the neoconservative Michael Ledeen defends the thesis that Machiavelli was a crypto-Jew, as were at the time thousands of families nominally converted to Catholicism under threat of expulsion or death. “Listen to his political philosophy, and you will hear the Jewish music”, wrote Ledeen, citing in particular Machiavelli’s contempt for the nonviolent ethics of Jesus and his admiration for the pragmatism of Moses, who was able to kill countless men in the interests of enforcing his new law.
Obviously, if Zionism is synonymous with patriotism in Israel, it cannot be an acceptable label in American politics, where it would mean loyalty to a foreign power. This is why the neoconservatives do not represent themselves as Zionists on the American scene. Yet they do not hide it all together either. Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser in the administration of Bush’s son, wrote in his book Faith or Fear (1997): “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart — except in Israel — from the rest of the population”. It is hard to come up with a better definition of Zionism, the corollary of which is the apartheid practiced against non-Jewish peoples in Palestine, defended in the same year by Douglas Feith in his “Reflections on Liberalism, Democracy and Zionism”, pronounced in Jerusalem, defending the right of Israel to be an “ethnic nation”: “there is a place in the world for non-ethnic nations and there is a place for ethnic nations”.
If one is entitled to consider the neoconservatives as Zionists, it is especially in noting that their foreign policy choices have always coincided perfectly with the interests of Israel (as they see it). Israel’s interest has always been understood as dependent on two things: the immigration of Eastern Jews and the financial support of the Jews of the West (American and, to a lesser extent, European). Until 1967, the national interest pushed Israel toward the Soviet Union, while the support of American Jews remained quiet. The socialist and collectivist orientation of the Labor Party in power naturally inclined them in this direction, but Israel’s good relations with the USSR were primarily due to the fact that the mass immigration of Jews was only possible through the good will of the Kremlin. During the three years following the end of the British mandate on Palestine (1948), which had hitherto limited Jewish immigration out of consideration for the Arab population, two hundred thousand Polish Jewish refugees in the USSR were allowed to settle in Palestine, with others coming from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
The Six Day War was a decisive turning point: in 1967, Moscow protested against Israel’s annexation of new territories, broke diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv and stopped the emigration of its Jewish citizens, which had accelerated in the previous month. It is from this date that Commentary became, in the words of Benjamin Balint, “the contentious magazine that transformed the Jewish left into the neoconservative right”. The neoconservatives realized that, from that point, Israel’s survival – and its territorial expansion – depended on the support and protection of another super-power, the U.S. military, and concomitantly that their need for Jewish immigrants could only be fulfilled by the fall of communism. These two objectives converged in the deepening of military power of the United States. This is why Irving Kristol engaged the American Jewish Congress in 1973 to fight George McGovern’s proposal to reduce the military budget by 30%: “this is to drive a knife into the heart of Israel. [...] Jews don’t like a big military budget, but it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States. [...] American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel”. We now understand better what reality Kristol was referring to, when he famously defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality”.
In the late 60s, the neoconservatives support the militarist fringe of the Democratic Party, headed by Senator Henry Scoop Jackson, a supporter of the Vietnam War who challenged McGovern in the 1972 primaries. Richard Perle, parliamentary assistant to Jackson, wrote the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which made food aid to the Soviet Union conditional upon the free emigration of Jews. It is also within the office of Scoop Jackson that an alliance between the neoconservatives and the Rumsfeld-Cheney tandem will be forged, before Rumsfeld and Cheney took advantage of the Watergate scandal to join the Republican camp and infiltrate the White House. Perle placed his protégés Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pipes in Team B, whose report was published in Commentary. During the Carter period, neoconservatives allied with evangelical Christians, viscerally anti-communist and generally well disposed towards Israel, the foundation of which they see as a divine miracle foreshadowing the return of Christ. The contribution of the neoconservatives to the Reagan victory allowed them to work within the government to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel; in 1981, the two countries signed their first military pact, then embarked on several shared operations, some legal and others not so, as evidenced by the network of arms trafficking and paramilitary operations embedded within the Iran-Contra affair. Anti-communism and Zionism had become so linked in their common cause, that in 1982, in his book The Real Anti-Semitism in America, the director of the Anti-Defamation League Nathan Perlmutter could turn the pacifism of the “peacemakers of Vietnam vintage, [the] transmuters of swords into plowshares”, into a new form of anti-Semitism.
With the end of the Cold War, the national interest of Israel changed once again. Their primary objective became not the fall of communism, but rather the weakening of Israel’s enemies. Thus the neoconservatives underwent their second conversion, from anti-communism to Islamophobia, and created new think tanks such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) led by Richard Perle, the Middle East Forum led by Daniel Pipes (son of Richard), the Center for Security Policy (CSP) founded by Frank Gaffney, and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). President George H.W. Bush, however, cultivated friendships with Saudi Arabia and was not exactly a friend of Israel; he resisted in September of 1991 against an unprecedented pro-Israel lobbying campaign that called for $10 billion to help Jews immigrate from the former Soviet Union to Israel. He complained in a televised press conference on September 12th that “one thousand Jewish lobbyists are on Capitol Hill against little old me”, thereby causing Tom Dine, the Executive Director of AIPAC, to exclaim that “September 12, 1991, is a day that will live in infamy”. Bush also resisted the neoconservatives’ advice to invade Iraq after Operation Desert Storm. Finally, Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker was too receptive to Arab proposals throughout the Madrid Conference in November 1991; the neoconservatives, as a result, sabotaged Bush’s chances for a second term and supported Democrat Bill Clinton. After eight years of Clinton, they finally completed their victory by having Bush’s son George W. elected and forcing him into the second Iraq war.
During Clinton’s two terms, while the Madrid agreements were buried by the Oslo Accords negotiated directly with an overwhelmed Yasser Arafat, neoconservatives prepared their return with Rumsfeld and Cheney, and threw all their weight behind their ultimate think tank, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). William Kristol, son of Irving, also founded in 1995 a new magazine, The Weekly Standard, that immediately became the dominant voice of the neoconservatives thanks to funding from the pro-Israeli Rupert Murdoch. In 1997, it would be the first publication to call for a new war against Saddam Hussein. During the Clinton years, neoconservatives, although consulted by the White House, were not part of it. And so it is relevant to mention that, during this same time, the FBI was investigating an Israeli mole in the White House, who was allegedly using the code name “Mega” and enjoying privileged access to the Security Council. According to the investigator Gordon Thomas, quoted by the New York Post on March 5th1998, the FBI investigation was stopped when “Israel blackmailed President Clinton with private recordings of his steamy conversations with Monica Lewinsky”.
Speeches and mirrors
The 2007 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, shocked the American public by exposing the considerable influence of pro-Israel groups, the oldest of which being the Zionist Organization of America, and the most influential since the 70s, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The authors demonstrate that “the Lobby” has been the major force driving the United States into the Iraq war and, more generally, into a foreign policy that lacks coherence and morality in the Middle East. The authors’ thesis is yet incomplete because they leave absent the complementary role played from within State by the neoconservatives, who form the other arm of the pliers now holding the American foreign policy.
“We, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it”, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said to minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres on October 3, 2001, according to Israeli radio Kol Yisrael. His successor Benjamin Netanyahu proved it on May 24, 2011 by receiving 29 standing ovation by the American Congress, including at each of those sentences: “in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers” ; “No distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land” ; “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967” ; “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel”.
These two forces — the crypto-Zionists infiltrated in the government and the pro-Israel lobby — sometimes act in criminal conspiracy, as illustrated by the charge against Larry Franklin in 2005, who, as a member of the Office of Special Plans working under Douglas Feith, passed classified defense documents to two AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who in turn transmitted them to a senior official in Israel. Franklin was sentenced to thirteen years in prison (later reduced to ten years of house-arrest), while Rosen and Weissman were acquitted. Most neoconservatives are active members of the second most powerful lobby pro-Israel, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), of which Dick Cheney and Ahmed Chalabi are also members, among others responsible for instigating the Iraq invasion. JINSA was founded in 1976 by American army officers, intellectuals, and politicians, with one of its stated aims “to inform the American defense and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East”. Colin Powell, according to his biographer Karen DeYoung, privately rallied against this “separate little government” composed of “Wolfowitz, Libby, Feith, and Feith’s ‘Gestapo Office’”, which he also called “the JINSA crowd”.
In 2011, Powell’s former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson openly denounced the duplicity of neoconservatives such as David Wurmser and Douglas Feith, whom he considered like “card-carrying members of the Likud party. […] I often wondered if their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel. That was the thing that troubled me, because there was so much that they said and did that looked like it was more reflective of Israel’s interest than our own”. In fact, a significant number of neoconservatives are Israeli citizens, have family in Israel or have resided there themselves. Some are openly close to Likud, the nationalist party in power in Israel, and several have even been official advisors to Netanyahu; many are regularly praised for their work on behalf of Israel by the Israeli press. Paul Wolfowitz, for example, was nominated “Man of the Year” by the pro-Likud Jerusalem Post in 2003, and « the most hawkishly pro-Israel voice in the Administration » by the American Jewish daily newspaper The Forward.
The duplicity of the neoconservatives is brought to light by a document revealed in 2008 by authors such as James Petras and Stephen Sniegoski (see bibliography); it is a 1996 report by the Israeli think tank Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, sent to the new Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The team responsible for the report was led by Richard Perle, and included Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and his wife Meyrav Wurmser. Perle personally gave the report to Netanyahu on July 8th, 1996. The same year, the authors signed the founding manifesto of PNAC in the U.S., and four years later, they would be positioned in key posts of the U.S. military and U.S. foreign policy. As its title suggests, the report Clean Break invites Netanyahu to break with the Oslo Accords of 1993, which committed Israel to the return of the territories it occupied since 1967 and to retract illegal settlements. The new Prime minister should instead “engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism” and reaffirm Israel’s right over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: “Our claim to the land — to which we have clung for hope for 2,000 years — is legitimate and noble. […] Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, ‘peace for peace,’ is a solid basis for the future”. The authors of Clean Break therefore encourage Netanyahu to adopt a politics of territorial annexation, not only contrary to the official position of the United States and the United Nations, but also contrary to public commitments made by Israel. Even though he signed the “roadmap” intended to lead to an independent Palestinian State in September 1999, and maintained his position at the Camp David summit in July 2000, Netanyahu followed the advice of Clean Break and secretly worked to sabotage the process. During a private interview filmed without his knowledge in 2001, he bragged how he undercut the peace process: “I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders”. He also said: “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in our way.”
The recommendations to the Israeli government to sabotage the peace process in Palestine are presented by the authors of Clean Break as part of a larger plan to allow Israel to “shape its strategic environment”, by “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq”, weakening Syria and Lebanon, and finally Iran. When Perle, Feith and Wurmser moved to key positions in the U.S. government, they arranged for the United States to implement the program themselves, without Israel having to pay a single drop of blood. If there are differences between the Clean Break report written for the Israeli government in 1996 and the report Rebuilding America’s Defenses written by the same authors for the U.S. government in 2000, it is not in the program itself, but rather the argued reasons. First, Clean Break does not have Iraq as a threat, but as the weakest of the enemies of Israel, the least dangerous and the easiest to break. In a follow-up to Clean Break, entitled Coping with Crumbling States: A Western and Israeli Balance of Power Strategy for the Levant, Wurmser emphasizes the fragility of Middle East States, particularly Iraq: “the residual unity of the nation is an illusion projected by extreme repression of the state”. Thus the same action of first overthrowing Saddam is recommended to Israel and the United States, but for opposite reasons. The weakness of Iraq, which is the reason for Israel, does not constitute a valid reason for the United States; and so it was therefore necessary to present Iraq to the Americans as a mortal threat to their country. Netanyahu himself authored an article in the Wall Street Journal in September 2002, under the title “The Case for Toppling Saddam”, describing Saddam as “a dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, who has used these weapons of mass destruction against his subjects and his neighbors, and who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons”. Nothing of such a threat, however, is mentioned in Israeli internal documents, which also make no mention of any further connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, nor even Al-Qaeda in general. The perspective on Iraq in Clean Break was the realistic one, while the motives given America were pure propaganda: by the time American troops moved into Iraq, the country had been ruined by a decade of economic sanctions that had not only rendered its army powerless, but also destroyed its once exemplary education and health care systems, taking the lives, according to UNICEF, of half a million children.
