Wednesday 2 June 2004

The Neocons' War

Relax, because now we're allowed to talk about the real reason for the Iraq war

by Justin Raimondo

Uncle Sam wants YOU to die for big business In detailing "the conservative crack-up" over the Iraq war, E. J. Dionne writes:

"The isolationist conservatives around Pat Buchanan cannot understand why we went to war in the first place – and they opposed it from the beginning. These conservatives speak explicitly about the 'costs of empire,' much as the left does. They argue that globalism is really 'globaloney' and that being an empire is incompatible with being a republic."

Actually, that's not true. We "isolationists" – conservatives and libertarians alike – understand all too well why we went to war. As Pat Buchanan put it in the run-up to the invasion:

"We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people's right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.

"… They charge us with anti-Semitism – i.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith, heritage, or ancestry. False. The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a 'passionate attachment' to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what's good for Israel is good for America."

Buchanan named names, tracing the development of the "what's good for Israel is good for America" doctrine to the influential sect known as neoconservatives: ex-leftists who defected from the Democratic party in the 1960s and 1970s over the Vietnam War, and wormed their way into top GOP policymaking circles, eventually winding up in charge of George W. Bush's foreign policy.

He cited "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a 1996 policy paper co-authored by Richard Perle (up until recently, head of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board), Douglas Feith (today Undersecretary of Defense for Policy), and David Wurmser (Vice President Dick Cheney's top Middle East policy advisor). The realm in question is Israel, and the report was presented to then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The paper argued that Israel had no choice but to break out of its old policy of containing the threat to its security and go on the offensive: delivering a knockout blow to Iraq was deemed imperative in order to secure a stranglehold over Syria, which is depicted as the main danger to the Jewish state. The road to Damascus runs through Baghdad, or so the theory went, and now George W. Bush has implemented the first phase of that plan – with Perle, Feith, Wurmser, and their neoconservative confreres egging the President on, and berating him every time he seems to go wobbly.

This theme – that an Israeli-centric foreign policy is the real reason for this war – was not looked on with favor when the shooting began. But a year later, by a simple process of elimination, it is the only rational explanation left standing.

They said it was "weapons of mass destruction" in Saddam's possession, and, when those failed to turn up, they fell back on Iraq's alleged responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. When that canard was debunked, however, the War Party was reduced to claiming that Saddam's tyranny alone was sufficient as a casus belli, and that their real goal – their primary goal – is to spread Democracy, Goodness, and Light throughout a region still mired in the Dark Ages. The unwillingness to call elections any time soon, however, along with Abu Ghraib and Paul Bremer's propensity for acting like a dictator, soon disabused all but the most gullible of such hifalutin' notions.

That left only the truth, and it is this: Israel is the chief beneficiary of this war, with Bin Laden coming in a close second. We have opened up an Eastern front on Tel Aviv's behalf, not only eliminating a secular Arab opponent of Israel, but also pressing the Syrians to kowtow to a nuclear-armed Israel, sending tremors through the rest of the Arab world. No sooner had we taken Baghdad, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made his move, ingesting whole hunks of the West Bank under the guise of a "withdrawal," and blithely ignoring muted criticism by the U.S. State Department as his government subsidized yet more "settlements" on Palestinian land. A "Wall of Separation" was built – with U.S. taxpayers' money – to underscore the Likudniks' contempt for world public opinion, and especially American public opinion.

Looked at in purely geopolitical terms, the war in Iraq is diverting the energy, resources, and focused hatred of the Arab "street" away from the Israelis and toward – us. In undertaking what promises to be a project of many years, the U.S. invasion has shifted the balance of power – already weighted in Israel's favor, thanks to massive American military aid – decisively and perhaps permanently in favor of the Israelis. Bristling with weaponry, including nuclear arms, and not shy about mobilizing its international amen corner to aggressively defend its interests, Israel is fast achieving the status of regional hegemon.

Israel seems to be the one exception to the new U.S. theory of global preeminence – what might be called the Wolfowitz Doctrine, since he was one of the first to put it in writing – that no power should rival U.S. hegemony in any region of the world.

Now, it is fair to ask, why is that? But not everyone thinks it's fair, or even decent, to ask any such thing.

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