The second fundamental difference between the strategy recommended for Israelis and the propaganda sold to the Americans: while the second highlights both the security interest of the United States, and the noble ideal to spread democracy in the Middle East, the first ignores these two themes. The changes proposed by the Clean Break authors are not expected to bring any benefit to the Arab world. Instead, the goal is clearly to weaken Israel’s enemies by sharpening ethnic, religious and territorial disputes between countries and within each country. After the fall of Saddam, foreseen in Coping with Crumbling States, Iraq would be “ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families”, for the benefit of Israel. Furthermore, it is not democracy that Clean Break recommended for Iraq, but rather restoring a pro-Western monarchy. Such an outcome would obviously be unacceptable to the Americans, but when Lewis Paul Bremer, as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2003, brought about the destruction of the military and civilian infrastructure in the name of “de-Bathification”, it was viewed as a success from the eyes of the Likud. Better still, by dissolving the army, Bremer indirectly created a disorganized pool of resistance of some 400,000 angry soldiers, ensuring chaos for a few years. Daniel Pipes had the gall to write, three years after the invasion of Iraq: “the benefits of eliminating Saddam’s rule must not be forgotten in the distress of not creating a successful new Iraq. Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition’s responsibility nor its burden”. And besides, he adds, “when Sunni terrorists target Shiites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one” (New York Sun, February 28, 2006). Under Bremer’s leadership, 9 billion dollars disappeared in fraud, corruption and embezzlement, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen, published January 30th, 2005.
In 2001, Lewis Paul Bremer was the chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism who appeared on NBC two hours after the “collapse” of the Twin Towers, to calmly explain that “Bin Laden […] has to be a prime suspect” and that “there are at least two States, Iran and Iraq, which should at least remain on the list as essential suspects”. When the reporter from NBC drew a predictable parallel between the attack and Pearl Harbor, Bremer confirmed: “It is the day that will change our lives. It is the day when the war that the terrorists declared on the US [...] has been brought home to the U.S.”
The difference between the neocons’ Israeli and American discourses finds its explanation in the Israeli document itself, which recommends Netanyahu present Israeli strategy “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war which apply well to Israel”; the Netanyahu government should “promote Western values and traditions. Such an approach […] will be well received in the United States”. The references to moral values are thus nothing more than tactics to mobilize the United States. Finally, while the authors of the Israeli report stressed the importance of winning the sympathy and support of the United States, they also declare that their strategy will ultimately free Israel from American pressure and influence: “such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of [United States] pressure used against it in the past”.
Passing off a threat against Israel as though it were a threat against the United States is a trick to which Netanyahu had no need to be converted; he has been employing it since the 1980s to rally Americans alongside Israel in the “international war on terrorism”, a concept which he can claim to have invented in his books International Terrorism: Challenge and Response (1982) and Terrorism: How the West can Win (1986). In their book An End to Evil (2003), Richard Perle and David Frum likewise work to embed the fears of Israelis into the minds of Americans; for example, they ardently urge Americans to “end this evil before it kills again and on a genocidal scale. There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or holocaust”. It is, however, impossible for anyone to be consistently hypocritical, and it happens eventually that neoconservatives recklessly open their thoughts to the public. This is what happened to Philip Zelikow, Counselor to Condoleezza Rice and Executive Director of the Commission on September 11, when, speaking about the Iraqi threat during a conference at the University of Virginia September 10, 2002, he let slip: “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is and actually has been since 1990: it’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell”. That’s really it in a nutshell: the United States must be led to make war with the enemies of Israel, and in order to that, Americans must be convinced that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies.
In addition, it is necessary that the Americans believe that these enemies hate their country for what it claims to represent (i.e. democracy, freedom, etc.), not because of its support for Israel. The signatories of the PNAC letter to President Bush on April 3rd, 2002 (including William Kristol, Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Robert Kagan, and James Woolsey) go as far as claiming that the Arab world hates Israel because it is a friend of the United States, rather than the reverse: “No one should doubt that the United States and Israel share a common enemy. We are both targets of what you have correctly called an “Axis of Evil.” Israel is targeted in part because it is our friend, and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles — American principles — in a sea of tyranny, intolerance, and hatred”. It is a well-known fact that America had no enemies in the Middle East before its covenant with Israel in the late 60s. On September 21st, 2001, the New York Post published an editorial by Netanyahu propagating the same historical falsification: “Today we are all Americans. […] For the bin Laden’s of the world, Israel is merely a sideshow. America is the target”. Three days later The New Republic responded with a headline on behalf of the Americans: “We are all Israelis now”. The post-9/11 propaganda has created a relationship fused by emotion. Wrongly, Americans have understood September 11th as an expression of hatred towards them from the Arab world and have thus experienced immediate sympathy for Israel, an emotional link neoconservatives exploit without limit; Paul Wolfowitz declared April 11th, 2002: “Since September 11th, we Americans have one thing more in common with Israelis. On that day America was attacked by suicide bombers. At that moment every American understood what it was like to live in Jerusalem, or Netanya or Haifa. And since September 11th, Americans now know why we must fight and win the war on terrorism”.
Questioned on September 11 about the event of the day by James Bennet for the New York Times, Netanyahu let go: “It’s very good […] it will generate immediate sympathy. […], strengthen the bond between our two peoples”. He confirmed it 8 years later, at Bar-Ilan University: “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq”, adding that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor”. (Ma’ariv, April 17, 2008).
One of the goals is to encourage Americans to view the oppression of the Palestinians as part of the fight against Islamic terrorism. As Robert Jensen said in the documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land by Sut Jhally et Bathsheba Ratzkoff (2004): “Since the Sept 11th attack on the US, Israel’s PR strategy has been to frame all Palestinian action, violent or not, as terrorism. To the extent that they can do that, they’ve repackaged an illegal military occupation as part of America’s war on terror”. On December 4th, 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon justified his brutality against the people of Gaza by claiming that Al-Qaeda had established a base there; but then on December 6th, the head of Palestinian Security Rashid Abu Shbak revealed in a press conference telephone banking traces proving that the secret services of Israel had themselves tried to create fake Al-Qaeda cells in the Gaza Strip, hoping to recruit Palestinians under the name of bin Laden. The recruits had received money and (defective) weapons and, after five months of indoctrination, were instructed to claim a future attack in Israel on behalf of “the Al-Qaeda group of Gaza”. Israeli services had intended, it seems, to mount an attack (whether real or false) against their own people and do so under the name of Al-Qaeda, in order to justify retaliation against Palestine.
In April 2003, a report titled Israeli Communications Priorities 2003, commissioned to the communications agency Luntz Research Companies & The Israel Project, by the Wexler Foundation, a Zionist organization specializing in cultural exchanges, offers linguistic recommendations to “to integrate and leverage history and communications for the benefit of Israel” with the American public. The document recommends, for example, to speak frequently of “Saddam Hussein” which are “the two words that tie Israel to America”, and “two of the most hated words in the English language right now”. “For a year — a SOLID YEAR — you should be invoking the name of Saddam Hussein and how Israel was always behind American effort to rid the world of this ruthless dictator and liberate their people”. The report also repeatedly suggests that a parallel between Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat needs to be established. By an ultimate sophistication, Michael Ledeen disputes in his book The War Against the Terror Masters (2003) the common idea that peace in Palestine is the condition for peace in the Middle East; the opposite, he claims, is true: “If we destroy the terror masters in Baghdad, Damascus, Tehran, and Riyadh, we might have a chance of brokering a durable peace [in Palestine]”.
The road to World War IV
Iraq was first on the list. Since the first Gulf war, neocons have been demonizing Saddam Hussein’s regime. David Wurmser, for example, published in 1999, after other islamophobic books, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein. In 2000, the American Enterprise Institute published Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America, whose author, Laurie Mylroie, expresses her debt to Scooter Libby, David Wurmser, John Bolton, Michael Ledeen, and above all Paul Wolfowitz and his wife Clare Wolfowitz, also member of AEI. Mylroie goes as far as accusing Saddam Hussein of being the mastermind of anti-American terrorism, blaming him (without proofs) for the 1993 bombing of the WTC, for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and for the attack against the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. What threatens the United States, according to her, is “an undercover war of terrorism, waged by Saddam Hussein,” itself “a phase in a conflict that began in August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and that has not ended”. Richard Perle described this book as “splendid and wholly convincing”.
Neoconservatives lost no time in exploiting against Iraq the trauma of 9/11 after creating it. As soon as September 19th , Richard Perle invited to join in a Defense Policy Board meeting neocons Paul Wolfowitz and Bernard Lewis (inventor before Huntington of the self-fulfilling prophecy of the “Clash of Civilizations”), but neither Colin Powell nor Condoleezza Rice. The assembly agreed to overthrow Saddam Hussein as soon as the initial phase of the Afghanistan war is over. In a letter to President Bush written under the letterhead of PNAC, they reminded President Bush of his historical mission: “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism”. The argument of a link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda is here toned down and, in the summer of 2002, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will simply evoke “broad linkages”. Perle, however, kept claiming, against all evidence, that supposed 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta had met with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir in Prague in 1999. On September 8th, 2002 in Milan, Perle even made up a scoop for the Italian newspaper Il Sole : “Mohammed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad prior to September 11. We have proof of that”.
Rumors of a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda were finally traded for a more elaborate casus belli : Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. To force this new lie onto the American State Department and public opinion, Cheney et Rumsfeld renewed their winning strategy of Team B, consisting in overtaking the CIA through a parallel team of pseudo-experts, to produce the terrifying report they needed: this will be the Office of Special Plans (OSP), established within the Near East and South Asia (NESA) [Center for Strategic Studies] of the Pentagon, under the control of neocons William Luti, Abram Shulsky, Douglas Feith, and Paul Wolfowitz. Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked for NESA at that time, testified in 2004 of the incompetence of OSP members, whom she saw “usurp measured and carefully considered assessments, and through suppression and distortion of intelligence analysis promulgate what were in fact falsehoods to both Congress and the executive office of the president. [...] This was creatively produced propaganda”.
On February 5th, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell engages his reputation in convincing the General Assembly of the United Nations that Saddam Hussein’s WMDs pose a threat to the world. He will later regret his speech, calling it “a blot on my record”, and claiming to have been deceived himself.
Just as some neoconservatives see the failure of U.S. forces in Iraq as a pretext to threaten Iran, others find the failure to recover Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” a pretext to accuse Syria. In 2003, they passed on the ridiculous allegations of Ariel Sharon, who said that Iraq had secretly transferred their WMDs to Syria, along with their nuclear scientists. On November 11th, 2003, Congress passed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, imposing economic sanctions intended “to halt Syrian support for terrorism, end its occupation of Lebanon, [and] stop its development of weapons of mass destruction”. The aggression against Syria didn’t begin until 2011, under the guise of a civil war, but it had been premeditated since at least February 2000, when David Wurmser, in an article for the American Enterprise Institute entitled “Let’s Defeat Syria, Not Appease It” was calling for a conflict through which “Syria will slowly bleed to death”.
Since September 2001, Iran has also been placed in the cross-hairs of the neoconservatives. They seem to echo the sentiments of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, in the London Times on November 2nd, 2002 called Iran the “center of world terror” and called for threats against Iran “the day after the U.S. invades Iraq”. The failure of U.S. troops to silence the resistance in Iraq forced the postponement of the attack on Iran. But Daniel Pipes took the bad news in good spirits, cheerfully stating in the New York Sun (February 28th, 2006) that the Iraqi civil war will invite “Syrian and Iranian participation, hastening the possibility of an American confrontation with those two states”. In spring 2008, President Bush publicly took up this new neoconservative chorus: “The regime of Teheran has a choice to make. […] If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners”. We should remember that in May 2003, through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, the Iranian government sent to Washington a proposal known as the “Grand Bargain”, which, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, promised cooperation with the United States to stabilize Iraq and to establish there a secular democracy, and was prepared to make further concessions, including peace with Israel. Bush and Cheney, however, prevented Powell from responding positively to the gesture. And therefore, summarized his Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson: “the secret cabal got what it wanted: no negotiations with Tehran”.
In parallel to this kind of diplomatic obstinacy, false pretenses of war have been regularly created. We know from Gwenyth Todd, advisor on the Middle East linked to the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf, that after being barely appointed commander of the fleet in 2007, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff ordered his aircraft carriers and other ships into aggressive maneuvers in order to strike panic into the Iranians, hoping for a shot fired that would allow them to engage in war for which the pro-Israel lobby was eagerly waiting. Cosgriff wanted to “put a virtual armada, unannounced, on Iran’s doorstep”, without even informing Washington, according to the Washington Post, August 21st, 2012. On January 6th, 2008, the Pentagon announced that Iranian boats fired on American ships USS Hooper and USS Port Royal on patrol in the Strait of Hormuz, while broadcasting threatening messages such as: “I am coming to you”, and “you will explode after two minutes”. The television showed one of the Iranian boats dumping small white objects into the water, presenting the situation as one of hostility, as though the white objects were mines. Referring to this exceptionally “provocative and dramatic” incident, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen expressed concern about “the threat posed by Iran”, including “the threat of mining those straits”, and affirmed his willingness to use “deadly force” if necessary. In reality, the situation presented by the media and Mullen was completely untrue. The Iranian boats that patrolled the area and often passed American ships on a daily basis, had issued no threat whatsoever. Vice Admiral Cosgriff admitted that American crews had, in fact, noted that there was nothing to worry about, since the Iranian boats carried “neither anti-ship missiles nor torpedoes”. Nor did the threatening radio messages come from these vessels: “We don’t know for sure where they came from”, admitted the spokesman for the Fifth Fleet Lydia Robertson.
The 2009 Iranian elections and the ensuing protests in Tehran presented an occasion for a new tactic of psychological warfare, this time using Internet-based social networks and relayed by the American media. Within a few days, the death of a young woman that took place during the protests was appropriated as a horrifying symbol of the kind of oppression taking place in the Islamic regime. Neda Agha-Soltan was killed June 20th, 2009 by a sniper from the paramilitary, while exiting her car with her music teacher. A video of her agony and death, filmed live by mobile phone, was transmitted instantly around the world on Facebook and YouTube. Several rallies were held around the world in her honor. There was talk of her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Her fiancé, a photographer named Caspian Makan, meets Shimon Peres in Israel and says: “I come to Israel as an ambassador of the Iranian people, a messenger of peace”, adding, “I have no doubt that the spirit and soul of Neda was with us during the presidential meeting”. Unfortunately, there emerge blatant inconsistencies: 1. There are actually three videos of Neda’s agaonizing death, which resemble several “takes” of the same scene. 2. A BBC interview with the doctor who attended her death is full of contradictions. 3. The autopsy concluded that Neda was killed at point blank range. 4. Finally, the face that became a global icon is actually that of another young girl, Neda Soltani. Many surmised that Neda Agha-Soltan, an apprentice actress, agreed to act her own death in exchange for a promising career abroad, but was shot for real immediately after.
Finally, Iran is indicted, since the beginning of the first Bush presidency, for its civilian nuclear research program, claims being made that it is only a front for secret military operations. The 2005 publication of a first National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report was the subject of intense media attention regarding Iran and its supposed interests; though its revision in 2007 should have calmed what were alarming implications from the 2005 version, it was largely ignored, as was the fact that religious leaders of Iran, begun by Ayatollah Khomeini, had issued several fatwa banning nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, nothing is mentioned regarding the illegal Israeli program that operates still unacknowledged, one that has allowed Israel to stockpile an estimated 200 atomic bombs to date.
Among the countries targeted by the neocons after 9/11, we must not forget to mention the two best allies of the U.S. in the Middle East, which is proof that the neocons do not have U.S. interests at heart. The plan to accuse and threaten Saudi Arabia was clearly built in the 9/11 false flag scenario, as is evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden and 15 out his 19 highjakers were Saudis. David Wurmser first opened fire in the Weekly Standard with an article titled “The Saudi Connection”, pretending that the Saudi royal family was behind the attack. The Hudson Institute had long been preparing the ground by violently denouncing all the sins (real and imaginary) of the Saudi dynasty, under the lead of its co-founder Max Singer (today director of research at the Institute for Zionist Strategies in Jerusalem). In June 2002, the Institute sponsored a seminar called “Discourses on Democracy: Saudi Arabia, Friend or Foe?”, where all answers pointed to foe as the right answer. A special event honored the publication of the book Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism, by the Israeli Dore Gold, once an advisor to Netanyahu and Sharon and an ambassador to the United Nations. On July 10th, 2002, neocon Laurent Murawiec, of the Hudson Institute and Committee on the Present Danger, was invited to speak before Richard Perle’s Defense Policy Board to explain that Saudi Arabia represented “the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent”, and to recommend that the U.S. army invade it, occupy it and dismember it. He summarized his “Grand Strategy for the Middle East” by these words: “Iraq is the tactical pivot. Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot. Egypt the prize”.
The neocons provided, in fact, the original inspiration of the soft challenge to the 9/11 official story, which admits the responsibility of Al Qaeda but points to links between the Bushes, the Saudis, and the bin Ladens. In their 2003 book, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, Richard Perle and and David Frum (Bush’s speech-writer) write that “The Saudis qualify for their own membership in the axis of evil”, and ask President Bush to “tell the truth about Saudi Arabia”, meaning that Saudi princes finance Al Qaeda. To understand the absurdity of such a claim, let us recall that Osama, who called the Saudi princes traitors to Islam for tolerating U.S. military bases since the Gulf war, was stripped of his Saudi nationality in 1994 and banned from the bin Laden clan. In a Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places, published in 1996, bin Laden called for the overthrow of the Saudi dynasty and, in 1998, he admitted his role in the 1995 bombing of the National Guard headquarters in Riyad. Osama is the sworn enemy of the Saudis. It is unthinkable that the Saudis would have conspired with Osama bin Laden. [...]
Bin Laden is a multi-use patsy. Blaming him for 9/11 made it possible to threaten and blackmail Saudi Arabia, but also Pakistan, another U.S. ally. For if the Taliban are behind bin Laden, Pakistan is behind the Taliban. No official accusation was made against Pakistan, but General Ahmed Mahmud, director of ISI (Pakistan’s CIA) was implicated by information leaked from India (an ally to Israel, against their common enemy Pakistan), by the The Times of India on October 9th, 2001: “US authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohamed Atta from Pakistan by [ISI agent] Ahmed Omar Saïd Sheikh at the insistance of General Mahmud”. Since Mohamed Atta is nothing but a patsy in this whole affair, the information can only be interpreted as a way to blackmail the ISI and Pakistan into supporting the official 9/11 story and collaborating with the U.S. to destroy the Taliban. If the ISI did pay Atta for some reason, then Atta’s name was picked as ringleader of the terrorists precisely for that reason, as a lever against Pakistan. Mahmud, who had travelled often to Washington since 1999, was there precisely between September 4 and 11, 2001. He allegedly met George Tenet, Director of the CIA, Marc Grossman, Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and perhaps Condoleezza Rice (who denies). At the moment of the attacks, he was at a breakfast meeting including Bob Graham, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Porter Goss, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; “We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated from Afghanistan”, said Graham, who with Goss will be appointed to the 9/11 Commission.
The fake assassination of bin Laden (or assassination of fake bin Laden) in May 2011 in Pakistan is another proof that the 9/11 master plotters intended to keep maximum pressure on Pakistan. It allowed accusing Pakistan, after Afghanistan, of having welcomed and protected bin Laden for 10 years, which constitutes in the eyes of Americans real treason and a cause for war. Several books are written in this vein, such as Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad by ex-CIA Bruce Riedel. According to Riedel, bin Laden’s quiet life in a suburb of Abbotabad suggest “an astonishing degree of duplicity” on the part of Pakistan, who might well be “the secret patron of global jihad on a scale almost too dangerous to conceive. We would need to rethink our entire relationship with Pakistan and our understanding of its strategic motives”.
All these wars and threats of wars under false pretexts in the wake of 9/11 betray a desire to inflame conflicts in the Middle East rather than to control resources, let alone encourage stability. Michael Ledeen himself declares in his article “The War on Terror will not end in Baghdad” in the Wall Street Journal, on September 4th, 2002: “We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia: we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize”.
What could be the motivation for these incessant accusations and two-faced policies? It’s not simply a mindless killing spree, and is rather a project designed by a group of exceptionally intelligent men, under a particular rationality with precise and realistic goals — but to what purpose? Osama bin Laden replied to this question in an article published by the London Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi on February 23rd, 1998 (partially translated by Bernard Lewis in Foreign Affairs, November-December 1998). Referring to “the Crusader-Jewish alliance”, bin Laden speaks of “their attempts to dismember all the states of the region, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Sudan, into petty states, whose division and weakness would ensure the survival of Israel”. Indeed, it appears that a Zionist cabal is interested in a new kind of world war, one that would weaken and fragment all the enemies of Israel for decades to come, putting it in a position to surpass even the United States, who would be ruined by their ruthless military spending (just like the USSR in the 80s) and hated across the globe. Little, it would seem, stands in the way of the final phase of the Zionist plan: a thorough ethnic cleansing and the annexation of the whole of Palestine. Not without some irony, the neoconservative Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Saud, from Tradition to Terror (2003), attributed to Saudi Arabia a plan that would spread terror throughout the world (while recognizing Saudi Arabia “incapable of defending its own territory”) and blamed Islam for the emergence of a World War whose bloody unfolding will mean: “The war against terrorist Wahhabism is therefore a war to the death, as the second world war was a war to the death against fascism”.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal dated November 20th, 2001, the neoconservative Eliot Cohen speaks about the war against terrorism as “World War IV”, a framing soon echoed by other neoconservatives. In September 2004, at a conference in Washington attended by neoconservatives Norman Podhoretz and Paul Wolfowitz entitled “World War IV: Why We Fight, Whom We Fight, How We Fight”, Cohen said: “The enemy in this war is not ‘terrorism’ […] but militant Islam”. Like the Cold War (considered to be a third world war), this Fourth World War, as seen prophetically by Cohen, has ideological roots, will have global implications and will last a long time, involving a whole range of conflicts. The rhetorical device of this “fourth” global conflict has also been popularized by Norman Podhoretz, in “How to Win World War IV” published in Commentary in February 2002, followed by a second article in September 2004, “World War IV: How It Started , What It Means, and Why We Have to Win”, and finally in 2007 in a book called “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”.
The Bible and the Empire
Clearly, the strategists of Likud and their neoconservative allies intend to forge their legacy as those who waged and won the global annihilation of the Islamic civilization. How does one account for such hubris? One explanation lies in the very nature of the State of Israel and the leadership role held by its military since day one, not unlike the American National Security State. David Ben Gurion, who combined the functions of Prime Minister and Defense Minister, saw the whole fate of Israel integrally intertwined with its failure or success in the defeat of an Arab enemy: “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: […] we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out” (Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox: A Personal Memoir, 1978). Thus, circumstances decree that Israel is and will be a security state.
It is, of course, also a colonizing state. Even when Levi Eshkol replaced Ben Gurion in 1963 as Prime Minister, his government could not oppose the military’s will of annexing new territories, as Ariel Sharon revealed to journalist Ze’ev Schiff shortly after the Six Days War: “We could have locked the ministers in the room and gone off with the key. We would have taken the appropriate decisions and no one would have known that the events taking place were the result of decisions by major generals” (Ha’aretz, June 1st, 2007).
Sharon is the man who, in the eyes of Israel and the world, most aptly embodies the spirit of the Israeli military and its security apparatus. He commanded Unit 101, which, on October 14th, 1953 razed the village of Qibya, Jordan, with dynamite, killing 69 civilians in their homes. In 1956, during the Suez Canal crisis, a unit under his command executed more than 200 Egyptian prisoners and Sudanese civilians. In 1971, charged with putting an end to ongoing resistance in the Gaza Strip, his troops killed more than 100 Palestinian civilians. And in September 1982, acting as the Minister of Defense, he launched the invasion of Lebanon, where, after his [overseeing the] slaughter of refugees in two Palestinian camps in West Beirut he was given the nickname, “the butcher of Sabra and Chatila”. The Prime Minister at that time was Menachem Begin, once the leader of the Irgun terrorist militia, who coordinated both the attack on the King David Hotel in 1946, and the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948.
Begin, Sharon and Netanyahu’s Likud have never stopped campaigning for a Greater Israel and against a proposed Palestinian state. While Foreign Minister to Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999, Sharon described the Oslo Accords as “national suicide” and rather advocated the “biblical borders”, thereby encouraging illegal settlements: “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours” he said on November 15th, 1998. When he came to power in February 2001, with Netanyahu in turn becoming Foreign Minister, Sharon deliberately sabotaged the peace process and set off the second intifada through a series of calculated provocations. When on March 28th, 2001, 22 nations gathered in Beirut under the auspices of the Arab League and agreed to recognize Israel if it only complied with Resolution 242, the next day, the Israeli army invaded and besieged Yasser Arafat in his headquarters in Ramallah. Six months later, September 11th brought the fatal blow to any hope of peace.
The Likud and its political allies among religious extremists are not merely opposed to the secession of Palestine; they are driven by an almost imperial vision of Israel’s destiny. In December 1981, Ariel Sharon expressed in a speech for the Institute for Strategic Affairs at Tel Aviv University: “Beyond the Arab countries in the Middle East and on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, we must expand the field of Israel’s strategic and security concerns in the eighties to include countries like Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and areas like the Persian Gulf and Africa, and in particular the countries of North and Central Africa” (as translated from Hebrew in the Journal of Palestine Studies). This speech will be canceled at the last minute because of the controversy over the annexation of the Syrian territories at Golan Heights, but it will be published shortly after the in daily Ma’ariv. This “Sharon doctrine” is found in a number of Hebrew texts, translated and published by the dissident Israel Shahak in Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies (1997). In an essay entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the Eighties” written for the World Zionist Organization in February 1982, Oded Yinon, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, put forward a strategy to exert control over the Middle East through the fragmentation of Israel’s neighbors, beginning with Lebanon: “The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Arab peninsula, in a similar fashion. The dissolution of Egypt and later Iraq into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is the main long-range objective of Israel on the Eastern Front. The present military weakening of these states is the short-term objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and sectarian structure, as is happening in Lebanon today.”
The ideology behind Likud’s strategy and its neoconservative allies is an intransigent version of Zionism. Zionism, as its name suggests (Zion is the name given to Jerusalem 152 times in the Hebrew Bible), is before anything else a biblical dream, shaped by the biblically defined borders of Eretz Israel. “The Bible is our mandate”, proclaimed Chaim Weisman, the future first President of Israel, at the Versailles Conference in 1919. In Germany in the late 19th century, the biblical notion of a “chosen people” was translated by the founding fathers of Zionism into a racial ideology, correlative and in competition with the fantastical dream of a superior pan-Germanic Aryan race. Zionism, like Nazism, opposed the assimilationist trend of the majority of German Jews. Zeev Jabotinsky wrote in 1923, two years before Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “A Jew raised in the midst of Germans can certainly adopt German customs and speak the German language. He can become totally immersed in this German milieu, but he will always be a Jew, because his blood, his body and his racial type, his entire organic system, is Jewish”. We now know that these kinds of claims are categorically unscientific: Israeli settlers from Eastern Europe can not claim any biological descent from among the ancient Hebrews in Judea or Samaria, unlike the Palestinians they’ve evicted from their ancestral lands, and perhaps the Sephardic Jews from North Africa, once called “human garbage” by the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and submitted to eugenic policies in the 1950s (Haim Malka, Selection and Discrimination in the Aliya and Absorption of Moroccan and North African Jewry, 1948-1956, 1998).
The Zionism of Zev Jabotinsky is as important a key as the Machiavellianism of Leo Strauss in decrypting the mentality of the men who, in Israel and in the United States, are trying to reshape the Middle East. It is, at least, a key to understand the ultimate goals of Benjamin Netanyahu, whose father, Ben Zion Netanyahu (born Mileikowsky in Warsaw), was the personal secretary of Jabotinsky. March 31st, 2009, Netanyahu appointed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, from the Yisrael Beiteinu party that presents itself as “a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the brave path of Zev Jabotinsky”. Lieberman is intent upon, “fighting Hamas just as the United States fought the Japanese during the Second World War”.
Zionism has outlived Nazism because, after the war, it was able to shamelessly capitalize on the terrible persecution of Jews in Europe and usurp the representation of the Jewish community. To do that, it had to force the forgetting of its active involvement with the Nazi regime in the 30s, which then saw the immigration of Jews to Palestine as the “solution to the Jewish problem” (see Lenni Brenner’s 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis, 2009). The pervasive legitimacy of Zionism has also relied heavily upon its biblical roots. Despite being agnostic, David Ben Gurion (born Grün), was indoctrinated by the biblical story, to the point of adopting the name of a Judean general who fought the Romans; “There can be no worthwhile political or military education about Israel without profound knowledge of the Bible”, he is quoted stating (Dan Kurzman, Ben-Gurion, Prophet of fire, 1984). While envisioning an attack against Egypt in 1948, he wrote in his diary: “This will be our revenge for what they did to our ancestors in Biblical times” (Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2008). The planned ethnic cleansing by Ben Gurion in 1947-48, which forced the fleeing of 750,000 Palestinians (more than half of the native population), was deeply reminiscent of that which was ordained by Yahweh against the Canaanites: “dispossess them of their towns and houses” (Deuteronomy 19:1), and, in the towns that resist, do “not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deuteronomy 20:16-17).
This dream instilled by the biblical God to His chosen people is not only racist, it is also militarist and imperialist. These verses from the second chapter of Isaiah (reproduced in Micah 4:1-3) are often held up to show the pacifist trend of the biblical prophecy: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4); but taken in context, we see that this Pax Judaica will come only when “all the nations shall flow” to the Jerusalem temple, from where “shall go forth the law” (Isaiah 2:1-3). This vision of a new world order with Jerusalem at its center resonates within the Likudnik and neoconservative circles. At the Jerusalem Summit, held from October 12th to 14th, 2003 in the symbolically significant King David Hotel, an alliance was forged between Zionist Jews and Evangelical Christians around a “theopolitical” project, one that would consider Israel, according to the “Jerusalem Declaration” published on the official website of the Summit, “the key to the harmony of civilizations”, replacing the United Nations that’s become a “a tribalized confederation hijacked by Third World dictatorships”: “Jerusalem’s spiritual and historical importance endows it with a special authority to become a center of world’s unity. [...] We believe that one of the objectives of Israel’s divinely-inspired rebirth is to make it the center of the new unity of the nations, which will lead to an era of peace and prosperity, foretold by the Prophets”. Three acting Israeli ministers spoke at the summit, including Benjamin Netanyahu, and Richard Perle, the guest of honor, received on this occasion the Henry Scoop Jackson Prize.
Jerusalem’s dream empire is expected to come through the nightmare of world war. The prophet Zechariah, often cited on Zionist forums, predicted that the Lord will fight “all nations” allied against Israel. In a single day, the whole earth will become a desert, with the exception of Jerusalem, who “shall remain aloft upon its site” (14:10). Zechariah seems to envision what God could do with nuclear weapons: “And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will smite all the peoples that waged war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths” (14:12). It is only after the carnage that the world will finally find peace, providing their worship of “the Lord Almighty”: “Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain upon them…” (14:16-17)
Is it possible that this biblical dream, mixed with the neo-Machiavellianism of Leo Strauss and the militarism of Likud, is what is quietly animating an exceptionally determined and organized ultra-Zionist clan? General Wesley Clark testified on numerous occasions before the cameras, that one month after September 11th, 2001 a general from the Pentagon showed him a memo from neoconservative strategists “that describes how we’re gonna take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan and finishing off with Iran”. Is it just a coincidence that the “seven nations” doomed to be destroyed by Israel form part of the biblical myths instilled in Israeli schoolchildren? According to Deuteronomy, when Yahweh will deliver Israel “seven nations greater and mightier than yourself […] you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them. You shall not make marriages with them…” (7:1-2). “And he will give their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name perish from under heaven” (7:24).
Laurent Guyénot – Engineer (National School of Advanced Technology, 1982) and medievalist (PhD in Medieval Studies at Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2009). He has authored numerous books on the subject. He has dedicated the past three years to studying the behind-the-scenes history of the United States, where he lived for five years.
Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, one of the biggest promoters of the Iraq war in American journalism, was anxious to share this news today:
ISIS seizes Saddam’s formerly nonexistent chemical weapons: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/iraq-says-terrorists-seize-chemical-weapons-site …
The link goes to an AP story with this news:
Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim… singled out the capture of bunkers 13 and 41 in the sprawling complex, which according to a 2004 U.N. report also contained the toxic agent sodium cyanide, which is a precursor for the chemical warfare agent tabun, and artillery shells contaminated with mustard gas.
It was unclear from Goldberg’s tweet alone whether this was simply a stupid joke — or whether Goldberg genuinely believed this shows we’ve discovered Saddam’s hidden stockpile of chemical weapons, thus proving George W. Bush (and Jeffrey Goldberg) right at long last.
However, Goldberg then retweeted three other people (this, this and this) who seem to believe it was the latter; i.e., that we’ve now learned Iraq did have WMD. So apparently Goldberg believes this as well.
Here’s what’s actually going on:
Al Muthanna was a large Iraqi production facility for chemical weapons in the 1980s, and was heavily bombed during the 1991 Gulf War. After the Gulf War Iraq was required to declare all its chemical weapons to the UN and hand them over for destruction, and al Muthanna became the main collection and destruction site. According to the CIA’s 2004 Iraq Survey Group report, “30,000 pieces of ordnance, 480,000 liters of chemical agents, and more than 2 million liters of chemical precursors” were incinerated or neutralized there.
So why were there any materials left in bunkers 13 and 41 (the ones mentioned today by Iraq)? First, because bunker 13 was damaged by the Gulf War bombing, making it too dangerous to remove the chemical weapons inside; and second, because the UN needed a place to put various kinds of contaminated materials (drained shells, equipment from the incinerator, etc.) that was difficult to destroy, and bunker 41 had not been bombed, so they stuck it all in there.
Then the UN did this:
Bunker #13 and # 41 were closed by sealing all entrances before the end of CDG [Chemical Destruction Group] mission. Each seal consisted of two brick walls with a 5cm layer of tar between them. Then a third brick wall at a distance of one metre from the second wall was built and the space between them was filled with reinforced concrete. Altogether, such a seal was over 1.5 m thick. The hole in the roof of the bunker #13 was also sealed with reinforced concrete.
So yes, there were still chemical weapons in Iraq when we invaded in 2003. But no, today’s news doesn’t prove “Iraq had WMD.” Everyone on earth had known what was in these bunkers for 20 years, and Saddam had no way of accessing it.
Moreover, even if Saddam had gotten his hands on it everything had likely decayed so quickly that by the mid-nineties or earlier it would have been useless. By now it’s certainly more of a danger to ISIS than anyone else, and then probably only if they drink it.
All of this information is available to anyone with an internet connection and the slightest interest in this subject. That apparently does not include Jeffrey “I’ve Had My Entire Cerebrum Removed” Goldberg.
ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) increased its grip on “Wilayat al-Raqqa”, the capital of the Islamic State. It is setting the foundation of its rule through courts, resolving disputes between civilians, and social committees serving the “Muslims” inside the borders of the province. This is in addition to using an iron fist policy against anyone daring to “destabilize the security of the Islamic State.”
The bus trip from Beirut to the city al-Raqqa is around 12 hours. Three years ago, it barely took half the time. Young Syrian workers are looking forward to seeing their families.
Mohammed Abdullah, who has a degree in economics, works as an accountant in one of Beirut’s suburbs. This is his first visit in two years. He knew about the situation in the area from communicating with family and friends, as well as from the social media.
Mohammed described his trip to his hometown to Al-Akhbar, after being absent for two years: “ISIS elements welcomed us at the first checkpoint. The Saudi dialect was strongly present. They made sure there were no soldiers among the travelers and that women wore the niqab.”
Only a short distance separates the Syrian army and National Defense Forces checkpoint, on one hand, and the former al-Nusra Front position, currently occupied by ISIS. However, all communication is cut off as soon as a person crosses into the governorate’s administrative borders.
“Inside the city, the signs of destruction are obvious on some government buildings and homes,” Mohammed added.
Cars in the district run on manually refined crude oil derivatives. Nobody remembers the last time regular fuel arrived from the port at Tartous.
Mohammed said he was worried about telling the taxi driver his home address. “Shall I say, take me to Martyr Bassel al-Assad highway? And if I said take me to Colonel Hussein Harmoush Street, renamed by the Free Syrian Army, would he know it?
The taxi driver noticed the young man’s confusion and asked several questions about Mohammed’s route. “What’s wrong? You could have said you wanted to go to Bassel street. No worries. Get in. I will take you there,” the driver replied.
FSA brigades and civil society activists tried to change street names in Raqqa. Tal Abyad Street, the city’s most popular, was renamed after martyr Ali al-Babinsi. However, people keep using the old name. In any case, very few people know its official name in city records, which is al-Qunaytirah Road.
Martyr Basel al-Assad Street was turned into Colonel Hussein Harmoush Street and al-Jalaa or “Clock” Roundabout became Freedom Square. “Mr. President Square” is now Martyrs’ Square, but people on both sides call it after the nearby fire station.
Civil society activists had also painted some of the city’s statues with the colors of the “revolutionary flag.” However, ISIS removed the “flag of infidels” and raised its banners everywhere.
At night, Raqqa’s residents like to walk around the quiet streets or sit at cafes. There is no armed presence or news about thefts or violations. Cigarettes and alcohol are smuggled into the city and sold at double their price.
Alaa Jubran, a resident of Raqqa who was there on a recent visit, told Al-Akhbar, “Street vendors do not occupy the city’s sidewalks anymore. ISIS established a popular market in the city center. It was equipped to include the vendors and traveling salesmen, banning them from using the streets.”
ISIS transferred the busy Friday market next to Raqqa’s old wall, a historical site, and moved moved market day to Thursday so it would not distract people from attending Friday prayers in the mosque.
It also created a consumer protection office and imposed monthly payments on commercial establishments, in return for sanitation, electricity, water, and phone services. At a later stage, this will be extended to civilians to ensure the continuity of services.
Two signs in particular are hanging in shop windows. “Sisters, please do not remove the niqab inside the shop,” said one. The other announced that “work stops 10 minutes before prayers.” Prayer rooms were established in public venues and streets become almost empty before prayer times, save for ISIS’ patrols.
However, Mohammed could not hide his admiration of ISIS’ policies inside the province, although they have been keeping his brother in custody for months. He praised its gunmen, “who returned what they could of items stolen from public buildings by FSA fighters.”
The Islamist Traffic Police is on every street and market, wearing the same uniform, conducting traffic, and issuing tickets. Inside official buildings and facilities, the staff is committed to serving the citizens. Emergency vehicles of the water and electricity departments are rushing to fix problems all the time.
On the other hand, the recently created Islamic Services Authority supervises state institutions. The Accounts Bureau monitors the markets, sales operations, applying sharia, and holding violators accountable.
The official weekend is now on Thursday and Friday. Residents of Raqqa are trying to cope with the new realities. “They became weary of the state of instability they passed through in the preceding nine months. They were always afraid of sudden clashes between the brigades. But now there is only one ruler,” Mohammed explained.
“The situation in Raqqa is not perfect, but it is much better today,” Alaa added. “People lost hope in the FSA, whose fighters fled after stealing city property and seizing archaeological artifacts, bank holdings, and cotton and wheat crops.”
“Civilians only want to live in peace, regardless of the ruler, ISIS, the Syrian regime, or al-Nusra Front. People demand to be allowed to return to the quiet life they had in their city,” he concluded.
On Wednesday, June 25th, the Financial Times published an essay by Francis Fukuyama. He is the famed US political scientist, a “neoconservative” apostate and author of The End of History and the Last Man in 1992. The title of his op-ed is “ISIS risks distracting US from more menacing foes”. I first read it in the middle of the night on my “smartphone” and found it confusing. What was the writer getting at? I did not notice the byline. Then I did, and was less confused. Fukuyama is conflicted and his ideas are sometimes contradictory. So you factor that in. No problem. He has had a checkered past, but haven’t we all?
Fukuyama started out as a “neoconservative” during the Reagan Presidency, working alongside such disturbing characters as Paul Wolfowitz and I. Scooter Libby, who were later to become famous, wild-eyed propagandists in the G.W. Bush Administration, aka the Cheney Regency. In the aftermath of 9/11, Fukuyama–like all true blue Neocons and “liberal interventionists”–promoted the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq on bogus grounds. The purported aim was to depose Saddam Hussein and install “democracy” in his place.
You may recall that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and possessed no WMD at the time of those attacks. There were no al-Qaeda, no terrorism, and no terrorists inside Iraq prior to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Later, when the occupational phase of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” became an instant fiasco–and the whole rotten enterprise was revealed to be a scam based upon breathtaking lies emanating from the very top–Fukuyama broke with his fellow Neocons. He became a critic of the Regency and the Neocons, and has since then taken a more nuanced approach to world affairs.
Although he no longer communicates with Dr. Paul “Mass Destruction” Wolfowitz, Fukuyama was on the steering committee of the legal defense fund for I. Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and top “national security” adviser, when Libby got mixed up in the Regent’s campaign to smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of CIA agent Valerie Plame whose undercover assignment was WMD. Wilson had the temerity to point out in a July 2003 New York Times op-ed that Iraq had not, in fact, imported “yellow cake” uranium from Niger to build an A-bomb. Ergo, there was no mushroom cloud on the horizon. Ergo, Dick Cheney’s biggest WMD whopper was clarified and exposed to the light of day. At that point Fukuyama must have figured that his friend Libby, the factotum, was falling on his sword for his all-powerful boss, and deserved a break.
Like most big-picture essays, especially those aimed at the general public, Fukuyama’s present effort in the FT is predicated upon hallowed and widely accepted assumptions about American history and America’s place in the world. Many of these assumptions are dubious, fictive and, in some cases, ridiculous. Accordingly, Fukuyama’s conclusions are necessarily suspect. Since he is a savant, he should know better. Perhaps he does know better, but has not the time nor the inclination to correct the authorized version of history and current events. It might upset certain people or further confuse them. Better to embrace the received, conventional wisdom, and use it whenever possible to advance one’s own ideas.
Fukuyama’s first mistake, in my view, is taking the foreign policy pronouncements of Barack Obama seriously, at face value, and worthy of analysis. Certainly at this stage, it does not matter what Obama says. In truth, it never has. Yes, I realize that Obama presides over the lone surviving superpower, but this outlandish circumstance by itself is a red flag and requires that all issues relating to US foreign policy be considered with a jaundiced eye. White House credibility in world affairs is shot, and has been shot for decades. Dishonesty and wholesale deception did not start with Barack Obama. He has simply continued the trend, and taken it to the next level, like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did before him.
What the current occupant of the White House brings to the table is salesmanship and fantasies. Obama is a master at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Whatever sounds good, go with it. He’s a talker. I recall in particular his 2008 US presidential campaign sortie through Israel and Europe, and especially his enraptured, grandiose speech at Tiergarten Park Berlin on July 24th of that year. That speech boils down to flapdoodle, and its messianic quality is all the more remarkable, because Obama was still a private citizen. The day before, his idealism ran in a different direction. He was shamelessly pandering to Ariel Sharon’s successor, PM Ehud Olmert, in Tel Aviv, while giving the Palestinians short shrift and the shaft. John McCain had performed a similar routine four months previously.
In the article in question, Fukuyama critiques Obama’s recent commencement address at West Point on May 28th. The White House hyped it as a major foreign policy speech. It fell flat with Fukuyama. He calls Obama’s approach “wrong-headed”. Too much concern about terrorism and the Middle East and not enough focus on the authentic “menacing foes”–Russia and China. He states, “The extremism of ISIS will in the end prove self-defeating. By contrast, allies the US is sworn to defend are now threatened by industrialized nations with sophisticated militaries.” Say what?!
Fukuyama appears to imply that America needs real enemies to confront, not phantoms. Yet it was a phantom threat that he and his cohorts were hot to confront when it came to Saddam Hussein. The blowback from that misadventure is incalculable. Fukuyama goes on to conclude, “The poles established by the neoconservatives on the one hand and isolationists on the other present false choices. Real strategy always has to lie somewhere in between.” In sum, Fukuyama does not want Washington to get sidetracked. Hmm. May I humbly suggest that the US has been hopelessly sidetracked for at least a century.
Fukuyama begins by paying homage to World War II, which global bloodbath remains the primary justification for all US foreign policy initiatives since 1945. It is the holy grail for the Neocons, along with their flamboyant hero, Winston Churchill. It is key to the modern-day, bipartisan attitude of American exceptionalism. Colonel Andrew Bacevich makes the central importance of the Second World War clear in a recent fascinating interview with Bill Moyers.
Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power, does not fault America’s entry and success in the Second World War, but he does deplore the use to which it has been put to empower a host of ill-advised US foreign policy adventures in the aftermath. My problem, on the other hand, is with the Second World War itself and with its progenitor, the Great War of 1914-18. If we accept them as sacrosanct, legitimate undertakings by Washington, then we lend credence to the myth of American exceptionalism, which has turned out to be a dangerous, self-destructive idea.
Consider an alternative narrative in which America’s entry into both world wars was unnecessary, ill-advised, and brought about by chicanery in service to a private agenda. The idea of American exceptionalism began with Woodrow Wilson, not with creepy neoconservative ideologues. Wilson ran for a second term in 1916 on the slogan, “He kept us out of war!” Yet, Wilson appears to have already decided to join England on the western front in France. Washington’s official neutrality was a sham from the start. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in protest to Wilson’s hypocrisy in June 1915.
In the background, English propaganda was beating the drums to drag America into the war. America’s official entry into the Great War in April 1917 meant that the British Empire was saved from near-certain defeat at the hands of the German army and the Central Powers. It meant the rise of fascism and the success of communism in Russia. It meant the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the execution of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine. It meant, inevitably, a second European conflict on a grander scale, caused by the injustices of the first conflict, as embodied in the Paris peace treaty. In short, it was a ghastly blunder.
Did Wilson make the right decision? In hindsight, absolutely not. He deceived the American people in 1916, and was then taken to the cleaners by Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau at the Paris peace conference in 1919. He then suffered a nervous breakdown, then a stroke, and died a broken man. Did Franklin Roosevelt act wisely when he hectored England, France and Poland in the summer of 1939 not to negotiate with Germany over Danzig, thereby assuring the outbreak of a European war? Probably not. He acted recklessly. Did Roosevelt do the right thing by provoking the Empire of Japan to attack US armed forces in the Pacific in 1941 so that he could jump into the war in Europe, a war he felt responsible for instigating behind the scenes? Again, no. His conduct can easily be regarded as treason. It was certainly deceitful.
We can’t unwind history, of course, but we can see its consequences, set the record straight, and not live in a dream world. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, these were not unselfish wars to make the world safe for democracy. That was a cover story. These were wars for economic advantage on the part of Washington and London, and were fought to maintain the prestige of the near-bankrupt British Empire–and then replace it with the American empire. They were at variance with the dictum delivered by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1821 that America, “… goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
Fukuyama assumes, instead, that both global wars of the twentieth century were non-fraudulent and for a good cause, on which foundation Washington has built a better world. This is the conventional view. He believes the struggle to improve humanity should continue in the aftermath of the Cold War. He takes it for granted that the US is entitled–as the indispensable and exceptional nation–to intervene everywhere on earth at its discretion, and has a responsibility plus the resources to do so. To imagine otherwise is isolationism. This vagary constitutes in large measure the mindset of Washington’s foreign policy establishment. It is delusional and grounded in hubris.
Overlaying this Wilsonian mistake is the self-evident, post Cold War fact that Washington–the White House, the Senate, the Congress and both political parties–have, for all intents and purposes, been hijacked by agents of the Israel Lobby, to wit, the Neocons and their “liberal interventionist” fellow travelers. It is a perfect storm. We are witnessing the bloody results today in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine. The fake nuclear crisis with Iran is another dangerous byproduct. Humanity has not profited thereby. Now Fukuyama proposes what amounts to a new crusade against Russia and China, leaving the “war on terror” behind. Alas, he appears not to be joking.
PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer. He graduated from Columbia University, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.
Copyright 2014 Patrick Foy.
Iraq is in turmoil – with ISIS controlling large areas of the country – but the truth is that it’s been in turmoil since the illegal 2003 invasion.
Iraq post-invasion had become the greatest non-news story of the modern era. The people who could not stop talking about Iraq in 2002/3 and telling how much they cared about ordinary Iraqis were strangely silent. Instead they were devoting their energies into propagandizing for another Middle Eastern military ‘intervention’, this time against Syria.
Now that Iraq is back in the western news headlines again, with calls for ‘intervention’ to counter ISIS, it’s worth bearing in mind what the architects of the Iraq war and the cheerleaders for it said in the lead up and during the invasion about the ‘threat’ from Saddam’s WMDs and how toppling a secular dictator would help the so-called ‘war on terror’ and bring peace and security to the region.
Do we really want to take these people’s advice on what ‘we’ should do now in Iraq? Up to a million people have been killed since the illegal invasion and as critics predicted at the time, the war led to enormous chaos and instability and boosted radical Islamic extremism. By their own words, let the warmongers be damned.
“He (Saddam) is probably the most dangerous individual in the world today.
Interviewer: Capable of?
Capable of anything. Capable of using weapons of mass destruction against the United States, capable of launching other military maneuvers as soon as he thinks he can get away with it…”
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid-October 2001
The threat is very real and it is a threat not just to America or the international community but to Britain.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 7th September 2002
And every indication we have is that he (Saddam) is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.
Benjamin Netanyahu, (then former Israeli Prime Minister) testifies to Congress, 12th September 2002
The document discloses that his (Saddam’s) military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.
Tony Blair foreword to the infamous ‘dodgy dossier’: ‘Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, The Assessment of the British Government, (24th September 2002
The evidence produced in the Government’s report shows clearly that Iraq is still pursuing its weapons of mass destruction programme…The Government dossier confirms that Iraq is self-sufficient in biological weapons and that the Iraq military is ready to deploy these and chemical weapons at some 45 minutes’ notice’
British Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan-Smith, 24th September 2002.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.
US President George W. Bush, State of the Union address 28th January 2003.
For Churchill, this apotheosis came in 1940; for Tony Blair, it will come when Iraq is successfully invaded and hundreds of weapons of mass destruction are unearthed from where they have been hidden by Saddam’s henchmen.”
Andrew Roberts, British neo-con historian, February 2003.
He (Saddam) claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighbourhoods
Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, Press conference, 12th March 2003.
We are asked now seriously to accept that in the last few years—contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence—Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.
Tony Blair, House of Commons, 18th March 2003.
But if we leave Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, after 12 years of defiance there is a considerable risk that one day these weapons will fall into the wrong hands and put many more lives at risk than will be lost in overthrowing Saddam.
Former US President Bill Clinton in article, ‘Trust Tony’s Judgement’, 18th March 2003.
Saddam Hussein is there- and he’s a dictator and he has weapons of mass destruction and are you going to do something about it or not?
William Kristol, neo-con pundit, chair of The Project for the New American Century and editor of the Weekly Standard, as quoted on BBC Panorama Programme, The War Party, broadcast May 2003.
And when the WMDs did not turn up?
Interviewer: Is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?
Not at all…We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Donald Rumsfeld, US Defense Secretary, 30th March 2003
Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction I suggest they wait a little bit. I remain confident they will be found.
Tony Blair, 28th April 2003.
Saddam and the war on terror
There can be no victory in the war against terrorism if, at the end of it, Saddam Hussein is still in power
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid-October 2001
Interviewer: If we go into Iraq and we take down Hussein?
Then I think it’s over for the terrorists.
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, mid October 2001.
I have certainly made up my mind, as indeed any sensible person would that the region in the world, most of all the people of Iraq, would be in a far better position without Saddam Hussein… It will be far better if he was not leading Iraq; the whole of the world would be safer if that were the case.
Tony Blair, television interview, May 2002
If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.
Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing Congress, 12th September 2002
We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade…We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.
George W. Bush, 7 October 2002.
Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction.
George W. Bush, 7th October 2002.
The idea that this action (war vs Iraq) would become a recruiting sergeant for others to come to the colours of those who are “anti” any nation in the west is, I am afraid, nonsense. The biggest recruiting sergeant of all has been indecision, and the failure to take action to show that such resolve matters.
Iain Duncan-Smith, 18th March 2003
A bad bet
I feel no doubt that he (Saddam) has stockpiled some of the most vile weapons known to man. They include nuclear material. Saddam wants to dominate the Middle East, he wants to terrorise the world.. I would lay my life savings in a bet that information will emerge which proves Iraq helped al-Qaeda in the orchestration of September 11.
Ex-SAS Major Peter Ratcliffe, in the interview with the pro-war British newspaper The Sun, 4th April 2002.
Economic benefits of the war
The greatest thing to come of this to the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in any country.
Pro-war media mogul Rupert Murdoch, interview with The Bulletin magazine, February 2003
The new Hitler
Saddam is no Bismarck. He is more a Hitler. As his fate closed in, Hitler dreamt of terrible weapons. Saddam has done more than dream. He already possesses biological weaponry, including botulinum and anthrax. He does not yet have a missile system which could deliver a biological attack, but hideous damage could be inflicted by a single suicide agent with a suitcase.
Pro-war commentator Bruce Anderson, July 2002
A majority of decent and well-meaning people said there was no need to confront Hitler and that those who did were war-mongers..
Tony Blair, 28th February 2003.
What a wonderful, magnificent, emotional occasion – one that will live in legend like the fall of the Bastille, V-E Day, or the fall of the Berlin Wall….. All those smart Europeans who ridiculed George Bush and denigrated his idea that there was actually a better future for the Iraqi people – they will now have to think again…Thank God for Tony Blair and those other European leaders who defied the axis of complacency
William Shawcross, Wall Street Journal, 10th April 2003 on the toppling of the statue of Saddam.
A senior Iraqi military commander says Kurdish Peshmerga forces have seized heavy weapons and military equipment in Kirkuk governorate.
Lieutenant Abdul Amir al-Zaidi said on Sunday that the Kurdish forces attacked military bases and disrupted the security situation in Diyala and Kirkuk.
This comes after the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Friday that the KRG will not return the oil-rich hub of Kirkuk to Baghdad.
Masoud Barzani’s comments sparked angry reactions from some Iraqi politicians who warned of an armed conflict with the Kurds in the near future. Also, some lawmakers have accused the Kurdish forces of having relations with Israel.
Kurdish security forces took control of Kirkuk after Iraqi troops entered a battle with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) earlier this month.
The latest developments come as tensions rise between the Kurdistan’s regional leaders and the central government in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government has repeatedly slammed the Kurdistan region for exporting oil without Baghdad’s consent.
Baghdad says it has the sole right to export the country’s crude, but the Kurds say they are entitled to market the resources of their own region
The regional government has recently used a pipeline to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan for crude oil exports.
A spokesman for the regional government says the money has been deposited in Turkey’s Halkbank.
Most refineries are reluctant to get involved in the trade which the Iraqi central government has called smuggling.
Baghdad has also opened arbitration against Turkey for allowing and facilitating the sales and has threatened to pursue buyers.
Citing the “collapse” of Iraq amid the ISIS insurgency and sectarian violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the de-facto independence of Iraqi Kurds. Netanyahu has also called to support the “Kurdish aspiration for independence.”
The hawkish Israeli leader said on Sunday that Kurds are “fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence,” Reuters reported.
Speaking to Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank, Netanyahu described the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general as a “collapse,” due to strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Amid the recent insurgency of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) militants, Kurds have seized the opportunity to bring a long-sought independent state of Kurdistan closer to reality. Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces have been guarding their provincial borders from ISIS, but also seized the contested Iraqi city of Kirkuk, proclaiming it part of their territory.
Now, in an apparent clash against the international community’s support of a united Iraq, the Israeli leader has called to back the de-facto independence of Kurds.
“We should… support the Kurdish aspiration for independence,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
While the Iraqi army struggles to contain the ISIS advance in the country’s northwest, the Kurds have been successful at heading off the Sunni insurgents. Israel has now openly stated that an independent Kurdish state is a “foregone conclusion.”
“Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told US Secretary of State John Kerry as the two discussed the Iraqi crisis in Paris on Thursday.
Israeli President Shimon Peres had a similar message for US President Barack Obama. “The Kurds have, de facto, created their own state, which is democratic. One of the signs of a democracy is the granting of equality to women,” Peres said on Wednesday.
While forces from the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) were advancing towards the capital Baghdad, the Iraqi army abandoned the city of Kirkuk. The Kurds have seized on the chaos to expand their autonomous northern territory to include the strategic city.
Besides being considered by Kurds as their historical capital, Kirkuk sits on vast oil deposits – a stable financial base for any possible statehood.
“Kirkuk will finally produce oil for the Kurds,” Muhama Khalil, the Kurdish head of the economic committee in Iraq’s national parliament, told the Guardian.
“For 70 years oil has been used to buy weapons to kill us. Finally we have our own oil and it will only be for the Kurds,” he said.
The Kurds now control the oil hub, and there were numerous reports that they sold a tanker full of oil to Israel – a country that their Arab neighbors maintain a boycott of crude sales to.
Israel keeps quiet about its ties with the Kurds, allegedly at the request of the latter. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said there were currently no formal diplomatic relations with the Kurds, but Eliezer Tsafrir – a former Mossad station chief in Kurdish northern Iraq – told Reuters that “we’d love it to be out in the open, to have an embassy there, to have normal relations. But we keep it clandestine because that’s what they want.”
The Israelis may see the Kurds as a natural ally in the Arab-dominated region where both feel they are threatened minorities.
In an interview to CNN, Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani also commented on the possibility of an independent state, saying that “The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.”
In a reverse to decades of mistrust, the Kurds might find another country supporting their independence – Turkey. It now has a 50-year deal to send Kurdish oil by pipeline to Ceyhan and has been investing in Iraq’s increasingly autonomous Kurdish region in recent years.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for the Kurds’ right to self-determination. “The Kurds of Iraq can decide for themselves the name and type of entity they are living in,” Erdogan said last week.
Meanwhile, the US urges Kurdish leaders to support Baghdad in its fight against ISIS. Washington also assured the Kurds they would participate in the next Iraqi government.
For thousands of years, the majority of Kurds – who are an Iranian people – have lived in the Kurdistan region, an area along the border of four Middle Eastern countries. Now the Kurdish population is scattered between northern Iraq, eastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and western Iran. They total up to 40 million people – making the Kurds one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without its own state.
Jean Bricmont’s powerful book Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War , written during the occupation of Iraq, is a timely historical critique of Western interventionism, one worth examining as the United States of America moves once more in the direction of military entanglement in Iraq. Bricmont, a Belgian theoretical physicist and professor at The Université catholique de Louvain, discusses the ideological factors which legitimize military action in response to humanitarian abuses and “in defense of democracy” (p. 7). — “This is the discourse and the representation that must be challenged in order to build a radical and self-confident opposition to current and future wars.” The humanitarian rationales offered under the banner of there being “a responsibility to protect” have only increased since the end of World War II, and methods to reinforce such motivations have grown progressively coercive.
Bricmont introduces a formula which will come to define “humanitarian imperialism:” when A exercises power over B, he does so for B’s “own good” (p. 11). This is the creed of philanthropic power — which peddles and rationalizes war as a column maintaining international order — and which continues to define the very nature of international conflict post-World War II. Interventionism is no longer argued as being warranted in the name of Christianity, Bricmont argues, but what he calls ideological reinforcements: democracy and human rights. For example, despite former US President George W. Bush’s frequent use of religious imagery, the call to invade Iraq was not only drenched in chilling white saviourism but an overwhelming exceptionalism which contends that only military efforts led by the United States of America would bring about a just liberation and lasting stability for the people of Iraq. “[T]he dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace,” George W. Bush stated in 2003. “We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.”
The horrors inflicted upon the people of Iraq are still understated, and since 2003 the bloodshed has not stopped. When Obama delivered his speech in 2011 celebrating the US military withdrawal, there were bombings and shootings in Baghdad, in Mosul, in Kirkuk and in Tal Afer. While the Iraqi people were preparing burial shrouds Obama was reaffirming the previous administration’s claims that the US left for the Iraqi people a stable country, had forged a lasting peace and made the world more secure. Amongst the congratulatory frill and repugnant nationalism Obama did make one salient point — that the US legacy in Iraq will endure and that it shall be remembered. The legacy of this tragic and implacable war will live on in the wombs of Iraqi women who bear children with congenital birth defects as a result of depleted uranium; the riddled bodies of those now suffering from cancer due to the toxic munitions used by the US military and finally in the land of Iraq, which has been devoured and polluted by the chemical weapons the US unleashed during its occupation.
Bricmont does not neglect to stress the deliberation and mercilessly skillful care taken by the US in the implementation of sanctions against Iraq, quoting Marc Bossuyt on this “silent genocide” (p. 24), former Belgian Constitutional Court judge and current member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague:
The sanctions against Iraq has as its clear purpose the deliberate infliction on the Iraqi people of conditions of life (lack of adequate food,medicines, etc.) calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. It does not matter that this deliberate physical destruction has as its ostensible objective the security of the region.
Bossuyt further explained that not only were the sanctioning bodies responsible but that they could not be acquitted from the charge of having the “intent to destroy the Iraqi people.” The callousness of the sanctions were most illustrated by the words of then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who defended the deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children in 1996 during an interview with Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes. When she was confronted with a question by Stahl, who cited the half a million dead children, Albright smoothly responded: “I think this is a very hard choice but the price-we think the price is worth it.”
The practice of humanitarian imperialism is not confined to the Middle East and North Africa and Bricmont’s analysis covers much of its breadth. The US involvement in the 1954 coup d’état in Guatemala for example is one of many historical events covered which “is an exemplary illustration of the real existing “defense of democracy” as it has been practiced by the United States” writes Bricmont (p. 26). The characterization of this “defense of democracy” is what is one of the most valuable components of this text as it applies to much of how the US military industrial complex functions, and it includes the following points, as developed by Bricmont:
- A paranoid attitude on the part of the superpower toward the slightest challenge.
- Demonization of adversaries. In those days, it was enough to call the victim a “communist.” Later, the label became “terrorist.” In any case, demonization prevents their side of the story from being taken into consideration.
- Media conformism: U.S. media relay the official U.S. government version of events without serious investigation; opposing views are dismissed as absurd.
- Total disregard for international law.
What transpires after the arguments for war are challenged and when claims, like in the case of Iraq, that there exist “weapons of mass destruction,” one of the reasons for the military invasion, are disproven? Bricmont provides us with the argument that is then posed to anti-interventionists who ask why the US cannot then simply “pull out:”
Because, we are told, it is now necessary to “stabilize” Iraq, to “construct democracy” there, etc. As a result, even if it is true that many organizations and intellectuals who defend human rights were initially opposed to the war, they have found themselves more or less obliged to support the ongoing war of occupation until the situation is “stabilized.”
Stabilization takes priority and defence of human rights begins to dwindle once the foreign military occupation ebbs and, above all else, once interests are met. Even now as whispers calling for more US involvement in Iraq grow into shouts the Obama administration has managed to receive immunity for security forces, a “necessary assurance” which protects the US from prosecution in Iraqi courts, denying the people of Iraq even the opportunity to seek justice. And yet the US left a sovereign and capable nation, is that not what we are told? And if so, what does the Obama administration fear, that US war crimes may face the judge’s gavel?
The US has been the direct cause of much of the calamities that have ravaged Iraq — the pangs of the US sanctions, which lasted from 1990 until 2003, continue to torment and fragment the land between the two rivers. The hurdle of immunity in Iraq is one that has been faced by the Obama administration before. When the US abandoned plans to keep “several thousand” troops in Iraq it came after Iraqi leaders refused to grant them immunity from Iraqi courts, and Commander in Chief Obama would rather the US military be shielded from prosecution and withdraw than face Iraq’s judicial system for crimes against the Iraqi people. This is the manner in which intervention devastates — it reintroduces former disparities and attempts to destroy for those under occupation and in the sight of imperial powers any existing components of their self-determination, which includes their right to bring their tormentors to justice. The Obama administration had promised “no troops on the ground” in Iraq and has sent 300 “military advisors” and 275 soldiers to protect the US embassy in Baghdad, despite there already being “a few hundred” troops working as “uniformed personnel” with the same legal protections provided to embassy workers. These troops, even if they range in the hundreds, are but a paltry issue in comparison to the formidable presence of the US aircraft carrier, cruiser and destroyer which have made their way into the Persian Gulf, and the US army installations, comprised of 4 active US bases, in neighboring Kuwait. Further US involvement in Iraq is not a troubling possibility, it is horrifying reality. This is where, once again, the “guilt factor” creeps into the discourse. We are told that “we must support X against Y” and that the only way to do so is militarily and that only our superior military outfits are capable of dressing the open wounds (that our previous military interventions caused).
The US is arguing for the use of airstrikes — The Obama administration is seeking to quiet the bloodshed with arms and pundits are once again nodding in approval. If we are to follow this flawed contention then where does this interventionism end? Will there be annual interventions until Iraq is “stable” enough and will the cycle of pin-the-blame-on-the-dictator (and not our humanitarian intervention) continue? How is the US authorized to intervene when it has already proven itself incapable of exiting the international stage without trails of blood being left behind? What Iraq needs now, and what Iraq has always needed, is unity and reconciliation, not a permanent cycle of war facilitated by foreign bodies. Those who make war profitable and who otherize human life itself cannot lecture the world on stability and freedom, nor can they implement “democracy” by way of the bullet or “precision” airstrikes.
This brings us to Libya, and though this book was written well before the military offensive in Libya, Bricmont has discussed the subject in relation to his book both before and after the killing of Gaddafi. The sole purpose of an army, writes Bricmont (p. 31), is to defend its own country — or to attack another — And even if the latter is deemed legitimate it can never be humanitarian as everything about an army is to serve these aims. In an interview with Belgian writer Michele Collon, before the killing of Gaddafi, Bricmont is asked about the intervention in Libya, specifically as to whether or not the leftist parties who defended the no-fly zone are mistaken in supporting military involvement.
His response cut to the bone of the matter — An intervention would strengthen what he calls the “barricade effect” wherein countries that are within the reach of the US will begin to feel threatened and will then as a result “seek to increase their armaments.” Along with the barricade effect such interventions also open up the doors for others, and so what is to stop any other nation to interfere elsewhere? And once there is intervention then the likelihood of a civil war becomes more probable. In Libya there was the ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and now many are arguing that the state is on the verge of a civil war as the chaos, much like in Iraq, has not paused.
It is often asked “if military intervention is not the answer, then what is? The answer? Peaceful solutions such as negotiations and cooperative diplomatic efforts, much of which the US and its allies have intentionally circumvented time and time again, should be the primary focus (p. 66):
There is a world of difference between intervention and cooperation. Unlike intervention, cooperation is carried out with the agreement of the host government. Few governments in the Third World reject cooperation if it is sincere. With so much misery in the world it is hard to imagine a situation in which, for a given expenditure of money and effort, cooperation would not save more human lives than intervention.
Bricmont’s book ends with a confident and almost poetic closing, despite the heart-wrenching subject on which the entire text is based:
All those who prefer peace to power, and happiness to glory, should thank the colonized peoples for their civilizing mission. By liberating themselves, they made Europeans more modest, less racist, and more human. Let us hope that the process continues and that the Americans are obliged to follow the same course. When one’s own cause is unjust, defeat can be liberating.
The struggle against neocolonialism shall define the 21 century according to Bricmont, but what we build after the chaos shall define us and shall become our legacy. And so as time moves forward and the bloodshed continues in much of the world, and as the US once again has Iraq in its sights, let us aim for peaceful resolutions rather than military interventions.
The United States is considering whether to bomb ISIS, a jihadist Frankenstein of Washington’s own making, whose breathtaking offensive in northern Iraq threatens the survival of the Shiite-dominated regime. Many on the Left surmise that U.S. intelligence is the evil genius behind the ISIS-led Sunni seizure of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and a string of population centers stretching towards Baghdad, as well as the Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk, the oil center on the edge of de-facto autonomous Kurdistan. However, such an assessment posits the U.S. and its European, Turkish, Israeli and monarchist Arab allies as masters of the universe, fully in charge, when in reality, they operate from a position of profound political and moral weakness in the region – which has led to dependence on jihadists. And, the jihadists know it.
It is true that the U.S. has been the great enabler of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), its al Qaida-inspired rival Jabhat al-Nusra, and the smaller Islamist outfits that have been arrayed against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the last three years. (As even the New York Times admits, all of the significant armed opposition in Syria consider themselves Islamist warriors of one kind or another.) But, too often, western leftists assume the jihadists are merely wind-me-up robots that can be pointed at designated targets, and then turned on or off or put on hold at the CIA’s whim, as if they have no ideology and agency of their own, but exist for the convenience of Empire.
In the real world, the U.S. can only point armed takfiris in directions they already want to go: at secular opponents like Muammar Gaddafi or a Shiite-dominated (Alawite) government in Damascus (and, in decades gone by, at atheistic Soviets in Afghanistan). But, when the means are available and the time is right, by their reckoning, they will pursue their own objectives, such as establishing a caliphate in Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria and waging endless war against Shiites wherever they find them – which is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s reason for being. To assume, as some do, that the ISIS-led blitzkrieg in northern Iraq is part of a grand U.S. plan, is to dismiss jihadists as a genuine indigenous presence in the region, as well as to minimize country-wide Sunni grievances against the Shiite regime, which has called forth a kind of Sunni united front against Baghdad.
It also assumes the U.S. has decided it has no further use for a viable Iraqi state, with or without already semi-independent Kurdistan, and that Washington would rather create conditions that would risk further solidifying Shiite Iraq’s ties to Iran, thus creating an even larger oil giant outside the sphere of U.S. hegemony. It assumes that the U.S. would purposely create a situation in which it might be compelled to deal with Iran as an equal player in a zone of great economic and political importance – a prospect that looms, as we write.
There is no question that the United States, like the European colonizers, has often pursued a general strategy to break up states (whose boundaries they often imposed, in the first place), so as to better manipulate them, and that this was an active option for Washington in Iraq in the early years of occupation. However, this does not mean that miniaturizing states is the holy grail of imperialism, under all circumstances. The truth is, the U.S. got as good a deal as it could have expected in Iraq, under circumstances of defeat– which is why George Bush agreed to the principle of total withdrawal by the end of 2011. The U.S. hung on to influence in Iraq, through the corrupt and sectarian al-Maliki government, by the skin of its teeth. (Remember that there was significant Shiite sentiment to cut all ties to Washington, in the person and militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, who launched two uprisings and called for a common front with Sunnis against the American occupiers.) U.S. policymakers are not the brightest people in the world, but rolling the dice in Iraq – where ‘craps’ could leave the U.S. in a far worse position – is simply not worth the risk at this time.
Indeed, the ISIS offensive, in which all the jihadist savageries of Syria (and Libya before it) are replayed in yet another theater of U.S.-subsidized war, presents such grave contradictions for U.S. policy in Syria as to hasten its collapse on that front.
How can the U.S. bomb ISIS jihadists in Iraq and not bomb them in Syria (along with al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and all the other takfiris, now that the Free Syrian Army mirage has vanished)?
As a superpower, the U.S. always has options (“all options are on the table”), but that doesn’t mean any of them are good – and it certainly does not mean that every desperate option that Washington avails itself of is part of the grand plan. The U.S. has relied on jihadists in the region, especially since the so-called Arab Spring, not because it wanted to, but because they were the only foot soldiers available to reassert Euro-American and Gulf potentates’ power. Without the jihadists, the imperialists could only bomb Gaddafi and sanction Assad – but on behalf of whom? An armed “opposition” had to be created on the ground, which only the Salafists could effectively provide. The wholesale unleashing of the jihadist dogs of war was a sign of profound imperial weakness in the Arab world, where the U.S. is hated with a kinetic intensity and the monarchs shiver at the thought of what their own people would like to do to them – and what the jihadists will do to them, if the young warriors are not exported and kept busy.
Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with Pakistan, spent billions to create an international jihadist network that had not previously existed, to bedevil the Soviets in Afghanistan. The U.S. did not invent Salafists, Wahhabism and takfiris; they are indigenous to various Muslim cultures. However, their incorporation into the imperialist armory gave this most reactionary brand of Islamic fundamentalism a global presence, capability and vision. It behaves like a form of nationalism – much like the old, secular Arab nationalism of the Fifties and Sixties, only from the Muslim Right. No respecter of borders, it seeks to unite, protect and wage war on behalf of, the “Ummah” – the “community” or “nation” of believers. As a nationalist-like current, it is inherently incompatible with U.S.-led imperialism, and will also inevitably turn on the paymasters in the obscenely corrupt Gulf monarchies. (The half a billion dollars ISIS seized from Mosul banks will surely hasten the process.)
The jihadists cannot be controlled by their imperial enablers – as the U.S. ambassador to Libya learned, in his last moments – not reliably, in the short term, and not at all in the long term. The contradictions of the relationship are now acute, the unraveling has begun, and the U.S. has no substitute for the services the jihadists provided to Empire.
So, yes, the ISIS-led offensive in Iraq is a horrific crisis for the peoples of the region, another descent into Hell. But it is also a crisis for U.S. imperialism, whose options diminish by the day.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
The Soaring Profits of the Military – Industrial Complex And the Soaring Costs of Military Casualties
The launch of two major wars by the US government had two major beneficiaries, one domestic and one foreign. The three major weapons manufacturers, Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOG) and Raytheon (RTN) have delivered record-shattering returns to investors, CEOs and investment banks during the past decade and a half.
The Israeli regime has expanded its territory and increased its power and influence in the Middle East. Israel’s territorial dispossession of Palestinians, was aided and abetted by the US invasion and destruction of the Palestinian’s Iraqi allies. Washington destroyed Iraq’s armed forces and fragmented its society and state.
The cost in US physical and mental casualties runs in the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who at one time served in the war zones. The financial costs run in the trillions of dollars and counting. Both the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel power configuration continue to wield a major role in keeping Washington on a wartime footing.
For the weapons manufactures there are no peaceful economic activities that can yield a comparable return – hence the need to continue to pressure for new wars to sustain weapons spending. For the pro-Israel power configuration, peace agreements would put an end to land grabs, reduce or curtail new weapons transfers and undermine pretexts to sanction or bomb countries (like Iran) opposing Tel Aviv’s vision of “Greater Israel”.
Yet the political and financial costs of almost a decade and a half of warfare weigh heavily on the US Treasury and electorate. The wars themselves were dismal failures if not outright defeats. New conflicts have emerged in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine in which the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel lobbies hope to capitalize for profits and power.
Yet the cumulative costs of past and continuing wars hangs over the launch of new costly military interventions. Political discontent among the US public with past wars also weighs heavily against new wars for profits and Israel.
The power and influence of the military-industrial complex in promoting serial wars is evident in the extraordinary rates of return over the past fifty years. Stocks in military-industries have risen 27,699% versus 6,777% for the broad market according to a recent study by Morgan Stanley (cited in Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19). Over the past three years, Raytheon has returned 124%, Northrup Grumman 114% and Lockheed Martin 149%.
The Obama regime talks of reducing the military budget and makes a show of doing so via the annual appropriation bill, and then, uses emergency supplemental funds to pay war costs… which actually increases military spending and fattens the profits for the military-industrial complex.
War profits have soared because of multiple military interventions in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The lobbyists for the industry use their influence over Congressional and Pentagon decision-makers to join forces with the pro-Israel lobby to pressure for greater direct US military involvement in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The growing ties between Israeli and US military industries reinforce their political leverage in Washington by working with liberal interventionists and neo-conservatives. They criticize Obama for not bombing Syria and for withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan. They call for sending troops to Iraq and the Ukraine. Obama argues that proxy wars do not require heavy US military expenditures. Responding to Wall Street pressure to reduce the budget deficit the Obama regime argues that retreating from Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to reduce US financial and military losses. But withdrawal also reduces profits for the weapons makers and angers Israel and its supporters in Congress.
The Fight over the Military Budget: Veterans versus the Complex and the Lobby
In the face of rising pressure to reduce the deficit and cut the military budget, the military-industrial complex and its Zionist accomplices are heavily engaged in retaining their share of the military budget, by reducing the amount allocated for the medical programs of active and retired soldiers. Disability costs are soaring and will continue for decades. The cost of health care is expected to double to 15% of the defense budget in five years and according to the financial press “that is bad news for defense stocks” (Barron’s, 6/9/14, p. 19).
In response the military-industries are pressing to close Veterans Administration hospitals and reduce benefits, claiming fraud, incompetence and inferior service. The same corporate warlords and lobbyists who pressed the Government to send American soldiers to wars, in which they lost lives, limbs and mental health, are now in the forefront of the fight to reduce spending on their recovery and health. Economists point out that the less the percentage of the military budget spent on veteran’s health, the greater the share allocated for missiles, warships and war planes. The long term costs for VA medical and disability spending resulting from the Afghan and Iraq wars are at present $900 billion and rising.
The corporate warlords are pressuring Congress to increase co-pays, enrollment fees and deductibles for veterans enrolled in public health plans.
The fight is on over Pentagon expenditures: for soldiers health or weapons programs that fatten the profits of the military industrial complex.
The rats in Foggy Bottom and the White House will have to become increasingly adaptive
The rat, among mammals, is one of the most successful animals on the planet. Cunning, ruthless, competitive and above all adaptable — it is able to change its habits quickly as needed to accommodate the situation it finds itself in.
When it comes to foreign policy, the US government is swarming with rats.
Just look at the situation in Iraq. The US invaded the country in 2003, claiming it was a rogue nation that had, or was trying to develop, “weapons of mass destruction.” When it became clear that this was a lie, or at best, simply not true, the stated motive for the invasion was changed to “regime change,” and the goal became “bringing democracy to Iraq.”
The US and the key US corporate news organizations loved Maliki when his party won the largest block of seats in the first parliamentary election in 2006 and he became prime minister. As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius crowed at the time, after the votes were in, “The most important fact about Maliki’s election is that it’s a modest declaration of independence from Iran.” Ignatius quickly went to the US ambassador at the time, Zalmay Khalilzad, for a comment, and Khalilzad, a neoconservative linked to the National Endowment for Democracy, obligingly told him, “His reputation is as someone who is independent of Iran.”
Khalilzad had worked assiduously (almost rat-like, one might say) behind the scenes to build a coalition of Kurds, Sunnis and Shia politicians opposed to the incumbent prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari (who was seen as Iran’s man), in order to back Maliki’s ascendancy.
In 2010, the US again backed Maliki, supporting him for a second term even though the initial results of the voting gave a plurality to his challenger Ayad Allawi. Using heavy-handed tactics and his control of the judiciary, Maliki essentially stole that election. He did this with the approval of the US Embassy which, in 2010, was still, if not controlling the country, a major player.
Shift to the present Iraq national elections. The US, during the campaign, was clearly backing Maliki’s virtually assured re-election as prime minister. Indeed, an April 30 article in the New York Times — a steadfast voice for the Washington foreign policy establishment, hailed the parliamentary voting underway as a triumph. As reporters Tim Arango and Duraid Adnan wrote:
“Millions of Iraqis voted for a new Parliament on Wednesday, defying threats from Islamist extremists, in an election that was carried out, by Iraq’s brutal standards, in remarkable peace…
“The election, the first nationwide vote since the departure of American troops more than two years ago, was seen as a referendum on Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s eight years as prime minister as he seeks his third term amid a growing Sunni insurgency that has brought the country to the edge of a new civil war.”
On May 19, after the votes were all counted (at least those in Shia regions), the Washington Post, another stalwart backer of the US foreign policy establishment, reported on the victory of Maliki’s party in the elections saying:
“The US Embassy in the capital welcomed the result, calling it ‘another milestone in the democratic development of Iraq.’”
But along the way to Maliki’s re-election plurality, something happened: a lightning-fast military campaign by Sunni insurgents, backed by a population that was furious over several years of violent attacks and repression by Maliki’s police and military, and an opportunistic separatist move by Kurds in the north, suddenly put even Baghdad at risk.
Suddenly the rats in Washington, seeing their “man in Baghdad” as vulnerable, and their rickety construct in Iraq as facing collapse, aren’t so committed to democracy in the place, and are “adapting” to a new political environment.
As the Wall Street Journal reported this week:
“WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation’s Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape. The U.S. administration is indicating it wants Iraq’s political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections…”
Democracy for Iraq? Oh that was so yesterday. Today the issue is combating the Sunni insurgency, and keeping Iran from gaining further influence over Baghdad.
Whatever one’s opinion of Maliki — and the truth is he has been a fairly typical Middle East strongman, brutally surpressing the Sunni minority on behalf of his Shia backers, and also playing hard-ball even against those Shia politicians who would be his rivals, including having them arrested — betrayal of allies noble and vile has of course been a long tradition in Washington. So has dropping any pretense of supporting democratic elections. The US backed elections in the Palestinian territories until Hamas won handily in Gaza, at which point Washington just stopped talking about democracy there, and backed Israel’s policy of turning the place into the world’s biggest concentration camp, starved of water, fuel and food.
In Ukraine, the US backed so-called “orange revolutions” and democratic elections until it decided to back a right-wing coup that drove the elected prime minister out of the country.
As the US continues to find itself increasingly challenged around the globe by countries that feel less and less intimidated by an overstretched US military, and as the dollar keeps losing ground as a reserve currency, making economic sanctions less and less potent as a tool of coercion, the rats in Foggy Bottom and the White House will have to become increasingly adaptive if they hope to continue to infest the globe as they have since the days of the Cold War.